Wars. Lockouts. James Harden on the Sixers. Failing markets. The return of heat today. There’s so much going on today as the month of February ends and March arrives- along with the Spring, St. Patrick’s Day, March Madness, and God willing, baseball.
It was a fun weekend here. I spent Saturday night on Fremont Street, watching bands and sipping on a vodka/green apple slushy. I decided to finally go in a casino. The casino I picked ended up being the Golden Nugget- in honor of my dog, Nugget. I played $1 on a Penny slot machine and ended up with $.12. I’m not a gambler.
Presidents fighting Russians on the ground, crippling sanctions, nuclear threats- and the Russian invasion of Ukraine is only days old. Things have not gone according to Vladimir Putin’s plans. The Ukrainians have proven resourceful and willing to fight for their nation and future self determination. Superior weapons and conventional tactics haven’t made the difference for Russia because the Ukraine has had the will to do whatever it takes to win. Champion boxers have taken up arms to fight. A marine blew up a bridge with himself on it to stop their tanks. Miss Ukraine is armed and shooting. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Russia may still wear them down and eventually win, but the cost in blood will almost certainly not be worth it.
It won’t be in dollars either, and that should scare the shit out of you. President Biden and his allies have imposed sanctions on Russia that should inflict a depression the likes of which they haven’t seen. We’re talking real life conditions in Russia they haven’t seen since the Nazis invaded them. On Thursday and Friday the oligarchs were losing over a billion dollars an hour in their net values. That will get worse this week. They will pressure Putin to win or get out. That was the point of the sanctions. We have never seen Putin cornered like that. He’s already making noises about having his nukes ready. The next several days could be a very scary place, or even deadly.
Russia had no legitimate reason to attack Ukraine. They’re not the first country to start an unwarranted war, and probably not the last. Whether this was ultimately about “Historic Russia”/Neo-Soviet aspirations (it was) or NATO expansion (it mostly wasn’t), Putin needs to be taught a harsh lesson, or just flat out removed now. His nationalistic, “historic Russia” rambling speech could be seen as the opening salvo in a campaign that sees him trying to take countries in Central Asia, Finland, Poland, or even as far west as Slovakia. Estonia, Latvia, they’re basically gone if he has his way. It’s going to be a dangerous, ugly week. God willing, everyone survives it. That includes Russian citizens hoping for a better tomorrow. They didn’t pick this pathway.
Well, it’s finally here- MLB’s self-imposed “deadline day” to get a deal to end the lockout and start the season. Never mind that the owners locked the players out, refused to put forward a real offer for over 40 days, and now refuse to offer much of anything for the tens of millions they each want for expanded playoffs. At the heart of this is a broken economic system where every owner in the league makes $100 million (on the lowest end) between their local TV deal and the national TV deal, yet 12 teams didn’t even carry that in payroll. Remember, that was before they sold you a single $30 (upper deck) ticket, got your parking money, got your $13 for a beer, sold jerseys and hats, or got your parking money. That’s not taking into account the access to capitol owners have for owning these assets- even the small market Kansas City Royals sold for over a billion dollars just a few years ago. These guys have a license to print money. They won’t pay minor leaguers the minimum wage.
The owners should absolutely get their expanded playoffs, even though “traditionalists” like me hate it. They deserve to grow the game since they invested in it. In exchange they should set a salary floor, raise the luxury tax threshold, and pay minor leaguers better. They’re resisting doing that, even though they would still win on the deal. Instead they want to delegitimize the season. The NFL is a way more disgusting league to watch, but at least they don’t self-sabotage.
I’m not going to say beating the Timberwolves (playoff bound) and Knicks (dead enders) shows the Sixers to be more likely to win a title with James Harden in this season. I am going to say that Harden looks happier, healthier, and like his skills are still on point so far. He’s dropped a triple double, Embiid is still putting in 30+ a game, and Maxey looks like a budding star through two games together. Sure, they need to get Tobias involved more, and sure, they need to figure out the rotations. With that said, they have three guys playing at an All-Star level right now, and the best player in the league this year. That’s why I’m hopeful for a title.