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Baseball Boy Blames Bias

Baseball Boy Blames Bias by Eric Per1in

Cartoon of the Week for September 12, 2012

Funny food parents sports  cartoon, September 12, 2012

09/12/2012

The Great American Cheat Sheet

By Ray Lesser

W.C. Fields said, “Anything worth having is a thing worth cheating for.” By following that guiding principle, Americans have become the greatest cheaters in the world. From the time we’re little kids lying about the cards we hold in our Go Fish hands, until we find out about our potentially terminal disease and try to cheat death, Americans have become masters of getting away with it.

Cheating has become so commonplace that people have had to change the definition of what it means to cheat. For example, my friend Dan believes that when he’s golfing, it’s OK to kick the ball out of the rough and back onto the fairway for an easier shot, as long as you’re not sneaky about what you’re doing. “It’s not cheating if you tell everyone what you’re going to do” he says.”It’s only when you try to lie about it that it’s cheating.” All his golfing buddies know Dan cheats and they would be disappointed in him if he suddenly stopped.”They’d worry that I was sick.”

When a sportswriter asked baseball manager Sparky Anderson about his education he replied, “I only had a high school education and believe me, I had to cheat to get that.” Sparky was not alone. In schools, a majority of people now cheat to get better grades. According to a study published in 2006 by Donald McCabe, a Rutgers professor who has studied cheating for many years, 56 percent of MBA students admitted cheating, along with 54 percent of students in engineering and 45 percent in law. Who would have ever guessed that would-be lawyers would be the most honest students in school?

When the kids who grow up cheating on tests and buying term papers on the Internet finally get jobs, it’s not surprising that they begin figuring ways to cheat their bosses, their clients, or their company’s shareholders. “Thank God there are 25 hours in a day,” said a recent law school grad. “Otherwise, I’d never be able to rack up enough billable hours to make partner.” What starts out as fudging a number on a timecard or expense account can easily turn into “massaging” the numbers on quarterly financial reports to make the company stock price zoom. But about the worst that ever seems to happen to cheating business executives is that they are forced to resign in disgrace and live off the meager multi-million dollar bonuses they received when they reported last year’s dubious numbers.

With the latest political scandals involving prostitutes, three-ways with the chauffer, or wide-stanced rendezvous’ in public restrooms, voters are beginning to look back nostalgically on the days when politicians were only expected to be liars and crooks. But it isn’t only politicians who have been cheating. The Internet has more sites about how to cheat or catch your partner cheating than eBay has listings for iPods. WomanSavers.com, for example, offers a database ranking cheating men, and gives profiles of their cheating history, allowing visitors to “research and rate b4u date.” Meanwhile, AskMen.com offers a different perspective: “Cheating on your girlfriend – How having an affair can strengthen your relationship.” Hmm. Wonder which site is bookmarked by the most state governors?

Sports stars have also made big cheating headlines this year. I grew up in a time when spitballs and greaseballs were an intrinsic part of the game of baseball. It wasn’t considered cheating so long as you didn’t get caught, and if you did get caught, they just made you start over again with a dry ball. But now the cheaters aren’t corking the bats, they’re corking the batters. Athletes will do seemingly anything to get an edge over their opponents, but even coaches have been caught up in this year’s scandals, with Super Bowl champion coach Bill Belichick being fined $500,000 for illegally videotaping opposing coaches. Coaches Gone Wild. That must have been an exciting video to watch.

As long as the reward of better grades, better sex, or bigger endorsement contracts seems to outweigh the risk of being caught, we can expect cheating to continue to dominate our psyches, and our headlines. We know there are millions of other people out there cheating, and getting away with it, so why shouldn’t we? Compare all the people who are outsmarting the Big Government bureaucrats at the IRS to those few who have gotten caught, been audited, had everything they own attached, and been forced to pay interest and penalties, possibly for the rest of their lives. Or imagine the bragging rights (plus the financial rewards) you’d be due if you could figure out a system to beat the dealers in Las Vegas, versus the slim chance that Big Lenny would come to your hotel room in the middle of the night to break your thumbs, legs, or neck.

OK, maybe those aren’t the best risk/reward examples. But no one can deny the advantages of cheating death. Our health care and insurance industries are designed to give you the maximum chances of doing just that. The sicker you get, the more attention and technology get poured into your fight. And what’s the worst you risk if you do cheat death? Another season of American Idol? A small price to pay for the chance to have more time to cheat at everything else.

Cartoon of the Week for October 17, 2007

Funny David Sipress sports  cartoon, October 17, 2007

10/17/2007

Fantasy Baseball

By Ray Lesser

I can’t swing a bat without throwing out my back, and when I slide into second my knee swells up to the size of a softball, but that doesn’t stop me from playing baseball. Fantasy baseball, that is. Played on the internet, fantasy baseball allows you to get a feel of what it would be like to be a despicable, insensitive owner and manage a team filled with primadonna superstars, without the burden of forking over multimillion dollar contracts to each of them, keeping them medicated and surgically repaired, or acting pleasant to their greedy agents over cocktails. Managers get to draft a team of big league ballplayers whose actual on-the-field performances are automatically tracked by the internet server, which spits out cumulative team statistics and standings. One manager might have a team filled with hitters like Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa, and get a lot of points in hitting categories like home runs and RBIs, while another manager’s strategy might be to draft pitchers like Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez and get points for how many times they start bench-clearing brawls by throwing beanballs at opposing batters.

Fantasy baseball is a great substitute for another fantasy internet sport many Americans played over the past few seasons: the stock market. There’s no risk of losing your retirement money on sure-fire business ideas that nobody has ever heard of before (“Let’s buy Virtual Wire! They’re developing wireless wire that’s sure to become the standard in all wireless devices. At least that’s what the elevator operator told me, and he should know, because he overhears many important sounding conversations.”) Yet fantasy baseball satisfies the same yearning as day trading: To sit on your butt in front of the computer and beat all the other players by clicking your mouse the fastest.

My fantasy baseball strategy has evolved over the past couple seasons. The first year I drafted my favorite players based on their entire careers. I was in it for the long haul (or at least one whole season). This compares with the buy and hold theory of investing; buy generally boring companies like General Electric, General Motors, and General Mills, and hang onto them until it’s time to retire and go fishing. My team drifted through the season in the middle of the pack. Where’s the excitement in that? This is America: I want to win, and I want to win now!

I started dumping players who weren’t having good seasons, and picking up others from the waiver pool of surplus players who were. But my team was still mediocre, so I began getting rid of players who were having bad months and picking up free agents who were having good ones. Then I started getting rid of players who were in slumps for a week, and picking up players who were on hot streaks. If a player had a sore shoulder or leg, he was a dead racehorse. The ideals of despot capitalism were revealed to me. There was a huge surplus of labor available, for literally nothing. There was no need to stick with a player just because he had served me well in the past. The only important thing became “what have you done for me lately.”

This month a players strike, or owners lockout, threatens to end the baseball season before the World Series. This would also effectively end the fantasy baseball season, in the middle of some very close races (which a lot of money is riding on, by the way). Well, I say to hell with them! We don’t need greedy baseball owners or players to play fantasy baseball. All we need are computers and statistics. We can have the computers create fantasy statistics. Just make up some numbers, the same way Worldcom, Enron, and a host of other fantasy capitalists did. It didn’t make a difference to investors whether companies were actually creating anything of value to our society, as long as the price of their stock kept going up. If people can keep playing the game, who cares what’s happening in the real world?

In fact, while we’re at it, why do we need to have a real democratic government? Hardly anybody votes or participates in democracy anymore. The candidates that do run are all completely indebted to rich special interests long before they’re even qualified to be on the ballot. Wouldn’t it be a lot simpler and quicker for the people running the government if they could just ignore all the laws and the constitution, and just rule by fiat? As long as we remain the #1 superpower in the world, and have plenty of gas for our cars, and time to watch our favorite programs on TV and play in our fantasy baseball leagues, why would anyone object?