Baseball is back and if that doesn't send your heart soaring, well, there's not much we can tell you. We'll give you free pass (you can't see it, but we're holding up four fingers) and blame it on faulty parenting.

Opening Day always makes us think of our favorite baseball stories and our favorite baseball people – and no, it doesn't seem right that our old pal, the late Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, isn't around to give us the skinny. But Nick really liked this story:

The scene: Standing behind the batting cage one Sunday morning in 2003 at the old Yankee Stadium, catching up with the great Don Zimmer while the Yankees' reserves took batting practice before a matinee get-away day game against the Texas Rangers.

Former Red Sox catcher John Flaherty, by then the Bombers' backup backstop, playing about once a week as Roger Clemens' personal catcher, stepped in for his first round of BP. It did not go well. Lots of balls left in the cage.

His second round may have been worse. Flash was steaming when he stepped out of the cage, tearing at his batting mitts as if they were to blame. Zimmer was doing his best not to laugh. Unsuccessfully. Then we started to laugh and a smile finally crept across Flaherty's face.

"Just not feeling it today," Flaherty said. "But the good news is I have five days to figure it out."

And that is one of the infinite reasons why baseball is the best. Even analytics can't suck out all the fun. 

Is it safe?

Remember the movie "Marathon Man" with Dustin Hoffman and Laurence Olivier? Remember the scene where Olivier breaks out the dental tools to interrogate – well, torture – Hoffman, asking him over and over whether it's safe? Pretty chilling, even by dental standards.

So, let's make it safe, starting with boating.

Toward that end, the Cape Ann Flotilla is presenting a boating safety course for beginners -- It's All About Boating Safety -- on May 4 at the Essex Police/Fire Department complex at 24 Martin St.

The course, which is set to run 8 a.m.-5 p.m., will touch on subjects such as boating law, boat safety equipment, safe boating, navigation, boating problems and others.

According to the flier from the Coast Guard Auxiliary, the course will provide the knowledge needed to obtain a boat license or safety certificate. It also might get you a discount from your boat insurance company, so bully for that.

The cost for the course is $35. Interested boaters should contact Ralph Milroy at ralphmilroy1@gmail.com or 978-356-4029.

Taiwan on

Speaking of the Coast Guard, here are a couple of other items:

This spring, the Coasties will conduct a port access route study for Massachusetts and Rhode Island to evaluate the need for establishing vessel routing measures – a study that, at least partially, is prompted by the proposed development of the massive wind farms south of Martha's Vineyard..

"Potentially, seven distinct offshore renewable energy installations (wind farms) could be constructed, each with its own number size and type of wind turbines, and distinct turbine layout," the Coast Guard said in its notice in the Federal Register.

So, there you go: even more safety stuff for your dining and dancing pleasure.

Finally, the Coast Guard and the Navy went into flex mode last Monday when they sent two vessels sailing through the Taiwan Strait, much to the chagrin of the Peoples Republic of China, which lodged a protest that still is being reviewed in the booth.

According to The Japan Times, the USCGC Bertholf joined with the Navy destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur on a tour of the 110-mile wide strait that separates China and Taiwan.

"The two ships conducted a routine Taiwan Strait transit in accordance with international law," Lt. Joe Keiley told the newspaper. "The ships' transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific. The U.S. will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows."

According to the National Interest website, the Bertholf is the cat's whiskers.

"Bertholf is the lead vessel in the new class of large cutter," stated the piece posted on nationalinterest.org. "Bertholf roughly is the size of a frigate."

The cutter clocks in at 418 feet in length and displaces 4,600 tons of water. It's weaponry includes a 57-millimeter cannon, a 20-millimeter Phalanx self-defense gun and machine guns, a MG-64 helicopter and at least one drone.

"Bertholf's deployment proves that the U.S. Coast Guard also can deploy its own sophisticated vessels on missions with military significance," according to the piece on The National Interest's website.

Stoked for scallops, worried about wind

Kevin Stokesbury, fisheries oceanography professor at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, has been knighted as the scallop whisperer for his work in helping to rebuild the scallop fishery. Stokesbury also has helped perform groundbreaking research in the groundfish sector with a video survey system that can help count fish without harming them.

The Providence Business News, where we go for all our fishing news, did a nice interview with Stokesbury last week, with one of the questions delving into the effects of wind-turbine development on the marine environment.

"We know that things are going to change. The proposed wind farms along the Atlantic Coast are huge, the largest in the world. The sea floor in these areas is quite homogeneous, except for Cox's Ledge, and they support a marine ecosystem based on that sea floor and the structure of water currents over them. Developing the wind farms will add hard structures, hundreds of small islands, throughout these areas. This will change the environment, structure and the associated flora and fauna of the area.

"There is no overall scientific framework to coordinate the different scientific research or push for more understanding. Right now, it seems to be a debate between doing the best science versus doing enough to check off a box for an environmental-impact assessment. Everyone wants the development of sustainable energy, but you do not simply want to replace one form of sustainable energy harvest, fisheries, with another, wind. Rather, you want both to exist, reducing our dependency on non-renewable resources."

As always, no fish were harmed in the making of this column.

Contact Sean Horgan at 978-675-2714, or shorgan@gloucestertimes.com. Follow him on Twitter at @SeanGDT.