Baseball, Apple Pie, and Poli-Tricks

Hot Air in the Midwest and Out West

<b>TAKE A LOOK:</b> Apollo Cadiente browses in the Santa Barbara Central Library’s newly reopened Children’s Library.
Paul Wellman

HOT AIR: While the fate of the nation is being decided, sort of, in the 90-degree heat of Iowa’s State Fair, we might thank Helene Schneider and Salud Carbajal for not spoiling our blissful summer by blasting us (so far) with the hot air of politics.

Barney Brantingham

It’s been a quiet summer, politics-wise. But come Labor Day picnic speeches, it should get hotter.

In my half-century covering local politics, I can’t recall the last time two prominent local Democrats battled hand-to-hand for a seat in Congress. While Lois Capps reigned in the House, it would have been heresy to challenge “the nicest person in Congress.” But now that she’s announced her retirement at the end of the term, anyone can pile on. But why either 1st District Supervisor Carbajal or Santa Barbara Mayor Schneider want to face being pummeled by a House dominated by Republicans, I can’t imagine.

Whichever wins would probably be assigned a basement broom-closet-sized desk equipped only with a hard chair, a rotary phone, and maybe a dial-up computer. (If Republicans Katcho Achadjian or Justin Fareed win, the GOP might cut the freshmen a little slack.)

So why are Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and a swarm of other presidential candidates climbing hay bales to eat apple pie and harangue the Iowans — and a swarm of journos? Because their state has the first 2016 primary, though not a real primary as we know democracy. In Iowa they stage caucuses, where the locals get together. (What happens next is actually too complicated to explain.) So what if Iowa only chooses one percent of the national convention delegates? Iowa’s first, by golly.

DESAL LAND: Now that the Santa Barbara City Council has okayed desalination, the chief local talk is about the residential monstrosity now rising in Goleta on Hollister Avenue at Storke Road, abutting the railroad tracks. Units should come with earplugs and vibration meters.

Not only is the “village” project hugely ugly, but it also comes at a time when the Goleta Water District keeps issuing water-use restrictions. What? The explanation I get is that the project meets the general plan and was approved by an earlier City Council.

But aside from the water issue, the question is whether such a massive mountain of grisly overdevelopment should have been approved in the first place. What were they thinking?

BOOKED FOR KIDS: I toured the just-opened Santa Barbara Library Children’s Library and wished I’d had something like it way back when. (Chicago was not big on books.) The entire lower level is a wonderland of a zillion books, kid-sized tables, and reading nooks. I found a row of computers for older children and others with touch screens for smaller kids. My great-granddaughter Brianna was one of the first to open a book in this citadel of happy reading, palace of pages, and royal court of computers.

SECOND-BEST TEAM? Reading Molly Knight’s new book about the Dodgers, I wondered why they called it The Best Team Money Can Buy. According to statistics (and how baseball loves its numbers), that title should go to the (gasp!) St. Louis Cardinals. Not only have the Cards soundly whipped the Dodgers in the last two playoffs, humiliating the “best pitcher on the planet,” Clayton Kershaw, but with half the Dodgers’ obscene payroll.

This season, as the Boys in Blue struggle to stay in first place in the National League West, the cheapskate NL Central Cards again stand in their way for the playoffs — and with a better win-loss record (75-42) as of this writing, compared with the Dodgers’ 67-51. Knight’s book is a good read, full of locker-room gossip and stuff about how the Guggenheim investors paid $2.5 billion for what she calls “a glorified fixer-upper.”

Thanks to a $8.35 billion TV contract (Cox isn’t showing Dodger games in Santa Barbara, and curses to Cox!), the new owners are throwing money around like drunken sailors, buying sore-armed pitchers and making multimillionaires of poor kids on Caribbean islands.

That said, I bought tickets to the game on Sunday, August 30, against my ex, the once-beloved Chicago Cubs. Son Barclay and daughter Wendy and I blew major money to eat Dodger dogs in seats somewhere behind home plate. If the former Trolley Dodgers of Brooklyn won’t come to us via the tube, we’ll go to them. And we’ll be cheering for them to whip the Cubs, Cards, and anyone in the World Series. Bring on the Yanks.


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