Thursday, November 01, 2007

A Cry in the Wilderness

If anyone reads this, please, tell Omar Minaya not to offer Jorge Posada a five year contract, through his age 41 season, or even a four year contract. I know the Mets can afford to waste money, but I just don't see even his 2008 being so good that it will be worth what will probably be a Javy Lopez-esque decline from his career year. Lopez was actually two years younger when he hit his 49 home runs than Posada was last year, when he (Posada) hit 20 home runs.

Yes, there are nice secondary skills, with doubles power and a keen eye, but damn. You just shouldn't give catchers that old deals for that long at dollars that big (reportedly low teens per).

Unless, of course, you think it will really spike the attendance numbers, but I'm not seeing it.

Friday, June 22, 2007

More like this

Not generally a fan of Slate’s political coverage generally or Fred Kaplan in particular, but I am very happy to see pieces like this which call attention to the fact that that Rudy Giuliani is a preposterous fraud.

(Via TPM)

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

My Ryan Crocker conspiracy theory

The U.S. Ambassador to Iraq was on "Meet the Press" this past Sunday (transcript). Watching him, I was struck by how meek and ineffective his presentation was. Looking and sounding like a slightly more youthful Peter Gammons, Crocker was so slow to come up with good answers to Russert's questions that I think Timmy took them on a decided turn for the fluffy in the second half.

Whatever might be said of the Bush White House, they are good at showmanship, and this guy was a glaring exception. I indulged in the sneaking suspicion that he was not given the Ambassadorship to lead any diplomatic effort in Iraq. Because if there's anything more ingrained in the administration than showmanship, it's an aversion to any form of diplomacy other than threatening varying degrees of economic or military action.

What they would want in an Ambassador to Iraq is a guy who seems genuine and hardworking but nonetheless helps convince the American people that diplomacy leads nowhere. I think Crocker fits that bill.

Crazy, right? I thought so too, but now I'm really starting to wonder. In today's WaPo: "Embassy Staff In Baghdad Inadequately Staffed, Rice Is Told"

Told by Crocker, that is. Some choice quotes:

"Simply put, we cannot do the nation's most important work if we do not have the Department's best people," Crocker said in the memo.

But surely our resolute Ambassador is making progress with the cards he was dealt, right?

"He's panicking," said one government official who recently returned from Baghdad, adding that Crocker is carrying a heavy workload...

What goes totally unmentioned in the article is what vital diplomatic efforts are being hindered by the lack of HR staff. But some things are crystal clear:

"They need a cohesive, coherent effort on all fronts," the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

Well I can see why, if he's going to drop bombshells like that.

Anyway I still, even after reading this article, don't have any proof that the White House is throwing the game at the U.S. Embassy. In fact, Crocker appears to be extremely, if not uniquely, qualified for the job. But this article sure makes him sound like the fall guy, and judging by his MTP performance he is perfect for the role.

The Triumphant Return of Jason Tyner

The Mets, under the steady hand of Steve Phillips, took Jason Tyner in the first round of the 1998 draft. In his last year at Texas A&M, he had hit .385/.418/.442 with 0 HR and 39 SB in 278 at bats.

Now, statistical analysis may not yet have realized fully mainstream acceptance, but my impression is that there isn't a GM in baseball at this point who would use a first round pick on a college outfielder who didn't walk or hit for any power at all.

But hitting singles and stealing loads of bases was enough to move him swiftly through the Mets system. After bringing the International League to it's knees in 2000 with a .321/.380/.349 line (mmmm.... similar...), Tyner got the call to Shea, and predictably excreted the worst cup of coffee in recent Mets history before being shipped to Tampa Bay.

Since then he's bounced repeatedly between the Devil Rays and AAA Durham, among other teams, basically doing the same thing all the time except for drawing more walks in the minors (because the pitchers are worse). Since 2005 he's been with the Twins/Rochester, and had been slightly above replacement level until this year.

So, a hearty welcome back to Jason Tyner. Even though he was taken waay too early, and never got any better, he was always good enough to be a fringe major league rosteree, and that's not nothin'.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Politico: Bush's dismal approval ratings good for Republicans

Not a problem, "an opportunity." Because everything is good for Republicans.

Mayor Lo Duca's Political Machine

"Be True to the Orange and Blue!"

That's what the Mets TV ad just told me to do. How does one stay true to the orange and blue, you might ask? By voting for Paul Lo Duca for the All-Star team. That was the sole message of the 15 second ad.

With two hits already tonight Lo Duca has raised his average above .300, which puts him right behind Brian McCann among qualified NL catchers. But Paul lacks any secondary skills beyond scrappiness. Look how the field stacks up on an OPS basis:

.806 Russell Martin (LA)
.763 Benji Molina (SF)

.749 Johnny Estrada (MIL)

.732 Michael Barrett (CHC)
.723 Paul Lo Duca (NYM)

That Martin character also leads NL catchers in runners thrown out (albeit on a lot of attempts) and has stolen 11 bags for himself, putting him ahead of the likes of Soriano, Freel and Beltran.

Hence the Mets' appeal to team loyalty in this TV campaign, which strikes me as rather unseemly given the team's natural market size advantage in the balloting process.
I mean there are already many, many more people voting for Paul Lo Duca than there should be, and God knows Reyes and Wright will win huge and deservedly so.

I'd much rather the team spent that money, say... scouting Adam Dunn than artificially and shamelessly maximizing its All-Star team representation.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

10 Ks for Chien Ming Wang

That's really not his usual game. The guy's been awesome, and a very good #2 starter behind Andy Pettite, but but he's been doing it without missing a lot of bats (to say the least), relying instead on the heavy sinker and pitching to contact. Tonight every Mets starter except Lo Duca struck out at least once, and he only had one AB before leaving with a bruised left elbow.

El Duque did not look good. Not that Alex Rodriguez really seems to care what the opposing pitcher throws these days, but a slow fastball on the inside corner is guaranteed pain.

The high point of the broadcast was the trade speculation, which I hadn't been paying much attention to. Apparently Omar is in talks with the White Sox about Mark Buehrle, and Houston about Brad Lidge.

I would make Buehrle the top priority of the two. The Tom Glavine career death watch is back in full effect after is last two drubbings, and even though Hernandez, Maine and Sosa(!) have been solid there's no need to bank on their remaining so. And aside from a disastrous 2006 (36 HR allowed) Buehrle has been damn good, like a more durable if slightly less effective Chien Ming Wang.

Brad Lidge would also be handy, and given the way the Astros pulled his closer card in mid-April it's possible he's underappreciated in Houston. Lidge had to whittle his ERA down to 2.35, and get some help from Dan Wheeler to get the job back, and of course what does he do but cough up a one run lead in his first opportunity. So he's still technically save-less, which is unusual for a closer at this point in the season.

BUT, he's also struck out 44 in 34.2 innings with a 2.44 ERA. So I predict that if the Mets get him and have him pitch the 8th in front of Wagner like old times, he will get effusive praise for pitching the exact same way he had been in Houston, just because he will no longer be measured by the most ridiculous statistic in baseball.

Whomever the Mets deal for, the idea is that the consideration will include Milledge, Gomez, and/or Fernando Martinez. I'd be fine with that. That's what those guys are there for, at least while the Mets are a legitimate championship contender, which they are... even though they just got dominated by Chien Ming Wang.

US Open prediction

Okay, here goes: Tiger wins.

I watched the middle of his round yesterday. It's just uncanny. I mean sure, the greens are big at Oakmont but to miss only one of them is a sign that his new swing works okay. I think if he fails to win this tournament, or falls short of Nicklaus's record, it will be due to his putting. He's kind of like Ben Hogan in the disparity between his ball-striking and his short-mid range putting.

But better. I bet he'll win 25 pro majors.


Close, but no cigar. I couldn't tell you anything about Angel Cabrera, but I liked that he was chain smoking, and hit a drive 397 yards.

Ann Althouse attacked me! Where's the support group?

As I anticipated, Ann Althouse's all-seeing eye of Technorati found my re-introductory post and my "confession" to being a troll on her blog. She throws it right in my kisser in the comments to this post.

As I pointed out to her, she of all people was well aware of my comments, being on the receiving end of them. Especially because I used the term "troll" to refer to myself on her blog, using the broader definition of "commenter who regularly antagonizes the blogger" rather than the formal "commenter who is only there to disrupt the conversation."

Anyway, she called me "a little shit who hates me and intends destruction -- by his own admission." So I'm feeling pretty proud of myself.

The issue at hand, btw, was her attack on Glenn Greenwald for this post, in which Greenwald addresses "the media's obsession with the faux-masculinity of GOP candidates in general, and the tough-guy military persona of Fred Thompson in particular..."

Ann's summary was as follows:

"Greenwald begins with the subject of how sexy and manly Fred Thompson is..."

That's the kind of unflinching dishonesty that characterizes the Althouse oeuvre. But it's not only that.

The main issue for Althouse isn't what Greenwald has to say about Chris Matthews (although she defends the Thompson business too as the kind of freewheeling, stream-of-consciousness thinking that she approves of). It's that in the same post Greenwald goes after the Instapundit Glenn Reynolds for bemoaning the state of American masculinity even though he "devotes his life to attending convention center conferences on space and playing around with new, cool gadgets in the fun room in his house, like a sheltered adolescent in his secret treehouse club..."

Of course she can't just come out and say: "Hey, that's my warm, supportive traffic generator you're talking about," so she argues that his accusation of hypocrisy is itself hypocritical (because it impugns Reynolds' masculinity). This isn't a good argument, but it's much better than her other main line of attack, which is that Greenwald uses too many words to make his points. This criticism is better founded but doesn't really discredit those points in the least.

Anyway, I just hope I can "leverage [her] popularity" as Jessica Valenti did (in Althouse's addled mind). I mean she got on Colbert fer cryin' out loud.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Perez vs. Clemens

Man I'd love to see Roger Clemens get smacked around, but I'm not sure it's in the cards.

8:39 - Reyes!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Man I'm Rusty

The west coast games are a killer. Bottom line: the Mets have dropped two in a row to the Dodgers, but the Dodgers are actually pretty good so it's not that surprising. Hong-Chih Kuo dominated the Mets lineup and cracked a home run, which is what you want to see if you're a Dodger fan.

I was going to comment on l'Affaire Mudcat and this Joe Klein/Ana Marie Cox podcast (both via the TPM media empire) but didn't get around to it. Short versions: Hiring Amanda Marcotte and Mudcat Saunders would seem to cancel the two out, and Joe Klein sounds like a raving madman ("38 years!").

More to come this evening, after I'm finished peddling my spare room to craigslist applicants (the horror, the horror).

Monday, June 11, 2007

The Flyin' Hawaiian (TM)

Shane Victorino, despite looking a little shaky with the bat, is having a pretty useful season. He's among the league leaders in steals, having only been caught twice. And he is the outright leader in outfield assists (Carlos Delgado helped add to the total this past weekend).

But I was a little surprised to read this at the bottom of this recap in the Philadelphia Inquirer last week, after his walkoff home run:

He hopes to trademark his "Flyin' Hawaiian" nickname and use it to market a clothing line. The logo will be his home state's island chain. The second-year player figures that sort of thing is a long way off.

"That stuff comes after you get famous," he said before the game.

Walkoff homers foster fame.

Indeed they do, but I think Shane is right to wait and see on the apparel-selling fame. It turns out he's not the first "Flyin' Hawaiian." In fact there's a drink called that already, among other things. The Google search lists as the #2 result the MySpace page of a guy who claims his friends have been calling him "The Flyin' Hawaiian" since 1990 (when he moved to Oklahoma).

My only point here is that the road to riches from the "Flyin' Hawaiian" name will be fraught with IP peril, and that's if, if he becomes a very famous baseball player. Fortunately his day job pays quite well.

Specter at His Wormiest

Arlen Specter is a truly bizarre character. Here he is on the floor of the Senate, explaining that while Republicans don't in fact have confidence in Alberto Gonzales, he doesn't expect them to vote that way and does so himself only grudgingly. He goes on to accuse Democrats of "outright political chicanery" for holding the vote.

Whenever an improper or illegal activity on the part of the administration is revealed, Specter's first move is always to distinguish himself from virtually all other Republicans by recognizing it as such and registering a certain amount of concern. But he never, ever, wants anything to come of it.

Illegal wiretapping? That's bad, says Arlen, but we should really legalize it retroactively, and make warrants optional in the future.

As the U.S. Attorney scandal was developing, Specter knew that Gonzales had lied at his press conference, and said as much. But he (Specter) wasn't going to "judge" on that basis alone, and was outraged at Sen. Leahy's efforts to get sworn testimony from DoJ and White House staff.

The question is: is this better than there being no Republicans at all who make noises over Bush administration lawbreaking? Or is it detrimental to have a "centrist" Republican who appears to be as outraged as the rest of us, yet tells us doing anything about it would be highly damaging to Republicans and therefore partisan and wrong? I'm on the fence, personally.

Jack Cafferty has the definitive Specter takedown.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Tom Glavine

I've been very wrong about Tom Glavine. Ever since his 2003 Mets debut, which was his worst season since the 80s, and the Mets' worst season this decade, I've been on career death watch. He wasn't even that bad (just below league-average ERA). But he was so damnably old! He was 37 that year, and I figured it was over. Umpires would stop giving him the extra one or six inches off the plate. His velocity would gradually approach batting practice range, and the flinty-eyed New Englander would have to call it a career.

Now, it could very well be the case that the umpires aren't giving him as much room, and his velocity has dipped, but it just hasn't mattered that much. He's been money in the bank.

There's of course the hoary cliche about the aging pitcher who, late in his career, makes up for his lost velocity by changing speeds and improving his command. Well in Glavine's case it's absolutely true. Yes, he was kind of a finesse pitcher even in his prime, but in each of his age 38-41 seasons he's walked 2.3 batters per nine, below his overall career average of 2.6. He's been every bit a front of the rotation starter.

Until today. Today he got mugged like that 101 year-old woman in the highly-rated YouTube video. Yes, it's grainy but that's Tom in the vestibule.

Is this thing on?

So it's been almost a year since I stopped blogging, and I'm starting to get that itch. I've spent my time in the wilderness, grown a beard, been nominated for a Nobel Prize... oh wait that's not me.

To recap the time that I missed, the Mets did indeed make the playoffs, then there was that called strike three, then the offseason, and now here we are.

There are a couple changes in format to announce, one thematic and two stylistic.

To begin with the thematic, I had shied away from including politics on this blog for a couple reasons:

a) blogs that cover multiple subjects are never going to have the same depth as specialized blogs and
b) it would mean forfeiting the readership of conservative Mets fans.

In retrospect, these were ridiculous concerns. My posts are less than a thousand words each, which isn't enough for much "depth" no matter how laser-focused they might be. And as for losing conservative readers... I hardly have any readers to lose. And who needs wingnut traffic anyway? Not this guy.

Actually, that may not be true. A few people probably stumble on this site from my Blogger profile, which occasionally people click hoping to answer the question: "Who is this guy who hates Ann Althouse so much?" It's not something I'm especially proud of, but yes, I am probably one of her most prolific trolls. I can't stand her. I just can't, and I want to do my small part to discourage her from blogging, or at least to denigrate her in the eyes of her readers. That may sound sad and petty, but I ask that you withhold judgment unless/until you're familiar with her work, which is truly a force of evil in this world (pretty photos, tho).

But in any case I figured people don't want their sports and their politics mixed. This could be true of a lot of people, but they are welcome to take their eyeballs elsewhere. This is not going to become a massive media empire, so I'm going to talk shit about Republicans if I want to.

Which brings us to my first stylistic change: "Now With Profanity!" The decision to keep this blog G-rated, like the decision to keep it apolitical, was motivated by the desire to keep readership as broad as possible. It wasn't that restrictive, actually, no matter how frustrated I got with the Mets, but it would be simply impractical for me to write about politics without having a few F-bombs at my disposal.

The second stylistic change is a much needed move away from simple recaps of each game. I did too much of that, and I'm sorry. If you were reading this blog you didn't need to be told who hit a home run and who booted a ball at second base. You were looking for insightful analysis that can only be found here. That's the value-add, and I'll try to do a better job of focusing on the bigger picture.

So that's it. I've lost weight, I've won Best Documentary, I've lost the boring persona and started telling it like it is, and I'm ready to announce my return to the blogosphere.

Go crazy folks. Go crazy.