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Friday, February 29, 2008

A Baseball Salary Cap

In one of an increasingly deep pile of quality stories she’s putting out on the Sox for the Globe, beat writer Amelie Benjamin highlights one of the reasons “big market” teams will always have an advantage in Major League Baseball, even if they had the hardest salary cap in all of professional sports. Money is just used in so many different ways to make a baseball team successful that salaries are only a fraction of the equation.

Bowden, one of the Red Sox' promising minor league pitchers, ranked No. 94 among Baseball America's top 100 prospects, was driving to a gym in Chicago when his cellphone rang in early October. On the line was Mike Hazen, the Red Sox director of player development, asking him his plans for the next six weeks. Bowden paused, knowing what might be coming. Or knowing, at least, that any plans he had made just might need to be canceled.

So, after a brief delay because of teammate Justin Masterson's wedding in South Bend, Ind., Bowden took off for Pensacola in early November, heading for a shared apartment with Buchholz and a whole lot of food.

“Just highlighting a few of the physical things that we have stressed with him since he signed, most notably from a stretching standpoint," Hazen said, explaining why Bowden was sent to API. He's more of a tighter-wound pitcher. That's just who he is physiologically. We just felt like having that dedicated strength and conditioning for six weeks was worth for us the investment to make."

The team has done similar things with Jacoby Ellsbury, Kevin Youkilis, and Dustin Pedroia, sending them to facilities to make sure they work on specific things in the offseason.

The player doesn’t go. The player isn’t sent by his agent. The team sends the player. Does anyone think the cost of the facility or the housing is paid for by the player himself? Do you think the Kansas City Royals are sending as many of their minor league prospects to these kinds of places? Consider the number of staff Mike Hazen has at his disposal to develop programs for specific players, track their progress and modify those programs to maximize success.

The only think you might be able to do to remedy this is to make the minor leagues truly independent from the major league clubs. In essence you would create a relationship that would be similar to colleges and the pros in basketball and football. But that would be a MAJOR change in the way the sport has operated for a long, long time.

And it would still not touch other ways in which teams are able to gain an advantage by having greater resources. Consider money spent on the quality and quantity of managers, coaches, souting staff. Team facilities, like gyms and lockerooms.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Quarantine

Blogging limited due to illness and resulting backup of work.

Blogging will resume after clearance from the CDC.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The suddenly rhetorically challenged Obamas

There's a danger that one of the greatest strengths of the Obamas has suddenly become a liability.

Obama using passages from Patrick speeches was bad form and probably just a little lazy.

But Michelle Obama's comments about being proud of the country for the first time in her adult life could have more long term negative impact should her husband win the nomination.

If it can be done, forget who Bill Kristol is just long enough to consider that his review here might be right.

"...they're running against the status quo ... You have to be careful not to let that slide into a kind of indictment of America. Because I don't think the American people think on the whole that the last 25 years of American history is a narrative of despair and nothing to be proud of."

I'm a pretty solid liberal, but even I read Michelle Obama's words and within a few seconds thought of several things in my adult life that made me proud of my country. And I'm almost a decade younger than Michelle Obama.

I'm willing to give her the benefit of the doubt and wait to hear what she really meant by this. And why what seems a pretty straight forward comment might really be more nuanced and complex. But again, I'm a solid liberal.

You can go too far in running down not just politicians and specific groups, but America as a whole. The truth of the matter is there is a lot to be proud of in our country. And a person in her position has certainly had occasion to see some things worthy of pride. I dare say she and her husband could've done several things to create pride in our country, given their ages, talents and positions of influence.

Doesn't this run the risk of becoming "I invented the internet/Mission Accomplished" kind of fodder for Republicans in the fall?

And before you say this isn't an important enough issue to turn an election, remember the picture of Dukakis in the tank and his reaction to a hypothetical about an attack on his wife. Remember John Kerry being tied to windsurfing and swift boated.

I'm not talking about what "should" be important, but what could actually end up being important.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

I don't get it

Why is Roger Clemens’ suspected steroid/HGH use a partisan issue? I was watching some of yesterday’s Congressional committee hearings last night on C-SPAN and it struck me that almost all the Republicans attacked McNamee and almost all the Democrats attacked Clemens. There were a few exceptions here and there, but not enough to make you believe it was a nonpartisan issue.

What am I missing? Why does this issue break on party lines?

My First Valentine

Happy Birthday Mom!

XXX
OOO

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

No single explanation suffices

With the caveat that no single factor or explanation will work for every single voter, here’s another interesting way to view the comparison between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Tip of the Hat and a link to Jon Keller, who’s blog brought this article to my attention.

And, no, I’m not saying people who drink Dunkin’ Donuts are going to vote for Hillary and I’m not saying that people who like Starbucks will blindly flock to Obama. Just like I NEVER SAID that women should or would vote for Hillary JUST because she’s a woman.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Spectergate

Arlen Specter hates the Patriots. He’s a bitter Eagles fan who calls into sports talk radio down there once a week. He wants to embarrass the Patriots leading up to what could be the biggest accomplishment in the history of the NFL.

That’s what we heard about Arlen Specter last week. And it sounded likely enough.

But then I heard Specter gets a lot of money from Comcast (a Penn based company?). Then this morning I heard a clip of him questioning the NFL’s heavy handed way of protecting the Super Bowl by prohibiting game watching parties by social clubs that charge admission. Specter’s “concerned” because some of the common offenders are churches.

So this week I suspect Specter is going after the NFL more than the Patriots and it’s not because he’s an Eagles fan, but because he’s bought and paid for by Comcast. Remember, if you will, the battle between Comcast and the NFL:

Comcast: We want to offer NFL Sunday Ticket to our subscribers. (Watch every game, every week.)

NFL: No, that’s exclusive to DirecTV.

Comcast: Our subscribers will now have to pay an extra $7/month for the NFL Network, which has good programming and weekly late season games.

NFL: How dare you restrict free access to our product.

Then I found a NY Times article that raises the same question about Mr. Specter’s motives. Then Herald Business Reporter Jay Fitzgerald pointed out on his blog another site that made the connection. So now I’m definitely waiting for Mr. Specter to go through a few more issues he has with the NFL before they get down to brass tax: the NFL not playing well with his cable company contributors.

18-1

Disappointing.

The Patriots couldn't control the line of scrimmage at all. The Giants used their defensive front four with additional linebackers to cause problems with the Patriots offense just about all night.

That was the story of the night.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Great insight

If you respect Bill Belichick for being a student of the game and having tremendous focus, read the following piece on his longtime friend and “mysterious” co-worker Ernie Adams. Very, very interesting piece. You’re sure to enjoy it.

http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/eticket/story?page=adams

The two determining factors for the game itself will be the Giants defensive line and Eli Manning’s ability to play close to perfect. And, as they say, defense wins playoff games. Stick with me here, Patriots fans. I’ll take these one at a time.

All the talk is that Eli has turned a huge corner in his career and is now approaching elite or elite(a) status in the league. Um, maybe. But this is Belichick’s (and Ernie Adams’) second time playing Eli and they’ve had two weeks to study his recent play. The Patriots defense this year is a bend but don’t break, read and react kind of team. So even if Eli marches the team up and down the field and puts up great numbers on paper, the defense is only looking for those few key plays that make all the difference in the world. They could be an turnover, a stop or stops in the Red Zone that lead to field goal attempts rather than touchdowns or just that one key stop on third or fourth down. Eli doesn’t have to carry the team, but he has to play well enough to at least keep the defense from stacking against the run. I’m not sure Eli has that in him.

As for the Giant’s defensive line against the Patriots offensive line, I give the nod to the defense. But not the Giants defense. When it comes to the passing game, which the Patriots favor, the roles are reversed; Strahan and his gang will be the attackers while Matt Light, Logan Mankins, et al will be “defending” Tom Brady. SI’s Peter King did a good job of breaking down the numbers in this matchup from Week 17. Short story: the Patriots O Line shut down the Giants D Line. Two more factors:

1--King says the crowd in the Meadowlands limited Brady’s use of vocal signals at the line. Super Bowl crowds are notoriously quiet, he says.

2—Not one, but two of the Patriots regular starting offensive lineman AND blocking tight end Kyle Brady did not play. They will on Sunday. That’s kind of a big deal.

So look at the defense: both the Patriots against Eli Manning and the defense of Tom Brady in the pocket. The tricky thing is, the Patriots are good enough to loose both of these battles and still win. The Giants need to win both convincingly in order to have a chance.

Hillary for President

I was disappointed that John Edwards was not able to make more headway in the Democratic Presidential primaries. He was my favored candidate and I made phone calls and knocked on NH doors in support of him. I do take solace in the fact that his focus on poverty, trade issues and the middle class has influenced the debate among the other democratic candidates. They are paying much more attention to and speaking more about those issues because of John Edwards.

That being said, I am now supporting Hillary Clinton. I think her experience as a lawyer and advocate over the years, combined with her work as a Senator and active role as First Lady of Arkansas and the United States make her the more qualified choice. Her experience is really much deeper and more extensive than being First Lady. She's got some impressive credentials that are often overlooked. Refresh your memory here.

When the talk of bipartisanship and unity from the campaign fades and the reality of crafting and passing legislation settles in, I think she will be better prepared. I feel she has an understanding of how the Executive Branch and the bureaucracy works and how to make it work. Having a former two term President as her husband helps, too.

It’s not that I think Obama is unqualified or is tremendously flawed. In the end, I will actively support whoever is the Democratic nominee because either of them is a better match for my political beliefs than McCain or Romney. But I am hereby endorsing Hillary Clinton for President.