The Occasional Tendown September 30-October 13 2012

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Dear Internet:

Every time I type the name Pettitte I always think I'm putting in too many T's.

Guess what name I'm never concerned about misspelling?  Good work TBS.

141 is here..  This is Tendown 142

1. Back in the NLCS

The Giants were dead a week ago and now they're not - the Cardinals were dead just a couple of days ago and now they're not.

I don't think we're going to win this series; the Cards as I discussed here, had a better pythagorean record than did SFG, and out of 107 World Series winners only 11 had pythagorean records as low as this year's Giants club.

I teach a course at the new gig with a textbook that really should be called "On the Other Hand" as each theory is essentially presented with a stream of qualifiers.  That doesn't bother me; it's good scholarship but can irritate students who just want to hear "this is the right theory, this theory sucks."

So, the Cards are better than the Giants and teams as bad as the Giants rarely win the World Series; on the other hand, 5 of those 11 teams with comparable pythagorean records won the Series this century (including both of those Cardinals winners), as the expansion of the playoffs bring in a larger pool of teams and demonstrate that the best team really doesn't necessarily come out of a short series.

The piece of analysis I'm most comfortable making is the Giants are intentionally going into battle with a suboptimum roster.  Which, you know, should draw more attention than it has.

The Nationals went into the playoffs with less than their best possible roster; the narrative through which the DC season will always be remembered is the much criticized decision to shut down Strasburg; I thought conventional wisdom was right - the reason to protect Strasburg as an asset is the belief that he will be able to get you to the World Series.  And that's where they were this year; this was the year they needed that asset. It's one thing to have investment property, but if you need a house today just move in.

The Nationals made a conscious decision to be less good than they could have been; it was and will remain and much debated decision.

Melky Cabrera was the Giants second most valuable player this year; I'm not prorating that; even given his missing the last quarter of the season Cabrera was only behind Posey for season long value.

He's healthy - he wants to play - and he's not coming back.

And there's almost no discussion about it; the Giants are going into the NLCS with very little corner outfield production (Blanco producing solidly more than Pence - Hunter Pence has given us virtually nothing; I know he cheerleads and I think it's fun too, but what we need are more extra base hits) and an absolute zero sitting on the bench in Aubrey Huff - but yet they are choosing to keep their second best player at home.

And there's almost no discussion about it.  It's a little infuriating; Andy Pettitte (confessed PED user) started Game One for the Yankees, there was no outcry - Ryan Braun (failed a drug test last year, beat it only on a chain of custody technicality) was again one of the five best players in the NL this year, there was no outcry. Guillermo Mota, who came off a hundred game PED suspension this very season and is sitting (hopefully in the very back) of the Giants bullpen right now and there is no outcry.

I'm unsure what the Giants think will happen if Melky Cabrera replaces Aubrey Huff on the NLCS roster.

I'm unsure if we will lose without him (I think we will, but it's like 55/45). I'm unsure if we would win with him, but what I am absolutely certain about is Melky Cabrera is a better baseball player than Aubrey Huff, and that means we are intentionally going into the NLCS with less than our best possible roster.

2. The History of the SFG in the NLCS.
Here's the short version:

'71 - lost to Pirates
'87 - lost to Cardinals
'89 - beat Cardinals
'02- beat Cardinals
'10-beat Phillies

Or you could read the long version.

3. Would You Like to Watch Some Videos of Game 5?
They're here.

4. Would You Like to See Willie Mays (er, apparently it's Mayes?) in a 49ers cap?

The guy in the middle, if you're unfamiliar, is the owner of the San Francisco 49ers.  Just in case you were feeling insufficiently old today.

5. Do You Know Who This is?

It's David Siegel.  He used to be a billionaire; now he has less than that as his attempt to build a 90,000 square foot house was subject of a documentary this year.  This week he sent his employees an email threatening to fire them if Romney doesn't win the election:

Business is at the heart of America and always has been. To restart it, you must stimulate business, not kill it. However, the power brokers in Washington believe redistributing wealth is the essential driver of the American economic engine. Nothing could be further from the truth and this is the type of change they want.
So where am I going with all this? It's quite simple. If any new taxes are levied on me, or my company, as our current President plans, I will have no choice but to reduce the size of this company. Rather than grow this company I will be forced to cut back. This means fewer jobs, less benefits and certainly less opportunity for everyone.

I'm going to say this is more common than we think; my previous position was at a for profit college, and for about a year every mandatory faculty meeting I attended included criticism from my boss about the policies of the current administration and how they would negatively impact our industry broadly and possibly our positions specifically.  I have been a professional for nearly two decades and have attended meetings through Clinton's second term and Bush's full 8 years - it was not until the current administration that I ever sat in compulsory meetings and heard people for whom I work threaten the security of my job given the outcome of elections.

Here's a second example. And a third.

6. If You Ever Get to Ask Justice Scalia a Question
I've got one for you.

So, here was Scalia talking about some of the controversial, justiciable, issues of the day:

"The death penalty? Give me a break. It's easy. Abortion? Absolutely easy. Nobody ever thought the Constitution prevented restrictions on abortion. Homosexual sodomy? Come on. For 200 years, it was criminal in every state," Scalia said at the American Enterprise Institute.

To whatever extent this got any traction, it was centered just on Scalia discussing cases that may come before him, before they come before him.  That's worth talking about, but it's not my angle.

What I want to talk about is the substance; Scalia's saying look - it can't be unconstitutional for a state to criminally penalize homosexuality because the Constitution was ratified in 1789; the Bill of Rights was passed in 1791, and despite that states continued to have laws criminalizing homosexuality until just the past decade. Scalia's saying the Constitution has to permit those laws because those laws remained in place after those dates.

Giving Scalia the benefit of the doubt that really he doesn't mean 200 years, he really means since the passage of the 14th Amendment after the Civil War, we can still have the same discussion.  There was an equal protection clause - but still there were laws criminalizing homosexuality.  What changed?

Here's where you get to the question.

Justice Scalia; you said the following about the power of the state to criminalize homosexual conduct "for 200 years it was criminal in every state."  Under that reasoning, shouldn't states have the ability to prohibit interracial marriage, given for 100 years after the passage of the 14th amendment, there were states that had that prohibition?  Under that reasoning, shouldn't states have the ability to curtail individual gun ownership, given that for 200 years after the passage of the 2nd amendment, states passed those restrictions; in fact, should any the protections of the Bill of Rights apply against state governments at all, given that it was not until the 20th century that courts decided to read the constitution in a way that would make those Bill of Rights freedoms that each American possessed regardless of in what state we lived.  From Brown v Board of Ed to Citizens United please explain how the reasoning that you wish to apply to laws criminalizing homosexuality would not undo a massive amount of American jurisprudence.  

And let me know how that works out.

8. Oh, Lance...
Barry Bonds is the second greatest player in the history of baseball.  He owns both the single season and career home run records.

But baseball and sports media told you it didn't count; told you it wasn't happening; told you that it wasn't real.  They did it day after day for years and years.  Probably you believe them.  The San Francisco Giants organization believes them - the lack of commemoration for Bonds's career, given the way the Giants have systematically mythologized lesser greats like McCovey, Cepeda, Marichal is appalling; the degree to which the Giants want to run into the embrace of conventional wisdom at the expense of the man most responsible for building their stadium does not speak well of their organizational integrity.

It's also, of course, the primary reason why Melky Cabrera sits at home and Aubrey Huff sits on the bench.

Huff sure did have a weird late career offensive spike in 2010 and then fall completely off the table.

Just saying.

I spent most of the past ten years pointing at Lance Armstrong; the sports mythmakers made a clear choice to deify him while demonizing Bonds, and here's where we sit  in 2012; 11 teammates testifying against him.


The world's most famous cyclist said he wanted to see the hard evidence that he was a doper. The agency gave him that, too: About 200 pages filled with vivid details (PDF) -- from the hotel rooms riders transformed into makeshift blood-transfusion centers to the way Armstrong's former wife rolled cortisone pills into foil and handed them out to all the cyclists.
In all, a USADA report released Wednesday gives the most detailed, unflinching portrayal yet of Armstrong as a man who, day after day, week after week, year after year, spared no expense -- financially, emotionally or physically -- to win the seven Tour de France titles the anti-doping agency has ordered taken away.
It presents as matter-of-fact reality that winning and doping went hand-in-hand in cycling and that Armstrong was the focal point of a big operation, running teams that were the best at getting it done without getting caught. Armstrong won the Tour as leader of the U.S. Postal Service team from 1999-2004 and again in 2005 with the Discovery Channel as the primary sponsor.
USADA said the path Armstrong chose to pursue his goals "ran far outside the rules."
It accuses him of depending on performance-enhancing drugs to fuel his victories and "more ruthlessly, to expect and to require that his teammates" do the same. Among the 11 former teammates who testified against Armstrong are George Hincapie, Tyler Hamilton and Floyd Landis.
It details the way those men and others say drugs were delivered and administered to Armstrong's teams. It discusses Armstrong's continuing relationship with and payments to a doctor, Michele Ferrari, years after Ferrari was sanctioned in Italy and Armstrong claimed to have broken ties with him.
USADA chief executive Travis Tygart said the cyclists were part of "the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen."

9. From the House of Representatives Science Committee:
“All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and the Big Bang Theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of Hell,” Broun said. “And it’s lies to try to keep me and all the folks who were taught that from understanding that they need a savior.”
“You see, there are a lot of scientific data that I’ve found out as a scientist that actually show that this is really a young Earth,” he said. “I don’t believe that the Earth’s but about 9,000 years old. I believe it was created in six days as we know them. That’s what the Bible says.”
If you wonder why the American people would ever listen to a corporate boss say "it's really the unions who are hurting you; you don't want the ability to bargain collectively" and believe them; if you've wondered why the American people would ever listen to a politician say "the distance between the wealthy and everyone else has done nothing but increase for 30 years and what we need to do for your benefit is keeping cutting taxes on the wealthy" and believe them; if you've ever wondered why any American would be against a guarantee of health care - this is why - our complete inability to separate facts from the magical bullshit that is pounded into our brains.  
If you want to start from just this critical thinking decision - either we die, like all other living organisms, or there's this magical cloud where your grandpa lives forever with Jesus who hates government regulation and dudes touching other dudes - and you pick the latter it just opens the door for all of the "women who are actually raped have special magic powers to keep from getting pregnant" and "if we give all the money to really rich people everything will be okay" ideas that continue to control the electorate. You're worried about how the budget debt impacts future generations?  What about climate change?  That's right - it can't be real because God wouldn't let that happen.
A poll released this week revealed that the number of Americans who are Godless is on the rise.  You want to start pushing the rock up the hill to fix the country, cheer for that.
10. A Nice Piece About Brandon Crawford
1992 5-year-old Brandon Crawford couldn't hide his emotions during what was believed to be the final Giants game at Candlestick. Photo: Tom Levy, The Chronicle / SF
That five year old boy at what appeared to all of us, at the time, to be the very last game the Giants would ever play in San Francisco is now the starting shortstop for the team that, in fact, never moved to Tampa.

When I return in two weeks; someone's going to be in the World Series.
Go Giants.

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

Your pal,


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