Wednesday, December 17, 2003

A lot of IFs

Well the A’s decided not to pick up Scott Spiezio and traded for some light-hitting catcher from Montreal. Adam Melhuse is looking better all the time. Michael Barrett reminds me of Mark Johnson. Johnson Was acquired by the A’s last year in the Keith Foulke deal. He was supposed to be the guy who gave Ramon some time off and could provide some pop off the bench. He spent most of the year at triple A after getting beat out by Melhuse. Barrett’s numbers from last year are unimpressive (.208/10/30/) and he doesn’t even have the high OBP (.280), or patience (21BB vs. 37K) that the A’s usually look for.

But I’m not here to talk about catchers, I’m here to talk about infielders. First off, didn’t the A’s offer 97M over like 8 years to Giambi? But they couldn’t find 70M for Tejada, a younger player with no injury history, who plays everyday, and has been in the system since he was 16? That’s bull-shit. I was resigned to losing Tejada until I realized that the market is down and no one is getting A-Rod/ Manny numbers anymore. Tejada is just as good as Giambi at the plate, and better in the field. The A’s should have at least tried to keep him. I guess they figured that a fan base, desensitized after the departures of Giambi, Izzy, Damon, etc. would just accept the “small market” argument again. Fact is, the A’s should have been able to keep one of their top FAs. Instead the fans get jobbed again. I’m pissed. These moves had better be a precursor to some thing else (i.e. keeping Chavy, or the Big Three). For me it all goes back to MLB denying the sale of the franchise to the Dolich group. Dolich and George Zimmer wanted to turn the franchise around, stop crying about money and lobby hard for a new stadium, “I guarantee it.”

But, I digress. The point is, the A’s still need middle infield help. They cannot go into the season with untested Bobby Crosby as the starter, and Rookie Esteban German as the primary backup, and Frank Menechino who has shown he can’t handle the job on a full time basis. They need a veteran who can eat up some ABs, pinch hit, play some D in the late innings and tutor the kids. I took the liberty of looking at the available FA IFs who might be able to help. Below are their offensive stats (BA/HR/RBI/OBP/OPS/AB), followed by their fielding percentage, last year’s salary and my comments. Almost all these guys are likely to make less this year than they did in 2003.

Jay Bell: .181/00/03/.319/.504/(116AB) [.968] {550K}
--Bell is old. His offensive numbers blow, but the fact that his OBP and OPS are much higher than his average is encouraging. Also, he’s still decent in the field where a lot of younger players struggle. Not a bad, cheap, late inning defensive replacement, give a guy a day off, occasional pinch hitter type. Did I mention he’s really cheap?

Royce Clayton: .228/11/39/.301/.634/(483AB) [.977] {1.50M}
--This is one of the few guys who could really help out. First off he’s a SS, the position where the A’s are thinnest (Ellis, Menechino, and German are 2Bs). His offensive and defensive numbers are decent, if not spectacular.

Pokey Reese: .215/01/12/.271/.533/(107AB) [.969] {1.75M}
--I advocated for the A’s to pick this guy up two years ago when he was a hot young player for the Reds. He’s dropped off severely since then. Reese can play both middle infield positions and he was a decent lead-off hitter in Cincy. If the A’s feel like they can rehab his swing, and his D he might be worth a shot. Ron Washington is a pretty good IF coach, if the price is right Pokey could be a Jim Plunkett type reclamation project.

Eric Young: .251/15/34/.336/.727/(475AB) [.976] {2.00M}
--Ah EY. Once the pride of LA, young has fallen on hard times. It’s hard being traded to Milwaukee. Still EY had the best offensive numbers out of this group (aside from Aurilia) and is better than most of these guys defensively too. He’s an A’s type guy with a good OPS and a OBP much higher then his batting average.

Mark McLemore: .233/02/37/.318/.632/(309AB) [.974] {3.15M}
--Can you believe this guy is 39? Though his offensive numbers were down last year McLemore is another Tony Phillips type guy. He can play both middle IF positions as well some OF. Another guy worth a shot if the price is right.

Rich Aurilia: .277/13/58/.325/.735/(505AB) [.974] {4.25M}
--The attraction here would be getting guy who doesn’t have to move. Aurilia is a super long shot to go to Oakland. He’s too good, and will command too much money (though 5M for him is still less than 12M for Tejada). I would look for Rich to end up either A) where ever Nomar doesn’t get traded (Anaheim?), or in St Louis. Detroit is also looking for a SS to go with newly signed Fernando Vina. Aurilia would be a good fit for Oakland, but he’ll get a better deal elsewhere.

Tony Womack: .226/02/22/.251/.558/(349AB) [.988] {4.50M}
--What happened to this guy? He was a darling in Arizona, and now he’s bounced around a bit. Womack is another one who could play both middle IF positions and some outfield if needed. He can lead off, though his OBP was awful last year. On the plus side he has a good FP. Wouldn’t be my first choice, but not bad.

Fernando Tatis: .194/02/15/.280/.543/(175AB) [.968] {5.25M}
--Remember when this guy hit two grand slams in one inning? Me either. Guess Chan Ho really is that bad. Tatis has slid drastically. He had some very good years in St. Louis and looked like a rising star (hence the contract). Tatis would be a major reclamation, far more so than Reese. His offensive stats from last year are reprehensible, and his D wasn’t that much better. Still, if the price is right...

So how do these guys compare to our current back ups?

Frank Menechino: .193/02/09/.364/.630/(83AB) [.667]
--Worst year ever. Frankie, fan favorite, had a terrible year and limited opportunities to turn it around. The guy hasn’t been the same since Mark Ellis blew by him on the depth chart.

Esteban German: .205/00/01/.295/.500/(39AB) [.982]
--These are German’s career numbers over two cups of coffee in ‘02 and ‘03. Apparently he can play some D. But he hasn’t had to do over a full season. The A’s used to have the luxury of bringing new players along slowly (see Tejada 1997-1999) but now the weight of expectation is upon them. Us fans want the playoffs! We want a championship before the Big Three head to NY, LA, and Boston.

So, who gets Sir Rantalot’s endorsement? Excluding Aurilia as the longest of long shots I vote for either Eric Young or Royce Clayton. Both guys have decent offensive numbers. Offensively Young edges Clayton with a better AVG and a better OBP. Clayton edges Young defensively because he plays a premium defensive position where the A’s are starting a rookie and could use a veteran presence. The second tier consists of Reese (because I refuse to give up on him), Womack, McLemore (good D), Tatis and Bell, in that order. That said, I would be surprised if the A’s sign any of these guys. If they miss the playoffs due to poor play from their young middle infielders I’ll point back to this article and say, “I told you so.” If they win the series (or any playoff series) well, then that’s why Billy Beane has his job, and I’m unemployed.
10:09 pm est

Monday, December 15, 2003

Farewell Miggy

Well Rant fans the Winter Meetings are about half way done and its time to recap the weekend’s activity. Of course the big news for fans by the Bay is that Miguel Tejada signed a monster deal with Baltimore, the richest and longest contract for anyone this off-season at 6 years and 72M over the life of the deal. Though the move was not unexpected it still hurts a little since Tejada was my favorite player since came up as a rookie in ’97.

The A’s also missed out on two more free agents. Over the weekend Keith Foulke decided to join the escalating arms race in the AL East by signing with Boston. The A’s actually put up a good fight for him, but in the end the madness and monopoly money in the East won out. As usual. The other FA lost to the East was former Seattle CF Mike Cameron. The A’s were after Cameron, apparently because they like having disgruntled outfielders and wanted to make sure they had at least five guys competing for three spots. After all, it did wonders for T-Long’s demeanor and production. My guess id that, had the A’s acquired Cameron they would have tried to move expensive and oft-injured Jermaine Dye. That said, Cameron would have been a solid pick up, good power, excellent D and a jab at the M’s.

Like all A’s fans I’m still waiting for the other shoe to drop. Ever since Giambi left and Oakland went into the season with Mini-G and Frank Menechino at the top of the order I have doubted Billy Beane every year, and every year he’s proved me wrong. Once again, I’m waiting patiently for Billy to do something. Right now the A’s need a closer (Ricardo Rincon is NOT the answer), a lead-off batter (unless Byrnes gets consistent real fast), and a catcher. Looking at Melhuse’s numbers from last year, they're great. If Billy thinks he can do it for a whole year, I’m on board too.

Around the League

The AL East is quickly replacing the AL West as the dominant division in baseball. The West has put two teams in the playoffs every year this century. Look for that to end soon, like this year. The East is loading up, and its not just the Yanks and Sux. While the Bambino induced moves of those two franchises have gotten tons of ink, the other teams in that division are getting better too.

The O’s got Tejada, and are going hard for Vlad Guerrero and Pudge Rodriguez. Even if they get all three the O’s don’t have the pitching to make much noise in the East. While this is not exactly A-Rod for a quarter-bil the O’s may end up with what they had a few years ago, and what Texas has had the past few years, a bunch of thumpers, no pitching, and a fourth place finish. I know I said I’d stop prognosticating but here’s another one anyway: The Oriels will not make the playoffs for the life for Tejada’s contract. The Yanks and Sux will battle for the division and the Wild Card every year for the foreseeable future.

Don’t look now, but the Jays have put together a mean staff, adding Lilly, Hentgen, and Batista. They also got a good closer/ set-up guy in Kerry Ligtenberg. The Jays’ lineup ain’t half bad either, they won’t compete with the big two in that division, but they’re trying.

Tampa Bay:
They are trying, having added Jose Cruz Jr. Look for them to compete, in like fifteen years, if Furious George dies and the Sox win the World Series and decide to tear it down.

Other News:
-The Dodgers traded for Juan Encarnacion. Hooray! Dan Evans did something!

-Look for the Mets to trade for Billy Koch. Koch didn’t do well in Chicago but had his best year in Oakland with new Mets pitching coach Rick Peterson.

-Joe Horn is a mark. TO already cornered the market on off-color touchdown celebrations. The cell-phone is just an extension of the Sharpie celebration. That said, Chad Johnson’s sign was pretty fresh.

-Prepare yourselves now A’s fans. Eric Chavez is a free agent next year and the Yanks are desperate for help at the hot corner.

Friday, December 12, 2003

More Spiez Please

OK so I was wrong about Kaz-Mat and Benito so I’m going to get out the prognosticating business for now and make a suggestion. The A’s should target free-agent IF Scott Spiezio. Yes, the same Scott Spiezio the A’s unceremoniously dumped in favor of Randy Velarde all those years ago, the same Scott Spiezio who killed SF in the World Series two years ago.

After two years of showing he could be a legit starter Spiezio was dumped by the Angels and needs a home. Why not bring him back to Oakland? Here’s why they should:

Spiez is basically Scott Hatteberg with pop. Why would the A’s want another Scott Hatteberg? Well, why not? According to Michel Lewis nine Scott Hatteberg’s would constitute the best offense in baseball. Let’s look at the numbers:

Stat Hatteberg Spiezio
AVG .253 .265
HR 12 16
RBI 61 83
2B 34 36
3B 0 7
BB 66 46
SO 53 66
OBP .342 .326
SLG .383 .427
OPS .725 .779
AB 541 521

The only categories where Spiez ranks behind Hatteberg is OBP, BB and SO, and he did it in fewer ABs. So, now you’re asking, why bring in another 1B when the A’s already have Hatteberg and Durazo under contract? Well, first of all, having a solid backup at 1B would help rest Hatte’s back on turf, and against southpaws, and allow Durazo to shift to his natural position, DH. Also, Spiez started his career as a SS, played 2B with Oakland and played 3B and 1B in Anaheim. A team as cash strapped as Oakland should jump at a guy who can back up all four IF positions. Spiez can be like a new Tony Phillips, with out the drug problem (he can even fill in at LF in a pinch). Spiez is a guy who can throw up some clutch numbers (i.e. his dinger in game six), play a little D, and let’s face it, A’s fans who lived through the Dave Magadan, Mike Oquist days have a soft spot for Spiezio. Of course Spiezio will probably go somewhere where they offer him a chance at a starting job (though he’s versatile enough to rotate positions and hit his way into the lineup). C’mon home Scotty, we got some ABs for ya, we’re waiting.

Tuesday, December 9, 2003

Catch as Catch Can

Here is a quick digest for you A’s fans who are too lazy to sift through the off season muck.

- It looks like the A’s won’t stand pat on Adam Mehuse at catcher. Though I think Mehuse showed something last year, especially the ability to hit under pressure (aside from game 5), he may be a year away and could benefit form a platoon with an experienced player. One rumor has the A’s trying to bring in Benito Santiago (though another story has Santiago going to KC). This would fit the “platoon and train Melhuse” theory. Santiago probably can’t catch everyday but he did hit .279 last year. His walk totals are very un-A’s like, (29BB in 401AB) but he knows how to work with a staff.

- If the A’s don’t get Santiago Peter Gammons offers a convoluted path of trades and intrigue that would net them Paul LoDuca for Joe Blanton. LoDuca appears to have fallen out of favor in LA where his numbers have declined every year since his first full season in 2001. This trade doesn’t seem to make sense for the A’s given that LoDuca’s low walk totals don’t mesh with the A’s offensive philosophy and he doesn’t have the leadership value of Benito Santiago to off-set that. Also, Blanton is a rising pitching prospect and the A’s success has been built around pitching which has allowed them to go for OBP and power on offense. It’s the Big Three who have allowed the A’s to win with cast off position players. But Zito, Mulder and Hudson won’t be around much longer. They’re all eligible for free agency in the next few years and the A’s won’t be able to keep them. That means they’ll need to reload through the farm system, which means Rich Harden, Justin Duchscherer and Blanton may be the Big Three of the future. The Bottom line is that Blanton may be more valuable down the line than LoDuca.

- As I speculated here a few weeks ago T-Long may be headed back to the Mets. Sure it’s via SD but if it happens I will still claim my prognostication skills are in full effect.

- The A’s may be on the verge of actually retaining a free agent. And he’s a good one, keeping Keith Foulke would be nails. He was one of the best pitchers in the AL last year, he can pitch in any situation, for more than one inning, and he can go on back-to-back days.

- The Detroit Tigers are coming after Tejada, if he takes their money he deserves what he gets. Maybe he should ask A-Rod about going to a loser.

Friday, December 5, 2003


Word is that the Mariners have offered Miguel Tejada a three year 25M dollar deal. So, aside from the fact that Tejada is not returning to Oakland, what does this mean? For one, it means that the M’s must feel like they are out of the Kaz Matsui sweepstakes. If that’s the case (coupled with NYY’s new deal with Aaron Boone) it means Matsui is likely to go to either LA, Anaheim, or NYM. Of the three, LA is the most likely bet because a move to LA would not require Kaz to switch positions. The NYY and NYM already have shortstops and would ask Kaz to switch to second base. Another reason NYY is likely out is that with Sheffield coming to NYY the outfield is full and Alfonso Soriano will have to stay at second. Also, LA has a large Japanese population and two Japanese players on the Major League roster. If Kaz goes to LA it may push Anaheim to step up their pursuit of Nomar, which could help Boston trade Manny for A-rod.

In short (no pun intended), Tejada to Seattle could mean Kaz to LA, Nomar to Anaheim, A-rod to Boston, and Oakland rookie Bobby Crosby trying to stay out of the shadows of the Big 5. Fans in the O can only hope that the idea of Tejada staying in the division will irk A’s owner Steve Schott more than Giambi and Damon going east, or Izzy going to the NL. Still, the chances of keeping Tejada in Oakland seem slim.

Brewing Trouble?

At first glance it appeared the Milwaukee Brewers were doing the unthinkable, taking a horrible team with a tiny payroll and trading a way their best players in an attempt to lower payroll even further. All this after fleecing the taxpayers for millions of dollars for a new stadium that killed three workers and opened a year late. And after that new stadium resulted in a nice payday for the owners after Milwaukee was chosen to host the all-star game, an honor bequeathed to them by the owners dad, commissioner Bud Selig.

Of course Bud used to (read “still does”) own the team, though he claims he is not involved in financial or baseball related decisions. Still, here is a team that is pocketing its revenue sharing money instead of investing it in the on-field product. Recent evidence that Bud has been helping finance a team he allegedly does not still own did not do much to help the Brewer’s image.

I was one of those people who cried foul over the idea of trading Richie Sexton, it seemed like another move by management to cut payroll and increase profit at the expense of the fans. But looking at the deal the Brew-Crew got good value for Sexon without taking on too much money. In these economic times you cannot trade a star player or a big contract without making some concessions. Basically you either need to take back salary in return (i.e. the proposed A-rod for Manny deal), agree to pay part of the player’s salary (i.e. Colorado and Florida helping to pay for Mike Hampton to play in Atlanta) or accept crap prospects in return. Usually teams take option one and two. In this deal the Brewers took back some money, and got some decent players in return. They were not going to resign Sexon next year and they got something while they could. Here are the main players as I see it:

To Arizona: Richie Sexon 1B/OF
To Milwaukee: Craig Counsel 3B, Junior Spivey 2B, and Lyle Overbay 1B

Basically the Brewers gave up one slugging al star 1B (and his .270 BA) for 3/4 of a starting infield. Counsel and Overbay won starting jobs last year, and while they won’t be all-stars this year (or perhaps ever) they are legitimate starting infielders. Spivey was starter on the 2001 D-Backs team that shocked the Yanks in 2001. He may be shifted to the outfield in Milwaukee, again, not a super star but a legit player.

In “Money Ball” Billy Beane talks about how he knew he couldn’t find or afford one player who could replace Jason Giambi so he had to find two or three who could. He ended up with Scott Hatteberg (cast off from both Boston and Colorado), Mark Ellis (brought up from the Minors), and David Justice (trade from NYM). Milwaukee is taking the same tact here, hoping that the players they bring in are better then those they have now, and can contribute to victories in a similar way that Sexton did (or didn’t depending on how you look at it). It may be that having moderate production throughout the line up can be more helpful than having one or two sluggers and a bunch of scrubs. After all, “Moneyball” provided a formula wherein 9 Scott Hattebergs would constitute the best offense in baseball.

So, dont discount the Brewers moves completely. Maybe Bud is telling the truth and they are rebuilding in the model provided by the A’s and Marlins. We’ll see, only 5 months ‘til spring training.

Friday, November 14, 2003

Everyone Should Shut Up

Grab some bottles of water and head to the basement. Doomsday is upon us and its all my fault. I actually agree with George Steinbrenner, the frogs and locusts can’t be far behind. OK , well, I don’t agree exactly but he has a good point. Even though he’s actually wrong about this one.

If you haven’t heard Angel Berroa recently beat out Hideki Matsui for the AL Rookie of the year award in the closest race in 24 years. This has once again touched off the “are they rookies or not” debate concerning Japanese baseball players. The answer is that they are most certainly rookies. A rookie is any player with less than 130 at bats and less than 45 days in the Majors. The majors are defined as either the American or National League of Major League Baseball. That’s it.

The debate flared up when 32 year old Kaz Sasaki and 27 year old Ichiro Suzuki won the ROY in 200 and 2001 respectively. Baseball purists (read racists) decried the awards as an injustice to U.S. born players. The rational behind these arguments is that if a player plays ten years in Japan he is no longer a rookie. Especially if he is really, really good, and especially if he does not come up through the minors in the US. People who support this line of “reasoning” often cite their high regard for the quality of Japanese baseball, claiming that the minors here are no comparison. Great, time to Rant.

These people are obviously xenophobic morons. Lets break it down point by stupid petty little point shall we?

1. Japanese players are too old to get the ROY.
First off, no one really complained when Hideo Nomo won the award at the age of 27. At the time Nomo was an oddity, a novelty. The backlash began when it looked like a Japanese player would win the award two years in a row. Second, suppose Satchel Paige had won the award. Would anyone complain that he was too old? No chance. Paige was held out of the Majors through the machinations of racist executives but no matter how old he was when he made it to The Show, he was eligible for the ROY. Finally, look at Billy Taylor, closer for the Oakland A’s from 1994-1999. Billy played 14 years in the minors before becoming a rookie at the age of 32. Billy’s story was considered one those great “never give up, never say die” stories of perseverance. I never once heard anyone say he was to old to be a ROY candidate. Too sucky, but not too old.
P.S. Jackie Robinson was 28 when he won the award in 1947, a year older than Ichiro was in 2001 when he was presented with the “Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Award.”

2. The Japanese leagues are too good for their players to be considered true rookies.
Really? OK if that’s the case lets invite each division winner to participate in the playoffs each year. After all, if Japan holds a “third major league” shouldn’t they be invited to the post season? Or, we could rename the world series “The North American Series” and have the winner play the Japanese Champions in a true World Series. Now, i’m not one of these nuts who gets mad about the name “World Series” just because all the teams involved play in North America. I believe that the best players in the world come here to play at the highest level. Whether they get here from Campo Juan Marichel in the Dominican Republic, sign as free agents from Asia, or float across from Cuba on a raft made of popsicle sticks, old tires, and mike cartons, the best players in the world play in the MLB. There is no team in Australia, or Yemen who could knock off the Marlins if only they would open the series up to everyone. This includes Japan.
As good as the Japanese leagues may be they are not comparable to the Majors. Here’s an example, below are the two best years in the career of Karl “Tuffy” Rhodes. Guess which one came in Japan and which was in the MLB:

Tuffy Rhodes:
Stat Sample1 Sample2
G: 140 95
AB: 550 269
R: 137 39
H: 180 63
2B: 19 17
3B: 0 0
HR: 55 8
RBI: 131 19
BB: 82 33
SO: Not Listed 64
SB: 9 3
CS: 2 2
AVG: .327 .234
OBP: .421 .318
SLG: .662 .387
OPS: Not Listed Not Listed

If you said he hit 55 homers in Japan and not in Chicago give yourself a gold star and a cookie. Rhodes, a marginal MLB player is now the single season HR king of Japan. Great league ya’ got there. This is not knock on the Japanese leagues. It’s just that they are not as good as the MLB, no one is. That’s why everyone wants to play here. Also, Cuba is a consistent power in international baseball. So far no Cuban defector has won the ROY, but I doubt the same uproar would be heard if a 29 year old defector was in the running.

Now, I opened by saying I actually agreed with Furious George and I know yer just dying to know how. Peep this quote from The Boss:

“One of the writers in question, Mr. Ballou, actually said, 'while he [Matsui] is technically a rookie by the rules of Major League Baseball, he is not a rookie in the spirit of the award.' Spirit of the award? The award was renamed by the Baseball Writers' Association to honor Jackie Robinson, its first recipient. Jackie Robinson came to the Major Leagues after playing in the Negro Leagues, a league whose high level of play is unquestioned.”

Yes George you’re right. There. I did it. However, there is that line about the Devil quoting scripture, and The boss does go on to shoot himself in the foot.

“This year's voting farce, where the appropriate qualifications for the award were blatantly ignored, clearly demonstrates unfairness to first-year players from Japan. And that must be stopped."

Let’s look at the numbers:

Stat Berroa Matsui
G: 158 163
AB: 567 623
R: 92 82
H: 163 179
2B: 28 42
3B: 7 1
HR: 17 16
RBI: 73 106
BB: 29 63
SO: 100 86
SB: 21 2
CS: 5 2
AVG: .287 .287
OBP: .338 .318
SLG: .451 .435
OPS: .789 .788

Berroa led Matsui in 6 out of 13 offensive categories in 56 fewer at bats. But the analysis has to go beyond the raw numbers. The 2002 Yankees won 103 games and had home field for the playoffs. The 2002 Royals lost over 100 games. Berroa was a key player on a team that made huge turn around in 2003 with a lower payroll than in ’02. Matsui on the other hand was a cog on a Yankee team that added payroll and made the World Series on the backs of Andy Pettite and the Curse of the Bambino. Though Matsui did not go through a complete Tuffization he did not approach the 50 HRs he hit in Japan in 2002. Also, Matsui, nicknamed “Godzilla” because of his power was outslugged by a shortstop! I think Berroa won based on merit, not racism; and I think the vote was close for a reason, Matsui was very good, just not better than Berroa. So, Steinbrenner needs to shut his fat yap. He should have learned over the last two years that he can’t win just because he has the most money.

Of course the writers couldn’t let this go without making stupid remarks of their own.
"Again, my regard for Japanese baseball is too high for me to consider Matsui a rookie. Even if I had considered him a rookie, I'm not sure if he would have made my ballot." –Rick Ballou

OK Mr. Ballou, then why did you leave Matsui off of last year’s MVP ballot, after all, the guy hit 50 dingers and led the Japanese league in almost every offensive category. Why haven’t you started your “Bring Back Tuffy” letter writing campaign? Shut up Ballou you racist moron.

OK I’m getting tired so here’s the bottom line. The Japanese leagues are not a third major league. The idea is ridiculous and is an insult to the minor leagues here in the US. Saying you have “too much respect” for the Japanese leagues to consider their players rookies is the same as saying you don’t have enough respect for US minor leaguers to think they could succeed in Japan. (See Tuffy.) The ROY is not an age-based award. It doesn’t matter where you played before. No one counts Warren Moon’s CFL stats, no one cares what Barry Bonds did at ASU, and Japanese league stats are not listed in the Baseball Almanac. All that matters is what you do in the show. Everyone should just shut up about it. Let ‘em earn it on the field. So send my regards to Jackie and Satch, best of luck to Hee-Sop Choi and Byung Hyome-Ryun, love to Tuffy, and give my vote to Kaz Matsui (you’ll know who he is next year if you don’t already) for ROY in 2004.

Tuesday, November 4, 2003

A Must Read for People Over 25yrs of Age: By Anonymous

This was sent to me by a friend. I don’t know who wrote it, but the author said to pass it on, so here it is.

To the survivors:
According to today's regulators and bureaucrats, those of us who were
kids in the 40's, 50's, 60's, 70's probably shouldn't have survived. Our baby cribs were covered with bright colored lead-based paint.

We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, doors or cabinets, and when we rode our bikes, we had no helmets. (Not to mention the risks we took hitchhiking.)

As children, we would ride in cars with no seat belts or air bags. Riding in the back of a pickup truck on a warm day was always a special treat.

We drank water from the garden hose and not from a bottle. Horrors! We shared one soft drink with four friends, from one bottle, and no one actually died from this.

We ate cupcakes, bread and butter, and drank soda pop with sugar in it, but we were never overweight because we were always outside playing. We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back when the street lights came on. No one was able to reach us all day. No cell phones. Unthinkable.

We would spend hours building our go-carts out of scraps and then rode down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. After running into the bushes a few times, we learned to solve the problem.

We did not have Play Stations, Nintendo 64, X-Boxes, no video games at all, no 99 channels on cable, video tape movies, surround sound, personal
cell phones, personal computers, or Internet chat rooms. We had friends! We went outside and found them.

We fell out of trees, got cut and broke bones and teeth, and there were no lawsuits from these accidents.

We made up games with sticks and tennis balls and ate worms, and although we were told it would happen, we did not put out very many eyes, nor did the worms live inside us forever.

We rode bikes or walked to a friend's home and knocked on the door, or rang the bell or just walked in and talked to them.

Little League had tryouts and not everyone made the team. Those who didn't had to learn to deal with disappointment.

The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke a law was unheard of.
They actually sided with the law. Imagine that!

This generation has produced some of the best risk-takers and problem solvers and inventors, ever. The past 50 years have been an explosion of innovation and new ideas. We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned how to deal with it all. And you're one of them! Congratulations. Please pass this on to others who have had the luck to grow up as kids, before lawyers and government regulated our lives, for our own good.

Kind of makes you want to run through the house with scissors?

Friday, October 31, 2003

Whatever Happened to the Star Trek Movies? By AH.

It's been a rough ride for us Star Trek movie fans. After the glory that was First Contact, we've had to suffer through the lame Insurrection and the promising but ultimately unfulfilling Nemesis. And the prospect of no more ST:TNG movies ever is, well, grim.

So, where has the magic gone? What happened to this once glorious franchise, which has now gone the way of baseball in the 24th century? Where have you gone, Joe Dimaggio? I think there are two things at play here. First, when you deal with movies, the emphasis tends to be on the star characters (Picard and Data); but ST:TNG has always been an ensemble effort. It stings to see the noble and powerful Worf from "A matter of honor" and "Lower Decks" reduced to a bit cameo. Troi, Crusher, Geordi, and even, to a degree, Riker have been marginalized, and the dimension and scope of the movies suffer.

Cinema has two principle pleasures; voyeuristic and narcissistic. The voyeuristic pleasure is still there; cool space battles and the strange aliens. But what is missing is the narcissistic pleasure; or, the feeling that these movies are talking about us.

Star Trek was always at its best when we felt that we, as individuals or as a society, are being mirrored. McCarthyism, Homosexuality, family issues-these things and many others were successfully tackled within this show. What worked with Star Trek is that though the settings and characters were fantastic, paradoxically this allowed a greater amount of depth and, dare I say, realism in talking about issues we cannot, in polite society, deal with directly.

So is the Star Trek franchise irrelevant? No. There has never been a greater need for our Star Trek heroes than now. We live in extremely trying times. We need to simultaneously escape with and deal with our times.

Here are some ideas. What we are dealing with now, in the Middle East, is a culture, which confuses us; an ever shifting political structure where our friends today are our mortal enemies tomorrow; a morality, which has a logic strange to our own; and a culture, which presents, as of now, a grave threat to our way of life. Does this sound like the Klingon empire to anyone?

(Sir Rantalot’s note: Klingons have always embodied America’s fears of whatever race we currently see as a problem. The Klingons were in fact created in response to the Yellow Peril fears of the late fifties and early sixties. That’s why they looked so Asian in the original Star Trek. Then, in the late eighties and early nineties, after the fall of the Soviet Union, Klingons became the black people who live among us (Worf) and with whom we have an uneasy peace. So why not make them Middle-Eastern? For more on depictions of ethnicity in Sci-Fi see the Essays Page.)

How about this: after a devastating terrorist attack on the Federation capital, San Francisco, by some rogue Klingons, a fragile political climate is placed in severe danger by Federation renegades to gain retribution and plunge the galaxy into chaos by destroying the planet Klingons find most holy, Boreth (Mecca); also, the assassination of Kahless might make a fine subplot. Though the Federation is stronger than the Klingon empire, a war would be devastating to both sides. It is up to Picard and company from stopping this from happening.
Worf would play a key role in this story, and rather than the ineffectual Worf from the past few movies, I see this Worf with a Bat'leth and a flowing cape. Worf is a badass; give the guy his due.

Also, there needs to be a fight, weather in space or with fist, between Riker and Worf over Deanna. Some long simmering feelings could erupt due to some friendly Klingon prodding for Worf. This issue was not dealt with in a satisfying manner. This, as well, would make some good fodder for Deanna, who always seems to get the short end of the plot stick.

Now, a note on the "B4" character. I know Brent Spiner had his hand in this character development. Brent is a fine actor, and is one of the most memorable characters on the show; but he needs to be reigned in. I know they are setting up a "Search for Spock" scenario, where the original Data is resurrected somehow. But that B4 character is just painful.

In a subplot, the Federation military scientists should be developing a species of Datas bred for fighting, with Nanites being the mechanisms (like cells) of which this Species is created (out of what raw materials, I'm not sure). Data fights the other Datas in that they, like Lore, want their own species of superior beings, and can see themselves rising from the choas.

Side note: Geek goddess Tina Fey from SNL must come in for some geek sex appeal and be strong, funny, dare I say ballsy character. Perhaps an academic who wrote a book „The Klingon Problem,‰ or something like it. She has the spark and intelligence for some great dialogue.

OK. That's my rant. It is hard to see ST:TNG struggle so hard and stray so far from the things which made us great. ST:TNG reminds us that we as a species can achieve greater things; and though we came from the earth, we belong in the stars.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Kicking the Habit: SF Undervalues Kickers

Owen Pochman is out (thank goodness) and the Niners will now turn to Todd Peterson to solve a kicking game that has been in flux since, well, since Ray Wersching left in 1987. Since then they have had adequate guys like Mike Cofer, Doug Brien, and Wade Richey. Some very good kickers like Jeff Wilkins and Gary Anderson. But mostly they have had spectacular flops, Jose “Clown Shoes” Cortez, Tony “El Blouquero” Zendejas, Jeff “Really? A 4th Round Draft Pick?” Chandler, and now, Owen “Cut by the Giants” Pochman.

Pochman missed 3 field goals last week in a game won by the 49er defense. This week he missed two more as the 49ers lost in OT to the hapless Arizona Cardinals. Now Pochman is out and SF will bring in Peterson hoping that last years 57.1 FG% was an aberration. While Peterson may help in the short term the 49ers kicking problems run much deeper and will not be solved without a change in organizational philosophy. Basically the 49ers have never cared about kickers. Since the glory years began having a good kicker was considered a luxury not worth the expense.

This was fine when SF had Montana, Craig, Rice, Solomon, Clark, Young, Watters, Taylor, Jones, Frank, a great O-line and an all pro defense. Back when John Madden was calling out “Sooooo many weapons” and the Niners were in the NFC championship game year after year. But this is a different team in a different era. Dennis Erickson has not lived up to his promise to “open up the offense.” The O-line is shaky and SF is having trouble scoring points. This team is not going to blow people away like they did during the stretch between ’81 and ’97. This is a team that needs to scratch out wins the way Carolina is with John Kasay (career FG% 80.1, 17/17 this year).

SF has made some terrible decisions with its kickers, here is brief over view:

Name /                Year /   Career% / %When Cut / Post SF Career
Ray Wersching ‘77-‘87    67.5             76.5              Retired in 1987
Jeff Backhaus   1987        50.0             50.0       Sub for Wersching, never played again
Mike Cofer      ’88-‘93     66.2             61.5               44.4% for Indy in 1995
Doug Brien      ’94-95       80.5             88.2               Current 88.9% with NYJ
Tony Zendejas   1995       73.5             42.9                Never played again.
Jeff Wilkins     ’95-96      80.2              88.2               Went Rams, won a Super Bowl
Gary Anderson 1997       80.1              80.6               92.9% for Tennessee in ’03
Wade Richey    ‘98-’99   72.4              68.2               Currently 1/1 with Baltimore
Jose Cortez      ‘00-’02    71.9             75.0               With Minn. no FG attempts this year.
Jeff Chandler   ’02-’03    73.7             85.7               Out of football
Owen Pochman 2003      47.1             53.3               Out of football
Todd Peterson   2003      77.8

(During this time they also cut Ryan Longwell and his career 81.1%)

Some analysis on the above list shows that the Niners had a decent run of kickers from the middle of 1995 through the end of 1997 which was also the end of the Niners great run (lost NFC Championship to Green Bay). Since then the Niners have suffered through salary cap hell and the premature retirement of Steve Young. But their inability and unwillingness to re-sign good kickers has cost them games over the years. They didn’t want to spend the money to re-sign Wilkins or Anderson. They ran out of patience with Chandler who was kicking well when he was cut. Brien was made the scapegoat for a slow start in 1995 when the real problem was that SF tried to replace Ricky Watters with Derek Loville. In both cases the quick hooks cost them games. They brought in Zendejas in ’95 who lasted three games and went 3-7 with 3 blocks (he was also 1-3 on PATs). This year they cut Chandler in favor of a guy who brought in a career FG% of 47.1.
If SF ever again finds a reliable kicker they need to keep him. Consistency is good, from 1981 through 1994 SF had three regular kickers. Since then they have had eight. If SF had a consistent kicker at this point they would be a least 4-4 (if not better) and still be in the hunt in the NFC. As it is they face a huge up hill fight to make the playoffs. You can overlook special teams when you’re rolling over fools to the tune of 42 point per game. When you fall back to the pack however, you need good special teams, coverage, returns, and kicks. After all, as good as the Pats were in ’01 it was Adam Vinatieri (career 81.7%) who won the game for them.

12:14 pm est

Monday, October 27, 2003

Baseball: End of Season Rant

Well Baseball is over and the A’s are chipping away again. Never mind that there is little chance, if any, of resigning Tejada, there is a potentially more damaging move being considered. The A’s may allow pitching coach Rick Peterson to move to the Mets without compensation. That’s right, the A’s may lose one of the best coaches in the game in return for absolutely nothing. If you have any doubts about Peterson’s value to the team just look at the staff. Sure, the big three are very good pitchers with a ton of ability, but look at what Peterson did with some more marginal talent.

Example 1: Jason Isringhausen. Izzy was considered washed up when he was traded to the A’s in 1999. He was a failed starter with a bad elbow and a 7.58 ERA. Peterson turned him into one of the best closers in the game with 75 saves a 2.85 ERA and 0 trips to the DL in 2 plus seasons. Once he left Oakland Izzy stayed productive, when he was healthy.

Example 2: Billy Koch. Koch had 36 saves and a 4.80 ERA for Toronto in 2001. In Oakland for ’02 he had 44 saves, a 3.27 ERA and the Rolaids Relief Pitcher of the Year Award. Once he left (traded for example 3, Keith Foulke) he lost his closer’s job and ended up with a 5-5 record, 4 blown saves and a 5.77 ERA.

Example 3: Keith Foulke. Oakland traded Koch for deposed White Sox Closer Keith Foulke. Foulke was coming off a year in which he had just 11 saves, a 2.90 ERA and had lost the closing job. With Peterson’s guidance Foulke made an astonishing 72 appearances, picking up 43 saves and registering a 2.08 ERA.

See also:
-Ricardo Rincon, with Cleveland in 2002: 4.18 ERA. With Oakland in ’02-’03 3.18.
-Chad Bradford, an unwanted throw-in from Chicago (career ERA 8.28 in 41 appearances). With Oakland, 2.95 ERA in 182 games pitched.

Peterson was even able to get rock headed Ted Lilly (pre Oak. ERA: 5.50, in Oak. ERA: 2.99) to develop into a good pitcher down the stretch. Lilly pitched very well in the playoffs, as did waiver wire pick up Steve Sparks. Letting Peterson go would be a huge mistake. Peterson’s value to the team is second only to Billy Beane’s. Peterson makes the A’s staff go. He is a mechanics guru and is a big part of the reason that the big three have stayed as healthy as they have. He can find the positives in almost anyone and turn shaky pitchers into solid contributors. If he does go to the Mets expect two things, a rise in Oakland’s team ERA along with a sharp decline in wins, and at least 15 wins from Steve Trachsel.

Losing Peterson would be as huge a loss for Oakland as losing Tejada, and to make things worse, the A’s a rumored to be considering including Terrence Long in a deal for Peterson. If that happens the A’s had better resign Jose Guillen or they could go from having too many good out fielders (Long, Dye, Byrnes, Guillen, Singleton, Piatt, McCarty) to not enough. Piatt, Singleton and McCarty were cut, Guillen is a free agent and Long may be traded. Another off season, and another chance for the A’s to chip away at the foundation that has seen them contend for the past four years. How long can Beane keep spinning straw into gold? How long before he leaves too? One thing is for sure, Bobby Crosby will be the starting short stop at some point next season and the A’s will eventually miss the playoffs. Chip chip chip...

Random World Series Musings:

-I predicted Josh Beckett as the MVP in a seven game Marlins win. I was close. Beckett is the MVP, the series went six, and the Marlins won.

-I love watching the Yankees lose.

-Remember when Giambi left Oakland, the two reasons were better endorsements and a chance to win the World Series every year. Well, he’s the deodorant guy, and he still has no ring. I love watching Giambi lose.

-Oh yeah, he also said he liked New York because he didn’t have to be a leader. Good call, he really hasn’t led anyone anywhere.

-I’m glad for Pudge. It’s always nice to see Puerto Ricans do well. Especially a guy who took a one-year deal, and a pay cut, to go to a team that took a chance on him.

-Just as we asked the past two years, is this good for the game because the Yanks lost? Or bad because now The Boss will go out and spend even more money?

-The Marlins have never lost a post-season series.

-Why is everything being presented in the locker room? Why don’t the Marlins get the big on field celebration? Did The Boss have a hand in this?

-Jeffery Loria does not deserve a ring after he tanked the Expos.

Even though the Yawn-ks haven’t won in three years, they have still been in 6 of the last 9 World Series, it’s still boring, baseball is still broken. I can’t wait to see The Boss go ballistic. Hide your free agents. Next year’s line up (?):


Saturday, October 18, 2003

There is Crying in Baseball

I have a confession make, I haven’t watched more than an hour of sports since game four of the ALDS between Oakland and Boston. Part of it was the disappointment of watching the A’s blow yet another first round series. Part of it was frustration with the umpires. But mostly it was the fact that I scared my self during game four. I cared too much. Game four was one of the most exciting games of one of the most exciting playoff series ever. Every game came down to the last at bat. Every ninth inning was a save situation. Two games went to extra frames. This is what baseball fans dream of. So why was I so upset? The anxiety, the angst, the depression, the ecstasy, the euphoria, all coming and going with such force for three hours was too much. Part of it was the hope. The A’s had a chance in game three and threw it away. They had a chance in game four, a one run lead, then a one run deficit, then a tie game, then a two run lead, then a loss. The ups and downs were too much, I didn’t even watch the ninth inning, I was too depressed. I vowed not to watch game five, I didn’t think I could take the strain.

There is a problem with sports. Not a problem in sports, or a problem that is sport related. There is a problem with sports as an entity. Why do people who are not players, coaches, or owners get so emotionally involved in sports? What is it that makes us vilify a man trying to catch a foul ball to the point where he needs to placed in protective custody? Why does it matter? The truth is, it doesn’t, and that’s the problem; especially for men.

Sports should be about all idyllic things we say it is. I’ve always said that baseball is about tradition, fathers and sons and brothers and friends going to the ballpark. Some of my greatest childhood memories are of me and my Dad at ballgames. The excitement of watching warm-ups and BP. The rainbow Astros unies back before they were “retro.” Wearing my hat loose so it fly off like Dwayne Murphy’s even though I sported a much less prodigious fro. I tried to give my little brother the same experience, until last year we made it to six straight opening days. But somewhere along the way something changed. Following sports stopped being fun.

I have a friend, (no really, I do) whose boyfriend is a long-suffering Red Sox fan. The last few weeks have been hard for her. Not being a sports fan herself she has been asking me about guys involvement with, and reactions to sporting events. Her last question got me thinking. She asked “Why is it that my boyfriend doesn’t cry when we have a bad fight, but he’s inconsolable when the Red Sox lose?” The implication for me is this, what’s more important, your wife or girlfriend, or “your” team? Sure, chances are you’ve got almost as much emotion invested in both, and you’ve been with the team far longer, but what does the team give you? If you didn’t show up to the next game would they notice? If you left your significant other for three days without calling would they notice?

So why do we do it? For one I think it’s the same instinct that makes us hold on to anything we loved when we were kids. When I was five years old I was convinced that I was going to take over for Freddie Solomon and catch touchdowns from Joe Montana. I wanted to smother grounders like Walt Weiss and fire bullets across the diamond to Big Mac. Jerry Rice was larger than life when I was eight years old. My love for the 49ers was irreversible when I was four years old and I got to go to some awards banquet and meet the team. They played with my stuffed bunny and signed a bunch of stuff that my Mom threw out. Athletes capture our imaginations as children, and for some of us they never let go. As kids we see our father figures being passionate about sports, and we figure that that’s how adults act. At that age we don’t know about beer, or point spreads, or the over. At that age its less about the game, and more about time with the family, and playing catch in the street.
Later, as young adults, sports are a bonding experience. We’re still kids in a lot of ways, but now we can hang out and drink and watch games and talk shit. We have parties, Sundays at my first giant communal house were an event, it was fun. Steve Young and Jerry Rice had “Sooooo many weapons.” Still at this point it’s less about the game, and more about hanging out with your friends, and making friends out of strangers. So we become emotionally invested in our teams, their success feels like our success, their failure makes us feel sorry that we couldn’t somehow affect the outcome. Eventually our sadness, feeling sorry for “our boys” becomes hatred for the umps, or the refs, or the system, or the coach. We get consumed by an impotent rage caused by watching something we care about go wrong, and not being able to do anything about it.

The second reason we can cry about sports is because it’s OK. As men we are socialized to hide our fear, and our sadness. Caring and sensitivity are construed as weakness and are beaten out of us by some a-hole by the time we reach fourth grade. We can’t cry when we fight with our lovers, or when we’ve had a bad day at work, or at school because society tells us it’s not manly. We’re supposed to swallow it all, all the stress, all the pain, all the worry. We’re supposed to present grit our teeth and do something about it. The tough get going, and if you’re not tough you’re useless. We are supposed to be able to handle anything, we are not supposed to break down under emotional strain. If we fight with our spouses we’re supposed to be able to remain stoic. But we’re allowed to care about sports. Sports allow for an emotional release. Look at Bill Romonowski, and tell me he’s not dealing with some childhood trauma. Sports the only place where most men are not only allowed to invest and express all of their emotion, they are encouraged to do it. We have to have “heart”, play with “fire and emotion”, and most importantly, we are supposed to “leave it all on the field.” When we get too old or to busy to play. We invest ourselves and our emotions as spectators. We can’t show weakness, we have to be strong, but we can care about sports, so we do. That’s why he cries when the Sox lose, and only gets mad and yells when you hurt his feelings. That’s why he’ll yell at the TV on Sunday, but won’t share his frustrations about work on Friday. And that’s why I haven’t watched sports for two weeks. It’s crazy that something that I’m only very remotely involved in can stir that kind of emotion. It’s crazy that I have begged out of hanging out with my wife to listen to an A’s game on the radio. It’s damn insane that I’ve done it more than once.

Often, when a coach or payers retires they’ll offer some version of the following statement, “I’m walking away because it’s not fun anymore. The lows of losing far out way the joys of winning. I just can’t do it anymore.” That’s how I felt two Sundays ago. I’m not done with sports, and I don’t think anyone should stop watching sports. I’ll be back, watching games, cheering. I’ll bring my kids to the Oakland Coliseum and tell them about Dwayne, and Ricky, and Mac, and Miggy. But I had to take a step back. I had to gain some perspective. I hope you will too.

Thursday, October 9, 2003

Schwarzenegger Uber Alles

In 1987 the Dead Kennedys released a song called “California Uber Alles.” The song portrayed former Governor Jerry Brown as a Nazi, and predicted his rise to the presidency. In fact Brown was a fairly liberal democrat who increased arts funding among other liberal endeavors. 16 years later we are faced with an actual Reich-t wing Republican, a man who once made admiring comments about Hitler, a man who is a known misogynist and serial groper. Yes folks California is in the hands of naturalized Austrian Ahnold Schwarzenegger. May the spirits forgive us for what we have done.

Let’s review. Ahnold is a republican whose sole political experience to date was as Bush Sr.’s Physical Fitness Minister. I remember 8th grade gym class, looking at Ahnold’s marble jaw, maniac grin, and pointed finger, telling me to “Get in Shape for America!” This is a man whose only qualification to be Governor is that he wants to be Governor. Douglas Adams wrote that the people who most desire to lead are the exact people who should never be allowed to do it.

Ahnold has offered no actual policy plans other than to eliminate the car tax which will immediately raise the deficit form $8 billion to $12 billion. At the same time he wants to increase money for education, he says he won’t raise taxes, so where is the money going to come from? Perhaps the sale of state licensed T3 merchandise? Basically he needs to cut more than $12 billion from prisons and health care. Hey maybe all the people in on three strikes for pot violations will get a reprieve. We will be a state full of smart, well-read, non-immunized children. Hooray for us!
We have put Hans in charge of the world’s seventh largest economy and he doesn’t even have Franz to bounce ideas off of. Schwarzenegger Uber Alles!!

Sunday, October 5, 2003

I Can Blame Others

Well, the A's have no one to blame but themselves. If Tejada hadn't booted that grounder, Varitek never reaches third and never gets that obstruction call and the Sux never score. If Byrnes remembers to tag home it never goes to extra innings. If Tejada keeps running and forces a close play at the plate he may get that obstruction call. You never stop until the play is over, never. Yes, the A's can blame no one but themselves.

But I am not an A. One, the interference call against Chavez was bogus, Varitek was on the bag when it was called, so how can it be interference? Two, how can he NOT call interference on Mueller, he moved INTO Tejada on that play. Three, that homeplate Ump had the most inconsistent strike zones I've seen in the past four years! Fine, you don't wanna call it by the book? At least pick one strike zone and stick with it! Since when is below the letters a ball? I don't wanna say it’s a c-o-n-spiracy, but I think MLB wants the Sux in the Series. Long live Questec, I want Macha to have a red flag. By the way, mad props to Macha for not getting tossed. Same goes for Hernandez and Tejada.

Here’s the thing, we’ve seen this before, A’s lead series or have a shot to win and then trhow it away, or lose it in the sun, or forget to slide on it. Let’s review, 2000, Terrence Long loses a fly ball in the sun thanks to MLB starting the game at 5:00pm PST. 2001Mini G forgets to slide, and then Big $ G makes three errors in game 5. 2002, Tejada boots a ball at the dome, Koch gives two up insurance runs in the top of the ninth in game five, A’s lose by two. The A’s have a history of beating themselves, "it’s like Singapore ’59 all over again!"

In my last post I said that part of me wanted the A’s to lose so that baseball could start to fix itself. After reflecting on today’s loss...Fuck that! Those idiots won’t make the necessary changes no matter what. Go get 'em today boys, there may not be a next year.
12:29 am edt

Saturday, October 4, 2003

A's Be Damned, Baseball is Still Broken

There is a part of me that wants to see the home nine lose in the first round yet again. I say this because if they win this year, it could mean that they win again. The problem is that there is a very vocal segment of the media that believe that if the A’s win it all this year it will prove that there is nothing wrong with baseball’s economic system. It’s just not true. Ready, Set, Rant!

I’m sick of hearing people say that the Oakland A’s prove that there is nothing wrong with baseball’s economics. Yes, the A’s have a low payroll. Yes they have made the playoff for four straight years. Yes, teams like LA and Baltimore have spent gobs of money with little results. So what? One team does not make a trend. One example does not constitute proof. The A’s are what statisticians call an outlier, a result so different form the rest of the data that it becomes insignificant to the discussion.

The A’s success is attributable to equal parts genius, and luck. Sandy Alderson and Billy Beane were able to take their baseball philosophy and find players who could succeed but were not valued by other clubs. They took guys who were under sized (Tim Hudson), had poor velocity (Barry Zito), were too slow (Jason Giambi), or were defensively challenged (Scott Hatteberg), and made them into a winning team. Their success is due to an organizational philosophy, paraphrased from Michel Lewis’ “Moneyball,” “We can’t afford players with all five tools, so which one tool should we screen for?” The answer is on base percentage. The A’s have taken castoffs like Hatteberg, a catcher who can’t throw, runs slow and has little power and produced a team that has won 3 of the last 4 AL West titles. They also took pitchers no one wanted (Tim Hudson, too short; Barry Zito/ Chad Bradford/ Keith Foulke, no fastball; Jim Mecir, no knees) and put together the best staff in the AL.

Finally Beane has been a master trader over the past five seasons, trading away players the A’s couldn’t resign, or didn’t need for future stars. For example he traded Kenny Rogers in a year the A’s would not make the playoffs and got Terrence Long, a future starter and runner up for rookie of the year. He traded a 38 year old closer and got Jason Isringhausen. He traded a minor leaguer for Billy Koch (11-4 44saves 3.27), then traded Koch for Foulke (9-1, 43 saves, 2.08). In successive years he stole Kevin Appier, Jeremy Giambi, Johnny Damon, and Jermaine Dye from KC, while unloading busts like Ben Grieve, Jose Ortiz, and AJ Hinch. Beane has also always been able to make the trade that got the A’s over the hump in the second half, (Dye, Jose Guillen, etc.). Genius.

The A’s have also been lucky. They hit big in drafting the big three, and have been able to bring players along through their farm system including current stars Miguel Tejada, Eric Chavez, Mark Ellis and Ramon Hernandez. In another stretch of luck, aside from Dye and now Mark Mulder, the A’s have not had any key players miss time due to injury.

But it can’t last forever. Tejada is likely gone after this year, and the A’s will look towards rookie Bobby Crosby to replace him. Guys like Chavez, Hudson, Zito, Mulder, Hatteberg, Foulke and others will command more money when they become free agents than the A’s can afford. The team can only go back to the well for so long, eventually the farm system won’t be able to replace the guys who leave for big money on other teams. When that happens the A’s will fall back to the basement like they did between 1992-1999. Beane will eventually leave also, and who knows if his replacement will be able to keep the ship afloat? The fact is that if the A’s had the same resources as the Yankees they would have kept Giambi, and would be able to keep the nucleus of the team intact. But they can’t and they won’t, and so while teams with money like they Yanks and Braves continue to make the playoffs year after year, teams like the A’s, Twins, and Marlins will have short runs, and then fade away. At the same time teams like the Expos will be eliminated from playoff contention in early April.

Even if the A’s win the World Series this year it doesn’t prove anything. Baseball still needs better revenue sharing and a salary cap. Otherwise the haves will win year after year, while the have-nots make short runs and then fade away. It sucks that some part of me is hoping that my team loses in the short term, so that the game can be fixed for the long hall, but that’s how it goes. Fuck it! Go A’s!

Thursday, October 2, 2003

Rush Makes Waste By DMJ

Well, at least ESPN got their money's worth.

We're barely four weeks into the NFL season, and already the Disney-owned cable sports channel's investment in porcine windbag Rush Limbaugh is paying dividends in the form of free publicity--and lots of it.
Limbaugh's claim during the Sept. 28 broadcast of "Sunday NFL Countdown" that Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb was overrated because of a shadowy conspiracy among the media to promote an African-American quarterback has already become fodder for sports-talk radio and unknown dozens of sports columnists nationwide.
Never mind that the same sports media he speaks of has savaged other black QBs like Kordell Stewart and Charlie Batch. (Breaking news--as I'm writing this and watching game 1 of the division series between Your Oakland Athletics and the Boston Red Sox, ESPN has just announced that Limbaugh has resigned from the show. But let's not let facts get in the way of a good rant, shall we?)

Never mind that Limbaugh was silent about similarly "overrated" quarterbacks like Brad Johnson (perhaps the greatest recipient ever in the Super Bowl Sweepstakes, thanks to a truly awe-inspiring Tampa Bay defense). Quite frankly, nothing Limbaugh said has surprised me at all. I've known for years that this obnoxious, braying jackass was also a racist, sexist, and pretty much the poster boy for closet xenophobes everywhere.
This is the man who said in 1994, "If you want to know what America used to be--and a lot of people wish it still were--then you listen to Strom Thurmond," referring to the thankfully-dead hatemonger who once ran for president on a platform of "segregation forever."

This is a man who said in 1990, "Have you ever noticed how all newspaper composite pictures of wanted criminals resemble Jesse Jackson?"

This is a man who told a radio caller, who said black people need to be heard, that "they are 12 percent of the population. Who the hell cares?"

So nobody, least of all the suits at Disney, should have been the least bit surprised when, left to his own devices, Limbaugh spewed ignorant invective all over the set Sunday. Let's go to (a transcript of) the videotape:

"I think what we've had here is a little social concern in the NFL. The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well. There is a little hope invested in McNabb, and he got a lot of credit for the performance of this team that he didn't deserve. The defense carried this team."

I'll leave discussions of McNabb's relative worth to the aforementioned call-in hacks and "jake reporters," to borrow a phrase from Rich Gannon. The real outrage here is not that Rush said something so stupid and racist--hell, he's made a career out of saying, stupid, racist things, and judging by the radio ratings, there are a whole lot of people in this country who agree with him. No, my anger here is directed squarely at ESPN--a "sports" network so desperate for ratings growth that they recently aired a one-hour special about Anna Kournikova's swimsuit calendar shoot (I didn't watch--more than
once, anyway). If you tune in right now, you may catch shows like "Playmakers," "Around the Horn," or "Pardon the Interruption," which offer nothing except solid proof that no one at ESPN learned anything from the way MTV so destroyed its network with endless episodes of "Cribs" and "The Real World" (sorry, Malik) that they had to start a new network and advertise that it just played music videos--what a radical idea!

So ESPN hired a congenital liar like Limbaugh, a man whose experience with football pretty much starts and ends with the "knee injury" he claims to have sustained during a high school game and that kept him as far away from Vietnam as humanly possible. Proving that he can't even tell the truth about himself, Limbaugh later claimed that his 4-F status in the draft was because of a pilonidal cyst, which is basically a disgusting, hairy boil on his ass. (Sorry for sneaking in that horrifying mental image there.) They can't possibly make the argument that there weren't enough experienced football commentators available--outside of the usual cast of former players and coaches always clamoring for some of that TV money, the network had just fired former Green Bay Packer Sterling Sharpe, a thoughtful, insightful

They can't make the argument that they were "experimenting" with the idea of bringing in an outsider, an Everyman, to provide a fresh perspective on the game--their sister company ABC's experiment with Dennis Miller will go down as one of the most embarrassing moments in the storied history of Monday Night Football. To paraphrase a much better writer than myself, King Kaufman of, if I wanted to hear an uninformed idiot's perspective on the game, I can turn to either side of the couch and ask one of my friends.

So we are left with this--ESPN hired this one-man Klan precisely because they knew what a polarizing figure he is. They knew that his "dittoheads," so named because they parrot everything Limbaugh says without bothering to mentally process it, will tune in to see their man. They knew that football fans will continue to tune in, because, what, we're gonna go to church instead? Hell, they were probably banking that even people like me, who froth at the mouth at the mention of Limbaugh's name, would tune in, looking for more reasons to hate him (like I needed more).

Limbaugh's hiring was a crude, craven act by a company that (surprise, surprise) puts the scrambling, scrounging, desperate search for ratings and money above everything else. They gave a platform to a man they knew was a liar and a racist, and now they'll expect us to believe that they are shocked, that they feel terrible about what was said, and that they meant no offense to McNabb or the millions of African-Americans whose achievements are routinely dismissed by racist conservatives like Limbaugh as either the gifts of affirmative action or failures masked by a crusading liberal media.
They'll appear contrite in front of the cameras, telling us with glum faces what a disappointing affair this has been, and how Limbaugh's statements don't speak for ESPN, or Disney, and how much they value diversity. And then they'll go back behind closed doors and high-five each other when the ratings reports come in.

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Terror and Treason

Believe it or not there are people out there who do not support the United States. I know, its shocking. There are people who dislike our government, and our way of life. But I'm not talking about foreign powers, or hidden enemy agents, I'm talking about other Americans. There is a symbol of open rebellion that is flown in many parts of our country. I speak of none other than the Confederate Stars and Bars.

That's right, there are states that still fly the Stars and Bars over their government offices, be they local or state. My question is, how do we, as a nation, allow a symbol of open rebellion to fly over any number of state capitals in this alleged union?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for rebellion. Even Ben Franklin said something about needing to overthrow the government every so often. But I also believe that the Confederate flag represents a few things, and ain’t none of them good. Take slavery for example. Now I imagine you’d be hard pressed to find someone today who would support slavery in a public forum, unless you allowed them to wear a white hood while they said it. But by flying the Stars and Bars governments are promoting and showing allegiance to a pro-slavery symbol. Or, if you think slavery is too harsh an example, how about just plain hatred? Is it a coincidence that the KKK carries the Stars and Bars in their rallies?

Some people claim that the Confederate flag is simply a historical item that represents Southern heritage. Of course, Southern heritage is closely tied to slavery, anti-civil rights legislation/ demonstration, and the KKK. Or how about this quote from Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephenson, “Our new government is founded upon the great truth, that the Negro is not equal to the White man.”

Here are some more quotes from flag supporters found in an article DailyNews/flag000406.html

“Jerry Sullivan, who wore a Confederate flag as a cape, said Riley had a new nickname, “LBJ, Little Black Joe, because of what he’s doing today.”

“‘They want a nice, multi-ethnic society and they know they can’t have it,’ said Lake High, former South Carolina League of the South chairman, accusing liberals, the media and Washington politicians of targeting Southern heritage.”

Long live the South! OK, here’s where the Rant gets controversial, ready? Flying the confederate flag in the south, where oppressed people, the progeny of former slaves, the children of the civil rights movement live and work is like flying the Afghani flag at ground zero. Flying the Stars and Bars attempts to legitimize and preserve the ideology behind one of the greatest evils in American history. And to do it to the very people who are still oppressed today, is deplorable.

I believe in freedom of speech. Individuals who wish to preserve and display the Confederate flag should be allowed to do so, but the government, all governments, from the Feds to your local PTA should remove the Stars and Bars from any and all public spaces. Anything else should be considered an act of treason against the United States. There is no middle ground. We cannot, and should not tolerate a symbol of hate to fly over those whom it oppresses.
6:16 pm edt

Sunday, September 28, 2003


    I wrote this for an Asian American Studies class back in 1999. Some interesting points, some stuff I don't know that I still believe but I got an A. For years various groups have protested the way Asians are portrayed in the media. In 1985 pressure from Asian American advocacy groups led to a disclaimer being added to the film Year of the Dragon. The Media Action Network for Asian Americans (MANAA) attempted a similar action with the film Rising Sun in 1993. The issue in both cases was the fact that these films cast Asians and Asian Americans in a negative light. Both films used the same Asian stereotypes that people have seen a thousand times before. It is an old story, ever since Chinese Laborers began to come over in large numbers in 1852[1] anti-Asian propaganda has been an accepted part of the American landscape. By now the basic stereotypes are well known, and well documented. Asians occupy a duplicitous role in American media, images and stereotypes that at times appear to be polar opposites serve to affirm the right of the west to dominate the east. Franklin Wong ties these contradictions together in his work On Visual Media Racism: Asians in the American Motion Pictures, notes, fantasies of threatening Asian men, emasculated eunuchs, alluring Asian dragon ladies, and submissive female slaves all work to rationalize white male domination[2]. So, despite the fact that Asians can occupy any of these poles, they are not allowed the middle ground, and therefore, not allowed to be fully developed characters. The fact that Asians in film have been perpetual second class characters is bad in and of its self; however there is an even more insidious element working in the mass media. This is, subliminal Asian stereotyping through the use of characters that are not overtly Asian, yet embody all the same fears and prejudices usually applied to Asian people. Often, this tactic is used by white characters and entertainers who attempt to exoticize themselves through the use of Asian imagery. This covert stereotyping is even more dangerous than kind seen in such films as Gung Ho, or The World of Suzie Wong because one cannot point to it an obvious or overt denigration of Asian people. Yet these images are clearly focused on Asians and their effect is doubled because these anti-Asian stereotypes are often thrust upon those whom the audience finds most alien: extra-terrestrials. 

     Asians have long been seen as the perpetual other. They cannot assimilate to the degree that most European immigrants can because their appearance always gives them away. Asian Americans, even those whose families have been in the US for several generations, are constantly faced with comments like, You speak very good English, and So, where are you from?. Since their citizenship cannot be determined by looks alone Asians are always seen as alien. Therefore, giving Asian attributes to an extra-terrestrial serves to re-enforce this feeling. To paraphrase Frederick Douglas, you cannot oppress a person with out first stripping them of their humanity[3]. There is no better way strip Asians of there humanity than to make them entirely not of this world. Also, many science fiction stories revolve around either a) a group of white male heroes setting out to conquer the universe or b) aliens invading Earth, usually by way of the US. These heroes see those aliens who are uncooperative as the enemy, so, it is natural for these sci-fi Matthew Perrys to destroy and subjugate the offending alien worlds, often questing after their exotic alien women as well. Often there aliens are made up to look like old Asian stereotypes, many look as though they have just stepped right out of an old WWII propaganda poster. The very foundation of science fiction as a genre is based in the ideas of manifest destiny and Yellow Peril. 

     The history of Asian extra-terrestrials can be traced to Sax Rohmers character Fu Manchu, who, Only served to enhance the most negative images of Asians and Yellow Peril. (Fong, 175). Fu Manchu, an evil Asian man bent on world domination, found his extra-terrestrial counter part in the character of Ming the Merciless. Ming, the thinly veiled Asian villain first appeared on screen in 1936. With his Fu Manchu mustache and taped on epicanthil fold Ming (Richard Alexander) wanted to take over the Universe, the ultimate embodiment of Yellow Peril. Of course he is thwarted in his plan by the dashing Polo player turned super hero[4] Flash Gordon (Buster Crabbe). Gordon of course is all that white America sees as ideal, tall, blonde, and good looking. Therefore it is seen as natural that Mings (Caucasian looking) daughter (Jean Rogers) rejects her father and falls in love with Gordon. Mings daughter had to white in order to get around Hollywoods anti-miscegenation laws. This film series exemplifies how Americas attitudes and fears towards Asians could be placed upon a wholly foreign (extra-terrestrial) entity with great success. When the Japanese sprang forward as an economic power during the 1980s Flash Gordon was reborn to the silver screen, and once again Ming, unchanged from his previous incarnation threatened the western world. 

     In 1966 Gene Roddenberry unveiled his creation to the world. It would become a sci-fi legend. In Roddenberrys universe the Earth has been unified into one government. Indeed much of the known universe has joined The Federation of Planets and dedicated its self to peace and scientific research. Roddenberrys story follows a multiracial cast as they attempt to go ...where no man has gone before. Star Trek was meant to be a utopia, a time when all the people of Earth were united in a common cause, and, on the surface it succeeded. There they were, White American, African, Asian, Russian, and Alien working together to explore the unknown. However a more critical evaluation of the shows dynamics reveals another message. The ships overtly Asian character is Hikaru Itaka Sulu played by Japanese American actor George Takei. People have critiqued Sulus role on the show, saying that it was the typical Asian sidekick role seen on earlier shows like, Have Gun Will Travel, and, The Green Hornet. Timothy Fong says that Sulu , was an obvious sexless character. While all the primary male crew members...had intergalactic encounters with women --human and alien-- Lt. Sulu was always left alone. ( Fong, 184). With just this superficial reading of the character it is clear that he is fulfilling the model minority stereotype; he is smart, subordinate. a good worker, and a-sexual. However, not only is Sulu is not the only Asian stereotype on the show, he is also the least stereotyped Asian type on the ship. There are two other far more harmful Asian stereotypes displayed through extra-terrestrial characters. 

     First there are the Klingons, people who follow the Star Trek world today know Klingons as made popular by African American actor Michael Dorn. Currently the Klingons resemble Humans with large bone structures on their foreheads. Like Humans, they come in a variety of colors. This version of the Klingons first came about in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn, (1982). From here on the Klingons began to adopt an increasingly African American look, until the most recent episodes and movies which have made them more racially diverse. This is a far cry from 1966, originally the Klingons were scotch tape Asians (Fong, 176); White actors given slanty eyes. The Klingon race incarnate all the characteristics that most scare White America. The Klingons are violent, ill tempered, lustful, and drunk. They are on a mission to destroy the peaceful Federation and take over the universe. Finally, they fight to the death preferring death to defeat or capture. One scene from an episode entitled The Trouble with Tribbles almost mirrors a scene from the 1944 film Dragon Seed. In both scenes the evil Asians show up at a restaurant and demand liquor, when they are denied they go on a violent rampage. Often, they are shown eating large hunks of meat off the bone Gengis Kahn style. The association with the Mongol Hordes is further intensified with the naming of the villain Kahn played by Ricardo Montelban. 

     Just as the Mongolians were related to the more civilized and refined Chinese, the Klingons have a corresponding race, the Vulcans. The Vulcans are an alien race that was at one time just like the Klingons, (with whom they share common ancestors), warlike and evil. However the Vulcans chose logic as their religion, and so, became smart calculating, and totally devoid of emotion. The most famous Vulcan is none other than Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy) the first mate on the starship Enterprise. Mr. Spock personifies the ultimate model minority, he is smart, calm, reasonable, and he always obeys his boss Captain Kirk (William Shatner). Spocks most important characteristic though is his complete lack of sexuality. Spocks a-sexuality is even more pronounced than Sulus, in one episode it is revealed that Vulcans only desire to mate once every ten yearsduring a time called Pon Far. During this brief mating period Spock becomes consumed by lust, he nearly rapes a female nurse, and almost kills Kirk. To top it all off Spock shows shades of Charlie Chan, in that he often spouts off old Vulcan proverbs in a Confucius Say manner. These depictions of Asian like extra-terrestrials clearly demonstrate the prevailing attitudes towards Asians, that is that they are fine as long as they stay in their place, and dont have normal libidos. 

     As time and social attitudes have changed it has become slightly less acceptable to throw around Asian stereotypes out in the open. While it still happens, the Political Correctness of the nineties has brought more attention to the issue. Writers like Gina Marchetti and Elaine Kim have turned a critical eye towards the media and its depiction of Asian people. Groups like MANNA, and the JACL try to educate both the public and film makers about Asian stereotypes, however the Asian as alien imagery lives on. In fact one of the most successful movie franchises ever is one of the worst perpetrators of this kind of subliminal racism. George Lucas Star Wars series is rife with racist images many of them associated with Asians. The first featured Asian like extra-terrestrial appeared in The Empire Strikes Back. The first and most prominent Asian extra-terrestrial is the wise old Yoda. Yoda represents the wise old shopkeeper stereotype, also found in movies like The Karate Kid. Yoda plays the Sensei to young Luke Skywalker and teaches him the ancient and mystical ways of The Force, just as Mr. Miagi takes Daniel under his wing in Kid. This story line draws influence from Asian ideas of Karma and Chi. The Force is both the living and spiritual energy of the universe that can be used to enhance the body and mind, and eventually rights all wrongs. At the end of the film a pilot named Nim Num who speaks a Asian like language helps the heroes fight the evil Empire. Nim Num is short, has large round eyes with slanted lids, and an almost fish-like appearance reminiscent of old anti-Asian propaganda. Nim Num however, was only a glimpse of what was to come. 

     In 1999 Lucas released the long anticipated prequel to his Star Wars Trilogy. People crammed theaters to full capacity to get a look at this latest addition to the Star Wars series entitled The Phantom Menace. To the dismay of Asian audience members there are two Asian stereotypes represented, the Yellow Peril, and the Geisha. First the audience is introduced to the sinister Viceroy Nute Gunray of the Trade Federation. The Federation is the precursor to what is in the later episodes the Empire. The Federation wants to control the economy of the galaxy and they will do anything to achieve their goal. This is a common fear of White America and is the theme in films like Rising Sun. As the film opens they are blockading the small planet Naboo in an attempt to take control of the planets trade and shipping rights. The Viceroy and his cohorts have caricatured Asian features and speak with thick imitation Asian accents. These characters caused great deal of controversy, for the first time the Asian extra-terrestrial is being called into question. In one article Andrew Gumbel states The noseless leaders of the Galactic Trade Federation are clearly a throwback to the Yellow Peril characters popular in Flash Gordon and other series, but risk being interpreted as a racial slur[5]. 

     While it is refreshing to see Lucas and his extra-terrestrial Asians called to the mat the press made little or no mention of another, more subtle Asian stereotype present in Phantom. Queen Amidala of the embattled Naboo people is depicted as a strong yet inexperienced leader. While holding court she is dressed in elaborate Kabuki like garments, a sort of Space Geisha. Conversely, when she is out adventuring through space she loses the kabuki make up dresses more like a soldier. In this swashbuckling persona she looks more White and can go around shooting bad guys and climbing up buildings. It is also while in her more western looking garb that she shows the most leadership and makes the best decisions. Interestingly her mind seems to follow her image; while in her Space Geisha gear she is passive, indecisive weak, all traits associated with the geisha stereotype. While in this state she follows the advice of her mentor Senator Palpatine, who the audience knows, is the real man behind her peoples predicament. Senator Palpatine is a privileged white man, so, it is no surprise that he is able to dominate Amidala when she adopts her Asian persona. The final repercussion associated with these Asian extra-terrestrials is the issue of homogenization. Already Asians and Asian Americans are faced with racist ideals that see all Asians as the same. Many people cannot tell the difference between different Asian ethnicities, or cultures. Fong acknowledges this problem when discussing Asian Americans working in the news media, he says, This notion assumes that Asian Americans are just one homogenous entity, which they are not. (Fong, 198). It this general ignorance about the differences between different Asian groups that lead to incidents ranging from the Vincent Chin killing, to the casting of Japanese American actor Gedde Watanabe as a Chinese exchange student. This problem is compounded by the Asians as extra-terrestrials paradigm. By taking Asian stereotypes and assigning them to ambiguous Asian extra-terrestrials the lines between ethnicities are further blurred. 

     By taking a closer look at not just overt Asian characters but at characters that are given Asian characteristics it is clear that the problem of racial stereotyping is deeper and more subtle than previously reported. Even as America becomes more and more Politically Correct covert stereotypes continue, largly unchallenged. The same fears and hatreds that were seen in the past persist today. There are bad Asians and good model minority Asians. The difference between good and bad Asian aliens is the same as between good and bad Asian characters in other films. In her analysis of Year of the Dragon Marchetti says, Only the rich are villainous among the Chinese. The Chinese workers may be ignorant, passive, and impotent, but...decidedly not villainous (Marchetti, 295). The same idea of powerful or rich Asians is evident in the films Rising Sun, and Gung Ho. On the other side , good Asians are the quiet hard workers in The Good Earth, and Go For Broke who take their abuse without complaint. Gross Asian stereotypes are fading in favor of more indirect ones. Film makers who continue to use Asian extra-terrestrials can always claim that critics are reading too much into a simple character. By hiding behind the veil of Science Fiction Hollywood will continue to be able to set an anti-Asian agenda. It has been a long road from Fu Manchu and Ming the Merciless to the Viceroy Gunray and Queen Amidala but the attitudes behind the stereotypes have yet to change. Asians are still seen as a threat to Americas economy, there is still a desire to strip Asian men and women of their humanity in order to justify their domination by white male western society. White America sees these Asian extra-terrestrials the same way they see other Asian villains; as Marchetti says they feel they have the moral right to eradicate the villain because the foreign represents a threat to the racial and ethnic status quo (Marchetti, 287). 

 [1] Fong, 11 
[2] As cited in Gina Marchettis Ethnicity and Cultural Studies. 
[3] From Martin, Waldo E. The Mind of Frederick Douglass, The University of North Carolina Press: 1984 [4] From review. 
[5] from The Independant June 4 1999 

 Fong, Timothy P. The Contemporary Asian American Experience: Beyond the Model Minority, Prentice Hall Inc.: 1998 
 Friedman, Lester D. (Ed.) Unspeakable Images, University of Illinois Press: 1991 
 Martin, Waldo E. The Mind of Frederick Douglass, The University of North Carolina Press: 1984 

 On Line
 (http://) /TOS/640char ~calice/oh/images starwars/nstar4.htm 

Howard, Ron Gung Ho, 1985 
 Hughes, John Sixteen Candles, 1984 
 Lucas, George Star Wars: Episode 1, 1999 
 Lucas, George The Empire Strikes Back 
 McG Charlies Angels, 2000 
 Okazaki, Steve Living On Tokyo Time, 1987 
 Ping, Chu Yin Shanghai Noon, 1999 
 Tasun, Frank The Geisha Boy, 1958 
 Wang, Wayne Dim Sum, 1984 

 Star Trek, Amok Time 1967 
 Star Trek, The Trouble With Tribbles, 1967