Archive for the ‘Prescient observations’ Category
Folks, it’s official — as of 6:50 PM CST, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer (R) has vetoed Arizona state Senate Bill 1062. MSNBC showed a press conference, where Gov. Brewer said many different things about how she listened to both sides, conferred with advisors, and came to the only decision that made sense.
Thus her veto.
This is a very good thing, both for Arizona and for the nation. As I said earlier, this was terrible legislation. It was impractical at best, too broadly worded (as Gov. Brewer herself said), and unConstitutional on its face.
Good for Gov. Brewer for vetoing this bill.
Folks, sometimes people ask me questions . . . and when I’m hunting for a blog subject, as now, I decide to answer them. (Lucky you, huh?)
The first question goes something like this: “So, Barb. Why is it that you get so hyped up about figure skating, anyway? You’re not a figure skater, so why do you care?”
Well, I care because I like to see justice done. I got upset back in 2010 during the Vancouver Olympics when Johnny Weir didn’t get the score he deserved as he should’ve won the bronze medal. So I signed petitions, formed groups, wrote to the United States Figure Skating Association (to no avail) . . . all because I felt injustice should not be a part of sport.
Obviously, I realize that nothing in life is fair. But we should strive to make our pursuits as fair as we possibly can.
And sports, in particular, should be much fairer than most other things. People spend years of their lives in the pursuit of perfection, so when inaccurate or shoddy judging — or worse, potentially corrupt judging as in the case of the 2002 Olympics — ruins the skater’s Olympic experience, that can’t help but make me take notice.
Another question: “But Barb. Seriously, Yuna Kim is a millionaire with a gold medal from the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. She doesn’t need your help, so why is it you’re so upset regarding Adelina Sotnikova’s free skate in Sochi? Will anyone really care in four years anyway?”
I don’t know if anyone will care in four years or not. But the system needs to be overhauled. Ashley Wagner was right when she said the judges should stop being allowed to hide behind their supposed anonymity . . . if the skaters must identify themselves (as they do), the judges also must identify themselves so if they get something wrong, they can be retrained — or at the very least questioned as to what happened that led to whatever wrongness that occurred.
And again, I go back to Johnny Weir’s skate in 2010. I still care about it in 2014, because justice was not served.
So it’s quite likely that in 2018, I will still care about this if justice is again not served.
Onto another topic: “Barb, who do you think the Milwaukee Brewers are going to trot out at first base this year? They didn’t sign Manny Ramirez, so who do they have as possibilities?”
Heh. The Manny Ramirez thing was something I threw in there just to see if people were paying attention, though I honestly think the man can still hit and could learn to play first base if he wanted . . . but as the Brewers didn’t sign him, here are the potential first basemen in camp at this time:
- Hunter Morris (spent last year at AAA, hit .247 with 24 HR and 73 RBI). He is a bit raw, but has power to burn and a good, solid work ethic. He’ll probably start the year again at AAA but might come up later.
- Lyle Overbay (hit .240 with the New York Yankees with 14 HR and 59 RBI in 2013). Overbay still fields well at first, and continues to have some pop. He’s been with the Brewers before, so he knows Milwaukee well. My guess would be that he starts the year with the Brewers, as Overbay also can pinch hit and is a left-handed bat.
- Mark Reynolds (hit .220 with two teams with 21 HR and 67 RBI in 2013). Reynolds strikes out a ton. He is not a good defensive first baseman, to put it mildly. But he does have some power and it’s very likely the Brewers will keep him around to see what he’ll do as some of his HRs are moon shots of the Russell Branyan variety.
- Juan Francisco (His 2013 campaign was split into two parts — he hit .221 with 13 HR and 32 RBI in Milwaukee; before that, he hit .241 with 5 HR and 16 RBI in Atlanta). He is not a good first baseman, though some of that is because he’d never played the position prior to last year. He has astonishing power potential, but strikes out a good deal — nearly as often as Mark Reynolds. It’s likely that the Brewers will keep him around, but they also could trade him if they can find a buyer.
- And finally, there’s always Jonathan Lucroy. Yes, Lucroy’s a catcher, but he played first base several times last year and was competent if not comfortable. Lucroy is a consistent hitter who’s only weakness is grounding into double-plays . . . then again, Carlos Lee used to ground into double-plays all the time and no one complained, so it’s unlikely anyone’s going to say much about Lucroy either.
One final question, this yet again on a different topic entirely: “So, Barb. Why didn’t you review any books last week at Shiny Book Review?”
This one’s easy, folks . . . as I was doing my best to get a major edit out the door for a client, I simply ran out of time.
But I’ll be reviewing at least two books this week, so do stay tuned.
Every time I think I’ve seen it all when it comes to the Sochi Olympic Games, something happens to make me change my mind.
In Sunday’s Super-G Olympic ski race, American Bode Miller won the bronze medal (actually tying with Canadian Jan Hudec) behind fellow American Andrew Weibrecht and gold-medal winning Kjetil Jansrud of Norway. In doing so, the thirty-six-year-old Miller became the oldest Olympic medalist in skiing history, and has now won six Olympic medals — one gold, three silvers, and two bronzes.
However, NBC reporter Christin Cooper, herself a past Olympic medal winner in skiing (silver in 1984 in the Giant Slalom), pushed Miller way too far in an interview aired in prime-time television an hour or so ago. The interview has been transcribed by Yahoo’s Fourth-Place Medal column; here’s Cooper’s first question and Miller’s first answer:
Cooper: Bode, such an extraordinary accomplishment, at your age, after a turbulent year, coming back from knee surgery, to get this medal today, put it in perspective. How much does this mean to you?
Miller: I mean it’s incredible. I always feel like I’m capable of winning medals but as we’ve seen this Olympics it’s not that easy. To be on the podium, this was a really big day for me. Emotionally, I had a lot riding on it. Even though I really didn’t ski my best, I’m just super super happy.
This is a perfectly reasonable question, and a good answer by Miller. No problems here.
Next was Cooper’s second question:
Cooper: For a guy who says that medals don’t really matter, that they aren’t the thing, you’ve amassed quite a collection. What does this one mean to you in terms of all the others.
Miller: This was a little different. You know with my brother passing away, I really wanted to come back here and race the way he sensed it. This one is different.
This, again, is a reasonable question and a good answer by Miller. He was starting to tear up at this point, though, and most interviewers would’ve backed off and thanked him for his time.
For whatever reason, Cooper did not do this.
Here’s Cooper’s third question and Miller’s third answer:
Cooper: Bode, you’re showing so much emotion down here, what’s going through your mind?
Miller: Um, I mean, a lot. Obviously just a long struggle coming in here. It’s just a tough year.
This wasn’t a terrible question, but it wasn’t good because Miller was already in distress. Miller again gave a credible answer, but he teared up and was having a lot of distress in the process.
Again, most interviewers would’ve backed off. But again, Cooper did not do this.
Instead, here was Cooper’s fourth question and Miller’s abortive fourth answer:
Cooper: I know you wanted to be here with Chelly, really experiencing these games. How much does this mean to you to come up with this great performance for him? And was it for him?
Miller: I don’t know if it’s really for him but I wanted to come here and, I dunno, make myself proud, but … (trails off)
Here is when Cooper made a big mistake. She mentioned Chelone Miller, Bode’s brother, by name — Chelone was only 29 when he passed away in 2013 of a seizure, and was considered a possibility to make the Sochi Olympics in snowboarding until the end of his life.
Then Cooper made an even bigger mistake — she asked a fifth and final question:
Cooper: When you’re looking up in the sky at the start, we see you there and it looks like you’re talking to somebody. What’s going on there?
Miller: (breaks down and cries, Cooper puts an arm on him)
Now, this was just way out of line. Miller had answered the question already, as best he could, at least twice, and was obviously emotional. (Cooper even said this, earlier, so she was aware of it.) His brother has been dead for less than a year, for pity’s sake (see this story about Chelone Miller’s passing if you don’t believe me). The wound is still fresh, and Miller was showing the strain after Cooper’s second question.
But she didn’t back off.
As a journalist — no matter how unemployed I may be at the moment — I can tell you right now that Cooper’s behavior was completely wrong. She should’ve backed off after the second question and not asked the third, but once she did ask the third and saw that Miller was so emotional, she should definitely have backed off then.
That she instead chose to ask the fourth and fifth questions after he was already extremely upset for a completely understandable reason made absolutely no sense.
Fortunately, I’m not the only person out there who feels this way, either, as Yahoo’s Fourth-Place Medal column written by Mike Oz (about Olympic events) has also taken Cooper to task. Here’s a bit of that:
Reporters have to ask tough questions. It’s part of being a journalist. One of the hardest parts of the job — and one of the toughest nuances to learn — is knowing when enough is enough in an emotional situation. Cooper, it’s worth nothing, was a skier before getting a TV gig with NBC, not a lifelong journalist
Maybe when she looks back at the tape on this, she’ll realize that one question about Miller’s brother was enough — perhaps two would have been OK. But the third one, the one that broke Miller down into a ball of emotion, came off as, at best, insensitive and, at worst, cheap.
All I can say is, I sincerely hope so.
Because what Christin Cooper did wasn’t just poor journalism and wasn’t just insensitive.
It was plain, flat wrong on every level. Period.
Today, I witnessed something I’ve never before seen in my many years of watching figure skating. Reigning United States men’s champion Jeremy Abbott, who’s had his share of troubles in the Olympics already, took a very hard fall in the Olympic men’s short program at Sochi, lay on the ice for nearly twenty seconds . . . then got up and skated the rest of his program cleanly and with energy.
This was a big win for Abbott, even though it wasn’t reflected in the score column overmuch.
You see, Abbott, over the years, has had many problems with his nerves. They are well-documented, they are pervasive, and while they are also completely understandable (I doubt many of us would do well under so much scrutiny), they’ve kept him from attaining his immense potential — at least at the international level.
“First thing, I was in a lot of pain and I was laying there kind of shocked and I didn’t know what to think,” Abbott said. “I was waiting for the music to stop. The audience was screaming, and I was, like, ‘Forget it all, I am going to finish this program.’
“As much of a disappointment as this is, I am not in the least bit ashamed. I stood up and finished this program, and I am proud of what I did in the circumstances.”
Abbott scored a 72.58, good for fifteenth place out of thirty, but what he achieved goes far beyond any scorecard.
What Abbott achieved was the ultimate triumph of dedication, focus, and persistence. He refused to let a terrible fall — one that could still, potentially, knock him out of the competition — stop him from completing his short program. And in so doing, he won the respect of his competitors and the Russian crowd’s vociferous support, which wasn’t altogether easy as their lone entrant into the men’s program, Evgeny Plushenko, had abruptly retired directly before he was supposed to skate in the short.
I don’t doubt that Plushenko was injured — he clutched his back and looked like he could barely stand upright when he skated over to the judges in order to withdraw — and I also don’t doubt that Plushenko did the right thing in withdrawing, no matter how abrupt it turned out to be.
But what Abbott did in getting up from one of the worst falls I’ve ever seen and skating the rest of his program with vigor, energy, and even brilliance was as inspirational an effort as I’ve ever seen.
As Rogers put it in his headline, “Jeremy Abbott Loses Marks for Ugly Fall, Wins Hearts for Finishing Short Program.”
As I’ve been critical over the years of Abbott — much though I adore his skating — I felt it imperative to point this out: Jeremy Abbott has the heart of a true champion.
Whether he can skate the long program after a night of stiffening up and soreness, and possibly some bone breaks as well (as a hairline fracture can be hard to spot, especially right after an injury due to the inflammation incurred) is immaterial.
What Abbott did today in refusing to give up on himself is far, far more important than any marks could ever be. In or out of the Olympics.
You see, Jeremy Abbott proved today why he’s as big a winner at life as anyone I’ve ever seen.
And that, my friends, is extremely impressive.
Someday soon, folks, I’m not going to have to write about a story like this one. At that time — whether it’s 2016, 2020, whatever — being an openly gay athlete is not going to be big-time news.
But as it’s 2014 and the NFL still doesn’t have an openly gay player (nor does MLB, the NBA, or the NHL), what a young man from Missouri, Michael Sam, has done by announcing that he is openly gay is big news.
On Sunday evening, Missouri’s All-American defensive end Michael Sam came out, officially, as gay during ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” program. Sam is a legitimate NFL prospect, expected to be drafted anywhere from the third to fifth rounds, and is the reigning co-Defensive Player of the Year in the SEC — a very tough football conference where many of its best players often go on to illustrious NFL careers.
So you might be wondering, as I did, why Sam would choose to say this now, before any team gets a chance to draft him. The NFL seems to be homophobic (see my blog about Chris Kluwe’s experiences, and remember that Kluwe is not, himself, gay — he’s just an advocate for LGBT rights), and this may well affect Sam’s chances of getting drafted and/or signed by an NFL team.
Of course, it shouldn’t be this way.
As L.Z. Granderson points out in his article for ESPN.com, there have been gay players in the NFL at least since 1969 — Granderson quoted legendary coach Vince Lombardi as saying this: “”If I hear one of you people make reference to his manhood, you’ll be out of here before your ass hits the ground.” (Note this was referencing a story written in 2013 by Ian O’Connor about Vince Lombardi and being pro-gay rights at a time few were.) There are numerous retired NFL players, including former Packers NT Esera Tuaolo, who was quoted in today’s St. Paul Pioneer Press as saying that while he supports Sam fully, he couldn’t have done what Sam’s doing now back in the 1990s.
Sam’s openness about his sexuality has been acclaimed by former NBA player Jason Collins (who came out last year; see this blog for further details), well-known LGBT advocates and former NFL players Kluwe and Brandon Ayanbadejo, the latter writing this column for Fox Sports with a few words about Sam’s historic importance, and “You Can Play” advocate Wade Davis, himself a retired NFL player who happens to be gay.
But there’s something missing in most of the coverage about Michael Sam.
Simply put — Sam is a football player, plain and simple. More to the point, he’s a very good football player who should be drafted and can help any number of NFL teams, including the Green Bay Packers, as a defensive end — Sam’s on the small side as a DE considering he’s listed at only 255 pounds, but he’s agile, light on his feet, and a hard tackler. He’s twenty-four years of age, meaning he’s mature. He’s lived through a lot of adversity in his life (the OTL piece is a must-see, if you haven’t taken it in already). And he’d be an asset in every possible way.
Yet instead of hearing about how mature Sam is, or about how much he can help a football team, we’re hearing about how historic this achievement is with regards to gay rights. And while I agree with that — it’s obvious — I just wish we were further along in this country.
Think about it, please. Why should it matter in 2014 that Michael Sam is gay if he can play football at a high level?
And why should these various NFL general managers, who are refusing to be quoted by name (such as in this piece by the Christian Science Monitor), be afraid that Michael Sam will somehow contaminate the locker room? Especially considering, as Lawrence O’Donnell’s MSNBC program pointed out last night, that there are guys playing the NFL right now who are wife-beaters, girlfriend-beaters, who don’t pay child support for their children, who have problems with substance abuse . . . why are those players consistently finding work with these very same NFL GMs hardly batting an eye, when Michael Sam being an articulate and open gay man may cost Sam the chance to play in the NFL?
All that being said, of course I applaud Michael Sam for coming out. His stance is principled, honest, and above-board — and I respect it highly.
I just hope that by doing so, Sam hasn’t cost himself any chance at a job due to the intransigence and obduracy of the various, uncredited NFL GMs, who refuse to be quoted directly but have already cast a pall over Sam’s historic announcement.
One final thought: Is it bad of me to admit that I long for the day where a player can say, “I’m gay” and the pro sports league in question says, “So what?” (May that day come soon.)
On Keith Olbermann’s ESPN nightly sportscast Tuesday evening, Olbermann discussed Russia’s current national disgrace: They’re killing stray dogs in Sochi.
Many of them. For no reason, excepting the dogs exist and it’s legal to do whatever you like to dogs in Russia.
That was bad enough news to give me nightmares. And I wondered at the time, “Where are all the Russian animal activists? Don’t they care?”
Fortunately, there are a few who do.
As Olbermann pointed out on his sportscast Wednesday evening, this article from the Boston Globe discusses the efforts of Russian animal activist Vlada Provotorova, who’s so far managed to save about one hundred dogs from the slaughter. These are friendly animals (Olbermann had a video clip, a brief one), and act like they were once members of someone’s family.
Note that Ms. Provotorova is not the only activist who’s tried to make a difference; there are a number of them. (Bless them all.)
You might be forgiven for wondering why it’s legal to kill dogs in Russia. As this article from CNN points out, in Russia, there’s no legislation — none whatsoever — that dictates anything about how to treat a pet.
This is why a pest control service has been contracted by Sochi itself to “take care” of all this by killing the dogs, leaving the city itself to say its hands are clean, because what they’re doing is legal.
What’s frustrating about all this, aside from the fact it’s happening at all, is that a year ago, the Humane Society International wanted to go in there and help sterilize the pet population . . . but Olympic officials turned them down flat according to this article from Time.
From the article:
Kelly O’Meara, director of companion animals and engagement for Humane Society International, was “very surprised” when she heard that Sochi officials planned to kill stray dogs roaming around the Olympic host region throughout the Games. Just last April, organizers scrapped that idea, and said they would build a shelter for the animals. Now, city officials have hired a private company to do the dirty work — its owner told ABC News that the dogs posed a public-safety and health risk and that they were “biological trash.”
“They’ve very publicly gone back on their word,” O’Meara says.
The more I hear about this story, folks, the more I just want to cry.
You see, dogs, as a group, are much more friendly and loyal than the people they’re often entrusted to — and they don’t deserve to be treated as if they’re “biological trash.”
Worst of all, the friendliest animals — the ones that could easily be taken to a shelter, neutered or spayed, and adopted out — are the “easiest to catch” according to O’Meara. So they’re the ones that are most likely getting killed the quickest.
This all could’ve easily been avoided. It should’ve been avoided.
Even now, if the IOC would just get their heads out of their rear ends and admit it’s actually happening, this shameful act could be halted in its tracks. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of dogs’ lives could be saved.
But it seems as if the IOC would rather die than admit to any sort of error whatsoever. Which is why the only story, according to them, is that the dogs are being treated “humanely,” and that all this talk of dogs getting killed is just that — talk.
While I’d like to believe the IOC, if only because they talk a good game, I cannot ignore report after report, both on Olbermann’s show and in at least seventeen different newspaper accounts (written by different people, no less), that talk about the same thing.
Look. I’m a dog lover. So if I were in Russia right now, I’d be one of the many people trying to get the dogs out of there — or at minimum, I’d be one of the reporters discussing the problem and letting the world know it exists.
I hope that in this case that sunlight really is the best disinfectant, so a few more innocent dogs will be saved.
But as I cannot hope for that — most particularly because dogs, at least in that one guy’s eyes, are merely “biological trash” — all I can do is pray that somehow, some way, the word will keep getting out about what’s happening to these poor dogs.
Because it is unconscionable.
Folks, the weather here is brutal. I do not say this lightly.
Currently, it’s -13 F with a wind chill factor of -45 F. These are the worst conditions I’ve seen in thirty-plus years in any part of the Midwest — and considering I used to live in Nebraska, where it often gets colder than Wisconsin during the winter, that’s saying something.
Consider, please, that right now it’s warmer in Idaho than it is in Wisconsin. And that almost never happens.
This weather is not conducive toward much, I’m afraid. I’m trying to work, but am worried the power will go out. If it does, everyone in the outage area will be in deep trouble, as unlike our ancestors, we do not have wood-fired stoves or even pot-bellied stoves . . . we only have electric and gas stoves, which are much more dependent on external infrastructure than I like to contemplate under the circumstances.
Years ago, when I moved to Colorado with my ex-husband due to his military service, I was delighted to find that most Colorado apartments include fireplaces as a matter of course. That meant in a power outage, we’d not be in danger of cold. And even without a power outage, firelight is both calming and comforting, so it was definitely an excellent thing to have.
In Wisconsin, it’s very rare to find fireplaces included in apartments or homes unless you’re talking about someone very, very wealthy (which I’m not). But I’m betting many people — not just me — are wishing they had a fireplace right now, because the temperatures outside are so bad that everyone’s being advised to stay indoors unless absolutely necessary.
Now, what does this mean in practical terms? It means that I’m sitting inside a house that’s struggling to keep the temperature up high enough to sustain human life, along with nearly every other home and apartment in the Midwest. And the resulting power drain has to be straining the electric company’s ability to cope.
This is why the following sentence keeps coming to mind:
WELCOME TO WISCONSIN’S WINTER WEATHER NIGHTMARE . . . ENJOY YOUR STAY!
Folks, when it rains, it pours.
While I was working on my previous update, I had written this about my favorite team, which are of course the Milwaukee Brewers. They are currently on a four-game winning streak, and I thought it worthy of celebration. So here’s what I said, moments before the news about Ryan Braun broke in Milwaukee:
The Milwaukee Brewers are on a post All-Star break roll, sweeping the Florida Marlins out of Milwaukee yesterday and winning all three low-scoring games due to excellent pitching (Friday’s starting pitcher was Kyle Lohse, Saturday’s was Yovani Gallardo, and Sunday’s was the rapidly improving Wily Peralta) by both starters and bullpen.
Let’s see how well they do against San Diego tonight, though I do think they should have an excellent chance as the Padres have won only two more games than the Brewers and are exactly the same in the loss column.
(Granted, it seems odd to quote myself.)
I wrote this prior to the knowledge that Braun had accepted a 65-game suspension and will consequently be out the rest of the 2013 season, forfeiting over $3 million of his 2013 salary. (Please see this link from Yahoo Sports for further details.) Which is why I pulled it out of the previous post, quoted it here, and now will have to discard all of that as the much bigger story is Braun’s upcoming absence for the remainder of the 2013 season.
Look. I’m someone who fully believed that Braun was innocent of using any performance-enhancing drug (or PED, for short). Mistakes can happen when it comes to drug testing; they’re rare, sure, but they still can happen, and it seemed plausible to me that a man whose physique had never changed, whose lifetime numbers (batting average, on-base-percentage, slugging percentage, etc.) had never changed, either, and who vehemently declared his innocence was worthy of defending.
It has also seemed to me, for quite some time, that Major League Baseball has a grudge against Ryan Braun. They are annoyed that he managed to win his arbitration case in 2012, and that he was never suspended at that time for PEDs. And they have continued to go after him since then, doing their best to vilify his reputation in the process.
So, what am I to think of this statement from Braun, then?
As quoted from the Yahoo Sports article by Jeff Passan:
“As I have acknowledged in the past, I am not perfect,” Braun said. “I realize now that I have made some mistakes. I am willing to accept the consequences of those actions. This situation has taken a toll on me and my entire family, and it has been a distraction to my teammates and the Brewers organization. I am very grateful for the support I have received from players, ownership and the fans in Milwaukee and around the country. Finally, I wish to apologize to anyone I may have disappointed – all of the baseball fans especially those in Milwaukee, the great Brewers organization, and my teammates. I am glad to have this matter behind me once and for all, and I cannot wait to get back to the game I love.”
This statement doesn’t really say anything, does it? Other than that Braun accepted punishment for unnamed “mistakes,” apologized for the “distraction” afterward, and wants to play baseball again, there’s nothing here for a fan of the Brewers to really hang her hat on.
This article by Milwaukee Journal Sentinel baseball beat writer Tom Haudricourt clearly states this about the Ryan Braun suspension:
Major League Baseball has suspended Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun without pay for the remainder of the 2013 season and he has accepted the penalty, meaning he was caught red-handed either buying and/or using performance-enhancing drugs.
The suspension takes place immediately, so Braun will be suspended for the final 65 games of the season, beginning with the Brewers’ game Monday night at Miller Park against San Diego. The sanction came as a result of MLB’s investigation into the infamous Biogenesis clinic, which was exposed as having sold PEDs to players after documents were released to various news agencies earlier this year.
The suspension also exposed Braun as a liar because he has stated many times that he never used PEDs and never wavered from that stance.
So it appears that Tom Haudricourt isn’t too thrilled with what happened here, either.
Again — as a writer, I am trained to spot inconsistencies. Braun’s story, as Tom H. clearly said, never wavered. Braun loudly proclaimed his innocence at every turn. Braun blamed the guy who collected the urine test for the reason it came up positive, and was able to make that stick, and doing so made it appear to me that Braun really was telling the truth. Especially as Braun hadn’t failed any other drug tests before, or since.
But there are other ways to cheat the system. Baseball itself knows that better than anyone, and fans — even good ones, like myself, who are aware of steroids and other PEDs and know something of their effects on the body — aren’t really able to fully grasp why someone like Ryan Braun, who seemingly has the world at his feet and has no reason to skirt the rules whatsoever, has now admitted to doing so.
Even if his admission has all the oomph of a non-admission, mostly because he hasn’t said exactly what he’s been accused of doing.
Baseball fans will forgive almost any player if he tells the truth about what he’s done. Andy Pettitte said he used HGH — human growth hormone — in an effort to heal from injury faster, and wasn’t suspended. Alex Rodriguez admitted to using unspecified PEDs a few years ago, and wasn’t suspended (though he may be now due to apparently using them again via Biogenesis). Fernando Vina admitted to using steroids when he was with the Brewers long after the fact — he was a broadcaster, by then — and no one has ever vilified him.
But when someone doesn’t admit it and apparently did use them — whether it’s Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire, or Rafael Palmeiro — fans get upset. And then the player in question faces consequences, including shunning, booing, boorish behavior by the fans, or worst of all, exclusion from the Baseball Hall of Fame.
My attitude regarding PED use remains much the same as it’s always been. I think if you’re trying to stay healthy to play baseball, that’s a lot different than trying to cheat the system, which is why McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and Bonds (if he really did use them) should be given a pass, as all of them had well-known health problems that steroids/PEDs may have alleviated. And if you’re willing to accept all sorts of adverse effects on your body, as seen by Lyle Alzado’s tragic death after his brilliant NFL career not so long ago, have at.
My particular problem with Braun isn’t that he used (or maybe didn’t use) PEDs. It’s that he still hasn’t come clean regarding that use.
I believe very strongly in redemption and second chances. But one of the things most people need to do before they can fully proceed with either is to be honest. With themselves. With the other important people in their lives.
So far, Ryan Braun hasn’t done this.
Like it or not, Braun is a public figure by the dint of his baseball stardom. That’s why whatever happened must be explained to those who’ve supported him from the beginning — some specific explanations, not today’s weasel-worded non-denial denial — the fans of the Milwaukee Brewers.
Until he does, he’ll probably face all sorts of unintended consequences of today’s admission. And he’ll keep on facing them until he’s finally, fully and freely explained just what happened here that’s bad enough for him to accept an unpaid suspension for the rest of the 2013 season.
Folks, I’ve been hip-deep in editing this past week — I’ve been doing a last-ditch edit of my novel, ELFY, and have decided to re-do some chapter lengths. I also edited a short project for a friend, and have consulted on two other projects . . . and as if that’s not enough, I prepared for a concert with the Racine Concert Band that was unfortunately rained out last evening, too. (I was to play my alto saxophone.)
So I’ve had plenty going on, which is why I haven’t written a blog in over a week, why I haven’t reviewed any books, either, and quite frankly, haven’t really had much time to even turn around. (Ask my friends, as they barely see me, online or off.)
At any rate, here’s what I think about this, that, and the other, July 2013 style:
The George Zimmerman trial stirred up a lot of bad feelings. The African-American community is outraged, as is completely understandable, that Zimmerman wasn’t held accountable for his actions by the Florida court system. The Hispanic community is upset because they mostly seem to believe that Zimmerman is a poor reflection on them. And many white Americans seem to believe that Zimmerman is a martyr and should be embraced at all costs.
While I completely understand how the public at large could have conflicting feelings — and these three segments of the American “melting pot” could feel in completely different ways — the fact remains that as Zimmerman was not initially charged with anything for over a month, many bits of evidence were completely lost. The prosecution didn’t have much to work with, which may be partly why they seemed to do such a terrible job in going after Zimmerman. And the laws of Florida are such that there was absolutely no way with the evidence the prosecution had left to work with that the prosecution could have ever gotten a jury to sign off on the charge of second degree murder, either, no matter how competent the prosecution had been.
I said on my Facebook page that I thought Zimmerman would not be convicted of second degree murder or the high degree of manslaughter, which came into play only in the final days of the trial and was ill-defined to boot, not because I think Zimmerman is an innocent — he’s not — but because the prosecution hadn’t proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt.
Had the prosecution gone after something much more likely to have been understood by the jury, albeit with much less high of a profile than second degree murder, they would’ve charged Zimmerman with whatever Florida calls “reckless endangerment of human life” coupled with “unlawful use of a firearm.” Zimmerman most likely would’ve been acquitted of the last due to the way Florida’s laws are written, but at least the prosecution would’ve had a snowball’s chance in Hell of making the charges stick.
A sentence for something like that in Wisconsin to a first-time offender is usually anywhere between two to five years in jail coupled with the loss of the firearm in question. I think if the jury had been looking at something like that for Zimmerman rather than the lengthy stints in jail required for second degree murder or the high degree of manslaughter the Florida authorities were going after, they may have been able to consider the actual evidence in a different light.
All I know is, I’m glad there weren’t nationwide riots after the verdict was read, and that the jury’s verdict has been respected (even if not appreciated by vast segments of the population). Because truly, there are better ways to continue the conversation Trayvon Martin’s untimely death has prompted than to cause permanent damage to people and objects — like actually talking.
Edited to add:
A very interesting column by Milwaukee Journal Sentinel columnist Eugene Kane has this to say about the Zimmerman trial:
After Zimmerman’s acquittal, widespread dissatisfaction was expressed by black and white supporters alike who didn’t understand how an African-American teenager’s life could have so little value in the criminal justice system.
Without a video, the Zimmerman jury felt compelled to buy the defense portrayal of Zimmerman as someone just defending himself from attack, even though testimony showed he sought the confrontation by stalking the teenager in the dark of night. Zimmerman’s self-defense argument (not technically “stand your ground”) angered many black parents, who wondered how someone could be considered not guilty after initiating contact with a black teenager who ended up dead.
I agree wholeheartedly with Kane’s assessment, and think this is the main reason why the jury wasn’t able to do any more than acquit Zimmerman of what he’d been accused of — particularly because the evidence was definitely not there (something the prosecution must have known) for second degree murder due to the 45-day delay between the death of Martin and the arrest of Zimmerman.
(Now back to my original post.)
I’m also reading a really interesting book right now by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks called THE GREAT PARTNERSHIP: Science, Religion, and the Search for Meaning. I have found it most enlightening thus far, and may post some quotes from it soon.
So that, and watching baseball (thoughts about the 2013 Milwaukee Brewers and Ryan Braun accepting a 65-game suspension will be forthcoming, honest), and working are what I’ve mostly been doing this past week.
And because of all I’ve been doing in July, I didn’t get a chance to mention that I’d passed my third year of bloggery (is that even a word? ‘Tis now.) here at WordPress earlier this month. (Hip, hip . . . something?) But I hope things will have calmed down so much by this time next year that I will be able to write a much more proper celebratory blog — or at least an informative one — discussing what I’ve learned from blogging, my fellow authors, and you all . . . because I’m sure that post is inside me somewhere.
At any rate, thanks for continuing to read my blog despite the infrequency of my recent postings. I truly appreciate it.
Today, the United States Supreme Court struck down two laws, the federal Defense of Marriage Act (or DOMA) and California’s controversial Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in that state. With two different 5-4 rulings, the Supreme Court has affirmed that discrimination on the basis of whom people love is illegal — at least, if you are in one of the twelve states where gay marriage is legal already, the District of Columbia (where it’s also legal), or in California, where it’s soon to be legal again.
Here’s a link to a story on Yahoo regarding the overall historical impact of these two different decisions, what the groups on both sides plan to do next, and so forth and so on.
As for what I think? Well, I’m very pleased that the Supreme Court struck down DOMA and threw out California’s Prop. 8 (albeit on a technicality), because I believe everyone who’s above the age of consent and is in love with a supportive and loving partner should be allowed to marry that partner. Whether it’s a man and a woman marrying, two women, two men, or two transgendered individuals, what matters is the love — not the form of that love.
The only thing that bothers me about these particular decisions is the limitations placed upon them by the Supreme Court. In striking down DOMA, the Supremes basically said that if you legally married a same-sex partner in the various states where it either is legal now or has been legal in the past (and was legal at the time, such as in California until Proposition 8 was voted for by that state’s voters), the federal government must treat you as married. And that way, you have all the rights and privileges of a married couple — which is exactly as it should be.
However, if you’re in a state like Wisconsin, where we have a state-specific version of DOMA on the books, if you are a same-sex couple you still cannot marry under the law. You are still allowed to be legally discrimination against in taxation, adoption, and other issues, under the law. And unless and until we get a Democratic Assembly and/or a Democratic Governor, things are unlikely to change due to the bunch of radical Republicans we have right now in Wisconsin, as in addition to these radical Rs running the state into the ground, they also oppose same-sex marriage on reactionary terms — not on realistic ones.
In other words, the Rs in Wisconsin see marriage as a religious ceremony first, with statehood recognition of that ceremony coming second. (This does not really make much sense because many non-religious people or those who are religious but want to save on money go and get married before the judge in a courthouse in a non-religious ceremony. But it’s how they seem to believe.) The rights and privileges a married couple gets in Wisconsin cannot go to a same-sex couple — not even in Madison, which has had domestic partnership benefits for many years — because that’s what the radical Rs want.
I have news for these Rs. Marriage is for everyone. That’s basically what the Supreme Court said today, even though they stopped short of striking down other statehood bans like Wisconsin’s in their narrowly targeted rulings. If you are in love, and you want to get married, and if you want to raise a family, you should be allowed to get married and raise that family. Period.
This is one of the few cultural issues where the Rs have largely been out of step with the mainstream of Wisconsin and the rest of the country. For example, there are now three Republican U.S. Senators who are for gay marriage — Rob Portman of Ohio, who has a gay son, Mark Kirk of Illinois, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. There are a few others, like John McCain, who’ve said before that they have no problem with gay couples, per se, but they don’t think these couples should be allowed to marry. Then the rest of the Rs basically want to take the country back to the 1950s, if not earlier, on cultural issues — which isn’t likely to happen, fortunately for the rest of us.
In Wisconsin, I don’t know of any single one Republican Senator or Assemblyman who believes that same-sex marriage should be legal in all 50 states. (Or even just in Wisconsin.) All eighteen Senators oppose same-sex marriage; all sixty Republicans in the Assembly oppose it.
And, of course, Wisconsin’s Republican Governor Scott Walker also adamantly opposes same-sex marriage, mostly on religious grounds.
Look. For the most part, I’m for most religions, providing they help people and give meaning and value to their lives. But when a religion insists that some people are better than others — in this case, a heterosexual married couple matters more than a same-sex married couple — that’s where I start to get upset.
And when a politician can’t even be bothered to say, “Look. I haven’t really studied the issues yet, but my religion has always said that gay people are sinful. That’s why I really cannot support marriage equality,” but stands behind the religious fig-leaf as if the religion is doing his or her thinking for him, that really bothers me.
My thought right now is that this issue, along with the new legislation that Scott Walker said he’ll sign that mandates that all women get trans-vaginal ultrasounds before having a medically necessary abortion (unless you’ve been raped or a victim of incest and have gone to report the same), is the most likely one to defeat the Wisconsin Rs.
So those of us who worked so hard to recall Scott Walker (myself included) may still have hope. This is an obstinate man we’re talking about, someone who firmly believes everyone in the state is behind him despite the recall evidence to the contrary. And he’s leading a radical party that’s done a lot of things that voters disagree with, to boot — so when he’s up for re-election in 2014, if we have a Democrat with statewide recognition to run against him (please, not Tom Barrett again — I like him, but he has proven he can’t win against Walker), we should be able to get him out.
As for me, I voted against Walker, signed the recall, voted to replace him, and will vote against Walker again in 2014. (I’m on the record as saying I’d rather vote for an empty paper bag rather than Walker, as that empty paper bag will do far less harm.) But I’m a realist. I know Walker hasn’t done what he said he would do — not with regards to jobs, not with regards to honesty and transparency, not with regards to anything, except for one (he kept his promise to turn down the money for light rail, as he found it unnecessary; however, in so doing, he also eliminated at least three hundred prospective new jobs) — and I want him out of there before he manages to harm the state even further.
My advice for the Wisconsin Rs is this — get with the program regarding same-sex marriage. This issue is not going to go away any time too soon, and most younger voters disagree with you and your stated beliefs on this issue. And if you are unwilling to change with the times, and admit that all marriages should be equal under the law, you will be voted out.
Maybe not in 2014. Maybe not even in 2016.
But you will be voted out.
And I, for one, will be very happy once you are, as you’ve done more than enough damage already.