All Time AFC North 45 Man Roster

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Part of a series.  Previous post is here.

QB Otto Graham
       Terry Bradshaw
       Ken Anderson
RB Jim Brown
RB Franco Harris
      Leroy Kelly
      Marion Motley
WR John Stallworth
WR Hines Ward
       Chad Johnson
       Lynn Swann
TE Ozzie Newsome
      Bob Trumpy
C Mike Webster
G Gene Hickerson
G Alan Faneca
T Anthony Munoz
T Jonathan Ogden
   OL Doug Dieken
   OL Dick Schafrath
   OL Dermontti Dawson    

DE LC Greenwood
DT Joe Greene
DE Len Ford
      DL Ernie Stautner
      DL Bob Gain
      DL Tim Krumrie
      DL Eddie Edwards
OLB Jack Ham
ILB Ray Lewis
ILB Jack Lambert
OLB Clay Matthews
        LB Reggie Williams
        LB Andy Russell
        LB Greg Lloyd
CB Mel Blount
S Ed Reed
S Donnie Shell
CB Rod Woodson
      DB Ken Riley
      DB Lemar Parrish
      DB Hanford Dixon
      DB Chris McAlister
PK Lou Groza
P Pat McInally

All Time Baltimore Ravens 53 Man Roster

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Part of a series.  Previous post is here. Updated through the 2017 season. Here's my all time Ravens roster.

QB Joe Flacco
      Vinny Testaverde
      Kyle Boller
RB Ray Rice
RB Jamal Lewis
      Willis McGahee
      Priest Holmes
      Justin Forsett
WR Derrick Mason
WR Anquan Boldin
        Torrey Smith
        Mark Clayton
        Travis Taylor
TE Todd Heap
      Shannon Sharpe
C Mike Flynn
G Marshall Yanda
G Edward Mulitalo
G Ben Grubbs
T Jonathan Ogden
T Michael Oher
   OL Ben Grubbs
   OL Jeff Blackshear
   OL Orlando Brown
   OL Matt Birk

DE Rob Burnett
DT Kelly Gregg
DT Haloti Ngata
DE Michael McCrary
      DL Jarret Johnson
      DL Tony Siragusa
      DL Anthony Weaver
      DL Sam Adams
      DL Elvis Dumervill
OLB Terrell Suggs
MLB Ray Lewis
OLB Peter Boulware
       LB CJ Mosley
       LB Adalius Thomas
       LB Bart Scott
       LB Jamie Sharper
       LB Jameel McClain
       LB Daryl Smith
CB Chris McAllister
S Ed Reed
S Rod Woodson
CB Ladarius Webb
      DB Duane Starks
      DB Dawan Landry
      DB Samari Rolle
      DB Will Demps
      DB Kim Herring
PK Matt Stover
P Sam Koch

Athlete of the Month, August 2011

Monday, August 29, 2011

July and your access to all of the previous months of 2011 is here.

Justin Verlander.  Runners-up: Dan Uggla, Justin Upton, Jim Thome

8 down.  4 to go.

The Weekly Tendown August 21-7 2011

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Dear Internet:

Hurricanes are scary; I don't begrudge anyone a little bit of panic when this is right outside your door.

Here's 91.

1. The Bill You Should Support
This week, Bernie Sanders proposed legislation to lift the ceiling on which income is taxed for Social Security.

Which, as I write about every week, would keep Social Security solvent without any additional changes.

When you ask registered voters if they would rather have benefit cuts or raise the ceiling on which income is taxed beyond the first $106,000, every single grouping prefers to raise that ceiling.

Democrats.  Republicans.  Tea Party Members.  People under 30 and over 65.  All of them.  And its not close.

You know who else would agree?  Economists.  It's a bill that not only has popular support, but also jibes with the factual reality of the world that actually exists.

2. Rick Perry Understands the Difference Between Left and Right
Not Democrats and Republicans.  The left and the right.

The left fought for health and safety regulations in the workplace, for the weekend, the a minimum wage, for a safety net, for civil rights.

Rick Perry told us this week what the right has fought for.  Rick Perry told us what the moral equivalent to civil rights is for the right wing in the United States.

Corporate tax breaks.

The left fights for people.  Not democrats.  The left.  And the right fights for power.  Not republicans.  The right.

Michele Bachman is willing to consider lowering the minimum wage to compete with overseas sweatshops.  And Marco Rubio, a US Senator from Florida, keep in mind, argues that Medicare makes people weak.  And there's current GOP orthodoxy, as expressed almost daily on Fox News, that the poor don't pay enough taxes.

The right wing looks at this chart:

Chart of the Top Ten Percent Income Share, 1917 - 2008.

...and they say the middle of the 20th century was hell on earth for the US economy.

The right sees that chart and says the defining moral issue of our time is lowering the tax burden on the wealthiest Americans, and squeezing more tax dollars from the poor.

That's the ring wing.  It is how they define themselves.

3. Nobody Visits the Colonel
This is a shot of Sun Life Stadium... while the Marlins-Reds game is going on Wednesday. There are not many fans in the seats - one in attendance counted 347 on hand.

This isn't batting practice.

This is the first pitch of the first game of a doubleheader this week in Miami.

Unofficial reports had attendance at 347.

There are 29 games left; the World Champion Giants are 3 back.  The NY Times had a fairly empty piece this week proposing the idea that the Giants fanbase was...I'm not really sure what the thesis was, I think that Giants fans are unhappy with the team's current performance:

It is the classic rags-to-riches cautionary tale: a boy from the wrong side of the tracks moves to a new city to make it big. After years of struggle, he gets his break: a string of hits, a hot streak and all the perks that follow, including fame, adoring fans and a television show. But, of course, it comes with a price: self-doubt, questionable decisions and the relentless, almost irrational fear of being a flash in the pan.

It's a curious takedown; we've given up more runs that we've scored, if there's "irrational fear" someplace in there I'm missing it.  Over the past two days, we've played 19 innings against the worst team in baseball and have 9 hits.  This week, we led off with Orlando Cabrera's .264 OBP and then Mike Fontenot and his .296 OBP.  My fear is that in baseball history, there's never been a World Champion with two sub .300 OBPs leading off at this point in the season.  If that's irrational, I guess I'm willing to wear it.

Here's the week ahead.

Houston, today, Cain.  Torres returns.  Maybe Romo too.  
3 against the Cubs.  Lincecum/Vogelsong/Bumgarner

You want 3 of those four games.  Arizona's got one more against San Diego and 3 against the Rox.  You really want to gain a game during that 4 game stretch.

Thursday's an off day.  And then the Snakes come to town next weekend.

Fair to anticipate that we skip the 5th starter's spot and lineup Cain/Lincecum/Vogelsong to go against Arizona.  Sweeping is too much to ask, but a series at home requires 2 of 3.  Under that scenario we're one back with 22 left.

Would be helpful if Torres could get on base.

4. Or We Could Bring This Guy Back
Bonds at game.bmp

Barry Bonds caught a foul ball this week.  Probably just to pad his career fielding percentage.

5. At a Public School in Florida
The Christian persecution complex picked up a new martyr in the past couple of weeks.

A public school teacher in Florida posted on his Facebook page that gay marriage was a "cesspool" that made him want to "throw up."

He was reassigned for a week.  The school district got blowback.  He was put back in his original position.

Putting aside the merits of his free speech claim (if the teacher in the classroom next to him wrote "Christian churches are a cesspool that make me want to throw up" on his facebook page, he would lose his position) the story was furthered this week when a portion of the public school teacher's syllabus was revealed:

"I am a man of God and I try to be like Jesus every day. I teach God's truth, I make very few compromises. If you believe you may have a problem with that, get your schedule changed, 'cause I ain't changing!"

Just another day manning the wall between church and state in America.

Presumably, if that hypothetical teacher in the classroom next door had a syllabus reading "There is no God and no empty religious dogma will be taught.  I make very few compromises.  If you believe you may have a problem with that, get your schedule changed" then he also would be safely protected inside his taxpayer funded job.

The next time Fox trots out the "War on Christians" bullshit consider that hypothetical teacher.

6. Also in Public Schools.
Unlike other western countries, 1 in 4 American kids receives no sex education beyond "abstinence only."
Sex Education in Schools

What do you suppose the result is?

 The United States continues to have one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the developed world—more than twice as in Canada (27.9 per 1,000 women aged 15–19 in 2006) or Sweden (31.4 per 1,000).[7]

 Every year, roughly nine million new STIs occur among teens and young adults in the United States. Compared with rates among teens in Canada and Western Europe, rates of gonorrhea and chlamydia among U.S. teens are extremely high.[8,9]

It isn't that American kids have more sex.  It's that sex education, like science education, is held hostage by a particular brand of Know-Nothing religious zealots in the United States.  We'd rather have teen pregnancy than teach kids about condoms.

And we'd rather spend millions of dollars teaching kids the earth is 5000 years old than hire some teachers.

But that's the next story...

7. The Next Story

Kentucky is going to give 43 million dollars in tax incentives for the building of a creationist theme park.

Meanwhile, they've cut the state budget for education at all levels.

America in 2011.

8. It Isn't Just Evangelical Disneyland We Shouldn't Be Building.
I'm sort of a sports fan, as you're aware.

And my football team, the 49ers, have been trying to get public financing for a new stadium for, maybe the past two decades.

As a general rule - you should never, ever, ever vote for public financing of a stadium.

Here's why.

Owners of teams in the “big four” sports leagues—the NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL—have reaped nearly $20 billion in taxpayer subsidies for new homes since 1990. And for just as long, fans, urban planners and economists have argued that building facilities for private sports teams is a massive waste of public money. As University of Chicago economist Allen Sanderson memorably put it, “If you want to inject money into the local economy, it would be better to drop it from a helicopter than invest it in a new ballpark.”

9. Nothing You Didn't Already Know, but Still Worth Reading

Bill Simmons's new site,, has done a terrific job discussing wrestling, of all things.  This week's
piece on Ric Flair doesn't really cover a lot of ground that longtime readers of the Wrestling Observer hadn't already read, but when you put it together, it''s exhausting, is what it is.  Who has the energy to be Ric Flair?

the story is about a man known in the court system as Richard Morgan Fliehr, 62, born in 1949 and adopted by parents who raised him in Minnesota. That's what he was called this past April, when a judge ejected Fliehr from his Charlotte home because he couldn't pay his rent. That's what he was called in May, when he faced an arrest order for an unpaid $35,000 loan. That's what he's called on the paychecks from Total Nonstop Action, a second-tier outfit where he's still compelled to perform despite suffering from alcoholic cardiomyopathy, and where almost everything he earns goes toward old debts: lawyers, ex-wives, the IRS, former business partners, and anyone who made the mistake of lending him money.

The response in TNA offices, presumably, was to high five at the publicity.  "Second tier!  That's only one tier behind the top tier!  Get the fax machine cranked up - we got some press releases to send out!"

I watched 2 four star matches this week, Devitt/Taguchi v. Ibushi/Omega and Nakamura v. Naito, both from New Japan earlier this month.  And I wrote five, count them, five posts in my all time NFL roster series, to which you can get here.

10. I Am the Danger

Jason Bateman is maybe my favorite actor, so I enjoyed The Switch enough to recommend it (it includes a really good response to a marriage proposal "Probably.") but as is almost always the case, the best thing I watched this week was Breaking Bad.

Here's Walter White, sliding safely into delusion:

Let me clue you in.  I am not in danger, Skyler.  I am the danger.  A guy opens his door and gets shot and you think that of me?  No.  I am the one who knocks.  

Depending on which show is airing, I've probably written some variation of "Mad Men/Breaking Bad is the best show on television" a half dozen times in these 91 Tensdown.

Right now, it's Breaking Bad.

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

Your pal,


All Time Cincinnati Bengals 53 Man Roster

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Part of a series.  Previous post is here. Updated through the 2017 season. Here's my all time Bengals roster.

QB Ken Anderson
      Boomer Esiason
      Andy Dalton
      Carson Palmer
RB James Brooks
RB Corey Dillon
      Pete Johnson
      Rudi Johnson
WR Chad Johnson
WR Cris Collinsworth
       AJ Green
       Isaac Curtis
       Eddie Brown
TE Bob Trumpy
     Rodney Holman
C Bob Johnson
G Max Montoya
G Dave Lapham
T Anthony Munoz
T Willie Anderson
   OL Andrew Whitworth
   OL Mike Wilson
   OL Vern Holland
   OL Joe Walter

DE Eddie Edwards
 DL Geno Atkins
DT Tim Krumrie
DE Ross Browner
      DL Carlos Dunlap
      DL Domata Peko
     DL Justin Smith
     DL Michael Johnson
     DL Ron Carpenter
OLB Reggie Williams
ILB Jim LeClair
OLB Al Beauchamp
     LBGlenn Cameron
     LB Vontaze Burfict
     LB Ray Maualuga
     LB James Francis
     LB Brian Simmons
     LB Bill Bergey
CB Ken Riley
S David Fulcher
S Tommy Casanova
CB Lemar Parrish
      DB Louis Breeden
     DB Leon Hall
     DB Reggie Nelson
     DB Darryl Williams
     DB Lewis Billups
PK Shayne Graham
P Pat McInally

All Time Cleveland Browns 53 Man Roster

Friday, August 26, 2011

Updated through the 2017 season. Here's my all time Browns  roster.

QB Otto Graham
       Brian Sipe
       Frank Ryan
       Bernie Kosar
RB Jim Brown
RB Marion Motley
      Leroy Kelly
      Greg Pruitt
      Mike Pruitt
WR Paul Warfield
WR Dante Lavelli
       Ray Renfro
       Gary Collins
TE Ozzie Newsome
     Milt Morin
C Frank Gatski
G Gene Hickerson
G Jim Ray Smith
T Joe Thomas
T Lou Groza
   OL Mike McCormack
   OL Doug Dieken
   OL Dick Schafrath
   OL Cody Risien
DE Len Ford
DT Bob Gain
DT Walter Johnson
DE Paul Wiggin
     DL Don Colo
     DL Michael Dean Perry
     DL Jerry Sherk
     DL Bob Golic
     DL Bill Glass
OLB Clay Matthews
MLB Vince Costello
OLB Walt Michaels
         LB Jim Houston
         LB Galen Fiss
         LB Charlie Hall
         LB Chip Banks
         LB Mike Johnson
         LB D'Quell Jackson
CB Hanford Dixon
S Clarence Scott
S Thom Darden
CB Frank Minnifield
         DB Warren Lahr
         DB Don Paul
         DB Bernie Parrish
         DB Tommy James
         DB Joe Haden
PK Phil Dawson
P Don Cockroft

All Time Pittsburgh Steelers 53 Man Roster

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Part of a series.  Previous post is here. Updated through 2017. Here's my all time Steelers roster.

QB Ben Roethlisberger
       Terry Bradshaw
       Kordell Stewart
RB Franco Harris
RB Jerome Bettis
      Le'Veon Bell
      Rocky Bleier
      Willie Parker
WR John Stallworth
WR Hines Ward
       Antonio Brown
       Lynn Swann
       Louis Lipps
 TE  Heath Miller
      Bennie Cunningham
C Mike Webster
G Alan Faneca
G Sam Davis
T Larry Brown
T Jon Kolb
   OL Maurkice Pouncey
   OL Dermonti Dawson
   OL Tunch Ilkin
   OL Ray Mansfield

DE LC Greenwood
DT Joe Greene
DT Ernie Stautner
DE Aaron Smith
      DL Casey Hampton
      DL Dwight White
      DL Bill McPeak
      DL Brett Keisel
      DL Gary Dunn
OLB Jack Ham
MLB Jack Lambert
OLB Greg Lloyd
     LB Andy Russell
     LB James Farrior
     LB James Harrison
     LB Jason Gildon
     LB Levon Kirkland
     LB Lawrence Timmons
CB Mel Blount
S Troy Polamalu
S Donnie Shell
CB Rod Woodson
    DB Carnell Lake
    DB Jack Butler
    DB Mike Wagner
    DB Glen Edwards
    DB Ike Taylor
PK Gary Anderson
P Bobby Walden

All Time AFC East 45 Man Roster

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Part of a series.  Previous post is here.

QB Dan Marino
      QB Tom Brady
      QB Jim Kelly
RB Thurman Thomas
RB OJ Simpson
      RB Curtis Martin
      RB Freeman McNeil
WR Andre Reed
WR Nat Moore
       WR Stanley Morgan
       WR Mark Duper
TE Rich Caster
     TE Jerome Barkum
C Jim Langer
G John Hannah
G Larry Little
T Richmond Webb
T Bruce Armstrong
    OL Bob Kuechenberg
    OL Matt Light
    OL Winston Hill

DE Bruce Smith
DT Bob Baumhauer
DE Jason Taylor
     DL Fred Smerlas
     DL Mark Gastineau
     DL Joe Klecko
     DL Richard Seymour
OLB Andre Tippett
ILB Zach Thomas
ILB Nick Buoniconti
OLB Cornelius Bennett
    LB Steve Nelson
    LB Tedy Bruschi
    LB Mike Stratton
CB Ray Clayborn
S Jake Scott
S Dick Anderson
CB Mike Haynes
      DB Sam Madison
      DB Ty Law
      DB Lawyer Milloy
      DB Darrelle Revis
PK Adam Vinatieri
P Brian Moorman

QB - I'd be receptive to a Griese over Kelly argument for the third spot; there's really not anyone who would pick different choices for 1-2; Brady's rings don't catch Marino's total value, but five years from now, that might be a different call.  Either Grogan or Ferguson is 5th.

RB - The Juice v. Martin question is close; Juice was clearly better game for game, Martin had a longer career and more total value.  Its the same debate between Juice and Thurman; I split the difference, taking Thurman as the top back, but Simpson as the other starter.  McNeil's pass receiving gets him the last spot over Csonka.

WR - It's a mess; I like Reed, just by a nose, above about a half dozen other guys, all of whom could essentially be ordered in any way one wished.  Maynard/Walker/Clayton are the guys not here but who could be.

TE - I'll take both Jets TE by not much over both NE TE.

OL - Some famous linemen, Stephenson, and the guys from the Bills, don't make the club.  I don't think there's any question at all about the starters.

All Time Miami Dolphins 53 Man Roster

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Part of a series.  Previous post is here. Updated through 2017 season. Here's my all time Dolphins roster.

QB Dan Marino
      QB Bob Griese
      QB Ryan Tannehill
RB Larry Csonka
RB Jim Kiick
      RB Tony Nathan
      RB Mercury Morris
      RB Ricky Williams
WR Nat Moore
WR Mark Duper
      WR Mark Clayton
      WR Paul Warfield
      WR Duriel Harris
TE Randy McMichael
     Bruce Hardy
C Jim Langer
G Larry Little
G Bob Kuechenberg
T Norm Evans
T Richmond Webb
  OL Dwight Stephenson
  OL Ed Newman
  OL Tim Ruddy
  OL Keith Sims

DE Jason Taylor
DT Bob Baumhower
DE Cameron Wake
     DL Bill Stanfill
     DL Tim Bowens
     DL Vern Den Herder
     DL Doug Betters
     DL Manny Fernandez
     DL Jeff Cross
OLB  Larry Gordon
MLB Zach Thomas
MLB Nick Buoniconti
OLB Kim Bokamper
     LB John Offerdahl
     LB AJ Duhe
     LB Bryan Cox
     LB Bob Brudzinski
     LB Doug Swift
CB Sam Madison
S Jake Scott
S Dick Anderson
CB Curtis Johnson
    DB Tim Foley
    DB Glenn Blackwood
    DB Patrick Surtain
    DB Brock Marion
    DB Louis Oliver
PK Olindo Mare
P Brandon Fields

The Weekly Tendown August 14-20 2011

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Dear Internet:

It's Tendown 90.

1. 67-60

This Santiago Casilla plate appearance from last Sunday was the high water mark for the World Champion Giants this week.

We've dropped 16 of 22.  Aaron Rowand (12 million a year) has struck out 23 times since his last walk.

Our closer's going on the DL today.  Our top set up man, who would replace said closer, went on the DL earlier this week.  Our catcher is on the DL; no, not that catcher, the one who has been on the DL all season, but his backup, he went on the DL this week.  Our center fielder, admittedly, who has been bad all year, went on the DL.  This week, we missed games from our second baseman, shortstop, and third baseman.  Our big trade deadline acquisition right fielder is on the DL.  Our fifth starter just came off the DL, pitched 3 innings and got hurt again; his replacement, the guy with the 122 million dollar contract, is on the DL.

We lost two walk off one run games in Atlanta; we've lost twice to the worst team in baseball.

Here's the snapshot of our offense.  By WAR, the unit of aggregate value used by (in this version) Baseball-Reference, our best position player this season has been Sandoval (3.7); our second best has been Schierholtz (1.8) and our third best has been Buster Posey (1.4).  Buster Posey, who got hurt 90 games ago, has been the third most valuable position player on the roster for the World Champions.  It's painful.

There are 35 games left.  We're 2 1/2 out.

You can also skip the second book written about the championship season; it's clumsily written, and wrong on Bonds, wrong on advanced baseball metrics, even wrong on politics.  Those wrongs are in small doses; it's really the laborious writing style that is the larger crime.

2. Atheist Fantasy Football

I play in 3 fantasy leagues each season for each sport; that's been my fantasy workflow for the past handful of years.  For about a year and a half, I've won one league per season, a run that looks to be coming to an end with the current baseball season (I'm in the middle in the AL; I'm second but pretty far behind in the Mixed; I'm in play in the NL, actually, Brian Wilson's going on the DL might hit me there too).  This week, I picked my 3 fantasy football leagues.

I play in $ leagues at CBS Sports; so it's not as if I'm playing with the same group of people each year; largely, my choice of leagues is driven each year by the date/time of the drafts.  The leagues often have themes, so, there will be a league of Dallas Cowboy fans or retired military for example; but usually the descriptions are a more general "Play Hard, Don't Be a 'Tard" kind of thing.

I don't ever care about those descriptions.  I'm busy, I just want drafts that are after the final preseason game, but before Week One, that I can attend.

But this week, I joined a league at a terrible, terrible draft time for me, a draft time that ensures I'm going to get about 4 hours of sleep the night before a workday in a couple of weeks.

I did it because the league described itself as an Atheist Fantasy Football league, which is tremendous.  One assumes the league winner will credit reason, happenstance, and statistically driven decisionmaking for his success.  Amen.

3. Time to Pick a New Phone
CrackBerry's BlackBerry Bold 9900 Review
My phone contract ended almost a year ago now; I've been waiting for the new blackberry to arrive (and trying to find some money).  I'm married to a real keyboard; so my choice is between the new blackberry and the top Android with a real keyboard (probably the Motorola Droid Pro, the comparison between the two is here.).  I'm a longstanding blackberry guy; reviews for the new Bold are good, but the counterweight value of the Droid might push me the other way.   My working plan is to decide at the end of the month.  I'm 51/49 to stay with RIM.

4. I Sat Through a Meeting This Week
In which I was told about the corporate need to "right side."

That's a euphemism for firing people.  Now, I don't know if the corporation for which I work (I teach, but school's just a business model; I may as well be frying cheeseburgers or detailing sneakers) is in the red or the black.  I'd bet you a dollar, however, that it isn't the case that they're losing money; it's the case that they aren't making as much money as they would prefer.

Such is the case with the apparently ending Verizon strike. (Verizon's the carrier with which I'm most likely to make the Blackberry/Motorola decision). Why did the Verizon workers (unionized, unlike me; unlike most of us, which is as much a reason for our living in a Gilded Age as any other) go on strike:

The Verizon Corporation is asking its workforce to accept wage and benefit reductions—despite being a very profitable company. Morgan Stanley’s recent analysis shows Verizon’s net income from ongoing operations was $13.9 billion in 2010, up more than 16 percent from 2007. No wonder Verizon’s stock has outpaced that of the S&P index and other telecommunication’s firms, something Verizon itself brags about in its last annual report. How, then, can Verizon freeze current workers’ pensions and eliminate pensions for new workers? Ask their workers to accept reductions in holidays (to seven), reduced sick pay and the substitution of the current health plan with one having high deductibles and contributions? The unions involved estimate that benefit and wage reductions would total $20,000 per worker each year.

My holidays have been reduced without negotiation.  My health plan has high deductibles and contributions, and the right wing continues to fight tooth and nail to keep it that way, just pouring every ounce of their energy into branding as "Obamacare" a measure that would move us (allow not nearly as much as it should) away from being chained to our corporate masters through threat of taking our medical care away.

What would be better than Obamacare (and survive any Constitutional challenge) is what I called for in the health care debate, Medicare for All.

Here's Robert Reich.

Social Security and Medicare – the nation’s two most popular safety nets – require every working American to “buy” them. The purchase happens automatically in the form of a deduction from everyone’s paychecks.

But because Social Security and Medicare are government programs they don’t feel like mandatory purchases. They’re more like tax payments, which is what they are – payroll taxes.

There’s no question payroll taxes are constitutional, because there’s no doubt that the federal government can tax people in order to finance particular public benefits.

5. Unless You're Rick Perry, And then You Hate Social Security
Do we live in a world where a candidate (the current front runner for the GOP nomination) can survive saying this.

I think every program needs to stand the sunshine of righteous scrutiny. Whether it’s Social Security, whether it’s Medicaid, whether it’s Medicare. You’ve got $115 trillion worth of unfunded liability in those three. They’re bankrupt. They’re a Ponzi scheme. I challenge anybody to stand up and defend the Social Security program that we have today—and particularly defend it to a 27-year-old young man who’s just gotten married and is trying to get his life headed in the right direction economically. I happen to think that the Progressive movement was the beginning of the deterioration of our Constitution from the standpoint of it being abused and misused to do things that Congress wanted to do, and/or the Supreme Court wanted to implement. The New Deal was the launching pad for the Washington largesse as we know it today. And I think we should have a legitimate, honest, national discussion about Washington’s continuing to spend money we don’t have on programs that we don’t need.

The poorest Americans were once the elderly, that changed after Social Security, a program that isn't in danger for another quarter century (look around at the infrastructure of your town, fellow Americans, how many other government programs are safe for 25 more years) but Rick Perry calls it a "Ponzi scheme" and sounding the dog whistle the New John Birchers love to hear, says it was the progressive era (you know, where he got the first health and safety regulations on business in US history) and the New Deal (you know, where we got unemployment insurance and a minimum wage) that put us in the economic hole (as opposed to creating the idea of the American dream).  It's not 30 years of Republican economics - handing money in increasing percentage to the wealthiest Americans, wages of working class Americans, wages of the people in the heartland the right wing takes advantage of, stagnant - their standard of living supported by debt - that's not the cause of the economic collapse.  It's the New Deal.  That's what it is.  It's Social Security.  

The right wing has been fighting the same fight for a hundred years.  Don't pass a minimum wage, it constrains the job creators.  Don't give people social security or unemployment insurance, it reduces the incentive for the worker to produce.  Don't provide for health care for all, it's socialism.  And now they have their own cable news channel, and a Supreme Court decision allowing for anonymous, unlimited corporate funding for elections.  We are bombarded with corporate propaganda that overwhelms the electorate; and a Know-Nothing like Rick Perry, who talks about "holes in evolutionary theory" can be the leading contender to be the Republican nominee.

Perry, response, incidentally, this week, when asked to clarify his stance on social security, was to say he couldn't talk because his mouth was full.

Full of popovers, which are delicious.

6. Every Single Debate
Every single Presidential debate should ask the same question Mitt Romney was asked this week at the Iowa State Fair.

ROMNEY: There are two ways we could go, you can tell me your choice. One is we can keep Social Security –
ATTENDEE: Raise the cap.
ROMNEY: That doesn’t begin to solve the problem.

Because even though Social Security is solvent for a quarter century, healthier than any government program you could name - we'd like to keep it safe longer than that.  And as I've written multiple times, there's an easy fix, raising the ceiling on which income is taxed beyond the first $108,000.  The fair goer here is entirely right, and Romney, the least crazy of the top contenders for the Republican nomination - the least magically minded, the least captive to John Birch 2K - is entirely wrong.

Remember, the Social Security payroll tax applies only to earnings up to a certain ceiling. (That ceiling is now $106,800.) The ceiling rises every year according to a formula roughly matching inflation.
Back in 1983, the ceiling was set so the Social Security payroll tax would hit 90 percent of all wages covered by Social Security. That 90 percent figure was built into the Greenspan Commission's fixes. The Commission assumed that, as the ceiling rose with inflation, the Social Security payroll tax would continue to hit 90 percent of total income.
Today, though, the Social Security payroll tax hits only about 84 percent of total income.
It went from 90 percent to 84 percent because a larger and larger portion of total income has gone to the top. In 1983, the richest 1 percent of Americans got 11.6 percent of total income. Today the top 1 percent takes in more than 20 percent.
If we want to go back to 90 percent, the ceiling on income subject to the Social Security tax would need to be raised to $180,000.
Presto. Social Security's long-term (beyond 26 years from now) problem would be solved.

7. The New Operation Smile

In one of my first Tendowns, I noted that on multiple Bravo reality shows during the same week, there was discussion of Operation Smile, and I wondered about the undisclosed relationship between the organization and Bravo that might have facilitated that type of "product placement."  Operation Smile even responded with a comment, which freaked me out a bit, as I had virtually no readership at that point

(A quick note - last May I installed the pageview counters that you can find on this blog and the Counterfactual, this week, I hit 70,000 combined pageviews between my two blogs in those 15 months, so thanks, and whatnot)

Operation Smile's pretty easily regarded as a universal good, so their inclusion into multiple reality shows simultaneously isn't going to raise too many objections.

But this week - it happened again, on both Style's "Big Rich Texas" and the premiere of Bravo's "Most Eligible Dallas" were storylines uncritically revolving around the HCG starvation diet.

It went unmentioned if this was a cross-program product placement.

Also unmentioned was the recent flood of Dallas based programming.  Not just these two shows, but a CMT show, Texas Women, the next season of Logo's The A-List, which is from Dallas - and the next Top Chef.

The only investigation, of which I'm aware of those five nearly simultaneous reality shows centered in Dallas, focused on Top Chef, which got paid nearly half a million taxpayer dollars to shoot in Dallas.

But my guess is that like Operation Smile (and I'm assuming the HCG diet) nearly a half dozen reality shows branded as coming from Dallas at the same time isn't coincidence.  If we see Rick Perry appearing on any of them, then we can really tie Tendown 90 together.

8. I Write the Stories
I made 4, count them, 4 posts as I try to get through my All Time NFL rosters before Week One.  You can get to all of them through the link.  I also added to the longest piece of continuous single author fan fiction maybe in the history of anything, but certainly the history of sports or sports entertainment, The Counterfactual,  the Spoon Millionaires site got refreshed this week, and now there's a Facebook fan page that you could go ahead and join.

I also changed the name of the blog, as I indicated I might do a couple of weeks ago.  Even as a put on, the "revelation" aspect of the previous name had begun to grate on me, reflecting a level of bravado, of confidence in my own thoughts that I had in 2007 that I just can't access anymore.  I grow old, I grow old, I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled and whatnot.

Also - graps.  Here are the 4 star matches I saw this week:

Two four star matches from Summer Slam:  Christian v. Orton (4 1/4) and Punk v. Cena (4).  And then six from earlier in the year that I caught this week: from Zero One in August, Sekimoto v. Tanaka (4 1/2, so it goes on the Match of the Year list) and Sekimoto v. Sato (4), two from New Japan (from June, Devitt v. Ibushi, 4 stars) and from August Tanahashi v. Makabe (4 stars). And two Roderick Strong matches, his ROH title drop to Eddie Edwards in May (4 stars) and a June Noah match against Kotaro (who might be the Wrestler of the Year) that one was 4 1/4 stars.

9.  Some Reading for the Week.

An oral history of the Dana Carvey show.

Chuck Klosterman's glowing review of Louie CK's show.

And this compilation of the rankings of the Coen Brothers movies.

I've done mine in a previous Tendown.  Here would be my revised list.

1. Raising Arizona
2. No Country for Old Men
3. Fargo
4. Blood Simple
5. Miller's Crossing
6. Barton Fink
7. A Serious Man
8. The Big Lebowski
9. Burn After Reading
10. O Brother Where Art Thou
11. True Grit
12. The Man Who Wasn't There
13. The Hudsucker Proxy
14. Intolerable Cruelty
15. Ladykillers

10. And Finally...

I want to end Tendown 90 with the one thing that most matters.  It's this:

You ask Americans how they think wealth should be distributed in our country, and you get the third bar.

You ask Americans how they think wealth is actually distributed in our country, and you get the second bar.

The first bar is how wealth is actually distributed in our country.

If you ask me (1) what's the most important reason for the Great Depression (2) what's the most important reason for the fall of the Roman Empire (3) what's the most important political issue in the United States today:

My answer is the same.  Extreme variance in wealth distribution.  An insufficient percentage of wealth in the hands of workers/consumers.

This is that.  That is us.  And the right wing says our current condition is socialism.  And any attempt even to discuss it is socialism.

They're stealing your money.  Don't let them.

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

Your pal,


All Time New York Jets 53 Man Roster

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Part of a series.  Previous post is here. Updated through 2017. Here's my all time Jets roster.

QB Joe Namath
      QB Ken O'Brien
      QB Richard Todd
RB Curtis Martin
RB Freeman McNeil
      RB Emerson Boozer
      RB Matt Snell
      RB John Riggins
WR Don Maynard
WR Wes Walker
       WR Al Toon
       WR Wayne Chrebet
       WR George Sauer
 TE Rich Caster
     TE Jerome Barkum
C Joe Fields
G Randy Rasmussen
G Dan Alexander
T Winston Hill
T Marvin Powell
     OL Kevin Mawae
     OL Nick Mangold
     OL Jim Sweeney
     OL D'Brickashaw Ferguson

DE Mark Gastineau
DT Marty Lyons
DL Muhammad Wilkerson
      DE Joe Klecko
      DL Calvin Pace
      DL Shaun Ellis
      DL Gerry Philbin
      DL Verlon Biggs
      DL Bryan Thomas
OLB Larry Grantham
ILB David Harris
ILB Kyle Clifton
OLB Mo Lewis
     LB Ralph Baker
     LB Marvin Jones
     LB Al Atkinson
     LB Lance Mehl
     LB Greg Buttle
CB Darrelle Revis
S Victor Green
S Burgess Owens
CB Aaron Glenn
     DB James Hasty
     DB Bobby Jackson
     DB Kerry Rhodes
     DB Bill Baird
     DB Darrol Ray
PK Pat Leahy
P Curley Johnson

All Time Buffalo Bills 53 Man Roster

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Part of a series.  Previous post is here. Updated through the 2017 season. Here's my all time Bills roster.

QB Jim Kelly
     QB Joe Ferguson
     QB Jack Kemp
RB Thurman Thomas
RB OJ Simpson
     RB Joe Cribbs
     RB Cookie Gilchrist
     RB Fred Jackson
WR Andre Reed
WR Eric Moulds
      WR Lee Evans
      WR Frank Lewis
      WR Elbert Dubenion
TE Pete Metzelaars
     TE Jay Riemersma
C Kent Hull
G Joe DeLamielleure
G Reggie McKenzie
T Joe Devlin
T John Fina
   OL Ruben Brown
   OL Jim Ritcher
   OL Billy Shaw
   OL Wil Wolford

DE Bruce Smith
DT Fred Smerlas
DT Kyle Williams
DE Aaron Schobel
      DL Tom Stesak
      DL Phil Hansen
      DL Jim Dunaway
      DL Ron McDole
      DL Ted Washington
OLB Mike Stratton
MLB Shane Conlan
OLB Cornelius Bennett
     LB Darryl Talley
     LB Lucius Sanford
     LB Jim Haslett
     LB London Fletcher
     LB John Tracey
     LB Harry Jacobs
CB Butch Byrd
S Henry Jones
S Steve Freeman
CB Charles Romes
     DB George Saimes
     DB Tony Greene
     DB Nate Odoms
     DB Terrence McGee
     DB Mario Clark
PK Rian Lindell
P Brian Moorman

All Time New England Patriots 53 Man Roster

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Part of a series.  Previous post is here. Updated through 2017 season.  Here's my all time Patriots roster.

QB Tom Brady
       QB Steve Grogan
       QB Drew Bledsoe
       QB Babe Parilli
RB Sam Cunningham
RB Kevin Faulk
       RB Tony Collins
       RB Jim Nance
WR Stanley Morgan
WR Wes Welker
       WR Troy Brown
       WR Randy Moss
       WR Jim Colclough
TE Rob Gronkowski
     TE Ben Coates
C Jon Morris
G John Hannah
G Logan Mankins
T Matt Light
T Bruce Armstrong
   OLNate Solder
   OL Tom Neville
   OL Dan Koppen
   OL Sebastian Vollmer

DE Richard Seymour
DT Vince Wilfork
DE Willie McGinest
     DL Houston Antwine
     DL Julius Adams
     DL Jim Hunt
     DE Bob Dee
     DE Larry Eisenhauer
     DL Rob Ninkovich
OLB Andre Tippett
ILB Steve Nelson
ILB Tedy Bruschi
OLB Mike Vrabel
      LB Nick Buoniconti
      LB Jerod Mayo
      LB Vincent Brown
      LB Ted Johnson
      LB Tom Addison
CB Ray Clayborn
S Lawyer Milloy
S Roland James
CB Mike Haynes
      DB Ty Law
      DB Devin McCourty
      DB Fred Marion
      DB Ronnie Lippett
      DB Tim Fox
PK Stephen Gostkowski
P Rich Camarillo

All Time AFC West 45 Man Roster

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Part of a series.  Previous post is here.

QB John Elway
      Dan Fouts
      Len Dawson
RB Ladainian Tomlinson
RB Marcus Allen
      Terrell Davis
      Priest Holmes    
WR Tim Brown
        Fred Biletnikoff
       Rod Smith
       Cliff Branch
TE Tony Gonzalez
      Antonio Gates
C Jim Otto
G Gene Upshaw
G Will Shields
T Art Shell
T Jim Tyrer
    OL Steve Wisniewski
    OL Tom Nalen
    OL Russ Washington

DE Howie Long
DT Buck Buchanan
DE Neil Smith
      DL Jerry Mays
      DL Leslie O'Neal
      DL Rubin Carter
      DL Gary Johnson
OLB Junior Seau
ILB Willie Lanier
ILB Randy Gradishar
OLB Bobby Bell
      LB Derrick Thomas
      LB Tom Jackson
      LB Ted Hendricks
CB Willie Brown
S Johnny Robinson
S Steve Atwater
CB Louis Wright
      DB Emmitt Thomas
      DB Bill Thompson
      DB Lester Hayes
      DB Deron Cherry
PK Jason Elam
P Ray Guy

QB - You'd put Rivers ahead of Stabler for 4-5, if not today than after one more season.
RB  - Holmes per game value sneaks him ahead of Little.  The order of the top four is pretty clear.
WR - Joiner gets nicked by Branch; Smith has an argument for the 2nd starting spot.
TE - A rare division where you'd take a third TE (Sharpe) over the 4th WR.  How about Kellen Winslow being the 4th best TE in the division?  How about Dave Casper being the 7th?

The Weekly Tendown, Special I Go to a Baseball Game Edition, August 7-13 2011

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Dear Internet:

Tendown 89=The week I went to the baseball game.  Let's see how that turned out.

1. My Miami History
Friday night, the World Champion San Francisco Giants came to Miami for the first time this season.

I've never attended a baseball game played by the World Champion Giants; considering that I'm 40, there's a not unrealistic possibility that's an occasion that will never occur again.

We're in Miami three days this season; my schedule is such that I could have attended only one of those games - it turned into a coin flip between the first game of the series and the second.

Here's the result of the second game:

MIAMI -- In need of a dominant pitching performance after having lost 11 of 14 games with a struggling offense, San Francisco turned to its two-time Cy Young Award winner.
Tim Lincecum didn't disappoint Saturday night, tossing seven innings of two-hit ball as the Giants beat the Marlins, 3-0, in front of 25,013 at Sun Life Stadium.
Lincecum (11-9), who struck out 10 and threw 119 pitches in his seven innings, improved to 2-0 in his career against Florida, and snapped the Giants' five-game losing streak to the Marlins, dating back to last season.
That's our potential Hall of Famer striking out 10 guys as we whipped the Marlins.

So, I could have gone to that game.

Or I could have gone the night before:

MIAMI -- Matt Cain allowed just two runs over six innings, but Pablo Sandoval's solo homer was the only offense for the Giants as they lost to the Marlins, 2-1, Friday night at Sun Life Stadium.

So, you've been reading me for awhile.  It's Tendown 89 after all.  Which one do you suppose I chose?

Here's a reminder of Jim Jividen's history watching the Giants play in Miami.

1. September 30, 1997 was 5 days after my 27th birthday and Game One of the NLDS.  It was our first postseason game since the Earthquake World Series sweep by the A's and my first ever playoff game seen in person. We got 4 hit, but took a 1-0 lead with a Bill Mueller homer to lead off the top of the 7th.  At that point, a group of fans a few rows behind began to throw popcorn at me as I cheered.  Our win probability after Barry followed with a double was 70%, but we stranded him there; the Marlins tied it in their half of the inning and in the bottom of the 9th, with 2 outs and the bases loaded, future Giant Edgar Renteria singled to walk us off.  Thanks Roberto Hernandez!

2. October 1, 1997 was the next night; I got stuck sitting behind the Marlins bullpen, got heckled all night, and was in a shoving match in the parking lot after the game.  We scored runs in each of the first 4 innings, Barry doubled twice, but were still down 6-5 going to the 9th inning when two errors and a single tied the game.  In the bottom of the ninth, future Giant Moises Alou singled to walk us off.  Thanks Roberto Hernandez

3. October 3, 2003 - a half dozen years later I sat with my mother behind the Giants bullpen for Game 3 of the NLDS and saw us tie the game at 2-2 in the 6th, then leave 2 on in the 7th, leave a runner at second in the 8th, leave them on the corners in the 9th, leave two on in the 10th, take a 3-2 lead in the 11th, but leave men on 2nd and 3rd, having a 90% to win the game, and then Jose Cruz dropped that fly ball in the bottom of the inning - I felt like I was the only one in the stadium looking dead at him the whole way; you know how on a routine play your eyes can leave the ball - for whatever reason I looked the ball into...and out of Cruz's glove, and felt like I was a split second ahead of the entire stadium in recognizing what had happened.  With the bases loaded and 2 out, Pudge Rodriguez hit a 2 run single to walk us off.  That walk up the aisle and out of the stadium was among the longest of my life.  Thanks Roberto Hernandez! (Roberto Hernandez was long gone, but I hold a grudge).  The Marlins are doing a fan vote for their 10 greatest moments to commemorate their move to the new ballpark; during the game I attended this week, they showed one of those moments on the big screen.  It was the Rodriguez single - the second the clip started, I turned to my mom, "that's the Jose Cruz game."  She pointed down the third base line behind our bullpen "we sat right down there."

4.  October 4, 2003 - This was on the MLB Network list of the greatest games of the TV era; we were down 5-1 the next night after 4 when Jerome Williams (we started Jerome Williams in an elimination game?) got bombed.  We got them all back in the 6th, and took that 5-5 tie into the bottom of the 8th when Felix Rodriguez, just a year after his role in our blowing a 5 run Game 6 World Series lead, gave up two to put us down 7-5 going to the 9th.  We quickly cut it in half, and had the tying run on with no one out in the 9th - two outs and a hit batsman later, JT Snow got thrown out at the plate trying to score on a base hit, maybe the only postseason series ever to end on a home plate collision.  It was the last game I ever got to see with my dad; on the way home, I said we were never going to win the World Series.

So - which game did I go see this weekend?  The 3-0 shutout win where Lincecum struck out 10 - or the 2-1 loss where what would have been a game tying Cody Ross double/maybe triple off the wall turned into a 9th inning out caught by a sprawling Marlin backup outfielder?

2. The Jinx

Florida Marlins' center fielder Dewayne Wise falls down but catches Cody Ross' deep fly ball in the ninth inning in the game against the San Francisco Giants at Sun Life Stadium on August 12,2011.It was the game saving play with a runner on first. (Joe Rimkus Jr.
/ Miami Herald)

Yeah, I picked the wrong one.

3. I Did See an MLB Record, However

In the history of Major League Baseball, no team had ever hit more than 19 consecutive solo home runs.

Until Friday night - that's Pablo Sandoval about to touch home plate after breaking the record in the first inning.  I was there.  It's a weird little record to have seen, but there have been almost 200,000 major league baseball games, and I took a picture of a thing which had never before happened.  I was with my mom; we had terrific seats in an almost entirely all-Giants fan section (like a Little Burlingame) parallel to the third base bag behind the visitors dugout.  I almost didn't go, as I had a fairly nasty cold I had been medicating myself through to get through the workweek (my workweek never ends, when I'm not physically in class, I'm working at home, but Wednesday/Thursday was when I was both at my sickest and my busiest, so it was touch and go for awhile if I was going to make the trip south to Miami.  I'm about an hour and a half from the park.)  I saw more Giants jerseys than Marlins jerseys Friday night; part of that is availability bias, most of my exposure came to the fans nearest me - but part of it is an observation that having won a World Series, having had a Showtime reality show, and having our closer nearing the crossover into hitting the cultural awareness of casual fans, mine is now a team that travels a little bit.

Of those Giants jerseys, I didn't see a single #25, which depressed me.  I would have worn mine, but it doesn't really fit so well these days, which depressed me more.

4. Celebrity Sightings
At the Saturday game (the one we won, the one I didn't go to) was Dan Marino, one of the greatest quarterbacks who ever lived.


Who did I see at my game Friday night?

Former professional wrestler Tatanka.  Apparently Duke the Dumpster Droese chose to attend the Saturday game.

Additionally, I watched graps this week.  5 four star matches: Taguchi v. Ibushi from New Japan in August (4 1/4), from PWG in May Edwards v. Shelley (4 1/4),  Edwards v. Generico (4), Tozawa v. Hero (4 1/4), and Generico/Ricochet v. Steen/Tozawa (4 1/2 - which puts it in the running for Match of the Year).

5. What's This White Thing on my Pants?

That's my right knee.  Baseball's messy.

6. Kids Make Me Think of Death
Baseball's also filled with kids.

Now, here's the thing, I almost never see kids, except in the most fleeting of circumstance.  3 some odd hours surrounded by kids behaving like kids - just never.  It's been years since I've spent as much concentrated time around children as I did on Friday.

All I thought about was dying; these are people created to replace me; they exist utterly absent any of my thoughts; my existence as a living thing is thoroughly unimportant to them.  They're newer models, with three+ decades less of wear and tear and white stuff.  If you were to ask, "what's the percentage of time Jim spent at the ballpark Friday night thinking about his own death" the answer would be about 37%.

7. The Rest of the Time, I Thought About Foul Balls

Among the lesser voiced differences between the experience of watching a baseball game on a device and attending a baseball game is the amount of time spent thinking about foul balls.  On TV, a foul ball is forgotten the second its clearly out of play, in the ballpark, you watch it all the way - how close is it to me, how hard was it it, do I have a chance to catch it, will it hurt me, will anyone catch it, will it hurt anyone is in my head after almost every single ball hit out of play.  I thought about how I'm unaware of anyone seriously being hurt at any game I ever attended, and how weird it would be if someone had to be stretchered out from a foul ball.  Then I thought about the guy who died in Texas earlier this year and how the game continued and how unsettling that would be, probably for the rest of my life, were that to happen tonight - and I wondered about those kids all around, and to what extent they'd internalize if something like that happened - and how quickly the trajectory of your entire life can change because of the trajectory of a baseball thats entirely unrelated to you save for a decision to go to a Friday game instead of a Saturday game.  I thought about Owen Hart, a wrestler significantly better than Tatanka, dying in the ring in Kansas City, and that show continuing, and what that meant to everyone there that night.

I mentioned a much abbreviated version of this to my mother in between innings, she said she and dad had this same conversation once (although presumably without the inference regarding Tatanka's lack of workrate) and that she never once thought about foul balls, because she always figured she was with someone who would keep them from hitting her.

I didn't mention that her confidence is almost certainly misplaced.  I keep score during the game, so not only  am I holding paper (specifically, a legal pad), a pen, a folder on which to write, but, for the first time I can recall, I held my phone in my hand the entire game, in order to BBM my Ladygal, who also had a ticket, but her cold (a cold which I gave her) was, by Friday evening, worse than mine.  Much of the difficulty in deciding to go was in deciding her status, and then if I would leave her at home, as opposed to staying there and leaving my mother without someone with whom to go to the game, and theoretically protect her from foul balls that almost certainly would all get by me given how many items I had in my hands and that mysterious white spot on my knee.

Baseball's messy.

I also used the phone to take pictures.  Such as of said legal pad on which I was keeping score.

The one note in the margin is where I wrote "big spot" in the third inning as Huff stepped in with the bases loaded and two out.  He popped up and we didn't have another runner reach scoring position the rest of the game.  Whose name you won't see on that scoresheet is Brandon Belt's, but he got called up the next day and is in the lineup for the game to be played today (or that is currently being played today and soon I'll be able to watch it).  He needs to hit and hit quickly so that there won't be an excuse to get him out of the lineup.  Sandoval/Beltran/Belt is a reasonable middle of the order for a team down the stretch.  Our disinclination to stick him in the lineup has already cost us baseball games this season.

8. I Did Other Things This Week, Like Post Every Day
Here are the top 10 Players not in the NFL Hall of Fame, my Preseason college football top 25, the latest in my series of all time NFL rosters, my look at the top 5 players in baseball at each position through the first 120 games, and my preview of Summer Slam 2011.

9. Nor Did I Ignore the Outside World.
Here's the one political piece I've got for you this week.

How much do you think Rick Scott, who spent over 70 million dollars of his own money to become Governor of Florida and has spent his time in office cutting social services, pays for health care?

30 bucks a month.   I work paycheck to paycheck.  I feel ashamed about it; to be 40 years old with 2 jobs that will soon become 4, 2 graduate degrees, a Bar Association membership, with no children, and having worked for the past 8 years as a full time professor at the same college - but it's absolutely true; were there to be an error on the 15th of this month and I would fail to get my direct deposit, my rent check would bounce.

I pay over 200 bucks a month more in health insurance than does the multi-millionaire, hundreds-millionaire governor of this state who is governing on fiscal responsibility and belt tightening and the need to cut government spending to the bone.  Except for his personal health insurance subsidy.  Don't listen to the right wing when they say they want smaller government.  They want every last drop of government they can get to work entirely on their behalf. The right wing is the machine against which you might consider raging one day, you kids at the baseball games this weekend. Don't ever forget that.

10. Mullin.

Congratulations to Chris Mullin, the second greatest Golden St. Warrior of all time, for his induction to the Basketball Hall of Fame this week.

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

Your pal,


120 Games Played

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Approximately 40 games left in the baseball season, here are the top 5 players at each position in each league to date.

C Avila, Napoli, Santana, Martin, Wieters
1B Gonzalez, Konerko, Cabrera, Teixeira, Kotchman
2B Pedroia, Zobrist, Kinsler, Kendrick, Cano
SS Peralta, Cabrera, Ryan, Hardy, Escobar
3B Beltre, Youkilis, Callaspo, Longoria, Rodriguez
LF Gordon, Gardner, Boesch, Fuld, Hamilton
CF Ellsbury, Granderson, Jones, Upton, Crisp
RF Bautista (MVP), Swisher, Cruz, Cuddyer, Joyce
P Weaver (Cy), Verlander, Sabathia, Romero, Beckett, Haren

C McCann, Montero, Hernandez, Ruiz, Molina
1B Fielder, Votto, Howard, Morse, Helton
2B Weeks, Phillips, Utley, Espinosa, Infante
SS Tulowitzki (MVP), Reyes, Rollins, Bartlett, Bonifacio
3B Sandoval (hey, a Giant), Headley, Ramirez, Roberts, Freese
LF Braun, Holliday, Parra, Bay, Gonzalez
CF Kemp, McCutcheon, Victorino, Bourn, Maybin
RF Upton, Stanton, Ethier, Pence, Berkman
P Hamels (Cy), Halladay, Lee, Kershaw, Lincecum

Summer Slam 2011 Preview/Top 10 Matches in Summer Slam History

Friday, August 12, 2011

Summer Slam was born in late August, 1988, just a matter of days before 17 year old Jim Jividen moved into the all male dorm (you had to sneak in overnight female guests; the television in my room got one channel; we had community sausage fest showers; our assigned parking was on the other side of campus; I have very few good things to say about my choice of college) at Ohio Northern University that I'd share with my fellow entering freshmen.  Included in that group was Kirk Hiner, with whom I'd collaborate on multiple projects for the better part of the next quarter century.

Among those projects included our breaking into Kirk's frat house during summers to watch WWF programming.  It seemed like the thing to do at the time.

For almost 15 years now, I've been Kirk's primary contact with the goings on in professional wrestling; that once meant phone call match results recapping PPVs watched on squigglevision, and now it means quarterly previews of the "big 4" WWE supercards. You could get to my Wrestlemania 27 preview here.

Summer Slam 2011 is Sunday from LA.  It's a curious card.

-When last we left, The Miz was your WWE Champion, keeping against Cena in a crappy Wrestlemania main event; unsurprisingly, Cena wound up with the belt anyway, taking in the May PPV.

Then came the promo.

So, maybe you've heard, CM Punk cut a promo on RAW.  It wasn't unprecedented, Paul Heyman and Joey Styles had both cut similar "we like wrestling, not sports entertainment" promos in years previous, but this one hit the jetstream, and turned CM Punk from underground fave to (perhaps temporary) wrestling phenomenon.

This set up Punk challenging for the belt at the July PPV, on what was ostensibly the last day of his contract (like the promo itself, enough shooty-real that it had the veneer of credibility) in a show usefully in Punk's hometown, Chicago.  The guts of the Punk thing relies on the enthusiasm of the fans that WWE most actively dislikes, fans like me, and what fans like me know and what WWE relied on is that Punk's got an association with Chicago, built by years of independent wrestling storylines, like a Hart has with Calgary.

And that gave us the best atmosphere WWE has had for a PPV maybe since the top of Hogan's return (maybe longer, what it felt like was the Canadian Stampede show, or Van Dam/Edge at One Night Stand) and the best WWE match since Michaels/Angle at 21, with Punk taking the title from Cena and quitting the company.

Who became WWE Champ?  Rey - they had a quick tournament, Rey went over - and then Rey dropped to, wait for it, Cena.

Punk returned to WWE, and in a match set up by Hunter (as Vince was storyline fired in what is thought to be a precursor of Hunter's eventually taking the real life wheel) they meet at Summer Slam to unify the disputed title.

Punk's continued the shoot style promo gimmick, the anti-establishment figure against Cena, the corporate creation.  Cena's been a Hogan-like face of the company for years, popular largely with children, and if one feels alienated by a homogenized, corporatized "we don't like wrestling, wrestlers, or wrestling fans" WWE, the face of that product has been Cena's.

And he still punches like a girl.

The most recently ended decade is my favorite ever for US wrestling, the hegemony of WWF absorbing both WCW and ECW at the turn of the century led to a real resurgent independent wrestling movement that turned to high quality wrestling matches as its differentiation from WWE.  In the way that ECW said "we're not WWF" in the 90s by ratcheting up the violence, Ring of Honor did the same in the 2000s but with nearfalls.

Punk's one of the core figures of that movement, and his current character voices much of the indie leitmotif.  In the same July PPV where Punk took the belt there was another 4 star match, a Money In the Bank Match won by Bryan Danielson, who has been the singular standout performer in the 21st century independent wrestling movement, who has what appears to be a real world anti-corporate ethos that might fit snuggly in a street protest, and who, just a year ago, cut a similar "I'm a wrestler, dammit" promo himself.  They don't need to tether Danielson to the Punk angle (although were it to expand to a stable, they should) but its important to put a new foot forward if there are going to be different eyes watching the product.  Were I a lapsed wrestling fan, with not a lot of knowledge of styles of wrestling superior to WWE, some high level Danielson matches right now would really be appealing to me - particularly if he were framed as being particularly skilled.  I learned Mr. Perfect was a good wrestler because they told me he was; WWF was able to explain to me that the Intercontinental title matches were where I could go to get workrate, even when I had no idea what workrate meant.  They could do that now; while Punk fights the corporate machinery at the top of the card, Danielson could be underneath, having the best 15 minute match every single night and allowing young fans the education that appealed to me.  17 year old Jim Jividen moving into that dorm room still liked Hulk Hogan,  but who I most wanted to see in Summer Slam '88 was the Hart Foundation, as the idea that even though Hogan was a bigger star, Bret Hart was a better wrestler, was an idea I enjoyed having in 1988; it gave me the ability to think I was onto something, that I understood something, and there's no reason why John Cena fans can't enjoy wrestling in that way too.

This should be a good match, Alberto del Rio isn't on the card and he has a Money in the Bank briefcase; the bet here is that Hunter works del Rio into winning the title by night's end, screwing whomever wins the Cena/Punk match in a way that keeps them both as babyfaces.

(Edit - I got it right; 4 stars for the match, which given the pedestrian opening mat work and the mildly screwy finish is on the low end of 4 stars, but just can't be considered any kind of disappointment.  Moreover, I got Del Rio right, who is your new champ - and if you're going to do that booking as opposed to playing it straight - it was done particularly deftly.  Punk thought he was getting slow counted throughout the match, and there was maybe a fast count favoring Cena - but you'd probably side with Hunter on all of those issues.  Then Cena's foot on the ropes was overlooked, but that happens sometimes, and you might say Hunter just missed it as opposed to missing it intentionally.  The most likely construction of the Nash run in is it was set up to give Hunter deniability; unlike Vince, who wanted to be standing at ringside when he screwed Bret, to look Bret in the eye so he'd know he had been strongarmed - Hunter's swerve was more nuanced - he not only counted the fall for Punk, but did it when Cena's foot was on the ropes.  Who could possibly say Hunter screwed Punk on those facts?  Probably we're building to Punk/Hunter, and they've given themselves a way to get there.  It's good use of Nash, who could be made use of as on camera (just not in ring beyond once a year) talent.)

When last we left, Edge kept the Smackdown Title in a good Mania opener over Del Rio.  He retired the next week (legit) due to injury; his longtime partner (no longer storyline brother) Christian beat Del Rio in a match for the vacant belt, and he immediately then dropped to Orton.  That led to Christian turning heel, out of frustration at being held down by same mindset "he's just not a main eventer - now that Randy Orton, that's a main eventer!" that is being fought against in the big angle.  Christian took at that same July PPV, by DQ, in a stip that allowed a belt switch in the event of said finish, and here we are.  The Punk angle has blotted out the sun, really casting a shadow over the entire company and relegating the Smackdown belt to secondary status (well, it's always been secondary - maybe it's tertiary now that there are 2 RAW belts) but every match these two have had has been good (Christian is as good at wrestling WWE style as is anyone; that sounds like damning with faint praise, it's not - I'm a big Christian mark even though he's not one of the hundred best wrestlers in the world) and this will be good also.  I assume Orton gets it back.

(Edit - Match of the night, 4 1/4, it's been a particularly strong year for WWE workrate, I think this might be the second best WWE MOTY.  Orton went over in a good garbage match.)
This will be short.  Henry is now a heel, doing a monster gimmick, and maybe he challenges Orton next.  Sheamus has, I guess, turned face.  I like Sheamus.  It's unlikely this will be good.

(There's a body of opinion for a few years that Henry is a good worker; I don't think I've ever seen a 3 star Mark Henry singles match.  This wasn't the first.)

AND THAT'S IT. (Edit - Not any more, they've added DANIEL BRYAN V. WADE BARRETT; the program is Barrett's angry that a "nerd" like Bryan, as that's the way he's framed, has the money in the bank briefcase.  Barrett's just okay, so this isn't ideal, but will still be good)

(Barrett went over Danielson, 3 1/4, a good match the crowd didn't care about; and they added a six man opener that I thought was 3 stars also.  That's 2 four star matches and 2 three star matches.  A very successful Summer Slam). 

Kirk Hiner:  Dude, that's 4 matches.  It's Summer Slam, how are there only four matches?

Me: Yeah, I don't know.  I mean, I assume there will be a Del Rio cashing in the money in the bank briefcase match at the end, and maybe they throw on one more match in the undercard - but even after the Smackdown tapings, this is it.  4 matches, and two them will be short or at least should be.

(Yes, the Counterfactual is completely screwed if they do it like this.  Yes, it has occurred to me that's intentional.  Yes.)

It's possible that either of the two title matches might bust into this group.  The 10 Best Matches in Summer Slam history:

1. Bret Hart d. Owen Hart (94)

2. Davey Boy Smith d. Bret Hart (92)

3. Edge/Christian d. Hardys/Dudleys  (00)

4. Shawn Michaels d. Razor Ramon (95)

5. CM Punk d. Jeff Hardy (09)

6. Bret Hart d. Mr. Perfect (91)

(I'm slotting Orton/Christian right here).
7. Undertaker d. Edge  (08)

(I'm slotting Punk/Cena here).
8. Brainbusters d. Hart Foundation  (89)

9. Chris Benoit d. Chris Jericho (00)

10. Shawn Michaels d. Vader  (96) 

That's it.  Graps!

Blogger Template created by Just Blog It