Archive for July 2009

Roy Halladay: nice guy but just a pitcher

July 31, 2009


Out of whack, sentimental crap is what it is.

I refer to the boo hoo letters elevating Blue Jay pitcher Roy Halladay to the pantheon of  great people.

I don’t know if I will move on, but I want to play for a team that can win a World Series,” he said. “That’s the one thing I really want to accomplish in the rest of my time, is win a World Series.” Halladay says.

Halladay’s  salary is well below market value for a pitcher of his stature that is according to today’s outarageous salaries paid to athletes

This year poor Roy makes $10 million US .Next yera he’ll make $14.25 million US in 2009 and $15.75 million US in 2010 — bargains by baseball’s bloated standards.

Letters to the editor describe Halladay, certainly a decent family guy, as a modern day hero who desrves better than toiling for the perennial runner up Jays.

What about maybe the greatest pitcher in baseball history Walter Johnson (1907-1927)who spent 20 years pitching for the hapless Washingto Senators and who finally made it to his one world series appearance in 1924.

Halladay is a mercenary, a gifted pitcher who has risked little for the great issues of our time.

No hero—just  a ball player.

Deregulation slammed-again

July 24, 2009


Sheila Weatherill commissioned by the Federal Government to write a report on the Listeriosis (Latin for deregulation) outbreak which klled 22 Canadains released her report  on July 22. ft of course was damning of the deregulation mania which swept a slumbering world in the greedfest of the 80s and 90s. Her report was to the point: no level of government was prepared for the emergency and there was little attention paid to food safety by both senior management of McCains and the government.

Just not a priority for governments, the new Tories —Harris, Harper etc. do not believe in original sin—humans can not be trusted to seriously police the common good by themselves. Governments always need to be overseers as it has been proven that  short cuts in the name of profit will generally be taken. Let the market take care of it. Sure.

In this case not enough inspectors…let business look after the operation.Employees at Mccain were not required to report problems spotted a year before the out break.Of couse, they did nort volunteer the info either.

Canadians aren’t buying Afghanistan

July 16, 2009

harperusa54% of Canadians oppose Afghan mission: EKOS poll

“Less than one in three now is in support of the mission. So that

is a pretty profound turn around from what we had seen. My sense

is that probably there is a growing sense of futility and maybe even dispair

that we are not going to be successful in pulling off the long-term objectives.”

− Frank Graves, founder and president of EKOS

No surprise here.

Canada has paid a terrible price for trashing its peacekeeping role.

By agreeing to a new role so totally unsuitable to our history and tradition we have caused too much suffering at home and abroad.

By ramping up militarism ( feting the miltary at sporting events, allowing the oafish Don Cherry to use his bully pulpit during hockey games, by borrowing American symbols like The Highway of heroes), we continue to ape the behemoth to the south. It’s just not us.

And Harper is not us.

The good news is Canadians aren’t buying it.

Support the troops.Bring them home.

The Pig arrived too soon

July 15, 2009


Scanning the American League ststs at the All Star break I noticed that the two leaders in RBIs were both Canadian—Jason Bay and Justin Morneau, both from BC. This brought back memories of the Pig.

Bruno Jurgaitis was a great athlete who caught for me in the mid 70s. We had a province wide championship team with many good ball players.Maybe the one with the greatest potential was Bruno or the Pig as we called him, a brawny catcher who had the tools and the moxie to be a big league player. About 5:10 and 190 pounds, he had a cannon for an arm and could fly on the bases.The physical tools should have been obvious to any baseball scout. As well Bruno was highly intelligent, a Commerce  student at the U of T, who also played fullback for the Varsity Blues. He was a delightful young man with a great atitude, a player who gave his best at a demanding position. He was not afraid of hard work.On hot August nights he revelled in the dirt around home plate, hence his nickname, “The Pig.”

After his junior career was over he asked me what I thought about the lack of major league interest in him.I told him the fault lay not in him but in the blind prejudice I call “statism”. Bruno’s only sin was that he was a Canadian (not from The States) and at that time the received wisdom among baseball scouts was that only pitchers had a chance at the Big Show, As Ed Terry, a noted sandlot coach in Toronto’s west end used to say, :”They would not know the Babe if he walked over the hill.” Well not quite true but American scouts then were simply interested in position players, Pitchers alone were scouted. The reasoning was fairly simple: if a kid had a live arm, no matter where he was born, they could teach him the rest. But their prejudice blinded them as the later  appearance of players like Bay, Morneau and Larry Walker proved.”Statism” (only in USA or Latin America) rampant in the 50s to the 80s dictated that only pitchers surfaced on their malfunctioning radar.

Now these scouts know better—Koreans, Chinese, Dutch and  Japanese players dot major league rosters. Great Canadian ball players in other position are there as well, first baseman Joey Votto (Toronto)  of the Reds, Russ Martin (Montreal)  of the Dodgers to name a couple.

The Pig at 17 was the match of any of them.His failure was that he arrived too soon.The scouts were hobbled by an inherited prejudice, a collective myopia which prevented then from seeing the obvious. The Pig would have had a great shot. Just as Hall of Famer Pitcher Bob Feller came from a hamlet in Iowa called Van Meter, so a big league catcher could have easliy come from a northern city known more for hockey.

The fact that there was no interest in him as a potential ball player  did not overly  bother Bruno Jurgaitis. His education and excellent attitude served him well in his post-baseball life.

That summer day when he asked me the question, it was not out of any deep frustration. He was as they say, “just asking.”

False gods and spiritual anorexia

July 11, 2009


Did you hear Michael Jackson died?

I just found out.You had to look hard to find any reference to this cosmic event..

The embarrassing over the top obsequies for poor Jackson only proved how far we have descended in our poor world.

What can possibly explain this?

As the world becomes more secular,we nevertheless need a way to grieve. As the transcendent Mystery is engulfed by more and more tripe and ephemera, we apparently need minor gods to fill the gap.A new pantheon  then gets produced or manufactured and we worship them.

It is not too dissimilar to hockey night in Montreal.

Rejean Tremblay the Francophone sports reporter said: “Look at these 15,000 screaming people—they used to be Roman Catholics.” Sport, celebrity, consumerism—take your pick.As Eliot said,”Distraction from distraction by distraction.”

We have a great need for some kind of transcendence.Our young people deserve much more than they are getting.The sweet seduction visited upon them on a daily basis only ends up in spiritual anorexia.

Breaking the chains of a pure material existence is our great challenge.

Jackson’s “funeral” with the embarrssing presence of Reverend Al and Jesse Jackson, the brothers with shades and gloves was sad in the extreme.

Maybe sadder is the fact that the Church sitting over a deep well is so utterly unable to slake this thirst.

Two guys from Gary

July 5, 2009


They were both from Gary, Indiana and died within a few days of each other..And that’s where the comparison stopped.

I refer here to the American actor Karl Malden and the Michael Jackson, the dysfunctional “King of Pop”.

Malden died at 97 surrounded by loved ones a wife of 70 years and several great grankids. Jackson died surrounded by sycophants including doctors who acceded to his every crazy whim.

Both came from minority communities striving hard to achieve the American dream. Malden (born Sekulovich) was the son of Czech and Croatian parents. Jackson was the son of Afro-American parents.

Malden worked in the Gary steel mills for three years before going on to theatre school and a life in the cinema. His greatest role was as the priest in the movie of the twentieth century On the Waterfront. For this he won the 1954 Oscar as the best supporting actor.

Jackson driven by  a manic father arrived as a child star then, breaking free became a pop ikon with dazzling dance moves. His life was plagued by scandals, self hatred and bizarre behaviour. Like the King before him Elvis, Jackson died a pill popping shadow of himself, the fodder of countless jokes by white and balck comedians.

The lives of the Paterson, N.J. poet William Carlos Williams applied equally to both Presley and Jackson.

“The pure products of America go crazy.”

Jack and the Beanstalk

July 2, 2009


A friend called saying that European priests in his circle

were staggered at the coverage given MIchael Jackson’s death.

What the hell is going on over there?

It should not be difficult to figure out, should it?

We live in the most terminally adolescent culture in human history.

Our children are bombarded with this cultural toxic sludge  24/7.

In the US the amount corporations spent marketing to children under twelve increased by five times between 1980 and 1990 and ten times more during the 1990s. In 2004 around $15 billion was being spent marketing to children. Conferences on the best ways to market to children are held all over the world. There are also awards for the best advertisements and marketing campaigns with hundreds of entries.

Who will be the filter for this stuff?

Parents both of whom work and who allow this into their homes?
Single parents 40% of the population who are too tired to monitor it?

Is there any place to escape?

Years ago the writer Robert Bly  used the image of Jack and the Beanstalk.

Instead of protecting children from  the monster, we are opening our windows,

pointing to these ikons of God and saying, “Take them, they are all yours.”Then we feed them uncritically into the maw of advanced capitalism. Love and transcendence—out the door.

They then weep for Michael Jackson but can not tell you who Gandhi or

Oscar Romero is.