Thursday, March 27, 2014

Signor Baseball's 2014 AL Preview

Time to forget about your bracket--face it, it's irredeemably broken. Mercer?! Harvard?! Dayton?! Really? Time to pick up the old horsehide and start boning the bat. Yep, you guessed it, Spring has sprung, and ready or not, here's Signor Baseball's American League preview:

The East looks like another down and dirty race to the wire. Last season the Red Sox brought in a bunch of folks, none of them "superstars", rolled the dice, and ended up winning the World Series. That just doesn't happen very often in baseball. I suppose it could happen again, but...In New York, the Yankees are without the cursed A-Rod (finally) and have added a lot more power. The starting pitching could either be very, very good or very, very mediocre. Tanaka won't go 24-0 like he did in Japan, but he looks like a good bet to win 14-16 games. Kuroda and Nova are solid. CC Sabathia has lost something off his fastball, though he still is better than most, and Pineda is healthy for the first time in years. However, Rivera is gone, Cano is gone, Jeter is going fast, and second and third base look like big question marks. But who knows, maybe everything falls into place and New York can contend. Baltimore and Tampa are solid, on paper at least, and barring injury, should fight it out with Boston for the division and at least one of the Wild Cards. If the Orioles don't compete, Buck Showalter may be looking for another job. The Blue Jays, after the big spending debacle of 2013, can look forward to another also ran season. Having a knuckleballer as your #1 starter just doesn't work out. Sorry. At least it won't cost as much to finish last this year. Plus, Toronto has a very entertaining mayor. And that's something.

In the Central, Detroit has had a big edge talent wise for the last few seasons. This year, Cleveland and, gasp! Kansas City, might give them a race. Might. Both the Indians and the Royals will score runs, but they also both have obvious holes in their pitching. The Tigers still have a big edge in starting pitching and Miguel Cabrera. And maybe, someday, they'll win another World Series. Just kidding. Should they make it again, trust me, they'll figure out a way to lose. Kind of like the Texas Rangers. For whatever it's worth, the White Sox will once again be better than the Cubs in the battle for Chicago supremacy. And the Twins? Looks like they're turning into the Astros of the American League Central. And no, that is not a good thing.

Out in the Wild West, last year the Angels were a huge disappointment, the A's over-achieved again (gee, somebody in Oakland must know something, huh?), and the Rangers were pretty much what we thought they were. This year, Los Angeles (or Anaheim or Orange County or whatever they call themselves) added a couple of solid everyday players and some young arms. But if Pujols and Hamilton don't hit it will be another disappointing year for Halo fans everywhere. Texas traded a big bat for a bigger bat, but pitching wins things and they better get comeback seasons from any starter not named Darvish if they want to compete. The A's still have that lean and hungry look. So, I guess it's a 3 team race until the bitter end. Elsewhere, Seattle over spent to get Robby Cano, who is a great player, but not worth A-Rod (in his prime) money. Hell, A-Rod in his prime wasn't worth A-Rod money. Years 7-10 of Cano's contract will be a very, very sad time for the Mariners. But that's years down the road...Unfortunately, they probably won't win anything before then, either. And finally, try to name one member of the Houston Astros. Go on. Anybody? No? Well, there it is.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Signor Baseball's 2014 NL Preview

Well, it's that time of year again. Mr. Franklin tears himself away from wondering what happened to that airliner (has anybody checked gate 69 at Newark International?), and temporarily crawls out of the ice bath in which he braces himself for another delightful Phoenix Summer. The Crimea Crisis gets shoved to the back burner, all political shenanigans are swept aside for the moment, and he turns his attention to what truly matters: Signor Baseball's 2014 National League preview...

In the East, last year was supposed to be Washington's year. Didn't happen. Atlanta ran away from them. This year, three quarters of the Braves rotation imploded the first week of Spring training. So, hey, better late than never, let's go Nationals! Let's see if Matt Williams is a better manager than he was a third base coach. The Braves have plenty of bats, but their pitching is suddenly a hospital ward. The Phillies are just old, old, old. And some of them are getting grouchy, too. Some old guys are like that. The Mets are still not very good. Money can buy you everything but happiness--and a good team. With the Yankees in a weakened condition this may be a depressing season all around for New Yorkers. And 90 miles north of Cuba, the Marlins are...what exactly? They come up with a bunch of young talent year after year, have won as many World Series as the Yankees in the last eleven seasons, and still nobody comes to see them play. Plus their owner is a complete jerk. Hey, maybe that has something to do with it! Still, they have some bats and a little pitching (at least until their young players are eligible for free agency), so who knows? Washington hasn't won anything yet, the Braves and Phillies do have a couple of arms and a couple of bats, and this may be a year where almost every team in the East plays right around .500 and whoever gets hot in September wins the division.

The Central division, as usual, should be a dog fight until the end.  Reds, Cards, Pirates. Take your pick. At least one of the Wild Cards will come from the runners up. The Reds looked like they had a slight edge before their 100 mph closer took one in the eye a couple of days ago. Ouch. And the Pirates probably won't repeat last year's success. Their pitching just isn't that good. I get tired of picking St. Louis every year, but they put a good solid team on the field every year, and that's all that it takes in this division. So far, in the Windy City, City of the Big Shoulders, Hog Butcher to the World, Blahblahblah, Theo Epstein hasn't been able to work any wonders with the Cubs. They'll battle it out with Milwaukee for last place. Again. The good folks of Chicago certainly deserve better, but as Clint Eastwood once said, "deserves got nothing to do with it." I guess some curses are harder to break than others. And regarding the Brewers, well, any state that elects Scott Walker gets a truly sucky team. That's just Karma, I think.

And finally, out West, apparently Arizona has become a place that good young arms come to die. And with them, the Diamondbacks' hopes of catching the Dodgers. Now, repeat after me, "you can never have enough pitching."  Unfortunately, in an attempt to fill some other holes, the team traded a whole bunch of pitching that would sure come in handy about now. On offense, this Trumbo guy that Arizona brought in to protect Goldschmidt will hit 35-40 homers and strike out a lot. Mark Reynolds comes to mind.The rest of the lineup will scrape away trying to find enough runs to compete. All for naught, because the Dodgers are plain loaded from top to bottom. Case in point: their #5 starter was the D-Backs #1 a couple of years ago. The Giants, though they don't have many bats besides Posey's, should be better than last year--at least good enough to compete for a Wild Card slot. Indeed, San Francisco has won a couple of World Series with essentially the same level of talent. The D-Backs will have to hope that some sort of rotator cuff plague hits LA and San Francisco if they want to have a chance at winning this division. Do not fret, Rockies' and Padres' fans. Colorado and San Diego are still very nice places to spend the summer. And you can get legal weed in Denver! So they got that going for them.

So, light 'em up, and play ball!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Oooh Baby!

I don't know why the Republicans get so turned on by dictators.

It would probably take the combined insight of Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, and Lorraine Bracco to figure it out.

Maybe it's the idea of completely ignoring the people you govern, or any kind of open debate, and just doing what you want. Maybe it's that whole law and order thing taken to the nth degree. Maybe they all have Daddy issues. Or Mommy issues. Or maybe they're all just fascists at heart...

Whatever it is, the sight of Vlad Putin's hairless chest has caused some sort of meltdown in our reactionary friends.

Which means that Chris Christie better hit the gym right now if he wants to have any chance at all of getting the nomination of the Grim Old Party in 2016. He's already got the Putin bluster--now he needs the Putin pecs. Here's a thought: a few months on a diet of federal prison food might take off a lot of that Jersey blubber. They have weights there, too.

The same holds true for the pasty twins, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. Sorry boys, but you're just a little too flabby to make hearts flutter. Time to put down the collected works of Ayn Rand, and pick up the P90x. Ditto Jeb Bush. Your country, and by that I mean the Confederate States of America, needs you.

Now Paul Ryan--he might be the complete Republican package. He spends a lot of time in the gym. His policies are all specious crap. And he acts like a total dick, too. But he seems a little short on the bluster.

I wonder, do Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly give lessons?

Monday, March 10, 2014

2014 CPAC Roundup

Uh, let's see...

It was just a bunch of delusional, bigoted, reactionary, halfwit assholes vying with each other to see who could be the most delusional, bigoted, reactionary, halfwit asshole.

All for the entertainment of an audience of delusional, bigoted, reactionary, halfwit assholes.

That's about it. Oh, and God Bless America!

Friday, March 7, 2014

The Charge Of The Lightweight Brigade

Oh, what manly men they are!

William Kristol!

Lindsey Graham!

John McCain!

Charge for the guns they said!

(You go ahead...we'll be back here...watching...and cheering...)

Half a league, half a league, half a league onward!
Look, there's little Billy Kristol, son of the intellectual father of the neo-cons, Ur-chickenhawk, always on the lookout for ways to keep Israel safe for apartheid.

Right next to him is Lindsey "Belle of the South" Graham, who proudly served in the US Air Force and yet somehow never left South Carolina. No doubt he was keeping Charleston safe from the Iraqi hordes. Just like W. kept the bars of Texas safe from the Cong.

And in the lead, of course, is John "Maverick" McCain, who, and let's be honest now, has milked being a POW for 40 some years. He parlayed being captured into a seat in the House, then the Senate, and almost into the White House itself. Along the way he has somehow earned a reputation as a foreign policy 'expert'. Expert in his case is defined as being wrong about just about everything. But, fuck it, I guess we're all Ukrainians now, right John?

Some folks never tire of war. Indeed, the very idea of it makes them feel all warm and gooey inside.

Especially when they're not going to get their hands dirty fighting it.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

They're All The Same? No,They Aren't.

We've really got to stop this nonsense about "oh, both parties are at fault. The extremists on the left are just as bad as the extremists on the right."

No. They aren't.

One party wants to discriminate against gays. The same party wants to demonize unions. This party does everything it can to deny voting rights to minorities. This party also wants to take away a woman's right to control her own reproductive system. And destroy public education.

Affordable health care reform? Not if this party has it's way.

Rebuild the infrastructure? Sorry, can't afford it.

In general, this party has said a loud, resounding "No!" to every progressive measure. Even those that they originally supported.

Of course, this party does say "yes" to some things:

Lower taxes for the rich? You bet!

Beat up on poor people? Fuck yeah!

Industries free to pollute? Right on!

Money equals speech? Makes sense!

Destroy the safety net? About time!

Ignore science? The Bible says so!

Corporations are people? Sure!

War? Why not!

No, the fault runs entirely in one direction.

Oh, and by the way, what extremists on the left?

Barack Obama? 

Elizabeth Warren?

Nancy Pelosi? Harry Reid?

Give me a break.