Friday, December 03, 2004

Baseball's black eye

Boy does baseball ever have a black eye today. After it was revealed that Jason Giambi testified in the BALCO case that he obtained steroids from Barry Bonds’ personal trainer Greg Anderson, Bonds (of the San Francisco Giants) admitted to taking steroids, but claims he did not know they were anabolic steroids!

Some background: According to published reports of testimony transcripts, Giambi claims Anderson told him not to make anyone aware where he got the stuff from.

In the transcripts obtained by the San Francisco Chronicle, assistant U.S. attorney Jeffrey Nedrow asked Giambi, "Did [Anderson] ever say, 'Don't be talking about getting stuff from me?'"
"That's what I mean by saying that he made it so, you know, private, that you know, 'Hey, don't say anything, don't talk about anything,'" Giambi was said to have stated to the grand jury. "You know, I assumed because he's Barry's trainer -- you know, Barry -- but he never said one time, 'This is what Barry's taking, this is what Barry's doing.' He never gave up another name that he was dealing with or doing anything with."
Giambi’s brother Jeremy also admitted to using juice from the same trainer, Bonds’ personal man.
Now Bonds finally admits he was on the juice, but says he didn’t know what the stuff was.
In fact, he claims that they (the doping agents) didn’t work.
"And I was like, to me, it didn't even work," he said. "You know me, I'm 39 years old. I'm dealing with pain. All I want is pain relief, you know? And you know, to recover, you know, night games to day games. That's it. And I didn't think the stuff worked. I was like, 'Dude, whatever,' but he was my friend.
"... If it's a steroid, it's not working," he said the grand jury.
According to some sources, these kinds of steroids are often packed in cottonseed oil or flaxseed oil containers to prevent law enforcement or the media from discovering what they are. Needless to say, I don’t buy Bonds’ assertion that he was the innocent unknowing victim for one solitary second, but that is not what is at issue here, in reality.
The real issue is that the MLBPA succeeded in keeping any substance from formally being banned. The owners have wanted to crack down on steroid use for many years, but the union simply refused to allow any banning of substances. Until 2003, any such talk was off the table as part of contract negotiations between players and owners. Thus, that means that no disciplinary action can reasonably be taken against Bonds at the baseball level, because even though these substances are against the rules now, they weren’t at the time Bonds broke the single season home run record.
The real problem in baseball is an all-powerful players union that has prevented fair play, stifled the implementation of a drug policy that would prevent what amounts to cheating, stopped a salary cap from being implemented that would help save small-market teams from collapse, ands demanded salaries so high that a family of four can’t afford decent seats to a ball game. The only way to save baseball may be another catastrophic strike in which the players’ union is finally broken.

This also raises questions about Bonds’ possible breaking of Hank Aaron’s all-time home run record, should Bonds break it. How many of those 756+ home runs (Aaron’s record is 755) were hit while Barry Bonds was on the juice?

Unless there is some major breaking story over the weekend in the world, I'll next write on Monday.

ESPN news service contributed part of the information contained in this report post.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

A much too simple thank you

President Bush gave a speech today in which he thanked the people of the Maritime Provinces of Canada for the hospitality they showed to the thousands of stranded airline passengers after the September 11th attacks. For those of us with family in Newfoundland that kind of hospitality is no shocker, but it did deserve a long overdue thank you.

Many of the folks in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia invited Americans into their homes and communities during those terribly dark days. They may never admit to this, but it is a truth that we who know what they did have understood since those events unfolded: The American people owe you a debt of gratitude which we will never be able to repay.

The smoke of satan

After Vatican II, Pope Paul VI declared that “the smoke of Satan has entered into the very heart of the Church.” It wasn’t so much the Council that the Pope had a problem with, especially since he was the pope who took it upon himself to finish Vatican II. Rather, it was the problem of internal dissent that had developed as a result of a whole lot of people in the Western world going around claiming to have “the spirit of Vatican II” and totally ignoring the letter of Vatican II, let alone the fact that Vatican II was merely the latest in a long line of ecumenical councils of the Catholic Church, nearly all of which have issued decrees or constitutions which are binding on the faithful. For some reason, many people believed that Vatican II gave them license to do as they please and still call themselves Catholic. This attitude extended to religious (that would be monks and nuns for those of you who aren’t Catholic) who discarded their habits, and refused to be distinctive witnesses to the Lord Jesus, to priests who believe it is their prerogative to believe in heterodox doctrines, or not wear their clericals in public and to act as the world acts and do as the world does. St. Paul’s call to “be ye separate” was no longer to be heeded, and many in the Church thought that the City of God could survive by compromising with the City of Man. No doubt these sorts of attitudes concerned Pope Paul; they certainly concern John Paul II, and since they seem to be all the more pervasive in today’s Church, they should concern those of us who are just lowly but faithful laymen and laywomen.

Just as the scripture says, though, you shall reap what you have sown, and last night that idea came home to roost locally. An unidentified local woman has accused Father Norman Heil, a priest of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, of having sex with her and getting her pregnant in 1965, and she says the Church pressured her to give up the child. I will admit to being skeptical about all of this, primarily because since the clerical abuse scandal broke over two years ago, thousands of claims have been put forward all over the country, and as many, if not more, have been proven false as have been proven true. Many more claimants have been paid off without the matter even being fully investigated. However, we do know that many claims of priestly abuse are true, and the sort of lax attitude of the 60’s and 70’s that said “tolerate everyone and everything” may be to blame. When the Church tolerates dissent, she opens herself up to far greater problems. Allegations like this latest one are merely God’s way of reminding the Church to quit compromising with the world, and do things the Lord’s way.

One last note: If the information is to be believed, this wasn’t rape, it was consensual sex…there is a word in the English language for such occasions: No!

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

The Greatest Generation

Tonight will be the last night that Tom Brokaw is the anchor of the NBC Nightly News. I think we have to give Brokaw credit for being a brave soldier on the journalistic front lines all those years, even if I sometimes thought his coverage to be biased toward the left.

Perhaps Brokaw's greatest contribution to the national dialogue, however, was his book The Greatest Generation. In that august work, Brokaw pays tribute to the generation that both he and I believe left an example for the rest of us about what it means to be an American. This was the generation that came of age during the Great Depression and fought and won the Second World War. These people, which included two of my grandparents, understood the meaning of poverty, loss, and sacrifice perhaps better than any subsequent generation. When they returned from defeating fascism, they would spend their lives building America into the great hyper-power of the earth, and defeating the great manace of atheistic communism. Our country is forever in the debt of this sigularly special generation, placed by Providence in the right place at the right time. For saving the world we now enjoy, we owe them our eternal thanks.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Tyrone Willingham fired at Notre Dame

Tyrone Willingham has been fired, ESPN is reporting. Willingham had a record of 21-15, including a 6-5 mark this year. The Fighting Irish lost 41-10 to No. 1 Southern Cal on Saturday. (NOTE: Since USC is Notre Dame's biggest rival, my guess is that wealthier members of the strong Irish circle of alumni had as much to do with this as did Notre Dame Athletic Director Kevin White.)

I did think Willingham was a mediocre coach, and I thought he might eventually be asked to leave. However, Notre Dame has always operated with class, at least up to this point. I believed that if Willingham were removed from his position, the on-paper reason would be because his contract had expired, that ND would simply refuse to extend his contract, thus obligating him to leave, and neither firing him as Head Football Coach nor forcing him to resign. Since Tyrone Willingham's hiring was a sensitive matter anyway (he was ND's first black coach), it might have been more appropriate to let him go by simply letting his contract run out. Notre Dame has chosen to fire him instead, which may invariably bring on a boycott by the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

I am in no way disputing that Willingham deserved to be fired. Notre Dame has traditionally been the measuring stick of NCAA football, winning more AP national championships (the last in 1988) and Heisman Trophies than any other school. Notre Dame has grown over the years to expect excellence from its football program, and in recent years, ND has lost much of the measure of national (and world) stature it once held for its football excellence. Notre Dame fans have a right and a duty to expect great performances from their coaches. Tyrone Willingham did some good things as coach, but he couldn't turn the corner. From a fan perspective, it was time for Willingham to go. Tyrone Willingham was not hired at Notre Dame just because he was black. He was not fired because of racism. He was fired because it was time for something different. I believe Ty Willingham will be a great coach some day, somewhere, I just don't know where that would be right now.

Speculation now turns to Utah coach Urban Meyer, many already saying that he'll be on his way to South Bend after what he's done for the Utes. We'll keep updating this story, because there will be more to come...

ESPN wire services contributed to some parts of this post report.

Butch Davis sacked

By now, it is old news that the Cleveland Browns fired their head coach Butch Davis (the official line is that he resigned...most wire reports are calling it a "forced resignation") after the Browns suffered a loss yesterday in the second-highest scoring game in NFL history against the Bengals.

I can once again revel in the reality that the Bengals are better than the feels just like the 80's again!

Alabama is still sovereign

If we are to believe the mainstream press, more specifically the Washington Post, the people of the sovereign State of Alabama are a bunch of racist, redneck imbaciles who dropped out of high school and can't tie their own shoes. These people, we are being told, are not very intelligent folk, but they are smart enough to plot a conspiracy to re-segregate Alabama's schools.

Such a notion is patently rediculous, of course, but you'd think it was real considering how the mainstream press is covering Alabama's defeat of a state constitutional amendment on November 2nd that would have, among other things, eliminated language requiring "separate schools for white and colored children."

The Southern Christian Leadership Conference is crying "conspiracy," and the Washington Post is declaring that the state's old racial wounds have been reopened. If that language were all that was at issue, I'd say that both the SCLC and the Post were absolutely right. As is usually the case in such matters, however, there was something else at issue that caused the defeat of the proposed amendment. The new amendment had language guaranteeing a "right" to public education. Many home-schoolers and other groups within Alabama, as well as others who educate their children outside the public school system were concerned that this new language might lead to greater state and federal control over their lives and the education of their children. (As has been seen in other states, this "right" often leads to government intrusion into personal lives on a grand scale.)

The Christian Coalition of Alabama, along with other allied groups say that they, too, believe the archaic race-language needs to be removed, they would merely like to see it done without adding new language that could create a whole series of legal messes. Perhaps the SCLC and their friends have learned a valuable lesson...You can remove what is bad without adding what may be worse. If a new amendment that simply removes the old language without adding any new legalisms comes to the Alabama ballot, it will overwhelmingly pass. If it does not come to a vote, then people will know that some liberals had more in mind than merely correcting an old injustice.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Is there something in the water in New Jersey?

Ten year-old Kaely Hay of Garwood, New Jersey got into a little trouble at school last week for a poem she wrote to celebrate Thanksgiving at school:

"Leaves are falling out of the air, Piles of leaves everywhere
Scarecrows standing high up with the corn, Farmers harvest in the early morn
Pilgrims thank God for what they were given, Everybody say ... happy Thanksgiving!"

Apparently, school officials felt compelled to edit Kaely's poetic masterpiece because some people might be offended by the fact that the Pilgrims thanked a Supreme Being, heretofore commonly addressed in the English-speaking world as God.

Kaely's mother was forced to complain to the school after her classmates voted to post Kaely's poem on a class bulletin board, which was done only after the Divine Name was summarily removed. (It was restored after a cadre of lawyers determined that God could be included in Thanksgiving poems.)

When political pundits, liberals, and newscasters talk about a divided America, they fail to address the question of why this division exists. Bluntly put, it exists because the Rest of America doesn't want to become like those school officials in New Jersey, and be forced to determine whether God should be mentioned in regard to a day meant to give thanks to Him.

Fox Story

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