Monday, November 27, 2006

ERA, Wins, Losses

The Baseball Crank has been using the new boxscore database at Baseball Reference to look at some notable pitchers, and their ERAs in wins and losses. Interesting stuff.

(It's something I've looked at before, on a real tiny scale, when I did the comparison between Roger Clemens - 1986 and Pedro Martinez - 2000.)

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Monday, November 20, 2006

The Opposite

Everyone who watched Seinfeld no doubt remembers an episode entitled The Opposite in which George and Elaine end up switching conditions. Whereas George starts off broke, unemployed and living with his parents, he ends up working for the Yankees, with a great apartment and a good-looking girlfriend, while, at the same time Elaine's life is making the opposite progression.

I note this as context for the following comment. A comment which I hate to make, but feel that I must.

The New England Patriots have become the Indianapolis Colts. The Indianapolis Colts have become the New England Patriots.

For the past few years, Patriots fans have looked upon the Patriots as tough as steel, nerveless Super-men who could not fail when the chips were down. A team that always did the right thing. A team that could face all comers and, if the game was important, come out on top. The Colts, on the other hand, were soft and pretty. Give them a weak sister, a team that was mediocre to bad, and they'd look like a machine, the fanciest, prettiest, sexist show on turf. Blow-outs were the norm, tight games the exception. And if it were tight, they'd lose.

Now look at what's happened. The Colts go into Denver and win. The Colts go into New England and win. The two toughest games on their schedule, road teams against the iron of the AFC, games that will almost certainly determine whether they can take the top spot in the AFC heading into the play-offs. Two games that are tight right to the end, that could be lost with a mistake - the Colts won them both.

The Patriots, on the other hand, have played two mediocre NFC teams in the last four weeks and demolished them both on the road, to the tune of 66-7. But the two games at home, against tougher AFC opponents, have been close, and lost by New England with a variety of self-inflicted wounds, and an inability to get the opponent off the field. Soft losses, losses that Patriots' fans would have expected of the Colts.

The Colts may revert to old form come post-season play. The Patriots, also, could play differently in the post-season than they have thus far. But through 11 weeks (10 games) of the NFL season, these two teams have been opposite of the perception of the past few years...

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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Washington Post discovers Democratic corruption

The Washington Post, this morning, is demonstrating that they aren't biased in favor of liberals, nosirree. What, just attack Republicans? Us? No way! This fascinating story by Ruth Marcus, prominently positioned on page A21, demonstrates that they aren't going to just roll over on corruption just because it's a Democrat being talked about! Nope, Marcus is actively going after Jack Murtha, going so far as to say that "On its own, Murtha's ... conduct is disqualifying."

"The Democrats intend to lead the most honest, most open and most ethical Congress in history," Pelosi pledged on election night. Five days later she wrote Murtha a letter endorsing his bid to become her No. 2.

Not the most promising start.

Given that everyone knew for the two months leading up to the election that a) congressional ethics and corruption were issues and b) Murtha was in line to become the House Majority Leader if the Democrats took control of the House, this must be some issue that's only come to light in the past couple of weeks. Given the amount of time and ink that the Post spent on whether or not George Allen might have used the 'n' word when he was in college 30 years ago, surely they'd have spent the time, in an election cycle where corruption was an issue, covering the ethics of the expected-to-be-incoming Congressional leadership, right? So clearly, there's been some new allegation against Murtha, something that's come up only since the election, something that they couldn't get a fix on beforehand, and therefore that they couldn't cover before the election.

Uh, sorry. I guess that's wrong. Murtha's ethical problems, the accusations of corruption, stem from his behavior during the ABSCAM investigation. In 1980. This is corruption from so far back that anyone who's graduated from college in the last 15 years has probably never heard of it. And the Washington Post has decided that it's a relevant issue now, but wasn't before the election. I expect that we'll see more stories about Democratic corruption now that it's too late for them to affect the election...

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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Boston wins rights to negotiate with Matsuzaka

It has now been officially announced that a) the Seibu Lions have accepted the highest posted bid for the rights to Daisuke Matsuzaka, b) The Boston Red Sox were the high bidder, and c) the bid was for a staggering $51.1 million. This gives the Red Sox the right to negotiate with Matsuzaka, and his agent, Scott Boras, for the next 30 days. If a contract agreement is not reached in that time, Matsuzaka will return to Seibu, and will not be eligible to play in the Major Leagues in the US in 2007.

"Clearly, we believe Mr. Matsuzaka is a real talent."
- Boston GM Theo Epstein, with what is obviously the understatement of the day.

(Just out of curiousity, is anyone else intrigued by the prospect of going into the 2007 season with a rotation of Schilling, Beckett, Matsuzaka, Papelbon and Wakefield?)

Obviously, there's no way, in plain baseball terms, to justify the posting fee, particularly given what the likely salary will be. But, as has been observed in other places, Boston is paying the entry fee to get their product into the Asian market. It may well turn out to be worth it.

ESPN has, in their story, run a nifty little sidebar about how that $51.1 million could assemble an All-Star pitching staff in its entirety, with some money left over. While true, as far as it goes, it's not the whole story. While Johann Santana and Brandon Webb and Roy Oswalt and Roy Halladay and Chris Carpenter don't combine to make $51.1 million, neither are any of them freely available (freely as in not costing any organizational talent), nor do any of them offer the potential of a new multi-million home market for NESN. In other words, it's the kind of apples vs. dump trucks comparions that looks cute and amusing in internet journalism sidebars without actually making anything useful in terms of a point...

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Thursday, November 09, 2006

With friends like these...

Former National Security Advisor (to President George H. W. Bush) Brent Scowcroft, talking to The Turkish Daily News.

Question: Hans Blix, the former weapons inspector in Iraq, says that country is worse off today than it was under Saddam Hussein. Do you agree?

Scowcroft: I don't know if it is worse, or better or what. I think it is different. If you are a Sunni you were probably better off before. If you are a Shiite you are probably better off now. Saddam maintained order by brutal suppression. Now the suppression is gone people are killing each other. So I don't know how to answer this.

Question: What went wrong? Didn't anyone tell this administration about the complex situation in that country with the Shiites, Kurds, etc.?

Scowcroft: I think the answer is obviously not.

Oh, that's it. They're all dimwits, who don't understand any of the "complexities" of the Middle East, cowboys who aren't capable of understanding the subtle nuances the way a Brent Scowcroft can. Nobody told them about the Shiites and the Kurds and the Sunnis.

Or maybe, just possibly, they knew about the complex situation, and decided that the job needed to be done anyway...

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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

On Filibusters

John Podhoretz
"Hey, gang of 14 haters
With Republicans in the minority, can you say right now you're sorry that the Senate rules still allow for a filibuster?

Hey, JPod - big fan, but can you say right now that it'll still be there if they actually try to use it?

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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Did my civic duty.

Talk about mixed emotions.

It's always wonderful to go into the voting booth and exercise the franchise. Even better, I had to show an ID this morning! Apparently, not everyone did - I don't know what the rules were, exactly. (Maybe just registered Republicans - that wouldn't surprise me :-( ) But that anyone did is a step in the right direction.

But what a depressing ballot. There were 13 races in which I had a chance to vote. The Republicans managed to get candidates in exactly three (3) of them. There were more Green/Rainbow candidates on the ballot than Republicans. No, that's not hyperbole, not exaggeration, not a joke. I voted - futiley - for Kerry Healey for Governor. I didn't even bother to vote for the Republican running against Ted Kennedy - the fact is that neither side has bothered to advertise in that race, because Kennedy will take 80+% of the vote. I wrote in Rick Santorum.

In other words, I voted, again, for no one who will win anything. Which is pretty typically what happens when I vote...

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Steyn. Is. The. Man.

Yet again, Mark Steyn cuts right to the heart of an issue, with this piece about John Kerry (or, as Steyn says, "Senator Nuancy Boy") and his "botched joke."
Whatever he may or may not have intended (and "I was making a joke about how stupid Bush is but I'm the only condescending liberal in America too stupid to tell a Bush-is-stupid joke without blowing it" must rank as one of the all-time lame excuses), what he said fits what too many upscale Dems believe: that America's soldiers are only there because they're too poor and too ill-educated to know any better. That's what they mean when they say "we support our troops." They support them as victims, as children, as potential welfare recipients, but they don't support them as warriors and they don't support the mission.

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Monday, November 06, 2006

Election results predictions

Tomorrow is election day. Time to earn my junior pundit merit badge with stunningly inaccurate predictions that, 24 hours from now, I'll look back on either as a product of my youth and inexperience, or a good joke to be enjoyed with a hearty chuckle...

Gubernatorial elections:

Only one that I've followed is here in Massachusetts. 16 years of the Republicans holding the corner office, and providing a (mostly weak and ineffective) check on the excesses of the super-majority Democratic legislature comes to an end as Deval Patrick wins handily over Kerry Healey.

House Of Representatives:

The conventional wisdom in the mainstream press has been, for a couple of months now, has been that the Democrats would take back the House of Representatives. Handily. Big Democratic wave. The conventional wisdom of the right half of the blogosphere for the past week or so is that the mainstream press has been "cocooned" and missed the story. I suspect that the truth is somewhere in the middle. I don't think that the Democrats take as many seats as the mainstream press does, but I think that they take enough. They need 15 seats - I think that they end up taking 17 or 18, giving us Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

I hope I'm wrong...


RI: The RSCC poured millions of dollars into defending Lincoln Chaffee, who only votes right once, on the organization of the Senate. Chaffee ekes out a race that looked lost 3 months, 2 months, 1 month, even 1 week ago. And the Republicans regret it if he provides the margin for holding the Senate, as he pulls a "Jumpin'" Jim Jeffords. (He'll only switch if that gives the Dems control...)

CT: Some of the nutroots are still engaged in the fantasy that Mr. Lamont goes to Washington. No chance. Lieberman wins, comfortably if not big.

NJ: Menendez is a crook. Tom Kean Jr. is an empty suit. The crook has a "-D," the empty suit has an "-R." The crook wins.

PA: In 1962, Edward McCormack told Ted Kennedy, in his first Senate campaign, that "if your name were Edward Moore, your candidacy would be a joke." I don't know what Bob Casey Jr's middle name is, but if it were his last name, that would hold here. Unfortunately, he's going to win, on the strength of his father's name, and the vilification of Rick Santorum. It's a closer loss than many expected, but it's a loss, and it is a signficant loss for conservatives in America, as Santorum is one of their best friends in the Senate.

VA: George Allen has had to run against James Webb and The Washington Post. He's not done either particularly well, but he's done it well enough to hang on.

MD: The shocker of the night. In a race that the mainstream press never, ever considered competitive, Michael Steele takes 30% of the black vote and becomes the only black Republican in the US Senate.

TN: In Maryland, Barack Obama urged voters to look beyond the color of the candidate's skin. In Tennessee, he asks them to send another black Senator. He doesn't get his request in either place, as Tennessee sends Bob Corker to Washington, and Harold Ford has to get a real job.

OH: Like Santorum in Pennsylvania, Dewine loses a tighter race than many expected, but he loses nonetheless.

MO: Jim Talent holds on. Wins by 3-4 points. And Amendment 2 goes down.

MN: Klobuchar holds the seat for the Democrats. In a different year, the Republicans might have challenged for this one, but the headwinds are just too strong.

MT: In a race that was given up two weeks ago, Conrad Burns storms back and survives.

Net: Democrats take 2 Republican seats (PA, OH). Republicans take 1 Democratic seat (MD). Democrats improve by 1, but remain in the minority in the US Senate.

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Lamont ad

In Connecticut, the pride of the nutroots, Ned Lamont, has decided to go down in a blaze of glory. It's apparently not enough for him that he's going to lose - he's decided to lose big, in an embarassing fashion, by accusing every Lieberman supporter of insanity...

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Sunday, November 05, 2006

Patriots - Colts

We're about 4 hours from kick-off now, on what looks to be the best match-up that the NFL season has to offer us. Not only are these very possibly the 2 best teams in football, almost certainly 2 of the best 3, but they're teams with great records and history together.

  • This game will, I'm convinced, determine the home field advantage in the AFC play-offs. If the Colts win, they virtually clinch. They'd be 8-0, two games ahead of both New England and Denver, with the tie-breaker advantage against each of them. If New England wins, they'll be tied with the Colts for the best record in the conference, with the tie-breaker advantage, and 8 winnable games remaining on the schedule.

    Let me soften that first line somewhat - if the Colts win tonight, they will certainly be the top seed in the AFC come play-off time. If the Patriots win tonight, the will likely be the top seed in the AFC come play-off time. If is easy to imagine a scenario in which New England wins tonight, but ends up 1 game behind the Colts. It is very difficult to imagine a scenario (in which Manning doesn't get hurt - if he does, everything changes) in which the Colts win tonight and end up behind anyone else in the AFC.

  • One is never sure how much relevance past history between the teams matters. The Colts have struggled in Foxboro, struggled against the Patriots, during Manning's career, and particularly during the Belichick/Brady era in New England. Last year, however, they blew out the Patriots on a Monday night in November at Gillette. Did that "erase all of the demons" or was it a fluke? The Patriots were without Richard Seymour and Rodney Harrison. They had Duane Starks starting at corner, Tedy Bruschi playing his second game following his stroke comeback, and Mike Vrabel playing inside because of the failure of Monty Beisel and Chad Brown to handle the Patriots defense.

    The Patriots entered that game at 4-3, having allowed 180 points in their first 7 games, an average of 25 points per game. 6 of their first 7 opponents had scored at least 20 points. They'd allowed 27 points in a game, 28 points in a game twice, and forty-one (41)! against the Chargers. At home.

    That's a far cry from this year's team - Harrison and Seymour are playing, the addition of Junior Seau moves Vrabel back to the outside, and they've allowed only 87 points, an average of 12 points per game, less than half of what they were allowing last year. In only one of their first 7 games in 2005 did they hold a team to fewer than 20 points (the Bills, in week 7, scored 16) - in 2006 none of their first 7 opponents have reached 20. Their first 3 opponents reached 17, the last 4 have scored 13, 10, 6 and 7. They're playing entirely differently, much more like the teams that gave Manning and the Colts trouble in the past than the team they drilled last year. I don't know if the past means anything, but if it does, I think that the games from 2001-2004 are far likelier indicators than the game of 2005.

  • The Colts are a better offensive team than the Patriots, having out-scored New England by 38, 205-167, through the first 7 games.

  • The Patriots are a vastly better defensive team than the Colts, having allowed 66 fewer points, 153-87, through the first 7 games.

The Colts will score. The Patriots will score more. Final score - New England by 10, 34-24, something like that...

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Justice for Saddam

There are many steps we take which lead to places we don't expect. Sometimes good events lead to bad results, sometimes bad events lead to good results. While it is certainly concievable that this could lead to more problems, it strikes me as a very good thing.
Former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has been convicted of crimes against humanity by a Baghdad court and sentenced to death by hanging.

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Saturday, November 04, 2006

Thought for the day

And one more reason that it matters who wins elections...
Too many people in Washington treat foreign policy as a game. Many Washington-types who speak about Iraq care not about the US servicemen or about the Iraqis, but rather focus on US electoral politics. I am a Republican, but whether the Republicans or Democrats are in power, Washington’s word must mean something. Leadership is about responsibility, not just politics. We cannot go around the world betraying our allies—in this case Iraqis who believed in us or allied with us—just because of short-term political expediency. This is not just about Iraq: If we abandon Iraq, we will not only prove correct all of Usama Bin Laden’s rhetoric about the US being a paper tiger, but we will also demonstrate—as James Baker and George H.W. Bush did in 1991—that listening to the White House and alliance with the United States is a fool’s decision. We can expect no allies anywhere, be they in Asia, Africa, or Latin America, if we continue to sacrifice principles to short-term realist calculations. It’s not enough to have an attention span of two years, when the rest of the world thinks in decades if not centuries.

- Michael Rubin, in The Corner

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Friday, November 03, 2006

NY Times: Iraq was working on nuclear weapons program

The New York Times, which has for 3 years now been bashing the Bush administration for going into an Iraq that was not working on WMD and post no threat, is, this morning, bashing the Bush administration for publishing, on the web, documents from that same Iraq that detail how to build a nuclear weapon. It seems unlikely, at first glance, that they realize how they've just undermined the storyline ("Bush lied, people died") that they've been working from for the last 3 years...

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Thursday, November 02, 2006

Will the perfect be the enemy of the good?

A couple of weeks ago, the Instapundit posted his pre-mortem for the GOP, which led to many others doing the same. One of the lists that spread wide was Bill Quick's list of why he wouldn't vote Republican. I disagreed with his list a couple of weeks ago, in a rather sarcastic take on how people were focused entirely on the negatives as opposed to the positives.

Today, the Baseball Crank looks at the 109th Congress and sees the successes. I recommend the whole piece, but the takeaway is this:
Not such a terrible job for two years' work, two years in which much attention was consumed by natural disasters at home and war abroad and during which the House leadership underwent a significant mid-course reshuffling. More can, and should, be demanded of future GOP majorities. But much less should be expected if those majorities don't survive November 7.

Again, the point being, if you're a conservative, and are concerned about conservative policies, it's difficult, if not impossible, to see how your concerns are addressed by a Congress led by Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi...

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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The best Kerry comment of the day

From the one-man, global content provider. Even in short snippets, Mark Steyn is brilliant.
If you talk to Democrats of the middle-class and upper-middle-class and (in John Heinz Kerry’s case) the neo-Gulf-emir-class, you’ll have heard the same thing a thousand times: these poor fellows in Iraq, they’re only there because they’re too poverty-stricken and ill-educated so they couldn’t become Senators and New York Times reporters and tenured Queer Studies professors like normal Americans do. That is, in fact, what they mean by the claim that they “support our troops”: they want to bring them home and retrain them so they’re not forced into taking jobs as Bush’s torturers and thugs. It’s part of the same condescension as describing soldiers as “our children”. If a 22-year old intern wants to drop to the Oval Office broadloom, she’s a grown woman exercising her freedom of choice. But, if a 28-year old guy wants to serve in Iraq, he’s a poor wee misguided Grade Six drop-out who doesn’t know any better. John Kerry’s soundbite is interesting not because it’s the umpteenth self-inflicted wound by Mister Nuance but because it gets right to the heart of the Democrats’ “support” for the troops.

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