Monday, November 20, 2006

White Elephants in the Outfield

So the Chicago Cubs have signed Alfonso Soriano to the largest contract in Cubs history and the fifth highest in MLB history. Jay Marriotti seems to think (as do many others) that this is a sign of the Cubs making real moves to re-establish themselves as the Chicago baseball team. Marriotti can't help but take a dig at the only baseball team in Chicago to win a world series in the last hundred years, saying that this shows up Kenny Williams and the White Sox. The Cubs are back and can make a run at the NL Central, right?

Bupkiss. Alfonso Soriano is coming off a fantastic season with the Nationals and is a good player. He is not worth 136 million dollars and he certainly will not be worth even close to that at the middle of, let alone the end of this multi-year deal. This deal will cement the Cubs as losers. Why? Because their two big signings this winter are the anti-David Ortiz/Derek Jeters.

Trust me. I watched Soriano in NY and he choked big time in the offseason. Keith Olberman said it best on Dan Patrick's radio show yesterday: Soriano feasts on bad pitching, but when facing good pitching: 0-4. I had A-Ram on my fanstasy team the last two years. Both times I picked him with a high pick. Both times I watched him do really well when it didn't matter (like the beginning of our fantasy season when everyone pulled away from me) and tank whenever the Cubs were in contention. And now besides having the worst rotation in all of baseball (who's pitching behind Zambrano: will they put together 15 injured pitchers in the hope they can get a game a month out of each?) and the worst pitching coach in baseball history, the Cubs just got significantly worse in the field. A-Ram is the worst fielding third baseman I've ever seen. He has pop-ups bounce off his head. The Cubs outfield is now going to be Jacque Jones, Matt Murton, and Soriano? Wow. Let me tell you from observing the White Sox in 2005 and in 2006. Centerfielders matter (where have you gone Aaron Rowand!!!) If you're going to have a terrible pitching staff, having a terrible fielding team is adding nitroglycerine to an already raging car fire.

Bad news. Throw temper tantrum Lou Pinella in and at least it'll be interesting on the North Side next year.

Go Sox


Friday, November 17, 2006

The Best Pizza.. in Chicago(land)

I've decided that I've got to live with the fact that pizza is not an ontological category. It can be adapted to different cultures, can have different ingredients, styles and forms and still be fundamentally pizza (I will still never eat a Hawaiian pizza, though). Chicago has a pizza tradition that I guess is a old and storied as New York's and I live here, so I've got to get used to it. I've also decided that I've had the best pizza in Chicago(land), even though I haven't eaten everywhere.

The gold standard for pizza in my mind is either Gino's in Rockville Centre or Vincent's in Lynbrook, but that may just be for nostaglia reasons. Regardless of the effects of the glow of memory, I often grave the 16in flopply gooey goodness of a good New York pizza. This craving can not be cured by Giordano's, Home Run Inn, Bacci's, Gino's East, Edwardo's, Aurelios, Rosati's, Pizzza Capri or other pizza joints here in Chi-city and the 'burbs. And while my favorite pizza in Chicago(land) is not a thin crust masterpiece like Vincent cooks up, its darn good. It's similar to Edwardo's in that it's not the giant tilt your jaw open pie of Giordano's, but not the square cut thin crust of Aurelio's or Home Run Inn. Luisa's on 139 and Cicero (yes Mike Doyle that's actually in Chicagoland) in Crestwood.

The crust: fantastic: crunchy, buttery, like a good pan pizza from Pizza Hut, only 50 time tastier and more consistent

The sauce: deliciously different: sort of sweet, but not cloying (Yes, my food reviewing skills could use some work).

The cheese: it's pizza cheese, come on, you know it's good.

It's a trek to Luisa's from Woodlawn, and so we don't go that often. Our car happened to be getting fixed at the wonderful J & J Auto Rebuilders on 137th in Crestwood (I hope you never need for their services, but if you do, they are incredible kind and excellent at their jobs). Two blocks away: Luisa's, were a grouchy old Italian lady (Luisa) will move you along with your take out order if you're watching the TV too long. We've done takeout, eaten at the place (great and attentive wait staff: although they do cocktail glasses for their sodas, not a fan), and generally love it.

The best pizza in Chicago(land). Luisa's. Here's metromix's and's take on it.


Sunday, November 12, 2006

Call Me A Lou Dobbs Democrat, Then

I'm not the only one who recognizes the economic import of this election. Both the blogosphere and the New York Times (!) recognize the pro-labor, anti new economy nature of the new Democractic majority. It's also interesting how the Times talks about many of these candidates bucking the conventional Democratic wisdom that what undid their majority in Congress and Clinton's presidency was the botched attempt at health care reform. I think these new democratic congresspeople and Senators are right. What destroyed the Clinton presidency and the democratic majorities in Congress was NAFTA. Theda Skopol talks about how a focus on NAFTA ruined Clinton's momentum on health care reform, but more fundamentally, the focus on passing NAFTA opened up the Democrats to attacks from social conservatives. Remember that in 1992, Ross Perot won 15% of the votes because of his opposition to free trade and current economic policy. Then comes the first major policy initiative of the Clinton presidency, a free trade agreement opposed by unions, blue collar workers, and rural americans (the same ones who switched to Democrats this fall).

I imagine most people being shived by the "new economy" looked at this situation and saw a major betrayal of the New Deal and the American dream. So why not vote your social and religious values, instead of still voting for the party that claimed to represent your economic interests, but acted differently. In other words, 1994 was like 2006 in one respect: the Democrats core constituency actedmuch like James Dobson and other Christian conservatives have talked about acting recently: if they take our votes for granted and don't move forward on our issues, what's the point of voting for them?


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Glass is Half Full

I'm cautiously optomistic about the results of the elections. Granted, Bobby Rush (despite one of my first votes for a Republican in my life), Todd Stroger, and James Houlihan did not lose and I'm not so sure I'm stoked about a Nancy Pelosi-Harry Reid led Democratic Party, but things are still good. Donald Rumsfeld: gone. Ricky Santorum: Gone. Conrad Burns: Gone. Richard Pombo: gone. I would have liked to have seen Tammy Duckworth win and am disappointed that Harold Ford didn't, but I like the Democrats coming into Congress.

Yes, a liberal Democratic is happy about the moderate, socially conservative Democratics elected. I'm sure the media will spin spin and spin some more about the conservatism of the Democrats elected, but if you really look at people like John Tester and Sherrod Brown, it's a more complicated story. As Joe Conanson notes in, these men and women are economic populists whose wins validated the What's the Matter with Kansas" thesis of Republican dominance (for an unsympathetic reading of this trend, see this article in These winning Democrats spoke to people's legitimate fears and anxieties about the "New Economy." What upper middle class intelligentsia types (myself included) don't realize is that the New Economy that so benefits them is killing the broad middle class that used to exist in America. We're rapidly created a Third Worldish, two-tiered economy in which the hyper rich, globalist, hyper-educated urban elite are served by an increasingly larger low wage economy. Conservatives have been able to tap into this anger by framing it as a "heartland" vs. "costal" values issue. What the Browns, Testers, and McCaskills have done is broke open that frame: it's not just about effete snobbish values. It's about the public policies that are facilitating this erosion of the middle class.

I'm excited about the possibilities. All of a sudden we've got people in the Senate, in Congress, who can talk honestly about the economic hollowing out of middle america without being vulnerable to attacks on gay marriage, abortion or whatever "issue de jour" the cynical manipulators of the right come up with. I'm hoping that Democrats take this opportunity to reveal the true nature of the right and its program for America.

Of course, do I think Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, New Democrat Rahm Emanuel and Chuckie Schumer can do it?

Oh boy