Thursday, February 15, 2007

Who's surprised

Just a few words about the latest and greatest from the Middle East.

Abu Mazen, the Fatah head of the Palestinian Authority and successor to Yasser Arafat, has told his Hamas counterpart to form a government.

That government will be formed based on the framework brought back from the Mecca, Saudi Arabia, meeting last week.

There are three elements that must be there for Israel, the U.S. and the European Union to bless any new government and, more importantly, resume the flow of money to the Arabs who, due to their behavior, have been cut off.

Guess how many of the three elements: the recognition of Israel's right to exist, the renouncing of violence as a political tool and the acceptance of the agreements entered into before the election that (surprise to nobody except President Bush) put Hamas in charge of the Palestinians.

C'mon, guess. How many are there. That's right: none. Zero. Zilch. Nada.

Surprised? If you are truly surprised, please don't feel bad. Someone has to play Fredo (I'm smart) Corleone. There has to be someone to bring down the curve.

So, they will go through the process, although its passage has as much chance as a fix-up in the Old City without the Arabs screaming. And the Arabs telling the truth about why they are screaming....if they know.

Just like the "new" tunnel alongside the Western Wall that was built by the Byzantines about 1,000 years ago and the only change was a new entrance that came out in the middle of the Arab market so tourists could buy souvenirs. This ramp fixes one that has been there for generations.

But the Arabs have to have something to cry about. After all, when you can't even govern Gaza, a territory you were handed on a silver platter, you have to divert attention away from your own shortcomings.

Let's look into the future for a moment.

Some 35 or so members of Israel's parliament, the Knesset, have called for the reopening of Joseph's Tomb, which was smashed to pieces days after the Israelis handed over Nablus (it's real name is Schechem).

Yes, it's that Joseph, who is supposed to be revered by Moslems and Christians as well as Jews. It was taken over in a bloody riot. Now, Jews want to visit it again.

Anyone want to bet that the Arabs will give their consent peacefully??

Compete for your job, Bernie

There's a not-so-new but nasty strategy going around the corporate world.

A new company comes in to the work place where you have labored for decades. May it's just a new division head. It really doesn't matter.

The memo soon goes out. You have to compete for your job.

Perhaps you have excelled for as long as anyone can remember. It was you who made sure everything was working during the storm of the century. It was you who saved the company tens if not hundreds of thousands or dollars by doing the jobs of three or four people.

It doesn't matter. You have to compete, perhaps, with a kid who has his rap down, makes promises that Hercules couldn't keep and says just the right thing at the right time. You are too busy doing your job to do more than dash off a memo saying, in essence, there would be no company or division or group to take over had it not been for you.

No matter. The next thing you know, the kid has your job and you're lucky to have any position in the new grouping where the bar has been raised so much higher. Or so they tell you.

At least, your situation isn't grist for every sports writer or blogger or fan.

Bernie Williams doesn't have it so easy. His humiliation has to be done in public. Oh, Bernie is too much of a gentleman to say he's humiliated.

And there's no excuse for Joe Torre. There wasn't a new boss. Just him.

In case you've been paying attention to Iraq or Iran or something silly like that. free agent Bernie wasn't invited to training camp with a real job. He was offered a minor-league contract. He refused and stayed home.

Now, a minor league contract may be fine for Mark Bellhorn, I'm told, because he's skipped around the country like a guy with too many frequent flyer miles. But Bernie has had only one team. From 1991 through 2006, he played for The Best Team Money Can Buy.

And now, Bernie is sitting home, but not by the telephone.

If Bernie had to suffer in public, the public also, it seems, put pressure on Joe Torre.

According to the Associated Press, Joe has been calling Bernie. This week, Bernie called back. Joe told him to come down, don't worry about how much space there is on the 25-man roster.

Just come down, Joe said.

And compete for your job.

Look, anything that makes the Yankees weaker is fine by me. But right is right. You don't wait until the last minute for a guy who has been helping you out since the time of the First Gulf War. And you don't make him compete for his job. Leave him his pride.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Pitchers, catchers and baseball, too

"You can't rehearse sincerity. You have to make it up on the spot."
Denny Crane

It seems the New York Yankees aren't even trying to make it up on the spot.

Bernie Williams, that hero of yesteryear, or was it two years ago, is a victim of "what have you done for me lately".

And Mariano Rivera, the killer closing pitcher who fools everyone (except the Boston Red Sox) with his cut fastball, seems to be afraid that he also be a victim of "what have you done for me lately."

In case you missed it, he was quoted as saying that although he wanted to finish his stellar career in New York, he might not be able to. I guess he wants some indication from Yankee big shot Brian Cashman that he won't face the same fate as Bernie.

I guess Mike Olkin was right when he replied to my whining about Mark Bellhorn being signed to a minor-league contract, saying don't feel too sorry for Bell. I guess compared to Bernie and some other older players around the game, Bell did OK.

Along with Rivera, catcher Jorge Posada will be a free agent at the end of this season and one must wonder if he, too, will be given the boot, as Williams was.

Look, the Yankees are the best team money can buy. But there has to be a little heart, too. I hope Rivera and Posada, if faced with the same choices as Bernie Williams, will take the high road and retire.

Rivera is a sure bet for the Hall of Fame and Posada might make it, too. Neither, I hope, needs the money. Go out with your heads held high.

Monday, February 5, 2007

A true world series is going on

Well, the Super Bowl, which was anything but super, is over and that who-needs-it all-star game is next week. The season for football, which died two weeks ago, is finally having the good sense to lie down.

So, summer baseball season is about to kick off.

But the winter baseball season is ending. The Caribbean playoffs are going on in Puerto Rico. The top teams from each nation get to play each other, which makes it a true world series...for those places where it's warm, that is.

The last time I looked, the Dominican Republic was kicking some serious butt. Puerto Rico was doing well until it ran into the Dominican Republic, which embarrassed the home-island squad 16-0. Ouch. And they did it without Big Popi.

They'll be playing for another two or three days. It's worth taking a look -- it's good baseball if your cable system carries it. Actually, it's good baseball whether your cable system carries it or not.

So, now, back to U.S. baseball.

The Red Sox are seeking a closer after deciding to move crusher Jon Papelbon to a starting rotation.

Don't ask me about what's going to happen. I was the guy who was running around saying the Sox should get rid of Julian Tavarez, the guy who slid into a producing starting slot in September.

It should be interesting.

A parting thought. New York has the 2008 All-Star Game. Wouldn't it be wonderful if the plurality of all-stars playing that game were from the Red Sox?