August 2011

Setting the Mahmud

RSBS Special Correspondent and Podcast Warrior, Mr. Johanna Mahmud reports:

It’s Math. Don’t Fight It.

Clint Hurdle isn’t here to save you and lead the White Sox to 20 wins in a row to finish out the season a la the Rockies in 2000 whatever year that was. Jim Thome isn’t walking through that door to be the anti-Adam Dunn. I’m sorry. Just accept it.

As of Tuesday, via Baseball Prospectus, the White Sox have an 11.8% chance of making the playoffs. The Detroit Tigers have an 86.8% chance.  If you’re a Sox fan and want to hold onto that 11%, that’s your business. I just don’t want to hear about it. I know they’ve been just good enough in this awful division to keep us interested, but it’s over.

TOO STRESSFUL. THIS TEAM GIVES ME CHIGGERS!!!


If I have to listen to one more smelly Sox fan chewin his Kodiak, botherin me while I’m TRYIN TO PEE, sayin stuff like “Hey der guy… we’re goin sweep these next few series and we will be der in the end… darrrrr…”

Well, you know what? BITE ME. CUZ IT’S OVAAA…

This team started out so bad that the whole inching their way back up possibility almost felt real. I even got on board, thinking that at some point they’d stop winning three games and losing four. I assumed Adam Dunn would have to, at some point, regress to the mean and start hitting again. I even thought Alex Rios and Gordon Beckham might stop resembling human bowel movements.

As for Ozzie Guillen and Kenny Williams? Those two guys are pathetic. A once great union of minds is now in complete ruin.  They go back and forth at each other like a homeless man’s Martin and Steinbrenner. Word is the Sox have already started looking for managerial candidates and compensation from the Marlins for Ozzie. I know sometimes the Oz man sounds like an ignorant mofo, but he’s a hell of a manager if the Sox can keep him.  But if there’s any chance of Guillen staying with the team he and Kenny have to stop being Lindsey Lohan and Samantha Ronson.

–Johanna Mahmud
Follow Johanna on Twitter!

The Back Seat Libertarian

Full disclosure.  When I read this title on Mr. Lung’s post last week, “Celebrate! It’s Mr. Lung’s Liberty Inspired Coming Out Party!” I wasn’t all that surprised.  See, Jeff and I met in choir in college and then got to know each other better while doing theatre.  The main difference between us was that Jeff is actually good at the singing, dancing and acting so when I read that headline, well, you can see where I’m going with this.

Then I read that the coming out was actually as a Libertarian and Ron Paul supporter.  Jeff, I can support you liking dudes but supporting Ron Paul?  I think it’s time for an intervention.

Here’s the problem.  Ron Paul isn’t a libertarian.  Ron Paul has a lot of libertarian positions but it’s like being vegetarian.  Once you eat a piece of meat, you can’t really claim to be a vegetarian anymore.  Similarly, once you say that the government should be able to regulate one area (in Paul’s case, abortion), you can’t really claim to be a libertarian anymore.

Honestly, I like Dr. Paul.  I think that a lot of what he says makes sense and that if the Republican party believed the same way as him, they would regain much of their dynamism.  That being said, there’s a lot of what he says that makes no sense at all.  The elimination of fiat money.  Abolishing the Fed.  Getting rid of most the Executive branch departments.  Yes, the US bureaucracy is often unwieldy but it’s downright streamlined compared to most of our OECD friends.  Like it or not, that bureaucracy is what creates highways, ensures that people are treated equally and keeps us safe from those who want to do us harm.

More than that, we live in an era of globalism that has generally profited everyone.  Paul would have us close up our borders but it’s foreign trade that allows us all to have televisions in our home and computers at work for a fraction of what they would otherwise cost.  Closing up shop, leaving the United Nations and forsaking NATO would leave us vulnerable and insular, like the 19th century Japanese shogunate.

Let me turn back towards my friend, Mr. Lung, now.  Jeff, I applaud you for your willingness to come out.  I respect your courage at opening yourself up to the same kind of ridicule Dr. Paul has both deservedly and undeservedly endured.  But if anyone should understand that the world doesn’t truly follow the black and white dictates of libertarianism, conservatism, liberalism or any other -ism, it’s a baseball fan like yourself.  There are rules but the rules have to be interpreted and interpretation leads to shades of gray.  One man’s balk is another man’s strikeout.

Enjoy being a libertarian.  You’ll find yourself back here with the agnostics soon enough.

-A

Slicin’ It Pretty Thin and Havin’ Fun

As much as I want to hate the Milwaukee Brewers right now, I’m finding it very difficult to criticize their style of play.  How can I?!?  These dudes are MACHINES!

They are getting sound pitching from both their starters and their pen.  They catch the ball.  They make all the routine plays.  And boy can those Brewers hit.

But perhaps the best part of the Brewer’s m.o. is that they’re unconventional.  I mean, Prince Fielder is fat.  I mean FAT.  Also, Nyjer Morgan (aka Tony Plush — AHHHHHHHHH!!!) is insane.  And John Axford looks like he just stepped out of a Civil War reenactment.

Of course, nothing could be as unconventional as their storied radio broadcaster, Mr. Baseball himself, Bob Ueker.  Artie Lang explains why:


If you’re not havin’ fun, you’re not doin’ it right.

Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeff

The Filibuster

Dontrelle Willis AND Chien-Ming Wang pitching this weekend?  Why not Mark Prior and Pedro Martinez too?

Jake
Columbia, MO
___________________________________

This has been a strange week, Jake.  After six months of slugging it out in Libya, Tripoli fell within just a couple days.  Presidential candidates continue to eat corndogs apparently not realizing how that picture is going to turn out later.  Even the earth experienced a state of upheaval as the east coast barely made it through the great quake of 2011.  So why not Dontrelle Willis and Chien-Ming Wang?  Why not Prior and Wood dosey-doeing at Wrigley?  Heck, why not zombie Mark Fidrych going pitch-for-pitch with bionic Jim Bunning newly hyped up on dead baby power shakes?

I know what you’re thinking right now.  And no, I don’t have any “proof” that a zombie can get past his love of brains in order to pitch a baseball.  But I do know that a week that sees Washington DC get hit by both an earthquake and a hurricane is a week in which anything is possible.

My suggestion is that instead of focusing on zombies, baby shakes and improbable pitching returns, we turn our attention to the more important things in life.  Like, what’s up with the human-kangaroo hybrids currently drenching unsuspecting pedestrians?

-A

**Have a topic you want to see us Filibuster?  Want to know what Mr. Lung was doing the day the east coast started shaking?  Send us your Filibuster questions by emailing kraulung@gmail.com or by commenting below.

Bring On the Myth of Billy Beane

Some have described my baseball fanaticism as sociopathic in that I find great delight in the destruction and demise of my rivals.

Yeah?  So?

That’s why I’m super excited to hear the Cubs rumor-mill sound off on a possible Billy Beane signing as the next Northside GM.  Like a sick unempathetic psychopath, I enjoy watching the Cubs die a long, painful death.  So bring on the Beane!

The notion that Beane is this magical franchise-saving GM is nothing short of a mirage.  If you pick through the mountains of excellent work at PoNY you will find plenty of detailed examples why.  But for now, I will just focus on one: during his tenure in Oakland (1998 to present) he hasn’t won anything.  And if you’ve paid attention to the Oakland A’s the last five years you’ve probably noticed that those teams have been ATROCIOUS.

Yes, going back some years the A’s captured the AL West Division title four times (2000, 2002, 2003, 2006).  But since when does being the best out of four teams and nothing else get you all the accolades of a champion?  The dude is a flop!  His teams are flops!  And his club has no fans!  Wait til he has to deal with an angry mob of 40,000 Chicagoans in that dump of a stadium as it shakes back and forth, falling apart!

So, you know what to do, Ricketts… bring on the BEANE!  We Cardinal fans are lickin’ our chops!

Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeff

RSBS Presents: The Best

Superlatives get thrown around a lot, especially as eras in our lives come to a close.  Most likely to succeed.  Most likely to get married.  Most likely to find themselves face down in a ditch being sodomized by a goat.  Superlatives have become blase and almost have no meaning anymore.

That’s why I enter into this post with a little trepidation.  The Best.  That means nothing could be better and that’s a pretty bold claim.  Muhammad Ali made a case for his being the best going so far as to assert that he was the greatest.  LL Cool J took it a step further and declared himself the greatest of all time.  Over here at RSBS, though, we don’t go in for the histrionics.  We don’t need to add modifiers or walk back our claims.  We simply present it and let you know; this is the best.

Best Head First Slide

Sure, you might have guessed this could only be the iconic photo of Pete Rose.  But, you’d be wrong.  The internets don’t lie so just read the title and accept what happens as the truth.

Best Roommate Ever

I haven’t seen the guy.  I don’t need to see the guy.  He is to roommates what Michael Jordan was to basketball.  He is the: Best. Roommate. Ever.

Best Marriage Proposal

I may be biased and I may also be a little jealous but this guy gets it done the way only a Michigander can.

There you go.  The best.  You’re welcome.  Happy Friday.

-A

Celebrate! It’s Mr. Lung’s Liberty Inspired Coming Out Party!

Libertarianism is the view that each person has the right to live his life in any way he chooses so long as he respects the equal rights of others. Libertarians defend each person’s right to life, liberty, and property — rights that people have naturally, before governments are created.
David Boaz

RSBS interns prepping for the Liberty Bash

ENOUGH!  I’VE HAD IT! I’M COMING OUT!

That’s right, dear readers.  For fear of becoming the political philosophy version of Mike Quade — a bumbling, stumbling, titan of passivism — I hereby do OFFICIALLY shed my clamorous cloak of association with the Democratic Party and declare my NEW allegiance to…

LIBERTARIANISM.

I.

Am.

Libertarian.

The throng and its swarm of enforcers can kiss my @$$!

That’s right.  I’m sick of the two-party volleyball match of blame whilst doing nothing to solve the problems.  I’m tired of the false hope and broken (read: improbable) promises of the status quo.  I will no longer tolerate the pompous stuffed statists sucking up 30% of my income… and, for what?  To put my country in debt by the trillions?  To send my brothers and sisters off to die in TWO wars that we shouldn’t even be fighting?  No, sir.  I won’t propagate that.

So I’ve filled up on David Boaz, drunk my fill of Bastiat and now I’m ready to party like it’s 1831, y’all!

Recall how earlier in the week, while dissecting the train wreck of options present during the most recent Republican debate,  I alluded to the fact that, indeed, despite all the loony tunes, there is another candidate I am willing to support.  Well, you can bet yer sweet @$$ that man’s name is DR. RON PAUL, and that though he is thrown in with the evangelical pandering GOP, he is about as far from a “Republican” as a modern liberty-driven truthfinder can be.

He is my man going forward towards 2012 and beyond.

My friends, it is time for us to take back our liberties from the corporate thumbsucking suits in Washington disguised as our “representatives”.  Let’s get out of Iraq.  Let’s get out of Afghanistan.  Let’s shut down the fed, pay our bills and STOP KILLING THE MIDDLE CLASS.

We Libertarians would be honored if you join us.

Don’t hate me ‘cuz I”m right.

PARTY ON!

Jeff

Setting the Mahmud

RSBS Special Correspondent and Podcast Christopher Walken Enthusiast, Mr. Johanna Mahmud reports:

I Got My Knives Sharp

The most interesting man in the world…  Is it Starlin Castro?  Or Bobby Valentine, ranter of rants?

On Sunday night, Bobby V was my hero. He was attacking a sad, sad organization from the rear. From what the Cubs should be doing, to calling out everybody — president-owner-manager-scouting — it was FANTASTIC TELEVISION. He was flat out givin’ em the bizzness down there.

Valentine is probably fishing for a managerial gig, but he couldn’t be more right in his breakdown of Starlin Castro’s lack of awareness at shortstop. Valentine saw this in one inning and I haven’t heard anything like it all damn year. You can check out the video *here*.

Somebody is not teaching him right. Is anyone teaching anything? In the postgame interview Mike Quade said he would call Valentine. For wha??? Earlier in the season he said he had to call his “pitching people”. Sunday he said now he has to call his “infield people”???

Mike? Hello? Call your “I’m getting a new address people”.

Now all eyes on are on Castro. He’s the youngest player to reach 300 hits in 70 years for the Cubs.  But he also has the most errors in the National League, most of them careless errors.

So when does he get turned around? Please don’t let him become Hanley Ramirez… fat and lazy. Quade was supposed to be THE guy who could develop the most important piece of this franchise. You cannot blame Castro for any of this madness.

As a Cubs fan, I believe in nothing the organization is doing. It’s bad. It’s a joke. A travesty. Tom Ricketts still doesn’t have a list of possible GMs. He actually said this?!?!?

Look, Tom, keep it in your head, fine. But at least say you have a plan! You gotta give Cubs fans some hope. Act like you have an effing clue, billionaire fan boy, because you can’t ask Daddy for da monnnneyyyyy to bail your @$$ out. He said no, no, no.

Flat out, the development has been pathetic. I’ve been gargling with bleach to get the taste of Hendry out of my system, waiting for the next GM, the next manager.  Friedman? Valentine?  LaRussa?

Meanwhile, Quade benched Castro Monday but said the kid doesn’t have A.D.D. What a relief!

Ricketts, get a real list of who is gonna turn this thing around. Oh, and by the way, the Cubs left 15 men on base Monday night after Starlin’s benching. Without him, well, welcome to the village of SUCK.

Cheers?

–Johanna Mahmud

Follow Johanna on Twitter!

*If I’m not tweeting it’s because I’m sexting and showing off Favre style!

Record Breaking Singularity

Over the weekend, my brother-in-law and I had a deep discussion regarding what Major League records, streaks and milestones would never again be reached.  We volleyed, dipped and parried, throwing out memorized stats and tangible history: Joe Dimaggio’s 56 game hit streak.  The 300 win plateu.  5000 career strikeouts.  Pete Rose’s 4,256 hits.

On the surface, all of them seem insurmountable considering the modern game’s allegiance to softness, a result of the millions and millions and millions of dollars involved.  We concluded that the game was going to evolve into something else, perhaps a realm where the magical achievements of the 20th century would never again be rivaled — that they simply couldn’t be, because the people and the philosophies and the technologies of the game had changed.

Considering what we know now about how the human body works, why would a team subject its star athlete to a 162 game season, every year, with no breaks and no rest periods at all?  It just doesn’t make sense.

Which makes Cal Ripken’s 2,632 consecutive games played streak the holy grail of Major League records.

Unless…

We consider the very real (and imminent) arrival of the Singularity era.

That’s right.  For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, consider Moore’s Law, which applies the exponential growth theory to the amount of transistors that can be aptly placed within an integrated circuit.  The number doubles rather quickly (every two years or so), which is why 50 years ago the most basic of computers took up an entire wing of a building to do simple calculations and the iPhone or Droid you have in your pocket is able to take dictation, guide you from your home to the ballpark via GPS and give you the answers to any question at any time at speeds you never even dreamed possible (cue the Google Oracle music).

According to leading scientists, engineers and futurists, we are soon going to reach a point (within the next 30 – 50 years) where nanotechnology will be as common as laptops are today — that tiny yet powerful computers the size of blood cells will be programmed to reverse engineer the effects of aging, to fight off disease, to, in effect, provide superhuman powers.

Imagine having Albert Pujols, in the prime of his career, forever… or, at least for 40-50 solid years.  Imagine Justin Verlander striking out 500 hitters each season with his 145 mph fastball.  Imagine Carlos Zambrano murdering his entire –

Whoops.

Okay, so the Singularity era will also present some pretty controversial issues, like creating artificial intelligence that is able to out think us, which will blend the lines between what is real and what is not to the point where we could be opened up to an entirely new dimension, an entirely new worldview and/or perspective (like an ant suddenly realizing and being able to understand that there’s an entire world that exists above him).

But if we could see Albert in a Cardinals uni forever, tallying up as many career homeruns as there are trips around the sun and never getting hurt, I think all that sci-fi apocalypse shizz will be worth it.

So I retract my idea that some records will never be broken and confess: THEY ARE ALL GOING TO BE BROKEN.  Believe it.

And don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeff

All Populism and No Plan Makes Michele a Frightening Lady

I know we spend an inordinate amount of time discussing Michele Bachmann.  The problem is, she’s everywhere and she’s frightening.  Some of her statements can be excused as mere pandering to the base and that’s understandable.  Some of them may be sincerely held beliefs.  But some of them betray a fundamental lack of understanding of economics, policy and the world.

For instance, this past week Bachmann promised a crowd that during her presidency, she would ensure the return of $2 gas.  Now, leaving aside the fact that $2 gas is no longer possible without a sustained subsidy regime that would add to the national debt, what is even more frightening is her obvious inability to understand how global commodity markets work and how important world partners determine pricing.  Maybe this isn’t important to the base but it is important if you want to be President of the United States.  Let me try to explain through an analogy.

This would be like me promising that if you elect me baseball commissioner, I will bring back $3 beers at the ballpark. Sure, you’ll love me for it and you’ll cheer because who really wants to pay $7 or $8 for a small cup of crappy beer.  You’ll also quickly realize that my promise is impossible to keep.

See, the first problem is that as commissioner, I don’t have the ability to set prices at independent ballparks.  I could ask the owners nicely if they would be willing to do it.  I could even threaten to levy huge fines against them if they don’t.  But, they have to cover the costs and as commissioner, I don’t have the power to set their prices.

Now, my second option would be to try to uncover stores of previously untapped beer being hoarded at the ballpark in an effort to increase the supply and drive the price down.  However, the unit price is set by an external force, the big corporate brewer, and I have no control over them.  If the cost to the brewer to produce the beer is $2 a beer and he then sells the product to the park at $3 a beer, the park has to then mark it up in order to pay the salaries of the person selling the beer, take care of upkeep for the concession stand and even put a little money back into the park.

Granted, beer is not a commodity like oil but gasoline, which we’re actually talking about here, is a refined form of a commodity much like beer is a refined form of commodities like wheat and hops.  The same rules work on both and economics governs all.

Ultimately, Bachmann’s promise is all the more ironic because the only way to return to $2 gas is for some pretty heavy-handed government intervention.  Correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t that what the Tea Party is supposedly dead set against?  Logically, it makes no sense.  However, when you consider her education and her inspiration, it’s pretty obvious that logic isn’t necessarily a strong suit.

-A

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