Saturday, July 30, 2005

Liberal Hot Bed: Castro Valley, CA?

CV High alum Rachel Maddow
Originally uploaded by wonderbread74.
If you happen to catch MSNBC's new show, The Situation with Tucker Carlson, you may recognize a former Castro Valley High Trojan tussling with the bow-tie wearing host.

Rachel Maddow, who graduated from the alma mater in 1991--coincidentally with the famous Jay Tray--upholds the dignity of the left on that show and hosts her own talk radio program, The Rachel Maddow Show on the liberal AirAmerica network. Listen to her locally on KQKE "The Quake" 960 AM from 2 am to 5am.

Who would have guessed that the cozy confines of the Castro Village and the Ice Creamery could produce such enlightened liberal voices who also love women?

I actually don't remember her vividly, but I remember the name and the fact she was named a Rhodes Scholar back in 1994. Our friend, Beaner, also said she was lesbian. Guess what? She was right!

(Note: I heard she was Jay Tray's date to the Senior Ball. This was probalby when the conversion really took hold. Zing! Even lesbians love the long ball and when Jay Tray hit it deep I was standing at the fence and famously snagged the homer. Zing again!)

Friday, July 29, 2005

Sen. Frist, M.D. Forces W's Hand

Senate leader Bill Frist
Originally uploaded by wonderbread74.
Did Crisis Of Conscience Overcome Senate Leader?

He may have frittered away any possibility of winning the Republican presidential nomination in 2008, after breaking away from President Bush's policy limiting federal funding of stem cell research.

Did the good doctor's reservations for backing Bush's shortsighted policy, despite a background in medicine, finally come out or is this the beginning of a policy shift in time for the 2006 midterm elections?

Republicans, despite their protestations, are beginning to watch the polls. Is it a coincidence that, this week, Defense Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld intimated that the troops in Iraq might decrease greatly by next year. Now, the equally unpopular stance on stem cell research is having a second look, too?

The utter intolerance of stem cell research by the Bush administration clearly illustrates a conversative party beholden to rightwing Christian nuts. The rigidity of the right has forced the administration to link abortion with stem cells because a embryo is destroyed to harvest the cells.

The argument of abortion, as hatched by the Republicans, has a stigma of guilt attached to women of so-called immorality.

The stem cell argument is completely different because the Democrats framed it before the Republicans did. With the presence of the Parkinson's-affilicted Michael J. Fox and the imagery of dear old grandparents suffering from Alzheimer's; the debate has been justly won by the left.

Now, Senator Frist, M.D. has forced the president's hand. Will the president veto the bill as he has said before? Wanna bet that Frist doesn't put the bill up for a vote until next year?

San Leandro Cop Killed Around The Corner

Cop-killer Irving Ramirez
Originally uploaded by wonderbread74.
Last Monday afternoon, four hispanic painters were applying brown paint to the trim around the windows and sliding doors of an upstairs balcony on Doolittle Road. Later that night these would be the catbird seats to the slaying of San Leandro police officer, Dan Niemi.

The papers describe the location as the 14700 block of Doolittle Road. Specifically, the corner of Belvedere and Doolittle--is a dead end to the long roadway that extends all the way to Oakland and to the life of the first San Leandro policeman killed in nearly 40 years.

The slaying of Officer Niemi occured just around the corner in my Marina Faire neighborhood. In an otherwise, quiet and unexciting area, the idea that such a cold, brutal murderer like the 23-year-old Salvadoran national, Irving Ramirez, could merely be in the vicinity calls into question a vulnerability and powerlessness so strong that it probably illicits the same trepidation that the citizens of London, Madrid and New York feel from past terrorist attacks.

As most liberal bloggers would submit, the death penalty disportionately punishes the poor and lowers the state to the same barbaric level as the killer, but how can we excuse such a heinous crime as the one seen last Monday?

The alleged killer, Ramirez, whom the local media continues to attach his street nickname--Gotti--a clear reference to organized crime boss, John Gotti, and evokes some sort of murderous professional boxer entering the ring, fearing the officer would discover the two handguns and drugs in the vehicle, shot Niemi in the torso. While maimed the officer scrambled for his gun until Ramirez, reportedly stood over the officer and shot him six times, execution-style.

I've driven past the memorial contained within the center of the roundabout bordered in rubber. Bouquets of flowers decorate the otherwise nondescript street sign. Some lie on the ground while others are propped up with white metal stand. Someone added an American flag yesterday that waves over a sign that reads: We'll never forget.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Bobby And I Down By The Bullpen

I went to the A's game this afternoon with Bobby. It's been years since the two of us attended a ballgame. You see, Bobby and I have a pedigree when it comes to major sporting events rarely seen.

We had partial season tickets together from 1987 to 1991; from the ages of 12 to 16. In that span we witnessed an All-Star Game in Oakland, American League Championship series games from 1988 to 1990, and five World Series games and the greatest day of my life. The day when Tony Phillips tossed the ball to Dennis Eckersley to win the 1989 World Series against the hated Giants. We were definitely spoiled by our parents and by such dominant baseball in those years.

We were able to have season tickets because of our age, tickets were discounted. My parents would pick Bobby up and drop us off at the Coliseum Bart station. We'd walk across the ramp to the stadium and call for a ride when the game was over.

In between seeing my parents, Bobby and I witnessed something our kids will probably never see; a team in Oakland that swaggered all over the world of baseball. Every player wanted to the be a part of the A's success and and the top talent could be easily afforded for a strong late season run. While the economically of baseball have changed so dramatically that even fairly worn and beaten team like the Yankees still have a chance because they have all the green and gold, the A's, though showed today by coming frrom behind to win versus Cleveland, that they still wear those colors with the same dignity of the team's Bobby and I rooted for back in the 80's.

It was as if the essence of Dave Henderson floated upon Bobby Kielty when he smacked a clutch single to right. Like the ghost of Rick Honeycutt slightly turned the angle of Huston Street's arm for the best break to strikeout Jhonny Peralta. And I had to squint at the scoreboard to see if it wasn't Mike Gallego who was wearing the number of Marco Scutaro when he launched David Riske's two-strike pitch to left to win it for the A's in ten.

What I learned is that you can't love only the youthful players on the field today, but also remember of those from the past. You must oddly cherish the heartache when they achieved little because when glory finally is realized it's power will become exctasy and legend for the rest of your life.

Time For A Change: A's Redesign Concepts

The A's haven't redesigned their uniforms since 1987. Maybe it's time for a change? Some graphic artists at SportsLogo.Net came up with these concepts. While they are not much of a departure from their current unis, the addition of forest green sleeves is a trendy and needed addition.

A's home concept uni

A's road concept uni

The third or alternate yellow jersey is the most compelling. The addition of yellow to the team's on-field look would be both welcomed and unique to others teams. As a nod to the past, instead of white pants, yellow pants with the yellow top would echo the days of Reggie Jackson and the Mustache Gang in the early 70s.
A's alt concept uni

Monday, July 25, 2005

LFR Handicaps The Final Two Months

Oakland & Houston To Win Wildcard

Today, USA Today began publishing wildcard standings with their daily baseball coverage. With that, it's time to focus on who are the contenders and pretenders going into the final two months. It's a safe bet that the five division leaders (Boston, ChiSox, Anaheim, San Diego, St. Louis) along with Atlanta, who are currently tied with Washington, will advance. Here's what to look for in the wild card races:

American League
Contender: New York, Oakland
Pretender: Minnesota, Baltimore, Cleveland, Toronto, Detroit

The A's may have gained the advantage over the Yankees this past week by blowing past Texas. Ironically, this may be Oakland's best chance over the mighty Yanks. For the first time in the Beane era, the A's have a uniquely delineated rotation and bullpen. Everyone especially in the bullpen have performed solidly and possess something never before seen in Oakland--hard-throwing relievers with strikeout stuff (Street, Calero, Witasick).

New York is still a sleeping giant because of all the dough lying around Yankee Stadium, but these Yanks are vastly different than other versions. They're decidely showing their age, they lack tradable resources and management seems to be filling its many holes willy-nilly without a plan. Adding pitchers Al Leiter, Tim Redding and Darrell May, only to demote the last two after failing in their initial try.

Many like Minnesota in the wildcard and they currently lead with Oakland, but the lack of offense in the Twin Cities is alarming. Touted power hitters like Michael Cuddyer and Justin Morneau have combined for only 17 homers while the entire team has struggled average-wise. They're a possibility if Shannon Stewart and Torii Hunter begin hitting like Joe Mauer, but not likely.

Baltimore is not ready for primetime and should run out of gas in the next month. The Orioles are similar to the 1999 A's who fell just short of the playoffs in the final week of the season, only to use the experience to contend for the next four years. Erik Bedard is going to be dominant and any offense led by Miguel Tejada will be inspired.

Cleveland, Detroit, and Toronto, however, are teams with talented prospects playing well but lack any impetus to step up to the elite teams. The Tribe and Jays are seemingly a collection of young and talented prospects without any support or on-field direction. The Tigers are harder to figure out. Either this year or next, pitcher Jeremy Bonderman is going to win 20 games and when you couple that with veterans like Pudge Rodriguez and Magglio Ordonez, suddenly you have young talent with a pedigree.

National League
Contenders: Houston, Chicago Cubs, Florida.
Pretenders: Philadelphia, Washington New York Mets.

The N.L. is far more wide open than the A.L., but, like Oakland, Houston is following the same template. It's usually wise to take the baseball team playing inspired ball like the Astros. Despite missing Jeff Bagwell, the 'Stros have discovered a leadoff man in WIly Taveras and still have the starting staff. Houston is lock because of their two aces and a half--Roy Oswalt, Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte.

The Cubs and Marlins are two similar teams with gutsy starters and postseason experience. The Cubs are currently hot, but the Marlins continue to flounder around .500. For Chicago, baseball's newest jinx capital, something will go wrong with the fragile Kerry Woods and Mark Prior. Florida is an enigma. Their season may be written on whether a spectacular addition is made this week.

Philly, Washington, and New York have either shown brief glimpses of fine play, feeding off a brief honeymoon period in a new city or a team with the benefit of playing in a mediocre league.

During tonight's Monday Night Baseball telecast, ESPN's Rick Sutcliffe offered support for Major League Baseball reducing Kenny Rogers' 20-game suspension because it disportionately hurt the Rangers more than the offender.

The question is, then, isn't Rogers part of the team? Shouldn't his on-field behavior reflect on the team's performance?

For Rangers fans, this just illustrates that this team wasn't as solid as many people thought. Is it a coincidence that the Rangers tanked seven of eight to the A's the past week, including a four-game weekend sweep in Arlington?

The team's fortunes were obviously banking on a 40-year-old All-Star with dubious leadership credentials. Now, Rogers has squandered, possibly his next four starts during the dog days of August because he's afraid of cameras.

Mychal Urban, the A's beat writer for told that he believes newly acquired Joe Kennedy will be traded along with, possibly, Keith Ginter and some top prospects for either the Reds Adam Dunn or Austin Kearns.

He see Kennedy as nothing more than Mark Redman with blonde hair.

Such a deal would instantly ignite debate over the liklihood of not just the wildcard spot but the A.L. West.

GOP Ruse Over Working Man Is Eroding Unions

The Teamster and the Service Employees International Union are apparently bowing out of the nation's largest union--the AFL-CIO.

The reason for the withdrawal of 1.8 million union members is ironically due to a precipitous drop in membership over the past three decades. How a split in the AFL-CIO will become conducive to a stronger labor movement is not known. What this is; is this is another victory for the Republican ruse over the working man.

Conservatives bubble over with glee when talking about labor's love affair with the right. Their concern is oozing with glibnesss, though. The truth is that the Republicans have been so successful in winning over the working man and farmers, not by giving them a concrete message to win them over, but by muddling the message. The GOP knows that elections cannot and will not be won by any exercise of rational reasoning. Instead, the "3 G's" are liberally slathered all over the Great Plains and the Bible Belt. Screaming GUNS, GAYS, and GOD! reverses any logically thinking and allows for the voters to, as Thomas Frank called in his book, What's the Matter with Kansas?--"vote against one's economic self-interest."

What's this how to do with the dwindling labor roles?

The disconnect between labor's economic well-being and their election day votes is the problem with labor unions. Couple that with the illogical argument many spout and mimic from conservative leaders that the union's merely take their dues and funnel it to leftwing causes. Well, the leftwing cause IS the worker's cause!

During the 2004 Presidential election, Bush vowed not to subsidize corn used to make ethanol while in Iowa, one of the nation's largest producer of corn and he still won the state.

As the AFL-CIO president, Jim Sweeney said:
At a time when our corporate and conservative adversaries have created the most powerful anti-worker political machine in the history of our country, a divided movement hurts the hopes of working families for a better life.

The Republicans friendliness to labor is akin to a friend serving you filet mignon and lobster laced with arsenic. Working man Republicans fashion this faux, barely alpha male bravado around the GOP's homoerotic love of guns and anti-gay rhetoric while their jobs increasingly offer fewer or non-existent benefits, lower wages in return for longer hours and few opportunities for overtime. Go figure?

The number of workers with union cards will only increase when the electorate comes to the realization that the good friends in Washington are actually enemies to their quality of life.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

The Lessons of Three Years Ago

Suzie and Sean
Originally uploaded by wonderbread74.
Babies have been born. Grandparents befallen by illness, marriage proposals and others who have moved away. In the course of three years much has occurred in our lives. Today we mark the third anniversary of Suzie's passing with a hopeful tomorrow.

A day, three years ago, so filled with deep sorrow and surrender has led to a gleaming vision of what our family can become. The lessons of Suzie's death are apparent everytime a family member greets one another with a kiss on the cheek or a hearty embrace. It's evident with every dispute that enters the stage of namecalling and ends with a wry wink and nod.

Not only have we acquired a happy medium in our relations with each other, but we have taken the knowledge of a strong family and begun to forge mechanisms that will be passed on to our children and ultimately form a legacy that thrives for generations.

Suzie made us realize that, our family, which is composed of so many strong, opinionated, creative people, has yet to gain a foothold in this country and all its opportunity. She forced us to rethink our foot-dragging ways that wasted valuable time and talent. We've learned that life can end at any moment.

She never returned to Disneyland. Never traveled through Europe. Never tasted Vanilla Coke. Never walked her sons to school. Never saw her brother get married. Never watch "Desperate Housewives". Never ran up a huge cellphone bill by taking too many pictures. Never had the opportunity to buy a new house and never fell deeply in love.

We've learned much and acted upon her lessons to us.

My cousin Milton never owned his own business--today, he does.
My cousin Erica always dreamed of having a baby--in a few months, she will.
My Uncle Richard never had children--today, he has two in diapers.
I've dreamt for years of a day when I'd ask Marianne to marry me--two weeks ago, I did (she said yes).

While there is still much for all of us to accomplish, the strength and the focus has slowly been building in all us. Today we can remember Suzie for making us realize our faults and our potential.

I love you, sister.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Do We Have The Right Edith?

Edith Clement May Be Red Herring

Is 5th circuit appelate judge Edith Clement a red herring? I would say yes.

An examination of Robert Bork's doomed nomination in 1987 one week ago in the Washington Post would point to Clement being no more than a trial balloon.

A major point is the apparent haunting of Bork's failed nomination nearly twenty years ago.
We're not going to be caught flat-footed like we were with Bork," said a senior administration official who is not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

Edwin Meese III, a veteran of the Bork battle as Reagan's attorney general and a key adviser to the current White House on court strategy, said Bush must not let his nominee be introduced to the American public by the other side. "One of the key things is not to let the left-wingers like Teddy Kennedy identify the nominee but to get the facts out to the public right away," Meese said, referring to the Democratic senator from Massachusetts.

C. Boyden Gray, a former White House counsel who founded the Committee for Justice at the behest of the president's aides, agreed: "Conservatives didn't have anything to say. There weren't any outside groups. There was no network help to support him. That's the biggest lesson. That's why we were asked to get started."

The fact that Republicans are still seething from the Bork defeat is very important. It was one of the watershed events that altered the way the GOP handlers approach governance. Because of the Bork defeat strategist like Karl Rove have built an industrial complex of talking points and surrogates at the ready, at a moments notice, for any conservative cause.

For that reason it is unlikely that the Bush administration has offered up a preview of its nominee so early in the day so Kennedy and other liberal senators can create a great deal of negative momentum.'s Tim Grieve mentioned Bush should be cognizant of the news cycle in their blog, War Room:
Bork was branded out of the box, and the Senate ultimately rejected his nomination, 58-42. Bush doesn't want that to happen again, obviously, and naming his nominee at the end of the day may help prevent it. While Democrats can still get a few shots in before newspaper reporters run up against their deadlines tonight, they can't build up a day's worth of complaints in just a few minutes.

The possible nomination of Clement based on conservative credentials and, most importantly her pro-life beliefs, would make the Christian right nervous. This was her answer to the abortion question during her confirmation hearings for the appelate seat in 2001:
The Supreme Court has clearly held that the right to privacy guaranteed by the Constitution includes the right to have an abortion. The cases handed down by the Supreme Court on the right to abortion have reaffirmed and redefined this right, and the law is settled in that regard. If confirmed, I will faithfully apply Supreme Court precedent.

This, of course, is what you would expect from a possible jurist attempting to toe the middle ground; but any wavering from an absolute pro-life agenda makes the ultra-conservatives incredibly antsy. For those who imagine a mandate, albeit by two million votes from the last Presidential election, being anywhere from a certainty to the core belief is highly unsatisfactory.

Hadley Arkes from the National Review wonders whether Edith Clement may be a stealth nominee with no known beliefs on hot-button issues like abortion and the death penalty; much like conservative jurist Anthony Kennedy and David Souter who surprised conservatives by "evolving" on the bench towards the middle. Arkes also wonders whether we're talking about the right Edith. Edith Jones, also on the 5th circuit court, is an affirmed pro-lifer and proponent of accelerating the death penalty processs, is more prone to be a pick that Bush could, in effect, thumb his nose at any hint of compromise with Democrats and the majority of Americans beliefs.
I would vouch for [Edith] Joy Clement myself, and I would vouch for Edith Jones. But as I commend [Edith] Joy Clement, I open myself to these searching questions from friends who have suffered the lessons of experience: If we know little, really, about her philosophy or jural principles, how do know that she will not alter when she is suddenly showered with acclaim from the law schools at Harvard and Columbia? Will she not be lured as she is praised in measures ever grander, as a jurist of high rank, as she “grows” with each step ever more “moderate” and liberal? Those who commend her face the risk of joining the ranks of those who offered assurance on Kennedy and Souter, and lost forevermore their credibility.

Whoever Bush's pick is tonight, it's most likely that he nominate a women with clear conservative views on abortion and, secondly, the death penalty.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Thanks To All; One Year Anniversary Of The LFR

I began writing the Lunatic Fringe Report not so much as a hobby but as a challenge to myself to write on a daily basis. I had previously attempted two blogs of dubious distinction a few years back--"Steve's Sports Report" and "10th Avenue Freeze-Out". One was devouted to sports and the other attempts at comedy. Both were failures because the will to write was non-existent then.

One of the deals I made with myself during my exile in Oakland was to write religiously. On a Friday, after work, I sat down and wrote some comments on an article regarding John Kerry's work as an altar boy in his youth and proceeded to write two additional postings (the blog also debuted with this same template). Two hundred-two postings and over 75,000 words later I believe this blog has served its purpose and created an atmosphere in my mind where writing is foremost in importance. With that, I am announcing that I will increase my production of postings with two new blogs--a sports comedy blog in collaboration with my friend Jay Tray entitled Like Kobe on a White Chick and a fiction and long form commentary blog called Hobo John Stories.

In addition, I would like to announce that my continued education will be devouted to gaining a degree in Journalism. It's taken me many years to believe writing was a "real" job or that I was cut out for it. My stated goals are clear and precise. I wish to known in the future as a journalist and an author. I wished to be trained as a sports reporter and feature writer. The ever-changing nature of reporting is very appealing for two reason. Writing about a season is like a novel that writes itself and far more than reporting the score and what transpired. That will be the challenge that I'll happily encounter everyday.

I've gained much experience from this blog. From the start, the basic premise was to put in words the random thoughts and quips that travel through my head daily--hence the title, Lunatic Fringe Report. I wrote extensively on last year's election and falsely predicted its outcome. I fared a bit better in predicting a Atlanta-N.Y. Jets Super Bowl. Whether Barry Bonds ever suits up in a baseball uniform is yet unknown--I still say, he won't--and recently predicted a playoff berth for the A's (fingers crossed).

I wrote of numerous encounters with my former neighbor, Raider Doug Gabriel, and my curse that ended his season. There was an infamous catfight in the comments section of a few postings regarding last years softball game and a few tear-jerking essays on my Mom, Dad and sister.

I interviewed the sun and found him racist. Posted a few pictures of my cousin Anna flipping off the camera. Claimed Prozac makes kids suicidal. Watched two Raiders eat six chicken and a vat of mashed potatoes at Boston Market. Announced a run for President. Withdrew after pictures revealed my past terrorist ties. Caught heat for joking that black people should wear white masks to have their votes count in Florida and hopped on a soapbox at every chance when it came to Barry Bonds's use of steroids.

I would like to especially thank my fiction writing teacher, Steve Woodhams. I enrolled in his class because I sought to dabble in every type of writing. From Steve, I learned far more than the mechanics of fiction writing but found in those weekly sessions a sense of belonging to the art of writing. I was someone who thought I was alone but Steve began talking about the writing process; finding a quiet place and writing consistently and learning that it was completely okay not to write if you don't "feel" it that day. These were all feeling that I have felt for many years but discounted how natural they felt inside. I received an "A" in that class and formulated the idea of a story called "Hobo John" but what I learned about myself and being a writer is immeasurable.

Thanks to everyone who has supported this endeavor with every click of their mouse and I'll see you in your local newspaper soon--I mean, as an author, not the purpetrator of a crime or the victim of a car-jacking.


Thursday, July 14, 2005

Picking Ultra-Conservative Would Do Bush Well

Picking the most ultra-conservative for Sandra Day O'Connor's justice seat would be the most politically expedient move for the President.

In practical terms, picking a judicial nominee as close to Jerry Falwell as possibly would quickly shift attention away from the Karl Rove crisis while, at the same time, give Christian conservatives--Bush's most devouted followers--exactly what they crave; a vote closer to overturning Roe vs. Wade.

This equation is nothing new to the Bush administration, just a new wrinkle in the method of shifting the public's attention during heady situations to stories capable of dividing the American people. Gay marriage was the last time this principle was used in addition to every single terrorist attack around the world.

Fearless Prediction: A's Ride Bullpen Duo To October

A's reliever Huston Street
Originally uploaded by wonderbread74.
More than a month ago, the LFR was demoaning the fact that the A's were swept by the lowly Devil Rays in such a fashion that surely portended for an excruciating summer. What difference a month and some first class baseball makes.

In hindsight, the A's poor play could just be attributed to an influx of rookie pitchers merely straightening out the kinks or, most notably, the dreaded injury bug that bit so many key players like Bobby Crosby.

I'll offer this simple equation. If the rotation continues to produce at this pace or a bit under, the A's bullpen will be able to shorten games to seven innings. The A's will ride the duo of Huston Street and Justin Duchsherer to the wildcard.

Astonishingly, the A's are a better pitching staff without Mark Mulder and Tim Hudson. The two-headed monster in the bullpen will significantly reduce the stress that the other members of the bullpen will feel in addition to the notion that the A's starter need something short of a quality start and the lead to guarantee a victory most nights.

Street is lights out. His wicked stuff is evident everytime he makes quality major league hitters look baffled and Duchscherer has been sensational this first half and solid for the better part of his A's career.

In the A's recent run the past five years never before have they had such immense potential in the bullpen. Could this possibly have been the missing ingredient?

Hit The Road, Byrnsie

Eric Byrnes f@#$% up, again
Originally uploaded by wonderbread74.
The A's GM, Billy Beane, was back to improving the A's from the bargain rack by trading Eric Byrnes, Chad Bradford and a once highly-touted minor leaguer for pitchers Joe Kennedy, Jay Witasick and outfielder Jay Payton. We'll get to the trades in a moment.

Despite overwhelming support from most A's fans for Byrnes I have disliked his baseball acumen ever since the 2003 playoffs against Boston when he clearly missed touching homeplate and proceeded to play it off. Here's how ESPN's Jim Caple recounted the event that year:
Begin with the Eric Byrnes play in Game 3 of the Athletics-Red Sox series, when the Oakland rookie made Fred Merkle look like Derek Jeter. Everyone involved in the play screwed up, but none more so than Byrnes. He failed to touch home plate on a close play. But rather than go back and touch it while catcher Jason Varitek chased the throw to the backstop, he decided to limp after Varitek and deliver a petulant, blindside shove. You rarely see such a blatant display of idiocy and poor sportsmanship at one time, at least not unless Mike Tyson is involved.

And where were his Oakland teammates? Why didn't on-deck hitter Eric Chavez yell at him to touch home plate? Why didn't anyone in the dugout notice? Were they all too busy reading "Moneyball''?

Varitek, meanwhile, was alert enough to tag Byrnes but not alert to actually tag him with the ball. Replays showed that Varitek had the ball in his right hand while he swiped Byrnes with his empty glove. Home-plate umpire Paul Emmel completed the trifecta by calling Byrnes out anyway, which I guess is a good thing, because otherwise Byrnes and Varitek would still be scrapping around home plate.

Pete Rose was a simple blue-collar type player. What is Eric Byrnes then? A mininum wage type player?

Granted, Byrnes did not have Major League talent when he slowly rose through the A's system, but he is a testament to hard work and where it can lead you. He's also one of the dumbest players I've ever watched daily.

I once heard Ken Korach, the A's radio announcer, tell the perfect Byrnes story. He was so wild in college that he dived into a swimming pool without any water.

Sure, Byrnes constantly hustled on and off the field and on the basepaths, but he's mind-blowing outfield acrobatics had more to do with poor reads on flyballs and hustle than skill. He may well thrive in the thin air of Denver, but again he may wilt in a clubhouse that is far more stringent and where accountability is more pronounced than it is in Oakland.

When the Payton trade was announced this morning, everyone had a sense that the other shoe would soon drop. Either Byrnes would finally be traded or despite the new contract, Kotsay might find himself in pinstripes.

This trade may end up being a wash or a way to fill an outfield spot. Think about it. Boston traded Payton for a guy coming off the 60-day disabled list.

The Byrnes trade is far more substantial and revealing to Beane's current thoughts.

With Joe Kennedy, the A's picked up the perfect fifth starter. With a rotation of Zito, Harden, Haren, Blanton, Kennedy and Saarloos shuttling between the rotation and bullpen, the A's have a legitimate strength over the other teams vying for the playoffs.

As for Witasick, I agree with Blez from The addition of the former A's reliever gives the impression that Beane is thinking as much about '05 as he is '06.

With Huston Street, Justin Duchscherer, Kiko Calero, Ricardo Rincon, and Witasick, the A's just may boast the best bullpen they've had since the late 80s with Dennis Eckersley, Rick Honeycutt, Gene Nelson, Todd Burns and Matt Young.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Osama Rides BART

Is BART trying to aid the terrorists? The San Francisco Examiner reported Wednesday that BART is courted several giant cellphone companies to wire the most of their stations including under the transbay tube.

Does BART remember that terrorists from al-qaeda detonated the bombs in Madrid last year via cellphone or that the recent bombings in London were initially attributed to the same technique? The fear was so prevalent last week that Verizon remotely disabled wireless coverage in the subways of New York City folling the July 7th bombing in England. Verizon didn't even take that step after 9/11.

The article briefly mentions that BART officials downplayed this possibility, yet it clearly exists. Where's is the outcry when we are allowing this sort of breach in security for the sake of killing time on the train by calling your friend.

Oh, how I hate to support the Republicans and their homeland security propaganda.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Questions Galore; If Rove, Then What?

Story Reads Like An Old Fashioned Whodunit

A highly regarded journalist is behind bars, a Time magazine correspondent weaseled himself out of jail time and Robert Novak--the guy who actually wrote the inflammatory article in the first place--is sitting comfortably at home tonight.

Washington is besides itself. Who was the source of the CIA outing of Valerie Plame? How wide a net is the special prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, casting? If it's Karl Rove, then what? Will the President relieve the man who is widely regarded as the reason for Bush's two terms? So many questions. Makes a man wanted to trot out the ol' "What did he know and when did he know it" axiom.

David Paul Kuhn in reported that Karl Rove was fired by George H.W. Bush in 1992 for leaking information from an advisors meeting to none other than Robert Novak. Did Rove's connection to Novak re-open and involve outing Plame, who was then a covert CIA informant, which is a federal offense. This, of course, was viewed as retaliation for her husband, former U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Joseph Wilson's Op-Ed piece during the run-up to war in Iraq that vehemently denied the Bush's charge that Iraq attempted to buy uranium from Niger therefore squashing Bush's attempt to link Saddam Hussein to his then-core assertion that Iraq was trying to build nuclear weapons.

But what about the New York Times' Judith Miller?

Miller seems an unwitting casualty of all this. She is looking at jail time for not revealing her source to the grand jury, yet she never wrote one word on the story. Miller isn't the innocent idealist she tries to be. She has cozy relationship with the administration.

Miller was the New York Times reporter who was systematically spoon-fed propanganda from the Bush administration during the period when the president was doling out dozens of false reasons and accusations in favor of war. Miller's work was revealed to be so shoddy that the Times eventually printed an apology on page one.

The case of Time magazine's Matt Cooper is even more vague. Cooper, like Miller, faced jail time, until his source relieved him of his journalistic burden. Time subsequently handed over his notes to the grand jury. Some in Washington believe Rove's name is in those notes.

MSNBC contributor, Lawrence O'Donnell, said unequivocably on "The McLaughlin Group", Friday, that he knows firsthand that Rove is, indeed, Cooper's source in the outing of Plame. He also reasons that Cooper and Novak follow the same leads and sources. This maybe true since Cooper followed the Bush campaign and Novak is part of the old guard in D.C. The question is: if Cooper's source allowed him reveal his source and if Rove, then why isn't Miller or Novak talking now?

The answer: conspiracy; not in the Mel Gibson movie connation but in a criminal sense.

The feeling is that the special prosecutor's net is widely cast. He may pull up an old boot, a soda can or maybe a couple of sharks named Rove and Bush. The question then becomes, is this Bush's Iran-Contra or even Watergate? This investigation should go far into revealing just what damage the Bush administration has wreaked on the press in this country.

If the blame reached only to Rove and some underlings, would Bush call for his resignation? Bush has shown himself to be a very deliberate but predictable president. The answer is no. Rove is too important to the ship of Bush's state. Conservatives would find either a patriotic angle to keeping Bush's loyal servant or more likely conjure up some ridiculous argument against the whole scenario.

Tucker Carlson, the bowtie-wearing conservative pundit, has been floating around the idea that Plame wasn't actually that covert of a CIA agent afterall. Other conservatives will pick up on the hokey argument and before you know it another of our pillars of democracy is taken down a notch.

Now we wait for the answers.

Fall Of The Phony Slugger

"The Boone" sulks
Originally uploaded by wonderbread74.
Seattle Columnist Leaves Out Boone's Indiscretion

I suppose there nothing wrong with a sports columnists to wax sentimental when a local hero leaves his team, if not, unceremoniously like the Mariners Bret Boone was this week.

Steve Kelley, a columnist for the Seattle Times, detailed Boone's exit in funeral tones:

The tears kept coming. Each hug with each player, each coach, each broadcaster, trainer and clubhouse attendant brought more tears.

After the crying and hugging ceased, the mourners shuffled by the coffin of a baseball career Boone is sure to lead

Players, many of them dressed in their traveling sport coats, stood like guests in a formal reception line, waiting to hug him and heartily slap him on the back.

Steve Kelley is a homer. He knows that all of his readership is Mariner fans and Boone is beloved in the northwest, but how could you fail to mention the true reason of Boone's demise and Bariod Bonds you better be watching!

The Boone is off The 'Riods.

Is it coincidence that Boone's homerun and sluggling totals shot up considerably the same year as Bonds's?

Before 2000, Boone was a definite talent. Having played first for Seattle, Cincinnati, Atlanta and then back to the Mariners--the team that drafted him from El Cajon as the son of big league greats Gus and Bob Boone (Note: I still have my Bob Boone model catchers mitt in the garage).

In his 13-year career, Boone hit 50 percent of his homers from 2000 to this weekend. His sluggling percentage rose more than 130 points higher than at any point in his career. Since his return to Seattle, many have wondered aloud whether Boone was on the juice. In his tell-all book, "Juice", Jose Canseco wrote of an account where he questioned Boone on the field during a spring training game when Boone reportedly winked at Canseco, playfully covering his dirty little secret.

In addition to his noticeably larger physique he has other things in common with Bariod; mind-boggling statistics that go beyond believability, the child of baseball superstars and an ego spilling all over the sides.

He may have seemed like an anomaly back in 2000; a secondbasemen free-swinging and nearly leading the league in homers. Today, he's seen as a steriod-injecting, pompous ass, ballplayer who can't rely on the syringe that once contained hundreds of tape-measure homers and loads of RBI's.

Kelley ended his column by saying:

Time passes and gives birth to a new double-play combination. It's the business of baseball. Still, it is sad every time it happens.

In this case, time had nothing to do with it. Boone's career ended because a former colleague wrote a provocative book and some senators in Washington called a committee meeting.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Rogers Is Deserving Despite Assaulting Cameraman

Washington Nationals Are Due To Fall

Granted, Kenny Rogers is quite a boor, but when did All-Star representation ever include citizenship? Sure, baseball writers--the people who vote for the MVP--routinely talk about their choices all-around performance, including whether their behavior is beneficial to the game, but the All-Star Game? I've never heard such a thing,

The Mid-Summer Classic is all about the fan's favorite players and those who have excelled in the first half. All would agree, that Rogers' half-season numbers clearly merit inclusion. Columnists can complain, but the fact of the matter is that the true problem is not with including an excellent, but bad boy pitcher in the All-Star Game, but why can a suspended player manipulate the appeal process? It happens all the time and not for its intended reason--to give a second look at the ruling. Instead, teams and the players choose whether or not to appeal based on who's next on your schedule.

There have been many reports about poor past behavior from The Gambler including one when he played for the A's. Back in the early days of interleague baseball the A's traveled to Candlestick Park to meet the Giants. Kenny Rogers, who proved nearly unbeatable when pitching at the Coliseum, had a rough outing during a game the A's would eventually win.

Then A's manager, Art Howe, pulled Rogers out of the game and the volatile lefty responding angrily and stomped off the field. Reports later told that while walking from the dugout to the clubhouse Rogers tore out a payphone from the wall. Apparently, the Giants weren't very happy about this and wanted Rogers to pay to fix the phone.

The Montreal Expos used to be the little engine that could, the deaf-mute with the heart of the lion. Now they're the Washington Nationals, I've gotten to disliking their rise to the top of the National League East standings. Suddenly, they're the best team in the National League. With their cute, little uniforms, retro caps and ill-conceived logo, the Nationals are now everything you hate about baseball. The Yankees without World Series championships.

News Flash!: the Nationals are not the best in the N.L. The San Diego Padres could take them and definitely the defending N.L. Champs--the Cardinals have plenty more power than Washington, despite equal pitching.

Fortunately, the Nationals' run will end soon. They're basically one of those half-season wonders. Washington is led by a Kenny Rogers-like lunatic, Jose Guillen and a second-year closer due to fall back to earth.

Aside from the field, the once downtrodden Expos are now the fancy-eating, yacht club members of the Majors. After averaging barely 8,000 a game they now average nearly 32,000 tickets paid. But here the problem: nearly a quarter of the paid tickets go unused. Many attributed this to Washington's elite and lobbyists gobbling up high price seats and not using them. The novelty of a new team in the nation's capital will subside but the Nationals are due to be sold for around $350 million and are being courted by high-profile statesman such as Secretary of State Colin Powell and billionaire philantrophist, George Soros. They also have a new municipally-funded stadium due to be built on the riverfront

I hate them.

Ryan Langerhans. I like Philly's Chase Utley and the Cubs Sergio Mitre, but this week my new favorite player is the Braves' leftfielder. While he's only hitting .250 with six homers; this guy is quick and fearless in the field. I've seen him steal homeruns, but more importantly, he's the type of outfielder who uses the dive correctly. Others like Oakland's Eric Byrnes who the dive to either correct a poor route to the flyball or for show. Langerhans reads the ball well and uses dives in the correct way--to get to a ball when you have no businesss getting a glove on it.

Friday, July 01, 2005

BOOM! The War Is On!

Justice O'Connor Retires; Setting Off Firestorm

Just as the British attacked the colonists at Lexington and Bunker Hill and the Southerners fired the first shot at Fort Sumter; the war is on in Washington. Unlike those famous American military firsts, this war will be fought in your checkbooks, on the job and weirdly in the womb of every women in this land.

It was a semi-surprise that the first female Supreme Court justice, Sandra Day O'Connor would retire from the bench rather than the ailing William Rehnquist or even the 85-year-old, liberal judge, John Paul Stevens. So, as it stands, the tenious balance of the court will, very likely, shift dramatically to the right.

Although, a conservative, O'Connor was typically the linchpin moderate that kept the court was shifting radically to the right. Talk of a moderate successor is pure folly. Never in five years of the Bush presidency has he shown any penchant for appeasing the wishes of the electorate. With the court so close to overturning Roe vs. Wade on numerous occasions, Bush will stop at nothing to feed his zealous conservative base with a pre-approved nomination straight out of the Bible.

Twice during her term on the Supreme Court, O'Connor acted as the crucial swing vote that upheld the landmark 1973 case that made abortion in the United States legal. In 1989, she sided with the left when the question of whether granting states the right to abolish abortion when her conservative brethren vowed to overturn Roe vs. Wade. Again, in 1992, she led a five-justice majority that reavowed the court's stance on the earlier 1973 decision.

Aside from the huge social ramifications this retirement may pose, the court may now be in the hands of a conservative, pro-business cartel. Here's what the TalkingPointsMemo had to say:
The end of Roe v. Wade is likely to be the most immediate and conspicuous result of today's resignation. But don't forget the effect in the workplace and the economy at large. The decision on who will to appoint is in the hands of those who would turn the US economy back to what it was in the latter part of the 19th century, a world in which state and federal legislative action to insure the common good was hamstrung by court decisions that left everything in the hands of the marketplace.

What this in practical terms will mean is that the likelyhood that any pro-worker questions will be stricken down by any future court or rolled back to pre-1960s rulings. Forget the rights of the handicapped, overtime pay, or any help regarding worker's rights.

The future may seem bleak, put the Democrats will be undaunted in their quest to shoot down any and all nominees who's idealogy strays too far to the right. The war is on and we can only hope that Senate Minority Leader, Sen. Harry Reid is again up to the task of fending off another phantom menace.

There are rumors, already, in Washington of a potential double whammy, where Rehnquist will announce his retirement soon. The rumor mill also states that Bush appoint his counsel, Alberto Gonzales, as Chief Justice. This firebomb of a nominee could send Washington over the edge.

Gonzales was appointed the Texas Supreme Court by Bush and has been special counsel to the President in Washington. He well known for his briefs that seemed to uphold the Bush administration's policy of torturing enemy combatants and found a legal stance for holding prisoners without a lawyer or without charging them for a specific crime.

A's Stadium Architects Prosper From False Rep

With the constant discussion of building the A's a new ballpark at the Oakland estuary, presumably a retro-looking, waterfront edifice, the very informative blog Field of Schemes, which is devouted municipally-funded stadiums; has this new take on the supposed genius of Baltimore's trend-setting park, Camden Yards:

Philip Bess, who was a Chicago-based stadium consultant at the time, tells FoS that "the White Sox always wanted a Chicago version of Royals Stadium," and hired HOK because they'd worked on that 1970s modernist stadium. Moreover, as Peter Richmond made clear in his book Ballpark, about the building of Camden Yards, the Baltimore park's since-imitated "retro" design wasn't even HOK's idea. As then-O's (and now Red Sox) president Larry Lucchino told Richmond of HOK's work on Camden Yards, "[New] Comiskey would have been the stadium they'd have built, given free rein."

Since its construction in 1990, the new Comiskey has been villified for just missing the retro ballpark craze that unfolded after Camden Yards opened three years later. It's interesting that because of external change in the Camden's design, the architects at HOK have subsequently prospered by this false reputation.

Aside from Camden Yards and SBC Park seven years later, has HOK designed a truly substantial retro park? It should be noted that both those stadiums gain much of their quirkiness and intimacy from pre-existing factors like a wherehouse in rightfield and a large body of water.