Extra innings

Striking out: Politics is a sport in Sacramento, one played with intense competitiveness at times, but always with a sense that it’s just a game. Bites might argue that “politics as game” is why so many real problems go unaddressed, but it’s too early in the column to get that didactic.

So let’s just talk about baseball. While the pros were up in Seattle this week playing the All-Star Game and related shenanigans (home run derby, celebrity softball game, gratuitous media whoring), local pros also took to the ball field to pass the time, American-style.

Unfortunately, these local pros weren’t ballplayers but professional politicians, who should have been passing a long-overdue state budget, or undoing their dirty deregulation deed, or … (Is it still too early to get didactic? Probably so.)

Anyway, the point is that it would rub more than a few constituents the wrong way to know that the elected leaders of this once-powerful state are set to be playing in the All Star Legislative Baseball Game at Raley Field on July 11.

While the Legislature all but ignores the official June 30 deadline for passing the state budget, this annual charity baseball game has in recent years become the de facto deadline for passing the state budget.

Always mindful of political imagery, these pros know that it just doesn’t look good on the evening news when Johnny “Say Hey” Burton, Jimmy “Big Boy” Brulte, and the rest of the boys (and girls) of summer are swinging their bats and playing with their balls when there’s unfinished work to be done.

So that’s why—when it recently became apparent that Republicans were united in “then we’ll take our marbles and go home” mode, and that a budget wasn’t going to be OK’d by the first pitch—legislators on both sides of the aisle started downplaying the game, or feigning as if they’d never heard of it.

Yet you’d better believe that most of them plan on attending. The Legislature is filled with game-players, hams and glory hounds, many of whom wouldn’t miss the chance to play under the lights at beautiful Raley Field, particularly with the political cover of saying it’s all for charity (proceeds go to the Phil Dowd Fund, Yolo Health Alliance and Project Teach—safe, popular recipients all).

Besides, at the time of this writing, the game was still days away, plenty of time to craft a budget compromise that still gives each side good campaign commercials for the next election cycle (which is the real reason why we have no budget yet).

So Bites wouldn’t be at all surprised if The Game in the Capitol finds a sudden burst of bipartisan spirit right before the game at Raley Field. Batter up!

Fighting evil: Midtown residents breathed a collective sigh of relief last week with word that a suspect in a trio of recent rapes was behind bars. Dennis Orr, 27, was busted in his home at 26th and U streets for a parole violation, but police suspect he’s the guy who raped three Midtown women in June (you can check out his mug shot at www.sacpd.org).

The crimes created a climate of fear in the otherwise safe-feeling bubble of Midtown, but also sparked a wave of angry vigilantism, as defiant “we’re gonna get you” flyers appeared around town and relaxed postures were replaced by set jaws and clenched fists whenever the topic came up.

It was a mindset that must have been relished by the Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice (SHARPs), who were featured in this column last week, and who reacted with some mostly anonymous e-mails defending their violent approach to dealing with social ills.

Three excerpts:

“We are fighting evil out here. But unfortunately to fight evil you must be evil. Violence is not easy, but we’re good at it, and it works. Nothing will make you think twice about molesting a girl or beating up a little guy like seeing your friends’ head stomped into an unrecognizable mess.”

“The fact is that there are many people in this world who choose to be assholes when they get ‘a few beers in them.’ I have never seen a SHARP beat someone’s ass without it being well deserved!”

“Have we become so politically correct that chivalry is wrong? I am not promoting random acts of violence but there comes a time when you have to take a stand.”

Is violence an acceptable means of social progress? Y’all know what Bites thinks. What do you think?