March 31, 2020

Maybe Sometimes The Cure Really Is Worse Than The Disease

[Note: I'm going to post Covid-19 stuff solely at tested by research. I meant to do that all along, but there was one post for which I wanted a larger audience and I soon found myself posting about the same things in different posts at both blogs. That made no sense. But I may post non-baseball stuff again. For example, when Trump gets the virus or he's arrested for causing the deaths of thousands of people unfortunate enough to live in a state governed by a Democrat or if I fucking feel like it.

Before I go: The big story tonight is a White House official admitted to the Washington Post that Donald Trump is making sure "red" states like Florida get all the personal protective gear they have requested while denying essential equipment to "blue" states (like New York, which Trump has no chance of winning). There is a lot of very suspicious circumstantial evidence. Trump will probably ended up admitting to everything in the next few days, anyway. After all,
once he was acquitted in his impeachment show trial, he admitted to the entire Ukraine conspiracy.

The New York Post's front page on March 1 announced the first US death from Covid-19. On March 31, almost 200,000 Americans have been infected and more than 4,000 have died, and the normal patterns of all facets of society have been radically upended. Today, the United States set a record for the most new cases of Covid-19 by any country in a single day for the
seventh consecutive day.

Testing remains minimal. Last week, the US was doing only 65,000 tests per day. The US cannot even test everyone who is sick. At the Elmhurst Hospital Center in Queens (Trump was recently rambling about what colour the paint on the walls was), some sick people have waited from 6 AM to 5 PM and gone home without being tested.)

This is the reality:

The federal response to this global pandemic has been completely based on the needs of Donald Trump's re-election campaign.]

Trump Warns TV Stations They Could Lose Licenses For Broadcasting An Ad Criticizing Him

I'm amazed that I can still be amazed. Every day, he sinks lower and lower. There is no bottom.

Todd Shields, Jennifer Epstein, and Mario Parker, Bloomberg News, March 31, 2020:
Trump Campaign's Threat on TV Licenses May Be Mostly Bluster

The Trump re-election campaign told TV stations they could lose their operating licenses for airing an ad criticizing the president's actions in the coronavirus crisis -- a challenge that may be more bluster than actual threat.

President Donald Trump's campaign, in a letter on Wednesday, told stations in five battleground states to stop showing the ad from Priorities USA, a political action committee that supports Democratic candidate Joe Biden. Failure to remove the ad "could put your station's license in jeopardy" before the Federal Communications Commission, the campaign said in the letter. "Your station has an obligation to cease and desist from airing it immediately to comply with FCC licensing requirements."

Trump has an antagonistic relation with much of the media, which he accuses of issuing what he calls "fake news." But the president has been accused by some news outlets of making misleading statements and telling lies, including regarding the coronavirus. Trump has threatened retaliation before, including musing about challenging NBC's license in a 2017 tweet -- even though licenses are generally held by stations, not networks. ...

The FCC doesn't appear to have grounds to act against the stations for airing contentious ads, said Jack Goodman, a Washington broadcast attorney, said in an interview. The ad "is core political speech" protected by First Amendment guarantees of free speech, Goodman said. "This is the sort of letter that stations get in political years, day in and day out," Goodman said. "It's intended to intimidate." ...

The ad from Priorities USA shows U.S. coronavirus cases growing from Jan. 20 to March 22 while featuring audio of Trump downplaying the threat during that time. ... Priorities USA responded to the Trump team's "intimidation effort" by announcing Thursday that it would keep running the ad and also begin airing it in Arizona, where the group said it plans to spend $600,000 over the next few weeks. "Trump's super-PAC and now Trump's campaign are resorting to desperate threats to keep Americans from hearing the truth," said Patrick McHugh, the executive director of Priorities. "Priorities USA will continue ensuring voters hear the truth." ...

Gene Policinski, senior fellow for the First Amendment at the Freedom Forum Institute, said previous administrations may have spoken privately about challenging licenses, but Trump was unusual for saying it out loud. "This goes back to Nixon in the '60s, talking about revoking stations critical to his administration," Policinski said. In 1972, President Richard Nixon urged his lieutenants to interfere with the renewal of the Washington Post's licenses for Florida TV stations.

March 30, 2020

0 Cases Or 200,000 Deaths ... Either Way, We've Done "A Very Good Job"

February 26, 2020:
When you have 15 people, and the 15 [cases] within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero, that's a pretty good job we've done.
March 29, 2020:
If we can hold [the number of deaths] down [to] between 100,000 and 200,000 — we all, together, have done a very good job.
This is Trump's new strategy:
Aaron Rupar, Vox:
Trump today repeatedly brought up the model indicating up to 2.2 million Americans would die if no measures were taken to slow coronavirus. People really need to process that he will tout any death toll below that figure - even if it's over a million - as evidence he saved lives.
You know that it's true.

Michael Chavis Doubles In His First MLB At-Bat. Standing On Second, He Thinks: "Don't Cry"

[Draft Post, April 27, 2019]

Michael Chavis made his major league debut on April 20, pinch-hitting and hitting a double. Last Tuesday, he spoke with David Laurila of Baseball Prospectus at Fenway Park:
I wasn't in the lineup — I was on the bench — but I knew the situation. They'd said there was a chance I would get to hit that day. Of course, I didn't know when, who for, or who would be pitching. Come the eighth inning ... I'm taking some swings in the cage, and they come in and say, "Hey, you're going to pinch hit in the ninth." ... "OK. Beautiful." ...
I looked at a little bit of video [on Alvarado] to get a scouting report on what he might do. There wasn't a whole lot of time, and the biggest thing was getting my swing ready, so it was quick. I mostly just wanted to see his motion. That, and the action of his fastball.

The nerves didn't really hit me until I got on deck. ... Walking up to the plate, I heard them announce, "Making his major league debut..." ... I almost cried in the batter's box. It's something I'd dreamed about, many times, as a kid. ... I would pretend that I was playing for the Red Sox, facing a closer, and I'd get a big hit. ...

Alvarado bounced a slider on the 1-2, and then I got a fastball down and in. That's the one I hit for a double. I hit it to pretty much straightaway center, and it went over Kiermaier's head. When you square up a ball like that you don't really even feel it. But I heard it. I knew what was happening.

Kiermaier is a platinum glover, so I'm praying that he doesn't catch it. ... I'm just glad it got over his head. ...

What was I thinking [standing on second base]? "Don't cry. Act like you've been here before." That’s pretty much it, honestly. ... I could hear my mom. I knew where they were sitting, so I could see them ... I'm sure my mom was crying. Without a doubt. She's a big crier. ...

I went out with my family afterwards. ... There was a TV. It was the first time I'd seen myself on TV — they were showing highlights from the game. It was weird. There I was, watching myself on TV, and they're talking about me and the Boston Red Sox. I'm part of this team now. Unreal.
[Draft Post, April 24, 2019]

James Parker of The Atlantic, on "The Lost Art of Deadline Writing":
[A] print deadline—the galloping clock, the smell of the editor—is a particular concentration of mortal tension. The brain on deadline does whatever it can: It improvises, it compresses, it contrives, it uses the language and the ideas that are at hand. Inspiration comes or it doesn't. Here the writer is an athlete—performing under pressure and, if he or she is good, delivering on demand.
Chris Landers, Cut4, September 3, 2018:
Joey Votto was just warming up like usual prior to Monday's matchup with the Pirates when he caught something interesting out of the corner of his eye: a Reds fan, sitting down the first-base line, who just so happened to be wearing a T-shirt that read "Votto for President."

After some inspection, Votto decided that, yes, he would like to own a T-shirt that says he should be elected president. And, being Joey Votto, he had plenty to offer the fan in return -- like, for example, the jersey off of his back

Of course, Votto hails from Canada, a country that has a prime minister rather than a president. Still, that's just a technicality ...
Scott Stossel believes that "Winning [Has] Ruined Boston Sports Fandom".
Before the fall of 2004, wearing a Boston Red Sox hat outside of New England elicited the sort of sympathy or solicitude more commonly extended to a lost child or a wounded fawn. Red Sox fans were objects of pity. To the extent we attracted admiration, it was for our dedication to suffering.

Wearing a Red Sox hat outside of New England today elicits looks of resentment or hostility, as if for a John Hughes villain or a hedge-fund plutocrat. Red Sox fans are objects of contumely. To the extent we attract admiration, it's for ... Well, we don't attract admiration anymore, actually—only envy, at best.
Stossel has been shoveling this horseshit since 2005.
In August of 2005 ... I wrote in an essay for The Boston Globe that something had been lost when the Red Sox traded in their years of accursed failure for a championship. To this day, nothing I've ever written has attracted so much invective—a testament to the snarling intensity of Boston fandom, or perhaps just to the depth of my obtuseness.

"Before 2004," I wrote then, "the basic Red Sox mode was that of tragedy," and then I quoted an essay from the Catholic journal Commonweal. "The Sox remind us that life is a trial; that it raises hopes to crush them cruelly; that it ends badly … A Red Sox fan is an Irishman, an Armenian, reciting ancient hurts by ancient enemies … By now Red Sox suffering surpasses an individual human life span. It is a cathedral of loss and pain. It is holy." But, I asked, "if this suffering no longer surpasses a human life span—if it is no longer suffering—is it any longer holy?" And I wondered further whether, now that we'd finally won a World Series—and then if we started to accumulate more victories (as we since have)—the force of our yearning would be diminished. "A man's reach should exceed his grasp," as Robert Browning wrote, "Or what's a heaven for?"

I don't know whether the force of our yearning has diminished—Boston fans remain ravenous for more championships—but its quality has. We've exchanged the weight of history for the swagger of dominance; humble, sacred hope has given way to a spoiled, profane gluttony.
All I know is I would rather feel good than bad.

Almost Two Months Ago (Early February), With The US's Supply Of Emergency Equipment "Depleted", Trump Cut A Request For Emergency Mask Funds By 75%

Only one month ago (February 29), Donald Trump said:
I think it's always good to be prepared. I think it's always good. But we are super-prepared, when you hear 43 million masks, as an example.
Around that same time, the Department of Health and Human Services stated the US's supply of masks (which Trump accurately repeated!!) is only 1.2% of what would be required if the outbreak became a pandemic. The US would need 3.5 billion respirator masks over a one-year period. Less than one week later, the outbreak was designated a pandemic.

Now, having 1.2% of an essential item does not strike me as being "super-prepared". Putting it in baseball terms, let's say being "super-prepared" was the equivalent of a .350 batting average. Trump and his current mask supply would be hitting .004.

Way back on February 5, Alex Azar, the Secretary of US Health and Human Services, requested $2 billion to purchase respirator masks and other supplies to resupply "a depleted federal stockpile of emergency medical equipment". The White House, counting fewer than a dozen coronavirus cases in the US, cut Azar's request by 75%.

Trump is lying when he whines that it's not his fault that supplies are low. Besides having more than three years in office when he could have stocked up what was necessary, those federal supplies were still "depleted" last month. Trump is also lying when he says he took early action so the country was prepared. There is nothing anyone can point to in proof of his claim. Nothing.

Myriad other examples of Trump abdicating his sworn responsibility exist. We'll pick this one, from March 19: Trump said state governors "are supposed to be doing a lot of this work. ... You know, we're not a shipping clerk." (Bonus!: Trump's Sunday press conference was perhaps his worst yet, just an unmitigated shit show. His rants against the press are getting longer, more frequent, and more unhinged from reality. He is going to snap, sooner rather than later. And when it happens, it will be of a magnitude that nobody has ever seen before, nobody can even imagine. It will be tremendous, believe me.)

Kevin Donovan, president of Lakes Regional HealthCare, says there is no protective gear to be bought on the private market. And even if there was, manufacturers of masks and other supplies are demanding cash payments on delivery, which hospitals don't have because (a) the US health-care system is in tatters and (b) overrun-by-virus hospitals have canceled the elective procedures that bring in money.

Perhaps when millions of human lives are hanging in the balance during a lengthy worldwide emergency, leaving things to market forces to sort themselves out is not a smart move (unless, of course, you're motivated solely by greed and self-interest and you don't care how many corpses pile up, as long as you get paid). Unfortunately, Trump is doing exactly that right now, with his refusal to fully use the power of the Defense Production Act.

Dr. Deborah Birx is a paid-in-full, proud, card-carrying member of the Trump Cult. Only three days ago, the response coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force gushed about Orange Foolius on the Christian Broadcasting Network's Faith Nation:
He is so attentive to the scientific literature and the details and the data, and I think his ability to analyze and integrate data that comes out of his long history in business has really been a real benefit during these discussions about medical issues.
Yikes. ... If she is admitting that as many as 200,000 Americans could die, even with the current restrictive measures – and Dr. Anthony Fauci agrees with the numbers – then the future is not encouraging.

March 29, 2020

A New Book About 1918, Babe Ruth, Influenza, And The Great War

Should I be concerned that I have quoted The National Review twice in the last five weeks?

Dan McLaughlin, National Review, March 29, 2020:
Randy Roberts and Johnny Smith didn't set out to write a book about the Spanish-flu pandemic of 1918, but the outbreak looms like the ghost at the banquet over their new book War Fever: Boston, Baseball, and America in the Shadow of the Great War. A recurring storyline that runs through the book's narrative has a much more urgent feel today as America is in the grips of the worst pandemic since that terrible autumn.

War Fever looks at America in the First World War through the lens of three interwoven stories, all tied to Boston in 1918: baseball legend Babe Ruth, Boston Symphony Orchestra conductor Karl Muck, and Charles Whittlesey, the commander of the "Lost Battalion" in the Argonne Forest. ...

Babe Ruth's story is the best-known of the three, although readers who know his years as a Red Sox pitcher and Yankee slugger will be interested in a closer focus on the season when he was truly a two-way player, making the transition to the everyday lineup while remaining a key contributor on the mound. Allan Wood covered much of the same ground in his excellent 2000 book Babe Ruth and the 1918 Red Sox, but Roberts and Smith integrate Ruth's story more thoroughly into the wartime context.

"President Trump Is A Ratings Hit ... [Daily Briefings Have] Roughly The Viewership Of The Season Finale Of 'The Bachelor'. Numbers Are Continuing To Rise ... Audience Is Expanding ... Astounding" ... As Trump Writes, Tweets This Important News, Covid-19 Cases In The US Have Exceeded 135,000, With 2,400+ Deaths

Covid-19 cases and deaths are skyrocketing, with no end in sight.
USA             CASES     DEATHS
March 15        7,473       115
March 16        8,210       126
March 17        9,193       144
March 18       10,941       167
March 19       13,789       208
March 20       19,383       266
March 21       24,207       312
March 22       33,546       429
March 23       43,714       569
March 24       54,803       794
March 25       68,158     1,041
March 26       85,382     1,309
March 27      104,073     1,710
March 28      125,485     2,225
The number of new cases on March 25 was the most of any country in a single day during this pandemic.

That record was broken on March 26.

And that record was broken on March 27.

And that record was broken on March 28.

But Donald Trump remains focused on what truly matters during this national emergency:

March 28, 2020

Donald Trump Is Calling Alex Rodriguez (From The Oval Office) For Covid-19 Advice

April 1 came four days early this year.

Sarah Al-Arshani, Business Insider, March 28, 2020:
President Donald Trump apparently called former Yankees player Alex Rodriguez for his thoughts on the administration's response to the coronavirus outbreak, ABC News reported Friday evening.
Rodriguez is not a medical or public health expert.

Source told ABC that neither Rodriguez or his fiance Jennifer Lopez will have any official role in the effort, but one source close to the baseball star reportedly said the call with the president was "pleasant".

ABC also reported that the call was part of a number of calls Trump made this week regarding the virus and its impact on the country.
On Friday night, Trump tweeted "More Fake News!" in response to ABC's report of the call.

The US currently has the highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the world with more than 104,000 infected and close to 1,700 deaths.

Trump ... has also said in recent days he wanted to open the country back up by Easter, despite public health officials saying a longer lockdown is needed to help curb the spread of the outbreak.

Additionally, Trump has been critical of governors who are asking the federal government for more support to curb outbreaks in their state. ...
Jordan Hoffman, Vanity Fair, March 28, 2020:
Seeking guidance from, shall we say, unusual sources is not exactly something new for Trump. (How a guy goes from owning shopping malls in New Jersey to heading a Middle East peace plan is one for the record books.) Former Fox News commentator Eric Bolling, who was dismissed from the network after accusations of sexual harassment, had the President's ear as Congress was drafting their stimulus bill. As my colleague Caleb Ecarma reported, Bolling personally pitched Trump a stimulus plan entitled "Bolling2020."

But reaching out to A-Rod is weird even by Trump standards. While it seems like several lifetimes ago, A-Rod was once a target of severe Trump criticism before his new role as a trusted advisor during an unprecedented pandemic. Trump regularly accused him of being "a druggie" and "on the juice." He also suggested that the player was "bad chemistry with the Yankees" and "couldn't perform without drugs," and theorized that Rodriguez was at his best only when he hung his helmet at Trump Park Avenue.

March 27, 2020

Death Works 24 Hours A Day

I was born and raised in Vermont. I lived the first 42 of my 56 years in Vermont and New York. The majority of readers of this blog live in the United States. What happens in the United States remains an interest and a concern of mine.

The Covid-19 pandemic has plunged the entire world into something no one alive has ever experienced. The end of the influenza pandemic that occurred at the end of World War I is generally accepted as December 1920. A seven-year-old child at that time would be now 112 years old.

On March 25, the United States suffered 14,024 new Covid-19 cases, the most in any single day by any country during this pandemic. On March 26, the United States broke that record, with 17,224 new cases. Update: The United States had 18,691 new cases today, a new high for a single day (and 401 deaths, raising the total to 1,696). The US saw two grim milestones today: cases topped 100,000 and the deaths topped 1,500. (New York City may not hit its peak in new cases for another 21 days, which is almost too horrific to contemplate. The city needs roughly 100,000 additional hospital beds and 37,000 additional ICU beds.)

While this blog centers on the Boston Red Sox, and major league baseball more generally, things that happen in the United States affecting professional baseball, in a broad sense, are reasonable subject matters. This pandemic is affecting everyone. It's hard to see how looking at the actions of the people charged with overseeing the health and safety of Americans at this time is off-topic to anyone. But if my words are offensive, or if you actually support the Sociopath-in-Chief (how that is possible at this late date, I'm at a loss to comprehend), please go away and never come back. I don't want you as a reader.

"Stick To Sports!" is a phrase shouted by conservatives (the shouters are invariably conservative). It is a ridiculous and impossible mandate. The people who play and watch sports are humans. Humans are affected every day by what politicians do and don't do. Sticking to sports is why Jackie Robinson's Hall of Fame plaque did not mention, until 2008, that he was the first black man allowed to play baseball in the modern era. Sticking to sports is one reason why franchises are still named Indians and Braves (and Redskins and Blackhawks and Chiefs and Apaches and Mohawks and Redmen and Savage and Tomahawks and Squaws).

And what does "stick to sports" really mean? At its core, it means: "Stop sharing political opinions I disagree with". It is the bitter, whiny cry of people who live in fear that "libtards" are taking over and imposing their views on society. (If only ...) Oddly, when I post pictures of my dogs, no one ever yells: "Stick to sports!" Even though both dogs are ardent socialists.

During the height of Colin Kaepernick's protests against police brutality, when public address announcers across MLB and other sports instructed fans to stand for the national anthem and to have any attending veterans salute, I wonder if any of those same people complained that those teams should "stick to sports"?

Some people claim to focus on sports as a reprieve from the "outside" world. I understand that, but it's an irrelevant concern in this case. To use my blog as a tiny example, you have to make an effort to see it. No one is mandated to read it. You can control how much of it you want in your life. It's okay if you want zero. (Most people do!) My first political post on The Joy of Sox is dated September 2, 2003. Please don't act surprised to see political words. (Also, you did not create this blog and you are not my editor. This blog is a dictatorship, but it has open borders.)

Something else happened on March 25, as the U-S-A, U-S-A, U-S-A became the world's #1 Covid-19 hotspot, Donald Trump bragged:
It's hard not to be happy with the job we're doing, that I can tell you.

I don't think anyone would disagree if I said that most of Trump's statements over the last two months have been at odds with medical experts and scientists both within the US government and around the world. That's is probably the most objective, and nicest way, to put it.

(And as far as subjective: The far-too-often stenographic media needs to actually grow a fucking spine and remember a lesson or two from Journalism 101. Hammer this lying, craven motherfucker every. fucking. day. on every single one of his countless lies and happy talk about the airlines and cruise ships and oil and the fucking stock market. Drive this obscene orange asshole into self-isolation because he's terrified of the relentless demand for accountability of his actions. ... By the way, there is nothing stopping Trump from being impeached a second time. And this is far more damning and damaging than what he was impeached for the first time.)

Trump's comments have evolved through several phases.
1 - The problem does not exist

2 - The problem exists, but its effects are exaggerated by my enemies

3 - I have always said the problem existed (and I said so before anyone else)

4 - I am trying to solve the problem, but my enemies are trying to stop me

5 - I am successfully solving the problem (despite hundreds of news stories each day (written by my enemies) proving the exact opposite)

6 - We have circled back to the beginning. This is a combination of 1 & 2: no problems exist with supplies and people are demanding equipment they do not need
Last night, Trump told Fox's Sean Hannity:
A lot of equipment is being asked for that I don't think they will need. ... You know, you go into major hospitals, sometimes they'll have two ventilators and now, all of a sudden, they're saying, "Can we order 30,000 ventilators?" I don't believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators.
Would a state really request more ventilators that it thought it would need in the coming weeks and months solely to make Trump look bad, to sabotage his chances at re-election? Trump believes that. He believes it to the very core of his being. But Trump also suffers from severe, untreated mental illness.

In further evidence of that point, during that same town meeting last night, Trump suggested that he is happy to let thousands of New Yorkers die because Governor Andrew Cuomo has not sucked up to him to Trump's satisfaction. On Friday, Cuomo said: "If he got it from Fox, you know the old expression, garbage in, garbage out? That's what I would say about that."

Jared Kushner, an expert in nothing except kissing his father-in-law's ass, is in charge of the country's ventilator gap. (Trump has previously put him in charge of negotiating peace in the Middle East (Kushner boasted about having read 25 books on the subject), recommending and vetting candidates for future pardons, and researching the coronavirus. Kushner also helped write Trump's March 11, 2020 Oval Office address (which was such a disaster, numerous statements had to be immediately retracted and corrected).)

Kushner wants to wait on production of ventilators, even as people die, because he is concerned that states will be left with a surplus when the present crisis is over. As Tom Sullivan notes:
The country spent at least half a trillion bailing out Wall Street after the financial crisis. The U.S. abandoned over $1 billion in military equipment in Vietnam, $7 billion in equipment in Afghanistan, lost track of over a billion dollars worth of weapons in Iraq in addition to losing nearly $9 billion in $100 bills shipped in on pallets by the ton. Jared is holding up delivery of life-saving equipment over worries about leftovers.
Trump has rejected pleas that New York State needs tens of thousands of new ventilators. He doesn't believe the states numbers are accurate. And Trump knows more about everything than anyone else who ever lived. (Just ask him!) More than a few people are worried because a classic Trumpian move would be to send existing equipment to Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin, which (coincidence!) are key swing states in this November's election.

But ... wait! Mere hours after scoffing and ridiculing the request for 40,000 ventilators, Trump is now stamping his feet and yelling that 40,000 ventilators are ESSENTIAL!! NOW!!!! Trump also insulted General Motors, a company he praised to the skies only days ago, saying how amazing it was that GM was willing to help out.

Trump will soon be blaming GM and other companies for the blood that is dripping from his hands by ignoring this crisis for so many weeks and months. He's nothing if not completely predictable. You'll be able to set your watch by it.

Trump is also letting 1.5 million N95 respirator masks gather dust in a US government warehouse in Indiana. The masks are past their expiration date, but the CDC has issued guidelines for their safe use. It does not seem to matter.

Trump's hiring of loyalists without experience (or not hiring anyone at all, if a Yes Man cannot be found) has made the US's response to the pandemic erratic and incompetent at every level of government. Workers in the Department of Veterans Affairs have been forced to order medical supplies from Amazon, because their clueless superiors had no idea what to do for patients at VA hospitals.

A recent survey of the United States Conference of Mayors found that, of 213 participating cities:
91.5% do not have an adequate supply of face masks for their first responders (including police, fire, EMTs) and medical personnel

88.2% do not have an adequate supply of personal protective equipment other than face masks to protect these workers

92.1% do not have an adequate supply of test kits

85.0% do not have an adequate supply of ventilators for use by health facilities in their city or area

62.4% have not received emergency equipment or supplies from their State

84.6% have received help from their State, but it is not adequate
If Covid-19 doesn't get you, perhaps the increased pollution will:
The Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday announced a sweeping relaxation of environmental rules in response to the coronavirus pandemic, allowing power plants, factories and other facilities to determine for themselves if they are able to meet legal requirements on reporting air and water pollution. ... The order asks companies to "act responsibly" ...
Well, okay. As long as the companies have been asked ...

Heather Digby Parton:
Trump has insisted over and over again that no one could have predicted that something like this, which of course is complete nonsense. The Obama administration had set up a pandemic team within the National Security Council, which ran potential scenarios for the incoming administration in January of 2017 as part of a legally required transition exercise. Roughly two-thirds of the Trump representatives who attended that meeting are no longer serving in the administration anyway, another example of how the huge turnover has contributed to the botched response. In any case, former national security adviser John Bolton disbanded the team when he joined the White House, so there is hardly anyone around who would have benefited from those briefings anyway.

But according to Politico, the Obama folks left a "playbook" behind that outlined everything the new administration needed to know to begin the coordination of the various agencies and distribution of materials as well as other helpful guidance. Apparently, that guidance was thrown onto a shelf somewhere, and has been gathering dust ever since.

None of that is surprising. When Trump was asked at one of his White House coronavirus campaign rallies if he'd called any of the former presidents for advice, he replied that he thinks he's doing an incredible job and said, "I don't think I'm going to learn much."
It's one of the few times Trump has been honest.

Through all of this, Trump, the man ostensibly in charge of everyone, the person with the final say about each and every step, who decided what gets done and what does not get done, who in a crisis like this is deciding who lives and who dies, insists he is not to blame. He cannot be bothered to care. He states publicly, with no shame, or seeming realization to what he is admitting, that he takes no responsibility for anything that has gone wrong (though he's always first in line to accept (and to expect) praise for everything that goes right).

The Defense Production Act enables the government "to expedite and expand the supply of resources from the U.S. industrial base to support military, energy, space, and homeland security programs". It enables the president to "ensure timely procurement of resources to save lives and property under emergency conditions".

In this emergency condition, despite thousands of Americans sick and dying right now, Trump refuses to use the DPA. He does not believe an emergency exists. He believes it is adequate to let private industry decide what is needed and then voluntarily produce it on their own schedule, and then the fifty states fight with each other to get however many supplies are available. It's survival of the fittest, a fight to the death, and Trump can watch over it all like a Roman emperor at the Colosseum.

Trump offers no guidance, no coordination. After he holds his daily press briefing, during which he lies, insults the media, and basks in the praise from underlings (the briefings serve the ego-enriching purpose of the cult rallies Trump can no longer hold), his "work" for the day done.

But Death works 24 hours a day.

March 26, 2020

MLB's Opening Day At Home; Watch 2004 ALCS Game 4 at 6 PM

Today was supposed to be Opening Day of the 2020 season.

MLB is presenting "Opening Day at Home", with 30 games broadcast on various networks, digital streaming, and social media.

You can watch Game 4 of the 2004 American League Championship Series tonight at 6:00 PM (ET) on and MLB's Facebook page. (MLB has also made all 2018 and 2019 games free to watch on MLB.TV; many classic games are available in full on YouTube.)

Ian Browne,
Kevin Millar opened the bottom of the ninth by creating some hope, drawing a five-pitch walk.

"The walk was something nobody saw coming," Red Sox righty Derek Lowe would say 10 years later. "[Rivera] doesn't walk anybody that time of year." ...

"David Ortiz at that point turned into a superstar," said Millar. "The '03 season put him on the map. In 2004, he is now a superstar. The stuff that he did doesn't make sense."
Cabin Mirror is right.

It doesn't make sense. ... More than 15 years later, it still doesn't make sense. So we'll have to keep watching the games and reading about what happened until it does.

I should also remind you about a really good book that focuses on 2004. It's an oral history of the three weeks of the 2004 postseason, featuring extensive interviews from players, coaches, grounds crew, scoreboard operators, even a beverage distributor. The Boston Globe called it "a modern-day, single-team cousin to [Lawrence Ritter's] classic 1966 The Glory of Their Times".

Psychologist: "Trump Cannot Accurately Assess Reality; He Could See Dead Bodies In The Street From The Coronavirus And Step Over Them. "Why Are All These People Lying Around?""

Dr. Justin Frank, a former clinical professor of psychiatry at the George Washington University Medical Center and the author of Trump on the Couch (as well as Bush on the Couch and Obama on the Couch), talked with Salon's Chauncey DeVega.
During these last few days at his "briefings" on the coronavirus, and through his pronouncements on Twitter, Trump's behavior has further devolved. ... At this point, his behavior is like an entry from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

Beyond Trump's malignant narcissism and sociopathy lies paranoid thinking. ... A characteristic of paranoid thinking is rigidity – he never gives up his paranoid worldview about whatever he fears attacked by. ... In his press conference on Monday, when he had free rein to ask a question himself, he first attacked the press ... Because he is obsessed with the press being out to ruin him, he cannot accurately assess reality ...

There seems to be no bottom to Trump's pathological behavior.

There is no bottom. The only time you know about a bottom in human behavior is when a person reflects back on their behavior. One can say they hit rock bottom only in the past tense. ... When a person lies like Trump does, they are attacking reality itself on an unconscious level. ... Because Donald Trump lies about reality so much, he does not have the ability to cope with it. ... I've actually seen it happen in hospital settings. You can't convince a person out of a preconception if the person has been lying to themselves as extensively as Trump has. ... Donald Trump could see dead bodies lying in the street from the coronavirus and step over them. ... "Why are all these people lying around? How did that happen?" Trump would never think that he had anything to do with all of the deaths. ...

Trump has gone from saying the coronavirus was a hoax to claiming he was the first person to have used the term "pandemic" to describe it. How does his mind make such a huge move?

Because he really believes he's the first person to have said it's a pandemic. He really believes it. Trump also believes he's the first person to realize that Abraham Lincoln was a Republican. Trump is like a child who discovers something and says, "Did you know this?" ... When a person such as Donald Trump has a long history of lying to himself, he has eradicated or attacked reality. ... [But] reality must seep in. In this case, the coronavirus is penetrating Trump's delusional reality. Now Trump goes from calling the coronavirus a hoax to imagining himself as some type of savior who was the first person to realize the dangers ... Trump believes he can control reality, like some type of god. ...

When he talks about the coronavirus pandemic, Trump does not appear to care about the harm it is causing people. He always defaults to himself and then seeks praise from the members of his court. Trump appears to be incapable of empathy or sympathy or any level of human concern for others.

When Trump is basically saying, "Me! Me! Me! Me! Me!" it reflects a lack of genuine love from his parents, either one or both of them. ... That is narcissism or grandiosity. Those are behaviors and feelings which are compensatory for not feeling loved. ... He delivered the eulogy at his father's funeral. Trump said one or two sentences about his father and the rest of the speech was about himself. He does the same things today. None of Trump's behavior as president is new.

Trump leads a political cult. ... As in other cults, the members are in love with the leader. ... Whatever Trump commands them to do they will do, even if it means getting sick and dying from the coronavirus.

That is correct. Such a level of mass fanaticism is very disturbing, and is something that we have not seen in the United States on such a large scale. We have seen it with Jim Jones and other cults. People follow the cult leader to their doom. Of course, there was a similar type of fanaticism in Germany with Adolf Hitler. Trump's followers really need a strong leader to make them feel safe. ... [They] also want someone who will accept their aggression and destructiveness as being good and normal. ...

Let's assume one of the worst-case scenarios, that the coronavirus may kill more than a million people in the United States. ... President Lincoln was horribly guilty about all the deaths in the Civil War. Will Trump have similar feelings?

No. It is not an option. Donald Trump does not feel guilt. He is incapable of it. I have not seen Trump ever display any form of guilt for his behavior. If there were a million dead, Trump would still say that Obama did it ... the Democrats did it ... the Chinese did it. Trump is never responsible for his own behavior. ... One would think that repressing all that guilt would cause Trump or someone like that to have nightmares. But I don't think that Trump does.

March 25, 2020

Doug Baldwin, Seahawks: Trump Is An "Example Of What You Can Become If You Remain Close Minded, Ignorant And Uneducated"

[Draft Post, September 24, 2017]

Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin released an official statement responding to a series of disparaging remarks about NFL player protests made Friday by President Donald Trump:
I'm not surprised by Trump's comments. He has shown, since the beginning, his dehumanized nature. To think he would be anything different is to not know the reality of his presidency. He has surrounded himself with like minded people and has removed anyone who challenges him. He acts like a child craving attention and any attention will do.

Although these recent comments are not the worst things he's said or done, I do believe that this will be a unifying moment for the sports world. And with as much influence as athletes have on the younger generation, this can be an opportunity for us to change the narrative of society and point to the president as a poor example of what you can become if you remain close minded, ignorant and uneducated.

For all the hate and negativity that has come from Trump's presidency, I am still hopeful for justice and love to win out. As I continue to my efforts with the youth of our communities and engage with this hatred, I will resist the urge to return hate with hate and instead react in love and compassion for those who simply can not.

I encourage others to do the same.

Thank you,

Douglas Baldwin Jr.
Orli Matlow @HireMeImFunny: "NFL players aren't protesting the anthem, they're protesting police brutality. That's like saying hunger strikes are against food #TakeTheKnee"

John Graziano @jvgraz: "Even if #TakeAKnee is disrespectful (it isn't), who cares? There's no such thing as a protest everyone approves of. That's kinda the point."

ChristianChristensen @ChrChristensen: "Funny how "making millions of dollars" excludes you from commenting on US when you're black, but enables you when you're white. #TakeTheKnee

Sonali Kolhatkar, Truthdig, September 22, 2017:
In America, Justice for Victims of Police Brutality Remains Elusive

Three years after the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement rose to prominence in Ferguson, Mo., protests over a police killing of a black man have once again garnered national attention—this time in the neighboring city of St. Louis. The acquittal of a white former police officer, Jason Stockley, over the killing of a 24-year-old black man named Anthony Lamar Smith shows that justice is still elusive for black victims of police officers. However, the subsequent days of protests by St. Louis residents show that the power and influence of BLM has only grown.

The fact that it took nearly six years for a trial and verdict in this case is quite telling. ... During the high-speed chase that ended Smith's life, Stockley was recorded saying he was "going to kill this motherfucker, don't you know it." After directing another police officer to hit Smith's car, Stockley walked up to the young man's vehicle. He fired five times into the car, killing Smith. Stockley claimed Smith had a gun in his hand and that he killed him in self-defense. But prosecutors suspected that the gun found in Smith's car was planted by the officer since it had only Stockley's DNA on it, and none of Smith's. It took the state more than four years just to bring charges against the man who took Smith's life. ...

Despite three years of intense public pressure over the fatal police shootings of black Americans, district attorneys, judges and juries around the country have rarely held law enforcement accountable. And so the shootings and acquittals continue.

To top it off, Donald Trump has sent a clear message that his Justice Department, led by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, will not be investigating police departments' alleged abuses. In fact, the president has cozied up so blatantly to the notorious police union, the Fraternal Order of Police, and embraced officers, that it is no wonder that in Charlottesville, Va., reports emerged that police simply watched radical right-wingers and self-proclaimed fascists assaulting counterprotesters. In effect, the police have become allies and protectors of the president's supporters. ...

Under Trump, America is even more pro-police than it was before he took office. On Monday night, four days after Stockley's acquittal and subsequent protests, [Lawrence O’Toole, interim chief of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department] said, "The police owned tonight."

"We're in control," he added. "This is our city." The interim chief appeared to have turned the idea of police as public servants on its head, and instead embraced the type of mentality that dictatorial regimes encourage when using militarized forces to control an angry populace. ...

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch interviewed one activist who was arrested so roughly that he couldn't breathe, telling the newspaper, "It was the most brutal arrest I've ever experienced in my life. I thought I was going to die."

Mike Faulk, a reporter for the paper, was also among those arrested. His experience was described thus:
Multiple officers knocked Faulk down, he said, and pinned his limbs to the ground. A firm foot pushed his head into the pavement. Once he was subdued, he recalled, an officer squirted pepper spray in his face. ...
Police seem to think they have the right to mistreat, brutalize and even kill the very people they are meant to serve. But with every life taken, law enforcement is exposed bit by bit for being the source of violence rather than its remedy.

The Mets Are Pathetic

[Draft Post, June 14, 2018]

On Wednesday, June 13, Mets starter Jacob deGrom lost his seventh game of the season in which he allowed one or zero runs.

Those seven losses ties a record for the most such starts by a pitcher in a season since the mound was moved to its current distance in 1893.

In his last 10 starts, deGrom has an 0.87 ERA (6 earned runs in 62.1 innings). The Mets have won only two of those 10 games.

The Mets just ended a streak of nine games in which they did not score in more than one inning. That's the longest streak in MLB since the 1978 A's also went nine games. The longest streak before that? 10 games by the 1964 Mets (managed by Casey Stengel).

The Mets went 1-8 in these recent nine games and scored a total of 10 runs.

They endured a span of 35 innings in which they scored one run (from the seventh inning on June 2 through the end of the game on June 6).

June 2-13, 2018
June  2 - 000 001 000 000 00 - 1  7  3 - Loss to CHC 1-7 (14)
June  3 - 000 000 000        - 0  3  0 - Loss to CHC 0-2
June  5 - 000 010 000        - 1  3  0 - Loss to BAL 1-2
June  6 - 000 000 000        - 0  5  0 - Loss to BAL 0-1
June  8 - 100 000 000        - 1  4  1 - Loss to NYY 1-4
June  9 - 300 000 000        - 3  6  0 - Loss to NYY 3-4
June 10 - 000 020 00x        - 2  5  2 - Win  vs NYY 2-0
June 12 - 000 002 000        - 2  3  0 - Loss to ATL 2-8
June 13 - 000 000 000        - 0  2  1 - Loss to ATL 0-2

Last night [June 14], the Mets scored single runs in the first, sixth, and eighth innings ... (yay!) ... but lost to the Diamondbacks 6-3.

March 24, 2020

Somebody Get Me A Doctor!

An Impatient Trump Is Now Ignoring Medical Experts And Getting Advice And Ideas From "TV Personalities And MAGA Loyalists"

Donald Trump has stopped listening to all medical experts. Instead, he has turned to "informal advisers, TV personalities, and MAGA loyalists outside his administration for their ideas".

The New York Times reports:
The president has become increasingly concerned as Dr. Anthony S. Fauci has grown bolder in correcting his falsehoods about the spread of the coronavirus.
Let that sink in for a minute. ... Trump is getting angry and frustrated because one of the top immunologist in the entire world, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is correcting his constant lies because lives are at stake. (Trump is such a medical super-genius he admitted two days ago that he had no idea how a modern thermometer works.)

Trump has also lost his patience for the safety precautions that have been enacted throughout the US. He wants to stop them in the next two weeks and have businesses go back to normal. He truly does not give a shit:
Let's go to work. Our country wasn't built to be shut down. This is not a country that was built for this. It was not built to be shut down.
More here ...

Dr. Bandy Lee, a professor of psychiatry at the Yale University School of Medicine and editor of the bestselling book The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump, spoke with Salon. The entire interview is worth reading.
Trump is not in touch with reality. ... Mental health professionals have been warning for years that Trump's mental health issues would lead to such a dire situation. Trump is not showing just a lack of presidential leadership. What he is doing is so irresponsible and inept that having him as president is in some ways worse than having no leadership in the country at all. Trump is spreading disinformation, suppressing reality, and threatening those experts and other people who are telling him things about the coronavirus pandemic that he doesn't want to hear. ... His mental health issues are translating directly into deaths and widespread calamity. ...

Donald Trump lacks the traits of empathy, sympathy and guilt. Those basic characteristics of humanity have not developed in him. No matter how many lives are impacted by the virus or how many deaths occur, it doesn't really touch him. Human beings are like objects to Donald Trump. He doesn't really relate to other people as if they are human beings. ...

Trump actually wishes to hold on to the opposite of reality because he cannot tolerate reality as it exists. In truth, Trump is incompetent and not even able to engage in rational thinking. ... Scientific evidence and empirical reality ... do not change to fit Trump's desires and whims. This is very threatening to Donald Trump. ... When reality pushes back against Trump's fantasy world he is going to fight back as though he is fighting for his life. Donald Trump, with all the powers of the presidency and given his mind and behavior, is the most dangerous man on the planet. ...

Trump is impaired and, yes, he does seem to be a bumbling fool. ... The problem is that when there is a person like Donald Trump who is impaired in the higher functions of the brain, the lower functions — the primitive or "reptilian" brain — become more powerful than ever before. ... Those impulses help Trump to control his people, his frenzied irrational followers. ... This is not a strategy; it is a pathology. Trump's movement is an actual mental disease spreading across the country. As others have pointed out, Donald Trump leads a cult. The Republicans and his other followers are Trump's cult members. ...

Trump's delusions have been induced across an entire population of his supporters and other followers. ... The coronavirus pandemic is a graphic illustration of how disastrous allowing the mental health pandemic that is Trump's cult to continue unabated. ... Trump's followers derive their identity, their sense of meaning in their lives, and how they understand the world from what he says. ... In that relationship they have lost their personhood, autonomy and even their ability to think for themselves. ...

Trump's supporters are ... unable to hear what other people are saying if it does not support Trump. ... If a person tries to explain reality to Trump's supporters, they will do anything to hold onto their fantasies about Trump and to follow his commands. ... Mentally unwell leaders influence their followers to behave the same way.

March 22, 2020

When The Opposing Pitcher Throws More Than 25 Pitches In The First Inning, The Red Sox Are 9-3

[Draft Post, May 31, 2018]

When the opposing pitcher throws more than 25 pitches in the first inning, the Red Sox are 9-3.

That bit of information is true. But is it relevant? If the Red Sox see 28 pitches in the first inning of their next game, are they more likely (or very likely) to win? Does seeing 25+ pitches in the first inning somehow cause them to win?

You may think that, yes, in some ways, it might. If the Red Sox saw that many pitches, they probably had guys on base and may have scored a run or two. Teams that score first win more games than they lose - the Red Sox are 16-3 this year when they score first - so that early lead has to be a positive sign for the rest of the game.

It sounds a lot like other factoids that get mentioned during broadcasts or in articles.

I recently heard NESN's Dave O'Brien, in the context of Sandy Leon's three-run home run on May 6, state that since the beginning of 2017, the Red Sox are 19-8 when Leon drives in a run (or runs). O'Brien then referred to Leon as "a good luck charm" for the Red Sox.

There were numerous examples when NESN blocked off about 20% of the screen to show us a near-constant stream of things the announcers had just said or pointless factoids like how when Jackie Bradley hits a home run, the Red Sox are 30-7.

I'm sure some viewers see that and have renewed respect for Bradley because he clearly is a catalyst for the offense. But I'm assuming that many fans (though, sadly, not the majority) realize that these types of tidbits are useless and a waste of eye movement to read and (even worse) a distortion and deception.

How is Mookie Betts's ability to hit the starting pitcher or any of the relievers affected by the fact that a few innings ago, JBJ hit a home run? Or how does it affect him if Bradley is going to hit a home run in the next inning? Mookie has muscle memory, but he does not have muscle ESP. The fact that Sandy Leon drove in a run does not magically make the other eight hitters in the lineup more likely to drive in or score runs.

Back on April 3, O'Brien thought it was worth pointing out that Chris Sale has not had much luck against the teams in the NL East. And that was allegedly the reason why his stuff against the Marlins that night was not as sharp. This was one of the dumbest things I have ever heard an announcer say.

For 25 years (1969-93), Atlanta was in NL West. So it would not be far fetched to imagine the Marlins playing in the NL Central. If they were suddenly moved to a different division - and if the announcement came in the middle of Sale's outing - would his fastball suddenly gain a few mph and his curveball have more bite because his left arm knew that the exact same players were now in the NL Central and not the NL East?

My opinions about a pitcher's career record against a particular team are well-known. If not, read this. I have joked that announcers should give a pitcher's stats for the individual days of the week. "Sale is making his 20th start of the season on this sunny Sunday afternoon. The slender lefty is 4-0 with a 1.28 ERA on Sundays this year."

Does that seem silly to you? After all, he has not faced this particular team at all this year, who cares what he did against other teams on a similar day of the week? But many fans take seriously a pitcher's career record against a certain team, even though in almost all of those starts, he faced a different group of players. They just happen to be wearing the same kind of shirt as those earlier guys. Does a pitcher's splitter dive more if the shirts of a group of nine guys look similar to the shirts worn by nine different guys who could not get a rally going against him five years ago?

And Now They Know

Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman, New York Times, March 21, 2020:
Mr. Trump's performance on the national stage in recent weeks has put on display the traits that [many people] consider so jarring — the profound need for personal praise, the propensity to blame others, the lack of human empathy, the penchant for rewriting history, the disregard for expertise, the distortion of facts, the impatience with scrutiny or criticism. For years, skeptics expressed concern about how he would handle a genuine crisis threatening the nation, and now they know.
Read more here...

March 21, 2020

Umpires: Inconsistency And Bias - & Robots

[Draft Post, June 1, 2014]

Etan Green, fivethirtyeight:
Consider a forgotten game in April 2010 between the Cleveland Indians and the Chicago White Sox. The White Sox were up a run with two outs in the eighth. Their set-up man, Matt Thornton, was on the mound, protecting a lead with a runner on first and the right-handed Jhonny Peralta at bat. Ahead in the count with one ball and two strikes, Thornton froze Peralta with a slider on the outside half of the plate, a couple inches below the belt. For a pitch like that, the umpire, Bruce Dreckman, would normally call a strike — 80 percent of the time, the data shows. But in two-strike counts like Peralta's, he calls a strike less than half the time.

Sure enough, that night Dreckman called a ball. Two pitches later, Peralta lashed a double to right, scoring the runner and tying the game. Neither team scored again until the 11th, when Cleveland scored twice to win the game. Had Peralta struck out to end the top of the eighth, Chicago almost certainly would have won. ...

These mistakes are frequent — pitchers tend to pitch to the borders of the official strike zone. And they are consequential — they happen in the most pivotal calls. When a 50/50 call becomes a 60/40 call, as it does with three balls, umpires are mistakenly calling strikes on 10 percent of borderline pitches. When a 50/50 call becomes a 30/70 call, as it does with two strikes, umpires are mistakenly calling balls on 20 percent of borderline pitches.
KenTremendous, SoSH:
There are quite literally thousands of blown calls every year in baseball, some of them through incompetence, some of them because things happen too quickly to judge correctly. Thousands upon thousands. The idea that the league should not try to reduce those thousands to hundreds, or tens, or none, using every available method, because it sometimes takes longer before you know the actual truth of the event that occurred is criminally strange, to me. ...

Baseball should not go backwards. It should go forwards, towards accuracy and enlightenment. The sport will survive. Tennis survived, soccer will survive, baseball will survive, and they will all be better for it.
MentalDisabldLst, SoSH:
Nothing saps my enjoyment of a sport (the appeal of which, in general, is that it can't be "faked", it's all honest performance) like blown calls. They take away your belief in the players' agency - that the players can determine who wins or loses by their actions alone within the context of the rules. That the game is honest. ...

That cynical mistrust is what we're combating with replay. Combating it has value, and it's worth going through growing pains and even the occasional ambiguous situation, because it reinforces that the game is honest and that only the players' actions - their real actions, which we can all see in super slow-mo - are what determine the outcome. Officiating blunders, much like gambling and the Black Sox and Pete Rose in decades before, are risks to the fundamental premise of why everyone watches sports: an uncertain outcome, with surprises every night. I'll take combating that over a little impact to someone else's definition of "drama", any day of the week.