Our beloved Brew.

Our beloved Brew.
R.I.P. Big guy.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Fr. Pflager: The Upsidedown Flagger

I want to make two points right at the start:
1. I believe Fr. Pflager has every right to fly his flag upside down. Let's not pretend the flag is exempt from use as a political statement. People wrap themselves in flags, burn flags and have demonstrated with it from its introduction. Why shouldn't he be afforded the same rights? While I fully respect their service and contribution, Veterans who are complaining that he is somehow insulting their effort have no greater claim to the flag than does any other American.
2. Children are being killed at an alarming rate, and if instead of bullets, it it was as a result of being hit with swine flu darts, the nation would be enraged and taking action.

I've dealt with Fr. Pflager and I have no respect for him. He is a showboat, self-serving, a media grandstander, and often seems more interested in getting his Pompadour on TV than leading meaningful action. Frankly, if any other pastor, or a more generally respected individual had hoisted their flag in this manner, I doubt there would be the level of outrage expressed by those who are opposed to his action. As usual, he shows his indignation, and bellows about injustice in America, but he has the equation as upside down as his flag.

He hangs the flag upside down, but offers no solution. He intends to keep the flag inverted until? Well, on his rounds of the radio stations today, he kind of stumbled through a vague response that didn't really answer the question. When asked exactly what action he'd like to see taken he blubbers and mutters some gibberish about "America protecting its children."
Why doesn't Fr. Pflager use his enormous community influence to identify real methods of ridding his community of drugs and gangs, which are the real causes of the violence?
Why is Fr. Pflager so reluctant to challenge the two real causes of despair in his community -- lack of personal responsibility and parental influence?
Father absence is the greatest social crisis we face in America, and it is no more evident than in Fr. Pflagers neighborhood. Why doesn't he instigate a campaign for men of his community to "man up" and take the responsibility they should for their children which includes discipline kids, teaching character and serving as good role models?
Why doesn't Fr. Pflager take responsibility for seeing that every child in his neighborhood is claimed and guarded by an adult male. Think of it as a "house by house" campaign to rid the neighborhood of any influence that tolerates illegal drugs, guns, gangs and violence. He doesn't do it, because he knows the majority of his community won't actively support it.

You see, while Fr. Pflager talks about kids dying all over America, the killings are essentially confined to the urban areas where fatherlessness, and father absence run at about 80-90%. In the state of IL as a whole, 35% of children are born without a father listed on their birth certificate. 40% of ALL children in the state of IL have no adult male in their household. These numbers skew most heavily toward the urban areas and speak to a lack of responsibility by the people in the very communities Fr. Pflager contends need America to wake up.

Want to stop the killing in your community Fr. Pflager? Teach adults not to make babies for which they are not willing to be active, daily parents. Teach parents to actively raise their children with high moral standards by setting a daily example for them. That would be real. Instead, Fr. Pflager would rather tilt the image upside down and blame "them" instead of us.

MLB - America's Tainted Pastime

Manny Ramirez of the LA Dodgers can add his name to the Baseball Hall of Shame. MLB and its brand reputation are fast approaching a point a no return. MLB = performance enhancing drugs (PED).

Can we all finally admit illegal drug use is as prevalent and ingrained in baseball (and maybe all of professional sports) as fighting is in hockey. Baseball and the players union will pat themselves on the back for testing for and "exposing" violations, but they will not do what is needed to seriously curtail drug use. The window of opportunity to characterize PED as a brief, ugly phase in the past is no longer credible. Front office people tsk-tsk, on-field managers hang their heads, and the commissioner's office cranks out statistics on how limited PED use is, and how vigilant they are in ferreting out the offenders. And still, the game is dirty.

The fact that MLB and the clean players have circled the wagons and allowed the union to protect offenders to the extent they have, means everyone in the game must now be considered suspect. Ramirez gets a 50 game suspension. So, while he forfeits around 8 million dollars of his mega contract this year, he's still eligible for the playoffs and a slew of related incentive clauses should the Dodgers qualify for postseason play. Ramirez will hardly miss the eight mil. At this point, he's got more money than he could ever spend. Fining a guy like him isn't a deterrent and far from the greatest damage being done.

At this point, no right-thinking brand can align with individual players as endorsers. Too many heroes have been unmasked. Even those players have submitted to and passed every conceivable drug test is a risk to consider as future endorsers. You can't have it both ways. Singing the praises of your teammate when the team is winning and then trying to distance yourself from a guy who is exposed as a PED user who occupies an adjoining locker only results in the old adage that people are judged by the friends they keep.

A faltering economy and the disenchantment fans feel toward players and the game may be creating the "perfect storm." Attendance, particularly in the "high roller" seats in the newer stadiums, is down. It's still spring, so it's not unusual to see lots of empty seats in MLB ballparks, but I contend the purity of the game, which has always had a mystical hold over fans, has been compromised so badly that those feeling the pinch of the economy most severely will find other ways entertain themselves and their children.

Talk to any group of young teen boys and you'll see the mystical fascination for the game, rabid support for individual players that once was a hallmark of baseball fans no longer exists. A generation exposed to graft and corruption in traditional sports has taken its pursuit of fantasy elsewhere.