1st and Five - The Weekly Tendown: August 29-Sept 4 2010 Special Halfdown Edition.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Dear Internet:

As anyone in my profession confronts every day, we're the United States of Amnesia. 

So, a little historical perspective, on this Labor Day Tendown, is valuable.

Here's Tendown 42.

First: Situational Ethics

How do we solve ethical dilemmas?  Is it moral to steal food when you can't otherwise afford to feed your family?  Is it moral to murder one innocent to save the lives of thousands?  What are our obligations to those who cannot care for themselves? What space in the moral community should be awarded animals and the unborn?

To these questions, we now add the following - what should Sammi's roommates have told her about Ronnie's creeping at the club before coming home to crawl into her bed?

(That's a Jersey Shore reference for those unitatiated.  It's okay if you're not conversant in the Gym/Tan/Laundry subculture; you'll still be able to follow the arguments; and for those of you who think this insufficiently worthy of scholarship, consider that my alternate discussion was going to be if Kayleigh on the Bad Girls Club had an ethical responsibility to aid her roommates in their fight on the beach.)

Sammi and Ronnie have an on again/off again relationship; they appear, in a Ross/Rachel way to be "on a break" as Season 2 begins (this raises a tangential ethical issue - the morality of looking to temporarily break up with someone in the hopes of hooking up with some hot, random girl and then returning to your previous relationship.  A couple of decades ago, this struck me as a strategy to consider.  It is a mistake.)  The gang gets their South Beach clubbing on; Ronnie and Sammi squabble (which has probably been on the rundown of each Jersey Shore ep from both seasons) Sammi goes home early, and after she leaves Ronnie makes out with as many women of questionable virtue as he can get his mitts on. 

Ronnie goes back home and gets in bed with Sammi.  The next epsiode (possibly the next night) it happens again.

All of their roommates either witness or become aware of this behavior. 

Should they tell Sammi?

Here is where the great debate of the last five hundred years of western civilization comes into play - is morality properly based on absolute principles (the Immanuel Kant argument) or is right and wrong better seen as based on circumstance (the Jeremy Bentham argument)?

Kant's great unified theory of everything (his WARP3, for my sabermetric peeps) was the categorical imperative; that one should behave as if his behavior should be a universal law.  So - why is it immoral to lie; it's immoral to lie because you're of no greater moral importance than I am; and if you take for yourself the ability to determine which lies are justified under the circumstance - then I must also be given the same opportunity, and not just me, but everyone - and a world where everyone can decide for himself when lying is moral is a world where, pretty quickly, lying about virtually everything virtually all the time becomes moral. 

So - don't lie.  Sure, it means sometimes, grandma, a living saint of a woman, makes you a cherry pie and says, "do you like my cherry pie, Tommy?" and you're stuck telling the truth, "No, Nana, it's a pretty terrible pie - and my name is Janet" but nonetheless, you're stuck.  If you get to determine when a lie is for the greater good - then so does everyone else - and we all slip down that slope awfully quickly.

Sammi goes to the roommates and asks if they know anything.  They all deny it. 

Immanuel Kant shakes his fist at the Jersey Shore kids - tell the truthTell the truth!  But we'll compromise our friendship with Ronnie, they tell you in between fist pumps.  Kant cuts them off.  No exceptionsMorality is categorical.  You are duty bound to tell the truth.  And Ronnie's sort of a sleazeball, right?  Motorboating that cocktail waitress.  Tell the truth!

Jeremy Bentham slowly raises his hand.  Utilitarianism is based on creating the greatest maximum happiness and that is it.  Wendy drunkenly kills Tony in a hit and run.  Is it moral to turn herself in?  Before you reflexively say yes, Bentham asks you to consider the circumstances.  Wendy's got children - Wendy's got a job where dozens, maybe hundreds of people depend on her.  Wendy going to prison would negatively ripple through the lives of thousands.  Tony has no one.  Heck, Tony's sort of a jerk.  Tony's a criminal of some type; Tony's a burglar.  Maybe Tony was on his way to do him some burgling.  Get his burgle on.  Go Tony!  Go Tony!  You're a burgler!  It's your birthday!  And Wendy has no drinking problem, this was an isolated incident, unlikely to be repeated.

Bentham says - let's look at the world that actually exists and make it the best place we can - here Wendy sits with an ethical dilemma - to turn herself in or not.  Which decision creates more happiness - in a "choose your own adventure" sort of a way - which choice leaves the world in a better place?

Keep your mouth shut, Wendy.  Bentham says.  Don't listen to Kant.  Morality isn't based on these absolute principles that do not change regardless of circumstance - morality is based on taking each individual situation on its own and making the best out of it.  Keep your mouth shut.

And when it comes to the Jersey Shore kids - maybe the same advice applies.  Sammi's unhappy if she knows the truth.  Ronnie's definitely unhappy if he is exposed.  The house then becomes uncomfortable, really for the remainder of their summer - it is a truth that benefits Sammi and literally no one else.

And this is where it's time to recognize that this is a television show, the entertainment value of which, in Season 2, has been watching Ronnie make out with two girls at the same time at the club and then stumble back into Sammi's bed a couple hours later.  If the roommates tell Sammi - then the millions of people enjoying Ronnie's audacious flaunting of all propriety are deprived of that happiness.  Sure - tell her eventually, for the entertainment value of the conflict - but there's a good month left to be mined from Ronnie's deception.

It's better to lie.  Not always, but sometimes.  Use your head.  That's Bentham's response.

What winds up happening of course (like you don't know - come on!) is JWoww and Snooki write an anonymous letter to Sammi (Ronnie immediately suspects them, after all, there are only so many roommates from which to choose - but decides against it because the letter uses the word "wisely" - and Ronnie notes that "Snooki doesn't use that type of vocabulary."  A laugh line not as funny as Brandi's "I Been Sleep!" from the aforementioned Bad Girls Club, but funny nonetheless).  And that opens up additional lines of philosophic inquiry - Sammi feels betrayed that "her girls" did not immediately reveal Ronnie's actions - but at no point is particularly critical of her male roommates for keeping Ronnie's secret - moreover, that implicit understanding - that the women in the house were the only ones who had the moral dilemma - that it would obviously be wrong for the male roommates to expose Ronnie, ran throughout the house to the point where it went outside of discussion.  The Situation is, pretty unquestionably, a closer friend to Sammi than is he to Ronnie, but there seemingly was never a question that he, or any of the other men, would violate the "Bro's before Ho's" ethos that ran through the house.  Further, when he does feel free to talk is after the letter is written - Ronnie, of course, denies the contents of the letter, saying he never hooked up with anyone - but the Situation sort of casually confirms it in a conversation with Sammi - and when Sammi says something to the effect of "wait - you're saying he was hooking up - 'cause he says he wasn't" - the Situation defers to the letter, "hey, it's in the letter - I'm just saying what the letter says" - as if having it written down gave an evidentiary value - what would have been a rumor if whispered throughout the house, a rumor on which the men would not have been free to comment - became a fact once it was made part of a text, "hey, it's in a letter - it's on the page - so there you go".    

Ethics are everywhere.  Just look.  And now I should be able to write off my U-Verse package on my tax return next year.  Sorry, Immanuel Kant.

After the jump - the rest of Tendown 42!  A special halfdown edition.

1. 76-61.  One back.  25 left. 

The Padres have lost ten straight.  The last team that lost ten straight but still made the playoffs was the '82 Braves.

Saturday night, down 4-0 and with only one hit headed to the 7th, your San Francisco Giants hit 4 homers to beat the Dodgers 5-4, and then we finished them off Sunday night with a 3-0 shutout that felt over from the opening pitch.

76-61.  25 left.  1 back in the West.  2 in the Wild Card.  Next weekend is 4 in San Diego for an impossibly big series. 

Here's the forecast:

AL East - NYY
Central - Twins
West - Rangers
WC - Tampa

This is what I said at the halfway point.  The AL has been over for awhile. 

NL East - Braves
Central - Reds
West - SFG
WC - Phillies

St Louis has fallen as hard as has San Diego and is almost out of the race; the Phils and Braves are neck and neck, and right now both look stronger than the West loser to be the WC.  We look stronger than the Padres.  Who I'd prefer to play in October is Cincinnati, certainly ahead of Philadelphia - fellow Giants fans should be rooting against the Phillies down the stretch.

Here's the rest of the schedule: 

Labor Day-Wednesday, we're in Phoenix against the Snakes.

Thursday-Sunday - in San Diego.  By Tendown 43 we'll have fewer than 20 remaining.

Travel day on Monday.

Tuesday the 14th - Thursday, back home for LA.  Wednesday night we're the ESPN game.

Friday-Sunday - Milwaukee comes in.  Give up Milwaukee.  Play hard for 3 innings and think about your coming vacation.

Travel day on Monday the 20th, which is the day my 5 online courses end.

Tue-Thur in Chicago.  Give up Chicago.  Think about the Bears.  Ditka and Steve McMichael and whatnot.

Fri-Sun in Colorado.  My fellow Giant fans know this is the trip we don't want to make.  My 40th birthday is this weekend.  My quarter ends that last day in Chicago, I won't start preparing for the next quarter until Monday, so this is my first weekend where I don't spend most of it working or moving since 2009.

Travel day Monday the 27th.

Tue-Thur home against the Snakes.

Fri-Sun, first weekend in October - home against the Padres for the chips.

We have 76 wins right now.  We go 14-11, win 90 games and make the playoffs.

2. Where We Fit Historically:
I did a whole series of posts discussing the history of the SFG that you can get to here. Here's where the current season stands.  WARP is first, WAR second

C Posey 3.1/2
1B Huff  6.3/4.9
2B Sanchez 1.6/.6
SS Uribe 2.1/1.5
3B Sandoval 1.2/.1
OF Torres 5.7/4.1
OF Burrell 1.8/1.9
P Cain 4.5/3.7
P Lincecum 3.3/2.8
P Sanchez 2.9/2.8
P Zito 2.1/1.7
P Bumgarner 1.2/1.1
P Romo 2/1.3
P Casilla 1.9/1
Cl Wilson 4.3/2.9

Molina's 2008 is the best season for any Giants catcher since Brenly's back-to-back in '86-7, Posey could still catch him but it seems unlikely.  Huff is still on track to pass Sandoval's '09 and have the best season for a Giants position player since '04, but his slump makes it close.  Torres has nudged ahead of Bonds's '07 and '06 for the best season for any SFG OF since '04, and he's locked into the best season for a Giants CF since Butler in '90.  None of the starters are having seasons as good as Lincecum's or Cain's in either of the last two years.  Wilson's locked into the best season for a closer since Nen in '02, and might slip past him for the best since Nen's '00. 

Our pythag is 76-61; this is going to be our best season since '03, the last year we made the playoffs; if we get to a 90 win pythag season, that would be our 14th.  We sort of look like a team that loses in the first round of the playoffs. 

3. Your Last Update - The Top 2010 by WARP3

I do this periodically; here's the current top performances for this season.

NL MVP/Cy - Adam Wainwright

C B. McCann
1B A. Pujols
2B M. Prado
SS R Furcal
3B D. Wright
OF M. Holliday
OF A. Torres
OF A. Pagan
P A. Wainwright

AL MVP - Josh Hamilton
Cy - Felix Hernandez

C J. Mauer
1B M. Cabrera
2B R. Cano
SS A. Ramirez
3B E. Longoria
OF J. Hamilton
OF C. Crawford
OF J. Bautista
P F. Hernandez

I'm in second in my AL fantasy league.  Second in my mixed league.  4th in the NL League

4. Fantasy Football Draft Number One
I'm in two fantasy football leagues.  One draft down.  12 team.  $ League. 

QB D. McNabb
      M. Cassel

-In my second mock, Brady fell to my 3rd round spot, and had that happened here, I would have taken him - but failing that, this was exactly my target - I got McNabb in the 9th, after everyone else had taken a QB and after the first backup (Palmer) had gone.  This is my chosen strategy for the season; I passed it along to Kirk Hiner and he drafted the same QB tandem.  Why you pair Cassel with McNabb is the strength of Cassel's matchup in McNabb's bye week.  I got Cassel in the 11th, in which I could have chosen Matt Ryan instead, and I considered it.

RB R. Mendenhall
      J. Charles
      J. Stewart
      B. Jacobs
     L. Washington

-It's a flex league, so I'll play 3 backs every week, always starting Mendenhall and playing matchups with the next 3.  I picked 6th overall, which took me out of the top 4 backs - and having done 2 mocks, it was clear to me there is RB value this year - so for the first time ever, I took a WR in ther first round.  My hope was Mendenhall would fall to the second, but in neither mock did he make it and I wound up taking Charles/Forte in 2nd and 3rd in both mocks.  This is a better result.  My target backs then were Beanie Wells and Ricky Williams, but I made another choice which I'll discuss momentarily, that required me to downgrade slightly and take Stewart/Jacobs.  I've taken Washington as my fifth back in both mocks and suggested Kirk do the same; I like him a lot as a value pick where I got him (14th round).  It's a 14 roster spot league, which means I don't have backups at TE/D/K, that requires I have an add/drop spot - it will either be Washington or either of my backup WR, depending on who I think I can sneak through each week. 

WR Andre Johnson
       Dwayne Bowe
       Jeremy Maclin
       Devin Hester

-I took Johnson first overall, despite having Moss ranked a tick higher.  In my second draft, if I take the WR first round strategy, I'll go Moss.  In both mocks I got Hines Ward as my second WR, but for the same reason that my 3rd and 4th RBs slid to my second choice - I wound up with Bowe.  My target 3rd and 4th receivers are Santana Moss/Johnny Knox - but I had to grab my defense a round earlier than I wanted, and wound up with my second tier choices. 

TE Gates
Def Ravens
K Gostkowski

-I never take a high dollar TE, but I really got hit hard in both mocks - and on my board it was clear that the only TE whose perceived value was equivalent to my value were Gates, at the top of the draft - and then Zach Miller/Owen Daniels, at about round ten.  So - I went into the mocks looking for Daniels and Miller late, and couldn't get either of them.

In the 4th then, I bit down and took Gates. 

That meant I couldn't get Forte/Williams/Ward - as I was a round late now on all of them - but I think it's worth the upgrade from Heath Miller to Antonio Gates.  I think.  I've never paid for a TE before. 

I do pay for defense - there are a lot of points available for defenses in these leagues, and my working plan was to get Baltimore in the 9th - but the defenses started to go in the 7th, and I'm unwilling to miss out on Baltimore so I took them in the 8th - my preferred kicker is Akers, I got Gostkowski in the 12th; I knew Washington would still be available with the last pick, and there were enough receivers of similar quality that I was able to take Hester in the 13th.

Next draft is Wednesday; I sort of like this strategy, but if I can get a top 4 back in round one, I'll take him and wind up going RB/RB/RB and then scrambling for receivers. 

5. I Tell the Stories
I made a ton of posts last week.  The Athlete of the Month for August is here.. My college football picks for Week one were here. My preseason top 25 is here. And Part One of my list of the Top 100 players in professional football history is here.

Whew.  Teaching ten courses, almost certainly a record, and blogging this extent - what more could you possibly want?

I did see another 4 1/2 star wrestling match.  It was Akiyama/Suguira from NOAH in August.  I've got 21 matches from 2010 at 4 1/2 stars plus, my Match of the Year post is here.

6. And One More
Most Republicans think Obama wants worldwide Islamic law.  Most.  As in, more than half.


That's all for this time.  I'll be back next time.  If there is a next time...

Your pal,


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