August is already half-gone and it’s hard to believe. Signs of the approaching Fall are beginning to appear. Footballs are flying over at the high school practice field while the marching band rehearses their formations in the parking lot. My tomatoes are once again infested with worms, despite a liberal application of Sevin dust. And the Royals have done just enough since the turn of the month that some people believe they still have a shot at a Wild Card spot, despite being 6.5 games back, a probability that comes in at a whopping 1.2% chance of success. It’s a crazy idea to be sure, but Alex Gordon and Eric Hosmer are hitting again, and lately the rotation has been consistently good. Even Dillon Gee got a win last night. So it makes perfect sense that a Praying Mantis gets the credit for the recent good fortune.
Actually the Royals are on their second mantis now, because the first one expired on a road trip to Minnesota under suspicious circumstances. Authorities have released few details. Rally Sr. had appeared in the Royals dugout several days earlier on a home-stand. The team promptly went on a run, posting a 5-1 record, and whether he wanted it or not, Rally the Praying Mantis had a new purpose in what is normally a very short life. The attention may have been too much. After the ill-fated trip to Minnesota, Rally Jr. showed up in the visitor’s dugout in Detroit, and when the Royals went on to sweep the punchless Tigers, a fair number of otherwise rational people began suggesting there was powerful juju at work.
Time will tell. But one thing is obvious. The boys are winning again, and they are having fun doing it. They’re loose and they smile a lot and they are playing good baseball. They seem to be reveling in the joy that comes from just playing the game, and to hell with all that other stuff. Whether or not it results in a trip back to the post-season remains to be seen, but it could be that the Royals have the rest of the American League right where they want them.
This week Donald Trump made another of his controversial off-script remarks and seemed to suggest that the “2nd Amendment people”, which is code for anyone who truly believes “The Government” is coming for their guns, could do something to prevent HRC from appointing liberal judges to the Supreme Court. Of course the Democrats feigned outrage, spinning it as a threat of violence against their nominee, and they tried to make as much hay from it as possible, which you would expect. After watching him say it, I don’t see it as a threat. It was one in a series of ever increasing flippant remarks by an aging frat boy who takes nothing seriously because he grew up rich and never had to. That’s who Trump is. He’s not a serious man. He’s Otter from Animal House, minus the charm. And that’s scarier than the substance of anything that has ever tripped lightly off his tongue. He’s applying for the most difficult job in the world. It demands a serious person to fill it. Anything less courts disaster.
Last Tuesday I went to my local polling place, in a school ironically, and voted against every conservative Republican on the ballot in the Kansas state primary. It felt good. It must have felt equally good to a lot of people, because state-wide it was a bloodbath for the far right, and a complete repudiation of the policies of our obtuse governor, Sam Brownback. You see Governor Brokeback, as we like to call him, is a “supply-sider”, meaning he’s a disciple of an economic theory that says if high income earners get to keep more of what they earn through tax cuts, then everyone in the economy will benefit because the increased income and wealth will trickle down to all sections in society.
Five years ago, Sam Brownback got himself elected governor of Kansas, and with the support of an ultra-conservative Legislature, he made Kansas his laboratory for the largest test of the supply-side theory ever undertaken, and we were the lab rats. Income taxes were slashed across the board. The tax rate on more than 300,000 small businesses was reduced, believe it or not, to zero. When the smoke cleared in the marble halls of the state capitol, they slapped each other each other on the back, said a big ole thank-you to Jesus and then sat back to watch the stimulus they believed they had created grow the economy. But a funny thing happened out here on the other side of the rainbow. The new businesses we were promised didn’t come. And the money from the tax cuts didn’t trickle down to anyone. Revenue projections are off by hundreds of millions of dollars. Public schools and universities can’t pay their bills. The state is so broke it can no longer provide reliable services to 3 million people. The word fiasco doesn’t come close to describing this clusterfuck.
So last Tuesday the good people of Kansas, weary of being the butt of a national joke, said enough is enough, and we defeated 14 of Governor Brokeback’s staunchest allies in the Legislature. He may have three more years left on his second and last term, but he’ll no longer have the blank check in Topeka he’s been accustom to. It’s going to take years to undo the damage Sam Brownback has done to Kansas, but last Tuesday we, the people, made a good start.
My tomatoes are all splitting severely from the top this year. I’m used to seeing this late in the season but not with the early ones. I’ve read it’s from uneven watering but that really doesn’t tell me much. I’ve watered regularly and this year I even mulched. They taste fine but they’re not very appetizing to look at and there’s a lot of waste. Any advice would be appreciated.
The Kansas City Royals just completed the worst July in team history, and if you know anything about the history of this team you know that’s saying something. I’ve always thought July was a cruel month, one with little to offer except July 4th, but that comes so early on that it quickly fades into memory. After that the best thing you can say about July is that it’s not August. Between the heat, the humidity, brown lawns, buckled streets and broken water lines, mosquitoes, flies and the deafening noise of cicadas after dark, July in eastern Kansas is a lot like having your own little slice of Hell. Suffice it to say I’m not a fan of July.
And I think it’s safe to say neither are the Royals, who posted a 7-19 record for the month. The reasons for this smoldering trash fire of a performance are the subject of much discussion locally on the AM radio. A Disabled List that filled up faster than an Emergency Room on Saturday night is one of them, but there’s another that’s just starting to get some traction. You see the Royals, with trips to the World Series in each of the two previous seasons, have played more baseball games in the last two and a half years than any other team in the Major Leagues. The boys are tired, the theory goes, and they’ve simply run out of gas. It’s no more complicated than that. None of them will admit it, as you might expect, but you can see it in their body language. It’s an idea that makes sense to me, so for the rest of this year, as long as they don’t stop trying, I’m going to give the Royals pass. For two seasons they’ve given me more joy than I had a right to expect. This is my time to give back.