Straight Out of the Onion?

And it turns out that people flocked to my blog right before that Favreapalooza on Monday night. Go figure. But I’ll take the page hits!

Anyway, my current work schedule, has somewhat kept me from posting. Well, that and not having timely material for when I would otherwise have put up a new entry. But, let’s see if the upcoming weeks and months are a bit friendlier towards regular updates.

This morning’s events finally forced me to post. I’m absolutely stunned, just like the President was when he found out, and frankly most of the press too. The Nobel Committee’s reasoning is fair enough, including a comparison to Mikhail Gorbachev in 1980 (before glasnost really took hold), and Fareed Zakaria seems to think along the same lines (‘America rejoining the world’).

I guess most people assume that the prize is a lifetime achievement award. That has always been what I was led to believe, too. Plenty of joke fodder already, some on the right, and of course quite a bit of it is absurd hyperbole, but even Obama surely knows that he has to go earn this with his and our country’s actions in the next few years. If not, you can be sure this “rockstar” theme is going to come up again in 2012, just like it did after his tour of Europe in 2008.

Even non-conservatives might be concerned about this development. It could have both positive and negative implications for Obama’s policy-making efforts, particularly on foreign policy. Chris Cilliza expands on this and some of my other points.

Hey, it makes for a nice wake-up call though, if you can get it. Enjoy the award, Mr. President, I’m not going to say you need to turn it down by any means. But as you said in your press conference today, don’t dare let this award get to your head. There is a lot of work to be done, and everyone will be watching you more closely than before (if that’s actually possible).

The fun begins withi figuring out what to do in Afghanistan. And then reconciling Congress and the nation on healthcare (no disrespect to Sen. Tom Harkin, but try to minimize the government’s direct involvement) without actually using reconciliation. Oh, and don’t forget the “Es”- economy, environment, and education…

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While I’ve Been Away

Had a delicious dinner on Sunday night with my grandmother at the Jackson Diner. It isn’t really a diner, however. Instead, what you get is delicious Indian food. The Murg Tikka Palakwala (chicken mixed with tomato, spinach, ginger, and cumin seeds) was spectacular, and the lamb rogan josh wasn’t bad either. Well worth the minor hassle we faced in trying to find a parking spot near by. Note to self: take mass transit next time you visit Jackson Heights.

Aside from that, and the usual gym/sports/etc. routine, I am doing some work for a company in lower Manhattan on weekday afternoons. So far so good, and we’ll see what happens from there.

I’ll clean out the notebook a little more tomorrow. I promise.

Should I Really Have Been Surprised About Strasburg?

Ryan Zimmerman finally has some star-studded company in Washington

Ryan Zimmerman finally has some star-studded company in Washington

Late last night, the Nationals signed Stephen Strasburg to a four year contract worth over $15 million. This despite lots of talk that he wouldn’t sign and then maybe play in the independent leagues or Japan until next year’s draft and then get taken by another team. Presumably, one that would pay what he and agent Scott Boras wanted, and also be closer to winning than the Nationals currently are. On the other hand, this year’s worst teams (who will ultimately pick at the top of the 2010 draft) don’t really include anyone whom you can classify as “free spending,” unless you really believe he would fall all the way to the Mets in the middle of the top-10. Forget the conspiracy ideas of him becoming a foreign national so that he could be signed as a free agent like Cuban defector Aroldis Chapman. This would have cost him too many years of his potential big league career to get to that point. Otherwise, you know Boras would’ve tried it.

The Nationals knew all of this. They also knew that they needed another cornerstone player besides Ryan Zimmerman and some #2/3 caliber young starting pitchers- Strasburg should be an ace. And as we saw, they offered $15 million, no strings attached. More than the Cubs gave Mark Prior (although the deals aren’t structured the same), who was actually a #2 overall pick behind Joe Mauer… oops. If he pitches up to the hype, the deal expires without buying out any arbitration-eligible years, so his salary could quickly skyrocket.

Tom Boswell sees this much as I do. The Nationals may finally have some credibility as an organization, and the cost of being wrong on Strasburg over the next few years probably pales in comparison to what it would be if they yielded his rights and saw him thrive somewhere else in two years.

Still, I figured that the Nationals wouldn’t pull the trigger on this big a financial commitment to someone who hasn’t yet played in the Majors, or that Boras and Strasburg might gamble on what could happen next year. Instead, the two parties determined that they really did need each other- if only until 2015. As Keith Law puts it, a potential win-win for all sides– assuming Strasburg delivers on the field!

Stephen Strasburg will soon be wearing red, white, and gold for his home games.

Stephen Strasburg will soon be wearing red, white, and gold for his home games.

It All Sounds Right…

But how will it play out? Michael Vick basically said exactly what you’d expect to hear in his press conference this morning. He made some big, really horrible mistakes, and hopes that his actions going forward backup the second chance he is receiving. For Eagles coach Andy Reid and chairman Jeff Lurie (a dog-owner in the past), it took lots of questions to Vick and former NFL coach Tony Dungy (who has done a lot of work trying to help rehabilitate people in Tampa and Indianapolis), plus the apparent support of Donovan McNabb, to convince them to bring in Vick.

So far, reaction in Philly seems to be pretty mixed. John Gonzalez likes the last bit of teaser footage he saw in advance of Vick’s 60 Minutes interview this weekend- “Football doesn’t even matter” (compared to his crimes). But Phil Sheridan doesn’t see a general fit with the Eagles’ organizational culture (whereas others praise its sturdiness as being great for Vick). He also can’t get past the probability that we will think of Vick’s crimes every time he takes the field. That’s certainly true, for as Lurie said in the presser, Vick’s legacy will be almost entirely written off the field. Only by what he does there- i.e. working with the Humane Society to help eradicate cruelty to animals in the many places where it happens more than any of us could ever imagine- can he possibly remove any of the stain off his legacy.

Pete Domowitch takes it in football terms and says that a very good offense just became dynamite. Plus, Andy Reid is an offensive guru (he once worked with Mike Holmgren and helped tutor Brett Favre) who can figure out a way to use all of the Eagles’ pieces (including Vick, McNabb, Bryant Westbrook, Jeremy Maclin, and DeSean Jackson). “Domo” couldn’t be more right. If all falls into place, the Eagles may have taken that last step to get buy the Giants and Cardinals to become the NFC’s team-to-beat. I wouldn’t want to be any defensive coordinator who has to game plan against Philly this season.

Fans? Predictably, also split. BountyBowl loves the signing. Everyone is taking a risk (PR/financial/job/whatever) and then some to bring in Vick, and it just might pay off in a Super Bowl. This blogger also sees the dynamic plays which the Eagles could concoct. InsidetheEagles, like Phil Sheridan, can’t figure out why the Eagles should be the team for Vick, even if he may have earned another chance. Some fans are even trying to get rid of tickets. In a month, I’m sure they’ll be in the minority. Listen, I’m not gonna argue with people if their principles say some crimes can never be forgiven– at least not with another opportunity to play football for a living. Or, that they can’t seriously believe Vick is sincere in his remorse.

Another fan is really torn on many levels, and I can’t blame her. She and other bloggers delve into some of the religious teachings one might consider in this debate as justification for Vick’s opportunity. Tony Dungy also has made those allusions, and I think it’s not even so much religion (of any kind) as reflective of our country’s society. At the end of a punishment for breaking the law, you’re eventually freed. What you do after that is your story to write alone. But having a good support system can never hurt.

Stay tuned…

On Michael Vick

I’m turning over somewhat of a new leaf. Trying to go to sleep earlier most nights so that I improve my productivity during the day. Yes, that includes the quality of this blog. At least, I hope so.

Apparently, the Philadelphia Eagles and especially the man pictured below are convinced that Michael Vick will too. Obviously, his would be on a far different level from my own, but sports and hyperbole are almost like peanut butter and jelly. Vick’s now back in the NFL, and potentially for more money than most seemed to expect he (and/or his creditors) would get.

Image Courtesy of Delaware County Times

Image Courtesy of Delaware County Times

Image Courtesy of the Express-Times (Lehigh Valley)

Image Courtesy of the Express-Times (Lehigh Valley)

It seems like the players are thrilled to have him, despite all of the protests and media circus fun that you know are coming. Even Donovan McNabb apparently is okay with this. I disagree with the venerable Bob Glauber’s piece in Newsday though. McNabb won’t be worried about Vick threatening his job, because if he stays healthy, this isn’t a contest. Donovan McNabb is just flat-out a better quarterback and will be the starter. Vick will probably be involved in a lot of trick plays or some variation of the wildcat. But Glauber and SI‘s Peter King are correct about Philadelphia’s organizational stability being a plus for Vick. If he doesn’t stay in line, he’ll be out the door, plain and simple. And Yahoo! Sports makes an interesting point about how the problems Andy Reid went through with his kids’ a few years ago could have influenced his decision. Of course, he will frame this as no more than bringing in a veteran backup.

What do I think? I say, the guy did his time for a heinous act (as judged by the legal system), so if the NFL and Tony Dungy think Vick is on the way to cleaning up his life, I see nothing wrong with the Eagles finding out if this is true, and if Vick can be an asset to their football team. They won’t let him become a clubhouse cancer, so the risk is virtually nil in my view. Fans won’t give up their tickets- even if Eagles fans weren’t known for their loyalty.

Gonna check out a live blog of Vick’s press conference now. Back later with my thoughts on it.

Don’t Worry

I did not have this affect me. To be quite frank, I don’t twitter anyway and probably won’t in the foreseeable future. I do have a Facebook page, but I’m pretty much never on it during the day. Apparently, the whole episode is related to global politics. In a perverse way, I suppose this could be a clever way to silence dissent. Of course, I hope web security continues to improve so nothing like this happens again for a while. It will eventually, in my view. Just like steroids in sports, it’s hard to stay one step ahead of the people who are concocting whatever schemes we try to stop.

Anyway, the real reason I was away from the blog for most of the week is that I have been interviewing for potential new work opportunities- right now I only do some limited part-time stuff, so I am looking for a bit more steady work. Outside of that, I try to mix in blogging and hard work finding those job advertisements. We’ll see how that all shakes out going forward. I do have one strong possibility I will be mulling over during the coming weekend (possibly out here) Since the unemployment rate dropped slightly, I guess things can only get better than, at least the markets think so. Quite a few economists and/or pundits, however, think otherwise, and at the moment, they’re probably right. Even the President seems to acknowledge that the rate is probably going to head up unless either a lot more people stop trying to work, job cuts suddenly stop for one reason or another, or something else happens to confound current projections.

Whatever. It’s Friday, so we’ll cut the gloom for a couple of days at least! Enjoy Yankees-Red Sox instead.

Deadline Day has Come

A semi-live blog of today’s MLB deadline day stuff. The usual mix of confirmed developments and any near-instant reaction I find. Plus some of my own thoughts, as warranted.

11:10- First, a recap of yesterday’s moves, including George Sherrill going to the Dodgers, more Pirates abandoning ship, and a couple of other deals. Also, Freddy Sanchez joined San Francisco on Wednesday (as we hinted at in that day’s blogging) for a potentially steep price, pitching prospect Tim Alderson.

11:21- Ken Rosenthal and FOX reported this morning that a Victor Martinez deal was unlikely, but Jayson Stark previously said Cleveland and Boston could pull off a three-way deal. Clay Buchholz would be Cleveland’s primary return on a trade, while the third team would take Adam LaRoche (and probably some minor leaguers). No real updates on Stark’s report, so we’ll see about this…

11:31- It does seem, however, that the Red Sox are still looking seriously at Adrian Gonzalez, but it’s clear that he is not likely to come without paying a steep price. In the Daily News article linked here, we also find out that the Yankees were interested in lefty-pitcher Jarrod Washburn, but that is not going to happen as Detroit just swooped in and got him.

11:45- The Daily News also has this gallery of not-so-great Yankees and Mets trades or free-agent signings, both at the deadline and otherwise. Ah yes, Jay Buhner for Ken Phelps and Scott Kazmir for Victor Zambrano. Gotta love it.

11:50- Looks like a couple of prospects headed to the Mariners for Washburn. Here are some details on them. Good move for Detroit, as it gives some protection for the rotation behind Justin Verlander and Edwin Jackson in case rookie Rick Porcello wears down under the strains of a late-season pennant drive. Plus, Comerica (national) Park might be an even better place for southpaw hurlers than Safeco Field. A 2.64 ERA could go even lower, and if so, Washburn figures to be in for a nice payday once he reaches free agency this winter.

11:55- Not much else cooking right now, but we have until 4:00 ET, so I’ll be back a little later!

2:15- A little bit has changed since we last spoke. The Brewers traded for Claudio Vargas. Minnesota got Orlando Cabrera for basically a bag of balls. Jeremiah Graves likes it, since Cabrera is better offensively than what they previously had at short (aside from not walking very much), and his glove is solid. The Brewers may just be taking a cautious wade in the “go for it pool.”

2:23- Washburn reaction. Good deal both ways says Blogging About Baseball. Rob Neyer sees it as a wiser move for Seattle, as does Geoff Baker, while Keith Law thinks Washburn could be golden in October. Ken Davidoff thinks the Tigers are going for it this year, if only to keep attendance up despite the economy. Seems a bit cynical, especially since Mike Illitch is an owner who flat out wants to win. John Lowe in the Detroit Free Press worries about whether or not the Tigers will give Washburn enough run support, something he manifestly lacked in Seattle (and Lowe notes that Detroit has let down Edwin Jackson several times this season).

2:30- Fan bloggers mostly praised the Tigers’ decision, apparently including a (reluctant) Yankees fan. I can’t say I’d have given up top prospects for Washburn, which is supposedly what Brian Cashman was told he’d have to do. Of course, Detroit arguably ended up getting him for less, perhaps somewhat by default. This Mariner fan is happy, since the Mariners at least build up some pitching depth for someone they likely wouldn’t have been able to re-sign.

2:44- A Red Sox blogger wishes the Yankees had gotten Washburn (figures), but seems happier about a possible Victor Martinez trade that might be getting closer

2:45- Detroit apparently wants Luke Scott from Baltimore. That definitely would help the offense a little bit.

2:50- MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo hints on his Twitter page at whom Boston might deal for V-Mart. No Buchholz apparently, which could make this deal almost as good as the one Philly made for Cliff Lee. In fairness, Cleveland is looking for longer-term potential, which Nick Hagadone and Justin Masterson may have.

3:05- A Victor Martinez trade means it would likely be “we hardly knew ye” for Adam LaRoche in Boston. Just one hour until the deadline, and rumor is Atlanta may be interested in acquiring him (they actually had LaRoche a couple years back and then dealt him to Pittsburgh for closer Mike Gonzalez).

3:23- And what do you know? Adam LaRoche is headed to Atlanta, per Gordon Edes (seen here and here). He should provide some extra offense.

3:28- The Yankees won’t quite let the deadline pass quietly. They’ve acquired Jerry Hairston, Jr. from Cincinnati. As with the Phillies getting Ben Francisco in the Cliff Lee deal, Hairston’s not spectacular but he will give them a right-handed bat off the bench with a little power (eight home runs so far this year). He can also play multiple positions in the field.

3:32- Boston gets Casey Kotchman in return for Adam LaRoche, per NESN. Kotchman was the Braves’ first baseman, but as the report notes, he’d be competing with V-Mart and Kevin Youkilis for playing time. On the other hand, perhaps Martinez would just rotate between catcher and DH.

3:34- Colorado upgrades the bullpen with a deal for Joe Beimel, late of the Nationals.

3:36- The Boston Globe’s trade deadline blog confirms details of the Martinez trade.

3:42- The Marlins will apparently stand pat and either get the wild card or nothing on what they have now.

3:45- Reports that Scott Rolen has been traded to the Reds. He does have to waive his no-trade clause first. He’d be a nice addition going forward, although the Reds are unlikely to win the NL Central this year (they’re just not better than the Cardinals or Cubs). No, I haven’t forgotten about Roy Halladay, but it’s pretty clear that he won’t be dealt today. No indication that the Jays have been in any serious talks over him this afternoon.

4:00- And there it is! The deadline is upon us.

4:04- The dust may not settle for another hour or so as teams and MLB confirm all the paperword/medicals/issue press releases. Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi at FOX say Edwin Encarnacion will go to Toronto in return for Rolen, who is expected to waive his NTC. He’s signed through next year. Reds also deal a couple of others- nobody of particular note- per Yahoo! Sports. Also, in a milder surprise, the Marlins will, in fact, acquire Nick Johnson from Washington for a prospect. This should give Hanley Ramirez some protection in the batting order.

4:06- Yahoo!’s live blog says that the Blue Jays did not ask Roy Halladay to waive his NTC. If true, this confirms that he’s staying in Toronto, at least until the end of the season. Also, the Yankees gave a minor league catcher (but not Jesus Montero) for Hairston, Jr.

4:10- From earlier, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale says San Diego is not trading reliever Heath Bell (unless he clears waivers during August). Minnesota balked at the high price, as other teams did with Adrian Gonzalez.

4:12- River Ave. Blues likes the Hairston trade for the Yanks. Was Watching with a light-hearted nostalgia flashback. Boogie Down says the Yanks were smart not to make trades just for the sake of them today. That said, I do think Boston improved themselves by getting Victor Martinez and Casey Kotchman.