HOT SHEET: This post affirms all your confirmation biases and also talks about Busch Light and ranch dressing

Thursday, Oct. 8, 2020

From the desk of Daniel P. Finney, sergeant of the watch, Drake Neighborhood Station, Des Moines, Iowa.

ITEM ONE: Watching the New York Yankees this season and in the playoffs has provided about as much joy as chewing aluminum foil. Where have you gone, Mariano Rivera? Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you.

ITEM TWO: I filled out my absentee ballot in the front seat of my battered Dodge Charger. I mailed the ballot about 11 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020. I voted. I decline to say who I voted for, but incumbents did well at least on the soil and water commission and county hospital board of trustees.

ITEM THREE: Anyone who calls me, sends me mail or otherwise shows up in my feed jibber-jabbering about their favorite candidate or how their opponent will destroy America like Godzilla far gone on cocaine and Guinness, please see Item Two and fuck right off.

ITEM IV: Please welcome Item IV, who replaces Item 4 who had replaced the late Item Four. Anything you’d like to say to the Hot Sheet audience, Item IV? “Yes. Thank you. We’ve got to play them one day at a time. I’m happy to be here and hope I can help with the ball club. … Hey, Item Five? Is that … is that a Caesar salad you’re eating? Is this some kind of ethnic joke you’re making because of my Roman heritage? I say unto thee, I shall not let such a slight pass. CRY HAVOC AND LET SLIP THE DOGS OF WAR!”

ITEM FIVE: Shit. What is it with these guys in the four slot?

ITEM SIX: Hawkeyes. Cyclones. Murder. Busch Light. Best tenderloin. Ranch dressing. The typist doesn’t have anything to say about these topics. He simply includes them because he’s trying to pander to the people who can only talk about these things by tricking search engines to get said audience to click on this website by accident.

ITEM SEVEN: The preceding item was a joke, but I guarantee you pandering and trickery are the primary drivers of news judgment in most corporate news outlets today.

ITEM EIGHT: It’s probably too late to mention this, but aren’t the challengers who spit out the words “politician” and “Washington insider” seeking to become exactly the same thing?

ITEM NINE: Belated new comics Wednesday recommendations:

  • Batman: The Three Jokers concludes its excellent three-issue run on Oct. 28. Pick up the first two issues at your local funny book shop. The exploration of the fractured relationship between Batman and Jason Todd, the second Robin, engages fresh character development in the Bat Family. It also challenges the wisdom of Batman bringing his surrogate children into a war with super psychopaths capable of such villainy as paralyzing Batgirl and murdering the second Robin. (He got better. It’s comics.)
  • Marvel Fanfare No. 10 Facsimile Edition features one of the best Black Widow stories in the character’s history from 1982. These facsimile editions are fun to both read a comic with its original advertising and have to display. This one is an especially good value because the artwork is by master craftsman George Perez.
  • Wonder Woman No. 1 Facsimile Edition (1987) reprints the late 1980s reboot for Wonder Woman. And how lucky are we to get two reprints of George Perez’s artwork in the same month. Both the Wonder Woman and the Black Widow reprints were meant to hype movies — “WW84” and “Black Widow” — whose release dates were delayed due to the pandemic.

ITEM LAST: The Chicago Bears play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a pro football game Thursday night. The typist has night class and will miss the first part of the game. He will periodically punch himself in the face to simulate the experience of rooting for the Bears.

Daniel P. Finney is a middle-aged loner on a crusade to champion the cause of the semicolon, the emdash, the pilcrow in a world where criminals operate above the paragraphs.

Cut loose and cashiered by corporate media, lone paragraph stacker Daniel P. Finney makes his way telling stories about his city, state and nation. No more metrics or Google trends, he writes stories about people and life ignored by the oligarchy.

ParagraphStacker.com is free, reader-supported media. Please consider donating to help me cover personal expenses as I launch this new venture continuing the journalism you’ve demanded. Visit paypal.me/paragraphstacker.

Moments: What we can all learn about 2020 from the last day of the 1951 baseball season

Today is the last day of the Major League Baseball season.

Well, maybe.

It depends on how the St. Louis Cardinals do. They might have to play as many as two more games after today because of byzantine complications brought about by a COVID-19-shortened season that proved acute in the Cardinals’ clubhouse.

The Cardinals play for a playoff berth, a customary position for the team that trails only the New York Yankees in World Series titles won.

Another St. Louis team played for another kind of glory some 69 years ago — one that I think provides a lesson for this rugged year.

The current Baltimore Orioles once played in St. Louis as the St. Louis Browns.

They shared Sportsman’s Park with the Cardinals, but they seldom matched the success of their roommates.

Writers described St. Louis, once an industrial titan in footwear and, of course, Budweiser beer: “First in booze, first in shoes, last in the American League.”

That certainly held true in 1951. The Browns won 52 games against 102 losses and finished the year 46 games behind the New York Yankees.

But on Sunday, Sept. 30, Pitcher Ned Garver took the mound in pursuit of his 20th win.

Garver held the curious distinction of being the best player on the worst team in the league. He pitched 24 complete games in 30 starts and won 19 games with 12 losses.

Garver had won nearly 40 percent of the team’s games that year.

He possessed athleticism so great that when pitched, manager Zach Taylor batted Garver sixth. Garver hit .305 that season, an average the beat all the Browns’ regular position players.

The season had been a joke in which Browns owner Bill Veeck made the team its own punchline. Veeck signed 3-foot-7 Eddie Gaedel to a one-game contract. Gaedel came to bat as a first-inning pinch-hitter in the second game of a doubleheader against Detroit.

Detroit pitcher Bob Cain tried to squeeze a ball into Gaedel’s strike zone, estimated at being less than 2 inches tall. Gaedel walked on four pitches and was replaced by a pinch-runner.

Garver, though, was a serious star for the Browns. Boston Red Sox hitting savant Ted Williams once said of Garver: “He could throw anything up there and get me out.”

(The Splendid Splitter was being generous. He batted .419 against Garver.)

The Chicago White Sox were in St. Louis for the final series of the year. The White Sox played to a more respectable fourth in the American League that season but were well out of the hunt that Sunday at Sportsman’s Park.

Garver retired the side in order in the first. He allowed a single to Ray Coleman in the second and walked Bud Stewart, before getting out of trouble with a strikeout and a groundout.

The Browns scored twice in the bottom of the first, including an RBI single by Garver to centerfield.

Staked to a 2-0 lead, however, Garver faltered in third and surrendered a two-run single to Ray Coleman with two outs in the frame.

St. Louis’ Earl Rapp singled in two more runs for the Browns in the third to put them up 4-2.

Again, Garver struggled with a lead. Chicago’s Joe DeMaestri hit a two-run home run to tie the game.

Garver made up for his own struggles by hitting a home run in the bottom of the fourth off Chicago’s Randy Gumpert. The Browns again led 5-4.

Garver settled and allowed just one more run on a fielder’s choice in the top of the eighth inning.

The Browns scored four more times, including a two-run home run by Fred Marsh in the fifth.

The Browns won 9-5 and Garver, the kid from the village of Ney, Ohio, pop. 350, won his 20th game.

Garver became just the second pitcher in Major League Baseball history to win 20 games for a team with 100 or more losses — and the only one to do so with a winning record.

(Irv Young went 20-21 for the Boston Braves in 1905.)

The lesson of Garver’s 20-win season should be obvious for our age. The year 2020 has been one of loss and derision from the pandemic to politics.

At times, we’ve made ourselves the punchline to the world.

But in 1951, once every four or five days, Ned Garver took the mound for the Browns and they were as good or better than any team in the American League.

We should all seek our inner Ned Garver. We should seek to be our very best even when those around us and circumstances produce the very worst.

Garver did not win those 20 games alone. He was one of nine in the lineup each game he pitched.

Those men who otherwise struggled to produce wins raised their level of play because the man on the mound knew how to win in way that they otherwise did not.

Garver could have easily thrown away the 1951 season. He could have been a joke, like Eddie Gaedel.

He chose, instead, to be outstanding.

Though the baseball season (maybe) ends today, the year 2020 is far from finished.

Remember Ned Garver and go out each day with intent to succeed.

We can still rise to be our very best amidst this parade of horrible.

Daniel P. Finney is too legit, too legit to quit.

Cut loose and cashiered by corporate media, lone paragraph stacker Daniel P. Finney makes his way telling stories about his city, state and nation. No more metrics or Google trends, he writes stories about people and life ignored by the oligarchy.

ParagraphStacker.com is free, reader-supported media. Please consider donating to help me cover personal expenses as I launch this new venture continuing the journalism you’ve demanded. Visit paypal.me/paragraphstacker.

HOT SHEET: #OldManStudent update, NFL notes, Iowa celebrates small COVID-19 gain, absentee ballot confusion and police success stories

From the desk of Daniel P. Finney, sergeant of the watch, Drake Precinct Station.

ITEM ONE: Update on #OldManStudent. The ol’ Paragraph Stacker takes all his classes online via Zoom meetings at Drake University. This format works better than anticipated, but there are pitfalls. Example: Your typist’s bathroom is about 12 feet from his computer. Always remember to mute your microphone when you answer nature’s call because mics will pick up certain sounds one would just as soon remain private.

ITEM TWO: Other Zoom meeting notes: No one looks good eating a sub sandwich on camera. If you happen to have the NFL season opener on in the background, mute the TV and make sure the TV is not in direct line of the camera.

ITEM THREE: The NFL season began Thursday. The defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs beat the Houston Texans. It still feels odd to say “defending champion Kansas City Chiefs,” perhaps the only good thing to occur in 2020. Then again, I’m old enough that it feels weird not to say Houston Oilers. The Bears also did well Thursday evening. The team owes this mostly to not having played.

ITEM FOUR: The typist turns almost all his sporting attention to pro football. His beloved New York Yankees cling to the eighth seed in the American League playoffs. This spot only exists because baseball executives expanded the playoffs to make up for the coronavirus-shortened 60-game regular season. The ol’ Paragraph Stacker questions the wisdom of Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman’s “protect all prospects” approach. The typist grimly notes the Chicago Cubs and Kansas City Royals have won more World Series in the last decade than the Yankees. The Yankee batters may be “savages in the box,” but they’re sad sacks in the standings.

ITEM FIVE: Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds held a press conference to celebrate Iowa dropping from No. 1 in coronavirus spread to No. 3. Wow. What an accomplishment. What did Reynolds do, bus some people to Missouri?

ITEM SIX: Just a day after Hot Sheet warned of absentee ballot confusion from well-meaning non-profits, two Iowa judges ruled absentee request forms that were pre-filled with the voter’s name and address were improper, per the Associated Press. The county auditors in Woodbury and Johnson counties sent the request forms to make it easier for people to seek absentee ballots during the COVID-19 pandemic. Again, the typist supports efforts to increase voter turnout. However, at some point people must take responsibility for themselves — especially in challenging circumstances. To quote retired Drake University professor Herb Strentz, “Democracy is not a spectator sport.”

ITEM SEVEN: Recommended viewing for the weekend:

  • Louisiana at Iowa State, noon, Saturday, ESPN. The Cyclones are playing without fans in the stands and the Hawkeyes aren’t playing until spring. Regardless of your allegiance in the Cy-Hawk rivalry, you might as well give ISU your eyeballs.
  • Philadelphia Eagles at the Washington Football Team, noon, Sunday, regional coverage. Hot Sheet knows no teams of regional interest play in this game, but we want to see how many times the announcers accidentally say “Redskins” and then fall all over themselves to apologize.
  • The Boys, Season 2, streaming on Amazon Prime: Superheroes with sex, blood and breast milk reheated with heat vision. I’m not making this up.

ITEM LAST: Lest we be cajoled into thinking the local constabulary only makes news in officer-involved shootings or amid racial tensions, Hot Sheet turns your attention to three items of note in the most recent Des Moines city news letter.

  • Chief Dana Wingert promoted Lillie Miller to captain, naming her the first Black female captain in the department’s history. Miller, an officer since 1999, was also the department’s first Black female lieutenant under former chief Judy Bradshaw.
  • Jeff Edwards, a former public information officer and DMPD Medal of Valor recipient also attained his captaincy.
  • Wingert recognized Senior Police Officer Scott Newman, a 21-year veteran and a member of the department’s tactical unit, with the DMPD Lifesaving Award. Newman rescued five people from a burning car wreck on his way home from work early July 5.

The typist takes a lot of heat from liberal extremists for his support of police. That’s fine. Honorable people disagree. And who gives a damn what dishonorable people think? The ol’ Paragraph Stacker recognizes every police department has problems. No one lives in a utopia. But the typist notes that no matter how bad things get, no matter how many people hate them — when the shit breaks bad and the citizenry cries out for help, the police come running.

OK. That’s it. Listen to our podcast. Be careful out there and, as always, donations welcome and appreciated.

Behave and be kind.

Daniel P. Finney hopes Rick will finally return him to Earth C-137.

Cut loose and cashiered by corporate media, lone paragraph stacker Daniel P. Finney makes his way poking fun at the passing parade.

ParagraphStacker.com is free, reader-supported media. Please consider donating to help me cover personal expenses as I launch this new venture continuing the journalism you’ve demanded. Visit paypal.me/paragraphstacker.