Thursday, 20 December 2012

"Up in the Air," Professional Baseball Edition

Embedded image permalink
Don't Know if George Clooney is
"Attached to the Project" as Yet

ESPN is reporting that journeyman pitcher Edwin Jackson has signed to pitch for the Chicago Cubs in 2012, after agreeing to a four year, $52 million deal. The move means that Jackson will be pitching for his eighth team in 10 years (and ninth, if you count his fifteen minutes on the Toronto roster).

That's a lot of airline miles.  Rick Nelson was less of a travelling man.

A couple of thoughts.

  • This generation may have found its own Mike Morgan, who played for a baker's dozen in his 20 year career, one of them being the Cubs
  • Will Jackson, with his four year deal, know what to do if he's not packing up and moving in November?
  • Edwin will be wearing a new uniform this spring for the fifth straight year.  THAT is impressive.  It's not as impressive as Dave Kingman playing for four teams in one season, or Joel Youngblood, playing  for two teams on the same day, but not bad.
  • I'm in the wrong racket.  In a single season, Jackson will make $13 million.  "Mediocre" is one of many words to describe his performance to get that payday. Lifetime, the guy is 70-71, with a 4.40 ERA.  Last year, pitching for a playoff team (Washington), he went 10-11.  C'est la vie.
  • I feel better that the Blue Jays shelled out $25 million for R.A. Dickey, a mere $12.5 per season.  Dickey won the Cy Young last year...

Say Wha? Nero Continues to Fiddle in Sacramento

California Treasurer Bill Lockyer Calls the Tunes

Just checking in to see the latest foolishness on the soi-disant "fiscal cliff" (TM) at Yahoo Finance, and I came across this little tid-bit.

Bill Lockyer, the current treasurer for the economically sinking state of California has "warned" various i-banks (Credit Suisse, Black Rock) that he would use his power to push the state's two largest public pension funds to "get out of guns," whatever that means.

Now, aside from the irony of a thoroughly bankrupt state employing a political goon like Lockyer to be the "treasurer" of a vault full of IOUs, I marvel at the apparent lack of awareness of a man whose job ostensibly overseeing CALPERS is to provide for the old age pensions of public employees, not to moralize about investment in legal corporations selling legal products.

If I were a school teacher, housing inspector, or clock puncher at Cal Trans, I would be less than thrilled that this guy is not thinking of my best interest when making investment choices.  I might even think of filing an action of fiduciary conflict.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

The New Math (Reloaded)

"It's the new math.  New-ew-ew math.
 It won't do you a bit of good to re-view math.

 It's so simple; so very simple.
 That only a child can do it."

                      -- Tom Lehrer

Ah; the Christmas season.  The tree is trimmed.  The presents are mostly wrapped.  Wassailing is mostly done.  The new year is around the corner.  And the fiscal cliff approaches.

Well; that's not -all- true.  Who goes wassailing anymore?  And what is it, anyways?
But oh, the fiscal cliff; truly, the most wonderful time of the year.

I read today on the financial blogs that the House speaker John Boehner has not presented a "Plan B" to the president, including tax rises on families making $1 million and more.  Taxes on "the rich" will go up, apparently.  Hell, the plan was one floated by Nancy Pelosi last year.

So of course, we've got a deal, right?  The president immediately accepted, and the two then really did dash out to go wassailing.

Well, not quite.

The recalcitrant president has indicated that he would veto such a plan, despite talking ad nauseum for the past 18 months about the need to raise taxes on "millionaires and billionaires."  

Now that such a tax is in front of him, he flatly turns it down?

Because, apparently, there are not enough (or any?) 'cuts' in Boehner's plan.

You read that right.  A DEMOCRATIC president refuses a REPUBLICAN proposal to raise taxes on millionaires because it doesn't have enough CUTS to spending.

We're really through the looking glass, aren't we?

But as nutty as all of that is, the best part is that White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer opined that the two sides were "only a few hundred billion apart," with hope a deal could be reached.

So, in Washington DC, where a millionaire is not a millionaire, now a few hundred billion dollars is now a trivial difference.

We're doomed.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Madness, by Any Other Name

Gun Control: When Is Enough Enough?

A weekend has now passed between us and the horrific shooting in Newtown, CT.  The images of crying, shaken young children will not soon be forgotten.  And the thought of little five and six year old, lifeless children with unopened Christmas presents and named stockings forever awaiting a return that will not come, spending the weekend pending crime scene investigations to be completed is too terrible a thought to consider.

Predictably, the discussion has turned to what to do about this.

I would self-identify as a pretty far-to-the-right conservative.  Not a libertarian, per se, but in that general ZIP code.  And I have to say, listening to my political fellow-travellers talking about this, and in particular, the possibility that we may finally, FINALLY get some sort of sane gun control policy is a journey into madness.

For a start, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee opened the bidding with the comment that this is all due to the fact that Americans have "systematically removed God from our schools."


And National Review have multiple articles arguing that gun control is not a part of the solution.  Indeed, that having gun-free zones actually contributes to the problem.  You see, their logic goes, it would all have been OK if the principal, or the teachers, or maybe a parent dropping of her kids at the kindergarten had been carrying a gun.

It's madness.

For a start, the idea that putting in place limits to the type and/or number of firearms is equivalent to wanting to "ban guns" is not just madness; it's stupidity.  Someone suggested to me that there is "no difference" between ownership of a single-shot hunting rifle, a revolver, a Bushmaster, or a trebuchet (??!!??).


I can see a BIG difference.  A numerical difference.  As in, the number of bodies that will result.

Also, what sort of "hunting" does one propose to do with a military-grade weapon?

At a more reasonable argument from NRO, the suggestion is made that we as Americans have an inalienable right to armaments, and that the Constitution (and amendments) are there not to spell out what our rights are, but what the limitations on our government are.  And the Second Amendment clearly states that our right to keep and bear arms shall not be abridged.  Thus, their argument goes, God himself has granted people the right to arm themselves with whatever weapon they choose.


The Second Amendment states that we have a God given right (or, natural right, if you prefer) to keep and bear arms to defend ourselves and our liberties.  That is a FAR cry from arguing that God in His wisdom has decided that we all may arm ourselves to whatever level we want, with absolutely no restriction.

How many of such "conservatives" would argue we have the right to bazookas, or artillery pieces, or perhaps a nuclear-tipped warhead?

And while we are at it, if God has given us the right to pack whatever weaponry we wish, then how does the government have the power to remove such a "right" from mentally ill people?  Or criminals?

I've actually heard some people claim that we "need" these weapons in case our government gets too tyrannical, so that we may rise up against it.


Who in his right mind thinks that a disorganised band of delusional buffoons are going to be able to over-throw the government, with its tanks, planes, helicopters, artillery pieces?  "Red Dawn" was a movie, folks.  And a not-well-made one.

The point is, sensible people understand that we need to balance the "rights" (and more accurately, the desires) of one individual against the rights of others.

The Republicans are just dead wrong on this.  Yes, we need to take steps to reduce the toxicity of the sewage culture - with its phony machismo, out-sized sense of "respect" that is frankly narcissistic, and plain glorification of violence.  Yes, we need parents to be parents.  We need to make sure that mentally ill people have the resources and equally, avail themselves of those resources.

But I'm sorry.  Pretending that bromides about how "guns don't kill people, people kill people," or clinging to fantasies that these yahoos are somehow keeping an otherwise tyrannical government in check is killing people.

The Democrats are right on this one.

We NEED to look at serious gun control.


Friday, 14 December 2012

And the Band Plays On

Last night, I got cross at my seven year old son.  It's not an infrequent occurrence, usually a pretty minor crime like ignoring (repeated) requests to put away a toy, or focus on his math homework.  Last night, it was an all-too-typical infraction: during dinner, he just would not sit in his chair properly, and thus spilled some of his cake on the table.  I angrily asked him, "what is wrong with you?  Why can't you sit in a chair properly, like the rest of the human race."


Today, I am confronted with a terrible story; truly, an awful, horrible and tragic event.  Not all of the details are yet known, but as of right now, it appears that a 20 year old man has gone into an elementary school in Newtown, CT, and killed 27 people.  18 of them are children, ages between 5 and 10.  No "reason" is given, though comments are that the 'gunman' had some connection to the school, and it is presumed was upset about something there.

Daily, our news contains typically awful stories of mayhem and violence.  A few days ago, another 'gunman' went into a shopping mall in suburban Oregon and opened fire.  Gun (and other) violence are all too familiar.

I seldom feel affected by the news - usually, I read the story, chalk it up to the crude, brutish nature of the human race, and move on.

But there is something about this story that I find affects me unlike other stories have.

I don't say (or write) this very often, but the emerging narrative from Newtown, CT has actually, literally, left me feeling stunned and shaken.  There is an overwhelming, and awful, feeling of anger and sadness that I'm struggling to control.

I really don't know exactly what to say, or think.  Is it because I have a small child of about the same age?  The time of year (Christmas holidays)?  Maybe the oncoming cold that has left me a bit off to begin with, or the Tylenol Multi-Symptom cold remedy?

It's all too easy to try to just get mad and talk about how the killer is crazy, or that guns are too easy to get, or that our national culture is a sewer of nihilism and violence.

All of these are true, no doubt.

But still.  27 people have been murdered.  18 of them are less than 10 years of age.  Why?

My son probably will tonight, again, fail to sit properly in his chair at the table.  But he also will be able to sleep in his own warm, safe bed.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Thoughts on Election Day, 2012

The day has finally arrived.  A day of reckoning for a president who has, at best, a mixed record.  A day of reckoning for a candidate who, at best, has provided a mixed argument for why he could do better.

One is going to prevail; I suspect it is going to be President Obama, though stranger things have happened.  As a mathematician, I tend to be swayed by data and numbers, and find Nate Silver's 538 Blog to be pretty convincing.

Four years ago, I voted for Barack Obama.  Mainly because I did not like the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also because he seemed to be a different sort of candidate.  One who said the right things - offering optimism that things would be better if he were elected, not fear that things would be worse if he weren't.

My very first "blog" post here was a reaction to the the election; I read through it today.  In summary, my thoughts came down to this:

I agree with Barack Obama that there should not be a Blue or a Red America. To that end, I also reject that there are ethnic "winners" (and therefore, by necessity, ethnic "losers"). It's up to him, and not talking heads with little to recommend them beyond good hair (e.g., Anderson Cooper) to decide that America, and not splinter groups, have won. 
And I guess that is part of the change I am hoping for.

In part, because Mr Obama has failed to deliver on this change, I have voted for his opponent this year.  However, it is not my goal or desire to tell people at this point how to vote.  By now, most have heard the arguments, and have made up their minds.

I only would make the following suggestion.

Whether your candidate wins or whether he loses, we simply have to remember that our political opponents are not our enemies.  In the end, we are all in this together.

I disagree with the Democrats, largely.  But I do not believe that they are evil.  They are just wrong.

They don't want to wreck the country.  Their vision to making it better is just different from mine.

This has been a very nasty campaign in which both candidates and, more to the point, their proxies have said and written terrible accusations about the other.  I guess that's the nature of winner-take-all-politics.

I reject the idea that Barack Obama is a secret communist who wants to destroy our capitalist system, subjugate us to sinister, supra-national powers, or hates success, however you want to define it.

I reject the idea that Mitt Romney is a heartless villain who wants to starve poor people, toss the elderly and weak into a lake, or hates women.

Your political opponents are largely your neighbours, your colleagues, and dare I say it, your friends.  And thus, when we wake up tomorrow and your "team" won or your "team" lost, let's try to remember that fact.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Reflections on Sandy

Let's Give Three Cheers....

Today, for the first time in nearly a week, the sun is shining here in central New Jersey.

"Sandy" is gone; the buzz of saws cutting felled trees surrounds.  Everywhere, water is receding, things are drying, and we're slowly returning to normal.

Our family was blessed - aside from a couple of decorative trees in our yard that succumbed, and the nuisance of power loss for a day or so - we came through relatively unscathed.  No one hurt.  No property destroyed.  Not a drop of water in the basement to be seen.

Others were not so fortunate.

It's of course an election year, so our country has spent the better part of a year arguing about one per cent, 47 per cent, big government, responsibility.  

Personally, I've been a big critic of the Democratic party model - high taxes; support of entrenched public unions; big government.  I remain firm that the model offered by the president and his party is the wrong one, fundamentally.

But I'm not, and never have been, in the camp that says that the "private sector" does everything better than the public one.  I like to consider myself a pragmatist, sceptical about the centralisation of power, but open to arguments and empirical evidence.

The hurricane that has destroyed large parts of my state I think illustrates pretty well that there is a legitimate role for our federal government, and that there are just some things that are too big, too complex, to be left to the states or the private sector.

Sometimes, "big government" may be the right answer.

I also think it's worth taking a second to acknowledge and say "thank you" for public and private sector workers who set aside their own interests and families to take care of the rest of us.  

All Monday evening, as the storm hammered our town, I could see out my window flashing red and blue lights - police officers and firemen (in our town, a volunteer fire department made of residents from various walks of life).  

These people all have families.  They all have homes.  They were out in harm's way, not at home with their loved ones to steady the home front; out there to help keep us safe.  Police, especially, take a lot of criticism, and seldom get the thanks they deserve for a difficult, necessary job.  When you're in real trouble, and you ring 9-11, you don't get Kim Kardashian or Kanye West or any other intellectual flat-liner to come.  

You get a man in a blue uniform whose function in life is to serve and protect - not to amuse.

Police are government workers.

Tuesday morning, crews were out working in the continuing wind and rain to restore power and other infrastructure.  They were in the elements, not at home fixing their own homes or pumping water out of their own basements.  They were not with their families to calm frightened children.

These folks work for the "evil" power companies who make our modern lives and comforts possible.

Today is the first of November, and my property taxes are due.  These are assuredly *not* low, and I would love to have more of our money remain in our bank and not in government coffers.  But we pay taxes for a reason. 

We will rebuild.  We will recover.  

This is because we look out for each other, sure.  We all stand together.  But it's also due to the dedication of people we largely don't think about most days, or worse, complain about on others.

Thanks, guys.  We'll leave the light on tonight for you.

Friday, 26 October 2012

The Land of Chocolate (and High Taxes)

Homer Simpson
Homer Would Probably Vote YES on Prop 30

The election is now just over a week away, and still not quite sure what the 6th of November will hold.  I suspect that President Obama will win, though given how poorly he has performed recently - and just how how shrill and desperate his supporters have become - I am less confident of that than I was a month ago.

But as the French say, plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose.  Put simply, some things apparently never change.

In my old home state of California, awash in a sea of red ink of volume only slightly less than the San Francisco Bay, apparently, Governor Jerry Brown has put on the ballot Proposition 30, which would place sur-taxes on "very high" incomes to help to balance the state's shaky books.

(As an aside, all the sturm und drang about Mitt Romney's infelicitous "binders full of women" remark I suspect should be placed against the Democrats' ledgers full of nothing.)

Governor Brown's proposal would, for example, raise taxes on people earning 500,000 per year from 9.3 to  12.3 per cent.  The Proposition is leading in the polls, and likely will pass, though support is sliding.

Mr Brown today offered in an interview that the rich have a moral obligation to pay more, citing Biblical scripture.  Setting aside Governor Brown's very shaky math - he defended the tax raise pointing out that a 3 per cent rise in tax is modest; in fact, a rise from 9.3 to 12.3 per cent is more than a 30 per cent increase - but what's a little fun with numbers among friends.

The larger issue is do the rich have a moral obligation to pay more in taxes?  And, more to the point, how much more?  We've all seen the data, and heard the notorious comments by Governor Romney about the 47%.  The richest 1 per cent pays about half of all income taxes.  I suspect that, in California, home to among the most progressive income tax regimes in the country, that figure is probably not far off.

I am not a fan of the flat tax for various reasons, and I generally accept the socialist argument that those with more should pay somewhat more.  But when do we ask the question, does the government have a moral obligation to spend its revenues wisely?  To be a better steward of its resources than it is?

Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) recently released his book on government waste, and suffice it to say, I wonder how ethical it is for the government to take in tax money and spend it on sports arenas or the PGA Hall of Fame.  And do we really need to be promote watermelon consumption or to create robotic squirrels?  I've seen all of the "Terminator" movies, and am suspicious that that last effort is going to end well.

But good Old Governor Moonbeam - who once aspired to the priesthood - adheres to at least a segment of the faith.  Right to the bitter end, apparently.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Tune in Tomorrow, When We're Gonna Do *FRACTIONS*

Came across an interesting article yesterday in The Economist.  The authors were commenting on a recent study by economists at the University of Miami that discovered another reason why mathematics are important.

It turns out, the 'average' American's inability to grasp concepts around fractions and proportions, added to the lure of "more," yields poor choices, at least when it comes to the allocation of economic resources (i.e., our money).

The study of 600 shoppers asked for opinions on the best "bargain" when confronted with various options.

Overwhelmingly, when given the choice of the same amount of product for less vs. more product for the same price, the shoppers opted for more, even when the better bargain was the latter.

As an example, shoppers were given the choice of product A, either at a 33% discount, or 33% additional product at no additional cost.  The choice overwhelmingly was for "more stuff for free," with shoppers indicating that the two 'bargains' offer the same value.

Well, a quick look at the maths makes it clear that the better choice - economically speaking at least - is to opt for the discount.  Quickly think of a 10 ounce bottle of shampoo, for $1.  If you get the same shampoo at a 33% reduction, you will pay 67 cents for 10 ounces.  That's 6.7 cents per ounce.

On the other hand, if you opt for "more stuff," you get 13.3 ounces for one dollar, or 7.5 cents per ounce.  As an aside, for the two to be equivalent, the additional "free" product would have to be 50% more.

In another experiment, shoppers were asked to compare two scenarios, one where a product was discounted 40%, and another, where a product was discounted 25%, and then given a "super" additional discount of 20% on top.

Again, overwhelmingly, the shoppers thought that option B was superior.  The classic, grade eight algebra fallacy that 25% plus 20% must be 45%.

In this case, the two scenarios are equal.

Think of the same bottle of shampoo, offered at $1.  A single, 40 per cent discount takes the price to 60 cents.  Under the second scenario, the initial reduction takes the price to 75 cents, with an additional 20 per cent reduction taking the price to, once again, 60 cents.

We tend to 'fall' for spurious "buy one, get one free," or "additional discount taken at register" offers, and ignore what our high school maths teachers taught us about fractions and how to multiply and add them.

When in doubt, one can of course ignore the math test, and instead just rely on reading - at grocery stores, virtually all products listed will print the unit price on a small tag on the shelf.  When in doubt, just read.

Monday, 8 October 2012

....and It Falls In! But Wait!

I Got It!  No, You Take It!

The controversy and debate continue to rage.  A crucial moment and one of the contestants just stands there and lets the ball fall in.  And one side of the argument screams that those chosen to moderate the contest made the wrong call. Passions are inflamed.  The argument goes on and on about just what the proper role for judgment by the referees of the contest ought to be - when should they let the two sides just go, and when should they intervene?

Of course, I'm talking about the Friday National League "wild card" playoff game between Atlanta and St. Louis, a topic that is far more interesting than just how 'wrong' Clint Eastwood's now almost prescient observation about empty chairs was...

The situation for those not following professional baseball, is as follows.

The Atlanta Braves and St. Louis Cardinals faced off Friday evening in a winner-take-all contest in Atlanta.  The Braves, over the first handful of innings had kicked and thrown the ball around to the point that they trailed the Cardinals 6-3 late in the game.

Entering the bottom of the eighth inning, a little life.  A walk.  A fielder's choice, and a single placed runners at first and second with only one out.  The Braves had been pretty ineffective until then with runners on the bases, and that futility appeared to continue when shortstop Andrelton Simmons popped a lazy fly ball into shallow left field, perhaps 75 feet over the head of St. Louis SS Pete Kozma, but in front of left fielder Matt Holliday.

Now, this is a play that 99 out of 100 times, one or the other will "call for" the ball and make an easy catch.

It's that one of 100 - where, because of poor communication, or the noise of the stadium, where one or both of the players will simply stop, and the ball will fall, unmolested, to the turf for a gift single.  Which of course is exactly what happened, as Kozma, who at first signalled for the catch and then at the last second, peeled off.  Holliday had stopped running in, and the ball landed to the joy of the Atlanta fans.

The celebration was short-lived, as left field umpire Sam Holbrook called Simmons 'out,' despite the non-catch.

The reason for the call: Holbrook invoked the rule that is the subject of discussion in the first days of every little league practice in the US, and I suspect, many other countries: The Infield Fly Rule.

Without getting into too many details, the rule basically was put into place decades ago to prevent the defenders intentionally allowing an easy pop-up on the infield to fall, then quickly picking the ball up for an easy double play.  The situation requires:

  1. There are runners on first or second, or first second, and third (thus setting up TWO force outs on the bases)
  2. There are zero or one outs (thus setting the possibility of getting TWO or THREE outs on the play)
  3. That the ball is one that one of the infielders can catch WITH ROUTINE effort (as judged by one of the umpiring crew)
  4. That ultimately, the ball must land in FAIR territory.

There are other details, of course, but the point is, a fielder cannot gain advantage by intentionally not making a play through chicanery.

What is in dispute in all of the above is item three - just how "routine" the ball was (and it was, to be fair, an easy catch), and did the umpire make the right judgment call?

Much of the debate I've heard has focused on things such as the nullity of the call because a base umpire did not make it (irrelevant - there is nothing in the rules stipulating which umpire must make the call - and there are only outfield umpires in the playoffs and All-Star Game), to the fact that the left fielder called for the ball (which is a false argument, because the rule specifically says that an infielder need not make the call, and does, in fact, state that the rule is in effect even if an outfielder ultimately makes the catch), to the fact that Holbrook waited until the point that the ball was past its apogee and was near the ground (which strikes me as a reasonable point).

As I see it, the call is plainly the wrong one because of three factors.

First, looking at the intent of the rule - does anyone believe that Holliday and Kozma meant to let the ball fall?  Was there an attempt to gain a dubious advantage by allowing it to land without being caught?  I don't think so.

Second, was there a real expectation, or even a chance, that in not catching the ball, a double play was possible?  Not a chance.  At best, after the ball landed, the Cardinals might have been able to force Dan Uggla out at third.  In fact, they did not even succeed at that.

Third, and most important - as I see it, the empirical measure of whether a call is right or wrong is this: Suppose the call had gone the other way.  That the infield fly rule were not invoked.  Would the other team have argued the call so angrily?  Would they have argued it at all?

I suggest that, had the infield fly rule not been called, the St. Louis Cardinals would not even have complained about it, and indeed, their players and fans would have focused their anger on why two professional players failed to catch a routine popout in shallow left field.

All the other comments I'm hearing are just noise.  The infield fly rule is not complicated.  It's not difficult to understand.  One need not be a former major leaguer to grasp it.  It's a simple rule, and the problem here is entirely about whether a human being used the right situational judgment around whether to invoke it or not.

The bottom line is this: Pete Kozma should have just caught the ball.

And the Atlanta Braves should not have made three errors.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Make a Wish

Today, ESPN-dot-COM have an interesting thought exercise on their web site.  They asked a number of baseball players and celebrities a 'turn back the clock' question - if you could pick a single game in the entire history of Major League Baseball, and go back in time to see it, which game would you select?

If you could go back in time and see any baseball game, what game would you choose and why?
You can pick from any game from baseball history, any game at all. It can even be one you saw in person but would like to see again.

The one stipulation was to apply the Wrinkle in Time rule - that is to say, you cannot alter history in any way (other than that, perhaps, you were not alive or in attendance on that day) - the outcome, the play, the weather, the stale, over-priced hot dogs and warm beer would remain as they were.

According to their survey, the single most chosen game amongst players, celebrities, and their own staff was the 1947 Brooklyn Dodgers - Boston Braves game in which Jackie Robinson made his debut as the first black player in the big leagues.

My reaction to this is, "really?  No; REALLY?"

Of all the games ever played - the Game 6 of the 1975 World Series, the 1960 Pirates/Yankees Game 7, the May 1979 Cubs/Phillies 23-22 game, the 'Bloody Sock" performance of Kurt Schilling - the Jackie Robinson game would be the single game you would want to see?

Not to diminish the significance of the game, and at the risk of wandering into territory that is to say the least impolitic, I find this response to be an admixture of equal parts political correctness and dishonesty.

The importance of Jackie Robinson, both to the game of baseball as a historical talisman, should not be understated.  His breaking of the so-called "color barrier" was a pivotal moment in the fabric of our country, and that deserves some consideration.

But was the game itself really worth consideration beyond the list of memorable contests?  From the perspective of play, the answer has got to be no. I can think of dozens of games, easily, that offered more on-the-field drama or excitement.

Doubt it?  Quick - tell me who won the game, and what was the score?  Don't Google it before answering. (Answer to be provided at the end).  I am guessing that nine of ten people, to be conservative, cannot.

Perhaps it's due to the historical significance of the game?  But if that's the case, is it more significant than the first game?  The first American League game?  I would argue that the first professional game would be at least as significant as the Jackie Robinson game.

Maybe the interest implied is so that the person could claim that he was at the game when it happened.  OK.  But that seems the answer to a different question, don't you think?

Jackie Robinson was a great player, and his appearance was a significant milestone, but I think this sort of almost forced reverence makes more of him in history than he was in life.  And that in my opinion, diminishes rather than elevates his legacy.

(Answer: In Jackie Robinson's first game on 15th April 1947, the Dodgers beat the Braves 5-3, in front of just 12,623 fans in Ebbet's Field).

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Irresistible Forces, Immovable Objects, and Our "Rights."

Read today an op-ed from the Sunday New York Times; investigative journalist Bill Lichtenstein published a piece entitled "A Terrifying Way to Discipline Children."  In the editorial, Lichtenstein notes the rise over recent times in the use of "isolation rooms" and restraints in public schools as a means to discipline otherwise seemingly uncontrollable children. Included in the piece is a personal comment about the experiences of his then-kindergarten-aged daughter "Rose," who apparently was subject to such punishments on several occasions.
IN my public school 40 years ago, teachers didn’t lay their hands on students for bad behavior. They sent them to the principal’s office. But in today’s often overcrowded and underfunded schools, where one in eight students receive help for special learning needs, the use of physical restraints and seclusion rooms has become a common way to maintain order. 
According to national Department of Education data, most of the nearly 40,000 students who were restrained or isolated in seclusion rooms during the 2009-10 school year had learning, behavioral, physical or developmental needs, even though students with those issues represented just 12 percent of the student population
It's an interesting, if not to say eye-opening read.  And needless to say, I do not support the abuse or torture of children.

But one reaction I did have is this: after 40 years of "mainstreaming" children with learning, mental, and behavioural problems, ostensibly because it is the right of all to be treated "just the same as everyone else," where does one draw the line when circumscribing the rights of one child versus the rights of another?

In reading Mr Lichtenstein's story, he reveals, among other things, that his daughter has "speech and language delays," and at times becomes "fidgety and restless when she is unsure of what is expected of her."  Furthermore, it is revealed that "Rose" on occasion throws "violent tantrums" and at school became fixated with a scene from the cartoon "Finding Nemo," where sharks repeatedly (and violently) attempt to attack the story's eponymous protagonist.

"The school provided no solution," Mr Lichtenstein offers, dryly.

I am the parent of a small child - one who is NOT prone to "violent tantrums," nor bouts of "fidgety or restless" behaviour.

Where do his rights (and the rights of the other students in the class) come into the equation here?  When a child is repeatedly disruptive, not to say violent, that has a consequence for the others in the room whose learning is, at the least, interrupted.  Each time the teacher has to stop and tell "Rose" or other students to be quiet, to return to their seats, not to throw a tantrum or hurt the other children, that infringes on the rights of every other student in the classroom, doesn't it?

I am not a proponent of group rights - at all.  As I see it, we do not have collective rights, but rather, individual rights.  Amongst those rights, for school children who are compelled by law to be in the classroom, is the opportunity to be educated by a professional.

I'm sympathetic to "Rose" Lichtenstein, and to a lesser degree, her father.  Really, I am.  But if we disavow "time out rooms" for repeated bad behaviour, whilst at the same time insisting that public school classrooms are appropriate for all children, how do we expect our teachers to teach effectively?

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Does Time REALLY Always Fly?

Today is the 11th of September 2012; the numerical representation ("9-11") will immediately resonate with most of us in the USA as well as the Western world, and likely a large chunk of the rest as well.  Of course, it's the anniversary of a terrible day eleven years ago when several groups of men, using vessels of commerce , leisure, and transport, destroyed the World Trade Centre in Manhattan, a section of the Pentagon in Washington, several thousand lives.

It's become something of a grim tradition on this date - people posting "where I was" remembrances of that particular date when they heard/saw the news. I was living in San Jose, California; my day had just begun with the familiar voice of the bumper announcer on KNBR, broadcasting the top of the seven o'clock hour news teaser - "If you've ever been to New York and seen the World Trade Centre, it's gone...."  Unlike many here on the east coast, my day did not begin just like any other.

Maybe it's the distance that an entire continent made; perhaps it's that at that time, I had only seen the Twin Towers out the window of a plane landing at Kennedy Airport.  But as I read the comments of those who are now my neighbours here in New Jersey, just an hours' drive from NYC, I find it odd the feeling "it seems like only yesterday."

To me, it seems like a lifetime ago.

The distance between then and now is temporal and metaphorical.  EVERYTHING about my life is different.  I suspect the same is true for a lot of people.

Honestly; think about the way you felt when you went to sleep on the night of the 10th of September 2001.

The country felt more prosperous. There was no lost decade economically.  No stock market crash (two, in fact, if you count the Tech Bubble).  The fear of shadowy bad guys waiting to hit at us was constrained to Hollywood movies.  There was no Iranian bomb.  We wished for a continuation of the good times - "hope" was not tied to "change."

Worst of all, no decade of seemingly endless, hopeless wars.

Personally, there is practically nothing about my life that is the same today as it was then.  In the time, I've gotten married, changed jobs (three times).  My son was born, grew, and entered school.  I now live thousands of miles away.

It doesn't seem like only yesterday to me, and in a sense, I am glad for that.  I haven't forgotten - nobody should forget of course.  But as I see it, the best way we can celebrate and remember those who were killed that day is for us to live.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Reflections on 10 Years

If We Were Polydactyl, Would
11 Be the New 10?

Today marks the 10th anniversary for my wife and me (we were wed on the 8th of June 2002 in Los Altos, California; a beautiful, sunny Saturday).

As I am getting older, I get the feeling that time is accelerating.  It's a common feeling, from what I hear.  "Every year is getting shorter," as the Pink Floyd song goes.  A lot of water under the bridge - four different jobs, two industries, two states (we now live in Princeton, NJ, having joined the flood of middle class families haemorrhaging from California's borders).  One little boy.

I am thinking about the significance of numbers.  In every culture, of course, numbers carry certain sub-texts.  In the west, for example, seven is considered lucky (not sure why); 13 unlucky (depending on the source, reasons vary from the number of attendees at the Last Supper to the date that Pope Clement ordered the "disposition" of the Knights Templar).  In east Asian cultures, six, eight, and nine are considered auspicious (the words are homophones for "long lasting," and "wealth."), while four is considered very bad news (it sounds like the word for "death.")  In many hotels in China and Japan, there is no fourth floor.

10 carries a certain symbolic weight, as do 100, 1000, etc.  I believe that this is owing to the fact that we live in a base ten world (that is to say, mathematically, we count from zero to nine, and then move the next place, put a one, and start over).  This is almost surely an artefact of the reality that human beings have 10 fingers, save for certain polydactyls (people with extra fingers/toes).  If we had 11 fingers and not 10, then the "Spinal Tap" joke about 11 would be a lot less funny.

In statistical testing of hypotheses, something is declared to be "significant" if its p-value is less than 0.05 (the estimated probability of the event happening by chance being less than one in 20).  The standard was set by the father of statistical inference, Sir R. A. Fisher.  In a somewhat apocryphal story, Fisher commented that 0.05, as opposed to 0.04 or 0.06 or some other equally arbitrary number, was chosen because we have five fingers on each hand, and that seemed as reasonable as any other standard to him.

So, here's to 10 years great years, and hopefully many more.

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Do I Feel a Draft?

One Tin Soldier Rides Away

The baseball amateur draft is approaching (next week).  While not the hyped-up spectacle that the circus of the NFL draft has become, it is a significant event in the baseball world.  Set up in the 1960s as a means of providing the lower-tiered teams with an avenue to succeed (Rick Monday, I believe, was the first player ever taken), the draft is the primary way that teams fill their pipeline with young talent.

Unless you're the New York Yankees.

I wrote a couple of comments here and here about the way that the Yankees - and to a lesser degree the Boston Red Sox - have become locked in a battle of high priced Hessians to fight for the American League pennant year in and year out.  This summer seems to be shaping up to be no different, despite a poor start by both.

Over at today, their baseball blogger David Schoenfeld has written a quite interesting piece about the all-time best "rosters" of players taken by each AL East franchise.  It's curious to look at the Yankees, and just how, to be kind, mediocre their takings have been.  Derek Jeter and Don Mattingly are obviously tremendous players, the former headed to the HoF on a first ballot.  Andy Pettite is a borderline case for the Hall, and Ron Guidry was an excellent pitcher until arm problems hurt him.

Beyond that, the Yanks have not been spectacular, and could reasonably be said to be the poorest performer in the division in this regard.  The writer points out that in the nearly 50 years of the draft, the Yankees have not drafter a single outfielder who has become an All Star for the Yankees.  Not one.

Between the lines, it seems obvious HOW the Yankees have built and maintained their dynasties, by signing veteran players or trading away - in many cases trades forced by economics on the small market teams - for established stars.

Schoenfeld writes the obvious question - what would become of the Yankees if other teams simply stopped trading with them?  I am not sure the answer, and the question itself is an exercise in rhetoric, since such an embargo will not happen.  Ever.  For one thing, the finances of the game force teams in many cases to trade their top talent (my team - the Toronto Blue Jays - three years ago were forced to deal the best pitcher they've ever had, Roy Halladay, for a grab bag of nuts and bolts), and reality dictates that if the Yankees are kept out of this market, that has an impact on the quality that teams can command.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Escalating the Culture Wars

I've been somewhat casually following the truly sad story of Trayvon Martin, a teen who was shot to death in Central Florida a couple of months ago. Depending upon whom you ask, he was either killed by a racist vigilante or a fed-up homeowner who was mad as hell and not going to take it any more.

Subsequent to the killing and initial lack of action by the local police in Sanford, Florida, the story has become muddled, as politicians, newspapers, and of course, the occasional dim-wit celebrity interposes himself in the case, further moving us from a rational look at what exactly happened.

As I wrote in this post back in March, I believe that the root of the problem is the facility with which guns may be obtained.  I stand by this view.  Cutting away the non-sense about whether Martin is 6-4, looked menacing in his "hoodie" sweatshirt, is being falsely portrayed in the media as either an angelic, 12 year old or a pot-smoking ganster with gold teeth, the issue here is that a man (George Zimmerman) was able, despite more than one run-in with the law, to obtain a concealed carry permit, took it upon himself to cruise his neighbourhood, disregarded the orders of local law enforcement to stop pursuing Martin, provoked an altercation - needlessly as I see it - and ended up killing a 16 year old boy in, ostensibly, self-defence.

The fight did not need to happen.  The shooting did not need to happen.  Neither, I think, should have happened.

The thing I am thinking about today, as this continues to bubble, is a comment made elsewhere about how violent our culture has become; have we reached a tipping point, and if so, why?  A friend remarked that perhaps it's due to the numbness we feel with the omnipresent wars.  She observes that even Halloween, a children's holiday, is now festooned with graphic, dismembered body parts on the lawn.

I don't know if I blame the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but I do tend to share her view that our culture seems to be getting more coarse.  More nihilistic.  The cartoon violence of a fake body strewn across an October landscape bothers me a lot less than the puffed-up, faux machismo that masquerades as "manhood" today.  The whole culture has moved into a direction where the "ideal" is a callous, steroid-fuelled, confrontational jerk who cannot put a complete sentence together.

It's I suppose an extreme example, but for those old enough to have played with Star Wars dolls, er, "action figures" from the 1970s and 1980s, compare the Mattel Han Solo or Luke Skywalker figurine from the original set, to what each looks like now.

Better still, compare the movie "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance," where the gunning down of the bad guy is treated as a somewhat ambiguous "good," with the recent hit "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," where  the heroine exists in the sea of a violent revenge fantasy.

I find it instructive that post-feminist entertainment - a reflection of our culture - has taken the idea of a "strong woman" (perhaps Sally Field from "Places in the Heart") as one who faces real challenges with grit and determination, and replace her with "Salt."  My wife will laugh when I use the word "tough guy chick," but I think it's in part true (and I think, dangerous) to instill the idea that a strong woman is one who totes a gun around and either bludgeons, karates, or shoots/blows up her enemies.

In a nut-shell, we've become so hyper-masculinised that even a woman is supposed to kick ass and take names.

THIS is not progress.

In fact, to me it seems the opposite - a thousand years ago, we picked mates in ways similar to the way apes and monkeys did - based almost exclusively on brute force.  Over time, we came to value other qualities - reliability, intelligence, imputed faithfulness.  We seem to be regressing back to the old days.

An interesting take by evolutionary biologists was written recently around the HBO show "Girls."  The rather long-ish piece takes a look at the implications of the new mating dance, both for men and for women.  If you follow the arguments of, say, Richard Dawkins, the future is not going to require sunglasses, I think.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

The Evolution of a President: Profile in Courage, ca 2012

I am ahead, I am advanced
I am the first mammal to make plans, yeah
I crawled the earth, but now I'm higher
2010, watch it go to fire
It's evolution, baby
Do the evolution

-- "Do the Evolution"

Yesterday, President Obama stated out loud what many of his political opponents on the right have suspected, and many of his supporters on the left were suspicious of - namely, his belief that "(s)ame-sex couples should be able to get married."

The reactions are predictable.  Those who are inclined to vote against Mr Obama's re-election in November have reacted by citing his social liberalism as another example of his "assault" on traditional values.  Those who are inclined to see him re-elected in November are praising his "courageous stand" on the issue.

My own opinion of the former, as someone who makes no bones about my right-wing views, I would just say that it's my strong belief that denying same-sex couples the legal protections of marriage is wrong-headed and in many cases, little more than barely-concealed prejudice.  As I wrote a couple of years ago, in reflecting on the issue:

How are we treating our fellow man?
The answer to that question is far more relevant in my view than any Propositions we sign or lawmakers we call to defend marriage against a threat that just does not exist.

It's my firm belief that in a generation, we are going to look back on the battle over this "issue" with a mixture of disbelief and embarrassment, if not outright shame.  

The proximate furore surrounds the vote on Tuesday in North Carolina to put into law statements denying that marriage can be extended to same-sex couples:

Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State. This section does not prohibit a private party from entering into contracts with another private party; nor does this section prohibit courts from adjudicating the rights of private parties pursuant to such contracts.

The vote does not actually accomplish anything - same-sex marriages are not performed in the state. The legislature and governor are very unlikely in the near-term to pass laws to the contrary. For all intents and purposes, the status quo in North Carolina on Wednesday morning was exactly the same as it was on Tuesday night.. 

What the vote does "accomplish," so to speak,  is put into law  a mean-spirited commentary from the majority in that state. It's little more than a cruel, rhetorical statement. 

As I see it, this deserves condemnation. In plain, unequivocal language.

Mr Obama, due I suspect to pressures from wealthy supporters, has done is to issue a somewhat tepid support of gay marriage.  24 hours after the vote.  Additionally, he was somewhat pushed into such a statement due to the comments of his Vice President, Joe Biden, who earlier had issued a much stronger statement supporting equal rights for gay Americans.

Is this "courage?"

Not in my book.

Chris "Shiver up My Leg" Matthews, perhaps the most reliable lap-dog for the president, ended his show yesterday talking about the courage Mr Obama has shown, referring to the remarks of the president as "historic."

Could there be a grander canyon between these two men: one fully in support of the right of gay people to marry, one totally against that right
I honor a president who regardless of the political consequences declared for all the world to hear that all God’s children have the right to love as they were born to love. That ought to count for something no matter which way the chips fall in this election.

Only, that's not what the president said as he continued to waffle. Mr Obama initially responded that he was "disappointed" in the outcome.  And in the remarks Chris Matthews was praising, the president stated that he sees the issue primarily as a states' rights issue.

This is typical of the sort of phony leadership that Mr Obama has provided.  Grandiloquent words that amount to little more than hot air, but precious little substantive action.

So, I ask - if he supports "the rights" of same-sex couples to marry, but sees the issue as one that the states ought to decide, how is he substantively different from the language in the "Defense of Marriage Act" that he has been praised for refusing to support?  The outcome of his "evolved" views is that precisely what happened in North Carolina Tuesday - it went to the states, and the states said "no."

Mr Obama has said before that he does not view marriage as a civil rights issue.  His recent evolution leaves him approximately where Dick Cheney was four years ago.  This is hardly "courageous" for a politician who owes his position to progressive activists.

I would think that, after all the work, all the organising, and all the money that gay rights activists have contributed to the president, that they deserve a bit more.

I think that as full American citizens, they certainly do.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

The OCD, Random Walk Post of the Year

I'm basically a pretty simple man; my thoughts, when not of wife, son, family, or job, tend to wander towards politics, sports (mostly baseball), travel, and numbers.

This random walk ties at least of few of those together.

We recently returned from a trip to Hawaii and California, which was my home state for most of my adult life.  Our rental car had the California licence plate 6YSE842.  Not terribly interesting. At least to the real "99 per cent" of people.

But it got me to thinking.

California, like many states, issues its licence plates in alpha-numeric order.  Very soon, the state will exhaust its supply of plates of "6" series (i.e., 6ABC123), and roll into the "7" series.  I am not sure when the final allocation - 6ZZZ999 - will be stamped and issued from Sacramento, but if it hasn't, it will in all certainty be in 2012.

Also, like many combinations - and area codes come to mind - there is a finite number of number/letter combinations.  For six digit plates, that's 26**3 (for the ABC portion) x 1000 (for the 123 portion).  That's approximately 17.5 million combinations, though I suspect some embarrassing three-letter combinations are not made.

When I was born, California had just reached the end of its famous "black plate" run (yellow letters/numbers stamped on a black, steel base).  ZZZ-999 was issued in late 1969:

CA 69 #YXA 306
Sample California "Black Plate" from 1969

These plates are considered highly collectible to classic car owners, largely because in 1970, when the next series was issued, the state no longer required owners to surrender their plates to register.  Hence, a car that had been purchased during its run (1963-1969) and has remained in the Golden State, will likely still sport its California bona fides to prove it's truly a "California car." 

In 1969/1970, with all 17.5 million combinations issued, the state swapped the order from ABC-123 to 123-ABC, and issued its iconic blue and gold set:

CA 69 #194 AAI
The Plate that Made California Famous

Incidentally, this is the format/colour that the licence plates took when I was a small child living in Southern California.

This change bought Sacramento some time, but by 1982, the California DMV had again reached its limit, and faced a formatting challenge.

The solution was to revert back to the ABC-123 formats used between 1956 and 1969, but with a twist.  A seventh place-holder was introduced at the start, and the 1ABC234 format was born.  The base plate of gold on blue was kept, but the state had crossed the seven-digit rubicon.

CA 82 #1AAX608
The Plate that Saved Sacramento

This numbering format has been in place ever since.

So, between 1956 and 1969, California used an ABC-123 scheme.  Approximately 13 years.

From 1969 to 1982, a 123-ABC scheme sufficed. Again, about 13 years.

The state, needless to say, has continued to add people, and thus, drivers.

The '1' series (basically, an entire ABC-123 run) was exhausted by 1988.  Six years.

The '2' series concluded with 2ZZZ999 in 1992.  Four years.

My first car was registered in February 1993, 3BXE321.  I purchased another vehicle and registered it in October 1995; its plate was 3TSR355.  I rolled a "4" series plate (4DNT473) in June of 2000, and a 5 (5EXE236) in November 2003.

CA 93 #3AQY717
My Very First Car Had This Rather Boring Format

I've done some quick calculations, and the state basically is exhausting its runs every 3.7 years or so.  Put another way, in just about 11 years from now, the final seven digit plate - 9ZZZ999 - is going to be stamped.

I may be alone in being curious to see what scheme the DMV are going to try.

I Read the News Today; Oh Boy!

The president has sponsored a web site - I suppose to foster support for his re-election - depicting the imagined life of a CGI-generated person.  The hypothetical person is dubbed "Julia" in the spot.

It's perfect, really.  A made-up person, created to win four more years for a Walter Mitty president, using make-believe accomplishments as evidence.

Aside from the general creepiness of the ostensible cradle-to-grave socialism ("the government" enables utter bliss for "Julia" at each step of the way) and flat-out twisting of reality ("Julia" remains as a student on her parents' medical insurance - part of the "reform" forced on us - until she is 26.  Yes; there are PLENTY of people who spend EIGHT YEARS in college.  Like Senator Blutarksy.  But then, Bluto only had "seven years of college down the drain.") is the choice of name for the fake person.

The Future Senator, Who Now Can
Remain on his Parents' Insurance

"Julia" is the name of a Beatles song, written by John Lennon about his mother.  The opening line, "Half of what I say is meaningless."

Who said Mr Obama has no sense of irony?

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Strictly by the Numbers (Almost)

The first month of the baseball season (plus one game) is in the books.  The Blue Jays ended April at 12-11, with a 4-1 loss to the Texas Rangers and their Japanese-Iranian (how often do you get to say that?) phenom Yu Darvish.  The Rangers paid more than one hundred million dollars to get Yu, who has thus far impressed.  Toronto had been in the running for his services, but as it turned out, nine figures, US, was a bit too spendy.

Anyhow, the Jays are now 13-11 after last night's improbable come-from-behind win that featured another blown save by Francisco Cordero, three home runs - of which two hit the top of the wall before exiting the SkyDome, and four (4) GIDPs.

The Jays have muddled through 24 games, a couple of games ahead of where they were last year, (11-13) at this stage.

With the four double plays (and it could have been five had the Rangers brought any semblance of a defence to the game), Toronto now leads the majors in GIDPs, with 27 in 24 games.  Only two other teams (KC and Florida, er, Miami) have more than one GIDP per game.

The bullpen has converted only four saves in 10 opportunities.  Only one other team - Anaheim - has as many games wasted by the bullpen.  I wonder if the GM has Tom Henke's number?  Can The Terminator still pitch despite pushing 60?

For those un-initiated in the confluence of small sample sizes and high variance, the Jays have at this point largely done a 180 degree turn from last season.  In the first week of May 2011, the team could not win a day game, playing 3-13 under the natural light of the sun.  This year, they are 8-2.  Under the lights, in May 2011, Toronto was 12-6.  With last night's win, they are now 5-9.  Pretty close to a total reversal.

It's a long season, and with the Yankees starting to show some age, Boston appearing close to a civil war in the clubhouse, and the addition of an extra playoff spot, who knows?

If the 3-4 hitters (Bautista and Lind) can get their collective batting average above the Mendoza line, and the bullpen can be convinced that they are not out there to throw BP, this may be the year.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

How Old in Dog Years

Two nights ago, Colorado Rockies' pitcher Jamie Moyer pitched seven strong innings in defeating the San Diego Padres 5-2.

Moyer at 49 years of age (he will be 50 in November) thus became the oldest man ever to win a major league baseball game, breaking an 80 year old record.  For the curious, that record was set by Jack Quinn, of the Brooklyn Dodgers.

It's truly a remarkable feat.

Jamie Moyer made his major league debut in 1986, facing off and defeating the Philadelphia Phillies.  His opposing pitcher that day?  Steve Carlton.

To put it in perspective, six of the players on the San Diego roster were not even born when Moyer made his debut.  The Rockies themselves did not start play for nearly another decade.

Here is the box score for the June, 1986 game:

Batting AB R H RBI SO
   Tom Foley PH-SS 1 0 0 0 0
Ron Roenicke CF 4 1 3 0 0
   Greg Gross PH-LF 0 0 0 0 0
Mike Schmidt 1B 5 1 1 1 1
Von Hayes LF-1B 3 1 2 1 0
Juan Samuel 2B 4 1 2 1 0
Rick Schu 3B 4 1 1 0 0
   Darren Daulton PH-C 1 0 0 0 0
   Jeff Stone PH 1 0 0 0 0
Glenn Wilson RF 5 0 1 0 1
John Russell C 2 0 0 0 1
Steve Jeltz SS 3 0 0 1 0
Steve Carlton P 2 0 0 0 0
   Don Carman P 0 0 0 0 0
   Tom Hume P 0 0 0 0 0
   Kent Tekulve P 0 0 0 0 0
Team Totals 35 5 10 4 3

Steve Carlton, L (4-8)3.264442
Tom Hume1.132202
Kent Tekulve211111
Don Carman100001
Team Totals8107756

Batting AB R H RBI
Davey Lopes 3B 2 1 0 1
Shawon Dunston SS 5 0 1 2
Ryne Sandberg 2B 4 0 2 1
Keith Moreland RF 4 2 2 0
Gary Matthews LF 4 0 2 0
   Jay Baller P 0 0 0 0
   Jody Davis C 0 0 0 0
Leon Durham 1B 4 1 1 2
Jerry Mumphrey CF-LF 4 1 2 1
Steve Lake C 3 1 0 0
   Lee Smith P 0 0 0 0
Jamie Moyer P 2 1 0 0
   Dave Martinez CF 1 0 0 0
Team Totals 33 7 10 7

Jamie Moyer, W (1-0)6.185432
Jay Baller, H (5)110020
Lee Smith, S (9)1.210001
Team Totals9105453

Also on the Cubs' roster that day (though not playing) was Ron Cey.  Terry Francona was also on the Phillies at the time.  The losing pitcher (Carlton) began his career in 1965, in a game where Francona's father pinch hit. Carlton came on as a reliever for Bob Gibson.

In the nearly 26 years since, Moyer has pitched more than four thousand innings, and allowed 513 home runs, the most in the history of the game.

Moyer is a year younger than President Obama.  He's three years older than John F Kennedy was when Kennedy was murdered in 1963.

I'm 42 years old - seven years younger than Moyer.  I'm not a professional athlete to be fair, but I try to stay in some sort of shape.  I get a stiff neck from lifting my suitcases.

He doesn't look a day over 100.