Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Barry Bonds to Hall of Fame: "Drop Dead!"

I'll say this much for Barry Bonds - he's consistent. He really seems steadfast in his determination not to give a damn about what anybody thinks of him. Now, this often can be an admirable trait, one that can serve a person well when it comes to achieving far-reaching goals and defeating the odds. Or, in the case of Bonds, it can just make you seem like a bigger A-hole.

Bonds' latest salvo comes as he comes ever closer to besting Hank Aaron's all-time home-run record. Usually in such cases, the Baseball Hall of Fame comes calling for pieces of memorabilia marking the auspicious occasion - for example, Cooperstown would probably want to display the bat Bonds used to hit homer #756, and the Giants uniform he wore in that historic game. Well, Bonds has in fact been putting aside all sorts of his personal items- bats, uniforms, even the home run balls themselves - that have been part of his infamous quest for sport's most enduring record. But as of now it's very unclear that the Hall will get any of it. Bonds recently alluded that having his items displayed for all of the world to see is not high on his agenda right. More specifically, as he told the Associated Press:

"I'm not worried bout the Hall. I take care of me."

And Barry Bonds wonders why he is one of the most despised individuals in baseball. Then again, he probably doesn't give a damn. So why should we give a damn about him or his would-be record.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

The cake says it all ...

Jimi Hendrix wrote this song in honor of his mommy. This is Sting's version of Little Wing in honor of his mommy. I dedicate it to my mommy, and to Nicole's mommy, and all of the other mommies celebrating today. I love you, Mom.

Monday, May 07, 2007

At least Calvin Borel won't break his leg on the racetrack ...

For much of the week that is known as the Derby Festival in Louisville, Kentucky, the focus leading up to the 133rd running of the Kentucky Derby was not the horses who would be tromping down the homestretch at Churchill Downs, but rather the famous and infamous who would be attending the Run for the Roses. (The guest list lent itself to the beginning of a bad joke: "The Queen of England, O.J. Simpson, Larry Birkhead and the Playmate of the Year walk into a bar ..." ) But once May 5 arrived, there was a horse race to run - and boy, did Elizabeth II and the other 155,000-plus in attendance see one hell of a race, as favorite Street Sense rumbled from 19th place (out of 20 horses) to win the Derby going away. And just like that, we were plunged into the speculation that has surrounded every Derby winner of the past quarter-century - can Street Sense take home the first Triple Crown championship since 1978?

Whether Street Sense can win the Preakness in two weeks remains to be seen. What is crystal clear is that horse racing has yet another great story. Only this time, the story is about the jockey, not the horse. Those who watched the Derby, whether in person or on TV, will forever remember the emotional and triumphant reaction of Street Sense's rider, Calvin Borel, as his horse crossed the finish line in front of the pack. Usually Derby-winning jockeys are happy but sedate as they do their immediate post-race interview while still on horseback. Not Borel. This 40-year-old functionally illiterate veteran from Louisiana had become a self-made millionaire through a 25-year career that includes more 4,300 victories, but he had never won the Derby despite four previous mounts in the biggest horse race in the world. Upon succeeding on the fifth try, Borel was elated beyond belief, weeping in joy and hugging everyone he could see from his horse. He even stopped on the way to the winners' circle to give Street Sense an impromptu sponge bath - a refreshment that the horse seemed to greatly appreciate. All along the way, Borel gave full credit to his four-legged companion - and to his parents, and the older brother who raised him and whom Calvin helps muck out their stables nearly every morning. On the heels of the tragedy that was Barbaro last year, it was the type of shining moment that this sport needs to remain in the spotlight.

Calvin Borel wasn't aware that the Queen was watching his proudest professional accomplishment, but he sure knows it now. Tonight he and his fiancée will be attending the white-tie state dinner for Elizabeth at the White House. That should be kind of cool for him as well.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Here comes the (dumbass) judge ...

Roy L. Pearson Jr. is a judge with the Office of Administrative Hearings in Washington D.C. He overseas legal proceedings involving several agencies, board and commissions in the District of Columbia. Before assuming the bench, Pearson was a longtime attorney who specialized in representing the poor and indigent. He is a member of several important associations in the D.C. area.

Pearson also is, to use the French tongue, an asshole.

I tried to find a photo of Roy Pearson to go along with this post, but I couldn't find any image of him anywhere online, even on his official D.C. government page. It's too bad, as I wanted to be easily identifiable to anyone who wanted to throw rotten fruit at his head. But I have a feeling that Judge Pearson is about to get more than his unfair attention. That's because the story about how the important judge is suing the Korean immigrants and their dry-cleaning business over the pair of suit pants he claims they lost. Not a big deal, you might say? Isn't that a case for small-claims court? It would be, except that Pearson is asking for a sum of money that is far beyond Judge Judy's wheel house.

Try $67 million.

Yeah, with an "m."

These Washington Post and ABC News stories explain the situation in detail, but in brief, Pearson gave the Chung family, with whom he had a checkered professional history, some of his suits to be altered in May 2005, around the time he was appointed to the bench. But one pair of pants went missing, the pants for what Pearson said was his favorite suit, the one he wanted to wear on his first day as a judge. And he was not happy. At first he just asked the Chungs for the price of the suit, about a thousand dollars. But when they said they had found the pants, Pearson apparently couldn't take yes for an answer. That's when he took matters to court.

The $67 million that he's seeking from this mom-and-pop operation is not an arbitrary number. No, he crunched the numbers and figured it out precisely. Part of the sum is the cost for him to rent a car and take his dry cleaning to another store every weekend - for the next 10 years. But that's only 15 grand. The rest comes from how he sees the consumer protection laws of the District, which includes a $1,500 fine per day for each violation. Multiply the violations by 12, the alleged violators by three (the Chungs and their adult son, a co-owner) and the days by 1,200, and you arrive at $64,800,000.

Pearson's case, most observers agree, hinges around the words "satisfaction guaranteed" and "same day service" - words that the Chungs used in advertising their business. Say, you think he wasn't satisfied about something? The Chungs have made settlement offers totaling in the low five figures, but, again, Pearson doesn't seem to be satisfied.

Oh, Pearson is representing himself in this matter. He's treating this like a class action suit and has 63 people on his witness list. But this is really just about him and his bruised ego, and quite possible about the likelihood that he has a small penis.

The story has pissed off so many people that a defense fund has been formed so those who want to donate money to the Chungs, who have defended themselves against Pearson for two years and may be on the verge of losing their livelihood, can do so. (The fund's Web site, www.customcleanersdefensefund.com, will be up and running shortly.) What's more, Pearson may be on the verge of losing his job as well, as a D.C. board is considering whether he should be reappointed to his judgeship in the wake of the horrible press this case is generating. But Pearson shows no sign of backing down as of yet, apparently oblivious as to how much of a petulant fool he looks like. (He's not talking to the press, which also shows him to be a man of bravery as well.)

It's cases like this that get those in favor of tort reform all riled up - and could screw things up down the road for the truly and justifiably aggrieved who have no course other than a lawsuit to get justice. But what's going on here isn't justice. It's sick and stupid and petty. Judge Pearson's time - indeed, all of our time - would be better served if he would put on his robes, lock himself in his office and repeatedly pound himself in the head with a brick. Might knock some common sense into himself in the process.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

UPDATE: Acting a fool at NASCAR events does have its consequences

Officials at Talladega have banned 14 debris-tossing culprits from the speedway for life for pelting Jeff Gordon's victorious automobile with beer and stuff. That is, they are you-know-what out of luck when it comes to seeing another NASCAR race in the venerable race track until their hearts stop beating and brains stop functioning, though there's every indication that the latter already has happened. The linked story explains the details, including the curious fact that the speedway has its own jail - just like the football stadium in Philadelphia. Who said that north and south are that different?