Almirola Introduced as Patrick’s Replacement

This is how it ends for Danica Patrick. Her iconic first name doesn’t even get to make the headline, as the biggest superstar in sports is being pushed out by NASCAR [1].  Fans can’t wait to read about Junior’s “final ride” @ Phoenix this week, which has been a weekly ESPN piece, sanctioned (insisted upon) by NASCAR. It has generated very few (often no) comments– week after week, in celebration of Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s last season. For the record, I like Dale Jr. and think he deserves a respectful send-off, but things clearly aren’t being treated equally here.

Danica Patrick is a pioneer in sports, but this goes largely unmentioned in NASCAR reporting, even as she’s being retired. This is as far as she’s allowed to go. Women drivers are now accepted in Indycar, NHRA, and other top-competitive racing series– just not in NASCAR. This had to be reinforced in every way, including her garbage team year-after-year, with no speed in her car– week-after-week. Richard Petty couldn’t do anything with that, so spare her fans the numbers & “statistical analysis,” as everyone who follows understands NASCAR is fixed anyways.

On top of that, Danica was intentionally wrecked, spun-out, and generally treated with unsportsmanlike conduct from her “peers” her entire career in NASCAR [2]. The racing standards in NASCAR can best be described as reckless & unprofessional. That’s how millions & millions of young Danica-fans feel. The fact she won even one race (2008 Indy Japan 300) in her career, is a testament to her driving skill & fierce determination, in the face of obstacles (and media scrutiny) which no other driver has ever had to endure.

Plus– the fact she’s gorgeous, so everyone has an opinion, right?  When Danica talks about having babies, that gets people excited I’ve noticed.  No one else in racing lights up social media faster than Danica. That’s why people use only her first name in reference, because everyone knows. That’s marketing gold, and NASCAR wasted it because they hate her.

Tough to get sponsorship with that kind of industry & team “support,” much less run competitively. NASCAR blew the best chance it ever had to save itself from declining ratings, by modernizing. But seeing how Danica Patrick was treated (almost killed– repeatedly) by such ignorance & hatred, makes it hard to imagine any woman wanting to follow her in her NASCAR tire tracks.

For more see: http://ricsize.com/is-danica-patrick-retiring/

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World Series, Free Agents & Padres Off-Season

No doubt that 2017 was the Dodgers’ year, the same way 2016 was the Cubs’ year. Both were the best teams in baseball, yet one team didn’t win it all. What makes the difference? In 2016 Theo Epstein & GM Jed Hoyer got the relief ace they needed in Aroldis Chapman, from the Yankees for top prospect SS Gleyber Torres. Recall, the Cubs couldn’t have beaten Cleveland in 7 games without Chapman. It was the same way for Cleveland, in obtaining lefty relief ace Andrew Miller. Both teams couldn’t have gotten as far as they did, without those bullpen stoppers.

This year when it was time to get what you REALLY needed for the post-season (7/31 deadline), the best team (Dodgers) balked at the asking price for the most valuable post-season commodity, a lefty relief ace still under arbitration control– which is really nice in February, and invaluable in October. Much of the resistance from teams-in-need was because it was Padres GM AJ Preller selling. So, why didn’t any team make him a serious offer for Brad Hand at the deadline?

Yes, there is the trend towards organizations hanging onto their prospects, but also I suspect an element of collusion (which I can’t prove), in retaliation for what AJP did in 2016. He simply got the best of too many teams & their GM’s last year, which I’ve discussed extensively here & elsewhere. But that’s still no excuse if you are serious about winning.

Instead, the team-to-beat spent about half of what they needed to get Brad Hand, in order to acquire something they didn’t need– in Hu Darvish. By late July, the Dodgers had already won their division, and had plenty of capable post-season starters. What they desperately needed was a guy who was good enough to get outs in the 7th & 8th innings in October. It’s foolish to waste money on what you don’t need, just because it’s more affordable than what you actually need. This is what Dodgers GM Andrew Friedman did & didn’t do in 2017. This was probably the best team the Dodgers will have in this competitive window, and they blew it. Games 2 & 5 of the World Series were both there for LA to win, but manager Dave Roberts couldn’t find a guy in his bullpen to get the outs he needed, because that guy wasn’t there.

American League line-ups are qualitatively tougher than the National League, so whether it was the Astros or Yankees, Dave Roberts needed another reliable bullpen option to close those World Series games out. Dodgers GM Andrew Friedman knew this in July, when he said they were looking to acquire a “wipe-out lefty reliever.” By that he meant (of course), Brad Hand. There was no one else close to his value that was available, and yet no team would make AJ Preller a substantial offer. In other words, no team was willing to pay the price to win in October. Tell me what a GM’s job is again?

The media chimed in, “Hand’s value will never be greater… if the Padres are smart they’ll sell now…” AJ Preller said, “No!” to all that nonsense (again); and now the Gnats, Yankees and Dodgers REALLY regret not acquiring Brad Hand. He could have helped all of those teams get the outs they so desperately needed (when it counted most), instead of coming up short. This is not to say the Astros didn’t have trouble getting the tough outs too, they were just a little better balanced overall. You need luck too, but really it’s money & brains that wins. Astros were a little better at that game, and that was the difference in the fall classic.

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These are the most-mentioned MLB free agents this winter, with my brief comments:

Yu Darvish: This RHP in his prime was a great #2 starter, but never quite an ace. He’s now a #3 starter on a championship team.

J.D. Martinez: The corner OF to get, as he supplies OBP & SLG. He’s likely looking for his payday (longterm 6-8 yrs), which will be too long for most.

Eric Hosmer: He’s 28 and this is his payday– represented by Scott Boras. Look for ~8 years $200M. He’s very good, but not worth that kind of investment.

Lorenzo Cain: Age-31 speedy CF, will need to move to a corner in a year or two– never a good longterm sign. It will be interesting where he lands, and for how much & long.

Wade Davis: The FA closer this winter. That’s big $$.

Mike Moustakas: 3B career: .251/.305/.425. Had one great season in 2015, when they won it, otherwise he’s overrated.

Jay Bruce: OF/DH career (mostly in a bandbox): .249/.319/.472, which means he’s now useless. Cheap bench depth only, otherwise he’s an overpay. I’m sure someone will…

Todd Frazier: 3B career: .245/.321/.459. A little better than his former teammate Jay Bruce, but not much.

Carlos Santana: 1B/DH/C career: .249/.365/.445. Good OBP, but limited SLG, as well as catching anymore. If he stays healthy, he can be an bargain somewhere, probably AL.

Jake Arrieta: This age-31 RHP has a lot of mileage on his arm. Health & medical evaluation is critical here. If Arrieta is healthy, he can be a strong #2 starter over the course of his contract, which is extremely valuable. If his arm falls off, then some team has a huge sunk cost. This will be the highest-risk FA deal this winter.

Alex Cobb: This age 30 RHP is underrated because the Rays always have pitching. In 2017: 179.1 IP, 3.66 ERA. Yankees are interested for sure, and you know what that means.

Zack Cozart: Career SS: .254/.305/.411. He’s age-32, and 2017 was a career year. The Reds have stunk for a long time, because they invested so heavily in many of the free agents on this list. All are losing players, with inflated power stats, due to extreme ballpark effect. All are average-to-poor defenders. Teams have wised-up somewhat, but I still expect Cosart to get a richer deal than his actual worth, as there still are overspenders aplenty.

CC Sabathia: This age-37 LHP still has some gas in the tank, 2017 with NYY: 148.2 IP, 3.69 ERA. His usage needs to be limited, but those are still mostly quality innings from a 3/4 AL starter.

Ichiro Suzuki: RF 2017 with Miami: .255/.318/.332, probably should retire. Career in MLB: .312/.355/.403, 3080 hits. Best defensive RF ever? Ichiro or Clemente. First-ballot HoFer.

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Padres Notes:

The top off-season trade chips for Padres GM AJ Preller are closer Brad Hand & 3B Yangervis Solarte. Hand will likely be dealt, as teams & their fans saw the value of a shut-down reliever in October. The teams that came up short especially saw this, and should be more in the mood to offer what Brad Hand is actually worth this time around. His value is similar to what closer Craig Kimbrel was worth when he was dealt to the Red Sox in the winter of 2015. Wade Davis is the only free-agent closer available this winter, so options are limited in this premium market.

Yangervis Solarte has a lot of value. He’s an everyday 3B, with legitimate utility value, and a switch-hitter. That wins games when used properly, as Padres manager Andy Green has. From a business standpoint in terms of prospects, AJ Preller won’t get the value he’s seeking, as Solarte is generally underrated which cuts his market value. His contract is team favorable, and that leads to the reasons Solarte signed it. His wife had just passed away from cancer, and he appreciated the organizational & fan support. He stated he wanted to finish his career with the Padres. That’s a loyal soldier (but only in SD), and a valuable asset. I don’t think Padres GM AJ Preller trades that away, because most of Solarte’s value is in San Diego, which means you can’t get a fair return. You know what I mean?

AJ Preller has a logjam of young infield talent, but not a MLB SS. Whatever AJP deals, he’ll look to add depth (top prospect or MLB ready) to that position & corner OF. The Padres desperately need a mashing LF. And pitching. Most Padres fans are optimistic about Carlos Asuaje at 2B, but nothing is certain. Luis Urias is a hit-first 2B prospect, with little power. You need to see Manny Margot-type improvement from Urias, before getting too excited there. 2B/3B Cory Spangenberg, CF Travis Jankowski, and even some other relievers (if there’s interest) are the guys AJ Preller will try to deal this winter.

Preller is now running into roster crunch issues, which will only become more acute for the Padres. That alone is a sign of organizational improvement, as their fans have never seen this! AJP will now have to lean more towards protecting his prospects from the Rule 5 draft, instead of making 3 or 4 picks. Since he’s proven he can evaluate the best Rule 5 talent (5 out of 7 selections have stuck), he’ll likely be the best GM at protecting his elite young talent from hungry predators.

This organization has improved, and the bar has been raised, so these are the roster moves the Padres have been making for the upcoming Rule 5 Draft & beyond. This is how the Astros built what just came to fruition. AJP actually has the Padres on a faster curve. Note, not even one 100-loss season at the depths of their rebuilding, which was 2016-17. Padres fans thank Andy Green & Brad Hand for that. Now it’s player development and managing the 40-man roster, with the goal of building a championship team. In the meantime, more low-level FA pitchers & positional fill-ins this winter, with the possibility of a blockbuster deal or two– as it’s AJ Preller. That’s a management plan a fan can see, and go with. It’s what I expect AJP will do.

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Breaking the NFL Blacklist

Donald Trump is the only person who couldn’t be satisfied with destroying just one football league. Every time he tries to use an issue to ignite his fascist base, he pours gasoline on a bigger fire of working class resentment towards inequality. This is the REAL problem the ruling class has with Trump. These are the NFL players who didn’t stand for the National Anthem last Sunday.

The Green Bay Packers now need a starting QB after HoF-er Aaron Rogers went down with a broken collar-bone last Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings. Packers fans are like most of the rest, willfully accepting (and thus supporting) their GM & ownership, in showing no interest in signing blacklisted-QB Colin Kaepernick. Not even a try-out [!]. Why so many fans support billionaires & cheats is revealed by the fact that most of this is NOT about football. It’s about politics, and class interest directs every loyalty.

GM Ted Thompson & the consortium running the Green Bay Packers, are publicly stating their QB situation is stable, and they like what they have going forwards… In Green Bay it’s two unproven rookies for QB. The 4-2 Packers are going with rookie-QB Brett Hundley this Sunday at Lambeau Field against the 3-2 Saints. This is more-or-less what 20+ other teams (that would also improve themselves by signing QB Colin Kaepernick) are doing.

Here’s some necessary background on how Colin Kaepernick became a free agent, and thus blacklisted. The San Francisco 49ers tried to cut him, before his 2016 salary became guaranteed in March of that year, because he hadn’t fully recovered from sustained injuries. Fortunately for Kaepernick, an NFL player with a guaranteed contract (like CK had), can’t be cut if he’s on the injured list.

Kaepernick was always considered the 49ers starting QB in 2016 from the beginning, he was simply unavailable for the first 6 games– due to injury rehabilitation. He finished the season productive & healthy on a bad team, and opted-out of his contract because the 49ers were going to cut him anyways–  over the Anthem protest controversy he had started. Opting-out was his attempt to get himself into the free agent market early, so he would have as many potential suitors as possible. No one ever called. As we can see, there are OSHA, worker compensation & other rights’ issues here. That’s why this topic is so explosive.

In an ESPN article published yesterday, SF 49ers owner Jed York said, “[I]t’s not about collective bargaining issues, it’s not about workplace environment…,”  when those are precisely the issues. Sports fans need to stop believing lying billionaire team-owners, as this sports-addiction has become too costly for all of us. Too much of it funnels into unhealthy & reactionary tendencies. That is at the heart of this conflict for many, many football fans.

Every time Trump tweets on the NFL, everyone in the league office has their blood-pressure go up 100+ points. When the dust settles, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has to sit down with Trump privately, so they can appear to be in unison again– and so it goes on.  Donald Trump simply manipulates anyone (or anything) he wants, to meet whatever reactionary agenda is on his docket. Many powerful people, in even-higher places, are getting tired of his act.

This is clearly a blacklist, and it is why Colin Kaepernick is now suing the NFL and its owners for collusion. If there is justice, Kaepernick will win– or better, he will soon be offered a NFL contract. I expect neither from the owners, nor the bourgeois ‘halls of justice.’

One can take either 1) owner’s & management’s words to heart–like a naive fool; or 2) see through the lies of the NFL, which is blacklisting a quality QB for his political dissent, while threatening to do the same to other players– see Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones [1].

On the flag and respect for military veterans. It isn’t a soldiers’ choice in war, he is sent & obeys because it’s his duty– like all the rest. Meanwhile others such as myself get to go to college… That’s a great divider, in class, and feelings towards war.  My friends & classmates from high school (and ALL others) didn’t serve as soldiers to be used as pawns by politicians of ANY stripe. They served so “We the (Working) People” have the right to call these politicians out as liars & criminals– because they are.

This paranoid reaction of censorship & blacklisting must be met with determined & fierce resistance. Those who served in the military must be allowed to speak for themselves, because those are the rights they fought for– (or were told that’s what they fought for). It turns out that many veteran feel lied-to by Uncle Sam, yet you rarely (if ever) hear that sentiment expressed in the media. Only on the fringes, yet in reality it’s a widespread understanding among veterans that the US government is corrupt to the core.

That’s why most veterans still have guns, and exercise them regularly. They fought for that right too, and are serious about that one in particular. Veterans need to realize that EVERY right for EVERY person needs to be defended with that same vigilance, otherwise ALL rights disappear. In other words, it’s time for them to join the socialist revolution, through the World Socialist Web Site at wsws.org.

Back to sports, which is a business. It hurts as a fan when you grow up and realize the truth. Upon reading the ESPN write-ups of the players-and-owners meeting on Tuesday, I knew the players were lost. They spoke to the press afterwards in terms of, “… getting their message through… constructive conversation…, etc…” Remarkably, no mention of the National Anthem. It was expressly stated by both the owners & players that the issue didn’t come up [!].

The players need to smell the rat here, and it’s the union bureaucracy & their lawyers. The players didn’t even bring up the fundamental issue (which everyone has been talking about for weeks now) to the owners, according to every player account of the Tuesday meeting. If that’s what happened (and it appears it is), then this meeting was clearly a waste of time for everybody, as nothing of substance was discussed.

On hand at the October 17th meeting were NFL Commish Roger Goodell and the league’s football operations chief, former player Troy Vincent.

Owners: Michael Bidwill (Arizona), Arthur Blank (Atlanta), Terry Pegula (Buffalo), Robert McNair (Houston), Shad Khan (Jacksonville), Ross, Robert Kraft (New England), John Mara (New York Giants), Art Rooney (Pittsburgh), Jeffrey Lurie (Philadelphia) and Jed York (San Francisco).

Former player Anquan Boldin, and current players Darius Butler (Colts); Eric Reid (49ers); Russell Okung (Los Angeles Chargers); Kenny Stills, Julius Thomas and Michael Thomas (Miami); Mark Herzlich (New York Giants); Kelvin Beachum and Demario Davis (New York Jets); Malcolm Jenkins [above] and Chris Long (Philadelphia); and Josh Norman (Washington) [1].

Representing the players were NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith and president Eric Winston.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones wasn’t even at this Tuesday meeting, basically blowing the players off. The players didn’t even recognize (much less acknowledge) this, in their press comments. Since Jerry Jones is the owner who is driving this issue for all the rest (& NFL commissioner Roger Goodell), the double-cross will come when the players are looking the other way, with assistance from the union. If the chief conspirator can avoid looking his victims in the eye beforehand, so much the better for him and their cause. Who will warn the players by telling them the truth?

The brains of the corruption-ridden NFLPA is black racialist attorney DeMaurice Smith, the Executive Director of the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA)– elected on March 15, 2009. Prior, DeMaurice Smith was a trial lawyer and litigation partner in a white-collar Washington, D.C. firm. NFL players mostly come from ghettos & poor rural areas, so the hypocrisy in class interests for the rank-and-file in legal representation of the NFL players is clear to Marxists.

The NFL players have basically lost every labor stand-off they’ve ever had with their owners. The NFLPA (union bureaucracy) is staffed with too many ex-players suffering too much CTE brain damage– making these public figures easy prey for ownership manipulation in negotiations. It’s no secret if you actually look at it closely, but not any dummy can figure it out.

The NFL players have no leadership. Note that QB Colin Kaepernick wasn’t invited to this meeting, by any NFL official or authorized union representative of the NFLPA. That explains the rapid movement to the right on this fundamental workers’ rights issue, which every sports fans has a strong opinion on. Many players stated they wanted Kaepernick there, and didn’t know why he wasn’t invited? The NFL players need to elect new leaders for themselves, the same way labor workers need to, on any other job site.

This is fundamentally a labor rights issue. The question becomes: will the NFL players (and eventually the rest of us), be compelled to express political & religious obedience on command? If you don’t have the right to oppose tyranny & lies, then it’s dictatorship with a military-intelligence-police-state apparatus controlling everything, through Wall Street & the banks. This must be opposed with true democracy, which can only be achieved through a socialist revolution in permanence.

 

      1. Working Class

 

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Top-10: Minnesota Vikings Terrible

This list was surprisingly easy to compile, ~ 30 minutes off the top of my head. This organization is a model of dysfunction, remarkable in its inefficiency, even by capitalist standards.

10) PK Rick Danmeier, the last of the toe-punch kickers in the NFL. His XPM % would be <50% with today’s rules. Vikings head coach Bud ‘Stoneface’ Grant stuck with Danmeier’s awfulness season-after-season, saying he didn’t see the need to replace him. Maximum FG range– 43 yards or so, depending on the conditions…

Vikings hypothetical scenario in 1983:  4th & 9 on the opposing 28 yard-line, with the wind slightly gusting…. Bud Grant has a decision to make?  The field-goal attempt is spotted 7 yards back in that day, making it highly questionable…. Punter Greg Coleman (brother of Vince with the MLB St. Louis Cardinals), is an option here…

Frequent Result: “Vikings called for delay of game penalty– five yards… That definitely takes them out of Danmeier’s range… Coleman boots it high & deep…. and it’s a touch-back. Opposition’s ball on their 20-yard line– 1st & 10.”

9) 1998, when they were by far the best team in the NFL, and still lost in the NFC championship game– to a mediocre Atlanta Falcons team, that lost to the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl. That team is the NFC version of the 18-1 NE Patriots, that lost the Super Bowl to the NY Giants.  Roughly equivalent to the NBA’s Golden State Warriors 73-win season, where they lost the finals the Cleveland Cavilers.

8) Losing 4 Super Bowls— all in the 1970’s. Truth is: Tom Landry & Don Shula were more innovative, with roughly the same level of talent.

7) Never making it to another Super Bowl, since loss #4. With all of Bud Grant’s limitations, he’s still the best head coach in their history. I don’t know how you can be proud of that, but many faithful still are. It’s Brad Childress & Dennis Green competing for next-best Vikings head coach by result.

6) Trading HoF WR Randy Moss to the Raiders, for a 1st-round pick, which was yet another draft bust. Hall-of-Fame playmakers don’t grow on trees. Smart teams hold onto them. The only lasting playmakers the Vikings ever drafted (since 1960) are QB Fran Tarkenton, WR Anthony Carter, WR Randy Moss, and RB Adrian Paterson; with too many busts in between.

5) Scat-back Darren Nelson, instead of RB Marcus Allen;  In 1983, QB Dan Marino was available, but the Vikes took FS Joey Browner, etc… They’ve never replaced QB Fran Tarkenton, hence their SB-appearance drought. The Bills are are 0-4 in their Super Bowl appearances, but at least they got the QB they needed to get there (Jim Kelley) in this once-in-a-lifetime 1983 draft class. The Bills had to wait for Kelley, who signed with the USFL and played there for three seasons before it folded. That was the inaugural USFL draft, and the top player selected in it was Dan Marino. Their original ownership had more brains & innovation than the NFL, but then Donald Trump (& the rest of corporate America) came along [1].

4) Mike Lynn’s Herschel Walker trade, probably the worst trade in sports history. No deal represents such astounding ownership mis-management & short-sightedness more clearly, with a complete inability to identify talent or essential needs correctly.

3) Losing the 2009 conference championship game to the Saints, when they had the better team with QB Brett Favre in his last great season. They probably would have beaten the Colts in the SB, but were robbed by incompetent & inexplicably bad officiating. The NFL even changed its overtime rules because of how the game ended. It’s characteristic for the Vikings to lose in this fashion, it just is.

2) Les Steckel in 1984.  Steckel, a coach with a military background emphasizing discipline, became the 3rd head coach in franchise history, replacing Stoneface. Steckel ran a marine-style training (boot) camp, where his players didn’t learn to play football together, but instead competed for individual endurance & fitness prizes. For the record: All-Pro TE Steve Jordan won the overall team fitness award; and (50-year old) K Jan Stenerud won among the kickers, punters & QB’s [!]. I think they each won a VCR. The Vikes went 3-13 and were the joke of the league that season. Bud Grant briefly came out of retirement to replace Steckel in 1985. For true die-hards, this season hurt like no other in franchise history.

1) The Metrodome & now U.S. Bank Stadium with its a fixed-roof stadium. Metropolitan Stadium was better for the Vikings than either of these boondoggles, but then money rules. Artificial turf is an affront to athletes, as their health and well-being is being disregarded, for the preferences of the bourgeoisie.  The Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome extended a trend of artificial turf playing surfaces in the 1980’s, precisely when it should have gone away…

… onward to the present:

One of the NFL teams that should sign QB Colin Kaepernick is the Minnesota Vikings. They won’t because they are too stupid to ever win a Super Bowl. One note on blacklists, they’re “unofficial” by nature– therefore impossible to “prove,” unless you use your head and follow the money. Identifying blacklists is very much like dealing with dog shit. If it looks & smells like dog shit– it probably is.

The converse to that is this dirty parable: Two guys are walking along a road and come upon what appears to be a pile of dog shit.
The head guy say to the other, “Looks like dog shit. Take a closer look…”
So the other guy gets down on his knees and looks closely, then responding, “Looks like dog shit.”
Then the head guy says, “Smell it.”  So the other takes a whiff and replies, “Smells like dog shit.”
Then the head guy says, “Taste it.” So the other guy sticks his tongue on it and winces, “Tastes like dog shit!”

Then head honcho then grins & nods while summarizing, “Good thing we didn’t step in it.”

Colin Kaepernick would be an immediate upgrade for ~20 NFL teams, yet he can’t find a job. No question he’s blacklisted, that’s what his lawsuit against the NFL for collusion is about [2].

It’s a real problem in America when a top-level QB is blackballed for expressing a political opinion, for which he has every right to express; while (for instance) a serial rapist is still the starting QB in Pittsburgh.

This defines the “character” of the NFL and many of it’s fans. It’s getting to be too much nonsense, with these apologists in favor of blacklisting political dissent. If you feel the same, then speak up and act while you still have the right. It’s those who agree, but remain silent, who are the most complicit. Such behavior parallels Germany in the 1930’s…

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Talladega Racin’ & Mass Insanity

I’m listening on MRN online, so I know I’m getting the best coverage.  This one’s gonna hurt, I just know.  Here’s some of what I’m hearing, with me in […]

Grand Marshall: Governor of Alabama, Kay Ivey (above)
“Lady & gentlemen… start your engines.”   [Shit]

Dave Moody (above): “…and when necessary,  4 and 5-wide coming out of turn 2 [!] …..” [Critique: I like Dave Moody who calls turns 1 & 2 for most NASCAR Cup events– he knows & loves racing, and isn’t afraid to speak his mind– mostly. He gets a lot of airtime, and he deserves it, as he has lots of fans. He’s a big dude, so he fits right in there…]

Mike Bagley (below): “…drafting three-and-four-wide on the backstretch, if you bail out of the draft– you go to the back..”  [Critique: Mike Bagley calls turns 3 & 4, and is more cerebral (which I like), but still gets worked up as things begin to heat up– which I also like. Moody & Bagley work well together, and they are one of the best parts of the NASCAR race day experience]

The MRN pit reporters do a nice job explaining the essentials: 46 laps max on fuel, tire strategy isn’t in play at Talladega– with 6 sets on the ground, and one on the car to start. Everyone finishes with plenty of tires. [It’s finishing with plenty of car that’s tricky]. Avoiding a speeding penalty on pit road, is stressed; [but that really doesn’t matter either, as Dale, Jr gets his 8th pit-road speeding infraction of the season on lap 52, yet he still finishes 7th, and was in contention for the win at the end, simply because he was one of the few cars still on the track].

Every guys’ MRN-favorite is Kim Coon (below) in the pits, garage & care center– and also monitoring social media, which is very important to NASCAR & its fans. You can understand why?

Talladega is 188 laps, distancing 500 miles. The first two stages end at lap 55, and lap 110. Each lap is 2.66 miles, the longest anywhere. Talladega is notoriously the fastest and most-dangerous racetrack in the world.

Jamie McMurray, Jeffrey Earnhardt and Mark Thompson are involved in an early wreck. McMurray has major damage, as it seems you can’t cut across a faster car coming off turn-4 into pit road, especially at Talladega. [Who knew?]  That ends #1 McMurray’s play-off hopes, unless he wins at Kansas next week, which he won’t.

(Above) in the broadcast booth, Joe Moore stresses this is another of the big challenges at Talladega… [By this he means: any idiot can cause a major wreck at anytime, anywhere, and there’s nothing you can do to avoid it. That’s Talladega…]

Following online means checking the NASCAR update feed. Here it is [edited for clarity & correction] for Talladega on October 15, 2017:

Lap 29: After the McMurray wreck, and pit-road-closed penalties were issued to 6 drivers: 24, 88, 23, 27, 42, 95.

Lap 30: Drivers who didn’t pit during caution now on pit road: 20, 78, 19, 11, 18, 48, 6, 32, 5, 13.

Lap 38: Top-six cars are single file: 22, 2, 14, 21, 41, 19. Three-wide racing behind them.

Lap 51: Caution is out! Paul Menard #27 gets into the wall in Turn 3. Thinks he cut a left-front tire.

Lap 52: No takers as far as the leaders are concerned on pit road. Others pit: 18, 88, 42, 20, 34, 19, 78 among them.

Lap 52: Penalty for @DaleJr. Too fast on pit road. He’ll start from tail end of the longest line for restart. [8th time this season, most in NASCAR]

Lap 78: Matt Dibenedetto #32 now has a 21-second lead over second-place driver Stenhouse.  [This isn’t supposed to be happening. NASCAR will do something to ‘correct’ this]

Lap 81: Caution is out for debris. Denny Hamlin loose wheel onto pit road, [saved his race…. was running 31st– Suh-prize!]

Lap 81: Caution came out as @dennyhamlin pits for loose wheel. He beats the lead to the pit out line. Stays on lead lap

Lap 156: @keselowski is the only driver to come down pit road under caution. Attempting to fix radio issues. [He took the extra time to do it, and he ended up winning Talladega– racing is a team sport. Being in back helped #2 avoid the wrecks up front. Hard to believe that could be race strategy, but there you are.]

Lap 171: New leader! @Daniel_SuarezG takes the lead from @joeylogano.

Lap 171: Red flag is out. Cars involved in the Big One: 17, 78, 41, 18, 38, 95, 34, 20, 10, 3, 4, 75, 32, 95, 48… Officially, 16 cars involved in the multi-car wreck at @TalladegaSuperS. [SHIT– my driver wrecked again. I hate NASCAR]

Lap 177: Caution is out! Ryan Blaney, Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano, Brendan Gaughan involved.

Lap 179: Lineup for the restart with just 8 laps to go: 19, 24, 88, 42, 2, 11, 31, 5, 13, 42, 83, 27, 38, 37.

Lap 182: Caution is out! @chaseelliott tags @Daniel_SuarezG and they wreck.

Lap 182: Red flag is out at @TalladegaSuperS once again. Cars involved: 19, 24, 42, 37.

Lap 183: Still under a red flag. Leaderboard: 2, 31, 88, 11, 13, 5, 43, 6, 83, 38. [Everyone else is wrecked]

There is no way NASCAR can race 40 of today’s cars at Talladega, and not end up with a wreck-fest. Twenty is probably too many. NASCAR needs to get this track under control, for the safety of it’s drivers. To say this race is a joke, only minimizes how dangerous Talladega is. Luck is primary in avoiding the two or three BIG ONES at Talladega.

Martin Truex, Jr #78 needs to know you can’t bump another car in the draft going into the corner at Talladega. That frequently causes a BIG ONE.  Chase Elliott #24 needs to know that you must stay behind the lane leader (#19– Daniel Suarez) and stay in the draft, instead of trying for 3-wide in the corner at Talladega– as that will cause a BIG ONE. Fans know this. Why don’t these “professionals” understand this?

These are supposedly the top drivers. F1 and Indycar must look at NASCAR as a joke, which it is. That spectacle on Sunday was possibly the worst race ever held at a major venue– a complete disgrace to sports. The Talladega infield faithful  & the rest who cheered at every crash are reactionary idiots. Why do NASCAR and its sponsors continue to cater to them? Answer: To dumb fans down to their level.

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National Anthem Protocol for Revolutionists

There has been much talk about behavior during the playing of the National Anthem at sporting events. Notice how it’s always the behavior of the players (workers), that is the focus of discussion. The owners & fascist fans can do whatever they want, but the players must be strictly controlled & censured. Each league has now re-iterated and/or clarified it’s policy during the National Anthem performance [1].

Of course, few ever bother to ask the most-important question, “Why is this song even played before sporting events?” That question is not allowed to be asked, and if you do, you are blacklisted by the “legitimate” media & political world. Americans are divided over the National Anthem on class lines. This fact is always concealed by ESPN & the rest of the corporate fake media.

One of the silver linings to being blacklisted is that you can do whatever you want, because it doesn’t matter– as you are permanently shut out of the mainstream. You will never see ideas such as these expressed in corporate-controlled mass media.  In that spirit, these are my suggestions on how to approach this hot-button topic. I encourage others who feel similarly, to express yourself in a way that makes you feel comfortable, while staying true. By the way, all this also applies to “God Bless America,” (or anything else that shouldn’t be played) during the 7th-inning stretch, etc.

For many like me, the National Anthem is a convenient bathroom break, so as a rule I never kneel for it, although I sometimes squat. I’m not alone, as the bathroom is usually crowded while the Anthem is being performed. No one takes their hat off, or stops mid-piss in the john. These are just personal observations from 40+ years of attending virtually every type of sporting event in the United States.

Professionally speaking, I don’t think “The Star-Spangled Banner” is a very good song. I was never all that moved by it, even as a child. But I will admit that I’ve sung it a lot, as it’s a useful song. By this I mean, “The Star-Spangled Banner” is a very difficult song to sing well. Therefore it is an excellent vocal-training tool. I’ve never sung it before an audience.

When the lyrics hit, “… and the rockets’ red glare,” is when most amateurs lose it. Often the Anthem performance is painful to watch/hear, especially when done by kids, but you are never allowed to be critical of that– after all this is AMERICA! We won’t allow our kids (who are trying their best) to be “bullied.”  So to be fair, here instead is one of the most infamous adult examples of Francis Scott [off]Key:

Beyond being a voice training tool, I don’t see much else of value here. It’s primary function (of course) is its nefarious use by the ruling class to whip up nationalism & militarism among under-educated workers & the rest. Why do team owners & their leagues fear these protests so much? To ask the question is to answer it, as it indicates how class divided we are as a society. This fact must be concealed at all costs, by the haves.

Free speech means you have the right to say whatever someone else deems as “most offensive,” just as long as you don’t threaten, libel, or cause a panic. It’s also free speech to stand like a zombie when the Anthem plays & the flag waves. We all make choices and live with them. Colin Kaepernick (SF 49ers), Bruce Maxwell (Oakland A’s), and every other athlete have this right, and those of us fighting fascism encourage every athlete to exercise it. As they have pointed out– too many don’t have a voice, so professional athletes are now behooved to stand up for them.

As far as Trump demanding respect for the flag goes, respect is a two-way street. Evidentially in order for 2016 NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson to get a White House invite, he has to hail Trump, while declaring his unabiding loyalty. Otherwise, no invitation. Jimmie Johnson has already said he supports everyone’s right to make their own decision, while personally standing for the flag & anthem [2]. That’s just not good enough, for everyone from Donald Trump to the liberal-Democrat McCarthyists who have censored the Internet and blacklisted all political opposition.

Do you know who the least likely people to stand and pay attention for “The Star-Spangled Banner” are?” Answer: The rich folks in the box seats. Check for yourself next time, if you don’t believe that. No one tunes in, or pays for a ticket to see the National Anthem performed, in any sport. Tell anyone who gives you flak on this, to get real with their hypocritical indignity, and then look for the class interest behind their attacks. The National Anthem (and the flag) are used as tools for class control. Working people must be made to bow before them, because it symbolizes the rule of wealth under capitalism.

 

      1. Land of the Free

 

The truth of truths here is that taking a knee, while courageous at first, still isn’t enough. Sports don’t unite us, they divide us– daily, in so many ways. That’s why front-row seats cost so much more. It’s a different game when you’re watching from the nose-bleed seats, isn’t it!? Within all this, the athletes themselves are divided, because their salaries are so varied. Rookies are generally underpaid, while veterans are overpaid. There are only a few superstars in each sport, and they usually get all the ink, especially when labor issues arise.

Taking a knee, now gives ANY athlete an opportunity to express themselves. Most still don’t, out of fear of being blacklisted. Colin Kaepernick is most-definitely blacklisted by the NFL, as he’s easily a top-10 QB– which ~20 teams need. Winning on the field is important to most owners, but protecting their wealth is EVERYTHING. Sports are owned by billionaires, who provide a vehicle for the rulers of capitalism (Wall Street & Madison Avenue) to exercise mind-control class warfare on the population.

In the end, we watch sports because we love them. These athletes do things we can’t, and it’s fun (and sometimes amazing) to watch them work. Most fans are with the athletes in all this, as they (at least) can feel things being manipulated, even if they don’t fully understand it. Many others already know, and their numbers are increasing daily.

This is what the ruling class fears above all else: a movement from the working people that gets out of their control. Modern sports, combined with social media and the Internet, now provide global links for discussions that can create worker solidarity across all fields.  That is the power which fans & athletes must harness into a revolution, in order to stop this unending cycle of capitalist violence.

If this isn’t done, be forewarned that fascism is preparing itself for a hostile takeover. It’s political base is still weak, and they can still be contained & defeated, but only through conscious revolutionary action. Anything less is an empty gesture.

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US Open Tennis & Bitch Factor

Bitch factor (noun): Something to never ignore or underrate. If you do, it will emasculate you– viciously.

Men’s tennis needs Federer-Nadal in the semis (and we all hope it happens), but it’s just to keep pace with Maria Sharapova taking on the rest of the women– which is now the ONLY story at the 2017 US Open. For the record, I’m a tennis fan, so unless they are match fixing or behaving Nick Kyrgios-bad, I cut them some slack & love them all– really. But this following fact must be pointed out, and fully understood by ALL sports fans: Venus & Serena Williams have therapeutic use exemptions (TUE’s) for prednisolone– a steroid, and oxycodone– a narcotic pain-reliever [1]. A TUE is a medical permission slip to use banned substances.

Is it fair they were/are allowed to compete against others, with that chemical advantage? Why doesn’t anyone at ESPN (or anywhere else) ask them about it?  Last I saw, over 100 players (ATP & WTA) are competing with TUE’s.  Meldonium is a caffeine pill compared to that, and yet Maria Sharapova (alone) is to be made the poster-girl for doping in tennis. It’s so obviously political at WADA, ITF, IOC, etc– and your position on it betrays your interests. That’s what a lightning rod like Maria Sharapova does to people, and that’s why she’s jealously hated by her colleagues. Lot’s of bitch factor here, which has raised everyone’s interest about 1000%!

More people should respect (and let themselves be amazed by) the interest Sharapova instantly delivers, as that’s a true force of nature. In a word: mesmerizing. That has major value. She is giving everyone a chance to express themselves, and if she had been denied the wild card for this US Open, then none of this passionate dialogue would exist. No story, because there’s no real interest. You must respect that, even if you don’t like her game on the court. If you can’t do (at least) that, then you’re a hypocritical hater.

CoCo Vandeweghe believes Maria Sharapova’s wild card could’ve been used on American player

Bitch factor went up early, when CoCo Vandeweghe (below) was asked about Maria Sharapova getting a wild card, which she needed in order to play in the event. CoCo has a right to her opinion. And once she expresses it publicly, fans then have the right to criticize CoCo for her nationalist chauvinism, and inability to see the bigger picture.

In the last 6 months or so, Maria Sharapova has been featured on the cover of People, Vanity Fair, etc… She lives in the US, and is as “American” as anyone on the WTA. CoCo’s prejudiced comments betray a hidden agenda, that is ugly & all-too-common. Does anyone believe ESPN has the guts to investigate further, seek clarification, etc… or would that cut across their narratives?

Putting Maria Sharapova on center court ‘doesn’t set a good example,’ Caroline Wozniacki says

After Caroline Wozniacki went down in the second round, she dragged Sharapova though the mud (again) in her post-match comments to the media, essentially blaming Sharapova (at least in part) for her loss to another opponent, as well as the court assignments.  Being a bitchy sore loser doesn’t set a good example, I say.

To all those venting on Maria Sharapova, consider this. The most-commented-upon ESPN tennis articles this US Open are the ones featuring her. Even Roger Federer and Venus Williams don’t provoke the reactions Sharapova does. Serena Williams gets some love [!] for having her baby, but then it’s right back to Sharapova. Women do get jealous on that, a FYI for you young boys & clueless guys.

Maria Sharapova advances, returns shot at Caroline Wozniacki

Maria Sharapova’s response to Caroline Wozniacki criticisms, after winning her third-round match:

“That’s not what matters to me. All that matters to me is I’m in the fourth round. I’m not sure where she is. With regards to scheduling, as you know, I don’t make the schedule. I’m a pretty big competitor. If you put me out in a parking lot of Queens in New York City, I’m happy to play there.”

Let’s add it up. Five-time Grand Slam champion, stunning beauty, and quotable. Yeah, that belongs on Center Court.

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Is Danica Patrick Retiring?

I keep commenting in NASCAR forums dominated by haters: “We need more stories on Danica.” Notice how people always have to comment on her when the topic is NASCAR, even when the write-up or conversation hasn’t mentioned her? They’re always VERY passionate about it. They’ll miss her when she’s gone, just like everyone else.

Some thoughts on why Danica Patrick isn’t so excited about Bristol [1]. The #10 car has neither the speed nor handling to stay with the leaders, especially on a round short track. She’ll likely be lapped by Truex (& the rest) early, lacking the horsepower to get back on the lead lap. Maybe a lucky dog, wave around, or caution breaks for her, but that’s not much to hope for.

All this has led to speculation that Danica Patrick will be done with professional racing after this 2017 season. If she does retire, it’s a much bigger story than Dale Earnhardt, Jr leaving as a driver. WAY BIGGER, and it’s hardly being whispered in the media. Junior Nation is moving up into the broadcast booth in 2018, which is awesome, as it keeps everyone in NASCAR happy. Danica (on the other hand) is a global icon, with strong appeal among the New York (ESPN) & the Hollywood elite crowd, so she’s probably gone for good– as far as NASCAR is concerned.

The list of NASCAR top-name drivers retiring (or being retired) in 2017 is noteworthy to hardcore fans. Earnhardt, Jr for sure; with Matt Kenseth, Kasey Kahne, Kurt Busch, Clint Bowyer, and now Danica Patrick all likely to not return. Those are two of their biggest stars (Junior & Danica– whichever order you want), and about one-third of the veteran drivers. What about Trevor Bayne at Roush Fenway? The point is, this carnage isn’t over. Race teams are going into cost cutting mode, and drivers salaries are where it starts.

The truth is NASCAR’s Good ‘Ol Boy network underrated, ignored, and intentionally wrecked her– out of jealousy. Danica reaches across class, age, race & gender boundaries like no other athlete; including Tiger Woods, Tom Brady, Roger Federer or Lebron James. I shouldn’t have to tell you why?

Danica Patrick is the only woman to compete against men– in any major sport’s series, for her entire career. And if only one (1) career victory (Indycar) is all she gets, then it’s still good enough in terms of her racing Hall-of-Fame credentials. In Patrick’s case, it’s about her impact on motorsports, which is incalculable.

She was a primary impetus for SAFER barriers. The one thing that could never be allowed to happen (besides her winning), was for her to get killed in a race car. The safety advances she inspired which value women’s lives above men’s is inherently unfair, but pays-it-back by benefiting ALL drivers. If that’s what it takes to make a sport safer & better, then we need more women competing & participating with men. As a parallel, if more women actually participated in war, then we’d have less killing & horrible injuries. Just something to consider…

Danica Patrick handled all the unfairness & cruelty directed at her, as well as anyone could expect. She must have known that her results & competitiveness were being suppressed by male chauvinism & hate. Her driving skills are undeniable to those who competed against her. Open wheel racing, and now NASCAR, are never to be the same again. It used to be “Gentlemen, start your engines!” Who do you think changed all that?

For those who don’t get it: racing is about men competing for the best pussy. When Danica (stunning female) is on the track, and every guy is racing to cut her off, bump & grind her, spin her out, or wreck her– just so they can get off. This is egotistical primal instinct, which ignorance refuses to temper or manage. That’s NASCAR.

Danica Patrick’s elite driving skills rarely get to come into play in NASCAR, as the field is jammed up with dick-weeds, most of whom know they can’t compete, so messing with her is their next best thing. On the other end, the elite NASCAR assholes (JGR) get their wins early in the season, and with their post-season ticket punched, spend much of their remaining time wrecking her– just for kicks. When the Chase starts, she’s not in it, so she’s forgotten. Might this explain why she can’t get enough sponsorship anymore?

As far as retirement goes, her fans will understand. Who needs all this? Danica is a superstar, yet her job sounds like so many of our own work days, filled with joyless drudgery & obligation to others. Where is the time for happiness? Hopefully she’ll find it in retirement, because it’s clear she’s having no fun on the track anymore.

If you missed her career then shame on you, because it’s been really amazing. Beyond beauty, her career is defined by unbreakable determination & underrated intelligence. My personal polling shows Danica Patrick is disliked by most adult women out of jealousy, which is their problem. There are a few women (usually Dale, Jr fans) who say, “Bless your heart!”  For the boys & men, Danica is everyone’s girlfriend (she doesn’t mind, in fact she make a lot of money on it)– and that’s what makes her so awesome.  So (guys), can you can see how there would be some bitch factor hating on her? In short: there is no athlete like her, and no one to replace her.

Footnote: The closest thing NASCAR has to replacing Danica, is Darrell “Bubba” Wallace, Jr– which obviously isn’t the same thing. In case you haven’t noticed, Bubba is black. NASCAR considers this to be very important to their sponsors & ratings, and it’s why they are pushing hard for a team to give him a Cup ride in 2018.

Darrell Wallace, Jr did a nice job filling in for Aric Almirola’s #43 while he was recovering from a broken back. Unfortunately, Bubba’s truck series victory at Michigan last week has been encumbered by NASCAR, after failing post-race inspection. L1 penalty, $5K fine, and crew chief suspension for Bristol. NASCAR and their many of their fans want Wallace in a Cup ride, but this doesn’t help. I hope the kid gets a shot, but he needs to play fair. When you’re a woman or minority (Daniel Suarez) driver in NASCAR, you need to be squeaky clean. And the flipside is: sponsors are OK with cheating, just as long as you aren’t busted. Too much hypocrisy for you?  Welcome to the show that never ends.

Post-Script 9-1-17: Timeline of 2017 sponsors for Danica Patrick

Nature’s Bakery reneges on the remaining 2 years of their 3-year deal with Danica Patrick & SHR in late-January. The only sponsors she had left for the upcoming 36-race season were Aspen Dental for 4 races, Tax Act for 4-6 races, and Mobil/Exxon for 2 races, and Ford for 1-2 races. Many in the industry speculated she wouldn’t make it through the season, with so little time to find new sponsorship. Here is what’s happened since:

Aspen Dental immediately committed to “double–digit” races with Danica Patrick. Aspen soon after became the “official dentist of NASCAR.”

Wonder Woman (2017) opened on June 2, and a huge part of its promotional campaign was Danica. Who else could it have been in NASCAR? Wonder Woman is a bad movie artistically, but it’s a blockbuster hit, as you can see:

Budget $149 million
Box office $806.8 million

It’s not unreasonable to presume that Danica driving as Wonder Woman added tens-of-millions of dollars to the box office.

With a sponsorship shortfall starting to kick in by May, Patrick went the charitable route for several race sponsorships. Code 3 Associates is an animal rescue charity she supports. It also serves as a write-off for her, and when you have her kind of money, you need them. I believe Aspen Dental also picks up part of the bill, as it’s almost always in their blue & white color scheme.

Nature’s Bakery insisted on 2 more races with Danica in 2017, as part of their legal settlement with SHR around mid-season. This is after NB claimed Danica didn’t “represent them well enough” in their lawsuit. Funny how that all turns back around, isn’t it?

Now she’s unveiling her Richmond sponsor: Warrior by Danica, in partnership with the Home Shopping Network (HSN). She’s been moving inventory on HSN for awhile now, after starting her own clothing line last year. Danica Patrick is skilled in sewing, and was motivated by being stiffed by NASCAR on the t-shirt merchandising year-after-year. Her shirts are always the first to fly off the racks, but she has no leverage and accepts whatever pittance NASCAR says they’ll pay her. Now she’s investing in her own sponsorship, and changing the rules– again!

Usually athletes are hustling for someone else. Now Danica is promoting herself, as she has a business plan and the money to do it. That’s what you do when everyone says you’re out-of-options, and nobody does it better than Danica. That’s how you go out, and it’s truly a brilliant move.

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San Diego Keeping Andy Green

Padres extend manager Green’s contract
Skipper’s deal was set to end after 2018; now through ’21

I read this piece, and had to comment. This is what I said, with final thoughts added.

There is no question to this: If Padres GM AJ Preller didn’t extend Andy Green, then some big-spending competitive team would have made him an offer.

More on why this was such a prescient move. Note that a lot of the comments from Padres fans are along the lines of, “They’re a lot better than most people said they would be.” Why is this? It certainly NOT because of the talent on their 25-man roster. Ace lefty reliever Brad Hand is the Padres lone All-Star in 2017.

What makes Hand extra-valuable is manager Andy Green knowing how to use him properly, which steals wins. It’s really hard for Friar’s fans to say who their next-most valuable player is, but it’s probably rookie CF Manny Margot.

This is the youngest roster in MLB, by far. They have carried three Rule 5 players this season, which usually guarantees 100+ losses. Their current winning % is .436, which translates to 70-92. The Padres have overplayed their Pythagorean projection by 8 games, and most of that is due to Brad Hand & Andy Green.

A set-back for the Padres this season has been the performance of 1B Wil Myers. Age 26 & healthy, he’s currently slashing .239/.320/.464. Still good defensively at 1B, but his lack-of-bat seems to have caused some regression there also, as he’s committing more mental errors in the field. The problem at the plate is strike zone judgment. He swings at too many 3-2 pitches that are ball 4, turning them into outs. It’s a team problem as the Padres hit too many solo HR’s (in terms of overall HR-type %), with the worst OBP in MLB. OBP is life in baseball; and pitching, defense & 3-run homers are what win.

As a Padres fan, I suspected trouble when Wil Myers came into Spring Training and stated his personal goal was “40 HR’s & 40 SB’s.”  Myers’ 28 SB w/ 6 CS in 2016, caught many people by surprise. He’s 11 SB w/ 5 CS, so far in 2017. He shouldn’t try to be a SB guy, he needs to stay healthy & mash. His 2018 (and beyond) goals will need to prioritize OBP, if he is to progress as a player.

The Padres invested heavily in Wil Myers this past off-season, so the motivation & resources will be made available. Wil Myers just needs to get his head straight and figure it out. He has all the talent in the world, and that’s why AJ Preller gave up so much to get him, Trading SS/UT Trea Turner & RHP Joe Ross (both currently DL-ed) to the Nationals in a 3-team deal. Rays got RF Steven Souza, Jr, and it’s still hard to know who actually got the best of that deal?  Sometimes it takes 3-5 years to know, and this is one of those cases. Padres need Wil Myers to work out, by being at least above-average production at 1B, otherwise their current rebuilding effort is already starting to crumble.

Final note on handling players. Padres manager Andy Green has done everything he can do with Wil Myers, including recently sitting him for 3 games to “straighten his head out, get a mental break, etc…” September call-ups need to play for the Padres.  As good as their farm system is, Wil Myers may be seeing some more bench time this season– who knows? Stabilizing a young core (with better talent) around him will certainly help. The Padres are definitely doing this, as lefty-hitting 2B Carlos Asuaje may be their most-recent MLB pipeline addition. Acquired in the Craig Kimbrel deal…

Star contracts are a tricky & delicate balance, as ownership/management uses the carrot & stick. The deciding factors always come down to character, motivation & intelligence. The Padres still seem to still believe in Myers, (who at least isn’t whining or venting on teammates), so there’s room for optimism, but there needs to be more tangible progression– soon.  We’ll see…

Hypothetically, a right-handed Joey Votto (career .313/.427/.541), with better defense & base-running should be Will Myers’ player goal. That may be a little lofty comparatively, but it should still be in the area of his goal. What Preller & Green need out of Myers is a durable, championship-caliber 3-hole hitter. That’s the franchise player who drives a lineup, and catapults a team (with any kind of pitching) into contention. It’s what the Padres paid for when they signed him for 6 years $83 M this past winter. How will it pay off through 2022, is a franchise-defining question that hasn’t been answered yet?

From a minor-league standpoint, 2017 has been a huge success for the Padres. Their teams are mostly winning, and their prospects are mostly advancing. AJ Preller has brought in a depth of talent that has transformed this franchise from a joke, into the #3-ranked farm system in MLB. Yankees & Braves are ranked 1-2. Yankees are in the AL, so no worries until the WS– which isn’t happening anytime soon in SD. The Braves have a mess on their ML roster, and their prospects haven’t performed as well as expected, SS Dansby Swanson being the most prominent example. The Padres farm system was 30th (or so), when Preller took over as GM in 2015. Perhaps what’s now most-exciting for Padres fans, is seeing better players (& pitchers) starting to pop-up– seemingly out of nowhere! This is an indication of superior deep scouting, followed-up with proper player development. When you do things right, and stick with it, nice surprises start to happen over & over.

The biggest Padres minor-league organizational set-back of 2017 was RHP Anderson Espinoza blowing out his elbow, necessitating Tommy John surgery. Recall this was the prized pitching prospect, dealt by the Red Sox for LHP Drew Pomeranz in 2016. Pomeranz has since pitched the whole time in Boston, even while AJP was suspended by MLB for “undisclosed anti-inflammatories” in this trade. The irony of all this only deepens for Padres fans.

It still takes awhile for what’s happening here to translate into winning at the MLB level, but the process the Padres are going through is fundamentally correct. If/when it happens, AJ Preller will have turned a hopeless organization into a winner, faster than any GM in modern baseball. In other words, the Padres have to win it all, for Preller & Green to be widely recognized as being the best. Based on their abilities and performance, they’re already at least in that discussion. The GM-manager relationship is the most important to any organization baseball. There has to be 100% agreement on everything between the two, otherwise factionalism & hidden agendas destroy team continuity & chemistry. Time is all that is required for positive proof in San Diego. The enemy is impatience & short-sightedness, which tends to be the preferred perspective of the naysayers & critics, only proving they refuse to understand anything.

Padres Injury Notes & Up-Coming Roster Decisions

AJ Preller took a low-cost free-agency flier on Jered Weaver, to see if he had anything left in the tank. He didn’t, but it didn’t really matter to the Padres season, so there’s no hard feelings. His type of retirement is always a bit awkward, as everyone remembers him as an Angel. Well-handled by the Padres organization & Jered Weaver.

Padres roster decisions GM AJ Preller will have to soon make include: LHP Christian Friedrich, who made $1.8M in 2017, but didn’t pitch at all due to injuries. Left lat muscle & elbow giving him pain. His root issue is lack of hip, back & core strength. Preller & Andy Green will have to decide if he’s worth another go around in arbitration. Preller found better low-cost options last winter, and I suspect he’ll release Friedrich and try a similar strategy this coming off-season. We’ll see how the market plays out after the World Series…

Age 27 LF Alex Dickerson was said to be a “big part of their 2017 plans,” by some in the Padres organization last winter. He of the career 1.0 WAR. I never believed it, especially when rumors surfaced of CF Travis Jankowski & Dickerson being floated as trade bait. Dickerson now has been diagnosed with a bulging disk in his lower back, and has been transferred to the 60-day DL. He’s most-likely finished as a big-league player, and note that this is how many, many sports’ careers come to an end– unnoticed & physically disabled, with pain.

Travis Jankowski (age 26, career -0.2 WAR) hurt his foot, and has been rehabbing in the minors. His 90 PA’s (so far) in AAA El Paso are .263/.378/.355. He still can’t hit lefties, and has no pop. These were the “top prospects” AJP inherited (most of the best of which, he kept), when he took over as GM. Jankowski is still cheap, but is he worth a 40-man roster spot, when better & younger prospects have to be protected (or else exposed) before the Rule 5 draft?

LHP Clayton Richard & RHP Jhoulys Chacin have both said they want to return, and the Padres should do it– if the cost & contract length is agreeable. Nothing more than 2 years, for either, and more-likely, one year. Padres may get priced-out by the big-silly spenders.

RHP Jarred Cosart is a medical case, and now a long-shot at age 27. Padres expect LHP Robbie Erlin to be ready for ST 2018. He’s still recovering from TJ surgery in 2016. RHP Colin Rea finally submitted to TJ surgery in 2017, after blowing his elbow out in his only appearance as a Miami Marlin in 2016. Pitching is so hard to find, and they’re all so very cheap, so the Padres most-likely keep them all.

 

Update [9-2-17]: Padres cut ties with hitting coach Zinter
Friars on pace to finish last in MLB in average, OBP in back-to-back years

Alan Zinter (below) was an organizational hire by AJP, brought in when Andy Green was hired. He was one of Green’s guys from his minor-league managing stint with the Diamondbacks. AJP is calling this move. OBP is their biggest weakness, so it makes sense. I wonder how bench coach Mark McGwire now fits into their plans?

The Padres have overachieved on their pitching, both starting & bullpen. Keep in mind that not much was expected from the rotation. This over achievement is due to Andy Green & Darren Balsley. The results on the offensive side haven’t been as impressive, and it’s not because Andy Green is a klutz when it comes to using his bench or writing in a lineup. It’s because OBP is life in baseball, and the Friars are dead last again. The Padres lineup can’t continue to allow opposing starters to roll through easy innings, with guys swinging themselves into easy outs. More walks put the pitcher in the stretch, which stresses them. This leads to longer innings, more base runners & more runs. More runs means more wins. The failures of Wil Myers & Hunter Renfroe (mentioned in the article) are the tangible reasons Alan Zinter is fired. His replacement will be expected to produce better results from these two & the rest, but especially from Myers as he’s the big contract. He’s got a ton of talent, which we’ve all seen, but he’s also got head problems it seems.

Sportswriter: What’s the best hitting advice you ever got?
Ted Williams: It was from Rogers Hornsby. He told me, “Make them throw you a strike.”

For Myers & Renfroe, new goals for counting stats need to be: more walks & doubles. This will correlate to less strikeouts & more hits. Cuttings down to protect with two strikes is a prudent approach, especially in stressful at-bats against tough pitchers. Both have the power to hit it out with less than a full swing anyways. What’s lacking is strike zone judgment & control. At times it appears there’s also no plan (individual or team) to attack a pitcher. Hitting is probably the most difficult skill in sports, so it’s not like anyone has figured out all the answers, but just seeing more pitches in an AB (even if it still produces an out), has value. The pitcher is throwing more pitches and will become more vulnerable, sooner.

Padres hitters need to take more of a grind approach to every AB. If this is done up & down the line-up (with their power), it will crush most NL pitching. Note– the best grinding line-up (in recent memory) was the 1998 NY Yankees. That was a high OBP, with power 1-9; and the Padres didn’t really have much of a chance against them even with their best team ever. In the NL it’s 1-8, so this can be achieved with less payroll, which is nice. This is the direction that Preller & Green want to offense to go, as this is what’s holding everything back. Once the line-up consistently produces, the young pitching will be ready from the minors.

Another feather in Andy Green’s cap is his use of defensive shifts, which were the most dramatic in MLB in 2016, his first year a manager. The league has caught up to him & the Padres, by increasing their shifting. The point is Andy Green sees all facets of the game, manages them masterfully, and is highly respected by his peers. Bruce Bochy was only the latest to pay his respects, after their last series. Green knows where his responsibilities begin & end, and is in full partnership with his GM. When the Padres actually have a MLB roster, instead of pre-arbs, prospects & Rule 5 selections, it’s going to get a lot better in a hurry. Manny Margot is a stud, and Carlos Asuaje is a possibility. The Kimbrel deal and all the other moves AJP made in 2016, are going to reap huge bounties for years to come, and it started showing in 2017.

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Why We Loathe Kyle Busch

Kyle Busch drives the #18 car in NASCAR’s Monster Energy Cup series. His team is Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), one of the top title contenders year-after-year. Through their manufacturer Toyota, JGR consistently fields some of the fastest cars on the grid, including (below) Kyle Busch’s #18.

Kyle Busch won the (then) Sprint Cup title in 2015, and is one of the winningest drivers remaining on the circuit. And yet so many racing fans dislike this guy and here is why?

These screenshots are all from 8-6-17 at Watkins Glen, NY– which is a road course.  In the first shot below, we have an aerial view of #18 Kyle Busch and #2 Brad Keselowski spinning off the course.

 

There are only two road-course races per season in NASCAR Cup competition, and they are considered ‘wild card’ races, which means they get more heated than usual, as more drivers feel they can actually win this race.

Above is Kyle Busch screaming into his radio, blaming (and threatening) another driver after he himself caused the spin-out, by trying to pass where he shouldn’t have. Drivers can’t pass around the ‘bus stop’ at Watkins Glen, and everyone except Kyle Busch accepts this. But instead of being contrite, Kyle is mad.

Sidenote: The last time Kyle Busch tried to ‘kill’ a Penske driver after a race was here, a few months ago:

In this video (which is hilarious) Kyle Busch was again driving way too aggressively in the corners, pinning a competitor too far down until he spun out. Kyle Busch gets REALLY mad when the wreck he causes spins into him, and causes him to wreck instead!

Professionally, that looks really bad so immediately he flips into spin mode. Whenever he’s yelling at whomever on his radio, it’s all a bleep-show for ScanAll & NASCAR America. Kyle Busch is mad, get out of his way– he owns the road!!

Kyle Busch is actually the worst form of driver, and there are far too many of his imitators out on our public roadways. Joey Logano handled himself beautifully, and I honestly became a bit of a fan for #22 at his “None on me” comment. Also gotta love the ninja skills in action.

Back to Watkins Glen:  Here is the dialogue between Kyle Busch and his crew chief (Adam Stevens), after the caution flag (which he caused) came out:

And here is Kyle Busch’s response:

Then the #18 spotter (Tony Hirschman) tries to settle his driver down, but Kyle Busch isn’t listening. As you can see below, the #18 is already into the #10 car on the re-start, as this conversation is happening…

…and there she goes again!!

If this was a serious racing series, the #18 car would be black-flagged as the race continues under green. Not a chance in NASCAR. In the earlier incident between Busch & Keselowski, the yellow flag was immediately thrown, even though both cars were able to get safely back onto the track. This is because both drivers are NASCAR favorites, and they can’t be allowed to lose valuable track position. There is no such concern for Danica Patrick as far as NASCAR goes, so it stays green as the field zooms by:

Here’s #10 car driver Danica Patrick’s initial response on the radio:

Then a more measured one:

Video is definitive evidence in NASCAR. Here’s the Fox Sports video from which these screenshots were taken.

Final thoughts: What’s the point of running against overgrown babies like Kyle Busch, who have superior cars and the freedom to wreck others? Kyle Busch insists on using dirty tactics whenever it suits him, then denies & blames others, knowing there will never be any serious repercussions from NASCAR. In fact it’s just the opposite, Kyle Busch is constantly promoted as one of NASCAR’s biggest stars.

Honestly, he’s just another reason to tune out.

Bristol Update (race held 8-19-17): Fans understand how much it helps Xfinity & their truck series to have star drivers like Kyle Busch competing in their races, they just aren’t THAT impressed when he clearly has the fastest car in the Cup event on Saturday night. “Crazy fast” was how another Cup team identified the #18 car on ScanAll/Radioactive. So how could minor-league drivers have a ghost of a chance against that package? Great sweep for him, but we’re just not as impressed as NASCAR die-hards & Kyle Busch. Brad Keselowski was right, JGR has been sandbagging. We’re 2 races from the Chase, and it’s showing up for real now.

As far as who NASCAR should hitch their wagon to for the next 10 years or so, it’s age-25 Kyle Larson. Kyle Busch is age 32. NASCAR is getting younger, and Kyle Busch will start seeing more competition from “teammates” Erik Jones & Daniel Suarez, as JGR commits to youth in 2018. If Busch can’t help develop these youngsters into elite drivers (because he’s only concerned with his results), then he quickly becomes a liability to JGR. Slippage will start to show soon at his age, since NASCAR is now becoming more of a sport.

Those who “hate losing more than they love winning” are the biggest jerks, sucking the joy out of everything [1]. It’s what makes them the biggest losers in the end, and it’s why so many loathe Kyle Busch. Yes, he can drive, and he’s active at all levels which is good for NASCAR, I guess? We just don’t understand him taking bows after winning truck-series races, against up-and-coming drivers who know they can’t compete with his far superior equipment & driving experience. It’s shooting fish in a barrel, and sportsmen (& women) don’t respect that so much.

 

      1. Haters, Step Aside - Ric Size

 

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