With a mall shooting in suburban Portland, Oregon, and the massacre of 20 children and six adults at a school in Newtown, Connecticut days later, I thought I would write about something else. Since the mind can't comprehend why someone would want to ruthlessly cut short the lives of six year-olds, I'll say what maybe one would say when one doesn't know what to talk about...How about those Dodgers, huh?
Well maybe one would talk about about the weather, but this particular one (me), would rather talk sports, and more specifically, baseball. The Dodgers landed the top free agent pitcher on the market this year—right-hander Zack Greinke. That, along with their own superstars Clayton Kershaw and Matt Kemp, all of the money and players they bought from Boston last August, and infielder Hanley Ramirez before that, the Dodgers seem set to make a run at a championship that has eluded them every year since 1988.
But just days after spending 147 million dollars and six years on Greinke, the other LA (of Anaheim) team made some noise of their own, and it was a loud boom (as in a lot of home runs). The Dodgers may have gotten the best free agent pitcher, but the Angels signed the best free agent hitter Josh Hamilton. Hamilton, an MVP in 2010 with Texas, inked a five-year deal worth $125 million. He joins three-time NL MVP winner Albert Pujols and MVP runner-up and Rookie of the Year Mike Trout in a lineup that also has a good pitching staff to go with it.
Critics are saying that the Dodgers and Angels are becoming just like the Yankees and Red Sox, and money doesn't necessarily buy championships, and things like that. That all may be true, but at least the center of the baseball world will be on the west coast for a change, and we can find out for ourselves if money can buy championships. The Dodgers and Angels have both made the playoffs only twice in the same season (2008 and 2009), but maybe this is the year they face each other in the World Series. Something much brighter to think about than what's on the news these days.
Don't forget about us, eh?: If there is an eastern team that takes the attention from the Dodgers and Angels, it figures not to be the Yankees or Red Sox, but the Toronto Blue Jays. It looks like the northerners have acquired knuckleballer and Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey from the Mets. This will gave them a rotation of Josh Johnson, Dickey, and Mark Buehrle up front with sluggers Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, and speedster Jose Reyes. Think about this. The Yankees and Red Sox still figure to be good, Baltimore made the playoffs last year, Tampa Bay was in it until the end, and now Toronto has stocked up. Maybe they will all beat each other up and the Angels and Dodgers will dominate.
Going bowling: Every year for the last few years, I've set out to rank all of college football's bowl games from best to worst. I haven't succeeded because there are so many (35 this year in about three weeks). However, if I fail again, I wish to note that the first bowl game of the season may turn out to be the best. Arizona beat Nevada 49-48 in the New Mexico Bowl, and scored 14 points in the final minute to do it. A touchdown, onside kick recovery, and another TD give the Wildcats the victory. It was Arizona's only lead of the game.
More bowl: The game featured one player on each team that went to the same high school in Grass Valley, where I now work. Arizona's Dan Pettinato and Nevada's Zach Vallejo grew up playing football together, going as far back as sixth grade, and both were stars at Nevada Union. Pettinato's team won, and his name was mentioned three times on ESPN. Vallejo is sitting out this year and did not play. Cool story, though. I talked to them both by phone the day before the game.
We interrupt this program...: It's the proper call I suppose, but in this day and age I'm not so sure anymore. When President Obama spoke from Newtown Sunday night, NBC carried the speech live, and moved the Sunday Night Football game to CNBC. The speech was only about 15 minutes, and the game was moved back to the main network when Mr. Obama concluded. The networks still want to be the place to turn when news breaks, but with so many other choices out there, it seems kind of pointless. NBC could have kept the game on, with a crawl telling people the speech was on MSNBC or CNBC. No real harm done here, but I think the choice was made the way it was, because that's always how they've done things.
Live from New York...: I don't mean to sound insensitive, but I didn't understand the open of Saturday Night Live this weekend. Instead of a comedic sketch (usually political but not always), they just had a children's choir singing Silent Night, and then at the end, all the children said the signature line, “Live from New York, It's Saturday Night.” There was no reference made to the school shooting, but I'm sure that was the idea. It seemed odd, though, and there was no mention of the shootings at all in the show, not even during the 'Weekend Update' news segment.
More SNL: After the odd open, the show, hosted by Martin Short with musical guest Paul McCartney, was one of the funniest in a very long time. Even my mom said so when I talked to her on Sunday. Sketches included an appearance from Alec Baldwin as Tony Bennett, with Short playing Bennett's brother, and one where Short and McCartney are auditioning for a talent show, but Short wouldn't let McCartney sing. The children that sang in the open were back when McCartney sang 'Wonderful Christmastime' toward the end of the show.
Oh me, oh Mayan: Last year, we had the old guy from Family Radio saying the world was going to end. Now we can find out if the Mayan calendar is right. You know the story by now, the Mayan calendar ends at the winter solstice of 2012, which is Friday. There was even a movie about it (which maybe I should rent this week with time running out and all). Having just watched Ken Burns' The Dust Bowl on PBS, if this is the end, all I can say is what Woody Guthrie wrote and sang when they thought the world was ending in Oklahoma in the 1930s—So Long. It's Been Good To Know Ya.