"It gets late early around here." - Yogi Berra
October 31, 2002
POP CULTURE: Newhart
CNN and MSNBC have pieces on the brillance of Bob Newhart, the white-collar standup comic, on the occasion of his receiving an award. My mom had the old records with Newhart's standup routines, and as good as his sitcoms were, if you never heard his standup act, you missed a lot. What was really revolutionary about Newhart's act was his ability to create an act with no funnyman, just a straight man.
WAR: The Sky Is Falling!
I tell you, the American Islamic community's self-appointed spokesmen have really perfected their cry of wolf. (Link via Little Green Footballs)
WAR: Qatari Trouble
How did I miss this story (another one from the Instaman) about a coup attempt in Qatar?
BASKETBALL/LAW: Jayson Williams in Hot Water
I haven't been following the story that closely, but this certainly puts the case against Jayson Williams in a different light.
Bury Muslim terrorists in pig skin? Personally, I've been in favor of this for some time. There's plenty to question in Russia's war with Chechnya; there's fair grounds for debate over the wisdom of using gas that proved fatal to many of the hostages; there's serious room for questioning why the Russians had such easy access to what may have been a banned chemical; and there's no defending Moscow's refusal to give timely, accurate information about the gas to doctors responding to treat the hostages. But I can't fault Putin for preferring a raid and the slaughter of the hostage takers over concessions, and I've been in favor of this type of anti-"martyrdom" burial practice for some time. The Israelis have done this sometimes, as well. Those who sow savagery deserve to fear what they may reap.
BASEBALL: Chicken, or Egg?
Rob Neyer notes that good major league managers who managed in the minors generally had winning records there, but that it's meaningless because guys who lose in the minors never get a chance in the majors, plus good organizations produce good players at both levels. Nonetheless, especially in modern times, the unpredictability of minor league managing, given the massive roster turnover, is a steep hurdle, and you have to think highly of anyone who's able to clear it repeatedly.
POLITICS: Failing To Fog The Mirror
It was completely official that the Carl McCall campaign was toast when even the New York Times endorsed Pataki. What's sad is that McCall's trouncing may be taken in some quarters as evidence of the folly of an African-American candidate who, to his credit, has refused to play the race card, who made his name in statewide office rather than narrowcasting to a carefully gerrymandered legislative district, and has always run essentially as a moderate (Pataki's ads in the city have bashed McCall for being insufficiently liberal).
POLITICS: Unbecoming A Macho Man
I'm on a roll with second-hand links here - this last-minute attempt by Shannon O'Brien to make Mitt Romney out as some sort of a he-man, woman-hating bully for his use of what frankly amounts to some prissy, bookish grammar is both ridiculous and contemptible.
POLITICS: More Mondale, Please
Instapundit picked this one up: The New Republic reminds us that there's nothing in the world the GOP could have asked for, in its wildest dreams, more useful than having the Democratic party rally around Walter Mondale as a party leader a week before the election.
BASEBALL: To Be Fair
There are some writers who just have a predetermined theory, and want to fit all the facts into it. Example: there are a lot of fans, especially stat-head types who read sportswriters with a critical eye, who love to argue that various players get treated unfairly by the media for no other reason than that they are not nice to reporters. This. I submit, is true. Barry Bonds is a great player, he's mean to reporters, and reporters hate him, so believers in this particular theory often cite him as Exhibit A of a man whose reputation has been sullied for no good reason just because he won't suck up to reporters.
That just ain't the truth, as I've argued repeatedly; I won't recount all the history here, but there is loads of evidence that Bonds is a jerk who is justly loathed by teammates, opponents, and fans, for many reasons having nothing to do with his quotability. People who think that this argument is true of Bonds just because it's true of, say, Eddie Murray, aren't paying attention. They're just repeating slogans as a substitute for thought.
That said, even Bonds deserves to be treated fairly by the media for what he is, and Jonah Keri at the Baseball Prospectus catches the weaselly Rick Reilly and the sleazelly Bob Klapisch doing a completely unethical hack job on Bonds by taking a menacing quote and removing its critical context, which is that reporters after Game 7 were pressing in too hard on Bonds' son.
WAR: Kramer Does It Again
Check out the October 28 entry on Martin Kramer's Middle East blog. Priceless.
POP CULTURE/LAW: Girls Club
The Washington Post with a good roundup of the faults and bad reviews of the late, unlamented 'girls club'. All I saw were the ads and reviews - from the ratings, I gather I was not alone in this - but among the show's numerous flaws were its Lifetime-network-ish assumption that nothing in the least has changed in the way women lawyers are treated at work (in San Francisco, no less) since the Fifties, and its equally absurd presumption that a successful law firm would be sending first-year associates out, without training, no less, to do things like the opening statement of a murder trial. What planet did David E. Kelley practice law on?
WAR/POLITICS: PJ O'Rourke Interview
PJ O'Rourke, interviewed in the Atlantic: "one finds, especially by the time one reaches one's fifties, that there are a limited number of types of people in the world, and you went to high school with every single one of them. You can visit the Eskimos, you can visit the Bushmen in the Kalahari, you can go to Israel, you can go to Egypt, but everybody you meet is going to be somebody you went to high school with."
O'Rourke also has some provocative observations about conservatism and humor:
"Libertarianism is a way of measuring how the government and other kinds of systems respect the individual. At the core of libertarianism is the idea that the individual is sacrosanct and that anything that's done contrary to the well-being of the individual needs some pretty serious justification. The burden of proof should always be on people who want to restrict the individual's liberty and responsibility."
"That's different from conservatism. In its worse forms, conservatism is a matter of "I hate strangers and anything that's different." But in its better forms, conservatism simply says that the structures of society, both civil and political, religious and so on, are the result of a long series of trial-and-error experiments by millions of human beings, not only all over the world, but through time. And that you should toss out received wisdom only very carefully. Obviously there are some ideas that were around for centuries that were not good (slavery comes to mind). But when people have been doing something for a millennium or two, there is probably a reason. And you better be pretty careful before you just throw it out."
Do you find that conservative humorists have a different humorous sensibility than liberal ones?
"Well, I don't know about that. I think that all humorists are essentially conservative, because humorists depend for a lot of their jokes on getting the reader or viewer or listener to laugh at things that are outlandish and strange. The audience is not laughing at things that are familiar or, as we may say, "conservative." The ridicule of the new and the odd is at the root of all humor, so in a way, even the most left-wing humorist is a conservative. Christopher Hitchens when he's being funny is an example of that."
O'Rourke's observation underlines why I, like most post-Reagan 'conservatives', am probably more libertarian than conservative, more apt to look at longstanding practices and ask why they can't be replaced with something that gives more autonomy to individuals and less control to government. As I've emphasized before, though, most people of my leanings continue to shy away from identifying with libertarianism because (1) in its doctrinal form, libertarianism doesn't just prefer individual autonomy to tradition; it raises individual autonomy to the kind of value that can almost never be outweighed by anything else; and (2) conservatism is much more respectful of religion and morality, which are the essential building blocks of a civil society.
Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:29 AM | Politics 2002-03 | War 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
RELIGION/WAR: Are The Islamists Idolators?
Disturbing article in the latest National Review about the appointment, as supreme court justice for Afghanistan, of a believer in sharia law who pronounces his intention to impose Islamic law including outlawing other faiths. I'm reading it, and it hits me: maybe I just don't understand Islam well enough, but to my ears, the whole sharia-courts phenomenon thoughout Islamist societies seems to be blasphemous and idolatrous by its very nature. Consider:
+The sharia courts purport to speak with the Voice of God, and to pronounce, not fallible human interpretations of God's will, but God's judgments themselves. Nor is this a carefully circumscribed authority, like the rare occasions when the Pope speaks ex cathedra; they do this stuff every day.
+More importantly, the sharia courts arrogate to themselves the sole and unchecked authority to carry out God's judgments. Death or multilation can be and often is the penalty if a sharia court judges that an individual has transgressed the court's view of God's laws.
+Individuals can be charged with, and beheaded for, blasphemy just for questioning the sharia court's authority.
Can somebody who knows more about Islam explain to me how this arrangement doesn't effectively set up the sharia court itself as the object of worship, obedience and devotion, under the harshest of penalties, and in substitution for the devotion of invidual conscience directly to divine authority?
WAR: Slogan's Heroes
Maureen Dowd says the policy of Don Rumsfeld and his Pentagon staff -- the focus of her obsession (the girl who cried 'Wolfowitz') -- "can be summarized: 'We're No. 1. We like it that way. And we're going to keep it that way.'"
Hey, I like the sound of that. It fits on a bumpersticker and everything. . .
October 30, 2002
BASKETBALL: Sports Guy Loves This Game
I haven't linked to him that much, actually, but of course you can't start the basketball season without reading Bill Simmons' previews. The Eastern Conference Preview is here, the Western Conference Preview is here (Simmons always does the East first so he can save his Finals prediction for the second column). Simmons on Joe Johnson of the Suns: "I watched him in Boston for 50 games. Intently. And he doesn't have it. I can spot three things in life -- toupees, fake breasts and NBA players who drift during games. And he's a drifter. Considering that the Suns need him to make The Leap, that doesn't bode too well for their playoff hopes."
POLITICS: Your Heart Is Full of Unwashed Socks
While we're lingering on the ugly side of the Left, Jonah Goldberg is peering deep into the darkness of the soul of the Democratic Party, specifically the memorial service for Paul Wellstone, and is horrified by what (and who) he sees:
"Like some perverse "Where's Waldo" drawing, wherever large groups of Democrats congregate, you know if you can find Bill Clinton in the picture they will behave like jackasses . . that rally . . . shamelessly used Wellstone's death for partisan advantage while its organizers cynically accused their opponents of doing precisely that. Blaming others for something awful you've done is perhaps the defining attribute of Bill Clinton and his legacy on the Democratic party. Wellstone did many good things out of principle — including work with Jesse Helms, a man he grew to befriend, on human rights in China. But he will now be invoked by Democrats everywhere simply to get out the vote, beat up Republicans, and raise millions of dollars in campaign contributions.
In short, so long as they hold onto the Senate, the Clinton Democrats — who often found Wellstone's principles inconvenient — will find him more useful dead than alive. They will rewrite the story of his life to fit any cause they choose — much as they have done with other Democratic martyrs like John and Robert Kennedy (a Cold War anti-Communist and the attorney general who personally authorized the bugging of Martin Luther King, respectively). Wellstone's distinctiveness and honesty will melt in a warm pool of mass-marketed nostalgia. And, if Republicans complain, Democrats will simply charge insensitivity and laugh all the way to the bank."
POLITICS: The Art of the Smear
Instapundit had a link to this story, but Glenn Reynolds' tag line didn't nearly do justice to Harry Stein's saga of how a Dallas newspaper deliberately and very falsely smeared him as a racist, apparently in an attempt to sandbag a potential nominee to be Federal Reserve chairman. The story captures perfectly the iron triangle of (1) a single audience member determined, possibly in advance, to take offense at Stein's talk; (2) reporters willing to be taken in by the claim; and (3) Democratic politicians looking to make hay on their absolute favorite topic. This is the kind of story that makes me so mad I can't even see straight; Stein's good name is trashed with the most malicious of intentions and for the basest of purposes, and he is left with utterly no recourse but to try to tell the whole story in all its length and nuance. Rod Dreher on NRO linked to this blog post reflecting on a similar story, about protestors determined to shut down truthful discussions of Islamic regimes' treatment of Christians and Jews. The truth, sadly, does not always set us free.
BASEBALL: Muserous Intentions
The irresistable force and the immovable object: baseballjunkie.net reports that the Mariners are considering handing over their superb bullpen (and the rest of the team) to Tony Muser.
Want to know what's really popular on the net? GOOGLEFIGHT!
POLITICS: Beyond Bizarre
Andrew Sullivan and Rand Simberg point out that Ted Rall and Buffalo State College "journalism and media studies" professor Michael Niman need the tinfoil in their hats changed again.
Sullivan aptly catches the parallel to Vince-Foster-was-murdered theories in the paranoid Left's wish to charge George W. Bush with murdering Paul Wellstone. (James Taranto at Best of the Web Today also jumped on Niman's column yesterday).
Just a few funny ones: Rall: "spending a decade's worth of savings in six months . . . A man capable of these things seems, by definition, capable of anything" Gee, Ted, whaddya think of Gray Davis? Actually Rall probably thinks he's a right-wing nut case. Rall also cites, as evidence of Republican depravity, claims that "GOP workers phoned senior citizens to tell them that Wellstone was plotting to take away their Social Security." Of course, no Democrat would ever, ever suggest that an opponent intended to take away anyone's Social Security . . .
Besides, anyone can play this game. When John Heinz died in a plane crash, the Democrats gained a Senate seat, and the Republicans lost a family fortune that may some time soon bankroll John Kerry's presidential campaign. When Paul Coverdell died suddenly and without warning, the Democrats gained a Senate seat. When Mel Carnahan, who was trailing in the polls, died in a plane crash, the Democrats gained a Senate seat (note how Rall describes Carnahan's opponent as "future Bush Attorney General John Ashcroft" - as if anyone knew that in October 2000, and as if Ashcroft would have become the AG if he had won re-election). Now, a Democrat is endangered, and just as he appears to be momentarily ahead in the polls, he dies in a plane crash so the Dems can run a party veteran on his memory.
In other words, motive in politics is a two-way street, and using motive alone to make charges of murder is, to put it mildly, irresponsible. What's really insane is that my taxes pay Niman's salary, and that respectable journalistic organizations pay Rall's. Forget the outrageousness - the quality of this kind of stuff just isn't fit for the National Enquirer, let alone a major newspaper or university.
WAR: Pipes on Sniper
Daniel Pipes says that the media has been too quick to turn a blind eye to the possibility that John Muhammad was motivated by Islamist ideology:
"Islamists in Pakistan, reports Arnaud de Borchgrave, expect that 'in the next 10 years, Americans will wake up to the existence of an Islamic army in their midst - an army of jihadis who will force America to abandon imperialism and listen to the voice of Allah.'"
BASEBALL: 2002-03 Free Agents
Here's your 2002-2003 free agents - get 'em while they're hot!
BASEBALL: Paging Dr. Mike
I'm still not sure what to make of it - genius? quack? both? - but the Mike Marshall interview on pitchers' workloads on Baseball Prospectus is definitely a must-read for anyone interested in the topic. Here's part one and part two.
LAW: OH, THE HUMANITY!
Dahlia Lithwick of Slate captures some of the ironies of the now-infamous Clifford Chance memo. (The New York Law Journal also captures the real bad news in the memo, from the perspective of big-law-firm managing partners). Of course, Lithwick herself is not innocent of griping about (spare us!) the tedium of being an internet legal pundit, where one never has to set foot in a courtroom with fewer than nine judges in it. (Any litigator who follows the Supreme Court could have told her that the real drama of First Monday in October is the cert granted/cert denied lists).
October 29, 2002
LAW: A Word In Favor Of The Billable Hour
The NY Times calls out the usual parade of horribles to denounce the billable hour. I'm no fan of the billable hour, to be sure, but critics invariably lose most of their steam once they try to come up with a workable alternative. Clients pay the bills, and for large law firms engaged in defending civil litigation or in many types of corporate transactions, clients have generally preferred to have the bills determined on the basis of hourly rates. In areas like bankruptcy, it's the courts themselves that often determine the bills, and they do it by the hour. There are intermiediate steps that can be taken to help clients keep a watchful eye, like the ABA's task-based billing codes that some clients prefer. None of this excuses the egregious cases of fraud, like people billing 44 hour days, but at the end of the day, as long as clients are reviewing the bills and are happy with what they are paying for what they are getting in return, the billable hour system will endure.
BASKETBALL: Same To You Buddy
And the same goes double for the Knicks. Yuck.
POLITICS: 1787 in the EU
A new proposed EU constitution! With a President, federalism, common citizenship, and a common bill of rights, all under the title "United Europe"! Stop me if this sounds familiar. "Valery Giscard d'Estaing, president of the convention on the future of the EU, compared the draft constitution to the work done by the founding fathers of the US." Haven't we been led to believe that the French consider that an insult?
POLITICS: Use It Or Lose It
Dick Morris says Bush is losing popularity because he looks less Presidential when he's campaigning rather than stumping for war. His solution: stop campaigning! But this ignores the point of why his popularity matters right now: because there's an election around the corner. Bush can hoard his high ratings, or risk some of his more ephemeral support to get the Congress he needs.
Besides, the fair-weather Bush supporters - the hard-core Democrats who nonetheless back the President on the war - will come back when the war in Iraq starts, because their support is all about the war on terror. That is when he will need those people - they aren't going to vote for Republican congressional candidates in great numbers anyway, but they will keep the heat on poll-watching Congressional Democrats to support the war effort, and they may yet vote Bush in 2004.
POLITICS/POP CULTURE: Rampaging Lileks
You hate to link to the same people every day, but I laughed so hard at Lileks' Bleat this morning I almost fell off my chair. He takes on the Pet Shop Boys, Avril Lavigne, and Walter Mondale, and likes only one of the three. A taste of his observations on Mondale: "I was a hardcore Democrat [in 1984], and I remember watching the [convention] speech and thinking: we are going to lose. We are going to lose 51 states. Puerto Rico will demand statehood just for the chance not to vote for this guy. . . [Now] I just feel sorry for the guy. If he wins, he has to leave home, leave his family, leave his nice job, and go back to the ossuary of the Senate for six years. One night he’ll find himself staring at the lovely ceiling, listening to Robert Byrd drone on - for heaven’s sake he was talking when I left and twenty years later he still hasn’t shut up . . ."
Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:38 AM | Politics 2002-03 | Pop Culture | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Just The Dregs
This is the Mets in a nutshell:
Divide the team into two groups - "guys you should trade", and "guys you should keep."
The "guys you should trade" are all under contract for many more years at gobs of money.
The "guys you should keep" are all free agents.
Bravo, Steve Phillips!
WAR: News Flash
In an ideal world, the war on terror would end with a lead headline like this one.
October 28, 2002
WAR/LAW: American Lawyer Killed In Bali; CCRW Memo
An American-born lawyer - a former Nebraska football player working in Hong Kong for the international firm of Clifford Chance (formerly Clifford Chance Rogers & Wells) - is among those confirmed dead in the bombing in Bali. He was reportedly planning to leave the globe-trotting law business for a job back home with his family in Kansas.
Turning to something completely different, but also on the subject of Clifford Chance . . . well, as a big-firm associate at one of the firm's sometime competitors, I'll just pass on without further comment the link to this New York Law Journal story as a sample of the blizzard of bad press coming from the leaking of this internal memo by associates unhappy with the firm's billable hour targets and a host of other issues.
POLITICS: Sinking Manhattan
(You didn't think I'd call this a post about "Science," did you): Greenpeace predicts Manhattan will be underwater by 2080.
BASEBALL: FALLEN ANGEL (FAN)
BASEBALL: Goodwin Now Batting
There have to be some experiences in the game of baseball more humiliating than being lifted in the seventh game of the World Series for Tom Goodwin to pinch hit for you, but not many.
POLITICS: Fraudulent Statistics
Starting at this post and scrolling down, Ombudsgod has a good series of posts on inflated statistics about sexual assault, domestic violence and related topics. These are real problems, but it is always frightening to see the need implied in these types of fraudulent statistics -- the need to shock, the need to insist that these are the biggest, the worst problems. It's the one-upmanship (one-up-personship?) of the agenda of victimization at work, in which it is not only important to show that a problem exists and must be addressed, but that the problem is so vast that it calls for a thorough uprooting of the whole society. There's also, I think, another dynamic at work: the statistics are intentionally inflated because their proponents want people to dispute them, so that they can invoke wedge-issue rhetoric about how their voices are being ignored, how this is just like ancient rules about disbelieving women who cry "Rape," etc. Stuff like this shouldn't bother me this much, but it does. It's also why I love my job: one of the great joys of being a litigator is having the tools at your disposal to confront and puncture untruths, one at a time.
Two things caught my eye in the flashbacks shown in the pregame coverage of Game 7. First, how unbelievably hokey the uniforms, the ballpark, and everything else looked in the coverage of the 1979 series. If you'd told me this was minor league footage, I might have believed you. Two, like an unexpected apparition, the scene of the 1985 "I-70 Series" between the Royals and Cardinals featured the teams meeting before the game with Missouri's then-governor . . . John Ashcroft.
BASEBALL: From 41 Games Back
One of the really staggering figures last night was when Joe Buck noted that the Angels had finished 41 games out of first place last season. Here's my quick survey of teams finishing 20 or more games out of first place the year before winning the World Series:
1953 Giants -- 35 games behind Dodgers
You'll notice that most of the teams at the top of the list were not only mediocre to bad, but they also trailed behind great teams.
BASEBALL: Winn Some Lose Some
BASEBALL: Barry Bonds' Legacy
Now, Barry Bonds won't be remembered as the guy who never hit in October, never played in the World Series. He will instead be lumped in the company of the two guys he resembles most, in his own way -- Ted Williams and Ty Cobb -- as guys who never won it all. Sure, maybe the Giants get back there, but I doubt it. The age on this team, the likely departure of Kent, the injuries that are likely to gradually drag Bonds down . . . we all knew this was his chance.
Unless he winds up with the Yankees, of course.
I'm still stunned that the Indians may make Eric Wedge their manager. If you'd asked me two weeks ago, I would've said Wedge was still playing in the minors.
POLITICS: Noonan on Wellstone
Peggy Noonan didn't know Paul Wellstone, but nonetheless has one of the better eulogies for the college professor who became the kind of Senator that most college professors would like to be.
POLITICS: Bob Novak's Saturday Column
Bob Novak's Saturday column, with more goodies including a replacement Senator in Alaska and more on the Louisiana Senate race and the prospects for a runoff.
BASEBALL: Livan Hernandez
Livan Hernandez became the fourth pitcher with a losing record to start Game 7 of the World Series. The others: John Matlack, a good pitcher stuck with a 14-16 record by a bad offensive Mets team in 1973; Johnny Podres, famously, 9-10 in 1955; and the most puzzling of all, Hal Gregg, 4-5 with a 5.87 ERA for the Dodgers in 1947, which appears to have been the result of incredibly bad management of the staff to leave no one else available to start the deciding game, but also the fact that Gregg had been virtually the only effective Dodgers pitcher in the series, with the exception of relief ace Hugh Casey. Five other guys were close: John Smoltz was 14-13 in 1991; Joe Magrane was 9-7 in 1987; Jack Billingham was 12-12 in 1972; Curly Ogden was 9-8 in 1924; Bill Donovan was 8-7 in 1909.
POLITICS: Wellstone's Legacy
Time to get down to the callous business of figuring out where the Minnesota Senate race goes after Wellstone . . . Lileks (a Minnesotan) has a lengthy explanation of why it's proper to remember the man well (I'm not excerpting it; go read for yourself) but is cold and withering in his assessment of the Democrats:
"If it’s Mondale as a replacement, it ought to make Wellstone’s supporters scowl a bit. The true heir to Wellstone’s policies would be the Green candidate - but oddly enough, none of his supporters are suggesting that anyone vote for that fellow. Policies are one thing; power is quite another. The objective is not to carry the Wellstone torch for the next six years. The objective is control of the Senate. The Wellstone legacy turns out to be no more than a seat marked D."
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.
Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:45 PM | Baseball 2002-03 | Blog 2002-05 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
October 25, 2002
BASEBALL: Projo column is up
Where were you when Cal Ripken broke the consecutive games record? You don't remember, do you? Did you even watch the game? I didn't. Sure, it was interesting at the time, but a moment you will remember forever? If you're keeping score at home, Major League Baseball's fan voting produced this Top Ten List:
The Top 10 Most Memorable Moments (as voted by fans):
1. 1995 - Cal Ripken breaks Lou Gehrig's streak with his 2,131st consecutive game.
The two lists, totaling 40 'moments,' present an inviting target, although
Anyway, the inclusion of Clemente and Ichiro, coming alongside the late-season phenomenon of Francisco Rodriguez, brought to mind another of baseball's truly phenomenal runs, and one that is maybe not as well-remembered as I would have thought at the time: Fernandomania!
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Look back at the statistics from Fernando Valenzuela's rookie season, when he won both the Rookie of the Year and Cy Young Awards and was fifth in the MVP voting, and you'll see a very good pitcher in a strike-shortened season; but if you're not old enough to remember 1981, you may wonder what the fuss was about. In 25 starts, Valenzuela went 13-7 with a 2.48 ERA, good for second in the league in wins and seventh in ERA, although he did lead the league in innings (192.1) and strikeouts (180).
But one number hints at the real story: 8 complete-game shutouts. In 25 starts.
In 1980, Fernando, then "19" years old (my mom thought he was 40 when she first saw him), came up at the end of a season when the Dodgers were in an insanely tight pennant race, one that ended with a 1-game playoff, which the Dodgers lost to the Astros. He made his debut on September 15, and pitched so well that Tommy Lasorda used him 10 times in relief down the stretch, 6 of them for 2 innings or more. Over the season's last nine games, including the playoff, Fernando pitched 6 times, throwing 10 scoreless innings, finishing four games - including two wins and a save - striking out 9 while allowing four hits. He pitched 2 innings in the last scheduled game of the season against the Astros (the Dodgers won to force the playoff, with Don Sutton making one of just 4 relief appearances he would make between 1969 and 1988 to get the save), and 2 more in the playoff. The final numbers: 10 games, 0.00 ERA, 17.2 IP, 8 hits, 5 walks, 16 K. 16 straight scoreless innings after allowing 2 unearned runs in his debut.
In 1981, the Dodgers decided to put the Mexican phenom in the rotation and let Sutton and his 230 career victories walk as a free agent. To the Astros, no less. Lasorda turned up the heat and the hype even further by naming the rookie to start Opening Day at home against Houston and Joe Neikro.
He threw a 5-hit shutout, and won 2-0. In his second start, Fernando tossed another complete game victory at Candlestick, striking out 10 Giants and allowing just a run on 4 hits. In his third start, another 2-0 victory, a 5-hit, no-walk, 10-K blanking of the Padres in San Diego. Oh, and he went 2-for-4 at the plate. Start #4 was on to the Astrodome to face the defending division champs again; Fernando went the distance on a 1-0 victory, striking out 11, and added two hits and the game's only RBI for good measure. Start #5 was back home against the Giants, and another complete game shutout; Fernando also had 3 hits and drove in the go-ahead run. In Start #6, in Montreal, Fernando went 9 innings again, allowing one run, and left with the game tied 1-1; the Dodgers scored 5 in the tenth for another victory. I first saw him that season in Start #7, matched up at Shea against Mike Scott, who pitched what looked (until 1986) like the best game he'd ever throw; the Dodgers got just a single run off Scott, but Fernando went the distance yet again, winning 1-0. Here's his record at that point:
1981: 7-0, 0.29 ERA, 7 starts, 7 CG, 5 shutouts, 63 IP, 40 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 HR, 16 BB, 61 K. On the season, he was also hitting .318.
Career: 9-0, 0.22 ERA, 80.2 IP, 48 H, 4 R, 2 ER, 0 HR, 21 BB, 77 K.
He had already posted scoreless inning streaks of 35.2 innings AND 32.2 innings - in a career spanning just over 80 innings of work. He had beaten mostly good teams, and he had come out ahead in an exceptional run of close,
In his next start, Fernando went the distance on a 3-hitter for a 3-2 nail-biter against the then-mighty Expos, scattering a pair of solo homers, the first two of his career, to go 8-0. This raised the Dodgers' record to 23-9 and their division lead to 5.5 games; by Fernando's next start, they were 26-9, and only the Big Red Machine, in its last hurrah, was within 7 games of them.
The effect of all this was electrifying. Fernando was everywhere, and between the shutouts and the hitting and his eccentric, roll-the-eyes-to-heaven delivery, he was being compared to a cross between Sandy Koufax, Babe Ruth and Mark Fidrych. His first home start after the three straight victories on the road drew more than 49,000 fans to a Monday night game at Dodger Stadium, followed by a crowd of over 46,000 in Montreal (granted, between 1979 and 1983, the Expos were never lower than fourth in the league in attendance), almost 40,000 for a Friday night game against a dismal Mets team, 53,000 for a Thursday night game in LA, and 52,000 for a Monday night game in LA against the Phillies. Not all of his starts were packed, and attendance would be off later in the year following the strike, but there was no question that, especially among LA's huge Mexican-American population, Fernando was a big draw.
You may think of Clemente and Juan Marichal as the trailblazers for Latin American ballplayers - you could even go back as far as Dolf Luque, the "Pride of Havana," in the 1920s - but those guys blazed it with little company. It was Fernando more than anybody who really represented the turning of the tide to Latin American players as commonplace in the game; more than that, it was the marketing potential tapped by Fernando that helped teams overcome the fear that Latino players wouldn't be popular.
Valenzuela cooled off eventually, with some rough outings in late May and early June, and by the end of May his batting average, as high as .360 at one point, fell below .300. He would have some more spectacular successes late in the season, have several more great years including a 21-win season in 1986, and earn a deserved reputation as a great big-game pitcher with a 5-1 record and 1.98 ERA in six postseason serieses, including three wins en route to the Dodgers' 1981 World Championship. By age '25,' he had won 99 major league games; eventually, though, he broke down from severe overuse by Tommy Lasorda, which you can see in the 1981 records as well as the stretch in late 1987 when Lasorda left a struggling Valenzuela on the mound to throw 150 pitches in three consecutive starts, followed by a complete game, followed by a 10-inning complete game. Last I heard, he's still pitching somewhere in Mexico; who knows if he'll be back again someday for one of the abortive comebacks he's pursued for the last 14 years. We probably never will know how old he actually is.
But all that is epilogue. If you want a "moment" when a new arrival turned
FUN FACT: Fernando has hardly been the only Latin American pitcher to star
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LAW: Goldberg on the Media's Rush
Jonah Goldberg has the goods on the media's jump to conclusions about the sniper(s). Instapundit also links to blogger Rand Simberg, with a similar but more pointed observation: that the media was dying to "paint Republicans as bigoted enablers of right-wing violence . . . two weeks before a mid-term election."
On a lighter note, Wednesday night I was flipping channels with the sound down, and saw on FOXNews the bizarre headline "BREAKING NEWS: A Tree Stump Was Removed And Loaded Into A Truck."
The scary thing is, I knew what they were talking about.
October 24, 2002
POLITICS: "But these are not government estimates"
Sullivan's mailbag is also fighting back at Dana Milbank's Washington Post piece accusing Bush of playing fast and loose with the facts. The Post piece has its points, but one other one that struck me as funny was this charge:
"In stop after stop across the country, Bush has cited an impressive statistic in his bid to get Congress to approve terrorism insurance legislation. "There's over $15 billion of construction projects which are on hold, which aren't going forward -- which means there's over 300,000 jobs that would be in place, or soon to be in place, that aren't in place," is how he put it last week in Michigan.
But these are not government estimates. The $15 billion figure comes from the Real Estate Roundtable, a trade group that is leading the fight for the legislation and whose members have much to gain. After pleas earlier this year from the White House for "hard evidence" to make its case for terrorism insurance, the roundtable got the information from an unscientific survey of members, who were asked to provide figures with no documentation.
The 300,000 jobs number, the White House said, was supplied by the carpenters' union. But a union official said the White House apparently "extrapolated" the number from a Transportation Department study of federal highway aid -- not private real estate -- that the union had previously cited."
(Emphasis mine). You see? If it's not a government estimate, quoth Milbank, it can't possibly be the truth! This is like the whole Paul Krugman/Jonathan Chait/Al Hunt argument that Bush lies about his economic policies - far too many such charges are simply arguments that Bush is failing to conform to government estmates - including the longstanding Congressional Budget Office policy of assuming that tax rates have absolutely zero impact on the economy or individual behavior. Personally, I'm glad we don't live in a country where most people assume you're a liar if you contradict government estimates, especially ones that assume away inconvenient realities. Which is why people like Krugman and Chait and Hunt get so frustrated that they can't convince people that Bush is lying: because the average guy understands full well, without having to study the issue, that the next long-term government budget forecast to be accurate will be the first.
BASEBALL: More Kirby Puckett
More on Kirby Puckett (link via Baseball Primer's Clutch Hits): force yourself to read this. It's just ugly.
My older brother had the best line when they arrested Mr. Muhammad and his stepson: "I guess that guy who took his son out to beat up the first base coach at Comiskey Park is out of the running for 'Father of the Year'."
On a related note, Howard Bashman asks how the arrest of the 17-year-old stepson will affect the debate over the constitutionality of the death penalty for minors.
BASEBALL: Howe About That?
So Art Howe goes to the Mets . . . the only real downside I see to this is that Howe's Oakland teams really weren't great fundamental-baseball teams, so he would seem unlikely to make a real difference on that front, which was one of Valentine's weak points.
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 9:02 AM | Blog 2002-05 | Politics 2002-03 | War 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
WAR: Behind Al-Jazeera
Martin Kramer reports from behind the scenes at Al-Jazeera (October 23 post; he doesn't have perma-links).
LAW: Fantasy Court-Watching
My younger brother sends this link: a fantasy league to track Supreme Court decisions! Nerdvana! Where do I sign up?
POLITICS: Chief Bush
Andrew Sullivan also had some good comments on a Howard Fineman piece that struck me as hysterical (crazy hysterical, not funny hysterical) in its plea for more George W. in place of Chief Moose: "One difference bwteen [sic] this president and the last is that Bush doesn't feel the need to be the country's permanent emotional counselor."
BASEBALL: Honoring Kile
Putting Darryl Kile on the 2003 Hall of Fame ballot is a nice gesture for a good guy and a good pitcher, but if he gets more than a token vote or two, something has gone seriously wrong.
BASEBALL: Most Memorable Moments
CAL RIPKEN??? I'll have more on this later, but ask yourself: Where were you when Ripken broke the record? You don't remember, do you? Did you even watch the game? I didn't. If that's a "most memorable moment," I think our memories are in pretty bad shape. I remember Bobby Thompson's homer or the 1969 World Series far more vividly, and both of those happened before I was born.
BASEBALL: The Fenway Expos?
The Fenway Expos? This is an interesting idea, but other than (1) availability of existing logistics and (2) some sort of back-scratching conspiracy to benefit John Henry, I really don't see why it's superior to setting up in a city without baseball (Portland?) to see if the fans are there.
BASEBALL: Apathy and Fear in San Francisco
I've seen chunks of the last two World Series games, but for some reason they didn't grip me like the first two, maybe because I was getting home late from work in mid-game. Game 3 wasn't exactly close, either. There's something bizarre about a World Series that's purely regional - NoCal vs. SoCal - yet completely lacking in animosity or a true regional rivalry. No wonder the ratings stink, even though three of the four games have been airtight and well-played baseball and even in spite of the first World Series appearance by the best player in the game.
If you missed it, ESPN had a contrast last week of how Bonds and Babe Ruth have been pitched to in the World Series. The argument that Bonds is "more feared than Ruth," of course, ignores the fact that fear is a relative thing: there's a big difference between walking a man to get to an aging Benito Santiago and walking a man to get to a young Lou Gehrig. (OK, in 1921-23 Ruth hit ahead of . . . who? Without the box scores handy, I'm guessing Bob Meusel, who averaged .317, slugged .523 and drove in 310 runs over that three-year stretch; In 1923, when Ruth walked 8 times in 27 plate appearances, Meusel didn't draw a walk and drove in 8 runs in 6 games, which suggests a man who's had people walked to get to him). Anyway, Santiago has hit so badly you wonder if Dusty should switch Bonds and Kent in the lineup.
WAR/LAW: WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WAR AND CRIME?
Lileks with characteristically acid scorn for the usual suspects:
"If it is Islamic terrorism, it will be delightful to watch the root-causers explain this one. They could get away with writing off 9/11 as karmic justice, because it was so large, so theatrical, so massively calamitous that it instantly took on symbolic meaning. And symbols are always up for grabs. But shooting a dozen people at random is something the mind grasps and understands at once . . . everyone has stood in the open pumping gas, watching the numbers race, hoping we can hold it under twenty bucks, waving to the kid strapped in the backseat, wondering when the gas station started playing oldies through the loudspeaker - jesus, “My Eyes Adored You?” Haven’t heard that one in -
This even the stupidest root-causer gets. But I doubt they’ll admit it. They’ll have to draw a direct link between American foreign policy and some poor guy getting his head opened up at a 7-11. It will require meta-meta-meta thinking so elaborate, so vaporous, so consumed with the sins of the West that they’ll look like someone pissing off the parapets of the tallest building in Cloud-Cuckoo Land.
I think they’re up to the job."
October 23, 2002
POLITICS/LAW: Gun Fingerprints
Dave Kopel & Paul Blackman, writing on NRO, argue that the proposal for gun barrel 'fingerprinting,' which has gained some cache from the DC sniper case, is impractical and dangerous. Their arguments are worth considering at some length for what they do and don't prove.
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Starting first with the latter argument, Kopel & Blackman contend that (1) fingerprinting in advance, as opposed to after an arrest is made, will only be useful if accompanied by universal gun registration (since otherwise you can ID the gun after the fact but you can't trace it), which is largely true; (2) gun registration is dangerous to gun rights and politically impossible because many gun control proponents see it as a first step to seizures and it would make seizure more feasible. I don't buy this. People register their land, their cars, and their children with the government without fear of seizure. The motives of some extremists, which they seek to prove with a 25-year-old quotation, are irrelevant: confiscation is truly politically impossible as well as unconstitutional under the Second, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments (guns are property, too, after all). Moreover, leaving aside for the moment the source of any federal authority to register all guns, a federal registration requirement could be drafted by Congress in a way that would effectively commit the federal government - above and beyond the Fifth Amendment -- to pay money damages to all registered gun owners if their guns were outlawed. The added guarantee of fiscal apocalypse would provide additional reason for gun owners to see that regulation would not lead to confiscation.
(I leave out the question of federal authority because the same could be done by state governments as well. One way to implement such a proposal would be for the feds to require 'fingerprinting' of guns manufactured for interstate shipment and a record of who the gun was sold to, which is not so far from current law and which would have the additional benefit of aiding in the tracking of how legally manufactured guns get sold illegally; the states could be left to choose whether to take the follow-up step of then also registering the owner himself).
Kopel and Blackman also, however, present an impressive battery of arguments, most of which I'm not really qualified to evaluate, as to why ballistic fingerprinting is limited in its usefulness. Some of these points are underwhelming -- the fact that such a system won't catch ALL gun crimes is not really an answer, as long as it would catch enough to justify the expense -- but the overall picture of a system that would be expensive and cumbersome without providing a whole lot of bang for the buck is a serious charge, and one to which policymakers have to give real consideration.
As I've said before, I don't buy into the ideology of gun ownership as being necessarily protected by unique privacy interests or immune to reasonable regulations, particularly when those regulations ensure that any organizable militia is "well-regulated" by the State, and I don't see this type of regulation as a threat to the Second Amendment right to bear arms. But, as with any government regulation, cost-benefit analysis has to be applied before we turn the heated rhetoric of a particular election-season crisis into a permanent bureaucratic program.
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Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:27 PM | Law 2002-04 | Politics 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
LAW: Sniper Sketch
A sketch artist touches up the latest composite of the DC sniper.
WAR: Terror Hits Moscow
Islamic radicals take hostages in Russia - if these guys are connected to terrorists outside Russia, there may be some credence to the (thus far speculative) idea that Iraq has been pumping up the terror offensive worldwide in hopes that fear of non-state-actor terrorists will distract the great powers from the threat of Saddam. The fact that the casus terror here is a domestic issue gives the outsiders cover, and the fact that it's aimed at Russia is well-timed to distract a key player in the Security Council debate. Well, except for the fact, as Instapundit suggests, that this will give Washington a chip to cash in with Putin: we'll look the other way while you clean the Chechens' clocks. Still, if you're reading the tea leaves here, the theory that Iraq may have motive to be behind the recent spate of otherwise unconnected attacks around the globe is a plausible one. To me, given Saddam's history supporting terror, that's plenty.
BASEBALL: Jim Baker on Suprise World Series Heroes
Bill James' buddy Jim Baker (a fine writer in his own right) with a great collection of guys who came from nowhere to star in the World Series. He lumps together three groups: guys who were regulars but not any good (George Rohe), guys who were very good but not regulars (Dusty Rhodes, Babe Adams), known hot prospects (Andruw Jones), guys who really did come out of nowhere and went back (Brian Doyle), and guys who really did turn overnight from unknown benchwarmer to productive regular (Gene Tenace). We'll wait to see which of the last two Francisco Rodriguez fits into.
PS: I don't have ESPN Insider. If you don't either, click here for the answer to Baker's question.
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.
BASEBALL: Mets After Howe
Mets are pursuing Art Howe, now that Lou Piniella plans to check into a retirement home in Tampa, reports the NY Daily News. I'm still not sure whether I like Howe or not, but he does come from two good organizations, and I'm no fan of Beet Red Lou.
Am I paranoid, or does it appear that the withdrawal of Mike Taylor from the Montana Senate race was a calculated publicity stunt all along, as a way to get national attention to the unfairness of Max Baucus' ad campaign? Now that Taylor's back in the race, and suddenly with cheerleaders in the national media, you have to wonder. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
October 22, 2002
POLITICS: Hold Your Breath
WAR: Bali Donation
The Tuesday Morning Quarterback, writing on ESPN2 (hey, didn't he used to be on MSN somewhere?), proves that bashing the New York Times isn't just for political writers.
LAW/POLITICS: McConnell's Cred
Mickey Kaus has been trumpeting Michael McConnell's trashing of Bush v. Gore on Slate, but don't forget to check out his later piece on OpinionJournal on the same subject.
Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:12 AM | Law 2002-04 | Politics 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
RELIGION: Historical Jesus
Fox News on archeological evidence of the historical Jesus. Debate over whether the man was also God, that's what a free conscience is for, but I don't understand the theory that Jesus the man didn't even exist. Given the scope and power of the phenomenon of Christianity and its rapid spread in the Roman Empire, what's the opposite explanation - mass hysteria?
This passage, however, is interesting on a couple of levels: "The ossuary's owner required Lemaire to shield his identity, so the box's location was not revealed. . . Shanks said the owner bought the box about 15 years ago from an Arab antiquities dealer in Jerusalem who said it was unearthed south of the Mount of Olives." I can understand why you would be skeptical of the antiquities dealer, who has an interest in playing up the Biblical connection and probably little reason to know where the thing has been the past 2000 years. I can also understand why someone living in Israel would be hesitant to be identified publicly as owner of a Christian relic, given the way the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem was treated.
LILEKS with another reminder of why I send my kids to Catholic school:
Let me be quite clear on this: my daughter is not going to pledge allegiance to healthy dirt. I will teach her all I believe about stewardship of the world. . . . I will teach her that the earth - lower case, no family affiliation - requires our care and respect. But I am not going to raise an eco-freak who tattles on Daddy to the Block Captain because I threw away a grocery bag that had a rip, instead of cutting it up for note paper. She is a resident of the planet earth, but she is a citizen of the United States of America. While that distinction will be meaningless in second grade I will not undercut her eventual understanding of the concept by pretending that we all pledge allegiance to dirt, crabgrass and crocodiles. Respect them, yes. Start the day with an oath bowing our heads to decreased atomospheric particulate levels, no.
* * *
[I]f you think I’m being paranoid here, consider that my child is two years old, and they want her to swear fealty to soil. I wouldn’t mind some sort of pledge or oath to vow to be a good Dirt Scout, to not litter, to promise to pick up dog poop, to reuse grocery bags. I’ve no problem with that. But this stupid thing uses the language of religion and civics to underscore a practical point, and that tells me something. When you set it up a pledge to the meter of the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag, I’ll take you at your word. Either you regard this as more important or just as important, and on those points reasonable people can disagree.
Fat lot of good it’ll do you; tonight while googling around for info on the matter, I learned that the pledge [of allegiance to Earth] is required reading for first graders in the Minneapolis School System. (emphasis in original)
WAR: HLS Alums on War & Peace
From the Harvard Law School Bulletin's interviews with alumni in public service (Fall 2002 issue), two perspectives:
Caspar Weinberger '41: "People keep saying, 'But what is enough and how much is enough [in the military budget]?' And the only answer to that is, 'If you don't have enough, you'll never know it until it's too late to do anything about it.'"
Michael Dukakis '60: "If I had become president? I think there'd be peace in the Middle East."
October 21, 2002
WAR: Howard Gets It
Australian Prime Minister John Howard, on Bali: "We'll get the bastards who did this." (Link via OpinionJournal Best of the Web Today).
WAR: Crybaby Diplomacy
What with going to Mass and having small children, I generally miss the Sunday political shows. NRO, however, catches this priceless exchange between Tom Daschle and Tony Snow:
SNOW: You were harshly critical the other day at the Bush administration's foreign policy. Once again you said, "I don't know if we've ever seen a more precipitous drop in international stature and public opinion with regard to this country as we have in the last two years." Typically, people cite several things with regard to this. One was the Kyoto protocol, correct?
SNOW: You voted against that.
DASCHLE: I did.
SNOW: OK. The International Criminal Court, you voted against that.
DASCHLE: That's correct.
SNOW: And Iraq, where you voted with the president. So on all these key issues, the ones that the Europeans are constantly citing, you're on the same side as the White House.
DASCHLE: Well, it's not necessarily the position in that legislative approach that I think is the concern. It's the attitude. It's the way that we have gone about foreign policy, especially, Tony, this unilateral approach to foreign policy, dictating on a unilateral basis what the United States' position is going to be and expecting, really, all these countries in a very autocratic or very authoritarian way to comply.
Bush, of course, has displayed anything but this 'attitude' in public - thus, the real complaint is essentially the unverifiable backdoor complaint of diplomats who feel 'dissed' - much the way Newt Gingrich did in 1995, when the NY Daily News ran a headline with Newt as a crybaby in a diaper.
LAW/WAR: Is Jihad Speech?
On the other hand, Justice Stephens issues a wise note of caution about how the First Amendment may have its limits when "speech" involves the long-range planning of a criminal enterprise. Not hard to read between the lines of this one.
Read this very short opinion (in PDF format) by Justice Thomas, which pours well-deserved scorn on Justice Breyer's argument that the Eighth Amendment permits defendants to run out the clock on the death penalty and then complain that the delays caused by their appeals have created a cruel and unusual punishment. Justice Stephens adds a weak disclaimer to Thomas' opinion.
I'm not totally a death penalty cheerleader, but arguments like this are appalling. Even if there was some merit to the "delay" argument, its proponents should at least recognize that the "delay" should - after the fashion of the Speedy Trial Act - exclude any delays caused by the defendant himself, including the pendency of appeals, delays in bringing a habeas petition, etc., which would exclude nearly all of the time at issue in most of these cases.
BASEBALL: Lessons From The 2002 World Series Teams
Originally posted on Projo.com
In baseball, success is often imitated. Every year, general managers look at the teams that won it all, or won the pennant or division, and ask themselves what those guys are doing right that we need to try. Some people dismiss this as mindless groupthink - the herd mentality - and it can be, particularly if dumb GMs ape the superficial features of the winners (like Steinbrenner's ill-fated early-80s decree that the era of power hitters was over and he was going to rebuild the Yankees as a team of speedsters) without capturing the important parts. But it's also a useful evolutionary process, and hey, animals run in herds for a good reason. Last year's pennant winners offered lessons that were easy to understand and hard to imitate, like the value of having the two best (healthy) pitchers in baseball, or the importance of Mariano Rivera. But imitation is all the more tempting when the winners exceeded expectations. What lessons can we take from the Angels and the Giants?
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1. Valleys Are At Least As Important As Peaks
12 Angels batted more than 100 times this season, and only two of them created less than 4.7 runs per 27 outs: Darin Erstad, a little under the average at 4.4 on account of the fact that he hit for no power (10 HR, 28 2B), didn't draw walks (27 in more than 650 plate appearances), and didn't compensate by hitting over .300; and Bengie Molina, the one weak link at 2.7. (If you're wondering, the team leaders were Tim Salmon at 7.3, Brad Fullmer at 7.0 and Garret Anderson at 6.3 - nobody in the range of Bernie Williams (7.8) or Jason Giambi (9.9)).
How 'bout the Giants? Well, the average NL team scored 4.45 runs/game; the Giants scored 4.83, third in the league. Among the Giants' 7 regulars - the guys with 400+ at bats -- four ranged between 4.1 (Rich Aurillia) and 4.7 (David Bell), and Reggie Sanders at 5.1 isn't very far ahead. The one weak link is Tsuyoshi Shinjo, 3.8 over 362 at bats, and he's batted just once in the postseason. 8 other Giants have batted between 100-200 times, and again only two (Shawon Dunston at 2.6 and Pedro Feliz at 3.1) are truly non-hitters, while the tops is Kenny Lofton at 5.3.
But the Giants do have one top offensive star -- 2000 NL MVP Jeff Kent at 7.4, a bigger number in an NL pitcher's park than, say, Salmon's production - and Barry Bonds at 21.4. (Yeah, you read that right, a team of Barry Bondses would score over 21 runs a game).
Turn to the rest of the squads, and it's the same story. Of the guys who have started games in the postseason for these teams, none is a true superstar, and the biggest star is probably Jarrod Washburn. Not exactly Maddux, Schilling or Mussina here. But the highest ERAs are Kevin Appier (3.92) and Livan Hernandez (4.38, but 6-0 lifetime in the postseason). Virtually all of the two teams' relievers have been effective.
The lesson: sometimes, the way to win pennants is by removing weaknesses as much as creating strengths. It's not glamorous work, but in a game that requires a team to use 18-20 players in large or important roles on a regular basis, it adds up.
2. Just Showing Up Is Half The Battle
The emblem for both the Angels' health and consistency is Garret Anderson. Statistical analysts of the game have labored long and hard to get more attention for productivity stats like slugging average and on base percentage, and less emphasis on the traditional Triple Crown of Batting-HR-RBI. Anderson, who tends to do well in the Triple Crown categories while hitting for only middling power (in comparison to his vast accumulation of plate appearances) and rarely walking, has thus been a target of (justified) scorn for analysts for some time. But a little balance is sometimes in order as well, and if anybody embodies the idea that you can be a good outfielder without a good on base percentage, without hitting 30 homers regularly, it's Anderson. Yes, Anderson had just a .332 on base percentage, just one point above the league average, which is dismal for an outfielder, particularly one who sometimes plays in the outfield corners. But against that, set this:
-- Anderson has never hit below .285 in his major league career and has had more than 180 hits 6 years running +Anderson has stayed healthy enough to ring up more than 640 plate appearances seven years in a row.
-- Except for 2001, Anderson's slugging average has gone up every year, and has been above .450 five years in a row
-- Anderson hit between 33 and 41 doubles 6 years straight, and then went up to 56 this season, pushing his slugging % to a career-high .539
-- Anderson's LOWS over the past 3 seasons: 28 homers, 117 RBI
-- Add to that, Anderson has grounded into just 23 double plays over the last 2 seasons (1382 plate appearances), while hitting with enough men on base to drive in 246 runs
-- He's a solid fielder who can play anywhere in the outfield as needed.
In short: consistency, durability, flexibility, athleticism, growth over time, and a good batting average. Not a recipe for greatness, but Anderson's a guy you can write in the lineup and forget about, and that's a virtue that shouldn't be underestimated.
(The anti-Garret Anderson would probably be Jeremy Giambi, a wonderful, high-OBP hitter with power who is slow as all get out, has no defensive position, has had various nagging injuries, and has twice been traded by teams that hated his attitude).
Lesson: having the best team on the field starts with having the whole team on the field at once.
3. They Call It "Prime" For A Reason
4. Never Stop Tinkering
5. Hitting Like Babe Ruth Never Hurt Anybody
6. Dump Your Problems At Shea
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BASEBALL: THOUGHTS ON GAMES ONE & TWO
GAME ONE: WHY ON EARTH is Mike Scioscia batting Ben Molina 8th and Adam Kennedy, a .312 hitter in the regular season and the team's hottest bat entering the Series, 9th? Molina killed a rally with 2 outs in the second. He killed a rally with 2 outs in the fourth. He almost hit into an inning-ending DP in the sixth. Then he had to be pinch hit for with 2 outs in the 8th, with (as Tim McCarver astutely pointed out) the attendant risk that if the runner on first was caught stealing, the Angels would lose their top pinch hitter (Orlando Palmiero) AND be stuck with Molina's even weaker-hitting brother leading off the 9th trailing by a run. Four innings in which the Angels' offense was hobbled or their options restricted, in a 1-run game. Who says batting order never matters?
Is it just a coincidence that Mike Scioscia and his coaches - Mickey Hatcher, Alfredo Griffin, Ron Roenicke - were all guys who were tough to strike out, and so is Scioscia's team? Probably not. Note that the players, like the coaching staff, include some guys who are quite patient and others who are foolishly aggressive.
Hey, sitting there in the seats . . . it's the cast of "Fast Lane" on FOX! What a wacky coincidence!
One oddity about Barry Bonds' late-career resurgence is the contrast to his dad, a fine player who started strong but never improved from the day he entered the league, and basically just stopped hitting at 34. Do genes have an impact on a player's growth over time? People seem to expect that from Jeremy Giambi, who everyone keeps expecting to blossom like his big brother. One guy to watch on this question is David Bell - will Bell show the same broad-based development over time as his dad? He'll need it to stay in the league very long.
Man, Benito Santiago is in fantastic shape. The guy is just an amazing athlete, but he's learned next to nothing in all his years in the league. He still swings at nearly everything, and he still takes questionable chances in the field, like the play in Game 5 of the NLCS where he told Felix Rodriguez to throw to third base on a bunt play rather than get the easy out at first.
McCarver and Joe Buck were talking about Ted Williams bunting in the 1946 series to burn the shift. It's a great play to use every now and then to keep the shift honest, but it illustrates why you'd only use that extreme a shift against a guy with big-time power, especially home run power: it's only worth it to force the guy to bunt and hit the other way when doing so takes away his home run power.
GAME TWO: Game One was like an All-Star Game, at least in the early going, almost eerily calm despite the thunder sticks and the Rally Monkey; Game Two, by contrast, had that unmistakable World Series intensity. If you'd just woken up and turned on the TV, you'd have known right away this was a World Series game.
This time, FOX has Keifer Sutherland sitting in the seats. Note that Sutherland was unavailable for Game 1 - have you ever seen him and Jarrod Washburn in the same place at the same time. Hmmmmm......Ben Weber, on the other hand, looks kind of like Pete Townsend with that scraggly goattee - Weber's almost as ugly as his delivery. I first thought his eyes were crooked, but now I think it's just the goggles that are crooked.
It also cracked me up no end when Joe Buck repeatedly identified Disney Chairman, and therefore Angels/ABC/ESPN owner Michael Eisner, sitting in the stands, and completely ignored the fact that the anonymous fan sitting next to him was Gray Davis.
It was also pretty funny to see George Brett catch a foul ball, and without even standing up for it. Sign that kid up! I wonder if that's the first time he's caught a foul ball as a fan? He certainly didn't seem to be making any move to give it up.
One more thing on FOX: not once but twice they had to cut a promo off early because the inning had already started. This is Baseball Coverage 101, folks: don't show us promos for your crappy new serieses when there's a man in the batter's box.
I know a lot of people will be saying this this morning, but watching Francisco Rodriguez definitely takes me back to Mariano Rivera's emergence in the 1995 postseason, following a year when he was mostly an ineffective starting pitcher in the regular season.
Remember when they were writing Tim Salmon's obituary? "Now, it's too early to write Salmon off completely. As noted, his plate discipline remains intact, and that's a good sign. But the parallels to [Dale] Murphy's sudden collapse are clear, and as Salmon continues to ground weakly to shortstop and fly out to center field, it's going to be more and more difficult for the Angels to ignore the demise of their long-time lineup anchor." I know, the guys at Baseball Prospectus do fine work, and I've picked on them a bit much lately. Just keepin' 'em honest . . .
POLITICS: Playing At Recess
Bob Novak says that Congress went home without officially recessinng because "A formal vote to go home would have opened members of Congress from both parties to campaign charges that they quit without passing homeland security or prescription drugs aid." But that charge can be made anyway. Isn't the real reason for avoiding a formal recess because Tom Daschle doesn't want the president making recess appointments to the federal bench, especially before the election? After the election, Bush will either get his Senate majority or have to calculate how to live with the Dems for two more years. But if they recess now, he could appoint a couple of judges - say, Miguel Estrada and Patricia Owen - and by doing so, make the showdown over judicial appointments (especially female and racial/ethnic minority appointments) into the top (domestic) issue of the campaign in states where the issue favors Republicans. Daschle may prefer to avoid that, as well as avoiding the inevitable erosion of Senate priveleges that would come if Bush followed the Clinton precedent on this one.
BASEBALL: RIP Mel Harder
Mel Harder was a fine pitcher, and not that far away from the Hall of Fame's gray area, but his death, combined with the death of Ted Williams, effectively ends the thoroughly misguided push to enshrine him in Cooperstown.
POLITICS: Not Enough Blame
As the New Republic said of Al Gore, "bitterness is not a policy position." Michael Barone, with his usual analytical precision, says the Democrats have failed as well to learn this lesson on the economy; as a result, Barone thinks the Democrats won't benefit nationally from the woes of the economy. I would put it this way: people who have lost their jobs may blame Republicans, but people whose 401(k)s got hit mostly remember that most of the damage happened before Bush got the centerpiece of his economic plan passed in May 2001, let alone after it became effective, or after September 11.
POLITICS: MUST-READ Novak
A MUST-READ column from Bob Novak this morning (really, a must even if you're a Democrat) on the dilemma now facing President Bush in California: fish with Bill Simon, on the basis of a single poll showing he's competitive, or cut bait from his flailing campaign? Personally I don't think Gray Davis will run for president, and I don't think Bush will win California in 2004 unless he's winning in a landslide anyway, but the decision is still important - just making California competitive again will drain huge resources from the Democrats.
If I'm Simon, I'm going nothing but negative, and on Davis' record, the rest of the way. The only way Simon wins is to relentlessly ask the question, "Are we prepared to accept that we just can't do any better than Gray Davis?" It worked for George Pataki in 1994.
FOX ran a graphic showing that the team winning Game 1 of the Series has won 58 of 97 serieses. That sounds reasonably if not overpoweringly impressive (60%), but the series has been swept (counting two old-time serieses that included a tie) 18 times. Take those out, and the team winning Game One is a resounding 40-39. Sweeps are usually, though not always (1990, 1914), the product of huge mismatches. In other words, when the World Series is competitive, there is really no particular advantage at all in winning Game One.
October 19, 2002
POLITICS: Hoist By Their Own Canard
It's just never good news for the Democrats when this happens: Charlie Rangel and Al Sharpton play the race card against the national Democrats for not supporting Carl McCall.
WAR: Steyn Rocks
October 18, 2002
LAW: Johnny Cochran gets sued
Johnny Cochran gets sued. Who says there's no justice?
SCIENCE: The Birds
I think what really cracks me up about this report is the illustrations of gigantic birds.
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'?
BASEBALL: Say it ain't so, Kirby
It's hard to imagine a more disheartening story than this: Kirby Puckett charged with sexual assault. Puckett is a guy who can truly and fairly be said to have been universally admired in his playing days: by teammates, opponents, management, media, and fans alike; by white and black alike; for his childlike enthusiasm, but also for the more manly virtues of endurance, durability, work ethic, and cool under fire. Along with the charges by his ex-wife, the picture we are given is of a man whose ever-friendly smile and gentlemanly good nature have given way to a far darker side with the opposite sex. Say it ain't so, Kirby. Say it ain't so.
WAR: VDH Strikes Again
While the proponents of waiting for Saddam's threat to grow more imminent before we open fire are compelled to draw bucket after bucket of the same thin gruel of outdated sloganeering, untried academic theory and misguided idealism, Victor Davis Hanson is pumping in gallons of salty insight from the vast ocean of human experience with war. His basic point: we know we are at war, and we know Saddam is on the other side. Waiting for him to grow stronger and unite openly with all our foes raises an unacceptable margin of terror.
My only quibble is when he says that "Saddam Hussein is more dangerous to the civilian population of the United States than was either the more formidable Hitler or Tojo; for the latter to destroy our cities, they needed vast bomber fleets that were either nonexistent or impotent against the United States Army Air Corps."
As I'm sure Hanson, a military historian, is well aware, that may have been true in the spring of 1945, but it was only the Allies' rapid closure of the war that prevented Nazi Germany from gaining weapons of mass destruction itself. Granted, even a nuclear-armed V-2 rocket might only have vaporized our soldiers or the cities of London and Paris, but the specter of a beseiged and increasingly isolated Hitler with his finger on a nuclear trigger is one to give pause to anyone who contemplates the development of such weapons by paranoid and encircled despots like Hussein and Kim Il Sung.
BASEBALL: New Projo Column
New Projo column, on the lessons we can draw from the World Series teams, should be up later today; try here.
WAR: CFT Madness
Little Green Footballs links to the California Federation of Teachers - the teachers union, member AFL-CIO - with an appalling resolution against the coming war with Iraq.
October 17, 2002
This reads like something from the Onion, but sadly, it's not. Can one man really turn our nation's capital and scores of surrounding suburbs into Beirut?
WAR/POLITICS: Clinton's Korea, and McCain's
Rod Dreher reminds me of another reason why I voted for McCain. One thing that amazes me on the whole North Korea fiasco: I really think it speaks volumes about Clinton's character that he's so trusting of other people, which is an unusual characteristic in a pathological liar. It must spring from one of two sources: (1) as I've speculated previously, Clinton really doesn't recognize his own dishonesty, so he therefore fails to see it in others as well, or (2) Clinton is so accustomed to putting one over on the other guy that he talks himself into believing that he's one step ahead even when he's manifestly not.
Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:15 PM | Politics 2002-03 | War 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: The Elite
Making fun of Maureen Dowd is so easy and tempting as to be the webpundit equivalent of an Elvis impersonation. But this one on NRO had some good zingers that amused me:
The minimum requirement for membership in the intelligentsia used to be, well, intelligence. This is no longer the case. Rather, what is now required is the mere sense of your own superiority, the smirky confidence that flows from an undergraduate grasp of history, philosophy, and literature, and which can only be sustained by a maniacal deafness to counterarguments. Listening to your political opponents is deadly under such circumstances; they must therefore be dismissed, a priori, as stupid . . . The problem isn't that the new elites are consciously attempting to paint whoever disagrees with them as stupid; it's that they really believe that only stupid people could possibly disagree with them.
I should add that this blinkered refusal to consider even the possibility of error, particularly in the younger generations (as opposed to the fiftysomething Dowd) flows directly from the nature of our institutions of higher education and the 'mainstream' media, which for decades have taught and reinforced only a single point of view. I recall when I was on the college debate circuit back in the Bush the Elder Administration, and my debate partner and I (both Republicans) mischievously picked the debate topic (if you went first, you picked the topic) that "BE IT RESOLVED, Dan Quayle is too stupid to be a heartbeat away from the presidency." Counter to our own beliefs, we launched into a tirade against the vice president, relying heavily on conventional wisdom. The other side, from Cornell, complained that we had given them an indefensible argument. This poor girl from Cornell wound up leaving nearly in tears; she couldn't even imagine that one would be asked to defend Dan Quayle.
WAR: Lileks on Bali
Lileks, on who's to blame for the latest atrocity: "the Balinese have to ask themselves: Why are they building resorts while Palestine remains occupied? Priorities, people. Priorities." (link via Volokh)
WAR: WHO LOST NORTH KOREA?
LAW: White Collar Case
The full Second Circuit is wrestling with a case that could have a huge impact on white-collar criminal prosecutions.
BASEBALL: Howe Is Piniella Better?
Mike Lupica says the Mets should get Lou Piniella rather than Art Howe because Howe's team lost in the ALDS (doesn't that sound like a disease?) three straight years. OK . . . let's compare the last three years:
2000: HOWE: Loses to Yankees in playoffs PINIELLA: Loses to Yankees in playoffs
Gee, that's all the difference in the world . . . what about before that? In 1995, Piniella beat the Yanks, but lost to a superior Indians team in the ALCS. Good, but where did the Mariners go from there? In 1996, they added Alex Rodriguez and finished three games out of the wild card. In 1997, they were at least a match in front-line talent to the Orioles, but lost 3 games to 1 in the ALDS. In 1998 and 1999, still with a powerful talent core, they stunk. You want bad karma? In 1986, Piniella's Yankees lost a pennant race decided by 5 1/2 games - to the Red Sox!
Sure, I'm being selective and glossing over some details here, and Piniella does have the one World Series ring from 1990. But Lupica's entire argument rests on the stereotype that Howe is a choker, and doesn't even bother to compare with Lou's record (the graphic in the Daily News shows Piniella with 3 World Series rings, which is true enough, but deceptive; Bucky Dent had two World Series rings).
BASEBALL: 2002 Win Shares Leaders
David Pinto has 2002 Win Shares, courtesy of Jim Henzler, Bill James' co-author on the Win Shares book. The Win Shares MVPs (Bonds, A-Rod) and Cy Youngs (Randy Johnson, Zito) are no surprise, although there were some surprises: Byun-Hyung Kim the third best pitcher in the NL, Tim Hudson second and Roy Halladay also ahead of Pedro, and Rodriguez only a hair (a difference of one Win Share is little more than a rounding error) ahead of Thome and Giambi for MVP. Of course, the article in the Win Shares book on teams with the best 2 picthers in the league and their unpredictable record in the postseason just got two data points for failure.
Notice how the top 10 pitchers in each league included 4 Braves, 4 A's, 3 Diamondbacks including the THREE BEST PITCHERS IN THE LEAGUE, 2 Red Sox and 2 Astros.
October 16, 2002
WAR: Not CAIRing About Us Infidels
Yet again, the folks at CAIR have managed to provide such a dishonest response to provocation that left-wing magazine The American Prospect winds up defending Jerry Falwell against CAIR's charges. This is rhetorical stupidity on a par with bin Laden's tactical stupidity, and shows that the ideological fellow-travelers of our enemies, like those enemies themselves, don't understand the West and don't care to. The Communists would never have made this mistake; even the Nazis wouldn't have.
If there's a lesson to be learned by America's adversaries from Vietnam and subsequent smaller debacles like Somalia, it's that the only way to defeat the United States is through a strategy of divide and conquer in which you gradually isolate American conservatives - first from the Third World and the UN, then from Continental Europe, then Canada, then the Democrats and the American newsmedia, then the American military brass, the British and other harder-core allies (Israel, Australia, etc.) and finally from the American public. Bin Laden has totally failed to learn this: he hasn't foresworn attacks on America's Continental European allies; he hasn't made proclamations about how all he wants is to use Islamic self-determination to right the wrongs of colonialism; he hasn't stuck to the small-bore, steady-drip terror tactics that evade world hostility, allowing it to fall only on those who respond to it. Instead, both his actions and his rhetoric have been explicit in calling for wanton and arbitrary death and destruction on a grand scale for anyone not a member of his hard-core Muslim extremist faction.
CAIR has (to my knowledge) never been accused of participating in violence, which is of course an important distinction in comparing it to terrorists. But its rhetoric has the same problem, and one that opponents of the Vietnam war, for example, would not have made. CAIR is so often so unfair and disingenuous in its public presentation that outside the Chomskyite Left it has no hope of ever convincing the mass of Americans that it is a trustworthy voice. The "nuke Mecca" thing at NRO back in March was a prime example. Rich Lowry raised a question on The Corner: what would be the proper response to a nuclear attack on an American city? His response to the suggestions of various readers of a nuclear counterattack on Mecca (you can see some of the give and take between Lowry and Rod Dreher here and a follow-up comment from Andrew Stuttaford here) was ill-considered, in the sense of being phrased in a way that did not befit the seriousness of the question and the public nature of the forum. But what was disgraceful about CAIR's response, contained in an email blitz to its supporters and posted on its website, was that it omitted the fact that the discussion was premised upon the destruction of a major American city by Islamic radicals. CAIR instead tried to make it sound as if Lowry and Dreher were proposing doing this out of the clear blue sky, rather than agonizing over the truly unthinkable. That approach - never conceding that your opponent could possibly even have a legitimate point of view or any legitimate concerns about his own security - may work in parts of the Muslim world. So does bin Laden's rhetoric. It's preaching to the choir. But it has no hope of ever persuading anyone in the West, and indeed betrays a contempt for the idea that the West is even worth persuading. And that is the most frightening thing of all.
UPDATE: OxBlog makes the same point.
POLITICS: Hope in Hawaii?
FoxNews reports on political hijinks in Hawaii, although I'm skeptical until I see proof that Democratic dominance of the islands has been punctured.
SCIENCE: Black Holes
Are black holes at the center of all galaxies? This MSNBC article suggests that the all-but-certain confirmation of one at the center of the Milky Way may well confirm this theory. The numbers in this article just defy the imagination, suggesting at once both the incredible reach of man's powers of observation and the vast, overwhelming size of our universe.
WAR: Bali Bombshell
A former member of the Indonesian Air Force has confessed to investigators that he assembled the bomb that destroyed the heart of Bali's nightclub district Saturday, killing at least 181 people, an Indonesian security official said Tuesday. The suspect, who is being held by Indonesian authorities . . . has not disclosed who ordered him to make the bomb, according to the security official. . . Indonesian investigators at the scene have recovered traces of C-4 plastic explosives, the national police chief, Da'i Bachtiar, said Tuesday. The police said the material was similar to explosives used in August 2000 to bomb the Jakarta residence of the Philippine ambassador to Indonesia, an attack that Philippine intelligence officials have blamed on a radical Islamic network known as Jemaah Islamiyah.
From MSNBC's account, taken from Washington Post reportage:
In past cases in Indonesia . . . whenever C-4 has been found in any bombing it has been traced to the military, raising speculation the explosive was bought or stolen from military stocks. The puttylike C-4 was used in the attack two years ago on the USS Cole in Yemen. Richard C. Reid, the alleged al-Qaida-trained shoe bomber thwarted on an American Airlines flight, packed explosives that appeared to be C-4 into his shoes.
POP CULTURE: Beard Surgery
USA Today has a great headline (fifth down): "ZZ Top still rocking after Beard surgery". Actually, it's just an appendectomy for drummer Frank Beard.
Also in today's issue: President Bartlett's post-September 11 bounce didn't have the same staying power as Bush's. What will he do? Scare the old folks about Social Security? Play the race card? I'm betting on a sex scandal and a special prosecutor . . .
POLITICS/LAW: The State of The Gun Debate
The Wall Street Journal has a front-page story this morning (here's the link if you're a subscriber) on how Smith & Wesson has rejoined the fight against gun regulations in an environment where lawsuits and new regulations have lost a lot of steam as a result of skeptical courts and the Bush Administration. Personally, I always thought the lawsuits - other than those few for purely accidental shootings that might have been prevented by safety devices, which are fairly standard tort claims -- were silly. First, everybody knows guns are dangerous. Second, many of the claims were based on the theory that it was a violation of one state's gun policies to sell too many guns legally in another state, knowing that some of them would then be shipped across state lines (the "oversupply" theory). Adopting such a rule under state law is a straightforward violation of the Commerce Clause - a state regulating the very act of interstate commerce. (A more interesting question is whether both the high- and low-regulation states are transgressing Federalism's Edge, a concept I've discussed in more detail here and here).
BUT, WILL THE DC SNIPER CHANGE THE POLITICS OF GUN CONTROL? Not much, I suspect. Except in New Jersey -- where the Torricautenberg campaign has been hammering the issue for months -- nearly all the contested Senate elections, and the majority of hot House and governor's contests, are in states where gun control is not popular (Missouri, New Hampshire, Colorado, Arizona, Michigan, the Carolinas, etc.), so the national Democrats have been terrified of the issue. What's worse, the case raises the specter of a ban on hunting rifles, the crown jewel of gun ownership.
Personally, I'm pretty moderate on this issue - I'm generally apt to support gun regulation like registration requirements, but not outright bans. After all, the Second Amendment guarantees an individual's right to bear arms, but much unlike the First Amendment (which says "Congress shall make no law" regulating speech and religion), the Second Amendment expressly contemplates that gun ownership by the militia - i.e., the able-bodied adult (then, male) population - shall be "well-regulated." I'm not an expert on the history, but I doubt that the Founding Fathers would have been alarmed by efforts to register the gun owners in the State if they'd seen a need.
Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:31 AM | Law 2002-04 | Politics 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: James Online
Here is the seed of a long-needed and worthwhile venture: putting Bill James' work, as much of it as possible, on the internet. Most of his stuff is out of print, and while analysis of the game has advanced a lot since his best work in the 1980s, even a bad James column usually has enough pointed insights and unanswered questions to grapple with to keep inquiring minds busy for a stretch of the long winter.
BASEBALL: Baseball Prospectus Goes 1-1
The Baseball Prospectus picked the Angels in the ALCS but the Cardinals in the NLCS. Better than the first round, but I stand by my view that they shouldn't be in the business of picking postseason serieses. (I'm not saying they shouldn't do these breakdown columns, which are always entertaining and insightful.)
Andrew Sullivan has a point on the sniper that seems obvious to me: whether or not it's connected to any terrorist group or organization, and whether or not the shooter is pressing any particular agenda, this is terrorism by any reasonable definition: i.e., the targeting of innocent, unsuspecting noncombatant strangers for the purposes of creating fear in a broader population.
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.
LAW/POLITICS: No Right To Vote Early and Often
The things people will ask for . . . Second Circuit says it's not unconstitutional to deny people with multiple homes in different localities the right to vote in all of them.
Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:12 PM | Law 2002-04 | Politics 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
LAW: No Hsia
LAW: THE DC SNIPER
OK, the "Confederate battlefield" theory is out the window with last night's shooting in Falls Church. They're gonna get this guy, somehow, but it looks like he'll probably kill again before they do, which is a horrible thought. I'm sure plenty of people are afraid to leave the house in the DC area, and I can't say I blame them. When things have calmed down, somebody should remember to extend a very warm thank you to these guys.
My father, who was a New York City cop, reminds me that the simplest slips can break a case like this - they got the Son of Sam because a cop who wrote traffic summonses noticed that he'd written up the same car at the site of three of the shootings. Once they had the car, they had David Berkowitz, and they still do.
My guess is, when they get this guy, Virginia will try him first. I have mixed feelings about the death penalty, but this is one of the easy cases.
Let me say this now about the Mets' pursuit of Lou Piniella:
Piniella has had his successes, and maybe he's a guy who can light a fire under a veteran team. But don't forget that he was a disaster with a talented veteran team in the Bronx (twice) and that he wasted one of the greatest collections of individual talent (in terms of the core of 5 or 6 players) ever assembled in Seattle. In both cases, he destroyed young pitchers; in Seattle, he failed completely to make anything work in the bullpen. Yes, he's had great bullpens, but only when they've been loaded with superior (and expensive) talent. Look at the Anaheim, Atlanta and Minnesota teams this season and ask me whether a good manager should be able to have a good bullpen without a lot of big-name relievers.
BASEBALL: Slow Hook
It is ironic indeed that Tony LaRussa, whose name is nearly synonymous with an addiction to pitching changes, has gone down to defeat two years running at least in part as a result of letting Matt Morris hit in the 8th or 9th inning of a tie game. You have to feel for Steve Kline, who was on the mound last October 14 when the roof fell in, and on the mound this October 14 when it happened again.
Many's the internet pundit and blogger who has piled on Robert Fisk, the self-parodying dean of blame-America-and-all-its-friends journalism, for blaming the Bali bombing on Australia's support for the U.S. in the war on terror. I'd just like to add one more little dig, on this passage that Andrew Sullivan and Tim Blair both quoted yesterday:
"So who is next? When is Britain's turn? Where are Britons most at risk? Alas, they are scattered across the globe in embassies, on holidays, on every airline of the world. Our support for the United States – an infinitely closer alliance than any support from France – makes Britain the most likely candidate for attack after the US. Then there are the small, more vulnerable nations that give quiet assistance to the American military; Belgium, which hosts Nato HQ; Canada, whose special forces have also been operating in Afghanistan; Ireland, which allows US military aircraft to refuel at Shannon."
Canada is a "small . . . vulnerable nation"? Compared to England? And they say Americans are arrogant?
October 14, 2002
POLITICS: Moore Faults
Some good Michael Moore bashing here - Moore makes the point that you can't trust some of his most prominent critics because he's such a jerk that they all have a personal animus against him. OK, that's not how he puts it. (Link via Instapundit)
The little indignities of being Israel: EUrocrats want to slap extra taxes on goods produced in the settlements. Shimon Peres politely asks them to stop on the grounds that "Israel is not interested in a conflict with the EU over the issue."
POLITICS: Alterman's Link
I'll leave you with this last charming article, on a site that MSNBC permits Alterman to perma-link to in his "Bookmarks". I guess Alterman thinks stuff like this is cute:
"Bush II has not yet achieved Nazi Germany's horror at its apex, but it is like waiting for the other shoe to drop."
"It's sincerely hard to believe that Bush II's "Final Solution" includes the elimination of an entire race."
Gee, thanks, that's generous. So how are Bush and Hitler different?
"One of the main differences between Bush and Hitler as leaders is that the later built a nation out of rubble . . . Hitler helped to create and then triumphed over the political unrest that plagued post war Germany. During the early years under his leadership, Germany experienced a period of rebirth and pride in the Fatherland. The economy improved greatly and, as witnessed during the 1936 Olympics, the world was introduced to a new Deutschland. The world saw a proud and thriving country rise out of a once devastated enemy. George W. Bush, on the other hand, has taken a country that enjoyed peace and prosperity for almost a decade and trashed it completely.."
Glad you cleared that up.
It goes on and on and on like this, comparing Dick Cheney and Karl Rove and Karen Hughes and FCC Chairman Michael Powell to Goehring and Goebbels . . . why do reputable organizations like MSNBC hire people like Alterman who have so little judgment that they would consider a site like this enlightening? And doesn't a Big Media organization that wants to burnish its image by adding a "blog" still have cause for concern about that image when the blogger in question gives his endorsement to this sort of lunatic rant?
Ever ask yourself, "I wonder what Mark Green is up to these days, after suffering one of the most humilaiting exits from electoral politics in history?"
I didn't think so, but Green turns up anyway, subbing for Eric Alterman, and bestowing upon us this sage advice: "although issues such as terrorism, social security, health care, and pollution absorb far more public attention and concern, the scandal of strings-attached money corrupting politics and government is the most urgent problem in America today-because it makes it harder to solve nearly all our other problems. How can we produce smart defense, environmental, and health policies if arms contractors, oil firms, and HMOs have such a hammerlock over the committees charged with considering reforms? How can we adequately fund education and child care if special interests win special tax breaks that deplete public resources?" (emphasis mine) And this clunker: "Because the press and public judge a candidacy by its treasury, and because no one can be sure how much will be “enough,” candidates feel the pressure to engage in financial overkill, just as the Soviets and Americans did with nuclear missiles in their arms race."
Wow, that's a lot of different varieties of foolishness to pack into such a short space . . (1) the complete lack of perspective in putting campaign finance reform ahead of terrorism on any list - I may think it's funny, as a former McCain voter, that I get mail from his PAC saying "help me defeat the influence of money in politics - send $100!", but at least McCain hasn't confused his favorite straw man with the real threats to the nation. Oh, and which national party is siding with its campaign contributors in the fight over the structure of the Homeland Security bill? (2) Perhaps we can "adequately fund education and child care" if we do it at the local level. "Enron" probably didn't buy influence at your local School Board, and you can raise property taxes without raising money from Global Crossing. But then, that would require you to pay for this stuff yourself. (3) Do you think he means the Senate committees? I doubt it. (4) The throughly gratuitous moral equivalence between the U.S. and the Soviet Union - why do people like Green try to re-fight the Cold War in totally unrelated discussions, when their side (being charitable, I mean appeasement of Communism, not Communism itself) didn't win? (5) Green grumbles about "self-financing multimillionaires," which sounds an awful lot like Whitey Herzog complaining about the unfairness of home field advantage in the World Series.
For added humor, you can go to Green's website, which has the hilarious and ungrammatical slogan "Don't let them run our democracy -- the way they ran Enron" (who, Ken Lay? I think Enron's management has been stalled in his tracks pretty effectively. But isn't the charge against Enron that the company had bad management with obscure finances and too little accountability, not that its pure-hearted management was bought out by moneyed outside interests?) and fumes about the "evil of access" to Congress.
LAW: Racial Profiling of the DC Sniper
Dave Shiflett over at the American Prowler is doing some racial profiling on the DC sniper (ask yourself what the sniper looks like before you click). If you missed it, Slate had a nice piece last Teusday (has this story been going on that long?) with an NYPD detective profiling the weapon. Here's a random thought: last two shootings were at Manassas and Fredricksburg. If the next one's at Anteitam or Appomattox, I think we've got ourselves a much clearer profile.
WAR: Blair on Bali
Australian blogger Tim Blair's site has links and insights galore on the Bali bombing. Spend a few minutes there and you will be back wherever you were in the days after September 11. I promise.
BASKETBALL: Wait Till Next Year.
The Knicks have really killed my enthusiasm for the NBA.
WAR: The Boundless Slur
BASEBALL: FULL DISCLOSURE TIME
Yes, I picked the Angels to finish last this season. If you scroll a little further you'll also see that about the only guy on the team I was excited about was Matt Wise, who hardly pitched this year at the major league level. Where did I go wrong? Mostly in overestimating the Rangers and the Mariners; I didn't think this was a bad team. But I didn't excpect 99 wins either. The keys to why the Angels exceeded my expectations? I've covered the bullpen issue and the defense already, and lower down here I went over some more of the "little things." Obviously, though, a big factor has been Adam Kennedy, who made huge strides forward this season, as well as Brad Fullmer and Scott Speizio. A more interesting question is where Kennedy goes next year - I don't see him hitting .312 again, but 32 doubles and just 7 homers in 474 at bats, combined with a homer explosion in the playoffs, for a 26-year-old player, may be a sign of a guy ready to crack 25 homers next year.
On another note . . . where do they get these pinch runner types with silly names, like Chone Figgins, Essex Snead, and Scarborough Green?
WAR/POLITICS: TWO CHEERS FOR HILLARY
Friday's New York Sun had a good word to say for Hillary Clinton's support for war with Iraq, and I second the thought:
"In the case of Mrs. Clinton, we were struck, too, by her desire to preserve the powers of the presidency itself. The other day in this space, we remarked that Vice President Gore’s failure to grasp this point marks him as a man of who belongs in the Congress more than in the executive branch. Mrs. Clinton, however, clearly has not made this error. 'I want this president, or any future president, to be in the strongest possible position to lead our country in the United Nations or in war,' quoth she. Her reference to 'any future president' can not be lost on anyone. To which we say, good for Mrs. Clinton. It’s nice to see at least one Democrat trying to protect the office for a future holder."
Translation: If Al Gore were half the man that Hillary is . . . and in all seriousness, I mean that with no disrespect to Mrs. Clinton. Of course, there are practical differences. Gore worries about satisfying the Left in the primaries and the Greens in the general election; Hillary can fairly claim (as Reagan once did to conservatives) to be such the complete embodiment of the movement as to be beyond criticism. Gore's out of office; Hillary represents New York State, which after September 11 is still an angry electorate. Gore, a Vietnam vet who supported the first Gulf War, plans to run against Bush and feels he can't afford to be a me-too; Hillary plans to run in 2008 (and not against an incumbent president Gore, either), recognizes that the war with Iraq will be long since won by then, and knows that it's more important to burnish her credentials as a potential commander-in-chief than to play to the Left (she can handle that by opposing whatever war we're fighting six years from now).
Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:47 AM | Politics 2002-03 | War 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Viva Cuba!
Through last night's start by Livan Hernandez, ten Cuban-born pitchers have appeared in the postseason, with a combined record of 23-9 with a 2.70 ERA in 296.1 IP spread over 38 postseason serieses. Only two Cuban-born pitchers have had a losing record in the postseason: Camilo Pascual and Diego Segui, each 0-1. The bulk of the pitching has been done by Orlando Hernandez (9-3, 2.51), Mike Cuellar (4-4, 2.85), Livan Hernandez (6-0, 2.84) and Luis Tiant (3-0, 2.86), with honorable mention to Dolf Luque (1-0, 9.1 scoreless IP). Why? It can be dangerous to generalize, but in this case it's incredibly obvious: with the possible exception of Pascual, each of these pitchers was a master of deception, with a wide array of pitches and varied deliveries. That variety can be a major asset in the postseason, against anxious hitters who may not have seen the pitcher much, if at all, during the regular season. Even so, it's an impressive record.
BASEBALL: Welcome Aboard!
I'm not being mean here or anything, but the one thing you notice about all that red in the Anaheim seats: it's all new. No Reggie or Grich or Carew even Jim Edmonds jerseys, no old blue hats, just lots of the recently adopted colors and spankin' new Ralley Monkeys and those noisemakers. I'll probably root for the Angels in the series anyway, but it does get to you.
October 13, 2002
You want the quick-n-dirty summary of the bottom line from the Bali bombing: It's not about America. They hate the whole free world, not just Americans. That means the Aussies too, as the media reports and bloggage point to the victims as predominantly Australian. But then, they were on our side already.
POLITICS: Nasty Frank
Orrin Judd says Frank Lautenberg should benefit from "the Carnahan effect," but really, that effect was just a sympathy vote for a grieiving widow; Lautenberg should have precisely the opposite. In fact, Lautenberg is a most unsympathetic type, a rich man who won his seat by a campaign of personal attacks on an old woman, and a guy who was involved in the dirtiest race (on both sides) I can ever remember, the 1988 Senate race pitting him against Republican Pete Dawkins. Republicans keep getting the shaft from these unforeseen events: the Torricelli shuffle, the death of Carnahan (who didn't pass Ashcroft at the polls until he was dead), the sudden death of Paul Coverdell.
HISTORY: Ambrose Joins History
On the other hand, as far as sympathy is concerned, the campaign to vilify Stephen Ambrose should be about done for a while.
WAR: Terror in Indonesia
The war on terror comes in earnest to the world's fifth-most-populous nation and most populous Muslim nation with a pair of bomb blasts claiming nearly 200 lives in Bali. This was as inevitable as it is disturbing; the Indonesian archipelago, with its scores of islands, dense jungles and Gordian knot of local ethnic and religious rivalries, will be a hellish place to stage a manhunt. Give some credit here to Ralph Peters for beating the drum on this locale as one of the key spots in this war, although I still think Peters is too quick to dismiss the importance of cleaning out the cesspool of the Middle East.
BASKETBALL: TFFKA McDyess
Kiki Vandeweghe . . . Xavier McDaniel . . . Charles Smith . . . Larry Johnson . . . Clarance Weatherspoon . . . Antonio McDyess. The Knicks really have a knack for getting scoring forwards who are past their prime and physically damaged goods. Even Camby was in brittle condition when they got him. Ewing is gone - when will they learn to get off the treadmill and start developing their own young players?
The Nobel committee said they wanted to give President Bush the finger for his Iraq policy by giving the Peace Prize to Jimmy Carter. Hey, if that was the idea, why not go all the way and give it to Al Gore?
Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:39 AM | Politics 2002-03 | War 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Not To Be
As Arnold Schwarzenegger said in Last Action Hero, "To be or not to be? Not to be." That's how things look for the Twins, as Joe Mays is sent to the hill to save the day against Kevin Appier and the Angels today.
October 12, 2002
BASEBALL: David vs. David
It's wierd to have a postseason without the usual villains in Atlanta and the Bronx. There's still Bonds, of course. In the AL I suppose I'm rooting for Minnesota, since among others I've long been a fan of Rick Reed and Brad Radke, but I don't actively dislike the Angels - I don't even really have a beef with the Rally Monkey. I have to say, those Angels uniforms are strange, though - I keep thinking they're the Cardinals. I know it's been a while since they changed, but seeing them this regularly makes it stranger. . . I mentioned Dyar Miller the other day, but another good guy to see is Twins pitching coach Rick Anderson, a guy the Mets brought up as a 29-year-old rookie with a decade of minor league experience in 1986. He pitched well enough that the Royals took him, and backup catcher Ed Hearn, in exchange for a 7-year minor league vet who'd spent nearly half his minor league career rehabbing injuries. His name? Well, you know that one. It was also strange the other night on the radio broadcast, hearing John Miller discussing how Jacque Jones works out in the offseason with "the greatest hitter living in the San Diego area, Tony Gwynn." Another reminder that San Diego native Ted Williams is no longer around to talk hitting . . .
October 11, 2002
WAR: Nobel Efforts
A few thoughts from this AP report on the selection of Jimmy Carter for the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize. First of all, AP notes the last U.S. president to win: "Woodrow Wilson received it in 1919 for his role in establishing the League of Nations. . . " That pretty much speaks for itself, doesn't it?
It is also noted that "Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger shared the 1973 award with Le Duc Tho of then-North Vietnam, who declined it." At least Le Duc Tho, unlike Yasser Arafat, had the decency not to accept a prize for a peace treaty he had no intention of honoring. Like Wilson, Kissinger was honored for a most un-lasting peace; the cease-fire in Vietnam lasted less than two years, and was ultimately doomed by the failure of America to credibly back up the implicit threat (implicit in any peace treaty) to use force if the treaty was violated.
Finally, I enjoyed the comments by Afghan President Hamid Karzai; the report notes that "Karzai, one of this year's nominees, had called a press conference in Kabul in advance of the announcement, but ended up congratulating Carter. 'He deserved it better than I, and he won it, and I'll try for next year,' he said at his presidential palace in Kabul."
It will be progress for world peace if Karzai is still around when they award the prize next year. I wish him luck.
BASEBALL: Prospectus Forward-Looking Statements
Derek Zumsteg is backpedaling furiously from Baseball Prospectus predictions that got all four Division Serieses wrong. Personally, I think BP should do the principled thing and refuse to issue postseason predictions at all. Why?
(1) For better or worse, BP, Neyer and the Baseball Primer are the public voice of sabermetrics (except when Bill James is speaking, that is).
(2) The credibility of sabermetrics will always be subject to challenge when predictions go bad.
(3) The usual defense, as in Zumsteg's piece, is "how can you predict a short series"?
(4) If you are going to take the position that your credibility wasn't even slightly on the line because you were predicting something that your predictive tools aren't equipped to predict . . . well, you've basically admitted that your predictions should never have been associated with your brand name in the first place. It's like having Nobel Prize-winning economists predict which way the stock market is going tomorrow. They've got a 50/50 shot of being wrong, and wind up leading people to ask what economists know anyway.
It's one thing to have the occasional BP author talk about what his gut says will happen as a result of a particular matchup; after all, the site is also about just plain talkin' baseball, and we all enjoy that. But to even imply that a rational analysis of the teams' relative strengths is a good predictor of individual serieses is, it seems to me, to squander the reputation that BP is justly proud of in projecting and analyzing regular season performance.
LAW: A RIGHT TO DO NO WORK?
The DC Circuit affirms summary judgment dismissing an employment discrimination claim by a Postal Service employee who claims that his job got worse when he was reassigned, at the same pay and benefits, to a job including "general budget duties for an office and supervis[ing] up to a dozen workers." What was his previous job? The court quotes this priceless exchange from his deposition:
Q So you stayed at Merrifield. What were your duties at Merrifield?
A [sic] Did you work while you were out there?
Q What did you do all day?
A Occupied an office.
POLITICS: The Substitute
WAR: It's The Same War
Devastating syndicated column from Jonah Goldberg on why the war with Iraq is all about September 11.
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 9, 2002
WAR/POLITICS: The Blindness Of The Left
The Corner had a link to this marvelous NY Observer piece about leaving the Left, with regrets. Here's a brilliant analogy, one reminiscent of Allan Bloom's assault on Heidegger as the paradigm of intellectual folly and cowardice in The Closing of the American Mind, but with props to Little Green Footballs:
[L]et me make an analogy here, one that I believe goes to the "root cause" of Left idiocy of this sort.
The analogy that occurred to me grew out of a conversation I had several years ago with the philosopher Berel Lang, author of Act and Idea in the Nazi Genocide, a talk that took place in the course of researching my book, Explaining Hitler. Mr. Lang is an extremely thoughtful and meticulous thinker on the question of degrees of evil, and the role of intentionality in determining them. He was speaking about the question of whether one could say there was "a history of evil"—whether Hitler represented a new fact, a new landmark in that history, and if so, what the next step might be.
I suggested the "next step" might be Holocaust denial, because the deniers had found a diabolical way to twist the knife, compounding the pain of the survivors by negating and slandering the memory of the murdered.
Mr. Lang demurred, because he had his own notion of what the next step in the history of evil might be. The paradigm for it, he told me, was the postwar career of Martin Heidegger, the Nazi-friendly philosopher beloved to distraction by postmodernists (and Hannah Arendt).
All of whom apologized for him, despite an increasingly damning series of revelations that disclosed his toadying to Hitler’s thugs in order to attain professional advancement, hailing Hitler’s Reich as the ultimate synthesis of politics and his philosophy.
But that wasn’t what made Heidegger a new chapter, Mr. Lang said; it was his astonishing postwar behavior. After everything came out, after it was no longer possible to deny at least post facto knowledge of the Holocaust, nothing changed for Heidegger. He felt no need to incorporate what happened into his philosophy. "His silence," Mr. Lang said, "it wasn’t even denial. For him, it wasn’t important! It wasn’t important …. Now if you ask which of them is worse … the Revisionists [Holocaust deniers] deny it occurred, but their official position, at least, is that if it occurred, it would have been wrong. But Heidegger knows it occurred, but it’s just not important—it’s not something to distort history to deny. For Heidegger, this is not history to concern oneself with.
Not history to concern oneself with ….
Here’s the analogy: Heidegger’s peculiar neutrality-slash-denial about Nazism and the Holocaust after the facts had come out, and the contemporary Left’s curious neutrality-slash-denial after the facts had come out about Marxist genocides—in Russia, in China, in Cambodia, after 20 million, 50 million, who knows how many millions had been slaughtered. Not all of the Left; many were honorable opponents. But for many others, it just hasn’t registered, it just hasn’t been incorporated into their "analysis" of history and human nature; it just hasn’t been factored in. America is still the one and only evil empire. The silence of the Left, or the exclusive focus of the Left, on America’s alleged crimes over the past half-century, the disdainful sneering at America’s deplorable "Cold War mentality"—none of this has to be reassessed in light of the evidence of genocides that surpassed Hitler’s, all in the name of a Marxist ideology. An ideology that doesn’t need to be reassessed. As if it was maybe just an accident that Marxist-Leninist regimes turned totalitarian and genocidal. No connection there. The judgment that McCarthyism was the chief crime of the Cold War era doesn’t need a bit of a rethink, even when put up against the mass murder of dissidents by Marxist states.
The point is, all empires commit crimes; in the past century, ours were by far the lesser of evils. But this sedulous denial of even the possibility of misjudgment in the hierarchy of evils protects and insulates this wing of the Left from an inconvenient reconsideration of whether America actually is the worst force on the planet. This blind spot, this stunning lack of historical perspective, robs much of the American Left of intellectual credibility. And makes it easy for idiocies large and small to be uttered reflexively. (Perhaps the suggestion I recently saw on the Instapundit.com Web site calling for an "Anti-Idiotarian" party might be appropriate.)
Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:12 PM | Politics 2002-03 | War 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Newsflash - Not Everything In The NY Times Is Untrue!
Mickey Kaus has a cautionary note in the wake of the latest New York Times poll issue:
"About a year ago a brilliant essay by right-winger J. Peter Mulhern argued that liberal press bias is a blessing for conservatives and Republicans, because with liberal bias comes the liberal "cocoon," the disconnect between what NPR listeners/NYT readers think -- after being told what they want to hear -- and what's really going on. Because prominent Times articles like Nagourney's give Democrats (even sophisticated pols and media types) unfounded hope, Democrats are apt to be overconfident -- and surprised on election day when they discover what the voters really believe.
But I wonder if a reverse, second-order phenomenon isn't also at work – a conservative cocoon built on the assumption that all bad news in the NYT is the product of liberal bias. There's so much bias in the Times right now that this is a mighty tempting conclusion. But it's a dangerous one for the right."
WAR: They're Back
CNN reports the shooters in the attack on Marines in Kuwait were affiliated with and trained by Al Qaeda.
I mentioned a Mark Steyn column the other day without the link. Here it is.
BLOG/WAR: Latest From Lileks
BASEBALL: The Irish and The Scots
Fun fact: there have been 38 major league baseball players born in Ireland. Of those, 28 retired before 1900, 2 others started their careers before 1900, and 2 more played just one game apiece in the majors. Of the remaining 6 - Jimmy Archer, Irish McIlveen, Paddy O'Connor, Jack O'Neill, Mike O'Neill, and Jimmy Walsh -- the last to retire hung it up in 1918. None of the 38 Irishmen made the Hall of Fame, although Tommy Bond was the best pitcher in baseball from 1877 to 1879 (from 1876 to 1879, Bond was 154-68 with a 1.97 ERA, walking 106 men while striking out 595) and Tony Mullane won 284 games in the major leagues, including a 191-125 record and a 2.73 ERA from 1882 to 1888. Bill James' "Win Shares" system rates Mullane as the player with the most career Win Shares who's not in the Hall of Fame.
The Scots also had a fine 19th century pitcher, 265-game winner Jim McCormick - an old friend of Mike "King" Kelly who went 51-15 with Kelly's Cubs at the end of their dynastic run in 1885-86 - but they have had a little more impact over the last 8 decades. You may remember a famous home run hit by this Scotsman.
October 8, 2002
BASEBALL: Little Things
Want a reason the Angels are so good? Last in the AL, and next to last in the majors, in GIDP. First in baseball in getting hit by pitches. Second in baseball in sac flies. Third in the AL in steals. Little things, so much like last season's Mariners.
LAW: Campaign Finance News
Howard Bashman notices that the Second Circuit has withdrawn its opinion upholding the Vermont campaign finance law, Act 64. So there. (I may update this post later if I find out more).
POLITICS: Sharpton in Mayberry
Rod Dreher at NRO continues his campaign against Al Sharpton with a review of Sharpton's new book. I've said this before: I can easily see Sharpton destroying the Democrats in 2004, reprising what he did to Mark Green - and especially if Joe Lieberman gets the lead.
Dreher quotes Sharpton heaping glowing praise on Castro's Cuba: "To my surprise, the best fried chicken I have ever ate in my life (outside of my mama's) was in Havana. Cuba is very clean, and the only crime you could openly see is prostitution. You don't see a lot of dirt and crime. People even leave their doors unlocked there. It reminded me of the deep, deep South in the 1950s, where everyone greeted each other as they walked by. Even the cars are from the 1950s. ...It was like stepping into Mayberry with Andy Griffith. I expected Aunt Bea and Opie to come running out any minute"
Is it just me, or -- well, what to you think Sharpton would do to, say, George W. Bush if he spoke warmly of "the deep, deep South in the 1950s" and a TV show set in the South in that era where everybody was white?
BASEBALL: Neyer's Delusions
Rob Neyer is apparently being held hostage by a deranged Mets fan who thinks the job of Mets manager is as enviable as any job in baseball except the Angels. That's right, Mets=Yankees. I'll believe the Mets have a great farm system when I see it. Most pointedly, Neyer rates the Mets high on the "money" scale without accounting for how much money they have tied up in their current players.
WAR/POLITICS: "Fraud" At The New York Times?
Now, commentators often accuse the media generally and the NY Times specifically of bias and error. The bias allegations are easy ones to debate, and the disputes about what constitutes bias can be pretty straightforward. Claims of error require proof that the paper has screwed up outside sources or something . . . there's often a spirited debate between the critics and the paper's defenders, sometimes involving the paper's reponse at the end.
This is different.
David Tell of the Weekly Standard accuses the Times, in so many words, of a deliberate "fraud" in its reporting of its own poll numbers. (Personally, I read only the opening of the Times piece when we got the paper - yes, I'm a subscriber, don't ask why - and found it tendentious on its face). Them's fightin' words, and grounds for a libel lawsuit if he's wrong. Read the article; this may sound unremarkable in the history of fights about the Times, but this one could really have some traction because it goes straight to the heart of the Times' page-1 campaign to discredit the President and the war effort, and the lengths to which that campaign will go.
Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:45 AM | Politics 2002-03 | War 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Setting The Tone
The usual 'pox on both houses' types say that California's governor's race has been "lacking in a discussion of the issues." Gee, which candidate spent the whole summer attacking a civil jury verdict and tax returns, and talking about a single issue (abortion) that has nearly nothing to do with the job of California governor? Davis has the discussion right where he wants it. It's Simon who desperately needs the discussion to be about Davis' record on economics, education and similar issues.
BASEBALL: Dyar Miller
Warmed my heart to hear Andy Benes the other day talking about working with minor league pitching coach Dyar Miller. Miller had a 2.58 ERA in two seasons at the nadir of Mets history (no, not 2001-02, but the Joe Torre years). What I actually remember best, strangely, about Miller was the time in Cincinnati when he won a pre-game cow milking contest. There are actually more than a few Mets of that era (1977-83) still in the game, including, of course, Lee Mazzilli, Mookie Wilson, Ron Gardenhire, John Stearns, Richie Hebner, and if you count them, Torre and Bobby Valentine. (I'm leaving out guys who left at the outset of those years or arrived to close them, like Seaver, Hernandez and Clint Hurdle). Ed Lynch was Cubs GM, although I'm not sure what he's up to now. I believe Wally Backman may be working in baseball somewhere. At the extremes, there's John Milner and Nino Espinosa, who are both dead, and Jesse Orosco, who's still pitching.
BASEBALL: Pythagoras' Revenge
Well, here we are with the first round down, leaving sidelined the defending champs as well as what most of us thought were the three best teams in baseball. For what it's worth, Pythagoras (i.e., the ratio of runs scored to runs allowed) projects the top five teams in baseball as (1) Anaheim; (2) Boston (insert wailing and gnashing of teeth here); (3) the Yankees; (4) San Francisco; and (5) Atlanta. So maybe Anaheim and San Francisco should not have surprised us so much.
It occurs to me that the Angels and the Cardinals are in many ways similar teams. Neither has a signature superstar; both have ace pitchers who haven't quite made the jump to the elite level; both have deep bullpens. Both have players who switch from catching to utility duty (Wooten, Marrero).
BASEBALL: SECOND GUESSING
I wasn't really paying close attention to why Art Howe decided to start Tim Hudson twice against Minnesota and Barry Zito only once -- was he looking ahead to the Yankees? -- but do you think he's regretting that right now? Particularly given how the Twins struggle against lefthanded pitching.
Ted Lilly, a lefty, was spectacularly ineffective in the Minneesota series, and it's possible Lilly just hadn't gotten back in a groove after his injury. But leave Lilly aside, and here's the results from the A's lefties in the series: 23.1 IP, 2.31 ERA, 8.10 H/9IP, 0.39 HR/9IP, 2.70 BB/9IP, 9.64 K/9IP. Here's the righthanders: 16.2 IP, 5.40 ERA (and with all 5 of the A's unearned runs, that's 8.10 Runs/9IP), 11.34 H/9IP, 1.62 HR/9IP, 3.24 BB/9IP, 7.56 K/9IP. In other words, the rest of the Oakland lefthanders were far more effective in every facet than the righthanders. (This does not bode well for Anaheim's bullpen, which leans further to the right than the Provo chapter of the NRA).
Oh, and during the regular season, Zito had a 1.80 ERA against Minnesota in two starts, Hudson 2.84 in one start - a small sample size, but the Twinkies hit .196 against Zito and .333 against Hudson. Certainly nothing there to suggest that Hudson would be more effective against them.
WAR: Thug vs. Thug
Bush's speech. Fun detail: Bush accuses Iraq of "provid[ing] safe haven to terrorists such as Abu Nidal," which basically dares the Iraqis to admit that they had him rubbed out.
WAR: The Moral UN?
Chances are, if you're a regular reader of this weblog, you are either convinced of the case for war with Iraq or you're just coming here for the baseball stuff. But if you still have questions about whether the US needs to wait on UN approval, you can't miss Charles Krauthammer's Sunday column: "by what logic does the blessing of these countries [the permanent members of the UN Security Council] bestow moral legitimacy on American action? China's leaders are the butchers of Tiananmen Square. France and Russia will decide the Iraq question based on the coldest calculation of their own national interest, meaning money and oil." (emphasis mine) (By the way, I'm dying to hear somebody call Krauthammer a "chicken hawk" for his neat tactic of avoiding military service on account of being a paraplegic) (And I have great respect, by the way, for the fact that I was reading Krauthammer's columns for a decade before he mentioned that he is confined to a wheelchair. Sometimes what matters is the power of a man's analysis, not his willingness to deploy his life experiences as argument-stoppers).
Mark Steyn has a similar point, as part of a broader argument that Europe's behavior is completely inconsistent with the rhetoric about how America is supposedly the most dangerous country on earth: "England’s clergy have redefined the Christian concept of a just war to mean only one blessed by the Security Council, which is to say the governments of France, Russia and China: it will be left to two atheists and a lapsed Catholic to determine whether this is a war Christians can support."
On another note, Kathleen Parker had the link to this site on Saddam's genocidal gassing of a Kurdish village.
October 7, 2002
WAR/POLITICS: Baghdad Jim Uncovers A Coup!
The Corner on NRO flagged this one: House Democrat Jim McDermott, fresh from denouncing American foreign policy in Baghdad before an uncritical George Stephanopolous, now says that President Bush is engaged in a "bloodless, silent coup": "This president is trying to bring to himself all the power to become an emperor — to create Empire America." You can't make this stuff up. I think the lesson to be drawn here is that a decade of relative peace has allowed a variety of radicals to get elected or re-elected without voter scrutiny of even the most extreme and paranoid views of the American political system. Next McDermott will be talking about politicians bugging the phones of their opponents.
Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:47 PM | Politics 2002-03 | War 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: The Immutable Laws
If you haven't, you need to check out OxBlog's Josh Chafetz and his "Immutable Laws of Maureen Dowd," now posted on the Weekly Standard's website. I'd add one more corollary: when was the last time you saw Dowd reference anything (except her own personal experiences) that didn't appear on the front page of her own newspaper?
WAR: Chicken Jihadists
OK, I'm sick enough of hearing gripes about how the advocates for war with Iraq -- or, to put it more precisely, for war with Iraq now on our own terms rather than later on Saddam's terms and at a time of his choosing -- should pick up a rifle and head for Baghdad. But when the people directing the battle are not democratically elected by their people, and are openly arguing that it is a positive good to die in an attack rather than live on in peace, it is a fair question to ask why they and their children are to be exempted from this supposedly glorious fate. One Palestinian man, having lost a son to the siren song of 'martyrdom,' asks that question.
BASEBALL: Arizona Treadmill
Pouring money into a declining roster is rarely a winning strategy, but as Rob Neyer points out, as long as Schilling and Johnson are at the top of their games, the Diamondbacks have little choice but to stay on the treadmill and try for one last title.
LAW/POLITICS: The Invisible Foot In Vermont
This Fox News report notes the heavy schedule of debates, and lack of spending on TV ads, in the Vermont gubernatorial race. What seems missing, to me, is any mention of Act 64, Vermont's stringent new campaign finance law, which was upheld by the Second Circuit in August. (This NRO analysis boldly predicted a reversal by the Supreme Court, although near as I can tell, no petition has been filed as yet). Are they not in effect yet this campaign cycle?
Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:19 PM | Law 2002-04 | Politics 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Like It's 1980
Projo's Sean McAdam on Steinbrenner's possible responses to the Yankees' repeat of 1980 (when a 100-win team got swept in the first round of the playoffs, leading to the firing of manager Dick Howser and other personnel changes); McAdam says Brian Cashman may be on the hot seat (to which I respond, Steve Phillips' tenure as Mets GM should be no greater than Cashman's as Yankee GM plus one day). The NY Daily News headlined this morning with Steinbrenner saying he wanted to 'trim the fat' on the Yankee roster (helpfully illustrated with an attractive shot of Boss George hitching up his pants) and suggesting that this may include Roger Clemens. Mike Lupica draws the 1980 parallel explicitly and points out that this team was largely Steinbrenner's own creation - and we all know that guys like Steinbrenner are all the more eager to point fingers when their own decisions blow up on them.
LAW: Memo to Supreme Court Watchers
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.
LAW/POLITICS: BREAKING NEWS
Supreme Court opens its 2002 term denying cert in scores of cases, including the New Jersey election case (click here for the link to the order list, a 94-page PDF file). But the story's not over: there were potential standing and jurisdiction problems with the appeal from the NJ Supreme Court -- but a new federal lawsuit in NJ, brought by people who voted already, may give the courts the evidentiary record to make a definitive ruling on the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act claim -- and better yet, from the Supreme Court's perspective, to let federal courts decide those issues without the High Court's involvement, rather than replay another showdown with a state Supreme Court.
Posted by Baseball Crank at 2:21 PM | Law 2002-04 | Politics 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
WAR: The Debate Is Over
Another link from the Corner via our good friend Larry, who asks, "Remember when the conventional wisdom was that, "Bush still needs to make his case for an attack?" I guess the conventional pundits were only kidding about that": the three major broadcast networks have decided that President's Bush's planned address to the nation tonight laying out the case for war is not newsworthy enough to air live. We lawyers love things like this . . . remember at the end of the court case in Miracle on 34th Street, when the Postal Service's delivery of "Dear Santa" letters to the defendant is taken as proof (via judicial notice, for you evidence buffs) that the defendant is recognized by the United States government as the one and only Santa Claus? Well, the networks have unanimously concluded that there is no more case for war that needs to be made to the American people. Haven't they?
BASEBALL: Whither The Hated Yankees?
Here in anti-Yankee-land, the hope is that Steinbrenner will do something rash in response to the Yanks' unquestionably disappointing postseason collapse, like dumping Mussina or Karsay or trading Nick Johnson. Which is not to minimize their dilemma: The Yankees have a truly outstanding team right now, but it's also an old team whose problems will only get worse next season, so some changes will be called for. More on this in the days to come.
BASEBALL: The Tradeoff
I'm not that big a fan of Tino Martinez, and I am very much a believer in the value of Jason Giambi. But Game 5 of the Cards-Diamondbacks series featured a play that captured an important part of what the Yankees were missing this postseason, when Rod Barajas hit a grounder to third that Miguel Cairo first booted, then recovered, then threw high to first base -- and Tino extended way, way in them air to spear the ball and somehow land his foot on first base before Barajas could reach first. As is true of John Olerud, Tino's ability to turn errant throws into routine groundouts is a hidden factor in his teams' repeated trips to, and success in, the postseason. And as if to underline the contrast, there are not two worse first basemen in baseball at this skill than Giambi and Mo Vaughn.
October 4, 2002
POLITICS: Grandma Got Run Over By A Spinner
Every time you are stuck debating (contradictorily) whether (1) the Democrats are really just people of good faith who disagree or (2) the Democrats have sunk so low they can't possibly go any lower, you get hit with something that calls both assumptions into question, such as: an ad (on what else? Social Security) depicting President Bush pushing an old woman in a wheelchair off a cliff. I swear you can not make this stuff up. Frankly, if there's a single word I would use to describe these type of tactics, it's this one: immature. I have no problem with harsh, negative attacks and invective, in proper place. If we could just raise the level of debate to that of a mature adult, we would be so much better off. Every time you hear a political ad, ask yourself: could you make this argument with a straight face to your friends? If not, why do the political pros make them?
Man, this is cold. I bet the Sulzbergers go to bed every night cursing the internet.
BASEBALL: Projo Column Up
The second half of my column on the 1914-17 Giants is up at Projo.
BASEBALL: 1914-17 Giants Part Two
Originally posted on Projo.com
With a team mostly composed of players in their late 20s and with substantial major league experience, and with no reigning power dominating the National League, the New York Giants must have been optimistic about a return to the top in 1916. But any illusions were rapidly dispelled as the team sank into a 2-13 funk, 4 games behind the next-to-last-place Pirates and 8.5 games behind the crosstown rival Dodgers, who were getting some spectacular pitching. Adding insult to injury, the Dodgers would go on to the pennant that year, with Chief Meyers catching and Rube Marquard posting a 1.58 ERA, both just a year after McGraw had sold them for the waiver price. The Giants at this point were misfiring on all counts: tied for last in the league in scoring (3.53 runs/game), third to last in pitching and defense (allowing 5 runs a game).
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Then, just as badly as things started, they turned around. The Giants ripped off 17 straight wins on a stunning 19-1 road trip, ending the month of May just 1.5 games behind the Dodgers, and second in the league in both runs scored and fewest runs allowed. During the 19-1 run the team scored 5.65 runs/game while allowing just 2.15/game. I couldn't find individual stats for each period, but in the 2-13 run, the Giants were 2-3 with Jeff Tesreau starting, 0-2 with Fred Anderson starting, 0-2 with Pol Perritt starting, 0-2 with Emilio Palmero (who finished the season with an 8.04 ERA) starting, 0-2 with Sailor Stroud starting, 0-1 with Rube Benton starting and 0-1 with Christy Mathewson starting. Not a very stable starting rotation, although early season rain may explain some of this. On the road trip, Anderson started 5 times, Perritt (who started the team's only loss) and Benton 4 times each, Tesreau and Mathewson 3 times, and Stroud once, for something closer to a set 5-man rotation.
But the road trip, largely against the league's lesser teams (as opposed to 5 games against the Dodgers and 5 against the Phillies in the opening 15), would be the last hurrah for the old Giants. From June 1 through September 6, the team went 38-48-2 (ties happened in those days, when games would be called for darkness), scoring 3.27 runs/game while allowing 3.67. This time, the hitting was the major culprit. Merkle hit .237 with the Giants; Doyle, the 1912 MVP and still an offensive force in 1915, fell off to .268. Neither one of them did much else besides hit singles. Rariden, the new catcher, finished the season at .222 with just 13 extra base hits, and McKechnie hit .246. Kauff finished at .264, a far cry from his Federal League exploits, and George Burns, one young star from the 1913 team, wasn't much better, although both provided some power, steals and walks.
On the pitching front, the team's old faithful ace, Christy Mathewson, had also broken down for good. After the hot May road swing in which he'd figured in the rotation ended, Matty started a 6-4 defeat June 2 and a 4-0 defeat June 14, and would never start another game in a Giant uniform. Entering action on July 20, the Giants' record in games started by the various starters was as follows:
Not much to choose from here in cleaning house, but Stroud, Schauer and Palmero wouldn't start another game the rest of the year, and on July 20, McGraw made a wrenching break with the past, trading Mathewson to the Reds (who would make him the manager; he barely pitched again) along with McKechnie and the young Edd Roush (who hated McGraw) for 30-year-old Buck Herzog (an old favorite of McGraw's from the 1911-13 team, even though they couldn't stand each other either) and Cincinnati's 31-year-old left fielder, Red Killefer. Herzog was installed at third for the moment, and Killefer (who was batting .244) was sent straight to the bench; he would bat only twice for the Giants. Inserted into the starting rotation on was Schupp, who had made his first start July 13. Three days later, the Reds sold McGraw another starter, 31-year-old Slim Sallee, for $10,000. Basically, the Reds were dumping salaried veterans in favor of younger players, and gaining a manager in the deal.
Schupp and Sallee would be the most important keys to the Giants' revival, pitching as well as any two pitchers have pitched over the season's final two months. Schupp would make 11 starts (including 4 shutouts) and 19 relief appearances on the season, registering a microscopic 0.90 ERA in 140.1 innings. Sallee, struggling along at 5-5 with a way-above-league 3.47 ERA with the Reds, would post a 1.37 ERA with the Giants. Their combined stats with New York: 18-7, 1.11 ERA in 252 IP, 6.25 H/9IP, 1.68 BB/9IP, 4.32 K/9IP, and just 3 home runs allowed. From July 20 to the end of the season, the Giants' record by starter was as follows:
The primary starters in the 26-game winning streak would be Tesreau and Schupp, each starting 6 times. Opposing teams would score just 3 runs in Schupp's 6 starts during the streak, 10 runs in Tesreau's six starts during the streak (1.67 runs/game), and just 27 runs in Pol Perritt's last 13 starts of the season (2.08 runs/game).
So, the pitching was in place; now for the offense. Still languishing hopelessly in fourth place in late August, McGraw shipped Merkle to the Dodgers for backup catcher Lew McCarty, age 27 (same as Merkle but with less mileage), on August 20. On August 28, he dealt Doyle, the team's biggest star, with little-used Herb Hunter and Merwin Jacobson to the Cubs for disgruntled 29-year-old third baseman Heinie Zimmerman (a solid hitter but a player whose glove work was so poorly regarded that he finished sixth in the MVP voting when he won the Triple Crown in 1912) and reserve shortstop Mickey Doolan. Although Zimmerman was less than spectacular, the overhaul could scarcely have worked better. Here's what the Giants' starting lineup now looked like; the new additions are listed in CAPS with their final season numbers (Avg/Slg/OBP) with New York:
C LEW McCARTY (age 27) .397/.559/.453
On September 6, 1916, the Giants spilt a doubleheader with the Dodgers, Rube Benton starting both ends and losing the second game to Marquard. New York stood 59-62, 12.5 games behind the third-place Braves, 13 games behind the second place Dodgers and 13.5 behind the defending champion Phillies. But the Giants had one big ace in the hole: they were now 3 games into a 31-game homestand. And another: a 19-game stretch of that was against the league's three weak sisters, the Reds, Cubs and Cardinals, from whom McGraw had taken Herzog, Sallee, Perritt, Zimmerman, and Benton over the prior year. And then they got hot. Over the next 27 games, the Giants strangled their opponents, scoring 122 runs (4.52/game) while allowing just 33 (1.22/game). Only three of the wins in the Giants' streak were by 1 run, and one of those was a shutout by Schupp, although there was also the one tie (a 1-1 duel between Perritt and Hall of Famer Burleigh Grimes) to mar the streak. Besides the weak teams, the Giants swept 4 straight from the Phillies, beating Hall of Famers Grover Alexander, Eppa Rixey and Chief Bender in the process, and 3 straight from the Braves before Sallee lost 8-3 to the Braves in the second game of a September 30 twin bill to snap the streak; a win would have finally pushed them past Boston into third place. On the morning of October 1, the Giants woke up 4.5 games back of the Phillies and Dodgers (with the Phils leading by percentage points) with four games in Brooklyn left to play. Schupp, Benton, Sallee and Tesreau started those 4, but Benton's and Tesreau's starts went badly, the Giants were shut out by Jack Coombs in the game Schupp started, and the Dodgers took 3 of 4 while the Braves took 4 of 6 from Philadelphia for the pennant. The magic was gone. In the meantime, though, McGraw's outlays of cash had paid off; the Giants' attendance was the best in the NL, recovering nearly to the 1911-13 levels from a horrible slump in the Federal League years. 26-game winning streaks at home have a way of doing that.
There are three postscripts to the 1916 run, two good, one unsavory. First, despite the speed with which the team came together, McGraw's men were no flash in the pan; they would go on to dominate the National League in 1917, leading the league in scoring, ERA and Fielding Percentage and winning the pennant by 10 games with basically the same lineup that ran the table in September 1916, except that Rariden won back most of the catching job, Anderson (who started 3 times during the streak) spent about half the year in the bullpen, and McGraw brought back Al Demaree. Kauff, Burns and Zimmerman would all hit around .300, while Schupp, Perritt and Sallee combined to go 56-21 with an ERA just a hair under 2.00. Perhaps just as amazingly as the fact that this hastily constructed team turned into a powerhouse is the fact that McGraw then tore it apart within the next two years and built a whole new team around young talent, starting with the arrival of Ross Youngs in 1918 and the emergence over the next two seasons of Frankie Frisch, George Kelly, as well as the acquisition of Jesse Barnes and Art Nehf from the Braves and Dave Bancroft from the Phillies' fire sale.
The sadder, seamier part may be connected to why (other than Schupp hurting his arm) McGraw had to rebuild the team, and perhaps even to why so many of these players were available in the first place: too many of them were crooks. The Giants lost the 1917 World Series to the Chicago White Sox of Shoeless Joe Jackson and Eddie Cicotte, and there have long been rumors (unsubstantiated, as far as I know) that that series, as well, was fixed, perhaps by the same New York-based gamblers who reached the Black Sox two years later. Zimmerman and Kauff, two of the team's best 3 hitters, hit .120 and .160 in the series. Both men would be banned from baseball a few years later for their involvement in various scandals, including links to the 1919 fix, as well as Kauff's indictment for auto theft (he was acquitted). The White Sox had shown a propensity for corruption already, as they were accused of making payoffs to other AL teams to lay down during the 1917 race. Rube Benton, who (along with McCarty) failed to cover home plate in a rundown as Eddie Collins scored the winning run of the deciding game of the 1917 World Series, was banned from the National League in 1922, and Benton alleged that Zimmerman, Hal Chase and Herzog had tried to bribe him to throw a game in 1919. Herzog and Merkle both left major league baseball under a cloud in 1920. (As far as I know, nobody has ever accused Slim Sallee of anything, but Sallee pitched terribly in the 1917 Series and much more effectively for the Reds in the 1919 series, including winning one of the games thrown by Lefty Williams.) Apparently not satisfied with such a team, McGraw went out and got Chase in 1918, after Christy Mathewson's illness rendered him unavailable to press charges that Chase had thrown games under Mathewson's eyes with the Reds. McGraw testified as a character witness for Chase, who was basically the ringleader of many of the fixes of that era and was persona non grata in baseball after 1920.
As a result, it's hard to draw too many lessons from this story. The main lesson is the genius of John McGraw; acting as his team's manager, GM and primary scout, he used both his substantial baseball acumen and his team's deep pockets to repeatedly rebuild his team on the fly, playing the hot hands and importing needed veterans while at the same time breaking in numerous young talents who would be keys to his team's ongoing success. On the other hand, McGraw clearly had some financial advantages over his competitors, and you have to wonder how he was so blind to the dishonesty pervading his roster. Was he in denial? Perhaps, as a man who liked to play the horses himself, he believed that players who ran with gamblers off the field could still be trusted to play to win? The answer is lost to history. But we know this much: from 1914 to 1917, John McGraw led the fans of his Giants on one heck of a ride.
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BASEBALL: Phoenix Rats
There's bad taste, there's really bad taste, and then there's making crank phone calls to taunt a grieving widow. How can you not fire a guy who pulls a stunt like this? And what are the odds that this "Phoenix-area disc jockey" was one of the same people who taunted Steve Kerr at the Arizona-Arizona State game in the late 80s about the fact that his father was blown up by terrorists in Lebanon?
Lileks has worked himself up into a full-scale Screed at the expense of Paul Wellstone. Not one of his finer efforts -- he's left shadowboxing at the paucity of actual facts and arguments in Wellstone's sorta-anti-war speech -- but entertaining nonetheless.
October 3, 2002
POP CULTURE: IS THIS THE WORLD'S FUNNIEST JOKE?
IS THIS THE WORLD'S FUNNIEST JOKE? I'd say 'you decide,' but apparently scientists already have. I've seen way too many of these Onion-esque stories lately.
POLITICS: Who's In Charge Here?
This headline reminded me of Dave Barry's comment about the Constitutional Convention, where he discussed how some states wanted a strong president and a weak legislature, some wanted a weak president and a strong legislature, and "delegates from New York wanted a loud president and a rude legislature." The actual story is interesting as well - the UK is openly pushing for the creation of . . . well, a position in the EU without much more authority than Her Majesty. Of course, such a figurehead would embody the bureaucracy in Brussles and become an instant lightning rod, and would it be a German or a Frenchman? Sounds to me like a plan to help undermine the whole project.
MISCELLANEOUS: Hey, those aren't supply
MISCELLANEOUS: Hey, those aren't supply curves!
SCIENCE: From The Department of DUH!
The World Health Organization has released the results of a "comprehensive global report about the relationship between violence and health." Conclusion: it's bad for you.
WAR: Pistols at dawn!
Pistols at dawn! Now we find out if George W. Bush is a REAL Texan. As my older brother writes, "I think Bush should take the 'What would Andrew Jackson do ?' approach and accept." Of course, Jackson would win; Bush doesn't have nearly as much, er, target practice as his opponent.
WAR/POLITICS: For Being For and For Being Against
I'm still too busy for much blogging, but no matter what you're doing today, you are not too busy to read Mark Steyn's taxonomy of the Democrats' positions on the war. Sample:
"the Democrats found themselves with the rare double problem of figuring out a way to spin both the obvious opportunism of their belated approval for the war and the obvious opportunism of Gore's belated opposition to it."
Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:24 AM | Politics 2002-03 | War 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
LAW/POLITICS: What Choices Count In New Jersey?
The usual suspects - Instapundit, Kaus, Sullivan (links on my left) - lead the roundup on the New Jersey Supreme Court's decision that "51 days" doesn't mean "51 days" if it's applied to a candidate from one of the major parties (at least the court had the decency to pretend that its ruling would apply to Republicans).
Question 1: What happens if some voter who got the original ballots (let's say, for example, a Patterson native serving in Kabul or Qatar) sends it back and doesn't have time to look at the new ballot? Or what if he gets confused or concerned about his vote counting, and sends back both? Does one or both votes count, if the election is really close? Does it matter who he voted for? Will a vote for the Torch be counted for Lautenberg? (What if some serviceman wanted to reward the Torch for his position - whatever it is - on the war? Are we now back to not caring what the soldiers think about that? That was fast.)
Question 2: Is it now too late for some third-party candidate (i.e., not the Republicans) to intervene to appeal this decision to the Supreme Court (or file a federal action, which would probably face collateral estoppel problems)? Professor Eugene Volokh (as well as Kaus and Sullivan) attacks the decision's assumption that the dispositive issue is whether the candidate dropping off the ballot leaves any "voter choice," which therefore would not apply if, say, Jesse Ventura or Ross Perot or Ralph Nader or Pat Buchanan or Bernie Sanders or Jim Jeffords dropped off the ballot (hey, do Vermont voters have choices?). A non-party generally has a real hard time intervening, but this one went straight to the Supreme Court so fast they may have had little chance to get organized. I don't have my thinking cap on that one, but if you could get around the procedural issue, it's a heck of an angle and the US Supreme Court (liberals included) would likely be much more intrigued than by some GOP protest.
Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:40 AM | Law 2002-04 | Politics 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Bitter Bobby
Bitter? Bobby Valentine's not bitter. "'Nobody in this organization has done more for the community than I have,' Valentine said. 'Steve Phillips has done nothing in the community. I went to his church for a father-son night, his church, and he was late.'"
POLITICS/SCIENCE: The Blue Party
And you thought politicians who talk until they are blue in the face was just a figure of speech.
October 2, 2002
WAR/POLITICS: At It Again
More news on the plan for a back-room deal to have party bosses replace an embattled loser.
Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:13 PM | Politics 2002-03 | War 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Bayou Coda
Rod Dreher is packing his bags for December in Louisiana to decide the fate of the Senate. Is Landrieau actually endangered? That would be news to me, but I haven't followed that race much.
LILEKS goes after the New York Times' argument that a New Jersey statute prohibiting the Democrats from substituting a new candidate on the ballot for Torricelli on the grounds that "The guiding principle should be the voters' basic right to a genuine election." As Lileks puts it:
"If the law is upheld, then “democracy” is thwarted. Really? There will be an election with a ballot whose names are the ones chosen by voters in the primary. Sounds “democratic” to me. After all, Toricelli didn’t quit because he discovered an eight-pound neoplasm in his small intestine, or had his brain turned into a fine red mist when a marble-sized meteorite from the Oort cloud struck him in a 7-11 parking lot. He’s not even under indictment. He resigned because there was such a bad odor coming from him and his campaign that actual wavy cartoon stink lines were coming off him, and the cameras were starting to pick it up. He was going to lose. So he quit."
I would add to this one more point: it's not just that Torricelli is on the ballot - he's still in the Senate. He's still voting on the budget, homeland security, judges, . . . he'll still get to vote on sending Americans to war. You ordinary schmucks back in Montvale and Camden and Weehawken won't have that privilege. Since when is it an affront to Democracy and Genuine Elections to force a party to run a living, breathing incumbent Senator for re-election?
(In a real Democracy, we could have a Genuine Election if the candidate was dead as a doornail, apparently, just not one who's dead in the polls. Where was the Times when the Republicans were stuck running Bob Dole for president?)
(By the way, the Dems aren't the only New Jersey pols who use this trick - remember when the incumbent Governor, Don DiFrancesco, got caught . . . well, being generally unpopular and unethical, and the state GOP endeavored not only to replace him on the ballot with Bob Franks, but to delay the primary and transfer all his campaign funds as well? The good news is, the primary voters saw this for the sham it was, and the supposedly Extremist Right-Wing challenger, Bret Schundler, walked off with a stunning upset that served as a bracing rebuke to the state party machine. We can hope.)
POP CULTURE: Larry King
Dave Shiflett takes Larry King to town:
"It is in fact something of a surprise when a low-life newsmaker does not show up on Larry's show, or a show like his. Back over pedestrians at a swank club, get some face time. Ditto for marrying your horse, staying stoned for six years, or for simply gobbling down wanker-enhancement pills. Profess yourself a cannibal and you might get a full hour.
Larry: So tell me, what does a human taste like?
WAR: Mixed Motives
Just a guess, but: it seems from the things I've read, at least, that the one alleged 'motive' for war with Iraq that the critics (other than Maureen Dowd) have generally shied away from attacking is the fact that Saddam ordered a hit on George W. Bush's father. Bush himself has been somewhat soft on this one as a casus belli, since while it is obviously a helpful fact in explaining why Saddam has no respect for international norms, it's equally obviously not grounds for war by itself. Still, Bush did allude to it before the U.N. and reportedly got a little more emotional about it at a GOP fund-raiser over the weekend. For Dowd, of course, interpersonal and psychological dynamics are the only reason nations would go to war, so her interest in the question is a logical next step.
But I particularly suspect that the Arab News and similar publications, who love charging America with anything but its real concerns, won't make a beef about this argument, for a very good reason: to more than a few people in the Arab world, trying to kill a man's father is about the best reason for a blood feud you could possibly have, and the more people you drag into it on your side, the better. In other words, I suspect that many people in that part of the world are likely to view this as a point in America's and Bush's favor in having good reason to go to war with Iraq, not the contrary.
October 1, 2002
BASEBALL: $#^%!&$#&! YANKEES
BASEBALL: Suddenly, Less Scoring
This is a big story: scoring was down this year, to the lowest levels since the 1993-94 explosion. I may take a look at why, when I have the time. In what may be a related story, so was attendance. The latter was most likely caused, however, by the combination of (1) no new parks (2) the Expos effect and (3) strike talk.
BASEBALL: Mister Clutch
There's just no big-game pitcher quite like Roger Clemens, is there?
LAW: Cert Watching
Supreme Court's term opens less than a week from today, and I'm already watching for cert petitions likely to be granted or denied early next week. Already, the 2002-03 term looks chock full of cases likely to have a big impact on businesses and civil litigation.
LAW: Tribe Defends Scalia!
From Instapundit, this link to a letter from Laurence Tribe, of all people, defending Justice Scalia against an op-ed piece by Sean Wilentz in (where else?) the New York Times that "grievously misrepresented" Scalia's views.
WAR: 15% Jew-Bashing
Meryl Yourish says that 15% of all U.N. resolutions have been directed at Israel.
BASEBALL: Wilpon on Phillips
Fred Wilpon to Mike & the Mad Dog this afternoon, on why he's not firing Steve Phillips even though he fired Valentine: "I thought he put good players on the field, and those players didn't perform." Wilpon also says that, with just one year on his current contract, Phillips "needs to produce" in 2003. In other words, Wilpon is behind Phillips' philosophy of bringing in salaried veterans and trying to squeeze one more year of contention out of a team that hasn't been a serious contender the last two years, and he thinks the problem is just one of motivation. Again, I thought -- given that philosophy -- Phillips made some reasonable gambles, and it's not impossible for the team to come back stronger next year, at least stronger than last place. But I firmly believe that this is a bad long-term philosophy and that the team has pressed its luck in this regard absolutely as far as it goes, and if Wilpon doesn't see that as a problem, then he's part of the problem.
The Mets' chain of command has been somewhat murky before this year. Now, Wilpon has total control over the franchise, and Phillips will have fairly strong authority over personnel decisions - if they continue down the same path, we will all know who to blame.
BASEBALL: With Bobby V Gone
More on this to come when I have more time, but here's my two cents on the Mets canning Bobby Valentine. I can't totally agree with sacking Bobby V, but somebody needs to be held accountable and the manager is at least a start. Unfortunately, the Mets are canning him with, in all likelihood, no clue of who to replace him with. Phillips should go too - he made some very high-risk moves I didn't entirely disagree with, but they blew up, and he needs to face the music. The Mets should get a guy with a new philosophy who can rebuild the farm system (I'm old enough to remember what it was like when the Mets had one).
And have Rey Ordonez deported.
And fob off Mo on some sucker.
Should the Mets hire Buck Showalter? God, I hope not. Replacing Valentine with Showalter is like if you replaced Drew Bledsoe with Ken O'Brien - if you didn't like the one, you'll really hate the other.
Upon hearing that Congressman James McDermott has been in Baghdad criticizing the Bush Administration and lauding the need to place our trust in our enemies, some of you may be asking, "McDermott . . . that name sounds familiar, doesn't it?" Here's why: you may remember McDermott as the guy who had to resign from the House Ethics committee, and was sued by Congressman John Boehner, for publishing an illegal tape recording of an internal telephone conference between House Republicans. (In a postscript, the lawsuit was ultimately rejected after the Supreme Court, in Bartnicki v. Vopper, found the provisions of the statute barring disclosures derived from illegal wiretaps to be overbroad).