Baseball in Chicago ended yesterday as both the Cubs and the other team lost to whomever they were playing. The Cubs ended the season 66-96; the South Siders, 63-99. Here's the miserable Cubs season in a single graph:
So I was shocked to find
gambling in this establishment Dale Sveum got fired:
Sveum's dismissal comes 13 days after team president Theo Epstein declined to give Sveum, 49, a vote of confidence despite saying there were "no alarm bells to ring" regarding the manager. Epstein said Sveum's future was part of the annual process of evaluations throughout the organization and that the manager wasn’t to be judged on wins and losses.
However, it was apparent that Epstein and his staff were disappointed with other areas in which Sveum was to be evaluated, such as the development of young players, in-game decision-making, use of the 25-man roster, the ability to “create a culture of accountability, hard work and preparation, and the ability to develop a strong trust with his players.”
In his defense, three of the five teams in the division clinched playoff berths. So maybe it wasn't that the Cubs sucked ass this year. Maybe they just had a tough division.
Nah. They sucked ass. And Sveum's out on his.
I was going to post about the Cubs, who just ended the 2013 season a few hours ago, but then I saw James Fallows' clear and concise takedown of the pernicious notion that the impending shutdown of the U.S. Government is anything other than a Republican Party failure:
In short, we have a faction making historically unprecedented demands -- give us everything, or we stop the government and potentially renege on the national debt. And it is doing so less than a year after its party lost the presidency, lost the Senate (and lost ground there), and held onto the House in part because of rotten-borough distortions.
You can call this a lot of things, but "gridlock" should not be one of them. And you can fault many aspects of the President's response -- when it comes to debt-default, I think he has to stick to the "no negotiations with terrorists" hard line. But you shouldn't pretend that if he been more "reasonable" or charming he could placate a group whose goal is the undoing of his time in office.
We'll see what happens tomorrow. And even if we avoid a government shutdown Tuesday, the Treasury's borrowing authority will run out mid-month unless the House gets itself in order. Fun times, fun times.
New York magazine's Ann Friedman explains why she did:
New York is increasingly a city for people who are already on top, not for those looking to establish themselves. I've always been partial to the friendly guy who doesn’t know how hot he really is (Chicago) or the surprisingly intelligent, sexy stoner (Los Angeles) as opposed to the dude who thinks he’s top of the list, king of the hill, A-number-one.
In an excerpt from Goodbye to All That adapted for BuzzFeed, Ruth Curry describes the heady infatuation with New York that I never managed to feel: “The city lent itself especially well to a mental configuration in which you were an extra in an artsy, high-budget movie and saw everything as if through a camera on a set.” Part of that infatuation is a willingness to consider New York from a cinematic distance, overlooking the city’s many irritants except insofar as they add grit and drama to your story. This seems like the general approach of many New York evangelists, who complain vigorously about little things like subway hardships and bedbug plagues, and then post Instagram photos of the skyline at sunset. A not-insignificant number of the vehement New York lovers I know — especially the young twentysomethings — are actually pretty unhappy day to day. I picture the prom king’s girlfriend sitting near him at the party, ignored but still kind of proud to be in the room and on his arm — and incredibly defensive should you suggest she break up with him for someone who dotes on her more. When I describe my West Coast existence (sunshine! avocados! etc.) to some New Yorkers, they acknowledge that they really like California, too, but could never move there because they’d get too “soft.” At first this confused me, but after hearing it a few times, I’ve come to believe that a lot of people equate comfort with complacency, calmness with laziness. If you’re happy, you’re not working hard enough. You’ve stopped striving.
For my part, I moved back to Chicago after three years because I didn't want to hate New York. It worked. I still love New York, but in the way a person can love an ex: I keep up with what she's doing, and we have coffee every so often, but that's about it.
Now 10 days into the Divvy experiment, I have some data. Since receiving my Divvy key on the 17th, I've taken 17 Divvy trips of between 6 and 46 minutes. (The 46 minutes included waiting 15 minutes at a station for a space to open up.)
A Divvy subscription costs $75 per year. The 17 trips I've taken just the past two weeks would have cost $38.25 on public transit. Or, since my average trip is around 14 minutes, it could be the equivalent of about $73-80 in cab fares.
Obviously, I've taken Divvy instead of walking a couple of times. And just as obviously, I wouldn't have taken cabs on most of those occasions as one can reasonably say that any weather appropriate for biking is also fine for waiting for a bus or train.
The biggest value, however, comes from my morning commute. On Divvy, it's 25 minutes door to door. On the LaSalle bus (the second-fastest way) it takes 45 minutes. That gives me 20 extra minutes in my day, which at my billing rate more than makes up for the annual fee.
Divvy is absolutely brilliant. I'm absolutely going to try the local equivalents next time I visit London or New York. Or other cities with similar systems: Montreal Bixi (the first in North America), Paris Velib' (the largest public bike share outside China), or someday Melbourne (helmet vending machines available as well).
In Chicago, we take these things seriously:
Not since October 2011 have four consecutive 100% sunny days occurred in Chicago. Through Thursday, three days of unlimited sun have entered the record books.
Our forecast of another day of abundant sun Friday could challenge that record.
To date, September’s generated 69% of its possible sun—more than the 64% which is normal!
Of course, in a state with a majority of its gross domestic product coming from agriculture, there's a downside:
The US Drought Monitor released their latest report this morning. It showed that drought has continued to expand in Illinois. The two areas to note are: 1) an expanded area of D2 “severe drought” in central Illinois, and 2) an expanded area of D0 “abnormally dry” into southern Illinois.
Any precipitation at this point will have very limited benefit to the corn and soybean crops because most fields are nearing maturity. However, precipitation would benefit pastures as well as begin the recovery process for soil moisture that is key to the upcoming winter wheat crop and next year’s growing season. The next chance for precipitation in Illinois is on Saturday and Sunday as a cold front moves through the state.
Still, lunch today will be taken on the veranda.
No time to post today, so just read this:
What the sheer gob-smacking scale of these demands means is that the GOP effectively wants to nullify the last election entirely (except of course for their gerry-mandered, no-popular vote House majority). The staggering thing about this party as it now exists is that it views the governance of the other party as always effectively illegitimate. Elections do not matter. Only their agenda matters. No compromise is possible, even when this kind of catastrophic default is hanging over our heads. In fact, the danger of catastrophic default is something they relish in order to undo the basic principles of democratic government.
The Cubs announced their 2014 schedule a few days ago. Assuming it holds up, it looks like the 30-park Geas will next year take me to Cubs away games in Phoenix in July, Denver in August, and Toronto in September. That will leave just four parks (Minneapolis, St. Louis, Texas, and New Yankee) to finish the Geas in 2015.
The Republican party's antics have reminded me of Chicken Little recently. On reflection, I thought a closer analogue really is a book I read when I was five: The Monster at the End of this Book. I won't spoil the ending for you—it was so good I think my dad read it to me about a ZILLION times—except to say that the GOP's gloom-and-doom histrionics about the Affordable Care Act feel similar to the premise of the book. The monster at the end of the book really is [SPOILER!] the Republican Party itself.
In any event, rather than being bad for most Americans as the GOP would have you believe, it's looking more like the real reason Republicans don't want the law to take effect is that it will probably work better than expected. This, in turn, could make people wonder what the GOP's real agenda is.
I mean, why would the opposition party want to make most Americans poorer?
Last night my cousin and I went to Wrigley for the last time until next April. We wound up leaving after the 7th. Why?
In 2012, the Cubs set a franchise record for most losses on the road. On Tuesday, they lost their 50th game at Wrigley Field this season, establishing a club mark in that category.
The Friendly Confines have been anything but for the Cubs this year.
Rookie Gerrit Cole helped himself with a two-run single, Pedro Alvarez drove in three runs and Jordy Mercer added a solo home run to lift the Pirates to an 8-2 victory over the Cubs. With one game remaining at Wrigley on Wednesday, the Cubs now are 30-50 at home, and 35-43 on the road with three games to play in St. Louis. They will finish with more wins away from home for just the third time since 1996.
The Cubs are now 65-93, with just four games left in the season. At least they're not the worst in all baseball: the Astros have already lost 107 games, tying last year's franchise record for most losses, with four more chances to have their worst season ever.
Yeah. That's right. "At least we're better than the Astros" is the best I can say about the Cubs this season.
Today, it turns out, is "National Punctuation Day;" however, that does not give anyone license—beyond whatever one's local political system grants him—to misuse one's keyboard/mouse/other text-entry device (including voice recognition tools) in furtherance of inappropriate text markings.
I'm hoping we can get a diacritical mass of people on board with this.
It's also the last night game this season at Wrigley, and therefore the last game I'll attend until next April. We won't see a lot of drama as the Cubs have already lost 92 games and the Pirates clinched the division wild card slot yesterday (at Wrigley).
If I care enough, I'll post pictures tomorrow.
Today, though: remember the difference between "let's eat, Grandpa" and "let's eat Grandpa."