Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Noting radio and television's importance as a propaganda front, Communist China bans ads on all tv dramas of longer than 45 min. beginning Jan. 1

""Radio and television are a mouthpiece of the party and the people - an important propaganda front in cultural thought," read the SARFT statement.... "China has ordered a ban on advertisements during TV dramas as part of its reform of cultural activities.

Adverts will not be allowed in the middle of programmes lasting for 45 minutes from 1 January next year.

The authorities said this was in line with the "spirit" of a recent Communist Party meeting.

Senior leaders said then that they wanted to develop a "socialist culture", although they did not elaborate on exactly what that means.

TV stations are clear about what this latest move means for them though -

  • they say it will result in a loss of revenue.

The latest announcement was made by China's State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) on its website.

It said the regulation was being introduced as part of a new attitude towards culture, outlined at the party's Central Committee meeting in October.

"Radio and television are a mouthpiece of the party and the people - an important propaganda front in cultural thought," read the SARFT statement....

An organisation spokesman told Xinhua, the state-run news agency, that the aim was to make TV shows conform to "public interests and aspirations".

"In the long-run, the move will help TV dramas develop in a scientific and healthy manner," said the unidentified spokesman....

At the recent Central Committee meeting, China's senior leaders appeared to indicate they wanted to keep an even closer eye on broadcasters....

"The government could really take our lives if it bans all commercial breaks during the most-watched TV series," one unidentified executive with a mainland TV station is reported to have said.

A spokeswoman for Hunan Satellite TV said this new regulation came after most advertising deals for next year had already been signed.

"TV stations bosses around the country will be having many sleepless nights," she said.

China's TV advertising industry was worth nearly 500bn ($78bn, £50bn) yuan last year."...

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Monday, November 28, 2011

Pie charts vs bar charts explaining 2011 MLB attendance

"The other day I encountered a tweet with a common theme: “Worst Pie Chart Ever.”

Tweet About MLB Attendance Pie Chart

So I had to follow the link. It was an article in Atlantic Cities, 2011 Major League Baseball Regular Season: Attendance by Team, which stated that combined attendance at all Major League Baseball (MBL) games was fifth highest in history. The article was accompanied by a chart, not showing a time series of attendance by year, which you might expect after seeing the “fifth highest in history” statement. Instead, the chart compared the attendance of the MLB teams. And it compared the teams using an unexpected approach.

Pie Charts

Here’s the MLB attendance chart. It’s not the worst pie chart ever, but it has substantial deficiencies.

The choice of chart type was strange. When you think about a team’s attendance, you think of total numbers. Showing the teams together as a portion of the league total is unusual, and the actual numbers are obscured.

Comparison of the sizes of the wedges is not easy, especially with so many data points, but at least the data is sorted.

A big problem with this chart is identification of the data points. As the tweet indicated, the randomly assigned colors did not make use of team colors to aid in identification of the slices. There is no legend, but a legend is a poor way to label a chart, because you have to drag your eyes back and forth between chart and legend. In any case there are repeated colors, which would reduce the legend’s effectiveness.

This chart addresses the labeling problem by popping up a single label as the mouse passes over each pie slice. Unfortunately you have to wander around the pie to find your favorite team, then wander around again to see how other teams compared, then try to remember what you found before. This cognitive load overpowers the ability to interpret the data.

Since the screen capture didn’t capture the cursor, you don’t even know from this image which slice corresponds to the label. It’s the key lime pie slice in the lower right of the pie (it was black in the first view above).

Interactivity is a nice way to let a user find additional information that would otherwise clutter a graphic. However, forcing a user to interact with a chart simply to extract necessary information is a waste of the user’s energy and a waste of interactive effects....

Bar Charts

A bar chart lines up all the names in a neat list, and encodes attendance by the length of bars along a horizontal scale. Now without mousing around the pie, I can easily see how the teams rank. I can see that Philly had around 3.7 million attendees and Boston had just over 3 million.

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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Joba Chamberlain on Oneida Indian Nation float in Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City

Above Joba Chamberlain on Oneida Indian Nation float in Thanksgiving Day Parade, NYC, Nov. 24, 2011, photo aceshowbiz Above Joba Chamberlain at top of Oneida Indian Nation float in Thanksgiving Day Parade, Thurs., Nov. 24, 2011, photo tumblr

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Former congressman Anthony Weiner out shopping in Mets cap

11/26/11, "Anthony Weiner does Black Friday shopping with 'X-rated' moustache,'" NY Post, photo NY Post

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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Former MLB pitcher Bob Scanlan to join San Diego Padres radio booth

Former player Bob Scanlan will be joining Ted Leitner, Andy Masur and Jerry Coleman in the Padres radio booth. "A station from across the US border in Mexico has been the home of Major League Baseball’s San Diego Padres franchise, and it will retain the broadcast rights to the team for the 2012 season. The station is owed by Broadcast Corporation of the Americas. XEPRS-AM 1090 brings 50 kW of power to the task of getting play-by-play baseball action to fans of the National League team. “We enjoyed our proud eight year association with the San Diego Padres and look forward to bringing our loyal fans and long-time listeners a renewed commitment to our outstanding coverage of spring training and the regular season for 2012,” said XX 1090’s VP/GM Tex Meyer. According to the North County Times, a former player will be added to the broadcast team to add perspective to the broadcasters. Bob Scanlan will be joining Ted Leitner, Andy Masur and Jerry Coleman in the booth."

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5 losers in new MLB-player deal include a colorful Twitter personality and some All Stars, per Ken Davidoff

11/22/11, "LOSERS

1 Ambitious underachievers. The most disappointing component of the deal, undoubtedly, is the restrictions on amateur draft and international spending. Why dissuade teams from trying to get better? Why, for that matter, provide any incentive for two-sport athletes to turn elsewhere? It makes no sense.

2 Cheating morons. Like most drug-testing programs, the HGH blood test will serve as much as an IQ test as anything else. There's no in-season testing, so a player could theoretically go through spring training clean before resuming injections. Of course, the efficacy of HGH altogether is up for debate, but this provision was done clearly for public-relations reasons.

3 The Astros. One hundred six losses in the National League equals how many in the American League? 149? Good grief. At least they'll get nine home games annually with the Rangers and yearly visits from the Yankees and Red Sox.

4 Mariano Rivera. Participation in the All-Star Game will be required unless the player is injured or excused personally by the commissioner. Rivera, no fan of the Midsummer Classic, might have to travel to Kansas City next July.

5 Logan Morrison. The Marlins' outfielder, baseball's most enthusiastic and colorful Twitter personality, will be "subject to a policy governing the use of social media," along with the rest of his playing brethren.

  • --------------------------


1 Big-market clubs. The Yankees will continue to grumble about the game's socialistic setup, but they have to feel pretty good about the details here. The luxury-tax threshold will increase from $178 million to $189 million starting in 2014, which will mitigate the 50-percent tax on teams that exceed the threshold for the fourth time --

  • a group that includes the Yankees and no one else.

Furthermore, the new draft-compensation system should help rich teams. A year from now, the Yankees would be more likely to offer a one-year deal for about $12.5 million to free-agent Nick Swisher -- and take on the risk that he'll accept it -- than would a small-market team.

2 Good and very good players. They'll no longer have their free-agent markets suppressed by the attachment of draft compensation. Only the elite players -- think Prince Fielder, Albert Pujols, Jose Reyes and C.J. Wilson from this year's class -- will be subject to draft compensation, and those are the types of players for whom teams don't mind surrendering draft picks.

3 Instant-replay enthusiasts. Once the umpires sign off on it, and they will, we'll have replay for fair/foul calls and trap plays. Next up: Safe/out calls.

4 True small-market teams. Starting in 2016, revenue-sharing will be limited to the clubs in the 15 smallest markets, as per a list already determined by players and owners. Big-market freeloaders such as the Washington Nationals will be on their own.

In addition, small-market clubs will be eligible for additional draft picks following the first and second rounds, and those picks can be traded.

5 Players with two years' service time. The class of "Super Twos," those between two and three years service who are eligible for the lucrative arbitration process, increased from the top 17 percent of the class to the top 22 percent."

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Friday, November 25, 2011

Nick Swisher and wife Joanna Garcia visit troops in Afghanistan over Thanksgiving

  • Above man blindfolded before being stoned to death in Afghanistan, Aug. 2010, liveleak. Video below.
Video emerged of public stonings to death in Afghanistan from August 2010. Onlookers yelled Allah Akbar! as they threw huge stones at a burka covered woman drenched in blood. A Pew Poll shows increasing enthusiasm for stoning among Islamic populations. "In the video a Taliban leader explains to a crowd of roughly 200 people last August that a couple deserves to die because they were committed to other people when they eloped together.

Dozens of men then throw rocks at the woman, who stands in a four foot hole, while yelling “Allah akbar.” But despite being clobbered for two minutes by countless large stones that left her burqa soaked in blood, the woman, identified as Siddqa, survives the stoning and is eventually shot by a spectator with an AK-47.

The man, Khayyam, is then brought out, blindfolded and subjected to an even more ferocious attack with even larger stones as he lies face down on the floor....

"Hundreds of people attended the stoning but no-one was charged."...

  • -------------------

In a 2010 BBC report Karzai said stoning should be done through proper channels:

"A spokesman for Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Waheed Omar, said if the incident (stoning to death) was confirmed it would be condemned in the strongest terms by the government.

This month (Aug. 2010) the Taliban also reportedly flogged and killed a pregnant widow in western Baghdis province."...

7/8/10, "Where is stoning legal, and how is it done?" MSNBC and news service reports

  • Stoning is part of sharia law in many places.
"It still exists on the law books in Afghanistan, Iran, sections of Nigeria, Pakistan, Sudan, and the United Arab Emirates. Ayatollah Shahroudi, the head of Iran’s judiciary, ...in 2002 said stoning should no longer exist in Iranian law. Despite Shahroudi’s stance, stoning continues to remain on the law books in Iran and ---------------------------

"Cash from part of a $2.16 billion U.S. transportation contract in Afghanistan has ended up in the hands of Taliban insurgents, the Pentagon said on Monday.

The disclosure is another example of the persistent difficulty the U.S. military has in keeping its massive war funding from reaching the insurgents it is fighting in the unpopular, decade-old Afghan war.

The United States is spending more than $6 billion a month in the conflict."...

  • -----------------
"A major investigation into an influential Afghan governor accused of taking bribes has been shut down and its top prosecutor transferred to a unit that doesn't handle corruption cases, Afghan and U.S. officials said. The closing of the investigation into the former governor of Kapisa province, Ghulam Qawis Abu Bakr, comes on the heels of a grim, unpublicized assessment by U.S. officials that no substantive corruption prosecutions were taking place in Afghanistan."...
  • ---------------------
"In early 2010, I was asked to make a presentation to a counter-narcotics symposium at the Marshall Center in Germany. In attendance were several hundred high-ranking military and law enforcement officers from around the world. I dutifully explained the opium economy in Afghanistan, which I've had a chance to observe during nearly a decade living and working in Kandahar. But I could not resist inserting two slides at the end of the talk. They depicted the phenomenon that really interests me: the increasingly structured capture of the Afghan government by what amounts to a set of interlocking, vertically integrated criminal networks. I have watched the phenomenon evolve over the last 10 years. At first, there was a furtive testing of the limits, as Kalashnikov-toting ruffians shook down travelers for "sweets" (as extorted bribes are prudishly called). Over time, the corruption expanded and evolved, and today, Afghanistan is controlled by a structured, mafiaesque system, in which money flows upward via purchase of office, kickbacks or "sweets" in return for permission to extract resources (of which more varieties exist in impoverished Afghanistan than one might think) and protection in case of legal or international scrutiny. Those foolish enough to raise objections are punished. The result is a system that selects for criminality, excluding
  • and marginalizing the very men and women of probity
  • most needed to build a sustainable state.

When I finished my presentation, to my astonishment, the participants rose in a standing ovation. Many came down to the front of the room to talk further. "You just described my country," they chorused. I was stunned. For so long had my nose been buried in Afghanistan and its peculiarities that I had not realized I was experiencing just a sliver of a global phenomenon. As I spoke to these symposium participants (who came from Nigeria, the former Soviet republics, Pakistan and elsewhere), I couldn't help but notice a correlation between mafia government and the existence of violent religious extremism. And I realized that the phenomenon of public corruption often pooh-poohed or viewed as a part of the ambient "culture" of South Asians, or Muslims or whomever —

  • poses a substantial threat to international security.
Then my musings led me further afield, to consider political philosophy. Was mafia government, I began to wonder, also posing a threat to the entire phase of political history in which we live?"...
  • ---------------------
"A group of armed men have stoned and shot dead a woman and her daughter in Afghanistan's Ghazni province, security officials have told the BBC.

The officials blamed the Taliban, who they said had accused the women of "moral deviation and adultery"."...

  • -------------------

(The US and $6 billion a month US taxpayer money should obviously be out of Afghanistan tomorrow, should never have gone there to begin with. Those who live there like it the way it is.) ed.

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Backslappers at MLB news conference and all with a straight face too-Kovacevic

'Delusional and deceitful' reactions of backslappers at MLB news conference about new agreement. "There was an awful lot of backslapping going on Tuesday at Major League Baseball's news conference in Manhattan over a new five-year collective bargaining agreement. I'll have to presume Yankee Stadium was booked.

Twenty-one years of labor peace, the suits crowed.

"A really proud day," commissioner Bud Selig called it.

"A good day for baseball," union chief Mike Weiner followed. "It's an agreement that will benefit larger-market clubs, smaller-market clubs and all clubs in between."

They kept straight faces, too.

Which makes their reactions delusional, deceitful and all fallacies in between.

There are some good initiatives: The HGH testing will be a first. Minimum wage goes up by $66,000. No more easy-shattering maple bats.

Closing the economic chasm between haves and have-nots in the only North American professional sport still without a salary cap?...

The defining component of this agreement is a new "luxury tax" to be applied to teams that spend too much on the amateur draft. Any team exceeding the slot recommendation for a pick must pay a tax. Any team that exceeds its allotted draft total, set by inverse order of the previous year's standings, must pay a 100 percent tax.

So, if the Pirates were to spend $17 million in 2012, as they did this June, and their ceiling were set at $9 million,

  • they'd actually have to pay $25 million.

You know, for the "luxury."

No team spent more over the past four drafts than the Pirates' $48 million. That included franchise-record bonuses for Pedro Alvarez ($6.35 million), Jameson Taillon ($6.5 million) and Gerrit Cole ($8 million). They went after elite talent in the most realistic but also most aggressive manner....

Turns out that approach upset the Yankees, Boston Red Sox and other big spenders accustomed to getting the talent they seek at every turn. In particular, the Red Sox were vocal sore losers in June after allowing college-bound outfielder Josh Bell to fall to the second round, only to see the Pirates shrewdly take Bell, offer him a whopping $5 million to forgo college, then sign him.

Funny, but I don't remember anyone crying foul about the Red Sox signing first baseman Adrian Gonzalez to a seven-year, $154 million contract last year while the Pirates ponied up for Lyle Overbay.

Here's how it works in the myopic world of baseball: The Yankees' massive local TV and stadium revenues and $200 million payroll mesmerize MLB and the union. Even the agents are that way, all of them dreaming of getting their clients to the Bronx someday....

This pact makes no change to revenue sharing and only a nominal adjustment to a luxury tax that doesn't trickle down to the Pirates, anyway. It goes into a general development pool."...

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Valentine's Day in Boston

Above Bobby Valentine chats with media in Boston, Nov. 21, 2011, ap Boston Red Sox GM Ben Cherington chats with media after interviewing Bobby Valentine, Nov. 21, 2011, ap

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Asked what's your 2nd best sport, Rivera answers, 'baseball, I always thought soccer was my main sport'

11/22/11, "Rivera was in town on Monday evening to speak at the Ridgefield Friends of Best Buddies fundraising event....
The highlight of the evening was the light-hearted question-and-answer period between Rivera and the kids in the audience.

...Here are a few of the questions and Rivera's responses:

What is your second-best sport?

"Baseball," Rivera said with a laugh. "My best? Soccer. I always thought soccer was my main sport, and baseball came second.""

11/22/11, "Yankees' Rivera a big hit at Ridgefield charity event," NewsTimes.com, Richard Gregory, photos GreenwichTime.com

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Saturday, November 19, 2011

Leftovers from 2011 GM meetings-Ken Davidoff

11/19/11, "Enjoy some leftovers from the GM meetings," Ken Davidoff, Newsday

The Yankees like C.J. Wilson all right, but they were annoyed to have to deal with a silly "he said/he said" situation when Wilson's agent, Bob Garber, said the Yankees invited Wilson to visit them in the Bronx. In truth, Garber asked if he and Wilson could come to New York, and the Yankees wouldn't even commit to that.

  • You know what the tell was?

Garber said Hal Steinbrenner would attend the meeting with Wilson. Steinbrenner has done a fine job succeeding his father as the Yankees' boss, but the next free-agent recruitment in which he participates will be his first.

  • DeJesus to Yanks unlikely

In my free-agent rankings and predictions three weeks ago, I rolled the dice and pegged the Yankees to sign outfielder David DeJesus. Right now, that isn't happening, as the team is focused on pitching.

Tampa Bay might bring back Johnny Damon, 38, who put up a .326 on-base percentage and .418 slugging percentage in 647 plate appearances for the 2011 Rays. Damon also scored major points by offering his veteran leadership to Tampa Bay's many young players.

  • Astros will do fewer flying

One reason why Houston agreed to switch to the American League West: A study of the Astros' travel indicated that the team actually would travel fewer miles as an AL West club than as an NL Central entity. NL Central stops Pittsburgh and Cincinnati hardly were close; in the AL, Houston will visit the nearby Rangers for three trips per season."

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Ken Davidoff 2011 NL Cy Young ballot, Halladay #1

11/17/11, "Clayton Kershaw is your National League Cy Young Award winner. Congratulations to him. I wish I had time to write an obnoxiously long breakdown of my ballot, but it's a travel day for me. So here is my ballot, followed by some general thoughts:
  • 1. Roy Halladay, Philadelphia
  • 2. Cliff Lee, Philadelphia
  • 3. Kershaw
  • 4. Cole Hamels, Philadelphia
  • 5. Ian Kennedy, Arizona
  • OK, now here come some general thoughts:
1. As I type this, I have no idea how many wins each pitcher recorded, although I know that Kershaw won the old-fashioned "Pitching triple crown." So wins are inconsequential for the purpose of my ballot. Pitcher wins are inconsequential in life, if you think about it. Both Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs have him first in Wins Above Replacement. Because his 6.29 strikeouts-to-walks ratio led the National League. Why Lee second? Because he was pretty close to Kershaw in every major category, and then I looked at their respective splits. It's hard to ignore that Kershaw feasted on the carcass of the Giants, the NL's worst offensive team of 2011. Kershaw pitched 42 innings over six starts against the Giants; that's 18 percent of his workload. He threw another 25 1/3 innings, over three starts, against the awful Padres, second-worst in the NL. He tallied a 1.07 ERA against San Francisco and 1.78 against San Diego. On one hand, Kershaw's schedule isn't his fault; he didn't create the NL West to be a pitcher's paradise. On the other hand, I don't think we should view these numbers in a vacuum. The more context, the better.

Any other questions/concerns, I'm happy to answer them....

And now I'm leaving. Thanks for reading this week. Tune in tomorrow morning for the first Comment Winter Olympics of the season."

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Return of artificial turf considered in UK but say sadly might end tradition of fans scattering their ashes on fields

Former Blackburn manager Mark Hughes is supportive of artificial pitches being reintroduced to the English game.

Football League sides Accrington and Wycombe are keen to install them in a bid to cut costs and increase revenue....

The Football Supporters' Federation, while not against artificial pitches, believe fans and players should be consulted before any decision is made....

"Sadly it might end the tradition of fans having their ashes scattered on the pitch - we can't see many people

  • choosing to scatter their ashes on the hallowed plastic." photo BBC
  • ----------------------

11/18/11, "Could artificial pitches be set for a return to Football League?" BBC Sport, Paul Fletcher

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

MLB Venezuela consultant Rengifo says 8 of 10 kidnappings involve corrupt police

11/16/11, "He (Rengifo) so impressed MLB that it hired him, first as a consultant and now as the full-time head of a unit in Venezuela that includes eight part-time investigators." 5/30/11, "I would say that in Caracas eight out of every ten kidnappings have some level of police involvement," said Joel Rengifo, a former head of the investigative police's anti-kidnapping division who now works as a private consultant.
  • Mr Rengifo has more work than he can handle, advising individuals and companies on how to minimise the risk of kidnapping....

Officially there were 895 kidnappings in Venezuela last year. However, a government survey, suppressed by president Hugo Chavez, suggests that the real figure may be closer to 17,000 - 48 abductions every day -

  • with policemen among the principal kidnappers....

A survey carried out by the National Institute of Statistics estimated that 16,917 kidnappings were carried out over a 12-month period between 2008 and 2009. The document, which The Scotsman has obtained a copy of, was never published after the government saw the level of crime and violence it revealed...."You can be sure that right now, a few blocks from here, kidnapping gangs are scoping out potential victims," said Mr Rengifo, pointing out of the window of the caf in Caracas' fashionable Las Mercedes district. "They will be looking at the cars people drive, the clothes they wear, the houses they live in.""...

Big Bad Bud Selig hiring an investigator isn't going to stop Venezuelan culture. Players should know what they're up against. ed.

  • ---------------------
11/16/11, Wash. Post: "During the Urbina case (in 2005), Joel Rengifo Añez, the former head of the Venezuelan police force dedicated to dealing with kidnappings, worked closely with MLB. While working for the government, his reputation earned him the nickname, “The Legend.” He so impressed MLB that it hired him, first as a consultant and now as the full-time head of a unit in Venezuela that includes eight part-time investigators.

When Ramos was taken last week, Rengifio was the first person called by the league’s Department of Investigations. MLB officials believe Rengifo’s precision and numerous contacts led to rapid breakthroughs in the case that helped ensure Ramos’s ultimate safety."...

11/17/11, Wash. Times: "In 2009, kidnappers abducted and killed the cousin of Victor Zambrano, a former major league pitcher, before kidnapping his mother." (5th parag.) (I hadn't seen Zambrano's case mentioned in other MLB/Venezuela related reports. ed.)

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Only 5 MLB teams still have academies in Venezuela. Updated to include Victor Zambrano family kidnaps and killing

UPDATE: "In 2009, kidnappers abducted and killed the cousin of Victor Zambrano, a former major league pitcher, before kidnapping his mother." (5th parag.) (I hadn't seen Zambrano's case mentioned in other MLB/Venezuela related reports. ed.) 11/16/11, "Even before the Ramos abduction, however, some U.S. teams had begun to reduce their Venezuelan presence. A handful of teams have abandoned baseball academies there in recent years; only five teams now have one.
  • “We have not prohibited players from going down there, but we make them aware of what’s taken place,” Detroit Tigers General Manager Dave Dombrowski said. “It was a concern before, and it’s a concern now.”" (end of p.2)
11/16/11, "Venezuela baseball attracts MLB players despite Wilson Ramos kidnapping," Washington Post, Adam Kilgore, Juan Forero

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Yankee Stadium subway stop scheduled to be 'Occupied' Thursday, Nov. 17, disinfectant, updated innoculations optional. Yankee radio no problem

UPDATE #2, 11/20/11, Yankee radio flagship WCBS still gushing over defecators, urinators, rapists, and others with free time at Occupy Wall St. In 4pm local news their guy reported from in front of Mayor Bloomberg's mansion where 'protesters' were gathered. WCBS ecstatic, says protesters objected to Bloomberg invading their space downtown so now they're invading his! Apparently no one home at Bloomberg residence but crowd of a couple hundred is making a lot of noise and playing drums. Wow! That's so cool for all the innocent people in the neighborhood!
  • -----------------
UPDATE, 11/17/11, Yankee radio flagship WCBS at 8:07pm Thursday night was positively giddy describing Occupy protesters at various points around the city such as crossing the Brooklyn Bridge, how amazing their numbers were, what great signs they carried, how excited they all seemed. The Yankee subway stop wasn't mentioned in the segment I heard. Veteran WCBS radio reporters were just thrilled about the Occupy movement. ed.
  • -------------------
11/16/11, "Here is their (Occupy) schedule and insurgency against business and the law abiding public:
  • New York City
  • BREAKFAST: Shut Down Wall Street - 7:00 a.m.
Enough of this economy that exploits and divides us. It's time we put an end to Wall Street's reign of terror and begin building an economy that works for all. We will gather in Liberty Square at 7:00 a.m., before the ring of the Trading Floor Bell, to prepare to confront Wall Street with the stories of people on the frontlines of economic injustice. There, before the Stock Exchange, we will exchange stories rather than stocks. We will start by Occupying Our Blocks! Then throughout the five boroughs, we will gather at 16 central subway hubs and take our own stories to the trains, using the "People's Mic".
  • Fordham Rd
  • 3rd Ave, 138th Street
  • 163rd and Southern Blvd
  • 161st and River - Yankee Stadium
  • Brooklyn
  • Broadway Junction
  • Borough Hall
  • 301 Grove Street
  • St Jose Patron Church,
  • 185 Suydam St, Bushwick
  • Queens
  • Jackson Heights/Roosevelt Ave.
  • Jamaica Center/Parsons/Archer
  • 92-10 Roosevelt Avenue, Jackson Heights
  • 125th St. A,B,C,D
  • Union Sq. (Mass student strike)
  • 23rd St and 8th Ave
  • Staten Island
  • St. George, Staten Island Ferry Terminal
  • 479 Port Richmond Avenue, Port Richmond
  • DINNER: Take The Square - 5:00 p.m.
At 5 pm, tens of thousands of people will gather at Foley Square (just across from City Hall) in solidarity with laborers demanding jobs"

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Ron Washington pre-game clubhouse speech before World Series game 6 was leaked by Rangers staff member and went viral

Disciplinary action was handled in house according to GM Jon Daniels. "Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington, speaking for the first time since a gut-wrenching World Series loss, divulged Wednesday that closer Neftali Feliz was in no condition mentally to return for the 10th inning of Game 6.

With the Rangers just one strike away from winning the world championship against the St. Louis Cardinals, Feliz gave up two runs in the ninth inning of Game 6 to force extra innings.

"We'll just say that he was really upset and his state of mind at the time wasn't where we felt like he could go out there and get it done," Washington told the Ben and Skin Show on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM. "And the lineup set up perfectly for Darren Oliver, and he didn't get it done.

"So it wasn't like we didn't get it done because Neftali didn't go back out there. I still feel like that lineup set up perfectly for who we put out there and the job just didn't get done. The end result is we just didn't get it done."

After taking a two-run lead in the 10th inning, the Rangers again were just one strike from winning the World Series. Instead, the Cardinals tied it again off Oliver before eventually winning the game in the 11th to force a deciding Game 7.

Before the deciding game, Washington gave an expletive-laced, spine-tingling pre-game clubhouse speech to the Rangers,

  • which has since been leaked by a team staff member and gone viral.

The club investigated the incident and handled disciplinary action in-house, general manager Jon Daniels said.

"I got phone calls from friends that heard it on the Internet and they were excited," Washington said Tuesday. "[The players] were ready to go out on the field and play some baseball. That was the real purpose of it.

"But it was us. It was the Texas Rangers in there talking and trying to get fired up and understand what was at stake. We went out there and jumped on them [the Cardinals] right away. We just couldn't hold them down. As it turned out the St. Louis Cardinals are truly the world champions.""

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Former Penn State football grad assistant calls WFAN's Mike Francesa

11/15/11, "Ex-PSU Grad Assistant Matt Paknis On WFAN: Paterno Knows Everything," Matt Paknis with Mike Francesa "A former child-abuse victim himself, former football grad assistant Matt Paknis believes Joe Paterno knew about Jerry Sandusky’s alleged sexual abuse against children years ago.

Pankins joined WFAN’s Mike Francesa on Tuesday to talk about his time at Penn State.

LISTEN: Matt Paknis with Mike Francesa

Pankins was a graduate assistant on the Nittany Lions football staff in 1987 and 1988. He says Sandusky exhibited questionable behavior towards the players back then.

As a childhood victim of sexual abuse, he said he remembered thinking how inappropriate it was when he saw Sandusky tickle and pinch little boys during football camps,

  • sometimes putting them in headlocks.

I thought it was a boundary issue, more than anything else,” Pankins said.

Pankins described Paterno’s rule over the Penn State campus as absolute. “I think he had more power in the state of Pennsylvania than anybody.”

When asked about the possibility that Paterno could not be aware of reports on Sandusky’s behavior Pankins said it was “impossible.”

Joe knows everything,” he said.

Pankins also said that he could envision a scenario where Paterno attempted to cover up Sandusky’s actions."

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2011 AL Cy Young ballot of Detroit News' Tom Gage

11/15/11, "The News' Tom Gage had one of the 28 votes for the Cy Young.

Here's what his ballot looked like:

1. Justin Verlander, SP, Tigers — Slam dunk.

2. Jose Valverde, RP, Tigers — Wasn't afraid to put another Tiger second. In the American League, his 49-for-49 in saves was the second-best pitching accomplishment of the season.

3. Jered Weaver, SP, Angels — Excellent most of the way, but won only four games the last two months.

4. CC Sabathia, SP, Yankees — Just a tick down from Weaver.

5. Mariano Rivera, RP, Yankees — Toughest call, but had to go with 44 saves and a 1.91 ERA."

11/15/11, "Tom Gage's AL Cy Young Award ballot," Detroit News

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Papelbon in Phillies cap

Above Jonathan Papelbon views his new Phillies cap as he steps onto the stage, 11/14/11, getty

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Monday, November 14, 2011

Twins rookie robbed at gunpoint in Venezuela in October, played on Wilson Ramos winter team, now back in US. Updated to include family of V. Zambrano

UPDATE: "In 2009, kidnappers abducted and killed the cousin of Victor Zambrano, a former major league pitcher, before kidnapping his mother." (5th parag.) (I hadn't seen Zambrano's case mentioned in other MLB/Venezuela related reports. ed.) The one where a boulder blocks the tunnel so the cab driver has to get out and move the boulder and gunmen appear. "Violence surrounding professional ballplayers in Venezuela is frighteningly common. Friday, Washington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos was freed after being held for 50 hours by kidnappers.

A day earlier, a local face was put on the issue, via a story in the St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press.

Joliet Catholic grad Joe Benson, according to the Press, was robbed at gunpoint in October while en route from the airport to the offices of Tigres de Aragua, his winter team.

Benson, who made his major league debut for the Twins in September, was in a cab. The cab entered a tunnel, which was blocked at the opposite end by a large boulder in the road. As the driver got out to push it aside, gunmen converged on the cab. Benson was robbed of his cash, credit cards and belongings.

The ballclub made good in getting him some clothing,” Jim Rantz, the Twins’ farm director, told the Press. “He stayed there and played right away. After a couple of games he came home to regroup.”

Eventually, Benson returned to Venezuela, where he was a teammate of Ramos. He played enough to total 51 at-bats before he was sent back to the United States for good. He hit .216 and played in 17 games.

Reportedly, he is likely to begin 2012 in Triple A."


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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Marlins Loria wining and dining Jose Reyes all for show-Bill Madden

11/12/11, Bill Madden, "In the week leading up to the GM/owners meetings, Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria put on quite a show, wining and dining Jose Reyes in South Beach, making very public overtures to Albert Pujols and Mark Buehrle and reportedly leading a contingent to the Dominican Republic to personally scout Cuban defector Yoenis Cespedes, who is acclaimed to be a five-tool center fielder. But according to most baseball insiders, that’s all it was — show. Even with the expected huge bump in revenue from their new stadium in Miami’s Little Havana section, baseball officials are skeptical that Loria has the money to be a big player in the free-agent market. If he is able to sign Reyes, it will be mean having to move Hanley Ramirez, who last week made it fairly clear he has no intention of moving off shortstop, and who is owed another $46 million through 2014. There is no way Loria could afford the minimum eight years/$200 million Pujols is going to get, while those close to Buehrle, a St. Charles, Mo., native, believe his desire is to finish his career with a team in the Midwest. As for Cespedes, the word around the industry is that his agent Adam Katz, is looking for a record signing package
  • between $30 million-$40 million, which is too rich for even the Yankees....
As for Crane and the Astros, the last remaining sticking point in his takeover as owner from Drayton McLane was the “discount” he’d demanded on the original sale price of $680 million to compensate for his agreeing to allow MLB to move them from the NL Central to the AL West in 2013. Sources told the Daily News that “approximately $50 million” was lopped off the sale price. What remained in question was who was going to foot that bill, McLane, MLB or both. If MLB is to pay anything, Selig will no doubt face strong objections from the other owners at having to help finance the sale of the Astros and further enrich McLane, who
  • bought the team from John McMullen in 1992 for $117 million.
The returns of Ryan and Duquette to the GM ranks last week were both surprising, but for different reasons. The Twins, who never fire anyone, apparently decided somebody had to be held accountable for only their second losing season since 2000 — which also happened to coincide with a record $112 million payroll — and chose Bill Smith. Team owner Jim Pohlad was said to be especially distressed at the inordinate number of injuries and lengthy stays on the disabled list by so many of the Twins’ key players last season. But while it’s tough to blame that on Smith, his trading record — in which he came up on the short end in almost all his deals, most notably Johan Santana to the Mets, shortstop J.J. Hardy to the Orioles, catcher Wilson Ramos to the Nationals, outfielder Delmon Young to the Tigers, ultimately cost him. There was also considerable dismay on Pohlad’s part over the three-year $10 million deal Smith doled out to Japanese free agent infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka, one of the bigger busts of 2011. Ryan, one of the most respected and accomplished GMs in the game until his self-imposed step-down in 2007, has a yeoman task ahead of him in restoring the Twins to their accustomed contending status in the AL Central. For one thing, outfielders Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel and closers Joe Nathan and Matt Capps are all free agents. Cuddyer, especially, is going to be difficult to re-sign as he’s attracting considerable interest. For another, catcher Joe Mauer, signed to a $184 million contract through 2018, has struggled mightily with leg problems while first baseman Justin Morneau, their second-highest-paid player, has battled concussion syndrome for two seasons now. Ryan’s first move — signing veteran shortstop Jamey Carroll, who hit .290 and had an OBP of .385 in 146 games for the Dodgers last season — will surely be welcomed by manager Ron Gardenhire, who lamented the deterioration of defense and fundamentals by the Twins last year.... Meanwhile, Duquette, who’d been out of baseball since 2002 when the Red Sox fired him as their GM, seemingly wound up with the Orioles job because none of their other favored candidates wanted any part of it. Whether he can succeed in Baltimore where eight previous GMs left in exasperation at working for O’s owner Peter Angelos remains to be seen. An equally interesting dynamic will be how Duquette will co-exist with hands-on manager Buck Showalter. “This is right up my alley,” Duquette said at his introductory press conference last week, “turning around a ballclub and building a farm and scouting system.” That will take money — something Angelos refused to give his predecessors. For the present, they do not figure to be players for any of the big-ticket free agents, even though signing Prince Fielder or the Norfolk, Va.-born Cuddyer would go a long way
  • toward giving the O’s instant credibility with their disillusioned fans.

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SF Giants 3B coach band to play benefit for fan beaten in parking lot

"In this Aug. 9, 2011 file photo, members of the Grateful Dead--Phil Lesh, left, and Bob Weir, center, sing the national anthem alongside San Francisco Giants third base coach Tim Flannery before a baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates in San Francisco. Flannery wants to make sure everybody keeps supporting Bryan Stow, the fan who was brutally beaten outside Dodger Stadium opening day. Flannery's band, the Lunatic Fringe, is scheduled to play at a San Francisco jazz club Wednesday night in a benefit concert." ap

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Rounding up the usual suspects in Wilson Ramos kidnap case

"Suspects of the kidnap of Venezuelan Washington Nationals' baseball catcher, Wilson Ramos, are escorted in Valencia, Venezuela," Nov. 12, 2011, AFP, getty. 11/13/11, BBC, "At least four Colombians are still being sought, including the suspected ringleader. ...A 60-year-old woman and a 74-year-old man were also arrested as accomplices for supplying the kidnappers with food, he said..."They told me many things they knew of my private life," he said. "They knew a lot about me. They had very good information, an informant who told them all that.""
  • May 2008 US State Dept Travel warning about Venezuela they "quickly round up suspects" but it doesn't go much further.
"In the case of high-profile killings, the authorities quickly round up suspects, but rarely produce evidence linking these individuals to the crime. Only a very small percentage of criminals are tried and convicted."...

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