To Fuss is Human, To Rant, Divine!!

Location: Vienna, Virginia, United States

A graduate of Dartmouth College (2005) and Washington and Lee University School of Law (2010). These are my personal blogs, and the musings expressed on them do not reflect the positions of my employer. They do reflect my readings, thoughts, and aspirations, which I figure is good enough.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Why the FSM is nothing new, but is thoroughly necessary

For those unfamiliar with Pastafarianism, the FSM (Flying Spaghetti Monster) is a deity whose noodly appendages skew scientific experiments, and whose wrath has been felt as global warming (and other natural disasters) as the number of pirates (his chosen) in the world have decreased.

Sent to the Kansas Board of Education after they decided to teach "theory" of intelligent design in the science classroom, the FSM has gathered quite the following with his noodly appendages. Of course, the natural reaction from individuals who support intelligent design has been less than favorable. The hate mail which has been posted onto's page is pretty virulent, albeit ridiculous in many cases, but obviously this hits a nerve with some people.

Why has it hit a nerve though? Obviously satire and religion has never been received very well, but the FSM shouldn't receive any more hate than any other satire. Not when other people have done it, and in much more popular mediums.

Consider Charles Schultz. A lot of people think that Schultz stuck to "safe" topic, but then again, a lot of people haven't seen the strip where Snoopy accidentally gets a driver's license instead of a dog license, and then accidentally a fishing license, and just when everything is about to be set right again, Snoopy is told that he doesn't need a license to own something else. The last panel shows Snoopy walking away with an assault rifle.

A lot of people haven't considered that the Great Pumpkin, and Linus' obsession with the Great Pumpkin, isn't so much a condemnation of Linus as it is a send-up of Santa Claus, the materialism of Christmas, and the thoroughly silly nature of the entire Christmas holiday.

Much like the FSM brings ridicule to the theory that scientific evidence can be found that a higher deity created and molded life on Earth, the Great Pumpkin does the same for Santa Claus and our celebration of Christmas. The fact that the Great Pumpkin isn't mocking religion so much as our concept of Christmas doesn't hide the fact that it's still parody, and scathing parody at that. It saddens me that we still watch "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" and "A Charlie Brown Christmas," and we go about our materialistic holiday motions as if we had forgotten everything we just watched.

If we can take anything from the Great Pumpkin storyline, besides the anti-materialism part, it is that Linus' beliefs are just as valid as those of the children who go trick or treating, if not more so because the other children are just following some tradition that has been thrown upon them. And that faith, real faith, is much more than the condemnation of those who don't believe as you do.

Faith is not what the other children are following when they ridicule Linus. Faith is what Linus has when he sits in the pumpkin patch, waiting for the FSM, I mean, the Great Pumpkin, and does it year after year despite the fact that he has never seen tangible evidence of the Great Pumpkin. Those who would censor the FSM and foist the "theory" of intelligent design upon science classrooms would do well to read some of those old Peanuts strips, I think.

Yet, because Schultz is such an accepted institution (although he got plenty of hate mail too), and obviously the FSM isn't, people try to get pictures of the FSM removed from classrooms, more because the FSM is an affront to their misguided beliefs than due to any concern about free speech and good fun. Indeed, the willingness to resort to law in this case tells me that those individuals on the Kansas School Board are not ready to have a scientific discussion, and are merely going through the motions they believe are necessitated by their "faith." Good Christians my ass.

Raaaamen, my friends. Ramen.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

What I think about the Yankees

The thing about the Yankees is that you can't ignore them forever, as I was astutely informed this morning.

So this is what I really think about the Yankees.

Just 8 games into the season, we can tell a lot about their offense. It's starting to hit its stride, as the only player who is performing way over expectations is Jorge Posada. Matsui and Jeter have both started the season with good showings, but then again, good performance is expected of them.

I don't know anyone who expects Jorge Posada to hit more than .270 with over an .800 OPS this season. A lot of people would call that a generous estimate. I think he'll cool off eventually and return to his GIDP ways (although he only ground into 8 double plays last year), but if you're a Yankees fan, a good start from Jorge is icing on the cake. The thought of Jorge Posada as icing on a cake is disgusting and vile, so I'm going to change the subject now.

So the offense is the offense. And so far, the pitching has been actually a little better than advertised. Although not by much. Randy Johnson and Mike Mussina have both started well, and considering the fears about the old fogies on the staff stumbling out of the gates, this has to be a good sign as well.

Unfortunately it's the "kids" on the staff who have stuggled - both Chacon and Wang had atrocious starts. The Kansas City Royals managed to put up 10 runs on the two of them in consective days earlier this week. Of course, the Yankees did manage to win both those games, so this might be what we should expect of the team for the entire season.

The one good thing to take away from the Royals series, however, is the bullpen. Aside from two earned runs allowed by son of Worcester Mass, Tanyon Sturtze, the bullpen was excellent those two games, going 5 2/3 scoreless innings, allowing only one hit.

Joe Torre has spread out the work so far, and I think he that aside from Jaret Wright, he actually trusts his bullpen this year. This is integral, since last year, Torre rode Sturtze and Gordon heavily, the two of them nearly logging 80 innings each, with no other reliever (besides Rivera of course) breaking 45 innings.

If I can say one thing about Sturtze however, it is that he can be a very good reliever, as long as Torre doesn't use him against Baltimore - in 11 and 1/3 innings against Baltimore last year, Sturtze allowed 20 hits, 17 earned runs, 3 long balls, and only struck out 6. His ERA against Baltimore was 13.50 and Baltimore hitters hit .370 off him. If you take those 11 innings out of his record, his ERA drops from 4.73 to 3.22.

Small sample size issues must be taken into account, but when a reliever gets lit up this much against one team, it's probably safe to say that they had his number last year. Even more surprising is that Sturtze only lost 1 game against Baltimore, and did record 2 wins (both with scoreless, 1 inning outings).

But if Torre can indeed avoid overusing a couple of relievers, and it appears that he may be trying, the Yankees bullpen might be solid this year. And a solid Yankees bullpen will go a long way to offset a bad starter or three (if Pavano ever comes back).

And in doing the research for this, I just realized how much Baltimore handed the Yankees the AL East crown last year - in an 8 game stretch from September 19 to Septebmer 29, the Yankees went 7-1 against the Orioles.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Something I haven't done in a while

I'm going to write about a topic on which I've been silent for a long time. Aside from mocking Jeff Passan's overly dramatic articles on, which I admit is as easy as beating a dead horse if you spot me the dead horse and hand me a stick, I haven't written a lot about baseball lately.

So just to get back into it, I'm going to make some predictions and offer some insights, which may not be very insightful at all. I'll write one thought for a player (or three) at each position.


Kenji Johjima is looking to surpass everyone's expectations this year. The man they call JoeMama hit home runs in his first two games, and has looked decent at the plate since. He hasn't walked or struck out excessively, but he's come up with timely hits, and the Mariners seem to like how he calls the game.

First Base

I think Justin Morneau can contend for the AL home run title. I know Papi, Manny, Mark Texeira and A Rod are formidable competition, but when Morneau hits, he hits very very hard. Another homer tonight gives him four on the year, and it still looks like he's in Spring Training mode to me. At least that's what the 8 K's and 0 BB's tells me (as I write this, he finally draws a walk). Morneau will K 100 to 120 times a season, but I do expect him to walk more. Once his contact rates increase, I expect the balls to really start flying out of the park.

Second Base

Marcus Giles is really taking to leading off. His average has dropped in the last couple of games due to a quad injury, but Giles has walked 11 times already. It took him until May 9th last year to draw as many walks. He did great in Spring Training, walking in something like 7 straight plate appearances, and he's apparently brought the same mindset into the regular season.


It looks like Edgar Renteria really needed to get back to the NL. He has hit in all of Atlanta's games, with more walks (3) than strikeouts (1). It is a small sample, but Renteria didn't draw a walk until the 11th game last season. I still don't really like how he looks in the field, but I am convinced that he was overwhelmed by Boston and the AL.

Third Base

Mike Lowell has hit a few wallballs already, and the Red Sox are just playing their second home game tonight. My only prediction for Lowell is that he's going to have an extreme home/road split this year. I don't know if his average will stay up, but I think he'll play much better at home than on the road this year. I can't say I'm positive, but it's a hunch.


Oh, Jeff Francoeur. Pitchers have just been abusing him this year. He's striking out once a game, making poor contact, and has in general just been frustrated by his pitch selection. I think he'll come around, but at this point, it might be worth sitting him for two or three days, letting him see some pitches in batting practice, and then letting him get a fresh start. Right now he looks tired and angry, and that's not a very good mindset to take to the plate. Someone made the preseason prediction that Langerhans and Kelly Johnson would have higher batting averages this year than Francoeur, and it's looking like a very prescient statement at this point.

I don't really care that Nomar is hurt. I like Olmaedo Saenz anyway. But if JD Drew stays healthy, I can see the Dodgers winning the NL East. Their offense has been clicking, and I think the pitching will come around. Derek Lowe and Jae Seo won't be dismal the entire year.

The Red Sox could potentially start the worst fielding outfield in the history of baseball. They could theoretically start Manny, Wily Mo, and Trot Nixon all at the same time. I know Mohr will play center, and Wily Mo and Trot should be platooning, but it could happen.

Starting Pitching

It frightens me a little that we haven't heard any more about Zack Greinke. Either the Royals are just done with him, or he has seriously psychological issues. I suppose both could be true.

Greg Maddux will win more than 15 games this year.

Relief Pitching

Matt Wise will be the best middle relief pitcher in the AL this year. He made hitters look idiotic last year, and it looks like the trend won't stop anytime soon.

That's all I got for now.

Oh, and how has Adrian Beltre stolen 3 bases this season? He stole 3 all of last year and 7 the year before. Is no one watching him, or are the opposing catchers just that horrible?