More good Christmas music (12/31/20): The end of the year

Every day until New Year’s Day I’m selecting tunes or carols you won’t hear on FM Radio but they are certainly deserving of airplay. Because the Christmas season continues.

Today, a twin spin.

First, not a holiday tune, but arguably it could be, especially today.

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For regular readers you know how I appreciate the music of our military bands.

The Airmen of Note is the premier jazz ensemble of the United States Air Force. Stationed at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington, D.C., it is one of six musical ensembles that form The U.S. Air Force Band. It was created in 1950 to continue the tradition of Major Glenn Miller’s Army Air Forces dance band.

This rendition isn’t exactly Guy Lombardo.

Happy New Year!

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Check in for a final installment tomorrow(Friday).

Photo of the Year?

Why 2020 Is a Special Year - Holidappy - Celebrations

Tough to narrow down to just one. But I really like this.

Blue Angels F-18 Hornets fly over Mount Rushmore during a Salute to America celebration hosted by the state of South Dakota July 3, 2020. The Blue Angels, based out of Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla., were part of the DoD’s participation that also included aerial flyovers by the B-1B Lancer from the 28th Bomb Wing, Ellsworth Air Force Base; South Dakota Air National Guard F-16s Falcons from the 114th Fighter Wing, Sioux Falls; and HH-60s Black Hawk helicopters from Company C, 1-189th Aviation Regiment, in Rapid City, S.D. Additionally, bands from the Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colo., and the South Dakota National Guard’s 147th Army Band, Mitchell, S.D., provided musical entertainment. The events celebrated the 244th year of the Independence of our Nation and provided the DoD an opportunity to demonstrate the capabilities and professionalism of the Armed Forces. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Cody Hendrix.

And another. Photo: Tech. Sgt. Jette Carr/Air Force

THE TOP TEN FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2020: #2

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Fans of Franklin High School football have been mighty spoiled for a long, long time. I’ve lived here since 1992 and as an avid follower of high school athletics I recall the Sabers consistently, annually fielding a talented squad.

The 2020 season was supposed to be beyond special. Franklin had another high octane offense fueled by a star quarterback. And the defense was rock solid. The Sabers were ranked as high as #2 in the state, behind only the state defending champions from neighboring Muskego who had knocked Franklin out of the state playoffs in 2019.

So much promise, so much optimism, only to be snuffed out, and not by an opponent on the field. Watch the video in this report from WMTV in Madison and especially pay attention to the comments of a senior player from Edgewood High School. I’m sure the Franklin players felt the same way.

So, to repeat, the WIAA opted to put teams into regional pods of eight within their division to reduce travel. Then there would be two weeks of postseason play, regional championships to mitigate the risk of spreading COVID-19.

The timeline for the end of Franklin football this season

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 6, 2020: The Franklin High School Football team drills crosstown rival Oak Creek, 35-3 to end their regular season undefeated.

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 7, 2020: Very early in the day the WIAA announces Franklin will play in a special 4-team tournament beginning November 13 with a game vs. Menomonee Falls. There are no state playoffs this year. The other two teams in the bracket are defending state champions Muskego and Hartland Arrowhead.

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 7, 2020: Franklin Public School District Administrator Dr. Judy Mueller sent a notice to Franklin High School families that read in part:

We have been monitoring our metrics that relate to the spread of COVID-19. At this point, the number of positive staff and student COVID-19 cases at Franklin High School has reached the 3% level of high concern, and we are moving forward with virtual learning for the next two weeks. 

IN-PERSON STUDENTS

Effective Monday, November 9th, Franklin High School, including athletics and in-person activities, are temporarily suspended for the next 14 calendar days.

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 7, 2020:  I broke the news that the WIAA announced on its website that Franklin is forfeiting its November 13th game vs. Menomonee Falls, ending Franklin’s season.

After this news broke the Franklin school district announced the high school was going virtual for 14 calendar days starting Monday, November 9, and that all athletics were suspended. So a reader wanted to know:

Does this still happen with the shut down? Per their post no athletics. Just curious and truly don’t know.

I responded.

I posted the WIAA info before Franklin school district made its announcement which reads, in part:

Effective Monday, November 9th, Franklin High School, including athletics and in-person activities, are temporarily suspended for the next 14 calendar days.

My guess: Franklin can’t and won’t be playing on the 13th. They forfeit to Menomonee Falls who would advance in the tournament.

And that turned out to be the case. Outrage across Franklin ensued.

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 2020: Over the weekend questions were raised as to who was involved in the decision to cancel athletics. Franklin Mayor Steve Olson wrote on social media, “To be accurate, our Heath Officer has been off today but did consult with the (school) district in their decision.”  Olson maintained this was a school district matter and decision.

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 2020: I sent the following inquiry: Larry Gamble, you are president of the Franklin School Board. I respectfully ask: Do you have a comment about the school district’s abrupt decision to make FHS go virtual for two weeks, but more specifically suspending athletics for 14 calendar days, essentially ending the football team’s undefeated season and depriving them of the opportunity to play in one, possibly two tournament games?

Gamble finally sent a response many hours later.

Kevin, thanks for contacting me. By now many people have seen the TMJ4 interview and Franklin parents got the letter from the Administration. I understand the heartbreak of these players however our district developed the metrics to keep our students safely in the classroom before we returned to school. We listened to our families and came up with an effective plan. Up to now, it was working but timing can be fickle, and now is when the metrics triggered a short term converting to virtual learning. I stand with the Administrators who worked diligently to have our schools open and developed a plan to keep our students and staff safe. It’s not an easy decision, but it is the safe decision.

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 2020: Jason Kazmierczak wrote the following to the Franklin School Board:

The decision by the the Franklin Public School administrators to end the High School Football Season and potentially rob several other state qualifying athletes (Swim & Dive) is shameful and not backed by any scientific basis. Our Franklin Sabers, the #2 Ranked team in the state in Division 1, has, at this point, had to forfeit their game this Friday after amassing an undefeated season and doing all that was asked of them. If you have been around Franklin you know that the team has participated in the WIAA Playoffs every year for the last 19 years, making 3 Championship appearances, winning a State Title in 2006. You are robbing this capable group of hard working athletes of there opportunity to be part of this legacy. These athletes have worked much of their lives preparing for this run at a state title. If they are to be eliminated, let it be on the field to another quality team and not because a bunch of bureaucrats made them forfeit. Let the athletes move ahead on their efforts not bureaucratic apathy! This team has earned this opportunity and should be given the choice to compete!

Jason Kazmierczak

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 2020: Lance Allan did a report on this issue on WTMJ-TV’s 6:00 PM news. In the report Franklin football player Jarrick Miller said, “See I don’t want to take that opportunity away from them, but it is a little frustrating to know that swim and the school play get to continue when we’ve also done our part, and we don’t get that same opportunity.”

Franklin Athletic Director Jordan Hein explained why football is shut down and girl’s swimming is allowed to continue to state.

“The WIAA designates football as a high-risk sport, it’s a contact sport, it’s got a large roster. You cannot effectively play football, and maintain social distancing. Swim is designated as a low-risk sport. It’s a non-contact sport. You’re in a chlorinated pool. It’s difficult, I know it’s hard because we want equity. But I also believe that it’s my role to advocate and do my best to present and provide opportunities for all of our students and this is my next play.”

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 2020: Franklin’s Board of Health holds a meeting and hears from angry parents. Some accuse Mayor Olson of not caring about the students and is more concerned about his weight. Olson says he was slammed with some of the most vile comments he’s ever heard during his time in office. He says the school district made the right call.

TUESDAY EVENING, NOVEMBER 10, 2020: Dr. Mueller sends another notice to Franklin families:

At 4:30pm this afternoon, I was informed by the Franklin Health Department that they have issued
 a Health Order to cease all extra-curricular events (including all athletics and activities) at Franklin High School to prevent further COVID-19 transmission. This comes following our recent decision to temporarily close Franklin High School for in-person learning as was shared with FHS families on Saturday.

As the Health Order states:

  • Extra-curricular events (including all athletics and activities) at Franklin High School are to cease effective November 9, 2020. 
  • This order will remain in effect for the duration of the virtual learning period at Franklin High School or until a superseding order is issued.

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 11, 2020: The Franklin School District flip-flops.

2020-11-11 FPS Statement for Media


FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 13, 2020:
Franklin forfeited to Menomonee Falls, 1-0. I blogged, “Decision to cancel Franklin football is far-reaching.” Reactions to my blog:

Dave Sopolinski This is a great point. I follow college recruiting primarily in the south (Lifelong Miami Hurricanes fan) and yes this can be the difference from a D1 offer to a MAC school vs D3 unfortunately.

PK HartjeKevin Fisher- exactly. The ramifications could be huge. This was brought up to all. No comments provided by those who should have the best interests for our children. Being a parent that has been a part of recruiting processes, what this could mean for some of the boys is that the potential missed highlight could make the difference between a coach at the next level to pick up a player. For example if a player was being recruited by a D2 school and a D1 was on the fence, it could pull the D1 to present an offer. This is why when the mayor stated that the 2 games don’t matter, many parents became very upset. We also know that childhood suicide is in the rise since the start of social isolation, this was also addressed in the mental health conversations however again, no comment about mental health.

Catherine Doll Myers (her son is Levon Myers). I can’t imagine how this might have changed the life of my son if this had happened when he was playing Sabers football (Class of 2012, Full D1 Scholarship, NFL contract.) I feel so badly for all of the families affected by this virus and these decisions.

Former Franklin Alderman and Milwaukee County Supervisor Steve Taylor also weighed in on social media:

Judy Mueller, superintendent, made a unilateral decision and the school board sat on their hands and did nothing. Every elected was silent and didn’t fight for these athletes. They didn’t call for a special meeting. They didn’t say this was unacceptable. They didn’t hold a press conference or put out press release. All they did was cover each others asses. Based on my conversations with numerous parents who supported me in the past I can tell you that a revolt is coming. In Franklin, sports trumps everything and it doesn’t matter whether you are a Republican or Democrat. Those who didn’t back these kids will pay a price. That you can take to the bank.

Here are some pictures from the Journal Sentinel taken at the WIAA girls swim tournament at Waukesha South that show Brookfield East celebrating. This is the kind of experience the Franklin football team was denied:

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The bottom line in this sad story: Franklin High School’s talented, unbeaten football team’s road to a tournament was derailed, ruined by their very own school district.

THE TOP 10 FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2020

1) ?
2) FRANKLIN SCHOOL DISTRICT PUNISHES FOOTBALL
3) MILKMEN ARE CHAMPIONS!
4) FRANKLIN CANCELS FUN
5) FRANKLIN IS TOO NOISY
6) IMPRESSIVE OPENINGS
7) FRANKLIN POLICE SAY NO TO MILWAUKEE
8) OLSON VS. RYAN
9) THE SPACE TO BE
10) THE PARADE BRIGADE



THE BEST COLUMN OF 2020: A MUST-READ: Four Months of Unprecedented Government Malfeasance

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Heather Mac Donald of the Manhattan Institute writes a blunt, blistering indictment of government officials, asserting they’re guilty of rampant, devastating misconduct during a turbulent 2020.

Here’s an excerpt from this must-read column:

Over the last four months, Americans have lived through what is arguably the most consequential period of government malfeasance in U.S. history. Public officials’ overreaction to the novel coronavirus put American cities into a coma; those same officials’ passivity in the face of widespread rioting threatens to deliver the coup de grâce. Together, these back-to-back governmental failures will transform the American polity and cripple urban life for decades.

By now, the collapse of government legitimacy is complete. For three months, public officials abdicated their responsibility to balance the costs and benefits of any given policy. They put the future of hundreds of millions of Americans in the hands of a narrow set of experts who lack all awareness of the workings of economic and social systems, and whose “science” was built on the ever-shifting sand of speculative models and on extreme risk aversion regarding only one kind of risk.

The public officials who ceded their authority to the so-called experts were deaf to the pleas of law-abiding business owners who saw their life’s efforts snuffed out. They engineered the destruction of trillions of dollars of wealth, through thoroughly arbitrary decision making. And then they stood by as billions more dollars of work burned down.  The failure to quell the riots means that more are inevitable.

Mighty powerful stuff. This lengthy piece, adapted from a lecture given by Mac Donald, is outstanding, and well worth your time.

Take a look.

Today’s highly interesting read (12/31/20): 2020: The Year We Lost Our Common Sense, Courage and Civil Liberties

Minnesota Lockdown

Today’s read is from author and journalist Robert Bridge. Here’s an excerpt:

The draconian lockdowns, the worst of which are centered on Democratic-controlled states, were specifically designed not to contain a contagion, but to foster as much anger and frustration among the general population in the most consequential presidential election in many decades. After all, unhappy people have a tendency to vote out their leaders whom they believe are responsible for such dire circumstances. And with the mainstream media almost totally in the Democratic anti-Trump camp, placing the blame on the president has proven no difficult task.

So where do we go from here? Now that we have reached the end of 2020, will the situation begin to improve? Will political leaders begin to loosen the screws and let some semblance of normality return once again? Or will people be forced to rise up and demand the return of their freedom and liberty?

Read the entire column here. It’s a dandy.

Goodnight everyone, and have a noisemaker weekend!

BECAUSE THE NEW YEAR HOLIDAY FALLS ON A FRIDAY THIS FEATURE IS BEING POSTED TONIGHT.

Every Friday night we smooth our way into the weekend with music, the universal language. These selections demonstrate that despite what is being passed off as art today, there is plenty of really good music available. Come along and enjoy.

This week we have one more musical Christmas card for you.

Christmas?

That’s over with, right?

Well, Christmas Day is, but the Christmas season is not as my wife can tell you.

So, tonight, selections that may not even mention Christmas, but are still perfect for Christmas and post-Christmas Day.

We’re going to start with my favorite Christmas piece. I’ve loved it since I was a child.

In 1946 Leroy Anderson and his wife were in Woodbury, Connecticut, spending the summer in a cottage. There was a heat wave and drought. Despite the surrounding atmosphere he started composing a Christmas classic.

Anderson completed “Sleigh Ride” in Brooklyn on February 10, 1948. “Sleigh Ride” received its premiere on May 4, 1948 with Arthur Fiedler conducting the Boston Pops Orchestra at Symphony Hall in Boston.

The word “Christmas” is never mentioned in the lyrics. Yet nearly 70 years after it was written, “Sleigh Ride” is one of the 10 most popular pieces of Christmas music worldwide, year after year.

From a 2001 CD sold exclusively in Hallmark stores when it was released, The London Symphony Orchestra and The London Voices.

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Of course in order to ride in a wonderland of snow you have to have some snow.

And now we’ve got some.

If this next album/CD isn’t in your collection it needs to be.

The Christmas Album by the Manhattan Transfer in 1992 was arranged by Johnny Mandel, and became one of the five best selling Christmas albums on Columbia – the label with the largest Christmas catalogue.

It’s just perfect. The singers did their rendition of swing band leader Claude Thornhill’s theme song, “Snowfall” from 1941.

Listen to an amazing arrangement that adds even more beauty to a light, lovely, dropping of snow.

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The following is incredible.

Peter Tchaikovsky’s ballet, “The Nutcracker” debuted on Dec. 18, 1892 in St. Petersburg, Russia.

That’s more than 125 years ago this month.

Tchaikovsky, the famous Russian composer, was commissioned by mastermind choreographer Marius Petipa to compose the ballet, score based on Alexandre Dumas’s adaptation of E.T.A. Hoffman’s tale “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King.”

The first production of The Nutcracker in Russia bombed. Critics didn’t like it.  Audiences weren’t thrilled, either.

Then the ballet moved to the United States for performances in 1944. By 1954, sudden popularity.

You know the wonderful story.

During a holiday party a young girl named Clara is presented with a beautiful toy nutcracker from her strange uncle. Clara is delighted with the unusual present until her brother becomes jealous and breaks it. Her uncle magically repairs the toy to Clara’s delight. After the party, she falls asleep clutching it. Her dream then begins. She awakens suddenly, stunned by the events she sees happening in her living room.

The Christmas tree has grown to an enormous size and life-size mice are scampering around the room. Fritz’s toy soldiers have come to life and are marching toward Clara’s nutcracker, which has also grown to life-size. A battle is soon underway between the mice and the soldiers, led by the giant Mouse King. The nutcracker and the Mouse King enter an intense battle. When Clara sees that her nutcracker is about to be defeated, she throws her shoe at him, stunning him long enough for the nutcracker to stab him with his sword. After the Mouse King falls, the nutcracker lifts the crown from his head and places it on Clara.

She is magically transformed into a beautiful princess, and the nutcracker turns into a handsome prince before her eyes. The prince bows before Clara, taking her hand in his. He leads her to the Land of Snow. The two dance together, surrounded by a flurry of snowflakes. He transports her to the Land of Sweets where they are entertained.  They witness several dance performances including the Spanish Dance, the Arabian Dance, the Chinese Dance, and the Waltz of the Flowers. Clara and her Nutcracker Prince then dance together, in honor of their new friends. Clara awakens under the Christmas tree, still holding her beloved nutcracker.

It’s a marvelous spectacle about the magic of Christmas.

Again, if this isn’t in your collection it must be. From the Milwaukee-based Narada label, wonderful instrumentation, released in 1990.

Here are lush portions of the Nutcracker: Overture, March, Children’s Galop, and Pine Forest.

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First lady Melania Trump watches as ballerinas perform a piece from “The Nutcracker,” as the White House Christmas decorations were unveiled on Nov. 27, 2017. Photo: Carolyn Kaster / AP

Claire Robertson from Scottish Ballet poses dressed as the Good Snow Flake inside a lifesize snow globe during a promotion for their production of The Nutcracker on November 20, 2012 in Glasgow. (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

There are only two famous songs about New Year’s.

One is obvious.

In 1788 Robert Burns sent the poem ‘Auld Lang Syne’ to the Scots Musical Museum, claiming that it was an ancient song but that he’d been the first to record it on paper. The phrase ‘auld lang syne’ roughly translates as ‘for old times’ sake’, and the song is all about preserving old friendships and looking back over the events of the year.

It has long been a much-loved Scottish tradition to sing the song just before midnight. Everyone stands in a circle holding hands, then at the beginning of the final verse (‘And there’s a hand my trusty friend’) they cross their arms across their bodies so that their left hand is holding the hand of the person on their right, and their right hand holds that of the person on their left. When the song ends, everyone rushes to the middle, still holding hands, and probably giggling.

The other New Year’s song has been recorded by numerous artists and I can attest to the nervousness implied.

What will she say?

This is one of the best versions in my view, by vocalist Bobby Caldwell and saxophonist Boney James.

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That’s it for this week, and the year.

Goodnight.

Sleep well.

Have a great weekend.

Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!

This Sunday the Epiphany will be celebrated.

The great feast of Epiphany honors the adoration of Jesus by the wise men (magi) from the East. The magi’s coming to Jerusalem in order to pay homage to the king of the Jews shows that they seek in Israel, in the messianic light of the star of David, the one who will be king of the nations.

We close with contemporary jazz pianist Bob Baldwin and vocalist Corvina Nielsen.

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Two 2020 expressions that need to go away

They both infuriate me.

The first is the ubiquitous sentiment, most annoying when rattled off by local TV people when referring to the scourge of 2020, the pandemic:

“We’re all in this together.”

I’m not sorry when I react that no, we’re not.

Personally, I am NOT in this together with looters, violent protesters, BLM, fascists, socialists, lockdown crazed governors, power-hungry un-elected health directors, arrogant maskholes, any and all Karens , Dr. Fauci, Fauci’s disciples, anti-Trumpers, wussy Republicans, educrats  who refuse to open their schools, teachers who desire staying home and working in their pajamas,  phony Hollywood celebrities, fraudsters,  cheaters, fraud deniers, the liberal news media that lectures us that we are all in this together, the vast majority of college and university professors, public defenders, most millennials, snowflakes, Bear and Viking fans, Starbucks.

I would also venture to say that many liberal-minded folks would tend to agree that “We’re all in this together” just flat out isn’t practical.

Let’s not forget there are those who monetarily can at least handle the virus and those who are simply too poor to put up any kind of a fight. As many as 48 million live below the poverty line. How many more live paycheck to paycheck before they, too, find themselves in true poverty. There communities that aren’t affluent. Not even close. The evicted and those who are about to be. The homeless. Those with limited or no access to health care. Those working and those who are unemployed, desperately waiting for checks to arrive.

Milwaukee business leader Joe Sweeney wrote a guest editorial for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

I’ve heard it at least a hundred times, and I still don’t buy it: “We’re in this together.” It’s the new tagline in every commercial, whether they’re selling BMWs or baby wipes. Drive around greater Milwaukee, and you’ll see this comforting message on billboards and handmade lawn signs. As we struggle in a state with a high rate of new COVID-19 cases and our ongoing racial unrest amplified by nationwide protests, “we’re in this together” is a welcome, even noble sentiment. Except it’s not true. it’s a fabrication. Fake news maybe?

I’ve lived and worked in this city for most of my adult life, and I can’t recall a time when we’ve been more divided than we are today, and this staggering pandemic has done little to bring us together. If anything, it’s widened the distance between left and right, liberal and conservative, Republican and Democrat, black and white.

Lady Gaga's sexy legs

The great philosopher Lady Gaga told Jimmy Fallon, “I… think that the fight that I’m in—or that you’re in, right?—is very different than the fight of a woman that is in, perhaps, an abusive relationship and has a child and lost her job and can’t feed her kid and can’t feed herself and also can’t get the help that she needs because she’s in a violent situation. We’re all in this together was a tricky statement because… I want to honor that that woman is not in the same fight that I’m in, and I want to help her fight that fight.”

“We’re all in this together,” said Gaga, was “a tricky statement because… I want to honor that that woman is not in the same fight that I’m in, and I want to help her fight that fight.”

“We’re all in this together” ranks in sincerity with the pimply-faced kid at the fast food joint who with an icy stare tells you to “have a nice day.”

The other expression, not as nauseating, but it still drives me nuts

There many variations, but it generally starts out like this:

INSERT SOMETHING EXTREMEY POSITIVE, such as, “Gee wouldn’t it be nice if the Packers humiliated the Chicago Bears with a blowout butt-kicking.” It’s eventually followed by how nice the preceding mention of the greatest thing since sliced bread would be because we desperately could use the phenomenal news since, you know, the year 2020 and all.

We all know what 2020’s been like and don’t require reminder #4,837. Can’t we just welcome said positivity without the doom and gloom? And this has been going on for 9 months.

The cynic in me says it’s typically the message of a Trump hater. We’ve got this virus. It’s Trump’s fault. He hasn’t done enough. And even if we get a morsel of good fortune it’s not nearly enough because we’re still suffering thanks to…Trump.

Cue Auld Lang Syne.









THE TOP TEN FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2020: #3

June 24, 2019.

After numerous meetings, public hearings, debates, discussions, and on-the-record votes, it was clear that at the home opener of the inaugural season of the Milwaukee Milkmen in Franklin’s Routine Field, project organizers had one component they couldn’t control: the weather.

Field 2

Fans began arriving as early as 4:00.

But then shortly after 5:00…

Clouds

The skies opened, and how, for awhile.

There was hope, however.

Rainbow

There was a noticeable buzz and excitement inside the ballpark, despite cloudy skies, rain showers, gusty winds and cool temperatures.

Four hours and seven minutes after the first pitch the Milkmen lost to the Gary South Shore Rail Cats, 3-2 in 11 innings. That mattered little to enthusiastic fans. Franklin had witnessed what for so long seemed so impossible: minor league baseball in a brand new beautiful facility.  What a memorable day,  even with the pesky dark clouds.

A very loyal fan base had to endure a season of struggles as the Milkmen could only muster a 38-62 record.

Things just had to be better in 2020, right?

A rough start

In April the Board of Directors of the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball announced they were postponing the start of the 2020 regular season, which was scheduled for May 19.               .                

“The American Association looks forward to the day when we can safely re-open our stadiums to our fans and provide entertainment and social interaction,” said American Association Commissioner Joshua Schaub. “However, we will not jeopardize the safety of our fans, staff, players, umpires or vendors and will abide by all national and local restrictions when determining if we can open in early July.”

The league then decided in June to begin a six team, 60-game season with fans in attendance on Friday, July 3. The season would operate out of three hubs, with games hosted by the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks, Milwaukee Milkmen and Sioux Falls Canaries. Each team would play 42 of their 60 games in their hub to limit travel. The schedule would (and did) allow any of the three road clubs to return home for games if local governmental restrictions allowed for games with fans in attendance. Teams that participated in the 2020 season were based on cities allowing for fans in attendance at stadiums, geography, and the COVID-19 restrictions that persist in certain American Association cities.

ROC Ventures and the Milwaukee Milkmen released their readiness plan for a return to play on May 22nd after receiving local government approval. This included a “socially distant” seating plan to allow for plenty of space between groups, an emphasis on cashless payments, increased cleanings and hand sanitizing stations, and health screenings prior to entry to the stadium, among several other precautions and preventative measures.

Certainly the team had reason to be optimistic

Their 28-man offseason roster featured three players who had previously appeared in MLB, six players with Triple-A experience, four players with Double-A experience, three with high-A experience, two players who had played full-season A-ball, and three players who appeared at the short-season or rookie-level of the affiliated minor leagues.

Throughout the season the Milkmen remained within striking distance of the top spot in the standings and that was critical as the league announced it would shift to a seven-game series to determine the 2020 American Association Champion. It was the first time in league history a playoff series would be determined in a seven-game set. Previously, all playoff series had been a best-of-five format.

“2020 has been a unique season, to say the least,” said American Association Commissioner Joshua Schaub. “The American Association has been able to safely host high-level professional baseball at our ballparks and in front of fans since early July. We are excited by how the playoff race is shaping up and we want to reward the two clubs who earn post-season berths, along with our fans, by playing a seven-game series to determine the champion this season. As far as we are concerned, the more baseball the better.”

The Milkmen were not the most explosive scoring team in the league, but could play stingy defense and had great pitching.

On September 6 the defeated the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks 3-2 in 11 innings to clinch a playoff spot.
in the process. The victory coupled with the St. Paul Saints win against the Winnipeg Goldeyes gave the Milkmen a five-game lead over the three-way tie for third place with just four games to play sealing the first playoff berth of 2020.

A few days later the Milkmen split a doubleheader against Winnipeg but still clinched the top spot in the American Association season standings and the number one seed in the American Association Finals. They were set to take on the Sioux Falls Canaries in a best-of-seven series to decide the 2020 Champion.

The playoffs

Game 1 was played in Franklin where the Milkmen jumped on the Canaries, scoring six runs in the bottom of the first inning to win 11-6.

The Milkmen took a 2 games to none lead in the series after blanking Sioux Falls, 2-0.

Game 3 and the series moved to Sioux Falls but the result was the same. Milkmen 10, Canaries 5. One more win was needed to win the championship.

But there would be no sweep. In Game 4 the Canaries held on for a 5-3 win, forcing a Game 5, again in Sioux Falls.

On September 17, the Milkmen beat Sioux Falls 4-1 to claim the 2020 American Association Championship by winning the series 4-1. The Milkmen saw a strong outing from starting pitcher David Holmberg who worked 7.1 innings and allowed just one hit and one walk while striking out eight batters.

The win marked the Milkmen’s first American Association title after joining the league just one year ago. In their inaugural season in 2019, they finished 38-62 and missed the playoffs. This year, Milwaukee posted the league’s best regular season record going 34-26.

Celebrate champions and heroes

September 19 at Franklin’s Umbrella Bar:

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From L-R, former Franklin Alderman and former Milwaukee County Supervisor Steve Taylor, Kyla Fischer, Franklin Mayor Steve Olson, and Kevin Fischer standing next to the Miles Wolff Trophy, symbolizing the Milwaukee Milkmen’s American Association 2020 Championship.

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From L-R, Catcher Christian Correa, Milkmen owner Mike Zimmerman, Kyla, Milkmen Manager Anthony Barone, and Kevin.

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Kevin and Jennifer with Brett Walker, a Milwaukee native, who was named the Player of the Year in the American Association.

Image may contain: 3 people, including Jennifer Fischer, people standing and outdoor

Kevin and Kyla with Outfielder Brett Vertigan, Co-Defensive Player of the Year.

And Pitcher Peyton Gray was selected as Rookie of the Year.

A big victory OFF the field

The Milkmen organization followed all recommended safety guidelines. Staff at the ballpark wore gloves and masks in the stands. There was a significantly reduced capacity in the stands, down 35 percent from 4,000 seats to 1,500 with social distancing.

It was announced at the Milkmen Championship ceremony that Milkmen owner Mike Zimmerman was informed by the Franklin Health Department  that during the entire Milkmen season at Franklin Field there were no cases of COVID-19 that resulted from baseball played there. The team and the city health department collaborated to make the 2020 season the safest ever and are to be congratulated for their efforts.

THE TOP 10 FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2020

1) ?
2) ?
3) MILKMEN ARE CHAMPIONS!
4) FRANKLIN CANCELS FUN
5) FRANKLIN IS TOO NOISY
6) IMPRESSIVE OPENINGS
7) FRANKLIN POLICE SAY NO TO MILWAUKEE
8) OLSON VS. RYAN
9) THE SPACE TO BE
10) THE PARADE BRIGADE










Today’s highly interesting read (12/30/20): Fixing virtual failure

Today’s read is from a good friend, former WI Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch. Here’s an excerpt:

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all of Wisconsin, but the hardest hit may be those least able to absorb the blow: children. The lasting effects of the pandemic will remain an undercurrent of our society and government for generations. The move to virtual and blended K-12 education models has been a source of academic blight…The long term risks of shutting kids out of in-person schools outweigh the risks of allowing them to learn in classrooms.

Read the entire article here.