Friday, March 25, 2011

CBS: Toronto Blue Jays Projected Line-up and Pitching Rotation - 2011

There's no content like other people's content.

Let's see how right they are/n't.

1. Rajai Davis CF
2. Yunel Eescobar SS
3. Jose Bautista 3B
4. Adam Lind 1B
5. Aaron Hill 2B
6. Edwin Encarnacion DH
7. Travis Snider LF
8. Juan Rivera RF
9. J.P. Arencibia C

1. Ricky Romero  LH
2. Brandon Morrow (To open on DL) RH
3. Kyle Drabek  RH
4. Brett Cecil  LH
5. Jo-Jo Reyes  LH
Closer Frank Francisco  RH



Tuesday, March 8, 2011

History of Graphic Design through Scorecards of the Chicago Cubs

Update: 03/08/2011 - 3:19 PM   With some direction from commenter, "norman" I have gotten a little further in my research on Otis Shepard. When Shepard came to Wrigley in 1933 he was already a big time advertising Art Director, he had been designing advertising with "Foster & Kleiser Outdoor Advertising" for years. Foster & Kleiser were one of the big rising names in advertising at the time, their innovations in outdoor advertising (read: highway billboards,) and the increasing popularity of the car turned them into a national firm working with companies like Pontiac, branding Hollywood movie stars for Paramount Pictures and many other national brands by 1930. These were the Ad Men, the masters of think on the leading edge of an understanding of the psychology of a Nation, the beginning of Madison Avenue.

By the time Otis Shepard moved on to the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company as Art Director in 1933 he was creating "design concepts" with-in "branding strategies" - not pieces of art. So... enjoy the concepts below, very few of which were likely drawn by the man himself, but all of which were undoubtedly approved by him.

Clear Channel-Outdoor History.
Clear Channel-Outdoor History - 1926 to 1950
Cathy Wade Shepard's comment at Heckadude + Design.

Chicago Cubs Scorecard - 1952
A week ago Allan Wood at Joy of Sox ran a nice piece on the art of Otis Shepard (1894-1969), who worked 30 years for Wrigley's Gum as artist and then Art Director between 1932-1963.

By some accounts Shepard worked for Wrigley's from 1914 and by others didn't start at Wrigley until 1932. Some have him born in 1893 others in 1894. Details are sketchy, and often when I found out something new about him, the blogs in question didn't reference their sources.

The Wrigley site doesn't talk about people except the great man himself; all else is branding and numbers. Soul-less corporations, full of poor faceless souls. Wrigley is now a subsidiary of Mars Incorporated, so perhaps the history of the company didn't make the leap to digital; or perhaps the divide to new ownership.
(ed 03/08/2011 - 3:19PM)
The Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company site has this to say about Shepard:
"The distinctive billboard campaigns created in the late 1930s by Wrigley art director Otis Shepard fixed the Doublemint twin concept in the American imagination. Shepard's distinctive airbrush techniques and simple, clear designs were well suited for outdoor advertisements and have been widely recognized in the commercial art field.

The only thing new I could dig up on Shepard was a short reference to him in a piece at Today's Inspiration, "Fred Ludekens, Close-up". Apparently he taught at the  University of California Extension School in the 1920's or early 1930's where he taught, Fred Ludekens (1900-1982). Fred Ludekens so the story and the school tells me, was a member of the Famous Artists School's founding faculty. The Famous Artists School's history section says, it was "founded by the giants in their field, nationally known and recognized [...] in the “golden age” of American illustration".

Shepard hasn't left much of a trail for us curators of the internet to follow, but it seems like more and more people are wakening to this fellows talent. My research today reminds me of the later years of the resurgence of the minor leagues, in the early 1990's - I caught the tail end of the cult before it exploded and died - about the time the movie Bull Durham came out... Feels like that now, like Otis Shepard's work is on the verge of a renaissance - and perhaps all of those extraordinarily talented graphic designers from the 1950's and 1960's. In 2003 "Antiques and the Arts Online" reported that a poster by Otis Shepard, "Rails to Sales / Subway Posters" (1947) sold for $5,060.00.

Below are some examples of Shepard's work, and perhaps some that may only be influenced by him - drawn by artists that he taught the ropes, at Wrigley's as head of the Art Department. The following were covers of Chicago Cubs Scorecards between 1950 - 1968.






See Allan Wood's piece at Joy of Sox, "Otis Shepard - Cubs Scorecard Art".

See Chicago Cubs scorecards from 1898 - 2010 - at "Cubs By The Numbers" blog.

Reference sources:

Heckadude + Design - "Otis Shepard & the Chicago Cubs":

Famous Artists School:

Cubs By The Numbers - "Cubs Scorecards Thru The Years":

Today's Inspiration - "Fred Ludekens, Close-up":

2Blowhards - "Otis Shepard, Who Didn't Gum Things Up":


How to score games with the new "2011 Blogger Baseball Scorecard"

(This piece was simultaneously published at "Michael Holloway's FilterBlogs".)

Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser won't show certain properties of border tags which make up the diamond shape of the 'At Bat' boxes that are at the centre of the new 2011 Blogger Baseball Scorecard's design.

The two images below (side by side) show Microsoft's Internet Explorer's rendering of my code:

Internet Explorer Rendering

Below are images as above, from the same web page, this one rendered by Firefox 3.6.15 browser:

Firefox Browser Rendering
Valid HTML 4.01 TransitionalThe code has been validated at W3C as HTML 4.01 Transitional - Passed. I'm working on finding out why Internet Explorer won't render the border tags properly, and fixing it. In the meantime if you want to read this years scorecards, you'll have to do it with a different browser.

Firefox browser is available here. I have found that I can have more than one browser on my Windows XP Operating System. In my experience even running both at the same time doesn't compromise performance on my machine.

On Sunday March 6th, I used the new scorecard to score-keep the Toronto Blue Jays at Pittsburgh Pirates spring training game in Bradenton Florida, which was on Rogers SNET-1 in this market. You can see it here - if you must, it's an awful mess of scoring. As I say at the Internet Baseball Scorecard Blog, "This is the new, never before used in-game, 2011 Internet Baseball Scorecard - bear with me." I scored all the runs, but missed a lot of outs, and substitutions and even the staring line-ups were incomplete - etc., etc., etc.. But you can see that it functions as it's supposed to. So far, I'm really happy with it.

How it Works

Above is an example of a border tag used to make a simple two tone border - note the angles at the corners. In the scorecard, each quadrant of the diamond is actually the corner of a border (see Figure 1.) - it's the only way to make an angle with HTML!

At the top of this post - in the Firefox Browser Rendering, 2 image set - the left image has all four of the vertical border lines set to "solid black" - and the horizontal border lines set to match the background colour, thus they are invisible. In the image right next to that, the four horizontal border colours are set to a slightly darker colour than the background - so the appearance is of a frame around a diamond.

A scorekeeper can change the horizontal border's colour attributes on the fly, using the Blogger Compose mode "Text background color" widget. By selecting one of the four horizontal borders in each AB box, and changing it's colour with the "Text background color" button, one can indicate the progress of a runner around the bases:

The first box on the left, is how all the boxes in the entire scorecard appear before the game starts. The next box shows a runner on First Base, next one on Second Base, and so on. A solitary black diamond indicates a Run Scored - just like in pencil and paper scoring! :)

How to score with it

To change the attributes of the borders that make up the black diamond while scoring a baseball game is easy. Below I've taken a screen shot of me about to change the colour of the south-east quadrant - in order to indicate a runner is on First Base The colour indicated in the palette is the slightly darker peach. I'm about to change the colour of the horizontal border to the colour right above the one indicated - to the same colour as the background of the quadrant box:

First you highlight the border attribute by left clicking beside the diamond in the quadrant you wish to change. Next, left click on the "Text background color" button and choose the colour you want.

And Viola, a runner is on First Base:


I think there's more than enough space in the 2011 Blogger Baseball Scorecard to score the game with any iconography you wish to invent.

Below (or above) each angle of the diamond there are four lines for text, room for 10 uppercase letters or 12 lower case letters on each line.

In the Pitches column there is again, more than enough room for the number of pitches in the best plate appearance (a great plate appearance is around 12 pitches).

Modern Project Scoresheet defensive notations and ball trajectory notations can be noted in the Pitches column as well.

Also note that if you have to, you can keep on writing outside of any of the boxes - the letters render where you put them - by hitting return you can create a block of script that extends into the next inning's AB box (which usually remains empty - unless the team bats around).

In a few days I will finish the new 2011 Blogger Baseball Scorecard.  It still needs Per-Inning totals boxes; Pitchers Totals boxes and a Per-Inning Box Score table for across the top. When all that is done I will post the code for the 2011 Blogger Baseball Scorecard to a Google Document and you can run it in a special extra-wide Blogger blog.

The Extra-wide Blogger code is available below:

Blogger Code to make your Blog Wider

To read an overview of how to install this code into a Blogger Blog go to, "2011 Scorecard: Bigger! Better!"

(Note the "2011 Scorecard Bigger! Better!" is an article about a simpler version I used in the 2010 MLB Postseason - it doesn't have the diamond feature - but the width of the blog you'll need for this, new version is the same.)


Thursday, March 3, 2011

New York Mets do well by Crooked Bernie Madoff - now plead poverty in MLB bailout

I love economics as much as I love baseball - when the two intersect, it's heaven.

I'm in Heaven!

Last Friday, The New York Times broke a story about how Major League Baseball had to loan the New York Mets 25 Million last fall because the Mets' were on the verge of insolvency.

Immediately the headline had me thinking, 'Is this 'Great Recession' turning into 'Great Depression II' already?!

Mets CEO Fred Wilpon(R), President Saul Katz
It turns out it's not that the Mets' ticket prices are too high - but rather the Mets' owner, Saul Katz  and CEO Fred Wilpon were somehow involved with Bernard L. Madoff’s Ponzi scheme - that, when the markets crashed in 2008 it was reveiledthat he had stolen over $100 billion (!) dollars from his clients. The Mets' owner and CEO are being sued because apparently, they did well by Madoff - and didn't ask why.  

(Who did?)

The Mets owners are named in a Billion dollar suit, part of trustee Irving H. Picard's 100 billion dollars in filings surrounding Madoff’s Ponzi scheme.

From NYT - Feb 25 2011 - "Baseball Gave $25 Million Lifeline to Mets":


The trustee for victims of Mr. Madoff’s fraud has accused Mr. Wilpon and Mr. Katz of having turned a blind eye to warnings about the suspect nature of his multibillion-dollar investment operation while using the profits they reaped from their investments with him to enrich themselves and fuel their business empire. The trustee, Irving H. Picard, is seeking roughly $1 billion from the team’s owners and their various business partners.


So I was close, the Great Depression II isn't here yet - just more fallout from the financial meltdown that will eventually cause it (if we continue down this austerity/union busting path).

But somehow all this just doesn't add up. If Katz made a killing off Madoff, then why is he broke? Lawyers don't cost a Billion dollars to defend against a Billion dollar lawsuit.

It's a private company, so of coarse all the chairs are being rearranged behind closed doors - for example the CEO Wilpon doesn't have any money - he there as a diversion - as is the franchise (we all know MLB franchises don't make money). That Madoff kept his Billionaire investors happy is no surprise - that is what well managed, well funded Ponzi schemes do - they hood-wink lowly $500,000 investors of their homes and savings - not corporations who have office towers full of lawyers at the ready - the corporate clients are window dressing - they cost money.

If you follow the logic of the above thought experiment,  the next idea in that trail is that Bud Selig and the Saul Katz are running a PR play that they hope will extracate them from this sordid mess. After all, the lawsuit against the Mets is nothing more than a PR move by trustee Picard, it's not likely to result in the Mets paying any money back - money the Mets received as part of a contract they signed with Madoff --- but it is bad for the Mets', and MLB's Public Image, and in the entertainment industry brand is VERY important.  So... a public relations gambit that makes it look like the Mets are poor and thus probably didn't benefit that much from Madoff's thievery - and therefore perhaps the Mets should be crossed off trustee Picard's $100 Billion list of lawsuits.

The timing is interesting too, the season is right around the corner - all the baseball writers are looking for story material before the season proper gets under way. As well, the optics look good for the Mets right now, some of the huge players in the scandal, Wall Street players, are presently suing Pichard because he wants to make public, documents he received from companies like, JP Morgan that show how much money went where. (Bloomberg - Mar 3, 2011: "JPMorgan, Banks Say Madoff Trustee Would Break Secrets Pact":

Ah, the webs we weave...

Reuters Picture, New York Mets CEO Fred Wilpon(R), President Saul Katz: (


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Baseball is like... the fight to save Unions in America

Baseball always makes for good metaphors, in my opinion it's a metaphor for everything - and that's the starting point of a baseball blog I discovered today.

The Nub's a bi-line sums it up with two quotes:
"If you don't think life imitates sports, you're not reading The Nub”
- Bill Moyers

"Politics and baseball. Interesting blog…called ‘The Nub’ on”
- Boston Globe
 A nice piece appeared on Monday in "The Nub", an essay by Dick Starkey on the place of unions in the 'bigger game' - in The State of the Union game.


Where A-Rod Fits in Resentment Against Team Labor


(Posted: Feb.28/Update 3/1)
by Dick Starkey

Alex Rodriguez, poster-boy for fan hostility to players’ salary levels and their union, was in the news over the weekend.The NYC media learned that A-Rod – he with a $275 million 10-year contract – pays virtually no real estate tax on his $6 million Manhattan penthouse. Rodriguez is benefiting from a city tax abatement program to encourage construction of affordable housing. Although the deal has nothing to do with A-Rod, the disclosure can’t help but add fuel to the national furor over the privileged position unions play in the American economic game.

Eight years ago, the players union blocked a trade that would have sent A-Rod from the Rangers to the Red Sox because he had agreed to a slightly downward adjustment in his salary. The move seemed overly protective and an outrageous example of overstepping to Red Sox fans, especially. It reminded many fans around the country why unions had earned their resentment. More than overstepping, corruption in the labor movement was rife, former rank-and-filers profiting illegally from the leadership roles to which they’d been elected. Then there were widespread pension-padding practices whereby members worked extra overtime hours their final years, the resulting elevated annual earnings the basis for their retirement pay. The perception of featherbedding was also widespread, the sense that union contracts require more members than necessary to do certain jobs. Seniority rules, protecting longtime employees at the expense of well-regarded new employees was – is – another problem. And in many parts of the country, unions were – are – known to engage in racism and nepotism, hiring preferences given to white relatives of longtime members.

All this contributed to Team Labor’s loss of fan as well as governmental support. At that stage of the game, some time after World War II, corporate franchises began playing hardball in an effort to drive the organized labor team from the field. How successful the corporate-and-media game has been can be gauged in this down economy by hearing even liberal commentators talk of labor’s need to agree to a trimming of their “generous” benefits. Those are the same benefits that were the norm when many of our parents and grandparents joined the work force. They were benefits, including job security, living wages, etc. that made possible stable home ownership, college educations and a post-war period of prosperity throughout the country.

The current contest of interests could serve to rally and renew labor’s clout in the American workplace or further accelerate its decline. Team Labor is certainly the underdog, but the final outcome is still unclear. What is clear, says Wash Post-man E.J. Dionne is the potent righty-hitting game plan:”Private-sector workers are taking it on the chin, and conservatives now see a chance to cripple organized labor altogether by killing off public-sector unions, the most vibrant part of the movement. The underlying argument is actually insidious: If workers in the private sector have it bad, shouldn’t workers in the public sector have it bad, too?”

One thing traditional labor contracts provided that the players union does not: job security. Ask respected veterans David Eckstein, Kevin Millwood, and Bengie Molina, to name an infielder, pitcher and catcher among the nearly 50 still-unsigned free agents, most of whom thought they had earned an mlb contract from someone to play another season.


Read the rest...

Many people are jealous and angry about the salaries the players make - the scale is so far out of whack to the average wage it's difficult to dismiss that part of the equation.

But I do: the salaries of the players are a function of the value of the franchises and the rarity of the player's athletic abilities, discovered in a free market. It is a meritocracy with-in a very profitable entertainment brand. If one can get past the adolescent envy that so much of popular media loves to harp on about, the lessons of the history of the players' union can help us to understand the benefits of unions in the economy over-all.

In fleshing out of certain points in Dick Starkey's essay I hope to further enlighten the over-all debate.

I'll just start at the top:

"Rodriguez is benefiting from a city tax abatement program to encourage construction of affordable housing. Although the deal has nothing to do with A-Rod, the disclosure can’t help but add fuel to the national furor over the privileged position unions play in the American economic game."

So instead of taxing the very rich to pay of low income housing in the same neighbourhood, the city makes an agreement with the developer that they won't pay, for example, real estate tax - as long as they agree to include some low income housing in the development.

And this is because of the "..privileged position unions play in the American economic game."?

Sounds more like the result of the power of multinational corporations, who have instituted a system all across the developed world where corporations pay little to no tax to the commons. Income tax is at the highest rates of all time, but tax shelters provide everyone with a way to pay almost no income tax - as long as they invest some portion of their income in the markets. Most tax revenues to government come from sales taxes now, so as the economy goes so goes government revenues. Corporations benefit by having to pay no tax and have colossal sums of our money to play with as their heart's desire.

The same is true here in the City of  Toronto, where it is causing an on-going revenue problem because, by Provincial law, the city has few taxing tools in it's drawer. It's all part of the New World Order, as Bush I put it - or more accurately policies developed by the G8 group of countries, defined by the political label neo-con, or neo-liberal - a set of policies defined by a belief in free market solution to all problems, and a deregulation of the economy - that have resulted in the power of democratic governments to be overwhelmed by the power of  groups of corporations.

As the economist John Kenneth Galbraith said, (paraphrasing) the hitherto compartmentalized institutions of the private economy and government have become as one.

From "A cloud over civilisation"
The Guardian, Thursday 15 July 2004

By JK Galbraith

In 2003, close to half the total US government discretionary expenditure was used for military purposes. A large part was for weapons procurement or development. Nuclear-powered submarines run to billions of dollars, individual planes to tens of millions each.

Such expenditure is not the result of detached analysis. From the relevant industrial firms come proposed designs for new weapons, and to them are awarded production and profit. In an impressive flow of influence and command, the weapons industry accords valued employment, management pay and profit in its political constituency, and indirectly it is a treasured source of political funds. The gratitude and the promise of political help go to Washington and to the defence budget. And to foreign policy or, as in Vietnam and Iraq, to war. That the private sector moves to a dominant public-sector role is apparent.

None will doubt that the modern corporation is a dominant force in the present-day economy. [...]"

For a more recent example look at the financial collapse of 2008. President Obama, after winning a landslide as part of a reaction to a colossal failure of the neo-con economic vision, put in place the same team to mange the recovery as those who's policies caused the collapse - Wall Street financial gurus - some of whom lead companies that were at the centre of the implosion!

I can't see for the life of me where "privileged" unions comes into any of this - except that they are the scape goats the corporate media has chosen to defect attention from their pay masters - and the next target of these corporate backed neo-con's ravenous greed.

Back to Dick Starkey's article - from the second paragraph:

"..the players union blocked a trade that would have sent A-Rod from the Rangers to the Red Sox because he had agreed to a slightly downward adjustment in his salary."

Blame this one on precedents created in court over 200 years of Contract Law disputes. The thing that holds the union house of cards up is the idea that the players at the top of the pay scale 'draw up' the salaries of those at the bottom - through the arbitration system (which is codified in federal law - Cornell University Law School:

If A-Rod takes a $30 million pay cut (as was the Red Sox offer) that effects the 3rd year guy in his first arbitration year. It is this 'drawing up' that keeps the union united; the star players in their 10th year don't need a union (even though it is the history of the union that has them now receiving their fair share of club revenues) - but guys just coming into the league would get next to nothing if it weren't for the union who negotiate base level salaries, and define the point at which players are eligible to go to salary arbitration.

In my opinion the MLB Players Union's continuing education of players about the history of the union and the game is essential to it's continued existence. As David Stern, Commissioner of the NBA showed, the state of the art in breaking a players union (see NBA, NHL, NFL) is to divide the super stars away from the union by offering them a 'special deal' during a protracted lock-out or strike - which leaves everyone else begging and breaks the union.


"..corruption in the labor movement was rife, former rank-and-filers profiting illegally from the leadership roles to which they’d been elected. Then there were widespread pension-padding practices whereby members worked extra overtime hours their final years, the resulting elevated annual earnings the basis for their retirement pay. The perception of featherbedding was also widespread, the sense that union contracts require more members than necessary to do certain jobs. Seniority rules, protecting longtime employees at the expense of well-regarded new employees was – is – another problem. And in many parts of the country, unions were – are – known to engage in racism and nepotism, hiring preferences given to white relatives of longtime members."

Unions aren't Mother Teresa, they're not the second coming, some political candidate or messiah who will make a perfect world - they are a sub-culture with-in the culture that birthed them - they are just like us. They are a mirror. As such they are also pretty democratic for the most part - with some glaring exceptions - like some locals and the central leadership of the Teamsters - like (to continue the metaphor above), like the Bush II Administration.