Results tagged ‘ Filibuster ’

The Filibuster

Tim Pawlenty is out of the race and Rick Perry is in.  Bachmann wins the straw poll but is still bat-sh*t insane.  If the Republican primary is a pennant race, who’s your horse?

Paul
Annandale, MI
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Oh boy.

Metaphors are my friends, metaphors are my friends, metaphors are my friends.

If the Republican primary is a pennant race, then it must be in the Arena Football League because I am finding it quite difficult taking any of them seriously.

Michele Bachmann?  Um… no.

Rick Perry?  Um… also no.

Please note my severe reluctance to support any candidate who harbors a deep relationship with imaginary friends who tend to be bipolar, judgmental, homophobe racists.

Rick Santorum?  Noooo.

Mitt Romney?  Double noooo.  Though I am still waiting for his endorsement of the Mormon Underwear website.

Newt Gingrich?  Yikes!  Now we’re really gettin’ into the thick of crazy!

Jimmy McMillan?  Okay, now we’ve reached the bottom.

Thad McCotter?  Cool name.  Boring everything else.

Sorry, Paul… ya see, unlike picking an MLB winner, crawling through this web of same-ole-same-ole GOP crazies is a bit difficult.  There is no Philadelphia Phillies lights-out candidate.  There is no Yankee flyer.  There is no Red Sox contender.

No.

But, wait… there is… hmm… there is hope.  And no, I’m not talking about the empty promise sounding “hope” dished out ad nauseum by the Obama campaign to dupe intellectual lefties like myself during the ’08 race.  No.  Staying here, within the “Republican” party, there is… there is another.

But before I can declare my allegiance, I need to think on it.  I need to think on it very, very carefully.  While I do so, remember not to hate me (because I’m right) and please enjoy this informational video thoughtfully prepared by the RSBS interns:


To be continued…

Jeff

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The Filibuster

A lot of young guys making some noise right now.  Any one you like in particular?

Matt
Jeffersonville, IN
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George Bernard Shaw once pointed out that “youth is wasted on the young.”  Me, as I continue getting older, I couldn’t agree more.  It’s a total waste.  And honestly, I’m sick of hearing about it.  I’m sick of hearing about young voters.  I’m sick of hearing about hot, young prospects.  I’m sick of hearing that something is a young man’s game.

Look, there’s a reason that we don’t allow someone younger than 35 to be President of the US.  It’s the same reason that it’s rare to see someone under the age of 27 truly flourish in baseball.  We love the idea of youth but raw talent without experience can only take you so far.  It’s the reason why the Indians were willing to trade away future stars to wrap up a current star.  Sure, one of those guys might go on to have a Hall of Fame type career.  But Jimenez has already shown that he can deliver.  That’s a little more important when you’re in a playoff race.

The same thing goes for politics.  I’d like to see the national debt slashed and spending brought under control as much as anyone.  However, I think that ruining the country’s credit rating during a time of fitful recovery illustrates arrogance, not intelligence.  The Tea Partiers are young and fired up.  They’re going to go in there and change things.  But the Founding Fathers created the Constitution in such a way that change has to be gradual and necessitates compromise.

Experienced legislators understand compromise and realize that holding a gun to the country’s head is not a long-term solution.  They effectively shift the system one way or the other, depending on the country’s needs at the time.  The need this time was avoiding default but the youngsters were willing to play fast and loose with that need, holding it for ransom in order to get their own way.  It’s like a rookie holding out before training camp.  He may end up getting most of what he wanted but you know you can’t trust him and you know he’s only really worried about himself.

So, youngsters I like?  I can’t answer that.  And the fact is I don’t really trust ‘em.  Let’s see how they do the rest of the season and then I’ll let you know.

-A

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The Filibuster

Stephen Strasburg is pitching again!  He might even be back in the Majors by the end of the season!  How excited are you for Stras-mas part 2?

Jeremy
Burr Oak, MI
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Just see those fastballs zipping,
slide-step sinking too…
Come on, it’s lovely weather
for a Stras-mas endeavor with you!

Admittedly, there’s nothing quite like the joys of Stras-mas.  Last year, his comeuppance was the stuff of dreams, turning an otherwise midseason blah-blah Pirates v. Nationals contest into one of the greatest games I’ve ever seen.  In the Year of the Pitcher he became — after just one game — the Pitcher of the Year (in my book at least).

Stras-mas is special.  Stras-mas is magical.  Stras-mas is everything a baseball nerd like me dreams of.

Which is why it would be a SHAME and a TRAVESTY if the Nationals bring him back to pitch this season.

DON’T DO IT, RIZZO!  DON’T DO IT OR I’LL GUT YOU LIKE A FISH.

A bit harsh?  Yes.  I admit.  But remember, this kid is the future of a bruised and battered franchise.  And selling a few more tickets at the end of a going-nowhere season just to make a quick buck is not worth throwing away the future, throwing away Stras-mas.  Possibly forever.

Let the dude rehab, but don’t put him in any game action.  I know 11 months is the typical timeframe in which getting back to facing Big League hitters is deemed acceptable for those who’ve had the Tommy John surgery.  But this isn’t a typical situation.  This is Jesus with a 37 on his back.

Please, I implore the Washington Nationals front office: WAKE UP and STOP BEING STUPID.  You have a goldmine for YEARS in that newly improved Strasburgian right elbow.  He threw 96 mph from the slide step before, he may throw 101 underhanded now.

Do the right thing.  Make 2012 the Year of the Neverending Stras-mas.

Hate me.  I don’t care.  Just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeff

The Filibuster

So who are your big winners and losers at the trade deadline?

Melissa
Oak Lawn, IL 
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Well, as a Tigers’ fan I have to start there.  And I think the Tigers made the right moves.  They solidified their pitching without giving away the farm and managed to hold on to the top prospects in their system.  That sounds pretty good to me.

At the same time, the team chasing us made probably the blockbuster deal of the day by picking up Ubaldo Jimenez.  That has to resonate in Detroit as well.

Over in the NL, the Phillies managed to get even better with the addition of Hunter Pence and I’m pretty much all for just letting them play the Giants for the pennant right now.

But the biggest winner?  Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots.  Come on, sure, the baseball trades were big but the Patriots just picked up Chad Ochocinco and Albert Haynesworth.  That means a game changer on either side of the ball.  You have to figure that the Patriots look set to roll over the AFC this season.

I’m not going to say that both players will have the same kind of initial season as the Randy Moss trade delivered but Belichick seems to have a knack for turning problem players into essential cogs of the Patriot machine.  And guys like Ochocinco and Haynesworth, who have shown that they can dominate when provided the right incentive, totally fit that system.

So, yeah, there were some big trades before the MLB deadline.  It’s kind of hard to compare them with Belichick’s continued dominance of his peers, though.

-A

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The Filibuster

A bunch of teams are clustered right around .500 and above and no division is even close to being set at this point.  Does this mean baseball is starting to reach parity?

Sean
Caledonia, MI 
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Beware, my friend.  I sense… something.  This… parity you speak of…

IT’S A TRAP!

It’s not real.

Just make-believe.

The truth is, the same old teams are still atop the same old divisions.  The Yankees.  The Red Sox.  The Phillies.  Okay, so the Mets and Dodgers may be out, but it’s not their faults!  They can blame poor ownership and mishandled funds!!!

I know that a quick glance at the standings may confuse the casual onlooker, that one could be easily misguided by the way the teams stack up.  But let’s face it: the NL and AL Centrals have been crapshoots for a decade, the NL West has been a contest in mediocrity for a long time.  The Angels’ dominance of the AL West was only usurped last year and in 2011 they have put themselves back in contention.

This is not parity.  This is, like our US American social ladder, a classic case of 99% of the wealth being in the hands of 1% of the population and everyone else is left to fend for himself.  The effect resembles something like parity.  But it ain’t.

It’s pitching.

I really believe that the Mitchell Report and its subsequent juicy fallout has forced teams to go back to what always works: good pitching.  With good pitching, you might have a decent shot at accumulating wins.  The Giants are a perfect example of a team that gets by on minimal offense and middle-of-the-pack payroll.  It’s not the stuff of dynasties… but when it works, it works, and that’s what teams are doing.

The Pirates are winning because of pitching (they can’t hit).  The Braves are winning because of pitching (they have a hard time scoring too).  The Diamondbacks could always hit, but this year they have… PITCHING.

Great pitching is the best defense against great hitting.  I didn’t write that.  Baseball wrote that.

When the Orioles and Blue Jays can compete in their own division… when the Nationals have a shot at the big boys in the NL East… that’s when I’ll consider parity’s existence.

But right now that seems like something that could only be found in a galaxy far, far away.

Hate me.  Fine.  Just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeff

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The Filibuster

What’s your favorite throwback jersey?

Liz
Saginaw, MI
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I feel like this question could have been better addressed by Jeff.  Without a doubt, he would have said it was one of those old-timey woolen uniforms, perhaps even that of his beloved-like-an-adopted-child AL team, the Chicago White Stockings:

But me, I look for something a little more timeless.  I’m not talking Pittsburg Pirates timeless, either, as in, ugly no matter what era it exists in:

No, what I have in mind is something simple and elegant, like Carey Grant in a tuxedo:

Surprisingly enough, that combination of simplicity and elegance in sports finds itself draping the frames of the very definition of futility, the Detroit Lions:

Hey, they may not be good but at least they can look good doing it.

There you have it.  My favorite throwback, the Detroit Lions.

-A

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The Filibuster

Since it’s the start of the All-Star break, who’s your All-Star so far this season?

Paul
Cicero, IL
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First of all, major cap tip to ultimate All-Star, The Captain, Derek Jeter, a man who has been giving me goosebumps for 17 years and counting.  Dude is a paragon of class, someone who always goes hard and who seems to have a natural knack for the dramatic.

Jeter is one of those duh, no kidding he’s an All-Star sorta guys, the Pete Rose type, the kind of player you always expect to be an All-Star ‘cuz that’ s how he carries himself, on and off the field.  But there’s another type of All-Star, the kind who generally isn’t included in the actual All-Star Game… they are the grinders, the 110% effort guys, the ones who find clean uniforms shameful.

When I was playing legion and high school ball, I was never the best on the team.  I was short.  I was skinny.  I pretty much had zero tools… but I always went hard.  Bruises, cuts, scrapes… I was tattooed with them.  One day, after a particularly poor team performance, Coach said we needed to give more effort, to go harder.  He said, “Lung has more energy in his pinky finger than the rest of you do as a team.”

I never forgot that.  And even though I didn’t have the talent to be a starter, or to be successful at baseball at all, I did learn to walk pretty tall after that because everyone knew I gave it everything I had on every play.

Nyjer Morgan does that today.

Shocking, yes, I know, that I would praise the talents of a misfit who plays for a rival team.  But have you ever watched Nyjer Morgan play baseball?  That dude is fired up!  And he plays helluh-hard!  There is no let-up in his game and above all the homeruns, the no-hitters, the miraculous defensive plays in the field, I would rather watch nine Nyjer Morgans play against nine Nyjer Morgans than any of the aforementioned spectacles.

He may be odd, he may be hot headed and he may be just a few clicks shy of stupid, but Nyjer Morgan loves baseball like I love baseball, and he plays it in such a way that I can’t ever take my eyes off him.

He’s my undisputed off-the-radar All-Star.

Hate me, it’s cool… just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeff

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The Filibuster

How come you get to vote up to 25 times for All Star selections?  Is one vote per person less democratic?

Nathan
Mattoon, IL
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MLB made $6.1 billion in revenue in 2010.  28% of that revenue ($1.7 billion), came from the New York Yankees.  The Phillies and Red Sox place in the top six most valuable franchises.  Until the Wilpons’ recent financial issues, the Mets also figured into this top tier of baseball royalty.

When you look at these clubs, you notice they have two things in common.  Number one, they generate large amounts of revenue for MLB and number two, they all belong to large east coast cities.  These two facts are closely related and this fact has not slipped MLB’s notice.

How do you keep a bunch of super-rich clubs happy?  Simple.  You make sure that their players get elected to the All-Star game.

With fan voting and internet voting, of course the large metropolitan areas and the teams with large fan bases are going to ensure that their players get voted on to the All-Star roster.  Whether or not they belong there is an entirely different story.

As of 29 June, the leading vote getter among AL catchers was Russell Martin of the Yankees.  Martin’s batting average at this same point was .230, 10 points below the league average and 73 points lower than the second place catcher, Alex Avila of the Tigers.  Similarly, Derek Jeter sat half a million votes in front of Cleveland’s Asdrubal Cabrera while Cabrera sat about 40 points ahead of Jeter in terms of average among AL shortstops.

The list goes on and on but the fact of the matter is, the story would be the same whether fans had only 1 opportunity to vote or 50.  MLB consciously made the choice to allow this because MLB is a business and businesses have to grow or die.

We could go back to the old way of choosing the All-Star team, the method they used before 1970.  Back then the players, coaches and managers voted on the All-Stars and this more or less insured that the best players, as opposed to the most popular, made the team.  But the fans weren’t all that interested.  They wanted to see “their” guys playing in the mid-summer classic, whether or not they were the best.  And because baseball is a business, baseball gave the vote back to the fans.

Should Russell Martin and Derek Jeter start for the AL this year?  Statistically, absolutely not.  But baseball is business and that means the answer has to be reformatted.  Should Russell Martin and Derek Jeter start for the AL this year?  Monetarily, without a doubt.

So, Nathan, the answer to your question is that giving fans 1 vote or 25 votes is actually equally democratic.  But if you go further and ask the question, “Does democracy work in the context of MLB All-Star voting,” you already have your answer.  The answer is Russell Martin.

-A

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The Filibuster

What’s more impressive?  3,000 hits or 600 saves?

Aaron
Hammond, IN
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Before really getting into it, I just want to make it perfectly clear.  Either 3,000 hits or 600 saves merit you getting into the Hall of Fame.  However, now that I’ve put that out there, let’s get into the comparison.

To get to 600 saves, you need to average 30 saves a year over the course of 20 years or 40 saves a year over 15 years.  Either one of those numbers is pretty gaudy but that’s just the number of actual saves recorded over a 162 game season.  There are also non-save opportunities for closers and the occasional blown save.  There’s also that rare occasion when you come in to record a 4 or 5 out save.  So let’s assume you’re playing about 24 weeks a season, this means that you’re making a minimum of 2 to 3 appearances a week and pitching an inning at a time.  Those numbers add up, especially when you include all the warm ups and the up and down in the bullpen as you get ready to enter.

That being said, 3,000 hits over a 20-year career works out to 150 hits a year, almost a hit a game.  The more likely scenario is a 15-year career and that means averaging 200 hits a year.  But you’re not just getting at-bats, you’re also playing on a regular basis.  Although hitting takes a toll on a player, a much greater physical price is exacted by the daily grind of playing a position.

This question takes on added significance this year with Jeter almost certain to pass the 3,000 hits plateau and the possibility that Rivera could make it to 600 saves.  Both men are gifted athletes and both will most likely be first ballot hall of famers.  So, which one is more impressive?

This question gets muddied a little with Jeter’s dip in production over the last season and a half but let’s face it.  The guy has held down shortstop for the Yankees full-time since 1996.  I’m not sure there’s a more stressful position in MLB.  And while Rivera has also held a full-time position on the Yankees since 1997, there’s a reason that Jeter is the captain.

That’s the long non-answer.  The short answer is that although comparing the two things is not all that different from comparing apples and oranges, at the end of the day you do have to make a decision between the two.  I can’t tell you exactly why and I don’t necessarily have the stats to make an open-and-shut case but I happen to think that 3,000 career hits is pretty damn impressive.  You can always find a closer.  You rarely find a Jeter.

-A

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The Filibuster

Will you be watching the MLB draft? LOL.

Mark
Chicago, IL

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The MLB draft is to professional sports drafts like the Tony awards are to major awards shows.  It happens and I’m sure there are people who care but those people are the exception, not the rule.  Here’s the problem.

The MLB draft doesn’t matter because the players drafted, with very few exceptions, are not going to make any sort of short-term impact.  Most of them are barely known at this point because that’s not how baseball works.  Sure, there may be some stud who comes out of college already boasting an MLB level pedigree but in reality, most of these guys, if they even ever make it to the big leagues, are going to be playing a few years in the minors to get ready.  Baseball requires a level of apprenticeship that just isn’t necessary in other sports.

The NBA and NFL drafts play well on TV because not only have these guys already played on the national stage and in the national spotlight, fans and teams also make the assumption that they will have an immediate impact.  Guys like Reggie Bush and LeBron James can start every game of their rookie campaign and instantly make a team relevant.  In baseball, that just isn’t the case.

That being said, I can appreciate what Selig would like to do.  Sure, MLB’s revenue may be growing but a little statistical analysis will show you that this growth is dwarfed by that of the NBA and the NFL.  To keep up and remain relevant, MLB must constantly search for new ways to entertain, new ways to create revenue and new ways to attract new recruits.

Unfortunately, pimping the MLB draft isn’t the way to do it.  I’ll explain by going back to the Tony awards for a second.  The problem with the Tonys is that theatre is no longer relevant in the US.  Film and TV have both surpassed it in terms of entertainment and cultural and societal critique.  That’s why people have Oscar parties and chat about the Emmies but couldn’t care less about the Tonys.  Similarly, MLB doesn’t hold the same cultural relevance at this point in time as either professional football or basketball.  Sure, the fans still care but people not only watch the NBA and NFL games more regularly, they’re also willing to watch the two leagues’ drafts.

So you make a good point, Mark.  And to answer your assuredly rhetorical question, no, I will not be watching the MLB draft just like I won’t be watching the Tony awards.  MLB needs to make itself relevant again before there’s any chance that I will.

-A

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