Roughly Speaking Dan Rodricks: Commentary and conversation on life in Baltimore, Maryland and the USA

Rodricks: Zeke Cohen gets the Willie Don Bull-by-the-Horns Award

Nobody asked me, but ... back in the day, when William Donald Schaefer was mayor of Baltimore, he would have called James DeWees, the sheriff of Carroll County, immediately upon hearing of the sheriff’s fear-induced recommendation that Carroll public schools suspend field trips to the city because of the crime problems here. Schaefer took every knock against Baltimore personally, and he confronted critics. When he was governor of Maryland, he showed up, unannounced, in The Baltimore Sun lobby, looking for me, furious about something I had written. I know this because the officer at the security desk left the following message on my answering machine: “Mr. Rodricks, there’s a — what is your name, sir? — Governor Schaefer here to see you.”

So, if we had a Willie Don Bull-by-the-Horns Award, I’d give it to Baltimore City Councilman Zeke Cohen for taking on Sheriff DeWees, inviting him to Fells Point for breakfast and a talk. A week later, Carroll’s schools superintendent announced the lifting of the ban on field trips. Props to Cohen. That’s leadership.

Nobody asked me, but … if there’s a more cheerful person in Baltimore than the delightful woman who takes lunch orders at South Street Cafe near the Inner Harbor, that person would most certainly have to be tested for performance-enhancing drugs.

Nobody asked me, but … it would be lovely to see Manny Machado move to shortstop and play his entire career with the Baltimore Orioles, courtesy of the big, open wallet of the team’s wealthy owner, Peter Angelos. Of course, it would also be lovely to see skipjacks made of marmalade sailing over the city, dropping Berger cookies shaped like oysters — but you’d have to be high to believe it’s going to happen. All I can say is, if the Orioles trade Machado, they better come up with some amazing pitching, or they can wave bye-bye to a whole lot of goodwill and probably a pile of MASN money. With all the viewing choices available by streaming — the second season of “The Crown” is upon us! — there are fewer and fewer reasons (some might say none) to pay for cable. As a matter of fact, the Orioles-controlled Mid-Atlantic Sports Network is the only reason a lot of people have cable. While the Orioles still have relatively strong ratings on MASN, viewership dropped 24 percent last season, according to the Sports Business Journal. With no Manny, and no pitching to make the Orioles a real contender — 2018 marks 35 years since Baltimore had a World Series — then a cable bill becomes harder to justify.

Nobody asked me, but … I think the tradition of saying, “God bless you” immediately after a co-worker or stranger on the bus sneezes is in its last generation. It’s going to die off — like handwritten thank-you notes and principled Republicans in Congress.

Nobody asked me — because, around here, we all know this right? — but … the Ravens-Steelers rivalry is a rivalry that’s almost unrivaled.

Nobody asked me, but … based on my recent observations, almost no one pays attention to “No Right on Red” signs anymore.

Schadenfreude is the German word for the feeling of satisfaction derived from the misfortunes of others — in this case, that of the drivers of German-made automobiles on Interstate 70. While I was heading east in the stretch from Frederick County to Howard County, two Volkswagens — first, a Touareg, and a few minutes later, a Passat — zoomed up to the rear of my car like X-Wing Starfighters, made one of those ridiculously sudden maneuvers into the left lane, narrowly nicking my bumper, and flew off at 90 mph easy, maybe more. Pretty reckless for rush hour. But a few minutes later, what do I see? First, the Touareg, then, a few miles later, the Passat — both stopped for speeding by Maryland state troopers in their fine Stetsons. … Das wunderbar, baby.

Nobody asked me, but … I don’t think panhandlers should ask for more than they receive. Nor should they be scolded for trying to do so. Happened to me the other day on Centre Street in Mount Vernon. A woman got a dollar out of me for the bus, then asked if I could match my own gift. One more dollar would get her on the bus, she said. To this, I tut-tutted and wagged a finger and told her she should be grateful for the buck, and immediately felt like a jerk. Ignore them, or even resent them. But we don’t get to scold and lecture people who beg on the street and sometimes sleep there.

Then there was Tony, who gave me a pleasant holiday greeting, then hit me for food money in front of the courthouse on Calvert Street. I gave him what I had in my pocket — a quarter, a dime and a nickel. Tony grunted and took the change. “Sorry, but I almost never carry cash,” I told him. “You should,” he said. “It’s the holidays.”

drodricks@baltsun.com

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