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February 2017
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February 19, 2017 [LINK / comment]

Spring training has begun!

Well, here it's been three months since my last baseball blog post, and spring training is already upon us. Where the heck does the time go? Obviously, my priorities will have to change very quickly. As one example of that, I will attend a Washington Nationals spring training game for the first time ever, this coming March 7. It's against the Red Sox, in the Nationals' brand-new ballpark home in West Palm Beach, Florida. (Not far from Mar-A-Lago, by the way!) So here's just a few quick notes about things I have been meaning to comment upon:

Bagwell, Raines, Pudge to enter Hall of Fame

A few weeks ago, the 2017 Baseball Hall of Fame inductees were announced: Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, and Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez. They will be formally inducted into the Hall of Fame next July. See

I saw Pudge play with the Nats three times, but never got a good photo.

Pudge, Nats dugout Aug 13, 2010

"Pudge" Rodriguez (#7) in the Nationals dugout, Aug 13, 2010

Pudge, Nats celebrate 4 July 2011

"Pudge" Rodriguez (#7) and the rest of the Nationals celebrate their win on July 4, 2011.

Nationals make modest acquisitions

The Washington Nationals hope for a better new year, but thus far they have failed to land a first-class closing pitcher. The biggest acquisition was center fielder Adam Eaton, in a trade with the White Sox. That means rookie phenom Trea Turner will return to his "natural" position at shortstop, where he will hopefully thrive. Also, former San Diego Padres catcher Derek Norris will replace Wilson Ramos behind the plate. We'll see how that goes.

One cause for worry is that Max Scherzer has not fully recovered from a broken ring finger in his throwing hand. We didn't even know about this until several weeks after the 2016 season. Hopefully he will be ready to pitch by the end of April.

If Bryce Harper returns to form, Daniel Murphy and Trea Turner hit as well as they did last year, and if Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth play like their old selves, the Nats should be in good position to repeat as NL East Division champs this year. But that's a lot of if's.

One of the big "misses" by Nats GM Mike Rizzo was Aroldis Chapman. After a brief, tumultuous stint with the world champion Chicago Cubs (!), Aroldis Chapman is going back to the New York Yankees.

News about ballparks, etc.

Thanks to Jonathan Karberg for bringing to my attention the National Hockey League's annual Winter Classic, which was played at Busch Stadium (III) on January 2, as the St. Louis Blues defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 4-1. To mark that special event, I made a new hockey version diagram of that stadium.

As of November 1, U.S. Cellular Field was renamed "Guaranteed Rate Field," under a naming rights agreement that the White Sox announced last August. On November 9 Football Many thanks to Al Kara for sending a batch of photos of that game; some will be posted on that page soon. Northern Illinois Huskies battled the Toledo Rockets

Guaranteed Rate Park football

Newly-renamed "Guaranteed Rate Park" during the November 9 football game. Note how the bench-style bleachers in left-center field differ from the other seats. Photo courtesy of Al Kara.

Belated obituary

Among the many things I neglected to get done last year was paying respect to a long-time fan of this web site who is no longer with us: Frank Joseph Trimborn, 71 passed away in Houston, Texas on June 7, 2016. See the obituary at Rest in peace, Frank.

Another blog hiatus

My apologies for the length of time since my last blog post. I will resume blogging and updating diagrams after I return from Latin America and Florida in about three weeks.

February 19, 2017 [LINK / comment]

Just a (music) blog before I go...

As I prepare to head for the Southern Hemisphere (see the February 15 section below), I thought it would be appropriate to invoke a nice Crosby, Stills, and Nash song that I have not yet learned: "Just a Song Before I Go." Here's a quick summary of the songs I have played at Open Mic Night (held at Queen City Brewing and formerly hosted by the now-disbanded Staunton Music Guild) since the beginning of this year:

January 4:

January 11:

January 18:

On the eve of the presidential inauguration, my set list was inspired in part by the troubling times our nation is currently in. The audience was small but we still had a rockin' good time.

February 1:

Once again, my selection of songs was motivated by contemporary world events.

Andrew at Queen City

Yours truly, playing "Come Together" at Queen City Brewing. (Screen grab from the video taken by Jacqueline.)

February 8:

February 15:

The themes were Valentine's Day and my impending visit to South America, which is the subject of the wacky song "Southern Cross." For some reason, I kind of messed up on "Eight Miles High," but otherwise the songs went pretty well. You never know.

The Music page has been updated accordingly. Whew!

February 19, 2017 [LINK / comment]

Trump's first month: worse than expected

I'm one of those who is just too stunned to make a serious attempt at understanding what's going on with this new administration. I would like to think that my fears about President Trump's harsh and aggressive style of leadership were misplaced, but thus far he is governing the same way he campaigned. It validates my frequent warnings in the past about the dangers of the Republican Party flirting with populist politics, but it's probably too late to turn back the clock now.

First week: Seven days of mayhem *

President Trump's inaugural address four Fridays ago left little doubt that he was dead serious about fulfilling his myriad campaign promises. Aside from minor directives, he took the weekend off and then got to business on Monday. By the end of that week, the Democrats were in an uproar.

When Acting Attorney General was fired for having defied the President's executive order, the parallel with the October 1973 "Saturday night massacre" was obvious. But was the parallel a close one?

Trump wasted no time in fulfilling one of his campaign promises, of building a bigger wall with Mexico. To me, that is tragic and will probably have terrible consequences for our relations with that country and with the rest of Latin America for years to come.

U.S. - Mexican border fence in Douglas pan

Panoramic view of the U.S. - Mexican border fence in Douglas, Arizona. Click on the image to see it full size.

Weeks 2 - 4: more mayhem

Things only got worse after that, as Trump's National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was forced to resign after it was learned that he was discussing the economic sanctions imposed by then-President Obama in late December. I disagreed with that policy move, but Flynn's actions were inexcusable and downright subversive.

Trump's continued nice words about Vladimir Putin and disparagement of our European allies in NATO are further cause for alarm. He sent Vice President Mike Pence to the security summit in Munich, where he tried to reassure everyone of America's commitment to collective security. I would blame them for feeling uneasy, however.

And finally, Trump's most recent tirade against the press, calling them an "enemy" of the American people, is deeply disturbing. Sen. John McCain was right to call Trump out on that, noting that such words are often the first step in the establishment of a dictatorship.

What a crazy world we live in. I'll be spending the next couple weeks in Latin America, and it will be interesting to get those folks' perspective on what has been happening here in the U.S.A.

* Yes, that is a not-too-subtle reference to a movie from the early 1960s...

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