Monday, December 29, 2008
So, is Yankee spending once again ruining the competitive balance in baseball? Further analysis is needed.
First, according to River Ave. Blues (and many other sources) the Yankees payroll has not changed dramatically from last year despite signing these three free agents and trading for Nick Swisher. This is because they've shed $59 million in payroll when the contracts of Bobby Abreu, Jason Giambi, Andy Petitte, and Mike Mussina expired. Even with previous commitments, and projected arbitration raises, "the net change in team payroll will be negligible relative to the massive dollar figures connected to those three new contracts."
Second, there is no guarantee that these contracts will result in a World Series for the Bombers, let alone an AL East crown. In fact, Resultsdisorientied calculates that replacing Mussina, Giambi, Pettitte, and Abreu, with Sabathia, Teixeira, Burnett, and Swisher will only net the Yankees 2.1 more wins. Unless the Rays or Red Sox significantly falter, this will not be enough to capture the AL East crown. On top of that, in 2008 the Yankees were outspent per win by only two teams, the Tigers and the Mariners, not exactly good company. The Rays, Twins and Marlins spent the least per win. So, which type of team do you want to be a fan of, ineffective big spenders, or efficient penny pinchers?
Is this the watershed moment that should lead toward a salary cap in major league baseball? Baseball Think Factory reveals some interesting facts that lead me to answer, no. To begin with, while revenues have increased dramatically since 2003, the players' salaries have actually decreased by 11% in that time. Is that difference felt by Joe fan, with lowered ticket prices? No way. (According to Peter Gammons, in Boston, the average price for a family of four to watch the Red Sox from the grandstand and buy concessions was $250!) Also, if MLB were to institute a salary cap similar to the NFL's, it would probably set somewhere around $100 million. Of the thirty teams in Major League Baseball, only 11 had payrolls north of $100 mil. in 2008.
Finally, ironically Yankee spending is actually good for baseball. In 2008, only two teams paid the luxury tax, the Tigers and the Yankees. The Tigers paid $1.3 mil. and the Yanks paid $26.8 mil. Along with the luxury tax, the Yankees paid over $100 million in revenue sharing. On the whole, all thirty baseball teams put over $300 mil. in the revenue sharing pot, to be redistributed to the poorest teams with the Yankees portion comprising about a one-third of this money. Does this discourage Yankee spending? No, although the Steinbrenner boys aren't happy about it. And what became of that $300 mil. Well, how many free agents have we seen the Kansas City Royals, Pittsburgh Pirates, Florida Marlins, Minnesota Twins, or Tampa Bay Rays sign?
Oh yeah, remember Mark Attanasio, owner of the Brewers, who called for a salary cap. His profits totaled $40 million in 2006 and 2007, and those are sure to rise as Milwaukee attendance increased in 2008. But please, hate the Yankees.
Update (01-26-09): " Small-market teams love salary caps. Or rather, they think they do." If a salary cap were imposed in major league baseball, the poorest 13 teams would have to spend an extra $15 mil. Check it out.
Friday, December 26, 2008
An employer that promised, back in the nineteen-fifties, to pay for its employees’ health care when they were retired didn’t set aside the money for that while they were working. It just paid the bills as they came in: money generated by current workers was used to pay for the costs of taking care of past workers. Pensions worked roughly the same way. On the day a company set up a pension plan, it was immediately on the hook for all the years of service accumulated by employees up to that point: the worker who was sixty-four when the pension was started got a pension when he retired at sixty-five, even though he had been in the system only a year. That debt is called a “past service” obligation, and in some cases in the nineteen-forties and fifties the past-service obligations facing employers were huge. At Ford, the amount reportedly came to two hundred million dollars, or just under three thousand dollars per employee.
Gladwell takes this one step farther and connects it to healthcare: "The average cost of health insurance for an employee between the ages of thirty-five and thirty-nine is $3,759 a year, and for someone between the ages of sixty and sixty-four it is $7,622." G.M. has an estimated 62 billion dollars in health care liabilities. Of course, ask the CEO of an American automaker who hedged his bet on Hummers and Tahoes, how he feels about universal healthcare, and he'll reply in opposition.
But, please blame the lazy auto unions.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Monday, November 10, 2008
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Watch CBS Videos Online
The White Sox earned that victory last night behind John Danks' stellar pitching performance, and the Twins are horrible on the road, so this is no excuse. However, Major League Baseball cannot continue to appeal to tradition in crucial situations such as this. For once Bud, please be proactive. The commissioner's major weakness is his retroactive management style, and this is symptomatic of his capitulation to the almighty dollar.
We saw it during the juiced era, when it took Congress recently strong-arming major league baseball to implement drug testing. We saw it on full display after the 2002 All-Star game. We saw it earlier this month when the Astros were forced to play a series against the Cubs at Wrigley North (Milwaukee) because someone, somehow, failed to anticipate Hurricane Ike. And we saw it last night, with game 163 of the 2008 season. A game played in Chicago despite the fact that the Twins had won the season series 10-8. Why? Because coin flips have always been used.
Time for Bud to make a retroactive change, again.
Friday, September 26, 2008
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
In some ways, the subprime mortgage mess and housing crisis are metaphors for what has come over America in recent years: A certain connection between hard work, achievement, and accountability has been broken. We’ve become a subprime nation that thinks it can just borrow its way to prosperity—putting nothing down and making no payments for two years. Subprime lenders told us that we could have the American dream—a home of our own—without the discipline or sacrifice that home ownership requires. We didn’t need to study hard and build a solid educational foundation. We didn’t need to save an build a solid credit record. The bank around the corner or online would borrow the money from China and lend it to us—with a credit check no more intrusive than the check you get at the airport when they make sure the name on your airline ticket matches the one on your driver’s license. When the whole pyramid scheme, operated by some of our best financial institutions, collapsed, everyone from simple homeowners to unscrupulous lenders looked to the government for a bailout. The politicians accommodated them, even though everyone knew that the lenders had not been betting that their customers’ penchant for hard work or frugality or innovation would enable them to make the payments. They were simply betting that the housing bubble would keep driving up the prices of homes and that mortgages rates would keep falling—that the market would bail everybody out forever. It did—until it didn’t. As with out houses, so with our country: We have been mortgaging our future rather than investing in it?So, the question then becomes, what to invest in?
Sunday, September 21, 2008
An argument I continue to hear in support of the $700 billion dollar bailout has been that because assets are clogging up the system, credit could be very difficult to obtain if the federal government doesn't step in, quickly. I wonder if easy access to credit, or desire for that credit, wasn't the problem in the first place. From Naked Capitalism,
The US needs to wean itself of unsustainable overconsumption, and since consumption has come to depend on growth in indebtedness, a reversal, however painful, is necessary. Our excesses have been so great that there is no way out of this that does not lead to a general fall in living standards (note that the officialdom in the UK is willing to say that, but since perpetual prosperity is a God-given right in America, admitting we will be getting poorer is verboten). Thus, a sharp contraction in lending seems inevitable; the trick is to prevent it from crossing the tipping point into a vicious, accelerating downward spiral.Naked Capitalism goes on to summarized two problems with the proposed legislation. The first comes from the direct wording of the bill, "Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency." So, this bill grants the Secretary of the Treasury power that would exempt him from judicial or legislative review? Not a huge fan.
Secondly, the bill does NOT require the federal government to pay market value for these mortgages. Imagine that, lenders holding the federal government hostage, extracting top dollar for toxic mortgages, while tax payers flip the bill.
While such a bailout may be a necessary evil, hopefully the government does not make a bad situation worse in haste.
(The proposed $700 billion legislation is too dense to read myself, but have at it here if you'd like.)
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Monday, July 7, 2008
Obama the most liberal Senator?
Chairmen of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, summarizes the challenges that lay ahead as we look to reform the health care system in America. A nice concise overview.
If you've listened to sports talk radio at all recently then you've probably heard the Bud Light commercial tribute to another Real Man of Genius: Mr. Roller Cooler Cooler Roller (hear it at budlight.com). Well, it turns out members of the St. Louis Cardinals bullpen are also Real Men of Genius. So, does this mean Kyle McClellan is Mr. Cruzin Cooler?
A Pastor who previously supported President George W. Bush, launched a website called James Dobson Doesn't Speak For Me to refute claims made against Barack Obama by Dobson during his June 24th broadcast. After listening to that broadcast, where Dobson devotes a good portion of the program criticizing Obama's '06 Call to Renewal speech, it became very clear that Dobson was willing to take quotes out of context to suit his purposes.
An Ode to Baseball Cards, "Growing up on the mean streets of Bath, Maine, I never saw anyone riding their bicycles with baseball cards in the spokes. And if I did, I’d have shoved the ungrateful little punks off their banana-seated Huffys and rescued all the Garry Templetons, Oscar Zamoras, and Felix Millans as if they were my own cardboard children. Because that’s how I rolled, yo." I could not agree more.
Fascinating details behind the fall of Bear Sterns. Based on this account, it sounds like no one truly knows what caused Bear's collapse , but conspiracy theories have emerged.
Bishop of Durham and New Testament scholar (not to mention super smart theologian), N.T. Wright appeared on the Colbert Report and discussed heaven.
John McCain responded to criticism to his proposal for a gas tax holiday,"You know the economists?'' McCain said June 12 at Federal Hall, near the New York Stock Exchange. "They're the same ones that didn't predict this housing crisis we're in. They're the same ones that didn't predict the dot-com meltdown. They're the same ones that didn't predict the inflation that's staring us in the face today.'' Silly economists. So, does this mean McCain won't be putting his "lot in with economists"?
Two Bethel University Professors (my alma mater) wrote an article for Christianity Today, "How to Pick a President: Why Virtue Trumps Policy." An interesting perspective. Not what you'd expect given it's title.
Monday, June 23, 2008
"Our enormously productive economy...demands that we make consumption our way of life, that we convert the buying and use of goods into rituals, that we seek our spiritual satisfaction, our ego satisfaction, in consumption...We need things consumed, burned up, replaced and discarded at an ever-accelerating rate."
For the entire Story of Stuff click here.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
The last week of school, in U.S. history, I asked students to share examples of social and political commentary from their music collection. Well, here is mine. After visiting a hospital in Malawi with 300% bed occupancy and failing to receive support from American Christian leaders for his ONE campaign, Bono wrote "Crumbs From Your Table" during a night of drinking. The "crumbs" in the song refer to a passage from Matthew 15: 27. I've included a few more verses below for context:
21 Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon.
22 A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, "Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly."
23 Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, "Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us."
24 He answered, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel."
25 The woman came and knelt before him. "Lord, help me!" she said.
26 He replied, "It is not right to take the children's bread and toss it to the dogs."
27 "Yes it is, Lord," she said. "Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master's table."
28 Then Jesus said to her, "Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted." And her daughter was healed from that very hour.
From the brightest star
Comes the blackest hole
You had so much to offer
Why did you offer your soul?
I was there for you baby
When you needed my help
Would you deny for others
What you demand for yourself?
Cool down mama, cool off
Cool down mama, cool off
You speak of signs and wonders
I need something other
I would believe if I was able
But I’m waiting on the crumbs from your table
You were pretty as a picture
It was all there to see
Then your face caught up with your psychology
With a mouth full of teeth
You ate all your friends
And you broke every heart thinking every heart mends
You speak of signs and wonders
But I need something other
I would believe if I was able
But I’m waiting on the crumbs from your table
Where you live should not decide
Whether you live or whether you die
Three to a bed
Sister Ann, she said
Dignity passes by
And you speak of signs and wonders
But I need something other
I would believe if I was able
I’m waiting on the crumbs from your table
Thursday, June 5, 2008
“He feels like he needs to show this league and the people in this country that he is better without Shaq,” Allen says. “He can win championships without Shaq. So offensively, he's going to jump out and say, 'I can average 30 points. I can still carry the load on this team.' If Kobe doesn't see he needs two and a half good players to be a legitimate playoff contender or win a championship, in about a year or two he'll be calling out to Jerry Buss that 'We need some help in here,' or 'Trade me.’ And we'll all be saying, 'I told you so,' when he says that."Jesus Shuttlesworth, the prophet.
Allen concludes by stating, “He has the talent [to lead a team], he can do it. But is his attitude going to allow him to take a back seat and let Lamar Odom shine and let Caron Butler have his nights and bring those big guys along with him?”
When Shaq left, Kobe shot, and shot, and shot, and shot, without making his teammates better. Caron Butler left town, and flourished in Washington, making the Eastern Conference All-Star Team. The Black Mamba (easily the stupidest nickname I've ever heard) began this season demanding that the Lakers upgrade the roster or trade him to a contender. When the Grizzlies gift-wrapped Pau Gasol at the trade deadline, the Lakers immediately became the best in the West. Kobe? Still a punk. Just a punk with a huge front line.
Of course, now he has a score to settle with Ray Allen, and that should scare the hell out of every Celtic fan out there. If you haven't noticed Ray Allen hasn't exactly been lights out this postseason. Those two ankle surgeries in the offseason seem to have taken their toll. Kobe will use those words from 2004 and try to put up 50 every night, no matter what Zen tactics Phil uses. And we all know he could do it.
But that would require him to shoot, and shoot, and shoot, and shoot...
And that hasn't worked so well in the past has it?
Friday, May 23, 2008
Just finished a workshop on equity and religion in public schools. Workshops suck as it is, but they are worse when presenters don't practice what they preach. The facilitators of the equity discussion gave us norms to follow as we participated in this discussion about equity and religion in the public schools (they anticipated conflict). During that discussion, much to our surprise, one of these presenters decided the list of social norms did not apply to her, and chastised a grown man who expressed a dissenting view from that which the equity folk were preaching.
However tasty the equity kool-aid may have been, teachers were not drinking after that exchange.
Sometimes I think this equity discussion gets too complicated. I'm the heterosexul, white, english-speaking, able-bodied, Christian guy, so that gives me power and privilege in this society. I get that. But do we have to argue over semantics? Seriously. Look at how former rotund black Portland Trailblazer, Kevin Duckworth recalls white teammate Danny Ainge,
"We knew Danny was Mormon [Kevin Duckworth said]. I drilled Danny about everything I didn't know, why there were no black Mormons and that kind of thing. When you're with all black guys, you don't learn about other cultures. Danny was great. It was like Danny Ainge, the brother.He never even saw color. Wow. Multiculturalists would say we cannot ignore people's race or culture, we should learn about it, celebrate it. I don't know what a multiculturalist would say to Duckworth's comments. Heck, who knows, I might even be a multiculturalist. These arguments always seem so circular and pointless though (if you've been in these workshops you know what I'm talking about). Usually, when it comes down to it, it's a bunch of well-intentioned white people, who are privileged in some way, sitting in a room, arguing with each other about semantics. But, when it comes down to it, it's all about treating people right. Not just people of color, non-whites, minorities, subordinates, etc. (whatever you want to call 'them'), but all us privileged types too.
And during the Finals, when Spike Lee sent along some Malcolm X hats and t-shirts to the Blazers to help promote his new movie, the players made sure Ainge got one. "Danny was part of the team, too," Duck said.
"We called him token, in a light-hearted sense," said Abdelnaby. "I called him 'Ritz' for cracker and he called me 'Mandingo.' I've played with a lot of white people, and I don't know too many other people who could have handled it as well as Danny. That's probably the thing I most respect him for. There was never an inkling of anything from him of racism, of being uncomfortable... I don't think I could have handled it as well as Danny. We would talk black-white relationships. Part of the reason Danny and I got along so well is he was naive to what was going on as a black person. He never even saw the color."
"Do unto others..." and leave semantics to authors and consultants.
Saturday, April 19, 2008
The embedded video below is a debate, "Does Christian Rock Suck?" from Rodish's blog. One discussion point: Does Christian rock have to come from the crotch? It is interesting.
Debate: Does Christian Rock Suck? from Daniel Radosh on Vimeo.
Monday, March 31, 2008
East: New York Mets
The Braves will push them until September. Fortunately for the Mets, Tom Glavine plays for the other guys this year.
Central: Chicago Cubs
Jim Hendry should not give up the farm system for Brian Roberts. They can win without him. If Kerry Wood can stay healthy that entire bullpen will fall into place, and it looks very scary.
West: Arizona Arizona Diamondbacks
They gave up too much for Dan Haren. Nevertheless, youngsters like Upton, Young, Drew, and Jackson will make up for it with another year of maturity a the plate.
N.L. Wild Card: Cincinnati Reds
I can't believe I'm choosing a team managed by Dusty Baker, but what are predictions without a few risks? I can't help but to think the N.L. East will beat up on each other and the Reds and and Cubs will emerge in a weak N.L. Central (Yes, I think Ben Sheets will get hurt again).
East: New York Yankees
There are too many questions surrounding the Red Sox starting rotation for me to choose them. The Yankees have more pitching depth this year than I can remember in any year's past, and suffice it to say, there will be no Roger Clemens signing come July.
Central: Cleveland Indians
This division comes down to bullpens. Edge: Cleveland.
West: Seattle Mariners
For years people have been raving about the Angels farm system, and we have yet to see it's fruits. The Mariners may have sacrificed the long-term health of the franchise by trading Adam Jones, but they now have the best 1-2 in the majors, and a nice bullpen. So, what the heck.
A.L. Wild Card: Boston Red Sox
Ultimately prognosticators have to leave one of the following four teams out, Tigers, Indians, Red Sox, and Yankees. I do not like the current make-up of the Tigers, especially Todd Jones. They are old and I believe they will be plagued with injuries, rendering their lineup much less potent than projected.
N.L. Champs: Arizona Diamondbacks
A.L. Champs: New York Yankees
World Series Champs: New York Yankees
With that farm system replenished, do not be surprised if September call-ups make the difference.
Friday, March 28, 2008
To accurately assess the Joe Nathan deal we need to look at the closer market. Below are closer contracts that compare to Nathan's in order of the date they were signed. In brackets is each closer's approximate age when they signed their respective contracts.
Jason Isringhausen (2005) 4 yrs./$33.75 mil. [33 years old]
Mariano Rivera (2006) 3 yrs./$45 mil. [36 years old]
Trevor Hoffman (2006) 3 yrs./$21 mil. [38 years old]
Billy Wagner (2006) 4 yrs./$43 mil. [34 years old]
Francisco Cordero (2008) 4 yrs./$46 mil. [32 years old]
Joe Nathan (2008) 4 yrs./$47 mil. [33 years old]
When comparing Nathan's contract to those of his peers who signed at a similar age, it is a very fair deal for the Twins, especially considering Nathan's record setting 160 saves since 2004. Not only that, the market only seems to be inflating. Any one who thinks Francisco Cordero and Joe Nathan are comparable needs to take a closer look at the numbers. In his four seasons as the Twins closer, Joe Nathan has compiled a 1.94 ERA. In those same four seasons Cordero's ERA sits above 3.
Why Not Johan?
In the immediate aftermath of the contract extension many people second-guessed why Twins management would invest in a 33 year old closer rather than putting that money towards locking up Johan Santana, a 27 year old two-time Cy Young winner. The reality is that Joe Nathan may be a less risky investment than Johan Santana. Rarely have large, long-term contracts like the Mets gave to Santana worked out (i.e. Mike Hampton, Denny Naegle, A.J. Burnett). Even though, Joe Nathan's contract will make up somewhere between 12-15% of the Twins payroll throughout the deal, it is much more likely that his performance will be worth it, throughout the deal. This cannot be said for Santana, whose skills will probably decline dramaticaly in years 5 and 6 of his contract with the Mets. There were indicators of such decline last year, as Johan did not have his typical second half surge, and gave up a career high in home runs. Being in the National League may stall the inevitable for Santana, but Joe Nathan has showed no signs of decline, and should prove a bargain in years three and four of the contract.
What About Trading Nathan?
Some believe the Twins would have been better suited not signing Joe Nathan to an extension and trading him at the deadline. Not true. Bill Smith, once again would have been held hostage, like he was in the Santana negotiations, with no leverage, unable to extract high level talent from other teams because Nathan would have been viewed as a rental. I believe Joe Nathan is still very much on the trading block. However, now that he's signed to a four-year deal, he does not need to sell at the trade deadline in July. He can wait. He can wait for teams' bullpens to crumble, and then raid their farm systems. The contract is a very trade-friendly contract too. It comes with a no-trade clause that allows Nathan to block block a trade with three teams each year. I am sure that Smith agreed to pay Nathan more money up front in exchange for as few teams as possible in that no-trade clause.
So, G.M. Bill Smith has taken another step towards building the Twins toward becoming contenders in 2010. Carlos Gomez has already showed us flashes of brilliance on opening day. Justin Morneau, Michael Cuddyer, and Joe Mauer are locked into long-term deals. The Twins acquired former Rays #1 pick Delmon Young in the offseason and head into June's draft with 4 of the first 61 picks. In the Nathan signing Bill Smith has obtained leverage for the trade deadline that he did not have during the Santana negotiations--he doesn't have to make a deal if the prospects offer do not satisfy his demands. He may not trade Nathan this season, but don't expect Nathan to finish this contract in the new balpark. This contract extension is a means to an end: Restocking the farm system
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Monday, March 10, 2008
Thursday, March 6, 2008
First on Torii Hunter's character,
When Hunter's agent, Larry Reynolds, told Angels owner Arte Moreno that Torii's social dreams had to be a part of the contract, the Angels built Hunter's Hundred into the contract so that not only will 100 underprivileged children go to every game, but the team also will invest in and work with agencies of Hunter's interest.As always, looking for a way to link baseball to it's cultural context, Gammons draws a parallel between Hunter's clubhouse presence and American politics,
Hunter and his wife, Katrina, already have The Torii Hunter Project, which donates huge amounts of money to Little League and youth programs in depressed areas. They sponsor 14 teams to go to Williamsport, Pa., and other areas of the country, and work with the RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) program.
"I can't stand hearing people complain that 8 percent of major league players are African-American," says Hunter. "I say, 'Do something.'" When asked about the funding for his project, he says "some comes from corporate sponsorships, some comes from other players, and whenever we need more, I pay for it. I can afford it."
It is a joy to read Peter Gammons. I wonder who he'll vote for?
The Angels know who they got in Torii Hunter -- a man who drips energy and preaches hope and potential. There are numbers that will quantify what Hunter is or isn't worth, just as there are politicians who try to tell us that "experience" is far more important than the foundation of hope and potential.Those numbers don't matter as much as Hunter's ability to energize and inspire his teammates, with character that cannot be quantified...
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
That said, it does surprise me to see these comments in the LA Times,
"I'd grown tired of being punished for not being an NFL superstar. Analysts who don't work as hard as me, don't prepare as hard as me, and don't have my resume were making more than me just because of their ability to throw or catch a football.It's ironic that Sean Salisbury casts himself as a victim given the way he bullied fellow analyst John Clayton on ESPN's "4 Downs" (see embedded video below). On one hand, he believes he should be rewarded for his hard work as an analyst (and is clearly bitter), yet when John Clayton, who is another respected (and a bit nerdy) football analyst, challenges Salisbury, he resorts to name-calling. Nice. Way to show that hard work and preparation Sean.
"Don't get me wrong, I appreciated the opportunity ESPN gave me, but they had capped my ceiling. There was only so far I could go there.
Friday, February 15, 2008
I'll be honest, I'm little bit ashamed here. I was kind of hoping for Jack or Locke. Maybe even Desmond I suppose. But so what if I'm girl. I'd rather be Claire, than Charlie or Hugo--easily my least two favorite characters.
Aside from shaming me, this quiz is bogus. But click away, I suppose it's kind of fun.
1. Andy Pettite was just dragged through agonizing testimony against one of his best friends, Roger Clemens, and is returning to a clubhouse of Yankees who may treat him like Fredo Corleone. He currently projects as their #1 starter, but will carry the weight of the Clemens saga with him wherever he goes. In fact, road trips may be refuge from the New York media for Pettite this season.
2. Curt Schilling is in a spat with Red Sox management over how to manage a shoulder injury. He would like to play through the pain, rehabbing along the way, while team doctors have recommended season ending surgery. Such a surgery would leave the Sox with a rotation of Beckett, Matsuzaka, Wakefield, Lester, and Bucholz or Tavarez.
Certainly the Yankees and Red Sox would dip their toes back in the trading waters today or at least place the same offers on the table they had in December. Perhaps three teams competing for Santana's services would have compelled the Mets to include Fernando Martinez in their offer, or at least Mike Pelfrey?
We'll never know. But I do believe Santana's rumored threat to exercise his no trade clause and the motivation to end this saga by Twins management before pitchers and catchers reported prevented the Twins from getting the best deal possible.
If only Bill Smith had waited two weeks, that magical leverage would have appeared.
Monday, February 11, 2008
An advertising and marketing paradigm of evangelism and theology internalizes an exchange mentality in both the evangelist and the target—one where salvation can be “obtained.” It is made into a transaction. Not one where people are purchasing an object with money but, rather, one where their payment is in the form of their conscious attention. Their regard toward God and their conversion is objectified nonetheless. Christianity is possessed—something one “has” rather than what one “is.” In this way, faith is mediated through the advertising and marketing paradigm.When the church markets the gospel the same way Nike markets it's shoes, it creates consumers rather than people who are genuinely transformed. Not exactly what Jesus had in mind, methinks. Thanks for this Todd.
For more of this post, read here. It is one part of five separate posts, and I'm assuming more are on the way. Search his blog for much more on this topic (and some Apple propaganda).
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
The Timberwolves one chance at a sellout may disappear with the possibility that K.G. may miss the Wolves/Celtics tilt this Friday at the Target Center due to injury.
For Christians who get wrapped up in politics (like me), this is a good reminder. Politics, specifically the democratic brand, is good, but will always be polluted by human self-interest, and thus cannot be looked to as the ultimate hope for all of humanity. Plus, Christians will never agree on political solutions to the world's problems.
Maybe if Twins fans had made more Johan tribute songs like this, he would have never left town.
Trade your exercise for beer. Yes!
The worst day in Celtics franchise history, now made into a full-length documentary (all due respect to Reggie Lewis).
One thing I know, God is not a con-man. He might change His mind, but he is not a con-man.
Hard to believe that while the Twins lost Torii Hunter, they are projected to increase the amount of runs they produce per game.
Remember when evangelicals won the White House for George W. Bush? Well, things look to be changing. A segment of those evangelicals, who label themselves "Born Again," no longer favor Republican candidates according to this study by the Barna Group.
If you are tempted to caucus in Minnesota, but are just uninformed please check the following links or watch the interview with Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie below. If you are not from the state of Minnesota, check your Secretary of State's homepage.
- The Minnesota Secretary of State's caucus finder. A non-partisan tool that will help you find where you can caucus.
- Information from the Minnesota DFL about precinct caucuses.
- Information from the Minnesota GOP about precinct caucuses.
- Information from the Independence Party of Minnesota.
- My Fox Candidate Matchmaker.
- Minnesota Public Radio's Select a Candidate Campaign 2008.
Friday, February 1, 2008
All of this winter’s machinations have been driven by Santana’s desire to, in effect, opt out of the last year of his contract and advance his free agency by one year and 220 innings or so. His leverage is that no-trade clause, which represents his ability to leave the Twins with them receiving just two draft picks, most likely picks between 25 and 35 in the 2009 draft. Given that the Twins’ chances of making the postseason in 2008 even with Santana are in the 10-15% range, that the team will be moving into a new ballpark in 2010 and that it has a slew of young pitchers coming through the system, it makes sense for them to trade him for players who can be contributors to that 2010 team. Santana knows this, and has put the pressure on accordingly. Remember, he hasn’t invoked the clause, merely threatened to do so…by going into the season as a Twin, Santana runs the risk of the team being good enough in the first half to make trading him a non-starter, which would force him to make a full complement of starts before getting to his next contract. I can’t emphasize this enough: pitching in the major leagues is a health risk, and when you have 3000 pitches standing between you and $150 million, it’s in your best interests to do whatever you can to remove that hurdle.Read the entire article here.
Now please, quit the Monday morning quarterbacking. Bill Smith did the best he could in an impossible situation where he had no leverage and one team realistically negotiating for Santana's services.
Update (02/03/08): Minneapolis Star Tribune writer La Velle E. Neal III affirms my entire analysis of these negotiations.
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
The Trading Market
The market for Johan Santana has been tepid since speculation arose that he was on the trading block. At first glance, this doesn't make sense for a 29 year old left-hander with two Cy Youngs on his resume (should have three) who many believe is the best pitcher in baseball. However, at second glance only a few teams could afford to make offers. Santana has a no-trade clause and is on the final year of his contract with the Twins. He made it well-known that he wanted to be shipped to a contender, specifically on the east coast, and he was seeking a contract in excess of 6 years, $20 million per. There aren't many teams that can meet those terms. Actually, there are only three, the Yankees, Red, Sox and Mets. So, Twins G.M. Bill Smith had very little negotiating leverage to begin with. This is why you cannot compare this trade to the Dan Haren trade or yet to be consummated Erik Bedard trade.
To make matters worse, there are indications that the Red Sox and Yankees never actually wanted Santana as badly as the media projected. Their main objective may have been to prevent the other team from acquiring the ace. The fact that the Yankees or the Red Sox did not even make a last ditch offer remotely resembling the offers made in December indicates they were satisfied with allowing the Mets win the Santana sweepstakes, because both teams had the prospects to best the Mets offer.
The reality of the situation is that market may have been composed of one team, the Mets, and the other two teams participating had very good reasons to get out. Namely, young stud pitchers who each team could control through their arbitration years: Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy for the Yankees, and Clay Buchholz, and Jon Lester for the Red Sox. Plus, had the Yankees traded for Johan Santana and signed him to his asking price of $150 mil. that would have cost the Yankees $200 mil. real dollars given how much it would take them over the luxury tax.
The Small Market
When evaluating this trade we need to consider the limits of Minnesota's small market. Twins G.M. Bill Smith traded one year of Johan Santana (Smith was not going to resign him) for 24 years of big league service time. That's four players whose six-year arbitration clocks haven't started ticking yet. That is extremely valuable for a small market team.
Second, he received minor-league pitchers. It has become pretty evident that for small-market teams to remain competitive in the American League they must do so by developing young pitching. Small-market teams cannot afford to compete with the offensive firepower of the Yankees, Red Sox and the newly revamped Tigers by attempting to match them run for run. So, they must rely on good pitching to keep them in games against these slugging teams. Had Smith traded Santana for 4 position players, it would not have made the Twins anymore competitive, unless he was able to flip these prospects for young pitchers. Small-market teams in the American League must develop pitching to compete with teams in larger markets that have become offensive minded.
Finally, in acquiring Gomez, it's pretty clear Smith has refocused Twins baseball on the fundamentals: pitching, defense, and base-running. The premise of Michael Lewis' groundbreaking biography of Oakland A's G.M. Billy Beane, Moneyball was that in order for small market Major League Baseball teams to survive they had to invest their money where other's were not. Zig when others zag. Then, that meant that Beane invested in on base percentage instead of home runs or batting average. Today that means investing in defense. During this offseason, it has become pretty clear that Bill Smith is investing in defense and base-running with his signing of Adam Everett, Mike Lamb, and his trade for Delmon Young and Carlos Gomez. Eventually, an outfield of Delmon Young, Carlos Gomez, and Micheal Cuddyer could make up one of the best outfields in baseball. He's zagging while others are zigging, an absolute necessity for a small market G.M.
Scouts vary on their opinions of the players involved in this deal. After surveying a lot opinions in various blogs and articles from "experts" the two players with the highest upside in this trade are Guera (18 yrs. old) and Gomez (22 yrs. old). Many seem to think both have been rushed through the Mets farm system (a testament to how shallow that system is) and could use some more seasoning in the minors. So, don't be surprised if the Twins sign a stop-gap center fielder like Kenny Lofton or Corey Patterson and a low-cost innings eater like Steve Trachsel or Tony Armas Jr.
Phil Humber and Kevin Mulvey both project to be middle of the rotation starters. Humber was the 3rd overall draft pick out of Rice University where he won an NCAA title. He was derailed with Tommy John surgery in 2005 and has yet to regain his collegiate form. He still projects as a MLB pitcher, but does not have the stuff he had prior to surgery. Mulvey projects as a control artist who keeps the ball in the stadium and on the ground, similar to Twins youngster Kevin Slowery-a nice profile for a team that emphasizes defenses. (Learn more about the Twins new acquisitions here)
I'm not as down on this trade as many analysts because I like the way the Twins have spread the risk around four players. If they take the deal with the Yankees and Phil Hughes gets hurt, they end up with an average center fielder, Melky Cabrera, for Johan Santana, and that's it. Plus, the Twins have a history of identifying good prospects from other farm systems. Some examples:
Alexi Casilla (from the Angels for J.C. Romero, 2005)
Francisco Liriano (from the Giants for A.J. Pierzynski, 2003)
Jason Bartlett (from the Padres for Brian Buchanan, 2002)
Johan Santana (from the Marlins for Jared Camp, 1999)
Kyle Lohse (from the Cubs for Rick Aguilera, 1999)
Cristian Guzman (from the Yankees for Chuck Knoblauch, 1998)
Joe Mays (from the Mariners for Roberto Kelly, 1997)
David Ortiz (from the Mariners for Dave Hollins, 1996)
While the Twins were forced to give up the best pitcher in baseball due to the financial constraints of this small market, let's remember the context, and trust the scouts that have put the Minnesota Twins in contention for the last 5-10 years.
Update (01/31/08): A smarter person more effectively stating what I tried to say, using statistics and stuff (click here).
Sunday, January 27, 2008
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
- The Tom Cruse Scientology video. His stare is seriously spooky. At what point will this stuff effect his movie career? On a side note: How freakin' awesome was Tom Cruise as Maverick in Top Gun? Easily one of my Top Ten movies of alltime.
- Speaking of movies, here's Entertainment Weekly's list, "The 25 Movies You Need to See Before Oscar Night (2008)". I've only seen four of these movies, although a great number more of them are in my Netflix queue. That's what happens when you have an 11 month old child in the house.
- I am "The Rich" by Heather Koerner. With below zero temps, sky-high heat bills, and a child in day care, I sure don't feel rich. Of course, 'rich' is relative isn't it? Warning: Conviction looms behind click.
- According to this economic evaluation of possible Johan Santana trades by Yahoo's Vince Gennaro, a trade to the Mets makes most sense because his possible future value to the Mets franchise matches that of the rumored Mets prospects the Twins are to receive. He believes the Yankees and Red Sox would not receive equal value in return for the ace.
- Debunking myths about why so many young adults tend to leave the church. Surprise, it is not because of secular universities.
- I've never heard of Chardon jeans, which is a shame, because they had the makings of a great ad campaign (see for yourself here): an arcade, roller skates, and Larry Bird.
- In an interview with Beliefnet, Mike Huckabee tries to squirm out of his comments that the constitution should be aligned with biblical standards. Someone needs to reminds this guy of that high school civics lesson on the Bill of Rights, specifically the first amendment, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..."
- So much for Bill Clinton being the first black president. Hint: Don't fall asleep during events honoring Martin Luther King Jr.
- Steven D. Levitt analyzes the relationship between declining abortion rates and crime, "...legalization of abortion in the 1970s reduced crime in the 1990s. The logic is simple: unwanted children have an increased risk of growing up to be criminals, and legalized abortion reduces the number of unwanted children. Consequently, legalized abortion lowers crime in the future." So, what effect does the increased availability of contraception have upon this theory?
- Kobe Bryant holds 4 of the top 10 spots for most field goal attempts in an NBA game, having most recently claimed the 6th spot, heaving 44 shots against the lowly Seattle Supersonics. FORTY-FOUR! See for yourself here, complete with shot chart. And you wonder why Shaq left town and nobody wants to play with this guy. Apparently even professionals don't like ball hogs.
Monday, January 21, 2008
Just read Beliefnet's interview of Mike Huckabee. He answers various questions in it, but I want to focus on one answer specifically in light of this holiday.
Q. There’s something interesting going on now in the evangelical world – there’s a conversation going on about what the agenda ought to be that seems broader. There was a little bit of a sense that the religious conservative leadership, while emphasizing important things like abortion and family, had neglected issues like poverty and the environment. Do you think that’s true?So, Huckabee gives the classic conservative response here--small government--leave social welfare to private institutions. Fair enough.
A. I’ve said that, that I’ve felt like as Christians and particularly even as Republicans, we needed to address issues that touched the broader perspective, and that included disease, hunger, poverty, homelessness, the environment. And it’s not a matter that we’re going to become left-wingers. I don’t think that at all. I think taking care of the earth is a matter of stewardship. It’s not about global warming, it’s about stewardship and responsibility. Things like hunger and homelessness. And it’s not about having a government program, it’s about simply reminding each of us as individual citizens that this is an area of our own responsibility. At my own church… our church is very, very engaged in everything from dealing with hunger, poverty, and we reach out to a lot of people. We don’t ask the government to do it. We do it ourselves as a church. It’s part of our ministry. The only reason the government would get involved would be that the other social institutions – primarily the family the church the neighborhood – failed. If the family or church does its own work and does it well, then there’s no reason for government to ever get into these things at all. The ideal is that they wouldn’t, that they’ll do a lousy job of it generally.
Juxtapose this quote with the USA Today article, "Why Christian's Should Seek MLK's Dream, Despite Gains" by Tom Krattenmaker. Krattenmaker argues that "Christians could be this country's greatest force by rejecting the temptation of complacency--and a me-first prosperity gospel--while leading the way to racial justice." The article begins by convincingly outlining the numerous ways blacks continue to suffer racial injustices, falling short of King's "Dream," and finishes by asking whether racial progress is the responsibility of the individual or society.
Sociologists have recognized that Sunday is the most racially segregated day of the week, suggesting that the church is not as integrated as the rest of society. So, if Mike Huckabee's conservative philosophy is correct, and we are to leave social welfare up to private institutions, how are we to expect racial progress when the church has yet to integrate at the same pace as society on the whole? What makes us think the contributions of homogeneous churches will create a more equitable society?
Americans err if we believe that it's only a black responsibility to right the social wrongs of racial inequality. It's a white responsibility, too — and a Christian responsibility. Why Christians? It's not that other faiths can't do their part as well, but Christians — by sheer number and religious tradition — could be our best hope.History shows that the teachings of Christianity hold an undeniable power to inspire positive social movements and call Americans to conscience, as they did during King's time. Many Christians will be the first to tell you they should be held to a higher standard — because their religion insists on it.
As the distinguished columnist Roger Cohen recently reminded, it is on the matter of race where one finds the greatest gulf between American behavior and American ideals. Will history find the same gap between Christian behavior and Christian ideals?
I am a Christian, and I would like to believe that the church would create a more equitable society where all races are reconciled, but I am weary. Until Martin's "Dream" is fulfilled within the church, maybe the government should do what it can to maintain a level playing field for all people outside the church.
(Kind of a hopeless post for MLK Jr. day isn't it?)
I absolutely agree with Greg Boyd's take on MLK Jr.,
Before marching, King would always tell his audiences he didn't want anyone marching who could not genuinely say she loved her white oppressors and was marching not only for her own freedom, but for the freedom of her oppressors (for King saw that oppressing another is as much a form of bondage as being oppressed). Not only this, but King would tell audiences he didn't want anyone marching who couldn't commit to refraining from all violence, even in self-defense. King explicitly based all this on the teaching and example of Jesus.Beliefnet posted a series of quotes from MLK's sermons. One in particular seemed relevant for American's today,
This makes what King did not simply a good and necessary social movement. It makes what King did a Kingdom movement. Indeed, I'd argue that the early civil rights movement, led by King, was one of the clearest expressions of the Kingdom [of God] in history.
"In the terrible midnight of war men have knocked on the door of the church to ask for the bread of peace, but the church has often disappointed them. What more pathetically reveals the irrelevancy of the church in present-day world affairs than its witness regarding war? In a world gone mad with arms buildup, chauvinistic passions and imperialistic exploitation, the church has either endorsed these activities or remained appallingly silent. ...A weary world, pleading desperately for peace, has often found the church morally sanctioning war."It was at this point in history that the cuddly black King became a nuisance to white America. It is one thing to target bigots who sic dogs on black teenagers and use fire hoses on peaceful protesters, it is quite another to criticize a war against Godless communism in Southeast Asia.
The American church today would do well to reflect on the teachings of Martin Luther King Jr. on more than just one day a year.
Thursday, January 17, 2008
So, one minute I'm focused on getting my team mentally prepared to win a basketball game, and within an instant I am speechless, quickly filling with rage. How could members of this team, who had just been publicly humiliated, wear those shirts into this locker room? The worst part: Nobody seemed to care. I lost it.
I quickly regained my capacity to speak. I sat kids down and began a lecture about pride. I told them that I had been part of a winning tradition in high school and we policed ourselves. There were somethings we would never let our teammates get away with. Then I said it, "If one of our teammates came in with an opponent's t-shirt on, it wouldn't matter if we won or lost by 50, we'd lynch him."
That was stupid.
Recently, Golf Channel anchor Kelly Tilghman suggested that young players who wanted to challenge Tiger Woods should "lynch him in a back alley." Though she and Tiger are friends, the comments caused an uproar. She was suspended for two weeks, and issue of race and politically correctness has once again been thrust into the spotlight. Tiger issued a statement through his agent, Mark Steinberg, "Tiger and Kelly are friends, and Tiger has a great deal of respect for Kelly...Regardless of the choice of words used, we know unequivocally that there was no ill-intent in her comments.''
Others are not satisfied though. In his Page 2 column, Scoop Jackson thinks Tiger should embrace his legacy and do more than issue simple statements through his agent. Al Sharpton sees no difference between Tilghman and Don Imus, insinuating that Tilghman should lose her job.
For my part, I can relate to Tilghman. Sometimes, good people say stupid things. I let emotion get the best of me. I do not know what made Ms. Tilghman say this, but if her experience was anything like mine, she's learned a lot and has probably grown a lot personally through this.
I personally apologized to each player who wore those shirts. I explained that I was one-hundred percent out of line both in what I said, and in how I said it. Each of them accepted my apology. In fact, they all apologized to me for wearing the shirts, which, oddly enough, was not one bit satisfying given the circumstances.
I apologized to my junior varsity team and explained that lynching is not something to be used loosely because it is a racially loaded term. As a teacher of American History, I know that. I explained that my emotions got the best of me and that I set a poor example for them. I then publicly apologized to the the J.V. boys who were wearing the shirts.
Finally, I apologized to the entire J.V./Varsity team. Even though many of those players were not even present for the exchange, I wanted to make sure they heard an apology from my mouth.
That was easily one of the stupidest things I've ever said.
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
The divisions within Christianity are numerous. There are three branches: Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and Protestantism. Within the Protestant branch are some thousand odd denominations that have resulted from various theological differences since the Reformation--some minor, others major.
Add to these official divisions other problems that chip away at the church's call to unity: Sunday is the most segregated day in America; spats about music or worship preference; and the intermingling of politics and the Church.
Samuel Clear has decided to do something about division in the church,
Sam's pilgrimage around the world is a means to one end: to mobilise a prayer army. An army with one thing on their heart - the unity of Christians everywhere. If there is faith enough to move mountains, is it possible that we have faith enough to bring us all together? Pray4One is definitely one way that we can be involved. There is no agenda, hidden motive or preconceived idea of what unity will look like. All we know is that God's people are divided. Pray4One is an organised way for us to come together and pray for the unity of all Christian people.Sam is walking around the world to unify the church and asking Christians everywhere to pray for unity at 4:01 (a.m. or p.m.). He started in Australia, in January 2006, and is currently in Moscow. His blog is full of crazy stories and pictures documenting his journey. To learn more about his mission, visit his website, walk4one.
Monday, January 14, 2008
The hardest part of coaching is watching dreams shatter, no matter the reason. There is no question about it.
I have been the assistant coach of a high school boys varsity basketball team for three years now and I see it every year: a senior's hopes crash as the season progresses. It breaks my heart. Currently, there is one senior player who I have very good relationship with that this is happening to. He began the season as a starter, but has since been demoted. He sulks during practice and he tears up after games in which he plays very few minutes. He had such high hopes for this season and now those hopes are seemingly gone.
Of course, he can do something about it. He can work harder in practice. He can work to shut down whoever he's assigned to defend. He can be a model teammate. He can hustle from drill to drill. He can come in early in the morning and shoot extra. Believe it or not, coaches notice this kind of stuff, and it makes a difference.
I don't know if he thinks the extra effort will pay dividends though. No matter how many motivating talks we have with him, he may be convinced that giving his maximum effort will not be enough and that he is a victim--that his high school career was taken from him. It seems like this happens every year, and it breaks my heart. Somehow, somewhere along the way, he was given the impression that seniors deserve a starting spot and do not need to earn it.
Sometimes, kids just aren't mentally tough enough to deal with the adversity of loosing playing time. Many people are quick to assign blame--if the player would only...the coach is playing the wrong kid, etc.--but right now, it's just killing me watching him handle this so poorly.
Friday, January 11, 2008
I recently discussed Hillary Clinton's candidacy with female friend of mine. She was skeptical of voting a woman into the White House because she feared having an overly emotional executive.
I replied that this was unfair because it presents a double standard. Either a woman is too emotional for president or she shows too little emotion and is thought of as calculating, cold and devious, also making her unfit for president. Hillary has been accused of this calculating nature on the campaign trail and she really has no weapon against this. She has to toe the line between too emotional and a cold-hearted b*tch--a standard no man is held to.
A day before Clinton won the New Hampshire primary she was asked how she was dealing with the rigors of the campaign trail. She replied tearfully,
...It’s not easy, and I couldn’t do it if I didn’t passionately believe it was the right thing to do. You know, I have so many opportunities from this country, I just don’t want to see us fall backwards. You know, this is very personal for me. It’s not just political it’s not just public. I see what’s happening, and we have to reverse it. Some people think elections are a game, lot’s of who’s up or who’s down, [but] it’s about our country , it’s about our kids’ futures, and it’s really about all of us together...Click here for a great review and video of the entire exchange from the New York Times.
Pundits have been speculating since that tearful encounter what impact, if any, this episode had on her surprising victory in New Hampshire. I suspect it helped, since women were the difference between New Hampshire and Iowa. Regardless, Patricia Schroeder, who dropped out of the presidential race twenty years ago, has an interesting observation about the double standard Hillary is having to deal with, "The good news for men is: crying is a badge of courage...The bad news is that for women it's still a scarlet letter."
And of course the speculation continues. Op-eds suggesting the tears were manufactured are too numerous to count (just google "Hillary tears"). And while a man might face that same skepticism, would his tears signal weakness or emotionalism in the minds of voters?
Perhaps this double standard is why women have never been front-runners.