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Archive for July, 2010

Commentary is looking forward to the new look ‘Stros now that we got the whiner, err Roy O. out of the clubhouse.  Roy O. had become a distraction if you ask me. 

Here is what Roy O. told MLB.com yesterday on his way out of the door.

"It’s exciting for sure.  I think it works out for both of us. Houston’s getting good prospects and another pitcher, and I’m getting to go to a great team. I’m happy for both sides. From the very beginning, I said I wouldn’t accept it unless it worked out for both of us, and I think it worked out."

Come on!  You don’t give a rats’ arse if it worked out for us.  We’re getting us a big league pitcher who has played in 47 games, a 23-year-old Triple A first baseman who was a first round draft choice in 2008, and a 19-year-old kid that is in Single A ball.

"I think probably the toughest part was packing up my locker, for sure, knowing I started here and have to leave now.  Just like I said, it’s going to be good for the organization, and I think it will be good for me, too. The organization has been great to me, and I hope they get back in it and get back to the playoffs real soon."

Come on!  You don’t give a rats’ arse if we ever make it to the playoffs.  You’re durn right the organization has been good to you.  Can we have the tractor back?

"You’ve pretty much got an All-Star at every position.  They have a real good team as far as a union. I talked to Brad Lidge last night about the clubhouse, and he likes it a lot up there with guys like Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino and some other great guys. Overall, it came down to Houston getting something for me and I was getting to go to a contender."

Come on!  Yeah we got something for you, but we don’t know what it is worth.

"I wish the best for the organization.  The fans have been behind me for 10 years. There are no hard feelings on my side. Houston has done everything I’ve asked, and I’ve done everything they’ve asked of me. I’m hoping to have a chance to pitch in the playoffs and the World Series. I’m hoping to get back there and experience again what we did in ’05."

Come on!  You don’t really wish us the best.  The Phillies are two and a half out of first and one and a half back in the wild card race and I hope it stays that way.

J.A. Happ was selected by the Phillies in Round 3 of the 2004 MLB Amateur Draft.  Who was the ‘Stros’ top draft pick in 2004?

There goes the neighborhood!  It looks like Wal-Mart is fixing to set up shop down the street.  I never thought I would see a Wal-Mart down the street.  It doesn’t seem right.  A lot of the neighborhood leaders are upset but there is nothing they can do.  I’ll just have to learn to avoid that part of town.  It is going to be located a few blocks from The Dean’s office.  I wonder how he’s taking the news.

In 2004, the ‘Stros didn’t have a first round pick, but in the second round, we picked Hunter Pence of course and the rest is history.

We’re 14 games out of first.   We still have another day to make more trades.  We also have the Brewers in for three and I’m looking forward to checking out J.A. Happ this evening!

 

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Yesterday’s ruling on Arizona’s SB 1070 is good news and bad news.  The good news is Latino folks in Arizona won’t have to show papers for now at the drop of a hat.  The bad news for Dems is that those in the U.S. of A. that support the law are probably going to be more energized to go vote this fall.  The other bad news for Dems is that some Latinos might feel relieved, become complacent and not have a sense of urgency when it comes to voting.  Stay tuned!

Adios, Roy O.?   It looks like Roy O. is getting his wish.   He could be going to Philadelphia. 

Last night, a Cleveland Indian fan tried to be a bit too cute and showed up at Progressive Field (their yard) wearing a Lebron James Miami Heat jersey.  After being verbally harassed he needed a security escort to leave the stadium.  I’m thinking that if someone comes to The Yard this weekend wearing a Roy O. Phillies jersey, ‘Stros fans will just shrug or yawn.

If Roy O. does leave, who will be the last batter he faced while wearing the brick red?

Today was supposed to be an off day.  It looks like it will be a busy day over at The Yard.

Jay Bruce of course of the Reds grounded out to second to end the top of the fifth.  Roy O. was lifted for a pinch hitter in the bottom of the fifth.

We got the Brewers coming in for three this weekend.  Roy O. will probably not get to tie the team record for wins Friday night.  The ‘Stros will get to visit Roy O. in Philly next month (August 23 – 26).

 

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Commentary normally doesn’t print other folks’ complete pieces, but since I’m kind of out there and out in front in talking about the Latino vote or lack of vote in the Lone Star State, I thought I would lay out the best article this year on the Latino vote.  I lifted it off of the Texas Tribune and it is written by my old pal Matt Stiles of the Tribune and Zahira Torres of the El Paso Times.   What’s missing in the piece?  It would have been nice if they would have gotten both campaigns to address the amount and type of resources they were going to commit to engage the Latino vote.  In my opinion resources have always been the issue.  Here goes:

Latinos are the "sleeping giant" of Texas politics — a phrase repeated so often that it has become a cliché. 

Nearly 37 percent of the state’s population of about 24.8 million people is Latino, but almost any political expert will tell you that the group does not fully exercise its strength in elections. Pinpointing if and when Latinos will begin wielding their voting power is a challenge.

“It’s the $64,000 question,” says Bob Stein,  a political science professor at Rice University. “If you’re biblical, it’s like the [coming of the] messiah.”

Politicians often speak of the Latino population as a mystical group that must be captured before it awakens. The prize is a massive number of votes for the person who can figure out how to move the group to the polls. Scores of candidates, political parties and interest groups spend millions of dollars each year trying to determine what would happen if the group decided to exercise its strength in the next election.

In the current gubernatorial race between Republican Gov. Rick Perry and Democrat Bill Whiteanalysts and others wonder what might happen if more of the state’s registered Latino voters turned out at the polls. 

Latinos in Texas tend to vote for Democrats. Republicans get a smaller share of the Latino vote, yet they continue to win statewide elections. The general consensus is that Democrats in Texas would have an edge over their Republican counterparts if more Latinos voted. But wondering about the possibilities has not proved fruitful for Democrats in past election cycles. 

One reason Latinos are not flexing their muscle at the polls is that some may be too young to vote.  Steve Murdock, a sociology professor at Rice University who is a former state demographer and a former U.S. Census Bureau  director, says nearly 36 percent of the state’s 6.7 million Latinos were not of voting age a decade ago. 

Latinos will be the largest ethnic group in Texas in five years. In 2029, they will be a majority of the state’s population, but they will not dominate the voting-age population until 2033, Murdock says. In 2015, about 30 percent of the state’s expected 11.8 million Latinos will still not be old enough to vote, he says. 

Hispanic Surname Voters: 2008 Presidential Race

County        Voters

Bexar         194,745

Harris        166,288

El Paso       120,947

Hidalgo        98,112

Dallas          79,596

Tarrant        56,850

Cameron      52,441

Travis           50,710

Nueces         42,770

Webb            40,498

Source: Texas Secretary of State

But age is not the only issue. Registered Latino voters lagged behind other ethnic groups in voter turnout during the last presidential election. A little more than 40 percent of nearly 2.9 million Latino voters registered in 2008 actually cast ballots. By contrast, about 60 percent of about 10 million registered non-Latino voters turned out at the polls.

Experts say various circumstances contribute to the lower turnout. Latinos, for example, may meet the age qualifications but still be too young to fully engage in politics. A 30-year-old registered voter is more likely to cast a ballot than a 20-year-old. Other factors include higher rates of poverty among Latinos and lower levels of educational attainment.

Activists have cited low Latino voter turnout as one reason why immigration reform is not at the top of the to-do list for lawmakers. A lack of Latino voter participation is often considered a culprit when Democratic candidates in Texas cannot topple their Republican counterparts. Leaders from counties with large Latino populations and low voter turnout also say that if the group turned out in higher numbers, the communities would get more money from the state and neighborhoods would see more investment from city government.

James Aldrete,  a Democratic consultant, says it is unfair to place the blame on Latinos. Aldrete says Latino voters face obstacles to voting that include working long hours or multiple jobs to provide for their families. He says it is up to the candidates and communities to drive those voters who feel disenfranchised to the polls.

“The real annoying thing is when they call it a sleeping giant or when they make any insinuation that it’s lazy Mexicans,” Aldrete says. “What they need to understand is if you want that vote, you have to make it front and center to providing for their families, because that’s what people are doing.”

Wooing Latinos

Since Texas does not require residents to declare their ethnicity when they register to vote, the best way to measure the tally of Latino voters is by surname. An El Paso Times/Texas Tribune study of the 2008 voting rolls shows that about 17 percent, or nearly 1.3 million, of the state’s 7.6 million voters had Latino surnames. 

Nearly 1.6 million of the state’s about 2.9 million registered Latino voters did not cast ballots in 2008, according to an analysis based on the statewide voter file maintained by the Texas secretary of state. The list does not contain some overseas voters or voters who have been removed for various reasons. (No similar list of voters was available for the 2006 gubernatorial election.)

Political analysts warn that 2008 was an anomaly. They say the average turnout for Latinos in the state ranges from 11 to 15 percent. Still, though Latinos are not voting in numbers equal to their population, the group remains too large to ignore.

Perry and White each say they have their eye on Latino voters. Perry says he plans go after 50 percent of the Latino vote this election. The governor has picked up about a third of the Latino vote in past elections, according to his campaign. White will be looking to increase Latino turnout and trying to maintain the larger voting margins typically afforded to Democratic candidates.

THE LATINO UNDERVOTE

 

HISPANIC TURNOUT STATEWIDE IN 2008:  42%

OVERALL TURNOUT STATEWIDE IN 2008:  60%

 

“If Bill White loses the Hispanic vote to Rick Perry, then it’s all over,” Stein says. “He needs to get 65 to 70 percent of a good turnout of the Hispanic vote. If he doesn’t hold his margins, it won’t matter what the turnout is.”

Perry says outreach will focus mostly on translating his message into Spanish through social media like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. He says that could mean a few commercials that feature him speaking Spanish, a language he still struggles with. Perry says his record speaks to Latinos, who like all other Texans care about the state’s economic stability, education and feeling safe in their communities.

“The Democrats were in control of the state for 150 years,” Perry says. “It was a Republican who put the first African-American on the Supreme Court. It was a Republican who named the first Latina secretary of state. It was a Republican who put the first Latina on the Supreme Court. What’s not to like about these Republicans, or this Rick Perry Republican?”

White, who has already run his own commercials in Spanish, says he is focused on working with Latinos who may feel ignored by the state’s leadership. He plans to touch on many of the same issues as Perry but will try to persuade voters that the governor has been ineffective.

“Latino voters, like all voters in our state, should have their support earned by performance and a lifetime commitment to progress, not simply by a slick television ad,” White says. “You don’t start nine and a half years into office deciding you are going to appeal to a group.”

With that message, White hopes to increase Latino turnout in Democratic counties like El Paso and Hidalgo. Only about 46 percent of the nearly 262,000 El Paso Latinos who were registered to vote in 2008 made it to the polls. About 40 percent of the more than 242,500 registered Latino voters in Hidalgo County cast ballots.

Democrats believe that Latino candidates like  Linda Chavez-Thompson,  who is running for lieutenant governor, and Hector Uribe, who is running for land commissioner, will help draw Latino voters to the polls.

Republicans, on the other hand, are still battling an image of a party that is hostile to minorities — a point revisited this year in public comments made by Railroad Commissioner Victor Carrillo after he lost to political newcomer David Porter in the March GOP primary. Carrillo made headlines when he told supporters that he lost the race because of a party bias against Latinos. 

Former Republican gubernatorial candidate Clayton Williams, who lost to Ann Richards in 1990, says Carrillo’s defeat in the primary could be a blow for the party. “If we cannot have more Hispanics become a part of our conservative effort, then we don’t have a future,” Williams says. “That’s a setback, and we’ve got to work on that.”

Latinos in Texas often choose the Democratic Party at the ballot box, but that is not always the case at the national level.  Mark Lopez associate director for the Pew Hispanic Center, says that until 2008, a majority of Latinos nationally did not believe either party had more concern for them. That year, a majority identified with the Democratic Party, and only 6 percent chose the Republican Party.

“For the most part, the majority of Hispanics prior to 2008 were saying there was no difference between the parties,” Lopez said.

Understanding Latino issues

Democrats have normally enjoyed an edge with Latino voters in Texas, but experts say they have done little to engage and excite that base. Republicans often point out that they share conservative and religious values with many Latinos, but the party’s platform is sometimes at odds with them. For instance, Republicans generally push against reform efforts that would provide a legal path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

“It’s not that Hispanics aren’t probably pro-life. It’s not that they aren’t pro-choice,” Stein says. “But those are not things that will motivate them to vote Republican when they are unemployed, don’t have health insurance and their schools are terrible.”

Pia Orrenius, a research officer and senior economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, says education will be the key for Latino progress over the next decade. “In Texas, it just so happens that we have some of the most segregated high schools in the nation, so over half of Latino students tend to go to high schools that are 90 percent Latino or minority,” Orrenius says, explaining that more needs to be done to level the playing field. 

But analysts say that until Latinos show politicians that they cannot be appeased at a superficial level, candidates will continue to do just enough to get the vote each election year.

Lydia Camarillo, vice president of the Southwest Voter Registration Education Projectsays that day is coming. In the meantime, she says, Latinos must be reminded what is at stake in each election. “Go to our neighborhoods. We are not seeing any progress,” she says.

Many candidates still have a hard time pushing issues that drive the group to the polls. Eight years ago, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tony Sanchez relied too heavily on the idea that he could increase Latino turnout and that the group would vote for him because of his surname, political analysts say. Sanchez lost to Perry by more than 800,000 votes.

Those analysts say current candidates who travel to the border to discuss security or complain that Latinos are not represented in history books are also not doing enough to engage the population in a meaningful way.

Camarillo says underestimating Latino voting power is a mistake. She says candidates have missed the mark when tackling important concerns for Latinos. “The questions should be, what are we going to do to make sure that the Latino community has better resources, better jobs and better opportunities?” she says. 

But, Camarillo says, Latinos also continue to pay attention to how candidates respond to immigration issues. “Even though it is a federal issue, the immigration issue has become increasingly a litmus test for how we will be treated,” she says.

Both White and Perry are playing it safe on immigration and border security. White, who is trying to appeal to moderate Republican voters and keep his base Democratic voters, has leaned more conservative toward those issues. He treads lightly when discussing national immigration reform efforts and has joined Perry in criticizing the federal government’s response to border security needs. 

Perry, on the other hand, is also trying to play both sides. Aldrete says the governor doles out money to sheriffs and provides grants along the border, while presiding over a Republican Party convention that talked about eliminating federally sponsored pre-kindergarten and passing an Arizona-like bill in Texas. 

Perry has said publicly that he disagrees with portions of the Arizona law, which would not be right for Texas. Meanwhile, some of his fellow Republicans in the Legislature have promised to pass similar bills in the state. 

White says he would veto legislation that resembles the controversial law. Perry would not commit to a veto without a review of such legislation. 

Analysts say both parties have to step up efforts to reach Latino voters by talking about issues like closing the wage gap with Anglos, reducing the dropout rate for Hispanic children and raising the college graduation statistics for the minority group.

“For the majority of Hispanics, the Republican Party is just not a choice,” Aldrete says. “The choice is, ‘Is it worth my time to get involved?’”

Speaking of, the Former H-Town Mayor kind of got criticized in the Star-Telegram for not taking on the immigration issue. Check it out. 

Dems have to deal with this or else!

The Big Puma batted in the six-hole last night.  He hadn’t batted sixth since May 18, 2004.  Who did he bat behind that day?

Bonus:  The Big Puma said on the jumbotron last night that he has met three presidents.  Name them?

Guv Dude says he still hasn’t heard from The President on his border security meeting request.  I’m betting the meeting is going to happen

McLovin got honored last night at The Yard.  He got to stand down the first base line with a few others for stuffing the MLB All-Star ballot box with at least 4,500 ballots.  Way to go McLovin!

B-G-O, Adam Everett, Baggy, Jeff Kent, and Richard Hidalgo of course batted in front of The Big Puma back on May 18, 2004.

41, 42, and 43 of course have had the honor of shaking The Big Puma’s paw!

Batting sixth last night didn’t seem to faze The Big Puma as he came through with a 7th inning grand salami as we wrap up the series with the Cubbies this afternoon.

 

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Here’s from a Chron story today about the latest poll on Latino voters in the U.S. of A.:  “For a group that supported Obama so heavily in 2008 and in his first year in office, only 43 percent of Hispanics surveyed said Obama is adequately addressing their needs, with the economy a major concern. Another 32 percent were on the fence, while 21 percent said he’d done a poor job.” Check out the full article.

This isn’t a shocker if you ask me.  Unless things change, it will definitely have a damper effect on Latino turnout in the Lone Star State this November.

Meanwhile, the Chron also has excerpts of a Texas Tribune interview with my old pal Henry Cisneros.  Henry talks about the upcoming election and the Latino vote.  Check it out.

The ‘Stros are a miserable 40-59.  When was the last time the ‘Stros had a .500 won/loss record?

There is no word yet on a city council decision on a city vote on changing term limits.

Commentary hasn’t heard anything about the folks that want to have a vote on doing away with red light cameras.  Show me the signatures!

On August 3, 2009, of course, the ‘Stros were 53-53.   We went 21-35 the rest of the season to finish 74-88.

The Rays finally got a no-no last night.  That leaves the Mets and Padres as the only two MLB teams without a no-no.

The Roy O. trade watch continues.   The ‘Stros left twelve men on base last night in our 5-2 loss as Brett Myers goes to the mound for us tonight.

 

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Here’s what a prominent Lone Star State GOP State Senator said yesterday in the Chron:  "The voting public here in Texas has made it clear that immigration is one of its top concerns, and, as such, I think legislators of both parties are obligated and have a responsibility to address the issue."   Checkout the article. 

What else do I have to say?  Immigration needs to be the rallying cry in Latino communities this election season.  The GOP is handing us this issue on a silver platter.  Dems needs to snatch it up!  Of course, nobody asked me.

Speaking of, there is no word yet on a meeting between The President and Guv Dude.  I guess The White House is still mulling over the issue.  Stay tuned!

At The Yard Saturday evening, Reds first baseman Joey Votto hit a two-run dinger off of Roy O. in the top of the first inning which prompted a nearby fan to grouse – “we should have traded him this morning” – ouch!   After Roy O. had given up six runs after only three innings, another nearby fan wondered aloud if Roy O. was tanking it in order to lower his trade value – ditto ouch!   Hey, he asked for it!

Who was the first MLBer to have his name put on a Louisville Slugger bat?

The Roy O. trade watch continues this week.  GM Wade said this past weekend that the team was in a “seller” mode.  I guess that means we’re done for the year.  Yikes!

Honus Wagner of course of the Pirates was the first MLBer to have his name put on a Louisville Slugger way back in 1905.

It’s the Cubbies for three tonight thru Wednesday.  I’m thinking that Cubbie fans will outnumber us this evening.

 

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A lot of ‘Stros fans are glued to talk radio and the internet these days trying to get the latest info on the Roy O. trade talks.  One of the hurdles to making the deal is Roy O.’s huge salary – $6 mil left to pay for the rest of this season, $16 mil next year, and $2 mil to $16 mil in 2012 – it is an option year.   Some of the know-it-alls, err, local sports talk radio hosts, want my pal Drayton to make the deal by agreeing to pay a part of Roy O.’s future salary – huh!  Apparently it is a practice of sorts in the MLB. 

A few weeks ago, the Seattle Mariners traded their ace Cliff Lee to the Texas Rangers and agreed to pay a part of his salary.  I don’t know about that.  The Rangers did that when they trade A-Roid to the Yankees a few years ago and last I heard the Rangers are getting loans from the MLB. 

Let’s say the ‘Stros trade Roy O. to San Luis.  I’m not going to be feeling too good when they come to The Yard and Roy O. is on the mound knowing that when I plunk down for a St. Arnold, some of the cash is going to pay a fella that is trying to get our arse.   That doesn’t make sense.

The way I look at it, if San Luis, the Phillies, or the Twins want Roy O., pay his salary.  I sure hope my pal Drayton reads today’s Commentary.

Guv Dude says The President is injecting racism into the immigration debate – huh!  Check out the story.  This is a great opportunity for Dems to fire up Latino voters in the Lone Star State.  Dems ought to be calling out Dude and the GOP on this.  Dems won’t, however.  They still don’t get it. 

The Roy O. trade watch continues.  In 1996, Roy O. was drafted by the ‘Stros in the 23rd round of the MLB Amateur Draft.   Who did the ‘Stros select in the first round that year?

The Chron devoted 2 full pages in today’s sports section to snagging foul balls and I didn’t even get a mention or get interviewed.  It has been that kind of season. Check out the 4 pieces: one,  twothree,  four.

I have to figure the pieces were written by a rookie sports writer since everyone at The Yard knows I hold the record for foul balls snagged.   They did mention my section as a primo foul ball target.

Commentary has always liked Cong. Charlie Rangel.  I think though he needs call it a day.  We don’t need to give the GOP any more ammo this election season.

Pitcher Mark Johnson of course was the ‘Stros first round pick in 1996.   We traded him along with a few other players to Florida in 1997 for Moises Alou.  Johnson ended up in Detroit and pitched a total of 9 games for the Tigers in 2000.  He enver pitched in the bigs after 2000.  BTW – the often heralded Gerry Hunsicker was the GM who picked Johnson.

It’s gym bags tonight, T-shirts tomorrow, and batting practice jerseys for the kids on Sunday as the Reds come in for three this weekend.

 

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It was definitely surreal TV on CNN yesterday afternoon.  It was live and split screen TV with Shirley Sherrod from the CNN’s studios and White House spokesperson Robert Gibbs offering her an apology during his daily briefing to the media.  The White House did what very few in politics do these days – owned up. 

Gibbs also said that the Ag Secretary was trying to call her while she was there on live TV watching. 

The Ag Secretary also said he screwed up big time.

Some of the folks on Fox News also apologized.

The only guy in America who hasn’t owned up is the fella that started it all – Andrew Breitbart.  That’s OK because one of today’s most admired women in the country, Shirley Sherrod, has now set her sights on Breitbart.  Stay tuned!

Commentary is thinking Guv Dude might have blundered in calling for a meeting on border security with The President when The President is in the Lone Star State on August 9.  If I’m The President, I take Dude up on the offer.    Have Dude come to H-Town and have a sit down with him.  After the meeting, invite the media in and say that you and Dude will work together on border security and make it look like there is cooperation.  That will make Dude look silly and disingenuous when he starts to crack on Washington again during the campaign.  Why do I have to think of this?

Roy O.  is now the subject of trade talk.   Roy O. has a career 3.22 ERA which is fifth best among active pitchers with more than 1000 innings pitched.  When Roy O. first made it to the big leagues in 2001, in his first season he went 14-3 with a 2.73 ERA.  That was good enough to land him second place for the 2001 NL Rookie of the Year.  Who won the 2001 NL Rookie of the Year?

Commentary doesn’t have a problem with Da Bell personally pocketing $426,000 minus legal fees from Dude’s campaign.  Da Bell has been one of the Dem Party’s fiercest warriors and if he can take some of Dude’s cashola, more power to him.

Albert Pujols of course was the unanimous choice for 2001 NL Rookie of the Year.

Roy O. is now saying that whoever wants him will now have to guarantee his contract through 2012. 

A report says that San Luis is interested in Roy O.  I don’t know about that.  We still have half a dozen left to play against them this season and will face them over a dozen times a year in 2011 and 2012.

We have nine days to make the Roy O., The Big Puma, or Brett Myers deal or deals.

Meanwhile, Roy O. is scheduled to take the mound Saturday night against the Reds.

 

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