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It was 80 degrees here last week

And nothing’s worse than waking up to this! Snow on April 18. Snow less than a week after short sleeves weather. Snow just 160 miles from sunny skies and 70 degree weather in Indianapolis.

Why do we live here?

Another $10 million arm, $.10 head

Mike Leake was supposed to be one of the Cincinnati Reds’ top young pitchers, an ace in the making. Strangely, he was shut down in the last month of last year to preserve his fragile rookie arm. Whatever, Leake was expected to come back and take a prominent spot in the rotation.

Leake is 2-0 so far this year for the Reds, but the news out of Cincy makes me wonder what his future will be.

Leake stole six shirts from Macy’s. The value of the shirts was less than $60.00. Leake makes $425,000, which makes him a relative pauper in the Major Leagues, but quite comfortable in this country.

Since the first bonus baby was signed, we’ve heard of pitchers with “Million Dollar Arms and Ten Cent Heads.” They get the tag for different reasons.

Take a look at another pitcher, a right-hander who as far I know is not a felon. Jake Peavy has been on the comeback trail since last year’s gruesome injury. He pitched lights out in spring training and then admitted he felt some shoulder discomfort all along. The White Sox put him on the disabled list and had him continue to rehab in Arizona before sending him on a few rehab stints in the minors.

His first two starts went swimmingly. He pitched well, and he reported no disomfort.

His third start was tonight. Peavy didn’t last 15 pitches. Shoulder discomfort. While I know that Peavy desperately wants to return to the Major League mound, he hasn’t done himself any favors by being less than honest with the Sox trainers. For his sake, I hope his $0.10 head doesn’t devalue his $10 million arm.

A few pointed questions for the NBA

I watched the last three minutes of the Bulls’ 104-99 win over Indiana in Game One of the first round of the NBA Playoffs. The Pacers outplayed the Bulls for the first 47 minutes, by all accounts, but the Bulls were able to pull off the win. I expect a sweep.

However, the whole scenario sucks.

The Bulls won 62 games in the regular season, yet they have to screw around with a team that finished 25 games behind them during an 82-game season?

I suppose it’s a reward to the Bulls, who would rather spend the first round playing a near-lottery team than anyone else. But why not a bye? Should the Pacers win a seven-game series, what does it day about the integrity of the NBA regular season?

The NBA and NHL are the biggest offenders by allowing 16 teams. But the NFL’s system allowed a 7-9 team (Seattle) to make the playoffs last year. And they won a playoff game, beating the defending Super Bowl champs.

In baseball, a wild card team can beat the champion from its own division in the league championship series. Then again, baseball’s schedule has enough problems with balance.

The regular season should mean something — enough that a team that has proven itself so bad should not get an equal chance at beating a 60-win team in a playoff series.

I know why they do this. Same reason as they do anything else: money. So, if they want to keep the expanded playoffs, how about this modest proposal:

If the difference in seeds is more than three, then the better team needs to win just three. The team with the worse seed needs to win four.

Time to Pull the Plug?

Steve Carrell’s swan song as Michael Scott onThe Office is just two weeks away. Last night, Will Ferrell starred as Scott’s replacement, DeAngelo Vickers. Ferrell agreed to do four episodes, so he is signed up to appear on the Carrell farewell episode (April 28) as well as the first post-Carrell show (May 5). A number of other names, including Ray Romano and Ricky Gervais are also expected to appear on the office. all are rumored to be possible replacements.

After watching last night’s episode stumble through without putting any of Ferrell’s strengths on display, nor giving the audience any sustained laughs, I can’t help but ask: why continue the series?

What other things will The Office cover in lampooning office life and tying together a story going into its eighth season? The company has been sold and now sells a totally different flagship product. Jim and Pam got married and had a child. The Dwight Schrute-Angela storyline has played out. What other stories can the show possibly tell, and how can it do it without getting so outrageous that it barely resembles the mundane ridiculousness of office life many of us can relate to?

If the writers can answer that question, great. I’ll give them a shot, but a series that produces episodes simply because it hasn’t yet been canceled but has nothing to offer the audience is as embarrassing as WIllie Mays stumbling in the outfield for the Mets. At least Mays got a game-winning hit in the 1973 World Series (he lined a base hit up through the box off of Rollie Fingers in the 12th inning of Game 2; bet you didn’t know that).

If only I could be the government

It’s tough around here. I’ve picked up some expenses, with a new house two years ago, a child last year, some unexpected maintenance this past year, and now some inflation. Yet, I manage to keep the household above water. I do this in spite of lacking two things that certainly would help:

  • The ability to force involuntary payment to me.
  • The ability to print money
The state of Illinois can do the first, and the federal government can do both. With both governments facing an explosion of entitlement spending soon — and already huge debts — our executive leadership has opted to force me to pay more.
So I go my merry way making changes in the way we spend money. We cut back where we can and we have no choice but for it to be enough. Making more money is attractive, but it’s never guaranteed. The only thing you can really guarantee is how much you spend.
And so it goes with tax receipts. We raise taxes and project what economic activity (which more taxation will necessarily discourage) will generate what income. And then we hope the projections pan out. Meanwhile, we haven’t done anything to confront two of our largest economic problems: productivity and inflation.
This year, Paul Ryan came up with a serious budget plan that contains serious spending cuts. These are hard choices as they will affect more than half the electorate. President Obama responded with an unserious speech that seeks to bring income taxes last seen more than a decade ago.
Whose budget will be more successful?