19 January 2010

About Town

Crowded sports week locally. We all saw the Cardinals get swamped by a powerful New Orleans Brees faster than you can say "Hurricane Katrina" or "Lower Ninth Ward" - or Hines Ward for that matter. It was that quick, and a bigger train wreck than Phoenix Light Rail, which has sustained only 52 crashes to date.

Here's a picture of Dback fans (above) descending on downtown to protest Friday's incomprehensible release of Eric Byrnes. Just kidding. There arent that many Dback fans since Colangelo left. Actually, it's the first mile of Sunday's PF Chang's Marathon, which wends its way through Phoenix each January, much like today's MLK parade - only five hundred times bigger, longer and whiter.

Allan Hubris Selig also oozed into town, up the north side of Camelback Mountain to be precise, hosting his annual owners' meeting at the exclusive Sanctuary resort. It's there leading industrialists will discuss how to make their game more relevant to recession ravaged fans, and possibly have a massage. The steeply priced, 53 acre mountainside spa is owned by fruit wholesaler and Cincinnati Reds' top banana Bob Castellini , which Commissioner Selig has deemed to be in the best interests of baseball this weekend.

The Dbacks inked Adam Laroche, tossing a transformative monkey wrench into Ken Kendrick's Five Year Ho Hum Hitting Initiative, but the sizzling story about town appears to be the inexorable departure of Eric Byrnes. The Republic is running at least four articles on it, the most revealing of which confirms that his controversial $30M extension was, at the time, more or less a consensus front office decision.

This is a crushing blow for dbbp's self styled cognescenti, who've spent thirty months stridently misinforming fans that our boy genius GM was double crossed by the devious Jeff Moorad of their comic book imaginations. Like virtually all FO quotes, the appearance of unity exceeds the reality somewhat, but assuming Moorad "went rogue" or didnt enjoy significant front office backing betrays an ignorance of how big organizational decisions necessarily transpire.

Josh Byrnes "went along" in 2007 because he projected Eric and several teammates (most notably CY and Drew) to be more productive than they proved to be, and he knew he could flip the blocked talents (Quentin, Carlos Gonzalez) for a prime time starter - which is what he wanted and essentially what he did with Haren. Ownership had the money to splurge on Eric Byrnes, Josh overestimated other pieces, and they all got burned by the injury and immediate, precipitous fall even EB's harshest critics couldn't envision. Josh Byrnes "went along", and it's refreshing to hear he and Kendrick eventually acknowledge their part in the decision.

Herb Sendek's 14-5 Sun Devils hopped atop a closely bunched Pac-10 with a pair of convincing road wins in Oregon. Derek Glasser looks like he's partied too much recently and has visibly lost a step, but Sendek's kids still play a pesky matchup zone, and Ty Abbott has emerged as a primary scorer, to help out the crafty Kuksiks.

The overacheiving Coyotes and Suns are both enduring worrisome slumps. Not as fundamentally worrisome as December's chilling conversion of Meredith Baxter from a fresh faced, fluffy-haired MILF with an adorable overbite to a wrinkled lesbian donning oversized bowling shirts. But worrisome still.

I spent this MLK day hiking the circumference trail around Squaw Peak, or Piestewa if you prefer, dancing in and out of a light desert rain. Years ago, I hiked downtown, when Meachem was governor, on this day. I marched right behind Art Hamilton's big black ass, because it seemed like the right thing to do. Now I march up and around a different mountain.

Final thought on King. In 1964, before passage of the Civil Rights Act and not a year after President Kennedy was killed, he spoke before 450 Kiwanis Club members in an oppressive southern backwater. He was thirty five and said this to his overwhelmingly white, and uncomfortable, audience:

We will match your capacity to inflict suffering on us with the capacity to endure suffering. You may throw us in jail, bomb our homes, threaten our little children, and, difficult as it is, we will still love you.

Can you imagine? Can you further imagine he said this in Phoenix, at a long gone restaurant which is now a Quick Trip I fill up at most every week. I never knew. Maybe one doesnt need to book a flight to Washington DC and stand at the Lincoln Memorial to feel inspired. The inspiration, and mountains to climb, are both right here.


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A couple snapshots I took from Sunday's marathon, just north of 24th St and Camelback.


The Ethiopian Lead Pack




...and an hour later, here come the Americans!

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