All Star Mania – The Best of The Best, With Some Worst Thrown In

“It’s all about the All Stars.”

It’s the sort of proclamation you’d expect to hear from Fox Sports baseball announcers Jack Buck or Tim McCarver during their coverage of the MLB All Star game. Each year around this same time in early July, baseball mania reaches a fever pitch, as the best baseball players – arguably, in the world – come together for two days to entertain fans with 450 ft. home runs, 100 mph fastballs and two dream teams comprised of the brightest young stars of the future playing alongside the biggest names of the past 20 years.

The All Star baseball stage is a unique one in all of professional sports, if for no other reason than it’s the only venue which gets to enjoy the sports spotlight in the absence of any other competing sports events. With basketball and hockey seasons mothballed for the summer, and football still several weeks shy of training camp, All Star baseball is the only professional game in town for sports enthusiasts in early July. Even Major League Baseball itself shuts down for almost a full week to acknowledge and shine a light on its own event. Thus for this brief period each year, it truly is all about the All Stars. But that’s not where I heard that statement.

Little Leagues, Big Expectations

If you’ve ever coached Little League baseball, as I have for many years, you’d be familiar with the annual process of “drafting” teams. Before the beginning of each season a group of presumably well-intentioned volunteer coaches – aka parents – meet at their local recreation hall after work and pick team rosters from a general list of enrolled players. I have found that it can be a stressful experience since I’ve usually entered this meeting with a few personal goals in mind: 1) I need to draft my kid’s best friend, 2) I need to make sure I remember to draft my own kid, 3) I need to draft a kid whose dad is known to help out, 4) I need to avoid drafting the rambunctious kid, 5) I need to avoid drafting the kid whose parents are jerks, and 6) It would be nice to draft at least one kid capable of throwing a few strikes. The game is less painful when we keep walks-per-inning under 10.

Fortunately, my own personal experience with “draft night” hasn’t been all that bad. I’ve seen the occasional disagreement over the selection of players (e.g., “Mrs. Smith asked me to pick Johnny, so we can car pool together.” Oh, are you sure it has nothing to do with Johnny being 5’11” and throwing 72 mph fastballs?). But for the most part the meetings were uneventful and just terribly long.

But I remember one specific draft night, which was attended and coordinated by one of our town’s Little League Committee members. At the end of the three-hour meeting, as we were exiting the conference room and still joking about who had picked whom, this committee member leaned over to me and whispered, “These regular season drafts don’t mean anything anyway. It’s all about the All Stars.” Bingo.

The Boys of Summer

As big as the MLB All Star extravaganza is, the Little League All Star season creates a mania that’s, quite literally, in a league all its own. The media attention and commercialism surrounding the Little League All Stars is unrivaled in youth sports. The Little League website even termed it, “one of the summer’s most popular sporting events.” And they may be justified in stoking the publicity with that claim. After all, Little League and ESPN are in the 6th year of an 8-year contract that will televise 66 games on either ESPN or ABC in August. Those are pretty big stakes, especially for a bunch of 11-and-12-year-old kids playing America’s pastime.

So it’s no wonder that in small towns and hamlets all across America, the mania begins in earnest several months earlier when some of the more overzealous “coaches” – dads – are already entertaining visions of ESPN grandeur even before the first child has been assigned to a roster for the regular season; a roster, by the way, that’s filled predominantly with kids who will never even think about their town’s All Star teams, let alone play on one.

If any of your town’s youth sports organizations are managed by a mentality that believes “it’s all about the All Stars,” or that equivalent thinking, then it’s time to advocate a change in that group’s leadership. To say “it’s all about the All Stars” is to say it’s all about a few kids, and not all of the kids. And this flies in the face of what the experts and prevailing wisdom on youth sports suggest, which is that below age 14, it should be all about inclusion and fun.

Two All Star Games – One Blowout, One Blowup

This year’s MLB All Star game was played in Kansas City on July 10th. That game ended in a blowout with the National League winning 8 to 0. Ironically, on that very same day, another All Star game was played in Columbus, Georgia between two Little League teams vying to advance in the tournament. That game ended with parents arguing, then starting a fistfight, and then two dads being arrested and charged with disorderly conduct. I guess to them, it was truly “all about the All Stars.” A little too much so.

The lesson for us all here should speak for itself. No, the majority of us are not so overzealous and unrestrained that we end up punching out the opponent’s parents at a Little League All Star game. But even the most restrained of us is probably dangerously close to losing perspective as we try and enjoy our child’s participation in youth sports. So just remember, even when you’re watching the Little League World series on ABC this August, youth sports should never be “all about the All Stars.”

Nanny Mania 2 – Hollywood Stars Also Need the Service!

Recently game developers have released the new installment of Nanny Mania series. This time Emma will have a larger family, which means more tasks – and more fun for you! Of course, all the addictions of the first part are preserved!

A vacation for the Super Nanny? Sure! Just a couple more chores to do!

After successfully bringing the house of her previous masters to complete order Emma decided to give herself a break from all the hard work… But she just couldn’t stand seeing her idol Sofia Ashford, the superstar, being called the worst mother ever – so she ventured to Hollywood to offer her services. Unexpectedly for the mother, Emma was able to stay for the next day. And the next. And… Actually, she proved herself to be the best nanny ever (did you doubt that) and moved watched the family grow as Sydney went out of the crib, but the twins have replaced her there. More and more family members, larger and larger houses – the Super Nanny can handle everything. Can’t she?

The game mechanics is basically the same as in the first part – you have a house full of people and messes they create, and your task is to clean everything up before time runs out. The messes are of different types and require different steps to clean. Simple messes like an open cupboard or knocked down lamp require just a single click, while other will take more to complete. For example, the laundry needs to be taken first to the washer, then to the dryer and only then to one of the dressers. The same for the babies’ needs and cooking – several steps, each taking time.

Timing and planning ahead is very important in the game. For example, you’ll need to start the laundry first thing in a level in order to complete it in perfect time and get a bonus. Plus there are a number of possible chains that can give you additional time, like collecting all the trash and putting it to the bin in one go, or vacuuming all the dust at once. There are also some things for which you might get a time penalty, like leaving a baby hungry for too long or letting the papparazis spy on the house inhabitants. What is also great here is that you can (and should) queue the actions ahead, and the queue length is unlimited. This way you’ll be able to make sure your Nanny doesn’t stop waiting for your direction and losing precious time. And if, for example, you need to do something urgently, you can at any moment cancel the whole queue with a single right-click, and then create the new, better planned queue.

Tip: don’t forget to include a cup of coffee for Emma to the queue – and get a speed boost.

Every several levels you’ll be able to purchase upgrades for the house, like new cleaning means or better technical options. That makes your life a bit easier, and, as the houses become larger, children grow up and new family members appear, that will be very much appreciated!

So, will you prove you can handle all the mess? The challenge begins in Nanny Mania 2!

Christmas and Winter Online Slot Machines

Slot machines are the most popular form of casino entertainment, both at land-based and online casinos. The main categories of online slot machines are classic 3-reel slots, 5-reel and 7-reel video slots, interactive i-Slots, and progressive jackpots. This article summarizes 5 online slot machines that have Christmas and winter themes, including Cabin Fever, Ho Ho Ho, Jingle Bells, Rudolph’s Revenge, and Santa Paws.

Cabin Fever is a 5-reel, 20 pay-line slot from Microgaming that has a winter theme. It accepts coins from 1¢ to 50¢, and the maximum number of coins that you can bet per spin is 200 ($100). There are 37 ways to win, a top jackpot of 5,000 coins, wilds (Wild Blizzard), scatters (Squirrel), and 20 free spins. To win the 20 free spins, you need to hit two Sun symbols on reels 1 and 5. Symbols include Wild Blizzard, Squirrel, Television, Cherries, Plums, and Oranges.

Ho Ho Ho is a 5-reel, 15 pay-line slot from Microgaming that has a Christmas theme. It accepts coins from 1¢ to 50¢, and the maximum number of coins that you can bet per spin is 150 ($75). There are 32 ways to win, a top jackpot of 15,000 coins, wilds (Santa), scatters (Gift), and 20 free spins. To win the 20 free spins, you need to hit three or more Gift symbols on the reels. Symbols include Santa, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Turkey, Christmas Tree, Eggnog, and Pudding.

Jingle Bells is a classic 3-reel, 5 pay-line slot from Microgaming that has a Christmas theme. It accepts coins from 25¢ to $5.00, and the maximum number of coins that you can bet per spin is 5 ($25). There are 9 ways to win, a top jackpot of 6,000 coins, and wilds (Bells). Symbols on the reels include Bells and Holly.

Rudolph’s Revenge is a 5-reel, 50 pay-line progressive slot from Real Time Gaming that has a Christmas theme. It has a fixed coin size of 4¢, and the maximum number of coins that you can bet per spin is 50 ($2.00). There are 21 ways to win, wilds (Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer), scatters (Bomb), and 7 free spins. To win the 7 free spins, you need to hit three Bomb symbols on the reels. Symbols include Bound Santa Claus, Rudolph, Gifts, Bomb, and Snow House.

Santa Paws is a 5-reel, 20 pay-line slot from Microgaming that has a Christmas theme. It accepts coins from 1¢ to 25¢, and the maximum number of coins that you can bet per spin is 200 ($50). There are 40 ways to win, wilds (Santa Paws), scatters (Penguin), and 12 free spins. To win the 12 free spins, you need to hit three or more Penguin symbols on the reels. Symbols include Santa Paws, Rudolph, Seal, Owl, Fox, Ace, King, Queen, Jack, and Ten.

So there you have it, five online slot machines that have Christmas and winter themes. Whether you play slot machines in Las Vegas or at your favorite online casino, decide beforehand how much you want to spend during your gambling session and don’t exceed the spending limit should you lose.