SocraticGadfly

November 27, 2021

Matz it is for the Cardinals, and Matz it shall be

President John Mozeliak will still make some back-end moves on the relief pitching area, and may make a low-level move on the bats side (I have a post coming up about that), but if Cardinals are expecting a splash in the starting pitching world? Don't.

Steven Matz, coming to the Cardinals, at 4/$44 is a "nice" addition to the rotation, but that's it.

Am I happy about that? Not really. Matz is being paid for one above-average year and being a lefty; a budget Robbie Ray; see above. But, I haven't paid coin to see an MLB game live or on teevee for 20 years now, so no harm to my wallet. As for what he brings to the table? Yes, it's true that he's below league average on walks. Is he SO MUCH below league average that it's a real talking point? Not really, and not when Marcus Stroman is 10 percent or so lower. But, if Matz is 4/$44, Stroman is probably 5/$90, maybe even 5/$100. Mo's not paying that.

Why do I say that? Cuz, among other things, Mets owner Steven Cohen is claiming he would have matched that price, and he's all pissy at Matz's agent.

So, there you go. 

Proof that you can never  underestimate free agent pitching prices.

So, Mo's not chasing another starter, period.

No Robbie Ray. No lefty flier on Clayton Kershaw. That's not to mention that, as Matz has shown? See "David Price" and 'overpaid lefties" in your baseball dictionary. They're still out there.

Absolutely no Max Scherzer, who will get a 3-year contract that may indeed approach $120M. No Zack Greinke flier on the righty side of the mound.

The only other pitching addition will be low-end relief help or possibly bringing Carlos Martinez back for less than he made before.

Is it enough of an upgrade? Probably not, to be honest.

Adam Wainwright struck gold last year. But, not likely to happen again at 40.

Miles Mikolas? Will it be another year of injury and struggle?

Ditto for Jack Flaherty, who partially bounced back from a semi-bad 2020.

Can Kwang Hyun Kim handle 200 innings? 

Can Dakota Hudson be fully recovered from Tommy John surgery? 

Jon Lester? Literally below replacement on WAR. Do you actually want him back, if you're not a Mo butt-kisser?

(Oh, do NOT @ me with Matthew Liberatore. He was decent-good but NOT great at Memphis last year, which was his first year at AAA. People touting him are generally, IMO, in the Mo ass-kissing division; see link below.)

But, Cards fans, that will be it.

November 26, 2021

Cooperstown: The case against David Ortiz

You'll find plenty of blogs, especially Red Sox related ones, making the case FOR David Ortiz to enter the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Here's the case against.

First, the PEDing cloud. Big Papi reportedly tested positive in 2003. He then came up with his unique version of the BS in such cases, claiming "regional bias" led to the result being leaked. He later claimed to be "always afraid of chemicals."

Second? He played his career prime in a bandbox ballpark that drove his counting stats up. (He also went there at the same time eventual PEDing repeat offender Manny Ramirez was hitting his peak.) His OPS+, ballpark-adjusted, is just 141. WAR is also ballpark adjusted. For comparison, Albert Pujols, with the much-longer career, more time actually playing the field and suffering wear and tear, etc? Still has an OPS+ of 144.

And so, behind the gaudy counting stats, Ortiz has ... 55.3 WAR.

Never had a 7-WAR season. Even setting aside his defensive liabilities and the DH positional ding? He never even had a 7-oWAR season.

Sure, pitchers didn't want to pitch to him in Fenway, because he was a dead-pull hitter in a bandbox, even beyond the PEDing.

BBWAA younger voters claim to be eyeing sabermetrics more. We'll see how true this actually is. Contemporaneous first-ballot player, and rival, Alex Rodriguez also roided up, and not allegedly, possibly, or leaked, but also posted sabermetric numbers at the same time. (That includes nine 7-WAR seasons.)

Other than A-Rod, who, setting aside the roiding, likely would have been a first-ballot Hall of Famer like "clean" versions of Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, I don't see a single HOFer among first-year candidates. Mark Teixeira is, after A-Rod, the only first-year player over 50 WAR Jimmy Rollins? Hall of the Pretty Good, no more, and after Tex, the only first-year player over 40 WAR. (Oh, and while I'm here, nobody on the "Golden Days" veterans ballot deserves in AS A PLAYER, but who knows what various committee members will pull? And yes, Dick Allen? Not a HOFer. From the early era, yeah, let's get Buck O'Neil in for his contributions. Blast from the past Bill Dahlen is deserving. Ken Boyer is borderline of borderline.)

Non-players? Danny Murtaugh is WAY OVERDUE to be in as a manager. Two World Series. Had he lived, would have been the 1979 pilot as well. Re Murtaugh? An "interesting" piece here by Cooperstown Cred, who notes Murtaugh's health history and repeated retirements because of it, but does NOT take it into account in touting him. He links to Bill James, who likewise mentioned it but does NOT take it into account.

Back to Ortiz. Another way of putting it? A close comp on WAR, WAR7 and JAWS? Tony Perez. He went in on veterans vote. Scratch that. I had thought it was a Veterans Committee vote; instead, BBWAA voted him in. And probably shouldn't have.

November 24, 2021

Coronavirus, week 85: Bits and pieces

Just a few minor things in this week's roundup while hoping you have a happy Thanksgiving in the USofA. (Hope you already had one, Canadians.)

Speaking of?

Your Local Epidemiologist explains how to best use antigen tests for Thanksgiving.

Let's then go to a Twitter thread by Dr. Scott Gottlieb on surging recent rates in Germany and elsewhere and what the US can learn. Biggie? They're even better vaccinated than us on senior citizens, but it tails off after that. Second? They've got their own set of antivaxxers. You have to remember that the modern-ish back to nature movement in the West started in pre-World War I Germany. Third? Less infection-based immunity than the US. Fourth? Lower test rates than the US and UK.

On Face the Nation, Gottlieb predicted a post-Thanksgiving spike. He also supports vax mandates and expects that sometime next year, the CDC will say it's three shots (or two if you started J&J, I presume) to be "fully vaccinated." St. Anthony of Fauci warns of a spike, too.

Per Worldometers, cases have indeed already started spiking back up, at their highest since late summer.

As a result, US deaths, at approximately 800K (and surely undercounted in COVID's early days) could hit 1 million by spring.

At the same time, even in big cities? It's time to (smartly) start moving forward, says Dave Leonhardt. Personally, I figure after we get through this winter, dining indoors at a sit-down restaurant will likely start again in spring of 2022 for me.

Texas GOP politics is officially in the ninth malebolge of hell as shown by the AG race

Yes, Dante would have fun with this one.

What else is there to say when Gohmert Pyle, after appearing to possibly chicken out, decided to enter the AG primary against Kenny Boy Paxton?

Let's not forget that Kenny Boy was ALREADY being primaried, not once, not twice, but thrice. 

One of the three already-in challengers is Land Commish Pee Bush. Pee, who basically kneecapped his own family of origin scrambling for the Trump endorsement, only to see Paxton get it, will surely have a fun Thanksgiving, especially if he visits either daddy Jeb! (would Jeb give him the back of his hand, and would it be a real hand or a fake political poster hand?) or Uncle Shrub. Pee faces further troubles with the in-state wingnut crowd for failure to sufficiently fellate the Alamo.

The second is book Nazi state Rep. Matt Krause, who may actually support Carroll ISD teaching alternatives to the Holocaust. Scratch that. He's running for Tarrant DA, along with his junior Rand Paul Squirrel Hair mop.

The third second is former Texas Supremes robe-wearer Eva Guzman.

Question the first: Is Gohmert Pyle going to try to get Trump to unendorse Paxton and back him instead?

Question the first, part two: If he asks, could it happen?

Question the second: Will Pee Bush break 10 percent in the primary? Will he avoid last place?

Question the third: Can Rethuglicans in the First District find somebody even more nucking futz than Louie CK (ClusterfucK)? Would former Fourth District Congresscritter John Ratcliffe consider parachuting into this race? Would someone like retiring state Legiscritter Chris Paddie throw his hat in the ring? Would a real nutter like Bob Hall jump in? (Hall's state senate district is not part of the First Congressional District, but, like Ratcliffe, for Congress, district residency isn't a requirement, and former Congresscritter Pete Sessions parachuted into a new district, did he not?)

Question the fourth: Why the fuck would you want to be Tex-ass AG instead of staying in Congress?

Question the fifth: Could the MAGAts ticket-splitting help Guzman get the nomination? On paper, especially if she looks halfway sane otherwise, it sounds like it. But? Other than Hispanic half-breed Pee, who had a family name, Tex-ass Rethuglicans have never nominated a Hispanic to run for statewide office. (We're not even speaking of the darker hues.)  Beyond that, for all the claims about how people want just good news on TV, want clean political races, etc.? It's bullshit, especially in a race like this.

Besides that, she already had relatively limited name recognition, and Gohmert in the race will only exacerbate that.

This race isn't yet Gohmert's to lose, but if he can get Trump to unendorse Paxton, it might be.

November 23, 2021

Texas progressives talk turkey on Beto, Gohmert Pyle etc.

At the Monthly, Jonathan Tilove takes a deeper dive on R.F. O'Rourke's gubernatorial announcement and hopes, complete with interview. I wondered last week, in discussing his announcement, whether we'd get Beto 2018 or Beto 2020, especially on gunz. In the wake of the Kyle Rittenhouse verdict and the misframing of the trial, law, etc. by most of #BlueAnon, we're getting Beto 2020! He stands by his "Hell yes, we're going to take your AR-15, your AK-47." Good luck in the general, Beto, if you're the nominee. You'll need it.

It appears that Gohmert Pyle either got chickenshit on challenging Kenny Boy Paxton or, more likely and with Paxton already facing two challengers, would-be donors got chickenshit on him. UPDATE: Turns out that maybe Gohmert is that much of a tech putz, OR, for whatever reasons, somebody told him to freeze out Mark Davis, because, he's IN that race, and that needs a separate blog post. And, it now has that.

Strangeabbott's new Secretary of State nominee, John Scott, is not a Trumpist on alleged election fraud and actually says a priority is "bringing the temperature down" on such nuttery, while insisting that selected county audits will be bipartisan and won't involve outsiders, unlike Aridzona. At the same time, years back, as an assistant AG, he defended the state's voter ID bill; Texas Dems are split on their takes, especially with the feds suing Texas over its new law. The Trib has more on the county audits portion of the new election bill, including noting that the Lege forgot to dedicate funding for it, so the SoS' emergency fund is being raided.

Robert Santos, originally from San Antonio, is the first Hispanic to head the Census Bureau. Texas Monthly has a profile.

A Texas law firm represents Eric Coomer, the Dominion Voting Systems employee suing Sidney Powell, Rudy Giuliani, et al. Here's where they're at right now.

Eddie Bernice Johnson says "she's outta there" on Congress. Even though Peanut Butter and Johnson wants a woman to follow her, I'll put a prop bet on Carl Sherman. He's relatively moderate, like her, but can triangulate off of not being under her thumb, especially if multiple women run. Plus, the Best Southwest suburbs are a growing part of the district vis-a-vis South Dallas, and that's his homeland. (The district changed marginally on the southwest and modestly on the southeast.) Related question? Token Republicans have challenged here in about every general since I first lived in the Metromess itself 20 years ago. A couple of times, IIRC, a Libertarian jumped in. But never, even when the Dallas County Green Party was semi-active in the 2000-oughts, did a Green get in. Could an open race change that?

Speaking of Greens? Hunter Crow is running for Railroad Commish. He's got about two more election cycles to go before entering "perennial candidate" territory.

The battle to succeed Pee Bush as land commish has heated up, and includes a party-switching Kleberg family scion running as a Democrap. Kuff, naturally, likes a likely ConservaDem party switcher entering the race. Not yet heard of any Green names for this race, which, per party core issues should be the most important along with RRC. 

Off the Kuff notes and comments on the seventh lawsuit filed so far over the new redistricting maps.

Stace restarts his Thoughts on Viernes series as there were too many news items on which to opine.

Crystal Mason's appeal of her conviction for voting illegally as a felon may have a chance.

The Lake Highlands Advocate analyzes the racial housing wealth gap in Dallas.

Mean Green Cougar Red provides a final update on the Conference USA membership scramble.

The Texas Observer shows the "domino effect" the state's abortion ban is having on clinics around the US.

National and global

SocraticGadfly offers a twofer on environmental-related issues. First, as promised last week, here's his take on Glasgow COP26. Second, he has a long piece on the National Park Service 86-ing an internal study about a mass of employee complaints about sexual harassment, sexual assault and discrimination.

The percentage of voters registered to minor parties (in states that require such) has hit a century-long new high.

Supply chain problems are starting to ease, ease enough that for American hypercapitalism, good wingnut alleged Christians can fill up on made in China shit.

Or, maybe it's "Made in Serbia" shit, as Vietnamese workers at a Chinese-owned factory there are lobbing a variety of human and labor rights allegations against Beijing.

Counterpunch has gone back to the best, or worst, of Alex Cockburn days with a story about how US POWs claim we did germ warfare against North Korea in the Korean War without, at least before the paywall, noting Chinese and / or North Korean "interrogation techniques" that might have induced such statements. With that, Jeff St. Clair, especially given that the late Alex's younger brother Patrick remains a contributor, is getting closer to being deblogrolled again.

Xi Jinping lies about the People's Republic never having made a territorial acquisition.

November 22, 2021

JFK's still dead; Oswald still did it; NSAM-263 is not a smoking gun

I knew what today's date was. I had thought of Tweeting one of many blog posts on this issue today.

I decided not to, until I saw the #CIAKilledJFK hashtag, and then I did.

But, I wanted to update one of my more recent posts, realizing I'd not talked enough about what is a "smoking gun" for many of the conspiracy theorists. That would be the claims that a memo shows Jack was going to pull out of Vietnam. 

Wrong!

Jack had no secret plan to leave. He had a public plan to leave AFTER it was clear South Vietnam could survive on its own. That's what's NSAM-263 indicates and it's no "smoking gun." And, to make sure that the US could leave sooner rather than later, it calls for military incursions into Laos. Shades of Nixon!

Beyond that, NSAM's basis, per Wikipedia, is itself laughable. McNamara, the computer man who focused the war on body counts, and Kennedy consigliere Max Taylor were either ignorant as hell, lying their asses off, or a mix of both about how well South Vietnam was doing. The ignorance angle could be backed by MACV commander Paul Harkins lying HIS ass off. And, it's arguable that the top pair was engaging in self-deception over the likelihood of a coup against Diem when, at the same time, Ambassador Lodge said it was gaining steam. Had Jack dodged the post-Diem fallout enough to be re-elected in 1964, whether he would have stuck by his desire not to insert combat troops in numbers would have been open for debate. He was an ardent Cold Warrior, he had had "failures" on his watch so far, and looking ahead to 1968, he would have been trying to thread needles on this issue not only for himself, but assuming the Old Man would have been pushing for it, the election of Bobby in 1968.

Even had Jack avoided the insertion of massive new troops, he surely would have put in limited numbers after his re-election, or maybe earlier, had he faced the same Tonkin Gulf incident as LBJ did. He  undoubtedly would have engaged in the same bombing campaigns as LBJ did. Bombing in Laos would have accompanied other "incursions." Like Tricky Dick, JFK might have dropped a few in Cambodia, too.

Dear Tim and Bob: "I did it. Here's the receipts." Yours, Lee.
Oh, Tim and Bob? "If you're wondering, yes that's me."
On Oswald? The evidence is clear, starting with the fact that there is no such thing as a "magic bullet." In fact, per Wittegenstein, except to reference-quote it to refute it, I refuse to use the phrase.

But, that leads to reason two.

Tim Shorrock, who was the subject of that most recent previous post, appears to believe the myth of Camelot. And, myth it was.

This is laughable, if not tragic because Shorrock believes it.
At its most essential level, “Murder Most Foul” marks the collapse of the American dream, dating from that terrible day in Dallas, when a certain evil in our midst was revealed in ways not seen for a hundred years—a day that, for Dylan, myself, and others of our generation is forever seared into our collective memory. The murder and the hidden machinations behind it, he tells us, robbed us of Kennedy’s brain, a symbol for the positive, forward-looking American spirit that he represented.

First, "hidden machinations" certainly seems to imply conspiracy theory. So, even as Shorrock is wrong, IMO, in claiming Bob Dylan's "Murder Most Foul" isn't about conspiracy theory itself, he certainly seems to be about it on his own.

Shorrock knows — and if he doesn't, fellow Nation contributor Rick Perlstein could tell him — that JFK had no such positive spirit, definitely not on Vietnam.

Nor was JFK (or brother Bobby) a positive, forward-looking American on civil rights. Martin Luther King knew that. In fact, the best thing Jack ever did for civil rights was get himself killed so LBJ could make him into a martyr.

As noted above, that's Lee Harvey Oswald, with the same Mannlicher-Carcano he had used to try to shoot Gen. Edwin Walker.

The conspiracy theories, including the CIA one? Thoroughly debunked, as I discussed three years ago at the 55th anniversary.

"But Oswald was a nut!"

And?

All of our presidential assassinations were less than fully on the beam, and all of the assassinations had political overtones, too.

John Wilkes Booth? Megalomaniac, and one of the less flighty of this bunch. Thought he could inspire a Last Riseup of the Lost Cause.

Charles Guiteau? Mentally unstable, and beyond the courtroom definition of legal insanity, possibly walking in the shadowlands of sanity. Shot Garfield because he thought he deserved a consular service appointment which he had done nothing to earn and that Arthur, representing another branch of Republicanism, would be different.

Leon Czolgosz? So unstable that Emma Goldman distrusted him. Assassinating McKinley was "anarchism of the deed."

Oswald? Well documented on the mental instability and on, in his mind, the political angle — "Fair Play for Cuba." (Don't forget that a non-insane, and arguably pretty stable, Sirhan Sirhan shot RFK as a political assassination five years later.)

Recent attempted assassinations reflect this.

Squeaky Fromme is still alive and still mad for Manson. Arguably a political angle. Sarah Jane Moore was not totally nuts, but had a Patty Hearst obsession. John Hinckley's attempted assassination had no political overtones, just schizophrenic obsession with Jodi Foster.

And, two presidential assassinations between Lincoln's and Kennedy's, plus the degree to which anarchism was in the U.S. air in 1901, would seem to undercut Shorrock there. He's 13 years older than me, and no doubt JFK's assassination seemed shocking to a 13-year-old. But, he's not 13, and he's an investigative journalist. If he can't move beyond?