Archive for September, 2011

Unlike, say, basketball, where decent statistical analysis can probably get you fairly good predictions in a 7-game series, baseball is quite a different animal. Even the best teams only win 70% of the time, and stretching that over just 7 games leaves a fair amount of variability.

Also, there are two ways to make predictions. One is simply to pick the most likely outcome (Phillies over Yankees in 6). The other is to pick something wacky but plausible.

Because Linus has basically put in what I believe to be the most likely outcomes (with minor variation), I shall take the second “wacky but plausible” route:

Division Series

  • Rays over Rangers in 5
  • Yanks over Tigers in 4
  • Dbacks over Brewers in 4
  • Phillies over Cards in 5

Championship Series

  • Rays over Yankees in 7 (an epic series that goes down in the annals of baseball as the best ALDS not involving the Red Sox)
  • Phillies over DBacks in 6

World Series

  • Rays over Phillies in 6

Wacky! But plausible!

I mean, it’s almost certainly WRONG. But if it’s right, it looks prescient. (This is how Nouriel Roubini works, I think)

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Playoff predictions

One baseball post tonight is simply not enough. This year I will keep up my yearly tradition of predicting the outcome of the MLB playoffs. As you can see here, I did quite poorly last year, since I picked both the NL and AL champions to lose in the first round. Predicting baseball is hard. Nevertheless, here we go:


Phillies over Cards in 4

Brewers over Diamondbacks in 4

Yankees over Tigers in 5

Rangers over Rays in 5


Phils over Brewers in 5

Yankees over Rangers in 7

World Series

Phils over Yankees in 6

Ok, my brain says that the winner of the World Series should be the Phillies. They were the best team in baseball this year. They have one of the best pitching lineups ever assembled in baseball history. And yet, they play the Cardinals in the first round. The bipolar Cards, who alternate between being unstoppable and awful. But right now they are unstoppable. They posted the best record in baseball in September, and they went 6-3 against the Phils this year. And so while I know the Phils should win, I very nearly didn’t pick them. In fact, I originally wrote this out to have the Brewers beat the Cards to represent the NL in the World Series, but it just felt wrong. But if tonight shows anything, it’s that baseball doesn’t always go according to plan. Boston was supposed to be unstoppable this year.

Also, I demand that Stendhal makes his picks.

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Today is the most astounding day in baseball I can recall. There were four games worth watching, each containing one of the four teams competing for the wild card spots in the playoffs. Only one of them was boring, but it was the one I wanted to be boring. The Cards erupted for 8 runs vs Houston, and Carpenter delivered a complete game shutout. Meanwhile, in the other three games:

– Atlanta led over Philly 3-2 with one out remaining. They cough up a run, go to extra innings, and lose 4-3 in the 13th. Their loss ensures the Cards entrance into the playoffs. Tonight reminded me of 2004 in a weird way. What happened to the Cards was amazing, just as the 7-game thrilling NLCS against Houston was that year. And yet despite that, from an objective perspective what happened in the AL was more amazing. In 2004, I refer to Boston’s coming back from 0-3 to win the ALCS vs the Yankees. As for tonight:

– The Rays were losing 0-7 in the 8th inning. They score 6 runs in the 8th. Then they tie it in the 9th when someone I’ve never even heard who is hitting under .200 hits a HR in the 9th with 2 outs and 2 strikes against him. They go to extra innings and Longoria hits a walkoff HR in the bottom of the 12th to deliver the 8-7 win.

– Meanwhile, three minutes before that happened, Boston loses to Baltimore. Baltimore is trailing 2-3 with 2 outs and no one on base when they hit a double, a double, and then a single to knock in 2 runs and walkoff with the 4-3 victory.

Obviously I am very happy about this, because the Cards are my favorite team, and the Red Sox are my least favorite, so today basically feels like Christmas came early. But nonetheless, even as a casual baseball fan, what happened tonight was probably the most incredible thing I’ve seen in sports. The Yankees hadn’t blown a 7-run lead in the 8th since 1953. Boston had apparently won every game this year, all 77 of them, in which they led after the 8th inning. Three teams led in the 9th with two outs, and proceeded to lose! I’ll never forget tonight; fucking baseball.

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People who advocate for a third party typically say that the two parties are too extreme. Matt Miller’s piece in WaPo today is no different. Matt Yglesias has taken on Miller’s assertion about Democrats defending teachers’ unions (which is obviously false considering Race to the Top and other Obama administration objectives), so I guess I’ll mention the health care bit:

Or take health care. Republicans say the answer is to repeal President Obama’s reforms — but they won’t offer plans to insure more than 3 million of the 50 million Americans who lack coverage. Yet Democrats want to micromanage providers, protect the trial lawyers who bankroll their campaigns, and fully insulate people from the costs of their own care, assuring that there’s no consumer brake on runaway costs. Again, Democrats and Republicans can’t solve the problem.

Let’s take the points one by one.

“Democrats want to micromanage providers” — Not clear exactly how this is intractable, since Republicans want this too (see all abortion cases ever). It seems to me that government’s very use of Medicaid and Medicare reimbursement is already a micromanagement of providers.

“protect trial lawyers” — If only there were some prominent Democrat who could stand up and say he was willing to deal on tort reform in like a big, public address. Oh yeah, like this guy:

“I’m willing to look at other ideas to bring down costs” besides repealing his healthcare overhaul, Obama said in his State of the Union address, including “medical malpractice reform to rein in frivolous lawsuits.”


“fully insulate people from the cost of their own care” — Yeah, if only there were some sort of, oh I don’t know, like an individual mandate that made sure that all people paid into the system, like some sort of big insurance pool. And furthermore, what if we put in some cost controls, particularly on end of life care in Medicare, that ensured that only the most effective treatments were used?

The point is that these third party enthusiasts already got their wish without realizing it — a centrist President who is willing to deal on almost any issue and serve up sacred cows in search of a compromise. The only thing is that guy turned out to be Barack Obama and he already has a party. And it turns out that being willing to compromise on almost anything still doesn’t buy you any favors. (See the court cases against the individual mandate and the “death panels” hullabaloo.)

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Sweet Jesus, what the hell is going on?

No, that’s not from Toby Keith’s porn stash. That’s Miss USA’s ridiculous “native” costume. As NPR’s Linda Holmes puts it:

“It’s like Washington crossing the Delaware to go to Hooters.”

I’m sure there’s plenty of commentary to be mined here (no there’s not), but I will say that I think this goes to prove that Donald Trump can’t put his name on anything without class also being similarly attached.

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Uh, Massachusetts, get on that.

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A world without R.E.M.

Frankly, I’m surprised this didn’t happen sooner, but I’m glad that we had many years of R.E.M.

I think R.E.M. is notable for never abandoning the original project of rock and roll. While indie rock splintered into various directions, Radiohead dove into electronica, and Kurt Cobain died, Michael Stipe, Peter Buck, and Mike Mills unapologetically churned out good old-fashioned rock and roll in a way that few bands can ever touch.

So, in any case, here’s R.E.M. rocking out:

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