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Those Who Forget the Lessons of History…

[ 20 ] October 15, 2010 |

While I try to figure out why TBS was showing a replay of Game 5 of the 1977 ALCS tonight, I thought this quote might be relevant:

Tony, when you get into the playoffs this year [sic], tone down the aggressive baserunning a little bit. Aggressive baserunning does not work against a good team…


The White Sox lost five runners in the four games; the Orioles lost one. Of the five runners they lost, four were in scoring position before being cut down.

And if you keep talking about your baserunning being the edge in the playoffs, Tony, that’s going to keep happening to you. It doesn’t always happen, but it happens more often than it ought. It happened to the 1976-78 Royals. The Royals were a better team than those Yankee teams, but they couldn’t beat them because they kept farting away baserunners going first to third on infield outs. And you look on back through history — the Brooklyn Dodgers against Casey’s Yankees, Ty Cobb’s Tigers against the 1907-8 Cubs — and you’ll find that teams that live by the extra base, die by the extra base.

–Bill James, 1984 Baseball Abstract

One remaining question: Yankees in 4, or Yankees in 5? I’m undecided — Lee might be able to squeak out a game, but probably not.

…I agree that bringing in Oliver to face two switch hitters who are better against lefties was the worst part of Washington’s imitation of Herzog ’77.

see also.


Deep Thought

[ 15 ] October 15, 2010 |

You know the Yankees are a great team when they can have the greatest pitcher athlete in Yankee known human history pitching long relief!

…well, my praise of the Ranger bullpen certainly was prescient.

There We Go…

[ 4 ] October 15, 2010 |

Nice way to start an ALCS.

LCS Preview

[ 7 ] October 15, 2010 |

Ah, the time of year when even George W Bush can be unequivocally right about something for 10 days or so…

YANKEES v. RANGERS. While I always think that the Twins have even less chance against the Yankees than the (fairly lopsided) paper matchup would suggest, I think the Rangers have a slightly better one. They figure to be a tougher match in several respects: they have some real power, they can hit lefties, and in the postseason I’d rather have high risk/high upside/bat missing pitchers like Wilson and Lewis than Minnesota’s endless parade of pitch-to-contact mediocrities. They aren’t likely to get deep into games against the Bombers, but the Rangers have a quietly brilliant bullpen. They’re live dogs.

That doesn’t mean I’m picking them. The Yankees offense is substantially better even before you consider that Hamilton probably isn’t anywhere near 100%. The Yankees rotation may have gone from underrated to overrated in a week — all the Minnesota series proves is that Hughes and Pettite can shut down hitters with unimpressive-to-no power who swing at everything — but that’s not a huge edge for Texas either, and as well as Feliz has pitched he ain’t Rivera. The Rangers not having their rotation set up isn’t the biggest deal in the world, but it doesn’t help. The path to Rangers victory: get up 2-1, force the Yanks to choose between throwing everyone on short rest and pitching Burnett, and get to the best pitcher in baseball at home on full rest in Game 7. Could that happen? Sure. Is it the most likely outcome? I don’t think so. I think not having a healthy Hamilton will be descisive. YANKEES IN SIX.

PHILS v. GIANTS You could make a case that the series isn’t as lopsided as it appears — comparing the OPS+ of the lineups comes out 4-3-1, and while the Phillies have a better (and exceptional) rotation, 1)it’s not radically better, and 2)the Giants have a better bullpen. The problem with that case is that you shouldn’t focus excessively on this year’s stats — Huff has had a better year but Howard is a better player. The key to the series for the Giants: whether the two lefties can expose the Phils’ relative weakness against lefty pitching. I don’t think it will be enough, but I do think this matchup is a little closer than it appears. PHILLIES IN 6.

Always in the Last Place You Look…

[ 15 ] October 15, 2010 |

This could potentially have been a sitcom-worthy awkward situation. Tom Ricks and Hugh Shelton’s memoirs:

First, he reports, a bit mysteriously, that late in the Clinton administration, the president’s authorization codes to use nuclear weapons strike were lost. He doesn’t really explain what happened or who knew about it, except that the guy who was supposed to make sure once a month that an aide to the president had the codes kept getting the runaround, and putting up with it. It turned out that an aide to the president had misplaced the codes, and had no idea where they were. The situation only came to light when it was time to collect the old codes and replace them with new ones, and the aide apparently confessed. Shelton tells the story a bit oddly — I had to read this section a few times. I am guessing that the story is about the nuclear “football” that a military aide carries. It made me wonder what happened to that aide. Also, what would have happened if the president had decided to launch a nuclear strike? (392-393)

What happens to you after you lose the nuclear launch codes? I appreciate that a President doesn’t need them often, but they seem like the sort of thing that’s really, really important to have on hand.

And I Mention This Only Because I’m Geeking Out at a Security Studies Conference for EggHeads…

[ 1 ] October 15, 2010 |

Alex Wendt would be proud.

[cross-posted at Duck of Minerva]

Friday Stories And Comments

[ 27 ] October 15, 2010 |

Bad Questions And Evasive Answers

[ 3 ] October 15, 2010 |

And yet, because the horrible question was at least about an important policy question, the moderation in this debate might have been above-average by our current standards.

In Defense of A Second Wildcard

[ 13 ] October 15, 2010 |

With the LCSes about to start and with Posnanski pointing out the problems with the wildcard in general, I thought I might as well revisit the idea of a second wildcard, which I remain in favor of.

The first argument against it is Pierce’s slippery slope argument. I don’t really buy it. First, because it has the potential problem with all slippery slope arguments: if Selig (God forbid) wanted NBA style playoffs, he can have them whether or not an extra game is added. More importantly — and this is the key to the pro-extra wildcard case — I think a playoff game for the wildcard is more consistent with the pre-wildcard format, because it gives a strong advantage to the division winner. So I think it’s traction on the slippery slope if anything.

An interesting argument, made by George in comments, is that a play in game gives an additional advantage to champions of weak divisions. A real drawback, for sure. But I don’t think it’s that big a deal, either. Obviously, if baseball was always configured the way the AL is this year — in which the Twins might have finished fifth in the AL East — this would be problem to really worry about. But then you have this year’s NL, where the Colorado and San Diego were teams of essentially similar quality to the wildcard Braves. My bottom line, I guess, is that as soon as you have more than one team per league get in and want pennant races (and I think that Posnanski is right that pennant races are more exciting than anything but the World Series), you’re going to get some mild inequities. This was one of the cases for the wild card — why should the ’93 Giants go home when they were probably the second-best team in baseball? My answer then was, and still is — because they lost. If you don’t win your division, I don’t think you have anything to complain about. Preserving the pennant races is, to me, more important than ensuring that the third-best rather than the fourth-best team makes it into the playoffs. The best team never has anything to worry about.

So I can understand why people don’t want to disadvantage teams like this year’s Yankees, no worse that the second-best team in the league. But the system also has a real downside — September games that should have been thrilling were a dreary farce, and rationally so because in winning the division the Rays “won” an appointment with a better team, with home field advantage that was so meaningful that the home team went 0-5 in the series. Nuts to that. The way I see it, if you finish second, you should feel lucky that you even have the opportunity of a play-in game, and if your division is tougher, too bad. Win it and you don’t have to worry. Given that any playoff system entails inequities, preserving the pennant race is the most important thing.

Having made the AFF’s case for it, the NEG team rested.

[ 24 ] October 14, 2010 |

To say Christine O’Donnell knows nothing about the responsibilities of a Senator to, for example, be able to name any Supreme Court decision she might deem objectionable is to state an already oft-stated obvious. Less obvious, but much more telling about her qualifications, were 1) the awkward, and often illogical, segues between her desultory answers to questions and the talking points she’d been told to deliver, and 2) the ignorance of her and her staff about the basic mechanics of governing Delaware. To treat the second item first:

On the Chris Coons Fact Check blog created expressly for this debate is a post entitled “Debate Fact Check: Chris Coons Says He Cares About Education,” the punchline of which “but his latest 304-page document about New Castle County’s priorities doesn’t mention the word ‘teacher’ even once.” A quick survey of the document reveals that to be true; however, it also fails to mention “errant behaviorists,” “cephalopod psychologists,” “Italian sweater girls” or anyone else whose employment or behavior is not overseen by the New Castle County Council.* You would think someone running to represent Delaware would know that its educational system is administered at the state and local levels, and that the county’s only responsibility concerns the management of crossing guards.*

But you would be wrong.

To address the first item, now, her ignorance of whose responsibility it is to mention the word “teacher” is especially galling when you consider that one of her debate strategies was to mention the word “local” every chance she got, e.g.

O’DONNELL: I believe that the local—I was talking about what a local school taught and that should be taught—that should be decided on the local community. Local schools should make that decision.

You can hear her coaching in that quotation: “If they mention ‘evolution,’ don’t look scare away fiscal conservatives by claiming science is a liberal plot to force us into homosexual relations with monkeys. Just repeat the word ‘local’ and the right people will feel shiny and empowered.” She employed the same tactic when addressing a situation in which locally empowered people had already done what they were empowered to do:

O’DONNELL: However, where the question has come between what is protected free speech and what is not protected free speech, the Supreme Court has always ruled that the community, the local community has the right to decide. And then the issue with the “9/11 mosque,” that’s exactly where the battle is being fought, by the community members who are impacted by that.

Even though she’s already been informed that “the local community” had already exercised its “right to decide,” she believes that “the local community” should continue exercising it until that second “e” can flex into an “o” and purge Ground Zero from all things Islam. That she transforms “local” into “communities should keep deciding until they decide in favor of my preferred answer” demonstrates that, like many a conservative before her, the word is an invitation to an imposition disguised in the rhetoric of Athenian democracy.

One particularly sad aspect of her performance is how brief she could keep a talking point in her head, and how she apparently felt the need to use it before it slipped her mind, e.g.

Read more…

On the Potential Impeachment Of Obama

[ 31 ] October 14, 2010 |

I have some wonky thoughts about the possibility that a Republican Congress would impeach Obama over at TAPPED. The answer: maybe! Given prior assumptions about presidential politics it’s very unlikely, but it’s not clear that these assumptions still hold. Certainly, the conservative media is laying the groundwork.

On one point Chait is indisputably correct: no matter how feeble the pretext for an impeachment, Jonah Goldberg would enthusiastically support it.

What Could This Agency Have Done With Dick Cheney?

[ 7 ] October 14, 2010 |

Via Plumer, I award this the Lee Atwater memorial award for outstanding achievement in the field of excellence in negative advertising:

The city deserves an NHL team again for this alone!