Look: I am eager to learn stuff I don't know--which requires actively courting and posting smart disagreement.

But as you will understand, I don't like to post things that mischaracterize and are aimed to mislead.

-- Brad Delong

Copyright Notice

Everything that appears on this blog is the copyrighted property of somebody. Often, but not always, that somebody is me. For things that are not mine, I either have obtained permission, or claim fair use. Feel free to quote me, but attribute, please. My photos and poetry are dear to my heart, and may not be used without permission. Ditto, my other intellectual property, such as charts and graphs. I'm probably willing to share. Let's talk. Violators will be damned for all eternity to the circle of hell populated by Rosanne Barr, Mrs Miller [look her up], and trombonists who are unable play in tune. You cannot possibly imagine the agony. If you have a question, email me: jazzbumpa@gmail.com. I'll answer when I feel like it. Cheers!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Assessing the Tigers first 9 Games

Nine games in, the Tigers are 6-3, a percentage that would project to 108 wins over the season.  Nobody expects that kind of success, but we can hope that this team contends.  The bright spots have been 7 quality starts in 9 attempts, and offensive contributions from the back of the line up.  The let downs have been relief pitching - AGAIN, as always - and the lack of offense from the big guns.

Here are the batting stats.


Player

RBI AVG OBP SLG OPS
Avila, A

1 .600 .667 1.000 1.667
Romine, A

4 .375 .375 .750 1.125
Collins, T

2 .350 .381 .500 0.881
Kinsler, I

5 .280 .455 .560 1.015
Jones, J

4 .238 .360 .524 0.884
Castellanos, N

4 .222 .282 .500 0.782
Martinez, V

3 .207 .294 .207 0.501
Upton, J

3 .182 .357 .364 0.721
Iglesias, J

4 .179 .179 .357 0.536
McCann, J

5 .167 .286 .542 0.827
Cabrera, M

1 .133 .278 .233 0.511
Mahtook, M

1 .071 .188 .143 0.330
Machado, D

0 .000 .000 .000 0.000

When the RBI leaders are the lead off hitter and a guy with a .167 average, but you're still winning, something strange is going on.  The real hero of the young season has been Andrew Romine, who can also play any infield or outfield position adequately.

Scoring has been well distributed across the game, with 12 runs coming in the first 3 innings, 16 in the middle third, and 9 in the final 3.  In five of their home games, they have not had to bat in the 9th inning.

The team batting average is a sorry .218.

So how are they winning?

1) Hitting has been clutch.  Note the low averages of the guys with 3 or 4 RBI's. This is not something you can count on in the long run.

2) Defense has also been good, with the occasional stellar play.

3) Starting pitching has been from very good to outstanding in 7 of the 9 games.  One loss came in Fulmer's excellent no-decision first start, when the bull pen allowed 5 runs in the 8th inning.  Zimmerman and Boyd each have one good and one bad start, accounting for the two blow-out losses.

4) They were lucky to catch the Red Sox when they were dealing with illness in the club house,  and some of their better players didn't make the trip to Detroit.

On the other hand, relief pitching has been wildly erratic.  There have been some good outings, but Sanchez, in long relief, has been horrible, and Rondon has been sent back down to the minors.

Here are the pitching stats.


Player

W L ERA AVG WHIP
Verlander, J

1 0 1.35 0.188 0.980
Fulmer, M

1 0 2.25 0.190 0.920
Zimmermann, J

1 1 5.06 0.216 1.310
Boyd, M

1 1 5.40 0.194 1.440
Norris, D

0 0 4.26 0.292 1.580
Sanchez, A

0 0 10.50 0.379 2.500
Wilson, J

1 0 0.00 0.000 0.430
Rodriguez, F

1 0 4.15 0.350 1.620
Wilson, A

0 0 4.50 0.214 1.250
Ryan, K

0 0 2.45 0.300 1.640
Greene, S

0 0 2.70 0.231 1.500
Rondon, B

0 1 40.50 0.500 5.250
Hardy, B

0 0 0.00 0.000 0.000
Jimenez, J

0 0 0.00 0.000 0.000

Frankie has 3 saves and a vulture win in 4 save attempts.  There is a lot of luck here, since he has not been very good. If he doesn't improve, the back end will be a liability, and that, all by itself, could sink the season.

Overall assessment and expectations -- The starting pitching will be fine, and usually will give the team a chance to win. Relief pitching is a huge question mark, and needs to get a lot better if this team is to contend.  They do have a pair of 2-1 wins where the bull pen was good, so there is hope.

Defense has been adequate or better, and hasn't been responsible for many runs scored.

Team offense is in the middle third or worse among the 30 MLB teams.  The current run differential vs the opposition is -6.  Their 37 runs scored have them tied for 19th out of 30.  Cabrera, Victor and J-UP will start producing, and J. D. will be back soon.  If and when that all starts clicking, the offense will be formidable.

Next up - three games in Cleveland.  This will be a test

Hope springs eternal - at least in the Spring.

Data source





Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Opening Day

Some thoughts on the Tigers as they start their rain delayed oping day game in Chigago vs the Sox.

Last season, Cleveland dominated the Tigers, amassing a 14-4 record.

[A postponed game was not made up at the end of the season, since it would not affect the final standings. So both teams played 161 rather than 162 games.]  

This is why they won the pennant. During the Tigers string of pennants that ended in 2014, they dominated the 2nd place team every year, so this has been typical in that division.
Here are the results for the two teams last year.


2016

                                       W             L %
Tigers 86 75 0.534
vs CLE 4 14 0.222




less CLE 82 61 0.573




CLE 94 67 0.584
vs DET 14 4 0.778




less DET 80 63 0.559

Except for the games against each other, the Tigers had a better record.

Tigers should be better this year than last. They've unloaded some liabilities from the pitching staff; Zimmerman and Greene should be healthy; Norris and Boyd should keep improving, and Fulmer and J.V. should be solid.

On the offensive side, Castellanos should have the break out year that got cut short by injury in 2016; Upton should be the real Upton for a full season; J.D. is the real deal, though he'll miss the first month; and Kinsler is top notch. If Miggy and Victor stay healthy, this will be a formidable line up.


Lots of shoulds and ifs here. But if the Tigers perform otherwise the same as last year, and can go even 9-10 against CLE this year, it's game on! Ceteris paribus, that gives the Tigers 91 wins to CLE's 90!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

A Superbowl Sunday Meditation On Sports Fandom.

The mere act of being a sports fan - until recent years this was the 2nd most geographically divisive topic in America, since the South is still pining over Sherman’s march to the sea.   I can scarcely doubt that had I been born anywhere near Boston, I would be [shudder] a Patriots fan.  But, thank whatever gods control these things, I hale from the otherwise benighted Midwest, specifically Toledo - that overgrown village nestled up against Ohio’s Michigan border, where the muddy Maumee slogs its torpid way into the western corner of algae-choked Lake Erie.

This is actually a great place to be a sports fan, if you’re in to divisiveness and controversy.  It’s close enough to Both Detroit and Cleveland to have fans of both city’s Major League teams: Lions vs Browns; Tigers vs Indians; Pistons vs Cavs.  And, of course, the biggest rivalry of all: Buckeyes vs Wolverines.  Then, there’s the occasional lovable odd ball who follows a Cincinnati team.  This occurs even in my own family.   I don’t recall ever meeting a fan of any Chicago team.

Still, it’s kind of easy to see what is the most powerful factor in making one a fan of some given sports team - mere geographic parochialism.

Perhaps a more interesting topic is what makes one hate a certain team.  Many people feel that if you love team A, then you must hate their biggest rival.  Frex, many Michigan fans want OSU to lose every game - simply because of the rivalry, and vice-versa.  I think that is petty.  My son-in-law - an avid Wolverine fan - wants OSU to win every preceding game, so that when the 2 teams meet in late November, everything will be on the line when the Wolverines [one would hope] triumph.  That’s the kind of camp I’m in.

So, who do I hate, and why?  There are a few reasons - hatred of a particular key player, the coach, or the owner seem to predominate.  This is often irrational, but that ends up not mattering very much.  However, there can be some more or less rational basis for it, often relating to bad behaviors.  I have hated the Fildelfia Phlyers because of their cheating ways back in the early 70’s.  It seemed as if they always scored the winning goal with a man in the crease, mugging the goalie - and getting away with it!  They were a genuinely great team, but everyone on it - even Bobby Clarke - was a damned goon. That, right there is a good, solid reason, seasoned with a heavy dollop of resentment for the hash realities of an unfair world.  Carrying it on for over 4 decades is way over the top, but there you have it.  When it comes to teams, I am a grudge holder.  But in this instance the passion has gone out of it for me - maybe through the passage of time, or the fact that they aren’t very good any more, or that my youngest grandson is a fan of theirs.   At any rate, the whining, cheating, cry-baby Crosby-Malkin edition of the Penguins is now in top spot.  Sad, because I liked them in the Lemieux years.

My next favorite hate is the Dallas Cowboys.  I have no particular animus toward any of their players - with only a couple of historical exceptions.  But their conceit of calling themselves “America’s Team” is an affront this mid-westerner refuses to tolerate.  Beyond that, it's the terminally loathsome, hyper-Republican, meddling owner Jerry Jones who inspires my everlasting enmity.  I never hated the Cowboys under coach Landry.

So, for me, it’s either blatant [and unfortunately successful] cheating, or a personal reaction to an obnoxious prominent face of the team.

What does it for you?


Wednesday, September 7, 2016

A Historical Look at Electoral Maps

When I was a kid, "The Solid South" used to mean that the southern states from Texas through The Carolinas could be counted on to support the Democratic presidential candidate.  This had been true since 1880, and was a manifestation of southern resentment against Republican northern profiteers, known as carpet baggers, who had gotten fat on the post war reconstruction.

This all changed in the 1960's, after LBJ signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 into law.   He said at the time that the Democrats had lost the south for a generation. What a failure of imagination!  Here we are, more than 50 years later, and the South is still lost, and probably will remain so for a few more decades.

Heres' s a link to historical electoral maps.

In 1964, the effect was immediate.  For the first time in history, the Republicans took LA, MS, AL, GA and SC, while suffering an epic national loss of of 486 to 52 electoral votes.  As an aside, it's also notable that in the first half of this century, the Democratic party was a welcome home to southern racists.  After 1964, they ran to the Rethugs, who welcomed them with open arms, as evidenced by the Nixon-Reagan southern strategy.

The south revealed its other characteristic factor in the '64 election - voting for its native son.  The Dems carried Texas in '64, and again in '68, when LBJ decided not to run again, and Humphrey stepped up to get stomped by the vile Richard Nixon.  Despite the even worse George Wallace draining off 5 southern states and their 46 electoral votes, Nixon beat Humphrey by 110.

The only anomaly occurred in 1976, when Democrat Jimmy Carter of Georgia swept the south and beat Michigan's Jerry Ford by 57 EV.  The south gave the presidency to its native son. Except for the first two elections of the 2000's that were stolen by GWB, that was the closest EV margin since 1884.

In '92 and '96 Clinton won his home state of AR, along with a couple other southern states each time, beating his rivals by sizable EV margins.

Florida has gone blue in the last two elections, but the rest of the south remained solidly behind McCain and Romney.

What will happen now?  The black guy has been replaced by a woman who has been vilified by the right wing for 25 years.  More recently, the Rethug controlled congress has wasted huge quantities of both time and money chasing bogus scandals to further discredit her.

HRC is very unlikely to win any southern state beside FLA, which has a large contingent of displaced northerners.

It's up to the rest of the country to keep the dumb con man, who has deep and serious emotional problems, and might actually be insane, out of the White House.

What a god damned night mare.


The Rest of the Tigers' Season

After today's game against the Sox ace Quintana, who has the 2nd best ERA in the AL, the Tigers have 7 games left against first place CLE and 3 more with defending champion KC.

Next up are 3 games against the Orioles, who are 1 game ahead of them in the wild card race.

So far, they're
1-11 vs CLE
6-10 vs KC
1-3 vs BAL

Their other remaining games are 7 against the Twins and 3 against the Braves. They're 10-2 against the Twins, and have not played the 54-85 Braves.

So, they have 14 tough games, and10 where they should be heavily favored.


With 13 remaining games head to head against teams they are contending with, they have an opportunity to control their own destiny, but I have a hard time seeing this as a favorable schedule.


Saturday, August 27, 2016

The Endgame of ASoIaF

Sophie Turner imagines an elongated, beautiful death for her TV character.   It's all tongue in cheek [I sincerely hope.]  At any rate, it is a hope and a vision that I do not share.

Arya, Bran and Sansa survive, and they all reunite to ultimately rule in the north. Sansa takes down Little Finger. Stannis, in despair after sacrificing Shireen for no good purpose, becomes the 1000th Lord Commander of the Night's Watch. Brienne becomes castellan at Winterfell.

Davos finally gets to go home. The Boltons die horrible deaths that could never, ever be horrible enough. Big Walder takes over whatever is left of house Frey.

After inadvertently setting off the wildfire that destroys King's Landing, Dani fries Euron on the Isle of Faces. Previously he blew the horn of Joramon, bringing down the wall and setting off the zombie apocalypse. Then Jon gets the dragon - probably Rhaegal - that Victarion unwittingly summoned to Euron with the dragonbinder horn.

Tyrion rides Viserion to Casterly Rock for a showdown with his sibs. Jamie and Cersei go out in a murder-suicide. Then, Jon, Tyrion and Dani ride their dragons into the Land of Always Winter to defeat the Others at their home base. They win, but none of them ever return. Well, maybe Tyrion. Somebody has to relate what happened there.

Cold Hands is not Benjen.


It is known.

H/T to poorquentyn


Friday, August 19, 2016

ASoIaF as Horror

Best horror chapters in ASoIaF, per poorquentyn, who knows these things ---


Best horror chapters in ASOIAF? Here’s my top five:

1. “The Forsaken,” TWOW

2. “The Dragontamer,” ADWD

3. Sam I ASOS

4. Reek I ADWD

5. Catelyn VII ASOS

UPDATE 8/20:  Also, his top ten chapters in the series.

my top ten chapters in the series: 

AGOT: Sansa II

ACOK: Catelyn III

ASOS: Davos IV

AFFC: The Princess in the Tower, The Drowned Man

ADWD: Daenerys X, Bran III, The Dragontamer

TWOW: The Forsaken, Theon I


BIG EVIL, little evil

Quote of the day, relating to alleged kin-slayer Big Walder Frey:
Choosing the lesser evil isn’t a sad half-measure, not in a world where the greater evils are the likes of Ramsay, Gregor, Craster, Rorge…or the Others, above them all.
            -- poorquentyn


Funny, he didn't mention Euron Greyjoy.




.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

GoT S6 E09

I finished watching GoT S6 E09 this morning.

Spoiler alert in case anyone needs it at this late date.

A few thoughts.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

The Next Clinton Presidency

Hillary will be the Democratic nominee, because that was pre-ordained, and the Party will make sure it happens, as it has throughout this primary season.  Given that, I’m glad Bernie ran and is staying in the fray until the convention.  Everyone saying he should drop out; is hurting the party; or is hurting Hillary can go to hell.

I also expect she will win the presidency, though I am far from certain.   Trump is putting out a populist message addressing jobs, infrastructure and trade agreements that plays directly into the the fears and expectations of desperate white working class people.  Of course it’s all bull shit, right from The Art of the Deal.   But if enough people fall for it, he has a chance to win.

I see the general election playing out one of two ways: either Trump wins a squeaky close election - by 1-2 % of the popular vote and a single swing state in the electoral college; or Hillary wins by a historic landslide - >15 % of the popular vote and 100 to 150 electoral votes.

People talk about her progressive credentials, but I see a corporatist neoliberal hawk.  These are things I will judge her presidency on —

Fracking
Support for alternative energy development
Wall street Regulation
TPP and other trade agreements
Minimum Wage
The Future of Social Security and Medicare
Universal Health Care
The Student Loan crisis and college costs in general
Citizens United and election finance in general
Relations with Native Americans and other minorities
Pipeline Issues [like Keystone XL] as they arise
Other environmental concerns vis-a-vis corporate concerns
Climate change vis-a-vis the political power of big oil
Tax policy
Future of the National Parks 
Eagerness to go to war, foreign policy aggressiveness in general 
Specifically, military involvement in the Middle East and regarding other Muslin nations.
U.S. attitude toward and treatment of Palestinians

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Thoughts on Game of Thrones S6E04 -- Book of the Stranger

I've fallen way behind Game of Thrones this year.  Just watched S6E04 this morning, and S6E07 airs tonight.   Spoilers ahead, in case anyone needs that warning at this late date.

In the "Inside the Episode" segment D and D talk about the theme of rebirth, a la both Jon Snow and Dany.  True enough, but what struck me is the recurring vignettes revealing the strength of the female characters juxtaposed against the weaknesses of their male counterparts.

First, the sisters vis-vis their brothers, with all these guys showing weakness in some way.

Sansa has become a seriously bad-ass character, and I suspect the best is yet to come for her.  She is now determined to take Winterfell back from Ramsay, and uses her strength to bolster Jon Snow's resolve.  [Yes we all "know" that they are cousins, not half siblings, but they don't know that - yet.]   Jon, highly confused at this point, is still coming to grips with his resurrection, and Sansa is giving him purpose and direction.  D and D reveal this is the first time they have been on screen together in 6 season, which only heightens the poignancy.

Margaery meets her brother Loras in the cells of The Faith Militant.  Loras, who we have not heard from in the books for a long time, is quite likely dead.  But on the show, he's alive, and, by means unspecified, about as badly broken as Theon.  Margaery is attempting to give Loras some of her strength and courage to carry on.  This  was a brief moment, and we don't know how it will play out.  But Margaery's strength and resolve are undeniable. 

And poor emasculated Theon, who will never get over his mutilation, but is slowly regaining his humanity, is still not back to himself enough to look his sister in the eye.  But he's gaining, and resolves to help her win the Iron Islands. Ironically, his weakness enhances her strength.

Now, the mother and child reunion, as Cersei once again bends King Tommen to her will.  Tommen is basically a good kid, but confused, wrapped around mommy's finger, and a horribly weak king. 

The contrasts -

First, the brief encounter between Davos and Melisandre.  She seems to have regained her faith, this time putting it in Jon Snow, but cannot face even the slightest questioning by Davos.

Then Osha, attempting to use all of her wiles against the Bastard Ramsay.  He was on to her, though.  They both went for the knife, the knife, the knife; they both went for the knife.  Sadly Ramsay won this round.  Alas, poor Osha.  You died a hero! 

And the best for last - both here and in the episode, as Daenerys Stormborn, Khaleesi, Mother of Dragons, Breaker of Chains, The Unburnt confronts the collected Khals of the Dothraki, who think they are passing judgment on her.  With absolutely nothing to lose, she sends their temple up in a blazing conflagration, thus reducing them to cinders, and again emerges miraculously unscathed from the inferno, reprising, in a much larger and more dramatic way, the conclusion of S1E10.

For some deeper analysis check out the always excellent Alt Shift X.

Just another Fry day in Vaes Dothrak.

Afterthought:  I disagree with Alt about Dany's character arc.  She is not going back to where she started.  She started as a frightened young girl, and has since been thrust into situations not of her making, and tried to do what she thought was right - kind of like Jon Snow, come to think of it.  In the process she has been running away from what she truly is - a Fire and Blood Targeryan.  Alt zeros in on this possibility - that she will return to Westros as an invading conqueror, leading a wild Dothraki hoard from atop a fire-breathing dragon.  Well - that is what Khal Drogo intended 5 seasons back.  But now it would be Daenerys in the lead.   She has grown and changed a lot, and - as is hinted at the end of A Dance With Dragons - getting ready to unleash her dragons and savages on an unprepared world.

So this is not a circle back character arc, despite all the to go forward you must go back stuff she got from the mysterious Quaithe back in season 2.

I agree with his final statement, though, that Dany and Jon have vital roles to play in whatever the grand finale of this epic turns out to be.

2nd Afterthought:  In Vaes Dothrak I was really expecting a Drogon ex Machina moment, but instead  it was a Daenerys ex Machina moment, which I think is much more powerful.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Tigers First 10 Games

I came into this season with a lot of optimism.  Verlander, Victor, Miggy, and Sanchez are all healthy for the first time in three years.  Green had his hand problem repaired.  There is a credible relief staff for the first time in many years.  Last year the Tigers were close to first in batting average, but only 10th in runs scored.  This seems like an anomaly that couldn't be repeated.  J.D. is the real deal.  I'm looking for Castellanos to have a break out year.   Justin Upton is an upgrade in left field, and should add some punch.  Free Press sports writer Drew Sharp declared this a 3rd place team, but I think he is dumb.

After 10 games the Tigers are 7-3, a very good start. This would project to 113 wins over 162 games. I don't expect that to happen.  But there are a lot of good things going on.  Batting has been potent, and the runs have come with it.   Tigers and Orioles are leading the league in team batting average, tied at .291. In 11 games, the Orioles have scored 60 runs, to the Tigers 54 in 10.  Tigers are way behind in home runs though, 23 to 14.   So, naturally, the Orioles have the highest slugging percentage, a gonzo .540.  The Tigers are next at .461.  So the offense is working.  Despite getting shut out the other night, the Tigers are averaging 5.4 runs per game.  Baltimore is at 5.54.  Boston is 3rd at 5.3.

Here are the individual batting stats.


PLAYER AB AVG OBP SLG OPS
J.D. Martinez 39 0.385 0.444 0.538 0.983
Nick Castellanos 38 0.368 0.359 0.605 0.964
Ian Kinsler 45 0.333 0.354 0.556 0.91
Jose Iglesias 30 0.333 0.444 0.367 0.811
Miguel Cabrera 38 0.289 0.4 0.421 0.821
Justin Upton 46 0.261 0.277 0.391 0.668
Anthony Gose 29 0.241 0.313 0.345 0.657
Saltalamacchia 22 0.227 0.292 0.727 1.019



PLAYER R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO
J.D. Martinez 6 15 3 0 1 5 0 0 5 8
Nick Castellanos 7 14 3 0 2 8 0 0 0 11
Ian Kinsler 10 15 1 0 3 8 1 1 2 7
Jose Iglesias 5 10 1 0 0 1 1 0 6 2
Miguel Cabrera 7 11 2 0 1 4 0 0 7 8
Justin Upton 6 12 3 0 1 2 0 0 1 18
Anthony Gose 4 7 0 0 1 2 0 1 3 10
Saltalamacchia 3 5 2 0 3 10 0 0 2 9

Neither Cabrera nor Upton has contributed much as yet.  When they get going, this offense should be terrorizing opposing pitchers.

Here is scoring by inning.


There is some success the first time through the line up.  Lack of 3rd inning scoring is mysterious. Big inning has been the 6th.  This is the 3rd time through the line up, so the batters are figuring out the starters.  Late scoring is encouraging, since the Tigers are getting to the relievers.

I think it's too early to say a lot about pitching.   Team ERA is 3.76.  Not horrible, but only 8th in the A. L.   Opponents batting average is .270, and that is awful.  J.V. is yet to find the stride he had at the end of last season.  His WHIP is 1.59, and ERA is a dismal 7.16.   Sanchez has been good, with a 1.31 WHIP and 3.38 ERA and 2 wins.  Shane Green is looking good with 0.857 WHIP and 2.57 ERA.  The real star has been Jordan Zimmerman, with 2 wins, 13 shutout innings pitched, a 1.00 WHIP and 0.00 ERA.

Here is opponents scoring, on the same scale as the Tigers'.



Starters are having early problems.  Relievers have been decent.

On the defensive side, Tigers lead the A. L. with 1.7 double plays per game - a stat that has been enhanced by 5 turned in the last two games at Houston.

So far so good.  But the White Sox and Royals are both 8-3.  So the Tigers actually are in 3rd place.

Hmmmm  .  .  .