The MLB Season Preview

It’s Opening Day! Well, technically the Seattle Mariners are already up a couple games on the Oakland A’s from last week’s Tokyo games, but for the rest of the league, today’s games mark the beginning. A few things stand out to me on this Opening Day.

  1. Not a single player on an active roster today was playing Major League Baseball in the 20th Century. This means that this season is the first season in which the “steroid era” is officially the past.
  2. Toronto Blue Jays Rule 5 pick Elvis Luciano will become the first player born in the year 2000. Fernando Tatis Jr. made the Padres and is all of 20. Obligatory mention of Acuna and Soto here. Youth is here around baseball.
  3. Bryce Harper’s era in Philadelphia begins today. So does J.T. Realmuto’s, Jean Segura’s, Andrew McCutchen’s, and David Robertson’s. Aaron Nola begins his four year extension. Rhys Hoskins moves back to first base. In short, after their “super team” off-season, the Phillies have their best team since 2011, and are back to contention.
  4. Despite the crazy money that was thrown around this off-season, Dallas Keuchel and Craig Kimbrel don’t have teams yet. Keuchel who pitched game one of the 2017 World Series, and Kimbrel who was the closer for the 2018 World Series Champions. In a purely baseball world, both could improve literally any roster. But this is a business. We’re seeing that play out here.
  5. Excitement in San Diego! Manny Machado is their’s. Fernando Tatis Jr. is there. They still have the top minor league system in the game.

Overview

Despite the madness of the off-season, what changed in the American League? On paper, Boston and Houston are the best two teams in baseball, still. The New York Yankees line-up and the Cleveland Indians rotation are the best two challenges to those two. Oakland and Tampa Bay have two of the best low-budget squads that one can put together. Those six teams are likely to be the six teams to watch. The Angels could be relevant, and the Twins and White Sox can hope their young talent clicks, but all three are long shots. In Baltimore, Kansas City, Texas, Toronto, Detroit, and Seattle, it’s a rebuilding year at best.

The National League on the other hand is looking pretty wide open. The Dodgers get to enter as favorites, but had a less than inspiring off-season. Watch for the Rockies to give the Dodgers fits. The National League East is looking like a four wide race between Atlanta, Washington, Philadelphia, and New York. The National League Central is a very compelling race that figures to feature the defending champion Brewers, the recent kingpin Cubs, the heavily improved Cardinals and Reds, and last year’s surprising young Pirates (yes, I’m giving every team in that division a shot). You can argue that every NL city has at least some reason for optimism today, which is rare.

So with that in mind, my predictions…

AMERICAN LEAGUE

East

  1. Boston Red Sox 101-61*
  2. New York Yankees 97-65*
  3. Tampa Bay Rays 94-68*
  4. Toronto Blue Jays 70-92
  5. Baltimore Orioles 61-101

Central

  1. Cleveland Indians 86-76*
  2. Chicago White Sox 76-86
  3. Minnesota Twins 74-88
  4. Detroit Tigers 64-98
  5. Kansas City Royals 60-102

West

  1. Houston Astros 100-62*
  2. Oakland A’s 88-74
  3. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 82-80
  4. Texas Rangers 72-90
  5. Seattle Mariners 68-94

NATIONAL LEAGUE

East

  1. Washington Nationals 94-68*
  2. Philadelphia Phillies 92-70*
  3. Atlanta Braves 88-74
  4. New York Mets 82-80
  5. Miami Marlins 60-102

Central

  1. Milwaukee Brewers 92-70*
  2. St. Louis Cardinals 90-72
  3. Chicago Cubs 85-77
  4. Cincinnati Reds 78-84
  5. Pittsburgh Pirates 76-86

West

  1. Colorado Rockies 91-71*
  2. Los Angeles Dodgers 90-72*
  3. San Diego Padres 74-88
  4. San Francisco Giants 68-94
  5. Arizona Diamondbacks 64-98

PLAYOFFS

Dodgers over the Cardinals in a one game playoff.

AL Wild Card- Yankees over the Rays

NL Wild Card- Phillies over the Dodgers

ALDS- Yankees over the Red Sox 3-2, Astros over the Indians 3-2

NLDS- Phillies over the Nationals 3-1, Brewers over the Rockies 3-2

ALCS- Astros over the Yankees 4-2

NLCS- Phillies over the Brewers 4-3

WORLD SERIES- Astros over the Phillies 4-2

INDIVIDUAL AWARDS

AL MVP- Aaron Judge

NL MVP- Nolan Arrenado

AL Cy Young- Chris Sale

NL Cy Young- Max Scherzer

AL Rookie of the Year- Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

NL Rookie of the Year- Fernando Tatis Jr.

AL Manager of the Year- Aaron Boone

NL Manager of the Year- Dave Martinez

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Trout Fishing Hits Big in LA

Mike Trout did a smart thing yesterday- he signed a ten year contract extension that will guarantee him $426.5 million over the next twelve years. While I certainly wanted him to reach free agency and come home to Philadelphia, I cannot make a economic argument that opposes taking $426.5 million in guaranteed cash for a 27 year-old.

There are plenty of hot takes about who won and lost here. The Phillies, Bryce Harper, and every team that waited this Winter on signing a superstar have been declared losers. The Angels and Trout have been declared winners. I think most of these takes are basically wrong.

I’m not sure how the Phillies “lost” here. They had an off-season for the ages. Yes, they landed a generational talent in Bryce Harper, and universally are considered to have done so at a team friendly price. They landed a multi-time All-Star shortstop in Jean Segura, who gives you 200 hits and a huge improvement at a position where they stunk last year. They got arguably baseball’s best catcher in J.T. Realmuto, and like Segura got him on more than a one year rental. Lost in the shuffle of those guys is former NL MVP Andrew McCutchen, who provides a veteran bat and wildly improved left-field defense to upgrade this team. In David Robertson, the Phillies signed one of the most consistent late-inning relievers in baseball over the past decade. They extended Aaron Nola for four years. They did all of this with prospects and payroll to spare. While they won’t get their shot at Trout, I guess that shows you the wisdom in going big with Harper now. They still have payroll space to lock in some of their other core players. They’re in very good shape to contend for the playoffs now.

How did Bryce Harper lose here either? His career earnings will end up in the $400 million range, thanks to his $330 million deal with the Phillies, enough money to live on. He signed with a franchise committed to winning and spending money. He signed a big contract, but one that offers the club room to continue to improve. He’ll play in a hitters ballpark, one that he has succeeded in previously, and one that should help his career numbers. He signed with a team who’s core players are basically in his age range. He signed in one of the biggest markets in the country, which has a lot to offer.

I think Mike Trout did great here, but let’s not pretend his decision is totally beyond reproach. Staying with the Angels basically is co-signing to continue his relative anonymity as a superstar. He’s played three playoff games in his career so far, despite his multiple MVPs and All-Star Games. His club is still saddled with bad contracts, like Albert Pujols’ deal, for a while. Shohei Otani already has major injury issues. They lack pitching. Their minor league system has continuously been bottom tier since Trout’s arrival. How do the Angels improve their system or payroll situation by throwing a record-breaking contract at Trout now? Trout has not managed to outshine the crosstown Dodgers so far in his career, so how does his extension change their status as the “B team” in LA? The deal is long enough for them to work in, and I don’t think it’s an overpay, so I won’t rip the Angels here. It also does give them certainty on keeping their star, and at what cost they’ll pay him, but it doesn’t change who they are either. Signing Harper probably did more for the Phillies long-term trajectory than this extension does on it’s own for the Angels. With all of this said, Trout and the Angels both do win here. There was no trade of Trout that would make baseball or PR sense, and losing him to free agency would have been crippling. And he’s crazy wealthy now.

The real losers here? All the teams that didn’t go out and get themselves a star this off-season. The Phillies, Angels, and Padres should take a victory lap for getting their centerpieces. The Dodgers lost the last two World Series, but did nothing to get over the top here. The Cubs window to win with their current group is growing older. The Yankees didn’t do anything huge in their quest to catch Boston and Houston with their current 100 win roster. You could mostly say the same for Cleveland. The Mets didn’t try to keep up as the Phillies transformed their line-up and the Nationals assembled possibly baseball’s best rotation, and even worse, haven’t extended either of their ace pitchers yet. Meanwhile players like Bregman and Arrenado signed extensions that take them off the free agency market for future seasons. The chances to land a major free agent and change the direction of a team are slimming. Premium talent will only get more expensive on the free agency market.

So for what it’s worth, I don’t agree with most of the hot-take commentary around Trout’s contract. While I’m sad the Phillies won’t get a shot at him, I can’t say Trout, the Angels, or the Phillies lost here. The losers are the teams who stood pat.

Why You Should Support Millionaire Athletes

The rookie minimum salary in Major League Baseball is a shade over $500,000. For the first three years of a baseball player’s major league career, they don’t really have any negotiating rights at all on their salary, and can’t shop their services to any other team in the league. After that, they are eligible for binding arbitration with the team for three or four more years, before they can reach free agency. While MLB contracts are fully guaranteed in most cases, that doesn’t mean most players will ever get to negotiate one. The average career span is 5.6 years, while it takes six to seven years to reach free agency. While we think of the huge contracts for ballplayers, when we think salary, the average salary is only about $4 million a year. One in five position players make it only one year. A large chunk of ballplayers neither play 5.6 years or make $4 million. MLB made $10.3 billion in 2018. Player salaries seem to be taking up about 50% of league’s profit. Of course, an increasing amount of that money is going towards signing young players abroad, and it also depends on if you count revenue from MLB Advanced Media and the MLB Network. If you do, players may be getting a 43% share of revenues. On the contrary, players are getting closer to 55% if you count minor league pay, benefits, and playoff bonuses.

Ok, I just threw a lot at you, so what does it mean? If players got 55% of that $10.3 billion, they got roughly $5.67 billion. Those poor owners got $4.63 billion then by comparison, before their MLB Advance Media money and their two-thirds cut of MLB Network. By my rough math, that’s another $2.9 billion, going by Scott Boras projections of the market. So owners are bringing home about $7.53 billion, in rough math. That’s about $1.9 billion more than the players. But who’s counting?

Of course, all of this misses a key point- there are roughly 1,200 players on 40 man rosters at any given time, and about 7,500 to 8,000 active, MLB affiliated players at a time, splitting up their $5.67 billion. Again, the average major leaguer is making $4 million a year- there are 30 owners/ownership groups splitting up $7.52 billion, making a cool $250 million (roughly), every year. Yes, they’re making the entirety of the “original” Texas A-Rod contract, annually, on the average for each club. Every four years, they’re pulling a billion in revenue. Most owners and majority partners are already billionaires or damn close. The average team is valued at $1.3 billion. That means an owner can get access to a lot more capital because owning a team. In other words, it’s nice to be a ballplayer, but it’s great town a team.

Most people don’t get that difference though- they view both players and owners as “rich.” $4 million a year average salary, over 5.6 years (absolutely no one hits both of these averages together) is $24.4 million, pre-tax, and that seems like a lot, to them. It might seem small next to $250 million a year for an average club share of the revenue, but what’s the difference in these two numbers, really? Well, I’ll leave that Twitter to explain.

A team’s average share of one year’s MLB revenue is over ten times as much as the average career’s worth of money at the current average salary. Just consider that. In two years, a team would make more on average revenue than the projected Bryce Harper contracts. The gap between the two sides is that dramatic. The capital is exponentially more valuable than the labor in baseball. In baseball, let alone the NFL. This is the sport that is supposedly better to it’s players than football. In fact, you would find similar results in the NBA, NHL, and NFL if you did the math I did above.

In other words, don’t defend the owners when MLB players complain about the slow free agency this year, or allege collusion among the teams to keep salaries down. “The product,” as the NFL refers to it’s players, is producing record profits in the billions, across all sports, but is splitting about half the money up among the whole league. I get it, it’s tempting to complain when you see a really average bench piece in the NBA get a three year, $40 million deal, but don’t- that’s what a relatively fair market says they deserve. They’re producing billions in economic activity for the league and cities they play in. Meanwhile the owners are getting their cities and states to finance their stadiums. While making huge profits.

Just a thought.

One Month of Christmas, Day 1

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Good evening, it’s Sunday, November 25th, 2018. Today is exactly one month until Christmas, the first day of my month of random thoughts on lots of subjects.

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No, don’t just “stick to baseball.”

Major League Baseball gave money to Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), the appointed Mississippi Senator and neo-Confederate darling. They gave her $5,000 at a recent event, ahead of Tuesday’s run-off election between her and former Congressman and Clinton Administration Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy. The donation itself is not shocking or abnormal, MLB actually has significant federal policy issues that it is engaged in. The donation came ahead of Hyde-Smith’s positive comments about attending a public hanging, or pictures of her in a Confederate hat. MLB has since asked for their money back, joining several corporate titans.

Several national baseball writers have chosen to cover the story. Some of them have even chosen to editorialize on the subject. This has annoyed some sports fans, either because they “don’t want to read about politics,” or because they actually have no issue with Hyde-Smith. They are taking to Twitter and telling writers to “stick to baseball/sports.”

They couldn’t be more wrong.

You have the right to decide you don’t care about MLB aiding a racist Senate candidate. You even have the right to agree with it. You don’t have the right to sweep it under the rug. Major League Baseball wrote a check to a candidate who said she would gladly go to a “public hanging”- as Senator from Mississippi, of all states. She said voter suppression against Democrats, which in Mississippi is almost synonymous with African-Americans, was fine. And now we have pictures of her wearing the Confederate flag. Yes, baseball fans needed to know about the contribution. Then it’s on us to judge it. Fortunately (for whatever reason), MLB did the right thing. The writers were right to put it out there.

Sadly, I think this will all help her win.

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Cash Rules Everything Around Me

The best four college football teams in the country are Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame, and Georgia. I don’t think it’s close after that. Michigan was wildly and ridiculously overrated, and thankfully we won’t have to hear how they are better than Notre Dame anymore, despite losing to Notre Dame.

Unfortunately, Georgia is likely to lose to Alabama in the SEC title game this week, knocking them out of the playoffs, and opening up the fourth spot. This will likely cause a dispute between Oklahoma and Ohio State over who should get in. ESPN and other media outlets will push Ohio State, because Urban Meyer is a big name and Ohio State sells. They will push to jump Ohio State over Oklahoma for beating Michigan and Northwestern. All in the name of money. All to probably lose to Alabama.

Better hope Georgia wins.

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Dwight Howard

Long-time NBA star center Dwight Howard is embroiled in a strange story that involves him being in a “non-traditional” relationship, potential abuse, and a real societal question about men and their sexual identities. I have a feeling this story will get a lot more press in the coming days.

As the story goes, Dwight Howard was involved in a relationship with a person, of whom it is not clear if they are a transgender woman or a homosexual man (from what I’ve read so far, so I’m going to be very careful linguistically). When Howard’s partner found out he was engaging in sexual relations with other people (possibly prostitution, possibly sex parties, maybe even both), they ended the relationship, and Howard apparently threatened them. Then Howard’s pastor apparently tried to catfish this person and offer them money for their silence. There’s a lot to unpack here.

Obviously, there’s a real problem with Howard threatening this person to try and force their silence, and violence towards transexual and homosexual people is a problem in our society. There’s also a real societal problem that Howard felt the need to fear his private life being public. Perhaps the most disappointing thing here is that there are people trolling and mocking this story on Twitter and other social media outlets, reinforcing why people like Howard are so afraid of these kind of stories, and why they then resort to violence against homosexual and transgender people in our society. All of the bad things in this story really find their genesis in our ability to accept that other people are attracted to whoever they are attracted to, it’s all fine if the other person is an adult, and none of this is our business. Quit mocking other people for being who they are. It’s a bad look, for you.

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Putin is a Dirtbag, Reason 7,143

Russia is trying their best to start a war with the Ukraine. They apparently seized Ukrainian Navy ships off the coast of Crimea. Russian Coast Guard boats rammed the ships and took them over.

Basically, Crimea is still in dispute, but both countries had agreed in a 2003 treaty to insure free access for their ships through the Kerch Strait, a narrow body of water that connects the Black Sea to the Sea of Azov. Eastern Ukrainian ports rely on that access to get their goods in and out. Russia says the bridge there is under threat from Ukrainian radicals, so they parked a tanker under the bridge and started running inspections.

To be clear, this is Russian aggression. This is a power play by Putin to mess with Kiev, and flex his muscles. Russia is a neo-Soviet Union, and is seeking to assert control over their former “sphere of influence.” They want to cripple the Ukraine’s economy, and force them into concessions. The whole situation is really rather shameful.

9

Please allow me to introduce myself, I’m a man of wealth and taste. I’ve been around for a long, long year- stolen many a man’s soul to waste. I was around when Jesus Christ had his moment of doubt and pain. Made damn sure that Pilate washed his hands, and sealed his fate. Pleased to meet you, hope you guessed my name. But what’s puzzling you is the, nature of my game.

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I figured out something today as I was thinking- My ideological leanings are off in 2018’s politics. I’m definitely in agreement with Democrats on things like taxes, unions, reproductive rights, the environment, public education, and a host of other things. I just don’t hate Republicans like most partisan activists hate each other.

I’m trying to figure it out. I really am.

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Today’s candidate of the day is Susan Wild, the Democratic nominee in PA-7, my home district. Susan was not initially my pick back in the primary, but she is absolutely mine now. I share her political values and think she’ll vote right.

Susan is going to Washington to make sure Lehigh Valley residents have access to quality health care. Her opponent will go to Washington to vote for Donald Trump’s agenda. I can’t have that from my Congressperson. Join me in donating to her here. Volunteer here.

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Today’s GOTV playlist:

  1. The Rolling Stones- Sympathy for the Devil
  2. Aerosmith- Cryin’
  3. Notorious B.I.G.- Back to Cali
  4. Oasis- Wonderwall
  5. Rancid- Timebomb

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I almost feel bad for Clayton Kershaw. For as great as we’re told he is, he quite literally can’t win the big one. Tonight he simply got out pitched- by David Price, no less. That’s David Price that three weeks ago was considered a loser in big games too, but then morphed into Mr. October.

Maybe it’s time for the Dodgers to accept what is. Clayton Kershaw and Kenley Jansen are that bad on the big stage. I’m not sure what else to say.

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Tonight’s GOTV story from the past- the year was 2013, the setting was the shadow of Gotham. It was Rockland County to be exact, the place my parents once lived before I was born. Our candidate was David Fried, now a judge in Ramapo. I was air dropped in just a couple weeks before the September primary with my “cop partner” Sally, and we won an upset for the nomination. While our cast of former Clinton Administration/Campaign hands came up like 200 votes short in the end of the Executive’s office, the late night data and beer festivals and meeting President Clinton was a thrill.

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I’ll expand on this tomorrow, but I’m calling a 2006-esque 30 seat gain for Democrats in the House, and a 225-210 Majority. That could be a problem.

10

Dear mother can you hear me laughing? It’s been six whole months since I have left your home. It makes me wonder why I’m still here. For some strange reason it’s now feeling like my home. And I’m never gonna go.

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Ten days. Tonight’s candidate of the night is Claudette Williams. Claudette is an immigrant from Jamaica, a former Sargeant Major in the Army, Mt. Pocono Councilwoman, and mother. She’s running in PA’s 176th House district, nestled in Northeast PA’s Monroe County. It’s a 51% Democratic district that Barack Obama won, but Hillary Clinton did not.

This is the kind of seat we need to win. Claudette is the kind of candidate that we need to elect. Volunteer here. Donate here.

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So I fell asleep last night with the Red Sox set to go up 3-0. Then Ian Kinsler threw a ball away and it’s the Red Sox who need to win game four.

I don’t really love either team. In fact I hope both lose. But they can’t. So let’s hope that the series stays at least competitive.

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GOTV stories from the past- tonight’s story from campaigns past is NJDSC 2012- the coordinated campaign for Bob Menendez. I had Central Jersey for the Menendez Campaign, covering Middlesex, Mercer, Monmouth, and Somerset Counties, covering the Congressional districts of Frank Pallone and Rush Holt. We won by a large margin, the largest since Bill Bradley in 1984. That’s not the main story though.

The main part of that story that is memorable was the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. I never saw destruction like that. Long Branch looked like a bomb dropped there. Our get out the vote plan was wiped out by the unprecedented damage.

The remarkable part was the recovery. We found hundreds, even thousands of paid canvassers on the campus of Rutgers, union canvassers, and even local activists. We sent buses all over the state, turning out voters just days after a catastrophe. The good old days.

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Tonight’s five GOTV songs:

  1. Green Day- Welcome to Paradise
  2. Stevie Wonder- Signed, Sealed, Delivered
  3. The Game, feat. Lil’ Wayne- My Life
  4. The Rolling Stones- Sympathy for the Devil
  5. Foo Fighters- Everlong

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My Senate projections at this point-

  • Current breakdown- GOP 51 Democrats 49
  • Potential Democratic pick-ups, in order of likelihood- Nevada, Arizona, Tennessee, Texas, Mississippi
  • Potential Republican pick-ups, in order of likelihood- North Dakota, Missouri, Florida, Indiana, Montana, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania
  • Prediction- Democrats win Nevada. Republicans win North Dakota and Missouri.
  • NEW SENATE- GOP 52 Democrats 48

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Notre Dame stayed undefeated tonight. I am quite happy. I’m unhappy they beat Navy though. I always like Navy- my grandfather was a Korean War Navy vet.

13

There are 13 days remaining in the 2018 Election, also known as less than two weeks. Information about the election appears to depict a close race. Turnout should be considerably lower than a Presidential election, despite the crucial nature of these elections. Governorships, the Senate, the U.S. House, state legislative seats, and thousands of county and local offices are at stake- but the majority of voters won’t show up. Let that sink in.

More after the jump…

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Clayton Kershaw dropped another dud in the World Series/Playoffs. The guy is going to end up with a sub-3.00 career ERA and a boatload of individual awards, but he’s about as unclutch as they come.

By the way, I know he and Sale were both less than great last night, but this trend of pulling guys early drives me nuts. If the game’s tight, at least get six innings.

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And so the bomb went off- not literally, thank God. CNN, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama all received “suspicious packages,” all of which thankfully didn’t explode. It’s a serious enough situation that even Donald Trump talked about unifying. It’s dead serious. George Soros, Eric Holder, and Maxine Waters have also been targets, and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz has been listed as a return address.

This shouldn’t be construed as a left/right thing. Donald Trump is not the “liable” party here, he’s not sending these explosives. His rhetoric is enabling nuts though, nuts of all stripes. Let’s not lose sight of the reality- Donald Trump’s dividing us, and it could be fatal for some.

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Today’s candidate of the day is Joe Donnelly. The Senator from Indiana was a surprising winner in 2012, but now is battling for his second term in Mike Pence’s home state.

Whether you believe Democrats are going to win back the Senate in 2018 or 2020, Donnelly is part of the math. Donate to him here. Volunteer for him here.

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It seems increasingly clear that the people voting early are the most motivated voters- the regular voters. In fact, Nate Silver even suggests that the election looks similar to 2014, more so than 2016.

What this suggests, as I’ve said throughout this cycle, is that 2018 is a persuasion election, not a base election, at least if your goal is electing a Democratic Speaker of the House. Get mad if you’d like at that statement, but American elections will be decided in the suburbs for some time.

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Tonight’s House projection- Democrats 232 Republicans 203.

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19

Nineteen days until the election. We’re in the teens now.

I write this post from Killington’s in Huntersville, NC. I just ordered a dozen wings and a beer. It was a long day, as I went to Raleigh last night and came back today on a supplies swap. It was a long day, but a rewarding one. You start to see the end of the tunnel out on the road when people are voting and packets are coming out. This cycle is almost over.

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You know what I never want to hear about again? Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky. It was an affair. He should not have been asked about it under oath. He should not have been impeached. He should not resigned over it- and any Senator from New York who says otherwise won’t be getting my vote in 2020. This was Hillary’s business to handle, and her’s alone.

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You know what would be horrible? A Red Sox-Dodgers World Series? Also, this Thursday Night Football game. The Arizona Cardinals don’t even look like they’re trying.

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Is Mitch McConnell trying to lose the midterms? What Senate Majority Leader discusses cutting Social Security three weeks before the midterms? How about one poised to gain seats. The battlegrounds remain in red states, where being a Democrat still *seems* to be disqualifying. Right now I’d project the GOP to pick up one-three seats.

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Tonight’s candidate of the night is NJ-5’s Josh Gottheimer. The freshman moderate from North Jersey was a bright spot in the hellscape that was 2016. He took out do-nothing Congressman Garrett in one of New Jersey’s most conservative areas.

Gottheimer winning could be important to a Democratic Majority. Donate to him here. Volunteer here.

23

Happy Sunday, October 14th, 2018. There are 23 days until the midterm elections. As the time ticks off towards zero, I am reminded that I felt great yet at this point in 2016, so let’s not worry too much about how I *feel.* As for what I see…

Let’s dive into today’s stuff…

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What if I told you a bloodbath might not be coming in the 2018 midterms? I think Democrats are going to win the House, like most people, but we may not get much beyond that. Would you believe me? How big do you think the “Blue Wave” is?

Right now, the Cook Political report says that 16 Republican seats are either likely Democratic or lean Republican. Democrats need just 23 seats to take the House and elect a Speaker. There are 29 Republican seats considered total toss-ups, and 24 that lean Republican, meaning at least 69 Republican seats are in peril right now. If the political winds tip just a bit towards the Democrats, they could have a great, great night and win 250 seats. That’s not necessarily likely though.

What is more likely is a Democratic victory much like 2006- in the 30 seat neighborhood. That would give Democrats a majority, but only with about 225 seats. That’s not a massive majority in the House (like 225-210), and that’s just one chamber. What will happen beyond the House?

The Real Clear Politics projection for the U.S. Senate is R+2 seats. RCP bases it’s projection on an average of the polls. In other words, they have Democrats losing Senate seats. They have Democrats picking up 7 or 8 Governorships, which is valuable, but it’s telling which ones they don’t have Democrats picking up- blue states like Massachusetts and Maryland, or “popular” ones among the Democratic base like Georgia, or worse yet, ones that really should have been ripe for the picking like Nevada. It’s worth noting that the places Democrats lead for pick-ups, like Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio, and even Michigan, are states where establishment, mainstream candidates won the primaries.

I expect Democrats to pick up several state legislatures and Governor’s mansions on election night, and to win the House. I’m less confident that Democrats will be celebrating massive majorities, and wins by candidates like Beto O’Rourke. When this is done, we will need to take stock of how much money and energy we wasted to appease our “Resistance.”

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I’ve been telling anyone who will listen for a few weeks that the Astros are going to repeat, whether any of us like that or not. Last night they handled the Red Sox, 7-2 at Fenway. Houston is just a next level team, and expecting anyone to stop their repeat seems futile to me.

The other thing that seems futile to me is expecting the National League/JV League champ to compete either. If Oakland or Cleveland, two teams sent home early in the AL, were in the NL, they would have won. The fact is that Houston, Boston, and even the Yankees, would crush the NL Champion. All three won 100 games this season, and sport elite offenses that no NL team can keep up with. The real World Series is Houston and Boston.

That’s even more true when you have Craig Counsell pulling guys throwing a shutout through 5.2 innings and Clayton Kershaw being October Kershaw. I get that the game is changing, but going straight to the bullpen in the third when Gio Gonzalez is pitching just fine will never sit right with me. Perhaps baseball is over-relying on the algorithms.

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How’s ‘Ye doin’? No, really, how is Kanye doing? The man who wrote lyrics like, “Little is known of Sierra-Leone, and how it connects to the diamonds we own,” and accused George W. Bush of not caring about black people is now spending time at the White House, hanging out with Donald Trump. It’s as though the man isn’t ok…

Kanye is one of my favorite rappers ever, present tense. The man is an artistic genius. Songs he made, songs he produced, are parts of my soul at this point, because they weren’t just very good, but they carried personal meaning in their moments in time. That’s why watching this man disintegrate into a steaming pile of trash isn’t as funny to me as it is to many others. Three years ago, Kanye and Kim were taking selfies with Hillary and Kanye was being attacked as a “reverse racist” by conservatives. Now he’s a MAGAt? Huh?!?

Part of this is clearly just about selling records, I guess. Part of it could be Kanye being changed by the fame. It’s also entirely possible, and not at all funny, that maybe this man is mentally ill, a drug addict, or both. I don’t know how to explain it though.

It’s important that we don’t treat Kanye’s outrageous behavior as legitimate though. This isn’t the same as his old buddy Taylor Swift telling people to vote, and to vote for a specific candidate. This was the screeching of a changed man, a not well man, who is completely ostracizing himself from his own fan base, while talking about how time is a construct. He’s not well.

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I’m going to throw today’s candidate to watch in here, instead of last today. Today I want you to help my home candidate for the Pennsylvania State House, Amy Cozze, who is running for the 137th district in the PA House.

Amy is a mother, cancer survivor, small business owner, and activist. She believes Harrisburg doesn’t work right now, like most Pennsylvanians. Funding our schools, fixing our infrastructure, creating good paying jobs, and insuring access to affordable health care are some of her priorities. Her opponent, Rep. Joe Emrick has actively cut education funding, pushed against access to affordable health care, and opposed giving workers a living wage. We need a change.

Donate to Amy here. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook. Volunteer if you can, here.

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College football is a lot like the NBA, in that you get caught up in the storyline as a fan, even though you know Alabama/Golden State is going to win in the end. Teams fall in and out of contention throughout the season, which makes it fun to watch.

I grew up a Notre Dame fan, adopted Penn State too when I started knowing players and going up there to party, and also now like Temple, since my sister went there. My, what different paths these teams are taking.

My Fighting Irish remained unbeaten and in the top five after surviving Pitt yesterday. The biggest problem Notre Dame has is that they don’t play all ranked teams in prime time. Their worst performances this year have come against teams like Vanderbilt and Pitt- unranked power five teams that are just talented enough to be threatening, but not enough to be impressive. Even so, the Irish are still in position to get to the playoff and *maybe* break the curse of Touchdown Jesus.

Penn State’s season is finished. Losing a two score lead to Ohio State with eight minutes left at home was bad, but letting Michigan State come back and win at the end yesterday is a death blow. There will be no Big Ten title, no playoffs, nothing. They have to get it together now and win some games to get to a New Year’s Day Bowl.

Temple- yes, Temple. They were 0-2 to start, and lost to one-double-a (yes, I call it that) Villanova to open the year. Now they’re 4-3, and back in the AAC picture. Their remaining schedule is brutal- games against ranked teams like UCF and Cincinnati, to name some- but they look alright. They basically need a tough win somewhere to probably be bowl eligible.

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I’m going to close by complaining about one of my new, favorite apps from this campaign, Slack. I probably over lean on Slack to communicate with my team, but I’m not apologizing. I love Slack, except for one thing- you can’t send memes. In 2018, it should be illegal to have an app with no memes.

Someone fix this- pronto.

Random Friday Thoughts

It’s Friday. I’ve got some random thoughts. Here’s a sampling for you to read:

  • I have not watched a full possession of Eagles’ pre-season football yet, and I’m not going to. Actually going to the games is fun, but watching on TV is brutal. The starters don’t play, or don’t play hard, because they don’t need to. The back-ups are basically there to show their special teams value and get reps. This stuff is mostly unimportant, unless your team is bad.
  • I found out last night that Ronda Rousey won an Olympic medal in Judo. I had no idea. It makes sense with her fighting style, but there was little hype about it. It also means her combat sports career was far longer than I thought.
  • For my two cents, I have no problem with Jim Clyburn becoming Speaker if Nancy Pelosi can’t in January. I’m torn in my feelings about Nancy Pelosi, both holding her career and record in high esteem, and thinking she has been there so awfully long, and is a giant political liability with the voters in the middle. I’m fine if she stays, I’m fine if she steps aside for someone else to be Speaker, but I’d like her to leave leadership after the 2020 Election at worst, an even 20 years in leadership. With that said, and I love Jim Clyburn, but I’d feel the same about him.
  • I’m getting sick of the media allowing Donald Trump to claim he can “fight back” against the Mueller probe- you don’t get to fight a legal investigation. You get to make a defense if you’re charged in a court of law, or Congress. You don’t get to try and stop an investigation- that’s obstruction of justice. When Trump says he fired Comey or pulled Brennan’s clearance because they started the Russia investigation, Trump is admitting obstruction. He’s admitting a crime. He’s making it very hard to argue that he doesn’t belong in prison.
  • Aerosmith is getting ready to celebrate 50 years together as a band with a residency in Las Vegas for 2019. Technically that’s their 49th year, but I’m betting some new music will follow. You know, this is a perfect point for me to note- I’m not always a fan of “new” stuff. If I flipped through every iHeartRadio rock station right now, I couldn’t find a “new” rock band on Aerosmith’s level. Sometimes the new stuff sucks and the old stuff is great.
  • How do you give up seven runs in one inning? Better yet, how are they all unearned? Well, you can only do all of this when you lose 24-4, like the Phillies did Thursday. In one of the great ironies of sports, the Phillies came back to win game two, and gain a half game for the day.
  • That’s all for today. We’ll be back this weekend.