Archive for November, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving! With Hiatus…

Posted in Uncategorized on November 22, 2007 by stateofthecommonwealth

Happy Thanksgiving to our readers, and apologies for the dearth of posts in the past week or so. Actually, meant to post something earlier, but I’m in New York for the rest of the month, and so not as able to update daily as I’d like. Sporadic posts will appear, but regular posting won’t resume until Monday, December 3rd.

Cardinals Baseball Schedule Set, and More…

Posted in Horse Racing, Sports on November 15, 2007 by stateofthecommonwealth

2007 Louisville Baseball

U of L released the schedule for the Cardinals baseball team for 2008 this afternoon, which includes 34 home games at Jim Patterson Stadium (down the street from Santa Fe, my new favorite Mexican restaurant, where I went Sunday night for dinner). Anticipation for the 2008 team will certainly be high, coming off the Cardinals’ best-ever baseball showing in 2007, when the team advanced to the College World Series for the first time in its history. As the U of L Athletics site notes:

Louisville finished with a school record 47 wins last season, posting a 47-24 record, and a 19-8 mark in the BIG EAST, placing third. The Cards eliminated nationally ranked Miami, Missouri and Oklahoma State on their way to Omaha, where the Cardinals ended Mississippi State’s season before they were eliminated by #2 North Carolina, 3-1. Louisville finished the season ranked in the top ten in all major polls, and have already ben ranked in the top 25 by a pair of publications based on the fall season.

The Cards bring back 17 players from last season, including BIG EAST Pitcher of the Year Zack Pitts and Freshman of the Year Justin Marks, as well as Columbia Regional MVP Chris Dominguez and All-BIG EAST Second Team catcher Derrick Alfonso.

Since watching the Cardinals on ESPN in the College World Series, I’ve definitely become a fan of the team. Looking forward to catching more than a few of their home games, all of which are free to the public. The season opener is February 22 at 2 p.m. against Cleveland State. Okay, so that’s a little earlier than I’m used to for baseball (and it’ll probably be cold!), but hey, why not?

Another major Cardinals story today concerns next year’s recruiting class for the men’s basketball team. U of L has a chance to compile what most analysts think might be the best recruiting class in the country:

On the first day of the early national signing period, U of L is expected to sign four players who recruiting experts rank as one of the top classes in the country. U of L has one other player committed and another major target — Tyreke Evans — who will wait until the spring to make his decision.

“This is a very, very good class,” Scout.com national analyst Dave Telep said. “This is a group that if you put Tyreke Evans with them will make a strong case to be the No. 1 class in the country.”

The Cardinals are expected to sign Newark (N.J.) St. Benedict center Samardo Samuels, who is considered one of the top five players in the country.

Louisville also expects to sign Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy forward Jared Swopshire and Fitchburg (Mass.) Notre Dame Prep players Melquan Bolding and Terrence Jennings.

A fifth commitment — Evansville (Ind.) guard Kyle Kuric — is likely to wait until the spring to sign with U of L.

“It’s a very good class, and what gets me excited is the inside (Samuels and Jennings),” HoopScooponline.com editor Clark Francis said. “I think it’s a really good one because Samardo Samuels is a beast.

“Terrence Jennings gives you what (Samuels) doesn’t have, and that’s athleticism in the middle. He can be a gazelle. Melquan Bolding is a freakish athlete. He has NBA athleticism and just needs to work on his jump shot. Swopshire has nice size and shoots it well and is extremely skilled. I really like the class.”

My anticipation for this season is at a high, and I’m currently watching the UNC vs. Davidson game on ESPN. Should be a great year!

Finally, in older news concerning horse racing, the C-J reported this past weekend that Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai, has been on a mare-buying tear:

After buying the top two finishers in the Kentucky Derby this year, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum spent $35.2 million on 10 broodmares and prospects last week, further boosting the stature of his American breeding operation.

The flurry of buying at the recent breeding-stock auctions was driven by the availability of attractive horses and a desire to complement stallion purchases like Derby winner Street Sense and runner-up Hard Spun.

Additionally, trainer Kenny McPeek is suing the owners of Curlin, William Gallion and Shirley Cunningham, both of whom are in jail awaiting a January trial on a charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. They are accused of bilking former clients out of $46 million in Kentucky’s $200 million fen-phen diet drug settlement. Yikes!

Time to Play Catch Up…

Posted in Kentucky News, Louisville News, Politics on November 13, 2007 by stateofthecommonwealth

Richie Farmer

After a very busy weekend, I needed to catch up with lots of sleep yesterday. So what’s been going on since Friday? A lot, starting with what I suppose could be the big news of the day:

President Delivers Hard-hitting Speech in Indiana – Lots of “minute-by-minute” coverage by the Courier-Journal, though without much actual substance (I suppose whatever column inches Bush’s brief visit gets tomorrow will flesh out more details). Plenty of nice pictures, though I’d bet that once Richie Farmer (above, left) runs for a statewide office other than Agricultural Commissioner, he might wish pictures of himself posing with President Bush had never been taken. While the updates do note the presence of protesters, their numbers were not described. However, Bob Hill’s column today was a fairly decent read.

In Louisville news, the Metro Council is close to passing an ordinance on panhandling, as has been reported previously. Okay, so for the last ten years I’ve lived in Chicago and New York, cities much larger than Louisville, and I have to say that I can’t imagine that so-called “aggressive panhandling” is really that much of a problem here. Granted, an attorney friend of mine who works downtown related an “aggressive panhandling” story while we had after-work drinks the other day, but I still am not sure that many of the problems this ordinance is supposed to address wouldn’t be better solved by better enforcement of current laws. Some of the provisions of the new ordinance seem difficult to enforce anyway:

Panhandlers, for instance, could not ask for money within 20 feet of an automated teller machine, public restroom, school, bus stop, or parking garage. Also, the measure would ban someone from saving a public parking space in exchange for cash, or from asking for money within 6 feet of a public building, while on a bus or after dark. It also prohibits “reckless” contact with another, interfering with movement or using obscene language in soliciting.

In New York, I actually found the presence of regular panhandlers at ATM entrances to be kinda comforting, in a sense. Some down-on-his-luck guy (usually a guy, though not always) opens the door for you to enter and leave (eliminating the need to pull out and swipe your card), and you throw him a few coins. No big deal, and definitely not threatening.

One provision that seems less likely to pass the Metro Council is Doug Hawkins’ (R) ridiculous proposal on illegal immigrants and city services. So, given failure in its current form, Hawkins wants to try again:

Hawkins said he wants to make some changes and probably will separate the immigration provisions into two ordinances — one covering the agreement on the federal criminal database and the other covering city department policies and employee training.

Xenophobia aside, I’m not sure exactly why the party that’s obsessed with limiting the size of government wants to add another layer of bureaucracy to every city agency, but there you have it.

And finally, in what might be the funniest story from yesterday, as described in the story Write-in Vote Count Has a Cost, “Jefferson County election officials will spend much of this week hand-counting nearly 7,500 write-in votes for two candidates running for an office that has no pay and no powers.”

Friday’s Stories: Cards Lose, Beshear Picks, More…

Posted in Happenings, Politics, Sports on November 9, 2007 by stateofthecommonwealth

Patrick White

Likely for many, today’s main story in the Courier-Journal concerns the Cardinals’ 38-31 loss to West Virginia in Morgantown last night. Honestly, I was surprised at how the score wasn’t more lopsided, considering how ineffective the Cardinals were on both offense and defense in the first half. Both sides improved during the second half, when QB Brian Brohm led the Cardinals back from a 17-point deficit, but in the end the Mountaineers prevailed on QB Patrick White’s long run up the middle with 1:36 left. Oh well.

In political news, Governor-elect Steve Beshear appointed the first members of his new administration yesterday, which includes Louisville Deputy Mayor Larry Hayes as the secretary of his Executive Cabinet. Beshear has also been working with Lieutenant Governor Steve Pence, pariah of the Fletcher administration, on transition efforts. And in perhaps portentious news, Senator Mitch McConnell has begun airing ads for his 2008 re-election campaign.

It has also been announced, on the C-J‘s web site, that President Bush will be visiting the Grand in New Albany next Tuesday. He’s scheduled to speak on the budget, though I imagine what will be most memorable will be the number of protesters there. I know of nothing in the works so far, but I can’t imagine there won’t be a sizable presence considering how terrible Bush’s approval rating is.

It’s Hard Not to Gloat…

Posted in Horse Racing, Sports on November 8, 2007 by stateofthecommonwealth

Gardner-Webb?

Lots of sports and sports-related news today, the major story being Gardner-Webb’s amazing upset of Kentucky, 84-68, last night at Rupp Arena:

Billy Gillispie’s honeymoon lasted only until his birthday.

Gardner-Webb stunned the No. 20 University of Kentucky 84-68 last night in Rupp Arena, giving Gillispie his first loss as the Wildcats’ head coach on the day he turned 48 and bouncing the Wildcats from the 2K Sports College Hoops Classic.

Denied a trip to New York City, the Cats (1-1) instead took a long walk off the court as boos rained down from some in the crowd — announced at 19,845 but considerably smaller by then.

“I don’t think you couldn’t hear it; I don’t think it was a few instances,” Gillispie said. “It was obvious. We deserve it. We played like that. That’s what we should get.”

Ouch! If it wasn’t obvious before, I’m a lifelong Louisville Cardinals fan, so I probably won’t be reporting much in the way of UK sports information except when they lose. Yes, I know it’s petty. And the Cats’ loss last night probably doesn’t matter much anyway: the season’s just begun, and I’m sure they’ll regroup under Gillispie’s leadership (who, truth be told, will probably not be subject to the same fan criticism that Tubby Smith endured). And the Cardinals, despite their excellent pre-season rankings, are sure to lose a game or two to some unexpected opponent, it’s what happens in college basketball. The annual UofL vs. UK game will be on January 5th, 2008 — always a game to look forward to.

But switching gears to football for a moment, the big game of today is UofL vs. West Virginia, in Morgantown at Milan Puskar Stadium. Obviously the Cardinals are in a must-win situation, against a very hard-to-beat Mountaineer team. I’ve been to two Cardinals games this year, the incredible loss to Syracuse and the barely-a-win over Pitt, and neither convinces me that the Cardinals have even a fair shot against the Mountaineers. Still, as Rich Bozich notes in his column today, stranger things have happened in this college football season. Still, as I watch the game, I’m not going to hold my breath.

In more positive news, the Cardinals’ men soccer team has been on a tear this season. I haven’t been to a game, and unfortunately won’t be able to get to the Big East Quarterfinals this Saturday evening, when they take on West Virginia (who beat Villanova 2-0 last night in a play-in game), but I will be hoping for victory. The soccer team even made it to the front page of the C-J‘s sports section with Turnaround on the Pitch a profile of Ken Lolla, their head coach and his methods.

Also in the Sports section, a story on jockey Mark Guidry’s bid to become a steward, and the news that the Louisville Slugger Museum will honor the perenially-injured Ken Griffey Jr. on Friday.

UPDATE – The University of Louisville is suing Duke over cancellation of some football games. In typical C-J quality-control fashion, the headline reads “Louisville suing Duke after cancelling scheduled basketball games,” even though the article clearly states the Cardinals are suing about canceled football games.

Kentucky Punk-Rock Barbecue Champions

Posted in Food on November 7, 2007 by stateofthecommonwealth

Moonwiners

It takes a while to find them in today’s election-dominated newspaper, but here is an interesting story from today’s Courier-Journal:

Kentucky Team Barbecues with the Best – Kentucky-based bbq team the Moonswiners — Chad, Chris and Jason Hayden — won the Jack Daniel’s World Championship Invitational Barbecue last month.

“It was shocking,” said Chad Hayden, a plumbing engineer and chief cook of the Moonswiners. “It’s the most prestigious barbecue event, and it’s got some pretty strict criteria for getting in there. The American Royale champion cooked in it. The Memphis in May champion cooked in it. I’m kind of a big fish from a little pond.”

Tana Shupe, Jack Daniel’s Distillery manager of guest services, who organized the 19th annual invitational barbecue, said, “The Moonswiners were sort of an unknown. We haven’t seen them a lot in this area. But they were right on the money, came in, took first place in chicken and brisket, second place in pork ribs, and ran away with the grand championship. And since Jack Daniel’s is owned by Brown-Forman in Louisville, we kind of feel like they’re a hometown team.”

More than 25,000 people descended on Lynchburg (pop. 361) Oct. 26-27 to see judges choose the grand champion, reserve champion (second place) and winners in eight categories: pork ribs, pork shoulder, beef brisket, chicken, cook’s choice, home cookin’ from the homeland, sauce and dessert.

Fifty-nine other U.S. teams and 21 from foreign countries, including Poland, Norway, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Austria, Germany, Ireland, Turkey and Switzerland, competed for the coveted title.

The Moonswiners received $2,500, bragging rights to winning the top event on the professional barbecue circuit, and the chance to defend the title next year.

Pretty awesome, right? However, what the C-J missed is the Moonswiners’ punk rock ties. Jason Hayden is of course known to all aficionados of Louisville music, as a current member of the great bands Verktum and Rude Weirdo, and a former member of The Web, Crain, Sunspring, and probably more bands I’m forgetting. Anyway, congratulations to the Moonswiners!

Election Day After-Math

Posted in Kentucky News, Politics on November 7, 2007 by stateofthecommonwealth

Beshear greets voters

So now, on Wednesday, what can we glean from Steve Beshear’s convincing triumph over Ernie Fletcher? Beshear won with 59% of the vote, compared to Fletcher’s 41%, and a lot of Beshear’s votes came from some unexpected places (from the Courier-Journal):

Beshear won traditionally Democratic counties that he was supposed to win and made it close in those where Republicans have typically run well. In Boone County, for example, where 63 percent of the voters are Republican, Fletcher won by less than 2 percentage points, and he won only by a small margin in heavily Republican Oldham County.

In all, Beshear carried 92 of the state’s 120 counties. Four years ago, by contrast, Fletcher won 86 counties.

Most of the counties Fletcher carried this year were in south-central Kentucky. He even struggled in Republican-performing Northern Kentucky, where he won only Boone County.

Beshear carried Eastern Kentucky, which normally votes Democratic, and Western Kentucky, which has been trending Republican in recent years.

In Jefferson County, where Fletcher lost by just 5,536 votes in 2003, Beshear won by roughly 67,000 votes.

While the Courier only mentions it in passing, Fletcher’s turnaround in the Northern Kentucky counties is what is being called over at the Bluegrass Report, the “Biggest Story of the Night.” BR states:

When taken as a whole, Beshear defeated Fletcher in the three Northern counties by a 38,578 to 33,480 vote margin or a whopping 53.5% to 46.5% spread. He only lost Boone County by 300 votes. Incredible. Especially considering that Fletcher won these counties in 2003 by 26, 30 and 44 points, respectively.

Aside from the remarkable performance by a Democrat in Northern Kentucky, it’s even more breathtaking when one considers how much Governor Fletcher (R) apparently did for those counties over the past four years.

Also in the C-J‘s lead story are a number of shall we say revealing quotes from state Republican leaders. Revealing in the sense that they show an incredible amount of disarray and denial from the party once known — pre-Rove resignation — for its discipline:

Republican strategist Ted Jackson, who supported Northup in the primary, said last night that Fletcher should not have sought re-election because he never stood a chance.

“The guy could not be re-elected. It was not a close call,” said Jackson, who added that the pardons were something the electorate could not forgive. “Ronald Reagan could not have pardoned his entire administration … and be re-elected.”

But Larry Forgy, the 1995 Republican gubernatorial nominee, blamed Northup, U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell and Lt. Gov. Steve Pence, who chose not to run again with Fletcher, for the loss.

“It is the result of the primary. We spent $5 million among Republicans fighting over almost nothing except the desire of three or four people in Louisville and party headquarters — including Sen. McConnell, including Steve Pence, Anne Northup and others — to essentially run this man out of office.”

State Senate President David Williams, R-Burkesville, said Fletcher lost because he failed to adequately explain the merit hiring scandal to voters. And he said the Bluegrass Freedom Fund, a political committee that spent millions of dollars on anti-Fletcher ads, prevented Beshear from having to sling mud.

“The biggest problem was the governor failed to convince people about what happened as far as the merit hiring situation,” Williams said. “When the record is examined, it will show Gov. Fletcher has been one of the more effective governors in the history of Kentucky. But people won’t find that out until the election is over, unfortunately.”

McConnell, the Senate minority leader who refused to even discuss the governor during much of Fletcher’s term, issued a statement of support yesterday.

“Ernie Fletcher ran a hard-fought campaign that showed a deep commitment to the commonwealth and to the principles that propelled him into office four years ago,” he said.

Mike Duncan, chairman of the Republican National Committee and an Inez banker, said in a statement that Fletcher’s loss doesn’t reflect a change in momentum that has seen Republicans make great strides in the last decade.

“Democrats targeted Ernie Fletcher from day one, but even with the unique circumstances of the governor’s race, they could not stand in the way of the Republican Party’s fundamental strength in the state,” he said.

1. As noted at BR, U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell’s statement, especially the part about Fletcher earning “our respect,” is pure lunacy.

2. Who is Mike Duncan trying to kid? The only statewide Republican wins were for Trey Grayson — who supposedly was once a Democrat and who was endorsed by a number of Democrats and left-leaning publications — and Richie Farmer, who could probably run on the Socialist Party ticket (is there a Kentucky Socialist Party?) and get elected.

3. Larry Forgy and Dave Williams sound positively, well, butthurt (as the kids say on message boards).

4. Ted Jackson is the only slightly-rational sounding quote. Until he gets to Reagan. While Ronnie did not have the chance to pardon those members of his administration involved in the Iran-Contra affair, after being elected president, George H.W. Bush did.

Regardless, yeah, Kentucky Republicans are in trouble.