Monthly Archives: February 2007

GoodEnough For Me: Analysis of Stats

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This is the second entry a series, GoodEnough For Me, a companion series to Extrapolator’s Smell’s Like Pujols.  The original GoodEnough can be found here, and the latest entry in SMP can be read here

We are just about 2 weeks into spring training, a time when sports writers are happy to be wearing short sleeves and sunglasses under the Florida sun instead of hats and coats and gloves and misery in places like Philadelphia, Boston, New York, Milwaukee, Cleveland, Cincinnati, and so on.  (Mr. Thursday does not care for winter).

And so these middle aged men, so enlivened by the lovely weather, so happy to be away from nagging wives and copy editors, away from snow, so giddy at again being able to eat fresh crab in February, knowingly and intentionally pass their joy on to the readers of their columns, in the form of making you believe your team is better than it has in the past.  The best writers convince you every year.  Joe Posnanski, one of baseball’s finest writers (so fine, in fact, that the Curious Mechanism keeps loose tabs on the Royals just so we can follow his columns) has made a habit every year of predicting, boldly, the Royals will advance to the championship rounds.  This year, he’s scaled back–no, no, no, not the postseason, he says, but they’ll be better!  Other writers in every baseball city will convince their ballpark faithful of this.  The young guys are coming along, the veterans are feeling healthy and spry, the new coaches are having positive impact.  The first Cactus and Grapefruit League games start today–games where the writers and fans alike will ignore all the screw-ups and concentrate only on the positives.  Hope springs eternal in February. 

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Hypocrisy and Politicians, just another day in Washington

Mr. Thursday is not a fan of hypocrisy. In fact, we find it especially irredeemable by politicians (we’re so frequently disappointed). So, when John McCain hired Terry Nelson to be his campaign manager, we were upset.

Remember that Swift Boat campaign against John Kerry? John Kerry, a decorated veteran, was accused of anti-American sentiments for his statements opposing the continuation of the Vietnam war upon his return from service. This campaign John McCain called “dishonest and dishonorable” and contributed to the 2004 presidential campaign defeat of John Kerry? Well, Terry Nelson was the political director behind the strings for that one.

More recently, Nelson placed the infamous ad against Harold Ford Jr. in the Tennessee Senatorial campaign? This ad played off of the latent racist fears in the South that are still under the skin of political life there. Walmart, a notably conservative outlet chain (a survey found 76% of their customers voted for Bush in 2004) was so distraught by the firestorm of publicity caused by the ad that they were forced to drop one of their most successful conservative consultants for his lack of ethics — Terry Nelson, again.

And because the Curious Mechanism loves a hat trick, we present a third case. Nelson has been connected to yet another one of the most fantastically outrageous political scandals of the decade: Tom DeLay’s Texas money laundering scheme. In this little escapade, Nelson helped DeLay circumvent Texas law by laundering money from corporate donors through the RNC in order to manipulate the Texas senate legislative campaign. After his gerrymandering of the Texas state house, this was obviously the next best step. Guess who was personally responsible for funneling the funds through the RNC. That’s right, Mr. Terry Nelson.

Mr. Thursday just finds it simply amazing that a presidential candidate so well known for his campaign finance reform legislation and devotion to the military would allow a man into his exploratory committee (with the title “Senior Aide”, no less!) who so blatantly ignores the law and mocks soldiers for personal and political gain. There is a certain irony that in the fact that a man so noted for his morality would hire a campaign advisor so known for his lack of it; however, this new-found moral ambiguity is more than should be tolerated by a candidate for the highest office in the United States.

Actually, perhaps moral ambiguity is the rule rather than the exception.

We like John McCain, for the most part. Here’s hoping this only diminishes his appearance, and not his reality.

Man-hugs to the Feb. 12th edition of The New Republic for bringing this to our attention.

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A Waste of 17% of Our Day

Jennifer Hudson came to kick ass and take names.So, the Oscars were presented last night.  Twenty-four awards over the course of four hours.  Through the power and mysticism of Hollywood, those four hours were made to feel like something much, much longer, as Ellen Degeneres has all the humor and  talent of a dog licking itself.  Well, maybe not that funny.  And she’s not as godawful as we imagine, say, Dane Cook would be, but when you’re watching a middle aged woman (and, given her commercials, possible cat-lady) vacuum the carpet in front of the stage, as a “joke”,  half an hour after the show was supposed to have ended, well, we can’t support that.  She was abysmal. 

We didn’t really follow the Oscar hype this year, but we saw a bunch of movies, so we were hopeful that the best ones we saw would be awarded accordingly.  Here’s the breakdown by movie, with our thoughts on the whole thing after the break:

The Departed – 4

Pan’s Labyrinth – 3

Dreamgirls – 2

Little Miss Sunshine – 2

An Inconvenient Truth – 2

The Danish Poet – 1

West Bank Story – 1

Letters from Iwo Jima – 1

Happy Feet – 1

Marie Antoinette – 1

The Blood of Yingzhou District – 1

Babel – 1

The Queen – 1

The Last King of Scotland -1

Lives of Others – 1

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest – 1

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Foot & Meter: You Silly Nonce

footmeter.jpgNonce words are a subject that, for Mr. Thursday, may never reach conclusion. They are neologisms created specifically for an immediate occasion or moment, without intent of repetition. Thusly, they need to be immediately accessible in the sense that, in their brief flash of existence, their purpose needs to be understood within their context.

Nonce words have certain purposes. In some cases they are used light-heartedly. In some cases a special occasion may necessitate a new word. In some cases (perhaps most cases), the author is just being lazy.

Our little reflection upon nonce words began while reading Last Plane to Jakarta’s latest entry on the new Guns’n’Roses song (tangentially, we agree with LPTJ’s opinion on said song). The entry begins, “As everybody knows, we generally don’t roll with the wham-bam-linked-you-ma’am style here.” Now, all those lovely hyphens are forming a rather lengthy compound word, wham-bam-linked-you-ma’am, which is a play on the 1950 Dean Martin song, “Wham! Bam! Thank You Ma’am!” Deano’s tune contains no hyphenation, and in an utterly perfunctory search of the interweb, we couldn’t find any hyphenated versions of “wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am” (excluding, web addresses, of course, who often substitute the spaces between words with hyphens). It would appear that LPTJ is the first, or at least one of the first, to turn this phrase into a word. His purpose? He was being funny. (We state this as simply as possible, because we feel like we have a stick getting pushed up our ass anytime we try to intellectually talk about why something like rhyming is funny. You try it. Fuckin’ sucks doesn’t it? Anyway, back to the post.)

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Hiding in the Dark

Mr. Thursday has a significant interest in science, though, among all the branches of knowledge in the world, this is, perhaps, the one we find most frustrating. After all, it takes a specific and specialized group of knowledge to calculate how fast fire travels. No matter how often we ask, our chemical engineer friend always tells us that he must know what is causing the fire to burn, and how much of this combustible is being used. Technical details! we cry, but to no avail. We still don’t know if Jack Bauer or Sylvester Stallone can outrun fire. We know that Arnold Schwarzenegger can do it, because all of his movies are autobiographical events told in real time.

Anyway, our two most favorite branches of science are Deep Sea, and Deep Space (we really like environmentalism, too, but that less for the scientific reasons and more for, well, other reasons–a post for another day). Sea and space are both cold, dark, and have unnerving gravity issues. Plus, people who get to travel to such places wear such absurd suits. We’ve always felt that astronauts and deep sea divers resemble, in a way, Muppets.

Well, in the news this week there have been developments in both fronts.

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If I Ran Major League Baseball

The second of our entries to the If I Ran website is up, and can be viewed here.

It’s certainly a less complete entry than we’d like–how we forgot to address the hideous situation of listening to Joe Buck, Tim McCarver and Joe Morgan throughout the playoffs is inexcusable. That said, we still think it’s worth reading, and we’re confident the commenters will cover a lot of the ground we missed.

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GoodEnough For Me 2007

Dwight GoodenIn blatant plagiarism adoration for The Extrapolater’s latest baseball related idea, Mr. Thursday introduces unto you GoodEnough For Me, 2007 Edition, a sort of unauthorized companion piece to Extrapolater’s Smells Like Pujols.

We’ll let The Extrapolater explain for himself what Smells Like Pujols is:

My feature for the MLB season is called Smells Like Pujols. Jose Alberto Pujols has been the undisputed center of my fantasy baseball team for three years now, and is a consensus first-round (if not #1) pick in most fantasy drafts. He’s pretty good in real life, too. Using his rookie year as the gold standard, I will be tracking the prospects of several MLB newbies this year. At the end of the season, we will truly know who Smells Like Pujols. I’ll update the standings every week, probably on Mondays.

I’m only looking at hitters. I would go crazy trying to figure out how to value closers vs. starters, and pitchers are less likely to do well as rookies. Besides, what would I call it: Feels Like Papelbon?

No, dear sir, you’d call it GoodEnough, because, though it was over 20 years ago, hardly any pitcher has had as good a rookie season as Doc Gooden. And, yes, of course you’d go crazy trying to sort out the dozens of rookie pitchers, but thankfully, Mr. Thursday has got some of that new-fangled statistical razzle-dazzle saved up, and really, was looking for an excuse to watch an extra 1,000 baseball games this summer.

(More after the break)

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