Smartasses of the world unite!!

Generally a smartass and believer in the Twainism that Against the assualt of laughter, nothing can stand. Mission: mock bigotry, narcisism, and ignorance. This is a collection of thoughts on baseball, politics, economics, and occasional other things.

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Monday, July 28, 2014

BBWAA - you're still full of shit

This weekend, thanks to the Baseball Writers Association of America, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Frank Thomas, Tony LaRussa, Bobby Cox, and Joe Torre were inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown NY.

It wasn't hard, and frankly I'm surprised the BBWAA didn't fuck it up. Seriously these were 5 no brainers. Maddux and Glavine won 300 games, multiple Cy Youngs, and World Series titles. Back of the napkin figures tell me these are the first of the 300 game winners inducted who spent their careers in 5 man rotations. Maddux was the pitcher of the 90s easily. Glavine, while never "The Guy" was always in the discussion. Frank Thomas is the only guy to hit .300,  hit 20 home runs, drive in 100 runs, walk 100 times 7 years running. If it weren't for Barry Bonds, and Ken Griffey Jr. he'd be the dominant hitter in the 90s. Joe Torre? All he did was win 4 World Series in 10 seasons in NY. Love or hate the Yankess, he was the guy at the helm. Tony LaRussa is a huge dick, but he's the best manager of this generation. Bobby Cox would be, if not for LaRussa. How do those guys not get inducted?

So, kudos to the Baseball writers for not screwing it up this year. But you know what? Barry Bonds should be in. So should Mark McGwire, and Roger Clemens. I've heard no compelling reason why they should not be. Steroids? Please. If PEDs were widespread (and they were), that means these guys put up staggering numbers against other juiced players. That's called an even playing field. If PEDs were never used, these guys would still have been among the best players of all time. But, to listen to the BBWAA , these guys by virtue of involvement have sullied the game, irreparably according to some.

If these players deserve not to be enshrined, then maybe some writers shouldn't be in the BBWAA. Writers who wrote glowingly of Clemens, Bonds, and McGwire in the 90s should lose their votes too. It's only right. These players were lionized in the heyday of their careers, and now they're pariahs by the same writers. So, all the writers that lauded the exploits of Barry's 73,McGwire's chase to 70 in 98, and Clemens' career of dominance should be expelled from voting. After all by heaping praise on the guys, who "clearly have sullied the game" and failing to call into question their exploits on the field as unnatural - it's not like steroids were only discovered after 1990 - they clearly don't know baseball well enough to vote on the Hall of Fame.

Sound stupid? You're right. It is stupid. It's as stupid as unofficially blackballing 3 guys who dominated their era.

So congratulations BBWAA for getting something obvious right. Too bad it's the only time you do.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Death Penalty fuckups - seriously!?!?!

This is not a screed/rant against the death penalty. Let's get that cleared up. If we as a society believe in the ultimate penalty for heinous crime, then we do. I mean, although since it was re instituted in the 70's the violent crime rate has gone up so it's not a deterrent. Since the same time 144 people have been exonerated while on death row, and there are doubts about some executions carried out so "reasonable doubt" doesn't seem to hold us back. In spite of these facts, Americans still support the death penalty. So we have it in many states.

But - you knew there was a "but" coming right? - it has to be done right. Recently botched executions like Arizona, Oklahoma and Ohio should not happen. We are civilized, and regardless of why an inmate is executed, a civilized society does not execute with malice. An execution is result of objective justice carried out according to law, not revenge. Families of the victims are free to see it as revenge. The rest of us should not. The US Constitution prohibits "cruel and unusual punishment" in the 8th Amendment. We don't draw and quarter. We don't use the guillotine. We don't crucify, and we should not excuse leaving an inmate gasping on a gurney as "getting what they deserve."

It's really simple. It's either done right (which means according to out values), or it shouldn't be done.

Wow........I thought this would be longer........

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

It's been a busy couple of days.

Since Monday a lot has happened.

Tony Dungy said this in regard to Michael Sam. Now, I don't think it's a homophobic thing to say, and it definitely doesn't make Coach Dungy a homophobe. He's, quite publicly, a conservatively religious man, and that's fine. What he did say is more chickenshit that hateful. "...wouldn't want to deal with it." Come on Coach. That's weak. Here's all you need to say to the media member who eventually wants to go down that road.

"I'm the coach of this team, and Michael Sam is a player trying to make this team. I will answer any question about football. Questions about Micheal's sexuality are not going to be answered. That's his business. If you want to ask him go ahead, but I'm only going to answer football questions."

So, in short, with all due respect Coach Dungy, chickenshit.

I don't confess to being an expert on economics, but I do try to understand it as well as I can. I did see this thing this morning. If the economy is growing slowly, and if wages are stagnant in terms of real dollars (keeping pace with inflation at best), then why is executive compensation rising at a double digit percentage rate? Also why does there seem to be no relationship between executive compensation and a company's performance? This does seem to counter any "trickle down" dogma, and that execs "earn" their packages. I'm confounded that anyone still believes in supply side, and statistically execs don't "earn" their packages.

I don't know what to make of the crisis in the Ukraine. I do think that Putin is a bad guy, and his government, by supporting the separatists, is responsible for the downing of MH17. I think it's hyperbole to call him the next Hitler, and thankfully the talking points have not gone that far. What I do think is happening is he's shitting his own diplomatic bed, and is on his way to pariah status. I also don't think he particularly cares. I do think that war in that part of the world will not be pulling in other countries. Europe we know does not have an appetite for a war in Russia (which historically never works out well), and Americans don't either after the Iraq experience. We'll see is all I can say. I'll need to spend more time thinking on this.

As to the immigration related crisis; seriously, make Mexico a state.

Lastly, LeBron James - the most hated man in sport a scant few weeks ago is giving cupcakes to all his neighbors. What a great way to move home! Who doesn't love a cupcake?

Monday, July 21, 2014

Those who fail to learn the lessons of history........

I saw this. I have to say, if there's one phrase that should discount Mr. Chalabi and the future of Iraq - more precisely the future of the territory formerly Iraq - it should be "Cheney's old pal." I'll leave it to the linked piece to detail all of the red flags regarding Mr. Chalabi. I will say again that Mr. Cheney, and the rest of the neo-cons, should never again be consulted on foreign policy. I mean, how wrong do you have to be before you stop getting invited to give an opinion?

I have an idea, and it's regarding the old "appeasement" argument. History tells us that the mistake the world made in the 1930s was appeasing Hitler, and that's a good lesson. That's not the only lesson that history teaches us, and it's not the most important. We have so overemphasized the appeasement lesson to the detriment of others. After the assassination of the Arch Duke Ferdinand in 1914 the world rushed headlong into World War I. That's pretty much the opposite of appeasement. We have fallen woefully short of appreciating that lesson.

To be clear, in the dichotomous political climate we live in today, I'm not advocating 1930's style appeasement, but I do think that somewhere between appeasement, and "We have to show these guys we mean business." is where the sweet spot is.

Take the latest development in the Russia/Ukraine crisis - the shooting down of MH17. There is little doubt that it was done by the separatists backed by Putin's Russia. Most of the information released indicates that the separatists received the hardware and training to show down aircraft from Russia. That said, there is still an investigation to do, and separatists hindering the efforts to do that only make them look more guilty, but can we start by talking to credible people about the area, and groups involved? That's be a good idea. One more thing, can we talk about what has happened in past comparable occurrence, and not the political mythology?

What I'm saying is that maybe we should heed the lessons of the advent of WWI, and not jump to conclusions, and make decisions that are not thought out thoroughly. There are 3 really big crises going in the world right now; Russia/Ukraine, Israel/Palestine, and the continuing fracture of Iraq and Syria and ISIS. Making a snap decision, and then building a case supporting that to show everyone "we mean business" is foolhardy, and short sighted. Cherry picking information and building up those that support that cheery picked data is what wasted lives and US fortune in the Iraq fiasco. If there's a lesson history can teach us it's that. Being so recent you'd think it'd be reasonably clear. We need to gather information first, THEN make a decision.

So please, stop talking to Dick Cheney.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Is booing Brett Favre really going to happen?

This past week Packers President Mark Murphy announced that this season the Green Bay Packers would NOT be having a half time ceremony at a home game for the retiring Brett Favre's jersey.

Forget the debate about whether the Packers should retire number 4. They should. There is no compelling reason not to retire it. If there is a lynch pin to the renaissance of the Green Bay Packers of the 1990s it's not Ron Wolf, and it's not Mike Holmgren. It's Brett Favre. Case closed.

Forget the drama of Brett leaving Green Bay. Remember, Brett was forced out.

Forget the drama of Brett going through back channels to get to Minnesota. Well, ok. That was a dick move.

Still, time heals all wounds, and who can blame a proud guy for wanting to show the guys who pushed him out that they were wrong. I mean, sure I just got done saying it was a dick move, but it's a dick move you can see the reasoning behind. Let he among us who hasn't wanted to give a big fuck you to someone who rejected him cast the first boo. I think Jesus said that. While there are fans who have said they will never forgive the Minnesota treachery. I think the fact that in 2010 Green Bay kicked Minnesota's ass twice AND Brett had to wear the ugliest uniforms in the NFL for two seasons is come uppence enough.

Look, when Brett Favre's number is retired there's gonna be hardly any booing. I guarantee it. 1st off, time does heal all wounds. The hardliners faction are dwindling in numbers. The flip side of that is the group that is welcoming Brett back is growing.

Here's the reality; scalping tickets is a glorious part of Wisconsin sports. We love the Packers. We also love making a buck on our tickets in the name of sharing access to Lambeau. The waiting list is 60,000 for crying out loud. For many of us secondary markets are the only way in. So when the Packers announce at which game the retirement ceremony will be held the secondary market for those tickets will respond.  Those tickets will be through the roof baby. Through - the - roof. The pro Brett side is growing, and the Brett haters are dwindling. Are the haters gonna pony up big bucks just to get into Lambeau and lustfully boo Brett? How much are you willing to pay just to be among the minority of those who will boo Brett Favre. How bitter do you have to be to drop $500, or $1,000 to boo him?

Truthfully, I don't think we'll hear any boos. The cheers will be too loud. Those will be the fans who pony up cash to get in for the retirement. I wish it was this season.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Just make Mexico a state already.....

Big dealing on the border with Mexico lately. It's all over the news. California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas all border Mexico. That's a long border. Plenty of places for illegal immigrants to leak in through. "Build a fence!!" they say. "They" being those native to these parts - descendants of European immigrants.

I have a solution. Just make Mexico a state. It's pretty big, it might make like 3 or 4, but make one bigger than Texas. I can't stand Texas. Buncha cowboy dipshits. Texas BBQ sucks anyway. Everyone knows Kentucky and Tennessee have better BBQ. Mexican chili is better too. That should be all American now, and the best American chili will be in the state of Mexico. Suck it Texas.

Compare the border of Mexico/USA and Mexico/Guatemala/Belize border. It's like less than 1/3. Fuck it. Close that smaller one. Shit, imagine the savings when the border patrol, and customs bureaucracies shrink with the shorter border to the south. You won't need a passport to take vacation to all inclusive resorts like Punta Cana (never been, but just wanted to say "Punta Cana" great name). Also, hillbilly racists will have to drive all the way to Guatemala to demonstrate. All that money spent boosting the local Mexican - ahem AMERICAN - economy. Also, look at all that beachfront. Develop THAT baby! Lastly, and the anti-soccer pinheads won't care, but the USA will have, like, THE BEST team for World Cup in 2020 if we can get this done by then.

Mexicans become American. They don't need to sneak over the border for a better paying job because minimum wage in Mexico will jump to almost double. "American" corporations can't relocate across the border to get cheaper labor, and more lenient environmental oversight thus disincentiveizing (is that a word? It is now.) shuttering US plants. Fuck you Ford, GM, and Del Monte.

You're welcome America.

Monday, June 30, 2014

How to appreciate the World Cup

I've never been a basketball fan. Not that I didn't enjoy the athleticism, and excitement that at times the game provided. But the nuances, and things that a basketball fan sees and appreciates were lost on me. A buddy, at some point, explained to me that you have to watch the whole game, not the ball. "Movement away from the ball" it's called.

As I've been watching the World Cup that phrase made a return to my consciousness from my recesses of memory. It got past baseball stats, football matchups, jokes, trivia, Bill Murray movie lines, boobie images, shopping lists, errands, and what ever else is there.

Watching soccer is like watching basketball, or hockey. In fact, hockey is basically soccer on ice with players on skates as opposed to cleats. Basket ball is soccer on a wooden floor with the goal raised and shrunk without a goal keeper. It's not the ball so much as players moving and the defenders adjusting. The whole idea of soccer derivatives is to move the ball, the offensive players, and when the defensive players react, adjusting to get a better shot. It's the same thing. Identical. If you can appreciate a backdoor cut on a basketball floor, you can appreciate a centering pass between defenders. A shot off a rebound is the same as it is in hockey. If you find yourself out and a match it on, give it a chance. You don't need to know who Ronaldo is. You don't need to care about who members of the US Mens Team might be.

None of this is to say, or convince, that soccer is as good as basketball or hockey. You may not even really give a shit.