April 6, 2016

Well, it turns out the Wisconsin primaries have upset the applecart on both sides of the national political aisle. All of a sudden Donald Trump is fighting for his political (what there ever was of it, anyways) life after being smacked by Ted Cruz. And just as interestingly, Hillary Clinton has now lost six of the last seven primaries to that young whippersnapper Bernie Sanders – OK, he’s not young but he is a whippersnapper! – whose campaign, once akin to a chihuahua nipping at Madame Secretary’s cankles, has now become something of a pit bull tearing at one of her gawdawful pantsuits.

If you’re a political junkie it doesn’t get a whole lot better than this. And the fact is, thing are only starting to get interesting.

On the Republican side, all the attention – rightly so – is now shifting to Ted Cruz, but don’t pay any attention to that. If Trump’s biggest problem is that it’s becoming more unlikely by the day that he can get to that magic number of 1,237 delegates that would assure him of an uncontested, first-ballot nomination at the GOP convention in Cleveland, the fact is Cruz has that same problem as well. And I can assure you right now, no one is happier about the results last night than GOP chair Reince Priebus, who knows pretty darned well that the Party apparatus is now going to play a YUUUGE role in choosing the eventual nominee. The GOP establishment and their big-money donors also have reason to be ecstatic this morning, for they accomplished perfectly what they knew they needed to do after Trump’s victories in February and March, which was to bring every weapon they had (including Cruz’s campaign) to bear on and obliterate Trump in a massive media barrage of negativity fueled by the Trump’s campaign missteps on any number of fronts.

Cruz can say all he wants that he’s now the leading candidate for the GOP nomination, but you can bet the GOP establishment doesn’t want anything to do with him either – he was always just going to be one of the tools at their disposal to make sure Trump got taken out. The campaign to watch now is that annoying “I’m just a happy-go-lucky, son of a mailman” John Kasich, who has actually played his cards pretty well to this point, staying above the Trump/Cruz fray and doing what he needed to do, which was win the Ohio GOP primary. Consider this: if Trump’s campaign continues to deflate ahead of the big upcoming GOP state primaries in New York, Pennsylvania, and California, and if Kasich can make a good showing and show even a little bit of momentum going into the GOP convention, that cagey mailman’s son would make a perfect candidate that the GOP (at least theoretically) could coalesce around. The GOP leaders could also point out the fact that the Cruz / Trump battle has been so acrimonious and bruising that neither of their supporters would ever support the other in a general election. Given all this, it is hard not see a scenario where the governor of the very state where the GOP convention is held is triumphantly rolled out as a mainstream candidate everyone can support, a candidate who could compete well against Democrats in a way that neither Trump nor Cruz could.

Listen, y’all, to The Great White Shank: keep an eye on Kasich.

On the Democratic side, one can only wonder what Hillary Clinton and the Party establishment (re: Dem party chair Debbie Wasserman-Shultz) is thinking this morning. Heck, just a few weeks ago Hillary was picking the colors of the Oval Office drapes! If you believed the mainstream media (which I didn’t) they had the perfect candidate to run against their perfect opponent (Trump), and it was going to be a triumphant coronation at the Democratic convention. But then the inevitable happened: voters got to see what Hillary Clinton was really like, both as a person and as a candidate. And, just like in 2008, the more they saw, the more they recoiled in revulsion – hence, the rise of the more likeable and charismatic Sanders. Can “the Bern” really pull this thing off? Well, as Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey accurately points out, he doesn’t really have to:

But Bernie doesn’t really have to catch Hillary. All he needs to do is keep her from reaching 2,383 delegates without the superdelegates to hold the threat of a contested convention over her head. If that happens — or even if it comes close to happening — then Democrats really have to ask themselves why they put all of their electoral eggs in the Clintons’ basket. If she can’t beat a walkover like Bernie, Hillary will be in deep trouble in a general election, unless Republicans hand it to her in their own contested convention.

Word is that Hillary is now going to go big negative on Bernie. Big mistake. Unlike Republicans, who have no qualms about circular firing squads, Democrat and liberal voters don’t really like that kind of thing, and Hillary going negative will simply reinforce every suspicion they have about both her and the Clintons in general.

I also think there’s a real wild-card now in play here. As long as Hillary was assured of being the Party’s eventual nominee you knew damned well that no one was ever going to indict her for the e-mail scandal that is still very much out there and very much in play. Now that Hillary’s nomination is anything but assured, might this be the tipping point where the Obama White House tells the Justice Department to proceed with whatever the FBI recommends in terms of action? Might the following scenario now start to play out? Stories start being leaked about the likelihood of Clinton being indicted. More, even more damaging e-mails are leaked. The Sanders campaign picks up even more steam, and supporters start fleeing Clinton’s campaign in droves. Clinton, if not indicted, receives at the very least a severe reprimand for her involvement in the e-mail scandal. At the Democratic convention neither Clinton nor Sanders has enough delegates for a first-ballot nomination, so the Party coalesces around their own compromise candidate, Joe Biden, who with Elizabeth Warren, becomes the Democratic ticket.

Thus come the fall you have Biden and Kasich as their respective Party nominees, rendering the entire last two years a huge waste of time, money, and effort on everyone’s part.

Now wouldn’t that be something?

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 09:11 | Comments (0)
April 4, 2016

Even though it’s Masters week, it’s also the start of the 2016 Major League Baseball season. Every year at this time there’s a big debate going on in my head: does this year’s Red Sox team warrant enough promise in my head to make me purchase the MLB Extra Innings package on DirecTV? I’ve thought about it a lot and watched more than a few Spring Training games on NESN and have made the decision.

Nah.

I have to say that I share the Boston Herald’s Steve Buckley pessimism when it comes to this year’s team. Yes, they have David Price up front and Craig Kimbrel as closer, but you’ll excuse me if the likes of Clay Buchholz, Joe Kelly, and Rick Porcello aren’t going to strike fear into any opposition. Eduardo Rodriguez is a keeper when he’s back, and I’m OK with Stephen Wright staying with the team as an occasional starter and occasional long reliever – especially since I think one of three starters I mentioned above is gonna lose their spot in the rotation sooner or later. My bet is on Porcello – he stinks. The bullpen, blah. The infield has a lot of ifs: if Hanley Ramiriez can handle first base. If Dustin Pedroia can stay healthy. If Xander Bogearts can keep improving. But I don’t care what you say – third base is a disaster no matter whether Travis Shaw or Pablo “Fat Pig” Sandoval play there. The same with left field – why can’t the Sox get a decent left fielder? Jackie Bradley, Jr. and Mookie Betts will be OK but I just have a feeling…

I guess more than anything, I see manager John Farrell as a downer. I can’t stand to watch him manage. I can’t stand to listen to that monotone. I can’t stand the corporate line that so-in-so is “putting in his work as we expect him to”. It’s annoying. More than anything else, he carries the air of dead man walking, like that restaurant down the street that has had four previous incarnations in the past five years. No enthusiasm. No passion. I think he already knows he’s gone by the middle of June.

But the final kicker was the NESN broadcast team. I know it was just Spring Training, but I miss Don Orsillo’s measured tones in the play-by-play role. The new guys they have (and that includes long-time color man Jerry Remy, who seems to me to be mailing it in these days) never shut up. It’s really gotten obnoxious in in the NESN broadcast booth, and it’s a real turn-off.

So I’ll follow the Sox whenever I can on the MLB Network and have to be satisfied with that. Anyways, here are my picks (for what they’re worth) for the 2016 season:

Red Sox: 82 wins, 3rd place AL East.

AL East: Blue Jays
AL Central: Royals
AL West: Texas
Wild Card: Twins, Astros

NL East: Mets
NL Central: Cubs
NL West: Giants
NL Wild Card: Cardinals, Dodgers

AL Champions: Royals
NL Champions: Cardinals
World Series Champions: Cardinals

Play ball!

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 21:39 | Comments (2)
April 3, 2016

A few thoughts and comments following a hectic week of business travel and just trying to get over this bout of bronchitis. It’ll be back to the quack again tomorrow to see what the next steps are.

Watching Jason Day beat the field in the WGC-Dell Match Play shows just how much of a force he could be in all the majors this year. He’s long, he’s talented around the greens, and he’s cultivated quite the ability to step on the necks of opponents (in this case, Louis Oosthuizen) whenever a mistake opens the door of opportunity.

Speaking of which, Masters Week begins tomorrow. You’ve got prior winners like Adam Scott winning the last two events on the Florida Swing, Bubba Watson, who I believe could win at Augusta any time he can keep the demons at bay, and Jordan Spieth, who says his game is thisclose. Phil Mickelson only needs to catch lightning in a bottle as Jack did in ’86. And then there are the talented ones looking to get their first green jacket: Day, Rickie Fowler, Dustin Johnson, and a host of unknown wannabes just looking to take the next step. It ought to be a great week.

Sitting at the airport bar on Friday, I’m watching every single segment on CNN just pulverizing Donald Trump. Trump wants to nuke Europe! Trump wants to jail women who have abortions! Trump is a disaster waiting to happen! And then I see endless stories about how Trump has zero popularity among women and would lose big against Hillary Clinton in the general election. As a long-time observer of the mainstream media, none of this passes the sniff test. Believe you me, if the Beltway / media folks didn’t think Trump was a threat to them you wouldn’t hear a peep.

…but there’s no doubt Trump’s campaign finally had a bad week. Frankly, I’m surprised it didn’t happen sooner. That interview with Chris Matthews was a disaster. And I’m surprised someone of his supposed media-savvy abilities couldn’t see that coming. Trump should have known – and hopefully he’s now learned a tough lesson – that none of these guys – on CNN, MSNBC, FOX, wherever, no matter who they are, have his interests at heart. The media only wants the Republican race to dissolve into chaos, will do anything to try and further that, and as the big dog in the race Trump should have known Matthews was going to try and take him down.

Maybe it’s just me, but I have a real bad feeling about this Red Sox team. The only good thing is that manager John Farrell knows he’s on the shortest leash in the majors (I think he’ll still be gone by Memorial Day), and GM Dave Dombrowski is fully aware that prior GM Ben Cherington was a disaster. Benching the low-performing, highly-paid Pablo Sandoval and Rusney Castillo are a good start, but the problem is who replaces them? Travis Shaw and the combination of Brock Holt and Chris Young will have to prove themselves as far as I’m concerned, and if either don’t pan out, then what? And count me as not convinced about the starting rotation beyond David Price. It’ll be an interesting year, for sure.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 10:10 | Comments (0)

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