'The A-Rod Chronicles'
Under the email slug 'The A-Rod Chronicles,' Reader No. 1 writes in:
1- Will the team really tie up 10 years and $350 million on such a pre-sold unpopular move?
2- If they do, will Dan Shaughnessy forecast the next World Series victory in the year 2093, noting the irony of one streak starting with the departure of a star to the Yankees and the next beginning with an arrival? (Remember why A-Rod couldn't take Number 3 in NY. But we haven't retired Pokey Reese's jersey here, yet.)
'You can reset the Curse Clock'
To hell with being rationale or philosophical about A-Rod. From Kevin:
I appreciate everything the new ownership has done for the Sox, but asking me to root for A-Rod 162 nights a year is simply too much. If they sign him, you can reset the Curse Clock.
'Disclaimer: I don’t like A-Rod'
Despite the disclaimer, Bert gives Steve Buckley-like rationales for thinking the unthinkable:
Disclaimer: I don’t like A-Rod. I think he has no soul. But here’s the case for the Red Sox going for him.
Performance: The Red Sox didn’t make the playoffs in 2006. They only won the division this year by 2 games and only tied for best record in baseball. Sure, they went on a tear and blew out the playoffs. And even the national media is now predicting the Red Sox to win 165 regular season games for the next four or five years. But being able to land a player who puts up 50 HR and 130 RBI with a batting average over .300, while playing a key defensive position (SS or 3B, take your pick), makes the regular season a bit more comfortable.
Clutch performance: Before getting on A-Rod’s post season failures and assuming it will always be such, we should consider that our own franchise went 86 years without a title. John Elway, Steve Young and Mike Krzwklsikslieksi the basketball coach from Duke are other examples of guys that “couldn’t win the big one”…until they did. Remember, they used to call Jeter Mr. November and say all he does is win. Things change.
Character: First: if Ortiz is friends with him, that’s gotta say something. Second: A-Rod and Randy Moss. Compare and contrast.
In addition to my disclaimer above, know that I can think of very few things my wife wants more than for the Red Sox to NOT acquire A-Rod. If they did acquire A-Rod, she might start rooting for him to suffer an immediate career-ending injury. No, I’m not kidding or exaggerating this. Not even a little bit.
'Low threshold for waging war'
From CSM, more evidence
that the situation in Iraq is improving. Whether it leads to an ever-changing definition of victory or something else (I lean distinctly toward something else), it's a positive development, at least for now. ... More on those ever-changing definitions
of victory. More here.
... Last two links via Glenn
'There is no doubt Red Sox owners will ...'
A friend with a good track record of predicting who the Sox will go after in the off-season thinks stats-obsessed management can't and won't resist A-Rod. So I suppose Sox fans, in grudging preparation, might want to read Steve
, who argues that signing A-Rod wouldn't be that bad. But reading Gerry
is more fun. First sentence:
Bobby Kielty saw one pitch, took one swing and hit more World Series home runs Sunday night than Alex Rodriguez has in his 14-year big league career.
To the second sentence:
In his last 16 postseason games, going all the way back to the 2004 AL Championship Series against the Red Sox, A-Rod has driven in fewer runs than Dice-K did in the third inning Saturday night.
But here's why you should brace for the worst:
There is no doubt Red Sox owners will dance with A-Rod because a) they are nothing if not hopeless flirts with a flair for the dramatic, and b) they do stupid human tricks whenever Boras calls.
Liberals ... liberals ... liberals!
Baseball as seen through the left-right-paradigm
prism. ... It's all there: Kennedy Country, Mike Dukakis, the Iraq war, terrorism, Blue State America, John Edwards' hair, affirmative action, capitalism. Well, it's almost all there. No mention of the Clintons. ...
Remember how Yankee fans used to condescendingly pretend they didn't care about the Sox-Yanks rivalry? They care.
... Hmmm. So John Henry et gang
almost pulled a Danny Ainge last year, blowing up the team and starting from scratch. Glad they didn't. Wish Ainge hadn't. Belately, he came to realize that building upon what you already got is often the best option. ... From Reader No. 1: "Can't get enough of this stuff. A very nice (and no subscription required) reflection
on the Red Sox victory from Joe Sheehan of Baseball Prospectus." ....Update
-- Ballpark Frank McCourt is recruiting
Joe Torre and Don Mattingly to the Dodgers, apparently giving the heave to Grady Little to make room. This means LA's Sox West concept hasn't worked. So McCourt is now going for a Sox-Yanks West concept. ... LA's signing of AL castoffs says something about the state of the National League, when you think about it. ... Or maybe it's just Frank. ...
'Instantly part of baseball history'
, you are. ... The MVP award couldn't have gone to a nicer guy. ... What a season. What an ending. What a team. ...Update
-- Reader No. 1:
End of summer. The Red Sox and first frost confirm it. If we had any more beloved fusty Frostian old New England poets around here, I'm sure they could make something out of this congruence. 2007 was truly a team effort and we owe thanks to A-Rod for reminding us of that.Update II
I love Mike Lowell too, but I hope he gives one of the cars to Papelbon. And now... we can sleep for a week or so, but let's bask in this moment one or 2 more times.
-- From Bert:
Very excited about the future. Imagine the top of next year’s lineup: Jacoby, Pedroia, Papi (w/healthy knee) and Manny. And the pitching staff: Beckett, Dice 2.0, Lester, Buchholz. Back end of bullpen features Paplebon, Okie and Delcarmen. There could be very good things ahead. I hope Reader #1 can look back at the end of next year and say my optimism was justified on this, too.
Reader #1 is right, btw: Paplebon might’ve been a better choice for WS MVP.
My quick note: Notice which pitcher's name isn't mentioned. ...Update III
-- Bert's on to something. The Chicago Tribune
is wondering if the Red Sox are headed for another Woodrow Wilson-era dynasty. I know, I know. But that's how they think in Cubs-land, where they haven't won a World Series since the pre-Woodrow Wilson era. ...
'Oct. 28, 2007 is now certain to live in Yankee infamy'
OK, it's pure schadenfreude. But, really, A-Rod's selfishness
made it more than appropriate. The timing of his announcement -- with the World Series not even over -- was indeed 'vintage A-Rod.'
He practically screamed on a day that wasn't supposed to be his, "It is I, Alex! You want me on this glorious day that I deign to share with you! I shall even take any locker you give me! I, Alex!" ... What an asshole. ... Sign Lowell!!! ... Almost feel sorry for the Yankees. But they can take solace in knowing that their main disruptive force is now gone. ...
'Top to bottom ...'
Bert, at my request, dashes off a quick overview of the Series so far, before he takes a pre-game power nap:
I think the 8 day layoff ruined Colorado's groove. They returned to what they were all season: a good National League team. The Red Sox are a very very good American league team. Top to bottom the Red Sox and the American League are just deeper and better than the Rockies and the National League. It's very much like the NFC dominating the NFL and Super Bowl for so many years
Red Sox starting pitching has been decent, bullpen very good (just like 2004 pen) and hitting is on fire right now. And let's not underestimate the job that Francona does. Understated and probably underrated.
Now nap time for me. Someone tell Selig to enforce rules to get hitters in the box to move the game along.
I could use a nap. But the Pats are playing. ...Update
-- Reader No. 1's post-Bert, pre-game comments:
Bert gets it right (again). After giving all last night, I don't think the Rockies can pull it out tonight. ...
How long before the Patriots are no longer "America's Team?" Bob and Jonathan, this Indy game might be more of a watershed event than we all think. Above and beyond videography and single parenthood, pure and simple tedious on-field dominance may turn many states (Blue as well as Red) against us.
for Daisuke. But I was more impressd with Jacoby and Dustin's performances. ... Hell, I'm just happy in general. ... Pats at 4:15. Sox at 8:20. Hope my sofa holds up. ...
'A well-planned trap'
Knowing the hard-liners in the Bush administration, I doubt they've adequately thought through all the ramifications of attacking Iran. David Ignatius has
done it for them. It's not pretty. ...
'The Bluest State,' Part II
Putting aside the minor controversy* over Jon Keller's new book, here's my mini-review of 'The Bluest State.'
As noted earlier
, I didn't like the book nearly as much as Reader No. 1. But I still liked it and recommend it.
Here are some of my "don't like" thoughts (a few of which correspond roughly with Reader No. 1's two "opportunities for improvement"):
-- The book's often bombastic attack on liberalism might play well with Red State types eager to confirm their worst nightmares about Massachusetts being overrun by aging hippies, tweed-clad academics and finger-wagging moralists. But the book's blunderbuss approach is ultimately offputting to anyone who knows that Massachusetts' politics are far more complex and devious than the standard left-right-paradigm analysis.
-- The book doesn't adequately explain how and why Massachusetts became the Bluest State. The 'progressive' side is thoroughly covered in the book. The 'hack' part isn't. As Reader No. 1 noted: "It's the Hack-Progressive Alliance that makes it impossible to untie or even cut the Gordian knots of high taxes/ expensive programs / mediocre performance of Mass public institutions." The hacks, whose old-fashioned ethnic and patronage politics can be traced back to the New Deal, and progressives, whose more elitist suburbanite liberalism can be traced back to the '60s, may fight now and then. But by and large, the two sides play off each other and would never risk a rupture that would weaken their joint hold on power.
-- The book's heavy emphasis on the 'boomer' generation caught me off guard. As Reader No. 1 (once again) put it: "The appellation 'boomer' applied to almost everything bad in Massachusetts politics over the last 25 years feels right but is insufficient to explain why changes for the better alternate between fleeting and impossible." ... It's insufficient because it doesn't explain the existence of non-boomers like Ted Kennedy and Michael Dukakis. It doesn't explain the non-boomer-style roles of Tom McGee, George Keverian, Tom Finneran, Sal DiMasi, William Bulger, Charles Flaherty, Robert Travaglini etc. etc. etc. etc., in maintaining a permanent bureaucracy and gerrymandered legislative and Congressional districts that thwart any and all attempts at genuine reform.
With all that said, I still liked the book. Here are a few reasons why:
-- Some of its chapters contain some of the most powerful statements about how the political establishment has sat back and literally watched blue-collar, middle-class and young residents move out of the state in droves due to high costs, high taxes and other factors that can't be tritely explained away by New England's weather. Massachusetts is slowly becoming a two-tiered state: one for the uber-upper-middleclass and the other for the poor in satellite neighborhoods and cities. Instead of asking "What's wrong with Kansas?", it might behoove liberal politicans to ask, "What's wrong with Massachusetts?" The answer has something to do with untying or cutting the Gordian knots that Reader No. 1 talked about.
-- Though I found Jon's emphasis on the 'boomer generation' surprising and at times annoying (only boomers like Jon could write so passionately about boomers), I still can't get the 'boomer' appellation out of mind. I now view national politics a little more through the boomer prism -- especially Hillary Clinton's Primary Colors candidacy that seems destined to deepen the culture-war divide in America. Barack Obama, though overrated, fascinates me precisely because he drops so many disgusted anti-boomer hints in his speeches. The endorsement of Obama by Deval Patrick, though it obviously had an ethnic-solidarity component to it, struck me as a rejection of politics-as-usual and an attempt to move the generational ball forward. As for Massachusetts' boomers, their preening sense of self-importance is highly annoying -- but they're only part of the problem, for the reasons explained above.
So the verdict on Jon's book: Thumbs up. With caveats.
* As for the recent controversy over Jon's book, I think it's now clear he should have put chapter notes at the end of his book. I'm sure he agrees and wishes he did. But I don't, for a second, question Jon's intent or integrity. I hope he writes more books like this that make people talk about and debate substanative issues facing Massachusetts.P.S.
-- I'd love to see Jon (or someone else) write a book that breaks down Massachusetts' politics via a series of essays. One of the chapters, as Reader No. 1 has suggested, could be about the recent Republican-governors phenomenon, i.e. how they tried to buck the system and/or became part it. Other suggestions: the Ed King-Mike Dukakis rivalry that laid bare the tensions within the Democratic party, aka the Hack-Progressive Alliance, and how those tensions still influence state politics; the Democratic Legislature and how it wields power (Billy, Tommy, Sal, Trav etc.); Deval and his relationship with the Democratic-controlled Legislature (an unfolding drama to be sure); the Republican-party meltdown and the rise of Independents; the permanent bureaucracy; Ted and JFK II: A Contrast in Power; regional breakdowns of state politics; the true outsiders of state politics (blacks, Hispanics and women, with a few notable exceptions), etc. etc.
The bottom line is Massachusetts' political culture is too complex to slap a simple overarching narrative on it. It needs to be deconstructed -- essay by essay, tribe by tribe, scoundrel by scoundrel.
'8th Wonder of the World'
That's a man-made island in Dubai. It's beautiful. I had no idea. Incredible. Though I wouldn't want to be anywhere near it during a storm. ... Photo via a Washington Post series
on Dubai's growth. ...
More photos here
. ... The 'high environmental cost'
indeed. But it's still incredible. ...
'Rooting for an American defeat,' Part II
Here's a classic example
of how a partisan sees the war -- through the prism of raw politics. ... BTW: The 'opposition' is broken down into 'peaceniks, isolationists, and the war fatigued.' ... And all this time I thought I was suffering from wretched-wartime-leadership fatigue. ...Update
-- More on the administration's 'lack of imagination, incompetence and sheer lack of knowledge'
that caused what I previously thought was a bad bout of wretched-wartime-leadership fatigue. Thank goodness Red State has diagnosed it as simple war fatigue. ...
Evolution of the football helmet - and players
A former Harvard quarterback has developed a new football helmet
designed to reduce concussions. Hope it works. Concussions are a real problem in the sport. But I have a suggestion that might work in conjunction with new helmets: weight limits for football players. They do it at the pee-wee level. Why not for high school, college and pro players? OK, maybe not for pro players. They're adults. But football players in general have become almost physical freaks of nature. They're bigger, faster and stronger than ever -- and keep getting bigger, faster and stronger. The increasing size, speed and strength of players contribute to injuries too. Olympic-style wrestling has weight limits and weight categories. So does boxing. Football should have them as well -- especially at the high-school level. ...
FYI: I've been thinking about this issue ever since attending a high-school football game a few years back. Glancing at the players and then at the program, I was shocked at the size of players -- many of them weighing 225 pounds and up. In high school! ... Think of all the weight-related ailments these players will inevitably develop down the road -- from bad knees to diabetes. ... These are the rough limits I'd consider: High school, 215 pounds; college, 250 pounds; pros, whatever, though a cap of 275 to 300 pounds wouldn't be unreasonable at all.Update
has more on Xenith LLC. The company's web site is here
. ... Hope their helmets are more practical than their web site. ...
'The Papi-Lowell-Youkilis dilemma'
From Reader No. 1:
There's a great paid-link on Baseball Prospectus today addressing the Papi-Lowell-Youkilis dilemma that points to a nearly-forgotten solution from the 1968 World Series. Tigers Manager Mayo Smith moved Mickey Stanley from CF to SS - where he'd never played - and it worked fine. BP knows Francona won't move Youkilis there, and I can think of one reason why - 2007 is not 1968. In a media-satured individualistic age, the message sent by putting Julio Lugo on the bench, and putting Youkilis at SS (where he has never played a professional game) embarasses a pro having a bad year. And it broadcasts a message to veterans who might come here that their manager won't stand by them.
But it's such a disruptive innovation that I bet Michael Lewis would write a big article about it in The New Yorker. I think the human side is what Francona thinks about much more than (a) not thinking about it in the first place, (b) getting razzed by Dan Shaughnessy if a ball goes through Youk's legs. People matter, that's a good thing for a manager to remember.
Not for the Sox
. They've exhausted my 'wow' vocabulary. Same with the Pats. I'm talking Boston College
. Wow. ...
'Rooting for an American defeat'
hits the blowhard trifecta: 1.) Conservatives like George Will represent 'defeatism on the right.' 2.) So-called 'realists' like Brent Scowcroft are 'rooting for an American defeat.' 3.) The media wants to discredit President Bush with a 'defeat in Iraq.' ... Well, thank God rational conservatives, realists, the media and the American people via the 2006 elections forced Bush to dump the nation's worst defense secretary since Robert McNamara and finally change course in Iraq. Those changes didn't happen because of the happy-talk cheerleading on the pro-war right. ... And there are
changes in Iraq. Positive changes that we should all be grateful for, though it's not clear yet if Petraeus's successes will be long lasting. ...
Let them hate us
Another New Yorker whines
about Boston's winning ways. ... Here's the full
column. ... You see, we were more 'charming' when losing. Does that mean the rest of the nation is more 'charming' now that they're losing? Keep the charm. It's on us. ... Ah, it brings back memories of those bemoaning the Sox triumph of '04. The pseudo-sophisticated missed their cute Shakespearean angst and Curse schticks. ... Ho hum, another blowout
. ... Where was I? Hey, New York, charm on this
-- Oh, God. It's more 'reveling in the misery of defeat'
dribble. Even when the Sox are winning, they have to haul out this stuff and give it a new twist. ... Notice that it's written by an 'author.' Get it? Intellectual. Baseball. Get it? ...
'Crazy talk ... crazy walk'
: They pump themselves up, then act. They did it with Iraq. They're doing it now with Iran. Talk of 'holocaust' and 'World War III' is extreme language that crowds out rational debate amongst themselves and others. It's the same no-options mindset that led to tragic mistakes in Iraq because they refused to question their assumptions and plan for the unexpected. It's why I have no faith in their judgment on what might happen after an attack on Iran. It's why I oppose an attack on Iran. I don't trust their judgment. ...
'OFF or ON?' - Part III
And here's the final Part III
of Errol Morris's fascinating look into whether Roger Fenton staged his famous Crimean War photo. ... Boy, was I wrong. I'm convinced he's found the answer. The answer really is 'obvious,' a word Morris doesn't like but one that's apt in this case. He has Part I and II at the site. ... The fun part of the series is testing one's own prejudices, assumptions and motives while sifting through facts and theories. ...
'BOS vs. NY: Gone, Baby, Gone'
In an email slugged 'BOS vs. NY: Gone, Baby, Gone,' Brighton Reader checks in after perusing the press in Loserville:
Has it come to this? A piece in the New York Times that Gotham is envious, bitter and begrudges Boston's sports success? Perhaps Dennis Lehane can write a novel about it. ...
'Prepared for the bad news ...'
Back from Internet-challenged southern Spain, John
was prepared for the bad and therefore unprepared for the good. ... Check out his Spain photos. There's a surprise at the end. ...
'But let's not forget ...'
Reader No. 1 responds to Bert about first-pitch candidates and looks back on bad trades that never were:
Bert's got the right idea on the NL/Napkin League - because napkins are for folding! 2004 first pitch candidates are good, but let's not forget:
1- Dave Roberts!
2- Curtis Leskanic! (Look it up, dudes.)
What would life be like if we'd made this trade? Kinda brings back memories.
Theo scares me too sometimes.
'I'm sure someone on Yawkey way is ...'
With an email slugged "This one's for Bert!" Reader No. 1 writes:
Ho hum, another Boston sports weekend. I have to keep reminding my children, "enjoy this while it's here 'cause it isn't always like this." Musings:Update
- It's such a switch to have the other guys make the big boo-boos in a Red Sox Game 7 (notwithstanding Julio Lugo's efforts - if lightning struck once with Jacoby, can it strike again for Alex Cora)
- I've always liked Dustin Pedroia.
- Does Jim Lonborg throw out the first pitch in game 1 or game 2? Any Yaz sitings lately?
- Shouldn't conclude too much from a small sample size, but I'm sure someone on Yawkey way is dissecting and analyzing these meaningless interleague games from June (here, here and here). Note the June 14th pitching matchup.
-- Bert to Reader No. 1:
To Reader #1 -
You have to remind your children to enjoy it while it lasts? Start reminding some of the adults around here. They often forget it DID happen here just three years ago.
Jim Lonborg threw out the first pitch at ALCS Game 2, which I was privileged/cursed to watch from the bullpen. So I’m guessing it won’t be him. I don’t know who’s going to throw out any first pitches, but I’m willing to bet good money it won’t be Johnny Damon, Doug Mientkiewicz, Pedro, Derek Lowe or Keith Foulke. I woudn’t be surprised if they reached out to Arroyo, Kapler, Bellhorn or Embree.
It’d be crazy if Pesky wasn’t considered, though I’m not sure how he’s doing these days.
Throw out June, Reader #1. Carmona’s dominant regular season performance against the Red Sox didn’t help him in the LCS. Ditto Sabbathia.
A buddy of mine tabbed the NL the Napkin League. I agree.
'Ready for the World Series'
Bert, who never wavered, writes in:
I hope you and Reader # 1 are ready for the World Series.
The eight day layoff for Colorado will sap their momentum and spirit. I feel better about the World Series than I did about Games 6 and 7 of the ALCS. And I felt verrrrry good before each of those games.
I'm more than ready. I'm sure Reader No. 1 is too. ... I admit it: I had severe doubts, going into the playoffs and after they fell behind 3-1 in the ALCS, whether this hot-and-cold team could do it. They proved me wrong. I'm more than glad to admit it. ... BTW: I was at Saturday's game. Drew's grand-slam homer was by far the highlight of the night. No doubt. ... BTW II: Coco had to be yanked. Jacoby is a clutch scrapper at the plate and a force once on base. ... Julio Lugo scares the hell out of me. At the plate. On base. On the field. His mistakes last night, fortunately, were overcome by the clutch play of others.
'Boston seems like ...'
For many movie reviewers, Boston is the star of 'Gone Baby Gone.' Roger Ebert
Boston seems like the most forbidding city in crime movies. There are lots of movies about criminals in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York and points between, but somehow in Boston the wounds cut deeper, the characters are angrier, their resentments bleed, their grudges never die, and they all know everybody else's business.
Sounds right to me. From WaPo's Stephen Hunter
(ignore the wince-inducing 'Beantown'):
One of the great pleasures of the mystery writer Dennis Lehane and of the movies derived from his books -- "Mystic River" and now "Gone Baby Gone" -- is sense of place. The books are like a tour of back-alley, blue-collar Beantown; spend time with them in any form, and you start swallowing your r's, then spitting them out as h's.
And that's what makes "Gone Baby Gone" such a pleasure, the absolute fidelity with which it penetrates and makes real the non-Brahmin, unhip parts of that really interesting urban swamp up there, with all its colorful eddies and whorls of hatred, ugliness, hostility and, of course, treachery.
Urban swamp. Sounds right too. ... Deval has fallen
into the swamp. There goes another governor. ...
'Better to die on your feet than live on your knees'
You tell 'em, Josh!
... It's a sports quote for the ages. ... Beckett
pretty much nailed down the AL Cy Young award last night. ... Best blog headline of the week: 'Tim McCarver needs to die. Now.'
... Maybe Curt can wear his bloody sock on Saturday for good luck. Just a suggestion. ...Update
(seven days later) -- Charles:
Re your 19 October post: the Cy Young voting was done at season's end before Sabathia and Carmona turned into pumpkins so Beckett's October pitching does nothing except make him a post-season legend.
Yeah, I realized that mistake a while ago. Should have noted it sooner.
'At least worthy of a little attention'
OK, we'll pretend the Bruins
are potential champions too. ...
'OFF or ON?' - Part II
Here's Part II
of Errol Morris's look into whether Roger Fenton staged his famous Crimean War photo. It's a fascinating who-done-it blog series. But we'll have to wait for the answer until Part III. ... I thought
the number of cannonballs in the photo was key. But now I'm not so sure. ... Morris provides great background on the war. This paragraph caught my attention as it applies to today's debate over another conflict:
Fenton arrives when things are beginning to improve a bit after a huge uproar in England. The government has fallen over the miscarriage of what was going on, having started out with almost complete support from pretty much everybody.
You mean there was criticism of the conduct of the war in England? And that criticism forced changes that ultimately led to victory? ... Happy-talk conservatives, take note. See post below. ...
Well, I suppose it's a step in the right direction when John Podhoretz
admits his fellow conservative journalists and pundits ("alas") engaged in "happy-talk assessments" during the early years of the Iraq War. But notice how he slams the Washington Post's Thomas Ricks and Karen De Young after he all but acknowledges they were largely right in their early reporting of the war (i.e. non-happy talk) and largely right in their reporting today that AQI may be on the verge of defeat:
It is very interesting indeed that Thomas Ricks and Karen De Young are starting to test the possibility that, in their understandable despair after the many U.S. failures in the first 3½ years of the Iraq war, they might have gotten it wrong.
So let me get this straight: Ricks and De Young have been consistently right in their reporting -- and therefore might have gotten it wrong. John and the happy-talk crowd have been consistently wrong in their blowhard assessments -- and therefore might have gotten it right. ... God, it must be galling for happy-talk conservatives to admit to themselves that the evil MSM has gotten the war largely right. It's short-circuiting their brains, judging by John's right-wrong confusion. ... It must also gall them that it was critical assessments -- not smiley-face cheerleading -- that forced the administration to finally change course in Iraq. ...
... Oh, look: Glenn
, while questioning the patriotism of politicians and journalists, posts a reader's strange new theory about why the administration didn't change course sooner:
... I have to believe that one reason the chain of command was reluctant to change course in Iraq was the belief that the opposition was not in good faith, but instead was a stealth attempt to finally achieve what they could not win outright in 2003--and therefore any change in policy or admission that things weren't progressing would be used as a hammer to just end the entire thing.
It always comes back to the non-happy-talk critics. ... It's their fault!
Winifred C. Fitzgerald, RIP - Part II
Thanks to my cousin, my mother's memory lives on over at YouTube.
... What a beautiful way to commemorate 'beautiful memories.'
It's hard to believe she passed away a year ago this weekend. I can still hear her voice and feel her loving presence as if she were still here. ...
'Mirrah image to the regulah season ...'
But maybe they'll now mysteriously switch over to one of their hot moods. ... From Reader No. 1:
'Tis But a Flesh Wound - But seriously, it can't get worse for the Sox than the bottom of the 5th... can it? Bert, cheer us up!Update
-- From Bert:
I’m not sure I’m really qualified to talk Reader #1 or Red Sox Nation off the ledge. And I’m sure I don’t want a “We told you so” chorus aimed at me if things don’t work out.
So with the caveat that this is only how I’m going to position the current situation in my mind, here goes…
--“Momentum in baseball is the next game’s starting pitcher.”
--Josh Beckett is pitching Game 5.
--So is CC and they beat up on him pretty well in Game 1.
--The top of the 11th was worse. Last night we had more time to come back and we hadn’t blown the lead. Plus, I wasn’t freezing in the bleachers last night.
--You may have all off-season to be miserable. Keep hope alive for one more game.
'Great baby great'
Jim really likes
Ben's new flick. ...
'With all due respect ...'
With all due respect to Bert, I think Reader No. 1 was right. It's obvious the Sox aren't clicking after tonight's game. ... Bring in new blood. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Though it may be too late. Remember: 'Let the future not be the enemy.'
-- Reader No. 1:
I goofed on Coco's Westbrook history, kudos to Reader Bert and mea culpa (although Coco, again, did us no good tonight)...Update II
...and the lower 4 in the order finally generated a couple of runs...
... but we're in deep trouble now. Watching Francona's post-disaster press conference on the sofa at home - and my #1 comments, "He looks terrible." But probably not as terrible as he feels.
On the positive side, the game took less than 4 hours to play!
-- Comparing Dice-K to Eric Gagne
. ... He's not that bad. But he is predictably disappointing. He also predictably doesn't get much run support. ... Speaking of Gagne, here's a thought
: Would Belichick keep playing a NFL equivalent of Gagne? Or Drew?Update III
-- Bert to Hub Blog: Over? Hell no! Bert:
How’s the view from the Tobin?
Times are not desperate. Being down 3-0 in an LCS to the Yankees after having been beaten a) by 700 runs b) at home c) while using up your next game’s starter and when d) your best starter was shelled and injured would be a desperate time.
But being down 2-1 against the Indians, with Paul Byrd going in the next game and Josh Beckett waiting in the wings isn’t a time for panic.
I plead guilty.Update IV
-- Reader No. 1:
What would Belichick do? Or rather, what did he do with an NFL equivalent of Gagne?
I respect Bert's optimism and pray it is rewarded!
'I predict a day of Daisuke hysteria ...'
Yesterday's Pats win was satisfying. But it still doesn't take the sting out of the Sox' loss early yesterday morning. From the 'unsigned' Reader No. 1:
I never had more than a fleeting good feeling about the second Sox-Indians game. I suspect the team has set up their rotation this series based on running lots of statistical simulations of starter matchups (ie the laws of probability vs. gut instinct). Based on the last game, Cleveland has the deeper bullpen and if the game 4-5 starters can't get out of the 5th inning, we are in real trouble. If we manage to make it out of this series, is it too late to activate Clay Buchholz? ... Of course, we are also in real trouble if the 6-7-8-9 hitters in the batting order continue to do nothing. Two lineup changes I'd like to see tonight: Ellsbury in CF (yes, I know that means he's not available to pinch run in the 9th) and Cora at SS. ... Given the results so far and how we tend to look at things around here, I predict a day of Daisuke hysteria today on talk radio. (Wonder if that also factors into starting him out of town.) ...Update
-- From Bert:
With all due respect to Reader #1: Coco is 6-8 against Westbrook, tonight’s Cleveland starter. So as much as I love Jacoby, I think Coco should stay in the lineup tonight.
I suspect some action from the top of the order tonight. Career vs Westbrook:
From the 'unsigned' Armchair Gen. Brighton Center:
Let's admit it, when you need your shotgun, who wants to actually get out of bed to get it?
'The nastiness that followed was predictable,' Part II
This is not a blogger war. Don't panic. It's merely a cyber duel between Charley and yours truly. Below is Charley's response to yesterday's post, followed by my shot to his heart:
I'm not totally clear on your objections to the article I promoted, but I'll try to disentangle:
First of all, when one of us promotes someone else's work on our blog, it doesn't mean we agree with absolutely everything in it. I probably would not have said, "Why does the Herald keep calling itself a newspaper?", as our poster "TheOpenSociety" did. Those are the poster's words, not mine. I did think it was worthwhile to call attention to a reaction to the Herald's editorial, which I found pretty bull-headed, like much conservative reaction to Gore's award.
I understand that it's tricky to delineate the precise differences between the posts we promote and our own thoughts. A promotion could mean that we agree entirely, or in part; that we think it's a view worth considering; or even that it represents a view with which we don't agree, but needs to be addressed. (Yes, the last kind is rare.) I appreciate that it's vague sometimes, and that the off-handed "promotion comment" doesn't always make it clear why we think it's significant, or what parts we agree with. It would be incredibly tedious to do that every time we promote a post. It's a hazard of the format, but for the most part it works.
Now, compare these problems with the confusion caused by the "unsigned editorial" tradition! I am clear on the division between op-ed page and news -- the WSJ is the classic example of an editorial staff that seems not to read the rest of the paper. The Herald employs several people in news and opinion whose work I respect: Casey Ross, Wayne Woodlief, you -- heck, even Howie Carr occasionally justifies his existence. In any event, I do believe the Herald is a newspaper -- albeit one with a terribly misinformed unsigned-editorial staff.
Lomborg's piece in the Globe is intellectually dishonest -- a series of false choices (Kyoto *or* mosquito nets? Huh?) and a blithe dismissal of graver consequences than even the ones he mentions. But at least it's a signed piece, and as such is easier to discern from the institution that publishes it.
My response in the order of paragraphs:
Paragraph 1 ("I'm not totally clear on your objections ..."): I found it jarring that someone would hunt down nasty right-wing reactions to the Nobel award and then promote a nasty reaction that uses one paragraph of one opinion editorial to condemn an entire institution.
Paragraphs 2 and 3: I graciously concede paragraphs two and three despite some quibbles.
Paragraph 4 ('unsigned editorials'): Where did this issue come from? After a sanctimonious weekend of bashing and lecturing the media at BMG, I suppose one more we're-more-pure-than-thee argument is in order. But, please, no bashing and lecturing the media about "unsigned" editorials when you're promoting, well, an "unsigned" post. (Sorry, but TheOpenSociety's self-description of himself/herself as a Democratic lawyer who lives in Massachusetts and who backs Hillary Clinton covers a lot of people in this state. I briefly toggled around to find out who the author might be. No luck. Maybe I missed something. But, as David said over the weekend when the issue typically centered on a member of the MSM, sometimes you shouldn't have to hunt down a "disclosure.")
Paragraph 5: I won't defend/criticize word by word the Lomborg piece and the Herald editorial. I agree with some points and disagree with others in both. Yet the two pieces directly or indirectly concede the argument over the causes of global warming. The debate now (at least for most people) is about global warming's impact and possible solutions. It's important not to underestimate or overestimate global warming's impact because to do so would enshrine either complacency or hysteria as a basis for future decisions. As a result, it's perfectly legitimate to debate global warming's impact and solutions -- without, hopefully, being nasty or declaring the debate 'over.' ...
'The nastiness that followed was predictable'
Charley rightly points out the nasty reactions
of right-wing bloggers regarding Al Gore's winning of the Nobel Prize. But then he promotes a nasty reaction
to a Herald editorial
critical of Al Gore's winning of the Nobel Prize. ... You know, there's a difference between the 'opinion' pages of a newspaper and the 'news organization' as a whole. But such small factual matters don't seem to count at BMG, even though David says
he'd "stack up our sourcing on factual matters against anyone's." ... Oh, look: Both the Herald
yesterday ran on their 'opinion' pages virtually the same Bjørn Lomborg piece critical of Al Gore's winning the Nobel Prize. I'm eagerly awaiting Charley's promotion of a post condemning the Globe's 'denialists' ways, questioning its credibility as a 'news organization' and finishing up with the kicker, 'Why does the Globe keep calling itself a newspaper?' ... Oh, my disclosure.
Do you think it's OK that I link to a disclosure on my blog? Or should I say I'm a Herald reporter in my post? I'm going to do both just to be safe. ...P.S.
-- Here's a pretty good review
of three new books about global warming. It pretty much dismantles many (though not all) of Bjørn Lomborg's arguments. It pretty much dismantles many (though not all) of the left's approaches toward fighting global warming. I'm not wild about its endorsement of emission 'caps' to combat global warming. But solutions will require compromises. ... Here's an out-of-box piece
on energy, oil and global warming. I assume we're still allowed to debate the 'solutions' for global warming, right? Or has that debate officially been declared 'over' too? ...
'Let there be no doubt,' Part II
Re last night's Sox game: Doubts have returned. As they should. Cleveland is a good team. ... Before last night, I wasn't just beginning to believe. I was beginning to believe the march to a World Series win would be a fairy-tale cakewalk. Trot's homer nixed that silly notion. ... On other matters: While I know Charlie Weis isn't an orge
, he isn't winning either. Boston College played only a so-so game yesterday and still wore down Notre Dame rather easily. I know it's early in Weis's career at ND, but you have to wonder whether he's cut out for head coaching at the college level - sort of the opposite of Pete Carroll, who wasn't cut out for head coaching at the professional level. We'll see. ... Boston College is ranked fourth
in the nation. Is Boston going through a sports heyday or what? Sox, Pats, Eagles and, let's hope, the Celts. It's been so good lately that Boston College's undefeated season so far has been a sideshow. In any other city, they'd be the talk of the town. ...
'Surprised to see my byline here, aren’t you?'
Stephen Colbert shoves aside
Maureen Dowd and shows how a real man writes an op-ed column. ...
'Let there be no doubt'
I don't doubt.
Not after last night's game. Beckett. Watch how he reacts after he's released a ball. It's as if he's in a warm-up session, casually getting ready for the next pitch even before a hapless batter swings. ... Another great use of a word whose sound complements its meaning: 'Onslaught.'
... Sounds like a Prussian military term. ... We shall unleash the onslaught upon the enemy and show no mercy.
'The Armenian question'
The chairman of the House committee that approved the Armenian genocide resolution
actually said the following:
We have to weigh the desire to express our solidarity with the Armenian people and to condemn the historic nightmare through the use of the word 'genocide,' against the risk that it could cause young men and women in the uniform of the United States armed services to pay an even heavier price [in Iraq and Afghanistan] than they are currently paying.
In a moralistic debate over the use of a word, it's ironic that the chairman of the committee dodges words to obscure a truth. The 'heavier price' he refers to means in reality possible 'death' and 'injury' for the young men and women in uniform. How moral is the resolution now? ... Ah, the brave world of moralistic activists and politicians. ...
It's hard to find a better word to describe Fred Thompson
's candidacy. ... Dud.
... It's one of those words whose mere pronunciation is a perfect complement to its meaning. ... Via David
. Summing up the candidacy of Fred (itself another one of those words): 'Expectations were low.'
'And I think to myself ...'
Singing and schadenfreude has broken out at Soxaholix
I see Yankees blue,
With no fight,
All in a daze,
Turn out the lights,
And I think to myself,
what a wonderful world.
'The Bluest State'
Reader No. 1 gives a big thumbs up for Jon Keller's new book 'The Bluest State'
1. I got near the end before I realized how cleverly titled was this book, for I felt terribly blue (as opposed to Blue) throughout it.
2. It is the most powerful statement on the massive failures of American liberal politics and policy that I have read. Particularly well observed: how our regional groupthink suppresses critical thought, and the irrelevance of Democratic/Republican labels here (eg Cellucci/Swift).
3. I detected only 2 opportunities for improvement:
- Jon's conclusions that legislators and other policy types might listen is terribly inadequate to change. The ecosystem in which Globe editorialists, university idealogues, progressive suburbaanites and state legislators all coexist works well enough for its inhabitants already - why should they listen?
- The appellation 'boomer' applied to almost everything bad in Massachusetts politics over the last 25 years feels right but is insufficient to explain why changes for the better alternate between fleeting and impossible. It's the Hack-Progressive Alliance that makes it impossible to untie or even cut the Gordian knots of high taxes / expensive programs / mediocre performance of Mass public institutions.
Many Boomers are Hacks, but Hackdom came before the Boomers Idealistic Self-Absorportion and will live on after the Boomers have gone. The Boomers have often given the Hacks intellectual cover and even 'respectability.' A chapter on the strange case of Bill Weld might have been instructive here.
The fiddle-playing continues. Thank goodness for Jon's truthtelling and for writing this depressing but instructive book... the challenge, as Keller notes in another context - "What do we do now?"
I'm reading the book myself. I haven't liked it nearly as much as Reader No. 1. But I still like it. More later. Perhaps this weekend. ...
Everyone seems to be defining others these days at the NYT. Roger Cohen (see 'Distinctions matter' post below) warned about unfairly defining people as 'neoconservatives.' But Tony Judt
isn't going to let Cohen et gang off the hook without defining and damning them as 'liberal hawks.' Meanwhile, David Brooks
is defining 'dispositional conservatives' and 'creedal conservatives.' And Paul Krugman
is defining 'modern movement conservatism' as one that 'attracts a certain personality type.' ... I don't know what it all means. But there's a lot of infighting and psychoanalyzing going on. ...
Yesterday, I suspected something was going on up north when the Romney camp sent out this anti-Giuliani 'Big City, Big Spender'
press release. Sure enough, the two are tangling
in New Hampshire. Rudy's camp has since countered with a 'Romney's Taxachusetts Hypocrisy'
press release. ... So Rudy is finally making his big move in NH. Hard to believe, but the NH primary is just around the corner. ...
Still on politics: I really enjoyed this anti-dynastic piece
by Peggy Noonan. I'm so sick of them all. The thought of 28 straight years
of these two families running the country is depressing. ... Gotta admit: I've been impressed with Joe Biden. By far, he's been the most thoughtful Dem on Iraq (with 'thoughtful' defined as someone whose views somewhat match mine). But I don't see him winning -- which I know plays into the hands of the dynastic types. Still reviewing Obama and Richardson. I may have to curve the grades for them. But I won't curve the grades for Republicans. None of them pass the Hub Blog test. (Keep in mind I was once intrigued with the policy-wonkish Tommy Thompson, before he quietly self-destructed.) ... Fred Kaplan
on the departure of Gen. Peter 'Parrot' Pace. Sorry. I know he served his country to the best of his abilities. But it wasn't good enough. ...
'The New England Sports Family'
After watching Daisuke fall behind on the counts and Keystone Cops-like play in the outfield, I was disgusted and ready to give up ... until 'bedlam.'
... The most encouraging thing about last night was that the early discouraging play was overcome. We didn't see much of that in the late-season. ... I'm almost ready to say, 'I believe.' ...
'Give them the cash'
I'm with Michele
: 'Give them the cash.' ... And, no, it's not about 'backpeddling,' as commentator Dan asserts in the link, in order to win back favor from jakes. It's because, at least in my opinion, the two firefighters responded to duty and sacrificed their lives. They were and are heroes. That was my initial reaction yesterday. It remains my reaction today. If there's any 'backpeddling' going on inside my mind, it's that the heroes might have been flawed heroes. There's no way you can excuse, dismiss or tolerate even a little at-work alcohol or drug use among emergency responders. That also applies to doctors, pilots, crane operators, etc. ... A friend helped clarify this point for me while we gently argued the issue yesterday. ...
... Not to harp on the personal too much, but my first thoughts, upon reading the early newspaper accounts of the still preliminary (I assume) autopsy reports, went back to an account I once read about a relative on the night before a major battle during World War I. A Marine based in France, he and his soldier buddies were in their trench, singing sad songs and drinking stale beer from buckets, knowing the next morning they'd be issued one last shot, the whistle would blow and it was over the top to slaughter. The slaughter occurred the next morning like clockwork. ... I know
the circumstances are entirely different. I know
you can't tolerate any on-the-job alcohol or drug abuse. But I've never been in a trench with artillery shells flying around or rushed into a blazing building to save others, so I'm going to cut the two firefighters a lot of slack -- while hoping the BFD presses ahead with enforcement of common-sense rules and procedures. ...
'Turkey's Jewish Islamists'
Now that I've caught your attention
... If I've gotten it right, it's about secular nationalists fearful of a crypto-Zionist conspiracy to turn Turkey into an Islamist state with liberal pro-West sympathies. ... If only they were doing the same thing in Iraq. ... What a world. ...
asks a simple question: 'What's a neocon?' He makes interesting points about the labelling of people. ... FYI: I initially supported the war (to my brown-bag-over-head embarrassment) and don't consider myself a neocon at all. The main reason for my regret: It didn't work. How do you label that? ... Note: Much talk lately about how killings in Iraq are down. Hope it's a sign of progress. The military goal now is to minimize future blowback. Whether that's a form of 'managing defeat' or 'redefining victory,' I haven't a clue. I don't think anyone knows. ...
'Don’t think you can pitch better than that'
Technically, a no-hitter would have been better. But Beckett's outstanding job
last night sure wiped away a lot of my pessimism about the playoffs. ...
'Let the future not be the enemy'
Reader No. 1 is tired and perplexed heading into today's Sox game:
I already have post-season fatigue. Blame it on leaving NESN on Sunday night while doing the ironing and hearing Charles Steinberg explain how Tessie helped win the Bloody Sock Game. Dropkick the Dropkick Murphys!
I also never thought I'd be defending the 11-man pitching staff given how much the playoff roster breakdown resembles those of my glorious youth. But it does prompt the question: if you don't have Tim Wakefield on the roster, why do you need Doug Mirabelli on the roster?
If you have Jacoby Ellsbury hitting .350 on the roster, why talk about using him as a pinch-runner? Of course, this is the management that shut down Clay Buchholz... Dear Red Sox management, let the future not be the enemy of the present, most of us have seen Halley's Comet and a local World Series championship once in a lifetime...
PS - Book reports coming up soon, I'm nearly done with both "The Sound of Our Town" and "The Bluest State" ...
seems to be predicting a Sox triumph over the Angels. I'm not so sure. Which team is showing up for the playoffs? The White Sox bashing Sox or Tampa Bay struggling Sox? ... It's comforting to know area pessimists have the Pats
and, let's hope, Celts as default backups: 'I had to eat a whole plate of octopus.'Update
-- 'How to fake your way through the 2007 postseason.'
'Boston of the East'
is trying to become the education powerhouse of Asia. It's not going according to plan. ...