We’re going to get to sports in a second ‘cus a lot caught our eye today… but first this caught my eye in the Economist:
All 32 economies tracked each week by The Economist grew in 2005, for the second year running. In every previous year since the 1970s, at least one emerging economy suffered a recession, if not a severe financial crisis. In the past three years, their growth has averaged more than 6%, compared with 2.4% in rich economies. The IMF forecasts that in the next five years they will roll along at just under 6%, twice as fast as developed economies. Extrapolation is risky, but if this relative pace were sustained, in 20 years' time emerging economies would account for two-thirds of global output. Is this likely?
They go on to say that it is likely, but there are some worries and things to watch for, mainly the United States economy. American consumers cannot continue to spend more than they earn much longer (then again we’ve been hearing that for a while now, but odds are at some point US consumers will have to pull in the reigns on the credit card and checkbooks).
But back to the point of the above quote, this is all good news - great news in fact. Economic growth in the developing world will only bring more people out of poverty and into healthier social and economic situations. And hopefully this will lead to equality, peace, justice, better education and health care, more stability in politics and government, and liberty for all. And we, as members of the ‘developed’ world shouldn’t be afraid of the economic rises of these areas. They can only help us if we do no resist their economic rise.
Hamas surprising victory today in the Palestinian elections has turned the Middle East (the Holy Land especially) on its head. Personally, I’m not sure this is necessarily a bad thing - a legitimate, democratically elected Hamas is a scary thought, don’t get me wrong. But this may actually bring peace, or at the very least distract Hamas. Now that they are in charge of the government they’re the ones that will be making the decisions, yes a scary thought, but they will now also be held accountable for what goes on; for the government and it’s ‘citizens’. They can no longer put all their energy into aggression towards Israel. Of course this can also signal an eventual military conflict or consolidation of power by Hamas. Time will tell.
The important thing at this point is for Israel and the United States to at least talk with the new Hamas lead government [both countries have refused to talk to Hamas in the past]. Hamas was democratically elected, and while the result was not wanted by either government, those are the results. To ignore the new government because it is not the government that Israel or the US desires would not only be hypocritical (Bush has promoted democracy to such a degree that to turn his back now would cause him to lose all legitimacy in the region and world), but it would also weaken the US position in the region. If working for peace is the goal, then we should continue to work for peace. And if mistakes are to be made, let Hamas make mistakes. It’s a tough spot, no one is going to deny that, but there are a lot of smart people in the US government and I’m sure they’ll be able to work at something.
And a final note, remember Sharon and what transpired over time after his election. Sharon was by no means a dove or one who was seeking non-aggressive means relations with the Palestinians. Eventually Sharon began to use peaceful means and backed down from some previous positions. While we are not and probably will never be in favor of the ‘security barrier’ (i.e. The Berlin Wall in the West Bank), Sharon’s decision to remove Israeli settlers from the Gaza Strip was the beginning of what people hoped would be an eventual Palestinian state. Obviously, Sharon’s health problems have left things in Israel murky, but the ‘Hawk’ Sharon turned out to be much less of the ‘Hawk’ everyone thought he was going to be.
The most underrated sporting event, in the eyes of VFLOAB, is the Australian Open. Played at the beginning of the New Year, it’s the first big event of the year in sports (well besides the NFL playoffs but whatever) and because it’s in Australia it actually works perfectly in terms of watching the games on TV live. Last year was the first year that we here at VFLOAB really got into the Open and while we haven’t watched it enough this year, we’ve been following it and turning in from time to time.
While VFLOAB favorite Maria Sharapova lost last night (or rather today even though we watched it last night) to Justine Henin-Hardenne (good name btw), we’re still going to be watching since the Aussie Open features… Chris Fowler and Brad Gilbert! It’s hard not to love Fowler; he does a great job on Gameday and just seems to have a great life (college football and then travel around the world covering tennis… how great is that?) But it’s Gilbert, who has to be seen to be believed, who makes tennis on ESPN so enjoyable. He really has no peers in the announcing world. One second he’s cracking jokes so bad that they don’t make sense, then is analysis the match, and then saying something so bizarre that Fowler either complete ignores him or openly mocks him. It’s just great TV.
Here’s a list of the top ten most hated athletes in sports and to be honest no real surprises. The only guy that didn’t make the list that you figure might have was Ron Artest, but some times the guys who are nuts are good teammates since they’ll go out of their way to back you up. White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski came in at #9, and might be the classic ‘guy who everyone hates when he’s not on your team.’ Ball hog Kobe comes in at #5. But what we’re most happy to see is Curt Schilling coming in at #4. Schilling is the biggest fraud in sports and the article raises the question that we’ve been harping at for a while now… that the ‘bloody’ sock was all staged. That’s right; neither we nor many on the Diamondbacks believe that Schilling was bleeding at all, that it was done all for the cameras. [Note: Bill Simmons did an interview with Schilling today which we may have comments on later... let's just say Simmons went out of his way to kiss Schilling's ass and Schilling tries to be humble, but it's easy to see right though that when he takes ever single question and makes it about him. What a phony.]
And finally some sad news. Carlos Martinez, former White Sox from 1988-1990, passed away this week. Martinez was nothing special as a player, but he was a member of that 1989 White Sox team, one of the worst teams ever put out on a baseball field. Martinez, who had no power, played a lot of third and first base for the Sox back in the day which just goes to show how bad that 1989 team was (Ivan Calderon (may he rest in peace also) lead the 1989 Sox with 14 home runs, which has to be some sort of record. 14 home runs!). He will be remembered and missed. Rest in peace, Carlos.