RIP

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The SEVEN
by Mack Williams
28 July 2014

I. Give Him A Ten

As we wish the best in blessings, each in our own way, for the family of the late Eric Garner – the young man that recently died after a chokehold was applied by members of the NYPD – a college student named Brian Hogan-Gary came up with a most unique way to memorialize him in a local tournament’s dunk contest:

http://www.sbnation.com/lookit/2014/7/27/5942391/dunk-over-nypd-cop-car-makes-new-york-playground-go-wild

Going forward, there will probably be some financial settlement paid to the Garner family…which of course could never replace Eric or compensate for his loss. But the thing about these type of settlements that rubs me the wrong way is that they are paid out of the coffers of the City of New York – which means that they come from the monies collected from all of the citizens of New York. Why should the rest of the population ultimately be financially responsible for the actions of a few?

I wonder what would happen if police misconduct settlement monies were taken out of Policemen’s Benevolent Association funds? Would the number of these incidents diminish?

II. So Sue Me

Really, Republicans? You really want to sue President Obama? You know, as a Democrat, I probably shouldn’t be in the business of giving you advice…but then again, you probably wouldn’t listen to me, anyway.

With that said, wouldn’t it be a better usage of your time to craft some legislation that could actually pass on a bi-partisan basis and help the citizens of this country?

III. So Impeach Me

Really, Republicans? Some of you really speak of impeaching President Obama? Are you familiar with the fact that the removal process in an impeachment requires a two-thirds ratification by the Senate? Therefore, do you really think that you guys can get sixty-seven votes to remove the President? If you can’t, the whole thing is a sham, a colossal waste of time.

And money, for that matter. As in the case of number one above, if the Congressional Republicans were to be personally responsible for the costs associated with suing and impeaching the President, I’m sure all talk of this would cease.

IV. Must Be Great…

Given the number of requests I get to play Candy Crush Saga, it must be chess-like in quality. But please don’t be insulted if I don’t play.

V. Please Don’t Complain

Colby Lewis, a pitcher for the Texas Rangers, lashed out against Colby Rasmus of the Toronto Blue Jays, a left-handed batter against whom the Rangers had employed a shift. Rasmus bunted Lewis’ pitch down the vacated third base line…vacated because such shifts virtually leave the entire left side of the infield empty, since the third baseman and shortstop move out of their regular positions.

Lewis also complained because it was only a 2-0 game at that point and Rasmus was just trying to pad his batting average, claiming that this was not playing the game “the right way.” Getting into baseball tradition is a whole different discussion…but suffice it to say that it is the batter’s job to get hits; if he does not, he will be out of a job. Lewis wouldn’t have complained if – with 6 of the 7 players (other than he and the catcher) on the right side of the diamond – Rasmus had smacked it through the infield but it was fielded by the third baseman in short right field. So since you have determined that Rasmus will generally pull the ball, and you radically align your fielders in the expectation that he will do just that, you’re upset because he chooses to bunt the ball where your players are not.

If more people did that, some of the massive usage of these shifts would go away.

VI. The DH

One baseball aficionado – and outstanding coach – that I know made a post stating that designated hitters are not Hall of Fame-worthy. I’m a National League fan at heart and prefer the non-DH game and the increased strategy therein – but I would beg to differ. As much as I prefer the NL game, the union will never vote to abolish the DH, which at the very least keeps jobs in place for older players that have slowed up but can still rake it. So since it is here to stay, we have to deal with it – and recognize that it has spawned an American League position.

If a position is created – whether in Major League Baseball or on your job – someone should not be dissed for excelling at it just because you would rather that position not be there. They didn’t create it – they just worked it given that it was created. And to that end, there should be a place in Cooperstown for Edgar Martinez and – most definitely – Big Papi.

VII. Happy Birthday

A friend of mine had a birthday yesterday, a birthday shared with a couple of famous people – namely WWE personality Triple H and Alex Rodriguez. She’s single right now…which means that unlike Triple H, her father-in-law is not the head of her company…which means that she might not have the year, financially speaking, that he has.

A-Rod’s year has been kind of slow by recent standards, while his Yankee teammates fight for a playoff spot in his absence during the Jeter farewell tour season. And I’m glad that the AL East has been underwhelming and the injury-depleted Yanks have something to play for. But next year with Jeter gone, from an entertainment standpoint, it will be great to see A-Rod back. It won’t be dull.

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The Prodigal Son

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The SEVEN
by Mack Williams
14 July 2014

I. The Prodigal Son

For some reason…largely due to what I envisioned being the resulting public relations bonanza…I always envisioned LeBron James ultimately returning to the Cleveland Cavaliers. But I figured it would be towards the end of his career as he took his curtain call a la Yankees Mariano Rivera last year and Derek Jeter this year. Never did I expect it to be at age 29, in his prime – and, therefore, never did I expect the reaction to be on the level that it was.

The NBA’s Prodigal Son has returned home.

Of course, while there are similarities, there are also differences between LeBron and the character described in Luke’s Biblical account. Both moved away from home under not quite the best circumstances, leaving friends and/or family and the community heartbroken. Unlike the Biblical character – who had to ask his dad for his share of the family fortune ahead of time – James made “The Decision” in 2010 not for financial reasons, but in search of an NBA championship that had eluded him in Cleveland during his first seven years. And he succeeded in this quest; after only reaching the Finals once during those seven years, LeBron helped lead the Miami Heat to two consecutive championships – in 2012 and 2013 – as well as trips to the Finals in his other two years in Miami.

The Biblical guy didn’t meet with the same type of professional success, squandering his fortune on what one translation describes as “riotous living” and, unlike LeBron, finding himself in a position where he had to accept a most menial position with no Dwyane Wade as a running partner and no championship rings in sight. But like LeBron, he matured during his time away and came to the realization that home was a viable alternative – and the reception each received shows that you can go home after all. Perhaps there are some people who are neither in the NBA or the Bible that have distanced themselves from family or friends that can learn from these stories.

II. Hot In Cleveland

You can never please everyone, no matter what the situation. The Biblical character’s brother was most upset that a big party was thrown in honor of his runaway sibling, especially since he had remained with his dad and had never been the recipient of such a big bash. In the current example, the folks most upset now – and it’s their own fault – are the Cleveland-area “fans” that burned their expensive LeBron James jerseys four years ago.

III. Guys, Let’s Try This…

The Republican National Committee chose Cleveland to host the 2016 national convention, which is slated to begin around the same time that the NBA Finals will be taking place. Therefore – and I can almost certainly guarantee this never came up in discussion prior to last week – there could be a scheduling conflict if the Cavaliers are playing for the 2016 championship.

But let’s backtrack for a second…they’re holding the convention in Cleveland for what reason? Well, it has become common for the parties to choose battleground states to host their conventions, in part hoping that the business and publicity brought to the city and the state as a result of the convention will give their candidate a boost which could help them win an highly contested state. For example, the Democrats nominated Barack Obama in Denver, CO in 2008 – and Obama carried the state.

So obviously the Republicans see Ohio – often thought of as the ultimate bellwether state – as a problem, and think that convening there will lead people to forget their status as the “party of No” – as in No healthcare, No early voting, No jobs bill, No more Latinos, etc. Unless they plan to nominate LeBron James, it doesn’t matter when they convene in Ohio, they won’t win.

IV. The Heat Is Off

Pat Riley’s post-LeBron statement boldly pointed out that the Heat had won before, and would do so again. While that was the type of statement that had to be made – he couldn’t very well tell his fan base that now that LeBron is gone, we expect to be in last place and the lottery for years to come – there are any number of Heat players who will be trying their absolute best to make that happen.

The recently-acquired Danny Granger is one. Once “the man” in Indiana, he spent essentially two years out with injuries only to return to find Paul George & Lance Stephenson had taken his time on the court and his place of importance. Landing mid-season with the Clippers, he found little time there and little interest in his return. So he wants numerous people to be proven wrong. Even Wade and Chris Bosh – Wade due to the effects of injuries, Bosh due to people considering him a third wheel – will be motivated to show that they weren’t just riding the coattails of number 6.

V. For The Love Of Money

As a native New Yorker, I can state that it is easy to love what the city has to offer. I’m sure that Carmelo Anthony, and his actress-wife LaLa, love life in the city. But in terms of his basketball future, I would suspect that his main reason for remaining with the Knicks was…well, there are 129 million of them or so.

The Knicks failed to make the playoffs in the Eastern Conference this season, and now Cleveland is a playoff team, which means that they have leapfrogged over the Knicks. It is now that much harder to make the playoffs in the admittedly-weaker East, so unless Carmelo knows Phil Jackson and Derek Fisher have 2015 free agency rabbits in their hats, his free agent decision may not be the best in terms of playoff success. Da Bulls might have been the place for him to go.

VI. The Russian Judge

Google Clifford Hall and read about how Texas Judge Lisa Millard ordered him to prison for child support payments he had made. Her awful ruling reminds me of the Olympic “Russian judge,” whose obviously awful scoring led the wrong skaters to win in 2002. Hope the petition on Change.org urging her removal gains traction…but if it doesn’t, Texans, she’s up for reelection this year. Do what you gotta do.

VII. I Beg To Differ

Republicans want to sue and impeach President Obama because he’s not doing a good job. If only the stock market could speak…it would probably try to argue them down.

The Dow finished the day today at 17,055, just missing a record-high close.