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Baseball Crank
"It gets late early around here." - Yogi Berra
March 31, 2004
BASEBALL: Roto Part II

Well, I'm feeling much better now about coughing up $22 for Jorge Posada for my rotisserie team. I also have a second team, an AL-NL league, auto-drafted on Yahoo, 5x5 (traditional 8 categories plus Runs Scored and K), head-to-head, ten franchises, so each one is quite a bit stronger than your regular roto squad. Here's how mine came out in yesterday morning's auto-draft:

Read More »


Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:19 AM | Baseball 2004 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Poll Taxing

Via Andrew Sullivan, the early results show a strong pro-Bush swing in the battleground states following his initial TV ad campaign. Perhaps most notable is this result:

14. If John Kerry were to win the election in November, do you think your federal income taxes would go up, or not?

Yes, would 58%
No, would not 27%
No opinion 15%

That's never a good omen for a presidential candidate.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:06 AM | Politics 2004 • | Poll Analysis | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Ellis Down

The potential loss of Mark Ellis for the season (also noted here) is a big blow to the A's, who had counted on Ellis as the lynchpin of their infield defense, especially while breaking in new shortstop Bobby Crosby (who, as it turned out, broke Ellis instead). With the demise of the A's high-OBP formula, the team has increasingly relied on pitching and defense, and will now scramble for the latter. Frank Menechino and Esteban German are named as likely stopgaps, although ex-Met Marco Scutaro may also be in the mix.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:02 AM | Baseball 2004 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS/WAR: Who Is Sibel Dinez Edmonds?

Powerline notes that the always-unhinged Paul Begala is calling Condoleazza Rice a liar in large part on the strength of allegations made by one Sibel Dinez Edmonds, a disgruntled former FBI translator who was hired after September 11. I noted Edmonds' sensational charges here.

Also on Powerline: a hilarious commentary on John Kerry's snowboarding attire.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:40 AM | Politics 2004 • | War 2004 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
LAW: Now This Is Power

Generally, when judges snap their fingers, lawyers come a'-runnin'. For Howard Bashman, it's the other way around: Bashman puts out a call at 9:40 a.m. yesterday for a substitute federal or state appeals judge to do his "20 questions" blog interview, and by 6:11 p.m. he can report that "more than one volunteer came forward."

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:37 AM | Law 2002-04 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Not Ready for Prime Time

Jon Weisman says I told you so in observing that promising youngster Edwin Jackson's rotation slot with the Dodgers is in jeopardy from a bad spring.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:34 AM | Baseball 2004 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS/WAR: Daily Clarke, 3/31/04

So the Bush Administration gets thrown in the briar patch yet again by allowing Condi Rice to testify. You gotta admit, Bush sure knows when to fold 'em. I'm actually distressed at the precedent here - refusing to let the National Security Council staff testify is something other administrations have stood for as well (including the 1999 refusal to allow Richard Clarke to testify). Chalk up another one for how little this whole September 11 commission will accomplish besides just scoring political points.

More on the Clarke Affair:

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Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:22 AM | Politics 2004 • | War 2004 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: The Scarlet R

I actually caught this one on the Daily Show the other night - here's Bob Novak on Crossfire talking to Rahm Emanuel about Richard Clarke:

NOVAK: Congressman, do you believe, you're a sophisticated guy, do you believe watching these hearings that Dick Clarke has a problem with this African-American woman Condoleezza Rice?

EMANUEL: Say that again?

NOVAK: Do you believe that Dick Clarke has a problem with this African-American woman Condoleezza Rice?

EMANUEL: No, no. Bob, give me a break. No. No.

Is it possible that Clarke is a racist? Well, I don't know the man. Bob Novak almost certainly does. But while public reports have certainly suggested that Clarke resented working for Rice, I haven't seen anybody put forth a shred of evidence that would indicate that his problem had anything to do with her race, or for that matter her being a woman. And unless Bob Novak knows something we don't (in which case he should have shared it, and his failure to do so suggests pretty strongly what the answer is), shame, shame on him for suggesting otherwise.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:01 AM | Politics 2004 | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)
LAW: We Have Our Sources

Can the government place monitoring software on a child porn sex offender's computer as a condition of probation? The Second Circuit isn't prepared to say no, but nonetheless remands the particular sentence in light of the inherent privacy intrusion.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:54 AM | Law 2002-04 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POP CULTURE: In The Bucket

I don't know much about "Buckethead," but suppose you could have predicted that his collaboration with Guns n' Roses would not go entirely smoothly. Gawker has an amusing press release in which Axl Rose vents.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:47 AM | Pop Culture | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
March 30, 2004
BASEBALL: The Game Is Afoot

Ladies and Gentlemen: your last place New York Yankees!

Head here and scroll down to see David Pinto's live blogging of this morning's game. From what I saw, the Yanks have some work to do on their defense. But, of course, it is early.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:07 AM | Baseball 2004 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: 2004 NL West Established Win Shares Report

At long last, I've gotten back around to finishing another Established Win Shares Levels report, this one for the NL West. It's not looking so hot for getting the other two divisions up before the non-Japanese part of the MLB schedule opens up on April 6, but I'll do what I can, and hope to have the whole thing wrapped by the first week of the season. If you're just joining this enterprise in progress, you can start by checking out my prior reports:

*Top 25 Players in Baseball and explanation of EWSL method

*AL West EWSL Report & explanation of team method

*AL East EWSL Report & slight modification to team method

*AL Central EWSL Report

Recall that the projected win totals are probably a bit on the low side, in part because I only list 23 players, and that these aren't really projections at all, so much as estimates of how much established major league talent is on each roster. On to the Mild, Mild West:

Read More »


Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:45 AM | Baseball 2004 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
March 29, 2004
BLOG: From the Blogfather

A big milestone today, as we've been added to Instapundit's blogroll, strategically wedged in between Grateful Dead songwriter John Perry Barlow and appellate law blogger Howard Bashman. For those of you visiting here for the first time, look around; we've been here a while, and there's plenty to read.

While I'm on the subject of benefactors, a word for a sponsor: you'll note that I'm currently running a Blogad for TimeWarner Cable's RoadRunner high-speed internet service. I've had RoadRunner since we upgraded to a new computer in the fall of 2000, and with one exception (last summer's blackout), I've had nothing but good to say about the service.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:26 PM | Blog 2002-05 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
BLOG: Prayers For Buck

Terrible, terrible news from Instapundit, who passes on word that Stuart Buck has suffered a pair of strokes and is hospitalized. Personally, that's really scary - Buck's three years younger than I am, was a few years behind me at Harvard Law, and he's also a big-firm lawyer with small children at home. He's also a religious guy and a fine blogger. Say a prayer for him and his family.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:30 AM | Blog 2002-05 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: The Bleeder

If you think you've had a tough month: Brendan Donnelly has lost half the blood in his body from severe nosebleeds after breaking his nose in 20 places when he was hit in the face by a fly ball March 9.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:56 AM | Baseball 2004 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
WAR: The Rumor Files

Presented without further comment: This Powerline item from last week on new evidence of Saddam's Al Qaeda ties caught my attention, although I haven't tracked down the followup enough to have an opinion on whether it holds up.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:51 AM | War 2004 | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS/WAR: Then and Now

I've noted this before, but it is sometimes useful to look back:

John Kerry, 2004:

[President Bush] misled the American people in his own State of the Union Address about Saddam's nuclear program and WMD's.

John Kerry, October 9, 2002:

Iraq has some lethal and incapacitating agents and is capable of quickly producing weaponizing of a variety of such agents, including anthrax, for delivery on a range of vehicles, such as bombs, missiles, aerial sprayers and covert operatives which would bring them to the United States itself.

In addition, we know they are developing unmanned aerial vehicles capable of delivering chemical and biological warfare agents.

According to the CIAs report, all U.S. intelligence experts agree that they are seeking nuclear weapons. There is little question that Saddam Hussein wants to develop them.

In the wake of September 11, who among us can say with any certainty to anybody that the weapons might not be used against our troops or against allies in the region? Who can say that this master of miscalculation will not develop a weapon of mass destruction even greater, a nuclear weapon?

Who indeed?

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:41 AM | Politics 2004 • | War 2004 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
LAW: Appealing Advice

This Myron Moskovitz column has some good basic advice for lawyers working on an appeal, something I've done a lot of recently. And this nugget, from Howard Bashman's interview with Judge Ruggero J. Aldisert of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, should make a particular impression as far as the need for clarity and concision:

When I became a member of the Third Circuit in 1968 each active judge was responsible for deciding 90 appeals a year. The national average was 93. That was "Then."

But "Now" in the Third Circuit, each active judge was responsible for deciding 381 cases in 2002, 327 in 2001, 330 in 2000; and 381 in 1997. That's fully briefed cases on the merits. The national average in 2002 was 485 per active judge, up from 429 in 1997. Divide 485 cases by 255 working days a year and you start to get the message I have been preaching for years -- to no avail. One-A-Day is a great name for vitamins, but I doubt that it's equally great in describing the caseload for U.S. Circuit judges.

You must understand that the case you file with us moves along an assembly line of over one case every 4.9 hours. Think about it. That's the time allotted to your case. In that time, the judge must read the briefs, research the law, perhaps hear argument, conference with colleagues, make a decision, write an opinion or order, examine draft opinions written by other judges, and at the same time study motions in other cases or petitions for rehearing. And, of course, travel to the court, check into the hotel. Answer the phone. One fully briefed case for decision every 4.9 hours.

All of this in the highest court to which a federal litigant has a right to take an appeal. Today there is no quiet library time. The circuit judge is on a treadmill, and your case comes to him or her in the midst of a gallop. No time to taste the morsels you dish up for a leisurely dinner here -- a fast-food menu is all that's available.

(Emphasis added).

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:29 AM | Law 2002-04 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
March 28, 2004
BLOG: Dear Mr. Yard

Q: Mr. Yard - I'm a busy New York lawyer who prefers blogging to yard work on the weekends. Several months ago, I trimmed the hedges in front of my house, and put the clippings in overstuffed bags in two garbage cans. But it was getting dark and I had other stuff to do, so I left the cans (without lids) by the side of the house, where over the proceeding months they accumulated rainwater and melted ice and snow mixed with the branches and leaves. Now I'm ready to transfer the clippings into bags to put out with the trash. Any advice?

A: You are a moron. When you empty out the bags, they will smell like a herd of woolly mammoths took a dump in your driveway. You'll probably have to burn everything you were wearing, and hosing down the driveway won't make the stench go away. If you're fortunate, your neighbors will shun you. If not, your head will be mounted on a post as a warning to the other homeowners.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:31 PM | Blog 2002-05 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Timo Gone

So the Mets have dealt Timo Perez to the White Sox for Matt Ginter, a decidedly unimpressive pitching prospect. This was the next best thing to dumping Roger Cedeno, who unlike Timo is entirely useless, as GM Jim Duquette concedes:

"We're still trying to find a more meaningful role for Roger, which I'm not sure exists right now,"
Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:15 AM | Baseball 2004 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: We Don't Really Care

More cleaning out the archives of things I'd meant to post . . . Greg Skidmore at Sports Law Blog argues that the steroid scandal and the Kobe Bryant scandal are just the latest examples of things people talk about but that, in the end, fans will ignore when it's time to pony up for tickets:

[F]ans care much less about what players do on their own time and much more about what they do on the field. Major League Baseball lost its greatest number of fans, not because of any off-the-field scandal, after the strike in 1994, which took players off the field and cancelled the World Series. Fans have often responded to criminal allegations with cheers and not boos. The sports world has recently witnessed this phenomenon in the context of Kobe Bryant, who has been resoundly cheered in many arenas. Ray Lewis was charged with manslaughter, but Ravens fans continue to buy his jersey by the hundreds. Numerous professional athletes have been suspended for drug abuse, sanctioned for domestic battery and charged with driving under the influence. Does this matter? Not so long as the player continues to hit home runs, hit buzzer beaters and rush for 100 yards a game.

I don't think it's just sports fans, either; this is equally true of Martha Stewart, who people want to see stay out of prison more because she does good things for them than because they care about her. It's also why Marv Albert was welcomed back by Knicks fans. Forgiven? Not so much as we just wanted to hear him do the games again.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:33 AM | Baseball 2004 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
WAR: Straight From The Horse's . . .

If you haven't already, you need to check out Smash's account from last week (here, here and here) of his attendance at an anti-war rally and his interview with one of the speakers. Unbelievable. There's only so much effort you need to expend on these people, but it's always enlightening to see what makes them tick. As Lileks put it:

These people are the fringe of the left; yes. They are the Klan with out the sheets. Worse: they don't have the inbred moonshine-addled mah-pappy-hated-nigras-an-I-hate-'em-too dense-as-a-neutron-star stupidity of your average Kluxer. They didn't come to this level of stupidity naturally. They had to work at it. I'm sure you'll find in these pictures people who have cool jobs in San Francisco, people who get grants, write code, run the coffee-frother at a funky bookstore, and have no problem marching alongside someone who spells Israel with swastika instead of an S.

You can see an effective parody of this mindset in Frank J's Universal Democratic Underground thread, which -- if you've spent much time at the comment boards of the big left-wing sites -- is pretty dead-on accurate.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:25 AM | War 2004 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: So Then John Said To George . . .

The latest: Kerry criticizes Bush for criticizing Clarke for criticizing Bush.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:18 AM | Politics 2004 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
March 27, 2004
BASEBALL: Look Back In Horror

Chris at A Large Regular has some thoughts on the 1991 baseball draft.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:36 PM | Baseball 2004 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Scouting KazMat

David Cameron had a mixed review of Kaz Matsui's batting technique over at Baseball Prospectus (subscription only):

The main obstacle to overcome will be balance at the plate. Matsui, like Ichiro, tends to transfer his weight forward far earlier than most major league hitters. By the time the bat catches up to his body, he's leaning forward on his front foot, and has eliminated the power that comes from the lower half of the body on contact. His wrists are quick enough to get the bat through the zone and his bat speed still allows him to pull the ball. However, with the weight already leading him toward the mound, he compensates by swinging down on the ball, creating a large number of worm-burning grounders and low line drives.

Occasionally, he keeps his weight back in a more orthodox approach, but adds an uppercut loop to his swing, ostensibly to create more power. Whether this is something the Mets have been working with him on or something he brought from Japan, it does not look natural, and it creates a hole in his swing that can easily be exploited by good breaking balls down in the zone. It is clear that he prefers his hack-and-slash method that improves bat control but robs him of any real power.

Read the whole thing, if you can.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:39 PM | Baseball 2004 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BLOG: Why One Blog?

Rich Ceccarelli, who runs the Pearly Gates Angels blog and Neo Conservative Daily, a political blog, explains why he (like Mac Thomason and Jason Steffens) runs two blogs:

I know that many bloggers mix baseball and politics (most notably Baseball Crank), but I feel that it is wrong in some way to do so. Most people go to Pearly Gates for Angels news and opinion, and not to be preached at. I want to respect their right not to be bombarded with political opinions that they don't necessarily share. I know that it really annoys me when I'm looking at a Red Sox blog and I see nothing but left-wing rhetoric and petty name-calling.

I'm very sympathetic to this argument, which is why I've tried to make it as easy as possible for readers of this site to bypass the non-baseball content. Frankly, I run one blog rather than two partly for my own convenience and partly because - well, sometimes I feel like writing about one topic and sometimes another. Combining my various interests on a single blog ensures that there will be more regular content here.

If you can't stand my politics, you're certainly still welcome here - you can read the political stuff and bicker with it, or you can ignore it and skip to the baseball. Either way, I hope you enjoy your stay and come again. Play ball!

Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:21 AM | Blog 2002-05 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Steroids on the Brain

Jody Gerut, at his weblog, argues why baseball's steroids policy shouldn't be beefed up:

The point of most contention is that the first time you test positive, your identity is concealed. Personally, I like the idea that if by chance a player tests positive the first time he has a chance to correct it before his identity is made known, and I don't believe this is clandestine, sneaky, or underhanded in any way. I don't take steroids, but I do take a number of vitamin and protein supplements in order to make sure I'm getting enough nutrients. If by chance one of these supplements is creating an anabolic effect causing me to test positive, I want to have the chance to show the designated doctors all of my supplements to determine which one is creating the false positive. That way I can either throw it out or if the test itself is flawed they can reassess the test before anything is made public. Consider what happens to me if on the first try I test positive and that information is made available to everyone. Everything that I have worked for in my career is now tainted with this false positive. All the weight training, mental training, visual training, education, preparatory work with defense, offense, my reputation, everything... thousands and thousands of hours of work- gone in an instant. And even if I am later cleared of any wrongdoing and it is decided that I did not violate the spirit of the rules, that accusation would follow me forever, even after I was done playing the game.

Quite frankly, I don't need that stress.

We could go to Olympic testing standards. 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Sounds good, right? It sounded good to me until I heard it like this: 365 days means that every time you go to your uncle's house, or to a movie, or to a bar, or to church, or if you are sound asleep in your own bed, a knock on your door can come at any time of the day for you to be tested. And if you are not home they will come and find you whereever you are and force you to test. They even go as far as making you register when you leave your hometown and for any reason, be it Thanksgiving at a family member's house, and weekend in South Beach, or a safari in Africa. They will find you if your number is called. Still sound good to you? No, it didn't sound good to me either after it was put to me this way.

I think Gerut is probably overstating the privacy intrustions on 365-days-a-year testing, but he does have a point about not releasing the player's name on a single test result. Read the whole thing.

(Link via Clutch Hits).

Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:10 AM | Baseball 2004 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (1)
BASEBALL: More McGriff

Following up on my point the other day on Fred McGriff, the Baseball Prospectus' PECOTA forecast is pretty kind to McGriff, projecting out his weighted median forecast at .265/.472/.346, with a 60th percentile projection of .273/.486/.352. Those aren't great numbers, but they certainly suggest a guy who deserves a roster spot. Then there's his baseball-reference profile; consider the OPS+ figures at age 40 for the 10 most similar players at age 39:

Reggie Jackson - 116
Willie McCovey - 97
Willie Stargell - 130
Chili Davis - Retired
Tony Perez - 105
Ernie Banks - 52
Dave Winfield - 137
Harold Baines - 132
Dwight Evans - Retired
Eddie Murray - 87

Two retired guys and two disasters (Banks and Murray), yes, but also one guy who was still a contributor (Reggie) and three who were still smacking the ball (Stargell, Winfield, and Baines). But all this assumes that you're taking McGriff straight up, when in fact, like a lot of aging players, his value could be maximized by platooning him. The Crime Dog batted .275/.441/.365 last season against RHP, compared to a pitiable .194/.398/.219 against LHP. Over the past three seasons, his splits are .297/.532/.380 against RHP and .240/.431/.304 against LHP. That's where he could still have value.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:41 AM | Baseball 2004 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
WAR/POLITICS: Clarke Star Crashing

Some controversies, you can't blog halfway, and with so many people blogging on the Clarke thing and so much new dirt on the guy every day, it's been pretty pointless for me to try to keep up even if I hadn't been swamped at work all week. One thought, on his easily disproven whopper about Condi Rice: there's no older cliche in the political book than disgruntled insiders claiming people they met with didn't know what was going on. Hell, they tried that with George Washington.

For what it's worth, here's my link-free, bottom-line take on what I think we know thus far about the propriety of blaming Clinton and/or Bush for September 11 (I may or may not go back and dig up the supporting links on this some other day, but it's all out there):

1. With the benefit of hinsdight, it's now clear that Clinton's people screwed up our anti-terror policy, beginning after the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, through too much caution about committing to use military force and by a law enforcement-centered approach, despite having regularly considered more aggressive approaches.

2. In so doing, they were largely unchallenged by the GOP and not sufficiently challenged by the conservative press.

3. Had Clinton moved more aggressively, he would have had qualified support from some on the Right and the center-left, but the public appetite for a military response wasn't there, and would have been difficult for Clinton to generate without a major attack. It would have been a test of even Clinton's powers of persuasion.

4. Clinton's people knew well how bad the overall threat was, and warned Bush's people about the nature of the threat.

5. On the other hand, they didn't hand over any kind of a strategy or plan to do anything about it other than a continuation of the prior insufficient efforts.

6. Clinton also recognized the Saddam problem -- that the 'containment' regime's premises had collapsed and the status quo was ultimately unsustainable -- but similarly didn't hand over any strategy to do anything about Saddam.

7. Bush & Gore both recognized in the 2000 campaign that the status quo with Iraq needed to change, and both would have headed towards a clash with Saddam even without 9/11.

8. Neither Bush nor Gore said much about bin Laden or terrorism in the 2000 campaign. It was not an issue and didn't even come up at the debates.

9. The Bush Administration, like its predecessor, did nothing of significance on terror or on Iraq for its first 8 months in office.

10. However, the Bush Administration appears to have been developing strategies to deal with both problems (bin Laden and Saddam) by early September 2001, albeit without the urgency we'd want, with hindsight, to have seen from both Bush & Clinton.

11. The Bush Administration also seems to have had some warnings about Al Qaeda using airplanes as a weapon - in fact, I checked and there were widespread press accounts in June 2001 of Al Qaeda reportedly plotting use airplanes as a weapon at the G8 summit in Italy that summer - but never got more specific information, in part because of pre-Patriot Act restrictions on law enforcement's ability to connect the dots.

Bottom line: yes, in hindsight, both the Bush and Clinton Administrations, with more foresight, could have done more on both counts. Yes, they should have done more. Yes, I hand Clinton the larger share of the blame, at least as far as the failure to develop a long-range offensive strategy is concerned - whereas it appears that Bush was at least thinking in that direction. On the defensive question (i.e., having the homeland on alert), there's less to fault Clinton and a bit to question about Bush, but I regard the failings as mostly institutional - the problem was the inability to pursue evidentiary leads and get urgent warnings up the ladder, rather than a failure of leadership.

But the blame isn't, in my view, the important question - as I said, none of it is entirely damning, and it's bipartisan in nature. The important question is what's been learned. The Bush Administration, of course, is famously unwilling to throw red meat to its critics by admitting error (witness what happened when they gave an inch on the State of the Union), but its actions have shown a willingness to re-evaluate U.S. military doctrine and law enforcement practice in numerous ways since. The Democrats . . . not so much. I really don't have confidence that John Kerry, who's been busy blasting Bush for being too eager to go to war and who's campaigned against the expanded law enforcement powers of the Patriot Act, has really learned anything.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:17 AM | Politics 2004 • | War 2004 | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)
March 26, 2004
WAR: American Warlord

Hey, doesn't that sound like a cool reality show? But it's also the military strategy du jour in Afghanistan. Link via Vodkapundit.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:37 PM | War 2004 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BLOG: Quizzed Again

It looks like I'm not the only one to do a John Kerry song. So I go over to Michele's place to remember where I got the link, and instead she sucks me in to another one of those dastardly online quizzes:

Read More »


Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:33 PM | Blog 2002-05 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Patterson Up

Nice little move by the Expos to pick up onetime hot prospect John Patterson in exchange for Randy Choate, a serviceable but replaceable reliever. Still just 26, Patterson has struck out 74 batters in 85.2 major league innings while walking 37. He needs to improve that walk number and get the gopher balls under control; there's no question that Patterson's still a project. But he's still got upside.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:24 PM | Baseball 2004 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
WAR: Priorities

Tom Maguire's been all over the Richard Clarke saga - so I don't have to! In one of his latest installments, he notes a choice vignette from Clarke's book:

[Bush r]esolved to attack al-Qaida on the evening of Sept. 11. That night, Bush spoke to his staff: "I want you to understand that we are at war and we will stay at war until this is done. Nothing else matters." When Donald Rumsfeld pointed out the legal problems posed by some proposed attacks, Bush said, "I don't care what the international lawyers say, we are going to kick some ass."
Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:18 PM | War 2004 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
WAR: The Little Flame, Three Years Later

Yet again I've been too busy at work to blog, but I had to mention that today is the three-year anniversary of an event that probably did more than any other to convince me of the impossibility of civilized people treating the Israelis and Palestinians as just two sides of a morally neutral "cycle of violence." Yes, the Palestinians have their grievances, and yes, children die on both sides. But a society that honors and celebrates a sniper blowing the head off of a ten-month-old girl is simply not ready to walk amongst the community of nations.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:44 PM | War 2004 | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)
March 25, 2004
BASEBALL: Can The Crime Dog Still Bite?

So, Fred McGriff has been cut by the aimless Devil Rays, who decided to go with that young up-and-comer, 36-year-old Tino Martinez. Honestly, I'm baffled by the idea that McGriff can't get any kind of major league job. He's always kept himself in good shape, he seems to be well-liked, and he's apparently healthy again after last season's knee injury. And his days as a serious masher are hardly ancient history; compare his average season from 1999-2002 to that of Tino or of last year's Tampa 1B, the man the Yankees picked up to back up Jason Giambi, Travis Lee:

PLAYERABH2B3BHRRRBIBBAVGSLGOBPOPSHPBGIDP
McGriff533155251307310477.291.512.379891214
Martinez56515028225799655.266.456.334790414
Lee46811725713606662.251.394.338732212

The point here isn't that this is a particularly relevant comparison, but it was not long ago at all that McGriff was churning out 30-HR, 100-RBI seasons and an OPS close to .900 like clockwork - not impressive for Fred McGriff, but numbers that most mere mortals would be more than happy to see from their first baseman. McGriff had a bad year last season, due to a combination of age, his first-ever serious injury, and Dodger Stadium; even so, he batted .249/.428/.322 (park-adjusted OPS+ of 99), compared to .273/.429/.352 (OPS+ of 106) for Tino and .275/.459/.348 (OPS+ of 111) for Lee. That's not that much of a difference, particularly compared to Tino. And yes, McGriff is 40 and it's hard to bounce back at that age. But given how productive he was and how recently he was doing it, don't you think somebody would give him a chance, at least as a part-timer or a bat off the bench?

David Pinto also speculated a while back that McGriff wouldn't belong in the Hall of Fame. That, too, is a subject that merits more extensive analysis another day, when you look at how today's offensive standards have changed. Just on the quick-and-dirty OPS+ metric, McGriff's career OPS+ of 134 is pretty healthy for a guy who had just over 10,000 plate appearances; that puts him just off the top 100 of all time, and I wonder how many guys with an OPS+ of 130 or higher and 10,000 plate appearances aren't in the Hall.

But at least on the raw numbers, it's worth remembering how unprecedented it is for a guy with McGriff's numbers to be on the outside looking in. There are 24 players who have played 2000 or more career games with a career OBP of .370 or higher and a career slugging average of .500 or higher - 21 Hall of Famers, plus Barry Bonds, Rafael Palmeiro, and Fred McGriff. If you drop the bar to .475 career slugging, you get 5 more, 4 Hall of Famers and Norm Cash. That's pretty good company.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:55 AM | Baseball 2004 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: "These are not the scapegoats you are looking for."

Remember the fighting styles of Don Rumsfeld? Well, I think we can add a new one. It's hypnotic, I tell you.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:30 AM | Politics 2004 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
POP CULTURE: "Zombies Drive Jesus From Top Of Box Office"

Somebody at MTV News sure has a way with headlines. That's the best one since "Hobbits Whup Leonardo DiCaprio's Ass".

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:26 AM | Pop Culture | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
March 24, 2004
POLITICS/WAR: So, It Should Be About Oiiiiiillllll?

The Bush Administration comes under fire for not putting more emphasis in its foreign policy on increasing the supply of oil? Of course, this article is a classic disembodied passive-voice attack, containing only one fairly mild criticism from the Kerry campaign and no named critics. But it's more than a little ironic to think that Bush would face criticism for not placing a higher priority on oil in our Middle East policy.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:25 PM | Politics 2004 • | War 2004 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
March 23, 2004
POLITICS: H. Ross for George W.

Just noodling around with FundRace a bit . . . doesn't this seem sorta newsworthy: H. Ross Perot and his wife each donated the maximum $2,000 to George W. Bush. Then again, Perot endorsed Bush in 2000, so maybe that's old news.

(By contrast, Jeb could only swing a $1,000 donation).

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:02 PM | Politics 2004 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
March 22, 2004
BASEBALL: My 2004 Roto Team

Skip this if you're bored to tears by someone else's fantasy baseball team, but in the interests of putting my mouth where my money is, here's my 2004 rotisserie team. AL league, traditional roto rules (4x4, 12 teams, $260 for 23 slots, 10 reserves).

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Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:39 AM | Baseball 2004 | Comments (8) | TrackBack (1)
POLITICS: It's The John Kerry Song!

Having a little fun here - it's time for a John Kerry theme song. This one is to the tune of the classic 70s hit "Rubberband Man" by the Spinners (Click here and scroll down for a sample of the tune). I'll leave to someone with more musical talent the task of putting this to sounds and images:

The Other Hand Man

Hand me down my chardonnay,
Hand me down my brie,
Hurry now and don't be late
Hell be on the slopes by three
You and me were goin' out
To catch the latest sound
Guranteed to blow your mind
So high you won't come down


Hey, y'all prepare yourself
For the Other Hand man
You never heard a sound
Like the Other Hand man
You're bound to lose control
When he starts to say, "on the Other Hand,"

Oh, Lord, this dude is outta sight
Everything he says
Comes out both left and right

Once I went to hear him speak
On a Sunday talk showdown
I was so surprised, I was hypnotized
By how this cat flip-flops around

When I saw this long-faced guy
Stretch a sound bite till it broke
Hey, I laughed so hard
As he got bogged down
Steerin clear of yes or no

Hey, y'all prepare yourself
For the Other Hand man
You never heard a sound
Like the Other Hand man
You're bound to lose control
When he starts to say "on the Other Hand,"

Got that Other Hand
All ready to go
And then he wriggled his way
Around yes or no

(Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo)
Guaranteed to blow your mind
(Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo)
Back and forth flip floppin all the time
(Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo)
Does he really think were stupid, oh, Lord
(Doo doo doo doo doo)
Lord, make him go away

Hey, y'all prepare yourself
For the Other Hand man
You never heard a sound
Like the Other Hand man
You're bound to lose control
When he starts to say "on the Other Hand,"

Doo doo doo doo doo
Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo
Doo doo doo doo doo
Other Hand man, Other Hand man
How much of this stuff do he think we can stand
So much nuance, fluff and evasion from one man, Lord
And then he had nerve to wiggle his war vote
To "yes, but," got it all straight in his head, y'all
Ah, come on, Kerry

Hey, y'all prepare yourself
For the Other Hand man
You never heard a sound
Like the Other Hand man
You're bound to lose control
When he starts to say "on the Other Hand,"

Other Hand man starts to jam
Flip-floppin his way across the land
Got answers goin every way
Everything about him seems out of place

Always wafflin', always wafflin'
Always waff-waff-wafflin'
Just a Other Hand, Other Hand man
Always wafflin', always wafflin'
Always waff-waff-wafflin'
Just a Other Hand
Other Hand man
Go way
Oh, go way Johnny
Uh-huh

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:07 AM | Politics 2004 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (2)
March 19, 2004
BASEBALL: Freak Stat of the Day

Kelly Wunsch's delivery is nasty in more ways than one: last season, Wunsch allowed just 17 hits in 36 innings - but hit 7 batters with pitches, a ratio that has to be some kind of record. Over the last three seasons, the White Sox middleman has drilled 18 batters compared to just 64 who have gotten a hit off him, almost one hit batsman for every three hits allowed.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:34 AM | Baseball 2004 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
BLOG: Guinness News

Yes, the bubbles do float down. Powerline has the details.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:29 AM | Blog 2002-05 | TrackBack (0)
POP CULTURE: Heh Heh, or Huh Huh?

Tim Blair, noting Maureen Dowd's line about how President Bush "did his "Beavis and Butthead" snigger" at a Dutch reporter, asks the burning question:

Thing is, Beavis and Butthead had entirely distinct and separate sniggers. Performing both simultaneously would rupture a persons snigger glands. So, which is it, Maureen? Is Bush a high-pitched Beavis man, or does he tend towards the deeper Butthead style?
Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:26 AM | Pop Culture | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
WAR: On Taiwan

Assassination attempts on Taiwan's president and vice president can't be good news.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:22 AM | War 2004 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)
BASEBALL: Cubs Blogs

Two new-to-me Cubs blogs: Cubs Now and The View From The Bleachers. Check 'em out if you're looking for more on the Cubbies.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:20 AM | Baseball 2004 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
BASKETBALL: Charity Stripe Trivia

A pair of trivia questions for all you NBA-heads:

1. Only three players in NBA/ABA history have attempted 500 three-pointers and 500 free throws in the same season - and a fourth will join the club with his next free throw attempt. Name 'em.

2. A player has shot 90% or better at the line in 400 or more free throw attempts in one season 17 times in NBA history; the feat has been accomplished by ten different players. Name 'em. Give yourself credit if you get nine; you won't get the hardest one unless you're a real early-fifties history buff. There's also an eleventh who should be added to this list before season's end.

Answers below:

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Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:15 AM | Basketball | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
March 18, 2004
BLOG: Nobody Expects The Spanish Inquisition!

Bonus link: I answer Ricky West's Ten Questions over at North Georgia Dogma.

UPDATE (2005): Here's the link today. And here's the full text of the Q&A:

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Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:42 AM | Blog 2002-05 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Mr. X on Containing Steroid Use

Buster Olney has an interesting anonymous interview with "Player X" about steroids and the union. Check out the Primates, who of course are busy trying to guess his identity, assuming that Olney didn't change any details (the best guess there sounds like Matt Stairs).

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:39 AM | Baseball 2004 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASKETBALL: It's The Totally Insane Mark Cuban Blog!

Got yer Cuban right here! (Link via Matt Welch). Ooooh, this is gonna be interesting. What's the over/under on how long it takes Cuban to get fined by the NBA for something he says on his blog? (Never mind the fact that he's talking here about investments about which he's making SEC filings - that could get him in a whole lot more trouble than an NBA fine). But it's always entertaining to see a controversial public figure take his case directly to the public.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:37 AM | Basketball | TrackBack (0)
WAR: Got Him! No, wait . . .

MSNBC has a look at why the Clinton Administration didn't get Osama bin Laden when it had the best intelligence you could hope for as to his whereabouts:

If the U.S. government had bin Laden and the camps in its sights in real time, why was no action taken against them?

"We were not prepared to take the military action necessary," said retired Gen. Wayne Downing, who ran counter-terror efforts for the current Bush administration and is now an NBC analyst.

"We should have had strike forces prepared to go in and react to this intelligence, certainly cruise missiles - either air- or sea-launched - very, very accurate, could have gone in and hit those targets," Downing added.

Gary Schroen, a former CIA station chief in Pakistan, says the White House required the CIA to attempt to capture bin Laden alive, rather than kill him.

What impact did the wording of the orders have on the CIA's ability to get bin Laden? "It reduced the odds from, say, a 50 percent chance down to, say, 25 percent chance that we were going to be able to get him," said Schroen.

A Democratic member of the 9/11 commission says there was a larger issue: The Clinton administration treated bin Laden as a law enforcement problem.

Bob Kerry, a former senator and current 9/11 commission member, said, "The most important thing the Clinton administration could have done would have been for the president, either himself or by going to Congress, asking for a congressional declaration to declare war on al-Qaida, a military-political organization that had declared war on us."

In reality, getting bin Laden would have been extraordinarily difficult. He was a moving target deep inside Afghanistan. Most military operations would have been high-risk. What's more, Clinton was weakened by scandal, and there was no political consensus for bold action, especially with an election weeks away.

Link via Andrew Sullivan. Now, the Bush Administration, after coming into office, wasn't much better before September 11, although there remains endless controversy over what the Clinton people told the Bush people, what plans the Bush Administration was drawing up in early September 2001, etc. More to the point, though, is the need after September 11 to get entirely away from a law-enforcement-first mentality that has been proven catastrophically misguided in dealing with international terrorists. Do you have confidence that John Kerry will stay the course in that regard, given some of his public statements on the issue?

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:33 AM | War 2004 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
WAR: Gassing The Kurds

Picture, thousand words, etc.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:25 AM | War 2004 | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Kerryism

This one is John Kerry in a nutshell:

I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it.

(Link via Real Clear Politics). At the end of the day, of course, the vote was "yes" or "no," but Kerry never wants to stand up for a yes or no position on anything, does he? (UPDATE: Kaus: "If the $87 billion vote had come during the general election, and Kerry needed to appeal to moderates and conservatives, would he have voted for or against it? The question more or less answers itself") A lot of Kerry's waffles seem to come from a fear of being tagged as a liberal, which he so obviously is anyway. Prediction:

Like Al Gore's populism and Bob Dole's tax cut fever, Kerry will embrace his inner liberal only after he's frittered away half the summer.

This is why the primaries are supposed to be about showing the base you have the courage of your convictions, so you can rest on that and work on sounding moderate in the general election. Kerry hasn't proven himself as a man of principle, to put it mildly - he was busy working on looking 'electable' - so he'll have to work on that far later than he should.

Also, Ed Moltzen at LateFinal, who's been on a roll lately, fisks the living daylights out of Kerry's speech to the firefighters' union. (Link via Michele).

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:23 AM | Politics 2004 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
March 17, 2004
POP CULTURE: Get Your Irish Up

I believe tickets are still on sale (check Ticketmaster here) for this Saturday's concert by one of this site's favorite bands, the Saw Doctors, at the Hammerstein Ballroom in Manhattan. They're a great show; see here and here for more on the Galway-based rockers. They've also got a live CD hitting the stores (as well as available through the band's website), which I'll have to pick up shortly.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:27 AM | Pop Culture | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Quick Links, 3/17/04

*Stryker:

A new liberal radio network, called "Air America Radio" and featuring Al Franken Janeane Garafalo, is coming to an AM Station near you. No word yet on whether the networks' founders are aware of the irony in having a liberal radio station named after an illegal and undercover CIA operation during the Viet Nam war, as well as a mediocre Mel Gibson film.

*"The Boston Fog Machine": David Brooks succeeds in nailing jello to the wall (link via Tom Maguire)

*Also from the Minute Man, a reminder from 1948 that Democrats have known for a long time how to play rough: "President Likens Dewey to Hitler as Fascists' Tool"

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:19 AM | Politics 2004 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
March 15, 2004
BASEBALL: Bad Omen

Two words to send a chill down any Met fan's spine, when seen together: "Reyes" and "hamstring."

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:57 AM | Baseball 2004 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS/WAR: Hard Sell

Here's another way of looking at what's fundamentally wrong with John Kerry's approach to foriegn policy. Kerry, of course, has repeatedly insisted that he will, as president, do more to rebuild America's alliances with various foreign nations. But how, and at what cost?

There are, fundamentally, two types of diplomacy: you can think of them as hard diplomacy and soft diplomacy. Hard diplomacy is about getting people to change their behavior by changing the facts and/or changing your position; the most obvious examples are threats or reprisals and bribes with concessions. (Another example is creating the fait accompli, where you simply alter the facts on the ground). Soft diplomacy is, in essence, everything else, any effort that entails getting the other guy to change his position without changing yours. A lot of what people think of as diplomacy falls in this area, from ass-kissing on a personal or national level (i.e., talking nicer), to simple persuasion. The problem, of course, is that there's very little reason, in the real world, to believe that soft diplomacy has very much impact on the behavior of nations.

Here's what worries me: when Kerry talks about improving our diplomacy, there are two possibilities. One is that he's fool enough to believe that soft diplomacy is really important, and that he'll be able to get our reluctant allies to change their behavior just by asking nicer. Not only is this foolishly naive, but when has Kerry ever shown himself to be the kind of guy who can do this? He's never put in the effort to be a coalition-builder in two decades in the Senate; never tried for a leadership position, never worked in any notable way across party lines, never led a fight on major legislation (all these stand in marked contrast to Bush's record in Texas, by the way, and don't go telling me that Kerry can compensate by being more charming in person than Bush).

(One possible line of argument sometimes heard from the Left is that the U.S. has lost credibility on account of misusing intelligence, and that this has made us less persuasive . . . again, there are two possibilities: either Kerry intends to improve our intelligence-gathering operations, which would be a sharp reversal of his positions over the past 30 years, or he intends to be less willing to act on the kind of warnings we had in Iraq.)

The other possibility is that Kerry expects to use hard diplomacy . . . but threats of force or other reprisals? I doubt it. It's hard to avoid the conclusion that what Kerry means, fundamentally, is that he will concede American interests and negotiating positions in ways Bush wouldn't.

That really could make Kerry popular in foreign capitals. But it shouldn't make him popular here.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:24 AM | Politics 2004 • | War 2004 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
March 13, 2004
BASKETBALL: One More Glass of Vin

I have to approve of the Knicks scooping up Vin Baker; Baker has mostly played well thus far this season, and unlike the Celtics (who undoubtedly will miss Baker but couldn't pass up the opportunity to get out from under his contract when he backslid on his treatment for alcoholism), the Knicks presumably didn't sign Baker to an expensive long-term contract. In a league where free talent is a rarity, you have to take the breaks as they come.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 1:45 AM | Basketball | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POP CULTURE: Mother Focker

Barbra Streisand signs on to play Ben Stiller's mother (Dustin Hoffman will play his father) in Meet the Fockers, the may-or-may-not-be-funny sequel to Meet the Parents. Of course, watching Robert DeNiro trying to hold his temper in check while listening to Barbra Streisand may be worth the price of admission by itself.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:16 AM | Pop Culture | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
March 12, 2004
BASEBALL: Depends Where You're Standing

Two good ones from Redbird Nation: Brian Gunn thinks Joe Sheehan is all wet for doubting whether Joe Mauer can succeed as a 6'4" catcher, given the success of a number of 6'3" catchers, including Mike Piazza; Brian also has a fun rundown of the spring training records of teams that made big leaps forward the past few years.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:47 PM | Baseball 2004 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
SCIENCE: Another Illusion Shattered

China admits that the Great Wall of China can not be seen from outer space. This was apparently common knowledge to people who follow these things, but I'd always heard it cited that the Great Wall was the only man-made structure visible from space (granted, it did seem odd that something that low and narrow would be visible from space).

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:41 PM | Science | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Following A Long Tradition of Ugly Uniforms

It's official: I concluded after catching a replay of some of Wednesday night's Mets-Astros game (mmmm . . . game) that the Astros' spring uniforms with the red jerseys are, incredibly, even uglier than the Mets' spring uniforms with the orange jerseys, the sole purpose of which appears to be to humiliate guys who come into camp overweight.

(By the way: yes, I know the blog's been a bit lean on the baseball content lately. I've been running behind on getting the latest Established Win Shares post together, and maybe it's just me, but there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of baseball news to write about since the A-Rod trade, other than the steroid issue and the usual spring training blather. But I'll be back in gear in another week or two, especially after my rotisserie draft on March 21.)

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:08 AM | Baseball 2004 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS/WAR: The War Is Not An Issue?

I just love this one, from Pejman: in 1944, a Democratic Senator who was the chairman of the party's national convention referred to a potential GOP victory as "Hitler's secret weapon."

It ain't beanbag. Lileks had more in this vein yesterday:

Accusing one's opponent of treason is a personal attack. . . . There's nothing comparable on the other side. Nothing. I mean, the Bush team runs an ad that has a second of 9/11 footage, and his opponents pitch a carefully staged fit - because that's all they have. . . I ask: imagine, if you will, that we're at war. (Just pretend.) A Democrat president is attempting to pacify Krepistan, which has been shooting at American planes for a decade. The Republican candidate says he's been in contact with foreign leaders who really want him to win, and is caught on tape telling a supporter he thinks the current administration is made up of crooked liars.

Think the New Republic might write a disapproving editorial or two?

Probably not. After all, didn't the Democrat president note that his opponent failed to grasp the strategic importance of Krepistan? Tit. Tat.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:05 AM | Politics 2004 • | War 2004 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Tedstock

This does not sound like the way to woo swing voters.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:02 AM | Politics 2004 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
LAW: Out of Balance

Miami law professor Michael Froomkin and Volokh conspirator David Bernstein have some additional thoughts on Justice Scalia's denunciation of constitutional balancing tests in Crawford v. Washington, noted earlier here.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:59 AM | Law 2002-04 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
WAR/POLITICS: Let Slip The Dogs of Impeachment

The impeachment of South Korea's president seems like it might be a big deal, no?

Which reminds me: if John Kerry were actually to (ha, ha) offer the vice presidential nomination to John McCain, would McCain re-use his best applause line from his 2000 stump speech, the one where he promised to rid the country of "the truth-twisting politics of Bill Clinton and Al Gore"? Would Clinton stump for a ticket including a man who voted to remove him from office?

Just askin'.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:57 AM | Politics 2004 • | War 2004 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
WAR: An Attack on Us

To their credit, USA Today, the Wall Street Journal and the big three NY papers (the Times, Daily News and the Post) all give the Madrid bombing the blaring-headline treatment this morning. I haven't had time to absorb the whole thing myself . . . even if it does turn out that this is a purely local operation by the Basque terror group (last I saw, Al Qaeda was claiming 'responsibility,' but that sounds more like resume-puffing by a group whose successes have been few and far between lately), we should treat this as an attack on the United States. Spain has been an important and faithful ally in our war on Islamist/Arab terror, and we owe them no less than we have asked of them.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:52 AM | War 2004 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
March 11, 2004
WAR: On The Spot in Spain

Iberian Notes, an excellent blog run by American expats in Spain (and one we've traded links with from time to time), is all over the breaking story of this morning's terrorist attacks in Spain. Check it out. The Command Post should also have more throughout the day.

The war's not over, folks. I only wish.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:02 AM | War 2004 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: A Humble Carpenter

With the Cardinals banking on a surgically reconstructed Chris Carpenter to be their #3 starter in 2004, I have to reiterate what I wrote three years ago (eighth item down): the fragile Carpenter should be moved to the bullpen, where he'll have a better chance at staying healthy to unleash his nasty stuff on hitters.

Of course, the Cards are too desperate for starters to consider that option, and to be honest, there are certainly examples (Steve Karsay, Tom Gordon) of converted relievers whose health records haven't improved much on the switch to the bullpen. But I'm not optimistic about Carpenter as a dependable every-fifth-day guy.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:16 AM | Baseball 2004 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
March 10, 2004
LAW: Oh, Yeah, and Bill a Little

Via Prof. Bainbridge, we come upon this hilarious and pointed rendition of "Howard Bashman's Daily To-Do List". Fans of Bashman's site - myself included - can appreciate the humor here. I really do wonder how the man ever manages to bill a full day while doing all that blogging.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:44 PM | Law 2002-04 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: The Headliner

The Kansas City Star (registration required):

Kerry alternately pleases, befuddles Arab Americans and Jews

They aren't the only ones.

The Washington Post:

Kerry Sweeps Races in 4 States: Boredom Is Senator's New Foe

Actually, it's a very old foe.

And what about Kerry's potential VP choices? A columnist with the Arkansas News notes wryly that

A national wire service article attempted last week to cover the waterfront on potential running mate choices for John Kerry, even to the point of saying that Kerry's need for Southern competitiveness might cause him to consider U.S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas. I couldn't help but chuckle - not about Blanche's being vice president, but about the fact that until recently Kerry called Blanche "Mary." He thought she was Mary Landrieu of Louisiana.

But maybe Kerry's not the only one with mistaken-identity problems. This Yahoo photo captions the challenger as "U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Senator John Kerry (news - web sites) (R) of Massachusetts" (hey, is that why McCain would consider running with him?), while this one notes that Idaho Senator Larry Craig mistakenly identified Hillary Clinton as a senator from Texas.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:07 PM | Politics 2004 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
LAW: Confronting The Sixth Amendment

Really, really big news from the Supreme Court Monday, although thus far among the major bloggers and blawgers I've seen only a brief, non-analytical writeup by Eugene Volokh and a bare-bones announcement from Howard Bashman (Tung Yin, call your office!). The Court's decision in Crawford v. Washington, No. 02-9410 (U.S. Mar. 8, 2004) amounts to a revolutionary reassessment of the Confrontation Clause of the Sixth Amendment, one that will have wide-ranging effects on the criminal justice system. Justice Scalia wrote the opinion for a 7-2 Court; the Court's decision to reverse the conviction was unanimous, but Chief Justice Rehnquist, joined by Justice O'Connor, disagreed with the Court's analysis.

The Sixth Amendment provides: [i]n all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to be confronted with the witnesses against him. Crawford holds that the Clause bars the admission in criminal prosecutions of prior testimony unless the witness is unavailable and there was a prior opportunity for cross-examination. In so doing, the Court rejected the prior rule of Ohio v. Roberts, 448 U.S. 56, 66 (1980), under which such testimony, to be admitted, "must either fall within a 'firmly rooted hearsay exception' or bear 'particularized guarantees of trustworthiness.'". It was the latter part of the Roberts test -- allowing un-cross-examined prior testimony to be admitted if it was deemed to have sufficient indicia of reliability -- that prompted Justice Scalia's characteristically pithy observation that

Dispensing with confrontation because testimony is obviously reliable is akin to dispensing with jury trial because a defendant is obviously guilty. This is not what the Sixth Amendment prescribes.

Slip op. at 27. The Court described the scope of its holding as follows:

Where nontestimonial hearsay is at issue, it is wholly consistent with the Framers design to afford the States flexibility in their development of hearsay law-as does Roberts, and as would an approach that exempted such statements from Confrontation Clause scrutiny altogether. Where testimonial evidence is at issue, however, the Sixth Amendment demands what the common law required: unavailability and a prior opportunity for cross-examination. We leave for another day any effort to spell out a comprehensive definition of testimonial. Whatever else the term covers, it applies at a minimum to prior testimony at a preliminary hearing, before a grand jury, or at a former trial; and to police interrogations. These are the modern practices with closest kinship to the abuses at which the Confrontation Clause was directed.

Slip op. at 33 (emphasis added). The Court thus left unsettled such traditional hearsay exeptions issues as dying or other spontaneous declarations, and was also careful to note that its holding did not address non-hearsay statements such as statements in furtherance of a conspiracy.

Crawford is interesting academically; a good constitutional law professor could find much to discuss in the way Justice Scalia proceeded, after determining that the language of the Clause did not answer the questions at bar, to offer a historical exegesis of why the Framers of the Constitution feared inquisitorial practices under which out-of-court statements could be given to judicial or law enforcement officers and then admitted as evidence without cross-examination, as well as his explanation of why the Court should depart from its prior decision in Roberts: "[t]he framework is so unpredictable that it fails to provide meaningful protection from even core confrontation violations." Then there's his enviably concise explanation of how the new rule could be squared with past cases: "If nothing else, the test we announce is an empirically accurate explanation of the results our cases have reached."

But its real significance is in practice, where the decision - while it may handcuff law enforcement in some cases - will also do much to prevent abuses in the system:

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Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:30 AM | Law 2002-04 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
March 9, 2004
LAW: What Clients Really Want

Nothing revolutionary in here, but I thought this Law.com article from January was, in my experience at least, a good summary of what corporate clients expect from law firm associates.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:54 AM | Law 2002-04 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
HISTORY: War in the Atlantic

I've been off my routine with various work-related crises since Friday; hopefully, I'll be back to something like a normal blogging schedule in another day or two.

In the meantime, here's is an interesting site giving an overview of the Battle of the Atlantic, one of the key and less-remembered campaigns of World War II. (Steven den Beste has argued here and here and here that this was the most important battle of the war).

My grandfather was in the US merchant marine; if I remember correctly, I think he was at sea during World War II (he was also in the British Royal Navy in WWI as a teenager); it's sobering that the site notes that, at least on the British end, the casualty rate in the merchant marines was higher than for any of the branches of the armed services, with about 1/6 of the men who went to sea losing their lives.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:47 AM | History | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
March 7, 2004
POLITICS: Reporting for Duty

The Bush National Guard story finally gets the serious treatment it deserves.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 2:19 AM | Politics 2004 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

CNN reports that filming has begun on the new Batman movie, starring Christian Bale as Batman, with Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Katie Holmes, Liam Neeson, Morgan Freeman, and Ken Watanabe. Neeson will play a familiar role as "Batman's mentor."

Advice to Neeson: this time, if they ask you to do dialogue with a computer-generated character, get a look at him first before you agree to do the scene.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 2:06 AM | Pop Culture | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
March 6, 2004
POLITICS/WAR: Bring It On, Vol. 2

Mark Steyn takes a look at the weapons systems John Kerry wanted to cut back or cancel in his 1984 Senate campaign.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:25 AM | Politics 2004 • | War 2004 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
March 5, 2004
LAW: GUILTY ON ALL COUNTS

1010 WINS Radio reporting that Martha Stewart was convicted on all charges. MSNBC will have more here. Trading halted on stock of her company.

Back to work.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 3:07 PM | Law 2002-04 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Start 'em Young?

I've been wondering lately: what's the right age to start playing organized baseball? We had signed up my son (who's 6) for Little League, but he just kept saying he didn't want to do it. He enjoys playing whiffleball with me and sometimes with his sister or his cousin, but he was insistent that he didn't want to play in the league. It's hard to tell with kids that age; he's been known before to resist things but ultimately enjoy them once we made him go. Then again, we didn't want to spoil the fun of baseball for him by forcing it down his throat. Finally, as we approached the time for us to start attending meetings, we decided to leave the decision to him, and explained that if he said no, that was it for Little League for this year (although he could try next year).

Perhaps predictably, once the dynamics shifted from him resisting us to having to take responsibility for the decision himself, he was less resistant, and told us he needed some time to think about it. Ultimately, though, he said no, and we passed on this season. But it left me wondering if we're making a mistake -- whether he really should be playing this year if he wants to keep up with the other kids, or whether he'll be able to pick things up just fine a year or two from now. I'm not under any illusion that he's going to go on to play professional baseball some day, but I'd like him to have the opportunity to play the game for a few years and be good enough at it to at least have a little fun, unlike my own disastrous one-season playing career in the town recreational league at age 9. I'm just wondering if missing a year of Little League while his contemporaries are playing it will put him behind the curve.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:55 AM | Baseball 2004 | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
SCIENCE: Just Think of the Law Enforcement Applications . . .

I can foresee an Orwellian world ahead for people on probation. Microsoft unveils a prototype for a camera you can wear that automatically takes 2,000 pictures per day to show everyone you see and everywhere you go.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:11 AM | Science | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
March 4, 2004
BASEBALL: Walks and Power

Via David Pinto, we caught up with Brian Gunn's look at Barry Bonds' 2001 power surge in the context of the steroids/HGH flap (which remains basically unproven at this point). The interesting part: Bonds' tremendous leap forward in walks in 2001 didn't start until after his home run rate took off.

(Also note that the steep decline in Bonds' strikeout rate didn't come until 2002).

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:16 AM | Baseball 2004 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Really Sockin' That Ball

I can't say the Mets got off to an impressive start yesterday, but it sure is good to see box scores again.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:12 AM | Baseball 2004 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Kerry Veepstakes Begin

Via the Command Post, the Campaigns and Elections Mag power rankings from two days ago, presented here with my own two cents; basically, I'd rank the contenders in terms of likelihood (1) Richardson, (2) Gephardt, (3) Rendell, (4) Edwards, (5) Cleland, (6) Landrieu, (7) Hillary!, (8) Rubin. (Not listed here is Bill Clinton; as James Taranto and others have pointed out, NYU Law professor Stephen Gillers' NY Times op-ed touting Clinton for veep ignored the 12th Amendment, which provides that ""no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States" - an embarrasing and inexcusable omission both for Gillers and for the Times.

Read More »


Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:10 AM | Politics 2004 | Comments (9) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: One-Liner of the Day

A clearly disappointed Will Saletan, on the relative weaknesses of Kerry and Edwards: "The good news for Edwards is that experience is easy to acquire. The bad news for Kerry is that caring and honesty aren't."

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:48 AM | Politics 2004 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Easiest Prediction of the Day

If Kerry loses decisively in November (i.e., Bush gets a majority of the popular vote and wins at least 290 electoral votes), the Democrats will revamp their primary structure for 2008. Kerry was clearly a beneficiary of a setup whereby the early frontrunner's momentum could no longer be stopped after he won both Iowa and NH, and he's emerged relatively unscathed and unvetted. If that produces a general election flop, there will be much handwringing. And with Terry McAuliffe stepping down as DNC Chair after 2004, you'd think that new party leadership will be looking to finally rethink some things.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:47 AM | Politics 2004 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
LAW: So Much for Federalism?

Elliot Spitzer concludes that same-sex marriage is not recognized by New York law, but then concludes that New York courts would recognize same-sex unions from other states. So much for the argument that an amendment is not needed to prevent one state's court ruling from imposing itself on the nation?

On the other hand, if you look at Spitzer's actual ruling (opens in PDF form) rather than his press release, you'll see that his conclusion on the latter issue is much less certain and relies on a lower court decision (involving civil unions) that's currently on appeal to the Appellate Division, Second Department. So stay tuned.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:45 AM | Law 2002-04 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Share and Share Alike

Travis Nelson over at Boy of Summer has a fascinating, in-depth look at historical attendance patterns when a team enters or exits another team's market. The results may surprise you.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:39 AM | Baseball 2004 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
March 3, 2004
WAR: Bombshell?

Maybe there's more to this story, but this NBC report sure looks like a huge black eye both for the Bush Administration and for critics who argued that the Administration exaggerated Iraq's terror connections and acted too aggressively in Iraq:

With Tuesdays attacks, Abu Musab Zarqawi, a Jordanian militant with ties to al-Qaida, is now blamed for more than 700 terrorist killings in Iraq.
* * *
In June 2002, U.S. officials say intelligence had revealed that Zarqawi and members of al-Qaida had set up a weapons lab at Kirma, in northern Iraq, producing deadly ricin and cyanide.

The Pentagon quickly drafted plans to attack the camp with cruise missiles and airstrikes and sent it to the White House, where, according to U.S. government sources, the plan was debated to death in the National Security Council.


* * *

Four months later, intelligence showed Zarqawi was planning to use ricin in terrorist attacks in Europe.

The Pentagon drew up a second strike plan, and the White House again killed it. By then the administration had set its course for war with Iraq.


* * *

In January 2003, the threat turned real. Police in London arrested six terror suspects and discovered a ricin lab connected to the camp in Iraq.
The Pentagon drew up still another attack plan, and for the third time, the National Security Council killed it.

Military officials insist their case for attacking Zarqawis operation was airtight, but the administration feared destroying the terrorist camp in Iraq could undercut its case for war against Saddam.

The United States did attack the camp at Kirma at the beginning of the war, but it was too late Zarqawi and many of his followers were gone.

Read the whole thing. . . of course, left unanswered here is exactly where in Iraq this was (i.e., was it an area under Saddam's control?), as well as how feasible the military plan really was. But undercutting the case for war? If we had shot first here and asked questions later, I'd think we'd have been able to argue that the presence of Al Qaeda-linked terror camps developing WMD was more than enough reason to go all the way and be rid of Saddam ASAP.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:51 AM | War 2004 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Pitchfork John

Take the quiz! NRO's Jim Geraghty has a hilarious compilation of quotes - see if you can guess (without peeking at the bottom) which ones are John Kerry and which are Pat Buchanan. I thought I could guess, and I only got 5 out of 10 correct.

Which brings up an interesting point: Buchanan may be a convincing populist, but Kerry as a peasant with a pitchfork conjures an image of a down-at-the-heels nobleman trying to rile a crowd to get his castle back . . . Kerry and Bush may both be from elite old-money WASP backgrounds, but Kerry has tried to paint himself as an economic populist, and it's a transparent fraud coming from such a wealthy man. Bush has never played that card - if anything, he's gone in the opposite direction by presenting himself as a CEO with an MBA - but he's far more authentic as a cultural populist, a former beer-drinking frat boy who likes baseball, Austin Powers movies, cowboy boots, and clearing brush on his ranch.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:46 AM | Politics 2004 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Not Really 1987

Alex Belth argues that the 2004 Yankees' apparent dominance could evaporate quickly:

As great as the Yankees and Red Sox appear, they are a string of injuries away from missing the playoffs (remember the 1987 Mets?). It's this uncertainty, this vulnerability that helps make the game so compelling.

Well, there are few seasons I remember better (or more bitterly) than 1987 . . . the '87 Mets were actually well-equipped to deal with injuries, just not injuries so concentrated on one part of the team, including all 7 of their quality starting pitchers (Gooden, Darling, Fernandez, Ojeda, Aguilera, Cone and Leach) and their relief ace. To summarize:

*Dwight Gooden: Missed April & May in drug rehab.

*Ron Darling: Tore thumb in critical September 11 game (on a Vince Coleman bunt that broke up Darling's no-hitter in the sixth inning); the Cards won the game and Darling missed rest of the season.

*Sid Fernandez injured his knee running out a triple in late May, missed several starts and wasn't quite right thereafter.

*Bob Ojeda and Rick Aguilera suffered arm injuries when Davey Johnson pushed the team to a 4-man rotation in April in Gooden's absence; Ojeda, who'd gone 18-5 the prior year, missed most of the season (starting just 7 games on the year), and Aguilera didn't return until late August.

*David Cone, a rookie pressed into the rotation in April when Ojeda went down, had just gotten in a groove for a few starts when his finger was crushed while bunting. He did not return until August.

*Terry Leach stepped in brilliantly to the rotation, but Leach also went on the 14-day DL in late July with a knee injury.

*Closer Roger McDowell missed the first six weeks with a hernia operation, leading as well to a subpar year for Jesse Orosco, who was heavily overworked in McDowell's absence. McDowell wasn't the same after his return and gave up the Terry Pendleton homer that turned the season in that same September 11 game.

Add it all up, and a team with 7 outstanding starting pitchers wound up giving 19 starts to raw rookie John Mitchell, 5 to hopeless cases Don Schulze and Tom Edens, 1 to rookie reliever Jeff Innis (who lasted 4 innings; Innis hadn't started since high school), 3 to an ineffective John Candelaria, and even tried to drag Tom Seaver out of retirement.

Besides, if there had been a wild card and current divisional alignments, the Mets (with the same record) would still have won their division every year from 1984 to 1990. It would take a monumental catastrophe to keep the Yankees out of the postseason. If this Yankee team loses Rivera for six weeks and has serious injuries to Mussina, Brown, Vazquez, Lieber, Contreras . . . well, they'll just be the 1999 Indians.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:40 AM | Baseball 2004 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Steroids and Deniability

Via David Pinto, I found the link to this fascinating Eric McErlain analysis from 2002 arguing that many nutritional supplements may contain steroids, and that this could present real enforcement problems for baseball if players didn't actually know that they were taking them (or conveniently find themselves able to claim so). My summary doesn't do this justice; go read the whole thing.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:26 AM | Baseball 2004 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Early Candidate for Bedfellow Award

So, Edwards is out. On the last day of his campaign, though, The Hill gave us this report, which any lawyer would recognize as a major ethical no-no: in 1994, while still a practicing attorney, Edwards loaned $30,000 to a federal bankruptcy judge overseeing a case in which Edwards' wife was then appearing. It appears that the facts are not in dispute . . .

Of course, even while apparently accurate, this report is an early candidate for the Bedfellow Award (see here and here), which I christened for extremely late, can't-be-responded-to hit jobs in honor of the comic strip "Bloom County," in which Senator Bedfellow was defeated on the strength of an election-day headline, "WARNING: VOTING FOR BEDFELLOW MAY CAUSE HERPES." Obvious recent candidates include Bush's DUI arrest, highlighted at the end of the 2000 campaign, and the groping charges and pro-Hitler quotes dug up on Arnold Schwarzenegger last year. Of course, bonus points are for a charge that's false or at least severely overblown, as well as for charges that are inflammatory and/or totally unrelated to the issues (the Kerry-intern story now looks like it might qualify on all grounds, except that it wasn't quite as late in the game). Stay tuned - I'll wager that 2004's winner won't become clear for some time.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:22 AM | Politics 2004 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POP CULTURE: In Hollywood, "Christian is the new gay."

NRO's Mike Potemra quotes an amusingly overoptimistic take on Christianity's (very temporary) cache in Hollywood after the blockbuster opening weekend for The Passion of the Christ. Of course, let's face it: like political conservatism, Christianity will never be particularly popular in show business because it's not readily compatible with the sort of hedonistic sex-and-drugs lifestyle long favored by wealthy entertainers.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:13 AM | Pop Culture | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Spitzer and Gay Marriage

Elliott Spitzer is learning one of politics' painful lessons these days as he finds himself unable to duck the gay marriage issue: sometimes, you chase the headlines, and sometimes, the headlines chase you.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:08 AM | Politics 2004 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: The Good Ship Howard Dean

So, Dean finally did win a primary, owing to a sympathetic vote yesterday from his former constituents in Vermont. If you missed it, Howard Kurtz had a long and interesting post-mortem in Sunday's Washington Post on the Dean campaign from the inside. (Link via The Corner). One lesson: when your campaign staff is so out of touch they need Rob Reiner to tell them what's going on in the real world, that's a problem. It's probably also true, as Kurtz suggests, that Dean never really expected to win and may on some level have undermined his own campaign by being unwilling to accept the discipline of a frontrunner.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:06 AM | Politics 2004 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
March 2, 2004
BASEBALL: Doctor, Doctor, Give Me The News

Dr. Manhattan is back from another of his hiatuses (hiati?) with lots on the Yankees' acquisition of A-Rod, starting here.

While I'm at it, go check out Richard Ceccarelli's Angels blog, the Pearly Gates.

More baseball blogging around here as we get closer to the season.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:35 AM | Baseball 2004 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Never Mind

So the Cubs tear up the contract they signed with Derrek Lee to give him a better deal, a 3-year deal instead of a 1-year deal. Remember when Gene Orza from the Players Union told us that "A-Rod shouldn't be allowed to tear up his contract in the same way that Tom Hicks shouldn't be allowed to"? You think the union will tell the Cubs they can't do this?

Didn't think so.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:58 AM | Baseball 2004 | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)
LAW/RELIGION: No Such Thing As The Catholic Church?

The California Supreme Court rules that Catholic Charities can not decline to provide health insurance coverage for birth control to its workers. Of course, only big government run rampant explains why workers get to sue over the precise terms of health insurance coverage in the first place - well, that and the fact that the statute is explicitly targeted at religious employers who have objections of conscience. Tolerance of religion does not go far in California these days. Appalling.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:51 AM | Law 2002-04 • | Religion | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: AWOL Kerry

The Boston Herald calls Kerry on the fact that he's barely showed up to vote in the Senate while campaigning (ditto for Edwards), most notoriously by ducking the vote on the Medicare prescription drug bill. ScrappleFace called this one last month.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:50 AM | Politics 2004 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Pundit Roundup

A few good ones:

*LT Smash details Kerry's anti-defense positions from his 1984 Senate campaign. (Meanwhile, Oberon argues that the RNC's litany of bad Kerry votes on weapons systems is overstated, although he doesn't touch on Kerry's campaign against the CIA).

*Jonathan Chait on why Ralph Nader has always been a counterproductive zealot.

*Jonah Goldberg summarizes his thoughts on why and how conservatives approach the 'culture wars.'

*Tom Maguire on John Kerry's waffling on trade.

*Byron York on John Kerry, stuck in the Sixties (link via Kaus).

*Kaus summarizes his main beefs with Kerry.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:47 AM | Politics 2004 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: That's Debatable!, Part II

I listened to part of the Democrats' Sunday debate on the radio. Kerry has gotten some grief for his answer about whether God is on America's side, but I thought that Edwards had the answer to that question that I myself was composing in my head when they asked the question, which was to quote Lincoln saying he prayed not that God was on our side but that we were on God's side.

There was also some fun ducking and dodging on the gay marriage issue, with Kerry and Edwards circling the wagons on this issue under fierce attack from the left by all the panelists, Sharpton and Kucinich. (The transcript doesn't quite capture how loudly Kerry was stressing the word "RIGHTS" or, of course, Sharpton's inimitable bluster, although he had some amusing zingers).

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Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:38 AM | Politics 2004 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Joltless Joe

Maybe I'm not reading the right news sources, but it seemed pretty sad to me that they're holding all these primaries today in states Joe Lieberman had hoped to do well in - including his own home state - and nobody even seems to be speculating about whether he would endorse one of the candidates.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:27 AM | Politics 2004 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
HISTORY: RIP Boorstin

Distinguished historian Daniel Boorstin has died at 89. One of the several books I'm still working through at the moment is Boorstin's The Seekers, which is well-written and has a nice general summary of the history of major thinkers in Western Civilization (some of whom I can use to brush up on).

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:22 AM | History | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
March 1, 2004
WAR: Not in the Box

The most important thing to remember about the new revelations about the scope of Saddam Hussein's regime's ability to skim off funds from the UN's 'oil-for-food' program is not that Saddam was generally a bad guy or even that the UN is corrupt and/or incompetent. The most important thing is that the status quo wasn't working. The program, as sanctions often do, was hurting the Iraqi people without doing much to really interdict the flow of funds to the regime for use in any number of illicit purposes. And this was fairly well-known even before the war. It simply wasn't tenable to keep Saddam in a box indefinitely.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:03 AM | War 2004 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POP CULTURE: Lost in the Rings

I was certainly satisfied to see Return of the King take the Oscar last night; it wasn't necessarily the best film of the trilogy, but the whole masterpiece really deserved recognition.

When they announced the Best Actor, Bill Murray definitely had that "I'm never gonna have another chance at an Oscar" look on his face . . . I did see Lost in Translation a few weeks ago, and while some of the hype was overdone, it was quite good. Murray gave a fine performance, albeit one that was mostly your typical Bill Murray, just more subdued. I actually though that the person who really deserved recognition was Scarlett Johansson, who gave a really vivid portrayal of an aimless young woman.

At least, that's what I thought until I read that the movie was semi-autobiographical. If you saw Godfather III, you know that Sofia Coppola projects only the most minimal emotional range. Having seen Coppola's 'acting,' I came away wondering if Johansson's performance was more an extended (and highly accurate) impression rather than a characterization from whole cloth.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:57 AM | Pop Culture | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POP CULTURE/RELIGION: The Passion of the Audience

Stryker, who is something of an afficionado of Jesus movies, has a decidedly mixed review of The Passion of the Christ. Given how infrequently I get out to the theater, I'll probably wait for this movie to come out on video. But, having read a number of reviews and articles on the movie, I suspect that Stryker has hit the nail on the head with this observation (after comparing the film's violence to that in Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan):

For what purpose, I ask, would someone pay money to watch American servicemen and innocent Jews mocked, beaten, broken, and murdered? And why are those films rightly praised, while The Passion of the Christ seems to be judged by a different standard? For the answer, we have to turn to The Empire Strikes Back. When Yoda instructs Luke to enter the Cave, Skywalker asks, "What's in there?" Yoda replies, "Only what you take with you." What you bring into the theater will largely determine how you view this film.
Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:36 AM | Pop Culture • | Religion | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: A Prophet Is Only Without Honor . . .

I am shocked and saddened (well, mildly miffed) that my hometown newspaper, the Rockland/Westchester Journal-News, managed to write a profile of baseball bloggers and leave out this site, given that the Mad Hibernian and I are originally Nanuet natives. Go check it out, anyway - it has some good coverage of a number of other fine baseball bloggers who are worthy of the ink.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:02 AM | Baseball 2004 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)