Saturday, July 31, 2004

I logged on to make sure that Randy Johnson didn't end up on the Yankees. Turns out there was plenty of other action.

Difficult to imagine the Sox without Nomar. Very difficult. I just can't imagine him playing for someone else. Dan Duquette gets a lot of (justifiable) criticism, but signing Nomar in 1998 was a great signing.

I hope Epstein knows what he's doing. I'm confident the rest of Red Sox Nation is hoping the same thing.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

I listened to Kerry's speech tonight. I thought it was pretty good. Much better than Edwards last night, who I thought sounded like a windbag.

Will it be enough? I don't know, but I have to think that W is feeling some heat. Well, maybe not W himself, I should say the administration. I'm still not convinced W really cares much about being President. But he's surrounded himself with people who care very much about him being president, and they push him and push him hard.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

I heard Big Bubba Bill's speech on the radio last night and tonight I listed to Gore The Bore speech from yesterday, archived by those helpful folks at the Democratic National Convention. I have to say, I thought Gore was better. If he'd shown that much passion four years ago, instead of droning on about putting Social Security in his beloved lock box, we'd be waiting for him to speak Thursday night.

Clinton was too rushed. Either he needed more editing (like his book, I've heard), or he needed more time, but he was obviously trying to cram as much in there as he could.

Didn't get to hear Teresa Heinz Kerry's speech, but I've read it and -DAMN- it looks good. Someone in the White House who can speak five languages! Too bad she's born overseas!

Monday, July 26, 2004

I'm going to vote for Kerry.

On national TV last night (go Sox!), he was asked what he thought of the DH. Right upfront, he said he didn't like it. Yes!

I never heard W complain about the DH, even though he was a former owner of an American League team and he actually could have done something about it. The DH is an abomination and should be ended immediately.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

The commission investigating the attacks of September 11 came out with their report. I have yet to read it, so I don't yet know whether I agree with its substantive recommendations.

But it does seem that Congress is going to do something, even if it's all for show. They're going to have some hearings, and the leaders of the commission are going to testify. This is a good thing. We need to have a big debate about our intelligence agencies. And Congress is the entity to debate this. I do hope they keep talking about it. It's interesting, though. In the last couple of weeks, Congress has seen fit to diligently focus on the crucial issues of a constitutional amendment against gay marriage, and flag burning. It seems to me that there are a few more important things to pay attention to, and maybe this will get them to do so. For all of our sakes, I hope so.

As a sidenote, it's interesting that W says he supports the commission's work, considering he fought like hell to keep them from ever meeting in the first place. Then he wanted to appoint Henry Kissinger---HENRY KISSINGER!!!--one of the dirtiest Americans alive!--to be its head. Can one imagine a less reputable choice? Forget the deaths in Chile, in East Timor, in Cambodia, (etc. etc. etc.) that he sanctioned (ok, don't forget them, but that's not my point...). Aside from these, he's directly responsible for the deaths of thousands and thousands of Americans (and Vietnamese, for that matter) because he gratuitously prolonged the Vietnam War. What if we'd pulled out in 1970? How many Americans would still be alive? How many of their children would know their fathers? As John Kerry said in 1971, "How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?"

I know this is a tangent, but every American, and I mean everyone, should read this:

Really, everyone should read this. And everyone should educate themselves about the issues, because Kerry was right then and he's right now. Vietnam was the wrong war, fought for the wrong reasons, and the wrong time. And all we got for it was a shiny black wall. And whether our spoils from that war were worth that shiny black wall.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

A significant trend of the last few years is to shrink the Army (and by "Army" I mean the United States Military, but mainly the Army) by having outside contractors do things that Army guys used to do. In theory, this lets the Army concentrate on fighting, and the contractors do the support work. Supposedly, We The People save money.

But it doesn't work. And Iraq has shown why.

There are some times that it's good to have Army guys (and girls) driving the trucks. They can be ordered around, they already carry guns, they can always call up some Army choppers to support them if they're getting shot at, etc.

It's a sad irony, but this outsourcing ends up costing Us The People bigtime. Soldiers are cheap. They don't have much grounds to complain if they're getting shot at while they're driving the trucks. Not so with the contractors. They're understandibly not interested in being shot, so it naturally takes more money to entice them to face the risk. They're *more* expensive than the Army.

Yet another problem is that the truck drivers need some sort of security force. We're billed for that, but we're doubly screwed. First, we're screwed because these contractors are making $100,000 a year, where the regular soldiers get by on way less. Second, these contractors are none other than retired Army guys anyway. So the Army loses its best people (because wouldn't you rather make six figures than Army pay?)

It also perpetuates dishonesty. For instance, we've been saying that we have 130,000 soldiers in Iraq (roughly). Well yes, but estimates of the contractors (who We The People are paying for) run to about 20,000 more. Of course no one really knows. Obviously, it would be cheaper to use 20,000 soldiers (at, say, $40,000/year) instead of 20,000 contractors ($100,000/year). By my reckoning, that's 1.2 b-b-b-billion a year down the tubes. That's real money! And that's just salary! Not including the cost of replacing those experiences people who run off to by contractors.

Why do we do it? Why pay much more for less? Well, it looks to me like the only people who come out ahead are contractors. Like Halliburton.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

I've recently taken to buffalo burgers. The store by my house has a butcher shop offering ground buffalo. Surprisingly, ordering is not a smooth process. I would have thought that butchers were very strong in fractions and decimals--seeing as all they do all day is sell meat by the pound--by I was wrong. It takes some time to persuade them that I don't want 40 pounds of meat, 4% of a pound, nor 4 pounds (these are all actual points of confusion from my last two trips there), but 0.4 pounds. Just right for one burger.

If you haven't had buffalo burgers, you really should. It's the best burger I've ever had. Imagine a normal tasty burger, but twice as flavorful. That's buffalo. It's delicious.

Plus, you're doing your part for the environment! As more people eat buffalo, there's more and more reason to take down the fences on the Great Plains and let the buffalo roam (instead of cows).

Sunday, July 18, 2004

I think the new Iraqi government is going to crack down hard. I would guess that they will take this too far, and someone (I have no idea who) will try to seize control. I hope I'm very wrong, because that would lead to lots of bloodshed and possibly civil war. So far, I've been surprised. There have not (yet) been outright fighting by the Kurds--instead just a low level insurgency between the Kurds and the Turkomen. If the Kurds are smart, they'll wait until the US withdraws, then declare independence.

I'm still predicting that we "find" Osama October 15. I'm open to other predictions, though.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Pitch counts addendum

More pitch count.

Cho, I would certainly not argue that 120 is an arbitraty number. My point is that until pitchers turn, say, 24, their arms are still developing. It would make more sense to gauge pitch counts, but we'll have to accept innings as a reasonable proxy.

For established guys, I'm all in favor of not enforcing arbitraty rules. Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling, etc., guys who are established workhorses, their pitch counts are going to be different than for others. My point is more about young guys. As for Kerry Wood's injury, that's sort of my point. When guys are young, their arms aren't yet mature, so they're more prone to be damaged, especially by funky pitches. (I don't know why this is the case, it's just that the numbers seem to bear it out, and it makes some intuitive sense. Also I'm neither a doctor nor someone who plays one on TV.)

N.B. this debate started at a Giants-Cubs game last year when I criticized Dusty Baker for overworking Wood and Prior. I stand by my criticisms.

Just for kicks, lets look at a couple of prominent burnouts. Same format as the last post (that is, name, first number is age when he throws 100 innings, next is when he throws 200, next is when he throws 300--I track up to age 26).

Fernando Valenzuela: 20 21 (285 innings at age 21)
Steve Avery: 20, 20 (99 innings at age 19, 210 at age 20)

Fernando was effectively done at age 30, although he had a decent year in 1993 and another in 1996.
Steve Avery's last year with 150 innings was 1995, when he was 25.
Livan Hernandez--the jury's still out on how he'll do (and his age!)
I know I'm missing some good ones, but I can't think of them at the moment. Schlamp, who am I missing?

(Man I'm happy to talk about something other than how George Bush has destroyed our standing across the Muslim world by needlessly invading Iraq and then bungling it. Whoo-hoo! Here's to ignoring this great American disaster--"It's not Vietnam, it's worse!"--by paying attention to baseball)

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Pitch Counts

I've been having a dispute with Ed Cho about pitch counts.

Cho thinks they're given too much importance. I disagree. I think that for young pitchers, it's very important to keep a low pitch count. Pitching puts extreme stress on a pitcher's arm. I read an article once about how guys who pitch a ton of innings early in their career burn out. (Note, I'm using innings as a proxy for pitch count here.)

To test this, I looked at career leaders in wins. (Because the general consensus is that pitching these days is tougher than the 50's because the 7-9 hitters are so much better, I arbitrarily required a pitcher to start his career in 1960 or later to be considered.) I look at how many innings these guys threw. Because they are the career leaders, they are the most durable arms in baseball over the last 40 years. I assign an age based on that pitcher's age at the start of the season. I only look up to the age 26. The first number is the age the pitcher first threw 100 innings, the second number is 200, the third is 300 (if he pitched 300 before turning 27)

Carlton 22 23
Ryan 21 25 26
Sutton 21 21
Clemens 22 24
P. Niekro (a knuckleballer, he's obviously not too relevant)
Perry 25 25
Seaver 23 23
Maddux 20 21
Blyleven 19 20
Jenkins 22 23
Palmer 20 20 23
Glavine 22 24
Marichal 23 24 25
R. Johnson 25 26
Tanana 20 20
Tiant 23 26
Hunter 18 20

Note: Catfish Hunter's last season was when he was 33.

My point is, it looks pretty clear to me that pitchers who last a long time didn't throw a ton of innings when they were in their early twenties. This specifically came up with Cho when we were talking about the Cubbies. Kerry Wood threw 166 innings when he was 20. He lost the next year to injury, and surpassed 200 innings when he was 24 (which is about right, I think). We'll see if he lasts. Mark Prior threw 116 innings at 21, 211 at 22. To me, that's worrisome. Why take a chance?

Mulder 154 when he was 23, 200 when he was 24. Zito threw 92 when he was 21, 200 when he was 22, and he has arm troubles. Hudson threw 136 when he was 23, 200 when he was 24.

I don't know, but it looks like a trend to me. If I were a GM, I'd limit innings until a pitcher turned 24.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

The White House is going to emphasize that Edwards doesn't have much experience. A fair point. He doesn't. I propose the following test of someone's competency to be vice president:

Ask the candidate to spell potato.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

I remember reading that Ken Lay still is a leading fundraiser for W. If I were the Kerry campaign, I'd sure publicize that to high heaven.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Why does Dick Cheney keep insisting on a connection between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaida? It's well beyond debate that no such connection existed, other than perhaps they knew some of the same people. It's almost like arguing that the sun goes around the earth at this point. So why does he keep saying in?

(a) because he believes it?
-Surely not. Cheney isn't that dumb (W, maybe, but not Cheney). Or maybe he is.

(b) Because it makes political sense to say it?
-Maybe. I guess it keeps the red meat supporters happy, but I would think it's going to start driving (logical, noncommitted) voters away. The die hards don't need to be persuaded, do they, that invading Iraq was justified and a complete success?

(c) Because to do otherwise would be to admit that they were wrong
-Ahhh, maybe. Because the one thing this White House cannot admit is that they were wrong. Tony Blair edged closer to that under questioning in Parliament (though he refused to concede that there were no weapons of mass destruction). But the White House cannot ever be wrong.

(d) If there are other reasons out there, let me know. I can't think of them...

Monday, July 05, 2004

So who's Kerry gonna choose? I was a fan of Bill Richardson, but apparently he's out. I don't like Gephardt. He's too left-ish for me. And also a little oily. Edwards? This guy from Iowa, Vilsack?
So who's Kerry gonna choose? I was a fan of Bill Richardson, but apparently he's out. I don't like Gephardt. He's too left-ish for me. And also a little oily. Edwards? This guy from Iowa, Vilsack?