Friday, October 26, 2012

Malala's Legacy

We all have heard the story about Malala Yousafzai, the Pakastani teen activist who was shot by a Taliban thug who wished to silence her because she advocated for the education of girls in her home town of Swat and her country. Thankfully, Malala survived the attempt and is recovering in a London hospital and was reunited with her father last night.  What we should also be thankful for is Malala's sweeping support in Pakistan with vigils and protests and the condemnation of the Taliban. It's obvious now that the Taliban had not anticipated the widespread condemnation by the Pakistani people because of their horrible act.

Sometimes it takes a tragedy or near tragedy like this to wake a people up, to open their eyes to the reality around them.  We can think of the 1963 church bombing in Alabama by the KKK, which killed four little girls. The deaths provoked national outrage and the U.S. Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which President Johnson signed into law.

Something more extreme is necessary for the Taliban, however, who are essentially the 21st century version of the Nazi party. It should be criminal to be a Taliban not just in Pakistan but throughout the world. There is nothing redeeming about them. They butcher people, mainly women, and abhor anything that would rise to intellectual stimulation. To disagree with them marks you for death, as was the case with Malala. Civilized society cannot survive with groups like the Taliban in its midst determined to destroy it.

Friday, October 19, 2012

And So It Ends ... Again

Another year, another Yankee postseason cut short by the Detroit Tigers.  This was far more predictable, as I posted earlier, after Derek Jeter went down with a broken ankle. This team lacked mental toughness all year, as evidenced by their insane stat that up until the last week of the regular season they had been something like 0-54 when trailing entering the 9th inning.  They were also one of the worst hitting teams with runners in scoring position, in other words, pressure spots.

So it isn't surprising they scored 6 runs in 4 games against the Tigers, scored in only 3 innings and except for the 9th inning of game 1, they scored 2 runs in 3 other games.  Robinson Cano, their best hitter, was a disaster.  Nick Swisher, Curtis Granderson, and Alex Rodriguez were as well.  Hopefully all 3 will be gone. It has to happen. They have been postseason failures since they came here, with the exception of ARod, but that was only the 2009 postseason.  In every other year he has been abysmal.

Now it's time to get really into the football season with the Giants and even the Jets, who are like an old girlfriend I still care about and only wish good things for but I've moved on with my life.  There is also the Knicks.  It should be an exciting winter in New York sports, it's just that the fall ended prematurely.

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Captain

For a Yankee fan, this weekend was the proverbial whirlwind of emotion. There was the ecstasy of Friday's victory, winning the decisive Game 5 in the ALDS against the very tough Baltimore Orioles. Then after a listless performance for 8 innings against the Yankee killers, aka, the Detroit Tigers, the incredible Raul Ibanez capped off an another ridiculous comback in the 9th to tie the game. But then there was Nick "1-32 in RISP in the postseason" Swisher misplaying a fly ball to give up the lead, which led to the iconic Yankee captain, Derek Jeter breaking his left leg.

It has been since 1995 that the Yankees have  played a postseason game without Jeter.  They've been in the postseason for every year since then except in 2008.  Jeter has amassed a Hall of Fame career in that span, along with being the catalyst for 6 World Championships.  He is truly the heart and soul of the team. Unfortunately, not many of his teammates have been showing any heart this postseason such as Alex Rodriguez, whose advanced age, long and slow swing, and no steroid use have made him an automatic out.  There is Curtis Granderson, who led the team in homers and RBI, but swings through everything now. Then there is Robinson Cano, the biggest culprit, who as the Yanks best hitter and in his prime and had entered the postseason on a .615 clip in the previous 9 games, has 2 hits in nearly 30 at bats and is on an 0-26 slide, the longest hitless streak in Yankees postseason history.

The Yanks ended up losing 3-0 yesterday to the Tigers to fall to 0-2 in the best-of-seven series. Once again they got great pitching from their starter and once again their hitters were an embarrassment.  You would think that with their Captain going down they'd show some pride. But they don't.  It seems the Yankees pride went down with Jeter.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Toughest Division Title in Ages

As I've mentioned in prior posts, I've been blessed as a sportsfan. I grew up in a baseball split house. My mom, sister, and I were Yankee fans while my pop and brother were Met fans. But neither side hated the other team so we used to go to both Yankee and Met games all the time. Because of that, my first great sports memory was the dissapointment of the 1976 Yankee World Series loss to the Reds. It's more of an emotional memory than remembering events. I remember the dissapointment of my family. Then 1977 and the great penant race of '78, which both culminated in Yankee championships. I was also able to celebrate the Mets' triumph in 1986, unfortunately, their last championship.

Since I've been following baseball I've got to celebrate 8 championships in my lifetime (8 Yankee titles and 1 Mets). Now another postseason for the Yanks is upon us, the 21st in my lifetime. Amazing considering the Yanks missed the posteason for 13 straight years. This year was the hardest earned in my opinion, with the Baltimore Orioles chasing the Yankees from a 10 game deficit in mid July to be either tied or no more than a game back for most of September. This was a bona fide penant race because both teams wanted to avoide the new winner-take-all Wild Card game under MLB's new format.

The Orioles and Texas Rangers play that game on Friday with the winner meeting the game on Sunday. A tough matchup either way for the Yanks. I'll be rooting hard as I always do, but at the same time I'm eternally grateful for the wonderful memories I have of championships past.

Monday, October 1, 2012

My Mom and Mitt Romney

My mom turns 70 today. I took the kids to see her this weekend at the nursing home. She seemed happy, as well as can be expected considering last year we worried that she was losing the ability to use her jaw as I blogged about. Multiple Sclerosis and dementia are a nasty combo. Fortunately, she can still eat on her own and doesn't need a feeding tube. She still can't use her right hand or her legs and I doubt she recognized us when we saw her. She's completely wheelchair bound. But there was genuine joy on her face when she saw my little girl again, regardless if she knew her. That we can be thankful for.

I hate to get political in this blog, but there are certain things that get me. It's the hidden things of this political season and President Bill Clinton mentioned it in his amazing convention speech.  If Mitt Romney is elected, under his VP Paul Ryan's plan, Medicaid will be gutted if not eliminated.  My mom needs 24 hour care.  She worked for the Board of Ed for nearly 20 years until her illness forced her retirement, and now her illness has devastated her quality of life. My mom couldn't get the services she needs without Medicaid.  There is no way my 78 year old father, my brother, sister, and me can afford on our own to take care of her. If Romney is elected, I wonder what will happen to my mom if he does what he wants to Medicaid. She is one of the 47% he derides.