Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Let's begin with the American League.
ALDS - Boston Red Sox vs. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
The Sox have swept the Angels in the ALDS in 2004 and 2007. But this is a much better Angels team who are healthy and ready to play. The Sox on the other hand are banged up especially J.D. Drew and Mike Lowell. But the greatest concern lies with Josh Beckett who was originally slated to start in Game 1 has been pushed back to Game 3 because of a strained oblique muscle. There's no guarantee he'll answer the bell. There is not a lot of optimism in Red Sox Nation. Angels sweep 3-0.
ALDS - Chicago White Sox vs. Tampa Bay Rays
The Chisox can hit the hell out of the ball but the Rays can hit the ball, pitch and catch it. If the Rays can shut down the Chisox power game this will be a quick series. Rays sweep 3-0.
ALCS - Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim vs. Tampa Bay Rays
Both of these are fundamentally sound. Rays manager Joe Maddon worked in the Angels organization for 31 years as a coach before taking the helm of the Rays in 2006. So Maddon knows how Angels manager Mike Scioscia thinks. But Scioscia also knows how Maddon thinks. This will be a great chess match between two strategic thinkers. The Angels in 7.
So now let's look at the National League.
NLDS - Milwaukee Brewers vs. Philadelphia Phillies
The Brewers are an offensive powerhouse with the likes of Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun. But the Phillies have Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins plus Jayson Werth and Shane Victorino. Not only are the Phillies as powerful as the Brewers but their pitching and defense is much better. Outside of C.C. Sabathia, the Brew Crew doesn't have much pitching. Sure there's Ben Sheets but he's been hurting and Sabathia can only pitch on three days rest for so long. Another sweep. Phillies in three.
NLDS - Chicago Cubs vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
The Cubs haven't won the World Series in 100 years. They haven't played a World Series since the end of World War II (that's 1945 folks.) And I don't think they will in 2008. Manny Ramirez has turned the Dodgers into a feared force. But even if Cubs pitching shuts down Manny I believe Andre Ethier will rise to the occasion. There's one other former Red Sox I see making an impact for the Dodgers - Derek Lowe. He is starting Game 1 for the Dodgers and has a habit of pitching playoff clinchers. Don't get me wrong the Cubs won't roll over. In fact, they'll fight tooth and nail. All the more reason Cubs fans will have their hearts broken yet again. Dodgers in five.
NLCS - Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Philadelphia Phillies
Manny Ramirez changes everything. Even if he isn't hitting there's still the possibility he can. Yes, Brad Lidge has been perfect in save situations. But I see Manny being to Lidge what Albert Pujols was to him back in 2005. Dodgers in 7.
2008 World Series - Los Angeles Angels vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
Yes, I see an all Los Angeles World Series. Yeah, Manny hit a walk off HR off K-Rod in the 2007 ALDS. But that was then. This is now. K-Rod has long forgotten that encounter. Angels in six.
Jon Danks and Bobby Jenks combined on a two-hit shutout. The closest the Twins came to scoring was in the top of the 5th when Ken Griffey, Jr threw out the slow footed Michael Cuddyer at home plate.
Both Cal Ripken, Jr and my Dad predicted Jim Thome would hit a homerun independently of one another. They were both right. Thome's dinger was the only run Twins starter Nick Blackburn surrendered. Blackburn pitched just as brilliantly as Danks but made one more mistake than Danks and it made all the difference.
The Chisox are only three years removed from winning the World Series. But they struggled in 2007 with a 72-90 record. So this was a turnaround season for them.
The Twins have nothing to be ashamed of. They lost three of their starting pitchers and their top centerfielder but yet came within a heartbeat of the postseason.
So now there's the tantalizing possibility of an all Chicago World Series. It would be the first since 1906 when the "hitless wonders" White Sox upset the Cubs that won a major league record 116 games in the regular season (the 2001 Seattle Mariners tied that mark). Unlike the 1906 Sox, the 2008 edition led the AL in homeruns. Interestingly, the Chisox carried on without Carlos Quentin who was leading the AL in homeruns when he broke his wrist earlier this month. But the Chisox have plenty of sluggers in Thome, Jermaine Dye, Paul Konerko, Nick Swisher as well as rookie Alexei Ramirez.
Then there's also Ken Griffey, Jr. I didn't think much of the trade to bring him over from the Reds at the trade deadline. He's well past his prime and I thought General Manager Kenny Williams was doing it for sentimental reasons. On the other hand, he still has flashes of his former glory as he did tonight. He is also a positive presence in the clubhouse. It's also hard to begrudge someone who was contributed as much to baseball as Griffey, Jr a chance to play in his first World Series. At the very minimum this is the first time The Kid will play October baseball since 1997.
Monday, September 29, 2008
But most of us have our health and are surrounded by loved ones. OK, you might have the good fortune of knowing at least one person who tolerates your eccentricities. But we have come through another year and are still inhaling and exhaling.
Even in the worst of times there is still beauty to be found in music, streams and a myriad of little momentary things that make our lives worth living.
With that I wish you, Jewish or not, a Happy Rosh Hashanah.
The so-called "psychotically depressed" person who tries to kill herself doesn't do so out of "hopelessness" or any abstract conviction that life's assets and debits do not square. And surely not because death seems suddenly appealing. The person in whom Its invisible agony reaches a certain unendurable level will kill herself the same way a trapped person will eventually jump from a window of a burning high rise. Make no mistake about people who leap from burning windows. Their terror of falling down from a great height is still as great as it would be for you or me standing speculatively at the same window just checking out the view; i.e. the fear of falling remains a constant. The variable here is the other terror, the fire's flames; when the flames get close enough, falling to death becomes the slightly less terrible of two terrors. It's not desiring the fall; it's terror of the flames. And yet nobody down on the sidewalk, looking up and yelling, "Don't" and "Hang on!", can understand the jump. Not really. You'd have to have personally been trapped and felt flames to really understand a terror way beyond falling.
Now Wallace ended his life by hanging rather than jumping. I don't want to be glib in thinking this but if Wallace felt the flames whatever they might have been he must have thought no one could help him put them out.
This forces a one game playoff for the AL Central tomorrow night in Chicago against the Minnesota Twins. The winner flies to St. Peters to face the Tampa Bay Rays. Even though the Twins are on the road I am picking them to win. But if nothing else it's one more night of baseball because it will be a long off season.
I agree that there were many things wrong with the legislation. Any such bailout, regardless of the price tag, encourages the private sector to invest recklessly and take imprudent risks. It would reward bad behavior. The borrow a phrase from my NDP days it is "corporate welfare."
On the other hand, the stock market is plunging 700 points as we speak. I'm afraid this will precipitate a widespread panic which could lead our economy into its darkest hours since the 1930s.
Something has to be done. Whatever it is something about it will be flawed whether in its substance or process. It won't please everyone. It might not even be a particularly good idea. But it might be better than all the other bad ideas out there.
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Like Iran, Venezuela is an oil rich nation. Why do they need nuclear technology unless they plan to threaten the U.S. with it or sell it to an entity who would do harm on American soil?
Venezuela and Russia are becoming downright chummy. Chavez was in Russia last week and last month the Russians sent a naval squadron to Venezuela in response to American aid for Georgia. They are expected to conduct joint exercises before the end of 2008. This cannot be good.
This has all the makings of another Cuban Missile Crisis. Of course, if Obama is elected President he'll want to talk with Chavez and try to deal with the Devil. Methinks Obama will not be a Profile in Courage, blink first and allow Venezuela to go nuclear.
Or we could do the right thing, elect John McCain and put an end to this nonsense.
That's right. For not looking at him in the eye. Here's how the article begins:
I do not like you, John McCain. My feeling has nothing to do with issues. It has to do with common courtesy. During the debate, you refused to look at Barack Obama in the eye. Indeed, you refused to look at him at all. Even when the two of you shook hands at the start, you used your eyes only to locate his hand, and then gazed past him as you shook it.
To quote tennis legend John McEnroe, "You cannot be serious."
As I was reading Ebert's lead paragraph I was thinking about Obama's repeated references to Senator McCain as "John." Well, Ebert writes, "Obama looked at you. He addressed you as 'John,' which as a fellow Senator is his privilege." I seem to recall McCain referring to Obama as Senator. Was this not sufficiently respectful? Somehow I don't think Ebert would have entitled McCain to such a "privilege" had he referred to the Illinois Junior Senator as Barack. He would have been the first to chide McCain for being condescending to The One.
Ebert concludes the article by reminding his wife not to invite McCain to dinner. Of course, this assumes he would have ever considered being in the company of McCain much less extending such an invitation to such a distinguished American. Ebert has descended the depths of disingenuousness.
In 2005, Ebert eviscerated fellow film critic Michael Medved after Medved revealed the plot of Million Dollar Baby. Ebert wrote that Medved was "a political commentator and no longer a film critic." In his article on McCain, Ebert writes, "Obama is my guy. If you are rude to him, you are rude to me." Suffice it to say, Roger Ebert is a political commentator and no longer a film critic.
It's been quite a week. The Twins swept the Chisox at home this week to take over the lead in the AL Central. But then the Twins suffered a let down and lost two games to the Kansas City Royals before winning today. The Chisox have struggled down the stretch losing 9 of their last 12 games but still live to play another day.
Tomorrow afternoon, the Chisox host the Detroit Tigers to make up a game that was rained out earlier in the season. The Tigers were widely expected to make the post-season in 2008 but ended up being the most disappointing team in MLB finishing in the cellar of the AL Central. They have been reduced to a spoiler role. If the White Sox lose to the Tigers then the Twins win their fifth AL Central Title since 2002. But if the White Sox win then they will face off against the Twins in a one game playoff on Tuesday night.
If it comes to that I think the Twins will take it.
The winner of the AL Central will travel to St. Petersburg to face the Tampa Bay Rays in the ALDS.
Fans and players alike didn't move an inch in Miller Park awaiting the outcome of the New York Mets-Florida Marlins game. The game was scoreless into the 6th when the Marlins scored two runs. The Mets tied it in the bottom of the inning on a two run homerun by Carlos Beltran. But the the much maligned Mets bullpen loomed large once again. In the top of the 8th, Wes Helms hit a pinch hit homerun off Scott Schoeneweis to give the Marlins a 3-2 lead. Mets manager Jerry Manuel took out Schoeneweis and put in Luis Ayala. Dan Uggla went deep off Ayala to give the Marlins a 4-2 lead.
The Mets did have some opportunities. Marlins reliever Kevin Gregg had retired the first two hitters in the 8th when Jose Reyes hit a ground rule double. It actually worked against the Mets because had it not bounced over the fence Reyes could have had an inside the park homerun. But then Gregg walked Beltran which meant Carlos Delgado came to bat as the go ahead run. Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez took out Gregg and put in veteran lefty reliever Arthur Rhodes who has given Delgado fits throughout his career. Delgado hit a long fly ball to left but Josh Willingham caught it to end the inning.
In the bottom of the 9th with two outs, Marlins closer Matt Lindstrom walked pinch hitter Damion Easley to bring the tying run to the plate. The Mets were not going out Easley. This brought up Ryan Church. Could Church deliver a miracle for the Mets this Sunday? He put a drive into the ball but it landed peacefully in the glove of Curtis Maybin. Marlins won 4-2 and for the second season in a row the Mets were denied a spot in the postseason. Meanwhile, the Brewers and their fans toasted with Old Milwaukee.
The Mets also said goodbye to Shea Stadium. In 2009, they move across the street into Citi Field. Needless to say, Shea Stadium went out with far less fanfare than Yankee Stadium. But Shea has had its moments since opening in 1964. The Beatles played there in 1965, the Jets won Super Bowl III there in 1968 and the Mets won two World Series titles in 1969 and 1986. Throw in some other concerts and wrestling matches Shea had a good run. I was there last year and its not much to write home about. I'm sure Citi Field will be an improvement.
The question is though whether the Mets will be better in 2009. They collapsed in 2007 with a 7 game lead with two weeks left in the season. Willie Randolph was fired mid-season and replaced by Jerry Manuel. The Mets played much better under him but it wasn't good enough. They had a three and a half game lead with two weeks to go this season. If nothing else, the Mets need to revamp their bullpen. They obviously will pursue Los Angeles Angels closer Francisco "K-Rod" Rodriguez who becomes a free agent at season's end as Billy Wagner is unable to pitch in 2009. But even if they sign "K-Rod" they need shore up their middle relief because Schoeneweis, Feliciano, Sanchez, Heillman and company couldn't do the job once Wagner got hurt. This is why Manuel let Johan Santana pitch complete games in his last two starts for fear the bullpen wouldn't hold his lead.
The Mets have a lot of talent with Santana anchoring the starting rotation, a power trio of Beltran, Delgado and David Wright and role players like Easley, Fernando Tatis and Endy Chavez who made a couple of brilliant plays in left field today. But the Mets are expected to win and somehow I doubt they will stand pat this off season.
Meanwhile, the Brewers travel to Philadelphia to face the Phillies in the NLDS. The Cubs will host the Los Angeles Dodgers in the other NLDS. Both games begin on Wednesday. I'll post my predictions in a couple of days.
If anyone could be called "Mr. Red Sox" it is Pesky. He first put on a Red Sox uniform in 1942. Had their been a Rookie of the Year Award around in 1942 he would have won it as he finished 3rd in MVP balloting that season behind Ted Williams and Joe Gordon of the New York Yankees. He missed three seasons due to WWII but picked it back up in 1946. He finished fourth in MVP balloting behind Hal Newhouser of the Tigers and teammates Williams and Bobby Doerr.
That season the Red Sox went to the World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cardinals would win the Series in 7 when Pesky had his back turned to the plate as Enos Slaughter made his mad dash home. Pesky played with the Red Sox until 1952 when he was dealt to the Detroit Tigers. He ended his playing career with the Washington Senators in 1954.
Pesky managed the Red Sox in the 1963 and 1964 seasons. After a coaching stint with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Pesky returned to the Red Sox in 1975 as a member of the coaching staff. He served as the Sox interim manager in 1980 after the departure of Don Zimmer. In all, Pesky has spent 57 seasons with the Sox either as a player, coach, manager or broadcaster. It was fitting that Pesky was brought into the clubhouse when the Sox won the World Series in 2004 against the same St. Louis Cardinals that had cut his Fall Classic dreams 58 years earlier. Curt Schilling's embrace of Pesky is one of the most enduring images of that long awaited World Series.
What is interesting is that until now Pesky was ineligible to have his number retired. In the old days, you had to finish your playing career with the Red Sox and be in the Hall of Fame. When the Sox retired Carlton Fisk's 27 in 2000 they had a problem. While Fisk was in the Hall he did not finish his career with the Red Sox. In fact, he played with the White Sox longer than he played with the Red Sox. The previous ownership got around that by making Fisk a special VP. While Pesky had a great career he has not been inducted into Cooperstown but the current ownership was wise to lift that silly rule. I mean the right field foul pole is named after him.
Pesky becomes the sixth Red Sox player to have his number retired. The Red Sox have retired the numbers of Bobby Doerr (1), Joe Cronin (4), Carl Yastrzemski (8), Ted Williams (9) and Carlton Fisk (27). The Sox, of course, retired Jackie Robinson's 42 along with all other MLB clubs in 1997.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
I think the show has some potential. It is shot in front of a small studio audience. Huckabee began with a monologue which became a dialogue when he took a couple of questions from audience members. He then had a conversation with Elizabeth Hasselbeck of The View. That segment was followed by a panel discussion about what to do about the economy with Alexis Glick of the Fox Business Channel, syndicated radio host Dave Ramsey and former Democratic V-P candidate Geraldine Ferraro. The show concluded with Huckabee playing bass with a house band that consisted of FNC employees including Lauren Green on keyboards.
Huckabee has an engaging personality with good humor. I like the format of the show yet it is something with which he can play around. One could easily see Huckabee interview musicians and then jam with them on stage. The only question is will people watch the show. Saturday nights at 8 p.m. isn't an easy time to attract viewers. But if anyone can turn lemons into lemonade it's Huckabee.
The only thing left to decide is the NL Wild Card between the New York Mets and the Milwaukee Brewers. The Mets got a complete game shutout against the Florida Marlins from Johan Santana who was pitching on only three days of rest. As of this writing, the Brewers are losing 7-3 to the Chicago Cubs in the 9th inning. Even if the Brewers lose this could go to the bitter end. If the Mets and Brewers are still tied tomorrow (assuming they can play tomorrow with the lousy weather) then there will be a one game playoff at Shea Stadium on Monday night.
If the Mets win the NL Wild Card, the Phillies will face the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS. If the Brewers win the NL Wild Card they will travel to Philadelphia to face the Phillies.
Newman appeared in such films as HUD, Cool Hand Luke, Exodus, Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid, The Sting, Slap Shot, Verdict and dozens of others.
My favorite Newman film would one of his more recent works - Nobody's Fool. I saw it in London with former British Labour MP Jimmy Wray when I interned for him in 1995.
Newman was well known for his social activism. Yes, he was a staunch liberal but he put his liberalism to good use. In the early 1980's, Newman established a line of products called Newman's Own. When one thinks of Newman's Own one tends to think of salad dressing but there were other products such as popcorn, cookies and some pretty good lemonade. All profits are donated to charity. Amongst other things, the proceeds have created a series of summer camps for children afflicted with cancer.
Newman was also well respected amongst the NASCAR crowd. He developed a passion for auto racing after making a film in 1969 called Winning. Newman would become a race car driver and finished 5th at Daytona in 1977.
He truly was a man for all seasons. Fortunately, his works will continue to be enjoyed for many seasons to come.
Friday, September 26, 2008
McCain also scored points where it concerned Iran and Russia's invasion of Georgia. There were times when Obama seemed to try to befriend McCain by stating he agreed with him. McCain was having none of it.
But even if McCain won the battle it is no guarantee he will win the war. The subsequent debates are going to focus on domestic issues and with the economy hanging like The Sword of Damocles the advantage is with Obama. But if a bailout agreement comes together it could help McCain. But bailout agreement or not, if McCain exceeds expectations in the next two debates it could very well be what turns the corner for The Maverick.
But first we have Palin-Biden on October 2nd.
It would have been better had there been a deal in place but McCain can say after the debate, "Well, I've got an economy to save. There's work to be done."
Even with the economy on the brink, foreign policy is still an immensely important topic that requires discussion. If not for the catastrophe on Wall Street, the world would be glued to Pakistani troops firing on U.S. and NATO troops on the Afghan-Pakistani border despite President Zardari's pleas to fight terrorism. Although one can underestimate Obama's eloquence on any given subject this debate is right in McCain's wheelhouse.
Shortly after the attacks Hughes wrote a blog that stated the United States had advance knowledge of the attacks. She also said Israel knew of the attacks beforehand. "Israeli businesses, which had offices in the Towers," wrote Hughes, "vacated the premises a week before the attacks, breaking their leases to do it."
Dion had initially refused to address Hughes views stating the Canadian Jewish Congress was conducting an investigation into the matter. All this demonstrates is that Dion is unfit to lead. Since being elected Liberal Party leader in December 2006, Dion has done little to inspire confidence within Liberal ranks and amongst Canadians at large. So little confidence that there are those who think the NDP will become the Official Opposition when the federal election takes place on October 14th.
At the very minimum, the Liberals dropped the ball concerning the nomination of Hughes. Dion is no position to demand the Conservatives to drop one of their candidates in Calgary when he failed to exercisedue dilligence with his own candidates.
Stephane Dion runs the risk of being the first Liberal Party leader not to become Prime Minister in over a century.
The Netherlands is a prime target for Islamic terrorists because of the film Fitna produced by Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders. Former Dutch parliamentarian Ayaan Hirsi Ali is also well despised by Islamic fundamentalists for her public critiques.
It is good to see the German authorities are keeping their eye on the ball. I can only hope that other European nations are as vigorous in their pursuit of those who would commit mass murder against innocent civilians in the name of jihad.
Ever since Letterman has been wailing about it on his show the last two nights stating amongst other things that he feels like an "ugly date."
Ah, poor Dave. I guess he thinks the world revolves around him. Apparently David Letterman thinks he's more important than our faltering economy.
Ironically, McCain announced first his candidacy for the Oval Office on Letterman in March 2007.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Couric Excoriates Palin on McCain Economic Policy But Gives Biden a Pass on FDR Talking About the Depression on TV
Consider this exchange between Couric and Palin during their interview on CBS News. A transcript can be found at http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/09/24/eveningnews/main4476173.shtml:
Couric: You said, quote, "John McCain will reform the way Wall Street does business." Other than supporting stricter regulations of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac two years ago, can you give us any more examples of his leading the change for more oversight?
Palin: I think that the example you cited, with his warning two years ago, about Fannie and Freddie - that, that's permanent. That's more than a heck of a lot of other senators or representatives did for us.
Couric: But he's been in Congress for 26 years. He's been the chairman of the powerful Commerce Committee. And he has almost always sided with less regulation, not more.
Palin: He's also known as the maverick through taking shots from his own party, and certainly taking shots from the other party. Trying to get people to understand what he's been talking about - the need to reform government.
Couric: But can you give any other concrete examples? Because I know you've said Barack Obama is a lot of talk and no action. Can you give me any other examples in his 26 years of John McCain truly taking a stand on this?"
Palin: I can give you examples of things that John McCain has done, that has shown his foresight, his pragmatism, and his leadership abilities. And that is what America needs today.
Couric: I'm just going to ask you one more time - not to belabor this point. Specific examples in his 26 years of pushing for more regulation.
Palin: I'll try to find you some and I'll bring them to you.
Now, I will say that most of Couric's questions were reasonable. But when she said, "I'm just going to ask you one more time" her elitist eyes blinked. She spoke to Palin in a way she did not with Joe Biden.
There were some eyes raised when Joe Biden told the world FDR went on TV to talk about the Depression. Biden said, "When the stock market crashed, Franklin Roosevelt got on the TV and didn't just talk about the princes of greed. He said, 'look, here's what happened."
And to whom did Biden reveal this pearl of wisdom unto? None other than Katie Couric.
Did Couric remind him there was no such thing as TV in 1929? Did Couric ask Biden if he knew Herbert Hoover had been in office when the stock market crashed?
Not only does Couric not correct Biden but they don't even note his error in their report on their bloody website. (http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/09/22/eveningnews/main447063.shtml)
You can bet your bottom dollar if Sarah Palin couldn't name FDR's Secretary of the Treasury or had stated John Paul Stevens was appointed to the Supreme Court by Jimmy Carter, Couric would have ripped her from belly button to rectum.
Katie Couric has every right to be tough with Sarah Palin. But her condescension is unnecessary. Especially if she isn't prepared to hold Biden to the same tough standards that she holds Palin.
The Dodgers clinched when the Arizona Diamondbacks were quashed 12-3 by the St. Louis Cardinals. What a disappointing for the D'Backs after they had the best record in the NL in 2007 and made it as far as the NLCS before being swept by the upstart Colorado Rockies. The D'Backs started 2008 with a 21-9 record. But then they just seemed to swoon especially after Eric Byrnes got hurt and never really recovered despite having a starting rotation with 20 game winner Brandon Webb, Dan Haren and Randy Johnson. Their offense was very weak. Although they managed to remain in first place for most of the season it was only a matter of time before another team in a weak division asserted itself.
Now there are many who will attribute the Dodgers success to the acquistion of Manny Ramirez on July 31st. There is no doubt that Manny breathed new life into the franchise and especially in the bat of Andre Ethier. Frankly, until Manny came along, no one cared about the Dodgers. Since Manny's arrival, the Dodgers have played near .600 ball with a 29-21 record. However, the Dodgers finished the month of July with a 16-10 record. So they were ascending even before Manny donned Dodger blue.
It is not clear who the Dodgers will face in the NLDS. It will all depend on who wins the NL Wild Card. If either the New York Mets or Philadelphia Phillies win the Wild Card then they will face the Dodgers in the NLDS. However, if the Milwaukee Brewers win the NL Wild Card then they will face the Dodgers. Normally, the Wild Card team would face the team with the best record in the league in the NLDS and this year that would be the Chicago Cubs. However, since the Cubs and Brewers are both in the NL Central they cannot face each other in the first round. So the Cubs would face the team with the next lowest winning percentage and that would be the Dodgers.
What is clear is that the sun shines on Joe Torre. Last year, the New York Yankees made Torre an offer he had to refuse after the Yankees lost their third straight ALDS. Well, this year the Yankees won't play baseball in October. Meanwhile, for the 13th consecutive season Torre is going to the postseason. Even if the Dodgers get beat in the NLDS, Torre has proven that he can win without pinstripes. Prior to managing the Yankees, Torre had a mediocre managerial record with the New York Mets, Atlanta Braves and St. Louis Cardinals. His only post-season experience as a manager prior to 1996 was when he guided the Atlanta Braves to the NL West Division Title in 1982 and were swept by the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLCS (there was no Wild Card back then).
But if the Dodgers to get to the World Series the two most interesting match ups would be against the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. A Red Sox-Dodgers World Series would be ratings gold with Manny Ramirez returning to a chorus of booes at Fenway Park. The Red Sox would also face an old nemesis in Torre.
An Angels-Dodgers Fall Classic would also be interesting. It wouldn't be interesting to very many people outside of Los Angeles. However, in this decade, the Angels have supplanted the Dodgers as Los Angeles's favorite baseball team. But a World Series victory over the Angels would help the Dodgers reclaim their old glory.
The Dodgers last won the World Series in 1988. That was the season Orel Hershiser broke Don Drysdale's scoreless inning streak and Kirk Gibson hit a pinch hit walk off homerun off future Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley on two bad knees in Game 1.
This will be the Dodgers fifth post season appearance since the glory of two decades ago. In their four previous appearances (1995, 1996, 2004 & 2006) the Dodgers have been eliminated in the first round of the playoffs and have been unable to advance beyond the NLDS. Will 2008 be different even with Manny and Torre?
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Consequently, McCain wants to delay the first Presidential Debate that was scheduled for Friday evening and has asked that Barack Obama join him in this effort. However, Obama wants to press ahead with the debate.
The timing is interesting. The economy is not John McCain's bread and butter and with the chaos on Wall Street in the past week or so Obama has been gaining traction in the polls. So McCain is doing with Obama what he did with regard to joint town hall meetings. McCain is testing Obama's willingness to walk the walk with his new kind of politics. McCain extends the olive branch to Obama and he recoils like an old time politician. Meanwhile McCain looks Presidential.
I suppose Obama can say McCain is afraid to debate him. But then Obama would risk looking childish and he simply he cannot afford to do that. It wouldn't be very Presidential now would it?
The North Koreans had announced they were suspending the disablement of Yongbyong late last month. Subsequently, it has emerged that Kim Jong Il is, well,...ill.
Well, regardless of who is in charge in North Korea they are not to be trusted by the United States nor anyone else.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
They clinched an American League playoff berth by defeating the Cleveland Indians 5-4. The Red Sox handed likely AL Cy Young Award winner Cliff Lee only his third loss of the 2008 season. The game did go back and forth. The Sox took a 2-0 lead in the 4th on a two run home run by Kevin Youkilis. But the Tribe scored 4 runs in the 5th to take a 4-2 lead. But the Sox answered with 3 runs in the bottom of the inning to take a 5-4 lead. Jonathan Papelbon earned his 41st save when he got Victor Martinez to pop out harmlessly to shortstop Alex Cora.
The Sox could win the AL East but will most likely win the AL Wild Card. Should they win the Wild Card they will face the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the American League Division Series. The Sox swept the Angels in the ALDS both in 2004 and 2007. The Sox won the World Series in both seasons. However, the Angels are a much better team this season with Francisco "K-Rod" Rodriguez's 61 saves and they beat the Sox 8 out of 9 times in 2008. However, everyone in the postseason starts out 0-0.
The only thing to be determined in the AL is the Central Division. The Chicago White Sox and Minnesota Twins began a three game series tonight. Going into tonight, the Sox were leading by two and a half games. But the Twins won the opener 9-3. However, the Twins pretty much must sweep to stay in the thick of things. Regardless of who wins the Central Division Champion will likely have the unenviable task of facing the Tampa Bay Rays in the ALDS.
Monday, September 22, 2008
Well, Mithal al-Alusi proves this thesis wrong.
Alusi is an Iraqi Member of Parliament who has publicly supported the State of Israel. In fact, he has visited the State of Israel twice.
Alusi, who is a Sunni, first visited Israel in September 2004. After his first visit, Alusi was expelled from Ahmad Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress. The Left (plus a few paleocons) has long asserted that Chalabi wanted to seek diplomatic ties between Iraq and Israel. Alusi was also fired from the DeBaathificaton Commission. However, Alusi would be elected to Iraq's Parliament as the sole member of Al Umma (a.k.a. Iraqi Democratic Party - a secular political entity). Sadly, Alusi's two sons and bodyguard were killed in an ambush intended for him in February 2005. Iraq's then Minister of Culture Assad Kamal al-Hashemi was charged with the murder but remains at large.
Alusi visited Israel again earlier this month to attend an anti-terrorism conference sponsored by the IDF. Now Alusi has been barred from the Iraqi Parliament and his parliamentary immunity has been stripped. He might also be charged with visiting Israel which in Iraq is a crime that is punishable by death because Israel is considered an enemy nation. Iraqis are also barred from holding dual Iraqi-Israeli citizenship. It should be noted that Alusi has travelled to Israel on a German passport. Alusi went into exile in Germany when Saddam sought to have him killed for anti-government activity.
Don't get me wrong. Iraq is better off without Saddam. Iraq does have a chance to become a thriving democracy. But the notion the War in Iraq was fought to benefit Israel is pure fantasy on the part of the Left as well as the disciples of Pat Buchanan as demonstrated by their treatment of Alusi.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
After 85 years, the Yankees say goodbye to Yankee Stadium in a bittersweet manner. Unless the Yankees win all of their remaining games and the Boston Red Sox lose all their remaining games forcing a one game playoff for the AL Wild Card this will be the first year the Yankees fail to make the post-season since 1993.
With this in mind, the Yankees gathered the men in pinstripes from past to present. Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Reggie Jackson, Don Larsen and Paul O'Neill plus a cast of hundreds were subject to one last burst of adulation from the Yankee faithful. Babe Ruth's granddaughter (who is a Red Sox fan) through out the first pitch. George Steinbrenner could not be present due to ill health. Neither could long time Yankees PA announcer Bob Sheppard although he did record some remarks for the occasion giving Yankees fans one last chance to hear the voice of God.
Of course, Yankee Stadium meant more than baseball. Many football games, boxing matches and three papal masses (including one from Pope Benedict XVI in April of this year) were held at Yankee Stadium. It was also a gathering place for New Yorkers in the days following September 11, 2001. Who could also forget President Bush's first pitch strike prior to Game 3 of the 2001 World Series?
I twice had the privilege to attend Yankee Stadium. I first went in May 2006 with my Dad and my brother Ezra to see the Yankees beat the Kansas City Royals 15-4. In May 2008, Dad and I saw the Yankees get walloped by the Baltimore Orioles 12-2. Mike Mussina got knocked out in the 1st inning for his worst major league start in nearly two decades.
Oddly enough the Yankees would face the Orioles in their final Yankee Stadium game. Andy Pettitte, an integral figure of those Yankee teams that won 4 World Series between 1996 and 2000, got the start for the Bronx Bombers.
The O's got off to a 2-0 lead but in the bottom of the 3rd ex-Red Sox center fielder Johnny Damon hit a three run home run to give the Yankees a 3-2 lead. Damon, of course, is remembered for a grand slam home run he hit for the Sox against the Yankees in Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS. That seems so very long ago.
The O's, however, tied the game at 3-3 in the top of the 4th.
Babe Ruth hit the first home run at Yankee Stadium in 1923. Ruth said, "Only G-d knows who will hit the last." My father and I wondered who would hit last home run at the House That Ruth Built. I said it would be A-Rod. Dad said it would be someone less obvious like Jose Molina.
Lo and behold, the aforementioned Jose Molina would hit a two run home run just over the left field fence in the bottom of the 4th to give the Yankees a 5-3 lead. My father can be quite brilliant at times.
I was glad to see Dr. Ronan Tynan sing God Bless America. No one sings it quite like him. I like the fact that he sings its prelude. It's an entirely different song with the prelude and Tynan's arrangement makes the song immensely meaningful to someone born and raised outside the United States.
The Yankees scored two more runs in the bottom of the 7th. Pettitte pitched five innings and the bullpen took care of the rest. Jose Veras, Phil Coke (yes, he brought Yankees fans a smile), Joba Chamberlain and Mariano Rivera pitched four innings of scoreless relief. Rivera pitched a 1-2-3 9th inning. He induced Brian Roberts to hit a ground ball to first baseman Cody Ransom who recorded the final out. Undoubtedly, Cooperstown will want this ball but will the Yankee rookie hold the ball for, well, ransom?
The Yankees won 7-3 and after the game Yankee Captain Derek Jeter led his teammates to the pitcher's mound to make some impromptu remarks thanking the fans for their support and urging them to take their memories to the new Yankee Stadium which will open its doors on April 16, 2009.
Fenway Park still remains the oldest and best ballpark in MLB. It will celebrate its centennial in 2012. But with the departure of Yankee Stadium the oldest ballpark in the AL after Fenway is Angels Stadium which is just over 40 years old.
With the Yankees most likely not in the post-season the team is in a transition period as it moves across the street. The most glaring absence at Yankee Stadium was that of Joe Torre who is currently managing the Los Angeles Dodgers. As of this writing the Dodgers are leading the NL West. If Torre's Dodgers make the post season and the Yankees do not it will add insult to injury and put that much more pressure on Torre's successor, Joe Girardi. If Hank Steinbrenner is anything like his father in his early days with the Yankees the team we see on the field in 2009 might very well be one beyond our recognition.
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Until this season, the Rays had ten consecutive losing seasons most of them in last place. They finished both 2006 and 2007 with the worst record in MLB. Yes, I picked them to win the World Series in 2006. That was the season Joe Maddon became the Rays skipper. Despite their poor showings in '06 and '07 baseball people knew this was a team on the rise. But nobody (and I mean nobody outside of the Rays) thought they would ascend this quickly.
Maddon has done a remarkable job with a young starting rotation, a veteran bullpen and a cast of journeymen players. The Rays have sustained themselves despite injuries to Longoria, Carl Crawford, B.J. Upton and Troy Percival. Many thought they would collapse with those injuries and with so many of their games on the road during the second half. They did hit a rough patch the beginning of this month losing 7 of 8 games but they got back on track never letting setbacks get them down.
Currently, they lead the Boston Red Sox in the AL East by two and a half games. Assuming things remain as they are the Rays will win the AL East and face the winner of the AL Central title which will either be the Twins or the Chicago White Sox. The Chisox currently have a three game lead on the Twins. However, the Chisox face the Twins head to head in Minnesota next week.
Even if the Rays don't get past the ALDS, the 2008 edition of this team have accomplished a great deal. The Rays have also demonstrated the game must be played on the field despite what people might predict during spring training.
In 2007, the Cubs were ousted in the National League Division Series by the Arizona Diamondbacks. This year the Cubs will face the NL Wild Card winner in the NLDS. They could face one of four teams - the Milwaukee Brewers, Philadelphia Phillies, New York Mets and even the Florida Marlins. Cubs fans don't have fond memories of the Marlins. Especially during Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS when with five outs away from going to their first World Series since 1945 Cubs fan Steve Bartman appeared to have interfered with Moises Alou catching a fly ball off the bat of Luis Castillo. Of course, Bartman wasn't at fault as the ball was in the stands but Alou's reaction created a chain reaction and the Marlins rallied to comeback and win that game as well as Game 7 before going on to win the World Series.
Needless to say I'm rooting for the Cubs as they have not won the World Series in exactly 100 years. I will only root against them if they face the Red Sox in the World Series.
The Executive Committee of the African National Congress had been debating Mbeki's fate. The tenor within the ANC was so strongly anti-Mbeki that he could see the writing on the wall and opted to resign rather than face a humiliating vote.
The biggest reason for this was the acquittal of ANC Chairman (and Mbeki rival) Jacob Zuma on corruption charges earlier this week. The judges concluded there was political interference on Mbeki's part and this sealed his fate.
Consider also Mbeki's inaction concerning South Africa's exploding crime rate, his near denial of the HIV/AIDs virus and his apologism for Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe (although he did manage to mediate a deal between Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai). The Zuma affair was the final straw.
The Speaker of the South African Parliament is expected to assume the Presidency on an interim basis. Elections had been expected to take place in early 2009 but could be moved up to late December. Zuma is widely expected to win this election and become South Africa's third President in the post-Apartheid era.
Friday, September 19, 2008
At Wrigley Field this afternoon Zambrano gave up 8 runs on 6 hits and 3 walks in only one inning and two thirds against the St. Louis Cardinals. Adam Kennedy blasted a grand slam against Zambrano in the 1st inning. The Cardinals went on to win 12-6.
Baseball giveth. Baseball taketh away.
However, the Cubs could clinch the NL Central as early as tomorrow. So all is well in Wrigleyville.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Yesterday, Elizabeth May, the leader of Canada's Green Party was at a press conference in Halifax discussing her party's platform. She was asked a question about its policy concerning the decriminalization of marijuana.
In expressing her support for decriminalization she noted that she had never tried it and then said, "I apologize."
I suppose she can't risk having her supports all out of joint.
The Green Party received 4.5% of the vote in the 2006 federal election and when Parliament was dissolved it had one seat in the House of Commons.
Livni now must form a coalition government subject to the approval of the Knesset. If she does elections will not be held until 2010 hence giving her time to establish herself as a credible head of government. At this point, anyone would be an improvement over Olmert. On the other hand if she cannot form a government then elections would be held early next year giving Benjamin Netanyahu a distinct advantage. In which case, Olmert would remain in power until after the election. If Livni can't form a government then Israelis will not have the confidence to cast a ballot for her.
Currently, Livni serves as the Israeli government's chief negotiator with the Palestinian Authority.
Should Livni be able to form a government she would become Israel's second female Prime Minister. Golda Meir served in that role from 1969 to 1973.
Monday, September 15, 2008
However, September has been a disaster for them. They have gone 3-11 since Labor Day and were just swept in four games this weekend in Philadelphia by the Phillies including a doubleheader yesterday. Consequently, the Phillies have moved into a tie for the NL Wild Card with the Brew Crew. The Houston Astros have also been moving in fast on the Brewers' heels.
Add the spectacle of the NL Central Division leading Chicago Cubs celebrating jubilantly in Milwaukee last night after Carlos Zambrano tossed a no-hitter against the Astros which only added insult to injury. (See my previous post on Zambrano's no-hitter.)
Yet no one expected the Brewers to fire Ned Yost as their manager today. But Yost was summarily dismissed after being at the helm since 2003. Yost has been replaced by third base coach Dale Sveum on an interim basis. One wonders if something happened in the clubhouse to precipitate such a sudden demise for Yost.
The Brewers have not been in the post-season since 1982 when they were an American League team. In 2007, the Brewers were the biggest surprise in baseball winning 24 of their first 34 games and led the NL Central for much of the season and led the Cubs by as much as 8½ games. But they ran out of gas in the second half of the season and the Cubs went past them to win the division and the Brewers spent October at home. Like Yogi Berra said, "It's déjà vu all over again."
Dale Sveum is an interesting choice. Sveum began his major league career with the Brewers in 1986 and enjoyed his best major league season in 1987 when he hit 25 home runs and drove in 95 runs on a Brewers team which started that season 13-0, only to lose their next 12 games. Sveum would break his leg in an on-field collision in 1988 and was never the same player. Sveum became a journeyman player and bounced around with the Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago White Sox, Oakland Athletics, Seattle Mariners, New York Yankees and two stints with the Pittsburgh Pirates before retiring after the 1999 season.
Boston Red Sox fans remember Sveum as the team's third base coach in 2004 and 2005. Sveum earned a World Series ring with the 2004 Red Sox. Sveum was remembered as a very aggressive third base coach and often had runners thrown out at home plate. If not for the World Series ring, he would have been nearly as notorious as Wendell Kim who was known as "Wave 'Em Home Wendell" who was the Sox third base coach between 1997 and 2000.
Sveum returned to Milwaukee in 2006 where he became the Brewers bench coach. Prior to this season, he was named the Brewers' third base coach. Sveum does have some minor league managerial experience. From 2001 to 2003, he was the manager of the Altoona Curve - the Double A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates. But Altoona is a long way from Wrigley Field where the Brewers begin a three game series with the Cubs tomorrow. Sveum does have his ace C.C. Sabathia starting for him but the Cubs counter with the equally capable Ryan Dempster.
This is, as far as I remember, the latest point in a season where a manager has been sacked while still in the midst of a pennant race. I remember back in 1981 when the Montreal Expos fired Dick Williams on September 8th replacing him with Jim Fanning. I recall this because the first major league game I ever attended was at Olympic Stadium on August 30, 1981 when the Expos lost to the Braves 5-4 in 12 innings. In fact, in that game Williams had his ace starting pitcher Steve Rogers pinch run and he ended up with a broken rib which sealed Williams' fate. The Expos went 16-11 under Fanning and it was enough to give the Expos their first and only post-season appearance.
Fanning had 27 games to set the Expos straight. Sveum has only 12 games in which to right the Brewers' ship. No pressure. No pressure at all.
Wright principally played keyboards but occasionally sang lead vocal. He was more prominent in Pink Floyd's earlier days in the mid-1960's when Syd Barrett was the band's creative genius. But with Barrett's departure due to his declining mental health, Roger Waters emerged as the band's leader and was often at odds with Wright and Waters would eventually fire Wright from the band while working on their 1979 album The Wall.
Wright becomes the second member of Pink Floyd to ascend to the great gig in the sky. Barrett died in July 2006.
My favorite Rick Wright composition was "Remember A Day" from their 1968 album A Saucerful of Secrets. Take a listen at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RbxSbc0AwHg&feature=related.
While Tsvangirai's MDC will get a slim majority of Ministers in the new government, Mugabe retains control over the military and intelligence services (although Tsvangirai's faction will control the police). Mugabe has the authority to dissolve Parliament which has a slim MDC majority as a result of last March's elections.
While I suppose Tsvangirai being PM is better than him being in jail or dead I still wonder how much power he will actually have. After Mugabe signed the agreement he spoke and railed against the U.S. and U.K. for outside interference and blasted the MDC for election violence. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. It's that kind of talk which convinces this agreement won't last six months.
You have Mugabe and Tsvangirai in charge of two different cabinets, you have the military and police answerable to two different leaders and there is no foundation for economic reform. The land seizures of white owned farms earlier this decade have been deemed "irreversible." So long as Mugabe's cronies sit on those farms, Zimbabwe's economy will remain basket case instead of bread basket.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Yet the Cubs and Astros played a game today - in Milwaukee (the Brewers were playing in Philadelphia.) The Astros were ostensibly the home team but with Chicago only 90 minutes south of Milwaukee, Miller Park was fill of Cubs fans. It was well worth the trip.
Cubs ace Carlos Zambrano tossed a no-hitter against the Astros. He struck out 10 batters including Darin Erstad to end the game en route to a 5-0 Cubs victory. Zambrano only allowed two baserunners in the game - a walk to Michael Bourn in the 4th and he also hit Hunter Pence with a pitch in the 5th. Although it is Zambrano's 14th victory, it is only his second win since July 27th. Zambrano's shoulder has been tender, had already been on the disabled list this season and had missed his last two starts. He had not pitched in nearly two weeks. Well, his arm is tired no more.
Zambrano's no-no marks the first time a Cubs pitcher has thrown a no-hitter in more than 36 years. Milt Pappas was the last Cubs pitcher to toss a no-hitter when he did so against the San Diego Padres on September 2, 1972.
It is the second no-hitter of the 2008 season. Boston Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester tossed one against the Kansas City Royals on May 19th.
Cassel didn't throw any TD passes but neither did he throw any interceptions. He went 16 for 23 with 165 yards. Stephen Gostkowski kicked four field goals, Wes Welker caught seven passes and the Pats defense was sterling.
Favre had a respectable day going 18 for 26 passing for 181 yards with a TD pass and an interception. But even with Favre the Jets don't have the Pats depth.
I know its only Week Two but the Pats will do just fine with Matt Cassel at the helm.
Saturday, September 13, 2008
K-Rod burst onto the MLB scene late in the 2002 season with the Angels at the age of 20. Although he only pitched 5 innings in the regular season he was added to the post-season roster and quickly became the team's closer en route to the Angels first (and so far only) World Series Championship.
Earlier this week, the Angels clinched their third AL West Division Title in four years. K-Rod played a significant role in the Angels dominance in the AL West and I believe should win the American League MVP although there is sentiment for Boston Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia. Pitchers seldom win MVPs. The logic goes that the Cy Young Award goes to pitchers while the MVP goes to position players. However, the Cy Young tends to go to starters rather than relievers. Cliff Lee of the Cleveland Indians has won 22 games and is nearly a sure bet to win the Cy Young although the Tribe will not be going to the post-season. Surely K-Rod should be recognized for his dominance.
There is precedent in the AL for relief pitchers winning the league's MVP. Rollie Fingers won the AL MVP for the Milwaukee Brewers in the strike shortened 1981 season. Three years later, Willie Hernandez won the AL MVP for the 1984 Detroit Tigers team that won 35 of their first 40 games. This is a team that had Kirk Gibson and Alan Trammell on it. But it was Hernandez who slammed the door on Tiger victories. In 1992, Dennis Eckersley won the AL MVP for the Oakland Athletics. When Eck came into the game, it was a fait d'accompli. As extraordinary as they were in the seasons they won the MVP, K-Rod has been that much better.
What will be interesting though is where K-Rod will pitch in 2009. He becomes a free agent at the end of the season. Prior to this season, the Angels took him to arbitration. K-Rod wanted $12.5 million this season and the Angels offered $10 million. The arbitrator ruled in the Angels favor. Would the Angels be willing to fork over an additional $2.5 million for next season given K-Rod's record breaking season?
If not, I see K-Rod in New York with either the Mets or the Yankees. The New York Mets are an obvious fit. Their current closer Billy Wagner got hurt and will be having Tommy John surgery on his elbow which will force him to miss the 2009 season. If the Mets fail to reach the post season for the second season in a row, Omar Minaya will sell his first born to sign K-Rod. The bullpen has been the Achilles heel of the team whether managed by Willie Randolph or Jerry Manuel.
You might ask, "But why the Yankees, Aaron? What about Mariano Rivera?" Rivera has been the Yankees closer since 1997. While Rivera has had yet another effective season in 2008 with 32 saves, barring a miracle the Yankees won't be playing in the post-season for the first time since 1993. Hank Steinbrenner has promised to shake up the team next year. While Joe Girardi appears safe as manager if Hank has his father in him he might do something outlandish and bold and sign K-Rod. It might be crazy. But let's remember that Rivera will turn 39 in November. K-Rod is 26 and not even in the prime of his career. You do the math. Yankees fans won't accept K-Rod at first but if he gets them a World Series ring some might ask, "Mariano Who?"
We'll see how things turn out this winter.
But there it is. Joe McMillan goes all Sally Quinn on Sarah Palin in today's article, "Palin Hysteria". McMillan makes the astonishing claim that McCain's selection of Palin as his running mate represents not only "a wholesale sellout of values and principles" but "put a final nail in the coffin of the family." Now who is being hysterical here?
McMillan goes on to claim that "children can be sacrificed on the altar of their mother's vanity and ego." This is a very sweeping statement that could apply to everyone from Sarah Palin to all the other Sarahs in the world.
For that matter, it could also apply to the Margarets of the world. Margaret Thatcher was first elected to the House of Commons in 1959 just days shy of her 34th birthday as a backbencher in Harold McMillan's Conservative government. When first elected she was the mother of six year old fraternal twins. She would hold this seat until 1992.
While Thatcher did not become leader of the Conservative Party until 1975 when her children were grown there can be little doubt Thatcher made many family sacrifices in the pursuit of her political career. The hours spent meeting with constituents, at political fund raisers, in meetings with government and party officials and, of course, seeking re-election. There can be little doubt Margaret Thatcher sacrificed time with her children as did any other male politician in her position. Her sacrifices were made in advancement of conservatism in Britain and abroad. As someone who has been around politicians for as long as I can remember they short circuit time with their family be they men or women.
Somehow I suspect if Mr. McMillan had directed his comments to Mrs. Thatcher in person I suspect she would have shoved her foot so far up Mr. McMillan's behind she would find out what he had for breakfast.
Wallace was best known for his two novels The Broom of the System and Infinite Jest. He also published numerous essays and articles on subjects ranging from tennis to pornography.
Last month, I finished reading his book McCain's Promise. Wallace had covered McCain's failed bid for the Republican nomination in 2000 for Rolling Stone. The book is an expanded version of those articles which first appeared in his 2005 collection of essays titled Consider The Lobster.
Wallace didn't get up close to McCain but rather spent most of his time with the TV techies who covered McCain's town hall meetings and press scrums. While Wallace believed McCain had "scary" right-wing views he came to have a grudging admiration for him. He especially admired McCain's refusal of early release from the Hanoi Hilton. He wrote in McCain's Promise:
Can you hear it? What would be happening inside your head? Would you have refused the offer? Could you have? You can't know for sure. None of us can. It's hard to even imagine the levels of pain and fear and want in that moment, much less know how we'd react. None of us can know.
But, see, we do know how this man reacted. That he chose to spend four more years there, mostly in a dark box, alone, tapping messages on the walls to the others, rather than violate a Code. Maybe he was nuts. But the point is that with McCain it feels like we know, for a proven fact, that he is capable of devotion to something other, more, than his own self-interest.
At this point, it is unclear what drove Wallace to end his life. However, in a recent interview, Wallace had said (somewhat chillingly in retrospect) that McCain had become "a less interesting, more depressing political figure now - at least for me."
Friday, September 12, 2008
In a show of solidarity, Morales' mentor Hugo Chavez has also asked the U.S. Ambassador to leave the country. The U.S., in turn, has asked the Bolivian and Venezulean Ambassadors to go home. It is, of course, worth noting that Venezuela gleefully received two Russian bombers last week. It is also worth remembering that the people of Venezuela rejected Chavez's efforts to centralize power and effectively make him President for Life. Now Chavez is trying to play the anti-American card. It doesn't hurt him to have Russia given its differences with us on Georgia. This has all the makings of a worldwide conflict between freedom and servitude.
In this respect, the choice between McCain and Obama couldn't be clearer. Obama wants to talk with Chavez and Morales and reason with them. Reasoning with Chavez and Morales is like reasoning with a crocodile with sharp teeth. McCain will talk to Chavez and Morales but only to lay down the law. We can ill afford to legitimize buffoons and Obama's approach will do precisely that.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
According to The Guardian, Tsvangirai will become Prime Minister and head up a cabinet consisting of MPs from both his MDC and Mugabe's ZANU-PF.
There is also an amnesty for the military and ZANU-PF people who participated in election violence against MDC members. Not a surprising development.
The stickiest point here is what powers Mugabe retains. Tsvangirai and the MDC had wanted Mugabe to remain as President only if it was reduced to a ceremonial position. That won't happen. Mugabe will chair a cabinet committee. One can only wonder how much power he will yield and specifically how such power will undercut Tsvangirai and his cabinet. It almost sounds as if there are two separate cabinets. In which case chaos will continue to prevail.
The best case scenario would have been for Mugabe to relinquish the Presidency and leave the country forever. But if Tsvangirai is named Prime Minister it would at least represent a start. Although I fear there will still be an ongoing power struggle between Tsvangirai and Mugabe.
We'll see what happens on Monday.
I did think that Time magazine's managing editor, Rick Stengel, asked Obama an interesting question about National Service. President Clinton wanted to implement a NS program but was opposed by teachers' unions. Obama insisted that "times have changed since 1992." He thought it would be a great idea if there if retired mathematicians and scientists would volunteer time in classrooms. Last time I checked this is precisely something the teachers unions have opposed with respect to NS.
Other than that Obama vowed to "make government cool again." Yes, government will be the most popular thing since the Jonas Brothers and Miley Cyrus.
Judy Woodruff was her usual imperial self. She bemoaned the disproportionate number of racial minorities in the U.S. military, McCain reminded her it was much the same way during the Draft. That wasn't good enough for her. McCain pointed out that if one truly wanted to have a more representative military force Columbia University and other Ivy League schools should let the ROTC on back on campus. The Columbia faculty members were less than amused but some of the students applauded.
She also pressed McCain on Sarah Palin's "derisive" comments about Obama's comments as a community organizer. McCain reminded Woodruff it was the Obama campaign that had denigrated Palin's service as the Mayor of Wasilla. McCain was otherwise careful not to criticize Obama directly.
Finally, she asked McCain if he thought America was better than all other countries. McCain said America was "exceptional." This went back and forth for several minutes. Yet when Barack Obama said, "America is the greatest country on earth," Woodruff batted not an eyelash. But more on Obama later.
Given that I had written about the importance of remembering those who perished on September 11th, I thought it only fitting that I visit The Garden of Remembrance which is located at the foot of the Boston Public Garden. This memorial commemorates those people from Massachusetts who died on September 11th. Remember that two of the hijacked planes (American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175) departed from Logan International Airport here in Boston.
As I approached the memorial, I came upon an older woman (I would guess to be in her 60s) railing about President Bush and how he supposedly let our guard down on September 11th. I wanted to tell her the shut the hell up and be considerate of other people trying to pay their respects. But I also did not want to become a distraction or spectacle. Fortunately, she went away. Yet talk about rudeness. If you want to spout your loony opinion then fine. But don't do it in a place where people are paying their solemn respect. Sadly, some people will never learn.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Shortly after the Angels dispatched of the Yankees, the second place Texas Rangers were defeated by the lowly Seattle Mariners 8-7 thus officially giving the Angels the AL West Title. The Angels ran away with the division and currently have a 17 and a half game lead on the Rangers. It is their third AL West Division Championship in four seasons. However, don't expect manager Mike Scioscia to rest his regulars. The Angels 88-57 is currently the best in the AL (albeit only by a half game over the Tampa Bay Rays. If they finish the season with the best record they have home field advantage throughout the postseason. Although the Angels have made the postseason three of the past four years they were knocked out in the ALDS by the Boston Red Sox in 2004 and 2007 and were eliminated in the ALCS by the Chicago White Sox in 2005. The teams that eliminated the Angels all went on to win the World Series. So there is a strong impetus for them to have the best over all record in the AL.
The Angels did win the 2002 World Series when they earned a berth by winning the AL Wild Card. They were the first wild card team to win the Fall Classic.
If either McCain, Palin or for that matter any Republican referred to Obama as an animal they would be called a racist faster than you could produce a response ad.
In the end, all this does is continue to engender more sympathy for Palin amongst real people.
So keep it up Obama and the MSM.
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
I was struck by this passage in particular:
She's sticking to a greatest hits version of her convention speech on the campaign trail and steering clear of questions until she's comfortable enough for a hand-picked interviewer later this week.
The message is clear. Sarah Palin can't think on her feet without a teleprompter.
Handpicked interview? As if the candidates don't pick and choose whom they sit down. Hell, it took a year and a half for Obama to sit down with Bill O'Reilly and he did it the night McCain made his acceptance speech. Give me a break!!!
Yes, Palin probably should be more accessible with the media but given how quickly they were willing to believe she was actually the grandmother and the not the mother of her fifth child I, too, would be cautious and circumspect about the people with whom I would speak. Perhaps if the MSM hadn't fired before it aimed perhaps Palin would be more amenable to speaking with them on the record.
If the media wants to portray her as a bumpkin so be it. They will simply add to her growing legend. She will handle Charlie Gibson just fine. She will debate Joe Biden ably. Middle America will continue to fall in love with her and will heap contempt upon those who treat her as anything other than an intelligent and captivating personality. Unfortunately for Barack Obama, he will bear the brunt of this contempt.
Karzai and Musharraf could not stand each other. President Bush often had to serve as a mediator between the two. There have been many skirmishes along the Afghan-Pakistani border over the years. Karzai has publicly accused Pakistan's intelligence service of assisting Taliban forces in Afghanistan.
Suffice it to say, Karzai's presence not only indicates a warming in relations between the two countries but also indicates that Pakistan, at least politically, is more serious concerning fighting Taliban/al-Qaeda terrorism. Whether Pakistan's military and intelligence services will follow suit is another matter of course. But an imminent U.S. troop reduction in Iraq and consequent troop surge in Afghanistan will also help to mend fences. Some also think Karzai is too close to India. Then again all the more reason for Pakistan to become friendlier with Afghanistan and if there are similar successes with a surge in Afghanistan there will be political space for both Karzai and Zardari.
Things won't improve overnight but this is a very welcome development.
However, it might go a long way in explaining why the North Koreans have done an about face on decommissioning the Yongbyong nuclear facility. Kim was also notably absent from celebrations commemorating North Korea's 60th anniversary yesterday. The arrangements were also less ostentatious than in previous years.
It begs the question: Who is in charge in North Korea? His son Kim Jong-Chul, who turns 27 later this month? Well, if he's going to be President for Life he might as well start young. Or could it be senior officials in the Workers Party of Korea? Whomever is in charge, I suspect the North Koreans will soon be doing more than just reassembling Yongbyong unless the Chinese can keep them in check.
Today, Thailand's Constitutional Court removed Samak from power not because of anything his government did during the state of emergency but because of a cooking show.
A cooking show?
Prior to being elected Prime Minister, Samak hosted a popular cooking show on Thai TV for seven years. He still continued to make appearances on the show while in office. According to the Constitutional Court, the Prime Minister's appearances constituted private employment and under the Thai constitution a Prime Minister cannot make outside income.
Well, so much for Emeril or Wolfgang Puck considering a career in Thai politics.
However, the Thai Parliament will likely hold a vote tomorrow reinstating Samak as Prime Minister although that will surely reignite street protests, state of emergency or not.
Who knew that making Pad Thai could stir such raw emotion?
Monday, September 8, 2008
Heather Mallick, a commentator for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and columnist for the Globe & Mail, wrote a vicious article about Sarah Palin on September 5th. Here's a sample:
Palin has a toned-down version of the porn actress look favored by this decade's woman, the overtreated hair, puffy lips and permanently alarmed expression....Husband Todd looks like a roughneck....They claim to be family obsessed while being studious terrible at parenting. What normal father would want Levi "I'm a f@#k*%g redneck" Johnson prodding his daughter?"
The rest of this garbage masquerading as an article can be found at http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/09/05/f-vp-mallick.html
If Heather Mallick had said Michelle Obama resembled a porn actress would she still be working for the CBC? If Mallick had called the Obamas terrible parents the Globe & Mail would have given Mallick her walking papers. If Mallick had commented on Barack Obama's physical appearance she would have been called a racist faster than Ussain Bolt running the 100 meter dash. If Mallick had talked about Chelsea Clinton in a compromising position Mallick she would never have another article published.
Frankly, I am not interested in talking about Barack or Michelle Obama's physical appearance. I'm not interested in their parenting skills. I'm interested in Barack Obama's political positions and why I believe they are not in this country's best interests. If Mallick wants to criticize Palin's politics then by all means. But she's only interested in disseminating her hatred and contempt for Palin.
While Mallick is not an American writer, this has been the tone with the American MSM vis a vis Palin from the word go. If they want to keep that up all they do is make Palin a sympathetic figure. It is a wave of sympathy that might take her and McCain all the way to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
The Red Sox have sold out every home game since May 15, 2003. Aside from the Sox winning two World Series, Fenway Park is a far more attractive than it was at the beginning of this decade. When I arrived here in 2000, the previous ownership group wanted to build a new ballpark. Thankfully, even liberal Massachusetts taxpayers didn't want to be taken for that ride. So it never came to fruition. The John Henry-Tom Werner ownership group has not only added seats on top of the Green Monster, the right field pavilion, Conigliaro's Corner but have made the concourse far brighter and more accessible. Prior to 2003, the concourse looked like a wet basement.
Prior to tonight, the MLB record had been held by the Cleveland Indians who sold out 455 consecutive games at Jacobs Field (now known as Progressive Field) from 1995 through 2001. While the Sox hold the MLB record for consecutive sellouts but several NBA franchises are ahead of the Red Sox. The Chicago Bulls had 515 consecutive sellouts and the Boston Celtics had 567. Given their championship runs that's not a huge surprise. But the team with the most sellouts is the Portland Trailblazers with 744. Well, I guess basketball is the only game in town in Oregon.
The Red Sox could pass the Trailblazers mark sometime in 2012. That happens to be Fenway Park's centennial year. Assuming the Sox are still in top form that will be a big, big party.
Matt Cassel, who filled in for Brady yesterday, will be the QB for now but others might be auditioned. Some hope Cassel will be to the Pats what Brady was to the Pats seven years ago when Drew Bledsoe got hurt in Week 3 and the previously unknown Brady led the team to the first of its three Super Bowl victories. However, when Brady replaced Bledsoe, the Pats had finished the previous season 5-11 and had lost the first two games of the 2001 season before Bledsoe was sidelined by New York Jets linebacker Mo Lewis. The Patriots have appeared in four of the last seven Superbowls, winning three of them. They just came off a 16-0 season and just fell short against the New York Giants in the Superbowl. Back then no one expected anything of Brady or the Pats. The Patriots have won 20 consecutive regular season games. Everything is expected of the Pats. With Brett Favre at the QB helm with the Jets and with the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins looking to have better seasons the AFC East is suddenly wide open.
Sunday, September 7, 2008
There's no doubt Sarah Palin plays a big role here. Even though McCain was holding his own with Obama prior to the RNC there was far much more enthusiasm amongst Democrats for Obama than Republicans for McCain. Palin has generated as much enthusiasm for McCain as Obama has for himself.
But some of the credit certainly goes to McCain himself. The fact that more people tuned in to his acceptance speech than to Obama's attests to it. McCain might not possess Obama's gift of gab but McCain has a transparent decency, has paid his dues and loves his country in good times and in bad.
Of course, a lot can happen in the next 8 weeks especially with the debates. But the race has changed and is now McCain and Palin's to lose.
Yes, that was rather grizzly.
If bears, however, are becoming Democrats it will only further polarize the country.
That should give conservative paws for thought.
OK, I'll stop right now before Sarah Palin puts one between my eyes.
The photo below captures a disturbing trend that is beginning to affect wildlife in the U.S.
Animals that were formerly self-sufficient are now showing signs of belonging to the Democrat Party... as they have apparently learned to simply sit and wait for the government to provide for their care and sustenance.
In the season opener today against the Kansas City Chiefs, his foot was fine. His left knee was another matter altogether.
At 7:27 of the 1st quarter, Brady got clipped on the left knee after attempting a pass to Randy Moss. He had to be helped off the field. Not good.
But backup QB Matt Cassel rose to the occasion. He completed 13 of 18 passes for 152 yards and threw a touchdown pass for a 17-10 victory over the Chiefs.
The Chiefs made it close when QB Damon Huard (Brady's one time back up in New England) threw a pass for 1st and goal with less than a minute in the game. But the Chiefs could not make the last five yards against the Patriots defense.
The extent of Brady's injury is not known. Of course, it is worth noting that Brady got his start 7 years ago when Drew Bledsoe got hurt in a early season game against the New York Jets. All Brady has done is lead the Patriots to 4 Super Bowl appearances, 3 Super Bowls and a 16-0 record last season.
But if Brady can't answer the bell, Cassel is going to have to prove himself. Next week the Patriots visit the Meadowlands where Brett Favre will make his home debut for the New York Jets. As I write this, the Jets just won their season opener against the Miami Dolphins, 20-14.
Matt Cassel might have been king for a day but can he rule a season? Only the next 15 Sundays will tell. And perhaps a Monday and Thursday thrown in the mix.
Harper and the Conservatives were elected in January 2006 but with a minority parliament. It is nothing short of amazing this parliament has lasted nearly three years.
Harper wants a majority government. The signs are good. The Tories are ahead in the polls and the Liberals have an unpopular leader in Stephane Dion.
Still, Harper is taking a risk. If he is re-elected but without majority he is exactly back to where he is now. That would be nearly as bad as losing the election.
Let the fun begin.
Saturday, September 6, 2008
Ingraham accused Gutman of sexism. Gutman countered it would be an issue whether McCain had picked Sarah Palin or Todd Palin as his running mate.
Gutman wouldn't give a fig about Palin's family situation if she were a flaming liberal Democrat.
Face it. Palin has Democrats spooked. They can't hold a handle to Palin on the issues and her natural gifts so they have to attack a five month old child and her soon to be born grandchild. That is what makes Gutman's attack gutless.
Barack Obama promised to fire anyone who engaged in attacks on his opponent's family. Yet Gutman remains.
Well, if Gutman and his ilk continue this line of argument and Obama can't keep them in check then they are going to turn off a lot of voters and guarantee a big turn out for McCain-Palin especially among women.
It appears Zardari will be more cooperative with the U.S. than Musharraf. Earlier this week U.S. commandos raided Taliban strongholds in South Warizistan earlier this week. Islamic fundamentalists see it as an infringement of Pakistani sovereignty. But Musharraf turned over South Warizistan to the Taliban. Just gave it up. Pakistan needs to take it back but will need help. This will, of course, anger Islamic fundamentalists but to quote Sarah Palin he is not seeking their good opinion.
Yesterday, several of the judges sacked by Musharraf last fall were reinstated. But Nawaz Sharif and the lawyers movement will not be mollified until Iftkhar Muhammad Chaudhry is restored as Chief Justice. However, Zardari is reluctant to reinstate Chaudhry for fear he will reinstate corruption charges against him despites assurances by Chaudhry he will do no such thing.
Don't expect Zardari to press for criminal charges against Musharraf. Although Musharraf was contemptuous of Bhutto after her assassination he was instrumental in waiving corruption charges against Zardari. Prosecution of Musharraf is another key demand by Sharif.
It will be interesting to see if Zardari keeps his pledge to reduce Presidential powers now that he holds the office. The President can currently dissolve the National Assembly at his whim. I don't expect Zardari to relinquish any power. But if he did it would go a long way in reducing the fragility of Pakistani democracy.
Friday, September 5, 2008
As I was listening to the song, I recalled that the two sisters who comprise Heart, Ann and Nancy Wilson, are liberals and probably aren't too happy with their song being associated with the GOP. Sure enough, the Wilson sisters have sent the McCain-Palin campaign a cease and desist letter.
Obviously, it is their song and they can withhold permission from the McCain-Palin campaign if they wish. But clearly Palin has long had an affinity for this song. You would think Palin's association with the song would renew interest in their album Little Queen on which the song appears. It would boost record sales and introduce a new generation of fans to the song and to Heart. Ann and Nancy Wilson are entitled to their opinion but why go out of your way to diss someone who obviously likes your song? I'm sure there are a lot of Republican women (and men) who own their albums. They would be wise not to alienate people who helped make them rock n' roll icons.