Baseball Crank
"It gets late early around here." - Yogi Berra
June 30, 2003
BASEBALL: Moneyball

For our Disney vacation, my wife and I made the mistake (in the interests of saving money) of getting just one hotel room, with the kids (age 3 and 5) sleeping in one bed and us in the other. The problem, of course, was that they wouldn't go to sleep, and there was nowhere else for us to go. Watching TV was out, and so it was that I spent much of the evenings of our vacation sitting on a bathroom floor, drinking cheap Australian Shiraz out of a plastic cup and reading a book I got for Father's Day, Michael Lewis' Moneyball.

Lewis' book has been extensively reviewed elsewhere (see Dr. Manhattan's review here and a writeup here by Matt Welch for examples from the blogosphere), so I'll add my own two cents (or so) without rehashing the whole thing:

1. I've never read any of Lewis' books before (I know, for a guy who works as a securities litigator I'm told that I ought to have read Liar's Poker), and knew him mostly as a Berkeley liberal who writes mediocre and sporadic columns on travel and parenting for Slate. To be honest, then, when I saw that Lewis had written a book called "Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game," my first instinct was to assume that the book would be another compliation of the conventional wisdom: payrolls imbalanced, standings imbalanced, money dictates success, we need to reduce income inequality, etc. I'd already read that case laid out as well as it goes in Bob Costas' Fair Ball, and really didn't have the stomach to wade through it again. So, it was with some surprise that I read the early rave reviews revealing that the book was, in fact, the story of the development of sabermetrics and how it came to be that Billy Beane implemented sabermetric principles to run the Oakland A's.

2. When I am reading a book that deals with a subject I know intimately, the first thing I look for is the absences: does the author miss obvious points? Does he ignore important developments? I'm more likely to buy into his descriptions of things I don't know if he's nailed the ones I do.

Lewis does. Every time. He goes through Beane's history with the Mets, rather than presenting him fully formed as an executive. When he introduces Chris Pittaro, now an A's scout, he doesn't forget the one thing Pittaro is known for, which is Sparky Anderson's outlandish hyping of Pittaro in the spring of 1985. When he discusses Scott Hatteberg's reverence for Don Mattingly's patience at the plate, Lewis remembers to remind the reader that Mattingly himself didn't walk that much. Lewis notes the relationship of sabermetrics to Rotisserie baseball, but remembers to note the contradiction in Roto's old-fashioned reliance on Triple Crown stats and steals. Time and again, going through the story of sabermetric analysis, Lewis gets it, even to the point of mocking favorite targets like Joe Morgan, Bud Selig and the Elias Baseball Analyst. On the other hand, the book was somewhat sparse on one thing I would have liked to have learned, which was why the A's soured on Carlos Pena; the only thing Lewis really shows us is that Pena was swinging at too many pitches.

3. Lewis' frame of reference in the bond trading business is apparent; he frequently compares Beane to a bond trader in his dedication to making deals based on superior information.

4. One thing that's interesting is that the book focuses less on the A's application of known, established truths and more on an area where the leading analysts remain on somewhat shaky ground: the amateur draft. Most analysts continue to believe that there's an important place for traditional "tools/observation-based" scouting in the draft, particularly as regards high school players. But the A's have apparently decided to avoid high school players altogether -- a defensible decision, perhaps, given their low budget and their confidence in their metrics for measuring college players. But an ideal draft strategy would take some high school players; Connie Mack loved college players too, but that didn't stop him from snapping up Jimmie Foxx. Lewis makes a persuasive case for Beane's strategy, and the story is in some sense more dramatic because the jury is still out.

5. I do have to wonder why Beane let this book get written. A few baseball bloggers have (fairly enough) mocked Joe Morgan for implying that Beane himself had written the book, but Morgan's larger point is valid: it's clear that this book contains an awful lot of the 'inside' insights of Beane and his staff, gathered with Beane's approval: their draft strategy, how they evaluate players in trades, how Beane manipulates other GMs. If I'm another GM, I'd race out to read this just to get the scoop on how one of my competitors does his business. Lewis implies two motives: First, Beane is frustrated at the lack of recognition he gets for his talents; Lewis discusses this explicitly as the motive for Beane's public courtship by the Red Sox. Second, Beane really thinks the other GMs are all so dumb they won't read or understand the book anyway. Which may be true of some of them, but it suggests an arrogance that could cost Beane.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:28 AM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
June 29, 2003
LAW: More on Affirmative Action

Two good followups: Stanford Law School professor Marcus Cole, on Volokh, pouring further scorn on Maureen Dowd's "assum[ption] that Clarence Thomas, and all successful African Americans, owe their success to Affirmative Action as the but-for cause of their success," and Michael Kinsley's devastating column slicing through the nonsense in Justice O'Connor's compromise solution. (link via Sullivan)

Charles Krauthammer offers a dissenting view: that as bad and dishonest as the Court's opinion was, it's a good thing that the Court didn't close off democratic debate on the issue as it has on, say, abortion.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:34 AM | Law 2002-04 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
June 28, 2003
LAW: We Own Your Opinions

One of the most offensive arguments about affirmative action is perfectly captured by Maureen Dowd's broadside against Clarence Thomas:

He knew that he could not make a powerful legal argument against racial preferences, given the fact that he got into Yale Law School and got picked for the Supreme Court thanks to his race. . . . The dissent is a clinical study of a man who has been driven barking mad by the beneficial treatment he has received. . . It makes him crazy that people think he is where he is because of his race, but he is where he is because of his race. . . .It's impossible not to be disgusted at someone who could benefit so much from affirmative action and then pull up the ladder after himself. So maybe he is disgusted with his own great historic ingratitude.

Eugene Volokh rightly takes to task the idea that good judging requires a judge to be biased in favor of "gratitude" for whatever social privileges he's obtained in his life. But the problem goes deeper than that.

You see, for its supporters, affirmative action isn't the repayment of a debt after all: it's a loan that can and is called in whenever needed. Justice Thomas hasn't simply been given a helping hand and set free; rather, he's required to declare perpetual fealty to the cause of racial preferences, even when his better judgment and his understanding of the law tells him otherwise, because he owes. His very thought is shackled by the stigma, so gleefully thrown in his face at every opportunity: we bought you, and we expect you to stay bought! You're nothing without us! You really think you are qualified for the job you hold, or even for your degree to practice law in the first place?

Read Dowd's piece and ask yourself if she really believes that Clarence Thomas has earned the right to make up his own mind. So much for dignity and respect.

Of course, to complete this picture, it's also fair to note that if Justice Thomas supported racial preferences in higher education, conservatives who oppose such preferences would also be all over him for being corrupted by the programs to which he was indebted. (As I've pointed out before, and as Dowd raises again, a similar stigma sticks to those, like President Bush, who got into college as children of alumni). But does that make preferences better? Either way, Thomas is damned by his history; he is not free, in the way that you or I are free, in the way that someone about whom it is known that he has made it on his own merits is free. Is that the legacy we want for still more generations of African-Americans -- unfree to act, rather than be acted on, unfree to think, rather than be thought about?

Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:46 AM | Law 2002-04 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Selling Himself Short

Due to travel, I missed last Sunday night's Met-Yankee game noted by The Mad Hibernian here. What continues to amaze me is Armando Benitez' unerring instinct for driving down his trade value whenever the Mets are looking to move him. The latest fiasco should be a vivid reminder of why the Red Sox, in particular, should want no part of a guy who can't handle anything resembling a high-pressure game.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:18 AM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BLOG: I'm Back

Got back late Thursday night from a family vacation at Disney World, and I've been digging out ever since. There's much to blog about, from the Mets-Yankees series to the Supreme Court's busy week, although I see that The Mad Hibernian has been manning the battlements here all week. Unfortunately, because I was traveling and for reasons I'll explain later, I didn't get to see much baseball this week.

If I was really ambitious, I could make an Al Haig declaration ("I'm in charge here!") while Glenn Reynolds is on vacation. As usual, though, I'll just be scrambling for enough time to catch up.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:10 AM | Blog 2002-05 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
June 21, 2003
BLOG: Out of Blog Experience

I'll be away from the blog for a few days; blogging will resume next Friday or next weekend (other than my co-bloggers, that is). See ya then.

I did have one milestone this week: I finally got the last of my blog archives moved over from Blogger (the September and August stuff).

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:43 PM | Blog 2002-05 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

A real defensive clinic put on last night by Tsuyoshi Shinjo in the Mets' loss to the Yankees, between throwing out Robin Ventura by about 30 feet at third base (erosion is faster than Ventura) and robbing Alfonso Soriano of a home run in center.

We Met fans take our entertainment where we must.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:56 PM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Pitches Per Inning

Joe Sheehan has a tremendously important article (not subscriber-only, for once) -- with some data I hadn't seen before -- explaining (at least partly) one of baseball's greatest mysteries: why pitchers can't throw as many innings as they used to. Without direct pitch count data, Sheehan approaches the question from a variety of other angles, noting the steady long-term rise of walks + strikeouts/game, the dramatic recent spike in power production from players on the right end of the defensive spectrum (catchers and middle infielders), which raises the stress levels on pitchers who have to fear the longball all the way to the bottom of the lineup (the DH rule has also contributed to this). It's a must-read.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:56 AM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (1)
WAR: The Famous Process

The first step on the "road map" to peace in Israel and Palestine is supposed to be stopping terrorism. This is a bad idea. I'm not opposed to a "peace process." But the key to understanding the uses and limitations of such a process is that you can't negotiate about terrorism.

Some people say that you can't negotiate with terrorists. Not so; sometimes, there's nobody else to talk to. Once you've decided not to kill them, talking always has to be an option.

But you can't put terrorism on a negotiating table, for three interrelated reasons:

1. Negotiations require parties who can be held responsible.

First, you have to find someone willing to take responsibility for having ordered or at least permitted terror attacks in the past. But even if you get there, who will be willing to admit to responsibility for more attacks in the future? It's the easiest thing in the world to let attacks happen, blame them on "extremist militants," and then complain about a "cycle of violence" when the other side backs out of the agreement.

2. Successful negotiations require that proportional consequences for violations be set out in advance.

The core of a negotiating process isn't just concession and agreement to the current deal; it's also agreement to what happens if part or all of the deal breaks down. But negotiating responses to terrorism is problematic in the extreme. Anything that's subject to negotiation is legitimized, and the responding party may find its freedom of action restricted. And how do you negotiate meaningful provisions that put an acceptable price on this? "Could you stop sending teenagers to blow up restaurants, please? What do you want in return? What do you want for blowing up just a few less civilians? How about just not blowing up any little children for a few weeks? Our lawyers have drafted some reps and warranties, and even an arbitration clause in case there's any disputes over whether you've exceeded your quota . . . Take a look at the language and get back to me in the morning."

3. Negotiating over terror gives independent terrorists and outside agitators an incentive to wreck the deal.

If terrorism is part of the contract, then somebody who's cut out of the deal can break it by sponsoring attacks. This relates back to problem #1, but it's a distinct problem -- there are the separate issues of one side creating "deniable" terror attacks and that side negotiating in good faith but actually being undercut by extremists.

The way to make any peace process work is, instead, to just take terrorism off the table. You don't have to say, "no negotiations until it stops," although you can reserve the right to respond to attacks outside the process. Instead, the process should be not a peace process (the very phrase assumes that there's a legitimate military conflict going on, which there isn't) but an independence process, with steps on both sides building towards the creation of meaningful Palestinian institutions. Israel has to deal in hope: a carrot to give ordinary Palestinians hope that peace will produce positive results, and a stick to remove any hope that terror will accomplish anything. De-linking terrorism from negotiations to the greatest extent possible is the only way to make use of both carrot and stick.

Which doesn't mean you can't put things on the table that aid in Israel's security; but they have to be concrete positive steps or steps tied directly to responsible parties (conficating a certain amount of weapons, ceasing the use of hate-inspiring textbooks in schools, etc.) rather than negative promises about terror attacks. That's the only way to make a process function in a contructive way.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:52 AM | War 2002-03 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
WAR: Military Transformation

I don't have time here to analyze it, but Trent Telenko has a long and fascinating post on the transformation of the military's role in both war-fighting and nation-building. (Link via Sergeant Stryker).

Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:48 AM | War 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
June 20, 2003
WAR: McCain on WMD

This is why I still love John McCain, even after all the other crap: McCain tears apart the idea that Saddam had no WMD. Jed Babbin at NRO has more on this theme, from a highly-placed British military source. Don't forget that Saddam's army in the field had gas masks -- ever wonder why?

If McCain decides to leave the Senate (or as long as Arizona has a Republican governor), Bush should keep McCain on the short list to replace Powell or Rumsfeld if either ever steps down (the current leader of that list is Condi Rice; I could see Rice at State and McCain at Defense if the incumbents leave, and both would sail through the Senate, whereas Paul Wolfowitz would not).

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:16 AM | War 2002-03 | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)
WAR: One Year Later

Tuesday will mark the one-year anniversary of President Bush's landmark June 24, 2002 speech on the Israeli-Palestinian problem. Here's what I wrote at the time, with more recent comments in brackets:

Bush: Mr. Arafat, tear down yourself!

"If the Palestinian people meet these goals, they will be able to reach agreement with Israel and Egypt and Jordan on security and other arrangements for independence."

Beautiful touch: a nice reminder that the Israelis aren't the only ones the Palestinians threaten or the only ones they need to make peace with. [Now, there's signs that Egypt is getting involved again in the "road map," but little has been resolved with the Palestinians' Arab neighbors]

"A Palestinian state can only serve its citizens with a new constitution which separates the powers of government . . .Local officials and government ministers need authority of their own and the independence to govern effectively."

Lord, if that's the standard, England doesn't meet it - no constitution, no separation of executive and legislative powers, little local authority. [We're not there yet -- the new institutions haven't even wrested power from Arafat, let alone created multiple sources of authority]

"The security system must have clear lines of authority and accountability and a unified chain of command."

Wow, Tom Ridge can't meet that one. [Well, Ridge has more authority now. But Mahmoud Abbas a/k/a Abu Mazen doesn't] Seriously, though.

"Every leader actually committed to peace will end incitement to violence in official media, and publicly denounce homicide bombings."

That means you, Saudi Arabia & Egypt. [I haven't checked MEMRI enough lately - while the English-language Arab News has made noises of reasonableness lately and there seems to be less vocal support for 'martyrdom' out there, I'm not sure how close we are to ending the international glorification of suicide bombers]

"Every nation actually committed to peace will stop the flow of money, equipment and recruits to terrorist groups seeking the destruction of Israel -- including Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Hezbollah."

This is directed at the EU. [Not much progress on the EU front, but we have stopped the flow from Iraq, and if the Iranian regime falls, Hezbollah will be SOL pretty quickly]

"Every nation actually committed to peace must block the shipment of Iranian supplies to these groups, and oppose regimes that promote terror, like Iraq. And Syria must choose the right side in the war on terror by closing terrorist camps and expelling terrorist organizations."

Hey, Syria: you are on the waiting list for the axis of evil. [Well, there's an opening, and Assad is still being auditioned. But we did close terror training grounds in Iraq.]

"With intensive effort by all, this agreement could be reached within three years from now."

Are you listening? I didn't promise it would be done by November 2004. [The 'road map' tried to stop the violence by last month, so so much for timetables. Bush won't be blamed for failure to get peace on the West Bank, though; voters understand that this is an intractable problem, so there's only upside in getting involved]

"The Bible says, "I have set before you life and death; therefore, choose life." The time has arrived for everyone in this conflict to choose peace, and hope, and life."

This is reminiscent of the U.S. diplomat in the Sixties who told the Arabs & Israelis to settle their differences "like good Christians."

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:12 AM | War 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Ssssidney

If you're inclined to waste your time on Sidney Blumenthal and Whitewater, this is an amusing battle in which Blumenthal accuses the New York Times of being part of a right-wing attack machine (re-read that carefully, I'm not kidding), mostly on grounds that the Times reported Whitewater at all (in March 1992) and then failed to report on various Whitewater developments later that purportedly cast the original article into doubt. Former editor and current interim editor Joseph Lelyveld responds by tearing Blumenthal's smoke-and-mirrors critique to pieces. (I noted Lelyveld's review of Blumenthal's book here).

Dick Morris, meanwhile, charges Lelyveld's Times with pro-Clinton bias on Whitewater, and as usual with Morris' charges, he himself is a prime conspirator. (Take anything Morris says with a grain of salt, although the evidence he cites of the puff piece he describes is certainly supportive.) Ironically, Morris and Blumenthal both cite the Times' non-reporting of Whitewater stories as indicative of bias.

The funny thing is how Clinton partisans try to attack the Times and investigative reporter Jeff Gerth for bringing Whitewater to light at all. Why is that so important? Well, because much of the Clintons' subsequent misbehavior in response to the investigation can only be justified if you start with the premise that there was nothing at all that should ever have been investigated.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:11 AM | Politics 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Table Games

An interesting article on how Keith Hernandez (and, unsurprisingly, fellow Mets broadcaster Howie Rose) is hooked on Strat-O-Matic baseball. Ballplayers generally don't seem like the types for these games, but I have always wondered whether there were any ex-Major Leaguers out there who got into table games or Rotisserie after their playing days. Of course, the fact that Hernandez had been grounded in the percentage-based world of table games before he made the majors seems unsurprising, given the kind of player he was.

(Link via Clutch Hits).

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:06 AM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
June 19, 2003
BASEBALL: Happy Birthday

Worthy of remembering: Today would have been Lou Gehrig's 100th birthday. God bless.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 1:29 PM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Like Eugene Volokh, I can't see, legally, what will be accomplished by the motion filed by Norma McCorvey (aka Jane Roe of Roe v. Wade) attempting to overturn the Supreme Court's decision in Roe 30 years ago. But her affidavit still makes for some rather powerful reading.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:33 AM | Law 2002-04 • | Politics 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Reg'ler Guy

This Washington Post profile of John Kerry, which opens with an account of him hunting, is obviously intended to show that he's a regular guy and not some ivory tower Massachusetts anti-gun nut.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:29 AM | Politics 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Unprecedented?

Joe Sheehan, predictably, defends Roger Clemens' snit over his Hall of Fame plaque (Link is subscription only). But that's not the interesting part. The interesting part is Sheehan's statement that "[Roberto] Alomar may eventually be regarded as the first Hall of Famer who could not be associated with any team."

This is monumental ignorance of history. First of all, there have been plenty of journeymen Hall of Famers even in recent years -- Reggie Jackson, Nolan Ryan, Gaylord Perry, Hoyt Wilhelm (Sheehan does mention Ryan). And if you dig further back, there are many other players no more associated with one team than Alomar -- Rabbit Maranville, George Davis, Jim O'Rourke, Dan Brouthers. I'm sure this was a throwaway line, but Sheehan should know better.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:26 AM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Labashing Hillary

This is just savage (and justifiably so) -- Matt Labash of the Weekly Standard, on the unreadable Hillary memoir:

Who else could seriously write of her grade-school appointment as "co-captain of the safety patrol" "This was a big deal in our school. My new status provided me my first lesson in the strange ways some people respond to electoral politics." . . . Every detail of her life is wrapped in a tidy little pre-package--containing all sorts of do-goodnik asides ready for a campaign bio or a stump-speech moral. Conceiving Chelsea? "We weren't having any luck," she writes, "until we decided to take a vacation in Bermuda, proving once again the importance of regular time off." Most people would just be happy to be having sex in Bermuda. She has to prove the importance of taking regular time off. Her delivery of Chelsea? An excellent opportunity to work in the factlet that Bill accompanied her into the operating room for her C-section--an "unprecedented" move at Baptist Hospital, though "soon thereafter the policy was changed to permit fathers in the delivery room during cesarean operations."

A hike through Yellowstone with Chelsea and Bill? "America's national parks have provided a model and an inspiration for other nations to protect their national heritage," and oh, by the way, she almost forgot to mention: "Bill announced a historic agreement to stop a large, foreign-owned gold mine on the border of Yellowstone from threatening the pristine environment." Vince Foster, one of Hillary's best friends in the world, committing suicide? She interrupts news of his death to tell us that right before she was notified, she'd been on a trip to Japan, where she "met with a group of prominent Japanese women--the first of dozens of such meetings that I held around the world--to learn about the issues women were facing everywhere."

Even when Hillary is going through her lowest moments, she manages to find a sanctimonious silver lining. . . . Remember the Rose law firm billing records that turned up in a White House closet months after they were subpoenaed by prosecutors? They got lost in the shuffle when "we found ourselves in the midst of a major renovation of the heating and air-conditioning systems to bring the White House up to environmental energy standards."

Even the failure to stop genocide can be turned to political advantage. The death of one million Rwandans which the administration did nothing to stop? "It would have been difficult for the United States to send troops so soon after the loss of American soldiers in Somalia and when the Administration was trying to end ethnic cleansing in Bosnia," she explains. "But Bill publicly expressed regret that our country and the international community had not done more to stop the horror." Public regret? How do you say "thanks for nothing" in Tutsi?

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:19 AM | Politics 2002-03 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
WAR: Love of Country

Dr. Manhattan says Europeans don't like Jews because Jews lack the Europeans' capacity for dual loyalties.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:17 AM | War 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
June 18, 2003
WAR: Where Are The WMD?

There's been an awful lot of talk lately, including demands for a response from the left side of the aisle, about the failure to find weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in Iraq, leading to two types of charges. Some critics argue that there never were any WMD, and further that the Bush Administration and the Blair Government either had bad intelligence, exaggerated the intelligence they had, or outright lied to justify the war. Others argue that the inability to find WMD means that the WMD got away somehow, and that this is an indictment of the allies in general and the Bush Administration in particular on the theory that they failed to put enough troops on the ground to secure all the sites ASAP. Right now, there are still more questions than answers, but I think it's worth going through the questions to focus on which ones need an answer:

Read More »

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:30 AM | War 2002-03 | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)
June 17, 2003
WAR: Bad Intelligence?

The finger-pointing dynamic is now in full swing in the intelligence community, with these front page pieces here and here in USAToday seeking to explain the hazards of gathering intelligence in Iraq:

Saddam Hussein would say, 'If we've got a spy on the 5th floor of the building, take everyone on that floor out and chop them up into little pieces'

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

For a good laugh, go to, click on "Supreme Court Countdown" New Flash Animation about half way down the page toward the right.

This is really, really going to get ugly, considering how nasty this stuff is before Bush has even announced a Supreme Court pick. Much uglier than the partisan smear campaigns against Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer (oh, wait . . . ). The funny thing is how the Democrats may be arguing that a Supreme nomineee is a right-wing lunatic compared to Rehnquist. I bet the Chief Justice gets his reputation rehabilitated in one heck of a hurry if he steps down.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:50 PM | Politics 2002-03 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (3)
WAR: Private Lynch, Revisited

The Washington Post's revised account of the tale of Jessica Lynch is a bit less spectacular than its earlier story. But, really, if you forget the earlier version and read this with an open mind, you come away tremendously impressed with what she and her comrades in the 507th Maintenance Company went through, with the daring and devotion of the rescue team, and with the heroism of the Iraqi who passed the word that freed her.

The story is, essentially, Mogadishu all over again (although contrary to predictions, we only had one Mogadishu in this war). It's worth remembering again the sacrifices that entails.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:45 PM | War 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Not good news, but probably not that harmful, either.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:27 PM | Business | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

In progress: Jae Seo at work.

New York 0 0 0 0 0 0 5 0
Florida 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

UPDATE: That didn't take long. Perfect game over.

SECOND UPDATE: Seo leaves with a hand injury, which is deeply worrisome, but with the assistance of David Weathers and Armando Benitez, the Mets face the minimum 27 batters en route to the third one-hitter in as many days for or against the Mets.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:04 PM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Pitching Around .204

Interesting decision last night by Dusty Baker and/or Joe Borowski at the end of the Cubs-Reds game: 4-3 Cubs lead at home, tying run on second base, Adam Dunn at bat, Barry Larkin on deck, and the Cubs choose to pitch around Dunn, walking him on four pitches, to put the winning run on first and face Larkin. Here are the options:

Dunn: .204 batting, .528 slugging
Larkin: .254 average, .388 slugging

It's not a slam-dunk either way, but a hit ties the game; why not face the guy hitting .204 rather than (1) giving up 50 points of batting average and (2) replacing the risk of a game-winning homer with the risk of a game-winning double (Larkin has 6 extra base hits in 67 at bats, not much less than Dunn's 22 homers in 216 at bats)?

In the end, it worked: Larkin struck out on consecutive check swings. And maybe Baker was looking beyond the year-to-date stats and thinking that Dunn is still a coming superstar, and Larkin is finished. Still, it's an interesting question.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:25 AM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
LAW: Is This New?

I'm not an expert in this particular area, and it may well be that I'm forgetting a case from my Federal Courts class that ruled on this point previously -- an interesting aspect of Justice Scalia's opinion for a unanimous Supreme Court yesterday in Virginia v. Hicks, which overturned a decision of the Virginia Supreme Court finding a statute overbroad under the First Amdendment, was the holding that Virginia had standing to bring the case to the U.S. Supreme Court based on its "injury-in-fact" in being unable to enforce the statute. The salient point here is that the state's standing to sue was determined at the time the case was brought into federal court, at the certiorari stage, rather than as things existed before the litigation was filed. This, of course, also relates to one of the side issues in Bush v. Gore -- i.e., the fact that the Bush campaign's standing to raise constitutional issues was determined on the basis of how things stood after the Florida Supreme Court's decision. The other interesting aspect of Hicks in this regard is the state having standing to defend its statutes in federal court, where it could not have enforced them in the first place.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:19 AM | Law 2002-04 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Watch The Trailing Leg

Let's face it: there's really nothing the Democrats can do to defeat George W. Bush in 2004. Which is not to say he can't be beaten, just that what can do him in is mostly a combination of external circumstances (the economy, setbacks in the war) and missteps by the Administration. The only Democrat I'd feared in terms of his ability to create his own buzz independent of pre-existing anti-Bush sentiment was John Edwards, but Edwards increasingly looks like just a pretty face who's in over his head.

Rand Simberg notes the more interesting question, one that the Democrats have to think long and hard about: how will the presidential ticket affect the rest of the ticket, in terms of turning out the Democratic base without turning off the mainstream? Among other things, this is one reason I'm not excited about the idea that Al Sharpton could run an independent campaign: who do you think Sharpton's voters will support for Congress?

I suspect, contrary to Simberg's speculation, that a far-Left candidacy like Howard Dean's would be a bad thing for the Dems, since it could convince a lot of voters that the party has lost its mind, and put a lot of moderate candidates in the same bind that swallowed so many moderate Senators in 2002. I'll have more thoughts as we go about what the best answer is.

Of course, if you wanted to design a perfect candidate to challenge Bush, you'd want someone who could pose as a moderate; who had impeccable national-security credentials; who's got a long record as a spending hawk; and who is personally identified with opposing the cozy relationship of big money to power in Washington.

Then again, we've seen that perfect candidate already, and he lost to Bush in the primaries in 2000.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:16 AM | Politics 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

This seems like a terrible idea.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:05 AM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BLOG: Lowering The Curtain

Samizdata goes ballistic, and rightly so, over a trial balloon floated by an EU entity suggesting that blogs in Europe could be subject to content regulation including "equal time" mandates.

Thank God I'm an American.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:04 AM | Blog 2002-05 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The most important news these days is the news from Iran; the Revolution may be nigh, with unrest growing rapidly and visibly in the run-up to another year of general strikes planned for July 9.

Instapundit notes a statement from Iranian academics that charges that the theocrats aren't just tyrants, they're heretics too:

More than 250 university lecturers and writers in Iran signed a statement calling on supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (search) to abandon the idea that he is God's representative on Earth. . . . Khamenei has the final say on all matters. The ruling clerics regard him as God's representative and say his word cannot be challenged. "Considering individuals to be in the position of a divinity and absolute power ... is open polytheism [in contradiction to] almighty God . . . " the statement said.

I guess this answers the question I raised in October:

"maybe I just don't understand Islam well enough, but to my ears, the whole sharia-courts phenomenon thoughout Islamist societies seems to be blasphemous and idolatrous by its very nature . . . Can somebody who knows more about Islam explain to me how this arrangement doesn't effectively set up the sharia court itself as the object of worship, obedience and devotion, under the harshest of penalties, and in substitution for the devotion of invidual conscience directly to divine authority?"

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:59 AM | Religion • | War 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Mort! Mort! Mort!

Lileks compares Bill O'Reilly to Morton Downey jr. (if you don't remember the late 80s, let's just say that Downey was the original right-wing TV populist, and he smoked like a chimney). Vodkapundit still thinks Pat Buchanan is a better analogy. I tend to agree with Lileks that O'Reilly's the classic example of a guy who rises, and falls, for a reason. If he's lucky, like Rush Limbaugh, he'll survive passing his prime without crashing and burning like Downey.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:54 AM | Politics 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS/LAW: "[N]ot just the right last name"

Patrick Ruffini notes the irony in a rather egregious example from John Edwards of what, if said by a Republican, would almost certainly be a career-threatening racial slur: the charge that Miguel Estrada is unqualified to be a federal appeals judge, and was nominated just for his ethnicity:

"I think we need more Hispanics on the federal bench, but we should choose people because they have the right record, not just the right last name"

I know Bush hates demonizing his opponents, but somebody needs to very publicly tear Edwards a new one over this comment. As Ruffini notes, the real irony is that Edwards is the one who's painfully short on qualifications (to be president, that is). Estrada has a resume to die for, and is, if anything, overqualified; every job he's had is an extremely hard one to get in the legal world, and he's done them all with great distinction. But apparently it's OK to run down those qualifications because he's Latino.

I've been slow to consider the Democrats' behavior in this case to be racist or a genuine problem with Latino voters -- I always thought it was completely bogus for Clinton to play the race card every time one of his African-American nominees got held up -- but there's no question in my mind that Estrada has been targeted (in ways that other equally conservative white male nominees haven't) specifically because the Democrats fear that his nationality and life history, combined with his evident brilliance, would make him a potent Supreme Court choice.

Targeting a man for defeat to public office because of his race -- isn't that the sort of thing Democrats were supposed to be against? (Don't bother answering that).

(Link via The Corner).

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:45 AM | Law 2002-04 • | Politics 2002-03 | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

Good news, sort of, from Mike Piazza: no dates are projected, but Piazza's rehab is reported to be going well.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:32 AM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
WAR: WMD Revisionism

John Stryker at Sergeant Stryker has been performing an important public service for the pro-war camp in laying out the record of charges made by the Bush Administration detailing the dangers of Saddam's WMD (mostly chem- and bio-weapons) programs before the war; check it out here, here and here.

We may never learn the whole truth about Saddam's weapons. But it does bear examining how we knew what we thought we knew.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:29 AM | War 2002-03 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Mariners Replaying 2001

The other day, Joe Sheehan of the Baseball Prospectus wrote a column (subscription-only) on something I'd been meaning to cover: how the Mariners' 2003 mirrors their 2001 season, starting, of course, with Bret Boone getting angry and turning into Lou Ferrigno again.

On another Mariners note, David Pinto notes that John Olerud got his 2000th hit last night.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:23 AM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BLOG: Back in the Vodka

Stephen "Vodkapundit" Green is back after a long layoff. I can well understand the need to take a break from blogging. But I have to say, as somebody who blogs around the edges of a 60-70-hour-a-week job, I had some trouble understanding why Green couldn't drop by once a week or so and write 2-3 lines to let us know he was still there (from reading his bio, it's not even clear that Green needs to work for a living).

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:17 AM | Blog 2002-05 | TrackBack (0)
June 16, 2003
BASEBALL: The Master

I meant to link last week to this interview with Bill James over on Slate. Among other things, James continues to defend his views on Mike Stenhouse (he's done a bit of rethinking on Brad Komminsk and Doug Frobel). And there's this:

[W]hat do you think of the prospects of using play-by-play analysis to differentiate players' defensive skills? Is it possible to draw a meaningful separation between data and noise at the play-by-play level?

Yes, it is possible. But ... this is among my primary projects right now, and I don't want to talk about the sauce while it's still in the skillet.

Sounds like some new defensive measures are on their way . . .

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:44 AM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
WAR: Neglecting Iraq?

I'm hesitant to push too hard in either direction on the quality of the occupation in Iraq; what we really know is pretty sparse. Phil Carter gave the Army's perspective, and one I respect, that more troops are needed; Carter was particularly concerned about the looting of an Iraqi nuclear facility, which is the one thing in the whole post-war period that genuinely concerns me. Even recognizing that we couldn't shift gears overnight from war-fighting to securing every site in sight, I have yet to hear a good answer on why the nuclear facility was left unguarded.

Daniel Drezner opined a few weeks back that the Bush Administration in general

focuses like a laser beam on a key priority for several months, ignoring any criticism from outsiders. It then achieves its priority, earning plaudits for gutsiness and discipline. Immediately afterwards, however, drift sets in, unexpected complications arise, events beyond the Bush team's control create new obstacles to policy implementation, and things appear to fall apart.

I had a couple of different thoughts on this:

1. It's Perception: Bush's opponents are better able to selectively pick out details that go awry when they criticize his day-to-day management. War with Iraq or the passage of a tax bill is an up-or-down thing, so it's hard to spin his victories as defeats. Rebuilding Iraq will inevitably have both successes and failures, and we'll still be arguing a decade from now which was which. In the interim, small details (even bogus ones like the supposed massive looting of the Baghdad Museum) can be touted to a public that has little reliable first-hand information from which to weigh the evidence.

2. It's Bush's Way: Bush functions best when he can set clear goals and get everyone on his team pushing in the same direction. He functions less well in situations that demand less leadership and more hands-on detail-oriented management. In other words, he has the virtues of a good chief executive rather than a middle manager.

3. It's the Nature of the Presidency: Presidents -- indeed, governments as a whole -- tend to be more successful when they can bend the vast resources of the government to a single, measurable objective, and tend to do less well in managing complex situations. Indeed, I'd argue that this is one of the basic insights of conservatism: governments are good at "linear" objectives like fighting wars and moonshots and less so at things that involve a lot of small daily adjustments to react to changing circumstances. (Charles Krauthammer has made this point repeatedly).

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:38 AM | War 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Ken Rosenthal spreads the rumor that Joe Torre might be replaced next season by Bobby Valentine or Lou Piniella. Mmmmmm . . . havoc:

"George is going to want someone to burn a clubhouse down," one executive says. "He doesn't want a campfire. He wants a bonfire." ...

Well, these are the right guys. Both have their strengths as managers, but they're both awfully volatile, and Piniella's failed in the Bronx before. I can't imagine either of them lasting more than 18 months at the helm after replacing Torre.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:13 AM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASKETBALL: No Breaks For The Nets

The NBA Finals were so exciting, even Bill Simmons, who wrote a whole column hyping the Nets-Spurs matchup (Page 2 headlined the piece "A series you can't afford to miss"), announced after Game 4 that "this series has been a disappointment in every sense of the word."

Now, I didn't get to see a whole lot of the series myself, but this paragraph from Bill's preview didn't really gibe with my experience as a basketball fan:

The best lesson from this series, especially if New Jersey wins: Fast breaks matter. Wait a second, you're telling me that it's easier to score in transition -- when you have numbers, when the other team is running backward -- then when your opponent has a chance to set up its defense? What a wacky concept!!!!!

As I think the series bore out, this is backward: fast breaks are a by-product of winning basketball, not a cause. It's like big innings in baseball -- while it's true that some teams are more cut out for them than others, the fact is that you don't decide, "let's have a lot of big innings"; you build for success, and the big innings come. Fast breaks are like that; you can try to push the ball as a philosophy, but the things you need to do well to get fast breaks are more important than the decision to have them.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:06 AM | Basketball | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
June 15, 2003
BASEBALL: Today's Met Game

I particularly enjoyed watching Reyes sprint around the bases after his grand slam; Burnitz also had a pretty quick home run trot. I guess when Steve Trachsel's pitching, you do what you can to get the game moving.

The ball was really jumping the whole series with the Angels; besides Reyes' poke to very short left field, Saturday night's game saw Garret Anderson hit one out on a low outside pitch that he had to reach out and lunge for.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:40 PM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Presidential Candidate's Review

Gearing up for the 2004 election, this weekend's newspapers have a slew of articles providing background information on presidential candidates: the Boston Globe on local favorite, John Kerry; the Washington Post on Joe Lieberman ; and the NYTimes on a potential GOP candidate in 2008, George Pataki. Note that, for the Democrats, 2004 may be the year of John Kennedy -- both Lieberman and Kerry are claiming a connection to JFK.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:42 PM | Politics 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Liar's Baseball?

Michael Lewis, author of the classic Liar's Poker, has a new book out that tracks Billy Beane and his efforts to build a successful and affordable team over the course of the 2002 season. I have not yet read the book, so I can't recommend it, but I'll be sure to read it before I pick up Hillary Clinton's new addition to the literary world.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 2:13 PM | Baseball 2002-03 • | Kiner's Korner | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Best Defensive 3rd Baseman Ever?

During the Yankees/Cardinals game, Tim McCarver declared Scott Rolen the best-fielding third baseman in the history of the game. An example of typical McCarver hyperbole? McCarver had previously thought that Mike Schmidt was the best ever, but changed his mind when Schmidt's former teammate, Larry Bowa (and no friend of Rolen's), declared Rolen better than Schmidt. Interesting to note, McCarver never mentioned Brooks Robinson during the course of his discussion.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 2:06 PM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Alomar, Part II

Following up on The Crank's call to platoon Roberto Alomar, the following is Alomar's batting average against lefties over the last few years: .338 (1999), .318 (2000), .279 (2001) and .204 (2002). This decline has continued into this year: he's hitting .138 against lefties.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 2:00 PM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
June 14, 2003
BASEBALL: Not The Usual Suspects

Recorded for posterity, today's AL Batting Average leaders:

1 Melvin Mora, Bal .366/.466/.598
2 Bill Mueller, Bos .344/.403/.550
3 Hank Blalock, Tex .344/.402/.563
4 Michael Young, Tex .335/.373/.478
5 Ichiro Suzuki, Sea .333/.377/.444
6 Milton Bradley, Cle .332/.439/.500
7 F. Catalanotto, Tor .331/.372/.528
8 N. Garciaparra, Bos .327/.359/.581
9 Rocco Baldelli, TB .327/.355/.462
10 Eric Byrnes, Oak .326/.393/.540

Yup, it's still early . . .

Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:22 AM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Correction of the Week

From Will Saletan at Slate:

Correction: In Monday's "Ballot Box," referring to presidential candidate Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, I wrote, "Somebody toss a dollar in his guitar case so he can buy a quart of milk." Kucinich, a vegan, does not drink milk.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:17 AM | Politics 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
LAW/POLITICS: Frightening Specter

I see that Chuck Schumer has suggested that Bush appoint 73-year-old pro-abortion Republican Arlen Specter to the Supreme Court, which would let Democratic Ed Rendell pick his immediate replacement. Nice try, Chuck.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:49 AM | Law 2002-04 • | Politics 2002-03 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Lazy Europeans

A piece in last Sunday's New York Times had some fascinating details about the decline in the number of hours worked by the average European, its connection to the decline of the European economies, and a possible explanation: the demise of the Protestant Work Ethic. Of course, this raises some chicken-and-eggery with regard to the European cradle-to-grave welfare state . . .

Here are the key numbers:

According to a recent study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the average working American spends 1,976 hours a year on the job. The average German works just 1,535 22 percent less. The Dutch and Norwegians put in even fewer hours. Even the British do 10 percent less work than their trans-Atlantic cousins. Between 1979 and 1999, the average American working year lengthened by 50 hours, or nearly 3 percent. But the average German working year shrank by 12 percent.

Yet even these figures understate the extent of European idleness, because a larger proportion of Americans work. Between 1973 and 1998 the percentage of the American population in employment rose from 41 percent to 49 percent. But in Germany and France the percentage fell, ending up at 44 and 39 percent. Unemployment rates in most Northern European countries are also markedly higher than in the United States.

Then there are the strikes. Between 1992 and 2001, the Spanish economy lost, on average, 271 days per 1,000 employees as a result of strikes. For Denmark, Italy, Finland, Ireland and France, the figures range between 80 and 120 days, compared with fewer than 50 for the United States.

1,535 hours; by my count, that means that if the average German worked an 8-hour day 5 days a week, he or she would get . . . 14 weeks of vacation??? (Yes, I'm aware that part of the issue is shorter workdays and sick leave and part time jobs, but still).

Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:48 AM | Politics 2002-03 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Who Is Greg Packer?

Ann Coulter is your classic preaching-to-the-choir polemicist, a columnist who bypasses argument and goes straight to the invective (much like the New York Times' Maureen Dowd). Coulter can be very entertaining sometimes when she's locked on a deserving target, but she's justifiably viewed with some suspicion both for her rhetorical excesses and her sometimes cavalier attitude towards fairly and accurately presenting the facts.

Her recent and much-discussed expose of professional "man on the street" Greg Packer, though, is just good journalism:

Another average individual eager to get Hillary's book was Greg Packer, who was the centerpiece of the New York Times' "man on the street" interview about Hillary-mania. After being first in line for an autographed book at the Fifth Avenue Barnes & Noble, Packer gushed to the Times: "I'm a big fan of Hillary and Bill's. I want to change her mind about running for president. I want to be part of her campaign."

It was easy for the Times to spell Packer's name right because he is apparently the entire media's designated "man on the street" for all articles ever written. He has appeared in news stories more than 100 times as a random member of the public. Packer was quoted on his reaction to military strikes against Iraq; he was quoted at the St. Patrick's Day Parade, the Thanksgiving Day Parade and the Veterans' Day Parade. He was quoted at not one but two New Year's Eve celebrations at Times Square. He was quoted at the opening of a new "Star Wars" movie, at the opening of an H&M clothing store on Fifth Avenue and at the opening of the viewing stand at Ground Zero. He has been quoted at Yankees games, Mets games, Jets games even getting tickets for the Brooklyn Cyclones. He was quoted at a Clinton fund-raiser at Alec Baldwin's house in the Hamptons and the pope's visit to Giants stadium.

Are all reporters writing their stories from Jayson Blair's house?

(Mickey Kaus has more).

Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:41 AM | Politics 2002-03 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Following up on The Mad Hibernian's post below, the thing I always remember about David Brinkley -- even more than his dry, sarcastic wit -- was his funereal manner. Every time Brinkley popped up behind a news desk and started to speak, between his somber tone and pregnant pauses, I expected him to announce a death or a tragedy of some sort. It got to where you'd hear Brinkley come on and name someone:

BRINKLEY: Good Evening. President Reagan


(By this point, I've mentally inaugurated Vice President Bush and am thinking about who will replace him as VP)

today visited an elementary school . . .

Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:32 AM | Pop Culture | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
June 13, 2003
POLITICS: Teaching Hypothetical Average Students

The Boston Globe has a story about a terrible idea at Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School: "heterogeneous classrooms" mixing the best, worst and every other student in between in terms of ability, to cure the problem of "a pattern in which Cambridge's white students -- the minority in the school -- were succeeding while African-American and Hispanic students were falling farther behind."

Well, I'm sure they'll cure the first part . . . as one student puts it:

"The worst [teachers] are the ones who try to teach to the middle," says Lang. "Because there's no one there."

Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:08 PM | Politics 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
WAR: Special Forces

Cool story in today's Washington Post about the exploits of "Task Force 20," a Special Forces/Delta Force team that operated in Iraq over the last several months, including its reputed discovery of land mines rigged for use with bioweapons, its rescue of Pfc. Jessica Lynch, and "a bloody battle behind Iraqi lines to prevent a catastrophic release of floodwaters from the Haditha Dam."

Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:02 PM | War 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

A link to a classic, if you haven't read it: Conan O'Brien's commencement speech to the graduating class of 2000 at Harvard. (Link via the Corner). The speech is hilarious and even a little wise. Here's one thing that set Harvard apart from my alma mater, Holy Cross:

I was, without exaggeration, the ugliest picture in the Freshman Face book. When Harvard asked me for a picture the previous summer, I thought it was just for their records, so I literally jogged in the August heat to a passport photo office and sat for a morgue photo. To make matters worse, when the Face Book came out they put my picture next to Catherine Oxenberg, a stunning blonde actress who was accepted to the class of '85 but decided to defer admission so she could join the cast of "Dynasty." My photo would have looked bad on any page, but next to Catherine Oxenberg, I looked like a mackerel that had been in a car accident.

What this means, apparently, is that they went straight from O'Brien to Oxenberg, with no other O'Briens, and no O'Connors, no O'Learys, no O'Keefes, no O'Tooles . . . at Holy Cross, that was good for 2-3 pages in the campus phone book.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:42 PM | Pop Culture | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Godzilla Grounded

The prolific Aaron Gleeman has a good and thorough statistical examination of precisely why Matsui's production has failed to live up to his numbers in Japan. Bottom line: he's been hitting too many ground balls to be a major league power hitter.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:25 PM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BLOG: It's a Small Blogosphere After All

So on Tuesday I read an item by David Pinto pointing out a St. Louis Cardinals blog by "the Gunn brothers," and I go over to Redbird Nation to take a look, and sure enough, there's a Brian and Mark Gunn, at least one of whom noted that he'd been to college in New England . . . to make a long story short, it turns out that these are two guys I knew in college at Holy Cross, and I'd been completely unaware that they were out there running a baseball blog, and an excellent one at that. Go check it out.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:03 AM | Blog 2002-05 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
LAW: The Oldest Freshman

By tradition, the most junior Supreme Court justice gets stuck with a variety of menial obligations as a sort of hazing. But with no vacancies on the Court, Justice Breyer has been stuck in freshman hazing status for nine years. (Link via Pejman).

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:59 AM | Law 2002-04 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Summer With Scully

SI's Kostya Kennedy pays homage to Vin Scully, now in his 54th season broadcasting for the Dodgers.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:54 AM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
June 12, 2003
BASEBALL: Platoon Alomar

Yet again, a GM has been replaced, leaving Art Howe behind as a legacy. With only an interim GM in place, this leaves Howe temporarily in de facto charge of the team, as far as his authority with the players. Will he use it?

This is hardly news, but Roberto Alomar needs to quit switch-hitting and/or be platooned. Here's his Avg/Slg/OBP and cumulative splits since the start of 2002:

vsRHP: .294/.407/.371, 575 AB, 169 H, 33 2B, 4 3B, 8 HR, 69 BB
vsLHP: .188/.298/.253, 218 AB, 41 H, 7 2B, 1 3B, 5 HR, 17 BB

Alomar's noted as a guy the manager needs to kiss up to to a certain extent, but this is ridiculous; he's just killing the team playing against lefthanders. There's no shame in a veteran becoming a platoon player; Lou Whitaker and to some extent George Brett did it, and plenty of others have moved to something like a platoon role as they aged. Whether he can get Alomar to accept a new role -- or whether he even tries -- will say a lot about Howe.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:31 PM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Breaking News: Steve Phillips Fired!

I'm busy at work now, but I'll be following up with more analysis in the next few days as time permits. For now - Hooray!

UPDATE: Dan Lewis comments, here and here and here.

You can find my comments on the Steve Phillips Era as it unraveled (from May 2001 forward) here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 4:41 PM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Around the Horn

What a festival of great baseball on TV last night. You had the Yankees getting no-hit by six pitchers, including Octavio Dotel blowing away four Yankees in the 8th inning. I also got to see most of the Mets-Rangers game (including my first glimpse of Jose Reyes, since I heard Tuesday's game on the radio). Reyes looks like a skinnier Alfonso Soriano, with the high socks and the quickness, although he seems to be a more similar player to a Barry Larkin-type in his long-term, best-case upside. The Mets announcers had a fun stat: Jae Seo has thrown 7 or more innings while allowing 2 or fewer runs 4 starts in a row, the first Mets rookie to do so since Rick Aguilera; Seo is now the Mets' only starter who makes the team look like contenders when they take the field. Then there was the Red Sox mauling one-time hot prospect Brett Tomko, as well as the end of the Dodgers' dissection of the Tigers (man, is Kevin Brown ever back).

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:21 AM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Go Away Already

One of the joys of being a civil litigator is that my job gives me mechanisms to catch and expose lies by adversaries. To do that effectively, of course, you need to keep something of a 'grudge file' -- keep careful track of past statements in writing and orally (take good notes), and know when to pull it all out to expose flip-flops and outright whoppers. Sometimes you catch the other guy in an obvious one, and sometimes you just get to show some inconsistency.

Every now and then, though, you run across somebody who's such an exceptional and prolific liar that the job of keeping opposing counsel honest winds up all but overwhelming the actual litigating of the case -- the lies come in too fast and too varied, and require refutation that's too lengthy and detailed, to effectively rebut them all without the judge thinking you've gotten lost in some vendetta. After a while, this gets exhausting, and demoralizing.

This, basically, is how I feel about the Clintons at this point, particularly Hillary (Bill, thankfully, seems unlikely to wind up with any responsibility ever again). You need enormous reserves of energy to keep up with their serial deceptions; no matter how clearly you debunk something they or their defenders say, it pops back up a few years later and you need to go back to the file. And if you wade into a debate with their bitter-ender supporters, you need to go back to the grudge file to keep straight all the various charges (which is not to say everything pinned on the Clintons was true, but there's plenty enough there) or get accused of being some sort of fraud; if you do keep it all straight, they say you're obsessed and living in the past.

At least with litigation, I get paid to do this; I don't get paid to keep a grudge file on the Clintons, and I refuse to spend the time necessary to revisit again all those controversies. But I'm glad there are professionals out there who haven't forgotten. As for me, and I think a lot of conservatives, I just wish the Clintons would go away.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:10 AM | Politics 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
WAR: Flashback

Neo-what? Bill Buckley, nobody's neo-anything, banged the Iraq war drums in October 2001.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:57 AM | War 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Sauce For Who?

Byron York had a funny story last week about the Democrats' willingness to put their stock in Clinton-bashing Larry Klayman's Judicial Watch just to tar a GOP judicial nominee.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:55 AM | Politics 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
WAR: Zimbab-bulb

A scathing editorial at about Zimbabwe's current government and its complete denial of the economic havoc it has wrought. As ridiculous and mean-spirited as the 'reparations' movement is in the United States, there's a fair question as to whether it would have been proper to order more extensive reparations in the 1860s, when slaves and slaveholders still walked the earth; I tend to think "yes."

But Zimbabwe offers a counter-example; granted, the draconian assaults on white landowners are based on group-responsibility theories for recent race discrimination, rather than individual responsibility for slaveholding, but the end result is a country careening deeper into famine, tyranny and desperation as the nation's most productive farms are destroyed.

Winds of Change.Net has lots more from Africa, via AfricaPundit and other sources.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:51 AM | War 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Hatch 2004!

I've decided that Bob Graham is the Orrin Hatch of 2004. You remember Hatch - almost certainly the most qualified of the GOP presidential contenders in 2000, a distinguished and dignified senator of longstanding who spent his entire campaign mounting increasingly harsh attacks on Bill Clinton. Granted, they were justified, and I was certainly one of the people who argued at the time that a tougher line on the Clinton-Gore camp was a prerequsite to the job. But Hatch wound up expending some of his good will with the press for the benefit of a marginal campaign. (Jay Nordlinger takes a similar view).

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:41 AM | Politics 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POP CULTURE: Hackman Numbers

Here's a fun game if you're looking for time to kill -- what's your Gene Hackman Number? Real simple - just tick off how many of Hackman's movies you've seen, and "Hoosiers" only counts once no matter how many times you've seen it. (I think mine is 14).

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:38 AM | Pop Culture | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Richard Mellon Moyers

You may recall Kevin Drum's plea of a few weeks ago for "liberal cranks like [conservative Richard Mellon] Scaife willing to fund liberal think tanks?" Well, leaving aside the Sulzbergers, one such liberal crank has been thoroughly investigated by Stephen Hayes of The Weekly Standard: Bill Moyers. In fact, typically, Moyers does Scaife one better: he not only funds left-wing causes and conspiracy theories, he also showers them with taxpayer-funded publicity.

(I noted the last round of Hayes' battle with Moyers here).

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:33 AM | Politics 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
June 10, 2003
WAR: Dogs, Not Barking

Steven Den Beste does his usual "let's see what we can guess from what we don't know" routine about intelligence gathered from Iraqi captives; nobody does it better.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:44 PM | War 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POP CULTURE: Geek Alert!

(Not that I'm not one). For $19.95 per year to George Lucas, you can get:

* A personal SW-themed e-mail address, such as john or julie (The service will forward the e-mail to a subscriber's actual e-mail address.)

* Constant Webcam video from the set of the final prequel, Episode III, which begins filming next month in Australia.

* Access to the Star Wars: Clone Wars animated shorts once they begin appearing this fall on the Cartoon Network.

(Go to for details)

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:41 PM | Pop Culture | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
WAR: No Iraqaeda?

You know, the interesting thing about the NY Times' report that Al Qaeda captives deny working with Iraq is that they claim that bin Laden didn't want to work with Saddam, rather than the other way around. This hardly supports the "Saddam would never work with terrorists" school of thought.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:35 PM | War 2002-03 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Don Regan has died at the age of 84; Regan was a colorful character, although as with a lot of Reagan-era figures besides the President himself, I wasn't really old enough at the time to judge the man independently of his caricatures in the press.

Regan took up painting in his retirement:

"After Wall Street and the government, I decided there had to be more to
life than the stock market, golf and drinking," he said in explaining his
new passion for landscape painting.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:32 PM | Politics 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Team Defense

David Pinto has a great stat: Runs Created/27 outs against each team's defense, a measure that takes account (as most defensive measures don't) of extra base hits allowed. Go check it out.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:19 PM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
BLOG: In The Cup

Sergeant Stryker reminds me of another reason why I never joined the Army.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:08 PM | Blog 2002-05 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Number 299 . . . Number 299 . . .

Think Clemens has had problems getting to 300 wins? Well, I remember Gary Carter's odyssey to 300 homers in 1988: he needed 9 entering 1988, after hitting 32, 24, and 20 the prior 3 seasons. Carter started hot, with 7 homers through April 26, bringing him to 298 (number 298 was off Tom Glavine); but number 299 didn't come until May 16, and Carter, staying in the lineup most of the way, slogged through a dismal 3-month summer drought before cracking Number 300 on August 11 off Al Nipper at Wrigley Field. (In Carter's case, this was a sign of the end; he hit just 2 more homers in 1988, and never again reached 10 homers or 30 RBI in a season).

Mike's Baseball Rants has a better parallel: Early Wynn's long haul to 300 (among other things, he ended a season at 299). (It's the second item down at the moment; the direct link should be here, but !%^$^#! Blogger's permalinks are busted again).

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:47 AM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
LAW: Hate Crimes

I'd been meaning to post on this point for some time, and recent posts by Eugene Volokh and Kevin Drum got me thinking again about hate crimes. Hold on to your hats, because for the first and perhaps last time, I'm going to take the more liberal position than Kevin Drum. What I propose, in fact, is a modification of hate crimes laws to fit comfortably with conservative principles as well as with the realities of our times, in which virulent and dangerous hatreds have once again become a widespread concern.

The conservative case against laws targeting "hate crimes" (for today, I'll stick to violent crimes; laws against things like cross burning are another issue) boils down to the following objections:

1. It's frightening to have the government punish people for what they think, and hate crimes cases wind up involving too much evidence about the defendant's opinions and motives and what books he reads.
2. Hate crimes statutes can easily be abused to pick on unpopular or controversial defendants or to reach things that only a hardened leftist would think of as "hate."
3. Hate crimes are an excuse for providing unequal protection of the law; we should be in the business of punishing and discouraging all crimes, not just crimes against "protected classes".
4. Relatedly, hate crimes laws draw us into unnecessary debates about who should be specially protected by the law. Consider the persistent debate over whether hate crimes statutes should extend to crimes against gays.
5. Hate crimes laws wind up violating the spirit of the important constitutional policy against double jeopardy (even if they don't technically violate the Fifth Amendment), and are often used to get a "second bite at the apple" for unpopular criminal defendants in high-profile cases.
6. In other cases, hate crimes laws are totally unnecessary; in Texas, as George W. Bush pointed out in the 2000 presidential debates, 2 of the 3 men convicted in the dragging death of James Byrd were sentenced to death, and you can't well add to that punishment.

All these are serious objections, but I think that some of them beg the question and others can be resolved through changes in the statutes. I did a 180-degree reversal on hate crimes after September 11, because it became clear to me that the harm targeted by the hate crimes statutes is precisely the same as the harm caused by terrorism: in addition to the violence itself, hate crimes, by their very nature -- the targeting of random persons for violence because of some distinguishing characteristic, such as race -- cause harm to the fabric of society as a whole, both by spreading fear among people similarly situated to the victim and by sowing mutual suspicion and resentment.

The "added fear" factor is really hard to deny. If you were a black man living in Jasper, Texas, and you basically trusted white people (as Dorothy Rabinowitz pointed out in Friday's Wall Street Journal, Byrd apparently voluntarily got in the truck with a couple of white guys who'd been drinking), you would almost certainly have felt more afraid in the aftermath of that crime; same for a Jew in Crown Heights after Yankel Rosenbaum was murdered, or a gay man in Wyoming after the Mathew Shepard murder. While it's true of any crime that it spreads fear, these crimes -- much like acts of terror like the DC sniper or the anthrax scare -- made certain people more afraid to go out in public in their own communities because they feared that they could be targeted next, and did so immediately (as opposed to more run-of-the-mill crimes that cause fear mostly as a matter of accumulation).

That, alone, is why the "unequal protection" argument begs the question; it's always true that the criminal law treats people unequally when it punishes a similar act more harshly because it was committed in circumstances that were likely to cause greater harm.

As for double jeopardy, hate crimes re-prosections have passed constitutional muster under a Supreme Court decision called Blockburger and its progeny because the laws have different statutory elements (i.e., different things need to be proved than for the underlying crime). But if we agree that multiple prosections are bad (and there are some counter-arguments on this point, although I'm not a big fan of them), there's no reason to be limited to the bare minimum protection provided by the constitution; a statute can easily be written to say that the "hate crime" statute can not be used in a subsequent prosection where there has been a prior prosection based on the same act or transaction, regardless of the charges.

The "it's not necessary" objection was useful for the James Byrd case, but it's true that in some cases, an added punishment will have some effect, particularly where the crime in question is a lower-level assault.

The remainder of the objections are aimed at the fact that we presently define hate crimes by (1) the defendant's actual motivation and (2) a laundry list of divisions: race, gender, religion, etc. I think I have a solution to this, although you might play with the language a bit to get it just right:

A person shall be guilty of a 'hate crime' and eligible for a higher sentence if he or she commits (one of a list of specified crimes), under circumstances that would lead a reasonable person to conclude that he or she intentionally selected the victim based upon an identifiable or perceived personal characteristic.

That's it. Just look at the circumstances of the crime, not the defendant's motive or history of using racial slurs or reading nasty literature; if the circumstances (statements made, the random nature of the selection of a stranger to victimize, perhaps the absence of another logical motive like robbery or a personal animus) would lead a reasonable person to conclude that this was a hate crime, then it was. You might consider writing in an express exclusion for robberies or domestic crimes, but I think in most cases that would be unnecessary.

As for who the laws "protect," the definition of "an identifiable or perceived personal characteristic" could be left as well to the courts, or simply to the common sense of juries, without need to create specific "protected classes" by legislation. The defendant picked on fat guys, or lesbians, or people with Mohawk haircuts? It's a hate crime. Doesn't matter if the classification is otherwise a legally suspect one or an immutable characteristic; doesn't matter which "side" of the line the victim was on; doesn't matter if the victim really was Jewish or gay or a Red Sox fan; if somebody appears to have targeted the victim because of some trait or characteristic, then a stiffer penalty applies because of the unique potential for spreading fear through such crimes.

Yes, the definition of the crime is still rather elastic, but that's true of a lot of laws; I suspect that refocusing the statute on the appearance of the crime to a reasonable person, and away from proof of subjective motivation, would remove a lot of the hazard of an Orwellian redefinition of "hate." I believe this is an elegant solution to the problem of hate crimes, and I submit that this is a type of hate crimes law that conservatives and libertarians could support.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:02 AM | Law 2002-04 | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
June 9, 2003
BASEBALL: Another Reason To Vote For Bush

The Hated Yankees haven't won a World Series with a Republican in the White House since 1958. In fact -- you may have seen some variant on this stat over the years -- the Yankees won their first pennant in 1921, and since then:

Democratic Administrations: 40 seasons, 19-3 in the World Series
Republican Administrations: 42 seasons, 7-9 in the World Series

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:08 AM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)
June 8, 2003
LAW/POLITICS: Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

Stuart Buck wonders why the Democrats are sending up signals that they intend to pitch a bitter battle over Supreme Court nominees no matter who Bush nominates. There's an important point here: if Bush is convinced that he faces a massive battle no matter who he puts up, then his only incentive to pick a more 'moderate' candidate is if he faces defections from Republicans. The Dems certainly give no reason to suspect that they will give Bush any credit no matter what he does.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:53 PM | Law 2002-04 • | Politics 2002-03 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Groundball/Flyball Platooning

If you're a subscriber, I'd highly recommend this Baseball Prospectus piece by Nate Silver & Gary Huckaby from a few weeks back about platooning pitchers and hitters by groundball/flyball tendency matchups (although I assume they weren't referring to me with the line about how "in terms of practical application on a real life baseball team, a 'sabermetric' biography of the 1952 Yankees isn't particularly useful").

In the end, the Huckaby/Silver analysis isn't terribly useful either, since they don't come up with a great big effect to suggest anything more radical than "if you throw groundball pitchers against groundball hitters, you won't give up a lot of home runs." But it's still an interesting look at the issue.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:49 PM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Ryne Karros

Random thought from tonight's Yanks-Cubs game; doesn't Eric Karros, in a Cubs uniform, look an awful lot like Ryne Sandberg?

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:42 PM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

My wife and I took the kids to see Finding Nemo yesterday morning, and I have to give it an enthusiastic thumbs-up [Ed. - Isn't the "thumbs up" copyrighted to Siskel and Ebert? Ask me when I start making money off movie reviews] -- the movie was a bit scary for my daughter's age (not quite 4), but it was fun and funny, especially the scenes with the seagulls.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:03 PM | Pop Culture | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
WAR: WMD Lies?

Neither of these is news, since Instapundit and others have linked to both, but this Robert Kagan op-ed in the Washington Post and Rich Lowry's recent syndicated column both point out the widespread nature of intelligence estimates showing that Saddam had biological and chemical weapons and was working on a nuclear program. These estimates were, to one extent or another, pushed or believed by the Clinton Administration, the Blair Government in England, the UN (including Hans Blix), the French and the Germans, and as Kagan points out, they were based in part on admissions dragged out of Saddam's own regime.

There are still serious unanswered questions about the quality of our intelligence, and I suppose it's a fair enough point to question whether the Bush Administration too often gave the benefit of the doubt to intelligence that possibly showed risks or that came from questionable sources. But remember:

1. That's a far less damning charge than inventing the whole thing.

2. More importantly: do the Democrats really want to run against Bush on the platform of "we need a president who will give the benefit of the doubt to complacency about threats to the U.S."? The Bush Administration, when given the chance, chose to connect the dots rather than run the risk of being catastrophically wrong. Given the nature of intelligence, sometimes those are the only available choices: believe, or disbelieve, and act accordingly. Who will say that it was wrong to choose to believe that the evidence we were getting was consistent with everything that the international community had learned over 12 years, when the alternative was believing in a regime that had never shown the slightest commitment to truth or human decency?

Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:13 AM | War 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
June 7, 2003
WAR/LAW: War Profits For HLS?

I meant to blog about this when I got it a couple of months ago: of all the examples I've seen of shameless attempts to profit from the war in Iraq, few of them irritated me more than a letter I received that used the war as an excuse to ask for money for Harvard Law School. Of course, just asking for money's not enough; HLS has to use the occasion to ask for $1000 donation. The text of the letter is scanned below:

Read More »

Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:16 PM | Law 2002-04 • | War 2002-03 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
WAR: Morale

Word comes in that the head of the U.S. Naval Academy has resigned after what seems like a fairly minor run-in with a subordinate . . . how different is the military from the rest of the world when you can be forced to resign for ''general failure to promote good morale''?

Then again, the Weekly Standard has a great take on morale at the New York Times after the fall of the old regime.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:04 PM | War 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

David Pinto says Jung Bong is "a tough Bong to get a hit off."

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:58 PM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
POP CULTURE: Martha, Martha, Martha

I have to say that I don't have a strong stake either way in the Martha Stewart saga; I've never been interested in her show or her products simply because I'm not much interested in the subjects of how to entertain, how to fix up your home, etc.

Mark Steyn, oddly enough, has some fond memories of Martha, and penned a sympathetic piece in the Wall Street Journal on Friday (subscription only). Steyn is undoubtedly correct that the "Martha brand" of products can't really be separated from Martha the personality; her company will survive only if she, in some sense, survives.

Steyn seems to think that Martha might come out of the criminal case OK in the end, but personally I suspect that Martha The Cottage Industry will come out OK even if Martha winds up serving jail time; I'd suggest my own analogy -- to Marv Albert. Marv, as you may remember, was convicted in an incredibly ugly case a few years back (I seem to recall it involved some sort of sex-related assault charge, with all sorts of sordid testimony about Marv biting his girlfriend). Today, he's back doing Knick games. And he's back, not because the public thought he was innocent or forgave his crimes; not because we're a particularly benevolent society or Marv a particularly beloved figure. He's back for one reason: he calls a good basketball game. And once he'd paid his debt to society, people wanted to hear Marv Albert do basketball again.

That's how it may be with Martha. Maybe she's not loved, and maybe she's not innocent; but she's good at what she does, and a great many people watch her show and buy her magazine and her products because people believe that Martha Stewart is a good guide to homemaking. And, once a decent interval has passed, they'll still feel that way.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:54 PM | Pop Culture | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BLOG: Ricky's Got Some 'Splainin'

Now that I've resolved the technical difficulties that kept my entries from posting the past 2 days (the numerical IP address for this site has changed, so from now on you should make sure to come here through, it's time to wish a Happy Blogiversary to Ricky West at North Georgia Dogma.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:37 PM | Blog 2002-05 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BLOG: The Big Four?

Much commentary lately on Hugh Hewitt's designation of Instapundit, Andrew Sullivan, Mickey Kaus, and The Volokh Conspiracy as the "Big Four" blogs that drive news cycles. I have to disagree with his selection on one point; I don't tend to think of the Volokh site as one of the real news-cycle-driving sites like Sullivan, Instapundit, Kaus and Josh Marshall (Hewitt cites Marshall, but as the lone liberal in the group and a Big Media guy in his own right, via his connection with The Washington Monthly, Marshall has proven his ability to set news agendas). Maybe it's just me, but the Volokh site is more reflective, less apt to pile onto hot stories just to spread news on them, and more lawyerly; I go there for analysis, not news.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 4:28 PM | Blog 2002-05 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BLOG: How Novel Is Google?

I've had nearly no time to post this week -- I returned from my reunion to a crisis at work that has expanded to fill all available time and then some. But I did see one item that I wanted to comment on: Glenn Reynolds' latest Tech Central Station column. What bugged me is Reynolds' sense that Google was really some sort of radical innovation in its ability to search and retrieve information across the Web.

The reason I found this odd is that I'd encountered the kind of searchability found in Google before I'd ever heard of the Internet -- on Westlaw and LEXIS/NEXIS, the online legal search engines, which for many years have offered the ability to log on and search not only legal resources but news sources as well. They're expensive as sin, but the services give free access to law students (to get us hooked), so while I first saw the internet in 1996, I'd already spent 3 years surfing the newsgathering features of Westlaw online.

Which is to take nothing from Google, which searches a much vaster wilderness of web pages and does so at no charge to the reader. But when Google came out, my reaction wasn't "wow, how can they do this?" It was "finally, the web has a search engine that rivals what you can get on Westlaw."

Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:28 AM | Blog 2002-05 | TrackBack (0)
June 4, 2003

Christmas, or at least Father's Day, came early this year for Rick Reilly, with the discovery that his antagonist, Sammy Sosa, was caught with a corked bat. Call me cynical in my old age, but I'm just not that scandalized. Does Sosa deserve punishment? Yes. Break the rules, get caught, you have to be punished. But people have used corked bats before, and gotten away with it for a long time - the ones we know of (who eventually got caught somehow) include Albert Belle and Graig Nettles, and Bill James noted some evidence in the last Historical Abstract to suggest that Babe Ruth corked his bat. Everybody's talking about 300-game winners, but we know that Gaylord Perry and Don Sutton defaced the baseball, and other 300-game winners may have as well, including Nolan Ryan. Certainly, Whitey Ford did.

What's more interesting to me is this: a team that wants to give Sosa a hard time in the future can relentlessly check his bats. If they don't, it may be due to an unspoken rule about harassing adversaries -- but it could also suggest that there's more than a few managers out there who don't want their own top slugger's bat checked.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:45 AM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)
June 2, 2003
POLITICS: He's No Friend Of Mine!

An amusing correction: somebody evidently bothered to write in to Slate to correct the misimpression that NY Times reporter James Bennet was a friend of Sidney Blumenthal. I don't think I've ever seen a correction before that denied a friendship.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:43 PM | Politics 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
WAR: Not All WMD Are Equal

Josh Marshall has one good point: while all "weapons of mass destruction" are bad and dangerous, there are real differences between chemical, biological, and the big daddy, nuclear, weapons, and the three really shouldn't be routinely lumped together.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:39 PM | War 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
HISTORY/WAR: History of Israel

The folks over at Setting the World to Rights are still going strong with their pro-Israel but warts-and-all history-of-Israel series; the first chapter covered 70AD-1921, and chapters 2-5 cover 1923-56. There was some interesting stuff there I hadn't known, including some vivid accounts of the 1948 war. I'm sure some of their accounts are controversial -- in Israel, everything's controversial -- but it reads like a good primer if you're unfamiliar with the history.

Another source that looks worth an exploration (if a bit popup-infested) is the online Encyclopedia of the Orient (so-called, but focusing on the Middle East and North Africa). I've no idea if this is a fair or reliable source, but it does appear to have some pretensions to comprehensiveness.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:29 PM | History • | War 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POP CULTURE: Changing Landmarks

The New York Philharmonic moves from Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center to Carnegie Hall.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:14 PM | Pop Culture | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
WAR: Getting There

One little milestone today: a replacement law school diploma came in the mail, finally taking the place of the one I lost at the Trade Center. Like so many things about the road back from September 11, it's a small step back towards the old normal; who knows when we'll finally get there?

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:10 PM | War 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BLOG: Class of 1993

Like Orin Kerr and Jacob Levy, I was away at my 10-year college reunion this weekend, at Holy Cross; co-blogger Kiner's Korner (our Boston correspondent) was in attendance as well. Blogging should return as usual in a day or two, about the same time my legs recover from a traditional reunion game of softball.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:02 PM | Blog 2002-05 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)