Tuesday October 27, 2020
Who Has the Most World Series Losses?
In other news, I find myself oddly rooting for the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2020 World Series. I should be rooting for the Tampa Bay Rays, the no-money, no-name squad that are massive underdogs and have no World Series titles to their name. In contrast, the Dodgers have some of the biggest names in baseball (Mookie, Cody, Clayton), the second-highest payroll of 2020 (to the Yankees), and six World Series championships.
True, their last title was in 1988, the Kirk Gibson World Series, which happened 10 years before the Rays organization, then known as the Devil Rays, was even born. More important, here's something else the Dodgers have that the Rays don't:
More World Series losses than any team in baseball history.
I don't know why, but I've never looked at the World Series losses before. Like everyone, I count wins. I count rings, pennants, postseasons. But over the weekend I half-wondered about this hapless squad: Do the Dodgers have more World Series losses than anyone? More even than the Yankees, who have been to the World Series twice as often?
Turns out: Yes. Before this year, the Dodgers of Brooklyn and LA have been to the Series 20 times but won it only six, meaning, for those who learned their math at Burroughs Elementary in Sexy South Minneapolis, that they lost it 14 times. They're 6-14. The Yankees have lost it a lucky 13 times; they're 27-13. The only other team in double-digit WS losses is the Giants of New York and San Francisco: 8-12.
For the curious, here's how the original 16 teams stack up when sorted by winning percentage:
I guess this could provide some solace to fans of the Pirates, for example. Sure, they haven't been to the World Series since 1979; but they haven't lost a World Series since 1927.
Whatever happens to the Dodgers this year, though, won't move them much in the standings. If they lose Games 6 and 7, they'll be tied with the Phillies for the second-worst World Series Winning Percentage (WSWP). If they win, they'll be tied with the Braves and Indians. That's what victory would mean to the Dodgers overall: a tie with the Indians. Not exactly glamour territory.
So anyway I'm rooting for the Dodgers.
Tuesday October 27, 2020
It Was Never About...
“As with President Trump's two earlier nominees to the court, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, the details of Judge Barrett's jurisprudence were less important than the fact that she had been anointed by the conservative activists at the Federalist Society. Along with hundreds of new lower-court judges installed in vacancies that Republicans refused to fill when Barack Obama was president, these three Supreme Court choices were part of the project to turn the courts from a counter-majoritarian shield that protects the rights of minorities to an anti-democratic sword to wield against popular progressive legislation like the Affordable Care Act. ...
”It was never about letting the American people have a voice in the makeup of the Supreme Court. That's what Mr. McConnell and other Senate Republicans claimed in 2016, when they blocked President Obama from filling a vacancy with nearly a year left in his term. ...
“It was never about fighting 'judicial activism.' For decades, Republicans accused some judges of being legislators in robes. Yet today's conservative majority is among the most activist in the court's history, striking down long-established precedents and concocting new judicial theories on the fly, virtually all of which align with Republican policy preferences.
”It was never about the supposed mistreatment that Robert Bork, a Reagan nominee, suffered at the hands of Senate Democrats in 1987. ...
“Of all the threats posed by the Roberts Court, its open scorn for voting rights may be the biggest.”
-- New York Times Editorial Board, about yesterday's rushed confirmation of Amy Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court to fill the spot vacated by the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg last month. I've said it a zillion times: Hillary Clinton's vast, right-wing conspiracy has been replaced by a vast, right-wing hypocrisy that is out in the open and doesn't give a fuck.
Follow the money. Who gives it to Graham, to McConnell, to the Federalist Society? Follow the money.
Monday October 26, 2020
What is Bo Derek Known for?
Bo Derek in “10.”
Yes, it's another KNOWN FOR debacle from IMDb. These are fun. Wish I didn't have to do them. I wish Amazon cared about its film site.
So, according to IMDb, what is Bo Derek known for? Wait. First for the kids: Who is Bo Derek?
In the late 1970s, Bo has a supporting role in the Blake Edwards/Dudley Moore comedy “10” as the titular fantasy fixation. That was the first time I'd ever heard of this rating system, by the way. I was 16 and thought: “Wait, what? We're supposed to do what? Rate women on a scale from one to what?” Don't know if I ever used it much, and I doubt young men use it today, but I guess for a time men rated women in this manner, and Bo was supposed to be the pinnacle: the perfect 10. The movie got good reviews, did great at the box office (it was the seventh-biggest grosser of 1979), piqued interest in Ravel's “Bolero,” and made a star out of Dudley Moore. But it was Bo who became the phenomenon. Everyone was talking about her. She was on the cover of every magazine. I'm sure tons of movie offers rolled in.
But she didn't do any of those. Instead, she made movies written and directed by her husband, John Derek.
Also for the kids: Who is John Derek? He was the reason I was looking at Bo's IMDb page in the first place. The other night I was watching Nicholas Ray's “Run for Cover,” starring James Cagney, and Derek has the secondary role, which ... which was him. In the 1950s, he was the cute, lightweight, second. He played Joshua, for example, in “The Ten Commandments” (his own “10” movie), but apparently he didn't like acting much, and in the mid-1960s he traded it in for a directing career: “Nightmare in the Sun” with Ursulla Andress, and “Childish Things” with Linda Evans, among others. These actresses weren't just his stars, either; they were his wives. He was married to Ursula 1957-1966 and to Linda Evans 1969-1975. In 1976, at age 49, he married Bo. She was 19. It was kind of creepy. It was like he kept trading in the same beautiful, high-cheekboned, Nordic woman for a newer model.
It gets creepier. In 1981, in the aftermath of all the “10” attention, a low-budget, soft-core movie, “Fantasies,” starring Bo, and directed by John, was released. Except it wasn't filmed in the aftermath of “10.” It was filmed in Greece. In 1973. Back when Bo was called Mary Cathleen Collins of Long Beach, Calif. And she was 16.
In the real aftermath of “10,” instead of making any of the studio pics she was offered, Bo played Jane in John Derek's “Tarzan, the Ape Man.” It did OK box office ($36 mil, the 15th highest-grosser of the year), but the reviews were scathing (10% on Rotten Tomatoes). Three years later, John directed her in “Bolero,” about a 1920s movie fan who travels to Europe to lose her viriginity. It made less money ($9 mil, the 83rd highest-grosser of the year), and the reviews were even more scathing (0% on RT). Five years after that, John directed her in “Ghosts Can't Do It,” which made ... $25k? I guess? It's hard to figure its box-office take because the movie was barely released in theaters. It was certainly never reviewed. By then, no one cared. By then, the national “Bo” was somebody else.
And that was that. There went her career. She was in “10,” did crap for her husband, disappeared.
So back to the original question: According to IMDb's algorithms, what is Bo Derek known for? Here you go:
Yes. Not “10.”
I guess I kind of see it? “Tommy Boy” is there because Farley/Spade are still popular, “Bolero” and “Tarzan” are for the soft-core boys, and “Ghost Can't Do It” because it includes a cameo by Donald Trump. For which he won a Razzie. Back then.
Plus who watches “10” anymore?
But it's still wrong. The chart below is how often her name comes up, historically, on newspapers.com. That peak in 1980 is more than 26,000 mentions. Then the long slog downward.
The question for IMDb is this: How do you incorporate such historical information into the “Known For” algorithm? Or should they keep the algorithm as it is—about who comes to IMDb—but just change the title? That would be the easy solution. But I expect no solution. Since I doubt they see a problem.
The bigger lesson here is the Hamiltonian one: Don't throw away your shot.
Here's a bonus via newspapers.com: My father's 1984 review of “Bolero.”
Tuesday October 20, 2020
Dodgers vs. Rays: a World Series Comparison
This was kind of fun to put together. Definitely a tale of Haves and Have Nots:
|YEARS IN EXISTENCE||138||23|
|FIRST PENNANT YEAR||14th||11th|
|FIRST CHAMPIONSHIP YEAR||53rd||n/a|
|OVERALL WIN %||.528||.477|
|2020 WIN %||.717||.667|
|PRIOR NAMES||Grays, Atlantics, Bridegrooms, Grooms, Superbas, Trolley Dodgers, Robins||Devil Rays|
|FANS' QUIRK||Leave before 9th inning||Fans?|
|BEST HISTORICAL PLAYER (bWAR)||Clayton Kershaw (69.6)||Evan Longoria (51.8)|
|BEST 2020 PLAYER (bWAR)||Mookie Betts (3.4)||Brandon Lowe (2.1)|
|RETIRED NUMBERS||1 (Pee Wee Reese), 2 (Tommy Lasorda), 4 (Duke Snider), 19 (Jim Gilliam), 20 (Don Sutton), 24 (Walter Alston), 32 (Sandy Koufax), 39 (Roy Campanella), 42 (Jackie Robinson), 53 (Don Drysdale)||12 (Wade Boggs), 66 (Don Zimmer)|
|HALL OF FAMERS||Wee Willie Keeler (1939), Dazzy Vance (1955), Zack Wheat (1959), Jackie Robinson (1962), Burleigh Grimes (1964), Roy Campanella (1969), Sandy Koufax (1972), Duke Snider (1980), Walter Alston (1983), Don Drysdale (1984), Pee Wee Reese (1984), Leo Durocher (1994), Tommy Lasorda (1997), Don Sutton (1998)||n/a|
|GREAT BOOKS WRITTEN ABOUT||The Boys of Summer, Baseball's Great Experiment, Sandy Koufax, Opening Day, I Never Had It Made, 1947: When All Hell Broke Loose in Baseball||n/a|
|GREAT MOVIES MADE ABOUT||42||The Rookie|
|ALL-STARS ON 2020 SQUAD||Clayton Kershaw (8x), Mookie Betts (4x), Kenley Jensen (3x), Cody Bellinger (2x), Corey Seager (2x), Alex Wood, Blake Treinen, Walker Buehler, Justin Turner, AJ Pollock, Joc Pederson, Max Muncy||Charlie Morton (2x), Brandon Lowe, Austin Meadows, Blake Snell|
|2020 PAYROLL||$107.9 million (2nd)||$28.2 million (28th)|
How odd is it for the Dodgers to be the Haves? Historically they've been so Have Nots, particularly vis a vis the New York Yankees. At the same time, just add it up. They have the second-most postseason appearances in MLB history (34), and the second-most number of pennants (21), one more than the Giants and two more than the Cardinals. Where they lack? This very thing. Titles. Rings. They have six, nothing to sneeze at, but that puts them sixth all-time, behind the Giants (8), Red Sox (9), Athletics (9), Cardinals (11), and, of course, the damn Yankees (27).
The Rays have no titles. One of six teams with none: Rangers, Padres, Brewers, Mariners, Rockies.
I think the saddest of the above comparisons is retired numbers, mostly because the Rays' retired numbers are just sad. Zimmer was a Rays coach for the 11 seasons before he died. And yes, he was great, a flamboyant baseball character, but better known for being on other teams. And ... coach? Not a manager? How many coaches have had numbers retired? But the worst is Boggs. Played all of two seasons with the Devil Rays, his last two seasons, where he accumulated a bWAR of 1.2.
And on the other side? Not just the left-hand of God, Sandy Koufax, but Jackie Robinson, a player whose impact on the game was so great his number has been retired by every Major League team. Including the Rays.
The most important comparison, though? 2020 win percentage. It's kinda close, and that's all that matters. Plus the Rays are younger and better rested. Plus they're the team that took out the Yankees, so ... respect.
I'm rooting for 7.
ADDENDUM: I guess I'm rooting for Clayton Kershaw, the best pitcher of his generation who stumbles in the postseason. Last night, during Game 1, he didn't stumble. He gave up a hit to the first batter he faced, a walk to the third, and a homer in the Xth, but that was it. Good line: 6 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 8-1 K/BB. Trouble is, he's had a lot of good lines in the post. Then the eruptions. I'm hoping for none the rest of the way.
Monday October 19, 2020
Son of a Scalia
“Since Donald Trump entered politics, he has surrounded himself with grifters and figures of gross incompetence. [Secretary of Labor Eugene] Scalia is part of a smaller cohort: distinguished conservatives who have joined the Administration to advance their own ideological goals. A graduate of the University of Chicago Law School, where he edited the law review, and a partner at the white-shoe firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, where he has specialized in labor-and-employment law and administrative law, Scalia has an intellectual pedigree that most members of Trump's inner circle lack. Temperamentally, he has little in common with the bombastic President. Yet, like virtually everyone in the Republican Party, Scalia has chosen to view this Administration chiefly in opportunistic terms. His longtime agenda has been curtailing government, and at the Labor Department he has overseen the rewriting of dozens of rules that were put in place to protect workers. As the coronavirus has overrun America, Scalia's impulse has been to grant companies leeway rather than to demand strict enforcement of safety protocols.”
-- Eyal Press, “Trump's Labor Secretary Is a Wrecking Ball Aimed at Workers,” in The New Yorker. And yes, Eugene is the son of. Seriously depressing article. Make sure you read it.
Sunday October 18, 2020
Joe Morgan (1943-2020)
When I was a kid growing up in Minnesota in the mid-1970s, the most imitated batting stances, in no particular order, were:
- the sudden Killebrew crouch
- Stargell's pinwheels
- the Carew leanback
- Joe Morgan chicken flap
I was in an AL city, there was no interleague play, but I saw Morgan and the Big Red Machine all the time. They were always in the thick of it, and Morgan, who died last Sunday, was one of their in-the-thick-of-it-iest players. Or was he? His overall postseason line isn't good: .182/.323/.348. Cf., Pete Rose: .321/.388/.440. Or Johnny Bench: .266/.335/.527. Both are better than their career numbers, Morgan's is way worse. I do like the leap from his awful BA to his pretty good OBP. That's so Joe. Here's a fun stat: In the 1976 NLCS against the 103-win Philadelphia Phillies, which the Reds swept, Morgan went hitless in three games: .000 BA. Guess what his OBP was? .462. Then he went on to win the 1976 World Series MVP in a four-game sweep of the Yanks, with a .333/.412/.733 line. That may have been one of the few postseason contests where I rooted for the Reds. I didn't like them. I liked Morgan and Bench and Tony Perez I guess, but my antipathy for Pete Rose trumped all.
Did we know how good Morgan was? Maybe a little. He was NL MVP two years in a row, '75 and '76, the stolid, sparkplug center of that insane lineup, so we kind of knew. But OBP wasn't yet a thing. Advanced measures weren't a thing. WAR wasn't a thing. There's a great story about Morgan's first spring training with the Reds after he was traded from the Astros in Nov. 1971 as part of an eight-player deal. He was practicing laying down bunts when Pete Rose yelled at him. “Hey, we don't do that shit here!” They didn't sacrifice. No, they took. Like Paul Muni, they stole, and Morgan wound up second to Lou Brock for most stolen bases in the 1970s. And they hit. And they hit with power. And that kind of atmosphere was exactly what Joe Morgan apparently needed.
Prior to the trade, he'd had some good seasons, particularly his 1965 rookie year (he finished second in the ROY voting) and 1971. But from '72 to '76, this is where Morgan ranked in terms of bWAR for position players in all of Major League Baseball—NL and AL:
- 1972: first
- 1973: first
- 1974: second
- 1975: first
- 1976: first
By bWAR, he's the 21st greatest position player of all time. He's ahead of Yaz, Clemente, Brett, Griffey Jr., Carew, Boggs, Kaline. He's ahead of Bench and Rose. I think we thought he was good; I just don't think we thought he was that good.
So it's funny to note, as Joe Posnanski does in his obit, that Morgan hated bWAR. All the advanced stats showed what a great player he was and yet he hated all the advanced stats. You gotta smile.
Saturday October 17, 2020
Tweeted this the other day:
That was ... Thursday? Just two days ago? Wow. Like everything in the Trump era, it seemed like forever.
Yesterday evening, Friday evening, our ballots finally arrived. I was going to fill mine out with a glass of hopefully celebratory bourbon but instead waited until this morning with a cup of coffee. I remembered Election Night 2016, that horrible evening, when it suddenly seemed clear that Trump would win, and I immediately stopped drinking. I decided I needed to have my wits about me if I was living in a country dumb enough to elect Donald Fucking Trump president of the United States. So I wanted to send him out with that same feeling. This morning, sitting at my desk, The Stranger endorsements up online, and my Covid-era album, George Harrison's “All Things Must Pass,” playing, I had at it. I went federal office first, tackled the rest (maintain ... maintain ... fuck Tim Eyman, man), then walked both my wife's and my ballots over to the nearest ballot drop box—the one at Seattle Central on Broadway. I think I did that a few years ago? Maybe 2014? That one was a weekday evening and no one was around. This was a cool, drizzly Saturday morning, and in the span of two minutes I think I saw a dozen people drop off their ballots. Almost everyone smiling behind their face masks. It was a good feeling.
Other differences? I added my email address on the back of the envelope in case there were questions. And I kept the “Remove this stub” stub so I can track the ballot and make sure it's counted. I know Washington isn't a focus but I trust nothing about this guy.
Again, it felt good. Keep it up. Vote. Assume nothing. Seventeen days.
It's not always going to be this gray.
Friday October 16, 2020
'What the heck were any of us thinking, that selling a TV-obsessed, narcissistic individual to the American people was a good idea?“
Yes. What the heck were any of you thinking?
For the past four years, Ben Sasse, U.S. Senator from Nebraska, always seemed like one of those potentially reasonable Republicans who might speak up about the damage Donald Trump is doing to the executive branch, the federal government, American democracy itself. Might is the key word there. He always sounded like he might say something ... and then he wouldn't. And disasters would continue apace.
Three weeks before the 2020 election, during a telephone town hall with constituents (Sasse is running for re-election, too), he finally let loose. Highlights:
- On COVID: ”He refused to treat it seriously. For months, he treated it like a news-cycle-by-news-cycle P.R. crisis.“ Trump's leadership during the crisis wasn't ”reasonable or responsible, or right.“
- ”The way he kisses dictators' butts. I mean, the way he ignores that the Uighurs are in literal concentration camps in Xinjiang right now. He hasn't lifted a finger on behalf of the Hong Kongers.“
- ”The United States now regularly sells out our allies under his leadership, the way he treats women, spends like a drunken sailor.“
- ”He mocks evangelicals behind closed doors,“ he added. ”His family has treated the presidency like a business opportunity. He's flirted with white supremacists.“
About fucking time. Imagine holding all this in for years. For years.
And why is he talking now? Apparently it's the fear of a blue tsunami. It's less the damage Trump is doing to the country, in other words, than the damage he's doing to the GOP:
[Sasse] predicted that a loss by Mr. Trump on Election Day, less than three weeks away, ”looks likely,“ and said that Republicans would face steep repercussions for having backed him so staunchly over four tumultuous years.
”The debate is not going to be, 'Ben Sasse, why were you so mean to Donald Trump?'“ Mr. Sasse said, according to audio obtained by The Washington Examiner and authenticated by The New York Times. ”It's going to be, 'What the heck were any of us thinking, that selling a TV-obsessed, narcissistic individual to the American people was a good idea?'"
Welcome to the party, pal. Looking forward to those steep repercussions.