Friday, February 19, 2010

Letter to Sportswriter

I very much agree with you about Ron Santo. When I started writing about Hall issues years ago, there were three main omissions which irritated me: Richie Ashburn, Bill Mazeroski, and Santo. The problem is that the Hall voters can't seem to get it through their heads that defense is important. They consistently overlook players who are worthy of the Hall, either for their defensive accomplishments, or for a combination of offense and defense, as in the case of Santo.

Now, Ashburn and Mazeroski have been enshrined, but Santo is still waiting. No doubt he is worthy based on his total career (offense and defense).

Another omission whch has come up in more recent years is Keith Hernandez. The best defensive first baseman ever, and a pretty darn good hitter as well. Yet, Keith got dropped off the ballot when he failed to receive even 5% of the vote!

The last part of your column speaks to another problem with Hall voting. Voting is set up so that a person has to be considered in a single category; i.e., total contributions to the game cannot be considered. I agree with you that total contributions *should* be considered, but as of now they are not. Santo, like Richie Ashburn, has made considerable contributions in broadcasting after his playing career ended. Certainly Ashburn would have been admnitted sooner had total contributions been considered. Certainly Leo Durocher would have been admitted sooner had his playing and managing career *both* been considered. And other examples could be mentioned as well.

Keep up the good work on the sports pages. I'm with Earl Warren, who famously said "I always turn to the sports page first, which records people's accomplishments. The front page has nothing, but man's failures."

Letter to The Lima News

A recent letter writer accuses President Obama of "forcing his policies down our throats". This is clearly not true. Obama has actually been more cautious in advancing his agenda than any other president in recent memory.

If Obama were aggressively pursuing his agenda, he would have closed the Guantanamo prison by now, and he would have rescinded the "don't ask, don't tell" policy for the military. He also might have brought home many of our troops which are deployed in over 150 countries around the world.

Obama's fault is not rashness, as the letter writer claims, but rather timidity. He seeks to work with the Republicans, despite the fact the Republicans have made no effort to work with him. I say he should get on with the work we elected him to do, and the Republicans should get out of his way.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Our Military Abroad

Three items in the paper on successive days last week called my attention to this issue. First a column by Pat Buchanan, entitled "It's time to bring our Marines home". Pat points out that it has been 65 years ago that Japan surrendered, and yet our Marines still occupy Okinawa. Japan doesn't seem to want them there, so why stay?

Pat ends: "With the exception of the Soviet Union, few nations in history have suffered such a relative decline in power and influence as the U.S. in the last decade. We are tied down by two wars, are universally disliked and are funding back-to-back deficits of 10% of gdp, as our debt is surging to 100% of gdp.

A stategic retreat from Eurasia to our own continent and country is inevitable. Let it begin by graciously acceding to Japan's request we remove our Marines from Okinawa and politely inquiring if they wish us to withdraw US forces from the Home Islands as well."

In an era domoinated by superifcial day-to-day analyses of immediate political concerns, it is refreshing to see a longer range and more thoughtful analysis of an issue, any issue. An example of the former: "The Daily Show" had a hilarious depiction of the news accounts of the first day of school for Obama's daughters. It showed network after network devoting precious air time to this frivolous so-called story. Living in an era like this, any example of real thought and analysis is a breath of fresh air.

The day after Buchanan's column appeared, the paper had an editorial decrying the huge defense budget being proposed. Even after adjusting for inflation, the budget is significantly larger than at the height of the Vietnam War, or at the height of the cold war. Have we gone mad? And where is the "change you can believe in" that Obama promised?

Then the next day a news item saying that Japan is balking at the $2 billion a year it is costing to support the 47,000 American military stationed in Japan.

According to Wikipedia, as of 2008 our military was stationed at more than 820 installations in at least 135 countries. This is more than half the countries in the world! Most of them would prefer we not be there, but often our presence is tolerated because of the economic benefits to having soldiers spending money in the country. Let's demand an end to American imperalism and bring our troops home, all of them, wherever they may be!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Undercover Informants

NPR's Morning Edition this morning had the start of a series on undercover informants. The first account was of a guy who infiltrated a drug ring across the border in Mexico. He ended up being involved in the drug ring's 8-month reign of terror in which many murders were carried out.

Justice Douglas took the position that undercover informants were incompatible with a free and democratic society, and I tend to agree. The down side just seems too great.

The "ends justifies the means" idea is the same argument used in favor of torture. Some things like this just are so incompatible with our values that they should never be permitted.

Which are the real sports?

I have already demonstrated pro basketball is not a real sport. Too much subjectivity on the calls, too much emphasis on spectacular dunks, too much overlooking of traveling by the officials, etc. Pro football is not far behind, though it is not so obviously a show as pro basketball.

With the winter olympics coming up, one has to question figure skating. The scandal some years back illustrates how subjective this so-called sport is. It is really more art than sport, and it is good art, to be sure, just not a sport.

Auto racing is big in the US, but it clearly is not a sport, though it would like to pretend it is. The idea that drivers do not qualify for races, but rather cars do, shows it is a test of engineering rather than a true sport. The way NASCAR allows drivers to bump each other demonstrates it is not a real sport.

Any "race" that involves teams is bogus. Why can't there be a level playing field, where everyone has an equal chance? But no, in auto racing and in cycling we have "teams", where the favored competitor on that team gets help from his teammates.

Hockey encourages fighting, which makes it bogus. It is strictly a show for the fans.