April 24, 2006
Personal Game Report
The Garcia Actors won this game because they scored more runs than their Garcia Characters. Beneath that truism, the relationship between Peckinpah the field manager managing both competing teams is of some interest. Did he manage fairly and objectively in all cases or did his in game activities, even upon reflection, suggest there might have been some bias in his tactical and strategic management decisions. And if we find such bias, can we conclude that Sam Peckinpah is more realist than romancer? Some will interpret the cosmic baseball game data in connection with other biographical and cinematic data in a novel way. It will ultimately get down to basics...
Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia Game
April 17, 2006
The cosmic baseball ship is out to sea...guided by the complex winds of fortune...
A couple of Personal Cosmic Games are in the making:
The characters from the imagination of Lewis Carroll and the characters from the imagination of L. Frank Baum may meet again (they first met in 1999 Personal Game Report). There is still some procedural wrangling to get through. Apparently two members of the original Alices, Tweedledum and Tweedledee, were in violation of the first game's rules of creation. Those rules stipulated that only characters from Alice in Wonderland (1865) were eligible. The Tweedle twins do not appear in Alice in
Wonderland but first appear in that book's sequel, Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There (1871). Initial indications are that the Alices will be composed only of characters that appear in the sequel but that the Tweedle twins will not be eligible. Twin supporters point out that it was actually Walt Disney's animated adaptation of Alice in Wonderland that created the events leading to the confusion. Tweedledum and Tweedledee appear in the Disney movie (released July 26, 1951.) No game date has been announced yet.
Characters from the Sam Peckinpah film classic Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974) want to play against the actors who actually played them in this dark film. Bennie, Elita, El Jeffe are available and ready to play cosmic baseball with the real life human artists who portrayed their characters. Discussions with Warren Oates, Isela Vega, and Emilio Fernandez, among others, are on going. The film, in the most general sense, is a tale about those disenfranchised from mainstream capitalism. On levels that are more subjective, it probes the human compulsions swirling around vengeance and salvation. Still, others see the film as an allegorical tale about Peckinpah's battles with the Hollywood bureaucracy.
April 10, 2006
Many understand that Major League Baseball (MLB) is steroid hypocritical. Critics argue that MLB cares more about "gate receipts" then it does about the health and well-being of the professionals who play in MLB. The BALCO scandal, Rafael Palmeiro's embarrassing testimony to the United States Congress, and the recent book Game of Shadows make it clear that baseball has a steroid problem. Important baseball statistical records have been set by players who may have violated the sport's steroid drug policy. MLB ignored the issue because steroids, while dangerously beefing up baseball players were also productively beefing up revenue. The home run record setting contest between Major Leaguers Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa was good for MLB's spirit and financial accounts. It is also likely that both McGwire and Sosa were steroid abusers. Other record setters have been accused. Game of Shadows written by two San Francisco Chronicle reporters claims Barry Bonds used steroids, human growth hormone, insulin and other banned substances starting in 1998.
In March 2005, the United States Congress held hearings to investigate steroid use in Major League Baseball. At the time, jokes were made questioning Congress' understanding of national and global priorities. ""Congress is investigating steroid use in baseball. Apparently we've cured cancer and all the other problems of the world so now were starting on this one." (Jay Leno on the Tonight Show.) ""Congress today conducted an under cover investigation of steroids in baseball. Their conclusion -- the Chicago Cubs are just months away from getting nuclear weapons." (Craig Ferguson on the Late Late Show).
Recently, Commissioner Bud Selig appointed a panel to report on the steroid issue in the sport. Selig appointed former United States Senator George Mitchell to head the panel. This choice caused criticism in some quarters. Joe Tore, the respected Yankee field manager, questioned the commissioner's choice of Mitchell. "To me, if you want an impartial person you should appoint someone without a connection to baseball," said the Yankee skipper on April 7, 2006. Mitchell's "connection" to MLB is significant. He is associated with the Boston Red Sox owners as a director on the team's board of directors. The former senator from Maine is also chairman of The Walt Disney Co., whose ESPN division does business with Major League Baseball.
Neither Selig nor Barry Bonds are good for baseball. Some go so far as to say that the institution of Major League Baseball is not good for baseball. The broad cultural appeal of the sport is diminished, as it becomes a sport fondled primarily by nostalgia. MLB'S ethics chairman, former major leaguer Pete Rose, supports punishment of players caught using steroids. "In my case, I broke the rules and I've been suspended 18 years," said Rose who is enduring a lifetime ban from baseball because of his gambling activities.” So, if guys broke the rules the last two years [since the inception of MLB's new drug testing policy], then they have to be handed out some kind of sentence." (Associated Press, March 29, 2006)
The caretakers of MLB would be wise to care more about the fans and the players then their insatiable and selfish pecuniary appetites. The players, well paid and spoiled by a culture lost in the spasm of greed, would be wise to be more passionate about the sport they play and less caught in the illusion of central position.
A question for any wise fans: Your passions have too long been exploited by the captains of greed...When will the seeds of change blow in the wind again?
April 3, 2006
March 19, 2006
Baseball Is Cuba's Pastime
Cuba's field manager, Higinio Velez told reporters, "hosting games in the next [World Baseball Classic] is the maximum ambition that any country that loves baseball could have." Velez thinks that based on the success of this year's inaugural edition the World Baseball Classic, it should be every two years. (The next WBC is scheduled for 2009). Gene Orza, executive vice-president of the land called Major League Players Association (the MLPA is a major sponsor of the event) provides qualified support. "I think Cuba could host games in the next edition, although not the games in the last rounds; but I don't see why it [Cuba] couldn't host the first round games." Orza disagrees that the WBC should be a biennial event stating that the cost to the event's organizers is US$50 million.
The Cuban team beat the virtual all-star Dominican Republic baseball team in a Spring Classic (WBC) semi-final game Saturday afternoon in San Diego, California. Cuba advances to the Finals. Does this mean that Cuba's political ideology is superior to the United States' ideology?
The U.S. baseball team was eliminated before the semi-final round. Commentators have commented frequently how this is about baseball, not about politics, as if that bifurcation was hygienic. "Nationalism" has been aroused at the World Baseball Classic and "nationalism" is a political entity.
it was believed that talented athletes (as well as scientists, teachers,
and janitors) would be motivated by patriotic duty to perform for their country,
Rather than by money. A new socialist basis for the relationships among
players, fans, and the sport would result in a higher caliber play, greater fan
appreciation, and a stronger public identity with sports—in short, a
superior system. ["CUBAN BASEBALL Ideology, Politics, and Market Forces" by Katherine E. Baird, 2003]
Most baseball purists believe that at least a seven-game head-to-head series between Cuba and the United States is the only way to decide which ideology is more potent and right directed.
The history of baseball in Cuba begins in the 1860s. The exact direction of fertilization has been debated. Either well-to-do Cuban students studying in the United States came home from school with bats or baseballs or American sailors introduced the game while docked in Cuba's ports. Or both.
Writing in the September  issue of the Journal of American History; [Lou] Perez, [history professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill]
says that baseball was introduced to Cuba in the 1860s by returning students. The sport was fully embraced by all Cubans, particularly because it became associated with modernity, progress and independence. In the struggle for independence, many Cuban baseball players "put their baseball bats down and picked up the machete," says Perez.
By the time the United States arrived in Cuba in 1898 (during the Spanish-American War), Cubans were already playing baseball. Such was their zeal that, according to Perez, professional Cuban teams regularly beat visiting U.S. teams [Black Issues in Higher Education, April 18, 1996]
As can be expected, there is some conflicting thought about the first game and how the sport arrived in Cuba, but what seems most likely is that at some point in the 1860s, elite Cubans who had attended college in the U.S. began to bring back, along with their university degrees, a new game called baseball. Although in fewer than 15 years the game's popularity grew enough to form a viable (then, shortly thereafter, thriving) professional league ["Studying Baseball -- Havana Style" by Eric Henager, Fall 2002]
Baseball came to Cuba in the 1860's. Brought by Cubans who studied in the United States and American sailors in Cuban ports. It quickly spread through the island and took heart with the Cuban people who were fighting for their independence from Spain.
[History of Baseball in Cuba website]
By the time Cuba achieved independence from Spain in 1898, baseball had been popular on the island nation for nearly 40 years. In 1946, the Havana Cubans joined the Florida International League as an affiliate of MLB's Washington Senators, and thus, Cuba then became a direct participant in U.S. professional baseball. In 1954, the Cubans' owner moved the Havana team to the Triple-A International League, renaming the team the Cuban Sugar Kings. The team was affiliated with the Cincinnati Reds and was so successful that in 1959, it won the minor league World Series. Many Cubans hoped that there would one day be a Cuban MLB
franchise. Those hopes ended with the success of the Cuban revolution in 1959.
And that brings us to the present, as the Cuban national team seems poised to win the first edition of the World Baseball Classic. What remains to be seen is who are the Cubans destined to beat: Team Japan or Team Korea? The answer will be known sometime on March 20.