Toronto beats Baltimore’s worst pitcher in an elimination baseball game because the save is an awful, awful stat that should perish in a radioactive fire

I mean, I could just make several rude jokes based on Orioles manager Buck Showalter’s name, but let’s cut to the chase. The save is atrocious. Bullpen usage is usually awful because of it. It may not be the worst stat in sports, but it’s on the short list. Even hockey’s +/- (drink!) hasn’t caused such misery as using the closer only in “save situations.”

Edwin Encarnacion may have still bombed one off of Zach Britton, of course. Ed is a great hitter, and Britton did give up that other homer… that one single solitary home run, against Boston, all the way back on April 11th. Strange things can happen. For that matter, Encarnacion may have just blooped in the winning run from third. In that situation, the home team only needs to be better or luckier on one pitch.

So, if that happens to your best pitcher, you say that they beat your best and they deserve it. Instead, Encarnacion got to face Ubaldo Jimenez, who was an all-star in 2010 and a bottom-rotation guy ever since. This is somebody whom Buck Showalter would not trust in the playoff rotation, so why would he trust him in a tie game, during extra innings, with runners on base, when a loss ends the season?

All because of the save. Instead of using your best pitchers in high-leverage situations – say, with the season-ending run standing on third base against the heart of the opponent batting order – it’s become necessary to only use them in a spot where a lesser pitcher could serve just as well.

How incomprehensible was this? Let me put it this way: my teammates and I were watching on TV before our own hockey game started. We went down to play just after the Toronto fan lobbed a beer can at a Baltimore fielder; we came back just in time for the TV announcers to show Encarnacion’s June 10th walkoff against the Orioles before watching him hit the next baseball halfway to Mars. (That’s every broadcaster’s dream – to show footage like that and then have it repeat itself live so they can look all smart and prophetic.)

I showered, went home, walked the dog, hit the hay… and only when I woke up this morning did I find that Baltimore kept its best reliever in the clubhouse the whole time. I assumed Jimenez was in because Britton had pitched already. Why wouldn’t he? If Baltimore wins, they have today off, so Britton would presumably be available to get three outs on Thursday.

Nope. Gotta save him for that SAVE SITUATION! Only now it will be in April. Hope he’s fresh.

Back at the Hive 1.0 I talked about reforming the save. (Item three here.) Do it, Mr. Manfred. It’s time to end our long national pastime nightmare.

PS – Maybe Wade Miley is worse after all. Maybe Buck was saving him for the twelfth inning. 

There is no content, only SNUL

My laptop has shuffled its mortal coil, and a replacement costs more than I’m budgeted for right now. Posting via mobile (like this) is something of a challenge – the app is fine, but typing on a phone or tablet is a bother, even a simple post… never mind a multi-part epic like my last bit on the Bill of Rights.

I’ll keep sending small updates like this one, as possible. Thanks for your patience.

The Amendment Story

People of my generation will be very familiar with this brilliancy from the writers of the Simpsons:

It would benefit the sitters-in of Congress to take a look, perhaps – no doubt they can lounge back on their pillows, watching on their smartphones while munching all the goodies provided them. For those few of us already here, however, it might help to take a look at the actual Bill of Rights all over again, to see why these principles are too important to trample over in a rush.

At this point, we’ll get an important retort out of the way – “Where were you when this was about the Patriot Act, huh?” The short answer is, I wasn’t blogging yet; I didn’t open Hive 1.0 until late September of 2004. (Post One, for what it’s worth.) The longer answer is, I was in favor of it at the time, though I opposed the Department of Homeland Security and TSA – feeling that those were needless duplications of functions better-handled by the Department of Defense – but as it turns out, the warnings about it look like they’re coming true. I also note, ruefully, that the very people so convinced then of the dangers of such surveillance and infringement are precisely the same people guilty of expanding those abuses; perhaps they knew they wouldn’t be able to control themselves if given such power? And perhaps that explains why they think no legal gun owner can be likewise trusted to his own defense?

To sum up – either you were wrong about PATRIOT, in which case you shouldn’t support this nonsense, or you were right about it, in which case this is exactly what you were warning us about. Now back to our story, below the fold…

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First things First

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Amendment One – Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

This is the grandaddy of them all, as Keith Jackson might have said in 1787. The Constitution proper outlines everything the citizen can expect his new central government to do; immediately following is a provision that broadly outlines the sorts of activities that a citizen can expect this government to protect and respect.

Note – not permit. There is no permission to be had. This is something a person can do merely by virtue of being a person. You have the right to worship as you please, and speak your mind, and print your ideas and distribute them, and gather with those of your own choosing, and you especially get to appeal to your new government when someone else forbids you any of those things – and especially if the new government is the one doing the forbidding.

That’s a lot to go over. All at once the State is made subordinate to the citizens – deriving their just powers from their consent, as you recall being quoted from the Declaration. Further, the will of the government as expressed in the law is not regarded as automatically superior to religious practice. The well-known “wall of separation” Jefferson referred to in his letters was not meant only to protect the State from any Church, but also the reverse. It was a guarantee that the government would not make laws interfering with the practices or particulars of any sect, nor to make one official over the others. (This reinforces the provision in Article VI of the Constitution proper that “no religious test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”)

Regardless of faith or lack thereof, we also have the inherent right to speak our mind. I’ve spoken a lot about this in other contexts, especially when it comes to those who, while not bound by the First Amendment, unwisely decide to use social pressures and other tools to make sure that those whose ideas they dislike are never given a hearing. Such things are perhaps a necessary consequence of liberty, since obliging somebody to sit and listen to me is just as bad as obliging me to shut up already. Nobody is forced to give a platform to anyone else. But the habit of silencing leads too easily to the loud demands that somebody in charge take it upon themselves to do the silencing for you; we’ve seen it repeatedly with mobs attacking a political rally in San Jose, state universities permitting protests to shout down or drive off disfavored speakers, and official punishment to those who invited those speakers (but none to the silencers).

This is a dangerous road, and a good enough reason for us to be wary when a large social platform selectively punishes only certain viewpoints.

Finally, we tiresome free peoples have every right to bug our elected officials about doing the jobs we’ve delegated to them, in the manner we direct. We can *peaceably* assemble to tell them so. In fact we can peaceably assemble to do most anything else, too – play disc golf, have a large choreographed dance number, play human chess, set a record for the largest cookie ever cooked in Kankakee County… you name it. And that doesn’t sit well with the gatekeeper personality…

Just a Second

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Amendment Two – A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

The bete noir of the moment, subject to all sorts of misconstruals and derision; but considered to be a fundamental and unalienable right of humanity. Why?

Well, it’s not the gun. One very foolish meme is that “I wish I had as many rights as a gun.” But of course the gun is a thing, and it has no more rights than a potato or a pine tree or a saltwater aquarium. Remember, we are the people, therefore we have the rights. One of those is the right to lawful self-defense. Hence, the gun.

It’s easy to bog down in debating what, exactly, is proportionate self-defense, but that’s an issue that must rely on the primary right, which is that we need not be passive targets. Just because you can’t shoot your neighbor when their yappy Yorkie piddles on your hyacinths, doesn’t mean that you have to sit helpless when some armed brigand tries to kick in your door. Long before there were any laws, governments to make them, or societies to require them, there was the simple fact – Ogg wants to club you and take your fire, your mate, and your bearskins. Unless you want to be unconscious, cold, lonely, and nude, you had better do something about it.

Beyond this, however, there is another consideration. We’re telling a story right now, and the first Amendment has set us up with a beautiful premise – we, the heroes, have all these rights, and we have a land we’ve set up specifically so that we promise that we will respect these things… not just from person-to-person, either, but when we exercise authority in the form of laws. Those laws will not infringe these rights.

People are, however, sneaky and greedy; they may well decide to ignore this respect and try to use the laws to get their way. After all, agreement or not, they’re in charge now. So they’re going to break up our pizza parties, close our dance clubs, outlaw our doctrines, burn our books, and we’re going to shut up and like it. What are the heroes going to do about it? It’s not like the bosses in charge are required to listen to our redress for grievances after doing all the rest, nor are they likely to act on those grievances.

Well, ultimately – and as strange as it sounds to our 21st-century ears – they had darned well better, because the right to self defense includes defending yourself against your own government. Logically, it must include this, or else the only thing preventing the destruction of your rights and the premature end to our story is if one group manages to get themselves into a public office.

And that’s how the right above comes into play. Because a free state requires a well-regulated Militia, your right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. That doesn’t mean that you, the citizen, must submit to regulation of your rights, either. The Militia – the people assembled for their own defense – needs regulating. We don’t want a mere mob. But a disarmed Militia is no practical use either. Where law and order has broken down entirely and the local police are overwhelmed, we’re back to the land of Ogg… only this time there’s fifty of him and they’re looting and burning the entire town. That’s when the Militia – a well-armed and disciplined people – assemble, and in concert exercise the right of self-defense on behalf of themselves and the defenseless. Such an ability is inestimably valuable.

Three is a Magic Number

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Amendment Three – No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war but in a manner to be prescribed by Law.

This one, at least, seems to be rather a moot point. We don’t generally have the Marines knocking on our doors looking for a billet. But this was one of the chief complaints of the colonists to the Crown back in 1776:

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world…

I have bolded the phrase and included the context in order to make it more plain why, exactly, this was a big deal to the colonists, and would be to us if it were happening now – this “pretended Legistlation” would obviously be of no import, a dead letter, if it were not enforced. To that end, the armies of King George were called in, and were not only putting punishment behind the hated Acts, but also hindering open trade via their navy, and all while shielded from accountability under the law.

The colonists rightly hated this, so much so that the United States seriously debated whether they should have a standing army at all, or merely that well-regulated Militia to call upon at need.

Further than that, however, remember the thesis that we’ve been developing so far – these Amendments are laid out as a story, building upon one another, setting a scene and then raising the stakes, leading us through complications to a resolution. You can worship as you like, say what you please, not only criticize your elected officials but also gather to protest them, to haul them before the law if need be. If they ignore this, then you have the right to defend yourself and your rights with armed force if you must.

The government, of course, while nominally respecting these rights, can render them a dead letter in much the same way George III did long ago, by having soldiers forever in amongst the people. How can you organize to speak out or defend yourselves with the state’s armed informants sitting at your dining room table and blockading your ports and roads? The witness of dissidents in communist regimes should tell you all you need to know about how that generally works out – silenced, disarmed, herded into work camps, unable from fear to reach out to anyone else, no matter how trustworthy, because you might be overheard.

So, what might a cunning and devious would-be tyrant try next?

Fourscore and Seven Laws Ago

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Amendment Four – The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause; supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

OK, so far so good. You can say what you like, protect yourself, and the army’s at a proper length instead of drinking your milk from the carton and putting their boots up on the coffee table. But of course, you still need an army, and a local police force, and they have to be able to investigate crimes and punish the guilty.

So now, in the guise of such investigations, they come barging in every few days, early or late, or else wait until you’ve gone and then waylay you. “Just checking,” they say. “If you’re not guilty you have to reason to worry!” No reason, of course, except that even though they don’t actually live with you, they’re such frequent guests that you can’t live your life, and you can’t make any protest without them showing up to “investigate” you a bunch more. Nor will anyone else back you up, since they don’t want to have regular visits of their own.

Enter the Fourth Amendment. You have the right to be free from being harassed, harried, hounded, and otherwise hassled by the powers that be. Their authority to do their job in protecting the law is itself bound to be lawful, requiring such things as probable cause and specific details. The protections of our rights build one upon the other in this manner.