Friday, September 28, 2007

And then there were none...

Congratulations to the 2007 Boston Red Sox on winning the team's first AL East title in 12 years. Boston's 5-2 victory over the Twins dropped the Magic Number to 1. Baltimore scored 3 runs against Mariano Rivera in the bottom of the 9th to force extra innings, kept the Yankees off the board following a lead-off double in the top of the 10th, and scored the winning run with 2 outs in the bottom of the 10th, dropping the Magic Number to 0.

With a three game lead and two games to play, the Boston Red Sox have clinched the AL East.


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Thursday, September 27, 2007

NFL picks, week 4

Baltimore at Cleveland (+4.5) - In week 2, Cleveland put up 51 points against Cincinnati. I don't expect that there will be a bigger single game fluke occurrence in an NFL game this season. And to the extent that any part of it wasn't fluke, it was the performance of Cincinnati's defense, not Cleveland's offense. I am not at all convinced that Baltimore's defense is the fearsome entity that it used to be, and I don't think much of their offense at all. In Cleveland, this probably ends up being a fairly close game. I started writing this thinking that I was picking Baltimore. I've changed my mind. Cleveland not only covers, they win.

Chicago at Detroit (+2.5) - After I started writing, I changed my mind on this one, too. I've still got last year's Bears and last year's Lions in my head. Right now, Detroit, notwithstanding last week's embarrassment in Philadelphia, is a better team than Chicago. Griese will make fewer mistakes than Grossman, but he won't make them a good offensive team, and they don't have the same defense they had a year ago. Detroit wins this one at home.

Green Bay (-3.5) at Minnesota - Is there any commentary really warranted? Minnesota couldn't beat Kansas City last week, while Green Bay beat San Diego. That tells me everything that I need to know. Packers, comfortably.

Houston (-2.5) at Atlanta - This is something that I'm sure Texan fans have been waiting for since they first entered the league. "Hey, Houston is just a much better team." Texans win. Texans cover.

N.Y. Jets (-3) at Buffalo - It didn't look like a great season in Buffalo before the season stared. But Dick Jauron's got to be wondering where he went wrong in his life. They've lost 1/3 of their starters already. And if the team looked weak with the starters, what does it look like with the backups? Frankly, this line looks like a mistake. The only victory for the Bills this week will be a Gaussian one. If they choose to claim it. On the field, the Jets win easily.

Oakland at Miami (-4) - The Dolphins have got about four winnable games on their schedule. This is one of them. They take advantage of it, giving the AFC East its first non-Patriots out-of-division win.

St. Louis at Dallas (-12) - Based on what we "knew" three weeks ago, this is a shootout. But you can't have much of an offensive shootout when one of the parties is unarmed. I love the Ted Baxter theory of football forecasting (how much difference can there be between two groups of professionals?), but I don't see how St. Louis scores enough not to lose by two touchdowns.

Seattle (-2) at San Francisco - It should be clear, by now, that I don't think much of the Seahawks. But they're still the best team in that decision. Plus, I'm rooting for the 49ers to lose every week, to improve the remaining first round draft pick for the Patriots.

Tampa Bay at Carolina (-3.5) - How on earth do you pick this game? I don't trust either one of these teams. Apparently Delhomme isn't going to play, and I don't even know how to factor that in. He's a "hit-or-miss" guy, whereas David Carr is more a "miss" guy, but that just means that Carolina plays differently, and, while Carr's less likely to win the game for them, he's probably also less likely to lose the game for them. In the end, I flip a coin. Then, not liking the outcome, I flip it again. And again. And again. After 10 minutes of the opening scene of "Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead," the Panthers get the nod.

Denver at Indianapolis (-10) - Indianapolis followed up a convincing thrashing of New Orleans with road wins against Tennessee and Houston. Denver's got wins over awful Buffalo and dreadful Oakland, both of which were determined by last second field goals, and a loss, at home, to Jacksonville. There's one game's difference between them in the standings - there's a world of difference in performance thus far. Until further notice, Indianapolis is favored against everyone except New England. And they not only win this, they cover. With room to spare.

Kansas City at San Diego (-14) - San Diego's not as good as people think they are. But Kansas City is as bad as people think they are. The Chargers are bullies, and they'll beat up on an inferior team this week.

Pittsburgh (-6) at Arizona - Whether you think that this is competitive or not depends on your perceptions of the Seahawks, and the Baltimore Ravens defense. I don't think much of either, so I think that Arizona, while inevitably bound to win a big game against a good team some day, isn't ready to deal with a good team right now. Steelers win by more than a touchdown.

Philadelphia at N.Y. Giants (+2.5) - I make the picks, and then, over the course of a couple of days, I write the text. Sometimes, I get to a game and wonder what the hell I was thinking. So let me see. Well, I don't care for the Eagles. I think that last week was a fluke. And I think that the Giant defense showed signs of coming to life last week, albeit against a less-than-stellar offense. (Idle tangent - I cannot believe that a Joe Gibbs team butchered its last possession as badly as the Redskins butchered their last drive last week. You cannot be spiking the ball to stop the clock when there is more than enough time to run all of the plays that you'll have the opportunity to run, and you need the chances more than the seconds.) Anyway, I think that line may be an overreaction to last week's Eagle romp, which reinforced perceptions (that may or may not have been justified) before the season that Philly was strong. I'm going to go with the home underdog Giants here. (And, to any arguments that this is just a strong anti-Eagle bias shining through, well, my anti-Giant bias is just as strong.)

New England (-7) at Cincinnati - The Bengals have allowed an average of nearly 32 points per game. The Patriots have scored 38 points in each of their three games. (Anyone want to calculate the average score? Anyone? Bueller? Anyone?) The Patriots played at Cincinnati during week 4 last year and beat them 38-13. One struggles in vain to come up with a reason to think that they won't score at least 38 again this week. I can't come up with one. The only way Cincinnati keeps this competitive is if they score 35 or more. I don't see that happening. The Patriots roll continues...

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First to call it...

August 6th
"I do think that Boston and New York are both playing October baseball again this year..."

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"the cheap-shot tendencies of a hopelessly partisan press"

Fantastic point from Glenn Reynolds on the David Shuster ambush story.
it's a trap that, in its nature, underscores how historically low casualties are in this war. You wouldn't have heard that question in World War II, not only because the press would have been ashamed to ask it, but because casualties then were such that nobody could possibly keep track. That it can be asked in this war demonstrates not only the cheap-shot tendencies of a hopelessly partisan press, but also the small scale of the actual warfare.

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Odds and ends...

A couple of thoughts as the regular season winds down...

  • Yankee newsgroup trolls have mocked the Red Sox every time they've celebrated reaching the post-season via Wild Card. I expect to hear less of that, given the champagne celebration the Yankees had last night on clinching the play-offs.

  • The first round is almost certain to be Anaheim at Boston and New York at Cleveland. The Red Sox and Indians are 3 games ahead of the Yankees and Angels. If the season were to end this way, Boston would be the 1st seed because of head-to-head record vs. Cleveland, but the Red Sox and Yankees cannot, by rule, meet in the first round.

  • I actually feel sorry (well, more sorry than usual) for Tampa Bay fans this morning (if there are any.) This is their 10th Major League season, and they've yet to win more than 70 games in any of them. They're in the most disheartening division in baseball, because they've got two of the uber-teams, teams that have both tremendous baseball acumen and massive financial resources blocking their path to the play-offs. Both of those teams play in front of essentially home crowds in the Rays' own ballpark. And now, in the span of five days, they've had to watch both of them clinch and celebrate on their own field.

    That stinks (more than usual) for the Devil Rays fans (if there are any.)

  • There is a perception in certain quarters that the Red Sox were great early, but have struggled since. Ask anyone who has played better since the All Star break, and they'll probably list all of the other AL play-off teams, and maybe someone else.

    It is true that New York and Cleveland have better records since the All Star break than Boston. But they're the only AL teams for whom that's true. And if you look at run differential and pythagorean records, something interesting pops out.

    The Red Sox were not only the best team in the AL before the All Star break, they've been the best team in the AL since the All Star break. They've just underperformed (or, to coin a phrase, "Gagned") their projection by 5+ games while the Yankees and Indians have exceeded theirs by 3 each. From a run differential point of view, only the Yankees, who have outscored their opposition by 100 runs, have come close to the Red Sox 110 run margin. LAA's 55 is third, Cleveland's 42 is tied for fourth. Bob Ryan of the Boston Globe wrote a piece last week about the Red Sox being the fourth best of the AL play-off contenders. That's just silly.

  • Anyone who believes he knows what is going to happen in the play-offs is lying to himself. Anyone who tells you that he knows what's going to happen is lying to you. These teams will have won within 3-5 of the same number of games over a 162 games schedule. The idea that anyone knows what's going to happen in a 5-game series based on that is just silly. That's the way baseball works. There is too much luck involved in any given game for a short series to mean anything. Come Sunday evening, there will be 8 teams left. The best one, Boston, has essentially the same 12.5% chance of winning the World Series as the worst one, whoever that is (Cubs? Brewers? Padres? Rockies? I don't know.) No one should be shocked or even surprised to see any given team win or lose any given series.

    And don't listen to anyone who later tells you, "I knew that was going to happen."
    One of the most systematic errors in human perception is what psychologists call hindsight bias -- the feeling, after an event happens, that we knew all along it was going to happen. Across a wide spectrum of issues, from politics to the vagaries of the stock market, experiments show that once people know something, they readily believe they knew it all along.

    Shankar Vedantam's article is about Iraq war opposition, but the hindsight bias comment is obviously relevant to baseball play-offs...

    So, you want my prediction for who will win the World Series? OK, here it is. The World Series winner will of the eight teams that make the playoffs.

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Red Sox Magic Number - 9/27

New York's win in Tampa Bay clinches the Wild Card for the Yankees.
Boston's win at home over Oakland drops the magic number for winning the AL East to two (2). The lead is 3 games with four to play.

If Boston goes 2-2 (.500), they win the East
If Boston goes 1-3 (.250), Yankees need to go 4-0 (1.000) to win.
If Boston goes 0-4 (.000), Yankees need to go 3-1 (.750) to win.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Quote of the day

Interesting note over in The Corner about a famous quote that appears not to be a quote.
Erudite Corner reader Terry Pell, head of the Center for Individual Rights, writes in to inform me, and hopefully others, that the attribution of the all but ubiquitous saying, "all it takes for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing" to Edmund Burke is incorrect.

"It reminded me that last summer I had to try to find a source for this quote and learned that Edmund Burke never said it. No one said it. It is made up.

I have just one thing to say.

All it takes for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.
Lyford Beverage, 9/26/2007

There. Now it's been said.

I expect my name to be attached from this point forward. Burke apparently didn't say it, but I did.

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J.D. Drew - overpaid, yes. Disaster? Well...

J.D. Drew has been a disappointment for Boston this year. There has been some pretty severe vitriol aimed at him by the fan base, though some people are noticing that he's been a little better the past couple of weeks.

Well, it's been more than the past couple of weeks.

April-July: .248/.354/.375/.729
Since August 1st: .303/.401/.483/.884

For at least the last two months, he's been an asset. Whether he's adjusted, or whether the health concerns for his infant son have lessened the personal stress, whatever the cause, he's been, if less than they wanted, still a good and valuable player.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Red Sox Magic Number - September 26

Boston beat Oakland, 7-3.
New York lost in Tampa, 7-6 in 10 innings.

The Magic Number for the Red Sox to clinch their first AL East title in 12 years is THREE (3).

If Boston goes 3-2 (.600), they win the East
If Boston goes 2-3 (.400), Yankees need to go 5-0 (1.000) to win.
If Boston goes 1-4 (.200), Yankees need to go 4-1 (.800) to win.
If Boston goes 0-5 (.000), Yankees need to go 3-2 (.600) to win.

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Manny back in the lineup

Manny Ramirez is batting 2nd and playing left field tonight. He ended missing exactly the same number of days with his oblique strain as noted tough guy, dirt dog, gamer Trot Nixon did with his oblique strain two years ago.

Tonight's lineup:

2B - Pedroia
LF - Ramirez
DH - Ortiz
3B - Lowell
RF - Drew
C - Varitek
CF - Crisp
1B - Hinske
SS - Lugo

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NFL Week 3 wrapup

  • Teams that we were I was wrong about, apparently, upside version:

    1. Green Bay - I thought that Green Bay was a complete fraud team, and that Bret Favre was done - really done. That appears not to be the case through Green Bay's 3-0 start.

    2. Tampa Bay - Another Bay, another woeful team that may be much better than I anticipated.

    3. Tie - Tennessee, Jacksonville - I had no expectations for either of these teams. That they are both 2-1 right now surprises me.

  • Teams that we were I was wrong about, apparently, downside version:

    1. San Diego - This is kind of a bummer, actually. That New England win that looked so impressive after week 2 looks...less impressive now. Is the coaching change that significant? Or were the Chargers NOT, as was constantly bandied about, the most talented team in the NFL last year? Either way, they have given no indication, so far, that they're a threat.

    2. New Orleans - The Saints now look as if they rode an early hot streak to the play-offs, and then got lucky to face a weak, tired Eagles team in a home play-off game. In other words, the 2006 Saints status as one of the best teams in the NFL was a mirage.

    3. St. Louis - Rather than winning the NFC West, they're bringing up the rear, and offering no evidence to suspect that won't continue...

  • The Baltimore defense continues to offer evidence that they're no longer the fearsome unit the people still think them to be. Allowing 27 against Cincinnati on the road is one thing - allowing 23 against Arizona at home is another. And in between, they allowed 20 to the Jets. (Yes, yes, the Jets only scored 13, but the Ravens allowed 20 - Justin McCareins just refused to take the last 7.)

  • My Best commentary of the week:
    Buffalo at New England - "frankly, the only thing that would be surprising about a 3rd 38-14 score for NE would be the Bills getting into the endzone twice."

  • My worst analysis of the week (again, there's an embarassment of riches here):
    San Diego at Green Bay - "Talent mismatch. The Chargers are overrated, but not even the Norv Turner factor keeps them from going into Lambeau and winning by a touchdown or more."

  • For the week:
    Winners: 11-5
    ATS: 8-5-3

  • For the Season:
    Winners: 30-18
    ATS: 25-19-4

  • Past performance is no guarantee of future results. If I were to finish the season above .500 in either category, I think it would be the first time. File under "Acorn, found - blind squirrel..."

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Dubya to the UN?

KLo thinks it would be a great idea - Dubya for secretary general!

At the very least, that would stop the appeals to the authority of the UN from the American left!

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Another in-kind contribution?

Just over a year ago, we were treated to the spectacle of elected officials threatening a broadcast network because they didn't like some of the reported political content of a made-for-TV mini-series. ABC stood up to them, somewhat, after cutting the "questionable" material, and The Path to 9/11 aired. I watched it, and while it's probably not accurate to say that I "enjoyed" it, I thought it was very well done, and I was glad that they had done it. As I said at the time,
Bottom line? The villains in this piece are not the Clinton administration officials who didn't capture Bin Laden. They are not the Bush administration officials who did not stop the attacks. They aren't the FBI agents who under-reacted to Zacharias Moussaoui's flight training or the judges that didn't let the FBI examine his laptop. No, the villains are, as is rightly the case, the terrorists themselves. Ramzi Yousef. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Ayman Al-Zawahiri. Osama Bin Laden. In hindsight, there were "dots" that could have been connected. There were missed opportunities, there were turf battles, there was red tape, there was bureaucratic infighting. But the villains are the ones the planned and executed the attack, not the ones who failed to prevent it. And that is clearly what the movie shows. All things considered, it's an impressive accomplishment.

I recorded it, and I've got it burned to DVD, though I've not watched it again. But if I hadn't burned it to DVD, I wouldn't have a DVD of it. And anyone who didn't do it then, hasn't got it. ABC has not re-broadcast it. Even more surprising, in an entertainment industry where virtually all movies go to DVD in 4-6 months, is that The Path to 9/11 is still not available. The NBC series Heroes, which debuted a short time later and ran its last episode during the May sweeps period, was released on a DVD set in August. For example.

They had a DVD release scheduled for January. January came and went.
They had a DVD release scheduled for June. June came and went.
They don't have a DVD release scheduled anymore.

Are they still protecting the Clintons, still invested in the storyline that Bill Clinton and his administration were "focused like a laser beam" on terrorism?

Anna Nimouse*, writing at National Review Online, has an interesting take, an angle that I'd not considered.
...where is the fiscal responsibility of Disney/ABC to their stockholders? With 28 million viewers one might reasonably expect sales of a third of that, or roughly $200 million in proceeds. That’s money that would eventually make its way into dividends in some retirement accounts. I smell a class action lawsuit brewing. By not releasing a highly successful film on DVD, when even Poseidon (an incredible $160 million flop), was released on DVD not even four months after its theatrical release, the Walt Disney Company seems to be purposefully not trying to make money, and that’s a breach of fiduciary responsibility.

And that's got me thinking. Could that $200 million that Disney is forgoing by leaving The Path to 9/11 in the vault be considered an in-kind contribution to Hillary Clinton campaign?

* - Yes, that is clearly an anonymous nom de plume. It's interesting that the atmosphere in Hollywood is such that the people who love to make movies praising the blacklisted writers of the McCarthy era can't be trusted not to blacklist actresses expressing Anna's sentiments...

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Monday, September 24, 2007

Red Sox Magic Number - 9/24

New York loses to Toronto, 4-1, this afternoon in the Bronx. With 6 games remaining for each team, Boston holds a two game lead. New York wins the east if they finish tied.

The Magic Number is now 5.

If Boston goes 5-1 (.833), they win the East
If Boston goes 4-2 (.667), Yankees need to go 6-0 (1.000) to win.
If Boston goes 3-3 (.500), Yankees need to go 5-1 (.833) to win.
If Boston goes 2-4 (.333), Yankees need to go 4-2 (.667) to win.
If Boston goes 1-5 (.167), Yankees need to go 3-3 (.500) to win.
If Boston goes 0-6 (.000), Yankees need to go 2-4 (.333) to win.

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"this was an act of barbarism and war"

Kathryn Jean Lopez just noted that:
Ahmadineijad just called what happened on September 11 "a tragedy." Sorry, it was a helluva lot more that that.

Gosh, he sounds like our Governor...

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Does the data really support the story?

Betsy Newmark links to a Washington Post story this morning about the potential drag on Congressional Candidates from either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. And the takeaway seems to be that maybe Hillary is going to hurt Democratic congressional candidates. As Betsy says,
Of course a poll a year out from the election without the name of their Republican challengers is very iffy. But the trend invites that sort of campaigning. The Democrats will probably respond with ads tying the Republican to George W. Bush. But Bush isn't on the ticket.

On the last part of that, hey, no question. The Democrats are clearly going to campaign against Bush. And he's clearly not running. (As I noted two years ago ["certainly sounds disturbing, or at least it would if he were running for anything again"], and which El Rushbo actually read on the air.)

And I agree that the Republicans will run against Hillary all the way up and down the ticket. Frankly, they would be foolish not to. And I have never been of the opinion that the Republicans are actually big underdogs in the presidential race. They aren't going to nominate anyone who is a part of this currently unpopular administration, I expect that Iraq will not be a big drag next year, and they aren't going to nominate anyone whose negatives are as high as Hillary's. She's won in New York, she's winning among Democratic partisans - I remain convinced that she is NOT a great candidate for a general election, and that the more people see of her, the more likely they are to decide that they don't want her on their television sets and radios every day for the next four years.

All that said, the fact is that what the Post did is essentially a push-poll. It's one thing to say "Some people say [your Democratic incumbent] is a strong supporter of Hillary Clinton," and something completely different to say, as the Post's poll said, "some people say [your Democratic incumbent] is a strong supporter of Hillary Clinton and will support her liberal agenda of big government and higher taxes if she becomes president." Not that the Republicans won't do just that, but the story is focused on the name dragging down the results. The point is "Clinton and Obama ...even potentially serving as a drag." Given the additional pejorative language that the question is loaded with, it's not clear at all that the data actually supports that. People could easily be responding to the "higher taxes" as opposed to the "Hillary..." And the fact is, Republicans are going to talk about "big government and higher taxes" no matter who the Democratic candidate is, as they've done in every single national election since at least 1980...

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Patriots 38, Bills 7

Odds and ends...

  • I did not like the hit by Wilfork that knocked Losman out of the game. While he wasn't balanced, and was falling, it certainly looked to me as if he threw his elbow out at Losman's knee. I expect that there will be a fine assessed to Vince, and I found that a lot more distasteful than the alleged "cheating" with the video camera.

  • In Tom Brady's fourth NFL start, 10/21/2001, the underdog Patriots went into Indianapolis and beat the heavily favored Colts 38-17. David Patten ran, threw, and caught a touchdown. Brady was 16 of 20 for 202 yards, 3 touchdowns and no interceptions, for a passer rating of 148.33. That was the highest single-game passer rating for him for his career. Until yesterday. His 23-29 for 311, 4TD 0INT game against Buffalo rated at 150.93, his new career high.

  • Through 3 games, his rating is 141.8.

  • His prior best 3-game stretch was 110.6, from December 14-December 27 of 2003.

  • His best 3 game start to a season before this was 107.79 at the beginning of the 2002 season.

  • His 141.8 rating leads the NFL, by 20 points over the second highest, Chad Pennington's 121.4.

  • The Patriots have looked like monsters thus far. And they are expecting Rodney Harrison back in two weeks, and Richard Seymour two weeks after that.

  • On the other hand, the competition that they've beaten looks somewhat less than imposing. The win against San Diego that looked so impressive a week ago looks significantly less than that following the Charger's poor showing in Green Bay in falling to 1-2.

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Monday Pythagorean - 9/24

One more week of the regular season, and all that remains is setting rotations, resting players, re-integrating returning players. Oh, and deciding the play-off seeding.

  • With 6 games remaining for Boston and 7 for New York, the Red Sox have a 1 game lead in the loss column. The Yankees win the East if they tie. So basically, the situation is this. If the Red Sox lose more games than the Yankees this week, the Yankees win the east. Otherwise, the Red Sox do.

  • Boston, New York, Anaheim and Cleveland will be the four AL playoff teams. Boston cannot play New York in the first round, but everything else is up for grabs. Each one of those teams has 63-65 losses. Any of the four could finish with the best record in baseball, any could finish with the 4th best record in the AL.

  • It is clear that the four best records in the AL are going to be playing post-season ball. It is also very likely that absent the Wild Card, one of the two best teams would be sitting home.

  • I had some things to say about last week's action, but I've pretty much already said them...

AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 9/24/2007



New York5.91(1)4.75(7)0.598(2)93629065-3

Los Angeles5.16(4)4.48(5)0.564(3)886892644








Kansas City4.43(13)4.81(8)0.462(11)72836788-5


Tampa Bay4.84(8)5.82(14)0.416(13)65916492-1


Top 5 projections (using current winning %)

Los Angeles9666


New York9468


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


Los Angeles9567

New York9468


Standings for the week


New York7.5(1)4.5(6)0.718(1)42511





Los Angeles4.57(6)3.86(3)0.577(6)43521







Tampa Bay3.5(13)5.67(12)0.293(13)2415-1

Kansas City3.14(14)5.14(11)0.289(14)25341

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Sunday, September 23, 2007

The continued relevance of Lord Acton's dictum

LargeBill pontificates:"I maintain we could pick representatives and senators at random and do as well as we are currently."

My initial reaction is, "I couldn't agree more." But, on second thought, I do have a slight disagreement. I think that we could do significantly better...

(This is not, of course, original, being just an echo of William F Buckley, who famously wrote that "he would rather be governed by the first 2,000 names in the Boston telephone directory than by the 2,000 members of the Harvard faculty...")

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Two interesting takes...

In an amusing take (think Diane Chambers picking based on cities with foreign-born orchestra conductors), Chris is looking at football picks with the Ronald Reagan and Ted Baxter methods.

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Today's Global Warming story

Have climate scientists been worried about global warming even longer than we realize? Check out this article* from the Washington Post, July 9, 1971:
"If his calculation prove correct, Rasool said, it may be simply necessary for men to stop most fossil fuel-burning - use of coal, oil, natural gas and automobile gasoline...Pollution controls alone, he said, cannot do the job. "I think you have to stop the source." Global Warming would flood the world's coastal cities...

Well, actually, I'm lying to you. That last sentence, instead of starting with "Global Warming," actually starts "A new ice age..."

That's right. 36 years before NASA scientists warned us that we had to stop burning fossil fuels because the incipient global warming would flood coastal cities, NASA scientists were warning us that we had to stop burning fossil fuels because the incipient global cooling would flood coastal cities.

This is my primary problem with the global warming hysteria. I'm perfectly willing to grant that there are some well-intentioned, well-meaning scientists who really, truly believe that we're destroying the earth. But there is a critical mass of global warming hypesters whose solutions to global warming are the same solutions they propose for every social and scientific ill. When leftists who have been telling me my entire life that Americans need to stop burning fossil fuels because America is using an "unfair" amount of the world's resources, or because exhaust fumes cause birth defects or sterility, or because it causes acid rain, or it's going to cause global cooling, decide that we need to stop burning fossil fuels because it's causing global warming, it's not easy to fight the suspicion that what they are really concerned with isn't global warming - it's Americans burning fossil fuels.

Investor's Business Daily looked at that article on Friday, focusing on James Hansen's role in the current climate concern, as well as the earlier one. It's worth a read...

* - Title of the article on page A4 of the 7/9/71 Post - U.S. Scientist Sees New Ice Age Coming

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Kevin Everett will walk again because of Marc Buoniconti

In October of 1985, Marc Buoniconti, playing linebacker for Citadel, made a tackle and fell to the ground, and hasn't walked since because of signficant spinal cord injury. In September of 2007, Buffalo Bills Tight End Kevin Everett made a tackle and fell to the ground with a similar injury. He's expected to walk out of the hospital within the next few months.

In a fantastic piece in this morning's Boston Globe by Stan Grossfeld, we learn that those two events are connected. When Marc Buoniconti was hurt, his father, former NFL lineback Nick Buoniconti, dedicated his life to helping Marc walk again, and founded the Miami project for Spinal Cord Injuries. Over the years, they have raised over $200 million dollars, and, because of the work they've done, Kevin Everett is going to walk again.

It is a great story, it is a great piece. Read the whole thing...

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Red Sox Magic Number - September 23 - Play-off berth clinched

The Red Sox victory over Tampa Bay on Saturday night, combined with the Tigers' loss to Kansas City, means that Boston becomes the the first team to clinch a play-off berth in 2007. (The Angels are guaranteed at least a tie for the AL West and/or the Wild Card and the Indians are guaranteed at least a tie for the AL Central, but Boston has actually clinched one of the four play-off spots.)

The magic number for the Red Sox to win the AL East is 6, with seven games remaining.

If Boston goes 6-1 (.857), they win the East
If Boston goes 5-2 (.714), Yankees need to go 7-1 (.875) to win.
If Boston goes 4-3 (.571), Yankees need to go 6-2 (.750) to win.
If Boston goes 3-4 (.429), Yankees need to go 5-3 (.625) to win.
If Boston goes 2-5 (.286), Yankees need to go 4-4 (.500) to win.
If Boston goes 1-6 (.143), Yankees need to go 3-5 (.375) to win.
If Boston goes 0-7 (.000), Yankees need to go 2-6 (.250) to win.

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Saturday, September 22, 2007

Red Sox Magic Number - September 22

Finally, after nearly a week, the magic number to win the east drops again.

To win the AL East:

To clinch a play-off spot:

For the east,
If Boston goes 7-1 (.875), they win the East
If Boston goes 6-2 (.750), Yankees need to go 8-1 (.889) to win.
If Boston goes 5-3 (.625), Yankees need to go 7-2 (.778) to win.
If Boston goes 4-4 (.500), Yankees need to go 6-3 (.667) to win.
If Boston goes 3-5 (.375), Yankees need to go 5-4 (.556) to win.
If Boston goes 2-6 (.250), Yankees need to go 4-5 (.444) to win.
If Boston goes 1-7 (.125), Yankees need to go 3-6 (.333) to win.
If Boston goes 0-8 (.000), Yankees need to go 2-7 (.222) to win.

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Friday, September 21, 2007

Power outage

The Baseball Crank has been looking at the power decline in the Major Leagues this year, and has some interesting stuff...

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Momentum in baseball. Utterly, totally, absolutely irrelevant.

Repeating myself, but the argument needs to be made. There is, once again, massive debate over the importance of MOMENTUM, over whether the Red Sox are doomed to lose quickly in the play-offs if they don't win the division. People keep calling WEEI, and posting on message boards, about how the Red Sox run in 2004, starting with game 4 of the ALCS, demonstrates the importance of having MOMENTUM in the post-season.

This requireth a rant.

How on God's earth can people keep suggesting that 2004 demonstrates the importance of MOMENTUM? What team EVER had more momentum than the 2004 Yankees after taking the first two games of the ALCS and then blowing out the Red Sox in game 3 in Fenway?

How'd that MOMENTUM work out for you?

And who's got the MOMENTUM when the Yankees take a 1 run lead into the 9th of game 4 with a 3-0 series lead and Rivera on the mound?

How'd that MOMENTUM work out for you?

And who's got the momentum when Jeter doubles off of Pedro to take a 4-2 lead in the 6th of game 5 when they're already up 3 games to 1?

How'd that MOMENTUM work out for you?

The Tigers stumbled into the play-offs last year, losing the division on the last day after having had a bigger lead in August than the Red Sox did this year, and went on to the World Series. The Minnesota Twins, who stormed back from a big deficit to take that division, lost in the first round.

How'd that MOMENTUM work out for you?

MOMENTUM means NOTHING in baseball. Zip, zero, nada.

Never has.

Never will.

Thus endeth the rant...

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Rathergate redux

Jonah Goldberg's assessment of Gunga Dan's Rathergate lawsuit - "ours is a just and decent God..."

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A rich source of awful logic

One of the places that tends to be rich in logical fallacies is the sports world. I don't know if anyone at WEEI knows what post hoc ergo propter hoc means, but that's what they're spending their time doing the past couple of days. The entire focus is how the play-offs will determine the rightness or wrongness of the September approach.

I've got news for you, guys. They may play badly leading into the play-offs and get swept out. That will prove nothing about whether resting players was the right approach. There's just far too much timing and luck involved in baseball for 3-10 games to mean anything. The fact that Boston just lost three in a row to Toronto does not mean that Toronto's a better team than Boston. If Boston coasts into the play-offs as the Wild Card, and loses in the first round, that doesn't mean that coasting in was a mistake. If they play the next week as if they were play-off games and hold off the Yankees to win the division, and then lose in the first round, that doesn't mean that playing all out was a mistake. They'll win in the playoffs, or they'll lose, and their record in September will have NOTHING to do with it.

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Week 3 NFL Picks

Arizona (-8) at Baltimore - Let's start right out with the facts - I don't know what I'm doing. I don't have any idea how to rate these two teams. What is the Baltimore offense, really? What is the Baltimore defense, really? What are the Cardinals, with a loss at San Francisco and a win at home against Seattle? I see the Ravens as the better team. But I don't trust their offense. At all. And, based on the fourth quarter against the Jets, the defense isn't what people thought it is, either. I can't see Arizona going in and winning, and I can see them getting blown out, if the Baltimore defense scores a couple of times. I'm thinking that doesn't happen, and that Baltimore wins, but Arizona loses close.

Buffalo at New England (+15) - 15 points? In an NFL game? Between division rivals? I pick the Patriots, because I always pick the Patriots. You can't bet an NFL team to win by more than two touchdowns, but I'm doing it anyway. And, frankly, the only thing that would be surprising about a 3rd 38-14 score for NE would be the Bills getting into the endzone twice.

Detroit (-6.5) at Philadelphia - There must be a way to mock Donovan McNabb this week, but whenever I try to start, I just end up saddened. This is the legacy of Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and the race hustlers in this country. Donovan McNabb has been one of the most overrated players in the NFL since he entered it, and he's got the gall to claim that he takes more criticism than white quarterbacks because of his skin color? Revolting. I am now, officially, going against Philadelphia every week, and not solely because they can't score.

Indianapolis (+5) at Houston - Houston's off to a great 2-0 start, and could take sole possession of first place in the AFC South with a win over the Colts this Sunday, in Houston, where they beat the Colts the last time they played. Interesting matchup - Mario Williams vs. Tony Ugoh. Can the Colts keep Manning upright? I'd love to see the Texans win this. Ain't gonna happen.

Miami at N.Y. Jets (+3) - Which of these 0-2 division rivals is worse? The Dolphins are a better defensive team, the Jets are a better offensive team. I'm guessing that the home team Jets give the AFC East its first win by a team other than the Patriots.

Minnesota (-2.5) at Kansas City - I don't think much of the Vikings. The fact that I'm picking them to go into Kansas City and win should tell you what I think of the Chiefs.

San Diego (+3.5) at Green Bay - Talent mismatch. The Chargers are overrated, but not even the Norv Turner factor keeps them from going into Lambeau and winning by a touchdown or more.

San Francisco at Pittsburgh (+9) - San Francisco was a chic picks in many places to be a big improver this year. They're 2-0, including a win at division rival St. Louis last week. Whatever. I'm still not buying. Steelers win, and cover.

St. Louis at Tampa Bay (+4) - Not picking the Buccaneers. Nope. Don't believe in them, don't trust them, wouldn't pick them. I'm picking against the Rams instead. If they can't win on their own turf against San Francisco and Carolina, how are they going to win on grass?

Cincinnati at Seattle (+3) - Bengals meeting to review the film of the Browns game in flu-like symptoms for most of the defensive players. When Sunday arrives, half the team is still too sick to take the field. Replaced by a combination of backups, practice squad players, ball boys and cheerleaders, they manage to hold the Seattle offense to 24, fewer than half of what they gave up Cleveland. But Ocho Cinco's new touchdown celebration starts five yards before he gets to the end-zone, and he forgets to actually carry the ball across the line. Seattle's defensive touchdown results in a 28-24 Seahawks win.

Cleveland at Oakland (+3) - I'm thinking of the movie "Oh, God," when George Burns told John Denver that his last miracle was the 1969 Mets. That's been superseded. I won't pick Oakland many times this year, but Cleveland won't score 51 in their next 3. Raiders win and cover.

Jacksonville at Denver (+3) - Jacksonville's game winning field goal with no time left on the clock will be called back when Mike Shanahan tells the officials that he meant to call a timeout. Del Rio goes nuts on the sideline, Jacksonville is assessed 15 yards, and tries again from 65 yards. The Broncos block it and run it in for a touchdown.

Carolina (+4) at Atlanta - Good win, bad loss. That's Carolina's history the past couple of years. It isn't a good win this week, but it's a win nonetheless.

N.Y. Giants at Washington (+4) - The resistable force vs. the movable object. Give this one to the 'Skins, as the Giants can't stop anyone.

Dallas (-3) at Chicago - This one's an interesting strength vs. strength (Dallas O, Chicago D) and weakness vs. weakness (Dallas D, Chicago O) matchup. If this is one of the 3 scheduled appearances of good Rex for the year, Chicago wins fairly easily. I'm thinking not.

Tennessee (-5) at New Orleans - As I write this, I'm thinking "Go with the Saints - the Saints are a better team - they're at home - they're due." And just as I get ready to change the pick, I think "AFC vs. NFC. How have these two teams dealt with the Colts during the first two weeks?" Tennessee it is. At least, right now, it is. I may change this three more times before Monday.

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Patriots cheating, #12887 - Beating a dead horse

I am a big Peter King fan. One of the things that I look forward to every week is his Monday Morning Quarterback column. But I think that he (as well as most of the national media) have overstated the impact and "nefariousness" of the Patriots playing candid camera. A piece written yesterday includes the statement that:
It's widely believed that New England has stolen signals in this manner for years, but officials from various clubs acknowledge that the Pats are not the only team that does it. Last week's revelation doesn't mean the New England dynasty is a fraud, but it does take some shine off those three Super Bowl wins.

In the first place, of course New England has "stolen signals" in this manner for years. It should be obvious to the meannest intelligence that recording the defensive signal-calling has been standard operating procedure. It's part of their game-day activity. They've got video of all of the opposing coaches signals for the last 8 years - at least.

But leaving that alone for a minute, how can say simultaneously that "the Pats are not the only team that does it" and "it does take some shine off those three Super Bowl wins?" If they are breaking a rule which others are also breaking, and doing it to assist in an activity - "stealing" signals - that EVERYBODY else does, how does that taint the Super Bowl wins even a little bit? And if it does, how tainted are they, exactly? Are they more or less tainted than the Super Bowls that San Francisco and Denver won by cheating on the salary cap (which no one ever talks about as being tainted)? Are they more or less tainted than the Super Bowls of any teams (late 70s Steelers) who may have had players using illegal performance-enhancing drugs?

The Patriots won those Super Bowls. They earned them. To paraphrase their coach, they did business the way business was being done.

Period. End of discussion.

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So THAT's what they wanted from the manager!

Sometimes, the universe operates as if scripted by someone with an awesome sense of irony. One night after various Francona bashers unloaded on the manager for not bringing in Jon Papelbon to face Russ Adams in the 8th with the bases loaded, Francona brought in Papelbon to face Russ Adams in the 8th with the bases loaded.

Adams hit a grand slam.

I wonder if we'll hear the "the manager gave the game away" comments today...

The Red Sox magic number remains at 9, the lead is down to 1 1/2. The offense has struggled greatly this week, thus far. The bullpen has, as well. Far, far better to do it this week than the week after next. I'll be disappointed if they don't win the division, but in the big picture, it just doesn't matter. The only thing that really batters is getting one of the AL's four play-off spots, and any combination of Red Sox wins and Tigers losses adding to three accomplishes that.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Terry Francona is not a moron.

I've seen and heard a lot of criticism, even condemnation, of Terry Francona for not pulling Gagne after he walked the bases loaded last night. Yes, that was a frustrating game last night. Yes, Gagne has been a disaster. Yes, if your primary goal was winning that game, he should have been pulled before the game-tying walk.

But that obviously isn't the primary goal. Francona's not a moron. If we all can see what's happening, he can see it, too. We've got enough of a track record with him now to be able to understand what's happening. That would never happen in a playoff game. But they aren't playing playoff games yet - they're getting ready to go to the playoffs*. One of the things that they need to do is understand, before they set the rosters, whether Gagne is salvagable or not.

That stunk last night, but going into the post-season with the best record (which they still have, by the way) is not as important as going in with the right roster. As we've seen repeatedly. The only goal of the regular season is to win enough games to be playing in the post-seaons. Period. Sometime in the next few days, the Red Sox will have accomplished that this year.

The last time the team with the best record in baseball won a World Series was in 1998, when the Yankees did it. In the last 5 years, the AL representative in the World Series has gotten into the post-season via the Wild Card 3 times. Last year, the AL sent Detroit to the World Series, a team that led its division all year, had a bigger lead in August than the Red Sox did this year, and ended up losing its division late.

None of that means that I want them to go in as the Wild Card. I haven't given up on the division. I want them to win it, and think that there's some importance to doing so. But it pales in significance to setting the roster. And playing well in the playoffs. Last night's loss, in the grand scheme of things, doesn't mean as much as a win with Gagne getting out of that inning would have. So they left him in.

And prepare yourselves, because it (bringing him into a tight situation late and letting him pitch) is very likely to happen again...

* - And don't even bother with panic talk about how that might keep them out of the playoffs. They're 7 up in the loss column on Detroit with 10 to play, the magic number to clinch a playoff berth is 4. They'll be playing in the playoffs.

Over at Baseball Prospectus, Joe Sheehan agrees with me (though he's coming at the same question from a different perspective.) [Subscription required]
Look at how Terry Francona has managed his squad all month, in the knowledge that his team is going to October. He’s been resting players all around the roster, diddling with his rotation, and trying experiments like "let’s see how many batters Eric Gagne can walk in one inning." ... I can’t quantify the effects of rest on a player’s performance, but I can say that the cost of doing so—possibly ending up as the wild card versus winning the division—is essentially zero...It doesn’t matter who wins the AL East. It just matters that both the Yankees and the Red Sox stay ahead of the Tigers. As long as both are doing that, there’s no reason to care about who ends up with the better seed.

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Eric Gagne's trail of woe

On July 31, the Red Sox acquired closer Eric Gagne from Texas, adding to a strength, as they already had the most effective bullpen in the AL. The idea was to bolster the bullpen, shorten the game, and give Okajima and Papelbon a little more rest. The move was universally praised. I thought that it was a smart move - I still think that it was a smart move. There will be second-guessers mocking the front office for this one, but I won't be one of them. You judge a move based on what you know at the time. It looked like a good idea.

But it has been a disaster. A complete and total disaster. The magnitude of the problem can be understood when you say that they'd have been far better off had Gagne gotten hurt before ever taking the mound for the team. While it's rare that you can ever blame one player for a loss, a late inning reliever has to take that responsibility when he blows it. This team has four losses for which Gagne is directly responsible.

  1. Friday, August 10 - Boston's bats rally in the 8th at Baltimore, and they take 5-1 lead into the bottom of the 8th. Gagne comes in and allows 4 runs while retiring one batter. Boston loses, 6-5.

  2. Sunday, August 12 - Two days later, Boston takes a 3-1 lead into the bottom of the 8th. Gagne comes in, walks the first batter, gives up a 2-run homer to the third. Boston loses in 10, 6-3.

  3. Friday, August 17 - Five days after that, poised to take a double-header from the Angels after the Red Sox batters against score 4 in the bottom of the 8th, Gagne comes out to protect a 5-4 lead. He gives up 3 runs after retiring the first batter, and Boston loses 7-5.

  4. Tuesday, September 18 - An excellent performance by Jon Lester brings the Red Sox to the 8th inning with a 2-1 lead. Gagne retires the first two Toronto batters in the bottom of the 8th. Walk, single, walk loads the bases. Walk ties the game. Double drives in two more. Boston scores one in the 9th, but loses 4-3.

And the magic number is still 9, and the lead is down to 2 in the loss column, and there are four games which they almost certainly would have won had they not made the deadline trade for Gagne, and there aren't any games to point at on the plus side, games where he has made a positive difference.

He has allowed at least one run in 7 of his 15 appearances. He has allowed the tying or go-ahead run in 4 of his 15 appearances. He has allowed one or more baserunners in 14 of his 15 appearances. He has allowed 30 baserunners in just 14 innings. He's allowed 14 runs, for an ERA of 9.00.

He has, in short, been a disaster.

Update: Baseball Crank emails: "Eric Gagne is French for Calvin Schiraldi."

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why has al Qaeda turned to killing "innocent Muslims"?

Instapundit linked to a fantastic piece from TigerHawk about Al Quaeda and the "Arab Street." And it underscores, once again, how important it is that we win in Iraq, and how damaging the Democratic policy of "whatever hurts Bush is a good thing and whatever helps him is bad" has been, and continues to be, to the security of the region.
...why has al Qaeda turned to killing "innocent Muslims"? ... The best answer, or at least the answer that will best withstand the scrutiny of history, is that the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq, wittingly or not, put al Qaeda in an almost impossible position. We invaded and occupied a country in the heart of the Arab Middle East. If al Qaeda had railed against the mere presence of American troops in Saudi Arabia, the invasion and occupation of Mesopotamia was both intolerable -- al Qaeda's image and self-image could not suffer such a grave indignity -- and a tempting opportunity to humiliate the only remaining "superpower." Al Qaeda had to declare its objective to be the defeat of the United States in Iraq. (This is, by the way, why the characterization of the eventual withdrawal of American troops from Iraq is of strategic importance in and of itself, but that is the subject of another post.)

Of course, Al Qaeda clearly believed that it could drive the United States from Iraq just as Osama bin Laden believed that we would not have the stomach to invade Afghanistan, or that he and his mujahideen could push Saddam's armies out of Kuwait without the help of the Americans. Unfortunately, the army and Marines of the United States and its allies proved to be much harder targets than al Qaeda imagined, and George W. Bush and Tony Blair were more able to withstand domestic political opposition than just about anybody expected they would be. Soon, it became clear that al Qaeda would not be able to drive the Coalition from Iraq no matter how many Sunni Ba'athists it recruited.


It remains to be seen whether, when the dust literally and figuratively settles, al Qaeda will have succeeded either in rendering Iraq ungovernable under Western norms or in persuading a sufficient number of Americans that we have "lost." It is clear, though, that however much the Arab world may hate the United States for bringing the war into its midst, it is increasingly lining up against al Qaeda in the waging of that war. In the fullness of time history will reveal that the polarization of the Arab and Muslim world against al Qaeda is essential for victory against the transnational jihad, and that it was the direct result of the forward foreign policy of Bush and Blair.

Read the whole thing...

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Why was Kerry in Florida?

The tasering of a student at the University of Florida earlier this week took place at a talk being given by Massachusetts own John Kerry. What Chris wants to know is why was John Kerry there in the first place?
My response to that is, who cares? Let's just count our blessings that he was.

The less time John Kerry is in Washington doing his job, the better for the country. He can do far less damage droning to a group of college leftists in Florida than actually legislating.

And that goes for the rest of the Massachusetts congressional delegation as well...

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

"Seared, seared in my memory"

What's more fun than Being John Malkovich?

Mocking John Kerry...

Later, the professional Vietnam veteran expressed concern that the student’s freedom of speech had been squelched in "a fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan…that is, if Mr. Khan had been able to buy a high-voltage stun gun."

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NFL week 2 wrapup

Eventually, they actually played football this weekend.

  • The biggest shock of the weekend took place in Cleveland. If you'd asked me on Friday to order the teams in the NFL on the likeliness of them scoring 51 points, Cleveland would have been 32nd on that list. I didn't see much of the game, and don't know how, exactly, that happened, but given the chance of betting my house on Cleveland scoring over/under 50 this past weekend, I'd now be homeless.

  • There's not much to add to my earlier comments about the Patriots/Chargers game. New England dominated from start to finish. San Diego is (probably) still one of the very good teams in the league, but they were absolutely not competitive in Foxboro.

  • Did Donovan McNabb ever deserve his reputation and status? Does he give the Eagles the best chance to win now? How long will it be before they score a touchdown?

  • Tom Coughlin came in as the disciplinarian to fix the Giants. To make the dumb penalties stop, to keep the players on the field, to run a tough defense. I have affection for Tom from his days at Boston College, but the kindest thing that you can say about his tenure in New York right now is that, on that list, he's 0-3. What's more clear is that the players have completely tuned him out. They're just waiting for him to get fired, and see what happens next. At least, that's how it looks to me.

  • I'm developing a level of skepticism about the Baltimore defense. If they were what people think they are, they wouldn't have let the Jets drive down the field with a QB making his first NFL start and tie the game inside the last two minutes. What's that? They didn't? Well, yes, they did. The Jets just failed to score the points. McCareins dropped one touchdown, Clemens overthrew a second. No credit to the Baltimore defense.

  • I think that the Saints are a) not as good as they were expected to be and b) better than they've played so far. I'd still bet them in that division.

  • When looking at the schedule for week 3 before the season, Indianapolis at Houston would no have jumped out as a game of interest. And even after week 1, well, everyone understands that Kansas City's bad, so what did it mean that Houston started 1-0? But Carolina is still a hyped team, and Houston went in and beat them handily. Now, this game looks like a real measuring stick - what are the Texans? Are they real? Are they a threat?

  • So the New York Jets cheated this week, breaking an NFL rule to gain a competitive advantage. When do we suppose that the $500,000 fine for Mangini and loss of a first-round draft pick will be announced? (I'm not holding my breath, but, for consistency...

  • My best analysis of the week (tie):
    1. Houston (+7) at Carolina - AFC 98-pound weakling kicks sand in the face of NFC bully. Carolina played a good game in St. Louis last week - I'm betting that they can't do it two weeks in a row. Houston with the upset.

    2. San Diego at New England (-4) - ...let me keep this short and simple - the Patriots are a better team, they have better players, they have better coaching, and they'll win this one by a touchdown or more.

  • My worst analysis of the week (again, there's an embarassment of riches here): The lock of the week. Cleveland spent 7 weeks of training camp choosing the quarterback who gave them the best chance to win. And then benched him after 1 half and traded him after one game. Cincinnati covers this if they score 8 or more. I vote "more." Instead, Cincinnati scored 45. And lost.

  • For the week:
    7-8-1 against the spread
    9-7 on winners
    (No, I'm not giving up my day job and moving to Vegas any time soon...)

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Monday, September 17, 2007

Patriots have to turn over tapes? Uh, OK...

From Peter King's Monday Morning Quarterback column (of which I am, as a general rule, a big fan):
If he thinks the Patriots are pulling some sort of Rose Mary Woods and erasing video or withholding the video he's asked New England to provide, he could easily increase the penalty on the hooded one. Goodell wants all coaching video made available to him, and if the Pats don't cooperate, he'll increase the penalty...This week, the Patriots will have to make available all the tape the NFL demands to see. How much tape is that? It could be boxes and boxes. I have no idea how Goodell can be sure he's getting it all, and I have no idea how he can figure out whether Belichick is hiding any illicit tape he's had his video guys shoot over the past seven years, if indeed there is some. I'm dubious about the chances of Goodell finding anything else wrong, but we'll see.

Let's get real for a minute. The Patriots may have "boxes and boxes" of tape, but that's not where their video is. (This is something that I know a little bit about.) They've got, somewhere on their premises, a video capture/editing/playback system. When their video comes in on Sunday, Monday, whenever, it is immediately loaded into the system. The files are chopped up, tagged with keywords, players, teams, coaches, down and distance, and the tape is maybe archived, and maybe used again. But the data is stored as computer files, in a system with a big database that allows them to pull out whatever they want based on specific criteria. Want to see every third down play that the Colts have run in the last five years from between their own 30 yard line and midfield? No problem.

And those files aren't just in the massive storage system on-site. They're certainly archived and backed up off-site, as well, with Iron Mountain or someone. In other words, all of that sideline footage (and it certainly exists, probably for every game that they've played since Belichick arrived) is going to be very hard to purge. This isn't a case of pulling the cardboard box out of the closet and hauling it away. This stuff is integrated, and if/when they delete it from the database, it will still exist in the archives.

In other words, erasing video is exactly what the NFL is going to want them to do. And it won't be easy, or quick. As to "withholding," what would they withhold? There's no question that they've been recording sideline signals, the NFL knows it, the Patriots know that the NFL knows it, hell, Belichick tried to justify it (reportedly) to the commissioner last week. What could possibly be gained by not just showing them all of the sideline video that everyone already knows they have?

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Monday Pythagorean - 9/17

The Red Sox lost 3 times this week, the Yankees lost twice. They go into the last two weeks with Boston up 4 1/2, 4 in the loss column, with a magic number of 9.

  • Many people conceded the AL East to the Red Sox back in May, some even in April. I was not one of them. Had they won last night, I'd have called it this morning. But they didn't. And, again, because of last night, New York wins the season series, and wins the division if they finish in a tie. So I'm not willing to call it yet. I still believe that Boston holds on and wins the East, but they need to keep winning, at least a little bit longer.

  • I had a debate a couple of weeks ago with someone who thought Francona had done a poor job with the pitching staff this year, leaving starters in too long. I disagreed, but Schilling shouldn't have been pitching the 8th last night. That was a mistake.

  • The week could have been better, as two of the best relief pitchers in baseball this year had their least effective outings of the season on the same night Friday. On the other hand, it could easily have been worse, as they were down by 7 early on Tuesday, and down to their last out on Wednesday before winning both of those games. On the whole, they needed to get through the week with their lead intact, and they basically did. They went into the weekend needing 1 win to maintain control of the division, and they did that.

  • In the race for the best record in baseball (the top 4 teams are all in the AL), Boston currently leads both Cleveland and LAnaheim by 2 1/2, 2 in the loss column.

  • Three in Toronto, three in Tampa Bay this week, and that will close the road portion of the Red Sox schedule.

AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 9/17/2007



New York5.85(1)4.77(7)0.592(2)88618564-3

Los Angeles5.19(4)4.51(5)0.564(3)846587623








Kansas City4.49(13)4.79(8)0.47(11)70786484-6


Tampa Bay4.89(8)5.83(14)0.421(13)638763870


Top 5 projections (using current winning %)

Los Angeles9567


New York9270


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

Los Angeles9468


New York9369


Standings for the week




Los Angeles6.67(3)4.83(7)0.643(3)4233-1



Tampa Bay5.43(5)5(8)0.538(6)4334-1

New York4.5(9)4.17(3)0.535(7)33421





Kansas City3.17(14)4.5(5)0.345(12)24240



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Patriots-Chargers - the morning after

There were several different myths surrounding last winter's play-off game between New England and San Diego that I dealt with at the time. The bottom line, in my opinion, was that the Chargers outplayed the Patriots for the first 28 minutes, and took a 14-3 lead. After that point, the Patriots outplayed San Diego, by a fairly significant margin. This wasn't a case of a vastly superior team giving a game away - it was a case of two excellent teams, and one of them played smarter than they other.

The Patriots improved in the offseason. The Chargers didn't. In fact, they went backwards, as they downgraded the coaching staff and did not upgrade the roster. Last night's blowout illustrated that very nicely. The Chargers could not stop the Patriots. They couldn't run against the Patriots. They couldn't throw against the Patriots. They had one big break in the game, when, at 31-14, Ellis Hobbs fumbled the kickoff and the Chargers recovered. How did the Patriots defense respond? 10-yard sack. 10-yard sack. Incomplete pass. On the ensuing punt, San Diego downed the ball at the 9. The Patriots drove 91 yards on 15 plays while using 10:07 off the clock.

Complete domination.

(The coverage took the trouble to make sure that we knew that the Chargers were missing three starters. The Patriots, obviously, weren't, unless you consider that Seymour, Harrison and Neal would have been starting if they weren't hurt...)

Coming into this season, coming into this week, there were three teams that everyone knew were on a different level than all the rest. We don't know that anymore. What we do know is that New England and San Diego are not on the same level.

Interesting stat: The Patriots are averaging 1 punt per game. 1 in game 1. 1 in game 2. If Hanson weren't holding on field goal and PAT attempts, he'd have nothing to do.

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Saturday, September 15, 2007

Red Sox Magic Number - September 16

Well, post-game September 15, anyway. The Magic Number is down to 9.

If Boston goes 9-4 (.692), they win the East
If Boston goes 8-5 (.615), Yankees need to go 14-0 (1.000) to tie.
If Boston goes 7-6 (.538), Yankees need to go 13-1 (.929) to tie.
If Boston goes 6-7 (.462), Yankees need to go 12-2 (.857) to tie.
If Boston goes 5-8 (.385), Yankees need to go 11-3 (.786) to tie.
If Boston goes 4-9 (.308), Yankees need to go 10-4 (.714) to tie.
If Boston goes 3-10 (.231), Yankees need to go 9-5 (.643) to tie.
If Boston goes 2-11 (.154), Yankees need to go 8-6 (.571) to tie.
If Boston goes 1-12 (.077), Yankees need to go 7-7 (.500) to tie.
If Boston goes 0-13 (.000), Yankees need to go 6-8 (.429) to tie.

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Friday, September 14, 2007

Link of the day

This speaks for itself...

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Week 2 - NFL picks

Atlanta (+11) at Jacksonville - This week, we start by recycling last week's commentary on both of these teams. There is no reason to pick Atlanta here. None. Jacksonville's not good enough to be a 7 point favorite over anyone. That said, they're probably good enough to beat Atlanta. Atlanta covers, Jacksonville wins.

Buffalo (+10) at Pittsburgh - Pittsburgh looked like world-beaters last week. It was an illusion, as they were playing a Cleveland team that promptly traded its starting QB - for a 6th round draft pick! So we don't know how good the Steelers are. The Bills are a fairly tough, fairly physical, fairly well-coached team. If only the Tin Man had a heart, if only the Scarecrow had a brain, if only the Bills had a quarterback. I don't think that Buffalo goes into Pittsburgh and wins. But I think that they play the Steelers tough, and lose close.

Cincinnati (-7) at Cleveland - The lock of the week. Cleveland spent 7 weeks of training camp choosing the quarterback who gave them the best chance to win. And then benched him after 1 half and traded him after one game. Cincinnati covers this if they score 8 or more. I vote "more."

Green Bay at New York Giants (pick 'em) - Is Eli actually developing into a real NFL QB? Or is the Dallas defense just a lost cause? Of course, the Giant defense is nothing to write home about, either. I know that this is heresy, but I think that Bret Favre was overrated even when he was great, and that he's declined more than his reputation has. I'm going with the home team here, because, while the Giants can't stop a real offense, I don't believe that the Packers have one.

Houston (+7) at Carolina - AFC 98-pound weakling kicks sand in the face of NFC bully. Carolina played a good game in St. Louis last week - I'm betting that they can't do it two weeks in a row. Houston with the upset.

Indianapolis at Tennessee (+8) - I was all set here to start with "Tennessee is the last team to beat the Colts." Research, unfortunately, reveals that both Jacksonville and Houston beat them after the Titans, rendering that fantastic beginning, well, somewhat less than fantastic. I'd love to pick the Titans here, with their pounding running game against the Colts undersized defense, with the home-field advantage, but I just can't quite bring myself to do it. The game's outside, on real turf, but Colts are 15-1 in September in the last four years and ... Oh, what the hell - Tennessee 27, Colts 24.

New Orleans (-3) at Tampa Bay - New Orleans played ... poorly last week. They're unlikely to play that poorly again. Even if they do, it's probably enough to beat (and cover against) the Buccaneers...

San Francisco at St. Louis (-3) - The 1-0 team is not quite as good as the 0-1 team. The 1-0 team is on the road. The 0-1 team wins (and covers). Leaving us with two 1-1 teams. Which is about what these two teams are...

Dallas (-3) at Miami - As long as Terence Newman is out, the Cowboys have got a real defensive problem. They can't stop a good offense. You can see where I'm going with this... Miami holds Dallas to 21, but they can't score 14 themselves.

Minnesota at Detroit (-3) - Detroit wins big. Or loses. It depends. (How's that for useful commentary?) Kitna can throw the ball, Martz is still an offensive genius, they've got receivers. I can see this team, several times this year, putting up a lot of points. I can also see them throwing a lot of picks and losing painfully. I'm guessing that this week, it's the former.

Seattle (-3) at Arizona - I'd love to pick the Cardinals here. I don't like Mike Holmgren, and any residual affection that I had for the Seahawks back in the days of Zorn and Largent seems to have dissipated. I'd love to see Leinart succeed, and I think he could in the right place. But I can't go against Seattle here - they win by a touchdown or more.

Kansas City at Chicago (-13) - I don't know whether good Rex or bad Rex shows up. I don't care. I don't think it matters. Chicago's defense and special teams outscores KC by 14. Or more.

New York Jets at Baltimore (-11) - Many Jets fans have been eager and anxious for Kellen Clemens to replace Chad Pennington. They're going to get their wish. How cliche would it be, right now, to say "be careful what you wish for?" Very. I'm going to say it anyway. Going to Baltimore, to face a Ravens team that got jobbed by the officials on Monday night, is not the scenario under which you'd prefer your maybe/possibly/could be/hope-he-is QB of the future to be making his first NFL start. Obviously, Baltimore wins and covers. Not because the Ravens' offense will do much, but they'll do enough. The real question is, what's the over/under on negative pass plays (interceptions & sacks) for the Jets? I'm saying 7, and betting the over...

Oakland (+10) at Denver - The Broncos put up big yardage against the Bills, but had to kick a 42-yard field goal as time expired to win a close, low-scoring game. Oakland lost at home to Detroit, but the offense scored. I'm not yet sold on Cutler, Oakland's defense is good - I don't think that the Raiders can win, but they'll keep it close. Denver wins, Oakland beats the spread.

San Diego at New England (-4) - I'll have more on this one later. For now, let me keep this short and simple - the Patriots are a better team, they have better players, they have better coaching, and they'll win this one by a touchdown or more.

Washington (+7) at Philadelphia - The Redskins were life and death to beat Miami, in overtime, at home. The Eagles were life and death to lose to Green Bay on the road. Seven points is too big for any games between these two teams, both of which are pretty well coached, have decent defenses, and aren't offensive powerhouses. Philadelphia wins but doesn't cover, and neither team gets out of the mid-teens.

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Patriots "cheating" - punishment meted out, lynch mob dissatisfied

Full disclosure up front:
- I am a big fan of the New England Patriots.
- I am a big fan of Bill Belichick, as a coach.

That out of the way, my last comments on the mountain-out-of-molehill story of the week:

  • The Patriots broke an NFL rule. They should be punished.

  • The Patriots did not "cheat." At least, not that we know of. Had Matt Estrella been in the twelfth row, or the press box, or a private box with his video camera, it would not have violated the rules. There is no rule against looking at the opposing coaches signalling in plays, watching them with binoculars, having observers write them down. There is no expectation of privacy when signalling plays in, in full view of tens of thousands of people. Given that, I say again, the Patriots did not "cheat." They broke the rules. There's a difference.

  • Would I feel the same way if the story were about, say, the Colts? Well, I'd have preferred that, obviously. This is not fun for a Patriots fan. But I don't think I'd be in the lynch mob in that case, either. They have violated a rule that I think is, frankly, silly. It's a rule for the sake of having a rule. I think that, to the extent that signs are stolen, everyone is doing it. I don't believe that I'd feel significantly different if it had been someone else caught with the camera.

  • I do think, though, that the story, and probably the punishment, would have been significantly different. Bill Belichick is a person with tremendous skills, intelligence, and he's fascinating to listen to when talking football. He's well-read and interesting. He's also, apparently, a jerk, or has been on many occasions. There are a lot of people who are thrilled to have an opportunity to play whack-a-mole with him. So we are treated to the "Beli-cheat" headlines, and all of the people that he's beaten over the years revelling in the "well, of course he beat us - he was cheating!" after-the-fact rationalizations. This story is very different if it's the Houston Texans or Minnesota Vikings. And the punishment is, too.

  • Why is the punishment different? Because you don't have the punishment issued by the commissioner after a week of every media member hammering on how tough the commissioner is, and how hard he's going to be on this transgression. The media spent the week ensuring that Goodell had to either hammer the Patriots or get hammered himself.

  • One of the facts of life is that the media operates in both build-them-up and tear-them-down modes. Those are great storylines, and the media is all about the storyline. Starting in 2001, the Patriots were a classic build-them-up story. There was an absolute feeding-frenzy this week, as everyone who had (very understandably) gotten sick of the Patriots jumped on the bandwagon. There was a spiral of competition to see who could come up with the most vitriol, the highest state of moral dudgeon. It was more than a little bit sickening.

  • Some of the people resenting that on WEEI have spent much of the last two years doing exactly the same thing with Barry Bonds. I'm not one of them, and have criticized that behavior. It was no more appropriate or enjoyable when aimed at Bonds than it is aimed at Belichick and the Patriots.

The football pundits are, as a group, enjoying their dudgeon, competing to see who can, most quickly and firmly bemoan the unbelievable leniency of the commissioner in this case.
SI's Don Banks: sounds a little strange to claim that Bill Belichick got off lightly, in terms of the penalty he received from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for his role in the Patriots' videotaping incident Sunday at Giants Stadium. And yet, I'm still left with the feeling Belichick dodged the worst-case scenario...

SI's Peter King:
I think the Patriots and Bill Belichick got off lucky.'s John Clayton:
The penalty was too light.

Pete Prisco:
This is the integrity of the game we're talking about. Goodell should have come down harder on the coach.

Mike Freeman:
Somewhere Bill Belichick is feeling a stinging sensation near his hand. It's due to the slap on the wrist.

USAToday's Jon Saraceno:
I would have preferred to see Belichick suspended for multiple games, without pay, and banned from headquarters, and for the team to lose a first-round pick

Poppycock. The Denver Broncos cheated when the went over the salary cap to sign John Elway's last contract. They gained an actual competitive advantage and won two Super Bowls. They lost one (1) second (2nd) round draft pick. The idea that what the Patriots have done warrants a worse punishment completely escapes me. This punishment is all out of proportion to the crime.

Rich Hofmann, of the Philadelphia News, on the other hand, gets it:
The embarrassment for Belichick and his owner, Robert Kraft, was already enormous. This set of punishments - especially the forfeiture of the first-round draft choice, just a gigantic penalty, way more than anyone had a right to expect - will assure that no one will ever use a camera again to do what an observant 12-year-old can do almost as well.

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Red Sox Magic Number - September 14

Toronto's 2-1 win over New York on Thursday raised Boston's lead in the AL East to 5 1/2 games, 5 in the loss column. Their magic number for winning their first division title in 12 years is now 11.

If Boston goes 11-4 (.733), they win the East
If Boston goes 10-5 (.667), Yankees need to go 16-0 (1.000) to tie.
If Boston goes 9-6 (.600), Yankees need to go 15-1 (.938) to tie.
If Boston goes 8-7 (.533), Yankees need to go 14-2 (.875) to tie.
If Boston goes 7-8 (.467), Yankees need to go 13-3 (.813) to tie.
If Boston goes 6-9 (.400), Yankees need to go 12-4 (.750) to tie.
If Boston goes 5-10 (.333), Yankees need to go 11-5 (.688) to tie.
If Boston goes 4-11 (.267), Yankees need to go 10-6 (.625) to tie.
If Boston goes 3-12 (.200), Yankees need to go 9-7 (.563) to tie.
If Boston goes 2-13 (.133), Yankees need to go 8-8 (.500) to tie.
If Boston goes 1-14 (.067), Yankees need to go 7-9 (.438) to tie.
If Boston goes 0-15 (.000), Yankees need to go 6-10 (.375) to tie.

Chris' take on the Red Sox magic number 11

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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Prisco's whitewashing his past commentary

Pete Prisco is jumping on the Mario Williams bandwagon:
Take the flashy runner. Take the hometown quarterback. Take anybody but the defensive end...Casserly defied conventional thinking in taking Williams, and that led to an uproar around the league, and especially in Houston. He was vilified on the talk-show circuit. ...That might change now. And here's why: The Texans indeed picked the right player. And I'm not just saying that because Casserly is now writing for this website or works as an insider for The NFL Today on CBS.

I've been saying that all along.

Uh, yeah, right Pete. Like, for example, your draft grades?
Houston Texans - Worst pick: Mario Williams. They should have selected Reggie Bush.

It must be a columnist's prerogative, to ignore what you wrote before and pretend that what you're saying now is what you always said. Lovely.

Now, I, on the other hand, was the one person, beyond Charley Casserly, who did NOT think that Reggie Bush was the right choice:
All indications are that the Houston Texans are going to start by making Reggie Bush the number one pick. I think that's a mistake. It's not that I don't think Reggie Bush is a spectacular athlete, because he is. Or that I don't think he'll be an exciting and successful NFL player, because he will. But he won't have the biggest positive impact. I don't know which player that is, but it's probably a defensive lineman, an offensive lineman, or a quarterback. In my opinion. Bush will look spectacular, he'll make all of the ESPN highlight shows, and he'll go to the play-offs. If he's on a team with a good enough defense, offensive line and quarterback. I don't think a speed/finesse back is ever an essential building block, and I'd never draft one first overall.

Football Punditry score:
Lyford 1, Pete Prisco -1 (0 for the pick, plus he loses 1 for lying about it...)

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Anagram poetry

Free verse...

New England Patriots
deplore stagnant win.
Wrangled inapt notes,
Slow and penetrating,
Talent spreading now,
Penetrating lads won!

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Today's global warming news

Offered without comment...

Al Gore, in front of the United States Congress, March 21, 2007.
...there is no longer any serious debate over the basic points that make up the consensus on global warming

According to a press release from the Hudson Institute, September 12, 2007:
A new analysis of peer-reviewed literature reveals that more than 500 scientists have published evidence refuting at least one element of current man-made global warming scares. More than 300 of the scientists found evidence that 1) a natural moderate 1,500-year climate cycle has produced more than a dozen global warmings similar to ours since the last Ice Age and/or that 2) our Modern Warming is linked strongly to variations in the sun's irradiance...Other researchers found evidence that 3) sea levels are failing to rise importantly; 4) that our storms and droughts are becoming fewer and milder with this warming as they did during previous global warmings; 5) that human deaths will be reduced with warming because cold kills twice as many people as heat; and 6) that corals, trees, birds, mammals, and butterflies are adapting well to the routine reality of changing climate. Despite being published in such journals such as Science, Nature and Geophysical Review Letters, these scientists have gotten little media attention.

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9/11 - "Failure of human beings ... to learn to love each other"

Deval Patrick, the current Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, whose office is less than 5 miles from Logan airport, where the flights which struck the World Trade Center originated, had comments to make during a brief ceremony on 9/11. He spoke for only four minutes, but the length mattered far less than the attitude. It was a bland and banal statement, poorly written*, poorly delivered, and inappropriate to the subject**.

Patrick, speaking in front of the Massachusetts State House, repeatedly referred to the events of that day as a "tragedy." (Well, he did, one time, speak of "a mean and nasty and bitter attack," as if he were talking about a gossipy spat between rival cliques of teenage girls.) No, Deval. There were certainly tragic aspects, but this was an act of barbarism and war. Hurricanes and tornados and floods and bridge collapses can be tragedies - this was something different.

But his main point seemed to be focused on failures, not of security, but of "understanding" and "love."
9/11 was a failure of human understanding. It was a mean and nasty and bitter attack on the United States but it was also about the failure of human beings to understand each other and to learn to love each other.

...All we need is love... Clearly Deval is a political disciple of that profound philosopher John Lennon. But wouldn't that message probably be more effective if taught to the perpetrators rather than the victims of that horrific attack?

To quote Michelle Malkin, "there are 9/10 people and 9/12 people." Deval is clearly a 9/10 person. This is not a surprise. This is nothing new. But that was a shockingly bad performance on Tuesday.

The entire speech:
Lieutenant Governor Murray, families, friends and supporters of the victims of 911 to the Massachusetts police honor guard and the song - the singer from the Massachusetts state police, to the 911 fund for all that you do to support the many families affected by 9/11, for organizing today's ceremony and for the 9/11 victim's memorial that was dedicated in October of last year in a solemn and beautiful ceremony.

We meet today to honor the lives of the 205 - 206 sons and daughters of our Commonwealth who were lost 6 years ago in the tragedy of september 11, 2001, and with them the thousands of others from across our nation and across the globe who were lost in that tragedy as well. Our tribute is for each of them and our condolences are with each of you, and the families and survivors so touched by that day.

Each of us felt the impact of the incidence of September 11 but the mothers and fathers and sons and daughters and sisters and brothers and friends of those who died endured perhaps the most profound loss of all. This is your community. And your community is with you today and every day.

We have lived the last 6 years in the shadow of that tragedy. We carry the vivid reminders of the pain and of the anger we felt, but we must also carry the vivid reminders of the compassion and generosity that was shown that day and in the days and weeks that followed. The coming together that happened, not only in communities that lost a loved one, and not only in New York or Virginia or Pennsylvania or in Washington, DC, and not only in the United States, but all across the world. That is the spirit in which we re-convene today, and that is what must last. Because among many other things, 9/11 was a failure of human understanding. It was a mean and nasty and bitter attack on the United States but it was also about the failure of human beings to understand each other and to learn to love each other. It seems to me that lesson and that warning is [sic] something we must carry with us every day.

Fortunately for human beings, the human heart is not designed to carry grief forever. Somehow we manage to move on. And that may be, in some ways, our greatest strength. We live in a rare place where our ideas, our shared goals and our common humanity will, and must be, more powerful, and must ultimately win out over intransigence and anger and violence and division. Tempered by these losses, we will emerge a strong and better place, that is how we best serve the memories of those we love. We do that not in anger at the horror of their loss, but in honor of the beauty of their lives. We miss them not because they are gone, but because they were here.

Now in honor - in their honor, we raise the flag.

Video here

* And I know poor writing... ;-)
** In other words, exactly the kind of thing that one would expect from a Massachusetts Pol.

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