How’s this for a movie plot?
Executives of a couple of major league baseball teams are having a phone conversation about ways to boost interest and excitement in the game.
“How about if we don’t play a game — just one game — in either of our multimillion-dollar stadiums,” the first exec says. “Let’s play where fans least expect it.”
The other picks up on the idea. “In a town so small the number of fans will be double the entire town’s population.”
“Let’s put the ballfield out in a cornfield — like Kevin Costner’s character did in that ‘Field of Dreams’ movie.”
“Heck, let’s play at the Field of Dreams.”
“But not some exhibition, using our bench players or minor leaguers. The game will count in the league standings.”
“Let’s do it.”
Well, such a plot – one that might seem too far-fetched even for Hollywood — is playing out in reality. In Dyersville, Iowa.
The Chicago White Sox and New York Yankees will play an official American League game at the Field of Dreams complex on Thursday, Aug. 13, 2020.
Unbelievable? Believe it.
The White Sox and Yankees, two of the American League’s original franchises, will play on a field and 8,000-seat ballpark specifically built for the contest by Major League Baseball. It will be adjacent to the cornfield-turned-diamond that was used for the 1989 movie and has remained a tourist magnet ever since.
With construction of the ballpark due to begin tomorrow — exactly a year before the game — there is plenty more to be said about this historic event. So, for the time being, we’ll just say, “Is this heaven?”
The Iowa Board of Education the other day passed a rule, subject to legislative approval, that new buses purchased by public and state-accredited private schools will be equipped with lap-shoulder safety belts.
It’s about time.
After decades of thin arguments, dubious excuses and sketchy applications of the rules of physics, officials are finally acknowledging what common sense has told us all along: It is simply too dangerous to have dozens of kids bouncing around, unrestrained, inside a moving vehicle.
We’ve figured that out regarding children in individual motor vehicles. Little kids are strapped and protected, under penalty of law, in car seats. And then, when they become old enough to attend school, we put them on a school bus, where they and their schoolmates, ride around with virtually no safety protection?
Fortunately, the state board overruled the worst argument of all against the restraints: the expense. Some school districts whined that requiring belts would add to the cost of buses – currently about $8,000 more per bus. That’s the price they’ve set for children’s safety? And the claim that kids are actually safer riding around loose, and that extra padding on the seat backs is sufficient? That’s not worth the argument.
While it’s good news that the change is pending – lawmakers, don’t mess this up – the bad news is that, for many years yet, thousands of Iowa children will be riding around loose in buses. The new rule applies only to new buses.
But this common-sense change needs to start somewhere.
“The Bee Branch sewer has been commenced, and when completed according to the plans adopted will relieve the people from further damage by flood in the northern part of the city.”
Sound familiar, Dubuquers?
Actually, that statement is not from a recent City of Dubuque press release or the pages of the Telegraph Herald. No, it appeared April 6, 1900, in the Dubuque Herald. (The Herald and Telegraph had yet to merge.)
If at first you don’t succeed, spend, spend again.
After decades of damage and the incursion of buildings and streets near and even over the existing creek bed — yes, somebody decided burying the creek was a good idea — Dubuque finally has been tackling the Bee Branch flooding problem in a big way.
Unlike the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when the City of Dubuque tried to solve the matter with an investment of $20,000 — and took years spending even that — the current Bee Branch Watershed Flood Mitigation Project, when it is finally completed, will cost closer to $232 million.
The next phase of the project is construction of the Bee Branch Creek Railroad Culvert, which had its kickoff ceremony last week. City officials say that this important step — installing a half-dozen culverts eight feet in diameter under the railroad tracks near Garfield Avenue — will greatly increase the system’s capacity to protect the neighborhood from flooding. Instead of handling just “a 75-year rain event,” which these days seems to happen every other year or so, it could handle a 500-year event.
Incredible as it might seem, flood damage in the Bee Branch area has been an issue for most of Dubuque’s history. Unlike the high hopes, poor judgment and minimal investment of 120 years ago, the current project has had no shortage of time, forethought and money. This time around, we can’t help but believe it’s going to work.