What is 1B Eric Hosmer Worth?

This article began as a commentary on the slow free-agent market in MLB, and soon metastasized into a serial edition. It’s still in-progress, as it has become a serious labor & political issue for players & fans. The latest updates are at the end.

In 2017, Hosmer had a career year, good for 4.0 WAR. I postulate that one win should cost $5-6M in today’s MLB free agency, and that you can never assume more than 4.0 WAR for any player. That means $20-24M/year is the free agency annual maximum, and this $1M/year ‘wiggle room’ is dependent on market size, competitive window, television deals, and other franchise considerations.

Keeping the free agent cost/win locked in at $5-6M makes sense, because it’s the fans who pay for the game, and too many can’t afford the current rate of star player salary escalation. MLB has reached it’s ceiling with many, many fans.

I believe even RF Bryce Harper & LHP Clayton Kershaw are in for rude surprises next winter, as any more $300M deals (Giancarlo Stanton) have been ruled out, and probably even $200M will be criticized as an overpay.

It’s the length over 4 years that kills organizations, and their fans recognize this & don’t like it. That’s why you have so much antipathy towards Scott Boras & the rest of these “super agents.” Fans can now do their own research, and often form better arguments than these high-powered lawyers. This tells you what Boras & Co. are really worth, and also that their influence (at this point) is entirely dependent on connections, instead of brains.

With all this said, Eric Hosmer is worth 3/$48M to the SD Padres, with an option year and $1M buyout, as he’s probably worth ~3 WAR/season over that deal. This also would keep the Friars under the $50M cap for forfeiting their second round draft pick, next June. These draft picks are EXTREMELY valuable to franchises today, and GM AJ Preller would prefer to draft another young arm, versus giving that selection to Kansas City in compensation for signing Hosmer.

If the Padres have to go over $50M & 4 years for Hosmer (most likely), then the average annual value (AAV) of the deal is lessened to say 5/$65M. Why? To make up for the cost of losing that draft pick. Otherwise, it’s an overpay.

Ideally the Padres would move Wil Myers to LF for 3-4 years, after which he will (most likely) need to move back to 1B. Anything <$100M for Eric Hosmer doesn’t cripple this franchise in 2019, or beyond. It would add a great defender with good OBP to a line-up that desperately needs it. In other words, from age 28-30 he’s a winning piece, but not the entire answer. From age 32 on, he’s a liability at anything over $10M/season.

There are new rules now in MLB free agency, since the current deal was ratified over a year ago. Signing qualified free agents can now force teams to forfeit international bonus allotments. The hard cap on international spending is new to the 2017-21 CBA. Also, exceeding the luxury tax by a wide enough margin will eventually cause teams to see their top pick pushed back 10 slots. The new CBA also added surcharges of 12% & 42.5% for exceeding the CBT by $20M & $40M, making $197M a hard team payroll cap for all intents & purposes [1].

With all this, the MLB owners have effectively found a way to de-incentivize signing top-dollar free agents. It can’t be properly labeled collusion, because the MLBPA agreed to these rules. This only proves that MLBPA executive director Tony Clark and the rest of his cohorts are incompetent puppets in the hands of ownership and its MLB commissioner’s office.

The vast majority of MLB players (at any time) are arbitration or pre-arb, and are unaffected (for now) by this slow FA signing season. Therefore their unity & readinesses to strike is virtually nil. Until something is proposed to increase pay for the majority of the players at the bottom of the MLB pay scale, then the players will remain divided & helpless. The problem for most professional baseball players are their sellout ‘representatives’ occupying the union leadership, working in collusion with ruthless ownership negotiators.

Update 2-7-18  Wednesday ~2:00 PM:

The MLBPA did nothing in the last round of CBA to help the players. Recall this was a historic negotiating session, as new rules for the international draft & free agency (as always) were on the table. Ownership set the framework for all the negotiations, as everything pertained to caps on spending.

For instance, in 2016 AJ Preller & the SD Padres broke the bank in international free agency, spending ~$75M and reaping an unprecedented talent haul. Now that can’t be done, as the cap is <$15M. The owners rigged MLB free agency the same way, essentially capping spending with it’s agreed-upon collectively bargained rules.

The union leaders & all the players’ agents did NOTHING to significantly raise the salaries of young players, who are the most-exploited & vast majority. That’s why free agents demand overpay contracts, as they’ve been underpaid for so long. I’m okay with the players striking, as long as it leads to more equal pay among ALL players. It’s a team game, and that means actual unity to win. This requires real leadership, which is something you can’t fake [2].

Update 2-8-18   Thursday ~Noon

Yesterday JD Martinez was reportedly (per Ken Rosenthal) “frustrated with the pace of negotiations,” but today Scott Boras is “serene and patient” in an ESPN interview. Do you believe any of this?

The free agent players are under pressure, as they have to play to get paid. The teams already have players, so they can hold out for the right price. That’s what’s going on. There is no mass player sentiment for a strike, as that trial balloon was shot down with violent reaction from the fans on social media when an agent brought it up a few days ago. How can there be player unity when each player retains their own agent? A handful of super agents control all the MLB players, with in the framework of a sellout bureaucratically-run union– the MLBPA.

When either Hosmer or Martinez first capitulate (as they must), that will signal the collapse of the free agent bubble, and you will then see a flurry of bargain free agent signings. Look for numbers in this range: JDM 4/60, Hosmer 3/50, with only 2-3 year deals for any pitcher. Pitchers & catchers report next week, so it’s about to get busy. This has actually been an amazing off-season to follow, due to it’s uniqueness.

Scott Boras sounds delusional in his analogies, don’t you think [3]?

It was Ken Rosenthal who yesterday reported ‘allegations’ of JD Martinez’s “frustrations” in these negotiations, which is really a non-story. Everyone gets emotional when money is on the table, so that’s only natural. Why didn’t Rosenthal report any MLB front-office frustrations? ESPN bias is against the free agent players, in an attempt to vilify ALL players (even the underpaid younger ones) as greedy & selfish. If no one wanted JD Martinez or Eric Hosmer, then there wouldn’t be all this cyber ink being spilled.

Miami Marlins news: An apologist & anonymous [!] AP writer assumes outfielder Lewis Brinson and the young prospects they received in their dump deals will pan out, only questioning whether the Marlins will be able to retain them in arbitration or beyond. But what if they don’t pan out? If that’s the case, then Derek Jeter & GM Mike Hill got nothing in return for four All-Stars. That leads Jeter to say stuff like, “I didn’t answer [the question], but we are listening.” [4]

Update: 2-9-18  Friday ~ Noon:

The shoddy & biased journalism continues. This free-agent hotstove piece is another buffer to blow smoke between the fans who want to know and the people who want to stay hidden. Just read these “updates” from MLB.com, which are entirely innuendo (whose?), as no one is on record:

“Brewers and Twins could be among the teams who have offered Darvish a nine-figure contract, according to a report from MLB Network insider Jon Heyman on Thursday….”

“A source told Heyman that Milwaukee is one of the clubs that has made Darvish a $100 million-plus offer.”

“Also per Heyman’s report, the Twins are believed to have been willing to offer Darvish a deal of five years or more…” [5]

Who are these “sources,” and what’s their credibility? I’ve seen online comments that say these things– is that a “source” here? This is speculation and nothing more. Until any of these “sources” can be confirmed with specifics, then there is nothing going on but manipulation. The question becomes: who’s behind this?

What’s going on is a factional war, much similar politically to the Trump military fascists (hard-line MLB owners), going off against the Democratic deep state Wall Street-intelligence apparatus (MLBPA & the agents). The minor leaguers & arbitration & pre-arbitration players are the working class, underpaid, exploited, and the vast majority.

The sell-out union bureaucracy signed off on this rotten CBA, which now even prevents free-agents from maximizing their value, due to the structure of the deal. No one feels sorry for guys who turn down 7/$140M or 5/$125M deals, but experience told Scott Boras (and all the rest), that was the play. Up until this year, the agents had always been right, and have profited handsomely. Remember, most of these player end up broke, five years after retirement. It’s the agents & networks who stick around to become rich & powerful.

So here we are, with pitcher’s & catcher’s reporting in less than a week, with RHP’s Hu Darvish & Jake Arrieta still unsigned. I believe the reports that claim the Brewers & Twins have made offers for Darvish, as he’s more desirable (< risky) than Arrieta. It’s a crapshoot with either, and that’s why so many have stayed away. Most don’t believe either pitcher can hold up, for the money they’re demanding.

The point is, it’s apparently two small-market teams making the strongest offers. That tells you the price has gone down dramatically. It’s the Yankees, Red Sox & Dodgers that drive up the free-agent market, and they aren’t interested. The Cubs are luke warm. That’s the dynamic in play, but never reported or analyzed in any meaningful way. That too is by design, and is in line with the “fake news,” Internet censorship & witch-hunting campaigns that are going on daily in what is called “news & politics.”

A small market team looking to boost their rotation would love to have Hu Darvish, but the terms need to be fair for the club and their fans. An overpay will cripple either of these franchises. A fair contract, followed by an arm blow-out is another deadly risk. I don’t see anything more than $60M and 3-4 years for either. It could even be less. If these pitchers get more, then someone overpaid, and it will hurt– sooner or later.

Updated 2-10-18   Saturday ~ Noon:

Here’s a look at the current MLB free-agent headlines, along with my comments…

Teams eyeing shorter-term deal with Arrieta [6]

“CBS Chicago’s Bruce Levine reported in November that the starting point for negotiations between clubs and Boras were in the six-year, $160 million range.”

Last year was RHP Jake Arrieta’s age-31 season, where he produced 1.9 WAR while being paid $15.6M by the Cubs. In 2015, he was the best pitcher in MLB, winning the NL Cy Young Award; he made $3.6M that year while being worth 8.4 WAR.

This is the problem with MLB contracts. The don’t pay the player what he’s worth, when he’s young & valuable. Now the players can’t get paid to make up for it, even in free-agency! Most players never reach free agency. This is the problem with the new CBA, negotiated by the sell-out MLBPA and the influential agents.

Rangers won’t rule out major free-agent grab
Stagnant market leaves things up in air for many, including Darvish, Rangers [7]

“Stagnant free-agent market” means no Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers or Dodgers blowing up the bidding. That’s either good or bad, depending on your perspective.

With eye to future, 5 clubs primed to pounce
Expiring contracts after ’18 has these teams in position to make a splash now [8]

Everyone of these listed FA players could help the assigned team in the article above. No question. The rub is: How much do they pay and for how long?  On that there is nothing.

IMG Academy, MLBPA join forces to host free-agent camp in Florida [9]

It will be the camp that no one wants to attend. Will they be selling tickets?

==== Saturday  ~10:00 PM ====

How Darvish deal impacts FA market
Dodgers could pursue available right-handers Arrieta, Lynn and Cobb [10]

Hu Darvish has reportedly agreed to a 6-yr/$126M deal with the Cubs, pending a physical. Darvish was the best pitcher available, but it’s still an overpay, because it’s the Cubs. That’s what top pitching costs, even in a depressed market. Darvish was traded from the Rangers to the Dodgers in 2017, so he doesn’t have a compensation pick tied to his signing.

Therefore, this free agent market is now capped at $21/year, as no remaining player is more valuable than Hu Darvish. One can now infer that the reported offers for OF/DH J.D. Martinez (5/125– Boston) and 1B Eric Hosmer (7/140– San Diego) are fictional at this point, and not-to-be-believed in media reports. Teams don’t need these bats like they need pitching. The big free-agent crash is still yet to come…

 

Monday 2-12-18 ~5:30 PM

Even as spring training begins, baseball’s endless offseason lingers [11]

The SD Padres under GM AJ Preller are the most-current example of why we have these new CBA rules. The Padres went into rebuild mode after their 2015 disaster campaign, where they had loaded up on free agents & contract veterans– James Shields, Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, BJ (Melvin) Upton, Craig Kimbrel & Ian Kennedy– and then crashed spectacularly.

Preller got busy after that season by trading Kimbrel to Boston for a huge prospect haul. AJP also collected compensation (QO) picks for J Upton & Ian Kennedy. Preller dumped the rest (and ate contract as needed) for whatever he could get in 2016, including SS prospect Fernando Tatis Jr from the White Sox for Shields. AJP even dumped his best organizational players, in sending RHP Andrew Cashner to Miami, and LHP Drew Pomeranz to Boston.

The Padres finished 4th in the NL West in 2015, and last 2016– netting high picks in all the drafts (Amateur, Rule 5 & Intl), and used them to their advantage. Example: carrying five Rule 5 players in 2016 & 2017 combined! AJP then broke the bank on the International draft in summer of 2016, spending ~$75M in acquiring a once-in-a-lifetime bounty of young talent. That provoked all the CBA rules changes, to which the players, MLBPA, and agents have yet to figure out.

Arrieta market may be down to Brewers, Twins [12]

The fan comments to yet-another ‘rumor piece’ on MLB.com are brutal & enlightening in their clarity & honesty. The fans know, and are now talking back to Scott Boras & the media… 120+ people listening…

It has been this author’s contention that a handful of super agents led by Scott Boras have been able to control the players’ union and manipulate MLB GM’s, to inflate the value of free agency– for decades. Now the market has come down to Boras, as he holds the top remaining pitcher– Jake Arrieta; along with the top remaining position players in: OF/DH JD Martinez, 1B Eric Hosmer & 3B Mike Moustakas (age 29, career: .251/.305/.425)– whom the Yankees would like at the right price. This is where the market will set, and it’s anyone’s guess as to whom among them will sign first? It will be a shocker to many (I can assure you), and a bloodbath from there on… Stay tuned!

Tuesday 2-13-18  ~ 9:00 AM

MLBPA bars media from covering free-agent training camp [13]

Tony Clark and the agents need to make a statement on this. What if a player gets seriously hurt in this free -gent camp? Who will pay for that player’s treatment and rehab? Why are they here in the first place? Why all the secrecy from the MLBPA? Is it because these are tough questions they can’t answer?

JD reunion with D-backs seems unlikely [14]

Did anyone notice the price tag on JD Martinez has just been dropped?!

“Reports have the Red Sox offering Martinez five years at over $100 million…”

That’s down from 5/$125M, which has been the number MLB has “reported” all off-season.

Wednesday 2-14-18  ~ 8:00 AM

Padres have Myers focused on first base
Club confident slugger could make quick adjustment back to outfield if Hosmer signs [15]

There is no other team interested in Eric Hosmer, as the Royals don’t want him back. He not going to sit the season out. Eric Hosmer has to play somewhere, and San Diego is the only fit. AJ Preller will wait as long as he has to, for Boras & Hosmer to give in.

This article is a message to them, the Padres have a contingency plan they can go with if they don’t sign him, which give them extra leverage. I put the chances of the Padres getting Hosmer at over 80% at this point. The contract length will be 4 years max, and no more than $75M.

D-backs exploring ‘creative’ ways to sign J.D. [16]

It’s now officially 5/$100M from Boston for Martinez, with no other bidders. The D-Backs can’t afford JD Martinez, with RHP Zack Greinke & 1B Paul Goldschmidt on the payroll already, as they are not a top-10 revenue club. The price for these remaining free-agents will continue to drop, unless other teams get serious, which doesn’t appear will be the case. That’s how this free-agent market is not working.

Yu’s a Cub, so Cards must make a FA splash

Closer Holland and third baseman Moustakas would both fill voids in St. Louis [17]

This is a shamefully obvious Scott Boras propaganda piece for 3B Mike Moustakas by Richard Justice. No mention that the Cardinals already acquired a major bat this off-season in CF Marcell Ozuna. What the Cards need is young starting pitching– like everyone else, not an aging & expensive closer in Greg Holland. Lazy & deceitful sports journalism from ESPN & MLB– all down the line.

Sunday 2-18-18 ~10:00 AM

Sources: Padres, Hosmer agree to 8-year deal [18]

The best free-agent position player signed with the Padres (8 yrs/$144M). When have you ever read that? This team is going to be competitive much sooner than people believe. I’ve seen prognostications for the Padres getting a few as 67 wins this season, which is silly & lazy analysis. This team will approach 80 wins in 2018, and be ready to compete for a WC in 2019.

Hosmer’s arrival will reshape outfield, lineup [19]

The Padres got the player they needed. As far as the contract numbers go, it’s hard to tell how it will all shake down with the opt-out (after the 5th year) and limited no-trade protection (after 3 years). Hosmer gets $20M for the first 5 seasons, the $13M for the last three. There is a $5M signing bonus, all totaling $144M. This deal doesn’t break the Padres, and gets them the OBP and improved defense they desperately needed. I can see AJP dealing Hosmer after the 3rd or 4th year. The Padres can hold on to Hosmer (if he’s aging well), and still trade him later if necessary, because his contract doesn’t balloon at the end. That’s the problem with albatrosses. Injury is the most significant risk for the Padres here.

Good day for Padres fans, as this was a bit of an overpay, but not a franchise back-breaker. They lose their third pick in the upcoming June amateur draft, which goes to the KC Royals as compensation. If the Padres had been picking outside the top-10, this contract would have been for less money, as the Padres would have been forced to forfeit their 1st-round pick– which is much more valuable.

You KNOW there was tough negotiating on all sides, as a whole lot of issues are in play, These are highly-intelligent & competitive people involved. Now the Padres have their 2018 lineup, and their fans are happy because it’s a whole lot better!

Tuesday 2-20-18   ~4:00 PM

JD Martinez has reportedly agreed to a 5/$110M with Boston Red Sox, with opt-out clauses after the second and third year. Martinez will be paid $25 million in 2018 and ’19 before the first opt out, Then $22 million in 2020 before the second opt out, and $19 million in the last two years, if he remains with the club. [20]

Everyone loves baseball again, how nice! Look for the top pitchers: Arrieta, Cobb & Lynn to go next… Then it’s one-year and even minor-league deals for most of the rest. Owners and GM’s have gone with youth over expensive veteran players, so many won’t even get a guaranteed contract offer it appears. Major CBA disaster for the players, that’s the off-season lesson in MLB.

Final Padres Notes:

Padres 2018 Opening Day line-up: CF Margot (R), 3B Headley (S), 1B Hosmer (L), RF Myers (R), LF Renfroe (R), 2B Asuaje (L), SS Galvis (S), C Hedges (R), LHP Richard. That’s a measurable improvement in OBP & L/R balance. The power is there too. If Myers & Renfroe can put it together, this lineup will be a monster for years to come.

Padres starting pitching is still too mediocre (and right-handed) to be competitive. When it comes to making the post-season and winning, it’s all about pitching. Clayton Richard & Robbie Erlin are the only lefty starter options for the Padres. This team can’t contend without better frontline starters, especially lefties. Their bullpen is solid, with LHP Brad Hand signed for the next 4 years, instead of traded away like all the ‘experts’ predicted. I predict 81-81 for the Padres in 2018.

Consider that AJP filled (or upgraded) every positional hole this off-season, and almost pulled off landing ace RHP Shohei Ohtani! Since Ohtani went to the Angels, Padres fans will have to wait another year for their top young pitching to arrive.

Every GM wanted to get at AJP’s prospects, and the only thing he dealt was RHP Enyel De Los Santos (minors) in the Freddy Galvis trade. AJ Preller also picked up a back-up catcher (AJ Ellis) and possibly a #2 starter (RHP Tyson Ross) on minor league deals. That wins the off-season for efficiency & brains, and only the Angels can rightly claim they did better than the Friars.

The market for free agent starters: Jake Arrieta, Alex Cobb & Lance Lynn will now take shape and consummate. All are probably too expensive for the Padres– and the rest is junk. There is nothing among this trio better than a #2 starter, and it’s high risk– especially with Arrieta. Lynn & Cobb are solid but more like #3 starters on championship teams. Luckily, AJP did a nice job stockpiling cheap arms over the winter, among his other activities, so he won’t be tempted to overpay for mediocrity.

The simplest rules in free agency are: 1) don’t over spend, 2) and sign the right guy for your needs. The Padres did both here, so it’s a successful off-season for them. The Padres needed a stabilizer in the middle of their line-up, as well as a team leader. Eric Hosmer provides that, as Wil Myers wasn’t the guy for that role. That’s a wrap. Over & Out on this free agency season.

Play ball!!

……….,.,><><><><><><>……….

Make ’em Laugh

What’s the speed of dark?    — Steven Wright

There are two ways to effectively influence people– beauty & comedy. Beauty is striking, and always works on the attracted sex. Comedy is more universal in that everyone loves to laugh, but it requires more attention & open-mindedness to get to. Too many people lack those skills, so they miss a lot of laughs. That’s a human society problem we need to address.

People might think it’s ridiculous to quantize comedy, but actually it’s easy. Everyone loves to laugh, and YouTube exists, so people experience it everyday. As with any other artistic genre, in comedy it still comes down to who makes us laugh. Everyone is influenced & shaped by the epoch they grew up in.

In the 1970’s, children were sat in front of a television set, as a means of occupying their attention, which had become an accepted parenting practice by then. More & more parents were being asked to multi-task, and television placated children, occupying their inquisitive minds. This allowed parents more time for leisure, or work– depending on their class. That’s part of television’s universal appeal.

What was television in the 1970’s? It had been colorized in most households, but black & white models were still common. Most homes only had one, maybe two sets. Remote controls were new, and crude, but everyone loved the innovation. The kids were the first to learn the nefarious ways you could “sneak the control,” and affect the room– mostly using volume. There were only a few buttons for tint, chromatic & contrast adjustment, and when you adjusted them, really wild stuff happened to the screen. That was new, back then.

As far as the broadcast content went, in reflection is was 95+% pablum. That leaves <5% cool. Most of what was cool, was funny. These are the people that made me laugh when I was growing up.

Sanford & Son had gone into re-run mode by the time I was allowed to watch it. The opening sequence, which they never changed in it’s entire 6-season run, was Redd Foxx walking out on his faux front porch, and sitting down to get out of the hot sun. What gets you going are two things: 1) You know Redd Foxx is hilarious and will say anything; and 2) Quincy Jones’ theme song, “The Streetbeater.”  That song has a bass line that grooves and bounces off the floor, with funky everything else. Gets me going every time…

The first time I saw Rodney Dangerfield was in a Miller Lite commercial. “I tell you I don’t get no respect…” He did a series of them with the beer sponsor, including this one where he’s bowling, and screws it up at the end. After that it was Caddyshack (1980) & Back to School (1986). Sam Kinison and many others (for better or worse…), were Dangerfield protégées.

In the 1970’s television programming was three (3) networks: CBS, NBC & ABC– roughly in that order of prestige. PBS was also available, when you switched your TV from UHF to VHF– manually. Home video games in America came along in 1977, when Atari released its VCS (Video Console System), later renamed the Atari 2600. This, along with the arcade revolution, changed television, youth culture & mass media– forever. The same can be said for the arrival of cable TV ~ 1980.

Comedy was hip to this. Saturday Night Live had launched, and became a cultural phenomenon which exists through today. What made it all work, was the talent. Bill Murray, Steve Martin, Dan Aykroyd & Eddie Murphy are all A-list Hollywood stars for a good reason. Chevy Chase made funny movies before he staled, while John Belushi did the same before he killed himself from excess. Their performances remain legendary, as testified to by the millions of people who still watch their movies, TV shows, and stand-up routines.

Generation X makes little distinction between stand-ups comedians, and funny actors, writers or whatever… Anyone who can make us laugh is funny, and therefore valuable. Making people laugh, and getting them to think about serious stuff, is genius. Comedy is a nice way for angry people to get through to other people. You can see this in Robin Williams and other geniuses like him.

There is a baseline level of respect, which always needs to be given to any good stand-up comedian. There is probably nothing harder in entertainment, than getting in front of a group of people, and making them laugh with fresh material. In rock music, if you suck, you can crank up the amps and blast everyone out. When it’s over, you leave, while their eardrums are still ringing. Elvis has left the building, with all your money– so go home.

In comedy, there’s low-volume heckling, which is part of the deal. You have to handle that, which can get personal. The trick is to handle the heckler, as part of a funny act. Comedy is an act, but for the true masters, it’s also natural. Jerry Seinfeld is who he is, and that’s his act. He’s a prodigy who has the gift, and lives for the laugh. George Carlin & Richard Pryor are his comparables. That elite level of comic talent is always ready to make an audience laugh, because they are naturals.

Second City Television (SCTV), was a Canadian television sketch comedy show that ran between 1976 and 1984. Basically it was a lower-budget version of SNL, which irregularly aired across Midwest affiliates. Rick Moranis, Dave Thomas, Martin Short, John Candy, Joe Flaherty, Eugene Levy, Catherine O’Hara, Harold Ramis, and a host of other funny people became known on this show.

You had to be paying attention to catch this stuff. To know what was going on in television, everyone mail-subscribed to TV Guide, which listed next week’s shows, with a blurb about each upcoming episode. TV Guide helped avoid turkeys and re-runs, and it was the only way– until cable & satellite TV got their acts together.

Sledge Hammer! was a crazy Dirty Harry parody show, that ran two seasons in the later part of the 1980’s. Creator Alan Spencer envisioned the title character role for one man specifically: David Rasche. This was a half hour comedy show, that broke every rule in television in it’s brief heyday. More details on this show here [1].

Game shows always held great fascination for me, especially as a child on snow or sick days. No school in the winter on weekdays meant game shows in the morning & soap operas in the early to mid-afternoon. Then it was re-runs of Gilligan’s’s Island, The Brady Bunch, The Beverley Hillbillies, M*A*S*H, Hogan Heroes, etc. Werner Klemperer, Bob Crane & Alan Alda offer the best humor from that fare.

Game shows are fascinating, because they always feature live contestants– people just like you & me! That leads to a lot of unintended humor. Even though candidates are carefully selected to meet corporate specs, accidents happen and were often aired without complaint back then.

Bad hair, bad clothes, et cetera, show up more vividly on game shows, that’s why they retain their syndication value on the Game Show Network today. The best game show hosts are funny. The funniest, and most undoubtedly out-of control game show of my childhood was The Gong Show. It was really a variety or sketch show, but who cares?

Honorable mention to Bob Eubanks, who did a great job clowning young couples on the Newlywed Game. There is a part of every comedian that wants to be a game show host. Hollywood Squares was hosted by Peter Marshall from 1966–81, introducing kids to a gaggle of fossil comedians from the 1950’s & 1960’s. Buddy Hackett, George Gobel, Jonathan Winters, Paul Lynde and Joan Rivers were among it’s rotating cast of stars. Some thought they were funny. I never did, even going back today and watching them on YouTube.

As far as classic film comedy goes, it starts with Buster Keaton & Charlie Chaplin. I always preferred the former, for his athleticism & self-effacing ingenuity. The Marx Brothers always came off as shtick to me, but many of their sketches on film were undeniably brilliant.

Television came along after WWII, and was strongly influenced by McCarthyism and the Communist “Red Scare” hysteria. This is why many young viewers look at a hit show such as, I Love Lucy, and say it isn’t funny today. What’s perceived as truly funny, must meet a much higher standard today, than in 1954.

This is because comedy is much more inclusive today. We hear comedy from all sexes, orientations, ethnicities, classes and nationalities. None of that was made available when Lucy was the only comedy show on, and there are only two other networks in existence. Lucille Ball must be considered in this context in terms of television comedy history. She acted feisty, but was always willing to be the good wife when it counted, and that’s what the blacklisters wanted on-the-air in the 1950’s.

As far as the serious comics before my time, Lenny Bruce earns the most respect from me. He took chances, tackling complex issues head-on, producing mind-bending ideas, and challenging his audience. He didn’t live long, but his impact is still felt.

My fascination with game show hosts is not unique. Television executives long ago figured out that a funny man who could hold an audience for an hour, was worth his weight in gold. The Tonight Show was the original variety show, starring Steve Allen (1954–57), Jack Paar (1957–62), Johnny Carson (1962–92), Jay Leno (1992–2009, 2010–2014), Conan O’Brien (2009–10), Jimmy Fallon (2014–present).

Obviously it was Johnny Carson as the iconic host when I was growing up. I always enjoyed the “King of Late Night Television,” but what I respected most about him was his willingness to support young talent. He knew he was older than his MTV audience, so he helped break young comedians.

Carson’s ratings always dominated his time slot, in spite of other late night competitors including David Frost, Alan Thicke, Jerry Lewis, Joan Rivers, David Brenner, Pat Sajak, Ron Reagan, Dennis Miller, Arsenio Hall, Joey Bishop, Merv Griffin, and Dick Cavett. The reason Johny Carson clobbered all of them (over & over), is because he was funnier, hipper, and a better entertainer. Charles Grodin had a show for a time, as he is a good example of someone who can be funny, but isn’t a comic. Consider Grodin, as a Jon Stewart or Bill Maher predecessor.

Carson’s only real peer was David Letterman. Late Night with David Letterman premiered on NBC on February 1, 1982. This put Carson & Letterman back-to-back on the same network, and gave NBC a ratings lock on late night television for over a decade. After a feud with NBC over who was going to replace Carson (NBC ultimately chose Jay Leno), Letterman began hosting Late Night on CBS in August 1993. Letterman’s last show was on May 20, 2015.

College kids in the 1980’s and early 1990’s, would ritualistically gather in the room with the television set, every weeknight ~11:30 PM. David Letterman was funny, and like Carson, encouraged new & under-exposed talent. “Stupid Pet Tricks” & his Top-10 lists were famous segments. His hosting & interviewing skills were superb.

His rapport with music prodigy Paul Schaffer was critical to the show, and in many ways more genuine that Johnny Carson & Ed McMahon. Letterman always insisted he wouldn’t do the show without Schaffer, who stayed for its entire run. Lots of cool & underrated bands were exposed on Letterman.  Sidenote: Paul Schaffer played Artie Fufkin of Polymer Records in This is Spinal Tap (1982), which earned him extra bonus points. For many viewers, Late Night with David Letterman was the best TV variety show ever.

In 1988, there was a strike of the Writers Guild of America, which ran from March 7 to August 7, affecting production of movies & TV shows. During this span David Letterman was forced by NBC to host his shows, with no material. “Hal Gurnee’s Network Time Killer was concocted, as David Letterman turned the camera up into the control booth, and let them try to entertain the 20 million or so people who were watching. Brilliant, no?!

Fox Broadcasting Company launched on October 9, 1986, as a competitor to ABC, NBC and CBS. Fox went on to become a fourth major television network, because it developed the best new comedy shows, and then took over American sports broadcasting. Before Fox’s sports dominance, it was Married… with Children, The Simpson’s and In Living Color that put Fox on the television map– virtually overnight. The cast for In Living Color included Damon Wayans, with his family— Kim, Shawn, and Marlon, Jim Carrey, Jamie Foxx, Tommy Davidson, David Alan Grier, and future pop music star Jennifer Lopez.

The rise of cable television and advances in computer engineering allowed motivated comic geeks to find their way into the mainstream. Joel Hodgson is the creator of Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K), which ran for 10 seasons, first on Comedy Central, and then on the Sci-Fi Channel from 1989-99. The concept is bad movies being riffed. The cast called themselves Best Brains, Inc (BBI), and included Hodgson, Trace Beaulieu, Josh Weinstein, Jim Mallon, Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy, Frank Conniff, Mary Jo Pehl, Bill Corbett, Paul Chaplin, and Bridget Jones Nelson.

In many ways MST3K is more influential than Seinfeld, itself one of the most successful TV-series ever– which ran concurrently on NBC. The reason: Best Brains’ talent, and their far-out creativity which consciously pushed back at capitalism. The concept for Mystery Science Theater 3000 involved obtaining the copyrights to really bad movies, then trashing them with acerbic wit, spliced together with puppet sketches in between. Each episode ran two hours. I still maintain MST3K was the most brilliant television series ever [2]. What do you think, sirs?

At this point in our time-line, Howard Stern and a new era of raunchy comics begin to take over the airwaves.  The funniest among this new breed (for me) was Denis Leary, who broke on MTV. The Ref (1994) is the best Christmas movie ever, and surely one of the funniest black comedy’s ever.  Raw, energetic & intelligent  is Leary’s appeal.

The 2 Live Crew was where freedom of expression met First Amendment free speech issues. Right wing feminism (PMRC was led by Tipper Gore, wife of senator Al Gore [D-TN] and later VP under Bill Clinton), led the crusade to censor 2 Live Crew, who were essentially a comedy act put to rap.

The 2 Live Crew’s song titles told the story: “We Want Some Pussy”, “Move Somethin'”, “Me So Horny” (Me love you long time!), “Fuck Shop”, “Get the Fuck Out My House”, “Banned in the USA”, and many others from their first early albums remain DJ staples at nightclubs & dance halls through today. The 2 Live Crew was the origin of booty dancing, which is good for all of us. In the words of Luther Campbell, “Just tellin’ it like it is.”

These issues which Luther Campbell & 2 Live Crew stood up for in the 1980’s (and paid a price), remain relevant during today’s #MeToo feminist witch-hunt campaign sponsored by the Democrats.

Today, comedy is available on the Internet, and anytime we need laughs, we can find something funny on YouTube, whether it’s brand new, or something old, that is new to you. For me personally, I reject much of the Adam Sandler school of comedy. Funny is funny. Gross or stupid isn’t funny. America’s Funniest Home Videos was never funny to me. Nor was Realty TV in any of it’s variants. Nor today’s cartoons.

Cartoon’s deserve mention, because they were originally created to make kids laugh. Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies was an American animated series of comedy shorts, produced by Warner Bros. from 1930 to 1969. They’re easily the best & funniest of the oldie cartoons. Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Foghorn Leghorn, Pepé Le Pew, Speedy Gonzales & the Tasmanian Devil are quintessential cartoon personas. Yosemite Sam, Marvin Martian & Wily E. Coyote are hilarious “villains.” My personal favorites are Foghorn Leghorn, when he gets into it with the kid chicken hawk, as well as the episodes with the egghead genius (Junior) he has to baby sit.

In the end, comedy is like food & music, we all have our favorite tastes, but we should also be discriminating about what we put into our body & mind, as some of it isn’t good for us. Making jokes and laughing is about coping with stress. It’s about making the best of a really bad situation. It’s about making people feel better. Comedy is therapeutic, and low cost.  All you have to do is use your imagination.

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Art: Explained by an Artist

What is art? How does it happen? What’s it’s role in human society? These questions are now more important than ever. They demand immediate & correct answers. Here they are.

Art is how we express our inner essence. It’s the best we have in us, as art applies to any profession, passion, or endeavor you choose. It has traditionally been achieved through paint, music, film & pen. Art moves minds. True art is revolution, embodied in its form.

Oscar Wilde was correct when he said the public needs to become more artistic. Most people still try to tell you it’s the other way around, for whatever reason they may have. Everyone has it in them to be artistic. Applying this instinct is a primary tool in defeating fascism. Conversely, ignoring & desecrating art, leads directly to fascism.

Attempts to wipe out art are futile & hypocritical. Recall the Nazi’s of Germany who ruled Europe from 1933-1945, they were infamous art thieves & hoarders. Much of their booty is still maintained in private collections around the world, stolen from persecuted Jews in WWII.

Science, technology & ideology always impact & define art. When revolutionary ideas become embodied in art, it becomes very powerful. Art impacts society as soft power, enveloping an era in its influence & vision. The ruling class always fears this, as art unites the oppressed workers with the youth, who see no future in the current set-up.

Art can jump outside that box, as Pablo Picasso, the Surrealists & Andy Warhol are 20th-century examples of artistic geniuses transforming society. Once their ideas exploded into mass consciousness, society was forever changed. It’s often waxed in social terms as, “no longer being innocent.”

The Beatles were revolutionary artists, who abandoned their teeny-bopper beginnings, and became 1960’s counter-culture. Psychedelic rock & transcendental meditation side-trips became cultural oddities, that eventually transitioned into an anti-Vietnam War movement. Rock music had been sanctioned art, by the creation of Rolling Stone magazine in 1967, with John Lennon featured in its inaugural issue.

That watershed moment was the birth of rock music criticism. Art spawns criticism, which seeks to influence art. Generally speaking, critics are a bureaucracy meant to represent the ruling class in art. Often lawyers, guns & money aren’t enough, so controlling the narrative becomes the purpose of criticism.

For eons, humans have been creating art, and others have been judging it. What’s different today, is the level of expertise & authority these self-sanctioned critics reserve for themselves. Today Rolling Stone magazine remains a powerful force in American popular music, with sterilizing everything as its corporation mission.

In contrast the leader and revolutionary genius of the Beatles, has been dead for nearly four decades. He was murdered by a reactionary psychopath, with full approval of the ruling elite. John Lennon had been a target of the FBI since Nixon was president, as later revealed in declassified CO-INTEL-PRO and other documents.

Everyone appreciates some form of art. The problem is when too many people become too narrow in their tastes & definitions of art. There’s a whole lot out there, that you aren’t even aware of, and it’s criminal to short-change yourself in not appreciating as much of it as you can. Art depends on an audience, otherwise society is condoning cultural vandalism.

Great art doesn’t just happen. It is deeply thought-out, planned, and worked through in great detail. What the public sees as the final work, is often years of hard work. Creating new material and staying ahead is the most challenging task. It often involves going to very dark places in your mind. This is emotionally exhausting, and involves personal sacrifices in health & happiness, which is why so many artists burn out.

It is necessary for artists who truly love, to understand how these ruling sociopaths think & act. They are manipulating the levers of power, which affects the ability for art to be shared, and therefore they have very rational reasons for their psychotic behavior.

The most obvious example today is media & Internet censorship & blacklisting. This reaction is sweeping through sports, entertainment, and politics like a swarm of locusts. The only force that can resist witch-hunts & fascist goon squads, are a united youth & working class, armed with revolutionary socialism.

Marxism, and more specifically Trotskyism, is the most reviled political tendency in bourgeois politics. Any mention of Leon Trotsky is proscribed in the mass media. If his name comes up, there is an immediate hysterical reaction from fixers & political heavyweights– who are always monitoring. This is because Leon Trotsky was the most artistic & influential political figure of the 20th century.

Today this repressive apparatus which involves the corporate-intelligence deep state, has launched an all-out, multi-pronged attack campaign on art. When Hollywood actors are witch-hunted, and their careers destroyed by a #MeToo campaign of right-wing feminism, then artists know the official political spectrum has tipped completely to fascism.

As much as art is universal to the human experience, we all sense it uniquely. Example: Stevie Wonder! That is the mystery & magic of art, which is challenges & seduces all of us. Understanding & embracing art is how we avoid being manipulated by hidden interests with evil intentions.

Art in the hands of a united working class, with revolutionary consciousness, can internationally transform society into a global community with socialist foundations. My music & albums are on all the major streaming services, and those songs are meant to be anthems for revolution. The more that ideas such as these are expressed, distributed & absorbed, the closer we get to a revolutionary scenario, where the working people of the world can come together & win.

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Stoned Again: Portrait of a Political Fixer

A largely unmentioned neo-Nazi contributer to the alt-right is Roger Stone (pictured below), a master at dirty tricks operations & behind-the-scenes media manipulations, going back to Nixon & Reagan. Whatever Stone’s political position is, it quickly becomes Trump’s position, as he (as much as anyone) created president Trump.

Alt-right is defined as racism, nationalism & greed, dashed with a pro-choice & pro-marijuana agenda, for public consumption & working class appeal. Alt-right is the Libertarian & Tea Party congealed. Alex Jones (Infowars) is Roger Stone’s favorite attack dog & political media mouthpiece.

Get Me Roger Stone (2017) is an informative film, which reminds everyone that Donald J. Trump (the political candidate), was created in 1988. Trump is the exact opposite of a political outsider, despite the claims.

Trump also dallied with the Reform party ticket in 2000, to help George W. Bush, by splitting the Reform party votes for Pat Buchanan, the official nominee.

Background: Ross Perot’s Reform party campaign in 1992 had broad popular appeal, and in the minds of many Republican insiders (Stone included), the Texas technology billionaire cost the Republicans the 1992 & 1996 presidential elections with his meddling.

Never one to be discouraged by what people think, Roger Stone engineered the halting of the Florida recount in November 2000, by organizing the “Brooks Brothers” protests, which turned into a right-wing media frenzy.

In short, these fixers need more exposure, because when they are allowed to operate in the shadows, they produce fascism. As much as the mass hatred for Hillary Clinton (and the Democratic establishment) played a role in her 2016 defeat, the other half of the equation for installing Trump in the White House was this nefarious brand of political manipulation. Get Me Roger Stone (2017), is available for streaming on Netflix, and should be seen by all who need to know their true enemy.

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9-11 Pictorial & Video Essay

As the ruling class of every nation moves towards open war with its population, the pretense of the US “war on terror” and its results deserves a summary review. Everything starts with 9-11 [1].

In short, 9-11 was a false-flag operation, planned & carried out by the Bush family, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and the rest of the cohorts, with knowledge & complicity from the Democrats and the mass media. The US military, intelligence & security services carried out the controlled demolition of the WTC towers, which collapsed at free-fall speed.

This 31-minute CNN video of the South World Trade Center tower collapsing deserves careful study. First, listen to CNN White House correspondent John King describing a “white jet” over the capitol, after all other air traffic had been grounded. He describes it at 2:20-2:38 in this video. King then describes the evacuation of the White House as orderly, until the last people were leaving. “They were told to run by the secret service,” he explains.

King then speculates that VP Dick Chaney is in the Situation Room, which is located in the basement of the White House at 3:35-3:42. The manipulators of 9-11 must have been screaming in John King’s ear at this point, as he quickly gets back on point at 3:50-4:00, when he mentions Osama bin Laden as the prime suspect behind these attacks.

CNN’s Congressional correspondent Kate Snow also mentions she saw a military (or Air Force) plane, circling the Capitol building about a half-hour earlier. She’s reporting this at 10:15 AM, so this would be ~9:45 that this unidentified aircraft was flying over the Pentagon & Capitol building. This occurs at 22:38 – 22:55 in the CNN video. Note that planes over the Capitol are NEVER allowed to happen, as it is among the most secure buildings in the world, and a terrorist attack has just occurred, so therefore this plane must be explained– but yet, isn’t.

The populations’ ability to detect fake news has increased exponentially since 9-11. For instance, check out the eye-witness “report” that political fixer David Ensor (pictured below) coaxes out of “Barbara,” whom he identifies as, “the wife of a friend of mine, who is an exact eyewitness to what happened at the Pentagon…”

This report is calmly delivered by “Barbara,” just moments after the Pentagon attack from 26:15- 28:25 in the video, with uncanny clarity & precision in her voice. Her testimony is kept anonymous, because it is a complete fabrication.

The Pentagon was hit by a cruise missile, as there is no airplane wreckage visible in any of the aftermath photos or videos.

These are all the cameras the Pentagon had in the area of the strike.

And yet these are the best images the public has ever seen. BTW, what’s that UFO circled in the upper right of the photo?

Here’s the raw image, and the unidentified white object is still there:

The same observations & conclusions apply for “Flight 93,” which supposedly crashed in Shanksville, PA; after a heroic cabin break-in, and death struggle by doomed (but ever patriotic) passengers. They even made a movie about it, any why not? They couldn’t write a better modern version of Titanic (1997), if they tried.

Do you see a plane, luggage, bodies or anything resembling an aircraft crash, in the photo above– taken at Shanksville, PA on 9-11?  It’s just a burnt-out hole in the ground, surrounded by emergency vehicles, with people standing around doing nothing, but trying to look important. That’s what the fixers did on 9-11, while the rest of us were shocked and looked for answers.

Here’s the best footage of the South WTC tower collapse, the second to fall at ground zero. This footage was filmed with a tripod for stability, and notice how the entire structure shakes just a few seconds before its free-fall collapse. That’s only explained by controlled-demolition explosives.

We’ve been told that the bad guy in all this was Osama bin Laden & his Al-Qaeda organization. It’s been over 16 years since 9-11, and still most people don’t even know what Al-Qaeda is? Let’s start by taking at look at the supposed nineteen hijackers on 9-11.  As best anyone (without absolute insider knowledge) can tell, all the “hijacked” flights appear to be ghost flights, fictitiously created by the CIA, FBI and other secret service collaboration. The public has never seen the actual flight logs & passenger records of any of the allegedly hijacked planes.

Furthermore, seven (7) of the supposed hijackers are still alive!

“Waleed Al Shehri” is a pilot for an airline in Saudi Arabia, “Mohamed Atta” was/is a CIA asset, and so forth… Why isn’t this investigated & discussed in the media? To ask the question is to answer it.

The only fact-finding and hard research on 9-11 has come from the people themselves. The NIST report & 9-11 Commission are whitewashes of a war crime against the people of the world. Keep in mind, 9-11 has provided the pretext for wars of aggression, rendition & torture, ubiquitous spying, police state build-up, and a host of other undemocratic practices.

Apparently, Al-Qaeda means “data” or “databank” in Arabic. This is because Al-Qaeda is nothing but a list of CIA assets, created from the mujideen in Afghanistan, who fought against the USSR invasion from 1979-89. The CIA backed, armed, & trained the mujideen, in its most ruthless terrorist methods which were unleashed on the Soviet Union’s army & population during he 1980’s. That was called the Cold War.

Shortly after the Afghan war, the USSR was liquidated from within by its criminal bureaucracy, which restored capitalism to Russia in December 1991. This CIA asset list of Islamic fundamentalist terrorists was created in that period, and has been used in various forms ever since. The Taliban, ISIS, ISIL, al Nursa Front, Free Syria Army (below), and now the YPG are all CIA & Pentagon creations, funded with billions of US taxpayer dollars.

The YPG is the People’s Protection Units, a Kurdish militia in Syria, who are being propped up by US imperialism in it’s efforts to overthrow Bashar al-Assad. Turkey, a nominal US ally, has just launched a war against the YPG, which it considers a terrorist organization. Both Iran & Syria are allied with Russia, who is seen as an intolerable strategic competitor to US ruling interests. The same relationship applies to North Korea & China. All this has created deep divisions in NATO & beyond, and threatens global conflagration.

Al-Nusra Front, now renamed the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham since July 2016, is Al-Qaeda (rebranded) in Syria & the Levant. This the balance sheet of 9-11. The only logical conclusion is for a workers & student revolution, with the conscious political purpose of overthrowing the corrupt capitalist states which impose imperialism, and establishing international socialism. This is the only road to peace, equality & happiness, as any capitalist “solution” leads to fascism & annihilation.

Islamic fundamentalism is used as a tool for divide-and conquer in the Middle East, as part of US imperialism’s overall strategy for maintaining domination of this oil-rich region. The debate constantly rages back-and-forth in the various factions of the White House, Pentagon & deep state, over where (and how?) war should be incited. None of this makes us safer, and everyone knows it. The game is over, and it’s time for capitalism to pay it’s overdue historical bill. The working classes of the world will be delivering it in 2018.

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Wannabe a Sucker?

On August 11, 2017 it was announced in the Miami Herald that owner Jeffrey Loria had agreed to sell the Miami Marlins for $1.2 billion, to a group led by New York businessman Bruce Sherman and former New York Yankees star Derek Jeter. Much exhalation ensued, as fans celebrated the exiting of one of the most hated owners in sports history. But like so many other major stories, when people think it’s over, it’s really only the beginning. For Marlins fans, how could anything be worse than the Loria-era?

The story of this MLB off-season, since the Shohei Ohtani affair (which of course never happened), has been the on-going fire sale of the Miami Marlins. Derek Jeter is now CEO of Marlins baseball operations. So far he has given away RF Giancarlo Stanton, CF Marcel Ozuna, and 2B Dee Gordon; each of them All-Stars and one the reigning MVP. Now Jeter is dangling LF Christian Yelich, and catcher JT Realmuto.

When you say you’ll only accept an “overpay,” yet put your team in a position where it MUST sell– then you won’t make a deal with grown-ups.

Notable Unsigned MLB Free Agents:

1B Eric Hosmer
RHP Yu Darvish
RF J.D. Martinez
RHP Jake Arrieta
CF Lorenzo Cain
3B Mike Moustakas
3B Todd Frazier

The reason the MLB free-agent market has been so slow the winter, is because everyone is waiting for the Marlins to complete their fire sale, now with Yelich & Realmuto on the block. Unfortunately, Jeter has once again over-valued his assets, and can’t pull either of them back, without losing even more value. Jeter is putting the Marlins franchise in a position to make another mistake, by insisting on too much, and thus freezing out the market which includes the Braves, White Sox, Padres, Phillies, Nationals & Diamondbacks among others.

One point on money & wins above replacement (WAR). It can’t be valued at anything higher than $5M/win on the free-agent market, without becoming distorted. Contract length should not exceed 5 years, as these players are all age 27 or older which means they are about to go into decline. Albert Pujols & A-Rod albatrosses not only cripple individual franchises who buy into them, but also irrationally set the market.

There are smart GM’s in play, and top prospects are gold, so you can’t steal top talent like you used to, even a few years back. This gap between Derek Jeter’s wannabe-GM expectations, and current market realities, is what’s holding up this off-season. As of now, no GM wants to make a big free-agent signing until Derek Jeter is done blowing up the Marlins. That’s why Eric Hosmer & JD Martinez are still unsigned, and haven’t drawn much interest as of yet.

Derek Jeter is way out of his league running a franchise, and the only reason he’s doing so, is because he’s 4% owner. The reason your hire a front office & GM is to separate money from brains, as much as possible– which is wise. Jeter is simply making decisions that benefit him as an owner, under the guise of being a qualified baseball executive. The baseball fans of Miami, who have been swindled over & over again, are seeing it happen once again right before their eyes, and they aren’t fooled.

If Jeter doesn’t like the prospect packages that are being offered, then why doesn’t he insist someone take LHP Wei-Yin Chen, to move some dead money? That’s what Jeter really wants, as we all saw in the Stanton dump/gift. Proof? Look at the three players the Marlins are apparently going to arbitration with, the difference in money is $1,175,000– total! It doesn’t get much cheaper than this:

MLB.com has confirmed JT Realmuto has filed for $3.5 million, while the Marlins’ offer is $2.9 million. Justin Bour’s figure is $3.4 million, with the team countering at $3 million. RHP Dan Straily is seeking $3.55 million, to the team’s $3.375 million. [1]

When you poison the mood of the franchise, by immediately coming in and putting the reigning NL MVP on the trade block, before ever consulting him and his teammates, then you are not respecting the players. When you disrespect longtime fans by summarily dismissing popular announcers & other organizational personnel, then business will suffer. If you then try to hire some of them back after the negative PR backlash, then you haven’t planned anything [2].

Jeter was “The Captain” in the Bronx at shortstop, and pretty much demanded he be given that title from ownership, which George Steinbrenner did– against manager Joe Torre’s advice. Management of the NY Yankees franchise suffered from that point on, as they became married to an expensive and aging SS (a poor defender from the start), who still demanded superstar pay & pampering. Now as Marlins GM & owner, Jeter skinflints three valuable young players in arbitration.

Alex Rodriguez was never allowed to play SS in the Bronx, because of Derek Jeter’s ego, and the Yankees suffered for it, winning only one World Series (2009) while the two were “teammates,” on a roster with annually the highest payroll in baseball. Of course, teammates in any real sense of the term implies support & love for one another, and clearly that was never their relationship. It was always Jeter’s call, since he was the prince of the town, with all his past World Series glory in the bank.

Instead, he chose to be selfish and flex his muscle as “The Captain,” making Alex Rodriguez move to 3B. The Yankees could never fill CF adequately, and still haven’t. A winning team positions it’s players carefully, where they are most valuable; not according to the whims of a star player or media clamoring. Instead of moving to centerfield, like the team needed, Derek Jeter stayed at shortstop and distanced himself from Arod at every turn. If you didn’t see this when it was happening, then you weren’t paying attention.

The Marlins did have a great CF, until Jeter gave him away to the Cardinals. Marcell Ozuna slashed .312/.376/.548 in 2017, worth 5.8 WAR. On December 14, 2017, Derek Jeter flipped two years of Marcell Ozuna under arbitration control for Daniel Castano (minors), Zac Gallen (minors), fringy righty-reliever Sandy Alcantara, and light-hitting lefty outfielder Magneuris Sierra. The two prospects (Castano & Gallen) are middling-to-fringy.

The week before, on December 7, 2017, Jeter traded 2B Dee Gordon along with international bonus slot money to the Seattle Mariners for Robert Dugger (minors), Nick Neidert (minors) and Christopher Torres (minors). Gordon hit .308/.341/.375 with good defense in 2017, good for 3.1 WAR. This was probably Derek Jeter’s best trade so far (not saying much), getting two pitchers and a switching-hitting middle infield prospect. Dee Gordon will be age 30 this April, and is a luxury the Marlins probably can’t afford for the next three seasons. Let’s see how the player development & farm rebuilding pans out for the Marlins.

Of course, a major MLB earthquake occurred on December 11, 2017, when the Marlins dumped RF Giancarlo Stanton to the New York Yankees, who took on $265M out of the $295M owed to him. The Stanton deal was a straight salary dump for the Marlins, and a poorly executed one at that. The Miami Marlins will pay $30M to New York Yankees when Stanton does not opt-out, following the 2020 season. The Marlins also took on $24M for 2B Starlin Castro over the next two seasons, including his buyout after 2019. Expect Jeter to dump Castro, after Yelich & Realmuto. The two “prospects” the Marlins received in the Stanton deal were:

1) RHP Jorge Guzman, about to turn age 22, a starter who never pitched above low-A, with only 162 IP in 3 professional seasons.

2) SS/2B prospect Jose Devers: 1 pro season .245/.336/.342.

This is what the Marlins got for the NL MVP! When Jeter couldn’t get a decent offer for Giancarlo Stanton, he should have taken him off the market and rolled through 2018 with him. Stanton has 10 years left on his deal, so why the rush to trade him? Derek Jeter got a 28-YO poor-fielding 2B with a career line of .282/.320/.413, who is owed $24M through the next 2 seasons in Starlin Castro. Giancarlo Stanton is worth much more than that, even with his backloaded contract. The Marlins desperately need prospects, and got junk. Jeter opted for cash savings, and the Marlins franchise got fleeced. Now Jeter insists anyone else who deals with the Marlins must “overpay.” That’s delusional. How about some solid work instead, Derek Jeter?

Ownership in Miami is short-stacked. Derek Jeter owns 4% non-controlling stake of the team, which means he kicked in ~$50M towards the $1.2B purchase-price for the Marlins. Bruce Sherman is the majority owner, and he put Jeter in charge of the baseball side, with a five year deal worth ~ $50M in salary. Convenient, huh? Jeter has no GM experience. It is clear that this new ownership group overpaid, and is now out of cash. That’s why they dumped the reigning NL MVP to the Yankees. Meanwhile the taxpayers of Miami continue to pay the $1.2B note on the bond to build the new Marlins stadium, which no one wanted– except their owner.  BTW, that stadium debt and the Marlins sale price being identical (at $1.2 billion), is just another coincidence.

While all this looks good for the Marlins bottom line, it hurts their ability to compete & their fan friendliness– immeasurably. Most of this is on Jeffery Loria, as he pumped & dumped the Marlins, but Sherman & Jeter are also at fault for overpaying, and putting themselves in this no-win situation. Under this existing plan, Marlins fans are looking at a 6-8 year rebuild– minimum. If you know anything about this franchise’s past, then you know there won’t be any Marlins fans left by then.

MLB.com Censorship:

Since the Ohtani Affair, everyone who posts on mlb.com lost their screen name, and reclaiming it has been a difficult process for most. I have reclaimed mine, and am no longer “commenter,” like many others– still.  Unfortunately, I am now unable to post a comment:

Even my “Likes” get ghosted!

Fans everywhere have noticed all this, and are starting to figure it out & direct their anger towards those responsible. This is the greatest fear of MLB owners, the corporate media, and the entire political-economic set-up. This is why everything on the Internet is being censored at this point.

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Jacking Around

Each part of this country has their own local color, or regional terminology. In the Midwest, jacking around & drinking beer are part of college life. Jacking around is defined as straight guys getting together and giving each other shit. It’s been going on for eons. Inebriation is a required part of the Midwest version of this primitive male ritual, the object of which is to thicken one’s skin, and weed out the pussies.

It involves getting really personal & obnoxiously in-your-face. It means disrespecting conventional social boundaries. Hence no gays ever last very long at this, as they have too many emotional issues. Feminine perspectives are also disregarded. This is the male equivalent of a bitch-fest.

If you wanna to jack, you gotta strap on a sack, and hang with the business & communications majors (and other rich kids taking easy college classes), who have too much time on their hands. It provides valuable real-world business skills, and is part of the full dormitory & campus experience. For what higher education costs today, you need to realize full value as a student.

Here’s how it goes, imagine a huge keg party with hundreds of underage college kids getting as drunk as possible for $2 or less, until the cops show up. Things are slow (meaning no babes in sight), so maybe you go up to someone in a group, and start jacking around.

After a few brief introductions & friendly toasts, you perhaps insinuate (to another in the group) that their manhood has just been impugned by the person standing next to you. It’s something you just made up on-the-spot, but it’s also based on observation of tendencies and mannerisms. It often gets something going, and you can then confide to the one you’ve implicated, who’s ear is right next to you…

Another party example: someone is pouring their heart out to a group over some horrible misfortune, and when he’s finished and everyone is tear-in-a-beer quiet & sympathetic, you loudly exclaim, “Really? I heard you liked that!”  Once the first bystander laughs, it’s over. Of course, it helps to be a comedian, and you need brass balls. You can get quite a reputation (in a hurry) doing this.

One more. A young girl is puking her guts out into the bushes, with her friend looking after her. Just as she finishes and picks up her head, with vomit hanging off her chin, you ‘help’ by reminding her, “Whatever you do, don’t think about eating greasy pork sandwiches with thick gobs of mayonnaise.” If there’s anything left in her stomach it will come up, and who’s to say you haven’t done her a favor?

When people get drunk, they lose track of what’s going on, as well as control of their inhibitions. A situation can escalate in seconds, and be re-ignited at will by a master jacker. Once both sides are on high-testosterone alert, he can drop in a jack– such as, “Hey, if you wanna let him show you up, and be a pussy, that’s cool with me,” and then back off while shaking your head.  As you drift towards another group, a muscle-headed argument will often erupt in your wake!  You can then offer the new group your version of events, as everyone is interested in first-hand gossip…

Believe me, I was an amateur when I was introduced. My college buddies were merciless on me, and anyone else that tried to compete with them. It is an effective way to manipulate impulsive people, but also very dangerous– which is why people get such a kick out of doing it. The jazz of it can be addicting, as well as fascinating to observe. I mostly went along, participating some, while seeing the dark humor in it, but always disdaining the mean-spirited destructiveness it spawned. The lesson being, you have to stop before it turns cruel, and becomes bad karma.

With that said, there is a perverse (but also healthy) pleasure in making hysterical & self-absorbed people breakdown. They deserve it. Being intelligent, direct & relentless is how to jack. It helps to be resourceful, along with knowing when to stop. It’s usually just after yet another head-case is about to lose it, and you ask them “What’s wrong, you can’t take a jack?”

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Internet Censorship

Once people are made aware of an idea, it can’t be taken back or erased. It’s already out there, as part of collective human knowledge. Censors never understand this elementary fact of social life.

The thing with censorship is, people instinctively are drawn towards what’s blacklisted, therefore it always backfires– in the long run. In politics today, there is no more “long run,” as everything is now measured in milli-second gains & losses. The political game is to keep everyone permanently distracted, until the reaction is ready to strike when the final economic collapse hits.

Therefore breaking through this political blacklist becomes a revolutionary task. There are definite interests, with specific names, who are behind this nefarious campaign. It began as Russian interference & fake news, and has now morphed into a right-wing feminist witch-hunt in the form of #MeToo.

The interest behind every one of these campaigns is the same: to stifle, intimidate & marginalize political dissent. Here’s the latest: Fakebook just announced it will favor cute & cuddly posts, over hard political content. Family values and all that…

Everything flows in the same direction, and it’s no accident. The media is owned by a handful of corporations, and the world is controlled by a few thousand wealthy people & families. That level of inequality is not justifiable, much less sustainable, yet everyone must keep dancing in denial until the music ends.

This time around expect massive wildcat strike action, as the unions can no longer claim to represent the rank-and-file. Everyone one of them has sold out in the name of “corporate partnership.” On campuses around the world there will be unprecedented protest & revolutionary action from dissatisfied students who largely see no future.

These stories are never broadcast or analyzed in the mainstream news. There is virtually no labor coverage in mass media. Workers and their jobs are discussed only abstractly by Wall Street analysts & talking heads, all of whom have no understanding, much less sympathy for the conditions of the great majority. The economy is only measured by the DJIA & NASDAQ.

As one who has been censored for a long time now, let me describe how the process typically unfolds. I publish an idea that is controversial & adversarial to major interests. Most people don’t respond to it, for one of two reasons: 1) They disagree, or 2) They are stunned, and now unsure. This latter group wrestles with it and then carries the idea, so censoring the source won’t contain this new concept. As more people rationalize the idea, the more it shows up in social media, and (eventually) has to be acknowledged in the mass media.

You can’t kill an idea. If you could, Marxism & Trotskyism would have perished decades ago. They live because of their power, in that they reveal social & economic truths which we must grasp and use, otherwise we are a doomed species. Fascism is preparing it’s coup d’état, and the deep state has it’s own designs on power– in the form of removing Donald Trump from office on the 25th amendment, citing mental incompetence.

Once again, no one denies Donald Trump is an imbecilic, racist sociopath. The point is, the two-party system, the banks & corporate America allowed him to win the Electoral College. Any system that does that is bankrupt. They only admit it now, because they realize what a disaster Trump is. The ruling establishment wants the public to forget their own dirty roles in aiding his electoral victory.

These ideas are out there, and the sentiment for them is only growing stronger. Hollywood’s hold on the population is also slipping, and the #MeToo campaign has revealed its hypocrisy. While claiming to represent the ideals of women everywhere, they only represent themselves. The problem for them is that people can now get on social media, and call them out in forums and on their Fakebook & Twitter pages. Other fans see this, and are thus influenced. The same is true for sports and the rest.

You can’t really censor the Internet, without shutting it down completely, and no one wants that. There’s too much sharing, which is happening very quickly. These fresh ideas and innovations are what keep us alive, and excited about living. The censors are always a step or two behind, but when their hammer comes down, it hurts.

The people controlling the Internet are those who own the social media platforms & online distribution: Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates & Jeff Bezos are among the richest people in the world. They work with the NSA, FBI, CIA and any other government agencies, to give them whatever they demand. At this point, that means near-total blacklisting of any voices of dissent.

People stopped watching the evening news and buying newspapers long ago, and the reason is– they don’t believe in it anymore. The more any idea is blacklisted, the more exotic & alluring it becomes– especially when truth is no longer allowed in the official media. Once the revolutionary rubber meets the road, and the working class organizes against this treachery, the possibilities become limitless, as this is the last defense of a dying capitalist system. There are no more ideological barriers, once this blacklist is exposed. At that point it becomes an open fight to the death– socialism vs annihilation.

The job of socialists is to be as active as possible in learning, teaching and organizing. Once again the Internet provides many vehicles for this purpose, and is only limited by your imagination & time. Censorship can and will be defeated, by active & relentless exposure. This means tracing it all the way back to its sources, and holding everyone accountable to the end. That’s what is known as a socialist revolution, and the dialectics of censorship.

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Power Couples & Brain Drain

Danica Patrick & Aaron Rodgers (QB– Green Bay Packers), are dating. Have you heard?  It keeps showing up in my online news feeds, so I suppose I must comment. For the record, I am a fan of both of them. I don’t like the NFL, just as I despise NASCAR, as both are fronts for capitalist hypocrisy– like the rest of sports & entertainment. As a socialist, I always support the workers who create the actual value. Sports are entertainment, and athletes are the performers we pay to watch. When our needs are met, we all like to be entertained.

Fact: Both of these world-class athletes have had numerous concussions in their careers.  “Why Does Danica Patrick Wreck So Often in NASCAR?” is the most-read piece on this site. Published in the spring of 2016, a few YouTube videos I used as evidence, have since been taken down by their owners. I’ve left everything alone, as everything stands up, while illustrating the progression of reaction [1].

Danica Patrick has been wrecked so often, and so violently, that she surely has a level of CTE. Her behavior at the end of the 2017 season betrayed an inability to process reality, namely that her career was ending [2]. The word around the track was that she often exploded with a torrent of expletives.  Many blow-it-off as her being a superstar, and snapping under the pressure. But it’s on top of the repeated concussions she received, that puts everything into context. The point is, she was never intentionally wrecked in Indycar, compared to the way she has been viciously taken out of races in NASCAR. She’s likely suffered brain damage from this, but no one will admit it– or even comment on it. Except me [3].

Keep in mind that Daytona & Talladega Superspeedways are the two most dangerous race tracks in the world [4]. Danica Patrick rarely even finishes those races anymore. Her last run in NASCAR is to be this year’s Daytona 500, their signature event. This mass insanity is the Super Bowl kick-off to NASCAR’s premier series, which is losing sponsorship by the second. In this sense, NASCAR is grateful to have Danica one last time, until the race actually starts that is. Then NASCAR wants her out– ASAP. Nothing shrivels up NASCAR faster than Danica running up front.

In 2017, corporate sponsors insisted on a staged-race format, which allowed more TV timeouts for advertisers & the networks [5]. It’s so interesting to hear them talk, while the race is stopped, just for them. Of course, fans universally hated it, but have been told they have no choice but to agree, as television money is the only thing keeping NASCAR from bankrupting itself [6].

Owned & run by the France family since its inception, NASCAR prospered during the post-war boom, and became a trademark of pride in the South. Since the mid-1990’s, it has been forced to expand into other US markets, in order to find the money. NASCAR die-hards don’t get excited about races in Chicago, Kansas, Las Vegas & California; but that’s where NASCAR’s owners built the new tracks for its premier series.

I don’t write much about the NFL, because I feel I covered it already in two pieces I published in 2015, just before the Ray Rice incident hit the media [7]. Nothing has changed, in terms of the NFL (or the NFLPA) in getting better, so the final score on that piece remains: Ric Size– 256,  NFL– 3  [8].  Jan Stenerud (and too many others) were just too great, otherwise I had a shut-out. I tip my helmet to all the players, for their toughness, while being sympathetic to the pain & injustices they’ve had to endure from their owners and the league.

As I mentioned in that piece, Aaron Rodgers is a HoF QB. As of this publication, he is still recovering from a gruesome collar bone injury he sustained during the 2017 NFL season. I recall him appearing on a late-night talk show soon after he had surgery, claiming he had 13 screws in his shoulder, and was narced up on opioid painkillers [9]. That’s life in the NFL, boys & girls. Whatever he gets paid, it’s probably not enough, as 80+% of NFL players are broke 5 years after they retire [10].

As for brand Danica, she always finds a way to hustle the money. That largely defines her, and it’s why she manages her image so carefully. Her retirement campaign slogan is “1000 Miles,” in that she plans to run Daytona in February, which will cap her NASCAR career, and then run the Indianapolis 500— one last time. The rumor is she will do this with Chip-Gnassi Racing, but nothing has been made official yet. Therefore it may, or may not happen– we still don’t really know?

Here it is on her site [11]:

02.18.18 Daytona 500 Daytona Intl. Speedway FOX – 2:30 PM

05.27.18 Indianapolis 500 Indianapolis Motor Speedway ABC – 12:00 PM

I hope it happens, but I don’t expect her to get to 1000 miles. She always seems to get wrecked at the Daytona 500, just check the records & review the video. She’s been wrecked in qualifying & practice there, mostly by Denny Hamlin. Joe Gibbs Racing targets her, and she no longer has the protection of Stewart Haas Racing, or her “boyfriend” Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. I put that intimate term in quotation marks here, because I never saw anything but a relationship of convenience between those two. Many NASCAR fans will be interested to hear what Stenhouse has to say at Daytona. Honestly, I’ve seen & heard enough already.

Personally, I hope Danica Patrick sponsors herself at Daytona, as she has plenty of product in her clothing line, winery, etc… If it’s your last run, do it for yourself– I say. She can surely afford it. Aspen Dental was her primary sponsor in 2017, and they are a criminal corporate enterprise, which is starting to negatively impact her brand [12]. That’s when things get serious for her. These are the most-interesting storylines, for me.

Mostly I only hope she doesn’t get wrecked. At least it’s not Talladega, which is the most dangerous track in the world [13].  My final thoughts on safety at both those tracks is for all their races to become road course design. You can run part of the lap on the fast track, then divert to road course to spill the drivers out somewhere else up the track. This would eliminate the all-dangerous draft, which happens when cars build up speed lap-after-lap on a super-speedway, especially as they run together. These death tracks becomes two long lines of cars separated by mere inches going ~200 MPH, while surging forwards & backwards. Mayhem ensues when someone (inevitably) bumps someone or goes three-wide at the wrong time, usually in a corner. This road course innovation would also eliminate the hated restrictor plate.

I’m more excited to see Patrick finish (for real) at the Indianapolis 500. For those who don’t know, this happens every Memorial Day weekend, as it’s a big event in racing– worldwide. The Indianapolis 500 is much bigger than anything NASCAR puts on, as they run their Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte on the same day. Their goal is to claim superiority at their new home track, on mileage, if not in quality of the race. Note that when NASCAR last ran at Indianapolis, they ended up cutting the race short– due to reckless incompetence & impending darkness [14].

Danica Patrick will go down as one of the all-time great drivers, simply for surviving her career. Her skills behind the wheel are elite, and can’t be measured by her finishes– especially in NASCAR. She faced obstacles no other competitor ever had to face. Perhaps her greatest contribution will be her part in exposing the hypocrisy that is NASCAR, and it’s broadcast partners in the media. Her fans were shell-shocked for the longest time, until something [?] woke them up.

Danica Patrick was never (& still isn’t) allowed to say how she really feels about everything that’s happened to her, as the sponsors have her under contract. When she wrecks, they make more money. Parading across the finish line in 23rd place doesn’t have the same effect. You understand, pardner?  Her fans now understand all this much better.

In many ways, Danica Patrick & Aaron Rodgers are trading in their brains for all the money they can get now. This is only natural, as they both are still smart enough to know they are probably going to need the money. But what about their brains? Note that these are the winners, whom everyone admires. No one sees anything else, because no one actually cares about them as people. Few of us think outside ourselves, in the context of the greater hypocrisy that is capitalism. This new couple is simply presented as the best of capitalism, personified.

They are only admired & coveted because they are beautiful & rich. Too many people still want this for themselves, not realizing that the existing economic set-up is unsustainable. I hope Patrick & Rodgers stay together and take care of each other, even if they become afflicted & poor. They are going to need each other. Others need to realize that, and what all this means.

Update January 23, 2018;  ~ Noon EST:

RE: Danica Patrick to drive Daytona 500 for Premium Motorsports

NASCAR social media is dead all off-season, until Danica Patrick finds a ride– then the comments start, and it gets passionate in a hurry!  NASCAR is gonna really miss her star power, even though they mostly hate her.

Premium Motorsports is down there with Tri-Star & BK Racing, as the worst-of-the-worst teams. Owned by Jay Robinson, this criminal operation was Reed Sorenson’s ride last year, and was also the team that ran the infamous “Trump car” in 2016 at Texas [15].

This is Danica, with GoDaddy as her sponsor, and no real friends in NASCAR. The draft equalizes things at Daytona, which helps significantly here, but don’t expect much from her in her last run. Simply finishing the race would be an improvement over SHR. I believe she’ll have an easier time finding a competitive ride for the Indianapolis 500, but we’ll see…

Update February 13, 2018 (Tuesday) ~10:30 AM

Bubble drama for Daytona 500 not the same, and that’s a shame [16]

So much of racin’ is hatin’ on others– as much as rootin’ for your favorite(s). People won’t admit that, because so much of this sport is about lyin’. Whether you love her or hate her, Danica Patrick’s last run is THE story of this Daytona 500. NASCAR is really going suck without her & Junior.

After Daytona, it’s back to reality with all of NASCAR’s issues. No sponsorship, and their charter system about to collapse. It will be official when BK Racing defaults their charter to their lender, which is now in court. Then we’ll get an independent appraisal of a NASCAR charter, which should be very interesting. Note that there are many connotations for “interesting,” and most are negative.

Danica Patrick featured in GoDaddy ad, showing transition off the track [17]

This is an amusing article, in that it’s partly Danica (through the anonymous AP) telling all her haters to fuck off. She’s a busy beaver, no question… LOL!!

Update: Thursday 2-15-18

Danica Patrick joining Ed Carpenter Racing for Indy 500 swan song [18]

Nice reportin’, Bob Pockrass. That was the final question in this saga.

Sunday 2-18-18  ~9:30 PM

Danica Patrick wreck in Daytona 500 ends NASCAR racing career prematurely [20]

Story of her NASCAR career. No one better to be a fan of in racing than Danica Patrick. Thanks for the NASCAR run, and good luck at Indy!!

Over & Out

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Dragons & Dialectics

Since I left dental school, I’ve made an intense study of martial arts. I started in tae kwon do, then moved into mixed-martial arts, and finally kung fu & tai chi. It’s all the same, just a different form, and each must be trained with focus & diligence to get any kind of worthwhile results. All gains are measured internally. The ultimate purpose is mastery so you don’t have to use them.

One teacher of mine, who is no longer with us, was Cliff Black. At the time I knew him he was around age 60, but looked much older– as he’d lived a hard life. First as an outlaw & drug addict, then rehabilitated & a drug-addiction councilor; he taught tai chi as a passion. He also was a professional bouncer as some of the roughest redneck bars in central Florida. He worked alone, and had plenty.

I’ve had some bad-ass instructors, which is what you want if you are serious here. Martial arts isn’t a game. It’s about defeating your enemy. Cliff Black knew this well, and had plenty of stories, which he loved to share before, during, AND after class– which could go on for awhile. It was always worthwhile, I remember.

He used to describe his strategy against hyper-aggressive patrons, who wanted to test their karate-kicking skills under the influence-of-alcohol. He’d say softly but with glee, “I LOVE those high-flying dragons. I just wait to get underneath them, and then take out their leg. It’s over after that. I’m a low-flying dragon.”

THE END

Post-script:

 

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