Thursday, May 28, 2009

"What did the President know, and when did he know it?"

As if the post facto screwing of the bond-holders with all that that will entail for the economy down the road wasn't a big enough reason for the Obama administration not to have taken over Chrysler (and not to take over GM), we're seeing suspicions, and reasons for suspicion, of this:
Evidence appears to be mounting that the Obama administration has systematically targeted for closing Chrysler dealers who contributed to Repubicans. What started earlier this week as mainly a rumbling on the Right side of the Blogosphere has gathered some steam today with revelations that among the dealers being shut down are a GOP congressman and closing of competitors to a dealership chain partly owned by former Clinton White House chief of staff Mack McLarty.

And, apparently
one of the guys advising SecTreas on this thing is married to someone who used to be one of the people in charge of fundraising for the Democratic Party. This explains so much it’s scary.


Listen, I try to avoid hyperbole. It tends to be counterproductive, and if you hyperventilate about everything, then hyperventilating about the big stuff can be ignored because, well, you hyperventilate about everything, so where's the credibility?

But. If the Obama administration is actually using the Chrysler bankruptcy Government Takeover to punish polital opponents and/or reward political supporters, that's a grotesque abuse of power. It is as bad as anything Richard Nixon did. And it ought not be allowed to stand, because we are not a nation of laws if it does - we become a nation where political patronage is not only a component of success, it is the primary component of success. And that's is one of the roads to ruin.

Labels: , , , ,

| Links to this post

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Changing the rules in the middle of the game is rarely a good idea

Elections have consequences.

Dennis Buccholtz:
I purchased GM bonds in 2005 and own $91,000 worth. These bonds account for a very sizeable portion of my retirement income, and so it is absolutely devastating to watch GM's problems bring the once venerable company to the brink of failure. My standard of living is truly in jeopardy.

Despite the terrible position my fellow bondholders and I are in, we are being portrayed as the cause of GM's problems and inability to restructure.

Who is perpetrating this myth? The American government, which is at once encouraging investment in U.S. companies and vilifying those who have already invested. Billions upon billions of taxpayer dollars have been used to stabilize companies to restore investor confidence. But how can investors be confident when they're at risk of ending up on the wrong end of the government's stick?

...

I am a retired dye-making trade worker and even worked in the auto industry during my career. I don't understand why the government is penalizing people like me just for having funded my retirement with GM bonds. Bondholders, especially small bondholders, are being ignored in negotiations and singled out to bear the greatest share of the cost of restructuring GM.

Actions have consequences. The more we see, the more it is obvious that this administration's economic plans cannot possibly improve the economy in this country. The only remaining question is whether the administration believes that it is improving the economy, or whether it's goals are more important - to it - than improving the economy...

Labels: , , ,

| Links to this post

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

"The Greatest Defeat"

Back in the pre-Amazon days, one had to actually go into book stores to buy books. And for some of us, there weren't book stores on every corner. We had a library in town, but the nearest bookstore was the Mr. Paperback in Waterville, 25 miles away. So the distribution of the Scholastic Books catalog at school was always exciting, and I never failed to find a couple of things that I wanted to have. One of my favorites of these books was Strange But True Baseball Stories by Furman Bisher.



I have long since misplaced, destroyed or lost my paperback copy, but I had such affection for it that I found and purchased a hardcover used copy when my boys were old enough to read. And one of my favorite stories from that book is the story of the Harvey Haddix perfect game.

Well, today is the 50th anniversary of that game. Harvey Haddix took the mound for the Pittsburgh Pirates against the Braves in Milwaukee, and retired the first 27 men he faced, pitching a perfect game1. Unfortunately, while the Pirates had gathered some baserunners, they hadn't managed to score any of them, so they went into extra innings. And Haddix retired the Braves in order in the 10th. And the 11th. And the 12th. 36 up, 36 down.

And he lost it anyway, allowing one one hit and one intentional walk. Felix Mantilla led off the bottom of the 13th and became the first Brave baserunner when Pirate 3B Don Hoak committed a throwing error. Following a sacrifice bunt, Haddix intentionally walked Hank Aaron. And Joe Adcock ended the game with what was officially ruled a double. He hit it out of the park, and ran the bases, but Aaron thought that the ball was still in play, and that the game ended as soon as he touched second. He left the field, Adcock was ruled out for passing him on the bases, and it went into the books as a 1-0 Milwaukee win instead of 3-0.

But it was certainly the greatest pitching performance which ever ended in a pitcher being assigned a loss...


1 - It's not actually listed on Major League Baseball's list of perfect games, because he ended up allowing baserunners, and they removed it when they scrubbed the records for no-hitters in the 90s. I think that it, along with Ernie Shore's and Pedro Martinez' may be footnoted on the list, but I'm not sure. I am sure that Major League Baseball does not consider it to be an official "Perfect Game."

Labels: , ,

| Links to this post

Jason Bay and the baseball market - brief thoughts

In response to the allegation, made elsewhere, that the Red Sox "messed up by not signing Bay already."

The Sox messed up by not signing Bay already.

When? And for how much? And how many years? I'm sure he'd have signed for $100 million guaranteed over 5 years - have they "messed up" by not offering him that contract? If not, where do you draw the line?

It takes two sides to make a deal. By all accounts, the team and the player negotiated during the spring, and were unable to come to agreement on what a reasonable contract would be. No one knows what the market will look like next winter. I'm sure that they COULD have offered him a contract he'd have signed, but it would have been a bad contract. Whether they COULD have found a contract that both sides liked that wouldn't have been a bad contract - well, both sides tried, and they couldn't agree. The idea that this somehow represents "mess[ing] up" is just silly.

Is it conceivable that they "messed up," conceivable that Bay was willing to take something that would unquestionably be a fair contract for the team? I suppose so. In the absence of compelling evidence to suggest that was the case, and there's no evidence whatsoever, never mind compelling evidence, then it's unfair to the team to assume that that was the case.

His value is going through the roof and by the end of the season they will be in a bidding war with the Yankees that they will not be able to win.

Well, his value has certainly gone up thus far this year. But he'll also turn 31 before the season ends, has never had a year anywhere near this good before, and isn't a very good outfielder. He's currently on a pace to finish at .289/.418/.616/1.035 with 47 home runs. Anyone want to bet that he finishes with a SLG > .600? More than 45 HR? I don't.

Yeah, he's had a great start to the season, and is a big part of the reason that they're in first place and that they've overperformed their pythagorean. I'm glad that he's on the team now. But he's already signed for this year. The next contract covers him from age 31-35 or 31-36. Is his age 31 season going to be more like his age 26 season (.306/.402/.559/.961 with 32 home runs) or his age 28 season (.247/.327/.418/.746 with 21 home runs)? How about his age 32 season? His age 33 season?

What is a reasonable fair-market approximation for his yearly value over the next four or five? Is it closer to the $5 million that Bobby Abreu's getting paid this year, or the $20 million that Manny's getting? Let's suppose that we know (which we don't and can't) that he's going to average .283/.377/.522/.899 and 30 home runs (about his average for his career) over the next 30 years, playing in 155 games per year. What's the Net Present Value of that performance in today's market? What's the Net Present Value of that performance in the market as it will exist in November 2009? What's the Net Present Value of that performance in the market as it will exist in November 2010?

The fact is, if you can't come up with reasonable answers to all of those questions, answers that both sides agree are not only possible but likely, then you can't make a deal. If you think that they "messed up," give us details. What is the length of the contract and the average annual value that would have gotten the deal done without severely hurting the team?

It is certainly reasonable to say, "I'd like to have Bay on a long-term contract." It's reasonable to say, "I wish that the team had extended him in spring training." It's even reasonable to say that, "I think they could have signed him to a better contract before the season than they'll be able to sign him to after the season." But to say that they "messed up" assumes a whole lot of facts which are not in evidence, and cannot be known.

Labels: , ,

| Links to this post

Memorial Day video

The William Diamond Junior Fife and Drum Corps, playing "To Anacreon in Heaven" at the Memorial Day service in West Brookfield, MA. 5/25/2009



"To Anacreon in Heaven" is, of course, better known now as "The Star-Spangled Banner."

Labels: ,

| Links to this post

Monday, May 25, 2009

Monday Pythagorean, 5/25/2009

Now we've passed the quarter pole of the season, and the Red Sox have moved into sole possession of first place in the AL East for the first time. Not, I think, for the last.

  • Baseball is very sequence-dependent. A team can string together a couple of singles, a walk and a home run and score 4 runs or 1 run - it all depends on the order in which the events occur. Well, this was a sequence-dependent week. Objectively and overall, a 4-2 week which includes a three-game sweep over a team that was leading you by 3 1/2 games when the week started is a good week. But because the Toronto sweep was followed by losing two of three to the Mets, and because that featured a game that they absolutely should have won on Saturday night, and because the Yankees also went 4-2 with several late-inning come from behind wins so there's no additional separation, it feels more like an OK week than a really good one.


  • It didn't feel like a really good week, or even an OK one, for the Toronto Blue Jays, who won on Monday to raise their lead in the AL East to 3 1/2 games, and proceeded to lose their next six. For the first time since April 14, they'll take the field without a share of first place in the East. It's possible, and maybe even likely, that they've spent their last day in first for 2009.


  • For the first time this year, the Red Sox have strung together a bunch of good to very good starting pitching performances. Before Matsuzaka's start on Friday night, they'd had five straight starts with 2 or fewer earned runs allowed. Beckett followed with another outstanding performance on Saturday. And Matsuzaka wasn't bad on Friday, but was hurt, as they so often have been, by the defense being subpar behind him.


  • How much of this streak is due to Boston pitching, and how much is due to Toronto and NY Mets offensive weakness is not clear. Whatever the cause, this is probably the best 10 game stretch the starters have had this year. They've pitched 65 1/3 innings over the last 10 games, with an ERA of 3.58. They had a slightly lower ERA (3.45) from April 18-April 28, but only threw 57 1/3 innings. The 10-game WHIP of 1.31 is easily the best stretch of the season thus far. This is far more like what we expected to see than much of what we've seen.


  • The next 10 could be tough. They're heading out on the road for 11 days to visit three venues where they've not traditionally had unlimited success. But, while they haven't played the best ball in the AL so far, I still see them as the best team in the AL, and still expect them to win the East.


  • Red Sox Player of the Week: This is a tough call. Too tough, and so I'm going to split the award and give out co-Player of the Week honors. The more spectacular numbers were from Jason Varitek, who hit .385/.429/1.077/1.506 with three home runs. Dustin Pedroia hit .409/.500/.545/1.045. Varitek's numbers are, as already noted, more spectacular, but OBP is more valuable than SLG, and the key factor in the decision to split was Pedroia's performance covered 26 plate appearances and all six games that the team played, while Varitek only had 14 plate appearances in four games.


  • Red Sox Pitcher of the Week: Josh Beckett. They ended up losing the game Saturday night, but not because of Beckett, who allowed only one run, none earned, in eight excellent innings of work.





AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 5/25/2009
ProjectedActual

R/G(rank)RA/G(rank)Pythagorean(rank)WLWLLuck

Toronto5.19(7)4.34(2)0.581(1)272027200

Detroit5.29(6)4.43(3)0.58(2)241824180

Tampa Bay5.72(1)4.83(8)0.577(3)27192323-4

Texas5.4(4)4.65(5)0.567(4)241926172

Boston5.45(3)4.73(6)0.565(5)251926181

Minnesota5.29(5)5.09(11)0.518(6)23222223-1

Los Angeles4.91(9)4.77(7)0.513(7)222123201

Kansas City4.32(12)4.23(1)0.51(8)222222220

New York5.52(2)5.5(12)0.502(9)222225193

Cleveland5.18(8)5.6(13)0.464(10)21241728-4

Oakland4.46(11)5.07(10)0.442(11)18231625-2

Seattle3.78(14)4.56(4)0.415(12)192621242

Baltimore4.82(10)5.98(14)0.403(13)182618260

Chicago3.88(13)4.86(9)0.399(14)172619242




Top 5 projections (using current winning %)
Texas9864

Boston9666

Toronto9369

Detroit9369

New York9270




Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)
Toronto9468

Detroit9468

Texas9468

Boston9369

Tampa Bay9072




Standings for the week
ProjectedActual

R/G(rank)RA/G(rank)Pythagorean(rank)WLWLLuck

Minnesota7.86(1)4.14(5)0.763(1)5243-1

Tampa Bay7.86(1)4.29(7)0.752(2)5243-1

Boston5.33(4)3(2)0.741(3)42420

New York6.43(3)4.29(7)0.677(4)52520

Los Angeles5.14(5)3.57(4)0.661(5)52520

Detroit3.5(10)2.67(1)0.622(6)42420

Cleveland5(6)4.5(9)0.548(7)33330

Texas3.83(8)3.5(3)0.542(8)33330

Oakland4.86(7)5.43(13)0.449(9)34340

Chicago3.57(9)4.71(11)0.376(10)34431

Seattle2.86(12)4.14(5)0.336(11)25341

Kansas City2.83(13)5.17(12)0.25(12)15241

Baltimore3.33(11)6.33(14)0.236(13)15241

Toronto1.86(14)4.57(10)0.161(14)16160

Labels: , ,

| Links to this post

Friday, May 22, 2009

Small beginning - does it fade away or grow?

This AP Report seems like the sort of thing that's buried in the paper on day 1, but has the potential to metastasize as a story.
A pit bull owned by Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison has reportedly attacked the player's young son.

A spokesman for the Super Bowl champions told The Associated Press this is a personal matter for Harrison and the club won't comment further.

An unidentified neighbor told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette one of the star player's three dogs got loose Thursday and attacked the boy, James III. His age was not immediately available.

The newspaper and WTAE-TV say the boy was taken to UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. The hospital declined comment. The newspaper says a second person was hurt.

Labels: , ,

| Links to this post

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Good cartoon

Obvious, but funny and well-executed cartoon from Jerry Holbert of the Boston Herald today...

Labels: , ,

| Links to this post

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Overtaken by events

So, I was working on a piece about how Steve Buckley in the Boston Herald, Dan Shaugnessy in the Boston Globe and Jim Donaldson in the Providence Journal all wrote pieces in which they opined that David Ortiz needed to be moved down in the Red Sox lineup. I was going to point out that this was exactly the wrong time to be making that suggestion, as he's just had three days off to try to get his head in order, and only played one game since that time. I thought about mentioning that if Ortiz' performance level is actually what it has been so far, he's of no use whatsoever to the team and shouldn't even be hitting ninth. And I thought I'd touch on the fact that if he's worried about protection with Kevin Youkilis hitting behind him, having Varitek and/or Lugo behind was unlikely to aid him in overcoming whatever mental issues he might have.

But I didn't get it done in time. And then, while I was out fetching the son from fencing, Ortiz went deep in the 5th. He followed that up with a double to center in his next at-bat. So I can write those things, but they seem pretty stale at this point. Claims of profound analysis and prescience would have required my posting it before the game started. Ah well...



It is pretty clear what happened, though. The media all chattered about it last night in the press box, and then all came out with their pieces this morning before he could get a chance to render them unpublishable by going deep. And one wonders, yet again, why the mainstream papers are all going out of business...

Labels: ,

| Links to this post

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The return of Clueless Joe

Several years ago, some Yankee fans gave their manager a nickname which is perfect for the current vice-president - "Clueless Joe." Over in the Corner, Mark Hemingway takes a look at Clueless Joe's commencement address at Wake Forest:
Even with speechwriters, the Great Commuter is still a verbal train wreck:

I believe so strongly, as you may recall when I was here in October, not in you particularly but your generation, that I don’t have a single doubt in my mind we’re on the cusp not only of a new century but a new day for this country and the world.


Way to win the crowd over. Don't believe "in you particularly"? I'm sure the feeling was mutual, Mr. Vice President.

There’s not a single issue on this President’s plate that will not yield a change — just merely by ignoring it, it will change.


Change has come to America — even when it hasn't! You know, it's true what they say, the more things don't change, the more they change. Or something.

Folks, we’re either going to fundamentally change the course of history, or fail the generations that come after us, because change will occur. Non-action is action, unlike most generations.

Clueless Joe Biden - the gift that keeps on giving...

Labels:

| Links to this post

Monday, May 18, 2009

Dionne on Obama's Notre Dame address

E. J. Dionne is what he is - a doctrinaire liberal whose commentary appeals to other doctrinaire liberals by praising those that are doctrinaire liberals and criticizing those that aren't. In other words, he's a standard-issue, central-casting mainstream columnists for the mainstream media. He demonstrates competence at pounding out those tedious and stultifying bits of prose which festoon the editorial pages of the liberal-left "mainstream" newspapers like the Washington Post and the New York Times. And I never seek him out, but see him occasionally and virtually never agree with him. That said, his piece today,
Conciliatory Fighting Words, is either profoundly ignorant or staggeringly dishonest.

It should go without saying that Dionne is a fan and supporter of President Obama. Anything this President says or does is likely to get praise, and any criticisms of him from his right (and most of the country is to his right) are going to be dismissed as dishonest or cruel or racist or wrong.
Facing down protesters who didn't want him at Notre Dame, President Obama fought back not with harsh words but with the most devastating weapons in his political arsenal: a call for "open hearts," "open minds," "fair-minded words" and a search for "common ground."

Woo-hoo. Standard rhetorical jibber-jabber. Gosh, I didn't realize he called for "open hearts," "open minds," and "common ground." I must have been wrong about him!

Give me a break. The President can call for whatever he wants, but words have meanings. In this case, what those words all mean is, "I'm going to do it my way, and you should agree with me."

There were many messages sent from South Bend. Obama's opponents seek to reignite the culture wars. He doesn't.

If you've ever wondered how much ignorance and/or dishonesty could be crammed in to ten words, that last bit should provide an answer. It is roughly akin to a commentator looking at the D-Day invasion and saying, "Hitler's opponents seek to re-ignite the war in Europe. He doesn't."

In words that even a doctrinaire liberal like E. J. Dionne should be able to understand:
  1. In order for there to be a "war," culture or otherwise, there must be (at least) two different sides.

  2. The (at least) two different sides must be fighting over some idea, or ground, or philosophy.

  3. The (at least) two different sides must want different results, different actions or ownerships or laws.

  4. The "culture warriors" with regards to abortion range from those who want abortion illegal in all situations to those who support not only abortion, but government funding of it.

  5. The vast majority of Americans are somewhere between those two extremes.

  6. The President, in his days in the Illinois legislature, voted against a law that would have required that children born alive during the performance of an abortion be protected as a live baby.

  7. President Obama is as far from, if not further from, the political center on this issue as any previous President of the United States.

  8. In his first weeks in office, the President issued an executive order allowing foreign organizations which provide abortions to receive funding from US taxpayers.

  9. In his first weeks in office, the President issued an executive order allowing federal funds to be used for the purpose of scientific and medical experiments which destroy human embryos.

  10. Those actions, taken by President Barack Obama, "re-ignite[d] the culture wars."

Now Dionne could weasel out by saying that "he doesn't" refers to "seek[ing] to reignite the culture wars," and that's conceivably (though certainly not self-evidently) true. He doesn't "seek to re-ignite," merely to win. But, of course, one should extend the same courtesy to the opponents of those policies, who also don't "seek to re-ignite," merely to win. If one grants that Obama is acting the way he acts on principle, then one should grant that those on the other side are also acting on principle. The pro-life opposition that Dionne so casually slanders here isn't interested in fighting "culture wars" - it believes that abortion is murder, and wants to protect unborn children.
They would reduce religious faith to a narrow set of issues.

Whatever the hell this statement means is apparently self-evident to Dionne. It is not to me. As I read it, he seems to be saying that "they" (Obama's opponents) "would reduce religious faith" (have an idea of the ideals of religion and religious faith) "to a narrow set of issues" (in which there are some issues which are actually important). How unreasonable of them!
He refused to join them. They often see theological arguments as leading to certainty. He opted for humility.

Mr. Dionne, this President does not ever opt for humility1. He does, on occasion, claim for himself a humility which he does not feel, because he intellectually understands that it would be appropriate. But one doesn't ever demonstrate humility by claiming it as a virtue. And he doesn't need "theological arguments...leading to certainty" because he's so certain of his own moral superiority.
He did all this without skirting the abortion question and without flinching from the "controversy surrounding my visit here."

Just because he mentioned the "controversy surrounding [his] visit here," doesn't mean that he addressed the "controversy surrounding [his] visit here." And he absolutely skirted the abortion question. When a politician with Barack Obama's history and policy positions says "let us work together to reduce the number of women seeking abortions, let's reduce unintended pregnancies. Let's make adoption more available. Let's provide care and support for women who do carry their children to term. Let's honor the conscience of those who disagree with abortion, and draft a sensible conscience clause, and make sure that all of our health care policies are grounded not only in sound science, but also in clear ethics, as well as respect for the equality of women." well, he's skirting the issue. He's fudging. He hasn't the slightest interesting in "reduc[ing] the number of women seeking abortion" because he doesn't have any problem with abortion.
The thunderous and repeated applause that greeted Obama and the Rev. John I. Jenkins, Notre Dame's president who took enormous grief for asking him to appear, stood as a rebuke to those who said the president should not have been invited.

That may be true. But people are as frequently and as passionately rebuked for being correct in a minority position as for being wrong.

By facing their arguments head-on

Which he didn't.
and by demonstrating his attentiveness to Catholic concerns,

Lip service and attentiveness are not the same thing.
Obama strengthened moderate and liberal forces inside the church itself.

That's a conjecture, not a fact. It could just as easily end up strengthening conservative and traditional forces inside the church itself. The address was given yesterday. To claim to know today what the long term effects of the invitation and the acceptance are is to claim nonsense. (Well within E.J.'s capabilities...)
He also struck a forceful blow against those who would keep the nation mired in culture-war politics without end.

Notice that Dionne loved the speech but can't even follow it in paying lip service to the intentions of those with whom he disagrees. Those pro-life people aren't sincere in their beliefs, they just want to "keep the nation mired in culture-war politics without end."
Obama's opponents on the Catholic right placed a large bet on his Notre Dame visit. And they lost.

What were the terms of this bet? Who placed it? How? What did they lose? What would have had to happen for them to win? The answers to any of these questions are not to be found within. Sadly, the questions themselves aren't found within, either, because Dionne is so convinced of his rightness that it apparently hasn't occurred to him that there's any question whatsoever about what took place.

Altogether, just a vile little piece of drivel.



1 - If you think I'm wrong, or overstating, go ahead and read the address. Do you find any evidence of genuine humility there? I don't. Consider this passage:
A few days after I won the Democratic nomination, I received an e-mail from a doctor who told me that while he voted for me in the Illinois primary, he had a serious concern that might prevent him from voting for me in the general election. He described himself as a Christian who was strongly pro-life -- but that was not what was preventing him potentially from voting for me.

What bothered the doctor was an entry that my campaign staff had posted on my website -- an entry that said I would fight “right-wing ideologues who want to take away a woman’s right to choose.”

The doctor said he had assumed I was a reasonable person, he supported my policy initiatives to help the poor and to lift up our educational system, but that if I truly believed that every pro-life individual was simply an ideologue who wanted to inflict suffering on women, then I was not very reasonable. He wrote, “I do not ask at this point that you oppose abortion, only that you speak about this issue in fair-minded words.” Fair-minded words.

After I read the doctor’s letter, I wrote back to him and I thanked him. And I didn’t change my underlying position, but I did tell my staff to change the words on my website.

And I said a prayer that night that I might extend the same presumption of good faith to others that the doctor had extended to me.

"I didn't change my underlying position, but I did tell my staff to change the words on my website." In other words, "I was right, but it might cost me votes." And he's clearly not confessing here - he's boasting. "Let me demonstrate my openness by changing the language on my website in such a way as to fool some people into thinking I'm not what I have, in the past, been open about being." He considers it a virtue that he still "would fight 'right-wing idealogues'" ("I didn't change my underlying position") but he'll no longer call them "right-wing idealogues" on his website. What a guy...

Labels: , , , ,

| Links to this post

Monday Pythagorean, 5/18/2009

Ugh. 2-4, and the lead [over the Yankees and Rays] shrinks. And the Bruins and Celtics seasons end in disappointing fashion, as the Boston sports teams have a lousy week all the way around.

  • By any standard, that was a frustrating week. The Sox lost two walkoff games, one in the 12th and one in the 9th. They lost two games in which they led 4-0. They lost two games when their defense failed to make easily makeable plays. They lost a game in which the last out was a potential turn-a-deficit-into-a-lead home run which was caught at the wall. They lost a game in which they only allowed three runs. The only reason that they didn't lose a game in which they scored a lot of runs was because, well, they didn't have a game in which they scored a lot of runs. The offense was weak, the pitching was so-so, and the results were unpleasant.


  • Oh, and they left runners scattered all over God's creation. They lost two different one-run games in Seattle in which they left nine runners on base. In Sunday's game, they had the bases loaded with no outs and didn't score. They lost a one-run game in 12 innings in which they left 17 runners on base.


  • I could be wrong, but I continue to disbelieve in the Toronto Blue Jays. At some point, they're going to have to play Boston and New York and Tampa, and I don't think that they represent a serious threat to win the division or the Wild Card. So, for the time being, I am going to continue to write as if they weren't. Obviously, if they end up winning 100 games, then I will have been wrong, and the competition I'm writing about is just for the Wild Card, not the division and the Wild Card.


  • That said, it's 6 weeks into the season, teams will be passing the quarter pole this week, and the Red Sox have had literally nothing go wrong for them, enabling them to build a little lead over the Yanks and Rays. Well, almost nothing. A couple of little things like
    • Their number one starter has a 5.85 ERA

    • Their number two starter has a 6.51 ERA

    • Their number three starter has only made two starts

    • Their leadoff hitter has a .331 OBP

    • Their number three hitter, DH, and superstar has hit .208/.318/.300/.618 with 0 home runs

    • Their cleanup hitter and MVP candidate has spent a couple of weeks on the DL

    • They've played most of the season with their third string shortstop

    Oh, and they've already traveled to the West Coast. Twice. And they've played four more games on the road than at home.

    So it's easily understandable how they'd be ahead of those other teams...


  • This seems an appropriate time to mention that I hate inter-league play.


  • Red Sox Player of the Week: J.D. Drew hit .350/.458/.700/1.158 for the week, with two of the team's six home runs.


  • Red Sox Pitcher of the Week: The bullpen continues to shine, but I don't how one would differentiate between Okajima, Bard, Papelbon, Saito and Ramirez. Beckett threw 7 innings of two run ball with 5 Ks, which was good to see, in their Friday night win, so we'll go with Josh Beckett.





AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 5/18/2009
ProjectedActual

R/G(rank)RA/G(rank)Pythagorean(rank)WLWLLuck

Toronto5.78(1)4.3(2)0.632(1)251526141

Detroit5.58(3)4.72(4)0.576(2)21152016-1

Texas5.65(2)4.84(5)0.57(3)211623142

Kansas City4.55(11)4.08(1)0.55(4)21172018-1

Boston5.47(4)5(8)0.541(5)211722161

Tampa Bay5.33(6)4.92(7)0.537(6)21181920-2

Los Angeles4.86(9)5(8)0.487(7)181818180

New York5.35(5)5.73(12)0.469(8)172020173

Minnesota4.82(10)5.26(11)0.459(9)172118201

Cleveland5.21(7)5.77(13)0.453(10)18211425-4

Oakland4.38(12)5(8)0.44(11)15191321-2

Baltimore5.05(8)5.92(14)0.428(12)162216220

Seattle3.95(13)4.63(3)0.427(13)162218202

Chicago3.94(14)4.89(6)0.403(14)152115210




Top 5 projections (using current winning %)
Toronto10557

Texas10161

Boston9468

Detroit9072

New York8874




Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)
Toronto10359

Texas9468

Detroit9369

Boston8973

Kansas City8874




Standings for the week
ProjectedActual

R/G(rank)RA/G(rank)Pythagorean(rank)WLWLLuck

Texas5.67(5)3.17(2)0.744(1)42602

Toronto4.5(8)3(1)0.677(2)42420

Detroit8.5(1)5.83(9)0.666(3)4233-1

New York4.33(11)3.17(2)0.64(4)42511

Minnesota6(3)5.17(7)0.568(5)33330

Cleveland6(3)5.29(8)0.558(6)4334-1

Tampa Bay6.5(2)6.33(13)0.512(7)33421

Los Angeles4.5(8)5(6)0.452(8)3324-1

Baltimore5(7)5.83(9)0.43(9)33330

Boston3.83(12)4.5(4)0.427(10)3324-1

Kansas City4.5(8)6(12)0.371(11)24240

Oakland5.6(6)7.8(14)0.353(12)23230

Seattle3.17(13)4.5(4)0.345(13)24240

Chicago2.83(14)5.83(9)0.211(14)15150

Labels: , ,

| Links to this post

How does this boob keep his security clearance?

Is there any evidence - ANY evidence - anywhere that Joe Biden has an IQ that is room temperature or above?
Vice President Joe Biden, well-known for his verbal gaffes, may have finally outdone himself, divulging potentially classified information meant to save the life of a sitting vice president.

According to a report, while recently attending the Gridiron Club dinner in Washington, an annual event where powerful politicians and media elite get a chance to cozy up to one another, Biden told his dinnermates about the existence of a secret bunker under the old U.S. Naval Observatory, which is now the home of the vice president.

The presence of a Joe Biden in the halls of power is evidence of something seriously wrong in our body politic...

| Links to this post

"Will soon learned all about being audited..."

Keeping up with the missteps, mistakes, abuses and offenses of the Obama administration is a full time job. I missed this one last week.
At his Arizona State University commencement speech last Wednesday, Mr. Obama noted that ASU had refused to grant him an honorary degree, citing his lack of experience, and the controversy this had caused. He then demonstrated ASU's point by remarking, "I really thought this was much ado about nothing, but I do think we all learned an important lesson. I learned never again to pick another team over the Sun Devils in my NCAA brackets. . . . President [Michael] Crowe and the Board of Regents will soon learn all about being audited by the IRS."

Ha ha ha. Oh, that's so funny, Mr. President. What a card.

It would perhaps be a little bit funnier and less concerning had this President not already demonstrated an attitude, and, indeed, the behaviors, which indicate a willingness to abuse the power of his office. Maybe in some other administration, this would come across as more of a joke and less of a veiled threat. It would surely be an inappropriate joke, but it would be a joke. Unlike this.

The TaxProf note the IRS Regulations which state that "the Commissioner of Internal Revenue shall terminate the employment of any employee of the Internal Revenue Service if there is a final administrative or judicial determination that such employee … threaten[ed] to audit a taxpayer for the purpose of extracting personal gain or benefit.” Certainly Obama isn't covered by that regulation, but if an IRS employee can't do it, should the President, who is, after all, that employee's boss, be doing it?

Obviously not.

Labels: , , ,

| Links to this post

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The line of the week



A guy crying about a chicken and a baby? I thought this was a comedy show.
- Milton Green (Alan Alda) on the 30 Rock season finale, "Kidney Now!"

Labels: ,

| Links to this post

The level playing field, yet again

Time for another little thought experiment. Consider the situation in which a beauty pageant contestant, say Miss Florida, is asked about a political issue and gives an answer that many on the right would disagree with. Let's say that, shortly thereafter, Karl Rove had been asked about the name for President Bush's new dog, and said that "'Miss Florida' was one of the finalists." Can we picture the media firestorm that would have greeted that remark? Would the media have asked about anything else until Rove either left office or, at the very least, produced an abject apology?

Well, that's essentially what Obama advisor David Axelrod did:
When Mr. Axelrod was asked how involved he was in the selection of Bo [Obama's new dog], he jokingly answered that he “only got called in for the final three.” But as Mr. Axelrod was trying to set the record straight – he actually was not consulted – Mr. Sagal asked about the two runner-ups. “One was Miss California,” Mr. Axelrod cracked to the audience’s laughter.

The response from the mainstream press? Crickets...

Labels: , , ,

| Links to this post

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Intellectual incoherence

I spent a lot of time on the road today, flipping through some stations that I don't normally listen to. And I listened in mute wonder to some talk show, which I can't identify, as a host, who I've never heard before, gave some caller, whose name I didn't get, five minutes to insist that he, the caller, was absolutely pro-choice, but because he, again, the caller, is for zero population growth, he believes that the government should limit everyone to two children, one of each gender...

| Links to this post

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Idle thought

In what year will the first textbook be published which consigns "carbon footprint" to the same historical dustbin as "tulip mania?"

Labels:

| Links to this post

Better to remain silent and be thought a fool...

Worst. Defense. Ever.
Common sense…our family has a history of heart conditions. My brother had a heart attack in his late 40’s, my step-dad died of a heart attack. I mean it would be suicidal for me to think about even taking any of these dangerous drugs.
- Roger Clemens on Mike & Mike, Tuesday, 5/12/09

Roger's never been mistaken for a rocket scientist, but this, citing his step-father's heart attack as an example of family history of heart problems to try to convince people that he'd never use steroids, is special...

Labels: , ,

| Links to this post

Monday, May 11, 2009

Monday Pythagorean, 5/11/2009

Winning two out of three makes for a successful week and a successful season. 5-2 is even better.

  • OK, I'll admit it - when Tampa scored in the first inning on Sunday night, I thought it was over. Hey, I thought the same thing Friday night when Shields took a 3-0 lead into the sixth. Tampa has seemed to have Boston's number this year, they've done nothing whatsoever against Garza, and had relatively limited success against Shields.


  • It was a good thing that they were able to come back on Friday, because Saturday was a debacle of the highest order. Whether it was bad positioning, poor range, poor reactions or just plain bad luck, it seemed as if every ground ball that Lester through threw1 managed to roll into the outfield. He's had a couple of performances in which he gave up a lot of runs without seeming to get pounded, but his numbers are not good.


  • Neither are Beckett's. When you look at the fact that Becket, Lester and Matsuzaka are, right now, averaging 5.52 innings per start with a combined ERA of 6.83, it is miraculous that the Red Sox are over .500. They've gotten great work from Wakefield, good support from Masterson, excellent work out of the bullpen, and a strong offense. At some point, you'd like to think that Beckett, Lester and Matsuzaka would pitch well, too, because some of the positives are bound to take hits.


  • It's a good inning when the first five batters come to the plate and score, the last one homering. The Red Sox did that in the sixth inning on Friday night, but it wasn't even the best sixth inning of the week. On Thursday night, the first twelve (12) batters in the sixth inning scored, finishing on a Bay home run.


  • A 5-2 week is even better when it includes a 4-1 record against two teams expected to compete for the division title, two teams widely considered to be among the best four or five teams in the game. Boston is now 5-0 against the Yankees, and, while going only 4-6 against Tampa in the early going, they've still managed to build up a 5 1/2 game cushion over the Rays.


  • Anyone who thinks that the Rays are done, who thinks that their current record represents their real level, is wrong. They've played well enough to be a couple of games over .500 instead of a couple of games under. But they haven't gotten the breaks, they've run good pitching performances up against slightly better ones, or good offensive days against slightly better ones. Last year, I said all they way along that they were a little bit lucky, that they had a record better than their performance because they had a great record in one-run games. I also said that one-run games is predominantly determined by "luck." Well, with essentially the same team, they're 3-6 in their first 9 one-run games this year. But they'll be playing for a playoff spot in September.


  • I remain a Blue Jay skeptic, but it's getting harder to do. They've now played well for a significant length of time. I just don't believe that they can continue to play this well for an entire season. And their schedule will get tougher than it's been so far.


  • Red Sox Player of the Week: Jason Bay is the easy choice. Not only does he continue to rake, hitting .379/.438/.897/1.334 on the week with 4 HR, mostly at important times, but he didn't take a 50 game suspension, thus increasing his value to the team.


  • Red Sox Pitcher of the Week: In 4 1/3 innings of high-leverage relief work, Hidecki Okajima allowed only one baserunner (0 hits, 1 BB) while striking out five. Honorable mention to Jonathan Papelbon, who built himself a mess in the 9th inning of the series finale against Tampa, but proceeded to strike out Pena, Upton and Crawford in order to end it.





AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 5/11/2009
ProjectedActual

R/G(rank)RA/G(rank)Pythagorean(rank)WLWLLuck

Toronto6(1)4.53(4)0.626(1)211322121

Kansas City4.56(11)3.72(1)0.592(2)19131814-1

Boston5.78(2)5.09(9)0.558(3)181420122

Detroit5(8)4.5(2)0.548(4)161417131

Tampa Bay5.12(5)4.67(6)0.542(5)18151518-3

Texas5.65(3)5.16(10)0.541(6)171417140

Los Angeles4.93(9)5(8)0.494(7)151516141

Oakland4.17(12)4.52(3)0.464(8)13161118-2

New York5.55(4)6.23(14)0.447(9)141715161

Chicago4.17(13)4.7(7)0.445(10)131714161

Seattle4.09(14)4.66(5)0.441(11)141816162

Minnesota4.59(10)5.28(11)0.437(12)141815171

Cleveland5.03(7)5.88(12)0.43(13)14181121-3

Baltimore5.06(6)5.94(13)0.428(14)14181319-1




Top 5 projections (using current winning %)
Toronto10557

Boston10161

Detroit9270

Kansas City9171

Texas8973




Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)
Toronto10260

Kansas City9567

Boston9270

Detroit8973

Texas8874




Standings for the week
ProjectedActual

R/G(rank)RA/G(rank)Pythagorean(rank)WLWLLuck

Texas5(4)3.14(3)0.7(1)52520

Kansas City3.86(9)2.57(1)0.677(2)5243-1

Toronto6.43(1)4.43(7)0.664(3)5243-1

Detroit3.5(12)2.67(2)0.622(4)42420

Baltimore5(4)4.14(5)0.585(5)43430

Tampa Bay6(3)5.14(10)0.57(6)43430

Los Angeles3.71(10)3.29(4)0.556(7)43612

Minnesota5(4)4.43(7)0.555(8)4334-1

Boston6.29(2)5.57(11)0.555(9)43521

Oakland3.57(11)4.43(7)0.403(10)3425-1

New York4.29(7)5.71(12)0.371(11)3425-1

Cleveland4.29(7)6(13)0.351(12)25250

Chicago2.83(14)4.33(6)0.315(13)24240

Seattle2.86(13)6.86(14)0.168(14)16160



1 - OK, so I typed the wrong homophone. I do know the difference, and at least I spelled the wrong word correctly...

Labels: , , ,

| Links to this post

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Quote of the day

Another wonderful Chesterton...
The free man owns himself. He can damage himself with either eating or drinking; he can ruin himself with gambling. If he does he is certainly a damn fool, and he might possibly be a damned soul; but if he may not, he is not a free man any more than a dog.
- G. K. Chesterton

Labels: ,

| Links to this post

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Quote of the day

Just because I like it, and think it displays wisdom in simplicity...
Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.
- G. K. Chesterton

Labels:

| Links to this post

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Odds and ends...

Odds and ends:
  • From the "you just can't make that up" file: "An expedition team which set sail from Plymouth on a 5,000-mile carbon emission-free trip to Greenland have been rescued by an oil tanker."


  • Andy McCarthy outlines an almost - almost - unbelievable example of hypocrisy from the Obama administration.
    [The Obama Justice Department's] Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) is nearing completion of a 220-page report which will recommend that Attorney General Eric Holder refer former Bush administration lawyers to their state bar disciplinary committees over purported ethical lapses in the legal analysis those lawyers drafted to justify harsh interrogation techniques that critics — including President Obama himself — have labeled “torture.”...Yet, even as the OPR report is being finalized, even after Obama declared himself open to the possibility of criminal prosecution against the Bush officials...the Obama Justice Department is relying on the very same legal analysis in order to urge a federal appeals court to reject torture claims. In fact, as the Obama Justice Department argued to that appeals court a little over a week ago, the torture law analysis in question has already been adopted by another federal appeals court.


  • Yes, I know that liberals can't be hypocrites. There are two reasons. The first is, when you don't have any fixed principles, you cannot be accused of violating them. Secondly, they cannot be criticized because of the moral superiority demonstrated by their stated goals, whether the goals are good or not, whether the means chosen will promote those goals or not.


  • There are a few conservatives in Hollywood. Some of them post at Big Hollywood. And say interesting or provocative things. I think that this bit from Orson Bean does a nice job pointing out perspective that some on the left miss.
    The Los Angeles Times tries hard to present different viewpoints on its Op-Ed page. But last week, they hit a new low with a column by a lawyer named Joseph Margulies, pleading for mercy on behalf of one of the three terrorists America has water-boarded since 9/11: Abu Zubaydah..."The enduring torment is the taunting reminder that darkness encroaches. Already he cannot picture his mother’s face or recall his father’s name. Gradually his past, like his future, eludes him.”

    ...

    When I had calmed down a bit after reading this, I typed out a letter to The Times which they printed. Here’s what the letter said:

    “She looks into his eyes. Hers are filled with terror. The heat is unbearable. Her skin is beginning to blister. He reaches out and takes her hand. His hand has a deep gash in it from the shattered glass of the window he has helped to smash. ‘Hold on tight to me,’ he whispers. ‘Keep your eyes closed. Don’t look down.’ Together, they step through the jagged opening of a high floor of the World Trade Center. On the sidewalk below, people shriek in horror.

    I don’t know the young woman’s name, but I do know that, like Abu Zabadah, she can’t picture her mother’s face either.”


  • While it's getting some traction, I'm not sure that there's been adequate coverage of what's happening with Chrysler. I don't detect any of the outrage that people should be feeling as the Obama adminstration violates pretty much every principle of fairness and law. Michael Barone addressed a lot of it in a good piece.
    ...the Obama deal ... would give the bondholders about 33 cents on the dollar for their secured debts while giving the United Auto Workers retirees about 50 cents on the dollar for their unsecured debts.

    This of course is a violation of one of the basic principles of bankruptcy law, which is that secured creditors — those who lended money only on the contractual promise that if the debt was unpaid they’d get specific property back — get paid off in full before unsecured creditors get anything.

    ...

    Think carefully about what’s happening here. The White House, presumably car czar Steven Rattner and deputy Ron Bloom, is seeking to transfer the property of one group of people to another group that is politically favored. In the process, it is setting aside basic property rights in favor of rewarding the United Auto Workers for the support the union has given the Democratic Party.

    Read the whole thing.

Labels: , , ,

| Links to this post

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Top-secret publicity

Remember the Air Force One New York fly-by for the purpose of updating "publicity photos?" Apparently, they are to be used for some kind of double-secret "publicity," as the government is refusing to release them. Taranto's brilliant take: "Apparently the Obama administration's policy is to release photos only when doing so might pose a danger to national security."

(H/T: Instapundit)

Labels: , ,

| Links to this post

The level playing field, yet again

Mary Katherine Ham notes another verbal blunder by the orator-in-chief. And once again, we are faced with a question in the form of "how would the media have played it if George W. Bush had wished the Mexican Ambassador a happy 'fifth of fourth'? Twice."
Obama joked that it was "Cinco de Cuatro," botching a play on the Spanish word for "four" when he meant to say "Cuatro de Mayo," or the Fourth of May. He tried again, but he still did not get it right.

Again, this doesn't necessarily reflect all that badly on President Obama - even smart people1 can make verbal mistakes, and will, if speaking often enough. But we know that, had Bush said that, it would be the May 4th entry on the next "Bushisms" calendar, and the occasion for much derision on the part of the elite media, and when Obama says it, it gently fades into the mists of time. Because the mainstream media in this country, contrary to their self-image and protestations, is not about reporting news. The mainstream media in this country is about storylines, storylines which promote the people and ideas of which they approve, and tear down the people and ideas of which they disapprove. And the evidence in support of that is overwhelming and undeniable2.



1 - I don't necessarily think that President Obama's anything special in the intellect department, but this doesn't prove otherwise.

2 - OK, it's deniable, but not convincingly. The denials are as "unbiased" as the news itself...

Labels: , , ,

| Links to this post

Trekkies Bash New Star Trek Film As 'Fun, Watchable'

As Homer Simpson would say, "it's funny 'cause it's true..."


Trekkies Bash New Star Trek Film As 'Fun, Watchable'

Labels: , ,

| Links to this post

Monday, May 04, 2009

Monday Pythagorean, 5/4/2009

All good things come to an end, including 11-game winnings streaks.


  • Both the hitting (11th in the AL) and the pitching (14th in the AL) were bad this week. But at least they tended to be bad at the same time, and blowouts with close wins leads to better records with the same run distributions. And they did take 2 of 3 in the first road series. The big problem is that, so far, they've not been able to handle Tampa Bay. They can't hit Garza, and Longoria and Pena play like Ruth and Gehrig against Boston.


  • At some point, someone different will carry the team for a while. Thus far, it's been Youkilis, helped out by Bay, Lowell and Drew, with some help from Varitek. And not much more.


  • Ortiz is about to come out of it, though. He had a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad week, with just four hits, three singles and a double. But he's starting to look like himself again - he took two walks on Saturday night that were the best plate appearances he's had this season. If he can maintain the approach, he'll be productive soon.


  • Obviously, that was a very painful way to end a winning streak, throwing the ball all over the place, dropping it, and losing a game in which you'd had a couple of different four run leads. But there are going to be a couple of those every year, and you can't spend too much time worrying about it. Likewise, some nights, like Thursday, you go up against someone who has your number with a starter that doesn't have it, and you lose big. Again, not something you spend a lot of time worrying about.


  • Seems a shame, though, to have pumped some life back in to Tampa. The Red Sox seem to be a good luck talisman for them right now. They're 5-2 against Boston, 6-13 against everyone else.


  • Their first visit to new Yankee Stadium this week.


  • Brad Penny had a very good start on Sunday, following up a disaster start on Tuesday. It is, I think, important to note that the disaster start on Tuesday was seriously abetted by the defense. There were double play balls in both the second and third innings on which they failed to retire anyone, and he could have been out of the third with a 7-1 lead instead of out of the game in the third tied at 7. We don't know, yet, how the Brad Penny experiment will end up working out, but there have been as many positive signs as negative thus far, or nearly so.


  • I need to see two more really bad starts from Josh Beckett before I get worked up about him. So far, I'm in the "I'd really like him to perform better" mode, not in the "what the heck is wrong with Beckett" mode.


  • Red Sox Player of the Week: Some week, someone else will be their best hitter. So far, it's been Youkilis every week, as he piled another 22 plate appearances of .300/.417/.650/1.067 on to his season line.


  • Red Sox Pitcher of the Week: As you might guess from that 6.43 runs allowed/game number, there weren't a lot of strong candidates here. Okajima and Ramirez each threw four scoreless innings in relief, but the prize goes to Tim Wakefield. The start on Monday was fantastic, the one on Saturday kind of shaky but adequate, and he gave them two of their best three starts on the week, and he started two of the three games that they won.





AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 5/4/2009
ProjectedActual

R/G(rank)RA/G(rank)Pythagorean(rank)WLWLLuck

Toronto5.89(2)4.56(5)0.615(1)17101891

Kansas City4.76(10)4.04(1)0.574(2)141114110

Boston5.64(4)4.96(8)0.559(3)141115101

Seattle4.44(13)4.04(1)0.543(4)141115101

Detroit5.38(5)4.96(7)0.537(5)131113110

Tampa Bay4.88(9)4.54(3)0.534(6)14121115-3

Texas5.83(3)5.75(11)0.507(7)121212120

Los Angeles5.3(6)5.52(10)0.482(8)11121013-1

Oakland4.36(14)4.55(4)0.481(9)1111913-2

Chicago4.5(11)4.79(6)0.471(10)111312121

New York5.92(1)6.38(13)0.466(11)111313112

Cleveland5.24(7)5.84(12)0.451(12)1114916-2

Minnesota4.48(12)5.52(9)0.406(13)101512132

Baltimore5.08(8)6.44(14)0.393(14)1015916-1




Top 5 projections (using current winning %)
Toronto10854

Boston9765

Seattle9765

Kansas City9171

Detroit8874




Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)
Toronto10161

Kansas City9369

Boston9270

Seattle8973

Detroit8775




Standings for the week
ProjectedActual

R/G(rank)RA/G(rank)Pythagorean(rank)WLWLLuck

Tampa Bay6.14(4)4(2)0.687(1)5243-1

New York7(1)5.17(6)0.635(2)42420

Kansas City7(1)5.29(7)0.626(3)43521

Texas5(7)3.83(1)0.619(4)42420

Seattle5.17(6)4.33(3)0.58(5)33330

Los Angeles6.2(3)5.6(10)0.546(6)32320

Oakland5(7)5(4)0.5(7)3223-1

Toronto5(7)5.43(8)0.462(8)34431

Minnesota5.33(5)5.83(12)0.459(9)33330

Cleveland4.83(10)5.67(11)0.428(10)3324-1

Detroit4.5(12)5.83(12)0.383(11)24331

Boston4.57(11)6.43(14)0.349(12)25341

Baltimore3.67(13)5.5(9)0.323(13)2406-2

Chicago3.33(14)5(4)0.323(14)24331

Labels: , ,

| Links to this post

Name that Party!

Anyone who can remember whether the wildly unpopular Mayor of New Orleans is a Republican or a Democrat should notify the New York Times, who couldn't find that information for their profile of Mayor Nagin.


Seems like that's relevant to something I was saying just the other day...

Labels: ,

| Links to this post

Sunday, May 03, 2009

"Remorseless descent"

From a typically brilliant Steyn comes this profoundly disturbing, depressing and accurate observation.
And yet, in the greater scheme of things, the Thatcher interlude seems just that: a temporary respite from a remorseless descent into the abyss. In its boundless ambition, the Left understands that the character of a people can be transformed: British, Canadian and European elections are now about which party can deliver "better services," as if the nation is a hotel, and the government could use some spritelier bellhops. Socialized health care in particular changes the nature of the relationship between citizen and state into something closer to junkie and pusher.

Labels: ,

| Links to this post

Friday, May 01, 2009

Red Sox: April Audit

A one-month snapshot of the Boston Red Sox and the race in the AL East. (Thanks, as always, to David Pinto's invaluable Day by Day Database. If you're a baseball fan and you're not reading Baseball Musings every day, well, you should be...)

Records:

Boston finishes the month of April at 14-8, in first place in the AL East, percentage points ahead of the 15-9 Toronto Blue Jays.



AL East - April 2009
WLGB%R/GRA/GPythagoreanLuck

Boston148 - .6365.7274.864.5741

Toronto159 - .6255.9174.667.6070

New York12102.5455.8186.182.4722

Baltimore9135.4095.2736.545.4020

Tampa Bay9145.5.3914.7834.478.530-3


  • The Red Sox started the month at 2-6, and finished it 1-2. In between, of course, they won 11 straight. They've compiled the best record in the division without necessarily playing the best ball, but I began the season thinking them the best team in the East, and nothing that's happened so far has altered that opinion.


  • The Blue Jays have played very well. On a strict runs scored/runs allowed basis, they've been the best team in the AL so far. I don't believe that they can maintain either the run prevention or the run scoring at current levels, though, and still see them as battling Baltimore for the fourth spot in the division.


  • Tampa was very good last year, but I maintained all season that their record was better than their performance. So far this year, their performance has been better than their record. They've outscored their opponents, and have essentially played like a 12-11 team rather than a 9-14 one. Expect them to finish well ahead of Baltimore and Toronto, and to be in contention for a playoff spot when September arrives.


  • The Yankees are outperforming their run differential, but that's a bit misleading. All it takes is one "disaster" start to skew that differential, particularly with such a small sample size, and they've already had 4, three of them from a pitcher coming back from injury who has now been yanked from the rotation. That's not to say that their pitching has been good, but it's been better than it looks from the runs allowed number. How much it has been, and will continue to be, affected by the new Yankee Stadium remains an open question. But, despite the way they looked in getting swept out of Fenway last weekend, this remains a formidable team, and one which should be battling for a post-season berth all year.


  • Baltimore is showing signs of life, for the first time in a decade, but they aren't ready to play with the big boys in this division. If things break right, they could compete with Toronto for fourth, but it's very difficult to imagine a higher finish than that.



Offense:

This chart contains some standard offensive numbers and a couple of more advanced metrics. The last two columns are Bill James' Runs Created, and Runs Created per 25 outs, an estimate of how many runs per game a lineup would score with nine hitters performing the way that hitter performed. (The fact that it can end up negative is, indeed, an indicators that these are estimates.)



Red Sox Offense - April 2009
PlayerGamesGSABRuns Hits 2B3BHRRBIBBSBCSBAOBASPctOPSRCRC/25

Kevin Youkilis 2121762030805151410.395.505.6971.20323.712.3

Jason Bay 2222711923515192320.324.490.6341.12322.611.5

Mike Lowell 212184122681423300.310.341.571.91213.25.1

Jason Varitek 161660101550410700.250.348.533.88111.46.3

Dustin Pedroia 222289172570171133.281.369.393.76211.33.8

Jacoby Ellsbury 222194122730195102.287.320.351.67110.73.6

J.D. Drew 1917641115613101101.234.347.500.84710.04.7

David Ortiz 222287102071012801.230.290.333.6238.63.0

Nick Green 1815517145017101.275.351.431.7827.65.0

Jonathan Van Every 515120012200.400.5711.0001.5712.420.2

Jeff Bailey 4310320013200.200.333.500.8331.85.5

Julio Lugo 326120001200.333.500.333.8331.38.3

Rocco Baldelli 5413230001100.231.286.231.516.92.1

George Kottaras 7617121001300.118.238.176.415.4.6

Gil Velazquez 502000000000.000.000.000.000-.2-2.5

Chris Carter 405000001000.000.000.000.000-.5-2.1

Jed Lowrie 5518010000200.056.150.056.206-.6-1.0


Team Totals2211987521262075542612195168.275.364.463.827123.65.3



The Red Sox are currently 4th in the AL in offense, averaging 5.73 runs/game.

  • The Red Sox offense is up from last year. They're hitting, as a team, .275/.364/.463/.827 vs. the .280/.358/.447/.805 that they hit last year. They're on a pace to score 927 runs vs. the 845 that they hit last year. Offensive levels in the AL in general appear to be up at this point, but it's impossible to say for sure what the season-long run scoring environment will be. I had the Red Sox at 853 runs on the season, and I'm now thinking that 875 or 880 may be the right number. I don't think that they're going to score 927, because I expect Youkilis, Bay and Varitek to drop more than Ortiz, Pedroia and Ellsbury pick up.


  • Kevin Youkilis had a monster month.


  • The Ortiz numbers are chilling. The team is 4th in the AL in runs/game, and its number 3 hitter and DH is hitting .230/.290/.333/.623 with no home runs. The big question is, of course, is this a "slump" or is this a real change in fundamental performance level? Certainly, good hitters can have bad 80 at-bat stretches. But this is an extremely bad stretch, with no strong recent performance to alleviate the concern. I certainly don't think that this represents a real performance level. But it is not inconcievable that the new "real performance level" is mediocre. This is the biggest source of offensive concern, and the biggest room for improvement going forward.


  • Biggest upside surprise: Jason Varitek, who has been very productive thus far. Far more productive than they had any right to reasonably expect. And far more productive than he can be expected to continue.


  • Biggest question answered: "Can Mike Lowell come back from his hip surgery and still hit?" Answer: "Yes."


  • Jacoby Ellsbury might be the most exciting player in the Major Leagues. And the most frustrating. Because it just isn't all that exciting when he gets to first base and turns right, back to the dugout, which is happening far too often for him to actually be productive. If he can get the On-Base Percentage up to about .350, then he probably does enough to be an adequate lead-off hitter. But he's got a ways to go to get there.


  • Jason Bay is not Manny Ramirez, but he's put up a passable imitation thereof for the first month. Not only has he hit the ball well, he's taken a ton of walks. (His career high for walks is 102 - he's currently on a pace to draw nearly 170. Obviously, that's unlikely, but it makes for a very productive month.) And, in the past week, he's hit two monster (in importance) home runs, beating the closer for the Yankees to save a game, and the closer for the Indians to win a game.


  • Did I mention that Kevin Youkilis had a monster month?


  • Offensive hightlights:
    • Dustin Pedroia hitting the second pitch of the season into the Monster Seats.

    • Ellsbury steals home.

    • Bay beats Rivera and Wood in the span of four days.

    • 6 runs scored with two out in the 8th, putting the game away following the 10 inning bullpen effort, to start the winning streak.

    • Coming back from 7-0 to beat the Orioles.

    • Coming back from 6-0 to beat A.J. Burnett and the Yankees.

    • Jonathan Van Every beats the Indians in the 10th with his first ML home run.


Pitching:

The Red Sox finish the month of April 7th in the AL in runs allowed/game, though it was better before last night's 13-0 drubbing at the hands of the Rays.



Red Sox Pitching - April 2009
PlayerGamesGSCGGFW L WPctSvShoIPHRERHRBBKHBPBKWP ERAK9BB9HR9

Justin Masterson22002010010 2/3 10220370001.68755.906252.531250

Tim Wakefield 4420210.6670029 1666012174021.865.283.720

Jon Lester 5500120.3330030 361818510331015.49.931.5

Josh Beckett 5500220.50028 2/3 362423316310107.229.735.020.94

Brad Penny 44002010017 2/3 24211751161018.663.065.62.55

Daisuke Matsuzaka 2200010006 1/3 149935510112.797.117.114.26


Starters22222096.60000122 1/3 13680751657997155.527.284.191.18


Michael Bowden 100000-002 0000020000900

Jonathan Van Every 100100-00 2/3 1000100000013.50

Manny Delcarmen 100001010013 820071010006.924.850

Ramon Ramirez 100012010012 1/3 50004610004.382.920

David H Jones 400100-005 1/3 3111050011.698.4401.69

Jonathan Papelbon 1000800-6010 1/3 82216101001.748.715.230.87

Takashi Saito 800300-208 11442280004.592.252.25

Justin Masterson400100-006 7330170004.510.51.50

Hideki Okajima 12001201009 2/3 86627121005.5911.176.521.86

Javier Lopez 11004020007 2/3 13980832019.393.529.390


Bullpen71002052.7148075 642724636636022.887.564.32.72


Total9322220148.63680197 1/3 20010799229316213174.527.394.241.00


  • The Good - The bullpen has been as advertised. Deep, and filled with pitchers who strike batters out. Ramon Ramirez and Manny Delcarmen combined to throw 25 1/3 April innings without allowing an earned run. Tim Wakefield is on one of his upside runs, and has been far and away their most effective starter.


  • The Bad - The starting pitching has been less than stellar. With an ERA of 5.52 and fewer than 6 innings per start, it's a good thing that the bullpen has been special, because they'd have had a significantly less successful month with an average 'pen.


  • The Ugly - Three-fifths of the rotation, the first, third and fifth starters, have made a total of 11 starts with an ERA of 8.37.


  • Read that last one again. If you'd known before the month started that Beckett, Matsuzaka and Penny would combine for 11 starts and an ERA of 8.37, would you have thought that 14-8 was feasible? No, 8-14 sounds more likely. It really is an almost miraculous month when looked at that way.




Odds and Ends:


  • Twelve games at home (10-2), ten on the road (4-6). They had a huge home-road discrepency last year, and it has continued through the first month of this season. They'll probably win more at home than on the road again, but they certainly won't finish with a difference as big as it looks right now.


  • It's hard to tell, at this point, how the competition has been. Certainly, the teams that were expected to be good (Yankees, Rays, A's, Angels, Indians) have underperformed thus far. How much of that is inherent weakness, how much is just poor timing, and how much is the fact that they've played Boston is impossible to know.


  • They've already finished one of their two trips to the west coast, and the next one's coming up. They'll actually be done in the Pacific time zone on May 17. When the dog days arrive, it'll probably be helpful to have no cross-country flights.


    • Prop bets that might have made you a lot of money a month ago:
    • Home runs in April - David Ortiz vs. Jason varitek

    • Home runs in April - David Ortiz vs. Jacoby Ellsbury

    • Home runs in April - David Ortiz vs. Jonathan Van Every

    • Wakefield April ERA > 6 runs lower than Beckett April ERA

    • Innings pitched in April - Hunter Jones + Michael Bowden vs. Daisuke Matsuzaka


Labels: , , , ,

| Links to this post