Wednesday, November 08, 2006

I Cheered When Humphrey Was Chosen, My Faith in the System Restored

But I'm Glad all the Commies Were Thrown Out of the A.F.L. C.I.O. Board

Times like these, it's hard not to temper my excitement with thoughts like the ones that must have been running through Phil Ochs' mind when he wrote the song, "Love Me, I'm a Liberal." Don't get me wrong: I am whole-heartedly excited--no, that's hyperbole--I am tremendously relieved by the results of yesterday's elections. Yet, I can't help but balance that enthusiasm with a sense of wonderment: what, if anything, has really changed over the past 48 hours? On the one hand, the result of the midterms has, indeed, been a "referrendum" on the Iraq War, and Conservative domestic policy (in case you didn't get that idea from the coverage last night) and the message is clear: Americans are looking for a change. But on the other hand, I can't--even for a minute--fool myself into believing that the change people are looking for is a radical one. This was no referrendum to reallocate our tax dollars from shedding innocent blood in Iraq, to protecting innocent people in Darfur. The "No Child Left Behind" (because they're all being pushed back) act was not an attacking point for the Democrats. A good portion of those Democrats elected are pro-life, and suspiciously mum on Stem-Cell Research (for instance the Senate results in Pennsylvania; in congress, Indiana, North Carolina, etc...) And it even seems that a number of candidates, like maybe-Senator Webb from VA., Congressman-elect Shuler from N.C., and Congresswoman-elect Boyda from KS., are recent "converts" from the G.O.P. Some, like Boyda, openly admit, that they swithced parties because they thought the Democrats spoke to the moderates and centrist Conservatives. Boyda even distanced herself from the Democratic party by refusing some of their funding. Like many of the other Southern take-overs, the votes that carried her seem to have been as much a stamp of approval on her religious beliefs, as her politics...neither of which I can identify with, personally. Although, unlike recent Democrat-cum-lately, Tim Mahoney, she has never described herself as a "fundamental Christian."

Of course, I am excited about some huge strides in social equality: enter the first lady Speaker of the House; the SECOND-ever African American Governor in History; and the FIRST-ever Muslim Congressman (who ran the most honorable campaign of the election...turns out Muslims can fight fair, while Christians, seemingly, cannot.) I am less excited about the lack of social issues that Democrats platformed on. Is the Iraq war a significant issue? Outside of Connecticut, it obviously is. But is it so important that issues like Labor, Education, Abortion, and Health Care, get swept under the rug? Well, outside of Connecticut, apparently it is.

Lieberman campaigned on many of those "non-war" issues and won. However, even this morning as Don Imus asked him when he would realize how idiotic his stance on Iraq is, Lieberman stumbled around a bit before mumbling, well, we need to get together and think about how to approach this, but we can't just 'cut-and-run.'" Ah, no, Joe, we can't. Wouldn't want to be flip-floppers would we? I have given Lieberman grief, and while I find it unfortunate that he had to rely on the spiteful votes of registered republicans, like my in-laws, to win, I give him credit, and certainly consider it a victory for the party. I certainly don't trick myself, the way certain people do, into believing that Lieberman's victory was any less a victory for the Democrats, than a party victory for someone like Webb.

Indeed, they are both victories for a certain wing of the Democratic party--lets call them the NeoLibs--a group that wins because they are about us centric as possible, able to float between the parties, and certainly not likely to initiate radical change in policy. Will they aim to "change direction in Iraq and the War on Terror?" Sure. Will this result in an effort to change policy, and begin troop withdrawal, or to cut back the breaches of civil rights afforded by the Patriot Act? We will see about that. But you want to talk about improvements in innercity education? Pressuring the United Nations to intervene in Sudan? Talking Bush out of polarizing politics around "fringe" issues like whether or not two dudes who love each other should be afforded the same right to marry as Britney Spears and Kevin Federline? Don't hold your breath. Ironic, huh? That middle-American Christianity was powerful enough to save the sanctity of Marriage from the invasion of the gays, but couldn't seem to do anything to save it from the embarassing spoil of the Wal-Mart CD King and Queen?

I guess the point is that while The Nation, and DailyKos are able to blindly celebrate this as a huge step forward for American liberalism, and while more radically left bloggers are crying into their coffee having lost the party, I am going to wait in limbo. Speaking tempermentally, I think the results speak for themselves: Democrats, after decidedly shifting to the middle, have gained the faith of the American voter. The question now becomes: over the next two years, can they pull that center back towards the left, or are we trending towards a Lieberman/Webb ticket in '08? (update: There goes Montana, control of the Senate looking promising. AND THERE GOES RUMSFELD! A little late, but I will take it.)

On the Christian Republicans I Love

I haven't wanted to--or needed to--discuss the travesty that was the '06 Red Sox in a while, but the third best season of the four baseball seasons has started. Y' have your Spring Training season (fourth best, unless you are there with 3 or 4 of your buddies in a hotel with a bathtub full of ice and Coors Light) and you have your regular season (the best, unless it sucks completely like it did this year), your post-season (second best if your team makes it, best if they win) and lastly, your hot-stove season (consistently third best, always blown out of proportion.)

According to my thorough research and statistical breakdowns scrupulous enough for the Bill James handbook, I deduce that each HS season, the average team makes exactly 4 non-descript transactions that make minor differences down the line, and 0.6-2.6 major transactions (rounded up to 3 for upper-echelon teams like the Sox.) This being the case, I have decided to play GM ('cause that current bum hasn't won us a World Series in two years) and draw up my plan of attack for which 4 fairly average (but perhaps season-altering) moves I would make, as well as the three big-time moves that could make the Red Sox an immediate contender in the hardest league in Baseball (y'know, World Series results notwithstanding.)

Doesn't Matter if You're Minor...

1. Let the Mets overpay Loretta, Pedroia slides in at Second and RESIGN Cora and Gonzalez. Here's something I always hear, and frankly, I don't get it: "we need to get more production out of our (fill in the blank) position." Inevitably, even if the Red Sox lead the league in runs, they will have a cold-streak, and with this double-play combo in place, the automated response will be "we need more production from the middle infielders." Look, Gonzo was the best defensive Short-Stop in the Majors last year. Pedroia is an excellent defensive 2B. If there is anywhere you can afford to sacrifice production for defensive prowess, it is your middle infield. And relax, I will produce some runs elsewhere.

2. Forget Zito, forget Schmidt, and PLEASE forget Mulder, Suppan, and Wright. Let the Mets and Yankees outbid the moon for Matsuzaka, and hope and pray he isn't an interleague-switch bust. Sign "Wicked" Gil Meche, instead. He will cost you less then half of what the other guys cost, and with the right run support, will win you almost as many games.

3. Mike Lowell and money for Scott Linebrink. The Pads have shown interest in Lowell, but don't want to pay him. Eat half his salary, and get a bona fide reliever in return.

4. Post for, and sign to a two-year contract, Akinori Iwamura, a power-hitting Japanese infielder. Could be a bust, would likely be a nice bat off the bench, just might be a long-term solution at third.

Or Major...

1. Sing Free agent Carlos Lee, as a primary 1B with opportunities to platoon in the OF. Most days Lee plays 1B, Youkilis 3B. Lee is a mediocre defensive Outfielder with arguably the best bat in FA. He wants to play for a contender, and hitting behind Ramirez and Papi and in front of WilyMo, and with the staff the Sox have next year (especially under my tenure as GM) this team is a contender. He can play 1B for that chance. Some days of course, Manny will need to DH, Carlos can handle Left, Ortiz can play first. The possibilities of match-ups and resting are endless.

2. Goodbye Trot, Goodbye Foulke, goodbye Mirabelli. Hello high-risk, high-reward, high-incentives contract for Eric Gagne.

3. Sign Roger Clemens, to a one year deal for 19 Million. The amount is huge, the risk is existent, the luxury tax is inevitable. So too is the amount of money to be made on Yawkey Way selling Clemens Jerseys again. Also, I hear you make a pretty penny when you win the World Series.

Because we have a decent chance to win the WS, now that I have just built a favorite with

This Staff:

SP Co-Ace Curt Schilling
SP Co-Ace Roger Clemens
SP Ace-in-the-hole Josh Beckett
SP Young Stud Jonathan Papelbon*
SP Steady Anchor Wicked Gil Meche

Long R/Spot SP (with occasinal Six man rotation to rest older arms) Tim Wakefield
Long R/ Emergency SP Crazy Hoo-Lee-in Tavarez
Middle R Mike Timlin
Middle R Manny del Carmen
Set-Up Craig Hansen
Closer Eric Gagne*

*If things go terribly wrong you slide Papelbon back into the Closing Position and don't lose ALL that much with Wake in the Rotation.

And this lineup:

1. Coco Crisp (the OBP guys won't like this, but when CoCo gets more consistent, his speed can be damaging on base.)
2. Kevin Youklis (a defacto OBP lead-off guy when CoCo can't get on, a legit contact hitter and pitch-burner, when CoCo can.)
3. Big Papi
4. Manny Ramirez
5. Carlos Lee
6. Wily Mo (imagine going through these four in a late inning game with no outs?!)
7. Jason Varitek (batting Seventh, where he BELONGS!)
8. Alex Gonzalez
9. Dustin Pedroia

Bench: Cora, Murphy, Akinori Iwamura, George Kottaras (C), and Carlos Pena.

Is this a more expensive team than last year. Yes. Is it even comparable to where the Yankees payroll will be next year? No. And it is a team that is getting younger. Is there something I am missing here? As I see it, this makes all the sense in the world. Bring on October, it's time for an '06-Election-proportion power shift at the top of the AL East.


At 10:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not sure Gagne is the best idea, given the fact that he's only pitched a handful of times over the past two years. And it is probably wishful thinking to expect Lee to play first base when a number of teams would pay him just as much to play in Left.


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