Integrity 

This is just a flabbergasting quote.  

Look, I spent 13 years in newsrooms. I made mistakes. I worked with people who made mistakes.  

I’d have never made up a story. No one I worked with did it. But even if I or they did, the repercussions would have been harsh. 

You’d be screamed at, ordered to gather up your things and sent out the door. You’d lose friends. You’d have no future in the business. 

But the admissions here about the Seth Rich story that FOXnews cravenly sold to its audience are horrifying. 

While working at five Newspapers, I worked alongside people of all political stripes. Liberal, conservative, pro-life, pro-choice, libertarians and socialists. We’re there agenda’s? Yes. But they usually weren’t the agendas people assume. 

One paper did more stories on historic places and such. One paper spent more resources reporting on crime than the others. The biases came from the type of reporting the staff or editors were interested in. We’re there decisions I didn’t agree with? Of course. 

Rarely did I see a story done to push an agenda.  I’d argue lack of coverage was a more prevalent issue.  But that’s another post for another day.  

I worked with many conservative journalists. I read several reputable conservative outlets. But FOX is a disgrace to all of them.  

When we were hiring at one of the papers, I had to do the phone interviews with applicants.  One interview shocked me. A kid recommended to me by a colleague started off impressing me. Then I asked him. A softball question. “What does journalism mean to you.”

His response horrified me. “It’s a way for me to get my opinions out there.” 

Look, a real journalists answer is something along the lines of “I like telling other people’s stories.”  

Anyway, I knew I didn’t want to hire the kid.  I ended our interview pretty quickly.  I checked out his social media pages just to do a follow up. 

Every now and then someone from the right of center – or right of the vast right of center – will tell me how a newsroom works. How it’s full of liberals pushing agendas. When they describe how this fantasy newsroom works, it’s essentially what FOX news looks like when you see stories like this. 

Any journalist with their salt would question the circumstances and narrative surrounding Rich’s murder.  But they wouldn’t manufacture a story.  And if they did, they’d be held responsible. 

Last I checked Sean Hannity was still selling the bullshit and had yet to be reprimanded.  

Integrity 

State Parks are quite a marvel 

I watched this bee land on a flower in Frances Slocum State Park.

With some extra time on my hands, I’ve been taking the kids to different Pennsylvania State Parks. 

Molly has regularly expressed her surprise that I like to do this. I was shocked she was surprised about this. After 11 years, I assumed she knew I liked walking in the woods.

Then I realized this behavior, going for walks in the woods, is probably something few people who know me were actually aware of. I’d never thought about it until now, but I’d almost always done it alone.  

When I was a kid, if there was no one around to play with, I’d scamper off into the woods with a notepad and a pencil or two and draw what I saw. I didn’t do this often, but I have quite a few memories ofgalavanting  around the woods in Moosic. One time, I even ended up in West Scranton without realizing it. 

Sure, there were a few times I did it with friends. We’d go check out a pond, or rode our bikes along some paths. But those were fairly rare, if my memory is correct. 

Anyway, even in adulthood, sometimes I’d find my way into the woods and check out the wildlife. It was the same old cliches. I found it people. I liked the air. 

But rediscovering the state parks had been fun. 

Molly and the kids at one of the falls at Rockets Glenn.

We’ve visited Nescopek State Park, Ricketts Glenn State Park, Susquehanna State Park and Frances Slocum State Park recently. I have been to several others over the years as well.

We even made a trip to the original earlier this year.

The first Pennsylvania State Park was Valley Forge. Now it’s a National Park, but the state had 121 state parks. I’d like to visit every one before I shuffle off this mortal coil, but that’s not a firm goal. 

The parks are all over the state. if you’re reading this from somewhere other than Pennsylvania I’m sure your state has parks as well. They’re one of the hidden treasures of our government, often incredibly well run despite having small staffs. 

Take some time this summer to visit one. I’m sure you’ll see something that will make your trip worthwhile. 

The kids try to skip rocks at Nescopek State Park.
State Parks are quite a marvel 

One band, for a year

I heard two songs today that took me back to my childhood. I hadn’t heard either of them in at least a decade. 

The first was Chicago’s “Will You Still Love Me.” At some point I had the band’s greatest hits album and that was on it. I can remember listening to it while doing my homework or running on the treadmill.

The second was “I Want a New Drug” by Huey Lewis and the News. It’s probably my least favorite of their hits.  Even though Ray Parker clearly ripped them off with Ghostbusters, I, of course, think he improved on it. I also owned this song on their Hits album. 

Hearing them back to back, two songs I wasn’t particularly fond of by bands whose other music I liked, I had a bizarre thought. 

If I could only listen to one of these band’s which one would I choose.  I could be trite and say both bands are terrible, but I do actually like a lot of their offerings. 

I think I like Huey Lewis better, overall. I have “The Heart of Rock And Roll,” downloaded on my phone and I can listen to their songs from “Back To the Future” anytime. But they don’t have a gigantic catalogue. 

Meanwhile, Chicago has a much larger catalogue. But good god are some of the band’s songs from the mid-to-late 80s awful. For every “25 or 6 to 4” you seem to have “When A Long Comes a Woman.”

I’m not sure which one I’d pick. Probably Chicago. At the end of the year, they’d be a habit I’d be more than willing to break.  

One band, for a year

Maybe I’m a terrible father

My oldest daughter is a wonderful little sprite. She’s 3 and a complete crackerjack. Her grandmother calls her “Contrarian,” which is countered with a defiantly shouted, “I am not.”

If she doesn’t like what you’re doing as a parent, she waves her little index finger at you. It was so adorable that Molly and I both laughed at first.  Now we’re paying the price. She storms after you when she’s mad at you, with no fear of any oncoming punishment. 

That said, I can’t stress this enough: she’s wonderful and astounding 99 percent of the time. 

Today, after an episode in our dining room, in which I gently told her I expected more of her, she tore into quite a fit. 

So I tossed all expectations of proportional response out the window. 

We’re not talking about spanking or timeouts. We’re talking the mother of all bombs. Except mine was nuclear.

“That’s it, I’m telling Santa.” It’s July 28. Christmas is half a year away. 

Horror fell across her face.

“You can’t,” she yelled. “No,” she screamed. 

She flopped down on the floor and let out a guttural sob.

So I picked up the phone, dialed, waited, and said, “Santa, please.”

My 5-year-old son on the couch, gasped.  

I had a back-and-forth with Santa on the phone.  Which included, “Oh, I’m not sure Minnie has to go on the naughty list… I understand. … she has to be good.”

It was then that an unexpected thing happened.

Minnie, squawked. Like a 2-ton, monstrous eagle, she squawked twice and said, “No!”

I looked mortified. “Oh Santa, I’m so sorry. OK, I understand.”

She’d called my bluff. Now she’s sitting on the steps in timeout, screaming, “Bad Santa!” “Bad Santa.” 

I’m terrified of what she will be like in nine years. 

Maybe I’m a terrible father

Vanity Fair has a terrifying story about the Department of Energy

In Lin-Manuel Miranda’s brilliant “Hamilton,” there’s a moment when, after they’ve won the first election and are trying to set up the government, George Washington turns to an exasperated Hamilton with some sage, pithy advice. 

“Winning is easy, young man. Governering is harder,” the father of the country states. 

It’s a lesson that has proved more true over the centuries.  As the country grew and solidified, as technology changed the game, and as the capabilities of government expanded, that axiom has deeper meanings. 

Then we got Trumped. A lazy, purposefully ignorant malcontent surrounded himself with likeminded troglodytes and was given the opportunity to govern. 

Well, Michael Lewis over at Vanity Fair has quite the story

It’s one that every trump voter should have to read. Maybe they’ll realize how much they’ve broken the country. How much they’ve put our safety at risk. Many, likely, aren’t smart enough to care. Many, clearly, aren’t patriotic enough to see the consesquences they’ve wrought. 

Some of the nuggets in here are deeply worrying in how much nihilism they show. 

After Pyle’s list of questions wound up on Bloomberg News, the Trump administration disavowed them, but a signal had been sent: We don’t want you to help us understand; we want to find out who you are and punish you. Pyle vanished from the scene. According to a former Obama official, he was replaced by a handful of young ideologues who called themselves “the Beachhead Team.” “They mainly ran around the building insulting people,” says a former Obama official. “There was a mentality that everything that government does is stupid and bad and the people are stupid and bad,” says another. They allegedly demanded to know the names and salaries of the 20 highest-paid people in the national-science labs overseen by the D.O.E. They’d eventually, according to former D.O.E. staffers, delete the contact list with the e-mail addresses of all D.O.E.-funded scientists—apparently to make it more difficult for them to communicate with one another. “These people were insane,” says the former D.O.E. staffer. “They weren’t prepared. They didn’t know what they were doing.”

Or bizarre. 

But there was actually a long history of even the appointees of one administration hanging around to help the new appointees of the next. The man who had served as chief financial officer of the department during the Bush administration, for instance, stayed a year and a half into the Obama administration—simply because he had a detailed understanding of the money end of things that was hard to replicate quickly. The C.F.O. of the department at the end of the Obama administration was a mild-mannered civil-servant type named Joe Hezir. He had no particular political identity and was widely thought to have done a good job—and so he half-expected a call from the Trump people asking him to stay on, just to keep the money side of things running smoothly. The call never came. No one even let him know his services were no longer required. Not knowing what else to do, but without anyone to replace him, the C.F.O. of a $30 billion operation just up and left.

A reminder that we’re just seven months into this thing and these types of stories are already leaking out. 

This is not a trivial exercise, and to do it we rely entirely on scientists who go to work at the national labs because the national labs are exciting places to work. They then wind up getting interested in the weapons program. That is, because maintaining the nuclear arsenal was just a by-product of the world’s biggest science project, which also did things like investigating the origins of the universe. “Our weapons scientists didn’t start out as weapons scientists,” says Madelyn Creedon, who was second-in-command of the nuclear-weapons wing of the D.O.E., and who briefed the incoming administration, briefly. “They didn’t understand that. The one question they asked was ‘Wouldn’t you want the guy who grew up wanting to be a weapons scientist?’ Well, actually, no.”

Sweet Jesus, what the hell is going on?

Look, I don’t think it’s possible for a president to be as bad as James Buchanan or Andrew Johnson. 

Until now, I really wasn’t sure a president could be as bad as Warren Harding. Seven months in and we’re there folks. We’re there. 

Vanity Fair has a terrifying story about the Department of Energy

Brooks Robinson, Defense and Ranking the Best Third Basemen

Let me start by stating I hate arguing against a player. I much more enjoy arguing for a player. This is especially true when it comes to one of the absolute classiest guys to ever put on a big league uniform. But I mentioned on Twitter that the top three third basemen of all time are Mike Schmidt, Eddie Matthews and Adrian Beltre. 

People assumed I forgot a legendary Oriole. 
Brooks Robinson is the greatest defensive third baseman in Major League Baseball history. That fact is inarguable. Statistically, he’s probably the most valuable defensive player – non catcher – the game has ever seen.

Does that make him the greatest third baseman of all time? 

No! It might not even make him one of the top five third basemen of all time.  

Surely, this writer is crazy, you say. 

Well, let’s just look at the facts and we’ll start with the first of two questions.  

The first is a simple one. Do we define the greatest third baseman by just looking at defense? No. Here’s a valuable thought experiment: Who are the ten greatest first basemen in history? Wait, I thought we were talking about third base? We are, but just follow this exercise.  What names popped into your head when asked the best first basemen of all time? Surely Lou Gehrig popped in there. Your probably thought of Albert Pujols and Jimmie Foxx. Maybe Willie McCovey, Eddie Murray and Johnny Mize are on your list.

Did you think of Keith Hernandez? Stop laughing! Of course you didn’t think of Keith Hernandez.  But he’s the greatest defensive first baseman. So no, we don’t just look at defense when we talk about the “greatest third baseman.” If we were looking at defense,  we’d be asking who “the greatest defensive third baseman” was. We’d be adding that qualifier. 

Now, let’s look at the second question.  How much should defense play into the equation? Well, it’s half the game. 

I’m not so sure if is. I’m not so sure you’re sane. Bare with me here.  

The game is played half defensively and half offensively. Some positions take more toll on one aspect of the game.  We’re never going to judge the best pitcher arguments by whether or not Randy Johnson had a better OPS than Walter Johnson.  And catchers have to heavily rely on defense.  We certainly grade center fielders more for their defense than left fielders. 

But by how much? Well, consider this question: does a third baseman have more chances to impact the game defensively or offensively? 

Statistically, this has an easy answer. 

Mike Schmidt had 10,062 plate appearances and 6,949 chances in the field. That’s 1.4 times at bat for every play in the field.*

George Brett had 11,625 plate appearances and 5,307 chances in the field. A 2.1 ratio. 

Chipper Jones had 10,614 plate appearances and 4,829 chances in the field. A 2.2 ratio.

Brooks Robinson had 11,782 plate appearances and 9,165 chances in the field. A 1.3 ratio. 

Wade Boggs had 10,740 plate appearances and 6,025 chances in the field. A 1.8 ratio. 

Every Hall of Fame or Hall of Fame Caliber third baseman had similar ratios. Defensive gems like Robinson, Schmidt, Scott Rolen and Santo were in the 1.3-1.4 ratio, with Robby leading the way.

Again, this doesn’t measure a batter’s defensive prowess, but it shows you how much more, statistically speaking, offense matters. 

Now, we know the game isn’t played on a stat sheet. A great defensive third baseman can affect an opponents game plan.Robinson, Schmidt, Rolen and Craig Nettles aren’t going to face as many bunts as Boggs and Mathews are.  

But a dominant offensive player affects the game plan of the other team too. The batter’s behind Boggs had the benefit of hitting with a guy who was on base .400 percent of the time. And guys who batted in front of Schmidt and Matthews saw more pitches over the plate because no pitcher wanted to walk the men before those potent bats.  

So when you really delve down into the facts, we know for sure that Brooks Robinson is the greatest defensive third baseman in the game. He was also fairly competent with the stick, launching 268 homers and 482 doubles while posting a .322 on-base percentage while playing a great portion of his career in a pitcher dominated era. 

But aside from a few seasons, he wasn’t that dominant offensively.  

His career high for on-base percentage was .368. That’s lower than the averages for Wade Boggs, Chipper Jones, Mike Schmidt, Dick Allen, Eddie Matthews and George Brett.

He scored 90 runs in a season once. Boggs had seven straight 100-run seasons. Mathews had 10 consecutive 90 run seasons. Ron Santo, whose career was during Robinson’s, did it four times. He also doubled Robinson’s 100-RBI seasons, 4-2. His batting average is 60 points below Boggs’ almost 40 points below Brett’s and Jones’ and 20 points below Beltre’s.

Brooks had one season slugging above .500 (.521 in 1964). Dick Allen, Chipper Jones and Mike Schmidt slugged better than that for their careers. 

Some people will argue about Robinson and Schmidt being the best third baseman of all time. But the more you look at the facts, you realize his slightly better than average offense (a 104 OPS+, five season of an OPS+ above 120) hurts him a lot in the Greatest Third Baseman of All Time argument. 

I’m not alone in having Robinson outside my top 5. I think he’s probably 8 or 9. I might even go as high as 7. 

That’s where Bill James has him in his 2001 “Historical Baseball Abstract.” James has him behind Schmidt, Brett, Mathews, Boggs, Home Run Baker and Rob Santo.

Jay Jaffe’s JAWs rankings has him eighth behind Schmidt, Mathews, Boggs, Brett, Belte, Jones and Santo. JAWs looks at a players WAR for their career and their seven best years and averages them out. It’s a pretty efficient way to look at it. 

*of course fielding stats are inherently flawed a bit, Moreno than their offensive counterparts. 

Brooks Robinson, Defense and Ranking the Best Third Basemen