Wednesday, July 29, 2015

(Base) Ballin'


There is a lot of baseball today in today's post, because there has been a lot of baseball in my life lately, and certainly anyone seeking to understand me (the ultimate purpose of the blog, after all) will need to figure out the importance of the National Pastime in making me Me. For instance, it helps explain why this was one of my most prized possessions...
1969 Topps Card
...and why I have never quite gotten over losing it.

Baseball isn't my only passion, of course. I also have music (and my guitar harem), literature, model railroading, movies and TV shows, cooking, fine art, collecting Starbucks coffee mugs, writing, technology, and running the Wild Kingdom Bed & Breakfast. All of these enthusiasms enrich my life, not least because they remind me of how foolish it is to get too caught up in the world of politics and public policy disputes (another of my enthusiasms, as it happens).

For someone like me who employs the rhetorical arts mostly in the realm of politics and public policy, it is easy to forget that, ultimately, almost none of it will matter much. Life will go on, and as the saying goes there are no permanent victories in politics anyway. One hundred years from now, for instance, I am hopeful that the Common Core State Standards Initiative will be nothing more than a quaint memory. That doesn't mean I don't derive some satisfaction from opposing it vigorously now, of course, but I don't let that project consume me.

There are times when I think the progressive world-shapers need nothing so much as to be reminded of the absurdity of thinking they can achieve any sort of of permanent utopia. As Percy Bysshe Shelley reminded us in "Ozymandias," one of the most famous sonnets ever written, that is man's ultimate folly:
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shatter'd visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamp'd on these lifeless things,
The hand that mock'd them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains: round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
And I rather imagine Ozymandias accomplished a bit more during his reign than banning the Big Gulp...

Things That Make Me Happy: Clutch Hitting Edition

Last night my beloved Kansas City Royals played Game 2 of their three-game series against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field. Unlike Monday night, when the Royals scored early and often and won easily, last night was a tense pitcher's duel. Heading into the 9th inning, the game was a 1-1 tie. Time for some clutch hitting, and 1B Eric Hosmer provided exactly that...

Hosmer already had two hits and had driven in the Royals' only run in the 4th inning when he came to bat with two out in the top of the 9th. Indians' starter Trevor Bauer, who took a tough-luck loss despite pitching a complete game, said after the game that he was trying to pitch around Hosmer. The fateful pitch was a curve that was supposed to bounce before it got to home plate, but Bauer didn't quite get it low enough. Hosmer hit his 11th home run of the season, and Greg Holland got his 22nd save in the bottom of the 9th, aided by a play some are calling The Defensive Play of the Year. All-Star Wade Davis picked up the win, and is now 7-1 with a 0.41 ERA.

The Royals will send Jeremy Guthrie (7-6, 5.35 ERA) to the mound in this afternoon's finale as they go for the sweep. He'll be opposed by Indians right-hander Corey Kluber (5-11, 3.59). The Royals are 3-0 so far this year against the defending American League Cy Young Award winner, but I take nothing for granted...

"To hear you tell it, they're going to go 0-63 the rest of the way."
Come on, now...I'm not that big a pessimist...most days, anyway...

After I Win the Powerball Drawing...

...the next time you hear from me I'll be posting from here:

Sunset at Ipanema Beach, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

"You sure they've got WiFi on the beach down there, cowboy?"
 I'll figure something out...

Another New Royal

On Tuesday afternoon the Royals announced that they had completed a trade with the Oakland A's, sending minor league pitchers Aaron Brooks and Sean Manaea to the A's in exchange for utility man Ben Zobrist.

While Ben is clearly no longer the player he was during his best seasons, as a switch-hitter who can play multiple infield and outfield positions he will give the Royals some much-needed depth. This will be especially important once those early-season rainouts start turning up on the schedule...

As someone who has followed the Royals for 46 years, though, I'm not quite sure what to think. In their entire history, the team has never pursued the strategy of trading prospects for proven talent during the season, much less during a season when they have the league's best record after four months of play. If adding Zobrist and Johnny Cueto helps the Royals win a World Series title, then it will be hard to argue with the strategy. If we fall short of that goal, however, and Zobrist and Cueto are gone next year, well...

Longtime fan and analyst Rany Jazayerli has a great article up on Grantland that captures this Royals fan's confusion and ambivalence perfectly...

An Advocate's Life in the Information Age

Thanks for Everything, Joe...

In order to make room on the roster for new No. 1 starting pitcher Johnny Cueto, Royals right-hander Joe Blanton was designated for assignment. That doesn't necessarily mean we've seen the last of Joe in Kansas City, but in any event Royals fans are grateful for this contributions this season.

He began the season pitching out of the bullpen, but when the Royals suddenly needed a starter he stepped in and did a professional job. When they no longer needed him in that role, he went back to the bullpen without complaint and pitched well in that role again.

His final (for now) 2015 line: 15 games, 4 starts, 41.2 innings, 2-2, 2 saves, 3.89 ERA. Thanks, Joe...
"Good job, man."

Until Next Time...

Even with the rain we've been having, it has been VERY hot and muggy here in southwest Iowa of late. And, as usual, these really warm summer days and nights put me in mind of...well, something I never did even once in my life, but which always looked like a lot of fun: surfing.

When I was a kid, beach movies were fairly popular, and everyone in them looked like they were having a blast, especially the surfers. If only I had been able to swim...and been athletic enough...and lived near an ocean...well, watching stuff like today's send-off video is the closest I ever got. But somehow, hearing The Beach Boys on a hot summer day always seems to make me a surfer, at least in my own mind. Enjoy...

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