October 21, 2014

Time to vote; don't be a putz

And, with that said, I don't think I've ever before seen a seven-day daily paper use the word "putz" in an editorial.

But, in a piece with that "go vote" admonition, over the weekend, the Waco Trib did just that:

Finally, only a putz votes straight-ticket. We haven’t seen a slate of party candidates yet, Republican or Democrat, that didn’t have some turkeys on it. And if you think voting straight-ticket ensures that one party’s nominees meet certain qualities, think again. Right here in McLennan County, we’ve seen straight-ticket voting put some absolutely incompetent people into offices of responsibility. When that happens, you’re to blame because you voted for them out of party loyalty, not merit or civic regard.
Good as far as it went. Unfortunately, it didn't go so far as to mention Green or Libertarian alternatives as another reason to vote outside a straight ticket. Nor did it mention the option of race-by-race selective nonvoting.

But, it is good as far as it went, and it builds on that with specific examples:
For those of us gray in temple, campaigns have changed significantly the past four decades. Many Republican nominees, confident of election solely by virtue of their having an “R” behind their names, whatever their qualifications, character or viewpoints, have increasingly ducked candidate debates and interviews with newspaper editorial boards, once considered all-American traditions. When they come to town now, they often speak to small groups of party loyalists, generally telling them what they want to hear.
 In this camp, we put Republicans such as state Sen. Dan Patrick, who is running for lieutenant governor and has been blasted by some Republicans for misleading rhetoric on the campaign trail, and state Sen. Ken Paxton, who admitted violating state securities laws, a third-degree felony, and is ironically seen by some as a shoo-in for state attorney general. Amazing.
Exactly, but too many "R-only" voters in greater Waco will probably ignore this.

October 20, 2014

2014 Texas endorsements

This is a mix of real and snarky for some of Texas' top races, and just in time for the start of early voting. So, buckle up!

1. Governor: Democrat Wendy Davis vs Republican Greg Abbott vs Libertarian Bat out of Hell Kathie Glass vs. the walking dead man formerly named Brandon Parmer on the Green ticket. Well, in some places, you can vote the dead, but nowhere can you vote for the dead, so Parmer is out. (Hell, maybe the Green Party should have continued with the idea of asking Parmer to not campaign, albeit for other reasons, since he didn't anyway.)

Liberarians are out in general unless they're somehow less nutbar than Republicans. (Whatever Libertarian runs against Ted Cruz in 2018 might just qualify.)

So, Davis vs. Abbott. Or ... another option yet.

Anyway, would Davis be better than Abbott? Yes, the left half of my tuchis would be better. That said, more seriously, she's run a campaign that's been a mix of disorganization, buttoned down by handlers and pandering rightward.

That "another option" is the one of not voting in this race. And, one that I may choose to exercise. It's likely not, but, I may.

Or, there's yet another option. Both the governor's race and the U.S. Senate showdown have write-in lines.

Here's an earlier overview I had of just this race.

2. Lite Guv: The GOP's Stinking Anglo Formerly Known as Danny Goeb vs. Democrat Leticia Van de Putte vs. Green Chandrakantha Courtney. (Libertarians, per the above comments, get no mention from here on out.)

Courtney is the choice. This is the highest-profile actual Green race. Besides, LVDP is running for the wrong office; what would have happened had she been the filibuster leader a year ago? (I know, she had a family death and other things; nonetheless, I get the idea she would have run a better campaign than Davis.)

3. Attorney General: The Dems' Sam Houston vs. the GOP's Ken (Not Yet Indicted) Paxton vs. Green Jamar Osborne. Sorry, Osborne, but calling bar exams unconstitutional because you can't pass one strikes you out. Besides, with his name, maybe Sam Houston can win.

4. Comptroller: Dem Mike Collier vs. Repub Glenn Hegar vs. Green Deb Shafto. 2010 gubernatorial candidate Shafto gets the nod. Collier would be better than Hegar, as would my left tuchis, but having worked for both Exxon and PriceWaterhouseCoopers, as well as another oil company, is surely too conservative.

5. Land Commissioner: Republican George P.(lease, Not Another!) Bush vs. Dem John Cook vs. Green Valerie Alessi. I can't find any detailed info about Alessi online, in what should be a top position for the Greens. So, former El Paso Mayor Cook is a reasonable choice.

6. Ag Commissioner:  Green Ken Kendrick vs. Republican Sid Miller vs. Junior Republican Junior Samples (thanks, Perry!), aka Democrat, or "Democrat" Jim Hogan. A clear, clear choice. Democrats? Stop pulling the party line lever and vote for Kendrick.

7. U.S. Senator: Republican John Cornyn vs. former Republican and still Daddy Warbucks of David Alameel vs. Green Emily "Spiceybrown" Sanchez.

I still can't warm to someone putting a nickname, and one that's surely not a lifelong nickname, on the ballot. Besides, that particular nickname? How would Greens, or Democrats, particularly those of color, like to see a GOP candidate with the nickname "Brightywhitey" on the ballot?

On the other hand, her Facebook page says it comes from a poetry slam nickname. And, I've done a few slams myself. So, I'll say vote for her.

8. Texas Railroad Commission: Republican Ryan Sitton vs. Democrat Steve Brown vs. Green Martina Salinas. Unfortunately, on what should be another high-profile race for Greens, based on their environmental background, the party has a weak candidate. Salinas specifically seems weaker than Brown, who seems on the liberal side of Texas Dems in general, on fracking-related issues. Vote Brown.

9. Judicial endorsements: Charles Waterbury, Supreme Court Place 7; Jim Chisholm, Supreme Court Place 8; Judith Sanders-Castro, Court of Criminal Appeals Place 4; George Joseph Altgelt, CCA Place 9.

These are all Greens running for spots where no Democrat is on the ballot. Make sure to vote these spots to keep Greens having a partywide ballot line in 2016.

Besides, per a post 10 days ago by friend Perry, Democrats need a kick in the nads at times anyway.

===

Finally, besides candidates, there is one constitutional amendment on the ballot.

I urge a "no" vote on Proposition 1. It's not that I fear the Rainy Day Fund being bled dry for transportation needs.

Rather, I see this as further encouraging Republican bad behavior on refusing to be willing to pay adequately for an adequate level of services in Texas.

Dear Texas GOP: You want better roads? Fine — dedicate 100 percent of the state gas tax to roads and other needs. If that's not enough, then, do what the feds also should be doing. With more fuel-efficient vehicles, raise the gas tax.

If not dumping any of the gas tax in the general fund means other things are getting shortchanged? Well, then it's time for you to start being honest with the Texas general public, isn't it?

October 19, 2014

Shock me: The Snooze endorses #GregAbbott

I remember a full decade ago, when Keven (sic) Ann Willey was named editorial page editor of the Dallas Morning News.

The Belo empire's Neanderthals promised it meant a new day was coming on the editorial pages.

Well, wrong. (Well, maybe 1/4 right; they may be at early Cro-Magnon there now.) 

Realistically, nothing's changing there until a strategically placed neutron bomb takes out a majority of the op-ed staff there. Yada, yada, yada from multiple past and present Snooze op-ed writers who claim, "No, really, we are kind of sort of liberal now."

No, you're not.

Your endorsement of Greg Abbott (when even the Houston Chronicle endorsed Wendy Davis) is proof positive of that.

As I said on Twitter, this is arguably, and maybe unarguably, the most illogical endorsement-related editorial I've seen from the Snooze since Willey got there. And, it's also arguably one of the most illogical editorials of any sort from Belodom in the last decade. 

First, this howler:
Abbott tips the balance as the candidate most capable of sustaining the state’s economic success and holding in check growing extremism in the state GOP.

Erm, Davis is a Democrat. She'd be able to hold that extremism in check even more, or so it would seem to anybody without partisan eyeballs. You see, Snooze staff, there's this thing called a "veto."

Look it up sometime.

Logic 101, point 1. Snooze, still zero.

Second, to claim Abbott's not part of that extremism is laughable. Now, he's not an ultra-extremist (as the GOP forces us to invent new labels), unlike Ted Cruz, Dan Patrick, and others. But he IS an extremist. And has been.

Empiricism 101, point 1. Snooze, still zero.

Back to logic. The Snooze says Abbott would be the "anti-gridlock" candidate:
Texas cannot afford to provoke the kind of partisan stalemate her victory would probably bring, much like the gridlock that has paralyzed Washington.
Well, by that "logic," everybody in Texas should just keep voting the GOP party line, every election from here on out.

That's so stupid it's a double-pointer.

Logic 101 3, Snooze still zero.

It's also going to cost you an empiricism point.

As friend Perry, in the post previous to from where I got this, notes:
Yes, Davis did vote in GOP primaries once upon a time, is partnered in a law practice with a former Rick Perry staffer, has supported legislation for helping frackers with their water problems, did run and win a couple of times in a conservative-leaning Fort Worth Senate district. (It includes Burleson, for Jeebus' sake.)
Add to that my calling her out last December for pandering rightward, and the idea that she would produce gridlock? No, those GOP extremists would, but not her. This is also a double-pointer.

Empiricism 101 3, Snooze still zero.

What's really at stake?

Money, IMO.

Perry, in his his post that had the Snooze endorsement link, says:
Wendy Davis lost the Dallas News endorsement but earned the Houston Chronicle's.  These simply don't mean as much as they used to, but let's be quick to point out that we still need newspapers badly in this underinformed and misled media environment.  Oh, and you can't paper-train a puppy with a blog.
Well, with an editorial like this, the MSM isn't exactly doing any informing, itself.

But, back to the money.

Columbia Journalism Review had a piece earlier this week on how more and more newspapers are backing away from endorsement editorials.

Beyond their ineffectiveness, which other journalism trade mags have discussed for a decade or so, I suggest following the money.

Part of my comment there.
What this really is?

As both circ and ads continue to decline, newspapers are afraid of losing leaders.

At least they could be more honest about that.
Readers mean money, as papers lean more and more on circulation and less on advertising. And, as Jim Schuetze at the Dallas Observer will tell us, remnants of the old Dallas citizens' councils still exist.

Kuffner has some broadly similar thoughts, starting with the theorizing that the Snooze's editorial board realized it had already endorsed enough, if not too many, Democrats in statewide races.

He's pungent beyond his normal fair degree of mild-manneredness:
Intellectually, it’s on par with endorsing Ted Cruz in 2012 on the hope that he might forsake everything he said on the campaign trail and turn into Kay Bailey Hutchison 2.0 once sworn in. They know it’s a pile of crap, everyone reading it knows it’s a pile of crap, and yet there they go printing it anyway. How proud they must be of that endorsement.
Bingo.

Let's call this one more point for empiricism.

So, empiricism 4, Snooze 0. Logic 3, Snooze 0.

The Snooze loses by a touchdown.

I was ready to give them one-quarter credit for not being so reactionary as to endorse Dan Patrick for Lite Guv. But, per Kuff, I retract even that.

It is a pile of crap. And, that pile of crap isn't going to change.

Because, beyond that pile of crap is Belo bullshit. And, until the company folds up its tents by getting out of the business and selling its final newspaper, it ain't gonna change.

I know it's not gonna change because, pre-2010, I had occasional email exchanges with more than one Snooze op-ed columnist claiming either that they were personally liberal, or that the paper's op-ed stance on house editorials was becoming more liberal, or both.

Again, there's a phrase for that: Belo bullshit.
What this really is?
As both circ and ads continue to decline, newspapers are afraid of losing readers.
At the least, they could be more honest about that.
- See more at: http://www.cjr.org/united_states_project/why_some_newspapers_are_abandoning_endorsements.php#sthash.59teK1fB.dpuf

October 18, 2014

#Cardinals 2014 postmortem — Mike Matheny leads the dead

Now, with the St. Louis Cardinals losing the NLCS to the San Francisco Giants, and for the second time in three years, we can do an overview of the year.

First, with the injuries to Yadier Molina and Michael Wacha (more on that later), it's arguable that the Cardinals shouldn't have gotten as far as they did. Maybe not even into the playoffs.

Ditto with the "return to earth" of Matt Carpenter in particular, and the team's batters in general, on batting average on balls in play.

On the other hand, as Bruce Bochy outmanaging Mike Matheny shows, it's also arguable that the Cards shouldn't necessarily have been worried so much about those two injuries. Matheny's "my guys" approach lead to way too much playing time for Allen Craig before GM John Mozeliak fixed that issue by trading him for John Lackey. It lad to way not enough time for Kolten Wong until after midseason, when Matheny finally stopped playing Mark Ellis so much. And it may have led to not enough time for Oscar Taveras in the playoffs.

That mismanagement was on display in the last two innings of Game 4 of the NLCS.

First, I would have stayed with Adam Wainwright on the mound in the bottom of the eighth, rather than bringing in Pat Neshek to start the inning. Waino had settled down for several straight innings. If Neshak was needed mid-inning, bring him in then; the double switch for the ninth, on batting, was still in play, so you could have brought in Peter Bourjos for Matt Holliday at the same time.

Next, the top of the ninth?

I can see having Daniel Descalso pinch-run for Matt Adams. It almost worked. The Cards avoided a force at third, or a double play overall, on Wong's at bat. But, pinch-hitting Taveras for Bourjos? No. If it fails, you've depleted too much of your bench at once for what is now, in essence, an extra-inning situation. Save Taveras for a key pinch-hit at bat for a pitcher.

Now, the bottom of the ninth.

Wacha should not have been in there in general, "mystifying" Jayson Stark, hordes of Cards fans, and local scribes, many of us using words much worse than "mystifying."

Here’s Stark:
Matheny, unlike the Giants' Bruce Bochy, seemed to manage as if it were the second game of a three-game series in mid-May. He offered several explanations for his decision to use -- and keep using -- Wacha in the ninth: He wanted to avoid lefty MarcoGonzales, whose arm had showed signs of wear over the past week; he thought bringing in (Randy) Choate would cause the Giants to pinch hit for Ishikawa; he was preparing for the possibility of a lengthy extra-inning game and had kept Wacha in reserve for just that. …
 Everyone watching was trying to think along with Matheny. He was clearly playing by the proscribed rules — don't use your closer on the road in a tie game, for one — but those are conventional, regular-season rules.
 
"You've got to think about how long you're going to have to go if you're tied," Choate said. "Obviously, I want to be in the game, but if they pinch hit for Ishikawa ... it was do or die, obviously." 
His voice trailed off as he worked the last two buttons of his shirt. "I don't know," he said, almost to himself. "I don't know."
And of course, even if he started the inning, Wacha definitely should not have been allowed to stay in to give up a three-jack to Travis Ishikawa after getting in trouble earlier in the inning. Trevor Rosenthal, if not starting the inning, should have been in to bail out Wacha at that point, at least.

Now, because of his Cards' past, etc., there will be no groundswell to fire Matheny, unlike at the Los Angeles Dollars, where the naming of Andrew Friedman as new man in charge has many Dollars fans salivating at the possible dismissal of Don Mattingly.

But, it should generate more discussion.

Matheny not only seemingly has not grown this year, I think he's regressed.

And, John Mozeliak, if he's not going to change managers, then has the onus on himself of how to get Matheny to be a better manager.

Mo also has a few player decisions for next year.

No. 1 is Lance Lynn. I say that Mo should look beyond just Lynn's first arbitration year. I suggest buying out all three, plus his first year of free agency, at a suggested price of 4 years, $50 million. Lynn found his late-season endurance this year and has been injury-free.

No. 2 is looking at the possibility of a relatively inexpensive upgrade at backup catcher behind Yadi. If he gets hurt again, Tony Cruz has already shown he's not the answer.

No. 3 is seeing if Lackey wants to sign an extension beyond his MLB minimum for 2015. I'd offer 2 years, $25 million. It's a reasonable payout for his age 37 and 38 years. That gives the Cards a solid top 3 through 2017 while looking at the longer term of Wacha, Shelby Miller and others.

I'll talk more about offseason roster issues in weeks and months ahead.

Some additional preliminary thoughts here at the Post-Dispatch. More here on what Mo might shell out in salary next year, hinting that he's OK with going beyond this year's $115M.

October 17, 2014

#Twitter smack talk from #baseball history

Old Hoss Radbourn, first
Twitter smackdown artist
and verschizzle master.
Royals pitcher Jeremy Guthrie getting Twitter smack, from the official Orioles account among other places, for wearing a not totally innocuous, but not highly offensive, T-shirt at the Game 3 ALCS post-game presser reminds me, that in the spirit of Old Hoss Radbourn, we need to look at some great player-to-player Twitter smackdowns of the past, at least of the postseason.

Here's two classics, one from 1932 and one from 1988, to get us started.

@CharlieRoot: That ball’s still traveling. I called it. You blew it. Don't deny it. — @TheRealBabe

Or, here’s some more verschnizzle we should have had on Twitter, from the late 80s:
@TheEckMan: Put that in your ‘stache and smoke it. — @GibbyGotGrit

Moderner times? This should have been a classic, from 2011:
@LilWash @LowerThanLowe: I will see YOU and YOU tomorrow night! — @FreeseFrame

Or, a few years earlier, from 2009:
@MrNovember: Don't gloat yet. I got five rings before you. — @MrOctober

Or even an in-game one, maybe, from 1954:
@ForBetterOrForWertz: Ball, meet glove. Indians, meet the end. — @SayHeyKid

October 16, 2014

Say Hey, that Willie Mays still hasn't grown up

Willie Mays says 'Hey'
when he finally gets up
Sports writer and columnist Gerald Eskanazi went on to become a sports and general life biography/autobio ghostwriter.

And, shock me!


Athletes aren't all they're fluffed up to be, even long after retirement.


Eskanazi ghosted Carl Yastremski's bio, and also ghosted the original ghostwriter on Willie Mays' bio. 


Shades of one of Tricky Dick Nixon's most famous utterances, he's a "ghostwriter's ghostwriter"!


He gives some dish here at CJR.


First, about Willie:

After mailing the final chapter to his agent, I left for San Diego and the Super Bowl. That’s where I got a call at my hotel from Willie’s agent, suggesting the “mensch” chapter—“to show how he’s grown as a person, how he’s learned to accept a different kind of responsibility now that he’s no longer an athlete.” 
That sounded like a fine idea. For the first time, I was given Willie’s phone number. ... I called Willie, and he was enthusiastic about talking about his post-baseball career. ... But I had been around enough athletes to know how to stroke him and to be empathetic. So he told me how he failed to keep appointments, bemoaning the fact he had lost a $100,000-a-year job as an official greeter at a Las Vegas casino because of lateness; of how he no longer could rely on the club to give him a wake-up call to get somewhere or to make his travel plans. But he sounded to me as if he’d come to grips with those difficulties, and to my surprise he readily agreed tp pick me up around noon on Tuesday at the airport near Carmel, CA.
Well, having read two bios of Mays (neither one of them Esternazi's "deep-ghosted" one), I know the reclusive part is true.

I also find it funny as hell talking about an African-American from the Deep South becoming a "mensch."

That said, had Willie grown up?

Erm, not ’zactly:

I arrived there ready to meet the new, responsible Willie. Ten, 15, 20 minutes after landing I looked around. No Willie. 
Half an hour later, I called him. 
“Willie?” I said. 
“Who’s this? he replied. 
“Jerry. Jerry Eskenazi,” I said. 
“Who?”
I explained I was the guy who was writing his book, and where was he? He got a bit agitated. He complained he had just gotten up, he had things to do, he had this and he had that. I told him there were no cabs around. I didn’t even know where he was staying. He agreed to pick me up.
I'm also not surprised by this.

Yaz just said 'Fuck it.'
Yaz? Things start out great.
Yastrzemski, on the other hand, was eager to talk and to meet. … 
A major theme of the book was his work ethic—how he had gotten up early working the family’s onion farm on Long Island as a kid; how he tried to beef up his smallish frame. When the book came out, we did a book-signing at the flagship Barnes and Noble on Fifth Avenue, and it was the biggest event in the store’s history. We did some radio and TV shows in New York as well. The contract called for him to do eight interviews.
So far, so good. Well, don't count those chickens, Jerry!

Because they don't often hatch:
After our whirlwind tour, I drove him to the LaGuardia shuttle to catch a flight to do Larry King’s radio show in Washington, his eighth interview. After that, I hoped, would be even more of Yaz’s lucrative book signings and appearances in Boston—sure to sell a ton of books. 
“Tell me, Jerry,” said Yaz, who was pocketing more than $100,000 as an up-front advance. “How many books do we have to sell to start getting royalties?”
I told him, about 40,000.
 
“Fuck it,” was his literary reply. “We’ll never sell that many. I don’t think I’ll do any more appearances.”
Also, for readers who think non-fiction books are a huge seller, this should be a reality check. And, for editors, as well as authors or ghosts, who dream of bucking the trend? That's why Barnes and Noble has those stands and buckets of $5 remaindered books.

So, kids, and kids at heart? Don't believe the PR that's called an "as told to" or is in any other way a ghostwritten book, sports or otherwise.


And, that's part of the big issue. 

Besides that, as the book publishing industry cuts corners almost as much as newspapers, ghostwriters will get paid less and less, and in the future, they'll be doing Skype or Google Hangouts to visit with the subjects of their ghosting. 

No more freebie golf trips to Carmel!