Much of my family members and close friends know that a big chunk of my childhood was spent in my room reading and studying baseball stats.  I was always fascinated by statistical leaders and award winners, but nothing fascinated me more than the triple crowns.  The triple crown in hitting is awarded to the player who leads the league in Batting Average, Homeruns, and Runs Batted In.  While the triple crown of pitching is when a pitcher leads the league in Wins, Strikeouts, and Earned Run Average.

So why is this important and where do the Dodgers come in?  Well I have always been a die-hard Dodgers fan, so 2011 has been a tough pill to swallow, however we might have quite a significant silver lining.  In the past 50 years, only 11 pitchers have won the pitching triple crown, and only two have won the hitting triple crown.  Never in the history of baseball, have two teammates won the pitching and hitting triple crown in the same season.  In 2011 history can be made with in this legendary franchise that I hold so dear.  Let’s take a quick look at the players who can make this infamous season historic.

mlb.com

Clayton Kershaw 

ERA – 2.27 FIRST (Next closest pitcher  Cliff Lee – 2.38)
Strikeouts – 242 FIRST (Next closest pitcher Cliff Lee – 232)
Wins – 20 FIRST tied (Tied with Ian Kennedy at 20)

Of the 11 pitchers to win the triple crown in the last 50 years, one person has done it three times, and that is Dodger great Sandy Koufax.  Each of those three seasons, Sandy was awarded the Cy Young Award.  Kershaw should have one more start before the season’s end, and so should Kennedy.  I am sure each of the players know how huge of a game this is for Clayton and I am confident the team will go out and make it happen for the young 23-year-old left hander.  (Koufax was 28 when he won his first triple crown.)

Matt Kemp  -Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers 2009

Matt Kemp

HR’s – 36 SECOND  (1 HR behind Albert Pujols with 37)
RBI’s – 118 FIRST  (Next closest hitter Ryan Howard with 113)
BA – .326 THIRD  (.004 behind the leader Ryan Braun with .330)

This is the long shot, but I think Matt Kemp thrives on these types of challenges.  Where Clayton Kershaw has dominated as a pitcher, and is the leading candidate for the NL Cy Young.  Kemp has dominated as a hitter and may not see the rewards that Kershaw will.  Burried under all the numbers, Kemp also has the potential to make history on another level.  He has six games to hit 4 homeruns.  If he can accomplish this, he will be the 5th player in baseball history to hit 40 Homeruns and steal 40 bases.  Getting to 40 homeruns will also lock up his MVP season, as well as probably give him the numbers he needs to win the triple crown.  There are a lot of what if’s, but Kemp not only has the talent, but he does have the personality and swagger to accomplish this.

Taken by SouthernCall88  (Kevin) via Flickr

So how does this effect the Dodgers and their fans?

We Dodger fans are a prideful bunch.  We take pride in all aspects of the Dodgers.  From Chavez Ravine, the Dodger Dog, and Vin Scully to Nancy Bea Hafley, Tommy Lasorda, and the number 42.  The 2011 season was sabotaged by an owner who found it better to spend money on a ridiculously lavish lifestyle, then secure the future of his franchise.  MLB has stepped in but the future is up in the air.  Right now the 2011 season is seen in the baseball community as a joke.

What I feel we as Dodger fans must take out of this season is the fact that despite Frank McCourt turning his back on us, and Dodger fans returning the favor.  Two Dodger players have never swayed in their support of the jersey they wear on their back.  So when a Giants fan tells you 2011 was a joke for the Dodgers.  You can say, “Our owner was a joke, but two triple crowns, 40/40, a MVP, and a  CY Young is a bit more than your Giants did.”

-Randy Shoemaker

Today we celebrate Mexican Independence, but how independent was Mexico after their Declaration of Independence (Which was actually made 10 years later after a decade of war with Spain). 

Zapatista Landscape

Much like the United States with England, Mexico was populated and culturally changed by the Spanish.  The language of Mexico was Spanish, and the names of the Mexican people became Spanish as well.  I am a shining example (my mother’s maiden name is Rodriguez).  Essentially, what the Mexican Independence accomplished was to keep Spanish rule away from the Spanish landowners in Mexico.  Do you honestly think the indigenous population of Mexico saw significant change after this Declaration of Independence?

This is what makes the actions and leadership of Francisco Madero, Emiliano Zapata, and Francisco Villa so important.  Shortly after Mexico gained its Independence, the “presidency” was in disarray until Benito Juarez took over in 1867.  Culminating in the presidency of Porfirio Diaz 1876-1911, also know as the Porfiriato.  The Porfiriato was seen as a “Golden Era” of Mexico for all of the Hacendados, or the rich Spanish Hacienda owners.  Mexico thrived, but to what expense.  Much of the money received by the Mexican Government was through European interest.  Mexico essentially was mortgaging its future economic stability to Europe as well as the United States. 

So who paid the price?  Not the landowners.. rather the people who worked the land.  The Mexican workers and indigenous population were the true losers in Mexico’s Independence from Spain. 

How could I say such a thing???  Easy, the workers and indigenous populations of Mexico fought hard for Mexico to gain it independence, yet when all was said and done, the workers were still being treated unjust and worked the haciendas under indentured servitude.  These rich landowners who were granted their freedom from Spanish rule, ruled over their land much like the Spanish ruled over Mexico.  If you worked the land, you future was set, you had no chance to better your life or your children’s life.

To me, Mexico’s independence came in 1908 when a man named Francisco Madero, published a book titled La sucesión presidencial en 1910 (The Presidential Succession of 1910).  In this book Madero chastised the Porfiriato for their treatment of Yaqui indians, repression of the workers, and the centralization of power to the office of the president.  This book led to what would be called The Mexican Revolution.  In my opinion, however, this book led to what I feel was the Mexican People’s Independence from Foriegn Land Owners.  An independence that led to opportunity from many who never had a chance.  I know things in Mexico are not the best right now, but had the workers and indigenous people not been protected, things would be much worse.  Just my opinion…

 

Preface

There has been debate year after year as to the significance of Cinco de Mayo and why it has been celebrated so heavily in the United States, not just by Mexican Americans, but by the U.S. population in general.  Mexican Historians and just plain people “in the know” become frustrated at the ignorance of many who believe that Cinco de Mayo symbolizes the Mexican Revolution.  I am writing this to provide a brief history lesson as to the truth of Cinco de Mayo, and why its significance may be just as important if not more important to the history of the United States as it is to the history of Mexico.

What Took Place on Cinco De Mayo?

First things first, the date of May 5, 1862 does not mark the date of the Mexican Revolution.  Rather the date signifies an epic battle between a grossly under manned and under armed Mexican Army (apprx. 4,000 troops) led by Ignacio Zaragosa and the highly touted and “Undefeated” French Army (approx. 6-8,000 troops) sent by Napoleon III to seek payment for a debt owed from a financially bankrupt Mexican Government.

The battle is known as “La Batalla de Puebla.”  The French troops had marched all the way from Veracruz and were intent on taking over Mexico City and installing their own Monarch to reign and control Mexico with a watchful French eye.  At this point they were met by the Zaragosa led army in the city of Puebla.  The French were defeated in one of the biggest military upsets ever, and the rest is history…  Right?

What many people do not know is that the French returned in a year’s time to successfully overthrow the Mexican Government and install Emperor Maximilian of Hapsburg as its reigning monarch.  Who four years later was booted out by a returning Benito Juarez.

How A Small Mexican Army May Have Saved the Future of the United States

Many people are aware of the British involvement to help the Confederates during the Civil War.  However, what a lot of people do not realize is that France had an equal hand in the matter.  You see had the United States been split in half.  Countries like England and France would have had a greater chance at capturing the wealth that was the United States.

Let’s go back a little further so we can see where Mexico comes into play.  After a devastating loss to the United States during the Mexican-American War (1846-1848), in which Mexico would lose half of its land to the United States, the country would be thrown into an economic crisis that would last throughout the 1850’s.

By the time 1961 came about, Benito Juarez saw the state of affairs in Mexico and decided that the country would no longer pay its debtors, due to its suffocating financial situation.  Much of the debt owed by Mexico was to France.  Napoleon III saw his opportunity.

Napoleon III sent his indestructible army to Mexico to secure payment.  Another little know point, is that Napoleon III saw this as a perfect opportunity to establish a base of support for the struggling Confederate forces in the south.  He clearly underestimated the pride and stubbornness of Mexico’s troops.  After being defeated at Puebla, Napoleon’s troops retreated back to France and were not heard from for another year.

In this year’s time, the French were unable to aid the Southern Colonies like they had hoped.  Fourteen months after La Batalla de Puebla, in 1863 the Northern United States forces would crush the Confederate troops at Gettysburg and the tide of the Civil War would never turn to the Confederate’s favor.  Four months later Abraham Lincoln would make his famous address, and a year and half after, the American Civil War would officially be over.  And as they say… The rest is history.

Circumstantial? Maybe… Far Fetched? I Think Not!

Clearly it is a reach to say that a small Mexican Army could have changed the way the American Civil War panned out.  What I have written here is not to take away anything that was accomplished by our Northern troops during this war.  However, what I would hope to accomplish, is for people to think about why they celebrate events such as Cinco de Mayo and St. Patrick’s Day, to name a couple.  These are not just reasons to hit the bar and get drunk.  Rather, it’s a time to celebrate the accomplishments of others, whether directly or indirectly, who may have had a hand in changing our lives for the better.  So when you’re at the bar pounding your Mexican beer, or taking a shot of Tequila, stop and make a toast to the memory of the troops at Puebla.  Their sacrifices may have provided you with more than just a reason to party.

-Randy Shoemaker

Every year around Christmas time you get to hear the song “Do They Know its Christmas” played all over the radio and stores throughout the world.  What many people don’t know is who, in fact, co-wrote the song that would help spearhead a movement that gave hope and promise to an area of the world in dire need.

And in our world of plenty we can spread a smile of joy, Throw your arms around the world at Christmas Time. -Do They Know Its Christmas 

That person is Bob Geldof, Irish singer song writer of the Boomtown Rats.  In addition to having several hits like “Rat Trap”,”I Don’t Like Mondays”, and “Banana Republic”, Geldof also made a name for himself by playing Pink in Pink Floyd the Wall in 1982.

But why, “The Irony of Bob Geldof”?  Well for me, I knew who the Boomtown Rats were before I knew of Bob Geldof.  To me, the Boomtown Rats were a great punk band who transformed to a more pop inspired sound like many of their counterparts when the 80′s came around.  However, through their handful of hits, my favorite song of theirs to this day is ” Looking After #1.” 

The world owes me a living
I’ve waited on this dole queue too long
I’ve been standin’ in the rain for fifteen minutes
That’s a quarter of an hour too long.

I’ll take all they can give me
And then I’m gonna ask for more
Cos the money’s buried deep in the bank of England
And I want the key to the vault

CHORUS:
I’m gonna take your money
Count your loss when I’m gone.
I’m alright, Jack,
I’m lookin’ after number one.

If I want something I get it
Don’t matter what I have to do
I’ll step on your face, on your mother’s grave
Never underestimate me I’m nobody’s fool

(repeat chorus)

Don’t wanna be like you.
Don’t wanna live like you.
Don’t wanna talk like you, at all.

Don’t give me love thy neighbour
Don’t give me charity
Don’t give me peace and love or the good lord above
You only get in my way with your stupid ideas

I am an island
Entire of myself
And when I get old, older than today
I’ll never need anybody’s help in any way.

(repeat chorus)

Don’t wanna be like you.
Don’t wanna live like you.
Don’t wanna talk like you, at all.

I’m gonna be like
I’m gonna be like
I’m gonna be like ME!

The irony for me lies in the transformation of a man who started a successful band in 1977 with a song titled “Looking After #1″ and reached his zenith with a song that spured perhaps the greatest amount of generosity the world has ever seen.  Since we are at Christmas Time… my gift to you is the Irony of Bob Geldof…  Enjoy!!!

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