Monday, October 31, 2005
Lordy lordy, it's a Supreme Court Revival!
Honestly, we shouldn't really care about what this guy looks like. It's especially disconcerting when you hear democrats like Harry Reid saying that he's disappointed that Bush didn't pick a woman, or a hispanic, or a hispanic woman to the court. It's talk like that that make liberals seem like morons- that all that really matters to us is having a rainbow of skin color on the Court, and that if there were 5 men, 4 women (or vice versa), 4 whites, one hispanic, one asian, one black, one native american, and one indian, this country would be set for years.
No, what the democrats should be complaining about is the fact that he's not a moderate- that people call him Scalito, that he's anti-choice (I'm not sure how I feel about that phrase). But we'll see, obviously. It looks like he's definitely an originalist, obviously, because of the Scalia comparisons and his past rulings.
The question is, will he try to be like Roberts and get through confirmation by repeating the mantra "I'm here to judge, not to legislate" twenty times a day? Or will he show himself to be a more forthcoming candidate? I don't know, but it's clear to me that Bush simply picked the most conservative candidate that would likely not be regarded by the left as a right-wing radical. And therefore Alito will make it in. "At least he's not Priscilla Owen" can be our silver lining.
And this is the kind of pick I was expecting when Bush won in 2004. Just a regular, conservative Justice who's probably going to let a republican congress do its thing but vote against more liberal laws as being "not what the founders intended." But, in the end, as long as no more Justices step down in the next 3 years, I think that the court will certainly have shifted to the right, but it's really not that bad. Right?
Sunday, October 30, 2005
Iraq Update 10-30-05
But Bush does have on newsworthy event from which he can justify his continued policy in Iraq on the basis of progress towards a Democratic and Free Middle East. On October 15, the Iraqi people ratified a Constitution. Is this a step towards democracy in the theoretical sense? Yes. Democratic governments need legal documents and rules on which to base the power relationship between the elected, the law, and the people. Unfortunately, upon taking a closer look at the facts surrounding the Constitution and its passing, I have come to the conclusion that this “progress” is in fact an empty step towards an independent Democratic Iraq. Almost as importantly, the Constitution in no way represents a step towards insuring that 2,000 American deaths does not become 3,000 American deaths sometime in 2006.
First of all, the actual document is weak and in many ways, unlike a proper constitution in that it attempts to include legislative actions in its content. The American Constitution serves two functions; to outline the powers and duties of the branches of government and to grant personal individual rights to its citizens. But the Iraqi Constitution goes further: guaranteeing healthcare and education, protection of the disabled, prohibiting violence in the home, and strangely, constitutionally mandating that the Iraqi government encourage development of the private sector. The Constitution also declares oil a public good, (probably a good thing,) declares that oil should be used for the “greatest benefit of the Iraqi people,” (a good thing) through “relying on the most modern techniques of market principles and encouraging investment.”
Excuse me? Since when did insuring investment in oil through free market principles have anything to do with creating a government? Let’s not be stupid here. “Investment”= foreign investment, since international companies (for example, Halliburton) will be able to offer the best contracts in the “free market.” What does that have to do with creating an effective government for the people of Iraq? Nothing. Oil policy, or for that matter economic, healthcare, or education policy, needs to be created after the government itself has been created. Some of the principles may be ok; inferring a basic “right to healthcare,” for example, but constitutions and legislation are different functions that shouldn’t be combined.
Of course, the entire concept of the “New Iraq” is a sham. In order to build a nation, you need some sort of peace and stability, which is obviously not present in Iraq, with bombs going off daily, unsecured borders, and areas dominated by the insurgency. Not to mention the fact that the ruling government’s source of legitimacy is not the people of Iraq, but rather the presence of a foreign army keeping them in power and shaping the constitutional process. The legislative qualities of the Iraqi Constitution are due to the United States’ presence, and the desire of the Bush Administration to hold Iraq as the model democracy for the Middle East. The varying forces and philosophies of the groups involved in the constitutional process also show themselves, and generally muddle the document. For example, Article 2: no law can contradict the rules of Islam (shariah), yet no law can contradict the laws of Democracy. Which is the ultimate authority here? What are the “laws of Democracy?” Are we talking Democracy such as Iran, where a Council of Religious Leaders has ultimate authority over legislation, while elections are still held? Later the Constitution invokes the United Nations as another ultimate source of authority. The whole document, like the country, is a mess.
But before the United States and or the Iraqi people go about solving these problems (and let’s not neglect the American influence on these proceedings,) the problem of the insurgency needs to be solved. For in a country without peace and order, the ultimate goal of the government will automatically face a situation where it will tailor itself to fight war, through suppression and exerting control over its peoples. Even in the present day U.S., with a history of freedom and democracy, this has occurred since 9/11. In a country without these histories that is used to ethnic war and totalitarian regime the suppression in the name of stability will be brutal for the Iraqi people. The first step is to get people to stop killing each other…then we can start worrying about Consitutions.
Thursday, October 27, 2005
Harriet Miers Withdraws; Pat Tillman redux
Alexander Hamilton, in Federalist #76, on The Appointing Power of the Executive
He would be both ashamed and afraid to bring forward, for the most distinguished or lucrative stations, candidates who had no other merit than that of coming from the same State to which he particularly belonged, or of being in some way or other personally allied to him, or of possessing the necessary insignificance and pliancy to render them the obsequious instruments of his pleasure. Harriet Miers, for example.(Ok, so that quote is not perfectly accurate. Guess which 4 words I added.)
The more I though about the Harriet Miers nomination, the sicker I got. And now that she has withdrawn herself from consideration for the Court, I feel only slightly better. Perhaps, as a practical matter, having a conservative Executive and Legislature waste their opportunity on a nominee who seems something less than a constitutional scholar and intellectual powerhouse is a comfort to the left. Maybe things would be a lot worse in this country if Michael McConnell sat on the high Court alongside Justices Scalia and Thomas, but at least we could take comfort in the notion that his decisions would be based on an understanding of the Constitution and legal history that surpasses the common individual and even the common lawyer. In contrast, the most prominently suggested reason why we should trust Harriet Miers’ judgment was her unwavering loyalty to the current President. But the foundation of our legal system rests on the independence of the judiciary, legislative, and executive branches. The core of the integrity of our laws lies in the understanding that they are drafted and passed by one governmental body, subject to the approval and enforcement by another, and always exposed to challenges by individuals who believe these two branches have failed their duties to uphold the Constitution. If these challenges become simply the reaffirmation of approval granted by the executive for no independent reason but rather based on the circularity that the executive approved it in the first place, our entire system of government is fundamentally undermined. The governed have given their consent time and again to be subject to the laws of our Government – but this consent has been predicated on the workings of a tripartite government with an independent judiciary. Harriet Miers’ nomination threatened this elemental aspect of our nation.
Of course, I ignored the other reason put forth by the administration why America should trust Harriet Miers with one of the most important jobs in the nation – her evangelical faith. Nothing needs to be said here – one look at the principles enshrined in our Constitution highlights the unsettling nature of this assertion:
Article VI, Section 1:
The Senators and Representatives . . . and all executive and judicial Officers . . . shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.She has withdrawn herself from consideration, a good thing for our government. The next nomination, however, carries the threat of being bad for our citizens.
PAT TILLMAN – DEMOCRAT! ANN COULTER – SLIME!
Pat Tillman was lauded as a hero upon his death under friendly fire in Afghanistan after taking part in the invasion of Iraq. Stu discussed this on our blog a year later, respecting Tillman for fighting for his beliefs and questioning why sacrificing a big NFL salary made him more of a hero than the rest of the troops. The right used his story to rally the country around this fallen American, the true hero embodying the American spirit, or, as Ann Coulter put it, “an American original — virtuous, pure and masculine like only an American male can be.” This image was exploited to encourage support for the war in Iraq and the broader war against terrorism.
But a few weeks ago the Tillman’s spoke out. They dispelled the myth of a Iraqi hating commando fighting for what the President said was right. His mother told the press that her son was critical of the administration, supported the war in Afghanistan but not the war in Iraq, and had a political bent more in line with uber-liberal Noam Chomsky than with President Bush – he even had a meeting with Chomsky scheduled upon his return to the States (a fact confirmed by Chomsky himself). He even called the war in Iraq “fucking illegal.”
These revelations should not change one’s opinion of Tillman as a brave soldier who gave up a high-paying job as a professional athlete to defend his country, right? None of the crucial facts changed – he took leave from the Arizona Cardinals and from a 6 month long job paying millions of dollars, rejoined his Army Ranger company, fought in Iraq, fought and died in Afghanistan, all for his beloved United States.
Ann Coulter thinks everything has changed. When told of this breaking revelation, she said “I don’t believe it” and insisted that it was just liberal agitprop, questioning whether it came from Dan Rather’s sources. This is absolutely disgusting. Does she really have such a hard time believing a Democrat could love this country enough to die for it? Does she think less of Tillman’s sacrifice because he wanted to sit down with Noam Chomsky. Does Coulter really think this war can be won with an army of Republicans?
Maybe that’s not the worst idea.
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
2005 White Sox: Champions
What's next? Since the Red Sox won last year and the White Sox won last year, there are some hypotheses and predictions to be made. And since I am a god of predictions, here are a few.
A) The Series is going in reverse order of 1918. 1918 was the Red Sox, 1917 was the White Sox and 1916 was the Red Sox again- so we're in for another Red Sox championship next year.
B)Droughts are being broken in order of length- thus, the Cubs, with the longest current drought, are up next in 2006 for the World Series champions.
C) Your Thoughts Exactly members are being rewarded for their contributions to humanity- thus, we're in for a 2006 Mariners championship.
Since I enjoy making outlandish predictions, and since the Mariners were so awful this year, let's go with C. I know it'll make Dave happy.
In the end, this was a fantastic season- leading wire-to-wire, coming close to a monumental collapse, and then destroying all comers in the playoffs, with some sick individual performances thrown in. I'm set for the next 88 years. Now if we can just get the bears (first place, by the way) to do the same...
Go-Go White Sox!
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
Ode to Battlestar Galactica
Now all I need are some new ideas. Well since I don’t have any policies in mind to enact, or Red Sox or Patriots to talk about, or the need to campaign for Atheist’s Rights, I am going to start off with an ode to the only television show worth watching today. That’s right, Battlestar Galactica.
Now in Australia, I was successfully able to wean myself off television, although I am sad to say I am regressing having moved back to the U.S. But in the times where I watched no TV, I am proud to say that I really didn’t miss it at all. I was still able to waste plenty of time on useless habits such as surfing the internet. No TV didn’t turn me into a productivity machine, but it did make me realize that many Americans, derive much of their reality from TV programs. Rather than make one’s own life interesting, we can sit around watching made-up people’s lives be interesting for us, and then discuss them as if they are our own. Therein lies the appeal of reality TV: these people could be us! Sure they are thrown into contrived situations, but their worlds are real, not fictional.
Unfortunately, this is severely limiting to the potential of humanity. Too much television, I believe, conditions the brain to be entertained, not challenged or creative. Basically, I finally understand why my parents tried to limit my television to 90 minutes a day, and only on weekends. Which of course, I chafed under as unfair, then rebelled against by watching when they weren’t home. Yet I still felt out of the loop when my contemporaries discussed GI Joe. Why didn’t my parents let me watch more TV?
Of course, the other corollary to my lessons learned in Australia, is that knowing all sorts of popular culture trivia is essentially worthless. Wasted brain wrinkles. Oh well what the hell.
That’s not to say all of television is evil. For occasionally, a show comes along with a world interesting enough, that the program transcends conventional schlock and actually becomes a piece of art, that can teach us more about our selves, as well as entertain the shit out of us, challenge us, and inspire creativity. And Battlestar Galactica (BSG) is one such show.
What makes it so great? Pretty much everything. The battle scenes. The premise. The ensemble cast especially. But there are two factors I want to focus on in particular.
The first is that the show maintains the humanity of its characters, even though they are in outer space in a galaxy far far away, by making each character unique and likable, but flawed. Some are more flawed than others, but every single character on that show has done something I haven’t agreed with, or something that pisses me off. There is no character who acts as the moral center of the show judging other’s actions, nor are past decisions or slights by people against each other forgotten or fixed at the end of a week’s program. The depth of the characters, along with the ensemble cast, allows for complex relationships to develop between multiple characters simultaneously. Unlike The O.C., where we get sick of Ryan and Marissa after a season and a half, the writers from BSG can allow these strands to develop slowly, and some to die off when need be.
The second factor, is the way in which the show challenges me on a metaphysical level. To summarize the show briefly: humans create robotic cylons, they become self-aware, they rebel, we fight them in a war etc. But as the cylons evolve to become more and more human-like the line between human and cylon becomes blurred. What distinguishes the two groups from each other? Humans in BSG often accuse the cylons of being “software.” But is the human brain anything but? The humans in the world of BSG have a complex religion, government, and developed culture. Yet the cylons share an equally strong religious fervor, which, ironically, mirrors that of real world humans (the humans on BSG are polytheists while the cylons are monotheist.) Human government: the principles of democracy, etc. often acts as a weakness, as humanity, reduced to 47,000 individuals, spends more time fighting each other about who is in charge than worrying about preserving what life they have left. The cylons, on the other hand, are united in their cause, whatever it may be.
The show, thus, is about what makes us human. I cannot tell whether the BSG writers think that humans are beings under a divine mandate from God or organized groups of carbon atoms who delude themselves into thinking they are special. It makes me question my own humanity. Rather than trying to understand the differences between cultures, humans need to focus on shared traits of humanity. We don’t need a bunch of invading robots or aliens to do it for us. Of course, another key part of BSG is that, even though humans have been reduced in numbers, they still fight over power, and religion, and principles, and control, and morality. Which is another key feature of the human race, it’s in our nature to destroy and argue over abstractions that won’t matter when we are dead.
I encourage everyone to run out to Best Buy and purchase the first season of BSG, and find some way to catch up on the first half of the second season before it resumes in January. So say we all.
Friday, October 21, 2005
In the news:
2) Bush's approval rating with African-Americans has dropped to 2 percent. No, that's not a typo- 2 people out of 100, down from 39% earlier in the summer. Obviously this is in the wake of Bush's horrible response to Katrina. But I'm wondering, why was his approval rating at 40% before Katrina? What was he doing for blacks that 39% of them approved? The bottom line is I believe that this shows that people don't care about anything the president unless something smacks them in the face to wake them up. And that STILL hasn't happened yet for most of the red states. Maybe if Bush disbands NASCAR, then we'll really see some numbers dropping.
3) Supreme Court Justices. I think John Roberts was a pretty good choice considering who was doing the choosing. He seems like a purely intellectual judge, and I believe that he will stick to his principle of simply ruling on the constitutionality of the laws that are passed, and not whether they are good or bad. At first, this irked me, and I finally realized what it was after listening to hours of confirmation hearings. I wanted the Supreme Court to legislate from the Bench, because the Supreme Court has a better track record than the Presidency or Congress (probably because they don't have to worry about reelection and popularity). But "they're" right- If Congress passes a bad law, that should be their prerogative as long as its Constitutional. And you know, coming from Bush, Roberts is probably as good as it gets.
3a) As for Miers, from what little everyone knows about her, I think is a terrible choice. At first, there was the initial relief by almost all the democrats that at least she wasn't a Scalia or Thomas. And because of this, plus the fact that most republicans will stay on Bush's side (it's too early in the term to go against him and erode even more support), she'll probably be confirmed as well. But I think she hasn't shown any inkling of being the intellectual that Roberts is, and many reports show her as being little more than Bush's lapdog (especially some weird personal letters to him). I think she might the most dangerous kind of judge- the kind that votes with their heart and their faith without really considering the issues and deeper reality underlying them. Basically, I'm accusing Miers of being stupid. That may be totally unfounded, but I think Bush is pretty stupid too, and yet, at least Bush has a cabinet and a bunch of advisors. Miers has her own views, her evangelical church, and a lifetime appointment if confirmed. And I have a feeling she'll probably turn out to be pretty far to the right in the end. But, the saving grace is, she's still only one vote, and no matter how dumb she is or is not, the worst she can possibly do is vote as conservatively as a hard-liner like Scalia. And I guess that's what I was expecting anyway.
4) As in Civilization 4, which comes out in 3 days. You should be very, very excited. I recommend picking up a copy as soon as possible.
That is all. Also, tell Dave and Marmar to get off their virtual asses and back into the blogging world. Their e-mails are on the left.
Monday, October 10, 2005
The Atheist Rights Movement
First, what is meant by atheist rights? Simply put, atheist rights are the freedom to choose any religion and not have it be used against you. It's a simple definition of equality, similar to those of the civil rights movement in the 20th century (I just like writing that, it sounds historical) and of the gay rights movement now. In that sense they are the same- just as minorities should not be denied rights on the basis of their skin color and gays on the basis of the sexuality, atheists should not be treated differently on the basis of their nonbelief in God. There are a few out-and-out anti-atheist laws on the books- I think Texas doesn't allow atheists to run for office. Those obviously have to be struck down. Other subtle things, too- like kids shouldn't be subjected to prayer in schools, creationism. And the Ten Commandments doesn't really belong in government offices, despite the universality of it. There are other things too... if you can think of any, go ahead and comment on them.
But it's not just simply religious freedom that we're after here. In mainstream America, the attitude has mainly been that- "We don't care what religion you choose as long as you pick one." It's the kind of attitude that had a FEMA spokeswoman saying "A prayer is not necessarily religious. Everybody prays". (which the article points out, offends both atheists and religious people. Nice job.) And it's the kind of attitude that put the words 'under God' into the pledge of allegiance; and that lets Bush Sr. say things like- "No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God."
But we can't, as atheists, pretend that this fight is the same as the ones that will come before it. And I say 'will come', because it isn't our time yet. In a time when intelligent design is still on the debate table, and gay rights are still being questioned, we can't possibly think the US, or most of the world, (though I hear the Czech Republic is nonreligious), is ready to let godless heathens in as equals. It's why we as atheists, and as human beings, should be concerned about things like gay rights even though we may not be directly affected by them. And it's why people who were involved in the Civil Rights Movement should be able to see that this is all just more bigotry. But it isn't that simple. While there are parallels, there are differences too.
The gay rights opposition points to the Bible as its fallback position. Nowhere in the Bible does it say we should disrespect blacks or hispanics. But it does point out that homosexuality is a sin, and that's good enough for them. The Bible is the end of the argument. And, they add, it's not like we are locking them up and punishing them- all we are doing is 'preserving the sanctity of marriage'. So it's easy to rationalize denying gay marriage. But just becaues you're violating a small portion of someone's rights doesn't make it OK. And that's the same fight that atheists will have to fight later on, because we aren't being actively oppressed like the blacks were in the 1950s.
But even gay marriage is a rallying point for both gays and right-wingers- it allows them to fight over something. That isn't something atheists will necessarily get. It's hard to fight against invisible ceilings. And in that regard, I believe that the atheist fight will mirror the feminist fight still going on right now. In large part, there are few barriers to women's rights in the US- women are in the Senate, House, CEOs of major corporations, etc. But there still exists an undercurrent of resistance to the ideal of full equality for women. It's why women still only get paid something like 76 cents on the dollar compared to a man. It's why there isn't a closer to 50-50 split in Congress, and it's why female executives can't get promoted at points. I think atheists will run up against the same type of resistance. There's no law that says an atheist can't be President- but nobody sane would bet on that anytime soon.
Lastly, there's an issue of fairness. It could never be argued by a modern person that minorities or women deserved to be discriminated against. But that very argument will be posed against atheists. In fact, they will put forth the argument that discriminating on the basis of belief is the only fair test- that they are judging what's on the inside, not what is superficial. It's an argument put up only lightly in the gay rights movement, because most agree that people cannot choose their sexuality. Only the really right wing condemns the gay rights movement simply because they are gay. There will most likely be a much larger condemnation of atheists for being atheist.
So we're facing a few fronts to fight against, and a lot of history lessons as well. The marginalization of our cause, because we aren't really denied much in the way of rights, mirrors the gay rights movement. And so does their fight against the Bible, because nonbelief is the greatest sin of all. The invisibility of this cause mirrors the current feminist movement, where there isn't necessarily a good issue to rally around. We demand that an atheist has the right to the presidency! The opposition will say; 'Sure- put an atheist candidate out there. Good luck.'
So in many ways we'll be fighting the same old fight- that of equality against an oppressive majority. But in a lot of other ways there will be new challenges, some that are still going on today. Perhaps we can learn from what is going on with civil rights now to help us later. But one thing is certain- it will be a fight. Because the one thing we do know from history is that they aren't going to give us these rights because they recognize their own bigotry. No, they'll say- atheists are different. And maybe we are, but we'll at least be ready.
Friday, October 07, 2005
Smells like.... victory
But the thing is, it wasn't because I thought we were so much better. If we lost this game, I actually didn't like our chances in Game 4 with Garland on the mound. And if it got to Game 5, the pressure would be on us. So I thought- sweep, or else!
Of course I didn't say any of this for fear of jinxing us. But ALCS here we come! Go-Go Sox!
Monday, October 03, 2005
An unbiased view of the Sox-Sox matchup
The White Sox need their pitching to hold up against a scary lineup, and the offense to scratch out enough runs. The runs are not going to come. With a team that hits at little as the White Sox, they need a key home run or two each game to get their runs, or Scott Podsednik to steal a few bases so it only takes a single to knock him in. Konerko and Dye are legitimate longball threats, but that's just not going to be enough to get through the playoffs. Counting on two guys to hit home runs every game is not going to work. Supplementing that with Podsednik getting himself into scoring position often enough for Iguchi to single him home does not make up enough ground to carry the team. There is a chance (a small one) that the Whites get past the Reds, that everything comes together for them - a few well pitched games, a few home runs, a few stolen bases followed by singles. But that will be extremely difficult to maintain to get through two or three series.
Enjoy what they give you Stu - it is all a miracle.
Prelude to a White Sox sweep
1. The White Sox will sweep the Red Sox. You heard it here first.
2. I agree to a good extent with Marmar's reasoning, if not his conclusion- you can't win on pitching alone. You need to score runs, something that the white sox have had trouble doing. but the red sox pitching has been downright atrocious at times, and I'm sorry, Wells, Wake, and Schilling just don't strike fear into anyone's hearts, not even our crappy lineup. And even if you do somehow manage to get a lead, Timlin is your closer. And you can't think he's going to be automatic. The White Sox have been good against teams that can't win without run support. And I think that the Red Sox play right into their hands with their big hitting line-up.
3. Along this line of reasoning, I think the White Sox will have to jump out to early leads, contrary to the 'keep it close and the better pitching team will win', because if the white sox have 1-run leads or are tied near the ends of games, ortiz and manny are scary guys. But with a suitable cushion, there's no need to fear them and thus we'll be more likely to get them out.
4. If North American history is any guide, the White Sox will send a bunch of smallpox infected jersseys to the Red Sox, sapping them of their numbers, and then send the survivors off to live on reservations. Oops, that may have been horribly racist. I apologize.
5. In any case, I think the scores of the three games will be as such: 5-1, 6-3, 8-0.
6. As for the top-level hater comment, all I can say is that you're the one that hates both the Yankees, for winning a lot, and also hates the Cubs, for losing a lot and still having fans. Maybe you haven't thought of this yet, but have you considered that it's your heart that is as dark as coal?
7. Curt Schilling is born-again. And Johnny Damon is a filthy hippie.
8. Also, the Red Sox won last year. They're looking ahead to the yankees. they're happy with the rings they already have.
9. Lastly, now that you are back in the States, the Red Sox can't win, because the Universe hates you.
Time for some co-blogger animosity baby! In case you haven’t noticed over the year, I, the Marmaniac, call the City of Champions, Boston, home. Stuart, meanwhile, resides in the Windy City, after being nurtured as a youth in Chicago’s Northern Suburbs. Being the top-level hater that he is, Stuart has rejected his North Side roots and, simultaneously, a whole swath of Chicago yuppie frauds who call themselves Cub fans to embrace the less-loved Chicago White Sox. I would like to compliment Stu on correctly identifying a group of people who are underrated in their need to get hated on: Cubs fans, many of whom are not from Chicago but embrace the team as an excuse to get drunk and not pay attention to the game at all.
Let’s focus on what’s important here: The first round of the MLB playoffs. Sox vs Sox. Lim vs. Marmar. Both teams finished with 95 plus wins, yet neither could be called complete. Who holds the advantage in this sure to be titillating tilt?
Naturally the answer is, the defending champion Boston Red Sox. This answer contradicts conventional wisdom, that pitching and defense win in October over offense, and that teams who can manufacture runs through sacrifice bunts, baserunning, and grounding out to the right side maximize this skill in the postseason because runs are at more of a premium. The White Sox, with their superior pitching and defense and commitment to “Ozzieball,” would appear to have the advantage if you buy this line of reasoning.
Of course like most conventional wisdom, this logic is a pile of crap. The best pitching team doesn’t always win in the playoffs, otherwise the Braves would have six or seven championships in the last 15 years. In fact the Braves lack of success has required a modification of the “pitching wins,” theory to “power pitching wins.” Which is also a bunch of crap. The best postseason pitchers for the Red Sox in 2004 were Keith Foulke and Derek Lowe: Neither power pitchers. Teams win games in the postseason the same way the do in the regular season, through a combination of pitching, defense, and hitting. It also helps to get lucky, to have some players go through hot streaks at that right time.
If you analyze the Sox on Sox matchup, you would have to give Boston the advantage on offense, and Chicago the advantage on defense and on the mound. The weakness of the Red Sox pitching staff has been lack of a number one starter, and most importantly a lack of bullpen depth. The second problem will be alleviated in the postseason somewhat however, by moving Bronson Arroyo from starter to reliever, a role in which he has excelled in the past. Our team has lacked a reliable middle reliever to keep games close, which we now have. More Bronson means we can hyper-specialize Mike Myers and Bradford, saving them for lefty-righty matchups, and keeping them out of situations in which they are likely to fail. The scheduling of the playoffs, with days off also allows us to throw our only effective relievers, Timlin and Papelbon every game.
All this means that our greatest weakness this year, our bullpen, could become a strength. Meanwhile our offense sees its three key players, Damon, Ortiz, and Ramirez, all hot to varying degrees, with Manny being as on fire as I’ve ever seen him. Our supporting “get-on-base” crew of Nixon, Mueller and Varitek, is ice cold, however. But the starters have had a good September, with the exception of Clement, who has been absolutely atrocious and, of course, is scheduled to start both games one and five. So that could be a problem. Hopefully he can channel the spirit of D-Lowe.
Another advantage I believe we hold is Francona over Guillen. Guillen’s propsensity for small ball is another way of saying “I like to give away outs.” Francona, meanwhile, seems to step up his managerial prowess in big games. His weaknesses as a manager: not adequately rotating in young players, matter less in the playoffs, where every game is do or die. He will also protect his players, whereas Guillen has shown he has no qualms about throwing them under the bus if they fail, while taking more than his share of credit for their success.
Chicago is a good team that’s solid in most categories. But they are just that, solid. They don’t have the lineup to effectively handle Wells, Wake, and a rejuvenated Schilling (3-0, 3.70 Era in September) Their pitching is good, Buerhle particularly scares me, but we have rocked Contreras historically, and Fenway will be hopping for games three and four. The Red Sox are starting on an upswing at the right time. I say Chicago takes game one, but that’s it.
Red Sox in Four.