Sunday, November 16, 2014

35+ Division

Eight teams contended for the regular season crown in the 35+ division of the MABL of Southern Wisconsin, 2014 edition. In the end co-champions were declared. Last years champions, the Diablos, won their first four games and moved out to a 10-1 record, seeking a wire-to-wire championship. The Pirates, however, after dropping their first two games, gelled around new pitcher Jay White and won ten straight, including the first of two games against the Diablos, moving into a percentage points league lead. That lead was short-lived, however, as the two teams met again the following Friday night to play their rain-out make-up and Andrey Hansbro staked out his claim as the league's best pitcher, scattering six hits and shutting out the Pirates, 6-0. The win clinched at least a share of the pennant for the Diablos but the Pirates came through the next Friday and with the Diablos' season over, the Pirates did what they needed to do, defeating the Rangers in their regular season finale, 6-0, a complete game four hit shutout for Tim Adamany, and driving across town to complete a suspended game against the Madison Mariners, which they won with a four run top of eighth inning. (The game had been suspended due to time constraints, 12-12 after seven complete.)

Jay White led the league in wins (9), strikeouts, innings pitched and complete games; Hansbro led in winning pct. (5-0) and ERA. On the offensive side, Shane Mesenberg of the Diablos led in total bases and RBI, Hansbro led in runs scored and Bill Nowak of the Home Brewers lapped the field in hit by pitches with nine (in just twelve games played, no less). Tom Kersten of the Diablos led with four home runs while three players managed three: Luis Tavarez of the Latin Raiders, Mesenberg, and Matt Kanters of the Madison Mariners.

With the whole month of September beckoning the teams were then split into two four team divisions for a round-robin tournament. It had been thought originally that if the regular season produced one champion and the tournament another the two teams would be matched in a final, ultimate championship game. Obviously the regular season co-champions rendered that scenario moot but the possibility remained for one of the two co-champions to claim the tournament crown and be ultimate champions.

True to form the Diablos emerged from their pool 3-0 but faced not the Pirates (1-2) but the Latin Raiders in the tournament championship game. 30 mph winds with temperatures in the low forties forced the postponement of the Friday night affair to Sunday afternoon ...
The game began with the temperature a balmy fifty degrees with a steady wind. Welcome to October baseball! The Diablos scratched out a run in the bottom of the first when Chad Bieri's single drove home Andrey Hansbro who had led off with a single. The Latin Raiders came back strong with a four run second off Hansbro, including a single by starting pitcher Oscar Gutierrez and an RBI double by Sixto Herrera. The Diablos chipped away with single runs in the second and third and took the lead for good with a four run fifth. Shane Mesenberg, Tom Kersten and Chad Bieri hit consecutive singles in front of Scott Hmielewski's three run homer. Hansbro, meanwhile, held the Latin Raiders without a hit for the third through eighth innings, allowing a run in the eighth built around a pair of walks and a fielder's choice ground ball.

The Raiders went down swinging in the ninth with back to back singles followed by back to back walks producing a run but Hansbro struck out two of the last three hitters and the Diablos had their tournament championship.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Championship Game

The national organization wanted a write-up of our 'championship game.'  I'm sending this:

The 45+ championship was decided on the last day of the season between the Grays and the Crawfords. The Grays would be champions if they won either of two games scheduled for that day; the Crawfords would be champions if they won both.

Dave Keene took the mound for the Grays in Game One and worked a scoreless first inning allowing one hit, a single by Eric Selje. In the bottom of the first Dave's brother in law Andy Sutherland led off with a single. Matt Varney followed with a single and Dave drove them both home with his first triple of the season. Tom Hopkins, Dan Ketter, Kevin Mack and Glenn Griffin each followed with singles for two more runs, staking Keene to a 4-0 lead.

The Crawfords battled back, scoring a run in the third on hits by John Snitka, Tom Day and Doug Rosenberg and adding two in the fourth when Tony Barone and Sean Michael Dargan scored ahead of Scott Jennings' two run single.

With the lead cut to one run Keene and the Grays stranded a pair of Crawford runners in the fifth and Keene led off the bottom half with a base hit, coming around to score on Dan Ketter's single. Keene then retired the Crawfords in order in the sixth and stranded Snitka, whose lead-off double was the Crawfords last meaningful hit of the season, in the seventh.

Grays win, 5-3, to claim their first league crown.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Just Seeing How It Looks

One word can describe the 45+ division of the MABL of Southern Wisconsin, and that word is 'balance.' Two seasons have now been completed and all three teams have won 13 games and lost 13 games. The Crawfords finished at 6-6 and repeated their second place finish in 2014, while the Bears dropped to 5-7, with the Grays (7-5) claiming the pennant after finishing 3rd last season. Highlights for the Grays included an at times all left-handed infield (including catcher) and a battery featuring 78 year old Milt Friend pitching to 67 year old Bob Bezzi.

Some league leaders were Eric Selje of the Crawfords, most hits, most runs 21 and 17, Bill Nowak, Crawfords, most runs and RBI, 17 and 15, Keith Richley, Crawfords, total bases, 25, and Dave Weidenhamer, Crawfords, a 1.280 OPS.

Jim Wichern of the Bears led in steals, with 10 (in just nine games), and his teammate Bruce McNeill was second in batting average at .536 while Grays rookie (and lefty shortstop) Tom Hopkins led in triples, with 2. Also contributing mightily to the Grays first place finish were Dan Ketter, third in batting average, .528, third in hits, 19, third in RBI, 11 and steady as a rock at first base; and starting catcher Dave Keene who also pitched a complete game, pennant clinching win on the season's last day and whose daughter got married in an outdoor ceremony on the other side of the outfield fence during a Grays game. The Grays won with Dave attending the wedding but keeping an eye on his team.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Latest Letter to Editor

Reading the above will give you some needed context for my rebuttal letter to the editor, which follows.
A Thursday letter writer declares that the 'War on Women' is over and "the feminists won."  (He sees this as a bad thing.)
Our government, universities, corporations and the media have been "feminized," he says.  As he doesn't elaborate we must assume that the mere presence of women in these previously all-male bastions is what upsets him.
What he says next is truly mystifying.  : " ... once children have reached school age, social expectations drive women to their careers, leaving ex-husbands in charge of child rearing."  He sees this as the norm?  Whether or not 'social expectations' are the driving force behind women  seeking careers, how often are ex-husbands left in charge of child-rearing?  Or is this just something that happened to him?
Finally there is "Men, no longer the providers, are increasingly frustrated, not understanding the new role the feminists have assigned them. They don't want to compete with women, but to love, cherish and protect them."  What this guy wants is a pet, maybe a nice bunny rabbit.  Obviously he isn't capable of looking at a woman as his equal.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Four Months Since I've Posted, Wow ...

Well, I've been having big-time internet connectivity issues this summer, so there's that.  And I'm lazy.  But I'm getting caught up on stuff and my connection has been much better lately.  So, a real post coming soon.  And, a prediction.  Packers win, Thursday night!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

I Know It's Free, But Still ...

Fucking blogger has kept me off of my own blog for a week now, telling me I 'don't have permission' to access it, or some such shit.  Until tonight, suddenly, OK, here you go.  I guess no wonder it's free because you sure couldn't sell such a pathetic excuse for a blog hosting service for much.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Does God Have a God?

If we exist because of a God both by cause and because It wished it then it must also be possible for that to be true of God.  That God was created by and for the purposes of God's God.  Or GOD.

Think about it.  Wouldn't that explain the erratic behavior attributed to God in the Old Testament?  He was new.  He tried a few things.  Made a few mistakes and 'erased' some of them.  And then He reflected on what He had done and He tried to decide if He had pleased HIM.  And he realized ...

My GOD!  What an ass I've been!  I create these people, give them 'souls,' and then capriciously wipe them out in fits of anger.  All right, that's gotta stop ...

And He became the God of the New Testament.  No more demands for blood sacrifice. No more temper tantrums.  Just offer unconditional (well, almost) love and forgiveness and stuff. 

I heard he's even weakening on same-sex marriage ...

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Under the Banner of Heaven

"God is greater than the United States, and when the government conflicts with heaven we will be ranged under the banner of heaven and against the Government."

From this line the author, Jon Krakauer, derives his title and we see the theme of the book articulated (on page 250).  The quote is from a speech by John Taylor, successor to Brigham Young; he'd been an arm's length away from Joseph Smith when the prophet was shot dead in a Carthage, IL jail (and was gravely wounded himself).

Caution: The next paragraph describes a grisly murder.

Under the Banner of Heaven is the story of the Lafferty brothers, Ron and Dan, who claimed that the reason they killed their 24 year old sister in law (Brenda) and their 15 month old niece (Erica) was God had revealed to Ron that they should.  Brenda was 'interfering in God's work on Earth' and had to be stopped.  The baby they decided was 'for her own good.'  Ron beat Brenda with his fists for 10 minutes until she was 'pretty dazed.'  After a pause to consider options they used a vacuum cleaner cord to choke her out, then removed the cord and either Ron or Dan cut her throat from ear to ear.  Deep, to the spine.  Then Dan did the baby with the knife.

As the story unfolds we see that Ron had great motive to murder without 'God's command.'  After 15 years of happy marriage Ron had converted to Mormon Fundamentalism with his brothers (he was the last of six brothers to convert, from the 'regular' LDS church) and his marriage had rather quickly disintegrated.  His wife, a good Mormon wife, in the late 20th Century sense, didn't want to suddenly start sharing her husband, and the father of their six children, with 'plural wives.'  She also didn't care to accept corporal punishment for not being subservient enough to her husband.  After about six months she packed up the kids and went  to Florida, where she had other, non- Mormon family.  Ron blamed Brenda, who had accommodated her and the kids when they had temporarily fled a different time.  She had 'put ideas into her head.'  Brenda was the only college-educated wife among these six brothers and the other brothers didn't much care for her either.

The story is augmented with a history of Mormonism, whose roots are in upstate New York.  Krakauer was criticized by the LDS church and various sects of their fundamentalists upon publication of the book for painting an 'unfair' picture of the religion.  I thought he did a good job of providing context for it all; it's a violent history but, as he shows, they were often the victims rather than the perpetrators. 

Eventually, after the lynching of Joseph Smith the whole lot of them migrate to Utah, only sparsely populated even by Indians.  There, for a while, they are 'free' of neighbors who resent their proud 'otherness' and from a government who insists they obey the local laws.  But guess what?  Schisms start to develop.  Mormonism is at once hierarchical and individually spiritual.  There is a Pope-like figure, Brigham Young was the second, and a governing board, but it's also part of official doctrine that God may very well reveal something profound to anyone (male).  So, as you might guess, he sometimes does.  Usually to someone with the desire to be leader. 

Most of these 'revelations' indicate that the church is straying dangerously far from the path and the new seer must try to bring it back into line.  The Lafferty brothers, Mormons from birth, were strongly influenced by the Prophet Onias (very Old Testament, no?) and accepted his brand of Mormon Fundamentalism as absolutely God-inspired and the one true path to eternal glory. 

Eventually God starts revealing things to Ron (that's the way Krakauer wrote, never using the scare quotes, or inserting words like 'allegedly') and when he gets the 'removal' revelation he shares it with the group.  No one says 'well OK then, you know what you have to do.'  But no one says 'OK now, wait a minute ... ' either.  He and Dan 'pray on it' and they both decide that it 'feels like' God has confirmed to them that they should go forward.  So they do.

The central question then, of course, is should we blame Mormonism for these murders?  Or Fundamentalism?  Or religion in general?  And the only answer I can see is no, of course not (and I believe Krakauer feels the same).   Mormonism does have a violent past but so does any other group we can think of.  Most Mormons don't kill.  They may even do so at a lower rate than the general population.  Ditto 'religious people.'  But there is no ambiguity in the brothers' claim.  God revealed His will, to both of them.  You'll have to read the book for yourself and try to get a feel for how sincere they are but Dan, especially, is 'all in,' if Krakauer is reporting faithfully.

So what do we, as a society, do with this?  During the competency phase of Ron's trial the central issue was is it or is it not 'rational' to believe that 'God' is telling you to kill someone.  And you don't have to rule on whether or not God would ever give such a command, or ever has, just whether or not it is rational for someone to believe that God is speaking to him.  And, as the prosecution argued, to say no is to invalidate most people's religious beliefs. 

So Ron's on death row, thirty years after these murders, as they exhaust every appeal.

The story also brought me face to face with my own feelings on the death penalty; it's hard not to root for an execution as the conclusion (Dan helped with the prosecution and received a life without parole sentence).  But I don't.  I want Ron to live with what he did until he dies a natural death.  What I would really like is if he could have to listen to or read the 'rational' 'subjectivist' arguments against what he did and how he tries to justify it until finally, one day, he realizes what a horrible thing he did.  I think that's probably the old Catholic in me, bubbling up.  Coupled with the 'humanism' that I guess is my foundation now.  Essentially, I guess, I think WE should pull HIM back onto the 'right path.'  Which for him would be acknowledgement and contrition.  And then 'God' can decide what to do with him, if He exists.  And we would continue to incarcerate him until he dies his natural death.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Latest Letter, Sent Just Now

Sunday's guest column, 'Madison, Respect Freedom of Speech' misses the mark.  The writer calls for greater respect for his rights to speak 'freely,' in defense of his group's 'right' to ignore the privacy rights of others.  While it's true that the Constitution protects our right to speak freely it does not grant any right to make someone else listen, as the Court has clearly stated.

The 'pro-life' message is out there, we get it.  You think abortion is 'murder.'  Well the Court has ruled on this too.  If you still want to try to reduce/eliminate abortions you have that right.  But like all rights it is limited by your responsibility to respect the rights of others.  Working to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies (pretty much the only kind that leads a woman to seek an abortion) would be much more effective and would be much less likely to clash with anyone else's rights.  Think about it.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

New Letter (again)

Religions are man-made institutions.  Every society throughout history has had them, and there are many common threads running through them but there are also differences.  There are differences because different cultures had different societal norms.  Not because there are several gods.  Not because the one 'God' thinks different societies should have different rules.  But because all societies, throughout history, have created their own social norms.  And all of them gave some of these norms the force of law.  And all eventually wrote these laws down and until quite recently all of them ascribed these laws to a god.

Almost all societies show some evidence of cultural evolution.  Here in the USA we even founded a nation on some very non-religious ideas, like equality and liberty.  Other societies have been much slower to evolve, still treating women as barely above property and denying liberty to anyone who can't gain it by force.

Whenever anyone suggests, then, that we're straying from 'biblical law,' keep in mind that many laws are mentioned in many books of 'The Bible,' a multi-authored book that evolved over a few thousand years, but none of them is binding on us.  Each was meant for a particular society at a particular time.  Our society will continue to evolve as its people see fit.