MLB: IT USED TO BE A GAME, or SHE THREW LIKE A GIRL plus, A PROVOCATIVE PIECE ON ISRAEL’S SVANGALI HOLD OVER THE U.S.? WHO’S THE PUPPET? WHO’S PULLING THE STRINGS?
BY DAN VALENTI
The Boss’ Son Tells It Like It Is
For this, I might become a Yankees fan. Yesterday, Hank Steinbrenner, showing more than a wee drop of his old man, issued a remark to an AP reporter that should make Joe Fan cheer. Joe Fan is the working stiff that the game has left buried under unaffordable ticket prices. Steinbrenner told the writer he thinks his team’s celebration of its 2009 World Series championship lasted too long.
He said the boys got too comfy, too cushy, and lost their hunger. He said they should stop thinking about building mansions and begin concentrating again on playing ball. That was taken as a shot against Derek Jeter, who’s building a multimillion dollar McMansion in Florida.
“I think, maybe, they celebrated too much last year,” Steinbrenner said Monday. “Some of the players, too busy building mansions and doing other things and not concentrating on winning. I have no problem saying that.”
This refreshing remark comes into play in a season that began with an arbitrator’s decision earlier this month to award Pirate’s pitcher Ross Ohlender $2,000,025, a raise of $439,000 from 2010. Not a bad raise for a guy who went 1-11 last season. That’ not a typo: 1-11 wins you a 500% increase over an existing salary that in the real world would be considered a dream job.
MLB: Too Fat, Too Pricey, Too Precious for Joe Fan
From 1980 to 1990, The Planet earned part of our living covering MLB as a writer and broadcaster. We remember the day, in 1989, when Kirby Puckett signed for $3 million a year, then the highest salary of all time. We saw players morph from workers to celebrities, from grunts to rock stars. In the process, the game has been destroyed.
For The Planet, it’s minor league ball or nada. Go Colonials. … and leave the name of beloved Wahconah Park tahell alone, least of all rename it after a guy who wanted to blow it up with explosives.
She Throws Like a … Girl
Staying on baseball, Justine Siegal, 36, threw a few minutes of BP yesterday to some Cleveland Indians’ hitters.
From a Yahoo story: “Thirty-one years since she first held a baseball with some kind of intent and almost 20 since giving up her dream of becoming the next Orel Hershiser, Justine Siegal, 36, continued her fight Monday to persuade and allow girls of any age to play the game she loves. The game they love. Just like the boys.
“She calls her ideal (and her website) Baseball for All. And after spending her prime stubbornly refusing to go away, Justine Siegal rolled her baseball pants to her knees, rubber-banded her hair into pigtails, stood on a back field, palmed three balls in her left hand and aimed, in her words, “To throw a four-seam fastball straight over the top and right over the plate.”
This is all well and good, and the story is harmless, except that it continues making a mockery of MLB and the process of spring training. Baseball doesn’t needs stunts. It’s needs to cap salaries.
The Planet saw film. We hate to say this, but she …
… threw like a girl. She might get some Bare Ruth Leaguers out, and a high school swinger to too, but, sorry, she didn’t cut it on the mound. Give her credit for spunk, though.
Israel Leads U.S. Around by the Nose, Obama Included
EDITOR’S NOTE — Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain, Yemen, Algeria, and now Libya: Do you get the feeling that the Mideast is going to explode one of these days? Lost in the democratic frenzies of the people in these countries is the troubling relationship of the United States with Israel.
The Planet reads tons of website and foreign news, and we present this trenchant commentary by Reuters’ Bernd Debusmann. The writer states a truth from which nearly all mainstream media recoil in fear: That the seeds of the Middle East turmoil were planted with the arbitrary displacement of the Palestinians from Palestine following World War II and the artificial creation of a nation called Israel. — The Planet
By Bernd Debusmann, Reuters
World Affairs columnist Bernd Debusmann has reported from close to 100 countries, on stories from the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia and the seizure of American hostages in Iran to Lebanon’s descent into anarchy and the withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan. Debusmann was shot twice in the course of his work — once covering a night battle in the center of Beirut and once in an assassination attempt prompted by his reporting.
On February 18, the United States vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution on Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territories. The vote raises a question: Who dominates in the alliance between America and Israel?
Judging from the extent to which one partner defies the will of the other, decade after decade, the world’s only superpower is the weaker partner. When push comes to shove, American presidents tend to bow to Israeli wishes. Barack Obama is no exception, or he would not have instructed his ambassador at the United Nations to vote against a policy he himself stated clearly in the summer of 2009.
“The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop,” he said in a much-lauded speech in Cairo.
Compare this with the text of the resolution that drew 14 votes in favor and died with the U.S. veto: “Israeli settlements established in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, are illegal and constitute a major obstacle to the achievement of a just, lasting and comprehensive peace.”
Israeli Lobby Works Its Wonders
Linguists may quibble over the difference between “illegal” and “illegitimate” but the substance of the two statements is pretty much the same. So why the veto? It followed an energetic campaign by the Israeli government and its allies in the United States to keep the issue out of the United Nations, seen by Israel as a reflexively anti-Israeli body.
Washington’s ambassador at the U.N., Susan Rice, had a different explanation. Though the U.S. opposed settlements, she said, adopting that resolution would have risked hardening the positions of both sides in future negotiations. In other words, let’s return to the parallel universe of the “peace process.”
In that universe, American presidents make optimistic predictions detached from the realities on the ground. George W. Bush, early in 2009: “The peace agreement should happen and can happen by the end of the year.” Obama, last September, held out the prospect of an agreement that would, by next year,” lead to a new member of the United Nations – an independent state of Palestine, living in peace with Israel.”
Illegal Settlements Keep Being Built
While the peace process has sputtered on, Israel has been building settlements in the territory of what would be a Palestinian state. Demands from nine successive U.S. administrations that these settlements – illegal under the Fourth Geneva convention – be stopped have been ignored.
Since the peace process began with the Oslo accord of 1993, the number of Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank has risen from around 110,000 to more than 300,000. The government of Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu refused to agree even to the extension of a temporary halt, despite an offer of jet fighters worth billion of dollars. American aid has been running at around $8.5 million a day for many years but obviously doesn’t buy much influence.
The number of optimists who still believe in the “two-state solution” – an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel – has been shrinking as the number of settlements grew. The peace process ground to a halt when the Palestinians refused to negotiate as long as there was no halt to settlements.
The problem with America’s role in the process (highlighted again by the February 18 veto) was spelt out with memorable clarity six years ago by Aaron David Miller, who worked in senior roles at the State Department for 25 years as a Middle East negotiator and adviser on Arab-Israeli affairs.
America: Israel’s Lawyer, Not a Peace Broker
“For far too long,” he wrote in an opinion piece in the Washington Post, “many American officials involved in Arab-Israeli peace-making have acted as Israel’s attorney, catering for and coordinating with the Israelis at the expense of successful peace negotiations. If the United States wants to be an honest and effective broker…then surely it can have only one client: the pursuit of a solution that meets the requirements of both sides.”
The obstacles to this are numerous and difficult, from a weak Palestinian leadership that does not represent all Palestinians to fractious Israeli politics that have moved farther and farther to the right and are now dominated by a government whose foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, is a settler himself.
But perhaps the most difficult obstacle to American peace-making lies in the United States – the “Israel, right or wrong” crowd and its pervasive influence in Congress. That the Middle East policy decks would be stacked against the Palestinians became clear even before the creation of Israel in 1948.
A Sell-out by St. Harry Truman
When President Harry Truman and his top diplomats in the Middle East discussed plans for the partition of Palestine in 1945, the experts warned against it and predicted it would result in foreign policy problems for the U.S. His answer: “I’m sorry, gentlemen, but I have to answer to hundreds of thousands who are anxious for the success of Zionism. I don’t have hundreds of thousands of Arabs among my constituents.”
No annual meeting of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee is complete without a senior member of the administration (Democratic or Republican) reminding the audience of the “unbreakable bond” between the U.S. and Israel, as evidenced by the fact that Truman recognized the state of Israel just 11 minutes after its declaration of independence. (His calculation about constituents is not part of the homage.)
So, if the peace process is really dead, as many experts now say, what’s next? At the end of the 2007 Annapolis conference, one of a long string of peace summits that produced photo opportunities but no progress, then Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had this to say: “If the day comes when the two-state solution collapses, and we face a South African-like struggle for equal voting rights…the State of Israel is finished.
“The Jewish organizations, which were our power base in America, will be the first to come out against us because they will say they cannot support a state that does not support democracy and equal voting rights for all its residents.”
That rings even more true now, when Israel’s Arab neighbors are ousting their dictators in mass movements for democracy, than it did then.
(You can contact the author at Debusmann@Reuters.com)
What? Jonathan Lothrop as a Public Pissing Post?
Finally, The Planet presents this little exercise, which stems from a bizarre challenge issued by one of our critics (don’t ask; it’s a long story). The challenge was: If Pittsfield city councilors were reincarnated as buildings, what would they be?
Once again, The Planet is up to the challenge:
Chris Yon, Ward 1: One-room schoolhouse
Peter White, Ward 2: A hash house
Paul Capitanio, Ward 3: A bar and grille
Mike Ward, Ward 4: The Arcadia Shop
Jonathan Lothrop, Ward 5: Public latrines at the police station
John Krol, Ward 6: A beauty salon
Joe Nicols, Ward 7: A bakery
Gerry Lee, AL: The American Legion barroom
Kevin Sherman, AL: An insurance office
Melissa Mazzeo: A hockey rink
Peter Marchetti: A combo package store and bank
WHAT? AND YOU CAN DO BETTER? Probably so, probably so.
So much more to say but not today. The Planet leaves you with a moth’s kiss, borrowed from Bob Browing as we passively lift the full cup over you head. Love to all!