Friday, May 28, 2010

Friday Hot: Game


photo by Marc LaRoche

Lisa Hannigan: "I Don't Know", but I am game


Thursday, May 27, 2010

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

To Kill a Mockingbird

Two weeks ago, my internet connection was down, my back was injured, and my barely satiable desire to read remained intact. Therefore, I read, for the first time, the fully enjoyable "To Kill a Mockingbird". Yesterday, I read that this year is the 50th anniversary of the publication of the Pulitzer Prize winning book, and that various celebrations of the book will occur throughout the summer. What a happy coincidence that I finally read the book!

An interesting thing about the book: author Harper Lee (photos) identifies, in her own life, with the reclusive Boo Radley of the story. Further, Harper Lee has said she considers the book "a simple love story". She's speaking of Boo Radley's love for the Finch children. In the very last chapter, in the words of Scout, Lee hints at what it is like to watch the world pass by, and to love from behind a barrier. Scout walks Boo Radley home. Boo goes inside, and Scout is left standing on Boo's front porch and looking at Boo's world:

Neighbors bring food with death and flowers with sickness and little things in between. Boo was our neighbor. He gave us two soap dolls, a broken watch and chain, a pair of good-luck pennies, and our lives. But neighbors give in return. We never put back into the tree what we took out of it: we had given him nothing, and it made me sad.

I turned to go home. Street lights winked down the street all the way to town. I had never seen our neighborhood from this angle. There were Miss Maudie's, Miss Stephanie's- there was our house, I could see the porch swing- Miss Rachel's house was beyond us, plainly visible. I could even see Mrs. Dubose's.

I looked behind me. To the left of the brown door was a long shuttered window. I walked to it, stood in front of it, and turned around. In daylight, I thought, you could see to the postoffice corner.

Daylight... in my mind, the night faded. It was daytime and the neighborhood was busy. Miss Stephanie Crawford crossed the street to tell the latest to Miss Rachel. Miss Maudie bent over her azaleas. It was summertime, and two children scampered down the sidewalk toward a man approaching in the distance. The man waved, and the children raced each other to him.

It was still summertime, and the children came closer. A boy trudged down the sidewalk dragging a fishingpole behind him. A man stood waiting with his hands on his hips. Summertime, and his children played in the front yard with their friend, enacting a strange little drama of their own invention.

It was fall, and his children fought on the sidewalk in front of Mrs. Dubose's. The boy helped his sister to her feet, and they made their way home. Fall, and his children trotted to and fro around the corner, the day's woes and triumphs on their faces. They stopped at an oak tree, delighted, puzzled, apprehensive.

Winter, and his children shivered at the front gate, silhouetted against a blazing house. Winter, and a man walked into the street, dropped his glasses, and shot a dog.

Summer, and he watched his children's heart break. Autumn again, and Boo's children needed him.

Atticus was right. One time he said you never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them. Just standing on the Radley porch was enough.
As I made my way home, I thought Jem and I would get grown
but there wasn't much else left for us to learn, except possibly algebra.

The title of the book even refers to Arthur "Boo" Radley and his "shy ways". Note: early in the book, it is discussed that one ought never shoot a mockingbird, for a mockingbird only sings and makes music, and never does harm to crops or to anyone. Later, in the next to last chapter:

Mr. Tate stopped pacing. He stopped in front of Atticus, and his back was to us. "I'm not a very good man, sir, but I am sheriff of Maycomb County. Lived in this town all my life an' I'm goin' on forty-three years old. Know everything that's happened here since before I was born. There's a black boy dead for no reason, and the man responsible for it's dead. Let the dead bury the dead this time, Mr. Finch. Let the dead bury the dead."

Mr. Tate went to the swing and picked up his hat. It was lying beside Atticus. Mr. Tate pushed back his hair and put his hat on.

"I never heard tell that it's against the law for a citizen to do his utmost to prevent a crime from being committed, which is exactly what he did, but maybe you'll say it's my duty to tell the town all about it and not hush it up. Know what'd happen then? All the ladies in Maycomb includin' my wife'd be knocking on his door bringing angel food cakes. To my way of thinkin', Mr. Finch, taking the one man who's done you and this town a great service an' draggin' him with his shy ways into the limelight- to me, that's a sin. It's a sin and I'm not about to have it on my head. If it was any other man, it'd be different. But not this man, Mr. Finch."

Mr. Tate was trying to dig a hole in the floor with the toe of his boot. He pulled his nose, then he massaged his left arm. "I may not be much, Mr. Finch, but I'm still sheriff of Maycomb County and Bob Ewell fell on his knife. Good night, sir."

Mr. Tate stamped off the porch and strode across the front yard. His car door slammed and he drove away. Atticus sat looking at the floor for a long time. Finally he raised his head. "Scout," he said, "Mr. Ewell fell on his knife. Can you possibly understand?"

Atticus looked like he needed cheering up. I ran to him and hugged him and kissed him with all my might. "Yes sir, I understand," I reassured him. "Mr. Tate was right."

Atticus disengaged himself and looked at me. "What do you mean?"

"Well, it'd be sort of like shootin' a mockingbird, wouldn't it?"

Atticus put his face in my hair and rubbed it. When he got up and walked across the porch into the shadows, his youthful step had returned. Before he went inside the house, he stopped in front of Boo Radley. "Thank you for my children, Arthur," he said.

The simple final lines of the book comprise one of my favorite endings to any book. "He" is Atticus:

He turned out the light and went into Jem's room. He would be
there all night, and he would be there when Jem waked up in the

Verklempt, baby.

In "Infamous", Sandra Bullock shines in a supporting role as Harper Lee accompanying her childhood friend, Truman Capote, to Kansas to research the murders which Capote wrote about in "In Cold Blood". Lee had based her Mockingbird character, Dill, on Capote as a child.

Turn your volume way up:


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Friday Hot: Salma Hayek in Cannes


Wonderful dress. It focuses attention on the woman, and in turn focuses attention on the God who could create such a woman. Sublime, all around, from God to Salma to the fashion designer, and back again.

Cannes is an ocean resort. The dress color is soft, like the sky near the ocean. It has a glamour by the sea feel.

The shoulder strap is balanced by the sash.

I love the offset center, and the way the dress gathers around it, and (below) the gold flecks emanating from it. The lack of symmetry creates artistic possibility. The designer's touches are just enough, without being too much.

Much of Hollywood is boring. Salma Hayek is interesting: she makes daring movie choices; she has excellent taste in fashion.

Salma consistently features her cleavage, as she should for career purposes. And besides, why not? Hollywood, done properly, is glamour and sexiness. Therefore: bring it! Bring everything you can, while you can.

Salma does Monroe:

Salma does Morticia ==>

Salma does Bardem?

Tango with Ashley Judd in "Frida", reimagined with different music:

for Campari:


Monday, May 24, 2010

How prevalent is false accusation of rape?

Via Amy Alkon and Wendy McElroy

Peter Neufeld and Barry C. Scheck, co-founders of the Innocence Project:
"Every year since 1989, in about 25 percent of the sexual assault cases referred to the FBI where results could be obtained, the primary suspect has been excluded by forensic DNA testing. Specifically, FBI officials report that out of roughly 10,000 sexual assault cases since 1989, about 2,000 tests have been inconclusive, about 2,000 tests have excluded the primary suspect, and about 6,000 have 'matched' or included the primary suspect.
these percentages have remained constant for 7 years, and the National Institute of Justice's informal survey of private laboratories reveals a strikingly similar 26 percent exclusion rate."

I'm shocked. I thought I was more cynical than most about the legitimacy of many sexual assault accusations, yet 25% is a solid bit higher than I expected. My question:


Why do women falsely accuse of this crime? Is it simply about vengefully hurting someone who has hurt them? b/c this is either the easiest, the only, or the most effective avenue of vengeance open to them?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Southern Brother's baseball team wins Regional Tournament; going to JUCO World Series in Grand Junction, CO

CONGRATULATIONS to TEMPLE COLLEGE on a well earned tournament victory!

Temple Daily Telegram: Diamond Kings

Temple Head Coach Craig McMurtry:
"This is the sweetest win we've had since our program started."

Waco Tribune Herald: MCC Baseball Denied Title in 13th

The Tribune-Herald notes that these teams split their first 6 games this season. Their 7th and final game required 13 innings to be decided.

An email I sent to Bro64:

Hooray! Fantastic series of baseball games: Temple clawed - and I mean clawed - their way through the losers bracket to the tourney championship -- close game after close game. Yesterday's second game - which also was Temple's second game against MCC, ended 10-9. All fans were exhausted from a final hour of tense baseball: scoring threats and heartbreak occurring for both sides; the game seeming to be fully in the balance every minute for an hour. It was tense.

So, today's final game - a rematch third game against MCC in this tourney - couldn't possibly match yesterday. Would likely be a comfortable victory for someone, right? Wrong. Instead: game won by Temple on a solo HR in the bottom of the 13th inning.

Temple's CF, Korey Wacker, is a LH from Harker Heights, which is lightly plopped in between Killeen and Temple. Wacker is listed at 5'9" and 145 lbs - and you get the feeling that listing is exaggerated to make him seem bigger. He played every day in this tourney. CF is a lot of running; our weather is hot and humid. He ran the bases every game - including stolen bases, including beating the MCC pitcher to 1B on a key ground ball infield single in today's game. He played a double header yesterday, and all day today. When, after fighting through the loser's bracket, Temple had used up their top 7 pitchers ---- at that point, just as in little league, the tiny CF trotted in to pitch the 12th inning. You have to savor the scene: it's the last day of the tourney; it's extra innings - one team is about to go to the World Series and one team is about to disband forever; it's a hot and humid 12th inning; Wacker is as tiny skinny as a blade of grass, is dirty dusty sweat-stained, and is trotting in nonchalantly from deep CF so he can climb up onto the pitchers mound. It was a moment.

MCC had a runner on 1B and no one out. Wacker, throwing from well below a 3/4 arm slot, had one good pitch: a sinking, fading change-up. Everything else he had was not a lot. Wacker was a tinier and skinnier Jamie Moyer, only without the good curve and without the pin point control. He just had the change-up, and somehow he rode it for two innings: miraculously stymieing aluminum bat wielding college baseball hitters who had played an 80 game college season just to get their timing down so they could crush this will-o-the-wisp poor man's Jamie Moyer. Yet: throwing the dancing change-up is apparently the way they teach pitching in the baseball hotbed of Harker Heights, TX. Wacker kept chucking it: sidearm slow dancing it in there with a fade-away finish. He gave up two fly balls to the warning track - once with runners on base. Somehow, nothing went out, everything got caught by OFs, MCC didn't score, and Temple got the solo HR in the bottom of the 13th. Pandemonium. A baseball miracle.

Everybody Draw Muhammad Day

May 20, 2010


Saturday, May 08, 2010

Oh Nashville, Oh

Update: declaring blog vacation for a couple of days.


Can't get over these images from Nashville. Guess I was out of touch. I knew things were serious and messy in Nashville. I did not know the flooding had progressed to quite this extent.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Southern Brother's baseball team wins their conference championship!

Congrats to Temple College in Temple, TX, just down the road from Fort Hood. The Leopards will enter the Regional Tournament at Fort Worth Cats Field, beginning on May 16.

Photo: Temple's Zach Cohen about to score the winning run to clinch a doubleheader sweep and a conference championship.

Photo by Mitch Green of the Temple Daily Telegram.

I was just saying, only a week or so ago, that watching Temple College and their opponents is heartening to a baseball fan. They play the right way. Watching them rekindles my own love of the game. By coincidence, Southern Brother emailed the same sentiments yesterday:
I am of the belief that JUCO baseball is baseball at it's purist form. Kids play hard and play because of an absolute love of the game...the game and respect for the game is what matters and those that learn

Game story

Friday Hot: Francesca Bertini

In college, I knew a girl named Francesca. Nice name.

Francesca Bertini was a star Italian actress during the earliest days of movies. She was a pioneer: the first actor to eschew large motions - which were designed for the stage - in favor of a natural style of acting. When movies became talkies, she continued on as a star. Mussolini's fascism, however, derailed the Italian movie industry and derailed Francesca's career. She refused to make another movie until 1976, when Bernardo Bertolucci cajoled her into a role in his Novecento. Francesca also submitted to extensive interviews for the documentary Behind the Screen: Stories of Cinema - The Last Diva (1982)


I put up Francesca, partly, b/c it's Mother's Day weekend. Francesca's photo is shot from below. That's the angle which I, as a child, had when looking up at my mother. Francesca, in profile, reminds of Mom.

A photo of my Mom, Nancy, below. Compared to the onscreen Francesca: Mom is a bit taller, and Mom has more of a Dutch/Northern European look, as opposed to Francesca's Latin look. Still, in profile, I see resemblance - including even the sweep of the hairstyle on the sides.

Francesca in front of the camera:


Thursday, May 06, 2010

Jaded Haven: "Screw you, we're from Texas"

Update Video: PJTV's Roger L. Simon hangs out with Tex. Gov. Rick Perry at Texas Motor Speedway. Gov. Perry is a political star: an effusive "people person" who keeps politics simple and packs heat when he jogs with his dog. You never know when you and your dog will be threatened by either a coyote or a Democrat. Governor Perry has already shot a coyote....


Texas: it's a profane state of mind?

Daphne's blogpost does capture a pervasive attitude amongst residents of this state, as vocalized by the great Ray Wylie Hubbard:

And thank God for it. With Barack and friends running amok in Washington, Daphne's and Ray Wylie's is exactly the sentiment which is needed. Texans are born to be defiant. Any Americans who want to defy Barack can be comforted that Texans will be right there beside em, and will be taunting that lightweight poseur in the Oval Office.

In 1835, when the Mexican Army demanded the surrender of a tiny cannon, residents of Gonzales, TX replied: "Come and take it!" They made a battle flag for the occasion.

Texas History:
Under the leadership of General Santa Anna, the government of Mexico was transformed into a military dictatorship (see the letter by S.F. Austin, p. 85, Texas and the Texans), ignoring the Constitution of 1824, which had cost many lives and had secured liberties not previously enjoyed by the people. The state of Coahuila did not cooperate with Santa Anna's plans, and the state of Zacatecas rebelled, but was brutally crushed by the military. One of Santa Anna's "reforms" was to reduce the number of the militia to one soldier for every five-hundred inhabitants, and to disarm the remainder. This arbitrary decree was a sufficient justification of Texas for her subsequent acts. [Historian H. Yoakum wrote the following in 1855:] "Every one who knows the Texans, or who has heard of them, would naturally conclude that they never would submit to be disarmed."
The eighteen men in Gonzales, willing and able to conduct an organized fight, removed all boats from the Guadalupe River, and hid the ferry in a bayou north of town. Next they captured the handful of Mexican soldiers waiting near town--but one man escaped, and rode hallooing back to Bexar.

Meanwhile, volunteers responding to the call to arms rushed to the scene, and the little Texan force of 18 mushroomed to 150 on September 30...167 on October 1.

Also at this time, Sara Seely DeWitt and her daughter Evaline made the flag, back then referred to as the Old Cannon Flag, now called the Come and Take It flag. Depicted on a white cloth was a cannon with a lone star above it, and the words "come and take it" beneath the cannon. It was Texas' first battle flag, and first lone star flag. [To my knowledge, it is also the only flag that indirectly equates arms to liberty, and that openly defies a tyrant's attempts at gun control. Ed.]

On October 1, 1835, Captain Francisco Castaneda arrived from San Antonio with something less than two hundred men. Ugartechea intended a show of force. Castaneda, blocked by the Guadalupe, demanded the ferry be restored, and the cannon handed over. There was some parleying, a demonstration by the Mexican cavalry near the town, and considerable yelling and taunting by the Texans, who dared the Mexicans to "come and take it!" echoing the words emblazoned on their newly created flag flying in the breeze.
The fog lifted suddenly as a curtain, showing both forces drawn up on an open prairie. With the Come and Take It flag flying, the Gonzales cannon fired, and Captain Castaneda immediately requested a parley, asking why he was being attacked.

Colonel Moore, commander of the Texans, explained that the Captain had demanded a cannon given to the Texans for 'the defense of themselves and the constitution and the laws of the country,' while he, Castaneda, 'was acting under orders of the tyrant Santa Anna, who had broken and trampled underfoot all the state and federal constitutions of Mexico, except that of Texas,' which last the Texans were prepared to defend.

Castaneda answered that 'he was himself a republican, as were two-thirds of the Mexican nation, but he was a professional officer of the government,' and while that government had indeed undergone certain surprising changes, it was the government, and the people of Texas were bound to submit to it.

Moore then suggested to the Captain, if he were a republican, he should join the revolution against tyranny by surrendering his command, and join them in the fight. Captain Castaneda replied stiffly that he would obey his orders. At this, Moore returned to his own lines and ordered the Texans to open fire. There was a brief skirmish, and the Mexican force immediately abandoned the field and rode back toward San Antonio.

Three hundred Spartans prepare for glory at Thermopylae:

Hollywood imagines the epic Molon Labe moment.


Arizona Gov Jan Brewer Speaks Out

Gov Brewer:

[W]ith a federal government unwilling to secure our border for years and years, Arizona is left with little choice.


So here are the facts:

1. The new Arizona law creates a state penalty to mirror what already is a federal crime. Despite the most vile and hate-filled portrayals of proponents of the law as "Nazis," actions that have been condemned nationally by the Anti-Defamation League, it is ALREADY a federal requirement for legal aliens in the United States to carry their green card or other immigration document. The new Arizona law enforces what has been a federal crime since before World War II. As anyone who has traveled abroad knows, other nations have similar laws.

2. Contrary to many of the horror stories being spread -- President Obama suggested families risk being pulled over while going out for ice cream -- law enforcement cannot randomly ask anyone about their immigration status. Much like enforcement of seat belt laws in many states, under SB 1070 there must first be reasonable suspicion that you are breaking some OTHER non-immigration law before an officer can ask a person about their legal status. Only then, after law enforcement officers have a "reasonable suspicion" that another law has been broken, can they inquire about immigration status -- but ONLY if that individual's behavior provides "reasonable suspicion" that the person is here illegally.

"Reasonable suspicion" is a well-understood concept that has been thoroughly vetted through numerous federal court cases. Many have asked: What is reasonable suspicion? Is it race, skin color or national origin? No! Racial profiling is prohibited in the new law. Examples of reasonable suspicion include: a person running away when approached by law enforcement officers, or a car failing to stop when the police turn on their lights and siren.

3. Arizona's local law enforcement officers, who already reflect the great diversity of culture in our state, are going to be trained to enforce the new immigration law in a constitutional manner. It is shameful and presumptive for opponents to question the good will and the competence of Arizona's law enforcement personnel. The specter that is raised of rogue, racist police harassing people is insulting to those in Arizona who risk their lives in the name of law enforcement every day.

President Theodore Roosevelt said,
"No man is above the law and no man is below it; nor do we ask any man's permission when we require him to obey it. Obedience to the law is demanded as a right; not asked as a favor."
Arizona has been more than patient waiting for Washington to act. Decades of federal inaction and misguided policy have created a dangerous and unacceptable situation. Arizona has acted to enforce the rule of law equally and without bias toward any person.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Sheri Gilmour makes me laugh

Name Sheri Gilmour
Bio I love doilies, Hummel figurines, afternoon teas, flower arranging, brandishing weapons, and cussing at @#$%^&* idiots.
I will cut a bitch.


Arizona Illegal Immigration Law

The law was clarified on Friday:
[L]awmakers have removed “lawful contact” from the bill and replaced it with “lawful stop, detention or arrest.” In an explanatory note, lawmakers added that the change “stipulates that a lawful stop, detention or arrest must be in the enforcement of any other law or ordinance of a county, city or town or this state.”

“It was the intent of the legislature for ‘lawful contact’ to mean arrests and stops, but people on the left mischaracterized it,” says Kris Kobach, the law professor and former Bush Justice Department official who helped draft the law. “So that term is now defined.”

Don't know when I've seen such ado about nothing as is coming from those who oppose the state of AZ declaring they will enforce existing federal law. That's it. That is all AZ is doing: enforcing existing federal law which the feds are mostly failing to enforce. The sky is not falling. AZ's simple law has been mischaracterized about as badly as anything could be. My comments at another blog:

A nation is not a nation if it cannot control it's borders

If the borders become controllable, then we can look for solutions re illegal aliens. Unless the borders become controllable, there will be no solutions, and here's why: illegal immigration is truly a problem. A few examples:

1. A nation cannot condone the flaunting of it's law without weakening itself (including immigration law, enforcement law, employment law).
2. Illegal immigrants increase crime rates across the board.
3. Illegal immigrants increase the stress on social services.

Comprehensive reform is the wrong way to go (and is even unethical, imo). The right way to go, the ethical way to go, is bite by bite - beginning with the huge yet necessary bite of controlling the borders. After that, solutions may be discussed - one small bite, followed by consideration which leads to another small bite, followed by consideration which leads to another small bite. Small bite example: confer citizenship upon those who complete a military commitment. Small bite example: consider appropriate and enforceable sanctions upon businesses who hire illegal aliens. Small bite example: allow illegal aliens to retain lawyers and sue businesses or individuals for employing them at less than minimum wage. See how such small bites work, and progress towards amnesty as a last ditch solution. However, unless and until borders are controlled, no solutions are possible.

Summarizing the open borders argument and the racism accusation

Here is the open borders argument: the cure (for illegal immigration) is worse than the disease. It is an interesting argument, yet it is not a self-evidently correct argument. It is not a winning argument in this nation at this time: Grandma and Little League coaches and small business owners currently believe in controlling the border, plus 1,2,3 above. Open borders is an argument which must be sold, marketed, effectively argued: must win over Grandma, et al.

I see (not heavily in the comments to this series of blogposts, but some) this "argument": the cure is worse than the disease, and if you disagree with me then you are a racist. I've zero respect for that "logic". Sometimes that "logic" is soft-served, like this: those who disagree with me don't see the underlying racism. Okay, so: I'm ignorant, instead of racist? Thanks. Very much. Am so relieved to know that.

The "the cure is worse than the disease" argument must be won the merits. It's really the only hope of having open borders win the day. Racists will be with us - at least in this portion of this millennium - yet racism is not driving the big numbers who disagree with the "the cure is worse than the disease" argument. The "control the borders" logic of Grandma, Little League coaches, and small business owners are driving those numbers. The dynamic is similar to the Tea Parties, actually. Racism will always be with us, yet racism is not the driving force behind the big numbers; and, therefore, an accusation of racism will not win the day. Such accusation will lose the day; will only allow the accuser to nurse their grudges as they age.


Re the Casual Observer/Tidbits discussion, which Casual Observer began with these three points:
  1. the AZ law does not require but rather empowers
  2. the demand for proof of citizenship is empowered only within the context of a precedent stop for another violation of law
  3. the immigration violation must be referred to federal authority

The third point hinges on the arguments I reference at top, i.e. which is better: controlled borders or open borders? Enforce the law or ignore the law?

The second point was clarified today by AZ legislators.

The first and second points may be considered together, as both hinge on this: is profiling good or bad?

My opinion: skilled profiling is good, unskilled profiling is bad.

Profiling is police work; police work is profiling. We cannot legislate a utopia in which only highly skilled, perfect, mistake-free, prejudice-free police officers exist. And we cannot have police without also having profiling.

Racial profiling is only one component of profiling. If Marco Rubio is stopped for a traffic violation, and if Marco Rubio is dressed in crisp clothing and is driving a newish auto, then a police officer will profile Marco Rubo differently from three Mexican roofers driving home in beat-up pickup.

This is the flaw with condemning profiling: profiling concerns a bunch of elements, not just one element. Race is one element amongst 20 or even 40 factors which a human being instantly and instinctively considers, both consciously and unconsciously. It's all well and good to make every effort to encourage Americans to be more racially sensitive, yet it does not follow that considering race as one of 20 factors inside an instantaneous profile of a situation equates to racism or to unfairness.

Jesse Jackson famously said, in so many words, that he profiles. When he walks down the street and hears young men behind him: Jesse said he is relieved if they are white. There's a lot more to his statement than maybe even Jesse understands: if Jesse saw three Urkels behind him, he would be equally relieved. If Jesse saw three skateboarding, rap music loving, tatooed white kids behind him(plus about 15 other factors which Jesse would instantly and humanly assess): then Jesse might be very concerned. Much more than race goes into instant profiling assessments.

Therefore: racial profiling is a good thing if it constitutes one profiling factor amongst many profiling factors at work when making a skilled judgment about a situation. Skilled profiling is good. Being shrewd is good. Good police work is good. Unskilled profiling and bad police work are bad.

Both good and bad police work will always be with us. We cannot be rid of them. In a metaphysical sense: bad policemen are a feature, not a bug - though we rightly make every sensible effort to reduce their number. And: life is not fair. Which is also a feature, not a bug - though we rightly make every sensible effort to be as fair as possible to our fellow human beings.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

This weekend, I became a big Seattle Mariners fan

even though the Mariners played sloppy ball which resulted in their being swept by the Rangers. The series gave me a chance to really focus on the Mariners: their starting pitching is fantabulous.

  1. King Felix Hernandez is fantabulous.
  2. Cliff Lee made his first start of the season and painted corners for 7 scoreless innings. Lee dominated the Rangers.
  3. Eric Bedard should return from injury soon.
  4. Grasshopper Doug Fister (I am creating this moniker: Fister is tall and thin, like grasshopper; also throws mystical change-up - thus grasshopper also works as a "Kung Fu" TV show reference) is a surprise, and is the additional ingredient which cements my Mariners fandom. On the season, Fister has a 1.29 ERA and a fantabulous 0.80 WHIP. Fister is 6'5"ish. He comes over the top with a fastball he which paints on corners. He follows that with a mystical dancing change-up which he also controls. Video: Fister no hit the Rangers through 5 innings; shut out the Rangers on 3 hits and 0 walks before departing after 8 innings.

So: 4 fantabulous starters (and a capable 5th starter in Jason Vargas), pitching in a big ballpark in heavy air, and backed by outstanding defense - especially in an OF where everyone is a speedster and where CF Franklin Gutierrez is a defensive mega-star. In the infield: 1B Casey Kotchman and SS Jack Wilson are outstanding defenders; Chone Figgins is plenty solid at 2B. How do you beat a team like that? Not easily. The Mariners are no fun to play against.

The Mariners ought be in the pennant race all season. If the Mariners get a lead in the pennant race: how do the trailing teams make up ground against a Mariners club which is sending out King Felix, Lee, Bedard, Fister, and Vargas over and over all through the season? Catching the Mariners would be a formidable task. Further: if the Mariners make the playoffs, who wants to go back to back to back to back against King Felix, Cy Young Winner Cliff Lee, Eric Bedard, and Grasshopper Doug Fister? No one wants to face that.

Shifting focus: the AL West is going to be a fun division to follow. The pennant race will be heated all through the season, and likely right through the final weekend.

The Angels are division champs and are not disappearing; have their own fantabulous group of starting pitchers; have a dynamic offensive team. Any team with Erik Aybar at SS is worth watching. Aybar is one of my favorite baseball players, ever.

The Rangers are a rising team which might be ready to win. The Rangers are a volatile and powerful thunderstorm. They could strike with the sudden and massive force of suddenly mature talent. The rest of the division looks on warily.

I'm fired up for this season.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Victoria Jackson is a good performer

She makes her success on stage look accidental. She makes it look like luck - as if she just stumbles around on stage and accidentally makes everything come out good and funny and entertaining. It is the opposite of accidental and it is the opposite of luck. Ms. Jackson is a veteran stage performer who understands her craft. She may go extemporaneous here and there, yet that is b/c she has years of experience in front of an audience: she can sense when and where to go, as a jazz musician extemporaneously goes here and there during certain performances. Ms. Jackson gives just about the perfect entertaining and fun Tea Party performance. Its a fun interlude for the crowd, yet she also gets her message across; she also rallies the crowd; the crowd enjoys being rallied. Kudos, Ms. Jackson. I hope you don't get sick.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

You couldn't watch the Texas Rangers tonight without instinctively sensing

Update: player postgame quotes


they might make the playoffs this season.

Most importantly, Colby Lewis' performance last night (on top of his previous performances) means the Rangers have a competitive 1-2 combo of pitchers at the top of their rotation: C.J. Wilson and Colby Lewis. If the Rangers can add an excellent Derek Holland, then C.J. + Colby Lewis + Derek Holland looks like a trio which could lead a team to victory in a playoff series.

In Aug and Sept, if the Rangers mix in two effective starters from the group of Feldman, Harrison, Hunter, Harden: then the Rangers could have 5 capable starters workin it down the stretch drive to earn a playoff berth.

The only caveat, and this worries me: how many innings can C.J. Wilson and Derek Holland throw this season? C.J. is going to jump from 80 innings to 160 innings for sure. Can C.J. throw 200 innings without wearing down and becoming ineffective (and at the worst possible time, i.e. down the stretch and in the playoffs? I kinda suspect he cannot. It's a problem.

Derek Holland is throwing 7 innings or more in a regular rotation slot at OKC. Can Holland throw 200 innings without both wearing down and endangering his young arm? I kinda suspect he cannot. It's a problem.

How much more AAA does Holland need? Surely not much. Holland is close to a point where he's wasting spring innings in OKC which will be needed in Arlington in August and September. Maybe Holland could rest RIGHT NOW, while the Rangers dilly dally for a couple more starts before doing what everyone except the Rangers now believes in inevitable: moving Rich Harden either into the bullpen or onto the disabled list.

Solutions for C.J. and Holland? Pitch each in long relief for a month during midseason? Jump each of C.J. and Holland onto the 15 day disabled list at least one time during the season? Think up a blister problem - it's as good as a hammy.

If C.J. and Holland are handled intelligently, i.e. if the best conditions for the players' health and effectiveness are put into place, then players and franchise and fans all win. I kinda suspect they will not be handled intelligently. Ron Washington is not Gregg Popovich. Especially in Holland's case: worrisome.

Back to last night: the Rangers looked like a veteran team which keeps it's composure and plays to win. Good to see.

Elvis scored the first run of the game, in the top of the 12th, then launched his beatific smile. Best sports smile since Magic Johnson. It's not just a smile: it's an inspiration.


An odd play in the bottom of the 11th

Video of the play

It was a bases loaded, 1 out squeeze play. Supposed bunter Eric Byrnes pulled his bat back and did not offer at a low and outside fastball which was off the plate. Catcher Treanor bobbled the ball in the dirt before picking up and tagging out a sliding Ichiro. Freakish play; heartstopping play ... three times:
1] when Byrnes squared,
2] when Treanor was fishing around in the dirt for the ball, and grabbed at it ... and WHIFFED! Holy smokes!;
3] when Treanor grabbed the ball on his second stab and lunged for Ichiro.

Here's what I think happened inside Byrnes' head on the play:
  • Byrnes was aware of the squeeze.
  • However, though aware of the squeeze: in the moment, Byrnes instinctively pulled his bat back from a low outside pitch which was not a strike. It looked weird, b/c the pitch was buntable, yet Byrnes pulled back. I believe it was an instinctive move by Byrnes. In the moment, and to his great regret, Byrnes blanked and acted on instinct.
  • After pulling his bat back, Byrnes realized his error. Trying at that point to do something, anything, to help his team, Byrnes waved his bat between Treanor and home plate. It looked comical, but it probably was worth a shot. Treanor was looking in the dirt and searching for a grip on the ball. If Byrnes could have momentarily attracted Treanor's attention, it could have prevented Treanor from grabbing the ball and tagging Ichiro. Quirky play.

Former Cowboys Coach Jimmy Johnson would have put Byrnes on waivers by now.

Update: two days after both this game and the above quip, Seattle released Eric Byrnes. A sad thing, really. Byrnes might be an airhead, but he plays hard. Playing hard is not nothing, esp. in a present era in which most players do not run out ground balls. At least a Little Leaguer could watch Eric Byrnes and get the right idea about how to play the game.

Seattle management may have felt pressed by fans who 1) were infuriated with Byrnes after Friday night's failed squeeze play, and 2) were infuriated with the Mariners team after sloppy play allowed a Rangers sweep. Management might have panicked, might have felt they had to appease fans in some fashion, might have offered Byrnes as a sacrifice to the attendance gods - symbolically tossing him off of Mount Ranier.


Elvis, in the top of the 12th, hit what I am dubbing a "Little Leaguer". This is a Little League Texas Leaguer. Elvis hit what looked for all the world like a mini Texas Leaguer - only it landed over the mound dirt instead of over the infield dirt. It was as if the mound were the infield dirt, the pitcher was an infielder, the infield dirt was the outfield warning track, and the infielders were outfielders who were frantically running for the Texas Leaguer. The ball maybe traveled the distance of a Little League Texas Leaguer which lands barely beyond the dirt and dead in the center of a Little League field. It was a "Little Leaguer". I claim copyright of that terminology.


The Rangers have now turned over their preseason preferred #1 starter (Harden), plus their 1B, plus both catchers, plus their Closer. The Rangers played w/o their 2B during April, will be w/o their RF for the first half of May, and must be considering turning over their rookie CF also. The Rangers have led in 21 of their 23 games this season, only to see 5 of their losses occur via catastrophic late inning breakdowns of relief pitching and/or defense. These were the kind of breakdowns which scar; the kinds of breakdowns which - on a good team - typically only occur a few times a season - yet the Rangers suffered 5 of these catastrophic breakdown losses in the 1st month.

Yet, today, May 1, the Rangers find themselves tied for first place. And last place. The entire American League West has 12 losses. Quirky beginning to the season. The Rangers were due for some luck, and they got some tonight. They are due for some more luck. More importantly, you've got to like the way the Rangers carried themselves in the tense moments of a memorable game.

In the 11th, Michael Young missed an Ichiro line drive which 29 Major League 3Bs catch, and which only Michael Young misses -- due to Michael Young's excessively high ready position + resulting ineptness at making even the simplest diving plays. And it was a VERY simple play. It was so simple it wasn't even really challenging for an actual 3B, yet Michael Young contorted and frantically avoided the ball as if it were a poisonous snake. He almost had to ole' the ball. It was such an easy play that the ball almost hit Michael Young in spite of his contorted effort to avoid it.

Still, still: the way the Rangers carried themselves late in the game was probably something which partially rubbed off of Michael Young and onto some of the other players. The Rangers were poised, focused, and never for a moment gave up or gave in. That is Michael Young type of mental toughness and influence, and it is a wonderful thing to sense in a team. I loved it. Loved it.

It was the kind of game you bring up years later: Hey, remember that time ....

You could not watch w/o sensing the Rangers might make the playoffs this season.
Could not not sense it.