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Saturday, January 27, 2018

Dynasty baseball

Jim Thome's election into the National Baseball Hall of Fame has me reminiscing about my dynasty-league fantasy baseball championship teams of the late 1990s.

In a 24 team league, the Louisville Sluggers lost in the World Series in the 1996 B season. The OBFLB divides the season every year at the All-Star break. The Sluggers won its first championship with Thome at third base in 1997 A. The team repeated in 1998 A, 1999 A, 2000 A, 2002 B, and 2003 B. There was also a runner-up finish in 1999 B. That made 6 championships and 8 World Series appearances in 8 years, covering 15 possible World Series. There were some playoff losses in there too: I found a file for 2000 B, but seem to be missing other data from the early 2000s.

The team has had some success since then, but not as sustained as that dynasty.

I found an old file with my mid-year roster of retained players from 1997. Below, I've highlighted in yellow the players subsequently elected to the Hall of Fame:

Louisville Sluggers 
15 (14 + 1 DL) Players

 C:Mike Sweeney         R 97    (KCR AL)
2B:Roberto Alomar       R 91    (Bal AL) 
3B:Jim Thome            R 93    (Cle AL) 
3B:Kevin Orie           D1897   (ChC NL)
IF:Edgar Alfonzo        D1797   (NYM NL)
OF:Rich Becker          R 97    (Min AL)
OF:Shawn Green          Rm95    (Tor AL)
OF:Darin Erstad         Rm95    (Ana AL)
OF:Jeromy Burnitz       D1997   (Mil AL)
SP:Pedro Astacio        Rm96    (LAD NL)
SP:Greg Maddux          R 91    (Atl NL) 
SP:Pedro Martinez       R 94    (Mon NL) 
SP:Shane Reynolds       Rm94    (Hou NL)          DL
RP:Mike Fetters         Rm94    (Mil AL)
RP:Mariano Rivera       R 97    (NYY AL)

The following off-season, in February 1998, I traded Mariano Rivera and Kevin Orie for SS Derek Jeter (plus "TPs," which are points used as cash). Jeter will one day be in the HoF. 

The R or Rm designations reflect when a player was first retained in the league (D## indicates drafted round and year). I inherited Greg Maddux when I received my team in 1992. Pedro Martinez was a trade acquisition prior to the 1994 season. According to one of my old files, I got him for two guys who together had over 30 saves in 1993 -- P Jerry DiPoto (Cle) and P Gene Harris (SD)! Martinez himself had been a relief pitcher in LA prior to that 1994 season in Montreal.

Jim Thome was probably  also a trade acquisition, though a year earlier -- after the 1992 season. He had hit 3 HR in a small number of plate appearances prior to his 1993 season as a Slugger. I cannot find the details. 

A few moments searching reveals that I traded Jeff Cirillo and Marc Newfield for Robbie Alomar in February of 1997. He was not a member of the 2002 and 2003 teams, though I cannot find the  details explaining why.  

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Thursday, January 25, 2018

Anyone want a job paying at least $100K per month?

Today, the Louisville Courier Journal tweeted this story:

From my personal twitter account, I replied:

That sort of set me off...but I started replying from my professional account:

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Saturday, January 20, 2018

Truth Decay

By Master Steve Rapport (Tax March SF) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
Some highly respected scholars are warning that the public sphere is under serious threat -- from the shallow nature of social media, intentional foreign misinformation campaigns, lack of public agreement about basic facts and information, the blurring of the lines between opinion and fact -- and the persistent lying of Donald Trump.

Indeed, the Rand Corporation recently released a report warning that "truth decay," the term they adopt, "poses a direct threat to democracy." Rand authors assert that truth decay can cause "the erosion of political and civil discourse, political paralysis at the federal and state level, and increased risk of individual disengagement from political and civic life."

Next, consider the points recently made by Tom Nichols of the Naval War College, author of The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why it Matters. Among other concerns, he sees real trouble in the rise of social media and state actor (especially Russianbots:
“There is always a market for conspiracy theories, and social media reduces the barrier to entry for people who want to peddle them to near zero,” Tom Nichols, a professor at the U.S. Naval War College and author of The Death of Expertise, told ThinkProgress. “Twitter, especially, is amenable to this, because you can mimic expertise in short bursts, and pretend to know things you could not possibly know, in a way you would never be able to sustain — or that would reveal the utter ludicrousness of your argument — if you had to make your points at greater lengths in a coherent, single article.... 
The negative effect here is that cynicism about information sources will increase as each of these waves [of conspiracy theorists] passes through,” Nichols said. “I think that’s actually the goal of some of the state actors dumping misinformation on the net: to exhaust the readers into paralysis, so that they believe nothing.”
Additionally, consider the following claims from Allan Lichtman, an American University History Professor who earned a measure of fame in fall 2016 for predicting that Donald Trump would win the presidency. In 2016, even as he was making his prediction, Lichtman warned that Trump posed a danger to America (and potentially to the accuracy of his prediction system):
[Trump]'s a bit of a maverick, and nobody knows where he stands on policy, because he's constantly shifting. I defy anyone to say what his immigration policy is, what his policy is on banning Muslims, or whoever, from entering the United States, that's certainly a factor. But it's more his history in Trump University, the Trump Institute, his bankruptcies, the charitable foundation, of enriching himself at the expense of others, and all of the lies and dangerous things he's said in this campaign, that could make him a precedent-shattering candidate.
Lichtman noted at the time that "the two candidates have been repeatedly fact-checked by independent sources, and his lies vastly outnumber hers [Hillary Clinton's]." Indeed, Lichtman predicted at the time that Trump would be impeached in office. He has subsequently authored a book The Case for Impeachment outlining 8 possible reasons for Trump's impeachment.

More recently, the scholar has extended his critique: “He [Trump] has shattered reality itself,” said Lichtman, the American University professor. “There is no such thing as reality in the world of Trump.”

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