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January 2004
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January 1, 2004 [LINK]

Happy New Year!

The Edison International utility company just opted out of the $60-mllion 20-year contract it had signed with the Anaheim Angels in 1998. Both parties say there was no animosity... For the time being, the Angels' home field will be called "Angel Stadium of Anaheim." Very strange; why not just call it Anaheim Stadium, as it was called for 32 years?

David Wells just signed a one-year contract with the Padres, who are getting ready to move into Petco Field. The Yankees had made him an offer, but it wasn't enough for him. I was glad when they brought him back for a second stint with the Yanks a couple years ago, since he's quite a morale-boosting character, though sometimes his mouth gets him in trouble. We'll miss him.

RUMOR: According to the Washington Post, Pete Rose supposedly confessed to gambling in his soon-to-be-published autobiography. If so, it's about time. Does this mean he's really sorry, or that getting into the Hall of Fame is more important than salvaging his pride?

Members of the MLB Relocation Committee will visit Monterrey, Mexico on January 7, seriously exploring the possibility of selling the Expos franchise to a Mexican business tycoon. Coincidentally (??), President Bush will be visiting Monterrey for a special "Summit of the Americas," trying to mend frayed relations with our Latin neighbors, on January 12-13.

January 2, 2004 [LINK]

Comerica Park + Tiger Stadium!

While working on the new Comerica Park page, I had an idea that might generate some excitement for Detroit: Why not have the Tigers play a few games every year in their old home, Tiger Stadium? The Indians used to split their home games between two stadiums, and of course the Expos are doing so this year once again. That would be a way to justify the expense of maintaining Tiger Stadium as a kind of museum, which many people want to do anyway (it's crumbling and rusting badly), and it would probably attract a lot of out-of-town fans who are curious about the good old days. Such a promotion might even yield a profit for the franchise...

January 2, 2004 [LINK]'s shady finances

Glenn Reynolds' InstaPundit blog called attention to some research on the finances of by a professional fundraiser named Nathan Hamm. In his blog The Argus (which focuses on Central Asian affairs), Hamm reports that the folks at are abusing their tax-exempt status: seems a lot more like a way to rope money in to their PAC and 527 activities, which are related to promoting and opposing specific candidates for office. As a 501(c)(4), is specifically prohibited from intervening in elections. They are allowed lobby to promote social welfare...

He sent in a query to Move On, but their response didn't provide much information beyond confirming that online donations do get sent to the 501(c)(4) part of the organization. I suppose that wouldn't bother most of the people who donate, but still...

NOTE: This is a "post facto" blog post, taken from the pre-November 2004 archives.

January 5, 2004 [LINK]

U.S. Cellular Field

Details are emerging about the exact nature of the renovations currently taking place in U.S. Cellular Field, and the architects seem to have hit a home run. As explained on the White Sox Web site,

Eight rows and 6,600 seats have been removed from the top of ballpark's upper deck, and the previously sloped canopy-style roof will be replaced by a flat roof, elevated 20 feet above the seating area. The new roof, featuring ornamental ironwork on the facade, will extend over the back 13 rows of the upper deck, leaving just the first eight rows uncovered.

I took a look at some of the photos and artist's renderings, and it's almost everything I could have hoped for. They are leaving the front edge of the upper deck intact, unfortunately, so there will still be ZERO overhang. Neverthless, the reduction in the size of that deck, and the installation of an old fashioned flat roof with structural support beams and a decorative facade (à la Yankee Stadium) represent a quantum leap forward in terms of aesthetic appeal and fan friendliness. Hearty congratulations to the White Sox front office! (Stay tuned for a revised stadium diagram...)

It's official: Pete Rose has 'fessed up to gambling. The careful coordination of the upcoming book publication, the Sports Illustrated article, and the forthcoming interview on ABC all add up to one slick public relations campaign. Will he get a forgiving hug from Dr. Phil?

January 9, 2004 [LINK]

New home for Twins?

The spunky yet cash-poor Minnesota Twins franchise has proposed a new stadium, described on the MLB Web site. It would have 42,000 seats with four levels and a retractable roof. The estimated cost would be $430-$450 million, which is pretty steep for such a modest-sized stadium. Let's hope the hard-working taxpayers of Minnesota can come together and reach a fair deal with Carl Pohlad to keep big league baseball in the North Central region.

January 9, 2004 [LINK]

Howard Dean on religion

Howard Dean "got religion" this week, and many people have noted the political expediency of this shift. Others have joked about the fact that he left the Episcopal Church over a dispute over land to be used for a bicycle path. What really intrigued me was Dean's revealing comments about the religious aspect of the morality of gay lifestyles. He said,

The overwhelming evidence is that there is very significant, substantial gentic component to it. From a religious point of view, if God had thought homosexuality is a sin, he would not have created gay people.

Two observations: First, to me, "thought" implies "opinion," which is a subjective, often malleable mental state that is inherent in beings with finite intelligence. The idea that an omniscient Supreme Being could have an "opinion" about something or other thus seems rather absurd, and trivializes the unchanging and eternal Divine Purpose. Second, if there is indeed an inherited "component" to gayness (as opposed to such a trait being genetically determined), then there must be a learned "component" as well, which implies that there is an element of choice and therefore a moral dimension. Many people have genetically-related behavioral predilections, some of which are regarded as totally harmless (such as left-handedness), and others of which are regarded as sociopathic (such as being prone to violence). The idea that individuals should resist certain compulsions or temptations is at the center of nearly all traditional codes of moral conduct, and because of all the potential dire consequences associated with it, sexuality cannot be divorced from morality. To my way of thinking, there is simply no basis for making a flat-out assertion that homosexual activity is, generally speaking, right or wrong. It depends... By the way, am I the first to wonder if Dean might have had second thoughts on his change of religious affiliation if he had known that Episcopalians in his state would choose a gay bishop? Has the Rev. Gene Robinson endorsed Dean yet?

Wesley Clark seems to have rebounded in the polls lately, perhaps because many Democrats are getting nervous about letting Dean drag the party down to a crushing defeat. I'm not one of those overconfident Republicans who are giddily hoping for a Dean nomination, however. The war on terror could start to go very bad, and Dean (or Clark) might actually win the election. In fact, it's very hard (for me, at least) to pay serious attention to primary campaigns that start so far in advance of the general election campaign. It would sure be nice if the primary campaign remains a real contest at least until March. The presidential nomination process is desperately in need of reform, as the current system tends to favor hardliners who pander to party zealots. Bring back the smoke-filled rooms, I say!

NOTE: This is a "post facto" blog post, taken from the pre-November 2004 archives.

January 11, 2004 [LINK]

Miami Marlins?

Last Thursday, Miami city officials approved a plan to build a new baseball stadium adjacent to the Orange Bowl, which would be thoroughly renovated. The baseball stadium would have 35,000-40,000 seats, with an estimated cost of $375 million. The Marlins have pledged $137 million for the project, but they insist that a movable roof is essential because of the frequent summer monsoon rains in south Florida, so it's not yet a done deal. SOURCE:

January 11, 2004 [LINK]

O'Neill "tattles" on Bush

Former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, famed for his blunt, impolitic style of speaking, has written a book of memoirs in which he criticizes President Bush's detachment from policy making, describing Bush cabinet meetings as "a blind man speaking in a room full of deaf people." A bit overstated perhaps, but such a hands-off managerial approach is a well-known weakness of Bush II. It should be noted, however, that similar criticisms were often voiced of President Reagan, whose two terms in office were -- on the whole -- extremely successful. As reported in today's Washington Post, O'Neill also disclosed that Bush's team was intent on removing Saddam Hussein from the very beginning of his term, several months before 9/11. That's quite probable as well, and indeed that goal was established as official U.S. government policy during the Clinton administration (!) under the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998.

There was a lot of talk about blogs on NBC's "Meet the Press" this morning, especially as they are being used by some of the Democratic presidential candidates. In a roundtable, Tim Russert brought up the accusation that Wesley Clark has been ripping off the style, and even some of the content, of Howard Dean's Web site, which is credited with raking in millions of dollars in campaign donations.

NOTE: This is a "post facto" blog post, taken from the pre-November 2004 archives.

January 12, 2004 [LINK]

Angels Nab Vlad

Vladimir Guerrero just signed a six-year contract with the Anaheim Angels, to the dismay of the Baltimore Orioles, who had offered him a generous package. Apparently Vlad wanted to play in a city where Spanish is spoken more widely. ENCORE!?: The "just-retired" Roger Clemens has apprently been persuaded by ex-Yankee teammate Andy Pettite to join him in playing with the Houston Astros. I don't really hold that against him; anyone who has done as much for the game as he has deserves a "victory lap." As for the semi-contrite Pete Rose, I figure they ought to let him in the Hall of Fame after another 14 years have passed, since that is how long he lied to the public about his gambling problem. In my opinion, his words and actions have disqualified him from ever again holding an official position in Major League Baseball.

January 16, 2004 [LINK]

Same old song & dance

During the MLB owners' meeting in Scottsdale, Arizona, Commissioner Bud Selig commented on the long-delayed relocation of the Expos franchise, saying he hopes "to finalize a 2005 deal as soon as possible." Gosh, I sure hope so, too! The Washington Post story also stated that Mark Ganis, a Chicago sports consultant, said that MLB was using additional prospective baseball cities (such as Monterrey, Mexico) to get more stadium money from the three principal relocation candidates, Washington, Virginia, and Portland. No kidding!? Ominous portent: Orioles' owner Peter Angelos, arch-opponent of baseball anywhere close to Washington, was elected to the MLB Executive Committee.

January 16, 2004 [LINK]

Democratic race heats up

So it's a real horse race, after all! John Kerry and Dick Gephardt have used sharp anti-Dean rhetoric (and pancake-flipping photo-ops) in recent weeks to claw their way near the top of the Iowa polls. Thus, we may have several more weeks of honest-to-goodness campaigning before the Democratic nominee is chosen. In that case, the upcoming primary in Virginia may assume importance for the first time ever. Tuesday's D.C. primary was ignored by most of the candidates, since it was a mere "beauty contest" that didn't affect delegate selection. One of the candidates who did participate in the D.C. race was veteran extremist fear monger Lyndon LaRouche.

NOTE: This is a "post facto" blog post, taken from the pre-November 2004 archives.

January 20, 2004 [LINK]


The temperature outside is in the frigid teens, but spring training is only a month away!!! I recently got myself a great new book, The Yankees: An Authorized History of the New York Yankees, and am compiling data from a library book, The Sports Stadium as a Municipal Investment. (See Sources below.) Also, I've added a new page, Stadium statistics, containing objective data (e.g., capacity, field dimensions) that was formerly part of the quite subjective Stadium rankings page. The type on both pages is now larger, so it should be easier to read.

January 20, 2004 [LINK]

Kerry wins big in Iowa

(After midnight) John Kerry won big time in the Iowa caucuses, trouncing the wily, thin-skinned Howard Dean and poor old Dick Gephardt, who banked everything on this contest. Gephardt's not that old in terms of physical age, but as I've said before, his ideas are just hopelessly out of date. John Edwards' recent upsurge is quite a surprise, and apparently reflects voters' longing for a nice guy. Too bad he's a trial lawyer. (What liability crisis?) Kerry is one of the few Democratic candidates with true presidential timber, but the problem is that he's all too aware of himself, and until recently seemed to regard the presidency as an entitlement to which he was due. Too bad he has too say so many silly things to get the Democratic nomination, which of course shows one of the biggest advantages of being an incumbent.

Five hundred American servicemen and women have now been killed in Iraq, including non-combat deaths. That terrorist bomb outside U.S. headquarters in Baghdad yesterday was one of the worst ones yet, killing over 30 innocent people. Hopefully it will serve to remind Iraqis of the truly despicable nature of the Old Regime. Meanwhile, there are mass protests by Shiites (the long-oppressed majority) who demand early elections so that they can dominate the New Iraq and get revenge on the Sunnis, who were privileged under Saddam. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the father of direct majoritarian democracy, would no doubt approve of such a move, but certainly not James Madison, the father of constitutional pluralism. Not so fast, Ayatollah Sistani! Paul Bremer is right to pursue an incremental, ground-up democratization program, but he may need better political advisers to navigate the tricky waters of reform before most Iraqis (or Americans) lose patience.

NOTE: This is a "post facto" blog post, taken from the pre-November 2004 archives.

January 23, 2004 [LINK]

St. Louis

Construction is proceeding on the new St. Louis baseball stadium, where the Cardinals will begin to play in 2006. The Cardinals' Web site shows that it will overlap with much of the existing structure, which presumably means they will have to tear down the right field side of Busch Stadium during the Cardinals' final year there. What's more, to my astonishment, I noticed a slight oblong shape in the Busch Stadium diagram, and confirmed from the text that it is in fact elliptical, NOT circular as I had always assumed. It's about nine percent longer than it is wide, which explains the long original distance to center field (414 feet) and tight seating configuration at the corners. Those facts just did not jibe with a circular stadium shape, but I was so convinced that the stadium was circular that I wondered whether the actual distances to the corners might be 10-15 feet longer than they are supposed to be. Anyway, that's one more stadium diagram I'll have to revise...

A fan named Joseph H. Johnston let me know that he enjoyed my review of the movie 61* and reminded me what a fine (though overlooked) defensive player Roger Maris was. By coincidence, I recently learned from The Yankees: An Authorized History of the New York Yankees that Maris made the game-saving play in the bottom of the ninth inning in the deciding seventh game of the 1962 World Series in Candlestick Park. By quickly getting the ball hit by Willie Mays back into the infield, he prevented Matty Alou from scoring what would have been the tying won. Yanks 1, Giants 0!!

The Washington Post reports that Major League Baseball turned down a $30 million offer by the Virginia Baseball Club to host all or most of the Expos games in RFK Stadium next year, on a one-year basis without ownership change or any commitment. The fact that such a reasonable (and money-making!) offer can't get serious consideration from MLB officials shows once again how badly the deck is stacked against The Nation's Capital.

January 24, 2004 [LINK]

Democrats race, Bush speaks

ON TO NEW HAMPSHIRE: John Kerry has bounced back as the favorite, as he was widely considered as of a year ago. Meanwhile, the loud and mean Howard Dean has been transformed overnight into an object of pity or derision. What are all those Bush haters going to do now? Overall, I suppose Dean has served a purpose in letting Angry Democrats vent off steam. I could probably live with a President Kerry, Edwards, or Lieberman, but frankly, Dean and Wesley Clark really scare me. NOTE: I'm not a pundit, and I don't play one on TV. My understanding of political science, which is a distinctly minority view, places a low emphasis on predicting future events. (See Chaos theory.) If you want the real inside scope on the Meaning of Iowa, visit Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball Web site. (U.Va.!)

STATE OF THE UNION: For the most part, President Bush played it safe in his annual speech to Congress. He didn't bring up his proposed (very costly) missions to the Moon and Mars, and even talked about ways to cut the burgeoning budget deficit. (About time!) Speaking of which, I was listening to the Democratic candidates squabbling with each other during a debate budget policy the other day, and it was obvious that Karl Rove's strategy of putting the onus for deficit reduction on the Democrats is working -- at least in the short term. One cause for concern was Bush's rather defensive tone with regard to the antiwar movement. It seemed aimed at the Howard Dean crowd, who may be fading out of the picture. At the end of his speech, Bush surprised many people by sharply denouncing steroid doping in baseball. Apparently, his use of the "bully pulpit" for such a peripheral matter reflects the fact that the owners are in a weak bargaining position vis a vis the Players' Association on the issue of drug testing. (I just wish the President would put in a good word for baseball in the D.C. area. That just might prove to be decisive.)

NOTE: This is a "post facto" blog post, taken from the pre-November 2004 archives.

January 31, 2004 [LINK]

Monopoly games

The MLB Players' Association is beginning to suspect collusion among the franchises as an explanation for the flat salary trends on the free agent market this winter. Could be. Indeed, it happened before, in the late 1980s. Or it could be the widespread realization after the near-strike of 18 months ago that baseball fans' patience with astronomic salary hikes for players has worn thin... Meanwhile, the L.A. Dodgers have been purchased by Frank McCourt (a Boston real estate developer), for $430 million. Bud Selig praised the deal, saying, "Having an unresolved ownership situation was, frankly, hurting the franchise." (Why does this seem so ironic to me?)

Old business: In my review of the movie 61* I forgot to mention that some of the digitally retouched scenes of "Yankee Stadium" along the first base side were rather lame. The second deck was far too big, since it was really the second deck of Tiger Stadium, and the third deck was just a carbon copy "pasted" over the top. The result was a frighteningly huge triple-deck image. Finally, thanks to Dave Russell for pointing out some errors in the Oriole Park at Camden Yards page, which I just fixed.

January 31, 2004 [LINK]

Kerry is close to clinching it

The way things stand, it will take a minor miracle for Howard Dean, Wesley Clark, or John Edwards to pull off a big enough victory in Tuesday to stave off the effective confirmation of John Kerry as the Democratic nominee in this Tuesday's elections. Edwards denies contemplating it of course, but he would make a very attractive running mate. The fact that his wife let pass the opportunity to repeat the denial while being interviewed on The Today Show suggests that Edwards may just be thinking along those lines. Given his combat experience in Vietnam, Kerry would be a strong candidate against Bush. As today's Washington Post reports, however, he gets a lot of his funding from special interest lobbyists, in contrast to his reformist pretensions. Furthermore, his elitism would make it hard to mobilize a grass-roots populist challenge to Bush based on pocketbook issues, while his credentials in foreign policy are undermined by his opposition to war against Iraq in 1991. Very few people question the wisdom of that momentous decision any more. To win, Kerry would need a major infusion of charisma and political savvy.

The Bush administration has revised upward its estimate of how much the proposed Medicare prescription drug benefit will cost over the first ten years, from $400 million to $534 million. In my view, any such long-term estimates are nothing more than ballpark guesses. I wish budget debates would focus on single-year numbers, which are much less subject to myriad contingencies. As for this particular proposal, more publically-subsidized insurance will only feed the fires of health care inflation, which is already raging out of control. In political terms, this initiative has been heralded as another stroke of Karl Rove's genius, robbing the Democrats of an issue, but it could very well backfire if the White House doesn't face up to the implications for the deficit. A lot of Republicans have bought into the myth from the Reagan years that "deficits don't matter." Well, it depends. If you're borrowing trillions of dollars to provide the means for a decisive victory in a high-stakes contest such as the Cold War, mortgaging the future might indeed pay off. Few people expect such a clear-cut victory in the "war on terrorism," however. The end result of Bush's fiscal imprudence might be to hasten the rise of China as a rival superpower...

NOTE: This is a "post facto" blog post, taken from the pre-November 2004 archives.

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