Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Hit the Road, Bud!

Historically, the position of baseball commissioner has been the most powerful position in sports. While this is partly due to baseball’s domination in popularity throughout most of the 20th century, it’s mainly due to the circumstances surrounding the creation of the job.
For those not familiar with baseball history, the 1919 World Series featured a scandal where 8 Chicago White Sox players (now forever remembered as the Black Sox) through the series to the Cincinnati Reds. To clean up its image, baseball decided to create the position with the prerequisite that the person chosen would not be somebody involved in the sport.
The first commissioner was Keensaw Mountain Landis, a United States District Judge from Illinois. For close to 25 years, he ruled both leagues with an iron fist, overseeing the era where baseball really became the national pastime.
No commissioner since yielded such power, but successors oversaw controversial issues such as integration, free agency, player drug abuse, and the rise in popularity of other sports.
After Faye Vincent resigned in 1992, baseball owners ignored the history of the position and hired one of their own. Bud Selig, the owner of the Milwaukee Brewers, took over the position, and has been an utter failure.
Besides being the owner’s tool, Selig’s decisions have been questionable his entire tenure. He was the one who pushed through interleague play. He was the person who made the All-Star Game, an exhibition where everybody is expected to play, into the game that determines the home field advantage in the World Series.
It was Bud that wanted to contract four teams, including the Minnesota Twins, from the sport. It was his decision that turned one All-Star Game into the first tie in baseball’s modern era. All of these decisions, though, pale compared to his disastrous handling of the steroid controversy that still keeps many hardcore fans from tuning in.
If there was any doubt of Bud’s incompetence, his actions these past few days should be the final nail in his coffin. This past Saturday, game three of the World Series didn’t start until after 10 pm, Philadelphia time, and didn’t end until almost two. While game four started at its scheduled time, it became clear around the fourth inning that it was extremely unlikely that the game would make it a full nine innings.
At this point, the game became a comedy of errors…almost literally. Besides rain, the wind was whipping the ball around, creating a handful of plays that will make bloopers reels for years to come. Each successive inning was played under worse conditions than the previous, before Tampa scored the tying run that opened the door for Bud to halt the lunacy.
It was almost like Bud was praying for a Rays run, and in some respects I can see why. Technically, a game is complete after five innings, so stopping the game with the Phils winning could have resulted in the Phils winning the World Series. But Bud said afterwards he had no plan to not play out an entire nine-inning game. Any stoppage, he said, would have just been an extended rain delay…even if it ran into Tuesday, Wednesday, or “Thanksgiving”, as he attempted to joke.
I actually don’t have a problem with him playing a bit loose with this rule. The deciding game of the World Series should go a full nine innings. But the game should have never made it past the third inning, and it’s so typical of Bud to indecisively ring his hands while waiting for a miracle to save him.
It’s time to return the position of commissioner to a person of strong stature who is not afraid of owners, players, or the intrusive nature of today’s media. We all now know there is somebody who will have a lot of free time in a few weeks who has always dreamed of having the gig. Oh wait, I said a person of strong stature. Sorry, W.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

A Perfect Fall Day

It amazes me how people so quickly fall into the fall/winter mindset. Today is a perfect fall day - hovering around 70 with little to no wind. Yet as I went on a coffee run I was shocked at how people are dressed. Those doing yard work are in heavy sweatshirts; people walking their dogs are bundled up in jackets. Aren't they sweating like crazy? Just two weeks ago, these conditions would be accompanied by shorts, tank tops, and flip flops.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Peggy Noonan Nails It

I have found it amazing from day one how Sarah Palin has been shielded from the media. As Jon Stewart noted the other night, Joe the (Fake) Plumber gave more interviews in one day than Palin has in seven weeks. Instead, all we've heard is the usual whining about how unfair the "liberal" media has been to her. I'm sorry, but Katie Couric asking a question about what newspapers she reads is not an ambush,a nd if she is so brilliant she should be able to take on all comers.

Former Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan talks about this issue in her latest column.

There has never been a second's debate among liberals, to use an
old-fashioned word that may yet return to vogue, over Mrs. Palin: She was a
dope and unqualified from the start. Conservatives and Republicans, on the
other hand, continue to battle it out: Was her choice a success or a
disaster? And if one holds negative views, should one say so? For
conservatives in general, but certainly for writers, the answer is a
variation on Edmund Burke: You owe your readers not your industry only but
your judgment, and you betray instead of serve them if you sacrifice it to
what may or may not be their opinion.

Here is a fact of life that is also a fact of politics: You have to hold
open the possibility of magic. People can come from nowhere, with modest
backgrounds and short risumis, and yet be individuals of real gifts, gifts
that had previously been unseen, that had been gleaming quietly under a
bushel, and are suddenly revealed. Mrs. Palin came, essentially, from
nowhere. But there was a man who came from nowhere, the seeming tool of a
political machine, a tidy, narrow, unsophisticated senator appointed to high
office and then thrust into power by a careless Franklin D. Roosevelt, whose
vanity told him he would live forever. And yet that limited little man was
Harry S. Truman. Of the Marshall Plan, of containment. Little Harry was big.
He had magic. You have to give people time to show what they have. Because
maybe they have magic too.

But we have seen Mrs. Palin on the national stage for seven weeks now, and
there is little sign that she has the tools, the equipment, the knowledge or
the philosophical grounding one hopes for, and expects, in a holder of high
office. She is a person of great ambition, but the question remains: What is
the purpose of the ambition? She wants to rise, but what for? For seven
weeks I've listened to her, trying to understand if she is Bushian or
Reaganite a spender, to speak briefly, whose political decisions seem
untethered to a political philosophy, and whose foreign policy is shaped by
a certain emotionalism, or a conservative whose principles are rooted in
philosophy, and whose foreign policy leans more toward what might be called
romantic realism, and that is speak truth, know America, be America, move
diplomatically, respect public opinion, and move within an awareness and
appreciation of reality.

But it's unclear whether she is Bushian or Reaganite. She doesn't think
aloud. She just . . . says things.

Her supporters accuse her critics of snobbery: Maybe she's not a big
"egghead" but she has brilliant instincts and inner toughness. But what
instincts? "I'm Joe Six-Pack"? She does not speak seriously but attempts to
excite sensation "palling around with terrorists." If the Ayers case is a
serious issue, treat it seriously. She is not as thoughtful or persuasive as
Joe the Plumber, who in an extended cable interview Thursday made a better
case for the Republican ticket than the Republican ticket has made. In the
past two weeks she has spent her time throwing out tinny lines to crowds she
doesn't, really, understand. This is not a leader, this is a follower, and
she follows what she imagines is the base, which is in fact a vast and
broken-hearted thing whose pain she cannot, actually, imagine. She could
reinspire and reinspirit; she chooses merely to excite. She doesn't seem to
understand the implications of her own thoughts.

No news conferences? Interviews now only with friendly journalists? You
can't be president or vice president and govern in that style, as a
sequestered figure. This has been Mr. Bush's style the past few years, and
see where it got us. You must address America in its entirety, not as a
sliver or a series of slivers but as a full and whole entity, a great nation
trying to hold together. When you don't, when you play only to your little
piece, you contribute to its fracturing.

In the end the Palin candidacy is a symptom and expression of a new
vulgarization in American politics. It's no good, not for conservatism and
not for the country. And yes, it is a mark against John McCain, against his
judgment and idealism.

I gather this week from conservative publications that those whose thoughts
lead them to criticism in this area are to be shunned, and accused of the
lowest motives. In one now-famous case, Christopher Buckley was shooed from
the great magazine his father invented. In all this, the conservative
intelligentsia are doing what they have done for five years. They bitterly
attacked those who came to stand against the Bush administration. This was
destructive. If they had stood for conservative principle and the full
expression of views, instead of attempting to silence those who opposed mere
party, their movement, and the party, would be in a better, and healthier,

At any rate, come and get me, copper.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Paul and Tommy Working Together Again!

Prince/Soul Asylum drummer Michael Bland posted these pics and the following message on the Man Without Ties message board:

hello folks!! long time, no message..

anyway, i thought i'd get on here and try to explain what went down, a couple weeks ago.

tommy called and said that paul was in a particularly good mood and felt like getting together to jam. no pressure. no expectations. so, we did. it was alot of fun. jim boquist dropped by, the second day, and played some guitar with us.
as far as covers go, we toyed with a handful of folk songs, oddly enough. "if i had a hammer".. "the streets of laredo".. etc. things like that. of course, the treatment was pretty ramones-ish..
as far as 'mats songs go, we de-composed "little mascara", "left of the dial" and "bastards of young" so badly, all we could do was laugh about it.
however, we did get through "i'll be you", "i.o.u", a country rendition of "alex chilton", and surprisingly, "unsatisfied".
we also kicked around "bored of edukation", and a couple other new songs paul had been working on at home. we tried a tommy stinson song.. i believe it was called "a match made in hell". that one went pretty well..

as for the change in clothes, paul tends to travel with more than one change of clothes. but, we did jam on 2 consecutive days, as well..
the reason you see no pics of tommy actually playing is because i took these shots from behind the drum kit.. which means there were no photographs taken while music was being made.

oh yeah.. and, the reason the bricks are crooked is because the backdrop from the "grave dancers union" tour is covering the not-so-flattering walls of our (soul asylum's) rehearsal space, which is where this auspicious occasion took place. it hangs a little crooked..

any questions?