"Now, it's time for the happy recap." - Bob Murphy
December 23, 2004
BLOG: Merry Christmas!
I'll be out-of-blog until after Christmas. Enjoy the holidays, everyone!
(Emphasis added). This is one of those so-obvious-they-shouldn't-have-to-study-it points. Let me ask you this - take two 16-year old boys, one of whom does well in school, but is scrawny, has lots of acne, and is unpopular with girls (I speak from personal experience here); the other is a big, good-looking guy who's successful in sports, has lots of sex, and is barely passing his classes. Which one do you think has higher self-esteem, really? Anyone who's remotely familiar with teenagers should be able to tell you that teen self-esteem tends to be closely tied to whether they are on the giving or receiving end of various types of social ostracism and abuse, while perhaps the best of academic motivators among teenage boys, at least, is the desire to have a better life later than one's crummy existence as a teenager.
BLOG: Please Stand By
Yes, I'm aware that the comments section is plagued by many of the same error messages I've been getting whenever I try to post over the past week or so. For what it's worth, if anyone out there has had a similar issue, here's the error message:
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Internal Server Error
The server encountered an internal error or misconfiguration and was unable to complete your request.
Please contact the server administrator, firstname.lastname@example.org and inform them of the time the error occurred, and anything you might have done that may have caused the error.
More information about this error may be available in the server error log.
Apache/1.3.33 Server at www.baseballcrank.com Port 80
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December 21, 2004
BLOG: Slate Sale
Things you don't really want to hear from your company's executives on the day of a new acquisition:
Hope is not a business model. Then again, maybe the market believes that model is out there:
BLOG: Reading List
From the archives: my favorite books.
For what it's worth, what I'm reading right now: John Keegan, The First World War (more on this later; I can't put it down); Michael Kelly, Things Worth Fighting For; and a few others I started and have made slow progress on. I was very close to finishing John Fund's Stealing Elections and Stephen Hayes' The Connection before the election, but haven't made much headway since then. I also recently finished PJ O'Rourke's new book Peace Kills: America's Fun New Imperialism, which was OK but I'd already read the best stuff in article form.
December 17, 2004
Lileks shows his eye for the telling detail, even in an otherwise innocuous essay about a trip to Chuck E. Cheese:
December 16, 2004
BLOG: Another Lie Exposed!
December 14, 2004
BLOG: 2003-04 Traffic Report
I checked my traffic stats last night with the "Webalizer" feature at Hosting Matters. . . thought it would be interesting to chart this out. This is visits per day, but less important that what the actual number is is that it's a consistent measurement of the site's daily traffic since I moved to the Movable Type site:
Wow. And the thing is, you go around the blogosphere, you see a lot of people whose traffic patterns look something like this. Of course, it remains to be seen if I can keep up the momentum of the election, the 2004 postseason and some of the huge links I've had lately.
December 13, 2004
BLOG: You Like Me! You Really Like Me!
Well, the voting is in, and I have to say that I'm just flabbergasted that I actually won the 2004 Weblog Award for Best Sports Blog, taking 19.7% of the vote to 10.9% for the Athletics Nation community and 10.8% to Eric McErlain's Off Wing Opinion. (I'll have to add Athletics Nation to my regular reads). Of course, particularly given that this blog covers only one sport and somewhat sporadically, this award probably should have gone to someone like David Pinto, but I'm flattered nonetheless that, by my calculations, more than 670 of you voted for me. I'll try to do my best to live up to the honor in the coming year.
December 06, 2004
BLOG: Out of Service
I've been off line since Thursday night due to computer difficulties (I'll get into those later), so I'm just catching up here - blogging may be sporadic until our computers have been restored.
BLOG: Small World
The woman who beat Jeopardy! champ Ken Jennings lost the next day to a woman named Katie Fitzgerald, who grew up with my wife. This is actually the second time we've known someone who won on Jeopardy! - we were on vacation last year, turned on the TV in mid-afternoon, and there on TV was Pete O'Malley, another college classmate who was known, back in the day, for performing as the school mascot, the Crusader (complete with sword and armor, decked out in his full infidel-slaughterin' glory).
December 02, 2004
BLOG: Count Every Vote!
Yours truly is up against some fierce competition in the balloting for "Best Sports Blog" at the Wizbang-sponsored "2004 Weblog Awards." You can go here to vote or view the results in that category, or here for the whole poll.
Of course, there are always some anomalies in the categories. This blog isn't, of course, purely a sports blog. Vodkapundit and Ann Althouse are undoubtedly horrified to be listed under "Best Conservative Blog." Mark Steyn's site isn't really a blog at all. Powerline should have been nominated under "Best Conservative Blog" and "Best Group Blog," Kevin Drum should have been nominated for "Best Liberal Blog" (Powerline and Drum both appear in the "Best Overall Blog" category), and having a "Best LGBT Blog" category without Andrew Sullivan is like having a "Best Game Show Contestant" category and leaving off Ken Jennings. And the voting is skewed a bit in some ways - LGF is leading the "Best Blog" ballot, while the liberal blogs are all getting crushed there.
Still, it's a a fun process; thanks to Kevin Aylward for putting it all together. And, of course, I'm flattered that anybody is voting for me.
November 30, 2004
BLOG: Who Am I? Why Am I Here?
Long-time readers may want to skip this, but I figure I get enough new readers (especially with the Big Link from our old friend Bill Simmons) to make it worthwhile posting something I can perma-link in FAQ format to introduce myself to new readers.
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Who Are You?
I live in Queens with my wife and two children and practice law in Manhattan (my practice is principally defending securities and commercial litigation). I'm 33 years old at this writing. I'm a Mets fan, a Catholic, a conservative Republican, a graduate of Holy Cross College and Harvard Law School, and a big Springsteen fan, not necessarily always in that order. Until September 11, 2001, I worked in the World Trade Center (you can read my account of that day here).
I don't use my own name on this site, in an effort to keep a tiny bit of separation between the blog and my professional identity, but my identity is not a secret and can be found with a quick Google search.
Who Writes This Blog?
Mostly, I do. Besides me there are two other anonymous bloggers who write from time to time under the pseudonyms "The Mad Hibernian" and "Kiner's Korner" (the latter's been away from blogging for quite some time). I've also run a series of emailed columns from "Andy Tollhaus," a pseudonymous Army officer currently serving in Iraq (you can find his columns in the Patriot Games category).
Why Did You Write About ____ Instead of ____?
First of all, I try to avoid writing about things if I have nothing interesting to say about them, which sometimes means that big events in sports, politics, the war or other topics go unmentioned here. That's OK; just check the blogroll for plenty of other commentary. Second, yes, I know I have some readers who come only for the baseball and hate my politics; that's why I try to clearly label and categorize all my posts, and you can click the "Click Here For Baseball-Only Content" link at the top of the main page to skip over the non-baseball stuff (although the baseball category does load a bit slowly). In fact, I also have readers who come here just for the politics/war commentary. And sometimes, I write about just whatever comes to mind. Also, with a time-consuming job and a family, sometimes I just run out of time to give full attention to things I'd like to write about, and that's when you're more likely to see just a bunch of links, if anything.
How and When Did You Start Blogging?
My writing days go back to Holy Cross, where I wrote a mostly political weekly op-ed column under the "Angry Young Man" byline for The Crusader. Bill Simmons was the lead sports columnist for the paper in those days. In May of 2000, as his Boston Sports Guy website on Digital City was starting to take off, Bill asked me if I'd like to do a semi-regular column for his site. I quickly wound up doing a weekly gig, which went on until he closed the site down a year later to make The Leap to ESPN.com. After that, Art Martone, the sports editor of the Providence Journal, offered me space online to continue the column, and I wrote for Art from July 2001 until February 2003. But I was getting caught up in the blogosphere, including the flexibility to cover non-baseball topics and write short daily items instead of longer weekly ones, and in August 2002, I started a blog on Blogspot. I was fortunate to get linked by Andrew Sullivan after I'd been blogging about two weeks, and that put me on the map. In the spring of 2003, I decided to leave ProJo (which was by then behind a registration wall) and Blogspot and start a Movable Type blog to combine all my work in one place; this site opened April 14, 2003, and I've been at it ever since.
Why "Baseball Crank"?
In the 19th century, baseball fans were called "cranks". Plus, it sounded suitably crotchety. I banged out my first column for Bill's site in one night and had to come up with a name, and that stuck. I've owned the www.baseballcrank.com domain name for over five years now.
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BLOG: Communications Stream of Conspiracy Commerce
Ah, the media food chain in action. As noted here and here, late Tuesday night, I banged out a quick email to Instapundit, with the following thought, in response to an item he posted about a statement by Vaclav Havel on the situation in Ukraine:
Is there any way to get Havel to come out of retirement to succeed Kofi Annan as head of the UN, please? I mean, if ever there were a guy with the guts and moral clarity to insist that the UN live up to its ideals, it's Havel.
Instapundit quoted me by name on this, crediting me with the (admittedly somewhat fanciful) idea, with the further comment:
Approving links to Glenn Reynolds' post followed from people at, among other things, the National Review, Weekly Standard and Reason Magazine. Fast forward to yesterday morning, and Reynolds had an op-ed piece on the Wall Street Journal editorial page (subscription only; it ran in the middle of the bottom of the page) promoting the idea:
OK, so it's not quite the same as getting published in the WSJ myself, but it took less than a week to get my suggestion onto one of the nation's most influential op-ed pages. I'll take that.
November 16, 2004
BLOG: Steyn Offline
No, I don't know what's up with Mark Steyn, who's left a note up that "[f]or personal and family reasons, this website will be on hiatus for a while." Hopefully, all will be well and he'll be back writing again soon. Hey, the New York Times needs a new conservative . . .
BLOG: Power of the Blogs
Patrick Ruffini is back after a long "absence" running the Bush campaign blog. Ruffini notes something I had heard during the campaign: "Blogs for Bush, Power Line, Hugh Hewitt, PoliPundit, Captain Ed, Red State, Real Clear Politics and many more were religious reads at BC04."
November 14, 2004
BLOG: Who The Hell is James Wolcott?
James Wolcott of Vanity Fair magazine refers to Glenn Reynolds as "[a] racist-t-shirt wearing professor of Creationism at Wayback University". (Reynolds fires back here). I confess that I don't have much of an idea who Wolcott is, other than this quickie tongue-in-cheek bio on his site and my generally dim view of the low journalistic standards of his magazine's political hit jobs in the last several years. But you could hardly ask for a more extreme example of East Coast snobbery than to have a "columnist on media and pop culture" dismissing a guy like Reynolds as a know-nothing flat-earther. I mean, I'm certainly no worshipper of credentials as the sole basis for valuing a man's opinions, but Wolcott appears to fancy himself to be, by definition, Reynolds' intellectual superior simply because Wolcott is published in a glossy New York magazine and Reynolds lives in Tennessee, ignoring the fact that Reynolds is - in addition to his prolific internet profile - a respected and extensively published tenured law professor with a degree from Yale Law School and some depth of expertise on a staggering array of subjects. What is sadder is that I suspect that that self-image is reinforced by nearly everyone Wolcott knows.
I wouldn't want to overgeneralize, but it's not hard to see from extended observation that there are, at a minimum, more than a few people in the media world who think precisely the way Wolcott does: that a man who has succeeded in getting paid to be a full-time journalist must have more brains and sophistication than the people who have carved out careers in other endeavors, no matter how much more educated or accomplished those people are. And, of course, that attitude is precisely how journalists often wind up making hilarious errors when they try to cover specialized areas like the law, the military, etc., where a little bit of consultation with people who actually do the stuff for a living could have set them straight.
November 13, 2004
BLOG: Good One To Walk Away From
Jeff Quinton has photos of a car accident he was lucky to walk away from. Good reminder of the value of seatbelts.
November 12, 2004
BLOG: Slow Week
No, I'm not suffering from blog-burnout or anything; just a busy week at work. Still lots to come on post-election analysis as well as the usual baseball stuff.
November 02, 2004
BLOG: Advantage Mainstream Media
Blogosphere's been in over-bandwidth meltdown. I haven't blogged in hours and have been trapped in Tech Support Hell with Dell since 4:30.
Having the ability to support a lot of traffic turns out to be a Big Deal on Election Night.
UPDATE (8:45 pm): Gave up on the laptop, I had downloaded some bad software from Microsoft that the laptop told me to take. Bad idea. Will be blogging only when I can run downstairs from the TV.
October 22, 2004
BLOG: Time Machine
You know what's pathetic? When I was a kid, the days of the year I looked forward to the most were Christmas, my birthday . . . I gotta say, as a grownup there isn't any day that I anticipate more eagerly (not even Opening Day) than when we get to set the clocks back in October and get an extra hour of sleep. I was very disappointed to discover that it's next weekend, not this weekend. After this week's LCS action, we sure could use the extra rest. On the other hand, we may yet need to be rested and ready for a long Election Night . . .
October 08, 2004
BLOG: The Playoffs
Yes, I'm aware, as one of my commenters noted below, that there's been a lot of politics and not so much baseball here lately. Hopefully, I'll be able to do a bit more baseball coverage as we get further on. But I'll be frank here: between my lack of much rooting interest in these playoffs, the dispiriting collapse of the Mets, the fact that I've been doing this for five years now and sometimes run out of new things to say about baseball, and the high stakes of this year's presidential election, yes, I expect to be doing a lot of politics between now and November 2. And if you do come just for the baseball - and I appreciate that many of you do - you can always hit the "Click Here For Baseball-Only Content" link at the top to make the rest of the posts disappear.
October 04, 2004
BLOG: Captain's Blog: One Year and Counting
Happy one-year blogoversary to Captain's Quarters. "Captain" Ed Morrissey is absolutely one of the best in the business.
September 29, 2004
BLOG: Programming Note
In theory, the next week and a half should be a booming time for this blog - my readership is way, way up, and we're simultaneously headed into the presidential debates, the end of the pennant races, and the beginning of the postseason. In something of an ironic repeat of October 2000, however, I am gearing up for trial (actually a securities arbitration), which is scheduled to cover most of next week. I'll keep posting here to the extent possible, but things may be slower than usual until we get through October 8.
September 26, 2004
BLOG: When It Rains . . .
Traffic is usually way down on a Sunday, but I've had a gigantic traffic day, as Little Green Footballs and Instapundit link to my stroll through Josh Marshall's archives, in both cases without me having to do anything to publicize the link. Very gratifying. Once again: for anyone coming here for the first time, check out the "greatest hits" posts and scroll down to my sidebar of baseball columns from 2000-2003, if you want a sample of what I do here.
September 22, 2004
This about says it all about the booming traffic so many of us are experiencing as the first presidential election to be blogged approaches.
September 17, 2004
BLOG: Seen and Heard
1. Charlie Rose asking Adam Nagourney of the NY Times and Mark Halperin of ABC News what John Kerry really believes about the Iraq war. They laugh. Eventually, they compose themselves enough to spout the party line about allies. This is followed by Bill Maher and Cornel West over on HBO lamenting how lame Kerry is.
2. Newt Gingrich and Bill O'Reilly congratulating themselves for not being those kind of right-wing crazies who think Dan Rather forged or knowingly used forged documents.
3. Walking in Manhattan, a guy on a bike runs a red light and almost runs me down - then turns around to yell at me for not watching where I'm going, as he bikes in front of a moving truck.
4. Long Island Railroad publishes new schedules every few months; the latest ones expired September 6. From what I could see at Penn Station, they didn't even bother to do September schedules for Shea Stadium.
5. Swift Boat Veterans running their latest ad on early morning TV - here in Queens. Is this a swing state, or have the Swifties suddenly come into more money than they know what to do with? Probably neither - with a modest budget, they are probably targeting NY to try to hit opinion leaders who will give them free publicity.
6. Vignette - young man and woman, probably dating, on the train platform, and the man casually twirls her around, like they're dancing. Older couple nearby, both looking - and you could see, watching them, they were just thinking - we don't do things like that anymore.
Well, for the first time I was on the receiving end of a full-bore Instalanche yesterday, as the Blogfather linked to the item below on the Plame investigation. I'm normally getting 500-600 visits a day lately; yesterday, I had about 6,000 visits in two hours, and wound up with nearly half of a usual month's traffic in less than half a day. You can see the results here.
September 16, 2004
BLOG: Citizen Dan
BLOG/POLITICS: Why CBS Matters
My law school classmate Orin Kerr comments on the CBS frenzy:
C'mon, folks: don't we have more important things to blog about?
Dan Drezner concurs. I see their point about the extent of the coverage, but:
(1) Most of us have blogged many angles of the Iraq war to death, especially the justifications for the war in the first place.
(2) Getting a good picture of the facts on the ground to blog about the war's continuing progress can be quite frustrating for the U.S.-based civilian observer. Part of the problem is that we are so heavily dependent on the media to give us an accurate picture of what is going on.
In that context, the fact that one of the three major networks - in a story immediately disseminated by many other media outlets (including on the front page of numerous newspapers) - is being exposed for having used forged documents, perhaps knowingly and almost certainly recklessly, in pursuit of what looks like a partisan and/or personal vendetta against the president, is tremendously important. The problems being revealed go to the heart of CBS' newsgathering and editorial decisionmaking practices, which in turn affects the credibility of the news we rely on to interpret so many other stories.
In a way, then, this is about the Iraq war. It's about everything.
(3) I'll add a third point: I can blog until I'm blue in the face about the Iraq war, as we all have, without doing much to change the world. But as with the Trent Lott story, the blogosphere has actually affected the course of this story. That's where the emphasis comes from - bloggers are always going to be most attracted to the stories on which they can actually have some impact or uncover some new facts.
September 14, 2004
BLOG: What I'm Drinking
Although I'll have a beer now and then and - once upon a time - sampled harder liquors, my taste in drinks generally runs to wine, particularly red wine. I tend to drink the kind of mass-produced red wines that sell for $7-10 for a bottle, enough money to get you away from the real watery stuff but not expensive enough to bust my budget. Anyway, finding decent cabernets in that price range isn't hard; I've lately been drinking a California cabernet from Cooper Canyon, which is nice. What I'd heartily recommend, though, for a reasonably priced ($8.99 in my wine store) red with some body to it is wines from Norton vineyard, a vineyard in Argentina (South American reds tend to be the best bargains for the money), especially the Malbec.
BLOG: Pajama Time
September 10, 2004
BLOG: Good Sport
September 05, 2004
BLOG/BASEBALL: New Blog Roundup, 9/5/04
Like many bloggers, I often get emails from people who have started new blogs. I have less and less free time these days to check these out and less and less room on my blogroll for new additions, and frankly - if you're thinking of doing this - while I'm sympathetic to new bloggers, I'm much more interested in getting an email with a link to an interesting post than just "look at my blog."
That said, here's a roundup of people who asked me to pass on a link, most of them baseball blogs; if you're in the mood to go exploring, check them out:
Bijan Bayne (the author of "Sky Kings: Black Pioneers of Professional Basketball")
Ump Is Blind (a humor site)
The Torch (a political site)
Balls, Sticks, & Stuff (Comments on sports...and other stuff too)
I'll have more in part two of this tour in the next few days.
August 26, 2004
BLOG: STRINGS ATTACHED
OK, rant time. It's 1 in the morning, and I just got off the phone after two hours (most of it spent on hold) trying to get assistance from Dell with our wireless connection. I should have been in bed a long time ago, I've got to work in the morning, and for good measure I'd hoped to work on a long blog entry I've been working over. All out the window.
Here's the deal: my wife and I got a Dell laptop about two months ago. Although there were other uses for the laptop, we paid a lot of extra money to ensure that the laptop would have wireless service so that, among other things, I could blog without having to hibernate in the basement, where the desktop and cable modem are located. We paid for the wireless card, we paid for the router. I spent upwards of 90 minutes on the phone with tech support in early July to hook the ^%!^@! thing up.
Result: we can now use the internet . . . in our bedroom. It's the only place on the ground floor of the house where the wireless signal comes through (it's directly above the room in the basement where the desktop and router are located). To keep the connection, you need to walk very slowly out of the bedroom, and then it's a weak connection that can be lost at a moment's notice, which among other things means frequent saving or risk of losing lots of work on the blog.
So, tonight I got fed up and called Dell for help. 25 minutes on hold, get the call center in India on the line, get a few hugely time-consuming but ineffective pieces of advice. Get switched to the wireless specialist; almost an hour on hold ensues. Wireless specialist walks me througn a few items and then announces that (1) the problem may be that the wireless connection can't work in the presence of cordless phones (both our phones are cordless, and without one I could not call him from in front of the computer) or microwave ovens; (2) the router could be interfered with by walls, ceilings, etc., and (3) if we want it to work we have to buy yet another router. None of which cautions were mentioned anywhere by Dell or any of the other sources I looked at before plunking down the money for this thing. And I'll be damned if I'm going to buy another router only to be told I need to replace my telephone and unplug the microwave to use the computer.
Is wireless access really a mirage? Is it just Dell? Or did I just talk to an idiot in tech support? I don't know. I just know I'm unlikely to ever get what I paid for. And I'll be blogging in the basement for the foreseeable future. Grrrrr.
August 12, 2004
BLOG: On The Road
I'm on the road the next few days, so I won't be catching much baseball and posting will be slim to none.
August 08, 2004
BLOG: Table Samples
Feel free to ignore this post; I'm posting some sample tables here as a test while I'm working on a larger project.
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August 07, 2004
Via Dave Barry
August 05, 2004
BLOG: Pop Quiz
Seen in various places, most recently Ricky West:
1. WHAT COLOR ARE YOUR BEDROOM WALLS? Without looking? Probably white. I don't stare at the walls much.
2. WHAT BOOK ARE YOU READING NOW? I tend to bounce around between books. Books I just finished the last few weeks: Babe Ruth and the 1918 Red Sox, by Allan Wood; Fresh Lies, by James Lileks; Things Happen for a Reason, by Terry Leach. Books I'm actively reading: The Neyer/James Guide to Pitchers, by Rob Neyer and Bill James; The Connection, by Steven Hayes; re-reading Give War a Chance, by PJ O'Rourke. Books I'm in the middle of and intend to get back to at some point: My Life in Baseball, by Robin Roberts; The Two Faces of Islam, by Steven Schwartz; Men at Work, by George Will; After, by Stephen Brill; The Seekers, by Daniel Boorstin. I'm also reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire to my son.
3. WHAT'S ON YOUR MOUSE PAD? Picture of my son at about five months old, sitting up next to a teddy bear that's about his size.
4. FAVORITE BOARD GAME? Monopoly. We play it a lot with the kids. My son has a disastrous obsession with the most expensive properties; my daughter just likes to buy the light blue set and put up hotels.
5. FAVORITE MAGAZINE? National Review. I cancelled my SI subscription; I never found a weekly magazine a good format to read about baseball.
6. FAVORITE SMELL? Probably the smell of McDonald's french fries or Dunkin Donuts, the smells they pipe out to suck you in.
7. FAVORITE COLOR? Green. When you have kids, you need to be able to answer this question. Also fond of purple; this blog's purple and white layout is my school colors from college (Holy Cross).
8. LEAST FAVORITE COLOR? The color of the building across from my office that I have to look at out my window - it's an awful 70s yellowish brick.
9. HOW MANY RINGS BEFORE YOUR ANSWERING MACHINE PICKS UP? Four.
10. MOST IMPORTANT MATERIAL THING IN MY LIFE? Photo albums. I used to take tons of pictures.
11. FAVORITE FLAVOR OF ICE CREAM? Vanilla, preferably with chocolate chips or in one of those chocolate chip cookie sandwich thingies. But ice cream is one of those things I like but mostly avoid (like donuts) because it's just not quite good enough to justify the nutritional issues.
12. DO YOU BREAK THE SPEED LIMIT DAILY? I don't like to walk slow or drive fast. I mostly just drive a mile or so to the train station, but I do probably slightly exceed the speed limit heading there.
13. DO YOU HAVE A STUFFED ANIMAL IN YOUR ROOM SOMEWHERE? My wife does - a dog, it was the first gift I bought her, long before we were dating.
14. STORMS - COOL OR SCARY? If I'm in the house? Cool. But I'm afraid of lightning when I'm outside, and I hate driving in rain..
15. FAVORITE DRINK? I basically live on orange juice, coffee, Coke, and red wine (in that chronological order). Each has its charms.
16. WHEN IS YOUR BIRTHDAY? October 13. Anniversary of Mazeroski's homer.
17. FAVORITE VEGETABLES? Broccoli. Yes, broccoli.
18. IF YOU COULD HAVE ANY JOB, WHAT WOULD IT BE? Fantasies? Owner/GM of the Mets. President. Closer to reality? Federal judge. Professional blogger. If I had a professional blogging gig, I'd just never run out of stuff to write about.
19. IF YOU COULD HAVE ANY COLOR HAIR, WHAT WOULD IT BE? I'm past 30, so I'm just happy to have hair.
21. TOP THREE FAVORITE MOVIES (IN ORDER)? Star Wars, of course. The Untouchables. Too hard to pick a third.
22. DO YOU TYPE WITH YOUR FINGERS ON THE RIGHT KEYS? I'm a two-finger typist. I type very quickly for using just two fingers, but my mom's efforts to teach me to type properly never took.
23. WHAT'S UNDER YOUR BED? Drawers.
24. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE NUMBER? 13. Hey, if your birthday's on the 13th, you make a virtue of it.
26. WHAT IS YOUR SINGLE BIGGEST FEAR? Heart attack, stroke, any kind of sudden death. Drowning as a result of a terrorist attack causing an explosion in the Queens Midtown Tunnel or a LIRR or subway tunnel is way up there, though.
27. FAVORITE CD OF ALL TIME & RIGHT NOW? Born in the USA. Lately, I've listened to a lot of the Saw Doctors Live from Galway.
28. FAVORITE TV SHOW OF ALL TIME & RIGHT NOW? Besides baseball? Probably Seinfeld, unless you count the Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour. Right now? The Sopranos isn't on again for a few years, so maybe The Daily Show, Monk or one of the Law & Order shows.
29. HAMBURGERS OR HOT DOGS? Burgers, although it was hot dogs for many years. Ah, maturity.
30. THE COOLEST PLACES YOU'VE EVER BEEN? Congress, for the State of the Union Address in 1992. The Hall of Fame for the 1982 Induction Weekend ceremonies. The Supreme Court, to meet Clarence Thomas.
31. WHAT WALLPAPER AND/OR SCREENSAVER IS ON YOUR COMPUTER RIGHT NOW? Picture of the kids with our nephews.
32. DOES MCDONALD'S SKIMP ON YOUR FRIES & DO YOU CARE? No, but I don't eat there much.
33. FAVORITE CHAIN RESTAURANT? Pizzeria Uno. My wife and I should own stock.
35. IF YOU COULD LEARN TO PLAY ONE INSTRUMENT OVERNIGHT, WHAT WOULD IT BE? Electric guitar . . . More realistically, I'd really like to be able to play the harmonica.
August 04, 2004
BLOG: Daly Move
August 03, 2004
BLOG: Welcome Back!
Dr. Manhattan is blogging again, and has an explanation for his hiatus. Prayers and best wishes to his family in dealing with this situation; there's just nothing worse than having something happen to a child.
July 29, 2004
BLOG: Links 7/29/04
*Nothing to fear but George W. Bush? (By the way, I haven't heard every speaker yet, but . . . has anyone heard the name "Saddam Hussein" mentioned?)
*Defamer had an amusing graphic comparing Catwoman's opening box office to other cat movies. The real lesson: please, no more cat movies.
July 26, 2004
BLOG/BASEBALL/POLITICS etc.: Here n' There
Thoughts upon my return from vacationing in Lake George, NY:
*Saw a bunch of Bush/Cheney and W'04 bumper stickers. Saw tons of those yellow ribbon support-the-troops stickers. Did not see a Kerry or Kerry/Edwards sticker anywhere. Blue state, red country. Also on the sticker subject, I bought one of those magnetic Bush stickers advertised over at Smash's place; they're a great thing if (like my wife) you don't want permanent sticker residue on your car after the election (downside: the fear of the sticker getting swiped). I also saw a Bush TV ad, which seemed odd, given that the New York/Vermont TV market isn't exactly a swing state market.
*Ever have one of those stretches when you just keep having instant problems with stuff you buy? We had this - inedible/undercooked hot dog, corkscrew that won't open a bottle, overcharge for a food order, take-out entree that gets home without an essential element - and the solutions are always bad: I don't want to sit back and accept getting ripped off, but I also hate to be one of those people who goes back and complains about stuff all the time.
*Ricky Williams is retiring. Ricky Williams was born in 1977. Yes, I feel old.
*The Mets appear ready to decide that this team is worth making a few tinkers around the edges but otherwise be neither a buyer nor a seller in the summer deal market. Which is depressing, given how close they have come in so many games blown by the bullpen lately, but makes sense. Sometimes a pennant race just has to be enjoyed on its own terms, without high expectations.
*On Sandy Berger's pants-gate: man, Clinton scandals are just the gift that keeps on giving, aren't they?
Posted by Baseball Crank at 07:45 AM | Baseball 2004 | Blog | Politics 2004 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
July 24, 2004
BLOG: Out of Blog Experience
Well, I'm off on vacation for a week, far from this place we call the internet. There'll be lots to catch up on when I return; hopefully the Mad Hibernian will keep things lively around here in my absence. I'm post-dating this entry so it stays up top; feel free to leave questions or comments if you've got ideas for me to blog on or stories to discuss when I return.
In the meantime, go check out Rich Lederer, who's running a tremendous series of excerpts from the original Bill James Abstracts going back to the Seventies. Trust me, there's plenty there to keep you occupied.
July 16, 2004
BLOG: Fun for the Whole Family!
Right now, nuclear waste is piling up in a lot of places around the country.
Asks a friend: "Does Homeland Security know about this?"
And perhaps my favorite, this classic parade of horribles from the Bureau of Mine Safety and Health Administration - for Kids!:
Big trucks, trains, and other machines can run over you. If you're close to them, the drivers can't see you. And if they do see someone in the way, it takes a long time for a big truck to slow down and stop.
Power lines, cables, and electric machinery can give you a DEADLY electric shock.
Explosives could go off and hurt you.
Ponds and old quarry pits full of water can drown you. There are no life guards, and dangers can be out of sight under the water.
Mine roads and off-road areas are not safe places to ride a bike or all-terrain vehicle. You could run into hidden pits or other hazards, fall off a steep place, or roll over and be badly hurt.
Underground shafts and tunnels can trap you. You could get lost, fall down a shaft, have rocks fall on you, or run into poisonous gas.
BLOG: Giant Fungus!
July 14, 2004
BLOG: Busy Again
Sorry, too busy to blog once again this morning.
July 04, 2004
BLOG: Same Dog, New Tricks
Ricky West has moved to http://www.rjwest.com/blog, abandoning the hassles and headaches of Movable Type for the wonderful city of Solla Sollew, where they never have troubles, at least very few.
Update your bookmarks accordingly.
July 02, 2004
BLOG: Link Roundup 7/2/04
*Via Baseball Primer, comes word that the Twins have bowed to political pressure to take the guns away from a G.I. Joe figure they are giving out at the Humpdome on a night honoring local military personnel:
The Twins say Joe isn't glorifying war, but celebrating the efforts of servicemen and women. As part of that mission, the team asked Duke's maker, Hasbro Inc., to remove the customary gun from his side, bringing him in accordance with the Metrodome's no-gun policy. Hand grenades are still visible.
"I know there are people who are adamant about opposition to the war, but this is not about politics,'' Twins marketing vice president Patrick Klinger said. "And it's not just about this war. It's about what happened 60 years ago.''
The Twins' first such day was held last year, when, on the eve of the assault on Iraq, a soldier from Minnesota threw out the first ball to a fellow soldier from the state. The throw and catch occurred in Kuwait and were broadcast to Minnesota at the beginning of the game.
"I looked around the ballpark that night and there were tears everywhere,'' Klinger said. "It was the highlight of my career.''
Still, more than one peace group believes the combat-ready G.I. Joe, measuring just a bit shorter than 4 inches, is a big mistake, and they would like the Twins to cancel the promotion.
"It's not a credible way to honor those who've suffered the inhumanity of war,'' said Phil Steger, executive director of Friends for a Non-Violent World, a St. Paul-based group with about 4,000 members in Minnesota.
"One wonders whether a desire to increase ticket sales is masquerading as good intentions. We hope not. Minnesotans' moral sense and empathy with those who have lost life, limb and loved ones in war — soldier and civilian — rejects this kind of opportunism,'' Steger said.
Mary Beaudoin, a leader of Women Against Military Madness, Minneapolis, said she's "appalled'' by the giveaway.
"This is hideous … a bad message to send kids,'' she said. "Kids need to be raised with the values of life, not killing.''
GI Joe: unarmed, defenseless and ready for his beheading! Brought to you by senseless Minnesota peaceniks.
*Wall Streeter Mindles Dreck has some thoughts on business models in the brokerage industry, which I found interesting even aside from his use of the analogy to Iraq.
*The BBC has some powerful pictures of a fetus in the womb at the end of the first trimester. Go look, and ask yourself if that's a human being; if you approach the question without political preconceptions, the answer's pretty easy.
*Via the Corner, Rush Limbaugh has some reflections on his encounters with Bill Buckley (did you know that Rush's odd way of pronouncing Jesse Jackson's name was a homage to Buckley? I didn't). Interesting piece, which in some ways says more about Rush, his influences and his insecurities than it does about Buckley.
*Chris Lawrence points us to Laura in Apartment 11D complaining about Steven den Beste mercilessly tearing apart a survey she sent him and about 70 other big bloggers. I love den Beste's writing, but he can really be unwarrantedly cruel sometimes to people who send him well-meaning stuff; in this case, he seems to have misunderstood the fact that you have to put some obvious questions in a survey sent to that many people.
July 01, 2004
BLOG: Yummy, Yummy, Yummy, What's That In My Tummy?
Dana has a thought-provoking question (adult language used).
June 27, 2004
Man, that was ugly. More on the Mets-Yankees fiasco tomorrow. In the meantime, a milestone: I have passed 200,000 on the hit counter, less than six months after hitting 100,000 in late January - a milestone that had taken me 17 months to scale.
June 24, 2004
BLOG: Mr. Subways
Via Gerard Vanderleun, we have the Rules for the New York Subway. I, of course, swear by these (except when I'm violating them by pacing back and forth on the platform), although I generally prefer to walk the 17 blocks to my office whenever possible rather than ride on what sooner or later will become a mobile anthrax lab.
BLOG: It's Bill's World
If you haven't noticed, ESPN has now launched a separate site for Bill Simmons' columns (Page 2 1/2?); make sure to add it to your bookmarks. At the moment, it's just a page of columns, although there may be additional bells and whistles on the way, and Bill has plenty of stuff there now on the latest doings in the NBA. I doubt that Bill could re-create all the features of the old BSG site on a national platform even if he wanted to (the ones he wrote, that is, not that I'd exactly be adverse to contributing the occasional baseball column for old times' sake), but it will be interesting to see what else he and the ESPN team can come up with now that he's back to sportswriting full time.
(On the other hand, much as I like Bill, I personally wouldn't compare him to Einstein and Michael Jordan).
June 23, 2004
BLOG: Getting Back
Well, I'm back from my travels, but still catching up (I missed some great Mets action while I was away, although through the miracle of airplane TVs I did get to watch CC Sabathia mow down the White Sox).
June 21, 2004
BLOG: Out of Blog
Sorry, not much in the blogging mood this morning - I'm headed out of town on business, be back late Tuesday night, so things should be a bit quiet around here the next few days.
June 14, 2004
BLOG: Wiley Passes On
ESPN reports the sudden death of Ralph Wiley, the Page 2 columnist and former regular on the Sports Reporters. Wow. Wiley was 52 and in apparent good health, and his heart just gave out on him. One bit of trivia I didn't know: Wiley coined the term "Billy Ball" for Billy Martin's hustling 1980 A's. Regular readers will recall that I've been no fan of Wiley, although he and Bill Simmons had played off each other quite well in some recent joint efforts, including a chat room session just last week. Say this much: Wiley won't be easily replaced or replicated.
June 13, 2004
BLOG: Disney Spam?
I'm getting what appear to be spam comments . . . leading to the Disney Online website. What's with that?
I should add my particular annoyance that I tend to get comment spam attacks on weekends, especially holiday weekends, when I have the least time to deal (at least during the week I get an hour or so of uninterrupted blogging time every morning with breakfast).
June 10, 2004
BLOG: 6/10/4 Links
*Bill Simmons/Ralph Wiley chat wrap! Anarchically funny.
June 09, 2004
BLOG: Linky Linky 6/9/4
*Jay Jaffe has the story of 10-Cent Beer Night in Cleveland in 1974, which turned out to be particularly ill-advised because the Indians were playing the (Billy Martin-managed) Rangers and had a bench-clearing brawl with them the previous game that ended with Ranger fans pouring beer on the Indians. Key stat: attendance was 25,000, and approximately 65,000 beers were sold. (Link via Baseball News Blog).
*QandO catches Paul Krugman playing games with the numbers to skew the Reagan record on taxes. (Maybe Krugman was just confused? It's not like he's a professional economist or anything). (Link via the MinuteMan).
*Functional Ambivalent, who never agreed with Reagan but can't really see today why he got so upset at him, has some useful thoughts on avoiding excesses of outrage in blogging and political discourse. While I don't agree with his assumption that overwrought anger is mostly on the Right these days - try spending a few hours at Atrios' place - it's a useful contribution. (Link via Conrad at Gweilo Diaries).
*Is the UN resolution on the transfer of power in Iraq a big victory for Bush? Well, if you can't trust Communists to tell you if democracy is on the way, who can you trust? And the Germans feel the same way!
*Collier again, on mistrust of the media.
*Peters again, on the unchanging nature of war. Good stuff in general, although I'm not sure he really has anything specific to add here on the knotty problems of figuring out when we're facing the enemy and when we're not. But the point stands that we can win only by killing. If the courts make it more difficult to hold prisoners, that focus only intensifies. (also via Vodkapundit).
*If you missed it at the time, this Dave Cullen piece on Columbine is fascinating.
June 02, 2004
BLOG: One For The Ladies
Lots of stuff going on today about women in the blogosphere. Are females underrepresented? Has Wonkette become the media's official spokesperson for the female portion of the blogosphere? Are we destined to just be cute and adorable playthings? Or is the whole idea of sexism in blogs just a manufactured tale thought up by people who just aren't making the time to find blogs that aren't already on their small links list?
Well, looking over my own blogroll - which, given the concentration of baseball blogs, is bound to be male-dominated - I see five female-authored blogs (Michele, Bookworm, Erin O'Connor, Meryl Yourish, and Jane Galt), plus NRO's Corner, which is male-dominated but moderated by Kathryn Jean Lopez, one of the most active contributors to the group, and The Command Post, at which Michele is one of the ringleaders. Other female bloggers I've linked to - only sporadically - would include Dana at Note-It Posts, law blogger Denise Howell of Bag and Baggage, Baldilocks, Jeralyn Merritt of TalkLeft, and, of course, Wonkette. Not nothing, but clearly a minority.
Here's the thing: at the dawn of blogilization (late 01-early 02), the leading blogs were overwhelmingly white, male, bespectacled, between 30 and 50, pro-war, centrist/libertarian on domestic issues, and dominated by academics and professional writers, especially those with ties to the New Republic (Reynolds, Sullivan, Lileks, Kaus, Volokh, Marshall, Goldberg, den Beste, Welch, Jarvis, C. Johnson . . . each of them hits several if not all of these points). The image stuck, and those guys ascended to a sort of firmament.
While people have to be pretty dim to ignore the likes of Michele, Jane Galt, and Yourish, Wonkette is indeed one of the few female bloggers who has the paid position, journalistic background, etc. to get instant credibility with the media - other female bloggers tend to be civilians, as it were, rather than journalists or academics (Merritt may be something of an exception, as a sometime TV pundit).
You see, in the blogosphere, when it comes to influencing the media, there are still two classes of bloggers: the credentialed in-crowd and the civilians. Bloggers who are professional journalists are in the in-crowd, however much they may (like Sullivan) maintain a contrarian pose that costs them with employers inside journalism. Bloggers who are academics get the entree as well; besides having jobs that permit them to blog at length during business hours, journalists respect academics. Look at how Drezner slid easily into a column at The New Republic. (If you're young enough, like Matt Yglesias, you can write your way into the in-crowd. If you're old enough to have a job and a mortgage, you're out of luck).
My conclusion here: Michele is among the best and brightest of the "civilian" bloggers. And we ought to be a happy bunch, since we've come a long way from the days when civilians had no hope of getting published. But except for Wonkette, few female bloggers are part of that in crowd. The fault isn't the blogs themselves; it's the who-you-know nature of journalism.
(It may also be that fewer women are interested in writing political blogs; Yglesias explains the gender gap as it pertains to men vs. women following politics).
June 01, 2004
BLOG: Long Weekend
Not much in the way of new content this morning, as I'm catching up at work from the long weekend, although if you're just checking in, I had a flurry of new stuff on Friday night and Saturday. Some longer stuff on Iraq is on the way tomorrow, plus some ongoing baseball projects (I'm still trying to finish up the Established Win Shares Levels review by wrapping up the NL Central).
May 28, 2004
BLOG: Love Pleads Guilty
OK, I don't follow Courtney Love stories, but just consider that headline: "Love Pleads Guilty." Doesn't that sound like a cheesy 80s album title?
May 26, 2004
BLOG: And That's Why I Wear The Bow Tie
BLOG: Life Imitates The Onion
The follows on the heels of the story broken earlier in the week by The Onion:
It just gets harder and harder to do satire these days . . .
May 22, 2004
BLOG: End of The Week Non-Baseball Links
*Gen. Anthony Zinni has a new book out this summer, entitled "Battle Ready," co-authored by Tom Clancy and chronicling Zinni's career. Sure sounds like a guy auditioning for VP to me.
*Michael King has some thoughts on a recent Bill Cosby speech that didn't go down so well with an assemblage of 'civil rights leaders'.
*Kevin Drum gets in a huff about the Texas state controller ruling that Unitarian-Universalists aren't a real religion. This is indeed pretty dumb, but only people on the Left could blame it on what evil cretins all Texans are. The problem here is one that's common throughout government: idiotic decisions driven by fear of litigation, in this case fear that the absence of a clear standard will render the controller vulnerable in future litigation with genuine crackpots. Horror stories are common of government officials - especially at the public school level - overreacting to stuff, especially where religious liberties are concerned, out of misunderstanding of the applicable law coupled with fear of litigation. The fault, dear Brutus, lies not in the Texans but in our courts.
*Pejman seeks to correct the common misperception that "being a law student is like being a Jew during the Inquisition." He has and links to some good advice; I'd heartily second the idea that law school is still less work than having a job (personally, I found that the stress of job-hunting was actually the main anxiety-builder in law school) and that it's just crucial to spend time with people who are not law students.
*Venomous Kate is a good place to start for strange theories about Nicholas Berg (link via An Unsealed Room). I just want to know if this Zelig of the Terror War was related to Moe Berg, catcher and spy.
*Speaking of Berg, Michele tears into his father's fatuous editorial for the Guardian, the left-wing London rag. Read the whole thing. It's the Guardian that should really be ashamed for printing this drivel. I love this line, which is one of the best things I think I've ever read: "let me tell you, Mr. Berg - if George Bush had looked into your son's eyes, it wouldn't be while he was slicing his head off." A sample of the foolishness:
Well, we can respect other humans, or we can respect sovereign states. We can't have both, not when other sovereign states are run with not the slightest regard for our fellow humans or for us.
Likewise, we can expect others to live up to the same rules we do - or we can accept that they don't. Again, we've gotta choose between the two. It's astounding how often the Left looks at homicidal dictatorships and assumes that this is how their subjects freely choose to live. If you start with the (rather indisputable) premise that the Saddams and the Zarqawis of the world wish to impose their will on a population that does not want to live that way, all the talk in the world about respecting how other people choose to live falls away to nonsense.
*Anything that gets William Donahue to blast the Vatican is pretty misguided. That's like Terry McAuliffe ripping Clinton.
*The NY Daily News' headline from Rudy Giuliani's testimony before the increasingly farcical September 11 commission: "We did all we could" (Underlining in the print headline on the front page). But that's not what he said; what Rudy said, which was much wiser and encompassed the failures of 9/11 and why we shouldn't rush to place blame for them, was "we did everything we could think of ... to protect the city." Ponder that one. We, as a nation, and our governments, federal, state and city, did not do everything we could. We did do, as Rudy said, everything we could think of. The problem was a collective failure of imagination.
May 18, 2004
BLOG: When Cat-Kicking Alone Won't Do
Jonah Goldberg likes to conjure the mental image of Paul Krugman kicking his cat whenever there's good economic news. Via the now-defunct Amish Tech Support, we have the answer to the question: "what will Krugman's cat look like after six more months of economic good news?"
May 17, 2004
BLOG: Two Points
Wonkette complains about an event where "I have not had my rack checked out so brazenly and so often since I stopped going to Cozumel for Spring Break." Her post helpfully includes a photo that prominently shows off . . . well, the evidence in question.
Upside: at least she took a break from claiming that all conservatives are gay.
BLOG: A Request To Readers
For 5 minutes of your time: click here to participate in a short online survey, run by Henry Copeland of Blogads, looking to determine the demographics of blog readership. Make sure to type "baseballcrank.com" in the answer to #22; if you do, Henry will be able to send me a report summarizing the results for readers of this blog.
May 16, 2004
BLOG: Travelin' Man
I'm just back in town again after another 3-day weekend away - this time a wedding in DC - so bear with me if there's a bit of catching up to do the next few days.
May 13, 2004
The picture with this story is no less funny for the fact that it's so crudely photoshopped.
May 10, 2004
BLOG: Canadian Adventure
So, I'm just getting organized here after a 3-day weekend away; we were in Canada (specifically, Brampton, a suburb of Toronto) from Friday to Sunday. This was, amazingly enough, only my second-ever foreign trip, the first being a honeymoon in Ireland. We were visiting for my great-uncle's 100th birthday party; he's my father's mother's brother and basically the last of the immigrant generation in my family (like all four of my grandparents, he came over in the 1920s). It was also a sort of family reunion, with a large contingent from Scotland joining the American and Canadian branches of the family.
We had a bit of anxiety on the trip up; the State Department travel advisory for Canada stated as follows:
In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments have initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These often include requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission for the child's travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian if not present. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry/departure.
Unfortunately, on reading this, it didn't occur to me that the only form of ID that's acceptable at the border is a birth certificate (we had brought the kids' Social Security cards and even showed the cards showing that they are on our health insurance plan; not enough). Fortunately, we live close to the airport and could get them in time for a later flight.
It's hard, based on only a weekend, to put a finger on the aspects of Canada - other than obvious details like the money - that are "foreign" - I suspect a lot of the things I noticed as different from home had more to do with being in the Midwest than with being across the border. But even as an American, I was astounded at the wide open spaces and gigantic buildings - particularly since we were on the outskirts of Canada's largest city.
Anyway, regular blogging should resume tomorrow.
May 05, 2004
BLOG: Four Years
Yes, it's been four years now that I've been doing this - four years ago today that my first "Baseball Crank" baseball column appeared on the internet. Wow. (Among other things, this means that I've been moonlighting as an internet sportswriter for more than half my career as a practicing lawyer). For those of you who are new to the site, a brief recap: I started out writing a weekly column for the Boston Sports Guy site, run by my former college classmate Bill Simmons, in May 2000. It was a great time to be writing for Bill's site - he was just starting to really reach a national audience - and I still think that the columns I did for the BSG site are some of the best writing I've done. (My one disappointment was the fact that I had a huge trial in October 2000 and wasn't able to write about the Subway Series as it was happening). Bill closed his site down a year later, moving up to a national platform at ESPN.com, where he remains to this day. I was fortunate to land a spot at the Providence Journal Online, thanks to Projo sports editor Art Martone, and I kept writing weekly columns there. (You can still access my full archive of columns from the BSG site and Projo here).
On September 11, 2001, of course, terrorists blew up my office in the World Trade Center; I wrote about the experience for Projo, which even published my column in the 'dead tree' paper that Sunday. After September 11, it became harder to just stick to baseball. After my mom died in August 2002, I was feeling pretty down and decided to do something new; on something of a whim, I set up a blogspot blog (also under the Baseball Crank name), and immediately got hooked, discovering that the flexibility of blogging worked much better with my work schedule and varied interests than a weekly column. Barely two weeks into blogging, I got linked by Andrew Sullivan (fifth item down, linking to this), and there was no going back. In March of 2003 I wrote my last column for Projo; in April 2003 I opened the Movable Type site here. It's been quite a ride thus far.
May 01, 2004
I watched part of Chris Matthews' Hardball interview with Don Rumsfeld from Rumsfeld's office in the Pentagon the other night, and beyond Rumsfeld himself (who'd be any lawyer's dream witness, a guy who unpacks the assumptions in every question before answering it), one thing struck me: the strong background noise of crickets chirping, presumably outside Rumsfeld's window. It was definitely the TV - it stopped when we changed channels. (You can pull up part of the interview online here, but the crickets aren't in evidence). It seemed odd that Matthews' producers wouldn't shut the window or find a way to block out the sound, plus it was just a bit unsettling for what's supposed to be an indoor interview (kinda like the flies buzzing behind President Bush in his speech from the Crawford ranch on the stem cell issue in August 2001). Anyone else notice this?
BLOG: Higher and Higher Straight Up We'll Climb
Traffic stats for April: over 20,000 visits, up from the previous high of just above 15,000. Once again: thanks for stopping by, and hope you come back.
BLOG: Secret Identity
April 30, 2004
BLOG: All The Cool Kids Are Doing It
This one's from too many sources to mention, but seen most recently on Tim Blair's site:
1. Grab the nearest book. 2. Open the book to page 23. 3. Find the fifth sentence. 4. Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.
Well, the nearest book is a book of baseball stats, but the closest other thing at hand is, of course, The Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract, the revised first edition in paperback (I'm so predictable, but that's how my desk in the basement is set up), the chapter on the 1880s. The sentence:
With the coming of professionalism - and professional umpires - this [respect for umpires] quickly went out the window.
April 28, 2004
BLOG: 419 Is No Joke In Your Town
We've all gotten the infamous Nigerian "419" scam emails, and most of us just laugh at them (this one, I'll admit, is pretty amusing). But I got to see a different side of one today, when I got an email from a guy claiming to be a (fictional) son of a Nigerian politician who died last year. What particularly rankled is that this particular politician was the father of one of my close friends from law school (we lived in the same 6-room basement my first year). Some nitwit out there is trying to make money off this man's good name in the wake of his death. Which is, even aside from the fraud involved, a pretty rotten thing to do.
BLOG: Lileks Says Give
April 27, 2004
BLOG: Ask and Ye Shall Receive
Just a reminder (see above) - besides asking for donations for Spirit of America, the Victory Coalition is also auctioning off a variety of valuable prizes and services to raise money. See Wizbang and A Small Victory for details. Unlike me, they'll be updating throughout the day, so keep checking.
BLOG: Something Completely Different
Sgt. Mom over at Stryker's place has a nice essay on the joys of homemade clothing.
April 24, 2004
BLOG: Not Alone In Our Ignorance
Turns out that Americans aren't the only ones who are woefully ignorant about history. From a recent survey of more than 2,000 people in Britain:
*11% think Hitler was a fictional character; 9% think the same of Winston Churchill. Score one here for American use of our historical figures on money and commemorations of their birth for holidays; I doubt that 10% of Americans would think Washington or Lincoln was a fictional character. The rest of the results are also appalling, although the last group suggests that some of the respondents were either (i) high or (ii) pulling the survey takers' legs. Also, the 32% who believe the Cold War never happened may include a number of people who thought the same thing while it was still in progress.
The rest of the list:
Read More »
Real people that some believe never existed Ethelred the Unready King of England 978 to 1016 - 63 per cent William Wallace 13th-century Scottish hero - 42 per cent Benjamin Disraeli Prime minister and founder of the modern Tory party - 40 per cent Genghis Khan, Mongol conqueror - 38 per cent Benito Mussolini, Fascist dictator, 33 per cent Adolf Hitler - 11 per cent Winston Churchill - 9 per cent
« Close It
BLOG/BASEBALL: New Blog City
Like most bloggers, I get emails from time to time asking me to check out new blogs. Generally, like most bloggers, I'm more interested in someone sending me an interesting post they've written rather than a general "look at my blog" or "let's trade links." But I also remember when, not so long ago, this was a small blog in internet nowhere, so I hate to just blow people off.
My two cents, by the way, on getting linked? Here's a few tips:
1. Write regularly. Regular content is huge in getting noticed.
Anyway, presented without further introduction, here's a list of blogs who have dropped me a line the past few months, mostly baseball blogs and also some message boards, if you're looking for new content to read; some of these are no doubt good sites and some are not, but I haven't had time myself to tell the difference:
The Bug (Mudville Magazine Blog)
April 22, 2004
BLOG: Massive Improvement
If you're like me, you regularly read Lileks' Bleats but don't often remember to check up on his other writings, such as at the Backfence (unfortunately, the Star-Tribune requires registration). If so, you're missing some great stuff. This one cracked me up:
Perhaps you've noticed that the Brawny towel guy has been retired, due to his anachronistic '70s style mustache. The facial hair no longer said "alluring fantasy object to the bored housewife"; it said, "creepy guy in rusty van playing Foghat too loud, wagging his tongue." There's a new giant spokesman grinning at Mrs. American Pulp Purchaser, and the Brawny roll now says:
April 18, 2004
Made some more changes to the blogroll, including a few I should explain. First of all, I've given a prominent place to Gerry Dales' Electoral College projections site, which looks at the most recent state-by-state polls. I found this site through James Taranto's Best of the Web, which linked to Dales on Thursday; it's precisely what I've been looking for for the past few months in keeping tabs on the only polls that matter. I'm still stunned by the polls Dales cites showing Bush leading in Democrat-leaning New Jersey; then again, besides the September 11 effect in NY & NJ, there may be a backlash growing in the state against Democrat governor Jim McGreevey, or at least an end to the long backlash against the state's GOP governors (who rode to power on the backlash against Jim Florio . . . ).
Second, I've taken Wonkette off my blogroll; I still check the site daily and will still link to specific items; there's some good stuff there. But I can't really recommend it to readers. Wonkette's obsession with pushing her point of view on gay issues into just everything makes Andrew Sullivan's content seem varied by contrast. She's still great with one-liners, but the Atrios impersonation on that one issue is starting to wear thin.
Third, I've also taken down the link to the ever-controversial Little Green Footballs. There's been persistent controversy over whether LGF, which was (ironically) something of a center-left-leaning site until September 11, has crossed the line into an anti-Islamic/anti-Arab hate site. Joe Katzman has some good thoughts starting here (link via Meryl Yourish); a lot of the issue revolves around whether Charles Johnson can be held responsible for the bile that pours from some of his enormous stable of regular commenters.
Of course, nearly every site that features comments has more extreme stuff in the comments than the blogger; it's the nature of the medium. I was going to weigh in, but it would be unfair of me to rip Johnson and ignorant of me to defend him, since frankly I don't read the site that much myself. LGF is still a great news-aggregating (and sometimes news-gathering) resource, and I have no problem linking to specific posts; but I can't really be bothered at this point to be responsible for endorsing a site when I'm not that up to speed on its contents (which isn't to say I'm totally on top of every site on my blogroll, but I'm not aware of any of the others generating so much angst).
This brings me to a broader point. I've de-linked Kos because I couldn't in good conscience be associated with his deplorable endorsement of murdering American contractors in Iraq, and I've stopped regularly reading Atrios because he makes my blood boil (see here for an example). But I'd have no problem linking to either if I ran across some reason to do so on a particular point. My general philosophy with the likes of Kos and Atrios is that if they come up with something worthwhile, I'll hear about it from Kevin Drum, Josh Marshall and Paul Krugman soon enough.
There are only two sites I would really have a problem linking to. One is Hesiod, who's just out of his mind; the other is the Agonist, who got nailed for plaigarism. Anybody else, I may not want to blogroll them, but they're part of the conversation.
Read More »
P.S. - If you missed it, Aaron Haspel had the definitive take last spring on Hesiod and Atrios:
Hesiod "Theogeny". A sort of bush-league Atrios who literally can't spell his own name. Same m.o., less traffic.
« Close It
April 16, 2004
BLOG: An Unlikely Story
No, it's not the Onion. I swear I'm not making this up. The Reuters headline:
and this, from the story:
McDonald's U.S. Marketing Director Alex Conti said the company was launching a new Web site to go along with its "Go Active" adult Happy Meals, which include a salad, bottled water and a pedometer to encourage walking.
Yao will presumably lecture us on the important obesity-avoiding benefits of being 7'2".
April 15, 2004
BLOG: Where Does He Get Those Wonderful Toys?
I really shouldn't be getting emails from the manufacturer about things like this. But buy a few toys for the kids, and the tempters return . . .
BLOG: One-Year MT Blogoversary
Somehow, I let the 14th of April pass without noting that this marks one year since I moved this site over from Blogspot and went live with the new Movable Type blog (albeit at a domain I'd owned since 2000). Here's my daily average traffic in that period according to HostMatters:
Thanks to everyone who's dropped by, linked or otherwise supported the site, particularly early supporter David Pinto, the straw that stirs the baseball blogosphere.
April 13, 2004
BLOG: New Search Engine!
The Onion has the scoop. Somehow, for us attorneys, the search keeps coming up "no results found."
April 03, 2004
I have to say, there are just certain news stories - such as anything involving Michael Jackson, Paris Hilton or Courtney Love - that I don't just ignore in the papers . . . it's not just that I don't think they're news; it's that they form a sort of anti-news, positive evidence of the absence of news.
BLOG: Showing The Flag
From the Volokh site, an amusing site in which some guy has set out to grade the relative ugliness and unoriginality of the world's flags (all of them!). I don't agree with all of his rankings - he's way too hard on Brazil, for example, and it's sometimes hard to see why some flags rank highly while very similar ones rank much lower - but the commentary is quite entertaining.
April 02, 2004
BLOG: The Buck Has Not Stopped
Good to see Stuart Buck blogging again, however briefly. Sounds like his condition isn't as bad as "had two strokes" would sound, not that it makes it any less frightening. Get well soon, Stuart.
April 01, 2004
BLOG: More Regrettable Food
BLOG: Radio Silence
No entries in almost two months over at The American Scene. I may take down the link soon. Too bad.
BLOG: Your Moment of Yin
Tung Yin has moved; update your bookmarks and blogrolls accordingly. He also invites you to mock his fantasy baseball team, although I wonder about the sportsmanship of people in his league holding him to an accidental pick with his first choice, and besides the ill-considered first choice, his team looks pretty solid to me.
March 29, 2004
BLOG: From the Blogfather
A big milestone today, as we've been added to Instapundit's blogroll, strategically wedged in between Grateful Dead songwriter John Perry Barlow and appellate law blogger Howard Bashman. For those of you visiting here for the first time, look around; we've been here a while, and there's plenty to read.
While I'm on the subject of benefactors, a word for a sponsor: you'll note that I'm currently running a Blogad for TimeWarner Cable's RoadRunner high-speed internet service. I've had RoadRunner since we upgraded to a new computer in the fall of 2000, and with one exception (last summer's blackout), I've had nothing but good to say about the service.
BLOG: Prayers For Buck
Terrible, terrible news from Instapundit, who passes on word that Stuart Buck has suffered a pair of strokes and is hospitalized. Personally, that's really scary - Buck's three years younger than I am, was a few years behind me at Harvard Law, and he's also a big-firm lawyer with small children at home. He's also a religious guy and a fine blogger. Say a prayer for him and his family.
March 28, 2004
BLOG: Dear Mr. Yard
Q: Mr. Yard - I'm a busy New York lawyer who prefers blogging to yard work on the weekends. Several months ago, I trimmed the hedges in front of my house, and put the clippings in overstuffed bags in two garbage cans. But it was getting dark and I had other stuff to do, so I left the cans (without lids) by the side of the house, where over the proceeding months they accumulated rainwater and melted ice and snow mixed with the branches and leaves. Now I'm ready to transfer the clippings into bags to put out with the trash. Any advice?
A: You are a moron. When you empty out the bags, they will smell like a herd of woolly mammoths took a dump in your driveway. You'll probably have to burn everything you were wearing, and hosing down the driveway won't make the stench go away. If you're fortunate, your neighbors will shun you. If not, your head will be mounted on a post as a warning to the other homeowners.
March 27, 2004
BLOG: Why One Blog?
I know that many bloggers mix baseball and politics (most notably Baseball Crank), but I feel that it is wrong in some way to do so. Most people go to Pearly Gates for Angels news and opinion, and not to be preached at. I want to respect their right not to be bombarded with political opinions that they don't necessarily share. I know that it really annoys me when I'm looking at a Red Sox blog and I see nothing but left-wing rhetoric and petty name-calling.
I'm very sympathetic to this argument, which is why I've tried to make it as easy as possible for readers of this site to bypass the non-baseball content. Frankly, I run one blog rather than two partly for my own convenience and partly because - well, sometimes I feel like writing about one topic and sometimes another. Combining my various interests on a single blog ensures that there will be more regular content here.
If you can't stand my politics, you're certainly still welcome here - you can read the political stuff and bicker with it, or you can ignore it and skip to the baseball. Either way, I hope you enjoy your stay and come again. Play ball!
March 26, 2004
BLOG: Quizzed Again
It looks like I'm not the only one to do a John Kerry song. So I go over to Michele's place to remember where I got the link, and instead she sucks me in to another one of those dastardly online quizzes:
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No big surprise, although I thought I'd be Brooks.
« Close It
March 19, 2004
BLOG: Guinness News
Yes, the bubbles do float down. Powerline has the details.
March 18, 2004
BLOG: Nobody Expects The Spanish Inquisition!
February 29, 2004
BLOG: Bissextile Pride Day
Happy birthday to Eugene Volokh and his fellow bissextiles.
February 26, 2004
BLOG: This Is Breaking News?
So, the other day I registered with Washingtonpost.com, so I could continue to read their articles online, and in the process I checked the box to receive breaking news alerts. I figured, yeah, I get a lot of email, but signing up for alerts on the real 'hot news' stories can't hurt. So yesterday, I get my first one:
Spelman to Step Down
Now, I'm not saying that this isn't a story worth reporting in the newspaper . . . but breaking news? This couldn't wait until the morning paper?
February 25, 2004
BLOG: TOP THIRTY SIGNS YOU'RE TURNING THIRTY
I wrote this one up
TOP THIRTY SIGNS YOU'RE TURNING THIRTY
1. You refer to college students as "kids."
UPDATE: Yeah, when I wrote this I forgot how many years ago it was. Bad sign.
February 19, 2004
BLOG: Alabama Song
Laurie Lee done fell in love; She planned to marry Joe. She was so happy 'bout it all She told her Pappy so.
February 18, 2004
BLOG: Rummy Attacks!
February 10, 2004
BLOG: Cracking Down
Another campus controversy at my alma mater; the Boston Herald reports that Holy Cross has imposed a 5-year ban on the school's rugby team, due to hazing rituals involving heavy drinking. I can remember my freshman year, when one of my roommates was on the rugby team and would be awakened at 4 or 5 am to go drink.
February 06, 2004
BLOG: Hail To The Chief
A guardsman from Utah named Paul Holton has described seeing an Iraqi girl crying and decided then and there to help that child and others like her. By enlisting aid through the Internet, Chief Warrant Officer Holton had arranged the shipment of more than 1,600 aid packages from overseas. Here's how this man defines his own mission: "It is part of our heritage that the benefits of being free, enjoyed by all Americans, were set up by God, intended for all people. Bondage is not of God, and it is not right that any man should be in bondage at any time, in any way."
Think about this, from the perspective of the blogosphere's development and maturation: the President of the United States has cited something that started on a blog. We've had news events before where blogs were influential, like the fall of Trent Lott and the rise of Howard Dean. But the Lott story is typical of such events: it was an ordinary political event covered by traditional media. All the blogs did was fan the flames. Here, though, it was a comment on the Chief's blog that catalyzed the actions of other bloggers and got the ball rolling, and much of the organizational work of Operation Give was done over the internet. A lot of children have been helped, and a little corner of history has been made.
January 25, 2004
BLOG: Closing In On 100,000
As you can see, the Digits.com counter on the left should pass 100,000 hits some time on Monday. Email me if you hit the site and see the counter go to 100,000 on the nose. (I installed the counter very early in my days on Blogger, so it should be an accurate count).
January 24, 2004
BASEBALL/BLOG/POLITICS/LAW: Musings on Pinto
Congratulations are in order for David Pinto, who's moving on to a job with Baseball Info Solutions, the publishers of the new Bill James Handbook. David's been a great friend to this site, and I wish him well; he'll apparently be moving his blog to their site.
I have to wonder if the Sporting News, which bought out STATS, Inc. and shut down its annual baseball handbook (which competed with TSN's inferior publication), made a huge mistake common to arrogant baseball men by failing to consider that the key STATS employees, starting with John Dewan, might go and re-start essentially the same book with a new company. Had they thought about that, they could have (1) incorporated more of STATS' elements in the TSN annual or (2) included contract provisions in the sale requiring that key employees not compete with TSN for a number of years. Looks like they whiffed on that one.
On another note, David has this amusing nugget from Peter Gammons:
Gammons and [John] Kerry played hockey against each other in prep school, and Peter told me once that Kerry was the dirtiest hockey player he ever saw.
Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:30 AM | Baseball 2004 | Blog | Law | Politics 2004 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
January 23, 2004
BLOG/BASEBALL: Programming Note
Expect the baseball content around here to be more sporadic from now until at least mid-February, for at least three reasons:
1. There's usually not a lot of hard news coming out between late January and mid-February.
2. I'll be focusing a lot of my attention on the Democratic primaries, which are shaping up to be quite a race, at least for the next few weeks and possibly until March 2 or later.
And most importantly:
3. I'm hard at work on some bigger, more labor-intensive stuff, which I'll be rolling out intermittently over the next few weeks if I have the time; mainly, now that I have the Bill James Handbook to work from, I'll be trying to expand my look at Established Win Shares Levels to a team-by-team rundown of each division. Of course, it wouldn't be the first time if this blog started a series and couldn't finish it, but I'll get through what I can. But the EWSL stuff will eat up most of my baseball-blogging time.
January 17, 2004
BLOG: Vaporize Them!
(Link via Denise Howell).
January 16, 2004
BLOG: All Quiet
I had a big, and I mean big brief due yesterday (70+ pages and a whole bunch of exhibits, and any lawyers out there know how much work goes into something like that), so apologies if there's been no time to blog the last two days. Hopefully, I'll be back on the horse soon, although next week has its own issues (jury duty!).
Cheap shot of the day: it's Ted Kennedy's new car!
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(I may have stolen that joke from someone, but I can't remember who).
« Close It
January 13, 2004
BLOG: The Power of Clutch Hits
Wow. This site had over 1,200 hits yesterday, a record by a fairly large margin, and due very heavily to a link from Baseball Primer's Clutch Hits late Sunday. From the flow of traffic around the site (such as a lot of hits to the "Greatest Hits" columns), it looks like a lot of those were first-time visitors looking around the place.
If you are one of those, glad to have you as a reader; hope you come back.
January 12, 2004
BLOG: No 'Lanche
I shouldn't complain, since I had my biggest traffic day ever yesterday on a Sunday, but in response to the Paul O'Neill controversy, I emailed Instapundit my link to the Bush-Gore debate on Iraq, and he excerpted it with my boldface included but linked only to the original source. (It would have been ironic to get a link from Instaman, since this entry was from a year and a half ago and also generated my one and only link from Andrew Sullivan).
Of course, Glenn now complains that he's got a 3,500 message backlog on email, so I can't be too hard on him for linking without thanking. But a little link love would have been nice.
UPDATE: I get no credit when he re-uses the boldfaced quote over at GlennReynolds.com. I don't mean to pick on Instapundit, who's usually pretty good about sharing his traffic with less-trafficked bloggers. I'm just being petty. . . I guess if I had more free time I could try doctoring pictures of him putting puppies in a blender, but I'm not that desperate for traffic.
January 10, 2004
BLOG: "They'd be microscopic Zionists"
Instapundit links to this predictable but nonetheless hilarious Lileks parody of an Islamist's reaction to the Mars landing. Key excerpt:
Which would make you more proud? Coming up with cunning ways to blow up men, women and children on airplanes, or putting rockets on other planets?
BLOG: Noooo! It Can't Be!
Well, you know I'm a sucker for those internet quizzes. I even took the one that sentenced me to eternal damnation. But this just goes too far:
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I think I got this because my answers showed that (1) like most bloggers, I value fame and attention more than money; (2) I'm chronically disorganized; and (3) I tend to avoid unnecessary personal conflicts (life's too short to get bent out of shape about such things). That said, I think there are some personality traits they are missing . . .
Then again, I couldn't resist the irony of this disclaimer:
Keep in mind, your results are dependent on the accurate truth of your responses.
« Close It
December 31, 2003
BLOG: Happy New Year!
Happy New Year to you and yours - drive safely out there. I appreciate every one of this blog's readers, and hope to see you back in 2004 (with more baseball goodies on the way, I promise!)
BLOG: Plastic Corks
A timely thought: MSNBC has a look at those annoying rubberized wine corks. (I find them annoying because it takes me a while to get through a bottle of wine and the corks often won't go back in the bottle).
BLOG: Dave Barry's 2003
As usual, you owe it to yourself to read Dave Barry's year in review.
December 30, 2003
BLOG: %!^$!^& Comment Spammers
Got hit with a battery of them last night. Add 22.214.171.124 to your banned IP list, if you're keeping score at home.
December 27, 2003
BLOG: New Categories
Those of you who prefer to skip to the baseball content, or who want to check the category archives, may have noticed that three of the categories here (Baseball, Politics and War, my three main areas of interest) load very slowly due to the huge number of entries since the blog started in August 2002 (as well as a few oddball archived emails from before that date). To remedy the problem for the new year, I've renamed the old categories ("Baseball 2002-03," etc.) and created a new set of categories ("Baseball 2004," etc.) to hold this year's entries. I've also changed the link at the top of the page so it goes to the Baseball 2004 category, and I'm notifying the few sites that link to my baseball category page rather than the main page to fix their URLs.
If you're looking for baseball entries from 2003 and earlier, click here for the Baseball 2002-03 category.
Posted by Baseball Crank at 01:52 PM | Baseball 2004 | Blog | Politics 2004 | War 2004 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
December 26, 2003
Bathroom fixture company American Standard is holding an "America's Ugliest Bathroom" contest. Check out the seven finalists between now and the end of January for a true parade of horrible decor (A brown mosaic-tiled bathtub! A lime green tub laid in pink plush carpeting!) as well as an object lesson on why the Fifties, the Sixties, and the Seventies should never return.
December 20, 2003
BLOG: Speaking Seuss
We've had my son (age 6) reading to us every night to develop his reading skills, and he often picks Dr. Seuss books. These are good enough for his reading level, but what strikes me in particular is that Dr. Seuss' books are especially good training for public speaking, because their natural rythms and obvious stresses give the reader clear cues to modulate his or her voice. I've been wondering if Dr. Seuss' books might be good training, even for teaching older kids to speak in public, kids as old as 11-15 or so. I've dealt a bit with kids that age in mock trial programs, as well as remembering what they can be like from my own high school days, and you can see that, when called on to speal in public, most of them -- even the smart ones -- give off a dull, mumbling monotone. I would think that a good way to break that habit would be to give them something simple to read that forces them to be more expressive, and perhaps the more advanced Dr. Seuss books - the Horton books, Thidwick, Solla Sollew, etc. -- are just the trick.
December 19, 2003
BLOG: Block Head
As you can see, I've discovered a new code for block quotes, and I'm going back and forth between the quote-in-a-box look and just doing italics. I'd still prefer to find a way to indent quotes without the box surrounding them, plus the box appears to interfere with the line breaks inside the block. Useful suggestions are appreciated.
As you can tell from the fact that I've been blogging during the business day, I'm home today, and will be off from work with a much-needed vacation until the new year. There will still be some days when I'm too busy to blog with holiday commitments, but I'll try to keep things going around here, plus I've got a few major baseball projects (the first of which was the Alexander vs. Gibson column) in the pipeline that I'll be getting ready behind the scenes.
December 16, 2003
BLOG/WAR: Manning The Post
I've signed on as a contributor to The Command Post; you can see my first entry here. Given my already busy schedule, I don't expect to be a regular contributor, least of all during times like this when the more regular contributors are posting breaking news at a frantic pace, but it made sense to get posting privileges over there for those times when I do see something noteworthy that hasn't been posted, especially during the slower periods in what still promises to be a very long war against terrorism and the tyrannies that support it. It's not a big part, but I'll do my bit.
December 15, 2003
BLOG: State of the Blog
Well, I'm starting to come out of my work-related crisis, and hopefully will be back to having a bit of time each day to blog again some time very soon. As you can see below, I did my share of warblogging this weekend. But there's been baseball news galore as well, and I'll be turning my attention to the battery of recent moves soon, as well as some larger baseball-related projects still in the pipeline.
As always, thanks for dropping by.
December 05, 2003
BLOG: Snowed Under
Apologies for the minimal baseball blogging around here -- I'm still up to my eyeballs in work. Hopefully, I'll get to my rundown on the various moves around the majors some time in the next week or so. For now, I'm just thankful that the Yankees have taken the Braves' best hitter and the Expos' best pitcher out of the NL East.
BLOG: Neither Snow, Nor . . .
Congratulations to lawblogger Denise Howell, who gave birth to a baby boy over Thanksgiving; fellow bloggers, next time you are considering slacking off, recall that Denise was still blogging after she went into labor.
December 03, 2003
BLOG: Wednesday Night Links
Al Bethke (start here and keep on scrollin') is all over the Richie Sexson trade. Mark Steyn has the must-read list of regimes that must go, but forgets to include Arafatistan. WaPo columnist Courtland Milloy has an uncharacteristically sage column about PCP and the Cincinnati incident. Reason has a bizarrely eclectic but thought-provoking list of its "35 Heroes of Freedom." (Hat tip to Robert Tagorda). Doctor Weevil explains why "if babies are being born with [Jimmy] Carter's initials preprinted on their cheeks, he must be the AntiChrist. " And Gregg Easterbrook gets it precisely right in explaining why The Reagans deserved to be canceled:
[A]ll docudramas should be cancelled. News programs are good and pure fiction is fine; docudramas are the enemy of thought, history, fact, and public understanding. When a viewer sees something in a docudrama, he or she has no way of knowing, not the slightest clue, whether what's being presented is real or fabricated. . . . The networks, whose news divisions are profit centers, of all actors ought to resist anything that inclines viewers not to believe what they see on the tube.
November 24, 2003
Still swamped at work, and in any event it's been a slow news time for baseball. On the legal front, I got to read the Ninth Circuit's gun case this weekend -- I should have my analysis up by tomorrow -- but I haven't had the chance to read through the Massachusetts Supreme Court's gay marriage opinion yet (more on that another day).
November 19, 2003
BLOG: You Know What They Say . . .
Location, location, location. This story reminded me of the old Saturday Night Live sketch: "In New York City, a man is mugged every 11 seconds. This is that man . . . "
November 03, 2003
BLOG: Cub Reporter
I'll add my voice to those suggesting you should head on over to the Cub Reporter and hit the PayPal button to lend a hand to a baseball blogger who lost his house in the California wildfires.
October 31, 2003
BLOG: A Good October
Here's one benefit of the gripping baseball postseason:
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Of course, it was only in June that I added a SiteMeter link, but other traffic metrics show that July 2003 was already my all-time high month to that point. Thanks to everyone who's dropped by. Hope you'll stick around.
« Close It
October 29, 2003
BLOG: More Good News
October 21, 2003
While David Pinto is live-blogging tonight's game, I'm just getting ready to head home from the office after a conference call. So check out Baseball Musings and I'll have more later.
October 14, 2003
BLOG: Link Roundup
Sergeant Stryker and Winds of Change point us to the beyond-bizarre Yankees-Red Sox rantings over at Allah in the House. (Yes, it's satire). Volokh points to a hilarious collection of law firm versions of literary works; the rewritten Book of Job had me in stitches. From Drudge: the man who taught his dog the Hitler salute; yes, the animal control woman who took the dog in is actually named "Ruff." Maureen Dowd recalls a dinner date with Rush Limbaugh (!) ten years ago. James Joyner has a priceless caption contest. And monkeys control prosthetic limbs with brain waves!
October 13, 2003
If you blog, you may have run across this problem addressed over at Winds of Change.net: porn spam in your comments. I banned some IP addresses from this site today for the first time.
October 10, 2003
BLOG: Lileks Was Here
Imagine my surprise reading that Lileks was not only here in New York; he had lunch in a restaurant in my office building while he was here.
October 05, 2003
BLOG: Bloggers at HLS
I can't believe they're having a conference on blogging at my alma mater and I never heard about it until Friday. Too bad. Glenn Reynolds is blogging from there, as are many others, and David Pinto got me all nostalgic for Harvard Square with this picture.
October 04, 2003
BLOG: For The European Traveler
This "European Travel Guide" from The Lemon from a few weeks back is just sidesplittingly funny. Don't miss the guide to common French phrases at the bottom.
October 03, 2003
BLOG: Crackpots Like Us
Checking out my Technorati inbound links and discovered that I'd been linked by a site called The Crackpot Chronicles. The odd things: the site just started today, I'm one of just two links on the blogroll, and the site's operator is a woman named Ellen Sander -- and since my inbound links and (I suspect) my readership tilts heavily male, that's always noteworthy.
Anyway, always good to see a reader start a new blog. Happy hunting!
BLOG: Happy Thoughts
Mike at Miniluv wants us all to blog good things. These days, good news is in short supply, but hey! the Cubs won and the Giants lost, and I'll take that. Oh, and Andrew Sullivan reports that the case for war on grounds that Saddam Hussein was continuing and concealing a program to develop biological and chemical weapons in violation of innumerable UN resolutions has been completely vindicated. But more on that later.
BLOG: Be Back
Got interrupted here just as I was getting rolling for the morning -- more baseball stuff when I have time to blog next.
October 02, 2003
BLOG: Hating Yale
Hey, maybe that explains why people hate Hillary, Clarence Thomas, Pat Robertson and Howard Dean, too!
October 01, 2003
BLOG: Traffic Report
As you can see, the digit counter says I passed 50,000 hits on Monday. I've been having some record traffic days lately, particularly the day David Pinto got linked to by Instapundit, which cascaded a bunch of people over here. Pinto, of course, has been my main source of steady traffic since the beginning here; besides my blogiversaries, I should be celebrating September 14 as the 1-year anniversary of getting a link from Baseball Musings.
From looking at the SiteMeter and HostMatters reports, it seems that my traffic is very much driven by three things:
1. Links to my posts. On days when someone links to a post, I get a disproportionate amount of traffic. This, of course, reminds me that traffic here is driven by people coming to read specific stuff, which keeps me honest.
2. Secondary traffic, like when someone who links to me gets a big link, usually an Instalanche.
3. Search engines. For example, my post on the new strike zone in 2002 gets a lot of incoming traffic because it appears prominently when you Google "boston sports guy". My post on sabermetrics and warbloggers is top of the list if you Google bill james sabermetrics. Some of that seems like random traffic, but if you came here looking for something and stuck with the site, all the better.
Of course, you'll notice that #1 and #3 are both much bigger sources of traffic ever since I moved to Movable Type, with its superior (and Googlable) archives and easier-to-permalink posts.
September 20, 2003
BLOG: The Inscrutable Cartoon
By the way, Mark Steyn answered a question I posed in this week's Mark's Mailbox:
Q: OK, I'm sure you've had this question before, but why is the online edition of your Spectator column invariably interrupted by a cartoon that has absolutely nothing to do with the column? Is this some abstruse form of British humor (excuse me, humour) that I don't get? Or is it just an attempt to replicate online the layout of the magazine, regardless of the sometimes jarring contrast between the cartoons and the subject matter?
PS. Of course - keep giving 'em hell.
September 19, 2003
BLOG: Speaking of Marketing
This is pretty outrageous.
Michele Catalano proves that it is, in fact, possible to be both clever and rude enough to get a telemarketer to hang up on you, and without erupting in a stream of obscenity or vitriol.
September 17, 2003
BLOG/POLITICS: Starting Back Up
OK, I've been off the blogging routine a bit lately. Yesterday I finished a gigantic time suck, as we wrapped up refinancing our mortgage, so that's out of the way.
Of course, it's also been a depressing time to write. The Mets have long since been down the crapper, their one exciting young player is done for the season, and the Hated Yankees are leaving the Red Sox in the dust again. And, of course, the Bush Administration went through its usual pre-Labor Day snooze (a trend dating back to the 2000 campaign); while I don't think things are going that badly overall, it's hard to deny that conservatism and the Bush Administration have been playing nothing but defense all summer, with no major initiatives out there -- on the domestic or foreign policy fronts that promise to do anything but consolidate recent gains.
But the fray needs to be rejoined, so I hope to be starting to get back on schedule soon.
August 28, 2003
Overslept my blogging hour this morning . . . I'll give you a link - Vodkapundit with a laughable example of U.N. impotence - and a thought - the injury that prevents Mike Sweeney from playing first base (leaving him blocking the DH slot) has a ripple effect in that the acquisition of Rondell White sends hot-hitting Aaron Guiel to the bench instead of the relatively punchless Ken Harvey.
August 27, 2003
Sorry it's been a little quiet around here -- crises at work and some distracting errand-running at home have cut into my blogging time. There has been major progress at the site, though, on two fronts: I've finished loading my old columns from Projo and the BSG site to the "Baseball Columns" category, and I've finally finished classifying all the old (from the Blogspot site) entries into categories and giving them titles.
A more regular posting schedule should return by some time next week. But stay tuned, I won't be completely quiet in the interim.
August 25, 2003
BLOG: There Is No Try
Well, this was inevitable, given my self-image as a "venerated sage with vast power and knowledge":
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August 24, 2003
BLOG: Much From Musil
One of the bloggers I read far too infrequently is Robert Musil. But I've just added him to my blogroll, and if you haven't been to his site lately, you should check out entries like these:
+Noting an issue that I've been concerned about myself, Musil looks in more depth at the weakness of the California economy compared to the nation. Musil's been one of the best sources for punditry on the recall.
+A hilarious "Guide to the Lesser Husseins"
+A fascinating observation on the new ABA rules for lawyers' ability to blow the whistle on clients engaged in potential financial fraud: while the new SEC rules under Sarbanes-Oxley create a duty to disclose client confidences in certain circumstances when the client is a public company, the new model professional rules simply give the lawyer discretion to do so. Musil notes that this gives lawyers the effective ability to at least implicitly blackmail their clients.
August 22, 2003
BLOG: A Blogoversary
Today is the one year anniversary of my blog! Here's the inaugural post. In my second post, I noted a long overdue hot streak for Adrian Beltre, which come to think of it he's having again right now. Traffic remained stalled at about 3 regular readers for the first three weeks until I got linked by Andrew Sullivan, and now seems to hover around 220 visitors a day during the week.
(So, I've got a few of these -- my first baseball column appeared on the internet on May 5, 2000, and the Movable Type site was launched on April 14, 2003.)
August 15, 2003
BLOG/WAR: That Old Feeling
Major flashback to September 11 yesterday, as the lights went out and this time I was inside the building, and had to descend 24 floors to ground level (while wondering if another shoe was about to drop) and then repeat my September 11 experience of toting my briefcase through Midtown and Central Park before locating what may have been the last empty cab in the city. I wasn't taking any chances; the guy balked at leaving Manhattan, so I told him I'd give him $100 (for once, I had some cash on me) to get me to Queens. 2 1/2 hours later, I was home, grilling some burgers before they went bad.
We got power back this morning, but only just got the internet and TV back about 15 minutes ago (#^*!!@ Time Warner). Spent today at home doing some work; as with after September 11, I was calling in to a 1-800 hotline my firm set up to get status updates on when we'd be able to return to work. I would have preferred not to repeat the feeling.
If you want some good blogging on the blackout and its ramifications, check out Jane Galt and Mindles Dreck.
I'm here and then I'm gone, off on vacation. Blogging will resume some time Wednesday or Thursday.
August 12, 2003
BLOG: Stupid Forgers
Here's a story about a government employee in Massachusetts who stumbled across a forgery on a petition -- of her own name.
BLOG: Reduced Blogging
Sorry if things are a bit quieter around here -- I've got some errands to take care of this week (car registration, refinancing the mortgage), and some other stuff to deal with, including a very annoying infection on one of my fingers.
August 11, 2003
BLOG: Dam It
I know I got this as an email a few years ago and maybe you did too -- from Snopes.com, a classic exchange of letters about an unauthorized dam, and the story behind it.
July 31, 2003
Added a new link to the blogroll: Dan Lewis' Sports Blog, which covers other sports as well as baseball. And Alex Belth's Bronx Banter has moved and can now be found here; another refugee escapes Blogger.
BLOG: Three Years Old
This report of how a 3-year-old boy in Germany stole the keys to his father's car and started driving it is wild enough, but then when a film crew came to do a story on the incident, he started driving again.
July 28, 2003
Overslept my alarm clock this morning and missed my time to blog. Oh well, I feel better this morning than Chris Hammond does.
July 26, 2003
BLOG: Look at the Bones, Man!
It's a dog-eating catfish! Unfortunately, as with the Brothers Hussein, some people just can't be convinced that the catfish is dead.
July 25, 2003
BLOG: Off Morning
No time to blog this morning -- late night last night at the Springsteen concert (more on that later), and I'm back to work this morning.
July 22, 2003
BLOG: Quote of the Day
Mac Thomason, on the fire at the Eiffel Tower: "Only the French could manage to set a steel tower on fire."
July 14, 2003
BLOG: A Rough Business
July 13, 2003
BLOG: Department of Screwing?
Chaz over at Dustbury, in a hilarious skewering of the Totally Insane Mark Morford, asks the question: "do we really need national sexual role models?"
For the record, waiting until you are married is not an impediment to, shall we say, well, a healthy and satisfying marital relationship, is all I'm saying. I mean, seriously: what the hell is wrong with grown men and women who can't figure out how to have sex and enjoy it? It's not rocket science, you know.
July 11, 2003
BLOG: Bear vs. Sub
June 28, 2003
BLOG: I'm Back
Got back late Thursday night from a family vacation at Disney World, and I've been digging out ever since. There's much to blog about, from the Mets-Yankees series to the Supreme Court's busy week, although I see that The Mad Hibernian has been manning the battlements here all week. Unfortunately, because I was traveling and for reasons I'll explain later, I didn't get to see much baseball this week.
If I was really ambitious, I could make an Al Haig declaration ("I'm in charge here!") while Glenn Reynolds is on vacation. As usual, though, I'll just be scrambling for enough time to catch up.
June 21, 2003
BLOG: Out of Blog Experience
I'll be away from the blog for a few days; blogging will resume next Friday or next weekend (other than my co-bloggers, that is). See ya then.
I did have one milestone this week: I finally got the last of my blog archives moved over from Blogger (the September and August stuff).
June 17, 2003
BLOG: Lowering The Curtain
Samizdata goes ballistic, and rightly so, over a trial balloon floated by an EU entity suggesting that blogs in Europe could be subject to content regulation including "equal time" mandates.
Thank God I'm an American.
BLOG: Back in the Vodka
Stephen "Vodkapundit" Green is back after a long layoff. I can well understand the need to take a break from blogging. But I have to say, as somebody who blogs around the edges of a 60-70-hour-a-week job, I had some trouble understanding why Green couldn't drop by once a week or so and write 2-3 lines to let us know he was still there (from reading his bio, it's not even clear that Green needs to work for a living).
June 13, 2003
BLOG: It's a Small Blogosphere After All
So on Tuesday I read an item by David Pinto pointing out a St. Louis Cardinals blog by "the Gunn brothers," and I go over to Redbird Nation to take a look, and sure enough, there's a Brian and Mark Gunn, at least one of whom noted that he'd been to college in New England . . . to make a long story short, it turns out that these are two guys I knew in college at Holy Cross, and I'd been completely unaware that they were out there running a baseball blog, and an excellent one at that. Go check it out.
June 10, 2003
BLOG: In The Cup
June 07, 2003
BLOG: Ricky's Got Some 'Splainin'
Now that I've resolved the technical difficulties that kept my entries from posting the past 2 days (the numerical IP address for this site has changed, so from now on you should make sure to come here through www.baseballcrank.com), it's time to wish a Happy Blogiversary to Ricky West at North Georgia Dogma.
BLOG: The Big Four?
Much commentary lately on Hugh Hewitt's designation of Instapundit, Andrew Sullivan, Mickey Kaus, and The Volokh Conspiracy as the "Big Four" blogs that drive news cycles. I have to disagree with his selection on one point; I don't tend to think of the Volokh site as one of the real news-cycle-driving sites like Sullivan, Instapundit, Kaus and Josh Marshall (Hewitt cites Marshall, but as the lone liberal in the group and a Big Media guy in his own right, via his connection with The Washington Monthly, Marshall has proven his ability to set news agendas). Maybe it's just me, but the Volokh site is more reflective, less apt to pile onto hot stories just to spread news on them, and more lawyerly; I go there for analysis, not news.
BLOG: How Novel Is Google?
I've had nearly no time to post this week -- I returned from my reunion to a crisis at work that has expanded to fill all available time and then some. But I did see one item that I wanted to comment on: Glenn Reynolds' latest Tech Central Station column. What bugged me is Reynolds' sense that Google was really some sort of radical innovation in its ability to search and retrieve information across the Web.
The reason I found this odd is that I'd encountered the kind of searchability found in Google before I'd ever heard of the Internet -- on Westlaw and LEXIS/NEXIS, the online legal search engines, which for many years have offered the ability to log on and search not only legal resources but news sources as well. They're expensive as sin, but the services give free access to law students (to get us hooked), so while I first saw the internet in 1996, I'd already spent 3 years surfing the newsgathering features of Westlaw online.
Which is to take nothing from Google, which searches a much vaster wilderness of web pages and does so at no charge to the reader. But when Google came out, my reaction wasn't "wow, how can they do this?" It was "finally, the web has a search engine that rivals what you can get on Westlaw."
June 02, 2003
BLOG: Class of 1993
Like Orin Kerr and Jacob Levy, I was away at my 10-year college reunion this weekend, at Holy Cross; co-blogger Kiner's Korner (our Boston correspondent) was in attendance as well. Blogging should return as usual in a day or two, about the same time my legs recover from a traditional reunion game of softball.
May 27, 2003
Just posting this to pass on our condolences to David Pinto, whose mom passed away this morning.
May 15, 2003
BLOG: Smell Like I Sound
Oh, you know I can't resist a good internet quiz:
Read More »
May 11, 2003
BLOG: The Power of the Post
Check out the jump in sites linking to Bill Hobbs' blog between May 8 and May 10 for a graphic illustration of the power of a good post to attract attention in the blogosphere.
For our part, we've now evolved all the way up to Slithering Reptiles, at #676 in the Blogosphere Ecosystem.
May 10, 2003
BLOG: Happy Anniversary To Me
This week was so busy, I forgot to celebrate a milestone that passed on Monday: my three-year anniversary as an internet columnist. Here's my first piece, from May 5, 2000, on a proposed baseball rule change. Of course, back then, I had never heard of a blog (and people like Glenn Reynolds were still completely unknown), although my columns were running on the Boston Sports Guy website, which really did all the things you would expect from a blog - a daily battery of links accompanied by snide commentary, a breezy, first-person interactive dialogue with the readers - and wound up making Bill Simmons, the site's proprietor since the mid-90s, into one of the earliest internet-only celebrities. My location and format have changed since then (although I've owned the www.baseballcrank.com domain for almost the whole 3 years), moving to the outskirts of Big Media (the Providence Journal) and back. If you're new to the site, check out the "Baseball Columns" category - while some of the stuff is dated and I'm far from getting all the old stuff loaded, there are a number of pieces there that I'd humbly submit are still worth reading.
According to a recent poll, adulthood begins at age 26. One interesting finding: respondents, on average, said that people should get married at age 25.7 and have children at age 26.2.
You do the math.
May 09, 2003
But in a good way.
BLOG: Don't Try This At Home
May 07, 2003
BLOG: Eat Up!
Any parent of a small child can sympathize with Lileks' ironic complaint:
Once again I heard myself tell my daughter she couldn’t have raisins until she finished her mac and cheese. No fruit for you unless you finish that processed grain-and-reconstituted-cheddar glue. It's habit - do this, then that. Finish your cookie or you won't get your vitamins.
May 06, 2003
BLOG: The Revolving Door
This admission by Eugene Volokh exposes the seamy reality of the revolving door between the federal government and the blogosphere. Hey, Professor Volokh, didn't anyone ever tell you that you can't withdraw from a conspiracy if you intend to rejoin it?
May 05, 2003
BASEBALL/BLOG: Dr. Manhattan's Return
BLOG: Quiet Morning
I'm heading in to the office early, so no time to blog much this morning. Check out Lileks for a sobering moment - he's rendered speechless.
April 30, 2003
I don't know what's stranger, the fact that an alligator turned up in Alley Pond Park in Queens, which is practically in my back yard, or the fact that I first noticed the story in a report from an Alabama newspaper on Mac Thomason's site.
April 27, 2003
Back on March 4, I noted that (on the previous day, I believe) the site meter had passed 10,000 page views from August to March. This past Thursday, April 24, we cleared 15,000, meaning half as many visits in seven weeks as in the first 5 1/2 months. And the Hosting Matters stats say we've had just under 600 unique visitors in the last 13 days.
April 21, 2003
BASEBALL/BLOG: Eddie Grant
This site is now the proud sponsors of the memory of Eddie Grant, an infielder with the Phillies, Reds and Giants (and Harvard alum) who was killed in action in the Argonne Forest in October 1918.
BLOG: Two Announcements
Now that the new site's been up and running a week, I have two major announcements:
The first, which I made last week over at the Projo discussion boards, is that I am ending my affiliation with the Providence Journal. I enjoyed my time writing for Projo, and I have nothing but good to say about Projo sports editor Art Martone, who offered me a spot to keep writing about baseball when Bill Simmons' Boston Sports Guy site closed down in May of 2001. Art remains one of the voices of reason in baseball writing, and of course I'll keep checking out his columns.
I intend to eventually load all my columns from Projo and the BSG site into the archives here, and put links to many of them up on the front page; there's already a bunch loaded, including many of my Hall of Fame columns. I'll still write longer column-length posts here when I have the time, but as long-time readers are aware, I've found it harder ever since September 11 to confine my interests to just baseball. In fact, I started writing columns, back in college, mostly as a writer on politics and world affairs (the sports columnist job on the school paper was taken already by Bill Simmons when I got there). Of course, the world has changed a lot since I was a college student writing columns calling for war with Saddam . . . if I really get ambitious some day I may break out the old WordPerfect for DOS floppies and dig up one or two of those old columns.
By the way, for those of you who are fans of my baseball writing but want to avoid the political stuff - or vice versa - you can do so by clicking on the "Categories" in the left-hand column; I believe you can actually bookmark them.
Second, this site - following the lead of successful blogs like the Volokh site, Asymmetrical Information, Oxblog, The American Scene, The Buck Stops Here, and others, will now be a group blog. While there are obviously some advantages to getting all the credit for a site yourself, this is another move that will assure more content, and more continuous content, on the site even when my work and family commitments don't leave me time for writing (and thus avoid long silences like the one Dr. Manhattan is now enduring; come back, Doc!).
I am very pleased to introduce my first two co-bloggers, who have chosen to remain pseudonymous. I'll leave it to them to do their introductions, but they will be writing under the names "The Mad Hibernian" and "Kiner's Korner." What I will say is that both are lawyers, both are Mets fans, and both are likely to bring a similar perspective to issues of war and politics to the table to ensure a consistent tone for the content at this site.
April 20, 2003
BLOG: Happy Easter
No blogging today. Major announcement coming soon. Happy Easter!
April 19, 2003
BLOG: What To Learn In College
Harvard Law blogger Philip Greenspun offers an overly rational argument on why colleges should abolish dormitories, put students in cubicles by day, and otherwise treat their students more like employees. It's a provocative idea, and I could imagine some small college trying it, but let's face it: American society has long since decided that social development is as important to the college experience as education. The fact that we nonetheless have the world's best university system suggests that this is the least of our worries.
Also, to take Greenspun's cynical-economist tack, an important purpose of college is to prevent youth unemployment by keeping marginally employable young people (i.e., most of them) busy with something else. If we make college less attractive, more kids that age will just try to enter the workforce.
April 18, 2003
Rod Dreher urges us to "[l]ift a glass of ranch dressing at lunch today to Dr. Robert Atkins", in memory of his death. Tommy Franks, quoted in this GlennReynolds.com item, refers to the U.N.'s "oil for palace" program. Dr. Weevil, baiting some troll in his comments section and showing why he's no ordinary pedant: "that's "Dr. Weevil" to you, 'bobbyp': I didn't spend five years in graduate school to be an ordinary 'Weevil'."
LAW: Is an Ungoogled Life Worth Living?
Harvard Law Professor Jonathan Zittrain on the Google Death Penalty. Google's enormous influence does raise some interesting issues, perhaps more in the nature of policy than legal issues. I'm not an expert in antitrust economics, but it seems to me that Google is what you might call an ephemeral monopoly: the reach and influence of a monopolist, but coupled with the certainty that it could be easily unseated from its position in a heartbeat if it attempted to exploit the consumer, or - and this is key - if it was suddenly subjected to added regulatory/legal burdens that impeded the flexibility that got it where it is. I can see why that's frustrating to sites that get banned from Google, but the social downside of imposing any sort of hightened legal duty on an entity like Google solely due to its prominence would be counterproductive.
Of course, I've still never heard a good explanation of how Google makes any money, either.
April 16, 2003
Blog: Bad Marketing
More than a few people have noted the bitter irony of Hong Kong's current tourist marketing campaign slogan, "Hong Kong will take your breath away." But this one was nearly as bad: The back of the Houston Astros 2001 media guide carries an ad . . . Big, bold letters proclaim, "Sometimes, it's the things you don't see that have the biggest impact." The ad is for Enron . . .
April 14, 2003
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Welcome to the new site! As you can see, there's a lot of work going on here before the new site is fully functional, so posting will probably be very light this week until the bugs are worked out (and I figure out how to use Movable Type).
You want a link? For old time's sake, I'll extend the first link at the new site to Bill Simmons, who follows Mike Tyson's imitation of Marlon Brando in 'On the Waterfront' and even includes a picture showing that Bill has a reach advantage on the Champ.
April 11, 2003
BLOG: Baby Names
An interesting story in the New York Daily News has the most popular baby names in New York City in 2001. #1? Michael and Ashley. What I found most interesting was the top names for Latinos: for boys, Justin, Christopher and Kevin; for girls, Ashley, Jennifer and Destiny (I'm working off a table in the print edition, which has more detail than the link). I was really surprised that there wasn't a single traditional Latino name in the bunch (the same was true, although less surprising, for Asian & Pacific Islander babies).
BLOG: Hesiod and Atrios
I do try to read left- or liberal-leaning blogs, both to fairly hear the other side and to find bad ideas to stamp out; sometimes I'll even try to engage people in the comment sections. But two blogs that I've about had it with are Atrios and mini-Atrios (aka Hesiod). There are many reasons for this; Hesiod in particular has become totally unhinged by the war, lurching off into 'black helicopter' territory and mumbling about a 'Bush Fedayeen' that's out to murder critics of the president. But another reason is their hatred and contempt for Christianity. Check out this post from Hesiod, which is an extreme example. And there's this, from Atrios, who basically quotes a preacher preaching and thinks it's a punchline.
Gotta find me the loyal opposition. These clowns ain't where it's at.
April 09, 2003
Now, this can't have been any fun to clean up after.
April 08, 2003
BLOG: On the DL
I came down with something unpleasant this morning . . . check back Thursday or so.
Meanwhile, check out this Den Beste link with a great cartoon and a link to a devastating Mark Steyn column.
April 04, 2003
BLOG: The Carnivores
Tung Yin has some scary thoughts about one of the members of the coalition in Iraq: dolphins.
April 02, 2003
WAR: The Command Post
OK, I'm off to work. Don't forget to check The Command Post all day and night for the latest war news.
March 29, 2003
BLOG: Big Changes Coming
Some big changes coming around here -- watch for more to come, but activity on the blog and the Projo column may be relatively quiet for a few weeks in the interim.
March 11, 2003
BLOG: An Announcement
An announcement: unless something really outrageous compels me to break silence, I'm pulling the plug on non-baseball content on this blog until . . . well, at least until (1) my rotisserie baseball draft on March 22 and/or (2) the war finally starts. I may keep the ban in place until Opening Day. Basically, I've gotten sick of the same old war debate -- there's no more persuasion to be done, and no more real news to report -- and the whole subject has kept me from getting geared up mentally for baseball season. And isn't that the very freedom we're fighting for? Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Religion, Freedom to Pretend The Mets Are Going To Be A Contending Team While I Still Can . . .
BLOG: Air Travel
I flew in to Atlanta over the weekend for a wedding. Two observations:
+I got through airport security with a bunch of uni-ball pens in my carry-on bag; this surprised me a bit, since the pens could clearly be used as lethal weapons in a pinch. Still, for precisely that reason, I was glad to have them.
+I wasn't sure the crowd at LaGuardia was paying attention to Paula Zahn's show on the TV overhead until Jonah Goldberg mentioned how PETA was protesting the designation of France, Germany and Belgium as the 'Axis of Weasel' on the grounds that it was unfair to weasels. That drew a big laugh -- ah, the American street.
March 10, 2003
BLOG: GREAT MOMENTS IN TYPOGRAPHICAL ERRORS
I recently received one of those scam emails asking me to help a person purporting to be "Mr samuel savimbi of Angola," purportedly the son of Jonas Savimbi, transfer $25 million out of accounts in the Netherlands. Anyway, here's the key sentence:
I got your contact through"The world bussness journal" when i was desperately looking for a thrust worthy person to assist me in this confidential bussness.
I had no idea that the "world bussness journal" considered me "a thrust worthy person." You learn something new every day.
March 09, 2003
BLOG: I'm Back
I'm back from my trip to Atlanta; more on that later as time permits.
March 06, 2003
BLOG: Flame War
I think the moral of this story is, don't mess with den Beste.
March 04, 2003
As you can see above, we've reached 10,000 page views! A milestone of sorts, albeit a reminder of how small this blog is compared to some of the bigger ones.
February 22, 2003
BLOG: Important Message
February 18, 2003
BLOG: Light Blogging This Week
Light blogging this week, for the most banal of reasons: I need all the free time I can get to shovel snow.
February 17, 2003
BLOG: GLOBAL WARMING ALERT!
Mmmmmmm . . . snow day, just like being a kid. Of course, it's only a snow day because it's already a national holiday; otherwise I'd have had to slog through the maelstrom to get to the Long Island Rail Road, and Lord knows if that's even running. Instead, home watching movies with the kids. Check the news; no war, nothing else is worth worrying about.
Still, there's Orioles rookie pitcher Steve Bechler, who died this morning at age 23 of as yet undetermined causes after feeling lightheaded at a workout yesterday. So much for the innocent glow of spring training. Prayers for his family, please.
February 11, 2003
Yeah, I know, not much baseball content here lately. My mind has been on the war. I've also been bogged down trying to finish Part 2 of the latest Projo piece.
February 06, 2003
BASEBALL/WAR/POLITICS: Bill James, Sabermetrics, Conservatives, and Bloggers
Dr. Manhattan has a great post - with links aplenty -- discussing the influence of Bill James on the thinking of 'warbloggers' including yours truly. I can't agree more - when I first read the 1983 Abstract (I was 11), James taught me how to think critically, a skill I regularly employ in my baseball columns, my blogging on war and politics, and my day job as a litigator. No one outside my immediate family has had a more profound impact on my life.
1. Dr. Manhattan argues that "When you consider his methodology and the amount of BS he hacked through, Bill James has a valid claim to be the first “anti-idiotarian.”" I'd agree that he fits the profile, but no way is James the first - while it depends how far back you want to go in your intellectual histories, George Orwell would fit that description to a T, and would probably also be cited as a direct inspiration by many in the blogosphere, most notably Andrew Sullivan. Not only did Orwell take a buzzsaw to cant of all types, but he often used the 'Fisking' modus operandi, quoting and methodically demolishing the foolish notions of even the highest and mightiest (read his assault on Leo Tolstoy's pamphlet on Shakespeare, where he starts off picking apart Tolstoy's reading of King Lear and winds up indicting Tolstoy's entire life).
2. I've long wanted to expand on the parallels between sabermetric baseball analysts and political conservative media:
+Both distrust and despise mainstream media, especially the NY Times and network talking heads and their tendencies to echo each others' smug assumptions.
+Both often refer derisively to "conventional wisdom".
+Both took to the Web early, seeking to connect with like-minded people alienated by the mainstream media.
+Both have a near-unshakeable faith in logic, a suspicion of emotional decisionmaking, and a belief that their ideas will ultimately triumph.
+Both tend to rely heavily on principles of basic economics and statistics, with a little Social Darwinism (not the racial type, but the basic idea that better ideas will invariably prevail) thrown in.
+Both are heavily populated by males age 25-40, who were heavily influenced by ideas that have a long pedigree (ask John McGraw or Bill Buckley) but that came of age in the 1980s.
+Both rely heavily on sarcasm, wit and other sometimes impolitic but entertaining methods common to 'outsiders,' due in part to a lack of connections with those on the 'inside.'
+Both are often denounced by the 'mainstream' on charges of being disconnected from reality.
+The ideas of either are rarely confronted on the merits by mainstream analysts who take them seriously.
Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:45 PM | Baseball 2002-03 | Blog | Politics 2002-03 | War 2002-03 | Comments (11) | TrackBack (2)
February 03, 2003
BLOG: Dave Barry's Blog
It's periodically helpful to remind us all of the costs of war, but one thing I take very serious issue with is the sense that we all blog in safety, far from violence and danger. I was four blocks from my office in the World Trade Center when I saw the second plane hit; I could easily have been inside, with my co-workers who escaped death by minutes. Everyone in New York saw more horrors than we care to recall. My city is still in the bullseye of every fanatic with access to chem/bio/nuke WMD. I want war now because I want peace later, and I want me and my children to live to see it. And I'm greatful for those who volunteer to the front lines.
Are we hypocrites, we who call for a war we will not fight? No more than we who call 911 but decline to wear the uniforms of the police and firefighters who rush to danger to save us. No more than we who send money (or vote to send others' tax money) to overseas charities, but decline to live in squalor and disease to tend to the neediest, or who attend churches but decline to live the calling of the religious, or who drive over bridges men died to build.
Nobody ever says the mayor can't tell the firefighters to run into burning buildings because he never did so himself. Some people take on more of life's risks than others; it's not fair, but it's the way of the world.
WAR/BLOG: Good News From Israel
It's the Good News From Israel blog!
January 02, 2003
BLOG: Collision Course
Ernie the Attorney answers the question: how can a helicopter collide with a submarine?
BLOG: d6auygd gytqu 71ggh baseballcrank
I'm really baffled by the increasing amount of nonsense spam I get lately. I mean, all the silly and stupid sales pitches and get-rich-quick schemes, the nasty porn, the Nigerian scams - those I can understand. Someone is trying to sell something, and hoping that somebody on the other end is buying. But I'm increasinly getting spammed emails full of gibberish, things you just know from one look not to open, no matter what you're hoping to find in your inbox. Who spends their time creating this stuff, and why?
BLOG: CHRISTMAS IN MANHATTAN
Weekend before Christmas, my wife and I took the kids in to Manhattan to see Santa at Macy's, and the Rockefeller Center tree. I know, we're idiots, but we had planned to go the prior weekend and got scared away by the thought that too many people would be rushing in to town to beat the transit strike.
Anyway, after a day of sheer bedlam fighting high-density crowds, we decided to head downtown and catch dinner at a restaurant at the South Street Seaport (OK, Pizzaria Uno; you go with the familiar and dependable chain when you have kids). It was like a different city; the Seaport is beautiful that time of year, lights strung everywhere, broad stone boulevards to wander with nearly nobody around. There place has nice shops, too (leaving aisde the smell of fish). I wound up wondering why we went to midtown at all - but also, wondering whether the Seaport was different before.
New Year's resolution is to figure out how to balance this blog with the Projo column, work, family and other obligations. Lately, the Projo column has been suffering as a result. There are two ways to go with the blog - fewer, longer entries, or more quick links. Quick-link entries may be more expendable - there's a million sites you can go to - but they're also faster and easier to do. I'll keep you posted. So to speak.
December 23, 2002
BLOG: Merry Christmas
With Christmas upon us, it's time to cut back the blog for the next two weeks; I'll be blogging either sporadically or not at all between now and January 3 or so. Merry Christmas, and a happy and healthy New Year to all!
December 19, 2002
BLOG: Inside Blogball
This is as inside-blogball as it gets, but at the bottom of the page I have a script that tells me where visitors are coming from, if 2 or more come here from the same page in 24 hours. Today, I noticed a bunch of visitors from Dr. Manhattan's Blissful Knowledge page, which has a permalink to this site. I checked his site to see if he'd mentioned something here today, but no. Then I'm cruising on Instapundit's site, and lo and behold - a link to Dr. Manhattan! It was the extra traffic (the "Instalanche," as it's known) from Instaman's site that provided spillover traffic here.
However you arrived here, welcome.
December 16, 2002
BLOG: Baseball Blogging
Maybe it's just me, but I find it harder to make a battery of casual blog entries about baseball than politics, despite having much to say about the former. I think it's because politics lends itself more to straight-out application of opinion, logic and principle - at least the issues I tend to talk about often do, and I tend to shy away from the fact-based heavy lifting, beyond easily checked stuff like debate transcripts and vote totals. On baseball, though, I'm more inclined to assume that people read my stuff looking for harder-edged analysis with citations to the evidence, and it's harder to find the time to do that on my schedule. It's ironic, really.
December 09, 2002
BLOG: Still Busy
Still too busy, check back tomorrow. Hopefully, by then, we'll have war in Iraq, a new government in Iran, a new GM for the Mets who doesn't think that a youth movement involves dumping your only good hitter under 30 to sign a 37-year-old finesse pitcher, and a new leader for Senate Republicans who knows when to stop listening to the voices in his hair . . .
Hey, a guy can dream, can't he?
December 04, 2002
Today's the kind of day when you want to do a victory lap every time you get in the door of a heated building. I'm starting to wish my car had heat . . .
Who else but the NY Post would run the headline, "QUACK BACK IN BUTT BIZ"?
December 02, 2002
I posted a few links over the weekend as well as updating the perma-links on the left, but there may be some slow going on the blog this week, as I'm heading down the home stretch on a big project at work and won't have much time for anything else.
November 28, 2002
BLOG: HAPPY AND HEALTHY
HAVE A HAPPY AND HEALTHY THANKSGIVING!
November 26, 2002
BLOG: Bill Simmons Leaves Home
Bill Simmons goes down memory lane as he says goodbye to that little town in Massachusetts he's called home the last 10 years.
I've been linked by another page - War Liberal. Welcome, strange bedfellow.
November 13, 2002
November 11, 2002
Blog will be quieter as my work schedule gets very busy the next few weeks. I'll try to post some thoughts, but I can't promise regular content. Plus, I'm overdue for another Projo column.
November 10, 2002
BLOG: BANNED IN NEW YORK
I just finally visited (on my home PC) Eric Raymond's "Armed and Dangerous" blog, which in the past I've clicked on from links at Instapundit, only to be told that my law firm's software bars me from visiting this site. This has never happened with any other blog. I'm still not sure exactly why, but I suppose I could guess.
November 09, 2002
BLOG: DON'T BUY THIS USED
I don't think this will be on my Christmas list . . . the part that says "I THINK . . . THAT THIS ITEM WAS USED" is enough for me.
November 08, 2002
This picture should warm the hearts of gun enthusiasts . .
November 04, 2002
BLOG: To Blog or Not To Blog
Stuart Buck isn't sure he can find time to blog in addition to his job as a lawyer. Amen, brother! I ask the same question myself. For now, I'm still blogging.
November 01, 2002
BLOG: Sports Guy News
Yes, our good friend Bill Simmons is trading in his Celtics season tickets for a Ralley Monkey headband and a Kareem jersey. Well, maybe not. Through the magic of the internet, he'll still be the LA-based Boston Sports Guy, just like I keep writing in Queens and publishing in Providence.
October 30, 2002
Want to know what's really popular on the net? GOOGLEFIGHT!
October 27, 2002
BLOG/BASEBALL: Busy . .
Been busy . . . lots to blog about. I'll get around to it all later in the week. One thought: as so often happens with championship teams, how these Angels will be remembered will be heavily influenced by the future development of Francisco Rodriguez (a/k/a Danny Almonte) and John Lackey.
October 24, 2002
BLOG: ScrappleFace On MSNBC vs. LGF
ScrappleFace has the real dirt on why MSNBC doesn't owe Charles Johnson an apology.
POLITICS/WAR/BLOG: Random Blog Goodies
Some random blog goodies:
Lawyer/Blogger Stuart Buck with the transcript of a FOX interview of liberal journalist Juan Williams, on why some in the African-American community see him as a "black conservative".
Economist/Blogger 'Jane Galt' on intellectual honesty in debates about the budget, Social Security and economics in general.
A link from Buck, on the Iraq-Oklahoma City investigation.
How To Argue on Usenet, from Brunching Shuttlecocks.
Posted by Baseball Crank at 09:02 AM | Blog | Politics 2002-03 | War 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
October 23, 2002
BLOG: Test of the Emergency Blogcast System
I've been having some posting problems - this is a test. In the meantime, police have warned me to be on the lookout for John David Stutz.
October 18, 2002
BLOG: Can This Internet Last?
Reading Andrew Sullivan's latest column on the economics of the internet made me wonder about sustainability. Today, internet sites work hand-in-glove with old media mostly because the audiences are separate: some people read Sullivan's work on the web, for example, and some people read it in the papers. The demographic figures he quotes only underline this. What happens when the web-reading public ages? Sure, the National Review model -- cross-sell a dead-tree magazine to people who get hooked on the web version -- will still work, but even that isn't as useful a model for general interest newspapers as for hard-core opinion mags. The Baseball Prospectus model will work too, because the daily in-season commentary and the data-laden annual book are naturally complementary. The Wall Street Journal can afford to give away its political opinions for free because its business is based on people buying the business news. ESPN.com works because sports on the web is no substitute for television, so the name brand recognition built by the web can't cannibalize the network. And so on: there are plenty of unique examples that will prosper.
A question: NR, for example, is a success because its ideological purity builds a fanatically devoted base of readers. Sullivan's quirkier, but he too has strong opinions that form an emotional bond with readers. Does this mean that the real winners on the net will be those with sufficiently clear points of view that they attract the like-minded - and the losers will be those who try to hew to the old media pretense of being 'objective'?
October 15, 2002
I am waaaaaay overdue to update the link list on the left side of the site. I've got to add more of the baseball blogs. Also among the blogs to add is one linking to this site: Howard Bashman's How Appealing, a blog focused on (mostly federal, I think) appeals courts. In addition to the usual suspects - Instapundit and Eugene Volokh are both law professors (another of the Volokhs is at Harvard Law School)-- other law blogs include Goldstein & Howe's Supreme Court blog - yes, this actually seems to be a firm-endorsed and operated-blog (I've had a few dealings with my firm's website, but I can't see an official firm blog in the near future) - which has some interesting stuff today on the dismissal of cert, previously granted, in a case raising class action jurisdictional issues, and the blog of another HLS grad, Stuart Buck.
I know, I know, too many lawyers with too many opinions. So sue us.
October 11, 2002
Swamped, utterly swamped at work this week - hence, no Projo column, little bloggage, and I haven't even gotten to see any of the LCS games (nothing worse than missing a good brawl, too). Yuck.
October 09, 2002
BLOG/WAR: Latest From Lileks
October 07, 2002
You may notice that my name is no longer at the top here . . . those of you who have followed my baseball columns over the years know who I am, and I don't intend this blog to be wholly anonymous. On the other hand, as long as I'm in the private practice of law, it's probably the better part of valor to keep a lower personal profile here. That's life.
September 30, 2002
BLOG/WAR: The Financial Center
If you haven't guessed yet, I'm facing another crisis-filled week at the office, and need to guard scarce free time for the playoffs. Result: very little bloggage this week. But I'll leave you with this: I was down at the World Financial Center for meetings this morning. The Winter Garden, the beautiful glass-roofed atrium between two of the Financial Center's towers that was crushed by falling debris, has been rebuilt and reopened. They had to fix the part with the bridge to the Trade Center, so it's now a big panoramic window on the construction site at "Ground Zero." I walked by some streets down there that I hadn't crossed since . . . well, if you're in the neighborhood, it doesn't take that much to bring it all back.
September 24, 2002
BLOG/BUSINESS: LOOK OUT NEXIS, STEP ASIDE YAHOO!
September 20, 2002
I got half the column in to Projo earlier this week, but it never got posted and I got sidetracked at work and didn't finish the second half, so the blog may be the only word for now.
September 18, 2002
BLOG: Quiet Period
There's much to blog about, from the revival of Jeromy Burnitz to the retirement of Patrick Ewing to the endgame of the propaganda war in Iraq, but I've just got to finish my long-overdue next Projo column, and with a busy week at work, writing time is in short supply. Expect the blog to go quiet most of the rest of this week.
September 15, 2002
More traffic comes in from a link by David Pinto over at his Baseball Musings blog. I'll add Pinto to the blogs on the left next time I'm doing a big update.
September 09, 2002
BLOG: Talk Like A Pirate
Dave Barry wrote a bizarre (even for him) column Saturday on "Talk Like A Pirate Day." It got me wondering: were there ever actual pirates who talked anything like this, used any expressions like "avast, ye mateys?" If so, how did they wind up talking like that? If not, where did the theatrical stereotype of 'pirate talk' come from? Without having read the book or studied the issue, I'm guessing Robert Louis Stevenson's "Treasure Island," but I could be wrong.
BLOG: For Your Reading Pleasure
As you may have noticed, I've started putting categories before each post. I know some of you come for the baseball stuff and some for the politics and war stuff, so this should make it easier to find the content you want.
September 06, 2002
BLOG: MY FIRST BIG-TIME LINK
It's always fun to get some recognition (and traffic - welcome to all the new visitors). Uber-blogger Andrew Sullivan links to my excerpt from the Second Bush-Gore debate.
BLOG: What's New
My latest column is up over at Projo, on why 2002 is The Year of The Bullpen.
Busy day today at home and at work, so the blog will be pretty quiet for the rest of the day unless I see something that demands a quick link.
September 05, 2002
Kilroy was here.
It's official: I'm the Marv Levy of WhatIfSports. Season after season, the best record in the league, 100+ wins . . . and a flameout in the playoffs. Damn.
August 31, 2002
BLOG: Bad Neighbors
A friend sent me this link a while back - it's a pretty amusing story about a neighbor from hell.
August 29, 2002
This article speaks volumes about how economists think, but this guy obviously does not live in Manhattan if he thinks people don't walk, and walk fast, up (and down) escalators.
August 28, 2002
WAR/BLOG: 'Very Smart Inactivist'
I'm obviously still at the stage of just dropping some archival and random stuff in here while I figure out whether there's time in my schedule to blog. Here's one of my little scraps of broader publicity: an email I sent to Jonah Goldberg that got posted in The Corner on the National Review Online.
August 22, 2002
BLOG: Here We Go
It's The Baseball Crank's blog! Will it work? I'm not making any promises about the regularity of content at this site, but this medium is too good to pass up. Some of you may know my work from Bill Simmons' "Boston Sports Guy" website, where I got my start as an internet pundit on things baseball, or from my allegedly weekly column (barely monthly, these days) at the Providence Journal's website (which, sadly, is now registration-only, although it's still free). Some may also know me from the Baseball Primer website, where I participate in posts every once and a while and where my article on the simple solution to baseball's competitive balance issues appeared. If I can find the time, I'm hoping to make this site a place for posting those of my short thoughts on baseball, politics and anything else that I deem web-worthy. Thanks for stopping by.
September 13, 2001
WHY BASEBALL STILL MATTERS: My September 11 Story
On Tuesday, they tried to kill me.
I am ordinarily at my desk between 7:30 and 8:30 in the morning, in my office on the 54th floor of one of the World Trade Center’s towers. Tuesday, I was running late – I stopped to vote in the primary election for mayor, an election that has now been postponed indefinitely. Thank God for petty partisan politics.
Around 20 minutes to 9, as I have done every day for the past five years, I got on the number 2/3 train heading to Park Place, an underground stop roughly a block and a half, connected underground, to the Trade Center. The train made its usual stop at Chambers Street, five blocks north of my office, where you can switch to the local 1/9 that runs directly into the Trade Center mall. The subway announcer – in a rare, audible announcement – was telling people to stay on the 2/3 because the tunnel was blocked by a train ahead of us. Then he mentioned that there had been “an explosion at the World Trade Center.”
Now, I grew up in the suburbs, so maybe I’m not as street smart as I should be, but after living in the city a few years, you develop a sense of the signs of trouble (like the time there were shots fired in the next subway car from mine). I didn’t know what the explosion was, maybe a gas leak or something, but I knew that I was better off getting above ground to see what was going on rather than enter the complex underground. So I got off the train to walk to work.
When I got above ground, there was a crowd gathering to see the horror above: a big hole somewhere in the top 15-20 stories of the north tower (having no sense of direction, I thought that was Number 2 at the time, not Number 1 where my office was), with flames and smoke shooting out. I quickly realized it would not be safe to go into the office, despite a number of things I had waiting for me to do, so as I heard the chatter around about there having been a plane crash into the building (onlookers were saying “a small plane” at that point) and a possible terrorist attack, I turned away to start looking for a place to get coffee and read the newspaper until I could find out what had happened. That was when it happened.
The sound was a large BANG!, the unmistakable sound of an explosion but with almost the tone of cars colliding, except much louder. My initial thought was that something had exploded out of the cavity atop the tower closer to us and gone . . . where? It was followed by a scene straight out of every bad TV movie and Japanese monster flick: simultaneously, everyone around me was screaming and running away. I didn’t have time to look and see what I was running from; I just took off, hoping to get away from whatever it was, in case it was falling towards us. Nothing else can compare to the adrenaline rush of feeling the imminent presence of deadly danger. And I kept moving north.
Once people said that a second plane had hit the other tower, and I saw it was around halfway up – right where my office was, I thought, still confused about which tower was which – it also appeared that the towers had survived the assault. I used to joke about this, telling people we worked in the only office building in America that had been proven to be bomb-resistant. I stopped now and then, first at a pay phone where I called my family, but couldn’t hear the other end. I stopped in a few bars, calling to say I was OK, but I still didn’t feel safe, and I kept moving north. In one bar I saw the south tower collapse, and had a sick feeling in my stomach, which increased exponentially when I saw Tower Number One, with my office in it and (so far as I knew) many of the people I work with as well, cave in. Official business hours start at 9:30, but I started reeling off in my head all the lawyers who get in early in the morning, and have for years. I thought of the guy who cleans the coffee machines, someone I barely speak to but see every day, who has to be in at that hour. I was still nervous, and decided not to think about anything but getting out alive. A friend has an apartment on 109th street, so I called him and kept walking, arriving on his doorstep around 1 p.m., and finally sat down, with my briefcase, the last remnant of my office. I had carried a bunch of newspapers and my brown-bag lunch more than 120 blocks. The TV was on, but only CBS was broadcasting – everyone else’s signal had gone out of the Trade Center’s antenna.
Finally, the news got better. I jumped when there were planes overhead, but they were F-15s, ours. American combat aircraft flying with deadly seriousness over Manhattan. My wife was home, and she had heard from people at the office who got out alive. It turns out that my law firm was extraordinarily lucky to get so many people out – nearly everyone is now accounted for, although you hold your breath and pray until it’s absolutely everyone. The architect who designed the towers – well, we used to complain a lot that the windows were too narrow, but the strength of those buildings, how they stayed standing for an hour and an hour and a half, respectively, after taking a direct hit by a plane full of gasoline – there are probably 10 to 15,000 people walking around New York today because they stayed up so long.
By Wednesday night, the adrenaline was finally wearing off, and I was just angry. They had tried to kill me, had nearly killed many of the people I work with, and destroyed the chair I sit in everyday, the desk I work at and the computer I do my work on. And that’s before you even begin to count the other lives lost. Words fail to capture the mourning, and in this area it’s everywhere. I finally broke down Thursday morning, reading newspaper accounts of all the firemen who were missing or dead, so many who had survived so many dangers before, and ran headlong into something far more serious, far more intentional. My dad was a cop, my uncle a fireman. It was too close.
The mind starts to grasp onto the little things, photos of the kids and from my wedding; the radio in my office that I listened to so many Mets games on, working late; a copy of my picture with Ted Williams (more on that some other day); the little Shea Stadium tin on my desk that played “take me out to the ballgame” when you opened it to get a binder clip, the new calculator I bought over the weekend. All vaporized or strewn halfway across the harbor. The things can mostly be replaced, they’re just things, but it’s staggering to see the whole context of your daily routine disappear because somebody – not “faceless cowards,” really, but somebody in particular with a particular agenda and particular friends around the world– wants you dead.
There’s a scene that comes to mind, and I’m placing it in the Lord of the Rings because that’s where I remember it, but feel free to let me know if I’ve mangled it or made it up. Frodo the hobbit has lived all his life in the Shire, where the world of hobbits (short, human-like creatures) revolves around hospitality and particular etiquette and family snobbery and all the silliest little things, silly at least in comparison to the great and dangerous adventure he finds himself embarked on. Aragorn, one of the Men, has been patrolling the area around the Shire for years, warding off invading creatures of all varieties of evil. Frodo asks Aragorn, eventually, whether he isn’t frustrated with and contemptuous of hobbits and the small, simple concerns that dominate their existence, when such dangers are all at hand. Aragorn responds that, to the contrary, it is the simpleness and even the pettiness of the hobbits that makes the task worthwhile, because it’s proof that he has done his job – kept them so safe and insulated from the horrors all around them that they see no irony, no embarrassment in concerning themselves with such trivial things in such a hazardous world. It has often struck me that you could ask no better description of the role of law enforcement and the military, keeping us so safe that we may while our days on the ups and downs of made-up games.
And that’s why baseball still matters. There must be time for mourning, of course, so much mourning, and time as well to feel secure that 55,000 people can gather safely in one place. The merciful thing is that because, save for the Super Bowl and the Olympics, U.S. sports are so little followed in the places these evildoers breed – murderous men, by contrast, have little interest in pennant races – that they have not acquired the symbolic power of our financial and military centers. But that may not be forever.
But once we feel secure to try, we owe it most of all to those who protect us as well as those who died to resume the most trivial of our pursuits. Our freedom is best expressed not when we stand in defiance or strike back with collective will, but when we are able again to view Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens as the yardsticks by which we measure nastiness, to bicker over games. That’s why the Baseball Crank will be back. This column may be on hiatus for an undetermined time while the demands of work intrude – we intend to be back in business next week, and this will not be without considerable effort – but in time, I will offer again my opinion of why it would be positively criminal to give Ichiro the MVP, and why it is scandalous that Bill Mazeroski is in the Hall of Fame. And then I’ll be free again.
Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:00 PM | Baseball Columns | Blog | War 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)