Baseball Crank
"It gets late early around here." - Yogi Berra
December 30, 2002
BASEBALL: 2003 HOF Ballot

I eventually intend to get out my Hall of Fame column on Projo. Here's the Executive Summary of who I would vote for, ignoring a few of the most ridiculous candidates:

Eddie Murray - IN. No question. A major star for 7-8 years, a solid and incredibly durable and consistent producer for 18.

Gary Carter - IN. Find me ten better catchers, I dare you. Has been unfairly penalized for sticking around too long; if he'd retired after 1987 he'd have gone in a decade ago.

Bert Blyleven - IN, Jim Kaat & Tommy John OUT. You've read my take on that before; Blyleven lost more games than he should have, given his teams, but such was the fate of a #1 starter in an age of giants, and of a guy who took seriously the duty of saving the bullpen by staying late in close games. His numbers may not look much better than John's and Kaat's, but he played in a later generation, facing more DHs and never tasting the big strike zone of the sixties.

Rich Gossage - IN. Bruce Sutter, Lee Smith - OUT, for now. I'm not ready to put in a great closer with a comparably short career, or a merely good one with a very long career. If we put in Lee Smith, is John Franco a Hall of Famer? Gimme a break. But the Goose was dominant for a long time and useful for many more years, and he worked 130 innings a year at his peak. We'll never be embarrassed to see him as an immortal.

Jack Morris - OUT. Again, I could conceivably be persuaded otherwise, but Morris wasn't that great at preventing runs, which is supposed to be his job.

Jim Rice, Dale Murphy, Dave Parker, Andre Dawson - OUT. I go back and forth on Rice, who was a monster hitter for more than a decade but benefitted from a small park, wasn't a great runner or fielder, and hit into too many DPs. Murphy and Parker didn't stay on top long enough.

Dawson? Lou Brock's career OBP was .344, and he played in the pit of the Sixties. No other Hall of Fame outfielder has a career OBP below .350. Dawson's was .323. You do the math.

Alan Trammel - OUT. I put him out, while I would have voted Whitaker in, because Trammell lacked consistency and didn't get on base as much. 150 more Runs and 80 more RBI, a higher career OBP and SLG - it all adds up. Another guy I could be persuaded on.

Sandberg - IN, I think. When he was playing, Sandberg seemed like such an obvious Hall of Famer it was never really argued about. Some of that was a Wrigley illusion, and sure, he didn't walk a lot, and yes, his great seasons weren't that many. But the man was the definitive slugging second baseman back when such things didn't roam the earth, and he was a tremendous glove man.

Keith Hernandez, Steve Garvey, Don Mattingly - OUT, although I still waffle on Keith. I've covered these three before; Mattingly was a star for only a few years, Garvey had too many weaknesses and also didn't last that long at his peak.

Dave Concepcion - OUT. Done that one too - a team with Concepcion as its best player would finish no better than .500. Morgan, Bench, Rose and Perez would have won without him.

Darren Daulton - OUT. Catchers break your heart, they do. Daulton had his moments. He was a much better player than the similarly skilled Mickey Tettleton (OUT, also), since he had a throwing arm.

Sid Fernandez - OUT, but with better stuff than half the pitchers inside. He's not alone in that distinction. Fernando's OUT too, with only half a Hall of Famer's career stuck to more than a decade of an old man with no fastball. Then again, Darryl Kile should be so lucky.

Brett Butler - OUT. Closer to Cooperstown than you think, but no with power and some atrocious caught stealing figures, Butler needed to do better than his impressive .379 OBP to be an immortal.

Vince Coleman - OUT. The Kingman of steals; deserves the honor of "most steals by a non-Hall of Famer." Assuming the voters don't screw Tim Raines (who ought to go in as a no-brainer), that is.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:39 PM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: The Southern Strategy

I don't usually link to Pat Buchanan, but Pitchfork Pat was present at the creation of Nixon's 'Southern Strategy,' and he has a few words for its critics:

Richard Nixon kicked off his historic comeback in 1966 with a column on the South (by this writer) that declared we would build our Republican Party on a foundation of states rights, human rights, small government and a strong national defense, and leave it to the "party of Maddox, Mahoney and Wallace to squeeze the last ounces of political juice out of the rotting fruit of racial injustice." In that '66 campaign, Nixon -- who had been thanked personally by Dr. King for his help in passing the Civil Rights Act of 1957 -- endorsed all Republicans, except members of the John Birch Society. In 1968, Nixon chose Spiro Agnew for V.P. Why? Agnew had routed George ("You're home is your castle!") Mahoney for governor of Maryland but had also criticized civil-rights leaders who failed to condemn the riots that erupted after the assassination of King. The Agnew of 1968 was both pro-civil rights and pro-law and order.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:41 PM | Politics 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Shrewd Pickups; Francisco Cordero

A few shrewd pickups this week: the Mets bring on Rey Sanchez, who's a better, cheaper, more versatile and friendlier version of Rey Ordonez; the Blue Jays, not coincidentally the one team with a Baseball Prospectus alum in the front office, pick up the multitalented Frank Catalanotto (although I'm less thrilled about the salary-cutting expedient of putting Catalanotto in the outfield to replace Jose Cruz jr.); and the Rangers bring aboard Esteban Yan, a good arm who should be a useful setup man.

Strangely, the ESPN report on the Yan signing says that Francisco Cordero "could be ready to take over as a closer by" 2004. Cordero converted 10 of 12 save opportunities on the season and posted a 1.79 ERA, striking out 41 batters while allowing just 46 baserunners in 45.1 IP. After June 1, he was 2-0, 10 of 11 in saves, 0.47 ERA, 38 IP, 25 H, 0 HR (you read that right - none), 8 BB, 38 K. Four months, 33 games, ten saves in eleven tries, two runs allowed. Cordero will be ready to close before Uggie Urbina is.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:51 PM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASKETBALL: ojmayo.org

Yes, of course prep sensation O.J. Mayo has his own website. Doesn't every seventh grader have a jazzy website extolling his virtues these days? All that's missing is Sir Robin's minstrels.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:37 PM | Basketball | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
LAW: A Jackass By Any Other Name

A gentleman by the name of Jack Ass is suing over harm to his reputation from the movie "Jackass." I kid you not - read his affidavit (the best part may be the request for $10 million in damages). (Link via Howard Bashman)

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:36 PM | Law 2002-04 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Steyn on Barry

The incomparable Mark Steyn: the "sub-Carvillian hit-job on Trent Lott's replacement, Bill Frist, is even more pathetic than usual, resting as it does on the notion that attacking Marion Barry is an obvious 'racial code.' If Democrats really want to take the view that an incompetent crackhead is beyond criticism because of his race, then feel free."

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:36 PM | Politics 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
WAR: Unfinished Tales in Louisiana

Rod Dreher at NRO has a creepy anecdote without an ending.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:34 PM | War 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POP CULTURE: Enter The Hobbits

How can you resist clicking on a story headlined "Hobbits Whup Leonardo DiCaprio's Ass"? Unfortunately, the attached story is just box office receipts, not an action video. Still, it's an interesting mental picture.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:33 PM | Pop Culture | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
December 29, 2002
WAR/POLITICS: Rangel's Grandstand

Charles Rangel calls for a return to mandatory military service. Now, I don't dismiss out of hand the possibility that this may be necessary at some point, although it doesn't seem at the moment that a lack of manpower is our primary national security problem. But Rangel doesn't even pretend to be talking about national security needs:

The Korean War veteran has accused the Bush administration and some fellow lawmakers of being too willing to go to war with Iraq. . . . "When you talk about a war, you're talking about ground troops, you're talking about enlisted people, and they don't come from the kids and members of Congress," he said. "I think, if we went home and found out that there were families concerned about their kids going off to war, there would be more cautiousness and a more willingness to work with the international community than to say, 'Our way or the highway.'"

This captures perfectly why people don't trust the Democrats, as a party, to deal seriously with wartime issues. Rangel wants to make a political point, and in many ways a racial point (he 'explained' his vote against war with Iraq as being based on the fact that there were too many African-Americans in the military) - and to do it at the expense of having a serious policy on national security. Disgraceful. And, of course, a racially charged argument like this is a hand grenade thrown into the foxholes of the various Democratic political contenders, most of whom will likely show the courage of their convictions by trying to ignore it.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:04 PM | Politics 2002-03 • | War 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
December 23, 2002
BLOG: Merry Christmas

With Christmas upon us, it's time to cut back the blog for the next two weeks; I'll be blogging either sporadically or not at all between now and January 3 or so. Merry Christmas, and a happy and healthy New Year to all!

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:55 AM | Blog 2002-05 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: "State-funded Jew-hating Canadians"

Mark Steyn with a great column on David Ahenakew, the Native Canadian "leader" whose pro-Hitler remarks have provided a mirror image on the Trent Lott controversy for the left north of the border:

Re-run the video of Strom Thurmond's birthday party: After the usual Viagra and Hooters gags, Senator Lott says he's proud his state voted for Strom in 1948. There's a bit of nervous laughter -- it's audibly different from the Viagra yuks -- because the crowd can sense this is a step in a direction most of them don't want to go. Strom himself has long since disavowed his segregationist past. And then Lott goes and says, if Strom had won, we wouldn't have had all these problems we'd had over the years. And that nervous laughter dies. You can hear an intake of breath. The audience understands a line has been crossed.

Nothing like that happened at that FSIN meeting. Mr. Ahenakew was supposed to be addressing health issues but lurched off instead into his historical digression. And the crowd took it in their stride, as if it's perfectly routine for their "respected elders" to start droning on about how the Jews started the Second World War. The sense of when a code has been breached is very important to a society's health. Senator Lott did not call for the return of lynching. He didn't say that the sight of those fellows hanging from trees taught an important lesson to uppity Nigras. But, even so, his audience understood. Mr. Ahenakew's didn't, and that speaks poorly for them, and their grubby third-rate leaders . . . FSIN Vice-Chief Lawrence Joseph blames the media: "It's f---ing garbage. What was your intent to print that story?" he told the paper. "It should not have even been pursued."

* * *

State-funded Jew-hating Syrians are pro-Syrian. But state-funded Jew-hating Canadians, like Mr. Ahenakew, hate Canada, too. What a fine testament to our tolerance: Our intolerant bigots are intolerant even of us, and we don't mind! In fact, we encourage it! Fire on law enforcement, and we back away, promising to be more "sensitive" in our policing. The Supreme Court of Canada in its April 23rd 1999 ruling that judges must pay "particular attention to the circumstances of aboriginal offenders" all but formalized the de facto two-tier justice system. If Mr. Ahenakew ever did get to "fry" six million Jews, the Supreme Court would rule the Nuremberg war crimes tribunal an infringement of his aboriginal rights and insist that he can only be brought before a First Nations "sentencing circle."

Kathleen Parker, on the other hand, notes that at least in the U.S., hate speech like Mr. Ahenakew's is legal - and why that's a good thing.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:51 AM | Politics 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POP CULTURE: ROCKIN' THE CASBAH NO MORE

Joe Strummer, lead singer of The Clash, has died at 50 of an apparent heart attack.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:34 AM | Pop Culture | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
WAR: W Farda

I hope you didn't miss President Bush's latest statement directly to the captive people of Iran in an address on "Radio Farda." Bush's words are too few in this fight, but the message has nonetheless been unmistakable. The Iranian people know he stands for freedom and against their brutal government. Meanwhile, good to see Newsweek running an anti-mullah piece by Fareed Zakaria.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:33 AM | War 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: The Crime Dog Collared

The Dodgers have significantly upgraded at first base by replacing Eric Karros, who is finished as an everyday player, with Fred McGriff. The Crime Dog is old and his future is probably short, but he can still hit and he keeps himself in good shape. Meanwhile, the Mets have been humiliated once again. When the Yankees announce that they are going after a guy like Hideki Matsui, it's as good as done - nobody else even gets in the way. The Mets, though, wound up botching the announcement of Norihiro Nakamura's apparent signing, and now they're back to plan W (Ty Wigginton) at third base.

Oh well, maybe they can trade Glavine for Kevin Millwood . . .

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:31 AM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
December 21, 2002
BASEBALL: Think Floyd

I like the Mets' signing of Cliff Floyd, although I probably shouldn't, given his gruesome injury history. Of course, the overall strategy of trying to win NOW still stinks, but in the context of that strategy, at least Floyd is in his prime and a truly outstanding hitter (Chief Nakamura seems to fit the same description).

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:22 AM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
December 20, 2002
BASEBALL: Looking A Gift Ace In The Mouth

I've said before that the buyer of Braves pitchers should beware. That goes double when the Braves all but give away a guy like Kevin Millwood to a division rival for weak-hitting Johnny Estrada after a good year by the 27-year-old Millwood. Yeah, the Braves had to dump somebody with six starting pitchers aboard, but would they trade Millwood to the team that is likely to be their chief rival for the NL East if they thought he was 100% healthy?

Then again, Mac Thomason has the Braves fan reaction.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:37 PM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Chief Nakamura

Mets sign Nakamura. Here are his actual stats. Am I the only one who thinks we should call him Chief Nakamura?

Posted by Baseball Crank at 2:09 PM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Davenport Translations From Japan

Clay Davenport's translations, courtesy of the Baseball Prospectus, of Japanese league stats from 1997-2001 for new Hated Yankees outfielder Hideki "Godzilla" Matsui, now age 29:

Year---Avg/OBP/Slg
1997--.278/.396/.528
1998--.276/.402/.538
1999--.277/.392/.572
2000--.305/.430/.627
2001--.313/.442/.586
5 Yrs-.290/.413/.570

Likely new Mets 3B Norihiro Nakamura, also 29:

1997--.248/.327/.451
1998--.267/.359/.508
1999--.276/.367/.513
2000--.285/.376/.590
2001--.333/.432/.639
5 yrs--.283/.374/.543

Matsui looks like the better hitter, but Nakamura has been rising in recent years, and may well justify the Mets' decision to let Edgardo Alfonzo go. I like the bold move on the part of both teams.

(Check Davenport's full report for more detailed stats and his projections on other hitters)

Posted by Baseball Crank at 1:30 PM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: The Great White Defendant

The Trent Lott saga is over, a week after it should have ended, as Lott steps down as Majority Leader but will remain in the Senate. The finishing blow for Lott seems to have been the decision by one of his two chief rivals, conservative stalwart Don Nickles, to throw his support behind the White House's favored candidate, outgoing National Republican Senate Committee Chairman Bill Frist. Our good friend Larry said about a week ago that Lott would last until today, so he gets the prognosticator's prize.

In a way, the conservative furor over Lott reminds me of Tom Wolfe's Bonfire of the Vanities, in which he talks about cops and prosecutors in the Bronx, sick of taking race-related heat for prosecuiting so many African-Americans and Latinos, and their excitement at finally getting their hands on "the Great White Defendant." I've about beaten this issue to death here - I'm hoping to "move on," like the man said - but a lot of the visceral reaction from conservatives was the opportunity to show that we are not, in fact, the racist lynch mob that the Democrats and their media allies would have people believe. And how better to prove that - and also, how better to prove that we're not like the sycophantic Democrats who rallied around Clinton when he finally got caught - than to take down one of our own?

As to the likely new Majority Leader, my all time favorite Frist quote is from the press conference when he took over the NRSC two years ago:

"I spent every day for twenty years waking up, training in the morning, working through about every other night for one thing, and that is to be within forty-five seconds, within forty-five seconds, to be able to cut out the human heart." After some uncertain laughter among his leadership colleagues, Frist added, "Under anesthesia."

Funny how this controversy, like most other political and international controversies over the past three years, has worked itself out exactly the way George W. Bush wanted it to. Branch Rickey - whose fingerprints are also on this particular controversy, if you think about it - used to say that "Luck is the residue of design." Bush gets lucky way too often to assume that it's coincidental.

Meanwhile, Drudge picked up on a report of a Democratic Senator with kind words for someone much worse than Strom Thurmond circa 1948. Will this story have legs? Probably not, especially coming the Friday before Christmas, but it's a nice reminder of the kind of thinking that does not deserve to hold responsible positions of authority.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:44 AM | Politics 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
December 19, 2002
BLOG: Inside Blogball

This is as inside-blogball as it gets, but at the bottom of the page I have a script that tells me where visitors are coming from, if 2 or more come here from the same page in 24 hours. Today, I noticed a bunch of visitors from Dr. Manhattan's Blissful Knowledge page, which has a permalink to this site. I checked his site to see if he'd mentioned something here today, but no. Then I'm cruising on Instapundit's site, and lo and behold - a link to Dr. Manhattan! It was the extra traffic (the "Instalanche," as it's known) from Instaman's site that provided spillover traffic here.

However you arrived here, welcome.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:11 PM | Blog 2002-05 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Theo Cheney

Baseball Prospectus' interview with Red Sox owner John Henry reminds me that Theo Epstein got the GM job through what we might call the Dick Cheney principle: Epstein was a big part of the search committee, and when the Sox couldn't pick someone from the major candidates, they realized that the guy they wanted had been sitting at the table all along.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:37 PM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: The Weekly Standard on Lott

The Weekly Standard, doing its share of the all-Lott-all-the-time routine, has two priceless quotes.

Frederick Douglass: "There never was yet, and there never will be, an instance of permanent success where a party abandons its righteous principles to win favor of the opposing party."

On Jan. 28, 1931, in the House of Commons, Winston Churchill expressed his disgust at Ramsey MacDonald's government: "I remember, when I was a child, being taken to the celebrated Barnum's Circus, which contained an exhibition of freaks and monstrosities, but the exhibit on the program which I most desired to see was the one described as the 'Boneless Wonder.' My parents judged that the spectacle would be too revolting and demoralizing to my youthful eye, and I have waited 50 years to see the Boneless Wonder sitting on the Treasury Bench."

Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:20 PM | Politics 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POP CULTURE: Big Trouble

My wife and I rented "Big Trouble" recently. You may remember what happened to this movie - it was made from a hysterically funny first novel by Dave Barry (the book was funnier than I expected, and I had pretty high expectations given that Barry is the funniest man alive), but because the plot revolved around a nuclear bomb on the loose in an American city (well, Miami, anyway), the film's projected release in fall 2001 had to be pushed back to the spring, and the movie bombed (so to speak) at the box office.

Go rent it. It's not as good as the book - it's always hard to live up to the book - but it's mostly faithful to the book and a very funny film. It's also wall to wall with familiar faces - Tom Sizemore from 'Saving Private Ryan,' Janeane Garafolo, Stanley Tucci from 'Big Night,' Puddy from Sienfeld, Dennis Farina from 'Crime Story', Andy Richter from the Conan O'Brien show - which is one reason I'm sure the studio was crushed that it failed. Tim Allen actually has surprisingly little comedic heavy lifting to do as the star; he mostly plays the straight man. In a way, we've moved on to living with the terrorist threat to the point where maybe it's not so bad to laugh at the dark humor of 'Big Trouble.' If you can get past that, it's a very funny movie.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:26 PM | Pop Culture | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Zeile For The Bronx

I have to consider Todd Zeile a good pickup for the Yanks. Zeile's finished as a regular, but he's basically the same player as Coomer at this point, except that he walks more, plus he's a good clubhouse guy and a Torre guy. They didn't really overpay for him either; it's a 1-year deal, and while you could get a young player to do about 80% as good a job for a quarter of the money, the Yankees have the money to spend and are in contention.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:03 AM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Yeah, More On Lott

Conservatives and Republicans are right to be indignant at Lott, and we're now seeing examples of precisely why.

EXHIBIT A: You knew if the race cards were being played somewhere, Bill Clinton would pull up a chair and say, "deal me in and I'll raise you."

Read More »


Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:52 AM | Politics 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Bush's Trumpet

America's news service, the Voice of America, carries the Bush vs. Trent Lott story to the world - but note the headline here: "Bush Rebukes Senate Leader Over Racially Sensitive Remarks." Shouldn't it be racially insensitive remarks?

Another sign of bad news for Lott - I get the RNC's "eChampions" emails, and the latest one (Friday) prominently touted Bush's rebuke to Lott (but said nothing about Lott's apologies). When your own party is looking to get distance from you in its mailings to party faithful, that's bad news.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:01 AM | Politics 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BUSINESS: WSJ Corrupted By Clinton Crony!

The NY Post has an interesting critique of the corporate ethics of Dow Jones, parent company of The Wall Street Journal. Ironic that the Journal gets criticized for the ethical failing of having a Clinton crony (Vernon Jordan) on its board.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:58 AM | Business | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Trent McCain

Trent Lott's BET appearance, embracing affirmative action in its every form and effectively promising to support reparations for slavery, is his McCain moment. McCain is still a Republican in many ways, and belongs in the GOP caucus. I voted for him in the primaries, and I'm still not convinced he would not have made a good president himself. But McCain is totally unfit to be Majority Leader because remorse over the Keating Five scandal has driven him to crusade against his own party's position on a significant issue - campaign financing - which in turn has led him to fall in with his new ideological bedfellows on other issues of greater public importance.

Lott's new embrace of racial preferences and the like may well be a sham - it probably is - but Republicans can't run the risk of being led by another McCain, a guy who pours buckets of boiling scorn on his own party out of guilt.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:55 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)
December 17, 2002
BASEBALL: Boccabella

OK, Tom Verducci earns a link just for the gratuitous John Boccabella reference.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:39 PM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Helms and Evolution

One guy the Braves won't miss is Wes Helms, picked up by (of course) the Brew Crew, the masters of mediocrity. I tell you, if baseball was truly Darwinian, the Brewers would be stuffed in a museum by now.

And the Mets would be sinking into the tar pits.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:36 PM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Byrd Lands

I like Paul Byrd - I'm a sucker for guys with pinpoint control. So naturally I was grinding my teeth when the Braves signed him. Maybe they all won't work out, but adding Byrd, Hampton and Ortiz should give Atlanta fans some comfort that the rotation won't disintegrate without Glavine and maybe Maddux, and Smoltz won't be stretched beyond his bullpen role.

Why do I suspect that the Braves aren't paying Byrd a whole lot more than the Mets gave Mike Frickin' Stanton? Not that Stanton's necessarily a terrible pickup - I have my concerns, though - but three years, nine million dollars for a setup man, when they had to let Alfonzo and Steve Reed go to save money?

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:33 PM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Freed!

Naturally, I love the Red Sox and A's pickups of Jeremy Giambi and Erubiel Durazo. With their defensive and health problems, both are ideally suited to DH on teams deep enough to run someone else who can hit out there when they aren't healthy. It's a good fit, and with Mark Grace and Jim Thome under contract, neither guy was going to get playing time. Durazo now fills the John Jaha role in Oakland. On the other hand, adding both Giambi and Todd Walker . . . well, both are good players, and cheap, but both share some weaknesses, which is to say everything but hitting righthanded pitching. (Well, actually Giambi can hit lefties too, although he's tended to be platooned in the past).

Is Giambi the Bruce Chen of hitters?

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:27 PM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Caveat Emptor

Not sure I exactly understand this Russ Ortiz for Damain Moss deal, other than that it appears to be driven by the Giants dumping salary. The two pitchers are not terribly different in quality; Ortiz has more experience and is more of a known quantity, Moss is lefthanded and if healthy has a bigger upside. There are signs for concern: Ortiz' K rate was way down this year, while Moss gave up too many walks and home runs to sustain an ERA in the mid-threes unless he shows improvement. But both are basically guys who are likely to be productive pitchers but could go either way in any given season.

IF healthy, I say of Moss. The health and performance record of pitchers traded away or let go by the Braves is pretty grim - Neagle, Avery, Mercker, Lilliquist, Jason Schmidt, John Burkett, Bielecki (twice), Terrell Wade, Clontz, Chen, Pete Smith, Rocker, Russ Springer, Andy Ashby . . . it's not an unbroken record; Chen pitched OK for the rest of the year before coming unglued, while Schmidt and Lilliquist recovered to become useful pitchers after initial struggles. Paul Byrd and Odalis Perez became All-Stars, and Mike Stanton's done just fine. And a few of those guys (particularly if you include Mark Wohlers) started struggling before they left Atlanta. Still, the overall picture very strongly suggests a team you shouldn't deal with for pitching.

(See, I nearly made it all the way through the post without slamming the T__ G______ signing).

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:15 PM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
December 16, 2002
WAR: The Glorious Clinton Legacy

More from the Institute for Revisionist History. The more stuff like this Clinton says, the more it makes sense why his Vice President doesn't want to run on the Clinton/Gore record on the war on terror. Bottom line: it does no good to say you had a plan and didn't do much about it, when you were the top dog.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:54 PM | War 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Gooooose

If there's one reliever on this year's Hall of Fame ballot who deserves to be elected, it's Goose Gossage. One little useful fact: from 1977 to 1984, an 8-year span, the Goose's teams exceeded their "Pythagorean Projections" - the number of games they'd be expected to win based on their runs scored and allowed - by 21 games, almost 3 full games a year. The biggest effects came, generally, in some of the seasons when the Goose pitched the most - 1977, 1980, 1984. Dan Quisenberry has a similar, even more impressive record: for the six seasons of his prime, from 1980 to 1985, the Royals exceeded their Pythagorean record by 20 games. Bruce Sutter's teams exceeded their Pythagorean records by 19 games over 9 years (1976-84), although the biggest damage (+7) was done when he was a rookie setup man; the numbers break down to +16 for his first three seasons and +3 for the next 6 years when he was mostly used in save situations, albeit with a much heavier workload than the modern closer. Does this prove anything? Logically, you expect teams with great bullpens to win the close ones. It's noteworthy in Gossage's case that the biggest seasons were the ones when he was paired with other good relievers (Kent Tekulve, Ron Davis). I think some studies have shown a slight overall effect for teams with good bullpens (witness the Braves this year), but at a minimum, it's an extra feather in a guy's cap if his team won an unusual number of close games when he owned the 8th and 9th innings.

Lee Smith? -8 games from 1982 to 1995. I don't hold Smith responsible for that, but it's another fact suggesting that his impact on his teams was less significant than guys like Gossage and the Quiz who threw 100-135 IP a year with ERAs in the low 2s and the 1s.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:39 PM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BLOG: Baseball Blogging

Maybe it's just me, but I find it harder to make a battery of casual blog entries about baseball than politics, despite having much to say about the former. I think it's because politics lends itself more to straight-out application of opinion, logic and principle - at least the issues I tend to talk about often do, and I tend to shy away from the fact-based heavy lifting, beyond easily checked stuff like debate transcripts and vote totals. On baseball, though, I'm more inclined to assume that people read my stuff looking for harder-edged analysis with citations to the evidence, and it's harder to find the time to do that on my schedule. It's ironic, really.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:28 PM | Blog 2002-05 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Lott Critics In The Open

National Review publishes an open letter from the incoming Republican majority leader of the Colorado state senate, calling for Trent Lott to be replaced. His conclusion: "I can't forget my experience 30 years ago during Watergate. As a young Nixon staffer torn between partisan defensiveness and principle, I learned the importance of not letting ourselves be paralyzed from holding our own leaders to a high standard, merely because we are so offended by the motives and methods of those on the other side who are howling for blood. The hypocrisy of Lott's enemies in no way excuses the wrongness of his statements. Republicans can find a better Majority Leader. We should do so."

What the writer neglects to mention - though as a Watergate-era staffer he must remember it - is that while many GOP leaders took sides against Nixon in that battle, one of the GOP congressmen on the House committee to vote consistently against the would-be impeachers was Mississippi congressman . . . Trent Lott. Of course, Lott wasn't the only one; George H.W. Bush and Bob Dole were also among the bitter-enders defending Nixon. But the parallel is telling: in 1973, Lott didn't know when it was time to tell a Republican president when to leave, and in 1998, he wasn't willing to pitch a battle to tell a Democratic president when to leave. In 2002, he hasn't shown any awareness that it's his time to leave.

(UPDATE: Dave Kopel's companion piece on NRO points this out as well, noting that Lott did eventually vote to convict Clinton after having hobbled his trial, and noting that Thurmond did the same after having defended Nixon to the bitterest end).

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:52 PM | Politics 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
LAW: Over The Line

Regardless of who you believe in this particular dispute, it's heartening to note that, in the law, there can be consequences to overheated rhetoric. It's one reason why I love my job: few things are more fun than using your adversary's own words to hang them.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:25 AM | Law 2002-04 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: More albatross hunting

More albatross hunting: Glenn Reynolds on Henry Kissinger and Michael Bellesiles plus a roundup including links to a funny take on Gore.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:07 AM | Politics 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: HALLELUJAH! FREE AT LAST!

THE CURSE HAS BEEN LIFTED, THE STONE REMOVED, THE LIGHT HATH COME SHINING THROUGH ON THE WARM GREEN GRASS! HOPE SHALL SPRING AGAIN!

This weekend was open season on albatrosses, and I'll have more on the rest later (for starters, Andrew Sullivan has some good shots at Al Gore, Trent Lott and Cardinal Law). But I loved the opening of the NY Daily News' writeup on the most indefensible of the bunch:

Rey Ordoñez's late-September declaration that Mets fans are "stupid" proved to be his final act as a member of the team. The shortstop was dealt last night to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, a team short on fans.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:42 AM | Baseball 2002-03 • | Politics 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Failing To Hustle

Rob Neyer on the ESPN poll on Pete Rose:

Skipping to Question No. 5, "What is the worst transgression in baseball?" presents four choices. And this is where I lost some hope, because here are the results:

Betting on baseball games 19.5%
Failing to hustle 21.0%
Using steroids 28.7%
Using cocaine 30.8%

Our time on this earthly sphere is finite, so I won't bother arguing that anybody who voted for "Failing to hustle" over "Betting on baseball games" is a stark raving lunatic. If you actually believe this, I've already lost you.

Well, maybe, Rob. But maybe some of those people noticed a critical absence from the poll: throwing games. If some people thought that what Swede Risberg and Lefty Williams did falls closer to "Failing to hustle" than to "Betting on baseball games" (after all, the Black Sox didn't wager on the series; they were paid to lay down), I'm not gonna argue with them. I've beaten this point near to death by this stage, but there is a difference, just like there's a difference between taking huge campaign contributions from people interested in your decisions and actively selling those decisions for sacks of cash.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:19 AM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: The Real Al Gore

It's the real Al Gore!

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:00 AM | Politics 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Dicks For Trent

Somehow, the fact that Dick Morris vouches for Trent Lott ("I have known Lott for 15 years and have had, perhaps, a hundred or more meetings with him. I got to know him better than any American politician other than Bill Clinton") doesn't help. Morris on Strom: "His current senility is a vast improvement."

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:10 AM | Politics 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Behind the Singing Senators

VH1's "Behind the Music" should get to work on The Singing Senators. Even Milli Vanilli didn't break up this spectacularly.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:31 AM | Politics 2002-03 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
December 13, 2002
POLITICS: Paging Senator Freud

Lord knows I'm no fan of Al Gore, but the opening paragraph of this item is just a horrendous piece of pop-psychoanalysis masquerading as a 'news' article:

Al Gore, the defeated presidential candidate in 2000, has indicated to friends he is to abandon the quest to become president that his domineering father urged on him as a child.

Indeed, one of the reasons why Gore thinks the media has a conservative bias is because the media in general have been very hard on Al Gore. In most cases fairly, I should add; in some cases unfairly and in others too soft on Gore by a long shot. But Gore's perspective on the media is first and foremost shaped by how they treat him.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:50 PM | Politics 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS/LAW: The Lott Fallout

The National Review Online continues its saturation coverage of the Trent Lott story with a blaringly headlined editorial calling on Lott to resign as Republican Senate leader, and noting that NR had called for Lott's head four years ago. The succinct statement of Lott's moral culpability:

Minority leader Tom Daschle's initial reaction . . . to Lott's remarks was essentially sound — Lott misspoke. But Lott misspoke in a particular way, one freighted with symbolic significance. Many southern whites of a certain generation have a shameful past on civil-rights issues. This doesn't necessarily make them reprehensible people, or mean that they are racists today. But, when they are public figures, it is reasonable to expect from them an honest reckoning with their past, and, of course, an awareness that a reckoning is necessary.

This is basically the same point the Supreme Court seemed to be leaning towards making in the cross-burning arguments this week: sometimes, words and symbols have a history, and you invoke that history at your peril. That's why being a Nazi is merely scorned in the United States, but illegal in Germany.

The Wall Street Journal also essentially asks Lott to step down. It's not entirely accurate, as the Journal suggests, to say that conservatives led the charge against Lott's remarks, but certainly many more conservatives outside of politics piled on the issue early than did liberals in journalism or the other usual sites of outrage. The Journal also strangely suggests that John Kerry has been the most vocal of the Democrats' presidential hopefuls on this, which he hasn't; to his credit, albeit with his usual smarmy overstatement, Al Gore was 'fustest with the mostest' in this fight. Peggy Noonan also has a wonderful column accusing Lott of playing the race card and telling him to go; it's worth reading in its entirety.

On the legal front, I have to think the number one casualty of the Lott brouhaha is Charles Pickering. George W. Bush has suggested that some of the judicial nominees killed in committee - namely, Priscilla Owen, the Fifth Circuit nominee who became a key issue in the Texas Senate campaign - would be revived, and with Pickering's son elected to the House from Mississippi and Lott stepping back up as majority leader, it seemed like Pickering would be back too. But Pickering is a white Mississippian, he was charged with racial 'insensitivity,' he was basically sponsored by Lott, and in the current circumstances, that combination will almost certainly make him too hot to handle. It's unfair to him, but that's the way it goes; at least he's still got that life tenure as a US District Judge.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:14 PM | Law 2002-04 • | Politics 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Lott Is Toast?

Drudge is reporting that Trent Lott has scheduled a 4:30 press conference today in Pascagoula Mississippi. Looks like Instaman's prediction of a Friday afternoon resignation is gonna come through on the nose. Politicians tend to announce things like this on their home turf.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:42 AM | Politics 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Mary Matalin Out

Mary Matalin is leaving the White House. With her ties to the disastrous Bush/Quayle '92 campaign and her marriage to James Carville, Matalin has always been viewed with some suspicion by conservatives. She seems personally likeable, but she will not be missed.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:57 AM | Politics 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Clutch Enough

If you had a pitcher with these stats in the regular season:

28 G, 2.80 ERA, 176.2 IP, 165 H, 43 BB, 116 K

You'd say the guy was pretty damn good, especially these days, especially if ALL his starts were big games against playoff teams. If I told you that he went 11-12 (with 1 save) in those 28 games, you'd probably recognize that he'd just had some hard luck.

That's Greg Maddux's playoff record since coming to Atlanta (he did get clobbered in his first playoff series with the Cubs in 1989 at age 23, but the overall ERA is still 3.23). He's been consistent, too - even in samples as small as 6 innings, Maddux has had an ERA of 3.00 or better in 14 of his last 16 playoff serieses. Granted, Maddux's overall record in Atlanta is better than that - in fact, his overall record since 1988 is 265-134 (.664 winning %) with a 2.68 ERA - but that's nothing to be ashamed of. Somehow, though, people seem to think of him as a playoff underachiever.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:53 AM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POP CULTURE: Lileks Goes Christmas Shopping

Lileks goes Christmas shopping with his toddler daughter: "[W]e went down to the children’s book section of Barnes and Noble. I was looking for gift ideas; she seemed to like the Curious George backpack - it looks as if the little fellow is clinging to your back. Very cute. It would be different if he had red eyes and sharp teeth, of course; if the bag looked like that, I’d train Gnat to run around screaming whenever she put it on, shouting GED OFF! GED OFF MONKEY! Just for fun."

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:25 AM | Pop Culture | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
December 12, 2002
WAR: Five US Soldiers Killed

Five US soldiers killed in a Black Hawk helicopter crash in Honduras. Take a moment of silent prayer in their memory and in thanks for their service.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:25 PM | War 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Trent Lott Pig-Pile

The Trent Lott pig-pile continues, with the President jumping aboard. Now TIME magazine reports that Lott fought successfully as a college student to keep his fraternity segregated. It's time to step down.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:25 PM | Politics 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Trent Lott on the Brain

OK, I've had Trent Lott on the brain this week - as Rick Brookhiser points out on NRO, Justice Thomas' comments were probably triggered in part by the same thing - but I've got to pass on the link you can use to do something, especially if (like me) you are in a state with no GOP senators. (In fact, New York borders on five other states, four of which also have no GOP senators). You can send a message to the RNC here. Here's what I wrote:

Read More »


Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:22 PM | Politics 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
LAW: Thus Sayeth Justice Thomas

Here's advice I'm not good at following: when you speak infrequently, your words carry more weight. This account of yesterday;s oral argument in the Supreme Court on the constitutionality of a law banning cross-burning suggests that rare comments by Justice Clarence Thomas at oral argument - castigating the Justice Department for taking too narrow a position in defending the law rather than making explicit the unique symbolism of cross-burning as a trigger to terrorism against African-Americans - made a deep impact on the tenor of the entire argument. (Link via How Appealing).

UPDATE: Slate Court-watcher Dahlia Lithwick has the definitive, and sidesplittingly funny, account of this case; she notes that "Some of the alleged cross-burners in this case were either too drunk, racist, or stupid to actually set a wooden cross on fire, even with the help of lighter fluid." And this:

Out of nowhere booms the great, surprising "Luke-I-am-your-father" voice of He Who Never Speaks. Justice Clarence Thomas suddenly asks a question and everyone's head pops up and starts looking madly around, like the Muppets on Veterinarian Hospital. "Aren't you understating the effects ... of 100 years of lynching?" he booms. "This was a reign of terror, and the cross was a sign of that. ... It is unlike any symbol in our society. It was intended to cause fear, terrorize."

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:10 PM | Law 2002-04 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Lott Loses Ground; Who's Friedman?

Jeff Jacoby has a good column on Trent Lott. But he's hardly alone, even (or especially) among conservative commentators; Instapundit has a lot of the links, but they're damn near everywhere on the Right and among the blogs. More interesting is this American Prowler item, which is the first sign that Republicans on Capitol Hill may be getting the message. (Black conservatives have also been on the march; see here). Meanwhile, the New York Times continues ignoring the story, while its columnists argue that dumping Lott is pointless because all Republicans are Dixiecrats at heart. This type of smear job is precisely why so many conservatives, Republicans, and conservative fellow-travelers (i.e., guys like Glenn Reynolds and Andrew Sullivan who lean conservative on more issues than not) have gone ballistic on this issue: because it gives ammunition to people who want to argue that we are all Jim Crow Dixiecrats in disguise. That's personal, and it's deeply offensive.

I saw on the CNN crawl on Saturday, "Bush picks Friedman to head Council of Economic Advisers" and the only Friedman I could think of was Milton. Who's perfect for the job, except he's about 93 years old.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:20 AM | Politics 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS/LAW: Just What Bush Needs

Questions about his new pick for SEC chairman. Of course, virtually anybody who's been a corporate CEO has been named in a class-action lawsuit, and believe you me, the fact that such a lawsuit is filed - by itself - is absolutely no reason to believe that there has been wrongdoing. I didn't have a high opinion of securities class actions when I was in law school, but after practicing in this area for more than six years, I've often been shocked at how little merit is behind many claims.

Of course, pointed questions about the issue are perfectly fair game; we don't need any unpleasant surprises. And I'm not, myself, familiar with the lawsuit in question. But the favorable quote from Chuck Schumer in this story seems to support the idea that Donaldson is not really in any trouble at this point.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:10 AM | Law 2002-04 • | Politics 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Rose Redux

It will not surprise long-time readers that I'm totally against lifting the ban on Pete Rose, apology or no apology. Click here for my comments on Derek Zumsteg's reading of the Dowd Report and here for my full-length argument on why Rose (but not Shoeless Joe Jackson) should be in the Hall of Fame but never let back into organized baseball.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:35 AM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Hilary!

Click here if you want to express your support for Hillary Clinton as a presidential candidate.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:21 AM | Politics 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Guerrero For Sale?

In what could be the biggest fire sale since the Cleveland Spiders dumped Cy Young and Jesse Burkett and Louisville traded Honus Wagner and Fred Clarke on their way out of the National League, the Expos may be shopping Vladimir Guerrero (along with Bartolo Colon, Jose Vidro and Javier Vasquez). Memo to Steve Phillips: Give the Expos a blank piece of paper and tell them to write in as many names as they want. Nobody in the Mets organization, no ten players, are as valuable as Guerrero at this stage.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:21 AM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Six Degrees of Jesse Orosco

You knew it was coming: six degrees of separation from Cap Anson to Jesse Orosco! The "how old is Jesse Orosco" jokes just never get old. I mean, I remember when I was entering my teenage years and the Mets got good for the first time. Nearly all the young players on that team are gone now - but Jesse was a veteran already, and seen as over the hill when the Mets let him go after the 1987 season. I can reach the beginnings of my baseball memories to the late 70s and those awful, awful Mets teams - and Orosco was on those, too. After failing in his first shot in 1979, he went back to the minors for almost two years, a long time when you are an 8-year-old fan, so when he arrived on the scene again in 1981, my basic reaction was, "Jesse Orosco? Remember him? I thought he went away years ago."

That was 1981.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:03 AM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
December 10, 2002
WAR: But Does He Have The Kung Fu Grip?

You can't make this stuff up: the Osama bin Laden action figure! Actually, I bet he'd sell well in the US, but not for the same reasons.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:55 PM | War 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Bush and Lott

PejmanPundit thinks that Bush has to stay out of the Senate Republicans' hair in deciding whether to dump Trent Lott. I agree that there are risks, and Bush needs to avoid being too publicly associated with a dump-Lott move, but he can clearly make a major difference by signalling privately the importance to the national party of replacing Lott.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:16 PM | Politics 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Less Krug Is More

Daniel Drezner on Paul Krugman: "His effect on [public] discourse would be more positive if he contributed less frequently." I couldn't agree more. Today's column by Krugman, though, is a sample of what the GOP is in for if Trent Lott isn't removed as leader: The Krug argues that any opposition to massive federal entitlement programs must be explained only by racism.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:44 PM | Politics 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Right Wing News on Trent Lott

Right Wing News on Trent Lott: "Lott's remarks were so idiotic that I'm finding myself inclined to agree with Al Sharpton."

Not a lot of support out there on the net for the Trentser, lemme tellya.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:22 PM | Politics 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
WAR: More Evil

More news from the Axis of Evil: US finds cache of scud missles on ship from North Korea stopped off Yemeni coast.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:02 PM | War 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: MORE ON LOTT

Orrin Judd thinks the logical successor would be Dr. Bill Frist of Tennessee, who chaired the Senate Campaign Committee that helped elect all those new GOP Senators. Frist's a great choice, has tremendous ties to the White House, and a guy with instant credibility on healthcare issues to boot (he's a heart surgeon).

Instapundit, of course, has been nearly all-Trent-all-the-time on this story: I count 25 posts so far.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 2:18 PM | Politics 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Daschle, Clinton and Lott

As I noted below, in the point about Al Gore, Byron York at NRO says Daschle is getting slammed by the Congressional Black Caucus for being soft on Trent Lott. How much worse can things get for Daschle when he gets the blame even when his opponents screw up? Meanwhile, NRO contributor Mark Levin says Bill Clinton is just as bad as Trent Lott.

In the immortal words of Mark Steyn, "if we members of the vast right-wing conspiracy don’t get back to our daily routine of obsessive Clinton-bashing, then the terrorists will have won."

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:45 AM | Politics 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: The Sucker

How clueless is Steve Phillips? You know how they say that, when you're playing poker, if you can't spot the sucker at the table in 15 minutes, you're the sucker? Steve Phillips has been going to the winter meetings for years now and he still hasn't spotted the sucker. The Mets, in letting Edgardo Alfonzo walk, cited budgetary constraints - after spending some $32 million on Tom Glavine. I fault Fred Wilpon here - by telling Phillips he had one year to turn things around, Wilpon has forced Phillips to give in to his worst instincts and play for the shortest of short terms, with a roster chock full of players in decline. Maybe letting Alfonzo go will turn out for the best - while he's the Mets' second-best player behind Piazza and allegedly only 29 years old, Alfonzo's back problems are a legitimate concern. Still, he's a far better gamble than Glavine.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:43 AM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Let's Talk About Trent

Let's talk about Trent Lott, shall we? Robert George does a good takedown on Lott in today's National Review Online, as part of a larger pile-on of frustrated conservatives who (1) have been waiting years for the chance to dump Lott, (2) were genuinely horrified by the sentiments contained in Lott's comments and (3) are eager to distance themselves from any nostalgia for Strom Thurmond's 1948 presidential campaign and demonstrate that, unlike today's leading commentators on the Left, they are willing to denounce one of their own when he goes off the reservation.

Read More »


Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:33 AM | Politics 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
WAR: Road Signs

Ted Rall, unintentionally, sets the markers on the road to liberty.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:54 AM | War 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
WAR: BLOGGER DOES ITS PART

Blogger yesterday announced the winners of its competition of best Persian-language weblogs - a small step, perhaps, but a step that gives freedom a little more breathing space in Iran's struggle against theocracy. Three cheers.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:48 AM | War 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
December 9, 2002
BLOG: Still Busy

Still too busy, check back tomorrow. Hopefully, by then, we'll have war in Iraq, a new government in Iran, a new GM for the Mets who doesn't think that a youth movement involves dumping your only good hitter under 30 to sign a 37-year-old finesse pitcher, and a new leader for Senate Republicans who knows when to stop listening to the voices in his hair . . .

Hey, a guy can dream, can't he?

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:30 AM | Blog 2002-05 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
December 6, 2002
BASEBALL: Mr. Placid

This ESPN dispatch on the underrated John Olerud - a far better investment of $16 million than David Bell or half of Tom Glavine's contract or a third or so of Mo Vaughn's remaining contract - makes him sound like Jack Nicholson at the end of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest:

"One of the most placid players in the game following brain surgery to remove an aneurysm in 1989, . . . "

Posted by Baseball Crank at 3:26 PM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
December 5, 2002
POLITICS/BASEBALL: Strom Thurmond's Birthday

Shoeless Joe Jackson fan Strom Thurmond turns 100 today. For a little perspective, check out the A's roster the year Thurmond was first elected to public office. Note the presence of Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker, and Eddie Collins. Cobb, in fact, hit .323 that year.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:04 PM | Baseball 2002-03 • | Politics 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Return To The Planet of the Appier

I'll have to have more on the Tom Glavine signing another day. The bottom line: Glavine likely has one horrible train wreck of a year coming, with a revival to a battered veteran squeezing out one last good in in 2004 or 2005. At best, he's Kevin Appier all over again, and that's how the Mets got stuck with Mo Vaughn. This contract will probably do in Glavine's bid for 300 wins: you heard it here first, he's going 7-15 in 2003.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:28 PM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: A New Angle

I had to click on this because it seemed such an obvious cliche: Tonight on Donahue: "Angry White Men."

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:26 PM | Politics 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
December 4, 2002
LAW: An Outsider's Beliefs

In a decision that may provide unintended benefits to religious people asserting their rights, the Ninth Circuit declines to dismiss the Pledge of Allegiance case on standing grounds. After the initial decision in the case holding the Pledge of Allegiance to be an unconstitutional establishment of religion (due to the phrase "under God"), the mother of the schoolgirl in the case got a custody order specifying that the dad, who was the force behind the lawsuit, did not have custody. He then dropped his claim to bring suit on behalf of the girl and sued instead as a parent, arguing that he had a personal right to sue as a parent. Let's pick up the Ninth Circuit's reasoning:

Newdow . . . can expect to be free from the government's endorsing a particular view of religion and unconstitutionally indoctrinating his young daughter on a daily basis in that official view. The pledge to a nation "under God," with its imprimatur of governmental sanction, provides the message to Newdow's young daughter not only that non-believers, or believers in non-Judeo-Christian religions, are outsiders, but more specifically that her father's beliefs are those of an outsider, and necessarily inferior to what she is exposed to in the classroom.

(Thanks to the prolific Howard Bashman for noting the decision).

This is a powerful argument that the judges may not have entirely thought through, because it implies a direct parental right not to have doctrines taught in school that contradict one's theology. The creationists will just loooove this language.

(Leave aside for now the PC hooey in the reference to "non-Judeo-Christian religions," which may be intended to exclude from the annals of the oppressors here a certain other prominent monotheist religion of arguably Judeo-Christian origin).

Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:27 PM | Law 2002-04 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
WAR: PAGING JOHN McCAIN

Daniel Pipes has a suggestion for political-corruption reform that is long overdue and vital to national security: prohibit anyone representing the US government from going on the payroll - directly or indirectly - of Saudi Arabia after leaving government service. If McCain drops the ball on this one, it's a golden opportunity for Lieberman or one of the other Democratic presidential contenders to start making his bones as a crusader [word choice intentional] against the nefarious influence of the Saudi regime.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:05 PM | War 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
SCIENCE/POLITICS: NOW WE KNOW WHO REALLY CREATED THE INTERNET

Glenn "Instapundit" Reynolds confesses that he worked for Al Gore's 1988 presidential campaign.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:53 PM | Politics 2002-03 • | Science | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Moyers' Tiffs

It's worth revisiting the battle between Bill Moyers and The Weekly Standard's Stephen Hayes, now that Moyers is taking out full-page ads to dispute a column on him written by Bill O'Reilly (the ads even take a gratuitous potshot at Hayes).

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:30 PM | Politics 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
LAW: "[L]aid-back jurisprudence of a morphing Constitution"

Stuart Buck has a great post on Laurence Tribe and his momentary disdain a few years back for a "laid-back jurisprudence of a morphing Constitution." On the broader point raised on the Volokh site, about people's constitutional theories hewing to their policy preferences, I think that's true up to a point, and it's most true where the constitution is most ambiguous. But there are neutral principles, there is a historical record; the document is not just an ink blot.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:02 AM | Law 2002-04 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
LAW: Testa

A friend at his law firm sends along this Boston Globe obituary for Richard Testa, founder of Testa Hurwitz & Thibeault, who died in his sleep yesterday at age 63.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:42 AM | Law 2002-04 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BLOG: Cold

Today's the kind of day when you want to do a victory lap every time you get in the door of a heated building. I'm starting to wish my car had heat . . .

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:40 AM | Blog 2002-05 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Karros and Stick

I like the Dodgers' deal yesterday; dumping Karros, who's washed-up, and Grudzelanik (you spell it), who's mediocre at best, shows a real commitment to not standing pat. They need a plan B, though, if they can't sign free agents for the open slots, and at second in particular I'm not sure they have one. Of course, there are two big-time second basemen on the market - Kent and Alfonzo - and they can always bring in Fred McGriff to play first if Cliff Floyd isn't available.

The Hated Yankees, meanwhile, seem to be closing in on re-signing Robin Ventura, which relieves me greatly; I was starting to worry that they might be in the hunt for Alfonzo, which would really turn the knife into Mets fans.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:04 AM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
RELIGION: The Good News

I caught a little of Falwell on Donahue last night - now, there's two guys who deserve each other. I half expected them to be arguing about whether Reagan had a chance to beat Jimmy Carter. Donahue was saying that Falwell was intolerant for saying only Christians go to heaven. Now, as a theological matter, the Catholic Church, at least, has softened considerably on this point despite some passages in the Gospel of John that pretty strongly hint at this. The sensible answer for serious Christians is probably, "well, we can't know what God wants, but why take the chance?" But Falwell, for his own perfectly valid reasons, believes that this is the Will of God. He's not shy of saying so, and indeed his faith compels him to bear witness to this aspect of the Good News. Donahue would never in a million years argue that it was intolerant for Muslims to make the similar claim for their faith. Falwell's said some things that were intemperate and insensitive and some that were just wrong, but he's not calling for anybody to be stoned to death; just saying that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life and no one comes to the Father except through Him . . . that's intolerant only in the sense that declaring the earth is round is intolerant of the views of flat-earthers because it confronts them with an opposing viewpoint.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:59 AM | Religion | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: No Noonan

I missed this when it ran last week - Peggy Noonan tells Tom Daschle that he's not half the man she is.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:42 AM | Politics 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BLOG: Headliner

Who else but the NY Post would run the headline, "QUACK BACK IN BUTT BIZ"?

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:41 AM | Blog 2002-05 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
WAR/POLITICS: Giving Away The Game

Maureen Dowd can't help but admit that Bill Clinton's "preoccupation with the Monica threat to his future might have diluted his focus on the Qaeda threat to our future."

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:38 AM | Politics 2002-03 • | War 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Firestevephillips.com

It's firestevephillips.com!

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:31 AM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
December 3, 2002
WAR: I'm With Stupid

Call George W. a moron? Mark Steyn's on the case! "Calling America the Great Moron, by contrast [to 'Great Satan'], is just feeble. I happen to like moral clarity myself, but I can appreciate that for some tastes Bush's habit of dividing the world into "good" and "evil" and using these terms non-ironically might seem a little simplistic. But it's nowhere near as simplistic as dividing the world into "I'm right" and "you're stupid"."

Steyn also turns a perfect descriptive phrase, noting that Canada, in the showdown with Iraq, is "doing its usual routine of insisting the sidelines are the moral high ground."

Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:43 PM | War 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Era, End of

With Jim Thome apparently gone, the Indians have lost their last tie to the pre-1994 era just as they are getting bad again. (That's assuming we've seen the last of Charles Nagy, who's as done as done can get, with a 7.67 ERA in 176 IP over the last 3 years). In fact, the sole survivor of the 1994 team that started it all is Omar Vizquel.

Last one out the door at the Jake . . .

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:48 PM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Larry Elder on Guns and The Children

Larry Elder says that Dr. Phil has fallen into the usual array of statistical fallacies about "accidental" gun deaths of "children." The fact that an argument is so frequently buttressed by deceptive statistics makes you wonder.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:46 PM | Politics 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
WAR: Victory and Human Rights

Eugene Volokh points out what we should already know: that the best defense against human rights violators is victory, sometimes even when the winners are unsavory characters themselves.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:45 PM | War 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
WAR: Newsweek Loves The Mullahs

Geoffrey Gagnon of Newsweek has a puff piece on Iranian president Khatami, in which Gagnon falls hook, line and sinker for the mullahs' claims that Iran was "cooperative last fall as American troops forced the ouster of the Islamic Taliban regime in Afghanistan," and that "War between American troops and Saddam Hussein could badly set back reform efforts in Iran." Of course, we don't really know how many terrorists and Talibs fled across the border to Iran, and if war undermines 'reform,' it's only because it will hasten confrontation and revolution against one of the world's most brutal and repressive regimes. But if Khatami actually wants true 'reform' and if such a thing is possible without revolution, it will only be because reformers get leverage - which can only come either from popular protests or from the wolf at the door in Iraq.

Go wolf!

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:27 PM | War 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
SCIENCE: Biker Beware

Now I know why I never learned to ride a bicycle.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:16 PM | Science | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: The Krug That Didn't Bark

The really telling thing about The Krug's column on supposed conservative bias in the media is what's missing:

1. Any specific examples of biased coverage. Give any conservative with half a brain and some free time a week - even a day - and he or she will come back with a list of examples of egregious liberal biases as long as your arm. Scroll down this site and see how many you find. Krugman couldn't cite one.

2. Any discussion of the political biases or motives generally held by network anchors, editors of major newspapers, etc. The Krug doesn't bother to claim that anybody much besides Brit Hume is likely to have ever voted Republican.

3. Biases about ideas. Even when the media is tough on Democrats, they often prefer liberal policies. Does The Krug dispute this?

4. The 800-pound donkey in the room: The Krug's own newspaper. I mean, would Slate run an article on the nefarious influence of corporate ownership on media without mentioning Microsoft? Yet, The Krug assumes that the little alternative daily he writes for has neither influence nor a point of view.

(Go here for more smack on The Krug's latest tantrum)

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:04 PM | Politics 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Beane Gets Foulke

Did Billy Beane read my post on Keith Foulke yesterday? Highly unlikely, but unless there's something I don't know about the prospects involved, the A's rob the White Sox blind in this deal built around a swap of Billy Koch for Foulke. Foulke's a far superior pitcher to Koch; the only downside here is that his contract is up at the end of 2003.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:01 PM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
LAW: Harvard Leaving Harvard Square?

This Boston Globe column has some amusing stuff about BC law profs with their knickers in a twist over the Solomon Amendment, but also some serious business - the possible move of Harvard Law School away from its historic site and Harvard Square to a location in Allston. For the record, I'm very much against this.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:56 PM | Law 2002-04 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: GRAY DAVIS APPOINTEE ATTENDS TALK BY SPEAKER WHO USES RACIAL SLUR

The New York Times recently picked up a story, reported earlier in local media, that William Jones, a Gray Davis appointee to the San Diego Regional Government Efficiency Commission, attended an inflammatory talk at which the speaker made anti-gay remarks and used a racial slur. No public comment yet from Davis on this growing scandal . . .

OK, I'm selectively leaving out some key details here, but hey, smearing reputations is all in good fun, no? The Wall Street Journal thinks the Times should know better.

(I first noted this story back in October)

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:54 PM | Politics 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POP CULTURE: My TiVo thinks I'm Gay!

This Wall Street Journal article (subscribers only) is one of the funniest things I've read recently, about how consumer-behavior tracking software in products like TiVo can freak people out ("My TiVo thinks I'm Gay!"). One of the best parts is when Jeff Bezos of Amazon.com goes to demonstrate the "preference tracking" features on his company's site in front of a live audience, and he logs on, and it tells him the top recommendation for Jeff Bezos is a DVD called "Slave Girls From Beyond Infinity."

Dawn Freeman, 23, a tax analyst in Lexington, Ky., has bought lowbrow videos, such as "American Pie," from Amazon.com. But she was aghast when the site suggested Tom Green's gross-out performance in "Road Trip."

"I thought, 'I know I don't like high cinema, but have I really reached the point where I'd like to watch Tom Green lick a mouse?" To even out her Amazon profile, she went through the site finding "witty independent films."

Her TiVo also thinks she's a sophomoric-humor-loving 12-year-old, she says. It keeps giving her cartoons. "I know it's dumb to take it personally, but it's in your face. These are supposedly objective computers saying, 'This is what we think of you.' "

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:37 PM | Pop Culture | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
LAW: Clifford Chance Damage Control

Clifford Chance does some damage control in this substance-free New York Law Journal puff piece.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 3:37 PM | Law 2002-04 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
December 2, 2002
POLITICS: Tough Times

Big, big day for New York Times bashing: Newsweek wakes up to the paper's conversion into an ideological crusade; Howard Bashman calls the Times on its uncritical reliance on an error-filled chart produced by the left-wing group the Alliance for Justice; Howard Kurtz takes the paper to task for refusing to run a letter to the editor on the Citibank-AT&T story; and Andrew Sullivan takes on a rather large error in an article designed to make David E. Kelley look like a critic within the Catholic Church. As the Newsweek piece points out, this is all great for business - the Times' sharper edge is helping boost circulation. But as with the Democratic party, that sharper edge may gradually wear away at the patina of respectability that used to make the Times a paper whose product appealed to the majority of Americans.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:35 PM | Politics 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
WAR: Bite The Big Apple

Now, here's a guy who richly deserves some traditional New York hospitality.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:27 PM | War 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
WAR: IRA+FARC=EVIL

What's the difference between the IRA and other international terrorists? Well, they're Irish. Other than that, as this trial in Colombia of IRA operatives caught training Marxist FARC guerillas suggests, not much. I used to be somewhat agnostic about the IRA, given the emotional freight that was always carried by the Irish cause, but the more I looked into the issue, the nastier these guys looked. After September 11, I just don't know how anyone could be in their corner.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:24 PM | War 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS/WAR: Vietnam Veteran Kerry The Vietnam Veteran

Way to launch a presidential campaign - the New Republic savages John Kerry, while David Frum calls him a 'Wahhabi Democrat.' Mickey Kaus is even running a contest to get to "the root of Kerry's loathsomeness." Personally, I saw the clip of Kerry telling Russert about the 1991 Iraq vote, and there was so much weaselling involved that he might as well have just said, "Tim, that's how I voted, but I didn't inhale."

Problem: he puts EVERYTHING in terms of Vietnam. Guess what, JFK minor? See that guy going into the voting booth who will be 40 years old in 2004? He wasn't paying attention to the Gulf of Tonkin resolution when it passed because he was too busy playing with his chew toys and learning to walk. He was nine years old when Nixon abolished the draft. He wasn't even a teenager when Saigon fell. The first news story he heard from Southeast Asia as an adult probably included the words "Pol Pot" and maybe "genocide." If he had a kid when he was 21, his kid's old enough to vote too, and the kid doesn't even remember "Platoon," let alone the real thing.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:19 PM | Politics 2002-03 • | War 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Foulke Hero

The story of his season was the early-season slump that cost him the closer job, but nobody had a better second half than Keith Foulke. After the All-Star break, Foulke surrendered just 4 runs in 36.2 innings of work, striking out 27 and walking 3; his ERA was a gaudy 0.74, and the supporting numbers (also including an opposing batting average of .191 and just 2 home runs allowed) back up the ERA. In fact, going back 4 seasons, Foulke has made 129 appearances after the break, with astounding results: 160 IP, 98 H, 9 HR, 28 BB, 167 K and an ERA of 1.63. Foulke hasn't blown a save after September 1 since 1999 (although his record in tied postseason games is, shall we say, not so good).

Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:14 PM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: McGriff and Palmeiro

Fred McGriff's career batting/slugging/OBP: .286/.514/.380. Rafael Palmeiro's: .293/.522/.373. Number of players who have played 2000 major league games with a slugging % of .500 or better and an on base percentage of .370 or better: 24. Number who are in the Hall of Fame: 21. Number who are active: 3 (McGriff, Palmeiro and some guy named Bonds).

The voters should and likely will tread cautiously on the high-flying offensive numbers of our era, but in the end I think they are just going to have to put these two in the Hall, particularly when both of them pass 500 homers, as is likely this season (assuming McGriff gets an everyday job, which seems reasonable given that he slugged .505 and drove in 103 runs in 2002).

Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:05 PM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
WAR: The Front Lines

To the United States, Israel, and India, add Australia to the list of countries that are taking their own initiatives to track down terrorists outside their borders. I suppose there are a few others, but the list is still too short.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:21 PM | War 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
WAR: BETTER THAN NOTHING

CAIR gives a brief writeup of a book, "The Place of Tolerance In Islam, that leads off with an essay describing bin Laden and his sympathizers as "theologically illiterate Muslims," and then provides a variety of reactions from other commentators. The roster listed (including former Holy Cross professor John Esposito, who continues to contend that Islamic terrorism is not a threat) suggests that this is hardly a polemic against Islamofascism, but at least if CAIR is getting its members thinking long and hard about the place of violence against non-Muslims in their faith, some progress is being made.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:53 PM | War 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: 2002 Stats

2002 stats are up at baseball-reference.com, the best baseball stats site in the biz.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 4:29 PM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: RIP Dave McNally

RIP Dave McNally. As you can see from the numbers, McNally was an outstanding pitcher who had a flying start at the Hall of Fame up through about age 30 (he hit the big time to stay at age 20), but his effectiveness declined after he stopped striking people out at age 28, and his career had basically ended by the time he became part of baseball's labor history. Over 273 innings in 1968, McNally allowed just 7.58 baserunners per 9 innings (a ratio of 0.84, for rotoheads), the best ever by a lefthanded pitcher. (Check his Baseball Prospectus player card for some hard-core number crunching on McNally's effectiveness). He was a tremendous postseason pitcher as well, 7-4 with a 2.49 ERA in 14 appearances, including 4 complete games in the World Series.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 3:45 PM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
BLOG: Slow

I posted a few links over the weekend as well as updating the perma-links on the left, but there may be some slow going on the blog this week, as I'm heading down the home stretch on a big project at work and won't have much time for anything else.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:57 AM | Blog 2002-05 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)