Monday, July 11, 2011

Budgets and pitching stats

That turned out to be one mighty fine weekend. Yes, I know that there were some scattered showers around Maine, but my little spot got nary a drop. If we did get one, it was after bedtime at night and the landscape hid it the following morning. Saturday was just an ideal day with temperatures in the 80s and virtually no humidity. Some of that humid air did begin to creep in Sunday.

This is almost a full vacation week for Gator Wife.  “Almost” only because her boss asked her, if she had no other plans, if she’d be willing to help out Monday only.  We have no other plans so she swapped the day for one later on.  Last week and this week have been our main vacation weeks ever since we were married.  But high prices and age is catching up with us so this year we’re staying home.  It will be only the fourth or fifth time GW has spent her birthday at home.

As everyone, I think, knows, there’s a giant budget battle taking place in Washington.  Time is running out as the United States could be in loan default by Aug. 2nd without a budget to pay its bills.  It’s nearly impossible to comment on the negotiations between the Democrats and Republicans.  There are times when I wonder if the problem isn’t a gigantic power struggle between Democrat President Obama and House Republican Speaker Boehner. 

The President can’t admit that perhaps it was his huge spending plans during the past few years that have strongly contributed to the current mess.  Not too many people think his massive spending was very successful.  He wants the budget outcome to include tax increases to. 

On the other hand, Speaker Boehner wants no tax increases but rather spending cuts to reduce the deficit causing the budget problems this year.  My personal political persuasion tends to have me come closer to agreeing with the Speaker.  Selfishly, however, I think there are many, many other ways to cut that spending than be reducing benefits we seniors have earned over the years.

The costs of welfare and non-citizens come to mind as places for reform, especially the latter.  Probably that same personal political persuasion could think of others, too.  But, as I say, that’s probably a selfish view.

However, unless spending is dramatically cut with no increases in taxes, we can’t get out of this recession we seem to be in.  In truth, tax cuts should be included.  They have worked in the past under Presidents of both parties.  And most of us aren't flying around in corporate jets.  What an attempt at obsfucation that argument is!

Negotiations continue.

I love baseball. Over the weekend I learned about a pitching stat that I honestly don't think I'd ever heard of before. Too many years ago when I lived in Florida, I was involved in Little League Baseball. Along with being an umpire, I maintained team statistics for the league. I never computed the stat I learned about this past weekend.

Until he retired a few years ago, I maintained the statistics for a coach friend of mine who coached a high school team. Again, I didn't know about "Held." Even when I was an umpire in Southern Maine, that statistic eluded me.

You know the pitcher on the mound when the winning run is scored gets credit for a "Win." Of course he must have gone at least five innings if he was the starter. The winning run is the one that is scored and never caught or passed. It's possible the winning run is scored in the first inning. The losing pitcher is the one that gives up a run that's not caught or passed by the other team. Thus the Win/Loss records.

The "Save" is given to a pitcher who pitches the final inning and keeps the other team from tying or scoring a winning run. There are, of course, many more factors, which I'm sure you know, but that's the idea of a "Save."

Reading the stats for the Saturday and Sunday Red Sox games, I noticed a different designation. "H." I've never seen it before, but you other baseball fans are probably just laughing at me right now. Nevertheless, the "H" is for held. The pitcher comes in with his team ahead, usually in the mid innings, and keeps the other team from tying or scoring the winner.

Daniel Bard of the Red Sox, for example, has recorded 21 H's so far this season and has 65 in his career. Other pitchers, of course, have H stats, but it was seeing that H next to Bard's name that caught my attention. In Sunday's game, Aceves was credited with the W, Bard, the H, and Papalbon, the S.

I learned something this past weekend. And anytime one learns something, it is a good time.

Speaking of pitching stats, though, it has always intrigued me that pitchers get credit for wins and losses. Baseball is a team sport. Take the other eight players off the field and let the pitcher go at it alone and he'll never get the first out.

Finally, also in baseball, I think the Boston Bean Fest over the weekend was unfortunate.  After the Friday night fiasco, the umpires had no choice but to take total control for the other games.  Unfortunately I’m not sure I agree that all the rejections Sunday were necessary.  One, perhaps, the ball thrown behind Ortiz, might have been, but the others I think were in situations where the pitcher wouldn’t want to put anyone on base intentially by hitting him.  Sometimes a pitcher just loses the ball.  But, after the situations in earlier games, the umps had no choice but to make the choices they made.  That’s just what it was.


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