The unreality of identity politics in sports

You don’t think we asked for more money? I mean, what are we screaming about? Nonstop! –– Megan Rapinoe

In case you haven’t noticed, women’s soccer star Megan Rapinoe has been on the offensive in the media. She claims the USWNT deserves equal pay to the men, when it has already been proven in court that the women have been paid MORE than the men in the past decade. This lesbian athlete, now activist, has Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton & Joe Biden behind her, so she’s hard to stop at this time.

Draymond Green is correct in what he says, but politics are there in the media to distort the argument in favor of Megan Rapinoe’s reactionary agenda. All this is being driven by something much bigger than her.

It’s so easy to be bold when the field has been cleared for you. Megan Rapinoe always claims to be so educated, as compared to whomever she’s attacking. Yet she distorts facts, and won’t listen to reason, in any sense. For example, under capitalism (and Rapinoe is surely a capitalist), you are paid as an athlete according to what you can bring in economically. That was Draymond Greens’ central point during his Twitter storm, and Megan Rapinoe never honestly addresses it.

The NCAA basketball tournaments have just concluded for the men & women. Both were broadcast on TV networks & big cable channels. They were also available for free streaming on the internet. Basically, everyone who wanted to watch had access.

The 2021 NCAA men’s basketball championship game attracted 16.9 million viewers to CBS on Monday (April 5), as Baylor beat undefeated Gonzaga 86-70. It wasn’t even that close, as the refs really helped the Zags stay in it. That hurt the ratings as Gonzaga had an Off Night.

This was a 14% decline from the 2019 game. The 2020 tournament was canceled due to the pandemic, and the Virginia-Auburn (2019) championship game went into OT.

The two women’s Final Four games on Friday (April 2) averaged 2.2 million viewers for ESPN, and Sunday’s championship game between Stanford–Arizona brought in 4.05 million viewers. Both are up from 2019, with the semifinals improving by 22%, and the title game by 10.5%.

The men’s Final Four average audience for Saturday’s two games on CBS (11.81 million) was down 14% from 2019. The men’s Final Four suffered smaller drops than the most recent World Series, NBA & NHL finals, and college football’s national championship game.

But as we can see from the raw numbers, even under these media trends (women up, men down), women only draw ~ 20-25% of the viewers that men do. The truth is the interest isn’t as intense for the women sports, unless there’s a transcending superstar such as Mia Hamm, the Williams’ sisters, Maria Sharapova, or Danica Patrick.

Megan Rapinoe isn’t in that class. Being hyped “elite” anymore, ain’t what it used to be. There are egos & big money involved here, so people will be dishonest, but Megan Rapinoe’s appeal is very limited. She’s abrasive, and not beautiful. How do you market that to a mass audience?

In a rare moment of candor she notes, “We are getting obnoxious to ourselves, to be honest.” Think on that for a moment. This is a half-educated individual, with half-baked ideas, fed to her from half-hearted liberal supporters. Megan Rapinoe is a puppet on a string, and the worst kind, in that she doesn’t know it.

She represents a very limited strata of well-paid American athletes who believe they should get more, and are completely oblivious to everyone outside of their own interest group. Megan Rapinoe can tap into the reactionary #MeToo campaign as a woman, AND the LGBTQ…WXYZ campaign as a lesbian. Identity politics is still searching for its Holy Grail, a gay black women who is an athletic superstar. But as the song goes, two out three ain’t bad.

So all of you women teachers, don’t be fooled by this selfish poser. She’s a jock, which means she didn’t study in school, and speaks only for herself & the sponsors. All you women Amazon workers, don’t buy into this feminist crap which only seeks to divide men & women.

Feminists don’t care about workers on the job. You’re supposed to shut up & work, and then cheer for all of them on the weekends. All you girls in school, does that colored-hair phony have anything to say concerning crushing student loan debt? How about COVID-19 in the classroom? Girls are very affected by this.

Megan Rapinoe pontificates, “You know, just generally, the issue that we have with voter suppression in this country, I think everybody and every business and everything should be at the disposal to make sure that we’re influencing those laws in the right way.”

My first questions are: Who are “we,” and in whose interests are the laws to be influenced? She’s certainly not talking about working people, who are the ones that create all the value with their labor. By “we” she means her elitist colleagues. There needs to be more diversity amongst the oppressors. That’s the bottom-line argument of identity politics.

Then there’s is the issue of voter suppression. Socialists are systematically kept off election ballots– by the Democratic Party. This is an inconvenient political fact, which the likes of Megan Rapinoe always ignore. But facts are stubborn things. Any left-wing alternative to the Democratic party is censored & attacked by the deep state apparatus.

It doesn’t matter too much who the President is, because the deep state runs the show. The proof of that is the current US president clearly has dementia, and the VP is a puppet. So who’s running the country?

On October 31, 2019, former Acting CIA Director John McLaughlin (above) said to a live audience with reporters in the room, that he was grateful for the deep state’s role in prompting the Ukraine-gate impeachment of President Trump. “Well, you know, thank God for the deep state,” McLaughlin responded, provoking laughter and applause.

Until that day, those of us who had proclaimed its existence & massive influence were deemed “conspiracy theorists.” The deep state still isn’t completely acknowledged by the liberal media, as a cover-up for this nebulous institution, where all the political & economic levers-of-power are held.

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NCAA basketball tournament notes

The NCAA basketball tournaments, men’s & women’s, were cancelled in 2020, due to the COVID lockdowns. The back-to-school campaign has many interested aspects, and college sports is certainly one of them. The NCAA men’s basketball tournament has existed since 1939, and predates organized professional basketball & the NBA, which was established post-WW2.

This is arguably the most prestigious NCAA event for many reasons. Virtually every Division I university has a basketball program, as compared to football, which is much more expensive. According to Google, there are 350 schools that are full members of 32 Division I basketball conferences, as compared to 130 varsity football teams.

Furthermore, basketball is now more competitive than ever, especially in the mid-level conferences. The 64 (68) team format allows all the best teams in, with a fair chance to win it all. It’s the toughest tournament to win, and almost impossible to repeat anymore. It’s been like that since John Wooden left UCLA.

Teams want to at least make the NCAA tournament, and if they don’t, coaching vacancies appear. For example, on the eve of the 2021 NCAA tournament, Marquette announced they had fired their head coach Steve Wojciechowski.

A week later they have announced Shaka Smart as their new head coach. There was a $7M buyout from Texas that had to be handled, and it was, since they got bounced by a #14 seed. The top open jobs are now considered to be Indiana, Texas & Oklahoma. In total, there were 37 D1 basketball head coach vacancies when 2020-21 seasons ended. A few more will appear after the tournament ends.

New Marquette basketball head coach Shaka Smart faces some alumni concern. This video above shows Texas up 14 points at home in the second half, when civil war broke out, and West Virginia ended up winning by 2. I know Marquette just hired its first black head coach, and it’s all good feelings after firing Wojo (which was necessary), but this is concerning. A lot of other head coaches are about to become available, particularly Loyola Ramblers’ Porter Moser, but Marquette already took themselves out of that running with this quick hire.

There are a lot of factors that go into such a decision, especially for a school like Marquette which has a long history of losing its head coaches to other schools who are willing to pay higher salaries & invest more into their basketball programs. Marquette has lost Rick Majerus, Kevin O’Neill, Tom Crean & Buzz Williams because of this. All this goes into a hiring process, as it’s as much about hiring someone you think will stay, as it is about getting a good coach.

FYI, Tex Winter, the innovator of the Chicago Bulls triangle offense with Micheal Jordan, Scottie Pippen, etc, was the Marquette Hilltoppers head coach for two seasons, from 1951-53. Marquette basketball has a rich coaching history, so we’ll see. As an alumnus with a rooting interest, I’ll give Shaka Smart a fair chance, but I have my doubts, and I’m not the only one. As the leader, you can’t ever lose control of your ranks.

Then there are the women, who are now televised on ABC & ESPN. They are playing in San Antonio, while the men compete in Indianapolis on CBS & TBS. That’s equal coverage for the women, so it comes down to ratings & ticket demand when comparing their economic value to men.

The coronavirus pandemic has affected tournament logistics greatly. Holding the entire tournament in one city with enough gyms makes sense. Once again, I don’t miss the fans in the stands. I think the officiating is MUCH better without fans to yell, boo & harass the refs into giving their team the call.

All this mask wearing, and then pulling it down to yell, etc, is optics. I watch because I’m starved for entertainment, like everyone else, but I’m not fooled. These events are fundamentally irresponsible during this pandemic. More & more they resemble the last days of bread & circuses during the Roman Empire.

The women’s play has much improved since the NCAA established Title IX in 1972, which prohibited discrimination on the basis of sex in any activity receiving federal funds, such as athletic scholarships to universities. The women’s Sweet 16 teams are all solid in fundamentals & team play, where in the past it was only a few programs, namely Tennessee & Connecticut.

Note that I don’t think the women are anywhere near as exciting as the men in hoops, but I recognize that they know how to play. I spend much of my time evaluating the girls for their hotness. For instance, when it’s Baylor vs. Michigan, I rate the Wolverines as clean-cut, but homelier, with only one or two pretty girls.

The Baylor women are nappy & cuter, but I’m not a fan of their fake eyelashes. Spend more time on your game, girlfriend. Call me old school on that. All this makes me wonder what the girls have been looking at all these years, as we boys take these games so seriously?

I’m on record that I don’t like mascot names, and there’s a double hypocrisy with the Baylor women referring to themselves as the “Lady Bears.” I’m going to let YOU figure that one out.

As far as the Baylor Bears go, this guy’s nickname is “Off Night” because when he guards you, you have an off night. That’s an impressive nickname if you can live up to it, and Davion Mitchell does. He’ll be in the NBA someday, if he stays healthy.

Look at the improvement in his college stats from year-to-year. What the stats don’t show are his elite defensive skills & leadership. Davion Mitchell is a serious baller, with upside, MUCH better than his 1st-team All-American teammate Jared Butler.

In the era of the 3-point shot in the NCAA tournament (1987-present), I’ve never seen a college defender handle the high screen & roll better. Off Night slips below (or above) the screener and closes back to the dribbler in the blink of an eye, before the ball handler can set to shoot. There is no lane to drive on Off Night, who plays defense like a hybrid of Darrell Armstrong & Scottie Pippen.

Furthermore, if the opposition tries some high-low action on the other side, Off Night rotates over and plays the high zone on that side. Baylor attacks with their defense, switching from man-to-man to zone defense on the fly, so effectively, because of Off Night. He always boxes out the closest big when in position. Off Night checked one guy to disrupt their rebounding momentum, then boxed the big, more than once in their win against Villanova. That kind of player is a coach’s dream.

These highlights from that Sweet 16 game against Villanova, mostly show his offensive game, which still needs some polish, particularly shooting 3’s. But with his work ethic & basketball IQ, I expect Off Night to be a top NBA guard in the near future. He’s only a Junior, so he may stay another year, but he’s definitely top-10 talent now, and possibly the best player in this tournament.

Tue 30 Mar 2021 11:19 AM EDT

Averaging close to 17 PPG while shooting 43% from the field, Moses Moody had only 11 points on 2-10 shooting, including 0-4 in 3’s. Moody had 3 TO’s, double his season average. Arkansas lost to Baylor, 81-72, in the Elite 8. You can say he had an Off Night.

After getting called for 3 cheezy fouls in the 1st half, Off Night played the entire 2nd half without picking up another foul. Baylor was only allowed to press at about one-third to one-half their normal intensity, in order to keep Off Night on the floor. Poor officiating kept Arkansas in this game, and CBS approved. Unbelievable maturity, understanding & leadership by Davion Mitchell. Suddenly, it’s unanimous that Off Night is the best college player.

On the women’s side, Baylor’s Lady Bears were edged 69-67 by the Lady Huskies of Connecticut last night, aided by a bad no-call at the end, featured above. DiJonai Carrington was clearly fouled by two defenders, but no whistle. LeBron James tweeted a viral comment, “Cmon man!!! That was a FOUL!!” For background, Lady Bears head coach Kim Mulkey has faced backlash, after calling for COVID-19 testing to be scrapped ahead of the Final Four. So you tell me why there was no foul call?

Officiating is still the biggest problem in hoops. Bad referees can take a superior team out of its game faster than anything else. They can also decide it at game time. I wonder if those Baylor/UConn refs had East Coast bias, or just bias against fake eyelashes? I also wonder how the Oregon State women’s team refers to their mascot name?

Tue 30 Mar 2021 03:20 PM EDT

Davion Mitchell Scouting Report: Off Night leads the Baylor defense by manning-up on the opposition’s best perimeter player to start. If the whistles are fair, he will smother that player within a few minutes. It’s called owning your man on defense, and Off Night is the NCAA standard. Then his quickness, strength & skills go to work on the other end. His conditioning is professional grade, and punishing at both ends. Davion Mitchell has an NBA body already.

On defense, Off Night will switch the Bears to zone as needed, depending on what the opposition is trying to run. For instance, if it’s a three-man weave up top, Off Night will take the head of a 1-2-2 zone. That will stop that. If there’s some action being set-up on either wing, he’ll dive into that (2-3) zone & wreak havoc. He’s always communicating with his teammates, putting them in the right spots, so everything is covered. Then he can turn up the heat with ball pressure.

Most coaches tell their point guards, “Bring the ball up, and then get us into our offense, do this & this…” Off Night negates all that from even starting. He picks up full court, three-quarter court, half court, or minimally before the ball handler gets into shooting range. You must be in a power dribble by then, otherwise he will steal the ball. Players try their best quick moves, but Off Night is quicker. Sometimes too quick for the refs. If you’re a scorer who gives up the ball, he’ll make it difficult for you to get it back.

It gets very demoralizing to know that somebody is this good, and you’re not even close. I’ve only seen 3 games in Off Night’s career, starting with the Wisconsin game in the Round of 32, but it’s easy to see how his nickname has come about. Davion Mitchell has been owning guys for years, and it’s such a traumatic experience, that opposition players typically don’t want to talk about it. As a footnote on semantics, if you match up against Off Night during the day, his name changes to Off Game. Same result.

Here’s a hypothetical opposing high school head coach after a big loss. “Well our star guards who score 30 PPG & 25 PPG were held to single digits each. I don’t think anyone could have imagined that, and one guy can’t cover both of them. That’s impossible. Credit the opposing coach for coming up with a great game plan. Our guys never looked comfortable out there, and our best players each had an off night.” Yada, yada, yada…

Assuming you’ve never seen a player play, or have access to any scouting reports, stats, etc: How can you tell if you are watching a great player, or just someone who is having a great game? You can tell by knowing what goes into making a great player. Great players are aware of things that other players don’t even consider. They share the credit, and are the most selfless leaders, through example. A great player will make his teammates better, and does everything to help his team stay connected. This is how to win, because you can’t do it alone.

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Shaq is Shattered

Good God, almighty!! The tables are everywhere! People are shattered!! — AEW Dynamite

I’m not a pro wresting fan, but this was Nacho Libre-esque! Shaq invited this mess when he took a swipe at Cody Rhodes’ eyes. Obviously Rhodes has fighting experience, because he immediately retaliated with a finger jab to Shaq’s left eye. It was a “playful” poke, which only temporarily blinded Shaq, but I got the sense Cody Rhodes could have taken his eye out if he had wanted to. You have to train military style for such a lethal/crippling response to be that reflexive & accurate. Then Rhodes showed off his wrestling moves with a horizontal flying body tackle that slammed the mighty Shaq to the ground. OUCH!!

When you throw bad ju-ju out there, over & over, it will eventually find its way back. Then Instant Karma gets you, and payback is a bitch. The screenshot above is Jade Cargill, Shaq’s partner, seconds after he got slammed out cold. She later “won” the match. That’s entertainment, you gotta admit!

Shaq is hurt bad, maybe worse than Tiger Woods, but jacked-up for sure. I’ve been checking, and as of this publication there is still no word. He won’t be wrestling again, as Shaq has been shattered, his spine & hips are in tatters. He did this to himself, by talking trash & disrespecting his opponent and pro wresting in general. Yes, it’s (supposed to be) scripted– part wrestling stunts, part acting, etc.

But if some dumbfuck who wants all the headlines for himself gets off script, then anything [!!] goes. Shaq’s fingernails are claws, as you can clearly see at the end of the video, when he’s out cold on the concrete, after being declared part of the winning team. If you swipe at a man’s eyes with all that, one too many times, this is what happens. When they’re setting-up fall barricades behind you (2 folding tables), a Darwinian light bulb should go on.

She said “I’m fine, I’m okay” cover up your trembling hands
There’s indecision when you know you ain’t got nothing left
Well the good times never stay
And the cheap thrills always seem to fade away (when will we fall)
When will we fall (when will we fall down)

Jump back, got to get out of here
Been too, too long this time babe
Jump back, got to get out of here
When will, when will we fall down?

Toad the Wet Sprocket  “Fall Down”

Finally, when you get eye-gouged, go to your corner. Don’t take the charge. Not enough ring experience for such a tough wrestling circuit. Shaquille O’Neal will be remembered in two sports. In hoops he was the ultimate force of his era out of LSU, but too often a disappointment to his professional teams, coaches & fans. He picked fights with Kobe Bryant, because he was jealous of his pure talent & charisma. He threw Penny Hardaway under the bus in Orlando, even as they were 1996 Olympic “teammates.” That’s why most Orlando Magic fans prefer Dwight Howard.

No one is arguing Shaq doesn’t deserve to be a NBA HoF-er, he is. But he is not the best ever (or second best) at center, as he always claims in his bullying manner. Wilt Chamberlain would have owned him, much like Akeem did, only more. Jabbar was better overall. So was Tim Duncan. Russell knew how to win. They all rate better, and that’s the basketball respect Shaq has earned. Top-10 all-time is really good.

Shaq always wants more than he deserves, and more than he’s earned, constantly grumbling about being disrespected, etc. So here’s some professional respect for Shaq. The other sport Shaquille O’Neal will be remembered for is professional wrestling. It was a short career, and Shaq was the ultimate shooting star. WOW!! It was the most glorious ‘unscripted’ moment ever in pro wrestling, although in retrospect, if you look closely after reading all this, you could see it all coming. It wasn’t Earth shattering, but it was Shaq shattering.

Mon 08 Mar 2021 12:25 PM EST

Epilogue: I noticed Shaq was bent forward at he sat & spoke during TNT’s NBA All-Star game broadcast last evening. Definitely not as bad as Tiger Woods’ injuries, but I imagine it still hurts, as he took damage. Apparently he’s not disabled, but he did receive a serious concussion, beyond the brutal back injury, so who knows? Shaq got all-time posterized in pro wrestling, and that’s the best of what happened.

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Hot Stove Burnout

This is the final wrap-up of Hot Stove Slow Burn

A few good reasons the Mets didn’t land Trevor Bauer

1) Dodgers offered better money in the first two years. He’s opting out after that.
2) Dodgers are a winning organization, and more scientifically driven.
3) On Thursday evening, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reported that Bauer had agreed to a deal with the Mets. Six minutes later, Mark Feinsand refutes that report.
4) On Friday, the Mets defeated J.D. Davis in salary arbitration, paying him $2.1 million rather than $2,475,000. That SCREAMS cheap-ass management & ownership.
5) On Friday morning , the Mets set a noon ET deadline for Bauer to make his decision on their contract offer, according to a report from MLB Network insider Joel Sherman, claiming, “they didn’t want to be used to help Bauer gain leverage with the Dodgers.”
6) On Friday afternoon, with their self-imposed deadline expired and still no word, the Mets tune changes. “They are waiting on Bauer’s free-agent decision, but it’s unclear if they’ve given the right-hander a deadline.”

I was wrong about no more big MLB trades this winter, after the SDP acquired RHP Joe Musgrove from PIT. Last week, 3B Nolan Arenado was sent to STL from COL, who eats $51M on a deal they inked with their franchise player only two years ago. Rockies got no serious prospects in return, so this was a straight salary dump. STL jumps to the top of a weak NL Central.

What I said about a lot of free agents returning to their old teams, or having to accept minor league deals, or getting frozen out completely, has happened. The latest reunion is Marcell Ozuna back to ATL at 4/$65M. Once again, it’s because OF/DH Ozuna has more value to ATL than any other team that is spending money. Same with DH Nelson Cruz, who resigned with MIN at 1/$13M, and 2B Cesar Hernandez who re-signed with CLE at 1/$5M.

MIL signed 2B Kolten Wong at 2/$18M to solidify their infield defense. I’m assuming the LAD will re-sign 3B Justin Turner, and that STL will re-sign C Yadier Molina. That means CF Jackie Bradley Jr is the only significant position player remaining in FA. What’s left (that matters) is pitching, and that’s a crapshoot, for sure.

Remaining starters: Taijuan Walker, James Paxton, Jake Odorizzi, Rick Porcello, Matt Shoemaker, Rich Hill, Brett Anderson, Jake Arrieta, Cole Hamels, Mike Foltynewicz, Mike Leake, Homer Bailey, Aníbal Sánchez and Mike Fiers.

Righty relievers: Mark Melancon, Trevor Rosenthal, Tyler Clippard, Trevor Cahill, Jeremy Jeffress, Tommy Hunter, Shane Greene, Yusmeiro Petit, and Sergio Romo.

Lefties relievers: Oliver Pérez, Justin Wilson, Jake McGee, José Álvarez, T.J. McFarland, Mike Montgomery, Chasen Shreve, and Tony Watson.

MLB salaries have decreased for the past 3 years, for the first time since their union starting keeping track in 1967. The current CBA is set to expire December 1, 2021. MLB players haven’t been happy with this deal since the free agency season of 2017-18, when 2nd-tier free agents saw their value collapse, due to increased use of advanced metrics by GM’s, which proves these players aren’t worth the big contracts they’ve been used to.

The International draft is now the free agent talent hot-spot, because these players are young & cheap. Young players (generally) play better defense, which is valued more accurately now. The International draft reduces the need for traditional free agency in filling roster voids. 1B Jose Abreu of the CWS is a great example of this.

This free agent freeze-out has been compared to “collusion” of an earlier era (1985-87), and technically it is, as all the GM’s agree (pretty much) on player valuation. But it’s not criminal collusion, because it’s out in the open. The fans know it too, and debate it in blogs, chat forums & social media. The smarter players also know it.

Therefore the MLBPA has no grievance of collusion here. This is stupidity in leadership to accept this rotten deal, with no understanding of the direction the game was going. Leadership is supposed to know better than anyone, but instead it’s the furthest behind. Now there’s a coronavirus pandemic on top of all this, and its unprecedented challenges, for which Tony Clark & Company are completely ill-prepared.

The players should fire all their union leadership, and organize amongst themselves, electing leaders of their own, with the ability to recall & replace them at any time, if they fail to serve the interests of the players as a whole. All CBA negotiations need to be open & transparent, with time for all players to debate & understand its meaning & full ramifications.

This needs to include the minor leagues, developmental sites, & international professional leagues, such as those in Japan, Korea & Mexico. With players being posted & signed as free agents from all parts of the world, any MLB players’ labor organization needs to have international representation & an internationalist perspective.

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Henry Aaron & home runs

Henry (Hank) Aaron, who passed away yesterday at age 86, is best remembered for breaking Babe Ruth’s all-time MLB home run record, finally finishing with 755, to Ruth’s 714. Aaron broke Ruth’s mark in the face of ugly Jim Crow racism in 1974.

His death is somewhat ironic in its timing, as the MLB HoF balloting is to be announced on January 26, which is next Tuesday. On the ballot again is Barry Bonds, who hit 762 HRs, and was the greatest player ever. And there’s Roger Clemens, who went 354-184, to become the greatest pitcher ever, etc.

But old-timers like Hank Aaron have insisted they be kept out due to PEDs. Except that Milwaukee Brewers owner Bud Selig was the “Steroid Commissioner,” and he’s in the HoF, elected by a committee of Hank Aaron’s peers.

Fans need to understand that there were two coffee pots in the clubhouse– regular, and the one spiked with greenies which was called “leaded.” There were bowls full of amphetamines that you could help yourself to, etc. That’s how the players did it in Hank Aaron’s era, so don’t have any illusions when making past allusions. Most sportswriters looked the other way, just like they (& fans) did when McGwire & Sosa were swatting all their bombs.

There’s no merit to these exclusionist objections, and in fact, they’re hypocritical. A bunch of PED users have already gotten in, and once that happens, you have to let them all in, to be fair. Relatively speaking, there’s much more steroid abuse in the NFL & NCAAF, and it’s gone on much longer. Too few sports fans want to be serious about this, which is why these issues persist.

Henry Aaron was the last Negro League player to go to MLB, before they all folded after integration, which began with Jackie Robinson in April 1947. Hank Aaron played for the Indianapolis Clowns in 1952, before being selected by the Milwaukee Braves. Like Jackie, Hank was a very hard man, due to his early-life circumstances. In the end, baseball fans celebrate his talent, determination & extraordinary courage more than anything. RIP Henry Aaron

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Trump pardons Lil Wayne, but I don’t

Packers fans: Who is better Lil Wayne, or Aikman/Buck?

I took an impromptu straw poll last weekend, and speculated it to be a classic ‘Hillary or Trump’ conundrum, but I learned that Green Bay Packers fans much prefer Buck/Aikman to Lil Wayne. That says something.

Song/video review: Lame beats, stupid rhymes, with no melody hook. All compression in production. Someone tell Lil Wayne this is low-grade dog shit. I’ve heard better music at the ballgame…

He claims he worked on this for three (3) whole days. Lil Wayne says he never takes that long to do a song. Amazing results, huh? How can I be a big rock star like him? If we didn’t have Lil Wayne (and the rest) keepin’ it real, and providing the soundtrack for our lives, what would we have?

Listen to Lil Wayne rap, “Number 12, number 12…”  He probably never heard of Lynn Dickey. No images of him in the video. Typical front-runner fan. Obviously Aaron Rodgers is one of the best NFL QB’s ever, but it’ still disrespectful to ancient Lambeau faithful. There are many of them.

Lynn Dickey was a more-than-adequate QB when he had WR James Lofton, TE Paul Coffman & RB Terdell Middleton. They were a prolific NFL offense for a few years. The problem was their defense & special teams were shit.

Green & gold, green & gold to Trump Tower, baby
Green & gold, green & gold CMB power, baby

Representin’– you know what I mean?

A lot of celebrity rappers apparently bought themselves a pardon. It’s a disgusting lot that was pardoned, in whole. I wonder what Trump wanted for Julian Assange’s pardon? NO support from this gangsta crowd for the WikiLeaks founder. It’s just another reason to dislike Lil Wayne’s latest song, which was only released on YouTube 4 days ago!

      1. Millennial Whoop - Ric Size

 

Donald Trump’s pardoning Lil Wayne and the rest of these black rappers is nothing more than a cash pay-off to Trump, which is how he does business. The white supremacists can’t be happy about this one. Trump has been a very divisive President, no question.

The nuclear football hand-off has been executed and the führer in officially in exile, just like Adolf Hitler after his failed Beer Hall Putsch in November 1923. The political lessons of January 6 won’t be forgotten by the working masses. Fascism is storming the Capitol, then trying to hide from it.

The political question to the fascists from everybody else is, “What is next for your movement?”  Marxists take what Nazis say seriously. You don’t get to use History as a platform, when you don’t know it. Everyone needs to be listening, and very interested in their answer(s).

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Hot Stove Slow Burn

Mostly nothing has been happening on the MLB hot stove because everyone’s attention has been on the International Draft, which began yesterday, January 15. Young, cheap talent gets all 30 MLB GM’s (& their owners) excited. How each team does here, has a huge impact on an organization’s future. This draft has been moved up from July 2, due to COVID-19.

At the major-league level, only the SDP, NYM, ATL & CWS have made any significant roster upgrades, in an attempt to catch the LAD this off-season. As of this publication, the NYY just re-signed DJ LeMahieu (6/$90M), and reportedly just inked RHP Cory Kluber (1/$11M) to replace Masahiro Tanaka.

This treading water still makes NYY the AL favorites, because the TBR dumped ace lefty Blake Snell to the SDP, and HOU is losing free-agent OF’s George Springer (qualifying offer tagged), Michael Brantley, along with RHP Justin Verlander to Tommy John surgery.

When you look at the free agents the CLE, OAK, MIN, TBR are losing, it’s hard to see any of them making a deep run in 2021, without spending some money now. The CHC dumped legitimate #2 starter, Hu Darvish & their back-up catcher to the SDP, for #3 starter RHP Zach Davies & four prospects– none of them pitchers. That dump turned the NL Central into mush.

PHI, TOR & LAA keep saying they’re going to do something, and they might. Plenty of talent available. Trevor Bauer (CIN), JT Realmuto (PHI) & George Springer (HOU) have a qualifying offer (QO) tag on them, meaning they cost a draft pick to sign with another team. NYY offered DJ LeMahieu a QO, and he refused, which gave the Yankees leverage in their negotiations.

If you’ve ever talked about how losing top picks affects a fantasy draft with friends, they’ll all tell you it’s a killer. It’s the same (x10) in MLB. Most GM’s are averse to losing draft picks now. This really limits the market for free agents.

Qualifying offer compensation depends on a complex formula in the CBA, based on revenues, but a team loses either a 2nd or 3rd round pick, (and possibly a later-round pick too) when they sign a QO-tagged FA. This helps recipient teams have great drafts, which puts those organizations ahead of their competition. Example: MIL needs a catcher, and JT Realmuto would work for them, except: 1) their payroll budget isn’t there; and 2) MIL needs their draft picks even more.

The lesson is that the player should almost always accept the QO. It’s becoming more true each winter. Example: RHP Marcus Stroman is smart for accepting his QO. Otherwise, he would have been waiting until after the June Draft as a QO-tagged FA. At $18.9M for 2021, it’s an overpay by the NYM. Next winter Stroman is an unrestricted FA.

Same deal with RHP Kevin Gausman and the SFG. Both teams (Mets & Giants) probably hoped these pitchers would refuse their QO’s, so they could collect a draft pick, but that wasn’t going to happen either way. Unless TOR signs George Springer to a big deal (and they could use him), he could become the next Mike Moustakas, Yasmani Grandal, Dallas Keuchel, Craig Kimbrel, who were frozen-out of free agency by their QO-tag.

The Achilles heel of the NYY is their predominantly right-handed lineup, and fragile/thin pitching staff. Re-signing DJ LeMahieu doesn’t fix that, it entrenches it. Lefty bats are hard to find, as WAS isn’t trading LF Juan Soto, and the NYM aren’t looking to deal OF Dominic Smith. The NYY are too right-handed, and that’s why smart teams like the TBR can run a bunch of tough right-handers onto mound and beat them consistently in 2020.

NYY are now about $10M below the threshold, which they’ve exceeded the past two seasons. Like the BOS in 2020, the 2021 NYY need to stay under that threshold to avoid a huge MLB penalty tax. They’ll need that $10M for call-ups during the season, and possibly a trade deadline deal or two.

This rules out a reunion with RHP Masahiro Tanaka. The SDP are looking for another starter in free agency, and will probably sign him, unless CIN is serious about dealing RHP Luis Castillo. AJ Preller would love to re-acquire the young flamethrower.

It’s coming down to a team making an offer, to nearly any player, who has no other options. If you’re a GM, it’s a buyer’s market for free agent talent, like never before. The question is, how will MLB owners pay for it?

On the field, the LAD & SDP have what it takes to handle the NYY & HOU, with WAS, ATL, NYM & CWS in the second-tier for 2021. Championships are often won in the off-season, and this winter appears to be no exception. Only a few teams are stacked to win a World Series in 2021. The possibility of a third-tier team winning it all is slim, and for a Cinderella, it’s remote.

MLB still hasn’t made a final ruling on the NL DH for 2021, when it’s already the new rule for 2022 & beyond. The universal DH protects pitchers & staff as a whole. It also allows NL rosters to be more flexible. You need both leagues to play by the same rules for it to be a fair game.

All this needs to be understood under the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic which is raging out of control. Sports stadiums are now being used as mass vaccination centers. Is it ethical to interrupt such a life-saving operation to play baseball?

I have friends as season ticket-holders, and they wonder out loud, “How can owners sell fans tickets to games?” Too many states won’t allow it at this point, with California being the most notable. The Dodgers, Padres, Angels, A’s, Giants, etc, may have to find a new home for 2021, and that’s if there’s even baseball at all. The start of the 2021 MLB season will be delayed for sure, that’s the industry consensus.

Tue 19 Jan 2021 10:30 AM EST

Padres get: RHP Joe Musgrove
Mets get: LHP Joey Lucchesi
Pirates get: OF Hudson Head, RHP David Bednar, LHP Omar Cruz, RHP Drake Fellows from the Padres and C/OF Endy Rodriguez from the Mets

RHP Joe Musgrove was another target of the NYY. Reportedly they were also interested in RHP Luis Castillo, but the Reds GM said he’s not being dealt in a statement on January 17, dedicated to quelling the rabid NY media. The asking price for Luis Castillo was surely too high for AJ Preller. The NYY couldn’t acquire either of these coveted young arms, because they don’t have the prospects. All the speculation on this was fake reporting & east coast bias.

Unlike hired-then-fired manager Carlos Beltran last winter, now ex-GM Jared Porter (pic above) had enough time to leave his mark on the Mets franchise. First there was the Francisco Lindor & Carlos Carrasco for prospects deal with CLE, which has been hyped as the biggest deal of the MLB winter. Really it’s a one-year rental on a star SS, with an expensive 3rd-starter thrown in. It’s a ‘Mookie Betts Lite’ salary dump by comparison, and if the NYM don’t sign Lindor to an extension, the question becomes: What did they give up?

Now the Mets just acquired left-handed 6th-starter Joey Lucchesi from the SDP, just as new GM Jared Porter was fired for sending over 60 explicit emails to women staffers several years ago. This is the Amazing Mess. Who is in charge of vetting, and reviewing resumes for MLB front office & management openings in Queens, NY? Why can’t the Mets keep their pitchers healthy? Why does this high-payroll team finish in the second-division year after year? Why are they so poor defensively? None of these realities are ever taken up seriously by the NY media, in their prognostications, nor by those who own this Amazing Mess.

Sat 23 Jan 2021 1:50 AM EST

MLB great Henry Aaron died yesterday at age 86. Here are my thoughts.

It appears the Joe Musgrove-to-the Padres deal was the final big trade of the MLB winter, the last coveted starter available for prospects. The Reds hoped to deal RHP Sonny Gray (2/$20M remaining), but teams were more interested in Luis Castillo (as discussed), so nothing developed there. This turned GM’s back to free agency, and the market has finally started to move.

Since my last update, CF George Springer signed with TOR for 6/$150M, and OF Michael Brantley re-upped with HOU for 2/$32M. SDP fans are pleased AJ Preller re-signed Jurickson Profar at 3/$21M. BOS nabbed LAD utility player Enrique Hernández for 2/$14M. Notice how position-flexible players like Profar & Hernández are valued today.

The remaining starters in free agency are mediocre, injury risks, and/or old. Masahiro Tanaka is probably the second-best option, after Trevor Bauer. It appears the LAA are going to make the reigning NL CY Young Award winner an offer he can’t refuse. The Angels are the team with money to spend that needs Trevor Bauer most, after recently signing LHP Jose Quintana for 1/$8M.

With the top starters decided, or out-of-reach, the market has turned to relievers. Pedro Baez (2/$12.5M w/ HOU), and Kirby Yates (1/$5.5M w/ TOR) were the most coveted bullpen arms, after closer Liam Hendricks signed a 4/$54M deal with the CWS last week. That shows you what’s left in the reliever market, and how quickly it dries up.

JT Realmuto appears heading back to PHI at ~ 5/$110M, unanimously according to industry sources. Lots of free agents speculated to go back to their old teams. Nelson Cruz (MIN), Marcell Ozuna (ATL), Didi Gregorious (PHI), etc. We’ll see. The Phillies have been slow-played this winter in their quest to re-sign catcher JT Realmuto, to the point where they can’t do anything else until this happens. Realmuto would probably like to sign elsewhere after losing in PHI, but he isn’t getting any other comparable offers.

There are still a bunch of mediocre catchers available, and most teams need depth, but no one can make a move in the catcher’s market until the top guy signs. Until then, just about everyone in need, holds out hope they can get him for cheap. That’s how the Cubs got RF Andre Dawson in 1987 for league minimum salary, if you think it can’t happen.

Now that George Springer & Michael Brantley have signed, the outfielder market will get some movement, for these reasons. But outside of the top remaining players, it’s mostly cheap one-year contracts for these guys at this point. That means it’s time for the Twins, Brewers, Cardinals, A’s, etc, to get active.

Penny-pinching teams are looking for bargains, and veterans are being squeezed out of the game. Matt Kemp, Ryan Braun, Jay Bruce, etc, aren’t getting MLB deals. It’s minor league contracts for these guys, at best. A lot of veteran sluggers are about to announce their MLB retirements over the next few months, they just haven’t accepted it yet.

Summarizing conclusions: The upshot of this is that EVERY team values talent MUCH differently than they did, even as recently as five years ago. Data-driven analytics, started by Bill James in the 1980’s, has opened up new frontiers in competitive baseball. The SDP are now the sexy franchise model, which combines the best of old-school scouting, with metrics & modern money management.

The LAD are the big-market model, but it’s too expensive for most, so teams have to find a different way to compete, and that starts with talent in the minors. Many fans ask, “What’s left of the minors?” That’s another serious baseball question. COVID-19 has encouraged teams to bring up young talent faster than ever, because, 1) they are cheap, and 2) there may be no tomorrow.

Here’s another new GM rule which is helpful to understand. Teams are targeting specific players, in their needs. This means if the targeted player signs somewhere else, GM’s will often leave that market, because the second option(s) at that position isn’t a good fit for the team/organization. Needs are very specific in terms of age, lefty/righty, switch hitters, power, OBP, defense, utility players, stealing bases, etc, whether it’s at a certain position or bench depth. Moreover, money is now too expensive for any MLB owner to waste.

In the end, the game comes down to which GM’s & scouting departments evaluate talent the best? Right now it’s the LAD, TBR, HOU, NYY, ATL & SDP. Here’s another dirty secret the MLBPA doesn’t want fans & their own players to know: the luxury tax is basically a hard cap. The financial & draft-pick penalties get every owner under it after two years, and they don’t ever go back over with the reset, because it’s HARD to get under without breaking up the team. See the Mookie Betts-David Price deal for BOS.

The NYY have signed minor-league contracts with pitchers which they are bringing into spring training to compete for spots [!] on their 26-man roster. This is a team with a $200M payroll. The waiver wire has also been active this winter.  For example: Padres outfielder Greg Allen went to NYY through waivers, to clear roster room for all their big acquisitions, while low-OBP slugger Hunter Renfroe was waived by the Rays, and signed with BOS for 1/$3M. That’s ironic franchise role reversal, from as recently as two years ago.

The Rule 5 Draft had a lot of selections, which surprised some people, but this is how AJ Preller re-built the SDP from winter 2015 through 2018. Saving money, dumping veterans, accumulating draft picks, investing in young talent, properly valuing defense & relievers, being active in the international draft, etc. Basically, leave no stone unturned when it comes to talent acquisition & getting a fair edge. Think outside the box. Exhaust all the less-expensive options before committing to premium free agents. Everyone in MLB has learned, and is applying this method, mostly out of self preservation in 2021. That explains the free agent hot stove slow burn all winter.

Mon 25 Jan 2021 3:55 PM EST

Postscript: Hand job

This is an interesting case in free agency. Elite reliever Brad Hand had a $10M option with CLE after 2020. In a surprise move, Hand was put on waivers by CLE. But he wasn’t picked up, because no one wanted to pay his 1/$10M contract, so CLE had to buy Brad Hand out for $1M, and he became a free agent. Now Brad Hand reportedly has signed with WAS for 1/$10.5M.

Brad Hand gets the million dollars from CLE for the buyout, but has to pay his agent a fee for the new contract & move, so I don’t think he wins in free agency. Brad Hand’s deal with CLE was an AJ Preller contract he signed with the SDP after 2017.

How well did AJP’s player valuation hold up? He nailed it. Brad Hand was selected by Preller off waivers from MIA in April 2016, just before Mike Hill dealt righty pitching prospect Chris Paddack for Fernando Rodney on June 30, because his team needed a closer. Marlins finally have a new GM, but the damage has been done, and it will be a long climb into serious contention for new GM Kim Ng.

I’ll conclude with the Marlins, because they were so much the story in 2020, in being allowed to cancel & reschedule MLB games due to a COVID-19 outbreak among their players & coaches. Instead of forfeiting these contests, as MLB rules instructed, the commissioners office & MLB executives made things up on-the-fly with new “protocol”, etc. The official forfeit score in baseball is 9-0. In football it’s 2-0, basketball 20-0, and ice hockey 1-0.

In a 60-game season, MIA played about half their games as 7-inning double-headers. They were able to plan their rotation & bullpen strategy far ahead of their AL/NL East competitors, who all had to accommodate the Marlins. This was a deciding factor in sneaking the Fish into the post-season in 2020. But it won’t hold up for 162 games, and neither will MLB in 2021 if COVID-19 is still raging, which by all indications it still will be.

Everything I’ve analyzed above is an industry deluded with the irrational idea that baseball can be safely played in 2021. But rational thought no longer matters in politics, it’s only the opinions of the owners that count as ‘authentic news’. MLB is being faced with survival issues, which has completely disrupted the market, despite the clarity that any independent sportswriter can bring to it.

The Fed can’t keep bailing the MLB owners out forever. Without a bailout, or fans in the stands, how are teams going to meet payroll and other big expenses? There are some owners that feel they can manage it, while others are concerned– to say the least. With all this unrest & uncertainty, there’s a high probability of a labor stoppage in MLB this season, which means the minors too.

HoF voting announced tomorrow: I’m a “small-Hall” guy for everything. Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Curt Schilling, Scott Rolen, Todd Helton, Billy Wagner, Andruw Jones & Jeff Kent are all Hall of Famers. I maintain my steroid line from 2012 with “No” to Manny Ramírez, Sammy Sosa & Gary Sheffield. Mark Buhrle & Andy Pettitte are my borderline guys. Omar Vizquel, and the rest weren’t quite good enough.

Final nugget, just breaking: NYY trades a reliever, along with $850K, and a prospect to BOS, in return for NOTHING. Red Sox pick up $8.15M left on Adam Ottavino’s deal, and send a PTBNL to NYY. Yankees are dumping salary to stay under the luxury tax threshold. Poor player-valuation by Yankees GM Brian Cashman, as this contract didn’t hold up at all, like so many others.

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2020 Abridged Diary

I worked three days in a dental office this year, and it barely paid. Corporate dental is now trying to normalize 40-60% pay cuts for contractor dentists, under increasingly hazardous & exploitative work conditions. COVID-19 has killed dentistry, and my heart goes out to all those who still work in it. If you own a practice, or are staff, you don’t have much of a choice, as there are always bills to pay.

I’m strongly considering not renewing my DEA # & malpractice insurance. I’d like to get paid for being a musical artist or dental health educator, but it’s the corporate blacklist that’s in the way. Who knows what tomorrow will bring?

I spent much of my free time in 2020, stretching out my back, hips & core at home, while walking & hooping downtown. It’s almost all blacks at the courts, young & old, and they’re playing better-than-ever. At this point, I get a lot of love & respect down there, which I appreciate. Basketball players are like a tribe, so it’s like the people in this video.

Including this write-up, I managed to publish 69 blog posts this year (winning number), including new classics such as “DIY Haircuts” and of course “Donald Trump, ‘You’re fired!'” I also recorded some new music with a little help from my friend in December. Tom & I released two new songs this year– “Road Rage” and “Patch Me Up Doc,” which are already among my most popular songs on the streaming services. I have great help.

We have three more new songs coming in 2021. It’s nice to know I’m still not a dinosaur. I have new musical ideas, but no access to venues, or star artists, so options are limited for me until I can find a manager I trust. I think it’s a woman.

Blacklisting is the power of the ruling establishment to censor ideas & artists. This is conflicting with the masses, who are being depressed & under-represented during this pandemic– by the fake media. This coming year portends revolution, as the masses won’t tolerate being told they can’t survive, due to a virus which is spreading out of control because of the bureaucratic policy of “herd immunity,” which is malign neglect by any medical standard.

It’s time for doctors, nurses, and all health care staff to re-take the initiative on the handling of this global pandemic. When the U.S. first went into a lockdown back in March/April 2020, it was because doctors were calling for it. No one else knew what to do, and people were panicking everywhere. Compliance was high because many people understood the seriousness of the situation.

But political leaders of every nation have forced their economies to re-open, schools to re-open, through a campaign of lies & misinformation, under conditions where a killer virus is spreading with no vaccine. This was all to meet the demands of Wall Street & the banks.

Now at the end of 2020, the vaccine roll-out has been sluggish & disjointed, obviously by design. This will maximize corporate profits, and create black markets with protected stockpiles in place. It will make sure the wealthy get vaccinated first. It’s not about saving lives, it’s about maximizing profits for corporate, and protecting the rich.

These are the conditions myself & humanity face rolling into 2021.

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NFL hot-dogging it & blowing it

This crazy, unbelievable & inexplicable play happened during Sunday Night Football last night, Denver vs Kansas City. I don’t watch a lot of NFL anymore, but when I do, and I see something this crazy, I feel compelled to publish my thoughts here.

Kansas City WR Tyreek Hill is a speed demon, and has his man easily beat with the throw there, but he jumps too early as a showboat maneuver, allowing the defender a swipe to dislodge the slightly underthrown ball, which is better than an overthrown ball. The point is that it’s a professional throw from QB Patrick Mahomes, and should have been an easy six points.

Tyreek Hill actually makes the juggling catch but is unaware of it, because he knew he blew the easy catch, while hitting the ground hard which jars the senses. That’s why Tyreek Hill didn’t call for a challenge, he’s on a knee trying to recover all his senses. If you want to say this is another ego-centric brain-dead jock, who got popped for hot-dogging it, I won’t argue.

In total, the wide receiver, the referee, and head coach all blew this play. Andy Reid inexplicably rushed his punt team out, and the ball was snapped just as the replay came up. I thought Tyreek Hill caught it while watching live on TV, because I never saw the ball pop out. At least burn a time out (especially in the first half) to give your coaching staff upstairs time to review the play.

You need at least two looks at replay to confirm it’s a catch. If Reid thought the Broncos might challenge it as an interception, instead of an incompletion, it’s still a touch-back the same as punting into the endzone on 4th down. I know Andy Reid is a great football coach, but sometimes even the best make mistakes under speed & pressure, and it happened here.

It’s the referee who makes the biggest mistake, by making the wrong call. He’s in good position, but the bodies collide, twist, and fall away from him, so the official doesn’t really see what happens. He instantly has to make a call by ‘best guess’ so he signals incomplete pass. His real mistake is in what he DIDN’T do next.

What he should have done next was signal to a colleague that he needed replay confirmation on that call. If that had been done, it would have been overturned as a touchdown. That’s where the entire officiating crew blew it, with most of the blame going to the guy on the call & the head official. Wide receiver hot-dogging, then bad officiating, followed by poor decision-making by a Hall-of-Fame head coach, are all part of one of the craziest football sequences you will ever see.

NBC aired the game with Al Michaels & Cris Collinsworth on the call. Al is old & Cris never says anything that stays with you. They just sound good, while not telling you anything you need to know. They were behind on this entire sequence as it unfolded. Mike Tirico & Tony Dungy are NBC’s best NFL broadcast team, and IMO are even better than Jim Nance & Tony Romo on CBS. Fox’s broadcasts are a distant third in the NFL watchablility race.

And finally, as a musical artist, I don’t care much for the NBC Sunday Night Football theme song, sung by Carrie Underwood. It’s too vicarious, clichéd & processed for my taste. The biggest thing to ever come from American Idol has a great voice, so she doesn’t need all that sound processing, but Carrie Underwood isn’t a songwriter, so she does need a good song.

This theme song is too much of a rip-off of Hank Williams, Jr’s “All my rowdy friends are here on Monday night” from ABC’s Monday Night Football of yesteryear. It also mimics Joan Jett & the Blackhearts’ “I hate myself for loving you.” Pure formula.

Here’s my anti-Grammy winning NFL theme song for 2020

      1. Patch Me Up Doc - Ric Size

 

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Dodgers-Rays World Series Recap

Summary: This was one of those seasons where there was an unbeatable team, and it was their year. The last time it was this way in MLB was in 2018, when the Red Sox won it. Most of us didn’t know at the time that the Red Sox were using electronic devices to illegally steal signs, so that removes some legitimacy from their title. If they were so great, why did they cheat?

I don’t see any such issues with the Dodgers in 2020. They were clearly the best team, and did it the right way, since after Game 2 against the Padres in the NLDS. They have young pitching & players, so they’ll probably be back. The Rays went as far as they could go on a payroll of $58.3M. You need MUCH more to win it all in this era. Maybe Cash should have stayed with Snell a bit longer, but it felt inevitable that the final outcome would have been the same.

The Tommy Pham-Jake Cronenworth deal to the Padres for Hunter Renfroe was mandated last winter by ownership to stay under $60M in team payroll for 2020. It was a cheap-ass move, and it finally caught up with the Rays in the World Series. They couldn’t score runs, and were always a bat or two short against the Dodgers. Andrew Friedman won this World Series when he acquired Mookie Betts, David Price & Brustar Graterol in the off-season.

Game 4 of the 2020 World Series had the most unbelievable & exciting finish in baseball history. Francisco Cabrera in 1992, pinch-hitting for the Atlanta Braves in Game 7 of the NLCS is the only thing close, and it wasn’t as amazing as this. Here’s that heart-stopping baseball moment, with the classic call by Sean McDonough.

To be able to quickly & precisely analyze the action, here are a few of my MLB viewing secrets. First, I mute the Fox broadcast because everyone sucks except John Smoltz, and even he was overwhelmed at the end of Game 4. I had the sound on for that, but 95% of the time I’m watching, it’s muted. This takes Joe Buck out-of-play, which always helps, and I’m especially grateful when I see ‘Ken Rosenthal reporting’ on the silent screen.

Secondly, I don’t watch a lot of the game anymore. I have alternate channels for commercial breaks, and often I’ll stick with that instead of going back to the game. I don’t want to watch the Dodgers pile on runs early, I’ve seen enough of that as a Padres fan, so for Game 4 I watched Bullitt (1968), and made the game my alternate channel during commercials. Great movie.

I prefer to have two alternate channels, in case of overlapping commercial breaks. A classic Columbo episode I hadn’t seen before helped during Game 4. If I miss something important in the middle, I can review the highlights & boxscore on the internet. With these tools at my fingertips, the game isn’t such an exhausting & emotional roller coaster. I’m relaxed & in-tune at the end when it’s all the drama, and all the chips are on the table. All this helps a sports blogger comment intelligently on the action. I don’t have the advantage of access, like so many of these flunkies I’ve mentioned, so I have to be A LOT better than them to have an impact.

I thought Dave Roberts managed his bullpen poorly at times, making this series longer that it should have gone. If Brustar Graterol starts the 9th in Game 4, he has to face at least two batters. Having Kenley Jansen ready if Graterol faltered, was the winning manager move for Dave Roberts in Game 4. The Padres had rocked Jansen a few times earlier in the season, and Roberts knew he was shaky. That was a high-leverage situation in which the manager MUST go with his best pitcher. Graterol is the Dodgers’ best reliever, and he had 0.1 IP in Game 4, on 7 pitches.

Rays manager Kevin Cash doesn’t make these types of mistakes because he’s not tied to a high-$$ closer, or sentimental about ‘his guys’ to a point where it clouds his judgment. Cash is perhaps too analytical, and not trusting enough of his guys. Both extremes can get your team beat, and it’s a razor’s edge. Instead of the Dodgers taking a 3-1 lead, and the Series basically over, they put themselves in a dogfight after they gave it away in the 9th.

The final losing nuance was that Kenley Jansen didn’t back-up home plate on the GW play, which makes him fortunate he doesn’t close for the Yankees. West Coast media is far more relaxed & understanding. When you do that for Steinbrenner, he goes directly to the NY media, “If that fat toad can’t get off the mound and back-up home plate, then blah, blah, blah… rant, rant, rant…” In contrast, Dave Roberts quietly never went to Jansen again in the Series, and that was that.

The Rays had a chance after winning that wild & amazing Game 4, but when Manny Margot got nailed trying to steal home in the 4th inning of Game 5, that turned the Series back to the Dodgers. It was a bad play, so don’t believe any of the media hype that excused it as a good attempt. Runners at 1st & 3rd, 2 out, Rays down 4-2, with Kevin Kiermaier at the plate against Kershaw. The upside if Margot makes it is the Rays are still down a run.

It’s the runner on 1st, and potential run at the plate that mattered more in terms of winning the game. Kiermaier is the heart & soul of the Rays, so what Margot is saying is that he doesn’t trust their team leader to do the job. If Margot stays put and Kiermaier homers, it’s 5-4 Rays.

The Rays were REALLY upset with Margot over this, and that’s why he had to say to the media it was 100% his decision. It hurt the team’s chances immeasurably. When it happened, I said to myself, “That’s why AJ Preller traded him. He’s got tools, but comes up short against the Dodgers. Stupid & selfish play.” The Rays committed zero fielding errors in 6 WS games, but that base running error was more than they could afford.

I snoozed on Game 5 shortly after Manny Margot got thrown out trying to steal home. The Dodgers were making the plays & getting all the calls, so I didn’t think the Rays had a chance. The home plate umpire was very generous with Clayton Kershaw’s strike zone as compared to Rays pitcher Tyler Glasnow.

I thought Corey Seager was out at second base on his 1st-inning stolen base attempt, even though replay upheld the safe call. That gave the Dodgers what they needed to win easily. East coast bias works against the Rays because Yankees & Red Sox staffers in the league office (& replay booth) despise them much more than the Dodgers.

It’s just as important to know when to give up, as it is to know when to pay attention. This video above at 2:04-05 shows Seager is tagged by Willy Adames just before he reaches second base, which means he’s out. Replay is there is correct that, but instead it upholds an incorrect call– because of human bias.

My alternate channels weren’t so great for Game 5, which was another reason I snoozed. Classic Columbo, ruined by that annoying dopey side-kick jerk Dennis Dugan, who got that part on every great 1970’s TV series– from The Rockford Files to any action show. He married Joyce Van Patten, so I think that explains it. Ghost Whisperer is always muted. I don’t know any of the characters names, I just like to look at Jennifer Love Hewitt.

All this made Game 6 feel like impending doom for Rays fans. Randy Arozarena homered in the 1st to put them up 1-0, and from there they tried to hang on. Trying win 1-0 games against $200M+ payroll teams in the World Series is next-to-impossible. Even when the Rays win, it’s often not an enjoyable experience, more a combination of surprise & relief. They’re amazing to admire & learn about, but painful to root for.

The Rays are locked into their 30-year lease on the Tropicana Dome in St. Petersburg. Tampa won’t build them a new stadium, so that means in 2028 they’ll be the Charlotte Rays. It sucks being a Rays fan for so many reasons.

It was an inexcusable & irresponsible act by Dodgers 3B Justin Turner, after being pulled in the 8th inning for testing coronavirus positive, to rejoin his teammates for celebrations after the game– without a mask [!] on top of that.

Dave Roberts lowering his own mask to spit (over & over) in the Dodgers dugout wasn’t good either. The final lesson is that these athletes (for the most part) haven’t taken this pandemic seriously. They are privileged jocks, so they ignore science because know they won’t have to deal with any of the nasty consequences. I hope there is no more baseball until this pandemic is truly under control.

Ratings Review: The Los Angeles Dodgers-Tampa Bay Rays World Series TV ratings average was 32% below the previous low, which had been the Giants sweep of the Tigers in 2012. The NBA, NHL, and the rest of sports are down too. What explains this?

I watched parts of the NBA Playoffs & Finals, so I can say the basketball was as well-played as I had seen in a long, long time. LeBron James & Jimmy Butler both performed for their respective teams, and it was a good series, more competitive than most had predicted. It was the same with MLB in 2020, all the way through the World Series, the quality of the games were the best I have ever seen.

This means the problem is NOT the athletes. The problem is the COVID pandemic which has wrecked so many lives, to the point where people don’t care about sports the way they used to. The corporate messaging & political virtue-signaling are HUGE turn-offs too. Whenever you read a mainstream article on the internet about the ratings being down for sports, they never tell you why, because they can’t admit they are the problem. One final fact, no one has lower ratings than Trump.

Since it’s so close to the election, I’ll shift towards politics for the conclusion. If you’ve voted, or are planning to vote for Biden because you hate Trump, then you’re wasting your vote. Biden & Trump are the same. They are rich, who represent the rich, and despise all those who work for a living. I’ve read more than a few partisan supporters (on both sides) framing this political position as that of a ‘Russian communist,’ who wants to destroy the American way of life.

That’s nonsense. I’m a baseball fan, as I have proven here, and there is nothing more American than baseball. The truth is capitalism is dead, and we need a revolution. This is a war they started, which revolutionary socialists are going to finish. Read the WSWS, and support them. That my political line.

This Conway/Underwood banner above is what Election 2020 is about to become, a real-life nightmare installment of Netflix’s original series House of Cards. We need a massive intervention of international youth & the working class. The Socialist Equality Party (SEP) attacks both Democrats & Republicans as fascists, which is correct. The SEP are the only ones who tell people the truth.

The Socialist Equality Party, which has sections around the world, traces their roots to the founding of the Fourth International in Paris in 1938 by Trotsky, two years before he was murdered by an agent of Stalin in Coyocan, Mexico. Troskyists are historical materialists, and insistent there is objective truth.

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