Warner Done?

Watching Kurt Warner has been a fun ride.

Following that '99 St. Louis Rams team, dubbed 'The Greatest Show on Turf', was an adventure every week as they lit up the scoreboard with Warner at quarterback.

His life's story, stocking shelves at the grocery store, playing arena football, catching on with the Rams, becoming the starter when Trent Green got hurt and winning the Super Bowl, is a tale that defies belief. In fact, it's a good thing it's true, because it's too corny for fiction.

And since St. Louis he's had a great career, a Hall of Fame career, according to some. But the ride may soon be over.

From ESPN.com -

It'll be because it's become nine parts job and one part fun.

"Not the Sundays," he says. "The three hours on Sundays are still fun. But it's the whole week, the whole commitment, the ability to sustain it to your fullest, day in and day out.

"You feel the pressure. You have a game that isn't that great and people are like, 'What's wrong with Warner?' That wears on you. You don't have the joy and the fun and satisfaction of having one of those great games because everybody expects you to have one of those games. You never get to exhale."

Warner still hasn't made the decision and, maybe, he'll return.

But if he doesn't, it's been a great ride.


Mass. Special and Ted Kennedy

I've been following the news coming out of Massachusetts concerning the special election to replace the late Senator Kennedy. In a stunning turn of events the reliably blue Bay State may elect a Republican senator for the first time since the 1950's.

I have had a thought about this race concerning all the reasons it may go Republican Scott Brown's way, but have not seen it reported. Simply it was that the Kennedy dynasty and mystique took up all the oxygen in the room and made it very difficult for opposing views, conservative views, to gain a fair hearing. Now, without that family's presence, other voices are being heard.

This from The Corner seems to support my idea -

I am 42-year-old conservative and have lived in Massachusetts my entire life and this is the first time I feel like my vote matters.

Here, from an email, is another one -

Isn't this awesome? I have been voting since the day I turned 18, I have never been so excited to vote. My heart was pounding while driving to the polls, I was having a Chris Matthews moment. Usually I am the first one at the polls but there was a line. When I was leaving there was an ederly lady getting out of her mini van with Scott Brown signs all over it I gave her thumbs up. She was waving like we where long lost friends. What a day! For the first time in Massachusetts I felt like my vote counted.

That's got to be a great feeling.

Jack The Ripper

Former Cardinal slugger Jack Clark got in the box last week and started ripping the Cards new batting coach, Mark McGwire.

Here's some of what he said from the Post Dispatch -

Clark and McGwire both are scheduled to be at the club's Winter Warm-Up this weekend. Should they meet, Clark said, "I'm not going to say hello. I'm not going to shake his hand. He's a sad excuse for a player in the industry of baseball. Just seeing him in uniform makes me throw up. "He should not be in baseball. He should be banned from baseball more than ever."

Clark had some thoughts on other steroid users and you can guess what they were like -

"All those guys are cheaters —A-Rod (Alex Rodriguez). Fake, phony. Rafael Palmeiro. Fake, a phony.

"(Roger) Clemens, (Barry) Bonds. (Sammy) Sosa. Fakes. Phonies. They don't deserve to be in the Hall of Fame.

"They should all be in the Hall of Shame. They can afford to build it. They've all got so much money. And they could all go there and talk about the next way to rub something on your skin. The whole thing is creepy.

"They're all creeps. All these guys have been liars," Clark said.

I don't find myself too far away from Clark's statements. I think the steroid players are cheaters and should not be honored.

It's no big deal if they aren't enshrined at Cooperstown.


We've recently heard hints of the Big 10 Conference's desire to expand beyond it's 11 schools and add a 12th so the conference could put on a football title game between two divisions. There has been much speculation about which school might be in the mix, with Missouri prominent in the rumors.

This kind of talk is not new and I have long thought, as a Mizzou fan, that moving to the Big 10 would be desirable.

Today I read of a plan that is daring, bold and speculative. From Bill Livingston of the Cleveland Plain Dealer -

The Big Ten, with 11 members, is seriously considering expanding, either to 12 or to an even Bigger 14.

Expansion by one member is a plan driven by television markets. It should focus on Connecticut, and I have reason to believe that is exactly what is happening at Big Ten headquarters in Chicago.

The second expansion plan is bigger in numbers and is driven by Midwestern geography. I believe that is being considered in Chicago, too.

Reasons for UConn -

Luring UConn from the Big East would give the Big Ten a very big footprint in the television market bonanza of the Northeast. Media outlets in the nation's media capital, New York, cover the Huskies. UConn is a presence in the Boston market.

Competitively, adding UConn would have the approximate effect in basketball of adding North Carolina. It would be greater, if you factor in UConn's dominant women's team.

Adding UConn is surprising enough. Get a load of this -

The second plan to grow by three members starts with Missouri. If the Big Ten is going to go west, it would not gain that much from the addition of Missouri alone, in terms of markets. Illinois is already a presence in the St. Louis market, and the TV market in Kansas City in not big enough to be a deal-maker.

The Big Ten, however, would get a big push in national profile if, along with Missouri, it added Nebraska, which is almost back to being Nebraska in football, and Kansas, a premier basketball program.

It seems certain the Big 10 is going to make some move but just what we don't know. It will be fun to watch this story unfold.


It's Not The Market, It's The Response

A new book is on the way called Economics Do Not Lie: A Defense of the Free Market In A Time of Crisis cautions us to not abandon free market policies in times of economic distress.

A blurb from the cover:

During the current crisis, it’s crucial to recall the unprecedented benefits that free markets have brought to global economics. Since the public sector gave ground to market capitalism, beginning in the early 80s, the results have been breathtaking. The opening of economic borders and the promotion of free trade in Europe after 1990 contributed to the reconstruction of Eastern Europe and lifted 800 million people out of poverty across the globe.


Obamacare Is In Trouble

Nationalized healthcare may not be an inevitability and if that is true, it's very good news.

From the Weekly Standard -

Obamacare is in trouble in the House. Passage of whatever compromise health care bill is agreed on by White House, Senate, and House negotiators had been taken for granted in the House – until now.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi finds herself in a precarious position. She cannot afford to lose a single Democratic defector. She’s already missing two of the 220 votes for Obamacare in November. Democrat Robert Wexler resigned two weeks ago and Anh (Joseph) Cao, the lone Republican to vote for Obamacare, is expected by Republican leaders to vote no this time.

That leaves Pelosi with 218 votes. If she loses one more vote, the compromise bill could fail. “I believe there is an opportunity to prevent this bill from becoming law,” House Republican whip Eric Cantor said in a memo last week.

Good For Google

Displaying more backbone than apparently exists in the Oval Office, Google has thrown down the gauntlet in China because of hacking -

In mid-December, we detected a highly sophisticated and targeted attack on our corporate infrastructure originating from China that resulted in the theft of intellectual property from Google. However, it soon became clear that what at first appeared to be solely a security incident--albeit a significant one--was something quite different.

. . . we have evidence to suggest that a primary goal of the attackers was accessing the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists. Based on our investigation to date we believe their attack did not achieve that objective. ...

Google may leave the country over the issue -

We have decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on Google.cn, and so over the next few weeks we will be discussing with the Chinese government the basis on which we could operate an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all. We recognize that this may well mean having to shut down Google.cn, and potentially our offices in China.

The article at Powerline concludes this way -

Not much to say about this except good for Google. Also, it's a reminder that the Chinese government continues to pursue its interests, however illegitimate they may be, with a seriousness that we seem increasingly unable to imagine, let alone match.

Is the Obama administration paying attention?

How To Help Haiti

The blog at Desiring God offers a post which lists some charities that are bringing aid to the victims of the earthquake in Haiti.

If you wish to help and don't yet have an outlet for doing so, you might start with this list on the blog at DG.

More on McGwire - Great . . .

The season has not even come close to starting, but we already have an idea about what a circus it may be in St. Louis.

More commentary today from Christine Brennan at USAToday where she compares Pete Rose's cheating to that of the steroids users, specifically Mark McGwire. I can see her point and can agree, as long as we say this means banishment for all, not reinstatement for Rose.

And to illustrate her point, she mentions this which I had not known -

Then-Commissioner Fay Vincent deemed steroids illegal in 1991 when he sent every team a memo saying all illegal drug use was "strictly prohibited" by law, "cannot be condoned or tolerated" and could result in discipline or expulsion.

Had the new "commissioner" Bud Selig simply followed through on this memo and established severe penalties similar to the Olympics and other international sports, we probably wouldn't be having this debate now. A debate that seems never to go away.

Brennan observes what I had noticed about McGwire claim that the 'roids didn't help his performance -

. . . (McGwire's) line of reasoning goes further, saying that the drugs he took didn't help him hit all those home runs, including the then-record 70 in 1998, the season of McGwire-Sosa. At about this point in the conversation, we have to figure McGwire has become a laughingstock to just about everyone but close family members. And Selig.

That's the real shame. Cardinals fans should be talking about the signings of Matt Holliday and Brad Penny and finding a third baseman. Instead we get to go through the season with the steroid cloud hanging over us.

Because Tony LaRussa, Super Genius, wanted him on the club.



Make Plans, Not Resolutions

I don't know where you are at, of course, but for me, this was timely:

“First, God is central to plans and motives. God is not first on a priority list, but rather central to all areas of life.”

Said another way, God is not first among equals (the rest of the list), but the star around which all things move, their orbit ordered by that star.

The article from The Resurgence.

The Antikythera Device

The Weekly Standard with a story about an amazing device, invented 150 years before Christ, that was at least an astronomical time-keeping device.

"Using nothing but an ingenious system of gears, the mechanism could be used to predict the month, day and hour of an eclipse, and even accounted for leap years. It could also predict the positions of the sun and moon against the zodiac, and has a gear train that turns a black and white stone to show the moon's phase on a given date. It is possible that it could also show the astronomical positions of the planets known to the ancients: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn."

I just hope we don't find out that this machine can't predict anything after December 21, 2012 . . .

Once More With Feeling

Jack is back starting Sunday night.

I don't usually have appointment television, but for me, '24' qualifies. The 2-hour premier is Sunday night at 7 Central Standard, followed by two more hours Monday night.

The over/under on how many times I'll say, "Oh my gosh!" or, "Are you kidding me?" during those four hours is 3.

Here's the star from an article in the Toronto Sun:

“There have to be some advantages, though, to playing Jack Bauer for so long and having people recognize you as such.

“I’ve always been shocked that people who I’m flying with actually say, ‘Oh, I feel safer on the plane,’ ” (Kiefer) Sutherland said.“I’m thinking, ‘You must not watch the show because everybody around me gets killed.’ ”

Watch Massachusetts Special Election

From the Boston Globe:

When Ted Kennedy died five months ago, who would have guessed that the contest to replace him would be anything but a slam-dunk for the Democrats? Yet there was no slam-dunk on that stage last night (during the debate), and the race certainly doesn’t feel like a slam-dunk now.

“It’s not the ‘Kennedy Seat,’ ’’ (Scott) Brown (R) has been reminding (Democrat Martha) Coakley lately. “It’s the people’s seat.’’ Amazing thing is, he could be right.

Brown is within 2 points today according to Scott Rasmussen, one of the best pollsters going in terms of predicting a result.

This is potentially a game-changing election if the Republican wins the Senate seat of Ted Kennedy. Or, perhaps more correct, another indicator of how the game is already changing.

Stay Out Of The Basement

James Lileks reminices about a boyhood pet:

"How the hamster got out, I don’t know, but it’s a lesson; he had all the food he wanted, dry aromatic bedding, a wheel, liquid, and warmth, but he wanted freedom. So he squeezed through the bars somehow and died behind a fridge in the basement, like a junkie."

I never had a hamster, but I had a teddy bear that 'died' in the basement, but he wasn't a junkie.

The Door Opens A Bit UPDATED

Record-setting home run hitter Mark McGwire, he of the stone face, finally let the mask slip just a bit yesterday. (How's that for mixing metaphors?)

He finally got around to saying what most observers have suspected all along - that he used steroids at various times during his playing career.

We are still on the front end of this story, so what the fallout will be, time will tell. I think he's made a decent start.


Jayson Stark at ESPN asks what I was thinking,

"Does he really understand what he did to them?

I don't think he does. I don't think he gets it. He certainly gave us very little reason Monday to think he gets that part of this equation. Unfortunately for him, it's the most important part of all.

Can he really believe that the steroids he took had nothing to do with those 70 home run trots he made that summer? Wow."

McGwire's admissions were not terribly revealing and some think, like Stark, there are more questions to ask. Ken Rosenthal of Fox was even harder on him -

"To hear McGwire tell it, his evolution into the most prolific slugger in history was a perfect storm of natural forces. God-given ability. Hard work. The shortening of his swing. A greater understanding of hitting as he grew older.

Costas repeatedly gave McGwire the opportunity to concede that steroids helped him hit home runs faster and farther than any player in history. But McGwire never wavered, insisting “absolutely” that he could have been the same hitter without the drugs."

McGwire is Tony LaRussa's guy and one of these days, Tony's going to get chippy with people for asking all the questions.

And the Cardinals were trying to AVOID distractions.


It's Probably Hard To Fold, Too

From Fox News:

"A rarely seen 400-year-old map that identified Florida as "the Land of Flowers" and put China at the center of the world went on display Tuesday at the Library of Congress.

The map created by Matteo Ricci was the first in Chinese to show the Americas. Ricci, a Jesuit missionary from Italy, was among the first Westerners to live in what is now Beijing in the early 1600s. Known for introducing Western science to China, Ricci created the map in 1602 at the request of Emperor Wanli."

The article presents a very nice image of the map.

My son-in-law has been looking for maps for a room in his house. I don't think this one's available.

New Seahawk in Seattle

Pete Carroll, a very successful college football coach, will take over the Seahawks as head coach. Carroll has had previous NFL experience with mixed results.

I'm hopeful the Seahawks are on the road to recovery now. They have floundered for the past two years. It was unclear to me that they were headed the right direction after Mike Holmgren left.


Random Baseball Thoughts. And Football.

I said it was random.

All kinds of stuff going on that are interesting in the last 72 hours or so.

Matt Holliday was retained by the St. Louis Cardinals after testing the free agent market. Keeping him in the fold was huge for the Cards. It is huge because he offers good protection in the lineup for Albert Pujols and relieves some of the pressure off Ryan Ludwick. Keeping him allows the Cards to try a kid at third, David Freese, who won't be as pressured to deliver right away.

The addition of Brad Penny to the rotation deepens an already pretty good staff that may just need a bit of bullpen help to be well rounded. Would like to see John Smoltz stick around for another year.

St. Louis looks like a good bet to defend it's Division title.

Andre Dawson was elected to Baseball's Hall of Fame. Not much to say other than 'Hawk' is probably a worthy selection. He was, for nearly a decade, as good a player in the game as you could ask for. He did everything well and you have to wonder what he might have been with healthy knees.

Randy Johnson called it a day by announcing his retirement from baseball. Is he the greatest left-handed pitcher ever? Some think so. Five years from now we should be talking about his Hall of Fame selection.

Mike Shanahan goes to Washington to coach the Redskins. This is interesting on many levels. First, Shanahan was very successful in Denver for many years but there is a school of thought that coaches are less effective as they age. Second, the owner of the Redskins is a meddler who WILL NOT let his football people alone to run the team. And the coach he just hired is extremely hands on and desires control. They are making nice right now, but stay tuned. Third, the Redskins are a franchise that matters. The Yankees and Red Sox matter. The Lakers and Celtics matter. The Cowboys and Patriots matter. So do the Redskins and it's irrelevant if you are a fan of them or not. What happens with the Redskins will be watched closely.

And Charlie Weis to Kansas City? Very cool. I'm not a Chiefs fan, never have been, except when I was. For two years KC had Joe Montana and I liked them then. I was living in Ft. Worth at the time and it was nice to follow someone besides the Cowboys.

I like this Weis deal and despite his mediocre run as a head coach at Notre Dame, he has a track record of success as an offensive coordinator in the NFL. I like this move by Scott Pioli a lot.

I'm reading Cal Ripken Jr.'s autobiography which I got at Christmas. There is a lot that goes into making a career in major league baseball and Ripken's book lets us in on it. It's not splashy, but neither is the author. The book has his personality - it gets the job done.


Some Thoughts On John 11

I'm reading in John right now and saw something in Chapter 11 that caused me to take note. This is after Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead. This miracle on top of others precipitated a meeting of the Council. From the English Standard Version (ESV):

45 Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him, 46 but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47 So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the Council and said, “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” 49 But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. 50 Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” 51 He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, 52 and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. 53 So from that day on they made plans to put him to death.

What an interesting passage. A couple of items stand out to me:

1. Caiaphas' remark about "one man (dying) for the people". It seems to me that John is intending a double meaning here and that is just what the editors of the ESV Study Bible seem to think. "With a typical Johannine double meaning Caiaphas's pronouncement anticipates Jesus' substitutionary atonement."

2. A clear statement concerning God's intention to make a nation out of all the nations by bringing in Gentiles who would have faith in Jesus. It had not happened at this point, but John is anticipating it.

Good stuff.