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.

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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.

The Phillies are Built to Last

There was a certain satisfaction in watching last night’s Phillies win. The Boston Red Sox are certainly not one of my favorite teams, but they are baseball’s best team this year. The Phillies dropped a tough 2-1 battle on Tuesday, but managed to split the season series with a team that should easily top 100 wins. Boston may very well have this year’s AL MVP and Cy Young Award winner, but the Phillies didn’t back down from them in any of the four games, in either park. Down 3-0 on Wednesday night, facing a sweep, they fought back and won 7-4. That is a satisfying win.

When you look at the Phillies line-up, you aren’t overwhelmed. Nobody is going to hit .300 in this line-up. It’s highly unlikely anyone hits 40 homers. Rhys Hoskins is probably the only guy that drives in 100 runs, or probably hits 30 homers. They’re a bottom of the league team in batting average. What do they do well? They take a lot of pitches. Their on-base percentages are deceptively good. They’ll probably have six or seven guys hit 20 homers or more. They hit well later in the game. It’s not that they have nothing going here, but they’re not a line-up that impresses you much.

The Phillies are a good team because they can pitch. Aaron Nola has been outstanding. Jake Arrieta has been way better than some fans give him credit for. While they’re inconsistent, Zach Eflin, Nick Pivetta, and Vince Velasquez have all dominated at times, in a season where they all made tremendous leaps forward. The bullpen has become deceptively strong as the season rolls along. This team has pitched it’s way into contention, despite relative youth and inexperience, and one of the worst defensive clubs in baseball.

And yet, despite all of those positives, I’m not sure they will win the division. They are two games back of Atlanta for the first time since the virtual beginning of Summer. Atlanta has a young, ready for prime time offense. They’re beating up on bad teams better than the Phillies right now. Atlanta’s doesn’t seem like the same level as the Phillies, but they’ve done a more than admirable job, and the numbers are way closer than you think. Who wins this division probably comes down to whether Atlanta’s starting pitching or Philadelphia’s offense is better- assuming Washington is who they look like at this point.

In the long run though, the Phillies are poised to dominate the NL East. If you were to ask me what I’d rather have to improve in free agency- starting pitching or offense- I’d take offense every time. We’re coming up on a major off-season, with major available bats like Manny Machado and Bryce Harper on the market, and the Phillies are well-positioned to make monster bids on both. Other than the often-injured Clayton Kershaw, there are less available game-changing arms on the market, and they will be very expensive. Atlanta simply doesn’t have the kind of money the Phillies do either, whether to extend contracts to their own players or free agents.

Even if the Phillies third through fifth starters don’t all solve their consistency issues, the Phillies have a dominating AAA staff that is cruising through the International League, and Sixto Sanchez and Adonis Medina waiting in the wings to eventually fill in here. The Phillies will not need to dive into the expensive starting pitching market as much as Atlanta and others will. They will be able to spend in free agency to fill in their 2019 line-up, and trade from their depth of pitching to get more bats. With their deep pockets, the Phillies can build a sustained winner. The NL East is going to hate this group for a long time.

Baseball is Fine

Boston Globe writer Dan Shaughnessy recently wrote that baseball’s sky is falling. He’s not alone in that common take. It seems that MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred agrees. They argue the game is too slow, analytics are changing the game, that there are too many bad teams, that the game lacks faces. On each point, their arguments come off flat though.

Is a baseball game too slow? The average baseball game is about three hours and five minutes, which may very well be too long for someone with the attention span of my younger dog. For comparison though, Sunday football games kick off at 1pm, and the second NFL game of the day typically kicks off at just after 4pm, or about three hours later. That’s better than the prime time games, which go longer because of commercials. It’s worth noting that an NFL game is 60 minutes in length, meaning two-thirds of the time I’m watching the Eagles, I’m getting some non-action garbage. NBA and NHL games tend to stay a little under three hours, but feature a similar ratio of game to non-game time. Despite all of the discussion of baseball’s pace of play, they objectively don’t have a problem here that every other sport has- Americans can’t pay attention to something for three hours.

There is no doubt that analytics have changed baseball, and particularly play-by-play outcomes within baseball. Defensive “shifts” of player positioning around the diamond have decreased the number of base hits in a game, something Phillies fans saw all too much in the Ryan Howard era. The increasing refinement of relief pitching has hurt offenses as well, as there are now specialists to get every kind of hitter now. Hitters are refining their swings to increase their “exit-velocity” and “launch angle,” in part because it’s harder to hit a baseball past defenders anymore. It seems like analytics have changed everything, in part because they do. Do we really want to “dumb down” the game though to decrease strikeouts and home runs? Is the game really more interesting because we have more singles sneaking through the hole? I’m very skeptical that analytics are what is hurting baseball.

There are some terrible baseball teams in Baltimore, Kansas City, Miami, and Texas, just as New York had two rotten NFL teams last year, the Cleveland Browns are perpetual garbage, and the Brooklyn Nets are among probably a dozen NBA teams in purgatory. Sports are going to have bad teams. Baseball is no different. The mega-markets- New York, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Houston, Washington, San Francisco, and Phoenix- all are enjoying seasons where they have teams in contention, which is good for the sport’s economics. The thing is, Atlanta, Milwaukee, Seattle, and Cleveland are all small market teams that are in contention too. Kansas City won a World Series three years ago. Pittsburgh has been in the post-season recently. New York and Chicago have teams having lousy seasons right now too. Baseball doesn’t have a particular problem with competitive imbalance, at least not beyond any other sport’s issues.

Does baseball lack “faces” to market? Shaughnessy seems to imply that baseball needs a “flat Earth” moron like Kyrie Irving to make headlines. Perhaps baseball needs LeBron James type figures leaving their teams in shambles every four years to find the next greener pastures, or Kevin Durant taking the easiest way possible to a title, but I disagree. No, Mike Trout is not one to make headlines with his mouth, but is that necessary? Is Bryce Harper not interesting enough? Obviously the face of the game has changed a bit, the brand is more global now, and maybe that has left some people without stars to latch on to. I’m not sure baseball, or really anyone, needs ball players to start talking about a flat Earth though to be interesting.

Baseball certainly has some issues, I don’t disagree with that. Games are unaffordable for most families- my Phillies seats cost $45, a beer is running around $13, and the cheapest food is $10, and that’s after the gas to drive there and $18 to park. Most Americans simply don’t have that kind of disposable income anymore. While I generally support the idea of guaranteed contracts, teams have been getting themselves stuck in bad contracts with aging players that are past their primes. I could go either way on banning defensive “shifts,” though I think that’s a dangerous direction for the game. Prime time and playoff games start too late for most people, let alone kids, to watch. I could go on with my list of changes to the game, but I don’t think the game is broken. I’ve gone to 26 professional games this season because baseball and the beach are really the only two uses I have for the Summer.

Baseball’s real problems are not the ones being cited by Dan Shaughnessy or Commissioner Rob Manfred. Baseball hurt itself by trying to compete with the NFL business model. Baseball is being hurt by a segment of fans with a low attention span. Baseball needs to be family-economic friendly. Baseball needs to not let franchises get themselves in over-leveraged holes, like Miami, or in decrepit situations like Oakland and Tampa Bay. Baseball needs to stop chasing marginal fans who can’t pay attention to a whole game.

What baseball doesn’t need is “flat Earthers” slapping singles to right-field in two hour games. Just saying.

2018 MLB Predictions

It’s MLB Opening Day, my favorite day of the year! For the first time in several years, I have high hopes for my Phillies to do some winning. I trust the prospects.

Without wasting much time about how nostalgic I am about today, here are some predictions on individual awards and statistical champions:

  • NL MVP- Bryce Harper
  • AL MVP- Mookie Betts
  • AL Cy Young- Justin Verlander
  • NL Cy Young- Stephen Strasburg
  • NL Rookie of the Year- JP Crawford
  • AL Rookie of the Year- Gleyber Torres
  • AL Manager of the Year- Terry Francona
  • NL Manager of the Year- Joe Maddon
  • NL Home Run Champion- Bryce Harper 43
  • AL Home Run Champion- Aaron Judge 45
  • AL Batting Champion- Mookie Betts .340
  • NL Batting Champion- Charlie Blackmon .347
  • NL RBI Champion- Bryce Harper 125
  • AL RBI Champion- Aaron Judge 131
  • AL Wins Leader- Corey Kluber 20
  • NL Wins Leader- Stephen Strasburg 21
  • NL ERA Leader- Clayton Kershaw 2.27
  • AL ERA Leader- Justin Verlander 2.67
  • AL Innings Leader- Justin Verlander 218
  • NL Innings Leader- Max Scherzer 214

With the individual picks in, the big stuff- who’s going to win this year? I’ll work backwards:

  • World Series- Cubs over the Astros in 6.
  • NLCS- Cubs over the Dodgers in 7.
  • ALCS- Astros over the Indians in 7.
  • NLDS- Cubs over the Rockies in 4. Dodgers over the Nationals in 5.
  • ALDS- Astros over the Yankees in 4. Indians over the Red Sox in 5.
  • NL Wild Card- Rockies over the Brewers.
  • AL Wild Card- Yankees over the Twins.

NL East:

  1. Washington Nationals
  2. Philadelphia Phillies
  3. New York Mets
  4. Atlanta Braves
  5. Miami Marlins

NL Central:

  1. Chicago Cubs
  2. Milwaukee Brewers
  3. St. Louis Cardinals
  4. Pittsburgh Pirates
  5. Cincinnati Reds

NL West:

  1. Los Angeles Dodgers
  2. Colorado Rockies
  3. Arizona Diamondbacks
  4. San Francisco Giants
  5. San Diego Padres

AL East:

  1. Boston Red Sox
  2. New York Yankees
  3. Baltimore Orioles
  4. Tampa Bay Rays
  5. Toronto Blue Jays

AL Central:

  1. Cleveland Indians
  2. Minnesota Twins
  3. Chicago White Sox
  4. Detroit Tigers
  5. Kansas City Royals

AL West:

  1. Houston Astros
  2. Seattle Mariners
  3. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
  4. Oakland Athletics
  5. Texas Rangers

Dear @MLB: Impeach Rob Manfred for his “Pace of Play” Initiatives

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I don’t go to baseball games to see how fast they can be finished. No one does, really. I spend thousands of dollars going to 40 some professional games a year, and I do so because I enjoy it. I enjoy being outside. I enjoy the thinking aspect of the game. I enjoy the game itself. Yes, a game lasts three hours. It’s not a game that lends itself to instant gratification. It’s a game that takes time, requires thought, and generally lends itself to the strategically inclined. It’s a game of inches, adjustments, and patience. Baseball fans like all of this stuff. They also enjoy kicking back in their seat, with a cold beer in their hand, and watching the game. It’s what we pay for.

Apparently Commissioner Rob Manfred doesn’t think that’s the case, or more likely, takes us for granted. In his efforts to bring more marginal fans into the stadiums and watching the TV’s, Manfred is hellbent of making baseball more timely. He thinks baseball needs to improve it’s pace of play to be more interesting. He thinks that baseball can somehow emulate the pace of play in other sports, sports like the NBA that are basically built for constant action. What he thinks is basically incorrect.

Manfred’s latest brilliant idea, limiting the number of mound visits a catcher can make, is idiotic. He has floated equally silly ideas about how many pitching changes a team can make in an inning, and putting a base-runner at second base to start innings during extra-inning games. The goal? Less stoppages. More action. A faster game. He thinks this will bring more fans to the sport in 2018. He essentially is saying society is too ADHD for baseball.

The NFL would serve as a good model for why Manfred’s plans are doomed from the start. The NFL’s best efforts to appeal to the casual fan in recent years have left them with egg on their face. From their attempts to have it both ways on national anthem kneeling, to their attempts to “get tough” on off field behavior, to their feeble attempts at addressing head injuries, to their completely inept inability to define what a catch is, the NFL’s attempts at change have left them actually with lower ratings than ever before. Is this because their efforts to protect their players and combat domestic violence were wrong? Of course not. It’s because these attempts at doing the right thing, at changing a league’s identity, are not going to bring new people into the game, by and large. You do that through enhancing the experience for fans in attendance, and creating more compelling television for the fan watching at home. One could simply look at the NBA’s recent success with these things and see that.

People who don’t watch baseball now are not likely to start watching baseball because you speed up the game. People who find baseball boring aren’t going to come over because of rule changes. They’re going to come over because the game is compelling TV. You have a game that is going global, who has compelling stars like Jose Altuve, Clayton Kershaw, and Giancarlo Stanton, and an in-game experience for the fans at the game that is enjoyable and relaxing. Changing the identity of the game to chase people who don’t like baseball now is going to leave Rob Manfred every bit as unpopular with the fans as Roger Goodell is with NFL fans. It’s also not going to work- kind of like the NFL’s recent decisions haven’t. Market what we love, don’t chase people who don’t. That’s the formula for success, and Manfred should understand that or get lost.

The Intersection of the Indians and 2018

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The Indians announced today that they will no longer use the “Chief Wahoo” logo on uniforms after the 2018 season. From the New York Times:

The Cleveland Indians will stop using the Chief Wahoo logo on their uniforms beginning in 2019, according to Major League Baseball, which said the popular symbol was no longer appropriate for use on the field.

The logo has long been the source of anguish and frustration for those who consider it offensive, outdated and racist, but for many of the team’s fans it is a cherished insignia — a divide that has played out at all levels of sports in recent years with teams featuring such nicknames and insignias. Most universities have stopped using Native American nicknames, while other teams like the Washington Redskins in the N.F.L., for example, have resisted growing pressure to do so.

Chief Wahoo, a cartoonish caricature of a Native American that has assumed several forms over the years, first appeared on the Indians’ uniforms in 1948. In recent decades various groups across North America have appealed to the team to renounce the logo, to no avail. But over the past year the commissioner of baseball, Rob Manfred, has pressured Paul Dolan, Cleveland’s chairman and chief executive, to make a change.

The Cleveland Indians are not the only team with a Native American team name and/or logo in major sports. Obviously the Washington Redskins are the most famous and controversial, but one could also throw in such famous team names and mascots as the Atlanta Braves and the Florida State Seminoles. They have all faced varying levels of protest, and they have responded in different ways.

I must confess that I have a Native American aunt, who has never brought the issue up to me, and is ironically married to a Washington Redskins fan. With that said, I’ve also given the issue very little critical thought. On the one hand, I don’t think naming teams after Native Americans, or individual tribes, should be in any way offensive. On the other hand, that’s not what’s happening in many of these cases. The word “Redskins” is not a name of a tribe, it’s a derogatory term for Native Americans. The Chief Wahoo logo is not a depiction of an actual Native American, but rather an exaggerated cartoon. On the other hand, I don’t see any reason at all that you can’t name Florida State as the Seminoles, or Chicago as the Blackhawks, provided that you are properly depicting them from a historical standpoint. There’s obviously a fine line between paying homage to the first Americans by naming teams after them, and offensively depicting them in manners that don’t do them justice.

As for Chief Wahoo- I think the team probably got this right. It took pressure from MLB and Native American activists, but they got to the right answer. Chief Wahoo was drawn up in 1932, and frankly the stereotypes of that time are largely not acceptable today. I don’t put their hat on the same level as the Washington Redskins being named after an actual slur, but that doesn’t mean they are wrong to act on the matter.

Now excuse me while I go hide my “Palmer Indians” little league hat.