Stay Beautiful, Pittsburgh

The Most Significant American Athletes Ever

I try to get up to Citi Field to see the Phillies play the regular season juggernaut New York Mets every year. When I do, I try to get a picture of the #42 shrine in the Jackie Robinson rotunda. I consider Jackie Robinson to be one of the few indispensable American athletes. His societal impact is that big. There are very few athletes as significant as him. My list is the following, in no order:

  • Jackie Robinson- broke the color barrier in baseball.
  • Michael Jordan- arguably the best basketball player ever, also completely changed the scale of sports marketing and earnings potential for athletes.
  • Babe Ruth- the first true superstar in American sports.
  • Muhammad Ali- whether it was his epic fights or his historic anti-war stance, Ali captivated American culture.
  • Jesse Owens- the guy was the most dominant athlete of the 1936 Olympic Games in Nazi Germany. He dismayed and humiliated the most awful dictator of his times, a man who would have killed him.
  • Hank Aaron- he broke Babe Ruth’s records, and did it in the 1970’s Deep South.

That’s my list. There are actually better athletes. There are other close calls. But these are the most groundbreaking., in my opinion.

About Me, Again

Do you remember life before the internet?

From a purely technical standpoint, no. The internet existed in 1983. Most of us just weren’t on it then. Prodigy and America Online started to become a thing when I was a child, and really took off. They kind of hit their pinnacle when I was a teen, and then were gradually replaced by the “search engine period.” Today, obviously everyone is online all the time with smartphones. Basically the internet is now ever present.

I think what this question really is- were you around before people lived their whole lives online? When kids didn’t grow up with smartphones, when you couldn’t look up literally anything in a few seconds, when you called friends instead of texting or messaging, pre-social media, etc. The answer to that question is yes.

America Thinks The System Sucks

I pulled out of the gym parking lot earlier and got behind a truck with the license plate “MAGA USA.” As I do almost every time I see someone with Trump gear, I reminded myself this isn’t normal. I don’t fly a Biden or Obama flag on my house. My license plate isn’t about Bill Clinton. This is cult behavior. It’s also literally unique to the last seven years. I constantly remind myself that a majority of Republicans disapproved of Donald Trump when he entered the 2016 race. MAGA is bigger than the man that leads it, or Ron DeSantis, or Mike Pence. Absolutely none of the “serious” people seem to get why it happened though.

Within the “establishment” circles (I hate that word), there is a fundamental belief that our system, the post World Wars “order” that organizes our world, has been a rousing success. There’s pretty good evidence of that. Statistically it’s hard to argue. Americans live in a nation that enjoys a remarkable standard of living. Our market economy creates unheard of wealth. Our military is the strongest in world history. Poverty exists here, but it’s mild compared to much of the world. There are instances of failure, but we mostly have clean running water, solid schools (elite higher ed institutions), safe streets thanks to police, fire fighters, and other civil defenses, paved roads, remarkable innovation in the technology sector, and a basically free society (for now). By most big picture metrics, we live in a great time, in a great nation. For the most part, the entirety of official “establishment” Washington (and state capitols) holds this to be true. The Bush Republican Party would argue this is a credit to an innovative and free market, as well as a strong national defense. The Democratic Party would say that an active government role in our economy and advancements in the rights of the marginalized got us here. Regardless of why, both are all too happy to say “the state of our union is strong,” every year.

The problem is that a gigantic chunk of our society doesn’t agree. This is how MAGA went from a ridiculous slob riding down an escalator to having completely engulfed and replaced the Republican Party with a movement, then winning a national election. It also explains a third of the Democratic Party voting for a self-avowed socialist the last two elections. There are a vast number of Americans suddenly willing to “blow up the system” in recent years. Barack Obama left office vastly popular for a second term incumbent, and yet a sizable minority of the public wanted to take a blow torch to Washington. They almost re-elected the dumpster fire in 2020. They put that mess in charge of the U.S. House with a clear majority of the votes in 2022. The dissonance shocked a lot of people. Perhaps it shouldn’t have.

Polling says the public has felt we’re on the wrong track since at least 2008, and in reality since 9/11, with few exceptions. American households (and individuals) are saddled with unheard of personal debt for most of the big ticket items needed in adult life- education, cars, homes. Americans are working more hours than ever, but they’re not getting union rights like past generations, or overtime pay, pensions, and employer benefits like they did in the past. Low skill labor went from good paying factory jobs to Walmart wages. Opioid addiction, and addictions in general, are an epidemic that is literally killing Americans of all political stripes. Record numbers of grandparents are raising children. The majority of marriages are ending in divorce. Mass shootings are the norm, not an exception. Institutions from the Catholic Church to the military have been engulfed in humiliating and unthinkable scandals. The banks took advantage of us, and got bailed out. Bernie Madoff and Enron defrauded us, and we seemingly got no recourse. If you add up all the folks who lost in all of these “micro aggressions” within our society, you understand why a majority of Americans think we’re going in the wrong direction, regardless of what the macro statistics say. Even dumb things like inflation just compound this feeling.

With all of that working against “normalcy,” it shouldn’t be shocking that a lot of people are willing to believe in any conspiracy, and vote for a complete circus clown. Like I say about sports all the time, sometimes that stats are misleading. That is where we are. The people in the government, the press, the lobbyists, they have statistics that show the country runs well. They then go solve issues that don’t really connect with a huge chunk of the public. The public then thinks the system doesn’t work for them. And they look for change, even if it makes little sense to “the village.” (My term for DC) Then “the Village” collectively tells them how horrible MAGA or Dem populism is, and the public largely shrugs, because they already think everything is a hellscape. If nothing is good now, what’s so bad? Still other voters see Trump for the shitbag he is, but like the idea of upheaval in DC, and among policy “elites.” For many folks, just “disturbing the peace” in the system is an improvement on the system. That disdain for the status quo is driving the bus right now.

We are entering a third Presidential election in a row where MAGA Trumpism is dominating the GOP, the party it first cannibalized with it’s rage. From the moment Jeb(!) Bush was humiliated on stage as “low energy Jeb,” the Republican Party ceased to be small government and neoconservatism, even if the policy positions didn’t change instantly. The cult is going to increasingly demand their party represents the things they want, no matter how stupid they sound. This is why you see the increased emphasis on culture wars and extracting pain from the elites they don’t like (on both sides). The Democratic Party has managed to mostly avoid the same fate from the DSA left, but 15 years of being governed by Obama era politics is a historically long period for a party to stay in it’s paradigm. Congress is largely dysfunctional at this point, but you already see the rage creeping in with “oversight” hearings where the majority party calls in the target of their rage and yells at them for a few hours, then the topic usually dies off to the back burner. This rage politic is dripping into the functionality of our government. We literally almost defaulted on our national debt this week, and exactly what real policy positions were being fought over is only marginally clear. Most of the public doesn’t even know. Rage at the opponents has infected our politics absolutely.

All of this is not to say that I think voting for Trump, or DeSantis, or Pence, or any other MAGA figure makes any sense or is a good thing. It’s more to say that the first order of business in 2024 should be defeating this version of the GOP once and for all. Then it’s time for “the serious people” in Washington to realize the status quo is not great in America. A growing market, strong military, stable currency, and elections every two years isn’t going to cut it. Hopefully enough people will appreciate that President Biden rescued us from a dysfunctional train wreck, one more time. Then the question will become what comes next. What politician has their ear closest to Main Street, ready to answer the real questions facing America? I just pray it’s not a book banner.

About Me, pt.2

What is your favorite restaurant?

Well this is hard… do I want a cheesesteak? Italian? Chinese food? Seafood? Mexican? My mood swings a lot. My favorite food does too.

Locally I’d say the Vineyard and Terry’s are my favorite Italian places. Daddy’s Place in Easton is my favorite for Lebanese/Mediterranean food. Sette Luna in downtown Easton is a great place for a Mediterranean/Italian experience. Tacos y Tequila is my go to for Mexican. Pat’s Steaks is my go to for a cheesesteak. Honeygrow is another Philly favorite. For some New Orleans style food here in Easton, Two Rivers and Bayou are great. Oak makes a great steak. I’m for any seafood.

I’m never above Bojangles or KFC.

Questions About Me, pt.1

Describe one positive change you have made in your life.

Recently, it’s been drinking less alcohol and way more water. I’m not interested in absolutely quitting alcohol, but I’m trying to limit the number of days I consume it per week. On the other side of this, I never drank much water until the last couple of years, and even then it was sporadic. I’m now drinking 50 glasses per week, up from 40 last month, and I will continue to increase that. One thing that recently increased my concern with drinking water was word that one of the physical issues Senator Fetterman was suffering from was dehydration, which got him hospitalized. I’m only a few years younger than him and would prefer to avoid that.

Longer term, the biggest change I made was empathizing with people not like me. Born a middle class, straight, white man, I needed to realize many people experience very different things in life, and those experiences are every bit as valuable to society as a whole. The more people matter, the better off we all are.

Weekly Thoughts, 4/10-4/16

If you think someone has a shitty opinion about an issue, and also that they’re not a very big deal, you don’t attack them and elevate their stature. That’s my main thought about the political events in Tennessee over the past week. State Representatives Justin Jones and Justin Pearson were relative nobodies in the grand political scheme of things when they protested the legislatures lack of action on gun violence. They were young legislators, lacking in seniority needed to pass legislation. They served in a deep minority in the Tennessee House, unable to find the votes to pass their ideas. If the GOP leadership had simply ignored them, their protest would have just come and gone. Instead the Majority in the Tennessee House made them national figures. And one is already back in less than a week.

In politics, not all actions need a reaction.


On Saturday, my Sixers will start their NBA Eastern Conference Quarterfinal against the Brooklyn Nets. What a difference 82 games makes. If you said this would be the outcome on Opening Night, people would have been excited about the ultimate NBA grudge match between a star-studded Nets team that had former Sixer cornerstone Ben Simmons, and the Embiid/Harden Sixers. Instead the stars are gone in Brooklyn and Simmons is basically shut down because he sucks at basketball, so everyone is picking the Sixers to win.

The danger in this series for the Sixers is that the Nets have actually played better team basketball after trading away Kyrie and Durant. The Sixers still should roll these guys in five games, on paper, but the Nets aren’t playing on paper. The Sixers will go as far as Tyrese Maxey and Tobias Harris take them, as we all know Embiid is the best player on the court every night and Harden had a certifiably excellent season playing in a floor general role. If Doc Rivers can get the offense to make sense the way it did from December until mid-March, the Sixers will win an NBA title. If not, they can lose in any round. As is, I’m saying Sixers win the series in between four and six games. Oh, and Joel Embiid is the real league MVP, again.

👑 🏀🔔.


I have one month left in my 30’s, as I write this. That’s kinda weird to write, but it’s also just like every other milestone was. Sometimes we get too caught up in self reflection, and I’ve done more of that than I wanted. So instead I’m going to highlight some of my favorite music.

I’ve made some Apple Music 🍏 🎶 lists of my favorite songs. Here are my first four:

Volume 1-

Volume 2-

Volume 3-

Volume 4-


So this happened in last night’s Philadelphia Mayoral debate:

Jeff Brown will correctly take a beating for this answer, but for the wrong reasons. On paper, the substance of the issue is simple- Philadelphia *will* send trash somewhere (no matter how conservationist the Mayor is), typically to a site or town that *gets paid* to take it (this is tricky, but there’s always some form of reward for someone), and it’s the mayor’s job to figure out the best deal for it. It happens to Chester in this case, a poor and mostly Black nearby city, and there is racism and classism all over the issue. On substance though, Brown is not wrong- it will go somewhere and he’s asking to represent the Philadelphia people.

The problem with his answer though is it gives us a view into his world view, AND it shows us how little thought he has put into one of his cornerstone issues. Brown talks about trash collection all the time but his only plan is to put the dumping site contract(s) out to bid. Really? It’s an empty suit answer. More importantly, it shows a truly corporate mentality in his thinking about services. He speaks about the issue as though his only obligation is to his “client,” Philadelphia residents, and not at all to people that literally live a couple of minutes away in a neighboring town. Are those not people? Clearly he doesn’t view them as “paying customers,” or his concern. City residents should wonder if he really views all of them as “paying customers” either, when it comes to them vs. the developers, or on policing reforms, the environment, or a whole host of other issues. Generally a completely corporate view of the world doesn’t end at one issue. Many will condemn his answer on a fairness level, and say he’s racist. I’ll simply say the answer suggests he’s unserious and inhumane.


I just want to put a pin in the issue of college sports realigning. Here is the current college football alignment at the Division 1 level. This is the most fascinating non-important issue in the country to me. The SEC and Big Ten are set to continue to be fine, with the SEC being loaded with elite programs and the Big Ten set to become a coast-to-coast conference. The Big 12 list it’s two “blue bloods” to the SEC, but recovered nicely to add a couple of East Coast programs and now seems primed to move west in it’s additions, going national. The PAC 12 seems immediately doomed to me. Why would Oregon or Washington not bolt to the Big Ten if in fact the next PAC 12 TV deal pays out less than half the Big Ten deal? Why would Colorado, Utah, and the Arizonas not bolt for a bigger pay day in the Big 12? If those six leave, Stanford isn’t hanging around if it doesnt have to. Maybe Cal does, but I wouldn’t bet my life on it. So basically I’m saying Oregon State and Washington State are going somewhere new. That leaves the ACC, which I think is on pace for a slower death right now. Georgia Tech must look really good to the Big Ten and Big 12. Everyone wants Clemson. Florida State and Miami are attractive adds. Who wouldn’t want Duke and UNC? Virginia Tech will get calls. If the ACC can finally bring in Notre Dame, it will survive as is, and flourish. If not, my guess is it survives without some of it’s key members, and adds some AAC type teams. It could just die though.

Speculating is fun.


The Phillies are 4-7 at this juncture, basically because they forgot to show up the first weekend. Honestly, it’s April. I have a hard time getting worked up, however the injury situation is a little concerning. If they get a win today, this was a pretty good home stand.

Around the league the hot teams out the shoot are the Rays and Brewers. Neither of them is illegitimate, so we’ll see if they hold up.

I thought I’d hate the pitch clock, and thought I’d love getting rid of the shift. Turns out I like both. I love that the shift bans has negated the the spreadsheet nerds a bit. Honestly, I like the faster games though. So far, so good.


Let me close by going on the record in the first of these- Donald Trump will win the GOP nomination for President, and he won’t fall below 45.5% in the general election. Book it.


Happy Opening Day ⚾️

Happy Opening Day of Baseball, the day that Astros and Nationals fans alike can feel excited and good about their 0-0 teams. Sure, one team is excited to see prospects arrive in town and the other is raising a championship banner, but what’s the difference? From sea to shining sea, fans have good reasons to put on their team’s hat and feel good. May we all enjoy it.

For Phillies fans like me, we’ve been waiting for today since November 5th. It’s an exciting time to be a fan of the 2022 National League Champions. We welcome newcomers like Turner, Walker, Soto, Kimbrel, and Strahm. We put a blue flag up in center field. We should be a very good team, again. On paper, a playoff team. Maybe a division winner. Maybe another trip to the Fall Classic. Maybe a World Championship. They’re all maybes though, 162 games away. You don’t get to start ahead because of last year. You start all over again.

Anyone who thinks they’re good at predictions is a G*d damned liar. Baseball season is longer and more unpredictable than any other American pro sport. Last year I said the Phillies would bash their way to 90+ wins and an NLCS loss to the Dodgers. Then a long season for Castellanos, a fired manager, major injuries to Harper and Segura, and a bunch of other stuff happened. The Phillies won 87 games and finished third in their division, becoming literally the last team to slide into the playoffs. Then they proceed to steamroll St. Louis, Atlanta, and San Diego on their way to an NL Pennant. Did you pick Aaron Judge to go yard 62 times and win the AL MVP? I doubt it. So many things can and will happen in the next six months. Even if you get a pick or two right, you’d look bad if we made you show your work. No matter how many analytics we have, some things defy our expectations.

And yet I’m going to go ahead out there and throw some ignorant predictions out into existence anyway. Just because it’s fun. Just so some idiot with a spreadsheet can laugh and call me stupid. Honestly, the evidence will say they’re right.

So we’ll start in the AL, where I’ll call Houston (west), Chicago (central), and Toronto (east) as my division winners. I’ll take the Yankees, Guardians, and Mariners as my Wild Cards. I’ll pin my top five in the AL MVP race as Guerrero, Ramirez, Trout, Alvarez, and Rodriguez. The AL Cy Young will go to Cole over Ray, Valdez, Bieber, and De Grom. The AL Rookie of the year will go to Gunnar Henderson of Baltimore. Pedro Grifol of Chicago will be AL Manager of the Year. I’m picking the Cleveland Guardians to win the pennant.

In the NL I’m going to make sure I jinx the Mets (east), Brewers (central), and Dodgers (west) by picking them to win divisions. I’ll take the Phillies, Padres, and Braves to win Wild Cards. I’m picking Acuna to win the NL MVP narrowly over Freeman, Machado, Betts, and Lindor. I’m going with Scherzer to edge out Urias, Verlander, Nola, and Fried for the Cy Young. I’m picking Jordan Walker to win Rookie of the Year for St. Louis. Of course Buck Showalter will win Manager of the Year, he’s a genius. And of course, I’m again going to pick the Los Angeles Dodgers to win the pennant over the Phillies, because that pick turned out okay last year.

Just because I want the world to burn, I’m picking the Cleveland Guardians. Yes guys, to win the World Series.

Some other fun picks for you- Bryce Harper plays first base. Shohei Ohtani is traded to the Mets and leads them in a come from behind division win, passing the Braves and holding off the Phillies, then leaves after the season anyway to go to the Dodgers. Baltimore plays an absurd number of 10-8 games. Arizona finishes ahead of San Francisco. Jacob de Grom makes 26 starts. Pittsburgh finishes ten games better than Washington. Oakland announces their move to Las Vegas. Chicago has two top ten MVP and Cy Young finishers in the AL, but nobody in the top five. Aaron Judge hits 42 homers.

These picks are literally just the first things that popped into my mind. I have no idea.

Play ball ⚾️!

Nobody Should Be Afraid of Little Ronnie DeSantis in 2024

To hear some tell it, both Joe Biden and Donald Trump should be very afraid of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis in 2024. The guy who narrowly beat a weak opponent in 2018, with Trump’s unequivocal help, supposedly proved himself by beating a horribly underfunded ex-Republican in a low turnout race in Florida. Pardon my skepticism, but Ron DeSantis is just the latest empty suit GOP Governor we’ll be talking about in a trivia game in ten years. He’s a joke.

There is a portion of the Republican primary electorate that wants to nominate a MAGA Republican without Trump’s baggage. They’re fine with the xenophobia and ignorance, they just think it should be someone not named Trump. For them, Ron DeSantis is the shiny object. He’s a Florida Governor, so they assume he’ll keep Florida safely red while being stronger in other Sun Belt swing states. He bans books, rails against any talk of diversity, preaches isolation politics, and generally satisfies their fetish for “owning the libs.” He’s Trump without Trump, or as we would say at a South Philly cheesesteak establishment, “wiz witout.”

DeSantis also meets the catnip requirement for the DC GOP consultant class too. He’s a Governor. Like Jeb, Kasich, Romney, Pawlenty, Perry, Huckabee, Jindal, Huntsman, or currently Haley is. Everyone of them were underwhelming, even borderline terrible candidates. They all lost. In the last 50 years only two GOP Governors (Reagan and Dubya) won the White House, but yet the DC GOP class thinks an extensive, conservative executive policy record is attractive to the public. Reality suggests the Scott Walkers of the world have little to no appeal.

Little Ronnie DeSantis is a 5-foot-nothing Napoleon Wannabe. He’s Trump with none of the sizzle, or as I call him, Trump Zero. He got elected because the Democrats weren’t smart enough to nominate Gwen Graham, and basically re-elected by default. He’s an election denier, a book banner, rails against “woke” policy, and would be fine surrendering Eastern Europe to Putin, but he lacks Trump’s celebrity and off-the-cuff name calling ability that his crowds love. The guy is an egomaniac being fulfilled by finally being “important” for the first time in his life. I’m not a Trump guy, but DeSantis is the 1979 Pinto/Welfare version of Trump, his political skills laughable next to Dubya or Reagan. This guy can’t turn out the GOP base like Trump. Biden will beat him like a drum, if the GOP is crazy enough to nominate him.

Activists and engaged primary voters often are looking for someone that fills the voids their last losing nominee lacked. Republicans engaging in the polls right now think DeSantis can be their “America First” savior, without the baggage. Kind of like Elizabeth Warren was a smart woman like Hillary Clinton, but was easier for progressive voters to accept, so she was going to be 2020’s “silver bullet” to Trump. She ended up finishing 4th with Black voters in Massachusetts in her home state primary. Warren had little appeal to the broader primary electorate, let alone general election voters. Ron DeSantis is the 2024 GOP Primary’s version of Warren 2020. I don’t see what early state he wins to even get started, he just sounds like a good idea in the abstract to activists who don’t want to take an introspective look at why they lost last time. Mike Pence with Iowa or Chris Christie with New Hampshire have a better shot than this guy.

Ron DeSantis isn’t scary to Democrats or even Trump in 2024. The only people who should be afraid of him are people living in Florida under this maniac.

Identifying in our Politics

We’ve more than crossed the tipping point. The more you know of a person’s race, gender, vaccination status, town of residence, religious activism, if they wear a mask, or education level, you can say what political party they are. They hunt? Republican. They have a doctoral degree? Probably a Democrat. You’ll be wrong some times. Maybe a Latino from Texas or Florida is more likely to be Republican than a Latino in California, but even there the geography informs you. If we get two or three data points we can be 75% sure of your party.

It shouldn’t be a shock that if we can use your identity to predict how you vote this well, politics is a divisive thing in America. We live in an era where people are more invested in their personal “brands” than ever, and they like to advertise their identity. A Trump flag on your house, a mask on your face, or even just what neighborhood you’re living in is a way to advertise your brand. In a “smaller,” more interconnected world created through the internet, we tend to find the people most like us, and part of how we do that is virtue signaling our beliefs and values. In doing so, we’re also telling some people we’re not interested in having them be a part of our lives. We’re a part of the “community” we told you we’re a part of with the Ukrainian flag, or #BackTheBlue, or hammer and sickle in our profile- so stay away if you don’t agree.

It’s pretty obvious this brand, identity driven politics is divisive. People voting for the opposite side are quite literally rejecting our identity as a person. It’s not just that the other side has bad ideas, their existence is offensive now. People wonder why moderates are going extinct in public office, but the truth is kind of obvious- many active Democrats really hate Joe Manchin and think he is of nefarious ideals, and Republicans in many places feel the same about Lisa Murkowski and Mitt Romney. In fact, one could argue the party base hates moderation from their own even more than they hate the other side. This manifests itself in Democrats who are certain Donald Trump would be in jail by now if Merrick Garland wanted to make him be, or Republicans who think “Q” is going to come remove Joe Biden for stealing the election.

There is an increasing identity wrapped up in how voters view the political parties, but if us going further and further into every day life. Very, very few places are politically competitive, because Americans are “self sorting” into communities that think and live like themselves. America’s cities have a strong leftward tilt because left identifying people moved in and right-leaning people don’t want to live there. Rural areas trend even more red, because progressive minded people find less and less of interest there. Suddenly rural Colorado and Georgia are electing Boebert and MTG and Queens and Detroit are electing AOC and Rashida Tlaib. Most of America doesn’t even live in a politically competitive place, and know less and less people who disagree with them.

When MTG talked last week about a “national divorce,” she was simply doubling down on her divisive political brand, but it’s pretty much happening around us. We’re sorting ourselves away from each other. Our tolerance for people on the other side is disappearing from our political consciousness. Ron DeSantis is building a Presidential campaign on banning books, but Tennessee is one upping him by banning drag shows. Increasingly it’s hard to live in a place where you are a political minority, because things you want to do in your life are not being allowed by the majority. Identity is our politics now, and it is way more complex than simply race, gender, sexuality, or other demographic traits- it’s literally how we live.