Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Dodger "Businuess as Usual"

I stopped by my favorite Dodger blog today, and found a link to a Q&A with the Dodgers President. Hold onto your hats Dodger fans, the ride is about to get bumpy! This is my favorite part:

"We hear from you and Ned that it is "business as usual." Yet, that is becoming increasingly difficult for fans to believe, given the actions of a major-market team that just about broke even last season. In the last two years, in addition to the Wolf decision, the Dodgers have:

* Deferred more than $45 million in player salaries, most of that with Manny Ramirez

* Traded top prospects in lieu of picking up contracts

* Declined to bid on virtually every top free agent

*Declined to bid on top international prospects

* Spent fewer dollars than any other club in the last two drafts

* Delayed playoff ticket refunds this year

*Fired more than a dozen employees

* Didn't re-invest $19 million from the Jason Schmidt insurance payment and the Manny Ramirez suspension into baseball operations"

The Dodgers are where they are today primarily thanks to their farm system, and the lack of spending there is what will hurt them down the road. You know, after the divorce, through the sale and all that.

Boy the NL West has been busy this winter...Not!

Tim Dierkes at runs through all of the additions and subtractions for the NL West so far this winter. It's not just quiet in Padre land, it is quiet in the entire NL West! This list is downright embarrassing for all parties!

Well, outside of Arizona. They have been very active, but it is difficult to say they are a lot better off than before. Just getting Webb back will be huge for them, if he comes back to pre-shoulder injury form. But who is the real Edwin Jackson? The guy of the first half for the Tigers, or the guy that is on his fourth big league team before the age of 25 (ish, not really sure and too lazy to look it up)? And seems to me that their pitching wasn't a huge problem last year, it was their offense. Sure, the young guys might get better, but don't they bank on that every year? And this list was before Kelly Johnson, so maybe that will help, but not so much that I would worry about them this year.

The Dodgers are just hilarious. "The pending divorce has no effect on our baseball operations." "The pending divorce has no effect on our baseball operations." "The pending divorce has no effect on our baseball operations." Are they wearing ruby red slippers and clicking the heels together as they stick to their mantra? Because otherwise this is an out-and-out lie! They need about three starters.

The Giants need more offense, and 35 year old Mark DeRosa is not doing it all himself. If they could get some bats to go with that rotation, they would be a front runner in my book. They need to do something, but maybe they are worried about Lincecum's arbitration hearing and are saving money for that. Expect some proven major league veterans (read desperate former bats) to sign there in January to fill out the roster.

The Rockies haven't done much, but if you were them, and you considered yourself the class of the West, which I think they do, they really haven't been pushed to do much so far. Hopefully they continue their up and down cycle and have another off year.

And our Padres? They've done nothing, but at least that means that AG is still in town, and that's a good thing. They need big years from a lot of guys on offense, and some surprises from the starting pitching pool they've stockpiled, and maybe, just maybe, there is a 85 win season in there. As of right now, 85 might be enough!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Winter Meetings Day 3 Recap

The headline is "Padres laying groundwork for moves". Translated, that means "We were working, even if it doesn't look like it". The Padre highlights:
  • Kouz: Drawing lots of interest, but no good offers. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
  • Correia: "Hoyer said the team will likely either sign Correia to a deal before the deadline or they will trade him." So either he takes a lower than arbitration market figure to stay, or the Pads find someone else to give them a shade over league average performance for next year (for clearly the Pads aren't buying his last six game stretch as an indicator of future performance). So, there will be two open rotation spots (I'm putting down Young, Latos and Richard in pencil for now) with a pool of Stauffer, LeBlanc, Ramos, Gallagher and Poreda, plus the ubiquitous cheap veteran reclamation project they will sign during the end of January free agent clearance sale. I understand the argument that you really shouldn't pay a premium for basically replacement level players, but there is at least something to be said for KNOWING you will get at least replacement level performance . Also, I have this unfounded belief that pitchers develop later than hitters. I remember Jason Schmidt bouncing around the league then becoming a stud for the Giants, and I think that this happens all the time, even though, other than Jason Schmidt, I have no point of reference . What if Correia finally found his mojo at 29 and really can be the pitcher he was for his last 6 starts? The Pads, with scouts and analysis galore, say no, so I have to trust them.
  • De La Cruz: Released.
  • The rule 5 draft (technically this should be a day 4 recap item, since it happened this morning, but with this being the only real thing going on for day 4, I suspect there won't be a recap tomorrow): Pads made no selections in the major league portion. I thought with the dropping of de la Cruz yesterday they were clearing a spot to take someone in the rule 5 draft, but apparently not. Still one free spot on the 40 man roster, maybe it will be part of a 2 for 1 deal! Yeah, an actual deal, how about that?

In the rest of the majors, someone gave too much money and way too many years to Randy Wolf, a couple of relievers changed teams, some AL junk I sort of ignored, and that's about it. One of the quietest winter meetings I remember. Which should not be surprising in the quietest off season I remember so far. Sigh. I'm bored.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Winter Meetings Day 2 Recap

And I thought Day 1 was quiet, Day 2 is two meager rumors about Kouz:
  • The Giants want Kouz, but Frandsen and Lewis does not sound like a serious offer. But that is exactly how I would start dealing with the Pads, assume they just want salary relief and offer diddly squat!
  • Apparently the Twins wouldn't mind Kouz as well, offering Glen Perkins. I think this is year 3 on that rumor, both Kouz to the Twins and Perkins coming to the Pads. It is so slow in Indy, people are just dusting off last year's fodder and throwing it around! And I hate when there are rumors of trades with the AL, I have no frame of reference. I don't watch the AL, like never.

That is it. Mr Hoyer said he would be busy, I didn't realize that part of that meant keeping all information away from any media source! Throw us a bone Jed, drop some names, something.

D-backs made a big trade, sending out two very young pitchers for two slightly older but still young pitchers. Dave Cameron and Keith Law didn't like it from the d-backs perspective, nice! That's all I need to know.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Winter Meetings Day 1 Recap

Much ado about nothing. Let's see:
  • Correia may be non-tendered if he does not give the Pads a home town discount.
  • The scouting department reshuffling continues. I love to see Chris Gwynn in the news, because his huge double in the final game of the 1996 season to win the West for the Pads is invariable brought up. One of my favorite games of all time.
  • Reed Johnson? Really? A 30+ year old never-was is option number 1 for a right handed hitting outfielder? Sure, if you want a narrow band of lead-off-hitting-right-handed-center-fielder, you don't have many options, but clearly, isn't there some minor league prospect that could do just as well and maybe, just maybe, have a smidgen of upside?
  • In the same article, Moorad says all decisions going forward are baseball decisions, rather than financial decisions. That is the stupidest thing I have ever heard. If you set a budget at $40 million, there are no baseball decisions that are not financial decisions. They are one in the same. If it was strictly a baseball decision, there would be no financial constraints! And after reading the other 'highlights' from day one, (which I know are nothing but rumors, humor me) clearly those are all baseball decisions. Right.

In the rest of baseball, still nothing big. Is this the quietest off season in history?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Flash over substance

Oh great, another PR move. If you have seen any of the recent Charger games with Enberg doing the play by play, this is not good news. Sure he is iconic, but damn, the details count too! (Well, not on the radio broadcasts since about 1987, but that is a completely different topic.) He is constantly getting stuff wrong (players names, down and distance, etc.) and it is extremely annoying. I can see messing up when it is two DBs and one is 26 while the other is 28, but he gets Tomlinson and Sproles wrong almost every time. Come on! The last thing a Padre broadcast needs is another bumbling septuagenarian!

Mark Neely gets bagged on because he is not Mattie V. Duh! Mattie V was the best play by play guy the Pads have ever had, Neely was doomed for failure the moment he stepped in the booth.

I watch a lot of Padre games on TV, almost all of them when I am not at the game (and next year there will be 20 more I will be watching). Once you get past the fact that Mattie V is gone and won’t be coming back, Neely did a decent job. Mark y Mark got along well together, especially towards the end of the year, and given more time I think they would have gotten even better together.

Instead, we get Enberg who hasn’t done a baseball broadcast since T Gywnn Sr was 165 pounds. Since the Pads wore brown and yellow. Since the price of gas was $1. What a stupid idea.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Winter Meetings Preview

After weeks and weeks of absolutely nothing in the way of Padres news or rumors, we have next week's Winter Meetings to anxiously look forward to. Maybe some action, hopefully some action, hopefully something that gives us a hint as to what Mr Hoyer plans to do. At this point, anything will do!

Corey Brock's preview for is up today. (If more pop up, I will update this post.) As par for the course, no great insight into the plan for the Pads this off season, just one quote about the pieces they are looking for:
"Offensively, finding a right-handed-hitting outfielder is something I would
like to do," Hoyer said. "We would be looking for a trade or free agent to do
that. I think we would like to add a veteran starter or reliever or both."

A right handed hitting outfielder, starter or bench guy? Like Kyle Blanks? Another one to balance out the five if Oscar is not in the mix? Come on Corey, ask some pointed questions!

Veteran stater or reliever, it's just so generic. With KT that meant a castoff that another team gave up on, what does that mean now? The budget remains the same, I would have to think the definition still applies. This was a specialty of KT's, so it will be interesting to see how Mr Hoyer approaches the same task with the same resources. It should tell us fans something.
"I expect to be really busy in Indy," Hoyer said.

Doing what he doesn't say, because the first quote doesn't seem like much work! (Maybe there is hazing ritual for new GMs at these meetings. Maybe, like a fraternity, he has to be a go-fre for the rest of the club.) And if he is busy, I hope we hear something about it or see some results from it. Because this month long silence is freaking annoying!

Monday, November 16, 2009

It's quiet, too quiet

What is going on in Padre-land? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Say it again.

The GM meetings told Padre fans absolutely nothing about the future of the Pads. No local stories about them at all, no blurbs or off-the-cuffs from the front office at all. Not even one rumor, just a bunch of boy-the-BoSox-really-like-Adrian crap.

There was another puff piece on Mr Hoyer that tells us nothing new. Just a re-packaging of the old I'm afraid.

We do know there is a meeting with AG's agent coming this week, but odds are slim we get any insight as to what goes on. Not like we have hard-working, aggressive staff writers looking to get of the competition. There is no media competition in San Diego, and fewer Padre staff writers every day! Some one steal Mr Hoyer's magic binder that got him the job for crying out loud!

Sure, its only been three weeks, but the silence is deafening. We need some clues as to what the new regime is all about. What's the direction, what's the plan, what's the strategy? We need some leaked information, even if it's leaked just to fool us. Give us something dammit! Because most of all, we are hopelessly bored!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Death to the omniscient narrator!

In my novel, here is how Al, one of the main characters and narrator, describes himself:
I’m the storyteller. I will tell you that I’m not some omnipresent narrator
pretending to know the nuances and motivations of every single character in
every single instance of this story. I try to read minds, I infer, I theorize
for the sake of the story, I story tell, but alas, I am only human. I think it
would be philosophically irresponsible in today’s world, in this story in
particular, if I didn’t bring that up at the get go.

I am reading another story right now with the standard third-person omniscient narrator. I understand the literary and functional reasons for using such a narrator. It is easier to read from this point of view, and I assume it is probably easier to write this way as well. It is difficult to detail people's thoughts and motivations from any other perspective, because when you try, another person is involved and it muddles up the whole process. But that is the point! That is life!

There is a certain vanity to writing. In the act of creation, you are in total control of the world you are making. It's your world. You give existence to characters, you control entire worlds and what happens there within is completely up to you. I had to ask myself: Do I have a god complex? Do I fight this fight to give myself meaning? To make me, the writer, matter? Maybe. It's my world, my characters, and they do take on a life all their own. Al certainly is alive to me, I speak with him all of the time, in my head. He is one of the perspectives I have of the world, and anytime I view things from his slant, I feel he is the one talking through me. (No, I am not schizophrenic. Figuratively, not literally.)

As the story unfolds in your head in fits and jumps, you must then extract it from there effectively to display it to the real world. Along that journey, it's difficult to relent control of your world. It will always be your world, but once it's out there for everyone else, it changes. Such is the nature of art; it is a deeply personal experience for the artist, but as well for the audience, and you the artist cannot control everything about their experience.

With an omnipresent narrator, you are attempting to control that experience as much as possible. By listing every emotion, every motivation, you attempt to take away any other possibilities in order to keep control of your world. You are not only controlling the world you created, but how that world is interpreted by the masses. I feel that is not only an impossible goal, but an irresponsible goal as well.

There is no situation in life that lends itself to an omniscient narrator. You never know what is going on inside the person next to you, no matter how well you know them, you still don't know. You have to guess, you have to use your mind and work towards the various possibilities. But everyone sees things from their perspective, you cannot control that no matter how hard you try. And that is okay. Sure it can be messy without the all knowing, all seeing narrator guiding you, just as life can be messy without the all knowing, all seeing god to guide you. But that is okay as well. One thing many have forgotten since childhood, messy is fun!

If someone takes my story the wrong way, so it goes as Vonnegut would say. There will be interpretations that are inconceivable to me, possibilities I cannot imagine. I'm excited by that. Such is life. This unknown is not something to fear, but to enjoy.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Song of the day

I watched the movie Control last night (with no baseball on and limited attention span when it comes to any other sports, I tend to watch a lot of movies). I am a sucker for movies and documentaries about the late 70s music scene in England, both on the punk and post-punk sides of the fence. So, while flipping around last night trying to find something other than football to watch, I stumbled across this movie.

It is the story of Ian Curtis of Joy Division fame, that was enough to suck me in. I knew a little bit of the story and have been constantly surprised by how many Joy Division songs I recognized on the digital cable radio station I watch (when there is no baseball or movies to watch). Needless to say, I was totally engrossed and really enjoyed the movie despite the tremendous despair of the overall story. Turns out it is based on the book by his widow, which gives it more credence in my opinion.

One thing that bugged me was they give you a subtitle telling you it is 1973 in England in the beginning of the movie, but after that scene, you don't get any other dates nor are you told how old Ian was at that point. You just know he was school aged still. I guess if I knew the subject matter better, there are enough cultural references to play out the time line. But I don't, so it was difficult to tell how much time had played out. I was shocked at the end of the movie that he was only 23 when he died, it seemed like they were toiling in obscurity for longer than that. But that is a minor quibble, all in all a great movie.

Not really a song about Irrelevance, but the movie was very touching so I am making a song of the day post sans the Irrelevance tag line.

Love Will Tear Us Apart:
When routine bites hard,
And ambitions are low,
And resentment rides high,
But emotions won't grow,
And we're changing our ways,
Taking different roads.

Then love, love will tear us apart again.
Love, love will tear us apart again.

Why is the bedroom so cold?
You've turned away on your side.
Is my timing that flawed?
Our respect runs so dry.
Yet there's still this appeal
That we've kept through our lives.

But love, love will tear us apart again.
Love, love will tear us apart again.

You cry out in your sleep,
All my failings exposed.
And there's a taste in my mouth,
As desperation takes hold.
Just that something so good
Just can't function no more.

But love, love will tear us apart again.
Love, love will tear us apart again.
Love, love will tear us apart again.
Love, love will tear us apart again.

I am a big fan of artists that throw their whole lives at their art, and these poignant lyrics define the movie. What a song.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Goodbye to Edgar

The Padres out righted Edgar Gonzalez today. I was surprised.

I'm not surprised because spots on the 40-man roster are pretty important at this time of the year, not only to hide guys from the rule 5 draft, but also to have spots if you want to draft anyone in it as well. And you don't spend roster spots on defensively challenged back up infielders with average batting skills. You just don't. Especially if you have two of virtually the same guy, Edgar and Oscar. Oscar definitely hit better down the stretch, and they better believe he has a plus bat or is the better defensive player, otherwise his roster spot should be in jeopardy as well! (I was also surprised that Edgar is younger than Oscar, sure, just 14 days, but I assumed Oscar was much younger. Not sure why I assumed that.)

No, the reason I am surprised is just last week they talked about locking Adrian up long term. If you want to lock up Adrian long term at a discount, maybe you carry his brother on the roster for awhile to suck him in to the playing at home meme. Don't you want to play in your home town, with your brother? Who wouldn't?

When you cut his brother, right as contract talks start, you immediately remind him that this is a business. If it's a business, then the home town discount flies right out the window!

Of course, they could also be sending him a message that this is a business, and he'd better choose wisely because he can be shipped out just as easily! Not sure if I'd want to use that message, but it's a possibility.

Or, going even further in reading into this transaction, they have already discussed numbers with AG's camp, and they are so far removed from common ground that the idea of signing him is no longer even possible. Might as well dump Edgar if that's the situation, they need the roster spot for the 4 for 1 trade of Adrian!

(Welcome to the off season, where stuff like this is bounced around a hundred times in a hundred ways, because there is literally nothing else to do!)

Congrats to the Yankees

Sure, I wanted the Phillies to win. I at least wanted an extra game for this season. But I'm happy for the Yankees. It's been a long time since they last won, and the stigma of the evil empire wore off quite a few years ago when the Red Sox came back to beat them after being down 3-0. Lately, they've just been the teams that throws money at everyone and loses in the playoffs. Any teams that spends $1,578,300,000, the Yankee's salaries for 2001-2009, deserves a championship. (Or rather, any team that spends $1.6 billion dollars is bound to win a championship eventually.)

But I'm happy for George Steinbrenner, who seems to be on his last legs. Love him or hate him, in retrospect he was totally entertaining, and that is a big plus in my book.

I'm happy for A-Rod, for all the abuse he takes, he certainly deserves one title.

I'm happy for Brian Cashman, who seems like a good guy and maybe now everyone will leave him alone and let him run the team like he should have been doing the whole time.

I'm even happy for the obnoxious Yankee fans who finally got what they always feel they are entitled to.

But they better not win again next year, or start another run like the late 90s. I will let them have one, but if they start dominating again, I'll happily go back to hating the evil empire!

And now onto the off season! Come on Padres, make some noise!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Fox Trax

The Fox Trax branding is annoying me. Let me count the ways.
  1. Just spell Trax the correct way, misspelling it does not make the product unique. Stupid.
  2. Joe Buck spins it like Fox is revolutionary for having this information available, only its been around for years now. Knock it off.
  3. They randomly show the pitch stats and even the strike zone box. Don't tease me with it, show it to me on every play, or don't show it to me at all. I like the data, I get used to seeing the data, and it really annoys me when I can't see the data! (I will sometimes watch the Pads game and MLB Gamecast at the same time. It is hugely addicting to see the flight, speed and location of the pitch.)
  4. Use the strike zone like TBS did; just stick it in the HUGE empty space behind the right handed batter. That is completely wasted space on the HD broadcast, put that space to use.
  5. You don't have to talk to the graphic every time its on the screen. We viewers do not need to be told what it says, we can read.
  6. If we can't see it for every pitch, at the very least we need to see it on every close pitch. Show the replay with the strikezone graphic EVERY time.
  7. The speed at the plate is COMPLETELY useless! Its meaningless. If the ball gets to the plate, you've MISSED it already! What is it supposed to convey? The ball slows down as it approaches the plate. Duh, ya think? Are we supposed to think, oh, they don't throw that hard? That's ludicrous. This stat is not relative to anything. Maybe if we know that one pitcher had less velocity loss than others, that would be interesting information. But as of now, it tells you less than nothing. Why even show it?

I do like one piece of the Fox Trak: the time the batter has to make a decision. 4 tenths of a second, sometimes less. Even Cliff Lee's change up didn't make it to 5 tenths of a second. Just amazing. To steal that PGA slogan, these guys are good!

Adrian Gonzalez Extension

Jorge Says No had an interesting take on the Adrian Gonzalez extension question. I agree with him that something would have to be done this offseason. I think the longer it plays out, the more likely the two parties disagree on total value, and the more likely AG is traded. But I think the figures he throws out are very un-Padre like:
So how about this deal for Gonzalez and the Padres?
(5 years/$70 million)
Here is the contractual breakdown:
2010: $9 million
2011: $12 million
2012: $15 million
2013: $16 million
2014: $18 million

That replaces the $4.8M in 2010 and the 5.7M in 2010 he is currently contracted for and adds on three years. In the Moores/Towers world, I think any extension would have been added onto the existing deal, with no restructuring of the current amounts. I cannot see the figures for 2010 and 2011 doubling, that would be a deal breaker before anything even got started.

But we are now under the Moorad/Hoyer regime, and we fans have no track record with these two. But for Moorad, we can use his time at the d-backs and look for similar situations using Cot's Baseball Contracts.

The first comp that makes sense is Brandon Webb. He received a three year deal prior to 2004, covering 2004-2006 with an option for 2007, which I believe covered him until free agency. Before 2006, he received a 4 year extension, replacing the last year of his previous deal and the option year. For those two years, which were extremely club friendly at $2.5M and $4.5M respectively, he was essentially given the old contracted rate, the IP incentives were just added to the guaranteed money and no new money was added to the deal. Then the contract went up modestly by $1M each year until 2010's option of $8.5M. All in all, a very favorable contract for the team, which stayed favorable even after the extension.

Then next comp to consider is Dan Haren. He signed a four year deal with Oakland in 2005, covering 2006-2009 with an option for 2010. The option would have covered his first year of free agency. He was traded to Arizona before the 2008 season, and in August of that year signed a 4 year extension covering 2009-2012 with an option for 2013. In the original deal, here is what he was scheduled to make in 2009 and 2010:
2009 $5.5M with $0.75M in incentives
2010 $6.75M with $1.0M in incentives

This was replaced with:
2009 $7.5M
2010 $8.25M
2011 $12.75M
2012 $12.75M
2013 club option $15.5M

So, in both cases, the salaries under the existing contract did not change very dramatically.
So the d-backs added $1.75M to the exiting contract, before really ramping up the salaries in the new contract years.

Using these two transactions as the new model, I would expect the Padres to come up with something like this:
2010 $6.0M
2011 $7.0M
2012 $11.0M
2013 $13.0M
2014 $15.0M

That's 5 years, $52M. It adds $2.5M to the existing contract, and then spikes his salary to cover the next three years with figures that are club friendly to a small degree. It also allows the Padres a few years to get the payroll back to the $70M level where they can better afford AG's salary.

This does undervalue AG to a certain extent, but I think he would give a decent home town discount, on top of the usual San Diego discount everyone has to give to play here. It could be win-win.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

This is going to be good!

ShysterBall has his summary of the divorce papers filed by Jamie McCourt. I am definitely enjoying this saga way too much. I can't help it. Although it brings back painful memories of the 2008 and the first half of 2009 seasons as a result of the Moores divorce, it's almost exactly opposite that. With the Moores divorce, it seems no information was available, we were left wondering the whole time what, when, who, etc. It looks like this divorce in "Dodgertown, CA" is going to be played on the public stage! I want Jamie to get the team. I want to see Ned bring cut the Dodger salaries in half! Good times.

What's wrong with California?

Wasn't there a time when California was the most progressive state in the Union? (And yes, I read progressive to mean least religious.) I have always enjoyed the thought that California was different than the rest of the country. More tolerant, more open to new ideas and attitudes. I liked the thought of the rest of the country rolling their eyes at those crazy Californians, it fuels my anti-establishment bent.

After Prop 8 embarrassingly passed, I knew that time passed as well. But still, we at least had to be one of the top 10, right? Nope, at least according to the poll from last January. Sad.

On the bright side, being outside the top 10 keeps the evangelists off your back. It seems New England is being flooded with missionaries. My favorite quote:
Joe Souza, a Southern Baptist missionary working north of Boston. "It's like, you found a cure for cancer and you want to give it away and nobody wants it."

Yep, it's just like that Joe. Have fun New England!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Ballad of Jed Hoyer

The Ballad of Jed Hoyer by Mike Dark
(with apologies to Paul Henning of Beverly Hillbillies fame)

Come and listen to a story about a man named Jed
A poor New Englander, all curses in their head,
Then one day, he joins the local team
And wins came round, curses be dead

Titles that is, not one, but two

Well the first thing you know ol Jed's the new heir,
Kinfolk said "Jed move away from there"
Said "A GM is where you ought to be"
So he loaded up the truck and moved to Californy.

San Diego, that is. Petco Park, Padres Baseball

Well now its time to get to work for Jed and his new kin
And they would like to thank you folks fer kindly droppin in.
You're all invited back a gain to this locality
To see him turn around the Padres History

Rebuilding that is. Set a spell, Take your shoes off, have some breakfast

Y'all come back now, y'hear?.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Jed Hoyer, the Padres new General Manager

Jed Hoyer, former assistant General Manger of the Boston Red Sox, has been named as the new San Diego Padres General Manager. You can find out a little about Mr. Hoyer (he's 35, is he really Mr.-worthy? Am I the first to call him Mr. Hoyer?) from Wikipedia. I immediately take notice of the fact he used to be a pitcher, like Towers. Not that will mean anything about his future performance, it is just one of those things we latch onto to like a life raft in a stormy indecisive sea. Its comfortable, its familiar, and therefore it associates itself that way in my impression and I feel a bit of hope. It also appears he is a native New Englander. I hope he doesn't have a thick accent, that would be a bit annoying.

I found a great Q&A from Baseball Analysts, with solid questions regarding the philosophies of running a front office. It is a bit old, published in February 2007, but I wouldn't think its out of date at all. A couple of good quotes:

The money quote (from my speculative Moorad perspective); “As boring as it sounds, I believe that the most important thing is to have a well-constructed,
well-thought out process to player acquisitions.” Does a well-constructed, well-thought out process include contingencies to take payroll from $70M to $40M in two months? I'm thinking no, but hopefully, knock wood, that won't be a recurring problem around here.

I also liked this quote about some prospects: “…but we are going to be careful not to overheat the hype machine.” Its all about expectation management! No, he wasn’t talking about the 37-25 stretch to end the Pads season, but he will be!

At Baseball Prospectus, Will Carroll wrote an article in June 2008 about the next 10 names that would be showing up in GM searches. He had Mr. Hoyer as the number 1 name, with the following write up:

"Hoyer has been at Theo Epstein's right hand since the start of the Red Sox revival. Taking over as Assistant GM after Josh Byrnes left to head up the rebuilding of the Diamondbacks, Hoyer was mentioned by nearly everyone asked as "the next big thing." Given Byrnes' success in Arizona, the Boston slot seems charmed. Like many in the delegatory Sox front office, Hoyer has had his hands in the various areas of baseball operations and doesn't seem to have a pronounced weakness. Some may remember that Hoyer was briefly the co-GM of the Red Sox during Epstein's equally brief hiatus, a testament to John Henry's confidence in the young exec. (Being 34 isn't the knock it once was; maybe it's old for this new generation of front office talent.) Hoyer has made it clear that he's comfortable winning rings in Boston and would want a similar situation to what Byrnes has in Arizona before leaving."

I last thing I found was a recap of a chat at, a Red Sox fan blog, from September 8, 2008. Nothing interesting there however, just a bunch of worthless Red Sox questions.

In all, not a lot of web content about Mr. Hoyer. He has some big shoes to fill, and seemingly a lot to learn in switching from a cash cow to a small market team, but has a couple of things going for him. First, the relaxed and patient atmosphere of San Diego in which to work. More importantly, there is hardly any pressure in this situation, and no where to go but up.

Welcome and good luck Mr. Hoyer.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

It all comes down to this

My son did an art project at his Christian preschool last week. Here is a picture of it hanging on the fridge:

“I am special.” Its simplicity struck me.

That is the root of religion/theism. That is the hook that pulls you in, and holds you in. That is the choice, either you are special, or you are not. And boy, they hit you with it from the very beginning! (Not that I would tell a 4 year old anything different. As I have said before, I let my kids believe in fairy tales of all kinds: the Easter Bunny of course, Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, God, Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, etc. Its part of childhood and I don’t want to deny them their childhood.)

But it will always come back to this one question: Am I special?

Its the same question as: Am I an individual? Am I unique? Do I matter?

Sure religion is a divisive force in the world, and sure the Bible is a crock of shit, and Intelligent Design is anything but intelligent. But religion is the only game in town that believes I’m special, and I want to believe I’m special. So despite all of the messiness associated with theism, and in spite of the rational world that contradicts any deity, I choose to believe, because I want to be special.

The New Atheists can attack religion all they want, but very intelligent people cannot get past this one last hurdle, the belief in self. There has to be a me, a me that makes choices in this life, a me that matters. Meaninglessness is not an option.

For most anyways. We here at the Church of Irrelevance embrace meaninglessness. Free of the constraints of self is how we prefer to live.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Irrelevance song of the day

Happy Birthday Karl Wallinger! I heard on 94.9's This Date in Music History segment that today is his birthday, so I tuned my phone to World Party's Goodbye Jumbo on my commute to work today. Just an unbelievable album that never gets old. Anyway, track 8, God on my Side, inspired this post, as it is fantastic example of irrelevane in action in the world:

Well I seen you out there parading
In the streets of your distant land
In your strange caps and clothing
Shouting, "I don't understand."
But you, you look so loaded
It's somethin' I can't feel
But I'm into some God action
And maybe yours is real
'Cos I'm falling
I need your God on my side
I need your God on my side

Well I see you objecting so strongly
To the ways of the liberal disease
And your armchair satisfaction
As you narrow the meaning of free
And I dream of a home that is tidy
And a church full of money bees
And I wonder about the suppression
That you get when you're down on your knees
And I'm falling
I need your God on my side
I need your God on my side

God on my side ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh
God on my side ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh
God on my side ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh
God on my side ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh

Well I see you thought we could change the world
If we gather round and pray
But it's just like sending one letter
to more than just one place
But, "Dear God can you help us"
Must be the opening phrase
Cos we're falling
Need your God on my side
One I can call my own
I need my God on your side
Make a happy home
We need their God on our side
In search of him I will roam
Need our God on our side
Mine got up and left home
You need our God on your side
Ooh ooh ooh
Just noticed the release date on Amazon, April 1990. 1990! Man oh man, what a long time ago. Yet the song is just as appropriate as ever, showing how little change has taken place these last 19 years. Sad.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Irrelevance song of the day

Hell, for me, this is the song of the last year! It is from MGMT, off of Oracular Spectacular. The song is called Time to Pretend. I listen to it two or three mornings each week on my commute to my office job.

I'm feeling rough, I'm feeling raw, I'm in the prime of my life.
Let's make some music, make some money, find some models for wives.
I'll move to Paris, shoot some heroin, and fuck with the stars.
You man the island and the cocaine and the elegant cars.

This is our decision, to live fast and die young.
We've got the vision, now let's have some fun.
Yeah, it's overwhelming, but what else can we do.
Get jobs in offices, and wake up for the morning commute.

Forget about our mothers and our friends
We're fated to pretend
To pretend
We're fated to pretend
To pretend

I'll miss the playgrounds and the animals and digging up worms
I'll miss the comfort of my mother and the weight of the world
I'll miss my sister, miss my father, miss my dog and my home
Yeah, I'll miss the boredom and the freedom and the time spent alone.

There's really nothing, nothing we can do
Love must be forgotten, life can always start up anew.
The models will have children, we'll get a divorce
We'll find some more models, everything must run it's course.

We'll choke on our vomit and that will be the end
We were fated to pretend
To pretend
We're fated to pretend
To pretend

Yeah, yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah, yeah

The lead song off your first album, I'd say MGMT gets irrelevance! Just a brilliant, kick ass song!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Question of God

"Do you believe in God?"

I think the question of God is a very funny question, but to most it is such a serious subject they don't seem to understand it in my context. You have to re-phrase the question back to them:

"Do I believe in an omnipotent, omniscient entity that created the world five thousand years ago, that created people in his image, that demands the worship of and closely watches over all seven billion people, all the while adding to his naughty and nice list to determine who will gain entry into his eternal club upon their death? That God?"

"Too literal? Then do I believe everything we see/touch/feel/hear/taste was purposely created by one all powerful entity who should be revered for giving us the gift of life? That God?"

Either way, I would have to say no. An emphatic no.

It also works for meaninglessness.

"How could you believe your life has no meaning?"

"How could you believe, as one speck of a person among billions on this speck of dust circling one of billions of stars in this galaxy, which is one of billions of galaxies in the known universe, that your life does have meaning?"

Monday, October 12, 2009

Another Padres Offseason Preview

Dan Hayes at the NC Times lists the important questions for the Padres this offseason. Since he asked, I think the quick answers are keep AG and Blanks as he is fine in the OF, keep Bell for PR, trade Kouz, Hundley is fine, Tony Jr is a 4th outfielder and you can never, ever have enough starting pitching.

A couple of comments:
  • Another mention of the 37-25 stretch. If I was the Front Office, I would spend some time addressing that stretch. On his way out, Towers pointed to it as an indicator of the Pads being ready to contend next year. Moorad talked to it as well as a positive sign and part of the excellent job done by Towers this season. But, it just screams SMALL SAMPLE SIZE. And, with runs scored of 275 versus runs allowed of 259, Pythagoras would have had them at 4 games over .500 during that stretch instead of 12. I bet the new GM comes in trying to manage expectations a little better than has been done so far.
  • Another mention of how the Pads should have money to spend. Yes, maybe even $8-10M! What does that get you in today's game? You could get one aging star trying to re-establish some market value for a year. You could get an average starting pitcher if you are willing to do that range for at least 3. You could get a couple of veteran projects, guys that have plenty of service time, but for whatever reason have a hole in their game that keeps them from finding a home in a teams line up. In other words, not much!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Playoff rooting interests

As with most years, the Padres did not make the playoffs and I must choose foreign teams to root for in the playoffs. (Heck, even when the Pads make the playoffs, it is more likely they are 3 and done than advance deep into the playoffs. But that is neither here nor there.)

Now, this is very complicated in my book, made doubly tough this year by double the NL West teams in the dance this year. I am not one of those guys that says "hey, they beat us, but they represent our division, so I hope they go all the way." I root against the Dodgers, Rockies, Giants and Diamondbacks not just for 162 games, but all year round. This especially includes the playoffs, but also includes things like extensions to GMs (way to go Giants, keep Sabean on. Come on Dodgers, lock Ned up for a few more years!)

So let me break down my rooting interests this year, worst to first, and share my "logic":
  • Tied for 7th and 8th - Dodgers and Rockies. Rooting for two 3-0 sweeps of our NL West colleagues. There is literally no situation that can force me to root for the NL West. And even though I am a staunch NL guy, if either of these teams makes the World Series, I will cheer for the AL. I have done it three times this decade, and I'm not one bit ashamed to admit it.
  • 6th - Red Sox. Three words: Red Sox Nation. The next three: Sick of you!
  • 5th - Cardinals. I don't like Tony LaRussa. The Cards just own the Padres. Regular season, post season, its just ridgoddamndiculous and I would cheer for every other team on this list ahead of them. Yes, even the Yankees.
  • 4th - Yankees. They have spent eleventy billion dollars since their last title, I think that's enough to buy a trophy. Besides, George doesn't look so good in the pictures published nowadays, and love him or hate him, giving him one more title wouldn't be that bad. He loves baseball, and was good for the game. I can admit that. And 1998 was such a long, long time ago that I can also admit, yes, the Yanks were damn good that year.
  • 3rd - Twins. Small market. Miracle run to get in the dance. Last year of the Metrodome. Get those towels ready, seems like we've been down this path before, and it ends up with a party in the Twin Cities more often than not. (And my uncle is a diehard Twins fan.)
  • 2nd - Angels. The only NL team in the AL, with a couple aging NL stars in Vlad and Bobby going for one last shot at a title. Our So Cal brethren. An easy choice at number 2, only some staunch NL loyalty keeps them out of the top spot.
  • 1st - Phillies. The only worthy, that is Padre loving worthy, team to root for from the NL this year, that automatically makes them #1. Utley is so good you can't help but root for him. I can see Cole Hamels high school from my house and my boys will go there someday. Howard sought out T Gwynn for advice a few years ago, that kind of goodwill goes a long way. The flying Hawaiian played at Qualcomm for a year. See, lots of reasons for them to hold the top spot. And some of them are even logical. Go Phillies!

Unintentional comedy link of the day

I was on ScienceBlogs this morning, reading Dispatches from the Culture Wars when I learned about Conservadpedia, The Truthful Encyclopedia (that was my favorite part. Right when the site pops up, The Truthful Encyclopedia as part of their logo just screams at you. Big laughs.) A link was posted, which I followed, showing re-definitions of both conservative and liberal terms. A few of the more entertaining ones, new conservative terms first:
    • Force-feed: what liberals do to students in public schools today in training them to be atheistic socialists
    • Insightful: what conservatism is about: gaining insights into the truth, and bettering individuals and society with them
    • Ivory tower: a description of the pampered culture of liberal professors, and how far out of touch with the truth it is
Force-feed made me laugh, but for highly personal reasons. We recently put my 4 year old in a Christian preschool down the street, which never bothered me because I think preschool is primarily for socialization, and this school is budget friendly. Yesterday, he is walking around signing parts of a song about how Jesus loves him. I expected religious art projects and such, but this took me back a little bit. Force-fed perhaps? I countered with Spider-Man loves him too, as we were putting on his Spider-man jammies, leading to this exchange:

Him: And Spider-man loves everyone?
Me: Of course.
Him: And Spider-man saves the world?
Me: Yep.
Him: But why?
Me: Because Spider-man is a nice guy, and that is what nice guys do.

Needless to say, I'm now regretting this Christian preschool!

Back to the post at hand. Here are some shocking liberal term definitions:
    • Environmentalism: a mixture of pseudoscience and neo-paganism used to justify the imposition of socialistic controls.
    • Global warming: The baseless environmentalist mantra that the earth's temperature is rising, and that human intervention is the cause.

Scary, yet funny at the same time. Turns out there's a term for that besides unintentional comedy. Its another thing I learned today reading the comments of the Dispatches original post, Poe’s Law (I don't get out much apparently, because from the comments it sounds like this has been around awhile): “Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humor, it is impossible to create a parody of Fundamentalism that SOMEONE won't mistake for the real thing."

So unintentional comedy to me, Poe's Law to the everyone else, but entertaining no matter what you call it!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Offseason previews

The UT had their offseason preview today, and MLBTradeRumors ran theirs last week.

With payroll in the $40Ms, the new GM should have some room to make changes to the big league roster. Both articles suggest trades this offseason of arbitration eligible players; UT points to Kooz, due to the overlap of his and Headley's skill sets, and MLBTR says it should be Bell, to sell high. I agree on Kooz, especially if he can win the Gold Glove the Pads were campaigning for, because his value may never be any higher either. One of Kooz or Headley has got to go, and since Kooz is more expensive, I would bet it would be him.

I cannot see a new GM coming in and trading Bell. I could have seen Towers trading him, because he brought him in for nothing and has always been able to put a bullpen together from the scrap heap. But a new GM faces a number of hurdles:
  • he would have to get a ton for him
  • it would immediately start comparisons with Towers and remind everyone that Towers brought him in for nothing
  • with the big change on Friday, losing one of the few immediately recognizable guys on the team would be another PR issue for the team

Not to say that any of these cannot be overcome. Just altogether, it makes a deal unlikely in my mind. I also think selling high is always a good idea. If we could count on Adams to stay healthy, I think its a no-brainer. But you can't, so it would be risky.

As always, they could use a big corner bat to help with the middle of the lineup. I would feel comfortable with the everyday lineup with one more hitter in the outfield, joining Venable in center and Blanks at the other corner. The infield is set with AG, Eck, Everth and Headley/Kooz. I think Hundley will get a little bit better behind the dish and stay above replacement level. That could be an above average lineup.

That leaves the rotation as the biggest question. And it starts with can we believe the performances we have seen, or were they just good (misleading) streaks? Is Correia's improvement for real? Is Richard a solid major league starter? Will CY stay healthy for a full season? Will the real Wade LeBlanc please stand up? How many innings will Latos be available for next year? There are a dozen internal candidates for the 5 spots, but do any give you the warm and fuzzy comfortable feeling?

I think that was KT's biggest plus, he knew pitchers. Pitching drives the team's performance. Its nice to have a good offense, but you need a good staff to compete. You can look at the stats all you want, and that may allow you to put together an effective pitching staff, but it made me comfortable that Towers had that gift of evaluating pitchers. When to buy (Heath Bell), when to sell (Adam Eaton), that's the most important thing Towers brought to the Pads for the last 15 years. And that will be hard to replace. And it will take time to get comfortable with the new GM, whoever they may be.

But change happens. Past performance doesn't guarantee future returns. It is what it is. Worry about the things you can control. Go ahead and pick your cliche. I am not making these decisions, so I don't fret over these decisions that are made. Lets see who comes in, and lets see their plan of attack. In the end, we all want the same thing, the Pads winning some games.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Unintentional comedy link of the day

Thanks to Greg Laden's Blog, I came across the site this morning. Too much fun. Right from the get go, the header states "Supernatural chance or supernatural creator?" Uh, can I go with random chance, does it have to be supernatural?

I clicked on the Junk DNA tab, "The biggest blunder of evolutionary science". It makes a big deal that science got junk DNA all wrong, it is actually useful based on the latest studies by other scientists. I guess that is supposed to convince me that science is wrong, all of evolution must therefore be wrong, just as creationists KNEW all along! "You should have listened to us" is what they imply. Except that its not creationists debunking the science, its other scientists! So, isn't science still right?

That's the great thing about scientists, they don't just believe what they are told. Scientists once thought the earth was the center of the universe (albeit based on some misleading information passed around as TRUTH), then figured out it was not, and changed their minds! Scientists have been wrong thousands of times, which they will readily admit, and other scientists have always been there to correct any mistakes and further add to the knowledge.

Creationists have been wrong just one time, but have yet to acknowledge it and have not tried to correct it in any way. But I for one am glad about that. I appreciate their effort and enjoy their twisted logic. Without them, I wouldn't have had such a good laugh to kick off my Friday morning.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Happy Blasphemy Day!

The Center for Inquiry is sponsoring a Blasphemy Contest to honor Blasphemy Day. The kicker is a 20 word limit on each entry. They are asking for limericks or haikus, but I had another idea. But 20 words was very restricting.

My entries were as follows:
Psalm 14 - The fool hath said in his heart, there’s no Easter Bunny.
They’re corrupt, they’ve done abominable works

Psalm 18 - I will love thee, O Easter bunny, my strength. The Easter Bunny
is my rock, my fortress

(Yes, its borderline plagarism of the word of god. But its also satire, so hopefully I don't get disqualified.)

The 20 word limit excluded my personal favorite:
Psalm 25 - Unto thee, O Easter Bunny, do I lift up my soul. O my Easter Bunny, I
trust in thee

22 words, Easter Bunny dammit!

This is a lot of fun, I may have to continue to add to the word of Easter Bunny. "In the beginning the Easter Bunny created both the heavens and the earth..."

Press release by Fuego

We are just starting to market the book, the press release can be found here.

As with everything, any and all feedback is welcome.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Are you FAKKING kidding me?

I sent my new Padre account rep the following email on Saturday:

“Dear Mr. Wuller,

I received my season ticket renewal package today and I could not be more disappointed. For the last few weeks, all Padre fans have heard was how 2010 prices would be going down and season ticket holders would receive more value for their money. The cover letter in the season ticket package reinforces these messages, and even states "We have reduced 86% of season ticket prices and kept the remainder flat (with 2009 prices). We know the economy remains challenging, and we're doing our part to keep PETCO Park affordable."

Imagine my dismay at seeing that our ticket prices were not reduced, were not even flat at 2009 levels, but actually INCREASED by 11%! I'm insulted and angry. Clearly the value spin is nothing more than that, marketing spin!

I can only hope there is a mistake in the invoice I received. If not, I doubt I will be renewing my seats for 2010. Please contact me as soon as you can to clarify my invoice, you have my email address and my phone number is listed below.


I received this response today:

“Good Morning Mr. Dark,

Thank you for your email regarding your 2010 renewal package.

I apologize if the message sent out by the Padres is unclear. When comparing
prices for our 20 Game Season Ticket Holders we look at the price compared to
NON-Season Holders.

In the Left Field Lower Box section the price per ticket will be $27 but for you it will be $20/ticket. We have also lowered the price for Season Ticket Parking from $18 to $10, and your tickets for Opening Day will be lowered to $20 (down $8 from last year).

Please let me know if you have any other questions at all. I am always happy to

Jeff Wuller

Account Specialist”

That explains it…NOT! It makes it worse! While the seats in lower left are going down for the general public from $28 to $27, the 20 game season ticket holder price is not going down a $1 as well, not staying flat, but going up $2! And this is after stating 86% are going down and the rest are flat. Except for you Mike.

What’s the message here? Is it:

  • Since I haven’t quit on the team already, I probably never will so go ahead and gouge me next year.
  • My loyalty in being one of the handfull of remaining season ticket holders is worth less than nothing.
  • An agent is running the show and using the media for spin is covered in Agent 101.
  • 20 season ticket holders are not real season ticket holders.
  • all of the above.

I could not be more disappointed. Before Saturday, I never even considered dropping my season tickets, never wavered on my support for my team. But this is wrong.

On the bright side, I really can't afford them anyways.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


I love how Pharyngula fans attack pointless online polls and flip the results around. In the latest edition, CNN had a poll asking if you believed in god, and when PZ posted it, 31% said "No". In reviewing the comments, "No" climbed as high as 68%! That's Pharyngulization! Too funny.

Imagine wielding the kind of power PZ has in his hands! I would not be able to contain myself and would attack all sorts of stupid polls. Imagine a SF Gate poll asking if the Giants should trade Cain or Linecum for pitching with a 95% "Yes" vote due to all of the Padre fans attacking the poll. Get them outa here! Or a LA Times poll asking if the Dodgers should trade more prospects for proven major league veterans with a 95% "Yes" vote! Keep up the good work Ned. Not that I would expect these polls to ever affect the team's policy decisions, but you never know!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Oh so close last night

Chase Headley had a monster game with a single, three doubles and a homer. A triple short of a cycle, so close. Heath even blew the save to get Chase another AB in the 11th. When Chase roped it down the line in that AB, I was hoping for a funny carom or the RF crashing into the wall, but alas, just his third double of the evening. Total bases 10 and 11. Nice. But ooohhh so close.

Sure a cycle is truly an irrelevant feat, a statistical oddity at best, completely meaningless at worst. But its the little things like this that make baseball so much fun! Just one cycle is all Padre fans want. Well that and one measly no-no. Is that too much to ask?

The Channel 4 broadcast just mentioned a Padres player has had three legs of a cycle 320 times. 320! Who knew? That averages 8 times per the 40 seasons, which is pretty close to the nine times this year it has happened. 9 times? I certainly don't remember that.

I don't think you should count the times when a guy gets his third hit with his last AB. Sure he has three legs of the cycle, but he never had a chance at a cycle. How many times did a Padre player come to the plate with a chance at a cycle? That has to be a much, much lower number.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Stories like this scare me

I found this link at The Reason Project: The Nightmare of Christianity

I am very afraid this will become an all too familiar story: person brought up in a ultra rigid religious way, and hence completely without touch to the rest of the world, finds out about the rest of the world and cannot reconcile the two, leading to personal confusion, distrust, hatred and violence. This may be the new frontier of the spiritual war. That part is not too surprising honestly.

But there was one line in the article that stood out :
"Murray had been indoctrinated so thoroughly into charismatic Pentecostal
culture, however, that even while he railed against his religious upbringing, he
could not abandon his ingrained attraction to religiosity."

An attraction to religiousity. Seems to hit home pretty hard. Isn't the creation of alternative (read fake) churches a continued attraction to religiousity? Even irrelevance itself, is that nothing more than continued religiousity?

As I read the New Athiest books, one thing that always struck me as over the top was the railing against teaching religion to kids. Indoctrination. Please. I let my kids believe in Santa, in the Easter Bunny, and in God and heaven. They are the comforts of childhood, harmless. I rationalized that I was indoctrinated, and I felt it had no effect on me as it means next to nothing to me now. But do I have a continued attraction to religiousity? Heck, the novel is about nothing but the attaction to religiousity!

What does it mean? I'm not sure, but it sure keeps me thinking! And that is the most important part of all.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Let's hear it for...

your 4th place Padres! Out of the cellar! The sun's a little brighter up here in 4th, birds chiping, the sounds of children's laughter, even the air smells cleaner. Its nice to be out of the cellar.

And since the disaster of the Cardinals series, the Pads have won 5 series in a row, 4 of which were on the road! If you take out both home and away sets against the Cards, the last team to beat the Pads in a series was Atlanta on August 3-5. That's 8 series wins and just two series losses since August 6. (I am damn sick of writing the Cardinals in the post, are you sick of hearing about it? Something must be done next year! Beating the Cards has to be a priority.) Its definitely progress.

And has the Wade LeBlanc we heard about for three years finally arrived? Lets hope so.

And I'm also sick of starting sentences with and.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Irrelevance link of the day

I was reading the always fun TMQ, and he included a link with the following write up:

The map contains about 100,000 dots. The dots are not stars; each dot represents
a galaxy, and galaxies are thought to average about 100 billion stars each. Thus
the area depicted contains holds roughly 10 to the 15th power stars, a number
far too huge to bother attempting to fathom. And the map merely shows galaxies
nearby. Our galaxy, the Milky Way, is at the center of the map. On the cosmic
scale, a place with 100 billion stars is a dot.

In that context, view the photo, and revel in irrelevance!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Put on your rose colored glasses

After another win for the Padres last night, it struck me that the young team has been playing pretty good of late. But since I never trust my feelings on statements such as that, I dug into the numbers to see if they support that conclusion. Using MLB's sortable stats, I compared the Pads stats over the last 30 days to their results based on the entire season.

16-12 over the last 30 days, who woulda thunk it? Their runs scored equals their runs allowed, so you would expect them to go 14-14, but even still, .500 ball, even for a month, is a relief after these last two seasons!

Offensive stats comparison:
Season Last 30
AVG .240 .277
OBP .317 .352
SLG .382 .437

They have the second best OBP in the national league over the last 30 days, versus 14th for the season. Their SLG is up to 6th versus 15th on the season. Not too bad. Runs per game is 3.85 on the season, but 4.64 in the last 30 days, and they played 17 of the 28 games at home during that time frame as well. I can't factor that in, but they are well above average offensively for these last 30 days. (And I don't want to hear anything about sample sizes, just keep those rose colored glasses in place)

Pitching Stats comparison:

Season Last 30
OBA .337 .342
SLG .420 .396
WHIP 1.42 1.45
K/9 7.2 7.0
BB/9 3.7 4.1

Runs per game did drop for the last 30 days to 4.6 per game, versus 5.0 for the season, but still a below average staff across the board. I would guess the 17 home games helped the SLG drop. The strikeout and walk rates are still below average over the last 30 days, with the K rate decreasing versus the season rate. Not the prettiest picture here. I did not take the time to break it down between starters and the pen, and you can come to your own anecdotal conclusions there, but it really doesn't matter. The 2010 Padres will go as their pitching takes them, and they have a lot of work to do on the staff.

But, they did add a number of young arms the last couple of months, and will have some room to spend if the budget stays in the $40M range. (Rose colored glasses people!) If some of these arms can get plugged into the rotation next year (Gallagher, Poreda), at the very least we will have an exciting, young team with a decent chance at .500 ball. I'd take that. They can only go up, so we've got that going for us.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Irrelevance link of the day

A basic building block for life is found in space.

It will be interesting to see how long it takes for someone to come out and refute these findings. People 'round here don't take kindly to these kinds of ideas. You know, the ones were we are just another spec of cosmic space dust, not the center of the universe. I'll put the over/under at a week; I partially expect a immediated, but unsubstatiated, personal attack on the researchers, but I can also see a real attempt at disproving the findings that may take a while longer. At a week, you can see the former feels more likely to me than the latter!

So I'm watching the Little League World Series last night

It was the East Regional Final, not actually the World Series, but its billed as the Little League World Series even though that hasn't started yet. A matchup between New York and New Jersey, sounds like a blood bath, doesn't it?

(One thing I can't get over is how big these kids are. My son and I were watching the other day, and we finally saw a small kid, and he was only 5 ft tall...only? My son is an above average 9 year old, and he's only like 4' 5" or so. I wasn't 5 ft tall until the eighth grade, and this five footer is clearly the smallest kid on the field! Most of the kids are 5' 4", with a few up to 5' 8". Are we sure these kids are all 12? The kids in majors at our little league aren't this giant! Sure one or two, but the All Star team was not a team of the biggest kids in the league. Is that what happens in the summer tournament, the biggest teams survive and advance?)

Anyway, back to my original thought. As they introduced the teams, the kids all said their name and their favorite players. For the New York team, every kids favorite player was Jason Marquis. I'm not kidding, maybe two had a different answer, the rest all said Jason Marquis. At first, I thought I was not hearing them correctly, like maybe it was a hockey name I wasn't familiar with. Then I thought maybe there was a kid on their team with that name and they were saying his name as a goof. Then I took that thought one step further, and maybe the goof was everybody was saying Jason Marquis just to be a smart ass: "Hey guys, when they ask you your favorite player, just say Jason Marquis, it will be hilarious!" And it would have been hilarious if that was the reason! Alas, after the introductions were done, the announcers explained that Jason Marquis was from the same Little League, and the kids were sincere in stating he is their favorite player. What a let down! Its nice of the kids and all, but man, it was way funnier in my head!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Farewell to Peavy

I have waited a bit to write this in an effort to stay somewhat even keeled.

Let me just say right off that I love Jake Peavy. I love watching him pitch, watching him yell at himself, watching him throw his body into his delivery and recklessly diving whenever the need arises. Even in the batters box, he wasn't giving anything up. He is the epitome of competitiveness, just an absolute joy to have on your side in a baseball game.

I just happened to be at his very impressive debut versus the Yankees at Qualcomm, and dozens of other starts since then. I still feel the sting of the strike (check swing or called, either way it was a strike dammit) that wasn't called in Arizona that prevented him from tying Seavers 10 consecutive strikeout record. I fully believed he would be the guy to throw the Pads first no-no. And I wouldn't have cared if he was taking up 30% of the teams payroll next year, he is fun to watch. He is entertaining all by himself.

When the trade first was announced, the first I saw was a Jon Heyman tweet at, I literally thought it was a mistake. Jon's tweet device must have submitted old data somehow, there is no way Peavy was sent to the White Sox AGAIN?!? We went down that road in May, he rejected it, the very thought of it made me laugh at the sheer impossibility of it. Had to be a mistake. Well, clearly it wasn't a mistake.

But I am not one of those I'll-never-watch-the-Pads-again reactionaries. I'm not cancelling my season tickets. And I'm not one to think that, from the outside looking in, that I could do a better job than the front office. It is not my job to construct the roster and it is not my job to balance the revenues versus expenses. So I don't worry about it. I watch and cheer on the Padres, whoever they may be. That is my sole job as a fan.

So to Jake, I will miss watching you play on a start by start basis. I wish you the best of luck in everything you do, and hope you are wildly successful with the ChiSox and beyond.

Onto the future. This season has been about 2010 since about the second week of April, and lately the front office has added many pieces to the puzzle. Let's hope a few of these guys pan out and make an impact.

The Creation Museum in Kentucky

I have seen a few articles about the Creation Museum in Kentucky (such as here and here) and it also had a part in Bill Mahr's Religiousity movie. Each time I've come across it, I have had a good laugh: the concept is an unintentional comedy dream!

I imagine the museum exhibits alone would be enough to entertain me for an entire day. The pictures and video clips I have seen leave me partly dumbfounded, and partly hysterical with joy. Such an interesting combination of emotions. Add in the thought of the time, effort and money spent on each and every exhibit and I get into a tither with excitement.

But better still would be watching the sincere museum attendees as they wander through the museum. I know they should be a frightening display of the power of belief, but their sincerity renders them as sheep on the frightening scale of predators. Rather than go through every exhibit, it might be more fun to bring in some beach charis, a cooler of beer and camp out at one carefully chosen exhibit to watch the show of passer-byes. Like watching the people show along a boardwalk, only many times funnier!

I would love to pack the family in the car and take them on a day trip to the museum, what a fun filled family adventure that would be for the boys! Alas, Kentucky is not day-trip-able from beautiful SD. And I'm certainly not flying specifically to Kentucky for it, mostly due to the cost but also due to an innate fear of the South. But somehow, sometime, we will go hundreds of miles out of our way to see it, it is now must-see Americana.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Trade Deadline Day

Sounds like it might be a quiet day in MLB today. Most of the rumors I've read all include 'highly unlikely' in some form or another. That is no fun.

The only Padre rumors out there are Heath to the Marlins, Adrian to the Red Sox, or Heath and Adrian to the Red Sox. That would be quite the blockbuster, but a PR nightmare on the home front trading one or both of the 2009 Padre All-Stars.

For me, I like change. I enjoy watching Adrian and Heath play just as much as the next guy, but they are part of a team that is horrible. And it gets real tiresome watching a horrible team day in and day out, even with these two studs on the team. It is the day in and day out grind that is important, even more so than the standings.

The Pads were near the top of the standings in 2005, 2006 and 2007, and those teams were painful to watch on a day to day basis. Just painful, and winning did not mask that at all. Not to me.

Day in and day out, you mostly want a team that plays hard. You want a team that is solid in every phase of the game, and not consistently deficient in one area that drives you crazy, likes nails on the chalkboard, convulsion inducing crazy. You want a team with a good chance to win, maybe not today, but in the near future as the kids learn to be pros. Winning is flukey. We're Padre fans, we understand failure (not counting the bandwagon fans here), we just need a little hope to go with the loses.

So lets mix it up some, throw some more shit at the wall to see what sticks. Public relations is a stupid reason for any decision, if someone puts a good package together, pull the trigger. If they could get 6 good prospects for Adrian and Heath combined, I'd be okay with that. Sell high!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Farewell to The CLA!

Cla Meredith is on his way to the Baltimore Orioles, and I wish him all the best. I am sure this trade will be bashed by others, but that is only because of the tremendous start Cla had to his Padre career. When he came over from the Red Sox in the Mirabelli trade in 2006, he immediately stepped into the bullpen and became a force of nature. He had that sidearm sinker working to perfection, and every time he came into the game, no matter what the situation, he would deliver. Bases jammed needing a groundball for a double play, here you go. Need to get through the 7th and hold the lead, here you go, one two three. He was unstoppable, and a huge part of a division winning team that year. And man, it was fun having The Claw on our side.

But that was three years ago. The last couple of years, he has been hittable, nowhere close to the automatic Cla we got to see in 2006. Not sure if his stuff isn’t the same, or if the league has made its adjustment and is waiting for Cla to respond. This year, when he came into games and you just weren’t sure what you were going to get. The safe feeling is gone, he is a run of the mill reliever nowadays. Also, he was about to be a lot more expensive in 2010, and his effectiveness does not warrant that kind of pay check.

So off he goes to Baltimore for some backup infield fodder (no offense meant to Salazar, but if you are a 31 year old rookie utility infielder, you are fodder, face the fact and do your job). Maybe the new league will be slow to adapt to Cla and he can have another run. I wish him the best of luck, because its probably going to take some luck this time around.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Irrelevance and Morality

The question of Morality™ is viewed in the Christian apologist books I have read as the quintessential reason for religion. They essentially attempt to make morality a trademark of religion, as if before religion there was no morality. Never mind that many disparate religions have the same morality, that is not relevant. And never mind any of the other completely rational dismissals of this presented in the New Atheist literature, those especially are not relevant as they are seeds of the Devil.

Be real. Morality really comes down to common sense. The golden rule is sheer common sense. If that does not make sense to you (and I do admit common sense is not as common as many would have you believe), if you still feel the need for guiding principles in life, I have the following rule to guide you through the maze of religious morality: Any time you see a moral code/fable/law/etc., switch God/Bible/Mohammad/Buddha/etc. with Easter Bunny. If it still makes sense, most likely it is a good example of morality.

Take the ten commandments as an example (if this list of ten commandments does not exactly match your particular religious sect, you have my insincere apology). The revised version is as follows:
  1. The Easter Bunny says you shall have no other gods before me (pretty arrogant of the EB and completely pointless)
  2. The Easter Bunny says you shall not use The Easter Bunny's name in vein (Easter Bunny dammit! What is the harm in that? It's actually really funny and would immediately lighten your mood.)
  3. The Easter Bunny says remember the Sabbath and keep it holy (complete nonsense)
  4. The Easter Bunny says honor your father and mother (seems reasonable and rational)
  5. The Easter Bunny says you shall not murder (again, perfectly reasonable)
  6. The Easter Bunny says you shall not commit adultery (probably a good idea if you want to stay married)
  7. The Easter Bunny says you shall not steal (straight forward)
  8. The Easter Bunny says you shall not bear false witness against your neighbor (lying, definitely not a good idea)
  9. The Easter Bunny says you shall not covet your neighbor's wife (sort of a repeat of 6, but whatever)
  10. The Easter Bunny says you shall not covet anything that belongs to your neighbor (you mean like wishing you could steal from him?)
Without question, by following only those that pass the Easter Bunny test, you would live a moral life. And you could do so without the crutch of religion. Unless you count the worship of the Easter Bunny as a religion, which I don't, its more of a hobby really.

The Spiritual War and Irrelevance

The Spiritual War

“We're the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War's a spiritual war... our Great Depression is our lives.” -Fight Club (movie), screenplay by Jim Uhls, directed by David Fincher, based on the novel by Chuck Palahniuk.

The landscape of American spirituality is undergoing a dramatic shift. Based on the American Religious Identification Survey of 2008(1), the largest religious affiliation shift has been to no organized religion, which has more than doubled in size from an estimated 14 million adults in 1990 to 34 million in 2008. This shift has enabled a litany of New York Times best sellers from the New Atheists (this list is not meant to be all inclusive):

  • The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason, by Sam Harris (2005)
  • The God Delusion, by Richard Dawkins (2006)
  • Letter to a Christian Nation, by Sam Harris (2006)
  • Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon, by Daniel C. Dennett (2006)
  • God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, by Christopher Hitchens (2007)

The rhetoric is highly similar: religion is a by product of human evolution; we have evolved to a point that we no longer need religion; reason should replace religion; religion is inherently dangerous to boot. These writers, and their growing legion of followers, have been labeled as the aggressive atheists. This is hardly surprising; what minority, when speaking out against the majority, was not viewed as aggressive?

The moral majority view point is responding to this growing atheist voice with best sellers of their own:

  • unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity, by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons (2007);
  • The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism, by Timothy Keller (2008)
  • Why Faith Matters, by David J. Wolpe (2008)

Once again, the rhetoric is highly similar: religion is necessary for Morality™ (Morality is a trademark of Organized Religion, all rights reserved); God is truth; the Bible is the word of God so it must be true; evolution nor science nor any other man made ideas that contradict the Bible can possible be true. This deep-rooted, but eroding majority has become increasingly defensive over the last decade, even developing the intelligent design ‘theory’ in an effort to discount evolution and return theology to the realm of science.

Yet even as legions are leaving organized religion, and in spite of the high level of publicity generated around atheism, the sentiment towards this group remains decidedly negative, further agitating a growing minority. In 2007, USA Today/Gallup conducted a poll(2) to gauge the tolerance of voters towards specific minorities. The findings were startling. Pollsters were asked “If your party nominated a generally well-qualified person for president who happened to be (blank), would you vote for that person?” The table below summarizes the yes votes by qualification:

Black 94%
Female 88%
Hispanic 87%
Mormon 72%
Homosexual 55%
Atheist 45%

In many cases, the poll results showed the growing tolerance of America. In comparing the recent poll to responses from the 1987 poll, 15% more were accepting of a black candidate and 6% more for a woman. Since 1983, 26% more polled were accepting of a homosexual. These results represent a positive snapshot of the progress of American minorities. Accept in one case: atheism. In 1987, 44% would vote for an atheist, over twenty years later that had improved by just 1%.

The moral majority remains fervent in their worldview and distrustful of the non-religious. The growing minority, buoyed with solace that they are not alone, continues to feel the strain of being the minority. The gulf between the two remains wide, with no empathy in either side as each side sees it as a black and white issue: there is right, there is wrong, and the TRUTH tells you which is which. The TRUTH is infallible, and anyone not believing in their version of the TRUTH is horribly wrong. One side gets its TRUTH from deductive reasoning, the other gets its TRUTH from an 1,800 year old collection of fables and a ton of faith. No solution, it is war.

Irrelevance not war

Irrelevance believes in no TRUTH, and instead laughs while watching both sides butting their heads into proverbial walls. The posturing of the moral majority is unintentional comedy of the highest quality, for example: evolution is false because of "reliable eyewitness testimony", meaning the Bible! You can’t make this stuff up, I giggle every time I read “reliable eyewitness testimony”.

The new atheists are also very entertaining as they endlessly spar with religion with a conviction that you can actually spar with religion, when in reality it would be easier to logically disprove Santa to a devote 6 year old. (I understand the reason, I appreciate the effort, but come on, do you really think you are changing people’s minds? Paradigm shifts pass as generations pass; the Copernican sun-centric view only took firm hold after the last of the earth-centric holdouts passed to their graves.)

Irrelevance is content to sit back and watch the show, diligently following the latest advances science has to offer, offering its help to spiritual war survivors, yet quietly understanding the meaninglessness of the self.


  1. "American Religious Identification Survey (2008)," by Barry A. Kosmin and Ariela Keysar, at
  2. “Some Americans Reluctant to Vote for Mormon, 72-Year-Old Presidential Candidates,” by Jeffrey M. Jones, Gallup News Service, at
The Out Campaign: Scarlet Letter of Atheism