Friday, February 25, 2011

Box score of the week

You know the drill.

Can you tell me the historical significance of the baseball box score I've linked to here?

This may be a tough one, but see if you can come up with the answer without perusing the vast resources of the Internet.

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Ambidextrous pitcher Greg Harris, then of the Montreal Expos, pitched both right and left-handed in this game from the 1995 season. In the ninth inning, Harris retired the Reds' Reggie Sanders pitching right-handed. He then switched to his left hand for the next two hitters, Hal Morris and Ed Taubensee, who both batted lefty. Harris walked Morris but got Taubensee to ground out. He then went back to his right hand to retire Bret Boone to end the inning.

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Thursday, February 24, 2011

DOMA in a coma

Despite the fact Barack Obama was an opponent of same-sex marriage while running for President, it was only a matter of time before he flipped his position.

Well, the other shoe has finally fallen.

In a major policy reversal, the Obama administration said Wednesday it will no longer defend the constitutionality of a U.S. law banning recognition of same-sex marriage.

Attorney General Eric Holder said President Barack Obama has concluded that the administration cannot defend the federal law that defines marriage as only between a man and a woman. He noted that the congressional debate during passage of the Defense of Marriage Act "contains numerous expressions reflecting moral disapproval of gays and lesbians and their intimate and family relationships — precisely the kind of stereotype-based thinking and animus the (U.S. Constitution's)Equal Protection Clause is designed to guard against."

The Justice Department had defended the act in court until now.


Look, I've given my reasons why I oppose gay marriage, so I'm not going to rehash that here.

But the rationale behind the decision to cease enforcement of DOMA is what has me confused. Since I'm the furthest thing from a constitutional scholar, I'm open to being enlightened on this issue.

The catalyst for this ruling was a recent case where a woman had to pay an estate tax on the inheritance left her by her female "partner". The argument being that she otherwise wouldn't have had to pay said tax had the two women been allowed to marry (Once again, this is where Civil Unions would eliminate such issues). The fact these two women weren't allowed to be married under the 15-year law "Defense of Marriage Act" was cited as a violation of the Equal Protection Clause noted in the Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution.

Serious question: How so?

What's to say that I can't cite the EPC because someone pays less income taxes than I? Or what about the rights of smokers? Their choice to engage in a legal activity (smoking) has been infringed upon in certain private properties (i.e. bars & restaurants). Couldn't smokers cite the Equal Protection Clause as well?

Again, not trying to be snarky here. I'm genuinely befuddled how the Equal Protection Clause can be cited as a reason to not enforce DOMA.

Anyone?

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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A loony tiger can't change its stripes

Which is nuttier? Invoking Star Trek analogies on the floor of Congress or sending photos of oneself in a tiger costume to one's employees?

Apparently the latter, according to the staff of a certain US House member from Oregon.

An Oregon congressman said Tuesday that it was "unprofessional and inappropriate" to send pictures of himself wearing a tiger costume to staff members.

Democratic U.S. Rep. David Wu said Tuesday on ABC's "Good Morning America" that the photos were taken while he was "joshing around" with his children in October just before Halloween.

One photo shows Wu wearing an orange and black striped tiger outfit with pointy ears and striped mittens. Portland newspapers reported that campaign staffers pleaded with Wu to seek psychiatric help in the final week before the November election, but he refused.


Ah, but this isn't the first time Rep. Wu has exhibited utterly strange behavior.

In one of the more bizarre speeches in Congressional history, Wu used a Star Trek analogy in January 2007 to criticize the Bush administration and its decision to invade Iraq four years earlier.




Nary a word then from Wu's staff regarding psychiatric help. Of course, former Ohio Congressman James Traficant regularly closed his speeches with the phrase "Beam me up."

I guess such loony citations have become standard fare in the US House to the point where it barely garners acknowledgement.

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Sunday, February 20, 2011

UNamerican




Seemingly lost amidst the news of the protests in Egypt and Wisconsin, the ever-decreasing legitimacy of the United Nations was knocked down another notch last week.

The US has vetoed a draft resolution in the United Nations Security Council that would have declared Israel's settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem illegal and demanded a halt to such activity.

While ''rejecting in the strongest terms the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity'', the US voted against the draft out of concern for the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, ambassador Susan Rice said.


So despite the fact the US wielded its veto power, Ambassador Rice apparently did so while holding her proverbial nose, further perpetuating the Obama administration's alienation of our long time ally Israel.

But what's most disturbing is who introduced this resolution in the first place: Lebanon. You see, within just the past couple of months, Lebanon had its own governmental collapse. As a result, the March 8 Alliance, a Hezbollah-led group, gained the majority and thus elected their own Prime Minister.

The U.N. claims that one of their stated aims is achievement of world peace. But the mere introduction of this resolution at the Security Council sends a mixed message: A country like Lebanon, whose government is led by a terrorist group which lists one of its primary goals to eliminate the state of Israel, is allowed to introduce a resolution looking to damage said state.

How much longer must we continue this charade of the United Nations being a legitimate body?

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Friday, February 18, 2011

Box Score of the week

In honor of pitchers and catchers reporting to Spring Training, I am posting my 2011 debut edition of a unique major league baseball box score.

As always, the objective is to determine what is unique or significant about the particular game I cite. And see if you can ascertain the significance without the help of Google, Bing, etc.

Let's start this season with a "softball", featuring two teams who train in Fort Myers, FL, the Twins and Red Sox.

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It's an amazing (and rare) feat when a team turns a triple play in a game. But two triple plays in one contest?!?! The one and only time that has ever happened was on July 17, 1990 at Fenway Park, when the host Red Sox hit into two 5-4-3 triple plays in a game versus the Twins.

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Monday, February 14, 2011

Circling Back

With all due respect to author Christoper Hitchens, God is great.


-I have officially been back to work for the past few weeks now! While I enjoyed the 7-1/2 weeks of free time, I only received ten weeks worth of salary upon departing my most recent job in early December.

Fortunately, I established a good reputation with a consulting firm with whom I worked about three years ago. They happened to have a client in Bloomington who needed some assistance in the Accounting department until, minimum, the end of March. Thus far I've enjoyed the work as well as the employees within said department. When I tell others of my most recent unemployment exploits, the common inquiry was "weren't you getting nervous that you couldn't find work in all that time?"

In short: No, I wasn't.


-My wife and I decided to visit Spirit of Life Bible Church in Woodbury yesterday. The 150+ person congregation is largely comprised of "refugees" of the church I attended from 1985 through 2001. It was a joy seeing people I've known for more than 25 years that I don't get to see much anymore, including my long-time friend Frank Sanders.

As I wrote last month, Frank was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. What I have learned in the interim is the prognosis for recovery is less than promising. But not surprising, Frank has vowed to battle his disease with every fiber of his being, all the while turning it over to the Lord. It's that old adage of "work like it depends on you and pray like it depends on God."

About five minutes before service was to start, Frank was heading to his customary spot at the pulpit when he noticed my wife and I sitting near the front. In that recognizable booming voice, he said "I thought I saw a shining light in this place!!" Now I wasn't sure if he was referring to my wife's radiant personality or my shaved head. Or both perhaps?

Other then looking a little tired and having lost a bit of weight, Frank was as enthusiastic as ever. No surprise there when you consider the word "enthusiasm" is derived from the roots en — in or within — and theos — God. It means having God within or being one with God.

As I embraced my old friend, I let him know that I am praying for he and his family daily and that I have no doubt in my mind that he will beat this cancer. He then looked me straight in the eye and said with the utmost conviction "I know it."

It was a pretty amazing feeling to know I was witnessing a miracle in progress.

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Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Below-Average Joe

Vice President Joe Biden has been described as many things: loquacious, brash, abrasive, arrogant, etc.

Personally, I see the man as a gaffe-master.

Whether it's referring to "jobs" as a three-letter word, imploring a paraplegic to stand up or getting caught live TV spewing the f-word, Biden has actually been a source of entertainment.

When George W. Bush was President, he was constantly ridiculed for his pronunciation of the word "nuclear." It was an easy one to catch since it's commonly pronounced "NOO-KLEER" as opposed to Bush's interpretation, which was "NOO-KYOO-LER." One could chalk it up to a southern accent but why do that when it's more expeditious to question the man's intellect.

But the same crowd who savaged Bush for mispronunciations have literally ignored how VP Biden misuses the word "literally."

Recently, when talking about infrastructure projects, the Vice President said they "literally are the veins and the arteries of commerce.” The dictionary definition of the word "literal" is being actually such, without exaggeration or inaccuracy. Who knew that something intangible like "commerce" could have blood running through it?

Sure, it may seem like I am nitpicking here. But this has become a habit for the Veep, which National Review writer Jim Geraghty noticed over the Summer.

Joe Biden, today: “Before we arrived in the West Wing, Mr. Boehner and the Republican Party ran the economy literally into the ground.”

Literally. Literally. You remember in late 2008, when all Americans had to work underground like mole people because that’s where the economy was.


Given his affinity for the word, the Vice President is literally ignorant of its meaning.

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Thursday, February 03, 2011

Super Bowl XLV: The Q & A

It's heeeeeere!!! My annual Super Bowl prognostication with the help of my pal, the Super Bowl Inquisitor. Never has an annual appearance been met with so much anticipation ---- well, at least this side of Punxsutawney, PA.

Without further adieu, let's get to it.


SBI: This is the most decorated Super Bowl in history with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers having won a combined nine Vince Lombardi trophies. Has there ever been a more epic pairing in any other venue?
BC: The only thing comparable would be acting titans Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino starring in a movie together. Let's just hope this game is more like Godfather: Part II as opposed to Righteous Kill.

SBI: What would you consider the ideal Super Bowl commercial?
BC: If the Steelers win, I would like to see a reenactment of a certain scene from Good Will Hunting. The character Will Hunting (played by Ben Roethlisberger) sees the long-haired douche bag (played by Clay Matthews) he challenged to a fight earlier, now sitting in a coffee shop. Will knocks on the window near where the long-haired douche is sitting and says “Do you like apples?” LHD responds “Uhhh, yeah.” Will then proceeds to slap a picture of the Lombardi trophy against the glass and says “Well we got seven of these now. How do ya like them apples?”

SBI: Obviously you have an affinity for movies. So if this Super Bowl were a film, what would you call it?
BC: A game starring Troy Polamalu and Clay Matthews? What else but The Mane Event.

SBI: I know you're not a big fan of halftime entertainment but I'm obligated to ask your thoughts regarding this year's musical act.
BC: Believe it or not, I am somewhat fascinated by the musical selection, given that British royalty has supplied most of the talent. Who knew that the Duchess of York and Prince Charles' eldest son formed a musical group?

SBI: You lost me there.
BC: Fergie? William? Those are two members of the group, right?

SBI: Ahem. Ahhh, that's STACY Ferguson, not Sarah. And it's not “William”, it's will.i.am. They're part of a band called “The Black Eyed Peas.”
BC: So you're saying Hervé Villechaize is not a member of the band either?

SBI: First off, he's dead. Secondly, the band member you're thinking of is TABOO. You know what? Let's move on.

What kind of fine dining will you be partaking in?

BC: Given that Pennsylvania and Wisconsin will be represented, I will attempt a new concoction: A Hershey's chocolate bar covered with melted cheese. Oh, and Diet Coke of course.

SBI: Time for the lightning round.

After Sunday, 45 Super Bowls will have been played. Two franchises will share the record for most ever appearances with eight. They are the Dallas Cowboys and……?

BC: Pittsburgh Steelers

SBI: Two franchises have won a Super Bowl with three different head coaches. They are the Dallas Cowboys and….?
BC: Pittsburgh Steelers

SBI: Which franchise holds the all-time mark for most Super Bowl victories with six?
BC: Pittsburgh Steelers

SBI: And the winner of Super Bowl XLV will be the….?
BC: Green Bay Packers

SBI: D'oh! I was hoping I could play one of those word games to get you to pick my Steelers.
BC: In the immortal words of Jabba the Hut: “Your mind powers will not work on me boy. ” I'm thinking the Pack covers the 2-1/2 point spread with a 28-24 win.


Postseason Record:
Straight Up: 5-5
Against the Spread: 5-5


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Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Favre factor

Even though Brett Favre is as close to the Super Bowl as Dennis Kucinich is to the Presidency, his name is still bandied about in the week leading up to the big game.

A year ago, Favre threw the interception in the closing seconds of regulation to help lose the NFC Championship Game in New Orleans. Two weeks later, the Saints were where Favre should have been. Where he could have retired on top, thumbed his nose at Packers' GM Ted Thompson and kept Jenn Sterger from becoming a household name.

This week has to sting a little, too. Especially if Favre is paying close attention to the verbal man crush his former teammates are handing out to Thompson leading up to Super Bowl XLV on Sunday in Arlington, Texas.

Favre's former teammates haven't been disrespectful to Favre or criticized him. But what they're saying now about Thompson and the team's decision to trade Favre after he tried to return from retirement in 2008 speaks to how they truly felt back in 2008. Those players were put in a difficult position when Favre publicly criticized Thompson while trying to horn back in when Rodgers had spent the offseason preparing to be the starter.


The temptation amongst many NFL pundits and fans is to applaud Thompson for making such a courageous move by letting go of the quarterback who resurrected Titletown, USA. And yes, it's hard to argue the positive results, as Aaron Rodgers has been brilliant his first three years as starting quarterback. And while I thought it was pretty arrogant of Favre to demand he be renamed the starter a mere few months after retiring, Thompson initially didn't handle the Favre-Packers divorce very smoothly.

Just a few weeks after announcing his retirement in February 2008, Favre began to regret his decision. Favre contacted the Packers franchise shortly thereafter to convey his plans of un-retiring. With Thompson and head coach Mike McCarthy ready to fly to Mississippi to make plans to welcome Favre back, he got cold feet and decided to stay retired.

But once Summer rolled around, Favre officially un-retired and thus wanted his job back as Packers starting QB. This is where Thompson flubbed the whole affair. Instead of standing firm and telling Favre that his Packers day were over, the organization was going to allow him to return in an open competition for the starter's job. I can't believe that was even considered. Favre proved he could still play at a high level in 2007 and was instrumental in bringing the Lombardi trophy back to Green Bay in 1996. How in the world could there have been an honest assessment of an open competition when the fan-favorite (and future Hall of Famer) would take on a promising upstart in Rodgers, who had never started an NFL game? And with Rodgers nearing the end of his initial contract, he would have almost certainly moved on had he been forced to sit on the bench for a fourth consecutive season.

But Thompson et al dodged a bullet when Favre pitched a fit upon learning that the job as Green Bay Packers QB was not his birthright. As a result, Favre demanded his release so that he could sign with the team of his choice, specifically the Pack's division rival Minnesota Vikings. Of course, Thompson knew Favre still could play, so there's was no way he wanted the Packers to have to oppose Favre twice per season. Instead, Thompson orchestrated a trade of Favre to the AFC's New York Jets. He even inserted a "poison pill" stipulation in which the Jets would have to surrender multiple first round draft choices if they turn around and trade Favre to an NFC North team. Fair or unfair, many surmised Thompson turned the whole saga into a personal vendetta against Favre and his playing career.

Despite the whole Favre soap opera of a few years ago, Thompson will likely be completely vindicated by 9:00 pm CT this Sunday. However, he could have easily avoided such a messy situation in the first place had he politely declined Favre's demand to return to Green Bay. That would have definitely been the more expedient (and courageous) course of action.

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