Monthly archives: October 2004
More "Hard Work"
Frequent commenter Linkmeister has a link (imagine!) about the most chilling of the many chilling things Bush has done on this campaign. (Note: the rest of the blog is achingly cool. I intend on adding this to my daily read and think it is likely to make it to my links list, even though he has a pseudonym.)
And the baseball bone - George Bush campaigned in Cincinnati today, stumping at the ballpark. Carl Lindner's a big supporter (hey Carl, spend some on your team eh?) so this isn't a big surprise. Johnny Bench? Okay ... maybe I should let Scott McCauley discuss that one. No truth to the rumor that Bush is being considered for shortstop.
And beverage bone - anyone have suggestions on teas? (Shut up, ZDM.) I want something strong, but not caffeinated; good for me, but not spinach-tasting like my last green tea; and I'd prefer if it wasn't like my favorite coffee, Jamaican Blue Mountain, which is wonderful, exotic, rare, and expensive.
Yes, this will likely be all-politics for the next couple days. There's 72 hours left to do whatever you can - phone banking, emailing, donating, or volunteering. I'll be in Ohio on Election Day, volunteering with ACT to GOTV.
And a reminder that we should not feed the trolls. Persuade the persuadable, ignore the rest, and we'll give them a chance to come back to the reality-based community on Wednesday. Trolls, keep it civil or I'll ban you. (No, that's not censorship; it's sanity.)
And a baseball bone for you ... If the Angels aren't even going to negotiate with Troy Glaus, it tells you one of two things - either his shoulder isn't going to get better and he'll be limited to DH or they're freeing up money. I'll lean to the latter. The Astros have a 5x12.5 on the table to Carlos Beltran. Not even close. The Braves are shopping Andruw Jones, hoping to re-sign J.D. Drew.
My Hatred for Bush
To Quote a Not-So-Wise Man
My Hatred for Dubya
I had a friend recently ask me why I hate George W. Bush so much, so I gave him these reasons. Maybe some of the more conservative types who check in here, will better understand why so many in this country are so fanatical about replacing Dubya, despite having a candidate, John Kerry, that we are lukewarm about.
Let’s start with the beginning of our discontent, the disputed election of 2000. From the beginning, Bush operatives seem miffed at why anyone would even try to recount votes in Florida. There are many reasons why Dems should have done that, all you have to do is look at Jeffrey Toobin book on the subject (just one of the many), but all I should need to say are these two words to Republicans, Jeb Gore.
Despite his claims as a uniter, not a divider and the incredibly torn nation that we lived in after the election, no sense of reaching over to the other aisle existed at all by Dubya. Not one Democratic politician was installed into the new cabinet and the most moderate Republican member (Christie Todd Whitman) was evicted after a short period, because she didn’t fit the pro business/anti environmental thrust of the President. The only true bipartisan bill that Bush has passed was “No Child Left Behind”, which has not been fully funded by the administration and the Republican congress.
With this right-wing agenda being slammed down the throats of Democrats, by Bush and the Republican house, Dems, with just a few exceptions, backed off the President after 9/11 for over a year, as the nation was in no mood for conflict among leaders. Having this extemely unique opportunity of high approval and little opposition, Dubya could have passed through legislation that would have brought the country even closer together, but instead used this moment to push even more of a right-wing agenda, through Congress. If Bush would have been more moderate at this point, I completely believe there wouldn’t even be a Presidential race, as he would have won in a landslide, but it was more important to Bush’s brain and big contributors who run most of the administration’s policy to fulfill all of their desires.
Sure. No Draft.
This is the backdoor draft you've heard about, but not with quite this much color. (I'm a bit dubious on the provenance of this. The link's a bit off and the weather doesn't work, but if this is a hoax, it's a pretty in-depth one.) It's from middle Virginia, according to the stories it shows.
If you don't worry about the draft, don't worry about voting Tuesday.
As the Big Dog would say, "don't stop thinking about tomorrow" - or rather, Tuesday. However ...
... the "Bush Bulge" story has been followed tirelessly by Cryptome.org, a spooky site with all manners of secretive stuff. I think it's mostly in the public interest, though the manufacturing pattern of RDX really worries me.
Anyway, he points to this picture, directly from the White House (check the URL) and from 2002. Bush is on his Crawford ranch and clearly has a very similar bulge under his t-shirt.
Let's assume that Bush, despite the presence of the press, didn't need an IFD in his ear. Let's assume that on his ranch, Bush doesn't regularly wear Kevlar. So what the frick is it?
My earlier guess was some sort of handle so that the Secret Service could yank him out of the way if need be. *Buzz* An old Navy buddy now ... ummm, let's call it in the know, not only said no, but that it would be stupid to put a handle in an inaccessible place like under a shirt and coat. Good points.
Back brace? It's too high for the ones I know, though Bush has never had any recorded back problems. For all his faults, Bush is reasonably fit, not overweight, and people with back problems don't tend to be big on running.
Posture device? Bush certainly has a tendency to slump and slouch, but a simple shoulder pull brace is much less bulky than what this shows. Add in that he still slouches and if it is a posture device, it sucks.
In the end, I'm stumped. Occam's razor doesn't work here, leaving us with the Doylian "No matter the improbability, the only available solution must be correct." I'm not ready to say nor do I think we will ever be able to say with certainty what that thing is/was. I'm just sad that we have a President that won't answer.
Someone read through the archives and read my suggestion for Kerry, the one where he'd say "my first act as President would be to pardon George W. Bush for his crimes and move on to fixing the country." This reader, purportedly a lawyer, said Kerry would not only risk being too negative but that he'd be committing slander. Besides the "defense is the truth" argument, I thought that public figures had to prove a very high standard. Any help?
Getting Me A Sox Jersey, Part 1
I voted today, in what was a relatively painless process. It will surprise none of you that I broke my streak and actually voted for a Democrat for President. I had hoped VotePair would hook me up, but since Nader isn't on the ballot in Indiana, no such luck. There was about a ten minute line, but if you're at all time-constrained next Tuesday, I'd definitely suggest early voting. Every vote is going to be very important since almost all polls show this very close.
This analysis looks interesting, since the shoe could be on the other foot, especially considering the Incumbent rule. My personal best case scenario is a near-split Senate and a near-split House (minus one Tom DeLay), putting the government in a lockdown on most issues that there's rampant disagreement on while leaving the possibility of some compromise on the very important issues like Supreme Court appointments, stem cell research, and getting the Cubs a World Series title.
Time to Congratulate the best Playoff Predictions
I thought it was time to look back, after such a great baseball postseason finished at how the experts stacked up on their pre-playoff prognostication. Well it didn't take long to notice that Scott Long picked every round right. Check out my October 6th post to verify this. Some of my comments from this time period.
"The Red Sox and Twins have a dominant starter that all the NL teams lack. Not one of the NL teams has a top-notch pitching staff, unlike last year with the Cubs and Marlins. The Yankees have a better staff, while the Angels have the best bullpen in baseball."
"Woody Williams, Jason Marquis, and a less than prime Matt Morris doesn't strike fear in a playoff situation. I like their team, but I would put 3 wins on board when Santana and Schilling faced them."
From October 12 posting:"Question: Has there ever been a starting staff worse than the Cards, who ended up pitching in the World Series? Marquis, Williams, Suppan, and a struggling Matt Morris is not what usually puts you in the World Series."
The only NL playoff starting pitcher who had dynamite stats was Clemens and I never felt he would cause problems for AL hitters, as he hadn't pitched this well in the AL since 1998. I do think Oswalt would have caused problems, but the rest of the Astros staff wasn't on that level.
Now I know that there is luck involved in this, as the Red Sox making it past the Yankees is not something I can come off cocky about, but the stats in the World Series really made me appear prescient.
Now I know there is luck involved and not all my analysis was perfect, but since I was slammed by so many, I thought I would mention that Scoreboard is a wonderful thing. (I will not list the names of those I'm talking about, but you know who you are.) Next year, I'm sure will be a whole different outcome for me, but right now I'm going to bask.
Red Sox Win
With the moon blocked, the Curse ended.
Congratulations, Red Sox Nation. I'm just six days from that Manny Ortez jersey.
Check out the side of the bus ... hmmm!
I made a comment the other day that included the stereotype "trailer trash." Several commenters and emailers called me on the carpet (politely and intelligently, thank you) about using a pejorative stereotype. I wouldn't use other terms - nigger, kike, spic, wop, pick your poison - without incurring needful wrath and exposing my own ignorance, so why this one?
Does it excuse me if I'm a Southerner that once lived in a Pontiac? No, certainly not. What then is the solution, or is there even a solution? I think the problem is the use of stereotypes altogether. There are plenty of good, thoughtful, hopeful people living in trailers for one reason or another and it does no good for me to lump them in with ignorance and intolerance any more than it makes sense for someone to look at a middle-aged ex-stockbroker in Indiana and assume my politics.
What I said was not "wrong" in the sense that I'm ashamed of what I said, but instead, it's merely ignorant, something I hope to combat here, even if it is my own. We must cease stereotypes, embracing the individualities of situations and contributions - both in life and in baseball.
Jon Stewart and Crossfire
Over the past week there has been a lot of talk about Jon Stewart's appearance on Crossfire. If you didn't hear about his appearance, during the show, Stewart blasted Tucker Carlson and I guess by near vacinity, Paul Begala saying '"What you do is not honest. What you do is partisan hackery. You have a responsibility to the public discourse, and you fail miserably." Stewart also added that this "is hurting America."
I think what Stewart said was generally right on the money and I'm in awe of how bright and funny he is. He's the best political satirist I've ever heard, as he's smarter than any other political comic and funnier than any politician, plus I'm selling him short by not mentioning that he's smarter than most politician's, also.
Having said all this, I believe he had the right message, but pointed it at the wrong person. No person on any of these "Crossfire" shows tries to be more civil in discussion than Tucker Carlson. Even though I often disagree with him, he's immensely more fair than James Carville, who just rams his talking points at all opposition or Robert Novak, who pushes the Republican party line, even though you can tell that sometimes he doesn't belive in it. Begala is a less bombastic version of Carville and I have problems with them appearing as commentators on the Presidential campaign, when they have been working behind the scenes helping the Kerry campaign. (By the way, when George Will was in this same circumstance, as his wife was working on the Bob Dole campaign, I felt that was wrong, also.) I like both Carville and Begala, but I think they work better as guests, not interviewers.
I know a lot of my Democratic friends hate Carlson, but I think you need to take a closer look. Carlson and Bill Press did a show together on CNN a few years ago that tried to not be like Crossfire, having discussions that weren't so ideological, but the show failed, as the cable news viewers didn't connect with it. Carlson's weekly show on PBS titled Unfiltered is an excellent show, taking on the major political news of the week, with a healthy dose of cyncism. Just last week his guests were James Webb, former Secretary of the Navy and sometimes critic of the current Iraq war, NPR's Weekend Edition Host, Scott Simon, and comedian/actor Harry Shearer. Hardly a group you would consider Right-wing.
Jon Stewart was right on the money with his screed against these Crossfire-type shoutfests, but he chose the wrong guy to spit his venom at. I would be far more impressed if Stewart would have sent his message to Sean Hannity, as there is a guy who never admits any wrong from his side of the political fence.
I'm sure Boston, more than anyone, isn't overconfident up 3-0. I can't help but hear this in my head ...
Dr. Peter Venkman : This city is headed for a disaster of biblical proportions.
And Johnny Damon will save us all.
Where Ken's At
I get a lot of email questions asking where Ken Arneson went and why he "left" WCP. Ken's still here, just not writing publicly. Instead, he's working behind the scenes on tons of infrastructure improvements for All-Baseball.
His latest improvement is direct links to the BP Davenport Translation cards. I know most don't see beyond the links (which in the past have gone to Baseball Reference or ESPN) but that's the beauty of great technology. It makes the writer's life easier and better while seamlessly integrating into the reader's experience.
Here's a demonstration. To link these names, I just pressed a button. Corey Patterson. Jayson Werth. Albert Pujols. Joe DiMaggio. Pedro Martinez. Robb Nen. Carlos Beltran. Ichiro Suzuki. Scott Kazmir. Abe Alvarez. Eric Hinske. Jason Kubel. Craig Counsell. Pretty cool, eh?
So, while we all miss Ken's writing and hope he'll do more of it soon, he's still here, in "body" and in spirit.
Buster Olney may be the new Phil Rogers.
Olney was a good beat writer from what I understand and seems to be a nice guy, but I also can't remember a time when I've agreed with anything he's written. That's fine - he's obviously got his fans and a nice gig at ESPN.
In this article he simply misses the point, trusting his "lying eyes" over facts. Call it an attack on reality-based baseball. Olney says that the Cardinals inability to miss bats is what's doing them in. In fact, it's part of what got them there.
Using a "studs and scrubs" strategy, the Cards were able to build a powerful lineup with some obvious holes. The starting pitching was adequate because they had five decent pitchers, all of relatively equal talent and results, who were relatively cheap. (Matt Morris underperformed, to be sure.) Pitchers like Jeff Suppan and a rejuvenated Chris Carpenter succeeded in large part because they were efficient, throwing TO bats and allowing an excellent defense to carry them. By being efficient, a weak front of the bullpen was rendered mostly irrelevant, hiding another problem.
Arguing that the Cards can't succeed because they can't miss bats is intuitive, but incorrect. Simply put, they probably wouldn't be there if they hadn't done this all season. They lost Game One because they got outslugged and they lost Game Two because they didn't slug; these two things didn't happen much on the way to 105 wins.
The Cards can win by doing what they've done 112 other times this season. Inferring that their $30 million shortfall is the cause is as weak as Mike Matheny with a bat in his hand.
Eminem goes nuclear (or is that "nuculer") on Bush in his latest video. There is no frickin' way that this one's going to end up on MTV, even after the election.
As powerful a message as Fahrenheit 9/11 without the need for fact check? Maybe. I'm not sure how much I can support a misogynistic gay-baiting trailer trash like Eminem or what it says that he may be the voice of a generation, but for this video, this song, this beat, this message ... I'm down.
Political Question of the Day
I watched Terry McAuliffe, Democratic Party Chairman, on one of the TV talkshows and just like every other time I've seen him, he came off creepy and annoying. I always find myself appreciating the way his counterpart offers his points, Republican Party Chairman, Ed Gillespie, despite being generally aligned with McAuliffe's party.
I realize that McAuliffe has been a top-line fund raiser and I also know that his job is about being a bulldog for his candidate, but McAuliffe just makes me feel queasy when stating his party's case.
This brings me to this question. Which person who is involved with your party, do you dislike the most? Answer this by stating what would be the best description of where you are at politically. My example would be, Moderate Democrat- Terry McAuliffe.
By the way, Democrats, please do not list Zell Miller, as anyone Sean Hannity lists as "a Democrat he can respect" is no longer aligned with the Dems.
I'll just give you the raw quote, then point you to tomorrow's UTK:
"If it were today, no way. Not a chance. Everything [the sutures] attach to is tearing away from the bone. There's no way that even a World Series game as important as [what Game Six] would be could change things. [The doctors] will be looking to see if [the procedure] can be changed between now and Friday, but don't count on it. Even Curt Schilling can't pitch on one leg. (pause.) I think."
Seeing RED is not just a STATE of Mind
I've been on a comedy tour of the Deep (not so, in thought) South this week and what an eye opener. A little background on myself would tell you that I've performed comedy in every section of the country, but what I've experienced here is remarkable, as I've never dealt with such close-mindedness. I've perfomed in small cities in Montana, Kentucky, and Texas, all places that are firmly in the red state category, but what I've dealt with in Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi, has been completely new to me.
In my comedy routine, I have a 5-10 minute block where I discuss how I think it's sad that Bush and Kerry are the best this country has to offer, as I feel their membership in the Lucky Sperm Club is the biggest reason they've achieved their current nominations. I then discuss how Lincoln, Reagan, and yes, even Bill Clinton, I have a lot more respect for, as they came from little to rise to the highest job in America.
I had a woman in Alabama, after I mentioned Clinton, go so apeshit over his name, that she needed a padded room with some Samsonite luggage to calm down. She kept repeating the mantra that no President should ever be elected who didn't serve his country. I mentioned to her that she sure must have not liked John Adams, Woodrow Wilson, FDR, or Andrew Jackson, as they never served in the military, and Reagan and Dubya never saw any combat time, despite major wars going on when they were enlisted. I then said I'm guessing she must be supporting Kerry with that decision-making equation. HELL NO, of course was her answer and I went into my intellectual dick jokes to get through the show, getting judgemental looks from some of the good Christians who were out on a Wednesday night getting completely shit-faced on Budweiser and Jager.
You might ask, well why would you go down to these states and push this agenda on them? Well, I don't push any particular political agenda on the audience, only that I feel we have bad candidates to choose from. The majority of crowds I perform for are Republican, as I mainly perform for White Midwesterners, but they generally seem open-minded enough and not stuck in some kind of cult-like patriotism towards their political party that they can't enjoy a little political humor, even when some of it's pointed at the home team. I've never wanted to just preach to the converted, like most edgy comics do who live on the East and West coast, as I that is not much different than Dick Cheney on the campaign tour.
I grew up White Trash in small-town Iowa, with 2 parents who never graduated from college, so I don't percieve myself as some kind of intellectual elitist. This week, though, has made me feel more isolated from this region of the country, as I've spent every night dealing with crowds who seem to want nothing more than Redneck stories which end with "Get er' done".
Please don't take this commentary, as an attack on all Republicans or all people who live in Red states, as I don't feel that way at all. I know judging comedy audience's might not be the most scientific way of measuring people's attitudes, but what people laugh at when they've had a few libations is a lot better rating system in my book, then what a Harris pollster can come up with.
Being in the Deep South has made me realize that I have more in common with the citizens of Canada, Mexico, and Europe, than I do with this region of the country. Every state has their own nutjob extemists, but in the 3 states I've been in this week, it just seems to permeate every facet of their inhabitant's lives. I know I'm going back to preaching to the non-converted and leaving the absolutists to their swamp land fervor.
One of the topics that interests me most in sabermetrics is what I call "spectrum equilibrium." We all know that certain positions are nominally harder to play and that there's a premium for defense at those positions. There's also an ability to contribute runs/wins despite having a negative offensive or defensive contribution if the opposite contribution is great enough.
The easy example is Derek Jeter. It's a never ending debate about Jeter's value, including a recent and amazingly ignorant NY Times article. This year, Jeter had a +3 Fielding Rating, changing the discussion slightly. In 2003, Jeter put up a -21 rating. His offensive value of 53.9 VORP translates out to 32 by simple math, but there's better than simple available.
WARP3 includes defense and gives Jeter a 4.7 WARP3, meaning that the negative fielding rating doesn't have quite the negative effect we'd expect. Now, I don't know the numbers behind any of these ratings, so we'll just trust in the BP braintrust. For those of you that like Win Shares, WARP3 shows similar results - Jeter's 26 Win Shares are a near match to his 8.9 WARP3. (Win Shares for some unknown reason equal 1/3 of a win.)
So, no matter how bad Jeter's defense was (or how he improved this season), Jeter's bat made it smart for the Yankees to play him there. We'll never know how the team might have been changed by Alex Rodriguez playing short, so why bother worrying. My interest is more in figuring how we can find the best configuration to maximize the win potential of a team.
Could Manny Ramirez play shortstop? If only for comedic value, the answer would be yes, but just how bad would it be? I'd be curious if he'd be bad enough to turn his 70 VORP into a negative. Actually, the more interesting question is if he would have a -55 rating, since Orlando Cabrera had a 15.2 VORP and a -1 FR. (What? -1 for the "defensive wizard"?)
The Red Sox make this decision with an offensive player with a bad fielding reputation and a player with a stellar defensive reputation and a decent stick each day. Kevin Millar has gotten most of the starts down the stretch for the Red Sox despite Doug Mientkiewicz's rep as a glove man. Once again, the numbers don't match up. Minky comes back with a -5 FR in Boston (0 in Minnesota) while Millar had a +1!" We know Boston knows numbers, so Millar's 5.3 WARP3 is a clear choice above Minky's 0.9.
There's a lot of work to be done on this subject, but it all might be rendered moot by the advances of technology. MLB's "true range" project might render all this moot by making an exciting advance -- one that will be sabermetric yet not mathematical.
** All defensive numbers are available on the amazing Davenport Translation cards at BP. Call me biased, but they're one of the best baseball tools I've seen. **
St. Louis vs. Boston.
Call it a victory for W3, Pythagorean records, or whatever, we have the two best teams by some measures facing off in the finals. I like that, even if it means accepting the wild card.
We have games won by good baseball. Both teams have definite Moneyball roots. Focus on the sac bunts all you want, but the Cards won on homers, doubles, and balls.
The ratings are great, the baseball is dramatic, and any question of what America's #1 sport is should be by the boards. Fenway. Busch. Redbirds. Red Sox. Pujols. Ramirez. Izzy. Foulke.
I'm four games and an election away from that Manny Ortez jersey, Dirt Dogs! Cards fans, if you have a suggestion, I'm open.
Just in case you wondered like I did.
Though I'm still liking living in a condo.
Some Playoff observations you will only get here
Did the Red Sox players almost without exception, sport facial hair or wild hair-do's, just to magnify their difference from the Yankees. The Red Sox are the mangiest-looking team since the 1970's A's. Whatever the reason, as someone who believes superficial rules have little to do with discipline and integrity, I like it.
Is it just me or does Mike Timlin and Julian Taverez look like two guys who should appear on ABC's Extreme Makeover.
I watched David Ortiz for a few years with the Twins and I truly had no idea that guy would become the awesome force he has become. TFD, feel free to weigh in.
I recall at the start of the year that I thought Javier Vasquez and Kevin Brown were an upgrade to Andy Pettite and Roger Clemens. I can't blame the Yanks for their decisions on the pitching staff, as not re-signing Pettite was a good move and who was going to guess that Clemens was going to be way better than Vasquez.
What should be discussed more is how the Yankees batting order had a lot of mediocre starters in it. Miguel Cairo, Tony Clark, and Ruben Sierra were the worst examples at the second base, first base, and DH position of the 4 AL playoff teams. I mean the Yankees played Kenny Lofton at DH in game 7. What in the name of massive payrolls was that about?
I love Peter Gammons, but Pete, it would have been a little more professional if you would have acted like you weren't on cloud nine, while interviewing the triumphant Red Sox. It was almost like watching Ahmad Rashad interview Michael Jordan after winning the NBA championship.
Subject that one of the stat studs who comment here should check up on; has there been a playoffs where relief pitching was so much better than the starting pitchers?
Well, if it was any question, this playoffs have clinched it, baseball is clearly the second most popular sport next to football, in the US. The NBA is in free-fall, as the Lakers demise and the Olympic b-ball disaster just made it more obvious.
You're Watching Fox
Yes, you are. Everyone is. On Monday night (ACLS Game Five), Fox's game TRIPLED Monday Night Football, the once-unassailable totem of the NFL. It also won in the male demos, esp the 18-35 that supposedly isn't "watching tv" anymore. Not only that, but the NLCS - mostly on FX - also doubled the NFL ratings. In hopes of getting on David Hill's good side, I'll commend Fox for their coverage. The "Diamond View" is crap, McCarver's often McCarver, but overall, great coverage.
With both series going to Seven, a golden matchup in the AL, great play in the NL (and Clemens on the mound tomorrow), could Fox have scripted this any better? My suggestion: A Babe Ruth lookalike sitting in the Yankees dugout or at least a big part of the pre-game festivities.
In comments, what's yours?
Baseball Journalism at it's Finest
I want to recommend a great piece on what Curt Schilling went through last night. The writer goes way beyond the normal journalistic effort, describing on many levels what was happening with Schilling last night. The writer is some guy named William Carroll. My hat's off to you, Mr. Carroll, though I ask you to keep your's on, as I think it's a better look for you.
I've done a piece for the YES Network on Curt Schilling. It's up now here if anyone's interested. The guys I've met at YES are great and I'm excited to have a by-line there.
And yes, Schilling is officially insane.
Is That Flannel Shirt Red or Blue?
Rob Neyer on ESPNNews today ...
"Those of us in the reality-based community think ..."
Hmm, I think there's one vote in Oregon we can count on. I was wondering how long the "reality-based" meme would take to transfer to the Moneyball discussion.
Here's the sitch: leadoff hitter up in the first inning. Eight percent of first pitch balls in play go for hits.
So, what does this tell us? Craig Burley - a great thinker and great guy to walk through Toronto with - took a hard look at the situation and many more, coming back to that first pitch strike.
The problem is what a professor called "binary thinking" back in a course at A&M. No matter that the course was a religion course, it holds for many things. Black. White. On. Off. Strike. Ball. Democrat. Republican. Simplifying things works to deconstruct and simplify matters, but if we're not careful, we'll miss important details that lie in the gray area.
In this case, we're missing important information. "Strike one" doesn't tell us much. In some cases, I'll bet that some of the pitches were NOT strikes, just merely hit into play because a hitter liked what he saw. There's also some bias implicit in that impatient hitters are likely to hit worse than those that don't. Is this first pitch good? Is it nasty? Is it a fastball or curve? Up or down? What's the hitter like? How many take the first pitch, further skewing the data?
Tracing the path of Craig's thinking from this article and it's mate, through Carlos Gomez and Dave Duncan's pitch analysis, we're missing more information than we have. It doesn't take much analysis to know that strike one is an important pitch, that avoiding walks and staying ahead in the count will help any pitcher. Craig's made a good start here, but his next step - discerning HOW to pitch that first strike - is the one I'll want to read.
Continuing the music scene ...
Hearing "concept album" usually makes me run. Worse, Green Day isn't the band you'd expect to even try a concept, even one as loosely organized as "American Idiot." Thematically a cycle of interconnected songs tracing the modern disaffected youth oddly trying to organize behind the 'punk' ethos, somehow the album just works.
On their best day, Green Day is a pop-punk answer to The Clash. On their worst, they exude a label-induced sheen that turns off both the pop radio ear candy searchers and the punks they try to be. As Green Day has grown up, they've also grown. The production is surprisingly clean; it's barely a punk album, whatever that term means.
This is near sacrilege to even consider, let alone write, but the album is a modern day "London Calling." It's not that good and Green Day is no Clash, but the comparison holds. Where London was an defining moment in punk's British roots, Idiot becomes a similar rite-of-passage for American punk music. As more so-called punks move to the emo side or toss it all in for full-on pop excesses like overdubs and dates with Hillary Duff, Idiot is perhaps the first complete album of the movement. That done, the movement can now move on.
"American Idiot" is the song you've likely heard, a nice political call and the song that's actually the least threatening. It's punky, quick, and sharp, but the rest of the album moves quickly from the expected tack. "Jesus of Suburbia" is a near ten minute cycle that stands with the best songs of the last few years. Thoughtful but never pandering, it's the masterpiece of the album. The changing song structure actually recalls the Beatles, though the sound will not be mistaken for them.
Most of the album continues along the cycle, returning to themes both lyrically and musically, only shifting for an acoustic aside called "Wake Me Up When September Ends." The song will remind enough of Green Day's overplayed "Good Riddance" to get radio airplay. The album closes with another long cycle of tunes called "Homecoming" and a throw-in called "Whatsername", putting a decidedly nihilistic conclusion on the album.
"American Idiot" is a great album, one that's surprisingly of a piece and that has more to say inside of three chords than most. I'll wager that few thought that Green Day would be extant a decade after "Dookie", let alone putting out work that stands with the best of the genre. Perhaps it's no "London Calling", but few are. It stands with other genre-challenging albums like Extreme's "Pornografitti", Garth Brooks' "In Pieces," and Outkast's "Stankonia", questioning where not just the band is headed, but the entire movement. It's either pinnacle or turned-corner, but it's well worth a close listen.
Fly or Die
Picked up the latest by the band N.E.R.D. and it kicks. I should begin by saying I'm not a big fan of the Neptunes, the other band Pharell Williams and Chad Hugo are behind, but N.E.R.D. has a funk/rock feel that few bands can pull off. (see Prince and the Time) With influences which span from Curtis Mayfield to the Beatles. "Fly or Die" sounds like a great Terrence Trent D'Arby album.
A little tip from Scott, if you want to download some music for free and skirt the internet issue, go to your local public library and check out some cd's. My local library has a great selection, plus since I pay taxes which go to this library, I feel better morally about the whole downloading issue.
My last excursion there I picked up the latest release by Kid Rock
The initial single was a remake of the classic rock staple by Bad Company, "Feel Like Makin' Love". Not one of that band better tunes, but listening to Kid sing it makes you realize how great Paul Rodgers voice was in comparison. Stick to Kareoke, if you want to wreck classic rock.
Kid Rock's latest has got to be the worst album I've heard over the past year. Time to cut the corner of the CD sleeve and put this one in the bargain bin, where it deserves to be.
I've been asked to be part of a "predict the free agents" contest. Below you'll find my initial ballot, so I'm curious if you can change my opinions.
Why We Fight
Next time I see
Straight Guy on Lesbians
With a title like that, this should be a MUCH more interesting post.
Instead, I saw (via Digby), this quote:
The morning news on Fox just spent half an hour talking about it and came to the conclusion that this was a bigger issue than taxes and the war in Iraq. Then one wondered if the question had been on obesity, if it would have been appropriate for President Bush to bring up Elizabeth Edwards's "problems." I sure wish that all those moms and kids had heard that one.
Holy crap. I'm told that the quote comes from Liz Cheney, daughter of Dick and Lynne, sister of Mary. Basically, she just played the dozens on Emma Claire's mom. If I'm John Edwards, I'm looking to whup someone's Red ass, but John's probably a better, more tolerant man than I am.
You know what really worries me about November 3d? Neither side is going to be a good loser and as divided and angry as the country is - something I don't recall even in the heat of the hunting of Clinton - I can actually foresee more Tim McVeighs, more Sirhan Sirhans, more David Koreshs.
How screwed up are we right now? Armed resistance to the Federal government would not be something I would ever support, but it would not surprise me a damn bit.
Ask The Gay Guy
WCP has always stood both with the All-Baseball Family and apart, willing to go far afield in topics. One of the core values here is allowing everyone a free voice for issues they feel called to speak about. Our latest post from Alex Ciepley is one of the most important we have had. We welcome guest submissions from inside and outside A-B on any and all topics, based on quality, not content.
"We're all God's children. And I think if you were to talk to Dick Cheney's daughter, who is a lesbian, she would tell you that she's being who she was. She's being who she was born as. I think if you talk to anybody, it's not a choice."Kerry, like his running mate Edwards, brought up Dick Cheney's daughter in response to a debate question about gays. Unlike with Edwards, Kerry's mention became a big media story. Kerry's been accused of bringing private affairs into the public, of--get this--smearing gay people for political purposes.
Ask this gay guy what he finds offensive in Kerry's mention of Mary Cheney, and he'll tell you, "nothing". I am, however, furious at how this story has played out in the media.
Mary Cheney is an out lesbian. She's been in charge of gay outreach for Coors, for cryin' out loud. She's also very much a public figure, running operations in Cheney's campaign headquarters. The Republicans (and media at large, I might add) have gleefully tried to paint Kerry as using slander to get votes. I don't see this at all.
more after the jump
Just A Geek
Tivo. iPod. iMac. iBook. (Yeah, pretty much all the i's.) HDTV. Sidekick.
You could say I like gadgets. I rule with the gadgets. Software, not so much.
So, could someone help me with iPodder and BitTorrent?
Better, what's "next" in gadgets or cool tools?
Speaking of geeks, this should get interesting.
*** And if you haven't read the book I stole this post's title from, it's a great read. Check out wilwheaton.net (Link over -->) for more.
Sometimes, it's just too easy.
More Shameless Self-Promotion
Haven't been contributing as much as usual, as I've been really busy with my night job. If you were not aware, besides stand-up comedy, I'm one of the 2 writers for the Frank's picks segment on the NFL on Fox pregame show. The past three weeks have mainly been my work, especially last week's Jim Rome parody. Check it out here if you're interested. This week should be interesting, as a certain fawning interviewer of Actor's is parodied. Now back to the political baseball we play here.
Death By 1,000 Cuts
Which is worse: Losing in a blowout or losing by one? Giving up and coming back for Game Two or expending a ton of energy and coming up just short?
Al Leiter may be the best pitching explainer since Jeff Brantley. He's pretty darn good with the rest of his stuff (and yes, TFD, they were all over the ankle, as was I two days ago.)
How much pressure is on Pedro Martinez? If he doesn't win, they're down 2-0 and the calls from the bleachers are going to echo into Jersey.
Mariano Rivera. Wow.
I haven't heard anyone say anything about this - maybe local to New York. How cool would it be to see Don Mattingly get a ring as a coach? Would that make up for not getting one as a player, even just a little?
One hell of a game. Just the first of what I expect to be one hell of a series.
This is bad. I mean really existentially bad.
And we'll watch the Red Sox - Yankees game tonight, forgetting all the problems of the world.
I hadn't realized that Sy Hersh broke the My Lai story. Someone get William Calley on the line and see what he thinks about Iraq. (He's a jeweler in North Carolina, or was about five years ago. I haven't checked.)
Have Seen Nothing Yet that Changes My Mind
At the start of the playoffs, I commented on how the Red Sox, Yankees, or Twins were superior to anyone they would face in the World Series, as their pitching staffs would make the difference. Well, after watching the first round, I will stick with my statement.
The Astros do have excellent starting pitchers, but they don't have one Schilling or Santana who could win 3 games in a 7 game series. Their bullpen is Brad Lidge and pray. Sure Wheeler and Springer have looked good since September, but are these guys you want pitching in tight situations in the post-season?
Question: Has there ever been a starting staff worse than the Cards, who ended up pitching in the World Series? Marquis, Williams, Suppan, and a struggling Matt Morris is not what usually puts you in the World Series. Last year the Cubs and Marlins had staffs that scared the AL teams. Different year.
I know there has been a lot of ripping on the Yankees starters, but as a 5 man rotation, I would probably take them over all but 5 or 6 staffs in baseball. They also have the one set-up man, Tom Gordon, who might be as good as the other teams closer.
Red Sox versus Yankees is this year's real Championship. The only two things that will keep these teams from winning the World Series in 6 or less games is an injury to a major pitcher or if they have to go 7, while the Astros sweeps it's opponent. I would still go with the AL, but this would give the NL a chance, as it's pitchers would be rested.
The extra millions in payroll are a huge factor in post-season, as depth will win out, unless you have a Beckett-like pitching performance to save you. Houston and St. Louis don't have that weapon.
Here's an "outside the box" suggestion for Phil Garner -
Start Clemens and throw him for two innings, max.
Bring in Oswalt in the third. He also goes two innings, max.
Peter Munro, the likely Game Two starter, comes in and throws two innings.
Some might question if Clemens can do this, but it's essentially what Jack McKeon did last year with Josh Beckett. If Beckett can handle throwing his "side session" in a game rather than the pen, so can Clemens. The normal work cycle for Clemens goes: start, off, off, throw, off, start. That's equal to Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday (Game One), Thursday (Game Two), Friday, Saturday (Game Three). Actually, it's a bit MORE rest.
Yes, you read right. I still think Clemens should start Game Three in Houston. The strategy's weak point might be "what do you do in Game Six?" I think the Astros would just like to make it TO Game Six.
It's better than the alternatives, but I doubt even Phil Garner will have the guts to try something this different.
Drudge is reporting (via Nikki Finke, now confirmed by CNN) that Christopher Reeve has died.
ESPN has confirmed that Ken Caminiti has died.
Both deaths will have meaning, yet both deaths are senseless. I hope that George Bush takes another look at his stance on stem cells. I hope that Bud Selig and Don Fehr take another look at baseball's position on drug testing. I hope that you will take a moment to pause, perhaps pray.
*** Update: Someone I trust reminds me that Caminiti's passing may have more to do with his cocaine use than his steroid use. I guess we'll know soon enough. ***
I'm just curious ... everyone has a favorite team, one they watch and live and die by. How much coverage do we get here at WCP. In comments, please put your team in there. As an example, mine would be:
Please, this is something that may lead to something so JUST the team. No other comments, no woofing, just the team city and name.
*** UPDATE ***
Wow, I didn't expect this kind of turnout. We're still missing four teams: Tampa Bay, Anaheim, San Diego, and Milwaukee. The middle two surprise me, the former and latter don't. So, if you're a fan of one of these teams, chime in now. It's also not too late to "Represent!"
The Twins - Yankees series is being made out to be some great Moneyball vs Scouting, Big Market vs Small Market showdown. It's just two evenly matched teams built two different ways. When I say evenly matched, I mean evenly matched. TFD seems to be prescient with his "Brad Radke is the key" statement.
I'll question Gardenhire's decision to leave Nathan in for the third inning, but I love the way he's handled Johan Santana. Someone please explain to me why the usage patterns we're seeing in the playoffs - short but more frequent starts, firemen not closer - can't be used in season.
Josh Lewin pointed out the Homer Hankies may take away from the noise level in the Dome. Scott McCauley's been pointing this out as well. As noisy as the Twins fans can be, I'm not sure Yankee Stadium won't be just as loud if there's a Game Five.
The Red Sox look tough. They'll go with the same rotation in the ALCS - Curt Schilling, Pedro Martinez, Bronson Arroyo, and maybe Tim Wakefield. Neither the Yanks nor Twins get good matchups. I *think* that if the Twins win, we could get a Martinez vs Santana matchup in Game Two.
I'm glad I don't have to make a decision that Phil Garner is facing. Roger Clemens on short rest or Peter Munro? I think I'd go with Munro. Clemens would be well set up for Game Five with Brandon Backe moving to the 2 slot for the NLCS (assuming they make it, Braves fans.) Roy Oswalt, then Backe and Clemens still gives the team their best pitchers in Games Six and Seven. If they're down 3-1 in Game Five, obviously all bets are off so it wouldn't matter that Clemens wouldn't be starting.
You've voted in the Internet Baseball Awards, haven't you? If not, get over to BP and do so. You don't have to be a paying subscriber to vote and there's some very interesting categories. My suggestion to give a trophy to second place in the NL didn't take.
I'm sorry for Jay Jaffe and Jon Weisman. The Dodgers will likely get swept out tonight in LA. I thought that the Cardinals would be vulnerable in a short series but eight runs of support per game renders any pitching weakness moot. A Cards-Astros series will be interesting in the "good pitching beats good hitting" sense.
Eight seems to be the magic number in these playoffs. Five teams have won, scoring eight runs in a game. There's been a couple nines as well. It looks to me like runs are up in the playoffs, but it's obviously a small sample size.
Why aren't commercials in HD? You'd think this would be a great opportunity for some products to stand out, to look bolder and brighter, especially for things like laundry detergent or cars.
Since they cheered him when they thought he was retiring, what might the reception of a burnt-orange Roger Clemens be in Boston? Add in Jeff Bagwell and Red Sox Nation will be dealing with a lot of karma if that series happens. (Long way before we get there.)
Would a Game Seven of the World Series factor into the election? I'm not sure who it would benefit, but with only one day between the end of the Series and Election Day, I'm not sure it's not a big deal. If the Sox win the World Series and Kerry makes the White House, I'm buying a "Manny Ortez" jersey.
While I'm sure there would be more laughs if you went and saw Scott Long in St. Louis, the Presidential Debate was ... interesting.
Dred Scott? I mean, way to take a stand against slavery, Dubya. My instanalysis? Kerry won, but Bush was better in the second half. Neither connected with a knockout blow or, more importantly, the audience. I think the format had something to do with it.
The spin, on the other hand, is going to focus on three things:
1. Kerry looking into the camera and saying, essentially "read my lips: no new taxes." That's going to change some votes, if leave him open in 2008.
2. Bush's freakout. That moment gives play to Bush's raspy, yelling tone for the first half. For a runner, he seemed out of breath much of the debate.
3. "Need more wood?" Keith Olbermann scored the debate (arbitrarily), called it a draw, but then came back with the classic line of the debate:
Like Cheney winning on Tuesday only to lose on the appearance that he lied about meeting Edwards, Bush is going to regret getting that laugh about wood.
This week in St. Louis
Is there a city with more happening than in St. Louis this week? Cardinal games, two shows from the Vote for Change Tour, and the Presidential Debate tomorrow night. Of course, the biggest event in the St. Louis area this weekend is Scott Long performing at the Funny Bone Comedy Club in Fairview Heights. I have free tickets to offer anyone on this blog for Friday night or Sunday night, so send me an email if you want to take me up on this.
What We're Losing
It makes it worse seeing the "No WMD" and "No Iraq-al Qaeda Links" headlines, doesn't it? I guess I forget that Bush really doesn't give a flying f--k about our troops. It's not his daughters fighting.
Baseball Picks (Feeling Leftout)
Will and TFD Playoff picks are prominently posted at All-Baseball.com, so I thought I would post my selections. Of course, some games have already been played, so these picks are suspect, but I can promise you that I sent out these selections to friends before Tuesday.
Yankees over Twins in 5- Santana will win both of his games, but unfortunately, the Twins will fall short in the other 3. TFD was right, as Radke is the key to series and he's just not good enough.
Red Sox over Angels in 4- Angels can't get the early leads it needs to win. Bullpens can't cover for mediocre starting pitching in the Playoffs.
Astros over Braves in 4- To be honest, both NL series are dull compared to the AL series. Only the Cardinals have a chance to win against any of the 4 AL representatives.
Cards over Dodgers in 4- Dodgers will win one in LA, but that's it.
Red Sox over Yanks in 6- Oh (insert favorite Deity) do I hope this happens.
Cards over Astros in 5- Oswalt gets only win, as Clemens get lit up by Cards murderous offense.
Red Sox over Cards in 6- It's possible that if the Red Sox get past the Yankees, they will consider it their ultimate hurdle, not focusing enough on the Biggest Prize. I expect Schilling to win his games, as the Cards have no one who can compete with him. Wakefield will be a big factor for the Sox, also.
OK, I've put it out there.
O Canada Cars
Quick question for Canucks: Can someone from the US buy/lease a car in Canada, then drive it home? I think the problem might be financing, but who knows what kind of freakshow laws there might be.
The VP Debate Reviewed
The most famous political debate of this century was Kennedy/Nixon in 1960. The thing that is most remembered about the debate was that people who listened on radio thought Nixon won, while people who watched it on TV thought Kennedy won.
Since I was in transit, I listened to the whole VP debate on radio and my overall review would have been giving Edwards a slight edge. Considering that I'm a big fan of Edwards and go along with his politics a lot more than Cheney, I would admit that I'm biased, so I guess I should say if I could shut off my biases, Cheney might have barely won the debate.
Listening to the debate breakdown with Chris Matthews and his crew, you would have thought, though, that Edwards was completely overmatched. Matthews made it seem like Cheney was far superior to Edwards, which I definitely don't think happened. On CNN, the point of view was that the debate was a draw and on Fox, Sean Hannity controlled most of the post-debate coverage, so you can guess who he went with.
Watching some of the replay of the debate, I was struck by thinking that most women watching the two would have sided with Edwards. Obviously looks has something to do with this (by the way guys, don't think this is just a female trait, as who would rate higher in a debate, Diane Feinstein or Jennifer Granholm), but also the way he speaks in a style that's much more relatable to women than the other 3 candidates.
I know that it's been reported that many female swing voters (aka soccer moms) have put domestic issues on the backburner and are most concerned about security, but Edwards spoke tough enough about military strength and at the same time showed a compassionate side that Cheney is incapable of doing.
This is why I'm not surprised that most of the undecided voters (around 70%) thought Edwards won the debate. Sure a majority of Men like Matthews got all tingly watching Cheney come off large and in charge, but Edwards is helping Kerry gain back the gender gap he needs to control to win the 2004 race.
Welcome to TFD's Twin Blog
Look for Wednesday's off-day coverage of the Twinkies, where TFD goes over each hour of the off-day for his favorite team. Here's just one exciting sneak preview of what you have in store.
8:30AM Joe Nathan orders wheat toast, topped with light margarine and a tangy, orange marmalade.
Exit, Stage South
The news was expected but few seemed to notice. There's a small note on cubs.com but since June, most have known that there would be new announcers in Wrigley Field next season and for the first time since the early eighties, the man behind the mic will not be named Caray.
Chip Caray has left the Cubs to join the Braves announce team which includes his father, the underrated Skip Caray. While Chip insisted the decision had not been finalized until this week and had nothing to do with the Steve Stone controversy, both dance around the story.
There were two major factors in the move: the move of many Cubs games to Comcast Sportsnet and the death of his uncle, Chris Caray. After his uncle's passing, Chip sensed that he wanted to be closer to his father. Nothing wrong with that. Comcast wants to create it's own "brand" and new announcers could help with this.
Add in the possible exit of Sammy Sosa - yes, the Cubs will shop him heading into his walk year - and the Cubs off-season could be every bit as dramatic as the Cubs second half. When the team takes the field next season, it's unclear who the voice may be. Early contenders include the radio team of Pat Hughes and Ron Santo, former announcer (and current Rangers announcer) Josh Lewin, and Marlins announcer Len Kasper.
Two separate sources have told me that Steve Stone has had "ongoing discussions" with the White Sox in regards to their commentary position. The idea of a Hawk and Stony show is ... well, I'd watch just to see, much in the same way I probably couldn't turn my head from an actual train wreck.
One of those sources also told me that the Tribune is "locked in" on Jon Miller (Giants, ESPN). I love Miller and think that would be a pretty good pick if they can get him.
The final part of this update is that the Cubs *are* considering ending the "guest conductor" parade. Frankly, it's tired and there's better ways to remember Harry.
The Long Shadow of Michael Lewis
With Beane and Ricciardi home for October, only the Red Sox are left as standard-bearers for the "Moneyball" ethos. Only Theo's boys will challenge the scouting scoundrels that populate baseball. Right?
I wrote just after reading Moneyball that bringing a sabermetric focus to an organization required desperation or domination; either a team had no other chance at success (Oakland, Toronto) or were dominated by someone enough to enforce a philosophy (Oakland, Boston).
"Moneyball" has been sneaking in the backdoor. Unlike the touted signing of Bill James in Boston - admittedly the marquis free agent - teams have been hiring analysts, consultants and their own versions of Bill James for a while with an acceleration over the last twelve months. Ron Shandler, Mat Olkin, Mitchell "MGL" Lichtmann, and even yours truly have gone on the payroll of teams that might just surprise you.
What's better is, some of them are winning.
St. Louis showed in June that they would draft using "Moneyball" principles, yet their team seems constructed more like a fantasy league "studs and scrubs" strategy. Could that work? Sure looks like it. Maybe a LIMA staff or a four-man rotation is next.
The Yankees, led by Gene Michael, emphasized OBP years ago, playing "Moneyball" with more money. It's the team Billy Beane would put together if he had a real payroll. Gary Sheffield over Vladimir Guerrero? It may have been Steinbrenner's choice, but just look at the OBP and relative cost.
Can we call the Dodgers a "Moneyball" team? There's as much credit for Dan Evans and Logan White as there is for Paul "The Laptop Kid" DePodesta in the lineup. Still, let's give Paul the credit for the brass balls trade that Bill Plaschke said doomed the team. That trade - which admittedly didn't work out due to injury - gives this team a DePodesta stamp and firmly locks them in the "Moneyball" camp.
So yes, the A's are out, doomed by a bullpen that gave no relief all season and a rotation that wore out trying to hide that pen. It's 4-4 this season and after two years of bad luck in the coinflip that is the playoffs, statistics say that the "Moneyball" side is due to win one.
I'll bet Michael Lewis is wearing a Red Sox cap come Tuesday. It's hardly his only choice.
And yes, I know that "Moneyball", performance analysis, and sabermetrics are not synonyms. I do however think that "Moneyball" remains the Gladwellian tipping point for the movement. I prefer "arbitrage baseball," but I'll stick with the term that most know ... and is the shortest to type.
Pedro Has A What?
Not that I have anything against midgets, dwarves or even short people, but this is something straight out of "Iowa Baseball Confederacy." I wish I had my copy handy. I know it's based on reality, so I'm off to do some midget research.
You have GOT to be kidding me.
Maybe there is Something to that Goat
Looking a little more closely at the Cubs debacle against the Reds, it's even more pathetic. The Stud starting pitchers the Reds put up against the Cubs were Aaron Harang, Josh Hancock, and Luke Hudson. The relief pitchers the Reds put up in these games were John Riedling (5.21 ERA), Gabe White (6.94), Jose Acevedo (6.01), Juan Padilla (7.11), Mike Matthews (6.52), Todd Van Poppel (6.12), and Joe Valentine (5.40). This group gave up a total of 7 runs over a 3 game period.
The first question after listing this staff is "who are most of these guys", the second would be did they pitch for the Rockies and get traded before the Cubs series. The Cubs lineup has more impressive hitting pasts of any NL team outside of St. Louis, but they managed 1 run and 3 runs in two consecutive 12 run games. Watching this series, you would think that all the position players for the Cubs were celebrating some religious holiday, ala Shawn Green, and just decided to rest during their at bats. Will is right, the Cubs don't deserve to be in the playoffs.
I'm a boxing fan, so Kerry wins on points. Better, he's heading into the "Town Hall" format that Bush tried to avoid. Bush simply doesn't connect well, think quickly (more on this later), and he's out of practice. There will be no loyalty oath at the debate, I hope.
Kerry? I worry about his patrician air (which can be spun easily. Try this - "Wow, doesn't Kerry kind of look like what John-John might have if he lived to sixty?") and his winding thoughts. My hope rests on a report from Friend of UTK/WCP Josh Orenstein. Maybe he'll comment here but I remember him saying that Kerry rocked the house in a town hall that he attended.
These instant polls are crap. Can we learn anything from them? Maybe. GOTV (Get Out The Vote) is perhaps the biggest difference-maker in the actual election. These polls may be some type of indicator. Atrios, Kos and others seem to have outflanked the Freepers and Insties on this one.
DNC, get a check. Make it out to those two, maybe a couple more. There's your "rapid response" force. Kos may be the Democratic Karl Rove (and yes, that's a compliment) in a few more cycles.
In Texas, Dubya was considered a joke heading into his debate with the sharp tongue of Ann Richards back in '94. No one gave him much of a shot outside of name recognition, funding, and Karl in the back room. The debate was a real turning point as the Yale-educated Bush turned up the rhetoric, beat back Richards' barbs, and generally wiped the floor with the then-Governor.
So, "wha' happened?"
There's about ten different Dubyas. There's Midland George, a young, stupid guy living off Daddy's money, drinking and hoping his wife couldn't find the keys. There's Governor George, who was sharp and well-spoken, not only pronouncing words, but using them in complete sentences. Now, we have Stumbling George, seemingly lost off his talking points.
Watching tonight, I think I spotted the difference. George pauses in front of big or complex words. Instead of the normal "he's an idiot" meme, I think he may be doing it intentionally. He deliberately dodged using the word "Baathist", doubling back to say "Saddam followers" only to double back again and say Baathist a few sentences later. It may be just tonight, so tell me if I'm way off base here.
And a baseball thought: I'll always love them, but the Cubs don't deserve to win. They're that friend that you always think will get his shit together and make something of himself. I guess they have a couple more shots this weekend and I'll cheer. On BPR this week though, I'll be wearing my Giants cap that I picked up at PacBell last year. If that doesn't work, I'm hoping Alex Belth and Jay Jaffe can use some company for the playoffs.
Polls, Damned Polls, and Lies
One of the smartest guys I know was involved in a discussion just after the debates. I wish I could credit him with this, but at least we can bask in his knowledge:
I've worked fairly frequently with polling organizations, and the entire industry is in an upheaval. By and large, the trend in polling has dramatically turned over the past 12 years. They used to run 2-4 points more liberal than reality, and about 5-6 points less racist than reality -- 10-15 points in the South.
Consider the polls just prior to the 2000 Presidential election:
The models applied by the various polling agencies are surprisingly simple in most cases, and in many cases, as dumb as turnips. Many of them were developed in the '50s, and the assumptions used to create the models are often just plain loopy. Add in the non-response factor, and the fact that these companies don't really know what tweaking to do for young voters, and the fact that cellphones have totally confused these guys, and I trust the polls less than I trust Bud Selig. At one major polling organization, I have heard the COO say, in a rather large meeting, "It's a good thing that we're slightly less inept than Gallup."
Right now, polls run conservative compared to reality, at least in individual races. And don't spend too much time worrying about whether the poll is surveying registereds or likelies. The distinction's questionable even before the survey design, and the methods for determining likelies are akin to predicting exactly when a 40 HR guy will actually hit the HR.
They're pretty much Win Shares.
Unless Bush has an average 5 point lead in the polls on November 1, I expect the big news story on November 3rd to be the surprising margin by which Kerry won. The Democrats have a better ground game nationwide this time, which is surprising. If African-American turnout is high, it could even be perceived (or, more accurately, spun) as a mandate.
Of course, the GOP is far better at actually executing, so it's not inconceivable that Kerry could be down 15 points on November 1st, especially if his off-message celebrity proxies like Aaron MacGruder continue their brainless performances on the cable shows.
But I'm a data guy and the data strongly suggests that the polls are more conservative than reality.
Societal Critic at Large: Scott Long
About the Toaster
Baseball Toaster was unplugged on February 4, 2009.
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