Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Gagarin reviews the New York Yankees

Gagarin's observations of the videos he receives on his radio wave transmission machine. Translated from the original Tralfamadorian, the language spoken on planet Tralfamadore.

Unfortunately, sometimes it is days between transmissions and I am left to wonder who won the base-ball games on the planet called Earth. During these gaps, I review video footage I have already received from this alien planet, hoping to discover something I may have missed in prior viewings. Since I am going to review the base-ball team known as the "New York Yankees," I thought I would look at some of the videos about this city called New York, but there are hours and hours of information about this city and I have chosen only the most recent videos. I feel that the city of New York must be the most important city on the planet. However, much of the footage I have acquired is disturbing.

I am particularly curious about the mating habits of Earthlings after watching many hours of a program called "Sex in the City." It focuses on the lives of a particular kind of Earthing called "woman," and there seems to be much difficulty in finding a suitable mate for reproductive purposes. It appears that there are two variations of Earthling necessary for mating, those being "woman" and "man." The particular womans on the program "Sex in the City" can be described as whiny and never content with the things they have, which are many. The dominant woman in this program has an obsession with the painful type of shoe I described in a previous entry. These womans do not seem pleasant and I do hope that not all of the womans on Earth are this disagreeable.

Another program about the city of New York that I have frequently viewed is called "Seinfeld." I do not know what to make of this program. It seems as if the Earthlings in this program are purposely making life difficult for themselves and for other people. One in particular, a short, bald man, is always yelling about things that do not matter. Another, a tall man with strange hair, seems to have some sort of mental deficiency. The one called "Jerry Seinfeld" is something called a "comedian," which consists of standing in front of groups of Earthlings and telling stories. These stories are called "jokes" and seem to please the Earthlings. I do not know if this is a peculiar pastime of New York or if this is common among Earthlings.

Taken together, these two programs make the city of New York seem like an undesirable place. Yet I feel there is a kind of magic about this grand city and that maybe I do not understand these programs. New York has buildings that reach to the heavens, something you cannot find on the planet Tralfamadore, as our atmosphere must be much smaller than that of Earth. No Tralfamadorian could survive in a building as tall as the ones in New York. I think if the Earthlings can build such magnificent towers, they must be better than those featured on the Sex and the City and Seinfeld programs.

In New York there are two Major League Base-ball teams. One is called the Yankees and they are in the American League. The other is called the Mets and they are in the National League. I will get to the Mets later. The Yankees are historically the best team in the Major League Base-ball. They have won twenty-seven of the championships they call the "World Series" that is only played in the region they call "America." They have won the championship as recently as four seasons ago and they could do it again this year, though, as I mentioned, this division called the "American League East" is full of very good teams.

The uniform of the Yankees team is iconic on planet Earth. It consists of a black cap with a white NY stitched upon it and pinstriped shirts and pants. I am considering commissioning our local tailor to fashion such a uniform for me; however, as we don't wear clothing on Tralfamadore, I would probably not wear it, not wanting to draw attention to myself.

There appears to be some disparity in the wealth of teams. "Wealth" is the amount of resources available to the Earthlings to acquire items they do not make themselves. These can be items of necessity, such as the food they must consume to sustain their bodies, or extraneous items that give them pleasure but are not necessary for survival. One of the ugly things about Earthlings that I have discovered after studying many hours of videos is that their lives revolve around the acquisition of such items and that many Earthlings take so much of the available resources that others do not have enough to feed themselves. This is a cause of many conflicts in which they try to destroy each other. I am unable to understand how a civilization that can build such magnificent structures into the sky and invent the great game of base-ball is of insufficient intelligence to avoid such conflicts.

These kinds of inequalities exist everywhere on Earth, including in the great game of base-ball. This is why the New York Yankees have won more championships than all of the other teams - they have more wealth than the other teams and they buy better quality players. Yes, Earthlings buy other Earthlings. The wealthiest of them buy the labor of the less wealthy and they become a part of the wealthiest's wealth. This is a very complicated issue that warrants in-depth study. However, that is not the focus of this entry; I only mention it because the New York Yankees base-ball team has so much wealth and buys players. As a result, their team looks very different from the previous season. They bought these players: Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann, Kelly Johnson, Brian Roberts, Alfonso Soriano. Alfonso Soriano was added at the end of last year. This is probably their batting lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. SS Derek Jeter
  3. RF Carlos Beltran
  4. C Brian McCann
  5. 1B Mark Teixeira
  6. DH Alfonso Soriano
  7. 3B Kelly Johnson
  8. 2B Brian Roberts
  9. LF Brett Gardner
It is among the best in the Major League Base-ball and they will score many runs with it.

On the bench are these players: C Francisco Cervelli, OF Ichiro Suzuki, IF Brendan Ryan, IF Scott Sizemore. Ichiro Suzuki used to be one of the best hitters but his body has aged and he no longer has the capability he once had. This is what happens to Earthlings. For the first twenty of their Earth years or so, their bodies are in development. The next ten of their years are the best years and then their bodies begin to age. They only exist for approximately eighty Earth years before ceasing to live. One wonders how they accomplish anything in that short amount of time. Perhaps that is why they remain in perpetual conflict - they have not the time to gain the wisdom to stop before they perish.

A curious thing about the Yankees' starting pitching - they all end with the same letter. I thought this strange and theorized that they did, perhaps, hail from the same area. I was thus astonished to discover that not only did they not hail from the same place, but, indeed, hailed from places very far apart on the planet Earth.
  1. CC Sabathia hails from California, a place within the region of America
  2. Hiroki Kuroda hails from Japan
  3. Masahiro Tanaka hails from Japan
  4. Ivan Nova hails from Dominican
  5. Michael Pineda hails from Dominican
A strange thing about the players from the Japanese tribe is that there is a major league base-ball in their land but they choose to play in the region called America. This is because the Major League Base-ball of America has more wealth than that of Japan. The New York Yankees often buy the services of the best players of the league in Japan because they have more wealth than all of the other teams. Masahiro Tanaka is the latest addition to the team from the league of Japan, and though every team wanted him, the Yankees won a contest to purchase his services because they have the most wealth.

The probable finishing pitchers are David Robertson, Shawn Kelly, Matt Thornton, David Phelps, Dellin Betances, Cesar Cabral, Adam Warren. It should be noted that David Robertson is considered the top finisher and is new. The body of their elder finisher called "Mariano Rivera" grew too aged to continue playing. He was beloved by the citizens of the city of New York and by fans of the great game of base-ball in general. This season's bullpen is probably the weakest part of the Yankees team and might be a problem during the season. Last season it wasn't good aside from Mariano Rivera and the team did not make the post-season.

It should be noted that this team has many fans on planet Earth, the most fans of any of the Major League Base-ball teams. Even Earthlings who do not hail from the city of New York or from the region of America like this team. However, many Earthlings also despise the Yankees. This could be for many reasons, perhaps the predominant one being the inequality exhibited by the wealthy Yankees. From what I can tell, the Yankees use other teams to develop young players and then buy them when they reach their primes.

I will be interested to see if the New York Yankees have, in effect, bought their way into the post-season. Using their vast wealth does not guarantee success; however, it does not hurt their chances.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Gagarin reviews the Boston Red Sox

Gagarin's observations of the videos he receives on his radio wave transmission machine. Translated from the original Tralfamadorian, the language spoken on planet Tralfamadore. 

It has come to my attention that the aliens I have discovered are called "Earthlings" after the planet they live on called "Earth." I have also realized that when you write the names of base-ball players, you must use a different letter at the beginning of each name called a "capital" letter. In my previous entry I have spelled names like "chris davis" but I have learned that I should write them like "Chris Davis." Also, the names of the cities and the teams should be written like "Baltimore Orioles." I do not know why this is the case but I will continue to watch the videos for any clues to the answer.

Today I am going to write about the team from the city of "Boston" that is nicknamed the "Red Sox." They are named after the color of their socks. I do not know why the name "Sox" is spelled differently than the word "socks," which is what these Earthlings wear on their feet under footwear called "shoes." As I have previously mentioned, the Earthling body is very fragile. Their feet are soft and they are unable to walk without these "shoes." There are many types of shoes. Some, as I have discovered, are very practical and serve to protect the feet, while others are for decoration and sometimes even harm the foot of the Earthling. This is a very puzzling aspect of the Earthling. They do very harmful things to their fragile bodies. I do not know what purpose the red socks serve the team from Boston, but I have a theory that their shoes are poorly designed and the socks protect their feet from their shoes. Base-ball players wear special shoes with spikes on the bottom, presumably to dig into the ground to help them run faster. This makes sense, as they are tasked with advancing between the bases, and they must start running from a stationary position.

The city of Boston is one of the oldest cities in that region of their planet Earth, but it is very young in the universe. It has existed for more than four hundred Earth years, which I have calculated to be the equivalent of three hundred and forty-two of Trafalmadore's orbits around our sun. It is something of a sacred city to a tribe called "Americans," the people who created the game of base-ball. From the videos I have seen of the history of this tribe, they have an enemy called "Red Coats." A curious thing, this naming groups of people after the color of their clothing. The people of Boston celebrate an event which is far stranger than naming groups after the color of their clothing. Each year they commemorate a night when their ancestors threw a shipment of an herbal drink called "tea" into the water in a protest that served as something of a catalyst for a great war they fought with these Red Coats. I look forward to learning more about this tea war.

I have learned that not all of the base-ball players are members of this tribe called "Americans," but they hail from different regions on their planet. The physical features of Earthlings are widely varied. Some have different skin colors. Others have eyes of different shapes. The heights of these Earthlings also varies greatly. One of the most prominent members of the team called the "Boston Red Sox," indeed, hails from a tribe called "Domincan." The location of the Dominican tribe is somewhere south of the region of America. The player's name is "David Ortiz," but he is also known as "Big Papi," which tells me that he must be some sort of chieftain. He is, among base-ball players, an elder. He now plays the position of "designated hitter," a position only played in the "American League." I wish to learn more about the reasoning behind having different rules in the two leagues, but none of the videos have revealed this information thus far.

Big Papi won the World Series Most Valuable Player in the previous season for helping the Boston Red Sox win the championship, known as the "World Series." This is also puzzling to me. It appears that Major League Base-ball is limited to the region of the Americans, yet the championship series claims to be a global event. Contrast this with the "World Cup," which is the football game played by the whole world, and you must wonder about the mentality of the American tribe. Do they believe they are better people than the rest of the world? If they do, why?

The infield of the Boston Red Sox base-ball team consists of these players: Mike Napoli is firstbaseman, Dustin Pedroia is secondbaseman, Xander Bogaerts is shortstop, and Will Middlebrooks is thirdbaseman. Of these, Will Middlebrooks is the weakest player, with a history of being just average, though he has not played very much in the Major League Base-ball. Mike Napoli is an above average player and can hit twenty home-runs during a season, which is good, not great, but more than adequate for a good base-ball team. Dustin Pedroia is one of the best secondbasemans in base-ball, having once won the American League Most Valuable Player award, which is the most prestigious award a player can win. Xander Bogaerts only played in 18 Major League Base-ball games, but he is considered a future star, and the Boston Red Sox Base-ball team has what Americans call "high hopes" for him. All in all, this is a very good infield for the defending "world" champions.

As for the outfield, this is a question mark. The team had a very good outfielder called "Jacoby Ellsbury," but he left to play on another team. Instead, players called "Grady Sizemore" and "Jackie Bradley" will compete for playing time. Grady Sizemore was once an excellent player for the team known as the "Cleveland Indians," but his body broke down and he has never been the same player. A young player called "Daniel Nava" will play leftfielder. He hit above .300 last year, which has traditionally been the mark of a good hitter, though there is some disagreement about whether that is an accurate measurement. One day I will talk about the statistics of baseball, but it is complicated and I am still trying to understand it myself. Some of their statistics seem to be arbitrary and without scientific analysis. Back to the outfield, at rightfielder will be Shane Victorino, an above average player who hits first in the lineup. Hitting first in the lineup means a player is fast and gets on base frequently. It is called "batting leadoff."

Pitching-wise, the Boston Red Sox team has a very good starting pitcher rotation. The pitchers are called Jon Lester, John Lackey, Clay Buchholz, Jake Peavy, and Felix Doubrant. Jake Peavy joined the team at the end of last season. As for the finishers of the game, two are called Koji Uehara and Junichi Tazawa, who hail from the tribe of people called "Japanese." This land is far away from the land of the Americans and they speak a different language with a way of writing that is vastly different. I discovered, however, that many Earthlings are capable of speaking other languages that are found on the planet. However, the American tribe appears to be limited in its own capabilities, though members of other tribes frequently have learned to converse in the American language. These two Japanese players, however, appear to be limited to their own language and use an interpreter to speak on the videos. Further investigation is warranted.

To return to the finishers, called the "bullpen" as noted in an earlier diary entry, a man from a tribe called "Venezuela" is counted on to help bring relief to the starting pitchers. Venezuela is located even further south than the land of the Dominicans. The other bullpen pitchers are Craig Breslow, Andrew Miller, Burke Badenhop, and Chris Capuano.

These pitchers will throw to catchers called "A.J. Pierzynski" and "David Ross." A curious name, this "Pierzynski." The spelling of the name does not fit the conventional spelling patterns of other members of the American tribe. I would like to know more about this name and hope to find answers in videos I may receive in the future.

One of the vital aspects of the great game of base-ball that I neglected to mention in my entry about the Baltimore Orioles is what is called the "bench." These players literally sit on a bench on the side of the field while the others play the game, then, when a certain situation arises, they may be substituted for the players, either in the field or at bat. I have mentioned two centerfielders and two catchers above. Whichever two who aren't playing will sit on the bench until they are needed. Others of these bench players are called Mike Carp, Jonny Gomes, and Jonathan Herrera.

The Boston Red Sox base-ball team is once again very good and could make it to the post-season, but as I said in the Baltimore Orioles entry, this is a very good and difficult division, so there are no guarantees.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Gagarin reviews the Baltimore Orioles

Gagarin's observations of the videos he receives on his radio wave transmission machine. Translated from the original Tralfamadorian, the language spoken on planet Tralfamadore.

Still a long time until the great game season starts. I have been documenting my observations based on the radio wave transmissions I have been receiving from an alien planet that is billions of lightyears from Tralfamadore, and I thought I should give a review of each of the teams in what we have come to know as the game of "base-ball," named for the stations, called "bases," that players run between when trying to score points for their team, called "runs." From what I have gathered, I see that there are thirty of these "base-ball" teams in the most important league on this planet, called "major league base-ball." They have divided this major league into halves, calling one the "american league" and one the "national league." These leagues are divided further into three divisions each. I am still trying to determine what these names mean, but the leagues and divisions appear to be useful in determining a champion at the end of the season.

One of the teams comes from a city called "baltimore." They have a nickname, the "orioles" like a kind of bird on their planet and they wear black and orange uniforms. I have done some research on this city "baltimore" based on the available videos I have received through my machine and this is what I have discovered: it is a city that is located along a large body of water that leads to an ocean, so water transportation is important to the city. A base-ball deity called "babe ruth" hailed from the city, though he was associated with another team from a different city called "newyork." The city of baltimore is known for producing doctors and other positions associated with maintaining the well-being of the civilization on the planet. [A side note: the people from this planet seem to have fragile bodies, perhaps as a result of their destructive tendencies. I plan to conduct a thorough assessment of the state of their well-being in the future.] Baltimore suffers from much violence, as I have learned from videos of the city which are labeled "the wire." These videos show a frightening picture of this civilization, including the voluntary use of chemical substances which leads to many negative consequences, such as the destruction of the body and increased violent tendencies. The videos, which I have kept secret from the Tralfamadore public, are in stark contrast to the beautiful diamond on which the orioles play the game of base-ball, which we broadcast into the homes of every Tralfamadorian.

As the orioles prepare for the season, they have a large list of players that could potentially be on the team. Some of them are guaranteed to be on the team, while others are competing with each other to make what is called a "roster." One of these players is called "chris davis." This player hails from a different city called "longviewtexas" but he is beloved by the baltimore civilization because he hits the ball over the fence more than all of the other players. This is called a "home-run" and gives the team an automatic point, plus points are given if there are any runners on the bases. When he plays in the field as the other team bats, he plays the position called "firstbaseman." Some people wonder if he will hit as many balls over the fence as he did last year, because last year he surprised everyone by hitting so many of them. But he is still expected to hit a lot of them.

At the position they call "secondbaseman," they have a player called "jemile weeks" from "orlandoflorida." He has not played very much in the major league base-ball but he was considered good at the minor league base-ball, which is where players learn and become good enough for the major league. Another player called "ryan flaherty" from "portlandmain" could also be the secondbaseman. Those two players may split playing time. The player who used to play secondbaseman called "brian roberts" from "durhamnorthcarolina" has decided to play for a different team. Next to the secondbaseman at the position called "shortstop" is a player called "j j hardy" from "tucsonarizona." He is a good shortstop though far from the best shortstop. I do not know why the position is called "shortstop" but it is a position that fills the gap in the infield because the players known as "basemans" do not stand on the base that they are named for. At the position they call "thirdbaseman" is a very good young player called "manny machado" from "miamiflorida." He had a very serious injury that required the use of the doctors to repair his body so he could play base-ball this year. He does not hit a lot of balls over the fence but some people say he could hit more over the fence because he hits a lot of doubles and he is young and his body is not a fully grown body of this alien race, and when a body becomes fully grown it gets stronger. One question about this manny machado is if he will start the season on time because that body may not be ready.

In base-ball, there are three positions they call "outfielder." They are divided based on where they stand in the outfield. One is the "leftfielder," one is "centerfielder," and the other is "rightfielder." On the orioles, the rightfielder is a player called "nick markakis" from "glencovenewyork." He is a good player who can be counted on to be consistent. Next to him is a very good young player called "adam jones" from "sandiegocalifornia." He hits many balls over the fence and he is also very fast, which is a valuable combination to have in the major league base-ball. At this point, we are unsure who will play the leftfielder position. This is because a player called "nate mcclouth" from "muskegonmichigan"will play for another team. The orioles must replace him with another player, and two possibilities are called "david lough" from "akronohio" and "nolan reimold" from "greenvillepennsylvania." I do not know very much about either of these players. David lough has not played very much in the major league base-ball and nolan reimold has not had much success in the major league. Henry urrutia or delmon young could also play the position of leftfielder. I do not know from where they hail.

The civilization of baltimore rejoiced recently when they put a new pitcher on the team called "ubaldo jimenez" from "naguadominicanrepublic" who has had much success in the major league base-ball. In base-ball, you have five pitchers to start the games, and they only pitch once every five games. This is because, as I said before, the bodies of this alien race are fragile, and if they pitch too much, their arms break. Ubaldo jimenez will be the best pitcher on the team. The others are called "chris tillman," "wei-yin chen," "bud norris," and "miguel gonzalez." I do not know from where they hail, as the videos have not revealed this information to me. This is not a very great rotation of pitchers, but it is serviceable. The orioles had a very good pitcher called "jason hammel" but he left to play on another team. These five pitchers are not sure to start the games. Others who could start the games are called "kevin gausman," "suk-min yoon," "brian matusz," or "zach britton," or even another pitcher who is not on the team yet, like "irvin santana," who might end up on the team.

As I mentioned, these aliens cannot pitch a lot or their arms will break, so they have other pitchers to finish the games if they throw the ball too much. These finishers are collectively called "the bullpen." I have not learned why they are named after the place where a kind of animal dwells. I will continue to try to learn the reason for this as I watch more of the videos. The bullpen could be a problem for the orioles team. They had one bullpen called "jim johnson," but he left to play on another team. He was the only consistent one in the last season. The bullpen players are called "tommy hunter," who is supposed to be the top finisher, "darren oday," "ryan webb," "brian matusz," "edgmer escalona," "brad brach," and "steve johnson." There are other bullpen players who may make the team, but these who I mention lead the list, according to the video I watched called "major league base-ball network."

There is one other position I have neglected to mention. It is the position that is the receiver of the throws of the pitcher called "catcher." The orioles team has a good catcher called "matt wieters" from "charlestonsouthcarolina." He did not play as well last year as he was expected to, but he is still very young and will probably improve. He is a good player to have on your team.

That is my summary of the baltimore orioles base-ball team. Personally, I am rooting for the orioles above the other teams in this division called the "american league east," which is based on geographic location of the teams. They are very good but the other teams in their division are very good, too. These are called "newyork yankees," "boston redsox," "tampabay rays," and "toronto bluejays." I will record my observations about these teams at a later date.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Meet Gagarin from Tralfamadore

Translated from the original Tralfamadorian, the language spoken on planet Tralfamadore. 

Greetings. My name is Gagarin. I am a scientist on the planet Tralfamadore. Recently I invented a machine that allows me to pick up radiowaves billions of light years away. At first, it was just noise that my machine received and I had no way to interpret it. I had to tinker with the machine, adding a screen to view the data that I was getting, and what I discovered was nothing more than astounding. I had discovered an entire civilization existed on a distant planet somewhere in the universe.

The noises they made were gibberish to me, but I developed an algorithm that allowed me to translate their language into Tralfamadorian so I could understand what they were talking about. After watching several days worth of their videos, I learned that they spoke not one, but many languages, some of them very similar to each other but others being very different, even using entirely distinct alphabets or symbols to write their languages. I found this interesting, as we speak only Tralfamadorian on our planet despite our population of seven billion people. What communication problems these aliens must have! It's no wonder they try to destroy each other, as I learned from their videos.

Initially, I thought them hostile and vile beings due to their violent nature, but then I began to see their soft side, the one where they love, laugh, and and exhibit tender displays of empathy and compassion, sentiments that are not very common on my planet. I began to enjoy these kinds of videos, and then I began to dream of what their planet must be like. It certainly looks beautiful, though they don't seem to appreciate that.

It was in one of these moments of daydreaming when I first discovered their sports. How fascinating that they spend so much time playing games! By far the most popular sport is the one where they kick around a little ball. I have gathered from many hours of watching such programs, that one of the biggest events on their planet is this "football" tournament in which all of their people are engaged, with the notable exception of one part of their planet, a people who seem to be the bullies and take pride in not cooperating with the rest of the people in their world.

Lest you think these are bad people, they aren't. Perhaps "misguided" may be the appropriate term. These people seem to be among some of the most creative on their planet. Indeed, most of the videos I receive come from this one part of the world. It is in this land where they have perfected a game in which I have become completely enthralled, enamored, even, a game played with a stick and a little white sphere on a verdant field they call a diamond, like the sparkling rock they frequently fight over. There is a man they call a "pitcher" and another called a "batter" and this pitcher tries to throw the sphere past the batter, who, in turn, tries to hit it where men called "fielders" are not standing. There is something beautifully simple about this game, something that reminds you of the innocence of childhood.

A new season of this game is about to begin. On their planet, temperatures become cold during a portion of the year, and they can't play the game until it gets warm again. Because of the way their planet orbits their sun, there are certain parts of the planet that are warmer than others. This is why the players of this game travel to more southern parts of the region to practice and prepare for the season. They will move north to their various cities after the vernal equinox. I look forward to the beginning of this season.

I have won many prestigious awards for my invention, but I feel guilty. Until now, my invention has been held in secret, and only I knew about the existence of this alien civilization. When I discovered this game, I knew I had to share it with our world. I have not shared other videos; I do not want my planet to know how the civilization regularly attempts to destroy itself and its planet. No, I prefer to let them believe this civilization is great, as demonstrated by this beautiful game. We broadcast the games into the homes of our people; there is not one person on our planet who does not tune into our broadcasts.

This is my diary. I will be writing in it throughout the season so that future generations may know about this great game in the event that the civilization finally succeeds in destroying itself. I have a countdown calendar on my wall that I have created based on my calculations for how long their days and nights are. I can hardly contain my excitement for what they call "Opening Day."

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Hiber Nation

It's cold today.

Sometimes it feels as if this winter will never end, as if we'll never see flowers again and we'll be confined to coats and hats and scarves and gloves and that our four walls will forever keep us indoors. At this time of year baseball fans are keeping countdowns and looking at schedules, and if they're lucky enough, have purchased their tickets to Florida or Arizona to steal an early glimpse of spring, but it's so cold outside and the days are still so short that I have to wonder if the spring will ever come.

In this winter when only hibernation is the correct reaction, I've taken a strong liking to the Washington Capitals, moreso than ever before, and I watch most of the games on television, though with half the games of MLB, it feels like there are too many off days. I finally went to a game this season at about the start of a very bad month of losing. Go ahead, blame me. It'll be hard to root against Ovi during the Olympics but maybe I can force my brain to put Putin's head on Ovi's body and then it won't be so hard. Of course, Ovi and too many Russians are fans of their dictator-lite, and I see shades of the political rivalry that our two nations held for so long. Things are not the same, however. A decade of wars and the rape of any respect for our government by our citizens has weakened the US while Russia is on the rise. Capitalism has triumphed in the sense that corporations have taken control of our minds (BUY! BUY! BUY!) while the Russians look to government to solve their problems and succeed in a warped sort of way, as they only had up to go. The Olympics are supposed to be a "Look at us, United States!" kind of event. It's pretty transparent. Some magazine - was it Forbes? - called Putin "the most powerful man in the world." Ha. What has he done? They gave him credit for Syria. Where's the success in that? They gave him credit for Iran. So why is Iran sending warships to our maritime borders? I remember he ate lunch in the building I worked several years ago, and I wanted to go down there and spit on him just as I do now. I can't stand human rights abusers.

But at least we have the Olympics to keep us occupied in the coming weeks, and then there is Spring Training. (I just got a new phone so I'll be able to stream games from anywhere. Already downloaded MLB at Bat.) I'll be hoping for another post season for the Capitals, but if they don't figure it out soon, that won't happen. I was thinking about boycotting the Olympics but thought, "What good would that do?" because I'm not going to buy anything just because the sponsors tell me to. I buy what I buy, which isn't a lot, and no amount of advertising will persuade me to buy something I don't need. I feel like Fry on that episode of Futurama when he's the only one in the universe whose thoughts can't be read by the Dark Ones.

I try to imagine a world in which we aren't bombarded by advertising and how differently we would live. Our whole economic system would be different, heck, our whole planet would be different. I'm not sure I can even imagine it in a few minutes for a blog post - that would be something to tackle in a novel. Most people can't imagine it at all because what we have is all they know and understand. Go ahead and give it a try. Imagine baseball without advertising. Imagine players playing for love of the game rather than exorbitant salaries. Imagine not having your childhood memories ripped apart when some greedy owner decides that he needs a new stadium. Imagine not buying a different player's jersey every year after the one you wore last year left in free agency. Imagine all the people living life in peace. Woo oo oooo. You may say that I'm a dreamer...but I'm not the only one...

By the way, in case you didn't know, hiber is Latin for winter. The Romans used to call Ireland "Hibernia" because they thought it was so cold. They didn't even try to invade, according to most accounts. I think it is safe to say that we can call ourselves the United States of Hibernia after this winter. March can't come soon enough.