Sunday, February 27, 2011

So Long, Duke

One of the great legends of the game, Duke Snider, has died.

Duke Snider, the Hall of Fame center fielder for the charmed "Boys of Summer" who helped the Dodgers bring their elusive and only World Series crown to Brooklyn, died Sunday. He was 84.
Snider died at the Valle Vista Convalescent Hospital in Escondido, Calif., said the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, which announced the death on behalf of the family. Snider had been ill for months. His family said he died of natural causes.
"The Duke of Flatbush" hit .295 with 407 career home runs, played in the World Series six times and won two titles. But the eight-time All-Star was defined by much more than his stats -- he was, after all, part of the love affair between the borough of Brooklyn and "Dem Bums" who lived in the local neighborhoods.
Ebbets Field was filled with stars such as Pee Wee Reese, Roy Campanella and Gil Hodges during that 1955 championship season. Yet it is Snider's name that refrains in the ballpark favorite "Talkin' Baseball."
"Willie, Mickey, and the Duke," goes the popular song, which marks its 30th anniversary this year.
Snider wore No. 4 in Dodger blue and was often regarded as the third-best center fielder in New York -- behind Willie Mays of the Giants and Mickey Mantle of the Yankees -- during what many fans considered the city's golden era of baseball.

Snider was a key figure in Roger Kahn's classic The Boys of Summer as well as Terry Cashman's anthem Talkin' Baseball. He was a favorite among the Brooklyn faithful and will truly be missed.

The Boys of Summer

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Virginia Senate Votes To Regulate Abortion Clinics

Today's vote by the Virginia Senate makes me proud to be a Virginian:

With the backing of two Democrats and a tie-breaking vote cast by Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, Republicans in the Virginia Senate today won approval of an amended health bill that would require the state's abortion clinics to be regulated like hospitals.
The 20-20 vote on Senate Bill 924, which now heads to Gov. Bob McDonnell, represents a significant victory for anti-abortion activists, who have been trying for years to restrict access to abortion in Virginia, only to have bills killed in the Democrat-controlled Senate Education and Health CommitteeMcDonnell has indicated he would sign the legislation.
Democratic lawmakers and women's rights advocates decried legislation, which was altered on the floor of the House earlier in the week through an amendment tacked onto an unrelated bill by Del. Kathy Byron, R-Campbell and came to the Senate without being debated or discussed in committee.
They said it would effectively restrict a woman's access to abortion services by forcing the state's 21 clinics to meet standards set by the Board of Health regulating hospitals -- standards that include things like expanded hallways, parking lots and elevators that most clinics could not afford.
Currently, first-trimester abortions are considered medical procedures that can be performed in physicians' offices, similar to medical procedures such as colonoscopies, vision correction surgerycosmetic surgeryand dental surgery. Abortions in the second trimester or later must be performed in a hospital setting.
The amended legislation would require that any medical office performing more than five first-trimester abortions per month be classified as a hospital and subject to regulations devised by the State Board of Health -- a body that is appointed by the governor.
This is sensible legislation and reasonable in light of recent stories such as the massacre in Philadelphia last month. Hats off to the Senators who had the courage to stand up and do the right thing and protect the cause of life.

UPDATE: The Associated Press claims this is a tactic to force abortion clinics to close:

Virginia took a big step Thursday toward eliminating most of the state's 21 abortion clinics, approving a bill that would likely make rules so strict the medical centers would be forced to close, Democrats and abortion rights supporters said.
Gov. Bob McDonnell, a Republican and Catholic, supports the measure and when he signs it into law, Virginia will become the first state to require clinics that provide first-trimester abortions to meet the same standards as hospitals. The requirements could include anything from expensive structural changes like widening hallways to increased training and mandatory equipment the clinics currently don't have.
While abortion providers must be licensed in Virginia, the clinics resemble dentists' offices and are considered physicians offices, similar to those that provide plastic and corrective eye surgeries, colonoscopies and a host of other medical procedures.
Democrats and abortion rights supporters said the change would put an estimated 17 of the state's 21 clinics out of business. Most of the clinics also provide birth control, cancer screenings and other women's health services.
"This is not about safety for women. This is about ideology, and this is about politics," said Tarina Keene, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia. "The women of the commonwealth are going to be the ones left to suffer."
Abortion rights supporters warned of legal challenges while supporters heralded it as a way to make the procedures safer.
"It is not about banning abortions," said Sen. Jill Vogel, R-Winchester. "It is simply caring for women who are about to have an invasive surgical procedure and creating an environment for them where they have the opportunity to do that in a place that is safe."
No other state requires clinics that provide early abortions to meet hospital standards.
For years, abortion advocates have claimed that they want to make abortions safe. But as opponents of this bill have revealed what they really want is for abortion to be available on demand at any time. Their concern for the health of the woman ends when reasonable regulations to insure a woman's health are introduced. Once again the hypocrisy of abortion advocates is in plain view for all to see.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Albert Pujols A Cub? Is That Even Possible?

Michael Wilbon makes a compelling case for the possibility that Albert Pujols could, in fact, be in a Cub uniform next season.

I think it's a safe bet that since the Cardinals didn't sign him in the offseason that they are not likely going to be able to afford to offer him the $30-35 million a year over 7 or 8 years it's going to take to keep him in Cardinal uniform.

"Wait 'Til Next Year" could be a hopeful refrain after all.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Why Spring Training Matters

To the uninitiated, the phrase "pitchers and catchers report" makes very little sense. Even for a casual sports fan the start of spring training seems like a quaint idea. But here's a great explanation of why spring training matters.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Danger of the Individual Mandate

Georgetown University Law Professor Randy Barnett provides a succinct explanation of what's wrong with the Obamacare individual mandate:

Here's a thought experiment. Imagine that I tell you 100 things that you may not do tomorrow. For example, you cannot run on a treadmill, eat broccoli, buy a car, and 97 other things. While your liberty would be restricted, there would still be an infinite number of things you may still do.
Now suppose I tell you 100 things that you must do tomorrow. You must run on a treadmill, eat broccoli, buy a car, and 97 other things. These 100 mandates could potentially occupy all your time and consume all your financial resources.

You can see why economic mandates such as the individual mandate in Obamacare are so much more onerous than either economic regulations or prohibitions, and why so dangerous an unwritten congressional power should not be implied.

Be sure to read the whole thing.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Lost Art of the Triple and Other Thoughts

Only 45 days until Opening Day and pitchers and catchers report to camps today. Optimism abounds, even for me.

I ran across this piece that makes a very interesting point: the triple is a lost art. With all the focus in the past few decades on home runs it's no surprise that triples are becoming a rarer feat. It makes for interesting reading.

As I write this, the Cardinals haven't signed Albert Pujols to a contract extension. I think Tom Verducci is exactly right: Pujols' age is going to be a big hinderance in giving him the 10 year contract he's looking for. If the Cardinals can't get him to agree to a five or seven year deal then he's likely going to be a free agent at the end of the year. Then it will be interesting to see who would be willing to commit the kind of money and number of years he's looking for.

Finally, this book should make for some interesting reading as we get ready for the season.

Let's play ball.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

A Super Tribute to Ronald Reagan

Today is the Super Bowl between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers. But more importantly, it's the 100th anniversary of the birth of our 40th President, Ronald Reagan. Prior to the game today, this wonderful tribute will be shown in Cowboys Stadium.

Happy Birthday, Mr. President.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Does Andy Petitte Belong in the Hall of Fame?

It's inevitable that anytime a really good baseball player retires there is an immediate discussion of whether he will be enshrined in Cooperstown. This is true for New York Yankees starter Andy Petitte who this week made it official he was calling it a career.

Although Petitte was a very good pitcher throughout his 16 year career, the numbers do not indicate an automatic trip to the Hall. The strongest case to be made in his favor is a record 19 postseason wins (all but one with the Yankees).

The strongest case against enshrinement: only 240 regular season wins, only 2 seasons of 20+ wins and no Cy Young Awards.

Sure, the postseason record is pretty amazing but consider he was also on some great Yankee teams. To me, that's as much an argument against as in favor of enshrinement.

I think it will be a close call once he's eligible for the Hall. A case can be made for enshrinement but I'm not sure his career matches up with those already in the Hall. If he had been able to pitch a couple of more years and rack up another 20-30 victories it would be more of a lock. In the end, I think Andy Petitte will be remembered as one of the best Yankee pitchers ever and a very good pitcher during his time. But I don't think he will be considered a great pitcher and just barely miss enshrinement into Cooperstown.