We Made It

Whew. Big sigh of relief. I can easily recall the worry from this summer when Major League Baseball announced it was going to go with a short 60 game season. A good number of people were in a tizzy, wondering how they could do anything in the middle of a pandemic. Wasn’t everyone going to get sick and die? One has to wonder how those people manage to get out of bed in the morning…. It turned out that MLB’s protocols for a very large part worked. There were a few “outbreaks”, but those seemed to have been entirely the result of players and staff violating the protocols. And, thankfully, there were no serious cases.

The season was one big experiment with rules designed to speed up the games given the limited time available before the playoffs. Hopefully the only new rule that will be kept is the DH in the National League. It’s coming eventually; one might as well get used to it. But seven inning doubleheaders and that “runner on base in extra innings” had better be dumped into the trash bin.

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The 2020 Pennant Races

There are just about three weeks left in the baseball season, but for obvious reasons, it doesn’t feel like we’re in the heart of a pennant race. Everything this season has been weird – but at least we’re getting something. With eight teams in each league getting to the playoffs, all you need is a winning record to have a chance. Heck, it’s even possible that a team with a losing record could sneak in. The teams that miss out can grumble over the winter that sixty games wasn’t a true test of their abilities – heck, there’s going to be a ton of thought (with very good reason) that this entire season shouldn’t count….much.

The playoffs are going to be strange, to put it mildly. To reduce travel and COVID exposure, there is a great deal of talk about doing them in a “bubble”. Places where a couple of Major League stadia are within a short bus ride of each other are under consideration. That means Los Angeles – Anaheim – San Diego, Chicago – Milwaukee, New York City, and DC – Baltimore – Philadelphia. One must also take weather into account; baseball cannot afford postponements. That means Southern California, which will be great for the Dodgers and Padres….

As long as MLB treats this as a one-off format due to the exceptional circumstances and doesn’t try and make it the normal thing from now on…. Same with the seven inning doubleheaders and runners on second in extra innings.

The usual awards will be given out, but no matter how deserving the recipients might be, there’s still going to be the “short season stigma” associated with them. Hopefully, we’ll get over that. The awards will probably go to whoever produces the most in what’s left of the season. “Recency bias” does play a natural part, but there’s also the possibility for one bad outing or a brief slump to mean the difference in a close “race” (e.g. the NL Cy Young, where the difference between Yu Darvish and Jacob deGrom currently comes down to one “quality start”).

As of 9/8

Starts

W

L

ERA

IP

Hits

ER

HR

BB

K

WHIP

Yu Darvish

8

7

1

1.44

50

36

8

3

8

63

0.88

Jacob deGrom

8

3

1

1.69

48

31

9

4

11

70

0.88

The nice surprises are that the Chicago White Sox and San Diego Padres are exceeding expectations, “arriving” in contention at least a year before anyone thought they would. I’d actually LOVE to see both the Padres and A’s in the World Series, simply because having their colorful uniforms there would be awesome!

Brown and Green! Come on!

I figure we should just continue to enjoy the games as a pleasant and welcome diversion from everything else that is going on.

Lord knows we need one.

In Case You Were Wondering

The “Roll Call” turned out to be the highlight of the 2020 Democratic National Convention. Viewers, even those who don’t intend to vote Democratic, got to see the amazing diversity and beauty of our nation (and a bit of Prague).

But who were all those people in the clips announcing the votes?

I dug up about half of them before I thought of going to the DNC’s own website, where they had a nice convenient list.

Sigh.

Anyway, if you’re interested…..(my comments included)

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The Hiroshima Decision

Every August, you start seeing essays from professional and amateur journalists on the usage of the atomic bombs to end WWII. This month marks the 75th anniversary of that occasion, so you know there are going to be plenty more. And if this year is like all others, some of those essays will contain (or will have comments that contain) much wailing and gnashing of teeth about how we didn’t have to drop the bombs.

At least some of their reasoning involves post facto arguments, in that they use information that wasn’t available at the time. Or they rehash old, tired arguments that have been acknowledged and dismissed with justification.

What if we went back to the summer of 1945, and looked at the matter using only that information which was available at the time?

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Site Maintenance – 1

Just a little note to announce there’s a new “page” tab thing up at the top: a quick index for all my book reviews posted here. There are more than I thought I had! I wonder if I should bother adding a note or symbol to indicate the general category of the books: Baseball, History, Science, Science Fiction…. Perhaps later….

BOOK REVIEW: Danubia

Danubia: A Personal History of Habsburg Europe
Simon Winder
Farrar, Straus, and Giroux
Copyright 2013 by the author

Like his earlier Germania, this is not your typical political or military history of a nation. Nor is it a religious or cultural history – even though Winder does discuss those subjects. It’s not even a “People’s History” of the sort that Howard Zinn might have written. Instead, it’s what you might get if a good friend of yours spent months traveling across a large part of Europe, visiting a bunch of odd and out-of-the way sites of historical interest, then decided to weave all the stories of his visits into one fun and interesting narrative.

Winder lets you know almost from the start that the tale is going to be gloomier than the one in Germania, his history of Germany. Here, with the Habsburg Empire (to be later known as the Austrian Empire and then the Austro-Hunugarian Empire), the story is one of a long, slow decline with very few moments of glory. The inbreeding of the royal line had a good deal to do with that; the most noticeable result was the infamous “Habsburg Chin” defect. His ever-present wit and occasional light snark cannot fully hide that. You can only adjust a portrait of the Emperor so much before it loses all resemblance….

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More Birdwatching Notes

Way back when I was first starting this blog, one of my posts was an essay about birdwatching from my living room window. I still live in the same place, and although the apartment complex management cut down some of the trees (the ones just outside the window, naturally) and installed some new LED floodlights for the parking area (which are SO BRIGHT I need an eyemask to sleep), there are still plenty of birds to see.

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Life under COVID-19

Things are very strange…. Well, I can’t come up with a proper word to describe it. But I doubt anyone can. We are living in Interesting Times, as the Chinese curse has it. Personally, I’m doing OK. I work for the county government, so I’m an “essential employee” in one aspect, and even though I only go into the office once or twice a week (there’s a lot of mail that still needs to be dealt with), my union is making sure I get paid. The days I’m not in the office, I’m “working from home” for payroll purposes.

I have been unemployed for some long periods before, so I’m used to doing very little. Unlike those times when I could go places and do things but I didn’t have the money, now I have the money, but there’s no place to go. I walk around the neighborhood a lot and visit the nature centers in my area for a hike when the weather cooperates. Have to get exercise somehow.

Keeping a routine is worthwhile. A bit of reading and housework in the morning, goofing off on the computer in the afternoon, a break for more reading and a walk before dinner, then more computer at night. One needs to keep a sound mind in a sound body. I feel a bit disappointed in myself that I’m not really using the time for self-betterment.

Shopping is odd. I live within a few minutes walk of two supermarkets, so there’s no reason to not pop over to one when I need something. I’ve got my mask (a bandana-type one that I hacked out of an old bedsheet), and I’m paying attention to the Six Foot Rule of Social Distancing. The real odd feeling is the internal debate I occasionally have. “Hmm. I know I’m running low on bar soap. Should I get the only package on the shelves – of a brand that I never get because it’s so darned expensive compared to other brands – or wait and hope another shipment comes in before I run out completely?”

I really wish a few other stores would open up, though. A hike through the woods is great, but my hiking boots (well, the right one at any rate) are coming apart. The upper is separating from the sole, so I dare not go out when the ground is muddy or soft. I’ve tried glue, but it doesn’t last. I do know that it’s possible to but things online, but my feet are of an odd size. I have to actually try on a pair of shoes before I buy them (the last time I got new shoes, I had to try on three pairs – all labeled with the same size – before finding a pair that fit).

Free e-books from The Gutenberg Project and Feedbooks are nice. Though I do wish there was an easy way to tell the length of an e-book. It’s annoying to curl up with my reader and settle in for a novel – only to find out it’s really a short story. Maybe I’m just not looking closely enough at the descriptions.

I have a few little panic attacks. “Uh-oh! I’m feeling hot and sweaty all of a sudden! Am I coming down with it?” Then I remember that I just had some hot soup….so….. Yeah, I’m going to be sweating a little. Let’s hope that’s all it is.

I wonder how much I’m racking up in overdue fines from library books that were supposed to have been returned six weeks ago.

Analyzing my Writing

My usual subjects are in short supply these days. The libraries are closed, so I can’t get any new books. Baseball is shut down, so there’s nothing there to talk about. Politics is too depressing.

What’s this blogger to do?

A while back I started wondering about my style of writing. Am I too wordy, too complex, or too simple? I found that there are a bunch of “text analyzer tools” out there online, so I figured I’d run a few posts through one of those and see what came out.

Yes, I’m bored.

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