Baseball Crank
"It gets late early around here." - Yogi Berra
August 29, 2003
POLITICS: Is Kerry Toast?

Yes, it's too early to win a race like this -- but it's not too early to lose.

New polls showing Howard Dean with a commanding lead in New Hampshire have convinced me: John Kerry is toast. He's losing ground and losing press coverage and trailing badly in native-son territory. Kerry doesn't excite anybody; he had relied on the aura of a frontrunner, and that's history now.

This shocks me, since I have suspected for some time that Kerry would win the nomination by virtue of most nearly straddling the middle of his party. I still think that can be done, but not by a guy so obviously trying to do so. Maybe the Dems have learned something from the Gore fiasco.

Lieberman can't win the nomination, unless he gets a real miracle in support from African-Americans, because he's become the symbol for party activists of the DINO (Democrat in Name Only) on taxes, war, religion and business regulation. Dean, on the other hand, remains vulnerable because non-Chomskyite Democrats over the age of about 23 realize his stances on taxes and war and possibly his identification with gay marriage and general Vermontism would make him poison in a national election. That creates space in the middle, and Kerry's implosion and Bob Graham's dullness and ill health leave that field mostly to Edwards, Gephardt and now perhaps Wesley Clark.

But Edwards, who I predicted to win the nomination back in January, has been a disaster, running in fifth place at 4% (to Dean's 38%, Kerry's 17% and Gephardt's 11%) in New Hampshire and fifth place at 6% (to Dean's 25% and Gephardt's 21%) in Iowa, and (in a poll done about a month ago), tied for fourth with 5% (to 13% for Lieberman and 8% apiece for Gephardt and Al Sharpton) in neighboring South Carolina. The only obvious explanation for this is Edwards' obvious unreadiness to be commander-in-chief, even when compared to someone like Dean, who would be a foreign policy disaster but at least has strong opinions on the subject.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:21 AM | Politics 2002-03 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Giles for Perez

I honestly don't know enough about Oliver Perez -- beyond the fact that he's a young pitcher with high strikeout rates but little or no success thus far at the major league level -- to really evaluate the Pirates' deal of Brian Giles to San Diego, with Perez as the chief consideration in return. But to be fair to the Pirates, remember this:

*The Pirates aren't any good and won't be any good for a few more years;

*Giles will be 33 next season, and will never be more marketable.

For all that, I'm suspicious of trading a superstar-level hitter principally for an unproven young pitcher. And you have to conclude this: the deal is a dramatic no-confidence vote in Pittsburgh's young starting rotation. A team that thought Josh Fogg and Kip Wells and Kris Benson were going to be the anchors of a good rotation would not make this deal. (In Benson's case, pessimism is clearly warranted by his season-ending shoulder injury).

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:04 AM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
LAW: Bigger Than I Thought

Looks like that order I noted Monday night in the John Hinckley case was bigger news than I suspected: Hinckley is trying to get released, at least partially, and until the order unsealing the files, even Ronald Reagan's family didn't know about this. A hearing will be held on Tuesday to determine the status of his request.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 5:53 AM | Law 2002-04 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
August 28, 2003
BLOG: Oops

Overslept my blogging hour this morning . . . I'll give you a link - Vodkapundit with a laughable example of U.N. impotence - and a thought - the injury that prevents Mike Sweeney from playing first base (leaving him blocking the DH slot) has a ripple effect in that the acquisition of Rondell White sends hot-hitting Aaron Guiel to the bench instead of the relatively punchless Ken Harvey.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:19 AM | Blog 2002-05 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
August 27, 2003
POLITICS: Clark Not Turning Into Superman

Jeff Quinton, the Backcountry Conservative, has a roundup of links to an assortment of attacks on Wesley Clark from the Right, the Left, and sources in between (especially his record in Kosovo, which after all is his sole claim to fame), although I'm not sure I would grant a lot of credence to far-Left sites like I guess this is a sign that people are starting to think seriously about Clark as a presidential candidate riding to rescue the Democrats from Howard Dean.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:24 AM | Politics 2002-03 | TrackBack (2)
BASEBALL: Batting Third, Timo Perez . . .

No, never mind, I'm not ready to talk about that.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:17 AM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
LAW: Abuse

You often hear debates about frivolous or abusive litigation that stay on the level of abstraction or generality, or focus on outrageous verdicts where the plaintiff was the one who did something horrible or complained about something trivial. But an aspect that gets missed is how many truly meritless cases get filed, and how many of those are enabled, aided and abetted along by vague theories of law, liberal pleading and discovery rules, and (in various types of tort cases) hard to disprove allegations of psychological harm or emotional trauma. The collective cost of this stuff, to the economy and the judicial system, is tremendous.

Read this opinion from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia (opens as PDF file) -- in, what else, a case charging disability discrimination, sexual harrassment and retaliation, plus a few other brainstorms of the Democratic Party in the late 80s and early 90s -- to see a particularly lethal cocktail of these elements and how they appear to have been badly abused by a dishonest plaintiff. As you are reading this, reflect on the fact that the federal agency at issue has been stuck defending this case since March of 1998, and on how much lawyering and how many hours of time of not only attorneys but witnesses, doctors, investigators and a federal judge were wasted by this one individual litigant.

Now, you can say that this is an extreme case, and it is, at least in the extent to which the plaintiff's misbehavior was caught out, documented and sanctioned. But talk to any employment lawyer -- whether they represent the government or private business -- and you will hear story after story of people who use litigation like this to cover for the fact that they are just unable to bear the adult responsibilities of the working world, or to squeeze some extra dollars out of a company that had layoffs and had to pick somebody to let go.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:12 AM | Law 2002-04 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (1)
BASEBALL: Some People Tell Me Walkin' Cruz Ain't Bad

Just whenever you are ready to think that plate patience and strike zone judgment (the two are not the same thing) can't be taught, a player with a couple years' experience becomes a teammate of a guy like Barry Bonds or Rickey Henderson or Edgar Martinez, and a light goes on (or back on). Witness Jose Cruz (still depicted by ESPN in a Blue Jays hat), who after drawing a decent number of walks in 1999-2000 drew just 45 and 51 as an everyday player in 2001 & 2002, respectively. This season: 445 at bats, 83 walks, which helped make Cruz a big part of the Giants' early success.

Lately, while he's kept walking, Cruz has stopped hitting, batting .216 and slugging .289 since the All-Star break. In fact, since May 11, he's batting .243 and slugging just .399. But his season OBP remains a respectable .364.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:07 AM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: On the Nose

Entering last night's action, Jeff Bagwell's lifetime batting average stood at as precisely .300 as it gets: 2100 career hits in 7000 at bats. (Bagwell went 2 for 3, so he's still above the line).

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:55 AM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
WAR: On The Same Bus

Nice gesture for Mayor Bloomberg to ride the Jerusalem No. 2 bus in solidarity with the victims of the latest suicide bombing, even if it does mean a little foreign policy grandstanding that takes him from his real job.

I have to ask: why does anybody in Israel still ride the bus? I mean, I'm being serious and not critical of the Israelis, who presumably know what they are doing with regard to terrorists; there must be good reasons why, given the fact that suicide bombers have relentlessly targeted buses. I assume part of the problem is a lack of car ownership and the need to navigate narrows streets that aren't well suited to heavy traffic.

Hey, maybe this is the elusive market for the Segway: you can't sneak a suicide bomber onto a Segway, after all.

UPDATE: Yeah, I know the Segway is pretty useless for anything beyond a few blocks because it's so slow. Still, this is the kind of outside-the-box transit solution that may have to be considered to make commuters and tourists in Israel less vulnerable (Low Occupancy Vehicle lanes?)

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:53 AM | War 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Wrong Pelosi

This is probably good news for the Democrats, actually -- it's a sign that Nancy Pelosi hasn't made a big impression on the national scene when the NY Daily News can run headlines about "Pelosi" and they're talking about somebody completely different. It's one thing to not have reached the status of being identified by one name, but when somebody else claims your name, you haven't made it yet with the public.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:45 AM | Politics 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BLOG: Status

Sorry it's been a little quiet around here -- crises at work and some distracting errand-running at home have cut into my blogging time. There has been major progress at the site, though, on two fronts: I've finished loading my old columns from Projo and the BSG site to the "Baseball Columns" category, and I've finally finished classifying all the old (from the Blogspot site) entries into categories and giving them titles.

A more regular posting schedule should return by some time next week. But stay tuned, I won't be completely quiet in the interim.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:41 AM | Blog 2002-05 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
August 25, 2003
BASEBALL: The Wisdom of Joe Schultz

As I've mentioned, I'm currently reading Ball Four. If you've read the book or are otherwise interested in the short, unhappy life of the Seattle Pilots, you can check out this link for audio of in-season radio interviews with the Pilots' incisive, forward-thinking manager, Joe Schultz.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:43 PM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BLOG: There Is No Try

Well, this was inevitable, given my self-image as a "venerated sage with vast power and knowledge":

Read More »

Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:33 PM | Blog 2002-05 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
LAW: Hinkley Pinkley

The United States District Court for the District of Columbia has ordered that the sealed record of recent proceedings in the ongoing matter of United States v. John Warnock Hinkley jr. be unsealed, with one exception. Wonder if there's anything interesting there; probably not, since it's pretty recent stuff.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:30 PM | Law 2002-04 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Corner Turned?

Has Alfonso Soriano righted the ship? Soriano started this season even hotter than last, and even I -- a long-time skeptic of Soriano -- was starting to think he was really that good. 28 games into the season, he was batting .378, and even drawing a decent number of walks. But I should have remembered that this is precisely what often happens to guys who have big breakout seasons: a month or so in, they look even better before it all unravels. After May 1, Soriano just coasted on that early hot streak, to the point where Joe Torre benched Soriano for consecutive games in Texas August 6-7 (and for a hitter, what harsher punishment is there than being benched against the Rangers?). Here's the breakdown:


Well, it's better, anyway. But viewing Soriano as a .300-hitting, top-of-the-order, MVP-candidate type of player may have always been a one-year wonder.

Read More »

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:46 AM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
LAW: Fat's Not Enough

Canadian immigration authorities rejected a Venezuelan woman's claim for asylum under Canada's "Gender-Related Persecution guidelines": she claimed she'd be persecuted in Venezuela because she was overweight. The story suggests that this was a classic example of a bogus claim by someone who had no other leg to stand on:

Ian Clague, the adjudicator, had doubts about her claim, including questions on just how overweight the woman actually is.

"At the hearing, the claimant did not appear to fit the dictionary definition of obese. According to her personal information form, she had gained weight since she had been in Canada. No evidence was presented as to what her weight actually was, if she was medically overweight, or how her weight compared to others, male or female, in Venezuela," says the decision summary.

Mr. Clague also questioned how damaging being overweight is to life in Venezuela. "She graduated from university.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:39 AM | Law 2002-04 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
August 24, 2003
BLOG: Much From Musil

One of the bloggers I read far too infrequently is Robert Musil. But I've just added him to my blogroll, and if you haven't been to his site lately, you should check out entries like these:

+Noting an issue that I've been concerned about myself, Musil looks in more depth at the weakness of the California economy compared to the nation. Musil's been one of the best sources for punditry on the recall.

+A hilarious "Guide to the Lesser Husseins"

+Thoughts on a Mississippi ruling equating a fetus with a person under state law.

+A fascinating observation on the new ABA rules for lawyers' ability to blow the whistle on clients engaged in potential financial fraud: while the new SEC rules under Sarbanes-Oxley create a duty to disclose client confidences in certain circumstances when the client is a public company, the new model professional rules simply give the lawyer discretion to do so. Musil notes that this gives lawyers the effective ability to at least implicitly blackmail their clients.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:05 PM | Blog 2002-05 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
WAR: A Hero Returns

Just another soldier doin' his job, I know. But really, they've been there, and you and I haven't. A warm welcome home to Lt. Smash.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:47 PM | War 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Rethinking a Rethinking

Dr. Manhattan notes something I'd thought about myself: that Tom Tippett's analysis of balls in play against pitchers (which I noted here) -- which concluded that at least some pitchers do have an effect on balls in play, in a revision to Voros McCracken's groundbreaking theory -- is significant because many of the recent advances in fielding statistics have been premised upon the idea that the fielders alone control a team's overall rate of hits on balls in play.

Of course, still absent (I think) from a lot of the analyses of defensive stats is the other wild card: park effects. Until we make sense of the components of park effects, we can't really unravel the balance between pitchers and fielders on balls in play.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:38 PM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
August 22, 2003
BASEBALL: Harden Times

Reports of Rich Harden's easy dominance of the American League have been premature; Harden got shelled last night by the Red Sox even after extra rest for a tired arm. With Ted Lilly getting clocked in his last start, Tim Hudson getting drilled with a line drive and now Mark Mulder on the 15-day DL, the A's starting pitching is more vulnerable than it's been in some time.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:41 AM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
POP CULTURE: Random Thoughts

*Recently rented The Recruit. You know, Al Pacino is the Aerosmith of acting -- he's given us decades of entertainment with no sign of slowing down, but it's really only the first few years of his career that you can take seriously.

*I caught some of Meet the Parents again the other night -- as Bill Simmons would say, I wish I could buy stock in things like "Meet the Parents will be the highlight of Teri Polo's film career."

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:37 AM | Pop Culture | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
BLOG: A Blogoversary

Today is the one year anniversary of my blog! Here's the inaugural post. In my second post, I noted a long overdue hot streak for Adrian Beltre, which come to think of it he's having again right now. Traffic remained stalled at about 3 regular readers for the first three weeks until I got linked by Andrew Sullivan, and now seems to hover around 220 visitors a day during the week.

(So, I've got a few of these -- my first baseball column appeared on the internet on May 5, 2000, and the Movable Type site was launched on April 14, 2003.)

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:30 AM | Blog 2002-05 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
RELIGION: Churches of God

Passed a "Church of God" on the highway recently -- isn't that redundant, like "Library of Books"? I mean, all your major churchgoing religions purport to be churches of God, don't they?

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:22 AM | Religion | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
August 21, 2003
BASEBALL: Baseball's Blair

The Sacramento Bee has fired a reporter who did a story that appeared to be, but wasn't, filed from the ballpark, with quotes from other sources. Of course, those quotes are mostly useless and writing stories from the telecast isn't that far from the days when regional reporters would broadcast from ticker reports -- but the point is, the guy was giving a false impression that the paper couldn't tolerate.

At least somebody's checking these things now.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:07 AM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Baseball Websites

One of my pet peeves is the status of major baseball websites (the news sites, not the commentary/analysis sites). Maybe I just go to the wrong sites -- I tend to frequent ESPN's MLB page, CBSSportsline, and sometimes CNNSI's baseball page or USAToday's. A couple of common complaints:

1. Popup ads.

I'm not someone who will boycott sites with popups, but a battery of popups makes it much less likely that I'll make a site a daily read, or drop by there to pick up a quick piece of information. Even for active players, I much prefer to get stats (other than current-year stats) from, which loads quickly, searches easily and lacks popups.

2. No Standings on the Front Page

Standings are the lifeblood of Major League Baseball, even moreso than box scores. There's no reason you shouldn't see a sidebar on the front page with the divisional and Wild Card standings. (The latter is particularly important, yet also neglected by many newspapers, even though (1) it impacts many more teams' playoff chances and (2) the wild card race is often both close and complicated, so the average fan may not have the standings straight in his head). CBSSPortsline even makes room for its "power rankings" on the front page, but no standings.

3. Difficulty Searching for Stats

Again, both and some of the rotisserie-themed sites beat the major operators here; on, you have to click through several pages to get to where you can pull up an individual player's stats, whereas lets you run a name search from the front page. Advantage: Sean Forman.

* * *

Both ESPN and CNNSI have moved in the direction of making the front page look more like a magazine cover, with a big headline and picture. But a webpage should open with the table of contents, not the cover, with lots of links to the information you want. I could go on -- maybe some other day I'll critique the actual stat pages, which each have their pluses and minuses -- but the main point here is that baseball websites simply don't seem to be designed with the people who use them in mind. That's a shame.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:05 AM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
August 15, 2003
BLOG/WAR: That Old Feeling

Major flashback to September 11 yesterday, as the lights went out and this time I was inside the building, and had to descend 24 floors to ground level (while wondering if another shoe was about to drop) and then repeat my September 11 experience of toting my briefcase through Midtown and Central Park before locating what may have been the last empty cab in the city. I wasn't taking any chances; the guy balked at leaving Manhattan, so I told him I'd give him $100 (for once, I had some cash on me) to get me to Queens. 2 1/2 hours later, I was home, grilling some burgers before they went bad.

We got power back this morning, but only just got the internet and TV back about 15 minutes ago (#^*!!@ Time Warner). Spent today at home doing some work; as with after September 11, I was calling in to a 1-800 hotline my firm set up to get status updates on when we'd be able to return to work. I would have preferred not to repeat the feeling.

If you want some good blogging on the blackout and its ramifications, check out Jane Galt and Mindles Dreck.

I'm here and then I'm gone, off on vacation. Blogging will resume some time Wednesday or Thursday.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:52 PM | Blog 2002-05 • | War 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
August 14, 2003
POLITICS: Consider That a Divorce

So the Democrats have fanned out accross the airwaves, telling us that recalling a sitting governor is a terrible idea; commentators on the left (and even skeptics of unbridled democracy on the right, like George Will and Jonah Goldberg) have told us that the sky will fall if the people can up and pull the rug out on an incumbent who only just got re-elected, out of pique over the budget.

I am reminded of Jane Galt's comment about the French election fiasco of 2002: "They're completely missing the point, which is that it's hilarious." The fact that the recall is an expensive, complicated three-ring circus full of celebrities and celebrity wanna-bes, many of whom know nothing of politics or even decency, and that even the guy who lost to Davis less than a year ago is running again -- that's actually all for the good, for two reasons. First, how much bigger a signal of anger can the public send to a special-interest-captured political class than to mock them by making us listen to Larry Flynt and Gary Coleman and making them run in fear of a bodybuilder with a thick Austrian accent? And second, the farcical nature of the recall is also a useful reminder to voters that nobody really wants to go through this again if it's not really necessary.

Shouldn't recalls be saved for the most extreme cases, like corruption? I agree that a recall should be sparingly used (although there have been recall petitions circulated against every California governor in memory). But this is a situation that calls for it: Davis' record as governor is entirely indefensible, and his popularity (30% approval rating on the day he was re-elected, down to around 23% now) is so narrow that a plurality candidate really wouldn't have measurably less support anyway. And his integrity, while not about to get him out of office via indictment, is also a serious problem, given his long rap sheet of skirting the ethical limits of obsessive fund-raising.

Is the recall badly designed? Well, yes. There ought to be a runoff. But, like the fact that Bill Simon turned out to be a dreadful candidate, this isn't really an excuse to make Californians and the nation live with Davis for three more years. The McLaughlin Group's Tony Blankley gets this right.

The recall is California's only remaining weapon against Sacramento. It can't help but produce better government than what the Golden State has now.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:07 AM | Politics 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Fun With Statistics

Esteban Yan got a hit in his only at bat this season -- lowering his career slugging average by 1500 points. Yan, who had never batted in the minor leagues either, hit a home run in his first major league at bat in 2000. His batting line now reads 1.000/2.500/1.000.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:35 AM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
August 12, 2003
BASEBALL: As Night Follows Day

Overheard on tonight's Mets broadcast:

Gary Cohen, 7:55 p.m.: "With a 3-run lead, one out and nobody on base, it looks like Aaron Heilman will pitch to Barry Bonds. It might be the only time we see him pitched to all night."

Bob Murphy, less than ten seconds later: "There it goes!"

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:55 PM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: It's "Super W."

A George W. Bush action figure can lead to many jokes. Personally, I wonder if "Actual figure may vary slightly from item shown" means they may ship yours in a Vietnam-era Air National Guard aviator uniform.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 2:48 PM | Politics 2002-03 | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Flashback

I'm still loading the old columns up; for the historically minded, here's my analysis from three years ago yesterday of the Hall of Fame's selection of Bid McPhee (Hall of Fame columns rarely get dated). For more, you can always browse the "Baseball Columns" category, and I'm overdue to add some of the more lasting ones to the sidebar.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:51 AM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Dan Lewis is hawking some amusing T-Shirts and stuff over at his site, including what appears to be Mr. Met with the slogan, "I'd go to the ballpark . . . but it's easier to cry at home".

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:45 AM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BLOG: Stupid Forgers

Here's a story about a government employee in Massachusetts who stumbled across a forgery on a petition -- of her own name.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:42 AM | Blog 2002-05 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Steyn on Arnold The Amateur

OK, this has been linked to all over the place, but you must read Mark Steyn's analysis of Arnold's campaign in California; highlight (emphasis added):

Yes, he's not a professional politician. And that's a disadvantage? The professional politicians are the ones who got California into this mess. This is a "throw the bum out" election, so the successful challenger will be the one who looks least like the bum. Gray Davis has been on the public payroll his entire adult life: he represents the full-time political class. Arnold represents the other California: entrepreneurial energy, wit and invention, the California that understands that if Hollywood and Silicon Valley were run by "qualified" people like Davis we'd still be watching flickering silents and you'd need union-approved quill-feathers to send e-mail.

Arnold made his first business investment at 19, using savings from his bodybuilding contests to buy a failed Munich gym. He turned it around. The first really big money he made in America in the early 1970s came when he and a fellow bodybuilder started a bricklaying business. He's one of a very few actors who was a millionaire before he ever acted. And, if you think it's no big deal being the world's highest-paid movie star, you try it - with a guttural German accent so thick you can barely do dialogue and a body frame so large you're too goofy for playing love scenes. From his gym to his mail-order company to his masonry business to his shopping malls, Schwarzenegger has shown a consistent knack for exploiting the fullest financial value from even his most modest successes. Who would you say best embodies the spirit of California? The guy who has made all his own money? Or the fellows who've squandered everybody else's?

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:39 AM | Politics 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Cardinals Heaven

Brian Gunn over at Redbird Nation is reliving the ups (and downs) of the St. Louis Cardinals Baseball Club over the past 25 years or so; you can catch part one here and part two here. It's a great read.

I'm not ready yet to talk rationally about 1987.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:36 AM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BLOG: Reduced Blogging

Sorry if things are a bit quieter around here -- I've got some errands to take care of this week (car registration, refinancing the mortgage), and some other stuff to deal with, including a very annoying infection on one of my fingers.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:31 AM | Blog 2002-05 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
August 11, 2003
WAR: Liberian Blahs

So Liberia's president is stepping down, and blaming America for his problems after the fashion of tyrants and murderers everywhere. I love this detail: his successor, for now, is Liberia's Vice President Blah. Shouldn't the vice president always be named "Blah"?

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:19 AM | War 2002-03 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Bob Novak has the latest on rising tensions in the Senate over the religious dimension of opposition to Bush judicial nominees.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:14 AM | Politics 2002-03 • | Religion | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Saves Interruptus

I guess the All-Star Game doesn't count against Eric Gagne's save streak.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:12 AM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
LAW: Client Service

Got this one from a colleague: the Arkansas Supreme Court ruled that a contingent fee lawyer was not entitled to a percentage of a settlement, but only to payment for services actually rendered, where the client fired him after he who neglected the case and then responded to the client's complaints about delays in the case with "I don't have a speedometer up my ass."

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:04 AM | Law 2002-04 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BLOG: Dam It

I know I got this as an email a few years ago and maybe you did too -- from, a classic exchange of letters about an unauthorized dam, and the story behind it.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:57 AM | Blog 2002-05 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
August 10, 2003
FOOTBALL: The Enemy is Me

Sports Illustrated's quote of the week shows that Kerry Collins of the New York Giants knows his strengths and weaknesses: In discussing the mental part of the game, Collins said, "I try to stay out of my own way. Sometimes going inside my head is like going behind enemy lines."

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:49 PM | Football | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
LAW: Ladies' Night

Ah, the long arm of the law: did you know that bars in California can get sued for having "Ladies Night"?

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:38 AM | Law 2002-04 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Rehab Update

Looks like Mike Piazza needs more time to nurse his groin. Er, or something like that; actually, he seems more concerned about getting back to game shape. No need to hurry -- the Mets are going nowhere with or without him, so he might as well come back 100%.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:35 AM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
August 8, 2003
SCIENCE: Smoke and Dust

Over at the Volokh Conspiracy, David Bernstein notes that the media is jumping to conclusions about a recent study showing lower than expected birthweights by babies carried by "women who were pregnant and at or around the World Trade Center during or after the terror attack": he's right that the correlation between low birth weights and exposure to smoke and dust does not prove causation.

Um, why smoke and dust? I know the article he links to rules out "post-traumatic stress disorder" based on surveys, but isn't it possible that women who were in or near the towers on September 11 suffered from a greater than normal amount of stress, fear and anxiety?

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:54 PM | Science | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Hillary Clinton does her Don Mossi impression.

(OK, not everyone's going to get that joke. Actually, I've been reading Jim Bouton's Ball Four -- for the first time, it will surprise some of you to learn -- and Bouton describes Mossi as looking "like a cab going down the street with its doors open")

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:48 PM | Baseball 2002-03 • | Politics 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: It's Not a Rumor

John Fund discusses Arnold Schwarzenegger's remarkable ability to keep the real truth about his plans to run for governor quiet until the last minute. But here's something I didn't know about his consultants: "Several played a pivotal role in Boris Yeltsin's come-from-behind re-election campaign for Russian president in 1996."

Go back to 1984. You are leaving the theater after watching "Terminator", and somebody tells you that in less than 20 years, not only will Arnold be running for governor of California, but he'll be using campaign consultants with experience in Russian elections.

What a world.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:47 PM | Politics 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Duffy's Cliff

The Mets announcers were in high dudgeon the last two nights over the hill in Minute Maid Field -- comparing it to a mini golf obstacle -- after Timo Perez almost got hurt chasing a fly ball up the hill. Ted Robinson compared it to the old Crosley Field in Cincinnati, which had a slight incline in center. But the better analogy is to Duffy's Cliff. As MLB's Red Sox site explains:

What was Duffy's Cliff?
From 1912 to 1933, there was a 10-foot-high mound that formed an incline in front of the left field wall at Fenway park, extending from the left-field foul pole to the centerfield flag pole. As a result of the mound, a left fielder in Fenway Park had to play the entire territory running uphill. Boston's first star left fielder, Duffy Lewis, mastered the skill so well that the area became known as Duffy's Cliff.

In 1934, Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey arranged to flatten the ground in left field so that Duffy's Cliff no longer existed and became part of the lore of Fenway Park.

Out on Cape Cod when I was in college we met an old man who remembered Duffy's Cliff; he said it was really quite a hill to have to scale on the fly. Must've been quite a sight.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:30 AM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
WAR: More From Michael Kelly

It's a rare treat to hear more from a writer you thought you'd heard the last of. I just stumbled across this fascinating pre-war interview with the late Michael Kelly in The Atlantic Online. Chills-inducing line: "I don't think it will be that dangerous for me." Prediction: "I do think that you will see an honest-to-God picture of people in Iraq and Baghdad cheering America." Read the whole thing; there's more on the East Germans' role in Saddam's Iraq, the aftermath of the Iran-Iraq war, and Kelly's exploits in Gulf 1. A classic story, from his broadside against CNN's corrupt relationship with Saddam:

[An Australian reporter] and I had gone up to CNN's suite [in the Al-Rashid hotel] at dawn and knocked on the door. They had locked the door so nobody could get into their suite, because they had the only working phone line and they wanted to protect it, of course. I knocked on the door and slipped them a note asking them if they would, not file our stories for us, but if we could give them a list of phone numbers of wives and others that they would call and tell everybody we were okay. They pushed the note back under the door and said, "Haven't you ever heard of competition?" So a lot of people who were there have never forgiven them for that.

More choice quotes:

Read More »

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:25 AM | War 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Over The Top

If you want a picture of a party that has gone mad with its purism, look at what labor demands of the California Democrats.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:13 AM | Politics 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: The Brockton Bomber

Baseball Nerds has a look at Letterman sidekick Biff Henderson's turn at bat for the Brockton Rox of the Northeast League. While I'm at it, if you're looking for some D-Backs blogging, you can check out Wil Everts (also of Baseball Nerds) at his blog.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:11 AM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
FOOTBALL: The Outsiders

Statistical analysts have built an impressive body of knowledge about baseball -- can it be replicated for the gridiron? Aaron Schatz of Lycos50 (one of the very early readers of this site) and Bruce Allen of Boston Sports Media Watch are among the writers trying to find out at (I'll have to add it next time I reorganize the permalinks), including essays discussing the application of Bill James' Pythagorean Theory to football and looking at which coaches have exceeded their Pythagorean projections for their careers (the underachievers, unsurprisingly when you think about it, are all pass-happy types). There are a lot of interesting questions about how these methods translate, but the site is worth a look.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:08 AM | Football | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: The Next Generation

So, I was out in the back yard (such as it is) with my 6-year-old son a good part of last weekend, working on his swing. Every male baseball fan starts this early with his sons, and it's frustrating because we all start too early. I remember when he wasn't two yet, and we had him hitting from his knees with a fat bat off a wobbly Fisher-Price tee and we all shouted "yay" whenever he hit the ball. His response: "More yay!" Well, he is my son.

Now, he's old enough; I was pitching to him and letting him pitch to me. One of the oddities of playing whiffle ball with a 6-year-old . . . ordinarily, you don't want to dive too far for a pitch because you can't get enough force behind it when you're swinging off balance. But here I had the opposite problem: when you swing level at a pitch in your wheelhouse, you can slow the bat down and make sure you don't hit it too hard. But when you swing at a pitch in the dirt, you're hacking to make contact, so you can't really do that. Unfortunately, one such swing came on a pitch where (as often happens at his age), his delivery turned him around 180 degrees. Result: line drive off the back of his head. That ended Saturday's session, but he came back Sunday and had to be dragged back into the house. Progress.

All I really want is to make sure he can play competently enough to enjoy Little League. Much in contrast to my own experience. For all my enthusiasm for the game, I spent a grand total of one season in organized baseball, in the town recreational "T-Shirt" league (team: the West Nyack Whales), the league where they let everyone play no matter how bad they are. One day we got no-hit by a kid who looked about 12 (this was the 9-year-olds league). We went 1-8 in a 9-Saturday season, and due to a combination of bad eyesight and horrendous hand-eye coordination (I'm no good at video games, for the same reason) I never even managed a foul ball. My only skill was getting hit by pitches; I was drilled 5 times in the first 7 games, although I did at least score a run to contribute to our only win after getting hit in the head.

That ended my hardball career; I played some intramural softball in college, not well but not quite as badly (I got the occasional hit). I'm hoping my son can at least get more out of playing the game than that.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:58 AM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
BASKETBALL: Now Kobe's In Trouble

The latest from the Onion.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:37 AM | Basketball | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
LAW: Originalism Sin?

Law Professor Jeff Cooper (link via Howard Bashman) criticizes Justice Scalia's theory of originalism on the basis that it's too much work: because serious historical research into the original meaning of a particular provision is expensive for litigants, nearly impossible for trial and appellate judges, and often unreliable when done by Supreme Court Justices and their clerks, the argument goes, originalism simply doesn't work even if it's attractive in theory.

There's some weight to this objection; what's interesting is that it essentially mirrors one of Scalia's own objections to the use of legislative history in statutory interpretation (from his concurrence in Crosby v. National Foreign Trade Council):

[T]he portion of the Courts opinion that I consider irrelevant is quite extensive, comprising, in total, about one-tenth of the opinions size and (since it is in footnote type) even more of the opinions content. I consider that to be not just wasteful (it was not preordained, after all, that this was to be a 25-page essay) but harmful, since it tells future litigants that, even when a statute is clear on its face, and its effects clear upon the record, statements from the legislative history may help (and presumably harm) the case. If so, they must be researched and discussed by counselwhich makes appellate litigation considerably more time consuming, and hence considerably more expensive, than it need be. This to my mind outweighs the arguable good that may come of such persistent irrelevancy, at least when it is indulged in the margins: that it may encourage readers to ignore our footnotes.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:28 AM | Law 2002-04 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
LAW: Now That's Foreign!

Via Professor Tung Yin, a hilarious parody of Justice Ginsburg's ode to foreign law:

[T]he Supreme Court today voted 6-3 to jettison the Constitution in favor of Sharia law, effective immediately.

"Once we decided that foreign attitudes towards the law were more important than the framers' intent, the decision was a natural," said Justice David Souter. "Islam is the fastest growing religion on the planet, so it was obvious which law system was the most popular, and thus the most correct."

Dissenting from the decision were Justices Scalia and Thomas, who were last seen drinking bourbon straight from the bottle in a local watering hole before it was shut down by the newly organized American Religious Authority. Justice Bader Ginsburg also dissented from the decision, saying "This isn't what I meant at....." before she was dragged from the building, beaten, forced into a burkha and imprisoned for general immorality, standing in judgement over men, and being a Jew.

* * *

Former Justice O'Connor, who arrived before the vote clad in a burkha, has since resigned from the Court and directed all questions regarding her vote to her husband, which is only natural and proper.

ScrappleFace has a similar thought.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:25 AM | Law 2002-04 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
August 7, 2003
BASEBALL: Bring That Kid Up!

The Mets announcers just reported that Mike Piazza hit a 2-run homer in the 9th inning tonight in Norfolk.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:11 PM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Jason Giambi, Gold Glover?

Looking through the graphs of in-season Win Shares through August 2, 2003, I noticed something really odd: Dodgers shortstop Cesar Izturis is credited with 7.11 Win Shares, all of them in the field. I wonder what player holds the record for most Win Shares in a season entirely from defense. All I could find on this in Bill James' book was that Bill Bergen was the last regular player to regularly have no offensive Win Shares in a season.

I thought I'd look more closely at who the system rates as the best defensive player at each position in each league, both cumulatively and per inning (with more than 100 innings):

Pos.NL Cum.NL Per Inn.AL Cum.AL Per Inn.
CBrad AusmusMichael BarrettBen MolinaMolina
1BDerek LeeLyle OverbayDoug MentkeiwiczJason Giambi
2BAlex CoraCoraBret BooneTony Graffanino
SSIzturisIzturisJose ValentinValentin
3BDavid BellBellJoe CredeRobin Ventura
OFSteve FinleyRuben RiveraMike CameronCarlos Beltran
OFAndruw JonesFinleyBeltranCameron
OFCraig BiggioMarvin BenardTerrence LongDee Brown

Jason Giambi? Terrence Long? I think maybe I need a little more convincing on the merits of the defensive system.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:58 AM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)
POLITICS: Bad Day For Literacy

From Drudge:

Hillary Says Buying Books A Luxury For Most People
Tue Aug 05 2003 10:25:18 ET

Hillary Clinton on NBC Leno: "But people have been terrific. You know, they come to the line, they have stories, they tell me this is the first book they've ever bought or they bring their daughters to meet me."

Leno then asked whether "if they're an adult and this is the first book -- doesn't that say something about our education?"

Clinton replied, "Well, it might say something about their income. You know, books, for a lot of people books are a luxury. You know, maybe they go to the library instead."

Discussing protestors at her book signings, Leno said, "And for most of them, it would probably be the first book they ever bought." Hillary replied, "Or read."

What's really depressing here is the thought that some of these folks are going to come away with the idea that all books are like this one. I opened it at random in a bookstore at Penn Station a few weeks back, and within a few sentences, the thing was just unreadable -- a thick soup of cliches and trite sermonettes. No human being talks like this. A nonfiction book needs to take one of three approaches: (1) a conversational tone, (2) a stirring polemic, or (3) a gripping yarn you could tell over a campfire. Hillary's book is none of the above. At least nutjobs like Ann Coulter and Michael Moore can write.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:43 AM | Politics 2002-03 | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Welcome, Worn Out

Well, it took Armando Benitez a lot less time to wear out his welcome in the Bronx than it did in Baltimore or Queens. Of course, the Yankees get double the pleasure by sending Benitez to a team (Seattle, for Jeff Nelson) that they are likely to face in October. The fact that Benitez cleared waivers doesn't exactly bode well for his price on the free agent market this off-season.

ESPN is surprised that Benitez got traded, but citing Benitez' 1.93 ERA is rather deceptive, since he's allowed as many unearned as earned runs, and has allowed 6 walks (and 8 hits) in 9.1 IP with the Yanks.

Nelson's been much tougher: 37.2 IP, 47 K, 14 BB, 3 HR. He's allowed more hits than in the past, but that's something he has less control over. Yankees 1, idiots who blasted Pat Gillick for not making trades just for the sake of making trades, 0.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:40 AM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Stan Gets Some Love

Jeff Merron's list of the most underrated athletes of all time properly picks Stan Musial to head up the list; I've written before on this topic. Bill James:

He was never colorful, never much of an interview. He makes a better statue. What he was was a ballplayer. He didn't spit at fans, he didn't get into fights in nightclubs, he didn't marry anybody famous. He hustled. You look at his career totals of doubles and triples, and they'll remind you of something that was accepted while he was still active, and has been largely forgotten since: Stan Musial was one player who always left the batter's box on a dead run.

I'd also agree with Merron's James-inspired choices of Arky Vaughn and Lefty Grove, but not with Goose Gossage; the Goose should be in Cooperstown, yes, but there are others more deserving, and others in the Hall whose memories have faded to a greater extent.

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

I knew there was a reason I still like the guy: John McCain's recommended summer reading list includes "Moneyball." (It also includes Margaret Carlson's book; McCain understands that the way to the Beltway press corps' heart is to plug their books on a national radio show). Then there's his latest "Pork Report":

From the Defense Appropriations Bill:

*$12 million for the 21st Century Truck. This program has been around for years and not once has the Department of Defense requested funding for it. While I'm sure we all would love to jump into a truck that could be in a James Bond movie, I'm not sure it is appropriate for the Department of Defense to pay for it.

*$3.4 million for the Next Generation Smart Truck. I suppose this is what we will drive before the 21st Century Truck is ready.

James Taranto has rightly wondered whether politicians can blog, but McCain is one of the few who at least has the right attitude: he's contrarian, he's sarcastic, he speaks before he thinks, and he doesn't much care who he offends. Come to think of it, those are the same reasons why he unraveled as a presidential candidate.

Now if only he'd renounce his support for Shoeless Joe Jackson . . .

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:16 AM | Baseball 2002-03 • | Politics 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Lileks is Back

In fine form: "If Arnold is the savior of California, I guess that means that Jesse Ventura was his John the Baptist." Plus, his thoughts on the new Episcopal bishop.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:15 AM | Politics 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
LAW: Foreign Law

Eugene Volokh had some useful thoughts on the issue noted by The Mad Hibernian below: the use of foreign precedents in American courts. I agree with Volokh that there's nothing wrong in theory with using foreign precedents from similar cases as persuasive authority regarding genuinely unsettled questions, the way the courts of one state will do with decisions from another state. The key issues, though, are whether the cases are similar and whether the issues are truly unique:

1. European opinions (let's not pretend that "international" law means anything but Europe) may be persuasive in construing similar constitutional or statutory provisions, moreso if they are rendered by courts with a similar common law tradition such as Britain. They are not, however, persuasive merely because they reach a particular result. Thus, for example, decisions about the death penalty would not be persuasive if rendered by a jurisdiction whose governing rule is something distinct from "cruel and unusual punishment," and decisions about homosexuality (the latest hot button discussed in many of these debates) would not be persuasive if rendered by a jurisdiction whose governing rule is something distinct from "equal protection of the law."

2. Likewise, European decisions should have no weight in cases, such as Lawrence v. Texas or Atkins v. Virginia, where there is already binding precedent from our own Supreme Court. This is the real objection of conservatives: not to considering European cases as persuasive of the meaning of unsettled interpretive questions, but to the use of European opinion to declare our own precedents to be "out of step with world opinion" or some such nonsense.

Democracy, civil liberties, the rule of law and separation of powers have been out of step with European opinion for most of our history. The Justices would do well to remember that.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:10 AM | Law 2002-04 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
August 6, 2003
POLITICS: The Brew Test

One of the questions political people ask about a candidate -- especially a presidential candidate -- is, "would you want to have a beer with this guy?" It may be unfair, and it may be a male-oriented question, but the political reality is that the voting public tends to look for a relaxed, easygoing manner in their president -- partly as a signal of some fundamental stability, partly because we are inviting this guy into our living rooms for four years, and don't want to wind up like that Saturday Night Live sketch where President Al Gore is giving droning lectures and pop quizzes to the nation. This phenomenon crosses party lines; Reagan and George W. Bush benefitted from the perception that they were guys you could have a relaxing chat over a beer with, and so did Clinton and JFK.

So how do today's Democrats survive the brew test? Here's one man's ranking:

1. Joe Lieberman. Lieberman suffers with Democratic voters from the perception that . . . well, as Jon Stewart put it, "Lieberman is the candidate for people who like George W. Bush but think he's not Jewish enough." Conservatives like me tend to like him for the same reason, although Lieberman's actual voting record, at least on domestic policy, is fairly conventionally liberal. (In fact, outside of the Big Two issues of national security and taxes, Lieberman may be more liberal than Howard Dean).

But Lieberman's personality may actually be one of his secret weapons; he seems like a fundamentally sane guy (his religious upbringing is undoubtedly a plus), and yet he's got just enough dry humor to avoid coming off as dull as, say, Bob Graham.

Of course, this isn't a consensus. Will Saletan of Slate finds Lieberman as dull as dishwater, and he's seen a lot more of him on the stump than I have. And some people find "pious Joe" and his moral pronouncements grating. But I still think he's a guy you wouldn't mind having a normal conversation with.

2. Dick Gephardt. First of all, you can see the Geniality Gap in stark relief when Dick Gephardt is my second choice to share a beer with. This is totally subjective, but while Gephardt speaks in soundbites, you get the sense that he's not so much a focus group guy as more like a high school debater who thinks politicians are supposed to sound like this if they want to push their constitutents' buttons about "The Rich." The fact that Gephardt comes from a fairly humble background also gets some points for normality here.

3. John Edwards. Ditto on that last point for Edwards, but by now we're already into the territory of people I would actively dislike even if they weren't running for president. Edwards just seems too damn satisfied with how smooth he is, and doesn't seem like a guy who could turn that "off" to stand around a barbecue grill on a summer day and just shoot the breeze.

4. Al Sharpton. OK, I really, really hate Al Sharpton; you have to be from New York to truly understand why. But at least he'd tell some entertaining whoppers. Downside: you'd have to pick up the tab.

5. Carol Mosely-Braun. By default. Her personality doesn't make much of an impression.

6. Bob Graham. 7-7:15: Consumed beer with blogger. 7:15-7:20: Took a leak.

7. John Kerry. Kerry has cornered the market on the elusive Al Gore Grand Slam of personality traits: he manages to come off as simultaneously mean, boring, condescending and insincere. Try it sometime -- it's not easy. Like Gore, you get the sense that Kerry -- also a son of privilege -- decided to run for president by looking in a mirror and thinking, "I really look presidential."

8. Howard Dean. The New Hampshire Primary has historically been very good to angry candidates and scrappy insurgents. Not so for the general election, as Andrew Sullivan notes. It's easy to get caught up in the guy who's angriest at the other side; I did myself in 2000, when I backed McCain in the primaries. You may have forgotten this, but McCain's campaign took off at the precise moment when his stump speech turned up the heat on Clinton and Gore and their lack of integrity in ways Bush seemed afraid to do. One of the risks, of course, is that like McCain, Dean will turn his anger against his own party (we've seen the beginnings of this with his sniping at Kerry and now Lieberman; wait and see if he goes after the DLC the way McCain went after social conservatives).

Ever seen Dean try to smile? It's frightening (Jon Stewart did a good bit on this last night). And everything I've read about Dean's career as Vermont governor backs up the idea that bristling anger is his default mode and not just some act for the benefit of the primaries.

9. Dennis Kucinich. Nothing spoils a good beer like a stern lecture about how our society cruelly oppresses hops and barley.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:24 AM | Politics 2002-03 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
August 5, 2003
BASEBALL: One-Two Punch

You can pick a number of candidates for glory in the White Sox recent run, but the leading ones have to be Carlos Lee and Paul Konerko. Since June 24, Lee is batting .322/.611/.348 (compared to .255/.431/.314) and has driven in 33 runs in 37 games; Konerko, who slumbered through the season's first three months at a .185/.265/.260 pace, has batted .341/.671/.372 with 25 RBI in 30 games since July 1.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:02 AM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
HISTORY: Whacking The Duke

I'm still not sure what to make of the story that Josef Stalin wanted John Wayne killed. MSNBC can't seem to decide, though, whether this comes from a bio of Stalin or of the Duke.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:42 AM | History | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

John Perricone moves to a new home; check it out. Now, if he could only get rid of that bar at the bottom.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:40 AM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
LAW: The Dog That Didn't Bark

Harvey Fierstein, writing in last Thursday's NY Times about his view that too many young gay men are too cavalier -- or worse -- about HIV, argues that "Many of our young men see infection as a right of passage, an inevitable coming of age."

Um, shouldn't that be a "rite of passage"?

The article, by the way, reminded me of something interesting. Maybe I missed something, but in all the hoopla over the Supreme Court's determination in Lawrence v. Texas that there was no legitimate state interest in banning homosexual sodomy while not banning heterosexual sodomy, I didn't see anybody -- parties or commentators -- argue that homosexual sodomy is uniquely likely to spread disease. Certainly, such an argument would not be entirely implausible, given the history of the AIDS virus and the fact (correct me if I'm wrong about this, but I'm sure I've read this somewhere) that anal sex in particular is conducive to passing germs from one bloodstream to the next, as well as the fact that the Court in the past has accepted restrictions on liberty (such as mandatory vaccinations) in the name of medical science.

The absence of this argument is interesting on a couple of levels. First, I suspect that the proponents of the law either wanted to test the assertion that morality alone is a valid basis for law or felt that Justices Kennedy and O'Connor would be more receptive to that argument. Second, it now seems that people may feel that a "medical" argument connected to AIDS is actually more offensive or stigmatizing than a moral one, and thus may have felt it improper to make the argument. Third, times have changed since 1986 and Bowers v. Hardwick; while the opinion says nothing on the subject, the AIDS epidemic was certainly on many minds on the time; today, not a peep was heard about it in all the commentary. And fourth, perhaps the "medicalization of morality" -- so prevalent today in debates over smoking or even guns -- has its limits.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:35 AM | Law 2002-04 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
August 3, 2003
POLITICS: The Libertarian Moment

For years now, libertarians have been promising us that they have a better way, superior to the two major parties. The blogosphere in particular is home to many, many well-known self-identified libertarians. And the Libertarian Party keeps telling us things like, "Don't be a sellout, vote your principles."

But all of this can be advocated from the safety of the sidelines, as true libertarians -- as opposed to libertarian-leaning Republicans -- are rarely in any danger of assuming substantial public office. No longer. Because we now have the ideal situation brewing in California for a libertarian to assume the governorship of the nation's largest state, one that's suffering terribly from an addiction to Big Government, and prove that a libertarian can actually govern.

The recall in California, especially if there's a crowded ballot, will present the ideal conditions for a third-party run: a candidate with a well-honed message could win the race with just 15-20% of the vote. The Democrats have yet to put a major, big-name alternative candidate on the ballot, and the Republicans may split the vote between conservatives like Bill Simon and more liberal GOP candidates like Richard Riordan (it remains to be seen if Ah-nold will jump into the race this week, but if he doesn't, the field remains more open).

The Republican dilemma in California has, for some time, been based on two problems. First, the GOP's social conservatism, on issues like abortion, has been a major handicap; pro-lifers may be popular in most of the country, but not California. Second, lingering bitterness over Proposition 187 and other divisive issues -- some of it unfairly, but for these purposes that's beside the point -- has made it nearly impossible for the GOP to reach not only the ever-growing Latino community, but many moderate white and Asian-American voters as well, who have bought into the Davis machine's rhetoric about the "right-wing" menace.

A libertarian candidate could overcome these obstacles. There'd be other problems, of course: You'd need to pick just one candidate; you'd need someone who's got some name recognition from business, show biz or some other field; you'd probably need a candidate who could fund much of his or her candidacy, in the absence of an established libertarian fundraising network.

And you'd have to be practical. Instead of calling for repeal of the drug laws, focus more narrowly on fighting the Justice Department's position on medical marijuana and advocate more limited reductions in some drug laws and penalties. Offer other ways to cut back government that go deeper than GOP remedies without getting locked into debates about privatizing the fire department. A libertarian would have the burden of proving that he or she could actually go to Sacramento and get something done.

But if it can't be done in California now -- when the state Democrats are thoroughly discredited, the GOP is divided and not entirely innocent of the whole mess, and the electorate is irate -- it can't be done. It's the libertarians' moment -- will they take it?

Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:07 AM | Politics 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (3)
August 2, 2003
BASEBALL: Dan Duquette Sings!

In "Damn Yankees," of course. It's probably more entertaining than Don Zimmer's hemorrhoid commercials.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 4:03 PM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Rough start for Jae Seo today; the home run to JD Drew following the grand slam by Bo Hart was a classic example of a young pitcher throwing another pitch before getting his composure together after giving up a big blow.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 3:03 PM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: It Depends on the Definition of . . .

I chuckled when USAToday's headline after Bush's press conference was "President Defines Marriage". Imagine that headline for his predecessor.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:19 AM | Politics 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Over a Million Taxpayer Dollars to Rehash Paul Krugman!

Byron York has the scoop over at NRO: that nutty Berkeley study about how conservatism is a form of mental illness (1) was heavily underwritten by you and I and (2) relied heavily for its governing assumptions about today's Republicans on -- I swear I am not making this up -- that noted scholar of conservatism, Paul Krugman's columns in the New York Times.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:23 AM | Politics 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
WAR: Don't Read This While Eating

Mark Steyn on Liberia; Steyn's unerring instinct for the telling detail is on display here; read the whole thing, since I'm afraid to even quote any of this column here.

As I've said before, we shouldn't send our troops to Liberia if we don't intend to take sides and commit to escalate our presence to protect our forces if things get hairy. The major point Steyn makes is that we really don't want to side with any of the rebels, and President Charles Taylor hasn't been shown to be quite bad enough to take the tack we did in Afghanistan of prioritizing destroying the current regime and then letting the chips fall where they may in the aftermath.

For many of the reasons that co-blogger The Mad Hibernian has set out in some detail, I still remain open to persuasion that we have a strategic interest in Liberia that could justify intervening, in terms of Taylor's possible Al Qaeda connections and in terms of the growing strategic importance (yes, including oil) of the region as a whole. James Robbins has also made a fairly persuasive argument for intervention in explicitly imperialist terms. But I haven't been sold on that case yet. I don't buy for an instant the idea that we should just go in on the blithe assumption that it will be easy enough that we won't have to kill anybody; if we go in, we should expect war, and be prepared to stay a very long time. The question -- one that Robbins faces up to directly -- is whether West Africa is a place we want to be for a very long time.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:14 AM | War 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
August 1, 2003
BASEBALL: Barry and the Babe

So Barry Bonds gets cocky about Babe Ruth; I guess nobody warned him what happened to Pedro when he did the same thing (hint: there was a D involved. And an L.) And some people want to argue that Bonds really is better than Ruth was.

Well, Bonds is putting together a nice resume. But, even if you put aside more sophisticated measurements like Win Shares (entering last season, Ruth led 756 to 523, leaving Bonds quite a ways to go even counting some 60-70 Win Shares since then), let's keep a little perspective here:

1. Batting Average:

Babe Ruth - .342 Career average.

Barry Bonds - .295 career average, 16 consecutive seasons batting below .342, 1 season batting above .342.

2. Slugging Average:

Babe Ruth - .690

Barry Bonds - .595 career average, 15 consecutive seasons slugging below .690, 2 seasons slugging above .690.

3. On Base Percentage:

Babe Ruth - .474

Barry Bonds - .428 career average, 15 consecutive seasons w/OBP below .474, 2 seasons w/OBP above .474.

(Yes, I know about the differences in offensive context, but believe me; it doesn't bridge that gap. And talk to me when Bonds has had a season like 1916, when Ruth won an ERA title, won 23 games, threw 9 shutouts, pitched a 14-inning 2-1 victory in the World Series and, for good measure, cracked 3 home runs in a season when he threw 323.2 innings without allowing a batter to go deep on him even once).

Charles Kuffner has more.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:48 PM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Why Call Robin?

Fun fact, for those of you still scratcing your heads over why the Dodgers would trade for Robin Ventura: Adrian Beltre has gone hitless 49 times this season, including 23 times in 42 games against the rest of the NL West. I don't have comparison stats, but that seems like a lot of ofers to watch without losing faith in a guy.

Beltre's batting .440, slugging .600 and has a .462 OBP in 6 games this year at Coors Field; in the other 36 games against NL West opponents, here's his line:


Stuff like that is hard to sit through. As for the Yankees' acquisition of Aaron Boone, it's worth noting that Boone's OBP (.339) is actually slightly lower than Ventura's (.344), and Boone's was .314 last season. Clearly, though, the Yankees are looking to Boone for power.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:21 AM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)