Wednesday, November 30, 2005

2006 season White Sox Moves - Part 3

Aaron Rowand for Jim Thome. Aaron Rowand for Jim Thome. Aaron Rowand for Jim Thome. Somehow, no matter how many times I say it, it just sounds weird…

Far be it for me to criticize the proven, winning combination of Kenny Williams and Ozzie Guillen in putting together a team. The 2005 season gave these guys all the street cred they need. The local TV sportscasters seem to like the deal as do many of the area sportswriters (even Mr. Reinsdorf’s new best friend, Jay Mariotti). And they do make some good points. With Everett definitely gone, Konerko maybe gone and Thomas probably gone, the Sox need some thunder in the middle of the lineup. Another point in the trade’s favor was that Thome was leaning towards rejoining the Indians. As any Sox fan will tell you, as an Indian, Thome absolutely killed Sox pitching. A more important point is this; let’s wait until all the “dealing is done” before we judge this one trade. I was no fan of the Lee-for-Posednik trade last year, but it worked out extremely well because it was just the first of many trades that also brought Dye, Iguchi and Pierzynski to the team. And, the final and most important point is this; the Sox gave up none of their major league starters or relievers. One must also note that the Sox picked him up for a relative bargain of $24 million for 3 years (with the Phillies paying the rest of Thome’s contract).

But it’s a gamble, no doubt about it. Thome will be 36 next year (Rowand is 27) and is coming off an injury-ridden season. He’ll never bunt, he’ll never steal a base and he’ll never track down a ball in the outfield and save a game with his defense. But it could work out very well, too. As a DH, his body would not suffer the wear and tear it did in Philadelphia, where he played first-base. And if Brian Anderson can live up to his promise in Center Field and bat a productive 6th or 7th or the Sox land Juan Pierre, put him in center and move Iguchi down to 6th or 7th, the middle lineup of Dye, Konerko, Thome, Iguchi/Anderson would be potent indeed.

What a luxury the Sox have now, with great pitching and a solid, solid team already established. They only have to tweak, not rebuild. Let’s hope Thome has a great year. If he does, and the Sox repeat, perhaps last year’s injustice of Kenny Williams finishing second in voting for TSN’s Major League Baseball Executive of the Year can be rectified…


Tuesday, November 29, 2005

24 years later, will justice finally be served?

Today, DuPage County States Attorney Joe Birkett announced the indictment of Brian Dugan for the rape and murder of Jeanine Nicarico nearly 24 years ago.

I’ve written about this incredible miscarriage of justice before, most recently here.

I applaud Mr. Birkett for finally moving forward with this charge and can only wish it had happened much, much sooner. The evidence against Dugan has been there for a long time, including a confession he made in 1985 (and corroborated by passing a polygraph test). Mr. Birkett, unfortunately, is also the one who tried Rolando Cruz for this crime, even though DNA evidence had ruled Cruz out, so he shouldn’t feel too good about himself for finally moving the wheels of justice forward.

Anyone who has paid attention to this case cannot help but have grave doubts about the integrity of our criminal justice system. Nevertheless, justice may finally be served here. It’s about time…

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Oh those wild and crazy Germans...

Department store humor...

Thanks, Mr. Ed.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

2006 season White Sox Moves - Part 2

The off-season moves continue for the 2006 White Sox. World Series game 3 hero Geoff Blum is returning to San Diego, the team the White Sox acquired him from. The Sox will miss him. Though he didn’t get a lot of at-bats, he could play a decent infield and outfield, was a switch-hitter and a smart base-runner. Why would he want to leave the World Champions? Probably because he didn’t see a lot of at-bats coming in 2006, either.

The Sox have re-signed Pablo Ozuna. This guy is an interesting story. He’s Mr. Versatility, having played every position in the big leagues except for pitcher and catcher. He’s bounced around some, having originally signed with the Cardinals, then going to the Marlins, the Rockies, signed by the White Sox (in 2004), then the Tigers and then the White Sox again. He showed good hitting skills in the 2005 spring training season, good enough to win a spot on the club. In 203 at bats, he compiled a .276 batting average – pretty respectable for a part-time player.

No solid news on either the Paul Konerko or Frank Thomas fronts. I’m sure Paulie is hearing some mighty fine offers from other teams, but I hope he re-signs with the Champs. He should ask Pudge Rodriguez about what it’s like to go from a World Series winner to a wanna-be; it ain’t easy…


Friday, November 18, 2005

News from Afghanistan – Part 10

I received another email from Reiko, currently stationed with an Army MEDCAP Unit, in Ghazni Afghanistan.

OK everyone… People who all know me are aware that I never like to request anything for myself, and I’m not the best one to market or sell anything, but here goes my best attempt. I am asking for help in the form of donations to help bring home a dog that I have grown to love since being in Afghanistan. I have been taking care of Snoop for the past two months and I’ve decided that if I bring home one good thing from this country, I would like it to be her.

Snoop has had quite a life, survived many ordeals, and I can honestly say she is the only bright spot for me here in Afghanistan. She gives me something to care for, love and gives me a companionship that reminds me of the warmth of home. Snoop was raised by the 1/116 (Virginia Reservists) medics from a pup. When they found her abandoned, she was so weak and sickly that they had to bottle feed her until she was strong enough to eat on her own. Some of them attempted to bring her home before they left Afghanistan, but the burden of the cost was more than they could afford.

When the 1/116 left Afghanistan, Snoop was once again orphaned, relying on the kindness of soldiers who would occasionally take pity on her and feed her a few scraps of food. As selfish as it sounds, I hoped someone else would take care of her because I knew I would become attached to her. When the mandate from our FOB Commander came down that all dogs on the FOB were to be killed, the 82D MP’s took her 200 km away in the hopes she would have a chance of survival rather than be executed at our own hands.

Unbelievably, Snoop made it back to the Ghazni PRT three weeks later! She crossed mine fields, high traffic roads, and probably some very cruel individuals who do not value the companionship of a dog. Once again, Snoop bounced from home to home; often digging for scraps in the trash can around the FOB and sleeping under tents and bunkers at night. She was in such terrible shape, that I begged our officer to let me take care of her. Luckily she has an incredible love for animals and agreed that we needed to take care of her.

Through a combined effort of all the medics, we took Snoop into our Aid Station and began caring for her. Snoop was very weak and lethargic, and we didn’t know how to treat her. My Captain called her veterinarian back in Texas to ask for advice. We used the medications we had available to us approved by the veterinarian to treat her. We groomed her and gave her all the love we could. The transformation she has made is remarkable! She’s healthy and happy and loves the new home she has been given. She’s put on weight and looks like a completely different dog than the one we brought into our home nearly a month ago.

Snoop deserves a good home, a home which I am willing and prepared to give her. I am well aware of the cost to bring her home and I am prepared to shoulder the burden for the financial costs. Everyone knows how much I love this dog, and I have been researching and asking for all the help I can get to help get her back to the United States.

If anyone is interesting in making a contribution, please contact Bonnie Buckely at I have included her link where donations can be made for Snoop. Every little bit helps get her closer to home, and you can also see the tremendous work she has done for other soldiers to help bring home the mascots they love from various deployments. Even contributions of dog toys and treats for Snoop would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks again for all of your support! I appreciate any time taken out to process my request and help me in my plight to bring her home.
This is a great website to support, and, needless to say, I’m going to make a contribution to help Reiko bring Snoop home. If you’re in a charitable mood, I’d urge you to do likewise…


Previous postings;

News from Afghanistan - Part 9
News from Afghanistan - Part 8
News from Afghanistan - Part 7
News from Afghanistan - Part 6
News from Afghanistan - Part 5
News from Afghanistan - Part 4
News from Afghanistan - Part 3
News from Afghanistan - Part 2
News from Afghanistan - Part 1

A job I wouldn't want...

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Too much time on their hands...

I know, I know, Halloween is long over. But this is so funny, I had to post it...

Mission accomplished – take 2

Several months ago, I wrote that it was my belief that it was time to end the Iraqi occupation. Not because we went in for the wrong reasons (though in hindsight, they certainly are suspect), not because I think our troops are unable to militarily win engagements and certainly not because all of a sudden I’ve decided to agree with such hypocrites as Michael Moore, Al Franken, Barbara Streisand and others of their ilk. No, the reason I think it’s time to leave is that our being there in a military mode is now doing more harm than good.

Since I wrote this, I’ve seen nothing that changes my opinion. Indeed, time has only strengthened it. The reasons are still the same;

1) We remove our troops from harms way
2) We would develop one and perhaps two new friends in the region
3) We would save a ton of money
4) More oil would be available on the international market
5) We remove a large recruiting incentive from the Islamic fanatics
6) We keep the hammer of “if you threaten us, we will remove you from power”

Anyone who is interested in a more detailed explanation of these reasons can visit my previous posting.

Today, Congressman John Murtha, Democrat of Pennsylvania, said essentially the same thing. His speech can be found here. This guy is no panty-waist. He’s a decorated Vietnam War vet (2 purple hearts) and has “been there” and “done that”. He, too, feels that we’re causing more harm than good by staying. His speech is a must-read and has already been attacked by the Neo-cons…

Iraqi elections are coming up next month – these to elect new representatives and a new government. I think we should use that opportunity to announce a pullout date, one that would occur within 6 months of that date.

What will happen to Iraq if we bring our troops home? I really don’t know. I suspect that Iraq will fracture into 3 separate countries (Kurdistan, “Sunni-stan” and “Shia-stan”). This would be initially bloody, but it would be Iraqi’s dying, not Americans (or Brits or Aussies, etc.). At some point the civil war would stop, probably when all sides realize that none of them can win. Or perhaps they’ll stay together as a unified Iraq (though I would take long odds against it). Either way, Saddam Hussein has been removed from power, Iraq’s (non-existent) WMD program is gone and it’s no longer a threat to its neighbors.

Let’s end this before it gets any worse…

Friday, November 04, 2005

2006 season White Sox Moves - Part 1

So the off-season maneuvering has begun. The 2005 WORLD CHAMPION White Sox have picked up the options for both Cliff Politte and Chris Widger. I heartily approve. Both of these guys were key to the 2005 WORLD CHAMPION White Sox’s season. Politte gave them a good-control, hard-throwing righty out of the pen and Widger gave them a very solid backup at catcher. With Pierzynski and Widger, the Sox were in great shape all year long behind the plate.

The 2005 WORLD CHAMPION White Sox also declined to pick up the option for Carl Everett. This is an interesting move as there is no question that Everett provided many key hits for the 2005 WORLD CHAMPION White Sox (OK, OK, I won’t do it again) this year. And, the guy plays a decent outfield slot. I guess Kenny Williams is thinking that he can re-sign Everett and/or pick up another bat somewhere else so that Everett won’t be missed. One can’t really judge how well this will work out until after all the off-season moves are completed.

And, in the biggest move so far, the Sox paid Frank Thomas $3.5 million to buy him out – so he’s now officially a free agent. White Sox fans have mixed emotions about The Big Hurt and it seems to break down along how long someone has been a White Sox fan. If you’re like me, and relatively new to the scene (I’ve only been a fan for about 5 years), then you really like Frank. But if you’ve been a White Sox fan for a long time, then your feelings are much more problematic. I’m sure this is due to the controversy that surrounded him and his career in the late 90’s. As I didn’t follow the team then, I don’t have any emotional baggage from this period, but my neighbor, who has been a White Sox fan forever, would be just as happy to see him leave. I think the guy still has a couple of good years left in him and want him back. As I’ve written before, he’s one of the few hitters I’ve seen who can hit ANY pitcher, even on that pitcher’s best day. That doesn’t mean he always does, of course, but he’s always a threat to.

On a related note, rumors are now swirling around that the Sox are getting ready to offer Paul Konerko a 4-year, $50 million deal. It may not be enough – this guy has an excellent chance to make even more mega-bucks. Owners might be a bit wary, seeing what a post-season flop both A-Rod and Vlad Guerrero were this year, but at the end of the day, probably somebody is going to pony up a 5 year, $80+ million offer. If the Sox don’t match that, and decline to re-sign Everett or Thomas, then what would they do at First Base and DH? One rumor floating around is that Jermaine Dye would be moved to First Base, allowing Brian Anderson to play right field. Dye did play one game at First this year and did a fine job. He’s a heck of an athlete, and I’m sure he would not embarrass himself at this position. But I’d sure miss his arm in the outfield. More than once this year, he and Iguchi teamed up to throw out runners trying to score and that’s a weapon that should not be overlooked. And, even if they do make that move, who would DH?

Anyway, the roster moves have begun and it’s going to be fun to watch. The combo of Kenny Williams and Ozzie Guillen have proved that they know how to pick players to put together a winning team and I’m looking forward to watching them engineer the 2006 version of the White Sox.


Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Combating "The Great Influenza"

In his recent essay “A Nation of Sheeple”, Dr. Walter E. Williams of George Mason University laments that Americans may accept the Federalization of local law enforcement should an outbreak of Avian Influenza occur in the US. He believes the proposal to use the US Military to enforce a quarantine, if necessary, is just the latest in a series of government power grabs.

I agree with Dr. Williams that government at all levels has a seemingly insatiable appetite for power and control. Other government meddling he mentioned in his essay, such as anti-smoking ordinances, seat-belt laws, monitoring financial transactions, etc., are certainly ones which can be debated on libertarian / small-government grounds. But on the issue of federalizing the response to an Influenza epidemic, including using the US Military, if necessary, I think Dr. Williams is being short-sighted.

First, an outbreak of Influenza in this country really is an invasion, an invasion of disease. A book I highly recommend is “The Great Influenza”, a compelling and sobering account of the Influenza outbreak which struck during World War I, killing an estimated 50-100 MILLION people world wide. Out of the millions of Americans who contracted this disease, an estimated 675,000 died from it and many more suffered long-term or permanent disabilities. An Influenza pandemic is far more deadly, spreads much more rapidly, and kills in a much shorter period of time than diseases which get greater attention, such as AIDS. True, an Influenza pandemic is not an invasion carried to our shores by foreign troops, but it is an invasion nonetheless. And an invasion of our country compels a national response.

Second, this invasion can potentially affect all of us unless effective quarantine measures can be put into place anywhere in the country at a moment’s notice. Because this disease spreads so rapidly, even an effective quarantine is not an absolute guarantee of safety, but it is the ONE thing which can be done to allow the health and emergency systems time to react. If the disease breaks quarantine, however, our health systems will almost certainly be overwhelmed and then we’re all in grave danger. If you ask people to voluntarily restrict their travel to within a quarantined area “for the duration”, it simply isn’t going to work. It’s unfortunate, but there will probably need to be force, or the threat of force, in order to create an effective quarantine.

Third, would you really trust someone like, say Gov. Blanco of Louisiana to quarantine citizens of her state should the disease break out there first? I certainly wouldn’t. She’d dither and hesitate and maybe consult her state legislature before she’d act, if she acted at all. And in that time, the disease could spread from Louisiana to other parts of the nation. Leaving the decision to quarantine at the state government level means we’re all at the mercy of the least decisive and most incompetent governor in office at the time.

Fourth, what is the alternative? Dr. Williams doesn’t propose one; he just says federalizing this issue is wrong. In a legalistic sense, he may have a point. But worrying about state’s rights or the right of citizens to travel freely won't mean much to you or your family if they catch this disease and perhaps die from it. Let’s keep the larger picture in mind here and focus on the proposed tradeoff; losing the right to freely travel for some weeks or maybe a month or two versus potentially millions of us dying.

I think Bush’s plan; stockpile currently available vaccines and anti-viral drugs, develop new technology to greatly shorten the time it takes to create vaccines, create an overall coordination plan, including quarantine procedures, and monitor, monitor, monitor, is a good starting point. One can agree or disagree with parts of it, but at least let’s agree we need a national plan in place to address a national problem.

Of course creating a plan is one thing; executing it properly is something else altogether. If Bush places another one of his cronies in charge, like that useless idiot Michael Brown, then we’re all screwed anyway. But if he follows the advice of the scientists and the people from the national and international health organizations, an influenza pandemic which is almost certainly going to kill millions worldwide could turn out to be no more than a major inconvenience for most Americans. It will be a lot easier for us to second guess the government’s response if we’re not 6 feet under…

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