It's A New Year. Let's Go To Wal-Mart

At 3:55 this afternoon I was headed out of Wal-Mart and saw a mob of people going into the store, lined up like Vegas conventioneers at an open bar. What's the attraction? Maybe the Electronics area was going to drop a lighted ball later on. Actually, it's a pretty good bet that something lit would drop in Wal-Mart.

Anyway, I had just been there and let me tell you it is no picnic. Not only are there many shoppers per aisle in there, but there are also at least 2 employees per aisle trying to get the store recovered for what I can only assume would be year-end inventory.

Happy New Year! Now go straighten a jam-packed Wal-Mart as it's being shopped.



All Favre, All The Time

It is probably a myth that fierce Nordic explorers of yore would burn their ship once they were ashore in a new land in order to prevent retreat. Today's NFL namesakes, the Vikings, have commenced burning the team ship with a third of the season to play and everyone still on board. Talk about poor clock management!

Just a few plays away from last year's Super Bowl, Minnesota has fired the coach, Brad Childress, as of Monday. What has gone wrong? ESPN.com's Gregg Easterbrook has a thought:

"Surely, the Vikings' problem is that they have not bowed low enough before Brett Favre! Childress only drove to the airport to pick him up. Why didn't he offer to fold Favre's laundry too? If only the Minnesota Vikings would show Favre some respect!

Favre leads the league with 17 interceptions -- and maybe he wouldn't be throwing to the wrong place so often if he'd bothered to attend training camp for the past two seasons. Favre also has lost five fumbles; 22 turnovers in 10 games by the starting quarterback would doom any NFL team. The Vikings are last in the NFL in turnover differential -- and Adrian Peterson hasn't fumbled this season! Yet Childress is scapegoated while Favre floats above it all. The Metrodome crowd chanted, "FIRE CHILDRESS!" They should have chanted, "PROTECT THE FOOTBALL!"

In 2007, Green Bay wanted to be rid of Favre because the team was sick of his attitude, which boils down to: me, me, me and have I mentioned me? Sunday, Green Bay's judgment was vindicated in emphatic fashion.

In 2008, Favre single-handedly blew up the New York Jets, leading to a fired head coach and bitter recriminations all around. In 2010, Favre has blown up the Vikings, with a fired head coach and bitter recriminations all around. This must be some inexplicable coincidence -- it can't have anything to do with Brett Favre."


Raise Your Own Taxes

From Gregg Easterbrook at ESPN.com:

"Last week a group of millionaires, including the musician Moby, urged Barack Obama to raise taxes on the rich. Taxes on the rich should indeed be raised, though that alone would be far from sufficient to fix the national debt -- a combination higher middle-class taxes, Social Security reductions, defense-spending cuts and increased economic growth is required to fix the damage done by a decade of reckless spending by Democrats and Republicans alike.

Last week's group, and rich people such as Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, who say they favor higher taxes on the wealthy, should bear in mind that they can tax themselves immediately. Right now the top rate for federal income taxes in 35 percent; Obama has proposed raising the number to 39.6 percent beginning in 2011. Nothing stops Gates, or Moby, or any other rich person from simply calculating an additional tax of 4.6 percent, and adding it to the check they send to the Treasury. If you're rich and say you believe the rich should be taxed more -- then tax yourself! Otherwise you're just patting yourself on the back for claiming to want to be taxed, but never actually parting with the money.

And if the president is sincere, why hasn't he already taxed himself to the same extent that he wants to tax others? Filing jointly in 2009, Barack and Michelle Obama had an adjusted gross income of $5,505,409, and paid $1,792,414 in federal taxes. Had the top-rate tax that Obama advocates been in effect they would have paid an additional $253,249. Why didn't the president set a leadership example and tax himself by sending an additional $253,249 to the Treasury?"

Well, why not indeed? I'm not persuaded that taxes need to go up on the rich. I am of the opinion that removing more capital from the private sector and dumping into a rathole the size of a galaxy, i.e., the Federal Treasury, is bad for the economy.

But it would be wonderful to see these "higher taxes" nabobs put their money where their mouth is. But I'm not going to hold my breath.


Soup For Me

The best part of Progresso's chicken noodle soup is the noodles and the broth. The vegetables, carrots and some celery, have the flavor of the broth, basically, so getting that down is just a question of texture. You gaggers out there know of what I speak.

The chicken is OK but is often a little bit grainy, if that makes sense. But, if you eat the vegetables and the chicken first, you are left with the golden broth and tender noodles. And those goodies make the unappealing parts worthwhile. And if you've got some Keebler Town House crackers to throw in there, well, son! That's good eatin'!

I had the low sodium version today and noticed no real drop off in taste. Curious as I was to see what sort of sodium savings I was enjoying, I looked at the label. I guess 'low' has different meanings in soup-labeling land than it does in the English-speaking world. One serving of the soup had roughly 450 mg of sodium, if I remember correctly. There were two servings in the can. That means I ate 900 mg of sodium for lunch. Nine hundred mg of sodium does not translate as 'low' to me. I'm aiming for 1500 or so for the day.

I figure the way to combat all that sodium is a Snickers bar.


Crosswalk Pride

I have found that pride is much more subtle, devious, insidious than I had previously thought.

I think we can all spot with ease the person who must always have the spotlight or who constantly talks of themselves in conversations. Not having these particular flaws (I don't think!) I could mistakenly conclude that pride is not a big problem for me.

Or perhaps we've learned to spot a sneakier form of pride. This is the pride that exhibits itself as humility, or maybe false humility. Saying, "Oh, I'm not good at this!" when you really are pretty good at it. Or telling us you don't deserve any credit for some act of service. Repeatedly. The object is to be noticed while saying one doesn't deserve or desire notice.

I have discovered in myself another form of pride. Let's call it Crosswalk Pride. I have discovered that I don't really like rules very much. I have cultivated the appearance of being compliant over the years, I think. I'm a good boy and I don't get into much trouble. But recently a string of events has revealed that my depraved heart rebels against the rules. I'm talking about perfectly good rules for safety or for accomplishing things personally.

The crosswalk is a good example. Frankly, I don't want to wait for the light to change to cross the street. And, as I think about it, it's not about impatience, though, that wouldn't really be a justification. What I like to do is go to the corner and then walk along the street until I spy an opening and then dash across. I'm in control that way. I don't have to stop. Again, I'm not in a hurry - I just don't want to be told I can't go now. You're not the boss of me!

What I'm learning is that waiting for, ye even submitting to, the light is good for my soul. I need rules, boundaries, fences for my protection. Protection from speeding cars and from my own depraved and proud heart. Left to myself, I wouldn't set the borders because, as the pretender to the throne of my world, I want to do as I please.

Waiting for the light at the crosswalk is one way I can practice submission and thereby chasten my rebel's heart.



I have a little book called "The Valley of Vision". It's a collection of prayers written by Puritans and it is one of the most helpful tools for me in my ongoing effort to stoke the furnace of personal devotion.

I've copied here a prayer from it, called Regeneration, that I read yesterday and it fed me on many levels. It seems to me to be a prayer worth camping out on for a while. It strikes many chords that resonate with me in this particular time of my life.

O God of the highest heaven,

Occupy the throne of my heart, take full possession and reign supreme, lay low every rebel lust, let no vile passion resist thy holy war; manifest thy mighty power, and make me thine forever.

Thou art worthy to be praised with my every breath, loved with my every faculty of soul, served with my every act of life.

Thou hast loved me, espoused me, received me, purchased, washed, favoured, clothed, adorned me, when I was worthless, vile, soiled, polluted.

I was dead in iniquities, having no eyes to see thee, no ears to hear thee, no taste to relish thy joys, no intelligence to know thee;

But thy Spirit has quickened me, has brought me into a new world as a new creature, has given me spiritual perception, has opened to me thy Word as light, guide, solace, joy.

Thy presence is to me a treasure of unending peace;

No provocation can part me from thy sympathy, for thou hast drawn me with cords of love, and dost forgive me daily, hourly.

O help me then to walk worthy of thy love, of my hopes, and my vocation.

Keep me, for I cannot keep myself;

Protect me that no evil befall me;

Let me lay aside every sin admired of many;

Help me to walk by thy side, lean on thy arm, hold converse with thee,

That henceforth I may be salt of the earth and a blessing to all.

You could order one at Amazon if you want.


The 'S' Word

As Forrest Gump's mama might say, "Socialism is as socialism does." And I would agree with her, if she ever said that.

For Americans in 2010, who is or is not a socialist is less important than the policies a person is advocating. Take our president (please). What he is is less important that what he is doing, or trying to do. So, I haven't been big on calling Obama a socialist, or using the word flippantly.

That being said, this interview is an eye-opener. Stanley Kurtz has written a new book called "Radical-In-Chief" about Barack Obama. Here is what he says about his journey in writing this new book:

"I traveled all around the country doing what scholars do when they want to write a biography of a president or any other important individual. They go into the archives of the organizations that these people worked with, are connected to, find out what the ideology, what the feel of things was among those intellectual environs. And that's what I've done with Barack Obama. And to my shock, as I began this process of searching through the archives, I was forced to a conclusion that even I had not been inclined to make, and that is Barack Obama really is a socialist."

And he tells you why he thinks so, based on what Obama has said and done, not on some bias or preconceptions. You may wish to read the whole interview.


Get All Excited

I am so geeked up about the coming week that I just about can't see straight. I don't usually feel like this unless Christmas is the next day or I'm going on a trip. I always get pumped for a road trip and, by the way, I'm headed to Tulsa in a few weeks. But that's not why I'm excited. At least not today.

Two reasons to be excited if you are me. Missouri football and mid-term elections. By themselves maybe, not so much excitement, but in context - we are off the charts pumped.

You may have noticed the results of the Missouri game over the weekend. The game where Mizzou whalloped the Oklahoma Sooners (formerly No. 1) for the first time in many years and for only the 5th time in many, many more. As a result, Missouri has moved up to 6th in BCS poll and is only one of a few unbeaten teams at 7-0. The Tigers will travel to Lincoln, Nebraska Saturday for a game with the 'Huskers, or, Bugeaters, as they were formerly known. If Missouri can win there, a big if, they would have a leg up on winning the Big 12 North and a clear shot at going undefeated going into the Big 12 title game. And, the team's performance thus far shows them to be the prohibitive favorite in the conference. But only if they win Saturday. And it won't be easy.

And I'm excited about the vote on Tuesday. I believe it will be a wave election of historic proportions. The Republicans are poised to reclaim the majority in the House and have an outside shot at reclaiming the Senate. Most expert poll-watchers believe the GOP will not only win the 40 seats needed to gain the House, but will take more like 50 or 60. One or two that I have read say they've never seen an election with these kind of factors before and it may be impossible to put a lid on what to expect. In other words, the gain of seats could go even higher. Much higher.

I hope so, for the country's sake. We cannot abide the size and fiscal insanity of the current track we're on.


What About Tony?

Update: I didn't even get this posted (I wrote it this morning, but had to wait til the afternoon to post) before things changed, which I feared would happen. It appears from ESPN that LaRussa and the Cardinals are working things out. If so, my hunch, below, was wrong.

Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa is in the midst of his, now regular, re-evaluation process concerning whether he wishes to return for another season in the St. Louis dugout. Most observers believe he will, but count me among the unsure.

A month ago, I was certain that Tony was done. I don't remember what he said or how he said it, but something about some comments he made caused me to think it was his last go around. Since then, I've heard all the commentators say they believe he'll return and I, more or less, acquiesced to the conventional wisdom.

But I'm back on the doubting side now. Here's this from a chat by Joe Strauss of the Post-Dispatch. A question asked was:

"Did you expect TLR to have made his decision by now?"

Strauss' reply:

"There are those within the organization increasingly concerned TLR is preparing to bolt. I'm not there yet."

And today, the Post-Dispatch's Bernie Miklasz made a list, all speculative, of reasons Tony may be hesitant to make a decision. Maybe he's tired, or maybe it's the organizational changes or maybe he's waiting to see if someone comes calling for his services. Whatever it is, Miklasz' overriding point is that it's taking an awfully long time to make a decision that he could have begun to process when it became apparent the Cards weren't going to the postseason, which was mid-August.

So, I've come back to where I was about 6 weeks ago.

I think Tony is done.


The Penurious Pirates

See, all along, you thought the Pirates were in Pittsburgh. But no. The Pirates are from some place called penurious. You doubt me? I have proof. From the Minneapolis Star-Tribune in an article outlining the management changes of baseball clubs since the season ended:

"John Russell was booted by the penurious Pirates after 299 defeats in three seasons, which extended the woebegone franchise's consecutive losing years to a major league record 18."

The Penurious Pirates. As plain as day. Penurious must be in Minnesota and I say that for two reasons.

First, as odd as it is for a common sports article to whoop out the word 'penurious', the paper in Minneapolis' sister city, St. Paul, used the same word shortly thereafter. From the Pioneer-Press:

"For years these have been the lovable, do-no-wrong Twins who persevered despite a penurious owner, pathetic payroll and abominable stadium."

So the Pirates and the owner of the Minnesota Twins are from penurious.

Second, the Pirates were also called the 'woebegone franchise'. This must be the same part of the country that Minnesotan Garrison Keillor is always telling tales about.

So, the Pirates are from penurious, which is in Minnesota and this is why they play ball in the NL Central and not the East.

Class dismissed.


One More Time For Bobby Cox

I've been rooting against Bobby Cox for a long time, since 1990, at least. Rooting for your favorite team means your are rooting against everybody else. Rooting for the Cardinals means rooting against the Braves and Cox.

But with St. Louis all but out of it, it would be all right with me if the Braves were World Champs in Cox's last season at the helm.

You could read about what a classy guy he is, right here.


Death, Taxes and Ichiro

For the 10th straight year, Ichiro has reached 200 hits, a standard of excellence that can be written down in ink each February. Heck, you can etch it on a plaque and send it to Cooperstown.

His metronome-steady output has reached the iconic status of a Seattle archetype - the rain, the coffee, the flying fish at the Pike Place Market, and Ichiro's 200 hits.

It's too bad we don't see and hear more of Ichiro but with his team, the Mariners, being uncompetitive and being two time zones behind us, we miss out on what he's doing. Read the whole article to appreciate what he's accomplished in just 10 years here and wonder at what his career totals would have been had he begun here instead of Japan.



The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

One time Clint Eastwood made a movie. That movie had the same title as this post and more than one writer has leaned upon it as a device for outlining an article or essay or some such thing.

And who am I to let a handy device slip away?

The Good
The Seattle Seahawks who spanked the San Francisco 49ers 31-6 on Sunday. The Seahawks have embarked upon a renovation under the direction of new coach Pete Carroll who has churned the roster, jettisoning many veterans and bringing in fresh faces. It looks like the 'Hawks may be at least a bit better than advertised in 2010.

The Bad
I think the Christine O'Donnell victory in the Delaware Republican primary for the U.S. Senate is bad news. It does not appear that O'Donnell, the Tea Party favorite, is capable of garnering enough support in November in a decidedly blue state to defeat the Democrat and defeating Democrats is the point, not ideological zeal. Mike Castle, the man that O'Donnell defeated appeared to have had a relatively easy path to winning the seat for Republicans which would have been critically valuable if the GOP were to threaten the Democratic majority in the Senate. He's not a conservative as I would prefer, but beating Democrats is the name of the game. I think this is bad news. I would be glad to be wrong here.

The Ugly
How about them St. Louis Cardinals? Pennant hopes are on life support in St. Louis and there is not a decent chance to revive them. What a frustrating season it has been. And could the off-season be worse? We'll see. The Birds need to re-sign Albert Pujols, the best player on the planet. If he doesn't get signed there may be riots.

Well, not really. Maybe.

Finally, a clip from the Eastwood movie I mentioned before. It's the famous duel at the end. I had never seen this movie until a few weeks ago. Number One Son was home and we watched it. The whole movie is a bit tedious, but this scene is marvelous.


Cool Image Of The Moment

Fort Wayne Mad Ants of the NBA's Developmental League.


Still Excellent Uniforms, Though

Before today's game the Cardinals trailed the Reds by 3 1/2 games in the National League Central division. If the Reds played .500 ball the rest of the way (18-17), St. Louis would have to go 24-14 in its remaining games to beat Cincinnati. I haven't seen anything like a 24-14 run in the Cards this year.

I talked with a friend tonight who is a sportscaster and for many years did radio play-by-play in the minor leagues. His analysis? The Cards just aren't good enough.

He's probably right.


How You Play The Game

The University of Southern California's football program has begun a new era. Gone is highly successful coach Pete Carroll to the NFL's Seattle Seahawks. Gone, too, is the former athletic director, Mike Garrett.

The new athletic director is an old Trojan hero. Former USC quarterback Pat Haden has taken over as head of the athletic department. The school faces a shortage of scholarships as a result of running afoul of the NCAA during the previous administration and quite a bit of work and patience will be needed for them to return to prominence.

I used to root for these guys back in the early 70's when Haden was the QB. If nothing else they were often playing some team I didn't like in a bowl game, so I pulled for the Trojans. Because of that I'd be rooting for them now, but then I read this article and, in particular, a quote from Haden which caused me to admire him more.

He has expanded the school's compliance program and NCAA's Infractions report and the NCAA Manual are resting prominently on desks in the athletic department. "Winning any way other than the right way is not winning at all," said Haden.

That is a remarkable and rare statement in context of the atmosphere that permeates today's college athletics. 'Win at all costs' is much more likely to be the guiding philosophy.

Said another way, Haden's view is that one has not achieved any triumph, regardless of the scoreboard, if rules were broken to obtain it.

Or, like we said in the olden days, what matters is "how you played the game."



The Sacred Ordinary

My wife read something today that spoke to her heart and she showed it to me. After having read it, and being encouraged myself (can I admit that I was fed by a blog for women? Apparently), I thought I'd give you a taste.

"What is a 'significant life?' I think it is one which can be measured as having great worth and value - forged by carefully chosen crossroads leading to the sum of a life well spent. It is a life whose moments are not wasted on the banal and ordinary, but hallows the ordinary as sacred because God is there."

I had to stop and pray and ask God to help me to remember that He is here. Always. And He's there, too, wherever there happens to be. Many times I run on autopilot, steering my life this way and that, doing it all like I've done it umpteen times because, well, I've done it umpteen times. And then some.

It was refreshing to my soul to be reminded that the ordinary is sacred because God is there. The ordinary is not sacred because of time or geography or day or music or atmosphere or mood or me or you or any other human being. The ordinary is sacred because God is present.

In the early 80's I worked at a Pizza Hut here in town. I worked mainly as an 'opener' which meant I set up the salad bar, turned on the ovens and rolled out pizza dough. I also ate Club Crackers and drank Pepsi, but that has nothing to do with anything.

The point is, often as I rolled out the dough, I would pray. And honestly those were some of the sweetest times of prayer I can recall. I needed the dough, so I kneaded the dough and fed on the Bread of Heaven.

The ordinary had become sacred - and can again.


The Whale

This post is not about Dale 'The Whale', a villain in the recently concluded 'Monk' TV series.

No, this post is about the Hartford Whalers who concluded their run in the NHL back in 1997. It seems all their merchandise still sells well (and why not, it's SHARP!), but now there is interest in reviving the franchise according to this story.

I don't know how that would get done, but I assume it would mean moving a team. I don't sense an appetite for more expansion in hockey. In fact, the NHL probably over-expanded to the south and west 10-20 years ago and now some of those teams might be ripe to migrate to more ice hockey friendly climes, such as Hartford, Connecticut, for example.

In any event, it's a good excuse to run the Whalers logo again.


Prodigal God, Chapter One's Conclusion

Author Tim Keller has spent a good part of the Introduction and Chapter One drilling one idea into our heads: the two sons represent two kinds of people and two ways of being alienated from God. The two kinds of people are sinners and pharisees.

Keller winds up the Chapter with an interesting observation. Namely, it was the self-centered and licentious sinners who were attracted to Christ. It was the moralistic pharisees who were angered and offended by Him.

"Jesus's teaching consistently attracted the irreligious while offending the Bible-believing, religious people of His day. However, in the main, our churches today do not have this effect. The kind of outsiders Jesus attracted are not attracted to contemporary churches, even our most avant-garde ones. We tend to draw conservative, buttoned-down, moralistic people. The licentious and liberated or the broken and marginal avoid church. That can only mean one thing. If the preaching of our ministers and the practice of our parishioners do not have the same effect on people that Jesus had, then we must not be declaring the same message that Jesus did. If our churches aren't appealing to younger brothers, they must be more full of elder brothers than we'd like to think."

I would not presume to fuss with Keller about this last statement - he is a towering intellect. (Here he defends orthodox Christianity on the campus at Stanford) However, I am not as certain as he about the "mathematical certainty" he ascribes to his conclusion. In other words, does the fact that certain kinds of people are attracted to our churches "only mean one thing?"

On the other hand, I can't really poke a hole in his conclusion and it's worth serious discussion.


Cards Sweep Mouthy Reds

St. Louis Has Its Bats And Arms Do The Talking

They went, they saw, they conquered. Monday evening the Cardinals arrived in Cincinnati trailing the Reds by a game. Wednesday evening the Cardinals roll out of town leading the Reds by a game after sweeping the 3-game series.

The games were spiced up by the eruption of bad feelings between the clubs, so much so that a shoving match broke out in the first inning of the second game. Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips is the one who started the ball rolling on the whole mess. Where he went wrong was the Cardinals didn't take it lying down. Phillips called them out and they came out.

Phillips and the Reds just need to look at the scoreboard.


Cool Image Of The Moment

Here's a logo from Down Under. Melbourne plays in the Australian Rules football league.

I saw this logo at Brand New, one of my favorite sites. The designers there seem to think this is too busy and are generally critical.

I'm no expert, but I know what I like and I like this. I am especially fond of the interlocking M, F, and C in the red field at the top.


The Economy Is Moving in the Wrong Direction

In an article by Lawrence Kudlow from Saturday Aug 7, he discusses the possibility that the Democrats controlling Congress will panic and may try to make something happen on the economic front before summer's end.

"Of course, Republicans will push harder to keep the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy - as they should. But Democrats are now trapped by Treasury man Tim Geithner's statements that extending low tax rates for successful earners, investors, and small businesses would actually imperil economic recovery. This is his war against investment and capital formation.

Maybe the Democratic revolt in favor of keeping all the Bush tax cuts will gather steam. But Democrats are more likely to push for greater spending than investment tax incentives. They'd rather take your money than let you keep it."

Remember this come November.

No more Democrats. Ever again. In my life.


The Prodigal God, Chapter 1

Two Kinds of People

Author Tim Keller opens Chapter One of his book, "The Prodigal God":

"Most readings of this parable have concentrated on the flight and return of the younger brother - the "Prodigal Son." That misses the real message of the story, however, because there are two brothers, each of whom represents a different way to be alienated from God, and a different way to seek acceptance into the kingdom of heaven."

We talked about the two sons in the previous post in this series, but now we'll see what they represent. Keller reminds us of Luke's setting for this parable, that there were 'tax collectors and sinners' present, as well as 'pharisees.' Two kinds of people. The former were like the younger brother in Jesus' story and the latter were like the older brother.

The tax collectors and sinners were drawn to Jesus' teaching and the pharisees were indignant about that. And it is this indignant attitude that Jesus begins to address with the parable of the two lost sons.

Here's Keller:

"Jesus' purpose is not to warm our hearts but to shatter our categories. Through this parable Jesus challenges what nearly everyone has ever thought about God, sin, and salvation. His story reveals the destructive self-centeredness of the younger brother, but it also condemns the elder brother's moralistic life in the strongest terms. Jesus is saying that both the irreligious and the religious are spiritually lost, both life-paths are dead ends, and that every thought the human race has had about how to connect to God has been wrong."

Previous posts in this series:

Cardinals-Reds Begin Today

Series in Cincy Could Bury St. Louis

The St. Louis Cardinals are in Cincinnati beginning today for a three-game series that is extremely important to both teams as they fight for the top spot in the NL Central Division.

The home-standing Reds are presently two games ahead of the Cards in the standings, though the lead is only one game in the Loss Column. A Reds sweep would put the Cardinals down five games with about 50 more to play. That's hardly insurmountable ordinarily, but the Redbirds have not given any indication with their play this season that they could get hot enough to wrest the division away from a good Cincinnati club with any kind of lead.

St. Louis will have its two best pitchers going in the series, Chris Carpenter (12-3, 2.91) tonight and Adam Wainright (16-6, 2.07) on Wednesday. Jaime Garcia (9-5, 2.53) will pitch tomorrow.

Bernie Miklasz of the Post-Dispatch with more.

MLB.com coverage here.

J.C. Ryle On Prayer

From the book A Call To Prayer:

"Praying and sinning will never live together in the same heart. Prayer will consume sin, or sin will choke prayer. I cannot forget this. I look at men's lives. I believe that few pray."


Tim Tebow, Straight-Arrow, Hated

"These are the sins of Tim Tebow: He is nice to strangers. He's never been arrested. His body is not a canvas of unsightly tattoos. He sometimes uses the word "freak" as a euphemism for the F-bomb because he doesn't curse. He is one of the greatest football players in college football history.

How anyone can stand him is anybody's guess.

The venom spews daily, in the anonymity of blog posts, in cyberspace hate groups, in the voices of callers from Alabama to Alaska. Tim Tebow, party pinata. Everybody take a whack.

The chaos that surrounds Tebow is baffling. He is the most polarizing athlete of this generation, for reasons that remain murky."

Tebow is a guy who, for me, I had no strong opinion about one way or the other. But now I cannot help but root for him, despite my antipathy for the Broncos, because of the sheer amount of baseless antipathy that a vast number of people seem to have for him.

There are real questions about his level of talent and the development of his skills. But for those questions there is an impending and unforgiving exam about to be administered. It will be proctored by the coaching staff in Denver and defenses all over the NFL will have red markers at the ready for any wrong or incomplete answers. Everybody will know whether he can play at the pro level soon enough.

But there is one question that won't be found on the gridiron: What is it about straight-arrows that drives some people bonkers?


Five Dimensions of a Great Story (like LOTR)

Anyone who blogs on a regular basis, or on a semi-regular basis, probably enjoys writing and may fancy himself to be a writer to some degree.

Peter Kreeft, the author of The Philosophy of Tolkein: The Worldview Behind The Lord of the Rings, presents five dimensions that every great story has. Justin Taylor has helpfully posted the details with links to the author's website where one can hear him lecture on some themes from the book.

Lecture anyone?

Royals Gaining Ground

There was some angst expressed by some Royals fans as the recent Major League Baseball trade deadline passed over the moves the club made. Some referred to KC's actions as "a fire sale." Ridiculous.

I personally commented on this after some Facebook fans were all in a tizzy. The trade that seemed to bother the most was the deal of Scott Podsednik to the Dodgers. The Royals also dealt Rick Ankiel to the Braves. Both of these make sense. Trading away older players who don't figure into your future plans for prospects is wise.

These are not the old Royals, who traded away Johnny Damon, Jermaine Dye, Carlos Beltran and other budding stars for prospects. Today's Royals are keeping their budding stars and trading away parts that aren't in future plans for more talent to stock the pipeline. All these pieces will begin to mature together at some point. But don't just take my word for it.

"Looking at how they're building," says one NL GM, "they can start to be very interesting the second half of next season (2011)."

Peter Gammons filed an article on the MLB.com website which recounted the travails of the Royals, Pirates and Indians, smaller market teams who have had success in the past, struggled, and had bad luck, but may be on the way back.

Here's the meat of the article for Royals fans:

If the Indians can develop a couple of their pitchers and avoid the plague of physical misfortune that has made 2010 so difficult, they can quickly be back in the competitive AL Central. It may be a season longer for the Royals, but by this time next season they will have a year's experience for Gordon in right field and Kila Ka'aihue at first base and DH, Billy Butler is an All-Star hitter and their two best prospects, first baseman Eric Hosmer and third baseman Mike Moustakas, should be ready for the Majors.

(KC GM Dayton) Moore is cautious. "I'd rather be a little late bringing a kid to the Majors than too early," he says. But Hosmer and Moustakas are impact, character players.

"Wherever Moustakas plays, his team wins," says Moore, who has seen his third baseman jump a teammate for complaining about his manager pinch-hitting for him. Farther on down the road are athletic outfielders Jarrod Dyson and Derrick Robinson, as well as 19-year-old catcher William Myers. Their top pick in June, Long Beach shortstop Christian Colon, should be quick to Kansas City."

On the surface it looks like there's one too many first basemen/DH types in the immediate future, but I guess they'll get that sorted out. The bottom line is it appears, from a baseball standpoint, that soon everything will be up to date in Kansas City.

Cool Images of the Moment

This new image that graces the top of the blog is from a mill and is one of several pictures I took one day not too far from my house.

Can one say something "graces the top" when one is responsible for the thing's existence and its placement? Sounds a little braggy. It's getting late and I don't want to change the sentence, so it'll have to do.

As I said I took several pictures that day as the sun was retiring for the evening. This is one of my favorites -

For a while it was my photo on Facebook. Or was it my avatar? Am I supposed to say avatar? Somebody help me out here.

Here's the whole shootin' match -


OK, NOW They Tell Us

The 2006 Super Bowl featured the Pittsburgh Steelers and, my favorite team, the Seattle Seahawks. Pittsburgh wound up winning the game 21-10, but it was fairly close throughout and Seattle had chances that they did not take advantage of. There was also this matter of a questionable call or two that, were they not made, would have helped the Seahawks fortunes.

Well, now one NFL official, in Seattle's camp this week for a rules session, admits that he made mistakes in that Super Bowl. There's no way to really know, but it's conceivable that the Seahawks might have had a 17-14 lead in the fourth quarter if the calls weren't made.

Honestly, I glad for him for telling the truth and I think this will close that chapter, which still irritates Seattle fans.

Sure would have been nice to win that game.

House Dems Headed for a Thumping

Almost everyone who studies and writes about political items these days believes the Democrats are potentially headed for historic losses at the polls in November. So much so that many think that the Republicans regaining control of the House is in reach and the Senate may wind up virtually even. This would be a great relief to hard-working, freedom-loving peoples everywhere.

I say, bring it on.

Real Clear Politics has Michael Barone's column about this at this link. And here's a taste:

In 1994, I wrote an article in the U.S. News & World Report arguing that there was a serious chance that Republicans could capture the 40 seats that they needed then, as now, for a majority in the House. It was the first mainstream media piece suggesting that, and it appeared on the newsstands on July 11.

I cited as evidence five polls showing incumbent Democratic congressmen trailing Republican challengers. None of those Democrats had scandal problems; all five lost in November.

Today, a lot more Democratic incumbents seem to be trailing Republican challengers in polls. Jim Geraghty of National Review Online has compiled a list of 13 Democratic incumbents trailing in polls released over the last seven weeks.


Cool Image Of The Moment

NFL training camps are open all over the place, which doesn't mean much, but at this point this is as good a time as any to post the NFL shield.

This version is old school, having been in use from 1960 to 1969. The font is particularly interesting.

Our allegiance here at Central Standard is to the Seattle Seahawks. That is odd for a Missourian, I understand, but I have my reasons.

They've a new coach and staff and a bunch of new players. There is no telling if they will be any good, but they have only won 9 games over the last two seasons, so it is hoped that they will be improved over that.

But baseball remains in force throughout the land, though few pay attention. It's a shame, but there it is.


Obama Seeking to Dodge Legalities

Fox News.com has reported that the Obama administration is looking at ways to grant legalization to illegal aliens in the U. S. without going through Congress. Republican congressmen are pressing the White House for an explanation for this action, but so far the White House is silent.

This should not surprise anyone who has been paying attention. Barak Obama and his progressive cronies are no more interested in obeying the law than the man in the moon. The sooner he is voted out of office the better. I, as I've said before, just hope we survive his administration without the Constitution in tatters.


Herzog's 24 Retired

The St. Louis Cardinals retired former manager Whitey Herzog's uniform number on Saturday.

Audio and photos from the Post-Dispatch.

The Prodigal God, There Were TWO Sons

You know when I posted the other day, I said I should begin where the author, Tim Keller, begins. And then I posted the parable from Luke 15 that we know as the Prodigal Son. Well, I goofed.

I goofed in the sense that Keller actually begins his explanation in the Introduction, so I wasn't beginning where he did. Sigh.

Without further ado (because there's been enough ado already), here are important quotes from the Introduction to Timothy Keller's The Prodigal God.

"I will not use the parable's most common name: the Parable of the Prodigal Son. It is not right to single out only one of the sons as the sole focus of the story. Even Jesus doesn't call it the Parable of the Prodigal Son, but begins the story saying, 'a man had two sons.' The narrative is as much about the elder brother as the younger, and as much about the father as the sons. And what Jesus says about the older brother is one of the most important messages given to us in the Bible. The parable might be better called the Two Lost Sons."

As I said in a previous post, the book makes a much different approach to the familiar story and in the quote above Keller makes that view much more clear. There wasn't just one boy, there were two and there was a father also, though his role has not been left untouched by teaching and preaching over the years.

Keller's Introduction goes further, spelling out who he understands the two boys to represent - it's fascinating. He says his book is ". . . written to both curious outsiders and established insiders of the faith, both to those Jesus calls 'younger brothers' and those he calls 'elder brothers . . .'"

Right away my categories get blown. I had pretty much a standard view of this story, a view probably shared by most of you, that the younger son represented the lost world Jesus came to save and the father represented our Heavenly Father. There wasn't really any interpreting done as far as the older son was concerned.

But now I think Keller is right. There's a reason Jesus makes a point of there being TWO sons. And what I think we will find as we go is that, while there may have been a day we related to the younger boy who repented and returned, we might have more in common with the attitude of the older brother these days. Or maybe it's just me.



John Jay A Cardinal Bright Spot

John Jay has been, not a revelation, but a bit of a bright spot in the Cardinals season so far. I know the Birds are still in the race and actually have a decent shot to win, but it has felt more like a frustrating season to this fan.

On the bright side, I have a friend at work who grew up in KC, likes his Royals, but does a lot of the shaking of the head when we talk. I shouldn't complain.

Jay is a rookie who has battled his way into the lineup, taking advantage of injuries to Colby Rasmus and Ryan Ludwick. Rasmus has not helped his cause at the plate, struggling while Jay keeps hitting.

I say let the kid play and package Schumaker and Rasmus in a deal to get some infield pop.

This article from the Post Dispatch has the pertinent data.

Where Can I Go From His Spirit?

As I went to run this morning, my lovely bride suggested that I think of something to pray about while running. Often, as I'm sure some of you do, things come to mind as you are going about your business and those thoughts turn into a prayer. I said OK and dove into the humidity.

Sure enough, I had things to pray about, especially my attitude concerning people driving cars on my running path.

When I returned Kathy asked me if I thought of things to pray and we talked about that a bit. Then she showed me a passage from a book she's reading and I enjoyed it so much, I thought I'd share. The book is Long Wandering Prayer by David Hansen. Here's how Chapter 2 begins:

Prayer comes to us from a people who spent the first thousand years of their existence living in tents. From Abraham to David, the Hebrews were a shepherding, moving folk. They lived out-of-doors easily, though not painlessly. Following the scent of green pastures, they passed through death valleys, ascended passes and crossed rivers. Wandering lay at the core of their psyche from the beginning, and it shaped their life with God.

The night sky fills their prayers. They praised God for heavy dew. They pleaded for deliverance from flash floods. Drought meant death. This caused their more settled cousin peoples, the Canaanites, to worship gods of storm and cloud. But during drought the Hebrews could move, and so they did. They never traveled to a place where Yahweh did not demonstrate His lordship.

Where can I go from your spirit?
Or where can I flee from your presence?

If I ascend to the heaven, you are there;
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.

If I take the wings of the morning
and settle at the farthest limits of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me fast. (Psalm 139:7-10)

This comforted and assured me in a great measure today and I trust it will do so for some of you. Happy Lord's Day

Mizzou's QB Gabbert's Got Guts

Mizzou football returns in a month or so and I for one am eager to see what the team's got this year. It's still baseball season, but college football is acceptable during the tailend of the summer game's schedule. The NFL, on the other hand, can wait until the World Series is over.

What appears to be true is the Tigers have a tough quarterback in Blaine Gabbert who is ready, willing and, hopefully, able to take the reins of the program. This article chronicles his ankle injury during last season and his bulldog attitude about getting on the field and leading the team when it would have been kosher to sit out for a game or two.

If the whole squad has this kind of guts, it'll be fun this year.


Cool Image Of The Moment

The Pacific 10 Conference has unveiled a new logo, or actually, a series of logos. The main one is shown at the right.

The Pac 10 has a new commissioner and one of his priorities is to push the brand and try to move the needle a bit regarding the general public's view of the league. Sixty percent of the TVs in the country are in the Central or Eastern Time Zones. The games out west generally start 2 or 3 hours later than here and the football is just not viewed with the same regard as in the SEC, the Big 10 or the Big 12, with the probable exception of USC.

One of the steps in changing the image is, well, new images. Hence the blue and white shield shown.

There are a number of things I like about this: the colors for one. I like the mountain in the center and the suggestion of the wave right below, portraying the variety and scope found in the conference's footprint. And I like the overall shield concept.

What I don't care for is the conflicting fonts. At least they appear to conflict to me. The PAC is just about stylized as far as it can be without looking bad all by itself. What is clear is that the 10 will become a 12 when Colorado and Utah join the league in the near future.


George Will: Not A State-Broken People

"Madison said rights pre-exist government. Wilson said government exists to dispense whatever agenda of rights suits its fancy, and to annihilate, regulate, attenuate, or dilute others."

The above quote sums up the spirit of Will's column, linked here. It is worth the time to read, I think. We are in a struggle in this country over what kind of country we will have.

As for me, I prefer the vision of Madison.


Now THIS Is How You Catch A Frisbee

Reasons To Leave A Church

Having lived in 3 other states and 13 different houses it goes without saying that we have changed churches numerous times. Unfortunately, we haven't always changed because of moves. There have been other reasons, and frankly, we might have been hasty in a case or two.

I found this article from Kevin DeYoung at the Gospel Coalition to be instructive and I recommend it.

The Prodigal God, The Text

The place to begin blogging through Timothy Keller's "The Prodigal God" is where he begins, obviously. That place is the text from Luke 15:11-32.

Here it is from the English Standard Version:

And he (Jesus) said, "There was a man who had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, 'Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.' And he divided his property between them. Not many day later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.

"But when he came to himself, he said, 'How many of my father's hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be call your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.'" And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.' But the father said to his servants, 'Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.' And they began to celebrate.

"Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. And he said to him, 'Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.' But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, but he answered his father, 'Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!' And he said to him, 'Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.'"

When I think of this story, it reminds me of my dad. Once dad had gone on some church-related "retreat"-like event. When he returned he brought gifts for my younger sister, my brother and me. I don't remember what Patricia got, but David and I were given books. On book was, as you can guess, The Prodigal Son. The other one was David and Goliath. I was standing there when Dad took the books out and I immediately claimed the David and Goliath book. I knew that story and liked it, but I had no idea what the other book was about. Dad said the David and Goliath book was for my brother because I already knew that story. Dad wanted me to have the book about the Prodigal Son. I remember being mildly disappointed, but I received the book he gave me. Soon thereafter I became familiar with the Prodigal Son and was happy to have that book instead of the one I thought I wanted.

My father knew just what to bring me.

first post in this series.


What This Election Is About

Realigning Baseball According to Class

Something that people are always going on about concerning baseball is the perceived competitive imbalance in the two leagues. I say perceived because the last time we had a champion that successfully defended it's title was the Yankees about 10 years ago. Granted, it seems the participants in the post-season is a fairly static group and the same could be said about the teams who are clearly non-contenders in a given season.

Steve Phillips, former Mets executive has proposed a unique solution that deserves some discussion. His idea is to realign the baseball divisions by payrolls. To do that a number of traditions and assumptions go by the wayside, but I think it might be OK, and this is coming from a traditionalist.

Usually when you trade your problems away you wind up getting a new set of problems in return. I think that's what would happen here. Although there would be some fresh blood being able to compete, I think some teams, like the Tigers and the White Sox, accustomed to winning would find themselves trailing the Yankees and the Red Sox.

Still, it's an interesting idea that deserves some consideration in my view.


Dorrel Norman Elvert Herzog, Hall of Famer

You know him better as Whitey.

Here's a good article from ESPN.

UPDATE: Just watched Whitey's induction speech at MLB.com and it was a lot of fun, but I wish he had told more stories about Casey Stengel and talked about the good teams he had.

Bernie Miklasz of the Post-Dispatch has a nice tribute here.


Spurgeon on God's Sovereignty

I read this today and it did my soul good.

"There is no attribute more comforting to (God's) children than that of (His) Sovereignty. Under the most adverse circumstances, in the most severe trials, they believe that Sovereignty has ordained their afflictions, that Sovereignty overrules them, and that Sovereignty will sanctify them all. There is nothing for which the children ought more earnestly to contend than the doctrine of their Master over all creation - the Kingship of God over all the works of His own hands - the Throne of God and His right to sit upon that Throne. On the other hand, there is no doctrine more hated by worldings, no truth of which they have made such a football, as the great, stupendous, but yet most certain doctrine of the Sovereignty of the infinite Jehovah. Men will allow God to be everywhere except on His throne. They will allow Him to be in His workshop to fashion worlds and make stars. They will allow Him to be in His almonry to dispense His alms and bestow His bounties. They will allow Him to sustain the earth and bear up the pillars thereof, or light the lamps of heaven, or rule the waves of the ever-moving ocean; but when God ascends His throne, His creatures then gnash their teeth. And we proclaim an enthroned God, and His right to do as He wills with His own, to dispose of His creatures as He thinks well, without consulting them in the matter; then it is we are hissed and execrated, and then it is that men turn a deaf ear to us, for God on His throne is not the God they love. But it is God upon the throne we love to preach. It is God upon His throne whom we trust." - Charles Spurgeon


Cool Image of the Moment

The Charlotte Checkers play in the American Hockey League and are affiliated with the NHL's Carolina Panthers.

Typically the Checkers colors are red and black, like the parent organization. This version is called 'Go Green' and I can only guess it has some environmental application.

Whatever it is for, it looks great!

And that is the point.


The Prodigal God

I recently read "The Prodigal God" by Timothy Keller. It is, as you might imagine, about the parable of Jesus as recorded in Luke 15 that we know commonly as "The Prodigal Son."

However Keller does not treat the parable in the way we commonly understand it, or have heard it preached and so the title of the book gives us a clue that surprises are in store.

I don't want to give it all away at this point, but I will say that this book made an impact on me as I read it and not just for a different look at the parable, but for what a difference that difference makes in our understanding of what Jesus was teaching.

The book was sent to me by a vendor after he told me how impacted he was by it. My pastor has also commented on what a remarkable work it is. I recommend it to you.

And to whet your appetite, I will post some excerpts here at Central Standard in the days ahead. I'm looking forward to going through "The Prodigal God" one more time.


9th Inning

You can almost taste it. The NL has to get 3 more outs to win the All Star Game. It's been a long time.

After a quiet top half of the inning, the bottom half explodes when David Ortiz singled sharply to start. Right away we wonder if A Rod will come off the bench. No. Adrian Beltre stands in, strikes out and sits down. Pitcher Jonathan Broxton, whose facial hair reminds me of old Dodger Mike Marshall (right), gets Buck to dink one into right. Byrd comes in but can't catch it. Ortiz had to wait to see if it was caught, gets thrown out at second by Byrd. What a big play. Probably turned the inning around. Ian Kinsler flies to center and it is over.

Your All Star Game winner is the National League and it's about time.

I haven't seen the results but my guess would be that Brian McCann is the MVP.

I'm going to bed.

8th Inning

Scott Rolen hit again this inning. Man, I miss him, what a terrific hitter. There's a reason why those Cardinals of '04 and '06 won two pennants and a World Series while having a dangerous offense. A big part of that reason is playing third base for the Cincinnati Reds these days.

NL 3, AL 1

7th Inning, Wainright Edition

I forgot to report on the bottom of the 7th, but this will just give me an opportunity to highlight St. Louis' Adam Wainright who pitched it.

He came in blazing, striking out Nick Swisher on a sharp curve. He looked to be 'on' tonight from what I could see. John Buck hit a deep fly that went off Holliday's glove in left - probably should have been caught. I wondered if this was going to come back to bite the NL. Kinsler next, walks, bringing up Vernon Wells. Oh boy . . . .

Wells grounds slowly to short and Kinsler is forced at second.

Torii Hunter strikes out, and that's all she wrote. Good job out of Wainright.

NL 3, AL 1

7th Inning

With one out in the 7th, the National League gets something going. Scott Rolen, former Cardinal, singles to center. He's followed by current Cardinal Matt Holliday, obtained largely because LaRussa got rid of Rolen, who singles to center and Rolen manages to get to third. Chris Young delivers a pop out, bringing Marlon Byrd to the plate.

Yes, the fate of the National League in the hands of a Cub.

But he walks! The bases are loaded for McCann who scorches a bases-clearing double into right putting the NL up 3-1!

This is a big moment. Not only has the NL been winless since '96, but the last four year the AL has posted come from behind one-run wins. It's been brutal. Maybe the time has come.

NL 3, AL 1

6th Inning

One of the reasons that I'm so far behind the game is that the Pregame entry took so long to write. Too many commercials that didn't last very long and too much time taken on things I didn't really want to write about.

The sixth is pretty uneventful. Adrian Gonzalez' swing reminds me of Keith Hernandez.

I've got TV issues. The picture is going out I think. It's been acting up all weekend. I've only had this one 10 years or so. We used to have 20 and 30 year old TVs just go and go. This one is a Panasonic and is pooped after 10. I'm just glad I didn't pay for it.

AL 1, NL 0

5th Inning

I understand that somebody's giving me grief on Facebook because I'm about three inning behind the game on my Live Blog. All I can say is you can't rush quality.

National League lets a scoring opportunity get by after two hits gave them runners on first and third with one out. The Giant Leprechaun swings and misses a ball outside for the second out and Brian McCann flies to right to end it.

The AL takes advantage when Longoria walks and the Twins Joe Mauer chops one to the pitcher who promptly threw it to Disneyland putting runners at first and third. Robinson Cano hits a sacrifice fly to left and the AL is on the board.

AL 1, NL 0

4th Inning

Pujols had another at bat, but came up empty, striking out.

In the bottom of the fourth, Ryan Braun makes a tremendous diving catch in left. It was the kind of catch that a guy might back off of in an exhibition game. Good for him.


3rd Inning

Milwaukee's Corey Hart, who looks like a giant leprechaun, strikes out in this inning against Andy Pettite.

Yadier Molina, who is struggling offensively this year, rips a single up the middle. Cardinal hitting coach Mark McGwire is no where in sight.


2nd Inning

In the twilight the pitchers have the advantage as the ball is hard to see. So, not much offense.

Evan Longoria of the Rays gets a ringing double to left, but he's stranded. Still no score.


1st Inning

The National League has not won this game since 1996. It would be nice if that changed, but these things go in cycles.

Albert Pujols will hit this inning. He wound up scorching one to right where Ichiro caught up with it.

Bottom of the first a very nice touch having a recording of longtime Yankee Stadium public address announcer Bob Shepherd introduce Derek Jeter. Shepherd passed away over the weekend and Jeter has requested that a recording of Shepherd introducing him be played for the rest of his career. Fox Sports announcer Tim McCarver on the deaths of Steinbrenner and Shepherd, "Rest assured there will be two more monuments added to Monument Park (in Yankee Stadium)."



I fixed my supper during the All Stars Among Us nonsense. I suppose it's nice, but it really interrupts the flow of the game presentation.

I got just a bit frustrated when the All Star players came and showered love on these people. Why? This love was denied to Stan Musial last year in St. Louis. Musial, overshadowed in his career by Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio early on and Willie Mays later, was reduced to ferrying the baseball for President Barak (I've Written Two Autobiographies) Obama for the first pitch. Would have liked to have seen Musial get the attention Williams did in Boston a while back. This clip is from the day Williams died, but has a bit at about 1:38 from that All Star Game. Good for him. Too bad Stan didn't get some.

Very nice with a moment of silence for George Steinbrenner who passed today. Probably the greatest sports owner of all time, at least that's what they are saying. He frustrated those of us who rooted against him because he came out on top so often. But that's the point, right?

And very cool to have Rod Carew throw out the first pitch, which I anticipated. He played in Anaheim from 79-85 or so, after beginning his career in Minnesota. The player who caught the first pitch? Tori Hunter, who began his career in Minnesota and is now playing for Anaheim.

2010 All Star Game Live Blog

Here comes a live blog of baseball's All-Star Game. It's actually going to be quasi-live as I will post during commercials. Who knows how this will go?


One Road Diverged

Monday the second Diverging Diamond interchange in the nation was opened at National Avenue and James River Freeway, also known as Highway 60 right here in Springfield, Mo. The first one, shown in the photo, is located at Kansas Expressway and I-44.

Incidentally, we have a Kansas Avenue here in town but no one is ever confused if someone says, "Take Kansas south to Battlefield." We know it's the expressway that is indicated. And while we're at it, we would know that Battlefield Road is indicated not Battlefield, Mo., nor Wilson's Creek Battlefield, both located just southwest of town.

I didn't go on the new interchange today, though I was in the neighborhood. I was having blood work done at the clinic just about a block away and I had forgotten that the road was open for business after having been closed all weekend. There is the aforementioned clinic, a major hospital, various offices and businesses located near this interchange and traffic used to back up through the lights every evening. The diverging diamond allows unimpeded turns in either direction onto the highway from the street and so relieves a great deal of the back ups. It seems to have worked marvelously on Kansas and I anticipate it will on National, too.


The Next Cardinal Manager

Saturday night I dreamed that Tony LaRussa would resign as Cardinals manager on Monday. That would be all right with me.

I have such conflicted thoughts about LaRussa. There is no denying his successful record while managing St. Louis. And I know many fans would love to have a guy with his record in their teams' dugout. I honestly don't mind the success.

What I don't like is the way he does it and I can't even describe that very well. It seems he plays a lot a station-to-station baseball. He doesn't steal much, doesn't bunt much. Generally doesn't force the action. He just likes to wait for someone to hit a big homer. I like Cardinal home runs as much as anybody, but they don't always come around when you need them to. It just seems a bit like needing a '3' for a large straight in Yahtzee. You can do it, but you probably won't.

Someday LaRussa won't be manager and there is a fair chance the club won't be as successful. Maybe then I will appreciate what he's doing now.


NBA Player Holds Press Conference

The made for TV event orchestrated by LeBron James where he announces who he will play for next season is set to air on ESPN shortly. It is guessed, by many professional guessers, that James will say Miami, though most are hedging their bets.

If you read this blog you know that on this matter I have not hedged. I have been saying Miami and I've been saying it since May. We will know within the hour.

I may be wrong or I may be right. But hedge I have not.


The Caine Mutiny

I finished reading this book a week or so ago. It's one of the best books I've ever read, and I was surprised by it in that regard.

As I posted before, I was familiar with the movie having seen it a half a dozen times or so. I liked it pretty well, the end was always satisfying, but it always felt a little strained. It always seemed that some pieces were missing in the story and that the movie was just trying a bit too hard.

Having read the book, it's obvious that the movie was trying to cover way too much ground and suffered a bit as a result. That's not to say that the movie's no good because it is good and remains a popular film to this day.

The book, on the other hand, is so rich, so well written. I was very struck by what a good writer Herman Wouk (pronounced woke) is. He is a Navy veteran himself and it is clearly evident in his storytelling. I'm sure I wasn't expecting it to be poorly written, but it is so outstanding in my opinion that I can't help comment on it.

You could order one here.

One last thing - as I read the book, the dialogue for Queeg sounded like Bogart and Maryk sounded like Van Johnson and Keefer sounded like Fred MacMurray and Barney Greenwald sound like Jose Ferrar and I think I liked it that way.

It could have been worse.


Cool Images of the Moment

You will want to follow the link and see vintage national parks posters from the 30's. Love the colors, the composition and the fonts.

There are eight or so posters shown at the National Geographic website, but a Google search yielded the images of many more, and sites where you could buy some. It would be nifty to find some items like these in a local shop or flea market. They would look nice in office here at the house.



What Is A Prokhorav?

With the current NBA free agent frenzy going on now, this article about one of the key persons in the drama was interesting to me.

Mikhail Prokhorov is a billionaire from Russia and he now owns the New Jersey Nets, which will soon be the Brooklyn . . . uh, . . . . whoevers. The fact that there will be a team in Brooklyn some day is pretty neat, as far as I am concerned.

I am intrigued by how a person who is as successful as this guy is thinks and what makes him different. I found one of his statements very interesting:

"I don't use a computer. We have too much information and it's really impossible to filter it."

You there, reading the computer! What do you think?

You can read the article here. Language warning applies.

Taste and See

My lovely bride and I were reading a selection from John Piper's Taste and See the other day. One portion was especially good for my soul and I'd like to share it. It's a quote from John Owen.

"The revelation of Christ deserves the severest of our thoughts, the best of our meditations and our utmost diligence in them . . . "

There was more, of course, but this was enough to spur my heart and prick my conscience.


I Might Be Right Again, But Didn't Say So

I told Number One Son and his buddy several weeks ago that I thought the best destination for free agent NBA star LeBron James is the Miami Heat. This was shortly after James came up missing in the two biggest games of his career in the playoffs against the Boston Celtics.

Whether James isn't the star that many tout him to be, or whether the problem was the inadequate help deployed by his club, the Cleveland Cavaliers, is not clear to me. What was plain was James could not win a title by himself. Therefore, I concluded, he should go to a team with a least one other scoring threat, and preferably, with a player who could be the 'Alpha' if James isn't in the mood, or able. I suggested the Miami Heat with Dwyane Wade who clearly is no stranger to taking over ballgames and with Pat (I coach the Contending, you coach the Rebuilding) Riley waiting in the wings to come back to the bench.

Of course, I did not write it here.

And of course, it may come to pass.

We'll know in a few days.


Friday Night

Just finished watching the listless St. Louis Cardinals lose a baseball game to the scrappy Kansas City Royals. KC, which switched managers in mid-May, are roughly a .500 ballclub since the hiring of Ned Yost. Hats off to them. The Cards, on the other hand, continue in enigma mode. They appear to be playing below their ability and manager LaRussa's laidback, station-to-station style doesn't do anything to jumpstart the club.

Pujols does not look right to me - he appears to be lethargic in the field and he looks as lost at the plate as I have ever seen him. He does not appear to be in command like in years past. I don't know if it contract issues or not, but I think something's on his mind.

Hitting coach Mark McGwire comes in for some of the blame for the team not performing well. I think that's fair. I'll be glad to be rid of the LaRussa Gang.

Stepped on the scale this morning (on purpose) and saw a number that was below a number ending in zero that I had been well above for a long time. That's a rather obscure and convoluted way of saying I have dropped to someplace I haven't seen in a while. My lovely bride has switched jobs and is now working for a weight management establishment. I am reaping some benefits and she is losing some weight also. Huzzah!