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.

The Curious Case of American Republicans

Today, Obama addressed some recent blogosphere talk that insinuated that he was collecting people's email and IP addresses of his political enemies for a diabolical purpose.

The movement was started by Republican Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) who believes:

"By requesting citizens send 'fishy' emails to the White House, it is inevitable that the names, email, addresses, IP addresses and private speech of U.S. citizens will be reported to the White House," Cornyn wrote in a letter to Obama. "You should not be surprised that these actions taken by your White House staff raise the specter of a data collection program."

Cornyn also voted for extending the Patriot Act and a slew of other free passes given to the Bush admin to monitor our homes, Internet usage and personal lives without a judicial warrant.

So let's get this straight:

Collecting emails: bad.
Collecting personal information (including emails): good.

Just another paradox in the American right-wing philosophy.

Perhaps the real reason Obama wants to know what his citizens are thinking is so that he can learn more about how they are thinking and address those concerns. Wow, what a novel concept. For eight years we had a President who constantly had dubious intentions behind all of his public policies, and now that we've extricated him and his cronies from office, his supporters are accusing his replacement of similar tactics. And Republicans wonder why their party is going down the tubes.

People are afraid of change for no other reason than it is just different than what they've grown accustomed to, even if that change ameliorates their situation. What's worse, is that they refuse to do any homework to fact check what they're being told and just blindly engage in the propagation of the propaganda (see: Sarah Palin). We see this everywhere in this country, from low socioeconomic neighborhoods in the Midwest all the way up to the ranks of their leaders in Congress. Nationally syndicated radio-hosts like Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh love to argue that Obama is this vindictive, evil person who has somehow tricked all of us into putting him in a position of power. That for some reason, comparing Obama's administration to the Third Reich is somehow permissable and should be celebrated. I'm a huge advocate for free speech and I enjoy witty political banter, but most of the drivel out there is spawned by people who bask in the glory of the sound of their own voice. Purely emotion-driven instead of by content and meaning, the talk that Obama is a sinister player in politics is akin to a six year old pushing for his parents to buy him a new pet all summer to replace his old hamster Buddy only to break down in tears when the new guy finally arrives because no one can replace a kid's first pet. If the right-wing wants to put another Republican in the White House, their supporters need to stop portraying themselves as batty crazy loons who can not adopt change in the face of evidence contrary to their positions. I figure at least half of the people in Alabama have the Internet - use it!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Ruthless Animals: The Series

From time to time, I sometimes wonder about which animal I would like to be. Generally this is when I have bills to pay or when I have some other nonsensical adult shit to do. Features of an animal that are attractive to me as a person are generally anthropomorphic because as a human, I want those traits. I don't actually want to be an animal because I have grown accustomed to the conveniences of being a person. Unlike an animal, I'd prefer to not sleep outside all day and have to worry about getting shot by hunters or eaten by my own species. This still does not deter me from desiring certain characteristics of a select choice of animals. Hopefully this series shows you how to select the most appropriate qualities of animal with which to blend with your qualities as a person.

Today, we shall look at the African continent. One may think that with the continent's rich spectrum of predators and area-specific creatures, it would be almost impossible to single out one specific animal that truly captures the essence of a violent continent. You might expect me to target the male Lion or even the African Elephant (a far more diabolical creature than its Asian counterpart). The Lion is an interesting character for He displays much of the sloth and gluttony that I try to infuse into my daily routine. He sleeps all day, has His harem of selected females bring Him food hourly and let Him do what He pleases whenever he finds it appropriate to spend his energy. But there is a point where 20 hours a day EVERY DAY of sleeping and lazying about gets old. Believe me, I have tried. Love thy lazy, but after seeing the same Sportscenter five times in a row, I generally yearn for something a bit more robust. I enjoy doing things to their fullest extent, so I know that if I was a Lion, I would not be able to stop myself from taking full advantage of this lifestyle. It is not part of my personal betterment business to do so now as a human, but I would absolutely make sure it was if I had these qualities as a Lion. Since I already have some of these traits in my repetoire, I do not look up to the Lion like I do one of his neighbors in the savannah.

The bull African Elephant is also a noble species - it takes several lionnesses close to fifteen minutes to take down even a single baby elephant. But bull Elephants have hunters with this shit coming at them and I would prefer not to have to deal with that nonsense. I do not want to be big enough to be a prize on some asshole from Alabama's wall. I am truly looking for the perfect creature, one that is not hunted and is not fucked with on any level but still travels in packs with his buddies. He is still a ruthless creature and very much an under the radar player in this game of survival because he is a more known as being a scavenger but can also hunt and inflict due damage on prey that needs to fill his belly. Cheetah? Too frail. Gorilla? Too busy with family dynamics. Crocodiles? Too territorial.


I want to exhibit as much liveliness as I can that is Hyena-based. I can not say that he always eschews a clandestine approach to life and may just be a little crazy, but so am I. Food is never a problem for this scavenger/hunter hybrid and he has few natural predators (lions do kill hyenas sometimes, but hyenas kill the lionesses so attrition plays). With their bite-pressure being the highest of any mammal on the Planet, they have a ruthlessness that envelopes the entire plain on which they live. There is nothing that a Hyena does not exude that I do not wish for myself.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Dominic Barbara, Attorney at Fraud

I'm sure by now you've all heard about the tragic accident that happened last week outside of NYC. Diane Schuler drank a copious amount of alcohol and packed a couple bowls while driving her children and nieces home from a camping trip, then drove their entire van into oncoming, highway traffic and plowed into an SUV head-on, killing 8 of the 9 passengers in the two vehicles. With no history of alcohol abuse, though her husband did tell investigators that his wife drank socially and occasionally smoked herb, her husband's sleaze-basket lawyer is now trying to cover up the fact that Diane was of any fault, presumably to avoid a vicious lawsuit from the families of the SUV passengers who lost three members that day.

Judging by the ratings of his practice and the subsequent comments left by his former clients, you can already tell that finding logic in his following quotes is going to be like finding a needle in a stack of needles. I've translated his nonsense into a more workable stream of thought, so make sure you continue through after he stops blathering.

Actual quotes:

"Something happened here. Something happened to her brain," Barbara said, adding that his client has not decided whether to have a new autopsy conducted. "It does not give me an answer for the alcohol in her stomach or the marijuana that was there. But this is not a woman who would jeopardize five children."

Barbara said Diane had a 7-week-old painful abscess on the side of her mouth that she refused to see a dentist for; she had gestational diabetes - a condition in which blood sugar tends to be high - during her last pregnancy more than two years ago; and she had a "lump on her leg."

Whoever thought the lawyer of Joey Buttafuoco could be such a cunning linguist?

Interpretation of quotes:

"I am a scumbag. I can not argue logically because I am a lawyer and I will disregard evidence to the contrary of my points because that is what a good lawyer does. I will also attempt to contradict myself without realizing it because I am obviously a moron. This woman was a good wife and she would never put her kids in danger. But let me tell you why she may have put her kids in the danger - she had rotting teeth, ate too many sweets, and had cankles. She also had this mysterious liquid in her stomach and blood called alcohol, and she may have been blazing in the car, but let's forget about that. They may or may not have magically appeared in her system. Do not sue her family because she was a good person. But let's keep dragging this out so I can continue to charge by the hour."

Contact him here:
Dominic Barbara
401 Franklin Ave
Garden City, NY 11530-4839
Phone: (516) 222-2333

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Do not buy American

To buy American products blindly is contributing to the demise of this country. Promoting the use of inferior technology just to boost a middling economy is like going out on a mercy date to improve the quality of life of the girl for that night. If everyone were to start doing that, all of the good-looking girls would flee this country and be snapped up by the Euros, creating a rightfully so image of the US as being an ugly nation. There's no point in paying for a Bunker Hill Community College education if you can afford to go to Harvard. Get the best, be the best, eat the best, own the best, fuck the best, play the best. The whole defining characteristic of this country is that people can do whatever they want with their lives and become as rich as they want. There is no reason to settle for less just because.

Road to Righteousness

Life is defined by how we treat our fellow 'man. Professions and possessions and pontifications are only definers of a superficial aura that exists around ourselves. We are not remembered for owning a Bose sound system or a Louis Vutton handbag or for being a loan shark. When we recall a lost friend or relative, words that describe how that person treated us and others are most usually offered. Therefore, the connections we make with others should be the compass that guides our lives. I have never heard "Gosh, it's so sad that Mark passed away; he had such a nice car."

If for no other reason than to strive for a positive legacy, we should always treat people with respect regardless if they deserve it or not. If a religious or spiritual belief is the backbone of that behavior, by all means continue it. The origin is of the least important significance as has been shown above. But we have this movement in this country called The Religious Right that somehow calls for both "opening the mind" and "damning of non-believers." Their whole central philosophy is rooted living your life for God and believing that Jesus was His Son. Regardless that a believer may spend time in jail for a drug offense and a non-believer may open up an orphanage, the fact that one has "asked Jesus for forgiveness" and attends prayer group in the Pen assures that one is destined for an eternity next to the Big Guy and the other in an inferno.

Of course, heaven and hell may not exist, and so in this life where life assuredly happens, we have reserved a space for these religious fanatics and that is called The South, a place where normal sane intelligent folk dare not enter.

Lost in the Numbers: A glimpse into memory loss

Barely six months have passed since this country passed its leadership from utter incompetence to quite the opposite. Since the US is fairly socially conservative, it is not surprising that a large part of this country is souring on Obama's reign in office. As one can see from this highly non-partisan poll, Obama's approval rating has been declining since March. Queen of the Damned Ann Coulter was recently a guest on the Hannity Show on that fair and balanced network, and she essentially laid waste to Obama's "big government spending." You can read the transcript here:

FNC Propaganda

Here's the issue that the FNC people seem to be ignoring: Obama was not handed a country prospering through a sea of surplus cash. He is not awarding money to struggling auto companies and financial institutions instead of funding our struggling state universities. His behavior is a direct result of the horrific economy he inherited from the Big 'Dub. One can not fault Obama, who has two hands tied behind his back and both legs in a cement bucket, for trying to rescue a country that was on the verge from complete collapse.

Of course there are no recommendations from the dynamic duo as to how Obama could ressurect his dwindling numbers. Coulter & Co. are not political analysts - they are shock jocks only concerned with stirring the pot with their malice and near-sightedness. One would think that in order to properly analyze something, you must have a better alternative in the waiting. It seems as if the only alternative these two would be content with would be for Obama to fall so far out of favor, that the Republican Party can again assume the control of the Executive Office. If that were to happen, it would directly coincide with another drop in our economy due to speculation that our government is weak. The leaders of FNC apparently find it acceptable to legitimize the views of anti-government trainwrecks like Ann Coulter and her cronies even at the expense of their own countrymen. DIE.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Michael Jackson is NOT Bon Jovi

Michael Jackson passed tragically at the tender age of fifty this summer. May he rest in peace. "Rest" being the key word. It is time to let his memory again rest with the rest of him. With the exception of a comeback album with a single headlined with Justin Timberlake, MJ had been long gone from our iPod party playlists. We have not seen this much MJ propaganda since the early 90s when he rocked Dangerous into our mother's CD players on the way to soccer practice. Quite frankly, it needs to stop. There is an air of poseurdome that exists in bars and in private homes wherever MJ's music is being played. I almost feel that a contest is being held in our subconcious minds between our desire for popularity and our strive for reacceptance.

The more we hear his music, the more we can talk about it as if we have actually memories from our childhood of listening to his music. Furthermore, I do not remember hearing any MJ songs in all my visits in the last year to any NYC tavern. Now all of a sudden everyone inside can drunkenly sing along to any random MJ song played at any point of their drunken state. I'm sorry, but Michael Jackson will never be Billy Joel. An icon yes, but a staple to every person's iPod list who was born in the early 1980s? Fuck and no. By contrast, everyone who owns a music player device has downloaded at least "Wanted Dead or Alive."

It's not even the leaches who have attached themselves to this fad - it's everyone across the world who seemingly can't get enough of Michael Jackson's music. I sat next to an overweight hoodrat the other day coming back from Long Beach outside of Queens, and he was sporting a very decorative Michael Jackson RIP 1958-2009 black t-shirt. Now I am not one to judge unless he who will be judged asks for the judgement cometh, but it did appear that this fellow was wearing his recently purchased item to show to the world that he was a fan of Mr. Jackson (who isn't?) and that he should be praised accordingly for wearing a shirt that calls for respect to the artist. Pure ballocks, if you ask me. When was the last time Michael Jackson was on tour and/or left his Holmby Hills compound? He was, for all extensive purposes, gone from the public eye, only set to make his comeback tour this summer presumably to pay off his debt, estimated at $500 million.

So enough already. MJ might as well have been gone from the world the way people treated his music. Nobody has frequently listened to "Bad" since the clock hit 1996. The idea that he should be remembered because he has passed to the tune of constant overplay in every media format imaginable is absolute nonsense. It's just a way for people and establishments to capitalize on the singer's death and promote themselves. Unfortunately for Michael, this is not something new and may have ultimately contributed to his death.

I wish you could take your long-lost friends with you, but rest in peace Michael...
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