HOT SHEET: Only fools watch the debate when the baseball playoffs are on

Item Last!

Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2020

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

ITEM ONE: President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden met in what was loosely described as a “debate” Tuesday somewhere in America. The typist didn’t watch a frame of it. He watched the New York Yankees defeat Cleveland in the first round of the baseball playoffs. The typist doesn’t understand why any thinking person would watch the presidential debates this election year. Here is the test: If you support Trump, is there anything he could say or do in the debate that would change your mind? Based on his cumulative behavior to this point, it’s hard to imagine anything Trump could do that would alienate his legions of followers. Conversely, Biden could have fallen asleep on his lectern and farted loudly for 15 minutes straight and it would not have cost him any votes. What’s the point? You can watch this low-rent political theater if you want, but in the end there is only one thing any of us can do: vote. Or not. Either way the Yankees are up one game on Cleveland.

ITEM TWO: If you want to duck sports and the campaigns, the typist recommends the Iowa Concert of Hope, a benefit for those in Cedar Rapids, Marion and Hiawatha who were battered by the derecho Aug. 10. Mediacom has pledged to air the concert statewide. In Des Moines, the concert is set to air 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday on Mediacom channel 22.

ITEM THREE: Back to baseball: Major League Baseball runs ads throughout the playoffs talking about how the current generation of players are hip, young and flashy. The spots are replete with colorful graphics in the hip-hop style. Yet, when an extra-inning game between the Cincinnati Reds and Atlanta Braves was on, ESPN lead blabbermouth Alex Rodriguez groaned because there were no sacrifice bunts. Bunts. What is synonymous with hip and new excitement but a bunt? A-Rod, who made no sac bunt attempts in the last 15 years of his career, would have been better served to say what the teams really needed to do was to have a clubhouse boy shoot them in the butt with steroids before the game to crack more homers in the playoffs.

ITEM FOUR: Unavailable due to COVID-19 quarantine.

ITEM FIVE: A belated happy anniversary to Iowa women’s basketball coach Lisa Bluder and her husband, Dave, two of the finest humans the typist has ever had the pleasure of knowing.

ITEM LAST: A rare fine arts recommendation: The typist’s East High School classmate, Megan Gogerty, has made a movie for Theatre Cedar Rapids called “Feel Better.” It’s available via the web at 7:30 p.m. both Friday and Saturday. Check out TCR’s website for details. Tickets are $25. The ol’ Paragraph Stacker notes that Gogerty is the funniest, most talented person he’s ever met and easily the best writer he’s ever known.

OK, let’s close the book on this one. Donate if you can. It’s getting tight up in here at the middle of the semester. New podcast coming this weekend. Behave and be kind.

Daniel P. Finney crosses his arms in a non-verbal attempt to keep people from talking to him. The smile is a lie.

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.

Dear MLB players and owners: 2020 stinks and you’re making it worse

Photo: Ben Hershey via Unsplash

Dear Major League Baseball,
This year is awful enough and you’re making it worse.
Play ball already.

I get it. The coronavirus pandemic is a brutal bummer that’s fouled up just about everything in this country.

Whatever you do, someone is going to complain about it. That’s the nature of American discourse at this point.

That’s also the nature of baseball. We are fans who worry about the kind of chalk used to mark the first- and third-base lines. We don’t take well to new things.

But the thing we take to even less well is no baseball.

Remember 1994? 

Surely it takes more than 26 years for you to forget the strike that cancelled the World Series and bred a year’s worth of some of the most visceral anger ever seen outside of an MMA cage.

You screwed over the Montreal Expos’ one great chance to make the World Series. 

You may have ripped Don Mattingly’s best chance of winning the pennant out of the hands of the longtime New York Yankees first baseman. 

Both teams had the best records in their leagues when the strike wrecked the summer.

That was pain you brought on yourselves. No true fan really cares how much the owners and players make. They care about the game. 

They want to root, root, root for the home team, eat popcorn and ice cream, maybe throw 41 mph on the pitching machine under the stands.

They want to teach their kids how to keep score and why the outfielders and infielders move around when the big sluggers come up to bat.

They want to smell fresh-cut grass and stale domestic beer.

So in the pandemic, the fans can’t go to the parks. That stinks, but you better believe we would watch on TV.

Hell, we’ve been watching Korean baseball at 4 a.m.

Yesterday, we caught ourselves watching a video game competition on the internet.

Please, please, please play some games.

Nobody really cares how many games: 82, 114, 76 or 89.

Just play.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Derrick Gould, who covers the Cardinals, tweeted this: “There are more reasons for there to be baseball than reasons for there not to be. I see more ways for MLB to return and play than ways it does not happen.”

That sounds positive. Derrick is a smart guy, even-handed, not the kind of guy who goes around throwing his opinions about like a lunatic. That’s what I do.

I started to feel a little swell in my chest that things were going to finally be OK.

But the old journalistic maxim is: “If your mother tells you she loves you, check it out.” (This kind of talk is probably why most of America hates us.)

Against my better judgement, I texted Michael Gartner, owner of the Iowa Cubs. I asked if he thought they would get any games in at Principal Park this season.

“I don’t know,” he wrote back. “I don’t think anyone knows.”

Damnit.

Look, baseball is entertainment. Of the problems this country faces right now from the pandemic to confronting racism, baseball should be low on the list.

That said, everybody — even the most ardent protester, even the most socially distanced first responder, even the most unemployed independent newsman — needs a break.

And baseball is the break we need.

No, I don’t want owners to go broke for short-term good tidings. 

And, yes, I want players to be compensated for the risks they take playing in the middle of a pandemic.

I don’t know what the right number is for either of those problems.

What both players and owners should aim for is a July 4 start. It’s a Saturday. It’s the middle of summer. Fireworks at every stadium. 

Everybody understands 2020 is screwed. It won’t be like other summers, especially if there’s only a few or no fans at the park.

Noted and accepted.

Now, play ball.

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.