Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Has Mark Buehrle made his last White Sox start?

This AP image accompanied Rick Gano's coverage this morning on Yahoo! Sports.

Toni Ginnetti's article in this morning's Sun-Times says it's uncertain whether the Sox will re-sign Buehrle. Which may mean there's hope. I know this much: If Buehrle's gone, it's a Dunn deal.

As if Mr. Dunn needs more pressure heaped upon him.

Just in case he doesn't come back, the Sox gave Buehrle a classy sendoff last night. Buehrle was even pushed out of the dugout (by Paul Konerko, according to Ginnetti) to take a curtain call in front of the sparse, but vocal, crowd present at the Cell -- and for those of us watching at home.

I have a personal reason to be grateful to Mr. Buehrle. It will take a small narrative diversion to explain why.

White Sox Opening Day is an annual highlight for me. I've attended almost every year since law school. I remember sitting in right field on Opening Day 1978. (Steve Stone was the starting pitcher that day.) It was the bottom of the 9th and I was making disparaging remarks about Ron Blomberg, the Rent-a-Player engaged by Mr. Veeck to make White Sox fans forget about Richie Zisk, the 1977 model. Blomberg had gone 0 for 4 in his debut to that point. Phil Zukowsky thought my criticisms unfair and expressed a desire that Mr. Blomberg hit the next pitch right at my head. And, sure enough, he did: White Sox 6, Red Sox 5. (And, no, I didn't get the ball.)

In the years that followed I had weekend tickets to the ballpark (which carried with them a right to buy tickets for Opening Day). After this luxury had to be sacrificed to the necessity of the kids' tuition payments, Mike McGowan has been kind enough to include me in his party. I was his guest on Opening Day in that magical year of 2005.

Mark Buehrle started that game and worked a quick eight innings (Shingo Takatsu had the 9th) for a 1-0 shutout of the Cleveland Indians. Quick? Baseball Almanac says the game ran only 1:51; you can look it up.

And that created an opportunity for me. My son Joe, then a senior at Notre Dame High School in Niles, was supposed to pitch for the Dons that day. I didn't know about his scheduled start until after I'd committed to the Sox game. Thanks to Mr. Buehrle's fast pace (he may not throw hard, but he pitches quickly) I had the chance to catch the Notre Dame game, too. Mike and I jumped in my car and we headed north.

I don't recall who the Dons were facing that day. It may have been Glenbrook North; that was a traditional early season non-conference foe. If so, that may have been the day that Joe struck out Jason Kipnis, then a senior at GBN, who now earns a paycheck from the aforementioned Cleveland Indians. In my imagination, that's probably how things went down. I have a very good imagination.

I won't claim that Mike and I got to see all of Joe's performance that day; even my imagination isn't that good. But we saw some of it, and, as I recollect, Joe (who was himself a soft-tossing southpaw) got the W.

Anyway, even if Mr. Buehrle does move on, I will remain forever grateful, not just for the no hitter and the perfect game and the amazing play on Opening Day 2010 and all the other highlights -- but also because I got to see some of Joe's game on April 4, 2005.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Joey Cora fired by text from Kenny Williams?

That's what Rich Miller is reporting this afternoon on CapitolFax: This just in... Joey Cora fired by text message. Miller links to Joe Cowley as his source.

I quote Mr. Miller's conclusion without elaboration: "Williams is the one who needs to go, and quickly, before he ruins this team completely."

Friday, September 23, 2011

Was Einstein wrong about the light speed barrier?

ABC News is among the many news outlets reporting today that scientists at CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research) have achieved unexpected results from an experiment measuring the oscillation of neutrinos. The OPERA experiment, as it is called, involved aiming a neutrino beam from the Geneva laboratory at the LNGS underground laboratory at Gran Sasso, 730 km (just under 454 miles) away in central Italy. According to the CERN press release, the experiment "appears to indicate that the neutrinos travel at a velocity 20 parts per million above the speed of light, nature's [heretofore understood] cosmic speed limit."

But don't buy stock in a warp engine start-up company just yet. The CERN scientists sound almost apologetic about the anomalous results -- as if they're anxious, even desperate, to find another explanation that fits the data:
“When an experiment finds an apparently unbelievable result and can find no artefact of the measurement to account for it, it’s normal procedure to invite broader scrutiny, and this is exactly what the OPERA collaboration is doing, it’s good scientific practice,” said CERN Research Director Sergio Bertolucci. “If this measurement is confirmed, it might change our view of physics, but we need to be sure that there are no other, more mundane, explanations. That will require independent measurements.”
Randall Mulroe's webcomic, xkcd, tries to tamp down any irrational exuberance these experimental results might trigger in an unsophisticated public:

(Click to enlarge. See original for embedded comment.)

But, still, it would be pretty darn interesting if these experimental results hold up, wouldn't it?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I am so glad we bailed out the banks -- part 1,262

CBS2 reports that Chase is about to foreclose and evict Mary Alice Keeler, 76, a former Dominican nun, from her Southwest Side home.
For decades, she was a nun with the Roman Catholic Dominican order. She was known as Sister Bernard Ellen and then left the religious life to care for her cancer-stricken mother. She later worked as a lay teacher in both Catholic and public schools, and bought a small house on the Southwest Side of Chicago.

Then she got sick and was hospitalized and in a nursing home for a time.

“I missed three payments,” the 76-year-old said. “When I was able, I sent the one back. Then I was going to send the second one back.”

She says the bank told her, “Don’t send us any more money because we’ll just send it back to you.”

Then came the foreclosure notice from Chase Bank and the order to vacate. It has not yet been enforced and the house has been sold to Freddie Mac, the federal mortgage agency.
You'll find nothing about the bank's side of the dispute in the linked article. I'm sure there is more to this story than three missed payments. At least I'd like to think so. But it's hard to imagine any additional facts that would make the bank look good in this case.

Is this really why we bailed out the banks? So they can do stuff like this?

Too big to fail = too big to care?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Airline passenger suffers real consequences because of unrealistic fears

Popehat today is upset about "a perfectly innocent woman being hauled off a flight, handcuffed, jailed, strip-searched, and grilled for hours — because some... ninny on the plane thought she and the two dark-skinned people sitting next to her were 'suspicious', and because 'better safe than sorry' has become a higher value to law enforcement than probable cause or reasonable suspicion or due process or common freaking sense, and because we’re too cowed as a people to say anything about it."

Popehat provided a link to a blog post put up by the woman in question. She's an Arab of Saudi descent, married to a Jewish physician who is, according to her blog, doing a residency in emergency medicine in Toledo. Her first-person account is well worth reading. (Here is a link to the AP account of the event.)

Worth reading also, particularly in light of the above, are Professor George Anastapolo's articles currently running in the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, "Making sense of the current state of affairs." In tonight's installment (subscription required), Anastapolo writes:
[T]he most troubling aspect of our security measures lies in what they reveal about, and do to, the American character. Indeed, there may even be something demeaning about a determined program of public announcements which insist, again and again (for years now), "If you see something, say something." What is generally seen (and heard) is a "something" which consists of a steady promotion, in effect, of fearfulness — and much should be said about that!
John Kass referred, in his column in Sunday's Tribune, calls it "the Fear Industry." He wrote:
You want proof of how well the Fear Industry is doing? Just think of all the cameras on the light poles in your central business district. Or watch the parade of crotch pat-downs at the airports, the weak smiles of the patted, smiles of the helpless. Think about what that does to a people over time.
Remember right after 9/11, when people were writing and saying that, if we allow fear of terror to alter our lives, the terrorists will have won? Remember?

Candorville asks whether we rose to the occasion after 9-11

(Click to enlarge.)

Sometimes the Sunday funnies aren't funny at all. Sometimes, as in yesterday's installment of Candorville, the "funnies" can be downright sobering. (This comic used to appear in the Tribune; you can find it now on Yahoo! Comics.)