The Buckeyes, And Rodney Dangerfield

Last night, Stanford beat Oregon.  That result caused the ESPN talking heads, and sports show commentators throughout the land, to start talking about whether Stanford should jump over undefeated Ohio State in the race to get to the BCS National Championship game.

Of course, such talk caused heads to explode throughout Buckeye Nation.  Loyal wearers of the Scarlet and Gray questioned how a one-loss team, which fell to 4-4 Utah, could possibly leap the undefeated Buckeyes.  They wondered why Ohio State — like Rodney Dangerfield — is getting no respect this year.

There are two obvious reasons.  First, everyone knows that the Big Ten, top to bottom, just isn’t that good.  Second — and at least equally important — the members of the sports talk show fraternity realize that controversy helps increase ratings.  They know that ardent Buckeye fans are easy to bait and quickly worked into a frenzy by the slightest sign of disrespect.  So, if you are a radio or TV sports show host who puts the two together, you know that dismissing the Buckeyes’ latest drubbing of a Big Ten opponent, followed by raves when Stanford beats Oregon or Baylor beats Oklahoma, is bound to get you some angry calls from loyal OSU fans.  And if you just want listeners, or readers, who cares whether they are agreeing with you or not?

I hope that the Buckeyes, unlike their fans, forget about the shows of disrespect and realize that there is nothing they can do other than win their game each week.  If Ohio State can beat Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan, and then topple, say, Michigan State in the Big Ten Conference Championship game, they’ve done all that they can do.  I’m betting that, if that happens, the Buckeyes won’t have to worry about getting respect from the media.  Instead, they’ll be worrying about how they can win that National Championship game for a change.

My New Walk In To Work

IMG_1591After my old parking garage was abruptly condemned by the City of Columbus, I had to find a new workday resting spot for my car — not an easy proposition when 400 or so other parkers also were unexpectedly thrust into the market for an immediately available parking space.

Thanks to a tip and the generosity of a friend, I found a reasonably priced outdoor spot near my office.  As a result, I now walk down Gay Street for two and a half blocks to get to work.  It’s a longer, but much prettier and more interesting walk than I had before, and I’m enjoying it.  There are more pedestrians, and the walk takes me past some of the nice new residential units along Gay Street.  The units are different in design and feature attractive trees, trim landscaping, and even a fountain.  Walking the same way to work, at about the same time each workday morning, makes me feel like part of the neighborhood, and I’m already starting to recognize some of the same faces that are out and about at that hour.

What used to be a trotting jaywalk across a busy thoroughfare has become a stimulating stroll that helps to get me ready for work.

To Each His Own Reality

This week there were gubernatorial elections in New Jersey and Virginia.  Voters went to the polls, cast their ballots, and there were winners and losers.  Right?

Not so fast!  Apparently the number of actual votes received by candidates don’t tell the real story — at least, according to the losing party.

In New Jersey, Republican Chris Christie won a crushing victory in a traditionally Democratic state.  Yes, but, the Democrats say, Christie is not a Tea Party Republican and the vote for him actually should be interpreted as a rebuke to Tea Party extremism.  In Virginia, Democrat Terry McAuliffe took back a governorship that had been in the hands of the GOP.  Yes, but, the Republicans say, his opponent turned an apparent landslide into a close contest in the weeks after the problems with the Affordable Care Act hit the news, and the vote really should be seen as a repudiation of “Obamacare.”  It’s silly, of course, to try to extrapolate the results of state elections, which often turn on state-specific scandals and superstorms, into some kind of national Rorschach test.  Clearly, though, nobody apparently accepts a loss as a loss anymore; every bad election result just provides a platform for spin, excuses, and sketchy rationalizations.

It’s one thing to take that approach with election results, but quite another to apply it to functioning government programs.  Republicans see the troubled Healthcare.gov website as yet another example of catastrophic governmental hubris and ineptitude, Democrats say Republicans should accept some of the blame because they have stoutly opposed the Affordable Care Act at every turn.  The parties have radically different views of the meaning of governmental debt, whether the economy is performing poorly or well, what constitutes poverty or need for governmental assistance, and countless other topics.

How are these people supposed to reach agreement on anything if they don’t seem to even occupy the same frame of reference?  To paraphrase a classic line originally directed at Cliff Clavin on Cheers:  “Republicans and Democrats, what color is the sky in your world?”