Thursday, April 30, 2015

Print The Legend

As you may recall, in the classic John Ford western "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance", the man who became famous for shooting Liberty Valance wasn't the man who actually shot Liberty Valance.

When he tries to explain this to a bunch of journalists at the end of the picture, one of them replies:

"This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact...print the legend."

I was reminded of this recently while reading about the fabled charge up San Juan Hill, in the Spanish American War.

Did you know that a company of black Buffalo Soldiers fought their way to the top of the hill either well before or at precisely the same time as Teddy Roosevelt and his Roughriders? (Historians disagree on the exact timing.)

I didn't.

Their white commander called them the bravest men he ever saw.

I didn't know that either.

But when you see the pictures celebrating the famous charge, there's the Roughriders, that strange amalgam of Harvard toffs and western shitkickers, and there's Teddy with that crazy look in his eyes. And not a single black face in sight.

Now, I'm not saying that Teddy and his boys weren't brave, too. I'm just saying....well, you know what I'm saying.

(Curiously, the 'hero' of the film, the man who did shoot Liberty Valance, did it from the side, at night, out of a dark alley, while Valance's attention was elsewhere...hmmm...makes you wonder about the nature of some kinds of heroism, don't it? John Ford was a complex man.)

Saturday, April 25, 2015

This Space For Sale

Since, as they say at the Audubon Society, it's never too early to feather your own nest, I'd like to announce that my Republican presidential endorsement for 2016 is up for sale to the highest bidder.

And in keeping with the finest traditions of the Citizens United era of this great land of ours, I expect it to go for a pretty penny.

So, get out your checkbooks boys! Call all of your fave billionaires and get busy bribing me.

In the interest of full disclosure my endorsement doesn't include my vote. I wouldn't vote for any of you if you put a gun to my head. Jesus, what a bunch of pandering scum!

But still, if there's money to be made off this election, and there surely is, I want my share.

And I really don't care who it comes from: Shelly "King of the Jews" Adelson,  either Koch brother, one of those libertarian halfwits that Silicon Valley seems to crap out on a regular basis, or any other billionaire weasel trying to buy up our democracy.

I ain't particular.

All I ask is small bills and non-sequential serial numbers.

Thank You,

And God Bless America.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Another Brief Memo To The Republican Party About 2016

Another Bush?!  Rand Paul? Rick Perry? Scott Walker? Marco Rubio? Ted Cruz? Chris Christie? (Shudder)

Hey Guys! It's not your candidates, though face it, they are, almost without exception, loathsome, demi-humans.

It's your stupid shit, ante-bellum, anti-women, anti-gay, anti-minority, anti-workers, anti-sanity, anti-environment policies.

Now, don't get me wrong, I don't mention this because I care about the future of the Republican Party.

Fuck the Republican Party. Seriously.

No, I mention this because every single thing you do is just so aesthetically unpleasing. It harshes my mellow.

Anyway, I know you won't listen because, despite your overall awfulness, you'll still pull in the hillbilly, racist, homophobe, misogynist, free market, Ayn Rand, Luddite, Creationist, Bible thumpin', regressive, gun lovin', mouth breathing, brain dead, xenophobe dipshit vote.

You know, the Big Tent.

Plus, whatever the failings of your candidates, you can always count on handouts from the vile billionaire Koch brothers and their ilk, who collect and trade Republicans like kids with YuGiOh cards. To re-purpose an old Churchill (or perhaps GB Shaw) quote: "We've already determined what you are. Now we're just haggling about the price."

So hey, never mind. Keep up the good work!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Signor Baseball's 2015 AL Preview

Get out your needles and your "juice", A-Rod is back! That's right, it's time for our "National Pastime" to resume. Brace yourself for a summer of 4 hour games, endless pitching changes, blown calls even with replay, Tommy John surgeries, phenoms who fail, Cuban defectors, and all the other stuff that still fascinates those of us of a certain age or a certain mind set.

In general, the American League seems to be racing towards something like parity, irrespective of the amount teams can spend. This has nothing to do with the triumph of the free market, by the way. The smart boys in Vegas have a whole bunch of teams bunched around the 84-85 win mark, with none clearly dominant.

Which means Signor Baseball has no idea who is going to win.

But having no idea about what you're talking about is as American as, well, baseball, so here goes:

In the East, the Orioles are the class of the division, unless the dreaded--and inevitable--BSFS, (Buck Showalter Fatigue Syndrome), has started to set in. If it hasn't, Baltimore, which is loaded everywhere, might run away by mid Summer. By the way, Mrs. Franklin, young Ben Jr. and I had tickets to game six of the ALCS at Camden Yard last Fall. But there wasn't a game six because the Orioles got blown out by the Royals. The Royals! After a down year, Boston went out and bought bunches of ball players. A Panda now plays third base and a shortstop now plays left field. Most everybody in the Red Sox lineup can hit, a few of them can actually catch the ball, and if their pitching stays healthy they can hang close to the Orioles. Toronto has Russell Martin at catcher, which means the Blue Jays will probably make the playoffs, because teams with Russell Martin at catcher almost always make the playoffs.You can look it up, as they say. In the big city, the New York Yankees will need an injury free year from their entire team, especially their pitching staff, to contend. The odds of that happening are the same as the odds of Alex Rodriguez ever getting into the Hall of Fame. Derek Jeter's replacement, Didi Gregorius, has a major league glove, superior range, and a suspect bat--but if everyone else could hit, it wouldn't matter. Unfortunately, everyone else can't hit...Gardner, Texeira, McCann, Ellsbury, and a couple others can still play a little, but most of them are on the downward slope career wise, and unless everything falls into place the Yanks will battle the Rays to stay out of last place. How Tampa reacts to losing their manager and their best starter is anyone's guess. Their handful of faithful fans will be sad, but the vast majority of Floridians won't care a bit.

The Central should be a free-for-all right until the bitter end. Detroit has gone from having three number 1 starters (for all the good it did them in the playoffs last year) to just one to start the season. But they still have a lot of punch, and if Verlander can return to form the Tigers will be fine. Cleveland has a solid manager, a Cy Young winner and some good young hitters. Chicago added pitching and hitting. And Kansas City is the defending American League champion. So put those four teams in a hat and pick one. I'm going White Sox, Tigers, Indians, Royals. But it could be the exact inverse of that. Or something in between. Anything is possible in this best of all possible worlds. I mean, the Royals, for God's sake, were in the World Series last year. The Royals! That couldn't happen again this year...Could it? In this harrowing time, full of uncertainty, one thing is certain: The Minnesota Twins will finish last. Sorry least you still have all of those nice lakes to enjoy. 10,000, isn't it? That should keep you busy.

Out West, Texas had a nightmare, injury plagued season last year, and should've been primed to bounce back to close to a .500 record. Unfortunately, they've already lost their best starter for the entire season. A cynic might say this was God's punishment on Texas for giving us the Bush family. I will leave it to the theologians to hash that out. Besides, a .500 record wouldn't get the Rangers to the top of the division. Seattle is better, Oakland is better, California is better, and the Astros are, uh...never mind the Astros. But the A's traded away a big bat for a rent-an-ace only to fall apart late last year, and the Angels have spent a ton of money recently with disappointing results, so let's take the Mariners to win. I mean, why not? After the Super Bowl our hyper caffeinated friends in the Northwest need something to lift the gloom. Let's put the A's second, and the Angels, who seem to be acting like complete pricks in l'affaire Hamilton, third. That leaves the two Texas teams battling to stay out of the cellar. The Good Book tells us that one day the first shall be last, and the last shall be first. Or something like that. But not this year. Sorry Houston.

Of course, like a Republican presidential candidate, I could be wrong about everything. No matter; nobody--besides the NSA--is keeping track of this stuff anyway...

Friday, April 10, 2015

Signor Baseball's 2015 NL Preview

Hey Man! Forget about wealth inequality and climate change and ISIS/ISIL and racism and sexism and all the other isms we seem doomed to wallow in. It's baseball season! Spring for the MLB package, get the big Costco bag of chips, load up the Frigidaire with cheap beer and relax....Bread and circuses baby!

The National League East should be all Washington. They've added Max Scherzer to an already strong pitching staff and have more than enough hitting to get by. So get ready for the Nationals to more or less run away with it...And then get ready for Matt Williams to screw up the bullpen in the playoffs and the watch the Nationals crash and burn. Again.  Miami, even with their farm system churning out a seemingly endless supply of good young players, doesn't look strong enough to contend for the whole season, and Atlanta has lost too many big bats and arms to be feared, though the Braves always seem to come up with new talent from somewhere. Both teams should keep pace with Washington for awhile, but eventually drift back, with little or no chance at a wild card. The Mets will be better--perhaps even the best team in New York--for whatever that is worth these days. Unless Matt Harvey blows out his arm again. At that point their season will be reduced to guessing what Bartolo Colon weighs. The Philadelphia Phillies have, right before our eyes, gone from being the strength of the division to being a train wreck. By mid season, Cole Hamels, who deserves better, will sue for lack of support and demand to be traded anywhere.

In the Central, if you believe the hype, the Chicago Cubs are legitimate contenders. New manager, new ace, best farm system in the majors. On the other hand, they've sent a player who sounds like the second coming of Mike Schmidt down to the minors for a few weeks to save some money. Don't you just love it when billionaires pinch pennies?  Oh, and they screwed up rebuilding the bleachers so badly that Wrigley Field will now look like a construction site for the first two months of the season. Sounds like the same old Cubs to me. The Cardinals are still the team to beat, just like last year, and the year before that, and the year before that, and... St. Louis will be closely followed by the Pirates, with their all-star outfield, the Brewers, who gacked up a big lead last year in fairly impressive fashion, and the Cincinnati Reds, who always look better on paper than they really are. However, if the Cubs are as advertised, this might be a 5 team race to the very end, with a wild card probably coming from this division as well.

Out West, even with all the line-up changes, San Francisco and Los Angeles are still at the top of the heap.The Dodgers have the highest payroll in MLB, and that ought to count for something--shouldn't it? I mean, look at the Yankees...The Giants, on the other hand, just win World Series on a regular basis with strong pitching, Buster Posey, and any seven other guys they can find. Somebody in "The City" must know what they're doing. San Diego got themselves a whole new outfield, a #1 starter, an elite closer and should compete. They look impressive on paper, but the Padres' Petco Field seems to be a place where power hitters go to die. So Meyers, Kemp, and the "good" Upton may just end up with a lot of long outs. Arizona has a new manager, no everyday big league catcher, a starting staff you've never heard of, and the look of a non-contender. They spent a lot of money on a Cuban kid who apparently can't field very well, wherever they put him. Maybe someday the Diamondbacks will start an everyday lineup with real major leaguers at every position. To quote Principal Skinner, "Prove me wrong kids, prove me wrong." They will be lucky to stay a little ahead of Colorado, which is still a lovely place to spend the summer. And that legal weed should help people cope with yet another mediocre Rockies team. You have to wonder at what point Tulowitzki says "get me out of here!"

But hey, it's a long, long season and anything is possible, so "play ball!"

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Dear Israel,

Dear Israel,

Nobody said you couldn't have a war with Iran--if that's what you really want.

Just do it on your own dime.

Let's see how long Sheldon Adelson can keep you afloat...


Your Pal,

The Good Old USA

PS remember the U.S.S. Liberty?

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Clarifying The Situation

Personally, I think it's great when a state codifies its prejudices and/or general stupidity. For one thing, it removes all doubt about what vermin they have as their governor and in their legislatures.

And that's a good thing!

Because now, when they pretend that they aren't bigoted, phony Christian, science denying, gerrymandering, vote suppressing, homophobic, misogynistic, sociopathic assholes, we can say, "hey, but you made this law, which clearly indicates that you are!"

Ha ha ha.

Not that it will matter to the idiots that elected them, but still...

So go Indiana! Go Arizona! Go Arkansas! Go Texas! Go Florida! Go Mississippi! Go North Carolina! Go South Carolina! Go Oklahoma! Go Kansas!

Hmmm, I see a definite pattern here...