What are we doing, America?

September 16, 2016

I was listening to NPR this morning, the show hosted by Tom Ashcroft (just looked it up, it’s On Point ) and in one of the intros back from break he recaps what’s roughly happened in the presidential race recently. I honestly don’t remember what he said about Hillary Clinton, something about her pneumonia problems. Then he mentions Donald Trump trying to sound less racist.

Now, with other candidates this would seem to be an unfair association. How many politicians have to work to appear less racist? Not a whole lot. With Trump it’s just a statement of fact. The guy has embraced white nationalism. He shares their memes, he retweets their tweets, he has only just started to (poorly) attempt to communicate with black voters by telling them how horrible their lives are. The guy loves hispanics because one of his buildings sells a good taco bowl. The guy does a lot of stupid, hateful, racist things.

And according to 538 he has a roughly  40% chance of becoming our next president.

I can get people disagreeing with Clinton and democrats on policy. I can even get people not liking Clinton as a person – though all of the crap about her being a criminal is just that, crap. But the person running against her is an unvarnished bigot, racist, misogynist who has offered very little in the way of actual policy, who has a ridiculous budget proposal, and who has suggested the US simply default on its debts and shakedown its allies for protection money while cozying up to Russia.

We all know there is intolerance in the world. There is hate. There is ugliness. I’m not sure what it says about us as a nation if we allow that to take control of our political system. But it’s not good. I’m not the most patriotic person on the block, but this is one of the few things that has legitimately made me question whether I want to stay here.

Gun Makers Are Worried About Their Profit Margins

August 4, 2016

CNN has what will probably become a ubiquitous article up about how a gun manufacturer is concerned about Hillary Clinton as our president. I could be dishonest here, but I think gun owners fueling the sales spikes of firearms whenever the NRA or Ruger or whatever right wing crank you want to name bangs the panic drum over taking away your guns are just being stupid. Sorry, but there it is. It always gets shrouded as a second amendment issue, but none of these people trying to rile up the people who listen to them care at all about the second amendment. What do they care about?

Money. This article from CNN actually makes that pretty clear, focusing on sales figures and how the Gun Panics drum up sales. If gun makers were honest, they’d probably tell you what you should already know – that extended background checks aren’t going to really restrict a thing for the vast majority of gun buyers, and is unlikely to hurt their sales. But if they can whip you into a lather that the government is going to come for your guns, well, there you have it. A 19% sales spike.

As for the NRA, you may as well take the “R” out of that acronym. They don’t care about rifles, or hunters, or anything beyond who funds them and what favors they can cater and from who. They don’t support conservation efforts, which should be a huge deal to any hunter. If we don’t conserve our forests and wild areas we won’t have anywhere to hunt. What areas we would have will be devoid of wildlife.  The NRA works with gun makers to drum up panic to get people to buy guns, and they push for larger access to national lands, not for hunters, who already have a lot of  access to those lands, but for big oil to have an easier time moving in. Once big oil moves in, you think hunters are going to be allowed near the rigs and pipelines with their hunting rifles to take potshots at some white tail? I doubt it.

On top of that, despite what we see on the news every night, the United States is arguably as safe as it has ever been. Violent crime this decade, as a whole, is at a level that hasn’t been seen since the 1950s. Even cop deaths has continued a downward trend since the time of Reagan. For Obama’s 8 years in office, there has been an average of just 61 police deaths per year, which is down from the average in W’s tenure which was down from Clinton’s which was down from H.W.’s which was down from Reagan’s.

folks, you don’t need five or six guns, and you don’t need to pad the pockets of people who are using you. If you enjoy guns, and you like firing them or whatever, go for it. It’s your life. I’ve fired a handful of rifles over time and it was an alright way to spend an evening. But don’t be driven by fear.

I don’t get it

July 24, 2016

Maybe it’s because I don’t have enough skin in the game and was always willing to vote for whoever wasn’t Donald Trump, but the email leak hullabaloo just doesn’t make any sense to me. Everything I have seen about it just seems like internal bitching about a guy they felt needed to wake up and get out of the way. Yeah, it might rub some of his supporters the wrong way, especially if they are looking for reasons why he lost, but absolutely nothing seems like a smoking gun, or even that big of a deal. Go through your own emails/private messages at work and you’re likely to see a similar thread of bitching about whatever daily things come up and get in the way of what you perceive to be the bigger picture.

Instead, this seems to have the potential for people to blow up in a collective OMG moment and blow it up into something far bigger than it actually is.  Which seems to be what happens with the Clintons. On the one hand, it can be said that maybe they court this stuff, but on the other the public and media seems to be like crack addicts every time the whiff of a scandal floats in the air. From the Ken Starr fueled non-sense of President Clinton’s terms to Senator Clinton’s email mess  there never seems to be any sense of perspective or restraint.

Meanwhile, the GOP nominee repeatedly gives twitter support neonazis, wants to back out of every treaty he can remember, and employs as many people with ties to Putin and Russian oligarchy as he can and we don’t hear boo about it from the media at large or supposedly independent sources such as  Wikileaks.

The real story here shouldn’t be the DNC and it’s ridiculously mundane email gripe fest but the who and why behind who obtained the emails in the first place.

How good is Athanasiou?

June 27, 2016

So, the Wings cleared some cap space. With Yandle and Goligoski already off the mnarket, there’s not exactly a lot of help to be had on the blueline. Up front, there is Stamkos and then some guys who would best fit as second or third line centers and who should’t necessarily be expected to bring much production from those spots.

The situation is a bit different on the wings, though. If you’re looking for forwards to move up and down the wings and score goals, there are a number of good options who bring a variety of positives and negatives, depending on what you’re looking for. The Wings could use some more guys with size (who actually use it) and could look at guys like Kyle Okposo and Milan Lucic (not to mention Troy Brouwer, Andrew Ladd, or even Shane Doan). If you’re just looking for some more socring, there are guy like Loui Eriksson, Jiri Hudler, or Teddy Purcell. There are options.

So, going out and grabbing some clear upgrades at wing would be a lot easier than trying to pull in Stamkos or a non-existent D. Whch brings up the question: how good is Andreas Athanasiou?

We know Larkin has the potential to be a legitimate top2 center, but we can’t say that about pretty much anyone else on the roster. Zetterberg might be able to hold down a second line center spot for another year and give reasonable production (50-ish points) but does anyone want to put money on that? Sheahan’s production rate has slipped each of the his three seasons in the  NHL, and he was never a huge producer in lower leagues, so generating offense is probably something we shouldn’t have a huge expectation of. Which leaves Athanasiou.

Is it worth buying some long term changes on the wing if we are unsure of how good our centers are? And how much could better wings help make our centers look better? For instance, instead of putting Abdelkader and Nyquist on Larkin’s wing, but what about if those wings were Lucic and Okposo? The second group looks a lot better, doesn’t it?

If we think that Larkin, Athanasiou, and Sheahan can hold down the center spots in our top9, it wouldn’t be nuts to throw our money at a couple of quality wings. It would also be the easiest way to inject size and physical play into the top9, things the Wings seems to want to add. If the Wings don’t have faith in Athanasiou and Sheahan being long term answers at center, though, and we miss on Stamkos, we might as well just sit on our cash and let the year play out. Hopefully guys we don’t expect to be long term answers for us would increase their trade value so we can go out and get the pieces we would want.

Deal him now!

June 22, 2016

Yesterday the Detroit Free Press had an article about the Wings’ ongoing attempts to move Datsyuk’s cap hit for the upcoming season, and it carried this tidbit:

Holland has “talked to a few teams” about the situation, but early demands have focused on 2015 first-round pick Evgeny Svechnikov and Andreas Athanasiou, whose speed and ability to create something out of nothing repeatedly was demonstrated down the stretch this past season.

Notice the bolded part. Maybe I am misreading this, but this seems to be saying that teams are asking for Svechnikov or Athanasiou as if they have roughly the same value. I might also just not be a huge fan of Athanasiou, though I don’t exactly dislike him, either. But his value shouldn’t be on the same level of Svechnikov, and if the Wings are looking for trade chips to land a D…well, there you go. If clubs are essentially seeing Athanasiou as a first rounder, then pair him up with Nyquist and a pick and go fishing for the good young D that we need.

I think the ability to move Datsyuk won’t be that difficult, though. I know it looks like Detroit doesn’t have any leverage, but moves aren’t made for the sole reason of what’s happening on the ice. Arizona and Carolina seem to  bleeding cash, and having a guy on the roster that adds $7.5 million to their cap without adding any salary can be a very attractive asset to an organization looking to limit their financial damages this upcoming season. The Wings will still have to sweeten the pot, but I can’t believe it will take a significant asset. Which maybe says something about how I view Jurco and Pulkkinen as I don’t believe either or both would be a big loss in such a deal.

Because I don’t want to make another post, I also want to touch on Jimmy Howard here. It appears that Calgary doesn’t want to give up a 1st round pick for Marc-Andre Fleury, and I don’t think anyone could blame them. What I don’t get is that rumors immediately turned to them pursuing Bishop and not to Holland picking up the phone and throwing a ridiculously low offer at Calgary to take Howard off the Wings’ hands.

To be clear, Howard’s pretty much done in Detroit. He might be stuck here another year, playing behind Mrazek and hoping to be grabbed by Las Vegas next summer, and he might even put up a good year, but the club’s future is Petr Mrazek. So, get something from Howard, free up the cap space, and move forward.

Which brings me to my half-assed fan trade proposal of the post:

Datsyuk+Howard+pick/prospect for Bollig+Engelland+Wideman

This is assuming Calgary wants to dump Wideman. If they don’t, drop him from the deal and I’m still fine with it. Calgary also dumps so roster filler that wouldn’t be hard for us to either bury in the minors (Bollig) or probably deal off for a pick (Engelland), while Wideman would be the blueline upgrade that I doubt we can get on the open market (especially since Goligoski is already off the market).

Where’s the motivation for Calgary? They clear some guys off their roster they don’t necessarily want or need, which is nice. How badly would we want to see Ericsson moved just for the roster space at this point? I think Engelland and Bollig are roughly equivalent to that. Datsyuk gives them the cap floor cushion to step up to the trade deadline next February and deal off whoever they want and not have to take much of anything back to stay above the floor. I also just like the idea of one-stop shopping rather than having to look to make separate deals to fill our needs, which is more likely to be that path taken.

Wings ink Sheahan

June 15, 2016

So, the Wings gave Riley Sheahan a bridge deal. What I am left wondering, though, is where exactly this bridge is supposed to be leading to. He’s a big guy who has filled in at center on the second and third lines the past couple of seasons and the way he is most often described is that he’s a guy who always leaves you expecting more, only to not deliver. He doesn’t have bad hands, but he has yet to be consistently productive – his point per game has actually declined the past three years. He can be good defensively, but he’s not a master at it like Draper was. Sheahan has a big frame, but he’s not physical.

Reall, I’m not sure that Athanasiou couldn’t give the Wings pretty much everything Sheahan gives us while being paid just $630K. The one benefit is that Sheahan will still be an RFA at the end of the deal, but so is Dekeyser now and there’s no guarantee we’re going to get some great deal just because the guy isn’t unrestricted.

This seems like a pretty weak deal from the Wings side, and it does not give me a lot of optimism regarding the other RFA.

Torchetti Mirrors Our Downfall

June 13, 2016

I don’t dislike John Torchetti. From everything I have read and heard about him, he seems like a good guy, with an established track record, who brings a lot of positives to the Wings’ bench.

Signing him is also a reflection of the Wings having fallen from the upper echelon of the NHL.

It’s not that we signed Torchetti, it’s that we didn’t sign Marc Crawford. Or Todd Richards. Or any of the other guys the Wings were rumored to be pursuing only to see them sign elsewhere.

I know it’s the Wings’ story that they interviewed all of these guys, and that they liked Torchetti, and they brought him because they believe he will be a good fit, or whatever. All of which can be true, it probably is, but it doesn’t mean he was ever their first choice.

Or their second choice.

Or even their third choice.

He’s the guy the Wings ended up signing after a whole bunch of other guys they were interested in had signed elsewhere. He’s the guy we ended up with. That we settled for. He might do a great job here but, make no mistake, he’s here because we couldn’t close the deal on some other guys. Because we weren’t a good enough draw to pull in the better talent that wanted to go to better places.

The only thing that can change this is the obvious one. The Wings need to start winning again, and being a serious contender that people don’t look at and figure will be a first round knock out at best every year. And with all of the bad deals on our books, and the lack of impact young D knocking on the door in our prospect pipeline, it’s probably going to be awhile. And we’re going to end up with more John Torchettis.

Back Support Makes a Helluva Difference

June 6, 2016

Well, our cat hates me and tends to pee on whatever chair I use for my computer. So, lately, I had been using an old kitchen chair that has been less than forgiving to my back. This morning I finally made the switch and hauled my old computer chair out. I’m looking at getting back into some sort of online work, writing more, etc., and for that to happen I just needed a chair that didn’t cripple me.

And it makes a world of difference.  I hope to start updating this place a bit more often, and maybe showing up elsewhere on the web. should be fun.

Conservatives aren’t the majority opinion

June 3, 2016

Well, the National Review has a whine piece up about the lack of conservatives in higher education. What grabbed my attention was this short bit from the middle of the essay:

Americans start to disregard scholarly work when they correctly perceive that most mainstream institutions have established political and moral perspectives that are wildly out of sync with their own.

It sounds nice and all to conservatives, maybe it’s something they tell each other to feel better about it, I don’t know. A quick google search reveals something, though. The majority of Americans favor marriage equality. A majority of Americans support renewable energy standards. A majority of Americans support a single payer health care system. A majority of Americans are concerned about global warming.

This is just a quick google search for a few hot button political topics. Considering all of these things are typically left leaning positions are apparently favored by a majority of Americans, I’m left wondering how exactly “mainstream institutions” are finding positions “wildly out of sync” with the rest of America. It just seems like bullshit to me when I see groups of polls like this.

Instead, it seems like conservatives are simply a shrinking (though vocal) group in the United States, and that positions that were at one time considered “liberal” are now mainstream. I get it that the right doesn’t like that, but it’s something they should probably accept, at least if they value the democratic process as much as they claim, and want the nation to reflect what the majority actually wants. Of course, that would require less gerrymandering, discriminatory voter ID laws, and the like that attempt to artificially sway elections than to strengthen our democracy.

Moving Pelfrey and Sanchez to the pen helps the Tigers

June 1, 2016

There have been at least two articles about the woes of the Tigers starting pitching surrounding Pelfrey and Sanchez, and I’m sure there are more. I like the idea, and their ability to go out and at least get through a lineup twice could be a huge positive for us. Much is made that our only real replacements for them are kids who haven’t seen a full season in the bigs yet, but if we had two guys in the pen who could routinely get up and spell them after four or five innings, it would limit the young guys’ exposure and their innings, while keeping Pelfrey and Sanchez engaged and getting some innings for themselves.

The biggest problem is roster spots, but looking at our active roster at ESPN, we could get away with just sending Farmer back down and recalling one of Norris/Greene to allow us to run a rotation of Zimmerman, Verlander, Fulmer, Boyd, Norris/Green while shifting Pelfrey and Sanchez to the pen. We could even send Boyd back down and run with Norris and Greene as our fourth and fifth starters. We’d also be keeping all of our late inning options.

Regardless of what they do, anything would probably be better than what the Tigers have been doing.