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040518-RIVER-BANDITS-013

River Bandits players are introduced as fireworks go off in the outfield and confetti streamers fall on the field before their opening day game at Modern Woodmen Park in Davenport on Thursday, April 5, 2018.

Andy Abeyta Quad-City Times

Thumbs up to Quad-Cities River Bandits, an organization which this week began a defense of its league title.

It might not feel like spring, but meaningful baseball games are an unofficial harbinger of pollen allergies and rising temperatures. That alone, especially with this stubborn cold snap, is enough for us.

But the Bandits as a franchise deserves a fair share of praise. It's a major donor to area charities and not-for-profits. It annually funds numerous college scholarships.

And the charity is made possible only by the team's success. Owner Dave Heller is more P.T. Barnum than Charles Comisky. The man likes to put on a show. It's an approach not without detractors, especially baseball purists who find the carnival-like atmosphere a bit garish.

Yet, Heller's model has steadily boosted attendance since he purchased the club. The baseball is often solid, largely thanks to a strong Astros farm system. And a lot of families obviously enjoy the rides.

Plus, minor league baseball — perhaps more than any other professional sport — is supposed to be a little weird. And that kitsch contributes to a successful franchise that's likely to stay put for years to come.  

Thumbs down to Gov. Kim Reynolds, whose office confirmed Friday it would ship Iowa National Guard units to the U.S.-Mexico border if President Donald Trump comes calling.

Trump's idea to militarize the border doesn't make much practical sense, anyway. Illegal border crossing are at their lowest levels in decades. Military units are, for good reason, barred from actual police work, instead limited to supporting roles. And, thanks to the good ol' Third Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, they can only be stationed on public land. Most of the border runs on private property.

Sending members of Iowa's guard to aid in Trump's folly would be an egregious waste of already stressed resources. 

Thumbs up to Gathering of the Green, as much a celebration of the region's culture as it is Deere and Co.'s history.

About 3,000 people attended last month's annual event in Davenport. They were met with plenty of antiquate farm equipment and a strong reminder that the Quad-Cities have long been a place where agriculture and industry intersect.  

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