EXORCISM: The Tampa Bay Devil Rays finished dead last in their Major League Baseball division for nine of the last 10 seasons. Over the winter, the franchise exorcised the "Devil" from the team name, and this year the Tampa Bay Rays are tied with the Philadelphia Phillies at one game apiece in the World Series.
Coincidence? We'll wait until after the Series to ponder that. In the meantime, it's just a good thing they're not playing the LA/Anaheim Angels.
TURNOVER TIME: This is worth remarking, if not celebrating -- this week, the American military turned over the 12th of 18 Iraq provinces to Iraqi control. This one was the area once known as the "triangle of death." Whether you count that as a mark of success or a step toward troop withdrawal, it's a hopeful sign -- and a measure of just how well our troops have done in stabilizing a violent land.
NIAGARA INEXPERIENCE: This can't be good -- longtime Niagara Falls historian and activist Paul Gromosiak has resigned in frustration from the group that's been trying to put together the Niagara Experience regional tourism center in the Falls. He was a motive force in that concept, and his departure means a lot less push for public officials to get it done.
Niagara Experience always was going to be a heavy financial lift, and the state's economic crisis has pretty much put it on hold, at the very least. But it should go back on the front burner ASAP. If Niagara Falls is to remain a world-class attraction -- and public officials on both sides of the gorge should stop taking that for granted -- then it needs a world-class visitors center with links to attractions throughout this region. That's Economic Development 101, around here.
HOLIDAY FIREWORKS: There are a lot of folks in the business world who won't stand up on principle these days -- the proof of that is in your quarterly 401(k) statement -- so here's a starburst of recognition for a Long Island fireworks company that just did.
Fireworks by Grucci pulled out of a holiday event in Patchogue because the politically correct organizers decided to keep the theming but drop the word "Christmas" from what is now the Patchogue Holiday Boat Parade. So the parade might have a little less flare this year, but the company is making a fiery point about religious holiday secularization.
ELECTION RULES: With Election Day only 10 days away, campaigns are pushing hard to garner those undecided votes that could make a difference. You may be surprised -- shocked, even -- to know they sometimes push a little inappropriately. But as someone once said, politics ain't bean bag.
Because campaigns sometimes try to corner the market in letters to the editor with what we in the trade call Astroturf -- fake grass-roots letters -- we curtail some types of letters and give the space to other community issues in the final days. Starting Monday, we no longer will print letters either praising or criticizing specific local candidates, although the presidential race and general election or endorsement commentary are still fair game. After next Sunday, we'll print no political letters until the election. We still will allow unlimited postings on the online blogs that will accompany each of our endorsement editorials.