- Arthur Fontaine
- Robber Search
- Beauty Stab
- Craft House
- Veterans Day
- Seeking Shelter
- Grid Tied
- Wyoming Beach
- Tahja Book
- History 101
- Planning Abstract
- Odin Shock
- Ed Notes
- Candidate Pekin
- Campground Tax
- Vet Visit
- Quiz Dates
- Yesterday's Catch
- Corporate Overthrow
- Accord Withdrawal
- The Contenders
- Insurance Cancelled
- Nationals Politics
- Found Object
MOSTLY CLEAR SKIES will prevail across the interior, while areas of persistent low clouds and fog will linger along the coast through this week. Otherwise, no rain is expected through at least the next 7 days. (National Weather Service)
Arthur 'Mark' Fontaine, a resident of Philo, died on Friday, November 1st.
Graveside services at Evergreen Cemetery, Boonville, 11am, Saturday, November 9th.
FORT BRAGG THEATER ROBBERY UPDATE
The Fort Bragg Police Department is requesting the community’s assistance in reviewing surveillance video on private residences and businesses surrounding Coast Cinemas. The suspect in this robbery likely had a vehicle parked in the area and may have discarded his disguise after leaving the theater. The suspect was identified as being at the theater both on November 3, 2019 and November 4, 2019. The Fort Bragg Police Department has identified the following two timeframes for when the suspect approached and left the theater:
- November 3, 2019 at 8:05 p.m.
- November 4, 2019 at 7:17 p.m.
Individuals and businesses having surveillance cameras within a three block radius of the theater are encouraged to submit entire blocks of video up to thirty minutes before and after the above timeframes. Recordable DVDs may be picked up from the Fort Bragg Police Department during normal business hours or short videos may be e-mailed to email@example.com. Flash drives or DVDs can be submitted to the Police Department 24 hours a day. Anonymous submissions are acceptable but not preferred.
If you have information related to the case please contact Officer Ferris at (707) 961-2800 ext. 126 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Anonymous tips may be left on the Crime Tip Hotline at (707) 961-3049. Questions regarding this press release may be forwarded to Sergeant O’Neal at (707) 961-2800 ext. 120 or e-mailed to email@example.com.
Ukiah police are investigating the stabbing of a pregnant Ukiah teen during an altercation over hair-styling equipment.
The 17-year-old victim and 18-year-old suspect got into an argument Friday afternoon at a southwest Ukiah apartment on Village Circle, said Ukiah police Lt. Cedric Crook.
“Basically it seems to be a fight regarding a hair straightener,” Crook said.
The argument escalated and the victim was stabbed in the neck with a small knife, Crook said. The victim, who is five months pregnant, was flown to an out-of-county hospital, where she was treated and later released.
Shira Jessie Adams, 18, of Willits, was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder and booked into the Mendocino County Jail, with bail set at $250,000.
Adams is the girlfriend of the victim’s older brother, Crook said. There were others at the home during the altercation. Police have recovered a knife with a fixed, 3½-inch blade that investigators believe was used to stab the victim, Crook said.
Police asked anyone with information to contact officers at
NANCY MACLEOD & BILL ALLEN got a national award this week as American Craft Week Artists Extraordinaire for their Signal Ridge folk art house with its unique furniture and paintings.
VETERANS DAY IN BOONVILLE
Dear Valley Folks and those near beyond,
This coming Sunday, 10th November, 2019, at 10.30am prompt, the American Legion’s Kirk Wilder and myself will be presenting the Annual Veterans Day service alongside the Remembrance Wall at the Evergreen Cemetery on Anderson Valley Way just north of Boonville.
Valley folks are encouraged to attend. This event provides an opportunity for the community of Anderson Valley to show its support and gratitude for both the men and women who have given their lives or were wounded in the service of their country, and also those who have served or continue to serve, so that we may have the freedoms and liberties that we enjoy today… It should be emphasized that this is not an overtly political or religious event.
We hope to see you there.
THINGS ARE WRONGER THAN WRONG when a young working father can't find a place to shelter himself and his young son:
Michael Hilburn firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
We have a GoFundMe set up, alas, the donations came in spurts so we used what cash we got to purchase a military style tent and accessories. We had a place we could use but it turns out we can't stay there. We are looking for something to get us through winter.
I was a maintenance worker at the Redwood Coast Inn for a year where I worked and lived and built a solid reputation. For unknown reasons, the entire staff, including management, was fired! This left us without housing. I'm working with The hospitality house, Mendo Coast Mamas, The Mendocino Coast Children's Fund, and Safe Passage to possibly get an RV, but for now we need a place to stay or set up our tent. We will not be staying at the Hospitality House, as it is not suitable for children as we have previously checked on staying there.
Please, if you can help, let me know.
Michael and Evan
RYAN BURNS of Lost Coast Outpost reports in detail on how he tried to nail down why Humboldt County’s own generating capacity can’t be isolated from the rest of the grid during a power shutoff. “The Outpost learned that the company was examining the challenges of operating in isolation from the larger grid since before [July]. However, PG&E spokespeople have proved to be remarkably evasive and obfuscating about their current capabilities…” Burns’s report is a case study in why the company shouldn’t be allowed to operate as independently as they have been doing. If at first their non-answer “apologies” don’t work, then they try the “we can’t do that” dodge when it’s obvious that they can, but simply don’t want to bother. Burns’s report shows that PG&E’s promises about installing more switches so that they can narrow down the scope of future shutoffs, is only good if they 1) do the promised switching installations, and 2) want to bother doing it even if/after the capability exists.
MICROGRIDS COULD PREVENT NEED FOR PLANNED OUTAGES
Our aging and unstable electrical system must be replaced now, not decades from now…
"WYOMING BEACH AT LOW TIDE"
‘AN ECLECTIC HISTORY OF MENDOCINO COUNTY’ — BOOK BY KATY TAHJA SPANS 150 YEARS, FROM 1852-2002
by Grace Woelbing
In Mendocino County, stories are inevitably boundless and regional history is sure to be a tale of diverse influences. In truth, perhaps the most fitting word to describe a collection of such historical accounts is “eclectic,” for an author attempting to capture the themes throughout 150 years of county history must utilize a multitude of sources.
Author Katy Tahja, with her recently self-published book “An Eclectic History of Mendocino County,” has managed to achieve the feat of simultaneously informing and entertaining readers with both brief accounts and lengthy histories that define what makes Mendocino County an interesting place to call home.
“Every area of the county has its own interesting history tidbits,” says Tahja, who has previously authored several concentrated guidebooks and histories. “An Eclectic History of Mendocino County” is the first of hers, however, to involve the entire region.
The timeframe of Tahja’s new book spans 150 years, from 1852 through 2002. She began to accumulate little-known information that sourced from the vast time period during research phases for former books she has authored. “For years, I’ve kept interesting things on file for Mendocino County. I’d write down whatever I’d find and throw it in,” says Tahja.
Her decade of experience as a museum docent at the Kelley House Museum is responsible for her valuable knowledge of what attracts a reader to historical works. She shares that what she personally looks for is an account of why people settled and what kind of lives they experienced and accordingly, that was her focus as she compiled the stories that make up “An Eclectic History of Mendocino County.”
The book’s cover greets the reader with colorful photographs of characteristic sights located around Mendocino County—the Skunk Train, Leggett’s Chandelier Tree, and Bowling Ball Beach are a few highlights. One photograph features a particularly bright building in Mendocino, the Temple of Kwan Tai, which was built by the Chinese in the 1850s as a house of worship. As Tahja later divulges in the book, the build was a celebration of their survival of the long journey across the Pacific Ocean.
Tahja explores similar topics throughout her writing, such as the county’s rich history of agriculture. From the famous apples that were cultivated for years in Anderson Valley to pear trees populating Ukiah Valley to the current crop of wine grapes dominating county soil, Mendocino County has long been known for its farming.
The record of the logging industry bringing settlers to the coastline, the transition of regional governorship from Sonoma County to Mendocino County in 1859 when the population was finally large enough to elect its own public officials, and the beautiful description of native basketry are subjects also found within the pages.
“There were so many fun and interesting stories to tell,” interjects Tahja. “I thought that if I was going to take a page to talk about Winston Churchill’s 1929 visit here, I would include similarly surprising accounts.”
Indeed, throughout the book, there are entertaining mentions of famous characters such as the champion racehorse Seabiscuit, cult leader Jim Jones, and author Jack London who frequented Vichy Springs Resort. Lesser-known figures such as ethnobotanist Edith Van Allen Murphy and successful local athletes are also discussed.
Pieces of Tahja’s own past bled into the pages as her early background as a librarian initially led her to dedicate herself to introducing the public to stories of women in history. “I loved that we had so many strong women in the county,” she happily adds.
She easily made the decision as the author to place the emphasis on instrumental women in stories whenever possible. Lighthouse keepers, stagecoach drivers, and school superintendents were a few of the prominent roles women held that Tahja details in the book.
The black-and-white photographs featured in Tahja’s recent publication have their own story to tell as well. While the old landscape depictions and rarely seen pictures of railroad scenes and historical monuments can be found if one searches the local archives, it was a sincere friendship with local historical photographer Robert Lee that granted Tahja the use of many of the prints.
Before his passing, Lee possessed an astonishing 30,000 photographs of Mendocino County. Many are part of the collection of the Mendocino County Historical Society, but Tahja was also left innumerable duplicates that she was later able to use to provide the “Eclectic History” reader with visual supplements from within the proper timeframe.
“This county has a fascinating history,” concludes Tahja. “The book is also partly an appreciation of our ancestors and the hardworking, ingenious men and women who refused to accept standard roles in society. Learning about it is a rewarding experience; you discover things about the county that you never knew before and that’s what I want people to do.”
“An Eclectic History of Mendocino County” can be found on the shelves of the Mendocino Book Company in Ukiah, the Grace Carpenter Hudson Museum, Book Juggler in Willits, the Four-Eyed Frog in Gualala, the Point Arena Lighthouse, the Kelley House Museum in Mendocino, and the Guest House Museum in Fort Bragg. It can also be ordered online from the Gallery Bookshop.
Tahja will also be offering a presentation about her book, free of charge, to the public on Dec. 1 for the luncheon of the Mendocino County Historical Society at the Grace Carpenter Hudson Museum in Ukiah.
(Courtesy, the Ukiah Daily Journal)
A BOOK SIGNING of Katy Tahja’s new Mendo history book “An Eclectic History of Mendocino County” is this Saturday Nov. 9th at 6:30 p.m. “Everyone's invited. Come hear and see the County history tidbits I found!”
YESTERDAY, WE ASKED what was wrong with this picture.
The photo is a screengrab of the Supes meeting on the Coast in Mendocino on Tuesday as they discussed “accessory dwelling units” as a way to get a few second homes built on the Coast where the Coastal Commission’s rules and restrictions have made doing that very hard.
We heard several interesting guesses about what might be wrong:
“Supervisor McCowen is missing from the Supes line-up.”
“What’s Linda Ruffing doing there?”
“Why do they need all those people on the clock?”
All good guesses.
But the answer we were looking for was: There are no contractors or permit applicants in the room.
The entire discussion was abstract in the extreme as planners and lawyers and Supervisors discussed proposed various tweaks to existing paperwork that they think might sway the Coastal Commission into modifying their current position as Mendo — and almost everyone else in California — struggles to address the housing shortage.
We also got a laugh at their casual use of the word “affordable” which is seldom defined, and in those few times it is, it’s basically not.
You probably could build an affordable accessory dwelling unit or two just with the money they spent on Tuesday’s discussion of the housing shortage.
But without a contractor — say Albion’s Ishvi Aum or Hopland’s Tony Luchetti for example — the entirely theoretical discussion does nothing to deal with actual construction and permit difficulties that homeowners and contractors have to deal with.
Has anyone wondered why the Planning Department’s free-for-the-asking small home pre-approved specifications and plans are not being requested? Even Planning and Building Director Brent Schultz asked just that question a few weeks ago at a Supes meeting wondering how he could get the word out about their availability. Schultz seems to think that just having them available is the end of the line. Could it be that even with their “pre-approved” cookie-cutter plans, navigating everything else involved in getting a permit in Mendocino County is too daunting with no end date and no feedback to the applicant as the process slowly unfolds?
The Supervisors recently got around to asking why so few pot permits had been approved. The answer — in Mendo’s opinion — had mostly to do with the applicants and the state — not Mendo, of course, oh no, their failed program is so blameless. But we never hear the Supes ask for a list of pending home permit applications, how long they’ve been waiting and what’s holding them up. As usual, the lack of curiousity about supposedly important things like this is a prime reason things like housing permits languish for months and months and months with some applicants simply giving up (like some of the pot permit applicants). Applicants dare not gripe for fear of some kind of vague bureaucratic retaliation. Without management attention, the bureaucracy has no incentive to keep things moving or to resolve problems expeditiously. And simply conducting more costly dog-and-pony show abstract discussions of how to tweak the planning minutiae paperwork will only lead to more of the same — no new housing.
Here’s what they ended up approving on a 4-0 vote on Tuesday as stated by Supervisor Dan Gjerde who seems to think this nearly non-sensical “motion” will somehow move the ball down the field toward an accessory dwelling unit or two (Supervisor McCowen was absent due to an “unanticipated emergency”): “Move to adopt a resolution authorizing the submittal of a local coastal plan amendment to the Coastal Commission consisting of an amendment of the Coastal Element of the Mendocino County General Plan and the amendment of the Mendocino County Coastal code establishing regulations for accessory dwelling units in the coastal zone."
At least Supervisor Williams seemed to realize this was basically useless gibberish:
Williams: “I fully support this. But I don't see it as solving our housing problem on the coast by any means. I think the next step is we need to invite the Coastal Commission here to see face to face how their restrictions are affecting our community. People come to our coast not to enjoy barren land, they're not up at the Lost Coast, they're enjoying the small towns. You only have small towns if they have a population base that can provide services. So the Coastal Act providing for visitor services first is one and the same with facilitating long-term housing. I think we need the Coastal Commission here to have a conversation.
That may be a “next step.” But it makes it appear as if the only obstacle to home construction on the Coast is the Coastal Commission. As with pot, official protestations to the contrary, a lot of the housing problem is Mendo itself which prefers lip-service and finger pointing to actual management and oversight. If housing — on the Coast or anywhere else in Mendocino and “affordable” or not — is really a priority, you’d think the Supes would at least want monthly reporting on the status of housing permit applications with date of submittal, reason for non-approval, and anticipated approval date.
PS. The late Boonville realtor Mike Shapiro, a prominent, wealthy and canny property developer and manager, told us a few years ago that he had so much trouble and frustration getting his small four-home project behind the Farrer Building approved after literal years of County processing that he would never consider asking Mendocino County for a housing development permit again — ever. (The only reason he stayed with it so long was that he had too much of his own money invested in the project’s planning paperwork.)
THE BRITISH have a useful phrase to describe phonies: "rum characters." The rummest character ever happens to be our president. But most of the Democrats pursuing him are also rum characters. Beto O'Rourke is among the rumm-est characters on the national stage, with Little Rum, Mayor Pete, running a close second. Anybody whose Rum Detector is fully operational would recognize the following statement from Beto as Instant Rum: “Our campaign has always been about seeing clearly, speaking honestly, and acting decisively. In that spirit I am announcing that my service to the country will not be as a candidate or as the nominee.” Pure Rum, that. Lushly compensated officeholders who describe their sinecures (mostly) as "service" are of course Rum Characters, and this particular Rum Character, Beto, shorted out the Rum Meter every time he opened his mouth.
ON THE SUBJECT of definitions and pigeon holes, and because I've been asked a lot, I admire Kunstler's writing because he's (1) a very good and often very funny writer and (2) his world view coincides with mine and, perhaps, yours. That view assumes that Industrial capitalism is killing everything and it's going to kill us, too. That grim fact trumps all other issues. I also agree with Kunstler on the utter bankruptcy of the Democratic Party and their bogus pursuit of, in Kunstler's wonderful description, "The Golden Golem of Greatness." We have a situation where two hopelessly blinkered political parties are at the power levers, one denying that climate change is real, the other putting all their energy into the pursuit of GGG who just, as promised, withdrew from the Paris Climate Accord, setting back even the discussion of what to do about the climate catastrophe. And the political system itself has achieved a perfectly entropic immobility. We may truly be doomed as a species. Kunstler's the only political writer I know who addresses that grim fact directly.
CASE IN POINT: Yesterday, PG&E, reacting for calls to take it fully public, haughtily declared, "PG&E is not for sale." Eminent domain it, then. But… Prediction: For all Gavin Newsom's tough talk about revising the for-profit power monopoly, he and everyone else holding public office will back off with the first rains.
IT'S NOT POSSIBLE to argue with people who are uninformed but, the editor said, choking down a sob, "It's my duty as a media mogul to beat back the forces of darkness wherever I find them and however I can."
"TO THE FINLAND STATION" is a book by Edmund Wilson, a very good book, an essential book, a book that will teach even the educationally handicapped the difference between communists and socialists and anarchists and social democrats and the political goats from political elephants generally. That's assuming of course they feel any responsibility to the truth of things. Another good book on the basics, and a much funnier one, is George Bernard Shaw's "The Intelligent Woman's Guide to Socialism and Capitalism" which, as you can see from its title, assumes that women, being smarter than their repro partners, are more generally educable than men. I'm tired of posting the diffs myself, having done so to no effect on the dunderhead community or, in another brilliant phrase, the "confederacy of dunces."
CONTINUING WITH TODAY'S LESSON, here's the basics about Israel, the very basic basics. Israel was founded by terrorists who expelled the Arabs who'd lived in Palestine from the beginning of recorded history. This forceful expulsion naturally created a terrorist counter-attack from the expelled and persecuted people, aka Palestinians. The last reasonable Israeli politician who tried to make a decent accommodation with the expelled people, aka Palestinians, was Yitzhak Rabin, and he was murdered by an Israeli extremist identical in psychological make-up to, say, Isis fanatics. And here we are. To repeat: the Palestinians are the victims in the relationship. There are pertinent, truthful books on this big subject, and don't let anybody scream anti-semitism at you for checking them out of the library: Israel Shahak's Jewish History, Jewish Religion and anything by Norman Finkelstein.
BACK TO LILLIPUT: Linda Ruffing, former Fort Bragg city manager, enjoys an undoubtedly lush contract with Mendocino County as a consult to our Planning and Building Department. Her hire seems to have eluded our normally eagle-eyed scrutiny of the Supes' agenda consent calendar, via which the connected get this and that employment plum from County leadership.
EYES ONLY, BOONVILLE: Andres Alverado, a familiar sight around town recognizable for his positively military bearing, and also as a hard working man of many practical skills, remains confined to the Lakeport Post-Acute Care Home from a stroke that last year paralyzed the left side of his bod. A local visitor reports that Andres, 84, although dreaming of returning to his native Mexico, is in good spirits and that the facility itself is clean and the food good.
ATTORNEY PATRICK PEKIN SEEKS ELECTION TO OPEN JUDGESHIP
Ukiah and Fort Bragg, CA - Trial Attorney Patrick Pekin has declared his candidacy to fill the seat vacated by retiring Superior Court Judge John Behnke. Judge Behnke announced on October 16, 2019 that he will retire at the end his term. The election to fill the open seat will be held on March 3, 2020.
"I am thrilled by the tremendous outpouring of support for my candidacy," said Pekin. Pekin has been endorsed by a variety of community leaders, including Sheriff Tom Allman, Superior Court Judge Keith Faulder, Ukiah Fire Division Chief Kevin Jennings, Mendocino Fire Chief David Latoof, Anderson Valley Fire Chief Andres Avila, and Supervisors Ted Williams and John Haschak. He is also supported by current and former deputy district attorneys and deputy public defenders as well as many local attorneys and private citizens such as Zoe Sheppard, José Gaona, Pamela and Tom Hudson, Debra and Bob DeCarli and Henrietta Alva Munoz.
In addition to his privately retained clients, Pekin has been appointed by the Court to defend some of the most serious cases in Lake and Mendocino Counties. These cases include homicide, gang crimes and matters involving significant mental health issues. Prior to moving to Mendocino County, Pekin was appointed to represent inmates accused of committing in-prison crimes at the Soledad and Salinas Valley State Prisons--some of the highest-ranked security prisons in the State. Pekin also serves as a hearing officer by contract with Mendocino County.
Pekin graduated from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law where he was an editor of the environmental law journal, West/Northwest. He currently sits on the Mendocino County Behavioral Health Advisory Board and is a firefighter with the Mendocino Volunteer Fire Department. As a firefighter, Pekin has responded to ocean rescues, fires, car accidents and medical emergencies. Pekin serves on the Mendocino Volunteer Fire Department Strike Team to assist with county- and state-wide fire incidents.
With his wife and their three young sons, Patrick has put down deep roots in Mendocino County because of its natural beauty and strong community values. Pekin declared, "I am dedicated to preserving Mendocino County's uniqueness for the benefit of all our children."
Said Pekin: "Judge Behnke's combination of humor, grace and intellect made him appreciated by all parties who stood before him. Having practiced throughout the State, I can attest to the fact that Mendocino County is fortunate to have judges who take the time to listen to all parties and ensure a fair process. I will follow the traditions and approach of Judge Behnke, and the Mendocino County Bench, in guaranteeing an open and impartial process for all."
SUPERVISOR WILLIAMS: "Staff direction to apply our transient occupancy tax to private campgrounds with funds distribution to local fire agencies, 75% direct split and 25% at the annual recommendation of the fire chiefs passed on a 4-0 vote Tuesday. This will infuse struggling fire departments with a share of approximately $1 million annually. We anticipate the final language being ready for vote next Tuesday, placing the item before voters in March. This tax will be paid almost entirely by visitors, closing a bed tax loophole. It’ll be run as a general tax with advisory, meaning it needs 50% + 1 to pass. Some years the 25% might simply be divided. Other years, joint training needs could be addressed for the common good."
DR. BURNS FROM MENDOCINO ANIMAL HOSPITAL will be at the Anderson Valley Farm Supply seeing patients on Thursday, December 19th. She's there between 2:00 and 4:00 pm. People can always check the events section of our Facebook page for more information - it's always posted when we're going to be there.
BOONVILLE QUIZ NEXT THURSDAY
This Thursday, Nov. 7, is the first Thursday - so no Quiz. We shall return on the 2nd Thursday - next week, November 14th at 7pm. This will be the only Quiz in November as the 4th Thursday will be Thanksgiving (November 28th) and by 7pm in the evening the brain cells will not be functioning very well. Hope to see you next week. Cheers, Steve Sparks, The Quiz Master
CATCH OF THE DAY, November 6, 2019
ISMAEL CEJA-REYES, Ukiah. Failure to appear.
AMBER DILLON, Willits. Probation revocation.
DION EAGAN, Fort Bragg. Protective order violation.
SAMANTHA ESPANOLA-NORTON, Willits. Probation revocation.
JOHN PATRICK, Redwood Valley. Domestic abuse.
JAMISON WEINBERG, Mendocino. DUI, failure to appear.
BILL MCKIBBEN on U.S. Withdrawal from Paris Accord, California Fires, Climate Refugees & More:
The Trump administration notified the United Nations Monday that it would withdraw the U.S. from the historic Paris climate agreement, starting a year-long process to leave the international pact to fight the climate crisis. The United States — the world’s largest historic greenhouse gas emitter — will become the only country outside the accord. Trump’s announcement of the withdrawal came on the first day possible under the agreement’s rules. From Middlebury, Vermont, we speak with Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org. “The decision of the United States to be the only country on Earth unwilling to take part in a global attempt at a solution to the greatest crisis we’ve ever faced — there’s a lot to be ashamed of in the Trump years and a lot of terrible things that have happened — it’s pretty hard to top that,” says McKibben.
The house we live in has been insured with AAA homeowners insurance for the past 40 years. We just got a letter stating AAA will no longer renew our policy because we live in a high fire risk area. How has that changed? Did AAA suddenly realize where we live, where the house has been for the past 40 years while it was insured? I am astounded that it can just decide not to renew our policy after insuring it for the past 40 years. This seems like it can’t possibly be legal. Is AAA going to stop insuring all homes in Sonoma County because of fire risk? I simply can’t wrap my head around this as it seems so wrong.
Rorbert & Christine Ault
THE NATIONALS’ DISCORDANT WHITE HOUSE CELEBRATION
by Dave Zirin
Members of the Washington Nationals went to the White House to celebrate their World Series victory on Monday, and a MAGA rally broke out. In the normally apolitical post-win ceremony, Mr. National, Ryan Zimmerman, spoke directly to Trump in his remarks, saying, “We’d also like to thank you for keeping everyone safe in our country, and continuing to make America the greatest country to live in the world.”
But even that was dwarfed by catcher Kurt Suzuki’s whipping out and donning a MAGA hat as Trump bizarrely embraced Suzuki from behind, his hands cupping Suzuki’s bosom.
When asked about his MAGA move, Suzuki texted USA Today Sports: “Just trying to have some fun. Everybody makes everything political. It was about our team winning the World Series.” As Christine Brennan wrote, “Of course, Suzuki was the one who made this political, not the people who looked on shocked.”
Why was this all so tin-eared? First and foremost, the Nationals don’t exactly represent MAGA country. Their fans—as one cacophonous entity—booed Donald Trump during Game 5 of the World Series. Those boos and the subsequent booing Trump received at an Ultimate Fighting Championship event in New York City over the weekend have sent Trump into such a tailspin of neediness that he will be attending his third sporting event in the last two weeks this Saturday in Alabama, with the hope of finally finding a sports audience that doesn’t find him odious.
The actions of Suzuki also felt like a rebuke of his friend Sean Doolittle, who refused to attend the White House celebration, saying about Trump to The Washington Post, “I don’t want to hang out with somebody who talks like that.”
As Doolittle explained to the Post, “There’s a lot of things, policies that I disagree with, but at the end of the day, it has more to do with the divisive rhetoric and the enabling of conspiracy theories and widening the divide in this country. My wife and I stand for inclusion and acceptance, and we’ve done work with refugees, people that come from, you know, the ‘shithole countries’.” That last statement was, of course, a reference to Trump’s racist description of Haiti, El Salvador, and African nations in a January 2018 meeting.
“At the end of the day, as much as I wanted to be there with my teammates and share that experience with my teammates, I can’t do it,” Doolittle said. “I just can’t do it.”
Even if Doolittle was the furthest person from Suzuki’s mind, the catcher should have at least been self-aware enough to see how his old friend and the DC masses who supported Doolittle’s principled stance would take his actions.
While Doolittle received the lion’s share of attention for declining the White House’s invitation, seven other Nationals joined him in staying home: superstar third baseman Anthony Rendon; pitchers Joe Ross, Javy Guera, and Wander Suero; centerfielders Victor Robles and Michael Taylor; and second baseman Wilmer Difo.
This is also a moment to remember that anyone looking for some kind of athletic resistance to the current administration from the world of baseball—particularly the white world of baseball—will be left wanting. This is very conservative terrain, and always has been. The game cleanses itself and its history with progressive players like Jackie Robinson and Roberto Clemente. But the heroes who stood up to their bosses in addition to speaking up about politics, like Curt Flood, have been ostracized. It speaks volumes that Flood and union leader Marvin Miller, whose fight for free agency changed the game as significantly as Robinson, are not in the National Baseball Hall of Fame, but that the commissioner who Miller dominated in every negotiation, Bowie Kuhn, is enshrined in Cooperstown.
Many Nationals fans said on social media that the team’s embrace of Trump after their the stadium’s sonorous rejection of the president diminishes their World Series win. I would argue that the players have the right to their politics, no matter how discordant with the community in which they play. But we should thank our lucky stars for Sean Doolittle, Anthony Rendon, and the others who stayed away. In the context of baseball, that’s a regular insurgency. But because a win is a win and sometimes we need a win, Washington Nationals will always be the 2019 World Series Champions. Not even Trump can ruin that.