Baseball’s Hall Of Fame, Class of 2021

We recently got the news that David Ortiz was selected to join the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.

David is often known as “Big Popi” and I celebrate his election to the Hall of Fame.

But today’s Hall of Fame news isn’t about David Ortiz getting in, but those who didn’t. When a player retires from playing baseball he is eligible for the Hall of Fame as long as he has played for ten seasons and has been retired for five.

In the early 2000s baseball produced several players who produced incredible numbers, particularly in home runs. It didn’t take long for the public to suspect or assume that their numbers may have been enhanced by steroids that artificially built muscles that inflated their statistics. When we discuss this we naturally look at Barry Bonds, Curt Shilling, Roger Clemens, and others.

This raises an interesting question: Does a baseball player earn his place in the Hall of Fame only because of his record or is it more complex? Do morals matter?

Ty Cobb (1886-1961) was inducted in the first class of the Hall of Fame in 1936. He grew up in Georgia and played for the Detroit Tigers and never lost his hatred for African Americans. Civil Rights and Racial Equality never mattered in his life and it never mattered in his election to the Hall of Fame.

Conversely, Shoeless Joe Jackson (1887-1951) was denied. He had an extraordinary career but was accused, along with seven other teammates, of conspiracy to purposely lose the 1919 World Series. It’s often called the Black Sox Scandal. He was banned from baseball for life and denied entry to the hall.

Also, Pete Rose (b.1941) was also banned from baseball and denied entry into the Hall of Fame for betting on baseball games while managing the Cincinnati Reds.

I think morals matter. We have halls of fame to inspire future generations. Members show the rewards of hard work and discipline, but I also believe they should model leadership. Everyone on this list put up Hall of Fame numbers but were also good people.

  • Christy Mathewson (1880-1925) was often called the “Christian Gentleman.”
  • Babe Ruth (1895-1948) showed us that even though his father gave up on him and placed him in an orphanage, he could work hard and never lose his affection for sick children.
  • Jackie Robinson (1919-1972) proved not only that a Black man could play major league baseball but he could do that while not responding to the racial discrimination he experienced.

I could go on and on. But I support the exclusion of Barry Bonds, Curt Shilling and Roger Clemens because I don’t want future generations of baseball players to believe that you can cheat you way into the Hall.

Yosemite Not In The Rear View Mirror

Normally at this time of year we travel to Yosemite for their Chef’s Holidays. Last year they cancelled the Chef’s Holidays and the Ahwahnee’s dining room. We elected not to go as we would have to eat boxed meals in our room. This year Chef’s Holidays were also cancelled but we had more options for eating and we decided to go.

When we travel we have two of Nancy’s siblings spend the night at our home to care for Nancy’s father. But one of Nancy’s siblings were exposed to COVID and nobody felt safe possibly exposing Al to COVID on the eve of his 103rd birthday. Instead of a 6 day trip to Yosemite we elected instead a 3 day trip to Los Angeles and it went well.

In the last several years we’ve been looking for an opportunity to visit the J. Paul Getty Museum. It was well worth the trip, if a little overwhelming. My only complaint was the promise they made about having an EV charging station. The web page says you can recharge your car in the parking lot and they have about 10 stations. But you have to download an app on your phone and since the spaces in the underground parking lot, my phone had no service and we weren’t able to charge my Honda Clarity. It would help if you could download the app on your phone before you arrive at the museum. That said it was a day well spent.

The next day we visited the Los Angeles Zoo and it was also great. We try to visit zoos in every city we visit and we’ve been to the LA Zoo several times. Nearly every exhibit had a tribute to Betty White, a picture with her and the animals she cared for so deeply. We enjoy speaking with the zookeepers but when we tell them we’re from San Diego many of them will apologize that their zoo isn’t as good as ours. I have to confess that this makes me crazy because each zoo we visit has its own strengths. We’re not looking for the biggest nor can we judge the best. But it’s fun to see a different zoo. By the way, they don’t advertise this but they have free charging stations and we were able to plug in my Clarity.

Finally, on the way home we stopped by Calvary Cemetery and Nancy was able to lay flowers on the graves of her paternal grandparents, Paul Graff (1882-1967) and Theresa Sailer Graff (1893-1978).

Hopefully we’ll see Yosemite soon and Chef’s Holidays will return in 2023.

Observations on Roe v. Wade 49 Years Later

It was on this day in 1973 that the Supreme Court rule 7-2 that states could not outlaw abortion in early pregnancy. You can read the opinion here. There has been a great deal of attention as the Supreme Court has accepted a case (Dobbs v. Jackson) that may overturn Roe.

As a Catholic I’m feeling torn about this. I’m pro-life and I find myself nearly alone in the hope that the Supreme Court does not decide to overturn Roe. I believe that all life is sacred but I believe one Supreme Court decision will not achieve that goal. Overturning Roe will only allow individual states to legislate abortion policy (as they did before 1973). I doubt anything will bring abortions to zero but this certainly will not.

Conservative states like Mississippi and Texas will outlaw abortion while liberal states like New York and California will not and this will allow wealthy women to travel to end their pregnancies, a right denied to poor women.

If we wish to be a pro-life nation we need to work to prevent unplanned pregnancies and we know how to do that. First we need to provide sex education in high school. Evidence shows that instead of giving teens permission to have sex it gives them the tools to make mature decisions. Second we need to ensure that everyone has free and available birth control.

Finally, Switzerland’s experience tells us that we need to work on closing the gap between rich and poor. Nearly three out of four women choose abortion out of a fear that an unplanned child will drive them deeper into poverty. I have several friends that describe themselves as “oops babies,” that is, a pregnancy that was unplanned but not unloved or unwelcome. Our best ability to become a pro-life nation lies in the ability to prevent unplanned pregnancies or at least welcome them as “oops babies.”

Thoughts On January 6th, One Year Later

On January 6, 2021 I saw something I never expected: A group of terrorists, angry that Donald Trump was not reelected, stormed the Capitol in the hopes of preventing the Senate from certifying that Joe Biden was elected President. You can find an excellent timeline here.

At first even the Republican National Committee condemned the riot. But this was not to last.

In the year since this event Donald Trump has continued to claim he won the 2020 election and virtually all Republicans have tried to excuse or downplay January 6th.

A year later I think we have a few takeaways:

  1. The Republican Party has figured out that democracy isn’t working out for them. Since 1992 the Republican Presidential candidate has won the popular vote only once, in 2004. In 2000 and 2016 George Bush and Donald Trump won the electoral vote but lost the popular vote.
  2. Gerrymandering will only take them so far. For the most part state legislatures determine voting districts and the Republicans currently control statehouses in 30 states. After the 2020 census they are working hard at making sure that congressional districts give them an advantage. Instead of voters choosing the candidates, the candidates are choosing the voters. But there is a problem:
  3. People of color vote overwhelmingly Democratic. Despite all Republican attempts, the United States continues to move from a white majority to a more diverse nation. Children of immigrants who are born here are American citizens and can vote when they turn 18 and Trump’s xenophobia and racism are not lost on them.
  4. Younger voters vote overwhelmingly Democratic. Younger voters generally don’t vote as much as their parents and grandparents but that’s changing. The youngest Baby Boomer (those born from 1946 to 1964) is now 57. Gen X (1965 to 1980), Millenials (1981 to 1996), and Gen Z (1997 to 2012), when they vote, vote Democratic. A child born in 2006 will be able to vote in the 2024 Presidential election.

I believe that if Donald Trump remained in the White House on January 20, 2021 he would never leave. He would attempt to cancel the 2024 elections or at least find a way to win a 3rd term. I believe that would end our democracy.

I also fear that if he attempts to run in 2024 his supporters will do anything to make this happen.

I hope I’m wrong.

Happy 2022

This is the time of year when seemingly everyone wishes everyone else a happy new year. This year it seems like more of a prayer than a greeting.

As Americans we generally think ourselves optimistic about the future but I have to admit this year it’s more of a reach for me than usual. Last year at this time I was expecting good things from 2021. Joe Biden was on the cusp of the Presidency and I truly believed that this was the year we would end COVID 19.

I wasn’t entirely surprised by the events of January 6th and was frankly a little surprised that Donald Trump voluntarily left the White House on January 20th. I fully expected that President Biden would need to call the Secret Service to remove a trespasser.

This is what I didn’t expect: as COVID continued to enjoy 2021 I had no idea that large numbers of ordinary people would continue to believe the lies that masks don’t work, that vaccines are dangerous, and that getting sick wasn’t too bad.

Last year 386,000 Americans died of COVID, more than died in 2020. The science couldn’t be clearer. Those who got sick and those who died were overwhelmingly people who didn’t follow simple directions.

Problem is that I don’t see anything turning around in 2022. As far as I can tell the science deniers will continue to deny and the ignorant will continue to work hard to maintain their ignorance. Meanwhile we will continue to discover COVID variants like Omicron.

As an American I find optimism hard, but as a Christian I find hope easier. Unlike optimism, hope does not rely on events but on faith.

Even the most ignorant person, and even the most evil purveyor of these lies lives within God’s love and healing. So if we happy new year is more of a prayer than a greeting, let us rejoice in the hope that makes it so.