The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Thursday afternoon miscellany

First, continuing the thread from this morning, (Republican) columnist Jennifer Rubin neatly sums up how the Republican justices on the Supreme Court seem poised to undo Republican Party gains by over-reaching:

We are, in short, on the verge of a constitutional and political tsunami. What was settled, predictable law on which millions of people relied will likely be tossed aside. The blowback likely will be ferocious. It may not be what Republicans intended. But it is coming.

Next up, Washington Post sports columnist Barry Svrluga argues that the Major League Baseball labor dispute and the lockout announced this morning will do nothing to prevent baseball from continuing its fade into irrelevance:

What can’t happen as MLB and the players’ union negotiate, though, is the actual game they stage being forgotten. Whatever the flaws in its salary structure and the dispersal of revenue, there’s money to go around. ... What should matter more than the money, then, has to be the game itself. The game itself is wounded.

Finally, today is the 20th anniversary of Enron filing for bankruptcy. In honor of that history, I give you the Deodorant Building Enron Headquarters in downtown Houston as it appeared in June 2001:

Sure Happy It's Thursday!

Corny ball games

Chicago's minor-league White Sox will play the New York Yankees tomorrow at a temporary 8,000-seat ballpark adjacent to the Field of Dreams in Dyersville, Iowa:

The Sox and Yankees begin a three-game series in the most unusual of locations. Thursday’s game will be played at a temporary 8,000-seat ballpark on the Dyersville farm where the Academy Award-nominated 1989 movie “Field of Dreams” was filmed.

“I was raised to embrace the history of the game,” Sox manager Tony La Russa said Tuesday. “Too often we lose parts of it. We should do a better job and we should do that.

“ ‘Field of Dreams’ is a great movie, embraces all about family and (what) the game is all about. A very special opportunity. Our guys are really excited to be there. I’ve seen some of the comments already. Should be a great day for the White Sox.”

This will be the first major-league game ever played in Iowa.

About that Cubs fire sale

As of June 11th, the Cubs were tied for first place. That turned out to have been the high point of 2021. The nadir arrived over the weekend when the organization perpetrated the "biggest 24-hour roster dump in franchise history," according to the Chicago Tribune:

The Cubs entered the Brewers series hitting .186 in June, the fourth-lowest average of any team in any calendar month.

After beating the Cubs 13-2 in the opening game of the homestand, again with Sogard pitching in relief, the Philadelphia Phillies knocked out Arrieta in the second inning of Game 2, taking a 7-0 lead in a 15-10 win.

The Cubs lost 11 straight, their longest skid since a 12-game streak in 2012, the first year of the rebuild. They finally ended the streak on July 7, and one day later Hoyer announced his plans had changed in the previous 11 days.

Joc Pederson was dealt to the Atlanta Braves before the opening game of the second half, igniting the sell-off. Tepera was traded to the Chicago White Sox on July 29, and Rizzo was sent to the New York Yankees after that day’s game with the Reds. 

Bryant, Báez and Kimbrel were all gone in the final hours before the July 30 trade deadline — and the last hurrah was over. TV cameras caught Bryant in the dugout of Nationals Park in an emotional embrace with hitting coach Anthony Iapoce.

It took only 11 days for the Cubs to destroy a season that seemed to have so much promise and less than 24 hours for Hoyer to dismantle the core.

I remember the San Diego Padres having a similar purge in the 1990s. It took them a very long time to recover.

Oh well. It's just business, right?

Beautiful baserunning

In Pittsburgh yesterday, Cubs player Javier Báez drew the first baseman into a rundown between home and first, allowing another player to score, and then capitalized on the catcher's error to advance to second:

The Tribune:

With Willson Contreras on second, Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman Erik González fielded Báez’s grounder and threw to first, but Will Craig caught the ball off the bag. Craig, instead of just trotting back and touching the base, advanced to try to tag Báez — and then Báez’s baserunning savvy kicked in.

As Contreras raced around third, Báez darted back toward the plate in spurts as if playing tag. Craig still hadn’t tagged Báez as Contreras dived toward home, and Craig’s toss to catcher Michael Perez was too late. After signaling Contreras should be safe, Báez then raced back to first. When Perez’s throw to first was off the mark and bounced into short right field, Báez made it to second.

The scoring determination: fielder’s choice, RBI, E2.

Báez said he simply was trying to help Contreras score by keeping Craig close to him so he would chase him. After Báez signaled Contreras safe — a moment that made Ross chuckle when watching the replay — he realized he should get back to first.

Note that all Will Craig had to do was step on first base to end the inning. Apparently he got confused, but only catcher Perez got charged with an error for his wild throw back to first.

The Cubs have won 9 of their last 11 games.

The world keeps spinning

Even though Parker has consumed my thoughts since the election, there are a few other things going on in the world:

And as I sit in my home office trying to write software, it's 17°C and sunny outside. I may have to go for a walk.

Anniversaries of blunders in presidential politics

On this day 4 years ago, the Cubs won the World Series. Just six days later, we experienced one of the worst things ever to happen in US presidential politics.

It turns out, today is the anniversary of other horrible things that happened to the Presidency:

  • In 1795, James K Polk was born.
  • In 1865, Warren G Harding was born.
  • In 1948, Dewey defeated Truman defeated Dewey. (At least this one turned out OK.)

I'm going into tomorrow a great deal more optimistic than I've felt in years. Tonight I'll have a run-down of the races I plan to watch tomorrow, though we may not know for days what the final results will be. For example, because we need to know the total number of votes cast to determine whether Illinois' Fair Tax Amendment passes, we can't know the final outcome until the 17th.

As of this morning, The Economist has lowered Biden's chances of winning from 96% to 95%, and 538 has Biden at 90%. The president can still win. I just don't think he will.

By the way, I was not wrong about the outcome of the last election.

Slow news day? In 2020? Ha!

Just a few of the things that crossed my desktop this morning:

And last night, Cubs pitcher Alec Mills threw the club's 16th no-hitter against the Milwaukee Brewers. In the history of Major League Baseball, there have only been 315 no-hitters. The last time the Cubs won a no-hitter was 51 years ago.

With apologies to Ron Shelton

– He lollygags around the Rose Garden. He lollygags on his way to the Hill. He lollygags in and out of the Oval. Do you know what that makes him? Larry?

– A lollygagger!

– A lollygagger. What's his record, Larry?

– Won in '16!

– Won in '16. How'd he ever win one?

– It's a miracle!

– It's a miracle. This is a simple game. You throw the ball, you hit the ball, you catch the ball. You got it? Now we have got a global pandemic raging for months. Hearing's at 8 in the morning.

– Ball, catch, throw, elephant, TV!

– ...

– ...

– Donnie, this is the toughest job a country has. But...the electorate wants to make a change...

(Original here.)

Baseball starts tomorrow

Major League Baseball will start a short (60-game) season tomorrow, with weird rules (including universal DH and starting extra innings with a runner on second). The games will have piped-in audience sounds because they won't actually have audiences:

MLB is also launching an interactive website feature called "Cheer at the Ballpark" that will allow fans to cheer, clap or boo virtually, from home. The idea is that audio engineers at the ballparks can then adjust the recorded crowd sounds to reflect the fans' reactions.

So how exactly do they do it? We got a glimpse behind the scenes courtesy of Adam Peri, sound supervisor with the broadcaster Sky UK, who has his fingers on the pulse of Premier League matches.

During the broadcast, Peri sits alone in a tiny booth at Sky studios in London. He's the one responsible for punching crowd sounds into the feed.

In front of him he has a technicolor console loaded with a smorgasbord of audio clips for each team: dozens of chants — scrubbed of any offensive language-- cheers, boos, whistles and more, in varying levels of intensity.

Next to that is Peri's mixing board, with faders labeled "goal," "miss," "anticipation" and "angry."

The trick, Peri says, is that you've got to think ahead, put yourself on that field, and imagine what could happen before it does, so you can react in a flash as a fan would.

The bars in Wrigleyville will no doubt spread tons of Covid-19 tomorrow and Friday before the city-mandated closing happens Friday evening. I will stay away.

But the best news? This will be the first time since 1918 that the Cubs lose fewer than 60 games—but that season only had 131 games. You have to go back 110 years to find a season with 154 games when they lost fewer than 60.

Chicago, 41 years ago today

Who could forget?

Rolling Stone explains:

Forty [one] years ago this evening, a doubleheader at Chicago’s Comiskey Park devolved into a fiery riot when crazed fans stormed the field as part of anti-disco promotional event dubbed Disco Demolition Night. The whole thing was the brainchild of disc jockey Steve Dahl, who dressed up like the general of an anti-disco army and called his followers “The Insane Coho Lips.”

Dahl thought the demonstration would consist of simply blowing up some disco records on the field between games. It was a scheme cooked up between the radio personality and White Sox owner Bill Veeck, who was desperate to increase attendance at the ballpark in the middle of a lackluster season.

The game sold out, but thousands of additional ticketless fans showed up to voice their hatred of an entire genre. Many stormed the gates and filled the ballpark way beyond capacity, setting up a dangerous situation when Dahl blew up the disco records. Fans threw firecrackers and bottles onto the field, eventually storming onto it, starting fires and battling with police. The second game was eventually called off amidst the madness.

[F]or minority groups, the incident had highly disturbing undertones given many of the perpetrators were white men and the genre was incredibly popular amongst homosexuals, blacks and women. “It felt to us like Nazi book-burning,” Chic’s Nile Rodgers once said. “This is America, the home of jazz and rock and people were now afraid even to say the word ‘disco.'”

Not Chicago's finest hour, despite the White Sox forfeiting a game because of their own bad management.