This Day In Baseball- 50 Years Ago

September 29, 1967 is the antepenultimate day of the last and perhaps greatest pennant race in history. Four of the ten teams in the American League (AL) still have a chance to win the AL pennant: Red Sox, Tigers, Twins, and White Sox.

First, we need a little league history. From the first World Series in 1903 until 1968, the American League and National League (NL) pennant winners faced off in the World Series. There was no World Series in 1904 and 1994. There were no other levels of playoffs until 1969. From 1901 through 1960 there were eight teams in each league. In the early sixties the AL added the Angels and the new Senators. The new Senators would be come the Rangers in 1972. The erstwhile Senators became the Twins. The NL added the Mets and the Astros (who are now in the AL).

Second, we need a little team history. The other three teams were expected to contend for the pennant in 1967 but the Red Sox were not. Since moving from Washington six years ago the Twins had been near the top of the AL most years. Most recently they lost an epic World Series to Sandy Koufax and the Dodgers in 1965 and finished second in the AL in 1966. The Tigers finished fourth in ’65 and third in ‘66. The White Sox finished second in ’65 and fourth in ‘66. The Red Sox had not been above 500 since 1958 and even worse lately. They finished ninth in 1965 and tied for ninth in 1966. When Vegas offered odds of 100 to 1 to win the pennant it seemed like a sucker bet.

Third, scheduling 162 games for ten teams led to weird stuff. No AL team played on September 28. Only four of the ten AL teams (Athletics, Senators, White Sox, and Yankees) played on September 29. Then after two days off for the Angels and three days off for the Tigers they played doubleheaders in Detroit on both Saturday and Sunday.

On Friday morning, September 29, 1967 four teams, Red Sox, Tigers, Twins, and White Sox could still win the pennant and go to the World Series. The White Sox had led the AL for most of the summer, 91 days, but were now a game-and-a half back. The Red Sox, Tigers, and Twins had spent 24, 41, and 39 days in first, respectively. On Friday Pale Hose lost to Senators 1-0 as Phil Ortega made an unearned run in the first inning stand up.   This was the third loss in a row for the White Sox as they had lost a double header to the last-place Kansas City (they moved to Oakland next year) Athletics on Wednesday. The White Sox were eliminated from the race because they were two games behind with two to play and the Twins and the Red Sox were both ahead of them and playing each other. The Red Sox and the Twins enjoyed their second day off in a row while the Tigers were on their third day of rest.

At the end of the day the Twins were one game in first place and the Red Sox and Tigers were one game back but the Tigers had four games to play against the Angels while the Twins would visit the Red Sox for two so the Twins and the Tigers controlled their own destiny. The Red Sox could beat the Twins twice and still lose to the Tigers. If the Twins and the Tigers both won all their games they would have finished tied for the pennant. We are ready for Saturday.


GOP Tax Proposal

We had great fun reading Jeanne Sahadi’s article on CNN Money: Details Of The GOP Tax Reform Framework Revealed.  We have some serious comments about the framework below but first a few snippets from CNN Money that reveal the interaction of CNN and GOP.

Here are some nuggets from Jeanne with [our comment]:

And even though the administration says it wants reform to offer middle class tax relief, the framework calls for a 12% bottom rate, which is actually higher than today’s lowest rate of 10%. But typical families in the 10% bracket today “are expected to be better off” when all the changes under reform are considered together, the blueprint says.  [So why are there quotes around expected to be better off?  Is it because it comes from the framework?]


[The Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT)] was originally intended to ensure the wealthy [nope, high income as it is not a wealth tax] pay at least some tax.  [It has been a spectacular failure.]

And then:

Kill the estate tax: What Republicans refer to as the “death tax” only affects about 0.2% of all estates — and only those worth more than $5.5 million. [So it is not a death tax?  Jeanne makes strong arguments

And then:

The hope [hope?  Do you think business react to incentives or not?] is that the new system will make U.S. companies more competitive with their foreign counterparts, and that they will use more of their foreign profits to invest and create jobs in the United States.

It is just the usual tone you expect.  Now on to the serious stuff.  Our position is that we only care about business taxes in this reform period.  So the personal tax stuff seems inoffensive but we really don’t care about it.  We care about business taxes and find this proposal is a good one.

  1. It cuts corporate taxes substantially.
  2. It cuts business taxes.
  3. It switches to a territorial system.

No proposal is perfect but this is a good one.



NFL Brand; Last Time?

We really didn’t want to go here again but Jason Witlock is tarnishing the Fox brand at WSJ.  His apparently unintentionally ironic title is: [The Donald] Helps Kaepernick Drag The NFL Into Politics.  Uh, Jason, we know that Dennis Prager has already pointed this out but who was the first to politicize the NFL?  It was’t The Donald.

Jason takes seven paragraphs to insult The Donald before hitting the nail squarely on the head.  He says:

This latest [The Donald] controversy says far more about us—the media and other public figures—than the president. We have an unhealthy addiction to social-media-driven controversies, particularly ones that can be spun racially.

We agree entirely.  Without the racial angle Kaepernick’s behavior would be ignored but because of the racial issue the NFL couldn’t act and the media made a big deal of a trivial episode.  It is possible that manners were winning but The Donald jumped on one side and the media went bonkers.  Jason tries to switches sides when he says:

Let’s remember: While Colin Kaepernick’s original protest was about police brutality and the black community, the anthem kneels have largely provoked conversations about disrespecting the flag and the now-unemployed quarterback’s career. The protest has evolved again, this time into a referendum on a disruptive president.  [Emphasis added]

Not much has changed about the conversation surrounding policing and the black community. But as I wrote in these pages earlier this year, Mr. Kaepernick has shifted the way the NFL is perceived and discussed. Mr. Goodell, NFL ownership and the league’s television partners will no longer be allowed to present the game as an escape from America’s divisive political discourse. Mr. Kaepernick and his handlers cleverly dragged the league into America’s broader social-justice war.

Sidebar: We wonder if Jason found his (The Donald) immediate predecessor (HIP) disruptive?  End Sidebar.

Jason was right the first time.  The media goes bonkers over racially charged events that it can try to create a controversy.  It just adds to the media frenzy if there is a chance to beat up on some one not on the left.  The problem for the left is that when they try to intimidate large groups they only tarnish their brand.  Jason, the NFL, and ESPN have tarnished their brand while Alejandro has burnished his.



While we were writing our last post, “Damaging The Brand,” about the NFL and ESPN the NRO Editors came out with “Time Out” covering the NFL part of our discussion.  We can’t say we agree with the editors on every point but we believe that MWG and NRO are on the same page here:

Conducting this business to the tune of “The Star-Spangled Banner” has put President Trump in a comfortable position: him and the flag on one side, annoying protesters mucking up Sunday Night Football on the other.

We agree.   There is a reason why Kyle showed the giant American flag at the Giants’ game.  Conservatives like it and so do football fans.  This debate is good for The Donald and bad for the NFL. We still wish we were not having it.


Damaging The Brand

The NFL and ESPN have both damaged their brand recently.  Of all people, Holman Jenkins at the WSJ missed the ESPN version.  Another of our favorites, Jay Nordlinger  at NRO missed the NFL version.  Let’s start with Holman.

He starts with Jamele Hill as an example of the political controversy swirling around ESPN.  Holman says:

It’s time to let the average American in on a secret, especially the average sports fan, two weeks into the Jemele Hill controversy. Ms. Hill, an ESPN on-air personality, sparked a furor by tweeting her opinion that Donald Trump is a “white supremacist” and his presidency a “direct result of white supremacy.”

Holman explains that Jamele isn’t being as rude as most people think.  He says, and we agree:

Now, this epithet may not mean what you think it does. As Wikipedia or linguists or some on the disquieted left would be happy to tell you, in the mouths of “critical race theory” activists, white supremacy refers, in fact, to almost everybody and everything. CUNY’s Angus Johnston, an enthusiastic purveyor, explained on Twitter last year: “White supremacy isn’t about what is in somebody’s heart. It’s about who wields political power.”

Then, after reporting that ESPN is losing two million subscribers a year he switches to the issue of streaming sports and says Amazon etc. cannot compete with ESPN because of technical limitations.  Holman has missed the point.  ESPN has suffered substantial brand damage.  Folks are not going to research the details  of what Jamele and compatriots have said.  They feel insulted and we will see more comparisons between ESPN/NFL and NASCAR and calls to boycott ESPN/NFL.  The next negotiations between the networks and NFL should be interesting.

Over at NRO, Jay Nordlinger is upset because of some of The Donald’s comments at a rally.  We agree in part.  We wish that The Donald were less like his immediate predecessor (HIP).  HIP couldn’t keep quiet and neither can The Donald.  Here is Jay’s lead-in and quote:

Saturday, at a rally supporting Luther Strange in Alabama, President Trump decided to reignite the issue, and essentially argued that players who kneel for the national anthem should be fired: “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, get that son of a b—h off the field right now. He is fired.” [Emphasis added]

We hate to get into the literally versions serious argument but we think Jay is going too far in saying that The Donald is arguing that folks should be fired.  As we said, we wish The Donald would leave it alone.  But what he said was “Wouldn’t you love it…” The answer is that lots of fans would love it unless it was a player for their team.

Sidebar: Kyle Smith at NRO has an interesting take that Colin and his friends were losing the argument until The Donald restarted the controversy.  Kyle says:

If you’re an NFL fan, you can only be aghast at what Trump has done. His side — our side, the side that said you shouldn’t insult the flag because of the mistakes made by some police officers — was winning.

We’re not convinced on who was winning but it is an interesting take.  End Sidebar.

Our problem with Holman and Jay is that ESPN and the NFL are hurting their brand. They are hurting their brand because, in Kyle’s terms, there is much interest to make America normal again.  In addition, lots of fans are on the right.  It is easy to hurt a brand and hard to repair the damage.  The Donald recognizes that he benefits by being on the popular side of the question.  We’d prefer he and HIP stay out of these controversies.  Holman and Jay need to recognize the damage ESPN and the NFL have done to themselves.



A Good Start

We have been hard on the WSJ lately.  Holman Jenkins, jr, one of our favorites, did nothing to help their batting average.  We’ll see if we can get to that later.  Edward Kleinbard has an excellent idea about tax reform that is consistent with our thinking.  You can look it up as we don’t reference ourselves.  Edward reports that a carbon tax of $25 per metric ton would raise $1 trillion over ten years.  He starts with some assertions that are not unreasonable:

To reset the competitiveness of the U.S. tax system, corporate tax reform must be permanent and revenue-neutral. The $1.5 trillion in incremental deficits just approved by the Senate would actually cut into growth, because interest costs on new debt crowd out private investment.

We would add that the reform of corporate taxes (business taxes would be even better) must be large.  He then outlines the positions of the two parties and where the room is for negotiations:

Earlier this year Democratic Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse and Brian Schatz proposed a trade along these lines, but their plan is politically infeasible. They want a carbon tax rate that starts at $49 a ton and ratchets up annually, and their suggested 29% corporate tax rate is unresponsive to the needs of Republicans and many business leaders. This doesn’t mean a deal can’t be reached. The parties need to embrace face-to-face negotiations—not Republican leaders holed up in the White House trying to get corporate tax reform done without a single Democratic vote.

We would also insist on eliminating the gas and diesel tax so that gas is not subject to a double carbon tax. We think $49 per metric ton is high and $25 would be fine but that is the business of politics to negotiate.  A carbon tax of $49 might be sufficient to eliminate the gas tax and corporate tax.  Alternatively, the $49 carbon tax might allow elimination of the gas tax, reducing the corporate rate to 15 percent, and refunding part of social security for low income folks.  Reducing social security would keep the carbon tax from falling too heavily on low-income folks.

We are with Edward.  It is time to negotiate.  Accepting a carbon tax for reduced business taxes seems like a reasonable deal.  You elected officials should be better at negotiation than you have shown so far.

A Sorry Excuse

Mike Kaplan, the CEO of Aspen Skiing has taken to the editorial page of the WSJ to make an extra special pleading for open borders.  Obviously, open borders advocates are received with open arms at the WSJ.  Mike, however, has an extra special pleading for open borders.  He doesn’t mention workers at Aspen.  All the ski areas we have been to recently have many international workers.  Mike says that the “xenophobia” emanating from the White House is causing legal Mexican tourists to stay away from Colorado.  He gives away the real story at the start of the last sentence which we have made bold:

Last year visitation to Aspen by Mexicans dropped 30% compared with the 2015-16 ski season. Bookings for 2017-18 aren’t looking much better. There are multiple reasons, but the xenophobia radiating from the Oval Office ranks at the top. As the head of the Mexico City public-relations firm that promotes Aspen in Mexico told us, “The dollar has been strong, which makes travel to the U.S. expensive, but Trump is the No. 1 reason.” [Emphasis added]

Sidebar: One question is: should we boycott places that say such things?  We say no.  Folks can do with their own money as that see fit.  We don’t want to rule out great places like Aspen and especially for us, Snowmass, just because the CEO makes silly excuses for an off year.  End Sidebar.

The dollar was strong last season when one would cost almost 22 pesos but today it cost less than 18 pesos.  It is time for Mike to get back to work and stop worrying about The Donald.  We hope Aspen has a great year.