SocraticGadfly: 4/3/22 - 4/10/22

April 08, 2022

These baseball reunions often don't work out well

As everybody and their baseball-loving grandmother knows, the St. Louis Cardinals just announced they're signing Albert Pujols for a MLB contract, and at $2.5 million.

Sorry, folks, that's Albert's old Cards picture. IN a new one, if it's like his Dodgers one, his neck is what, at least 1 full inch bigger in circumference. Probably 1.5-2 inches. Now that can happen in part from building up muscle due to more MLB-level weight training etc. [NOT roids; I'll kick you in the nads] but part of that is surely due to added weight over the years, and a non-insignificant amount of it.)

Basically, this smacks of being a turnstiles gimmick, if Pujols hits some career milestones. (That said, he's not hitting any such milestones, IMO. Certainly not 21 homers for 700.) Jeff Gordon admits as much with the Post Dispatch. That said, Gordon is a team spinner if he claims Albert left St Looie for "negligible financial gain." Derrick Goold is also a Cards-whisperer, as when he throws shade on the Angels claim that Pujols said he still wanted to play full-time.

David Schoenfield comps this to Seattle bringing back Ken Griffey Jr.. However, Griff had 0.6 WAR his first year back. Pujols last year had 0.1 for the Dodgers. He'll be lucky to do that in St. Louis. (I think B-Ref's projection of 392 PAs is high, especially if it's right on a projected OPS of .680 — which I think IS right. He had a .637 OPS in Dominican winter ball, and I've told the stable genyuses among the Best Fans in Baseball repeatedly to check those numbers out.)

That said, per regular commenter Dave M., I am also reminded of someone else whose homecoming didn't work out so well — Willie Mays.

I still remember the 1973 World Series, when he was trying to score from second (I have, for some reason, long thought that he was on first and rounding second for third) and tripped. He managed to score anyway, but, after his outfield misadventures in that same game, and on the national stage, it looked sad. (Unfortunately, I can't find a clip of just that on YouTube.)

Junior Griffey did OK for the Mariners in 2009, yes, but plunged off a cliff the next year.

Speaking of the Mariners? Ichiro Suzuki is another whose return just was ugly. It was ugly in his second-last official year, and real ugly, reading between the lines, on his not wanting to accept reality when he came back for another year. That said, it was also ugly by the Mariners to sign him back that second time.

Don Sutton's return to the Dodgers wasn't quite craptacular, but it wasn't good and ended midseason. Reggie Jackson's venture back to the A's was OK, and Gary Carter did decently with his last year with the Expos. But, even Reggie wasn't 43 or whatever, Carter was in good shape for a catcher and Sutton was a junkballer who didn't lean as much on fitness and still failed.

Albert will surely be at least as stubborn as Ichiro if reality turns out to be what I think. And, the fact that Mozeliak probably was bidding against himself (those two other teams allegely interested in him must have been mice in some writer's pocket) and paid well over the minimum means they're kind of stuck with him.

Will this be part of a Three Amigos/Three Musketeers joint retirement with Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina? Well, in the presser, as reported by Derrick Goold, Waino isn't committing to anything. That said, he's fixing to drop like a Pujols rock this year, and while the Cards might scrape a few bucks from him having a retirement next year, it won't be that much.

Anyway, Goold et al will be much more reverent than Big Apple media were to Mays.

Coronavirus Week 104: Workplaces, Shanghai, more

Your Local Epidemiologist talks ventilation and filtration.

That said, what was touted a year and more ago hand in hand, with ventilation and filtration? A lot of alleged air sterilization devices are hype, if not huck. 


China is so worried about Shanghai that it stopped its previous half-a-city-at-a-time lockdown and instead, put the whole city on one lockdown. Frustrations are rising, and along with that, claims that the lockdown is being poorly handled. And, of course, Xi Jinping Thought has snuffed out public discussion of these plaints on WeChat. Because of that? "Control your soul's desire for freedom. Do not open the window or sing."


Speaking of? I had to laugh when some piece at some online newsmagazine that I've already forgotten about called Adam Tooze a leftist a week ago. He's a neoliberal, as his book on the pandemic makes clear, and he's also a Xi Jinping Thought ass-kisser on China's alleged containment of COVID. I asked him on Twitter yesterday if he was ready to eat crow.


Beyond lab leaks, lab contaminations and other lab mishaps, if they didn't contribute to the origin or release of COVID-19 in Wuhan, are a problem waiting to happen. And, per that link, claims that new studies have totally nailed down the theory that COVID came from the Wuhan wet markets? Still not buying it, Carl Zimmer.

April 07, 2022

Employers ghost people, too, not just employees

But, of course, the capitalist chattering class will never talk about employers doing the ghosting.

I've had it happen before, whether actual ghosting or the equivalent thereof.

On the ghosting, rather than a potential employer not actually show up for a video or phone interview (and obviously, they can't "not show up" for an in-person at their office), my experience here is an employer say they'll call or email me to set up a time for an interview and never do.

Just happened last week. 

Having learned more about the company since I initially applied, my interest rate had dropped and I didn't even bother contacting this person back.

An "equivalent of" version?

Advertising a job, getting bunches of resumes, getting at least some people to comment on salary expectations, then ...

Eighty-sixing those resumes and readvertising the position.

I've had this before, too.

In my past experience, I think the company used the info they'd gathered to try to make a lowball offer to an in-house candidate. Whether that was the "why," or not, as in a deliberate plan, in two cases over several years of job-hunting, I know that's what happened.

April 06, 2022

Russia-Ukraine thoughts, Week 4

A briefer roundup than the first three weeks, but there's still things to talk about.

We start with Patrick Cockburn at Counterpunch. He argues that the US/West foreign policy establishment is underestimating Putin, and underestimating Russia's "chances" in the war with Ukraine. That underestimation won't be to THEIR peril, but it could indeed be to Ukraine's. In turn, that shows that in many ways, it still remains a pawn for the West. He also notes war crimes beyond this war (although missing a beat in not talking about Ukrainian as well as Russian war crimes within this war) and the establishment talking about "whataboutism." It's most true with Israel and Palestine, of course.


Michael Kofman has a good Twitter thread on the level of attrition the Russian army has suffered so far. Kofman also notes that Putin's options on addressing this are limited right now because he has not declared a state of war.


Putin has used NATO intervention in the breakup of Yugoslavia as both template and excuse.


The US Treasury seems determined to provoke a Russian debt default.


Said default, if it does happen, still might not hit Russia as hard as the US wants. The ruble has rebounded, vs the dollar, to pre-invasion levels. After reporting on that, NPR then tries to pee on our legs and say it's raining, with talk of "Potemkin currency," while not mentioning similar or worse interventions into our own economy by the Federal Reserve.


Noam Chomsky, in an interview with the New Statesman, has weighed in with the same sensible no-twosiderism observations I have made here for two months.

Top blogging of March

It was sports-and-Ukraine heavy. For one reason, in summarizing the sports stories, I won't be linking to Baseball-Reference or other Sports Reference sites. Nor, for right now at least, will I be linking to Fangraphs on the baseball ones. Those decisions will be explained at a coming blog post.

No. 1? I excoriate St. Louis Cardinals GM John Mozeliak for not signing Zack Greinke.

No. 2? I lament the DH coming to the National League and then, in the meat, tell Cardinals fans that Albert Pujols is not the answer. BUT? Skipping to No. 4, Mo blew $2.5 million claiming he IS, and so I kicked his nads again.

And, skipping to No. 6? My take on who won (and who lost) the MLB lockout.

No. 3? I questioned all claims for the coaching genius of LA Clippers head man Ty Lue.

No. 5? A takedown obit for Madeleine Albright.

No. 7? A roundup of dishonesty about the Russia-Ukraine war.

No. 10, to do another skip and closely tied? Week three of a weekly installment of Russia-Ukraine news, with neoliberal nat-sec nutsack and Zionist John Marshall trying to politicize the origins of the Indo-European language family.

No. 8? From February, my honest non-twosider, non-bipartisan foreign policy establishment, take on the origins of that war, especially looking at issues on the Ukraine side.

No. 9? A Texas Progressives roundup about metropolitan school boards being in the gunsights on May 7 elections.

April 05, 2022

Texas Progressives talk beauty and ugliness

Jasmine Crockett, in a runoff in the Dem primary to succeed Eddie Bernice Johnson as a presumably wasted Black neoliberal vote in Congress, has been claiming she represented Botham Jean's family in civil suits. The family asked her to stop, and she didn't, so they have resorted to a cease-and-desist letter.

Many K-3 teachers say one requirement by the state, to complete a Reading Academies course, is the last straw on top of COVID-related teaching burdens.

Socratic Gadfly definitely supports wilderness designation for most of Big Bend National Park with a few addenda and observations about that.

The ugliness of Texas' foster care problems continue to be exposed. Federal judge Janis Jack is calling for a federal investigation. And, it seems evident that DPS director Steve McCraw, who also heads the Texas Rangers, is politicizing the claim that we can (sort of) move along from Bastrop.

Chuck Bowden lives on, via also-deceased Julian Cardona, in a new lexicon of Juarez.

Chris Hooks checks in on Texas Log Cabin Republicans.

A federal judge has ruled Texas' law against use of drone photography by the media is unconstitutional. His ruling hinges on the law's targeting media use only.

Off the Kuff discussed the two constitutional amendments intended to cut property taxes that will be on your May ballot.

Reform Austin explores how female politicians are judged for being mothers.

Michael Li analyzes the contradictions of Florida's Congressional maps.

April 04, 2022

IPCC confirms we're facing climate change shit creek

Yes, that's the most straightforward way to describe the latest quadrennial report on climate change by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Here's your nutgraf, up front, emphasis mine at the end:

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on Monday released its latest report, which found that nations are falling short of their pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to avert catastrophic climate change. While the technology exists to stay below 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) of average global temperature increase — the goal that virtually every nation agreed to in the 2015 Paris climate agreement and reaffirmed last year in the Glasgow Climate Pact — current policies put the world on a trajectory toward at least twice as much warming.

Again, let's note that "current policies put the world on a trajectory toward at least twice as much warming."

Within that, let's further zero in on "at least twice as much." In other words, 3C may not be the stopping point above 1.5C. Could be 3.5C or 4C.

That's climate change shit creek and no other way to describe it.

Despite the angst by ruling class Democrats when Trump pulled the US out of the Paris Accords, and the same #BlueAnon huzzahs when Biden put us back in, the bottom line remains the same, and that is that:

The Paris Accords are toothless Jell-O.

And, with that, we need to start taking seriously the possibility that climate change Obamiacs like Katharine Hayhoe, Michael Mann and Bob Kopp are not only wrong, they're actually at Not.Even.Wrong, and that alarmists like James Kunstler just might be right. At a minimum, until the BlueAnon tech-neolib capitalists accept that Paris is toothless Jell-O, Kunstler will be more right than wrong. And, given the way the Glasgow round of climate talks went last fall, Team Democrat will continue to pretend to act and team MSM media will continue to pretend to take this seriously. That includes both the Monthly AND the Observer in Texas, in one of those instances that made Bernard Rapoport turn in his grave, in all likelihood. And also, Texas Observer, I haven't forgotten that it was YOU, not the Monthly, that spin-cycled Hayhoe, about whom I have a special climate change Obamiac animus. All of the above also goes for Sunrise Movement, really the youth wing of Sierra Club. (Does it hate Palestinians like Sierra?)

I also tweeted to the Observer if they wanted to edit the worst of that turd-polishing, where Hayhoe claimed, a year before Winter Storm Uri, that the Texas electric grid was "resilient." AND, good neoliberal, said that this was because it's independent of the rest of the nation's electric grid. Seriously. This is the person that Texas librulz hold up as a Texas exceptionalist exemplar of what Texas could really do on climate change.

And, as I type this, Status Quo Joe wants to expand LNG port termnails, cuz, you know, exporting natural gas and wrecking the climate will "own the Russians" or something.

Will the Cardinals even make the playoffs this year?

No "lefty masher" as DH and a paper-thin, at best, starting rotation make it a very serious question as to whether or not the St. Louis Cardinals make the playoffs this year, even with an expanded postseason putting six NL teams into the mix.

So, no, not an April Fool column. This is the real deal. Sadly, it was not an early April Fool when the Cardinals announced they were signing Phat Albert Pujols. My take on that, and its value or non-value, is here.

First, the DH side.

I busted St. Louis Cardinals president John Mozeliak's chops 3 weeks ago for claiming that Colin Moran could be the answer at DH, rather than spending for a lefty masher type or even Kyle Seager.  I stood by the idea of adding Jonathan Villar, who could easily pick up 200 ABs at the three non-1B infield positions and another 300 at DH as a lefty against righty pitchers, while still letting righty bats cycle through the DH spot for a day off from the field.

Seager is arguably the best lefty bat, especially among ones with at least bits of power, left available, per Spotrac. And, with the Cardinals signing Corey Dickerson [why?] they're probably out of the Seager running.

Villar would have offered even better infield depth, of course, and speed that neither Dickerson nor Seager have. And, at $4.5M for one year plus a buyout on an option with more details here, vs $5M for a  year in Dickerson, he didn't cost that much more money.

But, the pitching side is of course more serious.

Even further back, as in, one year ago, and before that, I've repeatedly said you can never have enough arms, and that's starters as much as or more than relievers.

That's why, when encouraging the Cardinals to look in the pitching world, beyond a budget Steven Matz, I wanted Mo to get Zack Greinke. However, the Royals have welcomed him back to his original home on a 1-year deal.

Well, with the Cards facing problems on both ends, with both starter Jack Flaherty AND reliever Alex Reyes officially not being able to answer the opening day bell, what IS the answer? Note: Flaherty has BOTH a labrum tear of some sort AND a left oblique injury; his injection is for the latter, which he incurred last year. That said, it's "interesting" that it continues to bother him this year; Flaherty said the problem started from mechanical issues last year. That said, did those mechanical issues relate to the labrum problem, despite both him and Mo downplaying it? Let's note that, despite the downplaying, the labrum, not the oblique, appeared to be the primary limiter last year, especially in the second half of the year. And, the old "platelet-rich plasma" isn't snake oil, but it's not all that some in the sports medicine world crack it up to be, either.) Note 2: Reyes is officially on the 60-day IL.

Due to that injury uncertainty, Flaherty and the team settled at $5M for this year without going to arbitration. That's an increase over $3.9M of last year, but, given sabermetric stats rather than counting ones, not really that much of a jump. So, his camp must have figured the team might win on contract numbers, over the injuries, if they pushed.

And, let's remember that the problem is NOT just limited to these two.

Given the age of Adam Wainwright, there's no guarantee he'll be healthy all year. Note that last year was his best season since 2014. Frankly, if the Cardinals get 2.0 WAR out of him this year, they should consider themselves fortunate, in my book.

And Miles Mikolas had his arm problems, too. And, we're still waiting to see how well Dakota Hudson is recovered from his Tommy John. (Yeah, he looked good at the end of last year, but? Small sample size.)

Last fall, I suggested Greinke. And, I also said then that I did not think a Matthew Liberatore was the answer. Not the immediate answer.

As for affordability? Right now the Cards are at $147M on salaries and $164M for lux tax purposes, per Cot's Contracts. Waino's $17.5M comes off after this year, as does Yadier Molina's $10M. Mikolas' $17M ends next year. There's room to spend.

But, for who? The Flubs signed Drew Smyly shortly after he was mentioned as an option. Trades, even with a team like the A's, won't come cheap as they know the Cards' desperation.

Basically, compared to last year? Let's take semi-worst case scenario and say:

Flaherty is "effectively" out the year. By that, I mean, let's say he tries a comeback in, say, early June. Start of July, has to shut it down. Tries again, early August and has to shut it down by end of August.

Ray pitches the full year;

Waino regresses, plus Waino/Mikolas/Hudson all have twinges enough to each miss about 1/3 the season.

So, that's your No. 1-3 starters, with Matz essentially No. 1 by default, then apportioning 2/3 a spot each to the latter 3. And, yes, I said "No. 1 by default." Matz has never broken 3 WAR in year, and has never broken 120 ERA+ in a full season, and any of the "Best Fans in Baseball" who think he's an actual No. 1 starter is at a new level of self-delusion.

So, it's possible that Liberatore may have to be, or forced into trying to be, part of the answer. It's possible that Drew VerHagen, signed to be a reliever first, will have to be moved into the rotation. Last year, there was talk about trying to "stretch" Reyes this year. Obviously, that one isn't happening. (Sidebar: Mo talked about success in signing players who had gone to Japan as part of the reason for inking VerHagen. Dude, you had ONE year of success with Mikolas, one year of meh, and then a bunch of injuries.)

Barring serious in-season injuries to them, I think we can go ahead and hand the Brew Crew the division title right now. Question is, do the Cards currently have enough to stay ahead of the Cubs for second in the division, and for one of the six expanded playoff spots, whether they're second or third in the division? Well, I'll put the Brewers, Braves, Phillies, Dodgers and Giants ahead of them for sure. That leaves the last playoff spot and I haven't mentioned Padres or Mets. As for the division, yea, I know, latest odds still have the Reds way ahead of the Cubs, which I find hard to believe. I mean, other than Marcus Stroman, the Cubs haven't had any needle-pushing moves, but, they haven't gutted their team, and haven't had any major losses, either. OTOH, the Reds just inked Tommy Pham. That said, what this really illustrates is that the NL Central basically sucks right now.

A lot of Cardinals fans will probably consider me a Debbie Downer. I'm just being realistic. 

And, not just me. On March 21, this site had the Cards and Giants tied for sixth in the NL on estimated wins. This site had them seventh in World Series odds. And, interestingly, both sites had them still ahead of the Phillies, which I don't get. That said, the first site put the Phillies just one game behind the Cards and Giants. Wynn, per Fansided, on over/under on wins, does have the Phillies ahead, though the Cards are half a game ahead of the Giants. So, they're at No. 7 there. If we have the Giants even, then it's a tie for seventh. If, like me above, you have the Giants ahead of the Cardinals, they fall to eighth.

Pecota semi-agrees. It puts the Cards under .500 (too low) but puts the Giants even lower. 

ESPN agrees, placing seven NL teams ahead of the Cards, as do I, and puts them right at .500. It gives them a 31 percent chance of making it, even lower than what I say. At Red Satan, David Schoenfield notes that a sub-.500 finish would be the first in 15 years.

So? Cardinals probably have 50-50 of making the playoffs. If they DO get in? 3-1 they're eliminated in the first round. (In case you weren't sure, the first round moves from a single game, which it was with five teams per league, to a 2-of-3 format.)

Side note: It's interesting that the Cards fell to fourth in the NL in attendance last year. That's the first time since 2012 they've been that low, and even in that year, they still broke 3 million.