Peace through victory - the American way.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

The Speech

President George Bush's speech tonight was better than I had expected. I've been on board with the liberation of Iraq and the whole forward strategy of freedom thing since the summer of 2002 when anybody who was paying attention knew what was coming and why.

I was concerned that tonight's speech would be another one filled with rhetoric that soars over the details. To those of us who have bought into the war strategy such soaring rhetoric is not necessary. To those who are wobbling such rhetoric sounds like blather disconnected from the reality of the facts on the ground.

So it was heartening to hear the President came through in a big way with a speech built on a skeleton of idealistic rhetoric but fleshed out with details and facts. It was especially heartening to hear him detail how the strategic goals of Al Qaeda in Iraq continue to be thwarted, a point this blog made in February. (Click here for post.) For more hopeful news from Iraq read this story (here) that shows more evidence of the political maturity of Iraq's leaders as they continue to reach out to Sunnis, this time by considering federalism to ensure fair representation for all.

No doubt the nitpickers will fill the airwaves, cable TV and the opinion pages with their criticisms and accusations of the President's speech and strategy. But anyone who heard that speech and still doesn't understand how the Iraqi campaign fits into the Global War on Terror isn't paying attention or doesn't want to understand. Anyone who heard that speech and doesn't support the Iraqi campaign simply doesn't want to support it.



Sunday, June 26, 2005

What Does Xavier Mean Again, Padres Fans?

Back in April this blog said Xavier, as in Xavier Nady of the San Diego Padres, stands for "savior" because of his right-handed power to left field. (See post here.) San Diego's Petco Park has a deep, deep right field making it difficult for the current crop of Padres players, whose power is to right, to hit homeruns at home. Visiting teams don't seem to have that trouble, but whatever.

After two months of sitting on the bench Nady is back in the lineup because injuries have decimated the starting lineup. And what has been the result? On Friday he hit a homerun to center field. On Saturday he hit a homerun to left field. And, today, Sunday, in the 4th inning he hit the first homerun ever to the top (the fourth floor) of the Western Metal Supply Building down the left field line.

X deserves to be in the starting lineup every day.


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Friday, June 24, 2005

Our New Favorite Actress.

If the short article entitled "A Woman Scorned" in The San Diego Union-Tribune's Public Eye (click here) is true, Jennifer Aniston is our new favorite actress. She criticizes Angelina Jolie for putting a pretty face on the oil for food scandal, she dumps on the UN for being corrupt and for not being there for the US when we needed them on Iraq, and she endorses John Bolton for our UN Ambassador.

You go, girl! We're with you all the way.



Thursday, June 23, 2005

No Apology Necessary.

According to the story linked above, Democrats are demanding that Karl Rove either apologize for remarks he made criticizing liberals for their response to 9/11 or resign. Rove said that liberals reacted to 9/11 by calling for restraint, for indictments, and for understanding.

No apology is necessary. Here in San Diego our local newspaper published guest opinion pieces that called for exactly those things, recommended the US not take military action against Afghanistan, and apologizing for the terrorists' actions as a response to past American policies. Moreover, the anti-war left began to mobilize here in San Diego on September 12, 2001, the day after 9/11.

Rove has nothing to apologize for.



Favorite Movie Lines That Will Never Make The Top 100 List.

The American Film Institute has come out with a mainstream list
of the 100 best movie lines of all time. (Click here to view list.)

Here are some of my favorite lines, at least how I remember them,
from movies that will never make a top critics or fans list
of any kind but that are worth seeing nonetheless.

From Barfly, starring Mickey Rourke, in the role he was
born to play, writer, drunk and asshole Charles Bukowski.

In a bar crowded with bums,

"To all my friends!"

And in the background cavorting while his girlfriend, played
by Faye Dunaway, is on the phone with her sugar daddy,

"I'm a beer-drinking wrestler who likes to fart."

From Strange Brew, by one of the MacKenzie brothers
while offering a donut to a plump secretary as a bribe,

"It's a cruller."

From The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai across the 8th Dimension, by Dr. Emilo Lizardo,

"Sealed with a curse as sharp as a knife, doomed is-a your soul and damned is-a your life."


"Massacre them without a quarter."

by the alien John Bigboote



"It's not my goddam plant, understand, monkeyboy?"

From the indie sci-fi, western musical The American Astronaut, by the serial killer before he kills his victim,

"I said I want you to sing 'Happy Birthday.'"

and over the ship to ship space radio while chasing the American astronaut across the Solar System,

"Aren't you going to sing 'Happy Birthday' to me?"

By the boss of the mine on Jupiter to his miners, who have never seen a woman,

"Gentlemen. I give to you, the boy who actually saw a woman's breast."

And finally, two lines from the movie Sodom and Gomorrah

"Greetings Sodomites."


"Watch out for the Sodomite patrols."


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The Ground Gets Laid For "Extraordinary Circumstances" Filibuster.

This blog has maintained, since the filibuster buster agreement was made by 14 Senators earlier this year, that the agreement was a power grab by the Senate of the President's power to nominate judicial candidates. (Click here for prior post.) The final paragraphs of the agreement set out the Senators' understanding that the advice and consent clause means the President should consult with the Senate before nominating a candidate. This flies in the face of the plain language of the clause but it's not how the 14 Senators see it.

With the current composition of the Senate such an interpretation favors the Democrats because they could filibuster an "unconsulted" nominee and the 7 Republicans who signed the agreement would not be able to argue that the filibuster rule should be changed because an "unconsulted" nominee violates the advice and consent clause and is contrary to normal historical practice.

Now, this story from the AP on Yahoo (click here) describes a letter from Senate Democrats to the White House telling the President that he has to consult with them before picking a judicial nominee. And Senator Robert Byrd, one of the so-called Gang of 14 who signed the filibuster buster agreement, is writing his own letter because he feels so strongly about the issue.

The landmine that was planted when the filibuster buster agreement was signed is being armed and primed. The explosion will come soon when the President sends up his Supreme Court pick to replace whichever Justice retires. The Republican success with nominations since the agreement was signed was merely a cease fire. The judicial confirmations war is about to resume.

Let's get ready to rumble!!!!!!



Tuesday, June 21, 2005

The Gorilla In California Politics

Government employee unions in California are not only a special interest they are probably the most powerful special interest in the state. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has been criticized since he came to office for describing the unions as special interests but recent events have shown he was right.

California appeared headed for its annual budget catastrophe when the Democrats reversed their usual obstructionist course and agreed to a budget close to the one propose by Arnold. Differences still remain between the parties so the GOP is holding up the budget this time (click here for story) but the Democrats are generally going along with Arnold's budget this year. Buried in this story in the Los Angeles Times (click here) is the reason why. The teacher's union told them to. As the Times reports:

We are not going to hold up the budget and have a protracted budget battle," said Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez (D-Los Angeles). "We want to send the message to voters of this state that we are serious about getting things done."

A month ago, Nuñez called Schwarzenegger's budget proposal a "sham," saying the governor "simply doesn't get it" and is "not listening to the people."

Several lawmakers said Tuesday that the Democrats changed strategy at the urging of the politically powerful California Teachers Assn. "No such decision was going to be made without them," said Assemblyman Joe Canciamilla (D-Pittsburg).

The teachers group is gearing up for its own fight against a measure on the fall ballot that could clip the ability of state employee unions to fund political campaigns. The unions are among Democrats' biggest backers.

A new public opinion poll is out showing that The Governator's popularity numbers have plummeted to 37 percent favorable versus 53 percent unfavorable. (Click here for story.) Arnold was riding high when he came into office after the recall election. Since progress began to stall in Sacramento after an unchanged Democratic legislature was returned to office last November, Arnold has been threatening to go around the legislature and hold a special election on his agenda. Last week he made good on his threat and set an election for November. In response the teachers and prison guards unions raised dues on their members to raise $68 million. (Click here for story.)

Preparing the battlefield, the powerful unions who run the Democrats in this state went on the attack. Television viewers in California have been treated to very well made and hard hitting commercials accusing Arnold of breaking promises to fund schools and to protect Californians from crime. Two of the ads can be seen at the website (click here) of the so-called Alliance for a Better California, which is a special interest group bringing together 11 unions. A more accurate name would be the Alliance for the Status Quo in California. The union attack ads have done their job and currently a majority of Californians disapprove of the governor and a majority oppose the his special election.

Now, according to this story (click here) the governor is reaching out for a compromise.

In California, when the unions talk, people listen, whether they want to or not. Hold on to your wallets, everybody.



Monday, June 20, 2005

Is Public Art For The Public Or For Critics?

The Port Authority of San Diego's plan to place a monument to the history of cannery workers has aroused criticism from a local art critic. In this story (click here) San Diego Union Tribune art critic Robert Pincus compares the Port Authority's choice to Muzak and describes it as suffering from "unwavering blandness."

The link to the article shows an artist's rendition of how the sculpture will look. It's an arch over a park sidewalk in which the arch is an arc of fish flying from a worker's basket on one base to the arms of another worker on the other. Looking on is a sculpture of a woman carrying a basket.

Pincus is highly critical of the Port Authority's past public art decisions for consistently approving art that is "innocuous" or "wholly trivial." He criticizes this harborside statue of a sailor embracing his family called "Homecoming" (click here for photos) and this display of dolphins called "Ocean Riders" at an entrance to a beachside park. (Click here for photos) One decision he approves is this exhibit by Gail Roberts at the airport called "Treelines." (Click here for photos.)

These exhibits vary in quality, for sure, but the quality of each is something about which reasonable minds could differ. To this reasonable mind, "Treelines" appears to possess high quality, "Homecoming" is loaded with feeling, the cannery workers tribute appears to be clever and fun, and "Ocean Riders" is forgettable.

How one could fault "Homecoming" is beyond me. The statue of the sailor reunited with his family cannot but produce emotion in the viewer, especially in this Navy town and in these times of war. The power of that image is strong. Perhaps it's not the most cutting edge of sculptures but that is not its intent. It's a sculpture in a park near the harbor where Navy ships are docked. It fits it's environment.

Likewise, the cannery workers' tribute may not capture the gritty essence that was the life of those workers from San Diego's past, but the sculpture is intended for a public park. Its fun and light tone is more fitting for a park than would be a tribute that more realistically portrays the lives of the cannery workers. And it serves the purpose of reminding people of San Diego's history.

The dolphin sculpture, "Ocean Riders" is not something I like much at all. But in its defense it is designed for the entrance of a beachside park for families. The somewhat pedestrian portrayal of the dolphins flying on the waves is not out of place in that venue. The sculpture is displayed to mark an entrance to a place where people will play, much like the dolphins are doing. It's hardly art, but it serves its purpose.

For art critics that is exactly the problem with much public art. To their standards it's often hardly art. Yet the purpose of public art is not to place art in public for art critics to appreciate. Its purpose is to add to the general public's enjoyment of the public space. These are two very different things. To the art critic, appreciating the art is what's important, and the public space is just a different kind of art gallery. To the public, enjoying the public space is what's important, and the art should fit into that space without dominating and detracting from it. Public art is not art for the sake of art. It shouldn't be judged by those standards.



Sunday, June 19, 2005

Arnold's Judges And The Ethnic Diversity Fallacy

This story by Bill Ainsworth of the San Diego Union-Tribune (click here) about Governor Schwarzenegger's judicial picks reveals the benefits of having a non-establishment politician who is outside the traditional right-left axis picking judges.

The governor is picking people who never had a chance to become judges during the Gray Davis administration: defense attorneys. (An encouraging fact to this criminal appellate defense attorney, by the way.) Davis was compelled by politics to pick prosecutors for judges. As an establishment Democrat he had to protect his right flank from Republican attacks of being soft on crime. He did so by ignoring defense attorneys and picking prosecutors. Arnold's political career puts him outside the traditional left-right axis and frees him to pick defense attorneys to sit as judges.

In another sign of the freedom he has by coming from outside traditional politics, out of 70 judicial picks 37 have been Republicans and 25 Democrats.

What's telling about politics in this country, however, is the focus in the article on the ethnic diversity of the candidates. The Governator's judicial picks are not as ethnically diverse as Davis's picks were. Although Arnold's picks apparently reflect the ethnic percentages of the state bar, those percentages are less than Davis's and less than the percentages of California's population.

Naturally, Arnold is criticized for failing the diversity test. A past-president of the California Women Lawyers calls the lower percentage of female appointees under Arnold "worrisome." And as Chris Arriola of La Raza Lawyers of California puts it, "If the bench is not reflective of the community, it loses credibility. People need to feel they can participate and their voices will be heard."

There you see the problem with the racial diversity advocates. Here we have a governor who is promoting true diversity on California's bench by appointing defense attorneys not just prosecutors, men and women from both political parties, and a mix of races, yet he is criticized because he is not picking enough people with the right skin color or sex organs.

The criticisms reveal the shallowness of diversity advocates. For them, skin color and sex say more about the qualifications to be judge than the type of law the judge practiced before rising to the bench.

Thus, at the end of the article, speculation about who will replace departing Justice Janice Rogers Brown is all about whether her replacement will be African-American or Latina. Arriola, the advocate from La Raza, pushes a specific Latina, who used to be a prosecutor and is now a Court of Appeal justice, saying "If he (Arnold) wants to blow up boxes, how about appointing the first Latina to serve on the Supreme Court." Brown among them, six of the seven justices on California's Supreme Court were prosecutors at one time in their careers. (Click here for bios on Supreme Court's website.) Thus, the irony is that Arriola, by focusing on race and sex, fails to see that he is not promoting true diversity on the Supreme Court because his favored candidate is, yet again, a former prosecutor.



Tuesday, June 14, 2005

None Dare Call It Partisan.

Since 14 Senators avoided the nuclear option by agreeing to end debate on three judicial nominess and not to filibuster except in "extraordinary circumstances" the question nobody seems to have been able to answer is just what are "extraordinary circumstances." This blog reviewed the agreement back in May (click here for document) to take a stab at defining the term and concluded that extraordinary circumstances exist when the President fails to consult with the Senate before he submits nominees to the Senate for confirmation. (Click here.) Nothing that has happened since then suggests that definition is wrong. It's curious that nobody else seems to have come to the same conclusion.

In the June 13, 2005, Best of the Web, Jame Taranto wrote that the term "is an empty phrase if the signatories construe it to include partisan opposition to a nominee." (Click here.) Taranto was responding to a New York Times editorial that scolded Senator Bill Frist for daring to suggest that he could still exercise the nuclear option if the Senate Democrats filibustered a future nominee absent "extraordinary circumstances." The Times editorial took the ludicrous position that Frist, despite being the majority leader of the Senate, had no power to decide for himself whether a filibuster is justified by extraordinary circumstances or not. (Click here for New York Times editorial.) The Times' conclusion that only the 14 signatory Senators can decide whether extraordinary circumstances exist is actually supported by the text of the agreement, which just shows how much of a power grab the agreement was. And it's a power grab that favors the Democrats in the Senate because of what the 14 Senators believe constitute "extraordinary circumstances."

That's because the term "extraordinary circumstances" appears elastic enough to include partisan opposition in its definition. To reiterate what this blog wrote back in May, although the filibuster agreement refused to define "extraordinary circumstances" it did describe what the 14 signatory Senators believe are ordinary circumstances for judicial nominees in its final three paragraphs.

Those paragraphs state that the 14 Senators believe the word "Advice" in the "Advice and Consent" clause "speaks to consultation between the Senate and the President with regard to the use of the President's power to make nominations." The agreement further explains the view of the 14 signatories that such consultation is consistent with the "early practices of our government" and that their agreement is "consistent with the traditions of the United States Senate."

In other words, in their view the Constitution contemplates Senate advice to the President before a nomination is sent to the Senate not after, and that such a practice is rooted in the historical practice of the US government and the tradition of the Senate. To the 14 Senators then, pre-nomination consultation between the President and the Senate is the constitutional and historical norm and the present lack of such consultation is outside the norm.

The agreement builds on that belief and explicitly encourages the current president to consult with both Republicans and Democrats in the Senate before sending future nominees as a way to "reduce the rancor that unfortunately accompanies the advice and consent process ...." By requiring the president to consult with Senate Democrats as well as Republicans before submitting a nomination, the 14 Senators have conspired to weaken the president's power to nominate as well as undermining the Republican majority in the Senate.

Any Democratic signatory to the agreement could support even a partisan-motivated filibuster without violating the agreement if the President failed to consult with the Senate before submitting the nomination. Any Republican signatory would be hard pressed to argue a filibuster in such circumstances breaks the agreement and justifies changing the filibuster rule with respect to judicial nominees.

A nominee sent to the Senate without pre-nomination consultation is more likely to be a nominee the Democrats oppose for partisan reasons than one that has gone through a pre-nomination consultation. Until the President begins to consult with Senate Democrats before picking his judicial candidates his nominees are vulnerable to a nuclear option-safe filibuster. A partisan victory for Democrats in the name of moderation and centrism, thanks to the 7 wobbly Republican Senators who signed the filibuster agreement.



Monday, June 13, 2005

Apologizing For The Ugly History Of The Filibuster

This AP story on Yahoo (click here) has the Senate apologizing for its failure to ever pass anti-lynching legislation. As the story explains,
"nearly 200 anti-lynching bills were introduced in Congress and three passed the House. Seven presidents between 1890 and 1952 petitioned Congress to pass a federal law.

But the Senate, with Southern Conservatives wielding their filibuster powers, refused to act."

There's been a lot of sanctimonious rhetoric in recent months praising the filibuster as a tool for the minority to use against an oppressive and extreme majority. This story reminds us all that the true history of the filibuster is a story of a minority using the practice to protect racist violence.

The "Southern Conservatives" term in the article is priceless as well. A more accurate term would have been Southern Democrats. But whatever.



Sunday, June 05, 2005

A Riff On The San Diego Concert Of I See Hawks In L.A.

The folk/country band I See Hawks in L.A. (click here for band website) put on a show in America's Finest City last night. The band is a three man acoustic group with singer/guitarist, acoustic bass guitar player, and lead acoustic/steel guitarist. Their music is phenomenally good, with excellent musicianship, and songs that tell stories and often break the traditional musical structure for popular music.

The concert took place in a Methodist Church in the Normal Heights neighborhood of San Diego. The church apparently rents itself out at night for musical performances. It was not the most comfortable venue to sit in pews and listen to a concert for a couple of hours, but the acoustics were very good. I was waiting for a gospel song in tribute to the venue but the closest the band came while I was still there was a song about a preacher and his wife.

The experience was like "Praire Home Companion" without the phony folksy humor. It was hippies' night out and naturally liberal politics crept into the show. It's a minor inconvenience being politically conservative and having artistic tastes that favor alternative music. But having to endure the misguided protest song now and then is a small price to pay to hear good music. So, I just shut up and listen, or at most, boo quietly.

Last night's protest song was a tribute to, of all people, "Byrd of West Virginia, Senator Byrd." It was a reflective song on Byrd's long career which tried to reconcile his early years with the Klan and his present jihad against the Bush Administration's foreign policy, or to be precise, its Doctrine of Preemption. Unsurprisingly, the song was critical of preemption and even went so far as to include a line that said something to the effect of "this doctrine of preemption is reckless and dangerous." I'm going on memory here so the line might not be that precisely but it's close enough. Nothing subtle about it at any rate. Perhaps it's a direct quote from the Senator.

Naturally, the NPRista audience loved the song. Perhaps the guy who gave it a standing ovation was the driver of the really big SUV with the "Don't blame me I voted for Kerry" bumper sticker. Okay, we won't blame him for that, but can we blame him for driving an SUV? As for my own culpability, I voted for Bush in California. A vote can't get much more meaningless than that. Full disclosure compels me to reveal that I drive a Subaru Forester, which is technically an SUV, but a small one that gets decent gas mileage. I favor drilling for oil in the Arctic wasteland and increasing automobile mileage standards to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. So, don't blame me either, okay?

But I digress.

The Byrd song appears motivated by a seeming contradiction. How can such a hard man with such a racist past be the same man who speaks out against a "reckless and young president" bent on conquering the world?

There is really no puzzle. The Senator didn't care about freedom for African-Americans during his KKK youth. Today he doesn't care about freedom for Arabs. His present liberal-minded, anti-war allies might want to think about the moral position aligning with that puts them in.



Friday, June 03, 2005

Plumbers Protest Toilet Desecration

News about the misuse of TP's (Terror Prisoner) Korans continues to come out of Guantanamo Bay. In the latest story (click here) a Pentagon report documents a number of instances where guards mishandled the Koran, either deliberately or unintentionally. In one instance, the interrogator apologized after stepping on a TP's Koran. In another a guard's urine stream apparently wet a Koran belonging to a TP. The story does not mention whether the guard is a modern artist doing an anti-Islamic version of the anti-Christian Piss Christ.

What's notable about the report is not the number of incidents of TP Koran abuse, it's the discipline visited on the offending American soldier after the incident.

Meanwhile, back in the real world we're still waiting for Al Qaeda to discipline its minions for beheading innocent civilians.

In related news, this site has obtained a copy of a secret US government report by the Entire Government's Accountancy Department that reveals the spreading repercussions of the Koran abuse.

EGAD's report describes a little known riot by members of the United States Government's Plumbers Union who were outraged at the news a Koran was flushed down a toilet. PU members used their signs, many emblazoned with the slogan, "One Man's Toilet Is Another Man's Throne" to fight the police who had been called out to maintain order.

PU's members have not gone on strike to protest what their union president, Patina "Pat" Porcelain, describes as the "outrageous desecration of civilization's ultimate invention."

Yet many members remain angry at the reported toilet abuse and have found a novel but puzzling form of protest. They have revived the age-old practice among plumbers of refusing to wear belts to hold up their trousers as they bend over to work in front of customers.

The EGAD report criticizes the military for permitting the Koran flushing incident to occur. The report points out that environmental regulations require low-flush toilets in all government facilities. The report notes that such toilets "are barely adequate at removing human waste and government sanctioned toilet paper let alone bound copies of the Holy Quran of the Prophet Mohammed, blessed be his name."

The report also criticizes the actions of the guards in calling a government plumber after 5 pm, which required overtime payment. The report recommends in the future that guards "hold it" until the morning to save taxpayer money.



Thursday, June 02, 2005

The Love-Hate Relationship Of The Padres And Petco Park

These are fabulous times to be a season-ticket holder for the Padres. After several years of losing at Qualcomm and last year's disappointing first season at their new home, Petco Park, this year is great.

Petco Park is a great place for baseball. It's architecturally interesting. Viewed from the outside it presents a different face from every direction. From one direction, it's brick walls, from another it's steel girders, from another it's a grassy park and a view into the field, and from another it looks vaguely Aztec or Mayan, a style I've dubbed "mesoamericana." The downtown location is easy to get to and has not created the feared traffic nightmare. The seats are comfortable and a vast improvement over the former stadium. Finally, the playing field's non-uniform dimensions are much better than the cookie-cutter dimensions of the old stadium.

The Padres players have not adjusted easily to the park. The homerun power of the current players is mostly to right field and the right field fence is a long, long way from home plate. Worse, the move downtown to the bayshore means night games are played in damper air. The result has been fewer homeruns and more long flyball outs to right and center. The left field fences are much closer but the Padres have few righthanded pull hitters with power.

Last year the Padres struggled at home and the players were frustrated and angry at the park. This year the team has adjusted to the field and is winning games at home. Except for last night, of course, when the Brewers beat the Padres with two homeruns, one to right field even. The Padres' hopes for a comeback victory in the ninth died when Geoff Blum's apparent homerun with the bases loaded and two outs died on the warning track and resulted in yet another long flyball out to right. From my seats at the game, the ball looked gone when Blum hit it. Padres players thought so too. As Brian Giles said, "off the bat, I thought it was a no-doubter." (Click here for the game recap.)

So, it's strange to see this story (click here) in the San Diego Union Tribune today about visiting teams griping about how Petco Park's vast dimensions kill the homerun ball. The story doesn't quote any opposing player complaining about the park. The only evidence for the complaints comes from Padres firstbaseman Phil Nevin, who says he sees it in their eyes at first base "every time someone lays into one that doesn't reach the seats."

I watch nearly every home game the Padres play, either at the park or on the tube, and it's pretty evident to me that the hometown boys are still unhappy with Petco Park. They're just not complaining about it. They've adjusted to it and are playing winning baseball, but I've seen the frustration with the park in the stances and the looks of Padres hitters when they tag a ball only to see it caught in deep right or right center field.

It's good the players are no longer complaining about the park and that the team is playing winning baseball at home. Baseball at Petco Park is a joy to watch. Sure, it's not a slugfest but who wants that? Coors Field provides a slugfest and the game there is just one step above slow-pitch softball. Petco Park favors pitching, defense, and speed; three ingredients that make for exciting baseball. And that's what we're seeing down here in the lower left-corner of the United States this summer. Play ball!


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