|Joined: 03 Jun 2014
| I'm trying to think of a polite way to say this
|Minutes before Wednesday's hearing on the proposed new allocations, hundreds of farmers and fruit pickers paraded down the streets of Fresno, shouting "No water, no food!" and "Without water, we will perish!" A caravan of tractors and trucks loaded with oranges rumbled from City Hall to the hearing room at a hotel.
Once inside, they wasted no time telling representatives from the EPA and U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife about the plan to deed at least 800,000 acre-feet of water from farms for the smelt and other threatened fish and wildlife species.
Keith Nilmeier, a fourth generation grape and fruit grower, strode up to the podium wearing a cowboy hat and suspenders and an angry stare.
"I take my hat off to you today not out of respect for what you're doing but so you can see my face and remember it," Nilmeier said. " 'Cause you're talking about taking away our jobs and our way of life to save some fish.
"Well look at our faces. We're endangered species too. The family farmer."
For 15 years, California officials have struggled with how to reconcile saving one of the state's most valuable natural resources--the huge estuary that reaches from San Francisco almost to Sacramento--with the desire to keep the tap running to cities and farms.
But the state refused to act and the federal government, facing a lawsuit by 16 environmental groups, stepped in last year to propose water quality standards that would alter the equation between farms, cities and wildlife. The goal is to reduce the estuary's high salt levels by leaving more fresh water in the delta certain times of the year to hold back saltwater intrusion from San Francisco Bay.
In normal snowpack years, the 800,000 acre-feet held back from San Joaquin Valley farms might not be a problem, farmers say. But in drought years, farmers say they would have no guarantee of enough water to stay in business.
"You people don't understand the effect of what you're proposing," said David Daniel, a produce packer from Mendota, an impoverished valley town where officials predict massive layoffs if the plan goes into effect as written.
"How can you retrain a 45-year-old farm worker like myself. What kind of money will it take to teach people like me another way of life?"
Environmentalists point out that there are two kinds of farming in this valley--the sustainable crops grown along California 99 and eastward and the subsidized cotton and alfalfa grown on weak, salty land on the westside. The farms most affected by the proposed changes, they say, are the less viable westside operations.
Hamilton had an MRI examination and the Angels have been told that the injury should heal on its own, ruling out the kind of severe strain that would require surgery.
"This thing has to heal on its own terms," Scioscia said. "We'll see where it leads."
Hamilton played 151 games last season, his highest total since 2008. If he cannot start the season in left field, J.B. Shuck probably would.
Hamilton, 32, batted .250 with 21 home runs and a .739 OPS last season, a disappointing first year of his five-year, $125-million contract with the Angels. In his final season with the Texas Rangers, he batted .285 with 43 home runs and a .930 OPS.
Hats off to C.J. Wilson
On the day after he was hit in the head by a line drive, C.J. Wilson said he had no interest in wearing the specially lined caps now available to protect pitchers.
"It's like wearing a bucket on your head," Wilson said.
The first such cap approved by Major League Baseball weighs 10 to 11 ounces, rather than the usual three or four. No pitcher has announced plans to wear the cap this season, and MLB has encouraged other manufacturers to design their versions, presumably lighter ones.
Wilson said he tried one of the available caps at a union meeting over the off-season.
"I'm trying to think of a polite way to say this: Literally, they're terrible," Wilson said. "They're a terrible design. They're cumbersome. It's impossible to pitch with one of those on."
Wilson was hit on the side of his head while pitching to Yorvit Torrealba in batting practice. He was bloodied but remained conscious and alert. He said he required no stitches, and he was cleared in a CT scan late Tuesday.
He said he expects to make his Cactus League debut Saturday as scheduled.