There’s always something to be said for going last in a two-person competition. You get to leave the final impression, you can see what the other person did and NOT do that, and maybe most importantly with this week’s Democratic National Convention, the bar for “being better than your opponent” has never been lower.
I mean, is it possible for Hillary Clinton and Co. to make a worse impression, to come off more disorganized, racist, plagiarizing and lying through their teeth than the GOP? I honestly don’t think it’s possible.
Lots of things I’ll be watching for in the next days, some quick-hit thoughts on what should be a pretty good show in Philadelphia:
— Tim Kaine in his national spotlight audition. I didn’t love Hillary’s choice of the Va. Senator as veep; he’s a bland, moderate white guy, when so many more appealing choices were available (Julian Castro, Elizabeth Warren, hell even Tom Perez would’ve gotten people more excited). But after a few days of reading up on Kaine’s background (dude’s never lost an election, that has to be encouraging), voting record, etc., I think he’s probably a decent choice. I don’t love that he loves Wall Street and banking deregulation so much, but otherwise he checks most liberal boxes. And he’ll help in Virginia. I’m anxious to see what kind of performer he is under the huge spotlight this week.
— Bernie Sanders speaks Monday night, and boy will he have a lot to say. The DNC email leaks scandal is one thing, and happily, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the maestro of the incredibly tilted Democratic primary this year, has resigned. But I really want to hear how Bernie speaks about his core issues, since he did so much better than anyone thought he would, and what he says about Hillary, after months and months of attacking her.
— Michelle Obama speaks tonight, too; will she make me and millions of others happy by starting with “When I was a young girl growing up in Slovenia…”? That would be so awesome.
— The Big Dog, Bill Clinton, talks Wednesday: Will he talk about Hillary as her husband, or as a future President, and how many great one-liners about Trump will he get off?
— Barack Obama’s speech on Wednesday; he and Hillary have some history together as rivals and then partners, and he, too, is in supreme position to push back on all the lies Trump told last week. I hope he calls out every one of them.
Should be a fascinating four nights.
**Next up today, rarely has an Olympics looked more like a shitshow than these Rio Games appear to be. So many problems in Brazil right now, from the economy, to the uncertain political leadership, and the nation looks completely unprepared to host an Olympics, who oh by the way, start in 10 days.
I don’t know, you think THIS is a bad sign? Sunday the Australian delegation announced that upon arrival at the Olympic Village, where thousands of athletes will be staying, the place was “uninhabitable.”
The toilets wouldn’t work, there was a rank smell, and all sorts of exposed wiring. Again, this is TEN DAYS before the Olympics.
Man oh man, I know lots of Olympics have looked like they’d be disasters before they started, and everything then ran smooth, but I don’t see how that happens here.
**Finally today, one of the few baseball things I pay attention to each year happened Sunday, the annual Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
I was incredibly fortunate, when I worked in upstate New York for the Glens Falls Post-Star, to get to cover two HOF inductions, and they were awesome, some of the best things I’ve ever covered. Cooperstown is such a special place, the people are incredibly friendly, and Otsego Lake is spectacular.
Anyway, Sunday was this year’s ceremony, with Mike Piazza and Ken Griffey Jr. being enshrined. Griffey Jr., was a no-doubt pick, and it’s still incredible to me that he didn’t get 100 percent of the vote (No one ever has.)
Piazza’s a more iffy case, because rumors of steroids (very, very strong rumors) have dogged him for a long time. But as a New Yorker, what I’ll always remember Piazza for, beyond the whole “Roger Clemens throwing the bat at him in the World Series thing, is that he gave me one of the most indelible sports memories I’ll ever have.
On Sept. 21, 2001, the Mets and Atlanta Braves played the first professional sporting event in New York City since 9/11. The whole city had been feeling so awful for 10 days, and sports seemed even less important than usual. Nobody was smiling, for any reason.
In the bottom of the eighth, with the Mets down a run, Piazza pummeled a pitch over the center field wall for a go-ahead home run. Shea Stadium went nuts. I remember going nuts, too, and I’m a Yankees fan. As Piazza rounded the bases, the sound from the crowd just kept growing and growing, and the TV cameras flashed to a bunch of FDNY firefighters in the crowd, and I get goosebumps right now just watching the above video.
An incredible night I’ll never forget. After so much horror, for two minutes, millions of New Yorkers got to feel just a little bit of joy.
So I’ll always be grateful to Mike Piazza for that.