Saturday, April 18, 2009

Game Eleven: Near Wild Heaven

Boston was cruising, leading Baltimore 6-0, before Josh Beckett hit a bump in the road, allowing 4 runs in an ugly, walk filled fifth. However, the bullpen held firm, and Boston pulled away with a 6-4 win. Boston is now 5-6, and faces Baltimore again tomorrow and Monday.

Charlie Pierce on the President and Torture

"I have now lived through three major episodes in my life where the political elite have told me quite plainly that neither I nor my fellow citizens are sufficiently mature to suffer the public prosecution of major crimes committed within my government. The first was when Gerry Ford told me I wasn't strong enough to handle the sight of Richard Nixon in the dock. (Ed. note--I would have thrown a parade.) Dick Cheney looked at this episode and determined that the only thing Nixon did wrong was get caught. The second time was when the entire government went into spasm over the crimes of the Iran-Contra gang and I was told that I wasn't strong enough to see Ronald Reagan impeached or his men packed off to Danbury. Dick Cheney looked at this and determined that the only thing Reagan and his men did wrong was get caught and, by then, Cheney had decided that even that wasn't really so very wrong and everybody should shut up. Now, Barack Obama, who won election by telling the country and its people that they were great because of all they'd done for him, has told me that I am not strong enough to handle the prosecution of pale and vicious bureaucrats, many of them acting at the behest of Dick Cheney, who decided that the only thing he was doing wrong was nothing at all, who have broken the law, disgraced their oaths, and manifestly belong in a one-room suite at the Hague. Not to put too fine a point on it, but I'm sick and goddamn tired of being told that, as a citizen, I am too fragile to bear the horrible burden of watching public criminals pay for their crimes and that, as a political entity, my fellow citizens and I are delicate flowers encased in candy-glass who must be kept away from the sight of men in fine suits weeping as they are ripped from the arms of their families and sent off to penal institutions manifestly more kind than those in which they arranged to get their rocks off vicariously while driving other men mad.

Hey, Mr. President. Put these barbarians on trial and watch me. I'll be the guy out in front of the courtroom with a lawn chair, some sandwiches, and a cooler of fine beer. I'll be the guy who hires the brass band to serenade these criminal bastards on their way off to the big house. I'll be the one who shows up at every one of their probation hearings with a copy of the Constitution, the way crime victims show up at the parole board when their attacker comes up for release. I'll declare a national holiday -- Victory Over Torture Day -- and lead the parade right up whatever gated street it is that Cheney lives on these days. Trust me, Mr. President. I can take it. "

The wise, immortal, intelligent Charles P. Pierce, available here: (

Dan Carlin, another observer I admire(, phrased his distaste for the two major parties by stating that the lesser of two evils is still evil. Joseph Heller, major American novelist, once told Bill Moyers that he didn't vote because he didn't like choosing between one or the other wings of the Big Money Party.

Longtime readers of this blog, both of you, have probably concluded that I am in the tank for President Obama. I drunk deeply of the bathwater, or the Kool Aid, bought into the program, was assimilated into the Borg.

I think, more than anything else, I sympathize with the President. There was an editorial cartoon after the Bush v. Gore decision, picturing Gore walking away from Bush, saying, "Alright, you win...", while Bush holds a newspaper filled with headlines of doom and gloom. This election was kind of like that one in the sense that the loser is almost better off because he doesn't now have to wrestle with all these horrific, almost intractable problems. (And I would like to emphasize that, as far as it goes, I firmly believe that Obama was a better choice than McCain for several reasons, and that's why I voted for him.) (And I admit to getting prickly when Obama is criticized unfairly.)

But on this case, on this issue, in this way Obama is dead on, full bore wrong. He should be ashamed of himself, and I am ashamed of him. Failing to prosecute these men is a grave mistake and a massive injustice. 100 years from now, this decision is going to look as silly and wrongheaded as baseball segregation does to me now.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Game Ten....This Again?

Finally caught up to the Red Sox in the 8th here...leading 10-8 in the 8th, one out, with trouble a'brewin-Orioles on the sacks. Just another day here in the AL East, where bruising pitcher egos is not just a job, it's an adventure.

Nick Markakis against the Okey Doke.

Okey gets Markakis on a deep, deep fly to center that advances the runners to second and third.

Rough, tough Aubrey Huff now.

AND OKEY strikes him out swinging...phew! Bullet dodged.

Bottom of the 8th now, with Paps getting ready for the ninth.....

Drew now, against Matt Albers of Baltimore. Drew works a walk.

Sittin on the Dock Of The Bay pops out.

JD Drew is caught stealing (?)

Mikey Lowell also pops out. This kid is dealin'....

(David Plotz of the Slate Political Gabfest made the same point that I made here about the teabaggery. Where were you, with all your activism and political fire, when George W. Bush and the Republicans in Congress were spending like drunken sailors and not paying for it?)

Top of the Ninth, and the Lord of the Dance makes his appearance...

Ty Wigginton (?) lines a single off of Lowell's glove

Luke Scott flies out

Gregg Zaun flies out

Felix Pie STRIKES OUT SWINGING to end it...phew!

Apparently, Brad Penny got beaten like a rented mule, but we pulled it out. 4-6 now-but should it be this hard to beat BALTIMORE?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Happy Birthday to the Big Fella

It's Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's birthday.

Growing up a Boston Celtics fan, Jabbar was always the enemy, but over time, my respect for him as a player and as a man grew and grew. He strikes me as a athlete who was much more than that-as great as he was, he has gone on to be much more than that.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

General Sherman, we may need you again....

Governor Rick Perry of Texas, who the late Molly Ivins used to hasten to point out, has better hair than your governor, is apparently suggesting that poor Texas is so overwhelmingly oppressed by the Federal government ( that they would be better off seceding from the Union.

Governor Rick Perry of Texas, who apparently has no problem talking out of both sides of his mouth, eagerly accepted federal aid last week to help Texans who have been the victim of wildfires. (

Look, everyone could probably come up with ten, or twenty, or one hundred Federal programs they would trim or eliminate. Wasting, or outright stealing, taxpayer money should be a crime.

But secession? Really, Governor Perry? 600,000 Americans, including several of my relatives, died the last time we tried that idea. Put away the dangerous, treasonous rhetoric, and let's work together to get out of this mess, OK?

Game Nine: Just In Time

Obviously hearing my criticism from the barber chair 3000 miles away, Tim Wakefield turned in a gem of a performance, taking a no hitter into the 8th before faltering and finally putting away a desperately needed complete game victory, 8-2. Boston flies home for a weekend series against Baltimore starting Friday, which will include the Patriots Day early bird special on Monday.

In other news, Dice K will be put on the disabled list, but Boston will not admit that he has anything worse than "fatigue".

In other other news, along with being Tax Day,(and Worthless Symbolic Stupid Tea Bag Protest Day), it is Jackie Robinson Day.

On April 15, 1947, Jackie Robinson became the first African American to play in a major league baseball game during the modern era. (News reports will usually assert he is the "first"-that is not, strictly speaking, true.) In remembrance of this, every major league player will wear Robinson's number, 42, during their games today.

As I have said before, this is both a significant event and a really stupid one-it is a day that never should have had to occur. The color line was an abomination against morality and common sense. Three cheers for the memory of Jackie Robinson and the extreme bravery he showed in achieving something that never should have had to happen.

Game Eight: Not So Great

Dice K pitches one inning, leaves suffering from "arm fatigue", after allowing 5 runs.


Team battles back to a 5-5 tie in frigid, downright Bostonian weather conditions.


Bullpen combines for ten exhausting shutout innings.


Oakland's Travis Buck hits a 12th inning bases loaded single to win the game 6-5.


Boston falls to 2-6 on the year, sending Tim Wakefield to the hill this afternoon with an exhausted bullpen and Nick Green your shortstop.

Ladies and gentlemen, your 2009 Boston Red Sox!

Going to be a long year, folks.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

OK, OK. You got me. Mea Culpa.

The irrepressible Katie ( has gently nudged me (which, in New Jersey, means "sent armed men to encourage me") to gracefully accept this Blog Award, which, since it has the word "Scrap" in it, is masculine enough for me to accept.

But, as Katie so gently encouraged me to do, and without further ado, is Ten More Things About Me, at 1015AM on a Tuesday.

1. I cry at movies way more than I am ready to admit.

2. I'm not going to tag anybody. Not because I don't care-well, partially because I don't care, but partially because I don't want to leave anyone out, and partially because I don't think I have 10 friends, bloggy or otherwise.

3. There's a WalMart commercial where they play the song "How Lovely To Be A Woman" from "Bye Bye Birdie" while trying to convince you to buy your makeup there. Isn't there, at any given time, roughly 30% or so of women who aren't all that jazzed about being a woman, biologically speaking?

4. I'll watch a James Bond movie, any time, any where. Even the silly ones. "License to Kill" was on last night, and my wife noticed something I had never seen before. Timothy Dalton is meeting with the corrupt banker, and his love interest/co conspirator walks into the room with her hair cut differently and in a very fetching suit. Now, Sean Connery might give you the one eyebrow lift, and Roger Moore might smile endearingly. But Timmy? Timothy Dalton gives you the full, eyes bugged out stare, as if she were completely naked, carrying a bucket of frogs with her hair on fire. Terrible overacting.

5. I secretly believe I was born to do something other than what I'm doing. Well, maybe not so secretly. But still.

6. I'm not a dog person. Judge me if you must, I'm just not.

7. I can sleep through just about anything.

8. Children being sick make me crazy. I know it's natural, can't be helped, blah blah blah. I still hate it. If I could trade feeling lousy every single day in exchange for the children in my life feeling great, I'd do it.

9. Funny story-my wife couldn't figure out how nasal irrigation was supposed to work until she saw me do it.

10. It's raining, which I like, but it's cold, which I don't. You can't have everything.

Game Seven: Far From Heaven

Last night in Oakland, Boston's Jon Lester was beaten up over six innings, while his slumbering mates managed two runs in a 8-2 loss.

In other great news, Farmer Jed Lowrie, who was 1 for 18 on the year, goes on the disabled list with a sore wrist, leaving the Red Sox with two professional shortstops on the DL, in Julio Lugo and Lowrie, and two professional nonentities in Nick Green and Gil Velasquez on the roster.


Monday, April 13, 2009

Farewell to Harry the K

Longtime Philadelphia Phillies announcer Harry Kalas died today at the age of 73. Kalas, whose career in Philadelphia began the year I was born, also narrated for NFL Films in his distinct, even voice.

Baseball, more than any other sport, is a sport you can watch while doing something else, and Kalas' voice was a nice backdrop while you engaged in other activities. He will be missed.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Game Six-Take A Chance On Me...

After battling back from a 4-2 disadvantage, scoring 1 run on a steal and error by catcher Mike Napoli, the Red Sox gave up chance after chance after CHANCE in the late innings. Then Bad Vlad extended the lead to 5-3 with a majestic 8th inning clout off of the Okey Doke. Boston got one run back in the ninth, but Brian Fuentes locked up JD Drew for a called third strike to end the game a 5-4 loss. The first real gnaw your fingers down to nubs game of the year.

Hostilities broke out early when time was called at the plate and Josh Beckett, who was already delivering the ball, whipped the ball near Angel Bobby Abreu's head. (A Clemensian act if there ever was one.) Words, then blows, were exchanged, and several Angels were ejected.

This puts Boston at 2 and 4, with back to back series losses to open the year and LAST place in the American League East. We move on to Oaktown to face those swingin' A's next.

"Kiss Me, Baby, on an Easter Sunday..."

It is Easter. Or, as my company calls it, Sunday. (I have to admit I stole that joke from Saturday Night Live. During the 1980s, after the Texaco company got in trouble for racial discrimination, they introduced a bit during Weekend Update that resulted in them saying “it is Martin Luther King Day this week. Or, as they refer to it at Texaco, Monday.” I’ve been borrowing that joke for a while now. It’s good to finally own up to it.

(At least, in my hemisphere it is Easter.) (In some parts of the world, it’s already Monday. That’s fairly horrifying.)

Easter, for Christians, is the celebration of Jesus rising from the dead after his crucifixion on the oddly named Good Friday. Among the Easter mysteries I have yet to penetrate is why it keeps flipflopping around the calendar, and just what the heck the bunnies and eggs and plastic grass and jellybeans and chocolate and white shoes and big hats and frilly dresses have to do with anything. Standup comedians have been dining out on the difference between the meaning of the holiday and the symbols of it for generations, and none better than Bill Hicks:

The reason why a crucifixion, surely one of the Top Ten Truly Awful Ways Humans Have Thought Of To Do One Another In, happens on “Good” Friday, is, of course, that the death and resurrection of Jesus is really the reason why there is a Christian religion at all. Although, as Hicks suggests here, you would think the human part of Jesus would have bad memories associated with crosses.

Ever since someone explained to me as a fairly young teen about the mechanics of death by crucifixion(suffocation), it has always kind of creeped me out a little bit. So frankly, if you were planning to crucify me, I would appreciate it if you didn’t. Thanks.

Seriously, while I certainly absorbed the symbolic message at work on Easter, it has still seemed somewhat gruesome, especially when compared with the mass marketing of bunnies and Peeps and all that. I haven’t seen the film “Passion of the Christ” yet, although I certainly plan to. I did read “The Last Temptation of Christ” when the fuss was made about the movie, though, and I also read Norman Mailer’s “The Gospel According to The Son.” That, along with a long term love of Jesus Christ Superstar, has always made me think of Jesus more like a literary character than a Savior sometimes, I suppose.

I think that adds to my squeamishness. The whole thing seems unnecessarily bloody and disturbing. While, if you read the Bible, God is responsible for scores of deaths, Jesus’ death is particularly twisted.

Very smart people, like Cameron Reilly and Richard Dawkins, will of course point out that of course Jesus WAS a literary character, and the authors of scripture used a punishment that was both familiar to them and provided them with a handy symbol in the cross. They will argue, sometimes angrily, of the lack of evidence for a historical Jesus.

(Which reminds me-I am sure I read somewhere that the fish symbol that Christians use to represent their faith supposedly stands for the miracle of the loaves and the fishes, obviously, and it evolved during the time when Christian prisoners in the Roman catacombs, waiting to be executed in the arena, would use it to signal their brotherhood to one another. Does anyone know if that is true?)

How do I feel about it? Do I believe in Jesus and the resurrection and the Trinity? Yes. I have grave difficulties with elements of Christianity, especially as it is represented by those who are its public face. But, in the long, dark, tea time of the soul, (h/t Douglas Adams) I do.


I’m also one of the few people I know who does not like, and has never liked, marshmallow Peeps. Sorry.


Working on Easter, as I usually do and did today, causes me to miss a performance of one of my Top Ten Songs or Musical Pieces, which are, in no particular order:

1.“Bring Him Home”, Les Miserables
2.“Season Of Love”, Rent
3.“Gethesemane (I Only Want To Say)”, Jesus Christ Superstar
4.“Another Suitcase In Another Hall”, Evita
5.“Someone Else’s Story”, Chess
6.“Hallelujah Chorus”, Handel
7.“Ninth Symphony”, Beethoven
8.“Since I’ve Been Loving You”, Led Zeppelin
9.“Summer Highland Falls”, Billy Joel
10.“To Live Is To Die”, Metallica

I did listen to Jesus Christ Superstar today, which I usually try to do on Easter Weekend, but I have managed to miss all of the Masters, which I usually try to see. Oh well. I’m now listening to the Complete Symphonic Les Miserables, which, with its theme of salvation and mercy, is certainly Easter-like in tone. One doesn’t have to exactly stretch one’s literature muscles to see Jesus in Jean Valjean.


You could basically summarize 80% of the conversations I’ve had today at work as follows:

PERSON: “Oh, you’re open!”

ME: “Yes, we are.”

If I’m standing there, and the lights are on, then you really don’t need to say anything at all. Take it as given that we’re open.

Douglas Adams, as usual, has a great passage about humans saying things that don’t need to be said: "One of the things Ford Prefect had always found hardest to understand about human beings was their habit of continually stating and repeating the obvious, as in, "It's a nice day," or "You're very tall," or "Oh dear, you seem to have fallen down a thirty-foot well: are you all right?" At first Ford had formed a theory to account for this strange behaviour. If human beings don't keep exercising their lips, he thought, their mouths probably seize up. After a few months' consideration and observation, he abandoned this theory in favour of a new one. If they don't keep on exercising their lips, he thought, their brains start working. "