Crummy Little Podcast, Politics and Grassroots

Crummy Little Podcast Episode 6: Chris Younce

This week’s guest on the Crummy Little Podcast is Chris Younce, who knows both grassroots campaigns and baseball better than most.

Having spent much of 2012 making sure the insurgent Ron Paul was on Republican primary ballots nationwide, Chris shared his insight into how difficult it would be for someone to jump into the Democratic primary at this stage.

Give it a listen here or on iTunes.

Sports

Break up the Nats!

Joel Sherman, baseball columnist for Our Nation’s Newspaper of Record, chronicles the now-systematic underachievement the Washington Nationals have suffered over the past four years:

  • The 2012 Nats won 98 games, won their division, and seemed destined for a run of excellence despite losing a hard-fought first-round series to the St. Louis Cardinals.
  • In 2013, the record fell to 86-76, 10 games behind Atlanta for the division and four out of the second wild card spot.
  • The Nats were back on top of the division 2014, with 96 wins and a roster finally coming into its own – until their bats went cold in the first round of the playoffs and San Francisco beat them in four games.

It’s 2015, and the Nats are in second place again, seemingly stuck in neutral (and under .500) despite big years from Bryce Harper and Max Scherzer. Like a Member of Congress in a safe district, the Nats appear to excel in even-numbered years and coast in between. Sherman correctly warns that without a second-half surge, they are in danger of losing the division to an underwhelming Mets team and becoming the “best team that never was.”

The manager and general manager are on the hot seat, but the house cleaning may have to include players as well. The only thing worse than being a bad team is being a mediocre team – where the limited successes come just frequently enough to avoid the big shake-ups. If they are serious about winning a championship, it’s time for the Nationals to stop tweaking and start looking at turning over their roster.

Crummy Little Podcast, media

Crummy Little Podcast Episode 4: FUBU on a Klansman?

George Chidi, who is responsible for this hilarious video of a Klansman wearing FUBU sneakers, is this week’s guest on the Crummy Little Podcast.

George got some attention for that video, as you might expect, but what’s been missed was his coverage of the confederate flag rally from which that video came. He also spent a week covering a shady soccer stadium deal in DeKalb County, outside of Atlanta. It’s a long podcast, but it was a great conversation about news reporting, media, where it’s at and where it’s going. It probably could have been two shows, but I liked the flow of it.

This was an especially fun episode for me because George and I go back a ways. Long before I had a crummy little podcast, I had a crummy little radio show back at UMass on campus station WMUA. George was the news director at that station for a time, and even guest-hosted my show at least once (and did a better job than me, if I remember right). Needless to say, he’s done our alma mater proud since.

Politics and Grassroots

What’s at stake in the Planned Parenthood fight

There might be another video dropping any day now in the gruesome, disturbing series of Planned Parenthood exposés from the Center for Medical Progress. They videos have stoked and motivated pro-life activists to encourage further adoption of the culture of life – as they should have. As discussed in last week’s post on Communities Digital News, the short term goal of stripping Planned Parenthood of its federal funding – and its position of moral authority is a pretty important step.

Sports

Sometimes the best trade is one you don’t make (Or, how the Yankees won the trade deadline)

The Yankees aren’t getting a ton of criticism for sitting out last week’s MLB trade deadline, but it was surprising to see this “winners and losers” post on ESPN that listed them among the losers of the deadline.

Looking at their roster, the Yankees actually did the right thing.

New York needed (and still need) starting pitching. Toronto needed pitching, and they got David Price. Kansas City needed pitching, they got Johnny Cueto. The Yankees declared their top prospects off limits, and got nothing (despite a late charge for Craig Kimbrel). Heck, even the Mets got a little better, right?

But look at those other teams.

Toronto hasn’t been in the postseason since Joe Carter touched home plate in 1993. They spent lots of money over the past couple of years building stacked, powerful rosters, but haven’t even sniffed the wild card. Their best players are at the age where they could decline quickly.

Kansas City, the textbook definition of a small market team, probably won’t be able to keep everyone on their team together for long due to financial constraints. They suffered 29 dark Octobers before dialing back the clock in 2014. They have a roster with that postseason experience under their belts. If they had either one or two more pieces or hadn’t run into Madison Bumgarner and the Giants in an even year, they could have pulled off a championship. They’re back on top of their division this year, but how long will it last once players start leaving?

The Mets are a little different. They’re coming off a long run where their owners were financially constrained, and now a restless fan base wants to at least see a playoff berth. But those other two teams are thinking World Series or bust.

And you know what? They are right to think that. Their windows are not wide, and may already be in the process of shutting, maybe for a decade or more.

Which brings us back to the Yankees. Their roster has performed well, this year. Everything has gone just right. But they were notoriously streaky in the first half.

Could you see the Yankees’ bats going cold and putting up six or seven runs – total – in a five-game playoff series? It’s more than conceivable, if that series happens in the wrong week, it’s likely.

Could you also see the current roster catching fire and putting up six or seven runs per game over a playoff series? And, if everything goes just right, making a World Series run on grit and the strength of their bullpen?

Brian Cashman probably saw those almost equally likely outcomes, too. If cold bats could sink your October so quickly, why trade any of the top four or five prospects – all of whom the Yankees feel are big league regulars who could contribute significantly as early as 2016 – for three months of Price or Cueto? If those young players work their way into the lineup alongside veterans over the next few seasons (while some of the more cumbersome contracts come off the books) the Yankees could find themselves at the beginning of a window, rather than at the end.

Truthfully, the Yankees’ deadline activity should have been called a draw. They probably couldn’t have made a deal that would have put them in an appreciably better position for 2015 – and they didn’t screw up 2016 or 2017 by trying.

Crummy Little Podcast, Politics and Grassroots, Tech

Crummy Little Podcast Episode 3: Todd Van Etten

There aren’t many people who can keep up with the ever-evolving intersection between technology and politics. Todd Van Etten, Chief Digital Strategist for The Herald Group, is one of them, and he does it well. He’s this week’s guest on the Crummy Little Podcast, chatting about online politics and advocacy.

You can download/listen here or through iTunes.