Tuesday, March 31, 2009

If Schilling go into Hall of Fame, Jack Morris leads him there!

IF the now-retired pitcher Curt Schilling is deserving (says many) of getting voted into the Hall of Fame, then former Tiger hurler Jack Morris better be ahead of him.
Let's go to the videotape and numbers:
Schilling 20-year REGULAR SEASON CAREER:
216-146,
3.46 ERA,
83 complete games,
20 shutouts,
3,261 Ks;
20-game winner 3 times;
6-time all-star;
no Cy Youngs.
Morris 18-year REGULAR SEASON CAREER:
254-186,
3.90 ERA,
175 complete games,
28 shutouts,
2,478 Ks;
20-game winner 3 times;
5-time all-star;
no Cy Youngs.
Schilling POST SEASON CAREER:
11-2,
2.23 ERA,
4 complete games,
128 Ks;
3 World Series titles (Ariz., Boston)
Morris POST SEASON CAREER:
7-4,
3.80 ERA,
5 complete games,
3 WS titles (Det., Tor., Minn.).
Jack Morris' numbers are absolutely comparable. He was the premier starting pitcher of the 1980s, having won MORE games as a starter than any other pitcher. Yet he gets NO respect.
Schilling MIGHT get in because of this reputation for his post-season performances, which were superb. But so was Morris - 3-for-3 on WS teams.
I rest my case!

Great acting year ever

I was watching Turner Classic Movies the other day and began to think about what year should be considered the greatest year for actors in the male category.
Most movie buffs consider 1939 the best year for movies when Gone with the Wind, Wizard of Oz, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Wuthering Heights, The Women, Gunga Din, Beau Geste, Destry Rides Again, The Young Mr. Lincoln, Stagecoach, Of Mice and Men, Goodbye, Mr. Chips and Dark Victory led a parade of great films.
Among male actors, it would have to be a battle between these three years – 1962, 1946 and 1982.
Just look at the various best actor nominees:
In 1982, the field included Dustin Hoffman in “Tootsie” (truly his best role aside from “Midnight Cowboy”), Jack Lemmon in “Missing” (a stunning underplayed role in a powerful Costa-Graves film), Peter O’Toole in “My Favorite Year” (hilarious and heartbreaking as aging actor Alan Swamm), Paul Newman in “The Verdict” (robbed of his Oscar as the alcoholic lawyer given one last case) and eventual winner Ben Kingsley as “Ghandi” (brillaint but not like Newman).
In 1946, the field was led by Laurence Olivier as “Henry V,” Larry Parks in “The Jolson Story,” Gregory Peck in “The Yearling,” James Stewart in his career-defining role of George Bailey in “It’s a Wonderful Life,” but the winner was Fredric March, earning his second Oscar, for “The Best Years of Our Lives.”
All were brilliant performances.
But in 1962, look what was up for the Academy Award (and consider the movies themselves):
Marcello Mastroianni in the classic Italian farce, “Divorce-Italian Style;
Burt Lancaster's moving protryal of Robert Stroud, known as “Birdman of Alcatraz;”
Jack Lemmon's gut-wrenching Joe Clay, devastated by alcoholism in Blake Edwards’ “Days of Wine and Roses" (yes – the man who did “The Pink Panther” did this as well);
Peter O’Toole's stunning movie debut as T.E. Lawrence in “Lawrence of Arabia;”
and the deserved winner – Gregory Peck as the screen’s most beloved lawyer, Atticus Finch in “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
Can think politics and sports ALL the time.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Chrysler: a legacy of problems

Back in the time of my youth, I spent several summers in my teens working for my father at his company, which was in commercial printing. It did everything from major advertising posters, to colorful boxes for toys – you name it; it printed it.
But the backbone of the firm’s financial existence, in Detroit, Mich., was the automobile industry and the biggest client was Chrysler Motors. The biggest annual job for his company was printing the hundreds of thousands of handbooks for each new car owner, found in each vehicle’s glove department. And while Chrysler was the three in the Big Three, and not nearly as big as Ford or General Motors, it was the lifeblood of that company – the blood that each worker in that plant – from printer to stockman to executive – depended upon.
Dad’s company was no different than thousands of businesses across southeastern Michigan and the Midwest. One was interlinked with another and one small crack in the chain was felt all the way down the line. It was true in the late 1960s and it is true today – except the chain is much smaller and the links break MUCH easier than back in the day.
Even then, Chrysler was always in “trouble.” There was always talk of it closing down, being gobbled up by either Ford or GM; going the way of American Motors and Studebaker (remember the Rambler and the Avanti?). Somehow, Chrysler always survived because it knew its place and knew its strengths – engineering. Chrysler ALWAYS was known for having the best BUILT, best engineered cars – only they were NOT the most popular and never the cheapest (unlike Chevrolets or Fords).
The major developments in a car’s engineering and handling were usually developed by Chrysler – the hemi engine came from Chrysler, advanced in transmissions came from Chrysler (I learned to drive on a Chrysler “3000” which had PUSH BUTTON automatic transmission, located on the dashboard). Its power cars – the Dodge Charger and Plymouth Roadrunner and GTX – were TRUE muscle cars, not “sports” cars like the Mustang, Corvette or Camaro. They represented POWER, not meant to entice women for sex.
Chrysler first introduced air conditioning and torsion-spring suspensions (instead of air suspensions) and the 1961 Plymouth Valiant was the first car ever to have an alternator. The minivan was a Chrysler concept introduced to the public, and suburbia, in the 1980s to help the company through one of its many criseses.
Most police fleets were outfitted with Plymouth Furys or Dodges because they ran like tanks and lasted forever. When Elwood Blues tells his brother, Jake, about the new Bluesmobile in the movie “The Blues Brothers,” (“It’s got a cop motor, a 440-cubic-inch plant. It’s got cop tires, cop suspensions, cop shocks. It’s a model made before catalytic converters, so it’ll run good on regular gas ...”) he’s talking about a Chrysler (1974 Dodge Monaco) product.
But trouble has always followed Chrysler. Lee Iacocca had to save Chrysler in the 1980s from closure after the government passed a controversial bailout at the end of 1979. Eventually it survived but never thrived, like it did from 1936-49 when it was the second largest car company in America.
Chrysler has always thought gobbling up other failing companies would make it stronger; it assumed AMC, Jeep and others. It was sold to Daimler (Mercedes-Benz). But that German firm couldn’t keep it profitable before turning it over to Cerberus, which ran Chrysler into a zero worth company this past year.
Now the Obama Administration has essentially given Chrysler 30 days to either buddy-up with the Italian carmaker Fiat, or its curtains for Christine (which was a murderous red and white 1958 Plymouth Fury in Stephen King’s book and movie).
Just like that story, it was a beautiful car but eventually had to die. And some of us will shed a tear …

Thursday, March 26, 2009

George Kell dies at 86

Another symbol from my youth has disappeared. George Kell, a Hall of Famer player and great Detroit Tiger broadcaster, died earlier this week at the age of 86 at his home in his native Arkansas.
Long before Al Kaline and Kell existed as a TV broadcast unit, he had teamed with legendary Ernie Harwell on the TV side, and was at the microphone during the 1968 World Series championship season.
My favorite Kell quote came during a road trip to Comiskey Park (the OLD Comiskey) on a Sunday when George looked over the left field wall and saw this horrific storm cloud gather.
"Ooooooo," he said. "That's some kinda ugly comin.'"
He never overspoke, never talked over the action and if it needed "'splainin'," he took care of it from personal knowledge.
George Kell was a great Detroit Tiger and a credit to the community and the organization.
His kind will never be seen again!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Rick Perry is a prick

The Republican governor of the state of Texas, Rick “Helmet-hair” Perry, is … to simply put… a prick.
In Yiddish, the words one would use are schmuck, putz and petzulah. In more common English, the best description would be asshole, fool and … prick. To use any other kind of language would only bow to a matter of manners and kindness and based on the statements and performance of this one-time Democrat-turncoat-Republican, none are applicable.
Prick is.
He possesses one of the coldest political hearts ever seen in these often backwoods parts of the nation; the one person he cares about is … Rick Perry. You might remember Perry having uttered the words, “Adios, Mo Fo’” when discussing a potential political opponent a few years ago. The term “Mo Fo’” means, to the uneducated … “mother fucker” – most undistinguished and distasteful word to use – even for an Aggie graduate. However, it takes one to know one and Gov. Mo Fo has been fucking the Texas electorate longer than any other governor in Lone Star State history.
Perry cares about one thing – specifically, his political future, and only one voter – himself. All his decisions are made with those two specific things constantly in mind – all the rest of us can go to freaking hell for all he cares.
By any stretch of mercy, his political career will END next March – even among Republicans, when his Aggie ass is kicked to kingdom come by that former UT cheerleader, Kay Bailey Hutchison, currently one of two GOP U.S. Senators in D.C.
And then, if there is a God in heaven and justice in this world, SHE will be beaten by the Democratic nominee, perhaps Houston Mayor Bill White, who has shown more administrative ability and acumen to deliver consensus decisions and policies than EITHER Perry or Hutchison (both of whom are FAR too tied and stained as George W. Bush disciples – in fact, Perry became governor after Bush left Austin to be the worst president in modern times).
Perry recently shows his ass and true colors when he rejected millions of federal stimulus aid for Texas – and its unemployment compensation fund (which, by the way, is running out of funds due to the humungous overload of recent applications following a flood of layoffs over the past 3-4 months). Rather than show a centimeter of sympathy toward those Texans facing a terribly uncertain future, Perry continued to suck on the tit of Texas businesses – to which he is entirely beholden in word, deed and campaign contributions.
Perry is more worried about how businesses will have to react to paying more and longer into the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) fund. That’s a laudable position EXCEPT he never proclaimed one second of empathy for the thousands now unemployed, who were, and are, looking to the TWC for some temporary relief.
Perry is a horse that runs with blinders; he cannot see to either side of him. He constantly states that the Texas economy is in MUCH better shape than the national economy, when that’s simply NOT the truth. Texas merely runs a full 12 months BEHIND how the rest of the nation reacts – when the housing bubble burst 18 months ago, it hadn’t hit Texas … yet. It has NOW! All those job losses that slammed California and the Midwest are slamming Texas NOW!
And they aren’t seeing the traditional “poor” in those TWC unemployment lines (older, minority, less educated); it is the high tech, IT people being laid off in traditional Texas Republican areas and these people (who USED to vote for Perry) are mad as hornets about the lack of compassion from the Governor’s Trailer (the Mansion is still under reconstruction). There are men and women that USED to make six figures looking for jobs that simply are few and far between. More and more and more Texas employers are trimming staffs, freezing hires and cutting wages – from American Airlines to Texas Instruments to Toyota to school districts and city governments.
And Perry has no sympathy for any of them. He will NOT lead any reform of school taxation, to allow more flexibility of districts to cover their costs WITHOUT sacrificing teachers, programs or the ability to build needed classrooms for expanding enrollment. If Texas “bidness” is “agin” it, so is Governor Rick simply because they tell him so. It IS a case of “If I want your opinion, I’ll give it to you.”
People should remember that when he ran for re-election in 2006, Perry only garnered 39% of the vote in a three-person race and won (the other candidates were an unknown Democrat congressman and Kinky Friedman, a comedic songwriter and general gadfly). He never got any measure of a mandate yet preened into office as if swept by a tidal wave from the electorate. His cocky ass needs a refresher course in humility.
Texans MIGHT be against many levels of the federal stimulus package but turning their backs on the recently unemployed should not be one of those policies. Because … the unemployed vote, and without jobs, they have MORE time to organize other voters … to vote Perry out – and all the other far-right GOPers who support him. This used to be a reasonable state but all too often, it revels in holding up the likes of Karl Rove, Tom DeLay and other half-cocked assholes as prime Texas representation and political thinkers.
Which moves me to another point, and question: Why do SO many people turn their collective thumbs down and noses up at working men and women who build American automobiles as “Do nothing” assembly line workers, when they, themselves, do nothing more than sit at a computer and punch keyboards all day long? Since when is sitting on your ass at a computer HARD work? If I can do it, it ain’t HARD work.
It shocks, saddens and amazes me to hear the half-witted call to right-wing talk radio (locally and nationally) to bad mouth those who work in such laborious jobs. They also slam teachers because their spawn fail to be educated (because Mom and Dad are too fucking busy to give a shit about young Johnny’s education and won’t pay the rising cost to do it properly because God forbid they might not be able to add that extra bottle of Jack Daniels or waste another weekend in Shreveport, or get a bigger set of obnoxious tires for that jacked-up shit-kicker pickup truck).
They sour on people who are creative in thinking and performance and people who actually use their brains to solve problems, rather than resort to some sort of brute force (physically or psychological). They were the same ones who laughed at that MILF Sarah Palin when she made fun of “community organizers” during the 2008 election, as if that was not a respectable profession.
But, as was discovered last November, they are NOT the majority and not that moral; most of their stands are hypocritical. They are as much the problem as they are the solution.
Work is work and as that work evolves and changes with the times, respect for how a person earns a paycheck should be maintained. I respect the computer tech for his/her ability as I do for laborers who work with their hands. Each person is granted with a certain skill set and how we employ that set determines our value in life.
It’s a lot like religion – squarely between you and your “boss.” Others have NO right or business to judge YOU based on what THEY believe. It’s no way to run a country.
And Rick Perry is STILL a prick.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

And they say there's NO good news today ...

Economy crashing? Darfur genocide proceeding? Homeowners tossed into teh street? Child abuse still rampant? What in the world is happening to us? Id everything going to hell in a handbasket?
By God, there IS good news in the world today. Exactly from the source you REALLY thought it would emerge.
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WASILLA, Alaska (AP) -- Levi Johnston and Bristol Palin, the teenage daughter of Gov. Sarah Palin, have broken off their engagement, he said Wednesday, about 2 1/2 months after the couple had a baby.
Johnston, 19, told The Associated Press that he and 18-year-old Bristol Palin mutually decided "a while ago" to end their relationship. He declined to elaborate as he stood outside his family's home in Wasilla, about 40 miles north of Anchorage.
He also said some details of the breakup, rumors of which had been swirling on the Internet, were inaccurate.
Bristol Palin said in a statement that she was devastated about a report on Star magazine's Web site that quoted Levi's sister, Mercede, as saying Bristol "makes it nearly impossible" to visit the teenagers' infant son, Tripp. The baby was born Dec. 27.
"Unfortunately, my family has seen many people say and do many things to `cash in' on the Palin name," said the statement, which was issued through the governor's political action committee. "Sometimes that greed clouds good judgment and the truth."
SarahPAC spokeswoman Meghan Stapleton did not immediately respond to calls seeking further information. The governor's spokesman, Bill McAllister, declined comment.
Sarah Palin revealed her daughter's pregnancy just days after being named John McCain's running mate on the Republican presidential ticket. She had said in December that her daughter and Johnston "are committed to accomplish what millions of other young parents have accomplished, to provide a loving and secure environment for their child."
In an interview that aired on Fox News last month, Bristol Palin said her fiance saw the baby every day and described him as a "hands-on" dad.
Johnston and Palin had said they were considering a summer wedding.
"We both love each other," he told the AP in October. "We both want to marry each other. And that's what we are going to do."

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God bless America and God bless the Palin family. It restores your faith and credit in what makes white trash America truly lovable and so damn predictable.
Tell me all you Republicans out there ... you REALLY REALLY want this woman as the NEXT President of the United States???? Please tell me you're serious.
Wait a minute, let me get off the floor from laughing so hard.