Monday, May 2, 2011

What Does it Mean?

I was raised not to celebrate the death of anyone. So I won't. But I felt overwhelmed when I heard the news of Osama Bin Laden's death. I can only hope that his demise brings a bit of solace and closure to those who were directly affected by the evil wrought by this bastard and his henchmen. It's an emotional thing for us NYers, in a way that few others will ever understand.

I was blessed by virtue of not losing any of my loved ones in the Sept 11th attacks. But I was here in NYC and along with my fellow New Yorkers felt the overwhelming sadness that befell my city. I remember every detail of that fateful day as if it just happened a few months ago. Among the many instances I can still recall was the burning smell coming thru my bedroom window; the parked cars on my street, covered in ashes; seeing a small army of Brooklynites walking home from Manhattan, in a daze, as if returning from a war zone; hearing of how the news cast a pall around the world, particularly in the Dominican Republic--NYC looming so large in the collective Dominican experience.

Incredibly, it wasn't until Sunday night, when after hearing the news I sat down and composed a brief statement, that I actually, and briefly, cried. A few tears came to me, possibly the result of never completely acknowledging how profoundly the events of that otherwise beautiful September morning had affected me. It's an emotional thing for us New Yorkers, in a way that few other will ever understand. But I can't even attempt to imagine what the news of this monster's death must mean to those whose lives were tangibly and irrevocably changed by this despicable event. I want to think about them right now and it is my sincerest hope that his death brings them at least a modicum of peace and even a bit of consolation.

Friday, April 22, 2011

MLB Takes Over Dodgers (and that's a good thing)

This week, baseball commissioner Bud Selig took the extraordinary step of wresting control of the Los Angeles Dodgers from owner Frank McCourt. In an April 20th press release Selig issued the following statement:

"Pursuant to my authority as Commissioner, I informed Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt today that I will appoint a representative to oversee all aspects of the business and the day-to-day operations of the Club. I have taken this action because of my deep concerns regarding the finances and operations of the Dodgers and to protect the best interests of the Club, its great fans and all of Major League Baseball. My office will continue its thorough investigation into the operations and finances of the Dodgers and related entities during the period of Mr. McCourt's ownership. I will announce the name of my representative in the next several days.

"The Dodgers have been one of the most prestigious franchises in all of sports, and we owe it to their legion of loyal fans to ensure that this club is being operated properly now and will be guided appropriately in the future."

This is a huge deal.

McCourt is in the midst of a fierce divorce battle which has put a spotlight on his financial woes and threatens the stability of the Dodgers. He recently turned to Fox Sports for a $200m loan which Selig vetoed. Last week he managed to borrow $30m from Fox to cover payroll and other expenses. Personally, I think this prompted Selig to act against the Dodgers owner, who unlike the Wilpon family who own the New York Mets--and whose own financial mess led them to borrow $25m from MLB this past November in order to meet payroll--McCourt went outside baseball to obtain that money and Selig may have feared the Dodgers could end up in the hands personas non gratas to MLB. Imagine, if you will, McCourt missing a couple of payments on a loan obtained from shady characters and losing the team to them; Selig and the other owners would have a conniption to say the least.

I have my issues with Selig, but at first glance I agree with his decision regarding the Dodgers. (And I am not alone: in L.A. he's been hailed a hero for doing so, believe it or not.) Granted, there is more info to surface concerning this mess to be sure. I also think this is a wake up call for the Wilpons. As my Dad used to say, "When you see your neighbor being shaved, it's time to lather up." We'll see how this one pans out, but at least for now Selig has taken a solid step towards correcting a screwup he helped initiate by ushering McCourt into MLB ownership and turning a blind eye to his subsequent financial shenanigans.

Monday, April 11, 2011

MLB Realignment: Could it Happen?

This is a suggestion proposed by anonymous baseball insiders and published a few months ago in an article by the NY Daily News' Bill Madden, not an idea actually approved by Major League Baseball:

Not feelin' it.

As you can see, this scenario would eliminate the Oakland A's and the Tampa Bay Rays, both of which are in dire straits in terms of operating in their current locations. The A's want to move to San Jose but the San Francisco Giants have some sort of territorial rights that MLB has not wanted to address. Meanwhile, the Rays want to move from St. Petersburg to Tampa and build a domed stadium there but, allegedly, St. Pete bureaucracy and a bad Florida economy stand in their way.

Another option, and one which both A's and Rays ownership are said to be partial, is a buyout. The other 28 teams would have to cough up aprox. $25 million each to cover the aprox. $700 million both teams are worth. Not only do I not want to see both of these teams disappear--especially a storied franchise like the A's--I hardly see revenue sharing beneficiaries like the Florida Marlins and Pittsburgh Pirates each coming up w/$25m. No dice.

Obviously both teams need to move: The A's situation in Oakland has become untenable and bringing big league baseball to a state that only cares about football was a huge mistake to begin with, despite the Marlins' two World Series championships (1997, 2003) and the Rays' pennant in '08 and winning their division last year. But getting rid of them would be stupid. So is eliminating geographical rivalries and the identities of each league.

And as for that other rumored development--the disappearance of the DH--on a personal level, I'm quite opposed. When I watch a National League game and witness the uncomfortable awkwardness and even downright clumsiness in the vast majority of pitcher at-bats and their occasional, subsequent base running, it makes me give thanks for the DH in the AL and lament that Connie Mack--who first came up with the concept--did not live to see it implemented.

Let's hope the A's and Rays' respective situations are resolved in a way that benefits each team and their fans. If not, the best case scenario would be a variation of the Montreal Expos mess all over again. The worst? Well, you see that monstrosity above, you tell me.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Ban this, MoFo

NYC has just passed a law that will prohibit smoking in parks, beaches--but not sidewalks, streets, parking lots, and private homes...yet--and other public places, starting May 23rd. Let's put aside the loopholes in its enforcement--it won't be the cops' responsibility but the Parks Dept who, if you cannot produce a valid ID, cannot give you a summons and thus have to arrest you, which, btw, they have no authority to do--and let's look at the hypocrisy involved here.

Plenty of smokers are pissed and rightfully so. At the core of this negativity is not necessarily being unable to smoke in yet more areas, but feeling singled out for an unhealthy habit, yet drinkers--who when driving drunk, actually kill people in a much quicker and tangible way--don't face the same stigma. I don't have much of a problem with outdoor smoking bans when they are reasonable (restaurants, for example) but enacting it in bars was a ludicrous decision made by former smokers who are now anti-smoking zealots, plain and simple. Newsflash: NOTHING healthy is going on in a bar; everyone there is POISONING themselves w/alcohol. And there's plenty of that idiocy and hypocrisy in the way they've handled this new twist.

You want to tax the hell out of cigarettes and make them $12 a pack? Done. But how 'bout we jack up six packs of beer, along with wine and spirits? No? Of course not. Why? Well, for one, NYC mayor Mike Bloomberg and his lifestyle police would be guillotined within minutes of enacting such a thing. And let's not get into the grand hypocrisy that no one wants to bring up: why can't I buy cheaper cigarettes from out of state vendors? What is the ultimate goal: to make people quit or raise revenue to pay for alleged health costs? 'Cause you can't have it both ways by raising the price of cigarettes as an incentive to quit and then penalizing those who choose not to quit and want to buy them elsewhere. Hell, they even the balls to try and sue sovereign territories over which they have no domain! (Yes, Indian reservations.) This bullshit double standard is what pisses smokers off. And, for the record, many non-smokers are upset at being welcomed at their corner store by those garish anti-smoking posters. "I don't smoke and I don't need to see 'em; put them by the cigarette-vending area, not by the front door, damn it", complained a friend recently.

A while back, when one of the more recent cigarette taxes was enacted, I had this to say about it:
As anyone who’s seen the smug wine-and-cheese crowd in the media condescendingly turn up their noses at the mention of smokers—it seems we are just slightly less disgusting than Bin Laden, pedophiles, and OJ Simpson—this tax increase is one of the more elitist, bullshit moves I’ve seen in my lifetime. Let’s make it fair, non-smokers: how about, from now on we tax a six-pack of Bud so that it costs $24 at the corner bodega; a bottle of cheap wine or spirits a minimum of $50. Hey, a sin tax is a sin tax. And the economy could sure use a jolt, right?

(Btw, this is going to fuel mob-related cigarette bootlegging like never before. I never thought I'd ever say this but, I'm rooting for La Cosa Nostra on this one.)

And, as fellow blogger Rambler recently stated, "No one ever had one too many cigarettes and killed a family of four on the way home from the bar. "

Fuck you all, you arrogant, patronizing, hypocritical assholes. You know who you are.

Still stand by every word.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

What the GOP's True Goal Is

When George W. Bush won the 2004 presidential election I feared the worst: with his second and final term on the horizon and the threat of being tossed out of office behind him, 43 would line up his fellow Republicans to help dismantle as much of the policies past Democratic--and some GOP--administrations had established for social and common good. Looks like I was off by a few years, but this nefarious agenda is being pushed by a Republican controlled House of Representatives despite the presence of a Democrat in the White House and his party having control--albeit, slim--of the Senate. Healthcare, energy policy, entitlements, name it, they're going after it. They want to dismantle every single measure from the New Deal on down. It's quite possible they won't ultimately succeed in their goal, but they plan on riding this one out, for as long and as hard as they possibly can.

This is not some conspiracy theory nonsense or the overactive imagination of paranoid pundits. Just look around you and pay attention to the statements, proposals and more importantly, the actions of the new crop of Republican lawmakers and officials. It's not a conservative vs liberal agenda, but a radical dismantling of the federal government and what it stands for. Let's not be fooled: this is what these folks are looking to accomplish. They want to turn our country into a genuflecting mass of subservient automatons who should be grateful someone deigned to give 'em a job and not let them rot in a ditch somewhere. A country in which business interests trump everything else at all times, regardless of whose air, water, or food is being poisoned. A country in which the elderly have to work until right before they die. A country in which education and healthcare are regarded as luxuries befitting only those who can pay for them.

In recent years, a lot of these ugly scenarios have come closer to fruition than ever thought possible. The current batch of Republicans in power seemingly believe they can get the complete job done with just a big push. God help us all if they turn out be right.

Monday, February 7, 2011

How Expensive Baseball Games Have Gotten

The guys at River Ave. Blues have posted a Shea Stadium seating plan from '74, the first of two seasons in which the Mets shared their facilities w/the Yankees while the Bronx digs were being renovated. The field level seats were...$4! Yes, $4. Let that sink in for a second.

I know what you're thinking: "Yeah, but how much is that in 2011 money?"
That would be, approximately, $10-$12 today.

So, the cheapest day-of-game seat at YS today--not counting the $5 obstructed bleacher seats--is $15, more expensive, adjusting for inflation, than the best seats back in the day. Unbelievable. (The cheapest equivalent at CitiField, btw, is $12.)

"Fair enough. But neither NY team was exactly World Series material, right?"
Well, the Mets did have a losing season in '74 but the year before they won the pennant and lost the WS to the A's in 7 games, so it's not like they were sucking. The Yankees meanwhile, ended up with an 89-73 record, 2 games out of 1st place behind the Orioles. So, prices weren't low because the teams sucked. Of course, NYC's economy was about to collapse soon enough...


the final AL East standings in '74:
Red Sox

the final NL East standings in '74:

Looks funny to us now, huh?

Oh, in case you were wondering, currently the most expensive non-luxury box tix in both stadiums are $440 for Delta Club Platinum in Flushing; $325 for Field MVPs in the Bronx.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Patterson's 62K Fine is Bullshit

This week New York governor David Patterson was fined $62,125 by the New York State Commission on Public Integrity--flimsy name, ain't it?--for accepting 5 free tickets to Yankee Stadium during the 2009 World Series. Basically, he shouldn't have accepted the gratuity from the team, since they lobby the city and state and he wasn't at the Stadium in any official capacity. He may have also perjured himself when asked under oath about it.

Meanwhile, former NYC mayor Rudy "9/11" Giuliani has yet to see any fallout from his perennial sniffing of Yankee butt. (Which includes him getting a World Series ring from the team.) This is what has led the Paterson camp and some outside observers to consider the current issue selective enforcement and possibly a political witch hunt.

As for the fine itself, I was initially for it--although the amount seems quite stiff--but, as a commenter on the Yankee blog River Ave Blues, pointed out, if "some bullshit beauty queen hand wave" nonsense buys him a get-out-of-jail-free card, then Patterson is essentially being penalized for being too arrogant and/or stupid to legally break the rules. In other words, if he'd thrown out the ceremonial first pitch or performed some gubernatorial-related photo-op he would've easily dodged the ethics violations charge and the need to perjure himself. Ah, loopholes...

But wait--what good are ethical guidelines/rules if they can be legally circumvented with ease? Until they put some teeth into the penalties for ethical transgressions of this kind I smell bullshit either way.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Health Care Should Never Be About Monetary Cost

Although it only took almost a decade and was, in the end, scaled down, the Sept.11th First Responders finally got Congress to pass the bill which would provide health care for them. Let me briefly put aside the deplorable wait and undue nonsense these folks had to go thru, to salute them on this victory and wish them the best from here on in.

Now, I have to bring up the obvious.

So, if we're to take Republicans at their word the issue here was cost. But this is where I have a fundamental divide with conservative rationale: when it comes to saving and preserving life cost should never be a determining factor. Period. Now, if we're talking about an issue of convenience and not health, that's another matter. Sure, bring up cost if building that bridge or paving that road would be too expensive for what whatever benefits we'd get in return. But with issues regarding health, to bring up cost as a reason to not implement measures is, quite frankly, obscene and even immoral, IMHO.

And don't get me started on the hypocrisy of bringing up cost when you support the proven non-job creating, deficit-enlarging tax cuts for the rich.

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Christmas Cry Baby Blues


Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) called Democrats' push to force through an arms control treaty and an omnibus spending bill right before Christmas "sacrilegious," and warned he'd draw the process out to wage his objections.

“We shouldn’t be jamming a major arms control treaty up against Christmas; it’s sacrilegious and disrespectful," he told POLITICO. "What's going on here is just wrong. This is the most sacred holiday for Christians. They did the same thing last year - they kept everybody here until [Christmas Eve] to force something down everybody's throat. I think Americans are sick of this.

You know what Americans are actually tired of, Mr. DeMint? Overpaid clowns like yourself bitching and moaning that they MIGHT have to work leading up to Christmas Eve. Plenty of folks, including police, firefighters, nurses, EMTs, transit workers and many others who are lucky enough to have a job--not to mention thousands of the men and women of the Armed Forces--will be on the clock thru Christmas.

Do we need any more proof--along with their staunch defense of tax cuts for the rich--of how much contempt these people have for the average American? Ugh. At best, they are severely out of touch. But I'm not vouching for the latter. Assholes.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Forrest Gump of Baseball

On Monday, 79 year old Tampa Bay Rays coach Don Zimmer had a pacemaker installed. Get well soon, Zim. For those of you who don't know he is, well...

He was Jackie Robinson’s teammate; on the only Brooklyn Dodgers team to win a World Series; an original Met; a Red Sox coach during the incredible 1975 World Series; Red Sox manager in 1978 when the Yankees' Bucky Dent hit his legendary HR; managed the Cubs to a division title and named Manager of the Year in 1989; on the staff of the first Colorado Rockies team in 1993; and was the Yankees’ bench coach during the championship run of the late ‘90s…Damn!