A Closer Look …


with Anthony Newcombe  

Let’s take a closer look … 

Area:  Education and college students 

Issue:  What can be expected from the “college fallout” due dramatic loss of revenue from the Covid-19 pandemic.  In other words, how do parents of soon to be college students even know which ones will even exist next fall and beyond? 

I hear you folks.  It’s unbelievable what has already taken place over the past 5-6 months in 2020.  Physically, mentally, financially, politically – and otherwise – we all seem to be holding onto our last fiber of sanity (of course, assisted by evening nips of our favorite adult beverage!)  But, how are we supposed to have confidence in the whole process? I mean, does anyone actually have a clue as to what the future of (campus) college holds? Q: When is the SAT/ACT? A: They aren’t counting them this year. Q: What?

However, for those of us who have already sent our kids off to college (many peers, relatives, and good friends), are currently trying to figure out where, and if, we should plan to send them for Fall, 2021 (yours truly). Or, how about the ones who are still trying to figure out the navigation process through the remainder of middle or high school (many others), it’s on all of our minds.  I mean, how could it not? 

We ask, “Will we receive our money’s worth?” Or, “Will the college(s) of our students’ choice even be solvent and open for business when we are ready?”  Basically, we need to know “Who will survive?” I mean, none of us want to go through the rigorous process of college applications – only to see an abyss staring at us all on the other side, correct?!  Are any of the political voting experts also doing “survival polls for colleges?” Something like “Such and such university has a 56% chance of going belly up by 2022 – according to polls at Hanesvillestenber College in Delaware.” Seriously, aren’t many of these colleges already equipped from all of the political forecasting? Quinnipiac? Siena? Bueller? Hello! Anyone?!

And, how do we quantify this process going forward?  Does “virtual learning” equate to the same annual costs as “on campus?”  What’s my R.O.I. (Return on Investment) these days?  Are we poised to get ripped (off)? It’s really something to examine much further. The reason is, if you’re on the college side, you want and need every dollar you can come up with, right?  But, that’s not where we are.  We are on the “other side of the equation.”   Where’s our safety net?

And, damn it, I just don’t know how we can see the value in the 4-year programs like old folks saw many decades prior.  We might need to put our Econ 101 hats on and try to get a grip on what we are now being expected to do. Q: How do we remain both empathetic and business intelligent while educating our offspring? 

Do YOU have any ideas? 



A Closer Look … Baseball, meet Covid


with Anthony Newcombe

Let’s take a closer look

Topic: PLAY BALL!! (just don’t spit or argue…and get Covid tested often!!)

Issue: Can baseball players really refrain from spitting?! Or, arguing? Or …

I guess it’s a valiant effort to think we can “field” a troupe of MLB players and count on them to refrain from spitting before, during, and after a game. However, do you think it’s perhaps a bit far-fetched we can achieve such a lofty goal? 

I mean, these guys (I do know a little bit about them) have been “takin’ a dip,” “puttin’ in a chaw,” and otherwise hockin’ loogies since practically tee ball. In fact, I could tell you some stories about guys who filled up 2-liter soda bottles with the “after-sauce” of Apple JackSkoalCopenhagen, or … well, take your pick, big boy.  

The point is that a good argument can be made that spitting is just as (if not more) linked to baseball than both apple pie and hot dogs are to the American culture. Baseball players spit … period.  Even the ones who don’t chew tobacco.  It’s part of the game folks. 

To add insult to injury, players will also be commanded to “not argue” with the field umpires and be available for plenty of Covid testing. Baseball and testing?! C’mon, man! Did you see what happened during the (steroid era) 90s and early 2000s? Again, testing and baseball haven’t mixed too well in the past. Let’s just leave that argument for a different day. 

Okay, so even if we can clear the above hurdles, we must also understand that, in lieu of screaming and adoring fans, the stands will be filled with … cardboard cutouts of fans. Yes, I said it, cardboard! If ever there was a reason to spit on something, this may be it.  

In this technological age, couldn’t we have come up with something more life like? How about holograms that are programmed to behave like regular fans? Or how about cartoons of fans who drink gallons of beer, scream obscenities at the top of their lungs, and hurl batteries (and other unmentionables) onto the field – without provocation?  Sounds kind of fun, huh? 

Or, how about this? How about making the holograms, well, (fake) spit! That way, the players will feel more at home for the opener … wait a second, did the rules committee just tell baseballers that they can’t adjust their, uh, “pant legs” either?  What is this world coming to?!! 

What do YOU think? 


Seriously though, stay safe my readers! 

A Closer Look …


with Anthony Newcombe

Topic: Lockdown (and its aftermath plan)

Issue: Is an “Around the World Itinerary” next?

After this lockdown ends (sometime before the end of time, I imagine), I’ve decided to book a trip around the world. Who’s with me?! Nope, just pulling your leg, but sounds pretty tasty, huh?

It’s just that, you know, being a lifelong “travelin’ man,’ I’m struggling with the “everyday backyard scene.” No, it’s not quite Groundhog Day, but pretty close.

In fact, I just posted a video of what appeared to be my full grown, ash tree uprooting and exiting my backyard. For reals…I think.

Okay, maybe it was my imagination or something. Anyhow, the point is that we are at the point of, well, seeing fleeing trees! And, no, it’s not worth the risk of contracting anything outside the home, but it’s something to take a closer look at, right?!

And, until then, I guess the only outdoor fun will be watering the plants…Woo….Hoo.

Hang in there, my friends. And I’ll try the same.

Let us know how you’re doing out there


Photo credit: BAN Solutions/ BAN Consulting ©2020 (presented in ‘cartoon style’)

A Closer Look …


with Anthony Newcombe

Let’s take a look under the hood…

Arena: Sports & Cheating

Topic: Why do we seem to care more today about cheating in sports?  

I know a little bit about professional sports. In fact, without getting too far into the weeds, let’s just say I practically grew up in professional locker rooms, dugouts, and on and off fields, diamonds, and courts. However, since this op-ed is about something else and not about me, let’s just dive right in and get to the bottom of the matter.  

Recently, we have been inundated (much more so than usual) with television/ radio shows, and online debates focusing on the issue of “cheating in professional sports.”  In them, pundits rave and rage about how horrible it is that the Houston Astros (allegedly) stole signs in order to win a World Series Championship in 2017. They go on to argue that these same Astros (allegedly) continued to cheat in subsequent years – and perhaps, even as recently as just last year.  

Some of the so-called “experts” have gone on to encourage the Astros’ owner and company to forfeit their trophy.  Some have even encouraged the same trophy to be stripped away and awarded to the team(s) the Astros defeated on their way to the ultimate prize in our national pastime. I’m not so sure that would ever happen nor solve anything. 

Like you, I’ve noticed that many of the Astros players have been showered in spring training with “boos” (and probably some “booze” too) and have been beaned by opposing pitchers of other teams in the major leagues.  I suppose the surrounding world is not amused. 

Rather than lending my opinion as to the guilt and/ or innocence of this team and its players, I’ll look instead at the bigger picture of cheating in sports itself to ask the following: “What took so long for the general public to rebel against professional cheaters in sports?” 

Did we forget the MLB steroid scandal? How about “spy-gate” in the NFL? Or, “deflate-gate“? How about Pete Rose‘s lifetime exile for betting on baseball games? Cycling’s Lance Armstrong and the doping scandal that circled throughout the French Alps? Each of the above scandals must have played at least some part in obtaining more than a few world championships, right? Or, a few home run titles? Or, at the very least, yielded someone a few endorsement bucks and press in the end? After all, if there were nothing to gain by doing it, they wouldn’t have done it in the first place, right?  

I recall as a kid hanging out one day in one of the aforementioned ballparks and overhearing a few old timers whining over a deck of playing cards about the old N.Y. Giants (allegedly) using spies in the center field scoreboard of the Polo Grounds to steal signs and forward them to the Giants team in the home team’s dugout. These guys claimed this is what ultimately led to Bobby Thomson’s “Shot Heard Round the World” to send the Giants to the World Series in 1951. Who really knows, right? I tell ya’ though, it was one heck of a story for which to be a fly on the wall!  I know. 

Question: Did we really care that any of the above even happened when it happened? The answer is: YES, of course we did! The only difference is that we are now in a totally different sports (and pundit) environment than we were in the past. I suppose the rise of the internet and the constant 24/7/365 sports news cycle has made quite a difference. Also, perhaps many of the shows mentioned above likewise encourages us to speak up and share all of our collective opinions. We already know nothing will change. Still, we insist on knowing more and more about every little detail! 

Nevertheless, the fact remains it is nothing new. Cheating (and alleged cheating, of course) go together like apple pie and Chevrolet. I can hardly count the times when a favorite team of mine lost a big championship and the first thought that entered my mind was, “If it wasn’t for that bad call by the ref in the 2nd quarter, we would’ve won, damn it!” Again, it’s as American as the 4th of July and fireworks. It’s a part of the game, folks! Losing always sucks and always will continue to suck … whether there is cheating or otherwise. 

Regrettably, though, something has really changed now. We have lost our ability to lose a game (or a series of games) and simply tip our cap to the other team and the opposing crowd and retire to our locker room to brood or reflect. We all feel like our opinion needs to be heard. Worse yet, we feel that everything should be stopped, rolled back and the results should be reversed – in our favor, of course! It’s as if the game never ends. There’s always a chance to change the outcome. But, is there? 

Maybe it also has something to do with the seemingly endless video replays and second-guessing that goes on in nearly every major sport now. There is so much tape “under review” that it no longer is a chore to find time to take a leak during a game!  We’ve definitely lost the spontaneity of professional major sports. Even the words I’m writing at this moment is probably in some way a reflection of the same sentiment. I guess what I’m saying is, yes, we still retain the ability to vent and to be heard by an army of unlimited others. Yes, we also have the ability to get attention (or clicks) from others. But, that is all we have. We have no added power or influence to change anything. And, by screaming louder across the table at each other or texting in ALL CAPS isn’t going to change anything … ever! 

In fact, to think that we have any chance to “stop the presses, go back and reverse the results….” is the classic inclination of the short-sighted fanatic – believing that he or she has the ability to compete in the professional sports world.  This has proven by the numbers through the years to be extremely unlikely to ever happen.  That said, if there are ever changes made (and I doubt there will), we’ll all be left to argue and fight it out among ourselves – gaining neither resolution nor contentment in the process. 

What do you think? 

– A.N. 

About our contributor: 

“A Closer Look with Anthony Newcombe” is a 2020 post series that examines “hot button issues” ranging from politics to sports to, well, nearly anything and everything both inticing and current.  Anthony is a 4-time entrepreneur, a published author, narrator, web developer and designer.   

His current book, Sorry, 50 Is NOT The New 30, which is published in English, Spanish, French (with additional languages available later this spring).  All multi-lingual editions are available for purchase via Amazon.comBarnesAndNoble.com, and directly through his proprietary website, Sorry, 50 Is NOT The New 30

Photo property: BAN Solutions/ BAN Consulting ©2020 (presented in ‘cartoon style’) 

All rights reserved

10th year anniversary re-release of book review


of Last Words, by the masterful, late comic genius, George Carlin


Last Words – by George Carlin (with Tony Hendra), 297 pps., 2009 

What I liked about this book 

Okay, full disclosure first.  I am a life-long fan of this man.  Although I never had the opportunity to see him LIVE, I did see many of the HBO specials and listened to many albums from childhood into adulthood.  It is no wonder that he and comedians like Richard Pryor were “joined at the hip” during their first days of comedy. 

Carlin mastered the English language and had a unique (and overpowering) delivery.  He makes mention of his natural “ability” (understatement) to grab an audience and compound the humor on them.  He had an amazing ability to engage with his audience. 

What I disliked about this book 

It sort of got a little slow in the middle of the book.  Though I’m not against slowing the pace to build on the plot, it almost seemed like there was repetition of the same portions earlier in the book.  Perhaps it was either intentional (as reinforcement) or because this book is derived from his compilation of notes.  Nevertheless, my mind wandered a bit – only to be “rescued” by a strong finish. 

To whom would I recommend this book 

I would definitely limit my readership to 18 and  older.  Repeated discussions on the “7 words you cannot say on television,” along with George’s general delivery of all information would be the reasons.  Otherwise, it’s an enjoyable ride for a mature/ adult audience.  It’s easy to miss this guy. 

Any thoughts?