64 thoughts on “November 16, 2020: Taxi”

    1. edit: Sorry probably should have spoiled this right away, though I'm barely venting. Full me would totally need to be spoilered.

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        1. My parents stuck around "up North" for the first two weekends. No doe license, and nobody saw any bucks.

          But Itasca County numbers are soaring, apparently, which makes returning to Bloomington the better choice. They head back this week for the duration of the winter.

          1. My home county (Polk) where my parents and youngest brother's family are was #1 in MN. My youngest brother has recovered (because teacher) but none of the rest have contracted. My nephew (from Duluth area) asked about joining them for Thanksgiving; by the end of our weekly Zoom call, we convinced my parents that it was probably not a good plan at this time.

    2. Frightening, maddening, and depressing. The Federal government didn't do much to start with and has completely abdicated any duty lately, so good luck to the states.

      There are stories of people literally denying the virus exists WHILE DYING FROM IT. Thanksgiving is going to be a super-spreader event.

      At least we have positive vaccine news again today.

      1. Agreed. I think Thanksgiving is going to be a disaster across the country.

        My siblings had been planning to go to my mom's for Thanksgiving dinner, but she made the decision this week that they shouldn't come. I was very glad to hear that update.

        1. Yeah, I'm an introvert and I am going to miss having Thanksgiving get-togethers. But I think distancing is especially important right now and a lot of folks don't, so I am pretty worried. The 4th of July seemed to be a big contributor to cases in July, and that is generally an outdoor celebration.

          1. I'd guess that the drug lobby will entice politicians with campaign donations in exchange for pushing federal subsidies for the vaccine and publicly pushing for people to take the vaccine. So I suspect there will be bipartisan support of the vaccine (should everything go well with the testing and approval process) and everyone will talk about it as either a win for public health or a win for the economy.

            But I've been wrong before.

        1. Ayyup. Also, having multiple vaccines is good. Because we are gonna run those suckers out in a hurry. If safety issues or efficacy issues start emerging with one, there's a backup plan.

        2. I wish (hah!) both included confidence intervals of their efficacy. Pfizer and Moderna are using a similar method for immunization so I'm skeptical of non-overlapping intervals of efficacy until peer review proves it.

          1. it's basically bernoulli trials, no? So you are trying to uncover the p parameters from two binomial distributions (treatment and control). With really large Ns, binomial probability distributions converge toward normal (or truncated normal, since counts can't go below zero).

            if the underlying propensity of infection is, say, p=0.2, then a 95 percent reduction implies p_t = 0.01, and the variance is sqrt(n_t * .01 * .99), where n_t is the number in the treatment group. Being simplistic, of course.

            I'm a little vague on what the underlying propensity of infection is, and it clearly varies with geography (higher in hot spots, duh).

      1. Per the New York Times morning email I got, Europe's approach of keeping school open and closing other places is working a lot better than what we're doing in the US:

        As the coronavirus has surged again in recent weeks, much of the United States has chosen to keep restaurants open and schools closed. Much of Europe has done the opposite.

        The European approach seems to be working better.

        I'm not going to cut and paste in the full content of the email, but this NPR article covers similar ground.

    1. The NHL must have some regret in hindsight not doing a total rebrand more like when the Sonics moved to Oklahoma to become the Thunder. Like Dallas could have been the Lone Stars (or something else) with completely different colors and branding and Minnesota could have come back as the North Stars. I'm not as mad about the Lakers name moving because Timberwolves is actually a really great sports team name. North Stars was so good, though, it's a shame to have lost that.

      1. I was just about to say, maybe the teams could arrange some sort of name trade. I'm guessing Minnesota is going to have to add some prospects and/or draft picks to get Dallas to pull the trigger on that one. The "Dallas Wild" doesn't sound terrible though...

  1. I ended up making broth out of my leftover smoked rib bones last week. I figured it would be perfect to use instead of some of the water when making pinto beans. The beans were good, but I don't think the smokey broth added much.

    I did have one of the biggest, dumbest cooking mistakes ever when making the beans, though. You know how you sometimes forget an ingredient, and whatever you were making doesn't taste right? Well, I put everything for the beans in the Instant Pot, closed it up, and let it cook for 40 minutes. At which point I realized I forgot to add the beans. Oops!

          1. I added some to the broth but not much, since I plan to use it as an addition to recipes instead of a stand-alone soup. I don't want to overload it with salt if it's going to be included with other ingredients.

            1. I'd echo doc's comment to say that salt is going to be your friend in making liquid smoke. You'll just have to remember that your smoke flavor is also salt flavor when cooking with it.

              I made green chili stew last night and added some of the pork bone liquid smoke as the stock. The end result isn't smoke as much as deep background flavor.

              As to the beans, I made a pan of enchiladas with pintos as the side on Saturday, but forgot to use a bit of bacon as the *chefs kiss* finish. I was really, truly disappointed with the end result.

  2. It's HOF speculation season again.

    The top rWAR players not enshrined are at 4 (Bonds), 8 (Clemens), 16 (ARod), 30 (Pujols), 41 (Beltre), 64 (Rose), 65 (Schilling), 74 (Jim McCormick), 77 (Bill Dahlen), 80 (Lou Whitaker), 81 (Trout), 88 (Greinke), 90 (Palmeiro), 91 (Verlander), 94 (Grich), 100 (Beltran, Rolen). 10 of the next 30 also are not enshrined (three are active), but only five of the following 20.

    At some point, you'd think that the anti-Bonds, anti-Clemens, anti-ARod stuff would dissipate and they will be enshrined, but time is running out, particularly for the first two. Bonds, Clemens and Schilling are all on the ballot for their 9th times.

    I'd like to see Grich and Whitaker in the Hall. I think it's ridiculous that Bonds and Clemens have not been enshrined. I can't stand Schilling, but he belongs. Rose can go eff himself.

    I'm sympathetic to Andruw Jones, who is way down at 157th (62.7 rWAR, tied with HOFers Hal Newhouser and Home Run Baker, and a smidge ahead of Captain Cheeseburger). But boy did he fall off a cliff at age-30. I have a hard time seeing him in a Hall that doesn't include Kenny Lofton (116th-t, 68.4), who ranks just ahead of him in CFer JAWS.

    Nobody on the first-year list stirs much interest or sympathy from me. Although it is worth noting that both Tim Hudson and Mark Buerhle rank slightly ahead of Andy Pettite on both rWAR and JAWS.

    I might be tempted to draw a line at Bobby Abreu (50.9 JAWS, 60.2 rWAR) or Gary Sheffield (49.3, 60.5). That would be either 9 or 10 votes (10 if both of them): Bonds, Clemens, Schilling, Rolen, Andruw Jones, MannyBManny, Helton, Sosa, Abreu, Sheffield). That's a "large Hall" perspective, I think. A "small Hall" perspective might draw the line at Rolen (56.9, 70.1) or Manny (54.6, 69.3), which puts Andruw Jones (54.6, 62.7) in the spotlight.

    1. Looking at former Twins on the ballot, Torii Hunter should get votes to move to the next round of votes. I would be shocked if LaTroy Hawkins, Michael Cuddyer, Grant Balfour, or Jason Marquis get any consideration.

      1. Torii had a nice career, but I really hope he doesn't make the 5% to stick around. Andruw Jones had a much better career (11th all-time in CF JAWS) and is barely sticking around at ~7% of the vote. If Torii's even in the discussion, you have to talk about guys like Curtis Granderson, Bernie Williams, Johnny Damon, Lenny Dykstra, Andy Van Slyke, and a few dozen more players at other positions.

        I mean, by the numbers, Puckett was a reach as a Hall-of-Famer and Torii has a worse career OPS+ (by a wide margin, 124 to 110) , and 5 All-Star selections to Puckett's 10, even with a longer career. Torii was never higher than 15th in MVP voting and Puckett was top-3 in three different seasons. And again, Puckett was a stretch for the HOF by the numbers and really relied on his post-season headlines to make it in. Gold Gloves are really the only thing you can point to, but defensively I'd put Torii behind Andruw Jones and Jim Edmonds, both guys who hit better than he did as well and aren't in the Hall. Torii shouldn't be anywhere near the HOF conversation, frankly.

        1. I 100% agree with you. I think Torii will get enough votes to move to the next round of voting because he was a media nice guy and that goes a long way. But as Doc noted, none of these players should get in before Kenny Lofton.

    2. I consider anyone above the HOF JAWS average at their position to be "small-hall" deserving of admission, and I don't consider PED usage disqualifying at that level of performance. Ballot logistics aside, that means we'd be looking at:

      C: Mauer
      1B: Pujols, Cabrera, Palmeiro
      2B: Cano, Grich
      SS: A-Rod, Bill Dahlen
      3B: Beltre, Rolen
      LF: Bonds, Rose, Manny Ramirez
      CF: Trout
      RF: Shoeless Joe, Ichiro*
      P: Clemens (3rd all-time!), Jim McCormick, Schilling, Tommy Bond

      Potentially you could make "small-hall" cases against Cabrera and Palmeiro because there are so many 1B in the HOF, potentially more than are deserving. But then I look at career OPS+ and Cabrera is tied with Edgar Martinez, and I think Martinez should definitely be in as a DH, so it's actually kind of hard for me to justify leaving anyone out who hit that well or better if they had any career longevity at all. Jim Thome is also at a career 147 OPS+. Currently that mark puts you as a top-46 hitter all-time -- and having witnessed most of Thome's prime, it seems pretty hard to exclude anyone hitting *that* well.

      I think you could make a "small-hall" case for Lou Whitaker -- he's not over the average 2B HOF JAWS, but he's top 15 at his position. Chase Utley is currently borderline at 56.8 JAWS vs. 57.0 2B JAWS average.

      I'd also make "small-hall" case for Graig Nettles -- 12th in JAWS at 3B, just below the HOF average, but 3B admissions standards have been historically too stringent.

      For CF, I'd be good adding Trout, Beltran, Lofton, Jones, and Edmonds (15th in all-time CF JAWS, even if the voters decided nay). Then you'd have the top 15 CF by JAWS. Beltran, Lofton, and Jones are close enough to the JAWS average that I think you rightly put them at the bubble of a small hall debate. Edmonds probably doesn't fit in a small hall, but 15th all-time at a position is awfully good.

      In RF, I added Ichiro because if you give him barely any credit at all for his time in Japan, or for being the first Japanese star in MLB, or just generally being a really fascinating and unique character in the history of the game, it's pretty easy to bridge the gap from his 51.7 JAWS to 57.2 RF JAWS average.

      At pitcher, Verlander, Greinke, and Kershaw are all within 2 JAWS of the line -- personally I'd say they all belong in a small hall. So ultimately, I'm going to say my small hall additions, given my personal biases, would be:

      C: Mauer
      1B: Pujols, Cabrera (gonna say no to Palmeiro based on 132 career OPS+, only 4 All-Star selections, lots of 1B in the HOF)
      2B: Cano, Grich, Whitaker, Utley
      SS: A-Rod, Bill Dahlen
      3B: Beltre, Rolen
      LF: Bonds, Rose, Manny Ramirez
      CF: Trout
      RF: Shoeless Joe, Ichiro
      P: Clemens, Jim McCormick, Schilling, Tommy Bond, Verlander, Greinke, Kershaw
      RP: Don't care
      DH (good hitters regardless of position -- OPS+ equal to or better than Edgar's 147): Joey Votto (149), Dick Allen (156), Dave Orr (162), Mark McGwire (163), Pete Browning (163).

      Honestly, I haven't been paying enough attention to baseball the last few years to realize Votto's OPS+ was that good. Led the NL in OBP 7 times, OPS twice, OPS+ once (actually missed the All-Star Game in a year he played 158 games and led the league in OPS+), won the NL MVP once. He doesn't have 2,000 hits (let alone 3,000) or some of the other gaudy career totals, but I'm going out on a limb and saying he should at least be in the conversation. It's weird because he's a 1B and I'm basically saying we should look at him as a DH, but there has to be some way to allow great DHs like Edgar in the Hall without penalizing some of the other great hitters for either being stuck in the NL or being bad in the field. David Ortiz has a career OPS+ of 141, but better counting stats than Votto (partly due to Fenway) and will get some of the Puckett post-season bump and a big market bump on top of that.

      It's crazy looking through some of these leaderboards. Mike Piazza has a better career OPS+ than David Ortiz -- hot damn, that is some kind of career that Piazza put together.

      1. I consider anyone above the HOF JAWS average at their position to be "small-hall" deserving of admission, and I don't consider PED usage disqualifying at that level of performance.

        strong co-sign. I'm open to larger-Hall discussion, but HOF JAWS average at primary position seems like a clear "yes" standard.

        Obviously, if the only way a player gets in is by being above the HOF average for his position, we will quickly choke off additions. But, man, if you ARE above that average, how do you argue against?

        Except Rose. Eff that guy.

            1. Yeah, ethically, cheating for win sits much better for me than cheating to lose. And PEDs are not the only type of cheating that puts players in potential physical harm--stuff like Vaseline balls could lead to players getting hit and concussed, there were stimulants in the '60s and '70s, who knows how prevalent cocaine use was back in the '80s, and surely the PED "era" started well before McGwire and Sosa--that's just when it was getting more widespread and individual records were falling. PED use in Olympic strength sports goes back to at least the '70s, probably earlier than that. I'm sure there were a lot more baseball players using steroids in the '80s than most fans and writers would like to admit.

              Sure, I'd prefer for players to win clean, but pushing the boundaries is always part of any sport and my opinion is that the responsibility of reigning that in lies more with the sport's top officials than with the players out trying to make a living.

  3. Is anyone here familiar with Learned League? It's on an online trivia game (I believe Ken Jennings is one of the players) that runs a 25-day head-to-head "league" (all weekdays besides holidays) and then has promotion and relegation based upon your performance for the following league. Your first "league" is free, and then it costs a little to keep playing. Each day is a head-to-head matchup of six completely random questions. Not only do you answer them (no cheating but you're on the honor system) but you also assign them a point value for your opponent based on how likely you think (s)he is to get the question correct. You then get the points assigned by your opponent for each correct answer. Follow all that? Anyway, it's very fun but today the fourth question is based on Arrested Development. Heehee.

    (For reference, last Friday's questions were about:
    1. products produced in a hollow tree in Sylvan Glen
    2. The civilization in ancient Mesopotamia often credited with creating writing
    3. The cinematic gag first used in 1913 with Mabel Normand
    4. A scoring format for cricket
    5. Katherine Mansfield's 1922 short story regarding a specific type of party
    6. The two South American countries that do not border Brazil)

    Anyway, if anyone wants to try it in the future, I can send out an invite. The next league will probably start in early 2021.

    1. Yikes. That sample set tells me I am not a good candidate. Wild guesses:

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      I'm gonna say that I have relative confidence in 2 and 6. The rest are spitballs.

        1. It varies. And to note, these aren’t the full questions, just the topics. I got 1 and 3 on Friday, and took (incorrect) fliers on the rest.

          I 100% knew the Arrested Development one from today, though!

            1. It helps that, after a player's first season, they get slotted into a group with players of similar records. Then the relegation/promotion system means you're usually playing against people at similar levels. There's not a chance I would be able to hang with the top players, but since I don't compete with them directly, it doesn't matter that they could wipe the floor with me.

          1. I got 2, 3, and 6 on Friday with 3 being an educated guess (brianS's answer is correct). I was very frustrated at myself for missing 1 after seeing Keebler as the answer. I will say that the questions are written with a layer so that even if you don't know the answer a clue is contained within to hopefully help with an educated guess. Once I started figuring out how to find those hints, I typically get an extra answer or two correct each week.

            1. Agreed about the question format. I'm continually impressed with the way the questions often give a second (or third or fourth...) hint toward the answer, even when you don't know the answer straight-away.

                1. I took a shot in the dark and missed. This season has been rough for me. Currently sitting at 34th out of 38 in C Central. I’ve played 4 of the top 7, though, so I’m hoping for improvement.

  4. Chris Paul to the Suns

    Ricky! is part of the return package to OKC. He's definitely entered the "journeyman" phase of his career.

    Probably the biggest return piece is Kelly Oubre, who has turned into a pretty solid swing man. he's entering the second of a two-year, $30 million deal, so OKC is gonna have to make decisions pretty quickly on him.

    Booker, Paul, and Ayton make a very nice core for Phoenix, but they will need more of their young guys to step up to be a contender, even with Paul.

    1. I thought about following your link to see the details of the trade, but since it is Phoenix and OKC, I'm just going to assume that OKC got the better end of the deal.

      1. Oubre, Ricky!, Ty Jerome, Jalen Lecque and a protected 1st-round pick. If Chris Paul can't turn the Suns into a playoff team, that pick might not come for a couple years. If he can, then it's probably gonna be a mid-teens pick, so of marginal value.

        Oubre could be near-All Star caliber for several years. Ricky! is no Chris Paul, but he's a more than serviceable starting PG. He shot a career-best 36 pct from 3 this year and is entering his age-30 season. Ty Jerome was a rookie PG who got very little run this year. Lecque was a rookie, undersized, 19-year old shooting guard who was gonna get no run behind Booker. But, hilariously, his nickname apparently is "Baby Westbrook." Judging by his D-League stats, that's roughly accurate in the sense that he can't shoot a lick.

        Other than Oubre, this trade is about trying to rebuild for OKC. I'm not seeing it, but then I know very little about Jerome and Lecque. Maybe they will develop.

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