Friday, August 24, 2007

Baseball Quarterly: 2 NY 3rd Basemen as MVP? Holy Cow!!

Welcome back foks... its our first column since August 2nd!!!!,.. Hope you didnt miss NWOW too much... we were on vacation plus I am doing something new and exciting with the Mortgage Podcast, (hint video podcasts + You Tube). Also if anyone knows of a good hosting site let me know because I am dumping the amazingly unreliable Media Max and looking for another home for my hosted files so my podcasts actually work when you hit the play button. The only thing Media Max is good at is taking my money out of Pay Pal every month, and then shutting down my service for non payment! I also have a new song I have been working on that will make the Ballad of Melanie McGuire look like a Mother Goose poem.... so the August postings have not been as frequent as usual! We should be back to normal in September.

Gosh there has been a lot going on!! And let's be heard... 78 year old Bob Grant is back on WABC... and not a single gray hair nor receding line to be found in his toupee!

So how do we start the column? With a story about Merv Griffin, who was a truly incredible guy? Or Phil Rizzuto, the onetime Money Store commercial pitchman whose death coincides with death bells for certain sectors of the mortgage industry? Speaking of which... kudos to CT Senator Christopher Dodd whose Presidential popularity points will shoot through the roof now that he has come up with the only idea that will get us out of this rut.... having the government bail out the subprime borrowers. The banks are not making these loans because their investors don't want to put money into risky loan portfolios and where there is no money.... there is nothing to lend. This leaves borrowers with adjustable rates in a tough bind because once their rates adjust (or adjust a 2nd or 3rd time), they can't afford it, and the last thing we need are more foreclosures. Hopefully Dodd's idea to expand an existing federal program to allow reasonable refinances for these people will come to fruition, because that might be the only solution to this problem.

Actually, I'll start with a tale about my mom's 97 year old aunt who died earlier in the week. Up until a few years ago, she was in pretty good shape - she had her own apt in NYC into her 90s and I believe was driving a car well into her late 80's. Ten years ago when she was a young and sprightly 87, I went to the city to participate in a panel discussion on a cable TV show that was being produced by a friend of mine. It was the night of The State of the Union Address and after the speech, our panel was going to talk about the speech. I really didnt say much during the live broadcast, but my mom told her aunt that I would be on. I asked the producer what channel I would be on on the cable systems in that part of Manhattan, and somewhere along the line the numbers got transposed, because it turned out the channel number we gave her was uh "other" programming.. that definitely didnt feature me.

We paid a shiva call to my mom's cousin and while there we discovered that this aunt's grandson had married the niece of one of Trophy Wife's close friends!! Talk about a small world... And since we were in Brooklyn, we capped off our visit with a trip to the Kosher Subway in Bklyn, Regular readers of this blog will recall I wrote a whole column back on January 11th about my love affair with the sub. That article featured a bizarre coincidence involving sub sandwich locations and the alleged murder spree of Robert Zarinsky... he's the guy who was acquitted for killing a cop, but lost his civil suit because he is serving time for another crime and didn't have the resources to hire a lawyer so he ended up representing himself. After turning over his money to the cop's widow an appeals court overturned the result and ordered the widow to repay the money after it had all been spent. Now the Star Ledger has been running a multi part series that reads more like a Truman Capote novel. If you read that January 11 column, you will see that while he is definitely no saint, some of the crimes Zarinsky is accused of, are direct results of accusations made by his sister who has already shown her true colors as a liar and a thief.

When it comes to Merv - oooooooooooo.. what a cool guy... He had it all... a legendary talk show in the 70s.. plus he created Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune plus the legendary Dance Fever. He wrote the Jeopardy theme and created the rules in such a way that his think music would play long enough for him to get a royalty check! Then he "retired" and started investing in hotels and casinos which he sold for millions of dollars causing a huge rift with that blabber mouth Donald Trump who despite all his bluster definitely does not have the financial back bone nor acumen nor success that Merv did. (Also Merv Griffin's daddy never bought millions of dollars worth of chips to keep his casino afloat!)

As for Scooter... I went to high school with a girl who lived right across the street from the Rizuttos in Hillside. The night of The 1983 All Star Game, a friend of ours had a party, and after spending the evening watching the game, I somehow ended up driving this girl back to her house. As we pulled up to her house at approximately 1 in the morning, like the silly boy that I was back in those days, I looked towards Casa Rizzuto and bellowed out...."HOLY COW YOU HUCKLEBERRY!!" My classmate ran back to her house in total embarrasment, and since it was the night of the All Star Game, Scooter was home because lights started going on in the house. I hopped into my Gold Duster and headed off into the sunset!!

The Baseball Report coming up in a second.. but first let me tell you about our vacation!

Trophy Wife and I were hanging out at the Jersey Shore back in July and stumbled into what we thought was a quaint little town, so we decided we would spend a few days there at a hoity toity B and B in August. We looked at this one hotel and they had this incredibly gorgeous room and a hot tub but it would cost a fortune. We decided we would stay there for a few days just for fun... not realizing that the whole town consistend of religious Methodists mixed in with homosexuals whose civil unions are being banned by the church run boardwalk!! Between all the religious Methodists and our trip to the Sussex County Fair earlier in the week, we were the only Jews for miles and miles. There were more Gentiles there than a K Mart on Yom Kippur. One exception was the yamulke wearing Steven Goldstein who participated in a protest about the gay union ceremonies being banned from the boardwalk. He eloquently made his point with this line: "The gay community has been the economic engine in this town for decades, and for them to say 'We'll take your money but not give you respect' is an outrage".

We were an economic engine too... We arrived at our verrrrry expensive hotel room and as we entered it.. hey it looks smaller.. and there was no hot tub! The girl at the hotel sweetly told us that the hot tub room was booked already but this hot tubless room costs the same! Boy were we bummed... and of course the hotel in its attempt to be hospitable offered us... free beach passes for one day! Whoopdy dam do...

The hotel is part of the resnazzified part of Monmouth County that is trying to re-establish itself as the land of the Hoity Toity. The room had a big glossy Glamour type magazine that with much bragaddicio spoke of all the exciting things going on in that part of NJ. Page after page of the August issue contained pictures of all these big society parties.. Then midway through the August issue, I came across an ad for the Count Basie Theater announcing a big appearance forthcoming in October by comedian Richard Jeni!! Wow.. thats an updated magazine considering Jeni died in March!!

I wasnt too thrilled with Ocean Grove, but the rest of the week was filled with fun.

So as we approach the homestretch of the 2007 season its time to look at who we will see in the post season, plus we will take a sneak peek at the post season awards.. Post Season awards are hard to predict because unless a player has a remarkable season from Day 1, most of these awards are won by September performaces. So lets go on a limb with my picks...

MVP - Could this be the year for the two NY 3rd sackers - ARod and David Wright? Both are having great seasons, although I am not so sure the Yankees will make it to the post season.. But the only other guy worthy is Magglio Ordonez and I think the Tigers will miss it too. Wright might be a sentimental pick, but other than Prince Fielder of the Brewers, who else is really having that big a season? And Wright is hitting .300 and has a shot at a 30-30 season with approx, 100 ribbys... and aside from the very under rated Brandon Phillips... is anyone else going to hit 30 homers and steal 30 bases this season?? Possibly Grady Sizemore? On the other hand, Matt Holliday is looking very strong too,... and the reason why he must be considered will be explained later in this column.

CY YOUNG - How about Jake Peavy in the NL and here's a pick going out on a limb.. JJ Putz the Seattle stopper. Brandon Webb might give Peavy a run for his money, but what AL pitcher is more wothy than the oh so reliable Putz?

ROOKIE - Ryan Braun of the Brewers... and how about Dice K of the Bosox??

As for the rest of the season... the playoff picture is turning into another wild and crazy race... I'll save my wild card picks for the end,. because those races usually take an odd turn. In the American League, my preseason sleeper team The Mariners are still having a remarkable season, They look like the have a shot at the division, as they lead the Wild card race... just as much as the other 2nd place teams. It looks like the Indians, Angels and Red Sox will be the division winners In my preseason picks I had LA winning the West, and Cleveland as The Wild Card, My other 2 wrong division picks were The Yankees and The White Sox.

Over in the National League, the Mets continue to hold off the Braves and Phillies as they go for their 2nd straight division title. In the West, The D-backs have carved out a nice lead in the division.... which leaves 2 more spots and a bunch of .500ish teams in the battle to secure those invitations to the Post Season. I think the Cubs are better than Milwaukee so I would give them one of those 2 spots. I think it will be the Mets, Cubs (my '07 Surprise Team) and D-Backs wining their divisions...which is a far cry from my original pick of The Phillies, Astros and Dodgers.

AL Wild Card - I think it's going to be Seattle. Those of us out here on the East Coast don't realize how good they are.. and the Putz led pen has been remarkable. They even have a relief pitcher whose last name is Roland Smith - just like the Channel 2 anchorman. The Reds have a reliever named Coutlangus who is a misspelling away from a sex act.

NL Wild Card - Tougher call here.. I have noticed in recent years that the NL has gotten so mediocre that a team that gets hot in the 2nd wk of September gets a clear path to The Wild Card. The question is who has the schedule that will give them a road to the Playoffs... The East has 2 lame teams... the West has only 1 and the Central has the Reds, Pirates, Astros and Cardinals. One would think it should be the Brewers, but take a look at Colorado... with Garrett Atkins, Matt Holliday, Brad Hawpe and Todd Helton they have the best hitting among the 4 NL West contenders and even though their pitching is not as good as the other teams.. those teams rotations have been hit by injuries,... Could it be that a Rocky hot streak catapults 'em to the Post Season... You heard it here first... the Rockies as the Wild Card.

Your influence counts... Use it... Get Kadaffy!!

Here is the first Clip of the Week - one of the funniest things I have ever seen when that Mike Wallace-esque "tough guy" reporters confronted a guy at his house. After the shock of seeing this first time.. watch the woman's reaction to this bizarre encounter!!

Here is our regular clip of the Week... The song that made Scooter a Rock and Roll Legend... a video of Paradise by the Dashboard Lights... which is the song I sang to Trophy Wife as I proposed to her!! (Will You love me forever - will you make me your wife?? As a matter of fact I will!!!)

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Defending the Conservatives

Wait a minute grasshoppa... you dont think today's column is about our pals in the Republican Party!! Oh no... today we are presenting a Jewish column.

Those Republicans do amuse me.... and I think conservative Democrats like myself are driving those GOPers up a wall. Just so you know where this card carrying Democrat stands, look back in the archives for the column from Jan 19, 2006 and March 6, 2006. Another tidbit - I overheard a neighbor saying how he used to be a liberal Democrat but even he admits that welfare in America is a disaster! When the liberals start blasting welfare, you know the party is moving towards the center; it's just too bad that the Republicans who were moving that way a decade ago are slipping back towards their more right wing roots.

One GOP buddy of mine gets especially frustrated that I will not vote Republican next year.. (unless Middlesex County Freeholder Jim Polos wins the Democratic Presidential nomination - but that's a whole other story for another day). He asked me what I would do if Rudy Giuliani was the nominee in '08 prompting me to take a wager and issue this warning/Pumpstradamus-esque prediction to my fellow Americans: There is no way Rudy Guliani will get the Republican nomination. As the Democrats move more to the center and away from the liberal wackos like my friend from DAS Blog , the Republicans are slamming the brakes on any attempt to move the party towards a more center core. The fact is the Republican powers that be are a bunch of religious zealots who want to impose their beliefs on all Americans and they will not allow a pro choice candidate to anchor their ticket in November 2008.

Incidentally, lets give you an idea of Presidential material for those non South Dakota-ns who are pro-choice. When Reagan was President he cut all federal funding to any Planned Parenthood-esque clinic that mentioned legal abortion as an alternative for their pregnant clients. On his first day as President, The Great President Bill Clinton rescinded that ridiculous Reagan rule that continued through the administration of Evil George Bush I. However on the first day of Evil George Bush II, he reinstated the ban. This is the type of candidate that the Republicans want, so Rudy may as well just forget about any chance of getting the nod to top their ticket next year.

But the Conservative Jews are the ones I want to talk about today. Did you see the Sunday New York Times a week ago with the article by Noah Feldman a hoity toity Harvard Law Professor. One Wall Street Journal blogger called him a legal rock star when he bolted NYU last year to teach at Harvard. Anyway, Mr, Feldman kvetched in The Times that his alma mater Jewish Day School - Maimonides in Brookline, MA snubbed him. A picture he and his wife posed for at a high school reunion was edited so that they were cropped out. What Mr. Feldman also knows is that intermarriage,... which is what he announced loudly in The New York TImes in 1999 when his wedding was performed by an Assistant Secretary of State - is a big no no with an Orthodox Jewish Day School. I mean c'mon.. hes a big shot lawyer etc, but isnt he smart enough to "get it" why Maimonides doesnt advertise the fact that he married out of the faith? Or does he just want to be a rabble rousing pain in the neck?

Intermarriage is not an anti Non jewish women concept from my perspective. I like non Jewish women and believe me a lot of them are smart, sexy and many are hotter than pistols... (Of course none are as beautiful as Trophy Wife who unlike Mrs. Feldman is a Jew!) But the Jewish religion is only going to continue if the next generations continue to make it part of their lives. And when a member of the tribe marries out, they also say adios to the Jewish traditions. Im sure the first year or two they observe Yom Kippur, but lets face it folks, in these intermarried homes, Christmas Tree shopping and ornament hanging takes more time than Passover Seders, Menorah Lighting and Yom Kippur sitting in synagogue time combined.

And guilt plays a role too... How many Jews in the Holocaust refused to renounce their faith and were gassed because of it?? And their sacrifice goes right down the toilet as soon as a Mayor/Judge/Secretary of State/Reform Rabbi performs one of these ceremonies. Incidentally, The Jewish Week has shown that Feldman is full of bologna because the man who took the pic told that paper that everyone standing on that side of the pic got cropped because there were only so many people that were going to fit into his shot. He told The Jewish Week 16 people were cut out of the shot. Still, Feldman complains that the school bulletin doesn't run his lifestyle announcements.. Hey look... here's the Little Feldman kid at the Easter Egg Hunt at The White House!

Its interesting how the different branches of Judaism relate to each other and you just wish sometimes that some of this stuff would stay off the internet... espeically when Feldman falsely makes the intermarriage issue into one of Jewish snobbery. I was recently sent a link to a disturbing website run by an ultra Orthodox organization that features questions posed by young adults to a Rabbi who calls himself "The Moderator". I have nothing against the Orthodox.. I don't consider myself Orthodox or Conservative.... some in between call themselves Conservadox.. I prefer to refer to myself as Orthoservative. I don't prefer the egalitarian services where women lead - I prefer the e-itarian that removes the "g-a-l".

Just to get an idea where this Moderator stands, he is anti Zionism because the State of Israel was formed and is managed in a "not religious enough" manner. He also delicately take issue with the Modern Orthodox outreach organization National Conference of Synagogue Youth because it doesn't seperate boys and girls as is the rule with the Ultras. To them forbidding boy-girl friendships among kids and teens is part of day to day life - in the real world it's a bizarre concept. Let me tell you something, NCSY held events at my synagogue when I was a kid and there was no way a lot of fellas including myself would have gone if there werent girls there!

I must admit that the Moderator takes a very non judgemental approach to questioners who have wandered off the religious path. He handles those q's very delicately and with kid gloves and does what he can to help those young 'uns work their way back.

But some of the stuff is just absurd.... For example when he gets to his misconceptions about mixed seating during wedding receptions. A blessing is said during a wedding reception dinner as part of the Seven Blessings that includes a term for celebrating this happy occasion. This Rabbi/Moderator says mixed seating at a wedding is such a horrible thing that one must not say that specfic blessing. Sorry folks.. he is Wrong!. In reality, a scholar named Levush (who the moderator quotes out of context) had said that there was always a possiblity at a mixed seating reception that a married man might look lustfully at a woman who was seated at his table. Under those circumstances this made a happy event.... an unhappy event.. and therefore FOR THAT REASON, the celebratory blessing shouldn't be said... not just because the men and women are sitting together! Heck, the great Rabbi Moshe Feinstein had mixed seating at the weddings of 2 of his children.. Betcha didn't think an Orthoservative would know that!

And then we have his comments about Conservative Judaism. These are his comments cut and pasted directed from his crazy website.

I am offended by the Conservative movement. That, by Conservative standards, should be enough to abolish it, no? Who makes these decisions, and, most importantly, who gives any of these people the authority to decide laws and practices for other people? Like, who died and make them the boss?
The fact that Conservative Judaism does not believe the Torah is the Word of Hashem but rather "divinely inspired" whatever that means, makes it a totally different religion than Orthodox Judaism. The last time an Orthodox rabbi said this, the Conservatives freaked out and falsely publicized to the papers that we do not believe they are Jews.
Not so. They are Jews. Nobody ever said differently. Their religion, however, is not Judaism. Like Jews for Jesus, they are full-fledged Jews, but are practicing the wrong religion.
And at least Jews for Jesus believe that the Torah was given by G-d, not merely "divinely inspired".
The Conservative movement leads a rebellion against Judaism and then demands we join their rebellion in the interest of Jewish unity!
No. Jewish unity means unity in practicing Judaism. It means NOT siding with the rebels who rebel against the King.
It means remaining loyal to Judaism.
It means NOT joining those who break off from Judaism and create another religion.
Why don’t you say we should pray in a Church of Jews for Jesus in the interest of Jewish Unity?
So, too, we do not pray in a Conservative Church, whether they refer to it as a Shul, or call their religion "Judaism."
You can’t walk into the sanctuary any time. It is a Bais Vaad l'Minus - a place where heretical beliefs are disseminated
Conservative Judaism is clearly heresy, and not Judaism at all. They create their own baseless rules and policies and incorporate those fairytales into what they call Judaism.

These comments speak for themselves about how incrediby disgraceful some Jews can be with their published comments about other members of the Tribe. These ultras attack Conservatives and then their PR machine takes a step back and says they consider Conservative "Jews" to be Jewish.. but then they go off and attack the Conservative Jewish "movement". Its one and the same... and its silly to issue patronizing "Sorry we are not insulting you as a person.. we instead meant to insult the type of synagogue you belong to".

If people who think like the Moderator want to say stuff in the privacy of their homes or within their groups... they can say whatever they want about Conservatives... but to write this kind of drivel on the internet where a person like myself can cut and paste it and republish it elsewhere is just plain wrong and irresponsible. There are aspects of Reform Judaism that I question but I would never make such horrible comments about them on the internet. When you put something on-line, you take responsibility for your words - I did so when I published "The Ballad of Melanie McGuire" where I got harsh criticism , (thanks to Google's cacheing to help find that deleted page), but also praise from a very unlikely source!

The moderator also makes a nasty comment comparing Conservative Jews to Jews for Jesus, Jews for Jesus/Messianic Jews are not Jews.. its a wacko cult led by Christian missionaries who use a gimmick to take more people out of the faith who don't opt to take the route of the oh so insulted Noah Feldman. The Messianic Morons are now infiltrating mainstream events by volunteering at programs where young impressionable kids hang out. I am starting to volunteer at those events just to make sure they stay away from kids pure souls; we should all keep an eye on these evil people just in case they start up with their stupidities.. especially that disgracefully fraudulent "Rabbi" Jan and his disgusting wife "Rebetzin" Marlene from Southern NJ.

But as for Rabbi Moderator.. This man with his hateful commentaries is not the type of person who should be considered a leader for young adults....Parents should not allow their children to consider this man to be a role model..... and I say the website should take the responsible route and cut him out of that website just like Mr. and Mrs. Noah Feldman were excised from the Maimonides Alumni Newsletter!

He should be fired.

Now time for the clip of the Week. Tom Snyder died earlier this week. Here is a montage I found on You Tube of the wildly entertaining talk show host.