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Tag:Electoral College
Posted on: October 29, 2012 1:30 am
 

One Giant Leap for San Fran-kind

California and baseball, they were made for each other. They go together like hot dogs & mustard, guacamole & chips, politics & debate. Kismet.

Long before Walter O’Malley (Dodgers) and Horace Stoneham (Giants) moved their New York business interests cross-country to the Golden State (‘58), the game of baseball was already well-situated on the Pacific Coast, producing such gems as Joe DiMaggio (SF / Martinez) and Ted Williams (San Diego).

But a major league presence? That’s a whole ‘nother ball-game. Big doings.

And when the franchise moves were being planned in 1957, there was no question the Los Angeles team would have the bigger impact on the State and baseball. LA was three-times the size of San Francisco and since WW2 had been fast displacing the Bay area as the undeniable epicenter for the State’s burgeoning commerce and entertainment industry.

While the Giants fielded an impressive roster at their new digs with names like Mays, Cepeda, Perry, McCovey & Marichal, they would reach but one World Series before 1989, losing the memorable 1962 fall classic to long-time rival the Yankees, 4-3.

Down South the Dodgers hit the ground running. In only their second season in Chavez Ravine, the boys in blue hosted a World Series (‘59) and broke with tradition by taking it. Then they did it again in ‘63 and ‘65. Transplanted Brooklynites Walter Alston, Duke Snider, Koufax, Drysdale and LA original Maury Wills all became the talk of the nation.

Soon thereafter, three more teams would call California home: the Angels in 1961 (Anaheim ‘66); Charlie Finley’s Kansas City Athletics (Oakland ’68) and the fledgling San Diego Padres (‘69), owned today by Peter O‘Malley, son of Walter.

Though fan support has fluctuated, the As have been a stalwart organization, hoisting six pennants in Oakland, three times that of its NL rival across the Bay. The Padres have made two Series (‘84 / ‘98) and the Angels took their lone title in 2002.

It’s always been the Dodgers who’ve held a special place in the hearts of most Californians. A second wave of success in the 70s & 80s secured this spot as they appeared in five more Series, capturing crowns in ‘81 & ‘88.

But since those halcyon days of Garvey, Valenzuela, Hershiser, Gibson & Lasorda, there have been no more pennants unfurled over Dodger Stadium. Only broadcast legend Vin Scully, planning on a return in 2013, gives the grounds its championship feel.

You can‘t live off the past forever.

Even with some plucky mid-season moves in 2012 (Ramirez / Boston cast-offs) and new investor Earvin “Magic” Johnson joining the ownership group, the Dodgers again missed the post-season, forcing their fandom to watch arch-rival San Francisco bask in the glow of a playoffs spotlight to which they’re growing quite accustomed.

With the San Francisco Giants winning their second championship in three seasons (2010) by besting the heavily-favored Detroit Tigers 4-0 in World Series 2012, baseball aficionados are left scratching their heads in befuddlement.

Explanations for the surprising result range from the sensible (Giants’ pitching), to the whiney (DH fans), to my own guess (homer-happy AL can‘t adjust) and finally the strange (“funky spin” on the ball / ESPN’s Aaron Boone). That last one sounds like a “Dirk Diggler” dance move (Boogie Nights / ‘97).

To say the Giants’ victory is an upset rings as trite as saying ‘Have a nice day.’ I don’t know what an upset is anymore. Basketball excepted, the watch-words in today’s sporting world are ‘expect the unexpected.’ Exactly when & where the upset occurs, that’s the conundrum for prognosticators, week in, week out.

Can’t say the same for politics, unless you go back to 1948 and Harry “The buck stops here” Truman. That’s bad news for Mr. Romney, though he does have Diebold on his side (vote machines). And then there’s his ace in the hole, that GOP stand-by (10x) and vestige of our powder-wigged forefathers, the one, the only, tah-dah: Electoral College.

Tonight I'm sensing seismic waves emanating from the West Coast. But don’t be alarmed, California folk. I don’t mean the plate tectonic variety. What I sense is a major shifting in the balance of baseball power in your grand State.

The Giants 2012 World Series title moves the center of California’s baseball universe upstate to San Francisco, leaving the Dodgers, Angels, Padres and neighboring Athletics as mere satellites orbiting the bright star that has become the Giants.

And yes, stars can fade, just like the Dodgers did by way of a lackadaisical ownership that dates back to the early 90s. But this a big leap for the Bay area G-Men. Multiple titles will start the dynasty discussion and can be the first serious step towards becoming a standard-bearer organization, i.e., the Yankees, Red Wings, Lakers, Packers, Patriots.

Astronaut Neil Armstrong (1930-2012) took one doozey of a step back in 1969 when he left the safety of Apollo 11 and became the first Earthling to venture forth onto the meteor maligned surface of the Moon. The San Francisco Giants’ hope the historical step they took in Detroit this October 28, 2012 proves to be just as memorable to baseball fans as Mr. Armstrong’s famous step has been to the world.

Steven Keys
Can o' Corn
Posted on: June 13, 2012 12:14 pm
 

College Football's Powdered Wigs

They are the overlords of college football, the people who package the game and put it on the shelves for millions to consume every autumn.

They are the Boards of Regents, trustees, college presidents, NCAA folk, a few coaches, big boosters & alumni and lots of corporate Suits with a finger stuck in the college pie.

I guess not one is a serious pigskin fan, you know, the dedicated type that can sit through ESPN’s College GameDay. Most are MBAs whose real passion is the game of business.

Think of ‘em as…the powdered wigs of college frolic.

Remember those guys? They were the blokes we gave the heave-ho back in 1776, only to return in 1812 when they torched DC (1814) and were finally sent packing by Mr. Jackson at New Orleans (1815). King George III was their poster-boy.

Not really cruel (Spanish Inquisition) or evil (Hitler / Pol Pot), but a portly upper crust (male and female) who looked down their noses at common folk.

They came ‘round to constitutional monarchy (1215) but distrusted popular will, vesting top power in the aristocracy (Lords). They viewed the republican-form with its checks & balances, separation of powers (Hume) and representative democracy as radicalism, its advocates deemed dangerous revolutionaries fit to be hung (Paine / Adams / Jefferson).

Guess we showed them, huh? Though, you gotta’ give the blue-bloods their props. The revolts that followed tended to overrun the bleachers, you might say (French ‘89 / Russian ‘17) and in some cases remain iron-fisted & repressive politically (China ‘49 / Vietnam ‘75).

But the powdered-wig lives on in America. Their handiwork survives in the Electoral College, a tried & true GOP fall-back Mr. Romney (and “bold” Mr. Walker?) will find handy this fall when the popular vote total falls a tad short. Expect a nail-bitter.

And you can feel their spirit in the hallowed hallways of many a college campus.

I used to think college ball held the moral high-ground vs the pros and their money game: greedy owners and greedy players. Not anymore. It’s not even close.

Not that avarice doesn’t inhabit the NFL as well. But at least you know where they stand. The National ain’t no democracy but if Roger Goodell is a king, he’s a philosopher king (Plato) who has one ear turned to the collective voice of the fan.

The college broker? Perched high, up in his ivory tower, he wouldn’t hear a holler.

That college ball still works the student-athlete charade and the amateurism angle ain’t what chaps my hide. Sure, the stars on the gridiron are way underpaid but too many today end-up on police blotters to invest too much concern.

What’s soured me on Saturday football is the fashionable disregard for fans.

Always a cash-cow, the easy-money from big sport venues isn’t enough for these sacred-cow institutions anymore. No sir-ee, Bob. The powdered wigs are grabbing with both hands.

1) Giving-over touchstones like school colors, uniforms and logos to merchandisers who care nothing for team / school tradition & loyalty.

2) The endless conference jumping that kills regional rivalries, ignores travel hardships and makes a musical-chairs mockery of all alignments. The fact it’s making the ship of college sport list heavily to the East Coast (SEC / Big East) has gotta’ be a red-flag. Makes Notre Dame’s & Army’s resolute independence that much more admirable, and sad if they ever flip (Navy).

3) Coaches packing-up for greener pastures is nothing new. Can’t begrudge a guy career advancement. But the brazen practice of schools courting prospective candidates in-season is a tacky new twist (ND, CU & Kelly / '09).

Few are shedding tears for demise of the bowl system. When the flood-gates opened in the 90s and the number of bowls shot-up (35), along with the cachet-killing, corporate-naming idea (TaxSlayer.com (Gator) Bowl), you could hear the bell toll. But then, maybe that was the whole point all along, for playoff-proponents.

Well, they got their way. A championship playoff is in the works. Yippie-yi-ya. Guess I’m suppose to be grateful for this crumb they’ve tossed down? Fiddlesticks.

If you think this playoff is for the fans, you best go back to school…grade school.

As imperfect as it was, at least the BCS Bowl system had a numerical logic to it. I know, LSU had no business playing Alabama twice. Cry me a river. Like any team was gonna’ beat Saban’s 2012 Crimson Tide? Not bloody likely. And I don’t recall anyone whining when the polling system was in play (AP / UPI), especially when two schools celebrated.

Now the same 10 schools will fight it out in a mini-playoff so one of ‘em can hoist (then drop) that god-awful, glass football thing in, what, March?

And the cherry on top: No one knows how to pick the four (?) participants. Good job.

If this money-grab, playoff plan has any element of fan appreciation, the wigs should let the consumers of college football award the golden-tickets.

I can hear it now: ‘Whoaaa, pardner! You can’t give the unwashed rabble such a lofty, complicated task as picking playoff teams, Steve. Only the wigs are qualified to make that call. Only they have the wherewithal to put aside bias & prejudice.’ Balderdash.

As voting for (Electors of) the President of the United States is well within the purview of John and Jane Q. Public, why not the selection of playoff participants? I feel the great minds at our institutions of higher learning can come up with a sound procedure for nationwide fan-voting. Their cuff-linked friends at DTT (Deloitte) can oversee it all.

Better a bias is diluted among 20 million voters than risk its greater influence on a small panel of twenty powdered wigs who are no more qualified to judge, thank you Bobby B. (CBS / “Former FSU" / CP / 6-6), than the mass of devoted college football fans.

But don’t sweat it, playoff proponents. There ain’t gonna’ be no revolution in college football. The wigs will make the call, pick the teams, fans will gripe, millions will watch and the only thing different will be the revolving-door of Nike uniform designs.

Rah, rah, for old alma mater. Onward to victory, rah, rah, rah.

Steven Keys
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com