Strange Days on the South Side (and for one former North Sider)

July 25, 2016


I’ll start with sports.  The Cub may have started to tighten the stitching on their precious Central Division with the addition of a bonafide closer.  Still plenty of time for something supernatural to happen.

Chris Sale has entered into the fashion world.  For those who didn’t catch it, Chris Sale (and likely other team members) have been displeased with ownership.  This started before the season when under-performig Sox slugger Adam LaRoche retired, giving up over $20 million, because the team would not allow his son to attend every game with him in the club house any more.  This led to Chris Sale (perhaps others) entering into a shouting match with management which many thought doomed the season (something that was quickly forgotten about after the epic April the Sox had).

This time, the Sox were to wear some heavy dark throwback uniforms for Sale’s Saturday start.  By tradition, the starting pitcher usually has final say on the uniforms, but since this was a day where replicas of the 1977 dark blue uniforms were to be given away to fans, the team was to wear the same.  Sale (and apparently others) had complained about the uncomfortable uniforms on a hot, muggy day (it was), and when they did not get satisfaction, Sale began ripping up enough uniforms to force the team to wear more comfortable white uniforms.  Sale was sent home and summarily suspended 5 games.

Strange indeed.  This week also corresponded with the Sox announcing that they were going to blow up the team and start fresh, and that included listening to offers for Sale.  Now, there is concern that Sale can’t be moved because no team will offer fair market value for “Cy Young Award winner presumptive”.  Thus, there is an uneasy uncertainty that has settled over U.S. Cellular.

Going under the radar has been another Sox nugget that takes some explanation:  the Sox left Seattle recently, and refused to pay for clubhouse service.  I’ll explain.

Since time immemorial, teams assign a person to act as the visiting clubhouse manager.  They are responsible for helping the visiting team … hail taxis, get food for the team before or after a game, keep the cooler stocked, make sure the clubhouse is clean, etc, etc.  By long standing tradition, the clubhouse manager gets paid a salary by the home team, but is always paid (clubhouse dues) and tipped by each visiting team … the idea being this guy is taking care of “the enemy”, and if you want to get good service, “the enemy” should pay him.  There is no rule, law, etc that requires this payment.  It is just considered the right, just, and fair thing to do.  The visiting team pays the clubhouse manager directly, and he pays out some of it to his assistants.  The rest covers food and drink for the team.

This year, the Seattle Mariners decided that they would do things differently.  Now, clubhouse dues are paid to the Seattle Mariners, who keep 60% of the dues, and give 40% to the clubhouse manager.  That 60% goes to cover food and drinks for the visiting team, as well as salaries for the assistant clubhouse attendants.  Please note, the home team has never been on the hook for this, so why suddenly are they getting their hooks into this money.

When the Sox stopped into town, they called on the Seattle General Manager, and after their meeting informed Seattle that they were refusing to pay the dues because of concern that the clubhouse manager was getting shafted by the team.

If Seattle can explain how their system is more beneficial to the clubhouse attendants, then I am all ears.  From the looks of it, I think my guys were standing up for the little guy here.  Again, maybe I’m wrong, and maybe this is better for the little guys … but if it isn’t, then I’m glad the Sox players are taking a stand.

Speaking of presumptives and uncertainty, there is politics going on, and it is to be the strangest election in my living memory.  On the one hand, you have Donald Trump.  The mainstream GOP doesn’t like him.  Even … I don’t even know what you call Ted Cruz .. doesn’t like him.  The Tea Party branch of the GOP seemingly won’t vote for him.  By all indications, the GOP is locked in an uncontrolled spin, and with sever doubt as to whether the Tea Party or evangelicals will support Trump, and with it looking more and more the mainstream GOP won’t, there is every indication that Trump is in a can’t win situation.

Leave it to the Democrats to start handing the election back to Trump.

In the stately old political way of things, Hillary Clinton has waited, and after rough starts and failures, felt that this was her year, and low and behold, in a few days, she will become the first woman to be a major party nominee for president.  And yet doubt has crept in.  Part of that doubt was likely caused by some attack politics by the GOP.  Benghazi was likely nothing but conservative hounds trying to attack her integrity.  Maybe they were jumping on the bandwagon before it was fashionable.  Now it appears that the DNC helped to give Hillary a boost when her flag was fading in the onslaught of Berniemania.  On the one hand, she likely still had it in the bag, and at the worst would have gone into the convention needing to make certain concessions to Bernie and his supporters (she still did and does).  On the other, it starts looking like a fix was in.  And now there is real concern about Hillary’s integrity.

To make matters worse for Hillary, there is an army of Bernie supporters who will not vote for her, and are going to make her candidacy very difficult.  It is like one faction of the Democrats is considering putting a bullet in the party just at the same time the GOP is doing the same thing …the difference being that the GOP can’t help itself at this point, ad the Democrats can.  It is the first time when both presidential candidates seem to need to defend themselves from their own party more than each other.

The GOP has set its course.  They have Trump.  Trump has offered little in terms of concrete ideas, even at the convention.  He offers ambiguous ideas, ideas that can’t be carried out, and that appeases the disenfranchised conservatives who hate political correctness, and long for the days when you could go up to a rand om gay person/black person, call them a name, and know the police would take your side.

I’m fairly apolitical.  I don’t embrace what the GOP has done over the last  two decades … not by a long shot.  Yet, President Obama has thrown education up on the rocks, and Hillary has been far, far too close to the same forces which allied with President Obama to do that.  The GOP on the other hand passes laws to block future presidential interference with education, and I have to say that I am grateful for that.

More than I would want to see Hillary Clinton president, I can’t fathom what a Donald Trump presidency would be like.  Off the bat, the uncertainty would likely send Wall Street into a tail spin.  Our allies wouldn’t know what to expect, and our enemies would be happy to dare him to act.  I just don’t see the positive here.

On the other hand, I actually like some of what Bernie Sanders stood for, and I sympathize with his supporters who want to make some changes, and are upset that this doesn’t look like it is going to happen.

If I could talk to Bernie Sanders supporters, I would remind them that barring an apocalypse, either Hillary or Trump will be the next president.  I would ask which of them gives you a bigger chance to work to realize change?  Which will more likely help shape the Supreme Court to see through more liberty and change?

While I sympathize with those protesters who dog her, I cannot help but wonder if they know that they are helping to increase the chance of a Trump presidency, and while Hillary Clinton may not be the best choice for president, she is a much better choice than Trump.

I hope that enough of them will realize this before it is too late.