Tuesday, 2 October 2007


I leave you this fine evening with a blog post by Paul Mirengoff.

Twenty Years Ago

10-2-87 . . . Detroit [the Tigers] won its final game with Baltimore [the Orioles] yesterday, and today the Tigers pulled into a tie with Toronto [the Blue Jays] for the American League East Division title. Both teams are 96-64. The Tigers beat the Blue Jays this afternoon, 4-3. That’s the fifth consecutive loss by Toronto. So the entire season comes down to two games—a weekend. If either team wins both Saturday and Sunday, it clinches the title. If the teams split the two games, there will be a one-game playoff on Monday in Tiger Stadium. So really, it amounts to a three-game playoff. The first team to win two games goes to the championship series. A week ago I wouldn’t have given much for Detroit’s chances, for the Tigers were three and a half games behind the Blue Jays. But the past week has been successful. As far as health goes, the Blue Jays have lost two of their best players to injuries. Shortstop Tony Fernandez is out for the season with a broken elbow, while catcher Ernie Whitt, who always hits the Tigers well, has broken ribs. Whitt may pinch hit, but that’s all. Go Tigers!

Here’s Johnny!

How many of you remember Johnny Carson? I wrote the following in my journal 20 years ago yesterday:

I had to teach the GRE preparation course this evening, so I couldn’t watch the twenty-fifth anniversary celebration of The Tonight Show, Starring Johnny Carson. Actually, the show precedes Carson [1925-2005]. He took over as host on 1 October 1962, when I was five years old. In effect, I’ve grown up with him. I started watching the show at about the age of fifteen and have viewed it more or less regularly since then—half my life. I’ve come to take Johnny for granted, as have so many others in this society. He’s intelligent, friendly, witty, and charming. Not many people can conduct an interview like he can. He has singlehandedly made the careers of dozens of comedians, and his political satire during the nightly monologue is a veritable record of American attitudes and preferences. Nobody, not even Hollywood types like Clint Eastwood and Ronald Reagan [1911-2004], avoids his barbs. Someday there will be no Johnny Carson. I’ve known this for many years, but try not to think about it. He’s a national landmark. My life is richer for his having lived and worked. [Carson retired on 22 May 1992, so I had almost five more years to watch his show.]

I miss Johnny. I miss his monologues, his repartee with Ed McMahon, his facial expressions, his skits (remember Carol Wayne?), and his interviews. Please share your favorite moments from The Tonight Show.


Here is Time magazine’s list of the 100 best films of all time. I’ve seen six of them:

Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
The Godfather (1972)
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1966)
Star Wars (1977)
Taxi Driver (1976)
Unforgiven (1992)

You will note that all of them (with the possible exception of the cartoon) involve guns. How many have you seen? By the way, it’s disgraceful that The Jerk (1979) doesn’t appear on this list. It’s by far the best film ever made.


This bill needs to be shot down. Congress has no business legislating in this area.


Are faith and doubt compatible? See here.


I found a link to this Ann Coulter column at Dissecting Leftism, which I visit every day. What really pisses progressives off about Coulter is that she’s smarter than they are.

Addendum: Will Nehs sent a link to this blog post about Coulter, who is right about the Democrat Party: It’s become the home of women and effeminate men. Perhaps we should rename the parties: the Republicans become the Masculine Party and the Democrats the Feminine Party.


This may be the greatest song ever made.

Brand Blanshard (1892-1987) on Philosophy

The philosopher who takes something to be true because he wants it to be true betrays his calling.

(Brand Blanshard, “The Philosophic Enterprise,” chap. 10 in The Owl of Minerva: Philosophers on Philosophy, ed. Charles J. Bontempo and S. Jack Odell [New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1975], 163-77, at 166)

A Year Ago



According to this author, many Hispanic-Americans are Hispanics first and Americans second. He then suggests, disturbingly, that Republicans ought to encourage this inversion of priorities.

Best of the Web Today


The Sexes

I’m not the least bit worried about this study. Are you?

Baseball Notes

1. The playoffs are set. Twelve days ago, I predicted that the New York Yankees, Cleveland Indians, and Los Angeles Angels would win their respective divisional titles in the American League and that the Boston Red Sox would win the wild card. All four teams made the playoffs, but Boston and New York switched places. (My attempt to jinx the Yankees succeeded.) In the National League, I predicted that the New York Mets, Chicago Cubs, and San Diego Padres would win their respective divisional titles and that the Arizona Diamondbacks would win the wild card. I was right about the Cubs, but wrong about the Mets and Padres. The Diamondbacks ended up winning the West Division title instead of the wild card. I also predicted that Cleveland and San Diego would have the best records in their respective leagues. Cleveland tied Boston for the best record in the American League, while Arizona had the best record in the National League. How did the rest of you do in your guesses, I mean predictions?

2. Did you see the game yesterday? For those of you who aren’t baseball fans (I pity you), let me describe the situation. There are 30 teams in Major League Baseball, 14 in the American League and 16 in the National League. (There has to be an even number in each league, so that every team can play on a given day.) Each team plays 162 games. This year, two teams—the Colorado Rockies and the San Diego Padres—tied for the National League wild-card spot. To break the tie, a one-game playoff was set. The winner would proceed to the playoffs, which culminate in the World Series, while the loser would go home for the winter. A great deal, therefore, was riding on the game. Colorado jumped out in front, 3-0. San Diego fought back to take the lead, 5-3. Colorado tied it and then went ahead, 6-5. San Diego tied it in the eighth inning. When neither team scored in the ninth, the game went into extra innings (baseball’s equivalent of sudden death). Finally, in the 13th inning, San Diego scored two runs. Will Nehs foolishly turned his television set off, thinking the Padres had won. But in the bottom of the 13th inning, facing all-time saves leader Trevor Hoffman, the Rockies rallied for three runs to win the game, 9-8. Although I wanted the Rockies to win, I was disappointed by the final play. It appeared that Matt Holliday missed the plate on his head-first slide, but the umpire called him safe. The Padres didn’t protest, so that was it. The game’s statistics counted as regular-season statistics, so Holliday, who went 2-6, ended up with both the National League batting title (.340) and the RBI crown (137). He finished fourth in home runs with 36. There’s your Most Valuable Player.

3. I was going to make playoff predictions at this time, but I’ve decided not to. Anything can happen in the playoffs, especially in the first (five-game) series. Given how my beloved Detroit Tigers finished the regular season a year ago (with five straight losses), I expected them to falter in the playoffs, but they performed extremely well until the World Series started. Instead of predictions, I’m going to tell you how I want things to turn out. I want Los Angeles to beat Boston, Cleveland to beat New York, Arizona to beat Chicago, and Colorado to beat Philadelphia. I then want Cleveland to beat Los Angeles and Colorado to beat Arizona. I then want Colorado to beat Cleveland. My preference ranking to win the World Series goes like this:

a. Colorado
b. Arizona
c. Chicago
d. Cleveland
e. Philadelphia
f. Los Angeles
g. Boston
h. New York

Feel free to state your own preference ranking. I will not approve any comment that has the Yankees ranked first.

4. In three of the past five years, the Yankees lost their first playoff series. I expect it to be four of the past six in a few days. The only question is whether the Bronx Bombs will win a game. Okay, there’s another question: whether Alex Rodriguez, “Mr NonOctober,” will stay above the Mendoza line. He is 19-79 (.240) with 16 strikeouts in his postseason career as a Yankee. In the past two years, he is 3-29 (.103) with nine strikeouts. He falls to pieces when the games get important. By the way, it’s laughable to think that A-Rod is the American League Most Valuable Player. The most important statistic in baseball (for hitters) is batting average, and Magglio Ordonez crushed A-Rod, .363 to .314. If A-Rod is voted the MVP, it will be a travesty of justice.

5. Here is a New York Times story about A-Rod’s postseason ineptitude. Key paragraph:

At the moment the Yankees lost the lead in Game 4 of the 2004 American League Championship Series, Rodriguez had a .367 career average (33 for 90) in the postseason. His average since then is .095 (4 for 42) with no runs batted in, and the Yankees have lost 10 of 13 playoff games.

As the pressure mounts, A-Rod implodes.

6. Bill James invented a statistic called “runs created per game.” In 2007, A-Rod’s RC/G was 10.4. Ordonez’s RC/G was 10.0. Barry Bonds’s was 10.2. Prince Fielder’s was 9.1. Matt Holliday’s was 9.0. When you consider that Ordonez’s batting average was significantly higher than anyone else’s this year, he’s the hands-down MVP of the American League, and would be the MVP of Major League Baseball if there were such an award.


Here is Ronald Dworkin’s latest contribution to the New York Review of Books.