From Left Field

    Decatur long ago earned the label of "Tree City." And probably before the summer of 2012 we'll have another 700 or so reasons to point to.
     City Forester Dwight Pierce announced last week that the city has received a $30,000 grant which will be used to purchase some 600 trees to be planted around the city. Another 88 trees were bought with $4,000 from the city’s Storm Water Department.
    Actually, many of the new trees will be replacements as Pierce and aides get the last of the city-planted ash trees removed. The ash trees were purchased and planted along city sidewalks in earlier years through the city's tree program. Nearly all, however, have since fallen victim to the Emerald Ash Borer and need to be removed.
    Pierce said there are about 131 ash trees still standing out of an estimated 750 the city previously planted. Most of them are smallish in diameter. "It (the borer) seems to favor the bigger trees," he said. Only two ash trees over 18 inches in diameter are still standing in the city, one on Master Driver and the other on Ninth St.
    Some sites in parks and along streets have had ashes removed and are awaiting new trees. Roughly 100 trees have been planted in just the past few days.
    "We want to replace all of them (ash trees). Even the ones that look healthy," he said.
    Pierce figures that the vast majority of the trees purchased through the grant will be planted this fall and next spring. He said it takes about a week to get 100 or so trees in the ground.
     Likely 300 to 350 of the grant trees will be larger trees (maybe 12 feet tall) and the rest smaller; the smaller ones will go in wooded areas to replace ashes.

Hoops and la
    Okay, can we forget basketball for awhile now? Big games — as in lots of folks are watching and the NCAA and TV making lots and lots of money — night after night after night are making life difficult. Time to get back to watching the calmer Cubs and living a more peaceful life.
    No matter your favorite, you have to feel sorry for those Butler guys. They scrapped like bulldogs, challenged like Bulldogs ... and shot like Bulldogs. When 6-11 guys can't lay the ball in from underneath, something's going on. Forty-one points? That wouldn't win a lot of high school girls games. The Fredette kid (Why would you name your son Jimmer?) could get that many in a game by himself.
    The Butler shooting has spurred a sick joke now making the rounds: If the Butler players had been in the Texas School Book Depository Building in Dallas, JFK would have lived a full life.
    Some want to blame fatigue. How could anyone be fatigued with five or six — or eight or nine, or 19 or 20 — commercial stops in every 20-minute half? Plus a halftime that's seemingly longer than a good movie.
    If anyone's fatigued, it's from all the standing around waiting for the commercials to run their course.
    Just think, without the commercials, you wouldn't be able to string a 40-minute basketball game out over 150 or so minutes.
    And a few other thoughts on hoops:
    • When Barnum said a sucker is born every minute, was he referring to those who pay over a hundred dollars to sit at the top of a football stadium and try to discern what's going on among the little people playing basketball below?
    • How can anyone possible play solid defense when everyone — pros, college, even high schools — is allowed to "travel." You know, take three, four, five steps without dribbling the basketball? Makes it tough on the defender when the person with the ball can just run on by. Traveling is called about as often as three-second lane violations, another forgotten rule.
    • Speaking of rules, how about adding this one: two timeouts per team in the final five minutes. With all the TV timeouts, coaches rarely need to call for one so they hoard 'em for the final few minutes. Then, due to all the timeouts and lengthy commercials, it takes longer to play the final few minutes than it does to win a jackpot in Vegas?
    • If you want to denigrate the women's game, okay. But if you watch it with an open mind, you'll find some exciting stuff. Action with no dunking and no proliferation of three-point shooting ... sort of the way the game used to be played.