Archive for October, 2012

I HATE YOU, SANDY

October 30, 2012

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Photo by Maura Grogan Redy, Avon-By-The-Sea, N.J.

The only Sandy’s I have known in my life are intelligent, good-hearted women – like Sandy Howson, or Sandy Conti Mitchell. Neither of them has the attitude or gall of you, Hurricane Sandy. Just when we thought we’d waltz uneventfully through the hurricane season, you stepped in, unmercifully. It’s kind of insulting to give you a human name, especially one so aligned with decent people. And lest you think I’m having fun here, I better set the record straight — I’m dead serious. I hate you, Sandy.

Sandy smacked our friends to the south and teased us here in Fredericksburg before heading north and inland to show off her arrogant power and thoughtless disregard for human life, property, and nature’s bounty. Far worse than some obnoxious party crasher, Sandy killed people, disrupted millions of homes, destroyed countless beaches, sucked away billions of dollars in potential tourism revenues, and wreaked general havoc for nearly a quarter of the nation’s population.

My home state of New Jersey is devastated. My niece, Maura Redy, in Avon-By-The-Sea, reported on facebook the day after Sandy, simply, “Our little town (with an iconic frown face).” New York City is besieged by the volume of task ahead in the aftermath of this b#*@. Subway tunnels, buildings, and the lower Manhattan electric grid were all flipped off by this Sandy. NICU babies had to be transported in the middle of the stormy night to other hospitals. A surge of house fires destroyed part of the Rockaway community dear to my brother-in-law Jim Corry, who grew up guarding its beaches as a young Irish lad.

Friends and family in every coastal state north of us reported either relief or horror at what they saw had happened in their communities. Here in Fredericksburg, we can only be thankful that it wasn’t worse. The damages were minimal here; the power outages confined and brief. We are hopeful that the homeless all made it to safe harbor. But when we think outside of our Burg, there is cause to pause and pray for the victims of this nasty, gargantuan beast inaccurately named Sandy.

What may be a countless number of victims in terms of fears and actual losses is too haunting to grasp. Billions upon billions of dollars in damages and potential losses now stare the Mid-Atlantic States squarely in the face. To recover will require gritty leadership at every level. In the wake of Sandy, we are tempted to equate her wrath with that of 9-11.  She, being a storm, is exempt from the negative human attribute of evil (but are We not evil if we fail to come to grips with our human role in climate change?).  Yet, our recovery from her will require the same commitment shown when we countered the evil of terrorism on that sunny September day in 2001.

But we will. As New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie both said, “We will. We always do.” We always stand strong and recover. We, as a nation, always come back. Sometimes Uncle Sam may feel like Rocky Balboa, absorbing punch after bloody punch before knocking out his opponent, but in the end, he gets the job done.

We can do our part in all the usual ways. We know the drill. And we all can pray. It’s our way of doing things. And it works. November is an odd month to be lamenting loss, so we need to turn it around, get out and vote on Election Day – for those who still can; gather at your local Veteran’s Memorial on Nov. 11 or 12 to salute our fallen; and, above all, give thanks for our blessings, our friends, our families, and for those brave people up the coast from us.

Happy Thanksgiving. Be safe. Be kind. Be giving.

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Wild about the wild card?

October 9, 2012

Prior to adding the second Wild Card to each league’s post-season, there was sometimes more incentive to finish as the Wild Card rather than win your Division; or, at least settle for second with an “Oh, well” attitude.  It all depended on what the post-season match-ups would be, and the system rewarded a team that did not win its division by putting them on par with the three division winners to start the playoffs.

Yes, the Wild Card team would have to face, theoretically speaking, the best of the three other post season teams in its league, but that’s just on paper.  Everyone who understands the super-marathon that is the MLB season knows that whoever is hot and healthy heading into the playoffs has an upper hand, especially when it comes to pitching (which is what wins championships).

One journalist proffered that the Wild Card Rangers would have probably won a best of three playoff series against the Wild Card Orioles (based on their head-to-head season match-up, won by Texas 5 games to 2) from April to August.  But that was before Texas swooned and Baltimore valiantly chased the Yankees down to the wire for the Division title, coming up two games short but gaining oh so much pressure-play experience.  Baltimo’ had the Mo at that point.  The Rangers had lots of questions.  The Orioles answered those questions and maintained their momentum by winning that one-game October play-in.

This year’s divisional format does have a flaw in sending the higher seeds on the road to start the five-game series.  A 2 home – 2 away – 1 home format is more deserved for the divisional winners, but MLB doesn’t like the extra travel day and prolonging of the post season.

While I’m at it, here are three other points to improve MLB: the All-Star game should be about seeing the mid-term’s best players (and the occasional swan song veteran, like Chipper Jones this year) on the same field; maybe even have celebrity guest managers for both sides.  The outcome should not determine home field advantage for the World Series — that just introduces a lot of ugly possibilities on which players play or don’t play, and for how many innings, in the All-Star game.

The World Series home field advantage should be determined by which league’s representative won the previous year’s World Series, making this year’s team victory a victory for its entire league going into the following year’s World Series.

As for choosing a team to root for, consider this: if you want good odds, choose the Yankees, who have won nearly 25% of all World Series ever played! If you want to honor an individual player, chose the Detroit Tigers, whose Miguel Cabrera became the first player to win baseball’s coveted Triple Crown (league leader in batting average, home runs, and runs batted in) since 1967.  But if you like the hard work-brings-success story, go with the Washington Nationals, who went from empty seats to Natitude and MLB’s best record in just eight seasons.

My pick: Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, and their Bronx Bombers one more time.