America’s Pastime


Yesterday, in a surprising move, Major League Baseball announced that it would be relocating this year’s Allstar game. It had been scheduled to be played in Atlanta this summer, and would have afford an excellent occasion to memorialize the late great Hank Aaron, who passed away this year, but the Georgia Republicans had to go and screw that up. Reacting to the three stinging defeats handed to them, from the end of last year to the beginning of this one, the Georgia GOP enacted draconian voting restrictions designed to undermine and limit the black vote that had trice beaten them. This racist legislation is unconscionable and is reminiscent of Jim Crow practices of sixty years ago. MLB’s courageous stand should serve as a wakeup call to all Georgians and all Americans too. This is the 21st-century and no matter how much some people may want to, we are not going to return to those evil practices of the past.

Superb Owl

Silent Death – Barn Owl

Well, it’s game day. The one day out of the year that I regularly watch football. This year’s game seems like a rerun of past games though, but then 2020 felt like one long endlessly repeating groundhog’s day anyway. We have the KC Chiefs trying to two-peat and like a perennial, Tom Brady this time sans the Patriots. One new thing that today’s game will have is Sarah Thomas, the first female to referee in the Super bowl. I’m sure that she’ll do just fine, because women are generally excellent at point out things that men are doing wrong.

For me the football game is kind of an afterthought. The main agenda item are the commercials. In recent years, sponsors have taken to releasing their new ads before the game and I’ve viewed a slew of them online. My quick take is that they are mostly about beer and chips, with only a few oddball one thrown in. I mean, are they really offering a free trip to outer space? Is that what I heard? Are they giving away a ticket to some lucky nobody, who will get to look down upon the rest of us and rub elbows with billionaires who are paying his freight?

I watched about a dozen of these ads before even they began to get boring. We won’t be having any company over for the game and we’re certainly not going to a bar. So, that just leaves eating. We are dieting, so some responsibility needs to be shown, but we’ll likely skip dinner for snacks instead. Plus, we both have a pile of weekly points left over and I plan on using some of them. As I said, we need to show some responsibility, because tomorrow is our first weigh-in day.

The Marching Band Refused to Yield

Spartan Marching Band Bones

Fifty years ago, I was introduced to Big Ten football in Ann Arbor. I was a kid then. My dad was a fellow at the U of M. I went to high school catty-corner to the Big House. Woody and Bo were headliners then. I met my one true love. She won an all-expense paid trip to East Lansing and I followed her there. College, courtship and marriage ensued. Like I said, it’s been fifty years.

Crisp autumn afternoons bring this all back. These days, football is not a big part of my life, but when I heard that our alma mater was playing the cross-state rivals, I scanned the dial, searching for the big game. I was rewarded, doubly so. Not only did I find the game, but Michigan State was ahead. Heavily favored Michigan (+21.5) was not playing well. State went on to win the game, upsetting Michigan by 27-24. This shouldn’t have come as that big a surprise, because their head coach Harbaugh has a habit of choking for the big home game. Every year Ann Arbor hosts a rival, either Michigan State or Ohio State. Against these two foes, Harbaugh has a dismal 1-5 combined home record. In college football winning the big game often counts more than a winning season. Sorry, Jane.

We had planned on skipping Halloween this year, but our next-door neighbors invited us over. They had setup a firepit in their driveway. We brought key lime bars to share, while they tossed candy bags to the trick or treaters. There was a pretty good turnout, with usually both the kids and their parents in costume. It made for a nice evening, with a fire to ward off the chill, under a full moon.

The Hubris of Cardinal Nation

30′ Tall 2011 World Series Trophy Replica

Well, so much for hanging out close to home. We were only going to do our now regular Forest Park’s closed roads and golf course walk, when while dropping off a letter at the drive-by post office post box, we had an epiphany. Why not go downtown and checkout the new-old World Series trophy statue? So, this is what we did on Saturday. We haven’t driven the new RAV4 more than a mile or two from home for months now, so this eight mile jaunt to the river felt a bit like a road trip. Heading there, I figured that this novelty would be mobbed with so many other people that we had no hope of ever safely getting close to it. I was wrong, we had it all to ourselves. Oh by the way, the first two title years are around the corner of the building.

I had forgotten that on a weekend, excepting the occasional summer festival or a Cardinals game that the downtown is always pretty much a ghost town. There have been changes though. This trophy replica is sort of the crowning statement on a Cardinal’s long ago made promise. In order to secure government financing for the current Busch Stadium, they promised to transform the land where the old Busch Stadium stood into a multiuse venue dubbed Ballpark Village. It was supposed to encompass restaurants, shops, offices and apartments. The Cards got paid, they got their new stadium and then the Great Recession hit. For a long time Ballpark Village was just a fenced in grass field. It has been a long time coming, but the Cardinals have finally kept their promise and work on Ballpark Village is almost complete. Imagine owning a condo with a look-down view from straight away center, while sitting out on your balcony.

There has been some grumbling in town from sports purists at the hubris involve in erecting such a monument to past glories. Comparisons have been made to the hubris of the Cubs, when they installed a jewelry store near Wrigley Field, ready to dispense future World Series championship rings that never came. I say, this is a year to revel in past glories. The present has little to offer and the future is uncertain. For some reason they are replaying a football game on TV tonight. When has there been football in May? Keep your pearl clutching to yourselves. 

We decided to walk the grounds of the Arch. We repositioned the car closer and negotiated the parking meter app for the first time. Kiener Plaza had been done over, since we last visited it. The old courthouse was of course closed as were the Arch and its museum, but their grounds were open and we had not explored them since the Arch’s major renovation. We were both impressed. Today was an especially warm day, almost a record, so we didn’t last long down at the Arch.

Other sights that we saw downtown included a motorcycle club that had taken over a block of Broadway. No ten person max rule there. There was so little traffic downtown that I could pretty much cross any street at will. Pretty much. Another new sight downtown was not one, but two homeless tent encampments. They had been setup in the park around Soldier’s Memorial. One of them was across the street from City Hall. Finally, site prep for the new professional soccer stadium is well underway, to be located just west of Union Station.