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Things I'm Thinking 07/24/13

Evan Budrovich |
July 24, 2013 | 8:34 p.m. PDT

Guest Contributor

Editor's Note: "Things I'm Thinking 07/24/13" is part of Calum Hayes' summer opinion series, Things I'm Thinking.

The issue of steroid use in MLB isn't going away. (Wikimedia Commons)
The issue of steroid use in MLB isn't going away. (Wikimedia Commons)
1. I’m thinking that the hype surrounding Royal Baby Joeffrey is a rather large nuisance for everyone. The massive attention focused on the first child of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and husband Prince William is overblown and unnecessary. With the entire political, social, economical and journalistic worlds seemingly sitting on their heels waiting for news of a royal descendant, the long-awaited birth of Joeffrey dominated all forms of social media.

Following Monday’s much-anticipated trip out of labor, the Mother Country has been gifted its crown jewel. The importance of a son, born to hopefully, one day, take the reigns of the Royal British Empire, sounds fine and dandy on paper. But should we really redirect all the attention we pay to the rest of the world toward the birth of this one child?

The media, all kinds of media, allocated massive amounts of manpower on this story in order to get a big piece of the royal pie. BuzzFeed Britian summed up the media fiasco best with a precise pie chart. Speculative Bullocks (I.E. a whole bunch of nothing), and tweeting about the Royal Baby topped the charts by a wide margin. Fittingly enough, people complaining about people tweeting finished a close third in the pie chart.

Despite the fact that viewers, Brits included, are starting to understand the crime of massive coverage surrounding a semi-meaningless event, people still love their news, whether good, bad, dramatic or ugly.

What really strikes my inquisitive mind is the selection of the name Joffrey Baratheon, current ruler of the Seven Kingdoms, having claimed the Iron Throne after his father, King Robert Baratheon, died. The name is actually the bastard son of the incestuous relationship between Ser Jaime Lannister and Queen Cersei Lannister. Thank you, Google, for some help on "Game of Thrones." I was hoping, this time, that someone in the Royal Family would have warned Catherine and William about their name choice. And I’m not the only dissenting opinion in the room.

What truly grinds my gears is the fact the birth of one child - granted, an important and highly publicized one - can outshine the thousands of other children born the same day with just as much love and care filling their hearts. We have been taught for generations that every child is special and deserves recognition for its entrance into the world. The gift of life is sacred, but it seems that the life of a royal child that has done nothing in this world but enter it, is already the most talked about infant in recent memory.

2. I’m thinking that Steroid altercations may never go away. The good old game of Major League Baseball is in the midst of a terrifying scandal in which the Steroid Era, the one we all thought was over, has negatively resurfaced with massive implications coming its way.

America’s game is stuck in a conundrum of sorts, with some of its most iconic players facing hefty punishments for crimes that have snuck under the radar of investigation in recent years. All these recent findings can be traced to Tony Bosch, the fake doctor who ran the Biogenesis Clinic exposed by the Miami New Times earlier this year, who merely had to tell MLB everything that went on at his defunct business to drop a lawsuit.  

Players on the Biogenesis list are beginning to face stiff penalties, most notably Ryan Braun’s season-ending suspension, handed down on Monday. The bigger problem that will start to present itself is when playoff contenders loose key contributors like Bartolo Colon, Nelson Cruz, A-Rod or even Johnny Peralta.

I’m thinking that the archaic sport of baseball has always taken matters slowly, and that moving with any real sense of conviction or aggressiveness would be contrary to the style and essence of the game itself. That being said, the competitive nature of the game, combined with a mind-numbing fascination with stats and records, makes maneuvers like these all the more predictable and sadly accepted in our world.

Players Union Chief Michael Weiner reacted to recent findings by saying, “I am deeply gratified to see Ryan taking this bold step,” adding that Braun’s suspension “vindicates the rights of all players under the Joint Drug Agreement.”

This is a solid course of action to take, but when players like Alex Rodriguez are reportedly trying to work out a deal with MLB Executives over a likely second suspension worth 150 games, something tells me the nature of "win at all costs and the rest will fall into place," continues to plague the sport.

I’m thinking that fans play a huge part in this culture of large endorsement deals, mounting expectations and lofty aspirations with championship or bust on the line. So, maybe, in the end, crushing blows to the sport like watching Ryan Braun brutally lie in the face of America’s young men and women is something we should just come to expect.

3. I'm thinking that Pope Francis is not afraid to shake things up. The Pope's heavily policed visit comes at a time of social upheaval in Brazil with demonstrations quickly growing into massive street protests against government expenditures for hosting the 2014 Word Cup soccer tournament, and spread to include protests against official corruption. This country has seen its fair share of negative press; it may be time to take some action to help restore order in the faltering nation. 

Pope Francis, who began his first international tour as pontiff this week in Brazil, timed his visit perfectly with International Youth Day on Thursday, a very important day for active participation in the Catholic Church. The pontiff needs to be extremely careful on this trip, not only in terms of safety but also in terms of the course of action he takes around the world. Interacting with children of God is exactly what the church wants and needs for its people. That being said, deliberately choosing to use the same car he uses in St. Peter's Square, and not the bulletproof pope mobile, could be a rather dangerous tactic for the pontiff.

Protestors and fans alike lined the streets in Rio on Monday, welcoming the arrival of the first Pope from a Latin American Continent. Something that did not bother the pontiff, who was quick to voice his appreciation for the kind hospitality he received:

"Thank you to all of you and to all the authorities for a magnificent welcome in Rio. #Rio2013 #JMJ," Pope Francis (@Pontifex) said on Twitter on July 23, 2013.

What interests me the most about Pope Francis is how active he already is within the community, not only in person but also on Twitter and other social media sites. Already on Twitter with 2.7 million followers, the Pontiff has a strong pull in the online world, delivering nearly 100 tweets of praise and stories of justice.

Apart from the papal Twitter account, the Vatican has launched an online news portal supported by an app and a Facebook page, and it plans to use the online social networking site Pinterest. What seems like fun and games in the short turn, may have taken an interesting turn for the worst late last week when reports surfaced that “Time Off Purgatory” has been offered for followers of Pope Francis tweets.

During his opening speech to the congregation at the Vatican, Pope Francis set precedents to be one of the people for the people, whether rich or poor. Steps taken in this recent trip to Brazil, visiting prisons in Rio, giving blessings and prayer for hope to impoverished neighborhoods across the nation...The greatest outlier in this entire process remains whether these enhanced efforts to engage the younger generation are actually working. A recent Quinnipiac poll finds that among American Catholics aged 18-40, 46 percent think that the Church is out of touch with the views of Catholics.

When it comes to the question of whether the Church should move in a new direction, 18-40-year-olds support a new direction by 56 percent. So, while modern social media and outreach may be able to partially patch up the image of the Church as old and out of touch with the pubic, I’m thinking that without more substantial change, the Church’s youth outreach will only become increasingly more difficult.


Reach Guest Contributor Evan Budrovich here.



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