Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Archive for July 2011

Just Reviewed Susan Donovan’s romance “Not that Kind of Girl” at SBR

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Folks, here’s the link to my new review:

http://shinybookreview.wordpress.com/2011/07/31/susan-donovans-not-that-kind-of-girl-when-opposites-attract/

As always, I had more thoughts than I could cram into any one review — some being irrelevant from a reviewing standpoint — so I’m going to elaborate on them here.

I really liked Susan Donovan’s writing style; it’s perky, blunt, and gets the job done without interfering with the narrative, which is a lot harder to do than it sounds.  I also liked her take on the whole soulmate concept, with a matchmaker with a gift (that may be Divinely inspired) to bring two people together who normally wouldn’t give each other a second glance; this being the third in a series and me not having read the other two didn’t stop me from understanding what was going on at all.

All that being said, the way the two at the heart of this story, Roxie and Eli, make love just made me feel sad.  Or want to throw things.  (Or maybe both.)  Because here you have two people who fall in love quickly and are right for one another, but the guy has to always prove he’s dominant at all times, never letting his guard down at all, never being playful, never enjoying the moment for what it is.  And that does not ring true to me.  Not at all.

Look.  I’ve made no secret of it that I found my soulmate in my late husband Michael.  The two of us, on the surface, would’ve been much like Roxie and Eli in that Roxie’s passions are all on the surface (me) and Eli’s calm, cool, collected and seems to hold all of himself in reserve unless it’s needed (Michael).  Granted, this is at best a rough approximation — I’m leaving out Michael’s delightfully rude sense of humor here, or the fact that I’ve taught a lot of young kids music lessons so if I hadn’t learned a bit of patience now and again I’d have done them no good whatsoever — but I can see enough parallels here to want to discuss why the way these two in NOT THAT KIND OF GIRL don’t behave right in bed.

Simply put, I don’t think a guy who’s always that calm and controlled externally is going to be that way in bed.  So I don’t see why someone would insist on behaving the “alpha male” at all times — there’s no need for that between two lovers who wear no masks and understand each other intimately in all senses — nor do I see how a love affair can proceed without some humor in the bedroom, especially as there’s plenty of humorous moments going on outside of it to make me believe the couple at hand does understand when something is funny.  (And trust me; down deep, where it matters, the way we make love as human beings has to be about the most inefficient process there is.  We may as well make fun of it, and ourselves, as we abandon ourselves to it.  Otherwise, why bother with it at all?)

So Ms. Donovan did her job — the couple is realistic enough that I wanted to scream at Eli to knock it the Hell off, thank you — but the way that all happened just did not sit well.  I realize some people have relationships like this — psychosexual behavior being what it is, some people must need that, right? — but Eli the dog whisperer had none of the other markers for this personality type.  And Roxie — well, I can see why she’d want to get “permission” to be abandoned in bed (this is fairly common), but why would she put up with a guy who’s so damned humorless in the bedroom when she obviously has enough smarts to make a living at her man-hating Web site “I-Vomit-On-All-Men?”

So there you have it; a pleasant, funny beach read that has this one sour note in it.  As a musician, I guess I can’t help it that this one sour note keeps drowning out the rest of the harmony and the melody, and as a writer/editor, I wonder why it is that someone didn’t ask Ms. Donovan to please put something in there that showed that to Eli, this was all a game, not to be taken seriously, rather than the dead serious “I am Mr. Macho Man at all times” Caveman nonsense.

Written by Barb Caffrey

July 31, 2011 at 1:42 am

Debt Ceiling Action — Write your Senators and Reps Today

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Folks, it is obviously up to us to tell our elected representatives what we want, because they need some guidance up there in Washington, DC.  (What is it about the air of that place that makes people lose their minds?)

Here’s my letter to my Republican Senator, Ron Johnson, as an example:

Dear Senator Johnson,

When you ran for office, you promised to work on behalf of all Wisconsinites, not just those who voted for you.  I write to you now as one who didn’t vote for you but needs your help, as do all Americans.

Refusing to raise the debt ceiling now is wrong.  All the debt ceiling does is say to our creditors, “We will pay you what is owed.”  There is no reason whatsoever not to do so, so I do not understand your opposition in this matter.

While there is an argument that we as a country shouldn’t be spending so much — something I fully agree with — the fight for a Balanced Budget Amendment shouldn’t be hitched to this particular wagon.

At this point, we are on the brink of utter disaster.  If the debt ceiling is not raised, consequences could be catastrophic.  I really doubt you wish to do something that is so harmful to every single aspect of our economy, from the highest to the lowest, so please reconsider your opposition to raising the debt ceiling.

Sincerely,

Barb Caffrey

To find your Senators, go here:

http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm 

Here’s an example of how to write to your elected Representative, my letter to my duly elected Rep, Paul Ryan:

Dear Representative Ryan,

I know you are philosophically opposed to raising the debt ceiling without massive spending cuts as you are what’s known as a “deficit hawk.”  Still, you are sworn to do the people’s business, and right now, raising the debt ceiling is the right thing to do.

You have been in Congress for many years now, and you know full well that most of the time, raising the debt ceiling is a bloodless move that no one frets about.  I don’t understand why it’s different this time for you or for the Republican Reps. in the House, but I do know that if you don’t do it, the consequences will likely be catastrophic.

I am much more concerned about the economy, why we still have over 14% reportable unemployment in Racine, WI, and why no one’s talking about the jobs issue.  If more people were working, the deficit wouldn’t be as bad as it is because more tax revenue would be coming in.

Further, I am disgusted and incensed that the Republicans in the House refused to even consider closing tax loopholes that enrich big business and the wealthy while talking about cuts to “entitlement programs” that the middle class and below need every day — Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.  It seems to me that a disproportionate amount of the burden has been placed on the middle class and below; why is it that the wealthy are exempt from sacrifice?  And why on Earth do we still need to subsidize oil companies, the wealthiest corporations in the history of the world?

I applaud you for being willing to at least discuss the issue, Rep. Ryan, but I do not appreciate that there is no “sharing” in this sacrifice.

Please vote to raise the debt ceiling forthwith, without any such nonsense as “Cut, Cap and Balance,” as you know that will never pass the Senate.  Stop this nonsense, and let’s get on with the people’s business, all right?

Sincerely,

Barb Caffrey

To find your Representatives, go here:

http://www.house.gov/representatives/

And to write to President Obama, go here:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact

Good luck in talking sense to these people; I pray that they will listen to us before it’s too late.  (Why they insist on playing petty partisan games until the last possible second, I will never know.  Perhaps that’s why I’m not a politician.)

Written by Barb Caffrey

July 30, 2011 at 4:11 pm

Brewers Update

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Today’s update is mostly about Rickie Weeks’ injury situation.  It’s been reported by both Adam McCalvy (of MLB.com) and Tom Haudricourt (of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) that Rickie Weeks has both a severely sprained left ankle and some ligament damage that will not require surgery.  The estimated time for Weeks’ return is anywhere from three to six weeks; as Weeks has been injured before — both wrists and one of his knees — he’s aware of what he needs to do to rehab, so the Brewers are hoping Weeks will only be gone about a month.

For the moment, the Brewers have re-acquired infielder Felipe Lopez, who’s played with the Brewers before.  Lopez is an iffy defender with a good bat — similar to Weeks in that way, though Weeks is a bit better in the field and works really hard at it while Lopez, to be charitable, is mostly known to be a guy who’s been a bit of a loudmouth (which is why he doesn’t stick around very long at any team he’s ever played for).  Lopez, who had been in the Tampa Bay Rays organization, batting over .300 at AAA ball, will start tonight at second base and bat fifth, which is where Weeks had been batting before the injury due to the Brewers’ woes at that batting position . . . here’s hoping Lopez can put his money where his mouth is, as the saying goes.

Otherwise, I was remiss not to mention John Axford during my last Brewers-centered post, as Axford has set a new Brewers record for 27 saves in a row (his 26th save, which broke the previous record, was on Wednesday; his 27th save was yesterday afternoon).  Axford is nearly certain to be the Brewers player of the week, as this was a tough record to surpass; Axford has been consistently good (not always great, but good) as a closer, and has been a big part of the Brewers success this year.

One reason I like Axford so much, though, is that he has a blue collar sensibility to him.  He just goes out to the mound and gets the job done.  No histrionics.  No drama.  Just goes out every day and does his job.

I wish we had more people in this world who were like Axford.

Written by Barb Caffrey

July 29, 2011 at 5:15 pm

More Back Pain, Exacerbated by Politics

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Onto day six of current back problems; every day I get a little teensy bit better in one way or another, but it’s still not fun.  Continuing to take my medication, and try to get rest, and doing all the proactive things possible in order to move around a little bit.

Back problems get worse with stress, and right now, along with everyone else I have unavoidable stress that’s worsened by watching what has to be the biggest farce ever seen in Washington, DC — the whole foofaraw over the debt ceiling.

So while I wait for the latest vote in the House of Representatives, which won’t do anything at all to curb international panic over the lack of progress toward raising the debt ceiling for the United States, I thought I’d sit down and write a blog.  (What else did you expect, hm?)

My back seems intertwined with these politics, somehow.  Whether it’s the Wisconsin Republicans refusing to pass an unemployment extension until one week before six of them run in recall elections, or it’s the national Republicans in the House of Reps refusing to understand what the debt ceiling is — that it’s acknowledging that the Congress has spent such and such an amount, and that money will be appropriated while debts will be honored (that, in essence, is what raising the debt ceiling means) — and grandstanding about how awful the National Debt is, my back continues to hurt badly because the real issues are not being faced.

The real issues for most people have to do with these three words:  jobs, jobs, jobs.  Not all this nonsensical posturing by Speaker Boehner.  Not all this nonsensical posturing by the Tea Party Republicans, who believe that tax increases are bad, but don’t seem to understand that refusing to raise the debt ceiling will amount to the biggest tax increase in history that’s passed on to everyone, including the incredibly wealthy people they’ve been working for and protecting all along.

Once again, I ask the question of Boehner:  “Where are the jobs?”  Because I surely haven’t seen any action in the House at all regarding jobs; I haven’t seen any leadership from Boehner, either, because what he needs to do at this point is speak with Nancy Pelosi, current House minority leader, and say, “I have this many votes to raise the debt ceiling; what do you need from me to get your caucus to help me out?  Because you know that not raising the debt ceiling is bad, right?”

This, truly, is Boehner’s only option right now, and he’s refusing to take it.  Sad, even shocking . . . he’d rather pass on doing his own job, no matter how distasteful, which means to me that he’d best plan on retiring at the end of his current term because he’ll never be re-elected if he allows the US to default on its debt, or to lose the US’s AAA credit rating.   (That last is a very real possibility due to all the posturing, pandering, and ridiculousness that’s been going on in DC for the past week and a half minimum.  The world doesn’t like seeing that we’d rather screw around than meet our obligations as a country, which has made a credit downgrade much more likely than not.)

President Obama will also have problems in this regard, true.  But he’s been seen trying hard to work with the Republicans.  He just doesn’t seem to realize that these Rs will not listen — they’re like the Rs in Wisconsin, who also will not listen.  They insist that they’re right even when public opinion is strongly against; they insist they’re right even when people call and write and protest against them.  Then, when bad things happen, they continue to insist that they’re right and the rest of us are plain, flat wrong.

This is a new brand of Republican, folks — a type of person who refuses to listen to anyone, at all, and is inflexible to the point of extreme rigidity.  And this is a type of person we do not need, either in the state Legislature, or in DC.

These people would rather drive the whole country right off a cliff than do their jobs, as politics requires something none of them seem to know anything about: compromise.  Otherwise known as “the art of the possible.”

Pitiable, really.  But it does make my back hurt to realize we have so many people of this ilk in government at this time.

Brewers Win Game, but Lose Weeks to DL

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The Milwaukee Brewers won tonight’s game against the Chicago Cubs, 2-0.  Zack Greinke pitched very well for 6 2/3 innings, then the bullpen (Saito, F. Rodriguez, and Axford in that order) did their part to shut the Cubs right down.

But the Brewers win afterglow had to be somewhat dimmed by the loss of Rickie Weeks; early in the game, Weeks was busting down the line trying to beat out a ground ball for an infield hit.  He threw his front leg out to its widest extension, hit first base before the throw came in (meaning he did get that IF hit), but landed funny on the bag.  Making matters worse, he then “rolled over” the ankle as he fell face-first onto the ground.  He did not get up until the trainers, and Brewers manager Ron Roenicke, came out to get him; at that point, he put a little weight on his right (uninjured) foot but none on his left, and was basically carried off that field by a trainer and Roenicke.

Now, Weeks’ replacement, Craig Counsell, played sparkling defense after being inserted as a pinch runner for Weeks.  Counsell didn’t get any hits in three plate appearances, but that defense saved the Brewers quite a few headaches.  (Counsell is not only a better fielder than Weeks, but a much better fielder.)  So for tonight, losing Weeks wasn’t the world’s worst thing to happen.

However, Ron Roenicke said after tonight’s game that Weeks is headed straight to the disabled list (DL) and will have a MRI on Thursday to pinpoint what damage might be there.  (All they know right now is that Weeks did not break his ankle.  He may still have tendon damage of some sort, though I’m hoping it’s a strain rather than a tear.)

This is not good news for the Brewers.  Despite Weeks’ inconsistent play in the field, he’s been one of the Brewers best hitters this year and has 19 HR, 43 RBI, and 71 runs scored (that last is probably his most important stat, as for most of the year Weeks was batting leadoff).  Weeks was named the starting second baseman for the 2011 All-Star game and looked to have a banner season after signing a four-year contract extension earlier this year ($32 million with a signing bonus; it averages to $8 mil a year but the Brewers usually write such contracts with escalator clauses, meaning this year might be $5 mil, next year $10 mil, etc.); this injury definitely will not help the Brewers overall chances to win their division and go to the playoffs for the first time since 2008.

More will be known about Weeks injury tomorrow, so check in with me then as I’ll be sure to update y’all as to what’s going on in that quarter.

Written by Barb Caffrey

July 27, 2011 at 11:40 pm

God’s Poll Numbers Slipping — Really!

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Folks, now I’ve heard and seen it all.  Even God has poll numbers.

According to this Web site, God’s approval numbers stand at 52%, with 9% disapproving.  (I’m not sure where all the other people are on this issue.  Perhaps the pollsters talked with a lot of atheists?)

Note I’ve seen other polls, rarely, such as the Gallup Poll, with numbers on God.  They’re usually much higher than this.  I would venture a guess that the reason for that is because of our overtly pessimistic American culture and political situation more so than anything else — we’re unhappy about our politics, we’re unhappy about our financial situation (personal and governmental), and we’re unhappy about the overall prospects for anything better because it sure doesn’t look like anything’s really improving out there.

Anyway, the reason we have new poll numbers for God is that the PPP polling firm wanted to use them in order to contrast those numbers against the poll numbers for Congress.  And while God’s poll numbers were lower than you might expect for a Deity, they were considerably higher than any member of Congress.

From the article:

Questions about God were asked as part of a larger survey assessing American opinions of congressional leaders in the midst of the ongoing debt ceiling debate in Washington.

God’s approval rating exceeded that of House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, as well as both Democrats and Republicans in Congress, with each party receiving only a 33 percent approval rating.

God also polled significantly higher than the scandal-ridden media baron Rupert Murdoch: only 12 percent of those polled viewed him favorably, compared to 49 percent who viewed him unfavorably.

“Though not the most popular figure PPP has polled, if God exists, voters are prepared to give it (sic) good marks,” PPP said in a July 21 press release.

I would sincerely hope so!

Add a corollary of sorts from this article, which discusses a church in Washington, DC, that’s praying for a “just and compassionate budget.”  From the article, which has a video attached:

‘There’s nothing in the Bible about whether there should be revenues in the budget package of 2011,” said Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, a nonpartisan Christian movement working to end hunger in the U.S. and abroad. “But there’s nothing in the Bible that says you can’t tax rich people. There’s a lot in the Bible that says you ought to protect poor people.”

Later in the article, the interfaith leaders who’ve been helping to hold this daily vigil said:

Besides praying, the group of interfaith leaders are urging their followers to contact members of Congress. Earlier this month, they sent a letter to President Obama, writing that “people who are served by government program – those who are poor, sick, and hungry, older adults, children, and people with disabilities – should not bear the brunt of the budget-cutting burden.”

Can I get an “Amen” from the peanut gallery?  (Please?)

Written by Barb Caffrey

July 27, 2011 at 4:05 pm

Back Issues, and a Few Thoughts on Politics

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Folks, my back is really acting up at the moment.  Which is not conducive to blogging or any form of writing — nor to a lot of editing, either, truth be told, though it is good for planning.  But I can’t let the nonsense going on right now go by without a few comments, either . . . so here we go.

First, last night’s “face-off” between President Barack Obama and Speaker John Boehner was, to my mind, rather underwhelming.  These two people obviously don’t like each other, don’t trust each other, would rather not have anything to do with one another, but have to work together to try to do the country’s business — and are failing miserably.  I place more of the blame on Boehner than on the POTUS, partly because Boehner has been a Representative for a lot longer than Obama has been President, and partly because when the Republicans gained control of the House after the 2010 elections, they promised to create jobs — not do all this screwing around.

I keep wanting to ask Boehner, “Mr. Speaker, where are the jobs?”  Because that’s what he, and by extension his whole party, kept saying, and that’s why they got elected — on a job creating platform.  But once they got in there, they decided “job creation” really meant “protect the wealthy at all costs from any form of tax increase, no matter how benign.”  And they’ve acted on the latter belief, insisting even though they should know better that this is what the American public wants them to do — then have pushed the real cost of lowering the deficit onto the middle classes and below, who can’t afford it and are already paying too much, proportionately, as it is.

Now, the Republican argument is that the lower 50% of income earners “pay no income tax at all.”  That is, to an extent, true.  However, we do pay FICA, where many high earners don’t, meaning we’re helping to sustain Social Security; we pay sales tax, and cannot tap into loopholes that get part of those taxes back as can the wealthiest Americans when they buy a new yacht or a second or third home in order to use it for two weeks a year on vacation.  So proportionately, the lowest earners are paying more than the high earners, which in effect gets blood from a stone as low earners have very little to work with in the first place.

Then, with all the picayune nonsense going on in Washington, DC, I’m still having to put up with the Wisconsin Republicans in the state Senate screwing around.  These guys have decided they will pass a bill that agrees with the state’s Assembly bill — that will hold one week of benefits from new unemployment claimants, starting on January 1, 2012 — on August 1, 2011, because that’s just one short week away from the recall elections for state Senators Darling, Cowles, Harsdorf, Kapanke, Hopper, and Olsen.  The Rs have decided to do this because they think that’ll make their Senators look more compassionate, of all things . . . they like the timing, and don’t care that they’re making people who’ve not had any extended benefits since April 16, 2011, wait even more for their money.

Me, I find this behavior terrible.  Shallow.  Rude.  Obnoxious.  And reprehensible, too, because these Senators should know better.

The whole bit of difference between the two bills was there because the Senate Rs wanted to look more compassionate (the Senate voted 30-3 against withholding the first week of unemployment from people, knowing full well the Assembly would pass a different version of the bill so they’d be able to “have their cake and eat it, too.”), yet how compassionate is it to make people wait another week for their money? 

Because, remember, this is a Federal program.  The money is already there.  The WI Rs are just sitting on it, perhaps collecting interest on it, rather than paying it out — so there’s no excuse for this whatsoever.

At any rate, this is why every single last R Senator in Wisconsin (with the possible exception of Dale Schultz) should be recalled — they’ve lost touch with the real people in our state, who are suffering.  And only seem to care about the wealthiest people in the state, protecting wealthy corporations and their tax loopholes . . . then wonder why they’re all in danger of being recalled on the first available date (which for eleven other Rs is January 3, 2012; two are recallable now, Grothman and Lazich, and may yet end up recalled by the end of the year for all I know).

Written by Barb Caffrey

July 26, 2011 at 6:52 pm

Just Reviewed Mario Livio’s “Is God a Mathematician?” for SBR

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Folks, my headline for my review at Shiny Book Review tonight is simple: 

http://shinybookreview.wordpress.com/2011/07/24/mario-livios-is-god-a-mathematician-math-as-philosophy/

That refers to Livio’s main argument, which is about whether or not math was designed by humans in order to reflect what humans see — a modern thought, that — or the view of the “Platonists” (mathematicians since Plato who agree with Plato’s point of view) that math was always present in the universe, but human beings may not have had the skill-set in order to be able to understand what they saw around them.  This “nature or nurture” type of argument is intriguing enough by itself, but in order to make it, Livio also had to sketch out a history of math and mathematicians or it wouldn’t have made any sense to a non-mathematician like myself.

That Livio did a phenomenal job in explaining what this philosophical argument is all about is intriguing enough, but the historical overview adds depth and breadth to it all, making the point that philosophy doesn’t have to be “dry as dust” stuff as it refers to things we all take for granted every day.  In that sense, Livio’s book reminds me of THE TAO OF PHYSICS in that there’s a great deal more to life than what’s been observed and measured up to now — but isn’t it interesting what’s around us that we can observe and measure?

Anyway, go read my review, then grab this book!  It’s something that will help you whether or not you’re a SF&F author; it’s something that will interest you if you’ve ever given thought as to how these mathematicians have managed to improve the world (and what we know of it) through the millenia of recorded history.

Written by Barb Caffrey

July 24, 2011 at 3:14 am

Posted in Book reviews

Stay Away from Frontier Airlines, Says Sarah A. Hoyt

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Folks, go read this now:

http://accordingtohoyt.com/2011/07/20/frontiers-of-insanity/

Now that you’re back, here’s my comments.

Frontier tried hard in Sarah A. Hoyt’s experience to “frame the narrative” by blaming a hailstorm for causing massive travel interruptions five days later.  While this may be true to a degree (Frontier’s airline flight “fleet” is smaller than some), not telling travelers anything in advance — before they ever get to the airline — under these circumstances was wrong, stupid, pointless, and unnecessary.  Such an attempted narrative framing didn’t pass muster with a gifted editor and writer like Hoyt; they should’ve known better than to try.

And after reading Hoyt’s narrative, I need to ask this question:  why on Earth would anyone want to fly Frontier Airlines knowing that this had happened?  

You don’t need to be a SF&F fan to understand the problems here.  The level of indifference from Frontier’s employees that Hoyt reported is disgusting and shouldn’t be allowed to continue.  (And please, take it as read that I view Hoyt’s recollection as reliable.  She’s one of the “good ones.”  She’s not the type to stir up trouble just for the sake of it . . . though she won’t take garbage lying down and I don’t blame her at all.)

So, in the spirit of letting people know what has happened, even though I do not know Hoyt well (have reviewed some books of hers — excellent, all of ’em in any genre), I’m passing this along for your enlightenment. 

Considering it further, I can’t help but wonder why it was that these Frontier folks didn’t offer any hypoglycemic or diabetic-friendly snacks.  Not everyone is 15 — and even at that, some 15 year olds have juvenile diabetes, right?  So those people passing out granola bars and other sugary snacks while Hoyt was waiting in a three-hour long line just was stupid all the way around.  (Wouldn’t cheese and crackers have worked better?  Or even peanut butter and crackers?  How about some vegetables or even an apple or two?)

But that’s just one of the many stupidities Hoyt endured during her recent trip back from LibertyCon in Tennessee . . . awful, the whole thing.  Just awful.

The only good thing represented here is the comments section.  Did you notice the outstanding friends Hoyt has?   Kate Paulk.  Amanda Green.  Lin W. — probably a Baen Barfly.  Several other people I know by reputation or inference due to my previous incarnation as a Baen Barfly.

But that won’t make up for what Hoyt endured.  Nothing will, at this point.

At any rate, if I need to fly at all in the near future, I will definitely put Frontier Airlines far, far down the list.  I suggest you do the same.

Written by Barb Caffrey

July 23, 2011 at 2:33 pm

Brewers Play Giants; My Thoughts

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My late husband Michael was a San Francisco Giants fan.

Of course, this isn’t surprising, considering he was a long-time San Francisco resident.  That his father and mother both supported the Giants, as did his brother and sister . . . well, that probably helped a little, though Michael wasn’t the type to join in just for the sake of joining.

Nope.  He loved baseball because it was — and is — a game that can be measured.  Baseball statistics make sense, to the degree that different eras can be compared and contrasted, as are various players, their situations and their teams.

Michael loved his Giants.  Which is why me watching my Milwaukee Brewers team play them is ever so slightly bittersweet.

I keep thinking about how Michael would enjoy this year’s Giants team as much as he would’ve enjoyed last year’s — the 2011 Giants once again have stellar pitching, defense, and play well as a team, all things Michael appreciated as a long-time baseball fan.  But, of course, it’s my Brewers playing the Giants — the Brewers, who mostly live and die by the long ball.  By the big inning.  Who aren’t exactly known for their skills at base-stealing, small ball, or for any of their starting pitchers.

I mean, think about it.  Who do you know on the Giants pitching staff that’s a big name?  Tim Lincecum.  Matt Cain, who’s pitching tonight.  Barry Zito, though he’s not done well this year and hasn’t justified the huge amount of money the Giants spent on him a few years ago.  Jonathan Sanchez, perhaps the best #5 pitcher in baseball.  And previously-unknown Ryan Vogelsong, perhaps the best story in baseball this year as he went from getting his outright release in 2010 to having the best ERA in baseball — 2.02 — in 2011, with a 7-1 record in fifteen starts.

Whereas the Brewers have two pitchers who’ve pitched reasonably well throughout — Shaun Marcum, who’s pitching tonight, and Randy Wolf.  Then, we have two wildly inconsistent pitchers who can be either really good or really bad — Zack Greinke and Yovani Gallardo.  And, finally, we have Chris Narveson, a guy who is better known for his bat than his pitching, though he’s had a decent year thus far.  And let’s not even start about the Brewers defense, as I could go all day about how many ways the infield in particular needs improvement (only Rickie Weeks is relatively solid at second, though he does not have great range; Casey McGehee has had some good moments but mostly isn’t known for his glove; Prince Fielder’s fielding has regressed this season, so he’s once again a well below average first baseman who holds his position due to his fearsome bat; and, of course, Yuniesky Betancourt, who hits better than he fields, but doesn’t exactly hit a ton considering his overall .250 batting average coming into tonight’s game).

I have mixed feelings here, because I see how the Giants are by far the superior team.  The Giants have pitching, defense, and overall team chemistry, even if they don’t hit particularly well . . . their pitching makes up for a great deal, which is how they win games.  While the Brewers have hitting, hitting, and more hitting, with some good outfield defense (Corey Hart in RF is good, Ryan Braun has really improved in LF but hasn’t been healthy recently, while Nyjer Morgan plays a decent center field and has speed — mind, losing Carlos Gomez due to a broken collarbone hasn’t helped), some good to better pitching amidst massive inconsistency, and more hitting.

So it’s a battle of two different styles of baseball being played out tonight in this Brewers-Giants game (currently, as I write this, the Brewers lead 3-1 in the top of the sixth).   Good to excellent hitting versus good to excellent pitching and outstanding defense.  A worthy game, one which I’ll enjoy as best I can, wishing all the while that my wonderful husband were still alive to share it with me.

Still.  I am here, and I see at least some of what Michael would’ve seen in the Giants, as I’m also a long-time baseball fan who appreciates excellent pitching and defense.   I can’t recreate a conversation which didn’t have a chance to happen, though I know what sorts of comments Michael made when he and I watched his Giants play in 2002, 2003 and 2004 . . . I suppose because I’m thinking so much about what he would’ve seen had he been here to observe it, at least a small part of Michael has survived.

And that, at least, is a good thing.  As is the enjoyment I get from watching my Brewers and Michael’s Giants.