Thursday, November 30, 2006

Christmas Favorite

It's a BK Holiday

Does it make me a bad person because I love that?
Baseball Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous baseball thoughts and observations.

- The above picture reminds me that Jose Lima is still a free agent.

- Toronto signed Royce Clayton to a one-year $1.5 million deal. This story had an interesting paragraph:
Ricciardi said Wednesday that he wanted to sign a shortstop and that he planned on having Aaron Hill play second base.
Riccardi says he wanted to sign a shortstop - not that he wanted to sign this shortstop. My guess is that Clayton is just a back-up plan (getting back-up player money) and that Toronto is still very much in the hunt for Julio Lugo. My thinking is that Lugo will sign with either Toronto or Boston and that the loser will look for an established second baseman and go with the young Aaron Hill or Dustin Pedroia at short.

- Seeing Jose Lima's wife reminded me that we haven't heard from Kris Benson's wife in quite some time. I wonder if this year she'll be wearing the same Christmas outfit?

- The winter meetings start Monday and I look for the Hot Stove League to be very active between now and then. One prediction - Tom Glavine re-signs with the Mets for one-year and $10-11 million. Another prediction - the Red Sox will either sign Eric Gagne or trade for a closer by December 7th.

- The Cardinals signed Adam Kennedy to play second base. I called that one a couple of weeks ago if you recall.

- Let me go on record as saying I don't believe the talk about JD Drew signing with the Sox. When Theo came back to be the GM - one of his big conditions was putting an end to leaks from the front office. All of a sudden there are stories leaked that the Red Sox are ready to sign Drew? Doesn't add up. What I think is happening is that the Red Sox are allowing Boras to spin the Red Sox as a suitor so that Boras can up the ante with teams like the Giants or Dodgers ("Hey boys - you better act quick because the deep pocket Red Sox are ready to sign him - did you see the piece in SI - but my client really wants to stay on the West Coast but you better act quick.") Maybe the Drew rumor is in exchange for a discount on Matsuzaka?

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

John Edwards and Wal-Mart

Ever since one of John Edwards' volunteers tried to use Edwards' name in order to get one of the very scarce Playstation 3's a week or so ago - many people have been weighing in on how silly it is for Edwards to be attacking Wal-Mart. I think it makes perfect sense for Edwards to attack Wal-Mart. Just understand - he's really not attacking Wal-Mart.

Edwards has two targets with these anti-Wal-Mart screeds. One he wants to bring down and one he wants to raise up.

Edwards' main target is Hillary Clinton. He wants to both bring her down and be able to present himself as a clear choice to her. Hillary was on Wal-Mart's board of directors for 6-years. Wal-Mart's home office is based out of Bentonville, Arkansas. To deny Wal-Mart - Hillary Clinton will have to deny her past. She will have to be disloyal to some of the very people who helped her and her husband get to where they are today. Clinton will either have to embrace the non-union Wal-Mart or she will have to abandon old friends. She'll have to take a stance FOR unions or AGAINST loyalty. John Edwards wants to make her squirm while she makes her choice and for as long after as he can.

Look for Edwards to start talking more and more about loyalty as a key attribute of leadership.

The second group that Edwards is pimping with his anti-Wal-Mart rants are the netroots crowd. They like to think of themselves as superior and both wouldn't be caught dead shopping at Wal-Mart or allow a Wal-Mart in their city without a fight (see San Diego). These elitists are the same people who put Howard Dean in the lead in 2004 and they like feeling important and if donating money to a guy fighting Wal-Mart like Edwards helps them to feel like they are determining the course of the history of this country - who is John Edwards to argue?

Edwards needs something to set himself apart from the rest of the 2008 Democratic field. He's betting on Wal-Mart. Looking at everything else he has to offer (or lacks to offer) - it may be his best bet.
The Last Hurrah

I watched The Last Hurrah starring Spencer Tracy last night on Turner Classic Movies. The movie (and the book) is truly classic but unfortunately the movie (and the book) has started to fade from the public consciousness. The movie was directed by legendary director John Ford and the screenplay was the work of Frank Nugent (who also wrote the screenplay for Ford's The Quiet Man and Forte Apache).

The basic plot of the book is both a thinly veiled biopic of James Michael Curley and also a tale of the changing of the guard in politics. The tale of the old, machine politics, ward boss, dispenser of favors vs the new, young telegenic politician is very spot on. It is instructive and in its way it makes one yearn for the old ways of politics.

The problem with those old Frank Skeffington / James Michael Curley ways is that A: the ugly side of graft and extortion are glossed over and B: they just wouldn't work today. They wouldn't work today because the spoils system of patronage has been replaced by affirmative action and civil service. However, the main reason it wouldn't work is because back then everyone knew everyone else in the neighborhood. Today people may only know a few people who live on their street never mind the neighborhood. Tip O'Neill famously said that all politics is local but that definition of "local" has morphed over the year to be much less specific.

The old school of politcs seems to have died out in this day of sound bites and the the blogosphere but something tells me that selectively using tactics from the old days could be very successful today where machines leaving telephone messages are common and live calls from friends are less frequent. The very word "Hurrah" is as dated and un-used as the old ways of politics. But the word "Hurrah" can be very useful in making a point just as some of the old ways could be useful in gaining a public office

One thing that did bother me was the fact that it was filmed in California and the weather in November (when elections are held) looked so good on screen that it just felt fake.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Jon Stewart

Today is Jon Stewart's 44th birthday and I offer a hearty and hale "Happy birthday!" to the Daily Show funny man. I don't agree with much of Stewart's politics (though I do agree that Tucker Carlson is an empty gong signifying nothing). That doesn't mean I don't enjoy his humor. Stewart signed an extension to his Daily Show contract back in March of 2004 that should keep him on the air until at least 2008 (assuming he doesn't move on to bigger things like taking over for David Letterman when Letterman decides to call it quits).

David Caruso used to be the butt of all career suicide jokes but with Caruso doing his lifeless acting on CSI Miami and getting well paid to do it - I think Craig Kilborn should now be the benchmark against which all poor show business career choices are made. When Kilborn left the Daily Show in 1999 - Jon Stewart took over. Now Jon Stewart is a household name while Kilborn is a distant memory. And for that Craig Kilborn - I thank you.

Jon Stewart and the Daily Show also provided us with what I think is the best summation of the Kerry campaign for President in 2004. After a Kerry appearance on the Daily Show (his only live TV appearance during the final months of the campaign) - Dana Stevens at Slate summarized the appearance thusly:
Kerry's charisma was less than zero: It was negative. He was a charm vacuum, forced to actually borrow mojo from audience members. He was a dessicated husk, a tin man who really didn't have a heart. His lack of vibrancy, his utter dearth of sex appeal made Al Gore look like Charo. . . .
That was Kerry in a nutshell.

And now for your moment of Zen. Jon Stewart interviewing Emma Bunton and Victoria Beckham (two of the Spice Girls) in one of the best moments of the show.

Seinfeld: The Lost Episode

This was very well done and probably the only time you'll see anything on Michael Richards' "rant" here at ALR.

HT ifilus

Monday, November 27, 2006


Yesterday there was news about a new pill that could prevent male ejaculation

Today the stock price of Kimberly-Clark (the makers of Kleenex) is down $0.68 per share.

Randy Wolf to Dodgers?

This may turn out to be the steal of the off-season. Wolf has the stuff to be a staff ace and a lot of the historical stuff bodes well for him. To wit:

1. Pitchers are normally stronger coming off Tommy John surgery and the second season after the surgery is when you see that return to full strength (or better). Wolf had the surgery in 2005.

2. lists Brad Penny as the most similar pitcher to Wolf and Jason Schmidt as the most similar by age. If Wolf comes close to being as effective as either - then the deal is a bargain.

3. Speaking of age - Wolf is just 30 and should be in his prime.

With the signing of Wolf - the Dodgers would have one of the deepest rotations in baseball. They could trot out Brad Penny, Derek Lowe, Wolf, Mark Hendrickson (who did have a bad second half with LA but I look for him to adjust this season) and either Brett Tomko or 23-year old Chad Billingsley. It is also very possible Greg Maddux will return to the fold.

I really like this signing by the Dodgers. I just wished the Red Sox had made the deal.
Fun With Maps

I really got a kick out of this site. My favorites were:

The World According to Ronald Reagan


A Map of the Planet Mongo

There was also an entry on where the phrase "beyond the Pale" actually comes from. I knew this and was actually going to post about it a while ago but now I don't have to.

HT Big Stupid Tommy
The NuttyBuddy

You have to check out this site and YOU HAVE TO WATCH THE VIDEO.

I laughed my ass off. It was like Bull Durham done by Fellini. A pretty girl works the pitching machine, a Japanese-American trainer and a cameo by Chris Sabo and his goggles.

HT Buck

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Ohio State vs USC for BCS Championship

With the win over Notre Dame on Saturday night - USC has all but wrapped up a chance to play in the national championship game against Ohio State on January 8th. The Trojans still have to beat UCLA next Saturday and stranger things have happened than a Bruins upset but I think the safe bet is for USC fans to book their trips now.

Possibly lost in the discussion of the worthyness of a one-loss USC vs a one-loss Michigan in a rematch with Ohio State is the ramifications of what undoubtably was to me the play of the year.

In the waning moments of the Louisville and Rutgers game - Jeremy Ito of the Scarlet Knights tried a field goal with the score tied. His kick missed but William Gay of Louisville jumped offsides. With 13 seconds remaining - Jeremy Ito made his second chance kick and Louisville was knocked from the ranks of the undefeated. If that game goes to overtime - maybe Louisville wins it and is undefeated today.

Could the BCS have kept an unbeaten Louisville out of the championship game? I think not.

The national championship will be decided by the final score of the January 8th game but it boggles the mind to think that who will play in that game may have come down to an offsides call on a defensive lineman from early November.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Is Iraq in the Midst of a Civil War?

Noted military historian John Keegan takes a look at the question. The key paragraphs:
Could Iraq be the first civil war ever without battles, generals, explicit war aims, the use of partisan public rhetoric by civilian leaders, mass public participation and targets of a predominantly military nature? Even if Iraq today possessed these characteristics, it would still lack something even more important: the struggle for authority. In Iraq, the state actors are fighting for authority. But the others are not, which is probably why we do not hear from them. The Shia militias are the armed wings of the two biggest parties in parliament, and their people own the top ministries. Neither Badr nor the al-Sadr movement is big enough or strong enough to own the state itself. They balance each other while the Sunnis, whose violent actors are far smaller, provide the final guarantee against a full grab for power by either. It is no coincidence that the only player, apart from the state, that acknowledges war aims is the only player whose war aims constitute the traditional aspiration of exclusive control: the religious element of the Sunni insurgency. The aspiration to a new Baghdad caliphate frees the Wahhabis and Salafists from the pragmatic calculations of al-Sadr or the Baathists, and lets them dream of control, and talk about it on their websites.

Objectively, it must be concluded that the disorders in Iraq do not constitute a civil war but are nearer to a politico-military struggle for power. Such struggles in Muslim countries defy resolution because Islam is irreconcilably divided over the issue of the succession to Muhammad. It might be said that Islam is in a permanent state of civil war (at least where there is a significant minority of the opposing sect) and that authority in Muslim lands can be sustained only by repression if the state takes on a religious cast, since neither Shia nor Sunni communities can concede legitimacy to their opponents.
To me the words "civil war" seem to be thrown around with the carelessness of the word "quagmire" or shouted as part of a slogan like "no blood for oil" with the same amount of ignorance of the underlying facts of the matter.

It seems to me that the phrase "nature abhors a vacuum" is the most apt to describe the violence in Iraq. There are small pockets where control is not secure and this power vacuum breeds the opportunity for violence as part of the grab for power. If the US and coalition forces were to "redeploy" from Iraq - that would create a tremendous vacuum at the top and this huge vacuum would cause a true civil war.

Thus it would be a self-fufilling prophesy. The people who say Iraq is in the midst of a civil war now and want us to pull the troops out would cause the civil war and mass bloodshed they imagine today by pulling the troops out.

Friday, November 24, 2006

2006 Walter Payton Award Finalists

The folloing players (listed alphabetically) are the finalists for the 2006 Walter Payton Award (the Heisman equivalent for 1-AA football players). Who will be the next Tony Romo (2002 award winner)?

David Ball, WR, New Hampshire
Steve Baylark, RB, Massachusetts
Clifton Dawson, RB, Harvard
Jerome Felton, FB, Furman
Justise Hairston, RB, Central Connecticut State
Josh Johnson, QB, San Diego
Marcus Mason, RB, Youngstown State
Jason Murrietta, QB, Northern Arizona
Justin Rascati, QB, James Madison
Pierre Rembert, RB, Illinois State
Kevin Richardson, RB, Appalachian State
Ricky Santos, QB, New Hampshire
D.D. Terry, RB, Sam Houston State
Tyler Thigpen, QB, Coastal Carolina
Steve Walker, QB, North Dakota State
Arkee Whitlock, RB, Southern Illinois

I'm sticking with my pick of Josh Johnson of San Diego as the favorite to win the award.

You can find information on all the finalists here.
Top 5 - Christmas Songs by Rock Stars

Today is traditionally not just the first shopping day for Christmas but also the day when most radio stations start playing Christmas tunes (although there are some out there that started playing them on November 1st- which really bugs me). Anyway - here are the top 5 Christmas songs by rocks stars in my estimation (and yes Jim - I really do these lists myself).

1. Santa Claus is Coming to Town - Bruce Springsteen
2. Do They Know It's Christmas - Band Aid
3. Father Christmas - The Kinks
4. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen - Bare Naked Ladies
5. Little Drummer Boy - Bing Crosby and David Bowie

Thursday, November 23, 2006

The Ultimate Showdown

This is the hot song among the Lynch kids. Some of the lyrics are actually quite clever. And of course - being the dad - I'm four months behind the times.
Dr. Nick Riviera Makes Today's Football Picks

(Today ALR is lucky to have a special Thanksgiving guest in to make the football picks and that guest is none other than Dr. Nick Riviera from The Simpsons. Without further ado – we turn things over to Dr. Nick.)

Hello everybody! The first game we have today is Miami at Detroit. Miami is giving 3 points. I’ve always liked Miami since my days of med school in the Caribbean. I have to say that if I were a GM of a major sports team – I would be the Matt Millen of GM’s. That’s why I’m putting my money on the Dolphins. Pick – Miami.

Next up is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers against the Dallas Cowboys who are giving the 11 points. I must tell you that every time I see Bill Parcells at a press conference – I think to myself, “Calm down old man, you're going to give yourself skin failure!" The 11 points look like too many points so I’m going to recommend going with the Buccaneers. Pick – Tampa Bay.

This year the NFL has a bonus game matching up the Denver Broncos and the Kansas City Chiefs who are giving 1.5 points at home. If I were an NFL coach then I’d probably be Rich Kotite but Herm Edwards would be my second choice. That’s why I’m taking the Broncos. Pick – Denver.

There is also a college game tonight that has Boston College going against Miami in Miami with BC giving 4.5 points. I know I said earlier that I love Miami but I have a history with the University of Miami. I became quiet close with the players there after they learned that I can prescribe anything I want. From knowing the players there I realize that this game is the only thing keeping the Miami players from partying the rest of the year. The Eagles, however, need this game if they want to win their division in the ACC and go to a major bowl game. Boston College also deals with real doctors and that’s why I like the Eagles to win this game. Pick – Boston College.

Happy Thanksgiving everybody. All right! Free nose jobs for everybody!! See you in the operating place!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

As God as My Witness - I Thought Turkeys Could Fly!

Perhaps the funniest five minutes of network TV ever.
The Real Thanksgiving

I've read a similar article on several occasions now but have never linked to them. I do think it is worth taking note of though - especially these sections:
In the harvest feasts of 1621 and 1622, "all had their hungry bellies filled," but only briefly. The prevailing condition during those years was not the abundance the official story claims, it was famine and death. The first "Thanksgiving" was not so much a celebration as it was the last meal of condemned men.
To rectify this situation, in 1623 Bradford abolished socialism. He gave each household a parcel of land and told them they could keep what they produced, or trade it away as they saw fit. In other words, he replaced socialism with a free market, and that was the end of famines.
Then the Jamestown colony was converted to a free market, and the results were every bit as dramatic as those at Plymouth. In 1614, Colony Secretary Ralph Hamor wrote that after the switch there was "plenty of food, which every man by his own industry may easily and doth procure." He said that when the socialist system had prevailed, "we reaped not so much corn from the labors of thirty men as three men have done for themselves now."
This is the real lesson to be learned from "the First Thanksgiving." If America truly is a "City on a Hill" it is the ideal of every man having the opportunity to be successful as his labors will take him that is the true beacon of the country.
What Eric McErlain is Thankful For

I'm linking to this column by Eric McErlain because I like Eric and secondly because he does not mention the Boston Bruins (I am boycotting everything to do with the Bruins).

One piece of food for thought from Eric got me thinking:
But in addition, general manager Brian Burke was able to import Chris Pronger from Edmonton, uniting the league's toughest defenseman with Scott Niedermayer, the sweetest skating defenseman in the game. Just add ice, and you've got one of the most devestating blue line combinations in the history of the game
History of the game? My first thought was of Larry Robinson and Serge Savard (not to mention Guy Lapointe and Robinson) from those great Montreal teams from the late 1970's. However Eric said "one of" not "the" so I'll have to agree.
Happy Birthday Rodney

Today would have been Rodney Dangerfield's 85th birthday. Some of my favorite Dangerfield one-liners.
My wife was afraid of the dark... then she saw me naked and now she's afraid of the light.
Yeah, I know I'm ugly... I said to a bartender, 'Make me a zombie.' He said 'God beat me to it.'
I come from a stupid family. During the civil war my great uncle fought for the west
I worked in a pet store and people would ask how big I would get.
I remember the time I was kidnapped and they sent back a piece of my finger to my father. He said he wanted more proof.
I was so depressed that I decided to jump from the tenth floor. They sent up a priest. He said " on your mark ......"
John-John's Birthday and Daddy's Funeral

I have noted this before and since today is the anniversay of JFK being shot in Dallas in 1963 - I thought I'd mention it again.

Kennedy was shot on this day and buried at Arlington National Cemetary on the 25th. The 25th is also John F. Kenney Jr.'s birthday (born 1960). Can you imagine going through life having your birthday being the same anniversary of the day your father was laid to rest?

Just wanted to bring this up in case there were others out there who may not have known.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Top Five – Movies About Business

FARK had a link to an article naming their top 10 movies about business. None of my movies made that list. My list is better.

1. Barbarians at the Gate (funny because its true look at business from the top down)
2. Office Space (funny because its "true" look at business from the bottom up)
3. It’s a Wonderful Life (at its heart a tale of a good savings and loan businessman vs. an evil banker)
4. Wall Street (the movie which gave us the catch phrase “greed is good”)
5. (tie) The Secret of My Success (tie) You've Got Mail (I have a soft spot for these movies)
Tom Glavine

I’m surprised that the Mets declined the option on Tom Glavine. It would have cost them $14 million for one year and that is a lot of money but the Mets are very thin on starting pitching and finding a pitcher who can replace Glavine’s 200 innings and sub 4.00 ERA will be difficult. Finding a lefty to fit that bill will be near impossible.

With Pedro Martinez hurt and Steve Trachsel gone – the Mets may have to get some more emergency starts from Jose Lima (that’s how thin they are). Now it is still possible that Tom Glavine will be back with the Mets next season but now the Mets have to compete with the Braves for his services and I think Glavine’s heart (as well as his family) is still in Atlanta. Dumb move by the Mets.

The Braves have a pretty good starting five as it is – Tim Hudson, John Smoltz, Mike Hampton (coming back from injury), Horatio Ramirez, and Chuck James (with Kyle Davies available if someone gets hurt). Maybe they don’t want the extra salary that comes with Glavine (he did spurn them to sign with the Mets in the first place). I have a tough time seeing the Braves wrap up close to $70 million in four starting pitchers (Hudson, Smoltz, Hampton and Glavine) plus Andruw and Chipper Jones.

It is also rumored that the Braves were looking at a deal with the Padres for Jake Peavy. I don’t think that is true but neither do I think the assumption that the Braves will roll-over for Glavine to be true either.

I know that Glavine has said he’d limit the bidding to the Braves and Mets but I wonder if he’d be open to taking a bid from the Red Sox. The Red Sox may just have to offer one-year at $14 million to get it done.
Peter Jackson Won’t Be Directing “The Hobbit”

New Line Cinema has told Peter Jackson “thanks but no thanks” in regards to directing the Lord of the Rings prequel (in essence that’s what The Hobbit is).

The way I see it – New Line can go in either one of two directions with this movie. They can go for a completely new look and feel from the highly successful Lord of the Rings movies – in which case nobody from that series of movies would be required for this movie. Or they could try and make this the fourth film in the LOTR series. In that case it is really only important to have Ian McKellen (Gandalf) and Andy Serkis (Gollum) back (since they are the only LOTR characters to also feature prominently in he Hobbit – Bilbo would be a younger actor instead of the older version of Bilbo played by Ian Holm).

I am a huge LOTR fan but I have no excitement in me for the release of this movie. Instead I think the time is more ripe for a LOTR satire movie along the lines of Airplane or The Naked Gun. That movie I’d pay to see.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Nomar vs. the Big Hurt

Now that Nomar Garciaparra has resigned with the Dodgers for 2-years and $18.5 million - I got to thinking about what sort of deal Nomar will end up being. The most similar contract signed so far this offseason was Frank Thomas' contract with the Blue Jays (2-years $18 million) so I thought I'd compare the two deals.

- Many people consider Nomar to be injury prone and I won't argue that point but did you know that this season Nomar actually had 3 more at bats than Frank Thomas? And when Nomar played it was at the plate and in the field where his fielding percentage at first was second in the NL (and tied with Albert Pujols who won the Gold Glove at first).

- Frank Thomas was perhaps the most dangerous hitter in the AL after the All-Star break but he finished the season with just 17 more bases than Nomar (who had 237 total bases to Thomas' 254). Thomas had 39 HR but just 11 doubles (I wonder how many of them were the ground rule variety?) and no triples. Fact is if you saw Thomas try to run you know that he gave new meaning to the word "hobbled" this season. Meanwhile Nomar remains one of the smartest baserunners in baseball.

If you look at off the field tangibles then the edge clearly goes to Nomar. The Big Hurt redefines "surly" while Nomar is Mexican-American in the biggest Latino market in the country and he is married to soccer star Mia Hamm. I think both signings will prove to be good for their teams but I think overall Nomar may end up having the greater impact.
Nice Dunk!

I wonder if this is really legal.
What Does a Pork Project Cost Your State?

Many people look at federal pork projects with the attitude of "as long as I get mine." This attitude almost presupposes that the federal money for these projects grows on trees. In fact that money for these projects comes from hard earned federal tax dollars collected from each state in the Union.

I was curious about how much my state of Massachusetts would have to pay for pork projects like the $223 million bridge to nowhere in Alaska (answer - $6.24 million would come out of the pocket of Massachusetts taxpayers). Below you can find a list of what percentage of every dollar collected in federal tax revenues comes from each state (as shown by how many cents out of each tax dollar).

Conversely, using the below information I find that the citizens of Tennessee are expected to pay almost $27,000 towards building a $1.4 million Bass River Park Gateway in Dennis, MA. Not sure if many folks from Tennessee will make it to Cape Cod but at least $27,000 of their tax dollars sure are thanks to pork projects like the Bass River Park Gateway (I've lived my whole life in Massachusetts and I've never heard of the Bass River).

If you want to figure out how much a pork project will cost the taxpayers of your state just take the total cost of the project and multiply that by the number next to your state. For example you could take a $1 million Robert Byrd pork project (just pick any one of them) and find that of that $1 million going to waste in West Virginia $117,000 came from the folks in California ($1 million x $.117).

Alabama - $.009 out of every $1 in taxes collected
Alaska - $.0015 out of every $1 in taxes collected
Arizona - $.013 out of every $1 in taxes collected
Arkansas - $.011 out of every $1 in taxes collected
California - $.117 out of every $1 in taxes collected
Colorado - $.017 out of every $1 in taxes collected
Connecticut - $.02 out of every $1 in taxes collected
Delaware - $.006 out of every $1 in taxes collected
District of Columbia - $.008 out of every $1 in taxes collected
Florida - $.051 out of every $1 in taxes collected
Georgia - $.03 out of every $1 in taxes collected
Hawaii - $.003 out of every $1 in taxes collected
Idaho - $.003 out of every $1 in taxes collected
Illinois - $.053 out of every $1 in taxes collected
Indiana - $.017 out of every $1 in taxes collected
Iowa - $.008 out of every $1 in taxes collected
Kansas - $.008 out of every $1 in taxes collected
Kentucky - $.008 out of every $1 in taxes collected
Louisiana - $.011 out of every $1 in taxes collected
Maine - $.003 out of every $1 in taxes collected
Maryland - $.02 out of every $1 in taxes collected
Massachusetts - $.028 out of every $1 in taxes collected
Michigan - $.03 out of every $1 in taxes collected
Minnesota - $.03 out of every $1 in taxes collected
Mississippi - $.004 out of every $1 in taxes collected
Missouri - $.017 out of every $1 in taxes collected
Montana - $.0016 out of every $1 in taxes collected
Nebraska - $.007 out of every $1 in taxes collected
Nevada - $.007 out of every $1 in taxes collected
New Hampshire - $.004 out of every $1 in taxes collected
New Jersey - $.045 out of every $1 in taxes collected
New Mexico - $.003 out of every $1 in taxes collected
New York - $.088 out of every $1 in taxes collected
North Carolina - $.027 out of every $1 in taxes collected
North Dakota - $.0013 out of every $1 in taxes collected
Ohio - $.043 out of every $1 in taxes collected
Oklahoma - $.013 out of every $1 in taxes collected
Oregon - $.009 out of every $1 in taxes collected
Pennsylvania - $.042 out of every $1 in taxes collected
Rhode Island - $.004 out of every $1 in taxes collected
South Carolina - $.0075 out of every $1 in taxes collected
South Dakota - $.0017 out of every $1 in taxes collected
Tennessee - $.019 out of every $1 in taxes collected
Texas - $.075 out of every $1 in taxes collected
Utah - $.005 out of every $1 in taxes collected
Vermont - $.0016 out of every $1 in taxes collected
Virginia - $.024 out of every $1 in taxes collected
Washington - $.02 out of every $1 in taxes collected
West Virginia - $.0024 out of every $1 in taxes collected
Wisconsin - $.017 out of every $1 in taxes collected
Wyoming - $.0014 out of every $1 in taxes collected

The numbers are via the Tax Policy Center and are for 2005. The numbers have been rounded to make them easier to work with.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Ned Flanders Makes Today's NFL Picks

(Today ALR is lucky enough to have a guest come in to make today's NFL picks and that guest is none other than Ned Flanders from The Simpsons. Without further ado - here are Ned's picks.)

Oakland at Kansas City (-9.5): Seeing Art Shell always reminds me of Matthew 7:26.: "A foolish man who built his house on sand." Pick - Kansas City.

Cincinnati at New Orleans (-3.5): How could I pick against the Saints? Pick - New Orleans.

Pittsburgh (-4) at Cleveland: This game promises to be as exciting as plain white bread with a glass of water on the side for dippin' but something tells me that the Browns will overcome. Romeo Crennel always had an answer for Bill Cowher when Crennel was in New England. Pick - Cleveland.

Tennessee at Philadelphia (-13): Well, sir, I hate to be suspicious aloysius on you but 13 points is a lot of points to give up. I sense a trap. Pick - Tennessee.

Atlanta at Baltimore (-4): I personally dislike Michael Vick and Ray Lewis more than I disliked seeing Othello staring Peter Marshall but since often when I'm on the road staying at a Motel 6 I use the assumed name of Ron Bethlehem I'm going with the Falcons. Pick - Atlanta.

St. Louis at Carolina (-7): Listen folks there's no magic formula. I just follow the three C's: clean living, chewing thoroughly and a daily dose of vitamin church. And in all my time of going to church not once did I see the Bible mention a Saint Louis. Pick - Carolina.

Buffalo at Houston (-3): I once saw an oil stain that looks like St. Barnabus and if Houston was still called the Oilers - I'd pick them. Pick - Buffalo.

New England (-6) at Green Bay: Tom Brady and Brett Favre are two quarterbacks that really put the "shaz" in "shazam"! I'm really looking forward to this game but I hope that John Madden isn't doing the announcing because him constantly breaking the first commandment when he talks about Brett Farve gets on my nerves. Pick - New England.

Washington at Tampa Bay (-3): Okilly-dokilly I'm just going to go with the home team on this one. I can't see how breaking in a new QB on the road is a good idea. Pick Tampa Bay.

Chicago (-7) at New York Jets: Well get out the Crayolas and color me tickled pink because I love the Bears giving up a touchdown or less. Pick - Chicago.

Minnesota at Miami (-3.5): The Council of Presbylutheran Ministers still haven't forgiven the Vikings for last seasons bye-week and neither have I. Pick - Miami.

Detroit at Arizona (-2): I've done everything the Bible says - even the stuff that contradicts the other stuff! But even if the Bible told me I had to watch this game I'm not sure if I could do it. Pick - Arizona.

Seattle (-3) at San Francisco: Gambling is strictly forbidden in Deutoronomy 7 but the folks in San Francisco break all the rules set forth in Deutoronomy. Pick - Seattle.

Indianapolis (-1.5) at Dallas: Peyton Manning used to chair the Citizens' Committee on Moral Hygiene with me so how could I pick against him? Pick - Indianapolis.

San Diego at Denver (-3): Mike Shanahan just looks evil. Pick - San Diego.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Funny Rumsfeld Video

I think everyone (on both sides of the aisle) could get a kick out of this.

HT Cosmic Tribune
Hot Stove Rumors

There is a baseball rumor that I would like to discuss this morning.

People like SI's Jon Heyman have reported that the Red Sox are interested in JD Drew and the Rocky Mountain News has even reported that Drew is "expected" to sign a 2-year $30 million deal with Boston. Either way - 2-years at $30 million or 4-years at $50 million plus - the idea of signing JD Drew bothers me.

With Drew the Red Sox would have 4 outfielders who should play every day - Drew, Manny Ramirez, Coco Crisp and Wily Mo Pena. With Drew in the fold - that means one of the other three probably gets traded. Let's look at all three:

1. What would an offseason be without Manny being traded rumors? The thing is - now his formerly huge contract is down to just 2-years and slightly less than $40 million. That's a bargain for a hitter like Manny. And let's not forget that losing Manny would also reduce the productivity of David Ortiz since everyone and their brothers would now simply walk Ortiz without a Manny to protect him in the line-up. I HATE the idea of trading Manny. The only way it would make sense to me is if Manny's knee is worse than reported and that Manny is now at the point where he needs to be a DH.

2. Trading Coco Crisp wouldn't make me tear up. I've long advocated an under contract Crisp (3-years $15 million with a 2010 option) for Torii Hunter ($12 million for 2007) trade (but trading for Hunter with Drew already signed makes no sense at all). However, if Crisp was traded for prospects or pitching then Wily Mo Pena could play center, Drew play right and Manny play left. That would be OK by me.

3. Trading Wily Mo Pena makes no sense to me either. Pena is dirt cheap compared to the other outfielders and he's just 24-years old. The Red Sox would have to get a pitcher better than Bronson Arroyo for the transaction to make sense.

But why sign JD Drew in the first place? Why let the 32-year old, lefty, NASCAR loving Trot Nixon leave as a free agent but bring in the lefty, redneck, 31-year old Drew to take his place? Letting Nixon leave is a good move but bringing Drew in to replace him in the current situation makes no sense unless there is some MLB affirmative action policy quota for rednecks that I don't know about.

Drew is often-injured (you can't read a story about him without that qualifier being attached to his name) but he's also lost a step (witness just 2 stolen bases last year with 3 caught stealing). His power also seems to be slipping (witness his HR per AB rate which went from 1 HR every 16.8 AB in 2005 to 1 HR every 24.7 AB in 2006). All the red flags are there with Drew so why would the Red Sox ignore them and sign Drew? It makes no sense to me.

Friday, November 17, 2006

John Edwards

I happen to think John Edwards is perhaps the biggest phony in politics - so it came as no surprise that he was also a hypocrite when it came to Wal-Mart. Why people think attacking Wal-Mart is good politics is a mystery to me but hey - if they want to keep barking up the wrong tree - let them waste their breath.

Just for fun - here are two quotes that could "somewhat" be attributable to John Edwards:
"I think the vice president and his wife love their daughter. I think they love her very much. And you can't have anything but respect for the fact that they're willing to talk about the fact that they have a gay daughter, the fact that they embrace her. It's a wonderful thing. And there are millions of parents like that who love their children, who want their children to be happy. Too bad millions of these parents have to shop at places like Wal-Mart and Pay-Less to buy their children shoes. Its bad enough that some of these gay children have to bear the barbs of being made fun of because they are gay but to also be made fun of because they wear Wal-Mart sneakers is just too much." John Edwards in the Vice Presidential Debates (a quote that often gets truncated)
If we can do the work that we can do in this country -- the work we will do when John Kerry is president -- people like Christopher Reeve are going to walk. Get up out of that wheelchair and walk again. I just hope that Christopher Reeve never walks through the doors of a Wal-Mart." John Edwards October 2004 (another quote that often gets truncated)
To paraphrase Conan O'Brien, "John Edwards keeps saying there are two Americas - thank God neither voted for him."
Steve Finley

Chances are that Steve Finley will be done as a professional baseball player. I don't think that's his choice but who is going to sign a soon to be 42-year old centerfielder who last year hit just .246? If Finley's career is over then he's got nothing to ashamed about. Finley may not make the Hall of Fame but he certainly would get voted into the Hall of Very Good.

Consider that for his career Finley is top 100 all-time in the following categories:

- Games (39th)
- At Bats (46th)
- Total Bases (62nd - more than Hall of Famers Wade Boggs or Rod Carew among others)
- Doubles (81st - one more than Rod Carew)
- Triples (90th)
- Extra Base Hits (tied for 59th with sure fire Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson)

Finley was only an All-Star twice but five times he won a Gold Glove for his work in the outfield. Perhaps the biggest feather in Steve Finley's cap is the fact that he has hit over 300 HR (303) and stole over 300 bases (320). Only six players in history have accomplished that feat (Barry Bonds, Willie Mays, Andre Dawson, Bobby Bonds, Steve Finley and Reggie Sanders).

: I got to thinking about the six players who are in the 300 / 300 club and I got to wondering why Rickey Henderson wasn't listed. It turns out that Rickey has just 297 HR but it also turns out that Rickey had 1658 more at bats than Finley which to me makes the fact that Finley is tied with Rickey for career extra base hits that much more extraordinary an accomplishment by Finley. Maybe there's a much better case for Finley than first meets the eye?
The Reagan Tax Cuts

It seems just common sense to me that the average American is much more efficient in their spending than the government ever will be and that this spending efficiency spurs economic growth. Cutting taxes puts more money in the hands of average citizens. Economic growth spurred by increased efficient spending increases tax revenues. Again this seems to have proved often enough to be taken as fact.

Daniel Henninger has a piece in today's Wall Street Journal looking at how the example of the Reagan Tax cuts have spurred economic growth through-out the world (or at least Eastern Europe).

It is my hope that the words "tax and spend" become synonomous with "stagnate and die" because raising taxes and increased spending leads to just that - economic stagnation and the death of any growth in the private sector.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Wow - Just Wow!

The title of this thread is the reaction I have everytime I see this video or hear Johnny Cash sing this song.
Chris Lynch Solves the Iraqi Dilemma In Three Easy Steps

The problems in Iraq are many and I have been one who scoffed at people who would treat the War on Terror as a police matter. However, I have come around to the belief that many of the problems in Iraq could be solved or at least lessened by adopting some innovative solutions including some law and order initiatives. My recommendations? Glad you asked.

1. First I would send more US troops over. Not an overwhelming number but enough to increase patrols and really get the training of Iraqi troops accomplished. As pointed out in the fine book Freakonomics by Steven Levitt and Steven Dubner - one of the keys to lowering crime is more police on the street. Many of the issues plaguing Iraq are crime-like most resembling the turf war among rival gangs. A proven way of reducing crime may reduce the murders, kidnappings and other lesser crimes being committed is to add more cops on the beat.

2. Create a National Oil Fund which would take half (or any percentage you wish to assign) of the oil profits from the sale of Iraqi oil and distribute it to the Iraqi citizens. I first heard this idea advocated by Glenn Reynolds over at Instapundit. I would add a wrinkle to the idea though. I would have the money designated by city or town and if any insurgent activity happened in that city or town then monies would be taken out of that city or town's fund to pay for the damage (death benefits, hospital costs, rebuilding cost, etc.).

3. Give members of the Iraqi army or police forces double the normal amount from the oil fund (in addition to the normal salary) and make this amount not subject to the penalties mentioned above. At the same time however, make conduct guidelines for keeping those jobs rather strict so that being a member of the army of the police becomes a well-paid job that people would not risk by doing extra-legal activities.

I think if you did the above three items then Iraqis would have much less tolerance for any insurgents in their cities and towns because they would literally be taking money out of the citizens' pockets. People who live in towns with no insurgent related violence would enjoy a literal peace dividend.

If the fund ended up giving an estimated extra $1,000 to "peace-loving" Iraqis then can you imagine the impact that would have in a country where according to the CIA World factbook the per-capita GNP is just $1,800?

Can you imagine the reduction of violence possible when Iraqis would have the incentive to almost double their income by not just being law-abiding but also making sure that their neighbors do the same?
Great Thanksgiving Story

With Thanksgiving just around the corner I thought I would re-post what is perhaps my favorite Thanksgiving story which comes from Gabe Kaplan (of Welcome Back Kotter fame).

When Gabe was a kid – his older sister was embarrassed about becoming a young woman. She used to have the young Kaplan go into the drug store to buy her Sanitary Napkins. Gabe was curious and asked his sister just what these things were.

“Oh, they’re special occasion napkins,” she would reply.

This explanation was enough for Kaplan and he didn’t give it another thought.

Then one Thanksgiving morning – young Gabe was left alone at home while his parents and older sister drove to the airport to pick up his uncle. Gabe was left with the job of setting the table for Thanksgiving. Then it occurred to him, “what could be more of a special occasion than Thanksgiving?”

Needless to say – his parents were confused, his sister was very embarrassed but his uncle couldn’t stop laughing when they came home and saw the creative way young Gabe had set the table for Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Heh Heh - Joke of the Day

This was emailed to me. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
A nice young woman on a flight from Switzerland said to the priest beside her, "Father, may I ask a favor?"

"Of course. What may I do for you?"

"Well, I bought an expensive electronic hair remover that is well over the Customs limits and I'm afraid they'll confiscate it. Is there anyway you could carry it through Customs for me? ..Under your robes perhaps?"

"I would love to help you, dear, but I must warn you: I will not lie."

"With your honest face, Father, no one will question you."

When they got to Customs, she let the priest go ahead of her. The official asked, "Father, do you have anything to declare?"

"From the top of my head down to my waist, I have nothing to declare."

The official thought this answer strange, so asked, "And what do you have to declare from your waist to the floor?"

"I have a marvellous little instrument designed to be used on a woman, which is, to date, unused."

Roaring with laughter, the official said, "Go ahead, Father." "Next!"
The Joseph Campbell Interview

A Large Regular was lucky enough to get a few minutes of time from Joseph Campbell the world renown expert in comparative mythology who has recently shown a great interest in American politics.

ALR: First off thank you for your time and secondly - how should I address you? Is it Dr. Campbell? Professor Campbell?

JC: Just call me Joe. And thank you for giving me the opportunity and platform to make these observations on current American politics. Its funny but while I was alive - I had no real interest in politics but since I've been dead I've found politics to be great fun.

ALR: Great fun? How so?

JC: Well with my background in comparative mythology I tend to look at things a little bit different than most people. For instance I cannot help but think modern American politics is some sort of manifestation of the Nigerian trickster god Edshu.

ALR: I'm sorry but could you explain that for me.

JC: Sure Chris. The Nigerian god Edshu is a trickster god whose greatest joy is to spread strife. The most famous story about Edshu is about him walking down the road one day wearing a hat that is colored red on one side and blue on the other side. When the farmers in the fields go into the village in the evening, the farmers from one side of the road say, "Did you see that god with the blue hat?" And the others from the other side of the road say, "No, no, he had a red hat on." And they get into a fight. Edshu makes it even worse by first walking in one direction and then turning around and turning his hat around, too, so that again it will be red or blue. This is just like American politics today even down to the colors red and blue. Take any politician and the description of them depends alomost entirely on whether the person sees a red hat (Republican) or a blue hat (Democrat). So the people who see a red hat look at George Bush, for example, one way and the people who see a blue hat see a completely different George Bush. Same is true for almost every major politician from either side. It's just like the type of joke Edshu would pull.

ALR: You wrote extensively about mythology in regards to the hero's journey. Do you see anyone in politics today who could be a hero in the mythological sense?

JC: No - not really. You see politics and being a hero don't go hand in hand. Most people go into politics not just to be part of the crowd but to lead the crowd. The hero's journey, however, is a lonely journey. James Joyce once wrote, "I do not fear to be alone. And I am not afraid to make a mistake, even a great mistake, a lifelong mistake, and perhaps as long as eternity too." Politicians fear making mistakes especially when they think they will cost them votes. A politician unafraid to make a mistake would never look at a poll and we all know that all politicians look at polls.

ALR: But don't some political figures reach mythic hero status? I'm thinking in particular of John Kennedy.

JC: You are confusing being famous with being a mythic hero. Al Jolson was perhaps the most famous man in America in the 20's. Muhammad Ali was at one point the most famous person in the world. Now most people don't know Al Jolson and Muhammad Ali will fade from most people's memories after he's gone. John Kennedy is an interesting example because he's widely mythologized today but in reality he was no George Washington, no Ghandi or even Martin Luther King Jr. who was his contemporary. Kennedy is remembered mostly for being young and handsome and people then wrap whatever else they want around that. He's the political James Dean.

ALR: Can you explain that a little more.

JC: Sure Chris. Kennedy will always be historically famous because he was a president and he was assassinated. James Garfield was young, handsome and an American President who was assassinated just like Kennedy but nobody remembers Garfield the way they remember Kennedy. And it is not just because Kennedy is still fresh in the memory or because Kennedy had the advantage of TV and advanced photography. Kennedy will be remembered fondly because people can assign their beliefs to him. For instance many people remember Kennedy as a civil rights crusader but the truth is that he was afraid to push the envelope out of fear of alienating his Southern base. It was Lyndon Johnson who passed the Civil Rights Act but most people think it was Kennedy. Vietnam became a huge military struggle under Kennedy but most Kennedy apologists believe that if Kennedy had a full second term that he would have gotten us out of Vietnam when there really is no basis in fact for those beliefs. Probably the biggest myth about Kennedy deals with the Cuban Missile Crisis and Kennedy staring down the Soviets. The truth is Kennedy caved to the Soviets and agreed never to do anything about Cuba militarily which was a huge victory for the USSR yet a book and a couple of movies have been put out showing Kennedy to be the hero. To be a true mythic hero - the truth must underpin the actions. With Kennedy that just isn't there.

ALR: Why is the common perception often so wrong when the truth is available to see?

JC: I am reminded of the great line from the movie The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, "When the legend becomes fact, print the legend." The director of the movie is telling us the truth and in essence telling us not to trust the printed word. This in a way brings us full circle back to Edshu. People in the press print their version of the truth based upon whether they are seeing a red hat or a blue hat. There is some truth in what they print but for the truth you must seek out the man who is walking towards Edshu who can see that his hat is both red and blue. Unfortunately that person often is shouted down by the red-hatters on the right side of the aisle and the blue-hatters on the left side. That's why even with all the great technology of today we still get so much legend and so little fact.

ALR: I really like the idea of a trickster god messing with US politics.

JC: How else can you explain Nancy Pelosi and Trent Lott if not by the hand of some god with a sense of humor?

ALR: Thank you so much for your time.

JC: My pleasure entirely.
MLB Manager of the Year Awards

Today the MLB Manager of the Year awards will be announced and I really don't care.

Of all the post-season awards Manager of the Year is the one which I really don't care about. It's not just baseball - its all the manager and coach of the year awards in general. The award is usually useless. Consider that Red Auerbach was perhaps the greatest coach of all-time and he won Coach of the Year only once. Consider that two years ago in baseball Buck Showalter and Jack McKeon won the award and since that time they have both been asked to take their acts elsewhere. If nothing else convinces you that the Manager of the Year award is meaningless - just remember that Dusty Baker has one of these awards in his trophy case.

Having said that - I think that Joe Torre and Joe Girardi take home the hardware today (the late season Tigers slide probably cost Jim Leland the trophy).

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Big East Football

Rutgers is still undefeated but I don't expect them to stay that way. This week they play Cincinnati on the road and this could be a trap game since Cincinnati is better than many realize. If Rutgers gets past Cincinnati - then they still have to get past West Virginia who I see as still the best team in the Big East.

Even though Big East teams are ranked 7th, 8th and 12th in the USA Today rankings - many people still don't respect Big East football. Personally, I do respect these programs very much but I do admit to being curious how these three teams (West Virginia, Rutgers and Louisville) will do in the bowl games. If they go 3-0 or even 2-1 - look for the respect to be there in the polls next year.

In fact - if West Virginia wins out and wins their bowl game - look for the Mountaineers to be the pre-season #1 in the country.
ROY Awards

The results are in and the 2006 MLB Rookies of the Year are Hanley Ramirez of the Marlins and Justin Verlander of the Tigers.

In case you missed it - here are two very good looks at the AL race.

The first is a roundtable of writers from the cities of the top candidates and all of them correctly picked Velander as the winner.

The second is a look at the how the case for Jon Papelbon went from slam dunk to DL. Papelbon foresaw the results in the AL:
“I think Verlander’s got it,” Papelbon said prior to the Red Sox season finale Oct. 1. “If Verlander doesn’t win it, then I’d be very, very surprised. He’s [been a] great pitcher this year for the Detroit Tigers and I think me getting hurt is really going to affect those voting.”

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Heh Heh

Funny Internet photos. This one was my favorite.

Rumsfeld Still on My Mind

A discussion I had with a Lieutenant-Colonel in the Air Force Reserve last week and a column today from Mark Steyn has prompted this post.

My friend, the Lt. Col, said that he thinks Rumsfeld was 3 for 4 and he gives him much credit even though he was not very fond of Rumsfeld the person. He said that Rumsfeld was very successful in helping transform the military into a more sleeker, faster fighting force than it was before he took the helm. He also credits him with a brilliant invasion plan in both Afghanistan and Iraq. The one miss for Rumsfeld, according to my friend, was the occupation of Iraq.

I've seen enough "experts" echo these sentiments to believe they are correct. That brings us to this morning's column by Mark Steyn and this paragraph in particular:
For the rest of the world, the Iraq war isn't about Iraq; it's about America, and American will. I'm told that deep in the bowels of the Pentagon there are strategists wargaming for the big showdown with China circa 2030/2040. Well, it's steady work, I guess. But, as things stand, by the time China's powerful enough to challenge the United States it won't need to. Meanwhile, the guys who are challenging us right now -- in Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, North Korea and elsewhere -- are regarded by the American electorate like a reality show we're bored with. Sorry, we don't want to stick around to see if we win; we'd rather vote ourselves off the island.
Emphasis added.

One of the things that helped bring Rumsfeld down was on the record and off the record grousing from certain Generals. It seems to me that much of that grousing was the result of Rumsfeld transforming the miltary to handle quick response wars against smaller foes versus the planning of a huge war with China.

What I don't get is that under Clinton sensitive missile technology was sold to the Chinese (who the Generals supposedly viewed as the biggest military threat) and military spending and prestige were at ebb tide. The Generals' actions which helped the Democrats win the election and helped hasten Rumsfeld's exit seem to clearly fit the maxim of cutting off your nose to spite your face. Do the Generals think that things would be better for them if Rumsfeld was out of the picture but the Democrats were in power? Most of the Generals complained that their branch of the service did not have enough troops in Iraq. Do they think the Democrats are going to authorize more troops or less?

If I had to grade these Generals on tactics and strategy - I would have to give them F's.
Rookie of the Year Awards

The Rookie of the Year Awards will be announced tomorrow so today I thought I'd post my final rankings.

National League Rookie of the Year

1. (tie) Dan Uggla Marlins (tie) Hanley Ramirez Marlins
3. Ryan Zimmerman Nationals
4. Josh Barfield Padres
5. (tie) Josh Johnson Marlins (tie) Takashi Saito Dodgers (tie) Prince Fielder Brewers

Now I think Uggla and Ramirez probably deserve the award just slightly more than Ryan Zimmerman of the Nationals but I think Zimmerman will end up winning the award because so many candidates from the Marlins will split votes. I also think that the race is so close that an argument for the top 3 in any order could be made.

American League Rookie of the Year

1. Jonathan Papelbon Red Sox
2. Justin Verlander Tigers
3. Kenji Johjima Mariners
4. Francisco Liriano Twins
5. (tie) Jared Weaver Angels (tie) Nick Markakis Orioles (tie) Melky Cabrera Yankees

Even though Papelbon missed basically the last month of the season - his 35 saves (8th in the AL) and his 0.92 ERA (best by far among AL relievers) still hold up to give him the award. I know Verlander supporters will argue and their argument will have merit but Verlander just falls short plus was Verlander any more valuable to his team than Liriano to the Twins? (Liriano actually had more Win Shares if you like that stat and Papelbon had more win shares than both of them.)

Probably the person who has the best case to make for ROY is Kenji Johjima who led AL rookies in HR and RBI while playing perhaps the toughest position for a rookie - catcher. Johjima has three things going against him though - 1. he's from Japan and many people don't view players from Japan as true rookies; 2. he plays for Seattle - a team which doesn't get much media exposure and was basically out of the race since opening day and 3. Papelbon made such a big impact early that other rookie stories didn't get the play they might have in other years.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Baseball Free Agents – Catchers

What a thin market it is at catcher this off-season. There are only four players I would categorize as possible starters and none of them are threats to make the all-star team. I’ve broken down the free agents into “Starters”, “Back-ups” and “Washed-ups”.

The teams I expect to be most active in the market for catchers are Toronto, the Royals, Colorado, and maybe the Phillies (Piazza?).


Mike Lieberthal (Phillies) – he’s every Red Sox fans worst nightmare for what could happen to Jason Varitek. Lieberthal signed a big contract and seemingly overnight he became more fragile with much less power. Over the course of his career Lieberthal has made over $52 million – couple that with the fact that he just got married – and you have to wonder if Mike will just call it a career. If not – some team will sign him to try and be their starting catcher.

Bengie Molina (Toronto) – the Blue Jays have both Molina and Gregg Zaun as free agents this winter (Molina is a free agent because the Blue Jays declined his option). That leaves Jason Phillips as the starter on the depth chart. Look for Zaun to be re-signed because he’s less expensive and doesn’t run like his feet are stuck in cement.

Mike Piazza (Padres) - I list him as a potential starter but at this stage I think he’s probably better suited to 1st or DH with just an occasional game behind the plate.

Gregg Zaun (Toronto) – most likely will be re-signed by the Blue Jays. My guess is 3-years at $2.5 million per year. Zaun may decide to test the waters though because there are so few quality catchers available this winter. The Royals are rumored to be the most interested in Zaun (besides the Jays that is)


Rod Barajas (Texas) – should find a job because he has some pop in his bat (21 HR in 2005). He could be a “starter” in a split time situation. The Rockies have expressed an interest in Barajas.

Gary Bennett (Cardinals) – a guy who is 34-years old with a career high of 4 HR. Easily could be a back-up or be washed-up next year.

Henry Blanco (Cubs) – 35-years old but probably will be back with the Cubs next season.

Robery Fick (Nationals) – he’ll find a job.

Todd Greene (Giants) – I have no reason to like and root for Todd Greene but I do.

Doug Mirabelli (Boston) – he’s been Tim Wakefield’s personal caddy for a long time (except for part of last season) but I think Theo Epstein wants to upgrade this off-season. Mirabelli will catch on (no pun intended) with some team.

Todd Pratt (Braves) – Brian McCann looks like a stud but he’s young and could use a veteran like Pratt around for guidance. If Pratt is not re-signed then Todd Greene would be a nice match. The Braves has shown no reluctance in going with younger players so maybe they go with Bryan Pena as the back-up (to give him some big league seasoning). Also keep in mind that the Braves also have highly touted Jarrod Saltalamacchia in their system – so another season of Pratt with Pena and Saltalamacchia in the minors may give them more flexibility.

Washed-ups (AKA There’s always the possibility of a minor league contract)

Sandy Alomar (White Sox) – can you believe he was still playing at age 40? I find it hard to believe that he’d be a big contributor for any team and doubt he’ll be gainfully employed in 2007 as a catcher.

Paul Bako (Royals) – another guy who is 34-years old and his career high is 4 HR. Last season he hit .209 in 56 games. Even the Royals should be able to do better than Paul Bako.

Mike DiFelice (Mets) – 48 MLB games in the last 3-years. Yup – time for the dog track there Mike.

Einar Diaz (Dodgers) – Yet another 34-year old back-up catcher with a career high of 4 HR.

Chris Widger (Baltimore) – He wants to come back for one more year to get his pension (10-years) but you have to have something to offer to get a spot on the 25-man roster and unfortunately for Widger – the tank is empty.

Some wildcards to consider:

These players are arbitration eligible – David Ross (Reds), Johnny Estrada (Arizona), Yorvit Torrealba (Rockies), Miguel Olivo (Marlins), Toby Hall (Dodgers), Ramon Castro (Mets), Humberto Cota (Pirates), Josh Bard (Padres), Joe Mauer (Twins), Adam Melhuse (A’s), Josh Paul (Devil Rays) and Jason Phillips (Toronto).

Most are no-brainers for arbitration but you never know.

Also keep an eye on the Angels where prospect Jeff Mathis may make Jose Molina expendable. Mike Napoli could split the time with Mathis at the big league level with the manager going with the hot bat.
The Eleventh Hour of the Eleventh Day of the Eleventh Month

In 1918 at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month the most bloody war in the history of mankind came to an end. The "official" paperwork would later be signed a few months later at Versailles but this "armistice" on November 11th is widely regarded as the end of the war.

Twenty years later Congress made Armistice Day an official national holiday. By 1954 the holiday's name was changed to Veteran's Day because the promise that World War I would be the "war to end all wars" proved to be false.

It should be noted that the armistice signed this day 88-years ago was signed in a railroad carriage at Compiagne, France. This place was chosen because it was where the Germans had previously dictated surrender terms to France to end the Franco-Prussian War in 1871. Many people fail to remember how that earlier war in 1871 sparked the war in 1914.

The onerous terms placed on Germany in the Treaty of Versailles are credited with helping the rise of the Nazi Party in Germany and with putting in motion the events that led to World War II. And the roots of the Korean War and the Vietnam War can be traced to the end of World War II.

It should further be noted that much of underlying structure and strife in the Middle East can be traced back to the end of World War I as most of the modern boundaries of the Middle East emerged from the end of the war including the boundaries of modern Iraq.

In many ways we are still feeling the ripples from the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918. Too bad too few remember.
Heh Heh

These two old ladies, Myrtle and Mildred, are at the beach, when Myrtle notices that Mildred's pack of cigarettes have a condom stretched over it.

"Why on earth did you do that, Mildred?"

"It's the best way I've ever found to keep the sand out of my cigarettes while at the beach!"

So the next day, Myrtle goes to the drug store, and tells the pharmacist that she'd like a pack of condoms. The pharmacist is surprised, and says, "Well, Ok, but they come in different styles and sizes. Do you know what you what?"

Myrtle responds, "I really don't care as long as they work on a pack of Camels."

Friday, November 10, 2006

Gary Sheffield Traded to Detroit Tigers

Sheffield to Detroit for pitching prospects Humberto Sanchez, Kevin Whelan and Anthony Claggett. Detroit then turns around and extends Sheffield's contract for another 2-years so that the 38-year old slugger will only cost them $41 million over the next 3-years.

Tiger fans can take solace in the fact that this mistake isn't as nearly as great as the idea to sign Juan Gonzalez to a 7-year $148 million contract was. Then again - Juan-Gone decided against that contract while Sheffield will be on the books for the next 3-years.
The Segway Golf Cart

I think this is a great idea! I would definitely rent one of these instead of renting a golf cart. All it would take is one person renting the Segway out per day to pay for it too as far as the golf course is concerned. By my math - the second guy to rent per day would be pure profit (assuming a $20 rental and 6 months of golf per year).

I just hope that the guy golfing in the picture is right handed (for the sake of the second guy).
Happy 231th Marines

Today is the 231th birthday for the United States Marine Corps.

In honor of the great contribution the Marines have made to this country - please spend some time today reading about Marine heros who have won the Congressional Medal of Honor (our nation's highest award).

Also in honor of the Marines - here's my favorite Ronald Reagan quote:
Some people live their entire lifetime and wonder if they ever made a difference to the world. Marines don't have that problem. -- January 1995
Rumsfeld Poetry

I had posted this information before but given the circumstances - I thought I'd mention it again. Rumsfeld's words presented as poetry.

This was my favorite:
The Unknown

As we know,
There are known knowns.
There are things we know we know.
We also know
There are known unknowns.
That is to say
We know there are some things
We do not know.
But there are also unknown unknowns,
The ones we don't know
We don't know.

Department of Defense news briefing
Feb. 12, 2002

It has also been set to music. (You really have to listen to this!)

You can buy a CD of his words to music at the above link.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

JD Drew Files for Free Agency

Can you imagine passing up a guaranteed $33 million over 3-years? Neither can I but that's exactly what JD Drew just did:
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder J.D. Drew opted out of the final three years of his contract Thursday, making him eligible to become a free agent.

"He led the club in RBIs. You just don't snap your fingers and find another player like that," Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said on a conference call. "He wants out, he can have out. He's moving on, we're moving on. We'll find players who like playing here. If he doesn't want to be here, he has the right to leave, and he's exercising that right."
Maybe JD thinks he can hook up with his brother Steven in Arizona because the Diamondbacks now have Shawn Green's and Luis Gonzalez' contracts off the books.

With the loss of Drew - that means that the Dodgers will probably lose both their top two RBI and HR men to free agency (Drew 20 HR and 100 RBI and Nomar Garciaparra 20 HR and 93 RBI). That's a lot of offense for any team to lose (about 25% of the total HR and RBI) and I have to wonder if Nomar's agent got a call from Ned Colletti right after the Drew announcement.
The Rumsfeld Interview

A Large Regular was lucky enough to score a few candid moments of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's time yesterday after the historic announcement of his resignation was made.

ALR: Mr. Secretary - thank you so much for taking this time on what I'm sure is a difficult day. Can I ask if you are perhaps feeling a little bitter at the President right now?

Rummy: I always have time for my friends Chris. As far as feeling bitter towards the President - goodness no. I serve at the pleasure of the President and have offered my resignation a number of times. If truth be told - I'm a little bit in awe. I mean I don't think I've seen such a fine piece of political Jujitsu in my whole time in public service.

ALR: Political Jujitsu? I'm sorry Mr. Secretary but I don't follow you.

Rummy: Nobody saw this move coming yesterday. Nobody was prepared. It was a brilliant shifting of weight. Yesterday was supposed to be the Democrats big day. They were all going to wear new suits and dresses and give speeches congratulating themselves and talking about how they were going to fix the country. Instead all the news programs spent that time speaking about my resignation and today all the print media will be talking about me and my successor. The Democrats can't even complain because they have been practically begging for my resignation. By the time this dies down - nobody will want to look at their new suits or pretty dresses and they sure won't want to hear their flowery speeches because the time would have been well past that. The bonus is that the Main Stream Media doesn't even see how they were used. Brilliant move by the President.

ALR: But Mr. Secretary are you saying your tenure as Secretary of Defense was ended simply to control news cycles?

Rummy: Goodness no. When all is said and done I will be the longest serving Secretary of Defense in history. All Secretaries of Defense step down. This just happened to be the right time for me and if the President was able to time the announcement to take the wind out the sails of some blowhards well then that's just gravy. The important thing to me is that our brave men and women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan are honored and protected and I think this resignation helps with those ends.

ALR: Again Mr. Secretary I apologize but I don't follow your reasoning.

Rummy: Well Chris you understand the process involved here correct? It will be a few months before Bob Gates even gets his confirmation hearing. The administration will be able to use the confirmation hearings and my farewell tour to reinforce the case of what we are doing in Iraq and Afghanistan.

ALR: Mr. Secretary can you elaborate on that a little more?

Rummy: Sure Chris. You see between now and the confirmation hearings I will be going back to Iraq on several occasions. The media normally just covers bad news from Iraq but this time they will have no choice. They will have to get soldiers reaction to my resignation and how they feel about their mission in Iraq. A great percentage of the soldiers really believe in their mission and the American people will see that. Oh and the confirmation hearings are a trap for the Democrats. You'd think they would have learned from the Justice Roberts hearings but I guess not.

ALR: Can you share with us what you foresee happening at the confirmation hearings?

Rummy: Oh its going to be great theater. The back seat drivers will finally have to go on record for what they think is the best course instead of always complaining that we just missed a turn.

ALR: It sounds like you are actually looking forward to the hearings?

Rummy: Yes. Very much so. You see most of the complaining from the Democrats has fallen into two camps. Either they think that I haven't listened to my generals and that hundreds of thousands of more troops are needed or they advocate a running away from Iraq except they keep calling that strategy "redeployment". The hearings will put those people on the spot to explain exactly where they stand. Do they want to cut and run or do they plan to budget for hundreds of thousands of new troops? Can you picture Ted Kennedy stuttering his way out of that?

ALR: I think I'm starting to get it. The hearings are normally about a candidate's qualifications but nobody will be checking Bob Gates resume. Instead they will be pumping him for what he thinks about you and the job you have done in Iraq.

Rummy: Exactly. You know the President wasn't going to select a successor who was either going to cut and run or add hundreds of thousands of new troops but by the Senator's questions we get to see where they stand. When it comes time to vote on Bob Gates by that time his confirmation will be a referendum on the war. A vote for Bob Gates will be a vote for staying the course. A vote against Bob Gates could be spun as a vote that keeps me in office longer and to many on the left I'm the ultimate bogeyman. Its a lose-lose for any Democratic Senator who plans to run in 2008. And the funny thing is as the hearings are going on just remember that the Democrats practically begged for this to happen.

ALR: Thank you so much Mr. Secretary for explaining the situation. And I hope you enjoy your retirement you have certainly earned it.

Rummy: Oh Chris my retirement is still a long way off. By the way - do you think people will realize this was satire?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Padres Trade Josh Barfield
The Tribe acquired 23-year-old second baseman Josh Barfield from the Padres on Wednesday in exchange for infielder Kevin Kouzmanoff and reliever Andrew Brown.

Barfield, a legitimate Rookie of the Year candidate in the National League this season, gives the Indians some much-needed speed and fills the gap at a position that lacked an everyday presence since the July 30 trade of Ronnie Belliard to the Cardinals.
Wow - I'm shocked by this trade. The Padres let fan favorite Mark Loretta go because of Josh Barfield. Maybe Loretta is back in the plans for the Padres? Marcus Giles could be another possibility to reunite with his brother Brian (its 50/50 I think for Atlanta to bring Marcus back). Maybe Japanese star Akinori Iwamura is another option at 2nd for the Padres? Kevin Kouzmanoff fills a big a need for the Padres at 3rd as Barfield does for the Indians at 2nd.

It should also be noted that the Padres just cut ties to Dave Roberts because they want a middle of the line-up bat. Could Brown and a mid-level prospect be used to trade for Gary Sheffield or another big bat?

From the Indians perspective - great move They just filled the need at 2nd without taking a gamble on Akinori Iwamura. They also have Andy Marte at 3rd - so Kevin Kouzmanoff (also a 3rd baseman) was expendable.

Andrew Brown is out of options so he has to stick with the Padres' big club or pass through waivers.
Great Cartoon

Sorry if this is old to any of you but I just loved this cartoon.

From the brilliant minds of Cox & Forcum
Baseball Free Agents – Third Base

Eleven free agents – eleven comments and observations. (Last year's team in parentheses.)

Aaron Boone (Indians) 33-years old – just 7 HR in 354 AB last season. Not much power anymore from a player expected to provide power. I don’t expect Boone to garner much interest this off-season.

Aramis Ramirez
(Cubs) – just 28 and coming off a season in which he hit 38 HR (his 3rd straight 30-HR season). Ramirez will probably get one of the biggest contracts this off-season and my guess is that it will be from the Cubs.

Rich Aurilia (Reds) – hit .300 with 23 HR last season. At 35-years old he’ll be a risk. He had a $2 million option so obviously he thinks that someone will pay him north of that. Rumor has it that the Giants are interested in bringing back Aurilia who started out with the Giants in 1995. Of course chances are just as great that he comes back to Cincinnati when all is said and done.

Wes Helms
(Marlins) – 30-years old and pegged as a back-up. Can play 3rd or 1st – so look for someone to pick him up as a cheap insurance policy or for a small market team to take a flier on him as a starter.

Aubrey Huff
(Houston) – played his entire career with Tampa Bay before being traded to the Astros mid-season. He’s listed as either a 3rd baseman or an outfielder but he’s really a DH. Huff’s HR and RBI’s have decreased each of the last 4-years yet some GM will make the mistake of giving him a multi-year contract. Huff is my early leading candidate to be the biggest bust player with an albatross contract.

David Bell (Brewers) – 34-years old and only 10-HR in 504 AB. Wes Helms had 10 HR in half the at-bats and Helms will be lucky to get a back-up job. If you pick David Bell as the answer to your 3rd base problem – then it’s time for you to take a remedial course on being a General Manager.

Jeff Cirillo
(Brewers) – Jeff Cirillo is Spanish for “the cattle are dying.”

Joe Randa (Pirates) – he filed for free agency but as he said, “that was just paperwork.” Randa plans to retire and enjoy what remains of the almost $23 million he earned over the course of his career. What a country!

Scott Spiezio (Cardinals) – released by Seattle in 2005 and a World Series hero for St. Louis in 2006. Now a free agent. Will anyone take a flier on Spiezio? My guess is that he stays put with the Cardinals as insurance for the oft-injured Scott Rolen.

Geoff Blum
(Padres) – at games Geoff thinks people are shouting “You’re a Blum” but he can’t explain the booing. Don Padro – tell Mr. Blum what lovely parting gifts we have for him.

Pedro Feliz (Giants) – the Giants last year paid Pedro Feliz $4 million to hit 22 HR when they could have paid Rich Aurila less for the same results. Don’t look for the Giants to make that same mistake twice.
Midterm Elections - Part II

I just wanted to note that one thing I am rooting for is for the senate to wind up in a true 50 / 50 split. I say "true split" because there doesn't seem to be any Jeffords or Chafees this time around. A 50 / 50 split means that Dick Cheney may get to cast the deciding vote in the Senate on matters split along party lines. I think that will make great theater.

No matter what happens - look for Cheney to play an even greater role in the final two years of the Bush administration which means an even greater portrayal of "Evil" Dick Cheney on the Daily Show and the late night talk shows. Keep in mind that Cheney is only 65 years old (which makes him just 3 years older than Rudy Giuliani and 5 years younger than John McCain). Cheney has consistently said he has no interest in running another campaign but things sometimes change.

Cheney '08 would be the equivalent of the anti-Christ to the Kos-crowd and just for that reaction I hope he runs.
Midterm Elections

I'll be honest and say that I'm glad the midterm elections are finally over. I do like to talk about political matters here but honestly I can't see how anyone got too worked up over this election cycle.

I'm a firm believer in "vote for the person - not the party." If the Republicans complain about losing the House and possibly losing the Senate - the answer is easy - next time run better candidates.

There just didn't seem to be any candidates on either side to be passionate about this time around. Maybe Lynn Swann, maybe Michael Steele or maybe Rick Santorum (for the true Republican believers) could float your boat but for me only Swann and Steele held any appeal and that was more curiosity than anything.

Locally, there were 13 offices on my ballot and I left 7 of them blank because the choice was a Democrat running unopposed and I felt the person running didn't earn my vote. I did vote for Joe Early Jr. for District Attorney because he's a friend and will do a great job and I did vote for Tim Murray. Let me make that clear. I did not vote for Deval Patrick - I voted for Tim Murray. Patrick could turn out to be the devil for all I care (and my spellcheck does want to replace the word "Deval" with the word "devil") - I just needed a clear conscience so that the next time I see Tim I can honestly say that I voted for him (as I have for every election he's been on the ballot).

One final note - when it came to US Senate from Massachusetts - I wrote in Mitt Romney to fufill a promise I made to a friend who was accidently disenfranchised in Utah.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Lonnie Smith Planned to Kill John Schuerholz

This is not a joke. He really planned to kill him:
The good memories come with mementos and posters and championship rings, most of them tucked into boxes in Smith’s basement. The bad memories, such as the stigma of addiction, stay with him. He carries the most visible reminder on his right hand, where a deep scar near his thumb reminds him that he had both a gun and a plan to kill John Schuerholz, the general manager Smith blamed for sabotaging his career while he played for the Kansas City Royals.

Smith blamed Schuerholz, now the Braves general manager, for blackballing him among other major league teams’ officials. Smith says Schuerholz never believed he had given up drugs in 1983, when he spent 30 days in a rehab clinic, and told other general managers Smith was a troublemaker with a dangerous history. Smith, who left Kansas City on bad terms after the ’87 season, spent much of the next year begging teams to give him a chance. When it did not happen, Smith bought a dime bag of marijuana and decided Schuerholz’s crime was a capital offense.
Are we supposed to feel sorry for Lonnie Smith after reading that? Happy for him? I came away thinking that Smith was a thug who blamed Schuerholz because he wasn't man enough to blame himself for his own actions. Nobody in baseball will give Smith a job after reading that. Imagine if he gets a job as an instructor but then doesn't get a promotion to coach? The guy who passed him over may get killed for the "insult" to Smith.