Baseball Crank
"It gets late early around here." - Yogi Berra
June 30, 2009
BASEBALL: Not Working

Joe Posnanski ponders, at his usual length, how the apparently knowledgeable people running the Royals ended up - through a combination of poor decisions, lack of resources and bad luck - taking a very bad offensive team and making it progressively worse each of the past two seasons.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:40 PM | Baseball 2009 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: The Favor Factory

I had meant to link earlier to Francis Cianfrocca's piece on the cap-and-trade bill and how - from what little anyone knows of what's in it - it vastly expands the federal government's role in doling out rewards and punishments to particular private businesses, a role that inherently brings with it a cesspool of corruption. Also worth noting is the Democrats' strategy of trying to blitz through Congress as many things as possible at once so as to minimize the possibility of public debate (the cap and trade vote being held while the press was covering the Michael Jackson story).

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:28 PM | Politics 2009 | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)
BUSINESS: The Salesman

Bob Hahn has some reflections on Billy Mays.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:23 PM | Business | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: No-Hittable, Part II

wezen-ball looks at the pitchers who took the most no-hitters into the 7th inning. H/T Unsurprisingly, Nolan Ryan laps the field, while Don Sutton leads among guys who never closed the deal. Interesting to see Tim Wakefield's name on the honorable mentions.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:07 PM | Baseball 2009 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: No-Hittable

Chris Jaffe looks at the 10 hardest and 10 easiest lineups ever no-hit. The Nomo no-hitter might go to #1 if you only looked at home batting averages, but #1 is indeed hard to top, especially since it was no-hit by a guy who that season struck out 83 batters while allowing 294 hits.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:21 AM | Baseball 2009 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
June 26, 2009
POLITICS: Inspection

Pejman looks further at the growing scandal involving the Obama Administration's purging of Inspectors General who deliver bad news. John Kass explains why this is completely consistent with Obama's Chicago background.

Seriously, anybody who expected Obama wouldn't behave like this needed their head examined.

This whole flap, by the way, underscores one of my longstanding arguments, which is that the various Inspectors General and periodic should be replaced by a single Cabinet-level official charged with investigations of public integrity. A strong, prominent IG would have a couple of institutional advantages: harder to fire by virtue of his or her prominence, yet still directly accountable to the President; able to bring the perspective that is lacking in ad hoc special prosecutors; able to remove public integrity cases from DOJ, freeing up the Attorney General to focus on less politically-charged law enforcement priorities. Granted, this means yet another Cabinet department, but even aside from the issue of eliminating departments, you could make room by combining a bunch of the currently redundant departments, like Commerce and Labor or Interior and Energy.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:00 PM | Politics 2009 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
POP CULTURE: Wacko Jacko Not Coming Backo

I'd always expected Michael Jackson to go by slipping into the Cracks of Doom while clutching his Precious....Seriously, I never had any sympathy for him, given that he was a pedophile or something very like it (leave for another day the people who thought it was a good idea to send their children over to his house), but Jackson was a figure deserving mainly of pity. His family, especially his father, wrecked him, and he spent most of his life mutilating himself and indulging his increasingly bizarre fixations, and seeking the company of children, old women, animals, basically anyone but adults who could have dealt with him as a peer. I have to wonder if his death was more or less intentional, especially given some of the financial problems the Wall Street Journal had been reporting he'd been having lately.

Musically, Jackson wasn't my cup of tea - I loathed him when he was big in 1983, and other than some of the pure Motown-ish Jackson 5 stuff, once the craze was gone the only one of his songs I liked (which is on my iPod) was "Beat It," his collaboration with Eddie Van Halen, which really does rock after all these years. But I came to appreciate the fact that he was a great musical talent and, in his day, a great entertainer. But his personal wierdness did that in as well - an entertainer needs some sort of connection with the audience, and after Thriller, Jackson was just too bizarre for anybody to identify with or connect with him at all. Smeagol was long gone by then.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:30 AM | Pop Culture | Comments (16) | TrackBack (0)
June 25, 2009
POLITICS: Sanford Steps Out, But The Battle Continues

Perhaps the most telling moment in the past few days' controversy over South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford's absence and subsequent revelation that he'd been visiting his mistress in Argentina came during the period when his staff was putting out the story that Sanford was hiking the Appalachian Trail, and the Democratic National Committee rushed out a press release blaring that the Trail had received stimulus money, and therefore Sanford - as an ardent opponent of the stimulus bill - was a hypocrite for walking on ground that had been touched by Obama's pork-barrel bill. Once the reach of the federal fisc had touched that ground, no possible alternative is permissible but to agree with the political dictates of the hand that holds those purse strings.

The incident speaks volumes about the peril the nation faces to its way of life, and the depth of the trust Sanford breached by engaging in a reckless affair at a time when he was one of the small handful of people in the country well-positioned to do something to stop it.

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Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:00 PM | Politics 2009 | Comments (29) | TrackBack (0)
June 24, 2009
POLITICS: Questions That Have Very Obvious Answers

This is from Obama's press conference yesterday:

President Barack Obama on Tuesday squared off with the insurance lobby over industry charges that a government health plan he backs would dismantle the employer coverage Americans have relied on for a half-century and overtake the system....

"If private insurers say that the marketplace provides the best quality health care ... then why is it that the government, which they say can't run anything, suddenly is going to drive them out of business?" Obama said in response to a question at a White House news conference.

"That's not logical," he scoffed, responding to an industry warning that government competition would destabilize the employer system that now covers more than 160 million people.

As usual when Obama has to respond to a serious criticism, he acts like a snarky left-wing blogger rather than a serious adult, throwing off a one-liner that seems to his die-hard supporters like a clever parody of Republican arguments but doesn't stand up to even the most minimal of scrutiny. Typically, it's pointless to debate whether Obama is being astoundingly ignorant or deliberately mendacious; the point is that no sane person could defend his response. Daffyd offers a long list of screamingly obvious ways in which the private sector would be unable to compete with a government plan even though the government plan is inefficiently run, including the obvious-to-everyone-but-Obama fact that a profit-making enterprise has to make a profit, whereas a government agency or government-sponsored entity can afford to lose money pretty much indefinitely (Francis Cianfrocca points out to me that the proposed new healthcare GSE, which he refers to as the Consumer Health Management Corporation or "Charlie Mac," would start with something on the order of $10 billion in capitalization, many multiples larger than the market cap of even large insurers, and with an endless credit line from Uncle Sam). There is even - you may know this, but presumably Obama does not - a whole body of antitrust law dedicated to preventing large companies in certain circumstances from driving competitors out of business by undercutting their prices to sell at a loss, then jacking prices up when the competition is dead and buried. Profit-making private entities don't actually act like that very often, for obvious reasons: but governments can and do, at the taxpayer's expense. As Phil Klein notes, one of the main arguments by supporters of the government plan is that it will use its vast size to obtain cost savings at the expense of health care providers (doctors, hospitals, drug companies, all of which are presumed to continue providing the same level of goods and services without regard to profit motive), cost savings that far smaller private insurers could not obtain. That's an argument Obama himself has made repeatedly, yet he now professes ignorance of it. Because, of course, he retains at all times the confidence that nobody will ever call him on this sort of thing.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:08 PM | Politics 2009 | Comments (18) | TrackBack (0)

Irony alert: Brad Pitt's film version of Moneyball appears to have been cut from the roster, presumably to save money.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:56 AM | Baseball 2009 • | Pop Culture | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Rich Lederer has an excellent post breaking down MLB starting pitchers this season by strikeouts per 100 pitches, which is a nice way of correlating the ability to get strikeouts with pitch efficiency. You can really see what a great year Javier Vazquez is having, as well as one of the year's most significant stories, the development of Justin Verlander. On the down side, Mike Pelfrey is way at the bottom of the list (of course, Pelfrey's groundball tendencies mean he doesn't need a great K rate to win, but he has to do better than this).

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:01 AM | Baseball 2009 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
June 23, 2009
POP CULTURE: "The Most Important Instrument"

I don't read interviews with Bruce Springsteen all that much anymore - although Bruce's music is still mostly only vaguely political, as I discussed at some length back in 2002, in recent years he's gotten sufficiently actively partisan that I prefer to just listen to the music and tune out the politics. But this interview has some telling (if in a few places overly grandiose) musings on the thing that - other than the music itself - I've always loved and admired about the Boss, and that's the fact that the man truly gives a damn about connecting with his audience, and works at it, which is why he remains the best live showman in the business:

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Posted by Baseball Crank at 3:48 PM | Pop Culture | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Through The Looking Glass With Andrew Sullivan

My always-worth-reading New Ledger colleague, Christopher Badeaux, has the definitive and exhaustive profile of Andrew Sullivan's work and the obsessions that have defined him as a writer and wasted so much of Sullivan's prodigious writing talents. You'll want to print this one out and digest it at leisure. Here's the opening:

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Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:23 PM | Politics 2009 | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
June 22, 2009
WAR: Wrong Way Rules of Engagement

New Rules of Engagement

As a general matter, while I write a fair amount about national security strategy, I'm usually hesitant to wade into military tactics, a subject best left to the professionals. Even among those who know their stuff, military tactical decisions often involve difficult tradeoffs on which reasonable people can and do disagree, plus people who lack a military background (as I do) often make hilarious mistakes when attempting to lay out the facts of such stories, let alone dissect them, without running them by someone who knows their stuff. I'd prefer to avoid the kind of armchair generalship we had among so many on the Left during the Bush years who were hair-trigger quick to accuse U.S. tactical decisions of being (1) incompetent or (2) atrocities.

All that being said, I find myself utterly baffled by this report from the Associated Press on comments made by and on behalf of the new commanding officer in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, and his spokesman, Rear Adm. Greg Smith, and of course I have to wonder if the order comes from McChrystal or originates higher up the chain of command from the political branches:

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Posted by Baseball Crank at 2:21 PM | War 2007-14 | Comments (22) | TrackBack (0)
June 21, 2009
POP CULTURE: Democracy's Pop Star

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I'd recently gotten into the music of Kelly Clarkson. Well, I ended up digging up enough material on her to turn out a fairly exhaustive profile for The New Ledger of her formula for success and place in the culture (consider it a counterbalance to all the Bob Dylan content on the site). I've always had a soft spot for people who made a career path where one didn't exist before, and Clarkson isn't quite like anybody else in the music business. I also came to the conclusion that she is, with the exception of Justin Timberlake, probably the naturally funniest person in the music business.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:55 PM | Pop Culture | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)
June 19, 2009
WAR: The Biggest Domino

I know it's redundant to tell people to read Krauthammer - really, you are doing Friday wrong if you don't read his column every week - but he boils down the essential stakes in Iran neatly, and reminds us that this isn't just about Ahmadenijad vs Mousavi. Samples:

[T]his incipient revolution is no longer about the election. Obama totally misses the point. The election allowed the political space and provided the spark for the eruption of anti-regime fervor that has been simmering for years and awaiting its moment. But people aren't dying in the street because they want a recount of hanging chads in suburban Isfahan. They want to bring down the tyrannical, misogynist, corrupt theocracy that has imposed itself with the very baton-wielding goons that today attack the demonstrators.

As Bill Clinton might put it: it's the mullahs, stupid. Krauthammer, as always, looks at this from the broader perspective of regional/global strategic dynamics. The stakes, if the regime falls:

Imagine the repercussions. It would mark a decisive blow to Islamist radicalism, of which Iran today is not just standard-bearer and model, but financier and arms supplier. It would do to Islamism what the collapse of the Soviet Union did to communism -- leave it forever spent and discredited.

In the region, it would launch a second Arab spring. The first in 2005 -- the expulsion of Syria from Lebanon, the first elections in Iraq and early liberalization in the Gulf states and Egypt -- was aborted by a fierce counterattack from the forces of repression and reaction, led and funded by Iran.

Now, with Hezbollah having lost elections in Lebanon and with Iraq establishing the institutions of a young democracy, the fall of the Islamist dictatorship in Iran would have an electric and contagious effect. The exception -- Iraq and Lebanon -- becomes the rule. Democracy becomes the wave. Syria becomes isolated; Hezbollah and Hamas, patronless. The entire trajectory of the region is reversed.

All hangs in the balance.

Krauthammer does oversimplify a bit; there are forces in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan that are also crucial to the counterrevolution against democratizing and liberalizing the region. But in neither of those states do the reactionaries have full control of the government the way they do in Iran (internal Saudi and Pakistani politics being deeply Byzantine), and changing the Iranian regime would put those forces in a much weaker position within their own states in the same way it would isolate Syria.

As Krauthammer notes, and as I discussed yesterday, Obama is on the wrong side of this - not in the Ahmadenijad vs Mousavi dispute, on which he's properly neutral, but on the broader people vs mullahs battle, in which his tepid responses and olive branches to the mullahs are effectively placing him on the side of the billy clubs. The House just voted 405-1 to "condemn" repression in Iran and stand with the dissidents; only Ron Paul, who votes against these things as a matter of course, sided with the mullahs and the White House.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:44 PM | War 2007-14 | Comments (35) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS/LAW: The More Things Change...

Leon Wolf has some fun explaining why President Obama's actions in the Inspector General firing scandal show Obama relying on the Unitary Executive Theory.

Not that there's anything wrong with that; we conservatives have been standing up for Justice Scalia's view of the unitary nature of executive power - and the democratic accountability it promotes - for years. It's the people who blathered about it during the Bush years who didn't know what they were talking about, and now have to pretend that they were in favor of this kind of thing all along, much the way they only learned to despise the Independent Counsel when they found themselves on the receiving end of it.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:18 AM | Law 2009-14 • | Politics 2009 | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
June 18, 2009
POLITICS: Hey, Sure, But This Time It Will Work!

Obama's press secretary can't name a single country where a single-payer health care system actually works well.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 5:49 PM | Politics 2009 | Comments (10) | TrackBack (0)
WAR: Say Goodbye To Cairo

The Obama Administration's response to protests against the Iranian regime's contempt for even its own thin facade of democracy has been markedly muted and tentative; even the French Government has spoken out more clearly against the fraudulence of the presidential election and the mullahs' suppression of the Iranian people than has President Obama. One conclusion we can draw from Obama's failure to offer support for the Iranian people against their theocrat masters is that it eviscerates the entire point of his Cairo speech to the 'Muslim world'.

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Posted by Baseball Crank at 1:00 PM | Politics 2009 • | War 2007-14 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Scapegoat

I'm as disappointed as the next guy with how things have gone for the Mets this season, but I seriously can't believe people are starting to call for Jerry Manuel's head. I don't love Manuel as a manager, and yes, like his predecessor he's on some thin ice after a late-season collapse (albeit a slightly less epic one in 2008 than in 2007). But really, what more could the man have done this year? It's not Manuel's fault that Reyes, Delgado, Church, Schneider and occasionally Beltran have been injured. It's not Manuel's fault that Perez, Putz, Pelfrey and Maine have as well. It's not Manuel's fault the team has no legitimate corner outfielders, an overpaid, aging slap hitter at second base and little offense from the catching position. All things considered, this team could be doing a lot worse with all the adversity.

If anybody deserves to be sacked, it's the training staff. You can't eliminate injuries, but the Mets rather persistently seem to have trouble diagnosing them and getting people back in the lineup quickly without getting reinjured. Maybe that goes higher up the organization than the trainers, but dammit Jim, Manuel's a manager, not a doctor.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:56 AM | Baseball 2009 | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)
June 17, 2009
WAR: Put Not Your Faith In Princes

Why theocracy doesn't function well in a crisis.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:56 PM | War 2007-14 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
June 16, 2009

Mary Katherine Ham on Obama's inability to let go of the media not being unanimous in its fawning adoration of him.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:09 PM | Politics 2009 | Comments (12) | TrackBack (0)
BLOG: Now This Is A Car Review

H/T Erick Erickson.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:34 AM | Blog 2006-14 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
POP CULTURE: Democracy's Pop Star: Kelly Clarkson

Kelly Clarkson

When American Idol debuted in the summer of 2002, it was not a complete novelty. Star-making talent competitions have existed throughout TV history (remember Star Search?), and in fact Idol was itself spun off from Simon Cowell's short-lived Pop Idol in the UK. But Idol's colossal media footprint and massive voting base give its winners a huge and unprecedented head start in built-in popular endorsement before they've ever released a single song. Reliable vote totals are hard to come by, and viewers can vote multiple times, but compare estimates ranging from 20 million to 100 million votes for final episodes to the 100-120 million votes cast in recent presidential elections; the fact that the comparison can even be contemplated is proof of a popular phenomenon in an age when TV shows and the music business alike are feeling the splintering of the mass shared audiences of the second half of the 20th century.

But even after Idol established itself as a TV phenomenon, the question remained: would artists popularly elected by a television audience match the success of those chosen and cultivated by record company executives, radio programming directors, critics, clubs, concert promoters and other traditional gatekeepers? Would musical democracy provide a continuing pipeline of new talent, or would it just be a TV gimmick, its products treated as a sideshow by the music world?

The answer, seven years into the show's run, is that it can be done. The overall record has been mixed; Idol has produced plenty of flops, and often the winners have gone on to less success than the runners-up, but the show has turned out enough real stars to lend the process some credibility. More than anyone else, the burden of earning that credibility for the show from scratch was carried on the diminutive shoulders of Idol's own would-be George Washington, its first winner, Kelly Clarkson. A look at her success provides some important lessons about turning an initial wave of goodwill into a durable popular fan base.

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Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:41 AM | Pop Culture | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
June 15, 2009
POLITICS: Third Time The Charm?

High on the list of states where the GOP needs to rebuild its credibility and has a realistic chance to do so is Wisconsin, whose two-term Democratic Governor, Jim Doyle, is seeking a third term in 2010 (no Democrat has ever won three terms as Governor of Wisconsin). The state of Tommy Thompson's Governorship was part of the great ferment of GOP reform in the Upper Midwest in the 1990s, and despite Democratic sweeps of the state in the past decade, many statewide races have been very close (George W. Bush lost Wisconsin by a razor-thin margin in 2004). If the climate has turned against the Democrats by 2010, this is a state that should be a prime target. For his part, Doyle pushed for billions in new taxes in 2007 after running on a no-new-taxes campaign in 2006, and now faces huge budget deficits. CQ reports that the polls are showing his weakness:

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Posted by Baseball Crank at 5:41 PM | Politics 2009 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
June 13, 2009
WAR: In Praise of Chaos In Iran

Iran, we are told, is on the edge of, if not sliding immediately into, chaos. Both sides of the presidential election have claimed not only victory but landslide victory, and as happens in such cases in states that are not genuine democracies, the candidate who is out of power has apparently found himself under arrest, and the population is edging from restive to explosive. The usual voices of the status quo will undoubtedly tell us that America needs to be worried about this. But while chaos in Iran is not without risk, it is greatly to be encouraged.

First, Iran has been a thorn in the side of the United States, both in Iraq and more broadly around the region, and as often as not it has meddled in our and others' affairs without cost. There are few principles of international relations more critical than always giving the other guy a downside for making trouble. The disputed election makes the Iranian regime vulnerable; it is precisely at such moments of vulnerability that the regime can be made to suffer the downside of making us an enemy.

Second, the Iranian regime is bad for the Iranian people. Anything we can do to improve the chances of eliminating that regime improves the odds of cracking open Iranian society for the better. Violence is, unfortunately, the rule rather than the exception in revolutions, but freedom often isn't free - and as we have seen in recent decades, a surprising number of brutal but brittle regimes have crumpled in the face of popular uprising when they lost the will to stage their own Tianamen Square moment. There is only one way to find out; if the Iranian people are ready to take the chance, we should do whatever we can in our power to encourage them.

Third, a weak and inward-facing Iranian regime will be a lesser threat to continue pursuing its nuclear program and other forms of mischief, and may even provide opportunities for well-funded intelligence operations to take advantage of an unstable situation to further weaken Iranian capabilities.

Fourth, Iran has long stood as a propaganda victory for the Islamists, proof of a sort that an Islamic revolutionary state could stand against the West. That victory has inspired even Sunni Islamists who otherwise have little in common with Shi'ite Iran. The collapse or weakening of the regime at the hands of popular unrest would further demonstrate the dead end that is the radical Islamic political project.

America today has a great opportunity to make trouble for a hostile government while at the same time potentially lending an opportunity for freedom to its oppressed people. We should use whatever resources are at our disposal to make the best of that chance.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:25 PM | War 2007-14 | Comments (32) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Subway Series Open Thread

Sorry, still don't have the heart to write about last night. Talk amongst yourselves.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:07 PM | Baseball 2009 | Comments (10) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: The Left Falls In Love With Profiling

In the wake of the shooting at the Holocaust Museum, there's been something of a mad rush by left-wing bloggers to use the shooting to validate the now-infamous Department of Homeland Security report on "right-wing extremists.".

There are two noteworthy aspects of this effort. One, it continues the DHS report's willful misidintification of people like James von Brunn, the museum shooter, as "right-wing." And two, it ultimately embraces the concept of profiling in law enforcement, in ways that liberals used to deplore.

The initial problem with this effort, as Leon and Pejman have detailed, is that von Brunn had more in common with left- than right-wingers: he railed against Christianity, "neocons," President Bush, John McCain, and Bill O'Reilly, peddled 9/11 conspiracy theories, and had in his possession the address of another possible target: the building that houses The Weekly Standard and the American Enterprise Institute, the nerve center of neoconservatism. Like the DHS report itself, the left-wing commenters simply assume that "racist" = "right-wing," and therefore lump together conservatives with racists who reject, root and branch, virtually everything conservatives believe in. (This is the historical fallacy used to designate the Nazis as right-wing, when - as Jonah Goldberg details exhaustively in his book Liberal Fascism - they were thoroughgoing economic statists, marketed themselves as a socialist worker's movement, pushed a platform with numerous planks that could come straight from modern-day liberals and did in fact come from 20th century American progressives, were obsessed with health food and anything "natural" or "organic," and campaigned persistently to undermine, subvert and replace the authority and legitimacy of Christianity, among other family resemblances to the Left.)

We can see the same effort to link racial hatred to strains of actual right-wingery in the DHS report:

Rightwing extremism in the United States can be broadly divided into those groups, movements, and adherents that are primarily hate-oriented (based on hatred of particular religious, racial or ethnic groups), and those that are mainly antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely. It may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration.

One wonders if these guys would qualify on the first half of that definition.

The second point of interest is the left-bloggers' embrace of profiling. Now, let's back up a bit: law enforcement officers generally rely, in identifying possible suspects in the absence of a direct tip, on their own experience and the institutional knowledge of their departments in identifying who might be a criminal. Profiles are a part of the second half of that equation, one that's been formalized in recent decades as a regular feature of law enforcement agencies. Profiling principally involves profiles of behavior indicative of various kinds of criminal activity - bank fraud, prostitution, serial killing, drug smuggling, etc. None of this is controversial. What is controversial is including things that aren't prelude-to-crime behaviors in a profile, whether it be inherent characteristics (race, gender), or what are generally thought of as protected activities (religion, political affliation).

The conservative view on profiling has generally been to treat it as disfavored but not necessarily rule it out entirely, while liberals spent years making a cause celebre of racial profiling (Barack Obama made an anti-profiling crusade one of his priorities as a state legislator). Profiling, if done carefully and drawn narrowly from factual experience, can be a useful law enforcement tool. The problem with profiling people based on general characteristics, especially things like race and religion and political affiliation, is that it tends to feed into stereotypes, be grounded in overbroad generalizations rather than hard evidence, sweep in too many innocent people into a law enforcement net, and as a whole encourage dangerous and usually sloppy law enforcement.

The DHS report was all that, and any liberal worthy of the name would not be defending its sweeping generalizations. And still less would liberals be rushing to validate it based on individual shootings in a nation of 300 million people. Imagine if the DHS report had focused on African-Americans as especially likely to commit murder: how many shootings by lone African-Americans would be enough to justify profiling on the basis of race? More than one or two, I'd bet - certainly I wouldn't tolerate profiling on such a basis.

Federal surveillance and vigilance against actual groups of potentially violent political extremists, whatever their political stripes, is of course reasonable. And conservatives, being believers in the virtue of experience as the basis of knowledge, should not turn up our noses at efforts to draw profiles of other possible groups based on experience with existing ones. But we can and should demand something more rigorous than sloppy generalizations in venturing onto the dangerous turf of profiling political opponents of the current Administration (the same Administration whose Attorney General has previously raised the temperature of otherwise peaceful political debate by threatening to criminally prosecute members of the outgoing Administration over policy differences).

But liberals who are cheering this sort of thing ought to be deeply ashamed of themselves, if they ever meant anything they said about racial profiling.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 1:26 AM | Politics 2009 | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)
June 12, 2009
BASEBALL: Climate of Suspicion

Jeff Pearlman on Raul Ibanez and steroid suspicion; David Pinto wrote about the same comments from a different angle, and Pinto looked here at the extraordinary season Ibanez is having.

Today's probably not the day for a Mets fan to have perspective on Ibanez...that said, Pearlman and Pinto both hit the basic point that Ibanez' complaints are really better aimed at the current climate in the game rather than the particular folks pointing fingers at him; the rumors may be unfair but we've passed the point of sanity a long time ago in this discussion. I think it's still somewhat premature to point the steroid finger at a guy for having a good year in the middle of June a little more than a third of the way through the season, but Ibanez really is at the point where he's pretty likely, at age 37, to blow away his career high in homers, and oddly he's hit 13 of the 21 away from Citizens' Bank Park, whereas last season he hit 14 of 23 at home, so the obvious explanation of a homer explosion triggered by escaping SafeCo doesn't seem to hold water.

UPDATE (from the comments): Joe Posnanski, who has followed Ibanez in KC for years, weighs in - it's worth reading the whole thing, as is always the case with Posnanski, but the core of his argument is that Ibanez has always been unusually streaky:

Look: Through 55 games, Ibanez was hitting .329/.386/.676 with 19 homers.

OK, let's start in 2002. That year, Ibanez had a 50-game streak -- June 7 to Aug. 2 -- when he hit .328/.385/.704 with 15 doubles, five triples, 15 homers. He drove in 54 runs. Few noticed because the Royals were abysmal that year, and it was in the middle of the season. But that stretch, you will note, is about as good as the stretch he's on now. In some ways, it's even better.

In 2003 he had a 55-game stretch where he hit .326/.360/.514 ... not as good, but pretty damned good.

In 2004 he hit .365 over a 54-game stretch. In 2005 he got off to a dreadful start and then hit .330/.400/.524 over his next 55 games. In 2006 he hit 18 homers and drove in 57 runs in a 52-game stretch.

Over the last 52 games of the 2007 season Ibanez hit .363/.425/.652 with 15 homers.

Last year, for 55 games, July 12 to Sept. 14, he hit .374/.435/.648 with 17 doubles, two triples, 13 homers. And that, you might remember, was in Seattle and a lousy hitters' ballpark.

This is a man who, when he gets hot, absolutely tears up pitchers. I've seen it up close. He has had a 50-to-60 game hot streak EVERY SINGLE YEAR since 2002.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 1:38 PM | Baseball 2009 | Comments (9) | TrackBack (0)
June 11, 2009
POLITICS: A Tale Of Two Projects

Jim Geraghty notes that Gov. Palin has brought ExxonMobil to the table in her signature policy effort, the natural gas pipeline, defying critics who didn't think she could make the big energy companies blink and cut a deal. Meanwhile, President Obama faces the first defection from his effort to drum up support for nationalizing health insurance, as the AMA comes out against the so-called "public option" of government health insurance.

It's far from the end of the journey for both these initiatives; Palin still faces other hurdles, and Obama retains a strong position (the NYT notes how he can put the screws on the doctors: "If the doctors are too aggressive in fighting the public plan, they risk alienating Democrats whose support they need for legislation to increase their Medicare fees."), despite the powerful arguments Karl Rove outlines for marshalling opposition. But it's encouraging to be reminded that sometimes, governing is actually about doing things rather than just talking.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:03 PM | Politics 2009 | Comments (18) | TrackBack (0)
WAR: The Moderate

Goldfarb looks at some samples of the rhetoric of Mir Hossein Mousavi Khameneh, Ahmadenijad's opponent in the Iranian election. Whether he's a "moderate" depends on what you think this is moderate compared to:

In 1988, Reuters reported on a radio address by Mousavi to the Iranian people:
In a Foreign Ministry statement read on Tehran radio today, Iran said that Israel should be annihilated and that implicit recognition of it by the Palestine Liberation Organisation ignored the inalienable rights of the Muslim Palestinan people.

The statement said that the only way to achieve Palestinian rights was continuation of all-out popular struggles against Israel.

Iranian Prime Minister Mir-Hossein Mousavi yesterday called Israel a "cancerous tumour" and said the Palestinian move to accept UN Resolution 242 would anger Muslim revolutionaries.

In 1989, Mousavi called for Salman Rushdie to be killed. The Times (London) reported that "Mr Mir-Hossein Mousavi, the Prime Minister, said the Ayatollah Khomeini's order that Mr Rushdie should be killed 'will undoubtedly be carried out and the person who has become a tool of Zionists against Islam and brazenly attacked it and the Prophet will be punished', according to Tehran Radio." And in that same year, the Washington Post described Mousavi as a "leading hardliner," with links to regime attempts to assassinate political opponents in exile.

Read the whole thing. Ahmadenijad is unusually belligerent and unhinged even by Iranian standards, and so removing him can only be a good thing, but the reality is that the real power in Iran continues to lie with the very much unelected religious and security establishment; the mullahs control the selection of candidates and the scope of their authority, which is limited. A new front man won't change that. And the fact that Iranian "moderates" all end up saying about 95% of the same stuff as the "extremists" just illustrates the fact that the problems with the Iranian regime run far deeper than any one man.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:59 PM | War 2007-14 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
WAR/LAW: Living Down to the Stereotype

Must-read on Obama Administration's decision to give Miranda warnings to captured jihadists. Like so many things Obama has done, this one was derided as a straw man when Sarah Palin claimed last year that he would do it.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:42 PM | Law 2009-14 • | War 2007-14 | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)
June 10, 2009
BASEBALL: It's Not The Wind

It's still a little early in the inaugural season to jump to conclusions about park effects - David Wright's moaning about CitiField being hard on home run hitters seems rather premature after yesterday's game. But AccuWeather takes a look at the new Yankee Stadium and concludes that the weather patterns, at least, are not a significant factor in the new Bronx Bombing Range:

After analyzing the 29 games played and the 105 home runs hit at the new Yankee Stadium, has determined that a portion of the home run derby that has taken place this season cannot be directly attributed to the weather. As it turns out, walls, not weather, are the homer helpers for 19 percent of the home runs thus far in the new Yankee Stadium.


Taking into account the dimensions of the field and wall height, has calculated that 19 percent (20 out of 105) [of the] home runs would not have flown out of the old stadium. If the first 29 games are any indication, 293 home runs will be hit by the end of the year at the new Yankee Stadium, just short of the record of 303 home runs hit at Denver's Coors Field in 1999. If this is the case, as many as 56 home runs could be attributed to the size of the new playing field.

As far as the weather is concerned, there has been no consistent pattern observed in the wind speed and direction that would lead to an increase in home runs so far this year. Rather, any weather-related changes would seem to be due to differences between the old and new Yankee stadiums and their effects on the micro-weather regimes.

Of course, we have yet to see as well how the wind will shift once Old Yankee is torn down.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 1:00 PM | Baseball 2009 | Comments (15) | TrackBack (0)
June 9, 2009
POP CULTURE: When A Plan Comes Together

Well, we all have our ways of moving on from tragedy in our lives. If you're Liam Neeson, that entails....assembling the A-Team!

Liam Neeson is in talks with movie bosses to star in the upcoming big screen version of The A Team.

The Schindler's List actor has reportedly been lined up to play John 'Hannibal' Smith, the role made famous by George Peppard in the hit 1980s television show.

He is currently in negotiations with 20th Century Fox and producers Tony and Ridley Scott to appear in the movie about four war veterans who escape from a prison to become vigilantes.

The Hangover star Bradley Cooper was recently rumoured to be taking on the role of Lieutenant Templeton 'Faceman' Peck, originally played by Dirk Benedict, but he has since denied the claims.

The roles of Captain 'Howling Mad' Murdock and Sergeant 'BA' Baracus have yet to be cast, but rapper-turned-actor Common is rumoured to be in the running for Mr.T's iconic role.

Production for the film is due to begin in late August for release next year, according to Daily Variety.

I pity the fool who's not excited about this. There's actually a good deal to be said for remaking something that was cheesy at the time and is now terribly dated; there's a lot more freedom. Of course, it could still be awful, as most Hollywood rehashes are. As for Neeson, well, I hope it's a fun movie to make, he could use that.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:32 PM | Pop Culture | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)
WAR: The Eastern Goalpost?

North Korea's escalating provocations since the Taepodong rocket launch in April offer an early test of President Obama's foreign policy. But before we can judge whether Obama's policy is a success - or, for that matter, the policies of his predecessors - we need to define the realistic parameters for success in dealing with Pyongyang's Stalinist regime. I would propose a number of possible benchmarks or victory conditions one could use, but it's easier said than done to pick what a realistic goal should be. Here are the choices:

1. Total victory: the elimination of the North Korean regime (whether or not accompanied by reunification of the Korean peninsula) and/or the complete and permanent removal of the conventional, nuclear and proliferation threats posed by the regime. This strikes me as an unrealistic goal, although of course removal of the regime should remain our long-term ambition.

2. Nuclear disarmament: leaving North Korea as is, except without nuclear weapons. This has been the main stated goal of the last two administrations, at which both obviously failed, and seems to be the main stated goal of Obama as well. Expect more failure, especially after Obama's grandiose renunciation in Cairo of the right to interfere with any nation's nuclear ambitions.

3. Conventional containment: preventing the North Korean regime from initiating direct hostilities with its neighbors. By this benchmark, both the Clinton and Bush Administrations can claim success by virtue of doing lots of jaw-jaw instead of war-war with Pyongyang.

4. Total containment: not just conventional containment but preventing North Korea from sharing nuclear secrets or materials or other assets with terrorists or other rogue regimes. To me, this is the highest priority, even higher than nuclear disarmament. We lack adequate public information to judge the success of the Bush team on this score, and will lack it with Obama as well unless and until we get the ultimate bad news. That doesn't mean we know nothing, just that the public will remain in the dark about many key facts. (Broadly speaking, the movement away from open war to terrorism and proliferation as the main threats presents an ongoing problem for voters in evaluating the real successes and failures of our leadership, which to succeed must do so in secret, and which of needs must often take action on the basis of state secrets).

5. Internal reform or relief: changing the repressive nature of the North Korean regime and/or providing humanitarian relief to the population it brutalizes. A noble objective, but not likely to drive our policy when bigger stakes are in play.

6. Engagement: treating talks with the North Koreans as an end in themself. This has certainly seemed, at times, as if it was the State Department's only objective under the past three Administrations.

7. Regional Politics: under this view, the larger issue is the struggle for power with China, so our principal goal should be to make Pyongyang a bigger headache for the Chinese than it is for us. There is little evidence that Obama or his team even think in those terms, and so little reason to believe they could succeed. To be fair, Bush's record in this regard with China was spotty at best, and in his second term he largely gave up.

8. Credibility: under this view, the end state is less important than using the standoff with Pyongyang to demonstrate that America stands by its regional allies and is not easily messed with, and that we will not simply give away concessions without getting something concrete in exchange. By this standard, Obama also seems likely to repeat the abject failures of Clinton and Bush in maintaining U.S. credibility in dealing with North Korea.

The question of what reasonable objectives we might set for our North Korea policy is one on which reasonable minds can differ. The short answer is that, given its methods and worldview, the Obama Administration is likely to succeed in its dealings with North Korea only if it sets low expectations that can be met by maintaining the visible status quo modified by cosmetic accomplishments.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:36 PM | War 2007-14 | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Not As Projected

Cafe Hayek has a graphic illustration of how the unemployment numbers have been worse with the stimulus than the Obama team projected they'd be without the stimulus.

Whether or not you assign the Obama Administration any responsibility for making things worse four-plus months into the new president's term, and whether or not you blame Congressional Democrats (who took over under much better economic conditions over two years ago), the simple facts are:

1. The direct costs of the stimulus are known.
2. The projected benefits have not materialized as promised.

The primary reason, of course, is Crank's First Law of Government Financial and Economic Projections: they are always, always wrong. Nothing is ever accurately forecast by the government, because forecasting is hard even for the private sector experts, there are tons of variables, and there are too many incentives to shade the truth. The proponents of the policy, bearing the burden of defending it, have their work cut out for them in explaining why we're better off than if nothing at all had been done.

Reason and experience told anyone familiar with the issue that the stimulus was, on balance, a colossal expenditure of taxpayer money - money that really could have been used in the credit-starved private sector right now - that was going to pay zero dividends in the short run, and only small dividends greatly outweighed by its costs in the long run. But then, the point of the exercise was never about hepling the economy anyway, as any serious adult had to know.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:57 AM | Politics 2009 | Comments (18) | TrackBack (0)
June 6, 2009
POP CULTURE: Only One Bob Dylan

A collection of Dylan's idiosyncratic observations from his radio show, some of which can't help but crack you up. H/T. And while I am at it, my New Ledger colleagues have more on Dylan: Pejman on Dylan's self-education, Sean Curnyn on Dylan's new album, and Paul Cella on "The Patriotic Bob Dylan." I'm not a huge Dylan fan but enjoy the best of his work, and as Paul has often reminded me, he's a man who has always defied easy classification.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:36 AM | Pop Culture | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Scratched Out

Even in victory tonight, the Mets looked like Marlon Brando at the end of On the Waterfront. I think my brain still hasn't processed how hard and fast the injuries have come on, and I'm not sure Jerry Manuel has either.

I'm still trying to figure out why David Wright thought it was a good idea to steal third with nobody out in the top of the tenth, but since he'd already driven in the winning runs, that'll be forgiven. I still think Wright could really have a monster year this season; he still doesn't seem like he's gotten untracked this season, and he's hitting .338.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:30 AM | Baseball 2009 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
June 4, 2009
WAR/POLITICS: Don't Know Much About Arithmetic

Noah Pollak notes of President Obama's claim that "if you actually took the number of Muslim Americans, we’d be one of the largest Muslim countries in the world":

Obama is right - we're one of the largest, only outranked by Indonesia, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Turkey, Egypt, Nigeria, Iran, Algeria, Morocco, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Iraq, Uzbekistan, Ethiopia, Russia, Yemen, China, Syria, Malaysia, Tanzania, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Tunisia, Somalia, Guinea, Azerbaijan, Burkina Faso, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Cote d'Ivoire, Congo, Libya, Jordan, Chad, Turkemenistan, Philippines, France, Kyrgyzstan, Uganda, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Cameroon, Thailand, Mauritania, Germany, Oman, Albania, Malawi, Kenya, Eritrea, Serbia and Montenegro, Lebanon, Kuwait, the UAE, and…well, at some point here you get to the United States, which has (estimates vary) around 1-3 million Muslims.
Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:35 PM | Politics 2009 • | War 2007-14 | Comments (37) | TrackBack (0)

NY Post Mets beat writer is reporting that Jose Reyes has a hamstring tear and will likely be out until the All-Star Break (he'll be evaluated in two more days). Aside from Wright, and maybe even more than Wright, this is the injury the Mets are least equipped to handle. It really has been an awful deluge of injuries.

More details here.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:30 PM | Baseball 2009 | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Big Unit Lands

Congratulations to Randy Johnson on winning his 300th game. I've previously pooh-poohed the perennial "this is the last 300 game winner" prediction, which after all was made by people in the media even as Johnson and Tom Glavine were closing in on the milestone (as well as Mike Mussina, who likely would have made it if he'd wanted to). But this time there really should be something of a drought: I have to collect my prior posts and run the numbers again, but look at the active leaders: the only guy within 80 wins of the goal is Jamie Moyer, who's 46 and allowing 2.4 home runs per 9 innings this season. Pedro Martinez, ahead of the pace 2-3 years ago, will need a serious resurgence to get another 86 wins and is presently unemployed. John Smoltz is 42 and not close. That leaves only Andy Pettitte. Pettitte shouldn't be counted out, but even if he notches another 10 wins this season he enters his age 38 season needing 70 more wins, and like Mussina his desire to pitch into his 40s is questionable at best.

If Pettitte doesn't make a run, probably we'll be waiting on guys who aren't halfway there yet, like Roy Oswalt and Roy Halladay (I don't take Mark Buehrle's chances too seriously), or maybe Santana (Sabathia's ahead of Santana's pace but seems likely to break down by age 35). The 300 game winner may not be extinct, but we should probably expect some period of hibernation.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:09 PM | Baseball 2009 | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Out of Action

Some interesting hard data breaking down trips to the DL.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:25 PM | Baseball 2009 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Sanford's Stop Sign

Whether or not Republicans can ever get a meaningful mandate to significantly cut government spending, the political climate has unmistakably shifted to one in which one of the great domestic issues of the day is simply putting the brakes on runaway expansion of government and the concomitant diminution of the true private sector. Frank Luntz thinks that South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford is making headway in selling the message that it has to stop somewhere:


Unfortunately, a court order from the South Carolina Supreme Court may cost Sanford this round in the budget fight no matter what the public thinks. But the battle to win public opinion never ends.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:14 PM | Politics 2009 • | Politics 2012 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: McLouth Overboard

There's not much good that can be said about the Pirates trading Nate McLouth to the Braves for three prospects. It's not as if McLouth is about to walk as a free agent:

McLouth is under contract through at least 2011, having signed a three-year, $15.75 contract in spring training. The deal includes a team option for a fourth year at $10.65 million, with a $1.25 million buyout.

That's really not that much money, even for a team like the Pirates, and while McLouth is hardly a superstar - according to the Fielding Bible, he was a very far cry from deserving his Gold Glove last season - he's not at all overpaid for a guy who has produced a 120 OPS+ since 2007 (.268/.353/.482), runs well and can play an outfield corner if you're not happy with his defense in center. As Bill James wrote of the Seattle Mariners in the early 1980s, if you couldn't afford to pay Floyd Bannister, you have no business owning a major league baseball team. The same goes for the Pirates: if you can't afford to pay Nate McLouth, you have no business owning a major league baseball team.

Yes, the Bucs got three prospects back, but they have plenty of "prospects"; what the Pirates lack is baseball players. McLouth is 27 and, with the arguable exception of Freddy Sanchez, is the best player on the team. Maybe he'll be a little past his prime and at the end of his contract by the time Pittsburgh's younger players have come into their own, but if you keep dealing away guys like McLouth you never even get close enough to contending to make those kinds of decisions.

And what did they get back? Gorkys Hernandez, the key guy in the deal, has slugged .387, .387 and .391 the last three seasons (two of those in A ball), and this year has 15 walks and 54 strikeouts in a third of a season and has been caught stealing 8 times in 18 tries. That may not suggest a failed prospect: Hernandez is still just 21, and the Braves system has a lot of pitchers' parks. But he's a long way from being the player in AA that McLouth is in the National League. Charlie Morton flopped with the Braves last year, although his minor league numbers are still pretty good. And Jeff Locke is 6-16 with a 4.42 ERA in A ball since the beginning of last season; Locke's peripheral numbers are better than that, but like Morton and Hernandez, he's got nothing in his record that would just blow you away and make you say "hey, we should trade our best player, who is 27 and signed for two more years, for this guy."

Now, I pity the fools who run the Pirates.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:52 PM | Baseball 2009 | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)
June 3, 2009
BASEBALL: Fear Will Keep The Batters In Line

The WSJ notes that Randy Johnson has hit more batters with pitches than any pitcher since 1900 other than Walter Johnson and Eddie Plank.

Also from the WSJ Daily Fix blog, an analysis of A-Rod's declining foot speed.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:55 PM | Baseball 2009 | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Pay No Attention To The Actual Governor

Jon Corzine promises that if he's re-elected, NJ will not invade Iraq. As Jim Geraghty notes, a guy with a 36% approval rating needs something better than "I'm not Bush" to defend the corrupt and dysfunctional status quo in Trenton, where Democrats have ruled unchecked for years with predictably familiar results.

Chris Christie's victory in yesterday's GOP primary is good news. Christie's the best shot the GOP had, and he's had a spectacular record of hunting down corruption in the state (granted, in New Jersey that's like hunting cows).

One of the interesting potshots from Corzine's speech was focusing on John Ashcroft. I know why he did it: Christie is close with Ashcroft and has drawn some fire for appointing him as a federal monitor as part of plea deals with corporate defendants. It's a silly charge; while I agree broadly that the entire monitor concept is something of a racket, it's been used widely by prosecutors of both parties (it was a similar arrangement that got Deval Patrick hired at ExxonMobil), and it's fairly ludicrous to argue that a man who'd served as Attorney General, Governor and Senator was not qualified for the job.

But what makes it politically interesting is the assumption that Ashcroft is universally unpopular with moderates; I'm not so sure that's true anymore. Ashcroft's DOJ was a model of professionalism and aggressive law enforcement, and only looks better compared to his famously inept immediate successor, and if anything moderate voters have heard a lot since 2004 about some of the settings in which Ashcroft's pushback established the outer legal limits on some of the more controversial Bush Administration anti-terror policies (an unpleasant, but necessary role for the AG to sometimes perform). We'll see if using Ashcroft as a boogeyman is effective, let alone effective enough for New Jersey residents to decide that they'd prefer more of the same disastrous tax-spend-steal policies to electing a guy who knows John Ashcroft.

UPDATE: Geraghty also notes that the centerpiece of Corzine's campaign in 2005 was a promise to cut taxes, which - like all such promises from Democrats - he broke, leaving the state with the nation's highest tax burden.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:16 AM | Politics 2009 | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)
June 2, 2009
BASEBALL: Carried Away

It was a sad day when the Mets dealt away Ramon Castro to make room for Omir Santos. Castro's perennial problem has been his durability; I've never questioned the decision to leave him as the backup catcher, because he clearly physically can't catch 100 games a year. And given Brian Schneider's own durability issues, Castro's trips to the DL have been doubly frustrating. And Santos has hit surprisingly well this season (.275/.303/.475 with a number of big game-breaking hits).

But Castro and Santos are actually both known quantities, and only one of them can hit. Castro in his Mets career has batted .252/.321/.452 over 785 plate appearances, better on balance than what Santos has done...and Santos has only made 89 plate appearances. Yes, Castro is 33, but then Santos is 28 and has batted .258/.303/.348 over 2,429 minor league plate appearances. I don't care how many game-winning hits you get in a month, that's not a major league hitter. Given that Schneider is also 32 and not hitting, the broader answer is that the team needs a new everyday catcher. But Omir Santos will never be that guy.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 1:16 PM | Baseball 2009 | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)
June 1, 2009

Daily News has a nice profile of Jay Horwitz, now in his 30th year of doing PR for the Mets, a job that would have driven a lesser man around the bend.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:55 PM | Baseball 2009 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Bill James and Joe Posnanski discuss hype and reality with Matt Wieters. I'm very high on Wieters, but I find myself being a bit contrarian because the hype is so out of hand compared to what even the all-time greats can do as rookies. Should the Orioles be happy if Wieters gives them a .294/.349/.472 season with 15 HR, 57 Runs, and 65 RBI? That's the average of the rookie seasons of Mickey Cochrane, Bill Dickey, Gabby Hartnett, Yogi Berra, Roy Campanella, Johnny Bench, Carlton Fisk, Gary Carter, and Mike Piazza, the greatest hitting catchers the game has seen (average age: 23, same as Wieters).

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:28 PM | Baseball 2009 | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Bill Ayers' Revenge: The Left's Crocodile Tears on Domestic Terrorism

Because they usually lack the organization, training, funding, numbers and suicidal ideology of international terrorists, it can at times be difficult to distinguish domestic terrorists from ordinary psychopaths. But domestic terrorism has been a sporadic presence in the United States since at least radical Kansas abolitionist John Brown in the 1850s, running through the likes of Leon Czolgosz, Sacco and Vanzetti, the Black Panthers, Tim McVeigh, Ted Kaczynski, and more recenly Bruce Ivins and John Allen Muhammad. The causes they have killed for have ranged from the noble (Brown) to the nefarious to the outright deranged (Kaczynski), and their inspiration has ranged from the purely domestic to imitations of foreign movements like anarcho-syndicalism or Islamism. This being America, domestic terrorists have almost always done more harm than good to their stated causes.

Ayers & Dohrn WantedIt appears that Scott Roeder, the man arrested for Sunday's murder of notorious late-term abortionist George Tiller, would qualify for membership in this group, given press reports that Roeder has a long record of extremism, possession of explosives and profession of belief in killing abortionists. Now, it's hard to generate much sympathy for Dr. Tiller himself; whatever moral blinders it may be possible for a man to wear regarding early-term abortions, anyone who has seen a sonogram or felt a child kick against its mother's womb can hardly imagine the cruelty required to repeatedly perform..."terminations"...of such helpless and innocent victims. But as long as we live in a nation of laws made by the people and as long as his conduct is permitted by law, the job of judging men like Dr. Tiller belongs to the Lord alone, and the job of stopping men like him remains with the democratic process and with peaceful protest and persuasion; the way of the domestic terrorist is the way of madness no matter the cause.

Even before anything was known about Roeder, the left side of the blogosphere reacted to Dr. Tiller's murder as if it was Christmas morning and they just got a pony; I was following the Twitter feed of Markos Moulitsas, the man best known for reacting to the murder of American contractors in Iraq by declaring "screw them," and he and others were positively vibrating with giddiness about the possibility of using Dr. Tiller's murder to discredit pro-lifers in general and critics of Dr. Tiller in particular.

Well, unlike the Left, some of us have been against associates of domestic terrorists all along. Most of us would, I think, agree that if Roeder somehow escaped prosecution, we would have serious reservations about supporting politicians who subsequently associated themselves with him in the process of cultivating favor with the Right. But that, of course, is exactly what Barack Obama did with Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn. And anyone who supported Obama has zero credibility in criticizing anybody for associating with violent domestic extremists.

Read More »

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:29 AM | Politics 2009 | Comments (49) | TrackBack (0)