Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Archive for January 2013

Down with the Flu . . .

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. . . and take that any way you want.

So far, 2013 has shaped up to be a year full of illness, frustration and pain.  I haven’t enjoyed it, but I have continued to do whatever I can despite all of the various things that have cropped up.

I saw my sister last week, which is a good thing.  Unfortunately, she came up with a particularly nasty case of the flu and let me know she’d been diagnosed with the same on Monday.

Despite all of the various things that have hit me within the last two or three months, I haven’t yet had an “official” flu diagnosis.  (Merely “flu-like symptoms” or a secondary infection — usually a sinus infection, occasionally a respiratory ailment as well — but not an actual diagnosis calling for Tamiflu or any of the other drugs that can help minimize a case of the flu.)  And it’s possible that this isn’t the flu either, though it assuredly feels like it as it came on suddenly within the last twenty-four hours and has disorganized my thinking like no one’s business.

So my hope is that it will leave suddenly, also.

If so, it wouldn’t be the flu — it might instead by that Australian norovirus I’ve heard about, which has a duration of 48-72 hours of nastiness for most people, then runs its course — but that doesn’t mean it’s any less distressing to deal with.

Topping it all off, I was midway through a story that I’d planned to submit to an anthology in a few days.  I don’t know this particular editor (I won’t name her), though I do know her writing . . . anyway, I’d introduced myself, told her a bit about my story and she said she’d look forward to reading it.

Now I may not be able to finish the story, which really bothers me as it shows a lack of professionalism.  (And to me, being anything less than a pro in every area is deeply disturbing.)

This particular anthology has a deadline of February 1.  I’ve known about it since early October — just before I took on the Bleacher Report internship, in fact — and thought about what I wanted to do that would meet the requirements of the anthology.  I had finally come up with what I thought was a winning idea . . .

. . . and am now too ill to finish the dratted thing up.

I do have tomorrow to make a stab at it, and if I can finish it up and believe it’s credible, I will try.

But the chances to do so do not look promising.

I know, however, that if I can finish this story, albeit more slowly than I’d like — providing I can do so before March 31, that is — I can try the Writers of the Future contest one more time as ELFY still isn’t out (I’m still going over copy-editing changes and have been asked to make one, last pass of my own in addition), not even in ARC format (that’s “advanced reader copy” to thee and me).  I may still be eligible even for the June quarter (though I’m unsure); I do know I’ll be eligible for the March 31 quarter.

So maybe not all is lost, no matter how it looks right now.

In the past few days, I did do some editing on some paying projects and a little bit of writing (I got all of 300 words into it yesterday before stalling, again).  So it’s not that I’ve done nothing whatsoever this week . . . far, far from it.

I just haven’t been able to get this done when it counts.  And that vexes me.


Written by Barb Caffrey

January 31, 2013 at 10:30 pm

Posted in Writing

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Copy-Editing Internship Ends, and Other Updates

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As of yesterday — Friday, January 25, 2013 — I am no longer a copy-editing intern at Bleacher Report.

Now, this is not a bad thing.  Not at all, in fact, because it means I have successfully completed my twelve-week internship.

During this time, I have fought illness and had some other family health issues that came into play.  My energy levels have been low, particularly in late December and all throughout this month.  I haven’t played a concert for the UW-Parkside Community Band since last May due to everything going on (though I have played several for the Racine Concert Band) and my writing definitely hasn’t been where I want it to be.

But I have continued to persist.

I also learned a new “house style” — for non-editors, this is what Bleacher Report expected articles to look like and what ways terms were either capitalized, hyphenated (or not) or otherwise emphasized.  This was the first time I’d had to learn a new stylistic language in at least fourteen years, so that in and of itself is an accomplishment.

And, of course, every site is different. Some places want you to write “website” as all one word with no capitalization.  Some want you to write it in my preferred way, “Web site.”  Some write “Website” with a capital W.

It’s the little differences that set different sites apart.  Which is why learning “house styles” can be either a blessing or a headache, take your pick.  (Even though sometimes, it’s both.)

Finishing up my internship without being able to call my friend Jeff and let him know what happened (as I’m sure he’d have been up on it) was difficult.  I have always felt bittersweet when something ends . . . many of us do, I know, so I’m far from the only one.  Still, he understood me quite well (as I understood him) and he’d know this was a major accomplishment.

I really wish he’d have been alive to hear me talk about it.

Of course, had my husband Michael still been alive to this date, he and I would’ve gone out to celebrate in some way or another.  He’d have told me that doing something like this to maximize my chances at a paying job in the only section of the publishing industry that seems to possibly be expanding (or at least not contracting, as sports is a big business, I love sports and understand ’em, so why not?) was a shrewd career move whether it pays off in the short run or not.  And he’d have told me over and over again how much he admired me for doing this when I’m hardly fresh out of college (not even fresh out of my Master’s program) . . . even though I know what he’d have said, I wish he had been here to say it.  (Michael was uniformly encouraging and believed very strongly in me and my abilities as a writer and editor.  Even when I didn’t believe in myself, he always believed.  That’s why I will love him forever.)

And of course I really wish Michael were still alive, too . . . goodness alone knows what we’d have done as writers and editors had he survived the four heart attacks in 2004, but I’m sure it would’ve been amazing.

I like to think that everything I do will matter, both to Michael and Jeff, whenever I see them next.  And I do think I will see them again, and know them, and be able to continue on as before in whatever way the soul goes on in eternity.

Knowing that, some days, is all that keeps me focused.

Aside from that, I thought I’d pass along a few other updates. I’m still going through ELFY, part 1, with my publisher’s blessing, but I hope to have all changes back soon. (Yes, that’s my coy way of saying ELFY is to be split without actually saying it.  Though I just did anyway, so all that coyness really didn’t work.  Ah, well.) I don’t know if there will be different names given to parts 1 and 2 at this point.  I do know that ELFY is coming out only as an e-book, but that’s fine with me as it’s miles better than where I was a year ago.

I’m taking another week off from reviewing anything over at Shiny Book Review, but Jason Cordova reviewed Sarah A. Hoyt’s DARKSHIP RENEGADES a few days ago.  So do take a look.

And in a non-personal update, Corey Hart did indeed end up having knee surgery after he got his second opinion.  Most sports sites (like Hardball Talk) have Hart penciled out of the lineup until May.  My hunch is that Hart, if he heals anything close to as quickly as he did the last time, will be back by mid-April at the latest.

In closing . . . while the internship is over, life goes on.  I’ll continue to do whatever I can to write, edit, comment and figure out what happens as best I’m able . . . and if there are further updates in this quarter (one would hope there would be at some point with either writing, editing or life in general) I’ll keep you posted.

And who knows?  Maybe by next week I’ll have enough energy to write a book review or two.  (I have several hanging fire, one a non-fiction book about space from Travis Taylor and Stephanie Osborn, three great books from K.E. Kimbriel and two books by Veronica Roth to get to, among others.)

Here’s hoping.

Written by Barb Caffrey

January 26, 2013 at 5:01 pm

Posted in Editing, Writing

Remembering Earl Weaver, Plus a Corey Hart Update

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This past Saturday (January 19, 2012 to be exact), news broke regarding the passing of Hall of Fame manager Earl Weaver. Weaver managed the Baltimore Orioles for his entire career and had a 1480-1060 record, good for fifth-best among 20th century managers who managed for ten years or more.

But that’s not what I remember most about Weaver.

Nope.  I remember Weaver as a firecracker, someone who loved to bait the umpires and held the record for most ejections in a career (with 91 regular-season ejections by most counts) until Bobby Cox later came along and broke it.  (But don’t fret, Weaver fans; he still holds the American League record for ejections.)

Weaver was a great manager, don’t get me wrong.  And he certainly beat my Milwaukee Brewers team more often than not, though we did win against Weaver and his Orioles in 1982 in the final game of the season.  (Don Sutton out-dueled Jim Palmer in Baltimore.  Had the Brewers lost that game, the Orioles would’ve advanced to the 1982 ALCS and the Brewers would’ve gone home, there being no wild cards back then.)

Here’s how Sports Illustrated described Weaver:

Anointed as “Baltimore’s resident genius” by Sports Illustrated‘s June 18, 1979 cover, Weaver was a 5-foot-7 spitfire whose irascibility was exceeded only by his tactical acumen; imagine Ozzie Guillen’s profanity crossed with Lou Piniella’s explosiveness, multiplied by Tony LaRussa’s mastery of roster usage. Weaver’s tirades against umpires were legendary; he holds the AL career record for ejections with 94. In 1969, he became the first manager thrown out of a World Series game in more than 60 years. In 1975, he was run from both games of a doubleheader in by umpire and longtime nemesis Ron Luciano, the second time during the exchange of lineup cards, then ejected again by Luciano the next day.

Mind you, Ron Luciano was one of the most colorful umpires in MLB history, and wasn’t likely to get along with someone as equally colorful as himself.

Not that Weaver was easy for any umpire to get along with.  Don Denkinger said this in an article by the Associated Press (via Yahoo Sports):

Former umpire Don Denkinger said he called one of Weaver’s last games in the majors.

”He comes to home plate before the game and says, ‘Gentlemen, I’m done.’ He told us the only way he’d ever come back is if he ran out of money,” Denkinger told The Associated Press by phone from Arizona. ”I told him that if he ever ran out of money to call the umpires’ association and we’d take up a collection for him. We’d do anything, just to keep him off the field and away from us.”

But Weaver had a slightly softer side.  Again according to Denkinger (from the above-mentioned AP article):

Umpires found out just how demonstrative Weaver could be.  Denkinger remembered a game in which the manager disputed a call with Larry McCoy at the plate.

”Earl tells us, ‘Now I’m gonna show you how stupid you all are.’ Earl goes down to first base and ejects the first base umpire. Then he goes to second base and ejects the second base umpire. I’m working third base and now he comes down and ejects me,” Denkinger said.

Much later, after they were retired, the umpire asked Weaver to sign a photo of that episode.

”He said absolutely. I sent it to him, he signed it and said some really nice things. It’s framed and hanging up in my office back home in Iowa,” Denkinger said.

I remember many games where I sat in the stands at old Milwaukee County Stadium, watching the Milwaukee Brewers play Weaver’s Orioles.  Weaver was a brilliant statistician, something I didn’t fully appreciate at the time (especially as it always seemed whenever I went to a Brewers-Orioles game, the Brewers were going to end up on the short end of the stick).  But he was an even better motivator, which is why he knew how to get the best out of such players as Mark Belanger (a defensive specialist who regularly hit below the “Mendoza line”), John Lowenstein and Terry Crowley.

Here’s a bit from the SI article, quoting a well-known “underground” audiotape of an interview Weaver did with broadcaster Tom Marr:

Weaver was known for assembling productive platoons, and nurturing exceptional pinch-hitters who could turn a game around. In this legendary 1980 “Manager’s Corner” interview recorded with broadcaster Tom Marr as a gag after a flubbed take — unaired but widely circulated since then (and again not safe for work) — he extolled the virtues of one of his long-time benchwarmers:

Terry Crowley is lucky he’s in ——- baseball for Chrissake. He was released by the Cincinnati Reds, he was released by the ——- ——- Atlanta Braves. We saw that Terry Crowley could sit on his ——- ass for eight innings and enjoy watching a baseball game just like any other fan, and has the ability to get up there and break one open in the ——- ninth.

Weaver believed in pitching, defense and a three-run home run (one of his most widely-shared sayings).  And for the most part, he had the pitchers to back up that philosophy in Jim Palmer, Mike Cuellar, Steve Stone, Mike Flanagan, Pat Dobson and Dave McNally, among others.  He also had the acumen to move Cal Ripken, Jr., from third base to shortstop during Ripken, Jr.’s rookie year.

Weaver’s managerial record is extremely impressive.  His demeanor on the field was that of a fiery Napoleon, which was fitting considering Weaver might’ve been 5’7″ on the tallest day of his life — exceptionally short for a major league anything, much less a manager.

And Weaver even has a Wisconsin connection (aside from all those games against the Brewers): He managed the Appleton Foxes (now known as the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers) in 1960 to a 82-59 record and a league championship according to, and is ensconced in Appleton’s Baseball Hall of Fame for that season alone.

With all of Weaver’s potty-mouthed tendencies, he was also known as a devoted family man.  He was married, only once, for forty-eight years.

With all of that color, and all of that style and all of those umpire-baiting moments (not to mention the chain-smoking and his well-known penchant for conducting post game interviews in the nude — back in the clubhouse, of course), Weaver will never be forgotten by anyone who ever saw him manage.

Now for something completely different: Brewers RF-1B Corey Hart has decided to seek a second opinion regarding his right knee issues, so surgery has been delayed.  According to, the MRI of Hart’s knee has been sent to Dr. Richard Steadman in Vail, CO.  Depending on what Dr. Steadman thinks of the MRI, the doctor may or may not wish to consult with Hart in person.

The Brewers assistant GM Gord Ash said this in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article via Yahoo Sports about Hart’s delayed surgery:

“Until we get past this step, we don’t know what the next step will be,” Brewers assistant general manager Gord Ash said, according to the (Milwaukee) Journal Sentinel. “Time is of the essence, so we’re hoping it won’t be delayed that long. It’s hard to say right now.”

My take?  I understand Hart’s caution.  He’s already endured one knee surgery on that knee already, and he probably would prefer not to have to go through another one.  Plus, he’s in the final year of a three-year contract and has wanted the Brewers to give him an extension as he wants to join Ryan Braun as potential “Brewers for life.”

The Brewers will not even bother offering Hart an extension if he can’t play, no matter how much heart he showed at the end of the 2012 season while continuing to play on a ruptured plantar fascia.  And no matter how much heart he showed by moving, midseason, to an unfamiliar position in order to better benefit the Brewers after Mat Gamel went down with an injury.

But unless there’s something really odd on that MRI, it’s highly unlikely that Hart will be able to avoid surgery.

What I’m guessing — and mind you, it’s only a guess — that Hart wants out of this second opinion is to perhaps endure a lesser knee surgery that will allow him to heal more quickly.

The current surgical plan would cause Hart to stay completely off his knee in a non-weight bearing capacity for six full weeks after the surgery.  But Hart’s a workout fiend.  He’s known for it.  So being completely off his knee, unable to do any weight-bearing exercises, is likely to make him stir-crazy.

And when you add in the contract issues to the whole mix, I can see why Hart would rather have someone else look at the MRI in order to see if any other course of action will bring about a good result.

However, as a Brewers fan, I’d like to see the speedy Corey Hart of old return to the basepaths.  That can’t happen unless he goes through the currently planned knee surgery, rests up, and then enjoys better flexibility and range of motion in his knee and foot thereby.  (I know the plantar fascia issues seem to have improved, but I won’t really know how Hart can run until he’s able to get to spring training and give it a shot.  Or get into rehabilitation, go to the minors and work his way up to the majors, whichever one is doable.)

That’s why I urge Hart to err on the side of caution with regards to this surgery.  I know it may mean a lesser payday in 2014 if he really can’t play until mid-May or later.  I know it may mean he’ll end up with a different team entirely if the Brewers are unwilling to give him a new contract (or an extension if he really burns it up upon his return).

But I want to see him healthy again, able to run the bases with greater abandon (and without knee and foot pain, natch) and to play at his full capacity.

As great as Hart’s 2013 season was (.270 average, 30 homers and 83 RBI), I believe he will feel a whole lot better once the surgery has been completed and the rehab done.  And once he feels much better, he’s likely to hit even better and maybe even make a few more All-Star teams.

Let’s just hope the Brewers have the sense to lock him up to a new multi-year deal before his stock dramatically rises, post-surgery.

Written by Barb Caffrey

January 23, 2013 at 1:58 am

Brewers 1B Corey Hart to Have Knee Surgery, Miss Spring Training

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News broke Friday afternoon regarding Milwaukee Brewers first baseman/right fielder Corey Hart, as he’s slated to have knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus this upcoming Tuesday according to this article from the Associated Press (via Yahoo Sports).

Tom Haudricourt, the long-time Brewers “beat writer” for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, interviewed Brewers assistant general manager Gord Ash for his Friday article (and previous blog post on the same subject).  In both places, Ash said two things: one, the Brewers still have Mat Gamel on the roster.  This is significant because Gamel started 2012 as the starting first baseman for the team, and only vacated that role due to a knee injury he suffered while fielding a foul ball in San Diego in late April.  And two, it’s better for this injury to have happened now rather than right before the start of the season.

While both things are true — as is Corey Hart’s assertion that he’s a “fast healer,” considering how quickly Hart returned from surgery last season (he was supposed to miss some or all of April, but ended up starting Opening Day in right field just as he — and the Brewers — had planned) — this is still not a good thing.

I have nothing against Mat Gamel and think he will make a good everyday player if he’s given a chance.  Gamel’s fielding in the short stretch of games he had before hitting that pothole in San Diego due to inadequate field maintenance was quite good.  His hitting was acceptable for so early in the year (Gamel was batting .246).  And there’s every reason to believe Gamel would’ve done an adequate-to-better job at first base.

However, Corey Hart did an excellent job at first base after being moved there midway through the season.  His batting did not suffer, either, as he hit 30 home runs, drove in 83 RBI, and batted .270 (his average suffered somewhat in September due to playing on a sprained-or-worse plantar fascia, which brought his overall average down).  Hart is one of the “big three” on the Brewers and is counted on along with Ryan Braun and Aramis Ramirez to keep the Brewers in games.

(And did I mention that Hart is a two-time All-Star?  No?  My bad.)

The Brewers currently have a starting rotation with only one proven, dependable guy — Yovani Gallardo — which is why it’s imperative that all the strong bats the Brewers possess be in the lineup.  The other Brewers who could possibly be starting pitchers include last year’s “swingman” Marco Estrada, who filled in capably for the injured Chris Narveson; Narveson, who’s coming back from a serious arm injury and may be on a limited pitch count all year, which will limit his effectiveness as a starter; second-year starter Michael Fiers; and outright rookies Mark Rogers, Wily Peralta and Tyler Thornburg.  These six men will battle it out for the four remaining starting pitching positions, but it’s impossible to know how many — if any — will be successful.

Let’s just say that the possible starters for the Brewers, with the exception of Gallardo, don’t exactly scare anyone and leave it at that.

At any rate, Yahoo Sports writer Jeff Passan’s latest column on the Brewers (a preseason lookover written before the news about Hart’s injury broke) said that Ryan Braun’s big bat isn’t enough to overcome the lack of quality starters.  And that’s likely to be true.

My worry is this: How much difficulty are the Brewers likely to have scoring runs when Hart’s not in the lineup?  (Because before Gamel got hurt, Hart was playing every day in right field.  So it wasn’t like Gamel was taking Hart’s place — instead, after Gamel got injured, Hart moved over there and Norichika Aoki played in right field every day.)

My take?  Hart will come back strong, but I hope he doesn’t rush himself.  He’s in the final year of a three-year contract and will be a free agent at the end of 2013 unless the Brewers give him a contract extension, which is unlikely until he actually gets on the field and performs at a high level again.

If the Brewers do not have the sense to give Hart an extension, he needs to be at full strength in order to show the rest of the league just how good he is.

I really hope the Brewers will re-sign Hart, mind you.  But I’m very nervous, as I’m afraid the Brewers might be too short-sighted to realize just what they have in Hart until he’s gone.

Written by Barb Caffrey

January 19, 2013 at 4:20 am

Notre Dame Football and Rape Victims — Why You Should Care

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There’s a scandal that’s been long a-brewing in Notre Dame . . . and no, it’s not related to star football player Manti Te’o or his fake girlfriend.

No, it’s much worse than that.

It’s about at least one rape, by at least one Notre Dame football player, that’s apparently been covered up by higher-ups at Notre Dame.  It’s about that coverup, and about how the Athletic Director of Notre Dame, Jack Swarbrick, would rather discuss the Te’o situation, bizarre though that is, than the reputed sexual assault (or assaults).  And it’s about the abuse of trust by Catholic priests, who are in positions of power in the Notre Dame hierarchy and are apparently much more concerned about the big money coming in via Notre Dame’s football program than any justice for rape victims.

Now, you might be asking, “Why do you keep saying ‘victims’ in this case, when only one (unnamed) football player has been implicated in the latest scandal?”  Well, it’s simple.  As Melinda Henneberger, herself a Notre Dame graduate, reported in the National Catholic Reporter back on March 26, 2012:

On her way back to St. Mary’s College from the University of Notre Dame, just across the street in Notre Dame, Ind., freshman Lizzy Seeberg texted her therapist that she needed to talk ASAP. “Something bad happened,” read her message, sent at 11:39 p.m. on Aug. 31, 2010. A sophomore in their dorm bolted from her study group after getting a similar message. When they talked a few minutes later, Lizzy was crying so hard she was having trouble breathing: “She looked really flushed and was breathing heavily and talking really fast; I couldn’t understand her. I just heard her say ‘boy,’ ‘Notre Dame,’ ‘football player.’ She was crying and having the closest thing to a panic attack I’ve seen in my life. I told her to breathe and sit down and tell me everything.”

Lizzy Seeberg”s story is the main one under discussion, as she reported the crime to the police.  She wanted justice to be done.  But then, as Henneberger’s account clearly shows, Lizzy Seeberg was pressured by various people at Notre Dame (mostly students) to drop the case.

Instead of dropping it, she committed suicide.

But Henneberger uncovered other current troubles.  As she wrote later:

Lizzy wanted it to be better for the next woman. But one subsequent case, never reported until now, involved another young woman who decided that you really don’t mess with Notre Dame football. A year ago February, a female Notre Dame student who said another football player had raped her at an off-campus party told the friend who drove her to the hospital afterward that it was with Lizzy in mind that she decided against filing a complaint, that friend said.

So, did you catch that?  Here another woman was raped, but did not go forward with her story because she, too, was afraid of being pressured.

Here’s another tidbit from Henneberger’s article:

One Notre Dame parent and longtime donor I interviewed, who asked that his name not be used because his daughter had reported being raped by a fellow Notre Dame student, said a top university official told him Lizzy was without question the aggressor in the situation: “She was all over the boy.”

So it’s obvious that the Notre Dame higher-ups appear to be seriously into blaming the victim.  But they didn’t want to have to admit that’s what they were doing, which is why it was all innuendo, rumor and guess.

As Henneberger points out:

In a sense, Lizzy’s ordeal didn’t end with her death. The damage to her memory since then is arguably more of a violation than anything she reported to police — and all the more shocking because it was not done thoughtlessly, by a kid in a moment he can’t take back, but on purpose, by the very adults who heavily market the moral leadership of a Catholic institution. Notre Dame’s mission statement could not be clearer: “The university is dedicated to the pursuit and sharing of truth for its own sake.” But in this case, the university did just the opposite.

Henneberger also wrote a column for the Washington Post (her regular gig) explaining why she would not be rooting for Notre Dame in the BCS National Championship.  As she put it:

It’s not only what I believe went on at that off-campus party, or in the room of the player Lizzy accused, that makes it impossible for me to support the team, though that would be enough. The problem goes deeper than that, and higher, because the man Lizzy accused had a history of behavior that should have kept him from being recruited in the first place. And as bad in my book as the actions of those young men was the determination of the considerably older men who run N.D. to keep those players on the team in an effort to win some football games.

Among those being congratulated for our return to gridiron glory is ND’s president, Rev. John Jenkins, who refused to meet with the Seeberg family on advice of counsel, and other school officials who’ve whispered misleadingly in many ears, mine included, in an attempt to protect the school’s brand by smearing a dead 19-year-old.

And that smearing was brutal.  This was a young woman who volunteered her time at her local church.  She was a political conservative (not that it matters).  She was someone who firmly believed she should save her virginity for marriage, all according to Henneberger’s NCR report.

Yet she was called “mentally unstable.”  A sexual innocent, she supposedly was “all over the boy.”

And this caricature of a young woman is something most rape victims will recognize, especially if they’ve tried to report a sexual assault at Notre Dame.  According to Henneberger’s report:

In 1974, a South Bend woman who was hospitalized and then spent a month in a psychiatric facility after reporting being gang-raped by six Notre Dame football players was described by a top university administrator as “a queen of the slums with a mattress tied to her back.” No charges were filed, but the accused were suspended for a year for violating school rules. At the time, even so revered a figure as Holy Cross Fr. Theodore Hesburgh said: “We didn’t have to talk to the girl; we talked to the boys.” Hesburgh, who is 94, made that remark to Notre Dame alumnus Robert Sam Anson, who in his student days had founded the campus newspaper. Anson quoted Hesburgh in a story very much like this one, written 35 years ago.

Those who argue that, if anything, Notre Dame is too hard on its athletes regularly cite the 2002 expulsion of three players and a former player accused of gang-raping a woman, though none of them served a day in jail. But their accuser insists they were only expelled after officials failed to dissuade her from going public: “First they said, ‘No one’s going to believe you.’ ” When she went to South Bend police anyway, Notre Dame officials “treated me horribly at every opportunity. I had PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder] and I was afraid they [the players] were going to come after me again, but [school officials] wouldn’t let me park my car on campus because they said that wouldn’t be fair to the other students. When I tried to make an appointment with the counseling center, they called me back and said they couldn’t see me because of pending legal matters, though the legal matter they were talking about was the state versus these four rapists.”

So the anecdotal evidence is overpowering.  But you might be asking yourself, why isn’t there more of a paper trail regarding all of these various accusers?  (Much less a public outcry on the level of, say, the Penn State debacle of a year ago, something the Nation’s Dave Zirin wonders about as well.)

It’s simple.  The town of South Bend, Indiana, doesn’t have much in the way of industry any longer.   It’s economy is dependent upon Notre Dame, and to a substantial extent, on how many fans come to see Notre Dame’s football team every year.

Because of this, there’s a motive for covering things up.  There’s a motive to say, “No, that couldn’t have possibly happened here,” even when it’s obvious that something bad has happened.  And it sounds like from Henneberger’s exhaustive report at the National Catholic Reporter that Notre Dame, systematically, has done its level best to silence as many rape victims as it possibly can.

And I’m not the only person to feel that way.  Henneberger, in her Washington Post column, talked with Kaliegh Fields, a St. Mary’s junior who attempted to help Lizzy Seeberg back in 2010.  Pay close attention to what Fields has to say, as her final question is the one that’s been perplexing me ever since I started reading about Lizzy’s plight:

“I’ve watched almost every game this season and there’s not a single time that I don’t feel extreme anger when I see [the accused] on the field,” said Kaliegh Fields, a Saint Mary’s junior who went with Lizzy to the police station. “Once I start thinking about the people who put the school’s success in a sport over the life of a young woman, I can’t help but feel disgust. Everyone’s always saying how God’s on Notre Dame’s side,” she added. “And I think, ‘How could he be?’”

So after all this, you might be wondering why you should care about what’s going on at Notre Dame besides its football program.  Or besides the current scandal with regards to Manti Te’o and “did he, or did he not, know that his girlfriend wasn’t real.”  Or besides the fact that this one place, South Bend, Indiana, is dependent upon Notre Dame and its football program to stay alive in these uncertain economic times.

But if you have read everything I’ve posted, and honestly cannot understand why I’m hopping mad that Lizzy Seeberg did not get justice done . . . well, as Mr. T used to say, “I pity the fool.”

And the longer I think about it, the more I agree with Dave Zirin: the Notre Dame football program should be given the NCAA’s death penalty, because there’s something wrong when life becomes far less important than football.

Even at Notre Dame.

Written by Barb Caffrey

January 18, 2013 at 3:25 am

A Quick Friday Update

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Folks, I’m starting to feel a little better.  After nearly two weeks’ worth of general crappiness, the slight bit of additional energy I’ve had over the past twenty-four to forty-eight hours has been warmly welcomed.

That said, life didn’t stop while I was ill.  I rescheduled some internship hours, but did work most of them (the one shift I couldn’t reschedule immediately will be made up before my internship ends in a few weeks).  I finished another big editing project.  And I started putting together a collection of my and Michael’s shorter fiction (novellas on down) for possible publication.

So I wasn’t idle by any means, even if sometimes it felt that way.

That said, no fiction writing got done and very little of a non-fiction nature also got done (as evidenced by this blog, where I haven’t posted since last Saturday due to illness).  But more posts should be on the way soon, including one I just have to write about a current scandal at Notre Dame — and no, I’m not talking about Manti Te’o and his fake girlfriend.

Anyway, I’m still alive and I’ll continue to do my best to remain so.  (How’s that for a plan?  And I’m only being slightly sarcastic, too!)

You do your best to do the same.

Written by Barb Caffrey

January 18, 2013 at 2:30 am

Posted in Writing

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A Quick Saturday Update

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Despite my best efforts, whatever it is that I’ve been sick with for the past several weeks has grown worse over the past few days rather than better.

This has necessitated that I rest, drink much water, take over-the-counter medication and then rest some more.

The only good thing about being ill is that I’ve finished a number of books, including Janet Edwards’ EARTH GIRL, Beth Revis’ ACROSS THE UNIVERSE, Gennifer Albin’s CREWEL and Victoria Alexander’s A VISIT FROM SIR NICHOLAS and THE PERFECT MISTRESS (the last a delightful story set in 19th century England about a ghost, her great-granddaughter and the need to embrace life).  All of these were thought-provoking books, but the reason I’m going to review Edwards’ EARTH GIRL over at Shiny Book Review is that it’s an extremely rare example of what could be a utopia as no one hungers, thirsts, or lacks for medical care while everyone is educated to the limit of his or her ability.  But there are still problems, mostly dealing with the Handicapped (those who cannot portal to other worlds and must stay on Earth), which gave Edwards the ability to show conflict even in a mostly utopic setting.

Edited to add: review of EARTH GIRL is up at SBR.

Still doing my best to write, edit and regain my health. But this flu — or whatever it is that has me laid low — is really not any fun whatsoever.

Written by Barb Caffrey

January 12, 2013 at 11:09 pm

Posted in Editing, Writing

2013 Baseball HoF Travesty: No One Voted into the Hall by Writers

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Today, the results for the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame voting were announced.

No one got in.

That’s right.  Out of ten or twelve really good candidates, including 3,000 hit club members Craig Biggio and Rafael Palmeiro, seven-time MVP and all-time home run king Barry Bonds, seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens, excellent shortstop Alan Trammell and even more excellent closer Lee Smith, the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA for short) refused to elect a single person.

This is an utter travesty.

Biggio was the closest to the 75 percent threshold, as he got 68.2 percent of the vote.  And while it’s wrong to deny men like Biggio, Trammell and Smith the Hall of Fame when they were never accused of taking steroids, it’s much more wrong to deny Bonds and Clemens, who never failed a drug test and have more or less been exonerated in court.

Look.  Barry Bonds was a divisive personality, but he is the best hitter the game has ever seen, bar none.  In his prime he was a five-tool player who could run, hit, hit with power, steal bases and play excellent defense.  He won seven Most Valuable Player awards from writers who despised him, but felt compelled to vote for him anyway due to his amazing stats.

Bonds only received 36.2 percent of the vote on the BBWAA ballot.

San Francisco Giants President Larry Baer thinks this is wrong.  In a blog post from the San Francisco Chronicle‘s Henry Schulman, Baer is quoted as saying:

This was the decision. It’s difficult. There have been complications in determining Hall of Famers throughout history, and it was more intense this year for sure. I think over time we would hope he’d be considered to be another Giant in the Hall of Fame. We also understand the voters need to sort some things out. That’s what I feel.

Long-time manager Jim Fregosi, who now works for the Atlanta Braves as a special assistant, also feels this result was problematic (also via the Chronicle):

“I was a little surprised. I didn’t think he would get in the original ballot, and he and (Roger) Clemens really did not get the votes I thought they would. But it’s the first time out for both of them. For me, the numbers will go way up next year. I”m not saying they’re going to get in next year, but I believe their totals will rise.”

Fregosi thinks Bonds should get in: “For everything he’s done in his career, he is definitely a Hall of Famer.

And former Milwaukee Brewers OF Darryl Hamilton, who also played with Bonds during the 1990s as a member of the Giants, had this to say (also via the Chronicle — words in parenthesis added by yours truly):

Retired outfielder Darryl Hamilton, who played with Bonds in the Giants in the late 1990s: “I was a little disappointed. I don’t think it’s fair that the Baseball Writers Association of America decided that not only Bonds, but everybody in that era, should be punished for what they think somebody has done.

“I’m sure when you and I (are) gone (from this) planet it’ll come out that there are guys already in the Hall who’ve done something. I think it’s very hypocritical to take a vote like this and not let anybody in the Hall this year. I think it’s ridiculous.”

In some senses, Roger Clemens was an even more divisive personality.  He was short-tempered, quick-witted, and another guy who, like Bonds, was not a favorite of the writers.

You might be wondering, then, how either Bonds or Clemens won so many awards.  It’s simple: they were the most dominant players of their era.

They both deserve to be in the Hall of Fame.

Yahoo Sports writer Jeff Passan wrote:

Anybody who suggests the Baseball Hall of Fame is irrelevant doesn’t understand one prevailing truth about the sport: its history is more important than its present. Baseball treats its history as a sacred bauble, which, until recently, it hasn’t tried to rinse, wash or scrub. Its darkest moments are some of its most famous. The sport is evermore human because the Black Sox succumbed to greed and threw the World Series, because the segregationists won until they could no longer bottle up social change, because the Hit King was a flawed man who couldn’t overcome a gambling addiction. Baseball is all of us.

Passan’s message throughout his article is that the baseball writers got this one wrong.  It’s impossible to deny how much Bonds, Clemens, Biggio, et. al., meant to the game.

And Passan is far from the only respected writer to think so.  Here’s what Baseball Prospectus writer Colin Wyers had to say:

The writers struck out looking. They were lobbed a fat pitch over the heart of the plate and they failed to even take a swing at it. Defenders will note, correctly, that it isn’t the ninth inning. But it was the last at-bat of the eighth, and they face an exceedingly difficult challenge in coming back to win this thing.

The biggest takeaway is that there is a sizable contingent of voters who will refuse to vote for any player, no matter how qualified, if there’s the barest taint of steroids on him, up to and including “playing the majority of his career after 1993.” Many will cast this as a referendum on Bonds and Clemens, two of the sports’ greatest stars who ended up in legal hot water over the use of performance-enhancing drugs. But a litany of deserving players, including Biggio, Bagwell, Piazza, and others, have been punished too, with little more than hearsay to incriminate them.

And in case you’re wondering what the players thought, here’s a link to an article about that.  (Hint, hint: most are not pleased.)

More importantly, the current head of the Major League Baseball Players Association, Michael Weiner, said this (courtesy of CNN):

“To ignore the historic accomplishments of Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, for example, is hard to justify,” he said. “Moreover, to penalize players exonerated in legal proceedings, and others never even implicated, is simply unfair. The Hall of Fame is supposed to be for the best players to have ever played the game.”

Look.  The fact of the matter regarding steroids is this: they don’t help you hit a baseball.  They may help put weight on you and that may change your physical makeup (as this article from Sports Illustrated clearly shows, where one player — Dan Naulty — took steroids and ended up gaining enough weight to add ten miles per hour to his fastball, which got him to the major leagues).

But they cannot help you hit a baseball at the level of a Barry Bonds, or every player who ever used steroids would hit like Bonds.

They don’t.

They cannot help you pitch a baseball at the level of a Roger Clemens, either.  Or every pitcher who ever used steroids, like the above-mentioned Naulty, would pitch like Clemens.

They don’t.

Why?  Because these are special players, as Darryl Hamilton’s comments show.

The fact of the matter is, the Hall of Fame has admitted racists, bigots, gamblers, alcoholics and even a few wife-beaters — and has survived.

Whether Bonds and Clemens used performance-enhancing drugs or not, they deserve to be in the Hall.

Anything else is a tragic miscarriage of justice.

Written by Barb Caffrey

January 9, 2013 at 9:39 pm

Should Packers WR Donald Driver Start Against SF?

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Earlier this evening, as I often do on Mondays, I listened to sports-talk radio on WTMJ-AM 620 out of Milwaukee, WI.  The question posed by hosts Greg Matzek and Jeff Falconio (known as “the freak” and “the geek”) was this: Should Packers WR Donald Driver play against San Francisco?

And of course, as you might expect, Falconio and Matzek’s answer was that Driver should not play.  Driver’s stats this year do not look good, as he’s played very few downs. With only eight receptions for 77 yards and no touchdowns, Driver has not been the same cog in the Packers offense that he was for so many years since being drafted back in 1999.

My question, therefore, is different: Should Donald Driver start against San Francisco, even knowing Driver hasn’t been able to do much this past season?

I say yes.

Before you go ballistic, hear me out.  Driver’s history needs to be factored into the equation.  He’s a three-time Pro Bowler with seven seasons of 1000 receiving yards or better.  He’s a well-prepared professional with enough speed and smarts that it’s quite possible he can still make plays, even at his advanced football age of 37.

Yes, yes, I know that Driver only had 565 yards receiving in 2010 and 445 in 2011.  I know by those numbers that he was starting to slow down, and that opposing defenses had fully adjusted to him.

Still.  Driver has heart.  He continues to have skills.  And he can still help the Packers win — but he must be on the field and have a chance to catch the football in order for this to happen.

My thought is this: the 49ers definitely won’t be expecting Driver to start, especially as Driver was a “healthy inactive” for the playoff game versus Minnesota this past Saturday.  They’ll be feverishly studying game film on the other Packers receivers — Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, James Jones and Randall Cobb — and will forget about Driver, as Driver appears at this moment to be nothing but an afterthought.

This could be a dangerous mistake.

Driver can still beat any team in the NFL if given a chance.  He knows the opposing defensive players and their tendencies.  He knows the opposing defensive coordinators, too, much less their tendencies.  And he knows what he has to do to make plays, even though he’s gotten little opportunity to do so this past season in Green Bay.

Besides, if this is Driver’s last game with Green Bay, he should be treated with the respect he has earned due to his three Pro Bowl seasons and his seven 1000-plus yardage seasons.

That’s why I believe that Driver should start the game against San Francisco, much less play.  Because I truly believe that Driver still has more to give, if only head coach Mike McCarthy will allow Driver to do so.

Written by Barb Caffrey

January 7, 2013 at 10:38 pm

Ill this week

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So far, folks, 2013 is starting out the same way 2012 did, as I am under the weather.

As I need to save my energy for the paying (or potentially paying) work, right now my blog is going to have to take a rest.

I hope to resume writing next week.

As for any reviews, expect them next week also.


Written by Barb Caffrey

January 4, 2013 at 3:53 pm

Posted in Uncategorized