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Monday, October 15, 2018

OTP 2018 October 15: The shift in focus from sport to politics

Since I’m hinting at it, here’s my shameless plug: if you can sit through four hours of football and its stoppage time, you can’t justify calling baseball boring. October belongs to America’s pastime. I feel that this whole landscape will look different a decade from now, with football at the lower half of the totem pole.

My opinion isn’t entirely biased. This issue with politics bleeding into the discussion is a serious crutch for an otherwise praised NFL, and until that’s no longer a factor, people are going to shift away. The NBA waters are nice these days too, I’m hearing.

Mellow Mouse, Benevolent Space Tyrant Posted: October 15, 2018 at 08:26 AM | 973 comment(s)
  Beats: off topic, politics

Monday, October 08, 2018

OTP 2018 October 8: Hugh Jackman’s ‘The Front Runner’ Confronts The Political Conundrum Of Our Time

The picture drops us into the thick of the 1984 campaign right as Hart (a low-key and weather Jackman, oddly eschewing his usual star charisma) conceding the nomination to Walter Mondale. As you know, Mondale got slaughtered by Ronald Regan in the general election, losing all but one state in the electoral college (despite still winning 41% of the popular vote). So, four years later, Hart is back in the thick of it, as he argues that the failed 1984 campaign was partially to introduce himself on the national stage for the next time anyway. And this time out, he quickly becomes the front runner for the nomination and the general election.

 

Mellow Mouse, Benevolent Space Tyrant Posted: October 08, 2018 at 09:00 AM | 1559 comment(s)
  Beats: movie, off topic, politics

Monday, October 01, 2018

OTP 2018 October 1: Angela Birdsong says Ken Hagan puts baseball over people

There have not been any financing decisions made on how to pay for what could be a $900 million stadium, but the Tampa Bay Rays in their quest to build a new stadium in Ybor City have requested public funds.

Hagan has led the charge for several years to bring Major League Baseball to Tampa as the Rays continued to struggle with low attendance at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg. He’s worked both privately and publicly to identify a stadium location and woo the team to Hillsborough County.

Mellow Mouse, Benevolent Space Tyrant Posted: October 01, 2018 at 09:32 AM | 2000 comment(s)
  Beats: off topic, politics

Monday, September 24, 2018

OTP 2018 September 24: Baseball and the presidency

He tells us that Theodore Roosevelt, for all his heroics and man of action persona, detested baseball. For TR, the game was too slow, too staid, too devoid of the rough and tumble he loved – even though as a good pol he sang its praises as it grew in popularity.

His daughter, Alice Roosevelt Longworth: “Father and all of us regard[ed] baseball as a mollycoddle game. Tennis, football, lacrosse, boxing, polo, yes. They are violent, which appealed to us. But baseball? Father wouldn’t watch it, not even at Harvard!”

Mellow Mouse, Benevolent Space Tyrant Posted: September 24, 2018 at 08:48 AM | 3291 comment(s)
  Beats: off topic, politics

Monday, September 17, 2018

OTP 2018 September 17: How Brett Kavanaugh explains his baseball ticket debt

Kavanaugh described the baseball tickets as part of a group purchase divided amongst friends and avid Washington Nationals fans. Kavanaugh estimated he has attended “a couple hundred games” over the period of 2005 through 2017, when he purchased four season tickets, and also playoff ticket packages for the four years the Nationals reached the National League playoffs.

“I have attended all 11 Nationals home playoff games in their history,” Kavanaugh noted in his answers. “(We are 3-8 in those games.)”
His rationale for the tickets: “I am a huge sports fan.”

Beyond his baseball fandom, Kavanaugh noted in response to questions that has “not had gambling debts or participated in ‘fantasy’ leagues.”

 

Mellow Mouse, Benevolent Space Tyrant Posted: September 17, 2018 at 09:05 AM | 2479 comment(s)
  Beats: nationals, off topic, politics, washington

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

OTP 2018 September 10: Former executive Neil McMillan reflects on a long career in baseball, politics and mining

Neil McMillan never made it to the big league, but that hasn’t stopped the former politician, financier and mining executive from blaming his success on the time he spent on the pitcher’s mound all those years ago.

“The real difference in my career … has been a function of my attitude, and it starts out as a willingness or a drive to risk failure,” said McMillan, who recently retired from his last job as chairman of the uranium miner Cameco Corp.

Mellow Mouse, Benevolent Space Tyrant Posted: September 11, 2018 at 08:06 AM | 1379 comment(s)
  Beats: canada, off topic, politics

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Legendary baseball broadcaster gripes about LeBron James wading in political waters

““Well, I used to watch LeBron but no more,” Harrelson said.”

Legendary? 

Jeepers, stick around long enough, and you’re ‘legendary’.

Lest we forget Posted: September 05, 2018 at 08:26 AM | 21 comment(s)
  Beats: hawk harrelson, lebron james, politics, white sox

OTP 2018 September 4: Candidate for governor pitches politics at Jacksonville baseball game

The Democratic candidate for governor spent his Labor Day in Jacksonville and attended a Jumbo Shrimp game at the baseball grounds.

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum called for his Republican opponent, Ron DeSantis, to have a more civil campaign, but New4Jax political analyst Rick Mullaney doesn’t think the political attacks will slow down.

 

Mellow Mouse, Benevolent Space Tyrant Posted: September 05, 2018 at 08:26 AM | 1496 comment(s)
  Beats: off topic, politics

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

OTP 2018 August 27: Pitching politics

George Washington was known to throw a ball—for hours, reported one soldier under his command—with his aide-de-camp during the Revolutionary War. Abraham Lincoln would join baseball games on the lawn of Blair House, which still stands across Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House. “I remember how vividly he ran, how long were his strides, how far his coattails stuck out behind,” the home’s owner, Francis Preston Blair, recalled in a letter to his grandson.

The story of baseball in the United States is intertwined with that of the presidency, says Curt Smith, a senior lecturer in English and the author of The Presidents and the Pastime: The History of Baseball and the White House (University of Nebraska Press, 2018). He traces the points of connection from the colonial era to the present, devoting a chapter to each president since William Howard Taft, who in 1910 inaugurated the practice of the president throwing out a ceremonial first pitch.

Mellow Mouse, Benevolent Space Tyrant Posted: August 28, 2018 at 07:27 AM | 1644 comment(s)
  Beats: off topic, politics

Monday, August 20, 2018

OTP 2018 August 20: Sick of divisive summertime politics? Baseball’s thrills offer an escape

First, things starting with the letter “L” come to mind when thinking about this summer.
“The Summer of Lying?” Nah, let’s keep this positive.

It seems like certain politicians and college coaches have been competing in a never-ending race to the bottom of the dishonesty cesspool.
“The Summer of LeBron?” Maybe. But no, LeBron James doesn’t need any more attention.

But his decision to build a new public school for at-risk kids in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, and cover all student costs should be commended by everyone, including the U.S. Secretary of Education and her boss.

Mellow Mouse, Benevolent Space Tyrant Posted: August 20, 2018 at 07:45 AM | 2230 comment(s)
  Beats: off topic, politics

Monday, August 13, 2018

OTP 2018 August 13: ‘Don’t confuse sports with politics,’ Kosovo tells Bosnia

Kosovo’s team was scheduled to play against the Bosnia and Herzegovina side on Thursday, the first day of the tournament which runs until August 16.

However the Kosovo Basketball Federation (FBK) told local media that by late Wednesday it still had not received an answer from Bosnia’s nearest embassy in Skopje, the capital of Macedonia, about the status of the team’s visa applications.

Mellow Mouse, Benevolent Space Tyrant Posted: August 13, 2018 at 08:31 AM | 1897 comment(s)
  Beats: politics

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

OTP 2018 August 7: Book Explores Trump, Taft and Other Presidents Baseball Ties

“William Howard Taft, all 300 pounds of him, was a big act to follow in every sense of the word. Taft was an amateur baseball pitcher in the 1880s. He wanted to became a major league pitcher, but he settled instead to become President, and in fact later became the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court. As Chief Justice, he scheduled his speaking engagements around the country in Major League cities, so that he could give a speech and then go out to a ballgame in the afternoon,” Smith said.

Smith explains that while two of the game’s most famous rituals are associated with our 27th commander-in-chief, he should only receive credit for one.

Mellow Mouse, Benevolent Space Tyrant Posted: August 07, 2018 at 08:13 AM | 1114 comment(s)
  Beats: off topic, politics

Monday, July 30, 2018

OTP 2018 July 30: Now Running for Office, Adam Greenberg. You May Remember His First At-Bat.

Greenberg dug in for the first pitch, slightly bending his knees. It was a 92-mile-an-hour fastball.

“You get three-tenths of a second,” Greenberg said. “The first tenth I’m thinking don’t bail because if it’s a curve I look stupid, and it’s strike one. The second tenth I realized the ball wasn’t breaking. By the third tenth, my only thought was to get out of the way, and the only thing I could do was to turn into the catcher.”

 

Mellow Mouse, Benevolent Space Tyrant Posted: July 30, 2018 at 08:22 AM | 1266 comment(s)
  Beats: beaning, cubs, off topic, politics

Monday, July 23, 2018

OTP 2018 July 23: How sports and American politics made each other

In January 1942, as the United States committed itself fully to World War II, President Franklin Roosevelt decided that baseball, then the national pastime, should sustain civilian morale during the lengthy struggle ahead. He implored its commissioner, Kenesaw Mountain Landis, to make sure the games went on, despite worldwide armed conflict. And so they did. Professional baseball players, Roosevelt argued, “are a definite recreational asset.”

Roosevelt did not extend that consideration to professional football players, whose sport did not register politically. As a result, the National Football League nearly shut its doors during World War II. So many players were called to serve that several franchises had to merge. In fact, the league didn’t take off until it closely associated itself with national politics. For the past half century, the intertwining of American football and politics has sustained both pastimes.

 

Mellow Mouse, Benevolent Space Tyrant Posted: July 23, 2018 at 08:42 AM | 1431 comment(s)
  Beats: football, off topic, politics

Monday, July 16, 2018

OTP 2018 July 16: Why Does President Trump Balk At Attending Baseball Games?

As the World Cup finale plays in my living room, it’s seems like the right time to reflect on “America’s pastime” – baseball – and its curious standing these days.

The sport gets it close-up on Tuesday night, when the Major-League All-Star Game is played in the nation’s capital. President Trump is not expected to be attendance, though he easily could zip over to the festivities upon his return from his meeting with Vladimir Putin.

Mellow Mouse, Benevolent Space Tyrant Posted: July 16, 2018 at 10:24 AM | 1502 comment(s)
  Beats: off topic, politics

Monday, July 09, 2018

OTP 2018 July 9: Why It’s Hard to ‘Stick to Sports’

A quote attributed to the late U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren reads: “I always turn to the sports pages first, which records people’s accomplishments. The front page has nothing but man’s failures.”

But even in Warren’s lifetime, the sports page was full of things that moved outside the realm of sports accomplishments into the political world of page one: Jackie Robinson breaking the baseball color line, Muhammad Ali’s successful fight to overturn his criminal conviction for refusing military service in the Vietnam War, Tommie Smith and John Carlos’ black power salute from the victory stand of the 1968 Summer Olympics, the enactment of Title IX to expand opportunity for girls in sports, and Curt Flood’s lawsuit to break baseball’s reserve clause.

 

Mellow Mouse, Benevolent Space Tyrant Posted: July 09, 2018 at 08:02 AM | 1010 comment(s)
  Beats: off topic, politics

Monday, June 25, 2018

OTP 2018 June 25: Charles Krauthammer’s Love Of Baseball Leaves A Lasting Legacy

In recent days, many of Charles’ admirers had honored his formidable body of work and conservative convictions. I’m here to pay respects to his love of baseball, which made him and the world a happier place.

“If you believe, as do I, that God created baseball as a relief from politics, I herewith offer, as a public service, a column about [Bryce] Harper & friends,” he wrote in an exquisite column for The Washington Post in 2016.

 

Mellow Mouse, Benevolent Space Tyrant Posted: June 25, 2018 at 11:43 AM | 2113 comment(s)
  Beats: politics

Monday, June 18, 2018

OTP 2018 June 18: How Life Imitates the Congressional Baseball Game

“This game is a situation of which, you’re a product of your political success, so if you have a good political year, you have a good recruiting year for this game.” So said former Rep. David Bonior, D-Mich., many years ago about the Congressional Baseball Game and the teams each party gets to field.

Washington is host to the 2018 Major League Baseball All-Star Game, known among fans as the midsummer classic. But Capitol Hill has staged its own midsummer classic every year for more than five decades, the Congressional Baseball Game.

 

Mellow Mouse, Benevolent Space Tyrant Posted: June 18, 2018 at 08:15 AM | 1775 comment(s)
  Beats: off topic, politics

Monday, June 11, 2018

OTP 2018 June 11: Sports, politics conflicted 50 years ago with mourning of RFK’s death

If you think the intersection – and conflict – of sports and politics is something new, well, you haven’t been paying close enough attention to either for a very long time.

Don’t think so? Check out President Trump’s pardon of the controversial African-American heavyweight champion Jack Johnson, who held the title more than 100 years ago. His reign was consumed by the politics of the day. So it is no surprise that the debate over NFL players and the national anthem remains a divisive topic.

Anything that is going to have the powerful symbolism of sports —and the ability to unite, as we have seen right here in Washington during the Capitals’ Stanley Cup playoffs run — is also going to generate enough passion to divide as well, in death as well as life.

That was the case 50 years ago, as Major League Baseball tried to cope with the proper way to mourn the death of New York Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy on June 6, 1968.

 


Monday, June 04, 2018

OTP 2018 June 4: How Dr. Alan Nathan Became Baseball Fans’ Favorite Physicist

Nathan said he expected to simply read the book and share on what he learned, and that would be that. But thanks to a local reporter who heard his initial talk and interviewed him about it for the Sunday paper, Nathan is still sharing what he’s learning almost two decades later. Not long after that initial talk, Nathan had a sabbatical from the University of Illinois, so he decided to spend it studying the physics of baseball more closely. He almost immediately found a fascinating rabbit hole of study that helped change a long-held perception in baseball.

“Grip on the bat, while the ball and bat are in contact with each other, plays no role whatsoever in the collision itself. And that pretty much goes against what you might call conventional wisdom,” Nathan said.

“Not scientific wisdom, but baseball wisdom,” he adds, elaborating that at the moment when the ball strikes the bat, the hitter’s grip doesn’t matter at all. In fact, he could even let go of the bat altogether—at that point of contact—and it would not change how the ball was hit.

 


Tuesday, May 29, 2018

OTP 2018 May 28: Don’t turn down WH invitation: Former Nats manager on Powerhouse Politics podcast

“Baseball is not about politics, it’s just about going out and enjoying the game,” Johnson says of his experience managing a team in the nation’s capital in comparison with managing teams elsewhere, such as the New York Mets, Cincinnati Reds and the Philadelphia Phillies.

Games at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., are often a “who’s who” of the political world, including Supreme Court justices, leading Democratic and Republican congressional leaders and high-profile media figures. Johnson says when they come to the game, they put aside politics.

“You don’t think about politics you just think about baseball,” Johnson says about the unifying nature of professional baseball in the nation’s capital.

 


Monday, May 21, 2018

OTP 2018 May 21: President takes British royalty to a baseball game, May 15, 1991

The 65-year-old queen, dressed in a below-the-knee blue and red dress, black gloves and three strands of pearls, entered the Orioles dugout along the third base line. She formed a receiving line with her husband and the president, clad in a navy blazer, and Barbara Bush. The first lady wore a blue and white floral print dress.

While the VIP guests took their positions designated by their names on 3-by-5 cards, the song “Brown-Eyed Girl” played over the stadium’s public-address system. Their images appeared on the video screen in right-center field.

“I’ve been playing baseball for 10 years, and I’m used to a normal atmosphere,” said Cal Ripken Jr., the Orioles shortstop, after exchanging handshakes. “This is a lot different. There’s a lot of excitement.”


Monday, May 14, 2018

OTP 2018 May 14: Political leadership, fans needed to bring baseball to Portland: Guest opinion

Today I’m not writing to promote the virtues of Major League Baseball or Portland as a baseball city. I’m writing from the perspective of one who worked on the last successful effort to bring a professional sports team to town—the Portland Timbers—and as someone who has worked in state and local politics for nearly 30 years. Few situations are fraught with as much politics as bringing a professional sports team to a community. If you look closely at cities that have experienced these debates, you’ll often find a combustible mix of political, financial and cultural issues that run deep and can linger for years.

 


Sunday, May 06, 2018

OTP 2018 May 7: George F. Will Is the Umpire on Politics and Baseball

I sat down Washington Post columnist and author George F. Will in Austin, Texas, in late March to chat about the current administration and America’s favorite pastime — baseball. We discuss politics in the age of polarization and the future of America.

Baseball is the sport of America’s future, Will argues, as parents stop letting their children play football because of the dangers of lifelong head and body injuries.

 


Monday, April 30, 2018

OTP 2018 Apr 30: Republicans in Congress return to baseball field nearly a year after gunman opened fire

As a light rain trickled down Wednesday, Republican members of Congress returned to a baseball field where a gunman critically wounded teammate Rep. Steve Scalise and shattered their sense of security nearly a year ago.

“Today is an emotional day,’’ said Texas Rep. Joe Barton, manager of the Republican congressional baseball team. “But it’s also a rebirth, a renewal. I’m proud of the team.’‘

On June 14, Republican lawmakers practicing for their annual charity baseball game against Democrats found themselves scrambling to dodge gunfire from a man behind a chain-link fence.

 


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