Are You Ready For Some Baseball?

It’s that time of year again – and this time even more hope is springing eternal in the human breast. A full 162 game season of major league baseball is approaching!

Fans will be allowed in the stands – at limited capacity to start, certainly. But there will be games, and there will be fans present.

The season looks to be a real barn-burner (admittedly, that can be said about every season – but so what). The Dodgers have a really good chance at repeating as World Series Champions – though the Padres are going to have something to say about that. While the Yankees stand a good chance of ending their pennant drought, the Twins are hoping to just win a playoff game. The Pirates are hoping that Ke’Bryan Hayes will be enough of a reason for people to care about them.

Speaking of rookies, there’s the usual crop of young studs that bring excitement to every game they’re in. Juan Soto. Fernando Tatis Jr. Randy Arozarena. Francisco Lindor. Shohei Ohtani. And the veterans that are always worth watching. Are the Angels good enough to get Mike Trout to the playoffs? Can Jacob de Grom win a third Cy Young Award? How good will Clayton Kershaw be now that he’s off the “can’t win in the playoffs” schneid? Will the tweaked ball have any effect on Aaron Judge’s power output? When will Miguel Cabrera hit career home run number 500?

I suppose I should make some predictions, er, best guesses.

The Dodgers and Padres will fight to the last day of the season, but Los Angeles will emerge as division winners. The Braves will come out ahead in a crazy scramble in the NL East. No one cares about the mediocre NL Central. The depth on the Dodgers’ roster will enable them to return to the WS again.

In the AL, the Yankees and Twins will be the teams to beat – and they will face each other for the pennant. The Twins will have already ended their streak of playoff futility, but they will still lose to their October nemesis.

Dodgers and Yankees in the World Series is as far as I want to go here.

Anyway, I’m hoping I’ll be able to get to a game or three this year.

Play ball!

Fixing the Olympics – II

Less than one year from now, Beijing is set to host the 2022 Winter Olympics. Needless to say, there’s much talk about boycotting them over China’s miserable human rights record.

There’s been the usual suggestion of a boycott, but we all know that doesn’t work. It only harms the athletes who don’t get to participate, and the host country gets to control the narrative as well as get bragging rights from winning all the medals.

Mitt Romney, who organized the Salt Lake City Olympics, so he has some experience in these things, suggest we should participate – but counter all the Chinese propaganda by telling and showing the truth about what they are doing in Hong Kong and with the Uighurs.

But that isn’t a permanent solution to the problem. The scale of hosting the Games means that more than likely, a totalitarian state that can ignore the cost will wind up as a host. Some suggest moving the Olympics to a permanent site, but that just places the costs onto a single country – and the same country every time.

There might be a better solution.

Spread the Games out.
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Happy Videos

Because we can always use something to make us feel good….

Matt Harding was a video game designer who decided he needed a break from making games were the goal was to kill things. So he traveled the world, and put together a clip reel of him doing a goofy little jig in interesting places. It went modestly viral, and was seen by someone at Stride Gum. They approached him with a marketing idea: “How about a second trip? We’ll deal with the logistics and permissions, you just be there and do that dance, and stick our logo in your video.” He agreed (hey, more travel to interesting places!), and that video went even MORE viral. Fans commented that they would have LOVED to dance with him if only they had known about it. So Harding asked the people at Stride if they’d be interested in sponsoring another trip – this time with other people dancing, and a blog where people could follow the journey. Stride said, “OK, sure!”

A few more videos followed. FIFA helped him make one for the World Cup in South Africa. He returned to game design, editing, and writing. Presumably, he and his family are doing fine.

It helps if you know how long Cubs fans have been waiting for this, but you don’t really have to know much about baseball to feel the sheer joy on display here. This has got to be the Best Reaction Video Ever. I double-dog-dare you to find a better one.

By the way, if there are any other videos (no cute animal ones, please; those are too easy) that you’d like to share, give the link in the comments – and I just might add it!

 

Overrated-Underrated: Medieval Battle

Warfare in Medieval Europe is a bit of an odd duck. Wars, such as they were, were rarely about acquiring territory or expanding the national geopolitical reach. Instead, they were more about personal or family politics, and ransoming prisoners. On the tactical level, things were barely and rarely more than massed frontal assaults. Most “armies” were around the size of a modern brigade, and forget about grand campaigns. It was more about who could get the most trained troops to the battlefield first. And there was rarely anything epic or glorious in the fighting.

But a few battles from that era still stand out – so of course some are overrated, and some are underrated.

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Between the Dynasties

I was musing recently on World Series of years gone by. In the 1950s, it was all Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Yankees, with a few interruptions from the New York Giants and Cleveland Indians. Then the Milwaukee Braves, with Henry Aaron, Eddie Matthews, and Warren Spahn came in for two years while the Dodgers and Giants were moving to California.

Then suddenly it’s the 1960s, and you’ve got the Mickey Mantle Yankees in their twilight, and the Bob Gibson Cardinals and Sandy Koufax Dodgers (with the Willie Mays & Willie McCovey Giants in a brief supporting role).

But there’s an interesting gap of three years in there – where three teams that almost always get left out of the discussion managed to win pennants while playing exciting baseball.
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Censure and the Insurrection

I just sent this off to my senators (both Democrats, naturally). While I cannot expect them to personally read it, someone in their offices might….

Dear Senator:

Like you and all decent people, I was appalled at what happened yesterday (January 6). I am relieved to know that neither you nor any of your colleagues or staff were harmed in the insurrection.

However, I have a feeling of dismay that the entire disgraceful and shameful day may be passed over without any action being taken to punish those who, if they did not incite the events, at least aided and abetted them.

By supporting and even promoting the baseless claims of a fraudulent election, these Senators can be legitimately accused of seditious conspiracy (18 U.S. Code § 2384):

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO)
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI)
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)
Sen. James Lankford (R-OK)
Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT)
Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA)
Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN)
Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN)
Sen. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY)
Sen. Roger Marshall (R-KS)
Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS)
Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-TN)
Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL)

I understand that it requires a 2/3 vote of the Senate to expel a member. I am too pragmatic to expect that to happen.

A Resolution of Censure, however, only requires a simple majority. I STRONGLY encourage you to pursue that option.

At the very least, the senators listed above should be stripped of all their committee assignments. I don’t think you need a vote to do that.

2020 in Review

Well….

That was….a year…..

And as usual, it’s time to review the past year at Pure Blather.

I managed 55 posts. Fewer than previous years, but not as few as I thought. The Olympics were postponed; the baseball season was cut short; I didn’t find as much inspiration to talk politics as I thought I would (I had very little to add to what the mainstream sources were saying); I didn’t have the handful of posts about vacations and travel…. I probably just wrote about some of the “filler” topics I keep in reserve. I do need to refill that reserve – it’s pretty empty right now….

Even though I had my fewest posts, I still had the largest number of visitors (3,339) and page views (4,464) ever. A big surge since last year, too. Maybe I’m just promoting this place a bit more – at places where people are going to read my comments and stop by here for a visit.

That self-promotion must have affected the Top Five Post for 2020:

5. Baseball is Killing Itself (June 5) – 23 views
4. Those Election Maps (November 6) – 27 views
3. Movie Review: The Gamera Trilogy (May 8) – 50 views
2. Scrooge & Marley (December 8) – 68 views
1. The Gallifrey Conundrum (January 29) – 109 views

How else can one explain one of my last posts of the year getting so many views? I did brag about “Scrooge & Marley” quite a bit – I’d say it’s my favorite post of the year.

“Indiana Jones and the Top Men” is still my most viewed post all time. No other one is even close.

I’ve had visitors from all over the world. I’d like to have a “per capita” number, but that’s a bit much to ask from WordPress when you’re too lazy to figure it out yourself. But it is kind of odd to find that you’ve had 31 visitors from tiny Singapore, and only 3 from all of Russia…. Eh, I shouldn’t spend too much time on that. Who knows how many of those are actual humans and not bots….

As far as 2021, we’ll see. I’m hoping the libraries will open up so I can have access to real books and not just e-book versions of things in the public domain. It would be nice to talk more about baseball – and the Olympics. I’m hoping I’ll be able to keep up the one post per week rate, but if not….blame it on my trying to learn this new and annoying “Block Editor” here at WordPress.

It Ain’t Over Til It’s Over

There’s a lot to like about this time of year. But one thing that always annoys me is that people start publishing their “Best of the Year” lists well before the year is over. I understand that they need to get their articles out there, and that when we put up our new calendars, everyone is looking forward rather than backward. But with two or even three weeks left in the year? That’s plenty of time for things to happen. I get that you may want to give your writers the holidays off. But that’s no reason you can’t write up the articles and then publish them in the week between Christmas and New Year’s.

Anyway, for me this will be my last post of 2020. I haven’t posted as frequently as I have in previous years; I can only note that I almost always get five or six posts out of reporting on my vacation – and this year, well, travel was out of the question. The baseball season was drastically shortened, so that took care of one source of inspiration. Libraries have been closed for most of the year, so my reading has dropped off (you’ll note that most of the books I reviewed were public domain works that are available for free online).

I also found I didn’t really have much to say about the presidential campaign and election that wasn’t already said in the real media – and better than I could have done, anyway.

So I’m going to take it easy for the next two weeks. Watch some movies online, read some more free e-books, and figure out how to use this new editor at WordPress. Typing text is easy; it’s going to be formatting and adding media that’ll be the hard part.

Enjoy whatever holiday you’re celebrating, and I’ll see you on the other side!

Scrooge and Marley

“A Christmas Carol in Prose” by Charles Dickens has got to be one of the most popular short novels of all time. It’s been adapted hundreds of times; the story is a simple one of personal growth and redemption – and there’s extremely little religion in it.

It also helps that it’s old enough to be in the public domain, so anyone can do whatever they want with it.

Most adaptations neglect to expand on one part of the story. True, it’s not really that important, but let’s take a look at it anyway.

What sort of business is Ebenezer Scrooge in, and can we discover anything new about the character by examining that aspect?
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A Krampus Mix For You

It’s that time of year again.

This year, I thought I’d do something different – and make a playlist of songs about people who aren’t that keen on the holiday, for whatever reason. Or songs to that effect.

There’s nothing gross. Aside from being overplayed, “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” is pretty sick, when you get right down to it. Nothing depressing here, either. They may be great songs, but Stan Rogers’ “First Christmas” and Tom Waits’ “Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis” are rather bleak….

I also note that animated TV shows have been doing some fun things in this vein; I’ve included three songs from that medium.

Oh, and to heck with Festivus, and Krampus is already tired. If you want to do something different for the holiday season, there are plenty of other non-standard Christmas traditions out there – like Wassail – that are available for you to try.

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