The Shohei Ohtani Pitch

This piece was originally written as a baseball free-agent signing analysis– but became much, much more. It now reads as a serial, dating November 29 – December 8.

 

The biggest news of this MLB off-season is the soon-to-happen posting of Japanese two-way pitching & hitting star Shohei Ohtani. It will cost one MLB team a $20 million fee, but the winner will likely be getting an ace pitcher, who can also hit like a regular player– at a bargain salary & signing bonus. That has every organization and their fans’ attention. Every team in MLB is waiting to see where he signs before making a significant move.

Where he goes apparently depends on the terms of use & marketability, as all 30 teams get to make their pitch in writing to his agent, per his request. That’s poise & presence, and Shohei Ohtani is a generational talent– age 23. These are the teams that can offer Ohtani the most bonus money according to the new international draft rules:

Rangers ($3,535,000)
Yankees ($3,500,000)
Twins ($3,070,000)
Pirates ($2,266,750)
Giants ($1,835,000) *
Mariners ($1,557,500)
Royals ($1,505,000) *
Marlins ($1,490,000)
Cardinals ($1,247,500) *
Braves ($1,210,000) *
* Teams that exceeded their bonus pool under previous CBA and cannot sign a player for more than $300K [1]

As shown above, the difference in bonus money for Shohei Ohtani ranges from a minimum of $300,000, up to $3.5 million for a few teams. He’ll make many times more than this difference in endorsements, so bonus money isn’t a deciding issue, which certainly irks some big-market behemoths. This is limited form of free agency, and Ohtani is handling it with a maturity that has obviously caught a few franchises off-guard. That makes him even more attractive to those who correctly judge & value talent.

Here is Shohei Ohtani’s summarized questionnaire to all 30 MLB organizations:

An evaluation of Shohei’s talent as a pitcher and/or a hitter;
• Player development, medical, training and player performance philosophies and capabilities;
• Major League, Minor League, and Spring Training facilities;
• Resources for Shohei’s cultural assimilation;
• A detailed plan for integrating Shohei into the organization;
• Why the city and franchise are a desirable place to play;
• Relevant marketplace characteristics.

Facts: an ace pitcher makes an entire rotation & bullpen better. It makes a manager’s job infinitely easier. There are only a few true aces in all of MLB at any given time. This is probably one, who can also hit [!], so he fits best in the NL. Why?

Assuming Shohei Ohtani gets 35 starts for an NL team and he pitches well enough to get 3.5 AB’s per start, this translates into ~125 AB’s over a season. Furthermore, these AB’s come with much less pressure to produce, as compared to DH-ing in the AL. He doesn’t need the extra pressure to produce at the plate, when he’s already considered an ace pitcher. In the NL, his plate production is “bonus,” which makes his job easier, and exponentially increases his value to those teams.

Furthermore, he could pinch hit (left-handed hitter) in every non-start game where a pitcher is removed, allowing the creative manger to maximize his value in versatility. That could be another 100 NL AB’s– at least. If he doesn’t produce at the plate, there’s limited downside in the NL. In the AL, he must produce on the mound and at the plate (at the DH standard) to be perceived as valuable.

Plus the fact he wouldn’t have to face the DH on the mound regularly in the NL. Which would you prefer for career longevity. and better numbers as a pitcher? Shohei Ohtani fits best in the NL and from a senior-circuit fan perspective, it would be nice to see the AL get hurt by their DH (artificial offense) rule once in awhile. They get too many advantages from it already.

There’s been only one Babe Ruth for a reason, baseball is the hardest sport. Even Ruth didn’t do both full-time simultaneously, and that was in the pre-integration era. Being a two-way player is a tough enough task in the easier baseball league, which is the NL. Shohei Ohtani is worth an extra 2-3 WAR per year in the NL because of this.

Everyone is just guessing where he lands, as no one knows the content the any of the teams’ questionnaire responses, or what’s in his heart. But undeniably, this is a brilliant approach for a man in Ohtani’s position.

He’ll likely choose a creative new-school manager & innovative organization. Maximum money is mostly out of the equation, to the dismay of the Yankees, Red Sox, and other big spenders. Any narrative that suggests the American League is Shohei Ohtani’s preferred destination is media propaganda & east coast bias, which favors AL power teams, but ignores inherent baseball logic & statistical analysis.

I’ll list my four National League favorites to land Shohei Ohtani. 1) Cubs have a championship roster and are in desperate need of an ace. They probably can’t win it again without one in their current window. Joe Maddon is a progressive manger, and so is their front office. Lots of media exposure and potential marketing deals in Chicago. One of the favorites, for sure. 2) Cardinals are another smart organization with qualification & need. They desperately need an ace to solidify their young starters, or else they face a rebuild. 3) Brewers need an ace to give them innings so their young starters can keep their arms attached. Their line-up is solid, and front office above average. Milwaukee is a tough blue-collar city.  4) Padres are a dark, dark horse in the media, but a serious contender in this sweepstakes. GM AJ Preller has been aggressive in the international draft, establishing baseball academies in the Pacific rim for just this reason. Ownership will now spend the posting fee, and they have plenty of young talent, as well as an ace manager & pitching coach. Ohtani could play LF for them if he’s serious (and qualified) at being a two-way player. They can only offer a $300,000 bonus.

The rest of the NL teams already have an ace (Dodgers, Nats), or are moving in the wrong direction in the win curve (Mets, Pirates, Marlins, Phillies, Reds), with behind-the-times front offices.  The Diamondbacks, Rockies & Giants have significant payroll issues affecting their rosters, making their attractiveness fleeting at best. The Braves just were sanctioned by MLB over previous improprieties, so that probably eliminates them.

If Shohei Ohtani goes to the AL, it’s the Yankees. The questionnaire sent by Shohei Ohtani to all the clubs asks specifically about game usage. The Yankees can’t really answer that question, because they haven’t hired a new manager as of this publication. [2] Ohtani will be posted in a few days, so the Yankees front office & ownership better decide on the correct skipper (& soon), so they can properly finish their homework assignment. Otherwise, they will surely lose the Ohtani sweepstakes.

So let’s summarize. This is potentially the biggest impact player to come into MLB since CF Mike Trout. That means 8-10 WAR per season, for 6-8 seasons before regression. That is inner circle HoF talent, which smart teams want for a career to be a superstar for their organization. Signing him will require more than the usual maximum money, as it will also entail a mutual agreement; first proof-of-goods by the player, then a career extension deal from the organization when it’s time. Every team has evaluated what he’s worth to them. Shohei Ohtani is methodically doing his evaluation of each organization, to find a best career fit.  I can’t wait to see him go to work on the mound.  Evey MLB fan wants him for their team, but the best fans really only wish him well in his decision….

Update: December 4, 2017– noon

It’s now Monday morning and the Padres are still the name everyone is mentioning on Shohei Ohtani. Or not mentioning actually, as “small market west coast team” is the buzz phrase, providing a fig-leaf of anonymity. Anyways– that eliminates the Dodgers, Angels & Giants. The Oakland A’s are also reportedly out. That leaves the Mariners as an AL team (disadvantage here), who are also a mess organizationally (HUGE problem). The media keeps clinging the the ghost of Ichiro-past, as if that will summon this Japanese baseball prodigy to the northwest. Anywhere but San Diego!! In reality, it is the Padres who will be getting RHP Shohei Ohtani. I know that still sounds impossible to some, but get used to it.

All the other possible-team names keep changing, and are getting no traction, but the Padres stubbornly remain on Ohtani’s list. It’s a mystery? These meetings he’s holding with the other teams are (probably) a formality, which he’s scheduled and will go through, but it’s clear (to those who see) that he’s already decided. This is also a play for time at this point by AJ Preller, with roster crunches and the Rule 5 Draft next week. That’s why the Yankees and the rest of the ESPN-led media are so upset, as they’ve been played by the maestro. It’s been beautiful to behold!

AJ Preller won this prize by out-thinking & out-hustling his opponent GM’s. He’s been the best GM in the game for awhile now, recognized by a few who notice & care. Now a few more will notice this baseball genius. Preller has a long-standing relationship with Shohei Ohtani. Preller even speaks fluent Japanese, as well as Spanish. How’s that for presentation?! Other teams are cry-babying over how they didn’t get a real chance to make their pitch, or they didn’t know what he wanted; while Preller has worked to know this kid personally for years. It’s over: Shohei Ohtani is going to San Diego, and that is why AJP just got a 3-year extension– yesterday. How upset is ESPN & the east coast media? They know all this, but don’t mention it in their write-ups or on TV. They can’t, they’re too enraged, self-interested & bitter…

AJP went into shutdown mode on Shohei Ohtani. There was zero media in the Padres forums concerning contending for Shohei Ohtani, which is what both sides (that mattered) wanted. The only flak or mentions in their forums came from this inquisitive independent baseball writer with too much time on his hands. When posting time came (Friday), AJ Preller flew in under-the-radar, and is about to land the pitching prodigy everyone coveted– for the minimum signing bonus & the $20 million posting fee.

It takes a genius to see the inconceivable and then pull it off. Preller has now won the last two international drafts by a wide margin, seeing how the Braves were recently stripped for their 2016-17 improprieties. Preller did it by spending more than anyone ever thought possible that time around. It was an ingenious strategy that caused great consternation & envy, leading to changes in the CBA rules last winter, with caps now set on international spending. This time around, with the Padres supposedly sitting in the $300,00 penalty box, Preller cashes in a longterm relationship for his organization, landing the biggest prize of them all. That’s magic [!], and Padres fans love it!!

A few points on usage with Padres manager Andy Green, and their ace pitching coach Darren Balsley. Shohei Ohtani is a pitcher first. Pitchers are typically at the mercy of their manager & organization, when it comes to game usage & medical brains. See RHP Mark Prior, who incidentally is now with the Padres front office. The best way for a stud pitcher to avoid a blowout, is to pick an organization that takes medical science seriously and values their players as more than just a piece of meat. An organization needs to take a pitcher’s opinions & philosophy into account on a human interaction level. The Padres now do this. Honestly they are the only team that checks all these boxes, so this choice is perfectly rational for Shohei Ohtani– despite what conventional-wisdom pundits may blather.

Too many old school managers push for too many innings from their young pitchers, while not expecting enough out of their veterans. The new school (correct) thinking is just the reverse, as young arms need extra protection from fatigue, until their arm strength builds up. Veteran starters need to pitch effectively through 6 innings minimum, and better yet into the 7th & 8th, to have much value. Veterans should 1) win games for good teams; and 2) have lower bullpen usage during their starts– as compared to younger starters. The same concept also applies to relievers on their usage scale.

Shohei Ohtani is probably a right handed ace (and no less than a #2), who hits left-handed. Reportedly as a hitter he strikes out a lot, but has good power. Possibly a left-handed Hunter Renfroe [?], meaning he could hit as high as 7th or 6th– on a good team. In any instance it gives him (and his team) an edge on the mound and makes his manager’s job much easier– if used properly. He’ll be giving his team more wins per start in the NL due to this. Baseball is much more interesting & real this way, don’t you think?

The San Diego Padres now jump two steps ahead in their winning curve, and every plan towards winning a World Series just got accelerated. This ship had already been moving faster than the rest in it’s building, and now they have signed the equivalent of LeBron James. In the NL West, Shohei Ohtani will be featured in LA, SF, Denver & Phoenix regularly as they play each other 18 times/season. I imagine the Yankees & Red Sox will now want the Padres to visit their ballparks when Interleague play rotates back around, instead of playing every game at Petco. The Padres are also about to sell 20,000+ new season tickets. How does that grab you?

Monday 6:00 PM

The Padres plan when Ohtani signs with them will be to sign a veteran pitcher to perform well and eat innings. I said it already: RHP Hu Darvish for 4 years for a rotation of #3 Clayton Richard, #4 Luis Perdomo & #5 Dinelson Lamet. LHP Robbie Erlin & RHP Colin Rea sent to AAA as TJ rehabs, waiting if someone falters or goes down, or a 6-man rotation becomes necessary. Plenty of young pitching depth with upside at AA on down, so it only gets better moving forward. No more talk anymore about reuniting with RHP Jhoulys Chacin, which is a nice upgrade.

LHP Brad Hand is the Padres closer, and everyone else will regret not getting him when they had their chance(s). Preller would have dealt him if someone had made a fair offer, but everyone low-balled him. That has a way of motivating players & organizations. A few effective bullpen pieces are also returning, with AJP likely finding the rest at a discount– as usual. RHP Carter Capps is the wild card in the 2018 bullpen mix.

C Hedges, 1B Myers, 2B Asuaje/Urias, SS stopgap FA/Tatis Jr, 3B Solarte/Spangenberg, RF Renfroe, CF- Margot, LF Pirela. In LF the Padres could make a trade for Christian Yelich or Ryan Braun to fill a huge need.  JD Martinez in free agency?  With Ohtani, Darvish & LF; the Padres are a wild card team in the NL West.

Padres will have improved OBP & defense, with a rotation to now match up with the big boys. AJ Preller needs to carefully manage payroll because Ohtani, Margot, Tatis and the rest need to be locked up for this plan to work. Note that neither Hu Darvish nor JD Martinez cost a compensation pick, because they were traded in 2017. In the NL, the Padres will have leap-frogged the Braves, Pirates, Marlins, Cardinals, Brewers & Rockies to be about even with the Diamondbacks, but with more upside. They were already better than the Reds, Phillies, Giants & Mets.

MLB Winter Meetings run December 10-14, and end with the Rule 5 Draft, which Preller takes seriously. I don’t know what the lag time is between signing Ohtani and having to add him to the roster, but it matters, if indeed the Padres are about to close this deal, which I believe they are. As far as the rest of MLB goes, everyone will be sour grapes and hate on the Padres for this. People publicly wish Shohei Ohtani the best, but really want him only for themselves. It’s human nature, but I agree it gets ugly too often in sports (and everywhere else) these days.

Here’s a lesson in cyber-warfare. During spring training 2017, I published an article on the possibility of the Padres acquiring Ryan Braun. It was a theoretical trade piece I wrote, because I had a strong notion that deal was being quietly discussed. Evidently was on the mark, and it exploded that trade possibility. Since then I have had a much-more difficult time posting in all MLB forums. It has required finding and removing an encryption code, which holds-up posts from publication. I was also never allowed to edit in the 5-minute window anymore. It had to be perfect when it was posted, or else I had to delete & repost, or just leave it. Responding to others was limited or impossible. Ghosting & playing with the window in-your-face, are other nasty tactics.

Since about a week ago, I’ve magically been allowed to do everything normally again.

Anyone seen this beauty before?

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Fangraphs published an Ohtani piece yesterday that mentioned the Padres, then immediately dismissed them as a serious option. And this is called “serious” sports journalism? The Hardball Times and the rest are all the same, meaning they’re in denial.

Today it’s a concession piece, that reads as if it’s been wrung out of them, as Fangraphs HATES this, but acceptance is slowly coming as we can see. It feels like outsiders are listening in here (sorta call & response like), don’t you think?  We’re all being played, Black Hand interests lurk everywhere with AJP conducting. Shohei Ohtani the subject, and I the artist narrating.

What is real & fake news? One dialectical discovery I’ve made in this process is the east coast bias is a specific political tendency, with serious reach & power. The puppet masters remain hidden, but their masks are being exposed, layer by layer. They fear & hate this above all.

Tuesday–  December 5, 2017:   ~10:00 AM

“Stability” has become the new Padres buzz word in their media releases. AJP will likely soon get back to scouting for next June’s amateur draft, where the Padres pick 7th. The international draft can be won even when sitting in the $300K penalty box, that is this year’s lesson. AJP is already planning his strategy for the next round, in which the Padres will again be limited to $300,000 max signing bonus. AJP is a baseball savant who outworks everyone else by miles.

BTW, “stability” is another signal for an Ohtani signing, as it means you have an ace, so you can settle down in the acquisition market. Stability in MLB means filling in needs, without making big trades– and then going with it. We’ll see if he actually means this, or if this is just another balloon being floated. Their current 2018 payroll commitments are well-under $40 million. Padres 2018 could be anything from another tough learning year, to a magical one. Certainly it will be more exciting.

The Padres dead money is: Matt Kemp (Hector Olivera), James Shields, Jedd Gyorko; minus KCR money for LHP Travis Wood, and LAD money for Matt Kemp– all of which balances to $6 million in 2018. Another $2M for the Padres in 2019, and that’s it.

AJP got compensation picks for J Upton & I Kennedy; traded Kimbrel for a bounty; then dumped the rest in 2016 including: Shields, Rodney, Pomeranz, M Upton, Kemp, Cashner & Norris; while keeping his best players: Myers, Solarte & Hand. Longtime prospects Renfroe, Hedges & Margot have filled in much better, with more to come. Soon it will be time to step up and fill in some needs, possibly in free agency, since they are acquiring an ace in Ohtani.

When Shohei Ohtani signs in San Diego, the Padres have the money to get a top-tier free-agent starter (ie– Darvish, Arrieta) and a LF bat (JD Martinez), without breaking their budget. This allows them to not have to trade any of their best prospects from their top-rated system. The Padres are about to become “instant contenders,” although knowledgeable fans know this took a lot of hard work. This team will have competitive staying power & upside, which is the last thing Dodgers & Giants want. That’s why this narrative is being dismissed by the biased media.

More reports of the Padres as leading contenders for Ohtani are starting to filter into MLB & ESPN news feeds. They’re going to have to report it, when it happens, after all this hype. Most aren’t thrilled, and certainly don’t understand. Anyone who has read this piece, knows more on this story & the Padres than all the mass media writers contributions– combined!

One week ago, I was the only person in the world (outside of those few who secretly already knew), who considered this deal a possibility for the Padres. I have written this story as it has developed, dissecting every relevant aspect. Normally a writer could expect to sell this story to a major media outlet (when it actually breaks), as this is the authentic account, and people would love to know how it actually happened. The only mainstream “analysis” will be clips, snippets & watered down versions from what I’ve written here. I will receive no references, nor acknowledgment that I was correct all along.

When you are blacklisted, you have to set your expectations differently. There will be no Sports Illustrated or Yahoo for me, only the satisfaction that I unfolded this story in inimitable artistic style in real time, and it will stand over everything else here for posterity. I did it when everyone else either: 1) didn’t have a clue, or 2) was lying.

Tuesday ~12:30 PM

Here’s my comment on this MLB piece concerning Shohei Ohtani’s meeting with the San Francisco Giants bandwagon delegation today.

Reality check for Giants fans: No Ohtani. No Stanton. Still old, contract-laden, and a last-place team. Time to rebuild.

This is fun.  Who’s next?  Working on a haiku for the Dodgers [!].  Seventy (70) people listening in that Giants MLB forum right now. This is how I have to market, promote & distribute myself as a blacklisted artist & journalist. Making money and getting ‘hits’ for others…

Tuesday ~2:00 PM

Source: Angels agree with prospect Maitan

Plan A: Ohtani, not happening

Plan B: top SS-prospect Kevin Maitan

A+ grade GM work getting that money from the Braves, to steal their stripped prospect!  I respect that, in this line of work.

Padres fan cheatsheet for Red Sox haters on the 2016 “AJP Suspension” by MLB

1) The suspension was officially for “undisclosed anti-inflammatories” used by LHP Drew Pomeranz. Pitchers take ibuprofen regularly, so figure that weak stuff out.
2) AJP offered Anderson Espinoza back, and the Red Sox (Dave Dombrowski) refused. They whine either way.
3) Red Sox used ESPN and their media mouthpieces (Buster Olney) to slant national coverage in their interest.
4) Red Sox have a notorious history of whining when they don’t win.
5) Red Sox are the most ungracious winners in MLB, their fan’s conduct is insufferable and that is why they’re hated even more than the Yankees these days.
6) RHP Anderson Espinoza is recovering from Tommy-John surgery, he’ll be back in 2019.

Tuesday 3:00 PM

I’ll publish my haiku titled “Sunday Match-up” now, since it’s unlikely to be seen or appreciated in the Dodgers MLB  forum– which moves at 10-12+ comments/minute, and ejects non-Dodgers fans quickly. Their television market is largely blacked-out, as ~60% of the LA residents can’t watch a Dodgers game on TV.  Thus the intense social media activity, which has more volume than the Yankees, by far. I wonder if the Dodgers brass even considered this to be a negative when they began in this “sweepstakes”?

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A haiku is a Japanese poem, 3 lines in length, with a 5-7-5 syllable structure.

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Sunday Match-up

Kershaw — Ohtani

Padres baseball thus springs forth

It’s best– don’t you think?

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Tuesday, ~5:30 PM

Fangraphs prospect chat today:

Gavin: Where would Shohei Ohtani the pitcher and Shohei Ohtani the hitter fall in MLB Prospect Rankings, respectively?

Eric A Longenhagen: #1/In the 125-200 range

Eric Longenhagen is one of the few baseball analysts in the media I actually respect. He takes prospects seriously, and uses a sound method in his analysis. He has quite an online following. The chat begins with a barrage of questions on Ohtani going to the Padres, which he really can’t answer.

Tuesday, 6:30 PM

Seattle Mariners record in 2017: 74-88

Seattle Mariners payroll obligations– no options 2018-23:

$151.5M $131.7M $108.3M $120.9M $129.2M $108.1M

So where do the Mariners fit in the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes? They have an important role as the ever-hopeful dupes. The “west coast small market” label is Seattle, but comparable to the real winner– San Diego. This throws enough people off the scent for AJP, who needs until the end-of-the-week or so, to clear the Rule 5 Draft– as previously discussed. Hard to believe that a fringy minor-leaguer Preller is unwilling to part with, and a prospect arm from another organization whom he likes (?), are what’s holding everything up on Ohtani– but there you are.

Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto declined to comment on the current situation, he spoke openly of his team’s plans to pursue Ohtani on his Wheelhouse Podcast two weeks ago.

“We’re not joking around,” Dipoto said on the podcast. “We’re bringing the big guns. We’re bringing the ‘A’ team. When we sit down, we’ll be sitting down with very notable faces, and that is a part of what we want to sell. We want to sell the Seattle experience and what it means to Japanese-Americans, our culture and how this organization has trended so positively when we have the star Japanese player. And make no mistake, this is a star Japanese player. He’s gifted. He’s going to make some team a lot better.”

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Think of the Mariners as the dopey guy who thinks he is about to meet (and possibly win) the most beautiful woman anyone has ever seen, but in reality is being played– as she’s already taken. Even if Dipoto feels he being used (which he is), he still can’t resist, because the prize is too beautiful.

Tuesday 9:00 PM

The Rule 5 Draft is where many GM’s make mistakes that cost their organization, without anyone knowing until much later. AJP got right-handed starter Luis Perdomo from the Cardinals in the 2015 Rule 5 Draft. The Cards sure could use that extra starter now. Last year Preller traded to corner the top three picks [!] in the Rule 5 Draft, and every selection is still with the organization & protected.

Catcher Luis Torrens is an illustrative example of sloppy management leading to opportunistic vulturing. Preller knew the Padres weren’t going to win in 2017, so he gambled on talent acquisition and came up huge. NY Yankees GM Brian Cashman had four prospects Rule 5 drafted a year ago, and three were returned– all are now gone, either washing out or traded away. The fourth guy was Torrens, who now is safely tucked away in the Padres system. Luis Torrens will start in AA or AAA, and be ready for a call-up, as he saw quite a bit of MLB action in 2017. Padres kept three Rule 5 players, and went 71-91, as Andy Green & Brad Hand got them 12 wins above their Pythagorean.

The real reason the Yankees lost this valuable catching prospect is because Cashman was too hasty in signing free agent DH Matt Holliday. There wasn’t even a hot market for him, but Cashman inked him on December 7, 2016. and had to had him to their 40-man roster for the Rule 5 Draft on December 8, 2016, leaving Torrens exposed. If Brian Cashman had waited another day or two on Holliday, he could have avoided this loss. Holliday was worth 0.0 WAR in 2017, and is now a free agent again.

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The Rangers keep being mentioned in the Ohtani mix, but really were a shaky bet (at best) from the start, even when no one knew. When they dumped RHP Hu Darvish at the 7/31  deadline, that killed any chance they could ever have. Darvish was reportedly upset that he was even offered, then ultimately traded to the Dodgers for a prospect haul.  He wasn’t consulted, or asked how he felt about it. The Rangers have 0% chance of re-signing Darvish now, and the only “Ohtani connections” the Texas Rangers ever had, were when AJ Preller was their director of scouting before he came to be GM of the Padres. Those stale ‘connections’ won’t help Texas in this case.

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After the Yankees, the Cubs were the toughest competitor for the Padres in this hunt– in my earlier estimations.  Still a heavyweight but look closely, as this organization is already starting to crumble after its magical 2016 World Series season. RHP Jake Arrieta is gone, and not worth resigning– due to over-usage. Ace closer Aroldis Chapman even voiced his feelings over being abused my Maddon in the World Series after he signed with the Yankees.  Joe Maddon has slipped quite a bit in the eyes of those who seriously evaluate MLB managers, especially after a few Anthony Rizzo dirty slides, which he defended adamantly. Pitching coach Jim Hickey has been a big part of Maddon’s success, and that gets overlooked too much. Cubbies have the resources, but are not as progressive as some would have you believe.

That covers all the candidates, as of today the field has supposedly been reduced to seven (7) teams: Angels, Cubs, Dodgers, Giants, Mariners, Padres and Rangers. I’ve outlined the facts with all the reasoning. Now you decide: fake news or the truth?

Tuesday ~ 10:30 PM (Last post for today)

As typhoon Ohtani starts to zero in on San Diego, AJ Preller is doing what he’s done a few times already, to the irritation of more than a few rival GM’s. AJP is controlling the market, as he’s held the winning lottery ticket from the start, with the 29 other GM’s (more-or-less) in the dark. Recall that AJP managed the 2016 trading window up to the 8/1 deadline in that campaign in the same fashion; dumping junk and grabbing whatever he could get. He glutted the market with mediocrity, thus devaluing everything in its wake. It was a tsunami, and 15-20 teams got washed up in it.

As far as this Rule 5 Draft goes, which is to be held on  December 14th from 9-11 AM in Orlando, FL: there is no way AJP is scrapping any long-held plans for acquiring young talent on the cheap. The east coast media will surely pressure him to get this Ohtani deal done faster, when they figure out what’s been going on here. Leadership means hold fast, when others advise you to yield. All this is why AJ Preller is the best GM in MLB.

Wednesday  December 6, 2017:  ~11:00 AM

When Shohei Ohtani declares his intention to sign with the Padres, the other 29 teams can finally get back to business. The actual signing process involves the Padres paying the $20 million posting fee to MLB, which is then transferred to Ohtani’s former Japanese professional club. When the paperwork is finished & returned on that, then Ohtani is officially released from his Japanese-league contract, and can sign with the Padres. I’m estimating the whole process will take about a week or so. Just as long as Ohtani is officially inked with the Padres by next Friday (December 15), or later. This is so AJ Preller can do his Rule 5 Draft magic, and then make the necessary roster adjustments afterwards, so he doesn’t lose any assets. AJP dosen’t want to pull a Brian Cashman/Luis Torrens boner here.

Of course, the Padres brass will need to appear surprised & completely tickled over this unexpected turn-of-events, when the Ohtani decision is announced. They could never dream of being the recipients of such good fortune [!], but nonetheless it’s true. At that point, everybody in the Padres organization will have to screw on a straight face for the media, in the final act of this affair. By now, astute baseball readers should understand this whole ordeal to be the “Ohtani Affair,” as opposed to “sweepstakes.” There was never any ‘open’ competition, once it was agreed-to by MLB to post Ohtani– allowing him a 21-day free-agency window. When that owners’ agreement was unanimously ratified, the Padres had just won– although no else knew it. That’s the definition of under-the-radar.

More & more, the truth is start to filter into the major media sports news, and especially into the comments section of MLB forums. Most baseball fans are actually ahead of many of the MLB writers and “experts” in their assessments & conclusions. Many eager fans have been digging for days & weeks, trying to find some relevant facts & analysis they can hang their hats on– mostly to no avail. Slowing, but surely the facts & broad outline of events are seeping onto the Internet, somehow [?].

I expect Friday to be the Ohtani announcement day. After that, everyone in MLB packs up & flies to Orlando, for the Winter Meetings, which start on Monday, December 11. Not much left for me to discuss until then. I’ve covered it all, and once again have gotten ahead of the story. This happens to me a lot. I get my hooks into something compelling, just as it’s developing, and then find myself ahead of the curve during my research and writing. This has happened again, so now I will patiently wait for the predicted & inevitable result…

I also feel we are near the end, because this whole affair reminisces my Hurricane Irma Diary. In both situations, I place myself within the actual story, and consciously direct the action– while narrating it to the world. I feel this good-time movie is about to end, as it feels like Midnight Run (1988), in which I am Jonathan “The Duke” Mardukas (Charles Grodin); trapped, compelled, and carried along in a mad adventure that drives everyone crazy. It’s running time is 126 minutes, so it goes on somewhat longer than your typical movie, but you’re never bored; just exhausted, satisfied and relieved when it’s over. If anyone asks for my credentials: Special Agent Alonzo Mosely– FBI.

Wednesday ~2:30 PM

The Padres will end this charade with Seattle & themselves being the finalists. I forecast this list will go from 7 to 2– suddenly. Seattle’s GM Jerry Dipoto is comparable to Midnight Run-character Marvin Dorfler (John Ashton), a useful but greedy tool whom everyone keeps around when needed, but is cut-out when the pie is sliced at the end. Both see success in visions before their eyes, and both are always thinking– just before they crash their planes into a mountain. Dipoto too will be flying home, unfulfilled. All flights are non-smoking now, so I still wonder on that one a bit…

AJ Preller has to repair all this collateral damage which has occurred during this bloody campaign. This whole process was considered “going to war” by all 30 MLB teams. That’s how high the stakes are. Simply understanding AJP’s rationale (as I’ve shown) goes a long ways towards healing for many. Honestly, a lot of teams & their fans behaved very badly during this whole Ohtani-affair. The should be ashamed of themselves and look within, but instead heap derision & scorn at the victors and the prize. These haters all need to be exposed as frauds and shouted-down, permanently. The Ohtani campaign by the Padres since his posting, has been a coming-out party for this organization. Call it a surprise party, if you will.

This franchise is now officially a heavyweight, for the next 6-8 years. No other franchise outside the Yankees & Dodgers can own that statement. Can you imagine Clayton Kershaw facing Shohei Ohtani on the mound, AND in the Padres line-up? It’s happening, as it’s already a haiku. That’s going to be an AL-type batting order 1-9, when he pitches & hits for the Padres. No one in the NL wants to face that, and most in the AL doesn’t either.

Wednesday ~3:30 PM

I’ll admit I’ve had a roaring fun time crashing this Padres private party. I figure that after I get done bringing in Ohtani’s ass, I’ll call up AJP & get my cut of that $300,000, and then open up a nice coffee shop. For all you aspiring bloggers, let me just say that doing what I’ve done requires talent & dedication, as it’s a very tricky business. Over half of new blogs go under within a year. I’m not saying that as your advisor, I’m just saying that if I was your advisor, I’d have to strongly advise you against it, because it’s a very tricky business.

Wednesday  ~5:00 PM

A final significant parallel to this 1988 cinema classic are the surveillance teams. “Are they good or bad guys?” is the question that runs throughout the film. You can now figure out your own scorecard on any covert media activity in the Ohtani affair.

As far as the inner loop for the Padres goes, it starts with AJP & majority-owner Ron Fowler. AJP has been given complete control of baseball operations, so this was his baby all the way. His core group is manager: Andy Green, farm director: Sam Geaney, and scouting director: Mark Conner. They were undoubtedly in on this, early. Their media has been perfectly in-sync, indicating a long-planned & well-executed PR campaign, which went under-the-radar. That means the Padres media was in on it too. Preller unplugged the east coast immediately, particularly when the Yankees (and such) tried to bring out their brass bandwagons. That reduces buzz factor, and that was what the primary interested parties wanted.

The midwest big boys (Cubs & Rangers) have been left on low heat all along. Just being “alive” is consider awesome by some still. The west coast has been split between big & small market size. This put the Padres, Mariners & A’s in one camp; and the Dodgers, Giants & Angels in the other. The A’s were immediately eliminated. The big-market angle has been played as a negative, while small-market as positive. This keeps the west coast on a medium simmer overall. Nice hot stove cooking by AJP.

Wednesday  ~6:00 PM

In poker, it’s how you play em’ that counts. In this game AJP held a straight flush all along, even before the cards were supposedly dealt. The Angels adapted quickly, shifting to the top international prospects which the Atlanta Braves had just lost. That makes the Halos big secondary winners here. Meanwhile, the Yankees, Rangers, etc have all sat on their thumbs waiting for Ohtani to change his mind.

The Angels even used next year’s bonus pool money to make these valuable talent acquisitions. This year’s international talent is going… going… gone [!], and the east coast big boys are still at the table with the biggest piles of unused chips. Who do you spend those millions on now, if you are Brian Cashman or Jon Daniels? It’s only usable until early-July, 2018. Then everyone replenishes & resets, as the next wave of young exploitable intentional talent gets this form limited free agency. All the cream has been signed.

Look at the list I copied & pasted from MLB.com at the beginning of this piece, which showed top remaining international money to spend, by team & amount. Those teams that wished instead of worked, lost all around. You gotta admit it, AJ Preller played this one beautifully.

Shohei Ohtani has handled his interests impeccably, as he was obviously asked to work with the Padres organization concerning the exact date of his signing. His Japanese club the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters of Nippon Professional Baseball’s Pacific League, and all his support staff have surely aided in this. Shohei Ohtani is already proving he’s an accommodating team player, even in making his American star debut.

====

I have to keep reminding myself that I need to report the mass media activity, as an accurate representation of what’s happened. Because as soon as this real story breaks, everyone changes their narrative and claims “I knew it was the Padres all along.”  I posted the earlier “Kershaw vs Ohtani AL-lineup,” snippet as a comment in the MLB Ohtani piece this afternoon. At the time, the Ohtani story was positioned second, below Aaron Boon as new Yankees manager, but above yet-another Giancarlo Stanton trade-talk piece. An hour later in the MLB main feed, the Ohtani story was dropped to 5th. Impressive, no?

Wednesday  ~8:15 PM

Bonzai!  I just checked the Padres MLB site and there’s this new article.

Preller expects to be busy at Winter Meetings

From talkin’ trade to the Rule 5 Draft, GM has full to-do list

Preller said. “I get the sense that things are going to start to open up, and you’ll start to see some activity.”

Padres beat writer AJ Cassavell & AJ Preller are just precious together, don’t you think?

I’m sitting in my underwear & t-shirt in central Florida, on the edge of my seat with anticipation…

Actually I’m grateful, as I interpret this as tomorrow. That’s nice, I can finally sign-off for the day. Sayonara.

Thursday  December 7, 2017  ~ 10:00 AM

As expected this morning, nothing new on MLB.com or the Padres MLB site, so I check back with Fangraphs. Fangraphs is baseball analytics site is run by Dave Cameron, who held an online fan Q & A chat yesterday. Here are some relevant questions he fielded on Shohei Ohtani, along with his replies…

12:05 PM
Jack: What team would benefit the most from acquiring Ohtani?

Dave Cameron: Probably the Giants or Mariners, both of whom have questionable futures once their core ages out of contention in the not too distant future.

12:14 PM
Hae-Lo Dee: You’re handed a thousand dollars with the stipulation that it has to be placed on a bet for what team Ohtani signs for. Which team do you put it on?

Dave Cameron: Probably the Mariners.

12:18 PM
Hae-Lo Dee: What do you think the chances are that Ohtani has decided already, but is playing out the decision for no reason other than due diligence?

Dave Cameron: I’d guess he probably had a preference going into this thing, but is open to a team changing his mind.

12:25 PM
Bob: Rank the 7 teams still in on Ohtani in order of probability of landing him (in your opinion).

Dave Cameron: SEA-SF-big gap-LAD-ANA-SD-TEX-CHC

12:33 PM
Matt H: What would a moderately optimistic estimate of Ohtani’s 2018 WAR be?

Dave Cameron: +6

12:59 PM
Dave Cameron: Alright, have to go meet with a lawyer for a bit. Thanks for hanging out everyone.

Fangraphs also published an Ohtani article, making a case for him going to the Cubs. I wrote-up that angle a few days ago, and today it’s dead; but here’s Fangraphs covering it now. Almost every time I go to their site, I get a pop-up window asking me for money. No thanks.

Thursday ~ noon

Why do I keep punishing Fansgraphs, ESPN and the shills at MLB? It’s not just because they are liars. AJ’s Cassavell & Preller lie too, but when I bust them in the comments section of their forums, they’ve learned to notice & react appropriately. They acknowledge my power & influence, and know they can’t fool me– so we’re cool. A lie only hurts, if you believe it.

With Fangraphs and the rest of those fucks, they simply refuse to admit they’ve been busted down to their underwear, and continue to lie as before. This is the same as Trump, Clinton, Bush, Sanders and all the rest of politics, personified and refracted through the lens of media manipulation– known as east coast bias.

====

Today is Pearl Harbor Day. On this day in 1941, Japanese imperialism launched a surprise attack on the US naval base in Hawaii, thus bringing the United States & Japan into conflict. World War II ended with two atomic bombs being dropped on the civilian cities of Hiroshima & Nagasaki. Most Japanese people still consider this horrible act to be a war crime. Most Americans view it differently.

San Diego maintains the largest naval fleet & marine base in the world, so any of this “small market” stereotyping that’s been going on during the Ohtani affair, is completely ridiculous. I often wonder how foreign players feel when the “Star-Spangled Banner” is being played, while they are surrounded by full military trappings & jet fly-overs? Sometimes, I feel like I’m the only one who thinks these thoughts.

I’ve gone back and edited everything from start to finish, correcting all typos and other mistakes, added links, etc. This running summary of events is around  7500 words, spanning a week-and-a-half in time.  The irony of this Ohtani story is that when it “breaks,” this authentic account will be completed, while everyone else scrambles to get their version of the truth published & noticed. That’s how blacklists and fake news interact.

Thursday  ~1:30 PM

This is new, (but listed 3rd) on the Padres MLB homepage:

Report: Padres met with Ohtani on Tuesday
By AJ Cassavell / MLB.com | @AJCassavell

SAN DIEGO — The Padres were the last of the seven teams to meet with two-way Japanese phenom Shohei Ohtani, doing so on Tuesday night in Los Angeles, according to Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Passan…

It appears that Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Passan is about to “break the story,” Shohei Ohtani is going to the San Diego Padres! Soon will be “official.” Ain’t that something? I know I’ll be relieved, because if it had been the Mariners or Dodgers, I was going to have a lot of re-editing to do.

Also in the news during this 10-day span: Trump ready to go to war with North Korea; Wildfires burning out of control in California; Massive tax cuts for rich approved by both houses of Congress; Conflicts within US ruling class intensify following Flynn guilty plea; Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israeli capital sparks anger & protests; etc…

Over & Out

Friday, December 8, 2017 ~1:00 PM

There’s an old expression is baseball that goes; it ain’t over until it’s over.

It looks like there are a few clowns who want to go extra innings, when the score is 128-0. I’ve already introduced this Charlie Brown caricature, take a look at his latest weak stuff.

Despite scrutiny, officials expect MLB probe after Shohei Ohtani decision

11:55 AM ET Buster Olney ESPN Senior Writer

This will surely backfire into kamikazee, anti-east coast bias feedback– from fans who know the source.  But that doesn’t mean they won’t try their worst! These rabid dog pack-journalists never will learn, and therefore they must be beaten into submission. That is a valuable lesson. I’m thinking possibly an “undisclosed Rule 5 Draft agenda…”

=====

Still no “official” announcement Shohei Ohtani has chosen the Padres. Likely later this afternoon (IMO), west coast time. The posting & transfer process will then begin. Of course, it’s late on the east coast and already Saturday in Japan, so they’ll get back to it on Monday there, which will be Sunday here. Crazy timing, huh?

Here’s another little coincidence for you. When I went to check the MLB site(s) on Friday morning– December 8, their page format which they have used for the last 5+ years has been completely changed. This is for the main site and ALL the teams; COMPLETELY reformatted, with everything repositioned and jumbled around. People are obviously confused, as the number of comments is way down. Maybe this is due to the fact that many comments’ sections that don’t even load. I try to post something on the latest Stanton piece— forget-about-it!  This gets me thinking…

I click on a few of my links above, and they all load, but only the article [!]– no comments that others & I posted are to be seen. It’s a good thing I saved & published everything I posted, otherwise MLB, it’s writers, and fans wouldn’t have access to what happened during the Ohtani affair. Hey, I’m always thinking.

Friday,  2:18 PM

It would be wise & brave for the Padres war room to agree to whole-heartedly take on this unfair east coast bias, while the iron is hottest. The east coast powers-that-be will never respect the Padres, until they kick a little ass in this area.  Also, what about the kid’s feelings? Speak from your heart when you declare Shohei Ohtani!  This is a watershed franchise moment for the Padres, and a crossroads for MLB.

I can interfere no longer, you must use the force wisely AJP.

Friday,  3:40 PM

If A.J. Preller is a genius (and he is), then what am I?

Wile E. Coyote, super-genius, and it’s just like that Mel Blanc cartoon character, as we both have guile & ingenuity, but ACME keeps sending us defects, so everything always blows up in our faces. We’re both funnier & easier to understand when our voices are heard. It may be hilarious to watch on television, but how many times can you be sent off a cliff, plunging a thousand feet below into a ‘poof’ of smoke, and then dust yourself off still dazed & hungry, trying to figure out another brilliant plan while the brainless roadrunner zooms by again?

Proof: MLB reports Shohei Ohtani signs with the Angels.

Friday, December 8  6:11 PM

I had waited to see if this was a zig-zag by AJP, to short-circuit a potential MLB investigation, but it isn’t. He may still be investigated, even though he lost.  I leave what I’ve published above untouched, as this article is a character study more than anything else, and I have no issue admitting I was wrong about where RHP Shohei Ohtani would land in the end. It appears the Black Hand has stepped in, and there’s nothing anyone can do about that at this time.

The official Padres narrative is now that they lost Ohtani because they didn’t have enough money, and he wanted to DH. That’s just the opposite of what everybody claimed & indicated for weeks & weeks, but now it’s suddenly peddled as the truth.  In a nutshell, the Red Sox were never players here, so their strategy was to foil the apparent victors– the Padres (whom they HATE), forcing Preller to kick Ohtani to his buddy Billy Eppler, or else MLB (Red Sox) would have eventually stripped and sanctioned the Padres. When ESPN media ran out Buster Olney, that was the signal. AJP complied.

The Black Hand message: move along everybody– move along; nothing to see here. This blog has done major damage to MLB, ESPN, many others’ credibility– even the Padres. No apologies to any of them.

That was my ultimate purpose from the start, as I am a revolutionary socialist, against this form of capitalist exploitation. Shohei Ohtani is worth many times more than what he’s getting, and so are all the others. As a Padres fans I would have loved to have him, but wish him well with the Angels. In sum, AJP may have  overplayed his hand [?], and probably should have closed the deal with Ohtani as soon as he could of, instead of concerning himself too much with the Rule 5 Draft. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose, and sometimes something greater things matters more.

Wile E Coyote is at his wits end, a bit scathed, and “officially” Over & Out in this blog episode.

[Final editing completed 9:52 AM Saturday, December 9. No one is smart enough to figure all THAT out– instantly.]

Buster Busted:

Final image uploaded at 12:13 PM, Sunday December 10, 2017

Final score in extra, EXTRA innings: Angels— 150, as they got Ohtani, Maitan and a few others for being Johnny-on-the-spot, combined with good hustling by GM Billy Eppler. That earns him a promotion to Taipan; Padres-– 50, (for merit in wisely avoiding a bigger trap (set by the Red Sox); MLB & the rest— 0. Ric Size— infinity.

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Sexual Politics: Witch Hunts & Blacklists

What is currently going on in the US media is nothing less than a witch hunt against male celebrities. Today, a celebrity is broadly defined as anyone on TV: athlete, actor, musician, politician, etc. The first question that must be asked is: Who is directing this? This has clearly been a planned-out & coordinated campaign, with political orders being carried out by media interests & their minions.

It began with Harvey Weinstein, a despicable Hollywood figure, which is significant. Witch hunts are roving moral blacklists, that descend upon their prey in an ordered & calculating manner. Since no one cares for Harvey Weinstein, he’s an easy first target. Everyone who personally hates him, or is with the current political agenda, gets their cut. Once established as legitimate, witch hunts takes on a life of their own. There are very few who defend fundamental democratic principles such as: presumptive innocence before definitive proof, the accuser facing the accused with their claims, or the right to privacy.

Instead we get yellow journalism, muck-raking and lies; 24/7/365 from CNN & the New York Times. The “Russian interference” campaign has worn too thin for too long, so here’s the change-up.  The analogy in baseball is when the smart hitter ignores this garbage as well, and takes ball four– again.

Barry Bonds was the greatest baseball player of his generation, and most-likely– ever. The video below is proof of this, as well as a quick slide into the sports side of blacklisting; namely Barry Bonds’ MLB Hall-of-Fame candidacy. Why are all these pitchers & pundits so afraid to throw a strike, or face the truth? [1]

Little boys, pretending to be men, to all the guys / Hysterical girls, posing as women, for all the gals    — Ric Size “Unsung”

In the mass media, there is no truth, just a non-stop side-show of distractions. When was the last time you (as a viewer) saw any serious labor coverage in the news? Strikes, work stoppages, deaths on the job; do you ever see, read, or hear about this in any depth from a rank-and-file, real-world perspective?

The answer is “No.” It’s exclusively NYSE-analysis of the labor markets in the corporate media. In a class society driven with inequality, how could it be otherwise?  What passes for “official news” today is nothing more than sports, celebrity gossip, talking head opinions, and Trump tweets.

Do you know what’s going on with the US wars being waged in Africa, Asia & Latin America? Tens-of thousands of troops have been deployed to these faraway battlefields, for reasons unknown to most of the American population. Isn’t the government of a democratic nation supposed to declare a good reason, and prove it to the people, before sending their children off to war?  What is democracy?

Soldiers being killed, maimed, and/or psychologically scarred doesn’t make the news. Neither does an analysis of what they are fighting for. The unspeakable truth is– it’s always economic (power) interests, with China & Russia being the opponents. Do you personally feel any animosity towards the people of these nations? Most Americans don’t, but the media always tells us we should, because they are the enemy. Therefore all their allies are our enemies too, and so North Korea, Syria & Iran are “existential threats” to our way of life, and must be annihilated. That is the logic of US imperialism, refracted through a corporate/intelligence media lens.

It’s still the same set-up as the Cold War, and all the old methods of red-baiting leftists & artists are being brought out again. History proved when this blacklist barrier was smashed in the 1960’s by social forces and artists like Bob Dylan & the Beatles, it became a revolutionary situation. Political figures began to be assassinated (JFK, MLK, Malcolm X, RFK), always under murky circumstances. Most remain unsolved in many ways. This was the deep state in action, snuffing out revolutionary impulses by beheading liberalism & black radicalism in the 1960’s.

Today the political enemy of the deep state are the class-conscious workers armed with socialism. The only political tendency that represents genuine socialism are the Trotskyists of the Fourth International. Every other political tendency on Earth falls within imperialism’s grasp.

The Socialist Equality Party (SEP) is the US branch of the Fourth International. In ruling circles, the SEP is equated with “Russian terrorism.” The political program of the SEP is world socialist revolution, which puts it into the most bitter life-or-death struggle against the US deep state. Hence the propaganda & Internet censorship campaigns from Google, Facebook, and the rest of corporate social media. [2]

The deep state is composed of elite political power brokers who dominate finance, Wall Street, Madison Avenue (PR), and Langley (CIA/ intelligence services). The Bush & Clinton (& now Obama!) families are part of this nexus, which pulls-the-strings on Donald Trump & the rest of the political figures you see & hear in the news.

This is the origin of this ongoing witch hunt against “sexual predators” in Hollywood, NYC & Washington. The hypocrisy of all this is astounding, as everyone knows these places are infamous for being fleshpots for the rich, glamorous & powerful. This can’t even be described as an open secret, it’s just a fact every adult knows today.

Their level of depravity is seemingly infinite, and for many common people (sadly), that’s the allure. Too many ordinary hedonists wish they could join in this depraved orgy. This is how people have been trained to be, as education & civility has been degraded. There aren’t many good jobs anymore either, even if you are a college graduate– deep in debt. So what’s there to hope for, still living with your parents at age 25?  Opioids & other prescription painkillers are readily available to soothe all types of pain…

Most Americans still aren’t ready to face the need for conscious & continuous work in political education, to prepare themselves for the necessary socialist revolution– to come. Most are too busy with day-to-day living (survival), and have been taught to take care of themselves first & always. This isn’t compatible with species survival, but don’t ever try to explain that to a liberal, as their knowledge in arts & science ends where class interests begin. In fact. these attacks are coming specifically from deep state liberal identity-politics ruling circles.

Therefore the impulse to defend celebrities, artists & left-wing politicians will not come from Democratic party supporters; it will come from the working people & youth who have dumped both parties. The truth of the two-party system is that it works together to exploit youth & workers. They appear to act in the interests of the common man/woman, from both sides of the aisle, but in earnest always defend capital– in all its forms. The Democrats use the unions & pseudo-intellectual liberalism, to blind workers and educated youth. The Republicans use religion, racism & nationalism to rally its rural working-class base. The former party is for philistines, the latter is for fascists.

The battle against blacklisting & media sex-scandal pogroms is but one front in the greater war for socialist equality, which can only be achieved by revolution. Those who are enlightened & educated are the ones who care the most about art & human culture. What is happening now is a desecration of human society, as fascists have taken the White House, and the supposed opposition (Democrat) party has done nothing to warn the people, because they are it’s most hostile enemy.

Until this fact is absorbed into the marrow of enough politically conscious workers & students, this witch hunting & Internet censorship will continue, and things will generally continue to get worse for most everybody. Once this reaction is beaten back, a revolutionary window will open, as this witch hunt campaign signals a final ideological arrow. Once you get past sex scandals & censorship, there’s nothing else to titillate & distract. Politics is then exposed for what it is, corrupt & bankrupt.

That’s when all the nonsense lies end, and revolutionary action starts. The battle lines in this upcoming civil war are already being drawn, so it’s important figure out which side is which. and what it means.  It can save a life, and the life you save may be you own, as well as those you love.

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MST3K & Getting a Clu

William Martin “Clu” Gulager was born November 16, 1928 in Holdenville, Oklahoma. He’s the son of a cowboy entertainer who gave him his nickname, for the clu-clu birds (martins) that were nesting at their home when Clu was born [1]. Today he is 89, so happy birthday, Clu!

Clu Gulager is the consummate made-for-TV character actor; from the 1970’s, through the 80’s, & beyond. He began in Hollywood in earnest, as Billy the Kid in The Tall Man, a TV series which ran from 1960–1962. This successful series was suddenly canceled because of his role specifically.

The code Hollywood had acquiesced to under the McCarthyist blacklist, was to not let “bad guy” characters win. This went part & parcel with FBI Director Edgar J. Hoover’s attempts to censor morality, blacklist “communists,” and spy on domestic political dissidents– COINTELPRO.

This directly relates to movies and the deteriorating quality of Hollywood film-making in the !950’s & 1960’s. Many of the enduring classic films from this era, are foreign films from Japan, India & Europe; as McCarthyism had much to say on what Hollywood could produce.

In America, a significant amount of top-talent was blackballed, while mediocre-hack writers, directors & actors were given starring roles in Hollywood productions. No-talent directors such as Ed Wood, Francis Coleman, Roger Corman, Sandy Frank, and any other bizarro with a conformist ideology & a camera, were allowed (encouraged) to make an endless parade of B-movies, which filled the screens of drive-ins across post-war America. This is the “vast wasteland” our parents were raised in, and it filtered through to the MTV generation in no clearer form than Clu Gulager.

With Gulager, there is more to the picture than meets the eye. His fans have a Clu, but it’s not easy to get to. This is a Hollywood character actor, with depth– a rare combination. Clu Gulager is a name that most film fans don’t know, yet probably most have seen him in the movies or TV shows they’ve watched over the decades.

From ~1970 onwards, whenever a made-for-TV series or movie needed a hard-boiled, cowboy bureaucrat– enter Clu Gulager. Plus he’s got great hair. Hollywood needed that a lot in the 1970’s & 80’s, so Clu always found work. Here’s his resume from Wikipedia [2]:

TV and filmography

Playhouse 90 (TV series) (1959)
Have Gun – Will Travel (TV series) (1959)
Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse (TV series) (1959)
Laramie (TV series) (1959)
The Untouchables (TV series) (1959)
Wanted: Dead or Alive (TV series) episode “Crossroads” (1959)
The Rebel (TV series) as Virgil Taber in “Paint a House with Scarlet” (1960)
Alfred Hitchcock Presents (TV series) (1959–1960)
The Tall Man (TV series) (1960–1962)
The Alfred Hitchcock Hour (1962)
Kraft Suspense Theatre (TV series) (1964)
Dr. Kildare (TV series) (1964)
Wagon Train (TV series) (1959–1964)
The Killers (1964) (director Don Siegel)
The Virginian (1968) 3×20 Lost Yesterday as Emmett Ryker
San Francisco International Airport (1970) as Bob Hatten
The Last Picture Show (1971, director Peter Bogdanovich) as Abilene
The F.B.I. (1971) as Lyle Chernik
Bonanza (1972) as Billy Brenner
Mod Squad (TV series) (1972) as Dustin Ellis
Molly and Lawless John (1972) as Deputy Tom Clements
The Glass House (ABC TV film) (1972)
Kung Fu (1973) as Sheriff Rutledge
Call To Danger (CBS TV film) (1973) as Emmet Jergens
Ironside (1968–1973) as Frank Clinton / D.W. Donnelly / Jack Brody
McQ (1974) as Toms
Shaft (1974) as Richard Quayle
Hit Lady (1974) as Roarke
Gangsterfilmen (1974) as Glenn Mortenson
McCloud (1975) as Johnny Monahan
Cannon (1971–1975) 1×06 Country Blues as B.J. Long, 2×09 Child Of Fear as Burdick, 4×22 Vengeance as Jonathan Quill
The Streets of San Francisco (TV series) (1975) as Inspector George Turner
Police Story (TV series) (1974–1975) as Officer Williams / Tim Keegan
Ellery Queen (TV series) (1976) as Father Terrence Devlin / Captain Thomas G. Horton
Barnaby Jones (TV series) (1973–1976) as Sheriff Mack Hollister / Mark Landy
Hawaii Five-O (TV series) (1972–1976) as Arthur Lambert / Jack Gulley
The Other Side of Midnight (1977) as Bill Fraser
The MacKenzies of Paradise Cove (TV series) (1979) as Cuda Weber
A Force of One (1979) as Dunne
Kenny Rogers as The Gambler (TV film) (1980) as Rufe Bennett
Falcon Crest (TV series) (1981)
Skyward (1980)
Quincy M.E. (TV series) (1982)
CHiPs (TV series) (1982)
Living Proof: The Hank Williams Jr. Story (1983)
The Master (TV series) (1984)
The Initiation (Film) (1984)
Knight Rider (TV series) (1985)
Into the Night (1985)
The Return of the Living Dead (1985)
A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985) as Mr. Walsh
Bridge Across Time (1985)
Airwolf (TV series) (1986)
Magnum P.I. (TV series) (1986)
The Fall Guy (TV series) (1982–1986)
Simon & Simon (TV series) (1986)
Hunter’s Blood (1986)
From a Whisper to a Scream (originally titled The Offspring, 1987)
Murder She Wrote (TV series) (1985–1987)
The Hidden (1987)
Hunter’s Blood (1987)
Tapeheads (1988)
MacGyver (TV series) (1988)
I’m Gonna Git You Sucka (1988)
Eddie Presley (1992)
Puppet Master 5: The Final Chapter (1994)
Kung Fu: The Legend Continues (TV Series) (1995)
Beavis and Butt-Head (TV Series) (1995)
Walker Texas Ranger (1995)
Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman (1996)
Feast (2005) as Bartender
Vic (2006) (short film) as Vic Reeves
Feast 2: Sloppy Seconds (2008) as Bartender
Feast III: The Happy Finish (2009) as Bartender
Piranha 3DD (2012) as Mo
Tangerine (2015) as The Cherokee
Blue Jay (2016) as Waynie

Clu has a dark side, which he plays with well, in this recent video he directed & produced with his son.

The best Clu Gulager entry point for the uninitiated is Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K). This highly influential cable series ran from 1989-99, the first seven seasons were on the Comedy Channel.

Best Brains, Inc (BBI) was the corporate-named ownership of MST3K, which included: show creator Joel Hodgson (Joel Robinson), Trace Beaulieu (Crow / Dr. F), Kevin Murphy (Servo), Mike Nelson (first a writer, then Joel’s replacement) & Jim Mallon (producer & Gypsy) & Paul Chaplin (writer).

BBI has had a Clu for as long as anyone. Gulager appears in (seemingly) every incarnation of the original 10-season MST3K series, save for season one featuring Josh Weinstein (now J. Elvis Weinstein) as Tom Servo.

Gulager first appears with Joel & the bots in Master Ninja (Episode 322). This “movie” was actually a failed 1984 TV-series, with Lee Van Cleef in the staring role as The Master. Timothy Van Patten is incomprehensible in his dialogue, as the apprentice sidekick, and mercifully this show was canceled after 13 episodes. It was repackaged in 1985 for the home-video market as Master Ninja, and this is what Joel & the bots are riffing in this classic episode.

MST3K writer Paul Chaplin remarks in their authoritative Amazing Colossal Episode Guide, “For the whole show we referred to Clu Gulager as ‘Clu Gallagher.’ We never noticed how wrong we were until show 614…” Chaplin also adds, “I think he [Gulager] is a fine actor, and he provided one of the few bright spots in this show.”

On to MST3K: Episode 614. A note to fans, episodes are numbered by season first, then show in season next; so episode 614 is– season 6, show 14. The number of shows in a season varied– from as many as 24, to as few as 6. Season six had Mike Nelson in Joel Hodgson/Robinson’s jumpsuit, with everyone else from their “classic era” still there. San Francisco International (1970) is the made-for-TV movie they are riffing, and this one is too considered a “Mistie” classic.

Season six was the last with Frank Conniff (TV’s Frank), and after that (S7) Trace Beaulieu left. Beaulieu in particular played an essential role in MST3K, as Dr. Forrester & Crow. He was always on-screen, an it’s his genius that drives the show. He foils perfectly with Kevin Murphy as Tom Servo, and works with Joel/Mike just as brilliantly. In a word: irreplaceable.

The MST3K legend is that producer, Jim Mallon (Gypsy) was the one who got greedy over money and ruined it for everybody. Today it’s Rifftraxx (Mike Nelson & Kevin Murphy); Cinematic Titanic (Trace Beaulieu, J. Elvis Weinstein, Frank Conniff and Mary Jo Pehl); while Joel Hodgson has revived the original MST3K concept with new characters, as season 11 was just produced and released on Netflix. The common denominator is that none of the original BBI, work with Jim Mallon anymore.

Of importance to Misties, it’s rumored that Clu Gulager appeared in Touch of Satan (1971)— which was MST3K 908. Mike Nelson puts Crow (now played by Bill Corbett) on “Clu Gulager alert,” after not seeing his name in the opening credits. Crow looks for him quickly, but can’t find him. Gulager never appears in the MST3K episode, and I refuse to watch the original. Without Mike & the bots wisecracking– it’s unwatchable.

MST3K season’s 8-10 are Sci-Fi channel-era, and not favorites for hardcore Misties. As stated already, it’s impossible to replace Trace Beaulieu. Season 7 was only 6 episodes, as BBI ran into internal conflicts, as well as the Hollywood industry machine, when they made MST3K: the Movie (1996). This movie riffed This Island Earth (1955), and was only made after an endless series of creative compromises were forced upon BBI.

Produced by Gramercy Pictures, an art-house division in action, horror and sci-fi for Universal ; MST3K: the Movie got very little distribution, and had a limited run in select theaters. During that same period, Grammercy was heavily promoting Barb Wire (1996), the Pamela Anderson siliconed jigglefest. According to Wikipedia, Barb Wire cost $9M to make, and grossed $3.8M at the box, making it a stiff [!] which quickly went to video.

MST3K: The Movie is cited to have grossed $1M, with no estimate on it’s cost to make. It surely didn’t lose money for the studio, as BBI didn’t get paid. They make this clear in their season 7 sketch of Crow’s “Earth vs. Soup”– Ep. 704: The Incredible Melting Man. The host segments in Ep. 704 acidly paints a picture of the “negotiations & creative discussions” with Hollywood sleazeballs.

In conclusion, Clu Gulager like MST3K— are talents who have faced immense challenges, and deserve a wider appreciation for their artistry. Take the time to appreciate them on their birthday, and any other day.

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Netflix’s “House of Cards” to be Killed

In an interview with Buzzfeed News published on Sunday night (10/29), gay actor Anthony Rapp claimed that he and Kevin Spacey were both working on Broadway in 1986, when Spacey invited him to his apartment one night for a party. Rapp alleges that Spacey, “Picked him up, placed him on his bed, and climbed on top of him, making a sexual advance.” Rapp was age 14, and Spacey age 26 at the time [1].

Yahoo: Russian trolls watched ‘House of Cards’ to learn about US politics

By Daniella Diaz, CNN Mon October 16, 2017

Washington (CNN)Yahoo correspondent Michael Isikoff [below] said on CNN’s “New Day” Monday that Russians who worked for a St. Petersburg “troll factory” were required to watch Netflix’s “House of Cards” to help them write messages that would influence Americans against their own government [2].

Between this alleged sexual encounter and today, Rapp spoke about what he claimed Spacey did to him in a Q&A with the Advocate in 2001 — “I was bored, so I was in his bedroom watching TV and didn’t know everybody had left, and he came to the bedroom and he picked me up and lay down on top of me.”  Kevin Spacey’s name was redacted from the story. Bruce Steele, then the executive editor of the Advocate, now confirms to BuzzFeed News that Rapp was talking about Spacey [3].

The noose around Kevin Spacey tightened yesterday (10/30), after his above statement on Twitter, claiming he doesn’t recall the incident in question; but said if he did so, it was “inappropriate drunken behavior.”  Spacey then declared that he is gay and is coming out of the closet.

LGBT activist groups have condemned Spacey, who has long-been-assumed to be gay, remarking, “Coming-out stories should not be used to deflect from allegations of sexual assault.”  It never occurs to these moralists that past transgressions such as these shouldn’t be withheld & buried, then conveniently used later to blackmail & destroy others for political purposes, but that’s beside the point. These practitioners of identity politics don’t want Kevin Spacey perpetuating a stereotype that associates gay men with pedophiles, so the latest icon-turned-pariah in our collective newsfeed gets kicked to the curb.

In a sane society this would be between Anthony Rapp & Kevin Spacey, since they are both adults, and both know the entertainment industry well enough by now. Unless Rapp is pressing criminal charges against Spacey (which is his right), then whatever happened between them should be settled by them, face-to-face– instead of through a media teardown campaign. As much courage as it takes a victim to admit something like that happened, it’s just as cowardly to not honestly face the accused. I have a hard time giving out merit points here, because I see only selfish interest on all sides.

This can be seen as a broader campaign against artistic freedom, and an attempt by the establishment to denigrate & cancel an embarrassing political television series. “House of Cards” is still the most popular television show as voted upon by viewers at Rotten Tomatoes. The only reason to kill it, is because it’s sending the wrong message to viewers.  In it’s five seasons, “House of Cards” has dramatized and graphically revealed the ruthless & amoral methods used by the US ruling-class to gain influence & power. In a word, it has gone too far in the eyes of the establishment censors.

So why is a minor sexual assault scandal, which was first reported in the media 16 years ago (and kept hush-hush), now being dredged-up? It is to take down an artist in his prime, along with an iconic television series. These allegations from Rapp certainly sound genuine, but why wait until now, to publicly out Kevin Spacey?

This witch-hunt is most likely a deep-state dirty-tricks campaign, with full media cooperation. McCarthyism works by taking out left-wing opposition, one at a time– until there’s no opposition left, and everyone else gets in line. It’s up to youth & thinking adults to recognize & discredit these fascist intimidation tactics, whether they come from the deep state, or Donald Trump & Stephen Bannon.

All this is going on as testimony by lawyers from Facebook, Twitter and Google begins before the Senate Judiciary Committee today, and the House and Senate intelligence committees tomorrow, on their plans to counter “extremist content and Russian disinformation online.”

“House of Cards” is now in new terrain politically, as liberal feminism, gay rights activists, and the rest of the media establishment will be screaming at Netflix to cancel this series immediately. Currently “House of Cards” is two weeks into its shooting for Season 6, which was to be it’s finale, and reportedly Kevin Spacey is not on the set. It now appears likely the show will be dropped, and the origin of this political attack must be noted by all those who care about art & free expression.

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Google’s Fake Searches

What I outlined and predicted about the WSWS, was proven true a few days ago. I wrote in March: “By far the most dangerous online organization to the ruling class is wsws.org, the World Socialist Web Site. What deep state planners fear more than anything is a revolution from below. That is a decisive force, which they can not control. Therefore, a ruthless & highly-sophisticated misinformation & suppression campaign must be directed against this site, and any sympathizers.” [1]

That thesis was confirmed on July 27, 2017 when the WSWS published “New Google algorithm restricts access to left-wing, progressive web sites.” This was followed the next day with “Google rigs searches to block access to World Socialist Web Site,” which provides indisputable proof that Google is politically manipulated by capitalism’s paymasters & Black Hand.

Read “Does the WSWS write about Leon Trotsky? Not according to Google,” and try their suggested searches. The WSWS is a well-optimized & mobile friendly site. Huge strides were made in tagging (to improve site searchability) of their older articles during their 15th anniversary year in 2013, in which past articles were reviewed and yearly summaries were written by younger SEP writers. And yet Googling “Trotsky” gets the WSWS a first result on page 13!

The Fourth International (and Ric Size) can only do so much online until they run into capitalist suppression, and this is it. This is fascism, where free expression is censored & slandered, every second of every day. It’s just the precursor to physical violence & annihilation, which is what these sickheads really know & revel in. Trump is their authority (excuse) to use the most venomous attacks, as everything is now flowing from ignorance, fear & hate. Nothing good can come of this madness, and it must be checked with fierce & organized resistance– ASAP.

The only political party in the world that is fit for this task of leadership is the Socialist Equality Party (SEP), which is the US branch of the Fourth International, the political party founded by Leon Trotsky in Paris in 1938. A relentless campaign to expose Google is in order, but what’s needed even more is grassroots organizing, leafleting, and active engagement in the “real world” from supporters of a socialist revolution. This savage censorship of the truth, in the name of combating “fake news,” is just another attempt to throw poison in the eyes of the workers & youth of the world. For the suppression to be this blatant indicates the level of desperation in ruling political circles. This is how much they fear the truth.

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Orlando, FL & Gay Politics

Orlando’s leading gay activist Billy Manes died yesterday, he was 45.  The cause of death hasn’t been released to the public as of this publication.  On Thursday (July 20, the day before his death), Manes’ husband Anthony Mauss said he had suffered “a serious health crisis.” [1]

The previous Sunday, Billy Manes announced on social media that he had been fired as editor-in-chief of Watermark.  Two years earlier, Manes had left Orlando Weekly (after a long run) to edit this online LGBTQ publication.

This was Billy Manes last Facebook post before his death:

July 16 at 10:04am · Orlando, FL ·

“I was effectively let go on Friday and it wasn’t easy and it wasn’t psychologically easy. I wanted to give Watermark the chance to break the news. Not sure why, but it was fair enough. Best to the future editor and please keep up up the work. I’llnfigure something new. I always do.”

The official eulogies have been declared:

Orlando Sentinel: “Billy Manes, a true original in Orlando History, will be remembered for his witty writing, distinctive style and activism for Orlando’s LGBTQ community.”

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer (below) saluted Manes as “always a vibrant force of nature with a healthy dose of wit who loved Orlando and helped make our city fiercely unique.”

Orlando City Commissioner Patty Sheehan (below), praised Manes’ work as Watermark editor-in-chief in covering the Pulse nightclub attack last year.

Now it’s my turn. To speak truthfully here is considered inappropriate & beyond impolite, but I’m going to do it anyway.  Billy Manes was a second-rate talent, for a second-rate weekly publication, in a second-rate city.  It is a sick & sad commentary on the degradation of ‘official’ political discourse that Manes is praised by so many as one of Orlando’s finest artistic & activist voices. [2]

All this outpouring of media love & affection is transitory, as these charlatans have short attention spans and little aptitude for seeing what comes next. The city of Orlando was struck by a horrible terrorist act on June 12, 2016, and all that Billy Manes & Co. can come up with is rainbow flags! Not a single question or public inquiry as to the origin’s of Omar Mateen’s military ties, his father’s links to Afghanistan militias, etc….

Of course, all this leads into murky US Special Ops and covert intelligence action, which means “no reporting” in the mass media. Instead we get gay activism, as if ‘gay rights’ can be separated for anyone else’s rights?  The official line is: the Pulse nightclub massacre is to remain an exclusively “gay” issue until the end of capitalism.

The unlearned lesson here is that the struggles of the working classes everywhere must no longer be subordinated to nationalism & identity politics, which always leads into a dead-end. Feminism, black racialism & gay activism are all bourgeois constructs, meant to trap these identity groups and keep them within the confines of capitalism. The truth is, no freedoms & rights can be won for any of these groups, until they come together in class perspective under the banner of revolutionary socialism.

The working people of the world have an interest in seeing that everyone is free to live their lives, with a good education & job, in a manner that fulfills their happiness. Under capitalism, this has become a hopeless dream for far too many, and it’s manifesting itself in many horrible ways. The ongoing opium/painkiller epidemic in the US, is a statement on the failures of capitalism to provide even an illusion of prosperity to its working masses.

Those who spend their lives distorting this reality, by chasing celebrity culture and enriching themselves (monetarily and/or egotistically), deserve our contempt.

In death, a final balance sheet needs to be drawn and in the case of Billy Manes we have yet another liberal apologist, who had some talent, but chose a mostly fictional self-narrative over reality & hard facts.

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Autographs & the Memorabilia Market

“Can I have your autograph?” That’s a deceptively simple question. Firstly, what is an autograph? It’s a person’s signature on something. Most people sign their names everyday in many different ways, without thinking much about it. As a practicing dentist, I’ve written my signature more times than I care to remember on insurance forms, lab instructions, prescriptions, doctor’s notes, etc. I’ve never had a patient or staff member insist on keeping that piece of paper for the value of my signature.

Then again, I’m not famous, so no one seeks my written signature for its inherent value. If I ever become famous, I will definitely join those who refuse to sign autographs. Oscar Wilde (below) once wrote, “The artist shouldn’t try to become more public, the public needs to become more artistic.” That is correct, so consider what that means and how it applies to autographs.

Autographs and other sports memorabilia collecting can be linked in origin to the baseball card industry, which revved up in the 1980’s and took off in the 1990’s. Before then, baseball cards (like autographs) were a mostly a childhood delight. Kids collect and trade stuff naturally, with sports heroes & other celebrities being among their favorites. Baseball cards have been around as long as baseball itself.

In 1952, Topps decided to sell baseball cards in packs, which led to a massive growth in their popularity. By the 1980’s, a number of new companies began producing baseball cards including Fleer, Donruss and Upper Deck and the market expanded considerably. Since 2000, there has been massive increase in speculation in this industry, attributable to an influx of new collectors with high disposable income. Much of this is comparable to what’s going on in the art world, with forgeries and dirty dealing being the norm.

Today, most signature seekers are actually professional autograph traders, who make their living by selling them, rather than keeping them as personal souvenirs. Celebrities aren’t stupid, and many have found their own ways to deal with this problem:

Basketball star Bill Russell (above), and actors Paul Newman & Greta Garbo all declined autograph requests in their days.

Actor Will Ferrell (above) mocks and taunts fans when they request his autograph. Makes you think twice before asking.

Talk show host Rosie O’Donnell (above) has refused to sign autographs for years, calling adult autograph seekers “sad.”  She’s correct.

Constantly overrun with requests, actor/comedian Steve Martin (above) years ago had business cards with his autograph pre-printed, or cards that read, “This certifies that you have had a personal encounter with me and that you found me warm, polite, intelligent and funny.”  Very creative.

Ex-Beatle Paul McCartney (above) announced in 2010 that he would no longer sign autographs while out, and said that “most people are very understanding because they understand privacy.”  Most do.

Here’s his former band mate, Ringo Starr two years earlier:

Professional golfer Jordan Spieth has recently commented on signing autographs. “We like to sign stuff for charity or for kids — and if you ask anybody universally it’s the same way, it’s just, they (professional autograph hustlers) frustrate us.”

Danica Patrick was recently videoed at Pocono after practice, trying to explain herself to a few merciless autograph hounds, who have no interest in anything except getting the goods for themselves:

Bottom Line: No one (not even a handicapped kid) should ever expect an autograph from anyone. An autograph is a gift that a celebrity chooses to donate. Do you go up to other people (you don’t know personally) and ask them for a gift, and actually expect to receive it?  Do you interrupt people while they are working, expect them to do you a favor, and berate them if they don’t comply?  That’s completely selfish.  Athletes are competitors, which means they are wound tightly and they don’t take this kind of crap. When celebrities are provoked by seekers, you will get any of these above reactions, which are all justifiable.

Memorabilia is about making money, not the integrity of their product. And just what is their product, anyways? A signature. A card. A ball or jersey. It produces nothing in value, and is the very definition of a speculative bubble. Dealers, auction houses and industry “experts” talk openly about finding novice buyers, which are required to perpetuate this sham industry. As long as people invest into this, it will continue.

Third-party authentication (TPA) services grade cards and other memorabilia, for a fee. Like any other business, the idea is to make money, and they do that by pleasing their customers. This means authenticating known forgeries from ‘good’ customers. Autographs are commonly sold with certificates of authenticity (COA’s) and letters of authenticity (LOA’s), while trading cards use a grading system. COA’s, LOA’s, and grades are meant to assure the buyer that the signature or item is genuine.

The problem is the entire sports memorabilia and trading card industry is run by a few people with bad reputations and/or criminal records. Third-Party Authentication giants PSA/DNA and JSA have cornered the market as the official “experts” endorsed by the major sports and collectibles auction houses, and even the online auction giant eBay.

PSA/DNA’s lead authenticator, Steve Grad, has a spot on the History Channel’s hit show Pawn Stars as their ‘on-air expert’ for autographed materials. The TPA’s are advertised as the gold standard of an autograph industry fraught with fraud, deception and forgery. The FBI has claimed that over 50% of the signed collectibles in the marketplace are counterfeits [1].

Often the services that do the authentication are also the ones that own the property and are selling it, creating an obvious conflict-of-interest. Shills are routinely used in the auctions to make the prices go up. There is an entirely unregulated industry, full of hustlers & con men.

Industry pioneer Bill Mastro (above) formulated the TPA grading system to help protect himself and his fellow auctioneers. TPA’s have also shielded themselves from any liability by stating that their LOA’s are nothing more than an opinion and guarantee absolutely nothing. Mastro has acknowledged that he trimmed the world’s most valuable baseball card, the T206 Honus Wagner (below) once owned by NHL superstar Wayne Gretzky, greatly inflating its value.

Authors Michael O’Keefe and Teri Thompson present a strong case that the card was actually cut from a sheet of cards, trimmed and altered. It seems that too many people have too much to lose, if this was actually proven, so the facts are conveniently ignored. No owner will allow “The Card” to be removed from its protective case to be re-authenticated, as that would risk losing all it’s value. On October 1, 2016, “The Card” sold for $3.12M in a private auction.

For those not familiar with this story, Honus Wagner was the great shortstop for the Pittsburgh Pirates at the turn of the 20th century. The legend is Wagner objected to his likeness being used to promote tobacco use to children (baseball cards came in cigarette packs back then) and demanded the American Tobacco Company pull the card from the market. The other claim (from researchers) is that Wagner, who chewed tobacco himself and did advertisements for cigars, was actually just holding out for more money. Whatever the reason, only between 75 and 200 Wagner T206’s ever made it to the public, as compared to the “tens or hundreds of thousands” of T206 cards, over three years (1909-11) in sixteen brands of cigarettes, for any other player. There are only ~65 known Wagner T206’s left, and most are in poor condition. Here are a few examples:

The point is, whenever someone brings a ‘newly discovered’ Wagner T206 to the market, it is greeted with both excitement & skepticism. Most of the time they are proven as forgeries. The facts point towards the world’s most valuable baseball card most-likely also being a fake, and that doesn’t bode well for this industry in the long-term. The truth is, this sports memorabilia craze is like all the rest under American capitalism, in which lawlessness & unethical behavior dominate, in order to make money from nothing.

Final point of etiquette: Parents need to teach their kids that when they ask for a celebrity’s autograph, they are making a bargain for life. The celebrity is choosing to give a piece of him/herself to the fan. If it eventually gets sold, then the celebrity isn’t making a fan, but instead feeding the machine. When this happens over & over, celebrities get jaded. All celebrities monitor this nowadays.

The overall message on everything discussed above, is that the current set-up isn’t working for celebrities or the fans.  It’s only benefiting a thin layer of parasites who are ruining things for everybody else.  Most athletes will tell you that they enjoy signing autographs for charity, and especially for the kids. They do it for that look of surprise & joy that only comes from innocent eyes, and makes a fan for life. The problem of problems is that everything under capitalism has to make money, and it’s the bleeping money that ruins everything.

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Cheating in Sports

      1. Old Friends - Ric Size

 

ESPN/NASCAR 5-1-17: Joey Logano starts from the back and ends up front [1]

My posted comment: “I like Joey Logano, but I do have a question. What was the ‘unauthorized transmission adjustment’ that sent him to the back of the field to start? He went from last to race winner, so it definitely worked. Just seems unfair, at least until the fans know more.”
Like · Reply · May 1, 2017 11:21am

ESPN/NASCAR 5-4-17: Joey Logano’s win at Richmond won’t count toward playoffs [2]

NASCAR announces Logano’s car was ‘illegally modified’ and that his Richmond win is “encumbered,” meaning he doesn’t get the points or free pass in the Chase. Amazing that no one else in the media initially asked the question, huh?

Cheating is endemic and part of the fabric of NASCAR. Certain teams are allowed to cheat more, depending on their favor with Brian France. For the serious Chase competitors it’s about pushing this envelope, and keeping good political relations with Steve O’Donnell & France. Power owners like Roger Penske, Joe Gibbs & Rick Hendricks get decisive edges for their teams.

Some drivers are more strictly censured than others. There are some whose best interest is NOT to cheat. For instance, Danica Patrick never gets busted for illegal modifications, failing laser inspections, loose lug nuts, etc. It’s not in her interest to cheat, because of how she markets herself to her fanbase of women & kids– as beautiful & fair-minded. That’s how she attracts major sponsorship, and notice that Aspen Dental is now the “official dentist of NASCAR.”  [3]

She consistently runs ~25th, and can never win a race because she isn’t trying (cheating), but with Dale Jr. retiring, Danica will easily become their most valuable commodity. That is the paradox of NASCAR, and it’s the reason she’s so loved & hated [4].

The landscape of women’s tennis has undergone a seismic shift recently. Serena Williams announced her pregnancy (congratulations!), and very likely is leaving professional tennis as quietly as possible. I don’t see a comeback at her age, with all she’s already accomplished. Motherhood will likely motivate her more.

The other bombshell is Maria Sharapova returning, in top form it appears. She’s definitely among the early favorites at Roland Garros, with plenty of motivation & support. Her May 16th official announcement for the French Open is being promoted, so what does that tell you the decision to let her play will be?

Any Sharapova vs. the WTA scandal-mongering in the media is flak designed to distract people from the political & controversial nature of her suspension from the start. Player gossip covers these hidden interests. Maria Sharapova is double-edged, as the tour needs her star power, but she is personally disliked by most players. Rafa Nadal (below) welcomed Marin Cilic back by saying, “Only thing that I can say is I am happy to see Marin back on tour. He’s a good guy and a great player.”

But Nadal didn’t advocate for Sharapova’s return as a wild card under similar circumstances. Sober tennis fans see what’s important here. Cilic is accepted by the players, while Sharapova (an even greater player in the women’s game) is not, due to her unpopular status in the locker room.

Maria Sharapova has won the career grand slam and the French open– twice. Of course she deserves a wild card, and her current situation is why they have such a thing. This entire affair has been a political vendetta, with Sharapova’s Russian nationality being at the heart of it [5].

Serena & Venus Williams were/are allowed to compete with therapeutic-use exemptions (Serena TUE below) for schedule II narcotics & banned steroids, without even a hint of media scrutiny or sanction from the US-backed ITF or WADA. This hypocrisy is staggering, and the response from most of the players is disappointing in it’s selfishness.

Racialist (definition): 1) One who insists that all differences in society are based on race, instead of class. 2) A form a racism.

Genie Bouchard (above) also spoke against Sharapova even being allowed to return [6]. Bouchard’s current situation is beyond bizarre & messed-up, as she is suing the USTA, while her game has fallen apart [7].  Background: in October 2015, Genie Bouchard slipped in the locker room at he US Open In NY, when she couldn’t find a light switch after a late-evening match.  She claims a “serious head injury” with lingering concussion issues [8].

The USTA has destroyed evidence (locker room video) and is at least partially at fault; but this ultimately falls on Bouchard herself.  She would win more support from everyone by becoming an advocate for better locker room conditions for all the athletes.  When you speak selfishly about others, they won’t stand with you when you need them.

As we can see, there is much cheating going on everywhere in sports; men & women, white, black, and any other skin pigment.  It’s inherent ugliness is why it’s hidden, until someone eventually reveals it to the rest of us. It’s motive is to selfishly put oneself ahead of others. Cheating diminishes our souls because it values trophies over character, and that understanding is its best deterrent.

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What is meant by “fake economy?”

Over seven billion humans currently live on this planet. Human civilization has mostly operated (for several hundred years) under an economic system called capitalism, which is predicated on individual profit & loss. By 2017, in order to maintain extreme levels of social inequality, illusions have had to be constructed & sustained. This is where our fake economy comes in.

Under feudalism (and before that, slavery in antiquity) illusions also had to be maintained, as all human societies have been ruled by class forces. The Romans gave their plebeian class “bread & circuses,” until they were overrun by barbaric hordes. Medieval royalty ruled their domain with their knighted class, and the mysticism of organized religion in the Catholic Church. The Crusades were about conquest & power, but peddled as a “Holy War” against Islam. We can therefore see that ‘fake news’ and manipulation of public opinion are not new phenomena. Only the tools & techniques change, as their purpose & interest always remain the same, which is to railroad public opinion towards war.

Fake jobs & industries under capitalism include: sales, business, investing, consulting, management & politics. Education is a crucial area for ideology, as corrupt ivory tower academia provide ‘proofs’ for every absurd irrationally of the profit system and all its malignancies.  It’s easier to manipulate fake people, as zombies don’t know how to think for themselves. Here in the United States, children are taught how to think & act at a very young age, with a consistent propaganda message. That message is to consume things that give instant pleasure. Sugar is the most addicting substance to man, and children are bombarded with targeted advertising in all media programming for unhealthy food from infancy onward.

Now people have fake bodies which aren’t healthy, so they need fake cures. “Selling sickness” is a nefarious industry secret in medicine, dentistry & pharmaceuticals. People are susceptible to this pressure because they have become so insecure about themselves. Any salesperson recognizing this can target weaknesses and close in. When a body is ugly with fat, one has a hard time socializing. One smells bad, so one needs more deodorant, and so on…

      1. Money Bug - Ric Size

 

After a while, many obese people give up on themselves and don’t go out anymore. Luckily there is the Internet and social media, when one can project whatever one pleases. While the Internet & social media are real technology, there is a large element of distortion and inherent falseness in most social media posting over time. We tend to project what we want other people to see, and filter out the rest. It’s much harder to do that in real life, with real people.

The news on the Internet is virtually all fake, outside of the WSWS.org. Capitalism runs every publication, which employs Madison Avenue advertisers to tell everyday people what’s important. This includes the entertainment industry (music, film & TV), sports & fashion. All of these are fake economies, endlessly generating useless content 24/7 for mindless consumers who must be kept entertained in order to distract them from world-significant events happening all around them.

The lure of PED’s in athletics is a form of ‘fake health.’ It plays on competitors’ deepest doubts & insecurities, leading into a chemical morass. Eventually male users need Cialis to get an erection, which begs the question: if you’re so hard, why do you need help there? Steroid use makes no sense when thought out rationally, but our society has taught people to ignore consequences for perceived short-term gains. The problem is the gains aren’t real, and they are more than offset by the detrimental side effects.

The healthiest way to interact is to listen & learn from others, while being influential (in a positive way) where appropriate. Don’t go for popularity because:

1) It’s shallow and accomplishes nothing for anyone else
2) Everyone else is doing it, which means it’s old already

The only way humans can be truly happy is when they are allowed to express themselves freely, without repercussions & without hurting others. That is impossible under our current fake economy. We need to starting getting real with everything, in order to replace these illusions with something real, as nothing else works.

      2. Problem Solved - Ric Size

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Celebrity: To Be or Not To Be

Everyone wants to be famous, right? Then you are well-known and everyone listens to what you have to say, so you can make a difference! That’s what most people believe. Celebrity reality (an oxymoron) is much different.

People naively believe that if you work hard and are amazing at what you do, then you will (somehow?) become a celebrity. Wrong!  You become a ‘star’ when the ruling class selects you to be one of their representatives. That’s where the big money comes from to pay these superstar contracts. Celebrities are spokespersons for capitalism, whether they are movie stars, rock stars or famous athletes– they are all sponsored by finance capital. These are the circuses which decadent capitalists enjoy, but primarily serve as a distraction (fake economy) for the underprivileged working masses.

The deal you make when you become a celebrity is that you NEVER speak badly about the sponsors, ie. capitalism. Since they are paying for your enhanced status, they expect full cooperation across the board. This definitely reaches into celebrities’ private lives, as they are simply no longer allowed to mingle with non-celebrities, unless there is complete control of the setting. This celebrity insecurity is a lonely disease. That fact that nearly every Hollywood/celebrity marriage ends in divorce substantiates this thesis. This leads to the ever-constant celebrity fascination with sex, probably because they aren’t getting any, or if they are it is of poor quality.

The fact that the vicarious public knows every detail of these figures & figurines demonstrates that they are allowed no privacy themselves; as famous lives are endlessly analyzed, dissected and discussed everywhere in the corporate news & social media. Any slip of the tongue on a bad day can be ruin.  This is the tightrope the glamorous & famous must gracefully walk every day.  If that sounds like an impossible amount of work, that’s because it is. Eventually every celebrity is wrecked or quietly taken down, and this entire fake economy lurches forward with new ‘stars.’ The bankers & corporate heads that control everything remain the same, and stay hidden.

As a celebrity, what you get to say for yourself hardly matters. Big capital owns the important parts of your brain which determine ethics & character. The rest is basic functions, fluff & bragging backed by lots of money.  Working people aren’t stupid, they’re just overworked– so they are a little slower in seeing all this. Many have already ‘cut the cord’ and that trend will accelerate as working people can no longer afford these spectacles, which are increasingly being recognized as fake.

The cult of celebrity is a major hurdle for the working class to clear on its way to a successful socialist revolution. The role of modern finance capital in creating a privileged ‘buffer layer’ to insulate the ruling 1% from the working masses has been an effective innovation. This ~10%  buffer includes celebrities, who mesmerize many working people.

      1. RIDICULOUS - Ric Size

 

This is because workers are trained to believe their own lives don’t matter, because it’s only money & fame that count. This is not only wrong, it is exactly the opposite of the truth– a Big Lie technique. It is the workers who are real, as they are the ones who produce the material value for society. Celebrities are part of this vast fake economy which is crumbling all around us– daily. In spite of this reality, these charlatans must continue to dance to the music, no matter how banal & vapid it is.

It is correct to say that artists should be rewarded no more than any other worker, under socialism. Under capitalism things are unequal, and therefore artists hold the highest rank of importance in bourgeois society. Without Pablo Picasso, Orson Welles, Mile Davis, Stanley Kubrick, Andy Warhol, John Lennon, etc., there is no culture and no beacon for truth. True artists are of precious value, because they can be taken away in one act of violence by a ruling class that will stop at nothing to preserve its privilege and avoid being exposed.

Marxism uses the dialectical method to analyze society historically & materially. Dialectics means that everything is always moving & changing, so it is critical to understand the process in order to project the future. At one point most celebrities had noble aspirations. Saint Bernard of Clairvaux is attributed with the proverb, “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.” Even this noble saint had progressive thoughts, but when it lacks Marxist discipline & critical dialectical thinking, it inevitably becomes an idealist morass, which always funnels back to god & bourgeois capitalism in the dead-end form of the Democratic party in the US.

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