Thoughts on the Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics, Politics, Movies, and whatever else happens to cross my mind.
Monday, August 31, 2009| Links to this post
Why we DON'T need...
Apparently, there's a "why we need government-run health care" video making the rounds. I haven't, or at least hadn't, seen it. But now I've seen it fisked. And the result is excellent.
Ah, sweet music to my ears.
Seriously, I wonder if, at some point, the breakdown of the "gatekeeper barrier," that is to say, the mainstream media, won't get enough information like this into the heads of enough people to make a real difference.
Monday Pythagorean, 8/31/2009
You don't need me to tell you that 6-1 is a productive week. The lead in the Wild Card is now up to 3 1/2 over Texas and 5 1/2 over Tampa.
- The odds of the Red Sox catching the Yankees are slim. That's life. As we know, it does not matter. In the age of the Wild Card, the only thing that matters is making the playoffs. The Yankees are a great team and have had an unbelievable month and a half. They met up with the Yankees riding high and the Red Sox struggling, and the result was a sudden shift from a tight division to a significant Yankee lead. But here's the thing - if they meet again in the post-season, the 8-0 Red Sox start vs. New York will be exactly as relevant as the four-game sweep in Yankee Stadium.
- Tampa's loss yesterday, late to the Tigers, made this weeks journey south a lot more comfortable. The Red Sox are going to arrive in Chicago on Friday with at least a 2 1/2 game lead over the Rays, even if they get swept. If they can sweep, they'll effectively eliminate the Rays from, if not contention, at least my concern. More likely, the series finishes 2-1 or 1-2, and they leave Tampa with a lead of 4 1/2 or 6 1/2 over the still scary Rays.
- It's starting to look as if the Rangers might be more of a threat than the Rays. I can't quite get my brain to buy it. The concept of Texas allowing the fewest runs per game in the league is foreign to me.
- So is the concept of the Angels leading the AL in runs.
- Five weeks left. 32 games. 15 home, 17 away. The Rays have 18 home, 15 away remaining. The Rangers have 16 home, 17 away. BP's playoff odds report says that the Red Sox are 77% likely to make the post-season. Looks/sounds about right to me.
- There was substantial panic in Red Sox nation a couple of weeks ago. A lot of that seems to have died out. 'Twould have better had it not started in the first place, but the second-guessing fatalists are always going to be with us, and they've got megaphones in 'EEI and the Globe.
- Over the last 3 weeks, the Red Sox are score 6.5 runs per game, first in the AL.
- I've made this point before, but I'll make it again. There are a lot of people who say, "Alex Gonzalez is here for his glove - it doesn't matter what he does with his bat." That's wrong. Yes, it does matter. When they start the game, Ellsbury, Pedroia, Youkilis, etc. all hit. None of them gets another at-bat until Alex Gonzalez gets one, too. When you've got an automatic out at the bottom of the order, it stops rallies. During the rare weeks of productivity (like this one) you score lots of runs.
- Red Sox Player of the Week - They scored 6 runs per game, so it should come as no surprise that there were a lot of good performances this week. Including the annual short alien possession of Alex Gonzalez. The top performance was J.D. Drew, who hit .364/.500/.864/1.364 with 3 HR.
- Red Sox Pitcher of the Week - The best single performance of the week was Clay Buchholz' domination of the Blue Jays on Saturday night. But he had an awful outing earlier in the week. Obviously, Beckett's struggles continued. Tazawa had a disaster start. Lester's start was good, not great - hopefully he's saving that for Tampa this week. There were a bunch of good bullpen performances, but there are two performances that really stand out. I've had weeks without giving this out - this week I'll give out two. The first is for Tim Wakefield, who returned (albeit temporarily) from the DL and was stellar, allowing only one run in seven innings of work. The second is for the most unexpected performance of hte year thus far, the six-inning short shutout of Toronto by
old Father TimePaul Byrd. I can't believe that anyone saw that one coming.
Sunday, August 30, 2009
Civility's important. But...
Steyn gets it right (as usual)...
We are enjoined not to speak ill of the dead. But, when an entire nation — or, at any rate, its “mainstream” media culture — declines to speak the truth about the dead, we are certainly entitled to speak ill of such false eulogists.
There's a great scene from the first episode of Bochco's Murder One, in which a drunk in a bar makes a comment to Daniel Benzali's Theodore Hoffman. And Hoffman turns to him and says:
"Do you think anyone in this bar believes you've got a head of hair? We all know that's a comb-over. But until you get so obnoxious that you forfeit your right to civil treatment, no one in here points it out...Civility's important. That's why no one in here called you a self-deceiving fool until you opened your drunken mouth."
I was willing to just let the Kennedy stuff go. Until it go so obnoxious that it required comment. You want to talk about how his was a historic run, how he was important in getting a lot of (to my mind noxious) legislation passed, fine. His term was historic, he was a key part of the government for the past 40 years. You want to say that he was good to his kids and his nieces and nephews, well, maybe that's true, too. Maybe it's not his fault that his kids are so screwed up. But don't tell me what a great guy he was when no one was watching, because there's just far too much evidence to the contrary, and as the hagiography drags into the fourth day, someone needs to mention it...
I suppose we should be thankful that it isn't larger...
Curious how big the hard-core left is in this country?
If they could vote to keep or replace the entire Congress, just 25% of voters nationwide would keep the current batch of legislators. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 57% would vote to replace the entire Congress and start all over again. Eighteen percent (18%) are not sure how they would vote.
The figure of 25% for the hard left seems to be pretty consistent. Which is both a) a frighteningly large group of people and b) a good indicator of how badly the Republicans had to screw things politically to give that group both houses of Congress as well as the White House at the same time.
And that 18% probably understates the quantity of truly oblivious...
Saturday, August 29, 2009| Links to this post
Thursday, August 27, 2009
OK. One Kennedy comment
I wasn't going to make any further comment. I really wasn't.
But the front page of today's Boston Globe changed my mind.
We're all flawed. As Paul wrote to the Romans, "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." So I'm not going to talk about the cheating that got him kicked out of school or the girl that he left to die in his car or the alcohol and sexual assaults. No, I just want to talk briefly about his career in the Senate.
He was in the Senate for a long time. He was a tremendously active and effective legislator. And he was an undying supporter of racial preferences, failure to control the borders, amnesty for illegals, expansion of the welfare state, unilateral disarmament, abortion and a free-wheeling, liberal, living interpretation of the United States Constitution. For anyone who believes that the judicial confirmation process is broken, well, there's one man to blame, with his outrageous and false attack on Robert Bork.
So, in response to President Obama's comment about "the extraordinary good that he did," I just want to say the following.
Ted Kennedy did as much damage to the United States, to its economy, its culture and body politic, as it was possible for a man in his position to do. Ted Kennedy did more damage to the United States, to its economy, its culture and body politic, than any other politician in living memory.
And now I've got nothing more to say.
Labels: Ted Kennedy
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Monday, August 24, 2009
Monday Pythagorean, 8/24/2009
4-2, the return of the offense, and with assists from the Twins and Rays, the Red Sox have moved back into a play-off spot with a one-game lead over the Rangers and three over the Rays. From a big-picture point of view, it was a productive week.
- The John Smoltz experiment failed. It's time to concede on the Brad Penny front, too. With Wakefield back, they've got at least five better starters, and Matsuzaka's on the horizon. I guess they're going to leave him in the bullpen for mop-up duty, and if they don't need the roster spot in the next week, they don't need to make one, so there's no real urgency to get rid of him. There is, though, a real urgency not to put him on the mound to start an important game again.
- There was a lot of talk after Tuesday's game about how important Varitek is to Beckett. As the Varitek-lovers attempt to continue to perpetuate the myth that he's vitally important to the pitching staff. As if pitchers cannot succeed with Victor Martinez behind the plate (despite the fact that he's caught the last two AL Cy Young winners.) I'd love to think that last night would disabuse some of that notion, but since I don't think it's a fact-based position, I don't expect much to change.
- They won two games in which the pitching matchup appeared to overwhelmingly favor the opposition. Wednesday night when Clay Buchholz "faced" Roy Halladay (though the two were never actually on the field at the same time) and Saturday when it was Junichi Tazawa "facing" AJ Burnett. In both cases, they got great offensive performances. But they got really good pitching outings from the rookies, too.
- The little sports radio I heard on Wednesday irritated me greatly, as the great thinkers that make up the Boston sports radio decided that Martinez was to blame for Beckett's poor Tuesday performance.
- Offense. It's a good thing. It's too bad that they scored 11 the night the Yankees scored 20 and 4 the night the Yankees scored 8. If they'd swapped those, they'd have taken 2 of 3.
- Varitek caught Beckett Sunday night. He allowed 8 runs in 8 innings, including 5 HR allowed. Under the rules of debate in effect on Wednesday, it was clearly Varitek's fault that Beckett stunk.
- Does ESPN think that the presence of Steve Phillips somehow mitigates the noxious effects of the presence of Joe Morgan? Does the director of game personnel for ESPN not watch the baseball broadcasts? Or is it just someone who hates baseball fans? I was off the grid for the first two games of the series, able to listen to parts of them, but nowhere near a television. The presence of Morgan and Phillips meant that I saw less than three innings of this series.
- If Martinez took the blame for Tuesday, shouldn't Varitek take the blame for Sunday?
- Red Sox Player of the Week - When you average over eight runs per game, with a low of four, there are bound to be some pretty good performances. And there were. Mike Lowell hit .389/.389/.611/1.000, and had six players better. The award goes to David Ortiz, who hit .400/.500/1.000/1.500 with 3 HR, and then sat out the rubber game of the Yankees series so that Jason Varitek could catch Josh Beckett.
- Red Sox Pitcher of the Week - This one is a no-brainer. There were various good performances this week, but Junichi Tazawa shutting out the Yankees for six innings the afternoon after they scored 20 is not only the performance of the week, but one of the most important performances of the year for the Sox pitching staff. Was it perfect? Absolutely not. But six innings, no runs is all that it needed to be to give the team a big lift.
A good question
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Earlier this week...
...there were a lot of people speculating or insisting or proclaiming or theorizing or hypothesizing or certain that Josh Beckett's poor performance in Toronto was a result of Victor Martinez catching him instead of Jason Varitek, and that Varitek needed to keep catching Beckett.
After seeing the 3rd HR in less than four innings extend the Yankee lead out to 5-2, I'm hoping (but not, I confess, much expecting) apologies from those people tomorrow to the rest of us.
UPDATE: Now 4 HR in less than 5 innings, and this is officially worse than Tuesday's performance. It's clearly Martinez' fault...
Speaking truth to power
The left loves to pride itself on "speaking truth to power." They don't care much for it when they are actually in power, though.
If you haven't seen it yet, here's a US Marine vet speaking truth to a Democratic congressman in Washington State. Well worth the watch and listen.
A lot of truth being spoken to someone with not as much power as he'd like to imagine...
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Star Wars design flaws
Author John Scalzi examines some of the design flaws of the Star Wars universe. Warning: don't read while drinking, as that'll likely result in liquid all over your screen and keyboard.
An unshielded exhaust port leading directly to the central reactor? Really? And when you rebuild it, your solution to this problem is four paths into the central core so large that you can literally fly a spaceship through them? Brilliant. Note to the Emperor: Someone on your Death Star design staff is in the pay of Rebel forces. Oh, right, you can't get the memo because someone threw you down a huge exposed shaft in your Death Star throne room.
I still have great affection for Star Wars. But when I say that, I'm talking about the original 1977 movie, not the pretty good sequel and the weak sequel and the horrid prequels and the pestiferous host of bad fiction, philosophy, animation and merchandising that it spawned. That said, the piece is very funny, and right on about how little sense some of the decisions made.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Another glorious example from the "enlightened" health care countries
France is held up by many supporters of health care reform (or I guess they're trying to call it "health insurance reform" now) as a model which works, is cost-effective and efficient. Which is true, I suppose for some definitions of the words "works," "cost-effective," and "efficient." Denis Boyles has a story that would no doubt be dismissed as "anecdotal" by the supporters of government-supplied health care, but demonstrates that the system doesn't work and isn't cost-effective or efficient by my understanding of those terms.
July 2003 had been miserable. On the 28th, Dr. Patrick Pelloux, the president of France’s association of emergency-room doctors, took a look at the long-range forecast, the number of health-care workers who would be off-duty, and the number of doctors and nurses left behind who were restricted by law from working more than 35 hours. He issued a warning saying the number of available hospital beds would be reduced by “25 to 30 percent” — not enough to meet an emergency situation. President Jacques Chirac and the government of Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin, including Health Minister Jean-François Mattei, disregarded the warning — and left town....By August 4, the temperature in parts of the country had reached 40° C (104° F), and more than 300 people — almost all of whom were elderly and alone — had died...by August 7, Paris hospitals were collapsing in chaos under a flood of elderly victims who made their way to a hospital — only to find there were no beds, no staff, and — as throughout energy- and environmentally conscious France — no air conditioning. In some hospital rooms, even those filled with unattended elderly people, temperatures reached 120° F....On August 12, some 2,200 people died. By now, the actual death toll was more than 10,000...It took almost six months before the French government admitted 15,000 of their most vulnerable citizens died in the heat wave. The bold, new plan promised by Chirac? The government would make sure every hospital has one air-conditioned room. And next time...the government promised, the elderly will be told to avoid going to the hospital and instead go to the movies.
health care in France is still assumed to be a government responsibility, even when that responsibility is one the government obviously can’t always meet. The French pay taxes that together amount to nearly 70 percent of their income, and they expect the government to take care of their health — despite what happened to so many of their grandparents. Nevertheless, the service is facing cutbacks...because of its escalating cost
Read the whole thing. Think it can't happen here? Only if Obama and the Democrats can be stopped from taking over the health care system as they clearly want to...
I am as tired of the Brett Favre story as anybody else. Or maybe even more so. But there are a couple of comments that I wanted to make.
- I'm almost as tired of the "he's going to damage his legacy" stories as I am of the "will he come back or won't he" stories. He's a big boy, his "legacy" is pretty well fixed, and if he plays poorly as a 40 year old for a new team, well, it doesn't take away from anything that he's done.
- In a similar fashion, the people who are tired of him coming out of retirement are missing the point. It's his life to live, he loves to play football, and if he decides that he still can and someone wants to pay him, he should come back and try. It's safe to say that five years from now he won't still be playing, and if he can spend another one or two years doing something that a) he loves and b) is remunerative, who is anyone to tell him not to?
- All that said, the story is tedious, and Favre is largely responsible for it. I don't blame him for coming out of retirement - I blame him for announcing his retirement, when everyone knows he won't actually make up his mind until July or August. I don't think he's coming out of retirement for attention, but I'm suspicious that he announces the retirement for that reason.
- In conjunction with that, the media has overplayed every single announcement he's ever made. Obviously he's been a great player. Obviously it's news when he retires or when he signs with a new team. But the non-stop saturation coverage is so far over-the-top that I'm sure even big Favre fans are well and truly sick of it. On SportsCenter this morning, there were four or five different Favre stories in the upcoming story sidebar. Yes, I quickly changed the channel. It's ridiculous.
Will he play well for the Vikings? Don't know. I'm uncertain why anyone who watched the Jets melt down last year would think that he's got another good year left, but that's just me. And I don't follow the Vikings, so I can't say how much of an upgrade he represents over what they've already got in camp.
I've never been a Favre fan, and long been a believer that he's one of the most overrated great players in the history of the game. I've never seen a QB who was so good at keeping both teams in the game at the same time. He'd make a spectacular play and follow it up with a stupid interception. Yes, he's the all time leader in passing yards and touchdowns. He's also the all-time leader, by a wide margin, in interceptions, and four fumbles from the top spot in that category. I'm sure that part of my dislike of him stems from the Packers victory over the Patriots in 1996. And a lot of it is related to the love affair that announcers had with him, and the excuses for every stupid throw. Whatever. There's no denying that he's a Hall-of-Famer.
I'm just sick of the story.
More on the Democrats' health care intentions
Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) was on Joe Scarborough's MSNBC show yesterday, and give him this much - unlike Barack Obama, he's an honest supporter of a big government takeover of the health care system:
Scarborough: Again… I’m astounded by your question. It sounds like you’re suggesting that there’s no need to have a country that’s run on free market principles.
Weiner: Time out. Let’s focus on one thing at a time. This isn’t a commodity, Joe. Health care isn’t a commodity.
Scarborough: You’re saying that health care is different than everything else.
Weiner: Health care is not a commodity.
Scarborough: But you are making the conservatives’ point. You are making the point of the people at the town hall meetings who say this is Barack Obama’s opportunity to get rid of private health care and turn it completely over to the government. I’m sitting here stunned, saying Oh My God, you’re making the point of the health care protesters.
Weiner: If Barack Obama doesn’t want to do it, I want to do it.
If you want the government to run the health care system, vote for any of the plans that come out of the Democrats in the Congress. If you don't, you need to fight every step of the way. They have lied, are lying, and will continue to lie about their overall intentions. They've complained that "government takeover" is a dishonest label of their current proposals, but the fact is, it's an accurate label of what they'd like to do, and there really isn't any question about it.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Young sailors, rowers take home trophies
Young sailors, rowers take home trophies
LAWRENCE — Greater Lawrence Community Boating wrapped up its 30th season with the Tony LaHoud Regatta on Saturday, featuring a full slate of races, including backwards kayak races, canoe slalom, sunfish and Mercury sailing races.
More than 60 members and guests of the boating progam participated in the annual event.
Overall points trophy went to Sam Beverage of Lawrence, winner of the Tony LaHoud Memorial Trophy.
Winners from each division include:
Canoe: Mikaela Gimas, 11, of Lawrence
Kayak: Cai Williams, 13, Methuen
Sunfish: Dara Williams, 8, Methuen
Mercury: Sam Beverage, 14, Lawrence
Sportsmanship Award: Ben Beverage, Lawrence
Silly Sail: Brendan Healy, 14, Wilmington
Local sponsors providing food and prizes included Spector Textile, Brien Oil, Vinny's Billiards & Arcade, Paul and Carol Miller, J&M Industries, Bresnahan Ice, Pepsi, Pizza King, Kings Subs, Tripoli Bakery, Top Donut, Academy Lanes, Victorian Park, Fuddruckers, Pilgrim Lanes, Lighthouse Vending and Moor and Mountain.
Monday, August 17, 2009
Monday Pythagorean, 8/17/2009
It could be that 4-3, against a division leader and the current Wild Card leader, is a decent week. Could be. But I'm not feeling in a charitable mood towards the Red Sox right now.
- There was some discussion about the Youkilis suspension the other day, and their were a lot of people who objected to the characterization of Youkilis as "selfish" because "he snapped." Sorry, not acceptable. It was stupid and it was selfish. Emotional? Upset? Sure. But charging the mound is the equivalent of a hissy-fit from a three year old, and if you're not selfish, you don't allow yourself that fit. They're in second place in the Wild Card race because they just lost a one-run game against a mediocre pitcher, and their best hitter was sitting out his fifth consecutive game because he let his emotions run wild instead of just taking his base. And they were lucky that it was just five games.
And the idea that this is somehow going to prevent him from getting hit in the future is utter nonsense. If I'm a pitcher facing the Red Sox, or an opposing manager, the idea that I can get Youkilis out of a game, or maybe even a series, by hitting him in the back might be pretty appealing at some point.
- I've consistently held, from the start of the season, that this is one of the best teams in baseball. I no longer believe that. The best teams in baseball don't send Brad Penny to the mound in crucial games. They don't put a lineup that has Brian Anderson and Alex Gonzalez in it on the field.
OK, some of that is timing. Drew's hurt, Baldelli's hurt, Van Every's hurt, Youk's suspended. The pathetic lineups of the last two days aren't entirely intentional. And they've been through three shortstops.
The lineups were utterly pathetic anyway. And Alex Gonzalez is a self-inflicted sucking chest wound1.
- They scored 6 runs in the ninth inning on Friday. They scored 7 runs total in the other 26 innings in Texas. Four of those seven scored on solo home runs. Two scored on a two-run homer. The other on a sacrifice fly.
That's right. Other than the ninth inning, they had zero runs score on a base hit. This follows the last road series in NY, in which the only runs they scored in the last three games was on a two-run homer. And one of those games went 15 innings. Which means the following:
In their last sixty (60) innings on the road, the Red Sox have had one (1) inning in which they scored a run on a non-home run base hit.
Rub your eyes and read it again.
In their last sixty (60) innings on the road, the Red Sox have had one (1) inning in which they scored a run on a non-home run base hit.
In only seven of those 60 innings (11.7%) have they scored any runs at all. One of the seven was a sacrifice fly. Two were two-run home runs. And four were solo home runs.
- You can, occasionally, score runs even with a big hole in the lineup. But it requires that your good hitters perform. They didn't. At least, they didn't produce consistently enough, and with good enough timing to offset the incredible unproductivity of the bottomless pit that represents the bottom of the current lineup.
- 28 games since the All Star game, 18 on the road. So are the next three. They're 11-17. In those 18 road games, they're averaging 3.77 runs/game, which is pathetic. And it's actually much worse than that, as they've played an extra games worth of extra innings and they scored 18 runs in one of the 18. The other 17, they've averaged 2.94 runs/game, and 2.76 runs/9 innings. It's difficult to overstate the horribleness of that performance.
- When they leave Toronto on Thursday night, they'll have 25 home games remaining and only 17 on the road.
- For what it's worth, the Rangers, who have played much better at home, will at that time have 16 left at home and 26 left on the road.
- Red Sox Player of the Week: - Jason Bay, who hit .360/.467/.920/1.387 for the week with four HR.
- Red Sox Pitcher of the Week: - Nice starts for Buccholz and Beckett. A very encouraging and promising pair of starts from Junichi Tazawa, who I don't think anyone foresaw making important starts before the season began. Ramon Ramirez had four appearances with a 0 ERA, but walked two, hit two and balked in a run2. So the prize3 goes to Hidecki Okajima, who allowed only one base runner and no runs in three innings in two outings.
1 - Not everyone agrees with me on this one. I don't care. I don't want Alex Gonzalez on my baseball team.
2 - The balk was a bad call, so we cut him a little slack.
3 - There is no monetary prize - just the honor and glory that goes with me picking him.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
"I do not think it means what you think it means..."
The Red Sox allowed eight stolen bases to the Rangers last night, the second time this year that an opponent has stolen eight bases.
"Ironically, Brad Penny was on the mound when the Red Sox gave up eight to the Tampa Bay Rays earlier this season..."
- Sox announcer Don Orsillo
Maybe it wasn't actually irony - maybe, just possibly, it was cause and effect.
Friday, August 14, 2009
"...a known christian might say something religious..."
I don't believe that this represents progress:
Mr. Staver said the district also agreed to forbid senior class President Mary Allen from speaking at the school's May 30 graduation ceremony on the chance that the young woman, a known Christian, might say something religious.
I'm not that old. I didn't finish school that long ago. It's hard for me to imagine that the preceding paragraph is actually being written in, and about, the United States of America. It's not the America in which I grew up...
Red Sox concede season
"The Red Sox have completed a trade with the Cincinnati Reds, bringing shortstop Alex Gonzalez back to Boston."
What a bad decision. What a terrible move. I don't care what they gave up, it was much, much too much.
A: The one available SS who does not represent an upgrade over Nick Green.
Q: Who is Alex Gonzalez?
Yes, he has a fabulous defensive reputation. Yes, he's sure-handed, and looks smooth. He's a mediocre, or worse, defender, who can't hit well enough to justify playing time even in someone as good defensively as he's reputed to be (but isn't.)
This is a panic move, the kind of thing that they usually (though not always [remember Bard-Meredith-Mirabelli]) avoid doing.
Just a bad idea. This is a trade that makes them worse over the remainder of the season, as Gonzalez takes playing time away from both Nick Green and Jed Lowrie, while improving nothing.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Panic in the Fens
Some of what I was trying to say yesterday, from Joe Sheehan (subscriber only):
There is a lot of panic in Boston this week—heck, there was a lot of panic last week after the trip to St. Petersburg—so perhaps it’s worth it to look at the bigger picture. Even after a six-game losing streak, the Sox are tied for the lead in the wild-card race and have a game-and-a-half edge on the Rays in that race. They have the fourth-best run differential in baseball, and are in a virtual tie for the fifth-best third-order record. Despite the various lineup holes, they have enough talent to fill eight lineup spots well, if they so choose, and are in talks to perhaps patch the shortstop problem. They have an embarrassment of pitching riches, going six starters deep even after a trade and the ending of the Smoltz experiment. And they have a deep and imposing bullpen. This is still one of the best teams in baseball and the favorite to win the AL Wild Card. It’s just going to be a little more dramatic than they would have liked.
Monday, August 10, 2009
Monday Pythagorean, 8/10/2009
There is no amount of positive thinking that can make this past week anything other than an utter disaster. Which isn't to say that there weren't some good things that happened. But there's no way that any positives can redeem an 0-6 week that sees a team fall from a first place tie to six games back in the loss column.
- < sarcasm>Obviously, the Red Sox are a horrible organization, who have put together a horrible team, and they'll be lucky to finish with a better record than the Nationals and Royals.< /sarcasm> It was a rotten week, but that happens, even to good teams. They've got two of their starting pitchers on the DL, the Smoltz experiment failed, both of their corner outfielders are dinged up, and everyone's slumping at pretty much the same time as they've played an extended set of games on the road against good teams. The end result is ugly for the record, but the amount of panic is, as is so often the case, excessive. A month ago, this was the best team and organization in baseball, with a great mix of veterans and youth, with young players in several key spots. Today, they're "a collection of aging and ineffective hitters." It's preposterous. Sometimes things go wrong, in bunches. That's happened to the Red Sox over the past couple of weeks. It's not over, and the people talking as if it is should know better. It isn't like we haven't seen phenomena like this before.
- As I said, dismal though the week was, there were some positives. Lester and Beckett continue to dominate, allowing only 2 runs in 20 innings against the two top run-scoring clubs in the AL. Buccholz allowed only 2 in 6 against the Yankees, his best performance of the season. The John Smoltz and Billy Traber experiments ended. These are all good things.
- The bad things far outweighed them.
- As pathetic as it is to score 2.33 runs per game, it was actually worse. They played two long games, more than an extra games' worth of innings, and lost both. On a per innings basis, they actually scored fewer than 2 runs per game on the week.
- OK, I didn't do an Ortiz post. I am so heartily sick of the topic that I just cannot bear it anymore. David says he never did steroids. Based on what the union has said, his name on the list does not necessarily contradict him. Did he? Didn't he? I don't know. And. I. Do. Not. Care. I just want to stop reading about it every time I open the paper, I want to stop hearing it every time I listen to the radio or the television.
- Red Sox Player of the Week: - Dustin Pedroia hit .240/.367/.520/.887 for the week. When I tell you that that is far and away the best offensive performance of any Sox player during the week, and that Pedroia had several opportunities to drive in runs that would win games, and failed to do so, you'll understand why this award remains vacant this week.
- Red Sox Pitcher of the Week: - Jon Lester, who, in two starts, allowed 2 runs, 2 walks and 8 hits in 13 innings while striking out 17.
Sunday, August 09, 2009| Links to this post
Saturday, August 08, 2009
Another reason to consider homeschooling
Thursday, August 06, 2009
Joke of the day
Wednesday, August 05, 2009
Cash for Clunkers II
There has been some great commentary on this issue, largely because the program is so straightforward, so simple, and so obviously a bad idea.
It gets worse, from that whole social-justice angle. What about the estimated 12 percent of Americans aged 15 years and above who don't drive, period? What about all the adults who live in the 8 percent of households that don't have a vehicle? What about half the residents of Manhattan, who took transit planners' decades-old dream to heart and "got out of their cars"? What about those who are too poor to drive? The answer: All of these people are subsidizing whoever turns in an SUV or crappy old $800 K-Car like the one I used to drive. Not only that, but what do you think happens to the $800 car market when the guvmint is handing out $4,500 checks to have the things destroyed? I'll go ahead and state the obvious: It shrinks, making it more expensive for the truly poor people, the ones who want to make that daring leap from the bus system to an awful old bucket of rust.
Cash-for-clunkers amounts to a rounding error in Tim Geithner's nose-hair at this point, which is probably why at least some liberals seem so genuinely baffled by the disproportionate criticism it has drawn. But for some of us it's also a nearly perfect symbol of economic statism run amok. The federal government is taking from the many, giving it to the less-than-many, destroying functional cars, funneling money to an auto industry that it already largely owns (at a hefty taxpayer price tag), then taking multiple (and multiply premature) bows for rescuing the economy and the auto industry in the process.
You mean the government is offering people free money ... and they’re taking it? And they’re measuring the program’s success by how many people ... are willing to take free money? Shocker that it’s been so successful, huh?
There’s also the laughable idea that the government is ordering the destruction of tens of thousands of used automobiles it paid people thousands of dollars to exchange ... for new cars that may get no more than an added four miles per gallon. And all in the name of saving energy.
Tuesday, August 04, 2009
Cash for Clunkers
A couple of excellent comments on this economically-illiterate program (a program deemed a success despite, as Howard Kurtz noted, the fact that it was "a billion-dollar effort that was supposed to last till November [but] ran out of money in five days.")
What the federal government is now doing is using taxpayer dollars to subsidize the large-scale destruction of functional cars that would otherwise exchange hands one or more times in the used car market. This will make it harder for poor folks to purchase cars in the future. It’s an income transfer up the income distribution, at the behest of so-called progressives.
What we're forgetting is that all of these cars, tens of thousands of clunkers, are going to be turned into scrap. And the question is why? America is going to be destroying tens of thousands of perfectly usable cars, destroying essentially American assets.
A parody of Keynesian economics is to say that you pay half the population to dig holes and the other half to fill them in. This is worse, because we're paying people with the bribe of cash to destroy huge numbers of assets.
Bastiat wrote, over 150 years ago, of the broken-window fallacy, in which a smashed window is looked at as an economic stimulus while completely missing the opportunity cost associated with being unable to spend the window replacement cost on different economic stimulus. The current administration and Congress apparently didn't get to the end of the broken window story, just stopped in the middle, saying, "what a great idea!" They've turned window smashing into the only part of their economic stimulus package which seems to be stimulating anything...
Monday, August 03, 2009
Monday Pythagorean, 8/3/2009
Well, the offense returned. For the week, 5-2 works.
- 2-2 vs. Oakland is not an impressive way to start a week. The loss on Tuesday, throwing away a three run lead in the ninght, was particularly painful. But these things do happen during the course of a season, and the issue isn't necessarily avoiding them, it's avoiding long stretches of them. The Red Sox have played poorly since the All Star break, but if you look at the standings this morning, what you discover is that as bad as it has been, they're actually only 7-8 since the break. Certainly not good, but considering that the stretch includes a 5 game losing streak, nowhere near as bad as it could be. That's one of the keys to compiling a good record - keep the extended bad streak at or near .500 as opposed to 5 games under.
- And after the split with Oakland, they ended up putting together a good week by virtue of going on the road and putting together a sweep of Baltimore. They're now 11-2 vs. the Orioles (and it could easily be better, as they had a 9 run lead in one of the two losses before the rains came.)
- Boston enters the first full week in August with the best run differential in the AL by 20 runs over the Rays, and the second best differential in MLB.
- The Sox made up two games on the week, bringing the deficit back to 1/2 a game, tied in the loss column. This week provides and opportunity to make a move, as they've got two in Tampa followed by four in New York. My gut feeling is that the standings will look pretty similar next Monday to the way they look today, and that Boston and New York will be within two games of each other one way or the other.
- During the roster juggling necessitated by the trades, they brought up Josh Reddick to provide depth in case Drew's groin injury proved worse than expected. He's now started a couple of Major League games and collected a bunch of hits, including a couple of doubles and a HR. I don't think he's ready to be here full-time, and I'm pretty sure that they don't either, but that's a nice start for him and worthy of notice.
- On the other, I'm not crazy about the reasons that he's getting the playing time. In two consecutive games, one of the Red Sox starting corner outfielders has left with an injury. Neither seems to be serious, and Reddick and Baldelli have done a great job, but they're not going to win the division with the corners manned by Reddick and Baldelli as opposed to Bay and Drew.
- I was going to address the Ortiz news here, but I'm thinking that I'll pull it into a separate post. The short answer is, the news is depressing because it's news and I'm sick of it all, and I don't care, and no, the titles are not "tainted." More later.
- I was going to work the trade deadline stuff in here, and I've decided to pull that into a separate post also. Short answer - they got better, they didn't give up any of their untouchables, and I've got non-baseball reasons for being sorry that Masterson and Hagadone have gone.
- The "big inning" is killing Smoltz (well, the "big inning" and the defensive stylings of Nick Green) and Buccholz. Why is the "big inning" killing Smoltz and Buccholz? I don't have an answer. Presumably, the answers to that question come from the likes of scouts and sports psychologists, and I'm neither. When they score runs, they can cover some of those big innings up, but it would be much better not to have to.
- The top of the rotation is still dominant. Another week, another set of brilliant performances from Messieurs Beckett and Lester. (OK, Lester struggled a little bit in his start, aided by, again, a little bit of bad luck and a little bit of defensive players not getting to gettable balls.)
- Daniel Bard is putting up video game numbers, and this seems a good time to mention it. It has been over a month since he last allowed an earned runs, giving up a total of two unearned runs in his last 12 apearances, dating back to June 28. In that span, he has pitched 14 innings, and allowed four (4) hits. Here's the silly number. In those 14 innings, he has struck out 23 batters, while walking none. 14 innings, no HBP or walks, only 4 hits, probably means 46 batters. He has struck out half of them. He has been spectacular.
- Red Sox Player of the Week - On a per at-bat basis, J.D. Drew (.600/.625/.933/1.558) was the best, but because of injury, he only saw 15 at-bats. Jacoby Ellsbury (.438/.513/.656/1.169) had an outstanding week, and Mike Lowell (.450/.435/.750/1.185) was excellent. Josh Reddick (.364/.417/.818/1.235) warrants mention in his big-league debut. But the winner is ... Kevin Youkilis (.552/.618/.828/1.445), who was 10-12 in Baltimore this weekend and reached base safely in 13 of 15 plate appearances.
- Red Sox Pitcher of the Week - The pitching this week was unspectacular, from bad starts (Penny, Smoltz, Buccholz) to late-inning meltdowns (Papelbon1). But there are contenders. First, Daniel Bard, whom I've already mentioned, threw 3 2/3 innings in four appearances, allowing 1 hit and no runs, striking out 5 while walking none. Some weeks, that would get it done, and he'll get his share of these awards before his career is over, but Josh Beckett, in two starts, pitched 14 innings and allowed 3 ER for a 1.93 ERA.
1 - Yes, Papelbon's "meltdown" was significantly aided and abetted by horrendous defense behind him, and a very weak bloop hit. Still, he keeps putting guys on base via the walk, and the base on balls isn't Nick Green's fault.