While waiting for the madness of March

Several things to chew on while waiting for that annual siege of national lunacy called “March Madness” to pass like some unpleasant weather system. Seems like something of an honor to have this region effectively snubbed by the silly business. It’s something we ought to be proud of, I’d say, while not expecting many to agree.


Sox tears?

Watch for the Red Sox to heavily bemoan their junket to Japan should they encounter early season problems. When the Yankees had a less arduous Japan gig a couple of years ago it messed them up for six weeks forcing them to struggle the rest of the season just to make the playoffs. When they whined about it, Red Sox Nation snickered. Now they get to be on the receiving end of the snickers.

Boston’s marketing mission has been gravely compounded by other dumb arrangements made by Major League baseball. The Red Sox effectively start the season with an 18-day road trip spread over three countries and a half dozen time zones. That’s ridiculous. They are sure to pay a price.

Congratulations should be extended to Pitcher Beckett for his strategic timing in coming up with an aching back (already much improved) to get off the hook. If I’m a cynic it’s because I’ve been watching ballplayers concoct such artful dodges too long. You can get away with it when you’re the ace. Tears for the poor pets should be minimal. Remember they’re getting $40,000 apiece as a bonus for simply going along for the ride. What a great country.

The winter gladiators

A year ago we were bemoaning the abominable state of our winter games. Now we have the Celtics approaching the NBA playoffs as odds-on favorites to go all the way while the Bruins, with conspicuous valor, hang doggedly to a post-season berth.

Add to that the likelihood that Kevin Garnett, who has transformed the Celtics in a single season, as only the likes of Bill Russell and Larry Bird have been able to do, will be the NBA’s MVP. Is there a better choice?

Even more improbably, Zdeno Chara stands a strong chance of winning the Norris Trophy citing the NHL’s best defenseman. If his first season in Boston was disappointing, the massive Czech has more than redeemed himself. On his health, worn down by a grueling load of ice time, rest the Bruins’ chances. It will be close.

Defending Roger

May I ask, what’s wrong with the request to the government by Congressman Charles Weiner to dispense with the further investigation of Roger Clemens in the ongoing steroid fiasco? Weiner, a New York Democrat who has fancied being mayor of Gotham, was widely derided by media wiseguys as a grandstanding pol. As if defending Clemens were actually a popular thing for a politician to do.

But his logic is solid, in my book. He argues that Clemens has already suffered more than enough and I agree. You have to be a hard-hearted character to really believe that having his reputation ruined, his legacy destroyed, the whole world believe him to be a cheat and a liar, plus the probable loss of a Hall of Fame berth, along with tens of millions of bucks of earning power is not enough of a price to pay for committing indiscretions that we all know hundreds of other athletes have committed without paying any price.

But Weiner makes an even better point when he questions the ferocity of the Justice Department’s avowed goal of bagging Clemens for deceiving Congress. “Have they nothing better to do?” he effectively asks. Justice has put its two toughest and most tenacious hound-dogs on the Clemens case. “Have they no bigger fish to fry?” Weiner effectively wonders. How does Roger Clemens qualify as Public Enemy Number One?

Clemens has been ruined. He’ll end up as the “Lord Jim” of Baseball, a pathetic outcast. Enough already. If all of that doesn’t satisfy your loathing for the man, you need to get a life. Of all the politicians who have sought to fatten up at the expense of baseball in this steroids fiasco, Congressman Weiner has made the most sense.

The czar’s hypocrisy

You would think it would be awkward for Baseball Czar Bud Selig to sit in judgment of the monstrous salaries awarded players given his own obscene wages, but he manages it gracefully. Selig, the quintessential small market owner at heart, privately seethes at the ludicrous spending of his fellow lodge brothers (and sometimes, not so “privately”). He’s been known to vent at owners who go overboard and he finds ways to punish those who do. Hello there, Clan Steinbrenner.

But he bats not an eyelash at drawing an annual salary of precisely $14,515,071, and fast rising. Under Good old Bud’s watch, the commissioner’s annual earnings have multiplied about seven-fold. Now that, is truly ludicrous. Doubtless he would argue that he still makes less than Chan Ho Pak, who averages about seven wins a season although only when he feels able to pitch. Bud should be reminded that two abominations don’t make a right.

Elsewhere on the hypocrisy beat

American sports lovers do enjoy looking down on those lowbrow European and South American soccer fans who simply don’t know how to behave at a contest. But researchers at the University of Colorado offer evidence that American College football fans may be just as bad, or even -- given the context -- worse. Their findings, passed on in this month’s Atlantic Monthly, are based on a five-year study of crime data from police stations in 26 college/university towns.

They reveal that hostile behavior routinely rises after home football games and goes through the roof after upsets, with wins being even more hazardous than losses. They claim disorderly conduct arrests increase by a stunning 93 percent after upset victories. Leading crimes of choice are assault, vandalism and DUI. And they emphasize the problem is “entirely driven” by incredible quantities of booze. Buckle down, Winooski!

The political business of sports

And here is another borrowed item that might have eluded your attention. It’s from the not exactly mainstream but highly authoritative “Sports Business Journal” and it concerns the presidential campaign donations of high-powered sports luminaries.

Leading the Boston sporting moguls who have donated to the Clinton campaign, you may be surprised to hear, is Charlie Jacobs, rising power in the Bruins galaxy having been installed by Daddy Dearest. Young Charles is close to the maximum personal donation of $2,300. Larry Lucchino, Prime Minister of the Red Sox, is into the senator’s cause for a grand.

The Jacobs Family is also high on Barack Obama. Daddy Jeremy has contributed $2,000. Wyc Grousbeck, a Celtics owner, and Tom Werner of the Red Sox triumvirate edge him out $2,300. Grousbeck hedged his bets. He also ponied up $2,300 for the ill-fated Mitt Romney cause, as did his fellow Mormon, GM Danny Ainge.

The Kraft’s would appear to be solidly Republican. Both Owner Bob and his aide de camp, son Jonathan, poured $2,300 down the Romney memory hole. Bob Kraft balanced his bets, contributing a like amount to Senator John McCain. The biggest losers -- you will be pleased to hear -- are the Yankees. George Steinbrenner, who is an old hand at this stuff, came up with $4,600 while Randy Levine and Brian Cashman parted with $2,300 each. All of it was wasted on long-gone Rudy Giuliani, a longtime family friend and the most spectacular presidential bust of the political season.

It seemed something of a surprise to find nothing coming from Curt Schilling, who is reputedly considering a mission to save us politically once he is done sacrificing himself for the good of the national pastime. But then no active athletes were on the list. What does it prove? Nothing! Although I remain a bit surprised that the Jacobs boys are Democrats.

Apostolic visitor outlines plans for expansion at Medjugorje shrine

WARSAW, Poland (CNS) -- The Polish archbishop tasked with overseeing Bosnia-Herzegovina's Medjugorje shrine has outlined plans for expansion, including ...

Pope names administrator as Indian bishop investigated for alleged rape

MUMBAI, India (CNS) -- Pope Francis has accepted the request of an Indian bishop accused of raping a nun to be relieved of his duties during the investigation. In ...

In letters to German cardinal, retired pope defends way he stepped down

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Retired Pope Benedict XVI expressed his displeasure with the way a German cardinal publicly criticized his stepping down as pontiff, ...

Thousands of Hispanics expected in Texas for Encuentro summit

Fort Worth, Texas, Sep 20, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- As many as 3,000 Catholics of Hispanic background are expected in Texas this week for the National V Encuentro, ...

Media reporting Vatican-China agreement could be signed in late September

HONG KONG (CNS) -- The long-awaited Sino-Vatican agreement on the nomination of bishops is expected to be signed in September, reported several media ...

Church plans third-party abuse reporting system, code of conduct

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pledging to "heal and protect with every bit of the strength God provides us," the U.S. bishops' Administrative Committee Sept. 19 ...

Be grateful to parents, never insult them, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Honoring mothers and fathers means being grateful for the gift of life and Christians should never insult anyone's parents, Pope ...

Canadian cardinal: Women should help screen, train priest applicants

Poznan, Poland, Sep 18, 2018 CNA.- Increasing the role of women in screening and training priests is among the steps that should be taken to prevent future ...

Vatican delegation will travel to China this month to finalize agreement, Chinese newspaper reports

Beijing, China, Sep 18, 2018 CNA.- A newspaper tied to the Chinese Communist Party reported Tuesday that a delegation of Vatican officials will head to ...

Cardinal Marx says mistakes were made, calls for change in German church

Cardinal Reinhard Marx, head of the German bishops' conference, admitted that mistakes were made in the German church's handling of sex abuse of minors ...

Church crisis response: Healing Masses, listening sessions, fasting

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In response to the sexual abuse crisis in the church, Catholics are praying for victims, talking about their frustration and anger, ...

Pope names Minnesota priest as auxiliary bishop of Hartford

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pope Francis has appointed Father Juan M. Betancourt, a priest in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, as auxiliary bishop ...

Listening church: Pope gives new vision for Synod of Bishops

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Synod of Bishops increasingly should be a structure for listening to the Catholic faithful, demonstrating a local bishop's concern ...

Director of Courage releases letter on Penn. abuse report

Washington D.C., Sep 17, 2018 CNA.- Courage International, an apostolate to support people with same sex-attraction in leading chaste lives, has issued ...

Richmond bishop apologizes to victims; commits to opening, reviewing files

RICHMOND, Va. (CNS) -- In celebrating the Diocese of Richmond's first Mass of Atonement for victims of abuse Sept. 14, Bishop Barry C. Knestout apologized ...

Stanford University to remove saint's name from some properties

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- California's Stanford University will strip the name of 18th-century Franciscan friar, St. Junipero Serra, from some of its properties ...

Catholic Charities distributes disaster relief to areas hit by Florence

RALEIGH, N.C. (CNS) -- The Carolinas were hard hit with record rainfall and flooding rivers from tropical storm Florence since it made landfall Sept. ...

Archbishop Lori assures diocese he's with them in journey toward healing

WHEELING, W.Va. (CNS) -- In his celebration of Mass at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Wheeling Sept. 15, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore said ...

Bishop takes a (sky) dive to get pilgrims to Lourdes

HOVE, England (CNS) -- "The Moth has landed," tweeted the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton. The tweet Sept. 14 and a similar post on the diocesan Facebook ...

Words, promises are not enough to prevent abuse, archbishop says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Inviting presidents of the world's bishops' conference to the Vatican to discuss abuse prevention reflects an understanding that ...

Pope praises Capuchin order's charism of authenticity, simplicity

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Capuchins are called to be men of peace, reconciliation and prayer and to be close to all people, Pope Francis told members of the ...

Path to healing starts with seeking forgiveness, Cardinal Wuerl says

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A "Season of Healing" for sexual abuse survivors began in the Archdiocese of Washington with a Sept. 14 Mass at the Cathedral of St. ...

Archbishop McCarrick's unofficial role in Vatican-China relations

Vatican City, Sep 17, 2018 CNA.- Following reports that the Holy See and the People’s Republic of China could be about to sign an agreement ...

Archbishop Chaput: When we forget faith, we forget our humanity

Spokane, Wash., Sep 14, 2018 CNA.- When man tries to cling to reason and separate himself from faith, he forgets who he is and loses his source of hope, ...

Pope Francis warns priests against living a double life

Palermo, Italy, Sep 15, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- During a day trip to Sicily Saturday, Pope Francis told priests and religious to fight their vices and strive ...

What is the pontifical secret?

Vatican City, Sep 14, 2018 CNA.- Following the allegations made by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò about the case of Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, ...

Vatican publishes list of synod participants, including papal nominees

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- To the list of members of the Synod of Bishops elected by national bishops' conferences, Pope Francis added cardinals from 14 countries, ...

Addicts and their loved ones talk about life with opioid addiction

ARLINGTON, Va. (CNS) -- It was a Saturday night, and Billy was eating pizza and watching a sporting event in the basement bedroom of his residence, a ...

Signers of letter hope Vatican meeting will bring needed steps on crisis

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Signers of an open letter from Catholic women to Pope Francis urging "truth" and "transparency" on the growing sex abuse crisis expressed ...

Community 'overwhelmed and shell-shocked' after gas explosions, says pastor

LAWRENCE -- Volunteers at St. Patrick Church's Cor Unum Meal Center were serving dinner when multiple natural gas explosions and fires broke out in homes ...

Down to earth: Vatican brings together world's meteorite curators

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy (CNS) -- Rocks, mineral debris and even dust from space are kept in special collections, museums and laboratories all over the ...

Algerian martyrs to be beatified in Algeria Dec. 8

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The beatification of 19 martyrs of Algeria, including the seven Trappist monks of Tibhirine, will be celebrated Dec. 8 in Oran, ...

'Anything but a picnic' - Cardinal Dolan on the Church's summer of scandal

New York City, N.Y., Sep 14, 2018 CNA.- Cardinal Timothy Dolan has spoken about how the extended sexual abuse scandals facing the Church have taken a ...

Restoring and reimagining: Transformation at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross

BOSTON -- Considered by many to be the heart of the Archdiocese of Boston, the Cathedral of the Holy Cross is the largest Catholic church in New England, ...

Archdiocese says Cardinal O'Malley will personally review all abuse letters

BRAINTREE (CAN) -- The Archdiocese of Boston has announced changes to the way it will process and respond to letters addressed to Cardinal Séan P. ...

CM receives $2.5M grant from Yawkey Foundations

West Roxbury -- Catholic Memorial, a college-preparatory school for boys in grades 7 to 12, announced Sept. 5 that they have received a $2.5 million grant ...

Father Christian Ohazulume removed from ministry

BRAINTREE -- The Archdiocese announced on Sept. 11 that it had removed a priest from ministry after receiving an allegation that he sexually abused a ...

From Cardinal Seán's blog

This week I am in transit to Rome in anticipation of the next meeting of the C9 Council of Cardinals. So, I have asked Vivian Soper to share some reflections ...

Kavanaugh's birth control comments spur controversy -- What did he say?

Washington D.C. (CNA) -- Opponents of Judge Brett Kavanaugh have suggested that a reference to birth control pills as "abortion-inducing drugs" during ...

Missouri to enforce abortion regulations in wake of appeals court ruling

Jefferson City, Mo. (CNA) -- Missouri's health department announced Monday that it will immediately being enforcing state laws regulating abortion clinics ...