1st and Five - The Weekly Tendown, Halfdown Edition July 25-31 2010

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Dear Internet:

Pentagon Papers 2K were released this week; the response "well of course the war's unwinnable and the government's been lying about it" reflected less that the papers weren't significant and more our suicide cult like unwillingness to change direction even in the face of catastrophic inevitability.  Let's try this metaphor - the American public is the guy who has gained so much weight that his skin has become fused with his couch and Dick Gregory has to come in with the jaws of life to pry him out.  It isn't that we're unaware we're dying, it's not that we're unaware our living room is covered in buckets of original recipe and animal feces, it's not that we're unaware that every can of frosting we down is another day closer to the end.

It's that we've decided it's too late.  Once you've passed 5 bills, the next hundred pounds hardly matters - who among us, seriously, this means you - who among us looked at the plan to radically increase troops in Afghanistan and said "helluva plan - we're gonna win this thing"?  We know our almost decade long dump of dollars and bodies in the middle east is going to kill us as surely as that fourteenth deep dish meat lovers.  We just don't care. 

But if you want to read Nick Kristof from this week that would be good too:

 For the cost of just one soldier in Afghanistan for one year, we could start about 20 schools there.

What's the argument that's not a better idea?  Absent the authoritarian need some Americans have to pound submission into brown enemies and the degree to which policymakers are wed to the military industrial complex - what's the theoretical case that our lives are better off by spending our money on guns and not butter? 

In 2010 the Republicans held up extending unemployment benefits for two months, a grain of sand in the desert of our budget, with the stated claim of fiscal responsiblity.  But we continue to set fire to hundred dollar bills every single second of our lives without any sort of movement to stop it.

And Don Draper hired a hooker to slap him around on Thanksgiving, 1964. 

That was this week.  Here's Tendown 37.

First: 60-45

Get used to baseball talk.

SFG is 60-45, 1 1/2 up in the NL WC, with the 3rd best record and second best pythag in the NL (62-43)  BP has us with a 42% chance to make the playoffs, but significantly higher, 68% if you run the PECOTA simulation - that's my general preference, and it's what I usually think about first when forecasting.  I would have liked a bat at the deadline, but it was the premium arms (Haren, Oswalt) that got sold short (Cards weirdly overpaid for Westbrook though).  With fewer than 60 games left in the season - let's say it plays out like this:

AL East - NYY
Central - Minnesota
West - Texas
WC - Tampa

-Other than White Sox/Twins in the Central and which one of the two teams in the East wins the division, the AL looks to be over. 

NL East - Braves
Central - Cards
West - Padres
WC - Giants

-At the half way mark, this is exactly how my modified picks looked, except I had the Reds winning the WC - let's say we hold off them and the Phillies (Oswalt.  Grumble, grumble) and work our way into that spot.  We could also take out the Padres, which places me against my financial interests, given the odds they were still getting a month ago to win the West were too tempting to pass up. 

Pat Burrell gave us our Brian Johnson moment yesterday, taking Broxton out to put us at our high water mark.  I posted my look at the Nineties in my full recap of SFG history this week (perhaps I finish this week, but it's August and time for my next post over at the counterfactual).

Right now - here are the team leaders by WAR/WARP3

LF Huff 4.8/7
-Huff's on track to have a better year than Sandoval did in 2009; which would make it the best season for a Giants position player since Bonds in 2004.  I was heavily critical of Sabean for the Huff signing - I was wrong.

CF Torres 4/5.9
-Andres Torres is in track to have the best year for a SFG CF since Butler in 1990 - at the very least - it might go back to '88 by season's end.

C Posey 1.5/3
-Posey's late callup leaves him behind a handful of Molina/Estallela/Manwaring seasons - but my guess is he winds up with the best SFG catching season since Brenly in '87 - and the  best SFG catching season (as will be revealed when I finish my posts recapping our full history) is not a high bar - it's probably too late for Posey to make it this year - but in 2011, Buster Posey will turn in the best season for any SFG catcher ever.

SS Uribe 1.4/2.7
-This is probably not going to be the year Uribe had in '09, but an above replacement season for a Giants SS is always a welcome happening.

P Cain 2.8/3.5
Lincecum 3.1/3.1
Zito 2.7/3
Sanchez 1.5/2.1
Bumgarner 1.1/1.5
Wilson 1.8/2.9
Romo 1.2/1.8

In 2009, we had 4 starters above replacement value (everyone but the Unit) - this year we are locked into 5; none of whom are having significant seasons historically, but if you tack on the two plus relievers, we're in good shape here as well. 

One more bat would have been good. 

Looking forward to seeing how it ends.  How will I get crushed this time?

After the jump - the rest of the Tendown

1. 2010 College Football Top 25
Presumably before the season starts I'll modfiy this with a separate post, but for now - here's my Top 25.

1. Boise St.
2. TCU
3. Ohio St.
4. Florida
5. Alabama
6. Texas
7. Oklahoma
8. Virginia Tech
9. Oregon
10. USC
11. Nebraska
12. Penn St.
13. BYU
14. Texas Tech
15. Wisconsin
16. Iowa
17. West Virginia
18. Clemson
19. Cincinnati
20. Boston College
21. Pitt
22. Utah
23. LSU
24. Georgia
25. Houston

There are a few season win totals that you should consider.

Oregon (over 9)
Florida St (under 7.5)
Texas A&M (under 7)
Michigan (under 7)
BYU (over 8)
USC (over 9.5)

2. No to Oligarchy
Bernie Sanders wrote a piece this week about our need to increase taxes.

The 400 richest families in America, who saw their wealth increase by some $400 billion during the Bush years, have now accumulated $1.27 trillion in wealth. Four hundred families! During the last fifteen years, while these enormously rich people became much richer their effective tax rates were slashed almost in half. While the highest-paid 400 Americans had an average income of $345 million in 2007, as a result of Bush tax policy they now pay an effective tax rate of 16.6 percent, the lowest on record. 

3. Is there an FBI file on You?
The FBI kept a 400 page file on American hero Howard Zinn.  Probably, if the FBI isn't investigating you, you're not doing enough. 

4. Race in the Department of Agriculture
Good piece in the Journal of Southern Studies about actual racism (you know, the kind Fox News doesn't care about) at the Department of Agriculture

5. 25 Most Hated Teams of All Time
SI posted the 25 most hated sports teams ever this week. One assumes the 2010-11 Miami Heat (who I cannot wait to root for - I am crazy stoked; when I was younger I took pleasure in wearing my foreign jerseys into enemy territory as that guy did in Cleveland this week; as you get older, there's enough hostility in your normal life that you don't feel the need to engender any extra - and maybe you want to incur popular wrath without your girl next to you - but I pick up what that guy was throwing down) was the impetus for the list.  Here it is:

1. '86 Miami Hurricanes
2. '88-89 Detroit Pistons
3. '92 Dallas Cowboys

-Now, I like rooting for the heels; all things being equal, since I was a kid listening to Jesse Ventura on the announce, I much preferred the guys with the black hats

(oh - speaking of graps - I saw 3 four star matches this week - from the Dragon's Gate July show, Shingo v. Hulk was 4 1/2 stars, putting it in MOTY contention, and I went 4 1/4 on Yoshino v. Yamato -- and from June in New Japan I saw Marufuji v. Devitt III, and I went 4 3/4 stars - right now, I think it's the MOTY.  It's feud of the year and Marufuji is Wrestler of the Year.)

...Anyway, despite my preference for heels - I'm on board with the dislike of all three of these teams; for no good reason, I didn't like those Jimmy Johnson Hurricanes teams; not only did I root for Penn St in that Fiesta Bowl game, I won money on Penn St (yes I was betting on college football when I was 16 - I vividly recall taking some money from my mother from that Miami/Nebraska title game 3 years prior to that) I didn't like the Bad Boys Pistons - I took the Celtics as my non GSW team of choice, so that led me to full on dislike of Detroit - and of course, I've had a lifelong dislike of the Cowboys, as do all reasonable thinking people (it may be apocryphal - but in the way that you may have had a sex talk with a parent, I believe I recall my mother sitting me down when I was five and saying "Now, you may start to have you get a little older.  That's called disgust - and you feel it for the Dallas Cowboys.  It's perfectly normal."  Then she showed me a picture of Tom Landry and gave me meatballs for punching him in the trachea.) That early 90s run where they kept beating my Niners was probably my least favorite team ever.

4. '74-5 Philadelphia Flyers
5. '78 NY Yankees
6. '07 New England Patriots
7. '93-4 New York Knicks
8. '76 Oakland Raiders
9. '89-90 UNLV Runnin' Rebels
10. '98-99 Manchester United

-I'm too young for the Flyers; those Yankee teams were fun; I didn't root for them, I had good NL affinity even as a very young boy - but I liked Billy and Reggie and appreciated the dramatic aspects of the team - the Yankees popped off the TV screen when I was a kid - they felt like heirs to the guys who I was reading about in the baseball history books.  And my first favorite book was Sparky Lyle's. I think I was in..4th grade and I'd bring it to school and sneak whatever opportunities I could to read whenever there were activities I was able to maneuver my way out of.   I didn't like the Patriots team and rooted against them hard in the SB - but it's just sports hateraid, they weren't my team so I didn't want them to go undefeated, and I'd bet that's the case with most people.  I liked those Riley Knicks teams - I was a Ewing fan from his Georgetown days (and that was another unpopular team I liked) I tend to like real swaggering basketball teams (I didn't root for Vegas particularly - or the Fab Five, which was a team that I think was even more disliked than the Vegas team, but I preferred them at the time to those Duke teams propped up as the paragon of sportsmanship).  I don't follow soccer enough to have my own emotional impact about Man U - that Raider team is the first team I ever remember rooting for - I have a vague recollection of their SB win over the Vikes.  I like the Raider image - it was perhaps easier to do from a distance, but I never felt any element of a Niner/Raider rivalry, my life could accommodate Oakland/LA as the team I rooted for in the AFC, and I'd like them to get better and get better in a autumn wind is a pirate sort of way. 

11. 1990 Miami Hurricanes
12. '91-2 Duke Blue Devils
13. '86 New York Mets

-I really liked that Mets team; Rickey Henderson is my favorite non SFG of all time - that Mets team might be my favorite non Giants team of all time.  I specifically recall exactly where I was when the ball went through Buckner's legs - I can see myself watching that game right now. 

14. 1972 USSR Men's Basketball
15. 2005 USC Trojans

-Hey, one of my teams.  That Notre Dame game was all time great; watch that 4th down sideline pass from Leinart to Jarrett again.  I still think Matt Leinart's gonna be a good starting QB.  We shoulda beat Texas.

16. '74 Oakland A's
17. '93 Notre Dame

-Any of those Lou Holtz Notre Dame teams can make the list as far as I'm concerned.  Early 80s Dodgers, Early 90s Notre Dame.  Late 70s Cowboys.  Early 90s Cowboys.  These are the teams I disliked. 

My least favorite coaches ever:

1. Tommy Lasorda
2. Jimmy Johnson
3. Lou Holtz
4. Tom Landry
5. Mike Krzyzewski

18. '76 East German Women's Swimming
19. '19 Chicago White Sox
20. '04 US Basketball
21. '01 Portland Trail Blazers
22. '01-02 Toronto Maple Leafs
23. '83-'84 Georgetown Hoyas

-Let's go Hoy-as.  Clap, clap, clap, clap, clap.

24. '09 Detroit Tigers
25. 2010-11 Miami Heat

-Can't wait. 

That's all for this time.  I'll see you next time...if there is a next time...

Your pal,



Anonymous said...

For the cost of just one soldier in Afghanistan for one year, we could start about 20 schools there.

What's the argument that's not a better idea? The fact that the Taliban know what a threat that a complete schooling infrastructure would be, making them a prime target. So who's going to be protecting those schools?

445 schools is a drop in the bucket for over 5,000,000 children. Taliban haven't gone after them now because such a low number is not a threat overall, and because they are keeping a watchful eye over all of those that are currently built. A mass attempt to build the tens of thousands of schools needed will surely be met with a strong backlash, one that would require a military presence to counter, or Afghanistan will surely become even more extreme, the prevention of which being the whole point of continued military presence there to begin with.

I actually don't have a problem with giving up on Afghanistan and letting them fall into a Biblical apocolypse, but saying that our goals there can be accomplished by building schools and eliminating armed troops is just naive, wishful thinking.

Jim said...

At some point, I assume we'll stop playing into the idea that wars are making us safer.

If that was the goal - it hasn't worked - and I think the goal is, instead, to keep us in a state of permanent war. War is its own end.

To look at what we've militarily caused over this past decade (and, more historically, the last half century) and say that what would really cause backlash against the US would be humanitarian measures is literally the opposite of how I believe reality is more correctly viewed.

Anonymous said...

Would you please elaborate on your assertion that the wars have not "made us safer"? By my count, there have been exactly zero successful terrorist attacks in the nearly nine years since the War on Terror began. Who would have thought that possible in the immediate aftermath of 9/11?

And this has been done with a 100% volunteer army. So we have traded the slaughter of innocents with the deaths of people who knew what they were getting into, and earned (and continue to earn) benefits for their families as a result of their service to the country.

I'm sure that the immediate return of 68,000 angry, unemployed troops from Afghanistan to America would work out really well.

Jim said...

1. Consider the Greenwald documentary "Rethinking Afghanistan" for the proposition that the Taliban has been strenghtened in Afghanistan (your original equation was Taliban weakness = our safety) due to the war.

2. Consider Juan Cole's book Rethinking the Muslim World for the proposition that the war on terror has exacted such a civilian toll that its served to engender more anti-American hostility than existed previously (I'd argue that it's been our decades of military action in the middle east - from the first Gulf War back to our support of Saddam Hussein, back to our support of the Shah, back to our overthrow of the Iranian government and institution of the Shah that generates that hostility in the first place).

3. Statistically, terrorism is less of a threat than a lack of health insurance (for example) and it's not a close call. If you're saying "how do we make Americans safer" a reprioritization of the budget away from the military would be how one would do that. That's a macro view of what (wrapping all the way back to Kristof's original piece) building schools instead of killing people is arguing.

Mark said...

Two points from me on this one. Firstly, Anonymous' comment: "So we have traded the slaughter of innocents with the deaths of people who knew what they were getting into..."

Umm, the slaughter of innocents continues on a daily basis. That these innocents happen to have brown skin and live in far-away countries doesn't make them less innocent.

And as for the Manchester United team of 1999. As is the case with all teams managed by a man as hypocritical and objectionable as Alex Ferguson, they were an extraordinarly easy team to detest. Albeit very, very good at football.

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