The Spectacle Blog

Astros Win 10 in a Row or The AL Now Has a Problem with Houston

By on 5.3.15 | 10:43PM

The Houston Astros beat the Seattle Mariners 7-6 this afternoon to win their 10th consecutive game. 

At 18-7, they own the best record in the American League with only the St. Louis Cardinals having a better overall record in MLB.

Of course, the difference is that no one is surprised by the success of the Cardinals. The same cannot be said of the Astros who between 2011 and 2013 had the worst record in MLB. In 2014, the Astros won 70 games, but this was not enough to save Bo Porter's job. When the Astros hired A.J. Hinch in the off-season it didn't set off rockets given Hinch's unsuccessful year and a half stint with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2009 and 2010. 

The AL West was supposed to be a three way battle between the Angels, Mariners and A's. Well, not only do none of these teams have winning records, the Astros already have a 7 game lead on the Angels.

60 Minutes Doesn’t Recognize The Difference Between Israeli & Palestinian Children

By on 5.3.15 | 8:59PM

This evening 60 Minutes profiled Dr. Jim Gordon, a Georgetown psychiatrist who is counseling both Israeli and Palestinian children who survived rocket attacks following last summer's war between Israel and Hamas.

The way the story was presented was that both Israeli and Palestinian children were traumatized by the conflict. But what they didn't emphasize was how these children are socialized. Two of the Palestinian children had drawings of themselves as martyrs and suicide bombers. There's a good chance that those Palestinian children who Dr. Gordon counseled probably watched this childrens' program in which an adult in a bee costume tells them to shoot all the Jews.

Needless to say, the Israeli children did not draw pictures of themselves as martyrs or suicide bombers. 

Freddie Gray’s Death Isn’t About Black & White, It’s About the Gray Area of Power

By on 5.3.15 | 2:08AM

The death of Freddie Gray and the protests and riots which followed in Baltimore have once again been presented in terms of a local police department declaring war on African-Americans.

And yet three of the six Baltimore police officers charged in connection with Gray's death are African-American. 

The death of Freddie Gray isn't a question of black and white. Rather it is a question of the gray area of power. 

As Abraham Lincoln put it, "If you want to test a man's character, give him power." We would be hard pressed to find a class of people who are bestowed with more power than police officers. Most police officers utilize this power responsibly. But when police officers who don't exercise this power responsibly it can result in the unnecessary loss of life. While Freddie Gray did have a criminal record, the last I checked making eye contact with a police officer isn't illegal in this country, much less warranted the loss of his life. 

A-Rod Ties Willie Mays with 660th Home Run; Beats Red Sox

By on 5.1.15 | 10:48PM

I was watching the Yankees-Red Sox game on TV and saw Alex Rodriguez hit his 660th career home run tying Willie Mays for fourth on the all-time list. 

Amazingly, it was A-Rod's first career pinch hit home run. He launched a 3-0 pitch from Red Sox reliever Junichi Tazawa into the Green Monster seats to a cascade of booes. The home run broke a 2-2 tie and proved the game winner for the Yankees.

A-Rod is supposed to get a $6 million bonus from the Yankees, but the club doesn't want to pay it and this will likely result in the MLBPA filing a grievance on his behalf. It will get quite nasty.

Although A-Rod remains a reviled figure, he is helping the Yankees. He already has six home runs this season. If not for A-Rod would the Yankees be in first place in the AL East? As long as he hits, Yankee fans will side with A-Rod against the club.

Alex Rodriguez might have 660 home runs, but he will never be in the class of Willie Mays. 

Freddie Gray’s Death Ruled a Homicide, States Attorney Files Charges

By on 5.1.15 | 11:55AM

All six officers involved in Freddie Gray's arrest and, ultimately, his death, which set off a week of unrest in Balitmore, will be charged with some form of involvement in a homicide, according to Baltimore City State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby.

Although there are conflicting accounts of how Mr. Gray's injuries were sustained, the Baltimore medical examiner was clear that the "severe and critical" neck injury that led to Gray's death was the result of officers failing to follow protocol. Six officers have been charged with counts ranging from misuse of office to second degree murder. 

City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby says Freddie Gray received his critical injuries in Baltimore police custody and has charged all six officers involved in his death.

The state medical examiner’s office turned over Gray’s autopsy on Friday morning, a day after the police turned over their investigation into Gray’s death.

MLB Notes for April: How About Those Houston Astros?

By on 5.1.15 | 11:47AM

It's hard to believe the first month of the season is already over. Here are my observations of each AL and NL division.

AL East

This is anybody's division. New York Yankees (13-9) hold a one game lead over the Boston Red Sox & Tampa Bay Rays (both 12-10). The defending AL East champion Baltimore Orioles are at .500 (10-10) while the last place Toronto Blue Jays (10-12) are only 2½ games out. The Yankees and Rays are doing surprisingly well although I wonder about the Yankees given that Masahiro Tanaka is hurt again while C.C. Sabathia is 0-4 with a 5.96 ERA.

AL Central

Ben E. King, R.I.P.

By on 5.1.15 | 10:33AM

Legendary soul singer and songwriter Ben E. King has passed away yesterday. King was 76. No cause of death has been given, but the news was confirmed by King's old friend and fellow performer Gary U.S. Bonds.

King began his musical career with The Drifters. He would sing lead on classic hits such as "There Goes My Baby", "This Magic Moment" and "Save The Last Dance For Me".

King would leave The Drifters in 1960 and score two big hits the following year with "Spanish Harlem" and "Stand By Me" which he co-wrote with Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller.

"Stand By Me" would become a rock 'n roll standard and has been recorded by the likes of John Lennon, Gene Clark, Mickey Gilley, Maurice White and Prince Royce.

Did the U.S. Deny a Visa to an Iraqi Nun for Fear She Might Seek Sanctuary?

By on 4.30.15 | 4:25PM

Before I started this piece, I did a quick Google search using the term "ISIS Killing Christians" in order to help demonstrate a point that the Obama Administration, while licking the boots of Iranians and gleefully ignoring the forward march of radical Islamists across Iraq and Syria in order to concentrate on easier topics, has turned a blind eye to the murder of hundreds, if not thousands, of Christians in ISIS-controlled areas. 

My search, which focused on news stories, turned up over 2.2 million results.

Kid Cuts Off Barack Obama, Says He’s Heard Enough

By on 4.30.15 | 3:33PM

This afternoon, President Obama participated in a Discovery Education "virtual field trip," where he discussed current events with middle school students in person and via livestream from a middle school in Washington, D.C. 

He found out the hard way that, while the media may tolerate his long-winded answers that say quite a bit while also saying basically nothing, ten to 12 year olds are not as forgiving. The panel's middle school moderator, Osman Yahya, an adorable, bespectacled kid whose achievements earned him the right to question the President, was a more professional political moderator than almost anyone who's hosted the President in the past. 

Behold, the deft with which young Osman tells the President, as politely as possible, to please wrap it up after the Commander in Chief had rambled on for several minutes about his approach to writer's block, something a man with a team of speechwriters wouldn't be very familiar with.