Come Heller high water …
Warning: crabby column, dead ahead. You’ve been warned. Turn away. This is your final alert. No? OK, you asked for it. May God have mercy on your soul:
- Suddenly, we are in “those” days. The cold days. The ice days. The where-has-the-sun-gone days. The days when the roads consist mostly of black-ice strips of pavement bordered by rock-hard ridges of ice that the plows, salt and dirt can’t seem to dent. The days when you can’t remember what summer, spring or fall feel like. “Those” days. I hate them. They’re the only time I loathe living in Michigan. Save us, Mr. Groundhog. Please?
- On “these” days, I usually turn to thoughts about baseball. Looking forward to spring training and all the off-season moves the Tigers will make always lifts my spirits. But not this year. A new fad has taken over baseball. Forget winning the division. Forget being an “out of nowhere” wildcard winner. Forget even being competitive. Teams that don’t perceive themselves to have enough to win it all instead “tank” even before the season starts. It’s a loathsome thing and violates everything I was always taught about sports: that you try your damnedest, no matter the odds or score. Baseball super-agent Scott Boras describes this trend (and when an agent is the voice of reason, you know you have a problem) a “non-competitive cancer.” I couldn’t agree more. The Detroit Tigers are Exhibit A. They could be competitive. They could even win. As of this writing, there are more than 200 decent to outstanding free agents available. But the Tigers aren’t signing any of them, nor making any trades to be good now. Instead, they’re shopping their only remaining decent player, Nicholas Castellanos. (I’m not counting Miggy, who is untradeable, and frankly not that good anymore.) I know some of you will say I should support my team no matter what. But I can’t. Baseball isn’t about surrendering before you even begin. Nothing is about surrendering before you begin. Why anyone would bother buying a ticket to see a second consecutive year of “we’re not even trying” baseball is beyond me.
- This is how shameful Michigan government has been the past 20 years: According to a new MSU study, Michigan ranked dead last among states for total education revenue growth, spending 82 percent less by 2015 than we did in 1995. The reason: incessant Republican tax cuts, of course. The result: Michigan kids rank near the bottom on tests, according to national testing data. Aren’t we proud?
- You get the society you pay for, people. Kids, too, to some degree, it appears.
- Oh, and the kicker: the state’s new letter grade grading system for the public schools kicks in soon. I’ve said this before but, in light of the new spending data, maybe we shouldn’t give letter grades to schools but to lawmakers.
- I usually figure bad calls are part of sports. But both NFL Championship games last week turned on awful, awful calls. So isn’t it time that all calls be reviewable? (Answer: Duh.)
- That said, the Patriots will beat the Rams in the Super Bowl, 34-26. Because the league wants to give Tom Brady one more ring. It’s a conspiracy! (Did you see that roughing the quarterback call? C’mon.)
- I have never outgrown the impulse to kick ice chunks down the road. And I hope I never do. (See, there’s your moment of cheerfulness in this column. I hope you enjoyed it.)
- The lesson to draw from the ugly furor over the encounter between the Native American protester and the high schoolers wearing MAGA hats has nothing to do with political beliefs or divisions. It has everything to do with how easily manipulated we are as a society. The video that initially made it seem like the kids were chanting, insensitive fools was put out by a blogger in Brazil with a history of trying to cause rancor and was retweeted at least 14,400 times and viewed at least 2.5 million times. Twitter suspended the account after journalists asked about it. Lesson: Think before you retweet. Social media is tearing us apart, and we should all be aware that there are people and nations out there that want it that way.
- Have you noticed that Queen songs are now popping up in advertisements everywhere? I love Queen and loved the movie, but I’m never comfortable with old favorite songs in commercials. Cheapens them in some indefinable way.
- I usually deliver an annual “State of the Household” address to the family every January. But this year, the lovely yet formidable Marcia has informed me that I’m not allowed to. Not because of the recent shutdown or anything like that. She just thinks I’m annoying. I plan to submit it in writing, nonetheless. I’ll let you know how that goes.
- Meanwhile, here’s a thought for the next government shutdown in 20 days: “You can only end a negotiation for peace if you begin it.” – Benjamin Netanyahu.