Thursday, August 31, 2006

Good Night, and Good Luck

If you, like me, have been wondering where the media's balls are, I've just located them. Keith Olbermann's been hoarding them under the Countdown desk.

Go watch this epic and brilliant editorial on the politics of fear inspired by the despicable remarks by Donald Rumsfeld.

Seriously, watch it now.


Is there an Emmy category for "Fucking Badass"? There should be, and Olbermann has it locked up.

Keith Olbermann deserves to be doing the news in an era where he would be one of three guys on television, not marooned on a second-rate cable network.

Olbermann humbly quotes Edward R. Murrow at the end of that piece, and claims not to be worthy of the words. He's wrong. He is worthy. And he's the closest thing to a modern-day Murrow we've got.

Bloggerman has the transcript.

[h/t Otto Man, cross-posted at]

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Baseball: Theo's Overrated, The Boss and the Future

The long-held wisdom in baseball has been that the Yankees buy Championships by having a gigantic payroll and trading away all of their prospects. In recent Red Sox history, Theo Epstein has been credited with savvy analysis and gutsy trades, winning the Sox their 2004 rings and setting the team up for the future...

There is plenty of truth and plenty of myth in both of those statements. Let's look at the Yankees first...

I pulled this from somewhere last week, and unfortunately did not save the link:
In other news, there are reports that the Yankees will send their top draft pick in 2005–20-year-old shrotstop C.J. Henry–along with a reliever to the Phillies in return for Bobby Abreu and Cory Lidle. From the Red Sox’s perspective, this wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. [Mr. F: This was obviously written before the Massacre during which Abreu was on base at a .630 clip and Lidle threw six shutout innings of 3-hit ball to complete the 5-game sweep—all but eliminating the Red Sox] The Yankees’ four World Series titles between 1996 and 2000 were won on the backs of players who came up through the Yankees’ farm system during between 1990 and 1993, the time during which George “Instant Gratification” Steinbrenner was banned from baseball... (Posada, Rivera, Pettitte, Williams and Jeter—all are still with the team) ...It seems unlikely all these players would have been in New York had Steinbrenner, who always wants to win right now and worry about tomorrow when it comes, been in control of the team. Abreu and Lidle would definitely make the Yankees better in the immediate short-term. But, Abreu–like Randy Johnson and Jason Giambi and Alex Rodriguez and Johnny Damon and Carl Pavano–would cost a boatload of money and decrease New York’s flexibility going forward. And the loss of cheap, young talent could very well burn the Yankees in the future.

In the middle, the writer points out that the foundation of the most recent Yankee dynasty and it's continued regular season dominance is from a core group of players that Steinbrenner, if given the chance, would have traded away for a bunch of Ken Phelps(s). This is probably true. But the Yankees do not get enough credit for winning with a core of homegrown talent, many of whom are still valuable contributors. Yes, they augmented that group with an ever-evolving cast of top-dollar free agents and trades, but with the exception of Alfonso Soriano, I cannot think of anybody traded in the Cashman era that has gone on to do anything significant. And they got value for Soriano.

Look at the Abreu/Lidle trade. Many were skeptical of trading for Abreu, but I wasn't—not for the Yankees anyway—I did NOT want the Sox to trade for him. The only part of me that looks back on that differently now, is that the Yanks got those two guys SO cheaply and they both address critical needs for the Sox—a good No. 5 hitter and an innings-eating starter. If the Sox could have given up one prospect for those guys I would have done it.

The frustration for me with the Yankees is that they seem to get away with lopsided deals like that, when they really should be over a barrel. Then, without getting too Shaugnessian, anyone who pulls on the pinstripes seems to turn into Roy Hobbs.

The Yankees team that just shredded the Sox over five games featured three new homegrown, solid players: Robinson Cano (who seems like the real deal), Wang and Melky Cabrera, along with the now veteran core of Jeter, Rivera, Bernie and Dumbo. That's 5-6 of the nine players on the field being Yankee pipeline talent. Sure the other 3-4 guys and whoever's on the mound are mercenaries and make a combined $100 million, but the myth of the Yanks being only free agents is simply not true. They won four Championships with home-grown talent, and are still a dominant team and poised to remain that way for the next few years with an infusion of new young talent. The true advantage of their payroll is that they can afford to make mistakes like Pavano, fill holes with the best free agents and build a bench of other team's All-Stars.

While it's true they haven't won the World Series, they have won the Division every year since 2001. Somebody please point me to the prospect that the Yanks have traded away over the last five years that has proven to be anthing other than hype.

On the other hand let's look at Theo's track record. Over the last couple years he has traded away two middle infielders, one of whom has 40 steals and is hitting .275 and the other is leading the NL in hitting. Get back to me when C.J. Henry is doing that for the Phils.

Theo gets credit for the gutsy Nomar/Cabrera trade, but he followed that up letting Cabrera walk and had his own Steinbrenner moment with Edgar Rentaria, a brutal free-agent signing and the Sox are now paying him to be an All-Star for the Braves.

I am not going to secondguess Theo's two biggest moves of the year, Arroyo for Wily Mo, and getting Coco Crisp over keeping Damon. I understood those trades, agreed with them at the time, and think in the long run they will prove correct, though this year they are killing us.

It's the "fringe" deals where Epstein has blown it. Before the season the Sox traded Doug Mirabelli to San Diego for Loretta (good), but then, five Wakefield starts later, traded two players to get him back. This seemed unimportant at the time, backup catchers and obscure relievers... But, with the injury to Varitek, we are now treated everyday to the two-headed Mendoza monster that is Mirabelli and Javy Lopez, while the Josh Bard, 28, (switch!)-hits .325 in a pitcher's park, and the throw-in player is a 24 year-old reliever" currently sporting an ERA of 1.05. That guy might have come in handy last weekend...

Standing pat at the trade deadline has proven disastrous as well. This is not Oakland, this is Boston, and the Red Sox were a first place club charging the highest prices in the sport that had some serious weakspots. They had a 4-game lead on July 1, by the deadline it was down to 1 game, and now they trail by 6 1/2. And there are two teams ahead of them for the Wild Card.

Greg Maddux would have been nice, and the Cubs got a no-hit, Tommy John-recovering shortstop for him. Colorado was apparently interested in Tavarez and/or Seanez. I would have taken a case of Big League Chew to get those arsonists out of the bullpen. Relying on 40-year-old Mike Timlin after letting him pitch in the WBC was a mistake. And how you can possibly expect to compete in the AL East without a left-handed reliever defies explanation.

Long story short, Brian Cashman and Steinbrenner addressed their team's need, and in my opinion didn't "give up the future" to do it. Theo, while admirably keeping an eye to the future, did NOTHING for the present, and the Red Sox will need a miraculous collapse by one (or more) of the three teams ahead of them to make the post-season.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Boston Massacre 2: Electric Boogaloo

I am going to have to spit some serious venom on the Sox/Yanks series, but since these bastards made me stay up 'til 1:30 to lose, it will have to wait until tomorrow... It's like Donald Rumsfeld was managing the team tonite.


Thursday, August 17, 2006

Mel Morph

I swear, I had legitimate Art Director duties bringing me to the US Weekly website...Seriously, I did.

Anyway, click here to watch hunky Mel Gibson of yesteryear turn into the raving drunk of today. Watch for the moment where he briefly becomes Saddam Hussein.

UPDATE: I cannnot believe I posted this, AND that I let it lead off the front page for several days. What was I thinking?

Stuff Caught in the Internet Tubes...

Getting slammed this week at work, plus freelance at night. Since I'm going to pressed for time, here are some quick links of some stuff I've been meaning to write about...

Must-Read Post of the Week: Responding to the hysteria after the London Terror Bust, Kung Fu Monkey absolutely nails it.

Don't Believe the Hype Olbermann lays out the Administration's history of using terror alerts for political purposes.

NASA records 'Survivor' over lunar landing tapes. Well, not really. But they can't seem to find the original recording of the first moon landing, including astronaut Neil Armstrong's famous "one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." Anybody want to come over and catch a little "Capricorn One"? [h/t Pierce]

Slate: "Tigers Burning Kind of Bright" Feature on my adopted team, the Tigers. Includes the quote of the week: "That's when the team with the majors' best record started falling apart like a Buick built on the first day of deer season."

Slate: What Happened to Lieberman Is Not a Trend Tomasky explains how the Dems are not really purging anybody but Holy Joe.

Safe to Fantasize! MLB's evil, greedy plan to prevent fantasy leagues from using player names and stats strikes out in court.

Mel Gibson, Evil, and Art The best thing I read on l'affaire Crazyheart.

John Mark Karr? Let's see... Lee Harvey Oswald, John Wilkes Booth, John Wayne Gacy, Henry Lee Lucas, Mark David Chapman…Three names slams the door for me. Guilty.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Estate Sale

So who besides Paris Hilton benefits from repealing the Estate Tax anyway?
Spending millions to Save Billions

WASHINGTON, D.C. – [link] The multimillion-dollar lobbying effort to repeal the federal estate tax has been aggressively led by 18 super-wealthy families, according to a report released today (ed: April 25) by Public Citizen and United for a Fair Economy at a press conference in Washington, D.C. The report details for the first time the vast money, influence and deceptive marketing techniques behind the rhetoric in the campaign to repeal the tax.

It reveals how 18 families worth a total of $185.5 billion have financed and coordinated a 10-year effort to repeal the estate tax, a move that would collectively net them a windfall of $71.6 billion.

The report profiles the families and their businesses, which include the families behind Wal-Mart, Gallo wine, Campbell’s soup, and Mars Inc., maker of M&Ms. Collectively, the list includes the first- and third-largest privately held companies in the United States, the richest family in Alabama and the world’s largest retailer.

In a massive public relations campaign, the families have also misled the country by giving the mistaken impression that the estate tax affects most Americans. In particular, they have used small businesses and family farms as poster children for repeal, saying that the estate tax destroys both of these groups. But just more than one-fourth of one percent of all estates will owe any estate taxes in 2006. And the American Farm Bureau, a member of the anti-estate tax coalition, was unable when asked by The New York Times to cite a single example of a family being forced to sell its farm because of estate tax liability.

It's been well-documented in places nobody pays attention to, that the Estate Tax is only for richest of the rich—so who benefits is hardly a surprise—but it is interesting to see the kind of money at stake for the people pushing for this. I'd venture even the Republican politicians voting for this don't qualify, but it sure seems like these donors have a lot riding on it, and that's why the GOP won't shut up about it.

Lionel Hutz for the Defense...

"We're very confident that there was no intent to harm anyone."

That is the preposterous to the point of hysterical position of the attorney for former Ohio State runningback Maurice Clarett at his arraignment. Hmm, let's review why Clarett was standing before a judge in the first place...

First of all, Clarett was already out on bail, facing armed robbery charges.

The other night, Clarett led police on a high-speed chase where they needed to use spike strips to flatten his tires to stop him. He was wearing a bulletproof vest and had four loaded guns and a hatchet in his SUV. He needed to be tasered, and maced in order to be subdued by six cops and was caught within blocks of the home of the key witness set to testify in his robbery trial next week.

I'm sure he was just out for drive...

In the understatement of the year, prosecutors seeking the high bail said, "We feel he's a threat to the community."

Clarett's attorney argued "that amount would likely be too high for Clarett to pay, meaning he would stay in jail for the duration of the robbery trial."

I'd say that's probably a good idea. Not a good year to be an football player in Ohio...

UPDATE: via The Mighty MJD, here is a fascinating column by ESPN's Tom Friend on a phone convesation he had with Clarett hours before his arrest.

Also, unrelated, be sure to read this tremendous essay by MJD on a moral quandry in Little League.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


Don't let the door hit ya, Joe.
Lieberman Defiant In Defeat
12:25 AM EDT, August 9, 2006
By MARK PAZNIOKAS, The Hartford Courant

With the nation watching, Connecticut Democrats thronged to the polls in unexpectedly high numbers Tuesday to reject Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman and endorse his anti-war challenger, Ned Lamont.

Unofficial results showed Lamont winning 52 percent of the vote, defeating a three-term incumbent who had come to be defined by his defense of the war in Iraq despite an advertising blitz begging voters to judge him on a progressive labor and environmental record.

Lieberman, 64, a vice presidential nominee in 2000 and a presidential hopeful only two years ago, conceded at 11:03 p.m. in a Hartford ballroom packed with national and international press, then defiantly announced he would press on as a petitioning candidate, forcing a three-way race in November.

"As I see it, in this campaign we just finished the first half and the Lamont team is ahead. But in the second half our team, Team Connecticut, is going to surge forward to victory in November," Lieberman said. Then he shouted, "Will you join me?"


"Team Connecticut?" What the fuck is that, Joe? Was your primary campaign run by Team Nevada? Might as well've been, since State Connecticut just told you to get bent in no uncertain terms.

If Lieberman had graciously agreed to respect the will of Connecticut Democrats, I wouldn't have another harsh thing to say about him, but he's insisting on running as an independant, and for that he deserves a Box O' Scorn to go with this...

What a tool.

He also deserves to lose the support of Bill (and Hil) Clinton, Schumer and everyone else. Kos thinks Harry Reid should yank his Committee chairs. I don't disagree.

The one thing I want to make clear is this: Lieberman deserved this for many reasons, and, for me, it was not all about the Iraq War and Lamont being anti-war. It was about Lieberman's support for Bush on a whole host of issues besides the War—Alito, Social Security, PATRIOT Act and others...

Say hello to the, hopefully, next Senator from the state of my ancestry, Connecticut.

Monday, August 07, 2006

"Hi, Tony, We Need Another Favor…." ->click<-

The Republicans went to their go-to guy on the Supreme Court and were rebuffed...
WASHINGTON - Texas Republicans on Monday abandoned their court fight to replace former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay on the November ballot after being turned back by the Supreme Court. The decision came after Justice Antonin Scalia, earlier in the afternoon, rejected Texas Republicans' request to block an appeals court ruling saying DeLay's name should remain on the ballot.

So, the Republicans are forced to leave the man most synonymous with corruption on the ballot. DeLay should lose, which is great and a pick-up for us and a high-profile loss for them. OR he somehow wins, is later found guilty and has to relinquish his seat again. It's win-win!

Kakistocracy: Plan B Is Central to Plan A

John Cole has a post up at Balloon Juice reiterating his disgust with his former Party's manipulation of science and health for political ends. Cole:
There have been so many other attempts to insert the narrow version of Christianity currently practiced by the current GOP leadership into science and medicine that listing them all is not something I am up to this weekend, but this one is noteworthy:

Plan B decision made before data review by FDA staff
The decision whether the U.S. Food and Drug Administration should approve wider access to a morning-after contraceptive drug was made well before agency scientists finished their final review, two FDA officials said in court documents released on Thursday.

Supporters of over-the-counter sales for Barr Pharmaceuticals Inc.’s Plan B pills have accused top FDA officials of hindering the company’s bid for nonprescription sales for years, to please conservative supporters of President George W. Bush’s administration.

In a sworn statement in June, Dr. John Jenkins, director of the FDA’s Office of New Drugs, said he learned in early 2004 that then-FDA Commissioner Mark McClellan had decided against approval before the staff could complete their analysis.

[...] Dr. Florence Houn said she was also told that in January by Deputy Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock that Plan B needed to be rejected “to appease the administration’s constituents” but that it could be approved later.

[Cole again] is clear now that this is what the administration has done since day one. Replace qualified individuals with appointed ideologues whose primary concern is the advancement of their religious beliefs. I am afraid to think how much damage these lunatics have done, but I am sure we will spend the next few years unscrewing what these lunatics have meddled with.

Welcome to the party, John. Too bad you waitied until 2005 to pull your head out.

Anyway in the comments, one-time spoof GOP4Me gets off a truly inspired rant:
It’s really all about mobilizing the majority of disgruntled Christian voters by providing them with handy scapegoat outlets for their misguided rage. The power thereby obtained is primarily used to advance the interests of the upper echelons of the Republican Party, but occasionally you do have to throw a bone to the fundies. Plan B’s rejection is such a bone.

[...] In the case of the modern Republican Party, you have politicians prostituting themselves out to prudes for their votes, then turning around and using this electoral advantage to line their pockets and those of their corporate boosters. The only people adversely affected are those concerned with a country not run by thieves, and those scapegoated as part of this electoral con game.

[...] You have to appear to be working against Roe v. Wade, even though it’s your number-one mealticket. You have to struggle against Hollywood, even though sex and violence are where the money’s at. You have to fight against some casinos, even if you have to use money from other casinos to help you do it. The ultimate goal isn’t the illegalization of condoms or the stoning of gay people in the street, it’s to continue the con game for as long as possible until people wise up or there’s no more money left to steal.

The balancing act is intricate, and some partisan Democrats would say it’s corrupt, but it’s the only way Bush can stay in power. And we need Bush in power if we want to keep America safe from terrorists. Either you support the incompetent kleptocrats and their allies in the theocracy movement, or you support the terrorists. Which is it gonna be?

True enough. In fact, it couldn't be better illustrated than with this particular case—the Republicans wanted to bounce Plan B so they could throw a bone to the base and "reject the abortion pill" in time for the election, but secretly agreed to approve it later on when no one was looking so Big Pharma could still get their money. When will these dupes voting "R" wake up?

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Reason No. 4,356 YouTube Rocks

It starts a litle slow, make sure you stick it out til the 4:00-5:00 minute mark (and don't worry, the resolution is not as bad as the stillshot looks)...

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Engrave His MVP Trophy Now.

It hasn't been a bad week for everybody...

David Ortiz went 4-for-5 with his 35th homer and a game-winning single in the bottom of the 11th to give the Red Sox a 7-6 win over the Angels on Saturday. Ortiz's homer started an eighth-inning comeback in which the Sox scored three to tie the game. In the 11th, lefty J.C. Romero was brought in to pitch to Ortiz. Papi went on to hit a little grounder against the shift to score the winning run from second.

David Ortiz's second homer of the night was a walkoff three-run blast off Indians closer Fausto Carmona to give the Red Sox a 9-8 win over the Indians on Monday night. ...his eighth career walkoff homer. Three have come this year, and Ortiz has five game-ending hits in all.

David Ortiz hit a pair of solo homers against the Devil Rays on Friday, including a solo blast off reliever Seth McClung to put the Red Sox ahead 3-2 in the eighth inning.

Unfortunately I lost the link for this one (and he has since added to these numbers):
David Ortiz has hit 21 home runs in 138 at-bats in Late-Inning Pressure Situations since Aug. 1, 2004. Over that two-year period, no other player has hit more than 13 homers in LIPS. Ryan Howard ranks second with 13; Andruw Jones, Albert Pujols, and Aramis Ramirez share third place with 12.

Um, where's A-Rod?

Papi really does do it every time
Gordon Edes, Boston Globe
According to Sox historian Allan Wood, webmaster of the Joy of Sox, Ortiz has come to the plate 19 times in potential walkoff situations since the end of the 2004 regular season (postseasons included) and reached base 16 times. He is 11-for-14 (.786), with 7 HR and 20 RBI.

In 2005 and 2006, he is 8-for-9, with 5 HR and 15 RBI!


This hit-maker is off the charts
Dan Shaughnessy, Boston Globe
[...] There never has been anything like it in Boston sports. There never has been anyone like David Ortiz in our town. Sure, there were a couple of players with more talent, but no one ever has had a prolonged stretch like this. Not Ted. Not Russ. Not Bobby. Not Larry. Not Tom. They did other things, and won (in some cases) a lot more rings. But no player in Boston sports history has sent home this many people with electrifying moments of greatness.

This simply does not happen in baseball. Ortiz has turned major league baseball into Wiffle ball games you'd play with makeshift rules regarding rooftops, clotheslines, and summer winds. Big Papi is an action superhero come to life. He is a cartoon figure who jumps off the screen and gets it done in real life in real time. He is the mythical Joe Hardy with no apparent time limit on his powers.

The Clown gets a little carried away there. First of all, comparing different sports is foolish. Bill Russell and Larry Bird were able to take over a game and dominate at will. Tom Brady is responsible for everything that happens when he is on the field. Ortiz is dependant on his spot in the order coming up at the right time. Brady, Russell and Bird played in sports where one or two players can dominate a game, and bring home a title. Ortiz is lucky to have four or five chances a night to impact a game. Bird, Russell and Brady also each brought home multiple titles. Get back to me in a few years when Papi has done the same (he will). Also, I should note that it bothers me when a guy like Shaugnessy who has literally made a living evoking "The Curse" and salting wounds, decides to get all giddy like a cheerleader with a crush on the quarterback...

One more, and this one shows Big Papi as the giant among men that he is...

UPDATE: Per Mike's recommendation, here is an excellent Sports Guy column: Larry Legend vs Big Papi

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Life Happens

Been a bad week.

Last Friday, my wife and daughter were in a car accident (they're fine, the car is not). Some idiot concentrating on their Blizzard drove straight out of Dairy Queen into them as they drove by.

On Sunday my daughter woke us up with a scary-as-hell seizure that took us to the hospital in an ambulance and two days in the hospital. They don't know what happened, and may never know for sure. They ruled out the accident, which is good and bad. No injury (good). But lots of unknowns and possible epilepsy or other condition (bad).

Back home now, and Ruby is finally back to her delightful self. She's doing great, but we are not out of the woods yet. The neurologist estimates she has a 25-50% chance of a recurrence, and if it happens we have to give her a shot, call 911 and we're back in the hospital.

We've had to cancel our vacation next week because we would be too far from a hospital.

All I can say at this point is thank God we live five minutes from U-M's terrific Mott Children's Hospital. I've spent way too much time there (it's never good to have memorized where the good vending machines at the hospital are), but everyone there has always been great.

Oh, when we got back from the hospital, the fridge had died and we lost all of our food. Fan-fucking-tastic. Just what I wanted to deal with.

If bad stuff happens in threes, I'm considering myself paid up. Does that mean I get a job offer now?