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« July 2021 | Main | September 2021 »

August 30, 2021

Pitch Switch

Pitchers are odd creatures who have chosen an exceptionally challenging and difficult task. We ask them to hurl an approximately five-ounce sphere with a circumference of about nine inches up to 100 miles per hour with accuracy and movement. Some attempt to perfect a more leisurely approach of dips and curves at a slower speed, all destined to trick the foe into a mind game of guessing.

A batter stands at home plate every other inning or maybe once in three innings. No such luxury for the poor pitchers. Nothing happens until the ball leaves their hand either from the right or left side. Whether the ball winds up in the catcher's mitt for strike three or in the centerfield bleachers, there always is another batter striding to home plate. The job is not to be envied.

Last weekend's three-game series between the Cubs and Sox portrayed this drama with clarity and suspense. The Cubs' Alec Mills and the Sox's Reynaldo Lopez excelled at the craft of major league pitching. Mills used an assortment of slow stuff Saturday for 8⅓ innings, blanking the team that had scored 17 times 12 hours earlier. Lopez transformed the game on Friday night by retiring all 14 hitters he faced. The enforced moratorium enabled Lopez's mates to slug the ball all over The Grate, overcoming what was initially a 6-0 deficit.

Meanwhile, veterans Dallas Keuchel of the Sox and Kyle Hendricks from the Cubs were treated harshly whereby all their cunning and expertise went for naught. One might have thought that Keuchel and Hendricks were going to shine while Mills and Lopez would be routed early, but that's why they play the games.

Friday night's four-hour, nine-minute marathon featured 12 pitchers - seven employed by the North Side visitors - who delivered an astounding 382 pitches. Thirty runs were scored along with 28 hits, 14 strikeouts, 12 walks, and six home runs.

Keuchel was absolutely dismal, a pattern that has become far too familiar for Sox fans. When Sox skipper Tony La Russa trudged to the mound to remove the veteran lefty in the top of the second, the boos rained down from all corners of The Grate.

La Russa summoned Lopez, a fellow who basically pitched himself into oblivion in spring training. With Lopez mowing down the opposition, the Sox wasted no time by scoring eight runs in the third inning for a 9-6 lead.

What also is noteworthy is that the three Sox pitchers - Mike Wright Jr., Garrett Crochet and Craig Kimbrel - who followed Lopez had about as much luck as Keuchel as the Cubs scored seven times in the final three innings for the final 17-13 count.

Granted that the Sox attacked Cub pitching for 15 hits, highlighted by the return of catcher Yasmani Grandal, who launched two homers and drove in eight runs, but without Lopez stymieing the foe, the outcome would have been in doubt.

Keuchel and Lopez appear to be on antithetical paths. Last season few pitchers were more effective than Keuchel over the 60-game schedule. He started 11 games, going 6-2 with an ERA of 1.99 (3.08 FIP), third in all of baseball to the two Cy Young Award winners, Trevor Bauer and Shane Bieber. In 63⅓ innings, Keuchel was nicked for just two home runs in this homer-happy era. So far this season Keuchel has given up 23 round-trippers in 136⅔ innings.

In June of this season in five starts, Keuchel won two of three decisions with an ERA of 2.70, lowering his season mark at that time to 3.96. In his 10 assignments the past two months, Keuchel has pitched just one game in which he was effective, a seven-inning stint against the woefully weak Baltimore Orioles that the Sox won 12-1. Today his ERA sits at 5.00 (5.28 FIP). His status for post-season play is questionable. Without the need of a five-man rotation, Keuchel will be the odd-man out.

So what happened? Keuchel says he's healthy and seems as puzzled by his ineptitude as La Russa or pitching coach Ethan Katz. Perhaps he's simply tired or maybe at age 33, his career is in jeopardy. We've seen this before.

As mentioned, Hendricks has a similar style to Keuchel. Both have to hit their spots with a mix of pitches. Hendricks was inconsistent on Saturday and eventually succumbed to the Sox attack in the fifth inning after Eloy Jiménez's three-run homer made the score 8-1.

Hendricks has been far more effective this season than Keuchel, but he paid for his mistakes Sunday as Luis Robert and Brian Goodwin also homered off the Cub ace.

As robust as the Sox attack was on Friday and Sunday, the slow-baller Mills completely baffled the South Siders on Saturday as the Cubs won 7-0. A week prior against Kansas City, Mills was battered for seven runs in four innings. But not Saturday, when he fanned just three hitters but primarily kept the Sox sluggers off-balance with an assortment of pitches in a variety of locations. The guy has had a checkered career pitching on the North Side for parts of the last four seasons. His no-hitter against the Brewers last September obviously has been the high point, but Saturday's performance must rank as No. 2.

Lopez, meanwhile, has been as effective as any Sox hurler since he was recalled from Charlotte in mid-July. He's appeared in 13 games, four as a starter, amassing 34 innings of work in which he given up only 17 hits while striking out 37 and walking only seven. His ERA stands at a sparkling 1.59 (2.75 FIP).

Keuchel's precipitous fall from grace is as confusing as Lopez's emergence as an effective big league pitcher. Since the Sox traded for him five years ago in the Adam Eaton deal with Washington, Lopez has been tagged as a guy with a huge upside who's never come close to realizing his potential. Can this be the real Reynaldo Lopez we've been seeing?

That question has as much chance of being answered as, "Is this the end of Dallas Keuchel?"

History tells us that outstanding pitchers are not always dominant from the outset. Nurturing, experience, and maturation all play a part. Sandy Koufax, the greatest pitcher I ever saw, was 36-40 with a 4.10 ERA in his first six seasons (he came up as a rookie when he was 19) and then went 129-47 and 2.19 in his final six campaigns.

Nolan Ryan also debuted at 19 and had a 29-38 record in his first five seasons in which he walked more than six batters per nine innings, a statistic that stayed with him his entire 27-year career. However, he used his wildness to his advantage since most every batter he faced battled fear as well as another mortal human being. Ryan's 2,795 walks are the most all-time but so are his 5,714 strikeouts.

We'll just have to wait to see what the future holds for Lopez, and, for that matter, Keuchel, who is contracted to earn $18 million from the Sox next season.

What we can count on is that the White Sox pitching staff will dictate how far this club will go in 2021. With the healthy lineup that they now display, La Russa's charges will score often. However, when they run into a guy like Mills on Saturday, it won't matter that they have all these potent bats. They'll need pitchers who can match someone like Mills. I kind of like the prospect both of the Sox starters and the bullpen. But we're talking pitchers here, and, for better or worse, surprises occur on a regular basis.

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Former Bill Veeck bar buddy Roger Wallenstein is our White Sox correspondent. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:55 AM | Permalink

U.S. Open Begins Under Match-Fixing Shadow

When the U.S. Open starts Monday in Flushing Meadows, the prospect of fame and prize money will attract some of the world's top tennis players, with $2.5 million awaiting winners of the finals and $75,000 for those eliminated in round one.

But athletes can face another temptation in the high-stakes world of Grand Slam tennis: In the past year, both Wimbledon and the French Open were marked by suspicions of match-fixing flagged by monitors hired to insure the integrity of the sport.

Match-fixing is the deliberate manipulation of sports events, involving betting on previously agreed wins, defeats or even just individual games in a match. A boom in online sports betting is raising the potential earnings and stakes.

Two matches last month at Wimbledon 2021 - the most important tennis tournament in the world - remain under suspicion of match-fixing. Several betting providers raised the alarm about conspicuous abnormal betting patterns, as reported by the German newspaper Die Welt.

The International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA), which handles match-fixing investigations on behalf of the four major tournament organizers, including the U.S. Open, confirmed the alerts and launched an ongoing investigation. Monitoring companies that oversee the global betting market confirmed the abnormal betting patterns, too.

In France, police arrested Russian player Yana Sizikova in June for a possible fixed match at the 2020 French Open, also a Grand Slam event. She was released shortly after and the investigation is ongoing.

In July, Sizikova sued for libel and slander in response to the allegations, against an "unknown person." "Yana Sizikova intends to have her status as a victim in this case fully recognized and to ensure that those who started rumors damaging her reputation are prosecuted and convicted," her attorney told the Associated Press.

Sizikova posted on Instagram: "This is protest not only for me specifically, but also for all athletes who have been unfairly convicted by 'bloggers' on Internet and who should not be victims of the online betting industry." Sources for news coverage, she continued, "like to embellish and add non-existent details as much as possible."

The International Tennis Federation, the governing body of the sport, is under pressure to maintain the game's integrity following numerous cases of suspected or confirmed match-fixing going back years.

A spokesman for the ITIA, Adrian Bassett, said that the risk of match-fixing at the U.S. Open "is low - but still present."

The group will continue working with the betting industry "to ensure any suspicious activity is monitored."

The U.S. Open did not respond to requests for comment.

FBI Expressed Interest

Monitoring firms are not alone in eyeing the U.S. Open for possible match-fixing. Investigators from the Federal Bureau of Investigation have also expressed interest in the tournament's integrity, a member of European law enforcement involved in tennis corruption probes told THE CITY.

"American investigators asked me in 2019 if they should worry about manipulation at the U.S. Open," said Eric Bisschop, Belgium's vice federal prosecutor.

The FBI did not comment in response to a request from THE CITY.

At the time, Bisschop's team was investigating the biggest match-fixing scandal in world tennis in recent years. An organized crime group had been bribing players since 2014 to fix matches at lower-level tournaments worldwide.

In total, prosecutors identified 137 players suspected of fixing or attempted fixing. Raids took place in the U.S. and several European countries. At least twenty people involved were arrested, with charges that included corruption, money laundering, forgery and membership of a criminal organization. Related investigations are ongoing.

French players admitted in interrogations that they had participated in the fraud out of financial pressure in a sport where costs for coaches, hotels, flights, doctors and equipment quickly add up to $100,000 a year or more.

The ITIA says it has beefed up its security measures since.

"Our education team is already present at the U.S. Open undertaking face to face sessions with players and tournament staff, setting out what to look out for and how to report suspicious activity to the ITIA", Bassett said.

Brazen Recruitment

Match-fixing expert Stefano Berlincioni doesn't think much of the assurances of those in charge of world tennis.

"There's no reason for fixers to stop their activities," said the Italian in an interview with THE CITY. "It's one match-fixing scandal after another and the players involved are just allowed to get on with it." For people like him who follow tennis closely, he said, it's frustrating.

Berlincioni, who hates match-fixing and informs his 5,500 followers on Twitter about suspicious games, has been following tournaments at lower and highest levels for years.

"There are so many professionals involved that it would simply be a disaster for ITIA to ban all players" involved, he said.

Officially, the ITIA has received 46 match alerts this year and has issued sanctions, including suspensions, to 11 players in 2021 as of July 14. This is roughly in line with the figures for the first half of 2019, when there were 54 alerts.

U.S. players are among those who have been sanctioned by the ITIA. Among them is Nikita Kryvonos, who in 2017 was banned for 10 years and fined $20,000 after being found to have breached anti-corruption rules, including match-fixing.

On a list of suspicious games from 2020 obtained by THE CITY, nine other matches from lower-tier tournaments in the U.S. are flagged as suspicious based on betting patterns.

Berlincioni said that in the case of the suspicious match at the French Open 2020, he could immediately see something amiss.

Even before French police announced the launch of an investigation, Berlincioni shared a video clip of the match on Twitter. The footage of the suspicious fifth game in set two shows Sizikova, from Russia, causing two double faults in short order. She appears to slip easily when she loses another point. Several bookmakers raised the alarm about conspicuous betting patterns.

Sizikova did not respond to a recent inquiry from THE CITY. On Instagram, she wrote a post in July complaining that athletes like her were allegedly being "unfairly convicted." And further: "Lately, everyone thinks that anything can be done to the Russians."

Marco Trungelliti, 29, tennis pro from Santiago del Estero in Argentina, is among the small number of players who've blown the whistle on match-fixing. He says he was contacted by match-fixers himself via Facebook in 2015. They initially offered him a "sponsorship," he recounted, which after a few meetings turned out to be a paraphrase for a match-fixing offer.

When he reported the recruitment attempt to ITIA investigators, the Argentine also testified against other professionals who, to his knowledge, were manipulating the sport. Several players ultimately received suspensions and fines.

Trungelliti reports that he received hostile looks on the tennis tour after his statements. He reports a kind of omertà, a never-spoken pact: "Actually, everyone has internalized that you have to keep quiet about these things in public," he told THE CITY.

Sports Betting Outpaces Laws

The explosion in online sports betting has raised the stakes for tennis tournaments. In many countries, anyone can create a profile online with just a few clicks and be rewarded with a whopping welcome bonus. Bets can be placed on almost any sport, from soccer, horse racing, and cricket to eSports, around the globe, around the clock, and all in the craziest combinations.

It is lucrative for criminals to cheat at the major Grand Slam tennis tournaments, as significantly higher betting stakes are possible there. Berlinconi explains that on a first round match at the U.S. Open, several tens of thousands of dollars can easily be placed on one bet across different accounts. In this way, turnovers of several hundred thousand dollars are possible with one bet on a specific game during a set.

Experts put the annual global turnover in sports betting at around $1.7 trillion - a tempting target for organized criminals to exploit.

The European police agency Europol called organized crime groups "heavily involved" in sports corruption in tennis and soccer.

Sergio D'Orsi of Europol told German newspaper Welt Am Sonntage: "Criminal syndicates and mafia groups worldwide use match-fixing to generate and launder money. Match fixing is a very profitable 'low risk, high profit' business for criminals."

Around 65% of the global betting market allegedly takes place in Asia, the vast majority of it operating illegally, according to D'Orsi. Cryptocurrencies add to the challenge of investigating money flows.

Online sports betting is booming in the U.S., following a 2018 Supreme Court decision that struck down a federal law that had banned commercial sports betting in most states. New York took a relatively cautious path under former Gov. Andrew Cuomo, allowing sports betting only in four casinos, all outside New York City.

The state Gaming Commission is currently considering bids for two proposed licenses for online sports betting. Among the applicants are leading global online betting providers such as Hillside (bet365) and Betfair, as well as a consortium of casino operators. As reported by Bloomberg, Jay-Z has also joined the New York bidding alongside sports-merchandise company Fanatics.

Yet as online sports betting races ahead, U.S. laws have not kept up with the related risk of match-fixing, warns Brooklyn Law School professor Jodi Balsam - New York included. That could leave local prosecutors flat-footed.

"For example, the New York penal code targets only bribery in sports, that is, bribing a player or other game participant to fix a game. But the laws do not address, for example, manipulation by individual game participants acting on their own," Balsam said in an interview with THE CITY.

"To better crack down on match fixing, we would need to make cheating in sporting events a criminal offense in the U.S.," Balsam said. "That already exists in some European countries after a number of prosecutions failed because the laws weren't specific enough."

-

Previously:

* Game, Set, Match-Fixing.

* Who's Behind The Tennis Racket?

* Whistleblower Spurned By Players For Exposing Tennis Crooks.

-

Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:19 AM | Permalink

August 29, 2021

TrackNotes: Bite A Nose

I wonder if Carly Simon knew of what she sang in my context, but when anticipation is fulfilled as it was with Saturday's Travers Day racing festivities, it was the good old days.

We had dramatic performances, a sad but not deadly development, savagery, and demonstrations of just what makes up champions.

I'll get this out of the way. Honestly, I was curious to see if Bob Baffert, who had two runners on the day, was in Saratoga. Thankfully, he wasn't, and all seemed primed for enjoyment. He didn't win a race either.

Please scroll down to watch the videos because even if you are not a bettor or even watcher, these performances are what make racing so compelling. Fox guys like former jockeys Gary Stevens and Richard Migliore sound on Sunday the day after like they'd have loved to be in a few of those saddles.

For race eight, The Forego, both Yaupon and Firenze Fire put me out of my wagers right away, as they fashioned the lead early on. Spinning into the stretch, Yaupon maintained a head/neck lead.

If you don't believe those nature films of wild mustangs, please do. At the eighth pole, Firenze side-glanced Yaupon, who was inside him as if "You talkin' to ME?" As they neared the sixteenth pole, Firenze cocked his head straight to his left, reached out and BIT Yaupon on the nose. And then he kept it up. I counted seven bites, or attempts, and at one point, Firenze had at least a tooth on Yaupon's bridle. They call it savaging the other horse.

Firenze1.png

Jose Ortiz, both trying to make Firenze Fire behave, struggling to keep hold of the reins, and trying to keep up the run too, avoided disaster. The antics almost certainly cost Firenze the race. For his part, Ricardo Santana Jr. on Yaupon kept to the task and won the race.

After the race, the TV guys said Firenze Fire has done that before. I didn't know. Just a little insight into the nature of horses.

That was awesome, but the sad news out of the race is that Whitmore, the sprinting sensation, eight years old, was injured and has been retired. Knowing him, he could probably recover and race again, but the Moquett family, who also train and take care of him, has decided to retire him. I saw Whitmore once in person. No horse has a bigger heart.

The huge showdown we talked about between Life Is Good and Jackie's Warrior () really happened, and it was just wonderful.

Life Is Good, full of run, went out to the early lead by as much as two, with Jackie's Warrior staying close. He made Life Is Good do all the pace work. Coming out of the turn, Jackie cornered and built almost a length lead. But look, there's Life Is Good battling back! Jackie's Warrior is a great horse, and he showed it, keeping the lead and winning by a long neck. He just wouldn't give in.

Letruska is still the champeen queen of the ladies as she took the Personal Ensign into her own hooves and won nicely.

After a positioning first quarter of :23 and a smidge, she controlled the pace and brought it down to a reasonable :46 and three, and never looked back. Three others made a run at her going to the sixteenth pole, but no. The image was all the other horses covered in dirt, but Letruska's bay chest clean and ready for cocktails after the fashion show. I hope we see her once more before the Breeders' Cup, where they'll have to make the decision about running her against the boys.

"I'm in favor of run her in her division and win races," Migliore said.

Trainer Brad Cox looked frozen, in shock, after his Essential Quality proved once again he's the grandest horse in the land in winning The Travers Stakes with a gutsy, hard-fought effort.

It wasn't easy. Or was it?

The hard knocking, often unlucky Midnight Bourbon took an early three-length lead, but Essential kept with the pace in second, again making Bourbon do the pace work.

They got to the turn and right on the corner, Essential Quality and Luis Saez, the meet's leading rider, settled in for the work at hand.

Bourbon was more than game, but Essential, the son of Tapit, gave what was required to win by a half neck.

Gary Stevens declared him the Three-Year-Old of the Year and leader for Horse of the Year. The panel kept talking about "redemption" as EQ lost the silly Kentucky Derby as the favorite.

But their extension of that to Luis Saez was more accurate. He was aboard Maximum Security when the horse was disqualified for interference in the 2019 Kentucky Derby. As Stevens pointed out, Saez never bitched or moaned about the rightful decision, and became an even better jockey after that. Now, Luis is on top of the world.

There was some rain, but the tracks were fast and firm all day.

The Fox Sports coverage was excellent. I assume New York has a contract with Fox, as they've been covering Belmont and Saratoga all year. The Fox people are engaged, knowledgeable and interested. Travers Day was a good time had by me.

This Travers Stakes and the whole day were what TrackNotes lives for. There's one more week for Saratoga. I'll be watching.

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Tom Chambers is our man on the rail. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:54 PM | Permalink

August 28, 2021

TrackNotes: Blue Skies, James Brown & Lucky Charms

Eat your Lucky Charms.

Ice the beer, bowl the chips, don your handi cap. Prepare for (mostly) blue skies.

It's Travers Day! I feel better than James Brown.

It's as good a day of racing as America has, featuring "The Summer Derby." Rivaling the Breeders' Cup, a modest upgrade from Belmont Day and half a length past Derby Day.

This year, the Travers card from beautiful Saratoga Race Course, Saratoga Springs, New York, presents the usual cast of six Grade Is and a Grade II turfer. Many of the top stars are not only happy to be here, there's also prestige and money to be earned.

Sure, the shit is still flying at Arlington Park, but we'll deal with that (again) another time.

TrackNotes has been vying all week for position to an afternoon of REAL racing!

Viadera is your morning line favorite in the stakes opener, The Ballston Spa (Grade II, 1-1/16 miles, 8.5 furlongs, fillies and mare four and up, $400,000, turf). The line maker is apparently tossing out her troubled fourth last out in the De La Rose Stakes here.

One of Bob Baffert's tainted drug-violation horses, Gamine, shows up in the Ballerina Handicap (Grade I, seven furlongs, fillies and mares, $500,000). She's a great horse, too bad she's trained by Baffert, who we hope does not show his face. He's running here through the power of a judge, who gave him temporary relief from NYRA's New York ban. Gamine, 3-5, will be carrying a highweight of 126 pounds. Her main competition might come from up-and-downer Ce Ce at 4-1 and 9-2 Sconsin, whose ace in the hole is Irad Ortiz Jr. Although it's the horse who has to run the race. She's in deep here.

The mighty warrior Whitmore returns in the Forego (Grade I, seven furlongs, $600,000). If he hasn't truly lost a step or two, he can definitely figure here.

Since his 104 Beyer Speed figure win in last fall's Breeders' Cup Sprint, the eight-year-old gelding has had four brave, tough beats, including a close third in the Alfred G. Vanderbilt last out here. He'll probably need a dream trip from Joel Rosario.

He'll face Mind Control, 7-2 who, classic Todd Pletcher, hasn't run since his Grade II win in the John Nerud July 4 at Belmont. Has Yaupon, 5-2, regained his form for Steve Asmussen with his 101 Beyer win last out in the Lite the Fuse Stakes at Pimlico? That was a nice comeback after the long trip home from an eighth in the Dubai Golden Shaheen. Firenze Fire, 6-1, will try to run back to his Runhappy (Grade III) and True North (Grade II) double, with triple-digit Beyers three back. His form is going backwards and I'm tired of him beating me.

One of the biggest showdowns of the day comes in the H. Allen Jerkens Memorial (Grade I, seven furlongs, three year olds, $500,000).

Life is Good, 8-5, brings his soap opera baggage to duel Jackie's Warrior, even money 1-1, who will be required to maintain his ascending form. The oddsmaker is pitting 'Good's inherent talent with Jackie's 102 Beyer in is last.

The soap opera begins when I bought an LG refrigerator and got burned by the marketing machine. The damn thing had it's own philosophy about refrigeration that really hurt my frozen ravioli. The retailer graciously gave me a different brand. E-mail me for the scoop. But not only can I not find any reference to the horse being named after a South Korean appliance company, he's really owned by the China Horse Club and WinStar Farm.

He was on his way to superstardom with three wins for Baffert under Mike Smith, including a 107, eight-length win in the San Felipe in March. Left hind ankle chip. When Baffert's brand of crap hit the fan, the owners changed hotels and checked him in to Todd Pletcher's barn. He's been regularly working lights out. While a return in a Grade I like this is tough, "he's the kind you would do it with," Pletcher said. Smith stays in the saddle.

Jackie's "bounced" in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, if you can say that for a race like that. But he's been rising ever since. He's won on fast and sloppy at The Spa, including a 7+, 102-Beyer win in the Amsterdam August 1.

Drain the Clock seems to have run the race of his life in beating the Warrior in the Woody Stephens two back, but I don't see it here. For the upset, in case the top two burn their rockets, I'll be looking at Pletcher's Following Seas - please don't rabbit - and Judge N Jury: 29-point Beyer jump and meet leading rider white-hot Luis Saez.

Letruska, 6-5, leads the way in the Personal Ensign (Grade I, fillies and mares four and up, 1-1/8 miles, nine furlongs, $600,000).

She's been dominant, coming off a six-length score in the Fleur de Lis at Churchill in late June, and has three straight triple Beyers. You might look at the duel with Swiss Skydiver, 7-2, but the 'Diver seems to be struggling. She got a long layoff after the Apple Blossom in April, but was probably misplaced against the boys in the Whitney last out.

We do have to keep en eye on Baffert's As Time Goes By, who's been undergoing Baffert's typical fastest workouts and is a true California shipper, new to the East Coast. I'll look at Royal Flag and Miss Marissa.

Will the 152nd Travers, first run in 1864, be betable this year? As Bugs Bunny would say "Mmmm, could be!" By post position:

1. Midnight Bourbon (9-2 morning line odds, jockey Ricardo Santana Jr, trainer Steve Asmussen)

The only horse to run in all three Triple Crown races this year, clipped heels in the Haskell Invitational last out when Hot Rod Charlie, who was disqualified, cut him off and he tossed jockey Paco Lopez. 9-2 is too low, especially considering the accomplishments of others here. Asmussen may want to try him elsewhere. 20-1? I'm a silly wabbit.

2. Essential Quality (4-5, Luis Saez, Brad Cox)

The it horse, toss the Kentucky Derby which is easy to do, and he's undefeated in seven. He had an inefficient trip in the Jim Dandy, but basically crushed the Belmont by 1.25 lengths with a 109 Beyer. The big gray with jet black mane and tail is easy to spot. Saez has been nothing-but-net. The clear favorite. I'll also take a look at the Show pool, because I live among a lot of bridges.

3. Keepmeinmind (6-1, Joel Rosario, Robertino Diodoro)

Once again, this hard-tryer goes against many he's had trouble with. He was half-lengthed by 'Quality in the Jim Dandy. His Beyers are in the top tier here, but his only graded stakes win, in the Grade II Kentucky Jockey Club was against who? This would be an upset, but he should be at least 10-1 or more.

4. Dynamic One (6-1, Irad Ortiz Jr, Todd Pletcher)

He got caught at the wire three back in the Wood Memorial, 89 Beyer, then got caught in the hellacious traffic of the Derby. It appeared Pletcher prepped him up with his win in the Curlin, 97 Beyer. With Irad, I'll be playing, maybe at a higher price.

5. Miles D (12-1, Flavien Prat, Chad Brown)

His 77-85-95 Beyer progression grabs my eye. Those are all his races. This son of Curlin was impressive in second in The Curlin, which was on a less-than-fast track. I'll fly.

6. Masqueparade (8-1, Miguel Mena, Albert Stall Jr)

He's 7-3-0-2 and won the Ohio Derby over King Fury and Keepmeinmind. He was a respectable third in the Jim Dandy. He'll need the race of his life here, but then again, Saratoga is the Graveyard of Champions.

7. King Fury (15-1, Jose Ortiz, Kenny McPeek)

He won the Lexington in the slop against nobody. That's it. In a reasonable test, he was a nonfactor in the Saratoga Derby Invitational last out. Too many of the others are more seasoned.

But wait, there's more.

TV coverage will be handled by Fox. FS1 opens the card at 10:30 a.m. FS2 picks it up at 2 p.m. At 4 p.m., Fox32 takes over for the features.

The reason that's good is that you'll see a group of analysts with knowledge, energy, betting angles and enthusiasm. I'm not sure who that will be, but look for Laffit Pincay III, Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens, wise(ass)guy Andy Cohen, Maggie Wolfendale, Acacia Courtney, handicapping contest ace Jonathon Kinchen, and who knows, they have a lot of people. You'll notice the increase in energy from what the lame folks at NBC have been offering for the past two or three years.

Besides the one day in May, the other two days you should watch are the Breeders Cup, of course. And Travers Day. If you're staying inside because of the heat, or have a flat screen out on the lanai, tune in. It's good stuff.

Writing about horse racing. Man, that felt good!

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Tom Chambers is our man on the rail. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:52 AM | Permalink

August 27, 2021

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #371: Baseball Is So Fun Right Now

Unless you're a Cubs fan. Including: Fields of Dreams; The Week In White Sox; Cubs Scrubs Flubs; Bears Bullshit; All In On New Mexico State; Bulls/Blackhawks; Dreams, Storms; Red Stars' Road; and Chicago Fire Pyre.

Beachwood Radio Network · The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #371: Baseball Is So Fun Right Now

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SHOW NOTES

* 371.

1:34: Fields Of Dreams.

* AL East vs. NL West.

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29:55: The Week In White Sox.

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*

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38:25: Cubs Scrubs Flubs.

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44:36: Bears Bullshit.

* What?

* WHAT?

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51:13: All In On New Mexico State.

* Vannini, The Athletic: Ranking Every College Football Team Entering The 2021 Season.

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56:49: Bulls/Blackhawks.

BREAKING:

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57:51: Dreams, Storms.

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58:28: Red Stars' Road.

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58:56: Chicago Fire Pyre.

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STOPPAGE 1:22

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For archives and other Beachwood shows, see The Beachwood Radio Network.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:27 PM | Permalink

August 26, 2021

Hucksters Selling 'Vaccine-Detox' Snake Oil Must Be Held Accountable

Unscrupulous snake oil peddlers are taking advantage of the misinformation surrounding COVID-19 vaccines by selling homeopathic products that falsely promise to reverse the effects of vaccinations and claim to treat underlying diseases. The Center for Inquiry is calling upon federal authorities to protect American consumers from these dangerous frauds that are readily advertising through sites like Google and Amazon.

The Center for Inquiry (CFI), an organization that promotes reason and science over superstition and pseudoscience, has alerted the Federal Trade Commission about the predatory practices of companies that target vulnerable consumers. In a letter to the FTC, CFI urged the agency to use its power under the COVID-19 Consumer Protection Act to take action against the advertisers and sellers of so-called "homeopathic vaccine detoxification" products.

"As Americans continue to struggle with coordinated misinformation campaigns designed to frighten and confuse them, the free pass for homeopathy hucksters must end," said Aaron D. Green, CFI staff counsel. "Scammers that sell fake medicine to those in need are callously exploiting the uninformed. But this is about more than lost money - it's about preventing lost lives."

CFI has identified a particular homeopathic product sold by Liddell Laboratories, an oral spray marketed as a "vaccine detox," advertisements for which appear when searching Google for "how to undo a vaccine." The product's label declares, without evidence, that it "counters the ill-effects of vaccines" such as fever, pain, swelling, and fatigue.

Screen-Shot-2021-08-26-at-10.51.41-AM.png

While there is no reliable evidence that homeopathic products have a benefit greater than a simple placebo, the untested ingredients are far more dangerous than a sugar pill. The "detox" product sold by Liddell Laboratories lists among its ingredients "Morbillinum," better known as the measles virus; "Natrum Muriaticum," or table salt; and the tree from which "Thuja Occidentalis" is derived contains thujone: a neurotoxic, genotoxic and carcinogenic abortifacient.

"The uncontrolled trade of pseudoscientific remedies extends beyond damage to the individual victims," writes CFI in its letter to the FTC. "Misinformation dissuades patients from seeking evidence-based treatments, while deception and fraud induce the purchase of worthless products. Compounding financial harm from the initial purchase, the patient forgoes science-based, effective treatment while also introducing unknown, untested, and seemingly unregulated substances into their bodies."

"Federal authorities empowered to protect consumers from these harms must step up and end this fraud and abuse," said Green. "In the midst of a resurgent pandemic and an out-of-control storm of misinformation, there is not a moment to lose."

The Center for Inquiry is currently engaged in two consumer-protection lawsuits against retailers Walmart and CVS for misrepresenting homeopathy's safety and efficacy by selling homeopathic products right alongside real, evidence-based medicine on its shelves and its online store, with no distinction made between them, under signs indicating them as treatments for particular ailments.

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See also: Homeopathy Supplement Peddler's Despicable Anti-Vaccine Goldmine.

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Previously:

* Dear Pharmacists: Stop Selling Snake Oil.

* More Homeopathy Hokum.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:48 PM | Permalink

White Castle Inducts 13 More Cravers

White Castle, the beloved fast-food hamburger chain and consumer-packaged goods business, inducted 13 loyal fans into its Cravers Hall of Fame during a virtual ceremony Wednesday night. The 13 inductees, from cities across the country, were chosen from hundreds of entries that all showed just how far some people will go to satisfy their White Castle Crave.

Adam Richman, renowned TV host, actor, author and culinarian, was also inducted as a "Craver in Extremis." Richman, a long-time fan of White Castle, earlier this year hosted an episode of The History Channel's Modern Marvels that featured White Castle.

White Castle created the Cravers Hall of Fame in 2001 as an exclusive club to recognize its most passionate and zealous fans, affectionately referred to as Cravers. Each year, hundreds of Cravers submit their White Castle stories in hopes of being chosen for the Cravers Hall of Fame. While some of the stories are funny, some are poignant and some are remarkable, all of them are very personal, heartfelt testaments to the ways in which White Castle has touched lives and created lasting memories.

"Year after year, we are amazed at the stories people share about their strong and unique connections with White Castle," said Lisa Ingram, president and CEO at White Castle and a fourth-generation family member. "It's so gratifying to know that we've played such a significant and memorable part in the lives of so many people."

The 13 members of the 2020 class were selected last fall, but the induction ceremony was postponed from earlier this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The ceremony is usually held in February during White Castle's annual leadership conference in Columbus, Ohio, but this year's ceremony was held virtually and featured acceptance speeches, appearances by White Castle leadership and family members, and a few original skits that only the iconic brand could produce.

"Historically, we have inducted our Craver Hall of Famers in person during a special ceremony that's held in front of hundreds of our general managers, regional directors, and district supervisors as well as our leadership and operations teams for both the restaurant and retail divisions," said Jamie Richardson, vice president at White Castle. "However, this year we are excited to live stream the event so that Craver generations everywhere can be a part of this special ceremony."

In addition to getting recognition at the ceremony, the 2020 inductees will also receive a commemorative plaque and an extra special tribute: Their stories will be featured on the restaurant's iconic Slider box packaging, the new designs for which will be rolled out in early 2022.

To determine the Hall of Fame's most worthy Cravers, the judges set criteria based on brand loyalty, creative presentation, originality and magnitude of the Crave. In 2002, White Castle added the "Craver in Extremis" category to recognize public figures, celebrities and pop icons, which now includes Adam Richman as well as Richard Dreyfuss, Alice Cooper, Telfar Clemens, Kal Penn and John Cho, and the late Stan Lee, who all have publicly expressed their love of White Castle.

Since the Hall of Fame's start in 2001, a total of 262 inductees have been honored with this distinguished award. Nominations for the next class of Cravers Hall of Famers can be submitted now through White Castle's website.

The Cravers Hall of Fame Class of 2020 includes:

1. Thomas Perri, Maple Grove, Minnesota, "Craver Maniac"

Thomas Perri is a marathon runner who has participated in at least one race a month for 534 consecutive months. That's 44 years and five months! Nothing has stopped him, not even a diagnosis of stage 4 prostate cancer in 2019 or the pandemic in 2020. The only activity he's been doing longer than running is eating at White Castle. Thomas had his first Slider in 1965, a full 10 years before he started running. He typically combines his two favorite cravings - running and White Castle - by indulging in Sliders whenever he completes a race. With the races taking place in cities across the country, Thomas has easily eaten in at least 150 different Castles. Already a member of the Marathon Maniacs Hall of Fame, Thomas is proud to boast membership in the Cravers Hall of Fame, as well.

2. Robert Kolsch, Brunswick, Georgia, "Crave Collector"

Most people collect things like old coins, classic cars or baseball cards. But Robert Kolsch collects Slider boxes from White Castle. He believes he owns the only complete collection of boxes printed since 1931, including the 50th, 75th and 90th anniversary editions. This year, he added the 100th anniversary edition box to his collection. Besides displaying the boxes proudly, he also uses them when he's outside of his "personal Crave Zone" - or the distance he's willing to travel at any given time to visit a White Castle restaurant. He'll pick up a box or two of frozen Sliders from the grocery store, prepare them at home and eat them out of the iconic packaging, just as if he'd bought them by the sack at a White Castle restaurant.

3. Russ Maziarka, Richfield, Minnesota, "Raised on the Crave"

For as long as Russ Maziarka can remember, White Castle has always played a part in his life story. In the early 1960s, he and his siblings enjoyed White Castle while sitting in the back of their dad's 1956 Chevy. A few years later, Russ and his friends in suburban Chicago would frequent White Castle, where they purchased three Sliders, fries and a drink for just $1. In the 1970s, White Castle became a meal often shared with dates at the drive-in theater or used to fuel late-night study sessions. In the ensuing years, Russ, who earned an accounting degree from UIC, introduced White Castle to his co-workers, his friends, his kids and his granddaughter. White Castle was even the last meal he shared with his dad just two days before his dad passed away. Today, Russ and his wife still love to share a White Castle meal together, often sitting in the parking lot of their favorite White Castle and reminiscing about the role of White Castle in their life journey.

4. Michael Hizer, El Paso, Texas, "Never Sleep on Sliders"

One Friday night when he was just 11 years old, Michael Hizer stayed up past his bedtime and fell asleep on the couch. He awoke to his dad, just home from work, calling him to the kitchen. Michael walked into the room, expecting to be scolded. Instead, his dad offered him his first taste of White Castle. "I was instantly hooked," Michael recalled. From that point on, he purposely fell asleep on the couch on Friday nights knowing his dad would come home from work with a sack of Sliders and fries for the two of them to share. Several years later, Michael was diagnosed with cancer. After each chemotherapy treatment or lengthy stay at the hospital, Michael's wife would stop at White Castle in Eureka, Missouri, on the way home to get Michael six cheese Sliders, fries and a chocolate shake, the only food that tasted good. Now a resident of El Paso, Michael lives far from a White Castle restaurant, but he's content enjoying Sliders from his local grocery store. "I'm truly a White Castle Craver for life."

5. Lora Rayner, Edison, New Jersey, "A Lineage of Sliders"

If it weren't for White Castle, chances are Lora Rayner and her husband would have never married. Lora worked at a Castle in Elizabeth, New Jersey, throughout her four years of college. Early on, a young man she met in physics class began stopping at White Castle every Saturday morning on his way to his part-time job, always ordering four cheese Sliders, a cheese danish and an orange soda. "I guess he really liked the way I made his cheeseburgers, because after four years, upon graduating from college, he proposed to me," Lora said. With White Castle playing such an important role in their love life, the couple decided long ago that there would be no better place to spend Valentine's Day than at White Castle. So, each year, they celebrate their love for each other - and for cheese Sliders - at White Castle.

6. Richard Winiarski, The Villages, Florida, "Do You Have the Crave?"

Richard Winiarski grew up on White Castle, having had his first Slider around 1947 when he was 12 years old. His family would clip coupons for a sack of Sliders and send one of his older brothers to the White Castle in Jackson Heights, New York, to pick up the hot-and-steamy little burgers. When Richard started dating his future bride, they ended each date with a stop at that same White Castle. So, it only made sense that when they married in December 1958, they and their entire wedding party stopped at a White Castle between the ceremony and reception for a quick meal of Sliders and fries. Richard and his wife visited White Castle often all the years they lived in New York. Since retiring to The Villages in Florida, however, their trips to White Castle are few and far between. But they always satisfy their Crave for freshly steamed Sliders whenever they're back in New York visiting family.

7. Daniel Mann, Schnecksville, Pennsylvania, "Just a Crew of Cravers"

"Everything is better when you share it with others." Daniel Mann lives by that philosophy, which he learned from his grandmother. She always had a Crave Case on the table when he went to her house or a sack of Sliders in her hands when she arrived for a visit. Daniel passed along that philosophy - and his love for White Castle - to his three best friends. As high school seniors, they created the "Castle Gang" and started every weekend with a trip to White Castle. Now in college, the Castle Gang gets together whenever they're on break, meeting up at White Castle and reconnecting over their beloved Sliders.

8. Barbara Smole, Clarksville, Maryland; Sean Smole, Clarksville, Maryland; Dick Sorenson, Columbus, Ohio. "It Runs in the Family"

Barbara Smole fondly recalls the times her dad, Dick Sorenson, brought White Castle home for dinner when she was a child. She could tell by the twinkle in his eye - and the delightful smell of onions - that he had a sack of Sliders to share. He loved White Castle and wanted to foster that same appreciation for the scrumptious little burgers with his family. He was such a fan that he purchased 400 Sliders for the guests at Barbara's wedding reception in 2002. When Barbara's son, Sean, was born, Dick was eager to introduce his grandson to the Crave. Now 12, Sean and his Papa are Slider buddies, sharing White Castle meals whenever they can. They're grateful that White Castle can satisfy not only their Crave for Sliders, but also their Crave for spending time together.

9. Lisa Pluto, Southfield, Michigan, "A Mother & Daughter Tradition"

White Castle has been part of Lisa Pluto's life for more than 50 years, but it took on special significance in 2010 when she and her mom, who suffered from dementia, began spending Valentine's Day together at the Castle. It became a beloved tradition that lasted through 2019. While her mom forgot many things, she always remembered White Castle and the taste she loved so much. Lisa's mom passed away in late 2019, and the same White Castle in Oak Park, Michigan, that had served as an oasis on Valentine's Day catered the meal following the funeral. Not wanting to end the Valentine's Day tradition, Lisa invited more than 20 friends and family members to dinner at White Castle in 2020 to remember and honor her dear mom.

10. Richard Sudranski, Roanoke, Virginia, "Roll Out for the Crave"

Richard Sudranski became obsessed with White Castle as a young child in Indianapolis. His family moved away when he was only 9 years old, but he never forgot the fabulous taste of those hot-and-steamy little Sliders. That's why he has gone to great lengths on many occasions throughout his 70+ years to obtain White Castle whenever he can. In the mid-2000s, Richard was returning by Amtrak train to his home in Roanoke, Virginia, following a visit with his niece in California. One evening, he sat with two sisters from Indianapolis. Naturally, he talked about his childhood there and his love for White Castle. Determined to help Richard satisfy his Crave, one of the women contacted her husband, asking him to bring a Crave Case to the train station. When the Amtrak train rolled to a stop in the middle of the night, Richard stepped off just long enough to pick up the fragrant box of Original Sliders. Richard was more than happy to share a few of them with the incredulous conductor and the handful of other passengers who were still awake that time of night.

11. Matthew Peck, U.S. Air Force, Williamsburg, Virginia, "A Story for the Ages"

In 2004, Mathew Peck enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and was suddenly traveling all over the world. Having read as a child about the history of the hamburger and fast food, and having watched the newly released movie Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle, Matthew was eager to try his first-ever White Castle Slider. With no actual restaurants near his base, he and a friend embarked one night on a search to find the frozen burger in a retail store. After hours of searching, they finally found the well-known blue and white boxes in the freezer aisle of a local Kroger grocery store. They purchased four, went back to their base, prepared the Sliders in the microwave, and devoured them while watching Harold and Kumar on their own White Castle adventure. Years later, Matthew ventured to Times Square in New York City to experience his first restaurant Slider. "Those freshly steamed sliders took the flavor to the next level," he said. Matthew, still in the Air Force, seeks out both the restaurant and retail Sliders whenever he travels.

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Previously in White Castle:
* Why Isn't White Castle A Fast Food Giant?

* Oak Park Man Makes White Castle Hall Of Fame.

* White Castle Named "Most Influential Burger of All Time."

* White Castle Inducts 3 Chicago Music Titans Into Cravers Hall Of Fame

* White Castle's New Uniforms Include Durags.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:02 PM | Permalink

August 23, 2021

Dalton vs. Andy Dalton

Compare and contrast.

DALTON: The cooler, not the bouncer.

ANDY DALTON: Neither cool nor bouncy.

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DALTON: Pain don't hurt.

ANDY DALTON: Owww!

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DALTON: Studied philosophy.

ANDY DALTON: Should be more philosophical about the job he's about to lose to Justin Fields.

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DALTON: Lives on a farm.

ANDY DALTON: Plays for a shitty team.

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DALTON: Hooks up with Doc.

ANDY DALTON: Will spend a lot of time with team docs.

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DALTON: Works at the Double Deuce.

ANDY DALTON: Works for a real douche.

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DALTON: Killed a man in Memphis.

ANDY DALTON: Will get killed behind this offensive line.

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DALTON: Best friend is Wade Garrett.

ANDY DALTON: Not as good as Wade Wilson.

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DALTON: Dates Elizabeth Clay.

ANDY DALTON: Feet of clay.

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DALTON: Shops at Red's Auto Parts.

ANDY DALTON: Sucks in the red zone.

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DALTON: Killed a man in self-defense.

ANDY DALTON: Killed a WR by inability to read defense.

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DALTON: Made an enemy of Brad Wesley.

ANDY DALTON: Not as good as Brad Johnson.

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DALTON: Knows Tai Chi.

ANDY DALTON: Not long for Chi Town.

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DALTON: Take out the trash.

ANDY DALTON: Is the trash.

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DALTON: Has a high tolerance for the fragrance of nature.

ANDY DALTON: Stinks.

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DALTON: Is the best in his trade.

ANDY DALTON: Won't fetch much in a trade.

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DALTON: Friends with Jeff Healey.

ANDY DALTON: Plays like he's blind.

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Previously from the Vs. Affairs Desk:

* Sweet Home Alabama vs. Sweet Home Chicago

* The Kennedy Curse vs. The Cubs Curse

* Oprah vs. Obama

* Lincoln vs. Obama

* The Ryder Cup vs. NATO

* Chicago 2016 vs. Baghdad 2016

* Tank vs. Troutman

* James Brown vs. Gerald Ford

* Hester vs. Hastert

* Cubs vs. Hawks

* Quinn vs. Quade

* Alexi vs. Everyday People

* BP vs. Big Z

* McCain vs. McRib

* Subway vs. McDonald's

* IPRA vs. Oprah

* Marlon Byrd vs. Robert Byrd

* Lilo vs. Blago

* Rahm vs. Rob

* Chicago vs. Wisconsin.

* ICEE vs. ICE

* Bari Weiss vs. Barry White.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:51 PM | Permalink

A New Complaint

We have to vent. Frustration builds up and boils over the top. An outlet is required. Point the finger at those we think are messing up? Without a doubt. We are human. Complaining is part of who are.

Of course, there are those of us who go overboard by moaning with just about every breath. And too often the vitriol becomes biting, mean and nasty, or worse. As long as we don't hurt anyone else, in the best of instances, a blustery dose of criticism targeting someone else or a situation should provide a respite, a taste of relief, alleviating rancor and making us feel better. Wouldn't that be nice?

Let's take the case of the Chicago White Sox, who, despite leading the American League Central by 9½ games this morning, receive their share of pointed criticism. After Saturday's 8-4 loss to Tampa Bay at the ballpark they call The Trop - it should be The Flop - left-handed pitcher Dallas Keuchel was on the hot seat.

Keuchel hasn't been very good of late. In his last six starts, he's 1-4 with a 6.21 ERA. In 33⅓ innings, he's given up eight homers. Keuchel is known as a ground ball pitcher, a species not known to yield a lot of home runs.

After Saturday's game, social media lit up after Keuchel lasted five innings, exiting with the Sox trailing 6-2.

Let it be known that the artificial turf at The Flop is just a tad bit slower than a billiard table. It's good to hit grounders there. They tend to travel very quickly. In fact, in six starts there with Houston and the Sox, Keuchel is 0-5 with a 6.44 ERA. In 2015 when he was 20-8, earning a Cy Young award, one of his losses was in Tampa, although by a respectable 3-0 score.

If one needed any proof that Keuchel is little more than fodder for the Rays at The Flop, Wander Franco's first-inning grounder bounced off third base for a run-scoring double. Yoan Moncada was positioned to field the ball for the third out before it took that weird hop into short left field. A double followed, and the Sox trailed 3-0.

Defending Keuchel's recent performances is not the objective here. Asking why manager Tony La Russa would tab his veteran lefty for an assignment in that abomination of a baseball venue is the question.

But let's not dally with the fortunes of Dallas Keuchel. As mentioned, despite splitting 36 games since the All-Star break and following Saturday's disappointment with a 9-0 shellacking on Sunday, the Sox own the largest division or league lead at this point in the season in the team's 121-year history.

Coming close to a 9½-game edge on Aug. 23 was the 1983 squad, which led by nine games at this point en route to a 99-win season and a final 20 games ahead of second place Kansas City. The 2005 eventual World Series champions led Cleveland by 8½ games on this date, although that lead shrank to a game-and-a-half with eight to play in late September. The Sox had a seven-game road trip to end the season while Cleveland was playing at home. The Sox finished 6-2 while the Indians reversed that mark at 2-6.

Of course, Ozzie Guillen's crew breezed through the post-season at 11-1. Judging from La Russa's recent maneuverings, he's aiming at those same lofty heights for this edition of the South Siders.

Tim Anderson was scheduled for a day off last Thursday in the finale of a four-game set at home against Oakland, a game the Sox lost 5-4. Anderson had one of the greatest games of his career in Tampa on Friday, hitting a game-tying home run in the ninth inning and then driving in a run and scoring another in the top of the 11th as the Sox won 7-5. Earlier he had eluded a tag at the plate on an acrobatic slide in the fifth inning to give the Sox a 2-1 lead.

Anderson didn't play over the weekend because of leg soreness. If there had been any question of his value to this team, three losses last week without the Sox shortstop answered that query.

Despite the fact that the Sox have been hovering around 20 games over .500, Moncada has been the target of disapproval for much of the season. His slashline of .256/.371/.768 with just 11 home runs simply doesn't cut it in the eyes of some Sox fans. You might say that Moncada's 2019 season spoiled us when he was baseball's top prospect. He slashed .315/.367/.915 along with 25 round-trippers the season before last.

Nevertheless, the analytics tell us that only Cleveland's José Ramirez and Boston's Rafael Devers are more productive third basemen in the American League.

FanGraphs uses a yardstick of Weighted Runs Created Plus (wRC+) with a very fancy formula that takes into account every offensive facet one can imagine but goes a step further by "adjust[ing] performance based on park effects and league average." The average ballplayer for wRC+ is 100, and Moncada has a mark of 118 which means he's 18 percent better with a bat in his hand than the average player at third base. Devers' mark is 137 with Ramirez at 136. Leading major league third basemen are Justin Turner of the Dodgers and Austin Riley of Atlanta at 138.

Moncada ranks higher than guys like Nolan Arenado, Matt Chapman and Kyle Seager. Remember that wRC+ is strictly an offensive measurement. Without boring you with the numbers, FanGraphs ranks Moncada the third most effective defensive third baseman in the game, markedly ahead of Ramirez and Devers.

Moncada's strikeout rate of 26.5 percent is distressing, exacerbated by the fact that he trudges back to the dugout each time as though his music video just got panned by the critics. However, last season his K-rate was 31.2 and even in 2019 he fanned in 27.6 percent of his plate appearances.

If we look at Wins Above Replacement (WAR), Moncada leads the team. That's right. His 3.6 is a couple of ticks above Anderson's 3.4, while José Abreu, despite his MLB best 92 RBIs, has a 2.1 WAR. Lance Lynn checks in at 3.2.

If you are a proponent of a hitter's performance with runners in scoring position (RISP), Moncada's .277 ranks just behind Anderson's .289. Abreu is hitting .268 with runners in scoring position, meaning that the guys in front of him consistently get on base. As a team the Sox are hitting .265 with RISP compared to .242 without RISP. Pitchers also aren't eager to pitch to Moncada in crucial situations since his on-base percentage with runners in scoring position is .414.

One additional note about RISP. Before his season-ending injury and trade to the Cubs, Nick Madrigal was slashing .313/.346/.804 in RISP situations, easily tops on the ballclub. Just sayin'.

So why all the disdain aimed in Moncada's direction? He contracted COVID-19 last season so that scoring from first on a double exhausted him far more than one would expect. Perhaps he's a long-hauler, still experiencing the effects of the virus.

He also raised hopes in 2019 of perhaps becoming the best third baseman in team history. I'm reminded of golf psychologist Bob Rotella and his book Golf Is Not a Game of Perfect in which he offers this morsel of wisdom: "There is no such thing as a golfer playing over his head. A hot streak is simply a glimpse of a golfer's true potential."

So are we frustrated because Moncada, while playing better than most, has the potential to be so much better? Or, because we are human, do some of us simply have to complain about something?

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Former Bill Veeck bar buddy Roger Wallenstein is our White Sox correspondent. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:16 AM | Permalink

August 22, 2021

IDOC Mental Health Care Still Unconstitutional After 5 Years

The latest court-ordered report on mental health care in Illinois state prisons was released to the public Friday. This report was created by Dr. Pablo Stewart, an independent, court-appointed monitor, as a result of the class action lawsuit Rasho v. Jeffreys, brought by Dentons, Equip for Equality, and Uptown People's Law Center. This lawsuit alleged that the mental health care provided to prisoners in the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) is unconstitutional, and was settled in May of 2016.

Stewart's report found that in the two years since the court ordered IDOC to make changes in its provision of mental health care, IDOC has failed in complying with any one of five court mandates:

* Staffing: "It remains the opinion of the Monitor that the major impediment preventing the Department from meeting the requirements of the Court's orders is inadequate staffing. This lack of staffing applies to clinical and custody staff."

* Crisis Watch: "[T]reatments were not sufficient to stabilize the symptoms and protect against decompensation, demonstrated in part by the very long crisis watches in which the patients presumably were not stable."

* Out-of Cell-Time for Prisoners in Solitary: "The amounts of counseling and out-of cell-structured and unstructured time [provided to prisoners in solitary confinement] are far below what is needed and sufficient to protect against decompensation."

* Medication Management: "I am disappointed to note that several of the IDOC facilities with large numbers of class members persist with unacceptably early morning medication distribution times." (Prisoners at times have to stand outside at, e.g., 4 a.m. to get medication.)

* Individual Treatment Plans: "All class members do not have a treatment plan that is individualized and particularized based on the patient's specific needs."

A prisoner is placed in crisis watch when a clinician determines they are in danger of committing suicide. The prisoner is placed naked in a cell with nothing but a "suicide smock," a thick covering to wear and sleep under. Often not provided proper treatment, the person is held there under 24/7 watch, until they are considered no longer a threat to themselves.

IDOC says over 42% of prisoners have mental illness, though prisoners' advocates say that, due to the lack of adequate screening, and the stigma around mental illness, that figure is likely incorrectly low.

"Tragically, this state has decided to lock people with the most serious mental illnesses in prison, rather than place them in a hospital," said Alan Mills, executive director of Uptown People's Law Center. "Having made this choice, the state then has a constitutional obligation to treat their mental illnesses.

"Five years after the original case settlement, people are still suffering terribly. I have toured the prisons where people are housed: the pain and suffering is indescribable, and must be seen to be understood. These are some of the most vulnerable people in society, and we are damaging them again and again during their time in prison. It is long past time for Illinois to comply with the court's orders, and the United States Constitution."

Said Harold Hirschman, of Dentons: "How many roads must we go down, for how many years, when, despite pious assurances of an commitment to deliver constitutional care, we always end up at the same place - unalleviated mental suffering caused by ignoring community standards of care. Will this ever end?"

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Previously:

* May 2017: Federal Court Certifies Lawsuit Charging Unconstitutional Illinois Prison Healthcare.

* May 2018: Mentally Ill Prisoners Win Injunction; Judge Declares IDOC's Failure To Provide Mental Health Care An "Emergency Situation."

* October 2018: Judge: "Deliberate Indifference" Of IDOC Mental Health Care Requires Federal Oversight.

* December 2018: Federal Judge To IDOC: Get Your Unconstitutional Shit Together.

* January 2019: Overhauling Illinois' Unconstitutional Prisons.

* March 2021: Illinois Prisoners' Health Care Still Unconstitutional.

* June 2021: Judge Certifies Class Action Lawsuit Against IDOC.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:43 PM | Permalink

August 20, 2021

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #370: Help Still Wanted

Frills, please. Plus: Whine Sox; Scrubs Sequel; LOL OL; Sky Hook; Red Whine; OK, Swiss; and more!

Beachwood Radio Network · The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #370: Help Still Wanted

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SHOW NOTES

* 370.

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1:00: Help Still Wanted.

* Frills, please.

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2:48: Whine Sox.

* Chris Bassitt's face.

* Lance Lynn's belt.

* Liam Hendriks's tips.

Near the tail end of May, White Sox reliever Aaron Bummer was explaining how a weighted ball exercise designed to make him keep his glove arm up higher in his delivery had keyed a hot streak, after an April spent dealing with career-worst control problems. How often, at this level, is the difference between being a shutdown reliever and a liability some imperceptibly small mechanical tweak?

"Way too often," Bummer responded with a pained grin.

And so as Liam Hendriks mimed out the slight loop in his arm path that he felt was responsible for not only tipping his fastball off to Yankees hitters, but also diminishing some of its typically devastating vertical ride, he had a similar sense of pained relief - albeit for a different reason.

"I actually got on the phone with my wife on the way home after the Yankees game here and she was like, 'Yeah, you are tipping,'" Hendriks said in a video conference with reporters. "Turns out she was right, which pisses me off to no end. She's always right."

* Reynaldo López's eyes.

"I think the correction with my eyes helped me a lot," López said through Russo. "Because before sometimes I didn't have the conviction to throw a pitch because I wasn't sure that that was the pitch that the catcher was calling. I had a lot of doubt in my mind, because I couldn't see clearly. Now that I got that fixed, I feel better. I can see the signs. I can see what is going on and I can throw my pitches with conviction."

The first half of the season doubled as a test of his conviction in the White Sox's prescribed changes for López. While he was taken aback by video pitching coach Ethan Katz showed him of how long and inconsistent his arm stroke had become in his delivery, and readily installed changes, shortening the motion brought meager initial rewards. López would rediscover his feel for his curveball and hit his spots at times in bullpens, but his velocity initially dipped as he adjusted to the smaller loading motion, and hard contact was plentiful. Meanwhile, López had to watch Rodón quickly become overpowering once Katz showed him how to stop leaking velocity through his ground force, and run away with the fifth starter job they were competing for against one another.

* Justin Yurchak's swings.

The adjustment he ultimately made came in a different uniform. Originally in the Chicago White Sox organization, Yurchak was dealt to the Dodgers in November of 2018 in exchange for Manny Bañuelos. Shortly thereafter he traveled to Arizona for a hitting camp, and it was there that he "learned a lot about swings" - particularly his own. The level of instruction differed from what he'd experienced with Chicago.

"They're definitely two different orgs," acknowledged Yurchak, who takes his cuts from the left side. "The White Sox do it well, but the Dodgers are a little bit more analytical. I've had a little more video and technology to help me progress, to go through the progressions needed to improve."

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24:38: Scrubs Sequel.

* Mooney, Sharma, The Athletic: There Is No Next Core; Rethinking How The Cubs Should Rebuild For The Future.

* Montemurro, Tribune: Cubs Struggles Will Continue Through Season.

* Kevin Goldstein FanGraphs chat.

* Sullivan, Tribune: The Chicago Cubs Haven't Clarified Their Plan To Move Forward - So Why Not Go With An Old-Fashioned Youth Movement?

* Misener, Cubbies Crib: Kris Bryant Makes It Clear: The Chicago Cubs Front Office Cannot Be Trusted.

* Montero, KNBR: Kris Bryant Explains Why He Didn't Sign Extension With Cubs.

* Mooney, The Athletic: The Cubs Are Really Bad And Their Future Is Very Bright: Can Both Of These Ideas Be True?

* No, it doesn't. Sports builds toxicity and entitlement.

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49:11: LOL OL.

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55:34: Bulls, Blackhawks Blackout.

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55:45: Sky Hook.

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56:06: Red Whine.

* Campbell, Hot Time in Old Town: Missed Calls, Mistakes And Mentality: Red Stars Fight Back For 1-1 Draw.

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59:25: OK, Swiss.

* Butler, MLS Soccer: Chicago Fire FC Owner Purchases Swiss Super League Club.

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STOPPAGE: 2:24

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For archives and other Beachwood shows, see The Beachwood Radio Network.

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Comments welcome
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Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:49 AM | Permalink

August 19, 2021

Afghanistan Only Latest U.S. War Driven By Deceit, Delusion

In Afghanistan, American hubris - the United States' capacity for self-delusion and official lying - has struck once again, as it has repeatedly for the last 60 years.

This weakness-masquerading-as-strength has repeatedly led the country into failed foreign interventions.

Screen Shot 2021-08-19 at 10.27.15 AM.pngSaigon '75/Nik Wheeler, Corbis via Getty Images

The pattern first became clear to me when I learned on Nov. 11, 1963, that the U.S. embassy and intelligence agencies had been directly involved in planning a coup to depose the president of South Vietnam, and his brother, leading to their executions.

I was a Fulbright Fellow, starting a long career in national security policymaking and teaching, studying in Europe. On that day, I was in a bus on a tour of the battlefields of Ypres, Belgium, led by a French history professor.

As I watched the grave markers sweep by, I was reading a report in Le Monde exposing this U.S. effort to overthrow another government and I thought, "This is a bad idea; my country should not be doing this." And the war, in which the U.S. was directly involved for 20 years, marched on.

The American people were told we had no hand in that coup. We did not know that was a lie until the New York Times and Washington Post published the Pentagon Papers in 1971. By then, 58,000 Americans and possibly as many as 3.5 million Vietnamese soldiers and civilians had died - and the goal of preventing the unification of Vietnam had died as well.

For 15 years, the American foreign policy establishment struggled to overcome what it called the "Vietnam Syndrome" - the rational reluctance of the American people to invade and try to remake another country.

American hubris re-emerged, this time as "the global war on terror." Afghanistan is now the poster child for the sense that the U.S. can remake the world.

'A Sea Of Righteous Retribution'

Osama bin Laden gave American interventionists eager for the next fight a huge justification - an attack on the U.S., which washed the Vietnam Syndrome away in a sea of righteous retribution against al-Qaeda.

The al-Qaeda attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon also gave interventionists the opening to invade Iraq, as an extension of the war on terror. We built on the terrorism lie - Saddam Hussein was no friend of the 9/11 terrorists - by arguing that he had weapons of mass destruction. American hubris ran the full course as we invaded another country, overthrew its government and aimed to build a new nation, all of which have kept American troops in a dysfunctional Iraq for 18 years.

Screen Shot 2021-08-19 at 10.29.00 AM.pngU.S. soldiers stage the pulling down of a Saddam Hussein in Baghdad, 2003/Jerome Delay

And the truth, which insisted on penetrating the American delusion, was that the war meant the deaths of 8,500 American troops and civilians and at least 300,000 Iraqis as well. No modern, rebuilt Iraqi nation has emerged.

And now the country faces the dark at the end of the tunnel in Afghanistan, where lying and self-delusion have continued for 20 years.

An initial mission intended to remove the Taliban and close the al-Qaeda training camps succeeded, though bin Laden slipped away for another 10 years. But hubris kept the U.S. from stopping there.

The misison expanded: create a modern democracy, a modern society and, above all, a modern military in a country with little history of any of those things.

Screen Shot 2021-08-19 at 10.26.20 AM.pngKabul '21/Shekib Rahmani, AP

A new generation of U.S. officials in uniform and policymaker suits and dresses fooled the American people and themselves by lying about how well the effort was going.

The failure was actually there to see, this time, well-documented by the systematic auditing and reporting of the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, John Sopko. But government officials and the media blew by those truths, giving voice instead to the lies out of more visible officials' mouths. The human price tag of hubris grew - 6,300 U.S. military and civilian deaths, and an understated estimate of 100,000 Afghan deaths.

How Many Strikes 'Til You're Out?

Multiple times now this country has been lied to and the media deluded as America marched stolidly over the cliff into failure.

Recriminations are flying back and forth - who lost Afghanistan is the latest version of who lost Vietnam, Iraq and, for those with long memories, all the way back to 1949 and "who lost China." What America has lost is, I believe, the capacity to learn, to learn from history and from our own experience.

I'd argue that no one who was paying attention should be surprised that the Taliban swept back into Kabul in a nanosecond. Or that a failed enterprise like the Afghan national army collapsed. Army and special operator trainers who went there could see the corruption, the personnel who left in the night and the disdain for corrupt political authorities in that army.

Many brave, honorable Afghans fought there, but the cohesion and commitment, the belief in their mission, was not there.

By contrast, the Taliban were organized, dedicated and coherent, and armed and trained for the actual combat taking place, not for European-style trench and tank warfare. The Taliban clearly had a plan that worked for that country, as the speed of the takeover shows. It succeeded; the U.S. and the Kabul regime failed in what became mission impossible.

The fall of Kabul was inevitable. Washington, once again, deluded itself into thinking otherwise. The Secretary of State said, "This is not Saigon."

But it is Saigon. It is Baghdad. It is Kabul.

Gordon Adams is a professor emeritus at the American University School of International Service. This post is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:37 AM | Permalink

August 18, 2021

100 Women Who Built Illinois

Landmarks Illinois has published an online database, Women Who Built Illinois, which includes information on over 100 female architects, engineers, developers, designers, builders, landscape architects, interior designers and clients and their projects between 1879 and 1979.

The first-of-its-kind database is the result of an in-depth survey of women in architecture, real estate and design-related fields that Landmarks Illinois publicly launched in 2020 - a year that marked the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, upholding a U.S. citizen's right to vote regardless of sex.

Graham_WarrenPetr_mtg_jpg.jpgJane Johnson (Graham), Head of Interiors Department SOM 1957-1960/Courtesy Skidmore Owings & Merrill

The database calls attention to the women who helped to create places that today are cherished by communities and property owners across Illinois; yet many remain unprotected without local landmark status or lack National Register designation that would provide opportunities for important financial preservation incentives.

"This new database recognizes those who laid the path for women today and who continue to impact the built environment of Illinois and Chicago," said Lisa DiChiera, Landmarks Illinois director of advocacy, who spearheaded the project. "We hope students and professionals in architecture, planning and public history will be inspired to study these women, their careers and built works."

Among the more than 100 people in the Women Who Built Illinois database:

* Georgia Louise Harris Brown, the second African-American woman to become a licensed architect and engineer in the United States and who did structural calculations for many projects and important firms, including Mies van der Rohe's Promontory Apartments in Chicago.

* Marion Mahony Griffin, an important member of Frank Lloyd Wright's office for more than a decade and a prominent Prairie School architect who designed the Robert Mueller and Adolph Mueller houses in Decatur.

* Gertrude Lempp Kerbis, an architect who opened her own firm, Lempp Kerbis, in 1967 following experience studying with architect Mies van der Rohe and working at many high profile architecture firms in Chicago, including C.F. Murphy Associates and Skidmore Owings & Merrill. Kerbis designed the 1962 O'Hare Airport Rotunda, which Landmarks Illinois included on its 2017 Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois due to its uncertain future amid O'Hare terminal expansion.

* Greta Lederer, a suburban home builder who in the 1950s developed the neighborhoods of Strawberry Hill, Westwood Acres and Skokie Ridge in Glencoe and additional homes in Highland Park and Northbrook. A 1957 Chicago Daily Tribune article attributed to her $10 million worth of home development on the North Shore.

Retired architect Margaret Zirkel Young, who is also included in the Women Who Built Illinois database, said she hopes the project will inspire and motivate more women to enter the architecture profession. Zirkel Young was project architect at Ezra Gordon-Jack M. Levin & Associates for the firm's 1970s design commissions of Chicago's Newberry Plaza, River Plaza and the East Bank Club, to name a few.

"I never questioned being in a room with all men and no women," said Zirkel Young of her career. "I knew from the time of my first drafting class at Senn High School I wanted to be an architect. A favorite Goethe quote I would return to throughout my career was, 'Boldness has genius.'"

Call For Action & Crowdsourced Information
Landmarks Illinois encourages local historic preservation commissions and municipal planning departments to evaluate and prioritize places identified in the Women Who Built Illinois survey for local landmark and/or National Register designations. Landmarks Illinois also welcomes additional research on women in the survey for whom more information is needed. Please send information on existing women in the database and/or of additional women in these fields who were active in Illinois prior to 1979 to LDiChiera@Landmarks.org.

Database Researchers & Partners
Research for and development of the database was led by DiChiera of Landmarks Illinois, Erica Ruggiero, principal at McGuire Igleski & Associates, Inc., and Landmarks Illinois intern Cray Kennedy. Additional research and peer review was provided by Julia Bachrach, a Chicago-based architectural historian, planner and preservationist, and student volunteer Jared Saef, who also contributed research and photography.

The database is made possible thanks to generous financial support from: Women in Restoration & Engineering (WiRE), AIA Illinois, the Kohler Fund for the Midwest of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and Kim Kerbis, in honor of architect Gertrude Lempp Kerbis.

"I am so impressed by this pursuit to research and document the women who are so important to the history of our state and our built world," said Kim Kerbis, project donor and daughter of late architect Gertrude Lempp Kerbis. "Some of these inspiring women are known, many are unknown, but all are underappreciated, under recognized and undervalued. The work Landmarks Illinois and its team of researchers and historians are doing is fascinating and long overdue."

About Landmarks Illinois
We are People Saving Places for People. Landmarks Illinois, now celebrating its 50th Anniversary, is a membership-based nonprofit organization serving the people of Illinois. We inspire and empower stakeholders to save places that matter to them by providing free guidance, practical and financial resources and access to strategic partnerships.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:40 AM | Permalink

We Are The Least Trustworthy People On The Planet

Kabul, it's been noted, was not lost yesterday. It was the inevitable final fall of a calamitous, arrogant, 20-year, trillion-dollar, too-many-deaths imperial misadventure doomed, like too many before it, to failure from its inept start.

In President Joe Biden's speech, generally deemed resolute but callous about the mayhem unfolding, he asked a tough, good question - "How many more generations of America's daughters and sons would you have me send to fight Afghanistan's civil war?" - but framed it in a cynical, disingenuous way by adding, "when Afghan troops will not?"

The fourth president to oversee yet another senseless war in "the graveyard of empires," he thus found an easy target for what is the "breathtaking failure" of longtime U.S. foreign policy while blithely ignoring the blood-soaked, hubris-laden history behind it - a "post-imperial Western fantasy" of disastrous military or CIA interventions through Africa, Latin America, Southeast Asia and then Iran, Syria, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, which was never at war with the U.S. and where Donald Rumsfeld, may he have no rest, demanded President George W. Bush "punish and get out."

Bush and his imperious ilk spoke of nation-building, "as if nations were made of Legos." Instead, we got our forever war, where rather than offer schools, clinics, water, and job training to a beleaguered population, the U.S. blew up whatever infrastructure they had and spent 86% of a staggering trillion dollars - though some say it's closer to 2 trillion - on often hapless military initiatives that, thanks to "a complex ecosystem of defense contractors, Washington banditry" and corruption, largely returned to the U.S. economy. Add in corruption by Afghan elites, and ultimately less than 2% of U.S. money actually went to the people who needed it.

A final irony: Even as the West frantically fought to stop it, soaring Afghan poppy production fueled the insurgency, spreading from six to 28 provinces: "Opium floated the Taliban back to power."

In the end, of course, the cost was human. Over 170,000 Afghans were killed. According to Brown University's Costs of War project, they are among over 800,000 people who have died from our imperial wars since 9/11; several times as many have died "due to the reverberating effects of war," about 37 million have been displaced, and the U.S. still conducts "counter-terror activities" in 85 countries.

In Kabul, meanwhile, there are already images and stories of the humanitarian crisis to come: Fleeing crowds at the airport, a jammed cargo plane of refugees, Taliban fighters painting over billboards of modern Afghan women, who now stand to lose their rights and maybe their lives for, say, baring their heads or shopping without a male relative.

One story about the swift takeover includes a photo of Zarifa Ghafari, one of the country's first female mayors; she could not escape, it notes, "and she is waiting for the rebels to kill her."

The mayhem got to veteran and journalist Laura Jedeed, who deployed there twice and started remembering things: "Going through the phones of the people we detained and finding clip after clip of Bollywood musicals," whose owners are getting shipped "god knows where," U.S. forces trying to decide every year what to do with the opium fields - let them alone (the Taliban shake down the farmers and use the money for weapons), carpet bomb the fields (the farmers join the Taliban), give the farmers fertilizer to grow wheat (they sell the fertilizer to the Taliban for explosives), orders not to throw away batteries because Afghans on bases would collect them to get enough juice for one IED charge, her roommate's face after she had to cut two soldiers out of a Humvee probably blown-up by fertilizer and detonated by thrown-out batteries, an Afghan kid they called Cowboy who served them food but is likely dead now. If so, "It's our fault for going there in the first place, giving his family the option of trusting us when we are the least trustworthy people on the planet. We use people up and throw them away like it's nothing."

There was only Team Taliban or Team Stay Forever, but she was Team Get The Fuck Out Of Afghanistan.

"I know how bad the Taliban is. It's awful," she says, but "all I feel is grim relief." Finally, you have to see it too. "No more pretending it meant anything. It didn't. It didn't mean a fucking thing."

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Previously by Abby Zimet:

* When John Prine Gets To Heaven.

* The Taste Of Subservience.

* When You Win, You're English. When You Lose, You're Black.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:03 AM | Permalink

August 17, 2021

Postcard From Thermal: Surviving The Climate Gap In Eastern Coachella Valley

The first thing to know about Thermal, California is this: It's really damn hot. Already, at this early date in our planetary crisis, 139 days a year are over 95 degrees Fahrenheit in Thermal. Over the next 30 years, temperatures will rise 4 to 5 degrees more, and by the end of the century, more than half the year will be hotter than 95 and nearly a quarter will be hotter than 112.

The second thing to know about Thermal, California, is this: It's a cartoonishly horrible expression of a moral and practical issue that exists, at some level, in every society on Earth. The climate crisis is an inequality magnifier. The heat and the hurricanes, the flooding and the wildfire smoke, slam down with full force on the disadvantaged. Meanwhile, the more privileged remain comparatively safe, protected by money and power.

That difference in suffering is known as the climate gap, defined by researchers in a foundational paper on the subject as "the disproportionate and unequal impact the climate crisis has on people of color and the poor."

All over California - all over the United States - such gaps are increasingly evident. People of color, the poor and the undocumented live in hotter places. Latino workers labor outside more and are more likely to lack potable water. There are often substantial temperature differences between more and less affluent parts of the same cities. A study of 20 urban areas in the American Southwest revealed a 4-degree Fahrenheit gap between the poorest 10% of neighborhoods and the wealthiest 10% of neighborhoods in the same towns. The same pattern held when comparing white neighborhoods and Latino neighborhoods.

Among the states studied, the so-called thermal inequalities in California were the worst. And within California, Palm Springs, just 30 minutes from Thermal, and Inland Empire, the next-closest urban area, showed the worst differences of all: 6 to 7 degrees.

To understand how the climate gap was playing out in California, we decided to take a close look at the Coachella Valley, a 45-mile stretch of desert along the San Andreas fault that contains some of the state's famously fertile agricultural land and some of California's most renowned playgrounds for the rich.

On the west side, the Palm Springs side, are money-green golf courses, misters spraying from palm trees, wide, gorgeously paved roads, and a concert series called Splash House that features a poolside stage.

On the east side, the Thermal side, are gray-green checkerboards of fallow and irrigated fields of grapes, bell peppers and golf-course turf, plus stands of date palms. Interspersed are sun-bleached trailers, homes for the people who work those fields and clean the pools and hotel rooms farther west.

The climate gap that defines the Coachella Valley is even more stark Thermal itself. The unincorporated community's full-time residents are 99% Latino and 78% immigrant non-citizens. Between March and May 2021, more households per capita received rental assistance in Thermal than in any other city or unincorporated community in Riverside County.

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Community organizer Lesly Figueroa took us on a tour of the mobile home parks - Polancos, as they're called around here. The unpaved roads turned to mud-sludge in the rain. Roofs ripped off in high winds. Overloaded improvised electrical systems ignited in the heat. And when those circuits blew, so did the running water, as most of the parks relied on small private wells, and those wells required electrical pumps.

But there's another Thermal, one where part-time residents keep their second (or third, or fourth) homes. These are the sorts of people who refuse to knuckle under to the natural world, instead bending it to their desires. This is the Thermal of the Desert International Horse Park, the Thermal of The Thermal Club, "an all-inclusive private destination for the distinguished motorsport enthusiast." It is also soon to be the Thermal of the Thermal Beach Club, which will feature an artificial 20-acre surf lagoon with custom waves, created by PerfectSwell wave technology.

Historically, the answer to the question of how to live and develop equitably in Thermal, as in the rest of the Coachella Valley, has been that luxury development will make all boats rise. Wealthy tourists, retirees and vacation-home owners will bring in jobs and tax revenue, and, like the sprinklers at resorts, green the whole place up. But that's not at all what has happened so far.

As University of Southern California professor Juan De Lara, who grew up in Thermal and studies the region, put it: "We know trickle-down economics doesn't work."

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One evening this past March, on the east side of Thermal, out by Avenue 70, Pedro Nicolas, 33, stood in flip-flops and basketball shorts on his mobile home's rotting plywood roof, through which his air conditioning, which he really couldn't afford, leaked out all spring, summer and fall.

Oasis Mobile Home Park, where he lived, subsisted on the kind of infrastructure that makes the climate crisis kaleidoscopically worse. The water that poured out of the faucet ran yellow or milky white or brown; it smelled of sewage and was laced with arsenic. The park wasn't hooked up to the municipal water system. The electrical system regularly failed and tenants said the landlord charged them an extra 7 cents, on top of the power company's rate, for every kilowatt hour they used. The dust from the unpaved desert roads was biblically horrible. This, combined with the ozone, made worse by the heat, and the pesticides from the nearby fields, led to a noxious, inflammatory cocktail that swirled deep in Nicolas' family's lungs.

Oasis's approximately 60 acres held about 240 mobile homes (nobody had a firm count, as they arrived and disintegrated on a regular basis) and well over 1,000 residents (nobody had a firm count on that, either). Dogs, hooked on bungee cords, barked behind wire fences. Behind those dogs sat grills and bikes and busted washing machines, the regular detritus of life, along with car-sized mounds of one-gallon plastic water bottles. Lideres Campesinas, a network of women farmworkers, regularly dropped off cases of water. The empties then accumulated waiting to be recycled, held together with twine.

In 2006, Nicolas had hired a coyote to smuggle him from Mexico to the U.S., where he moved in with his brother in Thermal. Many others from his indigenous Mexican Purhépecha community outside Michoacán lived there. A year later, Nicolas returned for Maria de Jesus Diego Bautista, now his wife, whom he'd met when he was 11 and she was 14.

"This is the north?" she said when she arrived. The dozens of familiar faces comforted her, particularly as she and Nicolas were, and are, undocumented. But the trailer park in Thermal? "I didn't think it was so ugly here," she said.

Starting at age 9, Nicolas had dreamed of building a house, with separate bedrooms for each of his children and enough space outside for horses and for Nicolas to "walk around there and say, 'This is mine.'"

But in Mexico he'd worked for nine years - carrying wood, building strawberry boxes, selling mobile phones - and could only afford to lay one corner of the foundation. The mobile home in Oasis had three bedrooms: one painted pink for Cinthia, 10, one painted dark purple for Erik, 11, and the third for Pedro and Maria. But the holes in the ceiling over that third bedroom were just too big, so Pedro and Maria slept on a stack of fleece blankets on the living room rug.

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When Nicolas arrived in California, he started working in the fields for $7 an hour. After 15 years, he makes $14 an hour. Every day he works, no matter how hot, he layers up to protect himself from pesticides and the sun, driving out of Oasis Mobile Home Park into that gray-green checkerboard to plant, pick or pack strawberries or cauliflower or broccoli or carrots.

The total crop value in the Coachella Valley dropped approximately 20% between 2015 and 2019, according to figures from the local water district. Much of that is due to growers moving operations to Mexico for cheaper labor - one strategy for keeping overhead low enough to continue selling quarts of strawberries at grocery stores for $3.99. But the climate doesn't help.

The valley is not just "sort of at the hot edge of agriculture," said Ray Anderson, a research soil scientist in the USDA's Agricultural Water Efficiency and Salinity Research Unit in Riverside, California. "In the summer it can be the hottest agricultural region on Earth."

Kneeling on the soil without pads burnt Nicolas' knees. If he picked by headlamp at night, there were snakes. In recent years, Nicolas started noticing his age, feeling too wiped out by work to return home and immediately play with his kids. He needed to nap.

"It's not so much the sun - the humidity makes you drown," he said. "You're sweating and sweating and cannot breathe."

California requires growers to provide more heat protections for farm workers than any other state, but, as Nicolas noted, the law as practiced in the field is not the law on the books.

"People pass out from dehydration all the time," he said.

Nicolas usually made about $300 a week. Two weeks' pay a month went to food, $475 went to rent, $50 to gas, and the remaining $75 was for utilities, though this was laughably far from enough.

In the summer, Nicolas' monthly utility bills reached $300. He worked as many hours as he could, but July and August were slow. Trying to stay cool felt hopeless. His front door didn't really close. The window air conditioning units didn't really fit. The mobile home had never had insulation. His whole family slept in the hallway that ran through the center of the trailer, as that was the coolest place.

A couple summers ago Nicolas bought a generator, which he couldn't really afford, to power the air conditioning, which he couldn't really afford. But he also couldn't really afford to drive around for two, three, four hours at a stretch to keep his family cool by running the air conditioning in his car.

To try to fill the hole in their budget, Bautista did piecework, embroidering and sewing sequins on dresses. She used to work in the fields, too, but now stayed home to take care of their son, who had autism and was often frustrated by his inability to communicate.

Fixing the roof of the mobile home was not an option. They purchased their home for $2,000. One contractor quoted Nicolas $18,000 for repairs. Another said $15,000. "Do I look like a guy who has $15,000?" he said.

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How mobile homes like Nicolas's are going to fare in the climate crisis is "quite frankly, not the sexiest to academics," according to Greg Pierce, co-director of the Luskin Center for Innovation at UCLA.

But there's wide consensus that the issue is understudied and that residents of older manufactured housing (the preferred term) are at grave risk.

In California, mobile homes are disproportionately located in the hottest census tracts. Due to a lack of "walling integrity" - i.e., holes and lack of insulation - people living in such housing spend twice as much of their income on cooling.

Mobile homes built before 1976, when the Department of Housing and Urban Development updated building and safety standards, are especially vulnerable. Their aluminum wiring may catch fire. The tar that holds old metal roofs together sometimes melts. In Maricopa County, Arizona, mobile homes account for only 4.9% of the housing stock but 27.5% of indoor heat-related deaths.

"Every year in the summer we're on high alert," said Mike Walsh, deputy director at the Housing Authority of the County of Riverside.

The power fails in the mobile home parks and with it go the fans, air conditioners and swamp coolers. He's got generators on hand, and hotel room vouchers, but he still worries all the time as the need far exceeds his resources.

As parts of the country get hotter and drier, arsenic exposure is becoming more common. In a paper published this year, the United States Geological Survey estimated that the number of Americans in the contiguous United States who will be exposed to elevated arsenic levels from private wells in the next drought will increase from 2.7 million to 4.1 million. Chronic arsenic exposure is associated with cancer and an array of other health problems. Some of the increased arsenic exposure happens when wells run dry and communities need to find new water supplies and, in the process, they encounter the naturally occurring arsenic that's always been in the ground.

In other communities, like California's Central Valley, overpumping of groundwater is "causing the aquifer to compress like a sponge," as UC Riverside soil geochemist Sam Ying put it, and this can lead to higher arsenic concentrations in groundwater. "I don't think we know exactly what's happening in the Coachella Valley yet."

In September 2020, the Environmental Protection Agency issued an emergency order to Oasis Mobile Home Park because of arsenic levels of 78 to 90 parts per billion in the drinking water, far over the legal limit of 10 ppb. This was not news. The EPA had found arsenic problems in 2019 as well. This time, the park's primary well had failed. The arsenic concentrations in the water from the back-up well were higher and required additional treatment.

So the EPA required the Oasis Mobile Home Park's landlord to supply each resident with one gallon of water per day. He started doing so. Three days later, he gave notice that rent would be increased by $100 a month.

Nicolas hit his limit. He didn't have a lot of levers to pull to improve his situation. But after Lesly Figueroa and a colleague of hers from Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability, a nonprofit that focuses on poor, rural California, started meeting with Oasis residents, he signed on as the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit against his landlord, Scott Lawson, and the landlord's daughter, Sabrina Lawson, that alleged a litany of "unsafe and unhealthy living conditions." (Scott Lawson has since died and Sabrina Lawson has not responded to the complaint.)

"The weather is crazy, the weather is going crazy," he said. "We can't go on living like this. It's not sustainable. I don't think we can endure it."

* * * * *

In front of The Thermal Club - and in front of The Thermal Club only - is a gorgeous sidewalk, a perfect river of perfect cement, landscaped with bougainvillea, flashing silver in the light. This sidewalk connects to nothing. No one appears to walk on it. Behind that sidewalk is a wall about 18 feet high, and behind that wall is a 424-acre shrine to fossil fuel: over five miles of racetrack, folded in on itself like entrails, on which the extremely wealthy race extremely expensive automobiles; 60 villas, which average 8,000 square feet and $4.5 million; and a climate-controlled garage called the Vault, where cars reside in far more comfort than the residents of the Oasis Mobile Home Park.

The wall, according to building permits, is designed to keep in the engine noise from race cars like McLarens and Lamborghinis. But across the street from the wall are a clutch of trailers desiccating like carrion. And who wants to see that?

The Thermal Club sits less than five miles from Oasis Mobile Home Park and is owned by Tim and Twanna Rogers, who, according to public records, also own a home in a lovely coastal community south of Los Angeles. When the Rogerses started building The Thermal Club, in 2012, their LLC, Thermal Operating Company, filed a trademark for the phrase "private pavement." This was not just a selling point. It seems to be the selling point, suggesting that inside the walls is a whole world, with its own special infrastructure, just for you. The Club describes itself as "A PRIVATE COMMUNITY MADE UP OF A SELECT FEW OF THE MOST DRIVEN AND PASSIONATE HUMANS ON EARTH." (Caps theirs.)

Swimming pools, a spa, copious shade, top-notch "trackside professionals" to "inspect and ensure your experience is impeccable," a restaurant with signature cocktails and an "in-house French pastry chef." You're not really in Thermal, you're just here.

Hoping to talk about the climate gap and Thermal in general, we called Tim Rogers repeatedly. We e-mailed him repeatedly. We reached out to everybody we could find who worked at The Thermal Club. No luck. Finally, one day Rogers picked up the phone and said politely but very firmly, no way was he going to talk to us. (Later, when we reached out to Rogers again with detailed queries to fact check this article, he wrote back one line: "The information you have is not accurate." When we then wrote back to ask him to please correct those inaccuracies, he did not answer.)

So to peek inside The Thermal Club, one of us signed up for a driving class. (We're climate reporters - we know.) This got us behind the wall but didn't grant us access to the kingdom's inner sanctum, which is protected by another gate. We can report that driving around in circles really fast is fun if you don't think at all about the externalized costs. Also, when it's really hot, you'll destroy your tires if you ask them to do two hard things at once, like turn and brake.

Rogers, who is 68 and looks like he could play a U.S. president on 1990s TV, told a reporter from Autocar in February 2020 that he and Twanna had built this club because "we belonged to several country clubs, and they're beautiful, with a golf course around you, nice homes, and a common interest with the people near you. But we have maybe 125 of those in the Coachella Valley, and not everyone golfs."

In 2018, he told The Desert Sun that he originally thought they'd invest $30 million in the project but had spent $150 million by that point.

The Rogerses made their fortune selling gas to 7-Elevens and founding Tower Energy, a privately held company that has its own chain of gas stations-slash-convenience stores, which reports "over $5 billion in revenue yearly," according to the business's LinkedIn page.

The couple has a history of opposing California's efforts to throttle down greenhouse gases, including contributing $200,000 from their company to an unsuccessful 2010 ballot measure to suspend an emissions-reduction target.

To become a Thermal Club member, you need to pay your $125,000 membership fee (plus monthly dues), though that is just the start. You also need to buy a plot of land (one lot sold this year for $1.7 million) and then build yourself a villa on it. Or you can purchase a spec home.

As noted in the plan governing the development, almost all of these villas are not primary residences. Instead, they are "racetrack recreational units," accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, but, by definition, vacation homes that no one can legally live in full time.

The club's promotional video is an homage to excess.

Picture yourself and your incredibly rich, incredibly good-looking partner pulling into your 10-car garage, caressing your vehicles, looking meaningfully at each other, driving your Porsche over to the clubhouse for dinner, having amazing sex (mercifully, this is only implied in the video), waking up shirtless and stepping into your fireproof jumpsuit, and heading down to the track, where, after you drive, a pro will talk you through the finer points of your performance in the glorious shade.

One member recently bought multiple lots, Rogers said in a recent interview: space to build a 37,000 square-foot home, plus two lots across the street to prevent someone else from blocking his view.

California's Health and Safety Code section 43001 exempts "racing vehicles" from emission standards. Section 39048 defines a racing vehicle as "a competition vehicle not used on public highways." Welcome to private pavement.

A sort of sister project is in the works, Thermal Beach Club, on the same large chunk of land in Thermal known as Kohl Ranch. Thermal Beach Club, like the racetrack, will allow members to "reign over the water in your private paradise" - not just private pavement but a whole bespoke climate.

Private water patterns to create a lake. Private temperatures, too - the lagoon plus landscaping depicted in mock-up photos would create significant cooling, experts say.

This is one of four planned wave parks in the Coachella Valley. In the nearby town of La Quinta, surf legend Kelly Slater is hoping to build the Kelly Slater Surf Resort at Coral Mountain, backed by Charles Schwab's son's money. The property was originally approved for a golf resort. But who wants to play golf when it's 120 degrees?

The moment you exit The Thermal Club, you're back in front of the desiccating trailers, back on the sidewalk to nowhere, back among the fields where your neighbors, who are not really your neighbors, labor to feed the nation off some of the hottest farmland on Earth.

But then it's off to the coast or wherever you choose. "We're kind of living the dream," Twanna Rogers said of this buttressed world she built to a member of the automotive press as she drove him around the track for a video interview in December 2017. "Wouldn't you be living the dream if you had this?"

* * * * *

The best definition of the climate gap we've heard is from Heather McTeer Toney, the former mayor of Greenville, Mississippi, in testimony earlier this year before the U.S. House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis.

"We're all in the storm, but we're not in the same boat," she said. "Some of us are in rowboats while others are in yachts. Some of us are sitting on aircraft carriers while others are just bobbing along on a floatie."

Everywhere, every day, in and around Thermal, you can see this on display.

Elected officials for District 4 in Riverside County, which encompasses Thermal, are not blind to the climate crevasse in front of them. Steven Hernandez, chief of staff to District Supervisor Manuel Perez, argues that much of it is quite deliberate.

"We know, in this valley, that certain areas developed before others on purpose. It was done on purpose," Hernandez said.

The intent was to keep the west valley glinting and elegant and the east valley agricultural and cheap, a low-budget bedroom community for farmworkers and service workers who commute west to cook, garden and clean.

In the past eight years, Riverside County has only issued permits for 4.2% of the low-income housing that the state of California determined it needed to build, and for 4.9% of the very low-income housing. Hernandez blames former Gov. Jerry Brown for, in 2011, ending California's redevelopment program, a key funding source for such projects.

"They took away water investment. Sewer investment. Money to bring in parks. Dunzo. Done," Hernandez said. "They replaced it with statewide competitive grants that are tailored to urban communities."

These grants - some of which are derived from cap-and-trade money - do tend to encourage good climate policy: denser housing in walkable communities with more urban greening. Some of this grant money is explicitly set aside for climate-focused rural projects.

Still, it's left some officials in rural communities like Thermal, which already lacked infrastructure and housing, claiming they feel even more stressed for funds than before.

This compounds a history of neglect. There's never been adequate housing for farmworkers, who, on average, earn between $15,000 and $17,499 a year.

"Across the state, from Kern County to farmworker communities in the Central Coast, low-income and communities of color are on the front lines of the accelerating climate crisis," said Neena Mohan, climate justice program manager for the California Environmental Justice Alliance.

Of the $5.7 billion in proposed climate resiliency funding in the 2021-22 California state budget, the North Coast region (one of the whitest regions in the state) will receive $1,124 per capita in investments. The Inland Deserts will receive $443 per capita; the San Joaquin Valley, $199.

"Race and racism are inescapable components of what's going on out there," said Coachella city council member Megan Beaman Jacinto. "And until that's recognized and addressed on a governmental level, the problems will persist."

Poor communities of color have been neglected and pushed to the margins - in Thermal, that happened in part because the county tagged residents of old mobile homes and mobile home parks for code violations they couldn't afford to fix.

Riverside County's pattern of more frequently tagging mobile homes owned by Latino families resulted, in 2000, in the settlement with HUD of a discrimination case for $21 million, some of which went to the county to build community projects and low-income housing, and some of which went directly to 24 farmworker families.

The enforcement pattern also led members of the local Torres Martinez tribe to create parks for these unpermitted, unfixable mobile homes on tribal lands where the county and state lacked enforcement power. (The tribe did not respond to requests for comment.)

"The county created this problem and also needs to solve it," Beaman Jacinto said. "You can't ignore the fact that the communities that receive no investment - and who don't have drinking water, and who don't have sewer infrastructure, and who are living in uninhabitable mobile homes and in other dwelling units that are unpermitted - are nonwhite communities."

Understanding that developers and landlords were unlikely to pay for needed infrastructure in poorer, more rural parts of Riverside County, the Coachella Valley Water District mapped out communities served by private wells and created a plan to start hooking them up to safe water. The map itself was far from complete, as it did not include the many unpermitted parks. Still, the district doesn't have the money to execute even that limited plan.

"It's good to have it in a concept," said Castulo Estrada, the CVWD's first Latino board member.

But while CVWD has secured $15 million in grant funding, the district cannot use ratepayer revenue to fund new connections.

The Riverside County Board of Supervisors meeting at which they'd vote to approve or reject The Thermal Beach Club, in October 2020, felt like a fight for the soul of the town. Midway through the 4-hour-and-43-minute saga, a Thermal Beach Club representative in a nice black suit stood up with a tsunami of material to make his case.

Thermal Beach Club had agreed to raise its donation to the town of Thermal from $1,000 to $2,300 per residential unit sold, meaning it would donate $750,000 to a community fund that could be used for water hookups. (After The Thermal Club was approved, the Rogerses donated land in nearby Coachella for a health center and placed money in a community fund for Thermal to build a public park.) Thermal Beach Club also promised to support the strangely extant surf club at Desert Mirage High School. Plus, he said, they'd be open to amending the Kohl Ranch Specific Plan to provide a contribution to affordable housing, including donating land.

But when Perez, the district supervisor, opened up the hearing to community testimony, volleys started to fly across the climate gap.

From the haves to the have-nots, the argument in favor of approving the Thermal Beach Club amounted to: You need our money. A former four-term mayor of Coachella stood up and read a list of county agencies and how much each would benefit if the club got built.

From the have-nots to the haves, the argument was: We do not want to be rescued by the rich. We want to matter ourselves.

"With the Thermal Beach Club, we can add another place our people can't afford to enter," one young man said, reading a message for his uncle. His family had lived here for generations and heard this story before. "Our people work in hospitals where they can't afford to be treated. They work in restaurants where they can't afford to eat. Work in hotels where they can't afford to stay. And we're being convinced of better jobs and higher pay when we know that time and time again, these promises and these possibilities never come to fruition."

The have-nots also expressed concern about gentrification - developments for the more affluent continuing their west-to-east march, pushing the full-time community there now farther away from infrastructure, including hospitals, and closer to toxic dust near the Salton Sea.

* * * * *

The first step toward narrowing the climate gap here is maddeningly simple and elusive. A few years ago, Lift to Rise, a nonprofit founded in 2018 to address the overwhelming forces aligned against poor people in the Coachella Valley, partnered with a project at the USC Price Center for Social Innovation to gather and map demographic data so that government officials and others could create better policy.

What's needed in Thermal? Better housing, of course, but at an even more basic level, eastern Coachella Valley residents need more money. Otherwise, there's no way to make the math work.

"Pay your people more" - that's Lift to Rise CEO Heather Vaikona's first message for the region's haves.

"Everyone who lives here needs to recognize the ways that they benefit from labor that is not paid enough," she said.

Meanwhile, of course, the growers are feeling squeezed by competition from Mexico, where labor costs are far lower.

"Are people willing to pay more for food? They're not," said Rachael Johnson, executive director of the Riverside County Farm Bureau. "How are you going to pay more for your labor if people are not willing to pay more in grocery stores?"

Shortly before the vote on the Thermal Beach Club, Supervisor Kevin Jeffries, from Riverside's 1st District, which includes several low-income rural communities on the western edge of the county, addressed Perez and the room. He'd heard the have-nots, and you could hear in his voice that he sympathized with those who'd testified to the fundamental indignity they felt was inherent in the county approving a surf park while failing to provide basic infrastructure for the neediest. But he thought there was not a better way.

"I have three or four, maybe five unincorporated disadvantaged communities" in my district, he said. "I live in one of them . . . We're really struggling with infrastructure."

He thought the true burden rested entirely on the government's shoulders, not the private sector.

"It's our problem, and the county government just doesn't have the revenue stream," he said.

As he saw it, the only way to fund that infrastructure was to allow private development.

"It's not pretty," said Jeffries. "But I gotta tell you right now . . . I'll take you in a heartbeat to help get some streets paved, some water lines in, some sewer lines in, because we don't have them in parts of the community . . . and there's none in sight."

The Riverside County Board of Supervisors voted to approve The Thermal Beach Club 5-0.

* * * * *

So how, in this landscape, across this wide divide, do we fix the climate gap? The scope of this question tongue-ties even experts in the field.

"In addition to overhauling our entire system?" said Mijin Cha, assistant professor of urban and environmental policy at Occidental College.

"Climate to me is really about ecology, right?" said De Lara, the professor who specializes in geography. "Access to water in the eastern Coachella Valley cannot be separated out from development and cannot be separated out from issues of growth and the right to clean and potable water."

For Nicolas, none of this was an abstraction. He remained determined to improve his family's living conditions. As he moved forward with the lawsuit against his landlord, he also applied, again, for a new, publicly subsidized mobile home at a park in Thermal called Mountain View Estates.

This facility had been built by Riverside County in partnership with a private developer in response to a lawsuit filed in 2007 over Duroville, the mobile home park where Nicolas lived with his brother when he first arrived in California.

Mountain View Estates was paved and irrigated, as per permitted plans, the electricity to the units was properly metered, and the units themselves were new, with central air conditioning, to efficiently keep cool.

On March 25, 2021, the county called: Nicolas had finally been approved. Was this related to the lawsuit? The journalists in his living room? Did it matter?

When Nicolas told Bautista about the new mobile home, she just repeated their new unit number twice - "228, 228" - and allowed herself a small smile.

"That's all?" Nicolas asked.

"That's all," Bautista said.

She's been living here too long to let down her guard so soon.

Over the next few months, other Oasis Mobile Home Park residents received good news: Local residents, advocates and an assemblyman successfully lobbied the California legislature to allot $30 million of the state's 2021-22 state budget for their relocation.

This was a victory, though it would likely take years to carry out, and the gap still yawned wide. Summer was coming, with 117-degree days that Nicolas would spend bent at the waist, picking peppers in the fields. Friends from Oasis Mobile Home Park sent their kids to nap in Nicolas's living room. The climate wasn't any better at Mountain View Estates, but the human defenses against it were.

How long would the protections of his new home be enough? Nicolas knew the meter was running. The solution he'd found for his family was nothing compared to the Vault for the race cars at The Thermal Club.

Mollie Simon contributed reporting.

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Previously in Coachella:

* Teaching At The Oasis, our four-part 2012 series from Thermal, by our very own Roger Wallenstein.

* Coronavirus Spring: Mesa vs. Coachella.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:01 AM | Permalink

August 16, 2021

Baseball Fever

Play catch. Have a catch. Doesn't matter what you call it, the game was on full display last Thursday in Iowa.

I'm not sure just when humans began throwing a sphere back and forth in a friendly manner. Maybe a rounded rock was the first missile, but for our purposes we're talking about two people, each wearing a glove, and a ball covered in cowhide secured by 108 stitches.

Playing catch, the linchpin for W.P. Kinsella's book Shoeless Joe, which, as we all know, morphed into the film Field of Dreams, deserves more than a shallow perusal.

It is an exercise in cooperation. Whether it's Tim Anderson and Yoan Moncada warming up before a major league championship game or a parent casually playing toss with a son or daughter in the backyard or local park, the objective involves throwing the ball as accurately as possible. We're not always successful, and that's alright. It's the thought that counts.

Making one's partner leap for the ball, block an errant throw, or chase after a heave that is far left or right is antithetical to the game. We try to be helpful by aiming for the center of our mate's body, preferably above the waist. How many of us have uttered "I'm sorry" when making a poor throw? We're remorseful when that happens. If it's a grandfather, as it is in my case, playing with a son or grandchild who heaves one over my head, he even yells, "Don't worry, I'll get it."

I haven't reached the point thus far when I can't jog after the ball, but the sentiment is not lost on me. It feels good.

At the close of Field of Dreams when Kevin Costner plays catch with his dad's ghost under the arc lights of Iowa, they both display accuracy and fine form. A connection, missing from years earlier, is finally made. All by playing catch.

In addition, none of this can be enacted with anything but a baseball. Sure, folks play catch with a football, but that oval is so much more difficult to control. A child goes out for a pass, but how many moms or dads, aside from Tom Brady, can hit the kid in mid-stride? Adults and kids surely can connect shooting baskets, but that requires a court and a net, as well as taking a risk that a one-on-one struggle ensues where there's a winner and loser.

But this time-tested experience of tossing a baseball back and forth, interspersed with conversation about anything that comes to mind, has endured. The exercise can take place in big cities and little towns, on grass or dirt, a sidewalk, or in the middle of the street if it's not so busy.

Baseball jargon has seeped into just about every facet of our lives, so if we implore two sides of an issue to "play ball" with one another, perhaps we need to simply start with a game of catch. Just think if Nancy Pelosi - chances are good she throws left-handed - were to engage Kevin McCarthy - definitely a righty, maybe even a sidearm right-hander - in a friendly game of catch.

Of course, this is where all this business of having the White Sox meet the Yankees last week began. I admit to skepticism that built up ever since the scheme was hatched by Major League Baseball. I love the movie; seen it numerous times often in the morning's wee hours while channel surfing. It never gets old. Why not just leave it at that? Why blemish the landscape with another ballpark, far bigger than Ray Kinsella's, altering the pristine nature of what had been built more than 30 years ago?

Like eliminating four pitches for an intentional walk, having the DH in one league but not the other, putting a runner on second to start an extra inning, and trying futilely to speed up the game - the average time this season is three hours, eight minutes, the longest ever - I figured the suits would screw this one up as well. Face value of tickets began around $400 and by game time Stubhub listed some for thousands. This would not be an event for the masses.

Of course, the game was more about the 5.9 million watching on television - the largest audience for a regular season game since 2005 - than the 8,000 folks in the stands. One-in-four Chicago households watching television Thursday evening were tuned into the game. The White Sox have become the toast of the town.

I was waiting for the bass baritone voice of James Earl Jones to declare, "If you televise, Mr. Manfred, people will watch. They will most definitely watch."

The optics were enticing and consuming. While dozens of wildfires were raging in the West with floods affecting property and lives throughout the nation, the scene in Iowa was peaceful, verdant and lush. Replacing signage, gigantic video boards, and seats at big league parks were images of corn, which, like playing catch, we often take for granted. Whoever thought of having see-through outfield fencing should get a raise. I've never seen corn so green. It was, well, as "high as an elephant's eye." Drought? Not in Iowa.

The hot air balloon that floated over those fields mid-game added to the panorama. Possibly that was staged, but the breath-taking sunset surely wasn't.

When Kevin Costner emerged from the cornfield to introduce the game followed by the Sox and Yankees, all cynicism melted away. The fact that players of all colors from many places other than the United States added to the celebration of the game.

More than three hours later when Anderson's home run dropped into the green stalks behind the right field fence, one had to marvel at how fortunate we all were to see such a contest. What if the Sox and Yankees put on a show of walks, strikeouts and an occasional home run - rather than the eight that were hit in the game - that have become all too familiar in today's game? If the idea was to attract more fans to the game, it worked.

Whether the non-fans who simply were curious to investigate the hype will become more interested in the game remains to be seen. I tend to doubt their conversion.

For us Sox fans, we learned that this was the 15th time in history that our team beat the Yankees on a walk-off home run. That was lovely news although most of my memories were just the opposite, and justifiably so. The New Yorkers have walked off the Sox 22 times, including three occasions in the 1950s, twice courtesy of Mickey Mantle and once by Yogi Berra. Babe Ruth was the first to do it. In fact, he doomed the Sox four times. But, again, we found solace and delight knowing that Shoeless Joe was the first White Sox to end a game against the Yankees with a home run.

Were there touches that could have enhanced Thursday night? The movie was equally about family as it was about fathers and sons. And Amy Madigan, a Chicagoan by birth, played Annie Kinsella, Ray's wife. Where was she last week? The connection should have been obvious.

I also was a bit confused by the traditional flyover at the end of the national anthem. Those looked like jets but not the Blue Angels. What were they? Regardless, a quartet of crop dusters would have been most appropriate as long as they would not have dumped a dose of pesticides on the land.

None of us will soon forget Thursday's game. Even the two losses to the Yankees over the weekend didn't diminish the exhilaration and euphoria of the game played in Iowa. Watching the game with my wife and older son, rooting hard for the Sox, was exactly what we needed to do. When it was all over, darkness had fallen so a game of catch wasn't in the cards.

But watching Field of Dreams for the umpteenth time was the next best option. And we took it.

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Former Bill Veeck bar buddy Roger Wallenstein is our White Sox correspondent. He welcomes your comments.

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1. From Barbara Finn, former Chicagoan living in Arroyo Grande, California:

This one touched me deeply . . . playing catch. We've all done it to a greater or lesser extent.

Having an older brother and male cousins who played and excelled in junior and high school baseball I, rather a tomboy, considered throwing a baseball like a guy the ultimate achievement.

My Uncle Butch inspired his sons to play baseball. He was the catcher on a Japanese team here on the central coast before WWII spoiled things. But the Japanese internees pursued their love of baseball in the camps. To see old photos of the diamonds that were created in the desert landscape and the fans that cheered them on one would think it was a typical baseball scene except for the guard towers.

Now, my cousin, Raymond, who lamented that three of his grandsons have taken up roller hockey instead of baseball, has a granddaughter who at age 12 is literally knocking it out of the park.

Jayden, whose dad, Michael, coaches her team, has gone to softball camps in Oklahoma and Oregon and more recently to one at UCLA. So, the tradition of playing ball continues in the Tamura family.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:23 AM | Permalink

August 14, 2021

TrackNotes: No Thanks A Million

Let's take the Highlights for Handicappers Quiz.

Which of these are real horse races?

1. The Mickey D.

2. The Beverly D.

3. The McCaskey Handicap (for old maidens non-winners of any over 35 years).

4. The Mr. Submarine Mile.

5. The Bruce D.

6. The Davey Deals Dash.

7. The Mr. D.

8. The NotoriousBS D.

9. The Wrecking Ball Futurity.

In a paean to massive ego and abject betrayal of personal history, and a lesson in The Art of the Sellout, Arlington Park will conduct its last Big Day of Racing Saturday, on what used to be called Million Day.

So as to not dare generate any excitement for local racing, Churchill Downs Inc., with the blessing of 99-and-counting God figure Richard Duchossois, even cheaped out on the races named after family members this year. Miserly is as miserly does.

The Secretariat Stakes was renamed the Bruce D., after the late son, who already had a race named for him. 2019: $500,000. 2021: $300,000. Grade I? Whatever you say, Mr. Lame D. Uck.

The Beverly D., which always was named for the late wife, still a Grade I. 2019: $600,000. 2021: $400,000.

The Mr. D. The former Million joins stellar company, anything from a TV series, to a packaged food site, to a kabob house to your all-occasions source for a bouncy house.

But Saturday, it's a Grade I, 10-furlong turfer. 2019: $1,000,000. 2021: $600,000.

I'm not going to crunch numbers. But I'll betcha, just for the sadistic pleasure of it, the Simon Legrees in the accounting department in Louisville cut just enough corners to total, yes, $1,000,000.

That would also include most food stands closed, no kiddie clowns or pony rides or even bouncy houses, forget the lousy Led Zeppelin tribute band from Rolling Meadows, and they probably wouldn't pay the labor to install the dozens of park benches on the apron to relieve the tired butts like me. I'll be watching for that.

They also have always charged more to get in, more to park and more to everything on "Million Day." The displays of jockey silks on the wall, which gave you something interesting to look at while traipsing the betting esplanade or riding the escalators, I've heard, are gone.

I heard the paddock at Arlington has been closed. It stands right with, in my TV head and having visited Arlington many times, the parades of Saratoga and Santa Anita. I'm guessing they'll open it up Saturday, just for the show of it. Although don't bet on it, because there won't be a TV network within what, 980 miles of the place? But it would only make it worse for any true racing fan.

And what about "Against All Odds," the statue depicting John Henry's still-discussed win over The Bart in the first Million? And it wasn't against all odds. John Henry was 1.10-1 and The Bart was 40-1.

The best solution would be to donate - is that word even in CDI's vocabulary? - to the Racing Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs. But knowing CDI, it will choose either the Gold and Silver Pawn Shop in Las Vegas or, much closer, 710 E. Green in Bensenville. If they keep it where it is, on "This Spot Was the Site of the Arlington Park Paddock," it could be next to the dumpster behind the Hong Kong Gardens in the strip mall. I'm sure that's a risk they would be willing to take.

Please keep in mind that as far as I can determine, these three races have lost their status as "Win and You're In" races for the Breeders' Cup. Not that it hardly matters. Domestic Spending will get in anyway. A few of the others might also. It's just that they won't have their expenses paid.

As far as the Mr. D, as a race itself is concerned, it will be a matter of the Euros sending their platoon players. See, the Euros on turf bide their time, pick it up on the far turn and then pour it on like a snowball on a hill. And they love the type of turf Arlington will deliver Saturday. It's like the redcoats winning a battle on this day.

But they're not the best Europe has to offer. Like the Edsel, the Euros are not The Beatles or the Stones. More like Gerry and the Pacemakers. Peter and Gordon? Or Chad and Jeremy? Hold all tickets.

Eyes might be smiling on Armory, the four-year-old Irish son of the late, great Galileo, who passed away just recently. Super trainer Aidan O'Brien, with good-as-it-gets jock Ryan Moore aboard, ships in. He's 9-2 and if he stays that way, or better, I might just bet. His speed figures are just wonderful.

Brendan Walsh, new trainer for the Brit horse Space Traveler, Harry's new nickname, also figures.

Hayever, they'll both come face to face with Domestic Spending, a British horse who has been racing here. He might be the finest older turf horse - at four! - in America or anywhere. He comes in on an improvement trend in the Grade I Manhattan at Belmont, Grade I Turf Classic at Churchill Downs, and the Grade I Hollywood Derby at Del Mar, in backwards order. His Beyer Speed Figures have improved in every one of his seven races and hot jockey Flavien Prat has gotten the most out of him. And look at that. 'Spending has run a bunch of key races, where not only him, but horses he's beaten, have gone on to win their next races.

I hope I haven't gotten you interested in the colorful pageantry or anything. Because unless you're a Broken Down Horseplayer like me, or you have TVG as part of your college football sports package, you will not find them on television. I've spent the better part of a stagecoach ride looking. Not even, as happened for a few years there, did Arlington pay for time on WGN to show the races, one of them on tape, so as not to preempt Chicago's Best. Fittingly, that show's been cancelled too.

See, CDI doesn't care. They bewitch, bother and bewilder the fans, and are perfectly fine with going out simpering and whimpering.

I'll be streaming Saratoga anyway, so I can check in on what's going on over the rainbow, Metra stop 13.

* * * * *

There's an elephant in the room.

I have an issue with crafty wordsmith Jim O'Donnell's short feature on race magnate and former printing baron Frank Calabrese.

O'Donnell sets the stage with Big Dreaming in the Mr. D. He's the son of Dreaming of Anna, a Calabrese horse we will always remember with great fondness.

Easy for a rich guy, Calabrese plays both sides of the wiseguy fence, trying very hard to not give a shit, calling Arlington management stupid, and then kissing the asses of Duchossois and ruthless CDI CEO William Carstanjen. Who do you think managed the track?

Calabrese blasts the Arlington horsemen over the years for their greed. Was he not a horseman?

O'Donnell dutifully acknowledges Calabrese's 11 straight owner titles, along with sidekick trainer Wayne Catalano. Neil Milbert didn't tell the whole story either.

But let me tell you this: Calabrese, with Catalano's help, did as much damage to Arlington racing as anybody.

Calabrese played the claiming game. But instead of claiming a horse, training him better and striving for higher heights, he did the opposite.

He would claim a horse at any price level you want to mention and drop him down. For example, claim a horse in a $17,000 race and then run him next time in a $12,000 race. Then $9,000. Then $6,000, He got two things out of this: notches on his almighty win pistol, and enough purse money to turn, through volume, a tidy profit at the end of the year.

What this did to the fans was heinous. There goes Calabrese again, running a $14,000 claimer in a $7,000 race. None of the horses at Arlington ever had any form you could handicap, for eff's sake. But for what Calabrese and Catalano were doing, that was their form.

In a five-, six- or seven-horse race, you'd then pound your head against the wall to find something to like in a horse with a higher price. But me and the poser straw fedoras were both doing the same thing - me trying to figure it out, them looking for a price, throw a dart at the highest one.

Place your bet five minutes before the race? Cut that in half - or worse - at the bell, and then watch the tote board change after the race went off. Christalmighty!

You'd get back on the train head-pounding pissed off, feeling the fool. Which is why I stopped going.

And why didn't Duchossois ever complain as Churchill always siphoned off the same level of not-good-anyway horses for half the Arlington meet?

Read the article. Calabrese comes off as a sadistic rich guy who would bulldoze the world if he could make money at it. Because, after all, he owns it.

Dreaming of Anna was too good for him.

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Tom Chambers is our man on the rail. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:00 AM | Permalink

August 13, 2021

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #369: MLB Has A Catch

D'yersville Mak'er. Plus: In The Sox's Sights; Cubs Cupboard Historically Bare; Fields Notes; Ball Game?; Tony O; The Altlympics; and Sky, Red Stars & Fire.

Beachwood Radio Network · The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #369: MLB Has A Catch

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SHOW NOTES

* 369.

:12: D'yersville Mak'er.

*

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25:57: In The Sox's Sights.

* Wallenstein: The Pitching Plan.

* Tim Anderson's problem.

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34:22: Cubs Cupboard Historically Bare.

* Coffman: Hapless Hoyer.

*

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47:05: Fields Notes.

* Justin Time.

* Noon start.

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55:55: Ball Game?

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57:35: Tony O.

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1:00:23: The Altlympics.

*

*

*

*

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1:07:18: Sky, Red Stars & Fire.


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STOPPAGE: 12:16

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For archives and other Beachwood shows, see the Beachwood Radio Network.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:12 PM | Permalink

August 11, 2021

Acres Of Money Laundering: Why U.S. Real Estate Is A Kleptocrat's Dream

What do the Iranian government, a fugitive international jeweler, and a disgraced Harvard University fencing coach have in common? They have all used U.S. real estate to launder their ill-gotten gains.

In Acres of Money Laundering: Why U.S. Real Estate is a Kleptocrat's Dream, Global Financial Integrity (GFI) dives into the murky world of global money laundering and demonstrates the ease with which kleptocrats, criminals, sanctions evaders, and corrupt government officials choose the U.S. real estate market as their preferred destination to hide and launder proceeds from illicit activities.

To tell the story of why U.S. real estate continues to remain a favored destination for illicit activity, GFI built a database of more than 100 real estate money laundering cases from the U.S., UK and Canada, reported between 2015 and 2020.

The database and accompanying regulatory analysis in this report provide conclusive evidence that the current U.S. regulatory approach, using temporary and location-specific Geographic Targeting Orders (GTOs), has critical shortcomings that will require comprehensive reform before it can adequately address the threats to the U.S. financial system and national security.

To provide context to the analysis and recommendations in this report, GFI compares the regulatory developments in the U.S. with ongoing practices, challenges, and developments in the rest of the G7.

Analyzing the problem in the U.S. through this prism helps the U.S. see the merits and demerits of possible regulatory approaches in other similarly placed economies and lends weight to GFI's final recommendations.

At the same time, this approach underscores the continued relevance of real estate money laundering as a systemic risk across the G7 and the need therefore for solutions that are more cooperative.

GFI's key findings on the U.S. include:

  • At a minimum, from cases reported in the last five years, more than $2.3 billion has been laundered through U.S real estate, including millions more through other alternate assets like art, jewelry, and yachts;
  • Gatekeepers including attorneys, real estate agents, investment advisers, and employees of financial institutions have repeatedly facilitated REML by high net-worth individuals through willful blindness or direct complicity, yet the U.S. remains the only G7 country that does not require real estate professionals to comply with anti-money laundering (AML) laws and regulations;
  • 60.71 percent of U.S. cases involved properties in one or more non-GTO counties, demonstrating the limitations of this location-specific regulatory tool;
  • Well over 50 percent of the reported cases in the U.S. involved politically exposed persons, which is particularly problematic considering the lack of guidance from FinCEN on PEP identification;
  • While commercial real estate featured in more than 30 percent of the cases and generally had significantly higher values than the residential real estate involved, the U.S. is yet to create any reporting obligations for risks in the sector;
  • The use of anonymous shell companies and complex corporate structures continues to be the number one money laundering typology. Eighty-two percent of U.S. cases involved the use of a legal entity to mask ownership, highlighting the importance of implementing a robust beneficial ownership registry under the Corporate Transparency Act.

Key Recommendations

GFI proposes the following key recommendations for the U.S. real estate sector in line with international best practices and regulatory developments seen elsewhere in the G7:

  • The GTOs, through a new rule-making, should be made permanent, expanded nationwide, and without any dollar threshold;
  • Real estate agents should be required to identify the beneficial owner of a residential real estate purchase, when title agents are not involved in the transaction;
  • FinCEN should issue guidance, red flag indicators, and create reporting requirements for real estate money laundering typologies related to commercial real estate transactions;
  • Legal professionals should be made the lead reporting entity for identifying money laundering risks in commercial real estate transactions;
  • The U.S. should create robust AML/CFT processes targeted at the real estate sector, including but not limited to a risk-based approach identifying and verifying the source of funds and beneficial owner of the client;
  • FinCEN should issue guidance on the definition of PEPs and an advisory highlighting the risk of foreign PEPs to real estate money laundering schemes. Reporting entities should be required to report when a foreign PEP purchases property;
  • Investment advisors should be required to carry out client due diligence, including enhanced client due diligence where required, on all prospective investors in private (real estate) funds;
  • The U.S. should undertake comprehensive gatekeeper reform for the real estate sector, by lifting the exemption given to real estate professionals under the BSA and include real estate agents and legal professionals who are involved in real estate transactions under the definition of 'financial institutions';
  • The EB-5 visa investor program needs critical reform on the methods used to identify the source of funds and verify investor identity, including processes to record investors that are PEPs.

This post is licensed under a Creative Commons license.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:25 PM | Permalink

Hapless Hoyer

I've got one more column to write about the Cubs and then I am moving on, in terms of column-writing, for awhile.

Let's start with a simple question: Do any real baseball fans out there think any of the prospects the Cubs received for the veterans they traded away en masse at the trade deadline will be better than Lucas Giolito? Giolito emerged as an ace last year when he was in the running for the Cy Young Award in the American League. Yes, the season was only two months long and, yes, Giolito has been more up and down this year, but he is an upper echelon starting pitcher in the American League. Period.

The answer to this simple question is, of course, no.

When White Sox general manager Rick Hahn made the three trades that defined his team's gloriously successful rebuild, he received real prospects in return. His Cubs counterpart, Jed Hoyer, did not. The White Sox had good/great players that they had developed or picked up in trades to trade away and they had planned well enough to be trading those players when the time was right in terms of their service time. Hoyer did not.

The problem isn't that Hoyer dismantled this team. The problem is the dismantling was almost certainly a failure. Hoyer didn't get a Giolito, who was the prime asset moved to the White Sox when they traded Adam Eaton to the Nationals. Hoyer didn't get a Yoan Moncada, or a Michael Kopech for that matter. Hahn, of course, got those guys from the Red Sox for Chris Sale.

And worst of all, Hoyer didn't get an Eloy Jimenez, or a Dylan Cease for gosh sakes. We baseball fans know you have to take chances when you make trades and some trades work out and some don't. But as I watched Jimenez hit his fourth home run in two days on Monday, I felt an intense urge to track down Theo Epstein to ask him what the fuck was he thinking when he traded two glorious prospects, ones the Cubs had actually signed/drafted and developed themselves, for the ultimate picture of pitching mediocrity, the White Sox's own Jose Quintana.

Cease has also had an up and down season this year, but he showed against the Cubs over the weekend that he is way, way better than any young starting pitcher they have and way, way better than any young pitcher they are trying to develop in the minors.

The old adage is that it is better to trade a player too early than too late. Hoyer traded Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and all the rest way, way too late. He and Theo were so late with Albert Almora and Kyle Schwarber they just had to release them. And the Cubs have nothing special going on in their organization to replace any of them any time soon.

When Hoyer gave Yu Darvish to the Padres to save Tom Ricketts some money and to undermine his own team to make it far more likely they would suck enough for him to execute the purge at the trade deadline with minimal pushback, he didn't even get a pitching prospect back. He got four non-descript, low-A, rookie-ball position players. None of them have received any attention at all from anyone who rates prospects for a living.

The management screw-ups with this team have just gone on and on and on. When you look back at it, even Theo and Jed's seeming victories in terms of building this team don't look so good anymore. They had four straight picks in the top 10 in the first rounds early last decade thanks to the team being down when they got here and then because they decided to tank the 2012, '13 and '14 seasons. And all of those guys looked like potential stars at times.

It now appears they went one for four. Kris Bryant won an MVP award, end of story. But Almora and Schwarber went crashing down. And as Ian Happ's slump heads toward season-long status, he has potential bust written all over him.

Hoyer assures Cubs fans the team will be competitive in 2022. He says this won't be like the '12 and '13 seasons. That's good to hear. Perhaps he has figured out that whether they eventually won a World Series or not, it was pathetic that a high-revenue team like the Cubs tanked three seasons for any reason. But unless Hoyer and Ricketts go on an unprecedented spending spree, the team's prospects, in both senses of the word, are weak. And they will remain so for a long time.

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Jim "Coach" Coffman welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:21 AM | Permalink

August 10, 2021

Knowing Kaddish

Things I know about Judaism and learned at funerals. I know Kaddish.

You must understand humility to know Kaddish. You must understand trust.

Having dabbled without lasting effect in many religions, I know that Christianity is an operator's manual for a machine you'd just as soon ignore.

Judaism is poetry, and no example more profound than the Kaddish. It is a yearning call from deep in the soul for God's comfort after catastrophe. Judaism knows how souls must manage death with elegance. It is spoken in Aramaic, the oldest of Jewish languages employed because the prayer was first spoken in that language.

Jews figure with some authority that God understood those words clearly 2,500 years ago and understands them now.

The Kaddish answers questions with hope and courage. And humility. It answers the first fear of all faith. What if I pray, and no one hears? What if I am truly alone?

Before the Kaddish - a prayer celebrating the Almighty's glory - the congregation stands to say this meditation in unison.

It is a statement of hope and principle delivered at funerals. Sons are required to say Kaddish for 11 months after the death of a parent.

I do not pray because I doubt anyone is listening.

But if I did pray, this is the God I would seek to touch . . .

When I die
Give what's left of me away
To children
And old men that wait to die.

And if you need to cry,
Cry for your brother
Walking the street beside you.

And when you need me,
Put your arms
Around anyone
And give them
What you need to give to me.

I want to leave you something,
Something better
Than words
Or sounds.

Look for me
In the people I've known
Or loved,

And if you cannot give me away,
At least let me live on in your eyes
And not your mind.

You can love me most
By letting
Hands touch hands,

By letting bodies touch bodies,
And by letting go
Of children
That need to be free.

Love doesn't die,
People do.
So, when all that's left of me
Is love,
Give me away.

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David Rutter is the former publisher/editor of the Lake County News-Sun, and more importantly, the former author of the Beachwood's late, great "The Week In WTF" column. His most recent piece for us was Florida. You can also check him out at his Theeditor50's blog. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:55 PM | Permalink

August 9, 2021

The Pitching Plan

Tony La Russa has been there before. The path has not always been exactly the same, but in the 14 previous seasons when his clubs have made the post-season, there always has been a plan. Even after being absent from the dugout for 10 years, he knows the drill.

Just in case the 76-year-old isn't quite as sharp as he used to be - not necessarily an accurate assumption based on some of the moves he's made this season - he has all kinds of data, along with a more than ample coaching staff, to keep him current. After a sweep of the decrepit and depleted Chicago Cubs over the weekend, La Russa finds himself and his team with a 10½-game lead in the American League Central, its biggest margin of the season.

The Sox have posted a mediocre 12-11 record since the All-Star Game. They dropped three-of-four to the Kansas City Royals prior to invading Wrigley Field last Friday, but his closest pursuer, if you choose to apply that handle to the Cleveland American League Baseball Club, has won just nine of 22 games in the same time frame.

When asked how he was going to spend his time during the All-Star break, La Russa bristled, a not unknown reaction on the part of the crusty skipper. He was working on The Plan, the centerpiece of which is mapping out the handling of his pitching staff for the remainder of the campaign. Chances are La Russa and his pitching guru Ethan Katz charted who was going to start each and every game until the end of the year, how many innings his starters were going to pitch, and how the bullpen was going to be organized.

Then general manager Rick Hahn dumped Craig Kimbrel and Ryan Tepera in La Russa's lap at the trade deadline just in case the Sox manager needed to strengthen The Plan. So here we are the morning of Aug. 9 with 50 games remaining. Half will be played against teams with subpar .500 records, a group that the Sox have pummeled so far to the tune of 52-25. Against the fellows who have won at least half their games? Well, not so hot, a disturbing 14-21. That will require improvement.

Looking back on La Russa's previous playoff teams the morning of Aug. 9, we find that only his 2004 Cardinals enjoyed a larger division lead than his current crop at this point in the season. Just one of those teams, the 2001 Cardinals, stood some place other than on top of its division. The table below chronicles all 14 seasons of La Russa's October participants.

Screen Shot 2021-08-09 at 9.29.56 AM.pngScreen Shot 2021-08-09 at 9.30.05 AM.png

Overwhelming success during the regular season does not guarantee a World Series victory, the goal most often mentioned pertaining to the 2021 White Sox. The 2004 Cardinals won 105 games only to be swept by the Red Sox in the Series.

Take a look at what the White Sox did in 1983 when they went 40-12 from Aug. 9 until the season's end. They had all the momentum required to beat Baltimore in the ALCS, the only hurdle at that time for getting into the World Series, especially after the Sox took a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five series. With starters Floyd Bannister, Richard Dotson and Britt Burns rested and ready to face the Orioles, Soxdom was euphoric over the team's prospects.

But it was not to be. After Baltimore took a 2-1 lead in games, one of the most heart-breaking losses in team history followed when Burns shut out the Orioles over nine innings in a scoreless tie. Tito Landrum broke the deadlock with a home run in the top of the 10th, and the Sox were eliminated 3-0.

Conversely, La Russa's final team before his re-emergence this year, the 2011 St. Louis club, was a wild card entrant in the post-season, a berth it narrowly earned by a single game. The Cardinals that season finished six games behind Milwaukee in the NL Central. But that underdog crew wound its way to the World Series and edged the Texas Rangers in seven games, an unlikely scenario that few could have predicted.

While La Russa's current outfit has been majorly challenged by injuries, none of its five starting pitchers has missed any significant time. Of the team's 112 games thus far, only seven have been started by pitchers not in the regular rotation. That, as much as any other factor, has accounted for the team's success. Perhaps this simply has been Lady Luck shining on the South Side, but don't discount La Russa's record in handling a pitching staff.

Case in point is Carlos Rodón who blanked the Cubs on Saturday over five innings, allowing only two hits while walking two and striking out 11. La Russa removed Rodón after 89 pitches when he walked the leadoff hitter in the bottom of the sixth. With the luxury of having Michael Kopech, Aaron Bummer, Kimbrel and Tepera to cover the final four frames against a primarily Triple-A lineup, the Sox scored a 4-0 win.

La Russa had kept Rodón idle for eight days prior to Saturday. In Rodón's previous two starts, both four-inning losses against Milwaukee and Kansas City, he yielded four home runs in those eight innings. Three came against Rodón's fastball, none clocked faster than 93 mph. In the first inning Saturday, Carlos struck out the side, two on fastballs of 98.5 and 97.9. For a guy who's pitched just 42 innings over the past two seasons, he showed that it is not unreasonable to think that he has sufficient gas left in the tank, especially if he is handled astutely by his manager and pitching coach.

Not unlike the Sox this season, La Russa's previous playoff teams have been characterized by solid starting pitching. Beginning with his Sox '83 squad, his clubs have had strong starters like Dave Stewart, Bob Welch and Mike Moore in Oakland. He also turned starter Dennis Eckersley into a Hall-of-Fame relief pitcher with the A's.

Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright led Cardinal staffs under La Russa, and lesser names like Kyle Lohse, Jason Marquis and Mark Mulder thrived with La Russa at the helm. His five-man rotation on the 2005 Cardinal team started 160 games. In fact, of La Russa's 14 playoff teams, his starting pitchers took the ball in at least 154 games in eight of those seasons.

In the past when the game was played in a different manner, La Russa most often stuck with his starting rotation the final two months of the season. For instance, in 1983, no one other than his starters got an opening assignment after Aug. 9. In fact, LaMarr Hoyt, who won 24 games that season, pitched five compete games the final seven weeks of the season.

When La Russa's 2011 eventual World Series champion Cardinals were chasing a wild card berth, he used only one non-starter after Aug. 9. Bullpen games hadn't been invented 10 years ago, but even if that was an option, La Russa couldn't afford to use it.

This season is different. All indications are that the Sox will win the Central Division in a waltz. Even if they play .500 ball from here on out, Cleveland would need to finish 37-16 just to tie, and there is no evidence that can happen.

Will we see people like Reynaldo Lopez, Kopech, Jimmy Lambert or someone else get a starting assignment between now and October? We can only wait and see. The only given is that La Russa already knows the answer. It's all part of The Plan.

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Former Bill Veeck bar buddy Roger Wallenstein is our White Sox correspondent. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:28 AM | Permalink

August 6, 2021

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #368: Ex-Cubs Fan Now Only Fan Of Ex-Cubs

The Crosstown Classic? Not in the mood. Plus: Craig Kimbrel Curiosity; Sox Scuffle; MAF A Go; Training Camp Treacle; Dreamish Teams; Red Stars Ready; Sky Soon; and Chicago Zeros.

Beachwood Radio Network · The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #368: Ex-Cubs Fan Now Only Fan Of Ex-Cubs

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SHOW NOTES

* 368.

1:00 Craig Kimbrel Curiosity.

* Why?

6:48: Sox Scuffle.

* They've only won 5 of the last 14, which we presume is the worst possible frame the media could come up with.

* Playoff ready?

18:45: Fucking Crosstown, Not In The Mood.

* Root for the team trying to win (but not their manager).

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20:40: Ex-Cubs Fan Now Fan Of Ex-Cubs.

* Who's with me?

21:47: DeBulls.

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29:45: MAF A Go.

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35:29: Training Camp Treacle.

*

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40:50: Dreamish Teams.

*

*

*

*

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45:08: Red Stars Ready.

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46:20: Sky Soon.

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46:57: Chicago Zeros.

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49:11: Crap, There's Still Time To Talk About The Cubs.

* Jed Hoyer vs. Jed Hoyer.


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STOPPAGE: 5:58

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For archives and other Beachwood shows, see The Beachwood Radio Network.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:24 PM | Permalink

August 5, 2021

Mystery Science Theater 2021

Alternaversal, the production company responsible for the "100 percent Fresh" on Rotten Tomatoes TV series Mystery Science Theater 3000 on Netflix, has announced its nationwide tour of Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K) LIVE: Time Bubble Tour, with the first 24 of an expected 80 nationwide dates, taking the tour through spring 2022. The long-running series (34 years old next Thanksgiving!) has also garnered the Peabody Award for Broadcast Excellence and multiple Emmy award nominations.

The "Time Bubble Tour," supervised by series creator Joel Hodgson, will launch in October of 2021 in York, PA, and feature the beloved returning cast of the 2019 "Great Cheesy Movie Circus Tour," Emily Marsh, Conor McGiffin, Nate Begle and Yvonne Freese, along with the world's only movie-riffing robots, Tom Servo, Crow and GPC. The show features the film Making Contact and will include all the tour signatures: hilarious riffing, wisecracking robots, and silly sketches. The show will be directed by Tim Ryder, an alumni of the Second City Mainstage cast and writer and performer from the MST3K TV series.

"I'm thrilled to announce that the MST3K live show is back on the road for audiences to enjoy together again, especially after a year that's been tough on all of us. I've learned to never underestimate the power of hanging with friends and watching a cheesy movie while bots yell stuff at the screen," said series creator Joel Hodgson.

Making Contact (1985) is the Roland Emmerich directed film that Emily and the Bots will riff, featuring animated toys and an evil ventriloquist dummy in an overcrowded childhood during the '80s.

Ticket information for the Chicago performance on December 11 will be announced at a later time. For a complete list of currently available tickets and additional information, visit mst3klive.com.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:02 PM | Permalink

Institutional Sexual Abuse In The #MeToo Era

In this timely and important collection, editors Jason D. Spraitz and Kendra N. Bowen bring together the work of contributors in the fields of criminal justice and criminology, sociology, journalism, and communications.

These chapters show #MeToo is not only a support network of victims' voices and testimonies but also a revolutionary interrogation of policies, power imbalances, and ethical failures that resulted in decades-long cover-ups and institutions structured to ensure continued abuse. This book reveals #MeToo as so much more than a hashtag.

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Contributors discuss how #MeToo has altered the landscape of higher education; detail a political history of sexual abuse in the United States and the UK; discuss a recent grand jury report about religious institutions; and address the foster care and correctional systems.

Hollywood instances are noted for their fear of retaliation among victims and continued accolades for alleged abusers.

In sports, contributors examine the Jerry Sandusky scandal and the abuse by Larry Nassar. Advertising and journalism are scrutinized for covering the #MeToo disclosures while dealing with their own scandals.

Finally, social media platforms are investigated for harassment and threats of violent victimization.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:08 AM | Permalink

The Triumph And Tragedy Of The Olympic Refugee Team

The Olympic Refugee Team filing into the stadium during Tokyo's opening ceremonies provided a powerful, moving sight: almost 30 athletes, carrying the Olympic flag, striding alongside the delegations of almost every country in the world.

Instead of their home countries, these refugees represent the millions around the world who've been forcibly displaced from their homes. The team is made up of extraordinary individuals who have overcome huge obstacles just to survive - let alone train as world-class athletes.

They are swimmers, cyclists, judoken, wrestlers, runners, and more - from Iraq and Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Cameroon, Sudan and South Sudan, Syria, Venezuela, and beyond.

Several were part of the Olympics' first Refugee Team five years ago, including Yusra Mardini, a Syrian swimmer and refugee from the country's civil war.

Her incredible story went viral. When their overloaded dinghy broke down in the Aegean Sea, Yusra and her sister jumped overboard and swam for three hours, pushing it to safety. They saved the lives of dozens desperately trying to reach safety in Greece.

Yusra's was only one of the stories of extraordinary trauma and triumph from Team Refugees. But unfortunately, the population represented by the team just keeps growing.

At the time of the Rio Olympics five years ago, 65 million people were forcibly displaced. This year, that figure has soared to over 82 million. If it were its own country, Refugee Nation would be the 20th most populous country on Earth, right between Thailand and Germany.

There are many reasons people are forced to flee their homes - including war and violence, extreme weather and climate change, and economic injustice. The harsh reality is that mass displacement has become normalized, acceptable in today's world.

Global warming and climate chaos are so severe that climate refugees are emerging everywhere. Wars, including many involving the United States, continue to push millions of people out of their homes. And abject poverty, skyrocketing inequality, and a global pandemic are all forcing more desperately poor people to flee in search of work, food, and safety.

It's not enough to honor millions of refugees with an Olympic team of their own - they need rights, not medals. As long as millions remain displaced, it remains important to build broad and global movements to defend their rights.

The rights guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights include "freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each State," the right "to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution," and the right to return to their homes when hostilities are over.

Unfortunately, from the dangerous waters of the Mediterranean to the arid U.S.-Mexico border, those rights are often denied. It's a grim thing indeed that there are more people displaced now than at any time since World War II - so many that Refugee Nation appears to be a permanent feature of the Olympics.

Still, the courage of these extraordinary young athletes at the Olympics keeps the plight of refugees - and the responsibility of our own governments for their plight - in front of the eyes of the world.

Team Refugees' entrance to Tokyo's Olympic stadium provided a moment of hope and a moment of internationalism. It was beautiful.

But how much more beautiful, how much better than medals, if those athletes - and the 82 million displaced people they represent - could go home after the games? To a home for themselves and their families, in their own country or abroad, safe from the wars and disasters and poverty that drove them out in the first place?

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:30 AM | Permalink

August 4, 2021

Canadian Women Rule

Margaret Mac Neil. Kylie Masse. The women's softball team. Maude Charron. The women's 4x100-meter freestyle swimming team. Jennifer Abel and Mélissa Citrini-Beaulieu. Jessica Klimkait. Catherine Beauchemin-Pinard. Caileigh Filmer and Hillary Janssens. Penny Oleksiak. The women's eight rowing crew.

Canadian women are owning the podium at the Tokyo Olympics. But why?

Screen Shot 2021-08-04 at 11.58.27 AM.pngCanada's Lisa Roman, Kasia Gruchalla-Wesierski, Christine Roper, Andrea Proske, Susanne Grainger, Madison Mailey, Sydney Payne, Avalon Wasteneys and Kristen Kit celebrate on the podium after winning the gold medal in women's eight rowing competition at the Tokyo Olympics/Adrian Wyld, THE CANADIAN PRESS

Two weeks into the Tokyo Olympics, Canada has won 15 medals - 14 by women. Swimmer Penny Oleksiak became Canada's most decorated Summer Olympian when she won a silver and bronze in the pool to go along with a gold, two silvers and a bronze from the 2016 Rio Games.

Part of the story of the success by the Canadian women could be gender parity - Tokyo 2020 has been lauded as the first gender-balanced Olympic Games in history. Yet Canadian women also outperformed their country's men at Rio 2016, where they returned with 16 of 22 medals. Things have been more balanced in other recent Summer and Winter Olympics.

Screen Shot 2021-08-04 at 12.03.11 PM.pngPenny Oleksiak became the most decorated Canadian summer Olympian of all time with her bronze medal win in the women's 200-meter freestyle/Martin Meissner, AP

Only three Canadians have won four Olympic golds - women again: hockey legends Caroline Oulette, Jayna Hefford and Hayley Wickenheiser. A total medal count puts Cindy Klassen, Clara Hughes and now Oleksiak at the top, with six each.

The emergence of Oleksiak, Wickenheiser, Klassen, Hughes and others, like soccer superstar Christine Sinclair, as household names speaks to the cultural impact of elite women's sport in Canada. This is a good thing - for many reasons.

Why Canada Needs This Boost

A 2020 Canadian Women in Sport report found that one in three girls will leave sport by age 16, compared to one in 10 boys. A 2021 follow-up report lays bare yet another devastating gut punch to women's well-being: one in four girls are not committed to return to sport post-pandemic. That means an additional 350,000 girls sitting on the sidelines. Seeing Canadian female athletes shine at the Olympics provides a much-needed morale boost.

Media coverage in Canada is rightly celebrating this female athlete success. The scarcity of male medalists - so far - while not a desirable outcome in itself, gives both young girls and boys the chance to be inspired by female role models succeeding at the highest level of sport.

Screen Shot 2021-08-04 at 12.24.20 PM.pngMaude Charron won Canada's second gold medal at the Tokyo Games in the women's 64-kilogram weightlifting competition/Luca Bruno, AP

What's more, changing male perceptions of traditional gender roles could save lives, according to a 2017 European study.

Given a startling 2017 finding that unsupported female empowerment could actually increase rates of domestic violence, transforming boys and men into allies is vital. It may prove to play a key role in ending the so-called "shadow pandemic" of domestic violence that has raged throughout COVID-19 lockdowns.

Sport Is Good - Really Good - For Health

Sport can provide mental and physical health benefits, social connection, confidence and leadership skills. It's a big problem that only seven per cent of Canadian youth are meeting national physical activity guidelines for health. Olympic inspiration can change that.

I should know. As a sedentary teenager in New Brunswick, I turned on the small TV in the convenience store where I worked and watched the Olympics for the first time. I saw rowing legends Silken Laumann, Marnie McBean and Kathleen Heddle winning medals for Canada.

It was the first time I made the connection between the exceptional performances I saw on TV with the rowers I watched drift serenely by each morning on the vast expanse that is the Saint John River. I suddenly realized Canadians were really good at this. Soon after, I joined a learn-to-row program and my own Olympic journey began.

In other words, you have to see it to be it.

Why We Must Go Further

Women are finding their voices, now more than ever. We see it in the realization of gender parity for the first time at an Olympic Games, in the German Olympic gymnastics and Norwegian national beach handball teams speaking out against hypersexualization by refusing to wear "regulation" uniforms in the face of financial sanctions, and in new mothers refusing to be separated from their nursing infants to attend the Olympics or standing up to skeptical sponsors who cut their funding.

Screen Shot 2021-08-04 at 12.25.35 PM.pngThe German gymnastics team wore full-legged unitards that went down to their ankles, eschewing the traditional bikini cut that ends high on the hip. The athletes said they were trying to combat the sexualization of young women and girls in their sport, which is trying to recover from a decades-long sexual abuse scandal/Gregory Bull, AP

These are all positive signs of a broader cultural shift in our collective perceptions of women in sport and society. Despite these major strides - equal representation, autonomy of clothing choice, freedom to have a family and compete - women remain underfunded and underrepresented in sport policy, sport science and sport medicine.

With so many women in the limelight like never before, it's time for policy-makers, clinicians, sport scientists and researchers to step up and meet the challenge of not only keeping our Canadian women on the podium, but ensuring that all Canadian athletes are fairly reflected in sport policy, science and medicine.

The tension is building - and that's good. Canadian women are defying the rules of age, motherhood and funding. Now it's time we ensure women enjoy the same fundamental supports as men in every way.

Soak it in. Celebrate it. Promote it. Lifting up Canadian women's success in sport bodes well not only for our future generations of athletes, but for our nation as a whole.

Jane Thornton is a clinician specialist at Western University. This post is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:59 AM | Permalink

August 2, 2021

And So It Goes

The old man peered over the top of his newspaper, eyeing his grandchildren and their friends.

"Why did they have to trade Madrigal?" lamented one, "even to get Kimbrel. Nicky was one of my favorite players."

"Let me tell you a story," interrupted Grandpa. "When I was about your age, or maybe a few years older, the White Sox had a great, great player. His name was Minnie Minoso. Just saying his name was exciting. Randy Arozarena would be envious.

"Minnie also was the first Black player in team history which brought him immediate attention. When the Sox traded for him, on the very first pitch he ever saw in a Sox uniform in 1951, he hit a home run. Minnie played for some very good teams in the 1950s, long before even your parents were around. Minoso was something like José Abreu. No matter how much he was injured and hurting, he played every day.

"Minnie could hit .300. He led the league in triples, and if you think watching a home run is something to see, you should have seen Minoso slide into third base with a triple. He could steal bases and drive in 100 runs. Oh, did I mention that he was a terrific left fielder? He just never stopped moving, and my friends and I loved him."

"Did the Sox have a good team then?" asked one of the kids.

"Oh, yes," replied Gramps. "They won over 90 games a few times because they had other good players like Billy Pierce, Nellie Fox and Luis Aparicio."

"So they won the World Series?" asked another youngster.

"No, that's the point of my story," said the septuagenarian. "There was another team, one with lots of money, the New York Yankees, and they had even better players than the White Sox. And just about every year, they won the pennant and went to the World Series, which they usually won.

"And then one winter - there was no trade deadline then - the Sox traded Minnie to Cleveland. If you think you're upset about Madrigal or your friends who are Cub fans are sad about what happened last week, you shoulda seen how shocked and saddened we were knowing that Minoso would be playing for anyone other than the White Sox."

"So the Sox decided to rebuild?" inquired the old man's grandson.

Gramps let out a labored sigh. "Rebuild?" he gasped. "There was no such thing back then. No, the Sox probably figured that they couldn't beat the Yankees with Minoso, so they traded him for a very good pitcher named Early Wynn, who pitched for the other good team in the American League, the Indians."

"I can see why you were so sad," empathized one of the kids. "Is that the end of the story?"

"Well, not exactly," said Gramps. "Two seasons later Wynn won 22 games, and the Sox finally won the pennant."

"You mean, trading Minnie really worked?" exclaimed an 8-year-old.

"I suppose you could say that," responded the old guy. "But right after that season in '59 - after the Dodgers beat the Sox in the Series - the Sox made another deal with Cleveland and got Minoso back! It was incredible. We were thrilled and excited. We had a team that had won a pennant, and we also were getting back our favorite player of all time."

"So they won another pennant?" was the next inquiry.

"Unfortunately not," reported Grampa. "The Yankees were just too good, and they spent whatever it took to get new players and hold onto the ones they had. There were no free agents in those days, so that wasn't so hard. Early Wynn and other Sox pitchers were never again as good as they were that one season. The Sox also traded most of their young prospects to bring back Minnie while trading for some other good players. By the late 1960s, the Sox weren't a very good ballclub."

"At least you got your favorite player back," pointed out one of the kids, a Cub fan who had been silently listening to the old man. "I lost all my favorite players, not just one."

"Well, now you'll have a story to tell your grandchildren," consoled Gramps. "And the remaining chapters still are being written."

* * * * *

If you saw a provocative Tweet after last Friday's trade deadline expired, one that provided a jolt of reality, the story above shows us how history repeats itself.

The July trade deadline has come to rival Opening Day, the All-Star break, and Game 7 of a World Series as the season's most intoxicating date, which is both exhilarating and profoundly sad. As 3 p.m. (CDT) approached Friday, the Internet, MLB-TV, and newspaper websites reported one major blockbuster after another. The hard copies on Saturday morning encapsulated the post-mortems about some of the game's biggest stars changing uniforms while teams like the Nationals and Cubs, World Series champions as recently as 2019 in the Nationals' case, were reduced to little more than Triple-A status.

Even the Olympics and professional football, whose Opening Day is almost six weeks away, had genuine competition from major league baseball for the top sports headlines. The people who rule the game no doubt were basking in the attention.

This at a time when data tells us that folks who closely follow the game tend to be older than those aficionados who favor games played on gridirons, courts and rinks. Just how much disillusionment is a 10-year-old supposed to endure when his heroes are tossed aside and replaced by athletes who can't hit, catch or throw? Or by players unbeknownst to him or her?

Not that we needed any more evidence that the game has changed in meaningful and stark ways, but the events on both sides of town provided prime examples. The Sox needed bullpen help. Enter Tepera and Kimbrel. Leury García can't cut it at second base? How about Cesar Hernandez?

GM Rick Hahn is no stranger to this game. He has to play it, and he's obviously a master. However, woe be to Hahn, and Tony La Russa for that matter, if this club doesn't at least win a pennant, or better yet, a World Series.

The case on the North Side clearly is just the opposite. Jed Hoyer jettisoned eight of his best players including the trio of Báez, Rizzo and Bryant. Not even a curtain call or a final standing ovation for a last at-bat in that garden on Addison.

But this isn't Kansas City or Oakland. The Ricketts family paid something like $900 million for the franchise more than 12 years ago. It's worth almost four times that today. Meanwhile, their pockets handled tearing down the neighborhood and replacing it with restaurants, a hotel, an administration building, and acquiring the venerable apartments on Waveland and Sheffield with their silly rooftops. I'm sure there is much more, but I try to use Racine Avenue to avoid driving down Clark.

That's not to mention the piles of cash the family contributed to the treasure chest of a former president who once mocked the clan for its inept management of the North Side franchise. By the way, this criticism came just prior to the Cubs winning it all in 2016.

Even assuming it was far more difficult working out an agreement with Anthony Rizzo than snatching another rooftop, money matters, and the Cubs' ruling family has plenty of it. Tickets costing $250 may get you a seat between home and first, but maybe not in the first few rows. Cub tickets are among the most expensive in baseball, and management's time-worn rationale is, "If you want a contending club, you have to pay for it."

This ranks right up there with promises that Illinois tollways were going to help solve funding for schools or that the cannabis industry will help set the state back on its feet. Or that a casino within the city limits will be a boondoggle for raising revenue.

Furthermore, when was the last time the Yankees or Dodgers rebuilt? You might argue that they don't have to since they reach the post-season just about every year. But how do they get there? Not by being sellers. They don't hesitate to open their luxurious wallets to attract guys like Mookie Betts while keeping stalwarts such as Clayton Kershaw and Cody Bellinger in the Dodgers' case. The Yankees wouldn't dream of dealing Aaron Judge for a stable of prospects, but they have paid handsomely for guys like Giancarlo Stanton, Gerrit Cole, and now last week Joey Gallo and Rizzo.

Today the Yankees are 2½ games out of a wild card spot for the post-season. Chances are they'll make it, but if they don't, you won't see them rebuilding. They'll simply spent more cash, and their fans expect it.

Meanwhile, Hahn has performed admirably by extending contracts, even in the middle of the season like he did with Lance Lynn a few weeks ago. None of this, "We'll wait until after the season."

I can't predict where the White Sox will wind up two months from now. As strong as they appear, just one of 30 teams will win its final game in October. What is assured is that the ballclub is poised to be a contender for a number of seasons down the road. They won't be sellers anytime soon like their brethren on the other side of town.

Nor will they break the hearts of those 8- and 10-year-olds who love Tim Anderson, Eloy Jiménez, José Abreu and other favorites. Nicky Madrigal would have been nice, but there remain other heroes still worthy of signing an autograph.

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Former Bill Veeck bar buddy Roger Wallenstein is our White Sox correspondent. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:52 AM | Permalink

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