January 26, 2019

Red Sox Postpone White House Visit Until May 9

Update: As noted in comments, Mookie Betts and Rafael Devers will not go to the White House. (Betts: "I decided not to." Devers: "I just wasn't compelled to go.")
The Red Sox have rescheduled their appearance at the White House to Thursday, May 9.

The team decided not to visit the capital during the ongoing government shutdown, opting instead for an off-day after a three-game series in Baltimore.

ESPN noted that "Red Sox president Sam Kennedy said last weekend that it would not be appropriate to celebrate while 800,000 federal employees were not getting paychecks".

I think it would be not be appropriate to celebrate . . . and be honored by people willfully committing inhumane and criminal atrocities around the globe, people gleefully working as hard as they can to ruin as many Americans' lives as possible . . . even if federal employees are getting paychecks - but maybe that's just me.

January 22, 2019

Mariano Rivera Is The First Unanimous Hall Of Fame Inductee

Mariano Rivera, Roy Halladay, Edgar Martinez, and Mike Mussina were elected to the Hall of Fame on Tuesday.

Rivera was named on all 425 submitted ballots – the first unanimous inductee in the game's history.

To argue that Fruitbat is not a first-ballot Hall of Famer is delusional – he is 5th all-time in Win Probability Added (WPA) for pitchers and has the 3rd-lowest WHIP of all-time* – but it is also beyond ludicrous that no player in the previous 74 elections since 1936 had received 100% of the votes cast. (We will now likely see more unanimous selections in the future.)

*: The two guys above him ended their careers in 1910 and 1917, respectively.

Some of the game's greatest players and their induction year vote totals.
Babe Ruth, 1936:          95.1% (not on 11 of 226 ballots)
Ty Cobb, 1936:            98.2% (not on  4 of 226 ballots)
Walter Johnson, 1936:     83.6% (not on 37 of 226 ballots)
Joe DiMaggio, 1955:       88.8% (not on 28 of 251 ballots; his fourth year on the ballot)
Ted Williams, 1966:       93.4% (not on 20 of 302 ballots)
Stan Musial, 1969:        93.2% (not on 23 of 340 ballots)
Willie Mays, 1979:        94.7% (not on 23 of 432 ballots)
Bob Gibson, 1981:         84.0% (not on 64 of 401 ballots)
Hank Aaron, 1982:         97.8% (not on  9 of 415 ballots)
Rickey Henderson, 2009:   94.8% (not on 28 of 539 ballots)
Greg Maddux, 2014:        97.2% (not on 16 of 571 ballots)
Pedro Martinez, 2015:     91.1% (not on 59 of 549 ballots)
Hall of Famers With 95+% Of Votes
Mariano Rivera, 2019:     100.0%
Ken Griffey Jr., 2016:     99.3%
Tom Seaver, 1992:          98.8%
Nolan Ryan, 1999:          98.8%
Cal Ripken Jr., 2007:      98.5%
Ty Cobb, 1936:             98.2%
George Brett, 1999:        98.2%
Hank Aaron, 1982:          97.8%
Tony Gwynn, 2007:          97.6%
Randy Johnson, 2015:       97.3%
Greg Maddux, 2014:         97.2%
Chipper Jones, 2018:       97.2%
Mike Schmidt, 1995:        96.5%
Johnny Bench, 1989:        96.4%
Steve Carlton, 1994:       95.8%
Babe Ruth, 1936:           95.1%
Honus Wagner, 1936:        95.1%

Silver Lining: The first unanimous Hall of Fame selection will not be Derek Jeter.

January 18, 2019

Alex Cora: "If You Guys Thought Last Year Was Special, Wait Till This Year"

Alex Cora, after accepting the Manager of the Year award from the Boston chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America last night:
If you guys thought last year was special, wait till this year.
As Alex Speier of the Globe writes:
And with that, the ballroom at the InterContinental Hotel erupted. ... Cora waved off the notion of complacency or satisfaction for a team that soon will be confronted by a million questions about World Series hangovers and motivations. ...

[Cora] will not be wedded to what worked so well in 2018 if he believes there is a way of improving on it in 2019.

On Thursday night, Cora outlined the ways that he believed the Red Sox were capable of being better: Full seasons from Nathan Eovaldi, Steve Pearce, and Ryan Brasier. The "eye-opening" performance of Jackie Bradley Jr. during the second half of last year sustained over the entirety of a season. Continued progress from Rafael Devers, Benintendi, even Xander Bogaerts. ...

By the winter meetings in December, he had charted the rotation through the entire first half. Cora is not merely inching forward from 2018; he's sprinting into what lies ahead.
Cora also said he is reconsidering his decision to visit the White House next month. "Right now I can say yes. It might change tomorrow. ... You read what's going on back home. It's not easy."

Last week, the Washington Post reported that the Trump regime has attempted to block disaster-recovery funds for Puerto Rico - and discussed diverting that federal money to fund the proposed wall* along the Mexican border.

* Note: It turns out that the entire idea of a border wall was a joke/gimmick cooked up by two political advisers looking for a way to get Trump to talk about immigration. Trump got cheers, so he kept mentioning it - not realizing it was only "a mnemonic device of sorts".

January 15, 2019

Will Red Sox Eat Cold "Hamberders" At White House On February 15?

The Red Sox - winners of the 2018 World Series - will visit the White House on Friday, February 15.

The one sure thing about this visit is that Mookie Betts, David Price, Alex Cora, and everyone else associated with the Red Sox (including those from various "shithole" countries) will be shunted to the side as mere bit players to the event's Most Indispensible Person: Donald Trump. His pathological need to be the center of attention means that every event he attends must be all about him.

As I noted last month, I am absolutely against this bizarre practice of having the conquering heroes brought before the king and feted at the castle. I do hope, however, that the Red Sox are provided with a lunch a few steps above what the Clemson Tigers - national college football champs - were forced to choke down on Tuesday.

As Rachel Leah of Salon reports:
Boxes of McDonald's Big Macs and Filet-O-Fish, along with burgers from Wendy's and Burger King, stacked on silver trays, alongside fast food salads and a bounty of McNuggets. Fries and Domino's pizzas provided variety. Handfuls of sauce tubs piled inside grand gravy boats; the room's dim lighting aided by candlelight from gold candelabras. ... Trump, in his uniform of an ill-fitting coat ... grinned at the fast food feast before him as he told reporters that it was a spread of "great American food." ...

Adam Serwer from the Atlantic tweeted, "there’s a certain cleverness to the fast food ... at the White House as a metaphor for Trump presidency as false advertising and underwhelming results."

Championship athletes are usually served a meal from the White House kitchen, but due to the government shutdown, Trump decided to go in a different direction. ...

"If it's American, I like it. It's all American stuff," Trump told reporters, as if the fast food needed clarification on its origins. "300 hamburgers, many, many french fries — all of our favorite foods." [In a tweet early the next morning, Trump would lie and claim there were 1,000 burgers.]

"I thought this was a joke," one athlete can be heard saying in a video from the dinner. ...

To be clear, there is nothing inherently wrong with fast food, but anyone who indulges knows there is a hierarchy, and McDonald's sits squarely at the bottom. ... [L]eave it to Trump to have even abysmal taste in fast food. ...

[T]he president boasted of the value meal dinner as a success on Twitter, inflating the amount of food and even initially misspelling hamburgers as "hamberders." He also repeatedly emphasized that he paid for the meal, out of his own self-professed billion-dollar pocket. ...

Trump's banquet serving his own drive-thru favorites only further proved his unmatched ability to center himself regardless of the occasion.

Helen Rosner, The New Yorker:
[S]erving a meal of fast food at a fancy gathering is not inherently a bad idea. ... No less glittery an event than the Vanity Fair Oscar party has served In-N-Out burgers to its throngs of the gorgeous and powerful. ... [But] if you hire In-N-Out and Shake Shack to do the catering at your event, they show up in person and sling their burgers fresh.

Trump's bulk order, on the other hand, was a dinner fighting against the odds. One imagines those poor sandwiches steaming limply inside their cardboard boxes on the drive to the White House, and during the fuss over arranging them on their silver platters ... and properly lighting the gilded candelabra. Then came the photo shoot: Trump, centered beneath a portrait of Abraham Lincoln, flinging his arms out behind this table of quick-serve abundance, in a gesture that's equal parts ownership and invitation. There is a particular awfulness to McDonald's or Burger King once it's gone cold. By the time America's greatest collegiate football players arrived ... to pick up porcelain plates and work their way through this cardboard buffet, the French fries would have grown cold and mealy, the burger buns soggy, the precise half slice of American cheese on each Filet-o-Fish sandwich hardened to a tough, flavorless rectangle of yellow.

Trump, in typical form, spun Monday's catering as ultimately the fault of his political opponents ... Trump, a purported billionaire, made a big deal out of the fact that he paid for the fast food out of his own pocket. ... "We went out and we ordered American fast food, paid for by me," Trump boasted to the reporters gathered before the fast-food spread, grinning his fast-food grin ... "Lots of hamburgers, lots of pizza. Three hundred hamburgers. Many, many French fries."
Before the event, Trump told reporters that the meal was for "very large people that like eating."

January 5, 2019

Happy New Year

A belated Happy New Year for 2019!