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!

Monday, May 27, 2019

Memorial Day - Who Should We Remember?

This is the day we quite properly remember those in our various military services who lives were lost in either gaining or preserving our freedom - the American revolution, civil war and world wars I and II. We’ve lost many more service people since then, including over 4000 in Iraq. Sadly, all of these lives were lost in vain. Our freedom was never an issue in any of these incidents. They were fought for a variety of far less worthy reasons. Perhaps the best of them is due to an ideology. Though that is far from noble. The worst of them is to line the pockets of war profiteers like Dick Cheney.

So I honor the memory of those who died in a noble cause, but grieve in profound sadness for those whose lives were not only lost, by wasted for poor or terrible reasons.
And who else should we grieve for? How about the innocent civilians - men, women and children - of Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Dresden and My Lai? And the many 10’s of thousands of Iraqis who were victims of our unjust and unjustifiable aggression?
What about the Japanese and German soldiers who gave their lives for their respective countries? Should we spare a thought for them? Didn't they have mothers, fathers, siblings, children, lovers?
Consider the kidnapped Africans and their generations of offspring whose freedom was taken for our economic benefit. Shouldn’t we honor their memory as well? Their lives were also sacrificed for us and our freedom.
Let's also not ignore the genocide our government and military perpetrated against Native Americans. Wasn’t that a part of American expansion? Weren’t those lives given for our benefit?
So my feelings are mixed on memorial day. Pondering these questions makes me deeply uncomfortable.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Life, the Universe, and Everything

I'll start off saying that I'm an agnostic with atheistic tendencies.  Only my general skepticism about everything keeps me from being a complete atheist.  I do believe that if we happen some day to discover that there is indeed such a thing as a God, She/He/It/They will have scant, if any, resemblance to what is portrayed in any of the religions popular among humans.  Given all of that, though, I can call myself a Christian, in complete sincerity, and with no sense of irony.  More on that later.

Way back in the shrouding mists of prehistory, early man started grappling with the important and ultimate fundamental questions of life, the universe and everything.  These are, in my estimation --

1) What in the hell is going on here?

2) What am I supposed to do about it?

Two approaches to grappling with these vexing conundrums are science and religion.  Some people don't like the idea that these two vastly different approaches spring from the same basic human quest for knowledge, and I've been ridiculed for proposing it. This is generally because someone has a personal bias toward one or the other.  But if you think in terms of the fundamental questions, it all makes sense.

Science seeks to understand the universe through rigorous systematic empirical observation, reason and logic.  It's pretty good at addressing the first question; but might not take us very far in addressing the second.  Of course, the scientific study of the results and effects of human actions can reveal some knowledge of what appropriate behaviors ought to be.  Natural phenomena like plate tectonics or global climate change, and policies like supply-side economics can be studied and understood.  Sadly, though, humans are only semi-rational beings, and the clear conclusions of scientific inquiry can become clouded by bias, epistemic closure, and contrary economic or political interest.

Religion on the other hand, seeks understanding through observation that is less systematic and more anecdotal, introspection and mysticism. It involves the assumed validity of prophecies, omens, and the interpretation of natural phenomena as signs from God.  As such, it has a lot in common with superstition - but that is not the field I intend to plow today.  Religion addresses the first question via creation myths - which in themselves can be quite creative, but not particularly useful in obtaining a greater understanding of the physical world - and observations which are far too often seen through the distorting lenses of religious bias, magical thinking and denialism. The second question leads to inquiries about human beings' relationship with and responsibilities toward God, God's relationship with and responsibilities toward human beings, and humans' relationships and responsibilities with each other.

Since the nature of God is unknowable, speculations about any relationship involving Her/Him/It/Them are ultimately totally subjective.  This is why there are so many radically different religions and God concepts around the world and throughout history.  In one aspect, though, almost all God concepts share a single, specific characteristic: the Deity is remarkably human-like.  God may be conceived of as all-good, all-knowing, and all-powerful, but still shows disturbing signs of human frailties like anger, jealousy, tendencies toward wanton destruction, grudge-holding, and an intolerance toward contrary points of view.

So the logical person can justifiably look upon religion with some contempt.

But doing so, at least in the context of Christianity, is often based on reading the Bible literally, and assuming it is - or is professed to be - the inerrant inspired word of God.

I see lots of criticisms that implicitly rely on this kind of reasoning.  Here is an example that generated a long discussion on Face Book.

Source not known

I objected to this as being ahistorical and misleading.  Slavery existed among the Israelites, but it had little in common with the chattel slavery that is such a horrible blight on our own American history.  It was more similar to indentured servitude.  Other New Testament writings refer to what were likely other forms of slavery in the Roman world, giving behavioral advice to both slaves and masters.

But put yourself in the position of someone proselytizing in a world where slavery is a reality, and your ability to change it is exactly 0 to an infinite number of decimal places. What do you do then, as a practical matter if your goal is to bring the world more in line with the teachings of Jesus? [If you are unsure about what these are, the short answer is found here.]  You admonish the masters to treat their slaves humanely, and the slaves to not do things that will incite the master's wrath.  This is simple good sense, and it is the message you find in the Bible.

So this meme is fundamentally unfair on at least two levels, and - in my opinion - is dishonestly motivated.  First, it misrepresents the nature of slavery that the O.T referred to.  Next, it criticizes moral admonishments about attempting to improve current reality from a 2000+ year later perspective.

But it's actually worse than that.  There is an explicitly stated error of composition, assuming that even IF the Bible were morally deficient in its commentary on slavery, that the rest of it's collected writings - assembled by a wide variety of writers over many hundreds of years - would be invalidated.

And still even more worse - to get back to my original point - the meme only makes sense if the Bible is taken to be the literal word of God rather than the situational best efforts of imperfect human beings.  In this way, some critics make the identical error that the fundamentalists and evangelicals make.  As an aside, this argument was not well received on FB, but I'm sticking by my guns - both there and here.

So, what does all this have to do with my claim to be a Christian? First off, though I'm not a believer, I do take seriously that there is - along with a lot of dross - some real wisdom, some valid moral pronouncements, and reasonable advice for living an enlightened life in the Bible, and most particularly in the teachings and example of Jesus. [See the link above.]

I recognize that I am an imperfect human being, with my own sad litany of vices, personality defects, episodes of faulty reasoning and lapses in judgment.  But I look at the way Jesus admonishes us to live and take that advice seriously.  Of course, I sin and falter.  But I get up, dust off, and try to better tomorrow - which is really all anyone can do.

In conclusion, I'll point out that there is no historical proof that the person we call Jesus ever did tread the dusty roads of ancient Palestine with his band of merry men.  Further, the gospels were written no less than 3 decades later than the events they allegedly portray - and almost certainly not by actual eye witnesses.  So the whole Jesus myth might well be a complete fiction.

But - and I mean this with total sincerity - it doesn't matter.  The message, wherever it came from, and by whatever suspect and convoluted means it came to us, is a good one that provides valid guidance for leading a life that respects the lives of others and improves the quality of human life in general.

And that's what counts.

The Tigers - 47 Games In

The Tigers have scored in double digits this year only twice - a 12-11 loss to the White Sox a month ago, and a 10-3 win over the Angels on May 8.

They've scored 9 runs twice, and won both of those games, giving up 7 to the White Sox on April 18, and 8 to the Mets last night.  Scoring a boat load of runs to eke out a close win might be exciting entertainment, but it's not very good baseball by either team.

The Tigers have been shut out 5 times, and blown out [losing by 6 runs or more] 9 times.  They recorded a 2-0 shut out win on opening day vs the Jays, but none since. They've only blown out an opponent once - that 10-3 victory over the Angels mentioned above.

They are scoring 3.55 runs per game to the opponent's 5.53.  Last night's home run derby added about 0.2 to each of those numbers.

Their current win percentage still projects to a lousy 62-100 season.  But their dreadful run differential suggests a horrific 48-114.

The team batting average is a dismal .224. Cabrera has been hitting well lately and has brought his BA up to a more Miggy-like .306. Two weeks ago, it was .286.  But it's a big drop-off to the next best - Castellanos at .267.  Ronny Rod, after going 0 for 5 last night, is at .250.  The rest of the team - you don't even want to know.  Unless you want to count pitcher Gregory Soto who went 2-2 last night and is batting 1.000. Case in point - Josh Harrison went 1 for 5, and his BA increased by a point.

Jacoby Jones, whose BA is measured in milligrams, went 2 for 5 with a home and a double, driving in 4 runs.  So there is your unlikely hero.

Soto did ok on the mound for 3 innings, but the wheels game off in the 4th when he gave up 4 runs, and the lead, giving him an ERA of 11.2.  I thought the Tigers were done at that point.  But they never gave up, and their 3 run 7th secured the win, despite giving up a run in the 8th.

The win went to Buck Farmer, the 3rd of 6 pitchers.  Shane Greene registered his 16th save in 17 attempts. That's pretty amazing on a team with only 19 wins.  What it indicates that almost ever one of those wins was a squeaker.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Christians Without Jesus - It's a Thing

3/31 Update:  Full disclosure -- I'm not much of a believer; but my lovely wife and I have found a church that we like.  The message is positive and accepting, the sermons are thoughtful and thought-inspiring, I've gotten deeply involved in the music program, and I absolutely love the people there - as individuals and as a community.  For the first time in my life, I'm enthusiastic about going to church!

This mural is in the narthex, right by the front door.  This, in my not so humble opinion is doing Christianity the right way.

How all this happened is a story for another day. What I want to talk about now are walls.  They are the sermon theme for this Lenten season, and today's was about the walls we all build that separate us from each other.  Walls built around geography, race, politics, gender, gender identity, social status, and economic position.

What didn't get mentioned are the walls due to religion.  The ones between Christians and Muslims, Jews or non-believers are pretty obvious.  But there is also a high and thick wall within Christianity, separating the conservative [or as I think of it, regressive] and progressive approaches.  Roger Wolsey does a deep dive into this in his book Kissing Fish, which has informed a lot of my thinking.

Below is a thing that happened on Twitter on Friday evening.  John Pavlovitz, in case you don't know of him, is a progressive Christian writer who I follow and respect.  Both he and Wolsey get a lot of flack from regressives who accuse them of heresy, when they are simply relating the clear and obvious message of Jesus. The exchange below illustrates what the wall within Christianity looks like.

In retrospect, I probably could have been more charitable.  But, let's face it, I'm a smart ass, and that usually comes into play. 


On Twitter John Pavlovitz posted this -

First response I saw was from this guy -

Christian minister.  This was his response.

JK: You perverse filthy hypocrite: If you knew anything about the Scriptures you would Know that GOD does hold humanity in contempt: & that every leader on earth, whether Good or bad; is put in place By Him.

I don't know if there is some prior history between the two Johns, but the viciousness of this attack, right out of the box is nothing short of stunning. Intrigued by this, I responded.

Me: Please provide specific scriptural references indicating -
1) God's contempt for mankind;
2) God puts leaders in place on earth.

Really - this is fascinating.  I'll wait.

Then this -

Me: I'm especially interested in how you deal with --

"So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them;"
"God saw all that he had made, and it was very good." 

These lines are in Genesis, in case you need help finding them.

God bless you!

It gets better.

JK: Way too much work for an account with only 71 followers: Provide the Scriptures That challenge what I said; or do the work yourself: I don't owe you anything troll

Me: Your measure of worth - Twitter followers?
I provided those scriptures in my follow up comment. It's clear in Genesis. Read it.
You, sir, are exactly why people are leaving the faith. They are not inspired by your message of hate. 
You are the troll.
May God have mercy on you.

Me:  Translating John Keister: My hateful opinion is contrary to scripture. I can't defend so I'll hope that nobody notices.
Not a good look, John.
Translating me:
Sorry John - we are noticing.  Me and all 71 of my followers - 70 thoughtful people and one smart dog.
God's mercy on you.

Responses on Twitter get non-linear.  I'm piecing this together as best I can.

JK: The First Message Of Jesus Is: You're eternally damned to everlasting death: Confess & Repent Of your sins: Only then Shall you Be Saved  *

JK:  You like {Genesis 6: 5+11} Educate yourself & Keep your fake blessing

Me:  Fake?  On what do you base that?  Your prejudice?
You memorize verses but have no understanding.
Jesus teaches love and you spew hate.
I am educating myself, with hope and humility.
I don't think you can make that claim.
You're the fake. You know words, but you don't know Jesus.

Me: Sorry - I ran out of space to offer a blessing.

I hope God softens your heart, opens your mind, and frees your spirit so you can see that judging is God's business; and that love, inclusion and acceptance are your business. Sheep and goats, amigo.

May God have mercy on you.

JK: Unlike you, I Know Every Scripture In The Bible & Understand most of them: & On Judgement Day you're not going to blame your sins on me hypocrite: #ForTheRecord I Speak for GOD, not you

Me:  Oh, blah, blah, blah. You know nothing abt me, let alone hypocrisy. Nice projection BTW. What you've shown here is that you are prideful, arrogant, hateful, judgmental, and deeply un-Christlike.
The message of Jesus is clear: love and forgiveness.
Go read it.
May God forgive you.

JK: {Luke 13: 1-9} This is the last you get from me: You're muted fool

Me: John really needs to apply Luke 13: 1-9 to himself.

He has the right wing trifecta in spades: projection, tone-deafness to irony, and a stunning lack of self awareness.

He might think he's won by muting me, but all he's done is run away and hide.

It's pitiful. I'm sad for him.

TiredSouthernLibtard interjects -
You might wanna bow out of this thread *Pastor Keister* - you're sorta kinda getting owned...

JK:  Pay attention: My GOD Has Owned everyone in this thread: You're nothing

TSL: And Christ be with you as well. I - like all of us - was created in God's image - so I claim FAR from nothing. ☺ Thank the Lord I was never exposed to a *minister* such as yourself. wow

JK: You pathetic hypocrite; you tweeted💩 @ me first: Beat it: You got schooled #Seeya

TSL:  (and maybe - as a *minister* - not post 💩 emojis... 😮)

Me: I guess the minister has forgotten his wonton attack on @johnpavlovitz at the top of this thread.  No self-awareness.

* Me, in a later response:
I really want to see this verse.  Too bad he's muted me.

What I didn't realize in real time is that this: {Genesis 6: 5+11} were the verses he meant. Here's Genesis 6.  God regrets having created us.  Once we were good and now we are nothing but evil. You'd think an all-knowing, all-powerful God would have had a clue. But that's the Bible for you - chose the passages that seem to support your point of view. This is in the Jewish part of the Bible, and I never hear Jews speak this way.  Haters gotta hate, though, and here is their scriptural support. It's conservative [and false] Christianity at its worst.

There's more between JK and TSL, and lots of other comments from other posters, but you get the idea.

It's kind of fun, in a perverse way, to jab the hornet's nest and find there's nothing in it but a slug. But this whole thing just made me sad.  What this minister [?!?] puts forth is such a hateful perversion of the message of Jesus, that reading his words leaves me in despair - not just for Christianity, but for the whole human race.

Here's Luke 13: 1-9.  It's kind of about repentance, but also kind of about fertilizing your fig tree, avoiding discouragement, and best of all - hope.  Where John Keister sees a negative message of despair and cruel judgement, I see a positive message of hope of and redemption.  What do you see?

4/03 Update:  Then today, this happened.  I just makes me sadder.

It just keeps getting worse.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Income inequality Over Time

Some people think that other people, like Krugman, Piketti, Saez, and - well - me have it all wrong about income inequality. I might take a deep dive into that link at some future date, but for now here are quick graphical looks at reality.

I plotted data from the Census Bureau Historical Household Income Tables to get these graphs.

First, here are the upper income limits for the bottom 4 quintiles, along with the lower limit for the 95th percentile for years from 1967 through 2017.

Graph 1 - Income limits per population slice

Clearly, the spread between quintiles has increased, and by larger amounts as you go up the income ladder.

Looking at it in constant 2017 dollars in Graph 2 makes this picture even more stark.

Graph 2 - Income Groups in Constant 2017 Dollars

The modest nominal gains in the bottom two quintiles have been largely obliterated by inflation. The spread between groups has widened.

What is the mechanism for increased disparity?  The data shows that it is income captured by each group.  This is presented in Graph 3.

Graph 3 - Aggregate share of income

Even into the 4th quintile, the aggregate share of each lower group has declined, while the top quintile has captured more than 100% of the gains, almost every year over the last 50 years.

Graph 4 shows the 1st and 4th quintiles along with the top 5%.

Graph 5 - Including the Top 5%

The top 5% have gained a significantly increasing share of the pie, and now are receiving about as much as the entire 4th quintile.  The pie is growing, but the rich are taking an increasingly larger slice.

I haven't taken a hard look yet at the article I linked at the beginning of this post.  We'll see what kind of arguments are put forth to counter the reality I have presented here.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

What Is Free Speech?

A Va. newspaper published a KKK recruitment flyer on their front page.

Rational people were not happy about it.  I got into a back-and-forth with a right winger on FB, who does not understand what "free speech" means.

Right Winger: One of the sharp ends of "freedom of speech." We may not like what it allows but we much like it because we too are allowed.

Me: But - free speech does not guarantee anyone a forum, an audience, nor print space in the paper.

Here, the audience was provided, free of cost, as if it were a news item - on the front page, no less. Their disclaimer does nothing to change that.

This is not a free speech issue. It's a what-in-the-hell-is-the-matter-with-you? issue.

RW: I will have to disagree with your assumption that it does not provide an audience. That is if "free speech" is truly a right.

If someone controls the content of your "speech" on social media, or controls the results of the search engine to eliminate finding articles that you see as objectionable, do you think that we are protecting our right to free speech?

We don't think about the fact that there are two sides to free speech. The first is the spoken part. The second is the hearing part. 

The history of the KKK tells us a lot about hate and control and fear and the political system. It is our "duty" to do our own research about what others say (or print,) and then make an informed decision. 

If "free speech" is shut down (in any manner,) we have less ability to make an informed decision. I may not like how it is done or what is said (or printed,) but we need to protect every manner of free speech (sadly - even that which we viscerally disagree with.)

I took this on, point by point

Thank you for confirming that you have no idea what free speech means. Seriously, you do not comprehend this issue.

"I will have to disagree with your assumption that it does not provide an audience." 

Not only is this wrong, it makes no sense. Don't you think you are free to walk away and not listen?

"If someone controls the content of your "speech" on social media, or controls the results of the search engine to eliminate finding articles that you see as objectionable, do you think that we are protecting our right to free speech?"

No. But the question is irrelevant. Every publication controls what their content is. Search engines are devised by private companies who have no obligation to provide free anything. You are conflating free speech with a right to know, which is not guaranteed anywhere.

"We don't think about the fact that there are two sides to free speech. The first is the spoken part. The second is the hearing part."

That's not how it works. I can stand on the street corner shouting, "[Fill in a name] is a goose and he wants to shit on your lawn." People have every right to walk away, shaking their heads.

"The history of the KKK tells us a lot about hate and control and fear and the political system. It is our "duty" to do our own research about what others say (or print,) and then make an informed decision."

OK. Fair enough. Unfortunately, though, this statement has absolutely nothing to do with the topic we are discussing.

"If "free speech" is shut down (in any manner,) we have less ability to make an informed decision." 

You have no facts to back up this assertion. in fact, it has been demonstrated that people who get all their information from Fox News actually know less than people who don't watch any news. You are ignoring propaganda, which results in people have less ability to make an informed decision. 

"I may not like how it is done or what is said (or printed,) but we need to protect every manner of free speech (sadly - even that which we viscerally disagree with.)"

Not so. Free speech is not an absolute. Many types of speech are in fact crimes - libel, sedition, etc. Here is a catalogue of illegal speech.

Usually, this is where these conversations end.  We'll see if there is a continuation.

[Days later]

Nope.  That was the end of it.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Tigers Update

Over the last 20 games, the Tigers are 11-9.  Their run differential has gone from -33 to -25, despite giving up 16 humiliating runs to the Royals on two separate occasions during that period.
After recently getting swept 0-3 by the hated Royals at home, they have now gone 4-2, winning their next two series against the Astros and Yankees - two rather good teams.
At 49-57, they are now 8 games under .500, with a .462 win percentage. This would project to a 75-87 final record.
With 56 remaining games, barring some horrible collapse involving 43 losses (.232 win %), the dreaded 100 loss season does not seem to be in the cards.
The run differential for only innings 7-9 has hovered in the range of -39 to -53 since game 67 against the Rays, and is currently at -44. 
Tigers scoring breaks down like this -
Innings 1-3: 176 runs
Innings 4-6: 197
Innings 7-9: 135
Opponents -
Innings 1-3: 173
Innings 4-6: 175
Innings 7-9: 179
You can see the double whammy here - opponents late relief has been effective, while ours has not. So the Tigers are a team that has trouble holding a lead, and trouble coming from behind.

On to Baltimore, then Pittsburgh.

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.


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.


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.


                                       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.