Monday, October 31, 2016

EXTRA: Gods of baseball setting someone up for a historic whammy!?!

Perhaps this church in suburban Homewood has the right idea; the good Lord himself isn’t taking a rooting interest in the World Series.

Although the gods of baseball (to whom “Jesus” is Alou, the uncle of former Chicago Cub Moises) are likely setting up a doozy of an ending to this year’s World Series – which could come to its conclusion Tuesday or could draw out as long as Wednesday.

ONE PART OF me can’t help but speculate that for the Cleveland Indians to come this close to victory and still manage to fall short would truly be cruel and unusual punishment.
Also the hermano of Felipe and Matteo

Of course, for the Chicago Cubs to have such a miraculous comeback would be so out-of-character for the ball club. If anything, it would be totally appropriate for the Cubs to be the team with the early lead that manages to find a way to blow it.

Remember 1984? And I don’t mean the George Orwell book!

I know Cubs fans have been buying into the “best team in baseball” nonsense all season, and some are convinced that a Cubs ultimate victory MUST be pre-ordained. Even though the sensible part of my baseball fandom knows there is no such thing – even less so than crying in baseball.

IF IT REALLY comes down to the Cubs managing to avoid having to say “Wait ‘til Next Year” for the 109th time, it most likely will be due to some sort of act in the next couple of days by the Indians that blows it on a historic proportion.

Something that finally puts Fred Merkle’s “boner” to rest once-and-for-all. Which, by the way, was the only reason the Cubs managed to win that 1908 National League title instead of the New York Giants and even play in the World Series at all that year. Something that taints an Indians player for the rest of his baseball life.
So if you’re really amongst those who has to see the Cubs prevail in 2016, place your bets on an Indian gaffe – something so bad that not even Cubbie incompetence can blow it. Something so bad that Chief Wahoo takes on an eerie overtone to it.

Because if you’re seriously counting on Cubs skill to prevail, I’m pretty sure I can say that you’ll be crying at the sight of the “World Series Champion Cleveland Indians” piling on top of each other on their field in celebration – and having to be thankful you didn’t have to watch that sight live Sunday night at Wrigley following a Game 5 loss.


Who is deluded enough to think Donald Trump represents change/reform?

I cast my ballot last week (the early voting option) for Hillary Clinton as U.S. president for the upcoming general election, but not because I have much interest in the idea of a female of the species being our nation's commander-in-chief.
For Trump, it's all about the money

If anything, I’m more inclined to want to make sure a pig didn’t get into office. That is how I have come to view Republican challenger Donald Trump, who as far as I can tell thinks that because his family has significant wealth means he can behave as ignorantly as he wants toward anybody he chooses.

WHICH IS TRUE. This is a free country, and you can be as repulsive in your life as you wish. Just keep in mind that nowhere are you guaranteed the last word – everyone else has the right to feel revulsion toward you, if they wish!

I do have to question the sensibilities of those people who claim they’re backing Trump because they want radical change in the way our government operates.

I get that some people are repulsed at the very thought of Hillary Clinton’s existence – I have seen and heard those people speak for the past two decades (they just won’t let this e-mail thing die although I suspect they’re more interested in hammering her with rhetoric rather than having to go about proving their case), and I have always wondered how much of the ideologue opposition to Bill Clinton was motivated by the thought that he married HER, of all people!

But the idea that changing the way our government works is somehow embodied in the act of casting a vote for the gaudy New York real estate developer to work in the Oval Office for four years is just too far of a stretch for anyone to take seriously.

A PART OF me does believe that Trump isn’t really the conservative ideologue he has been portraying during his campaign. In fact, I suspect the real ideologues probably would be repulsed by Trump if they were to get to know him.
For now, Hillary is 'the enemy'

They would turn on him just as they have turned on George W. Bush’s presidency.

Trump is a business executive who views the federal government (and likely all layers of government) as an obstacle to his business dealings – what with the way its regulatory agencies insist on dictating restrictions on which his business projects must operate.

The government is hurting his financial bottom line. He likely figures he has donated money to government officials for years, but now figures he can cut out the middle-man. He can be the government and can single-handedly wipe out those silly little rules meant to protect the American public from people just like Trump!

NOT THAT HE’D really be able to do anything like that – unless he thinks he’s running to be dictator of the United States of America. He’ll find out how quickly the government will put a stop to him if he tries to behave so irrationally.
Who would take on Madigan role nationally if Trump won?

It’s called the American Way. It’s called Democracy. It’s called the very system that makes our nation the envy of so many other places on Planet Earth.

If anything, if Trump were really to get himself elected president, we’d wind up with a political situation way too similar to what we have these days in Illinois. One in which venture capitalist Bruce Rauner got himself elected governor – thinking he could impose a series of changes on organized labor and unions that would bolster the financial bottom line of business interests.

Only to find out that the people he wanted to demonize aren’t going to meekly go away, and will fight to protect the interests of those they represent.

FOR NOW, HILLARY Clinton is the equivalent of Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, but a Trump presidency would need a new Democrat to demonize. Who would it wind up being?
Trump's chaos not comical like "Get Smart"

Would we get something the equivalent of the nonsense we endured in Illinois this past fiscal year with a stalemate that made a complete mess of several government functions? All because Rauner wanted to, and Trump wants to try to, disregard the concerns of people whose interests threaten his own financial bottom line.

There’s nothing reform about a Trump who would want to reign all supreme – he’d bring nothing but chaos to our government.

And I don’t mean chaos as in Kaos, that comically inept “International Organization of Evil” from the old “Get Smart” comedy series whom bumbling secret agent Maxwell Smart outwits, often with the help of the lovely and more-talented Agent 99 – all the more reason to put Hillary in charge this time around?


Saturday, October 29, 2016

EXTRA: Chicago has baseball heroes; just not ones wearing Cubbie-blue

Two Chicago-area natives achieved some heroics for their professional baseball antics. Yet to the dismay of those amongst us who are Chicago Cubs fans, neither of them were wearing the baby blue of the Cubbies.

In fact, one of them was actually wearing that hideous Chief Wahoo symbol of the Cleveland Indians, and may well have written himself into the Cubs’ list of arch-enemies.

JASON KIPNIS OF the Indians hit that three-run home run Saturday night off Cubs pitching that gave Cleveland such a large lead that it is quite apparent that Sunday night’s World Series finale at Wrigley Field could be the series finale as well – unless the Cubs can somehow pull off loads of magic and go undefeated for the rest of the season.

Kipnis is a native of suburban Northbrook, and played his high school ball at Glenbrook North High School, where he was an all-around baseball star who also played both soccer and football.

And yes, his parents still live there. I’m sure there will be mixed feelings by the family, although Kipnis said earlier he hopes to win. He wants a World Series ring for himself more than he wants one for his childhood favorite team.

After Saturday, it certainly seems he achieved it.

YET KIPNIS ISN’T the only ballplayer with local ties to do well. For Major League Baseball officials announced that Curtis Granderson of the New York Mets won the Roberto Clemente Award – given to the ballplayer each year who engages in philanthropic achievements along with his on-field performance.

Granderson, when playing for the Detroit Tigers and New York Yankees, has had his Grand Kids Foundation that helps raise money for efforts benefitting youth. It also helps that Granderson has not forgotten where he came from.

He was a high school athlete at T.F. South High School in suburban Lansing who later played college baseball for the Flames of the University of Illinois at Chicago. In fact, he has his off-season home in the Near West Side neighborhood that houses the university.

Kipnis and Granderson could be the local boys who achieve the honors this particular season and perhaps ought to be receiving the public attention, while Cubs fans frantically tear their hair out and try to figure what the chances are that this year’s Cubs can do a repeat of the 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates.

THAT TEAM LOST three of the first four World Series games to the Baltimore Orioles, but came back to win the whole thing.

Of course, they had veteran leaders Willie Stargell and Manny Sanguillen, star slugger Dave Parker at his peak and quality pitcher John Candelaria, along with one-time star White Sox manager Chuck Tanner.

They also had the motivation of Sister Sledge, whose hit disco record “We Are Family” gave the team a strong motivational factor – one that the current incarnation of the Cubs don’t even come close to approaching.


It was nice knowin’ ya, Kirk. Welcome to the Senate, Tammy Duckworth

The most embarrassing part of Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., managing to put his foot in his mouth during his debate this week with Democratic challenger Tammy Duckworth?
KIRK: Still removing foot from mouth

It’s the fact that Kirk gave Donald Trump and his political camp a legitimate reason to mock the man.

KIRK HAS BEEN going out of his way to distance himself from the Trump presidential campaign for being too sexist and bigoted to be representative of the people. So naturally, Kirk makes a remark during the debate that is interpreted as an ethnic slur on Duckworth – who was born in Thailand to parents with U.S. citizenship who lived and worked in several Southeast Asian nations before she settled in this country at age 16.

Anytime that Trump political operative Kellyanne Conway can call out Kirk for stupidity, you know is a bad moment that you don’t recover from politically.

The fact that Conway used Twitter to make her attack likely only makes it all-the-more lasting. That tweet ain’t goin’ noplace. It likely will keep cropping up for the remainder of Kirk’s life, and may even make it into his eventual obituary. That attempt at an apology he made Friday? Already forgotten about!

So what was it that happened during Thursday night’s debate between Kirk – a former Naval Reserve officer – and Duckworth, who wants to make sure the world knows she lost her legs while serving in combat during the Gulf War of the early 1990s?

DUCKWORTH HAS ALWAYS made a point of letting people know of her support for military issues and causes, and likes to talk of how she comes from a military family. Supposedly, family members fought as far back in time as the American revolution.
DUCKWORTH: Illinois' new senator?

Which could be true, as her father served in the Marine Corps and he was far from the first in the family to enlist for a stretch of military service. Except that Repubicans usually want to believe that if they were a "legitimate" military family, Republican partisan genes would have taken root. The fact that Tammy turned out Democrat must make her suspect -- in GOP minds.

Kirk came up with the wisecrack that I’m sure he thinks is particularly witty and was meant to put that woman in her place. As in, “I forgot that your parents came all the way from Thailand to serve George Washington.”

The VoteVets organization on Friday trashed Kirk. Group Chairman Jon Soltz called the wisecrack “racist” and said, “Mark Kirk can say whatever he wants, but (Thursday) night he made clear that he will run his campaign, and the office of senator, the same way Donald Trump has run his campaign – based on racial and ethnic slurs, insults and tarring non-whites as not sufficiently American.”
CLINTON: Equally responsible for Duckworth

DUCKWORTH HERSELF ISSUED her own critical statement, although the key part of her effort was less to blast Kirk than to ask people for money. “Can you chip in right now to help me respond to this disgraceful attack?” she said.

Which makes me wonder how she would have asked for the campaign contribution if Kirk had kept his mouth shut and behaved himself Thursday night.

The sad thing is this won’t be the reason that Kirk likely loses his re-election bid a week-and-a-half from now. His campaign already was lagging due to the fact that Illinois leans Democrat and likely has a majority of voters fully comfortable with both of the state’s U.S. senators being of the Democratic persuasion.

In the interest of disclosure, I should point out that I was among those voters when I cast my own ballot this week through early vote. Perhaps Kirk would have a better chance of getting re-elected if he were seeking the Indiana seat – although even there Democrats are hopeful (although maybe too optimistically) they can win this year.

IT’S ALL ABOUT the concept that Trump has spread so much rhetorical manure that he’s given an overall stink to the concept of being a Republican.
CONWAY: Used Twitter to treat Kirk like a twit

Which is why it is sad that Kirk would get caught up in this particular bit of nonsense – since it probably gives Trump and his backers some sense of cockiness in thinking they would have looked out for Kirk if he had really been one of their own.

But since he wasn’t, then forget him!

And the likely outcome will be a Duckworth victory. Only she had better be careful, because her re-election bid of 2022 will not have a presidential campaign to leech off of. She’ll have to convince Illinoisans she’s worthy of retention – unless she wants to be nothing more than a one-termer.


Friday, October 28, 2016

Matter of ethics? Or ugly aldermen taking space from Hollywood glitter

The World Series returns to Wrigley Field on Friday, and there won’t be any aldermen in attendance. That is, unless the aldermen are willing to dip into their own pockets and pay the ridiculous fees that are being sought by ticket scalpers.
Not like World Series of days of old at Wrigley
Much indignation has been spewed in recent weeks about the fact that the Chicago Cubs included City Council members on the list of people who would get the chance to purchase tickets for the World Series games to be held at home this weekend.

THE PERK IS that even before the limited number of tickets that went on sale to the general public were put up for grabs, the aldermen were among a class of so-called important people who could have the chance to buy some seats.

Note I’m saying “buy.” Nobody was talking about giving aldermen the tickets for the ball games. Which is a concept I suspect offended at least some of the aldermen – who probably think they’re important enough to warrant freebies.

Also keep in mind that the official prices charged for World Series tickets are not the same as those charged for Cubs games during the regular season. They’re higher – a few hundred dollars per seat.

Which is cheap only when compared to the scalper prices – I have heard figures ranging from just under $1 million per seat if you want to sit in one of those prime seats up close to the action and where everyone watching the games on television will be capable of seeing you, to as low as about $5,500 per seat if all you want to do is stand in the upper deck in spare space and be able to say you were inside the building when the World Series returned to Wrigley Field for the first time in 71 years.

PERSONALLY, I DON’T think that kind of money is worth the experience. I think it borders on criminal that anybody thinks they can charge it. But then again, I have never thought Cubs fans had all that much sense, so perhaps they’re willing to give up a chance at retirement and can reminisce about the games they see this weekend when, in future years, they’re reduced to eating cans of cat food.
Won't be able to ignore Murray

But back to the aldermen, who had their perk taken away when the public got outraged – seemingly out of the belief that aldermen were getting free tickets from the ball club. Then, the council’s ethics board declared that accepting the ticket perk was something that bordered on unethical.

I can already hear the snide comments made about the absurdity of ethics from the Chicago City Council. But the bottom line is that someone decided to take the high road when it comes to political perks.

Although there are bound to be complaints. Take 31st Ward Alderman Milly Santiago, who may well have created her moment of political infamy when she complained about losing the perk.

FIRST, SHE POINTED out that the seats she was being offered were those cheap ones in the upper-most rows of the top deck. Then, she said, “I’m a poor alderman. I cannot even afford to buy a $1,000 ticket.”

You just know she’s never going to live that line down.

Personally, I don’t think it’s a loss if there aren’t so many political people on hand. You know Fox television is going to be more interested in Hollywood celebrities who bother to show up at games.

Chances are, we’re going to be sick of seeing Bill Murray by the time Sunday rolls around. And if by chance Jim Belushi is among the Wrigley scene, you just know nausea will predominate among the television viewing public.
SANTIAGO: Poor alderman

THE KEY TO comprehending the crowds that show up at Clark and Addison this weekend is that they’re not going to be hard-core fans. Heck, even regular season Cubs games are more about the glitz, but this will be even moreso.

It may well be Chicago trying to put on a show of the kind of city that certain people wish it was, instead of what it really is.

If anything, the real reason to keep aldermen out of the ballpark is that it means there will be fewer ugly people taking up space that could better be used by whichever gorgeous starlet actor John Cusack decides to have as his date Friday Night for Game 3.


Thursday, October 27, 2016

EXTRA: Somebody’s been listening to too much Charlton Heston lately

WALSH: Oh, be quiet!
"On Nov. 8, I'm voting for Trump. On Nov. 9, if Trump loses, I'm grabbing my musket. You in?"


That Tweet (from a Twit) came from the former member of our very own state’s congressional delegation – Joe Walsh, who served one two-year term as an ideologue from Illinois before the people of his congressional district came to their senses.

Obviously, he’s someone who has been influenced by the NRA rants of the late actor Charlton Heston. Which makes me wonder if next, he’ll come up with some way of shouting at Dems, “Take your stinkin’ paws off me, you damn dirty ape.” Perhaps as they're taking him away for being a crazy person waving around a musket in public?!
Walsh's role model?

I cast votes for a whole slew of judges, but don’t ask me who any of them are!

I went to an early voting center on Wednesday and spent about 15 minutes going through the process of casting a ballot for the 2016 general election cycle.
Yes, I did!

The highlight may well have been getting my sticker that informs the public in so many languages that “I Voted!” Gee, aren’t I special?!?

FOR ANYONE WHO has read my commentary, it shouldn’t be any surprise that I couldn’t cast my vote against Donald Trump’s presidential aspirations quickly enough.

Aside from Miss Hillary, I also cast my votes for Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate (Tammy Duckworth), Cook County state’s attorney (Kim Foxx) and Illinois comptroller (Susana Mendoza). I also said "no" on road funds and on merging the recorder of deeds with the clerk's office, but "yes" for the earned sick time measure.

In the case of comptroller, I have noticed that many official endorsements are backing her opponent, Leslie Munger, on the grounds that Mendoza is tied in too tightly to Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago; without noting that her opponent is nothing but a lackey for Gov. Bruce Rauner.

Independence is a dirty word, it would seem, when it comes to lower-level political posts.

BUT I HAVE to confess that when going through the process of filling out a ballot this time around, I was caught noticing the level of cluelessness I felt going through all those judges.
Would this "judge" have been better?

Some of whom I was asked to make a mark beside their name for retention, while others I was asked to vote “yes” or “no.” There were a couple of cases where I was asked to pick a name.

Yet as I write this, some five hours after I actually cast my ballot, I’m not sure I could name any of the people I voted for to serve as judges within Cook County. That truly is sad. It really is clueless on my part, and borders on political irresponsibility.

Yet I doubt I’m alone in this regard. I suspect that most of us don’t have a clue about judges, and have probably trained ourselves to not think twice about this. After all, how can you be bothered about screwing something up if you don’t give it any thought at all?
MENDOZA: She got my vote!

BEING A REPORTER-type person, I did recognize a few names of judges – either because I may have once covered some type of story that occurred in their courtroom, or perhaps because some of these names have popped up on enough ballots throughout the years that they’re somehow stuck in my brain.

Similar to how I can remember ballplayers of the early 1970s when I was a kid – Johnny Jeter is just one of many names that takes up valuable brain space that probably could be better devoted to something more useful in life.

But for the most part, I don’t know the legal qualifications of the people whom I voted for – which is exactly what (I suspect) the legal types like about it. Why get ourselves all worked up worrying about qualifications.

So long as they look authoritative while wearing a black robe, that’s all that matters to some people. Even if we wind up with incidents such as the one in at the sixth district circuit courthouse in suburban Markham where a judge let someone else don her robe and get a feel for the job -- even though the person wasn't a judge at all!

OF COURSE, I suppose I could have followed some of those ridiculous rules that political people concoct; in particular that one about liking the sound of Irish ethnicity names.
I know more about .244 hitter than judges

If anything, that so-called rule makes me inclined to vote against Irish names when I cast my ballot, figuring they don’t need my vote to win. Heck, there have been some times when I was sarcastically inclined to automatically vote for every Spanish ethnic name on the ballot as a way of mocking the so-called rule.

Not that such acts are any more responsible. Because in the end, the rule of thumb that ought to apply is, “You get what you vote for.”

And if you’re the type who didn’t put any thought into the ballot aside from wanting to back Donald Trump (or dump all over him), then you deserve whatever form of political abuse your mind concocts from the actions of government in coming years.


Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Early voting a perk or scam? Or just a reason for malcontents to complain?

The early voting centers for Cook County opened this week, which means some people have already managed to cast their vote for Hillary vs. The Donald, and all the other political posts that are up for grabs this election cycle.
Cook County Clerk David Orr was among those who used Early Voting on Monday. Photo provided by county clerk's office

I didn’t get a chance to do so Monday, but likely will find time to do so in the next few days. The reporter-type person in me finds it easier to deal with working on Election Day if I don’t have to take time to wait at a polling place for my turn to cast a ballot.

I’M SURE MANY other people find a similar convenience, which justifies in their minds use of an early voting center. Of course, I’d argue anything that encourages more people to vote is a good thing. As it is, more than 25,000 people used early voting centers in Cook County on the first day they were available – a new record that nearly doubles the old mark set Oct. 22, 2012!

The only people who want to limit the vote are those people who fear that the electorate will toss them out of political office on their fannies, Which is our right as the public to do. It’s certainly more our right than those people who want to make a crusade out of packing a pistol in public – and probably wish they could carry one into the polling place on the off-chance someone makes them feel threatened.

Perhaps being near people who find it within themselves to back Hillary Clinton will terrify all those Trump-types to the point where they feel compelled to let loose.

But the bottom-line is that early voting has become a convenience factor. And while I like the idea in theory of a single day in which the masses of our nation come together to express our political will, it just might not be practical.

I’VE BEEN THINKING quite a bit about this in recent days, ever since I happened to stumble onto an Indianapolis radio station that had a knuckleheaded host complain about the early-voting concept.

He views it as being borderline subversive. He wants it totally done away with.

He thinks anybody who actually votes early is being irresponsible and ought to have their ballot taken away from them.

For he argued with a straight voice (I’d say straight face, but being radio, I couldn’t see it) that people who cast their ballots prior to Election Day are depriving themselves the information they’d get about all the candidates if they waited.

AS IN HE thinks there is something special about the inevitable tidbit of sleaze that gets spewed right before Election Day; in hopes that one candidate can use to scare off voters from casting ballots for their opposition.

Considering that Trump’s daughter-in-law recently went on a television talk show and told of the last-minute surprise that Donald has in store for Hillary (what, she wouldn’t say. We’ll just have to wait and see), I would expect that Trump will come up with some borderline-libelous tidbit about Clinton.

Then again, his whole campaign has been nothing but classless drips and drabs that were meant to take down others – but have only served to show the electorate just how classless and tacky Trump himself is.

Actually, I believe anybody who seriously lets themselves get influenced by the last-minute nonsense is the one who is potentially reckless enough that we ought to think of taking away their ballot!

BESIDES, I CAN’T help but think that most people have privately made up their minds. Anybody who is so indecisive that they don’t know yet between Clinton and Trump is just being wishy-washy.

If anything, I have been ready for the final vote for weeks now. Besides, if we’re really supposed to wait for all the trivial tidbits that can be offered up, perhaps we should postpone Election Day. Give even more time for us to supposedly learn more dirt about the people who managed to get their political parties’ presidential nominations.

But that’s not going to happen. I suspect most people want this whole nonsensical process to end – and will be prepared to stone me for even jokingly hinting that it should last any longer than necessarily.

In short, when I cast my ballot, it will be to ensure I express my say in this electoral process – one that Trump has tried to delegitimize as much as he can perhaps because he knows it’s not rigged; and he fears the outcome of an honest election.


Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The goat, vs. Rocky Colavito

Is this destined to be the All-Loser World Series. The one between cursed ball clubs – in which the image of Rocky Colavito gets to beat up on a goat!
Whose 'curse'...

The World Series for 2016 has turned out to be a matchup between the Cleveland Indians and the Chicago Cubs. Both teams are charter members of their respective leagues, meaning they’re both over a century old.

BOTH HAVE ONLY two World Series victories in their histories (1920 and 1948 for Cleveland, as opposed to 1907 and 1908 for the Cubs). Both have old fans who have never seen their team win the whole thing, and have endured decades of horrendous baseball in the process.
... will prevail?

Meaning anybody who’s going into this week thinking that the Cubs just have to come out ahead is seriously misguided. It would be just as much of a moral victory for baseball if this were the year of the Indians.

Heck, one could argue that with the way the Cubs created an allegedly lovable image that makes some people think ivy-covered walls is what baseball is all about and that winning is secondary, the team hasn't suffered at all.

They never played home games in the “Mistake on the Lake,” as in the Lake Erie-based stadium of some 76,000 seats that could look absolutely desolate when only 6,000 or so were showing up to see the Indians contend for last place in their division throughout the years. The less said about “Dime Beer Night,” the better.
Which team will these two spirits...

ONE ALSO HAS to admit that the Curse of the Goat that Cubs fans also cite as the source of their losing teams has a contender in the Curse of Rocky Colavito – Rocky being the slugging ballplayer of the 1950s whom the Indians traded away to the Detroit Tigers for Harvey Kuenn.

It was supposed to be a home run hitter for a potential batting average champion. Rocky went to Detroit and played respectably, while Kuenn never played as well for Cleveland.

By the time the Indians reacquired Colavito in a trade in the mid-1960s, they had to give up a ton of young talent to do so. And by then, Rocky just wasn’t the same ballplayer himself. rooting for this week?
I suppose Cubs fans could claim they have their own bad trade history, what with letting Lou Brock get away to the St. Louis Cardinals. But the point is that this World Series is going to be one in which a team gets to kill off its demons and finally give its fans the championship they’ve been waiting for; no matter who wins.

IT MAKES ME wonder how many cemeteries across northern Ohio are going to wind up with Indians pennants on the gravesites of now-deceased fans who never got to see their team win the whole thing?

Or is that sight destined to occur across the north side of Chicago. Because among those who are tied spiritually to the South Side, there will be those rooting for an Indians victory. I’m not kidding – I’ve talked to enough of them to know Cubdom doesn’t unite the city, no matter how much Cubs fans want to think the whole world is rooting for their ultimate victory.
Is having to play ballgames here enough reason ...
What does amuse me is that the 1948 Indians team that was the last to win a World Series for Cleveland has its Chicago ties. Its player-manager was Lou Boudreau – the prep sports star of Thornton High School in Harvey who later in life paired up with Jack Brickhouse in broadcasting Cubs games on WGN-TV.

And let’s not forget Bill Veeck, who owned that Indians team. It was his first major league team he ran outright, after having worked while a kid for the Cubs when his father was team president who helped put together the teams that won National League championships every three years throughout the 1930s.

YET EVEN THOSE teams always fell short come October. The Yankees of Babe Ruth, then Joe DiMaggio, and the Detroit Tigers were the teams that came out on top. While Cleveland has to live down the shame of being the team that let a second-rate wildcard like the ’97 Florida Marlins beat it in the World Series.
... to be entitled to break a 'curse?'
Thereby leading to our current predicament of seeing whether this is the year of the Cubs, or the Indians. Cleveland’s team this year isn’t a pushover – it whomped all over Boston and Toronto in the playoffs, and isn’t going to be intimidated by Cubbie lore.

So before North Siders get too cocky, keep in mind that it could easily be you come a week from now who will be agonizing aloud, “Why God? When will it FINALLY be our turn to win!”


Monday, October 24, 2016

EXTRA: More ridiculous film premise – Major League or Rookie of the Year?

What with a Cleveland vs. Cubs World Series taking place this week and early next, it has me wondering about a pair of baseball-themed films from recent years and trying to figure out which was more absurd.

As in the “Major League” series, or “Rookie of the Year.”

YOU LIKELY KNOW of the Major League films as the source of many one-liners that oft get repeated as gags during baseball games. There even are moments when all those high-tech video boards inside modern-day stadiums are used to show snippets of them for laughs.

And it was the Major League series that gave us that eternal philosophical question – can Jesus Christ hit a curve ball?

Then, there was Rookie of the Year – a film largely intended to be something that parents can take their children to see. It tells the tale of a 12-year-old boy who suffers a freak injury to his throwing arm that makes it possible for him to throw 100-mile-an-hour fastballs.

Because the kid supposedly lives on Chicago’s North Side, he signs a contract to pitch for the Cubs. And supposedly leads them all the way to a playoff game, when his arm supposedly snaps back into place and he begins throwing again like a not-particularly-athletic 12-year-old kid.

ALL IN ALL, a ridiculous premise. But no more silly than a film that answered a ballplayer’s request to snap out of a hitting slump and sacrifice a chicken by providing him with a bucket of Kentucky Fried.

Although I always thought the Major League series, which uses the Cleveland Indians as its heroes in humor, to be more absurd. The sequel film Major League II was the low point – because it was the one that treated the Chicago White Sox as the all-powerful team that needed to be vanquished by an underdog Indians squad.

Not even the most drunken of Sox fans would ever think that their team was all-powerful – except at offering up the best-tasting Polish sausage at the ballpark concession stands.

Perhaps we’ll just have to answer back with a showing of “The Monty Stratton Story” or "Eight Men Out." Or “The Kid From Left Field,” which in 1979 starred Gary Coleman at the peak of his “Whatchu talkin’ ‘bout Willis!” fame as the youthful pseudo-manager (it's really his father, Robert Guillaume of "Benson" fame) who leads the San Diego Padres to a World Series appearance against none-other-than the White Sox. Which truly is absurd!


A 'President' Clinton needs political allies if she’s to get anything done

I have lost track of the number of e-mail messages I have received in recent weeks from political operatives – all bearing the same message.
BOOKER: Will try to bolster Dem support in Ind.

Cough up some campaign cash to bolster the chances of Democrats taking control of the Senate and House of Representatives, or it won’t matter by how much Hillary Clinton beats up on Donald Trump come Nov. 8.

THEY’RE ALL WRITTEN in the same depressing tone of how we people who don’t want the conservative ideologue viewpoint rammed down our throats on every issue have already lost because Republicans will likely continue their obstructionist ways when it comes to governing.

Some of these e-mails go so far as to try to “guilt trip” me, by letting me know their records show I haven’t given a dime to any candidate or political cause. Mostly because I have never made a political contribution in an effort to maintain some sort of impartiality. The ones attributed to political operative James Carville are amongst the most over-the-top in their rhetoric.

Perhaps it’s good that the allegedly-liberal interests don’t think of me as some sort of lackey. Although I suspect the ideologues read what is written here, and have already written me off as incorrigible.

But someone is going to have to come up with the kind of cash to help support the kind of people who would be inclined to ally themselves with a second Clinton presidency.

WHICH IS WHY it was intriguing to read the Washington Post’s report how the Clinton campaign itself is coming up with $1 million to support Senate and gubernatorial candidates running in the neighboring states of Indiana and Missouri.

Both are states that often lean Republican, but in the case of Missouri has shown some support for Democrats. Particularly if St. Louis and Kansas City can band together to out-vote the rural parts of the state that lie in between.
CLINTON: Pitching in her own campaign cash

While in Indiana, Democrats there have expressed hope that the fact that Gov. Mike Pence gave up his post to try to bolster the Trump presidential dreams means that a non-incumbent Republican can actually be beaten by Democrat John Gregg.

While the potential comeback of Evan Bayh could shift the U.S. Senate seat up for grabs in the Hoosier state come next month.

CLINTON HERSELF IS seeing a need to do something to try to build up allies in places that might otherwise turn out to be hostile to her political desires. Which is good. Because if they’re counting entirely on $3 contributions from people solicited via the Internet, they’re going nowhere.

The Indiana elections are of particular interest because it will be that part of the Hoosier state that lies just across the state line from Chicago that will decide if Democrats can actually have any influence there.

Because I don’t doubt that in places like Fort Wayne or Terre Haute, there will be voters convinced of the dreadfulness of Hillary Clinton and/or the superiority of Donald Trump in the White House.

It will be people in places like Hammond (just across the state line) and Gary (a couple towns to the east) that will decide what happens.

WHICH IS WHY local Democrats have a rally planned for Tuesday in downtown Gary where Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., will try to inspire local residents to turn out to vote.
PENCE: Will absence from Indiana help Dems?

Booker, the former mayor of Newark, will try to inspire locals of the similarity of their depressed communities, and how a Clinton presidency could be the factor that makes a difference.

Because there have been countless tales in recent months of just how badly Trump flopped when he tried operating a riverboat casino in Gary. Stories that may have a more negative effect in Indiana than any tale of Trump thinking he can grope any babe who happens to catch his eye.

Although it does come off as a bit depressing that we in Illinois, who will wind up providing our Electoral College votes to Clinton in a landslide, will have to rely so heavily on our neighbor states to influence the future direction of our government. Pro-Hillary, or continued obstruction!


Sunday, October 23, 2016

What a difference, a year makes

I couldn’t help but get my Sunday chuckle from the New York Post, which gave a subdued, if straightforward, attempt at portraying the Chicago Cubs’ National League championship (a first in 71 years) on its front page.

Particularly since I remember how over-the-top the paper was a year ago in making it clear the Cubs were meant to be walloped in the playoffs. Of course, then, the opposition was the hometown New York Mets.

SO MY QUESTION from a year ago remains – does this make Mr. Met the equivalent of a giant, smelly gorilla? With the Cubs being the equivalent of the fair Fay Wray (Jessica Lange or Naomi Watts, if you’re of younger generations)?

Or does this year’s play of the story mean that the Cubs’ win is acceptable because it came against the lowly Los Angeles Dodgers – for whom some aging Noo Yawkers have never forgiven for leaving their real home in Brooklyn?

The World Series begins Tuesday in Cleveland, and comes to Wrigley Field Friday through Sunday.

No weekend sporting conflict there, as the Chicago Bears don’t play again until Halloween (against the Minnesota Vikings), which will be a travel day with the teams returning to Cleveland for games six and seven – unless somebody actually manages to wrap this series up in under five games.


EDITOR'S NOTE: What should we make of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, which on Sunday published a story telling how Hollywood would turn the Indians' 2016 season into a film with a truly-Hollywood ending -- the Indians beat the Cubs in the World Series, four games to two. Somebody somewhere is going to be seriously disappointed with the outcome a week or so from now.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

EXTRA: It’s about time!!!

1945 is now an obsolete year for Chicago sports fans to care about.
The Cubs' big star of '45

The Chicago Cubs Saturday night managed to pull off a 5-0 victory against the Los Angeles Dodgers, giving them the win in this round of National League playoffs and also ensuring that 2016 will go into the record books as the first league championship won by a Cubs team since, in the words of singer Steve Goodman, “the year we dropped the bomb on Japan.”

OF COURSE, THE big year that gets the attention is 1908 – as in it has been 108 years since a Cubs team managed to actually win a World Series. The Cubs have actually played in seven World Series since then.

Yet 1910, 1918, 1929, 1932, 1935, 1938 and the aforementioned 1945 were all losses – with ’32 particularly memorable when Babe Ruth did-or-did-not “call” that home run he hit for the New York Yankees in Game Three at Wrigley Field.

That latter season of 1945 is actually regarded as somewhat of a fluke, what with the way baseball was weakened with many of the real ballplayers getting drafted into military service during World War II.

As it turned out, the Cubs’ big name that year was first baseman Phil Cavaretta – who managed to avoid serving in the military due to a hearing problem. With shortstop Lennie Merullo (whose grandson, Matt, later was a catcher for the Chicago White Sox) being the last-surviving member of that team when he passed on a year ago.

BUT CONSIDERING HOW lacking the Cubs’ history has been in terms of ultimate victory, every little bit of praise gets overblown – particularly when one considers just how dreadful the franchise became during the 1950s, ‘60s and 70’s.
The Cubs' big star since then

Cubs fans like to forget that, thinking that the presence of shortstop-turned-first baseman Ernie Banks somehow made the team an elite franchise instead of just junk unworthy of his presence.

But all of that sinks into the past, as Chicago will have its second World Series in this century. The Cubs can now hint at some similar level of success with the White Sox. Who, after all, brought the Second City its first World Series win of the 21st Century 11 years ago.

And also gave Chicago the ultimate comeback that we’ll throw in the faces of Houstonites in a decade-or-so when their city likely surpasses ours in population.

BUT BACK TO the Cubs of ’16 – who had their segment of Chicago all worked up. I was in downtown and the Near North part of Chicago and saw my share of “W” flags hanging from various windows.
A heroic World Series moment against the Cubs

I also couldn’t help but notice Miller’s Pub, that antiquated restaurant on Wabash Street, which had its marquee sign set to read, “Hey Chicago, what do you say?”

Anticipating that the hard-core of Cubbiedom would fill in the next lyric of Goodman’s “Go Cubs Go” team anthem on their own. While White Soxdom would feel a gnarling punch to the gut at the very thought.

Yes, I made a point of digging up a White Sox cap to wear Saturday while wandering around the Cubs-leaning portions of Chicago. I actually got a couple of cheers, while most Cub-types merely gave blank looks.

ALMOST AS THOUGH they were afraid they would somehow jinx a potential victory if they got too cocky with their retorts.
No longer the last Cub to play in a Series

Because, after all, there’s still the World Series to get through. Let’s not forget that the American League champion Cleveland Indians have their own lengthy streak of years without success – nearly seven full decades.

As an American League baseball fan, I actually paid more attention to those rounds of playoffs than any of the NL nonsense of the past couple of weeks. This is a Cleveland team that beat up on Boston, then handily defeated Toronto. It isn’t a ball club that’s going to be intimidated by any Cubbie trash talk, by any means!

Which means that a week or so from now, we could very well have Cubs fans feeling crushed (and a few spiteful Sox fans feeling delirious) and the “Wait ‘til next year” slogan taking on new meaning.