Today – February 6


Today’s Notable U. S. Events

Feb 06 1788 – Massachusetts becomes the sixth United State

Notable U. S. Birthdays

Ronald Reagan – 40th President of the United States and the 33rd Governor of California

Ronald Reagan wearing cowboy hat at Rancho del...
Ronald Reagan wearing cowboy hat at Rancho del Cielo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ronald Wilson Reagan (February 6, 1911 – June 5, 2004) was the 40th President of the United States (1981–1989) and the 33rd Governor of California (1967–1975). Born in Illinois, Reagan moved to Los Angeles, California in the 1930s, where he was an actor, president of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), and a spokesman for General Electric (GE). His start in politics occurred during his work for GE. Originally a member of the Democratic Party, he switched to the Republican Party in 1962, at the age of 51.  As president, Reagan implemented bold new political and economic initiatives. His supply-side economic policies, dubbed “Reaganomics,” included deregulation and substantial tax cuts implemented in 1981. In his first term he survived an assassination attempt, took a hard line against organized labor, and ordered military actions in Grenada. He was reelected in a landslide in 1984.

Wikipedia – The Free Encyclopedia

World War Cycle – World War I / Prohibition Era – Third Turning, Unraveling (1910-1929)
G.I. Generation – Hero (Civic) (1901-1924)

Continue reading Today – February 6

What I’m Watching – Moneyball

Finally saw Moneyball last night.  In a word I loved it.  In all honesty, though, I must make a full disclosure here.  I am a lifelong baseball fan.  I am not a “capital F” fan, painting my face and scoring season box seats to cheer on my team, but just someone who was raised in a family who loved the game, who played the game as long as he was tolerated and watches whenever he can.  I am also aware of, and curious about, the trend towards using statistical data from players to make basic decisions on their value and when and how much they play.  So the picture appealed to me on all of those baseball-centric levels.  But that wasn’t all of the attraction. It was a well crafted movie with good actors and an intelligent (and funny) script.  The true test is that I went with my Spouse and friends, all of whom can take the game of baseball or leave it, and they liked it too.

Moneyball was about the arrival of the Bill James’ Sabremetric statistical system in the upper levels of baseball management.  It was a good story told in an, almost, documentary style that centered around (I think) the 2002 season of the Oakland A’s American League baseball team.  They didn’t have the money to hold a successful team together so they had to come up with some other gimmick to have a chance to win.  The General Manager Billy Beane grabbed a young statistician from another team and started tearing the team apart and inserting unproved but statistically attractive players into empty spots.  Needless to say they were more successful than they should have had any right to expect and a new facet of baseball was introduced into the big leagues.  A fun story, especially if you are a baseball fan. See it.

Baseball Generations

What I’m Reading

Given my love of history and for the game of baseball, it is not difficult to imagine what a sucker I am for a new Baseball History book.  John Thorn (of Total Baseball fame) has written a good one. “Baseball in the Garden of Eden:  The Secret History of the Early Game” is the title and the story, it turns out, is nearly as complicated as the book’s title.

Mr Thorn is clearly a Baseball scholar.  His references are deep and dense.  The notes at the end of the book take up nearly fifty pages.  He has, however, a confusing way of organizing his information that is not quite chronological and not quite categorical.   In the process he seems to do a lot of overlapping and repetition as he goes along.  The story might not be easy to stick with if you are not interested in the subject.

If you are interested in the subject, however, there is much to like.  He makes a good case for the New York game being a true beginning for the institution of American Baseball while at the same time poking holes in most of the existing mythology that surrounds it.  He very nearly labels the Abner Doubleday/Cooperstown myth a conspiracy.   I was quite taken by the Theosophist connection, never having before seen the story laid out in such detailed and damning terms.  I was fascinated by the early history of the professional leagues, teams and players.  I have heard some of these stories before but never in such a complete context.  I would easily recommend this book to a committed Baseball fan but I would hesitate to offer it in hopes of producing a new one.

What I’m Reading

The author of “Sea Biscuit,” Laura Hillenbrand, has a new book out and it is an amazing story.  The book is “Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption.”   The first part of the book follows the life of Louis Zamperini from a rocky childhood through to his unlikely participation, right out of high school,  in the 1936 Berlin Olympics.  Then World War II came along and swept his country into war, and him into service to his country.  What followed was an unbelievable story of survival, first in the Pacific Ocean and then, in Japanese POW camps for the duration of the war.  Finally, the book recounted his difficult and frustrating adjustment to life after the war.  The book was one of those rare books that are both difficult to read and to put down.  I was enthralled with the story and took a new appreciation of the US war with Japan from it.  I would recommend this book to anyone but I would urge anyone to read it that is interested in understanding where our GI generation got its stuff.

It’s that time of year again.

Monday is opening day for the Seattle Mariner’s American League baseball team. They are my team of preference, me being from the Seattle area and all. Baseball has been a big part of my life. My father’s family were baseball people. My grandfather played on local baseball teams in Montana when he was a young man in the early 20th century. My dad and his brothers played.  I played organized and sandlot ball all the way through high school.   Needless to say baseball is in my blood.

This time of year I get a little excited when spring training winds down and the final lineups are set for that first game of the season.  It’s a little harder when your team hasn’t been playing well but there is always something to get you going.  Ichiro has developed an ulcer problem so he won’t be starting the season but Jr.  is back.  Ken Griffey Jr., possibly the most exciting player I ever watched, has returned to Seattle for a career ending stint with the team who brought him out.  He won’t be the player he was but he will probably be the person he was and that is worth a lot.  Good omens and bad.  We are starting and I am ready.

It was about this same time of year, 2 or 3 years ago that it occured to me that it would be really interesting to look at major league baseball history from a generational standpoint.  That gave me an excuse to spend hours pawing through old baseball statistics online and in various giant baseball statistics books.  I eventually ended up with a web page I call Baseball Generations that essentially proposes generational all star teams for each of the generations since major league baseball became a reality.  I made some changes recently but it is essentially the same idea.  It was a blast and I would invite you to visit the page and see if you agree with my picks.

With all that in mind I wanted to announce that, once again, I have started thinking about baseball in the spring and I have decided I need to recognize all of the baseball Hall of Famers on my baseball page.  I am in the process of adding them into the generational lineups and I am glad I am doing it.  A lot of people that get picked for the Hall of Fame do so in spite of not ending up on the Top 10 lists because their ongoing, consistent contributions are overshadowed by the statistical wonders that dominate the headlines every day.  To me, that seems like a good enough reason to make a spot for them on my lists.  Also, since my lists spans the entire history of major league baseball, this exercise brings back some deserving names that have faded with time.