As you've probably heard by now, last weekend U.S. Navy SEAL snipers rescued the American sea captain who offered himself as a hostage to save his crew from Somali pirates. As a result of this incident, the pirate crisis in the Indian Ocean, a rampant problem since the early '90s, has finally finangled itself into the American conscious. It feels like hyperbole to think of these pirates as terrorists; if anything, they're a bunch of misguided teenagers, hoodlums, and theives. They strike with harpoons and handguns, not molotov cocktails. This is not intended to trivialize or marginalize a serious problem; they simply lack the coordination and lust for an oppressive new world order than, say, The Taliban. (It's rumored that Al Qaida has a base outside the capital city of Mogadishu, and the Somali population is mostly Islamic, but that's another story.)
There's no question that as a country Somalia is in really bad shape; one roving journalist was quoting as saying last year that "(it) makes Iraq look like Switzerland in comparision." It's a lawless hellhole of a land, where poverty is rampant, the government is corrupt, and anti-American sentiments have been simmering since the "Black Hawk Down" incident 16 years ago. Somalia is near the top of a long and sorry list of African countries with weak (if not non-existant) central leadership, teetering on the brink of civil war and/or genocide. This is a problem with no easy solution, and as long as Somalia has no governing authority and no one to police their actions, the Gulf of Aden may very well be most dangerous body of water on the planet. Most of the European Union learned this the hard way, and last week the United States did, too.
+ For all the attention that Harry Kalas has received for his passing, all deserving and very affectionate, the sudden death of Mark "The Bird" Fidrych has gotten lost in the media shuffle. The ex-Tigers pitcher was found on his farm in Northborough, MA, and of this writing foul play had not been ruled out in his death. Though Fidrych only pitched one full season in the bigs, a memorable rookie season where he went 19-9 with a 2.34 ERA and a now-staggering 24 complete games, he's best remembered as being one of the quirkiest players to ever take the field. I am not a Detroit native nor was I alive to see the "Summer of Bird," but Fidrych made his presence known in old footage on ESPN Classic and the MLB Network. He would play with the dirt on the mound, he held conversations with the ball before he threw it, and high-fived his teammates in the middle of a game. Fidrych didn't have superstitions, he had shtick. He was a genuinely colorful guy in a game addled by cheaters and prima donnas, and to see him die just before his 55th birthday is a damn shame.
+ I finally listened to the new Springsteen album. I liked it, but I didn't necessarily love it.
+ I finished third out of five in my fantasy hockey league. Not... awful.
Next Week: WU #200... well, at TV.com, anyway.