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

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

All-Star Game

I'm a sucker for the All-Star game, I can admit that. I love the pageantry with the bunting and every player introduced before the game. I always remember waiting to see our Padre (usually there was just one, but luckily many, many years it was T Gwynn and he started) announced in this national broadcast. I loved that the NL used to win every year, which now seems like a very long time ago.

When I was growing up, it was see tv. Our tv died one year on the exact day of the all-star game, so when Dad got home from work, he went out and got a 13" color tv to get us through the game until the console could be fixed. (One tv in the entire house, memo to self, tell the kids this story. That will get them off the "we-need-a-flat-screen-for-our-room" kick.) Every year we watched the game growing up, and usually by the third inning we were out front playing wiffle or sock ball, using the all-star lineups, emulating batting stances and even switch hitting if necessary. If you have never tried to bat like Ricky Henderson, give it go sometime, it is hard!

For a few years at the beginning of this decade we had an all-star game party at the house each year. 2003's party ended going way late into the night across the street at the neighbors house, fueled in part by rally shots during the game, including the now infamous Anti-Gagne rally shot that cost the NL the game. In hindsight, considering the losing streak the NL is currently on, it was probably not a good idea. But he was a Dodger, it couldn't be helped. And in our defense, he had a two run lead during the middle of his unreal 2003 Cy Young season, whodathunkit?

Nothing has really changed. Still must see, can't wait for the game tonight, the whole family will sit down and watch it. Though it being the only game on for three days (or four days, for sometimes the team gets a bye the first Thursday back, what is that all about? You have three days off in a row, why would any team be off Thursday as well? Stupid, but it happens every year) certainly heightens the must see aspect. I hope Adrian gets to play, but with 4 1Bs on the team, I really hope he at least gets to pinch hit and takes one out to left. I hope Heath comes in and strikes everyone out like he says he's going to. I really hope he doesn't come in and blow the game like Trevor in 2006, that's a pain that is lingering. In a perfect world, the NL wins and a Pad is the MVP.

For Pad fans, I found this list of Padre All-Star representatives, there are some pretty fun names on it:

Year: All-Stars (Pos.)
1969: Chris Cannizaro (C)
1970: Cito Gaston (OF)
1971: Nate Colbert (1B), Preston Gomez (coach)
1972: Nate Colbert (1B)
1973: Nate Colbert (1B)
1974: Johnny Grubb (OF)
1975: Randy Jones (P)
1976: Randy Jones (P), John McNamara (coach)
1977: Dave Winfield (OF)
1978: Rollie Fingers (P), Dave Winfield (OF)
1979: Dave Winfield (OF), Gaylord Perry (P)
1980: Dave Winfield (OF)
1981: Terry Kennedy (C), Ozzie Smith (SS)
1982: Ruppert Jones (OF)
1983: Dave Dravecky (P), Terry Kennedy (C)
1984: Steve Garvey (1B), Tony Gwynn (OF), Rich Gossage (P), Dick Dent (trainer)
1985: Tony Gwynn (OF), Steve Garvey (1B), LaMarr Hoyt (P), Terry Kennedy (C), Graig Nettles (3B), Rich Gossage (P), Garry Templeton (SS), Dick Williams (manager)
1986: Tony Gwynn (OF)
1987: Tony Gwynn (OF)
1988: Mark Davis (P)
1989: Tony Gwynn (OF)
1990: Benito Santiago (C)--injured, dnp, Tony Gwynn (OF), Roberto Alomar (2B)
1991: Benito Santiago (C), Tony Gwynn (OF)
1992: Tony Gwynn (OF), Benito Santiago (C), Fred McGriff (1B), Tony Fernandez (SS), Gary Sheffield (3B), Bob Day (trainer)
1993: Tony Gwynn (OF), Andy Benes (P)
1994: Tony Gwynn (OF)
1995: Tony Gwynn (OF)
1996: Tony Gwynn (OF)--injured, dnp, Ken Caminiti (3B)
1997: Tony Gwynn (OF), Ken Caminiti (3B), Steve Finley (OF), Bruce Bochy (coach)
1998: Tony Gwynn (OF), Kevin Brown (P), Trevor Hoffman (P), Greg Vaughn (OF)
1999: Tony Gwynn (OF)--injured, dnp, Andy Ashby (P), Trevor Hoffman (P), Bruce Bochy (Manager)
2000: Trevor Hoffman (P)
2001: Tony Gwynn (OF) -- special All-Star guest, Ryan Klesko (1B), Phil Nevin (3B), Bruce Bochy (coach), Todd Hutcheson (trainer)
2002: Trevor Hoffman (P)
2003: Rondell White (OF)
2004: Mark Loretta (2B)
2005: Jake Peavy (P)
2006: Trevor Hoffman (P)
2007: Trevor Hoffman (P), Jake Peavy (P), Chris Young (P)
2008: Adrian Gonzalez (1B)
2009: Adrian Gonzalez (1B), Heath Bell (P)

I have never heard of Johnny Grubb, so I wonder if he makes people wince like Rondell White makes me wince? Rondell White...ouch! That hurts. Maybe every team shouldn't have an all-star.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

No better time to start

Swept into last place by the stupid dbacks on Wednesday. No hit for six Thursday in a bad, bad blowout to the Gigantes. Then no hit for the full nine the last night to the same Gigantes. (At least I wasn't at this one, and thankfully turned went to sleep early last night.) Now losers of six in a row. Ouch. There is no way around it, this is rock bottom. Padre baseball can get no worse than this moment, so now is the time to start my blog!

But this is not the typical baseball blog where fans complain about the roster, the size of the payroll, the pathetic lineup or even worse pitching staff. If you want to sound off on this type of stuff, go to a different blog or go complain on DePodesta's. I don't care about any of that stuff, I have no control over that. I don't think I could do a better job than the front office, nor the coaching staff. I don't think any of that stuff matters at all. I just cheer for the Pads.

Baseball is about failure and that failure inspired the novel The Church of Irrelevance, so I am thankful always. Besides, some of my favorite baseball memories take place during absolutely dreadful Padre seasons. Some take place during absolutely great Padre seasons as well, ut there seems to be less of those, such is life. Roll with it, in the end, it is just a game. In the end, we are all irrelevant anyways.

Another game tonight, Tim Stauffer returns to the majors. Not that I expect anyone to get excited about that, but hey, it can't get any worse than last night.
The Out Campaign: Scarlet Letter of Atheism