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Wednesday, May 14, 2003
 
Predictably, there is a dust-up brewing over Vijay Singh's remarks about Annika Sorenstam. Here's my take. It's bad for the LPGA. There is NO way Annika can compete against the men from the back tees. Women cannot hit the ball as far as men, which means they are playing 3 irons from the fairway while the men are playing wedges. Annika is the best women's player in the world. That means that there are thousands of men better than she from the back tees.

Prediction: Annika fails to make the cut. She will probably not have the worst score (somebody will blow up), but she will be close.
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Tuesday, May 13, 2003
 
Baseball musing this morning. Although the focus for the last few days has been on Palmeiro's breaking 500 home runs, A-Rod has managed to set the record for a major leaguer for most home runs by the age of 28. A-Rod has 309 homers as of yesterday. The prior record holder was Mel Ott, with 306 dingers, with Eddie Mathews and Hank Aaron close behind at 299 and 298 respectively. Here's the best part: A-Rod is NOT yet 28, in fact in terms of baseball age he won't be 28 until next season.

Some of this is certainly due to the juiced ball, lack of pitchers, or bandbox ballparks, depending on which reason you believe has caused the sudden upsurge in home runs in the majors over the last decade. But how can we adjust for this?

Fortunately, there is a reference source which contains every baseball statistic since 1871 in Microsoft Access format, so you can create your own queries. I decided to take a look at the home run rate in Aaron's time versus that which applies today. Aaron played from 1954-1976; during that time hitters (excluding American League pitchers, who have not been hitting in A-Rod's time), averaged 1 homer for every 45.6 plate appearances. A-Rod has played since 1994; during that time hitters averaged 1 homer for every 35.1 plate appearances. This indicates that about 23% of A-Rod's homers are due to current conditions, which would be about 69 homers entering the 2003 season, knocking him down quite a bit from the top at age 28. Still all he has to do to get it back would be to hit 75 homers over the balance of this season and the next, a task which he seems quite capable of achieving.

Note: I am not really suggesting that we do this sort of adjustment for everybody's stats like this; God knows if we did Roger Connor would probably rank as the greatest home run hitter ever. Just pointing out that even if you do make these adjustments, A-Rod still ranks up there near the top. It's not all an illusion, just some of it.
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There has been some comparison of the NY Times' Jayson Blair scandal to the infamous Janet Cooke story. Cooke, a reporter for the Washington Post, concocted a story about an eight-year-old junkie in 1981. The initial story caused a sensation, with Cooke winning a Pulitzer Prize. However, eventually it was discovered that she had made the boy up and she was fired and had the prize rescinded.

The interesting thing to me is that if the story had been written in the mid-late 1980s, there would have been no controversy at all about it. Indeed, it is not hard to imagine by then that the story about an eight-year-old junkie would have been passed on by editors as the equivalent of dog bites man.
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Monday, May 12, 2003
 
An interesting and generally favorable review of Sid Blumenthal's new book in the New York Times today:

"Sidney Blumenthal, journalist turned Clintonist, has written a deeply reported, deeply partisan book about his time as a senior White House aide. Scores are settled, both petty and portentous, and the book is being passed around Washington, samizdat-style, so the various players can check the index for their names."

I confess to not understanding the "deeply reported" bit, but the "deeply partisan" seems obvious. Samizdat refers to "The secret publication and distribution of government-banned literature in the former Soviet Union." It's a current political buzzword, and seems poorly applied here. I doubt very much that there's a secret cabal [aren't all cabals secret?--ed] of Washington insiders passing the book around.

"The book... evokes a dangerous, salacious political epoch that has been obscured by a period of terrorism and war."

Lord only knows how the reviewer thinks the late 1990s were "dangerous". "Salacious" of course is the word that David Kendall used to describe the details of Clinton's sexual activities with the hired help contained in the Starr Report.

I could Fisk the rest of the review, but it's not worth the effort. The reviewer manages to get quotes from people who both like and despise Blumenthal, but his objectivity ends there. About the worst he can say about Blumenthal is that he is partisan. On the other hand, he uses words like "exhaustively annotates", and "to his credit...", "comprehensive", "history will no doubt find Mr Blumenthal's account useful", and similar blather.

More important is this bit noted in passing:

" In the book Mr. Blumenthal takes particular satisfaction that after his own subpoenaed appearance in February 1998 before the independent counsel about his contacts with the press, Mr. Starr's "favorable rating sank to 11 percent, one of the lowest ever recorded for any public figure."

That may have had something to do with the fact that Blumenthal appears to me to have LIED to the New York Times' Anthony Lewis about some of the questions he was asked in front of the grand jury. Particularly, Lewis reported two questions that Blumenthal was never asked, according to the grand jury transcript: "Does the President's religion include sexual intercourse?" and "Does the President believe that oral sex is sex?".

A hat tip to Drudge for pointing this out on his webpage. The Times is in the middle of a controversy about a lying reporter, but apparently it has no problems with helping to promote a lying source's book.

Note: I was unable to come up with independent confirmation of the two questions mentioned above, or a complete transcript of Blumenthal's grand jury testimony. In contemporaneous accounts of Blumenthal's press conference after the testimony, the focus was more on Blumenthal's claim that he had been asked about his contacts with the media. Other sources have concluded that Blumenthal was at best exaggerating this claim.

Later note: It is not surprising that the media would focus on the aspect of Blumenthal's charges that applied to THEM. The navel-gazing media always think they are the story.
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Lefty Bloggers on Gay Witchhunt (linked by 16 blogs including Instapundit)

Kitty Myers Breaks Christmas in Cambodia

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