Monday, November 29, 2004

File Under "Society:" AP Roe v. Wade Poll

The AP released a story about a poll it ran about what people think about overturning Roe v. Wade.

(Ok, before I continue, if you can't think of one person who has a different opinion about abortion than you whom you respect, just stop reading. Everyone has enough stress in their life without getting worked up about one Mariner-loving Kansas City resident's opinion. I'm commenting on the article about public opinion, not commenting on the abortion itself, so keep you socks on.)

Briefly, the poll says 59% oppose overturning Roe v. Wade, 31% would want a Supreme Court nominee who would reverse it, leaving 10% somewhere else. The article then follows with this quote:
"While I don't have a strong feeling about abortions personally, I wouldn't want
the law overturned and return to the days of backdoor abortions," said Colleen
Dunn, 40, a Republican and community college teacher who lives outside
I guess it's a good thing we have a court to listen to reasoned arguments, because apparently a community college teacher (of what, by the way?) doesn't understand the basics of even the most well known case. Let's be clear: overturning Roe v. Wade would not make abortions illegal. Rather, overturning it would mean it would then be possible for state legislatures to pass a law restricting abortion; it would remove the restriction on legislative action regarding abortion that currently stands. There may be a concern that some States would revert to pre-1973 laws that outlaw abortion, but it is these laws, not a court decision, that would prohibit abortions, and only in those states. (Washington State, by the way, would not be one of these states.) Since most Americans favor keeping at least SOME abortions legal, it's quite likely that even in these states, new laws would be enacted.

Moreover, the most likely candidate for replacement on the Supreme Court bench is Rehnquist, who's currently suffering from thyroid cancer. Even replacing him with a Scalia clone would not change the so-called "balance of power" on the court.

I get much less worked up about the issue, and much more worked up about people distorting the issue in order to incite. It's not that the poll isn't a worthwhile enterprise, but a quote that high in the article should be subject to some factual scrutiny. I'm also disappointed that I can't seem to find the actual quesitons asked, since they play a large role in how people respond.

Maybe if something would happen with the Mariners, I won't be so prone to wandering into dangerous off-topic waters. But it's been pretty quiet from First Avenue South.

Monday, November 15, 2004

A hit in his first at-bat

A Welcome to Mariner Morsels, another M's blog. I'd recommend reading their first entry, posting an email exchange with Bob Finnigan. Some observations about the exchange:
  • Finnigan generally doesn't expect anything much different from the M's front office, even though this is the first complete offseason for the new GM. He implies that CEO Howard Lincoln is the main instigator of organizational philosophy.
  • Finnigan breaks down the "$10-12 Million to resign veterans" figure he published. Meche-$3M, Wilson 2.5, Villone 2, Cabrera 1, Olivo .75. He says his figures are based partly on his estimates and partly on what he hears from the organization, so we don't know if the suggestion that Dan Wilson is worth $2.5M is his lunacy or the M's. The Villone and Cabrera figures are also worrisome, but not as surprising.

What boggles my mind--assuming Finnigan is somewhat accurately representing Lincoln--is how a business shark like Lincoln would stand for overpaying mediocre veterans. If he's so wrapped up in the bottom line, wouldn't he expect frugality? Furthermore, we've seen the M's offer raises to young players who don't even qualify for arbitration. Wouldn't a cut-throat business model eschew that kind of charity?

Finnigan would probably be a lot more credible in his reporting if he either 1) refused to publish figures without independant coroboration or 2) continually prefaced his assertions with, "The Mariners front office says..." or "According to Lincoln, ..."

If you're reading this blog--and I hope you read more than just mine--you are fortunate not to have to rely solely Finnigan repeating the lines the front office gives him. There are some great web resources run by fans who pay attention and care about baseball. For instance, if you're curious about the M's payroll, check out the comprehensive reports on Dugout Dollars.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Many roads to greatness

Do the Mariners a favor--don't believe one word from them or the media if it tries to lower expectations for next season. The only reason the Mariners can't get significantly better this year is their own stupidity.

Two of the better Mariner bloggers still going--it's been a tough year on everyone--have laid out specific plans for the offseason that fall well below the publically declared budget contraints and don't morgage the future, while improving the team now and for the long haul.

Trent at Leone For Third outlines his plan and comes in at $76.2 Million. Dave at USSMariner explains his proposal and comes in at $86.1 Million. Trent's plan relies on trades a lot more, which makes it a lot more speculative, since it depends on the cooperation of other GMs. But let's look at the similarities in Trent's and Dave's plan:

Each recommends signing Adrian Beltre, Matt Clement, and J.D. Drew. Taking the highest estimates for each player, that would cost $26 Million. Each plan recommmends trading Randy Winn and Ryan Franklin, who are guaranteed a combined $6.1 Million next year. Both agree that Wilson will be back for $1M and that Guardado will be the closer, even if that's a bad idea. Both agree that the M's need a viable shortstop option if Jose Lopez doesn't work out. Both say that considering the options, sticking Ibanez at first base is probably the best route. Neither expect anything out of Spiezio.

The most important thing to take away from this is that two knowledgable fans were, in a matter of weeks, able to assess the Mariner's needs and make a plan that would fit within their resources and meet those needs.

Of course, both plans aren't as comprehensive as the a front office strategy needs to be, since they offer one scenario, not a multitude of choices if one or more trades or signings doesn't pan out. In addition, both plans are, I think, optimistic about the Mariners' willingness to let go of players that they have thought were valuable and easy to retain--Winn and Franklin. Both players play positions that can be upgraded, and the big disappointment for me would be to see the M's hedge offers to Clement and Drew because they figure they already have a full outfield and rotation.

So a big barrier to the M's succeeding in the off-season is tentativeness. They need to be decisive and resolute. If the worry about letting current players go is public perception, there's an easy response to nay-sayers: "You don't want us to field the same team we did last year, right?"

Of course, they also have to be reasonably intelligent. Being decisive about the wrong moves just digs us into a deeper hole.