Sunday, July 28, 2013

Signor Baseball's Mid Season Update

Hey, how 'bout those Astros?!

Just kidding...forget about baseball, the good folks of Houston are now focused on one thing and one thing only: being crushed emotionally when Dwight Howard doesn't lead them to the NBA championship.

But in those cities where Major League baseball is still being played, we're more than halfway through the season, so it must be time for Signor Baseball's Mid Season update.

Let's start with the NL West. The Diamondbacks have been a little better than I expected and the Dodgers and the Giants worse. That makes for a tight race, probably till the end. But I still expect the Arizona Grinders to fade (their starting pitching is thin and unless someone other than Goldschmidt starts driving in runs there isn't enough offense) and LA to prevail...I'm not sure what happened to San Francisco this year, but they are running out of time to fix it. And Yasiel Puig is either the second coming of Willie Mays or Willie Mays Aikens. Like most things in life, only time will tell...

In the NL Central Pittsburgh and Cincinnati are chasing St. Louis and will grab at least one, and maybe both, of the Wild Cards. Since my son is a long suffering Pirates' fan, I hope they can finally win something...Elsewhere, the seemingly eternal anguish of being a Cubs' fan continues. And Milwaukee's best player has been caught in the PED drag net. Time to bust out the cheesehead and Packers' jersey.

Atlanta has built a comfortable lead in the NL East, despite both Upton brothers' failures at the plate. After a torrid start, Justin has been stuck at .250 for months while BJ dreams of getting to .200. Fortunately they have enough other guys hitting and their usual solid pitching. The Nationals haven't lived up to the pre-season hype, but still have time to make a run at the Braves.  The Mets suck, but not nearly as much as the Marlins.

Biggest surprise: well, the Pirates were in first place for awhile. That hasn't happened since Bonds left town.

Biggest disappointments: the Dodgers had a lousy start, mostly due to injuries. But now they're starting to play the way a $200 million plus payroll should. I never bought into the hype about Washington, but everyone who did must be kinda pissed right now.

In the AL East, the Yankees have two engines on fire, the tail just fell off, and the landing gear won't come down. Other than that it's been a smooth flight. Joe Girardi ought to get some sort of award for staying close with the likes of Lyle Overbay, Travis Hafner, Jason Nix, and some guy named Cruz filling in for Jeter, Granderson, and Texieira. Oh, and let's not forget a certain Mr. Alex "Ha Ha Ha You Still Owe Me 100 Million Bucks" Rodriguez, who may be suspended for 100 games--if he ever gets cleared to play in the majors. Still, Jeter and Granderson should be back soon, and it looks like a 4 team race. Boston, Baltimore and Tampa Bay aren't that much better than New York. With the way the rest of the AL looks, at least one of those teams will be a Wild Card, too. Up in Toronto, they spent a ton of money on new talent and expected to contend. As I write this, they are 14 games back. O, Canada!

Detroit is the class of the AL Central, but Cleveland and Kansas City are much closer than I expected. Though I don't think they'll catch the Tigers, the Indians still have a shot at a Wild Card slot. Minnesota hasn't played well since they moved to their new stadium and through hard work and diligence the White Sox have managed to have a worse record than the Cubs. Somewhere Ozzie Guillen is smiling.

And in the AL West, it looks like a two team race between the A's and the Rangers, with the loser having a shot at a Wild Card. Despite spending a boatload of Arte Moreno's money, the Angels can't seem to get out of first gear. This may lead to something drastic--like firing Mike Sciosia. Which would be too bad. He's a good manager in a very puzzling situation. In Seattle, Seahawks' training camp is just around the corner. And in Houston the Astros are neck and neck with the Marlins for the worst record in baseball. The more things change...

Biggest surprises: hard to believe anyone could win back to back Triple Crowns, but Miguel Cabrera just might. And, in his swan song, Mariano Rivera is having one of his best seasons ever.

Biggest disappointments: the Angels and the Blue Jays both spent a lot of money in the off season and they are both way, way, way, back. People lose their jobs over that sort of thing.

Sunday, July 21, 2013


Arizona has been in a drought for more than a decade. There is also a plague of bark beetles attacking whatever living trees they can find.

This leads to a lot of very dry wood.

Because both the state and the Feds can't seem to agree on (or pay for) the requisite forest clearing there's lots and lots of undergrowth to help stoke any fire that happens to start for whatever reason.

And because in Arizona we don't want no dang gubmint meddling in our lives, we allow people to build houses or park their trailers right in the middle of a tinderbox.

Inevitably someone throws a cigarette out of a car, or fails to put out a campfire, or maybe it's simply just a lightning strike. An "Act of God", the insurance companies call it.

It starts as just a spark.

Then the winds shift and lots of brave men die.

And The Arizona Republic gets to take a shot at finally winning a Pulitzer for reporting by running the same tragic stories over and over for weeks. I guess that's what they think "in depth" means.

Arizona's Governor, Jan "Chuck, Tell Me What To Do" Brewer, has asked the hated Feds for aid to help the victims of the fires. Arizona is already a net taker state, so what's a little more? I mean, come on, we're all in this together. Right?

Mrs. Brewer belongs to the Republican Party. You know, the party that demonizes unions just like the ones that fire fighters, policemen, and teachers belong to. Her party also loves to cut taxes and the necessary programs that taxes are used for. If there's a way to underfund something, by God we'll find it!

Welcome to Arizona. We may not want to pay to make your dangerous job a little easier or safer.

But we'll sure throw you a grand funeral.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Stand Your Ground, or: Getting Away With Murder

It goes without saying that the Zimmerman verdict is shocking.

But not particularly surprising.

The Florida law seems to be designed to protect the shooter.

And so, with no eye witnesses, and the other person involved dead, (and more importantly a black male), Georgie gets to walk away clean.

However, I have a feeling that the rest of his life (after the triumphant appearances on Fox News, of course), will be bitter.

And possibly brief...

Extra Credit: As an intellectual exercise, run through the possible legal scenarios if Zimmerman were a 30ish black man and Trayvon a white teenager.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

"Never Give A Sucker An Even Break...

...Never smarten up a chump."

These very wise words were attributed to the great WC Fields, and through the years they have come in handy in many situations.

Today they are especially applicable to the entertaining saga of the Phoenix Coyotes vs the City of Glendale.

Apparently, there is still enough money floating around Glendale that the city can guarantee the hockey team millions each year.

Hooray, I say. Hooray! Besides, it's only money.

One of the ways the City of Glendale is exploring to cover up the growing gap in its finances that was caused almost entirely by the grand sports' schemes of the former Mayor Elaine Scruggs and her team of enabling halfwits--sorry, her friends on the city council is what I meant to say--is to sell some government buildings and then lease them back.

You might think this is a very stupid idea. But that just shows how little you understand about how government in Arizona works.

You might also think that, in regards to the city's involvement with the Coyotes, they should walk away from a bad deal, and not throw good money after bad. Oh, silly you!

Finally, you might wonder how a business that only guarantees an event on 11% of the available nights in a given year could be so important to the success of anything.

Asking questions like these just shows that you are simply not qualified to represent the good folks of Glendale, Arizona.

You see, out here in the untamed West, we believe that a city should be judged by its professional sports teams, and not, say,  by the quality of its schools, or public services, or arts, or the way it takes care of the least of its citizens, or even whether it actually owns its own Townhall.

No, the best way to measure cities is by how much money they can piss away on a mediocre hockey team before they've had enough.

And obviously, Glendale hasn't reached that breaking point yet...

The decision to throw even more money at the Coyotes was met with applause by the many fans who attended the city council vote. These happy hockey lovers then got in their cars and drove back to Mesa, or Gilbert, or Tempe, or Chandler, or Scottsdale, or Phoenix. Somewhere--anywhere--far, far away from the smoldering wreckage that is Glendale.

WC Fields was a very talented man. But I'm sure he never thought of himself as a visionary political theorist.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Everything is All Better Now, or: The South Has Risen

Thank God for the Supreme Court! Without them, and their omniscient wisdom, we'd all still think that racism was a problem here in the good old U S of A.

But no, it's most definitely not. We're past that. We're better than that. That was, after all, a long time ago. Now we're a post racial society.

Chief Justice John Roberts knows this. Just like he knew Citizens United was the right call. He's a very smart man.

Those of us who aren't as smart might think that the factors that made the Voting Rights Act necessary in the first place are still present and active in a large part of the United States.

We might think that the laws enacted by far wiser and better men than those who struck them down are still needed.

We might consider it a classic case of circular reasoning to say that the laws that made some progress possible are no longer needed because they made some progress possible. A simple person might argue that there would have been no progress at all without the laws and that to weaken them will unchain powerful, regressive forces.

For proof we would simply offer the fact that the election of President Obama unleashed a torrent of race based hatred. Hatred that is stoked on a daily basis by Rush Limbaugh and the Fox News creeps.

And that the day--the same day--the decision to strike down part of the law was announced--Texas moved ahead with a restrictive voter ID law that would not have been possible were the law intact.

But that's why we're not on the Supreme Court. We simply don't recognize all of the progress we've made.

We do not live in the same world as John Roberts.

PS If I woke up tomorrow to find Roberts, Scalia, Thomas and Alito hanging from a tree with carrion birds pecking at their livers I would not shed a single tear. Except, perhaps, for the poor birds, which might die from ingesting something so vile.