The Other Hall of Famers

With the announcement of this year’s Baseball Hall of Fame inductees less than two weeks away, the discussion in the various media has switched from “Who should get inducted” to “Who will (probably) get inducted”. So we’re not seeing much more in the way of JAWS scores or career Wins Above Replacement anymore.

But there are entire groups of people who don’t have any of those numbers who still deserve to belong in any Baseball Hall of Fame you could create. Just because they never played the game shouldn’t disqualify them. There are plenty of non-players who are already enshrined.

So, as an exercise to my handful of readers, if you were starting with a clean slate, which people who never wore a uniform would you have in your Hall of Fame?

Continue reading

Advertisements

2017 in Review

So, what is there to say about my fourth year of blogging?

I count 54 posts. Less than previous years, but still pretty good.

There were a total of 1,383 page views from 652 visitors (and 25 “Likes”). 239 of those views came in November, which set a record for most in a month. You know, I have to wonder – do my own page views count in that total?

The Top Ten Most Viewed Posts in 2017:

10. A Walking Tour of Lower Manhattan

Pay attention to where you are putting your feet. See those long strips with names and dates on them? You are in the Canyon of Heroes, the route taken by New York City’s ticker tape parades. Each strip marks a parade, and there’s some on each side of the street.

9. A Chinese Ghost Story (movie review)

Usually, when someone tells you a movie “has everything”, they are either lying or the movie tries to “have everything”, but it fails utterly at putting them together in a rational and balanced manner. A Chinese Ghost Story (literally: “The Ethereal Spirit of a Beauty“) has romance, action, horror, and comedy – and actually does integrate all of them successfully.

8. On the Electoral College – Part 2

There are two things to keep in mind when contemplating a reform of the system. First, changing it would require a Constitutional Amendment. You’re just not going to get enough small states (the ones that benefit from the current system) to go along and voluntarily give up influence.

Secondly, though, nowhere in the Constitution does it say how a state must choose its electors. So if one wants to try to reform the Electoral College, the way to do it is in the selection process in the individual states.

7. On Confederate Memorials

NOTE: No matter how much you may want to take it down yourself, leave that to the professionals. Vandalism is never to be condoned. If you absolutely cannot leave the statue alone, try something non-damaging. Stick a white “surrender” flag in its hand. Hang a sign saying “I’m a Loser” on it. Be creative! Just don’t damage it.

6. Russian Ark (movie review)

As I was watching the credits scroll by, I couldn’t help but notice that there were dozens upon dozens of gaffers listed. Gaffers are the electrical and lighting technicians, and they had a hell of a job to do here. Not only do you have to have all your lighting equipment set up in each and every room, you have to place it where it gives the required lighting without being seen as the camera moves and turns! Nor can you let a single foot of cable be seen!

5. Indiana Jones and the “Top Men”

Sorry, Dr. Jones, but I’ve got to side with the government on this one. The Ark is too dangerous to be kept out in the open. Better to stash it away in a secure warehouse somewhere. Then, if you absolutely need to, you can get it – but no one else can.

4. A Trip to Philadelphia – Part 2

The big one, the “keystone” if you will of the Parkway’s “Museum Row”, is the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Thanks to Sylvester Stallone, you’ll likely see several people doing a workout as they run up the steps like Rocky. There’s even a statue of Stallone as Rocky in a nice shaded grove off to the side at the bottom of the steps (Nothing about Chuck Wepner as far as I could tell). Be ready to wait in line if you want to take a photo with it.

3. The Hall of Fame and the Keltner List

The Keltner List was developed by Bill James (who, by the way, *needs* to be in the Hall of Fame himself) in 1985…. The fifteen questions on the list are intended to help people better evaluate players in a consistent and relatively unbiased manner. But as James himself said, “You can’t total up the score and say that everybody who is at eight or above should be in, or anything like that.” Which, I might add, should also apply to all those other supposedly objective methods like JAWS.

Anyway, let’s take a look at the questions. And for fun, let’s apply them to a couple of players on the ballot this year: Jim Thome, Mike Mussina, and from the Veterans Committee, Jack Morris.

2. A Trip to Philadelphia – Part 1

However, I decided to avoid the obvious. I deliberately avoided Independence Hall and the national icon of the Liberty Bell. I’d visited them on a family trip in my childhood. Instead, I went to museums in that neighborhood that hadn’t existed back then.

1. Expanding Major League Baseball – Part 2

So with Portland and Montreal as our two choices for expansion, now it’s time to decide which one goes in the American League and which one goes in the National League, and then set up our four divisions per league. And work on scheduling…..

(The ones in bold were posted in 2017)

I have no idea why my review for “A Chinese Ghost Story still gets so many views. Or my tales of visiting museums in Philadelphia. I suspect that my post on the Keltner list did so well because just after I posted it, I was able to link to it in a comment on a post in another blog about the Baseball Hall of Fame voting. Timing was everything!

As far as the post on expanding major league baseball, I would like to think it’s because in that post, I discussed what the divisions and schedules might look like with sixteen teams in each league. That’s something that rarely gets discussed when people talk about expansion.

After the US, the countries that got me the most visitors were:

Canada – 101
China – 49
United Kingdom – 32
Germany – 21
Australia – 14
Netherlands – 10

So many Brazilians stopped by in 2016 – in 2017 I only got one visitor from there. Maybe it was because the Olympics were over….

Hey, and could you “Like” a couple of posts? Those are candy to my ego….. Thanks!

Yet Another Holiday Message from Our Sponsor

For some reason, this doesn’t come up on the lists of “Best Holiday Commercials”, though the knock-off one by Budweiser with their Clydesdales does. It’s got great simplicity, great visuals, great music, and it isn’t trying to sell you anything. It’s just a one-minute long Christmas card from the Miller Brewing Co. to everyone:

I don’t watch much TV these days, so I haven’t really noticed what’s current in holiday TV ads. But there’s one sort that really gets my goat – those car ads where the husband buys a new car for his wife. The ones where the car has the big ribbon and bow on it.

I know that we shouldn’t expect TV World to be an accurate reflection of reality – but who does this? Who buys a luxury car for someone as a Christmas present? Yeah, there are people who a so stinking rich that they could if they wanted to, but those aren’t the people shown in the ads.

The couples/families in the ads look to be upper middle class. The sorts of people that would not be making a major purchase – like a luxury car – without full knowledge and consultation of everyone. I can picture the wife, when the cameras stop rolling, saying, “Wait a minute. How much did you spend on this? And where did you get that kind of money? What about the monthly payments? Who’s paying the insurance on it? What made you think I would want to have this exact car?” And then snowballs (because it’s always a snowy scene in these ads) and worse being thrown about in anger.

Then there’s the subtle sexism in the ads. You never see a *wife* buying the car, do you. A lot of TV ads have what could be called “reverse sexism” in them. The husband/man tends to be shown as stupid, sloppy, forgetful, and incompetent – the wife/woman is the one who somehow fixes everything. It doesn’t tick me off that much; I figure it’s a sort of payback for all the sexism against women over the decades (or centuries). If you don’t believe that this exists, next time you see a TV ad with a husband and wife, imagine it with the roles reversed….

Anyway, enjoy your holidays. And may you get something that’s actually practical and useful – and doesn’t require any extra payments on your part.

 

On the Holiday Window Displays

Since I was in Manhattan recently, with time to kill, I took the opportunity to stroll up Fifth Avenue and check out the big holiday displays – Lord & Taylor, Saks, Tiffany, Bergdorf Goodman.

L&T had their usual fantasy scenes. I couldn’t get close enough to Saks to see what was in their windows, but they did have their big light and sound show on the facade.

Pro Tip: The best way to see the Rockefeller Center tree? Come at it from Sixth Ave, or one of the side streets. It is practically impossible to approach it from Fifth Avenue, because that’s where the mob of humanity is forced into tight passageways. Approach the tree from another direction, and you can get right up to it!

TIffany featured some nice winter scenes with silver and diamonds. Bergdorf Goodman saluted NYC cultural attractions in their windows.

While I have no problems with any of the displays, I do have some ideas for things I’d like to see…

Continue reading

A Christmas Mix for You – Vol 4

Well, it’s that time again.

I’ve kind of fallen into the common trap with these collections. You gather all your favorites, and find you have too many for one collection. So you pick a few to go in Volume 1, and then add a few that didn’t quite make the cut to the batch for next year. And then the next year, you find you’ve got only a few “favorites”, so you do your best to pad out the collection to make something worth putting together and sharing. Then, you realize you somehow forgot a few, but four or five songs do not really make a “mix tape”, so you pad it out with general stuff that you hope people like…

Well, there it is. I’ve got a few more (three or four) that I could toss out next year. Kind of like stocking stuffers when compared to the big gifts. Or I could just repost the first Mix from 2014. We’ll see what I feel like next November, when I start thinking about this.

Anyway, here’s the link:

http://www.dropbox.com/s/lcdt2075r2ln0ka/Chirstmas%20Mix%204%20-%202017.zip?dl=0

And here’s the list of songs:

Continue reading

The Hall of Fame and the Keltner List

It’s that time of year again – the Baseball Hall of Fame has released their annual ballot. Let the arguments begin!

The arguments typically involve analyzing a player’s statistics (which is NOT to be confused with statistical analysis!) and deciding who is better on some arcane and arbitrary scale.

There’s “Wins Above Replacement”, which exists in two versions. At Baseball Reference, you can look up Bill James’ “Black Ink”, “Gray Ink”, and “Hall of Fame Monitor”, which all assign points to various career accomplishments and compare them to players already in the Hall. Jay Jaffe has come up with his “JAWS” score, which is an attempt to combine everything into a single number by which one can easily judge a player’s Hall-worthiness.

(Note that JAWS and WAR are pretty much calculations in a multidimensional space – but more on that in a future post….)

These are all attempts to take something that is purely subjective – a player’s greatness – and treat it in an objective manner. But they still wind up being subjective in the way they assign weights and importance to their individual components. And what the heck is meant by a “half a win” above replacement, anyway?

I figure we should drop all the pretense of objectivity, and go with the Keltner List.

Continue reading

Do You Like Scary Movies?

It’s that time of year when film critics and fans trot out their lists of the greatest horror movies of all time. They’re usually pretty good, and one can generally predict which ones will be in the Top Ten.

Brazilian film critic and cinephile Diego Carrera approached the topic from a different perspective. Noting that from their very beginnings, movies tried to shock and startle people, he picked one important “horror” movie for every year from 1895 to 2016:

Careful viewers will note that, strictly speaking, not everything on the list qualifies as Horror. Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, for example, is a comedy. But they’ve all got their moments that are at least unsettling.

You are free to disagree with some of the movies Carrera’s included. But keep in mind, it’s based on the YEAR, and isn’t intended to be a list of the “greatest” (even though many of them would be on such a list).

So check it out, and see if there’s something there that you haven’t seen yet….and then check that out!

Rethinking Columbus

You may recall that a month or so ago, there was a bit of a hubbub in the papers about people wanting to take down or at least relocate certain monuments to Confederate generals and leaders. Has anything come of that, by the way?

Lost even further down in the media coverage were a few proposals to remove statues and other similar proposals to sweep Christopher Columbus under the rug, as it were. I believe that the City of Los Angeles decided to change the name of “Columbus Day” to “Indigenous People’s Day”. In New York City, it was suggested that Columbus Circle be renamed, and the massive monument in the middle of the circle get put someplace where no one would be forced to look at it. A modest statue (a bust, actually) of Columbus in my area was smashed by vandals.

This is all part of an ongoing movement to discredit Columbus at best, and brand him as a genocidal maniac at worst.

Is it at all possible anymore to have a reasonable discussion about him?

Continue reading