Friday, August 04, 2006
Still, a college education can be a ticket to higher-paying jobs. College graduates earned an average $51,206 last year, while high school graduates earned $27,915, according to Census Bureau figures. Those with no high school diploma earned $18,734.I'm not sure how that translates to a "college degree becoming less than a piece of paper," but then again I probably don't have the education necessary to write attention-grabbing headlines for a living. The numbers quoted above appear to show that a college degree is worth an extra $20,000 or so per year, but there are all sorts of other factors involved in those wages.
For instance, I would suggest that college graduates, as a group, are smarter and harder-working than non-graduates. Because of that, you'd expect them to receive higher-paying jobs regardless of their education. In other words, do they make more money because they have a college degree or are the people in position to earn higher wages more likely to pursue a college degree?
In baseball terms, it's like saying first-round picks play an average of five seasons in the big leagues, while players taken in the later rounds average only one year in the majors. Is the primary reason that those first rounders end up having significantly longer careers that they were drafted earlier or were they drafted earlier because they were more likely to have longer careers to begin with?
It's a chicken-or-egg question and it's possible that I'm too biased to see it clearly. If I could go back in time, I'd skip college altogether, save the money spent on fours years of tuition, and get a head start on finding a job. Of course, if I did that then I wouldn't be able to complain about the Minnesota Daily, so it's probably a wash.
The median household income for book buyers is $41,600, compared to $35,300 for all adults.If all these numbers are to be taken at face value, a college degree is worth an extra $20,000 per year, while simply buying a few books is worth an extra $6,000 per year. Now, $14,000 is certainly a lot of money, but taking a trip to Barnes & Noble doesn't involve biology lectures or calculus tests. By the way, do you see what I mean about it being a chicken-or-egg situation now?
Normally I'd make some sort of sarcastic comment about how graduating from college and buying books leads to untold millions, but Poynter also notes that 42 percent of college graduates "never read another book" after finishing school. I find that almost impossible to believe, but I've probably done enough quibbling with data already today.
Among the countless other interesting book-related notes Poynter passes along is that 81 percent of people feel they "have a book inside them." As you might expect, I'm in that group (though not literally, because that'd be really uncomfortable). And yes, all of this is just an elaborate excuse for me to bring up the fact that The Hardball Times Baseball Annual 2007 is available for pre-order.
If your acting career isn't going well, going deep in the world's biggest poker tournament could get you back in the spotlight. Dozens of well-known actors, musicians, and athletes were among the 8,778 players in this year's ongoing Main Event. That poker has become mainstream enough for celebrities to actually use it to increase their exposure shows how much things have changed in just a few years.
With that said, without question the biggest change in the poker world is that people who look like this are now professional poker players and people who look like this are now cashing in $10,000 buy-in tournaments. Meanwhile, people who look like this are still dreaming about finding a backer to play next year. As usual, Tao of Poker has all your WSOP-related needs taken care of and then some.
I also enjoyed Brad Radke showing that one bad start against a good lineup wasn't the beginning of his demise. Even with a rough outing against the Tigers last weekend, Radke's eight innings of two-run ball against the Royals last night made him to 6-2 with a 3.35 ERA over his last 13 starts dating back to late June.
Here's a description of the show that playwright Jonathan Wemette passed along:
Set at an apartment in Minneapolis' Cremette Historic Lofts, unlikely roommates Paul and Ben realize the true power of classic baseball superstition when they discover that their clasped hands hold the fate of Johan Santana's success.For more information on Johan Santana's Perfect Game, including show times and how to purchase tickets, click here.
Thursday, August 03, 2006
Who Is ... Mike SmithWas it really only a week ago that the Twins were sweeping the White Sox, in Chicago, to pull within a half-game of the Wild Card lead?
Since then they've lost back-to-back series, and that's actually not even the bad news. Johan Santana hasn't looked like himself, Francisco Liriano and Brad Radke are trying to pitch through injuries, and Scott Baker and Boof Bonser have been sent back to Triple-A after giving up a combined 15 runs in 7.1 innings against the Rangers.
Similar to the outfield's dire situation when Jason Kubel's knees started acting up and Torii Hunter, Shannon Stewart, and Lew Ford each hit the disabled list within 48 hours last month, the starting rotation is in a sudden state of flux. With Baker and Bonser heading to Rochester, Mike Smith was brought up to be on call tonight if Radke can't go or Sunday if Liriano's forearm remains a problem.
If you've never heard of Smith, you're not alone. Drafted by the Blue Jays in the fifth round way back in 2000, Smith moved quickly through Toronto's minor-league system and made it to the big leagues in 2002. He struggled, going 0-3 with a 6.62 ERA in 35.1 innings, and then spent the next two seasons going 12-15 with a 5.13 ERA at Triple-A Syracuse.
Smith left the Toronto organization as a six-year minor-league free agent following the 2004 season, signing on with Philadelphia's Double-A team. He went 5-14 with a 4.48 ERA in 28 starts there and was also knocked around in one start at Triple-A. Let go by the Phillies during the offseason, Smith signed with the Twins to serve as run-of-the-mill Triple-A roster filler.
The Twins surely didn't expect much from Smith beyond eating innings at Rochester. At 28 years old, he came into this season with a 17-29 record and 4.91 ERA in 414.2 innings between Double-A and Triple-A over the past three years. However, Smith went 9-4 with a 3.52 ERA at Rochester and now he's back in the big leagues.
Unfortunately, a deeper look at Smith's Triple-A numbers reveals a pitcher getting by on smoke and mirrors:
G GS ERA IP SO BB HR OAVGSmith's ERA looks nice, but he managed only 6.8 strikeouts per nine innings while flashing mediocre control, served up 10 homers in 125.1 frames, and allowed opponents to hit .253 against him. When combined with his previous track record, those numbers suggest Smith will be overmatched against big-league hitters and might even struggle against the Royals.
The good news is that if Radke's shoulder doesn't get any worse and Liriano is able to avoid a trip to the disabled list, Smith will likely only be needed for at most two starts. He's essentially being used as a backup plan for the remainder of the week, which is interesting given that the Twins also have Matt Garza waiting in the wings at Triple-A.
Assuming the Twins don't expect Radke or Liriano to miss significant time, it's likely that Terry Ryan would rather use a minor-league veteran for a spot start or two. After all, when the Twins do call Garza up, they probably want it to be for good. It's also possible that Ryan doesn't believe Garza is quite ready for primetime, which is something he's indicated in various interviews over the past few days.
In either case, don't expect Smith to remain with the team for more than a week unless Liriano or Radke heads to the DL, in which case the Twins' playoff chances are pretty much toast anyway. In other words, while Mike Smith may be a great guy who persevered through several tough seasons to get another chance in the majors, the longer he's around the worse the Twins' chances become.
But hey, welcome to Minnesota (or at least Kansas City), Mike!
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
Open Chat: Day OffYesterday was not a good day.
The Twins got spanked by the Rangers, with Scott Baker turning in one last bad performance before being sent back down to Triple-A. Francisco Liriano came up with a sore forearm during a bullpen session and the team announced that he'll skip his scheduled start today. Joe Mauer guaranteed himself either a season-ending injury or an 0-for-50 slump by being on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
Plus, I somehow overlooked the fact that it was the four-year anniversary of this blog, which started on August 1, 2002.
In other words, I'm taking today off.
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
Twins 15, Rangers 2One day after scraping together a late-inning rally from little more than a bunch of choppers and the Tigers' mistakes, the Twins' lineup welcomed Torii Hunter back from the disabled list and exploded for 15 runs against the Rangers. Luis Castillo and Jason Tyner combined to go 0-for-8, but the other seven starters amazingly went 18-for-31 (.581) with 15 RBIs and 14 runs scored.
It was good to see the Twins tee off on a soft-tossing rookie, because over the past few years guys like John Rheinecker have given them trouble far too often. It was also good to see the hitters keep pouring it on after the Rangers brought in hard-throwing right-hander Joaquin Benoit and tack on a couple extra runs against left-hander Ron Mahay.
Lost in the avalanche of runs is that Carlos Silva turned in an outstanding performance against one of the league's top offenses:
IP H R ER BB SO HR PITSilva attacked hitters by pounding strikes early and often, struck out more than three batters for just the fourth time all season, and reversed his recent trend of morphing into a fly-ball pitcher. Fourteen of Silva's 21 outs came via either strikeout or ground out, and by the time Mark Teixeira took him deep for a solo homer in the seventh inning it was already 15-0.
Given the inconsistency from Scott Baker and Boof Bonser, and Terry Ryan's apparent reluctance to bring up Matt Garza from Triple-A, it's unclear if Silva was close to losing his spot in the rotation prior to last night. Whatever the case, he's no longer in any danger of a demotion, and Ryan's decision to trade Kyle Lohse yesterday while not picking up a veteran starter is looking pretty good.
Here are some other notes I typed up while watching the Twins' 61st win of the year ...
Lee is a fine (if overrated) hitter, but with Jason Kubel and Rondell White hobbled he'd have been forced into playing defense regularly on the Twins, which would be a disaster. Instead, the Twins stood pat and let Hunter returning from the DL be their addition at the trading deadline:
2004-2006 AVG OBP SLG AB/HRIn theory the Twins could have had both Hunter and Lee, but that scenario would have included either Lee's (and everyone else's) nightmare of him playing left field at the Metrodome or him starting over Kubel and White at designater hitter. All of which isn't to say that picking up Lee wouldn't have helped the offense, but rather that his impact specifically on the Twins down the stretch would have been somewhat limited.
Incidentally, Hunter went 3-for-5 with a homer, four RBIs, and three runs scored in his first game since July 15.
Lohse isn't as bad as he looked before being yanked from the starting rotation earlier this season and actually pitched fairly well out of the bullpen, but with Matt Guerrier coming back from the DL this week and the rest of the bullpen thriving, the need for an effective mop-up man was trumped by adding another intriguing young arm to the farm system.
The deal further cements my belief that Krivsky leaving his job as Ryan's right-hand man is one of the best things that could have happened to the Twins. In fact, given what we now know about Krivsky's preference for washed up veterans and lopsided trades, I'm starting to reconsider exactly how much blame Ryan deserves for some of the team's more questionable moves over the past few years.
Not only do I approve of Ryan resisting the temptation to overpay for a guy like Lee or Alfonso Soriano, I think he deserves a lot of credit for cashing Lohse in for as much as he ended up getting. Plus, during his in-game interview with television announcers Dick Bremer and Bert Blyleven last night, I found Ryan to be his usual honest, level-headed, and intelligent self.
Ryan expressed a clear and reasoned rationale for both wanting to acquire a bit bat and ultimately backing off from available deals to do so. During his half-inning in the booth, I found myself nodding in agreement with something Ryan said more times than I have while listening to Bremer and Blyleven all year.
G GS ERA IP SO BB HR OAVGThe good news is that those are outstanding numbers pretty much across the board, particularly the .188 opponent's batting average and two homers allowed in 114 innings. The bad news is that Ward is already 22 years old, which makes his dominating hitters at low Single-A significantly less impressive than it looks.
With that said, Ward was the Reds' third-round pick in last June's draft and Baseball America had the following to say about him earlier this season:
All season, the Gardner-Webb product has done a fantastic job of inducing ground balls, and that was the case yesterday as he struck out seven and walked one while recording 11 groundball outs to just three in the air. One the season, Ward has a 3.55 ground ball/fly ball ratio in 72 innings.I'm hopeful that the Twins will push Ward a little more aggressively through the system, because there's no need for him to waste any more time in the low minors. At the very least he appears to have a good chance of becoming a quality reliever down the road and there's certainly enough potential there for a lot more. Not that they needed it, but the Twins' pitching depth just got even deeper.
Joe Mauer went 2-for-5 to increase his MLB-leading average to .368, but at the rate Morneau is going he may not even be leading his own team by the end of the month. Morneau also ranks second in RBIs, fourth in total bases, seventh in homers and slugging percentage, and eighth in OPS. Oh, and he's also hitting .308 against southpaws and has a higher slugging percentage against them than against righties.
Monday, July 31, 2006
I remember when, I remember, I remember when I lost my mind
- Gnarls Barkley, "Crazy"After two depressing losses to begin the series Friday and Saturday, Johan Santana couldn't throw strikes yesterday afternoon and the Twins were six outs away from being swept by the Tigers for the third time this season. Detroit starter Jeremy Bonderman was cruising along, putting up the following Santana-esque pitching line through seven innings:
IP H R ER BB SO HR PITNot only was Bonderman completely overpowering the Twins' lineup, allowing one measly hit while racking up eight strikeouts, he needed just 86 pitches to record 21 outs. He was about as good as I've seen a pitcher look this season, both in terms of dominance and efficiency, and the hitters simply looked like they had no chance against him.
And then suddenly the wheels came flying off. It's easy to look at the boxscore and determine that Bonderman imploded in the eighth inning, but that's not really the case. It's true that he fell apart, but as odd as this sounds, he continued to pitch well and gave up six runs through almost no fault of his own. Seriously.
With the Twins trailing 3-0, Justin Morneau came to the plate leading off the eighth inning and hit a chopper back up the middle. Bonderman got his glove on it, deflecting it to the right side of second base. Shortstop Carlos Guillen ranged into shallow center field to scoop it up on the run, but made an errant throw to first base that bounced into the dugout and moved Morneau up to second base.
Jason Kubel came off the bench to pinch-hit for Josh Rabe, hacking at the first pitch he saw and hitting a high chopper to first base. Chris Shelton came lumbering in to scoop it up and tag first, but had what can only be described as a Bill Buckner moment as the ball skipped under his glove and rolled half way down the right-field line. Morneau scored from second base, making it 3-1.
Mike Redmond stepped to the plate and also swung at Bonderman's first offering, this time sending a chopper to the other side of the infield. Third baseman Brandon Inge watched helplessly as the ball landed directly on the chalk about a foot behind third base and then made its way into the left-field corner. Brent Clevlen had trouble fielding it cleanly off the wall, allowing Kubel to score all the way from first base despite running like he'd stepped on a nail rounding second.
With the lead cut to one run and Redmond on second base, the Tigers brought the infield in expecting Jason Tyner to bunt. Instead, Tyner fouled off the first pitch he saw and then hit another chopper on the second pitch. This one went over Shelton's outstretched glove and into right field, with Magglio Ordonez picking it up cleanly and firing a strike back into the infield to keep Redmond at third base.
With runners on the corners, Jason Bartlett came to the plate and hit yet another chopper down the third-base line. The ball may have gone foul before getting to the base, but Inge fielded it and tried to tag Redmond, who successfully dove back into third base after thinking briefly about heading home. With the ball called fair, Redmond safe, and Bartlett hustling on the play, Inge had no options left and the Twins had the bases loaded.
And that's when things really got interesting.
After getting ahead of Luis Castillo, Bonderman came set for his 1-2 pitch and took his hand out of his glove, signaling for catcher Vance Wilson to cycle back through the signs again. Bonderman had been doing that quite a bit throughout the game, but this time he forgot to take his foot off the pitching rubber and was called for the game-tying (and surprisingly obvious) balk as the Metrodome exploded.
As Redmond trotted home from third base with Tyner and Bartlett each moving up a base, Bonderman understandably lost it briefly, gesturing wildly and yelling at multiple umpires while his eyes appeared ready to pop out of his head. Two pitches later, after resuming the Castillo at-bat, he exaggeratedly stepped off the mound before making the same hand motion to Wilson.
One pitch after that, with the infield drawn in, Castillo slapped a grounder up the middle that Guillen made a diving stop on before throwing to first base for the first out of the inning. Tyner scored from third on the play, giving the Twins their first lead of the game at 4-3. Nick Punto briefly ended the excitement with a harmless fly out to left field, but things quickly picked up steam again.
With first base open and two outs, the Tigers did like so many teams have done over the past month and intentionally walked Joe Mauer to face Michael Cuddyer. The ninth batter of the inning, Cuddyer poked Bonderman's 1-2 pitch--his 116th of the game and 30th of the inning--into the right-center field gap, slicing through Curtis Granderson and Ordonez and skipping all the way to the wall.
Bartlett scored from second, Mauer scored from first, and Cuddyer ended up on third with a two-run triple that pushed the score to 6-3. With six runs already on the board and Morneau stepping to the plate for the second time in the inning, manager Jim Leyland mercifully lifted Bonderman in favor of left-hander Jamie Walker, who struck Morneau out to end what was without question the strangest, craziest, most bizarre half-inning I've ever seen.
- Infield Single
- Infield Single
- Ground Out
- Fly Out
- Intentional Walk
It's impossible to understand how truly ridiculous nearly each thing that took place during the inning was without having seen it first hand, but the fact that the Twins scored six runs while hitting exactly one ball legitimately well is a pretty good indication of Bonderman's misery. They essentially put together a six-run rally on five choppers, a ground ball, an intentional walk, and a two-out triple.
It was only one win and the Twins still lost a series at home, but scraping together an inexplicable come-from-behind victory after seemingly having the game lost is somehow infinitely better than being spanked yet again by the Tigers. Plus, with Chicago coughing up a late-inning lead of their own while losing to Baltimore yesterday, the Twins went from looking like they'd depressingly be three games behind the White Sox just days after sweeping them to being one game back.
Of course, the White Sox may not be the Twins' biggest problem any longer:
WILD CARD W L WIN% GBThat's right, the Twins are now chasing the Yankees for a playoff spot.
And I hope that you are having the time of your life
- Gnarls Barkley, "Crazy"TRADE DEADLINE UPDATE: The Twins have traded Kyle Lohse to the Reds for Single-A pitching prospect Zach Ward. I'll have a lot more on this (and any other moves the Twins make) tomorrow, but my initial reaction is that Terry Ryan did very well here hooking up with former assistant Wayne Krivsky.
A third-round pick in 2005, Ward is 7-0 with a 2.29 ERA, 95-to-37 strikeout-to-walk ratio, and .188 opponent's batting average in 114 innings at low Single-A. The Twins don't exactly need more young pitching, but Ward is exactly the sort of low-minors prospect Ryan thrives on plucking from other organizations.