Friday, October 3, 2008

R.I.P. Chicago Cubs

What a joke baseball's post-season is. You play 162 games and show that you are clearly better and then baseball sticks you in what may be only a 3-game series and it's over. Or as Billy Beane said in Moneyball, "My sh*t doesn't work in the post-season."

I don't care what happens here. The Cubs were clearly the better team this year.

The World Series winner is now little more than a statistical fraud. St. Louis barely even had a winning record a couple of years ago, but the better team tends to only win about 55% of the time in baseball, which means that a true powerhouse like Seattle had when they won 116 games in the regular season has less than a 20% chance of winning the World Series. A wildcard team with a couple of good pitchers can stumble its way into a title.

This was somewhat obscured at the beginning of the addition of the dreadful five game division series back in 1996 because the Yankees had an unlikely run, winning four times in five years. But since the 2000 season, no team has repeated and some very mediocre teams have won the Series.

I sincerely doubt that the 1976 Cincinnati Reds, which were the only NL team in the last 80 years to repeat, could do so under these modern rules. Atlanta would have won several world series under the pre-1969 and even under the pre-1996 rules, but now it is just a lottery where the regular season means little or nothing.

One commenter has brought up the scheduling changes due to intra-division play. I understand about the scheduling changes, which are another unfair change, particularly to the Mets, but understandable to let some inter-league rivalries take place. The differences in the records here seem significant enough to offset that.

If winning 12 more games in the regular season does not make you better, then why not let all the teams in the post-season?

Two games is not any kind of representative sample upon which anyone can make conclusions. If the Dodgers took two easy games in a row at Wrigley in July, people wouldn't bat an eye. I think I have seen articles that say that it would take 8-10 games to be somewhat statistically reliable, it is certainly more than three games.

The NFL and NBA play-offs are much more statistically sound and I don't think anyone denies that. Hockey is somewhat less so but still more than baseball.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Sarah Palin

I am kind of fascinated by Sarah Palin. Her entire candidacy is so surreal that it seems like something out of a movie, maybe a chick-flick called Veep Mom, or one of those comedies where the yokels show how much smarter they really are than more sophisticated folks, call it, Wasilia White House, and instead of Easter Egg Hunts, Sarah "dresses" a deer for the children and teaches them where food comes from.(No moose in D.C., unfortunately).

She has bragged about being the Joe Sixpack candidate, and don't they deserve a little representation in Washington, too?

It reminds me of the situation back in 1970, where Richard Nixon nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court, Florida judge, Harold Carswell. When Democrats questioned his capacity for being a Supreme Court Justice, Senator Roman Hruska of Nebraska attempted to make his case for him:

”Even if he were mediocre, there are a lot of mediocre judges and
people and lawyers. They are entitled to a little representation,
aren’t they, and a little chance? We can’t have all Brandeises,
Frankfurters and Cardozos.”

I guess we all believe in Affirmative Action now.

Or not, since John McCain recently compared her experience to that of Ronald Reagan, who, together with Barry Goldwater, espoused an influential and detailed political doctrine, and who governed the most populous state in the nation for 8 years, and who ran three excellent presidential campaigns, finally winning in 1980, after losing narrowly to Nixon and Ford in 1968 and 1976.

Yeah, that's the same as being governor for two years and mayor of some podunk town in Alaska.

The GOP stalwarts go apoplectic if anyone disses Sarah, so I am writing this at my own risk.

Still, it is hard for me to be too mad at the GOP because this month has been the greatest reality show I have ever seen: the Sarah Palin show. These are the same Republicans that have opposed affirmative action for 30 years because it advances people beyond what they are capable of; these are the people who sneered at welfare queens having babies in high school, but in Alaska you get an extra $1,500 per year for every baby you can pump out, so why shouldn't Bristol get on board?

Let me make clear that I am not disrespecting Sarah just because she sounds exactly like Frances McDormand, who played the female cop in the movie, Fargo, although she does. ;

I definitely am not a "hater."

Nor am I am one of those people who point to every factual gaffe that people make.

Furthermore, I understand that when people speak, they don't necessarily use 100% proper grammar, but Palin seems to be especially challenged with respect to verb-subject agreement and antecedents, which seem strung to and fro, interrupted by healthy doses of talking points, which usually seem to have nothing to do with the original question.

If you are a liberal, you really have to scratch your head sometimes to even figure out what the heck she means, and often, you simply cannot. Those talking points are not intended for you. That is conservative secret code. She's non-linear, so don't go trying to put her in the constraints of ordinary grammar and syntax. Let Sarah be Sarah!

You definitely cannot accuse her of not trying to improve herself. My goodness, when asked by Katie Couric what periodicals she reads, Palin remarked, "all of them."

That's a lot of reading.

Slate magazine online, has done a number of superb humor pieces on her. There was one about diagramming her sentences, which was funny, but the Slate article on the poetry of Sarah Palin may have been about the funniest thing that I have seen since the movie Borat.

Sarah tells it like it is, no pulling punches for her:

"On Good and Evil"

It is obvious to me
Who the good guys are in this one
And who the bad guys are.
The bad guys are the ones
Who say Israel is a stinking corpse,
And should be wiped off
The face of the earth.

That's not a good guy.

(To K. Couric, CBS News, Sept. 25, 200

Here is another of my favorites:

"On the Bailout"

What the bailout does
Is help those who are concerned
About the health care reform
That is needed
To help shore up our economy,
Helping the—
It's got to be all about job creation, too.

Shoring up our economy
And putting it back on the right track.
So health care reform
And reducing taxes
And reining in spending
Has got to accompany tax reductions
And tax relief for Americans.
And trade.

We've got to see trade
As opportunity
Not as a competitive, scary thing.
But one in five jobs
Being created in the trade sector today,
We've got to look at that
As more opportunity.
All those things.

If you submitted a sitcom based on the reality of this candidacy, it would be rejected as unbelievable. Truth is stranger than fiction, indeed! And funnier, too. I can't wait to see Gramps McCain holding Bristol's baby in the White House--that alone would be worth having the Republicans win the election.

Sarah is actually funnier than Borat and that movie was hilarious. A great sequel would have Borat go to Alaska and learn about Alaska from her. She truly is about the funniest thing I have ever seen.

I love the way she can turn any question into a nonsensical talking point, or as one wag noted, "babble points." Bail-out? Well, its all about health care reform and lower taxes and trade.... And always remember, Iran is not a good guy.

So you can see, I love Sarah Palin! I am on pins and needles to see what she might cook up for us in tonight's debate. Talk about "Can't Miss T.V."!

I'm not voting for her, of course, but if she ever actually gets a reality show, I will be watching! As she might herself say, Right on!