Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A tale of two cities: an observation on the different directions of Boston and Syracuse

So about a week ago, I can across two stories, one in my old home town, one my my new.

Courtesy of the Boston Globe:

At $37.5m, Millennium Tower condo tops most everything

That's one condo. Granted, it's a 13,000 (yes, thousand) sq. foot 60th-story penthouse that overlooks just about everything in Boston. But still, that's a lot of money. ALSO, the artists rendition of the porch/balcony in that new condo is a bit terrifying. Maybe a railing is a good idea when you're up that high? I mean, I suppose if you can afford a condo of that price you can afford the insurance on having a cliff portruding from your residence. But still, maybe a railing.

Meanwhile, on Syracuse.com, the website affiliate of the Syracuse Post-Standard:

NY: Benches will be removed where homeless gather under Syracuse highways

As you may know, Syracuse's economy is doing less well than Boston's I'm not sure that Syracuse actually has more homelessness than Boston - it's a serious problem in both cities. Poverty in general, however, is a much more common issue here in central New York. So in order to deal with homelessness, the state has decided "out of sight, out of mind" is the best policy and bets that maybe if those lazy homeless folks don't have a place to sit and panhandle they'll get off their lazy butts and get jobs? That's some good public policy, folks. Good to see the city biting the bullet and making sure the poors understand where they belong.

What I love most about his article is that this was a compromise. Initially, the county and city wanted to put "No Loitering" signs. On public benches.

"No Loitering" signs.

On public benches.

"No Loitering" signs. On public benches.

Welcome to Syracuse.

I might have some culture shock.

Or, I might just be fucked.


Sunday, October 26, 2014

Thoughts on the MA Governor's race and the Globe endorsement of Baker

The main paper in my old hometown has endorsed Republican Charlie Baker. As the nominal "liberal" paper in town, this has been the topic of a good amount of discussion, but really not much surprise. Baker has done a good job of portraying competence, while Coakley has been foundering. Again.

I have two thoughts here. First, more of an obervation. I'm eternally unimpressed with Coakley, but after the primaries I thought she had an upper hand. I thought her choice to let the LG race play out on it's own was smart. It allowed Steve Kerrigan to build up an electoral base, something Baker missed out on by hand-picking Polito (who is awful, for what it's worth). But the difference between Baker and Coakley in the time sine the primaries has been too much to ignore. Baker has a tendency to have a bit of an abrasive personality, but he has been forceful and consistent in his argument. Meanwhile, as a liberal myself, it is heartbreaking to see Coakley just totally unable to illustrate either her own agenda or the underlying arguments for liberalism in general. I don't think she's like Mitt Romney in that she has no agenda other than that she wants to be elected. Rather, I think she's just an abysmal communicator.

Second thought, and it is a more cynical one. The Boston Globe is interesting in selling papers. I do think they lean slightly to the left editorially, as the market it caters to does the same. But most of its leftist leanings come in the categories of foreign policy (which doesn't apply to Baker) an social issues (Baker is a moderate). The Globe has never been particularly progressive fiscally, and as Dan Kennedy of Northeastern University pointed out, Baker is the type of Republican the Globe has typically been attracted to. Anyhow, in order to keep its status as an independent arbiter, it makes sense to occasionally endorse a Republican. Unlike, say, Scott Brown who seemed to run a personalist campaign based on the fact that he'd be an "independent voice" while bending over backwards to avoid saying what that meant, Baker has outlined a policy agenda. You can call his agenda bullplop if you want. (And you should. It's bullplop). But at least it's something concrete-ish. So there's some meat there.

The point I'm getting around to is that, Baker and Coakley have given the Globe an opportunity to show off its own legitamacy. It's endorsements carry more weight in both the long and short term if it isn't just a down-the-line Democratic ticket. Compare this approach to the rival Boston Herald, which endorsed the embarrassingly unqualified Gabriel Gomez over Ed Markey in 2013. I don't know that the Globe entirely buys that Baker would make a better governor than Coakley, just that there's enough reason to believe Baker is more competent for the Globe to use this race as a chance to say "See! We endorse Republicans too!"

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Free Wi-Fi isn't a "right"; It is, however, a really good idea

Maryland governor and future not-President Martin O'Malley caused a bit of a stir when he described Wi-Fi as a "human right." The right-wing internet press has, of course, been attacking him like crazy. ANYTHING described as a right is worthy of scorn to those folks, except of course your Constitutional Right to a Bushmaster .446 Remington SuperLight Carbine Semiautomatic. While I have little patience for the argument of the crazies, the underlying problem here is that the conversation we are having about infrastructure an its relation to government is broken. The government doesn't exists just to guarantee rights. It exists to enhance the public good.

Is a government that doesn't provide wi-fi committing a human rights violation? That seems a little bit ludicrous on its face, but let's twist this discussion around. A government that suppresses internet usage is authoritarian, right? Protests need a space to begin, and the nebulous internet provided the perfect public space for what became the Arab Spring, as well as the recent protests in Hong Kong. Attempts by the Chinese government to suppress internet access have been rightly condemned.

Access to a job is not a human right. Access to a road to get to your job is not a human right. Access to a port to bring your wares to market is not a human right. They are, however, all things that enhance society. A connected, employed, productive society isn't just a positive development, it is necessary to the existence of democracy. They are public goods. They increase the general welfare. They don't make America a more righteous place, but they obviously make it a better one.

And so it is with wi-fi availability. Arguing that something which didn't even really exist 10 years ago is a human right is a hard sell. The case that needs to be made is that we are all better off with consistent, reliable internet access. This was the case that was made with the establishment of a Postal Service - that being able to connect everyone, everywhere, at a reasonable price benefitted not only those in remote outposts and those who couldn't afford private parcel delivery, but strengthened as as a whole.

Let's get out of the business of trying to describe everything that helps us as a right, and back into explaining how public goods work and why they should be implemented.

Friday, October 03, 2014

10/3/2014 Playoff Marathon live-ish blog

Greetings, I've done this post several times in the past. Real life is going to cause some interference during the day. Having a one-year old is pretty cool, but it does interfere with writing about baseball for 14 hours straight.

12:08: Strike one to Ian Kinsler. I'm going to go out on a limb and declare the Tigers the winners in year one of the Kinsler-for-Fielder deal.

12:10: Torii Hunter looked bad on that strikeout. He's a free agent after this season, and while he had a poor season he was generally a very good player for the last ten years. From 2004 to 2013 he hit .284/.343/.471. And despite only being a 0.4 bWAR player in 2014, it pushed his career number up to 50.3. I wouldn't vote for him, but there are worse players in the Hall of Fame.

12:21: Justin Verlander wasn't very good this year either, but his peripherals did come around in the second half, as he cut out those walks that killed him early in the year. No idea how he'll pitch today, but my feeling is that he'll be a good pitcher again in the future.

12:24: Speaking of peripherals, Stephen Strasburg's were awesome this year. League-best 242 strikeouts, and a sterling 2.94 FIP. My only playoff prediction is that I think he's going to be a monster. He's at a career high for innings, but he cruised into the end of the regular season.

12:31: Alex Avila has exactly 11 homers and 47 RBIs in each of the past two seasons. In 2012 he drove in 48.

12:41: Time Warner Cable isn't making this any easier. Also, Justin Verlander is pitching a no-hitter. Am I doing this right?

12:44: Tigers shortstop was one of the worst positions in baseball this season. The player they settled on, Andrew Romine, plays average defense and hit .227/.279/.275, which is almost exactly his career line over parts of four season. For comparison's sake, their starting SS on opening day was Alex Gonzalez, who hit .167/.219/.233. I expect to see Eugenio Suarez at some point this weekend.

12:48: That always scares me. Sweet grab by Chen.

12:53: Dennis Eckersley is 60? Good grief.

12:57: I started following baseball in 1988, and Dennis Eckersley's transition to relief ace, redefining the closer role, was one of the biggest stories of that time. To someone who started watching baseball this season, that would be like someone telling me about 1962.

12:59: Schoop breaks up the no-hitter. For those of you following on GameCast or otherwise on the internet, it is pronounced like the mouthwash, not like that Salt N' Peppa tune.

1:04: Speaking of Eck, pretty prescient of him, noticing that Verlander was only throwing Markakis fastballs, an he finally turned on one. Even if it gets called back, that was a rocket.

1:12: Call stands. Alice has awoken. Time for a quick call to the bullpen for a pitching change, and then some play time. I will check in periodically (maybe). More to come tonight!

2:09: Quick check-in. There were some home runs while I was gone. Anyhow, an observation that is tangentially related to baseball. When the televisionis on, Alice (my daughter) really reacts to it. During that sweet 5-4-3 double play in the top of the fifth, the announcer got appropriately excited, and Alice started yelling along with it. It was awesome.

2:33: I like the move to bring in Sanchez. Given the Tigers bullpen problems, it's worth the risk. Now I'm on record, feel free to quote me when this blows up.

2:45: FoxSports just twittered a picture of its pregame desk crew. Frank Thomas and Gabe Kapler are sitting next to each other. Do not mess with that side of the table.

5:18: So some stuff happened in the last two and a half hours? I can't provide a ton of analysis because I wasn't watching closely, and what can be said about the first game other than "The Tigers bullpen stinks." Joba Chamberlain blowing the game brings me joy.

5:26: Can Jake Peavy take the duck boat he bought into the San Francisco Bay? Because that would be kind of cool. He's clear outpitched Strasburg today, against a very good Washington lineup. It's a little bit surprising, but Peavy is 12th among active pitchers in bWAR so maybe it shouldn't be.

5:49: All three Giants pitchers in the sixth inning are ex-Red Sox. Jake Peavy and Javier Lopez people know about. Hunter Strickland was an 18th-round pick in 2007 and was traded to Pittsburgh (with infielder Argenis Diaz) in exchange for Adam LaRoche. Nine days later, the Sox flipped LaRoche for Casey Kotchman.

6:00: I'm not in love with the playing of God Bless America during the seventh inning stretch, but I am in love with it when it is played by the Marine Corps Marching Band.

6:38: Two games at once is easy. Two games at once while giving the baby a bath and cleaning the basement might be beyond my can.

7:03: Sergio Romo seems like one of those players who, by the time he finally got credit for being good, stopped being good.

7:27: Former Supreme Court Justice Jon Jay strikes out against current Supreme Commander of Worlds Clayton Kershaw.

7:41: Adrian Gonzalez has a reputation as a cool cat, but he was obviously pretty fired up there. I don't think Wainwright hit Puig on purpose, but if he did he's a fool.

7:45: Carl Crawford really had a nice bouneback season this year. He's not the player he was signed to be in 2011, but he posted a 2.4 bWAR after totaling 2.3 from 2011 to 2013. His decline is still stark - a player with an outside shot at Hall of Fame credentials four years ago is well, well short of that. Nice to see him drive in the go-ahead run.

8:29. I missed two innings putting Alice to be. In that time, Clayton Kershaw faced six batters and struck out five of them. I'm starting to think he's good at baseball.

8:34: Hey remember three months ago when Matheny took Wainwright ahead of Kershaw to start the All-Star game?

8:45: The Cardinals' relievers would pitch better if they were given numbers that indicated they weren't going to be cut in spring training.

8:55: Of course the Ashburn Award winner homers.

8:56: Adrian Gonzalez is a good defensive first baseman. Also, he led the National League in RBI despite having his worst full offensive season.

9:01: Hanley Ramirez's helmet keeps falling off. Does he need a tighter hemlet? I think that would annoy me.

9:11: Puig really closed the gap there. Great angle to keep Holliday at second base.

9:11: Three straight hits off Kershaw? What the what is going on?

9:13: There's at least a 10% chance Kershaw loaded the bases on purpose to give himself a challenge.

9:14: Pete Kozma getting put on the Cardinals postseason roster was insane, so of course Matheny is going to turn up a Yost and Kozma will hit a grand slam.

9:18: The BABIP God's are apparently unhappy with Clayton Kershaw.

9:26: Raise your hand if you expected Kershaw to give up five runs in an inning.

9:34: Before that Peralta groundout the Cardinals were 6 for 6 on balls in play in the inning. A few of the balls off Kershaw, especially the Carpenter double and Molina hit, were well struck. But that's some busted luck right there.

9:46: Yeah, totally lost track that the Angels-Royals game was set for 9:37. I am rusty.

9:51: The Royals didn't get anyone on base in the first, so they were unable to have anyone thrown out on the bases. Fortunately the Angels stepped up there.

10:03: Adrian Gonzalez goes boom. 10-8. This playoffs has been crazy.

10:10: I don't get how Pat Neshek can pitch like that.

10:11: Both games are between innings. Why are both games in between innings. More baseball please.

10:14: The third most famous author of the Federalist Papers is 2 for 4.

10:16: Offense is up in the playoffs this year because of bunting? Thanks Harold Reynolds, for actively making me miss Tim McCarver.

10:19: Joba Chamberlain's ERA is 108.00 in the playoffs. Couldn't happen to a more deserving fellow.

10:22: Legitimately great bun there by Moustakas to beat the shift. I understand stud hitters not bunting on the overshift - you want David Ortiz swinging for the fences. But if a team is going to shift like that for someone who hit .212/.271/.361 then yeah, bunt yourself onto first.

10:25: Then having your leadoff hitter sacrifice bunt in the third inning. Sigh.

10:32: Yasiel Puig up with a runner on third and two outs, down by one in the bottom of the ninth. Against a guy who throws 100. I likey.

10:36: And Mighty Yasiel has struck out. The Wainwright-Kershaw duel ends 10-9. I think you won if you bet the over.

10:38: Meanwhile a few miles south in Anaheim... Nice to see Yordano Ventura bouncing back from his tough appearance in the wild card game. Doesn't appear to have any effect, though I wonder if he'll be on a shorter pitch count.

10:55: Salvador Perez leadoff single. Does Infante bunt to get the Moustakas and Escobar?

10:57: Nope, Yost resisted the urge. I guess that's improvement!

11:05: Ventura retired 11 in a row but has given up two straight singles. That's not necessarily concerning, but he left that pitch to Aybar up and down the middle. Worth keeping an eye on.

11:07: The double play is the pitcher's best friend.

11:34: Ventura walks Trout, and Albert Pujols is coming up. Pujols is 0 for 6 in the series. Good luck, kid.

11:36: Worse pitchers than Yordano Ventura have given up game-tying hits to Pujols. That said, Ventura seems to be overthrowing a bit. I don't know if I'd let him face Kendrick here. Very dangerous situation.

11:38: Kendrick grounds harmlessly to third. 1-1 through six.

11:40: There is a fly in my family room and it is huge and it is annoying me.

11:43: Baldwinsville's own Jason Grilli on for the seventh. He struggled in the first half with Pittsburgh but pitched better after the trade out west. He was certainly more effective than Ernesto Frieri in that sort-of challenge trade.

11:52: Ventura for the seventh. At only 85 pitches and Herrera on the shelf I can see it, but I guess I'm a little surprised. Finnegan should be ready behind him.

12:03: I've had to power cycle my modem five times since starting this, twelve hours ago. Thanks for the consistency, Time Warner.

12:08: Yost makes a good move, going to Wade Davis in the tie game. And then of course C.J. Cron rips a first-pitch curveball for a double down the left-field line.

12:13: Great time for a TOOTBLAN!

12:15: Seriously, I get wanting to get to third with less than two outs. But the top of the order was coming up. He's already on second.

12:16: And I'm excited for the morons who, if the Royals win, will credit "small ball." The Angels are the ones wasting outs. Pitching and defense isn't small ball.

12:20: I really want the Royals to not score right here just to see what Yost does in another tie game in the bottom of the ninth. Stick with Davis? Go to Holland? The Mystery Box?

12:29: I know Alex Gordon is a much tougher out than Salvador Perez, but that run is important, too. Much better chance the Royals put up a crooked number this inning, making a potential comback in the bottom of the inning a significantly tougher task.

12:31: Got out of it. Trout/Pujols to start the bottom of the ninth.

12:34: I'm not sure there's a right person to face Mike Trout in the tie game of the bottom of the ninth. But Wade Davis and Greg Hollard are available, with all due respect to Jason Frasor it shouldn't be him.

12:35: And Frasor pops Trout up. Shows you what I know.

12:38: Pujols pops up too. Ned Yost's moves don't have consequences.

12:39: Extra innings again! Who needs sleep?!

12:44: Huston Street on for a second inning of work, and he strikes out Omar Infante. Pretty amazing that Street had zero games this season where he recorded more than three outs. The rigidity of modern bullpen usage drives me bats.

12:53: Brandon Finnegan needs only one pitch to get his first out. Did you know he was in college earlier this year and selected in the 2014 draft? Did you? Huh? Huh? Did you? The blue cheese is baked right in, folks.

12:59: Going to the 11th. Excellent 3-6-3 by the Royals there. Very impressive play for Hosmer to field, throw, and get back to the bag in plenty of time to receive th e relay.

1:06: Two-run homer. Eric Hosmer. Incredible.

1:21: Greg Holland is good. I can't believe the "save your closer in case your worse relievers don't blow it" keeps working.


1:25: Error extends the game for Mike Trout. Trout is probably good enough to hit a three-run homer with only one man on base, so the Royals should be careful.

1:25: But seriously stop with the Big Game James. He's pitched in seven playoff games and is 2-4 with a 5.26 ERA. He's an awful pitcher in big games. He's done his best work in April. We can call him Cold Game James or something. But he absolutely cannot take James Worthy's nickname.

1:27: Mike Trout strikes out to end it. He is 0 for 8 in the two games. Four games today. Three decided by one run, the other going into extra innings. It is very late here in the northeast portion of the midwest, so I shall depart. Thanks if you've been following along. Also, seek help.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Discovering Syracuse: Believe in Syracuse event at Beer Belly Deli & Pub

I spent a couple hours on Tuesday night at an event at Beer Belly Deli presented by a group called Believe in Syracuse. In its own words, Believe in Syracuse is a "non-profit organization that promotes the positive features of the Greater Syracuse Area and cultivates connections and civic engagement within the Greater Syracuse community." Specifically on the agenda Tuesday was the recent improvements on and near Westcott Street. 

Having been in Syracuse only a short time, I can't accurately speak to how the area has been improved and what the impact has been. But it is likely my favorite area in town, with a nice mix of shopping, restaurants, bars, cafes, and residences. It it comfortably walkable and well-lit. The Beer Belly was a real highlight - an excellent beer selection, tasty food, an a great, friendly atmosphere both inside the restaurant and outside on the back patio. 

One takeaway from the event, which may have been inadvertant, was the seeming difficulty possible business owners have trying to borrow money to invest in the neighborhood. One of the owners of Beer Belly discussed trying multiple avenues before ultimately working with the local Syracuse Federal Credit Union. Restorations of the Babcock-Shattuck House on the corner of Westcott and Genesee came in fits and stops, in no small part because of financing issues. The success of both will hopefully allow more lenders to be willing to work with local investors. 

Monday, September 29, 2014

2014 Richie Ashburn Award

A number of years ago, I created the Richie Ashburn Award, to give credit for one of my favorite statistical oddities: players with a higher on-base percentage than slugging percentage. It takes quite a level of skill and plate discipline for a player to be able to force himself on base without the benefit of power. And since a player gets points on his slugging percentage for singles, usually Ashburn Award winners do so by working high numbers of walks.

The award gets his name for the great Phillies outfielder, one of the best in history at getting on base despite not being at all a power hitter. Let's quickly review the three rules for winning an Ashburn Award.

1. The player must have an OBP higher than his SLG. Close doesn't count. Better luck next year, Jon Jay (.303/.372/.378).

2. The player must have an OBP above. 350. Out of luck, Robbie Grossman (.233/.337/.333).

3. The player must have at least 400 plate appearances. Chone Figgins' .217/.373/.267 in 76 plate appearances isn't going to cut it.

Amazingly, there were no Ashburn Award winners in 2012 or 2013. And we came perilously close to not having one in 2014. But one player stepped up, sneaking in by .00003.

Congratulations, Matt Carpenter, who ended the two-year drought with a .37482 OBP and a .37479 SLG.

Matt Carpenter

Carpenter, who finished fourth in the National League MVP voting in 2013, saw his batting average and power take a dive this season. But his patience did not suffer, as Carpenter led the senior circuit with 95 walks.

2013 had been a breakout season, as Carpenter had led the league with 55 doubles while helping the Cardinals to their fourth NL pennant in ten years. While 2014 was less productive for the 28-year-old, he was still a highly productive player. Losing 40 points on his BABIP didn't help Carpenter's cause, but he will be in the leadoff spot when the Cardinals head to Dodger Stadium for the NLDS.

But who cares about all that stuff. The important thing here is that Carpenter has ended a two-year Ashburn Award drought.

Photo Credit: By gcny1956 (IMGP8588) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Monday, September 01, 2014

Goodbye, Massachusetts

I have lived in Massachusetts my entire life. I went away to college for four years, but was still home for vacations and the summer, so it was hard to even say then that I'd moved away. I grew up in Melrose and moved to Somerville 11 years ago today. 

On Saturday, my wife and I moved to Syracuse, New York. The hazy picture above is from I-90 at about 6:00, when crossing the border. My parents and my sister-in-law still live in the Greater Boston area, so I will visit frequently, but the portion of my adventure where I call Massachusetts home has come to a close. I am excited for an exciting opportunity out here, but I already miss the only city that I've ever considered to be home. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

"A police officer keeps watch over demonstrators."

The situation in Ferguson, Missouri is disgusting on multiple levels. The racism, both latent and open, is sad. The inequities that lead to a city that is 64% black to have a police force that is 6% black is the result of years of policy mistakes and poor management, leading to obvious public distrust in those supposed to protect them, and leading those supposed protectors to see their citizens as dangerous "others" rather than members of their own community. But the one public policy disaster that has become crystallized on our computers as we watch this crisis take place is the descent of local police forces into paramilitary organizations.

The use of military tactics and high-grade weaponry to keep the citizenry "in line" has no place in a democratic nation. This is the stuff of a military dictatorship, which the citizenry of Ferguson, Mo. does not have the capacity to overthrow. 

Imagery, and how it is reported, is important. From USA Today's website:

The caption, as the title of this post notes, reads ""A police officer keeps watch over demonstrators."

Is that what you see there? A "police officer?" "Keeping Watch?" Here's a better headline. "Untrained paramilitary soldier aims his assault rifle at black people standing in the street."

Photo from : "Alderman Antonio French arrested in Ferguson" http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/08/14/antonio-french-alderman-arrest-ferguson-missouri/14042391/

Friday, July 25, 2014

"I don't like your 'on-air persona'"

The quote in the title was said to a good friend of mine. He was a DJ at WRUR, the University of Rochester FM station. He had a weekly two-hour rock/metal program that I appeared on regularly as a guest. In between the songs, there would be talking. Most of it was silly - it would occasionally make off-color remarks, but very little of it was truly offensive. I said the smell of a women who worked at residential life displeased me, in poetry form. The host would, at times, reference some of the fine women of Rochester who waitressed without shirts for a living. We were young and immature but generally harmless. There were a couple times I said things I immediately regretted, and was happy to only have the reach of college radio. But when you are talking and you need to fill air, and you are young and immature, sometimes the wrong thing comes out. 

At one point, the time slot for this show was excellent: 10:00pm, prime college radio listening, if such a thing exists. The schedule was adjusted each semester, and the following one was much less desirable. I don't actually remember the details of when the show was moved to, but I remember it was less good. 

My friend, the show's host, asked the programming director about the move. We both knew the director personally, as she was a friend of one of our close friends. She probably could have given a half-hearted answer like "I'm sorry about the move, we are trying to give everyone a chance in the prime slot." She didn't say that though - instead, she was honest, but in a really passive-aggressive sort of way. She told the host that "I don't like your on-air persona."  As the host would say. "So here's the thing, I don't actually have an 'on-air persona,' so I think that was just her was of saying 'I changed your time slot because I don't like you.'"

Why did this story from fourteen years ago suddenly pop into my brain? Because of the recent blow-up at the sports radio station WEEI, where co-host Kirk Minihane said unkind, misogynist things about Fox reporter Erin Andrews. His comments were over the line and unacceptable. His apology for his initial comments was followed by a rant that was even less acceptable. 

I am not going to rehash the entire escapade because most people know about it already and the rest of you all have the google machine. Just type in "Kirk Minihane Erin Andrews" and choose your source. What I wanted to address was the idea that Minihane, as well as hosts John Dennis and Gerry Callahan are simply "playing a role," that their "on-air persona" is meant to be the epitome of the blue-collar sports enthusiast, without a worry about being politically correct or whatever nonsense.

Stop it. Just stop it. Blaming your "on-air persona" for your mistakes is just effing weak.

First off, it's a cop-out. You can't take credit for the intelligent things you say, but laugh off all of the BS by saying "oh, I'm in character." Oh, you're in character are you? Who does your writing? Oh, no one, it's all improv, your "character?" I see. 

Second off, acting like an idiot when you know it's wrong is worse than just accidentally letting some idiocy out. I'm going to use an extreme example here, but stay with me. In the late 1960's George Wallace rose to national prominence for his virulent opposition to desegregation. The racism was overt. In later years, when Wallace's message has been clearly seen as supremely incorrect, he has been defended as not being an actual racist, but rather someone who was a good man away from politics but used (exploited) the racism of others to advance his platform. When asked, Wallace himself said "You know, I tried to talk about good roads and good schools and all these things that have been part of my career, and nobody listened. And then I began talking about n****rs, and they stomped the floor." =

Being a racist, or misogynist, or other form of bigot is bad. Really, really bad. But acting like a bigot when you know it's wrong, just for attention, for ratings or votes or hits on your website? That's inexcusable. 

Being on the radio is hard and having everything you say get recorded makes it easy to screw up. The key is admitting you screwed up. Minihane saying what he said about Andrews is a thing that happens, a forgivable mistake. His not understanding why it was wrong and pathetic excuse-making, is what makes him so deplorable. So, Kirk Minihane? I don't like your on-air persona.

Friday, June 27, 2014

What I'm listening to: Elbow - Fly Boy Blue / Lunette

This tune has me hooked right now:

The goosebumps kick in at the time shift (about 3:15), and they make frequent recurring appearances throughout the rest of the tune. The record was recorded at Peter Gabriel's studio, and the influence is pretty clear.

My wife and I were able to see Elbow at the Royale Theater in Boston last month. The setlist focused mostly on material from the three most recent records.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

State to finance design of Somerville Community Path

Big news in Somerville today. The funding for the design of the Somerville Community Path has been officially approved. A group of about 75 was in attendance today at the intersection of Cedar Street and the path as Mayor Curtatone, Secretary Davey, Senator Jehlen and others made the announcement.

Proposed  map, from the Friends of the Community Path

Construction is ongoing on the soon-to-open section of path between Cedar and Lowell Streets. Today's announcement means that the path will continue beyond Lowell Street along the Green Line Extension, reaching Lechmere (aka North Point, if that name is still being used). It appears that work will be done in conjunction with Phase Two of the extension project.

Mixing biking and walking with existing car infrastructure is obviously difficult, particularly in cities as dense as Somerville. The old Arlington and Lexington branch of the Boston & Maine Railroad, the are of the current path, has done wonders linking Somerville neighborhoods with the booming Davis Square area.

For continued updates on the progress of the Community Path, Ward5Online.com, the website of former Somerville Alderman Courtney O'Keefe, is a valuable resource.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Knowing how to win, 4/2/14 edition

In my ongoing pursuit of showing off how dumb pitcher wins are, I will run a series where I show some pitcher who pitched really well and didn't win, and another who pitched less well and did. I am unlikely to update every day. I'm not even likely to update "frequently." But I'll do it sometimes, if that's cool with you.


It's too bad defending American League Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer doesn't know how to win. Scherzer's line:
8 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 1 BB,  7 K, No decision

Scherzer just doesn't follow the win-knowing ways of Jordan Lyles:
5 IP, 5 H. 4 ER, 1 BB, 5 K.

Just another reminder that the talking head who says "knows how to win" is spouting bullshit.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Three opening day starters announced previously: Liriano, Bumgarner, Darvish

Continuing my series: three opening day starters were announced previously: the Rangers will go with Yu Darvish, the Pirates with Francisco Liriano, and the Giants with Madison Bumgarner.

Darvish is the least surprising of the group. The import from NPB built upon his solid 2012 rookie season, stepping forward as one of the elite pitchers in baseball in 2014. He led the majors in strikeouts and K/9, which bodes well for continued success. While Texas has several other capable starters, the rest all come with significant injury concerns. Darvish's performance this year will go a long way in determining what the Rangers do in 2014. He's a strong Cy Young candidate and arguably the player whose team can least afford a bad season from.

Liriano had a bounceback campaign last year with the Pirates, capped by a pair of strong postseason outings. He is the best pitcher on the Pirates right now, but that comes with a caveat - the 161 innings he threw last season were the second most of his career. He's still only 30, which seems impossible, considering how much he's been up and down during his career. With the Reds and Cardinals still looking strong, the Pirates likely will depend on another strong performance by Liriano to get back to the playoffs. If all goes well in Gerrit Cole's development, he should take over the opening day role for a long time.

Of the five announced opening day starters, Bumgarner is the biggest surprise. Not a surprise because of his on-field contributions - he was the best pitcher on the Giants last year, by a fair amount - but because of his listing of more famous rotation-mates. Tim Lincecum, who pitched better in 2013 than he did in 2012, for whatever that's worth, is a two-time Cy Young Award winner. And it's not like he's some old dude - he won those awards in 2008 and 2009. Matt Cain has been the rock of the staff for years and was a model of consistency before suffering his first poor season in 2013. He is the longest-tenured Giant. Finally, Tim Hudson was brought aboard as a free agent. While he's 38, he was solid last year before a gruesome ankle injury ended his season, and has a career profile of a borderline Hall of Famer. His ERA+ of 97 in 2013 was the second worst of his career.

Monday, March 03, 2014

Jose Fernandez named Miami opening day starter

Marlins manager Mike Redmond has announced that Jose Fernandez will start on opening day. This is not a surprise. Fernandez was outstanding in 2013, winning the rookie of the year award. His entire season line is impressive, but it is even moreso from June 1 forward. During that time Fernandez made 18 starts, pitched 120 1/3 innings, compiled a 1.50 ERA, struck out 135, walked 37 and gave up only 4 home runs. During that stretch, opponenets hit .161/.234/.224. Arbitrary endpoints and all, but you want a rookie to improve throughout the season, and he certainly did that.

Fernandez is about three years away from being traded in a deal that frustrates the rest of baseball in its unfairness.

View The Dunne Deal's 2014 Opening Day Starting Pitcher Tracker

Patrick Corbin named Arizona opening day starter

Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson announced today on the twitter machine that lefty Patrick Corbin will be the team's opening day starting pitcher. Arizona's opener is, amazingly, less than three weeks away - they have a two-game set with the Dodgers in Australia on March 22 and 23.

The 24-year-old Corbin was acquired back in 2010 in the deal for Dan Haren - which I wrote about at the time and entirely missed the boat on Corbin. At the time I called the deal a steal for the Diamondbacks, because I didn't think Corbin and fellow minor-leaguer Rafael Rodriguez would make up the difference between Haren and Joe Saunders. As it was, that didn't look crazy a year ago - Haren was excellent for the rest of 2010 and again 2011 for the Angels before starting to break down in 2012, while Saunders didn't do anything of note for Arizona. But Corbin has shown signs of blossoming into a front-line starting pitcher.

After an uneven 2012 debut in 107 innings, Corbin won his first nine decisions in 2013. While won-loss record can be misleading, it wasn't in this case - the lefty gave up two runs in six innings in his 2013 debut against Milwaukee. After that, his ERA didn't get back above 3.00 until September 17. His last three starts really inflated his season ERA - he gave up 15 runs on 23 hits in 11 1/3 innings. Any fatigue would have been understandable, as Corbin surpassed 200 innings for the first time. His excellent strikeout, walk, and home run rates indicate that it was no fluke - his 3.41 actual ERA was in-line with his 3.48 xFIP.

Even if Corbin doesn't take that step forward to become a true ace, the pride of Clay, NY has made his 2010 acquisition look astute and his doubters (me) look foolish.

View The Dunne Deal's 2014 Opening Day Starting Pitcher Tracker

2014 Opening Day Starting Pitcher Tracker

For whatever reason, the opening day starting pitcher has always seemed really important to me. In reality, starting the first or second game of the season really makes no difference. A cynical jerk like me shouldn't care about such things. Yet, there's a certain gravitas to being named an opening day starter that I can't look past. If you look through any franchise's history, it really marks the passage of time. There are the long-time standouts, the sophomores coming off of the hot-shot rookie performances, the high-priced free agent signings, and, in the lean times, the guy who simply stunk less than everyone else.

Here I will be compiling a listing of all announced 2013 opening day starters. I also plan to make an entry for each individual, but we'll see how that goes...

AL East
New York:
Tampa Bay:

AL Central
Kansas City

AL West
Los Angeles of Anaheim
Texas: Yu Darvish (209 2/3 IP, 2.83 ERA, 277 K, 80 BB)

NL East
Miami: Jose Fernandez (172 2/3 IP, 2.19 ERA, 187 K, 58 BB; 2013 ROY)
New York

NL Central
Pittsburgh: Francisco Liriano (161 IP, 3.02 ERA, 163 K, 61 BB)
St. Louis

NL West
Arizona: Patrick Corbin (208 1/3 IP, 3.41 ERA, 178 K, 54 BB)
Los Angeles
San Diego
San Francisco: Madison Bumgarner (201 1/3 IP, 2.77 ERA, 199 K, 62 BB)

Last Updated 3/4/2014

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Red Sox sign Grady Sizemore!

It came out last night that the Red Sox have signed outfielder Grady Sizemore to a one year, $750,000 contract. When I found out, my reaction was to run around my apartment all giddy-like. You can ask my wife, I really did that.

This is a great signing, and I'm not just biased because Sizemore is one of my favorite players of all time. First off, Sizemore is not going to be the player he was from 2006 to 2008. Injuries aside, nobody is. Still, that player from 2006 to 2008 was pretty amazing. According to Fangraphs*, the best players in the game for that three year stretch by WAR, and then their WAR from 2011 to 2013: 

Pujols, Albert24.78.7
Utley, Chase22.510.8
Sizemore, Grady21.10.1
Wright, David20.015.1
Beltran, Carlos20.09.7
Rodriguez, Alex19.56.5
Jones, Chipper*18.34.6
Reyes, Jose17.112.1
Holliday, Matt16.814.0
Ramirez, Hanley16.88.9

*Note: I usually prefer Baseball Reference's WAR calculator, but they are pretty close for offense and FanGraphs makes it much easier to sort by multiple years.

*Note 2: Chipper Jones retired following the 2012 season

Anyhow, everyone dropped off. The smallest dropoff was Holliday, who a) is riding a long peak into a possible Hall of Fame career, and b) B-Ref's calcluation is MUCH less impressed with over the past three years. The group includes two definite Hall of Famers (Jones and Pujols), one more who should be a definite Hall of Famer but the voters can't be counted on to not be morons (Utley), a borderline player I'd vote yes on today (Beltran), and a player who would've been a sure thing, except for three years of disaster (Rodriguez). For the other five, Wright, Reyes, Holliday and Ramirez can both play themselves in, leaving Sizemore. Basically, if he'd stayed healthy he'd be a borderline Hall of Famer already. And he's still only 31!

Ok, so he didn't stay healthy. At all. In the last five years he's played 210 games, and in the last two he's played zero. And when he did play, he wasn't nearly what he used to be, hitting .234/.314/.413.

So what's the point, you ask? Well, the Red Sox have some outfield depth, but it isn't necessarily quality depth. And Sizemore's 2009-2011 line, while nothing amazing, looks better in context. The average AL right fielder hit .263/.323/.418 in 2013, and the average left fielder hit .256/.318/.406. Sizemore isn't a center fielder anymore, and the Red Sox shouldn't fool themselves into thinking he is. But as a very-low cost backup with some upside, Sizemore is exactly what the Red Sox need. 

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Top 10 of 2013

2014 is here, so here's a look back on the top ten posts of 2013.

10. Overcoming political differences: Everyone hates Justin Bieber: 5/10
Public Policy Polling researched different artists and did crosstabs with political parties. The results were unsurprising and I wrote two paragraphs on it.

9. The future is here: public and private transportation options bringing people back to the city: 7/5
This was one of my favorite posts of the year, and a topic that I hope to be discussing more in the future.

8. John Lackey, Cole Hamels latest examples that pitcher wins are dumb: 8/28
The last edition in a long series of rants against the inherent foolishness in using the "win" statistic as a basis for evaluating pitchers.

7. Examining the Morse - Jaso - Cole deal: 1/18
The gist of this post was that the addition of Morse to the Mariners didn't make much sense in context. Morse ended up playing so poorly that it ended up being a bad deal for them in almost any context.

6. Trevor Bauer's endearingly awful rapping and its context: 2/14
Happy Valentine's Day? There were a lot of points I tried to make in this point, but Bauer didn't do much for his status as a cultural flashpoint by underachieving at Triple-A.

5. Koji Uehara is better than Jonathan Papelbon: 6/28
My most prescient post of the season, and probably of my entire life. It's amazing how unquestionably obvious the name of this post seems only six months after I wrote it. Some people actually thought that Jonathan Papelbon should be a target for the Red Sox in in July because Uehara didn't have the closer's mentality. What a crock.

4. How to fire a terrible umpire?: 5/10
I still don't know, but Angel Hernandez still stinks and still has a job.

3. Los Angeles Architecture and Design Museum: Astutely ironic, or just terrible? 6/23
My California friends just paid a visit this past week, and we had a good laugh over this place. I can't stress enough that this was the worst exhibit, either as art or as history, that I'd ever paid money for.

2. 10/4/13 playoff marathon liveblog!: 10/4
My annual marathon liveblog was once again a blast. And people loved it! Or at least clicked on it.

1. Red Sox assign new uniform numbers! 1/3
The 2014 edition should arrive shortly! What number will Xander Bogaerts get? Stay tuned to find out.