Monthly archives: May 2004
What was that pitch count again?
Kristen Schmidt of LSU threw about 350 pitches yesterday in the women's NCAA softball College World Series. (I didn't catch the exact number.) She pitched two complete games, and then 6 2/3 innings of a third game before her team was eliminated by California.
I watched the second and third games she played yesterday on ESPN2. By the fifth inning of the third game, she was clearly completely exhausted.
Will, is the underhand softball pitch any less stressful on the arm than the overhand baseball pitch? What is the baseball equivalent of 350 softball pitches?
Cal vs. UCLA tonight for the championship. Go Bears!
Dude, Where's My Car?
Eating breakfast Saturday morning, I took a peek out my front window. Then I stood up, walked over to the window, and stared out.
"Um...um..." I stammered. "Where's my car?"
My car had been parked out on the street overnight, and now she was wasn't there. Gone. Our eight years together came to an end, just like that.
I called the police and reported her stolen. But somehow it doesn't feel like theft. It feels almost like she left on her own.
Frankly, our relationship had been rather rocky lately. I never told her, but I was secretly planning on replacing her with a younger model as soon as I landed a new job. Perhaps she sensed that. Perhaps she knew the end was near, and dumped me before I could dump her.
Or maybe it's just one of those midlife crisis things. You know, one night you can't get to sleep and you realize, "I gotta see the Indy 500 once before I die," and so you just get up and leave for Will Carroll country.
The policeman said it's not unusual to get your car back within a few weeks or so. Perhaps. But even if she returns to me, I have to face the truth. It's been nice, I'll always cherish the memories of our time together, but you know how it is. It's sad, but our relationship is over.
Blogging The 500
Pretty cool ... I've got wireless access here in the Media Center and can blog from the Indy 500. Don't get me started on the massive differences between media here and with baseball. Suffice it to say that media relations here actually lives up to the term, not seeing themselves as gatekeepers, but as helping to promote their sport.
The weather is the biggest story so far. Rain early, rain coming. It's nice now and the track looks dry, but the stands are pretty empty here at 8.30 local.
With no sleep, I'm not thinking much about anything that's really worth writing. This post is more to say "isn't it cool that I can do this from anywhere?"
Dangerously stepping into Will territory
I hate to scoop Will on an injury, but here is the truth. Much has been made and said about Sammy Sosa's sneezing injury, but what isn't known is that it happened before the game, while playing a mean game of PEPPER.
Can a brutha get a drum fill, please.
A lot asked for some images to help my explanation of the gyroball.
I hope this works.
Wired Magazine is getting baseball happy lately. First, on the site, there's a very interesting article on MLB.com and their technology, which Wired heralds as groundbreaking.
In the magazine (and June 3 on the web), there's a great article about the A's use of technology and biomechanics.
Check both out.
The Science of Pitch Counts
If someone wants to question my authority on pitch counts, asking me what my standing is to question them, fine. That's not a battle I'll fight. I'm a writer and researcher, but this isn't about me.
If they want to question the science behind the need for pitch counts, that's a battle I'll fight - because there's no doubt of the outcome. Here's the study done for pitch counts in youth baseball.
The best technique the opposition has right now is questioning me, because the truth isn't on their side.
White Sox in Info Here on WCW
Ok, so I guess Will has been catching crap about some perceived anti-White Sox bias. Well, here I am to refute this, as here on Will's own Weblog, he allows a huge White Sox fan, me, to throw in my ramblings. Being a Sox fan, of course I have some insecurity issues about the Cubs owning the city and I also have the added nightmare of being owned by the biggest jackass in Sports. Now for the White Sox update.
IS KENNY WIILIAMS A BETTER GM THAN BILLY BEANE
If you just looked at what he has done in putting this 2004 team together, you would think the above statement is true. Getting Schoenweiss for Gary Garland has been a slam dunk trade. Trading Chris Singleton to get Willie Harris is working out great. Miguel Olivo continues to look play like a Pudge Rodriguez clone, which takes away some of the Moneyball/CHad Bradford thesis.
I've never been a big fan of Williams, but it's time to give the guy his due. Sure, it would be nice to have Kip Wells in the rotation and thank God the Angels backed out of the Jon Garland for Darrin Erstad deal he wanted to make, but currently there is no team in MLB you can point to for having made as many great deals over the past 2 years.
The Sox are off to a great start, with none of their top players playing above their potential. Now, as a Sox fan, I know I'm hallucinating and everything will fall apart soon.
Schizo Scott Signing Out
It does not go to the level of child abuse, so I dislike the word "pitcher abuse." Never have, but smarter men than I coined it, so I tag along.
Kevin Goldstein of BA - a guy I'm proud to call a friend - had the story in his essential Prospect Report of Joe Labek, a senior pitcher at an Illinois HS. In the course of pitching a complete-but-separated by a week complete 24 inning game, he struck out 40.
Good. Fine. Enjoy it kid.
The real story is that the coach apparently has little or no concern for the kid. Kevin doesn't agree with me on many things, but one of them is pitch counts. He's smarter than me by a long shot, so I'll leave it to you to judge:
High school senior.
Being amazingly conservative, Labek went 300 pitches in the course of a week. A WEEK. The damage might not be seen now and I have no idea what kind of prospect this kid is, but he's less of one now, not more.
(Thanks to Byrne Conley and Joe Sheehan for the data.)
In The Spirit of Wingnuts
Janklow is a douchebag.
Not really big news.
Unfortunately, Janklow's involvement in the Leonard Peltier case is being forgotten. Among the hundreds of other reasons to Free Peltier, here's one more.
Does This Make Me the "Spin Zone?"
Rob Neyer asked me to do an explanation of the gyroball. The finished product is over at his site.
Yes, it exists. Yes, I can teach it. No, I can't throw it.
TB +300 v BOS
There's a very interesting article at the Las Vegas Sun that brought an interesting idea to me. There's not a big chasm between bookmaking and sabermetrics, yet it seems that there's been a Landisian chasm between the two disciplines. This is understandable, given the desire of most baseball analysts to be taken seriously within the game and the reaction to gambling in the sport.
While the separation is understandable, I think it's perhaps a lost opportunity. I'm curious where, if any, there's knowledge that crosses both fields. This article seems to indicate that park factor research could be done in a "quick and dirty" fashion in smaller sample sizes than most analysts would be comfortable with. I'm curious where other opportunities are to share knowledge ... if sabermetrics gets over a social taboo and if bookies see a way to tip the house.
My copy of Saving the Pitcher has finally arrived!
Just returned from working at the Improv in DC and let me say that our nation's capital is a great place to visit. From the White House to Midtown to Dupont Circle, it's just a great place to walk around and explore. Sure traffic sucks, but if you wanted to live where the action is I would choose DC, way above New York, Chicago, or other cities many cite. (Of course, having a lot of money and having the constitution to deal with the oppressive summers is needed to optimize the experience in DC. )
There are a lot of great local sports shows across the country, but I have to say that the Sports Reporters in DC is the best I've heard. Hosted by Steve Saban and Andy Polley, this show is funny, smart and edgy. Considering that the hosts are nationally-known figures on Fox and ESPN radio, respectively, this might not be such an epic statement, but I think the local show they do together, outshines anything on any national sports show, except maybe the Dan Patrick Show. Would be interested to get feedback on what local sports shows across the country are the best, according to the WCW participants. Will and I both do a lot of local sport shows across the country and speaking for myself, there are a lot of annoying, lacking in knowledge guys out there.
Rhymes with "Hack"
Once again, I'm forced to use this space to point out Hackery. There's been lots of discussion about "Productive Outs" in other spaces, but now Buster Olney has invaded my space.
This article is unbelievably bad, misleading, and gives the larger reading audience that Buster has access to that injuries are a big mystery that can't be penetrated by the fans.
Buster -- and much of what ESPN has done recently -- is trying to take baseball back into the domain of the mythic, where things are controlled by forces we don't understand or by men that simply know more than us. They feel no need to explain things; we're merely to pay our money and accept it.
There was a time last year when I was excited to have an article I wrote on ESPN.com. No more. There are blogs with a lot more credibility. If not for Gammons, Neyer, and Stark, I don't think I'd ever read their stuff. Period.
So in six months, they've taken one of the most passionate baseball fans you'll find (me) and made ESPN.com near unreadable, SportsCenter and Baseball Tonight near unwatchable, and the sound on ESPN's telecasts still goes down when I watch. It's a sad state of affairs because I know I'm not alone.
Finally, a review of Saving The Pitcher.
I was beginning to think no one had read it!
A Hole in the Sky
It was a dark and gloomy Saturday morning, damp and windy and overcast. The ground was wet from an overnight rain. It almost never rains in the Bay Area this time of year. The view out my front window looked displaced.
All morning, one part of my brain seemed focused on finding a way to disbelieve the news of Doug Pappas' death. It kept failing. One part of my brain kept trying to figure out why that other part of my brain couldn't stop thinking about Doug Pappas' death, since I had never met or conversed with the man. That part of my brain kept failing, too.
After breakfast, I drove my wife and kids out to a birthday party in Walnut Creek, on the other side of the Oakland Hills. Normally, Mount Diablo serves as a landmark as you approach, but it was missing, shrouded by fog. How do mountains disappear?
I dropped my family off at the party, then headed towards the Coliseum for the A's-Royals game. As I drove, I almost felt nauseous, like I had awakened inside a badly written book, or an MC Escher drawing, where I keep getting turned upside down by some logical flaw, but I can't quite figure out where the hole in the logic is. I had an ominous feeling about the game, like something was going to go horribly wrong. Someone would get hurt, or Reggie Jackson would say something embarassingly arrogant in his number retirement ceremony, or the A's would find a new way to lose in excruciating fashion.
Spirit of Pappas Nominee
I propose that we create an award for writing that best exemplifies the spirit of Doug Pappas' work. I'm not sure how such an award would work, but my first nominee is Ray Ratto, from today's San Francisco Chronicle, in an article about the effort to bring baseball to San Jose. Money quote:
And never mind what they might have heard from Baseball Commissioner And Stadium Extortionist Bud Selig, and never mind what Peter Magowan says about territorial rights, and never mind what overmedicated civic boosters with laptops tell them about how San Jose's perilously low self-esteem demands a baseball team.
I was thinking about David Cameron's post about Tim Hudson, and how a number of pitchers have been putting up excellent numbers despite low strikeout totals.
Then I came across this statement by Robert Bly, in an introductory note to some David Ignatow poetry:
A shoemaker in the Middle Ages...could be in business and yet never have to slide into statistical mentality, since he probably knew everyone who bought shoes from him, and one works on a shoe long enough so that love energy can rest in it, even for a few moments. But it's clear that business in quantity, that is most post-Industrial-Revolution business, requires that Eros consciousness be given up, and the love energy be pulled back inside.In Swedish, there's a word for this "love energy": snickarglädje, which translates roughly as the "joy of carpentry". The word refers to the delighful little excessive details that craftsmen lovingly add to their work, not for the functionality, but just for the sheer joy of making something beautiful.
At a statistical level, there's no such thing as snickarglädje. The quirks that rise up at an individual level get smoothed out in quantity.
If there's anyone in major league baseball who exemplifies snickarglädje, it's Tim Hudson. He has about six or seven different kinds of pitches he throws at different speeds with different arm angles. He seems to be making things up as he goes along, inventing new pitches as the situation calls for. Like that shoemaker in the Middle Ages, his work seems custom-made for every client. It's a joy to watch. No formula can explain it.
Reasoning and Education
Thanks to everyone who responded to my homework question.
I asked the question as a step in helping our organization formulate an argument. I found it quite interesting that doing just that--arguing, reasoning--is the very thing that people here seem to find lacking in our education system today.
I'm going to duck explaining what our goal is, and ask some follow-up questions. (I don't want to bias your responses so that you tell me what I want to hear.)
Suppose that our education system set as its primary task to teach people how to reason: to understand, work through, criticize, and present arguments. How would society benefit? How would the individual benefit? There are always tradeoffs, so what would we be losing with this shift in focus? How would we teach differently in elementary school? In high school? In college?
Dividing an Apple
Will might be interested in Robert X. Cringely's new column on an Apple reorg. He hints that Apple might eventually stop selling Macs altogether. A quote:
It wouldnít surprise me if the company did more types of consumer devices, but the point is not to sell a workstation you get paid for once, but to create a revenue stream that pays you every week. Thatís what Steve is groping for, Iím sure of it.Consumers don't buy maintenance contracts on computers. Businesses do. That's why Apple can't really compete with the big boys in high-tech; relegated to consumers and schools, they're shut out from the computer industry's true cash cow.
iTunes is an opportunity for Apple to create an ongoing revenue stream. Sell a razor, then keep selling blades. They'll probably get a lot of competition, but they have a better chance of winning this battle than they do with computers.
Not that you needed further evidence of genius, but while Derek Jacques' blog is rapidly becoming one of my first stops (write more!), it became, for a day, Joe Sheehan's stoop.
I have this long drawn out piece I'm working on called "Staring At Joe." It's my long drawn out answer to the questions I'm asked most often: how did you start? how can I do this? why are you such a lucky bastard? I'll let the first part leak a bit here.
I had no reason to be at the Winter Meetings. I'd finagled a media pass and headed down, not knowing what to do but confident that I could pass like I knew something. I got to Nashville and the obscenely large Opryland Hotel and immediately knew I was screwed. The first face I saw walking into the lobby was Tony Larussa.
Remember, this is before BP for me. I was just a guy that sent out emails and talked his way into a weekly radio gig. I finally found where the credentials were and prayed that I wouldn't get weak-kneed signing for them.
I had two goals for the trip - three if you count not making a fool of myself. The first was to meet Peter Gammons. I had hoped Rob Neyer would be in Nashville, but he wasn't, and it was Peter that gave me that first big link. My second goal was to meet Joe Sheehan. He was doing his newsletter and I was one of the many that plunked down money to read him.
As you know, pictures are pretty scarce on BP so I was lucky enough to have had Rob Miller point Joe out to me in a picture from the Arizona Fall League. Joe was in the background, but it was the best I had. A few hours into the first day, I thought I saw Joe. Joe will remember the pushy guy calling his name, asking if he was Joe Sheehan - the Joe Sheehan.
He probably won't remember me passing by him twice, circling first to make sure that he was who I thought he was, then a second time trying to get up the guts to talk to him. Joe stood on the edge of a large balcony outside the media room in Nashville, gesticulating wildly as he talked with a man I later met - Keith Law.
Joe won't remember the twenty minutes I debated in my head what to say and he probably didn't notice the guy staring at him across the room, like the wallflower at the prom looking at the Queen. (In a completely heterosexual way, of course.) When I finally took a deep breath and walked up to him, it was a decision I never realized I was making. In ten steps, I went from staring at Joe to following in his footsteps ...
.... but I need more work on that. More detail and an ending, details like that. Somewhere along the line, I realized, I stopped calling things "stories" as I did when my outlet was fiction. Now, as I typed it above, I see that I call them pieces. BP, ESPN, Slate, and even a book. I'm glad I talked to Joe.
I mentioned George F. Kennan's landmark document - actually a telegraph, believe it or not - that became the foundation of Western strategy against Communism in my post about Clark's Neo-Reaganite Centrist strategy piece. I wanted to put a link in to The Sources of Soviet Conduct but didn't have one available. Thanks to Goldy for the link.
It's hard to look at this document in the proper context. It was written nearly sixty years ago, but it correctly predicted the fall of the Soviet Empire nearly fifty years before it happened. Not only that, he had the reasons down pat. The Soviets collapsed (more or less ... it could be argued that the Yeltsin-Putin governments have Soviet lineage, but that's another discussion) first by containment and controlled use of force, then internally.
While the rise of Solidarinosc in Poland wasn't explicitly stated in X (so named for the well-known anonymous signator of the "Long Telegram), it was implicit in the "rotting from the inside" theory. The Soviet Empire relied on its satellite nations and at the first sign of weakness - a protest that went unquashed - the game rapidly changed. Brezhnev's weak leadership, followed by short tenure leaders Andropov (the Soviet Bush "41") and Chernenko, started preparation for the leader strong enough to allow the teardown to happen.
Kennan is best known for his X Telegram,but it's often forgotten that he was also the true architect of the Marshall Plan, the economic assistance program that rebuilt Europe (and allowed for the structure of Soviet containment.) This site is a near encyclopedic recounting of Kennan's visionary career. Sadly, Kennan is nearly forgotten despite (as far as I can tell) still being alive at 100. The Bush Administration (and Clinton before him) has pushed the Kennanites aside with the new policy of pre-emption. Kennan discussed it in New Yorker back in 2002.
Kennan, instead, is a footnote, but I wonder if he minds much. For years, he was simply X, a diplomat and policy wonk, hidden in the machinations and bureaucracy of a true powerful Washington. Today, the power is in lobbyists and think tanks - with nary a Kennan among them.
So Bud says the Expos moving plans will be announced this summer.
Same verse, same as the first ... and second ...
Year Three of promising a plan for the Expos doesn't sound much better than Year Two from where I sit. D.C. is still reported as a favorite with NoVa - but the problems of those sites is well documented here and elsewhere. I'll have more on this later, but please note: Bud's lips are moving.
The Bush Administration takes a body-blow from Gen. Wesley Clark in this policy piece. Clark may have ran a crappy campaign after being drafted and looked lost at sea as a candidate, but he's proving himself to be one of the sharpest voices in the criticism of the Bush failures.
Of course, I'm partial to any article that discusses George Kennan's seminal works. There's been no more important article written in American history. Wish I had a link to it ... someone help me with that if you know of one.
While I worked for a time for the Clark campaign here in Indiana, I'm not sure how to summarize Clark as we head into the election. He's not a good VP selection (small electoral impact, lack of experience), but he might be setting himself up as the Democratic version of Colin Powell. The comps there are pretty close - military background, attempted draft as a candidate, great education, loyal followers.
A more apt political comparison might be to set Clark as the slightly off-key compliment to John McCain. Just as McCain's GOP credentials have been questioned, most recently (and poorly) by Speaker Hastert, Clark was assailed as "too Republican" for the Dems. If we put Clark and McCain as Centrists, inward on the scale from their parties, things look better for Kerry.
I'm finally starting to understand the Kerry campaign strategy. He's better off right now seeing how far down the Bush-Cheney ticket digs itself and not saying much of anything. Save the money for when it can get the most impact. Keep pressure on the GOP by demanding more debates, something Bush will avoid like the proverbial plague.
For those more conspiratorial amongst us, I'm starting to worry that there's only one thing that can help Bush at this point: a crisis. Remember, New Yorkers were none to fond of Giulani before he came off like a champ in the post-9/11 phase. Even Bush looked pretty good in those days. Karl Rove won't forget those poll numbers.
I'm involved in a grass-roots organization (I'm not supposed to say exactly what kind), which has given its members a homework assignment.
My assignment is to ask this question: what do you want people to get from their education?
Looks like I'll get to witness Zack Greinke's major league debut on Saturday.
Reggie Jackson is also getting his number retired. I *might* have some extra tickets; email me if you're interested. I should know by tomorrow.
There is officially no end to human stupidity.
Is It April?
NOT SAFE FOR WORK!!!
Ok, I don't get this at all. While I'm never one to stifle creativity or originality, is there really a need for a porn musical?
Maybe you watch it in that sick sort of "Well, it couldn't be any worse than Cop Rock ... could it?" You just have to know and well, it's porn, so at least you can fast forward.
What I really want to see is the auditions. What kind of freak/horror show will that be? Do you want the good singer or are the ... other skills more important?
And the burning question (tho, do you really want anything associated with porn to be described as 'burning'?) is: Can Ron Jeremy sing?
Who's this whippersnapper zoning in on my turf?
Hardly ... Thomas Boswell with a nice article on the freaky, often funny injuries in baseball. He ends with a great line.
Old Men and No-Hitters
This week is "TV-turn-off" week at my daughter's school. I'm not a big fan of holding this "event" during baseball season. I'd rather keep my TV off from November through February than go a week without baseball on TV. But I'm trying to be a good sport about it.
But when I heard that Randy Johnson had a perfect game in the ninth inning, I had to see it. Sorry, kids.
Watching the old man throw the perfect game brought back memories of the first no-no I ever saw in person: Nolan Ryan's 6th no-hitter, thrown at the age of 43 in 1990.
I noticed that these three games had something in common besides just being no-hitters thrown by men in their forties. Can you guess? I'll post the answer in the comments.
If you're under the age of 35 and of sound mind and body, get worried.
If the Inactives are coming up -- and there's some disclarity about if it's a general recall or specific to certain rates/codes (how the military classifies various specialties) -- then a general draft is close behind.
Now, I honestly don't have much of a problem with a draft, if done fairly. I'd like to see an option of non-military service like a WPA or Job Corps, but I don't really want the loophole. There's no reason even conscientious objectors couldn't serve and be assigned to non-combat/non-combat support units. My time in the Navy did me a world of good and exposed me to many things. (Insert your own joke here.)
It's a clear Liberal meme that a general draft will follow shortly after the 2004 election, if won by Bush. I'm not so sure - the public outcry would be huge, I think. The hippies may have become soft suburban boomers, but if you 'go after' their children, I think they'll remember how to march quickly.
Also, where do you put them? The military is ill-equipped to deal with a rapid influx after years of closing down Basic Training Centers and other base closures. More manpower would have to be shifted to training, even if much of it is shifted to infantry and armor.
Finally, what do you DO with them? If the Faster Iraq movement gets traction, then the administration is perfectly willing to make a Nixonian exit from Iraq. Does that put South Korea in the crosshairs? Back to Afghanistan/Pakistan for an all-out quest for bin Laden? Who in the Pentagon is planning the next move?
The man on the cover of my book just made history.
Congratulations to Randy Johnson. Perfect.
It's not so much that a ROCKET LAUNCHER was found in Atlanta, near a train station. It's the quote ...
It will be examined further to be sure it is only a training model, said FBI spokesman Steve Lazarus.
"If it is indeed a training device, it's something you can buy at any gun store," he said.
Now, someone please explain to me why this might be available at any gun store? I mean, are the deer suddenly traveling in armoured Hummers? Do we need to knock varmints out of a fortified position? I'm very, very undecided on the gun control issue, but can't we all agree that non-military people do not need rocket launchers?
Many times we imagine what we would say if we had the chance. Novelists use all those bon mots that we think of ten minutes to late to actually use - there's actually a word for it, but I don't recall it. If we could say something to a politician, a CEO, a sports figure ...
Well, this is my chance on Friday. I'm handing Dusty Baker a copy of "Saving The Pitcher." So, Cubs fans and others, what should I say?
Please send any angry letters to firstname.lastname@example.org
A WCW Exclusive
In the photo of Army Spc. Lynndie England grinning and pointing at the Iraqi prisoners genitalia, it has been discovered where this unique type of interrogation was taken from. This humilating technique is called the "Cherry Forever" method first shown in the 80's classic "Porky's. In the film, Cherry, the madam of the brothel, inspects Billy, Tommy, Meat, and completely humiliates Pee Wee.
Ken's New Rules
Iíll steal from Will Carroll here.
New Rule #1: A rule is not a statement like "I wish that I had a pony, and that George Bush would go away." When you make a list of New Rules, the rules have to be, you know, rules.
New Rule #2: If someone breaks a rule, do not simply point out the fact that they violated the rule. Instead, tease the violator, with good nature, but without mercy.
New Rule #3: If you find a magic genie to grant you one wish, you are not allowed to waste that wish on picking a Vice President. That's like using your first pick in your fantasy draft to choose a backup catcher.
New Rule #4: Don't ever use the word non-partisan in a sincere manner. Even if something is truly non-partisan, it's not.
New Rule #5: I wish that I had a pony, and that someone would create a truly non-partisan political blog, where a group of intelligent people, who have genuinely not made up their minds in advance about the issues of the day, would enlighten everyone with their wise and witty objective explorations.
New Rule #6: There were two flags thrown on the last play. The first flag is for Incompetent Recursive Humor. By rule, that penalty is declined. The second flag is for Noodle-Brained Naive Idealism. That penalty is accepted. Penalize the writer seventeen syllables, and replay the rule.
New Rule #5: When in doubt, quote Goethe:
Tell a wise person, or else keep silent,New Rule #6: I am the massman. They are the massmen. I am the WalMart. Go get g'job!
New Rule #6, subparagraph (A): You are now allowed to feel optimistic about the economy. The Arneson Economic Indicator Of Unemployment (AEIOU) has taken a sudden turn for the better. The AEIOU operates on a 0-10 scale, where Level 0 means "There are no jobs worth bothering to apply for" and Level 10 means "Recruiters call you so often you consider changing your phone number." The AEIOU has been stuck at Level 0 for most of the past year. The AEIOU reached Level 1 in April, when out of the blue, several promising job listings appeared. Today, it leaps all the way up to Level 3, as I actually have a job interview.
New Rule #6, subparagraph (B): Don't expect to get a job just because you got an interview. Remember, while your competition has been actually working, you've been sitting on a cornflake, waiting for the van to come. Corporation tee-shirt, stupid bloody Tuesday, man, you been a naughty boy, you let your face grow long. Nobody likes long faces. Well, nobody except Jay Leno's mom and the odd John Kerry supporter.
New Rule #7: Don't end your New Rules list on a subparagraph.
I consider myself more up to date than most on medical research, especially when its tangentially related to stem cells. Jerome Groopman is one of my heroes, both as a writer and as a doctor. One of my biggest thrills last year was interviewing Ron Santo.
That said, I was stunned - stunned! - at this article. I had no idea we were so close.
I'll steal from Bill Maher here.
New Rule #1: Seymour Hersh doesn't deserve a Pulitzer for his work. He deserves the thanks of a grateful nation and whatever the medal is that we give to civilians. This article is reason enough to re-make the war, to support real journalism, and to support the New Yorker.
New Rule #2: I'm not the first to make this suggestion, but I'll have a different justification and result. If George Bush styles himself a Texan, then he should idolize LBJ like the majority of the state. For once, I'll say LBJ's example should be followed. Bush should, finally, listen to his own calls for personal responsibility and end his campaign. He should step aside.
New Rule #2a: With Bush stepping aside - and I don't think it's long before we start hearing discussion of Nixonian measures - the Republican party can quickly fix things by nominating the man reportedly under consideration for a position in the Kerry government. John McCain for President? He'd have my vote in this election.
New Rule #3: There were seven different commissions that looked into Pearl Harbor, three that looked into the Gulf of Tonkin, and one that's looked into 9/11. While I hope this commission does it's work diligently, I'd like to see the results of one that had complete, unfettered access to the information it needs.
New Rule #4: When Jeb Bush starts discussions of running for President, please ignore him.
New Rule #5: Comparing what happened in Abu Gharib to any other atrocity is bullshit. The difference is - we're not terrorists. Terrorists and rogues do things to inspire terror. Tyrants and dictators do that as well. If America wants to see itself as the white-hatted cowboy, it has to play the part of the Good Guy. I'll offer Gary Cooper in High Noon as the ideal rather than, say, Marcellus Wallace.
New Rule #6: Yes, there is a way to blame all this on Bud Selig.
New Rule #7: Clinton got impeached for lying about a blow job. If the Republicans set the bar there, I'm thinking that any number of things done in this administration might meet this new standard.
New Rule #7a: Don't impeach Bush. The bar may have been re-set, but that's no reason to hold ourselves to the new low standard. For all the personal responsibility espoused by the Conservative movement's dittoheads and chickenhawks, they don't do much of it. Here's how it works: we make our choices and we live with them. There's no recall provision in the U.S. Consititution.
New Rule #7b: No, I didn't say Clinton was right or that we should ignore conduct. Maybe my generation is jaded and cynical, but we've come to expect the lies of politicians. Here's the difference - life and death. The result of Clinton's misdeed was a stained blue dress; the result of Bush's are pine boxes.
(More in comments - not sure why, but I can't fit the whole thing in MT.)
Fantasy Baseball Haikuroscope
Scott Long's Comedy Club Tourdates
A few have asked me when I will be coming to their area, so I've listed below my schedule for the rest of the summer. Most of these dates are with Frank Caliendo, the guy who is known best for his John Madden and Jim Rome impressions. (Frank is a regular on MADTV and is the guy who replaced Jimmy Kimmel on the NFL Pregame Show on Fox.)
If you like sports and political comedy, this show is the one to catch. Please contact me, if you plan on coming to any of these performances, as I would love to meet you after the show.
May 20-23 Washington DC Improv
From last night ... for those of you that can't read lips, Randy Johnson said "motherf@#king roof open. Stupid sons of a bitch." Not great grammar, but Randy pitched lights out the rest of the game ... and lost. Motherf@#ker.
Are there standards over here? Yes, so I'll be up front here with this report - it's one source, but one I feel strongly has the correct information. I would be much more comfortable if I could get a second, independent confirmation, but while I've had some very telling "Umm .... (pause) ... no comment" answers, no confirmation.
Based on information recieved from a top aide of a senior U.S. Congressman, the hopes and dreams of Washington baseball have died on the absurd demands of Selig and Angelos. Instead of a new, downtown stadium, baseball has turned its eyes elsewhere. According to the source, Selig demanded not only a $300m sales tag on the decrepit Expos, but complete taxpayer funding of a new baseball-only stadium. There were three sites under consideration, but the biggest holdup on those was the current status of RFK. To meet Selig's standards, nearly $50m would need to be put into RFK to make it acceptable. Added onto nearly $400m for the new land and stadium (which sounds low to me, but I'm no real estate guru), that raises the full price tag for new ownership to near $850m. (No, that doesn't add up yet.)
Given the recent sales - Mets, Angels, and Dodgers - and the price placed on the Brewers ($175m), that price looks more and more outrageous. What is even more outrageous is the price for "damages" that Peter Angelos has asked for. Yes, that's the extra $100m. Given the revenues of the Orioles, that's about 10% per year of revenue that the Orioles have never generated given no competition. Sure, the south D.C. suburbs and AOL-fueled NoVa economy are about two hours to Camden Yards, but that's ridiculous. I think. Maybe. Who really knows?
Given Bud's recent "a team is what revenue it can generate" edict, I'm not sure if a team in D.C. could generate enough revenue to overcome the debt load it would need to take on. The Malek ownership group certainly seems strong, but I remain unconvinced that a D.C. team would be able to be level with the Red Sox on a revenue basis without a phenomenal stadium (and when's the last one of those built?) and a quick, D-Back-like rise to contention. This ISN"T an expansion team; this is an Expo team and minor league system that has been drained during MLB's mishandling. To win, the team would either have to commit to a rebuilding and refocus on the minors or they'd need to go after free agents.
Possible? Yes, but distinctly unlikely. Without the support of local and national politicians and a distinctly un-Seligian desire to challenge an owner (and the concept of territories), Washington is out. This leaves Monterey, Las Vegas ... and contraction.
Killer In Stinked
A's record 2000-03 with a chance to advance to the ALCS: 0-9.
Pirates with 2 Patches
Just got back from Pittsburgh last week and wanted to throw out my thoughts on PNC Park. The best thing by far about PNC is the view of the city, perfectly framed beyond the outfield. Pittsburgh has a great skyline and numerous bridges crossing the 3 rivers which dissect it. Outside the front of the park, many restaurants and outdoor patios line the street, which gives the area a really nice flavor. There doesn't seem to be a bad seat in the place, with the bleachers behind left field the most unique, as they are set low enough that you have the same view as the left fielder. Of the parks I've been to, I would rate them in this order.
1. Wrigley (and I hate the Cubs)
Former stadiums I've been
1. Tiger Stadium (Briggs Field)
By the way, I love baseball, but it takes a real fanatic to sit through a Pirates game, as that is a team without one superstar player. Even Tampa and Montreal have one player who has all-star ability. Not a pretty future, either. When Benson is healthy, he and Kip Wells are solid front-line starters, but the rest of the Pirates are replacement level at best. (Craig Wilson is finally getting a full-time chance and he's producing, but when Craig Wilson is by far your best offensive force.....) The Pirates just brought up Daryle Ward from Triple A and looking at their roster he would be the second best hitter on the team. How was he playing in their minor league system?
Okay, I promise never to spend this much time talking about the Pirates. Let me finish by saying that I think the Spiderman 2 emblem should be allowed at PNC Park, as it would give third base some use for once.
Advance Scouting Question
Ray Fosse said today on the A's telecast that the Detroit Tigers don't have an advance scout.
Is this just cheapskate penny-pinching? Or is it smart not to waste money on having scouts travel around, since so much video is now available? How much more can you see in person? How much is that extra information worth?
Manic Monday ... now that's an inspired idea. Thanks to all that participated, especially Peter White who did a stellar job here. Check 'em all.
So where's Waldo - I mean, Will. It was for weeks like this - and their intelligence and insight - that I knew I'd need a TFD, a Ken, a Scott. Originally, I just thought I wouldn't have anything to say, but with STP and promotional work in addition to my normal duties of UTK and radio, it doesn't take much to send me into overload.
Not the bad kind of overload, but the kind where I honestly don't have much to add to the conversation. I've been working on my first piece for Slate - BP has been writing some there and it's my shot at the big time this round. Slate has very high standards, so that's taken a good amount of time.
I'm also working out at the Indy Motor Speedway with ESPN 950. I did it last year and had a blast. It's not hard work. I watch the track, I report once an hour, and I have plenty of time to write. Once I figure out email - damn you, Flash! - I'll be set.
XM Radio ... it's worth it for hearing - back to back no less - Skee-Lo, Jurassic 5, Public Enemy, and Rakim. Yes, I'm a suburban white boy, but that's one hell of a set.
What other Will tidbits? The book's out. There will be a party. There will be a New York City trip and Pizza Feed this summer. I'm in Toronto tomorrow for a BP book signing. I'm working on a book proposal that I hope to share with you by mid-summer. Lots of great guests coming up on BPR and lots of exciting news on that front to come.
For now, if WCW is the bar across the street from the ballpark and I'm the regular ... you know how sometimes he just sits, sips his beer, and doesn't say much? It's cool, because you know him. He'll speak up soon enough. It's like that.
Scott checks in on Iraq
I will try to be a little more active this week, as I was busy performing at the Fallujah Funny Bone last week. Tough crowd, the hecklers don't yell out insults if they don't like you, they just blow themselves up. By the way, interesting thing in Iraq is that all the guys who work at the 7-11's there are caucasian. Who knew?
I remember as a kid they used to have those Scared Straight programs to motivate kids to stay on the straight and narrow. I think the Iraqi prison abuse videos make them seem mild. Remember the cliched line about being sent to a "Turkish Prison?" Time to change the site.
The only way I can see the Bush administration salvaging this occupation is to install Colin Powell as Secretary of Defense, have Richard Armitage move up to top spot at the State Dept. and scrap any involvement of Cheney besides stirring up the Right-wing base on the fund raising circuit. Another wise move would be to have John McCain put in charge of overseeing the abuse of the prisoners, as he appears somewhat equitable with the rest of the world, as he underwent years of torture as a POW in Viet Nam. Powell, Armitage, McCain, and Chuck Hagel, who said yesterday he thinks Rumsfeld and Meyers need to consider resigning, are the kind of Republicans who should be running the country. Instead we have neo-conservatives in charge of the defense dept. and right wingers making social policy.
Read this column from last week by noted Republican, George Will.
Will blasts Bush for his lack of intelligence and diplomacy. I don't agree with a lot of Will (George, not Carroll) opinions, but I've always admired him for his intelligence and it's that quality that I believe has turned him against Bush on a lot of matters. The non-intellectual style the Shrub wears on his sleeve must put a double knot in the bow-tie Will wears around his pencil neck.
Watching Meet the Press, last Sunday, I was impressed with the opinions expressed by Senators Warner, Leahy, General Wesley Clark, and even Lindsay Graham, a guy I've had little use for in the past. All 4 of them had better things to offer than the empty statements the Bush administration have served up.
I would love for any Bush supporters to weigh in on why they think the administration has handled Iraq well, because I haven't seen much logic since the U.S. went in nearly unilaterally.
(Note baseball fans, I will weigh in on PNC park, tomorrow, as I just got back from working in Pittsburgh.)
Go Get 'Em, Will!
Right on. Irresponsible journalists like this one deserve all the public flogging you can give them.
Read this. It's long, sure, but part of the point is that important things take time and effort. It's important that you read and understand ... and act on this. Brilliant work by Orcinus and read closely, it's truly non-partisan and even non-ideological.
The same goes for sports reporting. What are we doing that teaches or illuminates? Tim Marchman of the NY Sun often discusses how beat reports tell us next to nothing. UTK is kind of the same thing - much of it is simply regurgitation, but there's also short-form analysis. While I think it's important to understand sports medicine and that it's a worthwhile endeavor, I also realize that one of my main tasks is to be there every day, providing time for the geniuses behind the scenes - guys like Keith Woolner, Keith Scherer, and Doug Pappas - to work on long research pieces.
Joe Sheehan can do both, as can Derek Zumsteg, but those guys are few and far between. I took on hacks earlier this season and started a war, but next time, I'm not backing down so easily. In politics and sports, the hacks must go and we must move on to more substantive discussions. The future depends on it.
Petco from the Getgo
When I attended college in the mid-80's, the only kind of computer printers anyone could afford were dot-matrix. Although professors usually wanted your essays typed, they hated reading dozens of papers written with those fuzzy dots. Most professors didn't allow dot-matrix printouts.
That meant you had to write your papers twice, the old-fashioned way: once in an original draft, and another time on a typewriter.
One time, I wrote a brilliant essay, typed it, and turned it in. When I got it back, I was shocked to find I had received a B. The professor commented: "You make some excellent points, but your paper lacks a strong thesis."
When I went back and compared my original draft to what I had turned in, I discovered I had forgotten to type one sentence. Not just any sentence, either: I skipped the thesis sentence, the one sentence that tied the whole paper together, that expressed the very point I was trying to make.
Petco Park is like that paper. It could have been brilliant, but there's one big flaw which drops it from being a masterpiece to merely good. The Western Metal Supply Company building, which should be a centerpiece of the park, gets lost in a sea of larger, noisier structures surrounding it.
There's a more in-depth review, along with lots of pictures, at humbug.com.
A New Money Shot
Since the news came out that three performers in the adult film world had tested positive for the HIV virus, many people outside of the business have demanded that condoms be mandatory in all films. Two major companies in the porn business, Vivid Video and Wicked Pictures use condoms in all penetration scenes, but since they market their videos to couples, they have little to lose by doing this. Most videos that aren't sold by these companies are "gonzo" videos, which contain little plot or production values, mainly focused on wall-to-wall sex. It's easy to say, everyone should wear condoms, but it's my guess the majority of men who consume pornography don't like the safety they have to live in their own sex lives and they don't want their fantasy life to be the same. Porno actors are similar to stunt men or NASCAR drivers, as risk is part of the appeal to their viewers.
If mandatory condom use is instituted, my guess is a large portion of porno films will be shot in foreign countries. I'm guessing if you said the word "Outsourcing" to most adult film actors, they would think it was a euphemism for the "money shot", but that is soon to change. The bigger issue in taking the adult film industry out of the San Fernando Valley and setting up shop in Brazil or Hungary (the two countries where a lot of movies are shot currently) is the business would be even more unsafe, as all actors in movies shot in the U.S. are tested on a monthly basis. These other countries don?t have the same health regulations. (For a current business model to demonstrate this point, look at how manufacturing jobs have been outsourced because regulations and health standards are far less stringent in many foreign nations versus the U.S.
The best way to keep people safe would be to force actors or actresses who work in foreign movie productions to wait two months until they can work in an American shoot. This would give enough time to be properly tested. The four most famous cases I can think of where an performer in the adult business contracted HIV, 3 of the 4 happened while working in a foreign country, including this case, as the person (Darren James) who spread the disease to the 2 actresses, initially contracted it in Brazil. The other case of HIV, which wasn?t contracted in a foreign country, occurred when porn legend John Holmes contracted it from using dirty needles while feeding his heroin habit.
This mandatory condom idea reminds me of the dumb law the Senate tried to pass barring Vegas casinos from taking sports bets, as the thought was that this would keep situations like the betting scandals of Arizona State and Northwestern basketball from happening again, when in truth, the scandals were initially exposed by investigators hired by the casinos, themselves. The best policing agency is the industry itself. If you mandate condoms, the actors and directors will just go underground or make movies in other countries, either way making for a much more risky situation than what currently happens.
About Last Night
OGIC suggests using "Spotless Mind" technology to erase painful sports memories.
It's a great idea. I think I'd begin by forgetting about last night. In fact, I think I'd just go ahead and erase from my mind the whole concept of the New York Yankees.
The 1988 and 1990 World Series? Didn't happen. ALDS Game 5? What's that? Artificial turf? Never heard of it. And what's a Bud Selig?
Come to think of it, maybe someone already used this technique to erase the concept of "touching home plate" in the minds of some recent A's players. Is erasing someone else's memories a crime?
Perhaps, but if I had the chance, I'd risk jail time to enter Ray Fosse's brain and erase the word "especially". How much would I love to eliminate that annoyance, especially since Fosse uses especially so much, especially to create long, meandering, Faulknerian-length run-on sentences, when making an argument, and especially when he's asking interview questions, especially since I end up listening to him over 100 times a year, on radio, and especially, on TV?
The technology isn't real, but maybe I could use some psychological tricks to create the same effect. I'll just build a lockbox in my brain, put these bad things in there, and throw away the key. If these things come up in conversation, I'll just ignore them, like I can't even recognize what the heck it is. They will bounce off me like bullets off Superman.
I feel happier already. :)
I'm heading to Birmingham for the first in-depth look at ASMI ever granted to the media. Should be interesting and enlightening. I'll be back late Thursday night and give you the scoop, followed by a major article for BP.
Thanks to Ken and TFD for starting this very interesting discussion on writing styles. I love how just about anything can be discussed around here, even baseball occasionally.
The Art of Being Interesting
Contemplate the complex task of writing well. The long history of storytelling, the masters of the art, the years and years of apprenticeship and practice, the many tricks of the trade, the connotations and implications of choosing just the right words, in just the right order, with just the right point of view.
Why Angell is so good
Some ask what makes Roger Angell so good. I'll take a swing at that pitch.
Angell literally grew up at New Yorker magazine. His stepfather was E.B. White, a New Yorker staff writer, and author of several famous books. The New Yorker had a particular style of writing, which is actually based on an old French style of prose. That style must be as natural to Angell as breathing.
There's a book which defines that style called Clear and Simple as the Truth: Writing Classic Prose by Francis-Noël Thomas and Mark Turner.
Denis Dutton has a good review of the book. The web site for the book also has a good guide to writing in classic style. Here's an excerpt:
Classic style is not descriptive style...The classic stylist, by contrast, first perceives an interesting, not necessarily grand, truth that is worth presenting. This perception almost always involves conceptual nuance - the classic stylist would otherwise have no reason to speak, since there is no call to point out what everyone already sees.
Angell doesn't report. He's not interested in providing you with a list of facts. He's not arguing a point, either. He's presenting an idea. He lays it out like a master chef lays out a dish, and then he simply places it in front of you and assumes you'll know what to do with it. Or, as Denis Dutton puts it:
The classic prose stylist therefore need never descend to grinding persuasion; an unobstructed view of things is always enough. Every decision of the writer is presumably the same decision that the reader would have made.
"Grinding persuasion": is there a more apt term for so much of sabermetric writing? Between that and just plain re-reporting what's been reported elsewhere, you've probably got over 90% of the baseball blogosphere.
That's why writers like Angell and Alex Belth, who present, rather than report or persuade, are so refreshing. It need not be, but it's rare.
I probably don't need to tell anyone here to go read Rob Neyer, but his latest column hits close to home. Garrett Berger is a kid I've seen pitch and seen break down. There are far, far too many Bergers around and hopefully, Rob's column can prevent more.
One For George
I'm going to sound TFD-ish here with a "what liberal media?" line, but here's some telling data about the media's complicity in sanitizing the war.
WAR IS PEACE
IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH
(Link via Dailykos.com; plenty more good stuff there.)
A pal from New York reports that there are copies of STP on shelves. It's earlier than I expected it, but not much earlier. If you do happen to be in a bookstore and see it or get confirmation from an online source, please drop me a line.
And yes, TFD needs to try decaf. ;)
UPDATE: BN.com is showing the book as "ships in 24 hours." That usually means it's in stock and Amazon is seldom far behind.
Dan linked it below, so I won't bother with the coding.
I've been able to independently confirm all the facts in Heyman's story, not that I doubted him. The question now is: how does the government leak the results? I'm reasonably sure that's the motive here, or at least the threat. Everything else in this case has been leaked, from grand jury testimony to Bud's - errr, an unnamed baseball source's opinions after a gag order was issued.
The 87 positive tests now have names attached. What I can't get anyone to tell me is whether or not the players actually know if they tested positive. Yes, if a player took an illegal substance, they should know it. Let's assume conservatively that most if not all were using some form of masking agent, were at the end of a cycle (ie, "low levels"), or used a non-testable substance like THG.
While we're at it, where are the test results from the seized samples from a few weeks back at Quest's Las Vegas labs?
Heyman makes it sound like the MLBPA may have played into the hands of the Feds or the owners. I'm confident that Don Fehr and Gene Orza haven't fired all their bullets, so watch for that gunfight to come. While the chants of "BALCO" will follow the BALCO Ten around stadiums this season, the storm clouds are gathering and the whispers are getting louder, seemingly all from inside the government's case.
Someone send Bud a copy of Mother Goose and Eight Men Out. One of those books will be his model - either the Goose That Laid The Golden Egg, or Kennesaw Mountain Selig.
Sometimes, I just don't have anything to say.
One of the reasons I brought three other guys into the blog is that I'll occasionally go through quiet periods, where really, I have nothing to add to the conversation. With UTK, consulting projects, books, and assignment-based writing, I do about 15,000 words a week. I'm not complaining, even though I occasionally complain.
This week, I've been lucky enough to hang out with A-B's big cheese, Christian Ruzich. We got to go to a ballgame last night and this morning, he sat in with me on BPR. I may have the face for radio - and the guy who compared me to Kyle Gass is banned from future Feeds ;) - but CR definitely has the voice. Sad when everyone I bring in to the show has a better radio voice than I do. I need to drink and smoke, I guess, but neither's really in the cards. Check out the show once we get it up in the BPR archive.
Not much else going on here. My big adventure next week is a trip down to Birmingham to visit ASMI. I'm excited about getting to see the facilities and the amazing people they have working down there. I'll throw this one out there - what questions would you like to have asked while I'm there?
He hasn't posted here in two days. Some strange things can happen in Indianapolis. I hope he hasn't been temporarily detained in the clubhouse.
Societal Critic at Large: Scott Long
About the Toaster
Baseball Toaster was unplugged on February 4, 2009.
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