Monday, January 16, 2017

1970: Curt Flood filed historic lawsuit against Major League Baseball

Curt Flood was a pretty good baseball player.  He was a career .293 hitter and an important piece of the St Louis power team that won 3 National League pennants in 1964, 1967 and 1968.   He was on a team that included Lou Brock, Bob Gibson, Orlando Cepeda, Tim McCarver and quite a few others.
On this day in 1970, Curt Flood filed a lawsuit against major league baseball:
After the Cardinals traded Flood to the Philadelphia Phillies in October 1969, Flood wrote a letter to Kuhn in late December, protesting the league’s player reserve clause, which prevented players from moving to another team unless they were traded. Kuhn denied Flood’s request to be made a free agent, and Flood decided to sue. In Flood v. Kuhn, the historic case that followed, Flood argued that the reserve clause violated antitrust laws and violated the 13th Amendment, which barred slavery and involuntary servitude.
“On June 19, 1972, the U.S. Supreme Court rules against Curt Flood in Flood v. Kuhn, denying Flood free agency as a baseball player. Flood was trying to break the reserve clause that had tied baseball players to one franchise since the establishment of professional baseball.”
Eventually, the players’ union won the “free agency” fight in 1976 after 2 strikes and several court appeals.  The net result is that “Free agency” changed the game and blew up the owners’ monopoly.  
Flood never got to make the big bucks but he had a lot to do with the benefits that the players enjoy today.  He was the one who challenged the system and took a bullet for the union.
Flood died in 1997.

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1974: Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford selected to the Hall of Fame

Two great Yankees were selected to the Hall of Fame on this day in 1974.

Mickey Mantle was one of the great power hitters in history:   .298 career batting average, 536 HR and 1,509 RBI.   He was also a 3-time MVP and played in 12 World Series.   He had a career .421 On Base Average.

Whitey Ford was one of the best leftanders in major league history:  236 wins, 156 complete games and a 2.75 career ERA.   He played in 11 World Series and won 10 games.

Mantle and Ford were part of the great Yankee teams that dominated baseball from 1949-64.   They were great teammates and it was great to see them go into the Hall of Fame together.

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We remember Gene Cernan 1934-2017, the last man to walk on the moon

Back on December 1972, Gene Cernan was on the Apollo 17 crew.    He turned out to be the last man who walked on the moon.    

Gene Cernan died today:
Cernan concluded his historic space exploration career as commander of the last human mission to the moon in December 1972.
En route to the moon, the crew captured an iconic photo of the home planet, with an entire hemisphere fully illumnitated -- a "whole Earth" view showing Africa, the Arabian peninsula and the south polar ice cap. The hugely popular photo was referred to by some as the "Blue Marble," a title in use for an ongoing series of NASA Earth imagery.
Apollo 17 established several new records for human space flight, including the longest lunar landing flight (301 hours, 51 minutes); longest lunar surface extravehicular activities (22 hours, 6 minutes); largest lunar sample return (nearly 249 pounds); and longest time in lunar orbit (147 hours, 48 minutes).     
Who would have believed in December 1972 that Apollo 17 would turn out to be the last mission to the moon?

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1979: Iran and the day that the Shah left

Iran was in the news for much of 1978 but everything hit the fan in 1979. 

First, the Shah fled and US diplomats were taken hostage later in the year.

We recall today the day that the Shah fled:

"On September 8, 1978, the shah's security force fired on a large group of demonstrators, killing hundreds and wounding thousands. Two months later, thousands took to the streets of Tehran, rioting and destroying symbols of westernization, such as banks and liquor stores. 

Khomeini called for the shah's immediate overthrow, and on December 11 a group of soldiers mutinied and attacked the shah's security officers. 

With that, his regime collapsed and the shah fled.
The shah traveled to several countries before entering the United States in October 1979 for medical treatment of his cancer. 
In Tehran, Islamic militants responded on November 4 by storming the U.S. embassy and taking the staff hostage. With the approval of Khomeini, the militants demanded the return of the shah to Iran to stand trial for his crimes. 
The United States refused to negotiate, and 52 American hostages were held for 444 days. 
Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi died in Egypt in July 1980."
The Shah's departure was quite a blow for the US and our interests in the region.   

He was our ally in the region.  He wasn't perfect but did not invade his neighbors or start wars.  

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January 1972: The Bee Gees and "My world"

By January 1972, The Bee Gees were enjoying a reputation as hit makers and wonderful songwriters. 

They had just hit # 1 in the US with "How can you mend a broken heart" and sold millions with round the world best sellers like "Lonely Days", "I started a joke" and beautifully arranged tunes like "Holiday".

Like many of their fans, I anticipated their new songs and kept up with the group's news on the radio.  We did not have Internet or e-mails to warn us of new releases.

"My world" was so catchy that it stuck with me as soon as I heard it on the radio.  I think that I learned the melody & lyrics in minutes. 

I went to my favorite store and said to the manager:  "How about that song by The Bee Gees that goes "my world is your world and your world is my world....."

He gave me the 45 and said "Here it is"!    (By the way, those were the days when you had small record stores and proprietors that actually knew their inventory)

Then it was off to home and the turntable. 

It became a huge international hit.   It was great!  I love the way that they harmonize the chorus!

The B-side was "On Time" with the late Maurice doing the lead vocals.  I was glad that both of these songs were included in the "Tales from The Brothers Gibb" box set released in 1990.

Of course, no one knew that day in 1972 that Barry, Robin & Maurice were just getting started.  By the end of the 1970's the brothers were one of the best selling bands in the world.    At one point, they had six # 1 songs in a row.  They also wrote and produced albums for Dionne Warwick, Barbra Streisand and Diana Ross.  Add Andy Gibb and you had a ton of record sales for the very talented brothers!

You can buy "My world" here.     This is "Best of Bee Gees, volume 2".

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"Indiscreet", a 1958 movie with Ingrid Bergman & Cary Grant

What happens when you put Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman and director Stanley Donen in the same studio?  

The answer is "Indiscreet", a delightful movie from 1958.

The story is sort of like this:    A single woman can't find love.   She meets a man who pretends to be married to avoid commitment.   In the end, the chemistry wins and they fall in love.      
Watch it to get all of the other details.    It is a very nice and elegant movie.  

By the way, you can watch the movie on line here or purchase the DVD here.    

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Packers vs Cowboys: The best 4th quarter ever?

To be fair, I have not seen every 4th quarter drive in the history of the NFL.   Nevertheless, I doubt if anything from the past was better than we saw on Sunday night.    

Let's see what Neil Paine wrote about that 4th quarter:    
Packers-vs-Cowboys became only the eighth playoff game in NFL (or AFL) history to feature at least four fourth-quarter ties and/or lead changes. But beyond that, it was also one of only two games in which a team entered the fourth quarter down by double digits but stormed back to tie or take the lead, then gave up another score and then fought to re-gain the tie or lead again.1
Dallas entered the fourth trailing Green Bay by 15 points  and had a mere 7 percent chance of winning. They then scored twice and converted a two-point conversion to tie the game at 28, raising their win probability to 46 percent. Then, after Crosby knocked down a 56-yard kick to re-take the lead for Green Bay with 93 seconds left, the Cowboys’ win probability was bumped back down to 18 percent.
But the game wasn’t done yet. Cowboys QB Dak Prescott led a 6-play, 42-yard field-goal drive to tie the game again, raising Dallas’s win probability to 49 percent. That number rose even higher, to 54 percent, after an Aaron Rodgers sack on the following drive appeared to kill any hope of another Packers response. 
But with 12 seconds left, Rodgers hit Jared Cook for a 36-yard completion, Cook dragged his feet to barely stay in bounds, and Crosby gave Green Bay the 34-31 victory with another long kick.
Well, someone had to win and someone had to lose.    It's a shame that these two teams won't get to play for the NFC title next.    My guess is that most of the country would love to see a rematch!

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Monday morning video

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A Man who left a Party without Seats or Ideas

Over the next few days, we will read a lot of articles about President Obama.
We will hear from his supporters that he saved us from a Great Depression and his critics will say that he messed up everything in the Middle East.   
We may also read that leaves office with high approval ratings. In fact, the RCP average is 54%, a very good number.
We probably won’t hear a lot about the state of the Democrat Party. Looking back, President Obama’s real legacy that he devastated the party after all of the hope of 2008. This is from Deroy Murdock:
Behold the tremendous power that Democrats have frittered away — from January 2009 through the aftermath of Election Day — thanks to Obama and his ideas:
Democrats surrendered the White House to political neophyte Donald J. Trump.
U.S. Senate seats slipped from 55 to 46, down 16 percent.
U.S. House seats fell from 256 to 194, down 24 percent.
Democrats ran the Senate and House in 2009. Next year, they will control neither.
Governorships slid from 28 to 16, down 43 percent.
State legislatures (both chambers) plunged from 27 to 14, down 48 percent
Trifectas (states with Democrat governors and both legislative chambers) cratered from 17 to 6, down 65 percent.
These numbers only tell part of the story.
His real legacy is that it will be very difficult for any future Democrat to propose a government solution to anything. My guess is that we will now enter an era where most of the solutions to these problems will come from governors and state legislatures. We will look to the states rather than the federal government. This is partially because most Americans are now living in a state where a successful GOP governor is delivering results, from Texas to Florida to Michigan.
Also, President Obama’s weakness overseas has convinced most Americans that the U.S. must lead not just watch events. Our choice is not between doing nothing or sending 500,000 troops. Our real option is to lead and behave like the superpower that President Obama did not realize that he was governing.
We wish President Obama a happy retirement. I hope that he is ready to see how much of his legacy turned out to be a lot different than his followers predicted eight years ago this week.
P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

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The week in review with Bill Katz, the editor of Urgent Agenda

Guest: Bill Katz, the editor of Urgent Agenda........we will look back at President Obama's two terms.......the highs and lows.......the results vs promises.......are we better off today..........Representative Lewis said that Mr. President is not legitimate......why would an elected official make a statement like that? President Trump plans to hit the ground running.........what special challenges does he face, at home and abroad.....and other to listen:

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Sunday, January 15, 2017

An amazing game is all that you can say

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World War II after Pearl Harbor with Barry Jacobsen.

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Hollywood rants against Trump and a few other thoughts

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1967: Who remembers Super Bowl I?

We will watch two more conference championships over the next two weeks.  The two winners will play in the Super Bowl!

The first game was many years ago, when Green Bay of the NFL played Kansas City of the old AFL:
"On January 15, 1967, the Green Bay Packers of the National Football League (NFL) smash the American Football League (AFL)’s Kansas City Chiefs, 35-10, in the first-ever AFL-NFL World Championship, later known as Super Bowl I, at Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles.Founded in 1960 as a rival to the NFL, the AFL was still finding its way in 1967, and the Packers had been heavily favored to win the game. As 60 million people tuned in to watch the action unfold on television, the Chiefs managed to keep it close for the first half, and by halftime Green Bay was ahead just 14-10. The Chiefs’ only touchdown came in the second quarter, on a seven-yard pass from quarterback Len Dawson to Curtis McClinton.The Packers, however, proceeded to break the game wide open, after safety Willie Wood intercepted a Dawson pass and returned the ball 50 yards to set up a touchdown. Green Bay scored three more times in the second half, as Elijah Pitts ran in two touchdowns and backup end Max McGee--who came on the field after the starter Boyd Dowler was injured on the sixth play of the game--caught his second touchdown pass of the day. Prior to the game, McGee had made only four receptions all season; he made seven that night, for a total of 138 yards.The Packers’ famed quarterback, Bryan Bartlett "Bart" Starr, completed 16 of 23 passes on the night. The score at game’s end stood at 35-10, and Starr was named Most Valuable Player. Asked to comment on the match-up after the game, Green Bay Coach Vince Lombardi expressed the common opinion that even the best of the AFL--the Chiefs--"doesn’t compare with the top NFL teams."Two years later, the AFL proved itself to doubters by winning its first championship, when Joe Namath led the New York Jets to an upset 16-7 victory over the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III. In 1970, the AFL and NFL merged into one league, as the Colts, Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers agreed to join the 10 AFL teams to form American Football Conference (AFC). Since then, the Super Bowl has been the annual meeting of the top teams in the AFC and the National Football Conference (NFC) for the championship of the NFL."
It's hard to believe that it was so man years ago.   Wonder who is getting old? 

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1972: Don McClean's "American Pie" was # 1 and I've been a huge Buddy Holly fan since!

Many years ago, Don McClean's "American Pie" was the # 1 song in the country and probably most of the world.  

As I recall, many people enjoyed the catchy chorus ("bye bye Miss American pie") but struggled with the meaning of the lyrics and the story behind the song.

"American Pie" was OK but I never got really into it.  I guess that there were two reasons:

First, I'm not really into interpreting complicated lyrics.  I want pop music to be simple: "boy loves girl" or "girl loves boy" and "girl does not love boy anymore".

Second, when does saturation happen?  How many times can you hear a song before getting totally sick?   

Remember my posts about "Stairway to heaven" or "Maggie May" a couple of good songs that were played to death by radio?  Top 40 radio back then had a way of just saturating you with one hit song over and over again!  The Bee Gees' "Stayin' Alive" is another good example of a song that was played to death by Top 40 stations.

'American Pie" did have one wonderful benefit for me and many others.  

It introduced us to the story of Buddy Holly of Lubbock, Texas, Richie Valens ("La bamba") and the Big Bopper ("Chantilly Lace").  They were the three musicians who were killed in that winter storm over Iowa in 1959, or "the day that the music died".

"American Pie" may have also opened the door to "American Grafitti", "Grease", "Happy Days" and all of that 1950's music revival of the mid-70s.  Again, I loved that revival because it introduced me to a lot of music that I still love today.

As you listen to "American Pie", remember that it is one man's story of pop music since that fateful day that Buddy Holly was killed.  You will hear references to The Beatles, Elvis, James Dean, The Rolling Stones ("Jack Flash") and a few song titles like "Eight Miles High" and "The Book of Love".  

Most of all, it is Don MClean's boyhood story:

"“American Pie” is partly biographical and partly the story of America during the idealized 1950s and the bleaker 1960s. It was initially inspired by Don’s memories of being a paperboy in 1959 and learning of the death of Buddy Holly. 

“American Pie” presents an abstract story of McLean’s life from the mid-1950s until the end of the 1960s, and at the same time it represents the evolution of popular music and politics over these years, from the lightness of the 1950s to the darkness of the late 1960s, but metaphorically the song continues to evolve to the present time. It is not a nostalgia song. “American Pie” changes as America, itself, is changing."

Again, the song was very consequential years ago.  It sold millions of albums and you can never discount that.  It defined Don McClean's career and he is been the "American Pie" man ever since!

I have not listened to the song for years.  In fact, I do not have it on any kind of personal play list.  However, I repeat that I'm very grateful that Don McClean introduced me to Buddy Holly, who is one of my all time favorite rockers.   

Buddy was only 22 when he was killed.  Maria Elena ("the widowed bride" from the song lyrics) still lives in Texas.  They married months before Buddy was killed and she still works on his musical legacy today.   Make sure that you visit the Holly grave site if you travel to Lubbock, TX.  It is a very popular destination for those of us who appreciate how great Buddy Holly was.

Watch "The Buddy Holly Story", a decent movie about his life.  To say the least, Buddy Holly was a great rocker who contributed a lot in his very young life.  I wrote a post about Buddy in 2008 and Valens in 2009.  They were so young!  I agree that a lot of music "died that day" when those young rockers were killed.

P.S. You can hear the song here:  CLICK.

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And now there is a yellow fever outbreak in Brazil


It’s been a rather bad two years from Brazil.  It started with that humiliating 7-1 loss at home in the 2014World Cup, aka the afternoon that Germany did not stop scoring.  Add zika, the impeachment of a president for corruption scandals, and now an outbreak of yellow fever.
This is from Dom Phillips:
The governor of the Minas Gerais State in southeastern Brazil declared a public health emergency on Friday over an outbreak of yellow fever that appears to have killed at least 10 people so far and led to reports of more than 100 suspected cases of the disease.
The state authorities said Friday they were investigating 133 suspected cases of yellow fever, of which 20 were considered probable, pending further testing. They said they were also looking into reports of 38 deaths, 10 of them suspected of being caused by yellow fever, according to the State Health Secretariat’s website.
The state health authorities said the number of suspected cases had more than doubled in recent days: 48 suspected cases had been reported as of Wednesday, and that figure rose to 110 on Thursday.
To be exact, this is happening in one state and not the entire country.  Nevertheless, Minas Gerais is the second most populous (20 million) and the fourth largest state in terms of its geographical area.  The city of Belo Horizonte is here.  Again, this is not a small, isolated area with a small population.
As the article outlines, yellow fever is an acute viral hemorrhagic disease transmitted by mosquitoes.
It leaves me wondering about the state of social services in a tropical country where mosquitoes are everywhere.  What happened to the vaccines?  Why was it allowed to get this bad?  As a local health official said:
The question is why people weren’t vaccinated in these areas[.] … Minas Gerais has long been known as a risk area for yellow fever. That is what most calls my attention.
Well, let’s hope it all works out.  It’s been a rather bad year for the good people of Brazil!
P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

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Cabinet nomination hearings, Obama farewell & other thoughts

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