My Friend Beevo

Sunday, February 27, 2011

I hesitated this morning when I swung my legs over the side of the bed; that's how it works; I pause and look down to the floor every time I get out of bed, because my friend Beevo's favorite spot in the house is about three-quarters buried underneath my side.  I'm told by the person who would know that Beevo's always liked to be partially under the bed, that as a puppy, you could find him similarly positioned.

Beevo wasn't there this morning.

Beevo was the man of my house, which I appreciated, as someone had to be. He approached the job of running this place with a demeanor somewhere between Mr. Belvedere and a prison warden.  I used to say that Beevo sent us all a daily email blast, with a timeline specifying all of our required duties for that day.  I took he and Travis out each morning at 8:30 and then fed them; I do work with my online courses early every day, and if 8:30 passed and I was still busy, Beevo would nudge his way into my office and stand next to me.  If I didn't immediately make the move to put on my shoes, he'd gently put his paw on my leg.

                                 Seriously.  It's time to go.  I'm less asking than am I not asking.

We'd end each day with Beevo's spot check of the house.  You do this, I do this - we make sure everything is locked and then we go to bed.

Beevo was more thorough.

Fridge is still there.  Check.  We still have a living room?  Check.  Toilet?  Did the toilet get away?  No.  Check.  

More importantly, he'd check to see the other animals (one dog, three cats) were where they were supposed to be.  Always, always - the other animals needed to be where they were supposed to be.  Their daily schedules were a little more severe than mine.

Hey - you got time to lean, you got time to clean.  Pick up a broom.  Let's go.  These kids today.

But nighttime was more of a preventive exercise.

Travis - get in your bed.  Summer - stay off the counter.  That other cat - get back in your room.  Ed...don't make any sudden movements.

If Beevo is the hero of the fictionalized version of our household, Ed's the antagonist, an old, large, black cat who occasionally rains down thunderous paws upon the unsuspecting.  Ed's your mildly racist grandfather who will whack the back of your legs with his walking stick if you block his view of an All in the Family rerun.

And Ed, as Beevo's first ever email to me would have read, is the one who must be contained. 

Every 5 1/2 hours, you'd see some approximation of the following scene at my house.

Ed attacks one of the other cats.  Beevo backs Ed down.
Ed howls for food.  Beevo backs Ed down.     
Someone knocks on the door.  Beevo backs Ed down.
The vacuum cleaner gets turned on.  Beevo backs Ed down.

Granted, not all of those occurrences automatically present a causal nexus to Ed, but upon my pointing that out to Beevo, I received the following message:

That's sweet.  Look, you're new here.  So I'll cut you a break. Just go back to watching the Real Housewives and let the men hash this out.  

I never actually heard Beevo recite Nicholson's "you can't handle the truth" testimony from A Few Good Men, but had Ed mysteriously not turned up for breakfast one morning after a loud thunderstorm, there wouldn't be too much mystery about who called for the code red.  That reminds me - once my lady type friend, who spent almost her entire adult life with Beevo and Sadie, took him to pick up a pizza, leaving Beevo in the car when she ran inside.  It wasn't quite ready, and, as was recounted to me in complete seriousness, the initial thought was she needed to call Beevo to let him know she'd be just a minute inside waiting for the pizza.

I'm telling you - the dog was damn serious about keeping a tight schedule.

Beevo was a good boy.

My lady type friend and I have been together three years.  In that time, we've lost two dogs and a parent.  We heal only to be shattered again.

Beevo came home from an overnight hospital stay this week, and not long after crawled about three quarters underneath my side of the bed and never got back up.

I'm mad at him.  Someone's got to keep us all on task and keep Ed in his place.  No one around here is quite sure how to be.

Too much death.  It's been a hard, hard stretch.

2011 Academy Awards Picks

Friday, February 25, 2011

I gave you the Boardwalk Empire/Steve Buscemi upsets at the Golden Globes.

I gave you the two Lady Antebellum upsets at the Grammys.

Unfortunately, I'm taking chalk in the top 6 awards; so I don't see the type of investment opportunities that (hopefully) you wisely took advantage of in those two previous shows.

Here are my Oscar picks.

Picture: King's Speech
-I'd prefer Social Network to win, but the guild awards have a strong predictive value, and you have to pick that it goes this way.

Actor - Colin Firth
-not a contest

Actress - Natalie Portman
-there's Bening sentiment, but it's not a likely outcome

Director - David Fincher
-51/49 over Hooper; this is the first award of the list on which you could invest, but I don't feel any more strongly about the outcome than the price you'd pay to make the investment.

Supporting - Christian Bale, Melissa Leo
-There's Rush sentiment, but Bale's likelihood is somewhere between Firth (mortal lock) and Portman.  Sup.Actress is the one likely to blow up your pool, Leo beat Steinfeld in Globes and SAG, so you have to take her under any predictive model, but if I get any of these top 6 wrong, this will be the one and they'll give it to the little girl.

Screenplay/Screenplay: Social Network, King's Speech
-no chance it doesn't go this way.

Animated Feature: Toy Story 3
Foreign: In a Better World
Documentary: Inside Job

I feel pretty good about all of this; TS3 is a lock; there's a three way race for foreign, but the Danish film has the best predictive model - and while my favorite movie last year was Exit Through the Gift Shop, Inside Job is a pretty solid pick.

Score: King's Speech
Song: We Belong Together

I'm taking an upset in Score, where Trent Reznor is favored for Social Network.

Art Direction: Inception

And I'm taking an upset there, where Alice In Wonderland is viewed more favorably.

Cinematography: True Grit
Costume: Alice in Wonderland
Makeup: The Wolfman
Sound Editing/Mixing: Inception, Inception
Visual Effects: Inception
Film Editing: Social Network
Doc Short: Strangers No More
Animated Short: Day&Night
Live Actions Short: Wish 143

2011 Best Professional Wrestling Matches of the Year/10 Best WWE Matches for 2011

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Here's my record of every 4 1/2 star match for 2011; I'll update it as the year goes on.  This is a particularly curious list as I haven't seen a 2011 wrestling match yet, outside of WWE/TNA.  But - I follow Meltzer's calendar, and consider 2011 to be December of 2010-November 2011, which made more sense back when there was still a time lag caused by anything other than a jammed schedule. Edit - it's now early May, and I'm almost all the way through March's matches.

With that - we've already had a five star match this year.  Which, since there was only one in 2010, is sort of a thing.

It's June - I just saw Kotaro v. Nakajima from March.  It's over. 

It's December, I'm cleaning out my hard drive.  Still have many of the big matches from the past couple of months to watch.  I'm now at 12 matches left to watch, about a week and a half remaining in the year.  

It's New Years Eve.  I've got 3 matches left to watch.  Note, that doesn't include December puro or indies, as they will carry over to 2012.  With just 3 matches, 3 big matches left - here are the very best wrestling matches of 2011.  Now I'm down to 2. Now I've seen them all, when I get a chance they'll go in some type of order.

Here are the best wrestling matches of 2011.

Sugiura v. Morishima (Dec NOAH 5)
Morishima/Taniguchi v. Sugiura/Sano (Dec Noah 4 1/2)
Kenta v. Marufuji (Dec Noah 4 1/2)
Generico/London v. Kings of Wrestling (Dec PWG 4 1/2)
Strong v. Richards (Dec ROH 4 1/2)
Yoshino v. Doi (Dec DG 4 1/2)
Richards v. Hero (Jan ROH 4 1/2)
Yamato v. Yoshino (Jan DGUSA 4 1/2)
Devitt v. Ibushi (Jan NJ 4 1/2)
Kotaro v. Edwards (Jan Noah 4 1/2)
Edwards v. Daniels (Feb ROH 4 1/2)
Go v. Miyahara (Feb Kensuke Office 4 1/2)
Pac v. Tozawa (Mar DGUSA 4 1/2)
Yuji v. Tanaka (Mar Zero1 4 3/4)
Richards v. Daniels (Mar ROH 4 3/4)
Edwards v. Strong (Mar ROH 4 1/2)
Minoru v. Kondo (March AJ 4 3/4)
Nakajima v. Kotaro (March NOAH 5)
Kotaro v. Ishimori (March NOAH 4 3/4)
Sekimoto v. Hero (WXW April 4 1/2)
Yuji v. Suwama (AJ April 4 1/2)
Yuji v. Tanahashi (NJ April 4 1/2)
Richards v. Strong (April ROH 4 3/4)
Bucks v. Generico/Ricochet (April PWG 4 3/4)
Wolves v. Haas/Benjamin (Apr ROH 4 3/4)
Edwards v. Daniels (Apr ROH 4 1/2)
Devitt/Taguchi v. Richards/Romero (May NJ 4 1/2)
Steen/Tozawa v. Generico/Ricochet (May PWG 4 1/2)
Kondo v. Kai (AJ June 4 1/2)
Yuji v. Suwama (AJ June 4 3/4)
Tanahashi v. Goto (NJ June 4 1/2)
Ibushi v. Taguchi (NJ June 4 1/2)
Davey v. Edwards (ROH June 4 3/4)
Punk v. Cena (WWE July 4 1/2)
Go v. Sugiura (NOAH July 5)
Kenta/Kanemaru v. Kotaro/Aoki (NOAH July 4 1/2)
Kenta/Kanemaru v. Kotaro/Aoki (NOAH Aug 4 3/4)
Go v. Akiyama (NOAH Aug 4 3/4)
Tanaka v. Sekimoto (Zero One Aug 4 1/2)
Go v. Takayama (NOAH Sept 4 1/2)
Kotaro v. Nakajima (NOAH Sept 4 3/4)
Edwards v. Strong (ROH Sept 4 1/2)
Young Bucks v. Futureshock (PWG Oct 4 1/2)
Steen v. Generico (PWG Oct 4 1/2)
Kenta/Kanemaru v. Kotaro/Aoki (NOAH Oct 4 1/2)
Kenta v. Sugiura (NOAH Oct 4 1/2)
Tanahashi v. Naito (NJ Oct 4 1/2)
Akiyama v. Suwama (AJ Oct 4 3/4)

And, just for fun, here are the 10 best WWE matches of 2011; I've seen every relevant WWE match from 2011.

1.CM Punk v. John Cena 4 1/2 (July-Money in the Bank)
2.Christian v. Randy Orton 4 1/4 (SummerSlam)
3.Smackdown Elimination Chamber Match 4 1/4 (Feb-Elimination Chamber)
4.CM Punk v. Randy Orton 4 (May-Extreme Rules)
5.Undertaker v. HHH 4 (Wrestlemania XXVII)
6.Christian v. Alberto del Rio 4 (May-Extreme Rules)
7.CM Punk v. Rey Mysterio 4 (June-Capitol Punishment)
8.Smackdown Money in the Bank Match 4 (July-Money in the Bank)
9.CM Punk v. John Cena 4 (SummerSlam)
10.CM Punk v. Alberto del Rio/Miz (TLC - December) 3 3/4

The 200 Greatest Major League Baseball Players Ever 2011 Ed. #70-61

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The previous ten is here. 

I've got two rosters I've been keeping a running total of as I reveal this list of the 200 greatest careers in baseball history; one, a lineup right from this list - based on career value; the second, more of a subjective/peak list.

Career value:
C Carter (Berra)
1B Mize (Thome)
2B Grich (Whitaker)
SS Appling (Yount)
3B Rolen (Santo)
LF Delahanty (Raines)
CF Edmonds (Hamilton)
RF Jackson (Waner)
RHP Mussina (Clarkson, Martinez, Drysdale, Rivera, Smoltz, Eckersley, )
LHP Hubbell (Newhouser)

C Berra (Piazza)
1B Mize (McGwire)
2B Robinson (Grich)
SS Banks (Jeter)
3B Rolen (Santo)
LF Jackson (Delahanty)
CF Hamilton (Snider)
RF Flick (Sheffield)
RHP Rivera (Martinez, Walsh, Feller, Clarkson, Marichal, Halladay, )
LHP Hubbell (Newhouser)

And here we go -

70. Frankie Frisch 2B WARP+B-Ref WAR=149.5
OPS+ 110
Translated BA/OBP/SLG  .293/.356/.436
MVPQ 1927 (17.9)

We open the top 70 with the Fordham Flash; his + glove adds to two decades of a good bat to earn this spot, but he just isn't close to Robinson, and Grich nudges him across the board as well.  

69. Rod Carew  2B/1B 150.4
OPS+ 131
MVPQ 1977 (17.9)
Carew's career was pretty evenly split between second and first, so he's going to leap right up into that second base battle just discussed in Frisch's slot.  Carew didn't have Frisch's glove, but had a whole lot more bat, and while he didn't have the punch that the Grich/Kent ballplayer had, the OBP advantage balances it out.  By a nose, Carew goes by Grich to back up Robinson - they had the same OPS+, Carew and Jackie, but Robinson matched Carew's adjusted on base while also having the Kent/Grich power, and Robinson's got 3 MVPQ seasons in a ten year career.  

68. Paul Molitor 3B/2B 150.5
OPS+ 122
MVPQ none 1982 (12.8)

We get to look at the third basemen again, and if you're just clicking by on this portion of the list, you're likely to be surprised that Scott Rolen is currently the starting third baseman in both all time lineups. Rolen might pass Molitor on the career value list in 2011 - on the subjective lineup, you'd take Rolen, mildly better bat, solidly better glove. Santo was better than Molitor also, virtually identical numbers - but Santo put up his career in fewer seasons and had multiple MVPQ's to Molitor's none.  

67. Tom Glavine LHP 153
MVPQ none Best seasons 1991 (14.8)

It has been awhile since our last left handed starter; Hubbell and Newhouser each put up 3 MVPQ seasons and adjusted ERAs of 130, and that keeps Glavine out of the subjective roster pretty clearly.  Glavine, btw, had a career postseason record of 14-16.

66. Bill Dahlen SS 154
OPS+ 109
MVPQ none Best season 1896 (15.1)

Dahlen neither played for the Cubs (Colts) nor the Dodgers (Superbas), when I can, I try to use the lineal descendants for ease of understanding.  The adjusted OBP really gives that low BA a boost, enough to give a representative bat to his +glove.  He didn't have the bat to break up that Banks/Jeter combo, but had a better glove than either.  

65. Ken Griffey, Jr. CF 154.4
OPS+ 135
MVPQ 1993 (16.2), 1996 (17), 1997 (18.1)

Hamilton's bat a little better, and very different - Griffey had a much bigger bat, almost a hundred more points of adjusted slugging - but Hamilton walked where Junior didn't, and his crazy, crazy adjusted OBP of .434 pushes his bat a nose ahead of Griffey's.  Junior had a couple more MVPQ seasons - boy, it's hard, and when you consider an easier comp, Duke Snider - Snider's bat was a little better and Griffey bled away all of his career defensive value by the end.  You know what?  Man, it's close.  It might be a rock, paper, scissors thing here - I put Hamilton ahead of Snider because of the OBP - but Griffey's got 2 extra MVPQ seasons over Hamilton and that kinda makes him seem better than Billy...but Duke's bat, although it was close, edges Griffey's.

Yeah, it's tight - Griffey's the new best CF of all time.  

64. Nolan Ryan RHP 154.5
ERA+ 112
MVPQ none, Best season 1973 (15.8)

Nolan Ryan was a "compiler" - that's not a word I like as I think there's value in a long career; I like doing a list that reflects the most systemically underrated ability in all of sports - the ability to stay healthy.  Ryan's not presented as a guy like that - but here he is, with the modest ERA+ and no MVPQ seasons.  He doesn't crack the subjective 7, my list of the 7 best RHP of all time to this point on the list.   

63. Chipper Jones 3B 154.5
OPS+ 142
MVPQ none, Best season 2007 (15.4)

Chipper lets us update my favorite sublist; players who have 3/4/5 translated slashlines.  

Will Clark
Jackie Robinson
Dick Allen (3/4/6)
Joe Jackson (3/4/6)
Elmer Flick
Gary Sheffield
Edgar Martinez
Manny Ramirez
Chipper Jones

Chipper's bat just blows him to the top of the field - the lack of an MVPQ season is a real downward weight, however, considering Santo had 3.  Chipper was better all around, better bat, comparable in the field, but Santo had a top end not just better - but significantly better than Chipper's top end.  The best of Santo was better than the best of Chipper.  Man.  Chipper clearly was a better bat than both Rolen or Santo - Rolen got the nod over Santo because he had an MVPQ season, minimizing Rolen's advantage of 3-0 over Jones.  

Man.  This is a tough spot.  'Cause Chipper doesn't have Dick Allen's bat.  Man, look at Dick Allen's bat - so, here's what happened - Allen had three MVPQ seasons, but I chose Santo because he also had three, and a better glove.  Then I took Rolen over Santo because his bat was comparable, and had a better glove.  But now it's Jones - he's got a better bat than Rolen or Santo, but not as good as

Okay.  I can't take Chipper, the lack of MVPQ seasons is a dealbreaker - he doesn't make the team.  Done. Whew.

62. Barry Larkin SS 155.1
MVPQ none Best seasons 1996 (15.3)

Nudging closer to Banks with a pretty hefty OBP advantage, but countered by the SLG.  Larkin had a better glove, Banks had a significant MVPQ edge that keeps his job.  Jeter and Larkin have nearly identical offensive numbers, Jeter a tick better today, but probably he'll give that edge back as he ages.  I'm gonna go Jeter, Larkin had a better glove but not a superior one - Jeter's a below average glove, Larkin's an above average...nah, Larkin's better.  Same bat, better glove - Larkin wins.

61. Ozzie Smith SS 155.5
OPS+ 87
MVPQ none, Best season 1987 (15.6)

His entire value is in the glove; his bat is below major league average, driven downward by the lack of punch - but he might be the most valuable glove of all time.  Was his glove worth 20 points of OBP and a hundred points of slugging to Larkin as Banks's backup?  Yeah, yeah it was.  All those MVPQ years keeps Banks the starter - but Ozzie's glove makes him the backup.

Here are the two lineups with 60 to go.

Career value:
C Carter (Berra)
1B Mize (Thome)
2B Carew (Frisch)
SS Smith (Larkin)
3B Jones (Molitor)
LF Delahanty (Raines)
CF Griffey (Edmonds)
RF Jackson (Waner)
RHP Ryan (Mussina, Clarkson, Martinez, Drysdale, Rivera, Smoltz, )
LHP Glavine (Hubbell)

C Berra (Piazza)
1B Mize (McGwire)
2B Robinson (Carew)
SS Banks (Smith)
3B Rolen (Santo)
LF Jackson (Delahanty)
CF Griffey (Hamilton)
RF Flick (Sheffield)
RHP Rivera (Martinez, Walsh, Feller, Clarkson, Marichal, Halladay, )
LHP Hubbell (Newhouser)

The Weekly Tendown February 13 --19 2011

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Dear Internet:

Is it wrong that I was rooting for the computer?  Am I a race traitor?  In the ultimate battle of men vs. machines, I gotta be honest, I'm likely to switch sides.  Slip them some launch codes.  Maybe hit a military commander on the back with a steel chair.  "Go to hell, Jividen.  Go straight to hell."  Sometimes when you root, you make a choice - in my SB45 piece, I said something to the effect of - if you're trying to determine who you're for, you're for the Packers - they're a non-profit, so its less likely that you'll be reading Slate on your gizmo in July and find out that the owners of the team you rooted for in the Super Bowl turned around and took away your right to collectively bargain in your $35,000/yr job (if I inverted that phrase and instead wrote "reading Gizmo on your slate" it sounds a little more intuitive; pick whichever makes you most comfortable.  We're closer to that being education than you think - I'm teaching the New Deal next week and I'll teach it as a flood of government stimulus that, in conjunction with 94% top income tax rates on the wealthiest Americans, stabilized the American economy until an even bigger torrent of government spending, a tsunami of government spending, WW2, pulled the US out of the Depression.  But someone will eventually tell me it was part of an Islamo-fascist-communist-homosexual-Bon Jovi plot to bring down the US - that actually the economy was just fine, thanks, until those deadbeats with the Tennessee Valley Authority sucked up all the Rockefellers hard earned money) but sometimes the heart wants what it wants, and I wanted Watson to whip some Mormon ass this week.  And that Brad dude too.  Whatever.

You ready to talk about Wisconsin?

Here's Tendown 65.

1. The Laboratory for Democracy
There used to be good Republicans.

   That's Fightin' Bob LaFollette.  A hundred five years ago, he was Governor of Wisconsin.  Without looking it up, I assume the building in Madison from which current Governor Scott Walker proposed to take away the collective bargaining rights of the public employees in his state has the name LaFollette on it a handful of different places.  When LaFollette, a Republican, was Governor of Wisconsin it became known as the laboratory of democracy, as so many of the protections that would later be won (and that's from where change comes - it's not ever given by a President, no matter how nifty is his campaign poster - it's won) for the rest of working Americans began  in Wisconsin.

-The first ever American government board that regulated workplace safety.
-The first sate ever with an income tax.
-The first state with a direct primary for all nominations
-Raised taxes on the railroads.
-Lowered the rates charged by the railroads.
-Controlled the level of lobbying in the state
-Significant regulatory reforms in controlling utilities, in public education, in providing workman's compensation.

There used to be good Republicans.

But they're all dead now.

2. Tax Millionaires.
That's my economic plan.  I've discussed it before.

If our problem is government is taking in less money than it spends - and taxes are how government takes in money - then lets raise taxes.

Not on you.  You don't have any money.

But some Americans have a ton of it.  Here's Bob Reich

Last year, America’s top thirteen hedge-fund managers earned an average of $1 billion each. One of them took home $5 billion. Much of their income is taxed as capital gains – at 15 percent – due to a tax loophole that Republican members of Congress have steadfastly guarded.
If the earnings of those thirteen hedge-fund managers were taxed as ordinary income, the revenues generated would pay the salaries and benefits of 300,000 teachers. Who is more valuable to our society – thirteen hedge-fund managers or 300,000 teachers? Let’s make the question even simpler. Who is more valuable: One hedge fund manager or one teacher?

LaFollette was a progressive; back a hundred years ago, reformers from both political parties recognized that our Gilded Age economy in which the wealthiest 1% of Americans were taking home 18% of the income wasn't an economy that could stand.  A hundred years ago, despite corporate objection, those entrusted with government power in our republic recognized their duty was to the mass of working Americans struggling daily to maintain a living.  When I was in school two decades ago, I learned about the Gilded Age the way most of us did - a time of unfair excess for some, massive wealth built upon the unprotected backs of the workers.  A time we learned from and grew out of.  It's how I learned it.  It's how I teach it.  Reforms worked.  By the beginning of the 1980s, the wealthiest 1% of Americans were earning 11% of the income.

Right now, in 2011, the wealthiest 1% of Americans take home 24% of the income.

Since 1980, over 80% of the increase in American income has gone to the top 1%

It's time for a dramatic tax increase on the wealthiest Americans.  I've previously argued for both an increase in the top marginal tax rate and an increase in the ceiling at which social security taxes are taken from paychecks.  But I'm not an economist, just a guy with a couple of graduate degrees who enjoys professional wrestling.

Reich, however, is:

The best way to revive the economy is not to cut the federal deficit right now. It’s to put more money into the pockets of average working families. Not until they start spending again big time will companies begin to hire again big time.

Don’t cut the government services they rely on – college loans, home heating oil, community services, and the rest. State and local budget cuts are already causing enough pain.

The most direct way to get more money into their pockets is to expand the Earned Income Tax Credit (a wage subsidy) all the way up through people earning $50,000, and reduce their income taxes to zero. Taxes on incomes between $50,000 and $90,000 should be cut to 10 percent; between $90,000 and $150,000 to 20 percent; between $150,000 and $250,000 to 30 percent.

And exempt the first $20,000 of income from payroll taxes.

Make up the revenues by increasing taxes on incomes between $250,000 to $500,000 to 40 percent; between $500,000 and $5 million, to 50 percent; between $5 million and $15 million, to 60 percent; and anything over $15 million, to 70 percent.

And raise the ceiling on the portion of income subject to payroll taxes to $500,000.

That's Bob Reich.  Agreeing with me.  Hooray!

That's exactly what I want to hear from a candidate for whom I vote.

If you, right now, make less than a quarter million dollars a year, your taxes go down under this plan.  If you make between a quarter million and a half million, your tax rate only goes back up to 1990s levels.  Even you folks making 15 million are still paying significantly less than you were 60 years ago when the Greatest Generation built the country - built it with strong unions and high top marginal tax rates.

That's how you come out of a Depression.

1. Government stimulus.
2. High top marginal tax rates
3. Strong unions and government policy that favors the American worker and that favors American corporations which work to support the American worker.

But won't the wealthy just stop producing, you're taught to say by the last 30 years of Republican propaganda that's worked its way into your brain?  If we tax our wealthy plutocratic overlords at that rate, won't they stop creating all those imaginary jobs that haven't trickled down money into our mouths?

Call their bluff.

And wave the flag.  Love it or leave it assholes.  You don't want to pay your share; move to a developed country that will allow you to make a billion dollars and pay a smaller portion in taxes than this plan does.

Good luck with that.

Limbaugh said this week that Obama and the protesters in Wisconsin were "hateful of this society."

Because to the right wing - the story of the United States isn't about regular Americans struggling, fighting for their rights - struggling for the 8 hour day, for a minimum wage, for minimum safety standards - not about worker's rights, not about civil rights.  It's about millionaires.  The America he loves is one of tramps and millionaires, and he's on the winning side.

But there are more of us than there are of him.  And if we wanted a progressive tax policy, we could have one.

And then we'd see who the patriots are.

3. First Amendment Remedies

It's the Gilded Age.  We're in the Gilded Age.  A hundred years ago - the response of the Governor of Wisconsin to the first Gilded Age was to fight for reforms for Wisconsin workers.

In 2011 - the response is to go after the pensions of schoolteachers.  To strip the ability of public sector workers in Wisconsin to bargain collectively.

It is part of a long assault right wing assault on workers and on the ability of any organization to raise money to support Democrats. From the Nation:

In 1975 the overall unionization rate in the private sector was 25 percent. Thanks to the class war that has been waged since then—involving trade liberalization, radical reorganization of global finance rules, unionbusting, deindustrialization, rejiggered accounting rules and more—Norquist’s goal is now within reach for the right. According to union expert and author Bill Fletcher Jr., “There has been a three-decade campaign by the neoliberal Democrats and the right wing to destroy the base of the strength of the American middle class, which can be boiled down to unions and government regulation of corporate excess. As a result, unionization rates and corresponding pay and benefits now appear higher in the government sector, and the same forces are now attacking government workers’ unions.” 

Where the campaign to gut public sector unions succeeds, Republicans will be poised for almost certain electoral gains. In general, across the nation, the lower the rate of unionization, the redder the state. And in the bluest states, the public sector dominates the union scene: in New York, for example, the most unionized state, the rate among government workers is 70.5 percent, next to 13.7 percent in the private sector. In California the unionization rate among government workers is 56.6 percent, compared with 9.3 percent among the private sector workforce.

There is a strong correlation, moreover, between red states, right-to-work laws, an overall worse quality of life for the average worker or poor person, and a more hostile climate for progressives, from environmentalists to civil rights activists. The average worker in a right-to-work state earns $5,333 less than his or her counterpart in a pro-worker state. Twenty-one percent more people lack health insurance. Late last year, immigration advocates anticipated Arizona-like measures in twenty-two states, eleven of which are controlled by Republicans. Of those, seven are right-to-work states. Not surprisingly, three that are not—Ohio, Pennsylvania and Indiana—are where the attack on government workers’ unions is the strongest.

80,000 protested the plan to gut Wisconsin unions on Saturday.

5. Whose Side Are the Super Bowl Packers On?
The people's.  Of course.  Here's Charles Woodson.  Who totally deserved that Heisman trophy.

Last week I was proud when many of my current and former teammates announced their support for the working families fighting for their rights in Wisconsin. Today I am honored to join with them. Thousands of dedicated Wisconsin public workers provide vital services for Wisconsin citizens. They are the teachers, nurses and child care workers who take care of us and our families. These hard working people are under an unprecedented attack to take away their basic rights to have a voice and collectively bargain at work.

6. So Be It
The Speaker of the House had a let them eat cake moment this week.

"In the last two years, under President Obama, the federal government has added 200,000 new federal jobs," Boehner said. "If some of those jobs are lost so be it.

Boehner completely made up the number, incidentally.  It's about 20,000.  But - good news for those holding those jobs.  If Republican policies of tax breaks for corporations and the wealthiest Americans and spending cuts cost you your job - you know - so be it.

7. The Amazing Race Returns
Amazing Race 18 starts tonight; it's unlikely to provide as much pure fun as the opening tribal council for Survivor this week ("Francesqua"?  "Francesca."  "Fraceseska"?  Francesca.  Seriously - it's the first elimination; don't go after Boston Rob in Week One.  Even assuming the show is on the up and up, unlike the dunk contest last night, it's Survivor, if you keep your head down and don't blow a challenge, you can almost assure yourself of getting to the merge.  Hide in the early portion of the game.  Maneuver into the right spot in the middle.  Fight down the stretch.  Next week - I teach you how to win America's Best Dance Troupe) but this is an All-Star season, and clips of the previous appearances of each team are here.

The site offers odds to win - I won't do that, but I'll tell you who I will root for.

Mel and Mike

Mike White wrote School of Rock, The Good Girl, and Chuck and Buck - his dad's a gay minister; here's a 2005 interview with the Southern Poverty Law Center.

I'm convinced that if you walk through the Holocaust Museum here in D.C. and substitute the word "gay" for the word "Jew" during those early years of the Nazi regime, you will be convinced that what [Hitler's chief propagandist] Goebbels did is exactly what Jerry Falwell and [Focus on the Family's] James Dobson and Pat Robertson and Pope John Paul II are doing now.
They are demonizing us. They are creating a case for why we're the problem, and why the nation has gone foul. They are describing us as disease-carriers, child-snatchers, money-grubbers.
All that demonizing creates a deadly environment. The killing here has been isolated and scattered so far, but it certainly has begun.
And you hold religious leaders primarily responsible?
It is the Christian Right movement that has become the number one enemy of God's gay children. Their churches are the primary sources of misinformation about gay and lesbian people that leads to suffering and death.
No longer am I afraid of Skinheads and neo-Nazis and white supremacists, by comparison to a church that's committed to the destruction of the civil rights and human rights and families of my sisters and brothers.
Skinheads and Klansmen I can recognize for the enemies that they are. But anti-gay Christians come in the disguise of love, and that disguise is a powerful weapon in itself. They demonize, but they don't see themselves as responsible for the violence their demonizing causes.  

8. The Dunk Contest Was Fixed

So, I wrote this week - here's the next chapter in my countdown of the greatest baseball players ever; here's every NBA Champ ranked; here's my piece on every dunk contest of the 80s. So, having just watched the '88 dunk contest between Jordan and Nique, I know when a dunk contest is fixed.

I actually think Griffin was the best dunker last night ( here are all of them) and I think his 360 was the second best dunk of the night (lots of good dunks - I'll take DeRozan's one handed swoop) and I don't think the finals were fixed - or rather, there's no evidence to suggest that they were fixed.

But the preliminary rounds were absolutely fixed.  Blake Griffin's final round dunk featured an entire choir and a sponsored car - had he been eliminated prior - then none of that winds up as part of the contest, an outcome that seems unlikely.  I'm in - I love me a dunk contest; I'm all for a good crazy performance dunk, but had I invested on one of the other three competitors last night, I'd be a little irritated today.

In addition to the writing I finally - finally finished the December, 2010 wrestling.  Here are all the 4 star+ matches I watched this week from last December:

Sugiura v. Morishima (NOAH 5 stars)
Morishima/Taniguchi v. Sugiura/Sano (Dec Noah 4 1/2)
Kenta v. Marufuji (Noah 4 1/2)
Generico/London d. Kings of Wrestling (PWG 4 1/2)
Strong v. Richards (ROH 4 1/2)
Yoshino v. Doi (DG 4 1/2)
Pac v. Yamato  (DG 4)
Open the Triangle Gate (DG4)
Hulk v. Yamato (DG4)
Steen v. Generico (ROH 4 1/4)
Goto v. Tanahashi (NJ 4)

The 4 1/2+ matches will head up the 2011 professional wrestling match of the year race (I'll start that post as early as this week) as my calendar year is Dec-Nov (except for WWE and TNA for which I use the actual calendar given the time lag in watching everything else).

And - there was a 4 star TNA match this week; the first 4 star match from either WWE/TNA this year - it was Hardy/Anderson at Sunday's PPV.

Yes, that Sugiura/Morishima being 5 stars is sort of a thing; I only had one match at 5 stars in all of 2010, that will almost certainly hold up as a top 3 match of the year 10 months from now.

9. Nick Lachey is The Jannetty
Jessica Simpson's fashion empire is worth a billion dollars.

10. The World Champion San Francisco Giants

It takes 11 playoff wins to become World Champion.  Here was number 8 - Game 1 of the 2010 World Series.

The first National League All-Star Game win since the Coolidge Administration meant that Games 1 and 2 would be played in San Francisco.  We hadn't hit a baseball in either serenity or anger with any consistency since Bonds was exiled, but batted around in both games.

Texas scored first, off the 2 time defending Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum (8.7 combined WARP/WAR) a single by Elvis Andrus, a walk by Michael Young, a single by Vlad Guerrero and we were down 1-0.

That became 2-0 just an inning later; Bengie Molina, only the second player in WS history to play against a team from which he was traded at midseason singled, went to third on a Cliff Lee double, and scored on an Andrus sac fly.

That was the worst it would get.

We got them both back in the third - Edgar Renteria (2.2) benched for most of the season (and correctly so) reached on an error and took second when Andres Torres (with a combined WAR/WARP of 10 was the best SFG CF in 20 years) was hit by a pitch.  Cliff Lee, who entered Game 1 on a multi-year postseason roll, then gave up a double to Freddy Sanchez (4.1) and a base hit to the rookie catcher Buster Posey (at 7.4, the best SFG catching performance in two decades - and one that he seems likely to surpass multiple times over) tied the game.

We sent 10 the plate in the 5th.  10!  In a World Series.  I'm almost certain it actually happened and wasn't part of a fevered dream.  

A one out double by Torres.  Sanchez's third double of the game to score him. An inning extending two out walk by Pat Burrell (6) then singles by NLCS MVP Cody Ross and Aubrey Huff (12 - the best SFG performance by a position player since Bonds in '04)  and a 3 run home run by Juan Uribe (5.5) made it 8-2 and just like that, Game One was effectively over.  

The final was 11-7; Texas scored 2 in the 6th that chased Lincecum - we got our 3 additional in the 8th with a Renteria single, a Travis Ishikawa pinch double, the fourth hit of the game by Freddy Sanchez (a SFG WS record, for those of you in the future searching for that improbable trivia answer) and a Nate Schierholtz single.  The bullpen blew up a little in the 9th; Texas tacked on 3 runs in a way only meaningful to their loved ones.

8 down.  3 to go.

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

Your pal,


I Watch Every NBA Slam Dunk Contest, 1976-89

Saturday, February 19, 2011

NBA TV marathons are among my favorite sensual pleasures (this is where I smack my lips and talk about my pyloric valve).

They've cut up every Slam Dunk Championship into a half hour program; that's maybe the ideal length for a dunk contest; it's maybe the ideal length for a Super Bowl.  Let's see if we can get to work on transforming every event in the culture into 30 minute packages.  I'd watch if CSPAN ran a marathon of Presidential election nights in 30 minute episodes.  Or national calamities.  The full coverage of the Kennedy assassination in 30 minutes.  As long as Bob Neal anchors.

They had a compulsory round in '76, like figure skating.  Artis Gilmore's double axel brought tears to my eyes.  Steve Albert (I think it was Steve) announces the players before the contest, including Larry Kenon, nicknamed "Mr. K", which would have been a good nickname for Dwight Gooden near the end of his career after his license to practice medicine was stripped away; and George Gervin, who Albert called a "guard".  I don't mean Albert just called him a guard - I mean Albert said he was a "quote, guard."  That's maybe how to refer to a guard who doesn't guard anyone.  "Here's your 2011 Golden St. Warriors starting backcourt, "from Davidson College, the Point Guard, Stephen Curry; from Lanier High School in Jackson, Mississippi, the Quote Guard, Monta Ellis!..."

Erving wins, and rightly so, with the foul line dunk.

I didn't catch who the analyst was.  Let's say it was Hot Rod Hundley, "You know what I smelled?  A lot of stickem around a circle of guys."

Yeah, that's not what I smelled, chief.

That's going to allow for one of my favorite games when watching old sportscasts, Homoerotic Double Entendre Theater.

From '85: You know he's got a deep bag!
From '86: I like Roy Hinson....He's got an unbelievable stretch."

When the dunks returned in '84, it was with new judging criteria - back in '76, dunks were rated based on (1) artistic ability, (2) imagination, (3) body flow (4) fan response - but now changed to a more corporatized (1) creativity (2) style (3) athleticism - somewhere around '87 they stopped referencing judging criteria altogether "just watch the dunks, okay - put numbers in the air and move on with our lives."

Body flow is awesome.  Someone in the ABA offices was listening to some Doobie Brothers when he came up with body flow as an official judging standard for the dunk contest.  It Keeps You Runnin.  Yeah, it keeps you runnin'.  Hey guys, you know what I love about David Thompson?  The way his body flows.  You know he has a deep bag.

Nance wins, and deserved to - like the early era dunkers, he was a version of Erving, much more finesse than power - they were stylish dunkers; his reverse righthand windmill was the best dunk of the night.

Do you want to know the ideal height to win a dunk contest?  6 foot 7.  That's from, again, I'll say Rod Hundley.  Imagine all the stickem!

In '85 we get the debut of the forgotten dunker of the era, Terence Stansbury (replacing Barkley, who we are told was missing the dunk contest due to "personal reasons".  He never winds up competing in one, so whatever those reasons were apparently are ongoing.  Here's hoping he gets the help he needs soon.).  Stansbury hits a 360 degree Statue of Liberty dunk that becomes the best dunk to that date in a performance overlooked due to the arrival of the game changing Dominique Wilkins.  Whereas Dr. J and his progeny were finesse dunkers - 'Nique was all power, just rocketing his way through the mid '80s and really forcing Jordan, who also debuted in '85, to transform his dunk contest game from a more gentle showing in '85, to the heights he'd reach in '87/'88 where he brilliantly became a combination of both styles; Jordan essentially taking the best of what Wilkins could do, adding height and body flow, and building his dunk legacy.

Wilkins wins - taking 12 grand for his troubles, but Stansbury had the best dunk.

Hey, we meet the judges.  Martina!  Staubach!  This was the Spud Webb year, and maybe the year that caused the dunk contest to penetrate the culture when one considers its historical arc.  'Nique had the dunk of the night, a double clutch behind the back thunderslam from the preliminary rounds; I'll call it the third best dunk to date, and it really was just one among another dozen similar powerdunks that marked Dominique the best contest dunker through '86.  But the thing is - Webb was better in the final round; his 1 handed dunk the 4th best to that date; it's tempting to say Wilkins got jobbed by the Spudtastic frenzy "aw, he thinks he's people", a 2011 analogue our national acceptance of special needs reality star Snooki.  Girl got hops.  Can't take that away from her.  But the truth is, Webb was better at the end even though Wilkins dominated the competition..


Once the evening ended in 1987, this had become the best dunk ever.

And that was the second.

And that was the third.

Michael Jordan's 1987 dunk contest performance was the great leap forward for the art form; it was Gutenberg creating movable type.  Sports analysts have spent the last 20 years giving some variation of the "dunk contest is dead" post mortem after every All-Star weekend.  They're wrong - the dunks are more often fun than not, it's just that it can't always be the 1440's.

1988 was Ali/Frazier - but the one we didn't see; it's Ali from '65, all athleticism and body flow - against the ferocity, the thump/thump/thump of the best of Frazier.  The best heavyweight title fight of the 1980s?  It was Jordan/'Nique in the '88 Dunk Contest.

Jordan in '88 was Jordan in '87, he returned with the same repertoire, the same level of excellence, he returned for his coronation; he knew Dominique, he had already absorbed his sexy.  But he didn't know this Wilkins - it wasn't that suddenly Dominique found his inner Erving - instead, in '88, 'Nique's mean got meaner.   He hit Jordan with a reverse two hander in round one (BAM!) then a one armed windmill in the semis (WHAM!) MJ hit his own two handed reverse to slide his way into the finals and then got punched dead in the mouth with Nique's best contest dunk yet, a two hand windmill that you can see, albeit in slow motion, at 2:30 in here.

By all rights, that should have been the knockout.

But it wasn't - Jordan rose, hit his foul line dunk, and took the judge's decision.  If Wilkins, Marvin Hagler-like, had chosen to quit hoops right then and move to Italy, we all would have understood.

Kenny Walker hit a one hand 360 and obliterated the field.  Inspired, as Bob Neal and Rick Barry told us on multiple occasions, by his dead father.

You see that episode of the behind the scenes documentary about Oprah's show (it's terrific, honest) where she really wanted to put the IPad in her last "Oprah's favorite things" episode and said that it was too small a thing to pray for?

This was that - I don't know if you want to play the dead parent card on a dunk contest, especially post-Jordan.  If Kenny Walker was visited by a magical genie and given three wishes, my concern is he spent them all in 1989.

Top 5 Dunks of the 80s:
1. Jordan's one handed under the basket swooping dunk from round 1, 1987
2. Jordan's one handed dunk from the baseline, semifinals, 1987
3. Nique's two hand windmill, finals, 1988
4. Walker's one hand 360 cradle, 1989
5. Jordan's foul line dunk, 1987 (tie)
5. Stansbury's 360 statue of liberty, 1985

Maybe next year I'll come back and do the 90s.  Enjoy All-Star Saturday Night.

Every NBA Champion Ranked by Pythagorean Record+Strength of Schedule

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Updated through 2018.

Thursday's pythagorean day, you can get to the previous lists here.

This is a ranking of every NBA Champ by regular season pythagorean wins (normalized for an 82 game season) if you click that above link you can work your way to the methodology.  Included with each team is a list of its players who had Win Shares of 10 or over (Win Shares is an aggregate performance metric).  I combined regular season and playoff performance for that number. I'm now adding strength of schedule as well, the combination of those two numbers is reflected in the simple rating system from pro-basketball-reference.

So - what's the best team in NBA history?

1. 1971 Bucks 11.91
Abdul-Jabbar 25.6, Robertson 14.7, Dandridge 11.3, McGlocklin 10.7, (d. Bullets .91 let’s see how far we go to find another team this bad)

2. 1996 Bulls 11.8
Jordan 25.1, Pippen 15.3, Kukoc 11.4 (d. Sonics 7.4)

3. 1972 Lakers 11.65
Chamberlain 18.8, West 14.3, Goodrich 14.3, Hairston 11, (d. Knicks 2.28, in the Western Finals they beat the defending champ Bucks, with a 10.7 SRS, before that they beat the 7.91 Bulls, this Laker team was tremendous)

4. 2017 Warriors 11.35 
 Curry 16, Durant 15.1, Green 10.6 (d. Cavs 2.87)

5. 1997 Bulls 10.7
Jordan 22.2, Pippen 15.4, (d. Jazz 7.97)

6. 1992 Bulls 10.07
Jordan 21.8, Grant 17.4, Pippen 15.8, (d. Blazers 6.94). 3 Bulls teams in the top 5.

7. 2015 Warriors 10.01
Curry 19.8, Green 11.1, Thompson 10.7 (d. Cavs 4.08) How about that?

8. 2008 Celtics 9.31
Garnett 17, Pierce 15.4, Allen 12.8, (d. Lakers 7.34). Would you have guessed this as the best regular season Celtics team of all time?

9. 1986 Celtics 9.06
Bird 20, McHale 14.2, Parish 10.2 (d. Rockets 2.1, they beat the 8.69 Bucks in the Eastern Finals)

10. 1991 Bulls 8.57
Jordan 25.1, Pippen 14.1, Grant 12.9, (d. Lakers 6.73, the Lakers knocked off the 8.47 Blazers in the Western Finals). 4th MJ team.

11. 1967 Sixers 8.5
Chamberlain 25.7, Walker 12.4, (d. Warriors 2.58)

12. 1970 Knicks 8.42
Frazier 17.8, Reed 17.4, (d. Lakers 1.76)

13. 2000 Lakers 8.41
O’Neal 23.3, Bryant 12.7, Rice 10.1, (d. Pacers 4.15).

14. 2007 Spurs 8.35
Duncan 16.3, Ginobli 13.2, Parker 11.2, (d. Cavs 3.33)

15. 1987 Lakers 8.32
Johnson 19.6, Worthy 12 (d. Celtics 6.57)

16. 1950 Lakers 8.25
Mikan (21.1) (d. Nationals 6.48)

17. 1962 Celtics 8.25
Russell 19.1, SJones 11.1, Heinsohn 10.3, (d. Lakers 1.8)

18. 2014 Spurs 8.0
Duncan 10.6 (d. Heat 4.15)

19. 2005 Spurs 7.83
Ginobli 15.2, Duncan 14.7, (d. Pistons 3.31).

20. 1960 Celtics 7.62
Russell 16.8, (d. Lakers 1.77)

21. 1983 Sixers 7.53
Malone 17.9, Erving 12.1, Cheeks 11, (d. Lakers 5.06)

22. 1965 Celtics 7.47
Russell 14.9, SJones 12.2, (d. Lakers 1.7)

23. 1998 Bulls 7.24
Jordan 20.6, (d. Jazz 5.73)

24. 2002 Lakers 7.14
O’Neal 17, Bryant 15.3, (d. Nets 3.67)

25. 1999 Spurs 7.12
Duncan 12.4, Robinson 11.4, (d. Knicks 1.45)

26. 2009 Lakers 7.11
Gasol 18.2, Bryant 17.6, (d. Magic 6.48, the 8.68 Cavs lost to Orlando in the Eastern Finals)

27. 2013 Heat 7.03
James 24.5, Wade 11.4, Bosh 11.2 (d.Spurs 6.67, the best team, to that date, in NBA history to not make even the conference finals were the Thunder 9.15)

28. 1964 Celtics 6.93
Russell 19.2, SJones 11 (d. Warriors 4.41)

29. 1949 Lakers 6.80
Mikan 25.1 (d.Capitols 2.11)

30. 1985 Lakers 6.48
Johnson 15.7, Abdul-Jabbar 13.7, Worthy 10.1, (d. Celtics 6.46)

31. 1984 Celtics 6.42
Bird 18.3, McHale 12.6, Parish 12.4, (d. Lakers 3.32)

32. 1963 Celtics 6.38
Russell 16, SJones 11.5, (d. Lakers 2.67)

33. 1989 Pistons 6.24
Laimbeer 10.6, (d. Lakers 6.38, that's the first upset, albeit as small as one could be, the 7.95 Cavs lost in the first round to Jordan)

34. 1993 Bulls 6.19
Jordan 21.6, Grant 11.5, Pippen 10.2, (d. Suns 6.27, upset, but barely so)

35. 1973 Knicks 6.07
Frazier 16, (d. Lakers 8.16, that's a healthy upset, this Laker team would be in the top 20 of championship teams; only team with an 8+ SRS to lose a title to an inferior team in the Finals, the Bucks were 7.84 and lost in the first round)

36. 1981 Celtics 6.05
Bird 13.9, Maxwell 13.5, Parish 12.3, (d. Rockets -.2 – the Celtics played some bad Rockets teams in the 80s, the Celtics beat the 7.76 Sixers in the Eastern Finals)

37. 1959 Celtics 5.84
Russell 14.8, (d. Lakers -1.42, okay, this will almost certainly be the worst team ever to make an NBA Final – and since I’ve already done the SB, I know it’s worse than any team ever to win the SB. I’ve done WS winners already, one team, out of 106 WS champs, was under .500 – the ’87 Twins – I haven’t done losers yet, but right now, this Lakers team is the worst team ever in a title game. Note, I didn’t do NFL Champs before SB era.)

38. 2018 Warriors 5.79
Durant 14.4, Curry 12.9 (d Cavs .59) The Warriors won 3 titles in 4 years, this was easily the weakest team of that stretch

39. 2012 Heat 5.72
James 20.3 (d. OKC 6.44, another upset)

40. 2003 Spurs 5.65
Duncan 22.4, (d. Nets 4.42, the Spurs also beat the 7.90 Mavs in round one)

41. 1953 Lakers 5.53
Mikan 16.6, Mikkelsen 13.2, (d. Knicks 4.39)

42. 2016 Cavs 5.45
James 18.3, Thompson 10.7, Love 10.5 (d. Warriors 10.38, first 10 SRS team to lose the NBA Finals, another 10+ team, the Spurs lost earlier in playoffs)

43. 1990 Pistons 5.41
Laimbeer 13.7, Dumars 10.8, (d.Blazers 6.48)

44. 1980 Lakers 5.39
Abdul-Jabbar 18.1, Johnson 13.3, Wilkes 11.7, (d. Sixers 4.04)

45. 1969 Celtics 5.35
Howell 12.9, Russell 12.3, Havlicek 10.1 (d. Lakers 3.84)

46. 1977 Blazers 5.39
Walton 12.7, Lucas 11.3, (d. Sixers 3.78)

47. 1952 Lakers 5.28
Mikan 16.8, Mikkelsen 15.1, (d. Knicks .67)

48. 2004 Pistons 5.04
Billups 15, Wallace 13.8, Hamilton 11.6, Prince 10.3 (d. Lakers 4.35)

49. 1961 Celtics 4.93 
Russell 14.9, (d. Hawks 2.99)

50. 1988 Lakers 4.81
Johnson 14.9, Scott 13, Worthy 10.7, (d. Pistons 5.46)

51. 1957 Celtics 4.79
Sharman 11.7, (d. Hawks -.27)

52. 2010 Lakers 4.78
Gasol 15.3, Bryant 13, (d. Celtics 3.37)

53. 2011 Mavericks 4.41
Nowitzki 14.8 (d. Heat 6.76, that's a good upset a sub 5 SRS team beating a 6+ team)

54. 1982 Lakers 4.37
Johnson 15.6, Abdul-Jabbar 12.6, (d. Sixers 5.74)

55. 1966 Celtics 4.34
Russell 14.9, SJones 12.2, (d. Lakers 2.76)

56. 1994 Rockets 4.19
Olajuwon 18.6, Thorpe 12.2, (d. Knicks 6.48, see 2011, the 8.68 Sonics got bounced in the first round)

57. 1968 Celtics 3.87
Howell 12.3, (d. Lakers 4.99, the Celtics took out the 7.96 Sixers in the Eastern finals)

58. 1956 Warriors 3.82
Johnston 15.5, Arizin 14.4, (d. Pistons .45)

59. 2001 Lakers 3.74
O’Neal 18.6, Bryant 15.1, (d. Sixers 3.63, LA also beat the 7.92 Spurs in the Western Finals)

60. 1948 Bullets 3.69
Jeannette 10.3 (d.Warriors .69)

61. 2006 Heat 3.59
Wade 19.6 (d. Mavs 5.96)

62. 1974 Celtics 3.42
Havlicek 13.2, Cowens 11.4, (d. Bucks 7.61, now that's an upset)

63. 1947 Warriors 3.16
Fulks 18.6 (d. Stags 3.34, Washington was 8.99, an all time top non NBA Finalist)

64. 1975 GSW 2.86
Warriors! Sure, I was 4 and therefore have not a single memory of it. But it’s GSW! GSW! GSW!! Barry 15.8, (d. Bullets 6.53 – and a significant upset to boot)

65. 1954 Lakers 2.7
Mikan 16.2, (d. Nationals 4.27)

66. 1979 Sonics 2.69
Williams 11, Sikma 10.6, (d. Bullets 4.75)

67. 1951 Royals 2.54
Risen (9.3, this is the first team on the list without a 10 WS player) (d. Knicks .49– The Knicks have had some really bad finals teams)

68. 1995 Rockets 2.32
Olajuwon 14, (d. Magic 59 6.44, that's a nice upset, the 7.91 Sonics lost in the first round, the Rockets knocked off the 7.75 Jazz in the first round)

69. 1976 Celtics 2.24
Cowens 13.4, (d Suns .59, xtra bad matchup)

70. 1955 Nationals 1.23
Schayes 13.8, (d. Pistons 2.01)

71. 1958 Hawks .82
Pettit 12.2, Hagan 12.7 (d. Celtics 5.01, that's a bad Hawks title team)

72. 1978 Bullets .82
Hayes 11.4, (d. Sonics 1.48).  This is the first NBA Finals of my memory; I was 7 - it's a wonder I kept watching.

The 200 Greatest Major League Baseball Players Ever 2011 Ed. #80-71

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The previous ten is here.

I'm keeping two running rosters, which you probably know if you're reading the post.  The first is just based on this Top 200 list; here's where we currently stand.

C Berra (Fisk)
1B Mize (Thome)
2B Alomar (Biggio)
SS Appling (Yount)
3B Rolen (Santo)
LF Ramirez (Clarke)
CF Edmonds (Hamilton)
RF Sheffield (Walker)
RHP Clarkson (Martinez, Drysdale, Rivera, Smoltz, Eckersley, Keefe,)
LHP Hubbell (Newhouser)

The second is more "who would you pick if you were picking sides" - trying to look more at peak value than a career total.  

C Berra (Piazza)
1B Mize (McGwire)
2B Robinson (Kent)
SS Banks (Jeter)
3B Rolen (Santo)
LF Jackson (Ramirez)
CF Hamilton (Snider)
RF Flick (Sheffield)
RHP Rivera (Martinez, Walsh, Feller, Clarkson, Marichal, Halladay, )
LHP Hubbell (Newhouser)

So - here we go.  

80. Lou Whitaker 2B WARP+WAR=145.6
OPS+ 116
Translated BA/OBP/SLG  .291/.378/.473
MVPQ none, Best season 1983 (13.6)

Trammell was in the previous ten; they should both be in the HOF and they should go in together.  Whitaker bumps Alomar to the backup spot on the career roster and takes Biggio off the list.  The peak list remains unchanged - Jackie's the best 2B, Kent's the backup.  

79. Gary Carter C 146
OPS+ 115
MVPQ 1982 17.1

Carter's now the starting catcher on the all-time career roster, moving Berra to backup.  Now, what to do about the Berra/Piazza tandem on the other roster.  Berra just edges Carter, his bat was a little better as reflected in translated slugging.  Piazza's bat was significantly better - and for the same reasons I've kept Piazza in this slot, he continues through Carter.  

78. Bobby Grich 2B 146.1
MVPQ none Best season 1973 (15.2)

Above average glove and an OPS+ of 125, hopefully somewhere in the closing credits of Moneyball will be a  photographic montage of the forgotten greats in MLB history whose contributions weren't noticed by the prevailing wisdom of the time.  So - once again, we have the Jackie/Kent 2B combo putting their roster spots on the line.  Robinson keeps the spot - better at every phase than Grich.  Then we get to my guy Kent; essentially identical bats, Kent with a tick more power, Grich better at getting on base.  Their careers of comparable lengths - Grich takes the spot on the strength of the glove disparity.  Yeah - Grich was better, not by a lot - but better, absolutely. 

77. Tim Raines LF 146.3
OPS+ 123
MVPQ 1985 (17)

I love me some Tim Raines.  If there had been no Rickey Henderson, the Rock might be my favorite non-Giant ever.  There's something about that type of OBP weapon right there at the top of the order that makes me feel good as a fan.  Or would - 'cause SFG has been historically disinclined to care about leadoff hitters who get on base.  Now to the subjective lineup - the left fielders are Joe Jackson and Manny Ramirez.  He can't get by Jackson - that 170 OPS+ and translated .300/.400/.600 career line is impenetrable.  And, sadly, Manny gets him too - a 155 OPS+ and a 3/4/5 slashline beats out Raines.

76. Sam Crawford RF 146.3
OPS+ 144
MVPQ none, Best season 11.9

Crawford loses out to Flick and Sheffield on the OBP disparity and can't quite crack the subjective roster.

75. Tony Gwynn RF 146.9
OPS+ 132
MVPQ 1987 (17.5)

And Gwynn can't crack that RF roster either, his OBP matches (but doesn't really exceed, despite the huge BA advantage) Flick/Sheff, but he isn't within 50 points of their SLG.  Gwynn had more career value than Gary Sheffield - but if I'm picking, I'm taking Sheff.  Hey, we've hit the 75 best baseball players of all time.

74. Paul Waner RF 147.8
OPS+ 134
MVPQ (none), Best season 1936 (15.5)

Quite a run of right fielders.  Waner = Gwynn.  20 years with the same club, high BA that drove the OBP, good slugging, good enough in the field.  It's the kind of guy who should make up the bulk of a more selctive HOF - but neither was the player that Flick/Sheffield was.  

73. Ed Delahanty LF 147.9
OPS+ 152
MVPQ 1893 (17.2), 1896 (16.5), 1899 (16.8)

Delahanty's sliding past Ramirez, similar numbers but more value in significantly fewer years given a solid defensive advantage (Delahanty played some second, not a position you would often find Ramirez) into the backup LF spot behind Jackson.

72. Mike Mussina RHP 148.6
ERA+ 123
MVPQ none, Best season 1992 (14.7)

A long, consistent career.  Never brilliant, the Moose doesn't have a year better than '92 - but he didn't acquire this career number in 25 years either.  He doesn't crack the subjective 7 (I'm carrying 7 right handers on the peak/subjective lineup) but that doesn't mean he shouldn't be in the HOF.

71. Reggie Jackson RF 149.5
OPS+ 139
MVPQ 1969 (18.5)

Here's Mr. October in October - .278/.358/.527.  Those are untranslated numbers - but the general point is the same, Reggie wasn't better in the postseason than the regular season.  He was who he was, like almost everyone if given a representative sample.  

Jackson doesn't catch Flick - it's a photo finish between he and Sheffield; Sheff's got a higher OBP driven by batting average; Reggie's career value is slightly higher in approximately the same timeframe.  It's close - but it's Sheffield.  I know how that sounds - but the 30 points of adjusted OBP is the only real gap between them. 

Career value:
C Carter (Berra)
1B Mize (Thome)
2B Grich (Whitaker)
SS Appling (Yount)
3B Rolen (Santo)
LF Delahanty (Raines)
CF Edmonds (Hamilton)
RF Jackson (Waner)
RHP Mussina (Clarkson, Martinez, Drysdale, Rivera, Smoltz, Eckersley, )
LHP Hubbell (Newhouser)

C Berra (Piazza)
1B Mize (McGwire)
2B Robinson (Grich)
SS Banks (Jeter)
3B Rolen (Santo)
LF Jackson (Delahanty)
CF Hamilton (Snider)
RF Flick (Sheffield)
RHP Rivera (Martinez, Walsh, Feller, Clarkson, Marichal, Halladay, )
LHP Hubbell (Newhouser)

130 down.  70 to go.  See you in a week.

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