Even casual observers are aware of the Chicago Cubs’ failure over the last one hundred plus years to win a championship, a level of accomplishment that has built up an aura of inevitability that welcomes suckers, gamblers, statisticians and romantics in equal measure. Writers far more tortured and elegant than I have written about the agony of cheering for the Chicago Cubs.
This legacy of ineptitude is somewhat misleading. The club was actually pretty good, all things considered, from 1903-1945. Since WWII? Only 5 seasons of 90 or more wins. Tampa Bay alone has equaled that mark, and not just from the franchise’s inception in 1998, which would be cringe inducing enough, but since the name change in 2008 from Devil Rays to Rays. Yeesh.
I understand people who are resistant to placing their faith in numbers. It must be especially threatening to those who have built a professional identity through a lifetime of success either without the use of, or more likely, in direct opposition to analytics. To be told your entire life you are great, knowledgeable, or both, and to then have those core values, really your entire sense of self, challenged must be difficult. To value what you see, what you have done, everything you have been taught, well, this is a difficult thing to toss away, even in the face of overwhelming evidence.
I was taught this was a rock. It’s still a rock, right? It sure looks like a rock. I’ll bat it leadoff just in case.
So when I write that Don Mattingly is an idiot, please understand it’s done with affection, understanding and compassion. He was a great, great player. He’s from Indiana. But idiot he is. Continue reading →
As a child barely seven years of age, I saw this delightful and highly influential piece of trash in the theater when it was released out into the world in 1983. It’s one of my earliest movie memories and gives proof to the notion that there is no film so awe-inspiringly awful that it will not still beat the pants off the outdoors during an Indiana summer. Attendance wasn’t by design, mind you. My mom was out running errands and had made the classic mistake of taking her young children with her instead of leaving them alone in the house to fend off potential burglars, and she was desperate to get out of the heat. The timing was fortunate, in a way, I’m not even sure air conditioning had been invented before the 80’s. Continue reading →
Thank you for the recent letter updating me on all the goings on and whatnot at HWS, signed by the President of the Colleges but likely written by a number of administrators, detailing the current state of affairs at the institution where I managed a BA in history, won a chess tournament, broadcast the 1997 women’s soccer division III national championship game (which we lost 1-0) and was threatened with expulsion by the dean, because apparently every movie about a crusty dean threatening students is based on reality.
Anyway, back to the massively insulting/disgusting letter, mostly a bunch of banal blah that is likely cut and pasted from previous versions sent to alumni, in which you include the following paragraph: Continue reading →
I have amassed a pretty respectable number of frequent flyer miles over the years and decided to take them out of mothballs and use 60,000 in exchange for a ticket to Istanbul. I’ve spent precious little time in Istanbul in the summertime, and by precious little I mean none. This was a wrong that needing righting. The only downside was the only flight available from Delta included a seven-hour layover in Seattle followed by another seven-hour layover in Amsterdam. Still, no reason to sit in an airport when reliable public transportation can provide me all manner of entertainment. I’d start with a Sunday afternoon baseball game, move on to a favorite restaurant and close it out with a visit to an antiquated relic of the 19th century. Continue reading →
It was roughly twenty years ago that Bosnian Serbs, with arms and the direct support of the Serbian military and government, laid siege to Sarajevo for almost three years. It was part of a Serbian nationalistic effort to lay total waste to an entire people through organized rape and murder. I have no vested interest in Balkan politics save for a general concern over the state of humanity and/or flooding disasters, but as an exercise in short-term memory, holding grudges and skewed perception it’s hard to beat. I still can’t help but think about Serbian atrocities whenever I watch Novak Djokovic play tennis.
Halicarnassus, better known as Bodrum, was the birthplace of unofficial first historian Herodotus. I found the city intriguing as a tourist destination for the origin story alone, but others appreciate this modern-day resort town in southwestern Turkey more for the vacationer’s paradise it has evolved into. It’s nestled against the Aegean, with stunning vistas, calm blue water, sun, sand, culinary delights (provided you enjoy seafood) and numerous historical treasures. Continue reading →
So you’re saying there’s slightly less of a chance.
It was reported today that Luke Hochevar is out for the season, due to undergo Tommy John surgery. This is manageable given the depth of the Royals bullpen, but will still likely cost the Royals one win this season, dropping their expected win total to 88. Kansas City Royals 2014 Preview
Injuries are a reality for every team, but the Royals have almost no margin for error, which is to say I really hope a little extra firepower is added to the team at some point or at the very least that James Shields and Greg Holland are driving to Kauffman stadium in one of these.
I gave soccer a chance as a spectator sport in 1994 during the World Cup and I’ve been infatuated with it ever since. It’s a wonderful game, though anyone who’s suffered through the unbearable tedium of teams collaborating for table position with listless passing in the midfield on the way to the inevitable 0-0 yawnfest knows it is not without risk. At the core of the game is an idea, though, the sort of core sensibility that pervades all great games, and that is the ingrained element of possibility, of something meaningful arising from out of nowhere. Not just some notion that anything can happen, since this is true about every single moment of every single thing that will ever happen in life, but rather that something spectacular and wholly unlikely can arise from the mundane and banal.
Pitchers and catchers are reporting for duty, and the marathon that is the major league baseball season will soon commence with the cactus and grapefruit leagues splitting squads and testing arms on the way to telling us almost nothing of value in terms of accurately predicting the events of the upcoming season. In the vein of pointlessly speculating, and in lieu of more productive activity in the real world, let’s examine the prospects for the 2014 Kansas City Royals. Continue reading →