Thursday, December 27, 2007

Tigers and doubt

If I may wax philosophical for a moment:

There are certain subjects that are not appropriate objects of doubt. For example, I don't think it makes a lot of sense to doubt one's own existence: if you don't exists, what's doing the doubting?

If I may wax philosophical about large jungle cats for a moment:

Here's a quote from MSNBC's article about the recent tiger escape/attack at the San Francisco Zoo:

Experts doubt tiger could have leapt

One zoo official insisted the tiger did not get out through an open door and must have climbed or leaped out. But Jack Hanna, former director of the Columbus Zoo, said such a leap would be an unbelievable feat and “virtually impossible.”

Instead, he speculated that visitors could have been fooling around and might have taunted the animal and perhaps even helped it get out by, say, putting a board in the moat.

Ron Magill, a spokesman at the Miami Metro Zoo, said it was unlikely a zoo tiger could make such a leap, even with a running start.

“Captive tigers aren’t nearly in the kind of shape that wild tigers have to be in to survive,” he said. He said taunting can definitely make an animal more aggressive, but “whether it makes it more likely to get out of an exhibit is purely speculative.”


See, if your zoo finishes building its tiger enclosure and you take a look at it and there's doubt around the issue of whether or not it will, in fact, adequately contain the tiger, you know what: go back and redesign the tiger enclosure. Not an appropriate subject for doubt, zookeepers.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Mitchell Retort

Disorganized reactions to a first skimming of the Mitchell Report:

  • It's short on new, revelatory information. I'd be a embarrassed to have turned up so little we didn't already know after 20 months worth of work and $20 million.
  • Roger Clemens has apparently been a bawdy little monkey. ESPN.com is reporting that there are over 9 pages of material specifically relating to him and 82 references to him by name.
  • Human growth hormone appears to have performed as advertised for Mo Vaughn.
  • As Rotoworld notes, HGH apparently does not help you throw to first base.
  • The willful turning a blind eye in the face of overwhelming and obvious steroid use by players on the part of ownership and management is really reprehensible. Giant's GM Brian Sabean deserves particular dishonorable mention in this regard. See the section on Barry Bonds starting on page 121 of the report.
  • Hey baseball teams, here's a suggestion -- when someone applies for a job with your organization as an athletic trainer or wishes to use your facilities while working with one of your players in the capacity of an athletic trainer, how about verifying that he is, in fact, a qualified athletic trainer and not a seedy gym rat who struggled to make the same middle school baseball team as your star player.
  • With all the Mets of the early 90s on steroids, how come they sucked so bad?
  • Players named in the report involved in trades or signing contracts in the last two weeks: Miguel Tejada (traded from Baltimore to Houston), Jose Guillen (signed with Kansas City), Andy Pettitte (signed with Yankees), Paul Lo Duca (signed with Washington), Eric Gagne (signed with Brewers). Nook Logan was also non-tendered by Washington on Wednesday.



Thanks to Mike Stein for those last two points.

Here are two marginally more organized thoughts:

1) Having reviewed the report, I think it was improper for Mitchell to have included player names, given the nature and quantity of evidence included and the level of cooperation he received from the MLBPA and its members. To be clear, I don't think it's improper or unfair towards the players who were named: they made their beds and now they need to lie in them. Mostly, I think it's unfair to the public by virtue of the impression that it creates.

The MLBPA clearly decided that its members were not going to cooperate with the investigation and, for the most part, they didn't. This means the only players who were implicated in the report were those who could be fingered by sources outside of the MLBPA that Mitchell et al were able to get in touch with. On any realistic reckoning, this surely represents only a minority of players who used performance-enhancing drugs. In the interest of justice and perspective, I think this fact needs to be made abundantly clear, because if you don't do so, it contributes to...

2) The report succeeding in doing a pretty clever job of what I'm sure MLB would like very much for it to do: laying the groundwork for moving past the issue. Less than half of the 88 players mentioned in the report are still in the majors, and all of the specific incidents described took place 2 or more years ago. It's easy for baseball to spin this in such a way as to suggest that the problem isn't really an ongoing one (or has at least been greatly diminished).

But if you read between the lines, you get a sense of the culture of indifference (if not tacit support) that pervades baseball when it comes to performance-enhancing substances. There are so many stories of fellow players, clubhouse employees, training staff and management choosing to ignore evidence of the use of banned substances (the nonsense at the Giants being the most clear example). That just doesn't happen unless their use is simultaneously widespread, widely accepted and deeply entrenched. You're not going to convince me that in a few short years, that type of culture has been totally turned around, especially when the current drug of choice, HGH, can't be detected by available testing methods.

Monday, December 10, 2007

MLB Cookbook

In what is sure to be Bud Selig's finest moment as Commissioner, Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association are proud to announce the release of Don Zimmer's Guide to Healthy Eating: A Baseball Cookbook.

Selig proudly announced that all 32 teams contributed recipes for the book, but admitted that only about 8 recipes had any realistic chance of being made coming out of Spring Training.

"We share our revenue, and, now, we share our recipes," Selig said. "Revenues and recipes: everyone wins. This will put fans back in the seats around their kitchen tables and allow small market clubs to regularly compete with the big boys, at least gastronomically speaking."

MLB also took the opportunity to announce that Rachel Ray will be the new spokesperson for baseball, following the departure of equally obvious choice, Dane Cook. Ray said she was excited about the opportunity.

"MLB and EVOO: I live for this!" she added.

A selection of the recipes found in the 162-page book follows:

Appetizers:
Blum-in Onion (Astros)
McCann-ed Tomato Soup with Chippered Hampton and Crab (Braves)
Casey Blaked Goat Cheese Dip with Carmona-lized Onions and Figs (Indians)
Split Pea-vy Soup (Padres)

Main Course:
Chicken Catch-a-Torre (Dodgers)
Baked Zito with Dur-ham and sausage in a creamy, clear sauce (Giants)
Spaghetti Colonese (Angels)
Slowey Cooked Chicken with Silva-red Almonds (Twins)
French Bread Piazza (submitted by the A's, but nobody wants to claim it anymore)
Cedar Plank Salomon Torres over Turnbowtie Pasta (Brewers)
Eggplant Rolen-tini (Cardinals)
Chicken/Beef Ojedas (Diamondbacks)
Spotted Dickey (Mariners)
Seared Hermidatlantic Marlin with Byung-Hyun Kim Chee (Marlins)
Pork Lowe Maine (Mets) (caution: small morsels may present choking hazard!)
Beef Kouzmanoff (Padres)
Riccota-stuffed Cattalan-oni with Saltalamacchia and Pepper crust (Rangers)
Chopped Matsui (Yankees)
Pasta Prima Rivera (Yankees)
Rocky Mountain Oysters in Holliday-aise Sauce (Rockies)
Duckworth a l'Orange and Sweet-ney Corn Pozole (Royals)

Sides:
Brocail-i and Cheese (Astros)
Carl Craw-fish Etouffee (Rays)

Desserts:
Rum Rai-Zaun Pie (Blue Jays)
Lemon Harang Pie (Reds)
Felix Pie (Cubs)
Assortment of Cream Huffs (Orioles)
Chocolate Lowell-ipops with Cinnamon Crisps (Red Sox)
Pudge Fudge with G-Inge-r-swirled Ice Cream (Tigers)
Chocolate Chip Mientkiewicz Ice Cream (Yankees)

Beverages:
Wily Mo Pena Colada (Nationals)
Dye-t Koner-coke (White Sox)
Mountain Dewitt (Orioles)
Sunkist Pete Orr-ange (Braves)

We also do breakfast!
Green Eggs and Hamels (Phillies)
Jason Bay-gel and Cream Cheese (Pirates)
Hash brown Po-theriots (Cubs)

Don Zimmer's Guide to Healthy Eating: A Baseball Cookbook is available wherever books are sold and features a forward by Sidney Ponson.

-- Thanks to OBFBL members Paul Cardillo, Mike Stein and Bill Barker.

Friday, December 7, 2007

I Topped This!

Over the summer, my improv group friends and I made some videos for the Heinz Top This commercial challenge and then completely failed to hear anything about them again. (I happened to think our videos were pretty darn funny, but whatever).

Today in the mail, I received a plain brown package from "MyHeinz.com". Inside was a postcard saying:

Your debut as a director in the Heinz "Top This" Challenge helped to make our commercial campaign such a huge hit that audiences everywhere are demanding more!



They go on to talk about their new contest starting December 14th where they're offering another $57,000 prize.

But also inside the box was this little item:


I think that's pretty rad.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Amazing statistic

On the second page of an article in today's Slate magazine about why the government should pay you to lose weight, there's an absolutely amazing statistic quoted from a study of heroin addicts:

One famous study asked heroin addicts and nonaddicts to tell a story by completing the following sentence: "I woke up this morning and I thought about the future and I thought ..." On average, nonaddicts described a future that was 4.7 years away, whereas the addicts described a future that was just nine days away.


What a profoundly telling example of short-term, concrete-bound thinking.

The really interesting question is does the heroin addiction cause the short-term mentality or does a propensity towards short-term thinking lead to heroin addiction?