Amid the Playoffs, a Look Into Baseball’s Future

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Major League Baseball’s odyssey toward the World Series began with two wild card games — the Boston Red Sox defeating the New York Yankees, and the Los Angeles Dodgers beating the St. Louis Cardinals.

Luckily for MLB, the two games featured four of baseball’s historic and most revered teams. Television rating were high, but the games were a slog, especially for East Coast fans. The American League contest was a tedious 3:13 hours, and the National League’s game was played at a quicksand-like 4:15 hour pace. The Dodgers-Cardinals face off was a tight 3-1, but most East Coast viewers missed the exciting Chris Taylor bottom-of the ninth home run that sealed the Dodgers’ victory.

For dinosaur fans that yearn for fewer and speedier playoff games, the forecast is grim. In 2022, the fondest wish of MLB owners will come true when a new collective bargaining agreement will expand the wild card from its current one-game, sudden death format to the best-of-three. More than half of baseball’s 30 teams will be post-season eligible, and inevitably MLB will expand to 32, thereby further diluting the talent pool that fans pay a king’s ransom to watch. As a results, the playoffs will endlessly grind on with impossibly long, overlapping seasons.

Post-season’s qualifying standards have plunged since 1968, when the Detroit Tigers topped the American League and advanced straight to the World Series and won — no championship series required.

Ten times in history, teams have won 100 plus games and not even qualified for playoffs. Led by batting champion Norm Cash and his .361 average, the 1961 Tigers won 101 games, but finished eight games behind the Yankees. That’s the way it should be. Teams that feel deprived when they don’t get past the wild card have a simple solution: win more games during the season. Under the projected format, however, teams under .500 that qualify for the playoffs will be commonplace.

Unhappy fans might as well throw in the towel. Money overrides all other considerations. As money-hungry MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said: “Baseball is a growth industry. Eventually, we’d like to get to 32 teams.” Under the new set-up, MLB owners and players will cash in. The league currently grosses more than $10 billion annually. With two new clubs, the owners would likely add $2 billion or more in expansion fees, and new media rights’ revenues.

MLB negotiated new seven-year television contracts with Fox and Turner Broadcasting – TBS and TNT – which will fetch $8.3 billion, a 40 percent increase over prior contracts, mostly for the right to broadcast postseason games. Expansion, possibly to Portland, Las Vegas, Charlotte, Nashville, Montreal, Vancouver or Mexico, is assuredly in baseball’s future, assuming 75 percent of the owners vote favorably. More teams mean more playoff games, and will generate much more revenue.

Players are all-in on expansion, too. As part of the new collective bargaining agreement, players also win. More team revenues will mean higher minimum salaries, and player-friendly free-agency agreements. Today, baseball’s minimum salary is $572,000 — the average is $4.2 million — and the most eye-popping incomes are the Los Angeles Angels’ Mike Trout, a $427 million contract paid out over 12 years, and the New York Yankees’ Garrett Cole, $324 million spread out over nine years. Trout and Cole’s annual incomes are $37.7 million and $32.4 million, respectively.

In his giddy anticipation of never-ending revenues, Manfred is overlooking one important variable. Baseball’s television audience is dwindling. The under-18 market doesn’t care about baseball, a sport they consider too boring. Once baseball’s most passionate fans, youths have shifted their allegiance to soccer, basketball and football. Older fans, another of baseball’s traditional backbones, are dissatisfied with the constant changes, and have lost interest.

Younger and older fans agree that baseball’s most important games, the playoffs and the All-Star Game, start too late; they yearn for old-fashioned day games. Kids go to school, adults work. All-Star Game television ratings have been in free-fall for years, and bottomed out in 2021 when only 8.2 million tuned in.

Proof of fans’ indifference: compared to 2019, the last full 162-game season, the 29 regional sports networks that Nielsen Media Research measured reflected a 12 percent audience drop.

Baseball is on a collision course with overkill, and many consider its death overdue. No fan, young or old, is naïve enough to think that Manfred cares about baseball. His self-confessed mission is simple: let’s follow the money.

Copyright 2021 Joe Guzzardi, distributed by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Joe Guzzardi is a Society for American Baseball Research and Internet Baseball Writers’ Association member. Contact him at [email protected]

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Looking Ahead Following Dismal Jobs Report

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For the second consecutive month, Wall Street analysts and media business forecasters badly missed the Bureau of Labor Statistic’s job creation total.

Dow Jones projected 500,000 new jobs for September, compared to the 194,000 new jobs reported by the Biden administration. Television commentators were aghast at their second straight whiff – in August, the so-called experts predicted 720,000 new jobs, while the economy created just 235,000 jobs.

No surprise that COVID-19 took the brunt of the blame for the steep declines, particularly among workers in education and local/state employment, but also among bus drivers, food service workers and substitute teachers. Another variable that added to the dismal September results was the disappearance from the labor force of many older, low-wage workers still fearful about COVID-19 and its delta variant.

A historic 11 million jobs are open and available. As far as the economy and job creation are concerned, the U.S. is still in COVID-19’s grasp.

“We’re hiring” signs are everywhere, yet few workers have stepped up to fill the jobs. Although openings are at or near an all-time record, one hurdle to attracting employees is that many of the positions require in-person work for construction, hospitality, delivery services or warehousing, the exact types of jobs too many Americans shun in the current environment.

Thanks to the pandemic fear the government and scare-mongering media have instilled in the general public, potential workers continue to stay away from close-contact employment. Consequently, most job seekers are hopeful of finding mostly unavailable remote work. A recent review of the ZipRecruiter website found that only one in 10 postings offered remote employment.

When workers are in short supply, the clarion call for more immigration inevitably follows. Bill Kristol, for example, once a conservative, now a Democrat, and always an immigration advocate, put out a tweet which proclaimed that immigration could solve the economy’s employment doldrums. Kristol wrote: “We can debate infrastructure, tax policy, government spending, etc. But it’s not a close call as to the one thing that would do the most for our economy across the board: More immigration. Both ‘skilled’ and ‘unskilled.’ Which the Administration and Congress have done nothing on.”

Well – not exactly nothing. Kristol must not be paying attention to the immigration news. Encouraging illegal immigration, bringing Afghan evacuees to the U.S. and raising the refugee cap are definitely something. Soon the U.S. will have a worker surplus. The 15,000 Haitians who surged the border, the 50,000 or more Afghanistan evacuees and the 125,000 refugees that Biden has committed to for fiscal 2021-22, and the 2 million released-at-the-border illegal aliens will inevitably receive employment authorization.

Also on their way to compete for jobs in the U.S. labor pool are the annual 1 million-plus legal immigrants who, as part of their permanent residency, receive lifetime valid work permits. Finally, add about 700,000 guest workers that traditionally enter the U.S. to perform jobs which range from medical doctors to agriculture-based employees.

The approximately 1 million legal and 2 million illegal immigrants, the evacuees, the refugees and the guest workers will go a long way to making Kristol and the immigration lobby’s dreams come true. And if Congress passes the reconciliation bill that it’s kicking around, about 8 million more aliens will be granted amnesty, receive legal status and work permits. COVID-19 restrictions could impact the foreign-born arrivals, but illegal immigrant amnesty candidates already represent several million work permits.

High immigration and the lower wages immigrants earn harm those that can least withstand economic setbacks – American blacks and Hispanics, other minorities, the disabled, recently arrived low-skilled legal immigrants and others without a college degree. More immigration, regardless of how much it may hurt Americans who fund it, is the blueprint that the Biden administration has, to the disappointment of most, chosen to follow, and is committed to.

Copyright 2021 Joe Guzzardi, distributed by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Joe Guzzardi is a Progressives for Immigration Reform analyst who has written about immigration for more than 30 years. Contact him at [email protected]

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Obama’s Immigration Warning to Biden

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In a recent ABC “Good Morning America” interview with co-anchor Robin Roberts, former President Barack Obama sent a clear, but somewhat couched, warning signal to President Joe Biden.

Obama told Roberts that open borders are unsustainable, an observation that ABC subsequently edited out of the televised portion of the interview. Although Obama didn’t specifically mention that by ignoring open borders, Biden was risking the 2022 House and Senate races (and a filibuster-proof Democratic majority), that was his sub rosa message.

During his eight years in the White House, Obama learned much about Americans’ immigration opinions. In 2013, the Democratic-controlled Senate overwhelmingly passed an unpopular immigration bill commonly referred to as the Gang of Eight bill (the eight being the four Republicans and four Democrats who wrote the first draft).

By having an equal number of Republicans and Democrats as cosponsors, the Senate could promote the legislation as bipartisan. In fact, the onboard Gang of Eight Republicans had career-long pro-immigration voting records.

Looked at closely, the bill offered many benefits for the 11 million-plus illegal immigrants – immediate amnesty for the unlawfully present aliens, lifetime valid work permits, Social Security, health care and other affirmative benefits.

The Congressional Budget Office predicted that, if it became law, the bill would create a net population growth of 10.4 million within a decade. The projected net population growth would also mean an increase of about 1.6 million temporary workers and their dependents. For citizens, however, the bill vaguely promised more border enforcement at some point down the road. The bottom line on the bill: amnesty right now; enforcement, maybe later.

Although Obama used his bully pulpit, and the media hailed the legislation, the majority of U.S. Representatives knew how unpopular the immigration bill was among their constituents, and also were aware that their re-election bid was not far away.

Tellingly, from the Gang of Eight, only South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsay Graham faced voters in the then-upcoming November 2014 election. But his state was a Republican stronghold that hadn’t elected a Senate Democrat since 1954, when Strom Thurman – before he switched parties – won as a write-in candidate.

Analysts concluded that the senators knew that immigration bill was unpopular, but hoped that by the time their turn at the polling place arrived, voters would forget. In the end, then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid never forwarded the bill to the House for consideration, and it therefore never became law.

The Gang of Eight bill led to a 2014 disaster at the polls for Democrats. Republicans won nine Democratic-controlled seats, held the 15 seats they were defending, and regained Senate control for the first time since 2007.

If pending immigration legislation angered voters in 2014, imagine what their sentiments will be in November 2022 after more than 2 million illegal immigrants, including thousands of Haitians, will have crossed into U.S. territory.

Biden’s Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Majorkas further rolled out the red carpet for illegal immigrants, and added to voters’ ire when he said that illegal presence is no longer sufficient cause for deportation. Mayorkas’ statement represents a blatant immigration law violation, which requires the attorney general to remove aliens.

Citizens who must fund illegal immigration may be growing weary. In 2017, U.S. taxpayers doled out approximately $116 billion at the federal, state and local levels to provide for services to illegal aliens, according to a study by the Federation for American Immigration Reform.

Biden’s gamble is that a year from now, the images of destitute Haitians gathered under the Del Rio bridge, and the unchecked Northern Triangle caravans entering the U.S. will be ancient history. But the current immigration crisis is more severe than the 2013 amnesty threat, and voters may be unwilling to forget how effortlessly Biden forfeited American sovereignty.

Copyright 2021 Joe Guzzardi, distributed by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Joe Guzzardi is a Progressives for Immigration Reform analyst who has written about immigration for more than 30 years. Contact him at [email protected]

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Biden to Deport Haitians: Too Little, Too Late

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Last week, the Biden administration announced it will begin eight daily flights to return Haitian illegal immigrants from their makeshift shelters under Texas’ International Bridge.

The first flights left Sunday. As many as 14,000 Haitians have arrived in Del Rio with the anticipation that, like thousands of other aliens who preceded them, they’ll be processed and admitted to the U.S. But, the rub: Haiti, recovering from a magnitude 7.2 earthquake that killed more than 2,000 people and damaged more than 100,000 homes, is unwilling to accept more than three flights a day.

Since Biden’s first day in office, he’s abdicated the chief executive’s responsibility to enforce immigration laws that Congress has passed, and previous presidents have signed. So forgive me if the administration’s official statement that returning the Haitians is “about border enforcement” rings hollow.

More probable is that the disconcerting images and videos of thousands of Haitians wading across the Rio Grande, then clustered in squalid, unsanitary conditions – with rumors of more on the way – caught the attention of The Washington Post and The New York Times. Their awareness led to what is, for those publications, a harsh appraisal of the administration’s border crisis mismanagement.

After observing the sea of humanity at the bridge, Rep. Tony Gonzales, a Republican whose district runs along the majority of the Texas border with Mexico, said he thought he was in a third world country with literally no border – “it’s just been muddied over.” The administration may have concluded that it couldn’t afford to lose the establishment media’s immigration policy support.

An Associated Press story on the migrant airlift to Haiti predicted that no more than two planes would depart daily, a conclusion that’s probably the most optimistic possible outcome. Whether two or eight flights back to Haiti, Texas would still be left with thousands of Haitian migrants, as well as foreign nationals from 90 countries arriving daily to seek asylum or humanitarian protection. Thousands of Haitians arrived stateside before the earthquake hit.

Nowhere has Biden’s law-shirking been more evident than his feckless open border tolerance that’s gravely harmed several border states, none more so than Texas. To his credit, Gov. Greg Abbott with the Texas Department of Public Safety’s assistance launched “Operation Lone Star” to push back against unchecked illegal immigration, fentanyl trafficking that with Chinese money launderers’ helping hand has earned criminals billions of dollars, and human smuggling that too often leads to children sold into the sex trade. Abbott’s strategy to protect Texans came after his agreement to work with Biden on the closure of six Texas ports of entry to restore immigration enforcement collapsed.

Operation Lone Star will deploy air, ground, marine and tactical border security assets to high threat areas to deny Mexican Cartels and other smugglers the ability to move drugs and people into Texas. In a statement, Abbott said that because of Biden’s neglect, the southern border crisis continues to escalate. Abbott added: “Texas supports legal immigration but will not be an accomplice to the open border policies that cause, rather than prevent, a humanitarian crisis in our state and endanger the lives of Texans. We will surge the resources and law enforcement personnel needed to confront this crisis.” Last week, Abbott signed a $1.8 billion border security bill to increase immigration detention facilities, $750 million of which will be applied to a so-called border barrier that could include temporary chain fences and concrete barriers. This summer, Texas committed $250 million as a down payment for its version of the Trump border wall.

The Constitution, Article IV, Section 4, “guarantees to every state in this union” that “it shall protect each of them against Invasion.” With an anticipated 2 million illegal aliens who will surge the border this year, invasion is the proper word to describe conditions in the Rio Grande Valley, and other Texas entry points. The total illegal crossers include an estimated 40,000 COVID-19 positive aliens. Vaccinations are not mandated for these crossers, who are released into destinations across the nation. And in Texas, a record 10,800 unaccompanied minors entered. August was the second consecutive month that the Department of Homeland Security reported more than 200,000 illegal immigrant encounters.

Once released, aliens become the states’ responsibility – jobs training, housing, transportation, medical care, education – all the necessities that humans need to lead meaningful lives, but which taxpayers must underwrite. If the White House violates the Constitution, and refuses to protect Texas and the other 49 states against foreign incursion, then to safeguard its citizens, individual states must assume the responsibility to defend themselves.

Copyright 2021 Joe Guzzardi, distributed by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Joe Guzzardi is a Progressives for Immigration Reform analyst who has written about immigration for more than 30 years. Contact him at [email protected]

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The Terrible Towel’s Tender Back Story

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The 2021 National Football League season is underway, with the Pittsburgh Steelers starting the season 1-0 after dispatching the Buffalo Bills.

Even though the Steelers played on enemy turf in Buffalo’s Highmark Stadium, the Yinzers felt right at home. The Pittsburgh contingent among the 70,000 football-starved fans encouraged the Steelers by waving thousands of Terrible Towels. Wherever the Steelers play, loyal followers wave their black and gold towels with abandon. No matter the occasion, there’s a towel to match.

Around Pittsburgh or online, fans can buy towels for about $10 that celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas, Independence Day, Halloween and St. Patrick’s Day. Steelers’ fans have taken their towels to Iraq, Afghanistan, the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, Mount Everest’s peak, the International Space Station, the South Pole, the Great Wall of China and Vatican City. A pink towel, introduced in 2009, promotes breast cancer awareness.

At Heinz Field, a Terrible Towel Wall displays each of the special edition towels for the Steelers’ worldwide, stadium-visiting fans to admire. The towel is hung over televisions and radios during game time, and is often used as a fun drape for pets and babies. When Steelers’ receiver Hines Ward won the 2011 Dancing with the Stars’ Mirrorball Trophy, his former teammate and Hall of Fame running back Franco Harris urged him on by twirling his Terrible Towel.

But few non-Yinzers know the touching legacy behind the towel, which is much more than evidence of Steelers’ excellence, and the team’s passionate fan base.

Here’s the towel’s wonderful backstory: Myron Cope, a beloved Steelers’ broadcaster, the team’s voice for 35 years, and a National Radio Hall of Fame member, created the towel in 1975, and it debuted on December 27 in a winning playoff game against the Baltimore Colts.

From that moment on, fans and players considered the towel the team’s lucky charm, as the Steelers, in the following weeks, defeated the Oakland Raiders and the Dallas Cowboys, and then won Super Bowl IX, beating the Minnesota Vikings, 16-6. The Steelers’ successful play helped towel sales take off.

In 1996, Cope turned the towel’s trademark over to the Allegheny Valley School (AVS), which has several campuses and group homes throughout Pennsylvania, and operates more than 125 programs across Pennsylvania designed to help the developmentally disabled. Cope’s son, Danny, once attended. Danny, who has never spoken a word and is today 54, enrolled in 1992. Thanks to the loving care he received at AVS, Danny eventually moved on to a meaningful assembly line job at a major snack food company.

AVS receives each penny of profit from towel sales. Cope specifically outlined how the school must spend the proceeds. Each dollar goes to benefit residents and must not go into the general construction fund. The money is earmarked for, among other essentials, specialized wheelchairs and programs that will enable the most challenged to turn on lights or music by merely blinking their eyes. As the school’s then-chief executive officer, Regis Champ, said: “Our needs are daily.”

Steelers’ administration manages the marketing of towels and then cuts a check, usually in the low five figures, payable to the school. When the Steelers play in the Super Bowl, sales often exceed $1 million. Some eager fans have purchased 200 towels at a time. Since Cope donated the Terrible Towel’s trademark, sales have generated more than $3 million for AVS.

As Champ recalled the glorious day that the towel’s rights were transferred to AVS, Cope came into his office with a pile of documents, threw them down on his desk and said, “‘Regis, I’m giving you the Terrible Towel.’ I was speechless. I knew that this would be the legacy that outlived Myron.”

In 2008, Cope, age 79, passed away. His daughter Elizabeth draped Cope’s coffin with a quilt that a fan made out of Terrible Towels and sent to the Cope family.

Whether you are a Steelers fan or not, remember that Terrible Towels promote a most worthy cause, helping autistic people get on the road to living normal lives.

Copyright 2021 Joe Guzzardi, distributed by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Joe Guzzardi is a Society for American Baseball Research and Internet Baseball Writers’ Association member. Contact him at [email protected]

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White House Dismisses Sovereign America’s Future

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Prior to his death, Los Angeles’ Sunday night talk show host Terry Anderson used to open his broadcast with a heads up to his listeners: “If you ain’t mad, you ain’t paying attention.”

Most Americans are paying attention to the wide-open Southwest border, and the Afghan nationals’ influx. But, to use Anderson’s vernacular, Americans ain’t paying enough attention, and they ain’t angry enough.

The combination of an estimated 2 million illegal immigrants that will cross the Southwest border this year, a minimum of 50,000 Afghans, and the probability of an increase in the FY 2022 refugee admissions cap that President Biden promised to raise to 125,000 from President Trump’s 15,000 will dramatically alter the nation’s demographics, and might, over time, forever restructure America.

Some will reject as alarmist the claim that Biden’s refusal to enforce existing immigration law will lead to America’s demise. But, as Anderson prophetically warned, pay attention. The border crossers, the Afghans and the resettled refugees – whatever number they end up being – are here permanently.

The new arrivals will soon receive lawful standing either through parole, temporary protected status or asylum petitions. To pretend that the Biden administration isn’t 100 percent committed to legalizing the border crossers and evacuated Afghans – refugees admitted under the Refugee Act of 1980 guidelines are lawfully present – is to have been dozing since Inauguration Day, January 20, 2021.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki asserts that the arriving Afghans have been carefully vetted, that they’re U.S. allies who fought shoulder-to-shoulder with the U.S. against the Taliban, and that some hold Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs). Department of Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin also insists arrivals will undergo “careful screening and security vetting.”

But the State Department in its second quarter FY 2021 report that recounted SIV issuance procedures found that the processing time is 703 days which means that U.S. officials cannot possibly have properly vetted most of the 24,000 already arrived Afghans. Moreover, State and Homeland Security Departments data from January through March showed that Afghan SIV denial rates hit 84 percent; 137 SIVs were approved, while 728 were denied. Rejected were those whose service doesn’t meet the SIV bar, and they appealed. The State Department said that of the 713 appeals filed during the second quarter, 601 were denied again.

Here’s where the U.S. actually is vis-à-vis Afghan resettlement. DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas refuses to say how many Afghans will ultimately resettle in the U.S. Those that are often officially referred to as SIV holders are in fact SIV applicants with, based on the State Department’s second quarter 84 percent denial rate, little chance of approval. Most of the arrivals have no approved visa of any type, cannot be accurately classified as refugees, and are therefore ineligible for social services, including Medicaid and cash assistance that they’ll rely on during their initial resettlement, and beyond.

Mayorkas has granted many Afghan arrivals humanitarian parole, an immigrant status that, unlike civilian parole, has no supervisory officer. Paroled Afghans come and go freely from their temporary military housing. But parole doesn’t include Supplemental Security Income, food stamps, employment assistance and medical service. To correct what it views as unfair, the State Department began an Afghan Parolee Support Program. According to multiple resettlement officials involved in drafting the plan, parolees will be helped with taxpayer-funded housing, transportation, food, cash, clothing, legal counsel and other services.

Over the short-term, the millions of foreign nationals that have illegally crossed the Southwest border, the Afghan evacuees, and the soon-to-be resettled FY2022 refugees will receive lifetime valid employment authorization that will allow them to compete in the U.S. labor market to the detriment of American workers and recent college graduates. With between 5 and 6 million unemployed Americans, looser labor markets hurt job seekers.

Over the longer term, chain migration will allow the thousands of Afghans as well as the border surgers and the new refugees to petition extended family members. Princeton University immigration scholars found that the average immigrant sponsors 3.45 nuclear and nonnuclear family relatives, a multiplier that creates a population boom.

The Biden administration is either clueless about the adverse effect of its immigration enthusiasm on citizens’ futures or, more likely, is indifferent to sovereign America.

Copyright 2021 Joe Guzzardi, distributed by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Joe Guzzardi is a Progressives for Immigration Reform analyst who has written about immigration for more than 30 years. Contact him at [email protected]

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Remembering Hank Aaron and a Forgotten Labor Day

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For Major League Baseball teams and their fans, Labor Day is a benchmark to project which teams will make it to the playoffs.

Using Sabermetric analytics, teams are virtual division-winning locks if they lead by at least six games on Labor Day, but are improbable for postseason play if they trail by more than 3.5 games in the Wild Card standings.

As of this writing, according to the SABR formula, playing this fall will be the Houston Astros, the Milwaukee Brewers and the Chicago White Sox. A cluster of teams are on the cusp and battling for the remaining seven playoff slots: the Tampa Bay Rays, Atlanta Braves, the Boston Red Sox, the Oakland Athletics, the New York Yankees, the San Francisco Giants, the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Cincinnati Reds.

But pre-Sabermetrics, and before multiple playoff levels lasted until Halloween, Labor Day was considered summer’s last gasp. It was a great time to head out to the ballpark to enjoy afternoon baseball and, for lucky fans, a scheduled doubleheader, a relic from the National Pastime’s long-ago era.

On September 2, 1957, 40,000 fans poured into Wrigley Field’s friendly confines to watch the perennially second division Chicago Cubs (49-77) take on the eventual World Series champion Milwaukee Braves (79-49). For Hall of Fame Cubs’ slugger Ernie Banks, famous for saying, “Let’s play two,” the balmy, late summer afternoon’s double-dip was what he hoped for.

In the opener, Braves’ manager Fred Haney sent “Nitro” Lew Burdette to the slab. A month later, Burdette would become one of 12 pitchers to win three games in a single World Series as Braves unseated the New York Yankees as champions. Wrigley fans got their money’s worth and then some on that long-ago Labor Day.

While the twin bill had little importance on the pennant’s outcome, the National League home run crown was up for grabs between Banks and Hall of Famer Henry Aaron, baseball’s African-American superstars. Another long-distance threat, the Braves’ third baseman and Hall of Famer Eddie Mathews, was also in the lineup.

Game one’s outcome was settled early. After a half-inning, the Braves led 6-0; the slugfest was on. The Braves outlasted the overmatched Cubs 23-10. The big bats boomed: Banks, three for five with two homers, and 4 RBIs; Mathews, three for five with a homer and three RBIs, and Aaron, three for six with six RBIs, a daily total that kept him on his way to becoming baseball’s all-time RBI leader. A fourth Hall of Famer, switch-hitting Red Schoendienst, scored four runs for the day. The Chicago Tribune summed up the Labor Day blowout by declaring that “the game became a debacle in the opening inning.”

The nightcap was, comparatively, a yawner as the crafty Braves’ righty Bob Trowbridge struck out nine, and pitched a complete game shut out to best the Cubs, 4-0. Banks, Aaron and Mathews played in game two but, perhaps exhausted from their opening game heroics, were limited to a collective three for 10. In all, from the 16 position players penciled into the opening lineups, 12 Cubs and Braves started and finished both games.

The Wrigley fans were also treated to a glimpse of a young Braves’ outfielder who soared to instant success, then just as quickly vanished from the big-league spotlight. Called up from Triple-AAA Wichita in late July, rookie outfielder Bob Hazle set baseball on fire when, over a span of 134 at bats, Hazle hit .403. His amazing proficiency helped the Braves get into the World Series, and earned Hazle the nickname “Hurricane.” Author Howard Bryant wrote that Hazle’s feats were the “greatest five-week show in the history of baseball.” But injuries shortened Hazle’s career, and by 1958, he was out of baseball.

In 1982, the Cubs retired Banks’ #14, and on Opening Day 2008, unveiled a statue of Chicago’s most popular person. Two years before his 2015 death at age 83, Banks received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor a U.S. citizen can be awarded.

When his active career ended, Mathews was the only player to have represented the Braves in all three of their home cities: Boston, Milwaukee and Atlanta. Later, he managed the Braves and coached several MLB teams. His 1978 Hall of Fame induction, some claim, was delayed because of Mathews’ frosty relationship with the media that, in his view, intruded excessively in his personal life.

Finally, Aaron too received the Presidential Medal of Freedom as well as many other baseball and civil rights awards. Since Aaron hit his 744 home runs without taking performance-enhancing drugs, many baseball historians consider Aaron baseball’s legitimate home run king. On January 22, 2021, two weeks before his 87th birthday and while at his Atlanta home, Aaron died in his sleep.

Copyright 2021 Joe Guzzardi, distributed by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Joe Guzzardi is a Society for American Baseball Research and Internet Baseball Writers’ Association member. Contact him at [email protected]

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‘Woke’ Goal: Cancel Democracy

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Recently, the New York Times published an op-ed written by Atossa Araxia Abrahamian, “There Is No Good Reason You Should Have to Be a Citizen to Vote,” which it described as “part of a series exploring bold ideas to revitalize and renew the American experiment.”

Bold, revitalize and renew are the misleading words that the Times chose instead of the more accurate: radical, audacious and subversive.

The American experiment that the Times boasts proudly of championing is overthrowing America’s existing, time-honored voting system, which legally excludes voting rights for noncitizens.

Abrahamian, the Canadian born author of “The Cosmopolites: The Coming of the Global Citizen,” and who holds Swiss and Iranian citizenship, proposes that voting rights be given to foreign nationals residing in the U.S. on temporary work visas, and Green Card holders. Those immigrant categories would include non-English speakers and those who have briefly lived in the U.S.

Ironically, Abrahamian’s proposal would also extend to illegal aliens who have knowingly and willingly broken U.S. law, and presumably would also be granted to the estimated 2 million aliens who will surge the Southwest Border this year.

The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 expressly barred noncitizens from voting. But the 1996 act has been steadily chipped away at and criminally disregarded.

A San Francisco 2016 referendum joined a few other municipalities to give illegal immigrants voting privileges in local school board elections. The supporting argument was that about one-third of San Francisco school district pupils had foreign-born parents. Whether those parents were legally present was not part of the debate. Advocates also speciously argued that participating in the electoral process gives unlawfully present immigrants a greater sense of community involvement.

Illegal immigrants have, fraudulently and feloniously, registered to vote and cast ballots in federal elections. In its essay, “Aliens and Voter Fraud,” the Center for Immigration Studies wrote that when Old Dominion University and George Mason University researchers analyzed noncitizen participation rates from the Cooperative Congressional Election Studies’ 2008 and 2010 data, they estimated that roughly 620,000 noncitizens were registered to vote prior to the 2008 election.

The researchers then turned their attention to the 2008 North Carolina presidential results as well as to the Minnesota senate race. By comparing the noncitizen turnout to the vote margin needed to win the elections, Old Dominion and George Mason analysts concluded that noncitizen voting likely won the elections for the Democratic Party candidates in both instances. In the North Carolina election, authors wrote that “it is likely … that John McCain would have won North Carolina were it not for the votes for Obama cast by noncitizens.”

The Minnesota senate election was one of the most crucial congressional races in the 2008 election cycle, given that it ensured a 60-vote filibuster-proof Democratic majority. Notably, after a mandatory recount, and eight months after Election Day, 312 votes determined the Senate winner. Highlighting the paper-thin margin in which Democrat candidate Al Franken defeated Republican incumbent Norm Coleman, the authors wrote that “participation by more than 0.65 percent of noncitizens in MN is sufficient to account for the entirety of Franken’s margin. Our best guess is that nearly ten times as many [noncitizens] voted.”

A University of Alabama study, “Immigration Status, Immigrant Family Ties, and Support for the Democratic Party,” concluded that immigrants, their children and their grandchildren are all more likely than Americans without close immigrant relatives to support the Democratic Party. If the entire illegal alien and temporary resident population were granted voting rights, Abrahamian’s goal, years if not decades will pass before the GOP won enough federal elections to make a difference.

To all but the woke, a group that includes the Times, Abrahamian and far too many Washington, D.C., elites, sovereign American and inalienable voting rights that go with citizenship are treasured values to defend, fight and die for.

Copyright 2021 Joe Guzzardi, distributed by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Joe Guzzardi is a Progressives for Immigration Reform analyst who has written about immigration for more than 30 years. Contact him at [email protected]

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Can We Trust Biden To Vet Afghan Refugees?

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No sooner had the Taliban taken control of Kabul than the establishment demanded that thousands of Afghans be given immediate U.S. resettlement privileges.

Allegedly, and likely at least partially accurate, some Afghans are friendly to the U.S. government, and worked with American military. Now, so goes the standard patter, with our allies’ lives reportedly endangered, the Biden administration has a moral duty to invite them to America to find safe haven.

In a bitter irony, the most passionate cry to immediately resettle Afghans came from former President George W. Bush whose fallacious “weapons of mass destruction” claim first drew the U.S. military into a 20-year long Middle East quagmire. Bush, a devoted immigration expansionist, urged Biden to “cut the red tape” to expedite Afghans’ safe and secure exit out of the now Taliban-controlled country.

As the old English proverb goes, and as history has proven, “There’s many a slip ‘twixt the cup and the lip.” The first hurdle in a resettlement plan is President Biden’s demonstrated inability to effectively manage any immigration-related issue.

The southern U.S. Border, where last month a 21-year high of 210,000 aliens crossed, is the most shocking example. But other instances include Biden’s unconstitutional refusal to enforce existing immigration law, his proposed 96 percent budget reduction in border security assets and his gutting of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the agency that protects the interior. Given Biden’s dismal immigration track record, only the most naïve could assume that his State or Homeland Security Departments could successfully vet tens of thousands of Afghans.

To be clear, fair-minded Americans want to help allies who have supported us in the extended Afghan War. But Americans don’t want the Afghan Special Immigration Visa (SIV) program to devolve into a similar situation to that of the fraud-ridden Iraqi SIV program. In June, Reuters reported that 4,000 Iraqis are suspected of filing fraudulent resettlement applications. The State Department is re-examining 40,000 cases that involve more than 104,000 people, 95 percent of them still in Iraq, and has frozen those applications until further clarification. More than 500 already-admitted Iraqi refugees have been implicated in the fraud and could be deported or stripped of their U.S. citizenship.

Despite documented fraud in the Iraqi SIV program, Biden initiated a similar program for Afghanistan. The Department of Defense reportedly will, post-Kabul, place 30,000 Afghan refugees in Wisconsin’s Ft. McCoy and Texas’ Ft. Bliss. Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs John Kirby announced that, “We want to have the capacity to get up to several thousand immediately, and want to be prepared for the potential of tens of thousands.” Kirby’s inevitable undertaking will cost American taxpayers tens of billions of dollars.

The border crisis is expected to result this year in 2 million aliens, unvetted and some COVID-19 positive, allowed into the country. On August 17, the Department of Homeland Security unveiled a new “Case Management Pilot Program” to pay cities, counties and nongovernmental organizations to offer “cultural orientation,” medical screening, mental health services, legal orientation programs and other assistance for illegal immigrants who have been caught and released. U.S. taxpayers will fully fund the administration’s program, a version of which the Trump administration canceled because of cost inefficiency.

The 2 million-plus border surge, added to the as-yet-undetermined tens of thousands of Afghan refugees that will be resettled, will ensure that the nation’s transformation will continue unabated. Census Bureau data showed that immigration, births to immigrants, the opioid epidemic and lower-than-anticipated birthrates among millennials after the Great Recession have contributed to a more diverse America.

The border fiasco and the Afghanistan mess are the direct consequences of wholly misguided, power-crazed elitists and inept military leadership. But, as always, Americans pay the financial tab and must adapt to whatever cultural changes and fallout that accompany the irresponsible politics that Washington, to citizens’ detriment, insists on forcing upon them.

Copyright 2021 Joe Guzzardi, distributed by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Joe Guzzardi is a Society for American Baseball Research and Internet Baseball Writers’ Association member. Contact him at [email protected]

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Border Fiasco Ensures Tight Mid-Term Races

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In 2019, former Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said that the first thing he did when he arrived at his office was to check the previous day’s border apprehension totals. Under 1,000 was, Johnson said, “a relatively good day,” and over 1,000 was “a relatively bad number” because that “overwhelms the system.”

Imagine then how Johnson, a vital cog in President Obama’s easy-on-illegal-immigration administration, would evaluate the current border disaster, precipitated by President Biden’s refusal to enforce immigration law.

In July, Border Patrol detained 210,000 illegal aliens, 6,700 people each and every day. Broken down another way, the 210,000 represents 80,000 families, people in family units, and 20,000 unaccompanied minors, all record totals, but exclusive of the 37,000 that eluded capture.

Agents fear that, if anything, the totals are underrepresented because the incoming migrant flood is so great, they can’t account for all of them. In early July, for example, a group of 500 Haitians simultaneously swarmed the border. Instead of performing their professional duties, agents have been diverted to childcare tasks.

As terrible as the official numbers are, Andrew Arthur, a former House Judiciary counsel, retired immigration judge and currently a Center for Immigration Studies Law and Policy Senior Fellow, calculates that the true number of illegal aliens that have entered this year far exceeds the reported total. Arthur estimates that the actual year-to-date crossings total is 1.6 million, about equivalent to Philadelphia’s population.

After seven months in the White House, and despite horrible immigration polling, an issue that cost the Democrats the 2016 presidential election, the Biden administration just doesn’t care about voters’ opinions or how sustained open borders will alter sovereign nation America.

Like it or not, open borders are here to stay for the simplest reason. No one in the Biden administration, least of all the president and his Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, wants immigration laws enforced.

The law, 8 U.S. Code § 1225, is crystal clear on borders: aliens who do not have a legal right to be present in the U.S. “shall be detained pending a final determination of credible fear of persecution and, if found not to have such a fear, until removed.”

That is, as former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Andrew McCarthy wrote, “even those who credibly claim to fear persecution if returned from whence they came – the infinitesimally small percentage of legitimate refugees among the hordes now seeking entry – are supposed to be held in custody until that claim is fully adjudicated.”

Analysts claim that today’s aliens represent tomorrow’s Democrat voters, an assumption that may be overly optimistic. Statistics show that, because Democrats have failed their traditional minority coalition, they’re trending conservative. Biden and the woke, progressive Congress offer nothing to those minorities to generate enthusiasm. Open borders directly harm blacks, Hispanics and other minorities – more job competition, overcrowded schools and more expensive housing are a few among the many challenges that importing millions of poor people represent to America’s struggling classes.

If anyone in the Biden administration were asked directly what tangible benefits open border provide to the average blue-collar American, he couldn’t provide an intelligent answer.

The New York Times recognizes the risks ahead for Democrats. An op-ed headline read, “Democrats Are Anxious about 2022 – and 2024,” and explained Hispanic and black voters’ defection from the party. A Democratic pollster speculated that the reason for the shift in minority voting patterns is “because Democrats don’t keep their word,” a reference to the party promising that better things are around the corner, but never delivering. Although the pollster didn’t admit the obvious, illegal aliens are prioritized over citizen minorities.

President Trump’s strong 2020 showing in Southwest border communities should set off alarm bells for Democrats. Zapata County is 93 percent Hispanic, and hasn’t voted Republican in a presidential race since it went for Warren G. Harding a century ago. In 2020, however, President Trump won the county, and performed strongly throughout the traditionally Democratic Rio Grande Valley.

Biden’s border fiasco is a strategic mistake that will damage Democrats in the 2022 mid-terms and beyond.

Copyright 2021 Joe Guzzardi, distributed by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Joe Guzzardi is a Progressives for Immigration Reform analyst who has written about immigration for more than 30 years. Contact him at [email protected]

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