Monday, August 31, 2009

Cop Out

OK, I know this is old news but it has become one of the sticking points of my marriage, Dumbledore the made up wizard character in the Harry Potter series was "outed" by author J.K. Rowling about two years ago. My wife was thrilled. Every gay rights minded Harry Potter fan I know was thrilled. I was not. Honestly I see it as a stunt. First off Dumbledore's sexuality is in no way germane to the books. It simply doesn't enter in to it. second why "out" him now? What's the point? This is no great symbol for gay rights or anything else. It's complete BS.

Rowling went on to say, "If I'd known it would make you so happy, I would have announced it years ago!" I doubt that very much. Cynically I think she was looking for a secondary boost in sales or publicity. If we can posthumously out Dumbledore and have people cheer why not other pretend people? Why not Captain Ahab? Hey, Atticus finch was gay. Does that do anything for ya? It doesn't matter if Dumbledore or Snape or Moaning Myrtle were gay. It's not a win for social justice. It's nothing. If it were going to be a win for anything important it would have been revealed in the books. I think the following quote sums it up nicely.

Ross Douthat of The Atlantic Monthly:

"It seems like a case of J.K. Rowling trying to retroactively bestow a level of adult complexity on her characters that they don’t possess on the printed page. A writer confident in her powers wouldn’t feel the need to announce details like this after the fact."

In an interview with Harry Potter fan site The Leaky Cauldron GLAAD spokesman Sean Lund sees the Dumbledore revelation as a good thing. You can read the interview but I'm not convinced.

Having openly gay characters in books and other media is important for gay rights. Hopefully having visible gay characters helps normalize homosexuality for the audience. But "outing" a fictional person after the character has been killed off after the final volume of the series has been released is baloney. It's a meaningless gesture signifying nothing.

Blah! to you J.K. Rowling. You're no pioneer, no activist.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

1568 Part III

1568 III
Down in the kitchen Jayne put on the kettle and whisked her three-quarters of a cup of coffee into the microwave. Mr. Pelican sat at the table looking out the window at the side yard from the same chair in which Jayne had first seen him. “I sat here in this very spot,” he began, “when I was eight years old. We had woodpile just there and one evening we watched about a dozen raccoons come clambering out, one at a time, from what seemed to be a perfectly solid woodpile.” Jayne regarded him over the rim of her mug trying to picture this old man as an eight-year-old boy. Imagining him very small but still wrinkled and dressed in a suit is as far as she could get with him sitting there in front of her. But when he spoke she felt like she could see the figures of his family moving through the house like a time lapsed photograph.

When the tea was ready he thanked her for the cup and they moved out to the back porch. He told her about his parents putting in the brick patio just beyond the porch, about his mother putting in the greenhouse window over the sink. He spoke at length about how the kids next door and two houses down to the south were all in a close enough age range that their parents took boards out of the fences in the back yards so the kids could go back and forth. He talked about the epic games of hide and seek and make believe the kids played in the three adjoining yards. She learned that his was the only one without a tree house. Jayne mentally committed to talking to June Grunwald about their fence even though her son and Jayne’s own kids weren’t very close.

“Well,” said Walter Pelican, “I’m afraid I’ve ended up giving you a tour instead of the other way ‘round. I hope I wasn’t to forward with my wandering.”

“You were fine.” replied Jayne. “I enjoyed hearing your memories of the house.”

“The one place I was truly happy.” he sighed. “Did I mention that before?’

“You did. Do mind…” she paused and he gave her a slight nod of acceptance. “Do you mind if I ask what you mean? Why you left?”

“Not at all. It’s an important part of the story I guess. You see Malcolm and my mother weren’t married. He wasn’t my father, but oh I wanted him to be. So did she. Then somehow it just didn’t work out. They broke up and sold the house and we moved away. At that time, at that age I mean, I didn’t know what had happened. They both gave me the speech you’re supposed to give kids. It wasn’t my fault, they both love me very much. To his credit Malcolm stayed in touch and would come and visit and take me out every once and while, until he had his own kids and moved too far away. Even after that we were in touch periodically through my early adulthood. But at that time it was like my life had been replaced with another. Like the prince and the pauper, or like when you come to the end of a good book and you look up and you’re back in the real world sitting on a train with a bunch of very average people.

“When my mother was with Malcolm it was the last time I felt like I was part of real family. The kind you grow up believing in like the Seavers or the Keatons. Malcolm’s family was normal. They were all still married for the first time. They had the 2.8 children, and we still went to his parents every year for Thanksgiving and Christmas. When they broke up I lost all that and I never got it back.

“I tried to provide the kind of stable home I’d always craved for my children. I hope they know that.”

Jayne felt an urge to take the old man’s hands, to look into his eyes and comfort the hurt child inside him. She longed to reassure him that he’d done a wonderful job with his children. Instead she turned towards the stove and rearranged the pans that had been drying there. She didn’t want to delve any deeper in to the old man’s pain but she couldn’t stop the question from eking its way from between her lips, “Do you know what happened?”

“Oh, I think it was a lot of things.” he replied. “The kind of things that happen to people sometimes, work, stress, neediness, jealousy, diverging interests or careers or goals. I guess sometimes people just grow apart.”

“You mentioned a brother, was your mom…”

“At some point yes. I think it happened around the time they were breaking up. I found her journals after she died. I read through them, hoping they would provide answers to questions I'd never thought of asking. In them I found that my mother wanted to have a child with Malcolm, that one was conceived but never carried to term. She didn’t write down the reason. I guess it was too painful even to commit to her private notes. Even though she never told me about it I think I knew on some level that I was supposed to have a sibling that never came. I kept hoping for one and when she and Malcolm split that dream died too.

“My mother did end up having another son eventually, with another man. But by that time he was a different kid and so was I. I was thirteen and as jaded as a kid that age has a right to be. But that’s another house and another time, one that I’m not as anxious to relive.

     I’m sorry. I don’t mean to leave you on a sad note. This really was a happy place for me. I’m glad to see it in the care of a family like yours.”

Jayne stood leaning against the range. They looked at each other for a long moment. “Well, I should be going.” said Walter motioning the hat in his hand towards the door. Jayne shook her head slightly as if waking from an extended daydream, “Yes, of course.” she said and followed him towards the door.

When they reached the threshold she opened the door for him and he stepped out onto the porch. He turned towards her and took her hand in his placing his left hand over her right. “Thank you Jayne.” he said. The look of calm in his eyes overwhelmed her and as he turned to go she felt that she couldn’t bear the thought of not seeing him again, of not getting the rest of the story. “Mr. Pelican.” she called after him. “Walter. You can come back again. We’d be happy to have you visit, meet the kids.”

Mr. Pelican paused on the stairs and turned himself halfway so that he could address her without facing her. “Thank you Jayne, but I think I’ve got what I came for. Anything more may be too much.”

Too melancholy to watch him make his way down the stairs Jayne closed the door and looked at the rooms around her. She knew that she would never be alone in the house again. The ghosts of former occupants that she always felt in a vague way, the spirits, the feeling of history in that old house which had helped her fall in love with it had become tangible. Now when she watched her children rip through the house chasing after each other she would see that little boy riding circles on his first bike. When she cooked lunch or did the wash she would do it alongside that other young mother who seemed to feel as happy and as uncertain as she sometimes felt. In the sun room she could see the cradle of the baby boy who was never able to call this house his home, and an alternate space where the happy little boy who grew up to be "Walter Abraham Pelican, Retired," stands cooing at his little brother. Outside the humming birds resumed their frenetic zigzagging flight.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

1568 Part II

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As she stepped back into the entryway to let Walter Pelican in Jayne fixed on the old man’s eyes. As he stood in the sunlight of the foyer his pupils dilated as if to let in as much of past as possible. “I had so many good times here.” He breathed the words as if talking to someone very close by. Jayne felt that his words were not meant for her so she said nothing. Mr. Pelican placed his hand on the railing of the stairs leading to the second story. “I remember running down these stairs on birthdays.” he said still not looking at her. “I would try to peek over the railing there to the dining room to see what kind of cake she’d made.” He looked down the short hallway towards the dining room, then at Jayne still holding the door standing slightly behind as if to ward off the strength of the old man’s memories. She noticed that she was hiding there not wanting to disturb him in a place she had long felt was her own. It was a puzzling feeling. “She always made the best cakes, very creative, in different shapes.

     When we started looking for houses I said that I wanted a house with stairs on the inside. For whatever reason that’s what a home meant to me. They took me on a lot of the trips to look at houses. I remember vetoing a few because they were only one story.” Jayne finally closed the door. His gaze remained fixed on were she had been standing through that spot and on to the sitting room.

“The Christmas I turned six years old I followed a trail of clues to the front porch. Sitting out there was my very first bicycle. Mom let me ride in circles through the sitting room, down the hall, round the corner of the dining room, the living room and back through the sitting room.” As he spoke he traced a path in the air. “It must have been a small bike.”

“Should I show you up stairs?” asked Jayne. She didn’t wait for a reply, uttering the phrase and moving towards the stairs almost simultaneously. She realized she’d taken a few steps up the stairs before checking to make sure he was following. He was. He took each stair slowly always stepping up with his right foot then bringing the left foot up to meet it. She waited for him on the landing before proceeding up the last four stairs. When they reached the top he paused leaning slightly on the railing. He looked at the three bedrooms running left to right from the back of the house to the front. “The middle one was mine.” he said after a moment.

“That’s my son’s room now. Would you like to look inside?”

Walter paused, “No.” he said, “Even though it was my room for those years I don’t have many memories of it.” Instead he moved to the left, to the bedroom at the back of the house. The door was ajar and he paused at the threshold. “You can go in.” said Jayne. “It’s my daughter’s room. She’s older.”

The room’s dimensions hadn’t changed in the eighty-one years since Walter had last been there. In his mind he could see the roll top desk, the couch, and the TV that had once been there. At the back of the room was a door leading to a sun room. The room, about eight feet wide, at the very back of the house, had windows running along its length with a short bench stretching wall to wall beneath the windows. It had been his mother’s sewing room and now was strewn with dolls and games. “It’s my daughter’s play room.” said Jayne. She had been trailing along behind him, allowing what she thought was an appropriate space between herself and his past, and now stood leaning in the doorway between the two rooms. “Ryan kind of dominates the rest of the house with his toys and she needed a place to play without worrying about a little brother crashing through.”

“I think this would have been my little brother’s nursery if I’d had one at the time. But that didn’t happen until much later.” He trailed off and she followed his gaze to the floor at the far corner of the room. Poking out beneath the dollhouse was the corner of a rectangular burn mark. Walter pointed at it.

“That was me.” he said. “The burn mark is from and old toy oven. A really old one like the kind my mother must have had when she was a child. It was all metal with a plug so old the cord was wrapped in fabric, from a time before widespread use of plastics. One day I was playing with it and I realized I’d never plugged it in. So I did and nothing seemed to happen. I put a little plastic pie pan filled with mud in the chamber and waited. Eventually I went outside to play. My mother smelled the plastic burning some time later and when we came up to investigate this electrified hunk of metal had been sitting there getting progressively hotter for over an hour. That’s when I learned about fire safety. I think my mom learned something about child safety too.”

“So there it is.” thought Jayne, “Another mystery solved.” Walter started back towards the hall taking a last look around the young girl’s suite as he went. He proceeded down the hall past the middle bedroom to the room at the front of the house. Although the door was open this time he paused again. Again, Jayne trailing some distance behind him, more curator than tour guide, gave him the OK to enter the room.

The front bedroom was sparse but still homey. Along the south wall a queen bed stuck partway into the room. At the west wall near the window was an old armoire. Otherwise there was no other furniture. Jayne stopped and took up her now customary position leaning in the doorway. Walter stood in the middle of the room and made a full shuffling turn. When he was facing Jayne he began his story again.

“I don’t think I’ve been in here more than a handful of times. My parents slept here. I don’t think it's that I wasn’t allowed in here. I remember the door being open almost all the time. I think it’s that, with so many other places to be, it just never really occurred to me to come in here.

“I do remember my mother had a big freestanding mirror that stood nearly in the middle of the room just about here” he said pointing few feet to his left towards the closet door. “I remember wondering if the boy in that mirror was having a better life than I was.” He paused staring into the mirror that was there eight decades in the past. “I read a lot of Lewis and Madeleine L’Engle when I was kid.” he sighed.

“Can I offer you something to drink?” asked Jayne.

“That would be lovely.”

Continued Here

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

1568 Part I

1568 I

It was the kind of spring day you imagine when you think of spring days. The morning had been bright and clear without the layer of fog that usually took until mid-morning to fully burn off. There were humming birds darting in and out of the creeping flowers that no one had planted but still grew along the south side of the house. The house stood there as it had since 1908. Set back from the street and on a bit of a hill so that you had to climb two set of stairs to reach the porch. The bees buzzed in the north east corner of the yard but she was content to leave them alone since trying to eradicate them in past summers hadn’t worked and the kids didn’t seem interested in playing in that corner of the yard anyway. The erratic motion of the humming birds and the bees highlighted the fact that it was an otherwise still day.

Jayne sat with her second cup of coffee. It was almost eleven-o-clock but she wasn’t rushing into chores today. Instead she was reading, sipping that indulgent second cup and skimming the gossip blogs. She liked having this time to herself though she rarely took the time to really enjoy it. As she clicked through photos of ugly things celebrities had worn it only half occurred to her that she’d seen someone outside along the side of the house. A stooped but well appointed figure somewhat aimlessly walking along the side yard between her and the Grunwalds. The man had such a casual air about him he almost seemed as though he belonged there, as if he were looking at a house he had just noticed had come on the market.

The house was not on the market. Jayne had lived at 1568 Milvia St for about five years and was happy there. It was nice neighborhood, quiet with good schools and walking distance to the more chi-chi Walnut Square part of downtown. Jayne went out the back door to the side yard to see who the man might be. They’d had a couple homeless people wander into the yard over the years. Never with any ill intent, just looking for a quiet spot to sleep or sit. They never gave her any trouble when she approached them, and went on their way without being asked. Once Joe had even found a woman sleeping in his car when he was off to work. “Rise and shine” he’d said to her as she nervously gathered herself and exited through the rear door. But this man did not seem homeless. Though she’d only seen him for a second she did not get the impression that the man was down and out. Maybe he was lost.

When Jayne reached the gate at the side of the house, the gate they’d put in to keep people from getting all the way to the backyard, she could see that the man wasn’t there. She went back in intent on finishing her coffee and figuring out if she hadn’t imagined the whole thing when the doorbell rang, which to her surprise, gave her a bit of a start. As she walked down the hall she could see through the three crystal cut panes of glass, a man’s hat. It was the type of hat she’d seen in the Country Gentleman ad in her grandmother’s old Life magazines. The hat put her at ease as she thought that only very old men wear that type of hat. Despite her new confidence she opened the door they way one does for a Jehovah’s Witness, or someone holding a clipboard. A way that says “You’ve got about six words to convince me not to close the door again.” Sure enough, there beneath the hat, stooped in a way that suggested both age and a lifetime of poor posture, stood an old man.

“I’m sorry to bother you ma’am” he said. He was dressed the way old people used to dress. Rather than the elastic waistbands and jogging tops worn by on-the-go seniors of today he wore a tan shirt with a button down collar topped by a green tweed vest and a brown blazer. Below that his tan slacks, when viewed in the right light form the right angle revealed a hint of very thin corduroy.

“You were at the side of the house.”

“Yes ma’am. I’m sorry about that. It was so quiet I wasn’t sure there was anyone home. My name is Walter Pelican and I am ninety years old just recently.

Jayne briefly pondered the figure standing before her. He didn’t look like a beggar, at least not a modern beggar. If he was about launch into a sob story and request money she knew she’d have a hard time not at least listening so she started to plan her escape. She silently prayed for the phone to ring. “How can I help you Mr. Pelican?”

“Well this may sound a bit,” he paused searching for the right word, “peculiar” he finally managed. “But you see I used to live in this house when I was a young boy. I think it was the only time in my childhood I was truly happy.

     I’ve passed by here now and again over the years on my way here and there and I’ve often wondered about the people living there now. I’ve longed to see the place but I never had the confidence to approach it. I’ve always wanted to knock on the door and see who was here. What they’ve done with the place. Mostly I guess I just wanted to take a few moments to be this space and reminisce about those years. I wondered about it in my twenties when I couldn’t knock the door without seeming suspicious. I wondered in my thirties and forties when I was busy with my children and unwilling to revisit my own childhood. I wondered in my fifties and sixties when the desire seemed foolish and immature for man with grandchildren. Now I’m much older and I’ve finally found courage to knock on this old door.

     So I’m wondering ma’am, if some time, when it’s not too much trouble, if you’d be wiling to give me a tour of the place. I understand it’s an odd request but it would mean a great deal to me.”

He reached inside his pocket and produced a business card, which he handed to her. “Well that’s what I’ve come to say.” And with that Walter Pelican turned to leave. Jayne stood in the doorway unsure of what to say. She looked down at the card in her hand. It read, “Walter Abraham Pelican, Retired” with a phone number. “Mr. Pelican.” Walter Pelican did not turn back but cocked an ear towards her. “I’m not doing anything right now. I’d be happy to show you around.”

“I don’t want to intrude on your morning.” he replied already moving back from the top step to the porch.

“Oh it’s no bother Mr. Pelican.” Jayne answered. “I’m Jayne.”

Mr. Pelican stuck out his hand and stood as straight as he could, “Walter. It’s good to meet you Jayne.”

“It’s good to meet you Walter.”

Continued Here

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Plax

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"Yeah Hi, I'd like to hire that guy from "The Bodyguard." No not Kevin Costner, the guy, the bodyguard guy. Never mind."

So Plaxico Burress is going to prison. ESPN is reporting that Burress agreed to a plea that will send him away for two years. For those who have not been following the story Burress was arrested last season after accidentally shooting himself in the leg in a New York night club when a gun stuck in the waistband of his sweatpants slipped out and fired.

According to the ESPN.com article Burress's lawyer thinks his client was unfairly targeted because of his celebrity status. There are some aspects of the case that back that up. For example no one else involved in the incident was indicted even though there is evidence to suggest a fairly wide ranging attempt to cover up what happened. Plax's gun was not registered in New York or New Jersey. The security guard at the club did not confiscate the weapon at the scene to turn over to police. Instead he gave it to Giants linebacker Antonio Pierce (removing evidence) who then drove then gun to his own home (transporting an unlicensed weapon across state lines) then to Burress's home (and again). The staff at the hospital did not report the shooting to police which they are compelled to do in many states. Still, even though multiple people were involved in actions that point towards an attempt to shield Burress from prosecution only Burress is being held accountable.

That said, the lawyer's comments in regard to the severity of Burress's punishment are boarder line hysterical. here's a sampling from the ESPN.com article:

"This was not an intentional criminal act," Brafman said. "In my judgment, a two-year prison sentence is a very severe punishment."

"Brafman called the case "a perfect example about how bad judgment can have very serious consequences," and said Burress was treated more harshly because he is a celebrity."

"If Plaxico Burress were not a high-profile individual, there never would be a case," he said. "If he were just John Q Public he could have walked out of the club and he never would have been arrested."

Seriously? Lets discuss this further.

"This was not an intentional criminal act?" Really? So tucking an unlicensed handgun into the waistband of his sweatpants and going out to a night club was...an accident? "Oops, am I still carrying a concealed weapon without a permit? Silly me."

"If he were just John Q Public he could have walked out of the club and he never would have been arrested." Really? So if I carry a gun into a public venue, shoot myself and have the bullet nearly hit the security guard standing nearby I'll just get off without any kind of consequences? Cool. I'm thinking that what will really happen if J.Q. Public does this same thing is that the guard, realizing he's OK and that I almost Pacman Jonesed him will proceed to beat me within an inch of my life, then he'll call the cops, then I'll sit in jail until my trial because I can't come up with the bail, then I'll go to jail for whatever the maximum sentence is. I'm thinking people, even "normal" people, don't just get away with this kind of "unintentional criminal act."

So, what do we learn from this? I really don't know. I hope people learn that they should not carry guns around. Especially in the waistband of their sweatpants. I can't even keep my phone in an elastic waistband how did this guy think a gun was going to stay? Also, rich people, use your money to hire people to do things for you. If you're worried about security hire a body guard who is authorized to carry a weapon. If you like to drink call a cab, or a limo, or tour bus but don't get in your car and start driving around killing people. It looks like the Leonard Little days are over. If you are too stupid to remember these simple things hire someone to remember them for you. But for gawdsake stop doing this stupid shit.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

It's Not Who You Know

Berto and Jim Rice
Berto and Jim Rice
About twelve years ago I had the privilege of going to a San Francisco Giants game as a guest of a guest of the person playing the national anthem. This meant we got access to a catered luxury box and everything that comes with it. The game was notable for being the major league debut of future Twins All-Star closer Joe Nathan who began his career as a starter for the Giants. The box was full of people I didn't know which I was used to with these types of events but being an out going type I chatted with the people around me about the game and baseball in general.

When we left my host asked "So, did you get an autograph?"

"From who?" I had no idea what he was talking about.

"Tony Perez. The guy sitting next to you."
"Like, Big Red Machine? Tony Perez?"
"Yeah. The guy you were talking to."
"No. No one told me that was Tony Perez."
"So I guess you didn't meet Cepeda either."
"Orlando Cepeda?"
"Yeah, with the hat."
"I met him. We talked. I didn't get his name. Dude, you have got to tell me these things."

So there it was. I had just spent four hours talking baseball with a couple hall of famers and didn't even know it. Looking back it was probably a good thing I didn't know. I wasn't intimidated or over awed. I probably said somethings that made me look stupid in regards to baseball but I was myself. When I remember that day I don't dwell on the missed opportunity to get autographs and take pictures. I think of the rare chance to sit with legends on an equal footing. They didn't look at me and shake their heads at this kid who thought he knew the game. They engaged me in conversation. What I didn't know that day gave me a rich and treasured experience.

Ten years later I had another rare baseball opportunity. I was hired to work at the boston Red Sox fantasy camp . The camp was staffed by a mix of former Red Sox like Spaceman Lee, Oil can Boyd, and others who didn't have cool nicknames with appearances by current Red Sox coaches, hall of famer Carl Yastrzemski, and future hall of famer Jim Rice. Everyone (except Yaz who was only there for one day) did a great job of integrating the campers, men between the ages of 30 and 75, with the former players. Again here was a group of former big leaguers treating everyone around them as equals. Maybe this shouldn't be such a big deal, but in an age of pampered stars it was refreshing.

The main difference between the camp experience and the luxury box experience is that I knew who most of the players were. I had a chance to read a little bit about them and their careers before I arrived, they were introduced the first day, we spent a week hanging out and playing ball ten hours/day. We got a chance to get to know them. At one point Jim Rice asked me about my mismatched uniform (white home jersey/grey away pants):

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"They didn't give me a uniform Jim. I had to put this together myself."
"Aw c'mon it's not what you know, it's who you know. If you had come to us we could have hooked you up."
"I didn't know I knew you Jim."

One of my favorite guys was Luis Tiant. El Tiante was a good guy. Sox fans love Luis Tiant. I was not a Sox fan so all I knew about Tiant, other than him pitching in the 1975 World Series, is what I learned by talking to him. I knew he was from Cuba. I learned that he likes cigars and he's a jovial joking, kind hearted man. I left camp with a fond impression of El Tiante. It turns out I had only scratched the surface. I if I had known then what I've learned since I would have stood in awe of him.

ESPN recently premiered "The Lost Son of Havana" a film about Luis Tiant's first trip back to Cuba in 46 years. Luis Tiant was playing pro ball in Mexico when the Bay of Pigs Invasion occurred. At that time cuban athletes playing abroad were told to either come home and play amateur baseball or be exiled. Tiant, whose father had played in the Negro Leagues, chose Major League Baseball and exile. I won't recount his entire career here except to mention that Luis began playing in the US under Jim Crow, came back from injury, perception and age several times, and turned in one of the great World Series pitching performances of all time albeit in a losing cause. The crowning moment for Tiant was 1975 when Fidel Castro allowed Tiant's parents to leave cuba to watch their son pitch for the Red Sox. They hadn't seen each other in 14 years. El Tiante's father Luis Tiant Sr. who had pitched the New York Cubans to their only Negro League title was finally allowed to take the mound in a major league park when he threw out the first pitch at Fenway prior to his son's game. A year later both of Luis Tiant's parents passed away within a few hours of each other, his father of cancer and his mother of a ruptured aorta.

The legacy of Luis Tiant is that of a man who gave up everything to follow his dream. He gave up his family, and he gave up his homeland. His desire to test himself at the highest level and to fulfill the dream his father was never able to attain turned him into a permanent sojourner. He faced discrimination here and a mixture of scorn and admiration at home. Luis Tiant is a symbol of strength and perseverance. He is also part of the enduring legacy of Jackie Robinson.

It may seem like a leap to go from Luis Tiant to Jackie Robinson but follow me for a moment. There has been a lot of talk over the past few years about the dwindling impact of Jackie Robinson's legacy. People point to the decreasing numbers of African Americans in the majors as though it's a slap in the face of all the Robinson endured. The claims often indicate that baseball is not doing enough to attract African Americans to the sport and is thereby disrespecting Robinson in the process. This analysis in itself diminishes the impact of Robinson's legacy by overlooking dark skinned Latin American players.

Luis Tiant Sr. was not African American but he was barred from playing major league baseball because of his skin color. Jackie Robinson did not just break the color barrier for African Americans, he broke it for all players of color. Without Jackie Robinson there would have been no El Tiante in Boston, we would never have seen Manny Being Manny, no Pedro striking out six in the all star game. Without Robinson there is no Clemente. Without Robinson there is no Tony Perez or Orlando Cepeda for me to lead off this article with. Without Jackie Robinson there is no Mpho Ngoepe. Haven't heard of him?

Mpho Ngoepe is a Pirates minor leaguer and the subject of a recent Sports Illustrated article. Mpho, or "Gift" is trying to become the first ever African player in the Major Leagues. People who focus on the number of African American players in the major leagues as the sole measure of Jackie Robinson's legacy are doing a disservice to both Robinson and to all of the dark skinned Latino players who have come into the league since 1947. They are also marginalizing players like Gift who will come into the league in future years.

In the end it isn't about who you know. It's what you know about them. Orlando Cepeda, Tony Perez, and Jim Rice are all in the Hall of Fame. Meeting them was a thrill, even if only in hindsight. But everything I know about them begins and ends with their credentials. It's Tiant that I will always remember the most. Thinking about this jovial little butterball that I joked with and drank with for a week one spring, how I saw him then, and everything I've learned about him since will stick with me as one of the most cherished experiences of my life. Knowing that this man who had been through so much, dealt with so much pain, could keep on smiling is something I hope I can carry into my own life. When I sit down to teach my son about baseball I'll teach him about Rickey and Campy, and Manny. But I'll take extra time to teach him about Jackie, and Clemete, and Tiant, the man who gave up everything, and kept on laughing.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Cribbs Notes

Cribbs
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So Joshua Cribbs wants a new deal with four years left on his current contract. He says he wants Devin Hester money. Some people agree with him. Some people are Sir Rantalot. And then there's bam28226. As we saw in the Mike Vick debate post the people who get the most passionate about these arguments also have the least to say. So what's the point of these posts? To show how clever Sir Rantalot is? Not really. It's more to show that even when you show people the rationale behind the debate they still refuse to see anything other than what they want to see. It doesn't matter if it's health care or football ignorance rules the roost.

Again, do not debate if you don't have anything of substance to say.

Bertissimo 10:23am

Wah! Wah! Wah! What a baby.

You signed a six year deal, honor it. The only way the team isn't honoring the deal like Cribbs claims is if they don't pay him. If you want to renegotiate this soon you should have signed a two year deal. You sir are no D. Hester.

Oh, and if you can't live off 6 mil for the rest of your life you're doing something wrong. Cribbs makes in one year what I make in 10. My family is doing fine. Learn to budget dummy.

--Oh but he's a triple threat. He's a return man, a WR, a QB, a RB and he sells hot dogs during half time.--

Bertissimo 10:35am

Career

REC YDS AVG LNG TD
16 / 153 / 9.6 / 18 / 1

CAR YDS AVG LNG TD
40 / 239 / 6.0 / 27 / 1

This guy has 16 career receptions and 40 carries. He's not exactly Slash Stewart. He's not even Troy Brown. He's not underpaid, he's getting what he's worth.

--Now it gets fun--

bam68226 10:36am

bertissimo You are a idiot to think hester is better then cribbs. hester avg 20 yrds a return in his career cribbs 28, and as i recall hester lost his return job bc he wasnt preforming for the last 8 games. you dont know nothing.

--A guy who used the word "preforming" just called me an idiot. He also deleted a post where he said I was aliar and there's no way I make $1M/year.--

Bertissimo 10:48am

Bam,

You moron, Hester also has 71 career receptions including 51 last year. He's WAY more valuable than Cribbs. Oh, and if needed he's a better defender than Cribbs. At least you cleaned up your bad math though so kudos on that. Dummy.

bam68226 10:52am

bert you are dumb really cribbs playd QB, RB, WR, defense of special teams, and returner. he buy far is way more versitile then hester. and comin from a hurricane fan hester is whack so hope of his D. you dummy. its hard to carry a team on your back like he did never getting time to catch his breath, but i always say hester on his bench cept when recievin

--"but i always say hester on his bench cept when recievin" Huh?--

bam68226 10:57am

oh and bert yea i think it was daniel manning who took over kick returns at the end of the bears season, #### im a browns fan and i know more bout any team then you do

Bertissimo 11:03am

Bam,

Who cares about Daniel Manning? Considering your spelling and grammar you should chill with insulting people's intelligence. You really are the worst kind of ignorant.

--I usually try to stay off of mentioning people's spelling and grammar in chats because it online but this guy called me stupid one too many times.--

bam68226 11:05am

your right who cares bout him but guess what he was doing his job over hesters thats why hester lost it and right now idc bout my spelling and grammer it isnt school, im heated right now bc your an ignorant piece of S***

Bertissimo 11:06am

The hold out strategy worked in the past but I think teams are over it by this point. It seems that in the past players held out if they had a year left on their deal and they wanted to stay where they were. But this new trend of players wanting to renegotiate with two or more years left on their contracts is terrible. If you want to renegotiate that soon sign shorter deals.

bam68226 11:07am

just bc you cant be famous and make good money like these people and work as hard as hard as they do. its not just the 16 games for his 6 million hes making. its all year round the effort they put outside the field and having talkd to cribbs seen cribbs he is one of the hardest working players you will ever see, bert

--He just kind of threw me in there at the end. Why?--

bertissimo 11:09am

Bam,

You're comparing a returner to a position player you yutz. Who cares if Hester lost his return job? He's a real full time player now, not a gimmick. You're whole argument is based on Hester's primary value being a returner. It's like comparing you to someone with a clue, it's two totally different things.

rgs_13 11:10am

return guys and average WRs are a dime a dozen

Bertissimo 11:10am

"return guys and average WRs are a dime a dozen "

Exactly.

bam68226 11:10am

oh bert your real funny cribbs doesnt have aset spot when he plays the whole damn game, have you watched football before, i mean come on he is every where on the field

bearsclone 11:12am

"If you want to renegotiate that soon sign shorter deals."

The problem is that as a drafted rookie, your rights are controlled by one team, and they can largely dictate terms. If you are a top pick, you have the leverage, because no team wants the PR nightmare of being bad AND having their top pick not sign-- it makes the fans angry and gives them no hope for the future.

If you are outside of that top 15, you have a greatly diminished amount of leverage. A team says "sign this six year deal" and you either sign it or sit out a year and come back a year older, not playing any football for a year, and suddenly you're a 4th round pick or go undrafted.

If you sign a veteran deal (that is, you get a nice fat contract extension with a signing bonus, that you didn't NEED to sign) then I agree. I hate the fact that some one will sign a huge deal that makes them the most highly paid person at their position ever, and then in year four or five of that eight year deal, they want a new one.

Bertissimo 11:14am

"The problem is that as a drafted rookie, your rights are controlled by one team"

He's not on his rookie deal. He signed an extension in 2007 before his 3rd year.

bearsclone 11:16am

"He's not on his rookie deal. He signed an extension in 2007 before his 3rd year."

If that's the case then I can see where people would have a problem with it.

--Thanks bearsclone. Now that's a friendly debate.--

bam68226

bert, he is a KR,PR,QB,RB,WR, special teams defense, and this year soon to be a CB. please tell me hester does all that for his 40 mil contract and 15 mil guranteed. thats right cribbs does it all for 6 mil point in case deserves a raise

--OK, bam's coming around. He said something half way cogent and didn't call me an idiot. Cool. At this point I get behind in a couple responses because I had to go and do some actual work at work. I thin kyou can still foloow the thread though.--

Bertissimo 11:19am

Bam,

Since I don't live in Ohidaho I don't get to see many Browns games. We have our own cruddy teams to watch here. So I'm very familiar with the players that play really well on losing teams around here. I just don't have the time to follow every terrible team in the league to see who's doing just enough to not really matter. It's great that you love Cribbs so much. Good for you.

bam68226 11:21am

Bert i live 3.5 hrs away from cleveland and i went to 7 out of 8 games one missd bc i had a college baseball game, and i bet your team you like is garb. im not sayn the browns are the best in the league we have problems and it was signing mangini as are coach

bam68226 11:22am

by the way its ohio, and i bet i went to more games last year then you did your entire life

OhioDevil 11:23am

Bam are you serious? Do you even watch the Browns play? Cribbs is on the field for maybe 10-15 plays a game, he does not play QB or RB. Every time he lines up back there he ran the ball for 2yds up the middle. The guy is a great cover guy on special teams and a great return guy, but teams kicked away from him last season negating his effectiveness. There is no way a Special Teamer can demand a new deal, just because the Bears were stupid and paid Hester does not open the door for Cribbs. If Cribbs wins a spot as a Safety or Corner, then yes...give him a raise.

Bertissimo 11:26

Yeah, he's a great QB. He's 1 for 5 for 8yds and a whopping 39.6 rating. Hes got 8 total TDs in his 4 year career.

Hester has 17 TDs in 3 years.

bam68226 11:29

bc they kickd the ball to hester, they were afraid of cribbs. and damn i wish i could have the fluke year that hester had to he had 1 good year cribbs has been increasing as his years go on

--Yeah. That year the Bears went to the Super Bowl no one was afraid of Hester. Right.--

Bertissimo 11:30am

Bam,

I already said I don't care about how many games I've watched or been to or seen and I've already said the teams in my area are terrible. Who cares how many games you go to each year? You're still a dummy. You probably should know more if you invest so much time into it.

And it's Ohidaho because I said it's Ohidaho.

bam68226 11:32am

haha well your a #### to say its that where you from north dakota where there are more cows then people haha

--????--

bam68226 11:34am

o and by the way i dont invest my time in it your the one coming up with all the stats, mine are from my head i dont have the time i have a life, sorry i cant sit on a comp all day and look at stats like you

--This from the guy who's been matching me comment for comment all morning. I'll never understand the people who feel like it's a conversational advantage to just spout whatever it is they half remember based on their hazy impressions of events rather than taking ten seconds to look it up. People, research and verification are good things!--

Bertissimo 11:35am

"haha well your a #### to say its that where you from north dakota"

Dude, I work with languages for a living but I have to say I have no idea what this is supposed to mean. I get that you think I'm from ND but that's about it. Are you drunk?

bam68226 11:40

congradulations BERT you work with languages you want a present. i dont give a you know what where you work, your the one that seems to know everything but you still cant give a valid reason, why he doesnt deserve his money

this is to an earlier statement you had o and by the way i dont invest my time in it your the one coming up with all the stats, mine are from my head i dont have the time i have a life, sorry i cant sit on a comp all day and look at stats like you

--But he had time to repeat that comment about not knowing anything.--

Bertissimo 11:44am

Bam,

Looking up stats takes two minutes, far less time than driving from Saskatoon to Cleveland to spend 5 hours at the game then driving home. But you have a life right? And you do have time to spend all day on the computer, you've been chatting it up with me for over an hour. But hey, we know math isn't your strong suit. Neither is English. You're kind of the Josh Cribbs of this discussion, you're all over the place but you don't really contribute to any wins.

thirdfloor81 11:44am

2 receptions for 18 yards and 1 touchdown in 2008... BOO HOO CRIBBS!

bam68226 11:45am

thirdfloor81 hey funny how donte stallworth, kellen winslow, braylon edwards, syndric steptoe, steve heiden are all in front of him of course he isnt goin to get many receptions

--Wait, haven't you been basing your argument on how great a receiver he is? If he's so great why are there five guys ahead of him on the depth chart?--

bam68226 11:48am

bert i havent been on a comp in a week prolly and since your so ignorant how couldnt i stay on and chat with you. bc you think your the man but your cases have all been whack just like you

--Heh. I'm compelling.--

oronatx 11:49am

Bertissmo,

Thats great. You summed this dude up best

"You're kind of the Josh Cribbs of this discussion, you're all over the place but you don't really contribute to any wins"

lmao

--Heh. I have fan.--

Bertissimo 11:51am

Bam, you make no sense pal. What you did last week doesn't matter. It's now that counts. And yes. I am the man.

bam68226 11:53am

bert you are a tool, not the man your the person at work that gets annoying and people tell to shut up bc thats all you been is a pest, that has no knowledge of sports

--Now it's just getting silly. But I'm OK with that.--

Bertissimo 11:57am

Bam, I clearly know way more than you and with less effort. I rule. People at work love me because I'm fun and I'm good at what I do. Man=Me.

bam68226 11:57am

bert normally the people that say that dont have friends, your a no one and its said to see that, but i hope your right in that you do have friends but the way you have been doesnt show any promise just like hesters career no promise hes LAZY

Bertissimo 11:59

Bam, I didn't bring it up. You did.

--Then there was some name calling and a discussion of the 49ers. I went to work for a couple hours and returned to this:--

Irishogs 1:51pm

GIVE THE MAN HIS MONEY!!!! He is our most dependable offensive player. He always plays hard and has done everything asked of him from being a kick returner, to a wide receiver, to running the wildcat, and apparently now playing cornerback. I'm starting to think Mangini is on a mission to destroy the Browns. Consistently, Cribbs makes the plays and catches that Braylon usually drops.

Mr. Lerner - GIVE THE MAN HIS MONEY!!!

Bertissimo 1:59pm

"He is our most dependable offensive player."

He scored 3 TDs last year. He doesn't consistently make catches Edwards can't, he only had 2 catches last season and only 16 in 4 years. If he's the best on the team the team is in big trouble.

Irishogs 2:03pm

Bertissimo:

I'm saying he shows up every game, and he plays every down. Maybe he only had 3 TDs last year, but he wasn't the main guy either. Compare him to the main guys (Winslow, Edwards, Stallworth) and talk to me about efficiency. I put Stallworth in that group because he was supposed to be important to our offense. Although, he was ridiculously underused which isn't entirely his fault.

I'm not saying he is our most talented receiver. I'm saying that he is our most consistent and dependable player, and if he outplays and outperforms the main guys (despite fewer attempts) he should be paid at their level.

--Well said. Next is a response to a few Cribbs apologists.--

Bertissimo 2:36pm

"if he outplays and outperforms the main guys (despite fewer attempts) he should be paid at their level"

--Maybe. But he hasn't done it yet.

"HE PLAYS MORE THAN 1 POSITION"

--And he doesn't play any of them other than KR/PR at an elite level. His best skill position seems to be RB. If he was an elite RB he'd be starting there.

"This isn't him crying over his contract after the 1st or 2nd year"

--Yes it is. This is now the third year of this deal.

"he's a better WR (as of right now)" (than Hester)

--No he's not. He had 2 catches last year Hester had 51.

If you want to look at versatility and playing multiple positions compare Cribbs as a QB and Ronnie Brown (the man who put the wildcat on the map last year).

Cribbs for his career is 1 for 5 for 8 yds and 0 TD. Brown is 2 for 4 for 41 yds and 1 TD. But Brown also rushed for 916 yds and had 16 receptions and 10 total TDs last year. Cribbs had 2 catches 167 yds rushing and 3 total TDs.

Cribbs is not the offensive dynamo some people think he is.

How about Cribbs compared to LT?

Remember Cribbs: 1 for 5, 8 yds, 0 TD.

LT: 8 for 11, 143 yds, 7 TDs

Plus LT contributes way more to the offense. Cribbs has made himself slightly more valuable than as just a good return man. That's how you keep your job, but not enough to make demands with 4 years left on your deal.

FEEZJAMES 2:45pm

BERTISSIMO look, when he gets the opportunities he's not gonna disappoint, I don't agree with the Hester comment either, but understand he was a situational player last year whereas Hester was already put into the system. but since you took one of my quotes (not mad at ya 4 that) you seem to leave the most important one out. WHO LED THE BROWNS IN ALL-PURPOSE YARDS LAST YEAR. and last time i checked All-purpose yards DOES determine who your top 2 (if not 3) best yard producers are, therefore MAKING THEM 1 OF YOUR BEST PLAYERS. Like it or not people, he deserves it and find a better reason other than comparing his bankroll to yours why he doesn't deserve it. Then It'll be a REAL debate here.

FEEZJAMES 2:48pm

ok BERTISSIMO you're sounding real asinine with that one. comparing Cribbs to LT is comparing Elway to Plummer or Cutler, U CAN'T COMPARE APPLES AND ORANGES DUDE, come more sensible than that

Bertissimo 3:03pm

"WHO LED THE BROWNS IN ALL-PURPOSE YARDS LAST YEAR. and last time i checked All-purpose yards DOES determine who your top 2 (if not 3) best yard producers are, therefore MAKING THEM 1 OF YOUR BEST PLAYERS."

I disagree. First off Cribbs wasn't even in the top ten in all purpose yards in the NFL last year. Some of the guys who beat him out were Steve Breaston, Eddie Royal, Johnnie Lee-Higgins and Josh Wilson. These guys are not among the best players on their teams. These are not the guys who make their teams "go." Should Breaston ask for a new deal to put him on par with Larry Fitzgerald? Breaston had more yards.

"Cribbs to LT is comparing Elway to Plummer or Cutler, U CAN'T COMPARE APPLES AND ORANGES DUDE,"

Exactly, but it seems his agent and people in this discussion are saying he's as valuable as other guys with big money deals who do more than one thing. He's not. He's a good KR/PR and below average at everything else. He needs to compare himself to other KR/PR not guys who actually start at a skill position.

Oh and he's asking for a raise after ranking 12th n KR and 18th in PR yards. Outside the top ten in his specialty.

FEEZJAMES 3:17pm

well BERTISSIMO i don't know where you've been but everybody in Phoenix (recent visit) said despite what Fitz has done, they wouldn't have gotten there without Steve Breaston who they refer to as their 'X-Factor'. So that's null and void. Eddie Royal will be Denver's #2 receiver, don't know those other guys but I thought my ? was WHO LED THE BROWNS in all-purpose yards, NOT THE NFL. which validates point #3 (Breaston and Royal the other 2) anything else?

Bertissimo 3:22pm

FEEZ,

My point is that all purpose yards is a misleading stat. It doesn't always point to your best players. You have a good point about Royal, I forgot about him. Breaston did very well, but he's not an elite player at this point. You can get other guys to do what he does.

Teams also wouldn't make it through the year, through the playoffs, to the Super Bowl without kickers. Kickers often lead their teams in points but very few people think kickers should be given huge contracts. Cribbs is a nice player, but he's not great

Players with more impact and less money than Cribbs who have not issued a press release:

Lance Moore

Vincent Jackson

Johnnie Lee Higgins

Steve Breaston

Brandon Marshall

The bottom line is that guys like Cribbs are like utility baseball players. The guy who starts at six different positions in a season usually doesn't do it because he's such a great player. These guys learn to play several positions because that's how they keep a roster spot. If they were good enough to play one position and stay in the line up they would do it. Cribbs doesn't play WR/RB/QB/DB because he's a great player. He does it because he's not good enough at any of those positions to play any of them full time. In short he's a slash guy because he's not good enough to do anything else. Hopefully he, and myopic Browns fans, will figure that out.

Monday, August 10, 2009

I'm a Bad Fan

I'm a bad fan. At least that's what I gather based the fact that I don't want my team to win. I want them to lose. I want them to lose enough to end up with a top ten draft pick, but not a top five draft pick. I'll tell you why.

Recently 49ers first round draft pick Michael Crabtree's "advisor" (cousin) has stated that is willing to hold out the entire year rather than take the slotted money being offered by the 49ers. This comes on the heels of Crabtree's agent, Eugene Parker, saying that Crabtree should be paid like a top five pick despite the fact that Crabtree was drafted with the tenth pick. This is apparently based on where Crabtree was projected to go in the draft . Parker issued a non-denial denial regarding the hold out threat but that has not kept this from becoming a hot story in the bay area.

Of course there are several reasons why Crabtree should not be paid like a top five pick. The first being that he was drafted tenth (see previous paragraph). The second is that not only was Crabtree not the top player in the draft, he wasn't even the top player at his position. That honor went to Darius Heyward-Bey who was also not a top five pick (number seven to the Raiders). Finally many sports including the NFL use an informal slotting system for paying draft picks. That is if the number one pick gets X then everyone else gets less than X with the number 2 pick getting roughly X-(1 draft slot), the number 3 pick getting X-(2 draft slots) and so on. This has the most impact at the top of the draft where there's more ego involved. #2 is never going to sign for less than #3 or #4. So with only six of the top ten picks signed so far it seems like people are waiting to see what Crabtree gets before making deals for players picked higher in the draft.

According to Ray Ratto among others I should be upset with the 49ers. I should be crying out that they do whatever it takes to sign Crabtree. After all we need him in order to win. Right? Right? Uh....right....? Sure the Niners came within a couple plays of beating Arizona twice and maybe making the playoffs but that's not enough to convince me. Who knows, maybe a game breaking wide out would have made the difference. Maybe going with Shawn Hill from the beginning would have made the difference. Maybe Eddie DeBartolo not getting popped for bribing a Louisiana Governor would have made the difference. But I'm not upset with the team. Why should they over pay a guy to come in and not make a difference on a bad team?

I think it's time for teams to go back to the days of taking stands against players and their insane demands. It seems like the teams are with me. You can find evidence of this in the Joshua Cribbs story this off-season. Cribbs wanted "Devin Hester money" but hadn't put up Devin Hester numbers. Anyone remember Sean Gilbert? Yeah. So here's why I'm a bad fan. I hope Crabtree does hold out the entire year. I hope the 49ers lose enough games to land some where between the 6th and the 10th draft pick. Then I hope they draft Crabtree again and offer him a little less than they offered him this year. And if he holds out again I hope they draft him every year until he retires. They won't need a top ten pick every year. After a while they'd be able to get him for a 2nd round pick then a 3rd round pick and so on. I'm a bad fan because I'd rather see an example made of this player than see my team win.

I guess this is what happens when the team is so bad for so long. Maybe I'd feel different if the Niners were winning and adding talent might actually mean something. For now though I'm rooting that no one wins.

Oh and if you want a laugh track back through some of the comments on Josh Cribbs article. There's an even better debate on there between me and a guy coming "off the doom."

Friday, August 7, 2009

Shenanigans



I am cursed with noticing things. It's really a bit of a problem. I often wish I could go through life with blinders on because noticing things often leaves me to puzzle over strange happenings that most people think I'm weird for having seen. One place of constant amazement for me is the bathroom at work. See, you already think I'm weird because the bathroom is one of the places where people try as hard as possible not to notice anything. (The other being the back corner of a gay bar.) But I can't help it, I'm cursed.

The bathroom at work has provided a few head scratching moments this year. Once I saw a guy at the urinal with his pants pulled all the way down like a kid who's just recently been potty trained. Another time I saw a guy wash his hands before he peed but not after. Often I find toilet paper laid on the toilet seat as if someone just doesn't trust the thin paper covers provided for y'know, covering the toilet seat. But all of these pale in comparison to what I witnessed a little while back. I'm sure you've all seen the people who wash their hands and then use paper towels to work the doors when they exit. Well the guy in this story takes it to a whole other level.

As I was exiting one of the stalls there was a guy exiting the adjoining stall. The paper towel dispenser in this bathroom is the kind where you pull the little handle to dispense towels that come out in a long sheet until you tear it off. I witnessed the following sequence:

1. Exit stall head directly to paper towel dispenser.

2. Dispense approx four feet of paper towels.

3. Use some towels to turn on sink.

4. Wash hands

5. Use some towels to turn off sink

6. Use remaining towels to work the handle on the paper towel dispenser to dispense more paper towels

7. Use some of the new towels to dry hands

8. Use half of the remaining towels to open inner door to bathroom

9. Throw door handle towels on the floor

10. Use remaining towels to open outer door to bathroom

11. Throw door handle towels on the floor

12. Exit

Now lets set aside the ecological implications of this behavior and focus on the really absurd part. Refer to step 6. That's right he used paper towels to work the handle of the paper towel dispenser he had just contaminated! He's thrown off the entire "using paper towels to protect yourself" system! If there is one thing in that whole bathroom that should be relatively germ free it should be the handle of the paper towel dispenser. After all by any reasonable standard the only people using it are people who have just washed their hands. But now this guy comes along and cocks it all up for everyone. WTF guy?

NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!
Now here's the rant: ALL YOU TOWEL PEOPLE ARE MORONS!!! Do you really think you're protecting yourselves from the non-hand washers? Even if we accept that the towels are protecting you do you really believe that all the germs got off the other guy's hand at the first two stops? The door to your office suite is only fifteen feet from the bathroom, do you really believe that the germs didn't make it that far? Seriously, if you think the door to the bathroom is so gross why do not believe that every surface in every public place isn't equally gross?

Let me ask you something. How often do you wash your belt? Now, based on that how often do you think everyone else washes their belts? And what's the first thing you touch when you're done in that stall? Well, the top of your pants, but the second thing is your belt. Follow me here. All these people you're worried about AND all of the people who obsessively wash their hands and create little paper towel gloves are all walking around with these grodie belts smack dab in the middle of their bodies. And the germs on these belts are slowly creeping up their shirts and down their pants and any time they adjust the waist of these pants they are getting germs on their hands. And then they are touching things with these hands. Touching things all around them including you and the things you touch.

Think I'm done? WRONG! Now imagine the dirtiest most disgusting surface in our shared and common world. A city sidewalk. These people with their dirty belts are also walking around on the dirty sidewalks where people spit and pee and drop (for some reason) condoms. And their shoes, their yucky disgusting shoes, are touching the cuffs of their pants. And these germs are slowly migrating up from the cuffs to rendezvous with the belt buckle germs that are migrating down. These germs then meet up right around the knees. And where do people often rest their hands when they sit down? On. Their. Knees. That's right! Knees are the enemy! People are walking around all day with their vile cesspool knees touching things and shaking your hand. YOU'RE DOOMED!!!!

Which is exactly my point. If you follow all this germophobia to a logical end you realize there's nothing you can do. The world is a dirty place. The best thing you can do is build up some immunities. Get sick people! It's good for you. If you continue to over Purell your world you will a) help create super germs that will kill us all or b) die from a common cold.

So let your babies eat off the floor. Go ahead and share a beer with a hobo. Live life! And maybe save some trees while your at it.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Vick (Or Why You Should Never Debate Sir Rantalot Unless You Have Something Real to Say)

The following is an excerpt from a discussion I had regarding Michael Vick. I wasn't planning to do a Vick post but I think this excerpt sums up the two of the three different stances on Vick (the third being that he should be banned for life) rather well. I've truncated the names of the other participants since the goal here isn't to trash any identifiable individuals. This is an edited version, at a certain point two of us (me being one) said some things I don't think we're proud of which were removed by the moderator before I could do the repost.

Roberto Santiago: I'm fine with Goodell's decision regarding Vick. I'd have been fine if Goodel had not handed down any suspension at all. The thing is, Vick wasn't going to be anybody's starter this year anyway so the 6 game suspension really doesn't do anything.

Vick served his time. Now the judgement comes from the owners. If no one wants to deal with the headaches of having him on the team (media attention, fan reaction, QB controversy etc) then he won't get work this year. If I owned a team I might take a chance on him.

As for people calling out Rookie Ben, there was no criminal complaint so there's no investigation. It comes down to finger pointing. She files a law suit a year after it happened after not telling anyone about it? Yeah, sounds like someone's hoping for some hush money.

EA: With regards to Vick, he did his time and it should be done with. Roger Goodell has gotten power-drunk, and full of himself. No one man should have that amount of power in ANY organization. He is the same one whose punishment for a whole team (NE) and a Coach was tantamont to a peck on the wrist, but when it comes to the players he so Mr. Don't-take-mess.

A lot of folks will again like to bypass the fact that there are racial-undertones to these things. Forget about the fact that Roethlisberger's incident was a civil-suit. Imagine that civil-suit was against T.O, Randy Moss, or some other black athlete. Do we honestly thing that the reaction to it woulda been this mellow so far? T.O expressed his view which I think was right, and he is entitled to it. Goodell has basically told a grown man how he should run his life to please HIM before he decides to fully reinstate the man - nonesense. Take a look at the details of this suspension.

Roberto Santiago: TO and Moss have been in trouble with the league (and for Moss the law) many times in the past. Big Ben has not. If TO had Ben's rep then no, I don't think he'd be in trouble for what Ben's involved in.

" Goodell has basically told a grown man how he should ruhis life to please HIM . "

-Not to please HIM, to please the league as a whole, the owners, and the sponsors. If Vick was such a grown man who didn't need any guidance he wouldn't be involved in a multi-year criminal conspiracy. Again, it's not like Vick was going to come back as anyone's starter so the added suspension really is just for show.

Anyone remember this?

"Regardless of the verdict of juries, no player who throws a ball game, no player who undertakes or promises to throw a ball game, no player who sits in confidence with a bunch of crooked ballplayers and gamblers, where the ways and means of throwing a game are discussed and does not promptly tell his club about it, will ever play professional baseball."

Now that's a strong arm commissioner.

EA: It is not to please the league. There are owners as well as players that wanted Vick back with the team, so you saying the actions is the please the league is totally baseless. Vick has been suspended without pay since it was ascertained that he was involved. He has been rediculed, lost playing-time and lost millions of dollars. What else type of punishment should he endure? Before this dog-fighting case, please name the other problem that Vick pose - please name it. Since the reason Ben case gets little or no attention is because of first-time offense, please name Vick's first offense other than this. This suspension is not to satisfy any owners of the league. Any owner that needs a QB of Vick's talent will not hesitate a lick to take him. Satisfy the sponsors? What is that? 5 more games will satisfy them? Did any sponsor say that's what they were looking for?

Not to belittle the offense, but he killed a dog, there people in this society still enjoy their presitge eventhough they killed people, some of them (like some of the Presidents of this country) killed thousands of people. Oh please on the strong-arm commision - my foot. He is only strong when it comes to dealing with players. He's nothing but a kiss-up-kick-down punk.


Roberto Santiago: "There are owners as well as players that wanted Vick back with the team, so you saying the actions is the please the league is totally baseless."

The league is not the players. The league is the owners. As for "baseless" Vick remains unsigned at at least 11 teams have publicly said they don't want him. So where are these owners who want him back?

As for his previous offenses:

In early 2004, two men were arrested in Virginia for distributing marijuana. The truck they were driving was registered to Michael Vick.

In March 2005, Sonya Elliott filed a civil lawsuit against Vick alleging she contracted genital herpes from him in the autumn of 2002, and that he failed to inform her that he had the disease.

November 26, 2006 – After a Falcons loss to the New Orleans Saints in the Georgia Dome, in apparent reaction to fans booing, Vick made an obscene gesture at fans, holding up two middle fingers. He was fined $10,000 by the NFL and agreed to donate another $10,000 to charity.

He is only strong when it comes to dealing with players." -That's his job.

EA: No team wanna pick him up and pay him, while knowing he might miss 5 games. Especially, when everything depends ONLY on what the commisioner feels. His job is to be tough with players only? I thought you said he was the commissioner of the League, which in your words mean the owners? When he wants to please the League then the definition covers owners. But if he wants to get tough, the definition covers only players? Are you serious about this? He is the commissioner of the League, which I would thing includes all those under the sphere of the NFL, which includes players, owners, teams, etc.

Now on to your offenses: 1. Someone driving Vick's car, not Vick, and Vick is not in the car, but he is at fault?

2. His private sex-life, mind you his medical history which is covered by HIPAA, was violated and you call that a violation against the League?

Where do you come from with these arguments, dude? And by the way, the difference here which points again to biases, is the fact that this revelation was something sort after by espn journalists.Roethlisberger's incident fell in their lap and they did everything to conceal it. The bias even made CNN.

3. The incident on the field was a League violation, but then we must also include Roethlisberger's violation of the league's personal injury clause when he rode a bike without a helmet. I still see the bias, but I understand that you cannot. My central point surround the punk, Roger Goodell, who is full of himself. Prior to him, such incidents were reviewed by a panel of NFL officials. When he took over, he placed the decision solely in his hands alone. To me that's someone who is drunk with power, and it turnsd out he's bias. Vick did his time and he paid for it more than a 1000 dogs worth. He deserves his chance to redeem himself. Goodell is no God. I am so hoping that his skeletons will come out pretty soon. Trust me it will, he loves attention.

Roberto Santiago: "No team wanna pick him up and pay him, while knowing he might miss 5 games"

-Why not? He's out of shape and wasn't that good a QB to begin with. It's not like he was going to play anyway.

"His job is to be tough with players only? I thought you said he was the commissioner of the League, which in your words mean the owners?"

-You know that he works for the owners right? They hire the commissioner. They hire him to deal with the NFLPA. And what is he supposed to get tough with the owners about? Was Zygi Wilf on a sex cruise? Was Arthur Blank out at the Gold Club making it rain?

"Vick is not in the car, but he is at fault? "

-The league frowns upon it. They always have and that's who he's dealing with.

"His private sex-life, mind you his medical history which is covered by HIPAA, was violated"

-It was not violated. Knowingly giving someone an incurable STD can be a criminal offense. In this case it was a civil complaint and you're misapplying HIPAA. Again it shows a lack of judgment and the league frowns upon it.

Know this, if Ben gets in trouble again they will point back to this civil case and call it a pattern.

FSW: Have to admit Arthur making it rain is somewhat amusing, but Goddell aside, is Vick mentally ready to take on the role of QB right now?

Roberto Santiago: I doubt he's mentally ready and he's certainly not physically ready.

And Vick can't help the Vikings. All he can do is cause more problems for Tavaris Jackson. I've heard mention of him going to the Pats. That could work.

He'd be a threat on third down or in the Wild Cat and an insurance policy on Brady.

The Steelers also have a good history of creative use of athletic backup QBs.

EA: Roberto, I'm seeing the source of your argument and it has no objective basis. So you don't think highly of Vick, cool. It does not mean that it is okay for him to be treated unfairly. All your arguments posits that you do agree that bias is there, and that is what I am saying as well. We differ in the fact that you think that the bias is okay, and I do not think it is okay.

Andy Reid's sons did worst then Vick's friends in that car, and the league did not frown on it as you claim they always frown on things like that. The league in fact supported him. The case with Ben is a civil case as well, and it is criminal if he raped the girl. You are pointing out Mike's incident as if he was convicted, he was not. This is another place in which YOUR bias is apparent. Alas though, you agree with me that he is a kiss-up-kick-down commissioner. He's no tough commissioner.

JFM: I think Godell and the owners are more afraid of bad publicity and what that might do to their bottom line than to do what's right. Vick did his time. He should be able to play with whomever will have him. And if he screws up again.. then kick him the hell out.

Roberto Santiago: "I think Godell and the owners are more afraid of bad publicity and what that might do to their bottom line than to do what's right."

That is what's right. Vick doesn't have a right to play football. If the people who run the game don't want him around then he won't find work. People aren't falling over to sign Marvin Harrison either and he hasn't even been formally charged yet.

If no one wants to hire him to play in the NFL that's their business. Literally, it is their business they run it, they hire and fire. Of course they watch the bottom line, it's not job corps it's a business. No one owes Mike Vick anything.

Roberto Santiago: EA, you're myopic.

If you actually read what I wrote instead of looking for some one to jump you'd see that I said:

-I would have been fine if the commissioner hadn't done anything to Vick

-I would probably sign him if I owned a team.

-He would be good for the Pats or Steelers

Society didn't take anything from Vick. He's a convicted felon. He did this to himself. He chose to be involved in a criminal conspiracy. Society and the NFL don't owe him anything.

Andy Reid's sons are not league employees and Andy Reid was not involved in their crimes. Why punish Reid for his kids? Vick wasn't punished for what his friends did with his car but it shows a pattern.

Big Ben's thing isn't criminal because there's no evidence. She waited a year to file a civil suit. Just like with Vick's accuser in '05. There will be no criminal charge.

"Yo are pointing out Mike's incident as if he was convicted, he was not."

-Do you mean dog fighting? He went to Levenworth. He was convicted.

The fact is felons have a hard time getting back to work in high profile jobs. Mike Vick is being treated just like anyone else.

Oh, as for the "soft" stance towards coaches and owners remember "Spygate?"

"On September 13, for the "use of equipment to videotape an opposing team's offensive or defensive signals,"Belichick was officially fined $500,000 — the largest fine ever imposed on a coach in the league's then-87-year history, and the maximum permitted under league rules. The Patriots were also fined $250,000, and stripped of their first-round selection in the 2008 NFL Draft." -Wikipedia

500K is no joke. A 1st round pick is no joke.

Hey look, more action against coaches:

"On August 31, 2007, Goodell suspended Dallas Cowboys quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson for five games and fined him US$100,000, and suspended New England Patriots safety Rodney Harrison four games without pay, after they admitted the use of banned substances for medical purposes and to accelerate healing, ... Read Morerespectively. The league indicated to Wilson that his more severe penalty was because they held "people in authority in higher regard than people on the field." -Wikipedia

So now that we've put the "soft on owners and coaches" issue to bed I think we can dismiss the "no objective basis" comment.

In fact I may be the only person to post here who has brought actual facts, research, and a working knowledge of both the law and the league to the table. This would make me the sole presenter of objective fact so far today.

EA: Roberto it is good you know about myopia, because that actually applies to you. You argument has been spurious and nothing more. Your facts you brought to the case end up being circular and has no substance whatever to the argument. Remember, you jumped me, not the other way around and I'm okay with that. Oh I actually read what you wrote and found it to still lack an objective basis. Your comment that you would have been fine if Goodell had not handed down anything came on the heels of you stating that you are fine with Goodells FLAWED decision. So that mention is neglible to me and shows nothing about your objectivity. Your other points about Vick going to the Pats or Steelers also shows nothing about your objectivity in our (u & I) discussion because first it is certainly not YOUR insight, and it was in response to Fabunde or another person's comments.

JFM: Roberto, there's nothing objective about Vick's situation. Facts and the law aren't entering into it. It's public perception that's ruling Godell's decision. The NFL doesn't want Peta protesting at every game. I'm a little surprised that the Players Union are being such wusses. You would think they would be filing a grievance on his behalf.

Roberto Santiago: JFM,

You're right facts and law don't enter into it because this is not court. It is based on fear of protest, public perception, etc because it is a consumer driven business. If you want to keep making tons of money don't piss people off. If you look at any convicted felon you'll find that they have a hard time getting work. No one owes Vick job.

Guess what, he's probably not allowed to vote any more either. He can't leave the country. He can't travel out of state without permission from his PO. He can't own a firearm. he can't run for public office. He's a felon. Along with everything that entails.

EA: 1.You find that it is okay to hold Mike Vick accountable for his friends that are not in the NFL. Probably because they used his property. Andy Reid's sons also used his property to commit crimes, not once but twice, even after they were awaiting trial for a previous. We can do without this kind of "objectivity".

2. You agree that Vick's STD case was as similar as Ben's current case, yet you still absurdly hold it against him while looking at Ben's as mere nothing. Well, the girl in Vick's case also never filed a suit till she and Vick were through with the relationship

Roberto Santiago: EA, you're using a lot of big words but you still haven't put together a cohesive point. It is one thing to say my facts are circular, but you have yet to explain how that is or back it up with anything at all. You have yet to actually base any of your comments on anything. I'm all substance, you are a few syntactically odd collections of superfluous vocabulary.

As for who my comments are to, they are to everyone. This isn't a me-you discussion this is an open group discussion.

Finally I didn't jump you. I countered your points with my points.

EA: "Yo are pointing out Mike's incident as if he was convicted, he was not." Regarding this comment, do not try to be smart, cuz so far I haven't found you as that. You know I was refering to Vick's STD case and not the Dog-fighting case. $250,000 and a 1st round draft pick, of which they had two, is a severe punishment for a team? Who the hell is your weedman? He must be good. Cuz only someone with an impaired mind will see that as severe. Oh I forgot it is not weed, you do have myopia. $500,000 thousand for a coach that makes approxy $5mil+ a year is severe? He lost not one week of coaching, and still got to be coach of the year. Are you kidding someone?

Let us be frank bro, there is absolutely no insight and objectivity in the facts you brought up. My responses to you have been quick off the doom, while you have scoured around to pick up news clippings. The funny thing about it is that they are not supporting your points - that is if you are claiming that there is no bias.

Roberto Santiago: EA, you're not really processing my comments.

1. Again, Vick is showing a pattern. Andy Reid had some bad luck with his kids. I just re-read some of the articles about the Reid kids, nothing indicates it was Andy Reid's cars.

2. What I said is Vick has shown a pattern and Ben has not. IF Ben gets in trouble again they will look back to his current situation and say "There's a pattern." Ben had better watch his step in the future.

EA: I have countered the substance of all your clippings without having to scour the web. That you name the dates does not mean there is any substance to your argument, it just meant that you found a clipping from somewhere. Quite often, lemmings like you that have not point, tend to inject ad hominem in these arguments and I usually try to guide your type back to the substance of the argument. In this case, I won't. You give your appraisal of me, well here is my appraisal of you. You are one of two kinds of lemmings. More than likely, you are the kind of lemming that probably grew up impoverished, but with some luck and mediocre work, you find yourself fortunate now. So all of a sudden, the world is level to you - because you got lucky. Or you are the kind of lemming. You grew up priviledge and have had daddy's spoon in your mouth the whole damn time, and lack real-life experiences. Either way, your insights protray lack of objectivity and lack of intellect.

Roberto Santiago: "My responses to you have been quick off the doom"

-Indeed. and that's my point. You bring nothing except what's in your tiny malformed little brain. You haven't backed up anything, you have no understanding of business, sports leagues, or reading for content.

That I bring up facts at all is the only measure of objectivity. You've brought up nothing. You've got nothing. You said Goodell never punished any coaches or owners and I gave you several examples. Now all you can say is they're not good enough? And you're obsessed with Andy Reid because you know my other arguments are rock solid.

The fact is you've presented nothing. It's easy to tear someone down when you've been not only wrong, but ignorant on top of that. Coming "quick off the doom" isn't something to be proud of.

EA: Go back my friend and look at your arguments, you have used the big words that lack any meaning. I stated there were biases in the system and that Goodell's power is unchecked. You have yet to counter my points that there are biases in the system, or that Goodell's power is not unchecked. You go and pick up news clippings that only highlight the same biases that I'm talking about. And no, stop being a liar, you countered every patterned I mentioned regarding Ben. You can't counter all the patterns, and then try to claim that you still accept them. They work for someone that is unable to see the nothingness of your arguments, but not me. Also, while the overall discussion is with everyone, clearly you and I are having a separate discussion. Probably you may need to read clippings again to orient yourself. Also, there are responses from you that were to my points, and responses to the points of others. I focus on your responses that are to my points so I can respond to you.

Roberto Santiago: Let's break it down "off the doom"

"An ad hominem argument, also known as argumentum ad hominem (Latin: "argument to the man", "argument against the man") consists of replying to an argument or factual claim by attacking or appealing to a characteristic or belief of the person making the argument or claim,"

-I've brought a ton of facts to the table. You've brought nothing but attacks on me and misinterpretations of nearly everything else. (BTW the league doesn't have a "personal injury policy" some acts are forbidden in individual player contracts negotiated with individual teams, not the league)

"rather than by addressing the substance of the argument or producing evidence against the claim."

-Bring some facts son!

Dude, What does this even mean?

"And no, stop being a liar, you countered every patterned I mentioned regarding Ben. You can't counter all the patterns, and then try to claim that you still accept them"

Try again, in English this time.

But you're not focusing on my points, you're focusing on me. You think you're clever hurling insults but all it does is reinforce the fact that you haven't got a leg to stand on.

Here's the thing. You can disagree with Goodell's decision. That's fine. I can not care either way (which was my original point). But the bottom line is that no one owes Vick anything. He does not have a right to play football.

omething Fabunde touched on but no one else has mentioned:

Can Vick actually help a team win right now?

Conventional wisdom seems to say "no." He hasin't played or been in a real conditioning program for 2 years. You don't just roll out of bed and play in the NFL. He's got to gethis timing down, learn a new system that will not be tailored to him like the falcons offense was and get used to being hit again.

Remember, Jamal Lewis went to jail for 2 months and had a bad year coming back.

Also we're talking about a guy who has never had a season in which he completed 60% of his passes, thrown for 3,000 yards and has had only one year with a QB rating above 78. The fact is he wasn't a great passer to begin with and now he's rusty. It's entirely possible that the suspension will help him by not having any pressure to come in and start right away.

After this the conversation petered out. I think the point here is that if you're the type of person who is proud of the fact that your opinion is completely un-researched and based solely on what you have rattling around in your "doom" you probably shouldn't get into too many debates.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

I Also Got A lot of Jerseys



I'd say I probably have 60 jerseys. About a fourth of them are for teams I played on. Another fourth are for reffing. The rest are from various sports teams. That said, I only have one jersey for which I support neither the team nor the player.

My RBI single off of Spaceman Lee
I am lucky in that once my jersey collecting actually became a professional asset. I was interpreting for a Deaf participant at the Red Sox fantasy camp in Ft. Meyers, Florida. The Sox didn't provide a uniform for me (I should have negotiated one in my contract) but I was on the field with my client eight hours a day. Luckily I was able to cull several full uniforms from my collection which lasted me until the camp staff finally hooked me up with some Sox gear.

2007 AL All Star jersey

Santurce Jersey Front w/Jim Corsi
Santurce Cangrejeros away jersey

Puerto Rico World Baseball Classic jersey

But the fact is, I got nothing on this guy: