Baseball Crank
"It gets late early around here." - Yogi Berra
August 31, 2004
POLITICS: Links 8/31/04

*Tim Blair notes that Kerry staffers have recently been admonished to be "more diligent about staying on top of the Senator's position." They'll need GPS for that one.

*QandO notices that John McCain has pointedly not denounced the Swift Boat Veterans' second ad, the one featuring Kerry's 1971 Senate testimony. Given the history there, this should not be surprising. Meanwhile, Wizbang reports that the Swifties are offering to drop their remaining ads if Kerry will meet certain conditions including an apology for his 1971 charges of war crimes.

*The Bush campaign, wisely, wants no part of Britney Spears at the GOP Convention.

*Jonathan Chait gets a convenient case of amnesia (subscription only):

Four years ago, Bush dismissed the attacks against McCain by insisting McCain's attacks against him were just as bad. Now Bush is using that line again, and McCain is repeating it. When asked about the discredited Swift Boat charges, McCain replied, "It bothers me that that is the case. It also bothers me that people connected to the Kerry campaign have had to do with attack ads against President Bush as well." You see, Bush's allies are accusing Kerry of lying about his war record and faking his wounds, but Kerry's allies are accusing Bush of weakening environmental regulations. So it's all the same thing.

McCain has even asserted that Kerry brought this on himself by emphasizing his record. "His critics are saying, 'Look, you made it fair game,'" McCain said. "I mean, that's very legitimate, and I think there's a risk that he took when he made it such a centerpiece. He may be paying a very heavy price." Uh huh. Four years ago, Bush made a big deal about his record as Texas governor. By that logic, then, it would have been "fair game" for critics to accuse him of using the governor's office for Michael Jackson-style sleepovers with little boys.

Leaving aside Chait's facile dismissal of the Swift Vets' charges, note how he assumes that all the attacks on Bush have been about such high-minded policy disputes as "accusing Bush of weakening environmental regulations." Apparently Chait has never heard of Michael Moore, or of the persistent and entirely unsubstantiated claim (made even by Kerry himself) that Bush was AWOL from his National Guard unit.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:03 PM | Politics 2004 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Win-Now Watch

Since July 30:

TeamWL+/-
Braves218--
Marlins1512-5
Expos1613-5
Phillies1316-8
Mets1118-10

Smells like victory . . .

PLAYERGABH2B3BHRRRBIBB*KSBAVGSLGOBP
David Wright291133490619195171.301.540.331
Ty Wigginton2990142015710180.156.211.240

* - Includes HBP

Well, this much is certain: the one decision the Mets made that has helped them win a few ballgames now was the one that involved giving an everyday job to a 21-year-old prospect.

PITCHERWLGIPERAH/9HR/9BB/9K/9
Kris Benson236356.4310.541.323.095.14
Victor Zambrano203143.867.710.003.869.00
Scott Kazmir10285.6314.630.004.506.75

But hey, at least Rick Peterson can say that Victor Zambrano hasn't walked anyone in two weeks . . .

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:30 AM | Baseball 2004 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: The "G" Word

Andrew Sullivan has often ripped President Bush for not using the word "gay" - I wonder if he saw Friday's USAToday interview (only an abstract is now available online, but the cached version is here for now), Bush addressed the same-sex marriage issue:

Bush said he has not discussed the amendment with Mary Cheney, but "of course I've heard from people that are my friends who are gay. ... I will encourage a debate in a way that doesn't divide people into camps and doesn't disparage anybody."

Not that this really makes a huge difference, but since Sullivan has marked this as an important yardstick in his estimation, it's worth noting.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:25 AM | Politics 2004 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: McCain Pulls His Punches

Fine speeches last night by McCain and Giuliani, both of whom made some necessary points about the war on terror and the war in Iraq. The two speeches were a reminder that, no matter how else people may try to spin their presence at the podium, the two were there not because of their moderation on some issues but because of their star power, their obvious political talents, and most of all their unrelenting hawkishness on foreign policy. There's a reason McCain has a big speaking role at this convention and Chuck Hagel doesn't.

McCain's speech, however, was also an illustration of why he is unlikely to find success again as a presidential candidate. Once upon a time, John McCain was a brutally negative campaigner, promising an end to "the truth-twisting politics of Bill Clinton and Al Gore." Lately, though, McCain has seemed to take to heart his own crusade against negativity, alternating between cheerleading and chiding President Bush while staying mostly silent on the sins of the Democrats. McCain's prime-time slot covered the important stuff - the foreign policy stakes, the absence of sensible alternatives in Iraq, and a well-deserved potshot at Michael Moore - along with a clenched-teeth tribute to Bush's leadership. I particularly liked this one shot at the Al Gore far left: "I don’t doubt the sincerity of my Democratic friends. And they should not doubt ours." (Emphasis most definitely in original).

But a convention crowd wants more: an explanation of why John Kerry's competing vision (or lack thereof) should be found wanting. McCain mostly left that to Rudy. And if he seriously wants to be president, he will have to change that. Yes, it's true that Bush himself mostly avoids the big broadsides against Democrats, but he is willing to throw the occasional punch at his opponent. If McCain isn't willing to do the same anymore, maybe he doesn't want it badly enough.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:15 AM | Politics 2004 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
August 26, 2004
BASEBALL: Why Give Up On Kinney?

Rany Jazayerli has a good point about the Royals' acquisition of Matt Kinney:

I don’t know why on earth the Brewers would waive Matt Kinney.

Start with the reasons why they did. He’s now on his fourth organization; the Red Sox traded him to Minnesota for Greg Swindell back in 1998, and the Twins dealt him to Milwaukee two years ago when they ran out of room on their 40-man roster. He’s got a 5.18 career ERA, which isn’t good. Like far too many Royals’ pitchers, he’s a little too prone to flyballs (0.83 G/F ratio, 55 HR in 361 career IP).

Now here are all the reasons why they shouldn’t have. He’s not that old (27). He’s cheap ($400,000), although I think he’ll be arbitration-eligible this winter. He can miss bats, and he’s getting better at it. His K/9 ratio is 6.80 for his career, and consider this progression: 5.10, 6.14, 7.18, 7.51. Last season, he struck out 152 batters in 190 innings. Do you know how long it’s been since a Royals pitcher struck out 152 batters? Try 1997, by a pre-injury Kevin Appier.

And most importantly, he appears to have taken a big leap forward this season. His strikeout rate is the best of his career…and so is his walk rate (3.32 per 9). His ERA this season is 5.78, but most of that damage was done in the season’s first six weeks. His ERA on May 15th was 8.61; since then, this is his line:

31.2 IP, 35 H, 4 HR, 7 BB, 30 K, 3.13 ERA.

Plus, it’s worth noting that he’s been awfully hit-unlucky this year, surrendering 8 hits more than expected, which is a pretty margin in just 62 innings.

And we’re not talking about a soft-tosser; Kinney throws in the mid-90s, and was considered a top prospect in the minor leagues.

So why did the Brewers flat-out release him? Damned if I know. He was definitely getting torched by lefties (.379/.443/.543). While his platoon splits have never been as dramatic as they were this year, that may always be a problem for him. And the turnaround to his season corresponds to the time he was demoted to the bullpen. He had a 9.72 ERA as a starter this season, and even though he’s been pitching well in relief, I suppose the Brewers may be disappointed by what Kinney hasn’t become, as opposed to what he has.

What he has become is a pretty damn good reliever, with the stuff and sudden breakout in his K/BB ratio to suggest continued upside. The Royals plan to use him in middle relief, and maybe that’s all he’ll ever be good for. But it’s sure as hell worth giving him the roster spot to find out.

Point, Allard Baird.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:31 PM | Baseball 2004 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
LAW: Following The Rules

Judge Richard Conway Casey of the Southern District of New York has joined judges in San Francisco and Nebraska in enjoining the partial-birth abortion ban, despite his own convictions on the issue:

While Casey concluded that such abortions are "gruesome, brutal, barbaric and uncivilized,'' he said the law banning them is unconstitutional because it doesn't contain an exception to protect the health of the mother. A previous U.S. Supreme Court ruling held that the procedure can be outlawed "only if there exists a medical consensus that there is no circumstance in which any women could potentially benefit from it,'' Casey said.

Casey - an alum of both my college and my law firm, I should add - is a sort-of Clinton appointee; he was originally nominated by George H.W. Bush at the recommendation of Al D'Amato but had his nomination blocked by Senate Democrats. President Clinton renominated him in 1997, making him the first blind man appointed to the federal bench. I haven't seen the opinion and I am, of course, disappointed with the result, but I have to respect the fact that Judge Casey went against his own expressed policy preferences in following what appears to be the Supreme Court's lead on this issue. It's unfortunate that that sort of judicial restraint tends to be a one-way street.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 3:21 PM | Law 2002-04 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
BASKETBALL: Shooting By The Numbers

The miserable showing by the US Olympic basketball team has people talking about the decline of shooting in the NBA. It's certainly true that this team can't shoot. But is offensive efficiency and skill really in decline around the league? It's an appropriate time to unveil another of my long-standing research projects: a statistical history of offensive efficiency and tempo in the NBA. My apologies if someone else has done this stuff before, but I got tired of trying to find it somewhere; tip of the hat to Basketball-Reference.com for the numbers.

I'll run these in table form, decade by decade. The first four columns of the chart should be familiar enough: the leaguewide averages for team points per game (P/G), shooting percentage on two-point shots (2%), on three-point shots (3%), and on free throws (FT%). A key stat I use here is Points Per Field Goal Attempt (PPFGA), developed by John Hollinger of the Basketball Prospectus; the formula is (P/(FGA+.44(FTA))). Basically, Holinger started by assuming that a free throw is worth 1/2 of a field goal attempt (e.g., you get two shots for two points instead of a single field goal attempt), then cut the ratio from .5 to .44 based on an analysis of how often guys shoot an extra free throw after hitting a bucket, for a technical foul, etc. I use the denominator of this formula to estimate the number of team shot attempts per game (FGA/G). The last three columns seek to break down the components that go into offensive efficiency above and beyond the shooting percentages: the percentage of the league's points that were scored at the line (FT/P), the frequency of free throw attempts per field goal attempt (FGA/FTA; a higher number means less free throws), and (since 1979-80) the percentage of shots that were three-point attempts (%3).

I've listed league expansion and contraction under "Major Rules Changes," but I'm sure I've missed some actual changes in the rules that had some significant effects. Also, I haven't set out the blow-by-blow extension of the schedule; the NBA schedule rose gradually to 72 games in 1953-54, then went up to 75 in 1959-60, 79 the following year and wound up at its present 82 in 1967-68. I also haven't done a similar table for the ABA, for a variety of reasons; maybe another day. Let's begin:

The 1940s

Major Rules Changes: 1947-48, league contracts from 11 teams to 8; zone defenses outlawed

SeasonP/G2%3%FT%PPFGAFGA/GFT/PFGA/FTA%3
1946-4767.8.279N/A.6410.693103.923.43.75N/A
1947-4872.7.284N/A.6750.674107.925.13.56N/A
1948-4980.0.327N/A.7030.781102.427.52.83N/A

The NBA traces its official records back to 1946-47, although the league was known as the BAA (Basketball Association of America) for the first three years prior to a merger with another professional league. To the modern eye, a league-wide field goal percentage around .280 is almost inconceivable, although to the novice basketball fan at the time it may have seemed to make it easier to grasp basketball statistics (see! they're just like batting averages!). As you can see from the above and the seasons of the early 1950s, however, the offensive skill level of the league was improving rapidly as the league gathered the nation's best basketball players; look at the 60-point increase in the league's free throw percentage in a two-year span. Free throw percentage is a good barometer of basic shooting skill, since free throw shooting is basically just man vs. basket, with no adjustment for the level of competition. The pace of play reached a pre-shot-clock high of 107.9 shot attempts per game in the league's second season, when teams played just a 48-game schedule.

The 1950s

Major Rules Changes: 1951-52, size of foul lane doubled from 6 to 12 feet; 1954-55, shot clock introduced; 1957-58, ban on offensive goaltending

SeasonP/G2%3%FT%PPFGAFGA/GFT/PFGA/FTA%3
1949-5080.0.340N/A.7150.82097.629.52.52N/A
1950-5184.1.357N/A.7320.85598.329.12.50N/A
1951-5283.7.367N/A.7350.87795.529.22.43N/A
1952-5382.4.370N/A.7160.88792.931.22.15N/A
1953-5479.5.372N/A.7090.88589.929.42.28N/A
1954-5593.1.385N/A.7380.911102.228.52.41N/A
1955-5699.0.387N/A.7450.916108.128.62.40N/A
1956-5799.6.380N/A.7510.899110.827.92.56N/A
1957-58106.6.383N/A.7460.898118.726.82.66N/A
1958-59108.2.395N/A.7560.915118.325.42.82N/A

Basketball in the Fifties, especially early in the decade, was a bruising business, as earthbound forwards and centers dominated the game. The level of violence in the game reached a pinnacle in the 1952-53 season, with one foul shot for every 2.15 field goal attempts and a record 31.2% of all points being scored at the line. Perhaps the archetypical player was Dolph Schayes, who shot 40% in a season just once (.401 in 1959-60), but averaged nearly 8 free throw attempts per game for his career while shooting .849 from the line, and averaged 12 or more rebounds a game 11 years in a row. Bob Cousy debuted in 1950-51, and revolutionized the game by being the first true point guard, but took some time to foster imitators; Bill Russell arrived in 1956-57, although black players would not become a common fixture for several more seasons. You can see the immediate and dramatic impact on tempo of the shot clock, as well as the fact that it was introduced to arrest a decline in the pace of the game.

Read More »


Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:00 AM | Basketball | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
BLOG: STRINGS ATTACHED

OK, rant time. It's 1 in the morning, and I just got off the phone after two hours (most of it spent on hold) trying to get assistance from Dell with our wireless connection. I should have been in bed a long time ago, I've got to work in the morning, and for good measure I'd hoped to work on a long blog entry I've been working over. All out the window.

Here's the deal: my wife and I got a Dell laptop about two months ago. Although there were other uses for the laptop, we paid a lot of extra money to ensure that the laptop would have wireless service so that, among other things, I could blog without having to hibernate in the basement, where the desktop and cable modem are located. We paid for the wireless card, we paid for the router. I spent upwards of 90 minutes on the phone with tech support in early July to hook the ^%!^@! thing up.

Result: we can now use the internet . . . in our bedroom. It's the only place on the ground floor of the house where the wireless signal comes through (it's directly above the room in the basement where the desktop and router are located). To keep the connection, you need to walk very slowly out of the bedroom, and then it's a weak connection that can be lost at a moment's notice, which among other things means frequent saving or risk of losing lots of work on the blog.

So, tonight I got fed up and called Dell for help. 25 minutes on hold, get the call center in India on the line, get a few hugely time-consuming but ineffective pieces of advice. Get switched to the wireless specialist; almost an hour on hold ensues. Wireless specialist walks me througn a few items and then announces that (1) the problem may be that the wireless connection can't work in the presence of cordless phones (both our phones are cordless, and without one I could not call him from in front of the computer) or microwave ovens; (2) the router could be interfered with by walls, ceilings, etc., and (3) if we want it to work we have to buy yet another router. None of which cautions were mentioned anywhere by Dell or any of the other sources I looked at before plunking down the money for this thing. And I'll be damned if I'm going to buy another router only to be told I need to replace my telephone and unplug the microwave to use the computer.

Is wireless access really a mirage? Is it just Dell? Or did I just talk to an idiot in tech support? I don't know. I just know I'm unlikely to ever get what I paid for. And I'll be blogging in the basement for the foreseeable future. Grrrrr.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 1:13 AM | Blog 2002-05 | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)
August 25, 2004
BASEBALL: Things I Wish I'd Seen

Red-hot man mountain Calvin Pickering - now batting .364/1.364/.417 in three games since his Sunday callup to replace the injured Mike Sweeney - hit a bases-clearing triple last night in Anaheim. Pickering looks like he may finally be living up to his long-ago promise, having had a huge year in AAA.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:15 AM | Baseball 2004 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: McQ Reads The Reports

One of the lingering debates on the Swift Boat story is whether the incident in which John Kerry pulled James Rassman out of the water - and won the Bronze Star - occurred under enemy fire or not; the Swifties say that there was no fire and that several boats (the captains of which have lined up against Kerry on this point) were at the scene for some time fishing the crew of PCF 3 (Kerry's boat was PCF 94) out of the water after it hit a mine and was disabled.

McQ over at QandO explains why the NY Times has (unsurprisingly) misread the Navy documents on Kerry's website to mistakenly claim that several Viet Cong were killed during the incident; McQ contends that the documents actually show that they were killed on land by soldiers the swift boats had been carrying earlier in their mission.

UPDATE: Don't forget to follow McQ's links; this and this present sober, clear-headed assessments of the available evidence regarding the March 13, 1969 engagement, with more supporting links. Frankly, this is getting to be an interesting "whodunit"-type story, even apart from its (tenuous) relevance to the presidential race.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:51 AM | Politics 2004 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
August 24, 2004
POLITICS: In The Tank

Watching Kerry on Jon Stewart - Stewart is totally in the tank for Kerry. Maybe that's not surprising; you don't expect tough questions on a comedy show. But Stewart makes it clear whose side he's on.

One interesting note: Kerry is starting to play the expectations game by noting that Bush has won every debate he's been in.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:20 PM | Politics 2004 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: The F-102

While we're in the pre-convention lull - and I assure you, faithful readers, that by next week I'll be back on the issues as far as political coverage goes - it's worth remembering what a fraud many of the attacks on President Bush's National Guard service have been. The Donovan pointed recently to an essay on Aerospaceweb.org (with useful, and let's face it, really cool pictures) on the F-102, Bush's aircraft, and on his service record. A few key excerpts (but make sure to go there and read the whole thing):

Read More »


Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:55 PM | Politics 2004 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Kerry Crack-Up

CrushKerry.com - not an impartial source, obviously - claims that the decision to threaten legal action against the Swift Boaters came from Kerry himself against the better judgment of his advisors. Here's what's interesting about Kerry wanting to use the courts to squelch criticism: remember the FOX lawsuit against Al Franken, which was widely reported to have been instigated by Bill O'Reilly? Remember the hue and cry on the left at O'Reilly over this?

*Matt Yglesias: "If this sort of thing is going to be typical of rightwing tactical thinking in the near future, then Bush is definitely going down in 2004."

*Kevin Drum endorsed attempts to shame the lawyers who filed the suit.

*Jack Balkin called it "A Fair and Balanced Attempt at Censorship" and added:

The most troubling aspect of the lawsuit politically is its attempt to harass a political opponent through the use of intellectual property laws. . . . We can only hope that Fox receives the bad publicity it deserves for filing this lawsuit; first, for being on the wrong side of this free speech controversy, and second, for trying to suppress people who disagree with its coverage of the news. It is particularly upsetting for a news organization to try to use the courts to suppress the speech of its political critics.

(See also Oliver Willis and Mark Kleiman)

Now, it turns out that the Democrats' presidential candidate is the same sort of glass-jawed bully that O'Reilly is. Oh, the irony.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:43 PM | Politics 2004 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Cross Balls

I just noticed a new feature at Baseball-Reference.com: lists of baseball players by the colleges they attended. My alma mater, Holy Cross, is well represented with 77 major league players, albeit the great bulk of them real old-timers, and the last guy (former Twins pitcher Mike Pazik) retiring in 1977. Notables include 19th century star Cubs outfielder Jimmy Ryan; Lou Sockalexis, the Native American supposed namesake of the Cleveland Indians (who was kicked out of HC for drinking - I guess the place was rather different then); Andy Coakley, a successful pitcher for Connie Mack's pennant-winning 1905 A's; Jack Barry, the shortstop in Mack's "$100,000 Infield," who later coached baseball at the Cross for decades; "Jumpin' Joe" Dugan, the third baseman for the 1927 Yankees; Rosy Ryan, a starting pitcher for the Giants when they won four pennants and two World Series between 1921 and 1924; and Mike Hegan, a journeyman catcher who played for the 1964 Yankees, 1969 Seattle Pilots, and 1972-73 A's.

Not a bad crew. Barry or Jimmy Ryan was probably the best player of the bunch.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:31 PM | Baseball 2004 | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Don't Know Much About Cambodia

Captain Ed, who's been one of the blogosphere's All-Stars lately, notes a Washington Post article that puts the final nail in John Kerry's claims to have a "memory . . . seared -- seared -- in me" of making an illegal border crossing into Cambodia on a swift boat during his tour in Vietnam.

UPDATE: But one of Kerry's "Band of Brothers," Del Sandusky, is sticking by the Cambodia story.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:24 PM | Politics 2004 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Wright's Patience

Avkash has more on David Wright's patience at the plate, and why we shouldn't be too concerned at his lack of walks thus far.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:18 PM | Baseball 2004 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Quick Links

*Reuters doesn't know the difference between documents and evidence

*Joe Klein:

George W. Bush announced last Monday in a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) that he wanted to bring around 70,000 troops home from Germany and North Korea over the next 10 years. In principle, that is not very controversial. The military and foreign policy priesthoods have favored that sort of restructuring since the end of the cold war. And yet, when Kerry spoke to the VFW two days later, he attacked Bush's position, using an argument with some merit but of microscopic import in the midst of a presidential campaign: he said it was a "hasty" and "political" plan and certainly not a good negotiating tactic to withdraw troops from Korea while we are trying to get the North Koreans to drop their nuclear program.

But oops. Some two weeks earlier, in an interview with George Stephanopoulos, Kerry had taken a different position: "I think we can significantly change the deployment of troops, not just [in Iraq] but ... in the Korean peninsula, perhaps, in Europe, perhaps." As you might imagine, the Bush campaign quickly pointed out the inconsistency.

The stumble raises two basic questions about Kerry's campaign. First, is he a latter-day Ron Burgundy—the idiot 1970s anchorman of Will Ferrell's recent film who would read anything that appeared on his TelePrompTer? Did Kerry not remember what he had said to Stephanopoulos?

*This is unbelievable, and a good example of why Tad Devine is such a tool: blaming Bush for the Democrats' over-the-top rhetoric:

Now listen, I think we can understand Senator Harkin said something very tough today and I think I know why. Because this president and this vice president have so polarized this country, have so polarized this campaign, they‘re bringing out the absolute toughest things on both sides.

Link via Hanks.

Read More »


Posted by Baseball Crank at 4:30 PM | Politics 2004 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Candidate, Denounce Thyself

John Kerry is in a box. He's been calling on President Bush to denounce the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth ad, although Bush's more generalized blast at independent "527" groups yesterday makes it harder to press that point. But what are Kerry's possible arguments for dismissing the Swift Boat ads?

1. It's Ancient History. This is the easy and logical response to attacks on something a politician did 30+ years ago under factual circumstances that have grown hazy: dismiss it as old news. Heck, Bill Clinton routinely called for people to "move on" from things he'd done while he was President. Indeed, even the Vietnamese think that the Vietnam War should be a non-issue in this campaign. But Kerry torched that bridge a long time ago; a man who introduced himself to the general electorate in July and made his Vietnam service literally the first thing out of his mouth, surrounded by his "band of brothers," can't plausibly argue that what happened in Vietnam means nothing to his campaign.

2. Independent Ads Are Bad. Given the vast array of anti-Bush spending over the past year - including Michael Moore pushing his movie's video release up to October - Kerry can't well denounce 527 groups and other independent actors in principle.

3. It's Wrong To Attack A Man's Service Record. Here's the biggest problem: if Kerry wants to stand on principle as saying you shouldn't attack a man's service record, he has a three-pronged problem: (a) he himself is attacking over 200 of his own comrades who are involved in the Swift Boat campaign; (b) he has to deal with his own past history of making false charges of widespread atrocities against American troops in Vietnam; and (c) he has personally attacked Bush's service record with the Texas Air National Guard. From Kerry's own mouth:

I think a lot of veterans are going to be very angry at a president who can't account for his own service in the National Guard, and a vice president who got every deferment in the world and decided he had better things to do, criticizing somebody who fought for their country and served

That was accompanied by this Kerry campaign press release entitled "Key Unanswered Questions on Bush's Record In National Guard." And, from Kerry's campaign spokesman, Chad Clanton:

Voters are going to have to decide: someone who volunteered to service their country when their country needed them or someone else who, you know, it speaks for itself. It is a contrast, it is a difference. … There is no better test than whether someone is committed to defending their country than whether they've put their life on the line on the battlefield.

Were Kerry to take the same stand he demands from Bush, he'd have to denounce himself and his own campaign. Oops.

4. Attack The Financing. This has been Kerry's main tactic: focus on the Republican financiers of these ads rather than the men in the ads. Of course, Charles Krauthammer had the best response to this:

The Democrats have reacted to the Swift boat vets with anguished and selective indignation. This assault was bankrolled by rich Bush supporters, they charge. No kidding. Where else would Swift boat vets get the money? With the exception of the romantic few who serially marry millionaire heiresses, Swift boaters are generally of modest means. Where are they going to get the cash to be heard? Harold Ickes?

Anyway, unlike Paula Jones - about whom the charge may have had some credibility - people can't seriously believe that the 200+ Swift Boat Veterans, each one a man who served his country in wartime, have been bought off; they may or may not be the most credible individuals, but most of them seem to be gainfully employed, and some quite successful.

5. They're Lying. Of course, this is the bottom line, but it's a place Kerry doesn't want to go, because it means engaging the Swift vets on their terms: disputing whether the accusations are true. But it's all he has left, and now - with the campaign focusing on Kerry's anti-war activities, about which the only dispute is how clear it should have been to Kerry that his charges were untrue - even that is not a defense.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 4:16 PM | Politics 2004 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
August 23, 2004
BASEBALL: Wright to Dream

David Wright hasn't missed a game yet since arriving at Shea; here are his numbers projected to a full season:

GABH2B3BHRRRBIBBKSB-CSAVGSLGOBPHPBGIDP
1626712035802911087231046-0.303.519.331623

Well, we Mets fans need something to dream on. Wright's flyball/groundball ratio of 0.78 bodes particularly well for him as a power hitter, although it hasn't stopped him from hitting into double plays. Ironically, Wright has been missing the two elements - steady defense and patience at the plate - that were his predecessor Ty Wigginton's two most conspicuous weaknesses. But Wright is 21 and showed both in the minors, so there's hope for the future.

Now, if we can ever get Jose Reyes healthy . . .

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:11 AM | Baseball 2004 | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
August 22, 2004
POLITICS: Matthews v. Thurlow

I gotta say, on reading this transcript, Larry Thurlow - one of the Swift Boat vets - doesn't sound very credible to me, although it's hard to tell with Chris Matthews browbeating the guy.

UPDATE: The bottom line: even leaving aside the issue of the relevance of microanalysis of Kerry's war record to the campaign - I continue to think that Kerry's actual record is of little relevance, although if he's been lying about his record all these years that is something, whereas I also continue to think that Kerry's early-70s anti-war activities when he was preparing a run for Congress are much more relevant - it seems over-the-top for the Swift Boaters to be attacking every one of Kerry's medals. The attack on Kerry's Bronze Star (the rescue of Jim Rassman), of which Thurlow is a part, is especially central to this controversy; while the attack on Kerry's Silver Star seems mostly to involve a difference of opinion, there's a direct factual contradiction between Kerry and the other swift boat captains over (1) how many boats were present when Kerry pulled Rassman out of the water and (2) whether there was enemy fire at the time. Rassman seems like a sincere and truthful witness in support of Kerry on this point, but his vantage point may not have been that great - by his own testimony, he was under water for most of the incident and (correct me if I'm misreading this) may not have been able to tell the difference between enemy fire and fire from the swift boats at the shore - and John O'Neill has cited physical evidence supporting the Swift Vets' version of the event.

At the end of the day, it may be that some of the Swift Boaters are not being honest or don't remember things real well, although (1) that doesn't necessarily call into question the whole enterprise, since we've seen examples already of Kerry, to put it charitably, having inaccurate recollections of those events, and (2) I don't for a second think these guys have been bought off or that they are all partisan Republicans; it's much more likely that their primary motivation is bitterness at Kerry's anti-war speeches.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:27 PM | Politics 2004 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Bob Dole Goes Postal

Bob Dole became the first major Republican to directly attack John Kerry's war record on Wolf Blitzer's show today, lighting into Kerry with startling ferocity:

BLITZER: First of all, Senator, what's your bottom line on this whole ad campaign?

DOLE: I think this can hurt Kerry more than all the medal controversy. I mean, one day he's saying that we were shooting civilians, cutting off their ears, cutting off their heads, throwing away his medals or his ribbons. The next day he's standing there, "I want to be president because I'm a Vietnam veteran."

And I think he's -- I said months ago, "John, don't go too far." And I think he's got himself into this wicket now where he can't extricate himself because not every one of these people can be Republican liars. There's got to be some truth to the charges. But this is on tape. This is on television. This is before the Senate committee.

BLITZER: Just to remind our viewers, this is when he came back from Vietnam. He testified in 1971...

DOLE: Ran for Congress.

BLITZER: Right. And he was quoting a whole bunch of other Vietnam veterans who opposed the war and making these allegations of atrocities, if you will, war crimes committed by U.S. troops. And a lot of people have always suggested that what's really angered these Vietnam veterans, the other side, is, not so much what he did or didn't do when he served in Vietnam, but what he did when he came back.

DOLE: I think that's true. And I think this ad's going to take -- it's going to be tough on Kerry because -- and he says, "Well, this is all hearsay," what he picked up from other veterans. But he said it. He said it before a Senate committee. It had worldwide attention.

BLITZER: The fact that he said on Tim Russert's "Meet the Press" a few months ago he probably went too far. He was a young man just back from Vietnam, and he probably shouldn't have said some of those things during those statements when he came home from Vietnam. Does that ease the responsibility that he has?

DOLE: Maybe he should apologize to all the other 2.5 million veterans who served. He wasn't the only one in Vietnam. And here's, you know, a good guy, good friend. I respect his record. But three Purple Hearts and never bled that I know of. I mean, they're all superficial wounds. Three Purple Hearts and you're out. I think Senator Kerry needs to talk about his Senate record, which is pretty thin. That's probably why he's talking about his war record, which is pretty confused.

BLITZER: You know, the American public seems to be paying attention to these Swift Boat Veterans for Truth ads. There's a CBS poll that came out. I think this is the right poll. Here it is. Presidential choice among veterans, 37 percent support Kerry-Edwards, 55 percent Bush-Cheney. But after the convention it was at 46 percent. He seems to be losing support among veterans, which is an influential bloc of voters out there.

DOLE: You know, I think it's too early to tell what -- nobody maybe in six -- how many days left? Not many. There are eight weeks. Maybe this will be forgotten. Maybe there will be something else. But I think this has certainly damaged Senator Kerry. And I think it's partly his own doing. He can't lay out -- I remember in '96, I was the veteran in the race. Bill Clinton avoided the draft. And we didn't have all this trouble over my service versus his non-service. There wasn't much written about it. People accepted the fact that I had a record. Now there's all the talk about Bush's National Guard service. Has he told the truth? Has he released the records? And one way, I think, for John Kerry, who I consider to be a friend, is to maybe apologize to all these people for something he may have said at a very early age, and let us have those records he's given to the author...

BLITZER: Douglas Brinkley.

DOLE: Douglas Brinkley, the records and the journals...

BLITZER: Who wrote a book about his experience.

DOLE: Yes. But somebody ought to find out the facts. I think this is going to be -- could be the sleeper issue.

[Snip]

DOLE: . . . John McCain is absolutely correct. But as I recall, it was Terry McAuliffe who made reference to President Bush as being AWOL. They dragged up all the stuff. I think there were 80 stories in the media about the National Guard. There's only been about eight or 10 on the so-called Kerry flap.

So it seems to me they've initiated it, and now they've got into some rather murky area. But I don't -- I wish they'd forget it. It's not about whether or not you're...

[Snip]

DOLE: . . . . [T]hese same people now are going after Bush. I didn't see them going after Clinton in '96 because he didn't serve at all. They were going after me on my record. That's why I say we ought to get back to the issues. Let's talk about the issues.

[Snip]

DOLE: I don't quarrel with that. I said John Kerry's a hero. But what I will always quarrel about are the Purple Hearts. I mean, the first one, whether he ought to have a Purple Heart -- he got two in one day, I think. And he was out of there in less than four months, because three Purple Hearts and you're out. And as far as I know, he's never spent one day in the hospital. I don't think he draws any disability pay. He doesn't have any disability. And boasting about three Purple Hearts when you think of some of the people who really got shot up in Vietnam...

BLITZER: And speaking about people getting shot up in Vietnam, the Democrats, at least some Democrats, are now going after the president and the vice president for avoiding service in Vietnam. Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa, Democrat...

DOLE: He's not a very good one to complain because he was hiding out in Japan, claiming he was a Vietnam veteran.

(via SpinSwimming). Some of this smacks of bitterness, of course, but Dole is plainly disgusted with Kerry's overuse of his Vietnam record, and it's not hard to see why the stress on the three Purple Hearts are particularly galling to Dole, given Kerry's obvious robust health compared to the severity of Dole's wounds. You can also hear the former infantry officer in Dole when he's asked about John McCain's comments and he remarks, "Yes, but, John wasn't there. He was up in the air."

I await the usual suspects calling Dole a "chickenhawk" because he didn't serve in Vietnam. At any rate, we're getting another object lesson in the ugliness of campaigns based on my-war-record-can-beat-up-your-war-record.

UPDATE: Captain Ed suggests that Dole may have been provoked into this outburst by a Boston Globe editorial that denigrated one of Dole's own Purple Hearts. Idiots.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:39 PM | Politics 2004 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
BASKETBALL: New Source

I was contacted recently by the proprietors of the new site Basketball-Reference.com . . . a little background: Sean Forman for years has done great work with Baseball-Reference.com, the premier baseball stats page on the web and one I support with several page sponsorships, and after some stumbles introduced Pro-Football-Reference.com. But for some time, a need was unmet in basketball, and a competitor set up (an extremely useful) knockoff site, Basketballreference.com. I had been using the site for many months and permalinked it here, but an affiliate of Forman has finally established the new site. Check it out; it seems to run a little faster and better than the imitation site.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:26 PM | Basketball | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Moving To Close Quarters

Instapundit (just keep scrollin') and the Minute Man have moved in for the kill on the Swift Boat story. Blood in the water! This is getting nasty, and of course it's all feuled by the fact that there's a bunch of veterans out there who have been nursing a very well-deserved grudge against Kerry for 33 years now. This, from the Swift vets' ad (watch it yourself), is just devastating - following an explanation of how the North Vietnamese often tried to get POWs to falsely confess to war crimes:

"John Kerry gave the enemy for free what I and many of my comrades in the North Vietnam prison camps took torture to avoid saying,'' says Paul Galanti, identified on screen as a prisoner of war from January 1966 to February, 1973.

Welcome to 21st century political campaigns.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:47 AM | Politics 2004 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
August 21, 2004
POLITICS/POP CULTURE: Governor Piscopo

Joe Piscopo says he may abandon his lucrative career as . . . uh . . . well, anyway, he may run for governor of New Jersey as a Democrat.

Piscopo, of course, stopped being funny when he started lifting weights, which makes him the prime example of what I might term Picsopo's Laws of Thermodynamics for Comedians:

*The talent of a small-to-average-size comedian decreases in direct proportion to the increase in the mass of the comedian.

*The talent of an average-size-to-large comedian decreases in direct proportion to the decrease in the mass of the comedian.

Not sure why exactly this is. Partly it's because fat comedians who make jokes about being fat and sloppy get less funny when they get in shape, skinny comedians who do a lot of pratfalls and physical comedy lose some of that if they get fat (think: Dan Aykroyd), and comedians generally get less funny if they start working out and taking themselves seriously. Which is another way of saying that growing up is bad for comics.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:11 AM | Politics 2004 • | Pop Culture | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Not The Last To Be Tortured With Kerry's Speeches

John McCain on John Kerry's 1971 Senate testimony charging American soldiers with widespread and systematic war crimes in Vietnam:

In piece he wrote for the May 14, 1973, issue of U.S. News & World Report, the POW-turned-senator charged that testimony by Kerry and others before J. William Fulbright's Senate Foreign Relations Committee was "the most effective propaganda [my North Vietnamese captors] had to use against us."

"They used Senator Fulbright a great deal," McCain wrote - a reference to Kerry's 1971 Senate testimony that U.S. soldiers were committing war crimes in Vietnam as a matter of course.

He said Kerry political ally Sen. Ted Kennedy was "quoted again and again" by his jailers at the Hanoi Hilton.

"Clark Clifford was another [North Vietnamese] favorite," McCain told U.S. News, "right after he had been Secretary of Defense under President Johnson."

"When Ramsey Clark came over [my jailers] thought that was a great coup for their cause," he recalled. Months earlier, Sen. Kerry had appeared with Clark at the April 1971 Washington, D.C., anti-war protest that showcased his testimony before the Fulbright Committee.

"All through this period," McCain told U.S. News, his captors were "bombarding us with anti-war quotes from people in high places back in Washington. This was the most effective propaganda they had to use against us."

Via Henry Hanks. It's stories like this that make ads like this one so devastating.

Sometimes, in war, soldiers - even in the best of armies - commit horrible atrocities; such is human nature and the opportunity war affords for the exercise of its most brutal impulses. And nobody really disputes that some American soldiers committed such atrocities in Vietnam, probably - given the nature of the war - with greater frequency than other wars.

But Kerry has sold himself - and won the hearts of some veterans - on the theory that service in Vietnam was, whatever the merits of the war itself, no different than any other service; that American soldiers who served there did so with the same honor, and deserve the same recognition, as veterans of other wars. I have no quarrel with that argument, which seems quite right to me; but hardly anybody did more at the time to argue the contrary position - that American soldiers had acted barbarously as a matter of course - than Kerry. No wonder his words (while he was still a member of the Navy Reserve) were such effective propaganda for the enemy.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:09 AM | Politics 2004 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
August 20, 2004
POLITICS: "Front" Groups

Bryon Scott over at Blogs for Bush takes a hard look at "independent" 527 groups and finds that, for all the fuss about "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth," such groups are overwhelmingly Democratic.

UPDATE: Jay Caruso has done a good deal more digging, and looks at individual Democrats with close ties to both the Kerry campaign and the "independent" 527s. If the Bush people are savvy, they will counterclaim with such a bill of particulars against Kerry's complaint to the FEC (which I gather is based on the work of Kerry's investigators at the NY Times) regarding the independence of the Swifties.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:32 PM | Politics 2004 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: More Ichiro

If the season ended today, the AL division winners would be the Yankees, Twins and A's, and the Red Sox would take the Wild Card. Ichiro is hitting .428 against those four teams (68/159). Wow. (The overall scalding hot streak continues: .394 since May 1 (163/414), .483 since the All-Star Break (70/145)).

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:48 AM | Baseball 2004 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: It's The Kerrymobile!

Ricky West has the details.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:24 AM | Politics 2004 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
August 19, 2004
BASEBALL: Snakes, Bit

How bad are the Diamondbacks? You probably know that they're on pace for more than 110 losses and that, entering last night's action, they'd lost 46 of their last 55 games. Mike's Baseball Rants has some historical perspective; even the 1962 Mets and last year's Tigers never lost more than 44 of 55 games (the 1916 A's, however managed a 4-56 slide).

How about this: before last night's victory over Pittsburgh, the D-Backs were 0-14 against the Tigers, Expos, Devil Rays and Pirates.

Opposing lefthanded batters are hitting .299/.486/.395 - against a team that sends Randy Johnson to the hill every fifth day. Take out Johnson (.171/.261/.244) and that goes to .309/.503/.405. With men on base, opposing teams are hitting .289/.495/.385 against Arizona.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:17 AM | Baseball 2004 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
August 18, 2004
BASEBALL: The Team That Might Have Been Actually Was

The 1994 Montreal Expos are one of baseball's great "what-if" stories - what if they'd played out a full season? What if they'd won the World Series? Would they have been able to hold together such a talented team? Would they have saved baseball in Montreal?

Well, we can't answer those questions precisely . . . although we can approximate an answer to the first question, and without resort to "what-ifs." I was playing around with the Streak Reports on Baseball-Reference.com some time ago, and noticed that from August 19, 1993 through May 5, 1995 - a full 162-game schedule including the entire 1994 regular season - the Expos won 110 games and lost just 52. (The Expos finished the 1993 season on a 31-10 tear in a futile attempt to catch the Phillies, went 74-40 to post the best record in baseball in 1994, and opened 1995 with a 5-2 spurt before slumping to a last-place finish with a depleted lineup. For that stretch, they were, in plain sight, a great team for one full season's worth of games, similar to, say, the 1975 Reds (108 wins), the 1986 Mets (108 wins), or the 1984 Tigers (104 wins). And now, thanks to the magic of Retrosheet, we can not only see that 110-win record; we can flesh out the picture by reconstructing the individual stats of the players who made up a great team. Let's take a look:

Batting Stats

PLAYERGABH2B3BHRRRBIBBKSB-CSAvgSlgOBPDPHB
Darrin Fletcher13241911027215467931350-0.263.444.31477
Cliff Floyd11738710519454744277912-3.271.380.32143
Mike Lansing14553214529255949425519-10.273.363.334158
Wil Cordero149555161404208390507917-5.290.485.356108
Sean Berry139427121273186960517219-1.283.487.361113
Larry Walker14052416050426101112739123-8.305.565.390105
Marquis Grissom1516481983041813072548260-7.306.448.356141
Moises Alou12949716637626939046757-7.334.590.39376
Lou Frazier103188483202918193322-5.255.293.32511
Rondell White69185501426283017362-3.270.465.34033
Lenny Webster57143391005132316240-0.273.448.37076
Randy Ready321052761117101862-1.257.362.37141
Juan Bell389727402121015214-0.278.381.37210
Randy Milligan478219202101214210-0.232.329.33710
Freddie Benavides478516510863150-0.188.271.22221
Oreste Marrero2766154119314121-3.227.364.36300
Tim Spehr7672247111696193-0.333.500.38500
Delino DeShields1761152109413109-0.246.311.36201
John Vander Wal24491041083830-1.204.327.31610
Jeff Gardner1832701041350-0.219.281.28610
Roberto Kelly729720153041-1.241.414.24130
Tony Tarasco620930032140-0.450.600.47600
Shane Andrews616520235250-0.313.813.38900

Team Totals

PLAYERGABH2B3BHRRRBIBBKSB-CSAvgSlgOBPGDPHPB
NON-PITCHERS1625265149733041155808746523798203-57.284.451.35210354
PITCHERS162343465201816211340-0.134.160.18440
TOTAL1625608154333543155826762544932203-57.275.433.34210754

One thing that really jumps out at you about the Expos' offense is its incredible balance. The team leader in homers hit 26, but they managed 209 155 home runs - an average of 26 19 per non-pitching lineup slot. [NOTE: Yes, my arithmetic goofed there somehow, as Travis Nelson has pointed out to me. I'll fix any other arithmetical errors as they come to my attention.] Nobody on this team walked a whole lot - besides Walker with 73, nobody drew more than 54 walks - but everybody drew at least a halfway respectable number of walks and hit for a good enough average to not have a horrid OBP, and nobody struck out 100 times. Everybody could steal a few bases. And everyone hit gobs of doubles. It doesn't look like a terrifying offense, but it was solid all the way through.

Walker and Alou, of course, were the offensive stars, and would go on to distinguished careers elsewhere. The hidden big year here was Grissom, who was dazzling - playing by far the best baseball of his long, erratic career - down the stretch in 1993, batting .353, scoring 34 runs and stealing 24 bases in 25 attempts in 41 games. And, of course, all the way down the depth chart (see more below) you see guys who have had long, productive major league careers.

As you can see, the Expos had an unusually poor-hitting pitching staff; if you break the numbers down (see below), the mainstays of the rotation were especially awful, while guys like Butch Henry, Denis Boucher and the relievers did OK in limited action.

Pitching Stats

PitcherW-LSVERAGGSCGIPHHRBBKRER
Jeff Fassero15-803.0032312207.117617581897969
Ken Hill18-803.6630302196.219215611079280
Pedro Martinez13-513.2026251157.112112501565956
Kirk Rueter12-404.53272701351441531667568
Butch Henry9-512.8234170127.21201224784240
Mel Rojas4-3223.097900110.29613271034638
Gil Heredia9-313.2848701071171020894539
Jeff Shaw6-213.95630086.2881121564238
John Wetteland5-6422.31720085.2555251012422
Tim Scott8-223.12560069.164325572524
Dennis Martinez5-102.538805746516432116
Denis Boucher3-203.8315704748710312320
Gabe White1-116.0875023.224411171616
Chris Nabholz2-000.5962015.17081411
Brian Barnes0-106.001100121708798
TOTAL110-52713.4116216251466.113501334091133623556

What's striking here is that, even for a modern team, this staff never finished its starts. Felipe Alou had a great bullpen (and a deep roster to pinch hit for his helpless-hitting starters), and made extensive use of it. . . Ken Hill and Dennis Martinez went in opposite directions down the stretch in 1993, as Martinez salvaged what had been an awful year, while Hill had the swoon some were expecting again in 1994 when the strike hit . . . Wetteland was incredibly lights-out in 1993, and even moreso the end of the year.

More players:

Read More »


Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:25 AM | Baseball 2004 | Comments (3) | TrackBack (4)
BASEBALL: Dr. Bronx

Dr. Manhattan has a rundown on the Yankees. Check it out.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:55 AM | Baseball 2004 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Zambrano Down

Well, so much for optimism: Victor Zambrano walked off the mound in the second inning with an inflamed elbow, and is listed as day-to-day.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 1:01 AM | Baseball 2004 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
August 17, 2004
POLITICS: Who Is John Hurley?

UPDATE: Not the same guy. A relative? Even so, it kind of moots the point. Consider this item corrected.

So last night, I saw John O'Neill of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth on Joe Scarborough's show, debating John Hurley, national director of "Vietnam Veterans for Kerry." (I missed the same duo on Hardball last week, but it sounds like they did the same routine). Some Kerry supporters may wish to know: who is John Hurley? Well, Hurley is obviously a politically active head of a veterans' group, and he has a pretty thick Boston accent. Which leads me to believe that he is one and the same as John J. "Wacko" Hurley, head of the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council, who successfully fought all the way to the Supreme Court in 1995 to keep a gay group out of the Boston St. Patrick's Day Parade.

Somebody call Media Matters, which tried to discredit the Swift Boat group by dredging up a variety of intemperate and in some cases intolerant quotes by O'Neill's co-author, Jerome Corsi. At least Corsi isn't actually heading a group directly affiliated with the Bush campaign.

(Of course, the merits of keeping gay groups out of the St. Patrick's Day Parade is open to fair debate, depending on one's view of the parade, but what do you think Atrios would say if Hurley was heading a pro-Bush group?)

As for the merits, I gotta say, if this was the first I'd seen of this controversy, I would have started off very skeptical - O'Neill seems so over-the-top in attacking just every bit of Kerry's service record, and his demeanor is very cheesy trial-lawyer. But I was definitely more convinced by the end that O'Neill's charges could have some weight to them. O'Neill just had a whole lot more specifics on his side, and all Hurley could do - besides say he thought O'Neill should be ashamed of himself - was to cite Navy reports that apparently relied on Kerry's own information.

The debate over the circumstances of Kerry's Bronze Star (the rescue of James Rassman) seems particularly stark - Kerry and Rassman say that Kerry came back alone under fire to pull out Rassman, O'Neill cites the captains of several other boats who say Kerry alone fled the scene and came back when the shooting stopped while there were several other boats around pulling other guys out of the water. It's very hard to write this off as a difference in perceptions.

Anyway, I remain open to persuasion on who's right here, and I remain skeptical of how relevant any of this really is to the 2004 campaign. But there's clearly an interesting story here.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:29 PM | Politics 2004 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
August 16, 2004
POLITICS: Not in the Same Boat, Part II

I'm on my way out of town again on business. It turns out that for all the Kerry camp's blather about how (most of) the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth never served on the same boat with John Kerry, one of his vocal "band of brothers" who spoke at the Democratic Convention may not have been either, and may be lying today. I've said for some time that I wasn't interested in exactly what Kerry did to earn medals in Vietnam, but it looks like the swift boat story is gaining some real traction anyway based on problems with the, er, accuracy of Kerry's narrative.

Captain Ed is on this story like a starving man on a sandwich. Go check him out.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:45 AM | Politics 2004 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
August 15, 2004
POLITICS: Sauce, Goose, Gander

So, last week, Louisiana Congressman Rodney Alexander switched parties, to catcalls from Democrats; Alexander chose to time his switch late enough to prevent the Democrats from fielding a viable opponent on November's ballot, a bit of non-beanbaggery that the perennially overwrought Mark Kleiman described as "about the sleaziest, most cowardly thing I've ever heard of a politician doing". Mmmm, short memory there, Professor Kleiman. Kevin Drum also called it "Pretty sleazy".

Well, now New Jersey governor Jim McGreevey has delayed his resignation in disgrace until November 15, to prevent any election at all to fill his job and keep the governorship in (unelected) Democratic hands until 2006. Neither Drum nor Kleiman has had anything to say on this yet - not that it's my place to tell them what to write - but it will be amusing to see if they turn around and defend this sort of chicanery when it helps their side. Hmmmmmmm.

UPDATE:
The Mad Hibernian points me to this Professor Bainbridge post calling Kos on the same point.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:32 AM | Politics 2004 | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: The Mark of Zambrano

Now, I haven't seen Victor Zambrano pitch for the Mets yet. And I continue to believe that they way overpaid for him. And I continue to be skeptical of Rick Peterson's reported boast that he could turn Zambrano around "in 10 minutes."

That being said, I am optimistic about Zambrano's future with the Mets, and his performance in his first two starts (2.92 ERA, 12 K, 5 BB, 10 H, 0 HR and 0 HBP in 12 innings) does nothing to undermine that confidence. Hopefully, Mets fans won't hold against Zambrano the front office's foolishness in dealing for him. And, of coure, people should be patient if he gets shelled in his next start - in Colorado.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:21 AM | Baseball 2004 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
August 13, 2004
POLITICS: The Vietnam Veteran in Nicaragua

While I'm away, I will leave you with this, a wonderful illustration of how Vietnam winds up being at the center of anything John Kerry does, no matter what the issue at hand, and an illustration in particular of the context behind his use of the "Christmas in Cambodia" fable in a 1986 debate on Nicaragua; from a wonderful May 17, 2004 cover story by Jay Nordlinger in National Review on Kerry's Latin America policies dating back to the 1980s, available in full online only to subscribers:

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August 12, 2004
BLOG: On The Road

I'm on the road the next few days, so I won't be catching much baseball and posting will be slim to none.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:38 PM | Blog 2002-05 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Not All In The Same Boat

John Cole demolishes one of the Kerry camp's fraudulent talking points on the swift boat story: that the Swift Boat Vets aren't qualified to speak to Kerry's Vietnam experience because they were not in his boat. I'm left with three possibilities to explain why the Kerry people are relying on such thoroughly bogus arguments, coupled with foolish, bullying threats of lawsuits to stifle a poorly funded ad campaign:

1. The Swift Boat Vets are right.

2. The Kerry people are incompetent fools.

3. The Kerry people have such contempt for the public that they think this will do.

(My money's mostly on #3, but the Swifties have at least scored one apparent hit with the "Christmas in Cambodia" story that Kerry has now backed off from after saying in 1979 - when it should have been fresher in his mind - that it was "seared" in his memory).

And we have to consider who this story is aimed at. To me, John Kerry is still a war hero. But I'm not the Swift Boat Vets' target audience.

Read More »


Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:12 AM | Politics 2004 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
August 11, 2004
BASEBALL: No Boone

I was mildly surprised that nobody took a chance on Bret Boone at the trading deadine, given that it was only last season that Boone was third in the league with 117 RBI, scored 111 runs, won the Gold Glove and finished tenth in the MVP balloting, and given some of the weak-hitting second basemen fielded by contenders: the Twins' Luis Rivas (.247/.399/.274); the Yankees' Miguel Cairo (.286/.418/.332 being way over his career averages of .271/.367/.319); the Angels' Adam Kennedy (.257/.366/.327); the Phillies' Placido Polanco (.277/.385/.340); and the A's' Marco Scutaro (.280/.386/.306). Sure enough, Boone - who averaged .301/.526/.358 with 106 runs and 122 RBI the past three seasons, and who I ranked before the season as the 8th best player in baseball by Established Win Shares (with 29) - is batting .305/.467/.368 since the All-Star Break.

Not that I think Boone is a superstar at this juncture; he's 35, and he had a horrid first half, and frankly I haven't really seen him play this season. I suspect his defense may have deteriorated badly; the Hardball Times' Win Shares numbers (granting that in-season Win Shares are not the best way to evaluate defense) show him with 1.5 defensive Win Shares compared to 4.0 for Rivas, 2.6 for Cairo, 2.9 for Kennedy, 3.2 for Polanco, and 3.9 for Scutaro. Boone's Range Factor and Zone Rating this season are 4.32 and .755, career lows and down from 4.54 and .814 just last season. And frankly, while the other second basemen listed above are all offensive weak links, none but Rivas - possibly the best of the bunch with the glove - has really been horrendous. So maybe it's no surprise that the highly-paid Boone ($8 million salary this season) just couldn't be shopped despite pretty good odds that he'd provide an offensive upgrade for a contending team.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:25 AM | Baseball 2004 | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Direct Hit: Kerry Was Wrong On The Cold War

More on Vietnam another day - for now, this is the link of the day, QandO discussing an op-ed in the LA Times on the real scandal in Kerry's record: how he was wrong on nearly every major foreign policy initiative during and immediately after the Cold War. Key quote:

Many leaders had a hand in Washington's Cold War triumph, but Ronald Reagan's contributions were pivotal, and Kerry opposed every one of them. Reagan's defense buildup disabused Soviet leaders of any hope that they could ultimately come out ahead of the United States. Kerry derided these military expenditures as "bloated" and "without any relevancy to the threat." In particular, Reagan's plan to seek a missile defense system against Soviet ICBMs and NATO's decision to station new missiles in Europe to counteract the new Soviet deployment there rendered futile the Kremlin's vast investment in nuclear supremacy. Instead of these measures, Kerry advocated that we adopt a one-sided "nuclear freeze."

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:53 AM | Politics 2004 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Bush's War Stump Speech

Here's President Bush's current stump speech on the war, which has a pretty good nutshell summary of why it all happened, and a good zinger at Kerry; I highlight some of the points the Administration hasn't really stressed enough in the past:

Before September the 11th, the ruler of Iraq was a sworn enemy of America. He was defying the world. He was firing weapons at American pilots who were enforcing the world's sanctions. He had pursued and he had used weapons of mass destruction. He harbored terrorists. He invaded his neighbors. He subsidized the families of suicide bombers. He murdered tens of thousands of his own citizens. He was the source of great instability in the world's most volatile region.

After September the 11th we looked at all the threats of the world in a new light. One of the lessons of September the 11th is that America must take threats seriously before they fully materialize. (Applause.) We saw a threat. My administration looked at the intelligence and saw a threat. The United States Congress looked at the same intelligence; members of both political parties, including my opponent, looked at the intelligence and came to the same conclusion.

We went to the United Nations, which looked at the intelligence and demanded a full accounting of Saddam Hussein's weapons programs, or face serious consequences. After 12 years of defiance, he again refused to comply. He deceived the weapons inspectors. So I had a choice to make: either forget the lessons of September the 11th and take the word of a madman who hated America, or defend this country. Given that choice, I will defend America. (Applause.)

Even though we did not find the stockpiles that we expected to find, removing Saddam Hussein from power was the right thing to do. (Applause.) Saddam Hussein had the capability to make weapons of mass destruction. And he could have passed that capability on to terrorist enemies. After September the 11th, that was a chance we could not afford to take. And America and the world are safer because Saddam Hussein sits in a prison cell. (Applause.)

And now -- and now, almost two years after he voted for the war in Iraq, and almost 220 days after switching positions to declare himself the anti-war candidate, my opponent has found a new nuance. He now agrees it was the right decision to go into Iraq. After months of questioning my motives and even my credibility, Senator Kerry now agrees with me that even though we have not found the stockpile of weapons we all believe were there, knowing everything we know today, he would have voted to go into Iraq and remove Saddam Hussein from power. I want to thank Senator Kerry for clearing that up. (Applause.)

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:47 AM | Politics 2004 | Comments (12) | TrackBack (0)
August 10, 2004
BASEBALL: Mass Defection

Doesn't the Rev. Moon perform ceremonies like this? (link via Bill Simmons)

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:40 AM | Baseball 2004 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
LAW: Easterbrook

I'm a little late to this particular party (what else is new?), but you owe it to yourself to read Howard Bashman's interview with Seventh Circuit Judge Frank Easterbrook in its entirety (and weep that this man does not sit on the Supreme Court). Don't know how I missed this, but I actually didn't know he was the brother of Gregg Easterbrook, the New Republic writer and Tuesday Morning Quarterback and one of the most entertaining politics/sports writers in the business. But which brother is more entertaining is debatable, as Judge Easterbrook has some great lines here. I'd emphasize that you should read the whole thing; here are some excerpts:

*How can you not be impressed by a guy who says, "I read science journals as well as economics journals and law reviews in my spare time"

*Easterbrook catches Bashman at one of his tricks in this feature: "although the interview is captioned '20 Questions for the Appellate Judge,' you propounded more than 40, with multiple interrogatory sentences per paragraph and compound inquiries per sentence. So a two-to-one ratio must be acceptable."

*On judicial legitimacy:

Judges must explain not only why their views are sound but also why on debatable issues only the judges' views count. Unless the Constitution encodes principles that can be applied using the approach of Marbury v. Madison, then the political resolution must prevail. (I expatiate on this in Abstraction and Authority, 59 U. Chi. L. Rev. 349 (1992).) Justices are fond of saying that all power must be checked, but where is the check on the Supreme Court's? It lies in text, logic, and history.

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Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:33 AM | Law 2002-04 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
August 9, 2004
LAW/POLITICS: Confidential Sources

The US District Court for the District of Columbia today released an opinion (dated July 20, 2004; link opens as PDF file) ordering Tim Russert and Time Magazine reporter Matthew Cooper to disclose information provided to them by confidential sources (presumably, the identities of individuals within the Bush Administration) in the Valerie Plame investigation. (The Washington Post has more here).

UPDATE: Here's the bottom-line order (also a PDF) holding Cooper and Time in contempt but staying the contempt order pending an appeal to the DC Circuit.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 4:41 PM | Law 2002-04 • | Politics 2004 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Walker, St. Louis Cardinal

Watching the Mets get completely dismantled by the Cardinals this weekend was not fun - let the record reflect that just 8 days after trading their best prospect and several other key blue chips to shore up theirn rotation for the 2004 stretch run, the Mets stand 11 games out of first place and 8 1/2 games back (in 9th place) in the wild card race. It's over.

The Cards, meanwhile, had a real strike of genius in acquiring Larry Walker to join Jim Edmonds and . . . well, Jim Edmonds in their outfield. Even for all his injuries and Coors and everything else, Walker is still a formidable offensive threat (.279/.494./.392 on the road the last three years, and .317/.780/.508 in 58 plate appearances on the road this year). For St. Louis, this is the time to go for the jugular, and that's exactly what the Walker acquisition represents.

I'm less clear, at this distance, why Ray Lankford (.258/.425/.353) got his walking papers rather than, say, Reggie Sanders (.252/.476/.297); Brian at Redbird Nation thinks other reserve outfielders, notably So Taguchi, should have been the odd men out.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:57 AM | Baseball 2004 | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)
August 8, 2004
POLITICS: A Swift Confusion

Kevin Drum says the Vietnam vets in the Swift Boat group must be "certifiable lunatics" because Media Matters has assembled a bunch of (admittedly wacky) quotes about the co-author of their book . . . who isn't one of the vets. Josh Marshall (tongue in cheek) says he's starting a "Concerned Vietnam Combat Veterans Whose Service Records Have Been Attacked by Friends of President Bush Even Though President Bush Has Nothing To Do With It and Did His Best to Stop it But Failed" group . . . except, of course, that he doesn't even humorously suggest that any such vets exist.

As I've said before, I think the whole swift boat story is something of a sideshow, and I'm withholding judgment on the credibility of these guys. And yes, as with the Democrats' favorite small subset of 9/11 widows, their credibility needs to be evaluated just like anybody else in politics, no matter how sympathetic (or, in this case, heroic) their own personal stories are. I do have an open mind on this one.

But note to people attacking the vets: discrediting people who assist, finance or run with the story won't do. If you don't have the goods on the men who wore this country's uniform and now want to be heard on what they saw and did in Vietnam, don't dismiss them out of hand.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:59 PM | Politics 2004 | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: More on the Swift Boat Story

Captain Ed has the latest. Read for yourself.

UPDATE: I still think this is a relatively minor story, as are Kerry's and Bush's service records generally, although it's a bigger deal because Kerry's made his four-month tour in Vietnam the centerpiece of his campaign. But one thing that's really clear here from reading the two sides' letters is that the Swift Boat Vets have much better lawyers than the Kerry/Edwards camp does (which is unsurprising if you look at John O'Neill's resume). The Swift Boat Vets' letter is far more detailed and deals directly with the issues, while the Kerry/Edwards letter seems obsessed with non sequiturs like who served on which boat and who filled out particular forms.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:39 AM | Politics 2004 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BLOG: Table Samples

Feel free to ignore this post; I'm posting some sample tables here as a test while I'm working on a larger project.

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Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:41 AM | Blog 2002-05 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
August 7, 2004
POLITICS: Another Satisfied Customer

Democrats who cheered the courage of Jim Jeffords call Louisiana Congressman Rodney Alexander a "coward" and a "turncoat" for switching parties to become a Republican. Of course, both sides cheer switchers to their side and hiss those who go the other way, although Republicans are more apt simply to trumpet switches as a sign of the strength of the party and its ideas, rather than as some great profile in courage (although many big GOP stars have switched from the Democratic side at some point, including Reagan, Phil Gramm, Bill Bennett, Jean Kirkpatrick, and many others).

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:59 PM | Politics 2004 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Ichiro On Fire

This is just amazing: Ichiro is now batting .481 (51/106) since the All-Star Break, and is running a career-best .398 OBP. Perhaps equally interesting is the persistence of a huge home-road split, especially as far as hitting for power: .367/.473/.407 on the road, compared to .344/.394/389 at SafeCo.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 1:59 PM | Baseball 2004 | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Don't Go There

One of the stupidest memes I've heard from the Left in a very long time - and that's saying quite a lot - is detailed here:

I'm waiting on the transcript, but a moment ago Donna Brazille killed the "John Kerry was an indistinguished as a Senator" meme.

In the "rapid fire" section of Crossfire she said the following to a Republican Strategist...

"Dick Cheney was in the house for over a decade. How many bills did he pass?"

The Republican Strategist paused, looked physically ill, then tried to change the subject by saying "Well, he was aknowledged as a leader."

There was laughter in the crowd.

But Brazille didn't let him go. She leaned forward and very calmly told the truth.

"2 bills".

2 bills for Cheney. 57 for Kerry.

I generally figure Brazile would be smarter than this - this is just an incredibly idiotic comparison. First of all, Kerry's been in the Senate twice as long as Cheney was in the House - but Cheney, unlike Kerry, came to the Vice Presidency with qualifications well beyond his Congressional record. Cheney had already been White House Chief of Staff in the Ford Administration (he was Don Rumsfeld's deputy during the traumatic conclusion to the Vietnam War and had worked in the Nixon and Ford White Houses since 1969) and Secretary of Defense during the first Gulf War and the end of the Cold War. He also, of course, headed a large corporation in the 1990s. He was clearly a much more consequential figure than Kerry in numerous ways, a recognized power broker in GOP politics and national security policy.

To review: there are basically four major ways to have an impact in Congress:

1. Get in the leadership. This is the true path to power. Dole, Daschle, Frist, George Mitchell . . . these guys were all impact players on a huge range of legislation without getting their names on them. How many bills did Tip O'Neill sponsor? Dick Cheney quickly got into the leadership:

After just one term in the House, Congressman Cheney was elected Chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee. By the time he left Congress, in his sixth term, he had been elected House Minority Whip—the second ranking House Republican Leader.

Cheney was happy and effective in his 10 years as a Congressman, and he rose to be the second-ranking Republican in the House, with a real chance of one day becoming Speaker. But when President Bush in 1989 asked him to be Secretary of Defense instead, he leaped at the offer.

Kerry, by contrast, never got close. This is a guy whose big theme is that he'll build alliances, and he never even managed to get his fellow Democratic Senators to follow him anywhere.

2. Sponsor bills. Neither Kerry nor Cheney did much of this.

3. Be a high-profile advocate on particular issues - McCain on campaign finance, Kemp on tax cuts, Nunn and Lugar on defense, Kennedy on health care. Even if they hadn't had their names on bills, those guys would be impact players. Neither Kerry nor Cheney did much of this.

4. Be a high-impact committee chairman. Kerry never has. Cheney, of course, was never in the majority, so he didn't have the chance.

Which brings us to another distinction - Cheney spent his years as one of the leaders of the minority in a chamber where the minority has little clout. By definition, members of the minority party in the House don't accomplish much, especially the way the Democrats ran the House in those years. When he's had opportunities to exercise more influence, as he has now in three Republican administrations (he was a lower-level Executive Branch guy in the Nixon years), he's been a major, major impact player. Kerry, by contrast, has been in the Senate - where the minority has more power - and has spent about half of his two decades there in the majority party, while leaving barely a trace and never really getting out front on any issue (c'mon, give me examples of causes where Kerry took a visible public position and fought for it without ducking for cover).

(Pejman has more in a similar vein; thanks to Pej for the link to Kos)

Of course, Kerry's Senate record does look distinguished . . . compared to Edwards.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:18 PM | Politics 2004 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
LAW: "Bombshell"?

Stuart Buck properly slams this Legal Times article for calling it a "bombshell" that a new biography reveals that Clarence Thomas doesn't believe in stare decisis in constitutional cases, something that should have been well-known to any reader of his opinions. I rather think the author of the article overstates the case as well in calling stare decisis in constitutional cases "the key principle of our society's rule of law."

Interestingly, the book under discussion also sides with Thomas (at least partially) in the famous sexual harassment charge:

Near the end of the section on Thomas' confirmation crisis, Foskett makes a bold statement: He believes Thomas.

"In the end Thomas and Hill remained the only two people who knew what transpired between them, and each told a different story," Foskett writes, noting that the two had a social relationship of some form before they worked together. "Although it was plausible that Thomas said what Hill alleged, it seemed implausible that he said it all in the manner Hill described.

"Bullying a woman wasn't in Thomas's nature and ran contrary to how he conducted himself around others in a professional environment. And if the context wasn't as Hill alleged, was it fair to turn private conduct into a political weapon to defeat his nomination?" Foskett asks.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:58 AM | Law 2002-04 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Fire From The Left

Barking moonbat warning: a left-wing fimmaker blasts ultraliberal Florida Congressman Peter Deutsch, now running for Senate, for this egregious offense:

Florida Sentate candidate Peter Deutsch (D) called George W. Bush a “Legitimate President,” contradicting Michael Moore.

[snip]

U. S. Senate candidate Peter Deutsch is far from being the man who will stand up for Floridians, says award-winning documentary filmmaker, Jeannine Ross. "In our film about the 2000 election called "Florida Fights Back, Resisting The Stolen Election," I confronted Peter Deutsch in April of 2001 at a town hall meeting about why the Democrats were not asking for a federal investigation of the election that had happened only a few months prior. To my shock and surprise Deutsch, this 'man of courage,' said 'on a personal basis, I consider George W. Bush a Legitimate President.' He admitted that voting fraud happened in Florida in 2000 (i.e. the felons list, etc) but dismissed it nonchalantly by saying 'what happened, happened' and 'life goes on.' Deutsch made these comments only 2 weeks after receiving a $25,000 fundraiser from influential Republicans in Miami. "The voters in Florida don't know this other side of Deutsch," says Ross. "You need to see it to believe it."

I guess you do. You can go here and see video of Deutsch take this appalling position . . .

In other news, the Wall Street Journal's Political Diary noted on Thursday that he's in a spitting match with EMILY's list, calling them "anti-male." I'm starting to feel pretty good about the GOP's chances of taking that Florida Senate seat, I tell you.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:52 AM | Politics 2004 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Send Me Where?

Spinsanity, hardly a Bush-friendly source, calls the Democrats on exaggerating the extent to which John Kerry chose to go into combat in Vietnam.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:45 AM | Politics 2004 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Rare Ferdie Schupp Sighting

Over at Aaron's Baseball Blog, where Joe Nathan is compared to Schupp's 1916 season (more here on the 1916 Giants).

Posted by Baseball Crank at 1:10 AM | Baseball 2004 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BLOG: Fishy

Very fishy.

Via Dave Barry

Posted by Baseball Crank at 1:06 AM | Blog 2002-05 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
August 6, 2004
POLITICS: No Flop

Richard Cohen trots out one of the Democrats' typical efforts to obfuscate John Kerry's allergy to principled positions by turning the "flip flop" charge against President Bush. Right off the bat, of course, Cohen gives away the game:

In supposed contrast to Kerry, Bush presents himself as the immutable politician, a man of fixed, firm beliefs who sticks to them not because they are popular but because they are right -- despite all evidence or reason. This is certainly the case when it comes to his core beliefs. His devotion to minimal taxes on the rich, for instance, is touching, but it has put the government in such debt that it will take our children's children to pay it off. By then, Bush imagines, his visage will be on Mount Rushmore.

Quick: name Kerry's core beliefs he will stick to come Hell or high water. But don't hold your breath while you are thinking.

OK, but moving beyond that, Let's run down his list and see how many actual flip flops we have:

As a presidential candidate, he declared himself implacably opposed to nation-building. Now we are engaged in building Iraq and Afghanistan. In Iraq, the cost has been not merely a ton of money, as it was in Haiti and other places Bush said he wouldn't go, but nearly a thousand American lives lost and countless more ruined. Mind you, with weapons of mass destruction all but declared a mirage in the desert, the new -- and sole -- justification for the war is not anything approaching self-defense but getting rid of Saddam Hussein and his regime. This is nation-replacement and nation-building, a total rehab project.

Nice try; Bush opposed nation-building for its own sake - not as a necessary aftermath to a victorious war. As I've argued repeatedly, this has nothing to do with the Iraq and Afghan wars, in which the cause was national security and the mission was and is victory. Cohen has to ignore the Administration's own beliefs - and, pointedly, ignore September 11 - to turn this into a flip-flop. Not an auspicious start.

Bush also declared himself a determined unilateralist, kissing off treaties and understandings and even spurning NATO's help in Afghanistan. Now, though, the unilateralist of old is sending Colin Powell around the world, seeking alms and arms for Iraq. Flip-flop.

When did Bush ever say he wanted to act unilaterally? Let's review: before the Iraq war, Bush asked a bunch of nations to help; some of them responded, some didn't. After the war, he asked again. Other than the refusal to let the absence of some coalition partners deep-six the whole enterprise, the only unilateralism Cohen can cite is the fact that Bush didn't want U.S. military operations in Afghanistan hampered by the need to run all targets and missions through the multilateral bureaucracy that was such an operational nightmare in Kosovo.

Bush would not negotiate with North Korea. He did. Flip-flop.

Um, no. Bush would not negotiate unilaterally with North Korea, where the U.S. goal has been to involve the neighbors. When the North Koreans agreed, after much bellyaching, negotiations commenced. That's called a victory, not a flip-flop.

Bush told the United Nations to butt out of Iraq. Now he wants it in. Flip-flop.

We covered this one already; Bush always wanted their help.

The president opposed creating the Department of Homeland Security. Soon after, his strong opposition apparently slipped his mind and he flip-flopped his way to an embrace.

Here, we've at least got a change in tune, but it's more of a tactical retreat than anything; Bush realized he couldn't resist the formation of a department and could accomplish a lot (policy-wise and politically) by pressing for one that met his requirements. In the end, this boils down to cagey tactics, not a flip-flop.

Bush later opposed the creation of the Sept. 11 commission, but now he cannot thank it enough. He did not want his chief aides -- Condoleezza Rice, for instance -- to testify publicly before it but relented in the face of popular opposition. Flip-flop. He himself would not testify for all sorts of hallowed constitutional reasons and then, of course, did. Flip-flop.

Again, Bush bowed to reality and has sought to make the best of the situation. And frankly, it's not like these inside-the-Beltway "what sort of commission shall it be" controversies are anything like issues of war and peace or positions on issues of continuing importance.

He insisted, though, on taking Dick Cheney with him, the functional equivalent of bringing the textbook to the exam -- not exactly a flip-flop, I grant you, but such a blatant admission of ineptitude that I am moved to include it nonetheless. Look, it's my column.

I choose to ignore this. Look, it's my blog.

Finally, of course, we get Bush's recent call for the creation of the post of national intelligence director, a position he once opposed.

As usual, people on the Left are complaining that Bush changed his tune so he could co-opt the momentum and turn it to his advantage. That's smart tactics, not a change in principles. Nobody ever said politicians can't compromise to advance their agendas.

This prompted James P. Rubin, a Kerry adviser, to ask, "Why did President Bush flip-flop?"

OK, that's an impartial source. You win. . . Next up: the Center for American Progress.

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Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:35 PM | Politics 2004 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: The Camera Doesn't Love Him

Outta My Way!

Longer collection here

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:39 PM | Politics 2004 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: IMAO

The Completely Insane Frank J. is on a roll.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:36 PM | Politics 2004 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
LAW: Closing Argument

This one's for all the lawyers out there - c'mon, admit it, you've always wanted to do a closing argument like this. (Link via Dave Barry).

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:34 PM | Law 2002-04 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
August 5, 2004
POLITICS: We're From The Government, And We're Here, To, Um . . .

Irving Kristol once remarked that "A liberal is one who says that it's all right for an 18-year-old girl to perform in a pornographic movie as long as she gets paid the minimum wage." I think he meant this as a joke. But New Zealand is out to prove him right; the government went and legalized prostitution . . . only to subject it to the sort of OSHA regulations that govern - and burden - legitimate enterprises:

The recommendations - which the New Zealand Herald said will also be distributed to brothels and sex workers - include detailed advice on safe sex practices such as the storage and handling of sex toys and disinfecting equipment.

Employers are asked to ensure condoms in a variety of shapes and sizes are always available, and to provide beds that support the back for a variety of services to be performed without strain or discomfort.

Sex workers are cautioned to watch out for occupational overuse syndrome, often caused by rapid repetitive tasks or forceful movements, and to carry a small torch in case they need to check clients for sexually transmitted diseases.

1. I swear I'm not making this up.

2. Lest you get too alarmed, "torch" means flashlight. I hope. Ouch!

3. I may have to nominate "occupational overuse syndrome" for "best euphamism ever.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:53 PM | Politics 2004 | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
LAW: Great Moments in Automated Messages

SarahK (a/k/a the official IMAO T-Shirt Babe), upon loading an automated sexual harrassment training program on her office computer, received the following welcome message:

"Welcome to the Sexual Harassment Setup Program. This program will install Sexual Harassment on your computer."

Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:43 PM | Law 2002-04 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASKETBALL: Wheelin' and Dealin'

If you missed it, just heard on WFAN that the Knicks completed a trade today:

New York Knickerbockers President, Basketball Operations Isiah Thomas announced today that restricted free agent guard Jamal Crawford has been acquired in a sign-and-trade deal, with the addition of forward Jerome Williams, from the Chicago Bulls in exchange for forward Othella Harrington, guard Frank Williams, and centers Dikembe Mutombo and Cezary Trybanski.

I will not expose the current state of my basketball ignorance by attempting to analyze this, except to note that the facts that (1) the Knicks are getting thinner and thinner in the middle and (2) Crawford's career shooting percentage of .397 does not bode well for a change in offensive philosophy away from "move slowly and miss a lot of shots".

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:46 PM | Basketball | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Trivia Question of the Day

Since 1911, 11 pitchers have won 25 or more games in a season (some of them more than once) while starting less than 35 games. Most of these are familiar names - seven are Hall of Famers, and three of the others played for multiple World Championship teams.

Click here for the answer.

Bonus question: Name the pitcher who holds the record for fewest starts in a season by a 20-game winner. Answer at the top of the page here. Hint: He's also the only man to win 20 games while throwing fewer than 200 innings. Another hint:

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Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:35 PM | Baseball 2004 | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
BLOG: Pop Quiz

Seen in various places, most recently Ricky West:

1. WHAT COLOR ARE YOUR BEDROOM WALLS? Without looking? Probably white. I don't stare at the walls much.

2. WHAT BOOK ARE YOU READING NOW? I tend to bounce around between books. Books I just finished the last few weeks: Babe Ruth and the 1918 Red Sox, by Allan Wood; Fresh Lies, by James Lileks; Things Happen for a Reason, by Terry Leach. Books I'm actively reading: The Neyer/James Guide to Pitchers, by Rob Neyer and Bill James; The Connection, by Steven Hayes; re-reading Give War a Chance, by PJ O'Rourke. Books I'm in the middle of and intend to get back to at some point: My Life in Baseball, by Robin Roberts; The Two Faces of Islam, by Steven Schwartz; Men at Work, by George Will; After, by Stephen Brill; The Seekers, by Daniel Boorstin. I'm also reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire to my son.

3. WHAT'S ON YOUR MOUSE PAD? Picture of my son at about five months old, sitting up next to a teddy bear that's about his size.

4. FAVORITE BOARD GAME? Monopoly. We play it a lot with the kids. My son has a disastrous obsession with the most expensive properties; my daughter just likes to buy the light blue set and put up hotels.

5. FAVORITE MAGAZINE? National Review. I cancelled my SI subscription; I never found a weekly magazine a good format to read about baseball.

6. FAVORITE SMELL? Probably the smell of McDonald's french fries or Dunkin Donuts, the smells they pipe out to suck you in.

7. FAVORITE COLOR? Green. When you have kids, you need to be able to answer this question. Also fond of purple; this blog's purple and white layout is my school colors from college (Holy Cross).

8. LEAST FAVORITE COLOR? The color of the building across from my office that I have to look at out my window - it's an awful 70s yellowish brick.

9. HOW MANY RINGS BEFORE YOUR ANSWERING MACHINE PICKS UP? Four.

10. MOST IMPORTANT MATERIAL THING IN MY LIFE? Photo albums. I used to take tons of pictures.

11. FAVORITE FLAVOR OF ICE CREAM? Vanilla, preferably with chocolate chips or in one of those chocolate chip cookie sandwich thingies. But ice cream is one of those things I like but mostly avoid (like donuts) because it's just not quite good enough to justify the nutritional issues.

12. DO YOU BREAK THE SPEED LIMIT DAILY? I don't like to walk slow or drive fast. I mostly just drive a mile or so to the train station, but I do probably slightly exceed the speed limit heading there.

13. DO YOU HAVE A STUFFED ANIMAL IN YOUR ROOM SOMEWHERE? My wife does - a dog, it was the first gift I bought her, long before we were dating.

14. STORMS - COOL OR SCARY? If I'm in the house? Cool. But I'm afraid of lightning when I'm outside, and I hate driving in rain..

15. FAVORITE DRINK? I basically live on orange juice, coffee, Coke, and red wine (in that chronological order). Each has its charms.

16. WHEN IS YOUR BIRTHDAY? October 13. Anniversary of Mazeroski's homer.

17. FAVORITE VEGETABLES? Broccoli. Yes, broccoli.

18. IF YOU COULD HAVE ANY JOB, WHAT WOULD IT BE? Fantasies? Owner/GM of the Mets. President. Closer to reality? Federal judge. Professional blogger. If I had a professional blogging gig, I'd just never run out of stuff to write about.

19. IF YOU COULD HAVE ANY COLOR HAIR, WHAT WOULD IT BE? I'm past 30, so I'm just happy to have hair.

20. HAVE YOU EVER BEEN IN LOVE? Met my wife August 20, 1989 - we were both 17, and she was literally the first person I met in college (it was an incoming-freshman event the week before school started). I was in love at first sight, but it took me four years to get her to go out with me. We were married almost six years to the day after we met.

21. TOP THREE FAVORITE MOVIES (IN ORDER)? Star Wars, of course. The Untouchables. Too hard to pick a third.

22. DO YOU TYPE WITH YOUR FINGERS ON THE RIGHT KEYS? I'm a two-finger typist. I type very quickly for using just two fingers, but my mom's efforts to teach me to type properly never took.

23. WHAT'S UNDER YOUR BED? Drawers.

24. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE NUMBER? 13. Hey, if your birthday's on the 13th, you make a virtue of it.

25. FAVORITE SPORT TO WATCH ON TV & IN PERSON? Baseball, of course; specifically, postseason baseball. Although the sport that's most improved in person vs. on TV is hockey.

26. WHAT IS YOUR SINGLE BIGGEST FEAR? Heart attack, stroke, any kind of sudden death. Drowning as a result of a terrorist attack causing an explosion in the Queens Midtown Tunnel or a LIRR or subway tunnel is way up there, though.

27. FAVORITE CD OF ALL TIME & RIGHT NOW? Born in the USA. Lately, I've listened to a lot of the Saw Doctors Live from Galway.

28. FAVORITE TV SHOW OF ALL TIME & RIGHT NOW? Besides baseball? Probably Seinfeld, unless you count the Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour. Right now? The Sopranos isn't on again for a few years, so maybe The Daily Show, Monk or one of the Law & Order shows.

29. HAMBURGERS OR HOT DOGS? Burgers, although it was hot dogs for many years. Ah, maturity.

30. THE COOLEST PLACES YOU'VE EVER BEEN? Congress, for the State of the Union Address in 1992. The Hall of Fame for the 1982 Induction Weekend ceremonies. The Supreme Court, to meet Clarence Thomas.

31. WHAT WALLPAPER AND/OR SCREENSAVER IS ON YOUR COMPUTER RIGHT NOW? Picture of the kids with our nephews.

32. DOES MCDONALD'S SKIMP ON YOUR FRIES & DO YOU CARE? No, but I don't eat there much.

33. FAVORITE CHAIN RESTAURANT? Pizzeria Uno. My wife and I should own stock.

34. IF YOU HAVE A BOY (OR HAVE ANOTHER BOY) WHAT WOULD YOU NAME HIM? My son's named after his grandfathers, who conveniently share the same name. If we have another, I will make more futile efforts to get "Ronald" as a middle name in honor of the 40th president, but don't bank on it. Maybe Patrick.

35. IF YOU COULD LEARN TO PLAY ONE INSTRUMENT OVERNIGHT, WHAT WOULD IT BE? Electric guitar . . . More realistically, I'd really like to be able to play the harmonica.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:19 AM | Blog 2002-05 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: More Links 8/5/04

*Taxation without representation: the Commons Blog notes that the UN is preparing to propose, next month, taxes - yes, UN taxes - on various international transactions to raise money for international development and UN-run anti-poverty programs. I was sure these guys had misread this story, but when you click the links it turns out to be for real. I'll give you three guesses which world leader is the major proponent of this, and the first two don't count (hint: first name "Jacques").

*Stuart Buck drills Kerry with still more examples of Kerry - contrary to his cynical convention blather about "Saying there are weapons of mass destruction in Iraq doesn't make it so" - himself saying that it was so. My favorite, from January 2003:

If you don't believe in the U.N. ... or you don't believe Saddam Hussein is a threat with nuclear weapons, then you shouldn't vote for me.

As I've said before, Kerry's use of that line in the convention speech can only be read as the work of a man with complete confidence that nobody will call him on what he said before.

*Doc Weevil notes the oddity of accusing Republicans of being "un-Pennsylvanian."

*Professor Bainbridge compares Kerry's liberalism to Paul Wellstone's. (link via Instapundit). Chris Lawrence disagrees. For the record, here's how the Almanac of American Politics breaks out Kerry's 2001 and 2002 record, via National Journal rankings:

Issue Area2001 Liberal2001 Conservative2002 Liberal2002 Conservative
Economic Policy930950
Social818820
Foreign Policy74147326

As usual, Kerry's supporters have been busy trying to say what he isn't rather than what he is, but any way you slice it, that's a pretty liberal record.

*Another blogger who will be at the Republican Convention (link via Instapundit).

*I saw Bill Clinton on Letterman Tuesday night - Dave gave him an uninterrupted platform to stump for Kerry. He made one semi-good point that was self-serving and not in Kerry's interest (surprise!) by defending the CIA by saying that the CIA found itself by the early 90s staffed with people with the training, looks, language skills and outlook to infiltrate the Warsaw Pact, and it takes time to train a whole new crop of people to infiltrate Middle Eastern terror groups (15 years? I'm skeptical that it should have taken that long. But he's partly right).

*A scathing review of "The Day After Tomorrow" by a paleoclimatologist (link via Dean Esmay).

*George W., man of the (Iraqi) people? (link via Chrenkoff).

*Laurence Simon has a semi-humorous set of arguments in favor of gay marriage.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:51 AM | Politics 2004 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Fun With Kerry

Happy Fun Pundit had some hilarious captions to the "clean suit" photo (link via Vodkapundit). The elephant one damn near killed me. Protein Wisdom has some fun with a more recent shot. It's amazing how Kerry succeeds in making Bush and Cheney look like regular "just folks" by comparison.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:27 AM | Politics 2004 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Playing Rough

Personally, I'm not that eager to go after John Kerry's Vietnam service, since that's the only issue he wants to talk about. But, of course, if he wants to run on Vietnam, he has to take the good with the bad. Polipundit links to this video from the "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth," featuring a group of officers who served alongside Kerry in Vietnam and blast his integrity and his conduct upon returning home from the war. Very hard-hitting stuff. Say what you will about the relevance of some of these charges to the election - I'm skeptical of whether it matters how severely Kerry was injured when people were, after all, shooting at him - but these guys have unquestionably earned the right to question every aspect of Kerry's service.

Some on the Left have attacked the swift boat group because some of its members are Republican activists in long standing, but my sense is that - whether you give their accounts credence or not - these guys are acting on motives that run far deeper than partisan politics. By and large, these are guys who felt betrayed by Kerry in 1971 when he gave his now-infamous speech to the Senate - which ran as the lead story on all three network newscasts that night and was the foundation of his political career - accusing his fellow Vietnam vets of "war crimes committed in Southeast Asia, not isolated incidents but crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command." It should not be surprising that some of the men he slandered then have not forgiven or forgotten.

UPDATE: Unsurprisingly, John McCain blasts the Swift Boat Vets ad (although the Swifties get the benefit of having their ad available on MSNBC). For the record, as I've said before, I don't think the nitty-gritty details of Kerry's service record should be an issue, try as Kerry may to make it the only issue. Nor do I hold against him the simple fact that he opposed the war on his return. On the other hand, how Kerry conducted himself and the things he said when he returned from Vietnam - including the 1971 testimony that fed directly into his 1972 campaign for Congress - is very much a part of his political career and entirely fair game, and he shouldn't act surprised that so many vets despise him for it.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:22 AM | Politics 2004 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
August 4, 2004
BLOG: Daly Move

Update your bookmarks: Electoral College Breakdown and Dales' Blog have moved.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:09 AM | Blog 2002-05 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Stinks Like Old Fish

You know, the Dodgers have gotten a lot of entirely undeserved grief for Paul DePodesta's imitation of the 1987 Giants, turning over a big chunk of the roster and dealing popular team leader Paul LoDuca. But even if you buy into the idea that "chemistry" is too fragile a thing to mess with, how can you possibly argue that the Marlins made a good deal by dumping Brad Penny and Hee Seop Choi for LoDuca, Juan Encarnacion and Guillermo Mota? I mean, LoDuca could win the Nobel Prize for Chemistry, and that still doesn't even the scales with Penny, who after all won two brilliantly pitched games against the Yankees in the World Series last year.

More seriously, what the heck were the Fish thinking? LoDuca is indeed having a fine year, batting .308/.460/.360, compared to career averages of .287/.430/.342, but he's notorious for wearing out in the second half (not a characteristic usually associated with team leaders on successful teams), and at 32 he's unlikely to change that pattern. Hee Seop Choi, by comparison, is just 25, already batting .270/.495/.388, and only likely to improve. (It's true he's had the advantage of platooning thus far this season). Encarnacion, of course, is likely to be no help at all with the bat (.235/.415/.290), while Penny was the team's second-best pitcher this season (3.15 ERA, 105/39 K/BB ratio), is only 26, and is still learning how to harness his Grade A fastball.

The only way to make sense of the deal is to look at Florida's desperate situation at catcher, where Mike Redmond and Josh Willingham have both been offensive and defensive busts. But that still makes this a panic trade; you don't give up young stars like Penny and Choi to fill a single hole with an unspectacular 32-year-old. Fools.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:06 AM | Baseball 2004 | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Avkash Goes Ballistic

I finally got around to adding the marvelous Mets blog The Raindrops to my blogroll, and here's a good reason why (via Always Amazin) - Avkash, who follows the Mets minor league system much more closely than I do, tears into Mets management over the Benson and Zambrano deals.

Baseball Primer has the appropriate response.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:44 AM | Baseball 2004 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)
August 3, 2004
BASEBALL: Voice of the Mets, Rest in Peace

Bob Murphy has died, at age 79, just about a year after announcing his retirement after 42 years as the voice of the Mets. Murphy had apparently been battling lung cancer. You can read my "happy recap" of Murphy's broadcasting career, on the occasion of his retirement, here. He was a fine man and a terrific broadcaster, and will be missed.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:08 PM | Baseball 2004 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (1)
BLOG: Welcome Back!

Dr. Manhattan is blogging again, and has an explanation for his hiatus. Prayers and best wishes to his family in dealing with this situation; there's just nothing worse than having something happen to a child.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:12 AM | Blog 2002-05 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: All You Need Is Glove?

I don't have the quote handy, but Bill James has told interviewers in recent months that the Red Sox have their own, proprietary defensive statistics that show some pretty impressive things. I kept thinking of that, as the Sawx traded Nomaaahhh for two guys - Orlando Cabrera and Doug Mientkiewicz - who have made particularly large impressions with the glove. Do the Sox know something the rest of us don't about the size of the impact of these players? (The fact that the A's have similarly been stocking up on glove men the past few years suggests that there may be something up here as far as non-public evaluations of defensive value).

Second James quote that comes to mind is his defense of the Ted Simmons trade upon Whitey Herzog's arrival in St. Louis, on the grounds that (1) the team wasn't winning with Simmons anyway and (2) Whitey's willingness to deal Simmons after Simmons refused to play third base was necessary to establish who was in charge. Lesson: yes, sometimes the manager's need to motivate the players really is a legitimate factor in making a deal.

This brings us to the competing interpretations of the Nomar trade: is this a disastrous abandonment of a win-now Sox team? Is this, like the Cardinals trading Simmons, importing Darrel Porter, and dealing Garry Templeton for Ozzie Smith, part of a needed restructuring in which declining properties (who lack plate patience) are shipped out and more defensive-oriented players brought in?

Joe Sheehan argues, persuasively, that Mientkiewicz was basically available for free, having lost his job to Justin Morneau, so effectively the Sox traded Nomar for the inferior (.298 OBP this season ) Cabrera. Bill Simmons counters that every team in the league had scouts watching Nomar, and given his poor defensive play and attitude, the deal the Sox got was probably all they could get for a declining Nomar in his walk year. Bill is probably right: the real issue is, if this is the best deal you can get, and Nomar's hitting well and you're contending for the Wild Card, do you make a deal at all?

Simmons:

Boston needed to trade him, especially after that jarring game in Yankee Stadium when Jeter crashed into the stands as Nomar sulked on the bench across the field . . . You can't have someone that unhappy in the clubhouse. You just can't. And when he screwed them over in Minnesota this weekend -- according to multiple reports -- telling the Sox that his aching achilles needed more rest (and possibly another stint on the DL), then pulled a complete 180 and told the Cubs that he was fine ... I mean, he needed to go. At that point, you're talking about a fire sale. Which is exactly what happened. The Red Sox were so desperate to dump him, they ended up overpaying to send him out of town.

Sheehan: "Chemistry is a three-game winning streak."

Again: they're both right here, to some extent; I don't much believe in "chemistry," but then there really is such a thing as a guy who's so miserable and insubordinate that you need to ship him out and stick with people who actually want to win some ballgames. I'm afraid I'm not close enough to the Sox to judge.

Still, the deal-breaker is exactly how much the Sox stand to gain from Cabrera's and Minky's defense. Entering this year, owing in large part to Nomar's injuries but also their defense, my Established Win Shares system rated Nomar only slightly ahead, with 22 EWSL to Cabrera's and Minky's 19 apiece. Of course, that doesn't account for the fact that Win Shares is biased towards players who are close to replacement level but get a lot of playing time. This season, Nomar has 6 Win Shares (2 above an average player with his playing time), while Cabrera has 7 and Minky has 4, but 4 each below average - not a flattering picture. So it's hard to get a good feeling about this deal on the Win Shares ledger, though Cabrera gets 4.5 defensive WS to Nomar's 0.8 - even with the difference in playing time, that's something.

Step back, though: Sheehan contends that the Red Sox staff is so flyball- and strikeout-dominated that infield defense won't make much of a dent. The Hardball Times' Fielding Independent Pitching numbers - which seek to project a pitcher's ERA as if he had an average defense behind him - seem to bear that out: other than Derek Lowe, none of the Sox major pitchers has a significantly worse FIP than his actual ERA (San Pedro de Fenway is trailing a bit, 4.15 to 3.96, but it's not a large difference). However, the splits widen when you compare Runs Allowed as opposed to ERA:

PitcherIPRAFIP+/-GB/IP
Schilling145.23.583.15+0.431.26
Martinez136.24.353.96+0.391.19
Lowe1177.464.83+2.632.31
Wakefield116.25.014.63+0.381.59
Arroyo110.25.634.32+1.311.27
Foulke53.22.183.46-1.281.06
Timlin53.13.713.67+0.041.59
Embree37.25.264.54+0.721.22
TOTAL771.14.814.07+0.741.46

I know FIP is supposed to approximate ERA, not RA, but 0.74 runs/game seems like a big deal for your top 8 pitchers . . . it comes to something like 63 runs. And while I don't have the numbers to compare here, 1.46 ground balls per inning pitched seems like plenty of opportunities for the infield defense to make a difference. If nothing else, the Red Sox have a lot invested in Derek Lowe - and might some day in the future want to have the option of adding other pitchers who get a lot of ground balls - and with their defense as it was, that was a lost cause.

I'm running low on time here, so I'll just say: no, I don't think this deal really helps the Sox, but given the financial realities, the fact that they're not going to catch the Yankees in the regular season and the fact that there's a good case that this team needed to upgrade its defense, I'm not going to rip the Sox for taking a bad situation, identifying a way in which their team needed to be upgraded, and executing a strategy that is aimed directly at the problem.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:30 AM | Baseball 2004 | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: 8/3/04 Links

*Kerry wants to send nuclear fuel to Iran. Seriously. I wish I was kidding. Next thing you know, he'll be kissing Brezhnev . . .

*Neal Boortz:

I'm betting that an impartial observer of the November 2nd election will be able to tell you who won our presidential election merely by watching the video -- no audio -- only the video of any of several Arabic television stations or news channels. Just watch the people in the streets of Tehran, Cairo or Damascus. If they're shouting, celebrating and shooting their AK-47s into the air, you'll know that Kerry won. If there are long faces in the capitols of the sponsors of terrorism, you can get ready for another four years of George W. Bush.

Link via Vodkapundit's chaser, Will Collier.

*Stryker takes issue with Hugh Hewitt's contention that the military votes heavily Republican, and criticizes the Marines who told reporters that they were against Kerry.

*Mark Steyn:

Last year, I was at a Kerry campaign stop in New Hampshire chatting with two old coots in plaid. The Senator approached and stopped in front of us. The etiquette in primary season is that the candidate defers to the cranky Granite Stater's churlish indifference to status and initiates the conversation: "Hi, I'm John Kerry. Good to see ya. Cold enough for ya?" Etc. But Kerry just stood there nose to nose, staring at us with a semi-glare on his face. After an eternity, an aide stepped out from behind him and said, "The Senator needs you to move."

"Well, why couldn't he have said that?" muttered one of the old coots, as Kerry swept past us.

That's how I felt after the Convention: all week Senators Biden, Lieberman and Edwards made the case that the Democrats were credible on national security. Why couldn't Kerry have said that?

Because in the end he's running for President because he feels he ought to be President. That's his message to George W Bush: "The Senator needs you to move." And even then everyone else says it better.

Read the whole thing.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:45 AM | Politics 2004 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
August 1, 2004
POLITICS: To Trade And Not To Trade

Matt Welch just drills Kerry and Edwards for their straddle on free trade, noting this quote from senior Kerry economic advisor Laura Tyson:

Recognize that what might be said in one primary … is not an indicator of the future…. [What’s important] is Sen. Kerry's very courageous, very consistent, very long-term record on trade and global economic integration…. [He has shown] courage in this direction because a significant part of my party's base is a voice of concern about trade … and is consistently asking for policies that would take the U.S. backwards. […]

I want to assure you that a Kerry-Edwards administration will continue in the great American tradition of leading the way on global economic integration.

As Welch puts it,

It’s always refreshing to hear a senior campaign adviser tell you that her boss is a pandering bulls***ter. But this has been a Democratic talking point for more than two months . . .

Read the whole thing; this was before Kerry's "fair trade" and anti-outsourcing language in his convention speech. The soft-spoken promise that Kerry doesn't mean what he shouts from the rafters is reminiscent of this.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 1:13 PM | Politics 2004 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Kerry Speech Blog Roundup

*Tom Maguire agrees with me that Kerry failed to address the critical questions in the war on terror - who we are fighting and whether he would have gone to war in Iraq. (Maguire also notes, of Kerry's "the United States of America never goes to war because we want to, we only go to war because we have to" line: "Why we had to go to war in Kosovo remains a mystery, but this has been a Kerry line for over a year.") Kerry supporter Matt Yglesias agrees for basically the same reason: "To put it politely, I thought that was crap":

Mainly, I'm pissed about Iraq. How to handle Iraq is the most important question facing the president and he just punted. On other looming foreign policy issues (Iran, North Korea, Sudan) where, again, the president can pretty much do whatever he wants we are left with no idea of what a President Kerry would want to do. Nor do we even have a particularly smart backward-looking critique of the Iraq War. It's bad, of course, that the president wasn't straight with the American people about the case for war. Nevertheless, if the deception had been in service of a wildly successful policy, this would be the kind of thing one could more-or-less shrug off. Similarly, contrary to Kerry's accusation Bush didn't go into Iraq without a plan, he went in with a bad plan. But Kerry doesn't get into any of this. Nor did he so much as mention our general strategic situation in the Middle East, offering an opinion one way or the other about the alliances with Israel, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt.

Typically, Yglesias and his liberal friends think that Kerry's vagueness was politically smart - as usual, they seem to assume that the American people are too dumb for specifics - but I tend to think that if the debates roll around and Kerry refuses to answer these two critical questions - (1) would a President Kerry have ultimately decided to go to war with Iraq, and (2) does the war on terror go beyond hunting down some stateless terrorists - he'll come off like Dukakis' cold response to Bernard Shaw on the death penalty in 1988.

*Andrew Sullivan, who's also voting for Kerry:

No mention of democracy in Iraq or Afghanistan. No mention of the terrorist forces that are amassed there. No reference to the elections scheduled for January. No mention of Iran. And the whole point is about process - about how to wage a war, not whether it should be waged. This is a man who clearly wants the U.S. out of the region where our future is at stake, and who believes that simply by taking office, other powers can somehow pick up the slack. Memo to Kerry: no other powers can pick up the slack. They don't have the troops or the technology or the will. His strategy is pure defense. This sentence is his strongest threat: "Any attack will be met with a swift and certain response." So let's wait, shall we?

Also: "private drug research that has cured millions and saved my own life must be throttled to placate constituencies like the AARP."

Also: "I'm glad that Kerry has decided to use the FMA against Bush, as he should." (For a guy who excoriates Bush for not using the word "gay," Sullivan's awfully forgiving of Kerry making only the vaguest possible allusion to the issue, referring only to the "Constitution." Jon Stewart did a great bit where he played that clip and then had someone whisper in his ear and said, "wait, gay people want to do WHAT?").

And: "I definitely liked Kerry less at the end of it than at the beginning."

*Jay Reding thinks President Bush can tear up Kerry's approach with one word that was conspicuous by its absence: "Victory."

*I was only joking to friends about Kerry arriving in Boston on a water taxi because he couldn't find a swift boat, but Fred Kaplan at TNR reveals that those of us who had this thought weren't off base at all:

A few weeks back, a colleague of mine at TNR joked that the Kerry campaign should create a miniature river in the FleetCenter, in which the candidate and his "band of brothers" could wend their way toward the podium in a swift boat. Then came news that the Kerry campaign had actually hunted for a Vietnam-era swift boat to plunk down in the convention center. Alas, none was found, and Kerry had to settle for a water taxi ride with his boat mates.

Kaplan also notes a flaw in Kerry's invocation of the lessons of his combat service:

To Kerry supporters who argue otherwise, is it really necessary to point out . . . that the very men who dispatched Kerry to Vietnam were themselves decorated veterans?

(Of course, some, like LBJ, had fairly bogus combat decorations. But as to the architects of that war, the point stands). Kerry wants us to believe that his combat experience will be a restraint on going to war:

As President, I will wage this war with the lessons I learned in war. Before you go to battle, you have to be able to look a parent in the eye and truthfully say: “I tried everything possible to avoid sending your son or daughter into harm’s way. But we had no choice. We had to protect the American people, fundamental American values from a threat that was real and imminent.” So lesson one, this is the only justification for going to war.

But this leaves unanswered the critical question about our reluctance to use force to stop the march of terrorism in the 1990s: what will Kerry say to the parent or spouse or little child who has lost a loved one due to a terrorist attack that Kerry could have prevented if he'd gone to war? The possibility doesn't even enter into his calculations.

*Lileks:

Read More »


Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:03 AM | Politics 2004 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
POP CULTURE: Revenge

From one of Bill Simmons' readers, on the "Vengance Scale":

Where does Gwen Stefani rank on the Vengeance scale? I was expecting to see her at a 10.0, and was disappointed that she failed to make the cut. Here's a recap -- teenage girl joins her brother's band. Falls in love with the bass player. Dates the bass player through high school. Gets dumped by the bass player. Gets very angry and writes a multi-platinum album of songs about the breakup, and what a jerk the bass player was. Bass player spends the rest of his life touring behind ex-girlfriend, who's now a huge star. Bass player's primary accomplishment in life is providing musical accompaniment to lyrics about what a jerk he is.

Department of Embarrassing Corrections, from the same column: "Joe De's is on Cambridge Street, not Main Street." Bill, you're getting old . . .

Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:35 AM | Pop Culture | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS/LAW: Curse You, Fred Baron!

Wonkette:

Proving the axiom that the only interests that are special are the other guy's special interests, Democratic delegates are paying $120 a piece for liability insurance. . . As lawyer and blogger Walter Olson notes, "imagine if they were doing something physically riskier than just waving placards around."

Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:28 AM | Law 2002-04 • | Politics 2004 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Promises

From Jayson Stark: Rick "Peterson reportedly told the Mets he could get [Victor] Zambrano straightened out 'in 10 minutes.'"

If he's wrong, that will sounds like George Tenet telling Bush that finding WMD in Iraq was "a slam dunk case."

Stark also thinks the Marlins got by far the better of the deal with the Dodgers . . . more on that later. The short answer is, "um, no."

Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:26 AM | Baseball 2004 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: As Bad As Advertised

I tuned in late to last night's Mets game hoping to give a fresh look to Kris Benson, only to discover that he'd already been driven from the game, allowing seven runs in five innings. I've got a feeling this won't be the last time.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:21 AM | Baseball 2004 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: At The Movies

Punch the Bag wants Republicans to "Lose the hokey country music," and contrasts the Democrats' use of U2. Of course, one reason Republicans use country music is that liberal rock stars won't give permission for use of their songs (not that this stopped the Democrats from using Van Halen against the band's wishes). He also has a Kerry anecdote:

Back in 1987 (heavy sigh) when I was living on Capitol Hill, my roommate and I were at the video store on a Friday or Saturday night I guess. Yeah I know, why weren’t we in Georgetown? At any rate, in comes John Kerry dressed in a white button down shirt, khakis, and tennis shoes looking for a video too. I think he was between wives at that point and obviously didn’t have a lot planned that evening. He chose his movie and was soon out the door. My roommate, a press secretary on the Hill and more savvy than me given how his career has soared, immediately asked the clerk what Kerry had rented hoping it would be one of xxx-those-xxx kind of videos. Instead, and no surprise in hindsight, it was Oliver Stone’s Salvador. I look back at that observation of him and smile since it is a far cry from the jet set life he now experiences with the ketchup money.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:16 AM | Politics 2004 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)