Now that another Preakness has come and gone, it's time to move on to our next major sports event -- Ducks vs. Tens. Today, in a six-game challenge match at two Baltimore bowling alleys, three of the best tenpin bowlers in the country face three of the top duckpin bowlers. It's like a match race between champions of turf and dirt. It's Cal against the King and His Court, Greg Norman playing miniature, Steffi Graf facing the world's pingpong champ. You gotta love it.
Danny Wiseman, Wayne Webb and Bob "Mr. 300" Learn Jr., all major title holders in town for the Pro Bowlers Association tour, will roll against duckers Mitch Lewinski, Don Dove and Jeff Pyles, all of them with averages in excess of 150. The match, organized by the Mid-Atlantic Bowling News, starts with three games of big ball at 1 p.m. at Country Club Lanes on Pulaski Highway, followed by three games of ducks at Eastpoint. Total pinfall wins. There's no prize money -- it's just for fun, hon, and it oughta be.
A tear in my beer
The city just posted a red condemnation notice on the Peabody Book Shop and Beer Stube, 913 N. Charles St., and the neighbors have been told that cultural landmark is due to be razed. A decade after the death of its colorful proprietor, Rose Hayes, the once-popular book shop-tavern -- roost of Baltimore bohemians, artists, beat poets, musicians (not to mention H. L. Mencken and F. Scott Fitzgerald, once upon a time) -- is coming apart and coming down. My look through the front window Saturday revealed the leftovers of the good old days -- books and papers and assorted junk. Too bad someone didn't come along after Rose's death to revive the place. Somewhere the ghost of the Great Dantini weeps.
Cal's house, Clint's street
What's doing at Cal's house? Our favorite shortstop's valley manse appears to be undergoing some serious renovations, just a few years after the Ripkens moved in. . . . Clint Eastwood is scheduled to make a movie, "Absolute Power," here this summer. We hope someone will convince him to make a zip trip to Eastwood Drive in Northeast Baltimore. The folks there love the big guy and have been calling their street Clint Eastwood Drive for years.
It's fair, but it's wrong
On the summer day when five people were killed by a car at a Woodlawn bus stop, Raymond Haney was driving his Mazda MX6 between 30 mph and 50 mph in a 30 mph zone. Most witnesses believed he was traveling at the high end of that range -- and I bet I know why they believed that -- though an accident reconstructionist could not confirm any specific speed.
So Haney was acquitted of vehicular manslaughter because Baltimore County prosecutors could not prove he had been driving with wanton disregard for life. He hadn't been drinking, hadn't left the scene of the accident and hadn't been driving faster than 80 mph. Those are the essential criteria for a finding of guilt in vehicular manslaughter.
Now, Raymond Haney lives with five deaths (four of them children) on his conscience, but his only official punishment is $5,000 in fines (for reckless and negligent driving and court costs).
By the law, it's fair. By other measures, it's all wrong.
Those other measures are not legal; they're emotional and instinctual.
Anyone who drives a car on the busy streets of city and suburb knows why the witnesses in the Haney case believed he was doing 50 in a 30: because they have seen others do it, and because they probably speed themselves, if not chronically, at least sporadically. Let's be honest about this: Everyone steps over the line. There should be no shock in hearing that a man under the gun, probably late for work, would hit 50 in a 30 during morning rush hour. Thus, the quiet sympathy for Haney -- many of us have been there, done that, only without the tragic results.
To the aggressive and impatient driver, anyone who observes speed limits -- especially those annoying 30 mph limits -- is considered a commuting cur, and commuting curs get chased through traffic, intimidated, skirted, pushed and cut off.
Is there any question that the pace of life, in general, has accelerated? Is there any question that population growth and suburban development are leading us to longer commutes on more crowded roads? Is there any doubt that the commuting life so many Americans have embraced brings with it more stress, more speed, more pressure, more hostility and ultimately more negligent driving? Have you noticed the number of cars and trucks running red lights? Have you seen cars roaring through residential streets, their drivers oblivious to children? Have other drivers swerved around your rear to pass you in tight places, along a curb, near a bus stop?
We have to resist pinning on Raymond Haney the sins of every maniac driver we've ever had the misfortune to encounter. But having seen what happens on the road every day -- having been chased and intimidated and skirted and pushed and cut off -- it's clear laws need to be changed to reflect the dark change in driving behavior out there. If a driver is shown to be negligent and that negligence results in the death of an innocent, why not call it what it is -- negligent homicide? There ought to be such a law.
Pub Date: 5/20/96