Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Bruce Bochy = Barack Obama?

So I'm watching the Giants-Cubs game last night, and watch Geovany Soto take Tim Lincecum deep for a 2-0 Cubs lead.  And I'm thinking to myself, "That's the game.  This offense can't come back from a two run deficit."  Then Lincecum walks the opposing pitcher (!), Cubs SS Starlin Castro hits a tailor-made double play grounder to Giants SS Orlando Cabrera, who promptly boots it (!!).  Now, up come Blake DeWitt (are you freaking kidding me...DeWitt?!?) who proceeds to deposit Linceum's offering on a line, threading the needle, just over the right field wall for a three-run bomb (!!!) and a now insurmountable-in-the-next-three-games 5 to nothing lead.

And I change the channel (oooohhhh..."Point Break" with Keanu Reeves...now we're cookin'!)

The post-mortem was, I expected, going to be more of the same from Giants' skipper Bruce Bochy.  Surprise, surprise...it was not.

In fact, it was not...period.

Bruce Bochy has decided he is tired of answering questions.  The same questions.  The same questions, day in and day out, as this OFFENSIVE offense of the Giants has hit (dare I say it?) rock bottom.  He wants reporters to ask the players.

After all, he has tried everything.  Lineup changes.  Meetings.  Yelling.  Challenging key veterans to step up their game.  To no avail.  It seems like they’re unreachable, the offense is unwatchable and the season is unwinnable.

Excuses are like a certain part of the human anatomy, Bruce.  Everybody's got one.  Excuses are over; it's time for change.  Real change.  Like telling these non-performing vets to grab some pine (you hear me, Cabrera/Tejada/Huff/Ross/Whiteside/Rowand?!?) and replace them with the future.  It is no coincidence the Giants have gone 10-20 since bringing in Carlos Beltran as a rental player and sending down future SS Brandon Crawford.  With an offense this dismal, the defense has to be perfect.  And since Crawford has left, the defense has gone down, down, d

So, man up, Bruce.  Be the manager.  Run the team.  You don't have to DFA these guys (though you should), but they have to be told that their season is done.  They have not lived up to expectations, and it's time for new blood.

Someone needs to tell Barack Obama the same thing.  The excuses are over, Mr. President.  Over, done, finito.  Your economic policies are monumental CRAP and need to be junked.  You screwed up.  You tried to create the socialist utopia in a country that has always rewarded entrepreneurship and risk-taking.  You failed.  Epically.  It was never going to work, Mr. President, because we are not a nation of quitters, a nation of spongers living off the fruits of others' labors.  We are a nation of fighters.  Of risk-takers.  Of men and women who believe that they can achieve anything they set their mind to.  And you and those that think like you, and your policies, have made it harder to succeed.  You have placed obstacles in front of job creators, and we are sick of it.

And we are sick of your excuses, too.

The Japanese earthquake...the subsequent tsunami...the European banking crisis...the T.E.A. Party...ATMs...Hurricane Irene...it's all Bush's fault!  It seems that the poor state of the U.S. economy is EVERYBODY'S fault...except yours, Mr. President.  So my advice to you is the same as my advice to Bochy:  man up.  Take the blame.  Accept that you are the primary reason the economy is sputtering.  Business, large and small, is all saying the same thing.  They simply will not hire because the state of uncertainty is too great.

You want business to start hiring?  The solution is simple:

Repeal your hideous offense against freedom and fiscal responsibility, the misnamed Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, AKA Obamacare.  

Trash it.  Bring about REAL change, Mr. President, by taking the economy back towards free markets and free citizens.

That will get the jobs machine growing, and ultimately the economy will follow.

But you won't.  You and Bochy are the same.  Too damn stubborn to admit you are wrong.

One additional note:  Lance Corporal Cory Szucs, who gave his left leg in Afghanistan, threw out the first pitch last night in Cleveland as the Tribe took on the visiting Oakland A's.  Class act by the Cleveland organization, and thanks to you, Cory.

Looked like a strike to me, Cory.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Entering Enemy Territory

Panoramic view of Turner Field

So I have now added Atlanta's Turner Field to the stable of ballparks I have visited (joining AT&T Park in San Francisco, Dodger Stadium, Petco Park in San Diego, Oakland Coliseum, Edison Field in Anaheim, Safeco Field in Seattle, Chase Field in Arizona, as well as Candlestick Park, old Yankee Stadium, Shea Stadium in New York, and Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego).  I still have a long way to go, but look forward to the journey.

I have been the "visitor" to see my Giants play in 6 different ballparks now, and Turner Field is by far the classiest.  Considering what happened to Bryan Stow in Los Angeles earlier this year, there was a bit of....mmmmm...shall we say, "trepidation" as my sons and I walked through the parking lot headed to the gate all decked out in our Giants gear.  With my boys openly mocking the Braves fans by wearing their NL Champions and WS Champions shirts (I was stylishly decked out in my 2001 Reyn Spooner San Francisco Giants Aloha shirt with a Giants golf cap), I expected some difficulty, both in and out of the stadium.  It was not to be, however, as we were warmly welcomed by Braves fans (and the many....MANY...Giants fans in attendance).

William, 19 and Daniel, 21, mocking Braves fans

The Reyn Spooner, I will add, is now undefeated in 3 ballparks where the Giants are visitors (it was also worn in the 2006 World Baseball Classic at Chase Field when the USA defeated Mexico 2-0, so that sort of makes 4), winning at Turner Field, Petco Park, and the hated Dodger Stadium.  It was also soaked in beer at Dodger Stadium, courtesy of an unruly illegal immigrant drunk Dodger fan who decided to shower me with his frosty malt beverage as the Giants pounded the Dodgers.  But there was zero behavior of this sort at Turner Field, despite the fact that I was able to shout very loudly, "Got Heem" 9 times as Matt Cain destroyed the Braves lineup.

I look forward to visiting Turner Field again Tuesday, October 4th, 2011, as the Giants will be coming into Turner Field up 2 games to none and ready to wrap their Divisional Series with the Braves.

See you in October, Braves fans!

Monday, August 15, 2011


As I did last year (via Twitter), the time has come to predict the MLB playoffs.  Last year, I did VERY well, correctly predicting all 8 teams.  Without further ado, here is where things stand now:

AL East                    AL Central               AL West
Boston                       Detroit                        Texas
New York                 Cleveland                    Los Angeles
Tampa Bay                Chicago                      Oakland
Toronto                      Minnesota                  Seattle
Baltimore                   Kansas City

NL East                    NL Central                NL West
Philadelphia               Milwaukee                  Arizona
Atlanta                       St. Louis                     San Francisco
New York                 Cincinnati                   Colorado
Washington               Pittsburgh                   Los Angeles
Florida                       Chicago                      San Diego

I think we can all agree that Baltimore, Seattle, Kansas City, Minnesota, Oakland, and Toronto are out in the American League (yes, Blue Jays fans, I realize I left the White Sox in with their losing record...ya'll are in the AL East...'nuff said).  Likewise, it is safe to say that Houston, Chicago, San Diego, Los Angeles, Colorado, Florida, Pittsburgh, Washington,  and New York are also looking to 2012 by now.

That leaves 8 teams in the AL and 7 in the NL still battling for 4 spots in each league.  Let's start with the Junior Circuit.

The Boston Red Sox started slow, but will finish strong and win the East and secure home field advantage.  As the Yankees will be the Wild Card, and they are in the same division as the BoSox, Boston will open up at home against...wait for it...the Detroit Tigers.  Detroit will ride Justin Verlander to the Central title, nipping a game but overmatched Cleveland Indians club.  The Yankees will open at West repeat champion Texas Rangers, who will put away the Los Angeles Angels this month (7 games in the next two weeks).  Tampa Bay will make it close, but will be unable to make up their deficit to the Yankees for the Wild Card.  And the White Sox?  Well, you can't win the division with a losing record.  And the Sox can't win at Comiskey.  Next year, South Side!  On to the Senior Circuit.

Oh, to be a Philadelphia Phillies fan!  Start with arguably one of the best starting rotations in the league, then add Hunter Pence into the mix and, damn.  The Phillies will run away with the East, leaving the Wild Card Braves deep in their wake and secure home field.  Again, as in the AL, the Phillies will not open with the Wild Card Braves, but host the Milwaukee Brewers, champions of the Central, come playoff time.  St. Louis and a surging Cincinnati Reds team, feasting on weaker clubs in the last two months of the season, will fall just short, but keep the Brew Crew on their toes through the final week of the season.  This leaves Atlanta to once again hit the road for..."I left, my hearrrrrrrrrrt, in Saaaaaan Franciscooooo!" The Giants will awaken their offense, and their stellar pitching staff will carry the Giants through to the West championship.  Arizona, playing way over their heads, will falter on a vicious 10 game road trip through Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Washington beginning Tuesday, then wither under the pressure of playing the surging Giants 6 times in the final month.

So there we stand on this day, August 15th, 6 weeks left in the season.  Red Sox-Tigers and Rangers-Yankees in the AL.  Phillies-Brewers and Giants-Braves in the NL.

You read it here first.

P.S. It's too early to predict the political side of 2012, other than to say one thing:

Obama is toast, and will go down as the worst president ever.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

On Yankees and General Welfare

I am not now, nor have I ever been (for that matter, nor will I EVER be) a Yankees fan.  In fact, what I feel for the Yankees is close to utter contempt.

I hate that they buy the playoffs every year.

I hate that they have their own damn TV channel!

I hate Joe Torre (OK, so he's not the manager anymore...so?!?!?)!

But, I do like what one of their pitchers has done.  Tuscaloosa native and former Alabama player David Robertson, along with his wife Erin, started a foundation after April's devastating tornados to help Alabamians whose lives have been irretrievably devastated.
High Socks for Hope, through The David and Erin Robertson Foundation, is dedicated to assisting those affected by the April 27th tornadoes in Tuscaloosa and throughout the state of Alabama.  The foundation strives to lend support to charities and organizations helping those who suffered loss and were affected by this tragedy.  David has pledged to donate $100 for every strikeout he records throughout the 2011 Season.  With 71 K's in 46.2 IP so far this season, The 2011 All Star is well on his way to contributing over $10,000 on his own.  And he assuredly has a few of his teammates quietly joining in.

So I say, "Good for you, David Robertson!  Finally, a Yankee I can admire. Roll Tide!"  And I encourage you to check out the website yourself and see how you can help.

Which is as it should be...citizens helping citizens.  I don't mean the government should not help, not at all.  I just feel that we the people can do a much better job of helping without all the red tape and bloated bureaucracy.

A reminder...the Preamble to the Constitution of the United States of America states, and I quote:

"...promote the general Welfare..."

Last I looked, the word "promote" does not mean "give everyone whatever they want."  As defined by Merriam-Webster, the word means " to contribute to the growth or prosperity of."  Thanks to folks like David and Erin Robertson, and many like them all over this great country, the people of Alabama (and, to a lesser extent, Georgia and Tennessee) are well on their way to recovery.

Exactly as it should be.

Thursday, August 11, 2011


I am a life-long fan of the San Francisco Giants.  I waited 40 years for them to win the World Series, suffering through losing seasons and oh-so-close playoff and World Series games.  I have been a fan since 1970, when I was able to truly comprehend what it was to be Willie Mays (the greatest ballplayer of all time).  As a fan, and a student of the game, it pains me to say this.  But it must be said.

The Giants have gotten complacent.

Yes, the dreaded "c" word.  They believe that lightning will strike twice.  Can you otherwise explain why they stubbornly continue to run Aubrey Huff out there, day after day, only to have him ground out weakly to second?  Why did management sign players such as Miguel Tejada in the offseason and trade for players like Orlando Cabrera during the season?  I think I know why.

The team feels they have the pieces in place to repeat, despite the losses of key players like Buster Posey and Freddy Sanchez to injury, and believes a few tweaks here and there will do the trick.

Let me tell you, that may have worked if those left over from 2010 were having seasons like they did in 2010.  Huff, Cody RossAndres TorresPat Burrell, among others are nowhere near 2010 numbers, much less career numbers.

Standing pat was never going to work.  Tejada at shortstop was never going to work.  The lack of a feared bat in the lineup, every day, was never going to work.  And expecting players to have career years...again...was complacency at its worst.  And the team, and its fans, will pay for it.  I remain hopeful, seeing that we are in much better shape than we were in August of 2010.  But can we pull off another 18-8 record in September to effectively seal the deal?  Not with this offense.

Complacency in baseball is painful to watch.  Complacency in government is deadly.  And we are seeing that right now, from both parties, but most painfully from the president.  He is supposed to be the leader.  He is supposed to knuckle down and solve these problems afflicting this country.  A weak and sinking economy.  Rising unemployment.  A country drowning in debt.  But what is he doing instead?

A campaigning and fund raising bus tour of the midwest, followed by 10 days in Martha's Vineyard.  Really feeling our pain, I see.

Show of hands, how many of you are going/have gone to the Vineyard this summer?  Hmmm...not many.

I do not begrudge the president a vacation.  We all deserve one.  I do, however, begrudge the man being so damn complacent that he is now tone-deaf to what the citizens of this nation are going through.  If its not unemployment, its the erosion of personal wealth as home values and the stock markets have collapsed.  I think the president truly believes his re-election is a cinch; that the media will shield him from his many missteps and mishandling of the job.  I think he truly believes he is right, no matter how wrong reality is showing his policies to be.  I think his arrogance and superior attitude will hoist him on his own petard.  And I don't think he understands how much damage, possibly permanent, he has done to this great nation.

Come November 2012, he will find out.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Small market teams and economic survival

Milwaukee.  Kansas City.  Cincinnati.  These are the three smallest markets with an MLB team (the Brewers, the Royals, the Reds).  But have you ever really heard the Reds referred to as a "small market team?"  The Royals, yes.  The Brewers...well, maybe.  But the Reds?  Never.

But what about Minnesota?  In 2002, they were targeted for elimination...sorry, "contraction."  The Twins play in the 10th smallest market (larger than perennial contenders St. Louis, Colorado, and Tampa Bay) and have constantly been tagged as a "small market team."

For reference's sake, I've never heard a threat of contraction regarding the Vikings, and they have NEVER won a championship.  At least the Twins have brought home two World Series titles (1987 and 1991).  Both teams pull from the same market of roughly 3 million people.

Was this a ploy to get out of the Metrodome (AKA The Twinkiedome) contract and get Target Field built? When you consider some of the names being bandied about as a possible landing spot for the Twins (Raleigh/Durham with less than half the population, Las Vegas with more than a million less, Portland with almost a million less, and...New Jersey?!?), yes, it was a ploy.  And a successful one, at that.  In response to the threatened loss of the Twins, private and public sector groups negotiated and approved a financing package for a replacement stadium, a baseball-only outdoor, natural turf ballpark in the Warehouse District of downtown Minneapolis, owned by a new entity known as the Minnesota Ballpark Authority.  Target Field was constructed at a cost of $544.4 million (including site acquisition and infrastructure), utilizing the proceeds of a $392 million public bond offering based on a 0.15 percent sales tax in Hennepin County and private financing of $185 million provided by the owners, the Pohlad family.  Commissioner Bud Selig, who earlier had threatened "contraction," observed that without the new stadium the Twins could not have committed to sign their star player, home-grown catcher Joe Mauer, to an unprecedented 8-year, $184 million contract extension.

Seriously?  New Jersey?

I don't hear the Brewers complaining, and you darn well don't hear the Green Bay Packers, reigning NFL champions and 4 time Super Bowl winners, whining about being in the smallest market of any professional sports team in the four major leagues (MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL).

So, why the futility of the Royals?  Why no sniff of the playoffs for 26 years (the year of their lone World Series title) and only six times in that span finishing above .500?  Can't blame their market.  Smaller markets that have produced competitive teams include Orlando (the NBA Magic), Indianapolis (the NFL Colts), San Antonio (the NBA Spurs), New Orleans (the NFL Saints and the NBA Hornets), and...I could go on.  But why bother?  Why rub it in?

Truthfully, what it comes down to is ECONOMICS.  The Royals refuse to spend the money necessary to keep the team competitive.  This downward spiral began upon the death of owner Ewing Kauffman, who set up a complex succession plan that would keep the team in Kansas City, but doomed the franchise to a five-member board making baseball decisions until the team was sold to David Glass, the chairman of the board (who's bid was $19 million less than the original bidder, Miles Prentice).  The list of those that were shipped out in the name of cutting payroll is long...and impressive.

David Cone.  Brian McRae.  Johnny Damon.  Jermaine Dye.  Kevin Appier.  Carlos Beltran.  David DeJesus.  Zack Greinke.  Always rebuilding, never contending.  Because they just don't want to show anyone the money.

Baseball teams, however, are not like government.  Spending does not solve everything.  In truth, in government circles, spending more taxpayer money solves nothing.

Unless you just want to grow the debt.  From July 22 to August 8, the S&P 500 has dropped an outrageous 225.56 points.  Eleven trading sessions.  16.78% decrease.  This is not just a debt issue.  This is so much more.

This is a crisis of confidence.  And that won't change anytime soon.

Get ready...in a manner of speaking, we will all soon be Kansas City Royals fans.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

No place for machismo

If you have not yet discerned by the enormous logo background, I am a fan (lifelong) of the San Francisco Giants.  And while I will write about ALL of baseball (Jerry Meals would have been eviscerated here, had I been blogging two weeks ago...he was out, Jerry), I must confess I will focus on the Giants.

So let me make a case for something I will most assuredly be disagreed with about:


Last night's on-field brawl between the Phillies and the Giants (Dodgers?  Who?), a rivalry that is becoming more bitter by the hour, was initiated by an inside fastball from Giants reliever Ramon Ramirez that went a little too far inside to Phillies centerfielder Shane Victorino...about 18 inches too far inside.  The fastball struck Victorino square in the back, which prompted Victorino to walk menacingly towards the mound (all 5'9" of him...I doubt he would have moved if 6'6" Guillermo Mota was on the mound).  Giants catcher Eli Whiteside intervened, followed by home plate umpire Mike Muchlinski, and...well, you can probably guess the rest.  If you need help, here's the video link:


Anyhoo, this is all part of a disturbing and ridiculous trend in baseball that needs to stop.  Let me repeat...THIS NEEDS TO STOP!  Hey, Shane, your Phillies have been hammering Ramirez since he came into the game, and Jimmy Rollins added insult to injury by stealing second base (after his two-run single gave the Phightin' Phils a 6 run lead in the sixth inning...not kosher, James), Placido Polanco reached on an infield hit...well, Shane, you have to expect a brushback here.  So, you take offense to it, and instead of taking your base (loading the bases, by the way) you want to pick a fight?  Seriously?

Listen, brushback pitches are a part of the game.  In the good old days, you shook it off and made the pitcher pay the next time you came to the plate.  You didn't charge the mound and initiate a brawl.  Grow up, all of you.  Yes, continue to pitch inside, move a guy off the plate, send a message, whatever.  But let your pitcher get revenge for you by doing the same to one of the other team's best players (don't worry, Aubrey Huff...you're safe).  Pablo Sandoval and Buster Posey (when he returns) just have to accept it.  As long as its not at the head.  Never at the head.  You hear me where you are, Don Drysdale?!?  But drop this posturing, chest-pounding machismo, boys.  It doesn't belong on the field.

Which brings to another place where this posturing machismo has no place.  The halls of government.

Now that our credit rating has been downgraded (thanks bunches, Standard and Poors...did your report have to be so biased towards the left wing?), perhaps our representatives on the Hill will get serious about cutting spending and fixing our fiscal house.

"But what about revenues?!?" the liberals scream, foaming at the mouth, waving their arms frantically.

I'm fine with that.  Really, I am.

First, let's fundamentally overhaul the tax code, starting with a reduction in corporate taxes and a tax holiday to get all that overseas revenue repatriated back here.  Eliminate the loopholes so GE can't sit on Obama's useless "Council on Jobs" while paying zero taxes in 2010 and shipping jobs overseas.

Next, lets eliminate all those tax breaks and subsidies the liberals want gone:  tax breaks for corporate jet owners (hey...YOU guys put that in the tax code, not us conservatives!), tax breaks for oil and gas companies, etc.  But we also eliminate all the subsidies and tax breaks for "green energy," buh-bye ethanol subsidies, adios tax breaks for hybrid or electric vehicles.  You want the welfare for industries that conservatives support gone, then your pet projects that all seem to be around environmental subsidies are gone, too.  If ethanol can't stand on its own in a competitive market, tough.  If consumers don't want to pay $33,000 for an ugly, subcompact Chevy Volt without a big tax break from Uncle Sam, so be it.  If homeowners aren't willing to shell out tens of thousands of dollars to put solar panels on their roof as a long-term investment, then the government has no business paying them to do it.

Finally, initiate a low flat tax coupled with a consumption tax.  Nothing could be more fair, as the "rich" will pay more on both their income and the luxury items they buy.  The last time I looked, "fair" still means everyone has to do roughly the same.  And 10% of $1,000,000 is still ten times more than 10% of $100,000, and twenty times more than 10% of $50,000.  For some reason, "fairness" in the tax code according to liberals means the government takes all the money they can from successful people and dole it out to those unwilling to work hard, whether that was in school when they were young or at a job when they were older.

The government does not provide jobs.  The government has a responsibility to act like an adult and collect the taxes necessary to function while doing the least amount of harm economically.  The current tax code has gotten away from that...WAY away from that.  It is high time for the posturing and chest-thumping to end in DC, and let's get back to making this economy work for all of us.

Machismo has no place on the diamond, nor in the halls of government.  Got that, Mr. President?