Sunday, July 26, 2009

Slumping Sox

In the bottom of the 7th inning, it is now 6-1 Orioles. All the problems with the Red Sox are currently on display:

John Smoltz again missing on location and struggling. He put the Sox in an early hole and just like his outing at Texas last week, it snowballed. Entering the game, Smolz's ERA was 6.31. Today, he gave up 6 runs in 5 innings. Despite him being a certain Hall of Famer, the Red Sox will be faced with a decision over Smolz's fate if he continues to pitch like this in his next four starts.

J.D. Drew continues to be a non impact player. He is batting .136 with 4 RBI in the month of July. I've let go of my hopes of him being the 30 HR 100 RBI player he should be. What's the deal with Rocco Baldelli? Why isn't he playing more?

I love the Adam LaRoche acquisition. They gave up nothing for him and he can hit. Considering the lack of range Mike Lowell is showing at 3B, plus how slow Lowell is, LaRoche should see a lot of time at 1B with Youkilis at 3B. I know Youk is unhappy whenever he is out of the lineup, but the way he plays the game, he's going to need that rest so he will be ready for the postseason.

The Red Sox NEED Jed Lowrie to shake off the rust a little quicker and start hitting.

Dustin Pedroia, while having a decent season, is not even close to the player he was last year.

I'm not worried about Jason Bay. He'll come around.

It was nice to see Justin Masterson string together a few scoreless innings. He needs to gain his confidence back after a rough 6 weeks.

Mark Kotsay had 1 HR in 200 AB's in his time with the Red Sox. While a versatile defender, they needed him to be more of a run producer at the plate.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Rough Times in the Land of Plenty

Today, the U.S. economy received some rare good news: Intel announced they had an excellent second quarter in their earnings report and the news had coattails; Intel's success set a bullish tone of trading for the day, bringing up the Dow, NASDAQ, and S&P 500 between 3-3.5% today.

On the federal government front, universal healthcare seems to be more and more inevitable. It is going to have to be up to moderate Democrats in the U.S. Senate like Ben Nelson and for Republican Senators to keep party discipline (that means YOU, Olympia Snowe), make sure this bill isn't filibuster proof, and vote against what I will think will be the most damaging legislation of my lifetime.

Already the U.S. federal budget deficit is $1 TRILLION. The House Democrats' plan for universal healthcare will include tax hikes on the richest Americans; those making over $350,000 and over will see a 1% increase in their taxes. Those making $1 million a year and over will get whacked an extra 5.4% to pay for this monstrosity.

The economy is still in a perilous state. The $787 billion stimulus bill hasn't worked. The beginning cost for the health care bill is $1 trillion. Realistically, it will be more like $2-3 trillion.
Just around the corner, the Baby Boomer Generation will begin retiring and collecting Social Security in 2011 - no one is talking about this! The Social Security trust fund has been raided for years to pay for other programs. How will the money be there for Social Security to be solvent, never mind paying over $1 trillion for government run health care!

The damage that is being done by those on Capitol Hill over the last 6 months is nothing short of alarming. If I ran my household the way the President Obama and the Democrats are running this country, I'd be bankrupt and could never get a house or car loan. However, George W. Bush and the House and Senate Republicans also deserve blame, because they abandoned their conservative principles and fiscal discipline over the last eight years.

Seriously, how is our economy supposed to recover, when taxes are being hiked on both individuals and corporations? One of the provisions being discussed in order to implement universal healthcare is if a company doesn't provide health insurance and has more than 25 employees, the small business will incur a $750 per employee penalty. Small businesses drive our economy. If this provision were passed, how will that stimulate job growth?

Once a universal healthcare plan is in place, many companies will immediately stop offering health care as a benefit to their employees. I can honestly say I am very happy with the health insurance I receive from my company. Never do I have to wait long to get in to see my doctors, the premiums are fair, and any doctor I would want to see is in the provider network. I would be livid if I were to lose my private health insurance, have to enroll in a government program, and wait months to see my doctors. How long will it take for one of my family members to get an MRI if they were to need one with government insurance? I know it won't be nearly as fast as the 5 days it took when a family member needed one in the fall of 2007.

The bigger picture is how and when will our economy grow with all these anti growth policies the Democratic dominated federal goverment is pushing? I haven't even gone into the details of the cap and trade bill which will reduce American competitiveness in the global marketplace. When will the American people stop being so naive and suckered by politicians promising pipe dreams without tax hikes? For those of us who see the big picture and care about the future of America, these are rough times in the land of plenty.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

1976 Baseball All Star Game

Big thumbs up to the new MLB Network, which during this All Star Break, has been showing old All Star Games in their entirety. They showed the 1971 game last night and the 1986 game today. However, the ones from the late 70's were the best ones, so I was ecstatic to find that one of the games they are showing is the 1976 All Star Game. Some observations of that game:

Mark Belanger was an AL All Star at SS? Steve Swisher an NL All Star at C?

John Montefusco made it for the Giants. "The Count" was a very good pitcher, who unfortunately only pitched for terrible teams (Giants, Padres, Atlanta, and Yankees) during his entire career.

Don Money represented the Brewers who were then in the AL. He used to kill the Red Sox.

What a PATHETIC starting lineup for the American League.

P - Mark Fidrych

C - Thurman Munson

1B - Rod Carew

2B - Bobby Grich

SS - Toby Harrah

3B - George Brett

LF - Ron LeFlore

CF - Fred Lynn

RF - Rusty Staub

No wonder the AL didn't win for years. Fred Lynn's the only one who had any power in that lineup. Rusty Staub, Ron LeFlore, Bobby Grich, and Toby Harrah? Those players were decent, but didn't strike me as guys who should start an All Star game.

George Brett and the awesome Rod Carew are the two best players in this starting lineup. Carew is one of my favorite all time players.

The AL first base coach is Frank Robinson - he was better than anyone who played in that game.

The only starters in both lineups who are deceased are the members of the AL battery - Fidrych and Munson. Catfish Hunter is also deceased, but he didn't start.

In 1976, who better to lead off for the NL than Pete Rose?

The NL starting lineup is full of Cincinnati Reds:

P - Randy Jones

C - Johnny Bench

1B - Steve Garvey

2B - Joe Morgan

SS - Davey Concepcion

3B - Pete Rose

LF - Greg Luzinski

CF - George Foster

RF - Dave Kingman

Whoever voted for Dave Kingman to start in an All Star game, should be as ashamed of themselves as those who voted for John Kerry for President.

Johnny Bench only made 14 All Star games.

Best moment: Late in the game, Mickey Rivers running from first to second and going out of the basepaths on a 4-6-3 double play where he took out NL SS Bill Russell and spiked him in the thigh. The All Star Game really meant something back then. I have newfound respect for Mickey Rivers for playing that hard in an "exhibition game".

Cesar Cedeno hit a bomb late in the game off Frank Tanana.

Funniest line was when Rick Rhoden was pitching and he hit 91 on the radar gun, either Bob Uecker or Warner Wolf proclaimed any fastball better than 85-86 MPH was very good. Angels lefty Frank Tanana was throwing 95. Tanana blew out his arm soon after, and by the time the Red Sox got him, he was an 82 mph throwing junkballer.

Surprisingly, Reginald Martinez Jackson did not make the All Star team in 1976, as a member of the Orioles.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

An Open Letter To Terry Francona

Dear Tito,

In my 35 years as a Red Sox fan, I've seen many great players, as well as complete stiffs come through America's Most Beloved Ballpark. There are players who've surprised me by being big game performers - guys like Dave Henderson, Marty Barrett, and Todd Walker. There've also been players who choke when the pressure is on, see Schiraldi, Calvin and Clemens, Roger.

Through my countless viewing experiences of Red Sox baseball, I've developed a keen eye for talent and can tell you with utmost certainty that Manny Delcarmen is on the Schiraldi/Clemens end of the spectrum. He's got a $5 million arm and a $0.02 head. Manny can play a valuable part in a bullpen, by eating innings in blow outs or when the Red Sox are behind. However, he cannot hold a lead, has never been able to hold a lead, and after 5 years and 212 regular season appearances, he will never be more than he is - a Kyle Farnsworth type.

Please, for heaven's sake, stop pitching Manny in close games. I don't understand why you continue to use him in a role in which he is not suited? Particularly, when there are other pitchers out there in the pen (Saito, Bard, and Okajima) who can pitch in close games and get valuable outs.

I am not one of those fans who constantly criticize the manager of the local nine. You are the best. Red Sox manager. Ever. Unlike Jimy Williams and John McNamara, I rarely find much to criticize about your managerial strategies. However, you're one weakness is you are too patient with some players. Delcarmen is one of them.

After the All Star break, the trading deadline is 2.5 weeks away and teams will be in high gear trying to plug holes in their rosters. During that timeframe, only pitch Delcarmen in non pressure situations, so he has some good performances, and then Theo can drum up some interest in Manny and deal him.

I don't care that he is a local yokel, I don't get caught up in that nonsense. What I see is a pitcher who will be a major liability come October and I want him off our roster by then. Please manage him accordingly.

Best Regards,
Kevin Flynn

Friday, July 10, 2009

Bad Policy

On Wednesday the GAO gave a report about the effects of the much touted $787 billion Obama Stimulus Bill, and to no surprise among skeptics, it was found that the stimulus package isn't working as planned. Ugh. Despite the Obama Administration's promise of millions of new jobs and getting economic recovery on track, unemployment has climbed to 9.5% and the economy seems to be stalling.

Considering the Stimulus Bill was larded with various pork projects by Congressmen and Senators who wanted to "bring home the bacon", the idea that this stimulus package would fix the economy was ludicrious. No Republican House member voted for the stimulus. House Minority Leader John Boener and his embattled band of Republican House members certainly now have a feather in their cap to brag about on the cable news networks and in the 2010 elections.

The most appalling use of the stimulus bill is there are states that are using stimulus money not for "shovel ready projects", but to plug gaping budget holes. Great. Super. The spendthrift legislators and governors at the state level are reform adverse who don't like to make tough decisions, but instead plug their own budget holes where they can and pass on the pain to the local town governments.

Now there are rumblings amongst Democrats on Capitol Hill that a second stimulus bill is needed. Really? Famed billionaire investor Warren Buffett was quoted as saying a second one is likely needed, as well. You don't think ol' Warren would somehow benefit from a stimulus bill, do you? Anytime the media breathlessly publishes Warren Buffett quotes on finance and the economy, I raise an eyebrow because I doubt he speaks out on anything, unless there's a way he'll benefit from it.

The last thing the federal government needs to do is spend more taxpayer money. However, with Democrats firmly in charge of all three branches of government, money will continue to be spent, and billions will continue to be wasted. President Obama has a vision of universal health care and a potentially economy damaging climate control bill in his sights and trillions of dollars will be required to to meet that vision.

If the Obama Administration had pushed a policy of a four month income tax holiday and capital gains tax cuts as advocated in this space in March, it would've been less expensive and far more effective than the massive waste of "stimulus" and payback to union supporters of the Obama Administration. At what point will the liberal Democrats realize the massive debt and budget deficits they are racking up are extremely harmful to the long term financial well being of America? Here's hoping that Republicans can continue to put up a worthwhile defense, offer alternative policies, and convince the American voters that the Democrats' ideas are too expensive and risky to our country.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Lazy Sunday

Some July 4th leftovers...

Finally, the Northeast is getting some good summer weather with the temperature in the mid to high 70's. The clouds broke on Friday, and it's been brilliant sunshine ever since. Tomorrow, will be another beautiful high 70's day.

I'm not sure what to make of Sarah Palin's decision to resign as Governor of Alaska. On the one hand, she'll get some peace in that the media coverage of her will wear off. However, if she has presidential ambitions for 2012, being out of the spotlight won't help her campaign. The media coverage of Palin the last ten months has been mostly meanspirited by the liberal networks who have no tolerance for a strong willed, independent thinking woman who doesn't toe the NOW line of abortion on demand.

Six Red Sox made the American League All Star team, with special notice going to 42 year old Tim Wakefield, who made it for the first time. When I was a youngster, the All Star game was always special and it was particularly exciting when Dennis Eckersley started the All Star game as a Red Sox in 1982. However, now that I am older and wiser, I'd prefer that the Red Sox players being at home, recharging their batteries, and having a much deserved three day break from baseball.

As a Celtics fan, I could take or leave Rasheed Wallace. He has skills, but he's a dog. I've seen several games where Rasheed has played with seeming indifference out on the court. On the plus side he's an excellent outside shooter and when he's emotionally invested, a solid defensive presence in the paint.