Monday, December 15, 2014

What Shall We Give?


One of the pieces that the Park Street Church choir and orchestra performed at last night's Service of Lessons and Carols is this gorgeous piece, What Shall We Give? Here's the Mormon Tabernacle Choir performing it, conducted by its composer Mack Willberg.



Their choir and orchestra are larger than ours, but so is their space. I may be (ok, am) biased, but I think it sounded just as good in Boston last night as it did in this lovely video...

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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Lexington fifers and drummers take Tea Party Ships and Museum honors

The headline is wrong, as there were no pipers present (well, none playing pipes anyway) but the sentiment is right.

Lexington pipers take Tea Party honors | Boston Herald

Congratulations to the William Diamond Juniors!

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

From homeschool to teachers

Hmmm...The Point at Fitchburg State - From homeschool to teachers
Students Sarah Comeau and Elisabeth Beverage are ending their time at Fitchburg State to become educators. Both are hard working teachers who are ready to hit the ground running in their fields, but unlike some of their fellow education majors, they have been asked the same question over and over again; “Why did a homeschooler want to become a teacher?”

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Red Sox Hot Stove (11/19) - Jon Lester

Lester offer on the table:

The Boston Red Sox made a contract offer to pitcher Jon Lester when he met with the team's owners earlier this week, according to a major league source.

The terms of the offer were not disclosed, and the source said he did not expect Lester to make a quick decision.
For what it's worth, Peter Gammons said yesterday that, while the Cubs are going to talk with Lester, and would like to sign him, they think that he's going back to Boston. That would be a good thing.

One more thing on the whole Lester situation. There's at least one talk show host in Boston who has downplayed the possibility of Boston signing Lester, and disparaged the team for not signing him last spring, and has said, more than once, "they could have just signed him last spring." Maybe they could have. Probably they could have. But could they have signed him to a contract that a) would have made both sides happy and b) would have been significantly less than he's going to end up signing for now? It takes two sides to make a deal. The team could not unilaterally choose a contract; they had to negotiate a mutually acceptable agreement. It's possible that both sides could legitimately want to get a deal done and still fail to come to agreement on what's a fair deal under the circumstances.

How many players get to their free agency seasons and take significantly less than market value? Maybe he's willing to give Boston a "hometown discount," and take a little less from Boston than it would take for someone else to sign him, but neither side knew, last March and April, what the market value for Jon Lester would be. So there was no way to know what was a hometown discount and what was a bad deal for the player. I'm sure that Boston could have come up with an offer that he'd have signed, but probably only by over-paying in such a way that both sides would have known it was not market value. Basically, last March, the Boston Red Sox were bidding against themselves.

So I tend to find the criticisms of them for failing to sign him last March overblown. Disappointing? Sure. Evidence of venality or gross mismanagement? Nonsense.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Red Sox Hot Stove (11/12) - Jon Lester

By the way, let me just say this about Jon Lester. Jim Bowden, at ESPN, thinks he's going to sign for 6 years at $138 million. If I were in charge of the Red Sox I would do that in a heartbeat. I understand the reluctance to go long on older players. I not only understand it, I agree with it wholeheartedly. That said, there are two things that would influence me in making this decision. (You know, beyond the mere fact that they seriously need a top-of-the-rotation starter.)
  1. I believe that Lester will age well. Looking at his body type, looking at the time that he missed while younger due to cancer, I am reminded of Roger Clemens. I never thought that Pedro would last as long as he did, but Lester looks to me like the Clemens, Schilling, Colon body type, thick through the midsection and upper legs, that tends to distribute the stress over more of the body rather than concentrating it in the shoulder and elbow. I think Lester's still pitching effectively in 2020 and would have no problem signing him through that season.

  2. I think it's overrated that some people cannot play or pitch successfully in Boston. Vastly overrated. That said, there's always a concern when you bring a free agent in about how he'll fit into the organization. Will there be friction in the locker room? Will he be unhappy in the living and working environment? Will he sign here and wish he hadn't? (Looking at you, Carl Crawford, and you, Adrian Gonzalez...) There's no such concern with Lester.
That said, I suspect that Bowden's wrong, and it's going to cost more. More dollars per year, and maybe more years, too. (I think that 6 years is more likely than $23 million per - I think he's more likely to get 6/$150 or even 7/$160 than 6/$138.) Whatever he gets, I hope it's from the Red Sox, because I'd really like to have him back. I primarily want good players on my teams, but if the good players are good people (at least, as nearly as we can tell) and easy to root for, that's even better. I'll be a happier Red Sox fan in 2015 if Jon Lester is pitching for Boston than if he's not.

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Red Sox Hot Stove (11/12) - Pablo Sandoval

Will there be Pandamonium in Boston?

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported Wednesday that the Giants and Red Sox are the favorites to land free agent third baseman Pablo Sandoval, but “unless [Boston] makes a big play, [San Francisco is] the favorite.” Rosenthal also report that the Red Sox are weighing other options. Hanley Ramirez has been widely reported to be one of the options the Sox are considering to take over duties at third base next season.


Third base was an abysmal pit of despair for the Red Sox in 2014. They started with Middlebrooks, who got hurt. (Whether that's a good or bad thing is debatable.) They moved Bogaerts over shortly before his offensive collapse began in earnest*. So there's little doubt that Pablo Sandoval would represent a likely significant upgrade to the lineup over what they had in 2014. But. The fact is, he's been a very good player in two of his six full Major League seasons and a slightly better than average player in three of them, including the last two. As he would be a significant upgrade, I would not necessarily have a problem with them bringing him in, but I don't love his game** and definitely don't love it as a six-year contract at pretty big money.

So if it were up to me, this would not be option number one. But, as long as the years and dollars are not too outrageous, I can live with it. Certainly, that would be a big improvement expected at one position.




* - Obviously, there are many who consider those two items to have a cause-and-effect relationship rather than just correlative. I'm not willing to go there. I'd need some compelling evidence to believe that Bogaerts was dreadful because he was at third and not just while he was at third. Just the fact of the performance does not qualify as prima facie evidence to me, and there's nothing else I'm aware of. But there's no question that he was dreadful while he was at third.

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Monday, November 10, 2014

"A generation of Democrats lost in the Obama era..."

At Hot Air, Noah Rothman demonstrates a lack of understanding of the long game vs. the short game, and the difference between transient change and structural change.

When Barack Obama took office, he was hailed as a liberal savior. His presidency, it was believed, would usher in a new era of progressive dominance not seen since Roosevelt. Instead, Republicans have been restored to a position of power across the country they had not known since Al Smith lost 40 states to Herbert Hoover. Far from revitalizing it, Obama has erased generations of the Democratic Party’s progress.
Wow, is that ever short-sighted. Obama instituted the greatest leap forward in Progressive politics since Social Security. Electoral control of the branches of government tends to be cyclical and temporary - massive government entitlement programs are forever. Did the Democrats lose some temporary political power as a result? Hey, you can't make an omelet without breaking some eggs...

Seriously, his administration has been a complete and utter disaster for America, and the fact that the Republicans will control Congress for the next two years, and have a lot more state-level representation than they did six years ago, does not change that.

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Thursday, November 06, 2014

Post hoc rationalization - Brown vs. Shaheen


At National Review Online, Katherine Connell reads the exit polls on the Scott Brown loss in NH:
One thing that jumps out from the exit polls was that a majority of voters thought Brown was too new to their state.

Fifty-three percent answered “no” to the question, “Has Brown lived in N.H. long enough?” Of those who felt that Brown’s migration to the Granite State was too recent, 89 percent voted for Jeanne Shaheen. Of the 45 percent who thought Brown had been there long enough, 93 percent voted for him.
I've lived in, or on the border of, New Hampshire for 30 years now, and you can count me among the group that thinks the "carpetbagger" assessment is strictly post hoc rationalization from Shaheen supporters. If they wanted an alternative to Shaheen, they'd have voted for Brown. They didn't. I would be surprised if there 10 votes cast in Tuesday's election that really hinged in any significant way on Brown's newcomer status.

New Hampshire is not a conservative state, at this point, it's a liberal state, because it's majority-populated by people living within 30 miles of Massachusetts who were Massachusetts residents 25 years ago. Scott Brown was no less a carpetbagger than the majority of those who voted against him. And if he'd been there for fifty years, the race would have turned out the same way. Jeanne Shaheen has won statewide races in New Hampshire consistently for the last 20 years, often by large margins, and the state has continued to grow more liberal during that entire time. Obviously 2008 was a much better environment for running as a Democrat, but she beat an incumbent, John Sununu, who was a lifelong New Hampshire resident by 7 points then, and the state has continued to grow more liberal over the six years since.

To be fair to Connell, she acknowledges this possibility - "Of course, it could be that voters who had made up their mind to support Brown would simply say that they didn’t mind his state-hopping from Massachusetts, and those who favored Shaheen would be inclined to criticize him for it." But she does so almost dismissively, and I think that she's wrong to do so.

I wrote about this effect once several years ago.
Any arguments that too inexperienced and callow to be elected are legitimate.

But if I were to make them, it would be a lie. It would be to imply that, if only he weren't so young and inexperienced, I might vote for him. And the fact is, based on his entire career, the people he's chosen to align himself with and his voting record, there are no realistic circumstances under which I would ever vote for him...It's kind of like the NFL tie-breakers. If you go far enough down the list, you get to things like net points in division games. It's relevant, but the NFL is unlikely to ever actually make a decision based on it, because there are more important things that will separate the teams before you get to it. Obama's youth, his past drug "experimentation," McCain's temper, the Keating five, Hillary's "misstatements" about her trip to Bosnia - all interesting, all legitimate and all so far down the list as to be essentially irrelevant in making a decision.

That's' what's happening here.  No one didn't vote for Scott Brown because he was a carpetbagger, because he just made New Hampshire his full-time residence two years ago.  But if you were going to support Shaheen anyway, you'd be happy to offer that as a criticism of Brown.  I believe that this issue played no real part in any voters' actual decision to choose Shaheen over Brown.

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Monday, September 29, 2014

Monday pythagorean - 9/29/2014

And so it ends...
  • After a season in which they were not just disappointing offensive, but outright bad, they finished with a very strong week. After scoring in double digits just four times in their first 157 games, they scored double digits in 3 of their next 4.


  • We now know that Rusney Castillo can make contact, hit with power, play defense and throw the ball. Which is all good. But many can do those things - the thing that determines whether he's a good Major League player or not is whether he can do those things consistently. That, we won't know. But we've seen enough to say this - there have been flashes and it's conceivable that he's a player that we'll be happy to watch going forward.


  • Believe it or not, they actually replaced Jacoby Ellsbury's production in CF. They just didn't do it until late in the season. But Mookie Betts was better in 2014 than Ellsbury was in 2013.


  • I hope to put together a season retrospective over the next couple of weeks, but I cannot promise it.


  • For those of us who don't care for Derek Jeter, the broadcasts this weekend were dreadful, bad enough to actually prevent me from watching much of it. He's the most overrated great player in the history of the game. A good defensive SS with his offensive numbers is an all-time great, but he was a bad defensive SS. And I don't think he's the epitome of clutch and class and all that, but largely a PR creation - I think he's Alex Rodriguez, just better at it. The New York media anointed him, and nurtured and protected his reputation. He's gone now, and I'm glad (except that he's hurt the Yankees if he kept playing...)


  • There's a lot of work to be done in the off-season. They've got some talent acquisition to do on the pitching, and a lot of sorting and decision making on the position players.


  • Red Sox Player of the Week - Rusney Castillo (.400/.500/.750/1.250, 7.10 runs created, 14.80 RC/25 outs)


  • Red Sox Pitcher of the Week - Another real strong outing from Allen Webster this week, one run allowed over seven innings in win over the Rays.
AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 9/29/2014
ProjectedActual
R/G(rank)RA/G(rank)Pythagorean(rank)WLWLLuck
Oakland4.5(3)3.53(2)0.609(1)99638874-11
LA Angels4.77(1)3.89(6)0.593(2)966698642
Baltimore4.35(6)3.66(3)0.578(3)946896662
Seattle3.91(11)3.42(1)0.561(4)91718775-4
Detroit4.67(2)4.35(10)0.533(5)867690724
Toronto4.46(4)4.23(9)0.524(6)85778379-2
Kansas City4.02(9)3.85(4)0.519(7)847889735
Cleveland4.13(7)4.03(7)0.511(8)837985772
Tampa Bay3.78(15)3.86(5)0.49(9)79837785-2
NY Yankees3.91(13)4.1(8)0.478(10)778584787
Minnesota4.41(5)4.8(15)0.462(11)75877092-5
Boston3.91(11)4.41(11)0.445(12)72907191-1
Chicago Sox4.07(8)4.68(13)0.437(13)719173892
Houston3.88(14)4.46(12)0.437(14)71917092-1
Texas3.93(10)4.77(14)0.412(15)679567950
Top 5 projections (using current winning %)
LA Angels9864
Baltimore9666
Detroit9072
Kansas City8973
Oakland8874
Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)
LA Angels9864
Baltimore9666
Detroit9072
Kansas City8973
Oakland8874
Standings for the week
ProjectedActual
R/G(rank)RA/G(rank)Pythagorean(rank)WLWLLuck
Toronto5.43(2)2.57(1)0.797(1)6152-1
Boston6.83(1)4.33(11)0.697(2)4233-1
Kansas City4.38(5)3(5)0.666(3)53530
Minnesota5(4)3.43(6)0.666(3)5243-1
Oakland3.86(6)2.86(2)0.634(5)4334-1
Texas2.86(10)2.86(2)0.5(6)43521
NY Yankees5.14(3)5.14(14)0.5(6)43430
Cleveland2.71(11)2.86(2)0.477(8)34431
Baltimore3.43(7)4(9)0.43(9)34340
Detroit3.43(7)4.43(12)0.385(10)34431
LA Angels2.67(13)3.67(7)0.358(11)24240
Seattle3.29(9)5(13)0.317(12)25432
Chicago Sox2.71(11)4.14(10)0.316(13)25250
Houston2(15)3.67(7)0.248(14)15150
Tampa Bay2.33(14)5.33(15)0.181(15)15241

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