Archive for October, 2008

Statewide Ballot Question 3: Dog Racing

As I mentioned in a previous post, in these weeks leading up to the election, I’ll be covering what will arguably be the most important (if not the most tangible) questions before Massachusetts residents on November 4th: the three statewide ballot questions.

Statewide Ballot Question 3: Dog Racing

The proposed law would prohibit dog racing in Massachusetts where betting/wagering occurs after Jan. 1, 2010. The civil penalty for dog racing would be $20,000 at a minimum.


This proposed law would prohibit any dog racing or racing meeting in Massachusetts where any form of betting or wagering on the speed or ability of dogs occurs.

The State Racing Commission would be prohibited from accepting or approving any application or request for racing dates for dog racing.

Any person violating the proposed law could be required to pay a civil penalty of not less than $20,000 to the Commission. The penalty would be used for the Commission’s administrative purposes, subject to appropriation by the state Legislature. All existing parts of the chapter of the state’s General Laws concerning dog and horse racing meetings would be interpreted as if they did not refer to dogs.

These changes would take effect January 1, 2010. The proposed law states that if any of its parts were declared invalid, the other parts would stay in effect.

A YES VOTE would prohibit dog races on which betting or wagering occurs, effective January 1, 2010.

A NO VOTE would make no change in the laws governing dog racing.


Here are the arguments on both sides:

In Favor

Those in favor of prohibiting dog racing in which betting occurs argue that dog racing is “cruel and inhumane.” I don’t know that voters should be so concerned with the “inhumane” aspect of this — I don’t believe the ballot question is suggesting we begin treating dogs like people — but I think the cruelty element is definitely present.

Caging: The cages they keep the dogs in are too small by some peoples’ (i.e., the Boston Animal Care and Adoption Center) standards.

The runs used for similarly sized dogs at the MSPCA Boston Animal Care and Adoption Center are approximately five times larger than the cages used at local racetracks.


Injuries/Fatalities: Dogs, like race cars, crash.

According to state records more than 800 racing greyhounds have been injured since 2002, including dogs who suffered broken legs, paralysis, head trauma and even death from cardiac arrest. A greyhound is injured every three to four days in Massachusetts.


“Documented Cruelty” –

More arguments here.  There is also greyhound rescue, as well as some adoption agencies in Massachusetts.  And if dog racing disgusts you, and you abhor exploitive, cruel treatment of animals, I might also suggest this website.

Not in Favor

Here is their decree in its entirety:

Parimutuel dog racing has taken place in Massachusetts for over 70 years, now only at Wonderland dog track in Revere, and Raynham/Taunton in Raynham. The greyhounds are owned by caring dog owners, not tracks. There is no mistreatment of the dogs as claimed by animal activists. The State Racing Commission fully regulates the industry, has veterinarians on duty at each track, and maintains numerous programs for the welfare of the dogs during their racing careers, and for adoption when their careers are over. About 1,000 people will lose badly needed jobs if the proposal is enacted. The Commonwealth, Revere and Raynham will lose badly needed revenue. From 2000 to 2007, these tracks paid over $40 million to the Commonwealth in commissions and fees, as well as other taxes related to their racing activities. Finally enactment will likely subject the Commonwealth to suits by the tracks for taking their property.


This is what I’ve gleaned:

  1. We’ve been doing this for like a wicked long time.  It can’t be bad, because we don’t do bad things for a wicked long time.
  2. “The greyhounds are owned by caring dog owners [them], not tracks [us].”  This might be my favorite argument, because they are essentially arguing that the reason dog racing is so perfectly harmless is because they, the tracks, don’t own the dogs — caring dog owners own the dogs.  I guess this means that the implicitly uncaring tracks that feed, shelter, and oversee the health of the animals with on-staff veterinarians have just a marginal effect on the well-being of the dogs.
  3. Fine — we treat the dogs like not so well, but if you vote “yes” on question 3, about 1,000 people will lose their jobs!  In these difficult economic times, we can’t afford not to race dogs.
  4. “The Commonwealth, Revere and Raynham will lose badly needed revenue.”  Wait, Revere makes revenue?
  5. “Finally enactment will likely subject the Commonwealth to suits by the tracks for taking their property.”  Okay.  So we don’t really have an argument.  Just know that if the people democratically decide to pass this bill, we’re going to sue the shirts off their backs.  Yes?

The worst part about the defense is that they don’t even present their strongest, and perhaps only, argument: dogs are not humans, and by privileging them, you are restricting the freedom of rational human beings who choose to attend racing events.

The Tragedy of Tim Wakefield

Five years ago, on October 17, 2003, Tim Wakefield gave up an 11th-inning home run to Aaron Boone, a career .264 hitter best known for being someone’s brother.

If there is one memorable moment, one play that Boston fans most associate with Tim Wakefield, that is it.  And I don’t think there are any hard feelings (Grady Little got most of those and rightfully so), but the fact remains that Tim Wakefield, for all he has contributed to the Red Sox in his thirteen-plus years of service, simply does not receive the credit that I figure he somehow has to deserve by this point.

If I watched more television sitcoms, I could probably draw an apt analogy here.  Feel free to comment with suggestions.

But to say that the tragedy of Tim Wakeifled is simply a lack of attention or fan loyalty is wrong.  To understand what is so deeply disturbing about Wakefield’s predicament, we have to look at his identity as a professional pitcher.

To Don Orsillo, Jerry Remy, the screaming afternoon guys on WEEI, and the rest of the local media, Wakefield’s simply the guy who pitches between the shaky number 5 guy in the rotation, and the young rising arm that has been slotted number 3.  There’s never much to say about Wakefield.  The most you’ll hear is that the knuckleball is unpredictable.  A Wakefield start rests on the fate of the knuckleball.

The national media treats a Wakefield outing a bit like a trip to the circus.  This is the knuckleballer we’ve been telling you about! Watch him barely wind up!  He could throw forever if he had to!  Look at him go!  Hands away from the cage!  Hands away from the cage!

Wakefield the pitcher is eclipsed by the pitch of his own labor.  His knuckleball will forever overshadow his consistent career statistics, his generally good demeanor, his selfless willingness to take the mound whenever called upon.  His cumulative contributions to the Red Sox since 1995 could stack up against any other player in the last two decades.  Amongst the team’s all-time leaders, he is 3rd in wins, 2nd in games played, 3rd in innings pitched, and 2nd in strikeouts.

But he’s known first and foremost for a pitch he throws.

The ball, once it leaves his fingernails, does not spin.  A good knuckleball moves independent of its host’s release.  Wakefield cannot control it.  It is, by design, chaotic and erratic.  The better Wakefield throws the ball, the less spin it has, the less control he has over it.

The plight of Tim Wakefield is that no matter how well he pitches, the results are more independent of his actions than those of any other player in baseball.

In tonight’s game, Wakefield went 2.2 innings.  He may have completely mis-delivered all game, or the game time temperature could have been a few degrees cooler than needed for an effective knuckleball.  He could have pitched the worst game of his career, or pitched exactly as he did on the 28th of September when he gave up 0 runs against the Yankees.  Walking off the mound, staring at the ground, it was difficult to tell what happened to Wakefield tonight.  I couldn’t bring myself to completely blame him for the abysmal innings, and I don’t know if Wakefield himself could take full accountability for it either.

If this accountability conundrum plagues Wakefield when he’s losing, what can we say of when he’s winning?  It is as if Wakefield is not as good or as bad as the pitch he throws.  There is Tim Wakefield, and then there is the knuckleball.

Who is Tim Wakefield and what does he deserve?

This is the tragedy of Tim Wakefield.


The Lloyd Family Players. Photo courtesy of bos_lauren.

The Lloyd Family Players. Photo courtesy of bos_lauren.

This weekend in Davis Square…I know, I’m biased…was the 3rd Annual Honk! Festival. Basically a ton of bands from all over the country turned the Square into a horn and percussion music festival. They are protest, grassroots, political bands who make people shake and stomp and clap as a form of protest, thus hopefully serving as a catalyst for change.

I happened upon this festival last year. I had been living in Somerville for all of two months and when I saw this transformation of Davis Square, I knew I had picked the perfect neighborhood to live. This year, I’m living even closer and so I had to stop by. This time I brought friends and now even more people are hooked. We walked up and down the street, letting the music draw us in. We danced with strangers and did some people watching for the ages. There are some serious characters that come out for this. Next year, I promise to give you a heads up, but reserve Columbus Day weekend 2009 now.

Yeah, what he said.

I would like to second Michael’s post about making sure you are registered to vote. All your passion, support, and time spent following the candidates and their positions will be for naught if you can’t even cast your ballot. This is even more pressing because I just read on the website of another city’s newspaper (we won’t name it here) that many states may be engaging in inadvertent illegal purging of voter rolls as they try to comply with a 2002 federal law: the Help America Vote Act. So make sure your house is in order and register!

Beware the Ides of October: Registering to Vote in Massachusetts

In the upcoming weeks, I’ll be writing a bit about the November 4th election as it relates to Bostonians.  I’ll cover a new ballot question each week and provide some mind-numbing state resources.  If you open your textbook, we’ll begin on page 292 with Massachusetts voter registration.

Those of you who will be 18 or older on election day and would like to vote, need to be registered.  As of this posting, you have 7 days to mail in your voter registration form; this mail-in voter registration form must be postmarked by October 15, 2008 — 20 days prior to the election, by law.

If you want to register to vote without leaving your couch, you need to complete an online form to actually get your voter registration form.  It’s kind of like a meta form, I guess.  It’s available here:  You can also show your age and request a voter registration form by phone (617-727-2828 or 1-800-462-VOTE).

Chapter Summary: Registering to Vote in MA

  1. Request a voter registration form (Now)
  2. Complete the voter registration form
  3. Mail or drop-off your voter registration form to your local city/town hall; addresses are listed here. (By Wednesday, October 15)

If you have any questions about this, for the love of God, don’t ask me.  We have a Secretary of the Commonwealth who gets paid to wade through this stuff.  His name is William Francis Galvin and he’s got quite the website:

Hello, Boston.

Technically, I joined the Boston Metblogs team twenty-five days ago.

For the last twenty-five days, I’ve not slept a wink. Instead, anxiously sweating my nights away, draft after draft of “Boston Metblogs First Post” littering my floor, I’ve fallen prey to one of the most crippling bouts of writer’s block in my life.

And I’ve tried everything. I sank myself into a deep, Fitzgerald-esque inebriation, hoping to loosen my tongue and facilitate the words. I attempted to invoke Poe with a hazy night of opiate indulgences and merely ended up ordering a cheese pizza. Stream-of-conscious notes failed me, only dredging up the most painful memories from the abyss of my psyche.

Writing in a turtleneck didn’t work.  The French beret I bought was too big, but it probably wouldn’t have worked either.  Writing in the nude certainly did not work.  Taking up smoking could not alleviate my struggle, and now I’m developing a cough.

At times, it felt as though I were a forgotten cosmonaut left over from 1975, endlessly floating through the eternal midnight of space, praying to the Holy Ghost for a black hole to put the young fool to rest. Desperation had set in. Two nights ago, I almost posted the entire first book of The Odyssey as my own work. The next morning, I hit rock bottom when I came to the absurd conclusion that jogging would remedy my ailment.

I’m going to be fired, I thought to myself. They’re going to call from Los Angeles and not even be formal about it: “You’re gone. We brought you on board twenty-five days ago and you promised us three posts a week. You haven’t published a word. Pack your goddamn bags, kid, and get outta here. We think you’re a qualitatively bad person.”

Have you ever been fired from an unpaid writing position on a blog network?  It can only be the most terribly degrading of experiences.

Hopefully, it won’t get to that point.

My name is Michael. I’m a Massachusetts born-and-raised, twenty-something-year-old. I’m just wrapping up the move to beautiful Somerville, Mass., where I look forward to bringing you the word on all things Boston.

If you’re interested in subscribing to my posts via RSS, the feed is:

Thanks for reading.

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