Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Magic Kingdom

(This is a letter I wrote which appeared in last Saturday's LA Times Sports Section, of May 24, 2008. Clearly it hit a nerve with the paper and was seen by millions in LA. The jig is up Frank and Jamie)

Glitz over game

The decision has been made at the top to make the Dodgers an attraction rather than a team, with Dodger Stadium more important than Dodgers baseball. The McCourts have other things to bother themselves with, such as the new concourse and the remodeling of the bathrooms, than to put together a winning franchise. Jamie and Frank know perfectly well what they are doing: The fans will continue to come to Dodger Stadium whether they are in first place by 10 games or in last place by 10 games.

This is a Los Angeles phenomenon. In no other city do you have the strange rotating fan base that the Dodgers have. In Los Angeles, it appears that the makeup of the Dodgers is suited to reflect L.A.'s own unprecedented brand of citizenry. Add to that the tourist dollar that fluidly comes to the ballpark as part of the Los Angeles experience, and you can understand why McCourt purchased the Dodgers in an effort to develop the land and bring us his long awaited dream: Dodgerland, set to open in 2012.

Anthony Forkush

Monday, May 26, 2008

But then again...let's play two.

On the day after the Dodgers celebrated an almost messianic look into their future in Kershaw, their other extraordinary pitcher Chad Billngsley looked unhittable against the Cubs in the opening of their three game series in Wrigley. Unfortunately for them, the Dodger hitters were just as unhittable.

The Dodgers are now 4 for their last 46 with runners in scoring position. While the loss of Furcal may serve as a potential explanation, the reality is much harsher than that. The Dodgers inability to play consistent fundamental baseball is match by their most consistent baseball prowess: a fundamental INABILITY to hit with runners in scoring position.

Many of you remember last year (or was it the year before? They do become a blur), when the Dodgers at one point were a ghastly 5 for 95 with RISP. I have not officially checked the statistics as to where the Dodgers rank in the NL in regard to this particular woe, but I am assuming that they must be among the worst in the league, if not the worst in all of baseball.

Since this is an issue that seems to follow the uniform rather than the players from year to year, it begs the question "what the heck is going on here?", of course.

Hitting with runners in scoring position is THE MOST IMPORTANT TEAM BATTING STATISTIC IN THE GAME. It exemplifies the character and grit of a team. But beyond that, one can extrapolate further that it represents humility and having your team-mates back, as it were. It suggests going beyond your SELF to do what ever is necessary to produce a run. It also speaks volumes about your coaching staff and, ultimately, your manager. In my opinion, this is the first game of the year that Joe Torre's decisions and non-decisions had a negative impact on its outcome. In my opinion, as well, it suggests that the Dodgers emphasize the individual accomplishments over the team. Or maybe the DE-emphasis on preventing it.

Joe consistently refused to put any kind of plays on in crucial situations. The most glaring, and rather ominous, was his decision to bring in James Loney, on his day off, to pinch hit for Maza, a contact hitter, who could very easily have squeezed for the tie. Instead, he relied on a slumping Loney who has struck out 6 of his last 8 times. Granted, the Salami was very close to happening, but Piniella's decision to keep his right hander in, rather than going for the automatic spot lefty reliever, was shrewd and outfoxed Torre. LaRussa did the same over and over again in LA this past weekend. This also suggests that Torre is further behind in knowing the league again than we perhaps thought. The rhythm of the NL game, after being away for twelve years, cannot be underestimated. It may take Torre two to three years just to feel comfortable again in this world. By then he will most likely pass on the position to another Manager, starting the whole mishugas over again.

Bottom line, the Dodgers should be ashamed of themselves for the way that each individual let down their compatriots again and again and again in this matinee. Torre is learning the league again on the fly, and Billingsley
deserved far far better.


There is nothing more that needs to be said here regarding this subject.

Our savior has arrived!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

"Chemistry?...Chemistry?...We Don't Need No Stinkin Chemistry!

And so, Brady Penny's ass-eating experiment continues, with the fragile cracker sucking shit against the steady and unflappable Midwestern Redbirds. On his game for the most part, a small but pronounced gap in an inning occurred predicated by the home plate umpire getting hit by a foul ball. Penny then walked two consecutive batters and gave up three consecutive hits and that was that as the Dodger offense, devastated by the cruel and godless loss of Furcal, ate small smacklings of bird poop themselves and managed not a single, teeny tiny eensie weenie run. If Chin Lung Hu doesn't get that gift triple last night, and Mark Sweeny doesn't pop out into kind of deep left, then the Boys of Summer score absolutely fuck all.

This team is a disaster that is a mere three games out in the West, which has returned to its official status as the laughing stock division of our national past time.

The good news is that Andruw Jones gets to eat lots of Twinkies and things for six weeks, as he and Furcal hang out smokin doobies and drinkin 40 ouncers while watchin Scoobie Doo. In the meantime, Ned "the Fag" Colletti calls up the every popular Terry Tiffee to add more of a logjam in the infield and create more confusion, just what Joe Torre, clearly the wrong manager for this team, needs at a time like this. Nomar moves to the sixty day DL, and Estaban Loaiza is offered Retard assignment in Vegas, which of course he will decline and will be waivered back to the AL and somehow get a fucking ring.

Fuck this game!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Happy Dodger Slut

And so, here we are, a mere two and a stinkin half games behind the faltering D'Backs. Is this our Dodger mounting wet dream, or merely a stepping stone back into manure? This weekend will tell us a great deal about the answer to those questions.

The Cardinals, not unlike the Angels and Padres, seem to always have the Blue's number. Their dominance over the Bums has been relentless. However, last year some progress was made, with the two teams locked up at three wins apiece after playing six games. The Cardinals have possibly the best one two coaching combo there is in the Alcoholically inclined (and I do mean inclined) LaRussa and the genius pitching guru Dave "Don't hit me in the face Lloyd Mclendon" Duncan. Kyle Lohse has been a remarkable story and they have taken their pitching to new heights for cut and paste. But the story of Rick "syringe" Ankiel is legendary. No one hits home runs in Dodger Stadium though, but if anyone could do a trifecta this weekend, it would be Rick. The Birds are still playing way over their heads and I predict a significant drop in the next few months, similarly for the WAYYY over their head Marlins.

As far as The Dodgers are concerned, Tonight MAYYYYY be the night Furcal comes back, but they have been saying that for ne'er a month now. Plus the weather may not be to his liking, or the teams for that matter. I think we will get a much more significant read on Lowe's status as far as his ability to turn this nastiness around tonight. If he gets lit up, then he really truly may be done...or at least in need of some more Adarol. I suspect it will be the usual subjects with Furcal or Pierre at the top of the lineup, Ethier in the two hole if it is Pierre, Kemp, Kent, Loney, Martin, Dewitt and Hu? That's what I said. If Raffy is back, I still like Pierre two, Kemp in the three followed by Kent (who will never ever leave the four hole even when he's sixty), Loney, Martin, Ethier, Dewitt and Lowe. Our bullpen is off-the charts obscenely good and let's take it from there.

Things to watch for this weekend: D. Lowes line tonight, do the Dodgers bring up Clayton Kershaw to start tomorrow night's game, Does Blake Dewitt start getting play for Rookie of the Year, and the biggest of course, is Furcal back?

I like our chances tomorrow and Sunday better than tonight.

Dodgers win the series two games to one.

Buh bye.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

From this morning's LA Times

The following is from this morning's Times:
"In these types of games, you look at these things, and they're magnified, no question about it," Dodgers Manager Joe Torre said. "I mean, Andruw overreacted to an overthrow at first, and all of a sudden you realize it didn't go in the dugout or very far away. Errors in judgment and in the field are the things that seem to stand out."
(The bold and italics are mine.)
The reason I bolded and italicized that final sentence is that, to me, it absolutely crystallizes the problems with this team. Torre and his perpetual lineups are a reaction to a team of players and coaches (Larry Bowa notwithstanding), and organizational leaders that are incompetent from a baseball perspective and NOT from a business perspective. In addition, his hands seem fundamentally tied by the contracts of Andrew Jones, Pierre, Furcal, Penny, Schmidt, Lowe, and the marketing necessity of having Nomar on the roster. In addition, the mess created by years of turnover and intensely bad general management replacements have devastated the Dodger's ability to right this sinking ship.
This starts at the top with the decision to make the Dodgers an attraction rather than a team, with Dodger Stadium more important than Dodger Baseball. The McCourts, as we say year in and year out, have other things to bother themselves with, such as the new concourse and the remodeling of the bathrooms, than to put together a winning franchise. The truth is, unfortunately, that this is not accidental and Jamie and Frank know perfectly well what they are doing as far as the demographics go: the fans will continue to come to Dodger Stadium whether they are in first place by ten games or in last place by ten games.
This is a Los Angeles phenomenon. In no city on the planet earth do you have the strange rotating fan base that the Dodgers have. Each city also have teams that mirror their particular Gotham. In Los Angeles, it appears that the makeup of the Dodgers is suited to reflect LA's own unprecedented brand of citizenry. Add to that the tourist dollar that fluidly comes to the ballpark as part of the Los Angeles experience, and you can understand why McCourt purchased the Dodgers in an effort to develop the land and bring us his long awaited dream: DODGERLAND, set to open in 2012.
While Frank would like to win, I have no doubt, that is a long way from deciding to win. If he made a decision to win, then he would have hired staff and players that did not lack the most important ingredient in winning: alertness.
You can count those individuals on one finger of one hand.

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Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Fat Lady Blows!

RealClearPolitics HorseRaceBlog

By Jay Cost
« How Obama Beat the Line | HorseRaceBlog Home Page

May 09, 2008
Not Quite Yet
Elite opinion on the Democratic race has congealed around the idea that it is over. Clinton has no chance whatsoever to win the nomination now. There is a minority of analysts out there - maybe 5%, maybe even less - who see her path to the nomination as much narrower than it was four days ago, but who still see a path.

I'm with the minority on this one. I think she is nearly finished, but not quite yet.

As those who know me in personal life can attest, I am a contrarian. For better or worse, when I see everybody looking right, the first thought in my head is, "What's over there on the left?" So, the following might just be a product of my contrarian instincts, but I have to say that I just can't get to where most everybody is on this race.

Two things are holding me back: West Virginia and Kentucky.

The conventional wisdom has it that Clinton did herself major damage Tuesday night by getting blown out in North Carolina. I completely agree. This hurt her with the pledged delegate count. Much more important, I think, is that it hurt her with the popular vote count, which she must win to press an argument with the superdelegates.

However, it is possible that she could counter Tuesday's blowout with two big blowouts of her own in the next two weeks. This could undo most of the damage done by her big loss in North Carolina, and put her back on track.

West Virginia is 95% white, and one of the poorest states in the nation. Demographically, Pennsylvania's twelfth congressional district is a decent proxy of it. Clinton won Pennsylvania's twelfth by 46 points. A recent Rasmussen survey put her up 29 points in the Mountaineer State, with 17% undecided. Another poll had her up 40 points, with Obama under 25%.

Kentucky is not as poor or as white as West Virginia, but it is nearly so. Demographically, Kentucky falls somewhere between Ohio's sixth congressional district, which went for Clinton by 45 points, and the seventeenth, which went for her by 28 points. A recent Survey USA poll of the Bluegrass State had her up 34 points - with a staggering 72 point lead in the east, where Obama was winning less than 20% of the vote. Rasmussen recently had her up 25 points with 13% undecided.

Courtesy of the perspicacious Sean Oxendine, here's a graphical representation of how Appalachia has performed. The deepest blue represents countywide Clinton victories of 30+.

As Oxendine says in his analysis of Indiana and North Carolina: "Appalachia didn't budge [on Tuesday]. She is going to absolutely blow him out of the water in West VA and KY."

So, here's my question. What happens to "It's Over" if Clinton pulls a 40-point victory in West Virginia on Tuesday, then follows it up a week later with a 30-point victory in Kentucky? If these states turn out in the same margins that states since March 4th have averaged, that would imply a net of about 290,000 votes for Clinton. That puts her within striking distance of a reasonable popular vote victory. "Over" will be over as we turn our attention to Puerto Rico.

There are good reasons not to take Puerto Rico lightly, even though the press has continued to do exactly that. I would note: (a) Puerto Ricans vote in large numbers (2 million in the last gubernatorial election); (b) Puerto Ricans have never had this important a role in United States presidential politics; (c) Puerto Rico's politics is focused at least partially on how (if at all) to adjust its relationship with the United States; (d) Puerto Rico's is an open primary, and the residents of the Commonwealth, who are United States citizens, do not see themselves as Republicans or Democrats.

The inference I draw is that Puerto Ricans could turn out in huge numbers. If they do, and they swing for Clinton in a sizeable way, the popular vote lead could swing, too. Add 290,000 votes from West Virginia and Kentucky to 250,000 votes from Puerto Rico, account for expected losses in Oregon, Montana, and South Dakota, and you get Clinton leading in many popular vote counts, some of which are really quite valid. If she has one of those leads when the final votes are counted on June 3rd, the race will go on to the convention.

Am I predicting that all of this will happen? No. That would be quite presumptuous. The problem is not that any of these incidents is individually unlikely. It is not unlikely that Clinton will get a huge victory in Kentucky, West Virginia, or Puerto Rico. Theoretically, I would wager at least one of the three will happen. The problem is that she has to do all three. What's more, she has to keep it competitive in Oregon (just how competitive depends on her margins in the other states). That's a tall order - four big things to do with no margin for error. I'd never predict that she could do all four. I may be a contrarian, but I am not an idiot!

Her biggest impediment might be the development (finally!) of some momentum. With the crush of stories touting the end of the race, will her vote be depressed in Kentucky and West Virginia? I doubt her voters would actually go for Obama - but they might stay home, thus diminishing both her overall margin of victory and/or her net vote score. Incidentally, I did find some good news for Clinton: finals week at WVU ends on Saturday.

My point is that those in the media who are declaring this race to be over are necessarily predicting that she can't do all of this. That's a conclusion I can't go along with. It's quite unlikely, but it is still possible - and it is more possible than the "Obama might have a meltdown" scenario.

Minimally, I will predict that West Virginia will be either her best or her second best finish, behind only Arkansas. Kentucky should come in right behind the two. This alone should be enough to induce some caution. I think it is too hasty to declare her finished just days before two of her three best states.

Am I on to something here, or is this merely my contrarian streak running amok? I'll let you decide. In fact, I'll help you make an informed decision! I have updated my vote spreadsheet to include all contests through Tuesday. I encourage you to play around with the numbers yourself. Follow this link to Predict the Race for Yourself, Version 2.0.

At the time of its initial publication, I had not put much thought into Clinton's vote margins in Kentucky and West Virginia. I merely used the results from Tennessee as a rough baseline. I think this was a bit naïve, given what we now know about the white vote in Appalachia. So, those numbers have been updated. I also updated the turnout projections, based on new data. Once again, you can adjust these figures however you like.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Who can make a rainbow...?

Gabcast! Stop this noise in my head #10 - The Candy Store of his own Making.

You choose the self-proclaimed "messiah" that Los Angeles psychotherapist Rachel Bernstein is talking about on Larry King live.
A). Jesus
B). Obama
C). Cult Leader Wayne Bent

Hola Amigoyles

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Thank you for coming. Now go fuck yourself.

Los Angeles Dodger pitcher Brad Penny eats human shit against Mets shit squad in day game after night game.

This motherfucker gives up TEN FUCKING EARNED RUNS to the "B" squad of the Mets on a day game after a night game when we are in the middle of a hot as a pistol winning streak.
What a piece of human garbage and shit fuck.
I hate this asshole. Kevin fucking Brown revisited.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

The Gods have spoken: Ban Horse Racing.

After the horrific injury to Barbaro two years ago, I vowed never to watch another horse race. I had already been disappointed by the incredible close calls of horses over the past ten years, as one after another they came up just short of a triple crown win. The last triple crown winner being in 1977, when Affirmed beat Alydar. After those wrenching losses, I couldn't bear to watch another loss. As many people, our hopes and dreams get tied up in certain things, our ballclub, our friends and families, people, places and things. I knew that it was a giant projection, but still, it was the hope of everyone that finally a horse could do this feat. We all fell in love with Smarty Jones and were crushed at the last second loss in the Belmont.

But after a brief period off, I came back and started to watch again. I watched a tremendous horse named Barbaro and fell in love with his power and grace. I was absolutely shocked and horrified when he came up lame and spent day after day checking the news for updates, the horse harness they developed gave me hope that Barbaro would be put out to stud and all would be well. Alas, as in all life, my hopes and happy dreams were crushed and dashed against the rocks when they had to put Barbaro to sleep. I vowed never to watch another horse race.

Yesterday I was reminded that today was the Kentucky Derby. I laughed and bitterly told him I would never watch another horse race. But at 3:00PM today, I broke down and decided to watch. What could possibly go wrong this year? They would have resolved any of the issues that took Barbaro. The odds, in my mind, were so against a tragedy that I weighed the facts and decided to watch. It couldn't happen again, could it?

No, it couldn't. It was far worse.

After a phenomenal race, the young Philly Eight Belles collapsed after crushing its front two legs and had to be euthanized immediately. As soon as they showed the horse on the ground, I knew it was either dead or massively injured. The incredible juxtaposition between the Kent Desmormoux win and the happy music trying to cover up the other nightmare, made me sick again. Fuck that, more than sick. I realized that something incredibly dark was at play with horse-racing. That besides whatever issues are at play that may contribute to the injuries, I again was reminded of the terrible anger the Gods must have at this sport. What I have witnessed since the mid-1990s to today has been nothing short of a punishment, a karma for something that has happened that makes no sense. I know that those who love the "sport" clearly are aware to the core of something black at the heart of horse-racing. They talk of boxing being given a black eye time and again, but there is no question that horse racing is the one sport that needs to be investigated and banned until the Gods are appeased.