Play Ball! Bases are loaded and Casey’s at bat . . .
By George Schmok
Besides it being Easter time and spring and besides the fact that April is Landscape Architecture month, one of the things I like most about this month is it ushers in the new season of baseball. That’s right, the boys of summer are back and dare I say that I like the Angels’ chances of taking it all the way to the World Series . . .
Now, since the boys of summer are actually starting things off in spring, I can’t help getting enthusiastic about the upcoming season. New things always spring out of Spring and this season looks like it will carry on that tradition . . .
In a sense baseball is living in a parallel universe with the development industry. Ok, it’s a stretch . . . But just as ‘Baseball’ is fighting off a plague of superstars admitting to using steroids, so this business is fighting off the plague of mortgage superstars admitting to making bad loans.
In both cases the loss of confidence by the public has sent the two professions scrambling to counter balance the bad news with news of progress and gamesmanship.
Yep, I think it’s time to begin keeping score again. You know . . . Housing starts down, resales up, permits up, put-in-place down, interest rates down, inventory down . . . To me that’s 4 to 2 in favor of growth for the profession.
Sure . . . I know there are a bunch of other factors and statistics floating around. Who knows what the score will be tomorrow. But a few months ago the economy was pitching shutouts almost every day, with a few no-hitters thrown in for good measure.
Today, however, we are starting to swing the bat and get a few men on base. While the year-to-year stats are down in most categories, the month-to-month stats are showing signs of stepping up to the plate.
Take these three tidbits . . .
Privately owned housing units authorized by building permits were 3% higher in February than in January.
Privately owned housing starts were 22.2% higher in February than in January.
Privately owned housing completions were 2.3% higher in February than in January.
While all three categories are lower than in February of last year, they are now showing signs of month-over-month growth. Even builder confidence, which hit an all time low in January, rose a point in February.
Stalwart growth? No, not really. Growth? Absolutely.
You know . . . None of those figures had to go up. They easily could have continued their trend downward. Listening to the president or the news media I’m surprised anyone is getting out of bed these days . . . But they are!
In baseball, ticket sales are down, contract dollars are down, new stadiums are on hold . . . Heck, even Manny Ramirez settled for only $40 mil . . . Yet, fans still go to the games, the pitches are still thrown and the sponsors are still pitching their wares in new and imaginative ways . . .
Yep, it is time to begin to pay attention to the new season and the opportunities to drive in some runs or bring in some funds. The public always steps back in the wake of controversy. Still, they also pack the park when the teams begin to win.
So, as we enter into the months of spring and spring into the months of summer, take a few practice swings, do your warm-ups every day, loosen up that throwing arm and get into the game. You can bet the competition is tired of spring training and ready to start the season with
a bang . . .
So . . . Here’s to a solid season ahead . . . Play Ball!!!
George Schmok, Publisher