Thursday, October 28, 2004

I am Happy

The Red Sox won the world series. That does not happen very often. I am euphoric. I just spent an hour or so on the phone with one of my friends, my softball coach. In 1986, I watched most of game 6 alone - I rememebr standing in the living room, in the last inning, 2 outs, with a beer in my hand, waiting to open it, waiting, not wanting to jinx them by celebrating too soon - but ready... And they put people on. My buddy, the osftball buddy, showed up in the middle of the inning - he was already worked up, he'd been listening in the car. We watched - hits were hit, runs scored, and then the grounder went between Buckner's legs. My friend jumped up and down int he middle of the floor screaming "Fuck fuck fuck!" I crawled under a desk. We continued in that vein for some time, and then another pal showed up, a New Yorker, gloating. I hated him.

We had some fun with him last week. He got as taste of what it's like to be us. And tonight - I ended up watching the game alone (we'd been planning to watch the game together, but he had to work) - and I was thinking, in the ninth, this is exactly what happened in 1986. I watched it alone, just like this - so alike, but so completely different. The way it felt. In 86, with a couple outs, when the Mets got people on board, I was terrified - the Sox were so capable of losing. And I remember distinctly saying to myself (and anyone who might have wondered by), just let them hit a pop up; no grounders, no fly balls, a pop up, someone can catch that. Those who would defend Buckner - or rather, MacNamara (I don't blame Buckner - the man was in worse shape than Curt Schilling this year!) - should take note. Everyone saw that disaster coming. I saw it coming. I knew Buckner was not capable of fielding his opsition - in truth, of course, I didn't trrust any of the other infielders, or the outfielders either. But this year? With Cabrera and Reese and Mientkevitch (there's no chance that's spelled right, but hey) out there - with Damon and Kapler int he outfield - they could hit it almost anywhere and someone was going to catch it. Hit it where you want,, I thought, just keep it in the yard - this game is over.

It's a magnificent thing. Baseball is an integral part of my life, as much as religion is for some people. It is all that. What can I say? The Red Sox have won the world series. May they do it again, and again and again.

And they did it fast - I can get some sleep! eventually. They did what I hoped - they marched through the opposition like a bunch of batting practice pitchers - well, the Cards anyway. Or more to the point - stifled them, the way Pedro Martinez or whoever will mow down the Boston College squad in early spring training. They made everyone they faced look overmatched. Looking at it now - the gutsy team playing over their heads looks like the Yankees - keeping in a series they had no business being in... Just doing it all at the beginning of the series. Exciting stuff.

One last thing - for now. As has happened through the whole post-season - whenever someone has a bad stretch, they broke out of it at a key moment. Tonight (and yesterday, a little bit) it was Trot Nixon - a huge double - a couple other hits. Just like Bellhorn and Damon at the end of the Yankee series, or Lowe, or Manny after not getting any RBI in the Yankee series, all along - everyone on the team had a huge game or two in the last week. It's wonderful. Indeed it is.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Poking the Head in

I have not done much writing here lately. Blame the Red Sox. The last week or so has been a constant rush, desperation, exultation, anticipation, exhaustion... It continues apace.

Meanwhile, out in blogland, I have been finding James Wolcott's blog to be about the best read out there. He might make the mighty "blogroll" soon, if I ever go in and add some more links.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Baseball Blogging

So Ramiro Mendoza balked in a run, and I turned it off and then it was 0-3 and then....

and now?

Sweet Jesus, look at this. The Sox come back - with the guys who weren't doing it all series suddenly doing it - Bellhorn with another Home Run - and Johnny Damon! just unbelievable.

I got nothing to say but uh - yes! fucking yes! yes yes yes yes yes!

Now let's get the Rog.

Wait - I do have more to say. It's this - one of the things that makes this team so great is the fact that they love winning. They got a lot of crap last year for celebratiing the wild card, then celebrating the short series - the twits whined that they were getting too worked up over the intermediate steps - the real champs, they say, don't celebrate til the end. Well - this gang - celebrate everything. And that, I think, is part of what gives them an edge - they just go out and play and... keep playing.

This is mind blowing. Really is. Wonderful. Amazing. God almighty. Stunning. Stop!

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Jon Stewart on Crossfire

I had heard about John Stewart's appearance on Crossfire last week, but seeing the video - my god! (Link Here) He's spectacular - he comes on, they want comedy - he gives them a lecture on their responsibility as a news show. And - despite Tucker Carlson's crying - he's funny anyway! But he gets the serious point made - that they are part of the theater of politics (and the unstated point that Stewart's show is a parody of the theater of politics), and that the theater of politics strips away the reality of politics, and undermines the political system. Stewart makes the point - sticks with it - doesn't slip into platitudes or abstractions - stays funny doing it, though not just funny... And it just hangs there, twisting in the breeze, because the other two make very little effort to discuss it. In fact, Carlson illustrates Stewart's points at almost every turn: whining because Stewart didn't play his assigned role - squirming because Stewart came on and did not just let things go the way they always go. He challenged them to a real discussion - they were not able to respond.

Could they have? I can think of things they could have said - like, "we have to walk a tightrope - we have to make it so politicians keep coming on the show - we try to get past their shields, but we can't do it directly. We have to play the games with them, to get them here, to try to get past the games." I don't know if that is a defense - but it's something. Realistic challenges require access - access requires at least some pandering to the theater. The trick is to get past the defenses, sometimes, just a bit. The problem there is that the show most likely to get at something legitimate behind the spin is the Daily Show. Comedy has always allowed criticism of those in power - Stewart uses it pretty well. Fake debate shows like Crossfire have never done that sort of thing - they allow posturing and scripted outrage. Pro wrestling....

And finally - the Crossfire guys, trying to defend themselves as "hard-hitting" - as not being part of the system - were utterly exposed by Stewart. He did to them exactly what he said they should do to politicians, and they were utterly unable to respond.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

States and Terrorism

A very good post at Washington Monthly about the war on terror - about the differences between how conservatives and liberals see the war on terror. The former, Drum says, see it as being against states - rogue states; the latter against groups that mean to do us harm - oftren active in failed states. This arises from Bush's gaffe at the third debate, claiming never to have said he wasn't concerned about Osama Bin Laden. It is more specifically an analysis of his comments when he did utter that unforgettable (except by Bush) remark. What Bush said, at the time, was:

Well, as I say, we haven't heard much from him. And I wouldn't necessarily say he's at the center of any command structure. And again, I don't know where he is. I--I'll repeat what I said. I truly am not that concerned about him. I know he is on the run. I was concerned about him when he had taken over a country. I was concerned about the fact that he was basically running Afghanistan and calling the shots for the Taliban.

This is a very clear statement of what Drum is talking about - Bush looked at even Bin Laden as dangerous because he was running a state. When he lost the state - Bush stopped caring. Drum makes the distinction that liberals indeed do tend to make:

But as dangerous as they [rogue states] are, they're still states, and they still have an interest in continuing to exist — which means they're unlikely to directly threaten the United States. What's more, since central governments dislike competing power centers, they have a fundamental interest in preventing terrorist groups from amassing too much influence within their borders.

Failed states, by contrast, don't, which is why terrorist groups seek them out. And since terrorist groups like al-Qaeda do directly threaten us, it's failed states and non-state terrorist groups themselves who pose a much greater danger to the security of the United States. John Kerry understands this. George Bush and his advisors don't.

This is right, I think. And it has been at the center of a lot of the disputes that have arisen over the last 3 years of foreign policy. The "law enforcement" model some leftists favor is based on the notion that terrorists (the ones we have to worry most about) do not operate through states. Opposition to the Iraq war obviously is built around this. I can speak for myself - when we were attacked, in the early days, when no one quite knew who had attacked us, and people wondered if it could be Saddam Hussein, I was convinced it was not. Because of this - Saddam had a country - he had a political entity that he could lose - that could be attacked and destroyed. To attack us would justify our attacking him and destroying him. He existed, in 2001, at our sufferance - and he had to know that anything that any direct move against us would result in getting him run out on a rail. And - again, speaking for myself - I am convinced that by attacking him we seriously weakened that very real deterrant on state villainy. Rogue states - (pre-conquest) Iraq, North Korea, whoever - had to know that if they messed around too much they could be taken out. But now - they have to think they can be taken out no matter what they do. So - clearly, this is not going to encourage better behavior. This encourages antinomian behavior!

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Goodbye, Goodbye, Goodbye

Jacques Derrida has died. Legal scholar Jack Balkin writes a nice appreciation....

I read Derrida in grad school, back in the 80s. Most decidedly tough sledding, but fascinating. The first piece of his I read (or tried to read) was his "Living On/Borderlines" essay in the Deconstruction and Criticism book, collecting the "Yale Mafia" inside one set of covers. Derrida's contribution ran an essay on Blanchot on top of a long footnote consisting of an essay on - long footnotes? It's been awhile. The way it looked on the page, though, was instantly addictive, and I kept reading Derrida in hopes that I could understand some of it. Eventually I did, though I had to read a lot of Nietzsche and a fair amount of Hegel first.

But understanding aside - the way he wrote suggested things, ways of writing, mixed registers. You don't see that sort of thing in academic writing all that often. You see it, instead, in works of genius like The Third Policeman . It is pleasant to imagine Derrida as a kind of gallic, "serious" Flann O'Brien. It's only slightly far-fetched - O'Brien's japes are very serious; Derrida in turn seems, if not precisely comical, certainly delighted in the sheer oddness of his writing. The puns and wordplay and elaborate typographical trickery he occasionally indulged in cannot be completely rationalized as high seriousness.

At any rate, it was that - the sense of excitement in the act of writing and thinking that his work gave off - that drew me to him first, and kept me at it, long enough to get some clue what was going on. And then - frankly, it made sense. A lot of what he said simply makes sense. Not that I can possibly justify that conclusion at this hour of the night. But as far as I am concerned, Derrida made the world a better place.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Dick Jokes aplenty

So after swearing not to watch the first presidential debate, but getting sucked in, I decided, what the hey, let's watch the VP debate - made it about 20 minutes, and then it was off to watch the Twins and Yanks. Go Johan! I did flipback now and again... I guess I missed Edwards' big comeback - he had a bad start - letting Cheney lie with impunity, and seeming wobbly and anxious, while Dick repeated his talking points and his miscellany of lies with an air of intelligence and gravity. Something like that - like Cheney's performance - is what I feared from Bush last week - making nonsense sound good... Didn't happen. Happened tonight. Then they switched the domestic policy, economy and such and Edwards came crashing back. So I'm told. Santana was pitching around that vaunted Yankee lineup, holding them down... what can I say?

Meanwhile, I shouldn't post a link to this, but what the heck? Something about Dick Cheney compels me. "A elderly Romanian man mistook his penis for a chicken's neck, cut it off and his dog rushed up and ate it, the state Rompres news agency said Monday." He should have just choked the chicken....

Oh god.

First Baseball Post of many to come

Very good story by Glenn Stout of the origins of the Curse of the Bambino in anti-semitism and infighting among millionaires. I rather suspect that Frazee bears some blame for ruining the Red Sox - selling Ruth and Mays and others - even if they were trouble makers - was not wise... but still.

I also suggest that even if no one articulated the "curse" idea before 1986, a lot of people held some version of the idea. I am struggling to remember this now - it seems to me the decline of the Red Sox, and decades of failure that followed, were always associated with the sale of Ruth... But I don't know how explicit the "curse" idea was. Seems to me, pre-86, the terms of the divine punishment against us were usually Puritan - fate, the elect, sinners in the hands of an angry god. I remember the "curse of the bambino" as a cheap, new-agey revision of that.

It's time for the Sox to be favored for something - maybe the Patsies can win as underdogs, but the Red Sox have been underdogs all these years - kick some ass, boys! March triumphant through the buttery opposition and their triple A/oldies league pitching! Rack up those three run homers! 9-3 is a good start.