Friday, August 21, 2009

Bud Selig Shenanigans

The deadline to sign a MLB team's draft picks came and went a week ago Monday, so let's see what we've learned from the debacle, er, draft.

1. Recommended slot means JACK

Teams do not care about a recommended slot price. The slot price was engineered to give teams an idea as to what the appropriate price should be for a player - but that doesn't matter in negotiations since that a non-mandatory price is not leverage against agents. A stern lecture from Bud Selig as the penalty for going over slot to a team's general manager is hardly cause for concern when trying to sign its 1st round draft pick to a six-year deal. I'm sure Billy Beane put the phone down and let Selig jaw on for a few minutes when he doled out the highest 4th round money ever to C Max Stassi (to prevent Stassi from going to UCLA). If you want teams to follow a slot price, do what they do in the NBA: MAKE IT MANDATORY. This leads me to the next point that:

2. Draft spot means ZILCH

Players slide down the draft board based on a number of reasons: agent, likelihood of entering college, makeup, etc. But without a mandatory slot, some players (like Shelby Miller in 09) will still receive vastly more money than their neighbors due to where they would have been drafted if not for their choice in agent.

Other recent issues with MLB:

3. A 5-game suspension is NOT the same for hitters and pitchers

Kevin Youkilis and Rick Porcello were recently each suspended for 5 games for their roles in a minor bench-clearing fracas. Youk thought Porcello threw at him intentionally and so he charged the pitcher only to be body-slammed to the Earth by the 20 year old (even more bizarre since Youk had a better center of gravity and weighs a good twenty pounds more, though most of that could be in the birdhouse of a chin-beard. I digress.).

Each player was suspended for 5 games but since Porcello is a pitcher and usually pitches every 5 games, the the Tigers were able to sub in another pitcher for Rick and let him go with an extra day of rest on his next turn. The Red Sox, however, were without Youkie's services for almost a week. The way that hitters and pitchers are suspended is never equal and there needs to be a change made in the next CBA. Below is my idea for an amendment:

A. Assume every hitter will play 162 games and each pitcher will make 32 starts. Make the suspensions based on the percentage of games/starts that will be missed by each player instead of just the sheer number. So in the case above, if Youk is going to be suspended for 5 games (3% of his games), MLB needs to ensure that Porcello is suspended for the same amount of starts (= 1 start).

B. It is easy to make sure that a hitter misses the appropriate time; he simply won't play. Pitchers are a little trickier since the rotation can be manipulated in such a way that enables a suspended player to not miss a start, thereby not hurting his team. There needs to be a way to ensure that a pitcher actually misses time from the team otherwise the suspension is essentially moot from the team's standpoint. But by suspending both yet leaving them on the active roster, a team leaves an open spot on the active roster. This is why I suggest placing suspended players (both hitters and pitchers) on a Suspended List that acts as a Disabled List in that the team can call up a player to fill the open spot on the roster left by the suspended player. If a pitcher is suspended for 1 start, he must remain on the SL until three (or four, depending on if the team requires a fifth starter at that point in the season) of his rotation mates have pitched in front of him.

So for example if Porcello is suspended for one start, and he just pitched on Aug. 25, he would be suspended for Aug 26, 27, 28, 29, miss his start on the 30th and not be eligible to pitch again until Sept 4th. The Tigers would place him on the SL so they could replace his open spot on the roster and then they could activate him on Sept 4th and remove his replacement from the roster.

C. Time on the suspension list for hitters will amount to a loss of a paycheck for time spent on the list, but not so for the pitchers. If a hitter is suspended for 5 games, he will spend 5 games on the SL and forfeit his paycheck for 5 games. If a pitcher is suspended for the pitcher equivalent of 5 games (i.e. 1 start), he will forfeit one start check but be required to spend the appropriate time on the SL.

This is just one creative way of fixing the problems associated with suspending players. Would love to hear questions/comments from others.

Bill Maher

"Hi, I'm Bill. I'm a birth survivor."

Conservative Hypocrisy

Sarah Palin:

Grandmother at 44
In the middle of separating from her husband
Daughter, Bristol, has a child out of wedlock
Rumored to have pressured Levi Johnston into proposing to her daughter Bristol
Levi-Bristol currently single parents
Doesn't read newsworthy magazines
Thinks we are giving $2B to a Brazilian oil company just because
Believes Obama has "death panels" to single out the weak - like the Nazis!

Rick Pitino:

Devout Catholic
Written four books on family and faith
Has a chaplain on the bench during every home game
Bangs random women on his restaurant floor after hours

Ted Haggard:

Too easy, but let's just say that getting caught smoking meth with homosexual prostitutes was not the 11th Commandment

Conservatives love to preach about their family values and working class work ethic, but let's be real here: they're just people like everyone else and they have their own share of problems. It's just too much fun to point out their faults when they come to light because of the ironic nature of their viewpoints.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A Tale of Two Felons

Upon entering a swanky Upper West Side Latin Club, Plaxico Burress reaches to tuck his unregistered handgun further into his pants and ends up inadvertantly shooting himself in the leg, ala Cheddar Bob. His teammate and close friend, Antonio Pierce, rushes him to the hospital and provides them with a fake name for his Super-Bowl-winning-touchdown-grabbing friend who wants to remain anonymous due to the aforementioned status of his chosen weaponry.

Driving down a busy Miami thoroughfare early one Saturday morning in March, a drunk and high Donte Stallworth struck and killed a pedestrian jay-walking trying to catch the 7am bus to go to his construction job. According to witnesses, Burress flashed his high beams at the man to tell him that the train was coming through, but recklessly swerved around a car in front of him to beat the approaching red light (ran it) and then plowed his Bentley into a man's soon-to-be-twisted-mangle of body.

For the last year, NYC Mayor Bloomberg has been running for re-election as mayor. He called for the DA to throw the book at Plaxi and make an example out of him. While the prison's in NY are already overfilled with violent offenders, Bloomberg wanted to send a message to people that guns are simply not allowed in the city's five boroughs without proper licensing and training. Today Plaxi plead guilty to attempted criminal possession of a weapon and was sentenced to two years in prison. He was facing a minimum of three and one half years in prison.

In June of this year, Stallworth plead guilty to his crime of DUI manslaughter and was facing fifteen years in prison. He received thirty days and was even released two days early for good behavior. He did reach a settlement with the family of the departed, rumored to be north of $10 million.

The idea that the justice system should be used to exemplify offenders only works if that system is ubiquitous across the country at all levels. With the killing of Nick Adenhart and his friends just a few weeks after Stallworth's accident, one would think that a judge or county attorney would want to make an example out of Stallworth since one of his fellow pro athletes was involved on the other side of one of the downsides to DUI. But you know what, that of course makes ZERO sense. They are not even remotely connected as individuals or circumstances. That is the exact same thing that we have with Stallworth and Burress - yes, of course, Stallworth should have been sentenced to longer in prison but it is not fair to either men to compare their two distinctly different situations. Unfortunately, our justice system is not set up to award the appropriate amount of punishments across the board. Some wealthy baby boomers in the Midwest have been sentenced to longer in prison for funding marijuana grow-houses than some murderers have.

Now, is this "fair?"

The question of fairness should not be answered with strictly the level of punishment. I agree with Bloomberg for sentencing Burress to two years in prison - not to make an example out of him for carrying an unregistered handgun, but for being so irresponsible and careless with his weapon that he shot himself with it. This behavior leads me (and apparently Bloomberg) to believe that someone who does not have any respect for a dangerous weapon can be himself a danger to society and he deserves to be sent away from it.

The Stallworth case is more complex because while he was acting recklessly by drinking and smoking before getting into his car and by swerving around a car in front of him to beat a red light, his actions were more of a direct cause of his immaturity level. Burress thought he was being responsible by carrying a gun even though he obviously had no idea how to use it. He was a danger to anyone around him at all times. Stallworth made a very poor decision that night to drink and drive, but he was not entirely at fault either. Unfortunately, the person he hit was running in front of traffic and could have been hit by any number of motorists if they tried to beat the red light. This explains why his extraneous punishments (the enormous settlement money, two years of house arrest, eight years probation, 1000 hours of community service) were handed down on top of the seemingly light prison sentence. Perhaps Stallworth should have been sentenced to up to a year in jail, but I do not believe that he is as dangerous as Burress and so I support Burress going to prison for longer.

Why Americans Will Never Like Soccer

America is full of all of the "-est"'s in the world. Any superlative that exists describes anybody who lives in the US: fastest, fattest, best, ugliest, prettiest, hottest, strongest, richest, poorest, brightest, costliest, coolest, sexiest, blackest, whitest, gayest, biggest. Our smallest fast food soft-drink cups are larger than any serving size in Europe and Australia. We are consistently named the fattest country in the world. Our professional athletes are among the highest paid in the world. Other countries watch our Presidential elections but not conversely so. We are a nation of extremes and as such we have been conditioned to receiving the most stimulation available. Our sports bars consist of 30 42" plasma TV screens decorating every corner of the ceiling, all showing different sports games. In any weekend in October, one could walk into any random sports bar in the US and find it showing games from the NFL (or NCAAF), the NHL, the MLB playoffs, men's NCAA basketball, NASCAR and EPL/UEFA games. While we may also have a conservative national policy on drinking age limitations, we also have the most amount of bars of any country in the world and our drinking establishments run the most varied drinking specials of any place I've ever been to.

Therefore, soccer will never become popular in the US (outside of soccer players) because it is a game of finesse where the scoring is about the least pertinent thing about the game. Much of each game is spent strategizing about the other team's position and perceived plans for defense and attack. There is more physical contact than in the NBA but less than in the NHL and NFL. But the scoring is also much lower than any of those sports. That is what is so important to Americans - the immediate gratification is insanely important to American sports fans. This is precisely why the NHL totally revamped its rules: to create a game that attracts a larger (and dumber) audience. Attention to individual movement off the ball is what is required as a football spectator, and due to the size of the field and number of players on it, that attention is generally not given.

Soccer is truly the sport of kings, and until the US can fully grasp its complexity and innovation, the country will always be looked at by the rest of the world as Europe's goofy offspring (HT: RuthlessRanting).

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Bill Maher

"Sarah Palin is a recruiting tool for the liberals like the Iraq War was for Al-Qaeda."

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Day Harry Truman Ruled the World

I can not say that I would like to be the sole reason that over three hundred thousand people died due to one of my actions. The pain and suffering that I would carry the rest of my life would exacerbate any ailment I might ever develop and would surely do me in much earlier than if I had led a more stress-free existence. But there is one thing that I would proudly carry around with me for all of my remaining years: the fact that I ended the last World War.

The Japanese had endured six months of intense fire-bombing at the hands of the Allies. Sixty-seven cities had been targeted and had suffered the wrath of vengeance from the USAF. The war in Europe had ended in May 1945 and the Japanese were given an ultimatum in August: surrender or die. Never ones to feel the mortality of human existence, the Japanese command wrongly chose the latter.

Even after the Hiroshima bombing, Truman left the door open for yet another chance at surrender, announcing: "If they do not now accept our terms, they may expect a rain of ruin from the air the likes of which has never been seen on this earth."

Enough was enough, and the US was going to end this war, a war that they neither started nor were involved in before Pearl Harbor. The world will always remember why you do. not. fuck. with the United States. Harry Truman ended the most devastating loss of human life period in the history of the world. Buy that man a beer.
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