Fenway frustration, soccer salvation?

Yeah, I’m impressed the Boston Red Sox scored 10 runs in an inning. And yeah, I’m impressed they ultimately put up 19 runs in their victory over the visiting Texas Rangers. But c’mon … do we need games like these?

Maybe they remind us what a delight good pitching is. We certainly didn’t see much of it from either side — although kudos go to Hideki Okajima for providing some bullpen stability in the late innings. And the game, being so long, showed us baseball’s power to make players both hero and goat in the same game, like Kevin Youkilis, who delivered the game-winning homer in the bottom of the eighth, and whose error in the top of the ninth resulted in what eventually became the Rangers’ last run.

I like baseball and I’ll be a Red Sox fan despite the team’s history of heartache (or maybe because of it). But I’m thinking of changing my ways.

Let’s see. Where could I find a sport where there’s …

a) Relatively little scoring to make spectators appreciate the scores their team gets?

b) A defined time limit so fans don’t have to stay up late, persevering through pitching changes?

c) The willingness to say, “Okay, this game’s gone on too long, we’ll call it a tie”?

Someone get me tickets to Gillette Stadium for a Revs game, pronto!

August 13, 2008 at 5:56 am Leave a comment

Georgia on my mind

…and South Ossetia, and Abkhazia, and Russia, too.

Russian Prime Minister Putin has sent his military to attack Georgia, whose president angered “Pootie-Poot” through his pro-American policies. The US response has been limited to protests from President Bush.

Isn’t this what the US always does? Encourage democracy abroad, only to refrain from actually offering help to the budding Sons of Liberty when armed conflict arises? We backed out on supporting anti-Castro rebels at the Bay of Pigs. We wouldn’t step in when the Soviets invaded Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968. And when Shiites rebelled against Saddam Hussein after the Gulf War of 1991, we watched the dictator we had just defeated wipe out the uprising.

And how apt that this occurs during an Olympics in China, when the US chose to support the Communist government instead of a pro-democracy uprising in Tienanmen Square, and Americans watched the tanks liquidate the demonstrators.

I read the coverage — beleaguered Georgians seeking a savior asked, “Where is the US?” The paradox of our power is that we feel compelled to praise democracy everywhere, yet support it stingily when it actually arises. “Speak loudly and carry a small stick” might be our motto.

It is prudent to limit our military intervention to wars in which we have a legitimate interest. But it shows our leaders to be such damned cowardly hypocrites. A little less Woodrow Wilson and a little more Niccolo Machiavelli, Mr. Bush.

August 13, 2008 at 5:44 am Leave a comment

Presidential Pyrotechnics

Ways to spend July Fourth: Go to the Esplanade in Boston to watch the Pops concert and subsequent fireworks. Or debate the actions of our presidential candidates, Democratic Sen. Barack Obama and Republican Sen. John McCain. Why not do both? That’s what Bob and Susannah, plus a neutral cat, do on their Independence Day in the latest episode of “Running Gags”!

July 3, 2008 at 8:46 pm 3 comments

Doc Rivers ‘endorses’ Obama

After guiding his team to an NBA championship over the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday, Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers discussed the victory on WEEI-AM (850). Asked whether his team could repeat, Rivers invoked a motto associated with Sen. Barack Obama, the Democratic nominee for president.
Rivers and Obama are two African-American leaders who have enjoyed success this year. The Celtics, during their history, showed progressive thinking on race relations. Thanks to the late team patriarch Red Auerbach, the Celtics became the first in the NBA to draft an African-American player (Chuck Cooper) and hire an African-American coach (Bill Russell). This commitment to equality will prove a more enduring testament to Celtic excellence than Tuesday night’s victory over the Lakers (though it was remarkable to watch the 131-92 romp).

June 18, 2008 at 7:00 pm 2 comments

Grassley, health insurance, and greenbacks

Call this month a split decision for Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa. The Midwesterner struck a blow for transparency when his probe revealed that three Harvard researchers had taken millions of dollars from Big Pharma, raising conflict-of-interest concerns. “Under pressure,” the New York Times wrote, “two of the researchers acknowledged receiving $1.6 million apiece in consulting fees from drug companies between 2000 and 2007 and the third reported earning more than $1 million.” (Merci, Muse, for first mentioning the New York Times editorial that addressed the subject.)

Alas, Grassley has shown he’s not immune to financial shenanigans. The American Spectator has revealed that he’s prone to directing public dollars toward the Hawkeye State through generous earmarks. “Due in large part to Grassley’s spending savvy,” the AmSpec noted, a report from the group Citizens Against Government Waste “put Iowa, 30th in terms of population, 16th in overall earmark spending.” While this may delight Grassley’s constituents, it contributes to imbalance at national spending levels. The senator should heed the wise Latin words Medice, teipsum: Physician, heal thyself!

June 15, 2008 at 7:29 pm Leave a comment

Sex not in these Cities

What’s in a name … of a hit TV series turned blockbuster cinematic event?

There will be no public ads for the movie version of “Sex and the City” in two Israeli cities, Jerusalem and Petah Tikva. Why? Some folks who saw the ads didn’t like the use of the word “sex.”

Is this a sign that what some people call the lone democracy in the Middle East is using some most un-democratic censorship? Should we instead view it as behavior to emulate, given what neo-Puritans like myself see as an unbecoming American obsession with X-rated affairs?

I enjoyed what Vogue magazine called SATC:TM. It was great to see Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte and Samantha return on the big screen. I give it two thumbs up … or, alternately, two Manolo Blahniks up.

I can also see how the movie’s depiction of sex would upset the haredim in Eretz Yisrael, as well as people across the US who are concerned with family values and their potential threat by risque behavior on the screen. Maybe the action of the two Israeli cities contains not just censorship, but courage.


June 9, 2008 at 8:29 pm Leave a comment

No-hit wonder by Lester

Add Jon Lester to the list of Boston Red Sox pitchers to have thrown no-hitters this decade, joining Hideo Nomo, Derek Lowe, and Clay Buchholz. Another sign Sox fans are getting spoiled. After Dave Morehead threw one in 1965, no Boston pitcher (OK, Matt Young) achieved the feat for the rest of the previous century. While I lament the homer-happy offenses of today’s teams, I don’t mind seeing pitchers dominate. Especially pitchers who have prevailed against personal adversity, which has been the case with Lester, a cancer survivor.

May 20, 2008 at 8:27 pm Leave a comment

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