|Edition No. 30||
September 21, 2010
COULD IT BE (GASP) A PENNANT RACE?
With Possum’s charges sporting a 700+ point lead just one month ago on our HSL Trip to the Twin Cities, could it be that we actually have a pennant race with a mere fortnight to go in the 2010 campaign? The answer, dear friends, is an emphatic yesssss! Through 24 weeks of play, B.T.’s never-say-die Chiefs have scratched and clawed and eye-gouged their way from hopelessness to contention, narrowing Possum’s lead to a mere 187.8 points, and while points can be hard to come by during the sunset days of the season, we can all wistfully remember how Shamu’s Cubs came storming back in last year’s campaign to eclipse the Chiefs at exactly 3:27 p.m. (just ask B.T.) on the final day of the 2009 season.
Here are the standings through 24 weeks:
Obviously, B.T. has had some hot players on his roster for the past month, while Possum has had some players who are icier than the reception that I get from the missus (still) these days. Let’s take a look at who’s been hot, and who’s not, for these two teams:
For Week 24, B.T.’s ball-busting ballplayers amassed a team total of 588.1 points. On the other hand, Possum’s Wahooter Tooters were only able to put 392.3 points up on the board last week. The tension is so thick at the Bridges Investment Fund these days that when Possum shouts, “Sell!”, they buy, and when Possum yells, “Buy!”, the workers head for the exits. Of course, as with all good bucket shops and bookie operations, they still make plenty of dough on the juice to keep Possum in the Billionaire Boys Club.
Anyway, it promises to be a riveting finish to the season, and if I were one of the rank and file at BIF, I think it would be a splendid time for a two-week holiday.
I am pleased and proud, if not downright buoyant, to announce that I have now added the state of South Dakota to my growing list of provinces of this great country in which I have set foot in the state capitol building. On a recent road trip north, I undertook a slight diversion to visit the capital city of Pierre, including its beautiful but unpretentious state house building. Constructed between 1905 and 1910, my visit to this stately lady coincided with its 100-year anniversary celebration. Which was nice.
Lying hard to the north and east of the Missouri River at its elbow near Ft. Pierre, the South Dakota state capitol sits proudly on Capitol Hill, flanked by the South Dakota sandhills to the north. It is a classic Romanesque structure which was designed by Minneapolis architects C.E. Bell and M.S. Detwiler. Designed and built for just under a million dollars, the building is a modified version of the Montana state capitol in Helena, composed of Indiana limestone and Vermont and Italian marble. Of the 32 state capitols that I have visited (that’s right, Itchie, thirty-two), the South Dakota statehouse is not among the best of the buildings that I have been in, but it is also not at the bottom. No matter where it ranks on the list, it is still a sight worth seeing.
If you ever decide to pay a visit to Pierre (and why would you, unless you’re a state capitol buff like me or a fishing fanatic like Jim Ed), I heartily recommend that you take the scenic drive along Highway 1806 either to or from Pierre. It is a beautiful winding two-lane highway that snakes along the Missouri River, reminiscent in places of the drive through the sandhills around Lake McConaughy. The road is good, the scenery is excellent, and during my drive along this scenic byway, mine was the only vehicle on the road.
One of my favorite things to do when I tour a state capitol building is to visit the chambers for the House of Representatives and the State Senate, and to look at the portraits of the governors, the members of the Supreme Court, and the members of the State Senates and Houses of Representatives, to see what sort of people make up the political and judicial leadership of the state. Remarkably, I only recognized the name of one governor (Janklin), and not a single jurist or member of the State Senate or House of Representatives. Moreover, although I didn’t look at every composite from each and every year, from my representative sampling (most of the composites from the past decade, and another ten to twenty dating back over the past 100 years), I did not see a single African-American state senator or member of the state House of Representatives. Not one. Nor did I see a single Hispanic politician in the composites, and I only found one American Indian (Ed Ironhorse) and one or maybe two Italian-Americans. Pretty diverse culture up there in the Badlands.
Judging by their faces and their names, the overwhelming majority of South Dakotans are from Northern Europe, places such as Germany, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Great Britain. There were quite a few people with “Van” as part of their last name, so there seems to be a rather heavy Dutch influence. One guy named Feinstein, but people of the Jewish persuasion seem to be extraordinarily under-represented.
Although I have not meticulously researched this, it would appear from my viewing of the gubernatorial portraits in the capitol building that South Dakota has never had anyone but a white male as governor. As to the South Dakota Supreme Court, a body of five justices (the smallest high court bench I’ve ever heard of), the same was apparently true until 2002, when the first and only female was appointed to the state’s highest court. It does not appear that a black or a Latino has ever served on the South Dakota Supreme Court. Something that Itchie’s future son-in-law can perhaps aspire to.
And now, finally, a few interesting (to me) South Dakota facts to daze and amaze you:
As any self-respecting Cornhusker would agree, I had to stop in to catch a look at the Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota, on my way back from Pierre. Let’s see a show of hands from those who have visited this iconic tourist venue. I last saw it circa 1966 on a summer vacation with the family to the Black Hills, and yup, it’s still pretty much the same. A big building almost entirely decorated with corn, with a basketball floor and stadium seating on the inside. It would seem like a natural place for Doc Sadler’s basketball team to take on one of the South Dakota universities, but at last check, I don’t believe that a visit here is on the schedule.
Being the only tourist inside the Corn Palace that day who wasn’t a farmer over 70, a Mennonite family on vacation, or a touring member of a school marching band, I felt strangely out of place. Nevertheless, I made the best of the situation, did the five-minute self-guided tour, looked over a few cheesy corn souvenirs for the kids, and hustled my way right out of there. Pure kitsch, and pure corn.
I failed to mention that Pierre has a beautiful American Legion baseball field that would appear to have at one time been the home of a minor league baseball team. However, in doing a brief Google search, I found no evidence of a minor league baseball team in the Pierre area, so perhaps it has always been a Legion baseball venue. A little jewel of a ballpark, in any case.
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That’s it for this issue of From the Bullpen, gents. Better buckle up your chin straps, fellows, it’s going to be another great finish.