Thoughts and Prayers, 4/15

Happy Monday, April 15th, 2019. I’m feeling a more rambling post today, so here we go. Let’s touch on a bunch of things.

  • Easter weekend is one week away. At one time in my life, this was one of the busiest weekends of my year. There was a time when I never missed church. In fact, at one point in my life I was an altar boy. Now my elder relatives basically implore me to attend my church. That would be the same church that used to have three masses every weekend, and the 9am mass had well north of 100 people every week. Now there’s just a Sunday, 8am mass with 15 people. I blame the church (Catholicism at large) for many of it’s own problems, but I also find the situation kind of sad. Many of the lessons I took from church were good things that society could use. Unfortunately the shame and disappointment in the church’s failings win out.
  • I slept through a tornado warning last night. Yes, one seems to have touched down in Scranton, but apparently all of Eastern Pennsylvania was under a warning. I’ve lived in Iowa a few times, where tornadoes have been known to be deadly. I guess I didn’t learn much.
  • Thursday was Wawa’s 55th birthday. What a glorious day for anyone in the Philadelphia “sphere of influence.” I did get my free coffee, at the Mt. Pocono Wawa on 115, and made sure to post it on social media. Whether I’m in the Tampa area, the Jersey Shore, center city Philadelphia, or College Hill in Easton, I love me some Wawa.
  • Pope Benedict was already my least favorite Pope in my lifetime, but that angry old man’s letter blaming homosexuality for pedophilia in the church only cemented my dislike for him. To be clear, homosexuality and pedophilia are not the same thing, or even loosely related, or frankly related at all. The priests that molested children didn’t do so because they liked men or women, they did so because they are sick individuals. His argument that the “sexual revolution” of the 1960’s is to blame for this disgrace on the church is little more than an attempt to pass the buck. Women and homosexuals living openly sexually is not to blame for the men of the church abusing their power and harming children. Full stop.
  • I know a lot of my fellow Hillary alums and fans are not going to want to hear this, but Democrats need to cast a wider net for votes in 2020 than she did, and no, that doesn’t just mean we do that with people who didn’t vote. There are a lot of people in the Democratic Party who would like to believe that Barack Obama was elected through “the rising electorate,” and therefore that the future pathway forward is “demographic destiny,” but they are not correct. It is worth noting that both in 2008 and 2012, Barack Obama ran incredibly strong in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa, winning them all by fairly substantial margins both times. The demographics of those states didn’t change much, and yet Hillary Clinton lost all of them but Minnesota, which she very narrowly won. The excuse of many Hillary loyalists is to simply say they are all racists, and that the way forward is to turn out more of the base. That won’t work. So much of that “rising electorate” is confined to “blue” districts in “blue” states that they won’t tip enough states. Hillary did fine holding the line in Virginia, Colorado, and New Mexico, despite some drop off among base turnout in 2016. We’ve found Florida, North Carolina, and Arizona as all possible, but tough nuts to crack so far. The reality is that Texas and Georgia stayed red, even in a great cycle like 2018. We’re going to have to appeal to some of the Obama-Trump voters, or at least non-voters that are not absolute locks to always vote Democrat if they vote. We did this well in 2018. We mostly rejected far leftist candidates in swing districts of the Rust Belt, and instead ran on things like health care, education, housing, and infrastructure, with practical plans to improve on the status quo. A grounded strategy of appealing to the public’s needs in swing states is the only way to beat Trump.
  • I’ve spent a lot of time lately thinking about the younger me. Namely, how I interacted with people who I actually liked in my younger years. People who are different than me. I’ll probably expand on this in another post, but I wish I had been more aware as a teenager. I wish I had been more aware of how life must have felt for them. I probably could have been a better friend.
  • The Phillies are 9-5, first in the NL East, after a week that felt disappointing. They went just 3-3, got destroyed twice, and gave away a big lead in a game. Odubel failed to run a ball out, Gabe tried closing a game with Edubray Ramos, Nola gave away a lead, and Eflin got shelled by the Marlins. You know what though? I’ll take it, first is first. Sure beats the last several seasons.
  • I posted an article to my Facebook about how Democrats are more likely to unfriend someone for differing political views. A lot of people took this as a positive thing- it is not. At the point where politics is all consuming, and you can’t co-exist with people of different viewpoints, politics has failed you. If every Democrat is an anti-American socialist, and every Republican a racist, we’re pretty much dead as a country.
  • Sixers-Nets game two tonight. Joel gave his team a nice lift, and Jimmy Butler was awesome, unfortunately no one else really played in game one. Let’s hope Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris are present tonight, and maybe J.J. Redick is a little helpful. Otherwise, this series will be shockingly done.
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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

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 9

Happy Monday, December 3rd, 2018. Here’s today’s random thoughts…

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In DC

I’m in DC- it was a lovely night being an Eagles fan in enemy territory. The Eagles and Redskins are playing on Monday Night Football. I must say- nobody gave me an issue. A few beers and some food later, all’s well.

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Compassion for the Homeless? Not Here…

I just walked past a group of homeless people sleeping on Pennsylvania Avenue. They’re just laying on the sidewalk. I’m walking to the Capitol to see a President’s farewell and these people aren’t even treated as people.

Who are we?

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You Have to Cheer for Ewing

I went to see the Georgetown Hoyas beat the Liberty Flames tonight. The Capitol One Arena is nice, and the Hoyas need to start filling it. That will mean tournament wins, Final Fours, and yes, a title. Georgetown expects to win, not just games against Liberty, but big games too. Tonight was an expectation for the Hoyas.

I’m not a fan of the Hoyas, but I’m pulling for Ewing. How many Hall-of-Famers go coach their alma mater? The risk of fraying the relationship is too much for most. That he’s taking it on is enough for me to pull for him.

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May Jean be the First

Jean Segura is coming to Philadelphia. The two-time All-Star will be the Phillies shortstop in 2019. Juan Nicasio and James Pazos will join the Phillies as well.

I’m in a minority that is sorry to see J.P. Crawford and Carlos Santana gone, but don’t mistake me as opposing the trade. I think Crawford will blossom, and Santana is still a positive player. I think Segura is good now. If you want to win now, you need players like him.

If you want to sign Bryce and Manny, you do this.

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Paying my Respects to 41

As I said above, I’m going to see George H.W. Bush’s body lie in state at the Capitol- in fact, I’m in line now. It’s not bad, slightly cold, but the line is moving. I’m signing off for tonight to do this.

God speed, sir: God speed.

One Month of Christmas, Day 7

It’s December 1st! It’s a rainy Saturday here in Easton. Here’s today’s random thoughts…

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I Tip My Hat to Bush 41

After 94 great years on this Earth, President George H.W. Bush has gone home. The 41st President of the United States died last night at home in Houston.

President Bush was a genuine war hero. He also was a mixed bag politically. He was the first “third term” for a political party since Herbert Hoover, and the first Vice-President to ascend to the Presidency directly via election in the 1900’s. He lost his re-election less than two years after having a 90% approval. He never won a statewide election in Texas until his 1988 Presidential victory, losing two Senate races. He was the father of a political dynasty, but his son left the White House with record negatives, and his other son failed to win a primary. President Bush had epic highs and titanic lows.

President Bush was mixed in his record. He signed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). He twice vetoed the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). He oversaw the end of the Cold War. He pardoned away crimes he may have been involved with, in relation to the Iran-Contra Scandal. He successfully lead military actions in Panama and Iraq. He and Ronald Reagan seemed to dubiously get the Iranian Embassy hostages free, minutes into their administration. He took a lifetime membership from the NRA, but gave it up when they publicly attacked federal agents. The Bush Family had been very involved with Planned Parenthood, until he accepted the Vice-Presidency in 1980. President Bush had a mixed record on taxes, Civil Rights, and education. He was not nearly as ideological as many of today’s politicians.

I liked President Bush for much the same reason as I now like President Obama- they were both no-nonsense, non-divas. They faced down the extremists in their parties, made decisions that ran against their ideology, and tried to govern from consensus. That was also part of both of their failings. Neither was responsive to the passion of the masses. Neither saw the political storms coming after they were gone (Gingrich for Bush, Trump for Obama). Both were steadfastly committed to Washington “norms,” even as they passed.

I’ll say more about Bush 41 later. For now, may he rest in peace.

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The G20 Debacle

The only lasting memory of this G20 Summit in Buenos Aires is MBS and Putin’s “bro-shake” when they got there. Past that, it was more of the unfortunate same. Our President is too compromised to meet with Putin or call out MBS’ bad behavior. Trump was the only leader there to not sign on to a statement on climate change. It ended with a video showing Trump saying “get me out of here.”

Are you tired of winning yet?

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What are the Mets Doing?

I want to give the Mets credit for getting Nelson Diaz from Seattle for Jay Bruce and four other players. The Mets got better and dumped a bad contract. They also took on five years and $63 million. I’d call it worth it, but there is still the rumor of them trading Noah Syndergaard. These two things make no sense together. Getting Cano is a “win now” move. Trading Thor is not.

I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

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The Power of Video

I doubt Kareem Hunt plays again this season. The now former Chiefs running back was shown shoving and kicking a woman on video, back in February. The video mysteriously showed up, incriminating Hunt with an assault that was never charged. The Chiefs almost immediately released him.

Once again, we are seeing the power of video in today’s society. An incident like this, on radio, can “Ray Rice” a career.

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We’ll be back at it tomorrow…

One Month of Christmas, Day 3

Good day, today is Tuesday, November 27th, 2018. Christmas is now 28 days away. Here’s today’s random thoughts…

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Paul Manafort? #LockHimUp

Paul Manafort is going to prison. That was true when he was found guilty in his first trial. That was more true when he plead guilty before his second trial. Now that he lied to prosecutors? Lock.Him.Up.

There seems to be a convergence of events that is entirely circumstantial, but you can’t turn away from. First, the revelations that Manafort both violated his plea deal, AND that he had a secret meeting with Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, before the Wikileaks attacks on the Clinton Campaign. Second, Jerome Corsi’s bizarre rantings about rejecting a plea deal for perjury- which both seems to be the least of his crimes, and not the crime he’s describing. Third, Donald Trump just submitted his written answers to Mueller’s questions.

The only thing that makes clear sense to me is that Bob Mueller is trying to establish a back channel between the Trump campaign, Wikileaks, and Russia. Manafort probably wasn’t totally forthcoming about something related, Mueller had the goods on it, and the deal fell apart. Manafort is pretty much screwed. This isn’t great for Mueller either, as he loses a star witness. Things are at least beginning to become clear though.

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Goliath is Back, and Goliath is the Phillies?

As I write this, Twitter is buzzing with news that Patrick Corbin is at Citizens Bank Park. The elite left-handed pitcher on the market seems to be high on the Phillies wish list, along with Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, every major free agent, and every major trade candidate.

The Phillies are a big market team, with a big market TV deal. In fact, they’re the biggest market with just one team. They have a low payroll and young team. While 80-82 isn’t a great season, it’s good enough to now buy your way back into the playoffs. They have plenty of prospects to work with, one of the richest owners in sports (John Middleton), and a fan base that can fill the seats in a hurry.

The expectations for the Phillies this off-season are high, but not beyond their abilities as a franchise. I’m obviously most interested in getting Bryce Harper, but Machado, Corbin, Kimbrel, and major trade targets are all fine too. I’m just ready to watch a major superstar hit upper deck homers to right again, like the good ole’ days. The possibilities seem endless, and so does John Middleton’s desire to win. Goliath is back in the NL East.

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Make Gritty the new Flyers GM

Here’s some real talk- the Flyers have been a directionless, “good enough” to make a profit franchise for a long time. Here’s some other tough talk- over that long time, the Flyers keep putting ex-players in charge of the team. They haven’t done so hot though. It’s been 40 years since the team won a Stanley Cup. It’s been almost a decade since they blew up a team that lost in the Stanley Cup finals. The team is perpetually disappointing. The most successful thing they’ve done is make Gritty their mascot.

So, I put in the title here “Make Gritty the new Flyers GM.” I’m not really suggesting that, but I guess I am if they’re really going to let Paul Holmgren call the shots in the organization. Holmgren, the ex-GM that failed in his previous role, was rewarded for losing by being promoted to the Team President. If this is the kind of decision making the Flyers do here again, why not let an orange mascot run the operation?

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Democrats Should Stop Fearing White Voters

Over the weekend, I was watching Roland Martin on MSNBC, and he said something profound- Democrats need to stop fearing white voters. His point wasn’t to ignore them, it was to actually campaign at them. His point was pretty simple- what are they getting for voting for their guns, or against immigrants, or any other social issues? Campaign to them on health care, on education, on wages- because these issues apply to them. Will Democrats win white voters? I don’t know, but it’s unlikely. Will they do better? Most likely. This doesn’t mean stop campaigning to the Democratic base, or stop talking about civil rights. It means walk and chew gum.

I do know this- this will work far faster than waiting for demographic changes to get us to victory.

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My Favorite Christmas Specials?

  1. Rudolph
  2. The Grinch
  3. California Raisin
  4. Frosty

I basically make my picks based on the music. You can’t hate.

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.

6

Leaving, on a southern train, only yesterday, you lied. Promises of what I seemed to be, only watched the time, go by. All of these, things I said to you.

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There’s a point in every election cycle where everything becomes white noise. Races you know are competitive, some poll says they aren’t. Races you know aren’t competitive, some poll says it is. Polling this late in the game is notoriously tough to believe, so you have to have an eye for what is what.

First, watch less polling and boasting by organizations about “what they’ve done” so far. Watch more for anomalies in early voting and where money moves. Elections aren’t horse races, they’re bean-counting. When resources move, it’s because votes could move.

In other words, let me give you a sleeper- Linda Coleman in NC-2. She’s tonight’s candidate of the night, a late-cycle mover who took some time to catch national eyes. She was recently put on “Red-to-Blue,” and the money has followed her in. Early vote for Democrats and non-white voters are popping in her district. She is the final type of piece in the potential Democratic Wave. Donate to her here. Volunteer for her here or here.

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The other thing to watch in the final days is the tone of Republicans. Back in my home district, my state representative called the Democratic candidate a domestic terrorist. In New Jersey, rich-guy Bob Hugin is drumming up old, discredited attacks alleging Bob Menendez frequented Dominican prostitutes. Donald Trump is talking about a migrant caravan and birthright citizenship. This is all fear-mongering.

But what’s that mean? Don’t just assume this means Republicans are afraid. Let’s not forget, this is what motivates their base voters. They should be running scared, and hopefully are, but this is also what passes as Get Out The Vote for the GOP in 2018.

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I’ll expand on this after the election, but Democratic field campaigns need a serious overhaul moving forward. It’s time to get organizers off of doors more, change their metric goals from dials to volunteers recruited, realize hitting doors more is good, that “street money”/paid canvass operations are not bad, but also that you need to give volunteers more options than just canvassing. Not all volunteers are able to go knock doors.

The one other piece we need to consider is who we spend our time on. We spend a ton of time mobilizing new and inconsistent voters, but we actually lost 2016 because some historically Democratic voters turned on us. It’ll be a while before we can nationally try to just forget about them- and we probably ethically shouldn’t then.

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GOTV Playlist-

  1. Stone Temple Pilots- Interstate Love Song
  2. Pearl Jam- Black
  3. Notorious B.I.G.- Ten Crack Commandments
  4. The Rolling Stones- Angie
  5. Jay Z- Encore

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Barring a recount I have to work, the plan for my DC Friends is to be in DC by the night of 11/15 for a night out. I haven’t decided yet if it will be on the Hill or in town.

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I love my Phillies, but one of the things we are going to find out this Winter is if they love themselves. They’re a cash-rich franchise, in a big market, with very little committed payroll in the long term. If they want Bryce Harper and/or Manny Machado, they can afford them. Patrick Corbin? Why not. Craig Kimbrel? Absolutely. J.A. Happ, Dallas Keuchel, or Charlie Morton would all be upgrades too.

It’s good business for the Phillies to go sign these guys. Bryce Harper sells tickets. You aren’t going to lose money signing a superstar. With an 80 win team this past season, there’s no reason a big signing can’t thrust the young Phillies into contention.

The question is if they want it as badly as us fans do.

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Tonight’s story of GOTV Past? The Iowa Caucus of 2008. Just after New Year’s, in the bitter cold, we went through the motions of GOTV for Senator Dodd. It was clear we weren’t going to win, but we were hoping for a surprising finish ahead of someone. It didn’t happen. We had walk packets and signs though for people to knock doors or do visibility leading up to the caucus. Some folks came down from Connecticut. The most intense part was coaching our captains on making a deal with the other campaign of their choice, in hopes of getting a delegate.

I remember emailing a friend the morning of the Caucus, predicting an Edwards, Clinton, Obama finish. If turnout had been a normal 125k, I was right. It was 250k caucusers who attended that night. I was in Grinnell, at the college that night, and witnessed an insane turnout. It was a liberal enough site that Hillary didn’t even win a delegate. That was kind of the story that night.

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8

Sometimes I feel like I don’t have a partner, sometimes I feel like my only friend, is the city I live in, the city of Angels. Lonely as I am, together we cry.

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Today was a weird day. It began with the news of a school shooting in Matthews, a community in southeast Mecklenburg County. Fortunately, it was not a mass-shooting, it was a dispute between two people. Unfortunately, the victim died. Coming on the news of the heinous shooting in Pittsburgh, it’s all enough to make you quite sad. It’s enough to shake your faith in humanity.

The gun control debate has become quite tiring. Neither side has nudged any closer to the other. That’s sad, because most of the public agrees- some people shouldn’t have access to guns. The mentally ill, convicted felons, domestic abusers- none of them should have a gun. Almost everybody agrees. That won’t fix everything, but it will at least help some things.

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Tonight’s GOTV playlist:

  1. Red Hot Chili Peppers- Under the Bridge
  2. 50 Cent- Piggy Bank
  3. Eric Clapton- Layla
  4. Rihanna- S.O.S.
  5. Aerosmith- Living on the Edge

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Tonight’s candidate of the night is Jon Tester. Senator Tester has served as a leader in Montana’s State Senate, and for two terms in the U.S. Senate. Despite the state’s Republican tilt, Tester has managed to keep winning.

Tester is the kind of Senator who is a majority maker. If Democrats can keep him in the Senate, a majority will be in reach soon. Donate here. Volunteer here.

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Tonight’s story of GOTV past- the 2008 PA HDCC. The story of that cycle was winning in spite of everything. Yes, Barack Obama won Pennsylvania big, but not necessarily in the most competitive House seats. We also had a cool dozen Democratic State house members and staffers indicted in conjunction with the “BonusGate” investigation. Despite that, we grew our 102-101 majority to 104-99. It remains the high water mark for PA Dems since 1992.

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For my money, this is my wish list for the Phillies off-season:

  1. Bryce Harper
  2. Manny Machado
  3. Patrick Corbin
  4. Craig Kimbrel
  5. Cole Hamels (if available)

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