Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Archive for October 25th, 2011

Texas Rangers lead in World Series, 3-2; Tony LaRussa’s Mismanagement Steals Show

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What would baseball be without a little controversy?

Amidst the Texas Rangers convincing 4-2 win over the St. Louis Cardinals last evening, there were a bunch of odd managerial decisions that made absolutely no sense by Tony LaRussa.

Consider this:

A pitcher, Lance Lynn, was called in to pitch when he’d been told he’d “only pitch in an emergency situation” before the game began.  (Lynn walked the only batter he faced intentionally, as once he was in the game, by rule, he had to face one batter before he could be removed.)

The bullpen coach, Derek Lilliquist, didn’t hear the right name when Tony LaRussa had called asking to get bullpen specialist Jason Motte up, which is why Lynn was up and pitching; Lilliquist, inexplicably, heard the wrong name (or at least that’s what everyone’s saying now).  That the names “Lynn” and “Motte” do not sound remotely the same makes no nevermind.

And third, because Motte wasn’t up and called in when he was supposed to be, Texas had two guys on rather than one when Rangers’ catcher Mike Napoli came up; Napoli hit a two-run double (when if LaRussa had properly managed to convey that he wanted Motte in there a batter earlier, only one run would’ve scored at maximum rather than two), and that was the ballgame.

Yahoo Sports writer Jeff Passan has an excellent article about this here; for now, I want to give you a few of his thoughts, because I find them both cogent and compelling.

Passan writes:

Seriously, La Russa wants people to believe that he, the most controlling of control-freak managers, would let a failure the magnitude of his best reliever not warming up go by without a trillion precautions to ensure it didn’t happen again? The guy who, when the bullpen phone malfunctioned earlier this year, sent one of his players sprinting from bench to bullpen to relay instructions – he would sit there idly in a swing game of the World Series and leave his chances up to a set of ears on the other end that blew the first conversation?

Inconsistencies between La Russa and Lilliquist’s stories were plentiful enough that it’s impossible to know what is truth and what isn’t. There could be more. Did La Russa forget the number of outs when he walked Cruz? Did he forget to mention Motte’s name on the first phone call? Most important, in what universe does “Motte” sound like “Lynn”? Especially a Lynn who isn’t supposed to throw.

As Passan says, this story doesn’t fly.  And quite frankly, it makes me wonder if LaRussa was having a “senior moment” with regards to this huge mistake in judgment, considering the amount of “cover your rear” that’s going on today over it all.

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 25, 2011 at 10:33 pm

Dancing with the Stars Update: Chaz Bono Voted Off

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Folks, I suppose it shouldn’t surprise me any that Chaz Bono was voted off earlier tonight during the “results” portion of “Dancing with the Stars,” but it does sadden me.

As I said last night in this post, I believed Bono wasn’t given enough credit for what he actually did during his tango.

Now, was Bono’s tango with professional dance partner Lacey Schwimmer a flawless dance?  Of course not.  But it was interesting, entertaining, and I think Bono performed it to the best of his ability.

There were plenty of performances last night that didn’t entertain me half so much as Bono’s, including that of soccer star Hope Solo and her professional partner, Maksim Chmerikovskiy.  Chmerikovsky had a well-publicized rant that I won’t reproduce here that went to the effect that Solo is being asked to do more than “other contestants, who are only judged on effort” (Chmerikovskiy said this tonight during DWTS, which is why I was able to reproduce it nearly word-for-word) — more or less calling out Chaz Bono and possibly Nancy Grace, as Grace has to be the worst dancer left now that Bono is gone (Grace also has half the charm and less than half the personality of Bono; what she does have is a cute partner, Tristan MacManus, though Schwimmer is a beautiful woman and has a following of her own due to several seasons on DWTS and a season on “So You Think You Can Dance” years ago).

I chose to focus on Bono rather than Chmerikovskiy’s rant because to me, as a performer, what Bono was going through was obvious.  He had just done his best; it wasn’t perfect, but he did something way outside his comfort zone, and aside from his partner Schwimmer (and maybe the rest of the cast, who all seemed to love Bono like he was a long-lost brother), Bono got no appreciation for it.  That judge Bruno Tonioli called Bono a “cute little penguin” didn’t sit well with Bono, as we saw during tonight’s results episode, where some of the “behind the scenes” stuff from last evening was played — Bono said that he was tired of being called “some fat troll who’s dancing with the beautiful girl” (referring to his partner, Schwimmer, who really is a beautiful woman) and that Tonioli, in particular, kept saying this about Bono.

I know that hosts Tom Bergeron and Brooke Burke-Charvet were worried that Bono would lose it on stage due to how angry he was due to last night’s comments from head judge Len Goodman and Tonioli, but Bono was gracious.  He thanked the cast of DWTS; he thanked them for the opportunity, and said that his whole mission was to give others the idea that there could be a “different kind of man,” at which point Schwimmer hooted and hollered in obvious support.  (Good for her!)

I think Bono acquitted himself well on DWTS and I really enjoyed watching him dance.  I also believe Schwimmer should be commended on three fronts: she helped Bono learn to dance, she helped Bono withstand the criticism of being DWTS’s first ever transsexual contestant, and she was honest with him about his ability and his strengths from the first.

I hope Bono realizes what Schwimmer has done here, as it goes well beyond a teacher who’s proud of her pupil.  Schwimmer actively supported Bono and treated him just like any other guy; she saw him as male (which, of course, he is), she saw him as worthy of praise and criticism just like anyone else, and she did what she could to help him withstand the unnecessary criticism she knew he was likely to get from some of the judges.

Now, Bono also made one other point in those revealing “after-the-Monday-dance comments” — he said that the bigger women (referring to Nancy Grace and Ricki Lake) were praised for losing weight, but that his weight loss had gone unobserved and/or uncommented on.   Schwimmer definitely seemed to understand this; she’s had large, male partners before (Kyle Massey immediately comes to mind) and she knows from her own father, Buddy Schwimmer, that bigger men can indeed learn to dance and dance very well.

I hope that Bono will take away three things from his DWTS experience:

1) He has made a true friend, Lacey Schwimmer — and her friendship is worth having.

2) He learned how to dance several dances (cha cha, rhumba, tango, samba, quickstep, and one more).

3) He has a winning personality and the ability to persevere amidst a huge amount of psychological and physical strain.

If he keeps all of that in mind and dwells on what he did right rather than the DWTS judges commentary, the world could indeed be his oyster.

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 25, 2011 at 10:13 pm

WI D Legislators Pro-Jobs; WI Rs Dither; Scott Walker Recall Starts Nov. 15

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Last night at the Roma Lodge in Racine, WI, there was a jobs forum sponsored by the Wisconsin AFL-CIO where four state Democratic legislators showed up — Representative Robert Turner (D-Racine), Representative Cory Mason (D-Racine), Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha — also a former United States Representative for district 1, which includes Racine and Kenosha), and Senator Bob Wirch (D-Kenosha).  The Democrats listened patiently to the concerns of Racine residents, which included the following comments (pulled from this article from the Racine Journal-Times):

Barbara Rankin of Kenosha, 78, told the four legislators that of the sixty-six people in her family, only four have jobs that pay over $10 an hour.  “Jobs shouldn’t be that hard to get,” she said.

According to the Journal-Times article, person after person stood up to talk about their problems with jobs.  They mentioned looming cuts to the Racine bus budget, the need for a casino in Kenosha (or something to replace Dairyland Greyhound Park, which closed at the end of 2010), and the need for greater funding for technical colleges, which also got their budgets cut as part of the Scott Walker budget bill earlier this year.

This is why Scott Walker needs to be recalled, folks, in an nutshell; Walker’s done nothing to help Wisconsin workers find jobs for nearly a year, yet he ran on a “pro-jobs” platform.  I’m tired of Walker “talking the talk” but refusing to “walk the walk,” and the other Rs in the Legislature are obviously taking their cues largely from him.

Now, what are the other Wisconsin Rs doing in response to this?  Not a whole lot.  Senator Van Wanggaard, R-Racine, recently killed a bill that would’ve prevented the state’s main utility company (WE Energies) from charging customers for faulty meters, despite this bill being proposed by another member of his own party, Mike Ellis (R-Neenah — also the President of the Senate). 

Yes, that’s right — Wanggaard voted against consumers.  Against the people of his own district.  (Why am I unsurprised?)

Wanggaard has also recently drafted a “jobs bill” — as in, finally in October of 2011, nearly a full year after he was sworn into the state Senate, he’s finally figured out that we’re in a jobs crisis.  That the City of Racine, the area he currently represents, has consistently had 13% to 14% reportable unemployment for the past three years or more (those of us working part-time don’t count on that; those of us who’ve fallen off the unemployment rolls also do not count) — of course, Wanggaard will soon represent the counties of Racine and Kenosha, who aren’t doing so bad, due to the 2011 state Legislature’s gerrymandered map; perhaps that’s why Wanggaard doesn’t care too much about the City of Racine as he knows his days as its Senator are numbered?

Now, apparently Wanggaard had this jobs bill on his mind for at least a month, as I was able to find a reference to it back to September 12, 2011.  And much of it, I actually agree with (from the Milwaukee television channel’s Fox 6 News report of the same date):

Sen. Wanggaard’s proposal would provide help for hiring. The plan would give businesses a $5,000 tax credit if they hire someone unemployed for more than 60 days and keep that employee for more than a year. Rep. Wanggaard says, “We can’t continue to throw money at things that aren’t working. We’ve got to think outside the box.”

I agree.

Going on, Wanggaard also says that the current situation is “unacceptable.”  Again, I agree.

But was he at this jobs forum?  No, he wasn’t — and my guess is, he probably did know about it as courtesy invitations usually go out to both sides.

Going back to the Journal-Times article I referenced above, Rep. Cory Mason said this situation is awful:

“It is a sad state of affairs in the United States of America, where you can work full time and still be poor,” Mason said.

I agree, wholeheartedly.

At any rate, the recall of Scott Walker will start on November 15, 2011.  I plan to be out there on the first day getting signatures, because I believe Walker has failed — failed on jobs, and failed as a Governor, period.

And while I do not know when the recall of Van Wanggaard will start, whenever it does, I’m going to be right there, too — because to me, it’s flat unacceptable that Wanggaard hasn’t done any better in the ten months he’s had in office to get any new jobs into Racine City (or County).