Redbirds on the skids

May 31, 2012

Another rough outing for Rzepczynski. (AP photo)

On May 9th, the Cardinals were on top of the division with a 20-11 record, 9 games over .500.

Since then, they’ve gone 7-13, are now only 3 games over .500, and sit a game and a half back of Cincinnati.

What the heck happened?

Injuries haven’t helped, but as I’ve mentioned previously, the pitching, and particularly relief pitching, has let them down. Over the course of the month, the pitching staff had an ERA of (deep breath) 4.72. In the 13 losses, 7 have come when the bullpen couldn’t hold or close the game. Last night in Atlanta the Cardinals rallied in the top of the 6th to tie the game at 5 all, but reliever Marc Rzepczynski gave up 3 runs, and Jason Motte 3 more, to ice it for the Braves.

The offense kept this from going completely off a cliff. They led the league with 157 runs for the month and a big .816 on-base-plus-slugging average.

To New York for a weekend series against the Mets, who are riding a 6-4 winning streak.

Speaking of the Mets, Post-Dispatch writer Derrick Goold has an interesting little “what if?” piece, recounting the curve young closer Adam Wainwright threw to Carlos Beltran, then of the Mets, now lighting it up for the Cardinals, that froze him with bases loaded and 2 outs in the bottom of the 9th in Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS. What if, Goold asks, Beltran had connected?



It’s time to throttle up on green energy investment

May 31, 2012

Manish Bapna, acting president of the World Resources Institute and a blogger in the intersection between economics and the environment, has a very good piece on the Forbes blog, which is becoming one of my fave reads, on why we should be following the smart money and getting behind green tech and green energy production.

Mr. Bapna refers to a recent policy paper jointly published by WRI, the Brookings Institution, and the Breakthrough Institute arguing for continuing public investment in green energy, with a gradual winding down of that support as the sector matures.

One of the authors of that report, Brookings’ Mark Muro, writes in the Boston Globe about what this means for one state, although the lessons apply nationally.


So long, Doc

May 29, 2012

The music legend named Doc Watson has passed away at age 89.

“Deep River Blues”

Thanks for all the pleasure you brought to so many.


Thoughts on Memorial Day

May 29, 2012

War is no longer made by simply analyzed economic forces if it ever was. War is made or planned now by individual men, demagogues and dictators who play on the patriotism of their people to mislead them into a belief in the great fallacy of war when all their vaunted reforms have failed to satisfy the people they misrule.

Ernest Hemingway – “Notes on the Next War: A Serious Topical Letter” Esquire (September 1935)

I cringe when I hear or read about “honoring our veterans,” not because I don’t think we should, but because I know that, for the most part, that’s just hot air. As far as I can tell, with the possible exception of the original Afghanistan mission, every war fought during my lifetime – that’s going back 60 years – has been a senseless and often callous and cynical waste of the courage, skill, and lives of tens of thousands of service men and women. Then, they return home to find “honoring our veterans” is often limited to being allowed to the front of the line on airplanes or being offered free wings at Hooters on this day.

Health care – especially mental health care – is often delayed or denied. Recall, for example, how shoddily veterans who returned from the first Iraq war suffering from the combination of diseases collectively referred-to as Gulf War syndrome. Remember the Pulitzer-Prize-winning Washington Post series on the scandalous conditions at Walter Reed hospital.

Jobs can be hard to find. The unemployment rate for Iraq/Afghanistan veterans is 11.6 percent, or nearly 50 percent higher than the population at-large.

For my entire life, Americans have been in thrall to the military. Raised on John Wayne movies, I used to “play Army,” running through my neighborhood with a toy M-14 rifle and wearing the “Castro hat” my brother-in-law, who served in Germany and later in Viet Nam, had mailed to me. Read Ron Kovic’s autobiography, Born on the Fourth of July, and you’ll get a taste of what all that meant to a kid growing up in 50s and 60s America.

Politicians and ideologues love to fawn over the military, using service members as a psychic shield from uncomfortable questions or accountability. Question or oppose a decision to go to war or the manner in which the war is prosecuted, and they will pillory you as not supporting our brave men and women in uniform, even though most of them were never part of those ranks.

As a general proposition, war is a lie, a cheat, and a scam, even, as Hemingway put it in another instance, a crime. That’s why, with each speech, every parade, I have to shake my head and wonder if, as the song said, we’ll ever learn.


Just noticed – lot of talent was born on May 28th

May 28, 2012

Jim Thorpe, perhaps the greatest athlete of the 20th Century.

Ian Fleming, the creator of Bond . . . James Bond.

Jerry West, Laker great, Hall-of-Famer, and the image on the NBA logo.

Gladys Knight the “Empress of Soul.”

And singer/songwriter John Fogerty.


The passing of another bluegrass great – Doug Dillard

May 28, 2012

Doug Dillard, banjo virtuoso for the family band The Dillards, passed away last week. Just hearin’ about it.

“There is a Time,” live at the Tonder Festival in Denmark, 1999.

The LA Times has a fine appreciation.


Merrill Goozner, in Fiscal Times, reports on profits and wages

May 27, 2012

Guess which one is going up and which one isn't.

In particular, Merrill links to a commentary by IMF researcher Florence Jaumotte that notes, in part:

In many European economies, workers are not worse off after the Great Recession in terms of their share of national income. The labor share is still higher today than just before the Great Recession in many economies. Yet, in the United States and in a few European economies (especially Greece and Spain), the labor share remains well below its precrisis level.