Archive for September, 2008

MLB Divisional Playoff Predictions

 | September 30, 2008 10:16 PM

With only two weeks left in the season I could still only get 5 out of 8 right in my predictions.  In fact my predictions at the All-Star break were better, I got 7 out of 8 right.

Anyway here are my predictions for the MLB Divisonal Playoffs.

Tampa Bay Rays over Chicago White Sox in 3 games (maybe 5)

The Rays had the better record in a much tougher division and have a strong home record.

Shields and Kazmir are much stronger than Vazquez and Buehrle.  I am assuming Garza goes in Game 3 which could be close against Floyd.  And Danks could beat the Rays number four pitcher.  But in Game 5, if it goes that far, I don’t see Vazquez beating Shields in Tampa Bay.

I am cheering for the Rays to win it all.

Philadelphia Phillies over Milwaukee Brewers in 4 games (or Brewers in 5)

If we assume CC Sabathia will win Game 2 and Hamels will win Games 1 and 4 against Gallardo and Bush then the pivotal game is Game 3, Suppan vs. Moyer.  Moyer has been the better pitcher this season so Phillies in 4.  Plus the Phillies have a better bullpen and a better lineup.  But if somehow the Brewers win one either Games 1, 3, or 4 then they will probably win Game 5 and take the series.

I will be rooting for the Brewers.  Philadelphia fans are mean, they don’t deserve a winner.  Well so are Boston fans but they’ve won a lot recently so I guess karma doesn’t count.

Los Angeles Dodgers over Chicago Cubs in 4 games

This is really a long shot but I think the Dodgers have a shot.

  1. Manny Ramirez is amazing.  He’s hitting almost .400 for the Dodgers.
  2. The rest of the Dodgers lineup is better than people expect.  I am a fan of Derek Loney and Matt Kemp.
  3. Derek Lowe has been the best pitcher in the NL in the second half and is a terrific postseason pitcher.
  4. The Cubs starters are not appearing that healthy.  Zambrano, except for his no hitter, has an over 9 ERA and Harden is throwing 85 MPH.  I also don’t believe that much in Dempster.
  5. I see this breakdown for the games.
    • Game 1 – Derek Lowe winning against Dempster in a close game.
    • Game 2 – Chad Billingsley beating an imploding Carlos Zambrano.
    • Game 3 – Kuroda possibly losing to Harden not because Harden pitches well but because the Cubs offense, best in the league, catches fire this game.
    • Game 4 – Derek Lowe, pitching on three days rest, beats Lilly in Game 4. Chicago Cubs fans cry again for the 100th straight year.

Of course if Zambrano and Harden are healthy then it’s no contest, Dodgers are dead.

I will be cheering for the Dodgers just to see more of Manny going crazy.  And isn’t Chan Ho Park on the Dodgers?

Los Angeles Angels over Boston Red Sox in 5 games

This was the toughest to predict.  Right now the Boston Red Sox look a little banged up and Beckett is not pitching until game 3 which means he only pitches once in this series.

On the other hand Lackey has not been pitching well lately and always seems to do poorly against the Red Sox.

However this is not your past Angels, this is the best Angels team I have ever seen.  And this is not your past Red Sox, this is not as formidable of a team.  The Angels beat the Red Sox eight out of nine times this season and they acquired Mark Teixeira while the Red Sox had to give up Manny.

It could really go either way.  I am going to say whoever wins Game 1 wins the series.

My fervent desire for the playoffs is “Anyone but the Red Sox.”

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Presidential Debate I

 | September 26, 2008 8:54 PM

Watching tonight’s debate I felt frustrated with how Senator Barack Obama performed.  I thought he was on the defensive and that surprised me considering that you would think McCain would be.  As George Will said, it’s incredible considering McCain is associated with “an unpopular president, an unpopular war, and a failing economy.”

First Senator McCain starts off by talking about earmarks, how they are $18 billion, that Senator Obama had requested $900 million in earmarks or something like that, etc.  Senator Obama tried to defend himself but I would have preferred hearing was something like what George Will said, “$18 billion is a rounding error in the budget.”  Senator Obama should have repeatedly pointed out that Senator McCain was the one who said the economy was sound and if his best solution for the economy is to stop earmarks, then that’s pretty pathetic.

Senator McCain then talked about taxes, how he’d lower them for businesses while Obama would raise them.  He talked as though it’s just nonsensical to not be doing it, as though Obama was a fool.  Obama just talked about cutting taxes for those making less than $250,000.  Why didn’t he point out that President Bill Clinton raised taxes, was criticized for it, and the country enjoyed the largest economic expansion in its history?  George Bush lowered taxes and now we’re in the worst economic mess ever.  Obviously a lot more to it than that but what I wanted to see was Obama criticizing Senator McCain’s lack of economic expertise and criticizing him for holding onto the failed idea of lowering taxes for the rich.

Senator McCain then hammered Senator Obama on not admitting the surge was a success and the right thing to do.  Senator McCain kept bringing up a list of foreign policy decisions that he was right about.  Why didn’t Senator Obama hammer him more on the fact he agreed to a war whose grounds for entering it were completely false?  Why not hammer him on the fact that there was no clear mission?  Was it to get Hussein?  If so why are we still there?  Was it to install a democratic government?  If so we’re not doing a good job.  This one is probably harder to do because Senator Obama probably doesn’t want to send a possibly unpatriotic message that we’re losing.

Finally it was interesting to see that Senator McCain chose not to look at Senator Obama.  I am not sure if this looked arrogant but I thought it worked well, made Senator Obama appear like he was trying to gain Senator McCain’s favor by looking at him and saying “You’re right.”  Apparently the McCain campaign picked up on this.

Overall I was disappointed that Senator Obama was so defensive.  All the pundits I heard thought Senator Obama did well or even won and the general public seems divided so in the end it may be inconsequential.

I think Senator Obama needs to keep hammering Senator McCain on his weakness on economic policy.  And I wish he’d become pro-life.

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Great Depression II

 | September 17, 2008 10:28 AM

I am old but not old enough to remember a financial period as bad as this one.  I do remember a time when interest rates were around 20% and both inflation and unemployment were high too.  But the news these days is so bad and reminding me of the Great Depression where for the first time we are losing faith in our financial institutions.

I have two places where I keep my money, Washington Mutual (WaMu) and GE Interest Plus.  Today’s news about WaMu is bleak.

The embattled thrift Washington Mutual say its health shouldn’t be judged by its stock price, and it isn’t going to go the way of Lehman Brothers…

Late Monday, the thrift clarified the reasoning behind a downgrade by ratings agency Standard & Poor’s, which cut WaMu’s credit rating to junk territory on Monday. The ratings service cited the thrift’s exposure to the mortgage securities market, downgrading it to BB-minus from BBB-minus. Yet, the ratings service did say the thrift has enough cash to get through 2010. The change in S&P’s ratings follows a similar downgrade by fellow ratings service Moody’s last week.

WaMu Defiant – Forbes.com

Today’s news about GE is pretty dismal also.

General Electric Co shares tumbled nearly 10 percent on Wednesday as investors became panicky about how its massive financial arm was faring in the wake of the troubles at top financial institutions…

GE’s 6 percent first-quarter profit drop, which stunned investors who had been looking for growth, came at another time of market turbulence following the near-collapse of Bear Stearns.

J.P. Morgan analyst Stephen Tusa in a note to clients said he now expects the conglomerate’s financial arm, which accounts for about half its profit, to see profits fall 5 to 10 percent in 2009.

GE shares tumble amid financial worries | Reuters

The news does not stop there.  Morgan Stanley, Goldman plummet as crisis mounts.

I am now faced with a big decision, do I move my money out of GE Interest Plus which is not FDIC insured?  Do I move my money out of WAMU which is FDIC insured but what does FDIC insured really mean?  If WAMU suddenly closes it doors how long will take to get my money?  What bank is “safe” during this financial crisis?

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The Okay Samaritan

 | September 16, 2008 3:43 PM

Almost everyone knows the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37).  Our church, GrX, is currently doing a sermon series called Transformission and the whole series will be about this parable.

In the first sermon, The Call of Mercy, Pastor David Chae said he thought of having someone lie outside on the way to church just to see how many people would stop to help.  I told Ji Seon I don’t know if I would have stopped and Ji Seon said she thought I would.  I do think of the Good Samaritan though, specificially the priest and the Levite, when I drive by people stopped on the freeway.

After service I asked one of my friends if he would have stopped and he said “Yeah, I would have stopped.  I stop for people all the time.”  When I asked him a little more about it he said he doesn’t stop for people that will probably be helped soon, like people on the freeway, but he stops for people stuck in more deserted areas, like in the mountains on the way to Tahoe.

This past Saturday, September 16 we were late for lunch at the Fung’s place.  As we drove up the exit ramp from 101 to Montague Highway.  I saw a car with two women sitting on it.  As I passed by I read the sign which said “Need a push.”  I thought of the sermon, stopped the minivan and walked over to the two women to see what happened.

It turns out they had run out of gas and wanted a push up to the top of the bridge.  From there they planned to coast down to the gas station at the bottom of the bridge.  I thought to myself “There is no way I and one woman will be able to push this car while the other one steers.” but I didn’t say anything.  We started pushing the car and we made a little bit of progress.  But then the car would start rolling back, I think because the other woman I think was losing strength.

During this whole time I was thinking “That Dave Chae, why’d he have to preach about helping our neighbors.” and “God, you’d better be happy with me.”  And when the car was rolling back I thought “Wouldn’t that suck, being running over, having my legs crushed, because I stopped to help someone.”

Finally I said to the woman that we are not going to be able to push this car to the top of the bridge.  She then suggested I move my minivan behind her car and push it that way.  At this point I started thinking “Boy, you’d ask for anything.”  I then suggested “Why don’t I drive you to the gas station and you get some gas and bring it back.”  She then replied “I don’t want to buy a gas can.”  Getting a little more annoyed I said “Well, the gas can is only going to cost like $5.”

At this point I was getting the sense of the relationship of the two women.  The one pushing was the mother and the one steering was the daughter.  They were black and the mother was really annoyed at the daughter, swearing at her and saying she wanted to kill her.

I finally convinced the mother to go with me to the gas station and she was about to get into our minivan when two other guys walked up.  She asked them for help and together we all managed to push the car up the bridge.

Once the car started coasting down the hill I turned it around and ran back to the minivan (I figured it’s not safe leaving a minivan parked on an exit ramp) and then we drove off.

I thought of how a Good Samaritan would not have been annoyed with the people he was helping, how he would have made sure they got to the gas station okay, that he would have offered them money for the gas.  But in the end I’m not a Good Samaritan, I’m at best the Okay Samaritan.

The next day after my Okay Samaritan incident Pastor David Chae made an interesting point in his sermon, The Necessity of Mercy.  He said that we help people with felt needs, not people who are needy.  I would classify the people I helped that day as needy.  They could have easily walked to the gas station but instead they preferred sitting on their car waiting thirty minutes for someone to push them so they didn’t have to buy a gas can.  They wanted to be helped instead of helping themselves.

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I came up with these predictions after the All-Star break but I did not write them down until now.

AL East – Tampa Bay Rays
AL Central – Chicago White Sox
AL West – LA Angels
AL Wild Card – Boston Red Sox

NL East – Philadelphia Phillies
NL Central – Chicago Cubs
NL West – Arizona Diamondbacks
NL Wild Card – Milwaukee Brewers

Compared to my previous predictions, they have not changed too much.  The AL Central is the one I really got wrong and I was wrong about the Rockies.  I am kind of proud how I predicted the Rays could win the wild card.

With less than two weeks left in the season it looks like this will be the final outcome.  ESPN’s Hunt for October seems to agree with this prediction.

AL East – Boston Red Sox
AL Central – Chicago White Sox
AL West – LA Angels
AL Wild Card – Tampa Bay Rays

NL East – Philadelphia Phillies
NL Central – Chicago Cubs
NL West – Los Angeles Dodger
NL Wild Card – New York Mets

The only question is who will win the NL East and who will win the wild card.  It is sad that the Milwaukee Brewers won’t make it, especially since they will lose their two best pitchers in the offseason, Sabathia and Sheets.  But in the end, it’s just hard for small market teams to compete.

AL division playoffs:

Anaheim beats Tampa Bay
Boston beats Chicago

ALCS:

Boston beats Anaheim (could go the other way, depends on Boston’s health)

NL division playoffs:

LA beats Philadelphia (not sure about this)
Chicago beats New York

NLCS:

Chicago beats LA

World Series:

Boston beats Chicago

Please, anyone but Boston!  I don’t want Chicago to win either.  Go Tampa Bay!

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Well, the season is over for my Toronto Blue Jays.  I was hoping they could win at least three out of four against the Red Sox but instead they lost three out of four.  It does not surprise me though, the Red Sox are better in every category than the Blue Jays.

Here is a strange photo from the Red Sox victory.  First it looks like Dustin Pedroia has been photoshopped over Lyle Overbay.  Second it is amusing that Dustin Pedroia is laughing at Lyle Overbay but not surprising considering what I read in this ESPN the Magazine article, 170 Pounds of Mouth.  Dustin is probably laughing because he knows that Lyle Overbay is safe as replays showed.

Boston Red Soxs Dustin Pedroia, left, smiles as Toronto Blue Jays Lyle Overbay protests being called out at second base in the ninth inning of a baseball game, Sunday, Sept. 14, 2008, in Boston. The Red Sox won 4-3. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

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Rove says McCain is Lying

 | September 15, 2008 2:40 PM

Rove McCain

All over the internet everyone is talking about Karl Rove, in a Fox News interview, saying that McCain has gone too far in his attack ads.

McCain has gone in some of his ads — similarly gone one step too far and sort of attributing to Obama things that are, you know, beyond the 100-percent-truth test.
Karl Rove says McCain, Obama have gone too far

Some of my Republican friends might point out that much of the press is highlighting Rove’s comments about McCain and are not pointing out that he made similar comments about Obama.  But considering the source of the comment, Karl Rove, the Republican pioneer of the perfect sleaze campaign, and that the interview was on Fox News, it’s amazing that this was even aired.

From my view point I think the criticisms leveled at McCain are fair.  First, McCain has in the past always tried to portray himself as the honorable one who would never do negative campaigning.  But his current campaign is incredibly negative which sends the message that McCain will do and say whatever is necessary to win.  Recently I saw an ad here in California that made all sorts of statements about Obama including the bald faced lie that Obama would raise taxes on the middle class.  This is not true, Obama is actually going to lower them while McCain has no tax plan except to keep  tax cuts for the wealthy.  McCain’s campaign is not positive, it is not about building, it is about fear.

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AAA Limit

 | September 11, 2008 3:56 PM

AAA StopI have been a AAA member for awhile. Previously I joined because I got a discount on my car insurance when I joined AAA so the membership ended up being free. I am not sure why but I decided to keep it this year, partially because it seems at least a few times a year I drain a battery and need to call AAA for a boost.

The other day I got a letter from AAA saying they only do four services a year for free and that I have done already three (all boosts).  I am not sure when they started instituting this limit but it makes my AAA membership seem just a little less valuable.  I might actually have to learn how to do a boost myself!

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Victoria’s Third Word

 | September 7, 2008 2:45 PM

This seems like kind of an anti-climactic post, the third word Victoria ever spoke.  The first word was of course 엄마, mommy in Korean and pronounced “umma”.  The second word was “uh-oh” taught to her by Isaac and courtesy of the Teletubbies.  And the third word was 아빠, daddy in Korean and pronounced “appa”.  She said this a few days ago, I think on Thursday, September 4.  Third place, I’ll take it. 🙂

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