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October 8th, 2002:


Twins-Angels and Cards-Giants. You’d have gotten some kind of odds on those matchups back in April, let me tell you. Welcome to the Payroll-Isn’t-Destiny Playoffs, folks.

Two articles in USA Today about the Twins, contraction, and Bellzebud Selig. Ian O’Connor says Bud will visit the Metrodome during the playoffs, despite his status as the state’s most hated man. He gives Selig way too much credit when he says that Selig was “the guy who made a labor deal that saved the Twins season”. No, that was the players’ union capitulating because they knew they’d unfairly blamed for a strike. Selig would have been perfectly happy to go forward with a strike had it been the way to acheive the owners’ goals of reducing labor costs. The players surrendered before that happened.

Hal Bodley makes the case that the whole contraction thing wasn’t all Bud’s fault:

Contraction became a part of baseball’s vocabulary in January 2000 when Colorado Rockies owner Jerry McMorris suggested that eliminating failing franchises would help solve some of the game’s economic problems. Larry Lucchino, San Diego Padres president at the time, also began to back the concept.

Give Selig credit. Originally, he was opposed. Former MLB president Paul Beeston urged him to reconsider his views.

“I was reluctant,” Selig says. “I knew the heartache it would cause. I’ll never forget when the Braves left Milwaukee for Atlanta. That’s why I got into baseball originally.

“This wasn’t Bud Selig wanting to contract something. It was an overwhelming demand from owners that we do it. In all my over 32 years in baseball, I’d never seen anything that had more unanimity among owners. In fact, there were many who were widely quoted who wanted four teams contracted.”

The Twins weren’t even on the original list. Although Selig refuses to confirm it, owner Carl Pohlad, frustrated with the failure to get a new stadium, volunteered his franchise for elimination.

In reality, contraction isn’t about the team on the field. It’s about teams with low revenue, heavily subsidized by revenue sharing. The rich franchises pushed for contraction because they were weary of keeping some teams alive.

There’s some truth to this, and I do believe that Minnesotans in particular haven’t sufficiently demonized Carl Pohlad for his role in the contraction fiasco. Still, I say that a real commissioner would have actually tried to point out to the owners that contraction wouldn’t solve any of their problems. If only Bart Giamatti had taken better care of himself…

Finally, whatever you may think of the Yankees, people watched them in the playoffs. We’ll see what happens this year.

Them’s fightin’ words

The Slacktivist discovers that “Ashcroft” is an epithet even among Republicans. Via Body and Soul.

Does not play well with others

Former Attorney General and failed Democratic candidate for governor Dan Morales is set to endorse Governor Goodhair over Tony Sanchez.

For months Morales has made it clear he disagrees with Sanchez on certain issues and tactics. And he has taken aim at leaders of the Texas Democratic Party, saying they appear to be concentrating too heavily on generating Hispanic votes while overlooking white voters.

Morales in June was appointed as an advisor to Perry’s Anti-Crime Commission, fueling speculation he would endorse Perry. Morales said he and Perry have worked together in the Texas Legislature in the 1980s on anti-drug laws.

“I think we see eye to eye on probably all these criminal justice efforts,” Morales said at the time.

Perry then described Morales as a friend who was “a strong prosecutor and was a strong hand in the Legislature.”

Compare and contrast to this:

The little red truck that Janet Reno rode across Florida in her quest to challenge Gov. Jeb Bush now sports a Bill McBride for Governor bumper sticker.

And it was Reno in her truck Sunday who provided the entree for the Democratic nominee as he dashed across Miami-Dade County, attending services at six black churches in an effort to woo voters who sided with Reno, but whom he needs to turn out in force — on his side — if he is to have any chance at defeating Gov. Jeb Bush on Nov. 5.

”I stood before you this summer asking for your help. Now I come back to ask you to back a man who can be a great governor of Florida,” Reno, who narrowly lost to McBride in a primary marred with voting glitches, told congregants at Antioch Missionary Baptist Church in Carol City.

At every church, Reno was greeted with cheers and applause. And at several churches, she was the one to introduce McBride, who spent most of the primary campaign in North and Central Florida, strategizing that the Democratic Party’s South Florida stronghold would in the end support the nominee.

But many said they’re doing so primarily because of Reno’s word.

”We know you’re not going to let anyone let us down,” Ossie Conley, a North Miami Beach retiree said to Reno after services at New Birth Baptist Church. “Because Janet’s saying it’s all right, we’ll go with Mr. McBride.”

(Link via Kos.)

Dan Morales is of course free to endorse whoever he likes. I’m free to consider him a crybaby and a sore loser. It’s a shame because I really liked Morales once – hell, I voted for him in the primary because I had serious doubts about Sanchez at first. I still do have doubts about Sanchez, but they pale in comparison to my doubts about Governor Goodhair. I’m sorry that Morales doesn’t see it that way.

MEC Day One Report

MEC 2002 officially begins today. After attending two of these things, I know enough to bag the morning keynote addresses – the marketing to technology ratio is always dangerously out of whack. There are a few like-minded souls here in the CommNet area, where Microsoft has thoughtfully provided a bunch of net-connected PCs. They must have had complaints about squatters last year – there are no chairs in the CommNet area this year. That might discourage some websurfers, but I’m made from sturdier stock than that.

It’s not clear to me if there’s any overriding theme to this year’s MEC. Two years ago it was all about Active Directory, and last year they were pushing .NET for all its worth. I don’t see any clear indications of some Big Thing they want to emphasize.

I’m pleasantly surprised to see that the vendor area is as large as it was in years past. With the economy in the crapper, I was afraid that vendors wouldn’t want to spend the big bucks to sponsor a booth and staff it for a week, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. I haven’t had a chance yet to see if the vendor freebies are as good as they’ve been before. In some sense, it almost doesn’t matter in that the attendees will gladly prostitute themselves for a handout or contest. A common tactic is to make them wear a sticker that advertises some product with the promise that if a vendor rep sees them on the floor with it, they’ll get some Fabulous Prize like a T-shirt. It always feels like a radio contest where you have to be the Nth caller to win. Someone must be getting lucky, but all I get is a constant busy signal and the vague feeling that I’m a fool.

First breakout session is in an hour. I’ll have more to report tomorrow.

Make yourself at home

Had a great time last night with Ann, Kevin, and Brian. We hung out and talked about a zillion things until the ESPN Zone restaurant in Downtown Disney finally threw us out at midnight. Thanks for making this traveller feel right at home, y’all.