Thursday, October 31, 2013

What was obviously a lie turns out to have been ... a lie


As even the mainstream press seems to be coming to the conclusion that maybe, just maybe, the President oversold the "Affordable Care Act," I look back to what I wrote about it four years ago.
So they can put together a bill that's going to a) add 15 (or 30 or 47, depending on the President's mood, apparently) million people to the insurance rolls b) while providing improved care c) at lower cost for everyone d) and allowing everyone to keep the coverage they've already got if they want to e) and not increasing the budget deficit f) or increasing taxes1, but they can't post that freakin' bill on the internet?...

It boggles my mind that anyone can watch any part of this process and think, "yes, this is how we're going to make the health care system better for everyone! What could possibly go wrong?"


1 - Every time I write that out, I vacillate between giggling and rage. I giggle that the preposterousness of the suggestion, that there's somehow, some way that increased government intervention is going to lead to any one of those things happening, never mind all six simultaneously, and rage that the President of the United States actually thinks that the US citizens are stupid enough to buy it. He doesn't even have enough respect for the people of this country to try a plausible argument.

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Monday, October 28, 2013

The backyard

Love the October view...


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School for Scolds


Another great column from Thomas Sowell. Of course, when does he write one that isn't?
I suspect that even most conservatives would prefer to live in the kind of world conjured up in the liberals’ imagination rather than in the kind of world we are in fact stuck with.
 
...

Whether in housing, education, or innumerable other aspects of life, the key to busybody politics, and its endlessly imposed “solutions,” is that third parties pay no price for being wrong. This not only presents opportunities for the busybodies to engage in moral preening but also to flatter themselves that they know better what is good for other people than these other people know for themselves.

Right now, there are people inside and outside government who are proposing new restrictions on how you may or may not visit the national parks that your taxes support. Among their proposals is doing away with trash cans in these parks, so that visitors have to take their trash out with them. Just how they would enforce this, when millions of people visit places like Yosemite or Yellowstone, is something the busybodies need not bother to think through — much less pay the price when trash simply accumulates in these parks after trash cans are removed.

Obamacare is perhaps the ultimate in busybody politics. People who have never even run a drugstore, much less a hospital, blithely prescribe what must be done by the entire medical system, from doctors to hospitals to producers of pharmaceutical drugs to health-insurance companies.

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Friday, October 25, 2013

Fundamental misunderstandings


Something jumped out of this Washington Post story (Many Americans accumulating debt faster than they’re saving for retirement) at me.
Currently, workers with retirement savings accounts put aside more than 11 percent of their pay for retirement — 5 percent in their own accounts, and 6.2 percent in Social Security.
Note to Michael A. Fletcher, who wrote the story - that 6.2 percent for Social Security is a TAX, which goes into the treasury, and is then used for whatever the Federal Government is currently spending money on. It is NOT savings. There is no Social Security "trust fund," there is no account with your name on it, there is just a transfer from current workers to current retirees, in the hopes that currents workers, when retired, will be supported by future workers. But that 5% that workers with retirement savings accounts are saving doesn't magically become 11% just because the Federal Government is taking 6.2% of their money and giving it to others.

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Health insurance cancellation notices soar above Obamacare enrollment rates


Katie McHugh, The Daily Caller:
Hundreds of thousands of Americans who purchase their own health insurance have received cancellation notices since August because the plans do not meet Obamacare’s requirements.

The number of cancellation notices greatly exceed the number of Obamacare enrollees.
What was that line, again?

Oh, yeah...

No matter how we reform health care, we will keep this promise to the American people: If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor, period. If you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan, period. No one will take it away, no matter what.
- Candidate Barack Obama

I'd feel abused and lied to if I'd ever believed it. Since what he was saying wasn't possible, there was never any reason for anyone to have believed it. Sadly, many did...

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Friday, October 11, 2013

MLB Championship Series


Boston vs. Detroit:

The Bill James Playoff Predictor points to the Tigers.

1. 1 pt to the lead team for each half-game in the standings (8 - BOS)
2. 3 pts to the team that scored more runs (3 - BOS)
3. 14 pts to the team with fewer doubles (14 - DET)
4. 12 pts to the team with more triples (12 - BOS)
5. 10 pts to the team with more home runs (10 - BOS)
6. 8 pts to the team with the lower team batting average (8 - BOS)
7. 8 pts to the team that committed fewer errors (8 - DET)
8. 7 pts to the team that turned more double plays (7 - BOS)
9. 7 pts to the team that walked more batters (7 - BOS)
10. 19 pts to the team that had more shutouts (19 - DET)
11. 15 pts to the team whose ERA was lower (15 - DET)
12. 12 pts to the team that has been in postseason most recently or went further(12 - DET)
13. 12 pts to the team that won season series (12 - DET)

Total - DET 80, BOS 55


I think I noted earlier that Baseball Prospectus' third-order winning percentage had the Detroit Tigers as the best team in baseball this year.  Despite that, the Red Sox finished with more runs scored and four more wins.

Season offense:
Red Sox (.277/.349/.446/.795, 878.86 runs created, 5.09 RC/25 outs)
Tigers (.283/.346/.434/.780, 838.31 runs created, 4.81 RC/25 outs)
Playoff Roster:
Red Sox (.280/.354/.457/.811, 814.15 runs created, 5.28 RC/25 outs)
Tigers (.285/.349/.439/.788, 822.13 runs created, 4.92 RC/25 outs)
So the Red Sox had a better offense. The Tigers strength is obviously in the pitching staff, with Scherzer and Verlander and Sanchez and Fister.  It helps the Red Sox that Verlander pitched last night, so they won't see him in Boston for game 1 or 2.  And Boston's a better defensive team, particularly with Peralta on the field.

My prediction:  Boston in 6




St. Louis vs. Los Angeles:

1. 1 pt to the lead team for each half-game in the standings (10 - STL)
2. 3 pts to the team that scored more runs (3 - STL)
3. 14 pts to the team with fewer doubles (14 - LAD)
4. 12 pts to the team with more triples (12 - STL)
5. 10 pts to the team with more home runs (10 - LAD)
6. 8 pts to the team with the lower team batting average (8 - LAD)
7. 8 pts to the team that committed fewer errors (8 - STL)
8. 7 pts to the team that turned more double plays (7 - STL)
9. 7 pts to the team that walked more batters (7 - LAD)
10. 19 pts to the team that had more shutouts (19 - LAD)
11. 15 pts to the team whose ERA was lower (15 - LAD)
12. 12 pts to the team that has been in postseason most recently or went further(12 - STL)
13. 12 pts to the team that won season series (12 - LAD)

Total - LAD 85, STL 52

It feels like the Red Sox and Dodgers have been on a collision course all year.

My prediction:  Los Angeles in 6

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Division Series recap



Division Series Results:
Bill James Playoff Predictor:  TB 83, BOS 56

My prediction: Red Sox in four

Result: Red Sox in four


Bill James Playoff Predictor:  OAK 82, DET 51

My Prediction: Oakland in five

Result: Detroit in five


Bill James Playoff Predictor:  PIT 97, STL 36

My prediction: St. Louis in four

Result: St. Louis in five


Bill James Playoff Predictor:  ATL 102, LAD 33

My prediction: Atlanta in five

Result: LAD in four


I got the Red Sox series correct, both winner and games. I got the winner of the St. Louis series correct, but missed the number of games by one. I missed on the Atlanta-Los Angeles series.  And I missed on Oakland-Detroit.  Which is funny, because I predicted that it would go five, but when they actually went to the fifth game, there was no question in my mind that the Tigers were going to win.

The Bill James Playoff Predictor missed - badly - on both NL series. And it missed on both AL series, too1. 0-4.

Obviously, I was a little better.  


1 - As I noted at the time, the BJPP actually favored the Red Sox if you used ERA+ rather than ERA. 

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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Extortion? Blackmail? Or the normal political process?


So, I've seen someone suggest that Harry Reid and the Democrats in the US Senate1 are guilty of extortion or blackmail, because they won't agree to take up any government funding bills from the House that don't also completely fund the "Affordable Care Act."  I just want to say that, whether or not you agree with what they're doing, that characterization is obviously preposterous. 

Just as the House has the power of the purse, the Congress as a whole has to agree on all appropriations.  If Senate Democrats really think that immediate and full funding of that particular law, despite the fact that the infrastructure is clearly not ready for, and despite the fact that the President has already unilaterally (and almost certainly unconstitutionally) suspended parts of it for a year, is the way to go, they've got the right to use that as a negotiating position. 

And it is uncivil to call the Senate Democrats and their supporters, "economic terrorists" or "blackmailers" just because they are taking a position that they feel is in the best interest of the country, regardless of whether or not I agree with them.  Obviously, that goes for the President (against whom there has also been a lot of name-calling by people who simply have a different opinion on what the best course of action for the country is) as well.  (Of course, nothing he's said is really relevant yet anyway, because the Senate hasn't actually taken up any of the spending bills that the House has passed, so there's nothing for him to sign or veto yet.)




1 - OK,  I'm pretty sure that this person was actually talking about the Republicans in the House.  Which changes exactly nothing, about this commentary, other than whose Ox is being gored...

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Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Math is hard, I guess...


Something is not right with Tom Verducci's math...
When opponents threw no more than 140 pitches in a game against Boston, they went 27-16. But when they needed more, they were just 50-49 against the relentless Red Sox.
So Red Sox opponents were 27-16 + 50-40, or 79-56 against Boston this year. That's quite a trick for the opponents of a 97-65 team to pull off. So the Red Sox were only 16-27 when seeing 140 or fewer pitches, and only 49-50 when seeing more?

This might have benefited from a little tighter editing...

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Thanks for the insightful commentary, George...


This is the kind of nonsense that passes for insightful commentary on facebook. Someone posts it, and it gets hundreds or thousands of likes from like-minded readers, and they all take turns complimenting themselves and beating up on the Republicans who are too stupid or evil to "get it."



And the obvious response doesn't seem to occur to any of them.

"Dear George,
We did win an election. In fact, since (and arguably because) the Affordable Care Act was signed into law, we're two for two.

Sincerely,
John Boehner and the Republican Majority in the United States House of Representatives."
One of the points that I've seen made, over and over for the past couple of weeks, is that "hey, it's the law, and the Supreme Court says it's ok."  As if that means anything.  As if anyone's debating that.  As if the Republicans in the House of Representatives right now are not the current elected representatives of the citizens of this country, and entitled to attempt to make whatever changes in the law they deem necessary or appropriate.  As if the majority wasn't elected by running against the Affordable Care Act, and it weren't wildly unpopular.  As if it were handed down on stone tablets from atop Sinai, never to be challenged again for all eternity.

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Tuesday, October 08, 2013

The dumbest thing I expect to see today...


... and I expect to see it over and over as various lefties post it on Facebook.

Is the video dumb? Probably. Given that it features Fauxcahontas, I have no reason to think that time spent watching it would constitute time well spent. But the dumbness - really epic dumbness - is in the description from the person that posted it.

A Senator Gets Mad About The Shutdown And Starts Naming Names. About Time.
Since the media seems to think this whole thing is a bipartisan mess, I thought I'd get a second opinion. Take it away, Senator. (At 4:00, she nails it.) And the name she names? It's a party. Not a person.
I don't know what media he's talking about, but, as we discussed yesterday, they seem to be largely in "it's not really bipartisan - it's all the Republicans' fault" mode. So that's a pretty dumb comment. What really elevates it is what follows. To get the real scoop, this guy thinks that the media is too even-handed, so you've got to go to a partisan, elected and not-particularly bright (skin-tone excepted) Democrat to get the blame correctly attributed to Republicans.

Yeah, there's a compelling argument.  That'll really elevate the discussion...

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"Deliberately sabotaging America's economy..."



What was that line that Mr. Kristof used?   About politicians threatening default, using a "potential catastrophe as a source of bargaining power in a game of extortion: We don’t want anything to happen to this fine American economy as we approach the debt limit, so you’d better meet our demand." That whole column, of course, was a plea for us to understand that this kind of tactic (known to normal people as "negotiation") is some beyond-the-pale behavior indulged in by Republicans and Republicans only.  Democrats would never play games with the debt limit.

So, here's a Senatorial example of "play[ing] politics with the debt limit":
Mr. President, I rise today to talk about America’s debt problem.  The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure...

Increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that "the buck stops here." Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better.  I therefore intend to oppose the effort to increase America’s debt limit.
Which Senator was that who was "engaged in deliberately sabotaging America’s economy and damaging our national security"?

Senator Barack Obama, 3/16/2006.  He was arguing against raising the debt limit, and he was joined in voting against that raise of the limit by every single Democratic Senator.

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Monday, October 07, 2013

One of us doesn't understand what "blackmail" means...

I've read lamer commentary on the government shutdown than this piece by Nicholas Kristof, but most of it has been in painfully stupid Facebook memes.

To start with, he opens with the absolute mother of all tortured analogies.
Unless Republicans agree to my proposal for gun control, I will use my authority as commander in chief to scuttle one aircraft carrier a week in the bottom of the ocean.

I invite Republican leaders to come to the White House and negotiate a deal to preserve our military strength. I hope Republicans will work with me to prevent the loss of our carrier fleet.

If the Republicans refuse to negotiate, I will be compelled to begin by scuttling the U.S.S. George Washington in the Pacific Ocean’s Mariana Trench, with 80 aircraft on board.


In that situation, we would all agree that Obama had gone nuts. Whatever his beefs with Republicans, it would be an inexcusable betrayal to try to get his way by destroying our national assets. That would be an abuse of power and the worst kind of blackmail.
I love analogies. I use them whenever I can come up with a good one. But argument by analogy only works if the similarities between the analogy and the analogized situations are more relevant than the differences. In this case, the similarities (two sides disagree about a political issue) are dwarfed by the differences. Aircraft carriers have no relevance to gun control; the so-called "Affordable Care Act" that the Republicans are trying to defund has everything to do with the budget. And comparing the wanton, pointless destruction of military hardware to an attempt by legislators to change the law is preposterous.

So the analogy does not work, on any level. (I've written analogies that tortured before, but I hope that I've never published one.)

And in that kind of situation, I would hope that we as journalists wouldn’t describe the resulting furor as a “political impasse” or “partisan gridlock.”


Let's see - Democrat clearly at fault? Yeah, I expect that's exactly what would happen.

I hope that we wouldn’t settle for quoting politicians on each side as blaming the other. It would be appropriate to point out the obvious: Our president had tumbled over the edge and was endangering the nation.


In the tortured analogy offered, sure, that would be true. (Which is not to say I believe that's what the coverage would be.) In what follows, it would not be.

Today, we have a similar situation, except that it’s a band of extremist House Republicans who are deliberately sabotaging America’s economy and damaging our national security — all in hopes of gaining leverage on unrelated issues.


  1. They are not "deliberately sabotaging" anything. They are attempting to act in the best interests of their constituents, and the country.
  2. The "Affordable Care Act" is not unrelated to the Federal budget, or the budget deficit, or the national debt.


Point one is important. Reasonable people may reasonably differ on whether the "Affordable Care Act" is good for the country or not. But it is not prima facie unreasonable to thing that it is a) a bad law that b) will stifle health care innovation, c) while expanding the Federal deficit and d) further politicizing medical care. If you believe those things, it is furthermore not unreasonable to think that it should be stopped. And let us further recognize that many members of the House of Representatives are there specifically because the people they represent were and are opposed to that law. Obviously, we would not have the current shutdown if the Democrats still controlled the House, and there's no reason to think that, in the absence of the "Affordable Care Act," they would not still do so.

The shutdown of government by House Republicans has already cost at least $1.2 billion, with the tab increasing by $300 million a day. Some estimates are much higher than that.


Cost who what? How? The Federal Government not spending money saves the taxpayer money, does it not? So what is this "cost" that he's talking about?

The 1995 and 1996 shutdowns cost the country $2.1 billion at today’s value, and the current one is also likely to end up costing billions — a cost imposed on every citizen by House Republicans, even as members of Congress pay themselves.


Again, how, exactly, is this shutdown imposing "costs" on me? Every penny the Federal Government spends is either taxed now, so it's removed from the economy and some pittance of it comes back into the economy, or it's borrowed now, in which case it needs to be paid back later, with interest. What are these "costs" of which you speak?

The government shutdown and risk of default also undermine America’s strength around the world. It’s not just that 72 percent of the intelligence community’s civilian work force has been furloughed. It’s not simply that “the jeopardy to the safety and security of this country will increase” daily, according to James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence.


Hmm... I thought that it was only the "non-essential" workers who were off. We seem to have found enough budget for workers to barricade off national monuments and scenic vistas, to remove people from their own homes on federally leased lands. Maybe, just maybe, the executive branch should be adjusting its spending priorities.

Or maybe the part of that tortured analogy in which President Obama goes out of his way to damage national security in order to have the House of Representatives give him what he wants legislatively isn't as far-fetched as it sounds...

Nor is it just that the White House telephone number is now answered with a recording that says to call back when government is functioning again. It’s not simply that several countries have issued travel advisories about visiting America. It’s not just that we’re mocked worldwide, with the French newspaper Le Monde writing: “Jefferson, wake up! They’ve gone crazy!”


Yes, America's standing around the world has just been soaring with that stellar Obama/Biden/Clinton/Kerry foreign policy team. No missteps there, nosirree.

And Le Monde is where I always go for insight into the subleties of the American political process.

Rather, it’s that America’s strength and influence derive in part from the success of our political and economic model. When House Republicans shut our government down


House Republicans have passed bills funding the Federal Government at current levels. All of it. With the notable exception of the "Affordable Care Act." If the President were willing to accept a one-year delay on the whole of that law, not just parts of it, as he has illegally done, the shutdown could end today. But it takes two to make a deal. (Oh, drat, that kind of defeats the whole point of the article, doesn't it?)

and leave us teetering on the abyss of default,


Default? How are we "teetering on the abyss of default"? Does the treasury not have adequate funds to meet all of our required bond payments? I believe the answer to that is, "yes, it does." In which case, we only default if the Secretary of the Treasury fails to do his job.

we are a diminished nation. We have less influence. We have less raw power, as surely as if we had fewer aircraft carriers.

Some Americans think that this crisis reflects typical partisan squabbling.


Only because it represents fairly typical partisan squabbling. One way that you can tell is that all the liberal columnists are trotting out their "it isn't really typical partisan squabbling - it's all the Republicans fault" columns.

No. Democrats and Republicans have always disagreed, sometimes ferociously, about what economic policy is best, but, in the past, it was not normal for either to sabotage the economy as a negotiating tactic.


That's really compelling if you buy the premise. If you don't, it's just more noise.

In a household, husbands and wives disagree passionately about high-stakes issues like how to raise children. But normal people do not announce that if their spouse does not give in, they will break all the windows in the house.  In the past, it was not normal for either to sabotage the economy as a negotiating tactic.


And more noise.

Hard-line House Republicans seem to think that their ability to inflict pain on 800,000 federal workers by furloughing them without pay gives them bargaining chips.in the past, it was not normal for either to sabotage the economy as a negotiating tactic.


Again, the Republicans in the House have passed funding bills to pay each of those 800,000 federal workers. Those bills have been stopped in the Democratically controlled US Senate. Harry Reid, not John Boehner, is the one "inflict[ing] pain" on those federal workers.

The hard-liners apparently believe that their negotiating position is strengthened when they demonstrate that they can wreck American governance.


Would it be strengthened if they caved and gave the President everything he wanted, even though they think that would be worse for the country?

The stakes rise as we approach the debt limit and the risk of default — which the Treasury Department notes could have an impact like that of the 2008 financial crisis and “has the potential to be catastrophic.” Astonishingly, Republican hard-liners see that potential catastrophe as a source of bargaining power in a game of extortion: We don’t want anything to happen to this fine American economy as we approach the debt limit, so you’d better meet our demands.

In this situation, it strikes a false note for us as journalists to cover the crisis simply by quoting each side as blaming the other.


"So instead, we'll just quote Democrats blaming Republicans. Which is what we normally do anyway..."

That’s a false equivalency.

Actually, unlike much of what they do, it would be a true equivalency. In order to end the shutdown, the House will have to pass a bill, the Senate will have to pass it, and the President will have to sign it. So both sides have to come together to make a deal. The White House, which again, could end this today, has repeatedly said that they won't even negotiate. So it's not at all a "false equivalency" to say that both sides are playing the same game.

The last time House Republicans played politics with this debt limit, in 2011, Standard & Poor’s downgraded America’s credit rating.


And said, at the time, that the cause was concern about whether the country would get the deficit under control. Take a look at who's trying to do that, and then tell me who is using the "potential catastrophe" as a "source of bargaining power."

In the long run, that may mean higher debt payments and higher taxes. My opening example of a president scuttling naval ships was ludicrous. No one would do that.


Yeah, that would be as silly as giving tax dollars to wealthy people so we could destroy perfectly good used cars.  Who would do something that dumb?

But if we default because of extremist House Republicans, the cost could be much greater to our economy and to our national security than the loss of a few aircraft carriers.
And what if we default because we keep adding entitlement programs for which we cannot make the payments?  How will that be for the economy and national security? 

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Thursday, October 03, 2013

MLB playoffs, round one - the Division Series



We've talked before about Bill James' playoff predictor, a curve-fitting exercise that he came up with 30 years ago to use in predicting the outcomes of playoff series.  And I like to play with it when the Red Sox are in the post-season, so I've done so for all four of the LDS.


Boston vs. Tampa Bay:
The predictor says that Tampa wins this, largely on the strength of better pitching and worse offense.
1. 1 pt to the lead team for each half-game in the standings (12 - BOS)
2. 3 pts to the team that scored more runs (3 - BOS)
3. 14 pts to the team with fewer doubles (14 - TB)
4. 12 pts to the team with more triples (12 - BOS)
5. 10 pts to the team with more home runs (10 - BOS)
6. 8 pts to the team with the lower team batting average (8 - TB)
7. 8 pts to the team that committed fewer errors (8 - TB)
8. 7 pts to the team that turned more double plays (7 - TB)
9. 7 pts to the team that walked more batters (7 - BOS)
10. 19 pts to the team that had more shutouts (19 - TB)
11. 15 pts to the team whose ERA was lower (15 - TB)
12. 12 pts to the team that has been in postseason most recently or went further (12 - TB)
13. 12 pts to the team that won season series (12 - BOS)
Total - TB 83, BOS 56



We've discussed some of these things before.  For instances, the reason, or at least the theory, that having fewer points and a lower batting average were good is that high doubles and batting average are indicative of a "sequential" offense, requiring a lot of individual successes to score runs and those individual successes are harder to come by against playoff pitching.  Whether there's any truth to that now, or ever, or whether it was just an artifact of the available data, is not something I know. 

But I do know this - if you take the 15 points for best ERA and give it to Boston instead of Tampa, the Red Sox win 71-68.  And, while the Rays' ERA is slightly lower than Boston's (3.74 vs, 3.79), when you adjust for their home ballparks (and competition - the Rays pitchers faced the Red Sox' lineup 19 times, while the Red Sox pitchers faced the Rays' lineup 19 times), the Red Sox adjusted ERA+ (a number that post-dates the playoff predictor) is better than Tampa's, 108-102.

In either case, even if the tool is telling us anything, it's telling us that this is a series between two closely matched teams, that should be very competitive.

My prediction?  They play 3-5 games, and someone wins 3. 

I hope it's the Red Sox.  They have clearly been the better team in 2013.  They finished six games ahead of Tampa in the standings, won the head-to-head series 12-7, had a better ERA+, a better adjusted OPS+, outscored the opposition by 140+ more runs than the Rays did and scored 153 more while allowing 10 more.  There's no question that the 2013 Boston Red Sox are/were/have been a better baseball team than the 2013 Tampa Rays.

That and 99 cents will get them home field advantage and a hamburger at McDonalds.

Anything can happen in a seven game series.  Anything is even more likely to happen in a five game series.  I'll go ahead predict that the Red Sox win, but I wouldn't wager a nickel on it.  To really feel good about predicting short series, there would have to be a serious discrepancy in the quality of starting pitchers, and there just isn't, here.  It's easy to imagine the Red Sox pitching shutting down the Rays offense, but it's not hard to imagine the Rays pitching shutting down the Red Sox offense, too.  And the lower the scores, the closer the games and the more room there is for a bad bounce, a marginal strike call, a bloop hit to make the difference.  There is no outcome to this series, from Boston in three to Tampa in three, that would qualify as a serious upset, a shocker.  There just isn't. 

So, here's the official prediction:  Red Sox in four.  (Because if they don't win it four, they lose to David Price in game 5.)






Oakland vs. Detroit:

1. 1 pt to the lead team for each half-game in the standings (6 - OAK )
2. 3 pts to the team that scored more runs (3 - DET)
3. 14 pts to the team with fewer doubles (14 - DET)
4. 12 pts to the team with more triples (12 - OAK )
5. 10 pts to the team with more home runs (10 - OAK )
6. 8 pts to the team with the lower team batting average (8 - OAK )
7. 8 pts to the team that committed fewer errors (8 - DET)
8. 7 pts to the team that turned more double plays (7 - DET)
9. 7 pts to the team that walked more batters (7 - DET)
10. 19 pts to the team that had more shutouts (19 - OAK )
11. 15 pts to the team whose ERA was lower (15 - OAK )
12. 12 pts to the team that has been in postseason most recently or went further (12 - DET)
13. 12 pts to the team that won season series (12 - OAK )
Total - OAK  82, DET 51


Baseball Prospectus' had the Detroit Tigers as the best team in baseball, based on their third-order winning percentage (component offense & pitching adjusted for competition and park).  Their actual record was 11 games worse, far and away the biggest discrepancy in MLB this year.  Which is more indicative of what they are as a team? 

My Prediction:  Oakland in five




St. Louis vs. Pittsburgh:

1. 1 pt to the lead team for each half-game in the standings (6 - STL)
2. 3 pts to the team that scored more runs (3 - STL)
3. 14 pts to the team with fewer doubles (14 - PIT)
4. 12 pts to the team with more triples (12 - PIT)
5. 10 pts to the team with more home runs (10 - PIT)
6. 8 pts to the team with the lower team batting average (8 - PIT)
7. 8 pts to the team that committed fewer errors (8 - STL)
8. 7 pts to the team that turned more double plays (7 - STL)
9. 7 pts to the team that walked more batters (7 - PIT)
10. 19 pts to the team that had more shutouts (19 - PIT)
11. 15 pts to the team whose ERA was lower (15 - PIT)
12. 12 pts to the team that has been in postseason most recently or went further (12 - STL)
13. 12 pts to the team that won season series (12 - PIT)
Total - PIT 97, STL 36
The playoff predictor thinks that Pittsburgh has a big advantage.  I am not convinced.  (Some of those big differences were mighty small, too.  19 points went to the Pirates for having 16 shut-outs to the Cardinals 15.  12 points to the Pirates for winning the season series 10-9, but the predictor doesn't know that Pittsburgh won four straight back in July and St. Louis has won six of the last 9).

Frankly, I'm not buying it.  Congratulations to the Pirates, because it's been a great story to have them back after 20 years in a competitive waste-land, but the ride ends here.

My prediction:  St. Louis in four




Atlanta vs. Los Angeles:

1. 1 pt to the lead team for each half-game in the standings (8 - ATL)
2. 3 pts to the team that scored more runs (3 - ATL)
3. 14 pts to the team with fewer doubles (14 - ATL)
4. 12 pts to the team with more triples (12 - ATL)
5. 10 pts to the team with more home runs (10 - ATL)
6. 8 pts to the team with the lower team batting average (8 - ATL)
7. 8 pts to the team that committed fewer errors (8 - ATL)
8. 7 pts to the team that turned more double plays (7 - LAD)
9. 7 pts to the team that walked more batters (7 - LAD)
10. 19 pts to the team that had more shutouts (19 - LAD)
11. 15 pts to the team whose ERA was lower (15 - ATL)
12. 12 pts to the team that has been in postseason most recently or went further (12 - ATL)
13. 12 pts to the team that won season series (12 - ATL)
Total - ATL 102, LAD 33
I don't like the Braves.  Never have.  Don't anticipate that I ever will.  But am I rooting for the Dodgers?  For Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez?  Uh, no.

My prediction:  Atlanta in five

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Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Efficient use of limited resources


One's initial reaction to this is, "Unbelievable!"  Sadly, it is all too believable...
The National Park Service has ordered the closure of a Virginia park that sits on federal land, even though the government provides no resources for its maintenance or operation.

The Claude Moore Colonial Farm announced on Wednesday that NPS has ordered it to suspend operations until Congress agrees to a deal to fund the federal government.

According to Anna Eberly, managing director of the farm, NPS sent law enforcement agents to the park on Tuesday evening to remove staff and volunteers from the property...
So the National Park Service is spending its limited dollars in blocking access to a site that required the expenditure of none of them. The Federal Government is spending money keeping people out of a non-Federally funded site. It is spending taxpayer dollars in the pursuit of inconveniencing taxpayers. The Federal Government is expending its resources in accomplishing one thing, and one thing alone - ensuring that the current limited Federal shutdown is as painful to as many people as they can possibly make it.

It's the old mafia protection racket, writ large. "Nice historical site you've got there - be a shame if something were to happen to it..."

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Reid: 'Why Would We Want To' Help One Kid With Cancer?


I understand that it's tiresome to listen to conservatives whine about the media. It is. Even for those of us doing it, it is. But that doesn't make out complaints invalid or unimportant.

Take a minute and try to imagine what the media response to Harry Reid's comment would be if uttered by a Republican.

It would be very different than it's going to be...

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