John Tierney has “admitted” that the almost hilarious gambling
controversy swirling around his family might indeed impact his re-election bid.
… Really? Do you think so, Congressman? … The quotes from his two brothers-in-law are simply
classic Boston. One example: “Tierney is the biggest liar in the world. … He
knew everything that was going on in my family for years. He sat with bookies
at Fenway.” … What? No Bruins or Pats games? Those bastid bookies!… Though it's tempting to bet big on Tierney's political demise, watch him get re-elected. The Hack-Progressive Alliance will come through
for him in the end. The former will work hard to turn out the vote. The latter will look
the other way as long as Tierney keeps delivering the progressive goods. It’s
how it works in this state.
The non-conventional wisdom view: The ObamaCare decision helps Mitt
Part truth and
part spin, the GOP’s take on the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold
ObamaCare is that it will help Mitt. Joe B agrees. So does Tall Reader, in the
post immediately below. Reader No. 1 has an interesting, nuanced view:
The tax issue is
a much more complicated one than in the 1980s when Ronnie was riding high.
Obviously it isn't just the public employee unions who think it's OK to pay
more taxes... The gazillionaires supporting the President don't mind
higher taxes so much because they are (a) still richer than the Pharoahs
after-tax and (b) can hire tax specialists to address their heavy burdens. And
as you and I know living in Massachusetts, even moderate income homeowners will
support tax increases for worthy purposes that are *closer to home* therefore visible,
and preserve the value of their properties (e.g. public school budgets).
So... where does
the ObamaCare Tax fall amongst those aforementioned independent undecides?
Update: a reminder that this likely provides short-term bump for the President.
Hub Blog stands by
my quickie analysis yesterday that this was a big victory for the president. Can
you imagine what today would have been like for him if the decision had gone
the other way? Obama would have looked more hapless and weak than Jimmy Carter.
His biggest legislative triumph would have been in tatters. He would have been
openly mocked and pilloried. No one likes a loser. But yesterday he didn’t
lose. He won in an upset. … Still, I agree it’s probably only going to be a
short-term win, similar to how the death of Bin Laden proved to be only a short-term
plus for the prez. The Republicans were initially stunned, even depressed, after yesterday's surprise ruling, knowing full well they lost an opportunity to both block a key piece of legislation and pummel Obama in the process. They expected -- and would have preferred -- a different outcome. But they're right that ObamaCare remains a major, divisive issue that can still put the president on the defensive. After clearing their heads after yesterday's ruling, their counter-offensive has begun.
Update -- Recall Rush's epic meltdown yesterday after the court decision. He didn't exactly sound like someone who thought the ruling was a win for Mitt and his side. He probably realizes today it's not the end of the world.
Nice haul: The Celts draft Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo – and a lot of risks
Impressive. Though Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger has back problems, you can’t be overly picky
when it comes to landing someone of his caliber with the 21st pick.
Sullinger is definitely a risk. But it’s a risk Danny and Doc had to take. …
Melo is less of a risk, health-wise, but he’s also more of a slight head-case
All in all,
Gary's conclusion: “The additions of Jared Sullinger of Ohio State and Fab Melo of
Syracuse was about as good as it could get for the Celtics at picks Nos. 21 and
22. Sullinger is the biggest reward from the Kendrick Perkins trade. .. And now
the Celtics can move forward with two players who will see considerable playing
time next year.”
SHOCKER: Supreme Court upholds ObamaCare
This is bigger than Joe Namath's upset win over the Colts in Super Bowl III: US Supreme Court upholds ObamaCare. So much for all those endless predictions that ObamaCare was going down, taking Obama's re-election chances with it. Except for Tom Goldstein, I didn't see any other pre-ruling prediction that the mandate would be upheld. I know there must have been similar predictions out there. But they were few and far between. ... Not a good day for Mitt, obviously. Obama would have instantly been on the ropes if the ruling had gone the other way. Now Obama has the opportunity to pull a little rope-a-dope after being on the defensive over the past few months.
Update -- The GOP is already mobilizing for a political fight. But it's Obama who now has the momentum.
Update II: From a conservative Hub Blog friend:
Just read your Hubblog update – I am not sure that this gives Obama momentum, so much as it gives his opponents fuel and purpose.
I hereby predict that this ruling will be a boon for Republican Senate and Congressional candidates, who will now be able to box opponents into the “tax” corner.
Fortunately most primaries have ended, or the Teaparty, likely reanimated by this ruling, would have put even more unelectable candidates into the general elections.
I wish I could be as sanguine about how this ruling impacts Mitt – I still don’t think he wins, but it does force him now to react specifically and directly to an issue and to put forth a plan of some sort.
So rather than dance and take a middling stance as he did on the immigration issue last week, he must now be direct and pointed. If he fails to do so he is toast. If he comes across cogent, forceful and comes with a plan that will choke the healthcare system any less than the monstrosity that is Obamacare, then he has a fighting chance. Does he have it in him? We will soon see.
I’m going counter intuitively on this – If SCOTUS had overturned Obamacare, I believe this would have been hurtful to the Romney campaign. Likewise, pundits will now proclaim that Obama has momentum, but I don’t agree.(My money is still on Obama. But this makes the race more competitive, not less, I believe.)
And here's part of my response back to my friend:
Fair enough. I can see Republicans getting themselves pumped up for a major political fight. That's the way it should be. ObamaCare was a creation of politics. Any repeal can and should be based on push-back politics. But, today, Obama can now switch to the offensive on this issue. It's a big triumph for the president. ...
Please, sir, can we have another Yet more evidence -- as if more evidence is needed -- that the financial system is rigged to favor the few. Not in every instance. But just enough to tilt the odds in favor of financiers and against the average investor.
Why we put up with these guys not going to jail, I don't know.
¶ 10:42 AM
Monday, June 25, 2012
Does the Kevin Youkilis trade strike you as more than a little strange? Part 2 Continuing with the subject matter in the post below, Reader No.1 writes in to agree with Reader AM's observations about the Youk trade:
AM was right on the money. See this Twitter feed from CBS Sports Danny Knobler earlier this month. You could run a bell curve on Youk's batting average, OBP, slugging percentage and OPS, with a very steep downward trend last year and this one. And as AM points out, injuries are surely part of the performance problem.
And - the Red Sox already have a cost-effective successor already performing at a high level at third base! These things are never easy, but it would have been stranger for the team to keep Middlebrooks in a platoon, or on the bench when every day someone spends in the major leagues counts towards their eligibility for salary arbitration AND the veteran ahead of him was on serious decline...
I still think the whole thing was handled in a strange way with a bare-minimum return to show for it, though I'll definitely concede it was right to go with Middlebrook.
¶ 12:45 PM
Does the Kevin Youkilis trade strike you as more than a little strange?
True, Will Middlebrooks looks like he’s ready for the big leagues. He better be. The Sox just traded away a proven All-Star, albeit one who hasn’t been playing so well of late, to make permanent room for him on the roster. Actually, the Sox didn’t trade Kevin Youkilis; they practically gave him away for two underwhelming prospects – and they threw in millions of dollars more to make sure he was gone.
It’s a very strange deal. The terms of the deal are strange. Its suddenness is strange. The way it unfolded is strange. The differing accounts of who talked to who and when is strange. The relationship between the manager and the team is strange. The relationship between the general manager and the manager is strange. The relationship between the higher-ups and the general manager is strange. This is now a very strange franchise.
Anyway, Reader No. 1 writes in:
Obviously he did a lot of fine work here, and became a Boston household word before he made the majors thanks to Michael Lewis.
We pride ourselves on rationality and learning around here but we're really as emotional as anyone else if not more so; consequently not a surprise that we all gave him a standing-O on his last at-bat lucky triple today, plus, he was a fun personality who welcomed the spotlight here, and (at the risk of sliding into Ron Borges territory), it is hard to quantify character.
Given his health and relative age, history will ask whether moving Youk from 1st to 3rd was really such a good idea (particularly if Adrian Gonzalez doesn't show some signs of improvement soon. On the other hand: Will Middlebrooks is obviously the real deal, and let's please let him wear a real uniform number now!
Update -- Reader AM doesn't agree with my analysis/observation:
IMHO trading Youk was an unfortunate necessity. Is he better than than Ortiz? No. Better than Gonzalez? No. Middlebrooks? Apparently not. Is he going to sit quietly and happily on the bench? Give me a break. Was he coming back next year? For $12 million net? I don't think so.
Once Gonzalez was on board, Youk's future with the Sox was as DH. But Ortiz bounced back, Youk struggled -- and in fact it's never been clear that he was one of those guys who would hit as well as DH as he did when playing in the field. It's an awfully left-handed lineup without him, but he hasn't been contributing anyway.
Everybody knows that this is a very good team on paper, but beset by injuries -- year after year, starting in '06, with some good luck in '07. Partly it's that they're old, but even the youngish players (Pedroia, Ellsbury, Kalish, Buchholz ...) get hurt a lot. (I doesn't help that the front office is constantly on the lookout for more injured guys, like Eric Bedard -- and come to think of it, Gonzalez and Crawford, plus of course Beckett. The Red Sox should be the official baseball team of the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center).
Players who are injured a lot are not really assests; and for every Paul Molitor there have been hundreds who never got consistently healthy. Unloading one of them (three, if we count Wake and Tek) is a good move.
Now here's a question: How do you think Bobby Valentine feels about the expected return of Carl Crawford?
The Impossible Dream vs The Improbable Team, Part II
A Hub Blog reader wrote in the following in response to the post immediately below:
might take a little issue on the ’75 Sox as entirely beloved team only because
of how Fred Lynn ultimately squandered what might have been – a fun group but
the memory of the team seems a little bittersweet in retrospect.
say ’75 sox more beloved than this year’s Celts – probably, but this year’s
Celts aren’t a team that fans have that kind of affection for. We admire them,
respect them, and root for them but they aren’t a warm and fuzzy bunch. Too
many prickly characters (Rondo, Pierce ) or stately and remote (Allen) or
intense and intimidating (guess who). Is it any wonder Scalabrini garnered so
much affection during his stay here – he was the one fan friendly personality
they had. They don’t have this kind of character on the team now, or none that
I can think of. It is hard to remember any successful Boston sports team
completely bereft of a player “mascot” athlete like this year’s Celts. The Pats’
Gronk is the best example in the city right now; it could have been Ocho had he
produced even a little.
would be interesting as a counter discussion, to look back at those teams
completely reviled not just for losing, but for the way they lost. In typical Boston manner, the public affection switch was
flipped irrevocably and angrily upon their loss.
examples would include the ’85 Pats, with frustration focused largely on their
quarterback Eason, who folded in the ’86 Super Bowl under pressure, never
really to recover again. Who can forget when Grogan went
in – we knew we were losing but at least we weren’t going to act like wimps in
Sox … no comments necessary.
sudden, but thoroughly ingrained is the anger over last year’s Sox sinking. I
submit that last year’s Sox collapse has changed the local attitude about the
Red Sox in a way that will take years to detect – but the mania is slowly
my age can remember when tickets were easy to get, and empty seats weren’t
unheard of – why can’t it happen again? …
I’m rambling, what about the underappreciated? I’ve always wondered why the
Cowens, Hondo, White Celtics have been – as I see it – almost completely
eclipsed in Boston’s collective memory. They won
two rings and were a frustrating foot injury away from a third – yet the local
dialogue is always about the Bird era.Sure
I understand how nationally the Bird–Magic story is compelling, yet the Cowens
era was an exciting time to be a Celts fan. "
Update -- From Reader AM:
"The '67 Sox and
the '11-12 Celts are not at all comparable. First off, the Sox actually won the
pennant and went to the finals. (A better analogue for the Celts might be the
'03 Sox, except that nobody believes they'll do better next year.)
"But there are
three other big differences.
"(1) The '67
pennant race was really, really exciting. With playoffs, no regular season
today, in any sport, can begin to match it.
"(2) In '67, the
Sox hadn't won anything for a long time (since '46). They really hadn't
contended since, say, '49, and hadn't had a winning record since '58; they'd
finished ninth the year before. This Celts team represents declension from the
versions that lost in the finals, and that actually won.
"(3) The '67 Sox
were a young, largely home-grown team. All of the regulars came up with the
Sox; Smith, Andrews, Foy, Scott, and (essentially) Ryan were first- and
second-year. Yaz, Petrocelli, Conigliaro, and Lonborg were young (27, 24, 22,
25) veterans. (All younger than just about anyone on the current Sox,
"Point 3 is very
important, I think. Garnett and Allen are comparable to -- who? Gary Bell and
John Wyatt? They're hired guns associated primarily with other teams. Pierce
and Rondo are our guys, of course, but both though excellent players are
considered kind of iffy -- rejected from the national team, etc. No one else is
"Come to think of
it, one could argue that the '11-12 Celts are more like the '11-12 Sox than
like the '67 Sox."
The Impossible Dream vs. The Improbable Team
I'm trying to remember the last time a losing Boston sports team garnered as much fan respect as this year's Celtics. The only team I can think of is the 1967 Red Sox "Impossible Dream" team. To this day, they're still respected and beloved; and there are no lingering grudges against them for losing to the Cardinals' Bob Gibson et gang in the World Series. Just the opposite: It was a magical, unexpected year with personal triumphs (Yaz's triple-crown) and tragedies (Tony Conigliaro) and surprises (Jim Lomborg's clutch Cy Young performances). The four-way fight for the AL pennant was epic. The fact the Sox got to the WS and nearly won is almost an inconvenient historical footnote.
This year's Celtics season wasn't nearly as dramatic or magical. They were not Cinderellas. They were not your classic out-of-no-where underdogs who stunned pundits and fans alike. This was a seasoned team of championship-caliber veterans who, though hobbled and aging fast, were nevertheless expected to at least make the playoffs. But few seriously believed the Celts would get so far in the playoffs (and almost beat the hated Heat in the process). There were moments when you could actually fantasize about Banner No. 18 being raised to the Garden rafters, ending the Big Three Era with highly satisfying in-your-face-Lebron authority. It didn't work out that way. But they won our respect.
Btw: Thinking about it a little more, the '75 Red Sox are up there as favorite lovable losers too. Even more so than this year's Celtics. But neither the '75 Sox or '12 Celts come close to matching the Impossible Dream team's lovable-loser status. ... And, Btw II: I'm not that sentimental about the Celts. I still prefer obnoxious winners over noble losers. But when noble losers come around now and then, it's fine to give 'em a pat on the back.
Please keep Kevin Garnett
So an era has come to an end. It was a terrific run. But do the Celtics really need to split up the Big Three? Nope. At least not all of it. Though he'll be dearly missed, the Celts can live without Ray Allen. He was already starting to get eclipsed by Avery Bradley before the young heir-apparent got injured. Bradley will be back next year. Ray probably won't be, though I'd love to see an effort to keep him if a sane short-term contract can be agreed upon.
But can the Celts replace Kevin Garnett? Put it this way: Does anyone really think the Celts can find a better center/forward to play with Pierce, Rondo and Bradley over the next few years? Unless Doc and Danny have a trick up their management sleeve, I don't see it happening. So why not resign KG? Give him a solid two-year contract with a third-year option, perhaps at or close to his current pay, but with one proviso: He's going to play center. OK, maybe he can switch off now and then to forward. But his primary duty would be center. Garnett proved this season that he could play the position -- and it's probably the only position he can play at this point. He just doesn't have the movement anymore to play forward. But he showed this year he can hang tough underneath the basket and simply dominate. Switching to center is sort of like an aging baseball player switching to full-time designated hitter: It's a way to squeeze a few more years out of an aging body that still has something to give. He's also a proven, almost fanatical leader, on and off the court. Paul Pierce understands that. ... Love this quote from Doc after last night's game: “Let’s just be honest. If you had told me before the playoffs started that you can have a Game 7 to decide to go to the Finals, we’d have taken it and we didn’t care where you played.’’
¶ 4:34 AM
Thursday, June 07, 2012
Scott Brown's Celtics report
Do you think Scott Brown is trying to drive a wedge between Celtics fans and Elizabeth Warren, who could soon face choosing between her adopted state's team or her native state's team in the NBA finals? That he's trying to force a Martha Coakley-like sports gaffe on Warren? ... Nah. ... Scott wouldn't do that. He genuinely loves the Celtics and just wants to express his devotion to the team before tonight's big game. ... Go Celts!
¶ 4:37 AM
so here we are. The team nobody said could win this series -- and yes, that
absolutely, positively included me -- the team that is too old, too fragile,
too hurt, whose margin of error is too small, whose bench is too anemic, whose
lack of athleticism is too much of a handicap, is now up 3-2 in the conference
finals, with a chance Thursday night to close it out on the parquet floor."
Who thought this was going to happen? At the start of this short season, I had a hunch this team would hold its head high and fight hard to prove a point. But this? I didn't expect this. ... But remember: It's not over till it's over. One more win. One more agonizing, frustrating, hair-pulling, come-from-behind, blow-a-huge-lead win -- and then it's off to the Finals.
Deval and Obama: A tale of two re-election campaigns President Obama is in big, big trouble if the economy suffers a couple more disappointing jobs reports like this one released today. ... I recall covering and following Gov. Deval Patrick's re-election campaign two years ago. He looked like a goner heading into the last year of his first term. But three things happened: 1.) He seemed to have hit his political stride, pushing reforms and sounding upbeat. 2.) He had what turned out to be a lackluster GOP opponent. 3.) The job numbers broke his political way, with fairly decent unemployment reports coming out each month for most of 2010. There was a sense Massachusetts was economically rebounding faster than the rest of the nation. Now think of Obama. Has he hit his campaign stride yet? Nope. Does he have a weak opponent? Certainly doesn't look like that way. Are the jobs numbers breaking in his favor? No. ... He needs the June, July, August and September job reports to be much stronger than what they've been over the past few months. Much stronger.
¶ 8:49 AM
You have found the center of the universe -- a blog about Boston, Hub of the Universe.