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[ 117 ] October 11, 2015 |

In addition, I think Poochie Cal Ripken must go. His people need him.


Kershaw Isn’t Clutch!

[ 18 ] October 10, 2015 |
Aug 22, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw (22) throws against the Miami Marlins during the first inning at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Aug 22, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw (22) throws against the Miami Marlins during the first inning at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

There will be many #hottakes to this effect tomorrow. (The take reaches scorching status if it mentions the unassailable postseason brilliance of Jack Morris, who had a lifetime ERA in the ALCS of 4.87. Morris, an excellent illustration of the utter stupidity of putting pitchers into “clutch” and “not clutch” boxes based on tiny samples, is often cited for the opposite purpose.) As I observed yesterday, they will without exception be asinine.

Clayton Kershaw took the mound yesterday against a very tough and deep lineup. (OPS+ of the Mets lineup tonight: 129, 128, 137, 113, 128, 132, 95, 94.) He struck out 11 in 6 2/3rds and gave up 4 hits. He left the game having given up one run. He did leave with the bases loaded after giving up 3 of his 4 walks in that inning. But Duda, Tejada and Granderson are all very patient hitters with excellent strike zone judgment, and worked walks with outstanding ABs. (How many players would have swung at the 3-2 pitch a few inches off the plate Granderson laid off? I’d guess way more than half.) It wasn’t his very best game, but he gave his team a good chance to win. A reliever could have gotten him out of the 7th, but gave up a line drive single. His team was facing one of the five best pitchers in the league and were dominated by him getting only one run after he left. Kershaw pitched very well; he wasn’t quite as good as Jacob DeGrom. This says nothing about his clutchiosity.

I should also say that while I don’t think much of Mattingly as a manager, I don’t think he did anything wrong tonight. Leaving Kershaw in against Granderson was the right decision, and after 3 walks it would have been crazy to leave him in to face the lefty-mashing Wright. It was a sound decision; it just didn’t work.

And finally, can we give it up to Mr. Curtis Granderson? It hasn’t attracted much attention, because he signed a big contract and was disappointing his first year, but he was one of the dozen best players in the league this year.

Neyer with more on Mattingly.

MLB Random Notes

[ 79 ] October 9, 2015 |

Paul shamed me out of attempting to predict the inherently not meaningfully predictable MLB playoffs several years ago, but some assorted links and observations:

  • To borrow Hunter Felt’s line, some impressive 3-out hitting by the Rangers today.  I really hope the Royals win because ye gods is an Astros/Rangers ALCS unenticing.
  • While Yankee Elimination Day is always a good day, this year the celebration is attenuated by the fact that I was happy to see A-Rod do well for obvious reasons, and was happy to see Carlos Beltran have a good year because he’s a Hall of Fame player and the “but he didn’t swing at that unhittable Adam Wainwright curveball that one time” thing is the dumbest shit ever.
  • The Pirates losing means there’s plenty of whining about the single-game wildcard playoff, which I find as unpersuasive as ever. Two additional points: 1)a particularly weak argument against the format is the “there should be a three-game playoff” alternative.  The difference between a one- and three-game playoff between two fairly evenly matched teams in terms of reducing the role of chance and ensuring that the “better team” wins is, for all intents and purposes, nothing.  2)Any playoff system that involves divisions has potential inequities, but divisions are necessary in a 15-team league. In addition, even if we got the narrow-minded quantoid’s wet dream and fan’s nightmare of one big 30-team league playing a balanced schedule and declaring the first place team the champion, between injuries and the fact that run sequence luck doesn’t even out in a season sample, the “best” team would not win with any particular reliability.  The goal of sports is not simply to determine the “best” team in some strong sense; a sport in which the “best” team always wins would not even be worth watching.
  • The thing is, Ned Yost is a good manager.  People overrate the importance of tactics.  Evaluating and developing talent is a much more important part of the job, and Yost has shown solid abilities in that area in two jobs now.
  • By the same token, the Mariners did the right thing in firing Llyod McClendon.  When a team underachieves that badly for a manager with a record of no particular distinction, that’s a very strong prima facie case for firing the manager.  It might be a coincidence, but that’s definitely not how to bet.  I don’t see anything that mitigates his performance; indeed, it’s not clear what if anything he does well.  And the Mariners really can’t afford to recycle a hack like Eric Wedge or John McClaren, either.  This isn’t a young team that can afford to be patient; it’s a team with a lot invested in front-line talent whose window is closing.  DiPoto needs to get this right.
  • I really wish that assertions that Clayton Kershaw isn’t “clutch” or whatever weren’t bullshit.

Friday Links

[ 27 ] October 9, 2015 |

I Still Can’t Understand Why Nobody Wants the Speaker Job

[ 225 ] October 9, 2015 |


The House Freedom Caucus seems nice:

Yesterday, Politico published the House Freedom Caucus “questionnaire” which it described as pushing for “House rule changes.” The document does do that. But it also does a lot more. It seeks substantive commitments from the next speaker that would effectively send the entire country into a tailspin.

For example, the document seeks a commitment from the next speaker to tie any increase in the debt ceiling to cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.


The government will run out of money on December 11. Unless additional funding is approved before that date, the government will shut down.

The House Freedom Caucus wants the next speaker to commit to not funding the government at all unless President Obama (and Senate Democrats) agree to defund Obamacare, Planned Parenthood and a host of other priorities. This is essentially the Ted Cruz strategy which prompted at 16-day shutdown in 2013. This would now be enshrined as the official policy of the Speaker Of The House.

The House Freedom Caucus wants the next speaker to commit to oppose any “omnibus” bill that would keep the government running. Rather, funding for each aspect of government could only be approved by separate bills. This would allow the Republicans to attempt to finance certain favored aspects of government (the military), while shuttering ones they view as largely unnecessary (education, health).

I don’t think much of Paul Ryan, but I do think he’s smart enough to stay away from this job.

I know that this Green Lanternism is not unique to the right per se.   There are people on the left who thought that Congress could have unilaterally ended the Iraq War in 2007 or that the Democratic minority in the Senate could have serially rejected Bush’s Supreme Court nominees.  There are also people on the left who believe that had Obama demanded single payer Joe Lieberman and Evan Bayh and Ben Nelson would have had no choice but to vote for a Medicare buy-in.   But 1)these are generally obscure People on the Internet Somewhere, not the core of the Democratic caucus in Congress, and 2)they at least support the use of completely irrational tactics to advance desirable ends.   The Freeance Caucus’s reason for being is to threaten to destroy the country unless the president agrees to destroy the country.  (And destroy the country not just in the eyes of Democrats but in the eyes of most Republican voters.)

The lesson, as always, is that Both Sides Do It.  Just ask Ron Fournier:

Which brings me back to the para­dox. Most voters and non­voters are dis­con­nec­ted from both parties be­cause the two-party sys­tem is in­creas­ingly loud, angry, mean, po­lar­iz­ing, selfish, vacu­ous, and soul­less. In­side the duo­poly, Trump is everything that base voters hate about the oth­er party.

So why the ap­peal? Maybe it’s be­cause Trump is the best of worst—an ex­ag­ger­ated re­flec­tion of what’s wrong with a sys­tem that val­ues celebrity and cel­eb­rates in­ci­vil­ity. He’s a ca­ri­ca­ture. A car­toon.

Very profound. It’s hard to imagine two public figures more similar than Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. And remember when the Democrats couldn’t find anyone willing to be Speaker in 2007 because a majority of the Democratic caucus threatened to shut down the government and default on the national debt unless Bush agreed to nationalize the means of production and appoint Mumia as Attorney General and Bob Avakian as Secretary of the Treasury? I’m not sure how we can ever escape the symmetrical problems of our two-party duopoly.

“It Means She’s My Property, And I Own Her.”

[ 133 ] October 8, 2015 |

On the media coverage of Matt Barnes’s alleged assault of Derek Fisher, this. Very much this:

Derek Fisher should have known better than to tread on another man’s turf; dating a woman with whom you share an attraction is a bad move because her ex might disapprove; missing a meaningless practice in the aftermath of being confronted in your girlfriend’s home by her enraged, entitled stalker ex is unprofessional. These are takes that mainstream sportswriters—good sportswriters, smart ones—are putting out there in the Year of Our Lord 2015. All of them are rooted in the idea that Gloria Govan is in some way still Matt Barnes’s domain, that Derek Fisher was breaching protocol by not considering Matt Barnes’s territorial rights. This is fucking deranged.

Here are some plain and obvious truths. Derek Fisher did not do anything wrong by dating Gloria Govan, a grown woman who by all accounts wanted to date him and happens not to have technically extricated herself from a bad marriage that functionally ended over a year ago. Derek Fisher and Matt Barnes are not romantic rivals. Going by the reports, the aggression was not mutual; Derek Fisher went to his girlfriend’s house for the purpose of a peaceful get-together, Matt Barnes invaded the home of his ex for the purpose of doing harm. Neither Gloria Govan’s nor Derek Fisher’s romantic lives are any of Matt Barnes’s damn business. Matt Barnes appears to be a fucking psycho. Sportswriters are lost on all of this shit.

When an accused domestic abuser shows up uninvited at a family party to—as a source put it to the New York Post—“beat the shit” out of someone for the offense of dating his ex, that is not a wacky character up to zany shenanigans. It is not reality TV melodrama or a cartoon or celebrities being silly. It is the behavior of a dangerous misogynist lunatic. It is an act of violent aggression. It is a man forcefully asserting personal property rights over a woman’s home, body, and life. It differs from what Ray Rice did in that elevator by degree, not by kind, and not by all that much. It is not fucking funny.

Thou Shalt Not Undermine BENGHAZI, The Greatest Scandal There Absolutely Ever Was With the Possible Exception of Steroids

[ 191 ] October 8, 2015 |

Film The Simpsons


Representative Kevin McCarthy on Thursday abruptly took himself out of the race to succeed John A. Boehner as House speaker, apparently undone by the same forces that drove Mr. Boehner to resign.

Mr. McCarthy’s candidacy was damaged when he suggested in an interview on Fox News last week that the House committee investigating Benghazi had the political aim of damaging Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential campaign.

As shocked members left the room there was a sense of total disarray, with no clear path forward and no set date for a new vote. Representative Peter King, Republican of New York, said that in dropping out of race, Mr. McCarthy told the room, “I’m not the one to unify the party.”

It’s a real mystery why nobody wants the job of driving this particular clown car.

Today In GOP Outreach to Women

[ 72 ] October 8, 2015 |


Remember the all-too-characteristically atrocious opening scene of The Newsroom in which the heroic newsman proves his genius with a rant from his trite nostalgia file directed against a strawman “sorority girl”? Perhaps John Kasich is using it as a model:

My hand was raised, my body half-way out of my back-row seat, when Gov. John Kasich finally acknowledged me.

“I’m sorry, I don’t have any Taylor Swift concert tickets,” he said, his eyes meeting mine.

The older members of the audience chuckled as my friends’ jaws dropped to the floor. It was astonishingly clear that Gov. Kasich did not come to Richmond for my vote.


What continues to strike me is the hypocrisy of his condescension. He touted his ambitious energy as an 18-year-old man, but as soon as I, an 18-year-old woman, exhibited ambition, I became the target of his joke. The same passion that drove Kasich to speak with President Nixon drove me to ask the candidate a question I care deeply about. In a way, I was taking the governor’s advice: “Always ask.”

What a card! Hey, all those arbitrarily disenfranchised voters probably just want to use the voting booths to listen to hippty-hop music anyway.

[People who think that I’m being unfair to Sorkin can view the scene here. You’ll be sorry. I especially admire Sorkin for the classic tell: his male heroes who derie the superficiality of feminine hobbies and interests never fail to note that they’re sports fans. But, in fairness, there was that Olivia Munn character with 42 PhDs.]

Brave, Brave Sir Ben

[ 120 ] October 8, 2015 |


Shorter Ben Carson: “Once, I had someone point a gun at me at Popeye’s. I had the courage to tell him it was OK to shoot the cashier as long as he spared me. This proves we don’t need gun control laws.”

More on Carson’s retrospective armchair courage here.

Nobody Could Have Etc.

[ 126 ] October 8, 2015 |

In breaking news, drug testing welfare recipients is about attacking their privacy and dignity, not about saving money:

Tennessee’s first year of drug testing welfare recipients uncovered drug use by less than 0.2 percent of all applicants for the state’s public assistance system.

The state implemented the testing regime in the summer of 2014, adding three questions about narcotics use to the application form for aid. Anyone who answers “yes” to any of the three drug questions must take a urine test or have their application thrown away immediately. Anyone who fails a urine test must complete drug treatment and pass a second test, or have their benefits cut off for six months.

In total, just 1.6 percent of the 28,559 people who applied for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits in the first year of testing answered one of the three screening questions positively. Out of the 468 people who peed in a state-funded cup, 11.7 percent flunked the test.

With 55 people testing positive for drugs out of an applicant pool of nearly 30,000, Tennessee’s testing system uncovered that a whopping 0.19 percent of those who applied for aid were drug users. Ultimately, 32 applicants were denied benefits for failing to complete the state’s mandatory drug rehab process for those who test positive.

Tennessee officials say the year of testing cost $11,000, or $200 per failed drug test. But that only accounts for what the state paid to the outside vendor who conducted the actual tests, excluding staff hours that went into processing the new application materials and managing the logistics of testing those who gave an affirmative answer to a screening question.

Seven states that drug test welfare recipients have now spent about $1 million on the tests, according to previous ThinkProgress research. Each state has found drug usage rates among welfare applicants to be far below the national average of 9.4 percent for all Americans.

Biden and Reproductive Freedom

[ 96 ] October 7, 2015 |
20 Sep 1991, Washington, DC, USA --- Senator Joseph Biden holds up the book Order and Law by Charles Fried during the Clarence Thomas hearings. --- Image by © Wally McNamee/CORBIS

20 Sep 1991, Washington, DC, USA — Senator Joseph Biden holds up the book Order and Law by Charles Fried during the Clarence Thomas hearings. — Image by © Wally McNamee/CORBIS

I have argued that dreams of a Biden run for the presidency only have a couple of minor problems, such as that he’s plainly a much worse candidate than Clinton and there isn’t a dime’s worth of difference between them on policy. On the latter point, I was being unfair to Clinton:

It’s no secret that Biden is personally a pro-life Catholic. He takes what he believes is a “middle-of-the-road” position on abortion law, as he wrote in his 2007 campaign memoir, Promises to Keep: “I still vote against partial-birth abortion and federal funding, and I’d like to find ways to make it easier for scared young mothers to choose not to have an abortion, but I will also vote against a constitutional amendment that strips a women of her right to make her own choice.” That, at least, was an improvement from 1982, when, as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, he did vote for a constitutional amendment to overturn Roe v. Wade.

In 2012, the National Right to Life Committee compiled a report on Biden’s anti-abortion voting record that was intended to highlight what it called Obama’s “extreme pro-abortion positions.” The documentation in the dossier is solid. There is a scan, for example, of a 1994 letter that Biden sent to a Delaware constituent who was concerned that abortion funding would be included in health care reform. “I will continue to abide by the same principle that has guided me throughout my 21 years in the Senate: those of us who are opposed to abortion should not be compelled to pay for them. As you may know, I have consistently – on no fewer than 50 occasions – voted against federal funding of abortions.”

It must be said in Biden’s defense that Roe would have been overruled had Robert Bork not been defeated, a defeat Biden played a major role in. It must also be said that he seemed cowed by the remarkably successful Republican effort to argue that accurately characterizing Robert Bork’s views was the greatest breach of civility in the history of American political discourse, and his subsequent handling of the Thomas hearings was a disaster for women on every possible level.

Would Biden being worse on reproductive freedom than Clinton as an occupant? Possibly not, although I’m not sure if I would trust him to veto clever anti-abortion legislation that got passed by a Republican Congress like Bill Clinton did. Is there any reason to think he’s a better choice for the Democratic nomination than Hillary Clinton? No.

Among the Most Pathetic of the Worst

[ 175 ] October 7, 2015 |


Lindsey Graham, who has managed the impressive feat of being a nonentity even by the standards of 2016 Republican presidential candidates, is an asshole:

Lindsey Graham is asking for federal aid for his home state of South Carolina as it battles raging floods, but he voted to oppose similar help for New Jersey in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in 2013.


Graham was among the Republican senators who opposed a federal aid package in January 2013 to assist states hit by Hurricane Sandy, but now he doesn’t remember why.

“I’m all for helping the people in New Jersey. I don’t really remember me voting that way,” Graham said.

But lots of primary voters hate me, so I must be a moderate!

Anyway, fellow also-sorta-ran Bobby Jindal is not about to be out-assholed by anyone:

In a lengthy blog post published on his presidential campaign website Tuesday, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) claimed the father of Oregon gunman Chris Harper Mercer was a “complete failure” and demanded that he apologize for the shooting.

In the blog post — titled “We fill Our Culture With Garbage, And We Reap The Result” — Jindal blamed the prevalence of mass shootings in America on “deep and serious cultural decay in our society,” jumping from a condemnation of violence in media and a reference to abortion to a discussion of the reported absence of the father of the Harper Mercer in the young man’s life.

“This killer’s father is now lecturing us on the need for gun control and he says he has no idea how or where his son got the guns,” Jindal wrote. “Of course he doesn’t know. You know why he doesn’t know? Because he is not, and has never been in his son’s life. He’s a complete failure as a father, he should be embarrassed to even show his face in public. He’s the problem here.”

It’s amazing how the United States has vastly worse parents and worse culture than any other liberal democracy, even if the parenting and culture situations are much better than they used to be. At any rate, you can be sure policy has nothing to do with it.

…Ben Carson, Retrospective Armchair Warrior (TM), makes a strong entry:

GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson implied Tuesday that the Oregon shooting victims didn’t do enough to save themselves, and that if he himself had been there, he would have been more aggressive in confronting the attacker.

“I would not just stand there and let him shoot me,” Carson said on “Fox & Friends,” as seen in the clip above. “I would say, ‘Hey, guys, everybody attack him. He may shoot me, but he can’t get us all.'”

It’s amazing how easy it is to be courageous thousands of miles away from and several days after the shootings. At least he didn’t politicize them!

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