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March 2004
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March 3, 2004 [LINK]

No more artificial additives?

Less than a month remains until the "Opening Day" game between the Yankees and Devil Rays in the Tokyo Dome... Will Gary Sheffield and Jason Giambi have as bulky biceps this year as they did last year??? What about Barry and Sammy? The fact that the MLB Players' Association is dragging their collective heels on the new drug testing policy speaks volumes about the state of the sport these days. In today's Washington Post (registration now required), Tony Kornheiser writes that the players are basically running the show, using Commissioner Bud Selig as a meek figurehead while they set the basic terms in policy. To this I merely repeat my contention that this case of severely imbalanced market forces is the direct consequence of the huge public subsidies to baseball franchises, through stadium deals and other under-the-table concessions.

This spring training season takes some getting used to, with so many familiar faces in unfamiliar uniforms: A-Rod, Sheffield, and Lofton for the Yanks, Schilling for the Red Sox, Maddux for the Cubs, and Pudge Rodriguez for the Tigers. "Who's on first," again??


March 3, 2004 [LINK]

Kerry locks up nomination

The inexorable John Kerry juggernaut passed its final hurdle yesterday, and as Larry Sabato says, "To tell the truth, the race has been over since Kerry proved in Virginia and Tennessee on February 10 that he could wallop Edwards in his own backyard." That leaves us with eight long months to go before the Final Showdown in November. Plenty of time for Karl Rove to dig up dirt on him, and indeed the Bush campaign marked the occasion by unleashing the first round of what promises to be a relentless, unabashedly patriotic media blitz. The way things are going with ever-earlier primary elections, perhaps by 2008 both parties' nominees will have been effectively chosen prior to the Super Bowl. Some of Kerry's broadsides at Bush are way below the belt, but I'm in a forgiving mood at the moment, and I figure he just needs to "lock in" his party's activist base. As the campaign rolls on, however, it will be interesting to see if Kerry can break out of his smug, presumptuous, elitist shell and connect to common people as effectively as President Bush has.

NOTE: This is a "post facto" blog post, taken from the pre-November 2004 archives.


March 21, 2004 [LINK]

Kaboom!

That big old hulk in South Philadelphia, Veterans Stadium, was demolished early this morning, and the walls came tumblin' down in a carefully timed sequence. To commemorate the event, I've updated that page and added an excellent photo of a ballgame in Philly kindly submitted to me by a new fan of this Web site, Keith Kirkpatrick. Thanks, Keith!

In Boston, construction is proceeding on a new level of luxury suites on top of the roof in the right field corner. That spot happens to be quite a ways from home plate, but in the cramped quarters of Fenway Park you really can't complain. That's a small price to pay to get a truly authentic baseball experience. Anyway, it's a good sign that new owner John Henry is committed to renovating and preserving the cherished old ballpark.

MLB Relocation Committee member John McHale contradicted Bud Selig, saying he doubts there will be any decision on the fate of the Montreal franchise by the All-Star break. No surprise there! It would appear that the poor, mistreated Expos must continue play in limbo for the indefinite future, not unlike a gang of undead zombies. Coincidentally, a remake of the classic movie Night of the Living Dead is about to be released. Meanwhile, ex-Expo Vladimir Guerrero has "gone to heaven" as an Anaheim Angel.

While en route with my wife to Peru over spring break (hence the lack of recent postings to this site), I caught sight of another baseball stadium for the first time: Tropicana Field, home of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in St. Petersburg, Florida. At an altitude of 40,000 feet, however, I don't think that qualifies as "being there." It was just a big white blob on the urban peninsula, but to a trained eye such as mine, there was no doubt.

Speaking of which, only nine days remain to the Opening Day game between the Devil Rays and the Yankees in the Tokyo Dome. Pitching???


March 28, 2004 [LINK]

Western tangager That mysterious yellow bird paid us a return visit early this morning, and this time I got good enough looks and photos to confirm that it was indeed a Western tanager. That species has never before seen in either Augusta or Rockingham County! Brenda Tekin and Gordy Adamski came by later, and after a long, agonizing vigil we were finally rewarded with several return appearances, enabling us to get some more video and photos. In the adjacent photo, you can clearly see the wing bars, indented tail, and yellow rump, which are all distinctive field marks of the western tanager. To see a frontal view, which shows more color, roll the mouse over the image. I also got some video of a yellow-bellied sapsucker and a chipping sparrow this morning; the latter species has only migrated north to these parts of Virginia during the last few days or so. We also saw several purple finches flying all around, and robins, goldfinches, cardinals, and chickadees were all singing raucously. Brenda will be posting the far-superior images she took on her Web site shortly: www.birdsofvirginia.com.

Later YuLee Larner came by, and after a long wait, she got some great sun-lit looks at the western tanager as well. With any luck, I'll get another chance to take a photo of the bird in full sunlight this afternoon. Or maybe not: I just heard a small bird scream right outside my office window, and ran to the back door in time to catch a glimpse of a Cooper's hawk flying away, only a few feet from our back porch.

With any luck, I'll get the next batch of photos from Peru posted later today. Eastern phoebes, chipping sparrows, and tree swallows have all been seen in recent days, more signs that spring is really here!


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