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Posts Tagged ‘baseball’



Puerile Polls, Pennant Races and Pigeon Hearts

Thursday, September 9th, 2010

Calbuzz has made no secret that we think the Rasmussen Poll, with its automated calling, God-knows-what sampling technique and conservative bias, is basically crap. So we don’t pay much attention to it, even when its results seem in the ballpark. You know: a monkey typing for an infinite amount of time could produce Hamlet, etc.

So two weeks ago, when Rasmussen had the California governor’s race with Meg Whitman at 51% and Jerry Brown at 43%, and Whitman’s guard dog Mike Murphy predicted we’d trash the poll, we just said, “Why bother?” And we were going to just pay no nevermind again when, on Wednesday, we saw that Rasmussen now has the race at 48-45% for Whitman — although exactly NOTHING happened between the two surveys to move the needle (Brown’s new ad wasn’t even up yet).

But for some unknown reason, some media outlets give credence to Rasmussen, so we thought we’d just note a couple of findings that ought to steer our esteemed colleagues away from circulating this survey swill.

Here’s all you need to know: the new Rasmussen poll has Whitman beating Brown among liberals 62-35%. That’s absurd. At the same time a poll from CNN, done by Opinion Research Corp., has Meg over Jerry 48-46%, with liberals voting for Brown 80-16%, which sounds about right.

Rasmussen also has Whitman beating Brown 62-31% among voters 65 and older, compared to the CNN poll which has Brown over Whitman 50-47% in the same age group. Another stupid Rasmussen result.

Mark our words: when it gets down to the wire, and reputable pollsters have weighed in with serious results from legitimate polling, outfits like Rasmussen and Survey USA will post surveys right on the money. However they get there.

P.S.For a more complete discussion of the Calbuzz Standards for Polling, Decency and Free Lunch see this discussion from our Department of Weights and Measures.

Political pennant races: In the final week of August, the San Diego Padres led major league baseball’s Western Division by a comfortable 6.5 games, Vegas oddsmakers made them a 97.2% lock to make the playoffs and their fans were buzzing about probable post-season pitching rotations.

Then they lost 10 games in a row.

At the start of play last night, the Pads led the never-quit Giants by exactly one game, amid the caterwauling and hair-pulling of fans desperate to figure out why their team had suddenly collapsed.

The answer was simple. The Padres had merely run up against one of the venerable unwritten rules of baseball: The pennant race doesn’t start until September.

Baseball’s long history of amazing stretch runs – the ’51 Giants, the ’78 Yankees and the ’95 Mariners for starters – came to mind amid the quickly cementing Beltway conventional wisdom that Republicans are guaranteed to seize control of the House in November and, most likely,  the Senate as well.

A series of national polls, which show that voters strongly prefer a generic GOP congressional candidate over a Democratic one, has generated widespread mockery of a purportedly failed president and ignited (sheesh) created a tsunami of GOP/Fox News triumphalism, summed up best by the single fact that a Google search of John Boehner, the GOP House leader and wannabe Speaker, and the words “measuring the drapes” yields 31,900 hits.

Calbuzz would never presume to claim the unfailing wisdom of the godlike Larry Sabato or the clairvoyance of the sage Charlie Cook.  All we know is a) generic polls don’t mean squat in a local congressional district dogfight; b) trash talking in the clubhouse don’t win games on the field; c) that’s why they have horse races.

So while we’re not making any predictions about the congressional mid-terms, we do note Chris Cillizza’s pretty clear-eyed observation that the  real battle will come down to who wins the definitional fight to frame what the races are about  – a national referendum on the Administration or a district-by-district, state-by-state comparison between two competing candidates.

Oh, and did we mention that the only poll that matters is the one on election day?

Annals of weenie-hood: The Calbuzz Department of Ethical Standards and Goo-Goo Meritorious Service presents gold badges of honor to Mark Yudof and Jack Scott, UC president and community college system chancellor respectively, for resigning from the state Chamber of Commerce board of directors to protest that august body’s taking sides in the race for governor. (CSU president Charles Reed, who remains on the board, apparently has more elastic standards).

Said Scott:

I do not believe the board is using sound judgment by catapulting the California Chamber of Commerce into the center of a fierce political contest…It is destructive to the chamber’s core mission and the businesses it represents when it becomes a partisan operation.

While we admire Scott’s pluck, not to mention his choice of the woefully underused verb “catapult,” we have no beef with the Chamber looking out for their member’s interests by endorsing Republican Meg Whitman and her tax cuts for corporations and the rich. Nor do we begrudge them their decision to spend big bucks running TV ads trashing Jerry Brown.

What does rankle, however, is their lily-livered, pigeon-hearted, weak-kneed, yellow-bellied, gutless spinelessness in hiding behind the skirts of the phony pretense that what they’re putting on the air is some kind of “issue ad.”

These guys and eMeg spend half their lives whining about the injustice of unions airing independent expenditure committee spots in support of Brown, but at least the labor goons have enough courage in their convictions to identify themselves on campaign spending reports.

C’mon Zaremberg, get those weenies on your board to man up for once in their craven, cowardly lives.

Three dot lounge: Must have been an off-year for Dick: Senator Difi clocks in only at #10 on the list of the richest members of Congress…We don’t understand why Denis Thierault appears to have been the only one to report on a fascinating study that shows Democrat counties send Sacramento more in revenue than they get back in services, while GOP counties represented by anti-government types end up on the plus side of the ledger; drown the baby in the bathtub indeed…We’re glad we’re not the only ones grumbling about Fred Thompson peddling reverse mortgages on late night cable for a company that preys on old folks…Amid all the brouhaha about Krusty’s  terms as mayor of Oakland, Steve Harmon has written the best reported piece on his record we’ve seen…Bad taste costs no more

Press Clips: Shane & Snitch Meet Maureen, Mutter

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

Earth to Burton, Earth to Burton: In comments to the By God LA Times, state Demo party chief John Burton joined in the piling on of Martha Coakley, the humiliated-in-defeat candidate who ingloriously kicked away Ted Kennedy’s Democratic seat – but JoBu draws a Calbuzz penalty flag for a bonehead comment in doing so.

Speaking to the redoubtable duo of Evan Halper and Shane Goldmacher, Burton referenced Coakley’s now-infamous mega-gaffe, in which she incomprehensibly referred to legendary former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling as a “Yankee fan,” freezing in an instant a public image of herself as a suburban matron utterly disconnected from the average concerns of those who follow the Sawx.

Having shot herself in only one foot, she soon finished the job by mocking GOP foe Scott Brown for showing up in the cold to shake hands with hockey fans headed for a Bruins game at Fenway Park on New Year’s Day, at a time when she was, um, on vacation. To wit Burton:

Democratic Party Chairman John Burton said the party’s Senate candidate in Massachusetts, state Atty. Gen. Martha Coakley, was just a bad campaigner.

“Nobody in California that is running for office would take off for a weeklong vacation before the general election after a tough primary, and they probably would be standing out in front of Dodger Stadium or Candlestick Park shaking hands,” he said, alluding to one of Coakley’s widely cited gaffes involving the Boston Red Sox baseball team.

Memo to John: Baseball was last played at Candlestick Park on Sept. 30, 1999, when the dog-ass Dodgers hammered the hometown lads, 9-4. The Giants’ current facility, formerly known as PacBell Park, is now called ATT Park. We’re pretty sure you’ve been there, John, and just don’t remember. Time for your nappy, now.

Red Sox Nation: Amid the millions of trees sacrificed to the cause of explaining the victory of Republican Brown in Massachusetts, the Schilling incident stands out as the single most salient factor in the whole over-analyzed mess. Those inclined to more conventional, if not profound, analysis are directed to this swell four byline tic toc.

For our money though, Lisa Swan at The Faster Times nailed it in a well-reported take on how the Schilling Scandal became Coakley’s Snoopy-in-the-Tank defining moment, which included these comments from Schilling himself:

“It does reflect on an elected official’s relationship with her constituents. I don’t think that somebody who’s lived here their whole life, not understanding the importance of the prominence of the sports teams in this city, it’s a big deal to people,” he said.

“I think it’s another sign of her aloofness, and just the fact that she’s very out of touch, I think, with the people.”

(eMeg memo to staff: Why am I still waiting for that Power Point on the rosters of the Fresno Grizzlies and the Modesto Nuts?!?)

Heathcliff of San Francisco: Maureen Dowd’s kissy-poo column on SF Mayor Gavin Newsom stirred up a lot of cross-chatter about whether or not Prince Gavin had announced to MoDo his impending retirement from politics. Before we even get to that, though, one quick read of Dowd’s piece is all you need to know about why the Prince just couldn’t cut it in a tough, statewide race.

Self-important, self-regarding, self-absorbed and self-pitying, Newsom stops just short of taking to his fainting couch to comfort his sensitive soul from the cruel blows of an unfair world:

“I mean, oh, God,” he said, sipping green tea in his elegant office. “In a couple of years, you’ll see me as the clerk of a wine store.”

Oh, perish the thought. The overweening arrogance, condescension and utter contempt for working people found in that single sentence, and throughout the interview – “I mean, oh, God! ” – is difficult to overstate.

This is a guy who got carried by rich friends to some early success and now thinks the world owes him a ride in a sedan chair, an over-gelled poseur who screwed his best friend’s wife and now wants everyone to feel sorry for him cuz he didn’t have the stones to stick with a campaign he had no business starting in the first place.

We’re just sayin.’

As for the speculation that Newsom is getting out of politics:

“This is it. God bless. It was fun while it lasted,” he said of his career, with a rueful smile. “Guys like me don’t necessarily progress very far, which is fine.”

Yuck.  SF Weekly’s resourceful “Snitch” blog quickly squeezed a damage control quote out of Newsom’s mouthpiece, who insisted that, oh no, the Great Man is in it on behalf of the Little People for the long haul.

He was speaking tongue-in-cheek…He intends to have a very active career in public service after he completes his second term as mayor. … His point when he says things like that is that he isn’t dependent on politics in the next election, that he can stand on principle and doesn’t feel a need to compromise his beliefs. (Is it just us, or does that not dependent on politics claptrap remind you of Sarah Palin?)

The Chronicle once again dispatched the reliable Heather Knight, who got stuck cleaning up the mess the last time Newsom summoned a reporter for a national publication to share his thoughts on retirement. In a piece featuring exactly the same hed - “Newsom discusses his future” – she churned out a nice, all-you-need-to-know, 26-word lede:

Nobody seems to know what the future holds for Mayor Gavin Newsom after he’s termed out of office in January 2012 – least of all Newsom himself.

Calbuzz sez: Don’t let the door hit you in the ass, pal.

Must read of the week: In a piece fraught with significance for Bay Area news types, media analyst and occasional Calbuzzer Alan Mutter dissects the pending bankruptcy of Dean Singleton’s MediaNews empire.

Among other things, Mutter’s piece offers new evidence of Hearst Corp.’s blundering since its ill-fated acquisition of the long-lost Old Chron in 2000.

After plowing well over $1 billion into a decade-long effort to salvage its ill-starred purchase of the San Francisco Chronicle, the Hearst Corp. now stands to lose another $317 million in the upcoming bankruptcy of MediaNews Group.

Hearst improbably put money into MediaNews, its direct competitor in northern California, in the hopes of reversing the almost continuous loses it has suffered since stepping up to buy the Chronicle in 2000. Instead of fixing the long-festering problem, Hearst became not just the biggest loser among the equity investors in MediaNews. It will be the only one.

The other big news from Fifth and Mish this week: its new, modified limited hangout print wall plan to keep some of their best stuff – like the Sunday Matier and Ross column – off the web until after the paper is printed, a head-in-the-sand idea if there ever was one, as the Oracle of Cruickshank made perfectly clear.

Just breathe into the bag: Our pal Steve Maviglio is usually pretty well-informed, which is why we made a couple calls about his post suggesting that the Coakley debacle will somehow trigger DiFi’s entry into the California governor’s race.

All but picking out the campaign signs and bumper strips for Herself, Maviglio spun his scenario deep into the heavens, going so far as to suggest a reprise of Feinstein’s 1992 Thelma and Louise act with Barbara Boxer.

Sorry man, it ain’t happening.

Scoop of the week: Nice work by Greg Lucas of California’s Capitol in scoring a copy of the internal Power Point presentation being used to try to reach agreement on a package of government reforms among the members of the two-house Special Committee on Fixing Everything in Sacramento in a Jiffy. Lucas reports:

A hearing of the Senate and Assembly Select Committees on Improving State Government to discuss the proposals was canceled January 19, apparently because of a lack of agreement over items on the list.

Howz that whole consensus thing workin’ for ya?