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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Washington Natinals

No, I didn't make a typo in that title. But Majestic Athletic company did make an error. From ESPN:
It was the uniform company's fault that Washington Nationals Adam Dunn and Ryan Zimmerman wore jerseys reading "Natinals" during a game last week.

Dunn and Zimmerman donned the shirts that were missing an "o" for the first three innings of Washington's 3-2 loss to the Florida Marlins on Friday night...

"All of us at Majestic Athletic want to apologize to both the Washington Nationals and Major League Baseball for accidentally omitting the 'o' in two Nationals jerseys," Majestic Athletic president Jim Pisani said in a statement distributed at Nationals Park on Tuesday.
Amazing, but true.

See it for yourself here.


Update: Apparently, this kind of error has occurred throughout baseball history -- as I learned on a SABR listserv.


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Friday, April 24, 2009

Louisville Climate Action Report

The city of Louisville, together with the University and public school system -- aka "The Partnership for a Green City -- this week released a climate action report in time for Earth Day. This press release is on the University's website:
The report’s bottom line is this: People in Louisville Metro will have to collectively cut carbon emissions by more than 2 million tons to achieve the goals set forth in a climate protection agreement signed by a group of U.S. mayors in 2005. By signing it, the mayors pledged to seek to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from city operations and the community at large to 7 percent below 1990 levels by 2012.

According to a recent report issued by the Brookings Institution and quoted in the Climate Action Report, GHG emissions per capita within the Louisville Metro area are among the highest in the nation for large municipalities. The Louisville Metro area has the fourth highest per capita GHG emissions among the 100 largest metropolitan areas and is well above the estimated national average.
The report notes that 29% of emissions locally result from residential electricity consumption and 29% more are from transportation. The cheapest way to cut emissions is to reduce energy consumption.

I served on the Utility Regulations, Policies and Practices Subcommittee, though I also attended a meeting of the Education and Outreach subcommittee and met informally with other members over the past couple of years.

For the past three semesters I've been active in the College of Arts & Sciences "Green Team," which is trying to reduce energy consumption on campus.


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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Quick quacks

Today, at the Duck of Minerva group IR blog, I posted "Can recession cause regime change?" This piece, exploring whether regimes in autocratic states like Russia and China can survive the recession, continues my blogging on the alleged "upside of the downturn."

Sunday, I posted "Iraq: The Undead and the Dead," which concerns the reduced media scrutiny of the Iraq war and the apparently large (and overlooked) number of suicides (and acts of family violence) by returning veterans.


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Sunday, April 19, 2009

Bolts from the Blue 2009

For the past few seasons, I've been posting the roster of my entry in the Hardy House fantasy baseball league. On Saturday, April 4, in Lexington, KY, I attended my 21st consecutive auction draft. We rarely pick rosters before opening day, but the season started a week late this year because of the World Baseball Classic.

My 2008 squad finished second in the league and I was hopeful going into the draft because my retained players seemed fairly strong to me.

As a reminder: the league has 12 teams and uses American League players exclusively to accumulate statistics in the traditional 8 categories (HR, RBI, SBs, BA, Wins, Saves, ERA and WHIP). One roster quirk now in its second year: we added a 10th pitcher and subtracted an outfielder. We thought this better reflected a change that real baseball teams made over the past 20 years.

The 2009 Bolts from the Blue (7 retained players in blue)

C Chad Moeller (BAL) $1
C Kelly Shoppach (CLE) $5
1B Billy Butler (KC) $23
2B Alexei Ramirez (CHX) $13
3B Scott Rolen (TOR) $7
SS Derek Jeter (NYY) $21
MI Akinora Iwamura (TB) $11
CR Jed Lowrie (BOS) $10
OF Grady Sizemore (CLE) $40
OF Ben Francisco (CLE) $13
OF Felix Pie (BAL) $5
OF Delmon Young (MIN) $20
DH Mark Teahan (KC) $11
Hitting $180

P Roy Halladay (TOR) $28
P Felix Hernandez (SEA) $25
P James Shields (TB) $8
P Rich Hill (BAL) $1 (DL)
P Gio Gonzalez (OAK) $1 (AAA the next day)
P Grant Balfour (TB) $6
P Jerry Blevins (OAK) $5
P Jose Arredondo (LAA) $3
P Joe Smith (CLE) $1
P Ramon Ramirez (BOS) $1
Pitching $79

I left only $1 on the table, but I had some extra cash in the endgame and clearly overpaid for Jerry Blevins when I was trying to find a relief pitcher with an outside shot at saves. Oakland's Joey Devine had just been placed on the 60-day DL and most of the A's bullpen sold at inflated prices.

Butler, Jeter and Sizemore were on my 2008 team and I drafted them again.

To replace Hill and Gonzalez on my active roster, I picked up free agent relievers Joe Nelson (TB) and Robinson Tejeda (KC). Hopefully, Hill can find his control and return to form and Gonzalez will either get a shot at Oakland's rotation or closer job (a common spot for failed starters).

Clearly, I'm a big believer in drafting players John Hunt used to call "post-hype." Those are guys who are still young, but their disappointing performance to-date has caused their value to decline. Young and Pie are my main post-hype picks, though Teahan may belong in this category too.

As usual, I didn't pay for a "proven closer" at the draft. I last paid big bucks for a closer in 2007. Hours later, $34 Blue Jay B.J. Ryan pitched his last game of the season. Luckily, I had picked teammate Jeremy Accardo in the final round of the reserve draft.

Here are my reserve picks this year:

1. OF Matt Joyce (TB) $3
2. OF Gabe Gross (TB) $2
3. UT Jose Bautista (Tor) $1

Gross will be active this coming week thanks to the Lowrie injury, which moves Teahan to the infield.

You can find posts about the 2005, 2007 and 2008 drafts elsewhere on this blog.


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Saturday, April 11, 2009

Upside of the downturn?

Economic recessions cause all kinds of personal and public hardship. However, I've noticed a number of articles explaining the upside of the downturn. Michael Dresser of the Baltimore Sun:
The number of traffic deaths in the United States dropped to the lowest level since 1961 last year as skyrocketing gas prices and economic recession cut into the number of miles Americans drove. The estimated 37,313 deaths reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration represent a 9.1 percent decline from the 41,059 fataliities recorded in 2007.

I don't know about you, but I think this is a big deal. It means there are more than 3,700 inhabitants of this country alive today than would have been if the figure had remained flat. It's akin to avoiding a tragedy of 9/11 proportions.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration attributes some of this decline to increased use of seat belts.

Previously, I noted
that the recession had reduced greeenhouse gas emissions. USA Today had a followup report on this claim on April 8:
The worldwide economic slowdown is having an unexpected positive impact in the fight against global warming: Emissions of carbon dioxide are falling, records collected by governments show.

From the United States to Europe to China, the global economic crisis has forced offices to close and factories to cut back. That means less use of fossil fuels such as coal to make energy.
US power plant emissions were apparently down 3% from 2007-2008 while "Carbon dioxide from industrial facilities in 27 European nations in 2008 plummeted 6%, according to Point Carbon's analysis of data published last week by the European Commission."

As I noted in March, however, reduced economic activity does not necessarily mean good news for the environment:
Some experts fear lower emissions may make companies and governments less likely to spend money to cut carbon output. "There's a risk that it will push back needed investment into … cleaner production," [Emilie] Mazzacurati [of Point Carbon] says.
I happened to read this issue of the paper in Portland, where I was giving a talk -- and not blogging.

You can find a brief report of my visit to Lewis and Clark College at Duck of Minerva.


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Friday, April 10, 2009

2009 Louisville Sluggers

I know readers have been eager to learn the lineup of my fantasy baseball teams for 2009. When last in action, the Louisville Sluggers of the Original Bitnet Fantasy Baseball League won the 2008 season B World Series. The league crowns champions for both the "A" first half (pre-All Star game) and "B" second half of the baseball season.

The OBFLB is a 24 team head-to-head fantasy baseball league using 10 categories: HR, SB, batting average, runs produced average, plate appearances, innings pitched, wins, saves, ERA and "ratio."

Here are the 2009 Sluggers (players in red were retained from 2008). Since I retained 13 players, I started the draft in round 14:

Starters
C: Kurt Suzuki (OAK) (16th round)
1B: Joey Votto (CIN)
2B: Aaron Hill (TOR) (14th round)
3B: Edwin Encarnacion (CIN)
SS: Troy Tulowitzki (COL)
OF: Carlos Beltran (NYM)
OF: Adam Jones (BAL)
OF: Carlos Gomez (MIN)
DH: Billy Butler (KC)

SP: Tim Lincecum (SF)
SP: Josh Beckett (BOS)
SP: Rich Harden (CHC)
SP: Ricky Nolasco (FLA)
SP: Fausto Carmona (CLE)
RP: Chris Perez (STL) (AAA)
RP: Rafael Soriano (ATL) (15th round)
RP: Carlos Villanueva (MIL) (19th round)
RP: Josh Kinney (STL) (21st round)

Bench
C: George Kottaras (BOS) (27th round)
1B: Kevin Millar (TOR) (28th round)
IF: Alberto Callaspo (KC) (20th round)
IF: Gordon Beckham (CHX) (17th round)
IF: Willy Aybar (TB) (23rd round)
OF: Ben Francisco (CLE) (18th round)
OF: Gabe Gross (TB) (24th round)

SP: Wade Davis (TB) (26th round)
SP: Jason Hammel (COL) (22nd round)
RP: Damasco Marte (NYY) (25th round)

The Beckham pick indicates the premium my league puts on talented young prospects, especially at skill positions (SS in this case). In other words, I was drafting for the future -- or perhaps for a mid-year trade in case I have an injury.

I made one pre-season trade that may prove disastrous, dealing SP Josh Johnson (FLA) for RP Chris Perez. When I made the deal, most analysts thought Perez was going to be the closer in St. Louis. Instead, he's pitching in Memphis. I had a lot of depth at starting pitcher and couldn't get any value in trade for Carmona.


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Thursday, April 02, 2009

Ducking out

Today, at the Duck of Minerva group IR blog, I posted "The new neighbors." It is about the Obama administration and Europe, with a focus on the latest climate change negotiations.

March 25, I posted "Overseas contingency operations," which is apparently the new name for the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan (previously known as the "war on terror").


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