68 thoughts on “April 21, 2021: Existential Questions”

      1. Yesterday - after the verdict - I saw a meme that said something like "No one thought the revolution would start in Minnesota. Except Prince."

        I smiled.

  1. In addition to the sheer humor of watching it all blow up so quickly, the failed Super League has allowed places like Defector or Calcaterra's newsletter to tie that failure into the current sports environment in thoughtful ways. From Craig this morning:

    Keep that in mind as these same sorts of dudes stake your favorite sport’s future on gambling or real estate or whatever else is in vogue in sports business at any given time. All they care about are the short term benefits for themselves. The viability of the given strategy, let alone its impact on the well-being of their sport, is never their top concern. It just so happened that, this time, that pursuit bit them in the ass publicly.

    This obviously applies to Manfred as well, who will never stop taking a dollar today even if it means forgoing two dollars next week.

      1. I really hope betting isn't that successful all-around so it doesn't creep into all parts of the game-watching experience, but yeah, having it really blow up for a Sinclair-owned operation would be pretty great.

        The Real Estate plays at least temporarily hurt the organizations trying to make team-owned entertainment mecca around the ballparks.

        1. I think the aspect I’m struggling with the most is how the sports betting talk is infiltrating journalistic analysis of players and teams. I can train myself to ignore certain aspects of the broadcast*, much as I loathe advertising & logo creep onto the uniforms and field surface itself. I can’t simply selectively unread sentences, paragraphs, and entire premises of articles covering the game.

          * Although some long-defunct branded/sponsored details seem to be lodged in my mind for good: Snapper Mow ‘Em Down innings. Rolaids Relief Man. Add your own.

          1. As soon as you mentioned old sponsorship deals, Rolaids came to mind. Guess that one worked!

            This is probably looked at as quaint/prudish within the industry, but I don't really like the idea of my kids watching and following a sport so with betting so heavily integrated into every part of it.

            A Snapper sponsorship wasn't going to potentially lead them down the road to a grass-mowing addiction. How little attention is being given to the problem of gambling addiction is concerning.

            1. I’m not sure it’s all that prudish. (Sharing your distaste for sports betting gambling, I may be biased in that regard.) I would not consider my views as particularly puritanical on many social issues, but I find it deeply disturbing that league-endorsed gambling would be so casually and pervasively woven into the fabric of sports, given the position sports occupy in American society.

              Part of me wonders if, twenty to forty years from now, we’ll look back at the infiltration of gambling advertising/broadcast networks/sponsorship deals as a socially poisonous influence that was as pervasive and unregulated as the health-detrimental liquor and tobacco influences were at the middle of the previous century.

              1. Part of me wonders if, twenty to forty years from now, we’ll look back at the infiltration of gambling advertising/broadcast networks/sponsorship deals as a socially poisonous influence that was as pervasive and unregulated as the health-detrimental liquor and tobacco influences were at the middle of the previous century.

                I believe we've already reached this point with social media. At least I have.

            2. A Snapper sponsorship wasn't going to potentially lead them down the road to a grass-mowing addiction

              This sounds like it would be good, actually. At least, beneficial to me. (Although I have an Ego, not a Snapper.)

    1. I got Calcaterra’d out during his NBC tenure, but man if the guy doesn’t have a point.

      If only the Commissioner was an independent ombuds appointed by a panel representing the MLBPA, owners, BBWAA, SABR, and (how would one do this?) fans.

  2. I remember April 21, 1980, 41 years ago, when the high temperature in Fargo was inexplicably 100 degrees. After school we had track practice and part of our warmup was to run a mile with stops for stretching. Sweats on! After warmup, our coach would tell us what the workout for the day was. He came out and said, no workout, too hot. Ha!

    1. conversely, I remember a day in early May (1980 or 1981) when I had to shovel out the discus circle prior to a meet, as it had been covered by a foot or two of snow drift from a storm the night before.

  3. Within the last week someone posted that their friend thought the Chauvin defense did a real good job in poking holes in the prosecution's case. Two thoughts:

    1. Get that guy a job as a pundit on News Max
    2. Can you share their name so I never go to them for legal advice?

    1. Yeah, I was incredulous about that. I maintain that the defense would have better off not calling a single witness than calling an expert that said that Derek Chauvin should have administered CPR.

      EDIT: And I think they would have, had they felt that their case was going well. There were two points I was trying to make. One, that the case wasn't going well at all and the defense attorneys knew it, and two, they bungled what little chance they had by calling their expert. The prosecution had a very strong hand and they played it almost to perfection.

      1. A few additional legal items for consideration:

        If the prosecution fails to make their case, the defense is going to ask the judge to dismiss. In this case, the defense called a witness, and then made that motion. When the judge rejects that motion, that signals to the jury that the expert - the judge - disagrees with the defense, and clearly the prosecution has made their case. So as soon as that motion was denied it became necessary for the defense to put on some sort of evidence, as otherwise they had nothing to contradict that ruling.

        Additionally, I don't know that we can say the defense "bungled" what little chance they had - there was simply no expert out there who was going to do better than the expert that they found, precisely because "what little chance they had" was so miniscule. I'm reminded of a case I handled once (non-criminal), where my client, after previously denying that she did a bad-employment thing, at the hearing admitted to doing the bad-employment thing she had been accused of doing. She therefore lost. I didn't "bungle" that - the facts were revealed and the system worked. So, too, here.

        1. A question about your first point, knowing nothing about how this actually works: Did the jury actually know about the defense's motion to dismiss, and that it was denied? I assumed that there were motions that would be made and decided outside of the view of the jury, and which they would not be told about. Is that not the case? Or is that a motion that the jury would always get to know about?

          1. The Jury didn't know. That discussion happened without the jury in the room. Also I think there was some sort of logistical reason why the motion to dismiss occurred after the first defense witness. Something about their availability.

            1. That was all kind of muddled to me - it would normally be brought pre-witness.

              You're right that the discussion happened without the jury in the room. Maybe this is the lawyer in me knowing that that motion is almost always made, that I assume the jury would have "known" without really knowing (like a lot of things in jury trials - disregarding certain evidence and things like that). If done correctly, I suppose they wouldn't have been aware.

      2. I'll say that the outside MN legal view of the state's case was (at least in my experience since those people are mostly out east or international) mixed to saying the state to having done a poor job. But they also couldn't understand our uncommon murder code and definitely weren't used to the juror pool. I thought there would be a conviction, but didn't know if the 2nd Degree would happen.

        I don't necessarily agree with what Philo that the jury makes that assumption, but it also isn't what I would have done. I don't think they bungled it either. Their best case may have been choosing to testify, but attorneys don't make that choice.

          1. And the prosecution couldn't even bring up the fact that his Carbon Monoxide levels were within standard limits because they discovered the lab test too late.

            1. There is a lot of relevant (or not) evidence excluded in every case. I'm not going to critique the defense or prosecution since it's been a minute, other than to say they looked competent and doing the best with what they had at the time they had it.

              1. I'd echo this. Trials are hard. And you always have 3 of them - the one you plan for, the one you actually argue, and the one that you realize you should have argued as soon as you rest your case.

                I might definitely be too into the lawyer world at times to remember how non-lawyers look at things (meaning: you might be right, maybe the jury doesn't make the assumption I make about whether the prosecution made their case. I just can't un-know what I know...). But from what I saw, it looked like both sides presented what they had, and the facts determined the outcome, not something else.

  4. I'm not totally worried about the Twins yet, it's only a few weeks into the season. But, the needle is starting to sway toward the sad trombone.

    1. FG's postseason odds dropped from 72% to 43%. White Sox haven't changed much. There is a slight trend up to 58% but have been above 50% for most of the season. There's a lot of season to happen still and better to have the assbats show up at the beginning rather than end.

      1. I remember going to the 11th game of the season one year and the Twins lost their sixth straight to fall to 2-9. As I walked out of the Metrodome, I saw Andy McPhail in the concourse. I wanted to say thanks for this crappy team, Andy, but I didn't. That game was played on April 20, 1991.

        Back at the old basement, I wrote a piece at the end of April where I said this team was a disaster and the Twins were broken. I called it the Pottery Barn Rule. I wrote that piece on April 30, 2006.

        I've learned not to judge a team that we think is good by results in April.

    2. dude! They're tied with the Yankmes. How bad can they be?

      by the numbers, the Twins are...a very average team so far. 8-8 by Pythag, 1.6 WAA for non-pitchers, -1.5 WAA for pitchers (all due to relief failures).

    3. Everything has the caveat that "it's early" but I'm concerned about players such as Garver and Sano who were pretty lousy last year and have done nothing to make someone think 2020 was just a weird year. Some of the good feelings about the Twins were that these guys were going to bounce back this year.

    4. I feel like the key to their offense (and defense) is wrapped up in the health of Buxton and Donaldson, which makes me very nervous. I think barring multiple key injuries on the pitching staff, we will be fine on the mound. My anxiety level with this team has moved up to a "5" on a scale of 1 to 10.

    5. The newest release of OOTP was not supposed to be so compelling right now.

      I found myself idly wondering yesterday what multiplier on the Sanó extension ($30 million guaranteed over 3 years) would be too high for me to wish they’d taken the risk and simply signed Buxton to a deal that kept him with the club through 2025 (two years beyond his earliest FO date). I would up somewhere between 3.5x ($17.5m AAV) and 4.5x ($22.5m AAV) over the six years that extension would have covered.

      Hindsight, however, makes me far more comfortable with that figure than I probably would have been at the time. I didn’t understand the haste to sign Sanó, but I also didn’t expect he’d be this bad. His value is almost entirely wrapped up in his bat, and his only sustained consistency is his feast/famine streakiness.

    6. They've only plaed one team with a losing record, the Tigers, and won that series They've played two teams in the Red Sox and A's who were on close to historic win streaks. The Twins ended Boston's 9-game win streak and should have ended the A's at 10. That would have been their two most recent wins. That's insane to think a team would stop win streak of at least 9 games twice in a season let alone twice within a week's time. Four of their losses are in extra innings with the bizarre rules. If they had just gone with ties, they would be 6-7-4. In games decided in 9 innings, they are 6-3. They've been outscored on the season by just 3 runs despite Donaldson being hurt, Buxton missing time and now the COVID mess. The best thing for the Twins is the AL Central has been mediocre at best and the Twins have only played one series against it. I really feel like this is a first inning for a very good pitcher where he's struggling but the opponents leave men on base and you know he's going to figure it out real soon.

      Key will be for the Twins to get healthy. Cruz's ankle worries me, and of course I hold my breath every time Donaldson and Buxton are running the bases hard. Having Arraez, Donaldson, Cruz, Buxton at the top of the lineup consistently could be spectacular. Hopefully, Buxton will start leading off vs. lefties or just leave Arraez there if he's not getting a day off. Arraez's career OBP vs. lefties is over .360.

      1. Four of their losses are in extra innings with the bizarre rules.

        This. While they Twins have played some bad baseball to lead to some of those extra inning games and/or losses, there's some bad luck mixed in there.

        No need to get all GOSO'd just yet. It's baseball! with people in the stands! outdoors! (mostly) Smell the peanuts and Cracker Jack, people.

        1. Those bizarre rules apply to both teams.

          But yes, it's basesball and it's fun. I think the drama is the utterly frustrating ways they have lost.

          1. yea, my read is that four losses is far too small a set of observations to draw any meaningful inferences about the Twins' competence or otherwise in extra innings/close games. Hence the "bad luck" comment.

            I definitely share the frustration regarding some of those bad losses. I mean, the word "fan" is short for "fanatic," right?

  5. One thing I haven't read (and I very easily could have missed it)- why did the Twins get so many postponements while other teams with COVID issues played on shorthanded? Was it because of the sheer number of positives (including the false positives), the potential spread to the coaching staff...or something else?

    1. I wonder that too, and it got me thinking if The Pohlads said "lets pause and see what we have here" whereas Houston is like "welp we need money keep playing". Total hairbrained theory on my part.

    2. Being Home v Away maybe. Also punishing a team that just very publicly got the J&J vax before an off day then getting a few + could play a part. I'm guess last year's events with outbreaks also probably plays a part with the MLB big wigs?

    3. Rosenthal covered that recently.

      Astros pitcher Lance McCullers, the team’s player rep, expressed his frustration after the first loss that included substitute players from the team’s alternate site, saying, “I don’t really understand why we played tonight, quite honestly.” Other players on the team also are said to be frustrated, unable to grasp why the league is requiring them to play at a competitive disadvantage.

      The difference, sources said, is that with the Nationals and Twins the league feared outbreaks similar to those experienced by the Marlins and Cardinals last season. The situation with the Astros, still unknown to the public, evidently did not spark the same level of concern.

      “MLB intends to postpone games only if necessary to protect the health and safety of club personnel, players and umpires,” the league’s operations manual for 2021 states. “Games will not be postponed for competitive reasons provided the club has a sufficient number of players available on its taxi squad or at its alternate site to replace those players on the active roster who are unavailable to play as a result of COVID-19.”

      I think the short explanation is: don't be in the middle of a homestand when the outbreak happens.

  6. For my inside remodel and outdoor patio expansion projects at the joint, I hired a professional designer. Very talented lady, but I am finding that trying to get her and the builder/contractors on the same page is a full time job for me. It really nobody's fault, as I knew going in that the construction guys would speak a different language than her and there would be a need for me to translate and broker peace between the two. But... I grow weary of it. I just want to get to the other side of these projects.

  7. Birthday dinner is underway. Bacon wrapped beef tenderloin on the grill, baked potatoes, Caesar salad, baguette, and a Francis Coppola Cabernet Sauvignon. There are multiple desert options, and some port or an Irish coffee for afters. Or both.

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