Monthly Archives: April 2010

The Howard Extension

News Item: Phillies extend Ryan Howard for 5 years, $125 million
Howard’s an excellent player and by all accounts a wonderful guy. He’s done as much as anyone to bring the Phillies into perennial contention, and I’m glad he’ll still be playing in town at whatever point my son becomes cognizant of baseball. My wife even got Noah a Howard t-shirt yesterday, in part to counteract all the Twins stuff my friends and relatives have been sending.
But Howard, as I’ve said numerous times, is the type of player who tends to decline in his early-to-mid 30s and need to become a DH, something that can’t happen in Philly. Sure, he’s gotten in better shape in recent years and become a better fielder as well. The Phils will be happy with this deal for the first couple of years, I’m sure- but will they at the end? I’m not so sure.
The national and sabermetric types, by the way, have been killing this deal.

The Mike Allen Piece

Everyone’s talking about the long piece in the New York Times magazine about Politico’s Mike Allen, who has become Washington’s most influential journalist without having a life, or sleeping. I agree with Dan Kennedy’s assessment:

Politico produces good work. Allen produces good work it was he who broke the story last summer about Washington Post publisher Katharine Weymouths plan to hold paid salons in her home with lobbyists, Post journalists and government officials. There is a lot of talent and smarts at Politico, and Im not suggesting that we ignore it.
But the overall sensibility of Politico is perhaps best described by Allen himself, who told Rose and Auletta last night (Im paraphrasing) that his readers arent satisfied merely to know the score; they want to keep track of the entire game, inning by inning. You wonder if it has ever occurred to Allen that politics might not be a sporting event.

I read the Politico print edition for the first time when I was in Washington last week- it really is like a political version of the sports page.

Jones’ “Slur”

I saw on Memeorendum the headline “National Security Adviser Jones: Jews Are Greedy Merchants.” Seeing this headline gave me the impression that National Security Adviser James Jones had… referred to Jews as greedy merchants. So I clicked the link and here’s what really happened: Jones, in a speech at the Washington Institute For Near East Policy, told the following joke:

I’d like to begin with a story that I think is true, a Taliban militant gets lost and is wandering around the desert looking for water. He finally arrives at a store run by a Jew and asks for water. The Jewish vendor tells him he doesnt have any water but can gladly sell him a tie. The Taliban, the jokes goes on, begins to curse and yell at the Jewish storeowner. The Jew, unmoved, offers the rude militant an idea: Beyond the hill, there is a restaurant; they can sell you water. The Taliban keeps cursing and finally leaves toward the hill. An hour later hes back at the tie store. He walks in and tells the merchant: Your brother tells me I need a tie to get into the restaurant.

An old joke, yes. And perhaps it’s unwise to tell any type of ethnic joke whatsoever in an official speech. But is this anti-Semitic? Was he saying “Jews are greedy merchants”? Of course not. A more accurate headline would have been “Jones: Jews Are Smarter Than the Taliban.”

Quote of the Day

Ron Rosenbaum, on the bad history skills of the Tea partiers:

The Nazis were not Socialists. The Socialists were not Nazis. They were blood enemies. In fact, the Socialists fought the Nazis, while conservatives and nationalists stood by and thought Hitler would be their pawn. Hitler, need it be said, was not a Socialist. He hated the Socialists. Had thousands of them murdered as soon as he came to power…
It occurred to me that their cult of personality is a kind of perverse cult of Obama. They’ve made a graven image of alien evil out of him. Obama: communist, Muslim, Kenyan, Manchurian candidate, fascist, socialist, capable of all varieties of political malevolence. A supervillain, with superpowers. Who requires super lies to combat. It’s time to take on these superliars and stop them from spreading their poisonous ignorance.

NFL Draft Thoughts

I’m not going to comment on any individual picks; I’m just amused by a couple of things: One, that every fan has a loudly worded opinion about their team’s picks, when none of them know diddly-poo about any of these players, and two, that the draft clearly defeated the playoffs of two different other major sports in the ratings.
And no, I don’t want the Vikings to get Jimmy Clausen. Get someone who will help this year, while the window is still open.

Visiting the Nats

I was down in Washington, D.C. this week on business, and with the evening free Tuesday night I decided to head down to Nationals Park to see the Nats play the Rockies. Figured, I could get a $15 ticket, the place was right by my hotel, and I wanted to check one more ballpark off my to-visit list.
The verdict: good, but not great. It’s got all the benefits of the modern ballpark, but didn’t really feature any one thing that made it unique, with the exception of the creepy-but-cool President’s Race. The park’s also not in an especially great area, and it doesn’t look like any of the promised “economic development” in the area has materialized as of yet.
As usual, the place was about half-full, so I was able to pretty much sit wherever I wanted, choosing a few different sections to sit in for an inning or two at a time. I suppose the perpetual lack of attendance was a combination of the team sucking for the last five years, Washington being a city of transients, and the total lack of lifelong Nationals fans.
However, I can see the team becoming good (when Stephen Strasburg arrives) and the place becoming more of a hub sometime in the near future. Indeed, Strasburg jerseys were among the most prominent in the stadium, despite the pitcher not even being on the team yet, although I saw more Ovechkin shirts than that of any Nats player.
The verdict? About in the middle of the pack of MLB stadiums. But no worse than the third-best in the NL East.

Simmons and McHale

So Bill Simmons interviewed Kevin McHale for over an hour on his podcast, and McHale’s decade-plus as Wolves GM wasn’t mentioned a single time? True, I can understand the whole “if you can’t say something nice…” thing, and McHale’s a Celtic hero of his, but it was still sort of an elephant in the room. It would be like interviewing O.J. Simpson about everything in his life except for the murders.