Friday, March 31, 2006

Random baseball notes

Baseball will investigate steroids in its game.  While it's mostly for show, Ken Rosenthal (aka RoboThal) makes a strong point - MLB should look forward, not into the past. 

The public at large would accept MLB saying "We had a steroid problem.  We are now doing testing, but we acknowledge that more needs to be done.  We are going to help fund research to get better testing.  We are going to fund programs to reach out to young amateur players who are the future major league players.  And we are going to do everything we can to ensure that Performance Enhancing Drugs no longer have a home in baseball."  Heck, it might even work.  But dredging up the past isn't going to help anybody, especially since it will be likely that MLB can not punish anybody for their misdeeds prior to 2004.


One prominent baseball marriage is ending, but another has just begun.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Quel surprise

It's an odd day when wrestling fans can be seen as more reasonable than political commentators about real life issues, but Andrew Sullivan manages to pull it off. Wrestling fans know to look at the Iron Sheik as a joke, and yet Sullivan takes him a bit more seriously than the rest.

Brief Survivor Episode 6 Thoughts

Before I get into the episode, some advice for CBS: Do not essentially pre-empt Survivor for 2 weeks again (the recap episode on Wednesday was a pre-emption because nobody needed to see the show).  It kills any momentum that the show has built up, and can make people forget about the show.  If you have to do a recap show and show a new episode over the two weeks.

As for the show itself, Sally should thank Casaya for shipping her off to Exile Island.  And kudos to Dan and the rest of the tribe for what was the classiest Tribal Council to ever be shown on Survivor.  It was a great contrast to somebody like a Judd.

Where do things go from here?  Well, La Mina is screwed unless they can convince somebody to flip.  If they were smart, they would talk to Bruce and try to flip him.  He's most likely to flip because of the wine incident.  And then, they should have Terry throw  the immunity challenge, making him the big target.  When Casaya votes him out, he can use the idol and they get to vote out one of the Casaya alliance (Danielle, if they were really smart).  This throws the Casaya alliance into turmoil and then La Mina can start picking people off.

With this being Survivor, La Mina is probably going to see Courtney as being disenfranchised and target her as the person to flip.  And Courtney being Courtney will run right back and tell her alliance and La Mina will get pinged off one by one (except for Terry who will just not lose an immunity challenge).

Your rankings as we head into the merge:

    1.      Terry (last week - 1)
    2.      Danielle (last week - 2)
    3.      Austin (last week - 3)
    4.      Aras (last week - 5)
    5.      Nick (last week - 4)
    6.      Cirie (last week - 7)
    7.      Sally (last week - 6)
    8.      Courtney (last week - 9)
    9.      Bruce (last week - 8)
    10.     Shane (last week - 11)

Who goes this week?  Nick.  Austin is a bit less of a physical threat, so he will likely make it to the jury.  Terry gets to survive regardless because of the immunity idol.  Sally isn't a threat to anybody.  And it's too early to turn on your own, no matter how much you want to - Casaya has at least shown themselves to not be blinded by short-term gains as opposed to long-term goals. 

Next week: A new weekly chart makes its debut!

Friday, March 24, 2006

SF Chronicle v. Bonds

(Note: I wrote this before news came down about the result of the hearing. Obviously, this negates a bit of what I have said. Still, I think the commentary about how the Chronicle handled the lawsuit is valid. Remind me to take a look tomorrow at how they cover the dismissal.)

So Barry Bonds has decided to sue the authors of Book of Shadows. I’m not going to get into the whole Bonds/steroids discussion right now, but I am a bit curious about how the San Francisco Chronicle is covering the story.

Yesterday, the Chronicle published a book review of Book of Shadows. It was a very positive review, with very little criticism. But given that the authors of the book are Chronicle reporters – not to mention that they largely did the leg work for the book for the Chronicle – isn’t it a conflict of interest for the Chronicle to be publishing a review of the book?

After the review published, news of Bonds’ suit hit. The Chronicle was quick to write a report about the development, including quotes from the Chronicle’s own lawyer. Perfectly acceptable behaviour – this is a newsworthy item after all.

Where things went off the rails is with their analysis of the situation. The author, Matthew B. Stannard, initially discusses the unique angle used to file the lawsuit and the hurdles that Bonds’ lawyer faces to prove his case. But then he starts to get goofy:

But irony aside, most of the experts interviewed described the legal attack on "Game of Shadows" as a somewhat desperate stretch -- what Stern called "good PR, but ... a legal square peg being driven into a round hole."

Which experts? He quoted three experts before that paragraph, and also quotes a separate expert in the end. Does that mean that 3 of the 4 experts quoted believe this? Were there other experts who might have differing opinions that were not quoted? (3 of the 4 experts were strongly of the belief that the lawsuit was futile, while the 4th was open to the arguments presented by Bonds’ lawyer.)

And then there’s the wording: a more neutral wording instead of “legal attack” (how about “law suit”?) and “desperate stretch” (“difficult argument to prove”?) would at least give the air of impartiality, especially considering that the article was to be published by one of the defendants.

In fact, several experts said, Rains' effort comes close enough to the appearance of an attempt to prevent publication and sales of the book -- despite his denials -- that he and his client could be subject to legal sanctions by the defendants, something Eve Burton, general counsel for the Hearst Corp., owner of The Chronicle, said might be on the table.

"To say Mr. Bonds' tactic is novel would be an understatement," Burton said. "The S.F. Chronicle will request Mr. Bonds to withdraw his application for a restraining order, and if he fails to do so, we will seek sanctions under the laws of California, as well as vigorously contesting any further legal action he may bring."

(Note the wording here: it frames Rains as being the villain in this proceeding by questioning his motives (“despite his denials”), and also contains a threat to Rains that he better step off, or else the Chronicle will be forced to pursue their own actions.)

Again, the anonymous experts are brought into the argument. Only this time, none are quoted to support Stannard’s assertation about the appearance of the lawsuit. The only person who is quoted in regards to this piece of analysis is the general counsel for the newspaper that is being sued (and is publishing this analysis). This only brings more question as to the objectiveness of the analysis. Why is Burton quoted, while Rains is not given a forum in this “analysis” to explain his point of view? And further more how is Burton’s quote even applicable to the analysis?

The real question, some legal experts said, is why Bonds' attorneys turned to such a complicated and novel approach rather than take the traditional route of filing a defamation lawsuit.

"We're going through these gymnastics because in order to bring a defamation suit, truth is a defense," Stern said. "He wants to be able to bring a suit, but he doesn't want to bring truth into the issue."

Where is the opinion to counteract this, specifically that in order to win a defamation suit, Bonds not only has to prove that what was said was not true, but that he has suffered actual damage, which is significantly more difficult to prove. To not bring this up is a glaring oversight, and makes this seem like a PR defense instead of a true analysis of the lawsuit and its merits.

BTW: On the Chronicle website, links to the analysis uses the blurb “Analysis: Experts call lawsuit a longshot”. The title on the article? “'NOVEL' TACTIC: Legal experts say complaint is unique use of state Unfair Competition Law”

The Chronicle needs to be much more careful with their reporting. Right now it seems as though they are using their paper to defend themselves in public, as well as promote a book they have a vested interest in.

Who else wants some?

Andrew Coyne is a bit frustrated:

I take it we will hear no more about "the fiscal imbalance." Well, the provinces may well attempt to preserve the facade, holding out a beggarly hand even after this riotous display of excess. Humbug, after all, is what these people do.

But there is no way the new federal government can possibly pay them any heed. Not any more. Not after this. The Conservative love affair with the provinces -- all that rot about how they were "closer to the people," all that sympathetic clucking over the terrible privations forced upon them by those reckless spendthrifts in distant "Ottawa" -- has just ceased. Or must, if they wish to be taken seriously.

Three provinces, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec, have brought forth budgets in the past 48 hours that, differ as they may in the detail, present a uniform picture of unprecedented provincial wealth, wealth so great that finance ministers were forced to some considerable lengths to find ways to spend it.

The entire column is here. It is great read – spot on as well.

(h/t: Wells)

My Name Is Not Earl

So I was right about the Canadiens and Leafs goaltending situation (I know, blind squirrel and the nut theory combined with Captain Obvious), but the price that I paid for stating the blindingly obvious?

Having my bracket totally destroyed by Duke (and West Virginia to a lesser extent).

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Creative interpretation of numbers

Paul Hunter in today's Star (bolding added by me):

      Quinn will never abandon an emphasis on smart defence, but given that Mikael Tellqvist is giving Toronto superior goaltending compared to the Montreal duo of Cristobal Huet and David Aebischer, trading chances with the Habs might not be a bad strategy.

Goaltending statistics:

Mikael Tellqvist:  22 GP, 19 GS, 1219 Minutes, 2.76 GAA, 542 Saves, 0.906 Sv%, 2 SO
Cristobel Huet:  27 GP, 24 GS, 1563 Minutes, 2.27 GAA, 735 0.926 Sv%, 5 SO

I'll leave the smart defence line alone - that's far too easy to make fun of.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Survivor Panama Episode 5 Thoughts

Ain't I smart. I will never predict the doom of a tribe again. First Casaya decides to defy my prediction of their defeat by dominating. Then, after I have written off La Mina, they decide that they will actually win an immunity challenge. So that's it no more predictions of doom.

Bobby and Bruce weren't exactly the smartest knifes in the shed. Or they just don't care about the game any longer. Drinking the wine without anybody else knowing guaranteed that one of them would be gone as soon as possible. But they weren't the only ones not thinking.

Shane was afraid of Aras flipping with Bobby after the merge, which is valid. But he wanted to get rid of Bobby, and not Aras. The girls use this to "flip the game" not realizing that this would only cause a tie, with Bruce the woodsman facing Bobby the lawyer. And Shane decides to play with the group, even after presented the opportunity to get rid of Bobby for a second time. But why didn't he counter with Aras instead of sticking with Bruce? That kills the "young guy" alliance theory, and gets rid of somebody who was growing to be a bigger liability than first anticipated and is also a challenge threat. Makes life a whole lot simpler, no? (Especially if you consider that Shane ended up voting for Aras. Then again, the way the vote came out, Shane got his desired ending)

Speaking of Aras, that might have been the worst tribal council performance since Lillith of Pearl Islands. There's something to be said when what you say at tribal council causes somebody to flip to voting for you. And it's pretty close to "what the hell are you doing?!?!" If Aras ends up losing the game, he needs to look back to this as the first spot where it began to fall apart.

On to the list:

Most likely to win:
  1. Terry (Last week - 1)
  2. Danielle (Last week - 3)
  3. Austin (Last week - 5)
  4. Nick (Last week - 7)
  5. Aras (Last week - 4)
  6. Sally (Last week - 8)
  7. Cirie (Last week - 11)
  8. Bruce (Last week - 2)
  9. Courtney (Last week - 6)
  10. Dan (Last week - 10)
  11. Shane (Last week - 12)

As for the burning question of who goes this week - Sally or Bruce.

With the merge coming up very soon (as soon as next week), voting priorites swing. It is not as important to think of who will best help your tribe survive, but instead you need to consider who will most likely hinder your chance of winning the game. Both Bruce and Sally are immunity threats and both are on the outside of the dominant 4 person alliances that exist in their tribes. Bruce is also disliked by his tribe over the wine incident, while Sally is viewed as a possible threat to flip after the merge. I hate to say it, because I like both of them, but it makes the most sense.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Survivor Panama Episode 4 Thoughts

Poor La Mina. They seem to be the likeable tribe, they have the second coming of Tom, and yet they are the ones that are in a downward spiral. It looks like we're headed to another season of the dominant alliance being pretty unlikeable. Which sucks.

With that said, I'm not upset in seeing Ruth Marie go. With all of her face time, she was pretty forgettable. And Sally is becoming more interesting as we get further into the game. A quick review of what I said about Ruth Marie:

She's pretty athletic, and has a diverse background. But something seems off with her. I can't describe it, but she seems like an early boot. So, the brain says jury member, but the gut says goes early. Let's split the difference and call it a late pre-merge boot.

She showed a lot of spunk in the immunity challenge two weeks ago, but last week was a poor week for her to prove her worth. The only really surprising thing was the first crack showing in the all guy alliance. Dan went ahead an promised Ruth Marie Final 5, which he didn't have the authority, nor did he think things through. I think he's still on the good side of Terry, but that's something worth watching.

The list:

1 1 Terry
2 2 Bruce
3 3 Danielle
5 4 Aras
6 5 Austin
4 6 Courtney
7 7 Nick
10 8 Sally
8 9 Bobby
8 10 Dan
12 11 Cirie
13 12 Shane

Who goes? Dan or Cirie. Dan because he has upset his alliance and is
very weak in challenges. Cirie because she is still on the outside of her tribe, and Bobby is still useful for challenges.