Thursday, April 30, 2015

If Boxing is Spiritual Then Pacquiao Will Beat Mayweather

     Again-if it is. Maybe it isn't. Maybe it's just a physical sport with know mental side. That's not what Mike Tyson's mentor believed-Cus D'Amato.

    Interestingly, Tyson-who believes boxing is spiritual-is no fan of Mayweather's either.

    Ok, so keep in mind the if. However, if this is so, then Manny should win as he wins the metaphysical game hands down. To listen to him-and his manager Freddy Roach-explain it, this is a lot more than a simple fight between two individual boxers but a bout suffused with higher purpose, that affects the very Universe itself. 

    Mayweather's narrative on the other hand is hardly compelling: basically, he's the best, he always has been, and Manny like all the other pretenders has bitten off more than he can chew.

     Manny's narrative is more compelling. Steve Roach is part of this. As Skip Bayless pointed out today on Espn's First Take, Mayweather hardly has a trainer-his father. Mayweather sounds like he's putting it all on his being better, but Manny makes it sound like some great spiritual quest. 

    So I guess it comes down to this: does God care who wins a boxing match? If no, pick Mayweather; if so pick Manny. 

   No question Manny is the underdog. Yet this is not teh first time he's been the underdog and it worked pretty well being in this spot against de la Hoya. 

   "Manny Pacquiao soundly defeated Oscar De La Hoya, surprising many pre-fight analysts who had predicted a victory by De La Hoya. The fight ended at the beginning of the 9th round after Oscar and his corner threw in the towel.["

     In that fight Manny had to bulk up with La Hoya slimmed down to the Welterweight level. So while I agree him winning Saturday will be a big upset, it happened in 2008. Can lightening strike twice? 

     Yes-if God's a boxing fan. 

      P.S. For the record, nothing matters to me right now except these two things. 

      1. The fight

      2. The NFL draft. 

      I was watching Gruden's pre-draft show with Kiper on Espn. All I can say is, wow, that guy is great to watch I get how he was such a successful coach in the NFL-that go is just an incredible motivator. Just listening and watching him in action makes you happy. That's what it takes to be a leader of men, to get them to follow you anywhere. 

      I noted something to this effect regarding Ray Lewis yesterday, who was supposed to be on the air tonight or the draft but has instead focused on helping his city get through the current deep problems.



Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Floyd Mayweather Jr-Manny Pacquiao Fight as OJ Simpson Redux

      Sorry, but I can't help but notice the similarities. Say this for Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith: they've done a brilliant job of promoting interest in this fight.

      The whole format of First Take is brilliantly conceived-the brilliant sportswriter Bayless had decided he needed to be paired with an African-American host. The idea is that in most of the great sports debates there is usually also a racial dimension.

     Going into this weekends fight though I can't help but notice that it has shown a racial dimension. Black folks seem to support Mayweather and see it as a betrayal not to do so, whereas, those who aren't black seem to go for Manny.

     So does racial determinism totally decide who you want in the fight? It recalls the OJ Simpson verdict where white folks were hanging their heads and black folks were dancing in their beauty parlors.

     I come into this fight with no strong horse I'm backing. I'm not sure who I think I will win. I will say this-if you simply push the racial question off to the side; of course in reality this isn't possible-I can't say I find Mayweather very likable. Of course, nothing says that the most likable boxer will win.

     Mayweather just doesn't strike me as terribly likable. Now does that matter? Well I don't agree with those who say that he shouldn't be allowed to fight at all or that anyone who is opposed to domestic violence-which Mayweather has been charged with multiple times-is a hypocrite if they watch the fight-I certainly will be watching the fight and am totally opposed to domestic violence.

    However, in deciding as I am who to root for I see little that I like or admire about Mayweather-outside of the ring that is; his in the ring record speaks for itself-and this effects my choice.

    I kind of feel as if the only reason to root for him-why the African American community is largely behind him-is they feel to not do so is a kind of betrayal of racial solidarity.

    For what it's worth, my own ethnicity is mixed-I'm a Mulatto; both black and white.

    Again, outside of the racial question-as Stephen A explains it, a lot of black folks feel like the larger non-black society is uniformly against Mayweather which explains a large part of why the black community is so strongly for him-I find Manny much more likable.

    He also seems to really want this fight. I like the way he talks about it in almost metaphysical terms. Listening to him you feel like there is more at stake than simply a boxing match-he sounds like this is a battle between Good and Evil; he's talked about winning this fight in a beautiful way; I mean some will see this as overdone but I think it infuses the match with larger purpose.

   It's as if there is cosmic difference in who wins.

    Mayweather for his part has nothing so compelling to say. Stephen A says that all Manny's razzing of the undefeated champ is rousing a slumbering giant. I think it's notable that he admits that it takes being razzed to get him up for the fight.

    All he can really say is that he is 47-0 and Manny is no different.

     This is not really at this point a prediction. After all, just because I like Manny more personally, and find his overall narrative more compelling doesn't mean that he is the better fighter. That remains to be seen. However, the more I listen to him, the more I want him to win. 

    One guy who is not just likable but just incredibly motivational is Ray Rice. Listening to him here urge the local community against rioting, I feel like putting on a uniform or something.

    P.S. As far as the Baltimore riots are concerned, we're again seeing the OJ effect of course. It seems to me that there are too extreme positions that have to be avoided. Either blanket criticism of the protesters for the very unfortunate looting and vandalism-culminating with the burning down of the CVS-but also the blanket dismissal of criticism of the protesters who do go down the violent or illegal road.

    Being angry about police misdeeds-no matter how legitimate-don't give anyone license to loot, steal, or destroy property-especially in one's own community, which is just absurd.

    It makes no sense to be angry and want to be heard ans so you: burn down your own house. 

When it Comes to a 'Left-Right Alliance' on Anything, Pessimism is Warranted

     Greg Sargent wants to believe that criminal justice and police reform-after the unrest of Baltimore-could garner such an alliance. 

     "Criminal justice and police reform is one area where there is real potential for a left-right alliance between libertarian conservatives concerned about big, intrusive government and civil liberties progressives whose focus is more oriented towards racial disparities in sentencing and victimization at the hands of police. But there are limits to that alliance."

    There are 'limits'-to say the least. I find this sort of talk almost quixotic. Sargent then talks about Rand Paul(!) as being a possible ally. However, he admits there are problems here:

    "Libertarians such as Rand Paul — who is running for president — agreethat sentencing disparities and the over-militarization of the police have a starkly racial dimension. And Senator Paul’s much-discussed claim that the “lack of fathers” contributed to the Baltimore violence is actually in keeping with his criticism of such sentencing disparities, i.e., the idea that it has taken too many fathers out of communities, as Philip Bump shows."

     "However, libertarians like Paul still tend to view these broader problems as symptomatic of irrevocably oppressive big government, as opposed to seeing federal power and spending as a potential remedy for racial injustice, urban poverty and violence. Meanwhile, all the 2016 GOP candidates are likely to rally behind visions similar to the GOP budgets, which include deep cuts to exactly the sort of spending Obama talked about yesterday. And with Obama likely to continue talking about these issues, the GOP hopefuls will have to stake out positions in opposition to his prescriptions and general posture. So it’ll be interesting to see how hard Clinton leans into the argument as Obama framed it yesterday."
     I just have a real problem believing in the sincerity of 'libertarians.' Fundamentally, they are not about liberty. For the most part their alleged concern for liberty is relegated to the economic rather than social sphere. They are much less concerned with social issues even if they claim to believe in liberty there as well. 
  Somehow they usually manage to end up breaking bread with their conservative Republican brethren with little problem and mostly mute any such libertarian stirrings on social issues. Yes, they may sometimes claim to be for gay rights, the end of the 'War on Drugs' and even for abortion rights-as Barry Goldwater himself did. 
  Yet, if they really meant this they'd be able to so seamlessly mesh with their conservative brethren much less. 
  Regarding Rand Paul, specifically, his most well known libertarian position is that he still opposes the Civil Rights Act over 50 years later, as he's very concerned about the liberty of restaurant owners to refuse service to black folks. For someone to be refused service based on their race-or like in the Indiana law, their sexual orientation-that is not a violation of their liberty. After all, if they don't like it they can go to another restaurant-and if every restaurant in the region refuses them service then they can just move somewhere else. 
  I argued last week that libertarian is a euphemism for conservative and conservatives are not about liberty but preserving traditional lines of authority.
   When you read Paul that way, his positions become a lot more coherent. 
    I do think this election is going to give us a chance to bring the questions of police reform, the drug war, etc. back to the forefront-after being off the agenda for years and this is a very good thing. However, it will be, like every other important issue today, a partisan debate. 
   Democrats will call for reform, the GOP will do what they can to beat these calls back. 
   P.S. Basically 'libertarians'and I'd broadly place someone like Sumner here as well-are about preserving traditional lines of authority. Even Rand's comment about the loss of fathers in the inner city can be read in a conservative way as well-as a dig at feminism for breaking up the family. 
  When you think about conservatives and libertarians,they are consistent. On economic issues the liberty they have in mind usually is the rights of employers over employees, the rich over the poor etc-while on social issues they usually lean against social change. It's actually consistent when you get what it's really about. 
   P.S.S. Regarding Sumner, his piece here obviously fits my definition as does this piece he linked to from Alex Tabborak

   The conservative strand tying both pieces together in their opposition to 'efficiency wages' is that they oppose a higher minimum wage. Why? Because it empowers workers relative to their employers. It's not hard to follow libertarian logic. It's just some clever packaging. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The NL Lack of a DH as a Testament to Human Stubbornness

     We're hearing noises now that the NL is finally going to get the DH. We've heard this one so much that my feeling about it is that I'll believe it when I see it. 

     What is amazing to me is not that it might finally happen that it has taken this long-46 years and counting. 

     "If you’re not ready for the designated hitter to be part of National League baseball, your time to get ready is getting shorter by the day. It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when, and more than that, it’s a matter of how."

     "Tony Clark, the players union chief and himself a designated hitter 101 times during his career, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Monday the “topic has come up, independent of us bringing it up.” This is the result of Major League Baseball’s move to two 15-team leagues, necessitating interleague play every day throughout the season, meaning that come September, some contenders are playing games under the other league’s rules.
    Here is a list of 'Five irrational Reasons to not Accept the DH'
    and here are 5 reasons according to Forbes the NL will have it soon:
    "No matter the fervor. No matter your love of the chess match between double-switches, and the joy of <gasp!> pitchers hitting home runs, it’s time for Major League Baseball to put the designated hitter in the National League. Just get ready for it.  Quit fighting it. Stop saying this is the road to ruin. There’s good reasons that now, more than ever, Major League Baseball needs to put the DH in the NL. You may not like it, but it’s almost surely going to happen, possibly as early as 2016."
    For me it's not hard. After all:
     1. I'm an American League guy-I root for the New York Yankees
     2. I respect pitching and understand it's vital importance but for me I prefer offensive slugfests to pitching duels. 
     3. The MLB has suffered an offensive contraction the last few years at it is. 
     Not everyone is on board however, though for the most part the Player's Union has been for it-as it means another highly paid player salary. 
      Madison Bumgarner saw Max Scherzer’s comments advocating that the designated hitter should be instituted in both leagues, and asserting that nobody pays to see a pitcher “swinging a wet newspaper.”
     "Any thoughts on that, Madison?"
    “Oh, well, my wet newspaper is 34 ½ inches, 33 ½ ounces, and I’m waiting on some new ones right now,” said Bumgarner, asked for comment.
     "One more thing: Bumgarner hit two grand slams with that newspaper last season."
     Impressive though Bumgarner is an outlier and overall this move will increase offense. 
     What impresses me, again, is that it's been this long. It just shows how  long traditionalists can hold on for. I can't help but think about other social issues-sports say a lot about society to say the least. Sometimes liberals like myself like to think that time is on our side-that fossilized ideas will soon give way. 
     Yet, you have to also be impressed how long bad ideas can hold on for. I can't but think of Clarence Darrow who even upon losing his big case against the death penalty sort of gloated to the effect that the future belonged to him and would agree with him. 
     Yet that was 81 years ago.
      How smug would he feel today? Arguably, the tide is against the death penalty here in the US-with it obsolete in Western Europe. Still, it's not totally defunct in the US by any means. 
      I'm not sure that I am categorically against it's use. Still on many issues that I agree with the progressive position we seem to see very halting progress. It gets you to thinking: how much is belief in societal evolution a pleasant illusion? The human race can be stubborn and can stubbornly hold onto some pretty arcane social practices. 
     P.S. I'm struck that the belief in the rights of LGBT has just skyrocketed in recent years but the belief in say a woman's right to choose still is highly contested. This is why I don't think Madonna was nuts to argue that the rights of gays are more advanced than those of women.
     A lot of people acted like that comment by her was ridiculous but I don't agree. The answer as to 'who is more oppressed' between say a woman, a gay, and a black is probably in the bird's eye view unanswerable. The discrimination in these different cases is different in kind and so it's not really possible to say who is 'more oppressed.'
     P.S. Here is a piece on gays vs. the transgender community.
     I taped the Bruce Jenner interview and am currently watching it. I have to say that as he relates his experience it seems to me to beg as many questions as it answers. Apparently he has the 'soul of a woman' yet he also is sexually attracted to women.
     So does this mean he's straight-or gay? You might say it makes him straight-but if he's really a woman doesn't this mean he's gay? You have the Howard Stern level humor of straight guys saying "I'm a lesbian trapped in man's body' but Bruce might seem to literally be just that. 
    I like that that LGBT article points out that there are differences between gay people and transgender people. Not surprisingly, some see transgender folks as inspiring of political fights against the existence of the nation state.
  It's been argued that the Jews were uniquely hated because of their being a people not attached to a particular nation state. Then something like this I guess you could say was imposed on Africans sold into slavery across the world. 
   I will admit I still don't totally get the transgendered phenomenon. I don't have a problem with them having political rights but I don't wholly understand it. 
  The point seems to be that gender is a purely arbitrary thing. I don't agree-I think gender is a real thing-though I get Zizek's point that while sexual difference exists there is no way to quantify exactly what this difference is. Speaking of Zizek.
   Yet if I understand the TG position if tomorrow I decide I'm really a woman everyone has to act as if this is true? 
    P.S.S. I think it's fair to say that the one thing you can't accuse my posts of is not covering a ar field: this piece started out on the DH, toched on abortion, traditionalism, the death penalty, gays, transgenders, and Zizek. 
    My original point still stands though: the human race can be very stubborn-I guess Freud would say 'anal?'


Monday, April 27, 2015

Mets Learn First Lesson of Baseball: Never Discount the NY Yankees

      Discount is exactly what the NY baseball pundits have done until now.

      My objection hasn't been the lauding of the Mets-though their 13-3 start was only 16 games and they no Michael Kay, they hadn''t played that many good teams; ok they did beat the Nationals 2 of 3 games to start the year. Of course, the question that begs is: are the Nationals still a good team?

     Ok, the Mets have to play who's on their schedule, I grant that. And, what you notice in today's baseball, is there aren't that many good teams-period.

      However, you know who has beaten some good teams? How about the Yankees? Nobody thinks they're the dominant team anymore but they keep beating the teams that are supposed to be the top teams. First they played the Tigers. They lost the first one where CC pitched lights out but he lost a tough pitching duel 2-1. At that point Detroit was 11-2 and the Yanks were 6-7. The Yanks then went on to sweep the last 3 in Detroit.

     Now, this weekend, playing-according to the Michael Kays of the world-the Amazin Mets, maybe the best team to ever play the game-that's what you'd think listening to Kay or the announcers on last night's game on ESPN.

     The Yanks ended their 11 game win streak and then went on to beat them 2 of 3.

    Now the Bombers-they lead the league in home runs-play the Devil Rays tonight with both teams sharing the AL East lead at 11-8. I guess this is another chance to beat a top team-though the Rays sure didn't look like a top team last week when the Yanks swept them in Tampa.

    P.S. Listening to the announcers on ESPN Sunday Night last night as usual we were treated to the anti A-Rod management position. The idea that we could be treated to the other side of any question is unthinkable I guess. Apparently A-Rod should just forget the $6 million the Yankees are supposed to pay him when he ties Willie Mayes at 660-which he will do with his next HR after last night's first inning shot-because: He doesn't need it. 

   Ok, so do the Steinbrenners or Cashman need the $6 million? One of the worst arguments about why you don't have to pay money that you've agreed to pay them is: Well, gee, you don't need it, so I'll just hold onto it.

   Because you know. the Steinbrenners can't afford $6 million.

   In truth, this is purely vindictive. Why you would want to do this, where the team has a real chance to contend, and A-Rod if he can stay healthy looks like he may be a big part of this. Why would you want to argue about $6 million right now.

   The answer is that it's not about the money-for either side, it's true. For A-Rod it's about recognition of what he's accomplished-yes, a lot of people claim what he's done is tarnished, though I have no sympathy for that view.

   For the Cashman, it's just a vindictive desire to hurt A-Rod and deny him this recognition. The argument that the Yankees are making that his 660th HR is no longer a marketable event is absurd. If that were true whey are we all talking about this? In a way there's more focus than ever precisely because of this conflict.

   They're upset that A-Rod sued them-but I for one think he had cause-to say nothing about the Player's Union who had promised that those tests in 2004 would be anonymous.

    P.S. Some have suggested the people criticizing the Yankees for their treatment of A-Rod hate the Yankees. Obviously, reading me you can see this is not true-I love the Yankees, just think they should be smarter than this, even better than this.

    At least they're not being as shortsighted as how the Angels treated Josh Hamilton-simply eating that huge contract and letting him go to the Texas Rangers-a major divisional rival.

    "Hamilton's trade back to the Rangers is not official, so no reintroductions are in order yet. The proposed swap – with no other player involved – has to be approved by Major League Baseball and the players association because of the amount of money involved and because Hamilton would be forfeiting about $6 million of the more than $80 million left on the five-year, $125 million contract he signed in December 2012."

    "With Hamilton forfeiting money - expected to be made up by Texas' lack of a state income tax - and the Rangers kicking in about $2 million a year, the Angels are expected to pay Hamilton $68 million to go away."

    "And end a strange and at times ugly saga in the franchise's history."

     "The Hamilton deal, in which the Rangers will add the slugger for the cost of a tank of gas in Southern California, has percolated all weekend. With the Rangers, Angels, Hamilton's representatives, Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association all involved, there is a lot of dialogue and a lot of detail to iron out and approve. It is expected to be receive final approval Monday morning."
     "The bottom line is this: When everything is completed, the Rangers will get Hamilton back from Los Angeles at a cost of about $6 million spread over three years. The Rangers will send no players back to the Angels. Hamilton, however, has not played this season while recovering from shoulder surgery. He is expected to be ready in 2-3 weeks. For now, his "arrival" is more of a conceptual boost for the beleaguered hitters."

    So at least, the Yankees are not the Angels.




Hey Beltway Media: at Least the Clinton Global Initiative Does Some Good

      Watching Face the Nation yesterday the Very Serious People were like vultures on this phony scandal cooked up by a paid Republican flak, Peter Schweitzer. We're told by Peter Baker that the American people can't trust her because her husband has a worldwide philanthropic organization. We're told breathlessly that 'the Clintons handle all this money.'

     The sexism here couldn't be more blatant-what part of it's her husband's initiative do these oh so serious people not understand? Do they think that Jeb Bush has never handled money? What gets me is that, Jeb has 'handled lots of corporate money' but in his case it's just for private interests. All his wealthy friends that give him money give it to him for private use. At least with Bill Clinton's initiative-again it's his not hers-it's for just some really important and wonderful philanthropic work.

    The Wall Street Journal's Kimberley Strassell-are you kidding me? What a wonderful person she is!-argues that the fact that there are no facts to support Schweitzer's yellow journalism just doesn't matter. All that matters is 'the appearance.' Right no wrongdoing has been shown but all that matters is that the GOP's opposition research team is trying to create the appearance that it has.

    Then she piously declares that Bill Clinton should have shutdown his philanthropic concern while she was Secretary of State. People might think that if you work at the WSJ you take an attitude of 'Screw the little people, let them eat cake'-but regarding Ms. Strassell, Maria Antoinette couldn't have put it better. Right, all those poor people the world over have to be deprived of the CGI to please her and her snotty Republican friends at the Journal.

    This is how great a gal this woman is: shes trying to Acorn the CGI. I'm calling her wonderful as I'm trying not to say what I really think of her. It's good to see that we clear up another sexist myth here: Ms. Strassell shows that you can be a woman and still lack all compassion for anyone but you and your rich friends. Turns out it's a myth that all women are so compassionate.

     Indeed, in Schweitzer''s interview with George Stephanopoulos on yesterday he couldn't explain why he had no facts other than just to keep falling back on 'Well, gee, I'm just an author I don't have to prove anything I just have to engage in baseless speculation and innuendo.'

     Mr. Schweitzer is under the impression that authors by definition live in a fact free universe-he must be very close with his friends at Fox News. We know these are the circles he runs with.

     If I were Lucifer-the Devil; you know the 'Prince of Darkness'-I'd be nervous that Schweitzer is trying to take my job-at least as far as being the 'Father of Lies.' The story that he's going to have a Jeb Bush book to follow Hillary's seems to be yet another one of his lies:

    "Journalists have suggested that conservative author Peter Schweizer's forthcoming book attacking Hillary Clinton is more credible because he will follow it up with a similar book examining Jeb Bush. But according to his publisher, no such book is in the works: Schweizer's reporting on Bush will be published on the website ofhis non-profit organization."

     "Over the past few days numerous media outlets have begun reporting on allegations Schweizer makes in his forthcoming book Clinton Cash about allegedly unethical ties between the Clinton Foundation and actions Hillary Clinton purportedly made as secretary of state. Critics -- including Media Matters -- have noted that Schweizer is a Republican activist and strategist with a history of reporting errors."

     "Pushing back against this narrative, Bloomberg Politics reported on April 23 that in contrast to the "left-wing clamor that Schweizer is simply out to get Hillary Clinton," "Schweizer is working on a similar investigation of Jeb Bush's finances that he expects to publish this summer."

     "Picking up the story, Politico reported that Schweizer "is reportedly working on another book that he expects to release in the summer. Only this time, he'll be writing about Jeb Bush." CNN likewise reported that the "book on Bush... would be published this summer."

     "But HarperCollins, the publisher of Clinton Cash, denies that any such book is in the works.
A spokesperson for the publisher told Media Matters that the forthcoming work is "not a book" but rather a "report of the Government Accountability Institute," where Schweizer is president.
"We have nothing to do with it," she added.

     Like I said, they're trying to Acorn the CGI. I notice that in his interview with Stephanopoulos he kept trying to claim disgraced GOP Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell as a precedent. So is Schweitzer saying that a crime has been committed? His answer was to say 'Gee I don't know, I'm just an author, but it ought to be looked at.'

     P.S. Just to give you a little more of the flavor of the kind of person we're talking about with Schwetizer check this out.

    He attacked Disney for 'endorsement of the homosexual life style.' 

     If you are a liberal, please don't tell me you are taking anything he's saying seriously-'But it is a serious charge, Hillary has handled a lot of money and she should explain and reassure us that she didn't use her clout to get the CGI deals.' 

     We need to close ranks against this. There is nothing wrong with anything Hillary did regarding the CGI. It is her husband's organization  and no one has proved she ever abused her position regarding it in her time as SOS.Full stop. Any liberal saying anything else is being part of the problem. 

     If someone claims otherwise the burden of proof is on them. Schwetizer is clearly not able to meet this burden-not even close. 








Friday, April 24, 2015

To Think the Yankees Prefer Michael Kay to Mike Francesa

      I mean to listen to Kay you'd think this is not YES, the Yankee network, but the Mets network. Yet they had him replace Francesa. Today Kay continued to rave about them and take issue with anyone who has criticized their 11 game win streak as not coming against winning teams.

       Look, obviously you have to play who's on your schedule. It's true that the 11 game win streak is very impressive and that the Mets have bought a lot of time with it-it would take an 11 game losing streak at some point in the season to just get back to even. Still, he's laying it on a bit thick. He read a stat that says that since 1901 teams that have started 13-3 have a .581. win percentage.

       Impressive but it proves nothing about what the Mets will end up with this year. I mean how about the 1986 Milwaukee Brewers? They started the year better than just 13-3 they started 13-0. Later they lost 12 in a row and ended up a respectable 91-71 but out of the playoffs-true that was before there was a wildcard.

       Look, I get Mets fans are excited but it's amazing to me how much the entire NY baseball media has conspired to crown them based on where things are on 4/24. Meanwhile they were ready to bury the Yanks because of a 14 start. Want to look at history? Well the 1998 Yankees started 1-4 too and they turned out ok.

      Of course, I'm not saying this Yankee team will end up with 114 regular season wins and the World Series title, I'm just arguing for a little perspective.

       Ok, you can only play who's on your schedule-though the Mets haven't beaten anyone as good as the Tigers who were 11-2 until the Yanks beat them 3 straight the last 3 nights.

      What I do think that Yankee fans-and probably the Yankee players as well-notice, is that everyone in the media is already acting like the Mets have supplanted the Yanks. The Mets were on the front page of the NY Post today with the headline 'Runaway Train: Mets Invade Yankee Stadium'

       Met fans are just so easy to mollify. They have 7 years of terrible baseball, but have one big win streak and they're 'Amazin' again.


Thursday, April 23, 2015

So Barry Bonds Didn't Obstruct Justice

     Of course, it won't matter to baseball as the facts have never mattered for the steroids witch hunt:

     "Baseball slugger Barry Bonds' conviction of obstructing justice during a government probe into steroid use was overturned by a U.S. appeals court on Wednesday, but the legal victory likely will not remove the tarnish attached to Bonds' on-the-field accomplishments."

    "The case involved testimony Bonds, 50, gave to a grand jury in 2003 about whether he used steroids to help him bash more long balls. Bonds told grand jurors about his childhood when asked whether his former trainer, Greg Anderson, had given him self-injectable substances."
The slugger was convicted on one obstruction charge in 2011, and the jury deadlocked on three perjury counts. His sentence of two years of probation and 30 days of home confinement was put on hold pending his appeal.
     No it 'won't remove the tarnish' as the writer, Dan Levine, smugly hastens to add. However, it does underscore the hypocrisy of this 'tarnish' that is wholly insensible to facts. Basically Bud Selig and the baseball writers have decided that Bonds must be an eternal pariah and facts are not allowed to have any say in this decision. 
    If the obstruction charge had been upheld the scolds would have all been doing their self-righteous jigs in the street about what a bad actor Bonds is and how he sullied the game. However, this didn't happen so all they can say is 'Well, it doesn't matter anyway.'
   That it matters if it's the verdict they want but not the verdict they don't want shows the hypocrisy of this whole exercise. 
    When Roger Clemens beat charges that he lied to Congress the steroid scolds dismissed that too. 
    The fact still remains that neither Bonds or Clemens, nor Sosa, nor Mark McGwire  have ever failed a drug test. But this doesn't matter. The steroid scolds just know what they know based on their own inferences from what was in Jose Canseco's book and that's enough to build an unimpeachable case. 
   I guess Bonds knew what he was doing when he said this:
   "Asked if Anderson ever gave him a substance that required a syringe, Bonds answered: "I was a celebrity child, not just in baseball by my own instincts. I became a celebrity child with a famous father. I just don't get into other people's business because of my father's situation."
   He was smart enough not to lie. 
   P.S. Not surprisingly, no 'libertarians' come to Bonds' defense nor of these other great players unjustly persecuted. Their silence speaks volumes. They don't care about liberty, they are just conservatives by another name and what conservatives care about is preserving traditional power.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Yankees 13 Tigers 4: Old Bombers Blow Away the New Bombers

     After a 1-4 start everyone was writing off the Yankees-the prognisticators had all told us they'd be no good before the Spring anyway.

     No one thought they'd be that good and the 1-4 start was seen as definitive proof. I felt like getting this excited over 5 games was overkill: the 1998 Yankees started 1-4 too and that ended up ok.

     Ok, I know this is not the 1998 Yanks but I did think that the pessimism was overkill. Still, their offense in those first few games-especially in the first series against the Blue Jays was rather putrid. I myself rather wistfully talked about how the Detroit Tigers are the new Bombers.

     Well the Yanks right away responded-I'm sure they read my post!-with a 14 run explosion against the Boston Red Sox.

      After breaking out, they went to Baltimore and while they didn't get blown out and easily could have won 2 of 3. Then A-Rod hit 2 homers in Tampa powering inspiring the Yanks as they went on to sweep the Devil Rays for their first series win of the year.

      After that sweep they were back to .500 but that was the Devil Rays who don't seem to be a great team this year-though they did come back on the Red Sox tonight.

      The question was how would the Yanks do against the Tigers? Well they have somehow gone into Detroit and totally handled that team. CC Sabathia pitched a great game in the first game but lost a hard luck 2-1 decision as the Yanks were shut down by the very tough Alfredo Simon that night.

      Last night Eovaldi stepped up with a strong 7 innings as the Yanks again shut down that potent Tiger offense, this time winning 5-2.

      Tonight, the Yanks basically facing the Tigers' ace in David Price roughed him up for 6 first inning runs forcing him to throw over 50 pitches in the inning. Everyone got into the act even Dido Gregorious and Gregorio Petit. These two guys one with a very long last name and one with a very long first name that sound very similar were both having a tough season so far but both found their bats tonight.

     With the win, the Yanks are now within 1 game of the Red Sox-who as noted above, Tampa Bay beat. Now with the Yankee ace pitching tomorrow who knows? If Tanaka is half as good as he was last Saturday the Yanks will leave town somehow having taken 3 of 4 from the 'New Bombers.'

     There's a lesson here: never bet against the Yankees.

     What never made any sense with all the breast beating about the Yankees at the end of the 90s-how the league didn't have competitive balance and the fans would stop watching-attendance kept going up and up. And even more to the point, they made it sound like Yankee dominance was something new. It's been around since Ruth. Yet fans kept watching.

    P.S. In reality competitive balance is about one thing: trying to keep down player's salaries.



Wall Street Journal Slanders Marvin Miller

     When I came across this WSJ piece I had hope. It started out pretty good.

     "Marvin Miller, the executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association from 1966 to 1982, said that when he assumed that post, ballplayers were “the most exploited group of workers I had ever seen—more exploited than the grape pickers ofCesar Chavez.” They were bound by “a reserve clause that made the players prisoners”with “no grievance procedure, no salary arbitration, no nothing.” Robert F. Burk’s book is the first comprehensive biography of Miller, the former steelworkers union official who transformed the toothless Players Association into what may be the nation’s most powerful private-sector union. Mr. Burk ranks Miller’s contributions to the sport with those of Babe Ruth,Branch Rickey and Jackie Robinson, calling Miller’s exclusion from baseball’s Hall of Fame an “inexplicable snub.”

     Of, certainly a highly accurate paragraph. It quotes Burk' without disputing it, leading the reader to presume that the WSJ agrees with this opinion. I agree too, except, that's it's not so inexplicable, and it certainly wasn't hard to understand for Miller. 

     Meanwhile, his archenemy, the Crown Prince himself, Bowie Kuhn is in, and no doubt the abysmal Bud Selig will be in as well. It's not hard to understand: if you're for the rights of labor you don't get in, is you uphold the owners' interests, you get streets paved of gold named for you. 

    What is somewhat inexplicable, is this apparent agreement on this point from the WSJ. As noted in a previous post, Krugman points out that what conservatives-even those who call themselves 'libertarians'-are about is hardly 'liberty' but rather the preservation of traditional authority-after all, what exactly are they trying to 'conserve?'

     So in this vein, who is more conservative and libertarian than the Journal? Yet, they approve of the rise in power of MLB players? Of course not. Here, the writer gives the game away. Notice the technique-it's classic WSJ, and classic conservative-or 'libertarian.'

     "As Mr. Burk puts it, Miller approached his dealings with baseball management with “the class-conscious intensity of a man molded by the ideological struggles of his younger days.” The author reveals that, in the 1930s, Miller was an ardent Popular Front leftist whose pro-Soviet views survived the Nazi-Soviet Pact. He was later a supporter of the Communist-backed Progressive Party candidacy of Henry Wallace for president in 1948. One has to wonder if the conservative-minded Players Association (which once unsuccessfully pressed an astonished, newly appointed Miller to engage Richard Nixon as general counsel and co-leader) would have chosen Miller as its leader if its members had been aware of this political history."

    So that's how the Journal takes issue with Miller here. Not by taking issue with his actual record, but by going Joe McCarthy on him: he's a Communist. Case closed. We now know why he doesn't belong in the Hall: he was a Communist. 

    My point I'm trying to focus on is how they do it here-it works pretty well. No? Listen to a commentator, Jeffrey McEarlen:

     How ironic it is to learn that an unrepentant Communist had so much influence in "America's pastime." The flipside would be having Steve Forbes coach the Russian Hockey team.

     Well that might have worked better than having John Dupont coach the American wrestling team!

     So message received by the very impressionable and thoughtful, Jeffrey. This is the kind of guy it must be a pleasure to know. 

     You talk about Pavlov's Dog? I mean just ring the He was a Communist' bell and Mr. McEarlen commences foaming at the mouth. 

      Meanwhile, it's a lie. Miller was not a Communist or socialist.

     Miller and the players union had the one truly consistent pro capitalist position in baseball. The owners in all the big sports are the ones who want sociialism. For years they opposed free agency-which is a basic worker right of the capitalist system-to have labor mobility. 

     The owners wanted a salary cap, and when they fell on their face-in baseball; in the NFL they lacked a Marvin Miller and ended up with exactly that; even today NFL style 'free agency' is hardly free-and had to give up their precious salary cap they imposed a luxury tax and revenue sharing which in any case didn't lead to the 'small market' teams from spending more money on the players-thereby sort of falsifying the whole thesis that they wanted these things to achieve 'comeptitive balance.'

    What this does then is give fans the worst of all worlds-the revenue redistribution doesn't lead to more spending by the alleged small market teams but takes away the incentive of the big market teams-like my NY Yankees-to spend more. 

    Again, if you believe that the WSJ is 'libertarian' this makes no sense. If you understand that this word  is just a euphemism for reactionaries who want to bolster traditional authority it makes a lot of sense. 

    The goal of conservatives is not 'liberty'-even economic liberty as Miller's position promoted econoimc liberty at any term-while they slander him as a Communist. It's about traditional authority-the power of the owners over the players in this case. 

    What this episode shows is that their reactioary agenda is totally in line with socialism. The baseball owners are not capitalists but they are true conservatives. 

      The writer, Henry D. Fetter finishes off with this illogical idea:

      "Miller’s unyielding defense of players accused of wrongdoing was criticized even by his admirers, as was his denial that steroid abuse was a problem and his opposition to the mandatory drug testing of players. He lambasted fans who complained that mediocre players were receiving inflated paychecks, saying that they were ignorant of the business realities of the sport. But Miller also understood that, as he told one team owner, “when it comes to collective bargaining, bankrupt is a dirty word.”

      "Along with vastly increased player compensation, the sport’s annual revenues have grown from $50 million in 1966 to $9 billion. Nowadays millionaire players face off against billionaire owners, and it is the fan who finds that his interests lack a voice in the councils of the game. At the same time, baseball has ceded its claim to being the “national pastime” to football, which now far outstrips baseball in popularity. Mr. Burk does not consider whether the changes in baseball resulting from the rise of the Players Association may have contributed to that loss of status. No one can deny Miller’s revolutionary influence on the sport. Whether it was always “in the best interests of baseball” will be endlessly debated."

      Regarding bankruptcy, a basic pillar of labor law is that for an employer to cry poverty, they have to show their books. 

      This idea that baseball has become less popular than football is absurd. For the record, football players make pretty good money these days themselves-so it's not as if fans are attracted the leagues where the players have the lowest salaries. Otherwise, the NHL would be King, rather than a distant fourth among the Big 4. 

    The main reason that football as surpassed baseball is that the NFL handled tv contracts much ore skillfully and adeptly. 

     P.S. I did have high hopes for the piece. No question Miller belongs in the Hall but could the WSJ publish a piece saying so? I had my doubts which naturally were well placed. If the Journal had done so, they'd be on better ground to claim they care about 'liberty.'