July 26, 2014

Texas Republicans comment on the alleged #BorderCrisis

Dan Patrick, aka The Stinking Anglo Formerly Known as Danny Goeb™, said that he thought all of the alleged juvenile illegals, or Ill Eagles, were actually adults, probably midgets, in the youngest ages, but that adults could look like 10-year-olds.

"Everybody knows that Mexicans are all short, as well as stinky," he said.

Greg Abbott, continuing to remember that he has not a Mexican, but a Mexican-American wife, said that legal entry into the United States made Mexican-Americans taller and cleaner. He also denied that he was using Ill Eagles to dig the conservation-evading water well on his Austin lawn even deeper.

Ken Paxton said that the new criminal ethics complaint filed against him was obviously an attempt to undermine his planned new get-tough-on-illegals policy. He also denied that he had formed a limited partnership company to trade in employment futures of Ill Eagles.

Rick Perry said he was naming Sean Hannity an honorary brigadier general in the Texas National Guard. Actual illegal immigrants, knowing that, even for a wingnut, Hannity can't shoot straight, uttered a collective "Nemo problemo!"

Wendy Davis, stealing a page from Poppy Bush as she continued moving further to the right, promised "kinder, gentler border toughness" if elected governor. She then, in a further bid to keep from fading into irrelevance, said she would allow rich Ill Eagles to cross the border, if they would give her campaign $5,000 and then do five weeks of unpaid volunteer work.

David Dewhurst started thinking silently to himself that he might just have been lucky to lose the Lite Guv primary to The Stinking Anglo Formerly Known as Danny Goeb™. He then checked to make sure the Ill Eagles had mowed the greens at River Oaks Country Club.

Joe Straus, remembering that his ancestors had escaped from Beyond the Pale, kept relatively quiet for other reasons.

David Alameel said that he would spend "whatever it takes" to secure the border if he were elected to the Senate. But, he denied contributing funds to the Dallas Diocese of the Republic of Texas in the past.

Ted Cruz said freeing right-wing repression in a Hispanic country was far different than fleeing left-wing repression in a Hispanic country. Canadian Bacon™ then said that Cubans, unlike Mexicans, never stank.

John Cornyn muttered some senseless shit in another attempt to be as much of a wingnut as Cruz.

Louie Gohmert was strangely quiet, leaving seasoned observers to think he was going to trump everybody else's nutbar level sometime next week.

Davis and Alameel then looked around at being on a list of Republicans and shrugged their shoulders.

This #Cardinals fan isn't totally happy about Tony La Russa in the #HOF

It sounds great, doesn't it?

Tony La Russa, third-winningest manager in history, owner of three World Series titles including two in St. Louis, goes in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. Not only that, he enters just a couple of years after another Cardinals World Series winner, Whitey Herzog, and at the same time as the man who preceded him in St. Louis, Joe Torre.

But, not all is great. There's actually four different dark clouds of sorts over TLR's entry.

One I've written about a number of times in the last two years, and that is: What did La Russa now about players using performance enhancing drugs on his teams and when did he know it? (That's a question that also applies to Torre, of course.)

We're talking about the Bash Brothers, Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco in Oakland, and McGwire again in St. Louis.

And, I simply don't believe TLR's claims of large amounts of ignorance.

That said, during the Oakland days, steroids were broadly legal to the general public, and permissible to players as part of the collective bargaining agreement. Unsavory, perhaps, but not illegal. By the time McGwire rejoined La Russa in St. Louis, it was a different story, though.

Second is the issue of alcohol.

La Russa himself got a DWI in St. Louis. Alcohol led to a fatality wreck for Josh Hancock. David Freese was among other Cardinals who have had alcohol problems. Even after his own DWI, La Russa wasn't very out front about alcohol abuse as an issue in the Cardinal dugout. He certainly wasn't before that.

Beyond that, TLR has two player management black marks.

One is Rick Ankiel; Will Leitch has a good piece on his travails. Yes, he might have turned into a wild pitch machine anyway, even without his surprise start in the National League Championship Series. His regular season rookie performance hinted at that. But that's part of why it was semi-criminal for La Russa not to let him be ready mentally.

Of course, in the bigger picture of Cardinal history, that pales next to La Russa's handling of one Osborne Earl Smith in 1998.

I think it's no secret that La Russa is even more of a "my guys" type manager than his successor, Mike Matheny, and that he likes veterans.

But, he inherited Ozzie from Joe Torre; the Wiz wasn't one of his veterans.

It's true that Ozzie had had a very poor 1997, largely due to injury. Since Ozzie wasn't considered godlike, unlike Derek Jeter, one can understand La Russa bringing in Royce Clayton.

One cannot rationally understand or accept La Russa stacking the deck for the shortstop competition in spring training against Ozzie. Even less can one understand or accept TLR sticking with Clayton even as Ozzie showed he was the better player.

Did La Russa bring innovative ideas to the diamond, like the pitcher batting eighth? Yes.

Was he as good of an on-field manager, overall, as some would like us to believe? Not in my book.

Between Oakland and St. Louis, he lost all three of the World Series where his team was the clear favorite. In fact, I think he got too nervous, and often coached his teams too "tightly" in postseason play, kind of like college basketball coach Roy Williams.

July 25, 2014

#JohnWileyPrice will finally have to face the music

Our Man Downtown, closer to a new "seat" somewhere?
I know about half as much, at least, about Price's shenanigans with the Dallas Inland Port in southern Dallas and south Dallas County, from my days at Today Newspapers as does Dallas Observer corruption hound Jim Schutze, and even know more about one semi-related incident, connected to the development of the Union Pacific intermodal terminal that spurred the Inland Port idea. Click here for a full list of past blogging by me.

Dallas County Commissioner Price and longtime assistant Dapheny Fain, 52, political consultant Kathy Nealy, 61, and Nealy associate Christian Lloyd Campbell, 44, were arrested and charged with conspiracy and influence-peddling after a long FBI investigation. That said, while the arrests involve alleged business kickbacks, they don't involve strong-arming at the Inland Port, either because that's too far south in Dallas to matter to the Eff Bee Eye, or else because more powerful, unnamed persons (state Sen. Royce West? Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson? others?) make sure that that's not part of the bill of fare.

The Morning News has Price's post-arrest presser here, along with more details of the charges:
  • Conspiracy to commit bribery concerning a local government receiving federal benefits
  • Deprivation of honest services by mail fraud and aiding and abetting
  • Conspiracy to defraud the Internal Revenue Service
  • Subscribing to a false and fraudulent U.S. individual income tax return
The companies involved aren't named, but the News mentions Karen Manning and Millennium K art gallery and Schlumberger. It also talks about his broader "connections." (See below.)

What is named is some of Our Man Downtown's alleged benefits:
The indictment unsealed Friday alleges that Nealy provided Price “the full use of a new Chevrolet Avalanche” approximately every four years and a BMW 645Ci convertible,” making car payments and insurance payments that totaled more than $191,000.

Nealy is accused of secretly funneling almost $200,000 to Price as a “straw purchaser of four pieces of real estate, and handing over about $113,600 in rent payments from a property.

Federal authorities allege that Price and others worked out a complex scheme to conceal bribe payments. Nealy sometimes would transfer money from her bank accounts to Price’s, the indictment alleges, and sometimes she would endorse her checks over to Price.
I'm sure that's the tip of the iceberg. Here's the actual indictment.

See poll at right to weigh in on your thoughts of him getting nailed by 12 jurors or not.

Gromer Jeffers wonders about the constituent angle, even while noting that top non-black political constituents, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins and Commissioner Elba Garcia have both already moved on beyond him. Interestingly enough, while he can mention the likes of Al Lipscomb, James Fantroy and Don Hill as black Dallas City Council members who faced their own corruption charges, West and Johnson show up nowhere in his piece.

Schuetze weighs in with a parlor game angle, saying people around the courthouse are speculating "Who flipped?"

He also does a good job of explaining where Nealy fits in all of this politically:
The federal indictment on display below outlines an alleged bribery scheme in which Nealy and Christian Lloyd Campbell, himself a "consultant" and former Nealy employee, funneled money to Price in exchange for favorable votes for their clients, who had business with the county. Price also is accused of feeding their clients inside information on their competitors for county bids. The indictment says Nealy funneled more than $950,000 in "corrupt payments and benefits" -- cash, land and vehicles -- to Price.

It's Nealy who knows the bigger picture. Nealy has worked for the Perot family interests in the past, for a time occupying a fancy private suite at American Airlines Center when the basketball arena was still in Perot hands. After the raids, that suite became the focus of litigation and an IRS probe. 

Nealy has occupied key positions in national Democratic Party campaigns and, with a few others like recently retired lawyer DeMetris Sampson, has been Price's conduit to the larger world beyond his Dallas County stronghold. If there are bigger bones than his own financial peccadilloes to be found in Price's closet, she would know what they are. Her arrest today, along with an employee of hers, may be viewed with disappointment by people who were hoping the feds had won her over. 

But Kathy Nealy can be complicated. She played an ambiguous role in the 2010 prosecution of former Dallas City Council member Don Hill, sentenced to 18 years in prison for corruption in 2010. She denied on the stand at first that she had been given a plea deal by the feds in exchange for her testimony against Hill, allowing her to escape any shadow of complicity, but then under cross examination by Hill's attorneys she more or less conceded that she and the feds had come to a meeting of the minds.
So, don't be surprised if the feds' indictment of her is a head fake here.

Also interesting that U.S. Attorney Sarah Saldana made them do a perp walk, complete with shackles. That, getting back to Jeffers, may raise some man on the south Dallas street eyebrows. Or it may not. Our Man Downtown may be past his expiration date.

The most recent blog post before this one discusses the feds' invitation to Price to talk out a deal. He flat refused. The link immediately above notes the poor health of his mouthpiece, Billy Ravkind, and makes me wonder how intelligent of counsel JWP is getting.

Per the "past his expiration date," JWP has represented nobody but himself downtown for ages. The top story from the Morning News notes:
Price’s dealings with powerful white business executives also may be revealed in unprecedented detail during a trial. Even companies whose executives were not named as defendants may suffer blowback if the feds can document allegations of influence-peddling and shady transactions.

The search warrants served in 2011 sought records from some big players in Dallas. Those included Dallas developer Ross Perot’s Hillwood Corp., Perot Systems, AT&T, American Airlines and the law firm of Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson.

The search warrants also sought records related to several powerful figures in Dallas’ minority community. Those included State Sen. Royce West, a prominent South Dallas attorney; radio talk show host and political consultant Willis Johnson and DeMetris Sampson, a name partner in the Linebarger law firm, which collects delinquent taxes for Dallas County.
There's our buddy Royce, who was smart enough to keep his skirts semi-clean over the Inland Port.

Oh, speaking of, let's watch the Snooze play false equivalence! Here:
Price, West and Johnson, along with former Dallas Cowboys tight end Pettis Norman, all played some role in efforts to create an “inland port” in South Dallas.

Critics of Price have alleged that he helped torpedo developer Richard Allen’s efforts to build the inland port. The port could have competed directly with Perot’s AllianceTexas development in North Fort Worth.

Hillwood began buying up industrial land in the same area and built warehouses after Allen’s plans faltered.
Those first two paragraphs are the type of typical mealy-mouthed Snooze bullshit that rightfully pisses off the likes of Schutze.

No, the folks named in that first graph? Three of the four definitely worked to torpedo it, evidence would seem to indicate, with West yes keeping his skirts halfway clean, it seems, but not more. EBJ kept hers about 80 percent clean by pulling in her horns early down the road. It was, from what I've seen, Royce West's biggest influence-shaking misstep, and may explain the failure to get the UNT-Dallas area developed — he's still gunshy about deal-making.

Anway, back to the Snooze.

Add to the mealy-mouthedness on the news side the holier-than-thou pontificating of Todd Robberson on the op-ed side. The Snooze will be fine as long as none of the big white folks, like Mayor Mike Rawlings, get brought into court as part of any cleanup, of course. Todd, you really wanna clean up Dallas? Do you support the FBI continuing to investigate Rawlings? Or Ross Is Boss Jr./Hillwood? If JWP had enough to "sell" to turn state's evidence on them, would you support that?

Shit, for that matter, the Snooze could clean up its own op-ed staff and have some actual diversity — true political and class-based diversity, more than it does now.

Trust me, though, folks, that will never happen even by the time Ross Perot Quatorze (XIV) enters the world. The Snooze has advertised 10 or more times for somebody for op-ed work, whether print or online only, in the last decade or so. Has its commentary gotten any more enlightened?

At least all of Our Man's seemingly incorrupt friends are nice, white Republicans, so Greg Abbott can't shoot his mouth off.

A #Cardinals "junior GM" calls out John Mozeliak

Fellow Cards fans who track the team at least as much as I do will likely recall that, 6-7 weeks ago or so, just before top outfield prospect Oscar Taveras was called up for the first time, Cardinal general manager John Mozeliak chided people whom he called "junior GMs" for saying that Taveras should be playing center field rather than one of the corner outfield spots.

Well, in the Cardinals' Orwellian management world, in addition to not telling us, other than the vague word "rest," why Shelby Miller was sent to the pen, and why we've not heard any Michael Wacha updates in the past 10 days, I guess only real general managers who have their general manager Deputy Dawg badge get to speak like junior GMs.

Like Mo did about Taveras, about 18 months ago.
Oscar Taveras, 20, is being developed as a center fielder, and on Thursday general manager John Mozeliak called him “one of the most prolific hitters I’ve seen in our organization probably since Albert Pujols.” Taveras won the Texas League’s equivalent of most valuable player award after batting .321 with 23 home runs, 94 RBIs and a organization-high .572 slugging percentage. In six games already this fall for the Dominican Winter League, Taveras has a .364 average with two homers. Projected initially as a right fielder, Taveras has improved enough for the team to think his athletic ability will translate to center.
The blog's content links to a Post-Dispatch story by Derrick Gould, so it's all legit. Well, actually, it links to P-D feed of Goold stories, not one individual one, but still.

Whether Mo is worse about this than other GMs, I don't know. Yankee fans have complained about Cashman keeping them totally in the dark about CC Sabathia until he actually had his knee surgery, which turned out to be non-microfracture. It's still "interesting."

That said, Taveras ain't playing any OF spot above Memphis level much longer if he doesn't start learning more about what a base hit is. Maybe, as Bernie Miklasz has said before, writing during spring training, there's tension over the team's handling of his injury last year.
After all, the Cardinals’ brass was fairly aggressive in putting Taveras back in the Memphis lineup after he limped off the first time on May 12. Taveras returned on June 8 and played in 15 games before leaving the lineup a second time. He played in only one more game after that, in a rehab assignment on July 15.

Considering last year’s confusing and costly sequence, how can we really blame Taveras for feeling trepidation?
Or, and somewhat related, maybe Bernie's right that he's not one of Mike Matheny's "guys." And, contra Miklasz haters among Cards fans, I think a "Matheny's guys" clique is very real. Bernie wrote about that here, when Randal Grichuk had his first call-up, and I added my thoughts about our Sub-Genius Skipper™.

Anyway, unless Taveras gets above the Pete Kozma line, described here, his ticket back to Memphis is about to go in his inbox. Right now, he's a full 100 points below the Kozma line, and that's pretty damned hard to do.

July 24, 2014

6 ways this #wingnut bumper sticker is about the craziest you've ever seen



I'm not exactly sure what the message is here. Maybe there are multiple messages packed inside the one bumper sticker.

I do see that it's from American Life League, which definitely, definitely gets a "no follow" on that link, so, on paper, it's theoretically a pro-life bumper sticker.

First, in that case, the message seems 117 percent hysterical. Is ALL, which doesn't get stains out of laundry, nor teh stupidz out of wingnut thinking, trying to make us believe that a woman from Planned Parenthood is carrying around a butcher knife to do streetside butcher-shop abortions?

Second, is ALL now allied with some Minuteman/Militia group, warning us about "anchor babies"? And, speaking of that, do militia groups themselves support streetside butcher-shop abortions for stinking Mezcan Ill Eagles? Should we ask this of The Stinking Anglo Formerly Known as Danny Goeb™?

Third, is ALL allying with Open Carry Texas, saying that fetus (I'm sorry, unborn gun nuts) should be packing heat inside the womb? After all, that was the schtick of the late (metaphorically and politically), not-so-great Steve Stockman. I guess it would be harder to pull that M-16 out of a stubborn pro-lifer's uterus than about anything else, just on bulk, compared to an actual unborn gun nut.

Fourth, is ALL lining up with the neocons? "Women, if you have to have sex, make sure it's not with a Mooslim!" Speaking of, what do neocon pro-lifers think? Dunno what the Arabic is for "anchor baby," but I'll bet Pam Geller does.

Fifth, does the woman have a husband who's an executive at Raytheon? "Anchor baby" is perfectly fine if you're giving birth to a bouncing baby defense contractor whose daddy actually makes anchors. It's kind of OK if your husband is active duty in the military; just don't expect fiscal conservatives to pay the military hubby, or baby-bearing military wife, enough salary for the best in child rearing.

Sixth, is ALL worried that the pre-born might actually be targets in the War on Drugs? You know, like the picture at left?

Yep, that's your typical preborn baby smoking a bong made out of an automatic pistol. Now, if you're Steve Stockman, how do you tell if that's a real gun that baby's packing, or just a devil's tool of that devil drug, marijuana?

Toughie, isn't it?

So, ALL, why are you trying to confuse your loyal, humble, wingnut followers?

July 23, 2014

#MLB baseball in #Tampa and #Miami ... it's just not a big thing

In a new post at NBC's Hardball Talk a couple of days ago, I got into extended discussion with a strong Rays fan who acknowledge that David Price is going to get shipped somewhere, either before the July 31 trade deadline or else during the offseason. (Ben Zobrist has drawn his own lesser amount of rumor and speculation, of course.)

Price acknowledged the financial reasons behind that likely decision, but refused to even entertain the possibility of the sports sociology issue behind those finances, namely that ...

South Florida just maybe ain't prime MLB territory.

Here's an edited version of my side of the conversation, laying out the support for that in detail.

First, let's not blame the problem on Tampa's stadium, its domed dinosaur.

It’s not just the stadium. It’s not just that area. Greater Tampa-St. Pete is at least as big as greater St. Louis, so it’s not a population issue. And, it's not the stadium's location. Yes, it has a bit of traffic accessibility issues, but, unlike Atlanta, it doesn't combine that with being in a somewhat lesser economic area, at least to my knowledge.

It’s baseball in Florida. Does fine in spring; doesn’t draw fans in summer. Doesn’t draw a lot of local franchise loyalty. That’s probably due in part to a mix of all the spring training locations of other teams, rookie leagues down there after that, and the number of retirees with baseball loyalties, if any, to other teams. And, to extend this to all of south Florida, while Tampa-St. Pete is a mid-market area, not a true small market like Kansas City or Pittsburgh, Miami is a large market ... almost the same size as D.C./Northern Virginia, and 85 percent the size of Dallas-Fort Worth.

And, from what I know about their local cable deals, I don't think either franchise draws that great on TV, either.

Second, this is not about sports, it's about Major League Baseball. After my respondent thought he was refuting me by mentioning the fandom of the Tampa Bay Lightning of the NHL, I replied.

Had I wanted to talk about sports enthusiasm, I said I could have mentioned both areas NFL teams, the Miami Heat in the NBA, or, as he did, the Lightning.

This is about baseball. South Florida has shown that, for whatever reasons, it’s not an MLB hotbed. Period.

Marlins never had great attendance under Huizinga, which is why he dismantled the team after each of their two WS titles.

To be fair, the Marlins weren’t horrible in attendance in 1997, their first World Series year: 2,364,387 (5th of 14).

But, they were in 2003: 1,303,215 (15th of 16).

That said, you can’t totally blame the post-1997 player sell-off for attendance.

In 1996, a “respectable” 80-82 team’s attendance: 1,746,767 (10th of 14). Attendance went back there in 1998. Yes, that team stunk, but out of the big player sell-off, while Jeff Conine and Moises Alou were traded at the end of 1997, Charles Johnson, Bobby Bonilla, and Gary Sheffield weren't shipped the 97/98 offseason. That trio got moved during the 1998 season, and at least one-quarter of the way into the season.

So, although you may not like it … there’s a lot of attendance figures that point up problems with baseball in South Florida.

In Miami, I'm only giving limited credence to the idea of blaming Jeff Loria as Marlins owner for attendance woes there.

The attendence before, and immediately after, the first WS title, is all on Huizinga. He didn’t sell the team, and to John Henry, current Boston owner, until after 1998. Loria didn’t buy them until the post-2001 offseason. And, the team won a title in 2003, and nobody came out … and Loria’s antics in Florida hadn’t been that long yet, or that bad.

I'm curious as to why the Rays fans I'm running into at NBC, at least, simply refuse to discuss this issue of general baseball support.

So, any other Rays fans … you want to honestly, openly discuss the issue of whether south Florida might just not be a baseball-friendly area?

Finally, to this person and other Rays fans, or Marlins fans, lest you think I’m picking on Tampa in particular, or South Florida?

As a diehard Cards fan, former St. Louis resident, relatives there, etc.?

St. Louis is a great baseball town, as outsiders know, too. It’s a very good hockey town. It’s a decent, at least, football town.

But … it’s not a basketball town. Never really has been. The Hawks only stayed a decade after moving from Milwaukee to go on to Atlanta. The Spirits never drew well in ABA days.

Cities, or regions, are like that … good sports teams in some sports, not in others.

Note that greater LA is more than a decade of being NFL-free, but not a lot of people there seem crushed by that.

So, again … seems like South Florida just ain’t baseball territory. I’m sorry for you as a strong Rays fan that you don’t have more compadres, but … that’s the facts of life.

I'm a 70s kid, as #Apollo11 reminds me

This beautiful montage of 45 Apollo 11 photographs for the 45th anniversary of landing on the moon leads me to that.

I've talked a bit, indirectly, on this blog, and more with a few similarly-aged, and politically like-minded, friends on Facebook about this.

It's about demographic cohorts. And, such an issue prompts bushel baskets worth of discussion.

I'm old enough to, barely, remember Apollo 11. But, I definitely don't consider myself a Baby Boomer. So, did the Boom end in 1960, instead of 1964, as some demographers postulate?

Well, then I'm a Gen-Xer, right?

Absolutely not! I have less in common with the Alex Keating generation (more on that in a bit) than I do with Boomers.

Instead, whether we use the word Tweeners, or another, let us postulate a mini-generation between Boomers and Xers.

I originally said 1961-69 birthdates, but I'm going to tweak that a bit.

Let's call 1962 the front end. That way, none of use remember the Kennedy assassination, and beyond that, likely, none of us heard our parents talk about it when we were old enough to have a reliable memory.

Let's call August 1969 the tail end. That way, states who use Sept. 1 instead of Jan. 1 as the birthday cutoff for school age eligibility are my guiding line. And thus, everybody in this cohort was at least starting junior high before the end of Ronald Reagan's first year in office, and halfway through high school, at least, when he was starting his second term.

Hence, a lot fewer Alex Keatings of Family Ties in our cohort than in the Xers.

We're not only too young to know anything about Jack Kennedy. We know relatively little about the Space Race, about Vietnam, and about the pre-detente Cold War that fueled them. But, we do remember Watergate, two oil embargos, stagflation, and the "malaise" that Jimmy Carter did not mention.

See? We're 70s kids.

July 22, 2014

Dead #Cardinals bats = Taveras vs Craig, #CardinalNation idiocy

What brings this post to a starting point is a classic example of fake media outrage, sports world division.

At Hardball Talk, NBC Sports' baseball blog, Drew Silva jumped all over the issue of Cardinals manager Mike Matheny starting Allen Craig, a righty, rather than left-handed minor league phenom Oscar Taveras vs. Tampa righty Jake Odorizzi.

Silva especially jumps on the exact language Matheny uses about the decision.
Matheny talking Taveras/Craig pregame: “We’ve got to do what we can to win today, we’re not here in the development business.”

To me, this is a stereotypical example of a media-manufactured controversy. Sure, Matheny's language might not be perfect, but I get what he meant, and -- coming from someone who's done plenty of Matheny criticizing -- I agree with where he's coming from.

Matheny maybe could have used better language, but I generally agree with him. This isn't the Diamondbacks under Kirk Gibson, miles out of the playoff scene. This is the Cardinals. Even with the reality, to some degree, of "Matheny's guys," which I, along with Bernie Miklasz, agree is real, I'm still leaning Matheny's way here.

That said, in context, Matheny DID use better language:
“We all just got to that point in realizing that….everybody knows we need to do what we need to win the game. We’re not here for development. There are times we like to give guys exposure but the overriding factor is that we need to dow what we can to win. Along with that, you don’t want a guy to just sit here when he can be getting much neeed experience at another level.”

Matheny equated the situation to the one the Cardinals faced last summer with Matt Adams.
“We can send him back down to Triple A, but he’s already hit well in Triple A. Can we use him possibly as a bench guy? Get him a few starts a week. Does that make more sense? The answer is yes, and that’s where we are right now. That being said, too, continuing to give Oscar opportunities and hoping he takes off, and prove he can play, he’ll probably need more opportunities.

I’d love for all of them to be hot and have it be a tough call every night who should be in there.”
Courtesy of commenter White Falcon, the one other Cards fan on that post to not be a moron.

Call it "small sample size" or whatever you want, but so far, Taveras remains a minor-league phenom, and if not yet a major-league "bust," at least in St. Louis, a major-league struggler.

And, the lefty Taveras' splits against righties are no better than righty Craig's.

Some Cards fans might say, "but defense"!

Well, if you'll read my comments at Silva's piece, you'll see that "Gimpy," Allen Craig, is statistically a better right fielder this year than Taveras. Sure, part of that may be learning the details of Busch's right field, but ... this is a player that John Mozeliak, before calling some of us Cards fans "junior GMs" recently, was touting as a center fielder. (I've got a blog post on Mo's flip-flopping in the pipeline, too.)

But, I'll save you the trouble, on the defense:

By the slash of Total Zone Runs per year/Defensive Runs Saved per year/range factor per 9 innings, with RF only for both:
Taveras -13/-9/1.42
Craig -2/2/1.87

There you go. Now, let's see how many Cards fans can be very selective with their sabermetrics.They can be, indeed. "Small sample size" claims lead to "not enough time" claims ... and then, if Taveras did start more, and were still hitting a buck-ninety a month from now, Matheny would get some other sort of blame.

Speaking of, commenter Falcon also notes that Taveras, between last year's injury shortened play and this year's call-up shortened play, doesn't even have a full season of AAA at bats. So, I could say "small sample size" for everybody touting his Memphis work.

I could add that, if we consider those two partial years together, in 412 at-bats (448 plate appearances), his OBP/SLG/OPS slash is .373/.485/.858. Nice. Or maybe, "nice," given how the Pacific Coast League is known as a high-offense league, for various reasons. And, having done that crunching, I may have another post about Taveras as "phenom," or at least, Taveras as "too soon," in the pipeline next week.

That said, arguably, against righty pitchers, the best current solution for both offense and defense is to put Peter Bourjos, having a mini-awakening, in center, and Jon Jay in right. OTOH, Cards fans who see Taveras as the second coming of Derek Jeter might be even more pissed at that arrangement. And, yes, I'm going to pull out plenty of sarcasm here.

Per John 8:59:
At that, party-line anti-Matheny Taveras-worshipers picked up stones as if to stone him, but the Gadfly hid himself from them.
And yes, I can be "Life of Brian" type satirical as well as sarcastic.

As for, beyond the "but defense," to "but Taveras" ideas?

One Pirates fan brought up Gregory Polanco, and how manager Clint Hurdle is sticking with him even though he's struggling.

First, Polanco started out better than Taveras, a fair amount better. Second, he's not (yet) struggling as severely for as long.

Second, Clint Hurdle!

Not Clint the manager, but Clint the player.

Per my comments above, look up "phenom" in a major league baseball dictionary, and you'll see Clint's mugshot. Didn't have a horrible career, but certainly never had a great one, nor a long one, and he never came close to living up to his pre-majors phenom tag. For those of you not old enough to remember, he, like Taveras, was billed as a five-tool guy. He wound up with 2.8 WAR and -2.5 WAA.

This all said, per the NBC post, this gives "Cardinals Nation" a certain level of mindlessness and groupthink. I'm not perfect, but, there's enough mindlessness there that I have no problems with every ounce of sarcasm I left there.

That all said, give me a few more years down the aging curve, and a better job in a less isolated, parochial part of the world, and my overall sports interest intensity will likely fade again. That said, even on the team that interests me the most in the pro sport that interests me the most, I just can't be that tribal.

#WendyDavis: alleged #BorderCrisis another "track right" opportunity

There's the old cliche that the Chinese ideogram for "crisis" is "danger" plus "opportunity."

Hence the headline, as Texas' Democratic gubernatorial nominee has rarely missed an opportunity to track right in her campaign, pandering for conservative voters that wouldn't toggle her name in a voting booth even if Davis got a Texas Open Carry nutbar to stand at the polling place.

This started last fall back in Waxahachie, as I documented in depth here.

Her unprecedented, and arguably arrogant, pre-primary endorsement of David Alameel in the U.S. Senate race was the next big step.

At about the same time, she started playing dodgeball with the word "abortion," even though it was an abortion-related filibuster last summer that catapulted her to the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.

And now?

She wants to out-wingnut the GOP on the alleged "border crisis." Yes, there has been an uptick in illegal crossings, especially of minors, but the only "crisis" is the shabby treatment on our side of the border:
And state Sen. Wendy Davis, a Democrat campaigning for governor, responded to Perry’s announcement by calling for a different border surge: adding more sheriff’s deputies to the region.

“If the federal government won't act, Texas must and will,” Davis said. “However, we should be deploying additional deputy sheriffs to the border like local law enforcement is calling for.”
Sheriff's deputies can only act specifically on immigration enforcement, versus checking one's country of origin when stopping a person for some potential criminal offense, when deputized by the federal government.

Great.

We have two "mainstream" political party candidates who are both lawyers, and who both either don't know the basic legal fact that immigration is either a civil issue and a federal one only, or else don't give a damn. (I've just written about Greg Abbott on this issue, along with Rick Perry, here.)

We have a Libertarian candidate who is also a lawyer and who flat-out lies about this issue:
Our Constitution grants the federal government jurisdiction over naturalization, but not over immigration.
Wrong.

Article I, Section 8, where it says "The Congress shall have Power ... To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization" has always been interpreted by courts as arrogating specifically to Congress power over all aspects of immigration. (You don't naturalize native-born people, after all.)

And, related to that, the now-obsolete Article I, Section 9, about slavery, says:
The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit ...
Now, that's passive-voice "importation," but the idea of immigration is clearly there.

So, nice try, Kathie Glass, but that would be a big #fail.

And, we have a Green candidate who might as well be in fucking Timbucktu for all I know, having not even posted on his Facebook page since February.

It's times like this that, as much as it undercuts the idea of democracy, and as much as plutocrats in both mainstream parties plus the Libertarians like to hear this, that I defend not voting, when done as a reasoned choice, as one's right.

Reality? Greg Abbott, Wendy Davis and Kathie Glass should all have their law licenses revoked. Brandon Parmer should be shipped off to the actual Timbuktu.

Rick Perry sends 1,000 photo ops to the #BorderCrisis as #GregAbbott gets free soundbite

"Thank" Greg Abbott for interrupting your movie.
Because that's what the 1,000 Texas National Guard troops are.

Immigration is strictly a federal issue, and if Obama didn't federalize the Guardsmen, they have no legal authority.

Because of that, despite the talk by Perry and AG Greg Abbott's comment about "billing" Washington, Obama is under no obligation to pay for the call-ups. And, I hope he resist pressures to do so.

Then,  Abbott will get his soundbite-op of suing Obama again, as he promised:
Abbott said he hoped litigation would not be necessary to force Washington to cover the costs, but that was always a possibility.
Abbott, Texas' No. 1 waster of taxpayer money, will waste more Texas taxpayer money, and will lose again. After all, his campaign's border security plan also would fund itself by pulling money out of Abbott's ass.

It's all posturing, all designed to give AG Strangeabbott a 2014 campaign issue, and presumably, Gov. Helmethair a 2016 one.

So, this is yet another reason when you go to a movie, and see a Greg Abbott campaign ad, to do this, which describes in detail what the photo above pictures.

Lewontin crushes Dawkins, Sagan, and reminds us of problems with #scientism

Very, very interesting. Just over halfway through this in-depth, and somewhat crushing, review of Sagan's "Demon Haunted World," Richard Lewontin notes that something like ... well, like epigenetics was on the empirical eyeballs of biologists back in the 1930s. But, because the observations didn't fit the empirical framework, into File 13 they went!

Here's the relevant point:
In the 1930s well-established and respectable geneticists described "dauer-modifications," environmentally induced changes in organisms that were passed on to offspring and only slowly disappeared in succeeding generations. As the science of genetics hardened, with its definitive rejection of any possibility of the inheritance of acquired characteristics, observations of dauer-modifications were sent to the scrapheap where they still lie, jumbled together with other decommissioned facts.
And, here's the important preceding background:
 Second, it is repeatedly said that science is intolerant of theories without data and assertions without adequate evidence. But no serious student of epistemology any longer takes the naive view of science as a process of Baconian induction from theoretically unorganized observations. There can be no observations without an immense apparatus of preexisting theory. Before sense experiences become "observations" we need a theoretical question, and what counts as a relevant observation depends upon a theoretical frame into which it is to be placed. Repeatable observations that do not fit into an existing frame have a way of disappearing from view, and the experiments that produced them are not revisited.
A reminder that #scientism can work by the via negativa as well as the via positiva, if nothing else. The via positiva is the highly expansive claim of what all falls in the purview of science. The via negativa is just what theorizing is allowed within that expansive purview.

Sure, it's easy to say science covers everything, if you cut everything to a scientism-Procrustean bed.

Beyond that, though, the epigenetics angle shows that, even short of a full-grade scientism, the methodology of science, in actual practice, will always remain no more than human.

July 21, 2014

Should the #Cardinals jump on Alex Rios?

Alex Rios / Photo via NBC Sports.
Jon Heyman, actually writing about a player who's not a Scott Boras client (what's up with that?) says that the Royals are kicking the tires on the Rangers' Alex Rios.

I have a better idea, for the team on the other side of the state.

Since he’s actually hitting this year, if the Rangers want to save a few dinero, I’d swap Allen Craig for him straight up. That’s with the idea of the Cards picking up the option.

Rios himself has become somewhat of a defensive liability with age. But, he's not so much so as Craig. And, a park-adjusted OPS of 110 is much better than Craig's 82. Unlike with the Royals (presumably), the idea would be of picking up Rios' option.

First, even with Rios declining defensively, he offers better defense, on both range and arm, than does Craig.

Second, he offers speed, even in decline, something that Craig clearly does not. 

Both are very important as scoring continues to decline. That said, Mike Matheny still appears semi-clueless about how to manage, and even more, manage for, speed, but that's another story.

Craig's contract is three years longer than Rios' is, treating both team options equally. At what seemed like very good cost control two years ago, trading Craig could still be dicey. The Cards would be gambling that he wouldn't rebound.

Because of that, and the salary difference ... a straight-up trade, realistically, would be an overpay.

So, I'd ask one other player in return.

Neftali Feliz.

Since he's not closing now, with Joakim Soria doing that for the Rangers, his next two arb years go cheap. Well, under my domino theory, his 2015 arb year goes cheap, 2016 a little less so.

Next year, with Feliz in spring training, the Cards look at making him the closer and giving Trevor Rosenthal the shot he's wanted at being a starter.

Dear #WendyDavis and Texas Democrats: It's called "newspapers"

So far, the general election season seems to be emulating the primary season in Texas — Texas Democratic candidates, at least the top statewide ones, have no clue as to what a community newspaper is, whereas Republicans do that quite well.

I get inundated with Abbott emails, while getting a moderate amount from The Stinking Anglo Formerly Known as Danny Goeb™, a modest amount from John Cornyn and a few from others.

From Democrats? Nada? Nothing from Wendy Davis, Leticia Van de Putte, David Alameel.

Look, it ain't hard to get a directory of newspapers that are members of the Texas Press Association and said newspapers' contact email addresses. I know that most community newspapers are in rural, even more reddish areas, but some are in suburban ring counties and exurban second ring counties of the major purple and blue metro areas.

And, Davis has semi-regularly "tacked right" during the campaign so far, so I would think she'd really want to chase votes out in the hinterlands.

Besides, counties aren't like U.S. states in presidential elections; there's no electoral college.

I was a copy editor at a seven-day daily during the 2010 and 2012 elections, so I would have been out of the loop, but I don't recall Dems doing much with email blasts in 2006 or 2008, either.

And, it wouldn't cost that much, or take that much work, to do mass-blast emails to rural newspapers. Or, in today's day and age, find their Facebook pages.