June 2010

By Wink

Robert Byrd has passed away at age 92.

The West Virginia senator had a distinctive career to say the least.

I do not intend to give a blow by blow rundown of his life. If you wish that, you can get it from many sources.

I will just touch on a few of the more significant.

  • His filibuster of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. When he first ran for office he opposed civil rights, even going so far as to join the KKK in the 40’s. He came to regret that as the worst move of his life, and feared it would be in his epitaph (which it does).
  • His almost 69-year marriage to Emma (who died in 2006).
  • His vote against the resolution that gave George Bush the authority to launch the invasion of Iraq. He later said this was the vote “of which I am most proud.”

He was one of only 23 senators to vote this way. Most others (notably Hillary Clinton) voted in favor of expanding presidential power, because they didn’t have the political nerve to vote against it. (Give credit to ‘W,’ he always made sure these votes would be cast uncomfortably close to elections, so opponents could always question the ‘patriotism’ of those who voted against the president.)

Byrd warned that Congress was abdicating its constitutional power to declare war by giving the president what amounted to a blank check.

“We are rushing into war without fully discussing why, without thoroughly considering the consequences, or without making any attempt to explore what steps we might take to avert conflict.”

Years later, he called the invasion “the blunder of the age.”

He was very old by then, and very ill, but his vision was true.

RIP Senator Byrd.

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By Wink

Do you know what a ‘perfect game’ is in baseball?  This occurs when one team has all 27 batters (3 per inning, times nine innings) retired in order.

The very finest pitchers, even at the peak of their careers, know they will probably never throw a perfect game.

If a batter reaches base in any way the perfect game is out the window. Any hit or walk or hit-by-pitch ends it. A fielder misplaying a grounder or fly ball ends it.

To say that a perfect game a ‘statistical anomaly’ is more than a bit of an understatement. This has only happened 20 times in the entire history of the major leagues. (The real anomaly is that it has already happened twice this year)

This type of sporting event is so significant that, if a pitcher anywhere in the country, is five-plus innings into a perfect game, word spreads nationwide almost instantly.

And so it was on June 2 of this year. Armando Galarraga, a previously unheralded pitcher with the Detroit Tigers, was on the verge of earning the 21st ever perfect game.  ESPN was not televising this game but, for the final few innings, kept cutting to the game to show every pitch Galarraga threw live.

Sports fans across the country were hanging on each moment, and calling their friends to alert them to tune in to ESPN

Baseball has lots of goofy superstitions. When a pitcher has a no-hitter going, after about 5 innings the rest of the team will refuse to talk to the pitcher as long as the no-hitter lasts. I suppose this is so no teammate ‘jinxes’ the pitcher. A perfect game is the ultimate no-hitter. We have to imagine it was pretty quiet in the Tiger dugout….

Fans have no such restriction however, and those in the stands at the game were going gaga with every pitch.

They, along with the rest of the country, were counting down….  “He just needs four more outs….  three more outs… two more outs….   ONE MORE OUT!!   HE JUST NEEDS TO GET THIS GUY OUT!!!

HERE IT IS… A SLOW ROLLER TO THE FIRST BASEMAN… HE SCOOPS IT UP AND THROWS IT TO THE PITCHER WHO IS COVERING FIRST AND….

Well, you know the rest. Umpire Jim Joyce thought, incorrectly, that the ball was not caught in time, so he called the runner ‘safe.’

A blown call. No perfect game. Not even a no-hitter. Nothing. History erased.

There are plenty of hotheads in professional sports, and baseball probably has a higher percentage than most.

I would not have been shocked if Galarraga ‘went off’ on the umpire.

Screaming, kicking dirt and throwing things are all part of baseball. It is distasteful, but routine.

Here was Galarraga’s immediate response to the blown call.

I hereby declare Armando Galarraga “Sportsman of the Year” for his charming response to an otherwise catastrophic disappointment.

For some reason, Major League umpires are protected from post-game press scrutiny. No one is allowed to ask them questions. Jim Joyce spoke to the press anyway. His apology was profuse and heartbreaking. You could feel his anguish at having made such an errant call.

His admission was actually historic. Umpires NEVER admit they made a bad call.

So Winkest Link also offers our highest level kudos to umpire Jim Joyce.

Thank you both for bringing ‘sportsmanship’ back to sports.

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By Wink

News is breaking that Al and Tipper Gore are separating.

The reasons have not yet been divulged and, frankly, I hope they never are. The private lives of public figures should be private.

This is sad

It is not sad because he is a public figure.

It is not sad because he is a former Vice President who has accomplished blah-blah-blah.

It is not sad because I happen to agree with him on climate change.

It is sad because it is sad.

They seemed genuinely meant for each other.

But I can’t wait to hear the FOX take on this.

I am sure they can work some ‘global warming’ jokes into this story.

Rush? Are you kidding? This multiple-divorcee is sure to treat this with some sort of glee. To Rush, all topics are part of the political game, and the sadness of the separation will not be apparent to him. After so many divorces, he probably thinks ‘separation’ is for sissies.

Certainly he can work in some “Love Story” jokes. The fact that Al and Tipper really were the models for the “Love Story” characters never stopped Rush from telling people it was a lie. Presumably Rush has no staff, and no time to fact-check.

To Rush, there is nothing sacred except executive mega-salaries.

I promise you I would be equally saddened if George and Laura Bush were separating. They too seem like they belong together, and ‘better’ each other.

To be consistent, if George and Laura were separating or getting a divorce, I would NOT want to know why. It is none of my (or your) damned business.

Sorry. I don’t care what happens to Dick Cheney.

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