In case anyone still lurks here, I’ve moved my operation over to my main page.
Meet me there!
In case anyone still lurks here, I’ve moved my operation over to my main page.
Meet me there!
My loyal readers, led by CT, are ready to storm the offices if I don’t post more stuff. Believe it or not, I have a reason for this. I am trying to move this over to my own domain name, and I can’t get my style sheet, content and links to move over correctly. If any of you know wordpress well enough, any advice would be appreciated.
Hillary Clinton spoke about immigration in San Diego this weekend, and she decided that personalizing an issue made her more credible somehow. It’s a little strange, considering I’m a little skeptical about her claims.
In her speech, Clinton talked about her childhood in Park Ridge, using it to focus on issues such as immigration reform — a concern paramount to the huge Hispanic community in California.
She recalled Park Ridge was surrounded by farms that relied on migrant labor and that she used to baby-sit the workers’ children, an experience that awakened her to the complexities of the immigrant experience.
Let’s say she started babysitting in 1961, when she was 15. Park Ridge was surrounded by Edison Park (Chicago), Niles, Glenview, Des Plaines and O’Hare Airport. All of them were well-developed suburbs with no farms to speak of. A 1961 History of Park Ridge shows that the city of Park Ridge’s interests had little to do with farming for years before the book was published.
So she babysat the children of migrant workers in Park Ridge in the 1960’s. What else do you want to tell us, Hillary?
For the first time since I can remember, I have no plans to attend a Cubs game this year. That’s not to say I won’t go to a game this season. After all, the last season in which I failed to attend a game at Wrigley Field, Ryne Sandberg was the starting shortstop for the Reading Phillies. Opening Day lacked any of the excitement I’m accustomed to experiencing.
I was in Mexico over the weekend, and while I didn’t need to try that hard to find out how the Cubs fared against the Cardinals, I decided it wasn’t worth the effort. I’m sure the perfect beach weather, sufficient access to drink and food, and a number of friends I don’t see often contributed to it, but all kinds of other distractions (like my honeymoon, as my wife has continually pointed out to me*) have never taken my eye off the ball, so to speak.
In November, my father-in-law picked Joanna and I up at O’Hare, and reported the big news of the day: Alfonso Soriano was a Cub. I might have expressed more excitement if he had told me that Danny Jackson had signed a long-term contract.
As the season drags on, it’s obvious: this team isn’t very good. We have another 90-loss season underway, and unlike past seasons, I see little hope. Rich Hill has been impressive, and this guy could become one of the top 10 starters in baseball shortly. There’s Carlos Zambrano, a guy you’d love to have on your side. So far, he’s been terrible, and I am willing to put money on him wearing another uniform by April at the latest, and as soon as June 1.
Then there’s Michael Barrett, the dumbest guy on the roster, behind the plate, working with a pitching staff that is still purported to be a strength. I blame part of the Cubs’ 2004 collapse on Barrett’s inability to call pitches. I blame him for a handful of 2005 losses. He can hit, but he’s a detriment to the team.
The main reason for the alarming lack of interest is the sudden disappearance of electricity surrounding this team. Remember the buzz on days that Kerry Wood, Mark Prior, Greg Maddux or Carlos Zambrano would start? I like Ted Lilly, but I wouldn’t rearrange my day to watch him start a game against Pittsburgh. Derrek Lee is quietly one of the best players in baseball, but besides him and Zambrano there’s no one else on the team worthy of my support.
Maybe it’s that I’m an “experienced optimist” (that is, a pessimist). I see less hope on this team than I saw on the 1994 team and the 1997 team. The 2000 team was terrible, but for some reason I was even more interested then than I am now.
Looking at how empty the park has looked the last few games that I have seen on television, I’m not the only one. The window that the Cubs had with the nucleus they had from 2001-2004 has shut. In fact, it shut when Michael Barrett screwed up a rundown in a game at Philadelphia in August 2005. They stuck with a manager who was more interested in saving his own skin than winning ballgames, and they failed to act when they had opportunities to make the club much better. I wasn’t the only one who saw this offseason as a desperate, cynical attempt to fool the fans into believing the Cubs can contend. Lou Piniella has won elsewhere, but Jim Hendry has just done the equivalent of hiring Rick Mears to win the Indy 500 with a 1995 Nissan Sentra.
Fact is, people will talk about the 2001-2005 Cubs much the same way as they talk about the Cubs of 1967-1972. Great talent. Missed opportunities. Tragic falls from grace for many of the team’s stars. Teams that their own fans could love intensely before hating every last ballplayer. I remember my honeymoon, when I spent seven of the 10 days in Hawaii watching the Cubs play in the NLCS. I caught Jayson Stark on ESPN Radio before Game 6 saying that there was no chance that the Marlins could beat both Mark Prior and Kerry Wood. That this Cubs team was not like the Cubs of old. That they could not, would not choke. And then he said something to the effect of how scary this team will be to the rest of the National League as Wood and Prior spend the next five or 10 years together. I wonder how many games the two have started back-to-back since then? Now comes word of Prior’s injury. His career in Chicago is done. He might try to catch on somewhere else, but he won’t be the dominant pitcher he was for 1 1/2 seasons.
When Rick Talley wrote his book The Cubs of ’69 in 1988, these Cubs of the 1960s and 1970s were forgiven by Cubs fans and actually revered. The 1969 Cubs are probably more beloved by Cubs fans than the 1969 Mets are by
Satanists Mets fans. Anyway, I’m sure Kerry Wood will be a fixture in Chicago, similar to Ron Santo, in 2030. Sammy Sosa will be long forgiven, and I’m sure we’ll see Aramis Ramirez’s son shipwrecking as a free agent acquisition before getting picked up for DUI in Glenview. The best bet is that we’ll have a few dozen nostalgic looks at this team. Talley couldn’t locate Don Young, the emblem of the Cubs’ collapse in 1969, even though his nightmare game occurred weeks before they led the division by eight games.
Who will be in hiding in 2003? My bet is on Mark Prior.
* As for my Honeymoon, we planned an October wedding despite warnings to my wife that the Cubs could be playing a playoff game on the day of the wedding. She thought the chances of this happening were remote. She was warned.
OK, so it’s been about a month since I last posted here, and I wish I had a good excuse for not posting more. Unfortunately, I have no excuses. I got distracted watching Indiana play one of its best games of the year versus Gonzaga before it played one of its worst against UCLA. I got distracted following Vanderbilt into the Sweet 16 before the Commodores lost to Georgetown by 1 (my wife’s still waiting for the traveling call). I was distracted with Fantasy Baseball, with an academic conference in Las Vegas, with work (I’m in the midst of a couple projects I’m excited about), with school (I’m in the midst of a couple projects there as well), with Easter, with baseball season starting and the Cubs disappointing me already. Friday, I’ll be off to Mexico to celebrate my aforementioned friend’s wedding. (Yes, it’s true; the nuptials were in Colorado this afternoon, but he’ll hold another ceremony in Mexico for us to see.)
What have I missed talking about? Indiana basketball? Not much to talk about, except D.J. White will be back for one more year (yay!).
The Cubs? What should I say about them? What’s not been working? I’ll let Sweet Lou answer that one.
Don Imus? Of course, because not enough has been said about this over-the-hill radio guy making a tasteless off the cuff remark on a show only the political listens to because they love hearing themselves talk.
Virginia Tech? Really, what pearls of wisdom can I offer? And I’ll be damned if I let my 2 readers get into a shouting match over the 2nd Amendment.
That still leaves a few things to talk about: the Olympics possibly coming to the Midwest, Lance Briggs fatigue, the hopefully improving weather allowing me to get ready for my 50-mile bike ride, Fred Thompson’s health, thoughts on some interesting people I’ve heard speak recently, my last-minute decision not to vote today, and other stuff. I will be posting more. I promise.
Earlier today, a friend of mine called me to remind me that after he dropped his newly-completed tax return in the mail, he was going to drop by the local church where he was going to get married. Paying your income taxes and getting married on the same day? I’ll let you comedians write the punchlines.
While I will continue to enjoy the view from the fence, news that Fred Thompson wants to run for president has made my day.
Without getting into too much detail, I agree with Thompson on many issues, and his demeanor might be just right to charm the 30 percent of undecideds that vote.
Many will roll their eyes and say “Great, another Reagan…” To that, I’d respond with a “Great! Another Reagan.” I’d also point out that unlike Reagan, Thompson is a lawyer by trade and an actor by hobby. He’s very good at his hobby, but as a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, he still has his bonafides.
I hope Thompson sits out for a little while longer and lets a groundswell build. Already, I see a couple of “Draft Fred Thompson” sites. But once the summer ends, look for Thompson to be in this race, in a dead heat with McCain and Giuliani.