By contrast, the second baseman who struck out to send the Dominican Republican home on Saturday was the Washington Nationals new prima donna, Alfonso Soriano, who went 0 for 12 in the WBC and seems intent on becoming the first major league star to sit out the season because his new team wants him to play a position where it won't matter as much that he can't catch the ball.
Attention, Michael Lewis—your whole Moneyball theory may be in jeopardy. Lewis wrote a best seller about the general manager of the Oakland Athletics, Billy Beane, who believes statistics like on-base percentage are the key to a small-market team's success. So far, the A's haven't made it past the playoffs on that theory. Now Fidel Castro is on the brink of a world championship with players who earn 20 pesos a month. Apparently, the key for small-market teams like Oakland and Pittsburgh is to find an aging totalitarian owner who'll fill players' heads with Marxist-Leninist nonsense.
Of course, there could be other explanations—for example, while major leaguers are still working off their winter flab, the Cuban players are already in shape. In the height of the Cold War, we used to envy the steroid-riddled physiques of East German Olympic teams. Now that international competitions have stricter anti-doping rules than the United States, the needle is on the other cheek—our steroid-riddled physiques have to stay home instead.
Tonight, it's up to Japan to go to bat for freedom. George Bush and Karl Rove will have their rally caps on, praying for a Japanese victory. If those Cuban revolutionaries win, that choking sound coming out of the president's quarters won't be from a pretzel. ... 6:16 P.M. (link)
Thursday, Mar. 16, 2006
43 Winks: Nobody ever promised them a Rose Garden, but for the Bush White House, it's been a tough year. The vice president shot a senior citizen. The domestic policy adviser faces up to 30 years on felony theft charges for applying Bush's economic policy at a box store. The White House pastry chef left after just 18 months to work for a more reputable outfit: a casino chain in Atlantic City and Las Vegas.
Nervous Republicans, who thought nothing could be worse than 2005, are increasingly desperate for a White House shakeup in 2006. Sen. Norm Coleman threw down the gauntlet on Tuesday, accusing a White House that thinks about politics 24/seven of having a political "tin ear."
Bush aides offer a more sympathetic excuse: They're bushed. "We're all burned out," a White House official told Peter Baker of the Washington Post. "People are just tired." Chief of Staff Andrew Card sets the pace by waking up every morning at 4:20. If he got up any earlier, the president's approval might fall below 30 percent.
When Press Secretary Scott McClellan was asked whether the Bush team was tired, he reportedly "joked" that he was "tired of some of the questions." But according to Baker, the staff's condition is serious: "While there are few stories of aides nodding off in meetings, some duck outside during the day so the fresh air will wake them up." All this time we've worried about terrorists—and now we learn the nation has been taken over by zombies.
Then again, why is the Bush crowd so tired? In five years, they haven't done much. Cheney misfired on the last day of vacation. If the charges against him are true, Claude Allen spent more time in the Target parking lot over the past few months than my former White House colleague Gene Sperling spent outdoors in eight years.
Wake Up, Little Bushie: There's only one good explanation for Bushie fatigue, and Stephanie Saul of the New York Times has the answer: Ambien. Last week, Saul reported on the remarkable phenomenon of driving while asleep. All over the country, people apparently have taken the drug Ambien before bed, then proceeded to sleepwalk to their cars and sleep-drive into the nearest ditch. A Colorado woman "got into her car wearing only a thin nightshirt in 20-degree weather, had a fender bender, urinated in the middle of an intersection, then became violent with police officers." A parole officer in South Carolina woke up in jail after going on a joy ride in his sleep.