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(Permanent Musical Accompaniment To The Last Post Of The Week From The Blog’s Favourite Living Canadian)
This week, Major League Baseball managed to dodge yet another of its now-traditional self-inflicted near-death experiences. From ESPN:
Twenty-six of the 38 union leaders voted in favor of a five-year CBA that saw its members make significant gains with regard to minimum salaries and the competitive balance tax threshold, among other areas. The 30 team owners ratified the deal by a unanimous vote, according to the league, finalizing a CBA that provided them with an expanded postseason field and the ability to place advertisements on uniforms.
I have always been immune to the transcendence that so many people seem to find in baseball. I am unmoved by the analytics approach because math. What I enjoy most about the game is that it takes place outdoors in the summer, which means cooling twilights with an Italian sweet sausage and a cold one. Besides that, even as regards the Red Sox, I am a very average fan. (My daughter became my ballpark companion and I am very grateful for that.) But when baseball people tell me about how the game is timeless, there is one level on which I wholeheartedly agree. One thing about baseball that never changes is the fact that, when they get together, the owners of the ballclubs can be counted on to be the most mendacious, clumsy, and transparently greedy collection of gombeens into which god ever blew breath. The past couple months have been proof enough of this eternal truth.
There never should have been a lockout. In professional sports, there never should be a lockout. Ever. The money is too good all the way around. The fact that management, fronted by MLB commissioner Rob Manfred, resorted to a lockout is an indication of how much actual baseball games matter to the people who own the teams. They’d have canceled the season—again—without a second’s thought. One thing that has changed is that, this time, the baseball press and the general public weren’t buying management’s usual spiel about “competitive balance” and “small market teams.” There was more talk about teams’ deliberately “tanking” than there was about either of those.
Back in the mid-1980s, when I was writing sports columns at the Boston Herald, baseball management decided on the brilliant strategy of agreeing not to bid on prime free agents. Excellent players like Jack. Morris, Tim Raines, and Willie McGee waited for offers that never came. Everybody was on board; the general manager of the Red Sox asked, rhetorically, “What would we do with Willie McGee?” Even the sainted “Bart” Giamatti, then the president of the National League, participated in the charade, upbraiding reporters for failing to refer to “alleged” collusion although, by 1988, this was like standing in the foothills of Nepal and referring to the “alleged Mt. Everest.” Too many people in my business were willing to take management’s farce seriously, or at least to engage in what we now call Both-Sidesism. I tried to cling to the eternal truth mentioned above.
And that eternal truth remained in play even after the settlement was announced on Thursday. The Milwaukee Brewers greeted the news by floating a story that they’d be asking for $100 million in public money for improvements to their 21-year old ballpark. A team official told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:
“Examples from across the country show ballparks becoming obsolete in many cases, and increasingly expensive to maintain in all cases, as costs and requirements from Major League Baseball continue to escalate,” Schlesinger said, in a statement to the Journal Sentinel.
Looming in the background is the possibility that the Brewers could leave Milwaukee after the team’s ballpark lease ends its initial term at the end of 2030.
Nice timing, gents.
And speaking of vulture capitalism, it was Victim Impact Day in court for the Sacklers, America’s wealthiest dope peddlers. The venue was a courtroom in White Plains where bankruptcy proceedings are being held in the matter of Purdue Pharma, the company through which the Sacklers and their employees deluged the country with OxyContin, touching off the opioid crisis that persists to this day. From the New York Times:
“This is a day like no other in the history of American jurisprudence,” Anne Andrews, a lawyer on a committee for 70,000 relatives and those in recovery, said just before the start of the hearing. “The Sacklers have to listen to the direct victims of their crimes, the stories of people who have died, who lost the potential of their lives. But for years the Sacklers painted them in their emails as slime, addicts, as low lifes, and that it was their fault they were addicted. But they are America. They are you and me.”
It apparently was a righteous comeuppance. And, true to form, Dr. Richard Sackler, who was central to the company’s hard-sell on Oxy, stayed off camera, choosing not to face the wrath of the people whose lives his product destroyed:
Speakers hurled invectives, cursing the Sacklers for their greed, seeming indifference to the devastation their company’s product had caused and their refusal to take personal responsibility… “To this day, these killers continue to deny any wrongdoing,” said Bill Nelson, an Indiana father of a son who died from overdose. “‘The families have acted lawfully in all respects’—Richard, can you honestly say that with a straight face? If so, why don’t you turn on your camera and let’s see?”
Addressing Dr. Sackler directly, Ryan Hampton, who is in recovery from opioid addiction himself, said, “In 2001, you wrote famously ‘We have to hammer on the abusers in every way possible. They are the culprits and the problem. They are reckless criminals.’ Richard Sackler, you are the abuser. You are the criminal and you are the culprit.”
This story hits home to me because, last month, having torn my quadriceps tendon, I availed myself of OxyContin for post-operative pain. I got off it as quickly as possible. If you don’t think that stuff is addictive, you’re out of your mind.
Weekly WWOZ Pick To Click: “Kora” (Go-Go Penguin): Yeah, I still pretty much love New Orleans.
Weekly Visit To The Pathe Archives: You want some March—or some month—Madness? Here, from 1929, are some young ladies playing basketball on ice. It actually looks a bit like a free-for-all. But everyone seems to be having a good time. However, a certain amount of vertical leap seems to be lacking. History is so cool.
The Russian ambassador to the UN seems to have reached deeply into the big bag of crazy these days. From the Guardian:
The Russian permanent representative to the UN, Vasily Nebenzya, delivered a lengthy account of the alleged biological weapons plot, and said the birds, bats and insects supposedly intended to spread disease would cross Ukraine’s western border. “We call upon you to think about a very real biological danger to the people in European countries, which can result from an uncontrolled spread of bio agents from Ukraine,” Nebenzya said. “And if there is a such a scenario then all Europe will be covered. “The risk of this is very real given the interests of the radical nationalist groups in Ukraine are showing towards the work with dangerous pathogens conducted together with the ministry of defence of the United States.”
There is a very real possibility that this weird claim is a pretext for Russia to employ bio-weapons of their own, so there’s really nothing funny about this, even though it does remind one of similar claims in the past. Remember when Saddam Hussein was going to baffle the US air defense by sailing his anthrax bombs in on balsa wood gliders? And then there was this episode, that actually happened. From The Atlantic:
After being transferred to the Army, thousands of bats were captured with nets at caverns around the southwest. Tiny bombs were designed for them… First, the bats had to be kept in a hibernating mode while they were shipped. To accomplish this, they were stuck in ice cube trays and cooled. Second, they had to figure out how to release them in midair. A cardboard container was supposed to automatically open and release the bats. This was a real effort that cost science and engineering effort. Unfortunately, real tests did not go as planned. There were all kinds of things that needed to be fine-tuned. For example, at one point, a few of the loaded incendiary bats were accidentally released, whereupon a hangar and general’s car were burned.
Damn draftees. They should have used volunteer bats.
Is it a good day for dinosaur news, Scientific American? It’s always a good day for dinosaur news!
Chiarenza, a paleontologist at the University of Vigo in Spain, is part of a team that recently uncovered nearly a dozen complete dinosaur skeletons, a first in Italy. The discovery is documented in the journal Scientific Reports… Dinosaurs were not the only fossil remains from the area. We also find shrimps, plants. We find crocodiles. We find all sorts of dinosaurs which still are pending proper descriptions, flying reptiles like pterosaurs.
Every place is dinosaur country. They lived then to make all the peoples of Earth happy now.
I’ll be back on Monday in the hopes that the news will be less grim, but I’m not taking odds on it. Be well and play nice, ya bastids. Stay above the snakelike, wear the damn mask, and get the damn shots, especially the damn boosters.
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