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Dodgers Need Bullpen Help, and Fast

August 12th, 2018 · No Comments · Baseball, Dodgers

Every baseball fan knows the situation in Los Angeles. The Dodgers have not won a World Series since 1988, and fans can do the math:

That’s 30 years ago.

The Dodgers owe it to their fans, who lavish a lot of money on one of the richest clubs in Major League Baseball, to push, hard, for a championship each and every year.

But as we head into the final seven weeks of the season, it appears as if management is asleep at the switch, with a major issue that needs resolution, and quickly.

The bullpen.

Don’t think about entering the playoffs without one. A good one, and the Dodgers are nowhere near that, at the moment.

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Our Long, Long Soccer Nightmare Is Over

August 10th, 2018 · 1 Comment · English Premier League, Football, France, soccer, World Cup

What are we? The proverbial “red-headed stepchildren”?

We just went 26 days without an elite soccer game being played anywhere in the world.

It was on July 15 that France defeated Croatia 4-2 to win the 2018 World Cup.

And then planet soccer went cold turkey.

None of the big European leagues in action. No international games. For nearly four weeks!

How can this be?

When will the day of sweet, sweet release arrive? When will the prisoners be freed?

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Ohtani: Give Up Pitching, Focus on Hitting

August 5th, 2018 · No Comments · Angels, Baseball

It was when Shohei Ohtani hit two home runs in a game at Cleveland two days ago that it became clear to me.

The rookie from Japan should stick to hitting.

His dream of becoming the first player since Babe Ruth, nearly a century ago, to be a regular Major League starting pitcher as well as hitter … it’s time to let that go, no matter how bitter it might be for him, as well as for his team, the Los Angeles Angels, who bent over backward to help him with his ambitious plan.

For a couple of months, it mostly worked. There’s that.

Ohtani focused on pitching the day he went to the mound, as well as the day before and the day after. He made nine starts as a pitcher, to wide acclaim, and he was impressive: an ERA of 3.10 and 4-1 record in 49.1 innings, with 61 strikeouts and a tidy 1.13 “whip”.

The rest of the time, he was the club’s designated hitter. And he was not your typical limp-bat, a-swing-and-a-prayer pitcher-as-hitter.

And then his right elbow, in his pitching arm, forced him out of the rotation after an appearance in early June. It was described as a Grade 2 sprain, an injury which usually ends in “Tommy John” reconstructive surgery.

Ohtani and the club hope that continued therapy can allow him to avoid elbow surgery, and the year-plus of rehabilitation that goes with it, and get him back in the rotation this season.

That is probably not realistic, especially when he has an option.

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‘Cooking’ in France: 100 Degrees Fahrenheit

August 4th, 2018 · No Comments · France

The French call weather like this the canicule — which pretty literally means the “dog days” of summer.

But this round of heat packs a particularly nasty bite.

France, like much of Europe, is going through what may be the hottest summer on record.

The nearest big city to where we live is Montpellier, and its record high (in Fahrenheit) was thought to be a tick under 100 degrees.

Till this week.

It seems as if the temps have broached triple digits most everywhere in France, the unwelcome crescendo to two weeks of relentless heat.

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England’s Idle Dream of Displacing Qatar in 2022

August 2nd, 2018 · No Comments · Football, Russia 2018, soccer, The National, UAE, World Cup

How many times has global soccer gone through this over the past 30 years? Three times? Four?

England, standing prepared to stage, on short notice, what appears to be a possibly amateurish — or scandal-tainted — World Cup.

Most recently, it was Russia 2018. This time it is Qatar 2022, the World Cup that has been controversial from Day 1, back in December of 2010 — when Sepp Blatter displayed the name “Qatar” as host for the 2022 World Cup.

Somehow, the tiny gas and oil exporter located on a sandspit of land thrusting into the Persian Gulf won the Fifa executive committee vote ahead of Australia, Japan, South Korea and the United States — setting off what is now nearly a decade of doubts on the legitimacy of the voting process.

The Sunday Times, a leading English newspaper, last weekend ran an interesting piece on alleged “black ops” sanctioned by Qatari officials to be run against rivals Australia and the U.S. ahead of the 2022 World Cup vote.

Almost immediately, dreamers in England were suggesting Fifa had to revisit the investigation into a process that was almost certainly corrupt … and then give the 2022 World Cup to someone else.

Like, say, England.

What are the odds of that happening?

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‘Blitzed: Drugs in the Third Reich’

August 1st, 2018 · No Comments · Books, Germany

World War II ended more than 70 years ago, and it is rare to find a new analysis of key events.

But a German journalist named Norman Ohler has managed it, in his 2016 book Blitzed: Drugs in the Third Reich — which I have finally gotten around to reading.

Ohler generally prefers the blunderbuss mode of analysis — hoping to secure hits on multiple targets/topics with one shot.

His talking points all revolve around rampant drug use inside Nazi Germany — generally, among soldiers, and particularly, by the regime’s head, Adolf Hitler.

Some of it works. Some of it works really well — and that is the bit about the importance of spearhead units, in the Battle of France, in which nearly every soldier apparently was hopped up on a substance called Pervitin — a close relative of methamphetamine.

It was the wired soldiery of Germany’s best units, including most of the army’s tank units, that was able to pierce the French front near the fortress of Sedan and then race across northern France to the North Sea, cutting off France’s mobile units and the British Expeditionary Force in Belgium, essentially deciding — in a week — the outcome of the war in the west of Europe.

This is the one part of the war in which the main theme of the author, widespread German drug use, seems to have led to a particularly important outcome.

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic: Too Good for MLS

July 30th, 2018 · No Comments · English Premier League, Football, soccer

Two things we have learned over the first half of the 2018 Major League Soccer season:

–Zlatan Ibrahimovic is the most exciting player in the league.

–Zlatan Ibrahimovic is the most underpaid player in the league.

Generic soccer fans probably knew about the first bit of information, and if they did not his three-goal match in a 4-3 victory over Orlando City last night reinforces his status “most exciting player.”

“Ibra” now has 15 goals in only 17 LA Galaxy matches, during which he has returned the club to its preferred status as the most prominent team in North America.

And the second note? According to numbers released in May by the MLS Players Association, Ibrahimovic is being paid “only” $1.5 million. Which places him fourth — not in the league, but on the Galaxy.

Giovani dos Santos is getting $6 million this season. His brother, Jonathan will be paid $2 million. And Romain Alessandrini is making $1.87 mil.

None of those guys offer even a half-ass imitation of what Zlatan brings to the game.

He knows he is too good for MLS but, showing extreme self-discipline, he has not yet said exactly that — though he comes close to it in this interview at the team’s training facility.

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The Redemption of Matt Kemp

July 28th, 2018 · 1 Comment · Baseball, Dodgers

The Dodgers publicity release landed in my inbox earlier this week, and I was flabbergasted. Dumbfounded. Gobsmacked.

Confused.

The title of the email:

“Matt Kemp Wins Los Angeles Dodgers Heart and Hustle Award

(Emphasis added.)

My first thought was a silly one: Is there another Matt Kemp in baseball?

There was a Steve Kemp, a pretty good outfielder with Detroit in the late 1970s/early 1980s, but that guy never played with the Dodgers. Another Kemp is currently active, the tiny Houston infielder named Tony Kemp. But this clearly was not him.

No, it was the Matt Kemp whom Dodgers fans came to know from 2006 through 2014. The gifted guy who established a reputation for nice numbers on offense — but also for a wandering mind, poor decision-making and talent untested.

The one the Dodgers got rid of ahead of the 2015 season … just to have him gone.

And now he gets this citation from an organization called the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association … and what we have here is a full-blown redemption story.

And we love redemption stories!

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Ten Secret Tricks for Weight Loss!

July 27th, 2018 · No Comments · Spam

No, this is not spam. Though it looks a bit like it.

Hardly a day goes by that I do not get an email from a random person/machine offering to “fix” my website.

Having worked in newspapers for most of four decades, even now my first reaction is to think of “errors” in a journalism sense.

“Wait, what? Did someone notice a couple of hedbusts on this blog? Too many typos in text? ‘Who’ and ‘whom’ embarrassingly swapped?”

What it is, of course, is people attempting to make money off some sap (that would be me) who has an under-the-radar site — like, say, this one.

From the perspective of the “helpers” … maybe, just maybe, I am silly enough to send them money to tinker with something on the blog that will drive thousands of people to the site.

Turns out, I’m not that silly, and the shifty people out there in the spam-i-verse are barking up the wrong tree.

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Which NBA Jerseys Are Euros Buying?

July 25th, 2018 · No Comments · Basketball, Lakers, NBA

No need to be an international NBA fan to guess the answer to that one. The top-two selling jerseys, at the least.

That would be LeBron James, No. 1, as he should be, and Stephen Curry, three-time NBA champion.

The NBA recently posted lists on the top 10 jerseys sold in Europe, during the 2017-18 season, via the e-commerce outlet NBAStore.eu

The league also has sorted jerseys by team, ranking the top five among the 30 NBA franchises.

How many of the 10 players and five teams can you name? What are Euro fans buying?

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