Article

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.

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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)

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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.

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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!

25 Responses to “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?”

  1. Joetaxpayer
    February 22, 2011 at 4:02 pm #

    Mayor Ruberto-High end jewerly store,downtown

  2. ambrose bearse
    February 22, 2011 at 5:28 pm #

    Who was Bob Browing? Was he married to Liz “Wonder Barrett” of Wimpole St. I remember her, she pitched in the Bare Ruth League.

    • danvalenti
      February 22, 2011 at 9:00 pm #

      Yes, Liz was Bobby’s main squeeze. They hit in iambs and pitched in trochees. I preferred Bobby’s high hard ones to Liz’s off speed tosses.

  3. GMHeller
    February 22, 2011 at 6:04 pm #

    Mr. Valenti:
    In Re: Israel.
    You claim:
    “…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.”

    Mr. Valenti, today you succeed in revealing to readers personal prejudices which are all too obvious.
    Just what is it about the only stable democracy in the Middle East that obsesses you?
    Is it your honest belief that Egypt’s civil unrest, Tunisia’s civil unrest, Yemen’s civil unrest, Libya’s civil unrest, Bahrain’s civil unrest, Lebanon’s civil unrest, Iran’s civil unrest, etc. are all tied somehow to the act of establishing the State of Israel in 1948?
    Can you give the name of one Palestinian leader who did not rob his own people blind whilst simultaneously acting against the best interests of Palestinians?
    Have any of the surrounding Muslim nations ever once offered to help the Palestinian cause by providing land upon which Palestinians could settle, even if only on a temporary basis?
    Israel is one of the most vibrant economies in the world.
    Compare this to the nations surrounding it.
    Would there be civil unrest in any of the nations listed above if their respective economies were doing half as well as that of Israel?
    So tell us what your real beef is, and why you seem so obsessed with Israel?

    • Jeffrey Turner
      February 23, 2011 at 4:27 pm #

      Israel is one of the most vibrant economies in the world by stealing land and water from the Palestinians, yet still needs $5 billion a year in US aid.

      I don’t think Israel caused the unrest in the Middle East right now, but Israel and the US have been working against democracy in the region for years. Netanyahoo and the Israeli government are fascist control freaks whose first response to democracy in Egypt was to look for more weapons. When the Palestinians in Gaza exercised democracy in a way they didn’t like, Netanyahoo sent in the tanks. Israel is its own worst enemy, and the US is enabling it with $5 billion a year in aid.

  4. danvalenti
    February 22, 2011 at 9:03 pm #

    GMH
    We have no beef at all with Israel, except the undeniable reading of history and the unavoidable admission of truth. What you falsely term “obsession” is simply keeping abreast of global affairs.

    • GMHeller
      February 22, 2011 at 9:21 pm #

      Your non-answer to my specific questions is telling.

      • danvalenti
        February 23, 2011 at 2:09 pm #

        PS Reuters is among the top, if not the top, source for balanced foreign news. Check it out.

        • 'Nuff said
          February 23, 2011 at 2:53 pm #

          Dan,

          Where in history do you find a Palestinian people? They did not exist in 1948. Maybe you should check with one of your spies at the BB on this.
          Read on: (From WorldNetDaily,com)

          On March 31, 1977, the Dutch newspaper Trouw published an interview with Palestine Liberation Organization executive committee member Zahir Muhsein. Here’s what he said:

          The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity. In reality today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct “Palestinian people” to oppose Zionism.

          For tactical reasons, Jordan, which is a sovereign state with defined borders, cannot raise claims to Haifa and Jaffa, while as a Palestinian, I can undoubtedly demand Haifa, Jaffa, Beer-Sheva and Jerusalem. However, the moment we reclaim our right to all of Palestine, we will not wait even a minute to unite Palestine and Jordan.

          Read more: Palestinian people do not exist http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=28222#ixzz1EoxWAoHg

          • Jeffrey Turner
            February 23, 2011 at 4:35 pm #

            WingNut Daily isn’t a news source. There have been people living in Palestine since biblical times. And for the last few centuries, up to 1948, a majority of them weren’t Jewish. In fact, until the start of the Zionist movement in the early 20th century, no more than 20% were Jewish in any census. Learn to do research.

          • just saying
            February 23, 2011 at 6:01 pm #

            @ ’nuff said

            You sir are correct that there are no “Palistinians”, however, Americas support of Israel through citizen taxpayers money is a direct violation of the Constitution, as foriegn aid is not provided for in our Founding Documents, all alligences with foriegn nations are unallowable. No disrespect meant.
            The cult of Islam encourages the mutilation of women, the killing of those called apostates, stoning of rape victims etc. The entire belief system is wrong and must be denounced as un Holy. A sick perversion of the Word of God.

          • danvalenti
            February 24, 2011 at 10:07 am #

            @ Turner
            The source is Reuters, Einstein. Pronounced ROY-TERS. Repeat now: “ROY ters.” Again. Again.
            FYI, Reuters is among the best sites for foreign news.

    • GMHeller
      February 23, 2011 at 1:29 am #

      Mr. Valenti,
      Recommend you stick to that which you actually know well, e.g. the political landscape of Pittsfield and its players.
      In Re: posting anti-Israeli propaganda from Reuters, you claim:
      “the undeniable reading of history and the unavoidable admission of truth”.
      You’re preaching total hogwash, and it makes one suspect you’ve done little — if any — actual historical research of your own into the topic.
      The present inhabitants of Gaza and West Bank (so-called Palestinians) have had countless opportunities to settle political differences with the Israeli government.
      Abba Eban, Israel’s former foreign minister, is famous for noting in 1973, after 25 years of good-faith negotiations with various Palestinian leaders, and specifically in the wake of the December 1973 so-called ‘Geneva Peace Talks’:
      “The Arabs never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.”
      You apparently blame the Israeli government for the outright ineptitude (and incredible kleptomania) of Palestinian leaders. Why are you so quick to call-out the buffoons who inhabit Pittsfield’s City Hall, but then give homage and credibility to the world-class buffoons who’ve led Palestinians?
      For example: Have you ever taken the time to research Yassir Arafat’s decades of deceptions and corruption as head of the Palestine Liberation Organization, as well as just how much he personally stole from his own people?
      SEE: ‘Arafat’s Billions’:
      http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/11/07/60minutes/main582487.shtml
      If you want to delve into Middle East politics, why not interview some Palestinians and ask them how they choose their leaders, and why they think they have been so poorly led?

      • danvalenti
        February 23, 2011 at 2:06 pm #

        GMH
        You avoid the issue. If the nation of Israel isn’t imposed on the region by the “winning” powers after WWII, the residents of Gaza and the West Bank would have no need to settle any differences. I would not justify the head of the PLO or any other inept leaders, on either side, including Arafat. He and Begin, for example, were both “freedom fighters” aka “terrorists.” Look beyond these guys. They are the inevitably corrupt byproducts of an unjust “solution” from 1948. I have done my research and reading, years of it.

        • GMHeller
          February 23, 2011 at 4:47 pm #

          Mr. Valenti,
          As Barack Obama is fond of saying, “We won!”
          You gotta problem with victors in war divvying up the spoils?
          Take it up with the British who held sway over the region since the close of World War I and the end of the Ottoman Empire, decades before the 1948 establishment of the State of Israel.

          Further, you make the ridiculous argument that “If the nation of Israel isn’t imposed on the region by the ‘winning’ powers after WWII, the residents of Gaza and the West Bank would have no need to settle any differences.”

          You would rather the Germans, Italians and Japanese had won in World War II and had then imposed their own set of solutions on the people of the Middle East?
          You would prefer that Nazis had been in charge of divying up the Middle Eastern oil fields?

          In addition, in case you hadn’t read your Bible lately, the descendants of the Twelve Tribes of the Ancient Israelites have as much historical claim to the land of Israel as do the present Arab populations of Gaza and the West Bank, so why do you give preference to the Arabs?
          You really think that had the State of Israel never been established that the region would be the powerhouse world economy that it now is?
          Had incompetent thieving boobs like Yassir Arafat been in charge since 1948, that territory would likely now be about as prosperous as Gaza and West Bank currently are.

          • danvalenti
            February 24, 2011 at 10:04 am #

            GMH
            red herrings are found in abundance in the Sea of Galilee and in your arguments pertaining to Israel, the Palestinians, and the Mideast. Perhaps we should both concentrate on the tidbits that need exposure in Berkshire County and the city of Pittsfield. That is common ground where we can shake hands, like Begin and Sadat?

  5. No Reply
    February 22, 2011 at 9:18 pm #

    @DAn, don’t listen to Glenn as he has his own preudices and obsession on display. Your remarks were right on target about Israel and the way it wags U.S. around by the tail. Great piece. Palestinians are a displaced people. What are they supposed to do? The turmoil in the mideast states surrounding Israel only makes the point you and the Reuters guy make. It takes guts to stand up to the israeli PR machine!

  6. Still wondering
    February 23, 2011 at 6:19 am #

    Dan, I am on Glenn’s side on this issue.

  7. editor
    February 23, 2011 at 6:22 am #

    Hank Steinbrenner would be a perfect addition to your blog….Big mouth with a BIG EGO!!!!!

    • editor
      February 23, 2011 at 6:22 am #

      With no Brain!!!

    • danvalenti
      February 23, 2011 at 2:00 pm #

      ed
      Never met Hal, but he would appear to fit those qualifications. Gotta admit he’s right about ballplayers building mansions and partying rather than concentrating on their jobs. Cost the Yanks deeply last year.

  8. Son of Samantha
    February 23, 2011 at 12:24 pm #

    editor
    Jeesh, you ARE dan’s biggest follower!!!! Too funny.
    Go Planet!

    • editor
      February 23, 2011 at 2:33 pm #

      Somebodys got to keep Dan in check!!!

      • danvalenti
        February 24, 2011 at 10:05 am #

        ed
        You’re doing a good job of it, too.
        Keep up the work.

  9. Rosco K. Barrett
    February 27, 2011 at 8:49 pm #

    Danny V,

    Cant agree more about MLB being to over priced for us “average joes”. Sometimes I feel that it cost a wee too much for box seats to see our home town team play a bunch of wannabees from Quebec. Also wanted to chime in on Justine Siegal… The way I see it looks like just another PR stunt from our beloved MLB. Im sure I could put a little more salt and pepper on a four seamer than that broad.