Saturday, October 24, 2015

Blue Magic

Things That Make Me Happy: Fall Classic Edition

Last night at Kauffman Stadium in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series, my beloved Kansas City Royals led the Toronto Blue Jays 3-1 after 7 innings, and needed to get just six more outs from their bullpen to secure a return trip to the World Series. That would have been doing things the easy way, but instead things got complicated.

I'm too exhausted from staying up so late (there was a 45-minute rain delay in the 8th inning, among other things) to go into much detail, so you'll just have to read the recap. I've never seen anything like it, but then that has been the story of this entire postseason for the Royals, who held on to win the game 4-3.

Congratulations to All-Star SS Alcides Escobar, who was named MVP of the ALCS. All he did was play otherworldly defense while hitting .478 with 6 runs scored and 5 RBIs in the six games.

Congratulations also to All-Star reliever Wade Davis, who had to get five outs tonight, including a wait of more than an hour between the 8th and 9th innings thanks to the rain delay. He not only got them, he did a Houdini act in the 9th, escaping from a jam where the Blue Jays had runners on second and third with no one out. His postseason streak of innings without permitting an earned run has now reached 16 2/3, and he richly deserved to get the "W" last night.


Congratulations to the whole team for repeating as American League Champions, and especially to manager Ned Yost, the winningest manager in franchise history and a lock to join the Royals Hall of Fame eventually. Thanks, man...

"So glad we were able to clinch it in front of the best fans in baseball!"

In a weird twist, the 2015 World Series, which will begin at Kauffman Stadium next Tuesday night, will match the team that won the title in 1985 (Royals) with the team that won the title in 1986 (Mets). Neither team has won the World Series since, although each team has had one crack at doing so (the Mets in 2000, the Royals last season).

"Really looking forward to another I-70 Series between the Royals and the Cardi...oh, wait..."


Great Speech

As I have noted previously, part of what makes Saturday mornings pleasant for me is the block of Law and Order episodes TNT runs. This morning, one of the episodes they showed was "Vaya Con Dios," in which ADA Jack McCoy pursues a prosecution against a Chilean military officer. The case winds up in the Supreme Court, and the episode includes brief oral arguments from both attorneys. McCoy has the better argument,
in my view, and he gives perhaps his most memorable closing argument...

Sam Waterston as ADA Jack McCoy

"Man has only the rights he can defend. Our most basic right is life. It's enshrined not only in our Constitution but in the charter of the United Nations."

"The prohibition against taking a life is found in our most ancient texts and in the statutes of every nation. Every murder, whether in Brooklyn, Santiago, Rwanda or Kosovo, demands punishment by whatever legal means possible. Otherwise, the right to life is just an empty promise."

He goes on to argue that the prohibition against the taking of a life is absolute, and can tolerate no exceptions. The law is actually more complicated than that, of course, but it is a stirring bit of rhetoric.

And I will admit that I get a little choked up at the peroration, every time: "Man has only those rights he can defend. Only those rights."

Me too, old friend...

That's certainly something to keep in mind when we have people running for president who are openly contemptuous of major parts of the Bill of Rights...

Until Next Time...

When the San Francisco-based rock band Santana released their eponymous debut album in August of 1969, it coincided with their legendary performance at the Woodstock festival. Their music didn't get a lot of radio play initially because the group's sound was so unusual, but thanks to word-of-mouth (and the band's inclusion in the acclaimed documentary film Woodstock), that album reached No. 4 on the Billboard 200 Album chart, and created enormous expectations for their follow-up album.

That album, Abraxas, was released in September of 1970, and more than met those expectations. It hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200 on October 24, 1970, the week before Halloween my senior year in high school. (After being bumped from the top spot for four weeks by Led Zeppelin III, it returned to No. 1 on November 28 and held that spot for the next five weeks). I enjoyed this album much more than the band's debut, and
I practically wore out my copy. I could also be counted on to play both "Oye Como Va" and "Samba Pa Ti" on the jukebox on every visit to the pizza place my friends and I frequented. There really wasn't anything on the music scene that sounded remotely like Santana, and Carlos Santana's guitar-playing was and is inspiring.

Today's send-off is the band's blending of British bluesman Peter Green's 1968 song "Black Magic Woman" with "Gypsy Queen," a 1966 instrumental composition by jazz guitarist Gábor Szabó. This was the first single from the album, and it peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100. It still sounds wonderful to these ears, even 45 years later. Enjoy...

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