Georges Méliès, The Haunted Castle, from 1896.
At any given time, there are undoubtedly thousands of things vying for a “Dumbest Thing on the Internet” award, so it’s probably foolish to say you think you’ve picked a winner. But, screw it, I’m gonna call it. This article–about how nanny statin’ liberals will (obviously, DUH) make ogling boobs illegal–is officially the Dumbest Thing on the Internet. It’s like a Derp Unicorn vomited derp in a bucket already full of derp then spilled the derp vomit, then got grossed out by all the derp vomit, and vomited some more derp to create a pool of derp so wide so deep it became a vortex of derp, and everything on the internet was sucked into the derp vortex, except for the Derp Unicorn, who continued to vomit up stuff for The Daily Caller.
UPDATE, SUBMITTED WITHOUT COMMENT:
UPDATE 2, ELECTRIC BOOGALOO: Holy crap, this guy is the gift that keeps giving.
In response to Erik’s post, I think I’ve mentioned this before but in fact the subject of evaluating managers is the subject of Chris Jaffe’s book, which I think is the most impressive work of sabermetrics in at least a decade. Combining cutting-edge empirical evidence and careful subjective profiles, it does an exceptionally good job of sorting through the thorny issue. The most important job a manager has — getting the most out of the talent available — is also the hardest to measure objectively. Ingeniously, Jaffe uses the historical projections developed by Phil Birnbaum to compare the performance expected of a roster and the performance the roster actually achieved. (He further breaks down the data to measure a manager’s impact on pitching and defense, etc. He combines this measure with sabermetric analysis of a manager’s tactical choices.
Anyway, all three of the managers inducted today rank as among the greatest ever. As of 2008, LaRussa ranked second all-time behind Joe McCarthy with an impact of +1, 012 runs. Cox ranked 11th all time at +655, and Torre ranked 21st at +475. (And that standing for Cox especially is probably too low. He ranks below Billy Martin, but that’s because Martin would get fired before the deleterious long-term impact of his short-term focus would fully manifest. That cumulative positive impact is a lot more impressive for managers who stay with jobs long-term, because the typical pattern of a manager is to overachieve in the first year and underachieve after that. Overachievement with the same organization year after year is a very rare, and is what defines a Hall of Fame manager to me.)
In at least two of these cases, I also don’t agree with Erik that the success of the manager was just a function of payroll. LaRussa never managed a high-payroll, big-market team. Cox did for part of his tenure in Atlanta, but that’s not his full career. In Toronto, Cox turned a .349 team into a .549 team in two years working largely with retreads considered to have little value when Toronto acquired them. His first pennant-winning team in Atlanta — which had lost 97 games the year before — was also a team that had neither a lot of ex ante impressive young talent or premium free agents. (Nobody would have looked at Tom Glavine in March 1991 and seen a future Hall of Famer.) Torre — and I agree with Jaffe’s methods that his overall record is the least impressive in context of the three — did have a high payroll and a lot of premium talent to work with, plus he had failed at his previous job in St. Louis. (His performance with Atlanta looks pretty good in retrospect; with the Donald Grant Mets, he had a hopeless situation, and I wouldn’t really count it for or against him.) That’s not to say Torre deserves no credit for the performance of the Yankees — high-level talent or not, winning in the high nineties every year isn’t easy, and plenty of teams have won nothing with impressive bases of front-line talent — but I think he was more limited that the other two. In a job that involved managing veterans and dealing with the media, he was nearly perfect. But I would love to have LaRussa or Cox managing a young team too, while making judgements about and integrating young talent was never Torre’s strength.
Of course, if Torre was not as great a manager as Cox and LaRussa, he’s also pretty well-qualified for the Hall of Fame as a player, so he’s just as big a no-brainer overall.
One final point about Cox. The only possible knock on him is his relative lack of post-season success. I’m open to a showing that this was in part the result of poor tactics. As I think I’ve said before, though, I think a lot of this perception is based on an argument that’s clearly wrong. Bill James, in his lengthy account of the Royal’s World Championship in 1985, argued that Dick Howser outmaneuvered Cox in Game 7 by compelling the later to make platoon substitutions in the early innings. He repeated this criticism in his own excellent book on managers, and I think he has elsewhere. The thing is, though, that the criticism is transparently incorrect — James is viewing this through the lens of a Royals fan still smarting over Quisenberry blowing game 2 by giving up hits to left-handed line-drive hitters who were a terrible matchup for him. So while I understand why James was happy to see Mulliniks and Oliver pulled from Game 7 early, two points seem pertinent:
- The Blue Jays lost 6-2. They didn’t lose the game because of the marginal impact of some managerial moves.
- Cox’s decision to put in his right-handed platoon players after Saberhagen got pulled was pretty obviously right. Liebrandt, after all, pitched 5 1/3 innings. Particularly when you consider that Johnson was a better hitter than Oliver and Mulliniks had a lifetime .642 OPS against lefties, leaving his left-handed platoon in just in case they could face Quisenberry in a game situation would have been insane.
Again, if anyone has done a careful analysis of later years showing that Cox screwed up a lot of big games I’m happy to see it. But his reputation for a poor post-season tactician seems to rest on large measure on a game where his decisions were quite clearly correct.
One final note: Tom Kelly’s impact was modestly positive, at +75. He was very good at constructing defenses, but wasn’t great working with hitters (as Jaffe says, his teams had the worst Beane count of any long-term manager.) It’s true that he won two World Championships, but one of those was with a team that had a solid core of young offensive talent and won 85 games. (I’ll guarantee that Cox’s postseason record would look a lot better if he managed his whole career only one series away from the World Series.) Kelly was a decent manager, better at his best than that total impact would indicate, but he wasn’t in the same league as Cox or LaRussa.
We’re a few weeks into the call for nominations for the 2014 Online Achievement in International Studies Awards. It’s time to get serious. We’ve had a number of impressive nominations, but given the excellent content out there, we’re looking for a much larger pool of nominees. We want to hear your suggestions. Post your nominations in the comments section below — you may also email us a nomination directly. Please specify the award in the body of the text, provide the name of the blog, and a URL. Nominations close on 1 January 2014.
Remember, finalists will be selected by popular vote, which will run from 5 January-31 January 2014. We will conduct the vote via online survey. In order to register as a voter, email us.
Last year’s winners will judge the finalists and select the winners. We want to make this as difficult as possible for them. Winners will be announced at the ISA Blogging Awards Reception co-sponsored by our friends SAGE at ISA in Toronto next March.
Here are the categories again:
- Best Blog (Group) in International Studies;
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- Best Blog Post in International Studies; and
- Most Promising New Blog (Group or Individual) in International Studies
While I have no problem with Bobby Cox, Joe Torre, and Tony LaRussa getting elected to the Hall of Fame, evidently the standard for being a great manager is working for a high-revenue team over a very long time. What I’d like to see is some attempt to measure managers through a win/dollar statistic adjusted for baseball inflation over time. Maybe this exists in some form, I don’t know. Because it seems to me that being moderately successful for a long period of time with low budgets is equally as valuable as working for owners constantly willing to fork over $100 million plus budgets. This doesn’t even take into account the marginal effect managers seem to actually have on teams, not to mention the blaming of and cycling through of managers when you have incredibly incompetent GMs and ownership.
One person who comes to mind here is Tom Kelly, who won 2 titles with the Twins despite being hamstrung by significantly lower budgets and greater limitations than most teams. Yes, his career record is under .500. Bobby Cox would have a similar record with those teams.
….A related point. Roy Halladay is retiring today. David Cameron makes the case for him in the Hall. I completely agree.
…..Also, in case it isn’t clear, I actually would vote for any of the three managers for the Hall of Fame. I think they are all clear calls. But I also think Tom Kelly is basically just as deserving for what he did with no resources. And as someone mentioned in comments, Joe Maddon may have a very interesting case in 20 years.
This is a beautifully-written observation about a recent column from National Review contributor, Quin Hillyer. It’s a great read, and I’d like to expound on some of what the author, Jonathan Chait, says.
In the article, he points to this offending quote from Hillyer:
“Every time decent people think the scandals and embarrassments circling Barack Obama will sink this presidency, we look up and see Obama still there — chin jutting out, countenance haughty, voice dripping with disdain for conservatives — utterly unembarrassed, utterly undeterred from any assertion of power he thinks he can get away with, tradition and propriety and the Constitution be damned. The man has no shame, no self-doubt, not a shred of humility, no sense that anybody else has legitimate reason to question him or hold any other point of view.”
This excerpt really struck a chord for me because I actually so strongly relate to it. I remember feeling this way throughout George W. Bush’s presidency. I remember clenching my jaw through eight years of his dumbuckery. I felt this way after he lied us into war, bumbled Katrina. I remember thinking “Finally! The people will get it. They’ll see what a dumb, horrible man this is.”
I see Sarah Palin, the Fox News crew and various teabagging Repubicans being mocked relentlessly the “The Daily Show, “ “Colbert,” “SNL” and the late night shows. I keep thinking that at some point some of these psychotic asshole morons will feel a modicum of shame or remorse. That they’ll finally learn some humility. That they’ll understand the error of their ways. But they never do. So I suppose I share Quin Hillyer’s frustration, in a way.
Moving on, Chait says this:
“Before plunging further into a poisonously defensive racial debate, I should note that I feel certain Hillyer opposes slavery and legal segregation, and highly confident he abhors racial discrimination, and believes in his heart full economic and social equality for African-Americans would be a blessing.”
I disagree with Chait here because I’m not at all sure that Hillyer believes these things. It’s hard to believe that full equality for Blacks would be a blessing if you feel like that wish has already been fulfilled. And it’s quite clear that Hillyer and his ilk think that racism is some silly annoyance that only exists in our foggy memories, like, say super-huge boxy cell phones. Furthermore, to the Hillyers of the world, racism doesn’t exist in any form outside of concrete acts of terrorism. So, if you’re a bigot, but you’re not lynching someone as I write this, that means liberals are the real racists.
This may seem like faulty math to you, but it’s the only math conservatives know. And any discussion of the more ephemeral but institutional racism that persists today means that liberals are “obsessed” with race.
Don’t get me wrong: it’s really swell that some of the mouthbreathers wearing racist t-shirts and brandishing racist signs are (sometimes) asked to leave teabagging events. And it’s marvipoo that NRO has fired…two?…unabashedly racist writers (at last count). But at what point will it not make me the real racist to ask: Why do so many racists feel so at home in the Republican party (and conservative movement)?
May I ask that question now? Or will I be accused of being “obsessed with race?” It’s a conversation-stopper. Or at least it’s intended to be–the “you’re the real racist, nanny nanny boo” charge. But I’m happy to be charged with it. Honestly, I don’t mind being accused of being obsessed with race. I’m ok with being obsessed with race. I’m not ok with being racist.
We start with some bone-standard Republican cruelty:
Democratic attempts to extend unemployment benefits for 1.3 million workers were a “disservice” to the unemployed, Sen. Rand Paul said Sunday.
“I support unemployment benefits for the 28 weeks they’re paid for,” the Kentucky Republican said on “Fox News Sunday.” “If you extend it beyond that, you do a disservice to these workers.”
He ain’t named Rand for nothin’! (Although, in fairness, at least the original had the honesty not even to pretend to care about what was good for the moochers.) But this is special:
Paul said a study had shown employers were less likely to hire the long-term unemployed like those who have been on 99 weeks of benefits.
It’s enormously difficult for the long-term unemployed to find work. Therefore, unemployment benefits should be confined to the short-term. These things Rand Paul believes.
Also special will be Matt Stoller’s argument in 2016 about how Rand Paul is the less dangerous evil, or whatever the nihilist non-sequitur of choice will be then.
On December 8, 1886, the American Federation of Labor formed at a meeting of union officials in Columbus, Ohio. The most successful labor federation in American history, the AFL has long had its critics on both the left and right, but ultimately its founding president Samuel Gompers understood the realities of Gilded Age politics and how to negotiate the best possible deal for workers in that atmosphere.
It is a bit hard to talk about the American Federation of Labor in 2013. Samuel Gompers has a pretty bad reputation among progressives. Some of it is deserved. For instance, Gompers openly lied to Congress about Industrial Workers of the World sabotage and supposed connections with Kaiser-led Germany during World War I because he wanted the government to crush the rivals to the AFL. Gompers created an organization that would not organize Asians, blacks, women, children, or the people of the new industrial factories, i.e., the burgeoning American workforce. Gompers’ AFL considered itself a movement of the elite skilled workers, making a mass movement of American labor impossible. His craft unionism meant that when factories were organized, it was into 10 or 12 different unions in the same workplace, each with its own agenda, as opposed to the later industrial unionism that would finally challenge the AFL fifty years later. Gompers supported anti-immigration legislation, from extending the Chinese Exclusion Act to ending Japanese immigration to the Immigration Act of 1924.
Hard guy to love.
But we can set all this aside for a minute and at least focus a touch on what the AFL did right?
First, we need to understand the milieu the AFL grew out of. 1886 was notable for 2 major events in American labor history. The first was the collapse of the Knights of Labor after the Haymarket Riot. The Knights had very quickly transformed from a fraternal organization into a massive social movement due to the 8-hour day appeal. But the Knights not only had no ability to manage its suddenly huge constituency, but it had few concrete ways to achieve these gains. The 1880s was a period where Americans were struggling to even comprehend the rapid growth of industrial capitalism and many sought highly simplistic one size fits all solutions like the Single Tax, Chinese Exclusion, or the 8-hour day. The AFL understood the complexities of modern capitalism much better and took a different strategy of working toward concrete, if limited, improvements in the conditions of working people. And they achieved a great many victories through the union contract, especially considering the open hostility of employers and the government through much of its early history. The AFL actually was a splinter movement from the Knights. When the latter organization attempted to find a way to make itself financially stable through encouraging local unions to withdraw from their internationals and become direct affiliates of the Knights. Although some locals agreed, the internationals revolted and thus the AFL began.
Second, Samuel Gompers was not a dictator. Just like the AFL-CIO today, he oversaw an organization made up of constituent unions that often disagreed with one another. That he supported a craft union model made this worse, yes, because it encouraged division rather than unity. But he couldn’t dictate this one way or another. This is also true of the racial and immigration problems of the AFL. Was Gompers at fault? Or was it the white supremacy of the American working class. Let’s not forget that the Chinese Exclusion Act was the first legislative victory of the American labor movement and that it came in 1882, four years before the AFL formed. It wasn’t a top-down movement that led to the massacre of the Chinese at Rock Springs, Wyoming in 1885. Blame Gompers for his share of the problem, he deserves it. But also blame the endemic and violent racism of the United States in 1886. Or 1936. Or 1966. At each time, labor was deeply divided by race.
We might also want to reconsider the AFL’s “pure and simple unionism” in our time of organized labor struggles. He and his supporters (especially P.J. McGuire of the powerful United Brotherhood of Carpenters) said labor should only care about itself and improvements in pay, hours, and working conditions, rejecting larger political agendas to transform society. If a politician was labor’s friend, labor would support him no matter the rest of his positions. If a politician was labor’s enemy, he was the enemy. Gompers eschewed federal intervention in the workplace because he did not believe the government could be counted on to protect workers. Only the union contract would. He even opposed parts of the welfare state we value today, including workers compensation, because that system as developed in the 1910s took power away from workers to sue their employers for much money in court than they would get from the government. Gompers would likely look at today’s labor movement, embedded within the Democratic Party but getting very little out of that investment, and confirm everything he believed. Not saying I agree here, but this situation is more or less what Gompers feared.
The AFL also did a tremendous amount for the American working class, or at least part of it. Its unions won major gains throughout the Gompers years (he died in 1924). They weren’t always long-lasting; ultimately, the AFL needed the New Deal as much as those fighting for industrial unions did; despite Gompers (and then William Green’s) theoretical non-partisanism (although this began to fade after about 1908 as the Democratic Party became more openly pro-labor), it actually did need to elect politicians in order to create semi-permanent victories. The AFL started slowly, won some good gains in the 1890s, took a big blow from employers in the 1900s, had major wins during World War I, and then got punched in the gut over and over in the bad 1920s. But while other social and labor movements came and went, the AFL maintained itself and its members with a solid, if sometimes uninspiring, philosophy of the union contract.
So I’d like to think there is still a lot to learn from the American Federation of Labor, and not just things not to do. This was the most successful labor movement in the history of the United States, it’s relationship with politicians in the early decades maintained labor’s independence and ultimately maximized its political strength, and its understanding (even if that was an acceptance) of capitalism meant maximizing its ability to squeeze real benefits from employers that made workers’ lives better and avoided quixotic and simplistic solutions to what ailed the working class. The AFL’s social, racial, and anti-radical positions means that it is probably nobody’s idea of what the modern labor movement should look like. But that doesn’t mean it didn’t create a lot of positive change that the entire working class benefits from today.
This is the 84th post in this series. Previous posts are archived here.
Leaving aside the question of whether the target is justified, what puzzles me about this kind of academic boycott is not only how it’s supposed to be justified but even how it can work in theory. Would the civil rights movement have triumphed had people stopped reading Faulkner and Welty and refused to invite them to speak at universities? Does holding them responsible for Jim Crow make any kind of moral sense? I honestly don’t get it.
Here are a couple of other phenomenal photographers whom you should know:
Kirsty Mitchell (Thanks for the link, BigHank53!!)
If anyone’s got a couple thousand pounds lying around, I’d love a Kirsty Mitchell print. Hey, Christmas is coming up, just sayin’…
UPDATE: Here are some fun shots I took with my phone today. I messed with them and think I actually created some pretty neat vignettes.
This is incredibly unlikely to generate any significant debate:
What are the five greatest fighter aircraft of all time? Like the same question asked of tanks, cars, or rock and roll guitarists, the answer invariably depends on parameters. For example, there are few sets of consistent parameters that would include both the T-34 and the King Tiger among the greatest of all tanks. I know which one I’d like to be driving in a fight, but I also appreciate that this isn’t the most appropriate way to approach the question. Similarly, while I’d love to drive a Porsche 959 to work every morning, I’d be hesitant to list it ahead of the Toyota Corolla on a “best of” compilation.
Nations buy fighter aircraft to resolve national strategic problems, and the aircraft should accordingly be evaluated on their ability to solve or ameliorate these problems. Thus, the motivating question is this: how well did this aircraft help solve the strategic problems of the nations that built or bought it?