Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Two Faces of Major League Baseball

As a baseball fan, one of the hardest things I have had to endure was watching the collapse of the integrity of the game.  I watched the Mitchell Report, I watched players being interviewed on Capitol Hill, and I watched as the game's popularity fell to the ground.  I remember being infuriated knowing my favorite players blatantly cheated, and did not give a shit about the implications of their actions.  To the 12 year old Danny, the blame fell solely on the shoulders of those who injected themselves with any performance enhancing substance.

Now, I put much of the blame on Bud Selig and the governing body of Major League Baseball.  They knew, they watched, and they freaking loved it.


Chicks Dig the Long Ball

From 1880 until 2005, baseball had only seen the infamous 50 home run season happen 36 times.  36 times in 125 years.  Yet, in a seven year time span (1995-2002), Major League Baseball watched in awe as eighteen 50 home run seasons occurred in miraculous fashion.

As this spectacular display of power was occurring, Major League Baseball was falling behind in testing.  Other sporting events such as the Olympics had been testing athletes since the 1960s, and had tested close to 2,000 athletes a year since the 1980s.  Could Major League Baseball have begun testing their athletes earlier?  Absolutely.  Did they want to?   Absolutely not.  Why?  It's simple; chicks dig the long ball, and fans pay the bill.

The 1990s were a point in baseball history where revenues soared, and owners wanted more for their teams.  Many new ballparks were being built, teams were receiving revenues never before encountered from TV deals, and some of the greatest talent in league history was surfacing on the scene.   Why would any owner want to cut back on these profits?  So what if the players were juicing!  The owners and the Major League Baseball governing body were presiding over one of the greatest eras in baseball history.  The game needed home runs, and that is exactly what the game got.

One of the most valuable pieces of evidence to Major League Baseball's lust for home runs has been the shrinking of Major League ballparks.  As time has gone on, stadiums are now shrinking smaller and smaller, giving players the ability to hit more home runs that in the past, would have been simply a lazy fly ball to right.  The infamous New Yankee Stadium has a right field home run porch of 314 feet, with a wind that is consistently to the players back, making the wall play closer to 305 feet at most times.

Additionally, baseballs are now being wound tighter than ever.  These so called "juiced" balls assist the physics of baseball, by providing an object that is denser, increasing the power and distance created by contact with a bat.

All of this information conclusively points the finger towards Major League Baseball.  They wanted more home runs, but they weren't willing to face the music when it became obvious players were using performance enhancing drugs.  Major League Baseball wanted to have their cake, and eat it too.  Owners, the MLB governing body, and the players association were greedy, and turned a conscious blind eye to the problems of the game.

Yet perhaps the most important aspect of the steroid era was the developed culture between players, all of whom used the excuse of...


"Everybody else is doing it"

Imagine yourself stuck in Triple - A.  You desperately want to make it to the Major Leagues, but you just cant get over the hump.  Players around you just have more power, more speed, more upside, and all you have been hearing about are these new drugs.  You don't get in trouble for them, Major League Baseball does not test for them, and you get a million dollar pay raise if you make it to the majors.

Am I saying that this is morally admissible?  Absolutely not.  It is cheating plain and simple.  But the notion that the blame for the steroid scandal falls directly on the shoulders of those who played the game is ridiculous and simply inaccurate.  It is the combined culture of the governing body, the players, and the moral ineptitude of those who are greedy and arrogant that brought this horrible era to fruition.

The point of this piece is not to ask you to assume the players were innocent bystanders, but rather to acknowledge that this was a multi faceted issue involving the failure of numerous parties and interest groups.  

I will leave your thoughts with a quote that sums up my view on those who were involved with the steroid era.  God bless.

"It's still a hand-eye coordination game, but the difference [with steroids] is the ball is going to go a little farther. Some of the balls that would go to the warning track will go out. That's the difference."
- Ken Caminiti

Monday, April 15, 2013

An Argument for Term Limits in Congress

Congress (Noun) - An institution run by money, channeled through public figure heads known as Congressmen or Senators.  These are professional poker players, developed to play a game of No Limit Texas Hold'em at the expense of an entire country.

Corruption is synonymous with Congress, and unfortunately is not improving as we move forward in history.  People running for government positions are now bribed and tempted with more money than we can ever dream of, from corporations and private investors alike.  Politics is an explicitly a dirty business, one that is done by swift under the table maneuvering, and dirty foul bashing in the public forum.

What I humbly present to you now is not my idea, but one I have grown quite fond of the more I have postulated about it's ramifications.  Think about the idea of limiting the terms of Senators and Congressmen.  Seriously, think about it.  I'll get back to it in a second

One of the issues plaguing the American political system are iron triangles.  Now iron triangles are personal relationships between Interest Groups, Members of Congress, and governmental agencies.  How these relationships function is quite complex, and is simply a give and take relationship.  Interest groups give money and social backing to Congressmen, who in turn make friendly legislation to back the interest group's stance on issues.  Congressmen work with governmental agencies, who lobby for the legislation the Congressmen is currently working on.  Essentially, everyone is sleeping with the enemy with no regard to the ramifications it has on America as a whole.  The interest groups are dominant here, as they control the funds and thus the fate of members of the government.  Once you bite at the hook, you're never getting off.

Any way, my argument for term limits is rather simple.  I think that if you have lower term limits, you reduce the probability (or at least the practicality) of interest groups lobbying as effectively in the past.  Instead of developing these close friendships, lobbyists are now forced to
1)  Develop relationships quickly with new Congressmen
2)  Decide which ones to get in bed with, because that Congressmen needs to have a strong voice

Simply put, having term limits disrupts the flow of the iron triangle, and I also believe alleviates much of the gridlock in the American political system.  The cost and risk of investing in any candidate is extraordinarily high, and is something that is much more of a risk than it is now.  Long gone are the days of the career politician, the staunch liberal/conservative who retains his seat year after year, bringing little to no consensus or fresh ideas to the table.  Why would anyone oppose this candidate?  He's a sure fire victor, and his years at the table have amassed him enormous power and wealth.  Having new faces every 6 years would be an incredible breath of fresh air to Congress, while also ensuring that more people are running for the position who want to serve, and are not simply playing for a power move.

One of the arguments against term limits is that it would cause a lack of leadership in the federal government.  My retort is, "Can it get any worse?"  Like seriously, can it get any worse?  We have a Congress who, in my opinion, is starving for new ideas and rationality.

I remember reading an article in 11th grade that said "Smart men do not run for office."  Why?  It isn't a place for the smart man.  Congress right now is a place for the mischievous, for the shifty and shadowy figures playing a game.  A game that tip toes the line of legality, and a game that is destroying our government piece by piece.  All I know is, some action needs to be done.  Because eventually it is going to be too late, and we will have sat on our hands a little too long.

Congressmen:  Maximum service time of 8 years
Senators:  Service time of 12 years

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Just a Moment in Time

As I am sitting here on my computer in my dorm room, I can honestly say I did not plan on writing this post.  Call it inspiration, or deep reflection, I felt I needed to vocalize this message.

In 30 years, this will be the golden age of my life.  I will look back on these years with longing, as they are the most fun and eventful times one can have.  Yet, I look back on my college experience right now and feel...inadequacy.  Don't get me wrong, I have loved every moment I have spent on this campus, but I just think I have missed out on so much.  I should have gone to that baseball game, I should have waited to do that paper on a different night, I should have made more time for fun.  Being a great student is one thing, but honestly, I am not going to remember shit about that night I studied for microbiology or the night I wrote a paper on architecture.  What I am going to remember are the nights I spent with friends, the laughs I shared, and all of the good times.  I'm going to remember the stories, the adventures, the self-discovery associated with every day in college.

Every day is just a moment in time.  Once that moment is gone, you can never get it back.  The few seconds at 2:13 AM that I took to type these words could have been used for something else, and I know I will never get them back.  They are gone, only to be remembered by the words appearing on this screen.  So my question is, if you are not doing something you love, and something you are passionate about, then why are you wasting your time?

I believe time is the most underappreciated asset.  Think about it.  Every day you wake up with the opportunity and the ability to do whatever you want.  Every day is an opportunity to touch the life of someone else, or to grow as a person.  I feel like so often, I get caught up in trying to just get through the day.  To get through the day to get to Friday.  Or to get through class to get to the weekend.  Or to get through the school year to get to summer.  I have wasted so much precious time and opportunity by living this way, and have missed so many opportunities to do something important.

I once heard someone say that the way we live on forever, is through our interactions with others.  If you take one moment to compliment someone, to say hello, to lend a hand, to engage in conversation, or even just smile, you may have affected someones life.  And that is something that lives on forever.  By doing this, you can change a person, and this change will be carried with them for the rest of their lives allowing a part of you to live on.  I want to help more people, and I think an initiative needs to be taken that with each passing day, you take a moment to meaningfully engage another person in a positive manner.  It is something as easy as a smile.  A hello.

I want to leave a lasting legacy.  I want people to remember me for not only how I treat them, but how I make them feel.  I want to live on forever.  I want to make a difference in the wold, one positive moment at a time.  From this point onward, I pledge to never live to get through the day.  I pledge to live with passion, exuberance, and happiness.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Making the Grand Old Party grand again

Being a conservative right now is difficult.  Why?  The GOP, frankly, sucks.  The party is divided between people with extraordinarily different views, and is being run by conservative extremists.  Generally, besides poor candidate selection, this extremism has lost many voters who are attempting to jump ship to the marginally more neutral Democratic side of things.  PS, the key word in that sentence is marginally.

Yet, I happen to be one of those voters, and this issue has been bothering me for quite some time.  Then, one day in microbiology, I was surfing through yahoo when a news article came up mentioning how Karl Rove (key Republican party strategist) believed changes were on the horizon for the upcoming election cycle.  I was interested, so I looked further into the article.

Farther down, Rove discussed how the Republican Party needed to reach out to Latino voters.  His suggested solution, and I quote, is:

"We need to take our spokesmen—like Susana Martinez and Brian Sandoval, governors of New Mexico and Nevada, and Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz—and get them out there along with the rest of the party, communicating around the country,"

.........you've got to be kidding me.

Let me get this straight...your plan.......to get more Latino voters....is to send out the Latino members of the Republican Party to talk to people, which will get them to vote for you?  Are you serious???

This is the most racist, ass backwards idea I have ever heard of.  That's like saying that we should send caucasion members of Congress out around the country to get the white vote.  Or Asian members of Congress to get the Asian-American vote.


And this is the problem with the Republican Party.  If you want the Latino vote, you're going to need to listen and act on pertinent issues, and that is how you get someone's vote.  I don't care how many Latino senators you send out, you need to stop and comprehend what the Latino voters desire.  And trust me, there are many different members of Latin-American society who represent diverse interests, and want different things from their environment.

Want to know why Barack Obama received the overwhelming African American vote?  Because African Americans believe that he understands the issues and desires of the African American people, and that he is willing to lobby and act on their behalf.  Those who believe that he received this vote SOLELY due to his ethnicity are blatantly racist and closed-minded.  Surely his ethnicity played a partial role, but his policies and opinions are those that represented these voters.  Mr. Obama managed to energize an entire voting profile who's votes in the past were not cast whatsoever.  He energized them and made them believe in what he was trying to accomplish.

So how can the Grand Old Party become grand again? 
By listening.  By shutting up and understanding the current social climate of the American people and implementing that climate into the cornerstone of their platform.  By doing so, the party will become a lot less radical, and gain large amounts of voters.  Additionally, the stereotype of the Republican Party must be changed from that of a bunch of cranky old caucasian men, to a diverse crowd of young, energetic, diverse, and revolutionizing members who will drive the party forward.  Only then can the Republican Party truly thrive.

This article is written by a Conservative-Independent who would like to vote conservative again.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Distribution of Wealth in America

I guess this sort of thinking started this past fall, corresponding with the presidential election.  I go to a University that is highly conservative which is a good thing because I have conservative views as well.  But this political election, to be honest, really upset me because of the misunderstanding of economics.

I still am rather new in my economic understanding, so forgive me if this sounds really simplified.  Actually, screw that.  It's my blog and I'll do whatever the hell I want.

Okay, so my issue with the past election has been the notion that President Obama practices a redistribution of wealth system, and that Mr. Romney and other conservatives do not.  This is not true. Both parties redistribute wealth among the country, but manage to do so in different ways.

Liberals attempt to achieve this by a progressive tax, which takes a greater % of wealth from rich and gives it back to the poor through numerous social programs, such as welfare.  Conservatives do the same thing, but they do this by lowering taxes for the rich in an attempt to create savings which can be reinvested back into their respective companies.  The hope is that the company will be more profitable, and employ more workers.  My issue with this system is that people have a marginal propensity to save, meaning, that given $10, people will save $5 and spend $5.  This means that the money saved by this wealthy individual will not all be reinvested back into the company, because a portion of it is saved or spent by the owner.

This is, in fact, a redistribution of wealth. The issue with both is that the liberal plan funds those who are not working, and the conservative plan is inefficient while posing little incentive to invest money

My proposal is one that is simple, but ultimately effective.  I believe that there should be a flat tax, and that the government should not impose a higher tax on individuals just because they are wealthy.  Whether you make $500,000, or $40,000 your tax rate should be the same.  A separate tax rate is like saying if you get a speeding ticket, the amount of money you pay should be different according to your economic well being.  Simply put, that's a whole lot of bull shit.

Additionally, I think those on welfare should have to work in some fashion to earn their welfare paycheck.  There has to be some sort of government infrastructure we can send people to work on that others do not want to do.  Possibly something with agriculture to keep food prices down, and keep efficiency levels high.  That way, it is a self sustaining system which can create profit and induce desire for work.