2010 MLB All Star Rosters + Midyear Thoughts

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Close enough to 81 games in - this is the third and final look at my 2010 MLB All-Star rosters.

I'll select an actual DH for the AL team, as that's how it's listed on the ballot.  21 position players for each league, 13 pitchers, every team represented.  My picks are solely based on the first half of the 2010 season; there are other approaches one could take. 

AL Starters
C J.Mauer (Min)
1B J.Morneau (Min)
2B R. Cano (NY) - MVP
SS A.Gonzalez (Tor)
3B E.Longoria (TB)
LF C.Crawford (TB)
CF F.Gutierrez (Sea)
RF J.Hamilton (Tex)
DH V.Guerrero (Tex)
P R.Romero (Tor) - Cy

C. J.Jaso (TB) J. Molina (Tor)
1B K.Youkilis (Bos) M. Cabrera (Det)
2B D. Pedroia (Bos -Inj) (Injury Replacement - B. Zobrist TB)
SS E. Andrus (Tex) C. Pennington (Oak)
3B A.Beltre (Bos) A. Rodriguez (NY)
OF B. Boesch (Det) D.Dejesus (KC) A. Rios (Chi)

-Wells gets screwed here, given the need to get Rios on the squad. 

P C. Buchholz (Bos)
    J. Lester (Bos)
    C. Pavano (Min)
    D. Price (TB)
    S. Marcum (Tor)
    J. Verlander (Det)
    J.Weaver (LA)
    C. Lewis (Tex)
    F. Carmona (Cle)
    J. Guthrie (Balt)

RP    J. Valverde (Det)
         M. Rivera (NY)

NL Starters
C M.Olivo (Col)
1B A.Gonzalez (SD)
2B M.Prado (Atl)
SS T.Tulowitzki (Col - Inj)
3B D.Wright (NY) - MVP
LF M.Holliday (StL)
CF A.McCutcheon (Pit)
RF J.Willingham (Was)
DH A.Pujols (StL)
P U.Jimenez (Col) -Cy

C. B.McCann (Atl) I.Rodriguez (Was)
1B A.Huff (SF) J.Votto (Cin)
2B C.Utley (Phi-injured) R.Weeks (Mil) J.Uribe (SF - Injury Replacement)
SS R.Furcal (LA - Replacement Starter) H. Ramirez (FL - Injury Replacement)
3B S.Rolen (Cin) R.Zimmerman (Was)
OF A.Pagan (NY) A.Torres (SF) M.Byrd (Chi)

-Werth and Braun are both having representative years; in fact each has jumped Byrd since I put this together two days ago, and obviously both are better players.  So, I'll take Braun now for that last spot.

P J.Johnson (FL)
   Y.Gallardo (Mil)
   T.Hudson (Atl)
   A.Wainwright (StL)
   R.Halladay (Phi)
   M. Pelfrey (NY)
   L.Hernandez (Was)
   R.Oswalt (Hou)
   R.Dempster (Chi)

RP B.Wagner (Atl)
      T.Clippard (Was)

-Garcia has jumped Oswalt and Dempster, but those are the only reps for the Astros and Cubs (now that I replaced Byrd). 

My spring training picks are here.  I had the Phils winning the NL East with the Braves taking the WC - at the halfway point Atlanta looks to be the side in the East and while the Phils still have the horses to come from the outside and take the WC - were I to pick right now it would be the Reds (about whom I wrote "they aren't a wild card contender").  Picking the Reds to win the WC means that I think St Louis wins the Central, as did I in the spring.  I liked the Rox to win my West in the spring - but now I am foresquarely in the camp of the Padres, for whom you can still get a really good price if you are interested in investing. 

In the spring I thought the 3 best teams in baseball were in the AL East (and still do) I said, largely just because you had to pick someone, that it would be the Yanks who missed the playoffs.  But now they look like the strongest team to come out - the Boston injuries have been overwhelming, and I'll say the Pedroia/Martinez combo means they stay home in October, with the Rays getting the WC (but it's still close).

I picked the Twins to edge out the Tigers in the spring - and it's a coin flip but I'll still say they will.  And I liked Texas to win the West and it's basically a lock. 

I'm currently in second place in two of my fantasy leagues, and in first in my NL only league.  I was in last in the AL league for the first month, so I'm sort of pleased with how I've played.  I'm a distant second in the mixed league, the guy in first has had a chokehold on it all season.

1st and Ten: The Weekly Tendown. June 20-26 2010, NBA Draftdown

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Dear Internet:

Are you like me, Internet?

If you're like me, at 11:00 Thursday night you were watching the DVR'd 2010 NBA Draft, taking notes in order to write some version of a humorous draft blog such as I did  with the '82-91 drafts. And when the sixth pick arrived for your lifelong favorite NBA franchise, the Golden St. Warriors, you shouted from your brand new couch at your brand new television:

Take Greg Monroe.  Do not take Udoh.  Do not take Udoh.  Do not take Udoh.  Monroe is a sweet passing big man; he's Andrew Bogut; when we mistakenly sell low on Biedrins at least we'll have Monroe to fall back on.  Udoh is a 23 year old junior.  Do not take Udoh.

The Warriors are about to be sold, for those of you unaware; and it feels sort of like a foreclosure, like Cohan and Nellie are stripping the place of the copper wiring before the bank takes possession. 

If you're like me, that's the joke you wrote at 11:00 Thursday night.

Right after we took Udoh.

Let's get to Tendown 32.  NBA Draftdown!

First:  No One Enjoys Being Booed as Much as David Stern
The New York fans opened the draft by booing David Stern like he was leaving the oil soaked Gulf Coast to go check out some yacht races.  He clearly digs it; Simmons used the Vince McMahon reference in his draft blog, so I'll scratch it from my notes, but I did expect him to follow up his introduction about the draftees coming to the NBA to "compete against the best basketball players" with the coda "and also the Knicks."

Vince got sued this week, incidentally - Owen's widow apparently hasn't been getting residuals for the 30 some odd DVDs in which he's appeared since his death.  Which I'm thinking is it's less oversight than Vince saying something to the effect of - "we're never writing that woman a single check."  'Cause, instead of, you know, coming on RAW the night after WWF negligence killed her husband to shoot a Melanie Pillman angle, she took 18 million from their insurance company in an out of court wrongful death settlement.

Don't vote for Linda, Connecticut.  You'll regret it. 

I don't know what Vince's or Stern's favorability ratings would be - but they'd be higher than BP's.  This week's NBC/Wall St. Journal poll has BP being viewed favorably by 6% of Americans (Joe Barton presumably has apologized for the poll as well) .  The only lower scores in poll history were Saddam Hussein, Fidel Castro, and Yasser Arafat (Udoh has yet be similarly scrutinized). 

Meanwhile, a Republican congressman took the House floor to claim that Obama's securing a 20 billion dollar escrow account from the fourth most unpopular entity in the history of the NBC News poll was just like, wait for it, wait for it...Hitler. 

You know who else is just like Hitler?  Don Nelson.  Don Nelson and Chris Cohan and Larry Riley and the entire Golden St. franchise.  Just like Hitler.  No difference.  Exactly the same.  I'm gonna tea party that GSW ass.

After the jump, the rest of the Tendown.

TBOR Athlete of the Month - June 2010 (plus 1995 recap)

Friday, June 25, 2010

John Isner.  Runners-up Garrett Wittels, Rafael Nadal, Kobe Bryant.

Isner joins the other 5 nominees in our race for Athlete of the Year. I had Kobe penciled in for the month, but an 11 hour tennis match is an undeniable feat. 

The year's half over; I guess I'd lean Brees as the current leader.  I took notes on the lottery last night and will put up a draft blog time permitting. 

Here's 1995:

1995 Athlete of the Year: Hakeem Olajuwon (AP picked Ripken)
January - Steve Young (Tommie Frazier, Natrone Means, Eric Davis)
February - Rebecca Lobo (Shaquille O'Neal, Jaromir Jagr, Sterling Marlin)
March - Tyus Edney (Randolph Childress, Corliss Williamson, Ed O'Bannon)
April - Ben Crenshaw (David Robinson, Eric Lindros, Michael Jordan)
May - Hakeem Olajuwon (Reggie Miller, Penny Hardaway, Martin Brodeur)
June - Martin Brodeur (Steffi Graf, Hakeem Olajuwon, Hideo Nomo)
July - Steffi Graf (Ramon Martinez, John Daly, Michael Schumacher)
August - Michael Johnson (Mo Vaughn, Monica Seles, Leland McElroy)
September - Cal Ripken (Danny Wuerffel, Emmitt Smith, Albert Belle)
October - Tom Glavine (Randy Johnson, Chipper Jones, Orel Hershiser)
November - Brett Favre (Eddie George, Danny Wuerffel, Mario Lemieux)
December - Jerry Rice (Glyn Milburn, Herman Moore, Byron Hanspard)


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

What kinda day is it when the greatest defensive football player who ever lived gets indicted for statutory rape and it's not even the second biggest sports story of the day?

I'm in between houses, he says euphemistically; my stuff is split between old and new home; I'm sleeping in a bed so small my queen size memory foam is doubled in half in order to fit, and one of the handful of personal items not currently boxed up somewhere, a public speaking trophy I won the summer between high school and undergrad, punctured my thumb - coincidentally enough, the same thumb (the back of my right) which still bears a blackened discoloration from a pencil stabbing incident in 1983.

But I do have a new TV.  And couch.  And cable.

And this morning, I was able to sit to watch my first sporting events in the new digs.

Landon Donovan.  And then the longest tennis match ever played (and that was just the fifth set).

A set so long I had an end of the quarter faculty meeting that began while it was underway and ended before the match was called for darkness.

You know how on Survivor they'll do those endurance challenges, and every few seasons there will be some ridiculous battle where two women hang by their thumbs on bamboo sticks for eleven hours?

This was that.  Except instead if being for a million dollars, it's the first round.  You can read a Guardian live blog from the match.  It's the best thing you'll read all week.  Can a live blog win a Pulitzer?

On Court 18 a match is not won and lost; it is just played out infinitely, deeper and deeper into a fifth and final set as the numbers rack up and the terrain turns uncharted. Under the feet of John Isner and Nicolas Mahut, the grass is growing. Before long they will be playing in a jungle and when they sit down at the change of ends, a crocodile will come to menace them.

In order to stay upright and keep their strength, John Isner and Nicolas Mahut have now started eating members of the audience. They trudge back to the baseline, gnawing on thigh-bones and sucking intestines. They have decided that they will stay on Court 18 until every spectator is eaten. Only then, they say, will they consider ending their contest.

What's going on here? Once, long ago, I think that this was a tennis match. I believe it was part of a wider tennis tournament, somewhere in south-west London, and the winner of this match would then go on to face the winner of another match and, if he won that, the winner of another match. And so on until he reached the final and, fingers crossed, he won the title.

That, at least, is what this spectacle on Court 18 used to be; what it started out as. It's not that anymore and hasn't been for a few hours now. I'm not quite sure what it is, but it is long and it's horrifying and it's very long to boot. Is it death? I think it might be death.

What happens if we steal their rackets? If we steal their rackets, the zombies can no longer hit their aces and thump their backhands and keep us all prisoner on Court 18. I'm shocked that this is only occurring to me now. Will nobody run onto the court and steal their rackets? Are they all too scared of the zombies' clutching claws and gore-stained teeth? Steal their rackets and we can all go home. Who's with me? Steal their rackets and then run for the tube.

The longest match in Wimbledon history was 112 games.  This fifth set is longer.  The longest grand slam championship ever was last year's Wimbledon final, 77 games.  This fifth set is longer.  By 40 games. 

They've both broken the record - by about 20 - for most aces in a match.  The fifth set has had 612 points.

It's the most remarkable thing we'll see all year.  And on a day when the US made it to the round of 16 in the World Cup (and into a game that could be described as winnable against Ghana) with an extra time goal by Landon Donovan.

Throw in the Marlins firing their manager for his outrageous comments in Rolling Stone and CP3 saying he'd be open to a trade to Golden St for Charlie Bell and Dan Gadzuric, and it was quite the sports day.

I may be confused there.

On the draft - I want Cousins, but assuming he's gone at #6, I'm willing to take Monroe.  I don't see any other positive outcome for GSW if neither of those things happened come Friday morning (Udoh's a mistake; I don't think Wes Johnson falls but he looks like a bust to me and I don't want anything to do with him).  I'm glad, incidentally, my cable/internet are working - I've seen every NBA Draft, either live or through some type of taping mechanism, since 1992, when I took a date to a drive in movie showing of Basic Instinct (hard to communicate, in the pre-Internet, pre-Britney Spears getting out of limos, pre-giant TVs on which you can watch the World Cup era how startling that leg crossing police interrogation scene was to see at a drive in movie theater) and I'll be able to watch this year's.  Bit of a jump ball about who had a better night in June of '92, me, Michael Douglas, or the Wizard Walt Williams.  That's my new answer to the question, "if you could have dinner with any 2 people, living or dead, who would they be?"  Michael Douglas and Walt Williams. 

I don't have any tables.  Or food.  But there's a giant TV and probably that tennis match will still be on.

1st and Five: The Weekly Tendown, June 13-19 2010. Special Halfdown Edition.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Dear Internet:

I never fell into the "Why is Julia Roberts with Lyle Lovett" place; they were physically mismatched, sure, but it wasn't as if Lyle Lovett was a guy from Brody Jenner's posse; there are reasons to date someone beyond just the physical.

That said - Padma's gotta do better, right?  Not can do better, but needs to.  For the baby's sake if nothing else. 

Tendown officially opposes this situation.

Now, on the other hand:

Snooki and David Lee is something we can totally get behind. 

If you know all four of those people on sight, I apologize.  Welcome to my world.  Let's do some Tendown 31.

First: A Tragedy of the First Proportion
I've got 45 minutes to write Tendown this week, as I'm moving (tonight is my last night in the house I've owned for a decade; it would be a little emotional for me; the largest failure of my life as I'm unable to keep my house as a result of the Panic of 2008 - but it's not, there's air conditioning in the house we rented this week - and I'll take cool over everything else during what is currently the hottest June in south Florida history) and need to get back to the furniture store.  So, what is normally a 4-6 hour Sunday process will have to be severely truncated.

The one element of the week I wanted to cover was Joe Barton, the ranking Republican on energy - saying this to BP CEO Tony Hayward about Obama's securing from BP a promise to put 20 billion dollars in escrow for the damage it continues, daily, to cause, on the Gulf Coast:

I’m ashamed of what happened in the White House yesterday. I think it is a tragedy of the first proportion that a private corporation can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown, in this case a $20 billion shakedown

Barton's taken 1.4 million from Big Oil in campaign contributions.

His very top is contributor Anadarko Petroleum from which he's received $146,500.  Anadarko has a 25% stake in the still gushing BP well and has received a bill for its cleanup.

The right wing came to Barton's defense. 

And why not? 

After all, they don't think Obama should have anything to do with the BP leak - it's a problem caused by and to be solved by private industry.

Except when they're calling it Obama's Katrina.  Then it's "why didn't the President act more quickly."

Michelle Bachmann called the escrow account redistribution of wealth.  Yeah!  That's what it is!  Socialism!  Which we don't like. 

Except that two weeks ago Bachmann said Obama should be seizing ships to clean up the spill.:

The administration, they were hands off. They didn’t do anything. Where were the boats that could have been commandeered by the government to be sent into this region to deal with that oil plume as it was coming up in the water and destroying marine life? Nowhere to be found. Why? The administration was hands off on this policy.

But it's really a federalism issue, of course.  You know - the right wing is very concerned with issues of limited government.  That's why Barry Goldwater, Bill Buckley, William Rehnquist - and 45 years later, Rand Paul were opposed to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 - it's just not the role of the federal government to interfere in the private decisions of a corporation - that use of power is creepy and dictatorial.  Yeah!  That's what it is!  Yeah!  Dictatorial!

Except of course when it came to George Bush's unitary theory of the executive branch.  Bush used signing statements to lay the groundwork for the most expansive view of Presidential power ever offered in the history of the United States.  We just spent a decade in which the executive branch put forth unprecedented programs of domestic spying and torture, and did so with the argument that Presidential power could go unchecked.  From the Boston Globe in 2006:

President Bush has quietly claimed the authority to disobey more than 750 laws enacted since he took office, asserting that he has the power to set aside any statute passed by Congress when it conflicts with his interpretation of the Constitution.

Far more than any predecessor, Bush has been aggressive about declaring his right to ignore vast swaths of laws -- many of which he says infringe on power he believes the Constitution assigns to him alone as the head of the executive branch or the commander in chief of the military.

David Golove, a New York University law professor who specializes in executive-power issues, said Bush has cast a cloud over ''the whole idea that there is a rule of law," because no one can be certain of which laws Bush thinks are valid and which he thinks he can ignore.

(Greenwald, by the way, dead on about Obama carrying on Bush's civil liberties record).

This is not that complicated.  Those actions - spying, torture - those actions were aimed at the powerless. When a restaurant or a hotel would refuse service to someone due to race - or refuse to hire or promote someone due to race or gender - those actions were aimed at people who had less power.

And the right wing stands with power.  And that's all.

And when it comes to putting restrictions on health insurance companies in order to make health care more affordable - when it comes to securing 20 billion dollars from BP to aid victims of the environmental catastrophe caused by its negligence - those actions were aimed at the powerful. 

And the right wing stands with power.  And that's all. 
It's not small government.  The right wing wants to drop bombs, keep gays from marrying, and tell a pregnant woman what do do with her womb.  It's power.  They worship it.

A Republican congressman sees a corporation that made 6 billion in profit in the first quarter of 2010 and says that securing 20 billion dollars over 4 years from that corporation is a "tragedy of the first proportion."

A Republican congressman sees a CEO who made 4.9 million dollars in 2009 and personally apologizes to him for the actions of the President. 

The right wing loves power.  That's it and that's all. 

After the jump - the rest of the Tendown.  Another 1st and 5 this week. 

1st and Ten: The Weekly Tendown, June 6-12 2010

Sunday, June 13, 2010

 Dear Internet:

Do you know the bystander effect?

Excellent.  Here's Tendown 30.

First:  The Circle K Fallacy

Okay, so the bystander effect is the sociological phenomenon which says that we get our behavioral cues from those around us - and because of that, in situations which require fairly quick action, we are less likely to do anything at all the more we are surrounded by others.  Like this - I've seen these experiments; students are in an enclosed room filling out applications when smoke begins to come from underneath the door; not so much smoke that it's the end of the world, but enough that it's noticeable.  When a student is by himself, he leaves the room to go get help.  But when there are a group of students, they just sit there, frozen, because they're all waiting for someone else to act.  If you ever need help, like you're being attacked or you've got chicken lodged in your windpipe, you're better off having it happen in front of one person than in front of 20. 

I've added a corollary to that - the Circle K Fallacy.

The Circle K fallacy is that we overestimate the correlation between popularity and merit to such an extent that it inhibits our ability to make qualitative decisions.

Like this.

There's a Circle K near my house, it has one gasoline pump out front.  No one is ever there.  Literally, I've never once seen anyone pumping gas there who wasn't me.

It's next to a gas station and across the street from a gas station.  Larger, dozens of pumps, full on gas stations that are almost always completely full.  I live in an urban, high traffic area. 

The price of the gas is always almost to the penny the same.  The Circle K, at the very most, might be a penny or two more.  At the most.

But no one goes there.  People are more inclined to wait for a pump at the station next to it then go to the Circle K.

I did that myself, once, maybe twice.  One day as I was pumping gas and looking at the empty Circle K, I thought how odd my own decision making was - and I realized that it wasn't that I had coolly reflected upon the various merits of the gas stations and made a critical decision to choose the Chevron - it was instead that something about the Circle K just struck me wrong, wrong in a fleeting but still real way, and in a split second "do I turn here or here" choice, a choice made almost preconsciously - I went with the Chevron.

And in getting to that thought, it wasn't long before it became evident that why the Circle K seemed "off" is because there was no one there.  And my brain clearly processed "no one at that gas station is weird, given the circumstance, therefore, there must be something wrong with that gas station."

How many people, do you suppose, went through that same decision making process?  Choosing the gas station where all the people were, even if there was no reason to believe the popular gas station was any better.  Over and over it repeats.  One business succeeds, one fails.  It's like how tip jars are never empty (or shouldn't be) - they put some money in a tip jar so the customers will get the cue that the right thing to do is to tip.  Hey, other people are tipping, says the subconscious mind, I can tip too. 

The only reason I wasn't going to the Circle K was because no one else was going there. 

And now I go to the Circle K.  I'm always the only guy at the pump.

So, having had that thought - I asked if there were places (other than the tipping thing) where the fallacy was replicated.

Men - let me ask you a question.

Have you had this experience - the time when you are clearly of most interest to women is when you are already in a relationship.

Circle K fallacy.

If there's a guy without a girlfriend, who isn't dating, women are likely to think "well, something must be wrong with him - if he was valuable, he'd have someone."  Even if that thought isn't fully formed - it's there - 'cause there's a vacant pump, no reason to think it's defective, but they'd rather wait in line at the Chevron.

But the second you get a girlfriend, are in a relationship, are openly and notoriously in a relationship - suddenly women are driving up and asking for 20 dollars of premium unleaded. 

I'm almost 40 years old, I've been dating for almost a quarter of a century - and it's been my life without fail; long stretches of singleness during which there was barely a date to be found - and then, as soon as I coupled up - women who previously showed no interest are hitting on me brazenly.

(Note - this will seem like it's just cover because I'm trying to avoid the following conversation from my Lady Type Friend "who is she, who is this person you were writing about, I have lots of other options myself, Mister, don't think I can't get on Facebook in eleven seconds and have a swarm of gas stations who will stay open all night just for me" but this is entirely past tense in my life; when you hit middle age and work 7 days a week, there's not a lot of women pressing their phone numbers into your palm; I'm sure there are guys my age who can carry on affairs, but Jesus, who has the energy?)

I'd assume that, to an extent, it works in the opposite way - you know that trope where there's the sort of plain girl next door with the glasses and the frumpy clothes who is totally in love with the guy and who the guy obviously should be with why can't he just see how perfect she really is for him?  If she gets a boyfriend, then he'll notice.  Why?  Circle K fallacy. 

No one goes to that restaurant, it must not be any good.  Someone else is paying a hundred grand for a wedding, that must be the right amount.  None of the major politicians supports a dramatic increase in the top marginal tax rate in order to raise revenue, therefore, it must not be an idea worth discussing. 

Circle K fallacy.

We take our social cues from others.  Not only during crisis, but at the marketplace.  The marketplace of goods, the marketplace of people, the marketplace of ideas.  If no one else is there, there must be a good reason.

After the jump, the rest of the Tendown

2010 Wrestling Matches of the Year

Thursday, June 10, 2010

I consider every match I rate at 4 1/2 and up to be a MOTY contender; last year, I saw 42 such matches.  My 2009 MOTY post is here. My match of the decade post for the first decade of the millennium is here.  And my list of the current best wrestlers in the world is here. (Edit - I've now finished the year off and put the top matches in order, you can get to that post here.)

I think I've seen every significant WWE, TNA, NOAH, New Japan, and Dragon's Gate match through May (December of 2009 counts with this year's matches, so we're halfway home).  I'm in March for most of the US indie shows.  I don't watch much lucha.  Some puroresu slips through the cracks, but I really try hard to see everything that might be a contender.  My bias is toward athleticism, as one can see when looking at my lists.  Sometimes that's spots, sometimes stiffness, sometimes otherwise impactful moves - but that's essentially what I care about when I watch wrestling matches. I've got 10 matches at 4 1/2 and up thusfar in the relevant period - and am considering the Davey Richards/Kota Ibushi from the Evolve debut as current MOTY.

I've got Kenta/Marufuji from June 6 on my hard drive right now.  Right now!  

(edit - I think my favorite match now is Marufuji/Devitt 3 from June, another edit - I just this second finished Death Before Dishonor VIII - I think the main event was 5 stars. I'm now solidly into October for every promotion in the world.)

Marufuji v. Devitt (NJ Dec 09) 4 ¾
Go v. Suguira (NOAH Dec 09) 4 ½
Marufuji v. Kanemoto (NJ Mar) 4 ½
Davey v. Ibushi (Evolve Jan) 4 ¾
Yoshikawa/Usuda v. Hidaka/Sawa (Battlearts Feb) 4 ¾
Dick Togo v. BKK (Osaka Feb) 4 ½
Goto v. Nakamura (NJ Apr) 4 ¾
Black v. Strong v. Aries (ROH Apr) 4 ½
Shingo v. Yamato (DGate May) 4 ½
Briscoes v. Wolves (ROH – March) 4 ¾
Richards v. Strong (PWG-Apr) 4 1/2
Shingo v. Hulk (DGate July) 4 ½
Marufuji v. Devitt (June NJ) 4 ¾
Marufuji v. Kanemaru (July NOAH) 4 1/2
Yoshino/Hulk/Doi v. Quackenbush/Jigsaw/Hallowicked (July Chikara) 4 1/2
Suguira v. Takayama (July NOAH) 4 1/2
Suguira v. Taniguchi (July NOAH) 4 1/2
Kensuke v. Go (July Noah) 4 ½
Briscoes v. Kings of Wrestling (June ROH) 4 1/2
Black v. Richards (June ROH) 5
Suguira v. Akiyama (August NOAH) 4 1/2
Kenta/Suguira v. Go/Morishima (Aug NOAH) 4 3/4
Go v. Nakamura (Aug NOAH) 4 ½
Suwama v. Suzuki (Aug AJ) 4 3/4
Black v. Richards (August ROH) 4 3/4
Kenta v. Kanemaru (September NOAH) 4 1/2
Hero v. Ryan (Sep PWG) 4 1/2
Davey v. Kanemoto (Sept NJ) 4 3/4
Kenta/Aoki v. Strong/Edwards (Oct Noah) 4 1/2
Yuji/Kanemoto v. Go/Aoki (Oct NJ) 4 1/2
Omega/Ibushi v. Devitt/Taguchi (Oct NJ) 4 1/2

At the 60 Game Mark - 2010 MLB All Star Ballot (and Giants draft thoughts)

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

We're now right about at 60 games into the baseball season; I did this at the 40 game mark also; it's my current All-Star ballot.  Each league's roster is 34, with 13 pitchers.  I've got one rep from each team.  Solely based on performance to date.

C Olivo, Blanco, Hundley
1B Pujols, Votto, Huff
2B Utley, Prado, Johnson
SS Tulowitzki, Eckstein
3B Wright, Rolen, Zimmerman
OF Holliday, McCutcheon, Pagan, Torres, Ethier, Byrd
DH Willingham

P Jimenez (MVP, Cy)

-Heyward just misses; he loses the spot to Byrd because of the need for a Cub; obviously, in the real world, he'll be on the team.  I'd expect Gonzalez to pass Huff and probably Votto too to backup at 1st.  Note that the Mets backup catcher Blanco is still on the team, but just barely; he could easily be replaced by Ruiz right now.  The DH is now a permanent All-Star fixture.

C Mauer, Jaso, J. Molina
1B Morneau, Youkilis, Cabrera
2B Cano (MVP), Zobrist, Hudson
SS Andrus, Gonzalez
3B Longoria, Rodriguez, Beltre
OF Gutierrez, Crawford, Wells, Kearns, Swisher, DeJesus
DH Rios

P Romero
   Valverde (Cy)

Bautista loses his spot to DeJesus because of the need for a Royal (I like, incidentally, the need to get a representative from every team; probably because it presents an additional challenge); Cruz is coming off the DL and might be able to nip Swisher for that last spot.  Unlikely that Romero will actually be the AL starter (or that a closer, Valverde, will win the Cy Young) but there isn't an obvious replacement yet.  Lester is rising and might be the choice by the 80 game mark when I do this again. 

I didn't love the Giants draft; it was frustrating to see all of the MLB Network guys analyze my club before our pick and agree that lack of "athleticism" is our obvious problem.  We can't hit the ball - but still, when a smart guy like Peter Gammons looks at our primary need, he wants to see speed.  Speed's what we drafted; I would have rather taken one of the bats - Brentz or Cox - in fact, just before our pick, I was thinking about all the in-game announcer puns should we take Cox, "The Giant Cox steps into the box" that kind of thing.  Coincidentally, the scouting report on Brown (true story) is that he is struggling with the switch from aluminum bats - so had we passed him up for that reason to take Cox, maybe something like "Giant Cox Superior Wood Swinger; Brown Prefers Pipe."

Sabean always taking away my fun.

Or we could have taken Brentz.  Also fine. 

1st and Five: The Weekly Tendown, A Special Halfdown May 30-June 5 2010

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Dear Internet:

Jason Bateman and Dustin Hoffman get their makeout on for the Kiss Cam.

I got nothin'.

Let's do some Tendown 29!

First: You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train

The LA School District this week announced that the Arizona Show Your Papers law would become part of the civics curriculum.  Although the passed provison was facially neutral - commentary by the school board President suggested that the Arizona law was "anti-American" - and in the linked piece, law professor Jonathan Turley expressed concern that the way it might be presented in class might be slanted:

I have long supported schools incorporating such public issues into civics discussion to tie foundational principles to contemporary examples. Arizona’s law could make for some interesting debate and thought-provoking questions. However, only if it is taught in a neutral way and elicits discussion on both perspectives — not just opposition to the law. The message from the board appears to be that the classes should characterize the law as akin to racism and anti-Semitism. That would seem more like indoctrination than education.

This is, let me suggest, trickier than Turley presents.

Should every issue be presented in a neutral way?  Is it possible to do so?

Understandably, we want to lurch toward an idea of fairness - ideas aren't math problems, there isn't a "correct" answer to the question "is the show your papers law anti-American" in the way that we know 2+2=4 (or in the way we know that evolution is true; which adds another plank to this discussion; "teach the controversy" has become the creationist mantra for the past couple of decades - it was the position taken by Bush 43, that "both sides" of the evolution "debate" should be taught - as if the two possibilities of human existence were (1) the best analysis of the facts as currently knowable to us or (2) Genesis.  Oh...just briefly, the reason Christians really, and I mean really don't want that "controversy" taught - is we'd have to apply the same standard of rigor in evaluating evidence to creationism as we do toward actual science - and that would be a bit of a massacre. No one really argues that 2+2=7 or that Thursday comes before Wednesday should receive equal time; we could collectively decide that "facts do not exist" in a post-Foucaldian fashion should be a greater element of public school education - but it would make it kinda difficult to grade papers.  Certainly would have helped my Chemistry grade junior year:

The atomic weights of oxygen and of carbon are 16.0 and 12.0, respectively. How much heavier is the oxygen atom in relation to carbon?

Correct Solution: Atomic weights represent the relative masses of different kinds of atoms. This means that the atom of oxygen has a mass that is 16/12 = 4/3 ≈ 1.33 as great as the mass of a carbon atom.

My Answer: 4

But if my answer is motivated by my sincerely held belief that Avogadro's number is merely a secular theory designed to strip me of my religious heritage; one that would later lead to the extermination of the Jews in the Holocaust, then clearly I should have gotten credit; otherwise I am being denied my religious liberty.  Sort of like the recent argument from military chaplains that repealing Don't Ask Don't Tell would be infringing upon their free exercise right to discriminate against gays.)

Which sort of gets us to the right spot.

We can agree, you and I and Professor Turley, that a math teacher should teach that 1+1=2 without room for much interpretation.

Let's put that on one end.  I'd suggest to you gravity, the heliocentric universe and evolution are pretty near that end.

On the extreme other end, there are some matters that we can largely agree are matters solely of taste.  Cake is better than pie.  Vanilla is better than chocolate.  Unlikely we want to teach those things as matters which are knowable.   

Where's the Holocaust on that scale?  Not "did it happen" - but "what does it mean"?

Or slavery?  Is the role of the instructor to look to have a balanced discussion about the merits of genocide? 

Turley, even as he's saying that a condemnation of the Show Your Papers law would be an inappropriate use of the classroom puts that law in contrast with racism and anti Semitism; by clear implication, Turley is saying that racism isn't a matter of opinion, that it is a clear wrong, should be taught as a clear wrong - that racism looks more like math than like dessert preference.

Once we move from a position that the job of the instructor is total neutrality about matters not factual we open the door to interpretation.  If Professor Turley takes for himself the ability to say the Holocaust was an atrocity - or that the conception of slavery, placing one man in a legally subordinate position to another man based solely on race, was "anti-American", given the stated comittment in our founding documents to the principle of all men being created equal - then presumably ideas are not all to be presented neutrally - ideas are presented in the manner in which they are most reasonably understood.

I'd argue that the most reasonable way to view Show Your Papers is that it's anti-American; that the essence of our criminal justice system is we place a burden not to prove innocence - but to prove guilt.  The reason we have a 4th Amendment is to make the government demonstrate good cause before accusing us of crimes; if the government wants to come into my house to investigate me, it needs something more than just suspicion; it needs probable cause.  We don't like in a country where the police pull your car over just to do.  We don't live in a country where, if you're walking down the street, you'd better have an ID at the ready.

Or at least we didn't used to.  This is the slippery slope in action.  Twenty years ago, we had a debate about drug testing in high school sports.  The government decided that, despite the language of the 4th Amendment, high school athletes could have their bodies searched, even if there were no suspicion at all of illegal activity.

I'd suggest to you this is anti-American.  I don't need to prove myself innocent.

Ten years ago, after 9-11, there were checkpoints placed in subways, there were patdowns in front of football stadiums.  The government argued that, despite the language of the 4th Amendment, the threat of terrorism required that we could have our property searched, even if there were no suspicion at all of illegal activity.

I'd suggest to you this is anti-American.  I don't need to prove myself innocent.

I shouldn't be allowed to falsely shout fire in a crowded theater, despite first amendment language.  It poses an immediate threat to life.  Okay.  Fair exception.

I shouldn't be allowed to walk onto an airplane without going through a metal detector, despite fourth amendment language.  It poses an immediate threat to life.  Okay.  Fair exception.

Show Your Papers isn't that.  We can have a debate about the level of  "crisis" that undocumented immigration possesses - I'd argue it's fairly small in the universe of current American problems - but there's not a reasonable argument that it's the functional equivalent of getting on an airplane.

And that's not really the point, I recognize - the point is, as an instructor, what is my role - once we open the door and are willing to acknowledge a non-neutrality on ideas like "racism and anti-Semitism" - to what does that lead?

I don't have a good answer.  When it's the Texas School Board officially casting doubt on the separation of church and state, I think it's contrary to the manifest weight of historical evidence, but I get that pretty quickly we hit a whose ox is being gored place.

The problem is, as Howard Zinn observed, "you can't stay neutral on a moving train" - the idea of instructor as neutral arbiter doesn't exist;  we can offer rigorous analysis and offer that analysis from multiple perspectives - but just because multiple views exist, that doesn't mean they are all equally valid.  The ministers linked above are arguing that homosexuality is harmful and sinful - how much class time should that view get?  Should that view be presented neutrally?  Not much more than two generations ago a state like Virginia had a law against interracial marriage.  Would a Los Angeles high school teacher have been out of line by branding it un-American?  90 years ago the Supreme Court ruled that the forced sterilization of those judged mentally incompetent was constitutionally permissible.  What was the level of neutrality required when considering that?  Or Japanese internment?  Or Indian removal?

I get that it's hard; no, I don't have a good place to draw the line - ideas are complicated; if the LA School District had actually taken an official position that the meaning of the Show Your Papers law was anti-American and students should be instructed of such (this didn't happen, as Turley points out) I'd be opposed.  But if an instructor were to argue such, if he were to argue that the slow diminishment of the 4th Amendment over the past 30 years has been anti-American - if he were to point out that Show Your Papers occurs in the same racially charged environment that produced the lightening of the faces in a public school mural:

City Councilman Steve Blair spearheaded a public campaign on his talk show at Prescott radio station KYCA-AM (1490) to remove the mural.

In a broadcast last month, according to the Daily Courier in Prescott, Blair mistakenly complained that the most prominent child in the painting is African-American, saying: "To depict the biggest picture on the building as a Black person, I would have to ask the question: Why?"

I think that's not only a reasonable argument - I think it's the most reasonable way to view the evidence.
I think, I'd guess, that a professor should have something to profess.  That's what I think.

After the jump, the rest of the Tendown (I'll take the offsides penalty, only need 5 this week)

I Listen to Every Smack Off Call. Except 1995.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

I've written in a previous post about my relationship with sports talk radio (my first call was as a 12 year old in '83, defending John Elway from Bob Trumpy criticism on his WLW show from Cincinnati); I recognized at a young age that the worst element of sports talk were the callers, who take their 90 seconds of airtime to display how deeply embedded are conservative virtues into the collective sports fan psyche (my defending the rights of the player against the corporate establishment would mark me as a political outlier; you don't have to scratch too deeply to find where most sports fans live).

More importantly, sports fans are boring (me too, I never made a call worth listening to); which is why you should avoid them on your radio dial.

Someone who recognized that early was Jim Rome; who cultivated a stylized manner of phone call from his listeners (The Jungle) which essentially boiled down to - prepare something to say before you call ("have a take, and don't suck").

The artistic success of that is a your mileage may vary situation; and Rome's own "take" on sports really hasn't evolved beyond the most bumper sticker simplistic - but I must admit, that since my first hearing it during a long, long drive in '96, I have gone out of my way each year to locate the annual Smack Off, the battle among top Jungle residents to provide the best call on the biggest day of the sports radio year. Like one could construct a narrative of modern WWE by viewing only each year's Wrestlemania if need be - listening to each Smack Off can allow you to weave your way through the sports radio landscape without having to kill yourself everytime Big Don calls from a car Phone.

This week, I found the entire history of the Smack Off.  And I listened to every call in Smack Off history. Every one (except '95, which isn't available - totally coincidentally, my last ever call to a sports talk show was in the year the Smack Off started). 2011 edit; the above link is currently dead, consider this as partial replacement.

I've re-awarded each year's Huge Call, and I'm willing to say, given that I have the benefit of hindsight, that my choices for annual winner, where they differ from the official selection, are superior.

The Real Winners of the Smack Off:

1995: Actual Winner: JT the Brick

1996: Actual Winner: Jeffrey DiTolla, My Winner: Jeffrey DiTolla
-I'm not sure, upon re-listen, what would have gotten me hooked back in '96 - these early Smack Offs are terrible.  They're terrible for two reasons (1) the top end calls are not as good as in recent years and there are relatively few that stand out and, more importantly (2) there just isn't enough depth to support a 4 hour Smack Off - these longer shows, with bad call after bad call, are just drugery to get through - by the time I got to Jim in Crapchester I just wanted to start crying.  DiTolla 1 is slightly better than DiTolla 2 to take this year.

1997: Actual Winner: Doc Mike DiTolla, My Winner: Iafrate
-This, I'd argue, is the worst Smack Off - partially because the sound quality of the upload isn't very good - but I defy anyone to listen to Mitch the Rat in Wichita and think this is an event that will still be part of the sports talk landscape in 2010.  I didn't like any of the calls, literally, not a single one. 

1998: Actual Winner: Stevie Carbone, My Winner: Doc Mike DiTolla
-I'd go 1-2-3 with Doc Mike, Stevie, Iafrate - all who came in at the end to make this, probably the strongest Smack Off to that date.  Jim Harbaugh inexplicably calls to essentially say he had nothing to say.

1999: Actual Winner: Sean the Cablinasian, My Winner: Sean the Cablinasian
Enter the Cablinasian; if there is a line of demarcation into the era of 21st century Smack, it would be here with the win by the Cablinasian; Sean's (1) level of preparation and (2) comfort with embracing a manuscript style of call put him a cut above in the new era.  As I'll mention in a couple of years - of the big hitter callers in the middle of the first decade of the new millennium, I prefer Iafrate to Sean by a little bit - but the Cablinasian was, pretty solidly the best call in '99.

2000: Actual Winner: Doc Mike, My Winner: Doc Mike
If you were going to try this endeavor - listening to every Smack Off call ever - consider starting in 2000, if you make it to 2010, then go back and get to the 90s, as this is the first of the 3 hour years and it's not at all a struggle to get through.  The dentist wins again, both in the real vote and mine. 

2001: Actual Winner Silk in Huntington Beach. My Winner: Gino in San Antonio (finished 3rd)

-This wasn't a very good year; Silk made easily his best call of the decade, a political takedown of standard sports talk, and if one wanted to leave the result as it was, I'd be okay with that - but Gino (making his, to this date, last ever call to the Smack Off) edges him out largely based on delivery.

2002: Actual Winner Jeff in Richmond. My Winner: Doc Mike DiTolla (5th)

-The worst result in the decade; Jeff's almost a stereoptypically bad caller, mixing in lifted wrestling promo language with boilerplate conservativism. He'll fit it great with the next junior Senator from the Nutmeg State. Doc Mike doesn't make a great call here, but as with 2001, there wasn't a great call, and he should have gotten his 3rd win. 

2003: Actual Winner Sean the Cablinasian. My Winner: Dan in DC (4th)

-Sean's the most rewarded caller in Jungle history - a 5 time Smack Off Winner; in my re-working, his 4 titles this decade are reduced to one; I like Sean, he'd make my top 3 or 4 every single year, but I have him getting edged out of most of his titles. Like Gino, Dan in DC stopped calling the Smack Off after failing to win in his year (perhaps out of disappointment for being inappropriately unacknowledged - today, you are redeedmed, Gino in San Antonio and Dan in DC! Redeemed! Redeemed by the Blog of Revelation!) but Dan returned a few weeks ago for the 2010 contest.

2004: Actual Winner Iafrate. My Winner: Iafrate

-Iafrate and the Cablinasian are the most consistent performers over the last ten years (along with Greg in Vegas). They went 1-2 in '04 and that's the way I would have gone as well.

2005: Actual Winner Sean the Cablinasian. My Winner: Iafrate (2nd)

-I'd actually put Sean in third in 2005, behind Iafrate and Stevie Carbone. Iafrate has a more extemporaneous sounding style than Sean (a thought which he interjects in his calls, most effectively in 2007) and that gives him the edge for me.

2006: Actual Winner Sean the Cablinasian. My Winner: Sean the Cablinasian

-Sean's the side here, then Iafrate, Carbone, and Greg in Vegas. Another caller who I dislike, largely for reasons of style is Terrence in Sierra Madre; which I mention here as Rome consistently calls he and Greg the best callers never to have won the Smack Off, a role that was Iafrate's at decade's start.

2007: Actual Winner Sean the Cablinasian. My Winner: Iafrate (4th)

-Sean's third straight - but again, I'm going Iafrate, in my listening - he'd be a three time winner from the decade. Sean, Greg, Carbone once again would round out my top 4.

2008: Actual Winner Iafrate. My Winner Doc Mike DiTolla (2nd)

-The Cablinasian got his own radio show; knocking him out of competition - and whereas the guy I thought had been the better of the two, Iafrate, actually won in '08, I would have had him 3rd, behind Joe in the OC, and my favorite single call in Smack Off history, Doc Mike's "I drink your smacktake" call.  In my vote, Doc Mike becomes a 4 time winner.

2009: Actual Winner Brad in Corona. My Winner Greg in Vegas (4th)

-My current favorite caller stylistically is Brad in Corona (just ahead of Joe in the OC) but I would have placed him 3rd in '09, behind Mike in Indy and Greg in Vegas - Greg's shtick is that he says overly offensive things (in '09 there was a Christina Applegate's breast cancer joke) which prevents him from winning. When you listen to every Smack Off call over the past ten years in one week that can really start to wear on you - but taking each year individually, I think this was the best call of '09.

2010: Actual Winner Vic In NoCal. My Winner: Brad in Corona (8th)

-The largest disparity between my choice and the official board, probably due to 2010 arguably being the best overall year for calls, at least in terms of the depth of the good calls, in Smack Off history. Brad was my favorite, and I'm not really a fan of Vic's, as his style is a step too manuscript heavy for my ears - Joe in the OC was a very close second for me, Mike in Indy, Jay Mohr (with his best ever Smack Off call) and Doc Mike would have rounded out my hypercompetitive top 5.

2011: Actual Winner: Brad in Corona.  My Winner: Brad in Corona
-Brad and Iafrate should have gone 1-2 (I would have moved Joe in the OC up to 3rd); My top 2 were clearly the strongest in mixing solid content with an extemporaneous sounding delivery; both guys are extra comfortable on the radio; I preferred Iafrate a tick this year; meaning, I liked listening to his call more - I enjoyed the experience more, I found him more likable - but that could be my settling into middle age; I'm now old school defending my intellectual turf against young punks - recognizing that, I vote for Brad - he cut more deeply, was sharper, more creative, and is the only guy on the board who doesn't lose ground to Iafrate stylistically.

I don't know why I didn't listen to 2012.  No - I did listen, Chael won and didn't deserve it, but I didn't include that discussion here for some reason.

2013: Actual Winner: Mark from Hollywood. My Winner: Vic in No Cal (3rd)
Mark did a Siri bit that, had you heard it at a comedy club would have come across as really hacky.  I didn't think this was a strong year, had Brad in Corona not gotten run, he would have been my choice again.

Here's a link.

2014: Actual Winner: Mike in Indy/Chael Sonnen, My winner: Vic in No Cal (4th)
Chael is famous and can read well, Mike's less so and less so - the optics around the call were significantly better than the actual take which was long and laboriously read. It was only 4 years ago that my dislike of Vic was motivated by his script reliance, now, in context, he seems almost extemporaneous.  Mark from Hollywood is head and shoulders above the field in terms of ability to not sound like he's speaking from a script, I preferred Vic's content - but stylistically, no one was close to Mark in the year with the least sports content I can ever recall.

2015: Actual Winner: Brad in Corona. My winner: Mike and Chael (2nd)
Brad, as you can see, has been particularly high on my list of Rome callers; in the real vote, he edged last years winners; but I (narrowly) go the other way, Chael and Mike's worked break up/drop call angle was seamless and got my top spot with Mark from Hollywood being my third choice.

Not That You Should Listen - But...

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Lakers in 6.

And I'll take Brazil in the World Cup.  'Cause if you're just taking someone, why not take Brazil?

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