Archive for the ‘history’ Category

El Pescadito Returns to Pennsylvania

February 28, 2011

Last week, the Philadelphia Union signed 31 year-old Guatemalan international forward Carlos Ruiz, a.k.a. “El Pescadito” (“the little fish” in Spanish), throwing a confusing curveball to Philadelphia sports fans. My guess is we’ll be hearing the nickname more around here, since the Phillies already have a Central American player named Carlos Ruiz on their roster (he’s their catcher, hails from Panama, and is nicknamed “Chooch,” which I’m guessing we’ll be hearing a lot more around here now as well).

The Philadelphia Union logo.While the Guatemalan, soccer-playing Ruiz has competed all over the world and is well known in his homeland as the country’s all-time leading goal scorer in international competition and is well known among Major League Soccer fans in this country from his days with the L.A. Galaxy and FC Dallas, what people might not know is that he’s played in Pennsylvania before — in central Pa., particularly.

Way back in 2000, when he was a promising 20 year-old playing professionally for Municipal in Guatemala and a member of the country’s U-23 national team, the North American qualifying tournament for the Summer Olympics was held, bizarrely, in Hershey, Pennsylvania, of all places.

Unlike the World Cup, the Olympics are contested by countries’ U-23 teams, rather than the full national teams. I was actually lucky enough to have met Ruiz back then, as each of the colleges and universities near Hershey basically adopted one of the national teams and hosted all of their training sessions. I was in charge of athletic communications for the school that got Guatemala, and I got to work with them quite a bit in coordinating local media coverage.

HersheyPark Stadium

The scene of the 2000 Olympic qualifiers.

That wasn’t an easy task, as the head coach was a little more than slightly paranoid about anyone from the other teams turning on the local TV news and seeing anything that might potentially give away the tiniest detail about their training sessions and game strategies. For the first day or two, they were more like the Brigadoon national team, as they would mysteriously vanish when cameras approached, and then magically reappear when they retreated. Eventually, we got things sorted out.

On the whole, though, it was a great experience, especially since at the time I was still in my first year out of college and was the same age as nearly all of the players on the team. Carlos Ruiz certainly stood out back then, but I never would have guessed that in another two years he would jump from Municipal to the Los Angeles Galaxy and end up as the MLS Most Valuable Player his first year in the league, nor would I have guessed at the time that he would eventually become Guatemala’s all-time leading scorer in international competition.

His signing now is definitely a good pickup for the Union. After an offseason largely spent finding ways to plug up the obvious defensive holes from their inaugural season, bringing in Ruiz fills another big need, which is taking some opposing defensive pressure off Sebastien Le Toux and Danny Mwanga. Even if he isn’t quite at the same level as a goal scorer he was when he played for L.A., he’ll be a helpful presence in relieving pressure. Also, having Le Toux take corner kicks, which seemed kind of strange for much of last year when he was the team’s only reliable scorer, would make more sense now with Ruiz on the field at the same time and Mwanga with a year of pro experience under his belt.

Besides, I’m of the opinion that he still has quite a few productive years left. While he struggled to score in the first half of the 2010-11 Greek Super League season for Aris Thessaloniki, somebody doesn’t score three goals in a handful of Europa League games over that same span by being washed up. Context is certainly going to be key for Ruiz’s scoring opportunities, and potentially having Le Toux and Mwanga on the field at the same time will definitely create opportunities for him.

Why WikiLeaks Matters

December 9, 2010

I’ll preface this by saying that my professional background was in journalism and public relations — specifically in the field of sports. I worked closely with newspaper sports reporters for many years, especially those at our local daily papers. What I’ve seen happen there over the past 10+ years can help greatly in understanding why an organization like WikiLeaks is of vital importance to investigative journalism and with it, the survival of free speech and democracy, no matter what you may think about the documents they’re releasing right now, and also why the current assaults on it are so frightening.

When I graduated from college over 11 years ago and landed my first — and so far only — “real job” handling communications for a collegiate athletics department, few could see it happening at the time, but a combination of technological and economic factors was emerging that had already sent the newspaper industry into a terminal tailspin, one that has only intensified through the years.

At the time, we had three local newspapers. Two were dailies; one ran six days a week in the mornings, while the other ran six days a week in the evenings. Plus, there was a weekly, larger, Sunday paper. It was an unusual arrangement, in that all three newspapers were owned by the same family and operated out of the same building, yet they all competed with one another for stories. Because it has always been a family-owned operation, our local papers weren’t subject to quite as severe monetary pressures as their corporate-owned brethren, but they were heavily buffeted all the same.

Those outside the media business might not know this, but newspapers never made money by selling subscriptions and individual copies. Their revenue principally came from selling advertising space throughout the paper, as well as selling small ads in the classified section.

Classified section revenue began to dry up with the advent and growth of free websites like Craigslist. You can’t underestimate the difference that shift has made in the economic fundamentals of the newspaper industry. To see the extent of the damage, just take a look at the size of the classified section in your local paper today, and then locate a copy of that same newspaper from about 20 years ago, and see how large the classified section is there. Every column inch lost, and there are staggeringly many, is revenue lost.

The other source of revenue, regular advertising, has dried up as more people began getting their news online through a variety of sources, not just (and often not at all), their local paper’s web site, causing subscription rates to decline. A company isn’t willing to pay nearly as much for a print ad if far fewer people are ever going to see it.

The effect of this has been devastating. As the years went by, it became harder and harder for me to get stories from reporters into our local papers as their sports departments’ staffs, as well as the column inches with which they had to work, shrank as a result of less revenue. Plus, as the sports sections slowly got smaller, less original work from their own reporters and columnists appeared in the shrinking space. Regional and national stories were covered by stuff picked up from the wire services increasingly often. In local sports, it was a lot cheaper to cobble together bits and pieces from postgame press releases I’d fax and email in, as well as post on our school’s web site, rather than send a reporter to cover the game.

Things continued to get leaner for the three papers until, finally, a couple of years ago, the morning and evening papers were merged into one. That unified paper was not any larger than the separate morning and evening papers were, by the way. Half of the space devoted to coverage evaporated overnight.

The result of this long decline is that the space devoted to sports coverage in our local papers over the course of an average week today has probably contracted to about a third of what it was ten to fifteen years ago.

If you think what’s happened to our county-wide daily newspapers is bad, you should see what’s happened to our very local, small-town weekly newspaper. Actually, you can’t because it doesn’t exist anymore.

So what the heck does all of this have to do with WikiLeaks? It’s this: if something as popular and generally non-controversial as the newspaper sports section can be so thoroughly decimated, what do you think has happened to investigative reporting and hard news coverage? How often does your local paper send reporters to cover things like every town council, zoning committee, and school board meeting these days? The resources to do those things all too often don’t exist anymore.

It isn’t just small-town papers that have been hit in this way — our largest papers and newsmagazines have all seen significant reductions in staff and space as well. You may think that there are plenty of other news outlets to take up the slack, but that isn’t the case. Television news has never had the capacity for investigative journalism that print media had. Let’s face it: money shots of memoranda don’t make enthralling TV that attracts viewers. Popular news web sites like those of Google, Yahoo, and AOL don’t generate much, if any, content; they mostly aggregate it from — you guessed it — the ever-shrinking newspaper industry. Most bloggers don’t actually contribute any new information, they just provide their opinions on stuff — I know that’s what I do on the rare occasions like this when I’m not fulfilling this space’s usual function of making erudite-sounding fart jokes.

Paradoxically, while the number of news sources has exploded over the last decade, the number of people able to make a living doing actual reporting has diminished substantially. It’s hard to imagine an organization like The Washington Post having the wherewithal and manpower to doggedly pursue a story like Watergate all the way to its conclusion today. You can think whatever you want about the content WikiLeaks is releasing right now; that doesn’t change the fact that, at this moment, they’re just about all that we have left that’s fulfilling the kind of large-scale investigative and whistleblower role that newspapers used play to a much greater degree.

And that is precisely what makes today’s hacktivists and news organizations like WikiLeaks so vital — they are what has so far stepped in to fill the investigative journalism vacuum created by the newspaper industry’s collapse. They’re the ones who are actually providing a platform for those digging up or leaking information previously unavailable to the public, putting it out there, and letting the chips fall where they may. That’s a critically important role in any society that at least fancies itself free.

And that’s what makes the current attacks against WikiLeaks so profoundly disturbing. I know absolutely nothing about Julian Assange’s personal life; for all I know the charges against him stemming from his personal life could very well be perfectly legit. What I do know is that we’ve never seen anything even remotely like the current assault on WikiLeaks’ operational capabilities, coordinated among various governments and corporations to try to shut down servers and cut off the organization’s ability to receive donations from the public.

For all Richard Nixon’s rage at The New York Times for publishing the Pentagon Papers, he never tried to destroy their printing presses, get ink and paper vendors to withhold ink and paper, or get banks to freeze all the paper’s assets and thereby immediately shut it down. Even if he had thought of the latter examples, there hopefully wouldn’t have been a bank, ink supplier, or paper vendor back then that would have gone along with it. As reporting on the Watergate story mounted, nobody in the mainstream media called for the summary execution of Washington Post publisher Katherine Graham. And presuming such things had managed to occur back then, and that the perps had gotten away with it, what kind of world do you think we’d be living in as a result today?

But that’s exactly what’s happening today, and it’s happening without charges, without trial, without convictions, and without much of a chance of any of those things happening, because it appears no actual law has been broken by WikiLeaks’ publication of the documents it has received. WikiLeaks is a news organization, not a terrorist organization. If it becomes classified as latter, then so is every news organization that has ever published anything labeled “secret” or “confidential” — and that’s just about every news organization in existence.

I know that transparency in government and business necessarily has its limitations (for example, I wouldn’t want my income tax returns or bank statements published publicly, nor do I think would anyone else want those things happening to themselves). But that does not change the fact that what is happening to WikiLeaks right now is nothing less than a full-scale assault in broad daylight on journalism and freedom of speech by an open collusion of governments and businesses. It desperately needs to be resisted by more than just a bunch of childish, mask-wearing doofuses who think pwning a credit card’s online brochure for a few minutes constitutes “payback.” Salon.com’s Dan Gilmour explains why better than I ever could:

Media organizations with even half a clue need to recognize what is at stake at this point. It’s more than immediate self-interest, namely their own ability to do their jobs. It’s about the much more important result if they can’t. If journalism can routinely be shut down the way the government wants to do this time, we’ll have thrown out free speech in this lawless frenzy.

. . . I’m deeply ambivalent about some of what WikiLeaks does, and what this affair portends. Governments need to keep some secrets, and laws matter. So does the First Amendment, and right now it’s under an attack that could shred it.

Philadelphia-New York, the USA’s Answer to Millwall-West Ham

October 18, 2010

If there is any place in the United States most likely to spawn legions of angry, bitter, European-style soccer hooligans ripped to the gills on Yuengling and setting fire to stuff just for the hell of it, it’s probably Philadelphia.

— Me, almost three years ago (then, in the comment section to that post, some wag humorously predicted that Philly would someday be the site of the first MLS fan fatality).

The time is right to trot out that blast from the past after yesterday’s final Philadelphia Union home game of the club’s inaugural 2010 Major League Soccer season, which took the form of a 2-1 win over the stupidest soda commercial of all time New York Pink Cows Red Bulls.

The reason it’s fitting to bring up is because of the security measures taken by the Union’s management for that game, which were unprecedented in the entire history of sports in Philadelphia. Here’s the Philadelphia Inquirer:

The roughly 400 New York Red Bulls fans who made the trek to PPL Park on Saturday were herded like cattle into the visitors’ section . . . Once they were in, they were there to stay – surrounded and confined in that area by security for the duration . . . They had their own concession stands, their own restrooms, their own smoking area. “These fans hate each other,” noted one Union security guard.

Right now, Philadelphia and New York probably share the most intense — and ugliest — soccer rivalry in the United States, and probably one of the craziest in all sports in the U.S. (although if I had to guess, I’d say it will probably be superseded by Seattle and Portland next year once the Timbers begin playing in MLS).

How the bad blood between Philly and New York escalated so quickly to the point that the Philadelphia Union felt the need to add extra security and keep the entire contingent of RBNY supporters groups physically separated from the rest of the stadium to such an extent that they’d even have segregated concession stands and bathrooms is an interesting story.

Millwall fans in their natural environment, surrounded by cops in riot gear.

Millwall fans in their natural environment, surrounded by cops. From guardian.co.uk.

Long before the Philadelphia Union existed, and well before MLS even announced in February 2008 that the city would get an expansion team, a group of soccer fans from the Philadelphia area decided that if the region was ever to get a local team for them to cheer on, they would have to first demonstrate that a robust fan culture was already in place. So, they created a supporters’ group, the Sons of Ben (SOBs for short, with typical Philly grace), for a team that didn’t even exist and wasn’t even on the drawing board yet. These are the magnificently crazy people who today fill up the entire River End of PPL Park in Chester. One of their regular activities in those early, pre-Union days was heading up to the Meadowlands en masse, where the Red Bulls played back then, and spending the entire game taunting the home team and its fans.

Of course, this didn’t sit well with the long-suffering fans of New York which, despite being one of the original MLS teams that began playing 15 years ago, have yet to win a single title. No MLS Cups (the playoff championship), no Supporters Shields (awarded to the team that finishes first overall in the regular season standings — the equivalent of a league title in Europe), and no U.S. Open Cups (like the English F.A. Cup). The Red Bulls are 0 for 45 in opportunities to win a trophy — actually 0 for 46 if you count their hideous performance in the continent-wide CONCACAF Champions’ League last year. They’re practically in Chicago Cubs territory already.

Red Bull New York logo.

Someone should keep them away from the vodka.

So, it’s the New York fans who actually became the first to transform into “angry, bitter, European-style soccer hooligans,” although I doubt they’re drinking Yuengling. After years of hearing these weird Philadelphians calling themselves SOBs and pointing out that their non-existent team has won as many championships as their own has, something snapped in Red Bull Nation’s collective mind when the Philadelphia Union played New York for the first time.

As the teams played each other twice over four days in April at the Red Bulls’ home stadium (first for the MLS regular season, then for the U.S. Open Cup) New York fans threw rocks and bottles at a bus carrying Philadelphia fans and managed to shatter one of the windows. So, at the teams’ first meetings, the tension between their fans had already escalated from verbal taunting to physical violence.

Adding insult to injury, this year the Red Bulls were knocked out of the U.S. Open Cup by the USL-2 Harrisburg City Islanders, a Philadelphia Union third tier minor-league affiliate.

Fast-forward to July, when the Union hosted an international friendly match against Scotland’s Celtic F.C., and a group of people from — you guessed it — New York City, decided to light a bunch of flares in support of Celtic in PPL Park near the end of the game.

So it comes as no surprise that, given the history of violence that already exists, said the Daily News, “police and event staff littered the Red Bull area with a keen eye on anything that went beyond insults. Union president Tom Veit felt the need to keep things safe required extra vigilance.

‘”It’s necessary. We have an obligation to our fans to keep it safe and enjoyable,” Veit said. “So with that said, I’d rather have a lot of guys standing around doing nothing, than a few having to do something.”‘

While the source of the violence so far has clearly been from New York fans, I suspect the decision to partition the stadium yesterday was also probably rooted in a desire to prevent any reprisals from Philadelphia fans, who naturally had the New Yorkers heavily outnumbered.

I can only wonder what’ll happen next year.

Stupid Political Pressure Groups of Yore: S.P.U.D.

October 12, 2010

From the so-stupid-it’s-hard-to-believe-it’s-true department, did you know that in 18th century Britain, there was an organization called the “Society for the Prevention of an Unwholesome Diet” (the acronym of which, S.P.U.D., may or may not have been a possible origin of the English nickname for the potato)?

The group was dedicated to keeping potato cultivation out of the United Kingdom. Its members had, in their minds, iron-clad reasons for keeping the potato out of the country, like the fact that because it was never mentioned in the Bible, therefore it had to be evil. As a member of the nightshade family, the potato probably contained atropine as well, which all God-fearing, upstanding citizens knew was the substance witches used to make themselves fly.

 

A lot of potatoes.

The face of evil, from Wikipedia.

 

So, obviously, one of the most nutritious foods on the planet had to be, to SPUD’s members, completely unwholesome, and it had to be banned. They would also make outlandish and unsubstantiated claims that the potato caused rickets, syphilis, tuberculosis, and obesity, not to mention rampant lust and general societal collapse.

Exactly how an obese tuberculosis sufferer with rickets was going to be filled with lust is frankly beyond my ability to comprehend, but at least “tuberculosis” has the word “tuber” in it. I’m sure somebody on television today could make a big chalkboard diagram highlighting that connection and demonstrating how it all relates to moral relativism and socialist conspiracies devised by the U.N. and anyone who ever met Bill Ayers to sap away our precious, but strangely undefined, American freedom.

Of course, while these fine moralists were trying to block the potato from Britain as part of their noble effort to keep lust and hyperbolic Witchcraft at bay, other, less fortunate people were dying of malnutrition that could have been prevented by the tuber’s widespread adoption. But, the fates of the little people didn’t matter when there were Big Ideas to defend at all costs.

Eventually, common sense won the day and the sanctimonious fools of SPUD were consigned to the ashbin of historical punchlines, but it took some time to do so — too much time for the malnourished unfortunates of their era.

Infer whatever parallels between then and now you’d like.

The Internet That Was: 1981-82

August 20, 2010

I recently stumbled across an archive of Usenet posts, mostly from around 1981. They’re archived using the Gopher protocol, so you most likely have to use one of the Mozilla-based browsers like Firefox, Seamonkey, etc. to be able to access them. Many of them are incredibly amusing from a historical standpoint. For instance, in the NET.music archive, there’s the following from April 1982:

I came across a record a few months ago by BOW-WOW-WOW.
After an initial readjustment period I became quite
happy with it.  It's name was something like "See jungle,
go ape crazy" (I taped it and lost the title).  Anyone
else hear this album?  Do they have any other albums?
Any of them worth a listen?  I fear that this is the kind
of group that you could get tired of real fast.

I love the assessment of Bow-Wow-Wow as “the kind of group that you could get tired of real fast,” as well as the simple fact that someone once felt compelled to ask of the band, “Anyone else hear this?” Here’s a history lesson for you, kids: once upon a time (when we had to walk eight miles each way to school through ten foot high snowdrifts every day, even in May) we used to buy music on these 12″ diameter things called “record albums,” and then we would make copies of them on cassette tapes to share with people and listen to in our portable Walkmans and boom boxes. It was like the peer-to-peer file sharing network of its day.

There’s also a review of an Asia concert (!) by a Steve Howe fanboy (who wouldn’t be a “boy” anymore, because he’s now 28 years older than whatever age he was at the show), as well as the prices and information you needed back then to subscribe to the Computer Music Journal (Journals Department, The MIT Press, 28 Carleton Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 02142 — I dare you to send something there now and see what happens, since the address is different now).

The fact that everything’s archived on a Gopher server makes it even more awesome. I once attempted to explain to my sister, who’s about 10 years younger than me, how during my freshman year of college (1995-96), our whole campus computer network consisted of VAX terminals, and that the Internet as we had it was all text in the form of something called Gopher rather than the World Wide Web as we know it today. She couldn’t fathom how people managed to exist like that.

Random little side note: I still insist on using the Weather Underground website and iCal feed today to get weather forecasts and updates on conditions, mostly because that was what we had available at school through Gopher when I first started using the Internet as a college freshman, and even today getting weather information online through any other venue just doesn’t feel right for some bizarre reason.

Attributive legalese: The Usenet archive stuff linked to and quoted here is from The Usenet Oldnews Archive: Compilation Copyright (C) 1981, 1996 — Bruce Jones, Henry Spenser, David Wiseman

Confounding Rampant Genderism, Then and Now

July 21, 2010
Cover of "Bob the Builder: Let's Find Shapes"

From Amazon.com

Right now my 18 month-old daughter is in that stage where she wants to have the same book read to her over and over, and over and over, and over and over . . . The book of choice is Bob the Builder: Let’s Find Shapes, which isn’t the least bit surprising considering her favorite toys have always been things like dump trucks and toy construction equipment.

The book is a little unsettling, though, due to the context in which the only clearly female character in the book appears. I realize that on the Bob the Builder TV show, many of the construction vehicles have female voices, but we don’t normally watch the show, and you can’t tell the machines’ genders from the book. Instead, the only woman, Wendy, appears holding a tray of cookies with the caption, “Wendy has star-shaped cookies for Bob.”

It’s flabbergasting, considering the book was published in 2002. As bad as that is, the book isn’t nearly as cringeworthy as some of the older things we have around the house.

Take, for example, the series of 25 pamphlet-style cookbooks I somehow wound up with from my parents that were published in the early 1960s. They’re littered with such gems of statements as, “Here are 250 recipes gathered . . . to help the hostess increase her repertory and add variety to her family’s everyday menus,” and “Sunday night suppers . . . give Mother an opportunity for training the children in the entertaining of their own guests.” Throughout the series of books, the person for whom the recipes are compiled is always assumed to be a woman, a mother, and a “homemaker.”

Better yet, the recipes in question are always for things like “Chicken á la King with Ham Rolls,” “Paté de Foie Gras,” “Chicken Pie de Luxe,” pies, cakes, cookies, and even candy made from scratch, because the female homemaker and parent in question clearly has nothing better to do than spend all day cooking an absurdly complicated evening dinner. There’s even a category of “After Sports Suppers” to be made when, you guessed it, the men are all sitting around watching sports on TV. My personal favorite is a recipe for something called “Chicken Calcutta,” because adding a pinch of curry powder and a pinch of chili powder to something apparently makes it Indian (it’s part of a “Cosmopolitan” recipe section of “Oriental” food).

I can’t help but wonder what a person who helped compile that crap would think of our household today, where I stay home with the kids while my wife goes to work, and our daughter plays with toy dump trucks and rugby balls when she isn’t busy trying to wrestle her two year-old brother to the ground. To top it off, our son likes to pretend to go to work. When he does this, he says, “Go to work,” and puts on one of my wife’s necklaces, rather than a tie.

I hope that individual could withstand passing out from shock just long enough to hear me to say, “Welcome to the 21st Century, dickhead.” It wouldn’t matter if the cookbook author in question was male or female; you don’t need to have one to be one. This is the 21st Century, after all.

Arizona, This One’s From The Heart

April 23, 2010

I’m the grandson of a World War II “war bride” who, like many others, initially entered this country under what could charitably be termed circumstances of uncertain legality before Congress enacted a series of laws to clarify the war brides’ status and give them a path to citizenship (read: “amnesty”). Even if those laws had never been enacted, they would have come here anyway.

With this in mind, I have absolutely no qualms when I say, [expletive deleted] Arizona.

I have nothing but admiration and respect for anyone who, like my grandmother 65 years ago, is willing to leave everything and everyone they’ve ever known and loved, and who has the courage to risk it all by trying to build a better life and future for themselves and their families here, regardless of the legal circumstances under which they arrived. They are real Americans. As for those who would resort to KGB tactics to drive such people out, they are utterly undeserving of the flag they brandish about as if it was theirs alone, and they disgrace that flag by doing so.

At any rate, here are some Arizona-based companies that either have operations or sell stuff around here and that won’t be seeing any of my business anytime soon:

  • Best Western
  • Cold Stone Creamery
  • Dial Corporation (brands include Citré Shine, Coast, Combat, Dial, Dry Idea, L.A. Looks, Loctite, Purex, Renuzit, Right Guard, Soft & Dri, Soft Scrub, Tone)
  • Fender Musical Instruments
  • Go Daddy
  • PetSmart
  • P.F. Chang’s
  • U-Haul

An Open Letter to Conservatives

March 23, 2010

I couldn’t say it better:

The conservative end of the American political spectrum has become irresponsible and irrational.  Worse, it’s tolerating, promoting and celebrating prejudice and hatred.  . . .   If you’re going to regain your stature as a party of rational, responsible people, you’ll have to start by draining this swamp.

The whole thing is here. It’s long, it’s exhaustive, it’s extensively referenced, and it’s absolutely devastating. At the same time, it also tries to be helpful to people who want to get the Republican Party out of the mire, because the author believes “having responsible choices is important to democracy.” It ends:

So, dear conservatives, get to work.  Drain the swamp of the conspiracy nuts, the bold-faced liars undeterred by demonstrable facts, the overt hypocrisy and the hatred.  Then offer us a calm, responsible, grownup agenda based on your values and your vision for America.  We may or may not agree with your values and vision, but we’ll certainly welcome you back to the American mainstream with open arms.  We need you.

I’m afraid that there aren’t many people remaining on the right who will pay attention, though. I hope I’m wrong about that, because having responsible choices is essential for democracy to work. Right now, all the realistic choices we have are between the Democratic Party and a bunch of ugly, twisted loons. That’s not good over the long term.

A Philadelphia Hat Trick

March 16, 2010

Presuming that the 2010 Major League Soccer season actually gets a chance to begin (hopefully on time as well), the new Philadelphia Union may fit in quite nicely with the gloriously ignominious tradition of Philadelphia’s professional sports history.

The Philadelphia Union logo

The Seaport Drive Bullies?

In the first ever game against an MLS opponent, a pre-season “friendly” (in name only) against FC Dallas a few days ago in Florida, Philadelphia lost 2-0. In the process, the Union racked up three red cards.

When one player scores three goals in a game, it’s commonly called a “hat trick.” It doesn’t happen often. When three players from the same team get ejected in the course of a game, that’s a uniquely Philly variation.

The fact that this ugliness broke out in a game against a team based in Dallas, Texas (home of the infinitely hated Cowboys of the NFL) just makes it even more uniquely Philly.

Oh well. If you can’t beat ’em, at least you can beat the hell out of ’em.

Jim Bunning: Now Worse than Michael Vick in Philly Sports History

February 28, 2010

It’s time to revisit the unique nexus of baseball, politics, senility and weirdness that is Kentucky Senator Jim Bunning. Over the last several days, an old post on this site from way back in 2008 called, “Whither Jim Bunning?” suddenly started getting a bunch of hits — far too many for it to be a coincidental spike.

A closer look revealed that the most common search term bringing people here was, “Jim Bunning asshole.”

“Oh, jeez,” I thought, “What the heck did he do now?”

It didn’t take long to figure out that he did this. Yes, Jim Bunning is the reason that 1.2 million laid-off Americans will lose their unemployment benefits. He single-handedly filibustered an unemployment extension. The Republican caucus, to its credit, had nothing to do with it and didn’t go along with his filibuster.

Bunning clearly suffered greatly for his efforts, having complained at one point during his filibuster of having to miss a basketball game.

I never thought it possible for someone to rank below Michael Vick and Pete Rose on the Philadelphia sports history All-Jackass Team, but “Senator” Bunning has done it. Throwing a perfect game for the Phillies does not make you any less of a worthless excuse for a human being, sir.

And that, folks, is the unique nexus of baseball, politics, senility, weirdness, and douchebaggery that is Kentucky Senator Jim Bunning.


%d bloggers like this: