Just what you’ve been waiting for: Cacti on Parade

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For the last few years the All-Star Game host city has featured statues of some local symbol or icon plastered with MLB logos. The Statue of Liberty, the Gateway Arch, Mickey Mouse, etc.  I’m still waiting for them to do it with a beer in Milwaukee, but I’m not holding my breath.

In the meantime we have Arizona this year, where they’ll make statues out of police officers demanding proof of citizenship from non-blond people.

I keed!  It’s Cacti on Parade:

MLB has teamed up with licensee Forever Collectibles to design a series of MLB-themed cactus statues. A total of 10 statues in four different designs measuring seven and a half feet tall and weighing more than 700 pounds will be stationed at key locations around the greater Phoenix area.The statues will be uniquely decorated with bold graphics celebrating the 2011 All-Star Game, the D-backs and each of the 30 MLB clubs and the American and National Leagues. In addition, one of the statues will commemorate significant milestones in D-backs history.

I would have hoped that the statues would be bigger than seven and a half feet because, having spent 10 days in Phoenix over spring training, I discovered that absolutely no one walks in that city, so people will be buzzing by these things at 70 miles per hour.

As for the significant milestones in Dbacks history, One will obviously relate to the 2001 World Series. Another might be some major Randy Johnson accomplishment.  Perhaps we’ll see one of A.J. Hinch, moments before the team revolt undermined his tenure as manager, some seventeen minutes into said tenure.  I’ll defer to Dbacks fans for the others, but if we wait a few more weeks to paint these things, I’m sure one depicting Kirk Gibson killing someone with his bare hands will be appropriate.

Bring on the Cacti!

Biden praises Braves’ ‘unstoppable, joyful run’ to 2021 win

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said the Atlanta Braves will be “forever known as the upset kings of October” for their improbable 2021 World Series win, as he welcomed the team to the White House for a victory celebration.

Biden called the Braves’ drive an “unstoppable, joyful run.” The team got its White House visit in with just over a week left before the 2022 regular season wraps up and the Major League Baseball playoffs begin again. The Braves trail the New York Mets by 1.5 games in the National League East but have clinched a wildcard spot for the MLB playoffs that begin Oct. 7. Chief Executive Officer Terry McGuirk said he hoped they’d be back to the White House again soon.

In August 2021, the Braves were a mess, playing barely at .500. But then they started winning. And they kept it up, taking the World Series in six games over the Houston Astros.

Biden called their performance of “history’s greatest turnarounds.”

“This team has literally been part of American history for over 150 years,” said Biden. “But none of it came easy … people counting you out. Heck, I know something about being counted out.”

Players lined up on risers behind Biden, grinning and waving to the crowd, but the player most discussed was one who hasn’t been on the team in nearly 50 years and who died last year: Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.

Hammerin’ Hank was the home run king for 33 years, dethroning Babe Ruth with a shot to left field on April 8, 1974. He was one of the most famous players for Atlanta and in baseball history, a clear-eyed chronicler of the hardships thrown his way – from the poverty and segregation of his Alabama youth to the racist threats he faced during his pursuit of one of America’s most hallowed records. He died in January at 86.

“This is team is defined by the courage of Hank Aaron,” Biden said.

McGuirk said Aaron, who held front office positions with the team and was one of Major League Baseball’s few Black executives, was watching over them.

“He’d have been there every step of the way with us if he was here,” McGuirk added.

The president often honors major league and some college sports champions with a White House ceremony, typically a nonpartisan affair in which the commander in chief pays tribute to the champs’ prowess, poses for photos and comes away with a team jersey.

Those visits were highly charged in the previous administration. Many athletes took issue with President Donald Trump’s policies and rhetoric on policing, immigration and more. Trump, for his part, didn’t take kindly to criticism from athletes or their on-field expressions of political opinions.

Under Biden, the tradition appears to be back. He’s hosted the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks and Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the White House. On Monday he joked about first lady Jill Biden’s Philadelphia allegiances.

“Like every Philly fan, she’s convinced she knows more about everything in sports than anybody else,” he said. He added that he couldn’t be too nice to the Atlanta team because it had just beaten the Phillies the previous night in extra innings.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was later questioned about the team’s name, particularly as other professional sports teams have moved away from names – like the Cleveland Indians, now the Guardians, and the Washington Redskins, now the Commanders – following years of complaints from Native American groups over the images and symbols.

She said it was important for the country to have the conversation. “And Native American and Indigenous voices – they should be at the center of this conversation,” she said.

Biden supported MLB’s decision to pull the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to protest Georgia’s sweeping new voting law, which critics contend is too restrictive.