1st and Ten: The Weekly Tendown August 8-14 2010

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Dear Internet:

Sure hope the check cleared.

Let's do Tendown 39.

First: Via ovicipitum dura est

My favorite general election Presidential candidate from either of the two parties in US history was Adlai Stevenson.  Here he was accepting the nomination in 1952:

Let's talk sense to the American people! Let's tell them the truth, that there are no gains without pains, that we are now on the eve of great decisions, not easy decisions, like resistance when you're attacked, but a long, patient, costly struggle which alone can assure triumph over the great enemies of man - war, poverty and tyranny - and the assaults upon human dignity which are the most grievous consequences of each.

Adlai got his clock cleaned  by Ike in both '52 and '56 - and had to wear the appellation hung on him by Ike's running mate Nixon --- egghead.

The way of the egghead is hard was the first of Stevenson's retorts.  Of course he said it in Latin.  His second was a joke: "eggheads of the world Unite!  You have nothing to lose but your yolks"

I'm guessing in 2010, a national politician couldn't say either.  Latin would be unpardonably elitist and a joke referencing Marx would feed the right wing hate machine for weeks.  In '52, Nixon called Stevenson an egghead to portray him as overly intellectual, out of touch with the common man; today, it isn't just politicians who succeed pandering to the least common denominator, running away from thoughts which need to be expressed in polysyllables seems to be a virtue across our national landscape.

Here's a piece from the NY Times this week about the current rock star on the Food Network, Guy Fieri:

“You feel like he has that same background just like you do, never pretentious, nothing fancy,” observed Ami Wilson, who went to the Atlantic City event with her husband, Matthew, a police officer in central New Jersey.

Kathleen McCormick, who brought her two teenage sons to see Mr. Fieri from their beach house nearby on the Jersey Shore, said, “He’s the only one who never talks down to anybody.” (She said that other cooking shows were “too preachy” for them.)

Congratulations, Kathleen.  You're quoted in the New York Times, almost certainly the single moment in your life in which your ideas reach their greatest audience - and you criticize television chefs for thinkin' they're all big. 

The premise of the piece in the Times is that the same vein of anti-intellectualism tapped into by Sarah Palin (nothing should be too complex that you can't write it on your hand) runs its way throughout our culture; my argument would be its pumped by the muscle of economic anxiety.  In times perceived as more prosperous,  it was Simon Cowell grabbing our national consciousness, condescending and snide; slapping us around like a hooker Don Draper hired on Thanksgiving in '64.  But post economic collapse, foreign accents render you suspicious (and foreign accents plus dark complexions will get you a demand to see your citizenship papers in Arizona); what we want is affirmation that ours are the correct values and choices (let's return to founding principles!) and what we need are scapegoats.  The immigrants are taking our jobs.  Obama's policies are designed to help blacks.  The democrats are turning welfare and unemployment into a virtue.  And when people with advanced degrees talk about global warming (or evolution) as factual; when they note that a committment to reduce the deficit can't be reconciled with the desire to continue the Bush tax cuts for those who make over a quarter million dollars a year; when instead of bowing to anti-Muslim bigotry they point out that, as opposed to the US being a "Christian nation" it was specifically designed by those founding fathers to whom the right gives lip service as governmentally godless;  they are called out of touch with the concerns of real Americans.  For over a decade, my boots have been on the ground in what should be our national war against ignorance, against supersitition, against know-nothingness, but each year, my ability to reach my students depends less and less on what I know and more on more on how personally and emotionally relatable I can be.  It's not exactly the life of the mind I signed up for.

My favorite quote from Stevenson was in his concession to Ike in '52, "it hurts too much to laugh and I'm too old to cry." 

And that's where we are here, at the end of the American empire.  August 2010. 

After the jump - the rest of the tendown.

1. 67-51  
44 games left in the season.  We're up a half game in the Wild Card.  Pecota now gives us a 67% chance to make the playoffs, and for the first time all year makes us even with the Padres to win the West. 

Three quarters of the baseball season gone.  Here are the projections:

AL East - Yanks
Central - Twins
West - Rangers
WC - Rays

Which is exactly how I had it called at the halfway point.

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

Much closer here - the central, west, and WC should go down to the last week - meaning SFG could win the west or wind up on the outside. 

Here are the current numbers for the top Giants in 2010:

1B Huff (WAR 5, WARP3 6.6)
CF Torres (3.8, 6.6)
P Cain (3.4, 4.1)
Cl Wilson (2.3, 3.8)
C Posey (1.6, 3.2)
P Lincecum (2.9, 3.1)
P Zito (3, 3)
SS Uribe (1.6, 2.6)
P Sanchez (1.7, 2.5)
P Romo (1.5, 2.3)
RF Burrell (1.6, 2)

Our pythag is currently 20 games over .500 - a 90 win season looks like a certainty; it would be our best year since '03 and a top ten season in SFG history.  Huff is still on track to pass Sandoval's '09 to have the best season for any SFG position player since Bonds in '04.  Both Huff and Torres have combined WAR/WARP scores over 10 - there haven't been two SFG position players that good in the same season since we won the pennant in '02.   None of the SFG pitchers is having a season as good as Lincecum or Cain in either '09 or '08; but there are lots of above average years from the arms; Zito's having his best year for SFG and Wilson's having the best season for a Giants closer since Nen in '02. 

We finish the Padres series today.  Then east coast next week - 3 in Philly, 3 in St Louis.  If a week from now we still have the WC lead when I blowoff (er...write..) Tendown 40, I'm going to think it actually might happen.

2. I Do The Writing.

This week, I finished my look at the full history of the San Francisco Giants.  Here are, just based on their SFG performance, the top 20 San Francisco Giants of all time by a combination of WARP3 and WAR:

1. Willie Mays
2. Barry Bonds
3. Juan Marichal
4. Willie McCovey
5. Will Clark
6. Gaylord Perry
7. Bobby Bonds
8. Jeff Kent
9. Matt Williams
10. Robby Thompson
11. Orlando Cepeda
12. Jim Barr
13. Jack Clark
14. Chris Speier
15. Gary Lavelle
16. Jim Ray Hart
17. Darrell Evans
18. Kevin Mitchell
19. Matt Cain
20. Rich Aurilia

3. At the 3 Qtr Mark

40 some odd games left in the season - by WARP3, here are the best players in MLB for 2010.

MVP/Cy - Adam Wainwright

C McCann
1B Huff
2B Prado
SS Furcal
3B Rolen
OF Holliday
OF Torres
OF Pagan
P Wainwright

MVP - Josh Hamilton
Cy - Felix Hernandez

C Mauer
1B Cabrera
2B Cano
SS Ramirez
3B Longoria
OF Hamilton
OF Crawford
OF Swisher
P Hernandez

I'm still looking up in all 3 fantasy leagues.  2nd in the Mixed League; 3rd in the NL; 4th in the AL.  Could be that my schedule (I'm now teaching 10 courses) that is effectively turning Tendown into not much more than links has also impacted my fantasy baseball success.  That is where I draw the line!

4. I still Do the Writing!
Summer Slam is tonight - I wrote my customary preview this week.  There are jokes.  Additionally, I posted Counterfactual Summer Slam 2009 a couple of weeks ago in the other place.  Here are the top 10 matches in Summer Slam history:

Top 10 Summer Slam Matches of All Time

1. Bret d. Owen (94) 32 min 4 3/4 stars
2. DBS d. Bret (92) 25:30 min. 4 3/4 stars
3. Edge/Christian d. Hardys/Dudleys (00) 15 min. 4 1/2 stars
4. HBK d. Razor (95) 25 min 4 1/2 stars
5. Punk d. Jeff (09) 19:30 min 4 1/4 stars
6. Bret Hart d. Mr. Perfect (91) 18 min 4 1/4 stars
7. Undertaker d. Edge (08) 26:30 4 stars
8. Brainbusters d. Hart Foundation (89) 16:30 4 stars
9. Benoit v. Jericho (00) 13 min 4 stars
10. Shawn Michaels d. Vader (96) 29 min 4 stars

I cleared through a wave of wrestling this week - including my first post WWE Danielson match, and the best show I've seen all year (NOAH PPV from July). Here are the 4 star matches I saw this week:

-Marufuji v. Kanemaru 4 ½ (july)
-Yoshino/Doi/Hulk v. Quackenbush/Jigsaw/Hallowicked (july, Chikara) 4 ½
-Suguira v. Taniguchi (July NOAH) 4 1/2
-Kensuke v. Go (July Noah) 4 ½
-Suguira v. Takayama (July NOAH) 4 ½
-Sawa/Ishikawa v. Usuda/Walter (Feb Battlearts) 4 ¼
-Makabe v Nakamura (July NJ) 4 ¼
-Kenta/Akiyama v Yuji/Taguchi (July Noah) 4 stars
-Yuji v. Go (NJ August) 4 stars
-Machine Guns v. Beer Money (TNA Impact - August) 4 stars

Very productive week - the Match of the Year list gets longer.

5. Garry Called Me Up and Asked if I Could Write This Blog Post
Terrific new piece about Garry Shandling, from GQ.

6. Turn on HBO, Listen to a Black Comic, and All you Hear is...
Dr. Laura freaked out a little bit this week.

7. My Body is a Woman.  Woman.  Woman.

The best show you've never heard of is Louie on FX.  Were I to do a top 20 list of stand up comics of all time, Louie CK would be in the upper half; he's never really found a vehicle that captured his funny as well as has his current sitcom.  It fits in perfectly with Sunny in Philadelphia and the League as FX becomes to comedy what AMC is to drama. 

8. The Wheelchair Kentucky Derby
The Hambletonian was a week ago. 

Have you ever looked at harness racing and thought it was a sport for disabled horses?  Like Eight Belles breaks down at the Kentucky Derby and then comes back a few years later to win the Little Brown Jug?

9. F*** The Man Who Lives In the Sky
Invention of Lying is flawed; it creates a world where Ricky Gervais is viewed as a prophet and then somehow gets to live a seemingly normal life as the film closes.  But it's worth watching just as a mainstream, studio comedy which assumes as its premise that there is no god - and further explains religion in the way that, frankly, I've always thought is true at bottom - death is too hard to face without some type of escape hatch.  As a critique of religion, it was more bold than we usually allow to penetrate the mainstream.  I admire the balls on Gervais, who, you know, is trying to have a career in the same world as Guy Fieri.

And so - in the film - Ricky Gervais who plays Mark, the only man in the history of the world capable of lying - creates The Man in the Sky to comfort his dying mother - and later - on 2 Pizza Hut boxes, he writes the Ten Commandments.  Here is that scene:

                                 Number one: there is a man in the sky who controls everything.

                                 Number two: ...

                                                                         Man 1
                                                [interrupts]: what does he looks like?

                                        tall, big hands for making stuff, good head of hair.

                                                                        Man 2:
                                                                 what ethnicity?

                                      he is a new ethnicity, he is a mixture of all our ethnicities.

                                                                     Man 3:
                                                  does he live in the clouds?


                                                                      Man 1:
                                                             can we see him?

                                            no, he is high in the clouds, too high to see him.

                                                                   Man 3:
                                                             so he lives in space.

                                                             no, not that high.

                                                                  Man 2:
                                                    so he is in the thermosphere?

 sorry people, we have a lot to get through here. Man lives in the sky, you can't see him, controls everything ...

Number two: when you die, you don't disappear into an eternity of nothingness. Instead, you go to a really great place.

Number three: in that place, everyone will get a mansion. (the crowd cheers).

                                                                Man 4:
                                                    what kind of mansion?

                                           the best mansion you can think of.

                                                              Man 5:
                                    damn!, I was thinking of a horrible mansion.

no, no, it is the best mansion ever. Not the one you are thinking of right now, but whatever the best mansion that you like, that is the one you gonna get.

Number four: when you die, all the people you know will be there.

                                                             Man 6:
                                      will they have their own mansions?

                                          yes, everyone gets a mansion.

                                                           Man 6:
                                 what if I want them to live in my mansion?

                          yes, they leave their mansion come to live at your mansion.

                                                            Man 6:
                                         what happens to their mansion?

                                 I don't know. It goes back to the market.

Number five: when you die, there will be free ice cream, for everyone, all day, and all night. Whatever flavor you can think of.

                                                        Woman 1:
                                                 even bad flavors?

                               why would you think of bad flavors?

                                                       Woman 1:
                                  you said every flavor I can think of.

                                                            Man 7:
                                                oh no, I thought of ...

                                                           Woman 2:
                                  I just thought of chocolate with diarrhea.

                   there are so many other ice creams ... what is the matter with you people?

Number six: if you do bad things, you don't get to go to this great place when you die.

                                                                         Man 8:
                                                                where do you go?

                                            a terrible place, the worst place imaginable.

                                                                    Woman 3:
                                                    what constitutes a bad thing?

awful crimes, rape, murder, things like that.

Man 8:
 is punching someone bad?


Man 8:
what if they are trying to hurt you?

then it is fine.

Woman 3:
 is cursing bad?


Woman 4:
what about being late for work?

no, that's fine, you may lose your job if your boss doesn't like it, but it won't affect where you go after you die.

Woman 5:
what if you forget to feed your dog?

well if the dog dies it is bad ... just don' t do it on purpose. Don't buy a dog just to starve it ...

Man 9:
 if I do just one thing, do I go to the bad place?

 [pauses to think for a moment] no, you get three chances, three bad things, and you are out.

Man 9:
 like baseball [crowd agrees]

yes, anything else?

[everybody in the crowd raises his/her hand]

 please, can we just move on?

No! We have to know everything that is bad!

Man 1:
 is it bad to wear pants?

[Sign: "Two Hours Later"]

 no, there is no hair style that can put you in the bad place. We've been through this ... The main ones are things like hurting people physically, on purpose, taking their stuff, doing things to people they don't want done. Murdering people, on purpose.

Number nine: the man in the sky who controls everything, decides who goes to the good place and who goes to the bad place. He also decides who lives and who dies.

Man 4:
 does he cause natural disasters?


Woman 6:
 did he cause my mom to get cancer?


Woman 7:
did he cause that thing on my car last week?


Anna [Mark's friend]:
did he kill my dad with a heart attack?


[the crowd disagrees and murmurs]

Man 10:
I say fuck the man who lives in the sky!

Man 5:
 that guy is evil!

Man 6:
why did he do all those bad things to us? Why did he do this to our faces?

Woman 2:
we have to stop that evil bastard before he kills us all [crowd: Yeah!]

wait, wait, listen. The man who lives in the sky and controls everything, is also responsible for the good things
that happens.

Man 11:
did he save my life in that fishing trip when the boat capsized?


Man 11:
did he capsize the boat?


Woman 1:
he killed my grandmother and left me those millions of dollars?

you bet yes.

Woman 6:
 so, he is the one who cured my mom's cancer.

Man 7:
so, he is kind of a good guy, but he is kind of a prick, too.

 right, but check this out,

Number ten: even if the man in the sky does bad things to you, he may offset that by giving you an eternity of good things after you die.

Woman 4:
 as long as he does not do more bad stuff to us.


Woman 5:
so it is kind of a test?

 yes, so, that is everything I know.

[crowd applauds]

Woman 6:
how do you know these things?

 because the man in the sky told me.

Woman 6:
but how do we find about it now, millions of years in our existence?

 he forgot. See all the stuff he does. Thank you!

10. Health Care for America Now
What will the dreaded Obamacare mean for you.  Find out here.

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

Your pal,



1 comment

Blog said...

End of the American empire? More than that, it's the effect of technology on democracy.

In the 18th century, it was very difficult to make one's opinion heard by a great number of people. So the people involved in democracy had to be very smart and very dedicated. Those who were not so smart or not so dedicated were marginalized. And so democracy worked out well.

With the advent of radio, television, and cheap magazines, it became easier for dumb and dedicated people to get their message out to the masses. Finally, with the crown jewel of the internet, even dumb and lazy people have a say. Now, everyone in America who cares to make their opinions known can do so. And you've already outlined the results.

Technology is not going to go backwards, so the future will belong to the nations that use that technology to keep the smart, dedicated people in power and keep the dumb, lazy people out.

On a totally unrelated note, China has passed Japan to become the second largest economy in the world. Conservative estimates say they will pass the United States by 2030.

But on a happier note, you must have been pleased with the surprise member of Team WWE.

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