Wednesday, October 29, 2008

And I'm back.

I apologize to my loyal readers for the brief pause in posting, my real life caught up with me. Needless to say there have been a ton of happenings that warrant some mention here so I will get underway.

First, the World Series has turned into a PR disaster. The MLB was already in trouble considering how few people cared to see the Tampa Bay Rays vs. the Phillies, but add on to that the horrible weather in Philly and the lack of oomph in hitting, and we can all admit it is a snoozer. I don’t understand what possessed them to continue with a game they knew was going to be inevitably rain delayed. Now we’ve waited two days to start a game tied in the 6th inning. What is even sadder is if the Phillies win this 3 inning game they will be crowned World Series champions in a very anti-climatic fashion. This is why only teams that can guarantee good weather (such as LA) should be allowed to play into October.

Second, the Presidential election is now in its final days and just in time for the death rattle we have a few new and fun stories. First, the cost of Palin’s wardrobe dominating the news has been fairly ridiculous. What did you want her to wear? Clothes she bought at the Wasilla Wal-Mart? Everyone should know by now that if you want to look good on TV it is going to cost money. The GOP is lucky Palin is already so attractive because with most female politicians there would be extensive re-work needed of hair and makeup. Second, the McCain aides vs. Palin aides throwing the mud back and forth behind the cover of anonymity. I think this was inevitable given the two personalities. McCain is old and likes to be revered. Palin is young and doesn’t apologize for her inadequacies. Her lack of deference was bound to cause some waves. But then again McCain doesn’t have much room for finger-pointing, he asked her to be on the ticket not the other way around. Finally, NPR has been doing a fascinating series on the importance of race in this election, if you have some time please listen. There is one woman who is concerned about being pushed off the sidewalk if Obama wins- no joke.

Third, for those of us in California we cannot turn on a radio/TV without hearing a commercial for one of the 12 propositions on the ballot. Add to that Measure R in LA County and you have up to 26 different versions of which side is the “Devil” and all the horrible things that will happen if you don’t vote one way or the other. Here are a few examples:
1. If we don’t pass Prop 8, pre-schoolers will not read The Hungry Hungry Caterpillar and instead be forced to read The Two Gay Princes who lived happily ever after.
2. If we don’t pass Prop. 4, you’re allowing statutory rape to go unpunished!
3. If you vote yes on Prop. 5, drug dealers will run rampant, and judges will be forced to hear multiple hearings on the same case rather than just sending everyone to prison.
4. If you vote yes on Prop. 10, we will live in a sunshine-filled, smog-free world, because we’ll have rebates to buy hybrids.
5. If you vote yes or no on Prop. 2, you’re somehow hurting animals and threatening California’s ability to produce eggs either way.

This is why I recommend everyone go to and read about the Props and the candidates to make their own informed decision on 11/04. As for me I’m just trying to keep my head above water until this is all over.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

And like that "Poof!". It was Over.

So it’s over and to make a long story short, I’m a little bit glad. I don’t know if my liver/brain/heart could take another series, between the drinking/stress/rapid emotional swings. It is time to move on, focus on College Football and the NFL and watch what messes GM Ned Coletti makes in the offseason. The problem will be money of course and in the Dodgers’ case lack thereof. What I can’t believe is that the Dodgers have $61 million currently wrapped up in 4 players, only 2 of which even play. Schmidt and Jones have taken their payday and retired to sunnier places. Kuroda and Pierre are definitely still useful even though their best days may be behind them. As for who they should keep I think Furcal is not a bad idea as long as they don’t pay too much for him, considering the injuries over the past 2 years. As much as I hate to say it, I feel like my brother from Whittier has hit the time in his career to go home to Mia and the twins in Manhattan Beach and spend the next few years trying to figure out where he wants to be an assistant coach. As for Kent and Maddux, I’m sure both of them will be just as happy spending more time with their family and showing up for their Hall of Fame induction ceremonies.

Now looking forward. What do the Dodgers need?

1. Starting pitchers: Although Chad didn’t have his best days in the postseason, the kid can still pitch and his youth is definitely an advantage. Add to that the wunderkind, Kershaw, and the Dodgers have two. With Kuroda that makes 3, as long as he doesn’t have too many starts. But we need 2 more to round it out, since Penny is done and D. Lowe will probably go elsewhere.
2. Another closer: We need more than just Broxton to come in and shut it down. I don’t think Saito’s chances of coming back are very good. Maybe this McDonald kid can be the new Gagne.
3. A slugger: I don’t care what position he plays, but it is necessary. I don’t know if we should shell out all of our money for Manny. In the end I wouldn’t say it was the worst move, I’m just a bit worried given the Dodgers’ history of paying a lot of money for players in their sunshine years.
4. A decent pitch hitter: I CANNOT sit through another season with Mark Sweeney.

I think our infield is fine, considering DeWitt, Loney and Berroa are all good defensive players, with J. Lo being the only one who came through consistently in the postseason. I’ll cut DeWitt some slack given its his first Major League season. But Ethier and Kemp both better step it up. Get it together boys! Oh and I forgot to mention Martin, I suggest Torre forcing him to dump Alyssa Milano (eww Penny’s sloppy seconds) and work on his anger management skills.

Well that’s all for Dodger baseball this year, time to start counting down to Spring Training. Anyone up for a road trip to Arizona in March?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Salt in an Open Wound

Even though I should probably save myself the heartache of watching the Dodgers try to win tonight, it will pain me as much not to see this group of guys play once more together at Dodger Stadium. The majority of my head knows there is almost no chance that the Dodgers will be able to overcome the 3-1 game deficit, but there's also a small part of my heart that believes the magic that was Kirk Gibson's homer in Game 1 of the World Series exactly 20 years ago to the day might lead the Dodgers to another miracle tonight.

Either way, its been a good run considering and I really shouldn't be as bummed out as I feel. I'm just hoping that tonight Torre takes it easy on the pitching staff, limiting changes to absolute necessities, that Chad can pull out one of his 2 hit winners, and the rest of the boys aren't too demoralized not to hit a few out of the park for old times sake.

If this is the end, then I must say Go Rays!, because who wants the Red Sox (aka the New Yankees) to win? I will offer this one trade to those Phillies' fan out there: 1 NLCS championship for electoral votes in November? I think the candidates should consider it, especially since I'm pretty sure their last debate will be a snoozer.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Two Things To Celebrate

In case some of you were too busy yesterday doing Sunday chores/errands and missed the grand game that was the Dodgers vs. the Phillies in Game 3 of the NLCS. Here's a brief recap: 1st inning: Dodgers make 5 runs primarily as a result of Rookie Blake DeWitt's triple, Philly Pitcher Jamie Moyer manages to hit Martin in the knee. 2nd inning: New pitcher for the Phillies barely misses hitting Martin again. 3rd inning: Hiro Kuroda of the Dodgers throws a high fast one sailing over Shane Victorino's head, who then grounds out and starts mouthing off after the 1st base out resulting in both benches being cleared and Manny running all the way from left field and having to be restrained by 3 players and a few coaches.

End result: Dodgers win 7-2. And we're ready to fight for the next 3 wins, and willing to take on any cheap shots from those no good Phillies. Now I know people from the East Coast think they're tougher than their West Coast counterparts. They think of us as spending our time doing yoga, drinking tea, and worrying about our tans. And that may be somewhat true, but we're brutal when put up to a fight, especially at Chavez Ravine with all the Raider fans who have nowhere to release their aggression on losing AGAIN this week.

I agree that Kuroda's pitch was dangerous, but the ball slipped (wink, wink) and it was about time the Phillies realize we're not about to take anymore cheap shots at Martin or Manny. There are too many good columns about yesterday's game, but my favorite is T.J. Simer's from the L.A. Times, check it out here.

My other celebration is for my favorite economist, Paul Krugman, who received the Nobel Prize in economics. He is such a great writer, making it easy for everyone to understand the inner workings of politics, public policy and economics. And his theory on international trade has real effects on how the global market is thought of throughout the field. Check out the article talking about why he received this award here and his fabulous column here.

And on a post note, congrats to the Rays with the 11th inning win on Saturday and today's butt kicking in Boston. Take that Red Sox. I wonder if they wished they had Manny being Manny right about now, but he's got our back NOW!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Maybe Direct Isn't Such a Good Idea

Most elections in California require voters not only to choose candidates, but to take positions on a number of propositions ranging in topics from farm animals to abortion. This November is no different, with 12 statewide measures on the ballot. I’ve always been curious as to how and why this form of direct democracy was chosen to be the most beneficial way to create public policy. The ballot proposition has been around since the late 20th century during the Progressive era of government with a goal of allowing citizens to act when the Government was unable to do so. The problem is who actually has the time/patience to sit through and read each of the 12 cumbersome propositions?

I know I don’t and I love public policy. What ends up happening is that these campaigns are decided upon by voters with little to no information taken mainly from the millions of dollars poured into paid advertising from either side of the campaign, taking their cue from newspaper editors, or as what has happened recently just voting No on all of them. Because then we’ll at least be right back where we started.

The problem I have with the initiative process is the vast amounts of money/time wasted fighting for or against these measures. If that same amount of cash was donated to worthy non-profit organizations working in the area that we’re trying to affect change in, its hard to imagine how much legislation and progress could be made towards some of these goals of: reducing teenage abortion (access to birth control and quality sex education), reducing gang participation (improving local schools, after-school programs, improved access to extracurricular activities) or increasing the amount of renewable energy (better rebates on solar panels or investment in research to make these technologies more affordable).

The average citizen barely has enough time to make sure he/she is registered, figure out where their polling place is and show up on Election Day. How can they really be expected to research an additional 12 issues with opinions on either side that make the other look like the devil incarnate? I feel that the Progressive leaders of our past had good intentions, but the initiative process needs to be reformed if we want it to continue to provide an outlet for true direct democracy and not just those with a few million dollars and nothing better to do.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Reveling in Saturday

Well the boys in blue did what many didn’t think was possible, they swept the team with the best record in the NL. They went from losing to the Giants in the final week of the regular season, to becoming an unbeatable team in the postseason. There really never was much home for the Cubs seeing as they trailed for 93% of the series. Now it is on to Philly, a match up I was hoping for, because the Dodgers have experience against them and hopefully won’t get psyched out by Hamels. It has been 20 years since the Dodgers had a postseason series win, and since 1963 since they’ve swept. Unfortunately this may mean Ned Coletti gets to keep his job, despite the Andruw Jones debacle. Hopefully, all of this will payoff next year in not only improving the level of play in the NL West, but encouraging players to re-sign with the Dodgers. Although it might have been fun to have a World “Freeway” Series, the Angels may have been a bigger threat than either the Rays or the Red Sox for the opposite reason. We play them too often.

Now there are just a few key things the Dodgers must keep in check in order to win the next 4:

1. The bullpen cannot be overused. This means the Dodgers must be able to win these games within 9 innings, extra innings will just tire everyone out and we don’t have that luxury in the postseason.
2. Fielding errors must be controlled. The Dodgers have some of the best infielders, but they have only played 3 games together as a team. There hasn’t been a lot of time to get used to how everyone else plays. Luckily, vets Blake and Furcal can help calm down Loney, and DeWitt.
3. We cannot only rely on Manny for the big hit. Martin, Loney, Ethier, Kemp, Blake and Furcal all need to be getting on base relatively consistently.
4. Patience is key at the plate. Everyone needs to draw as many balls as possible and tire out the Phillies’ bullpen. It worked against the Cubs and is directly related to our ability to put up 10 runs in one game.
5. Finally, they need to relax, have a good time and don’t psyche themselves out. This is a team that was behind the D’backs for most of the season and then morphed in September to become Los Doyers Deluxe. Torre will definitely contribute a lot to making sure everyone stays focused and doesn’t get ahead of themselves.

If we make it to the big game, I’m buying a big, new TV. Party at my house, but only if you’re willing to be VERY quiet when things are not going well and bring Santo Candles to light in between innings.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

It might not last forever, but it sure feels good

I woke up today in a state of euphoria. No, not because the Senate passed the bailout bill. No, not because tonight Gov. Palin might hammer the last few nails left in the McCain campaign’s coffin. The reason I woke up happy is very simple: The Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field in October. And, not just a simple win, a straight-up beat down including a GRAND SLAM by J. Lo, a beautiful golf swing homer by Manny, and a excellent insurance homer by Russell (aka Turtle). Wahoo! I think for the first time since the four run homer night in September 2 years ago, was I THIS excited to bleed Dodger blue. That’s the best thing about being a Dodger fan you never have to really believe you’ll win, and even if they don’t you know you’ll be back next April ready to start it all over again.

I know a lot of people who think baseball is boring to watch and the season is too long, but if you’re a fan its really the shortest 6 months you’ll ever spend (7 months if you’re lucky). April 1st seems like a blink of an eye ago when I took the day off to go watch my boys in their home opener at the start of their 50th season in L.A. Name one other pro-team we have here in L.A. that is as storied and respectable as the Dodgers. Name one other pro sporting event you can still go to for $10 a ticket and if you’re willing to make the trek, park for free. I know the beer is ridiculously expensive, the Dodger Dogs are not as good as they used to be and there are a ton of Raider fans, but I love those 9 innings even as I spend the majority of them cursing under my breath.

Give me Vin Scully, who’s been broadcasting the Dodgers since they were in Brooklyn. Give me Manny Ramirez, I made sure to read a book before I judged him (direct quote from a press conference given right after he was traded). Give me Joe Torre, the man who orchestrated this team from a bunch of battling vets vs. rookies to a team who can beat the club with the best record in the National League.

And, even though we have 10 more games to win before the World Series, there’s really (finally) a part of me that believes it might happen. Even if it doesn’t, I’m going to call up today to buy my 15 game package just so I’m there next year cheering “Let’s go Dodgers” and “Charge!”, booing bad calls and waiting to stand for the Wave when it hits Section 27 in Reserve.

For those of you who love baseball and/or sports in general, take some time to read this gem of an essay by Bill Simmons on Manny.