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Friday, December 30, 2005

Blue Jays Offense

Here are some rough offensive projections I've done of the players who would be in the Blue Jays line up and on the bench according to the roster as of today. Over the next couple of days, I'll post projections for the Yankees and Red Sox, then try and do a comparison of the three offenses. Following that, I will move on to same for the respective pitching staffs.

Reed Johnson LF Platoon
G PA H 2B 3B HR R RBI BB SO BA
137 490 122 22 4 9 63 58 24 85 0.274
Frank Catalanotto LF Platoon
112 418 112 27 4 7 51 48 30 48 0.298
Vernon Wells CF
150 658 168 35 3 27 86 90 48 84 0.278
Alexis Rios RF
134 499 125 23 6 7 66 49 29 95 0.270
Troy Glaus 3B
150 632 137 28 2 35 89 98 82 138 0.254
Russ Adams SS or 2B
100 389 89 19 4 7 49 45 35 40 0.273
Aaron Hill 2B or SS
105 407 99 25 3 3 49 40 34 41 0.274
Lyle Overbay 1B
146 583 144 38 1 16 72 70 72 103 0.284
Shea Hillenbrand DH/3B Platoon
148 616 169 36 2 17 78 84 25 68 0.296
Corey Koskie DH/3B Platoon
110 458 102 23 1 16 60 53 51 98 0.257
Eric Hinske DH Platoon
146 566 127 31 3 15 74 68 51 114 0.254
Greg Zaun Starting Catcher
115 418 91 18 1 8 48 46 55 59 0.253
John McDonald Utility Infielder
70 164 37 6 1 1 18 13 9 21 0.242
Guillermo Quiros Backup Catcher
14 45 8 2 0 0 3 5 2 11 0.200

Thursday, December 29, 2005

In process

I'm crunching a few numbers for the 25 man rosters of the Jays, Sox and Yankees to see how they would compare to each other if the season started today. I'll have a post about it up tomorrow afternoon.

Contention Intentions

I'm slow getting to this, but the Blue Jays finally got the power bat they were looking for when they traded Miguel Batista and Orlando Hudson to the Diamondbacks for Troy Glaus and prospect Sergio Santos. The accquisition of Glaus, and of Lyle Overbay earlier this month, plus the Burnett and Ryan free agency signings, should give the Jays a realistic shot at the 2006 AL East title.

Glaus strikes out a fair amount, but he gets on base regularly and hits with bigtime power. He's also entering his age 29 season, which means he is a player who should be right in the prime of his playing abilities.

I'm beat to a snot right now — long, migrainey day for me — but I'll check in tomorrow with a more indepth look at how I think the Jays now look in the East.

In the meantime, take a look at Glaus' graphs and stats over at Fangraphs, my new favourite place to research players.

Friday, December 16, 2005

A True Web Novel?

I just took a read through The Sixth Tool, a blog, supposedly being written by a professional baseball scout, which is drawing interest here and there. My impression is that it's a baseball novel in progress, an examination of the conflict between the traditional and sabermetric approaches to the game. A morality play of sorts. I recommend starting at the beginning with the post titled Opening Day, and then reading through the archives.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Hurry up, please. It's time

According to Jeff Blair of the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Blue Jays have struck again and signed starting pitcher A. J. Burnett, their second premier free agent of this offseason. This comes relatively hot on the heels of the Jays signing relief pitcher B. J. Ryan to be their closer. The Ryan deal (5 years, $47 million — the most total dollars ever given to a reliever) has been widely criticized. I'm sure the Burnett deal (5 years, $55 million) will be too. Yet I can't help but think these are the best deals the Jays have made since they traded Fred McGriff and Tony Fernandez to the Padres on December 5, 1990, for Joe Carter and a young secondbaseman named Roberto Alomar.

Why do I think these are good signings when it seems like a lot of years and a lot of money in both cases? A few reasons (the stats are based on the the last three seasons):

  1. Both pitchers are entering what should be their prime years. Ryan will be 30 when the 2006 season starts, Burnett will be 29.
  2. Ryan murders opposing batters. He has struck out 12.23 batters per 9 innings pitched. That's a high ratio even for a reliever.
  3. Burnett is no slouch with the Ks either. His ratio is 8.41 K/9. Considering that 7 K/9 generally points to an effective starter, Burnett is already looking good (Roy Halladay's ratio is 6.77).
  4. Neither Burnett nor Ryan allow many home runs, their HR/9's respectively are .68 and .37.
  5. Why so few home runs? Maybe it's because they give up more ground balls than fly balls: Burnett's G/F ratio is 1.73 (it was 2.42 last season), Ryan's is 1.34.
And one more reason: these two signings now allow the Jays to trade some pitching for two more hitters their offense sorely needs. It won't be long (spring at the latest) before we see Miguel Batista and some combination of Ted Lilly, Gustavo Chacin, David Bush, Dustin McGowan, Russ Adams, Aaron Hill, and Orlando Hudson traded for home run power. (I'm pretty sure the Burnett signing rules out a Hudson trade, he'll be needed for all those ground balls that Halladay and Burnett induce).

Burnett and Ryan. As a Jays fan down here in the Maritimes I feel roight foine today. I ain't been this excited about the Jays since '93. I'm hungry to see who the hitters are that Ricciardi comes up with to complement these pitching moves. I'd love to see Jonny Gomes in Jays uniform. I'd do Batista for Brad Wilkerson in half-a-second. Would JP? How about about Chacin and Alexis Rios for Wilkerson? I'd do that one even quicker. But what do I know? Nothing, that's what -- except that JP ain't done and I ain't gonna bitch and moan about who he trades and whoever the hitters are that he comes up with until I see how the '06 season plays out. I do believe I learned a little from the Hillenbrand deal. The Jays are halfway to where they need and want to be and I don't think the GM is geared for halfway measures. Might be spring before we see how the lineup and rotation shake out. I can wait, and I'll be waiting with anticipation rather than trepidation.

I only have one question. With Halladay and Burnett at the top of the rotation, how often is the the infield carpet at Rogers Centre scheduled to be changed?

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Wings in the Morning: Insect Evolution

From a NY Times article by Carl Zimmer
The oldest living lineages of insects - which include bristletails and silverfish - number only 900 species today. These early insects may not have been able to become very diverse because they didn't have wings. When insects later evolved the ability to fly, they gained the ability to explore more territory and find new kinds of food - giving rise to more species.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Glue; Links; Nursery Rhymes

Say you want to attach leather to ceramic, or glass to wood, what glue do you need? This site will tell you. It also has some interesting trivia. For instance:

When you are sucking in all the toxins from your cigarette, you can rest assured that the glue used to hold it together is completely non-toxic. It is made from a combination of casein (milk) and wax (to increase moisture resistance), and is absolutely harmless.
Sets my mind at ease. Think I'll have another smoke.

I found that site through this page of links, which also led me to some nursery rhymes:

I do not like thee, Doctor Fell,
The reason why, I cannot tell;
But this I know, and know full well,
I do not like thee, Doctor Fell.



Monday, November 21, 2005

The Strange, Sad Case of H.M.

In 1953, at one go, in a procedure radical even for the time (when brain shocks and lobotomies were — pardon the pun — cutting edge treatments for brain disorders), this man had the hippocampus, the amygdala, and the entorhinal and perirhinal cortices sucked out of his brain as an experimental cure for epilepsy. Strangely, it didn't work. What it did do was greatly affect H.M.'s ability to remember. As horrible and criminal as the operation was, his case has been helping scientists research the mechanisms of memory ever since.

I first came across this story this summer when I was looking for books on memory and found Memory's Ghost: The Nature Of Memory And The Strange Tale Of Mr. M at the local library. Worth a read.


Monday, November 14, 2005

"Quad" Erat Faciendum

Rich Lederer's Baseball Beat over at Baseball Analysts is one of the best baseball columns you will find anywhere. Not only does Lederer have a firm grasp of statistics, he is able to discuss and frame those statistics in cogent and readable prose. Today, in The 2005 Quad Leaders, he looks at the top offensive players of the past season.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Chew On This

Gum Blondes, portraits in chewing gum by Jason Kronenwald (site requires Flash). Would you call them masticreations ... mastipieces? I guess you could say they have a certain mastique.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Zapato Productions intradimensional

“Serving The Paranoid Since 1997.” Find out the truth about "Belgium," and about black helicopters. Introduce yourself to Metric Time, and learn how to make an aluminum foil beanie.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Web Economy Bullshit Generator

Would you like to deploy mission-critical experiences, or iterate efficient channels and harness integrated initiatives in order to incubate robust functionalities? Then this is the place for you.

Flashies

A collection of odd little flash animations/applications. You may find some of these disturbing (Smile).

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Autumn Leaves

A look at a couple of possibilities as to why leaves might turn particular colours in the fall. Curious. I don't have enough information to lean one way or the other, but I will note that most of the elms around these parts are not all that healthy and that their leaves turn yellow.

More on White Sox Home Runs

Following up a previous post in which I showed that hitting homeruns had a lot to do with the White Sox's postseason success, I'll point to Dan Fox's list of the 2005 regular season team-by-team percentages of runs scored via the homerun. The White Sox check in at 42.4%, good for fourth in the majors. Yep, small ball all the way. Here are the top five.

Team          RS   RS-HR     Pct
TEX 865 413 47.7%
CIN 820 364 44.4%
NYA 886 390 44.0%
CHA 741 314 42.4%
CHN 703 296 42.1%

Friday, October 28, 2005

"This is not a blue dress."

Blondesense liveblogs Washington turmoil springing from the lies which underpinned the invasion of Iraq. Lewis Libby, aide to Dick Cheney, has been indicted on 5 charges and has resigned.

Last Tomato


Jane Ledwell's first book of poetry was launched this evening at the Beaconsfield Carriage House in Charlottetown. Damn good turnout, standing room only.








Edited by yours truly. I'm pleased.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Chicago White Sox, Your 2005 World Series Champions

Dave Studeman takes a quick look at the White Sox and their season. I might have been able to get more excited about this postseason and this team if Frank Thomas, Hall of Famer in waiting (both articles are from 2003, but the Big Hurt ain't hurt his chances since then) had been healthy and able to play, and if I hadn't had to listen and read all season about how the White Sox were an old-style, small ball, throwback sort of team. The 2005 White Sox weren't that sort of team, at all.

The 2005 White Sox were a long ball team in a hitter-friendly park. They hit 200 home runs during the regular season, good for fourth in total home runs in the American League and fifth overall in the majors. That power didn't disppear in October, either. If anything, it increased. I don't know what percentage of their runs the Sox scored via the home run in the regular season, but while I was having my first coffee of the day I got interested in what that percentage was for the post-season. So I checked the box scores and put together the numbers.

Vs Red Sox
Total runs: 24
Total runs via HR: 15
Percentage via HR: 63

Vs Angels
Total runs: 23
Total runs via HR: 8
Percentage via HR: 35

Vs Astros
Total runs: 20
Total runs via HR: 9
Percentage via HR: 45

White Sox postseason
Total runs: 67
Total runs via HR: 32
Percentage via HR: 48

The White Sox outscored their postseason opponents by 67-34. That's right, during the postseason, the White Sox scored 2 less runs via the home run than their opponents scored in total in any manner. I don't want to hear another word about the Sox being a small ball team.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Evolution, Intelligence, and Morality

The theory of evolution by natural selection keeps being hammered at by creationists and by “scientific” revisionists of all stripes. It results in such idiocies as governments legislating that creationism must be taught in schools as an alternative “theory” of the origin of species — I say you can teach whatever the hell you want in school, but you can no more legislate away the fact of evolution than you can legislate away the fact that water is wet. Anyway, enough of my ranting. On to my raving....

Evolution, Intelligence, and Morality: Being a tentative — in intent, if not in tone — exploration of morality as a product or emergent property of evolution and intelligence.

Biological systems and sub-systems of self-replication, e.g., species and individual organisms, exhibit complexity because random replication errors (variations) by self-replicating agents occur and propagate.

Systems tend to increase in complexity because of the propagation of errors: increased errors = increased information = increased complexity.
The greater amount of time a system is in existence, the more time it has to produce variations: more time = more variations = more complexity.

There are viable variations and non-viable variations. Viable variations tend to increase efficiency of replication, thereby increasing a system’s complexity and stability as an effect of the increase in the number of copies of the viable variations.

Non-viable variations tend to decrease efficiency of replication, thereby increasing a system’s complexity but at the cost of decreasing its stability by clogging it with inefficient replicators. Therefore, non-viable variations tend to delete themselves or be deleted from a system. Systems in which non-viable variations become the primary replicators don’t last long; they are very vulnerable to system failures resulting from pressures on, or privations of, system resources. As a result, they tend to experience catastrophic system failure — they crash, baby, they crash and burn.

This is how biological systems might be said to be self-organizing. Perhaps no other theory of complexity is needed to explain the appearance, extension, and maintenance of structure in living organisms.

Natural selection is simply the propagation through replication of viable variations (a process more commonly thought of as competition to reproduce, and even more commonly referred to as “survival of the fittest”).

Evolution, then, is three-pronged: time, variation, and natural selection.

The theories of evolution, and of its driving engine, natural selection, have withstood every test thrown at them. As Steven Pinker points out, they are falsifiable.1 Evolution’s power to explain the existence, origin, and emergence of biological organisms is unparalleled.

Once we accept the fact of evolution, which is not so hard to do, really, considering the preponderance of geological, archeological, and paleontological evidence that has been amassed in its favour over the past 150 years, we realize that there is no need to invoke a god or a Grand Designer to explain either the fact of our existence or our ability to marvel at the fact of our existence.

Make no mistake: our existence is marvelous, not miraculous. We were not created in some unknowable god’s image. No, our great marvel is that we are the result of ages upon ages of accumulating copying errors — from this, intelligence and awareness arose!

The human mind itself, with its possibly illusory “I,” whether it’s an emergent property or an artifact of the various information processing modules of the brain, that massive parallel processor, is a result of evolution. (It’s quite possible that the brain’s immense processing capabilities are themselves only the three prongs of evolution — time, variation, and selection — in constant, realtime action.)

So now we come finally to morality.

We have intelligence and awareness but it is the result of evolution rather than the Design of a Creator.2 Does this imply that we are not moral agents, or, that lacking an Ultimate Arbiter, we necessarily have no basis for determining right and wrong? Does the lack of a god imply that morality must be culturally or societally contextual: that is, that a particular morality is relative only to a particular culture or society, and that an individual’s or an institution’s actions can only be judged in the context of their own culture or society?

I say no. And I say no for reasons I think are strong enough to combat the notion that the lack of a god implies there can be no moral standard by which to judge our actions, or, alternatively, that moral standards are completely fluid and relevant only contextually.

First of all, we have, apparently, intelligence, and awareness of our actions and of the actions of others. Awareness allows us to feel pain, joy, satisfaction (unless we’re Mick Jagger), envy, hunger, etc., and to observe that these feelings also appear to manifest in others. Intelligence allows us to link our feelings and our observation of similar feelings in others to particular events and/or actions of ourselves and of others. Intelligence and awareness, combined with experience (prior observations of events, actions, and outcomes), allow us to predict the result of an action.

I suggest that, this being so, these facts saddle us with a responsibility to minimize the degree of harm we might do not only to ourselves, and to the rest of humanity, but to the world (indeed, to the universe) in general. I suggest that morality is emergent from evolution, intelligence, and awareness, and that it can be best thought about and discussed in terms of the theory and mechanisms of evolution.

I also suggest that morality, while being somewhat flexible (what successful strategy or variation doesn’t exhibit a degree of flexibility?) both in individuals and in humanity as a whole, is not completely elastic. In order for it to be and remain viable, it must have a firm enough structure and be amenable enough to further efficient variation that it neither collapses nor becomes completely rigid.

I further suggest that some of the evidence necessary to postulate or prove an inherent morality can be found in Donald E. Brown’s list of Human Universals.


1 "Anything that showed signs of design [function plus complexity of structure] but did not come from a long line of replicators could not be explained by — in fact, would refute — the theory of natural selection: natural species that lacked reproductive organs, insects growing like crystals out of rocks, television sets on the moon, eyes spewing out of vents on the ocean floor….”

Steven Pinker, How The Mind Works, p 174; W. W. Norton and Company, 1997. [Inserted text mine.]


2 Evolution’s power to explain the world disposes of any need for the existence of a god, or a Grand Designer or Creator of humanity and Earth, and, by extension, of the universe. And Occam’s Razor then lets us assume that if we and the universe don’t need a creator, a creator doesn’t exist.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

And Yet More Widgets

But weal web widgets this time, wabbit; silverorange's web application toolkit, in fact. What can you do with it? Well, what do you want to do with it? The demos look good.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

The Cremation of Sam McGee (Robert Service)

My grandfather used to recite The Cremation of Sam McGee years ago. I starting reciting it from memory as a teenager. It's just fun to do. Normally, I take it slower but I had to hurry it some today because of audioblogger's time constraints, and, as it is, the final bit got cut off. Which isn't so bad, as it's just a reprise of the first bit.


this is an audio post - click to play

More Widgets

I seem to be having a widget week. I've added the Webster's Rosetta Edition searchbox at the top of the page just under the blog title. You can either type or paste in a word and click search, or double-click on any word on the page to get a definition. If you select the "Non-English" option before searching or double-clicking you should get a translation of the word in question. Try both options on "quiero."

To my Firefox browser I've added the Mozilla Internet Dictionary. You want resources at your fingertips? MID provides them.

And I've downloaded and am using the Google Web Accelerator which you can't get from Google anymore, as they've stopped downloads for the time being due to traffic, but you can get it here. I haven't yet made up mind how I feel about this widget and/or its usefulness.

By the way, if anyone wants a Gmail account, email me and I'll send you an invite. I seem to have 100 invites and no clue what to do with them.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

AVG in action

The two images below are of the AVG anti-virus program's interfaces. I'm trying out the trial version of the product the product AVG offers for sale, and while it's a pretty sweet thing to have, I'm coming to the conclusion that, for my purposes as a home computer user, the basic version, AVG Free, provides more than enough protection, and so I'll be switching back to AVG Free when the trial period is up.


Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Useful Free Utilities for Windows Systems

If you run a Windows operating system, and are at all interested in security, privacy, and something approaching optimal performance, check out this list of free utilities. My personal favourites are Firefox (I use the Littlefox theme), Ewido, Spybot search and destroy, Ad-aware, Prevx, AVG, Spyblaster, aida32, and the Gadwin screenshot utility. Here's a shot of Ewido in action:



note: Keep in mind that I am no software expert. What little I know I've learned through trial and error. Before downloading and/or installing any program, it is prudent to do a search on what might be known about the software. Take no one person's word on the safety or utility of a program. Check and compare various sources in order that decisions made are as well-informed as possible. A little paranoia goes a long way in protecting your system.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Of Fembots, Blue Herons, & Shooting Stars

Tonight the Fembots played the bar at which I work the door. They're on tour to promote their new album, The City. If they're going to be playing near you, go see 'em. I don't know what they themselves call their style, but what most of what I heard tonight had a fine alt-country feel to me.

The bicycle ride home from work a bit ago was cool and peaceful. It was about 2:30 am, and not a single car passed me as I rode across the Hillsborough Bridge. The wind, which blew hard out of the nor' east most of the day, had moved around to the east and died down to a mile or two per hour. Just as I started up the bridge, a blue heron came out of the darkness above the harbour and flew barely five feet above my head. Moments later, as I turned my head back from trying to catch one last glimpse of the heron's wings beating that long, slow rhythm, I saw the quick flare of a shooting star.

And
now I'm listening to the Fembots' somnambulantly punkish 2003 album, Small Town Murder Scene.


Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

If I could bite into the whole earth (audio)

Just an audio version of the poem in the previous post.
this is an audio post - click to play

Monday, October 10, 2005

If I could bite into the whole earth (Fernando Pessoa)

A while back — couple weeks now, I guess — I received an email from another John MacKenzie with a blog; this one living in Chile. He sent a Fernando Pessoa poem which he thought I might like. And I did like it, liked it so much that I tried translating it. Here's the original (my current version is below):

Si yo pudiera morder la tierra toda

Si yo pudiera morder la tierra toda
y sentirle el sabor sería más feliz por un momento...
Pero no siempre quiero ser feliz
es necesario ser de vez en cuando infeliz para poder ser natural...
No todo es días de sol
y la lluvia cuando falta mucho, se pide.
Por eso tomo la infelicidad con la felicidad.
Naturalmente como quien no se extraña
con que existan montañas y planicies y que haya rocas y hierbas...
Lo que es necesario es ser natural y calmado en la felicidad o en la
infelicidad.
Sentir como quien mira. Pensar como quien anda,
y cuando se ha de morir,
Recordar que el día muere y que el poniente
es bello y es bella la noche que queda.
Así es y así sea.

Fernando Pessoa


If I could bite into the whole earth

If I could bite into the whole earth
and feel the flavour of all its life in my mouth
I'd be happier for a little while.
But I don't want to to be happy all the time —
to be sad is just as necessary, just as natural....

Even the sun can't shine every day;
when there's been no rain for weeks, we ask for it.
And so we must balance grief with joy.

Naturally — as those who aren't surprised
that both mountains and plains exist
and that there are rocks as well as grass —
that's how we need to live, to be calm and natural
in joy or in grief.

To feel like someone looking a long way off.
To think like a man walking a long way,
and, when it's time to die,
to remember each day dies
and that the setting sun is beautiful
and that emptiness is the beauty of the night.

And that's how it is. That's how it is.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Irony

Skimming through the transcript of the U.S. "president's" speech to some body called the National Endowment for Democracy, I found stuff like the following (I made no effort to be fair or impartial, just cherrypicked):
  • Evil men obsessed with ambition and unburdened by conscience must be taken very seriously, and we must stop them before their crimes can multiply.

    Defeating a militant network is difficult because it thrives like a parasite on the suffering and frustration of others.

    The radicals exploit local conflicts to build a culture of victimization in which someone else is always to blame and violence is always the solution....

  • ...we're not facing a set of grievances that can be soothed and addressed. We're facing a radical ideology with unalterable objectives: to enslave whole nations and intimidate the world.

    No act of ours invited the rage of the killers, and no concession, bribe or act of appeasement would change or limit their plans for murder.

    On the contrary, they target nations whose behavior they believe they can change through violence....

  • We have seen this kind of shameless cruelty before, in the heartless zealotry that led to the gulags and the Cultural Revolution and the killing fields.

    Like the ideology of communism, our new enemy pursues totalitarian aims. Its leaders pretend to be in an aggrieved party, representing the powerless against imperial enemies.

    In truth, they have endless ambitions of imperial domination, and they wish to make everyone powerless except themselves.

    Under their rule, they have banned books and desecrated historical monuments and brutalized women.

    They seek to end dissent in every form and to control every aspect of life and to rule the soul itself.

    While promising a future of justice and holiness, the terrorists are preparing for a future of oppression and misery.

    Like the ideology of communism, our new enemy is dismissive of free peoples, claiming that men and women who live in liberty are weak and decadent....

  • By fearing freedom, by distrusting human creativity and punishing change and limiting the contributions of half the population, this ideology undermines the very qualities that make human progress possible and human society successful.

    The only thing modern about the militants' vision is the weapons they want to use against us. The rest of their grim vision is defined by a warped image of the past, a declaration of war on the idea of progress itself.

    And whatever lies ahead in the war against this ideology, the outcome is not in doubt: Those who despise freedom and progress have condemned themselves to isolation decline and collapse....

  • The United States makes no distinction between those who commit acts of terror and those who support and harbor them, because they're equally as guilty of murder.

    Any government that chooses to be an ally of terror has also chosen to be an enemy of civilization. And the civilized world must hold those regimes to account....

  • As Americans, we believe that people everywhere -- everywhere prefer freedom to slavery and that liberty, once chosen, improves the lives of all....
  • By standing for the hope and freedom of others we make our own freedom more secure....
  • We're standing with dissidents and exiles against oppressive regimes, because we know that the dissidents of today will be the democratic leaders of tomorrow.

    We're making our case through public diplomacy, stating clearly and confidently our belief in self-determination and the rule of law and religious freedom and equal rights for women; beliefs that are right and true in every land and in every culture....

  • With the rise of a deadly enemy and the unfolding of a global ideological struggle, our time in history will be remembered for new challenges and unprecedented dangers. And yet the fight we have joined is also the current expression of an ancient struggle between those who put their faith in dictators and those who put their faith in the people.

    Throughout history, tyrants and would-be tyrants have always claimed that murder is justified to serve their grand vision. And they end up alienating decent people across the globe.

    Tyrants and would-be tyrants have always claimed that regimented societies are strong and pure until those societies collapse in corruption and decay.

    Tyrants and would-be tyrants have always claimed that free men and women are weak and decadent until the day that free men and women defeat them....




Monday, October 03, 2005

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Rookie of the Year

Two weeks of baseball left in the 2005 season. The candidates for the Cy Young, MVP and ROY awards in each league should be as clear they'll ever be, so I'm going to devote some time and space this week to looking at the players I think should be considered for each award and picking the players who should, in my opinion, win each one. I'll start this tonight with the rookies.

(Before starting, I have to note that, according to ESPN's sortable stats page, none of Jonny Gomes, Chris Shelton, Huston Street, Jesse Crain, Felix Hernandez, Ryan Howard, Zach Duke, or Robinson Tejeda qualify as rookies. But I think they all qualify, because, as far as I can tell, none of them had 150 major league at-bats, 50 major league innings pitched, or 45 days served on a major league roster before this season.)

AL Rookie of the year candidates
As you can see from the above I've thrown a useless column into each of the hitters' and pitchers' lines, RBI and CG. Also the players are not sorted in any meaningful manner, they appear in the order in which I entered them in the spreadsheet. Every data table needs a little white noise, doesn't it?

I'm eliminating Cano and Swisher because I don't think they've shown enough plate discipline in comparison with the other three hitters. I'm throwing out Iguchi because Gomes and Shelton are significantly younger and have put up better numbers. Of those two, Gomes is clearly the better player.

The pitchers are tough to pick amongst. Well, not Jesse Crain; his K/BB ratio is brutal. Young and Chacin pitch their home games in hitters' parks, Blanton in a pitcher's park; still, their K/9 and HR allowed tell me that they aren't dominant pitchers. In another season that lack of dominance might be cancelled out by their success and inning-eating abilities. But not this season, because the remaining three pitchers do exhibit dominance.

Kazmir should be very good for a long time. He strikes out a ton of batters and allows very few home runs, and since the all-star break his K/BB has been 2.41 (it was 1.46 before the break). But that's a result of his strikeouts going up way, not his walks going way down. His walks have dropped, but not enough. Before the break he was walking 4.94 batters per nine innings. Since the break, he's been walking 4.23. He's found a bare touch of control. If he can shave 1 or 1.5 walks off that ratio he will be a very very good pitcher.

Huston Street. That's a very clean line he has. Strikes guys out, allows very few hits and home runs. The A's feel very comfortable bringing him in for the ninth inning, and sometimes for part of the eighth as well. Stabilized the Oakland pen in May when Octavio Dotel went down with elbow problems and eventually opted for season-ending surgery.

Felix Hernandez is the kid that the deep core of the Mariners fan base calls King Felix. With his control, strikeouts and tendency to induce ground balls, this guy has the chance to be the definition of dominance for the next 10 or 15 years.

So. The short list is Gomes, Street and Hernandez.

If Lou Pinella had played Gomes everyday from the time he was called up instead jerking him in and out of the lineup and moving him up and down in the order, I'd say Gomes might be running away with this. That didn't happen, and it takes Gomes out of contention.

If Hernandez had been called up earlier than August, if he had made more than nine starts by this point in the season ... if the dog hadn't stopped to shit he might've caught the rabbit. So King Felix also gets knocked out by an unfortunate case of the ifs.

Your 2005 American League rookie of the year, combining excellence, dominance, durability and consistency, is Huston Street.


NL Rookie of the year
Sparse crop of rookies in the National League this year. I suppose I could add guys like Garrett Atkins, Jeff Francis and Brad Halsey to that table but, really, none of them have been, are, nor ever will be very good players.

Barmes is in the same class as the guys I just mentioned. His stats are infected by Coors field. Taveras' most useful attributes are his defense and speed. But his defense is not Gold Glove caliber, and so isn't enough to put him ahead of the two much better hitters on the list. And he really hasn't used his speed that well. He's only been successful in 67 percent of stolen base attempts. Anything less than a 75 percent success rate hurts a team.

Zach Duke and Robinson Tejeda are only on this list because I thought it needed pitchers, and they were the best I could find who fit the award's requirements. Neither is dominant, though Tejeda looks like he has a chance to exhibit a reasonable facsimile of it in the future. If he cuts down on his walks. Duke looks like he could be a good number three starter. If he continues as he's started.

So, it's a two-horse race in the NL. As I see it, Ryan Howard and Jeff Francoeur are the only two guys even worth talking about here.

Howard is good enough right now that the Phillies should be looking for any possible way of trading Jim Thome, even if it means eating half to three-quarters of the money remaining on Thome's contract (Thome is 35 years old right now, and signed and owed $43 million for 2006 through 2008 with a $13 million team option for 2009).

The only knock I have against Francoeur is that he doesn't walk very much. His batting average makes up a large portion of his on-base percentage. But what the hell, the kid's 21 and makes me wonder if being 4 years younger than Howard makes a difference. Oh, that was another if. No, it doesn't make a difference.

Ryan Howard has been the best rookie in the NL this season and deserves to be rewarded by being named the National League rookie of the year.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Kitten Cannon

Some may find this Flash game disturbing. But I bet they still can't have just one.

Postmodern Poll










How do you feel about polls?
Polls are for the proles.
Wouldn't touch one with a ten-foot pole.
They are a proximate cause of telephone poles and the ultimate cause of polemics.
Czech!
I'm a mess during polling season.
The Khmer Rouge don't have a Pot to Pol in.



Free polls from Pollhost.com

Thursday, September 15, 2005

It's Funny 'Cause It's True

Baseball brings me many things. The sweetest today was at the bottom of this Hardball Times column.
Q: What's George Bush's position on Roe v. Wade?
A: He really doesn't care how people get out of New Orleans.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Relational Similiarities

And no, this post has nothing to do with the old Island joke that no one's related after dark. It's just me playing with analogous concepts of varying validity.
  • Front is to back as up is to down
  • Apple is to orange as car is to plane
  • Food is to nutrition as sex is to procreation
  • Red is to blue as bass is to tenor
  • Family is to self as water is to ice
  • Language is to mind as Lorca is to Céline Dion
  • Movement sequencing is to throwing as syntax is to language
  • Throwing is to language as abacus is to personal computer
  • And last but not least: the shirt below is to plaid as jazz is to music

note: edited to correct link and link placement

Monday, September 05, 2005

Llanto por Ignacio Sanchez Mejias (Lorca)

[Update: This entry gets a lot of hits and the four-part recording below is not great, so here's a better audio version of the poem that I've done all in one piece: Llanto por Ignacio Sanchez Mejias audiofile (12:33).]

Federico García Lorca's lament for his dead friend, Ignacio Sanchez Mejias, is a long four part poem. Too long for me to do in one audiopost since audioblogger's limit for each post is five minutes. The translation I'm reading (text can be found here) is W. S. Merwin's.
I don't agree with all of Merwin's decisions. For instance, in part 2, I might have translated y como un torso de mármol / su dibujada prudencia as "and like a marble torso / his fluid caution" rather than as "and like a marble torso / his well drawn moderation." Not as faithful to the letter of the Spanish as Merwin but more faithful to the spirit of the poem, I think. But really, that's a quibble I have no right making until I get around to doing a full translation of my own. Merwin's version is damn good.



Here's the poem.

Part 1
this is an audio post - click to play

Part 2

this is an audio post - click to play

Part 3

this is an audio post - click to play

Part 4

this is an audio post - click to play

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Optics for Kids (and for me, too)

This site has a bunch of little optics tutorials (require java) aimed elementary school kids. Kids might like 'em and they might not. I do.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Breaking Pitches, Corked Bats, Etc

Kind of an interesting article, but what's best about it are these illustrations of the grips for various pitches.

As for corked bats (remember the Sammy Sosa drama a few years ago?), Allen Nathan's Physics of Baseball page points out that a corked bat actually slightly reduces rather than increases the distance that a ball hit with it travels. I'm gonna try to paraphrase something he said:

Okay, so you drill a couple ounces of wood out of the barrel of a bat and fill the hole with cork or whatever. So now you've got a slightly lighter bat, plus its balance has moved closer to the knob, meaning you can swing it slightly faster or you can have more control over the barrel.

So now you're thinking, "more bat speed = more velocity at impact with baseball = more travel distance."

Not so fast, pal.

Problem is, drilling out the bat and moving its centre of gravity closer to the handle means the bat now has less mass (or weight) in the barrel and therefore less energy in the barrel. Where's the impact point? On the barrel. So what you've actually done is reduce the amount of energy that is available to to be transferred to the ball at impact. So what you have is, reduced energy = reduced ball velocity = reduced distance = fly out to the warning track instead of a double off the wall in the gap.

About all a corked bat is good for is to allow you to wait longer on a pitch and/or allow you to choose a particular angle of impact if you want to try to bloop a single over an infielder's head. But weakly hit, shallow fly balls don't win many ball games — they're mostly caught for outs. A corked bat's reduced mass might help deaden a bunt. Corked bats are more likely to help the "small ball" game than the "big fly" game.

A real good (but dry) book that covers these things and more is Robert K. Adair's The Physics of Baseball. I gave my copy away a couple of years ago. I miss it.


Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Saturday, August 27, 2005

The Haw Lantern (a Seamus Heaney poem)

this is an audio post - click to play


The Haw Lantern

The wintry haw is burning out of season,
crab of the thorn, a small light for small people,
wanting no more from them but that they keep
the wick of self-respect from dying out,
not having to blind them with illumination.

But sometimes when your breath plumes in the frost
it takes the roaming shape of Diogenes
with his lantern, seeking one just man;
so you end up scrutinized from behind the haw
he holds up at eye-level on its twig,
and you flinch before its bonded pith and stone,
its blood-prick that you wish would test and clear you,
its pecked-at ripeness that scans you, then moves on.

This is good shit, my friends. When the exhalation of breath metamorphoses into Diogenes, the poem itself changes shape, inverts, and at the same time turns you inside-out. And, where before you were looking coolly out at an abstraction, an idea of others, you are now looking inward.

At this link, apparently, is a version of the poem in process.

Friday, August 26, 2005

28 Years Later


On the day this photo was taken in 1977 I had some bone chips floating around my elbow after wiping out on my bike. I refused to take the sling off for the school picture.


One morning this summer about 3 am I just wanted to hop on my bike and get home after work to catch up on the baseball scores, but some folks who'd been celebrating a birthday in the bar all evening decided I needed my picture taken. Though it was a rare non-plaid day, I relented.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Emily-at-Large, Etc

This morning the front page of The Hardball Times includes a link to the anti-depressant Emily. Also over there, Dave Studeman's Ten Things I Didn't Know Last Week column pointed me to Death By Caffeine. Apparently it would take 114.28 cups of brewed coffee to kill me.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Economics: Scanner Vs Beans

Below can be seen what is left of the coffee beans I traded for the scanner. Oddly, the scanner has yet to shrink in volume.


An Account of a Pitcher's Duel

BatGirl just keeps getting better:

...It wasn't the post-season, but it felt like it. Johan didn't have a no-hitter, but it felt like it. And Freddy Garcia, well, he did have a no-hitter—and boy it felt like it. Every batter, the oppressiveness of that big goose egg in the box score seemed to grow.

You could see it in the Twins at bats--as the game went on, they got more careless, more anxious, more like the free swinging spaz monkeys of yore. In the 7th inning, our three, four, and five guys took about 12 seconds to get through the Twins' half of the inning, and most of that time was taken up by LeCroy running to first on his grounder....

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Emily Six

Been a couple of months since I did an Emily Dickinson and Wikipedia post, but I have little to do today so I've been lazing through my copy of the Complete poems (they can be found online here).

875

I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my Feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.
In that first line she probably was not referring to the plank roads I've linked to; more likely the metaphor was to be a house's unfinished flooring, or a dilapidated dock or foot bridge. In the last line I'm almost certain she was leaning in this direction and that she would have been pleased with the Rumanian proverb quoted at the bottom of that page:
Only the foolish learn from experience — the wise learn from the experience of others.

937

I felt a Cleaving in my Mind
As if my Brain had split —
I tried to match it — Seam by Seam
But could not make it fit.

The thought behind, I strove to join
Unto the thought before —
But Sequence ravelled out of Sound
Like Balls — upon a Floor.
I recommend reading and/or listening to the entire 2003 Reith Lecture series I linked to in the last line of the first stanza. Sweet stuff.

Previous Emily posts: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Worldometers

I don't know how accurate the figures on this page are (just found it), but they're fascinating.

Friday, August 19, 2005

The More Things Change,

The more they stay the same. Here are three ancient Egyptian poems from the World poetry anthology. You know, poetry hasn't really gotten any better in the last 3,000 years.




More Books

Below are some of the books I'm picking at this week.





Street Paintings

My very first StumbleUpon click today took me to this page of street paintings. Enjoy.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Process

The other day I was lucky enough to trade a couple of pounds of a fine 4-bean espresso blend for a scanner, so I've been scanning things like the book covers, etc, in the previous post.

Something that constantly fascinates me when I look back through my notebooks are the small cumulative changes in various drafts of poems. So today I scanned some drafts of a poem from one of last year's notebooks. Below those images is the poem as it reads today.

note: click on images to enlarge








A Resolution (from the shrapnel of April)

To raise in May the willow’s froth of green
And the magnolia’s white white shatter

To ponder how your hands draw me (as the sun

Draws tulip shoots, forget-me-nots)

To hear close unseen, heavy wings

In the stir of light on water

Will we whisper under the spring-thin moon?
Will we whistle and lament?

I’ll unclench my hands for your sweet eyes,

I'll scald my tongue on you.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Poetry and Smokes

The first two images below are two of the best books of poetry I've found in the last five years. And at the bottom is what I smoke while I'm reading them.



Thursday, July 21, 2005

Friday, July 08, 2005

Irony VS. Joe Morgan, Round N: In an improbable development, Joe's failings are overshadowed by the clumsy attack of an ill-wisher

Joe Morgan has been slagged mercilessly and often on baseball blogs (particularly by Mike Carminati and Aaron Gleeman) for his vehement diatribes against the book Moneyball (which, for a while, Morgan seems to have believed was written by Oakland GM Billy Beane). The slagging now has moved beyond blogs to the San Francisco Weekly.

I'm no fan of Joe Morgan the broadcaster, but I see that article as unfair and flawed. Unfair in that it's a maliciously childish personal attack on Morgan. Flawed in that it succumbs to a thing for which it pokes Morgan with a stick (it's not even a particularly sharp stick). For instance:

Even as front offices scramble to hire just about anyone who can run a statistical regression, at least two books, one by Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, have been written more or less as responses to Moneyball...

...

"You know," Joe begins to say, as a makeup brush is dabbed along his forehead, "why don't you read the --" He catches himself. I'm pretty sure he's going to plug Tony La Russa's book.


The book the writer is referring to, Three Nights in August, is about the St. Louis Cardinals but it was written by
Buzz Bissinger, not by Tony La Russa.

That's irony. Unintentional irony. I briefly wondered if it might have been intentional, but it isn't. Not from a writer who is capable of this sort of clumsy construction: Socratic exchange with Joe Morgan No. 1....

Does the SF Weekly have no editors?

Ah, it's good to know that yellow journalism is alive and well in both the mainstream world and in the so-called alternative world of blogging, and is being practised even on topics as ultimately trivial as baseball.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Three Beane Soup

The Athletics Nation site has another three-part interview (done in late June) with Oakland A's GM Billy Billy: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

Blez: Do you consider him [Eric Chavez] a leader?

Beane: Yeah, I do. He leads with his bat and his glove. That's what leaders do. Leaders don't sit in the clubhouse eating Snickers bars and running their mouth....


Friday, July 01, 2005

The Digital Anatomist

The Digital Anatomist is just what it says it is. For instance, 3-D animations of the brain (requires Quicktime). Found it through a link at the Neuroscience Tutorial.

Small Things

The microscopix photolibrary has, among other things, pictures of chromozones and spider hairs.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Two Versions of a Neruda Poem

1st version
this is an audio post - click to play


2nd version
this is an audio post - click to play


Part of this poem was posted in the comments on the previous Neruda post. The text of the first version I'm reading can be found here. That translation is by Robert Bly. The second version is translated by Donald D. Walsh and the text of it (from this book) can be found below. I'm not sure which I like better, though I'm leaning towards the Walsh at the moment because it seems to me to be more succinct somehow, sharper, more focused.

Only Death

There are lone cemeteries,
tombs filled with soundless bones,
the heart passing through a tunnel
dark, dark, dark;
like a shipwreck we die inward,
like smothering in our hearts,
like slowly falling from our skin down to our soul.

There are corpses,
there are feet of sticky, cold gravestone,
there is death in the bones,
like a pure sound,
like a bark without a dog,
coming from certain bells, from certain tombs,
growing in the dampness like teardrops or raindrops.

I see alone, at times,
coffins with sails
weighing anchor with pale corpses, with dead-tressed women,
with bakers white as angels,
with pensive girls married to notaries,
coffins going up the vertical river of the dead,
the dark purple river,
upstream, with sails swollen by the sound of death,
swollen by the silent sound of death.

To resonance comes death
like a shoe without a foot, like a suit without a man,
she comes to knock with a stoneless and fingerless ring,
she comes to shout without mouth, without tongue, without throat.
Yet her steps sound
and her dress sounds, silent, like a tree.

I know little, I am not well-accquainted, I can scarcely see,
but I think that her song has the color of moist violets,
of violets accustomed to the earth,
because the face of death is green,
and the gaze of death is green,
with the sharp dampness of a violet leaf
and its dark color of exasperated winter.

But death also goes through the world dressed as a broom,
she licks the ground looking for corpses,
death is in the broom,
it is death's tongue looking for dead bodies,
it is death's needle looking for thread.

Death is in the cots:
in the slow mattresses, in the black blankets
she lives stretched out, and she suddenly blows:
she blows a dark sound that puffs out sheets,
and there are beds sailing to a port
where she is waiting, dressed as an admiral.




Tuesday, June 28, 2005

More White Sox

In a recent comment on this post about the Chicago White Sox, The Gazetteer asks if my June 2 take on the team needs to be revised now that we're at the end of June and, contrary to my expectations, they still have a .676 winning percentage and lead the AL Central by nine games. I think my analysis was fairly sound, and I still think that the Sox pitchers will come back to earth sometime in the near future. Although, at this point in the season those pitchers may have outperformed their career norms long enough that even a return to those norms (or even falling below those norms briefly) might not be damaging enough to keep the Sox from winning their division.

Better math minds than mine have looked at this team and seen its performance as unsustainable. Dan Agonistes on June 20, for instance. In a sort follow-up article to that post yesterday at the Hardball Times, Dan looked at the Pythagorean formula for teams' expected winning percentages.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

To The Dead Poor Man (a Pablo Neruda poem)

this is an audio post - click to play

This is not Neruda's best poem, nor is it my favourite poem of his. It's a poem with flaws — at least, I feel there are flaws in this translation — but a good poem despite them because it still manages to stand up under its own weight. This version was translated by Alastair Reid. I'm reading from this book. Here's the text:

To The Dead Poor Man

Today we are burying our own poor man;
our poor poor man.

He was always so badly off
that this is the first time
his person is personified.

For he had neither house nor land,
nor alphabet nor sheets,
nor roast meat,
and so from one place to another, on the roads,
he went, dying from lack of life,
dying little by little—
that was the way of it from his birth.

Luckily (and strangely) they were all of the same mind,
from the bishop to the judge,
in assuring him of his share of heaven;
and dead now, properly dead, our own poor man,
oh, our poor poor man,
he will not know what to do with so much sky.
Can he plow it or sow it or harvest it?

He did that always; cruelly
he struggled with raw land,
and now the sky lies easy to his plow,
and later, among the fruits of heaven,
he will have his share, and at his table,
at such a height, everything is set
for him to eat his fill of heaven,
our poor man, who brings, as his fortune,
from below, some sixty years of hunger
to be satisfied, finally, as is just and proper,
with no more batterings from life,
without being victimized for eating;
safe as houses in his box under the ground,
now he no longer moves to protect himself,
now he will not struggle over wages.
He never hoped for such justice, did this man.
Suddenly they have filled his cup, and it cheers him;
now he has fallen dumb with happiness.

How heavy is he now, the poor poor man!
He was a bag of bones, with black eyes,
and now we know, by the weight of him alone,
the oh so many things he always lacked,
for if this strength had gone on and on,
digging up raw land, combing out stones,
harvesting wheat, soaking clay,
grinding down sulfur, lugging firewood,
if this so weighty man did not have shoes,
oh, misery, if this whole separate man
of tendon and muscle didn't ever have
justice in life, and all men beat him,
all men did him down, and even so
he went on laboring away, now, lifting him up,
in his coffin, on our shoulders,
now at least we know how much life he didn't have,
that we did not help him in his life on earth.

Now it dawns on us we are taking on
all that we never gave him, and now it is late;
he weighs on us, and we cannot take his weight.

How many people does our dead one weigh?

He weighs as much as this world does, and we go on
taking this dead one on our shoulders. It's clear
that heaven must abound in bread baking.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Wislawa Szymborska's Sky

Well, audioblogger is up and running again. And, finally, here is the last audiopost I tried to do a couple of months back:

this is an audio post - click to play

The text of the poem can be found in this post.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

The New Old Canadian Science Fiction?

Brenda Schmidt links to an article by Peter Darbyshire on Canadian SF, and to Canadian SF writer Edward Willet's blog entry about the article.

For myself, as I noted on Willet's blog, I find it hard to believe that an article on contemporary Canadian science fiction could be written and contain no mention of James Alan Gardner. Although I suppose that, given the article's premise of there being a resurgence of "classic" SF underway in Canada at the expense of the younger cyberpunk tradition, it would be inconvenient to mention that the best (IMHO) actual storyteller working in the field seems to have found a way to successfully blend space opera with cyberpunk. It might just be that Darbyshire has yet to encounter a Gardner novel , much as I have yet to encounter Karl Schroeder's work. (Am I right, Peter?)

I have read some Robert J. Sawyer (though not recently), and it was a bit dry for my taste. Of Robert Charles Wilson's work, I can say that The Chronoliths seemed to me to be the most successful as a novel, in that the characters had some fullness to them and the ideas spent less time interfering with the story than in Blind Lake or Darwinia.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Crooked Is As Crooked Does

There was a crooked man who walked a crooked mile,
He found a crooked sixpence upon a crooked stile.
He bought a crooked cat which caught a crooked mouse,
And they all lived together in a little crooked house.
Baseball. If I allowed the business of the game to occupy space in my mind for more than an hour at a time, my enjoyment of the game itself might be choked out of its little patch of soil by the virulent stinkweed that is Bud Selig and his crooked circle of cronies.

For instance, John Brattain takes a look at the opening round of the bidding for the Washington ex-Expos. His conclusion:
It will be a happy day when Bud Selig oozes his purulent ways [sic] out of baseball.
Amen.



Thursday, June 02, 2005

The Chi-Sox Charade

Here we are in the first week of June and the Chicago White Sox still lead the majors with a 35-20 record, which gives them a 5 game lead in the AL Central over the Minnesota Twins. That lead will not hold up. By the end of June I expect the Sox to be 4 games behind the Twins, and trying to hold off the Cleveland Indians for second place in the division. Why? Couple of reasons:
  • The Sox are currently out-performing their expected winning percentage by 4 games. (Expected or Pythagorean winning percentage is based on a team's runs scored and runs allowed. You can find the expected WP for all teams here. The only team luckier than the Sox so far this season is the Arizona Diamondbacks.)
  • They are out-performing their EWP by virtue of a handful of lucky pitchers: Jon Garland, Freddy Garcia and Jose Contreras in the rotation; and Dustin Hermanson in the bullpen.

  • The offence is not good enough to offset the inevitable pitching decline. Their hitters simply make too many outs and hit with too little power for them to score the runs they are going to need to stay competitive in the division.
As far as the pitching goes, Garland especially, with his extremely low K/9 rate of 4.5 should come crashing back to earth this month — in his next couple of starts, I'd expect. Garcia and Contreras will also decline (possibly Mark Buerhle as well, but he has a track record of being successful with a low K/9), though Contreras should be the best of the three over the remainder of the season. In the bullpen, Hermanson will suffer a severe regression, Politte a less severe one. Damaso Marte will be the best pitcher in that pen by season's end.

Monday, May 30, 2005

The Forbidden Library

The Forbidden Library lists books which have either been banned or burned somewhere in the the world at some point, or which people have tried to have banned or burned. The list includes Jack London's The Call of the Wild which apparently was banned in Italy and Yugoslavia in 1929 and burned by the Nazis in 1932, if you can imagine.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Mix And Match

If anyone is still reading out there, let's play a little game. Below is the second draft of a poem I wrote last night at work. The stanzas are numbered 1 through 5. I would like people to post in the comments the order they think the stanzas should be in (e.g. 3, 1, 2, 5, 4), along with their reasoning for the re-ordering. It could be fun, really.

What Was In My Hands

1.
What is in my hands is in my heart.
The length of arms, the thickness of skin,
The density of bone, the tangled
Stretches of vein and artery,
None of these impose any distance.
Neither the skull nor the eye make a wall.

2.
What is in my heart are these, in part:
A song, a hymn, a prayer
Carved from a pragmatist's wooden throat,
A green jar of rain, lid rusting,
Against an old spruce near the shallows
As water stirs around a blue heron.

3.
What was in my hands is in my hands.
Spring's last crabapple blossom
I declined to place in her hair,
Dandelions I awoke to find arranged
In the bright yellow letters of a name
(My eyes dim, streaked, windows).

4.
What was in my hands is in my heart.
My son's wet, freshly-born head,
The weight of him all gathered
In his eyes, those blue event horizons
Through which everything falls,
Forever, towards him, his voice.

5.
What is in my hands is my heart
Under dust, under boots worn at the heel
And loose at the seams, under piles of books,
Under echoes and reflections,
Under lilacs and weeping birches
And the silent, cataracted moon.


edited to fix the "blosson" typo, and to remove the "were" which somehow crept in between "eyes" and "dim" in stanza 3.