If you listen closely, you can hear the Arizona Diamondbacks falling to Earth. The summer monsoon flow causes prevailing southeasterly winds; otherwise, we'd be able to smell how badly they're stinking up Phoenix right now. Fortunately for them, they're in a division with San Diego, which has a payroll of about $1.75; Los Angeles, which has a payroll of $100 million, but with players who play like $1.75; Colorado, which moved into first place and then lost 10 in a row; and San Francisco, which is hanging around at the moment but is focusing all of its energy and karma on keeping the Oakland A's from moving to San Jose (which, as you may not know, has passed San Francisco in population).
Diamondbacks owner Jerry Colangelo, whose aggressive ownership style helped make the Phoenix Suns one of only 15 teams never to have won an NBA championship, is not a happy guy. He sits in his owner's box with a look on his face like the kind one gets a few hours after eating some bad cappicola. He recently had to sit and watch as his underachievers blew late-inning leads in five out of seven games.
They're still probably the team to beat in the NL West, but only because all the other teams stink out loud. But there's a general rule in all sports: If you let lousy teams hang around until the finish, bad things happen. The D-Backs better fix themselves now or Jerry's just gonna be no fun at all to be around.
MEANWHILE, THE HOMETOWN Tucson Sidewinders roll along toward the magical 300,000 mark in attendance despite being barely a .500 team on the field. The brain trust of the 'Winders has put together a good product and the people are buying.
We're not really sure what attendance figure they'll need to reach black ink. Here at The Weekly, we've never been concerned with that yucky profit stuff (until now). But 300K has always been a benchmark, and unless the weather turns really crappy, they should make that with relative ease. Good for them.
And with all the injury problems the parent club Diamondbacks have been having, you're quite likely to see a major-leaguer or two in the lineup at Tucson Electric Park. Heck, Erubiel Durazo has been down here so many times, they put in a revolving door just for him.
YET ANOTHER STUDY has linked cell-phone use to an increased risk of brain tumors. People, this is not a problem; this is a solution.
A COUPLE YEARS back, I wrote a column in which I was mildly critical of the home-schooling movement. Okay, I called it a subtle form of child abuse, but in a nice, light-hearted way.
Well, somebody linked it to an article in some Internet "magazine" called Salon, and the e-mails have been pouring in from bunkers and communes all over the country ever since. Acerbic writer P.J. O'Rourke was right when he said that the only thing the Internet is good for is allowing dumb ideas to go around the world at the speed of light.
Most of the e-mail said that I was afraid that home-schooled kids would out-perform my own kids, whom I misguidedly send to public schools. Well, as a point of information, my daughter was recently her school's valedictorian, got straight A's, and was offered full academic scholarships to Princeton and Cornell. And she did all that without the luxury of Mom or Dad being able to grade her papers.
HAVING APPEARED ON Emil Franzi's radio talk show for the past few Fridays, I've learned three things:
1. There are guys out there who love their guns more than they love their wives, kids, cars, or TV remote controls. This terrifies me.
2. There are people in Green Valley who still refer to the morning paper the Red Star. Folks, Communism is dead, just as you shall be soon enough. Quit wasting your precious time worrying about stupid stuff. Oh sure, China is officially Communist, but all those billion people care about is getting some Levis, maybe a laptop, and not having to ride bikes everywhere.
3. A lot of people really do care about politics. Now, if only we could get the politicians to care about the people.
THE NEW, IMPROVED U.S. men's soccer team was tied recently by Guatemala! More Guatemalans live in Los Angeles than in Guatemala. Their national stadium is rented out for weddings and family reunions. Their national slogan is "We're bigger than Costa Rica!"
The USA men suck in soccer, but fortunately, no one cares.
KUDOS TO THE Tucson Citizen for their chilling front-page photo of a softball mom offering her 10-year-old daughter a $100 bill if the kid could get a hit in a playoff game. Creeped the heck out of me. Where have we gone wrong?
FINALLY, PROPS TO the latest hockey team to try to make a go of it in a desert community enamored with basketball. The Tucson Scorch has a banner strung across Congress Street announcing how many days left until the start of their season. It helps keep drivers from having to look at the hideous statue of Pancho Villa.
When we accepted that monstrosity, we should have insisted that Guadalajara take one of Winfield Scott. That way, everybody could have gone away disappointed.