Tuesday, January 25, 2005

So, uhhh, when does it start mattering how big the federal deficit is? This year it's $427 billion. The largest ever. Again.

When is the President proposing to make it shrink, for a change? (For just the numbers, look here)

Monday, January 24, 2005

The Sox home opener is April 11. Against the Yankees.

I predict that tickets will go for $1000.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

If it's accurate, this article is worrisome. It claims that extremist Islamicism is on the rise in Bangladesh. Although for now they look to be mainly focused on torturing and killing their local political rivals, this philosophy has brought forth enough poisenous fruit elsewhere that we should still be worried. The Taliban started out as just another party in Afganistan's civil wars before moving to virulent anti-Americanism.

I think that we're creating more and more enemies around the world, and I maintain that this is a bad thing. Unfortunately, our president does not seem to share this logic. He does not seem to care about creating enemies. He's convinced that we'll just attack them. I'd rather we didn't have to.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Managing a baseball team is not an easy job. The way I see it, one needs to have two completely separate, difficult to master skill sets, which may be why there aren't many great managers out there.

The first of course is game coaching. When to call hit and run, when to take pitchers out, etc. In and of itself, this is hard because it encompasses so many different skills (knowing when to bunt is entirely independent from knowing how to work a bullpen). There are a lot of variables in baseball, lots to keep track of.

The other fundamental skill is managing the personalities. This is tricky. I think the reason that so many managers are crummy in one situation and then good two years later with a different team is that they can run a certain kind of clubhouse, but not others. (All together now, repeat after me: "Buck Showalter".) As a sidenote, I'm not convinced that this is any harder today than it was 50 years ago. I'm convinced that major leaguers have always been a quirky, cocky, arrogent, talented, strong, macho bunch of jerks, generally speaking. (I'm reading an account of the 1949 American League pennant race now, and Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio were as difficult as anyone today.)

I've been thinking about the job that Terry Francona did for the Sox this year. Obviously this was a team that could have exploded. Pedro is a deeply proud, tightly wound but somewhat selfish man, Lowe is an absolute head case, Manny Ramirez is, uh, Manny Ramirez, Curt Schilling is your basic jerk, plus you have your Johnny Damon sideshow, etc. etc. Plus there's the Globe and the Herald howling at any miscue. Francona was fantastic at getting all the pistons to fire together in this complicated engine. This was all invisible. He did all of his best work out of the public eye, which is of course by design. The frustrating thing was that his actual game managing was, shall we say, debatable. So we all saw the odd decisions and did not see the marvelous work that happened when there was no game going on.

Another manager cut from this cloth is Dusty Baker. Year after year he would coax career years out of retreads. Every year he would get fed a bunch of old players, including someone who you always thought "THAT guy is still in the bigs?" Every year they would become great hitters. And one must be impressed with anyone who can manage a team where Barry Bonds is *not* the biggest ass (Jeff Kent, come on down!). On the downside, of course, Baker never met a young pitcher who he wouldn't overwork. If I were the Cubbies, I'd be very worried.

In terms of the best managers, I think LaRussa is very good at both parts of the job. But one sometimes gets the feeling that he's more interested in being the Smartest Manager In Baseball than he is at winning games.

I think the best two are Felipe Alou and Joe Torre. You don't read about them doing a lot of yelling and screaming. They don't need to. They run their clubhouses and there's no doubt who's in charge. They also make good in game decisions. They're not perfect, but I think they're about as good as you're going to find in the game today.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

This disgusts me.

American kids need to learn science. This is not science. It is deeply damaging to the future of our nation. We don't teach gravity as a theory that can be believed or not believed as one chooses. Gravity is a phenomenon that one should seek to understand. When one sees surveys showing that American kids do worse at math and science then their contemporaries around the world, this sort of thing is the reason why.

Evolution threatens Christianity as much as gravity does.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Now this is funny:

Thursday, January 06, 2005

I wonder when the first prominent member of Congress will get up and say that it's time to bring the troops home from Iraq. In Vietnam, we were there in force maybe 14 years. The Soviet Union was about 12 in Afghanistan. Are we still going to be in Iraq in 2016?
I disagreed with decision to go to war, but once we went in we clearly couldn't leave right away. These days, however, it's obvious it's going poorly, but how long do we wait until we give up? How many lives is our pride worth? At this point, I'm prepared to pull out after their election. Which may (or may not) happen at the end of January.
We shouldn't be there, and we especially shouldn't participate in an Iraqi civil war.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Well I went to the Rose Bowl, and it was better than last year. Michigan lost on a 3rd and 2 in the 4th quarter from the Texas 20. For some reason, we called a pass play, which went incomplete (it was right in front of where we were sitting), and we then kicked a field goal.

I like the coaching and the play calling in the game, but for that one play. Mike Hart had been running the ball well and I have to think he would have got the two yards. Even if we didn't get a touchdown out of it, it would have been more time off the clock. But if you can't convert third and 2 in that situation, you don't deserve to win. And we didn't.