Friday, June 29, 2007

Cultural amnesia

Bill Bennett has an important column up at National Review Online today, discussing the current state of American history education.
Our country’s adults are expected to instill a love of country in its children, but the greatness and purpose of that country are mocked by the chattering classes: Newspaper columns and television reports drip with a constant cynicism about America while doubts about her motives on the world stage are the coin of the realm. Too many commentators are too ready to believe the worst about our leaders and our country, and our children’s history books — and even some of the teachers — close off any remaining possibility of helping children learn about their country.

It was in 1984 that Jeanne Kirkpatrick talked about the blame-America firsters. "The San Francisco Democrats didn't blame Soviet intransigence. They blamed the United States. But then, they always blame America first." Unfortunately, those people have been running the education system in this country for the past 30 years...

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Thursday, June 28, 2007

We've done it before - will we do it again?

Glenn Reynolds quotes J.D. Johannes as asking, "is it possible to win a war on the ground, and lose it in Congress?"

Well, we've done it before.
Several years ago, Lewis Sorley provided an antidote to the conventional wisdom, a remarkable book entitled A Better War. Building on his excellent biographies of Army generals Creighton Abrams and Harold Johnson, Sorley examined the largely neglected later years of the conflict and concluded that the war in Vietnam "was being won on the ground even as it was being lost at the peace table and in the U.S. Congress."

I've been pretty contemptuous of the whole "Iraq = Vietnam" meme, but there sure are similarities...

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Shamnesty - cloture succeeds

Michelle Malkin wonders, "is your Senator a Ted Kennedy Republican?" Hell, no!

I'm in Massachusetts - I'm stuck with the real thing...

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Monday, June 25, 2007

Monday Pythagorean - 6/25

Out on the road. 4 out of 6, against two of the better NL teams, traveling long distances in between, with one of the losses coming when one of the "aces" gets shelled and has to return home for an MRI. I've said it before, I'll say it again - you keep cranking out 4-2 weeks, you finish with a great record. Any 4-2 week is a good week. Period.

  • The offense continues to be a concern. They're now on a pace to score fewer than 800 runs. Part of that is a result of spending a week in NL parks, one of which is one of the worst hitters parks in baseball. Part of that is having players that aren't hitting, and they've still got too many of those.

  • The good: Alex Cora hit .429/.545/.714 in 10 plate appearances over four games. Varitek had a good week, Manny continues to swing the bat well. Crisp had 11 hits in 26 at-bats, continuing a productive streak that has his season numbers up to "bad" from "hideous."

  • The bad: Ortiz was 3-18. 2 HR, but not much else. Lowell was 2-13, with a big hit yesterday, but nothing else. Pena got some at-bats when Drew rested a quad, and did nothing with them.

  • The ugly: Julio Lugo. 0-18. He's now hitting an almost unbelievable .193/.258/.288/.546 on the season.

  • A week and a half ago, the Yankees had gone on a winning streak that coincided with Boston's first real struggles of the season, and the lead was down to 7 1/2 games. People were suggesting that, at the current rate, NY would be in first place by the 4th of July. I mocked that. "Which rate is that? They've made up 1 game in the last 6 days. Three weeks ago this morning, they were 9 1/2 out, this morning they're 9 1/2 out. Neither of those rates is getting them to first place any time soon...that's what happens when one team has a good week while another has a bad one, which happened a week ago. It's just foolish to read too much into it. The Nationals have made up 2 1/2 games against the Mets over the last 3 weeks, and are now ... 9 1/2 games out. Anyone think that Washington's making a charge? ... I expect that the lead, when we get to July 4th (three weeks from today), will be within about 3 games of where it is now, somewhere between 6 1/2 and 12 1/2." It's now back to 11 1/2, as the Yankees have gone 1-5 on an easier road trip than the one the Red Sox are 4-2 on. And it looks like the July 4 lead is a whole heck-of-a-lot more likely to be greater than 12 1/2 than less than 6 1/2...

  • Great game yesterday, in which the Red Sox once again demonstrated the virtues of plate discipline. Jake Peavy wasn't wild, but the Red Sox were patient, fouled off a lot of pitches, and forced him out of the game after just five, having thrown 111 pitches. Beckett had a great game, just one little rough spot in 8 innings, to run his record to 11-1, as the Red Sox handed Peavy just his 2nd loss of the season.

  • It would not be at all surprising to see those two starters match up again in two weeks in San Francisco.

  • At Seattle for three, then home to an extended stretch of weak competition. Right now, they've got an 11 game lead in the East, 11 1/2 over the Yankees. Given the July schedule, I'll be surprised if they aren't still up by double-digits when August starts.

AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 6/25/2007




Los Angeles5.17(5)4.13(3)0.601(3)463049273

New York5.45(2)4.6(7)0.577(4)42313637-6








Kansas City4.33(12)5.22(12)0.415(12)32443046-2

Tampa Bay4.95(8)6.05(14)0.408(13)304333403


Top 5 projections (using current winning %)

Los Angeles10458




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

Los Angeles10161




Standings for the week






Los Angeles7(3)5(9)0.649(5)42511



Tampa Bay6.33(5)5.33(11)0.578(8)33330




New York3.17(13)4.83(7)0.316(12)2415-1

Kansas City3.83(11)6(14)0.306(13)24240


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Sunday, June 24, 2007

Thought for the day

Watching those film clips and pictures of the Taliban kidnapping Afghans who were de-mining the countryside, and Iranian thuggish police in black hoods hanging a sort of slop bucket around the necks of free-speech dissidents, and the various semi-official and popular Iranian, Pakistani, and Middle Eastern new threats to Sir Rushdie — while a silent West worries instead that the meals for Guantanamo inmates cost only 2-3 times more than the soldiers who guard them — and wondering on a Saturday morning how a post-civilized West can marshal the will to win a war of ideas against pre-civilized Islamists.
- Victor Davis Hanson

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Monday, June 18, 2007

Monday Pythagorean - 6/18

You keep cranking out 4-2 weeks, you finish with a great record...

  • So, the Red Sox had a bad spell. The Yankees went on a tear, playing a long homestand against relatively weak and/or struggling competition, and made up ground. The lead, which was 8 games just 5 1/2 weeks ago is all the way down to 8 1/2.

  • OK, that's weak. The lead did peak at 14 1/2, it is down to 8 1/2. That's life. The Red Sox had their good stretch while the Yankees played poorly. Then the Yankees had a great stretch while the Red Sox played poorly. The bottom line is that right now, on Monday, June 18, with over 40% of the schedule played, the Red Sox are 8 1/2 games up in the AL East. That's a nice place to be, and it doesn't matter which team played well first. There was all kinds of "if the Yankees keep making up ground at this pace" talk earlier in the week, but it was fairly pointless. "Let's see, if the Yankees keep winning 100% of their games while Boston wins 30% of theirs..." Let's stay at least within hailing distance of reality, shall we?

  • They went 4-2 this week while struggling offensively, and seeing Beckett and Schilling lit-up on back-to-back nights. Lugo has been dropped to the bottom of the order. That's a good thing. I think I'd rather see Youkilis 1 and Drew 5 than the other way around, but maybe they'll do that when Drew starts to wake up. Crisp has a couple of hits over the past couple of days - could he possibly become a functional Major League hitter again? They need something to happen - they've all been cold together for the past couple of weeks, which makes for some ugly outings.

  • Over the last month, from 5/18 through 6/17, the Red Sox starting pitching stats are interesting. The best ERA among the starters is Daisuke Matsuzaka's 4.19, just barely beating out the 4.20 of ... Julian Tavarez. There were many who decried the Tavarez signing last year, and have been eager to get Jon Lester up here to replace him. But since May 1st, you could make an argument that he's been the Sox best starter. He's got the best ERA of the starters over the last month and a half, 3.94 over his last 8 starts, while averaging 6 innings per.

AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 6/18/2007



Los Angeles5.01(7)4.06(3)0.596(2)422844262

New York5.66(2)4.58(6)0.595(3)40273532-5









Kansas City4.37(12)5.16(12)0.425(12)30402842-2


Tampa Bay4.82(8)6.12(14)0.393(14)264130374

Top 5 projections (using current winning %)

Los Angeles10260




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

Los Angeles9963



New York9270

Standings for the week


New York6.17(3)2.67(1)0.823(1)51510

Los Angeles5.33(6)3.5(3)0.684(2)42420

Kansas City7.83(1)5.17(8)0.682(3)42420










Tampa Bay4.33(9)7.67(14)0.26(13)24240


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"It's never wise to satirize the Episcopal church..."

Mark Steyn points out that the parody-to-reality cycle is now down to 4 years, boding ill for the Onion, Scrappleface, and anyone else in the satire business. How do you mock an institution in which this happens?
Shortly after noon on Fridays, the Rev. Ann Holmes Redding ties on a black headscarf, preparing to pray with her Muslim group on First Hill.

On Sunday mornings, Redding puts on the white collar of an Episcopal priest.

She does both, she says, because she's Christian and Muslim.

Well, no, she isn't. If she's a muslim, she doesn't believe that Jesus was the Christ, the savior, anointed of God, the lamb of God sent to bear the sins of the world. If she's a Christian, she, at least theoretically, does. (She may, I suppose, be Episcopalian and muslim, but that's not the same...) There may be common beliefs, similar ideas about certain things, but at their hearts, the two faiths are fundamentally incompatible. Minors and senior citizens pay the same discount rates at the movie theater, but they aren't the same age, no matter how "young at heart" the octogenarian, or "mature for his age" the adolescent.

And the stunning logic with which she defends her position! "I am both Muslim and Christian, just like I'm both an American of African descent and a woman. I'm 100 percent both." This woman obviously never got the concepts of set-theory and mutual exclusivity...

(And it is my goal in life to, just once, write a line as good as Steyn's - "With the benefit of hindsight, it should have been obvious that the first female imam would be an Episcopalian...")

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Monday, June 11, 2007

Monday Pythagorean - 6/11/2007

Well, it arrived, as we knew that it must. And I'm not even a little bit surprised that it was this week. The Red Sox played a week below .500, finishing 3-4. I said last week that it would be tough to avoid the first extended losing streak of the season, and it was. They played a great game on Monday, playing on adrenalin, but lost in extra innings to a tough Oakland team. At which point, they apparently sent the bats ahead to Arizona, despite having three left with the A's. Only a spectacular effort from Schilling prevented them from getting swept.

But the fact is, despite all that was against them, and how poorly the week went, they were tied in the 6th yesterday, in a game that could have given them a winning week. If this is what a bad week looks like, then this team won't finish with a good record - they'll finish with a great record.

  • It is no secret that I've been a fan of Terry Francona, and that remains the case. I think he does an excellent job handling the team, a very good job handling the pitching, and, for the most part, he "gets it" as to what's important on the field. All that said, Julio Lugo is now officially killing this team in the lead-off spot. I was all in favor of the Lugo over Gonzalez upgrade, but he's now hitting an almost unbelievably bad .214/.275/.321/.596 over 57 games. Drop him to 9th, hit Youkilis/Pedroia in front of Ortiz/Ramirez and I think that would significantly improve the offense.

  • And the offense needs to improve. They're now down to an 844 run pace. They'll win a lot of games with their pitching at that pace, but it should be better. And I'd be shocked if Mike Lowell finished the season anywhere near his current .313/.374/.550/.924, particularly now that they're talking about a bad wrist. They have to have improvement from the black holes, CF and SS, in the lineup right now.

  • So the Red Sox finally have a "bad" week, at the same time as the Yankees have a good one, and the Yankee trolls are all popping up - "hey, they lost five games on their lead in 10 days!" and nonsense of that sort. Try this instead. Three weeks ago this morning, the Yankees were 10 1/2 out. This morning, with Boston having lost 5-of-8 while the Yankees have won 8-of-9, they're 9 1/2 out. Good luck catching up at that rate.

  • But they're still a very good team, as I pointed out while the yahoos were declaring the race over three weeks ago. It wasn't over then, and it's not over now.

  • Which doesn't mean that I think the Yankees will catch the Red Sox. I don't. But there are going to be stretches like this in the course of any season, and the Yankees are still too talented to finish below .500...

AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 6/11/2007




Los Angeles4.98(6)4.11(3)0.587(3)382640242


New York5.61(2)4.77(8)0.573(5)35263031-5








Tampa Bay4.87(8)5.97(14)0.408(13)253628333

Kansas City4.05(13)5.16(12)0.391(14)25392440-1

Top 5 projections (using current winning %)

Los Angeles10161




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

Los Angeles9864




Standings for the week



New York7.57(3)3.71(4)0.786(2)61610


Los Angeles8.5(1)5(8)0.725(4)42420

Tampa Bay7.14(4)5.57(12)0.612(5)43521


Kansas City4.86(8)4.14(5)0.572(7)4334-1








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Monday, June 04, 2007

Monday Pythagorean - 6/4/2007

For just the second time this year, the Red Sox have put together a .500 week, going 3-3. They also went 3-3 in week one, and have won more than they lost in every week in between. They also, after starting the season 28-0, have lost two games out of the last 3 in which they scored 5+ runs.

  • Sometimes you know what's going to happen. Sometimes you know it and it's wrong. And sometime you know it and it's right. When the Yankees took a 4-0 lead last night, I knew it was one of those nights, and that Boston wasn't going to score 4. I was wrong. When Pettitte came out after 4 1/3, I knew Boston would win going away. I was wrong again. When Alex Rodriguez faced Jon Papelbon in the 9th, I knew he was going to hit one out. I actually changed the channel, because I didn't want to see it. When I flipped back to ESPN, it was to see the back of Wily Mo Pena, and the ball bouncing in the bullpen. I wish that I'd been wrong again.

  • Fox ran a graphic on Saturday afternoon about game length. Over the last four years, Red Sox-Yankee games have run something like 3:22, while the average of all other games is 2:34 or something. I'm glad someone did the research, but I'd have guessed that the average Red Sox-Yankee game was actually longer. They are all grinders. It really is amazing to watch - the level of baseball that these two teams play is just qualitatively different, the quality of at-bats is different, the intensity of the game is different, than any other games during the season. It is very close to play-off baseball every time that they're on the same field.

  • All Boston had to do this weekend was win one, but this morning would be a lot brighter if they'd held on to that game last night. When Boston took the lead in the 5th, I was dying to hear Mike Francesa on the FAN this afternoon, but now it's going to be significantly less entertaining than it would have been. How close was Lugo to scoring in the 6th? How close was Ortiz to hitting it out against Rivera in the 9th? How close was Pedroia's ball to a 2-run double in the 8th? Very frustrating. And they could really have put the Yankees away, or close to it, with a win last night. Yes, there's not much difference between 14 1/2 and 12 1/2. Yes, Boston's the better team. But they've let the Yankees take 4-of-6 over the last two weeks and that reeks of wasted opportunity.

  • I wonder if the Sox have reached their hotel in Oakland yet. They haven't had a three-game losing streak yet this year, but they're sure set up for one now. Cold, wet, late last night, they fly out to the west coast to face the best pitcher in the AL so far this year tonight with their number 5 starter. And tomorrow's the day that the jet lag really kicks in. This could be unpleasant for the next couple of days.

AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 6/4/2007






Los Angeles4.62(8)4.02(2)0.564(5)332536223

New York5.35(4)4.91(8)0.54(6)29252430-5







Tampa Bay4.57(9)6.02(14)0.377(13)203423313

Kansas City3.95(14)5.28(12)0.37(14)213621360

Top 5 projections (using current winning %)

Los Angeles10161




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

Los Angeles9567




Standings for the week









New York5.83(4)6(10)0.487(8)33330

Los Angeles4.71(7)4.86(6)0.486(9)34522



Tampa Bay3.83(11)6(10)0.306(12)24331

Kansas City2.83(14)4.67(5)0.286(13)24240


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