Wild Card

If you’re a fan of the A’s, Rangers, or Angels, you gotta like what happened at today’s trading deadline. The only AL contender that clearly improved itself was the Yankees, who stole Esteban Loaiza.

The Yanks were gonna make the playoffs anyway. The odds that the wild card will come from the AL West just went up, methinks.

Padres-Rangers Trade

Fullmer as Padre? Misplaced.
This DH should not be first-based.
Getting Brad for pinch-hitting,
San Diego’s admitting
Cirillo’s been simply a waste.

Update: This trade has been nixed.
I guess that this blessing is mixed.
Cirillo’s still there,
Wasting good air,
But Brad’s knee wasn’t properly fixed.

Humbug In Print

In addition to presaging Douglas Adams and his Restaurant at the End of the Universe, this quote from S.J Perelman demonstrates the proper use of the word “humbug”:

What floored me, actually, wasn’t that the veal had found a way to communicate–a more or less inevitable development, once you accepted the basic premise of Elsie, the Borden cow–but rather its smarmy and masochistic pitch. Here, for the first time in human experience,a supposedly inanimate object, a cutlet, had broken through the barrier and revealed itself as a creature with feelings and desires. Did it signalize its liberation with ecstasy, cry out some exultant word of deliverance, or even underplay it with a quiet request like “Mr. Watson, come here. I want you”? No; the whole message reeked of self-pity, of invalidism, of humbug. It was a snivelling, eunuchoid plea for special privilege, a milepost of Pecksniffery. It was disgusting.

–S.J. Perelman
I Am Not Now, Nor Have I Ever Been, A Matrix Of Lean Meat
New Yorker Magazine
1953
From the Fierce Pajamas Anthology

Or Andy McGaffigan & Angus MacGyver

There’s a Star Trek: TNG episode where the Good Guys come up with a paradoxical logic puzzle that is designed to drown the Borg Collective in a massive feedback loop, trapping the Bad Guys in a neverending attempt to solve an unsolvable puzzle. Paralysis by analysis, if you will.

I wanted to respond to Brandon Chizum’s article comparing baseball and wine. What Brandon is trying to describe is the aesthetic experience: the sensation we get when we experience a pleasurable work of art, and how this sensation can be common across separate art forms. I started to try to describe this sensation scientifically, as a function of the brain. But I didn’t realize that Brandon’s article was, for me, a Borg Logic Trap.

My response kept growing and growing until it was no longer a short blog entry, but had evolved into some kind of horrific five-volume Manifesto Of All Things Ken, with no end in sight.

So I gave up. But I just wanted to say that there’s nothing particularly unique about the link between baseball and wine. You could find similar links between Skateboarding & Flower Arranging. Or Sumo Wrestling & Opera Singing. Or Marilyn Monroe & Manny Ramirez. Or Greg Maddux & Gilgamesh. Or…

This is your brain. This is your brain on fire. Stop, drop and roll.

For you see, art is like a program fed into an automata, and the automata goes into a certain state when…

Honey, where’s the remote? Oh, never mind, I found it. Click.

So then, the information “Oakland cuts Eric Karros”, is input into my brain, and my brain outputs “Not Surprised”. First of all, Karros didn’t hit. Duh. But there’s also the fact that Oakland first basemen have a rather unique requirement in their job descriptions: with all that foul territory, they need to be able to run down foul popups. Scott Hatteberg is pretty darn good at it. Karros, on the other hand, looked like a horse trying to swim through quicksand.

BLUB BLUB BLUB BLUB BLUB. BLORP.

The Brawl

Arroyo plunks ARod right on the arm.
ARod’s enraged, though the pitch did no harm.
ARod starts shouting, “That was intended!”
Arroyo replies back, “Don’t be offended.
The pitch got away. It was not at all planned.
The ball merely slipped right out of my hand.”
Says ARod, “Yeah, right. Any bridges to sell?
I do not believe you. You can go straight to” Varitek cuts off this long conversation:
“Mr. Rodriguez, I see your frustration,
But would you be kind now, and go take your base?”
ARod shouts, “Shut up, punk! Outta my face!
I’ve heard enough of this dumb Boston bunk!”
Varitek asks, “Who you calling a punk?”
ARod points moundward, shouting, “Punk? You!”
And also to Varitek, “You’re a punk, too!”
The reply: “You seem tense! Did you get enough lunch?
Here’s a nice knuckle sandwich and a cupful of punch!”
ARod and Varitek fight to the ground
Players flood toward them from everywhere ’round
As if a dam of sanity had burst and dementia was now surging through and

all the red sox in the dugout come pouring in out of their dugout
all the yankees in the dugout come pouring in out of their dugout
alltheredsox inthebullpen comerunningin fromthebullpen
alltheyanksinthebullpen comerunninginfromthebullpen
and all these people start colliding
and grabbing on to each other and
there’s just a huge mass of people all piled on top of
each other in a big jumble between home plate and first base
and you can’t really tell who is who because there’s
like sixty people all heaped up clustered together
some smashing together some separating each other and all
scratching and clawing and ripping pulling pushing piling
jammingsquishingnudgingpokingelbowingjostling
and suddenly yankees starting pitcher tanyon sturtze comes running
across the scene and for some inexplicable reason he jumps onto
gabe kapler and puts him in a choke hold and then david ortiz sees this
and tries to pull sturtze off of kapler, but he cannot because sturtze
has a really good grip on kapler, but ortiz does manage to get sturtze and kapler
to fall over
onto the ground
near the dugout
and then kapler manages
to escape the choke hold
of sturtze
and finally

breathe again

sometimes, when the world seems too intense,
a small, human sacrifice
is what it needs–

a madness to stop the madnesses,
a hurt to stop the hurts.

A trail of blood
oozes down the face of Tanyon Sturtze,

and the game proceeds.

And the First Domino Falls…

Tell me if you couldn’t see this one coming about three or four years ago.

No sooner does word begin to leak about a final decision on the Expos home than news also begins to leak about a decision on a new A’s stadium. The A’s are apparently going to try to get a new stadium built in the Coliseum parking lot.

I think what this really means is that Orioles owner Peter Angelos is not going to get a bucketful of cash for the Expos moving to the DC area. If Angelos had gotten a settlement, then that would have set a price that the A’s could have paid the Giants for moving to San Jose. No DC price, however, no SJ dice.

The whole A’s ballpark issue has always been contingent on the Expos issue. A’s owner Steve Schott had been hoping, hoping, hoping for a precedent that would allow him to move his cash registers to Silicon Valley. But now he’s stuck in Oakland. Sniffle, sniffle.

The Coliseum site was viewed as the second-best East Bay site by a city-funded HOK study. The best site, in downtown Oakland, has been designated for a housing project. It’s a shame, because that site, with an abandoned classic movie theater, would have been a really cool place to put a ballpark. The architects could have had a field day with all those ballpark quirks carved by necessity from the surrounding neighborhood.

Parking lots have no quirks. This is my biggest concern with the Coliseum site. Well, that, and the question of where the money to build this thing is going to come from, but that’s just a minor detail, right?

Like it or not, the A’s are competing with the Giants for the Bay Area baseball entertainment dollar. SBC Park has San Francisco Bay to form its quirks, complete with fabulous views. How can the A’s compete with that?

Obviously, the architect would need to emphasize the view of the Oakland Hills. The view won’t be as fabulous as SBC’s, but it would be nice.

But the A’s need to have something that’s better than SBC. To do that, they’d need to take advantage of SBC Park’s flaws.

SBC Park is beautiful, but it’s cramped. The concourses are narrow, and it’s hard to walk around. Being so cramped and crowded, it’s not particularly accomodating to families. In contrast, you’d probably want the New Coliseum to have spacious, comfortable concourses. You’d want a large New Stomper Fun Zone where the kids can be free to run around, perhaps like the “Park in the Park” in San Diego. Then you’d have something to offer baseball fans that’s better than what the Giants have.

As for the quirks, well, I don’t know how to solve that problem. In a parking lot, it would be hard to come up with quirks that wouldn’t be transparently artificial. Perhaps if you go all Frank Gehry postmodern on the place, you can get a funky style to fit into the site somehow, and give it that extra bit of coolness, the sense of place that would make people want to experience being there. But that would require a brilliant architect, and a client who cares for aesthetics beyond just the beautiful sound of a cash register.

As brilliant as the A’s are in running their finances and building their ballclub, I haven’t seen much evidence that any sense of aesthetics runs in the A’s blood. They’re an organization that’s more about science than art. I fear the A’s will make a New Comiskey-type mistake, and just start counting the luxury boxes. We’ll end up with a bland, out-of-place, run-of-the-mill retropark, and the A’s won’t be much better off financially than they are right now, because the ballpark will flop.

I sure hope that won’t be the case. I’ll be making some noise if it is. Stay tuned.

The Morgan Paradox

You can’t use a black hole to travel to an alternate universe, Stephen Hawking explained earlier today.

Too bad. I was hoping to vacation someday in that sexy alternate universe where Spock wears a goatee and Major Kira lies around eating grapes like some kind of Roman empress.

But at least there’s some consolation: by closing the door to alternate universes, Hawking produces baseball statistics, instead. According to CNN:

Hawking settled a 29-year-old bet made with Caltech astrophysicist John Preskill, who insisted in 1975 that matter consumed by black holes couldn’t be destroyed.

He presented Preskill a favored reference work “Total Baseball, The Ultimate Baseball Encyclopedia” after having it specially flown over from the United States.

“I had great difficulty in finding one over here, so I offered him an encyclopedia of cricket as an alternative,” Hawking said, “but John wouldn’t be persuaded of the superiority of cricket.”

Smart guy, that Preskill. But while Hawking was explaining the relationship in our universe between black holes and baseball statistics, he failed to offer any sort of explanation for the Joe Morgan paradox.

The prevailing explanation for the Morgan paradox had been that Joe Morgan is caught in a multiversal quantum entanglement formed by some kind of tunnel between alternate universes.

With such a multiversal tunnel, the Joe Morgan from our universe, which has baseball statistics, could randomly flip-flop quantum states with a Joe Morgan from a universe without baseball statistics. Morgan’s statements would always make sense to him, but others will perceive his utterances as either lucid or nonsensical, depending on which universe Morgan occupies at any given moment.

But with black holes ruled out as a source of multiversal tunnels, the question becomes how a multiversal tunnel could be formed.

Some have suggested that an explosion resulting from a collision of brilliant minds such as Preskill and Ken Jennings could rip a hole in the fabric of the universe large enough for Joe Morgan to pass through.

Unfortunately, Hawking did not comment on this issue in today’s presentation. So for now, the Morgan paradox remains one of the great unsolved mysteries of science.

Linking, Not Thinking

Was this guy, arrested while drunk, nude and covered in nacho cheese, returning from the SABR convention?

I’m not sure if Chris Mullin is insane or a genius, but for the first time in–what, decades?–the Warriors are giving us East Bay residents a reason to pay attention.

Interesting portrait of Dennis Eckersley, as he prepares to enter the Hall of Fame.

Mayobanex Santana: bad player, great name.

Getting inside information about injuries in Oakland may be possible, Will. Stephen Hawking says that some information does indeed escape from black holes.

Would it be better to write a baseball book than a mystery novel, if getting published is one of your goals?

If you’re wondering how I can write so badly, think about the fact that I spent two years studying in the San Jose State English Department, and you’ll understand.

They Might Be Giants and Homestar Runner together? When they meet it’s a happy land!

Note to Ken Macha

Never. Ever. EVER. EVER let Ricardo Rincon face right-handed batters, unless it’s a blowout.

A 0-0 game in the 12th inning is not a blowout. Every other option you have is better.

Rincon gets out Carlos Delgado, fine. That’s what Rincon does, gets lefties out. But then you kept Rincon in to face Gregg Zaun. Zaun walks, of course, and a rally gets started. Fortunately, Justin Lehr bailed him out.