Archive for April 5th, 2006

Links…

Remember when?…“you displayed your flag on the front porch on the 4th of July, and you didn’t have to worry about whether it would be misinterpreted as support for a corrupt president and his administration?”

The Smithsonian signs a deal with Showtime that forces filmmakers to show documentaries made with public records on that channel. Uh…is this the free market at work?

Transcript of Jon Stewart grilling Sen. McCain for getting palsy with Jerry Falwell. Stewart, a “fake” journalist, asks questions “real” journalists don’t. That is, pertinent questions. Crooks and Liars has the video.

The Idaho state legislature proposes legislature that would require parental consent before joining an after-school club. Funny thing is, though, that pretty much all clubs other than a Gay/Straight Alliance Club are exempted.

Uh, oh. Look what novel just won the Blooker (“blog-book”) Prize. I have a feeling I’ll be getting some disappointed visitors in the next day or two. On the other, this just reaffirms the coolness of my blog’s name!

The freepers find excuses for Tom Delay. Makes you feel dirty just reading this stuff.

Similar feelings are evoked reading this Firedoglake post on the Homeland Security pederast. Yuck. Let’s face it: one pederast doesn’t mean there’s a weird culture in that administration. But what about two? Or three?

Dave Budge alerts us that Congress is considering using mycroherbicides to kill drug crops in other countries. This is a bad idea. Click the link to see what you can do.

More baseball stat stuff: ESPN.com has three chapters up from Baseball Prospectus’ Baseball Between the Numbers: Why Everything You Know About the Game is Wrong.” The chapters address whether clutch hitting exists, why Moneyball hasn’t worked in the playoffs, and the effect of a salary cap.

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So…I've wanted to post about fantasy baseball for awhile. But I thought it was too geeky. You see…I love baseball. I love the statistical analysis of baseball. And I love fantasy baseball. (Now you know why there was a dearth of posts yesterday.)

I’ve been playing fantasy ball for years. I’ve got a regular league that includes my pops and friends from school and work. The past two years, we’ve been playing head-to-head.

H2H strategy is totally different than rotisserie where even SBs are important. In rotisserie, you can’t tank on any stat, you need to show up for ‘em all. In H2H, however, you win (like in football) stat categories, so being good at them all doesn’t cut it. You need to always win half your stats, so you can give up categories, like SBs.

In my league, we’ve got 12 categories: the standard 10 (HR, R, RBI, SB, AVG, ERA, WHIP, W, SV) plus batter’s walks and pitcher’s holds.

I designed my team around HRs, BBs, Rs, RBIs, and Holds and Ks. And abandoned altogether SVs, AVG, and SBs, all of which are overvalued. I’m not a fan of AVG and ERA/WHIP, because those stats aren’t predictable on a weekly basis. (Like yesterday, Johan Santana got roughed up.) But Ks are.

My team:
C: R. Hernandez, Bal
1B: A. Dunn, Cin
2B: R. Weeks, Mil
3B: S. Rolen, StL
SS: JJ Hardy, Mil
OF: A. Jones, Atl
OF: JD Drew, LAD
OF: A Kearns, Cin
Util: R. Sexon, Sea
Util: J. Burnitz, Pit
SP: J. Santana, Min
SP: C. Zambrano, ChC
SP: CC Sabathia, Cle
RP: S. Shields, LAA
RP: K. Farnsworth, NYY
P: J. Rincon, Min
P: A. Heilman, NYM
P: J. Papelbon, Bos

I’ve got Matt Cain, Chris Young, Daniel Cabrera, and Tony Clark on my bench.

My biggest worry is that I've got some brittle players on my team: JD Drew, Austin Kearns, and Scott Rolen. (CC Sabathia busted a gut on opening day and was my first casualty.) Still, with the exception of Rolen, my brittle guys came late in the draft and have only upside. If they get hurt, I'll be able to grab the guys off the FA list I would have otherwise been forced to take during the draft.

 The first two days have already shown some surprises. First, I will probably dominate my offensive categories throughout the year. I had six Homers and over 20 RBIs in the first two days of play. Second, both Zambrano and Santana got rocked in their opening starts. Were these guys messed up by the WBC? Still, just like I mentioned earlier about stat predictability, while I'm not doing well in ERA or WHIP, I am leading Ks against my opponent.

So there you go. That's my strategy in a nutshell. I hope none of my league members check in.

The Montana blogosphere heats up on the issue of immigration. In fact, it was surprising how long it took to heat up. Well, finally Eric Coobs over at “What’s Right in Montana[?]” came out, guns blazing:

No amnesty, No guest-workers, and start enforcing the border. If you want to come here, apply for citizenship, and do it right.

Coobs goes on to describe how to immigrate “right.” (Hint: it involves Germanic heritage.)

Pogie tackled the inherent racism in Coobs’ post, comparing it to rhetoric written by Goebbles, and Matt Singer talked about the practical costs of doing it Coobs’ way. (Funny how conservatives are willing to tax and spend to criminalize people, but completely unwilling to spend a dime on, say, the poor. I must have missed a lesson in Sunday school.)

Personally, I’m not at all interested in this debate other than to delight in how it’s splitting the Republican Party. My disinterest doesn’t reflect dispassion; I recognize problems that illegal immigrants cause, but I also have much sympathy for their desire to come to the U.S. and make some decent money. Poverty gives wings? Is that a quote?

No my disinterest stems out of the fact that the solution is inevitable. Mexican works will win a right to guest-worker visas that will lead to citizenship. Current illegals will receive amnesty. No wall will be thrown up along the border. There’s no suspense in this debate. The outcome is foreordained.

John Cole:

The way I see it, a wall is impractical, not granting amnesty is pointless (does anyone really think we are going to round up all the illegals?), I am not convinced by arguments that illegals are an economic drain or boon (if I had to make an uneducated guess, I would argue it is a wash), and if terrorists want to sneak bombs in, they will find a way that does not involve illegals.

The fanatic anti-immigration stance that Coobs so ineptly parrots is vastly unpopular with American voters. In a recent poll, some 72% of voters believe Mexicans should be able to get guest worker permits that lead to citizenship. Coobs’ proposed border tightening is too expensive, as is making felons out of illegals. Politically, taking a hard line on illegals is a recipe for future political bankruptcy. The Hispanic population is the fastest growing group in the country. Karl Rove understands this; it ain’t rocket science as is evidenced by President Bush’s support for a kinder, gentler immigration reform. The GOP professionals over at Coobs’ new site are mum on the issue, too.

But the delicious part of the debate is this: the base of the Republican party hates illegal immigrants and will probably doom the party because of it. Why? Who knows. Probably because they don’t want brown-skinned people moving in next door, brining their “Mexicanist” lifestyle with them. Or, to quote an article linked to by Coobs:

Will millions of unassimilated Mexicans Mexicanize America? We don’t need the worst of Latin America—- endemic corruption, miserable poverty, an impassable chasm between rich and poor. Already the Democrats and Leftist media are delighted by the prospect of a new underclass to exploit and seduce for political gain; they have tried to change the English usage from “illegal immigrant” to “undocumented worker.”

Never mind that creating an “impassable chasm between rich and poor” is a plank in the GOP platform, never mind that Democrats might support illegal immigrants because in their numbers there lies a potential to create from its population of honest, hard-working members fantastic U.S. citizens. Or to quote Coobs’ source again:

The United States became the envy of the world in the 20th century, in ways that could not have been predicted when waves of poor, ignorant, and unassimilated people came ashore at Ellis Island.

(By the way, I suggest that Coobs actually read the articles he links to. While it’s a tad difficult to say exactly where the article’s author, James Lewis, comes down on the issue due to his general mismanagement of words, it seems…ready?…it seems that maybe he kinda likes the idea of lots of Mexicans coming up into the U.S….)

Basically the two camps in the immigration debate can be described thusly: Those that view the U.S. as a gated community of liked-minded and similar-looking people who want to shut out the world; and those that view the country as a stoop on a busy block full of noise, smells, and sights and filled with neighbors.

Put me on the stoop.

Now that the NCAA tournament is over — and the Final Four, as always, a dud — it's time to think about who's going to the NBA. Or who's not going to the NBA.

Thanks to the recent agreement between players and managment, players must put at least one year between themselves and high school before being drafted.

Pro players like this deal, because it reduces competition for jobs.

Management likes this deal because it means that they get to see b-ballers play at least one year of highly competetive basketball before making an pricey investment.

The NCAA likes the deal because it means the best talent in the nation is now forced to make at least an appearance in their leagues.

Of course, the whole thing violates the idea of a free market. According to a free market, players should be allowed to decide when they want to go pro, whether it's 18 or 22. H*ll, if they want, and can compete, they should be able to sign on at 16.

But that's not why I think the idea is garbage. I think it's garbage because it means that kids wholly uninterested in college will now take scholarships and go to school as a try-out for the professional leagues. I don't think college sports should serve as the minor leagues to football and basketball. I don't even think colleges should give out sports scholarships.

Bottom line: the system is in place because it puts money into pockets. College basketball — especially the NCAA tournament — is immensely popular, and big-name programs rake in quite a lot of money because of their teams. And the NBA doesn't have to pay for a minor-league system like baseball's and pay young players to play or set up arenas and practise facilities across the country.

The only folks who don't profit from the deal are the young players themselves. Sure, they recieve a college education — if they finish school. Many programs have a terrible record of graduating their players. They take all the risk, gambling that all their energy focused on their sport will give them a spot in the NBA. They gamble their futures on a one-in-million jackpot. It's like gambling your house on a bingo game.

Still the age minimum is popular with a lot of fans who don't have a financial interest in the outcome. It's reasonable to think that an 18-year-old should have a year or two on their own outside the home before being thrust into the limelight and struggling with all the money, drugs, and sex that accompanies big sports. (Tho' I wish I had their problems, ha.)

The point is this: basketball isn't a simple industry, driven by supply and demand. Culture and tradition drives the game as much as profit. Creating a centralized, planned financial model actually produces a better product — the salary cap and NBA draft helps create parity and more fan interest. Ethics plays a role: the age minimum is ostensibly about creating good men.

I'm not claiming that basketball should be a model for economic success; I'm claiming that basketball is a model of economic reality. Each industry has its own set of unique traits that form how it works or should work. Each industry has ethical and cultural questions to answer to.

Food should be wholesome, even if inexpensive.

Healthcare should be available and affordable for everyone.

The Internet should be open and accessible to all.




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