Thursday, June 30, 2005

Odds and ends

  • Nice piece by Joe Posnanski in the Kansas City Star today: Believe it: It’s time to retire batting average. (H/T to Baseball Musings)
    But have you ever stopped to ponder how dumb a statistic batting average is? I would hope not. I would hope you have more important things to think about. But I don’t. I can tell you: Batting average is a dumb statistic....There’s no other statistic in sports that is so misleading, so incomplete.

    I'd go after RBI first, or pitcher's wins, but if you're going to spread sabermetric concepts out into the population at large, batting average is not a bad place to start.

  • Understatement of the week:
    "Kenny is having anger issues right now."
    - Texas GM John Hart, after Rogers attacked two cameramen.

    Whatever the cause, the outburst was a bad one (one of the cameramen had to go to the hospital with multiple injuries), and it's got to draw a heavy suspension from Major League Baseball.

  • Pat Forde has an interesting piece on about 6 SEC players who came out and ended up undrafted.
    What now, Randolph Morris?

    What now, Kelenna Azubuike?

    You guys could have been part of a 2006 national championship contender at the University of Kentucky – maybe even the preseason No. 1 team. Instead you wake up today as young men without a team, or a grasp on your dream.
    Here's the deal: A lot of these kids want someone to lie to them, and there are a blue million liars out there ready and willing to do so. When the going gets tough, the scammers get going – and the horribly flawed entity that is American youth basketball serves up scammer fodder by the dozens.

    Too many kids don't want to go to school. (See: high schooler Amir Johnson, who turned pro instead of going to Louisville when he couldn't get the standardized test score for freshman eligibility. He was the 56th player picked, which is pretty much the bullet train to the D-League or overseas – not that Rick Pitino's program can offer anything that, say, Turkey is lacking.)

    Too many kids don't want to live a world where hard work and demanding coaches are part of the daily routine. (News flash to the '06 hamburger All-Americans: several of the top college programs expect you to take charges, pass the ball AND go to class. Really!)

    Clearly, for some guys coming out is the right thing to do. But we see them and hear their stories. We don't hear much about the guys for whom it's not the right thing. I'd love to see a follow-up on this two years from now...

  • John Donovan's looking at the All Star teams at CNNSI. Reading through it, it strikes me that there's a chance of 5 Red Sox actually starting that game.

    1. David Ortiz - leading DHs by some ridiculously unsurmountable margin.

    2. Jason Varitek - currently leading Ivan Rodriguez by over 500,000 votes.

    3. Manny Ramirez - leading all AL outfielders. Not by a lot, but probably by enough to be one of the top 3.

    4. Johnny Damon - Not currently in starting position. He's in 4th among AL outfielders, trailing 3rd place Ichiro by fewer than 15,000 votes.

    That's 4. 3 of them will almost certainly start, Damon being a possible 4th. And the manager chooses the starting pitcher. Well, the Red Sox have a starting pitcher who's in the top 10 in ERA, who's 6th in strike-outs and tied for 5th in Wins (which I don't care for as a statistic, but they still keep it and people pay attention to it.) Would it be surprising to see Matt Clement start the All Star game for the American League? He's going to pitch Friday and Wednesday, so on 7/12 he'd be on 5 days rest. Halladay probably deserves it, though he'd be on 3 days rest, as would Mark Buehrle. (Not that that would necessarily stop them, since no one's going to pitch much.)

    But Francona's managing, and it wouldn't be at all surprising to see him go with his own guy...

  • So, how much has Gary Sheffield matured in the last 15 years?
    I made a lot of concessions to come here, and I'll make it very clear: If I have to go somewhere else, a lot of things are going to have to be changed or you're going to have an unhappy player. Period. It doesn't matter (what team) it is. If I didn't choose to go there, things are going to have to be changed about my whole situation. Contract, years, everything. Other than that, you might as well not bother trading for me, because you're going to have a very unhappy player.... If I'm not happy, you don't want me on your team.

    This is a player who admitted to intentionally throwing balls into the stands when he was unhappy in Milwaukee. As great a hitter as he is, I don't want him on my team...

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Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Best. Front. Page. Ever.

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Quote Of The Day

The quote of the day comes from this excellent Michelle Malkin column on "Operation Respect."
"Operation Respect" was founded by radical lefty Peter Yarrow of the folk group Peter, Paul & Mary last seen in April publicly apologizing to Vietnam. During last year's presidential campaign, you may recall that Yarrow traveled and performed with his old friend and anti-war mate John Kerry, who pretended to smoke a joint while Yarrow sang the ostensible children's ditty, ""Puff the Magic Dragon."

No wonder they favor "Ridicule Free Zones."

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The interesting historical anniversary of the day

100 years ago today, June 29, 1905, Archibald "Moonlight" Graham (who would be immortalized in the movie Field Of Dreams) made his one and only Major League appearance for the New York Giants in their 11-1 win at Brooklyn.

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Maybe if USA Today listened more often they'd get it...

I've got some major issues with a USA Today editorial today, ostensibly on the President's speech last night. While explicitly agreeing with him on the undesirability of setting a pull-out timetable, they've loaded it with both mis-information and misleading innuendo.

Two years ago, an ebullient President Bush flew to an aircraft carrier — with its infamously overoptimistic "Mission Accomplished" banner — to celebrate the supposed end of major combat in Iraq.

We've all done this before, but since it's there, I guess it needs to be done again.
  1. The White House and the President had nothing to do with the banner

  2. The USS Lincoln had accomplished its mission, and was returning home

  3. It wasn't the "supposed end" to major combat operations. Major combat operations were over. There was no more Iraqi government, and no more Iraqi army to fight. We had won.

With 1,600 killed and 10,000 wounded since then, Bush on Tuesday again appeared before hundreds of U.S. troops, this time to respond to questions and growing concerns about the mission.

"The work in Iraq is difficult and dangerous," he said, acknowledging what Americans watching the news have long known.

And what Americans who have bothered to listen have heard him, and all of the members of his administration, say repeatedly. Over and over again.
"We have more work to do and there will be tough moments that test America's resolve."

They seem to think that this is something new. Just look at the title on the piece, "Bush shifts from rosy to realistic."

But there's no "shift" there at all. Everything he said last night is consistent with everything he's said in the last 4 years.

They must remember the May 2003 speech on the USS Lincoln, the "end of major combat operations" speech:
We have difficult work to do in Iraq. We're bringing order to parts of that country that remain dangerous. We're pursuing and finding leaders of the old regime, who will be held to account for their crimes. We've begun the search for hidden chemical and biological weapons and already know of hundreds of sites that will be investigated. We're helping to rebuild Iraq, where the dictator built palaces for himself, instead of hospitals and schools. And we will stand with the new leaders of Iraq as they establish a government of, by, and for the Iraqi people.

The transition from dictatorship to democracy will take time, but it is worth every effort. Our coalition will stay until our work is done. Then we will leave, and we will leave behind a free Iraq.

It's what he's always said. Difficult, dangerous, hard, don't know when it'll be done, we'll win, we'll leave when we're done. That's the message. That's been the message. It's been consistent, it hasn't changed.
Bush's half-hour speech outlined a sound, steadfast approach to dealing with the mess that Iraq has become.

Because we all know there was no mess there before, right?

Seriously, does anyone really think that the situation in Iraq is worse for America and Americans and the world than it was 2 1/2 years ago? 5 years ago? 10? Yes, it's more immediately dangerous for American troops in that theater of operations than it was. But on the whole, how can you say, or even just imply, that there's a "mess" there now that wasn't there before?

Tuesday's speech was a belated effort to restore the nation's resolve and buy time. The president tried to link the Iraq campaign to the terrorist attacks of 9/11, even though there is no credible evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved in them.

Did he say that there was? No. Did he imply that there was? No. Did he ever state that we went into Iraq to punish Saddam Hussein for September 11th? No.

So what did he say?
The troops here and across the world are fighting a global war on terror. The war reached our shores on September the 11th, 2001. The terrorists who attacked us -- and the terrorists we face -- murder in the name of a totalitarian ideology that hates freedom, rejects tolerance, and despises all dissent.

After September the 11th, I made a commitment to the American people: This nation will not wait to be attacked again. We will defend our freedom. We will take the fight to the enemy. Iraq is the latest battlefield in this war. Many terrorists who kill innocent men, women, and children on the streets of Baghdad are followers of the same murderous ideology that took the lives of our citizens in New York, in Washington, and Pennsylvania.

The only way our enemies can succeed is if we forget the lessons of September the 11th, if we abandon the Iraqi people to men like Zarqawi, and if we yield the future of the Middle East to men like Bin Laden.

We're fighting against men with blind hatred -- and armed with lethal weapons -- who are capable of any atrocity. They wear no uniform; they respect no laws of warfare or morality. They take innocent lives to create chaos for the cameras. They are trying to shake our will in Iraq, just as they tried to shake our will on September the 11th, 2001. They will fail.

After September the 11th, 2001, I told the American people that the road ahead would be difficult, and that we would prevail. Well, it has been difficult -- and we are prevailing.

It's very clear, and should be well within the intellectual purview of even a USA Today editorialist - we went into Iraq not because Saddam Hussein was involved with 9/11, but because there was reason to be concerned that Saddam Hussein would like to be involved with the next 9/11.
Nor was Iraq a terrorist haven before the U.S. invasion, though it has become one since.

And this, of course, is total and utter nonsense. Even if you ignore the bounties that Hussein was paying to the families of Palestinian terrorists, even if you discount the alleged Prague meeting between Mohammed Atta and Iraqi intelligence, even if you discount Ahmad Hikmat Shakir meeting with Ramzi bin al Shibh and Tawfiz al Atash in Kuala Lumpur, even if you ignore Salman Pak, there are still numerous reasons to call Iraq a terrorist haven.
  • Abu Abbas, mastermind of the Achille Lauro hijacking, escaped Italian police because he had an Iraqi diplomatic passport. He lived in Baghdad as a guest of the Hussein regime from 1994 until captured by American forces in 2003.

  • Abu Nidal, the notorious Palestinian, entered Iraq with the knowledge and consent of the regime, and lived in Baghdad from 1999 until his death in 2002.

  • Abdul Rahman Yasin, who actually participated in the first terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York, escaped America and lived comfortably in Baghdad.

So with all of these terrorists using Iraq as a safe haven, how can USA Today possibly claim that it wasn't one before the US Army got there?
According to a USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll over the weekend, 53%% said sending troops there was a mistake, 61% said they didn't think the president has a clear plan, and 51% said they want a timetable for getting U.S. troops out

Given the media coverage, it's astounding that those numbers aren't higher. It's just like the Gitmo effects that Heather MacDonald talked about in "False Modesty".
As Bush correctly stated, setting a timetable would be a mistake. It would signal to the insurgents that they can wait out the United States and the fragile Iraqi regime. Also welcome in Bush's speech was his acknowledgement of the difficulties that remain and the sacrifices of U.S. troops. "Like most Americans, I see the images of violence and bloodshed," he said.

Winning back public support for completing the job in Iraq starts with a more straightforward approach to the public. Tuesday night was a beginning.

Except that he didn't say anything new. He said things that he's said before. Over and over and over again. The fact that the press hasn't covered it that way doesn't mean that this is new. Every time he's spoken to the nation, those are the things that he's said. Every time. No "shifting" at all...

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Keith Foulke again

A couple of weeks ago, I pointed out that Keith Foulke had gotten his act together. I stand by everything I wrote there, but wow, was last night ugly*. And it's not a one-shot - since I told the world that he'd gotten fixed, he's gotten broken again.

Or has he?

He's unscored on in 15 of his last 19 appearances, including last night, a period covering almost 7 weeks, and over 20 innings. That melt-down last night increased his post-5/11 ERA to 4.4, but ERAs can be misleading, particularly for bullpen pitchers. He's having a down year, but it isn't a catastrophic season once you get past the first 5 weeks.

Keith Foulke

thru 5/111523817211515671060%7.941.655.293.711.43

Since 5/111931620.33201010271879%4.431.337.973.12.57

Since 5/11 (before last night)1830618.671655151683%2.411.137.712.413.2

Over that 18 games stretch he was pretty good. Not as good as last year, but certainly not bad. The strikeout rate is down, but not a lot. The walk rate is up, but not a lot. The ERA is up, but not a lot. The WHIP is up, but not a lot.

One of the big problems seems to be that when he's ineffective, he's really bad. Last year, he gave up 2 runs 5 times, and never more than that. This year, he's already had a 5-run outing and 2 4-run outings. Most of the time, he's fine, and effective. But when he's struggling, he's getting hammered. Last year, in his bad outings, he was generally able to muddle through. But this year, when he isn't just right, he's getting hammered. He gave up 8 home runs last year in 83 innings - he's now given up 8 in 37 1/3 this year, more than twice the rate.

His velocity was down last night. It had looked, for the past couple of weeks, like he'd gotten it back to where it needed to be, but not last night. So the question right now is, was last night a "fluke", or a regression to early season form? Were the last first 5 weeks the norm, or the last 5? If he doesn't demonstrate, and fairly quickly, that last night and the beginning of the season were the exception, he's going to force them to make some kind of a move...

The Baseball Crank's looking at Foulke, too...

* - Last night was awful, but he didn't get all of the help he could have, either. If Olerud's in the game, that 8th inning double is probably an out, which makes it 8-6 going in to the 9th. If Ramirez' throw is little to the SS side, or if Bellhorn holds it, Boone's fly ball ends the game. If Payton doesn't miss the cut-off man, they either hold the go-ahead run at first, which changes the approach to Sizemore, or end the inning at 2nd. And he threw at least 6 strikes to Casey Blake, and any of the four balls could (and 3 should) have been strike 3, which gets them to the bottom of the 9th tied. The double off the wall is an out in most parks, the Hafner home run is a foul ball in most parks. I don't want to be misunderstood here - Foulke was bad, no doubt about it. But there were a lot of circumstances that made the results even worse...

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Tuesday, June 28, 2005

"OK, so I was wrong..."

This high school class is not judged by NBA personnel people to be as deep as last year's, from which eight prepsters were taken in the first 19 picks, the Celtics' Al Jefferson among them. But there is little doubt that Green, a 6-foot-8-inch, out-of-the-gym leaper, is the cream of this crop. He could go as high as No. 3 -- the Lakers, who own pick No. 10, lust after him and are trying to trade up -- and should fall no lower than eighth under even the most bizarre draft night scenarios.

- Peter May, Boston Globe, on Gerald Green, Tuesday morning. Green went 18th overall to the Celtics Tuesday night.

He will, in fact, be a historical marker of sorts -- the first high schooler selected in the last NBA draft allowing high schoolers to be selected.

- May. Green was the 3rd high school player selected, behind Martell Webster, who went 6th, and Andrew Bynum, who went 10th.

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Tom Verducci's disappointments

Tom Verducci's out with his All-Disappointment team in MLB so far, and he's very spotty. Some hit, some miss.

  • C: Jason Kendall, Oakland. Dishonorable mention: Victor Martinez.

    I've got no major complaint here. Neither one of these guys has been terrible, but neither has hit the way they were expected to, either.
  • 1B: Kevin Millar, Boston. Dishonorable mention: Jim Thome.

    I've made it quite clear where I stand on Kevin Millar. I'm certainly not going to defend him here.
  • 2B: Bret Boone, Seattle. Dishonorable mention: Kaz Matsui, Mark Bellhorn, Orlando Hudson.

    I don't see how Bellhorn warrants mention here. Are his numbers down from last year? Yes. Has he been a major disappointment? I don't see it. A minor disappointment at best, particularly when we're talking about less than half a season.

  • SS: Cristian Guzman, Washington. Dishonorable mention: Jack Wilson, Rafael Furcal, Orlando Cabrera, Edgar Renteria.

    Again, no complaint here.

  • 3B: Mike Lowell, Florida. Lowell gets the nod over an equally bad Aaron Boone, who comes with a note from his doctor. (He missed last season due to knee surgery.) Lowell's slump is mystifyingly long and deep. A legit 25-homer guy, he has hit only three and driven in 29 runs.
    Dishonorable mention: Boone, Sean Burroughs, Adrian Beltre.

  • Fine.
  • OF: Tony Womack, New York Yankees.

    If you want to talk about who's been bad, you need to talk about Womack. If you want to talk about disappointments, you need to talk about people from whom production can reasonably be expected. Womack's never been a good hitter. He's never been a good outfielder. That fact that he's a bad hitter and bad outfielder now shouldn't be considered a "disappointment" to anyone who had any kind of realistic expectations.
    OF: Juan Pierre, Florida.

    No argument. He's been dreadful, and should be much better.
    OF: Aubrey Huff, Tampa Bay. Dishonorable mention: Steve Finley, Corey Patterson, Casey Blake, Carlos Beltran.

    I'm sure the Angels are disappointed in what they're getting from Steve Finley, but they really shouldn't be surprised. The name that I'm surprised not to see here is Sammy Sosa. I'm not surprised with Sosa's performance, but he's been bad, and I thought most people expected him to be much better.

  • P: Eric Milton, Reds. Dishonorable mention: Carl Pavano, David Wells, Oliver Perez, Zack Greinke.

    David Wells has no business being on this list. None. Wells has been, for the most part, very good and very consistent. His ERA looks dreadful because of two starts, one in which he was injured in the 3rd and stayed in, and another in which he came back and apparently wasn't quite ready. In those two games, he gave up 13 ER in only 5 innings. Remove those two, and the Red Sox have gotten everything they could reasonably expect from the hefty lefty, and more than they're paying for.

    David Wells




    I'm sure that the Yankees and Pirates are disappointed in Carl Pavano and Oliver Perez, respectively. I think that the Red Sox are very satisfied with David Wells. I know that this Red Sox fan is...
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    An idea whose time has come...

    The Lost Liberty Hotel...
    On Monday June 27, Logan Darrow Clements, faxed a request to Chip Meany the code enforcement officer of the Towne of Weare, New Hampshire seeking to start the application process to build a hotel on 34 Cilley Hill Road. This is the present location of Mr. Souter's home.

    Clements, CEO of Freestar Media, LLC, points out that the City of Weare will certainly gain greater tax revenue and economic benefits with a hotel on 34 Cilley Hill Road than allowing Mr. Souter to own the land.

    The proposed development, called "The Lost Liberty Hotel" will feature the "Just Desserts Café" and include a museum, open to the public, featuring a permanent exhibit on the loss of freedom in America. Instead of a Gideon's Bible each guest will receive a free copy of Ayn Rand's novel "Atlas Shrugged."

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    Right now, the chant is true...

    The Baseball Crank is looking at why the Yankees are underachieving his pre-season projections. I haven't fully examined the EWSL that he's using, but looking back to his pre-season numbers, the one thing I'll say is this - I think any projection that had Carl Pavano the equal of Mike Mussina was overly-optimistic about Pavano. Particularly in that situation in New York, with that defense behind him.

    I was in the minority in the pre-season when I said that the Red Sox' pitching was better than they Yankee's.
    as good as Pavano and Wright were last year (and they were both excellent), I don't trust either one of them to come close to repeating what look like career years...I think that the Yankees just paid big money to two guys coming off of serious fluke career years.

    But overall, the Yankee pitching has been even worse than I expected.

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    Book meme

    Responding to the "book meme" wandering the blogosphere: (I got it from Chris Lynch - A Large Regular)

    1. Number of books

      Many. Very, very many. I have floor-to-ceiling bookshelves in 4 different rooms in my house, smaller bookshelves scattered about, and stacks everywhere. A lot of them are kid's books, but my no means a majority. When my wife and I went to London in 1990, we returned home with a suitcase full of books. We both have the book habit, badly. We have a Hotel California for books (they can check out, but they never leave.) We get a lot of Amazon boxes. I don't have anything close to an exact count, but I don't think that "several thousand" overstates it.

    2. Most recent purchase(s)

      The Runes Of The Earth - I ordered it, it came, my kids gave it to me for Father's Day.
      The Discovery of the Tomb of Tutankhamen
      The Secret Power of Music: The Transformation of Self and Society Through Musical Energy
      All God's Children and Blue Suede Shoes: Christians & Popular Culture (Turning Point Christian Worldview)

    3. Currently reading

      In preparation for going into The Final Chronicle Of Thomas Covenant, I'm re-reading the first two. This morning, I finished The Power That Preserves and started The Wounded Land. (I've read them 2 or 3 times before, but the last time was several years ago.)

      I'm also working my way through The Secret Power of Music, Latourette's A History Of Christianity and Harry Potter et le prisonnier d'Azkaban (to work on my French - it helps enormously to read something that you know as well as I know the Harry Potter books...)

      The most recent sports book that I've read is The Numbers Game, an outstanding baseball history that focuses on the statistics of the game and the people that developed them.

    4. Five books that "meant the most"

      To start with, I'm going to interpret this as "Five books that meant the most that aren't scripture and I didn't write." So that removes The Bible, and The Red Sox Fan Handbook (Everything you need to be a Red Sox fan … or to marry one) - My Book.

      Then I'm going to say that different things have had different meanings at different times. Here are ~5 that have had specific meanings at specific times:

      • The Hobbit and The Lord Of The Rings - When I read these the first time, I was probably 12, and when I finished them I put them down, saying "that was so wonderful that I'm not going to read them again until I forget it all, so I can experience it all again." I re-read the Hobbit several times, but didn't read the Ring trilogy again until 20 years later. No, I didn't forget everything, but it was wonderful again.

      • Atlas Shrugged - I bet I'm the first person to mention that, right? Ha, ha. I went through that soft-headed phase that so many do in the late teens, the "we should take care of everyone" phase. I don't agree with her on everything, I recognize that there are flaws in the book (I think I've still never finished Galt's entire speech) but it was a transformative (or restorative) experience.

      • While in college, I read Leon Uris' Exodus and Elie Wiesel's Night in close proximity. I then spent several months guilt-wracked for belonging to the same species as the perpetrators of the holocaust.

      • Summer Lightning - Someone I was working with handed me a copy of this, and I took it. I had never heard of this Wodehouse fellow before. Well, I loved every word, and have since read everything that I've been able to get my hands on. (The suitcase coming back from London had probably 25-30 Wodehouse books in it, things that were in print in England but not the US.) There have been 3 great masters of the English language - Shakespeare, Dickens and Wodehouse. (Twain was the master of the American language - similar but not the same thing.)

      • Witness - Whitaker Chambers wrote the greatest autobiography ever, and one of the definitive works on the political struggle between Communism and the West in the 20th century.

      • And a few more, in no particular order, that I carried with me even after putting down:

      I don't have a nomination for "worst book of all time." What I do have is my "most overrated book of all time." And that easily goes to The Catcher In The Rye. I read it again a couple of years ago, just out of curiousity, to see whether there was something that I'd missed. Nope. There's nothing there. The appeal (other than it's a trivially easy read for a high-school senior) completely escapes me.

    5. Next up?

      Anyone that happens to read this, feel free to respond and let me know.

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    "Would it have killed these people to say thank you?"

    Many of us were appalled last week by the unmitigated tripe run on the New York Times editorial page. OK, that's always the case, but there was something very special last week, a breathless account of an encounter between Fatina Abdrabboh and former VP Al Gore.
    I got on a treadmill and started running as hard as I could. As sweat dripped down my face, I reached for my towel, accidentally dropping my keys in the process. It was a small thing, I know, but as they slid down the rolling belt and fell to the carpet, my faith in the United States seemed to fall with them. I did not care to pick them up. I wanted to keep running.

    Suddenly a man, out of breath, but still smiling and friendly, tapped me on my shoulder and said, "Ma'am, here are your keys." It was Al Gore, former vice president of the United States. Mr. Gore had gotten off his machine behind me, picked up my keys, handed them to me and then resumed his workout.

    It was nothing more than a kind gesture, but at that moment Mr. Gore's act represented all that I yearned for - acceptance and acknowledgment.

    Ordinarily I reference articles with comments that you should go read the entire thing, but as short as this piece is, I don't recommend it.

    Chris Lynch had an amusing (and appropriately inappropriate) take on it the other day. Well, today, Jonah Goldberg's addressed it in The Goldberg File.
    About a month ago, I helped a Muslim woman with her groceries in a supermarket parking lot. She was dealing with her kids and her shopping cart started to roll away from her car with the groceries still inside. As it rolled, I saw a decent society of tolerance and kindness rolling away...Thank goodness I was there.

    Thank goodness this country produces heroes like me.

    I sprang into action. Walking more than a dozen yards without concern about the parking-lot traffic, heedless of the SUVs barreling along at 5 perhaps even 10 MPH — not even caring about what my fellow Americans might make of me giving aid and comfort to a Muslim woman. I knew that this woman’s faith in the American way of life was on the line! And I was going to do what was necessary! I grabbed that shopping cart and I pushed it through all the fear and bigotry this country has smothered that poor woman with. I pushed that shopping cart back to that woman’s minivan not so much so she could more easily unload her Cocoa Puffs, but because I have a dream. I have a dream that one day little Muslim boys and little Jewish boys, little Arab girls and little Scotch-Irish girls will be able to join hands as sisters and brothers and push that great shopping cart we call “America” together — with their one free hand.

    I don't use the word "hero" lightly, but I am the greatest hero in American history. Except, maybe, for Al Gore.

    Excellent - read it all...

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    Monday, June 27, 2005

    Supreme Court declares Constitution Unconstitutional

    The US Supreme Court ruled today that the United States Constitution is unconstitutional, and no longer carries the force of law. The Constitution was found to be invalid because it contained the phrase "in the year of our Lord," in clear violation of the establishment clause of the first amendment.

    Delivering the majority opinion, Justice John Paul Stevens wrote:
    Viewed on its face, this usage has no purported connection to God’s role in the formation of the calendar or the founding of our Nation; nor does it provide the reasonable observer with any basis to guess that it was erected to honor any individual or organization. The message transmitted by the text is quite plain: This nation endorses the divine code of the “Judeo-Christian” God.

    The adornment of our public documents with displays of religious symbols and messages undoubtedly provides comfort, even inspiration, to many individuals who subscribe to particular faiths. Unfortunately, the practice also runs the risk of “offend[ing] nonmembers of the faith being advertised as well as adherents who consider the particular advertisement disrespectful.”

    In a move that surprised many court-watchers, the Court went on to claim that "since the US Constitution has been declared unconstitutional, the government of the United States must be immediately disbanded."

    Congressional leaders offered no objections to the ruling. "Hey, if that's what the Supreme Court says, that's what the law is," said former Senate majority leader Bill Frist, packing his bag. "If they say that the constitution's unconstitutional, what right do I have to challenge them?" Former Senate minority leader Harry Reid commented that "I hate to leave Washington, but at least that lying loser in the White House isn't in charge any longer."

    Apparently, it is still theoretically possible for the people in the former United States of America to re-form a new government. But, warns Justice Ginsburg, "there'd better not be any of that 'God' nonsense involved..."

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    Tomase again

    I took John Tomase to task last week for his dreadful performance in an opinion piece in the paper, and attempting to defend it on the radio. He has a new column today (or maybe yesterday - it was clearly written before yesterday's game, or at least without reference to it) with which I largely agree. In Red Sox suddenly playing role of beasts in AL East, he puts forth the (obvious) theory that "right now the smart money's on Boston" in the AL East race (as some of us have been saying since the off-season.)

    I think he's mostly right, but I'm still ticked off about last week, so the problems that are in there are going to get pointed out.

    The Sox haven't held first later than July 2 since their last pennant-winning season of 1995.

    Their last pennant-winning season was 2004. You don't get to go to the World Series if you don't win the pennant. 1995 was the last time that they won their division. Not the same thing, and a baseball writer should know that. (So should the sports editor, for that matter.)
    Manny Ramirez is hitting like Manny Ramirez for the first time all season.

    No, he's not. He's done it earlier, in short streaks. In fact, as I pointed out earlier, he was fine through the middle of May, just missing a few singles. He did have a dreadful 3 week stretch, but otherwise, he's been just fine all year. From 5/18 through 6/12 he was awful. The rest of the year, he's been very, very good.

    Manny Ramirez



    Rest 491810.2820.3880.6411.029

    Do those look like the numbers of someone "hitting like Manny Ramirez for the first time all season?" I don't think so. It's just more evidence that John's not interested in (or, alternately, capable of understanding) the facts.
    He's batting .313 with five home runs, 16 RBIs and a .984 OPS in June. He's been hammering the ball to all fields, at least temporarily cured of the lackadaisical results that marred his April and May.

    But a week ago "he didn't care." He "was robbing the Red Sox." He was "giving a metaphorical middle finger to the fans." Did his approach change this week, or just his results? And a week ago, at least in the paper, it wasn't the "results" that were "lackadaisical" - it was the approach, the effort. It was wrong then, it remains wrong.
    There are still questions about a bullpen that counts Mike Timlin as its only reliable member.

    There are still questions about the bullpen, but look at it a little more closely, John.

    Since May 12
    PlayerGamesW L SvIPHRBBKERA

    Mike Timlin 1810020.672134161.31

    Keith Foulke 1830618.671655162.41

    Mike Myers 1831011.3384463.18

    Foulke has been fine, very good and reliable, since early May. Mike Myers has been fine, good and reliable since early May. The fact that Foulke struggled early doesn't mean that he's not reliable now. The fact that his ERA is still high doesn't mean that he's not pitching well. Look beyond the surface...

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    Monday Pythagorean Report

    This week's Pythagorean report shows the Red Sox moving into first place in the East, and back into the play-offs in the projections:

    AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 6/27/2005









    New York5.39(2)5.05(12)0.529(8)40353837-2





    Kansas City4.34(13)5.69(13)0.378(13)28462549-3

    Tampa Bay4.66(7)6.21(14)0.371(14)28482650-2

    Top 5 projections (using current winning %)





    Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)





    Standings for the week










    New York6.14(3)7.14(13)0.431(9)3425-1

    Tampa Bay5.14(7)6.43(10)0.399(10)34340




    Kansas City3.33(13)7.67(14)0.179(14)1506-1

    Well, that's a nice little week now, isn't it? Whenever you start a week 3 down in the loss column and finish the week 3 up in the loss column, you've got to say that that was a productive week. They improved their relative position against the Orioles by 6 games and against the Yankees by 5.

    • 2 games in which they took big leads and had to hold on. 1 game in which they never had a lead until the 9th. 3 wire-to-wire wins that were never in doubt. They did everything they needed to do, won every way.

    • There are 5 half-innings that are particularly interesting. They trailed Cleveland 3 separate times on Tuesday night. Each time that the Indians took a lead, the Red Sox tied it immediately, in the next half inning. Then, they took their first lead of the night in the 9th. Yesterday, Philadelphia tied it in the 7th after being down by 7 runs twice. It took the Red Sox two (2) pitches in the top of the 8th to regain the lead. It took them eight (8) pitches to get the lead up to 4, and effectively end the game.

      Damon - first pitch Bunt single
      Bellhorn - first pitch RBI double
      Ortiz - first pitch infield single
      Ramirez - first pitch sacrifice fly
      Nixon - first pitch fielder's choice
      Varitek - 3rd pitch home run

      It was astounding to watch. They scored their first run on the 2nd pitch, their second run on the 4th pitch. Two more on the 8th.

    • Schilling threw two simulated games, threw well, threw easy, and is going out for a rehab start. Prediction - no other contender acquires a Schilling-caliber pitcher between now and the end of the season...

    • "I look at the rosters, and I think Boston's the best team in the East. I thought so before the season started, and I think so today. I think that at some point they'll get some home games (they've played 10 more on the road than at home), and Schilling will get back, and Arroyo will find himself again, and they'll go on a good run, 16-of-20 or something like that, and move into first place and stay there."

      That's what I said two weeks ago today, June 13. They're 11-1 since, and have moved in to first. We'll have to wait and see if they stay there, but I expect them to. I think that they are the best team in the East, probably the best team in the AL despite what Chicago's done, and I don't expect them to get caught. (Which, given my track record on these things, they probably will be next week...)

    • "Baltimore's going to Toronto and Atlanta. I think that the Sox could pick up ground this week if they play well."

      That's what I said last week.

    • They're coming home to face a Cleveland team that they beat on the road 3 straight last week. The Yankees are going to Baltimore, so one of the two will lose for the next three nights. The Sox cannot continue to play the way they're playing. Hopefully the let-down, when it comes, is neither long nor severe...

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    Sunday, June 26, 2005

    Rove was right

    Scott Johnson at Powerline has more anecdotal evidence that Karl Rove was right last week.

    (H/T to PoliPundit)

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    Shouldn't you have to, like, you know, know something to do commentary?

    Once upon a time, there was Monday Night Baseball. And the Saturday afternoon game of the week. And those were good things, because all games weren't televised. You followed your team through the newspaper articles, and then when you saw them, you'd get the national broadcasters. Now, if you're a Red Sox fan in New England, every game's available to you, and covered by broadcasters that do all of the games, follow the team, travel with the team, know the team. And occasionally they get taken off for national broadcasters who don't know the team. Like Jon Miller and Joe Morgan on ESPN, or Joe Buck and Tim McCarver on FOX. Well, yesterday was one of the FOX games, and Joe Buck made one of the stupidest pieces of commentary ever. I actually stopped and rewound to make sure I'd heard correctly.

    Joe Buck: "Youkilis may end up some day like Hillenbrand. Somebody that had a ton of hitting potential, couldn't wedge his way into the lineup, they move him, don't get much for him - Byung Hyun Kim, who's with Colorado now - And then Hillenbrand is a guy that the Red Sox, and a lot of other teams, would line up to try to get."

    1. There have probably not been two more dis-similar hitters come through the Red Sox farm system in the last 10 years. Youkilis, with spectacular plate discipline, the "Greek God of Walks", and Swing-away Shea Hillenbrand.

    2. As opposed to being someone who couldn't "wedge his way into the lineup," Hillenbrand was playing every day before he was traded, keeping the superior Bill Mueller and David Ortiz in irregular roles.

    3. They didn't "not get much" for him. They got an outstanding relief pitcher, who was still young, still inexpensive, and already had a tremendous Major League track record. He came in and completely stabilized a position of need, and was a big part of the 2003 Red Sox play-off push. Meanwhile, the offense improved with the subtraction of Hillenbrand, because both Mueller and Ortiz were better. So it was a great trade for the Red Sox.

    4. There is no way on God's Green Earth that the Red Sox are going to "line up to try to get" Shea Hillenbrand, a player that would fill no holes for them, who's approach to the game is the opposite of everything that they want to do, and who went on the radio calling the GM derogatory names when he left.

    Other than that, though, it was a pretty incisive piece of commentary...

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    Saturday, June 25, 2005

    Fake? I don't know. Accurate? Definitely...

    That great picture that John Podhoretz found which has amused many of us for the last couple of days:

    has been deemed a fake by some on the left, apparently offended that anyone might think a Democrat would wear such a crude slogan in the presence of a statesman like Bill Clinton.

    There are only a couple of problems with that.

    1. This isn't something that just got posted at Free Republic - it's an AP photo, hosted on the Yahoo news feed.

    2. "While some of the letters are at varying angles, apparently following the contours of the shirt, not one of them is distorted by a change in contour within the letter." I'm not a photoshop expert, but I don't think that that's correct.

      • Clearly the right leg of the "h" in "who" is narrower than the left. The "h" in heard which is the same font has both legs of equal width.

      • The left side of the adjoining "o" is narrower than the right.

      • The "r" in heard is creased through the upper left. Consequently, it's narrower than the "r" in "ever", despite being the same font.

      • The "a" at the end of the 3rd line is considerably narrower than the "a" in "heard", despite, again, being the same font.

      • The first "e" in "piece" is significantly narrower than the 2nd "e" in piece, clearly distorted by the change in contour within the letter.

    3. The phrase has been circulating amongst Democratic circles since at least August and September of 2004 (scroll down to "Comments" and you'll see this - "Now that's a bumper sticker! I want a t-shirt!") - it's not something that some enterprising wing-nut in the AP invented to make Democrats look immature."

    4. While I haven't found that exact T-shirt design, you can see that slogan on shirts (and mugs and bumper stickers, etc.) here.
      And here.
      And here.
      And here.
      And here's the slogan on a bumper sticker available by following a link from the DNC.
      And here's a blog comment from April of 2003: "I was at the Democratic Party website and I just LOVE these bumper stickers: "Regime change begins at home," "Save the Environment: Plant a Bush Back in Texas," "Democrats are sexy: whoever heard of a great piece of elephant," and "When in doubt, start a war." I think I need to get some of them!"

      And here's a picture of a college-age female wearing one proudly.

    Again, I've no way of knowing for sure whether there was photo-shopping involved here. But there's no obvious reason to think so, and there's no reason to think that the image created is somehow unfair to Democrats or unrepresentative of certain members of the Democratic party.

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    Real story vs. reported story - here we go again...

    Oh-oh. Here's a story. US acknowledges torture at Guantanamo and Iraq, Afghanistan: UN source. According to a story released by Agence France-Presse (essentially the French AP), we do in fact have TORTURE at Gitmo.

    Boy are my cheeks red. I'm going to have to apologize to Senator Durbin, aren't I?

    Uh, no. I'm not. Because, as one would expect, they've buried the lede. What's the story here? It's the same basic story that was so mangled by the world-wide press on Abu Ghraib.

    Here's the story that AFP reported:

    GENEVA (AFP) - Washington has for the first time acknowledged to the United Nations that prisoners have been tortured at US detention centres in Guantanamo Bay, as well as Afghanistan and Iraq, a UN source said.

    The acknowledgement was made in a report submitted to the UN Committee against Torture, said a member of the ten-person panel, speaking on on condition of anonymity.

    But here's the real story, buried down in the middle of the story:
    "They said it was a question of isolated cases, that there was nothing systematic and that the guilty were in the process of being punished."

    The US report said that those involved were low-ranking members of the military and that their acts were not approved by their superiors, the member added.

    So the actual lede should have read something like this:
    The United States Military continues to monitor its members, and to act against them whenever they act unlawfully. Certain members of the military have acted unlawfully at Guantanamo Bay, and are facing charges as a result.

    But no, it doesn't sound like the US are the bad guys when you write it that way. So it doesn't get written, despite the fact that that's what the story actually is...

    Others on it:
  • Captain Ed

  • The Anchoress

  • Wizbang
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    Friday, June 24, 2005

    Why ballplayers hate reporters - Example 199875

    Those of you not in the Boston area, or smart enough not to subject yourself to WEEI on a regular basis, have probably missed the John Tomase story this week. Tomase writes for the Lawrence Eagle-Tribune, here in good old Lawrence, Mass, and he ran a column on Monday that was staggering in its bile, mean-spiritedness and ignorance, as he hammered Manny Ramirez for "robbing the Red Sox." It was so bad that it drew the attention of the afternoon show on WEEI, at which point Tomase compounded his problem by appearing on the show on Wednesday and making matters worse. (For my take on the vast majority of Manny issues, see this.)

    Frankly, it was a loathesome column, and it warrants further response. I'd not read all of it, and it's gone from the website, but my local convenience store still had some copies of Monday's paper. So I picked one up and read it. It's awful. Completely uncalled for.

    In the six seconds it takes to read this sentence, Manny Ramirez will make three dollars and 78 cents. Check back in an hour, and he'll be $2268 richer. By this time tomorrow, his bank account will hold an extra $54,432.

    For any of you out there that thought Manny was working for minimum wage, let John disabuse you of that notion. Of course, this is Manny's fifth year in Boston, and he's been earning at that rate the whole time, so I'm not quite sure what the point is.

    Well, I do, of course. He's rich - you should be jealous and hate him.
    Ponder those numbers, and now consider this: Ramirez earned (and we use that term very, very loosely) more yesterday than most of us will take home in a year to sit on the bench with an injury that can be best classified as an owie.

    I saw that pitch that hit him on Saturday. I didn't think it looked like "an owie." I thought they were lucky he wasn't seriously hurt, when it hit him on the bone just above the ankle. Of course (as we'll see later), Tomase never bothered to talk to one of the trainers.

    It would be funny if it weren't so infuriating.

    What's infuriating? That he sat down while injured, or that he made so much money while he was sitting?

    And if you want to get worked up about how much money someone makes per game, why don't you pull out your little calculator and work out the figures for Curt schilling or Matt Clement or Roger Clemens or Pedro Martinez, none of whom will play in more the 35-36 games this year, as opposed to Manny's 150+...

    The free pass Ramirez has received this season from the fans, the media and his teammates is mystifying. But the time has come for someone in the clubhouse to call him out over a disgraceful pattern of behavior that, left unchecked, will only worsen.

    Which pattern is that, John?
    Manny Ramirez does not care this season.

    Wow. Manny "does not care." Those are pretty strong words, John. I assume that you've got some pretty compelling evidence to back them up.
    And do not believe for even a single solitary second anyone who claims otherwise or tries to justify his disinterest by saying he acted the same during successful seasons past.

    You mean like all those beat writers that actually travel with the team? The broadcasters? The likes of Remy and Macadam and Orsillo who all say that Manny's no different? They travel with the team and deal with them on a daily basis, but we shouldn't believe them, only you, who don't travel with the team. Man, that evidence had better be damned compelling, and it not only needs to demonstrate that "Manny does not care," it needs to explain why everyone else is lying to us.
    Players who care don't overtly pine for retirement with three years remaining on a contract that could have inspired Coleridge to poeticize albatrosses.

    "Pine for retirement?"

    What did Manny say? On April 8, he said:
    "That's it. I'm trying to play three more years. I just want to go out there and have fun and play the game for fun because in three years it'll be over for me and I'll go be with my family. Family comes first. Once you're done, you're done, but the game is always there. I've accomplished everything I want to accomplish."

    Pretty compelling evidence that Manny "does not care." And that he didn't act "the same during successful seasons past."

    Not. Keep in mind that this is the same Manny Ramirez who wanted out of Boston after 3 months in a Red Sox uniform, who was reportedly willing to walk away from his 8-year contract after 1. You want to show that there's something different about Manny this year, you're going to have to do better than that.
    Players who care don't leave games after getting hit by pitches that wouldn't have hurt a Little Leaguer. Players who care don't seek days off like the office hypochondriac.

    Red Sox games played:
    David Ortiz - 70 (the vast majority of which were at DH, meaning 4-5 plate appearances and nothing else.)
    Manny Ramirez - 67
    Everyone else on the team - less
    Ramirez has done all of these things in a brazen affront to the organization and a metaphorical middle finger to its fans. The days of writing off his behavior as quirky are over. He's robbing the Red Sox and more than indirectly contributing to the cost of baseball's highest tickets.

    A "metaphorical middle finger to its fans?" There's a calm, dispassionate phrase.

    As for that economic idiocy at the end, he is NOT "more than indirectly contributing to the cost of baseball's highest tickets." He is indirectly contributing, but not more than that. They've sold virtually every ticket that they have for the past several years. If Manny dropped his salary to $0, does John Tomase think that ticket prices would fall by so much as a nickel? Is John Henry an idiot?

    Indirectly, of course, Manny does contribute to the ticket prices. Without Manny and other players of his caliber, there wouldn't be the same demand for the tickets, and the prices would probably (eventually) come down. But Manny's $20 million per year has no effect on what they're charging - if he was getting $40 million or $40,000, it wouldn't change the fundamentals that set the ticket prices.

    Or does John Tomase think that Final Four tickets are free because the players don't get paid?
    The latest dustup stems from Saturday's 2-0 loss to the Pirates. Soft-throwing left-hander Dave Williams plunked Ramirez above the left ankle in the third inning. Down went Manny.

    Out came manager Terry Francona and trainer Jim Rowe as Ramirez attempted to steady himself on his bat: He reached his feet but remained doubled over.

    To the surprise of more than one member of the front office and no doubt many teammates as well, Ramirez took first. But the wheels were turning, the opportunity to take the rest of the evening off too tempting.

    Two innings later brought the inevitable. Kevin Millar moved TO left, Kevin Youkilis manned first and Manny called it a night.

    Did you talk to a trainer John? Find out if the injury was, maybe, real? A baseball off the non-padded bone above the ankle - couldn't that conceivably be a real injury?
    It's not the first time he's pulled such a stunt and it won't be the last. According to a clubhouse source, teammates seethed when Ramirez left a game against the Mariners on May 8 three innings after getting hit in the thigh by a Joel Pineiro pitch.

    They wondered how Ramirez could in good conscience take a day off while right fielder Trot Nixon played on a knee requiring surgery. They wondered how he could live with himself when center fielder Johnny Damon played through enough bumps and bruises to land on the disabled list.

    Frankly, they were stunned a day later when a Dan Haren slider glanced off Ramirez' batting helmet but didn't lead to a mini­vacation.

    All of this may sound a bit over the top given the fact that Ramirez has missed only four games all season.

    Gee - you think so?
    But the front office's exasperation is palpable.

    They're so frustrated that no one will go on the record with any kind of comment at all, not even a deep-background quote. Not a Gammons' style "anonymous GM" quote. Not a single "someone with connections to the Red Sox front office" quote. It's palpable to John Tomase, but no one else has any of it, and none of the people traveling with the team back it up. Forgive my skepticism...
    Ramirez may rank among the league leaders in homers and RBIs, but the bulk of his production has come in a trio of four­game stretches that account for 11 of his 14 homers and 26 of his 51 RBIs.

    Cherry-picking. Multiple end-points statistical manipulation of the most dishonest kind. (Believe me, I know, having done it myself...) His 16 home runs (before tonight) have come in 14 games. Whether those were in 3 groups of 5 or scattered evenly throughout the season is utterly irrelevant to their value to their team, and says nothing about whether Manny does or does not "care."
    So while the fans take out their frustration on players like Millar and Mark Bellhorn, who barely make $6 million a year between them, Ramirez coasts along, hitting .260,

    No one's claiming that he's having a vintage Manny season. It's called a slump. They happen to everyone. Through 1989, Wade Boggs career average was .352. In 1990, he hit .302. Did that mean he didn't care? Or was it just a down year?
    disappearing in the clutch

    For what it's worth, his "close and late" OPS is .878, virtually the same as his overall OPS.
    and taking the occasional day off.

    Very occasional. Fewer than anyone else on the team other than Ortiz. John Tomase's obviously got a problem with Manny's salary, but providing no evidence whatsoever that we're dealing with anything other than a slump. Which happens to everyone.
    In an unfortunate bit of timing yesterday, the center field score­board featured Ramirez as the Red Sox Hero between the second and third innings.

    He was chilling in the dugout, presumably icing his bruised leg, adding 63 cents to his change purse with every tick of the second hand.

    And there we are, back to the salary again. He's obviously got a problem with what Manny's making, which is just foolish. Every baseball player's overpaid. A large number of players can be made to look foolish, or greedy, or overpaid by playing that game.

    "The Red Sox played 6 games this week. David Wells made $49,382.72 for the one that he pitched. He made $49,382.72 for each of the 5 that he sat in the dug-out and watched."

    So does that fixation on the salary tell you more about Manny Ramirez or John Tomase? No question about it, is there...
    The All-Star break looms. Be fully prepared for Manny to extend it by a game or two in either direction, just as he did in 2003 and 2004.

    You know, because he cares.

    If he doesn't, John, you've offered no proof. You've offered no evidence. You've offered nothing whatsoever other than childish salary-sniping.

    Anyway, as I said, he appeared on WEEI later in the week, and just made things worse.

    First, in response to a comment from Glenn Ordway that the fans have accepted Manny for what he is:
    Yeah, now see - that’s what I have a big issue with. Why - why is that acceptable? Well that’s like saying, you know, Jeffery Dahmer’s had people in his freezer for a while now, so, you know, that’s what he does.

    This is not a very bright human being, or very aware. After a week with everyone pounding on Dick Durbin for his horribly inapt comparisons, he wants to compare a baseball player leaving a game after being hit to a cannibalistic serial killer? I don't think so. Horribly over-the-top. Really inexcusable hyperbole.

    A little later, Steve Burton went after him.

    SB: "When you say Manny doesn't care, Manny's one of the hardest workers on the team. Do you ever see him working away from things?"
    JT: "Absolutely. But these are two distinct things right here."
    SB: "Wait a minute - how come that's not in this piece?"
    JT: "Because that was not the point of this piece."

    You just have to laugh. The whole article, the point is that Manny doesn't care. He doesn't have any evidence, but he does know that Manny's one of the hardest workers on the team, and none of that makes it in because "that was not the point of this piece."

    And there was this beauty:
    I've seen how he acts. We could go through the litany of All Star breaks, leaving early for the sick grandma, or last year with the hamstring, where he basically took July off.

    The Red Sox played 26 games in July last year. Manny played in 24, and hit .299/.410/.621/1.030 with 10 2B, 6 HR and 22 RBI. I don't know what he's talking about, but that's fair, because he doesn't know what he's talking about either.
    Even this year he's been disinterested on the field for much of the season. Disinterested to me? Swinging early in the count like he was doing. Being one of the easiest outs in the game late in the game which is what he had been doing up until the last, like, 3 or 4 weeks.

    It sounds damning. The problem is, it's just not true. He was fine through the middle of May, just missing a half dozen singles. Everything else in stat line was fine, including his pitches per plate appearance (where he's still very close to his career average anyway.) Then he had a 3-4 week stretch where he did change his approach, and start swinging more and stop walking. It sure didn't look like disinterest to me - I think he got concerned about everyone talking about his batting average and started pressing.

    As to the "easy out late in games", I don't buy it. However divides it up in their stats, he's got 17 at-bats against right-handed pitching in "close and late" situations, with 9 hits and a walk. He's 1-6 in that situation against lefties, for a total of 10-23 with a walk. I don't think that's an "easy out."

    So finally, they got to pressing him about the big question - "how is he any different than he's been since day 1?"
    Well, I think the big thing is, we're glossing over the fact that he has not produced to a level commensurate with his abilities for the last year.

    Yes, he's had a down period, where he's been merely very good instead of outstanding. How does that prove that he "does not care?"

    It doesn't.

    Larry Johnson: "Have you talked to any trainers?"
    John Tomase: "No, no trainers, no."

    It went on. And on. And on. They kept pressing him on what's changed, what's his evidence for Manny being disinterested. All he had to offer was that Manny's had a down period of production. And anonymous people with vague complaints.

    It was a woeful performance. He was awful in the paper, he was awful on the radio, and he gives no impression of having any idea what he was talking about. For the first time in 3 years, I wish our subscription to the Eagle-Tribune hadn't lapsed, because I'd love to call and cancel...

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    Boston's problem child...

    (I wrote this a couple of years ago, when the anti-Manny fervor was at a particularly high point.)

    The Boston Red Sox have got a problem. They've got a player and they don't know if they want him back or not.

    They've got an expensive outfielder, Mr. R-, who's not as complete a player as some would like to see. He's cost them a lot of money, and will cost more in the future. And he's not the "5-tool" player that media and fans crave.

    Take his defense, for example. He's an average and indifferent defender, far more concerned with hitting than with fielding. He's got a decent arm, but doesn't always throw the ball to the right place.

    And then there's the baserunning. He's not a very good baserunner. He doesn't always pay attention on the bases, running into outs, getting picked off, jogging instead of sprinting on easy ground ball. He's a great hitter, but is that enough?

    And there are problems off the field, as well. If you're looking for a player who's disciplined, a player who responds well to management, who respects authority, you need to look somewhere else. Mr. R- marches to the beat of his own drummeer, doing what he wants when he wants regardless of the potential impact on his teammates. Is the manager in charge of this team? Not really, at least so far as Mr. R- is concerned. He lives his own life and does his own thing. He's a great hitter, but is that enough?

    Can the team survive with this kind of player? Can they succeed? Maybe, just maybe, they can find someone to take this expensive player off of their hands. But should they? He's a great hitter, but is that enough?

    And should anyone else be willing to take a chance on him? Yes, he's a great hitter, but is that enough? Why should anyone else be willing to take this overpaid problem child off of the Red Sox' hands? After all, pitching is the name of the game. Defense and pitching wins championships, and hitting just doesn't matter. So a great hitter who's an average defender, poor baserunner and responds poorly to management just has to be more trouble than he's worth, right? It seems that the only thing for Red Sox management to do is to find someone on whom to dump Mr. R-...

    So long, Mr. "Babe" Ruth. It was nice knowing you. You can be someone else's problem now...

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    Odds and ends from the AFI's list...

    A couple of sub-lists, from the list of the AFI's Top 100 Quotes:

    AFI Top 100 quotes - Films represented more than once
    MovieNumber of Quotes

    Casablanca, 1942.6

    Gone With the Wind, 1939.3

    The Wizard of Oz, 1939.3

    A Streetcar Named Desire, 1951.2

    Jerry Maguire, 1996.2

    Sunset Blvd., 1950.2

    The Graduate, 1967.2

    AFI Top 100 quotes - Actors represented more than once
    MovieNumber of Quotes

    Humphrey Bogart5

    Al Pacino3

    Bette Davis3

    Marlon Brando3

    Tom Hanks3

    Vivien Leigh3

    Arnold Schwarzenegger2

    Charlton Heston2

    Clint Eastwood2

    Dustin Hoffman2

    Faye Dunaway2

    Gloria Swanson2

    Jack Nicholson2

    Jimmy Cagney2

    Judy Garland2

    Sean Connery2

    Tom Cruise2

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    The Constitution says...The Constitution means...

    One of the fun features that Mad Magazine would occasionally so was "what they say - what it means."

    Well, it's time for a look at the Supreme Court and the US Constitution...

    According to the Supreme Court…
    What the constitution says: What it (apparently) means: Cite

    The Congress shall have Power...To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes; "Among" really means "within." "Commerce" really means "no commerce." Someone can't grow marijuana in their own house, for their own use, with no intent of selling it anywhere, much less across state lines, even if the people of his/her have decided that it's a lawful activity. Raich

    Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press Congress can determine who spends what on elections, who gets to advertise, how and when and where they do it. Congress can even stop advocacy groups from advertising in the run-up to elections. Because none of that activity involved in getting political messages out actually qualifies as "speech."McCain-Feingold

    No person shall ... be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation. City and state governments can take your house and land away, even though it's not "blighted", even though it's well-maintained and you've been there for 60 years, and give it to someone else as long as they promise to generate higher tax revenues (or at least make generous campaign contributions to local officials…)Kelo

    The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people. The powers reserved to the States can't actually be exercised by those States, however, if they're exercised in a manner that offends the sensibilities of 5 members of the Supreme Court, or their liberal friends, or the grand high muckety-mucks of those "civilized" nations in Europe in which those justices would like to vacation. Lawrence

    Excessive bail shall not be required...nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted."Cruel and unusual" means "the French don't do it that way…"Roper

    No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States...nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."Equal protection" means "UN-equal protection"Grutter

    More from:
  • Michelle Malkin

  • Betsy Newmark

  • Captain Ed

  • Begging To Differ

  • New England Republican

  • Patterico

  • Wizbang

  • Gerry Daly (who's comment - "this decision would almost certainly have come down the other way had the Democrats never “Borked” Robert Bork" - is almost the exact same comment that I made yesterday on hearing the decision - "Yet another reason, in the long list of reasons, to weep for the failed Bork nomination...")

  • Professor Bainbridge - Must read...
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    Thursday, June 23, 2005

    Not everything bad needs to be illegal...(part 2)

    Nice rant from Chris Lynch today about smoking bans, and their desirability. It's an interesting question, and I tend to agree with most of what he said.
    Some people simply didn't want smoking in bars and restaurants but market forces that created a limited number of smoke free environments wasn't enough for them. These people wrongly established laws based upon things that may or may not be true and were able to foist their belief system upon others. This way of doing things is no better than activist judges in my book...Smoking bans were enacted via bad-science and legislative back doors. I like eating in smoke free restaurants but I'm not willing to trade that in exchange for bad laws.

    I loathe cigarette smoke. Hate it. Frankly, my life is much more pleasant than it would have been 30 years ago. I don't have to ask for non-smoking sections in restaurants, there's no issue with smoke in the workplace (20 years ago when I started, there were people smoking at their desks.) Frankly, I'm thrilled that I don't have to put up with it.

    I also think that a bar or restaurant that wants to allow its patrons to smoke should be able to...

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    More on Kelo...

    Kelo Et Al. v. City Of New London Et Al.
    Justice Sandra Day O'Connor has (rightly, in my opinion) taken a lot of heat from the right over the years. Today I want to quote her, because I think she's absolutely 100% right.
    Over two centuries ago, just after the Bill of Rights was ratified, Justice Chase wrote:
    “An ACT of the Legislature (for I cannot call it a law) contrary to the great first principles of the social compact, cannot be considered a rightful exercise of legislative authority .... A few instances will suffice to explain what I mean .... [A] law that takes property from A. and gives it to B: It is against all reason and justice, for a people to entrust a Legislature with SUCH powers; and, therefore, it cannot be presumed that they have done it.” Calder v. Bull, 3 Dall. 386, 388 (1798) (emphasis deleted).

    Today the Court abandons this long-held, basic limitation on government power. Under the banner of economic development, all private property is now vulnerable to being taken and transferred to another private owner, so long as it might be upgraded—i.e., given to an owner whowill use it in a way that the legislature deems more beneficial to the public—in the process. To reason, as the Court does, that the incidental public benefits resulting from the subsequent ordinary use of private property render economic development takings “for public use” is to wash out any distinction between private and public use of property—and thereby effectively to delete the words “for public use” from the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment.

    This is such a, to borrow a phrase, "self-evident truth" that it literally boggles the mind to find it expressed in the minority opinion.

    I was one of the many voices raised in outrage over the comments made by Senator Durbin. It is, to my mind, not acceptable to compare Guantanamo Bay to the Soviet Gulag. And that's not what I'm about to do.

    But if we no longer own property, just hold it at the whim of some "central planning committee," which is what this decision seems to say, how is our system any better than the 20th century Soviet system? Wasn't that the essence of the communist economic system? "We have central planning committee's to determine what to do with the people's property." Well, damn it, this wasn't "the people's" property. This is the property of the Kelos and the Derys. It isn't blighted, it isn't there for the City of New London to give to Pfizer, and it is absolutely outrageous that the United States Supreme Court says that they can.

    From the majority opinion:

    For more than a century, our public use jurisprudence has wisely eschewed rigid formulas and intrusive scrutiny in favor of affording legislatures broad latitude in determining what public needs justify the use of the takings power.

    I question - strongly - the placement of the adverb "wisely" in that sentence. If there is anything that legislatures ever do that warrants "intrusive scrutiny," it is the confiscation of private property for "public use," ANY public use.
    Those who govern the City were not confronted with the need to remove blight in the Fort Trumbull area, but their determination that the area was sufficiently distressed to justify a program of economic rejuvenation is entitled to our deference.

    No, Justice Stevens, they were not. The people who were entitled to your "deference" were the United States citizens who owned that property.
    The City has carefully formulated an economic development plan that it believes will provide appreciable benefits to the community, including—but by no means limited to—new jobs and increased tax revenue. As with other exercises in urban planning and development,12 the City is endeavoring to coordinate a variety of commercial, residential, and recreational uses of land, with the hope that they will form a whole greater than the sum of its parts.

    Given the comprehensive character of the plan, the thorough deliberation that preceded its adoption, and the limited scope of our review, it is appropriate for us, as it was in Berman, to resolve the challenges of the individual owners, not on a piecemeal basis, but rather in light of the entire plan. Because that plan unquestionably serves a public purpose, the takings challenged here satisfy the public use requirement of the Fifth Amendment.

    So that's it? The City of New London thinks it can increase tax revenues by letting some other private enterprise have that piece of property, and that "unquestionably serves a public purpose?"

    I beg to differ.
    To avoid this result, petitioners urge us to adopt a new bright-line rule that economic development does not qualify as a public use...It is further argued that without a bright-line rule nothing would stop a city from transferring citizen A’s property to citizen B for the sole reason that citizen B will put the property to a more productive use and thus pay more taxes.

    Gosh, how could someone come to that conclusion? Just because you're doing it in this very decision?
    Such a one-to-one transfer of property, executed outside the confines of an integrated development plan, is not presented in this case.

    It's not? Oh, that's right, we have that quasi-governmental "New London Development Corporation" in between, and they don't count as citizen B, do they? Pfizer? Oh no, they're not taking the property - the New London Development Corporation is.

    Bloody brilliant. But I guess it worked, didn't it?
    Alternatively, petitioners maintain that for takings of this kind we should require a “reasonable certainty” that the expected public benefits will actually accrue. Such a rule, however, would represent an even greater departure from our precedent. “When the legislature’s purpose is legitimate and its means are not irrational, our casesmake clear that empirical debates over the wisdom oftakings—no less than debates over the wisdom of other kinds of socioeconomic legislation—are not to be carried out in the federal courts.”

    So it may not even accomplish the desired "public purpose" - we don't care. The City Of New London has a plan, they want the property, they claim a "public purpose" that consists of increased property values, they can't and won't prove it - good enough, Mrs. Dery, out of that house you've lived in for 60 years - we've got to build a parking lot...

    There have been cries, mainly on the left, of outrage at the contempt that people have aimed at the Supreme Court, at the judicial system in general. They've earned every single little bit of it...

    Best commentary so far is from Clayton Cramer.

    My contempt for the liberal end (or is that the back end?) of the Court grows everyday. There are rights that are explicitly contained in the Constitution, such as this guarantee about private property only being taken for public use--and the Court rationalizes a way around it. The same bunch, however, finds a right to have homosexual sex--a right that is, at best, implicit. What's the point of a written Constitution if the rights that are explicitly there get ignored, and rights that no one bothered to get approved by Congress and ratified by the states, are upheld?

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    You thought it was your house...

    But the US Supreme court says that you're wrong. Yet another reason, in the long list of reasons, to weep for the failed Bork nomination...
    "The city has carefully formulated an economic development that it believes will provide appreciable benefits to the community, including -- but by no means limited to -- new jobs and increased tax revenue," Justice John Paul Stevens wrote for the majority.

    He was joined by Justice
    Anthony Kennedy, David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer.

    Here we have modern "liberalism" in its essence:

    Writing for the court, Justice John Paul Stevens said local officials, not federal judges, know best in deciding whether a development project will benefit the community.

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    Quote Of The Day - Karl Rove

    Karl Rove: (H/T to Alexander McClure)
    Liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers. Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 and the attacks and prepared for war.

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    That's one way to stop flag-burnings...

    Even as the US House of Representatives attempts to place the American Flag into a protected status against protestation burnings, the White House is proposing that all new flags be constructed to include an embroidered, Arabic text of the Q'uran.

    "White House spokesman, Scott McClellan, noted that the amalgamation of American iconography and sacred literature will throw "baby boomers into a tizzy."

    What are they going to do next, desecrate the Bible?" he asked. "Talk about a conflicted group. Man alive.'

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    Wednesday, June 22, 2005

    Not everything bad needs to be illegal...

    What's the House of Representatives up to?Idiocy. Absolute idiocy.

    Not that I want to see people burning the flag. It's infuriating, immature, childish, pointless, gutless, useless and foolish. As a rule. But damn it, the Constitution protects freedom of speech, specifically political speech, and burning an American flag CLEARLY qualifies as political speech. (As long as you burn your own flag - if you burn someone else's, vandalism laws come into play.) But this is another assault on political speech, just like the McCain-Feingold monstrosity.

    It makes me ill to say this, but I agree with Jerrold Nadler.
    "If the flag needs protection at all, it needs protection from members of Congress who value the symbol more than the freedoms that the flag represents."

    "No man's life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session."
    - Mark Twain

    "Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government's purposes are beneficial."
    - Justice Louis Brandeis, US Supreme Court

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