One More Cruel Jab at the Red Sox

As a lifelong Yankees fan, it is of course incumbent upon me to hate the Red Sox, so. . . Just one more jab, OK? Not only did the Red Sox collapse in one of the worst September Swoons in baseball history. . . but check this. Has any other team ever had four guys in the top 10 batting categories–and failed to make the playoffs? Just wondering.

What’s that you say? Where are your wondrous Yankees? Uh, don’t see any in the top 10. The Rangers are represented. . .as are the Tigers. . . and, gee, even the weak-hitting Rays.

But, you know, these statistics are really overrated, anyway. . .

1 Miguel Cabrera DET 572 111 197 48 0 30 105 2 1 108 89 .344 .448 .586 1.033
2 Adrian Gonzalez BOS 630 108 213 45 3 27 117 1 0 74 119 .338 .410 .548 .957
3 Michael Young TEX 631 88 213 41 6 11 106 6 2 47 78 .338 .380 .474 .854
4 Victor Martinez DET 540 76 178 40 0 12 103 1 0 46 51 .330 .380 .470 .850
5 Jacoby Ellsbury BOS 660 119 212 46 5 32 105 39 15 52 98 .321 .376 .552 .928
6 David Ortiz BOS 525 84 162 40 1 29 96 1 1 78 83 .309 .398 .554 .953
7 Dustin Pedroia BOS 635 102 195 37 3 21 91 26 8 86 85 .307 .387 .474 .861
8 Casey Kotchman TB 500 44 153 24 2 10 48 2 2 48 66 .306 .378 .422 .800
9 Melky Cabrera KC 658 102 201 44 5 18 87 20 10 35 94 .305 .339 .470 .809
10 Alex Gordon KC 611 101 185 45 4 23 87 17 8 67 139 .303 .376 .502 .879

State Fair Opens, Yanks in Playoffs, All’s Right with the World!

Despite a hellish summer, despite a whipped-and-beaten economy, despite a blustering governor who refuses to do his homework, despite cruel watering restrictions that mock the simple homeowner’s dream of a pretty lawn, my beloved Yankees are in the playoffs. And the  State Fair opens today!

What’s that you say? Which State Fair?

The State Fair. The real one. The big one. The famous one. The one that celebrates its 125th year this year. The one I’ve only missed about three times since I was seven years old. That one.

And by the way, if you asked the typical under-30 person today just why the Cotton Bowl is called the Cotton Bowl, do you think they’d have a clue?

Here’s a hint. Stuff used to grow all over North Texas.

Cynical Quote About Cynicism of the Week

You know, we were in pre-production on this movie (The Ides of March) in 2007, before the Obama election. And then we realized that a good portion of the country was elated with what happened in that election, so we had to shelve the movie until people were cynical again. I didn’t think it would be quite this quick.

George Clooney, Parade Magazine, Sept. 26

Why America Slept

Both parties seem to have concluded lately that no compromise is possible and therefore their differences will just have to be settled by the 2012 election. No problem! I’m sure our markets will be patient until the next president is in place in early 2013! And I am sure the European debt crisis will be happy to take the next year off. In fact, that must be why Republicans held another presidential debate on Thursday night and the European economic crisis and how it might affect us — and what we must do to insulate ourselves — merited no discussion.

Has our leadership lost its mind? Do these people go home on weekends to some offshore island, where everyone’s retirement fund is doing fine, everyone’s kids have jobs and no one’s mortgage is under water? Where is the urgency? This is code red. We are facing a possible global financial contagion triggered by European banks choking with sovereign debt spreading their woes to an already weakened U.S. financial system.

       Thomas Friedman, The New York Times, September 25

A Blast From the Muse Machine Past

Overloaded once again by work, the curse of the drinking class, and my hobby-turned-obsession of theatre, I reach into the Muse Machine archives. Here’s what gripped my attention. . . FOUR YEARS AGO TODAY!  

THE JENA CONTROVERSY, AND BILL CLINTON’S BEST QUOTE                                                                     EVER!                 

                                   Posted on September 21, 2007

Today I happened to come across a line I had completely forgotten from Bill Clinton’s first inaugural address. It’s about the most hopeful quote I’ve ever seen from a politician, it’s well put, and it has the added benefit of being true, I believe:

 “There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America.”

By coincidence, I found these uplifting words while reading about the depressing racial confrontation going on in Jena, Louisiana. After some more exploration of the facts, which are murky in places, I may blog about the incident.

Meanwhile, I keep thinking about another quote, this one much sadder, from an African-American lawyer in Dallas discussing the Jena controversy:

 “I don’t know if I’ll be going, but I know my 10-year old daughter is paying attention to this. And I want her to watch this. You have to watch and learn before you know how to get involved and change things.”

Assume for the sake of discussion that whites did all the bad things they’re accused of doing in Jena. Assume that a malevolent  racist mentality like that of a 1955 KKK Grand Dragon infects all Caucasians within the Jena city limits.  Will this black attorney, who has enjoyed the privileges of education and the rewards of a pretty lucrative profession, tell his daugher that Jena is representative of America today, or will he tell her that it’s a sad and twisted aberration, the fading ghost of a past that generations of Americans black and white,  together, have conquered and buried?

 Representative–or aberration? It’s a crucial distinction. If our society is measured against a standard of absolute racial and ethnic harmony, we’ll always fail, as will every other society that ever existed. If anyone is waiting for a time when every residue of racial animosity has vanished from every  American, that time will never come.

As Isaiah Berlin put it, “from the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing was ever made.” All the “isms” will always be with us–racism, sexism, classism, etc. All we can hope is that the number of people affected by those mental and spiritual blights grows ever smaller, and that our laws and public accomodations are as free as possible of their taint.

Meanwhile, whatever that African-American father tells his  little girl about her white neighbors and her future in this country, I hope he will add Bill Clinton’s wise words: “There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America.”

Reluctant Blogger Says Obama’s “Pulling Me Back in!”

Early word’s in on just how Obama plans to pay for the Sorta Big Jobs Plan proposed the other night, which has much for the reasonable to like, I think. Among the money-raisers:

— A limit on itemized deductions and certain exemptions on individuals who earn over $200,000 and families who earn over $250,000, which would raise roughly $400 billion over 10 years.

— A proposal to treat carried interest earned by investment fund managers as ordinary income rather than taxing it at capital gains rates, which would raise $18 billion.

— Eliminating certain oil and gas industry tax breaks that would raise $40 billion.

— A change in corporate jet depreciation rules that would raise $3 billion.

Perfect he ain’t, but as I noted earlier, the Absolutely-No-Revenue-Increases-Ever Again-in-the-Universe Repubs have failed the common sense test. And  now that the O Man has come out of his helpless-pinata mode  of the summer, I’m. . .I’m. . . well, I’m feeling like these famous Italian tough guys. Can’t seem to give up on the guy!