Monday, October 20, 2008


First of all, I want to congratulate the Tampa Bay Rays for ensuring that the Red Sox won't win 3 out of 5 World Series. This outcome actually makes the series more watchable for me. I can count myself as one of the few people who expected good things from the Rays this year, though making the World Series is above and beyond. But as much as I admire this Rays team, I'll be rooting for the Phillies.

As I had the pleasure of learning in 1987 and 1991, a World Series Championship is a special affirmation for a team's players and fans, and Philadelphia is more deserving of that this year. This Phillies team has been pretty good for a while now, winning at least 85 games in each of the past 6 seasons, but previously falling short each time. With escalating salaries and free agencies approaching, it is likely that this team will begin to come apart pretty soon, so this may be their last, best chance to win together. The Phillies' fans haven't been rewarded with a championship since 1980.

The Rays, by contrast, are just getting started. As I noted back in the spring, they should be among the class of the AL for at least the next few years. I think they'll be making future trips to the series. Also, since they drew over 20,000 fans/game for the first time since their expansion, there's some question as to how many fans they even have, especially since it took them so long to catch onto what a good team they have. Attendance should grow dramatically over the next couple of seasons, and those folks can be rewarded after they've proven their loyalty.

Secondly, I want to address the other reason I started this blog. "Center" was supposed to refer not only to the position I normally filled in my playing days, but also to my status as an independent voter. I wanted to express myself on political issues from time to time, but, in practice, my obsession with the Twins has left little time for other things. Now, with a very big election coming up in a couple of weeks, I have reason to weigh in.

I hope everyone got to see General Colin Powell's appearance on Meet the Press yesterday. If you didn't, here's a great summary.

I basically agree with everything he says there. It's not so much an endorsement of Obama, though he does appear to have the potential to be a "transformative figure." And it's not so much a rejection of John McCain, who, until the convention, consistently showed himself to be one who could put his own values and beliefs ahead of party loyalty. Rather, it's a renunciation of the direction the GOP has taken in recent years.

The conduct of the Bush administration has been repugnant to me on many levels. To name a few...

They lied to start a war, then showed utter incompetence in managing the aftermath.

They used the threat of terrorism to condone torture, extraordinary rendition, suspension of civil liberties, etc.

They couldn't be bothered to help the drowning city of New Orleans, but did everything in their power to interfere with the life and death of Terry Schiavo.

They exploited homophobia for their political gain.

They made no effort to protect the environment.

They gave every advantage to the wealthy and large corporations, while making life more difficult for working Americans. (For example, the revised bankruptcy law was designed to ensure that lenders would get more money, while average filers had to remain in debt longer. Poor banks, let's help them out!)

It goes on and on. The GOP has come to represent nothing more than deregulation and tax breaks for the big fish mixed with Christian conservatism. They should be more than that, and with guys like Powell in charge, they would be. But all their decisions seem to be based on exciting the far right, and that's a big turnoff. Because if the only way they can get their base excited is by trying to scare and divide people (Obama once sat on a board with a guy who used to be a terrorist, this is the "Real" America, etc.), basically pandering to the worst side of people, well, they've lost me.

The party that twice nominated and elected George W. Bush needs to redesign itself in a way that is more positive and inclusive. They need to listen more to the intellectuals in their camp than the rednecks. They need to seek out moderates and keep the bigots at arm's length. That's going to be hard, soul-searching work for them, and I doubt they'll make the effort unless they get their asses kicked at the polls.

So, like General Powell, I'll be voting for Barack Obama - and a better future for the GOP.

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