Saturday, June 29, 2019

Hocker in hair of Trump heir?

It’s one of those stupid, nonsensical-type stories that get too many people all worked up – some lowly waitress had the unmitigated gall to spit a hocker at the son of the president of the United States.
ERIC TRUMP: The target?

It’s true – Eric Trump was eating at an upscale Chicago restaurant when his waitress spit at him.

BECAUSE HE HAS Secret Service protection, the agents immediately pounced on her, hauled her away, and turned her over to Chicago Police. Where she could have faced some sort of criminal charge along the lines of assault.

Except that Trump eventually decided to not pursue the matter – which would have required him to show up in court to be on hand as she worked her way through the criminal justice system in Cook County.

He probably felt the whole matter wasn’t worth his time or inconvenience. Although the reports on the incident indicate the waitress in question was suspended from her job.

It may well turn out she will lose the job altogether, and it may turn out that at least one potential future employer will decide not to hire her because of her conduct in this incident.

WHICH WOULD NOT be an unjust act. Losing her job because she lost her cool for a moment and let the junior Trumpster know exactly what she thought of him!

It’s that old cliché, the customer is always right. Even though in reality, it usually turns out when there are problems that the customer became a pompous ass – which brings on the bad behavior.

But one of the rules of working occasionally menial jobs is that there are times when people have to put up with pompous behavior of customers. All part of the rules of providing good service – which usually is what differentiates a good business from a bad one.
Scene of the 'crime'
Meaning the waitress should most likely have waited until after Trump, the Eric, was out-of-earshot – then developed some sort of story she probably could have told for the rest of her life about what a twit the younger Trump is. Many people would have eagerly believed her.

INSTEAD, THAT HOCKER wound up providing the content for countless horror stories that people will tell instead.

Even Mayor Lori Lightfoot is getting in the act – going around calling the incident “repugnant” and making people feel sorry for Eric Trump.

Personally, I always get bothered when people are eager to spread a story about something that could be a police matter – but they don’t want to actually go through the legal process.

For this story is finding as its source The Trump Organization – meaning it’s Eric himself, using the public relations people who have spent years making the boorish antics of Donald Trump himself seem as though he’s really a colorful character. Instead of someone who probably would have deserved to get dozens of loogies aimed in his own direction throughout the years.

MEANING I EXPECT that this woman will eventually have the most personal details about herself spread about – while Eric Trump continues to act as though what a shame it is that “poor, little ol’ me” was singled out for abuse.

Now I don’t know for sure whether this was a case of a waitress forgetting her place for a moment, or whether it was Eric Trump who did something that considered an act of provocation.
Prepared to take a 'loogy' for presidential son?
In fact, I don’t doubt that we’ll never find out exactly what occurred. Too many people who have their own ideologically partisan reasons for doing so will now concoct their own versions of what they want to believe happened.

And the layers of nonsensical rhetoric will be added on and on and on. Enough that I’m reaching for the Tylenol bottle – this so-called issue has given me a headache.


Friday, June 28, 2019

EXTRA: Gas tax hike kicks in Monday -- Happy Fiscal New Year!!!

I almost feel like I ought to be making a point to fill up the gasoline tank this weekend – what with new Illinois state taxes on the price of a gallon of gas going up as of Monday.
How long until you've seen gas prices this low?
It is part of the capital spending plan the General Assembly and Gov J.B. Pritzker approved earlier this year, meant to raise some $45 billion to pay for improvements needed in state construction projects.

FOR WHAT IT’S worth, the motor fuel tax for Illinois will increase from 19 cents per gallon to 38 cents – which is the first such increase since 1990 – literally back at the tail end of Jim Thompson’s time as governor.

On top of that, municipalities in Cook County were given the option of creating their own 3-cent-per-gallon tax on gasoline – on top of what the state will charge,

The coming of the new Fiscal Year on Monday means that is when these new rates will take effect. We’ll start noticing the prices on the rise as of that date – with probably many of those people living near the Illinois borders with Indiana, Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri and Kentucky going out of their way to buy their gasoline elsewhere.

Although Pritzker may have put the need for money into perspective when he said, “it means fewer blown-out tires, fewer car axles thrown out of balance, fewer fender benders and fewer life-threatening car accidents” by having better roads. Although I suspect many people are just too eager to complain about someone regardless of reality.


High court manages to upset everybody's beliefs w/ pair of rulings

Perhaps this is the Supreme Court of the United States’ idea of what constitutes bipartisanship – rule in ways that manage to offend the sensibilities of just about everybody.
The nation's Supreme Court issued a pair of rulings that … 

I couldn’t help but have that reaction myself when I learned Thursday of the way the court ruled with regards to gerrymandering and the Census.

WITH REGARD TO the latter, the Supreme Court ruled against the desires of President Donald Trump – who wanted the Census Bureau’s official population count next year to include questions about one’s citizenship.

Making it seem that Trump and his ideologue minions want to officially regard non-U.S. citizens as non-people who wouldn’t get fully counted.

Who knows? Maybe Trump fantasized about compiling all that information into some sort of hit list of people who could then be harassed openly – so as to appease the jollies of the xenophobic types who are inclined to think that Trump himself is the equivalent of a “royal highness” of the Americas.

Which we all ought to realize applies only to states whose political majorities lean toward Trump-type Republicans.

THE SUPREME COURT ruled against that notion, with a 5-4 vote in favor of a legal opinion saying the official argument that such information is needed to enforce the Voting Rights Act is fraudulent.

For what it’s worth, that’s the same voter tally the high court reached in another measure – one that said lawsuits challenging the setting of political boundaries based on political considerations are not proper.

In short, all of those Republican-leaning states whose legislatures chose to draw boundaries meant to benefit their own partisan interests aren’t necessarily doing anything illegal. For the court ruled that such action is a state issue – and not one for the federal courts to go about trying to overturn.
… struck down Trump's desires to use the Census, ...

I don’t doubt that the people who would have wanted some sort of singling out of so-called foreigners when it comes to the Census will be pleased the court left the composition of their Legislatures alone.

WHILE OTHERS WHO would have seen the population count measure as a blatantly-partisan political move that deserved to fail now are wondering how in the heck did those nitwits on the high court blow it so badly with regards to undoing the practice of gerrymandering – the rigging of electoral boundaries for political purposes.

Maybe it’s all that time walking around wearing those black robes that look like dowdy dresses.

There is one key to comprehending these two actions – the votes were similar. By and large, the people who wanted to single out non-citizens in the Census count also wanted to protect the Republican-leaning Legislatures. The people who wanted to stop the Census from becoming a political weapon also wanted to have the court undo Legislature composition they consider to be unfair and unjust.

The difference was in the form of Chief Justice John Roberts, who as it turned out voted against the Census count measure and for the measure saying that gerrymandering is not an issue for the Supreme Court to decide.

REINFORCING THE CONCEPT that Roberts is the “swing” judge on the court whose opinion breaks a tie either way. Meaning that much of America probably despises him these days – although for different reasons that say much about our own partisanship leanings than anything about the merits of the laws themselves.

Personally, I don’t doubt the Census question was a hate-inspired proposal. Seeing it die off is a good thing.
… while indirectly benefitting Madigan

While as for gerrymandering, I wonder if the court would have viewed it differently if the legal case at hand regarded the structure of the Illinois Legislature. Would the ideologue-minded people have been willing to approve a measure that targeted the Democratic-leaning Illinois House and state Senate – rather than the measures that focused on blatantly-Republican leaning states.

Which may be the way I wind up viewing the latter ruling – it offers some protection to the political set-up we have in Illinois, which means it sort of benefits the interests of Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan. Most definitely a concept that will offend the conservative ideologues as much as their own partisan rants offend me.


Thursday, June 27, 2019

Preckwinkle overly ambitious? Seeking fourth term while barely in third

Toni Preckwinkle fell short of her desire to be the first black woman ever elected as Chicago mayor, but still seems to have her heart set on going into history as a political first of sorts.
Preckwinkle looking toward 4th term in office

Preckwinkle, 72, has already served two terms as president of the Cook County Board, and managed to get herself elected to a third term – of which she has barely served one year.

BUT PRECKWINKLE LET it be known this week that she’s already planning her next re-election. An election cycle that actually won’t come about until 2022.

Which if she manages to carry it through and win, would keep her in office through 2026 and have her as an elected official at age 80. Not bad for a woman who previously said this year she was running her last campaign for office.

It would seem that Preckwinkle hasn’t let her political defeat earlier this year to Lori Lightfoot as mayor crush her political spirits. She’s going to be in public office as long as she can – and may very well envision herself becoming the equivalent of Richard J. Daley or Harold Washington.

Both of whom died while in office. With Washington taking that literally – he suffered a stroke while working at his desk.

NOW I’M SURE some people are completely appalled at the notion that Preckwinkle won’t just wither away into anonymity. There are those who were offended that she didn’t have to give up her county board presidency post in order to run for mayor.
Won't let Lightfoot victory set her legacy

They would have wanted her overwhelming defeat to Lightfoot (tempered somewhat by the notion that many more people didn’t bother to vote at all) to be a career-crusher. Something that would cause her name to go into the Chicago history books as evidence of her public disgrace.

Instead, Preckwinkle remains as county board president (the post known informally to some political watchers as the “mayor of Cook County”) and as chairman of the Cook County Democratic Party.

Making her political legacy one of coming close to reaching the titles (if not the actual power or influence) of Mayor Daley, the elder, himself.
Does Preckwinkle hope to last as long as Dunne or Daley?

WHICH MEANS I’M sure there are some who already are gearing up to cast votes against her come 2022.

Who knows? Maybe some people truly are petty enough to hold a life-long grudge against Preckwinkle for that pop tax measure (a penny per ounce) she pushed that boosted the cost of a can of cola upward by about 21 cents.

While some who truly carried the notion of Lightfoot as some sort of political saint may well want to hate on Preckwinkle for having the nerve to run against her earlier this year.

All I know is that there’s quite a bit of time between now and 2022. Who’s to say what will happen that will change conditions for Preckwinkle. Perhaps she’ll become politically fashionable again?

OR MAYBE SHE’LL come up with circumstances that show she won’t be able to run for a fourth term – which would be something extraordinary.
Will Preckwinkle have Washington-type ending?

Because if she truly were able to serve four terms as county board president, that would make her one of the longest holders of that office ever. You’d literally have to look back to George Dunne (who served from 1969 to 1971) to find someone who held the post longer.

The point may well be that Toni Preckwinkle isn’t going anywhere. She’s in office, and intends to carry on with her job for years to come.

The real question, one that we’ll see answered in 2022, is whether the electorate is in any mood to retain her in office. Or will voters remain as temperamental three years from now as they were back in May – and finally send her off to political retirement?


Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Who’s REALLY going to wait ‘til turning 21 before taking a ‘toke’ of pot?

Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed off Tuesday on the measure making Illinois the 11th state allowing people to get themselves high on marijuana – if they so choose.
Will people take a toke for Gov. Pritzker … 

Under the new law, people ages 21 and over will be able to walk into properly-licensed dispensaries and buy small amounts of marijuana or marijuana-laced products for their own personal use.

THEY WON’T EVEN have to put up the pretense of having glaucoma or some other medical condition that would make marijuana use have a medicinal value.

Not that it means there won’t still be issues involved with marijuana use. Those people who want to view it as inherently a criminal act will still be able to get all bent out-of-shape.

Because the part of this new law that has always attracted my attention has been the provision of a minimum age. That’s 21! Which is a concept that I find ever-so-incredibly laughable.

Personally, I recall people being around 11 when they first insisted on taking a toke. Those inclined to want to be heavy users of marijuana usually were regularly (or at least as often as they could afford it) consuming it by about 14 or 15.

DOES ANYONE REALLY believe that people inclined to want to use the stuff really are going to wait until they turn 21?

Somehow, I suspect the age restriction is going to become one of the most-ignored laws we’ll have on the books. Just like the laws that say people aren’t supposed to have their first legal alcoholic drink until turning 21.

Will people start regarding their 21st birthday as an excuse to not only have their first “official” beer, but also their first smoke? Unless they find quirks in the law – such as I did with regards to alcohol.
… when the clock strikes midnight on New Year's?

For my first legal beer came three days before I turned 21 – because I happened to be in the District of Columbia at the time, and the drinking age there then was 18. So they regarded me as having been legal for years, rather than waiting another three days before selling me that beer.

WHICH ACTUALLY TURNED out to be a rather anticlimactic moment, to tell the truth.

That could turn out to be a positive for marijuana use, to be truthful. Legalizing the product would take away the stigma that would make many people think they just HAVE to give it a try.

Or maybe we’ve just increased the desire of 12-year-olds to want to take a smoke to show how grown-up they are – even if all they’re really going to provide is that they’re as ridiculous as those pre-teen girls who wear too much makeup, or youthful boys who drown themselves in cheap cologne.

But then again, the old laws (which still technically apply until Dec. 31) added to the stigma of drug use to make many would-be adults behave like teenaged halfwits at the very thought of getting high. Probably thinking they’re as entertaining while impaired as Cheech and Chong at their 1970s peak.

PERSONALLY, I’M NOT going to be inclined to rush out and get a legal stash, largely because I find the habit of smoking anything to be grubby and stinky, if not outright repulsive.
We're not all funny like Cheech & Chong

But I also don’t doubt that offending the political sensibilities of people who wanted marijuana use criminalized because they liked the idea of certain types of people being harassed to be a worthwhile concept, in-and-of itself.

So for all I know, New Year’s Day may very well come about this year with many people feeling the urge to light up and get “stoned” right at the moment the countdown reaches zero and “Happy New Year.” Just don’t bother to invite me. I can’t think of anything more deadly dull than a pot party, with people drugged into a nonsensical stupor.

Besides, it would still be illegal because it’s unlikely the pot purchase would have been made from a licensed dispensary. And in the end, Illinois did all of this because it wants the tax money!


Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Could college tuition make 25-candidate campaign instead nothing more than a Warren/Sanders brawl?

We’re up to 25 people with delusions that they’re the one capable of running for president as the Democratic Party’s nominee, with most would-be voters dreaming that everybody else is going to come to their senses and drop out – rather than run against their preferred candidate.
SANDERS: Writing off student loans

But just will be the factor that causes many of these political dreamers to “give it up” to take the advice of comedian Samantha Bee and run instead for the U.S. Senate – instead of for the post that offers up a mansion and private airplane as being amongst its perks?

A PART OF me wonders if Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren – the senators from Vermont and Massachusetts, respectively – have latched onto the idea that will sway would-be Democratic voters into making this a two-way campaign between them.

While pushing everybody else off to the political sidelines.

For Sanders and Warren are the two who have tried most to make an issue out of a college education becoming more affordable.

Warren has talked about tuition being free at public colleges. While Sanders is now going further in talking about wanting to erase the debt that students incurred in taking out the loans that helped pay their tuition bills.

HIS LINE OF logic is that it benefits no one – and actually defeats the purpose of a better-educated society – if students are perpetually in debt upon graduation.
WARREN: Tuition-free public education?

Writing off all those unpaid loan bills would benefit the students, and actually result in less time being wasted by entities that are trying to collect debts from people who, realistically, can’t afford it.

Personally, I’m not swayed by the idea – largely because I remember back some three decades ago when I was a freshly-graduated university-type scholar.

I managed to repay my loans in full – even though I also made what I’m sure some (such as my father) would regard as the asinine decision to want to be a newspaper reporter. Not exactly the highest-paid of professions we have in our society. 

FURTHERMORE, I SPENT those early-reporter years with the now-defunct City News Bureau of Chicago – a place that actually took a certain amount of pride in the low wages they paid (my memory recalls starting at $190 a week – which dropped down to $156 weekly once taxes were deducted).
O'ROURKE: Can we write-off Beto yet?

Yes, if I hadn’t had to make that monthly loan payment, I’d have had a few extra bucks. But I did make it. And also have to admit it helped that at exactly the point in time I was finished off with the loans – my future employer gave me a significant pay boost.

Which became the point in time when I could start living a more-adult lifestyle. Maybe I could have had a financially-easier time of it had I made other choices, but those were choices I made -- and I paid the cost, without expecting a financial write-off someday.

Now part of the problem, as I comprehend it, is that college costs are significantly-higher now than they were back in the Age of Reagan. When I look at the costs of college that exist now, I wonder if it would be possible to borrow so much money to afford the tab.

BUT A LARGER part of the problem lies in part with those students who, for whatever reason, wind up not completing college – but took out loans to pay for the years they attended.
BEE: Run for Senate, instead

They’re whacked with significant debt without the potential future earnings that a degree would offer them. Note I said “potential.” There’s no guarantee – as it’s usually only the most promising of students who actually wind up employed to the standard of their dreams.

So I expect Sanders will encounter some opposition from those who think “we paid off our loans, let the deadbeats do theirs.” But there also will be others who will think the theory of “free college” outweighs all others, and will be more than willing to ignore all other would-be presidential candidates just because of it.

So maybe it’s beneficial that the number of presidential dreamers on the Democratic side be reduced. Although I can’t help but be dismayed at the notion that it could be something as trivial as this that causes the ranks to be reduced to a more-comprehendible number.


Monday, June 24, 2019

It seems Mick Jagger skims the papers

The Rolling Stones had their latest concert in Chicago – Friday at Soldier Field. And it seems they did a touch of homework, in terms of localling up his stage patter.
The modern-day tour
For none other than Mick Jagger, whose freakishly huge lips are the band’s logo, not only welcomed new Mayor Lori Lightfoot, he also said he was “sorry” that Ed Burke couldn’t be amongst those in attendance at the first of two Stones’ concerts to be held in Chicago as part of their U.S. tour of 2019.

NOW IN SAYING, “I’m sorry Ed Burke couldn’t make it tonight,” was Jagger truly expressing some sort of desire that he would have wanted the city’s veteran alderman on hand?

Was he praising, or dissing, the alderman?

Just what was his point in even mentioning Burke? Personally, I’m inclined to think that anybody who shelled out the kind of cash charged for Rolling Stones concert tickets probably didn’t do so to hear anything of a political nature being said.

Jagger could have waved his hand at the crowd and shouted “Hello, Chicago!!!!!!” and been just as locally relevant in his commentary as he was in mentioning Burke’s persona.

SO FOR THOSE people who are claiming that Mick Jagger is taking a jab at our Chicago politics? I don’t see it!
As they once were

More likely, he checked out the Internet briefly for local happenings, and saw the Burke name prominently mentioned. Nothing more.

Personally, I’m inclined to think that Jagger’s more substantial Chicago commentary was when he happened to mention Friday that he’s never actually had an Italian beef sandwich – even though he’s been to Chicago dozens of times during the 55 years that the Rolling Stones have been a culturally-significant rock ‘n’ roll band.
BURKE: A lame Jagger joke?

Mick Jagger apparently has never got no Satisfaction from a beef sandwich – either “wet” or “dry.” Although the real question of significance to put to him would be to ask what kind of pizza he’d most enjoy.

DEEP-DISH OR thin, and also thin slices or the party-cut into squares? Then again, giving the “wrong” answer to that question would probably ensure many life-long Rolling Stones fans suddenly coming to the realization that the Beatles were better all along.
WALKER: Blew bad Blagojevich joke

Although maybe he has some sense of Chicago tucked away Under his Thumb – I still get my kicks out of that time many years ago that the Stones made an appearance at Chicago’s now-defunct Double Door club, and that then-Gov. George Ryan made a point of stopping by to see them.

Of course, Ryan was not yet amongst the roster of indicted gubernatoriales. So perhaps he would have been welcomed into the Rolling Stones’ realm of existence.

But if Jagger did give our politicos much thought, it likely was fleeting. Not likely to be repeated when they have their second Chicago concert of this tour come Tuesday (the one where Lightfoot says she WILL try to attend).

ALTHOUGH AT LEAST Jagger didn’t make the same gaffe that aging comedian Jimmie Walker once made about a decade ago while performing at the clubs that used to exist in Merrillville.
LIGHTFOOT: Will she take wife to concert Tuesday?

For Walker thought he’d be able to localize his comic patter with jokes about then-recently indicted Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Only he butchered the pronunciation so badly, he elicited mere groans. Perhaps he should have checked out the Blah-GOYA-vich pronouncer that Rod himself used to offer up,

While Blagojevich himself (a.k.a., 40892-424) was always the big Elvis fanatic who probably doesn’t view the hit “Jailhouse Rock” quite the same way he used to.


Saturday, June 22, 2019

Trump talk more about scaring people silly, not accomplishing anything

I’m not sure how seriously we ought to take the latest round of Trump trash talk that says, beginning Sunday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials will step up their efforts to remove from this country those individuals who haven’t dotted all the “I’s” and crossed all the “T’s” involved in getting a valid visa.
TRUMP: Sunday's the day; no more foreigners

Trump says the efforts will focus on certain cities, places that he thinks are so-called hell-holes that have too many foreigners. Yes, our very own Chicago is on the list.

SO ARE WE going to see people getting picked up, hauled away in a van, and wind up being processed for removal from this country?

Is this weekend literally “the end” of their stay in the United States for some 1 million people, as President Donald Trump insists?

I don’t doubt there are individuals who will, by coincidence, come to the attention of federal immigration officials and wind up being processed for removal this weekend.

But let’s be frank (or should we be Francisco?) here and say I doubt there will be much of a coordinated effort taking place across the more urban areas of our nation, all at the whim of Donald J. Trump.

FOR ONE THING, I suspect such an organized effort is beyond the organizational skills of federal immigration officials. If anything, it might be better to study how many people continue to evade the attention of immigration this weekend, or in coming weeks.

I suspect that Trump’s trash talk is more about el Donaldo thinking he can scare the chones off of so many Latinos by making them think the end is near for their search of a better life in the United States.

Because the dreaded la Migra is going to come and get you, similar to how some people like to tell their children tales of the boogeyman coming to take you away.
PRITZKER: The protector?

Trump thinking he can terrify Latinos (and anybody else who isn’t “white American” enough to satisfy his definition of “belonging” in this country) probably gives him a tingle of joy. Although for all we know, that ‘tingle’ is really just the president wetting his pants.

OR MORE IMPORTANT, it could be something he says just to give his silent majority (which is most definitely not silent and really only consists of about one-third of our society’s population) a jolt – to the point where they’ll sing his praises and talk up a storm about how we need “four more years” of a Trump presidency.

It’s political rhetoric, not serious public policy. Because it is delusional to think that Trump could seriously achieve the notion of removing more than a million people from this country without causing a sudden vacuum in our society.

Then again, I have to wonder about the three bills Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed into law on Friday – all related to immigration and preserving the notion that our state government views the federal immigration officials who get worked up over xenophobic fantasy as political nitwits.

Illinois now forbids the private detention centers that immigration officials want to hold all these foreigners until they can get around to deporting them. Also, non-citizens will be able to apply for financial aid if they’re accepted at state colleges.

AND LOCAL LAW enforcement officials across Illinois will be prohibited from cooperating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials. Which theoretically means immigration officials will have to do their own work in terms of enforcing federal law. Local cops will stay out of it.
Which ought to make sense to everybody. Except for nativist ideologues who want to view police of all types as a unified force that harasses people who aren’t exactly like themselves.

As much as Trump is trying to gain the support of those ideologue-inclined individuals, Pritzker wants people to know clearly that he (and Illinois) is on the complete opposite side of this political equation.

Think of it this way; Trump wants to scare up the foreigners, while Pritzker wants to frighten the ideologues who can’t comprehend a society that is accepting to all. What does it say about you personally if you side with Trump and his trash talk?


Friday, June 21, 2019

EXTRA: Return of “the Vulture,” and of past, to baseball in 21st Century

'The Vulture' returning to baseball
Something I’ve noticed about being a fan of professional baseball these days – following a ballgame has the ability to make me feel like an antique.

Not only are all the guys who I followed as ballplayers when I was a kid back in the 1970s long-gone from the playing field, they’re no longer really employable as managers or coaches.
Now most definitely a part of baseball past

MY OWN PERSONAL favorite ballplayer as a kid was Lou Piniella of the New York Yankees who went on to a lengthy managerial career with a championship in Cincinnati, a decade’s worth of contending ball clubs in Seattle and even a stint as head of the Chicago Cubs. Yet at age 75, his day in baseball is done.

More typical is Chicago White Sox manager Ricky Renteria, who at age 57 is barely older than I am. With most of today’s ballplayers having barely been born in the final years of the 20th Century.

So it was with a bit of joy that I read the reports Friday about Phil Regan – the old relief pitcher of the 1960s and early ‘70s who got hired as a pitching coach with the New York Mets.
Even Ozzie has become a relic

Regan turned 82 back in April. Considering that one-time star shortstop and manager Ozzie Guillen is now considered an antique at age 55, it feels comforting to know that baseball has someone who was once a teammate to pitchers Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale – and was even a part of that Cubs’ ballclub of 1969,

AS IN THE one that managed to fall behind the New York Mets, who went on to win the World Series that year, and give Cubs fans tales of how a black cat (rather than tired, worn-out ballplayers) caused them to lose,

Of course, Regan was the ballplayer remembered best for his nickname – “the Vulture!” Which he got during his time with the Los Angeles Dodgers when he often managed to come into a ballgame and do something that cost his team the lead (and the starting pitcher credit for the “win”), but because his team would recover and win the game, Regan himself would wind up credited with the victory.
Joy in vulturing a victory

Which makes me wonder if we’ll get a return of talk of relief pitchers “vulturing” wins? Which I certainly would consider more interesting than constant speculation about the exit velocity (how hard the impact on the ball by a bat is) every time a home run is hit!

I still remember Game 2 of the 2005 World Series, where Mark Buehrle of the White Sox pitched 7 solid innings and was on his way to a World Series win when relief pitcher Bobby Jenks came in and blew the lead. The look of relief on Jenks’ face the following inning when the White Sox managed to recoup the lead and win (with a Scott Podsednik home run) was one of joy I’ve never seen duplicated on a ballfield.


Montreal sharing Tampa Bay ballclub reminiscent of when Milwaukee ‘borrowed’ White Sox as a home team

It’s intriguing to learn that Major League Baseball is pondering a plan by which the financially-struggling Tampa Bay Rays may use the Montreal market as a part-time home – playing in the two cities in hopes of some financial success.
A scorecard from days when Sox called Milwaukee home

Some suspect that if this plan occurs, it’s just a scam by which Montreal (which lost its ballclub to Washington, D.C. following the 2004 season) can reclaim a slot in the major leagues.

WHILE OTHERS CLAIM it would be unprecedented chaos. Total mayhem would be wracked upon baseball operations. Where will the ballplayers live? Envision the massive taxation that will be incurred by the players?

What would you even call the team? What would their identity be?

All of which I find to be silly, largely because baseball has something of a precedent in this area. Think back to the late 1960s just after the Braves fled Milwaukee for Atlanta.

For 1968 and 1969, the old Milwaukee County Stadium that once had star players like Hank Aaron, Eddie Matthews and Warren Spahn (all Hall of Famers) at their peak, the home team became our very own Chicago White Sox.

WHERE EVENTUAL BREWERS owner Bud Selig (a Hall of Fame executive) convinced the White Sox to transfer a share of their home games to Milwaukee. Literally 9 games in ’68 and 11 in ’69 – or one game against each of the other home teams in the American League those two seasons.

It literally meant ballclubs in Chicago had to take a bus trip one day each season to Milwaukee to play a ballgame. With Seattle Pilots pitcher Jim Bouton recalling in his 1969 book “Ball Four” about his confusion over which city he was playing in – and him making it out to the ballpark that night only a half-hour before an evening game time.

Some were convinced it was part of a scam to get the White Sox to move to Milwaukee – although the Sox remain in Chicago, and it became the Pilots, a 1969 expansion ballclub, that wound up making the move to the land of cheese heads.
What coudda been; da Sox in Tampa!

For the White Sox, they kept their home identity, representing the Sout’ Side of Chicago even for those 20 games (out of 162) they played in Wisconsin those two seasons.

SO I EXPECT it would be that the Tampa Bay Rays would keep their identity, even while playing games at the old Olympic Stadium in Montreal – which would be the interim facility used until a permanent ballpark could be built.

As for those who think that people of the Tampa/St. Petersburg metropolitan area would be getting cheated out of their team, I sort of find their attendance woes amusing.

Yes, it seems that Florida people like spring training baseball, which is played at a cheaper cost. But the actual expense of supporting a major league ballclub during the season seems to be over their heads – so to speak.

And that is the market, in fact the very ballpark, that the White Sox themselves were prepared to leave Chicago for back in 1988 – which only failed to come about when then-Gov. James R. Thompson managed to pull off a political deal that still leaves some Illinois legislators miffed. The one that resulted in the state picking up the cost of building the structure now known as Guaranteed Rate Field.

WITH A LEASE offering up favorable-enough financial terms that the White Sox manage to meet their bills – even in those years when their attendance levels plummet. And when they do draw, they make “big bucks” off their fan base.
Le stade that housed Bruce Jenner's Olympics greatness would like another taste of Major League baseball
I wouldn’t mind it if Montreal were to return (they had the Expos from 1969-2004) to the ranks of baseball. The city would add a certain level of sophistication that you just wouldn’t get by putting a new ball club in a place like Charlotte, N.C., or Nashville, Tenn.

In fact the only good thing that came about by the demise of the Expos was that it meant the return of baseball to the national capital – which went from 1971 to 2005 without a team of its own. Unless you regard nearby Baltimore is a part of D.C.

Although it has me wondering if an eventual move from Tampa/St. Pete means an opening of that market – with some fans clamoring nostalgically for a return of the Rays. Although I’d argue the name would have to be restored to its original full “Devil Rays” – the trim truly was one of the silliest moves that baseball ever made.


Thursday, June 20, 2019

Now it’s Burke’s spouse who’s paying for his purely political ‘sins’

Is Anne Burke now as much a political … 
Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke, the spouse of the alderman now under criminal indictment, is coming under her own partisan fire from people upset with politics-as-usual – rather than actions meant to benefit themselves instead.

Burke is the alderman who is going to push to the limit a defense that his actions in the City Council are merely the way things get done. It seems his wife will wind up having to make the same arguments over-and-over.
… target as husband Ed?

FOR IN THE case of Anne Burke, she has the authority to make appointments to fill vacancies within the judiciary of Cook County. It would seem that she used her power to place people with whom she has political ties.

Which has more activist-types offended that Anne Burke didn’t give preference to “their” people instead of “her” people.

Her first offense occurred earlier this month when she used her authority to appoint a white attorney to be a judge in a sub-circuit meant to cover much of Chicago’s West Side. The intent when the sub-circuit was created in the 1990s was that it would somehow result in more judges of an African-American persuasion being picked.

Now, politicos of Latino ethnic origins are offended.

THEY SEE A different sub-circuit – one meant to cover city neighborhoods such as Pilsen, Little Village and Back of the Yards (all of which have become Spanish-speaking enclaves) and stretching out to Cicero. Where there also is a predominance of people who habla en Espanol.

Yet as various Latino aldermen and legislators are pointing out, that judicial post was given to Cara Smith, whose qualifications were serving as an aide to the Cook County sheriff’s police, where Sheriff Tom Dart is a long-time ally of Alderman Burke.

There also are signs that she gave Burke’s aldermanic re-election campaign last year a significant campaign contribution, which has those of a more criminally-conspiratorial mindset thinking she bought the judicial post. Anyway, she was sworn in to the post on Monday.
GARCIA: As critical of her as much as him

It wasn’t given to an attorney of Latino origins. For all I know, there were no such attorneys who were even considered for the post.

THE LATINO POLITICOS, including Rep. Jesus Garcia, D-Ill., who sent along a letter of support, are trying to make this an issue of ethnic prejudice, just as those interested in the initial appointment wanting to see it as a case of black political empowerment being undermined.

Of course, there’s also the fact that the Latino activist types tried seriously in the aldermanic elections this year to undermine Ed Burke and get him defeated from the City Council post he has held for half a century.

Garcia was prominently behind that effort – which failed, as voter turnout was particularly strong in the precincts of his ward that still have sizable white-ethnic populations – rather than the parts that have become solid Latino (mostly Mexican-American) neighborhoods.

So I don’t doubt this is partisan politicking, just as much as the Burkes’ activities may have its own political taint.

THEY COULDN’T BEAT him on Election Day (Ed solidly won re-election as alderman without a runoff, while Anne won a 10-year term to her Supreme Court post last year), so they’ll dredge up other dirt.
The image the alderman may be giving off

Which may, or may not, be true. In politics, “dirty pool” is downright fair – or to be expected – from all sides.

So I don’t doubt that much of these allegations is about trying to make up for Burke electoral victories – which some of those of an activist mentality likely regard as defeats for the good of the people. At least their people.

And taking a few pot shots at Ed Burke’s wife may hurt him just as much as anything they fire off directly at him. Although it does create the possibility that Burke will take great offense to Anne being criticized and could add people to his personal ‘enemies’ list.

WHAT’S THAT OLD cliché, remembered by many as a line from the film The Godfather? “Revenge is a dish that tastes best when it is served cold.”

The bottom line is that we could be in for an ugly political war, with Ed Burke doing his best to be none other than “Don Corleone” himself.