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About Jon
Thank You For Not ...

1) using profanity or any euphemisms for profanity
2) personally attacking other commenters
3) baiting other commenters
4) arguing for the sake of arguing
5) discussing politics
6) using hyperbole when something less will suffice
7) using sarcasm in a way that can be misinterpreted negatively
8) making the same point over and over again
9) typing "no-hitter" or "perfect game" to describe either in progress
10) being annoyed by the existence of this list
11) commenting under the obvious influence
12) claiming your opinion isn't allowed when it's just being disagreed with

'The Sweetness a Millimeter Underneath'
2006-02-09 13:09
by Jon Weisman

On a quiet, pre-Spring Training day, I commend this piece by Times editorial writer Karin Klein to you. I can't pick a portion to excerpt without spoiling the exquisite flow of the entire story. Indulge me and follow the link to read the whole thing. ...

For Dodger content, some recent photos by team historian Mark Langill of the ongoing Dodger Stadium renovation are available at They've really root-canaled the seats, which were definitely decaying in spots - or misaligned, if what so many people said about the baseline sections was true. Here's hoping the new seats are comfortable.

Update: Nuts, I meant to link this Baseball Analysts guest piece by Will Leitch of Deadspin about newspapers and blogging earlier today:

This is not to say that beat reporters are lazy; far from it. It's just that the world of newspapers, when compared to blogs, does not give them the freedom (or, more accurately, the space), to delve into what actually mattered in the game, accounting for context, complexity and ultimate impact. Baseball blogs are the most fun sports blogs to read because great ones have multiple entries every day, and they provide perspective and talking points; they are great because they assume you have already seen the game. We are no longer in the days of radio; if you have MLB.TV, or even freaking cable, you can watch every game. We do not need reporters to tell us the facts; we need people to tell us what it means. Or, more specific, to ask us what we think it means.

Thanks to Baseball Think Factory for the reminder. In a way, Leitch's column picks up where the musings of Times reporter Bill Shaikin left off about a year ago.

You should know how I feel already. Newspapers and blogs are both filled with lazy thinkers and brilliant thinkers. There are different skill sets for each job (yes, blogging has a skill set), but when the system's working right, reporters and bloggers compliment each other wonderfully.

Most bloggers depend on mainstream coverage to some extent, for basic information or for conversation launching points. A nice, recent development is how some reporters have decided that the feeling is mutual.

Bottom line: Great writing is great writing, wherever you find it. Exhibit A is at the top of this post.

Comments (67)
Show/Hide Comments 1-50
2006-02-09 13:28:44
1.   Linkmeister
Quite an editorial column. Why are my eyes stinging?
2006-02-09 13:34:48
2.   Bob Timmermann
Why is 7 X 8 so much harder for people to memorize? Just curious.

As for the seats at Dodger Stadium, one reason I had a hard time getting anybody to sit with me in the season ticket packet I bought was that the seats were so uncomfortable.

I think that's why Icaros broke into my apartment five times. He wanted revenge.

2006-02-09 13:47:56
3.   Marty
If you just reverse it and make it 8 x 7 it's much easier to remember
2006-02-09 13:58:57
4.   LAT
I think I mentioned this before but I'll repost. Two or three weeks ago I was at DS and sat in the new seats on what was the red level (nose bleeds). The seat bottoms and backs are hollow and smaller making them seem cheaper but with new plastics and resins (I'm no chemist) they are probably stronger. I will say they were ergonomically more comfortable for my 6' 5" carcass. More support under the legs and butt. And cup holders, lordy lord, there are cup holders everywhere.
2006-02-09 14:04:19
5.   Marty
I imagine I'll still manage to kick a beer down someone's shirt despite the myriad cup holders.
2006-02-09 14:12:58
6.   DXMachina
That's a great column. Damned allergies...
2006-02-09 14:32:25
7.   LAT
It figures that the only story worth reading in the LAT comes to me through DT.
2006-02-09 14:40:25
8.   Jon Weisman
There's a Being John Malcovich quality to LAT commenting on the LAT.
2006-02-09 15:16:40
9.   Marty
"I'll meet you in Malcovich at 4 p.m."

One of my favorite lines

2006-02-09 15:24:30
10.   D4P
I remember taking a math test in 3rd grade that included a question along these lines:

4 X 6 =

a. 24
b. XX
c. XX
d. 26
e. XX

Despite always being among the best math students in school, when I arrived at this question, it confused me and I went up to the teacher to tell him that the answer choices included not one, but TWO correct answers. Somehow, inexplicably, I thought that both "24" and "26" were the correct answer to the question.

2006-02-09 15:44:07
11.   Bob Timmermann
I told a friend of mine who was turning 41 that she was in her prime.

She didn't get the joke.

2006-02-09 15:44:24
12.   Jon Weisman
Here's my math story.

With the exception of geometry, I was great at math until calculus knocked me upside the head. In eighth grade, everyone in school participated in a 40-question contest. Prizes were to be awarded to the top five finishers.

When the results were announced, six of us had tied for first place. Instead of giving out six prizes, or having a tiebreaker, they gave prizes to everyone but me.

When I asked why I got left out, my teacher said, absolutely seriously, that it was because they awarded the prizes to the top finishers alphabetically.

I was not meant to be a mathlete.

2006-02-09 15:49:26
13.   D4P
If I'm not mistaken, she's in her 13th prime.

I was great until high school calculus too. I got "As" in my classes, but I didn't really know what I was doing. I took a year of calc in undergrad as well, and was completely lost. That pretty much marked the end of my math career, until I started having to learn statistics.

2006-02-09 15:53:51
14.   Bob Timmermann
I got through two quarters of calculus in college and went from a B+ and then to an A despite understanding less and less of what I was being taught.

I took statistics later on and breezed through it.

Then I joined SABR and realized that compared to most people I know squat about math. So I tend to stick to the historical/biographical stuff.

2006-02-09 15:56:10
15.   deburns
I went to a college that allowed you to skip math entirely if you took Ancient Greek instead, which I took. Naturally, when I got out of law school, I became a banking lawyer who dealt with numbers all the time, and I hadn't even taken an accounting course. The triumph of OJT.
2006-02-09 15:56:28
16.   D4P
True. The sabre crowd tis' a mathy lot.

BTW, which is worse: knowing squat or not knowing squat?

2006-02-09 16:04:37
17.   King of the Hobos
Looks like I'm one of the few DTers that have posted in this thread who didn't fall on his face in calculus. I got an A in calculus in my junior year, and just got an A in calculus II last semester. Now I'm trying my hand at calculus III, as a senior in high school.
2006-02-09 16:07:13
18.   Marty
I made it through one semester of calculus. I would've taken more, but I got a job instead.

When I was 48 I would tell people I'm only 30 in hexadecimal and then I'd watch them look at me strangely. Now I'm 32 in hex.

2006-02-09 16:14:25
19.   Linkmeister
Man, what schools did you folks go to? I went to one of the best in the DC suburbs (Thomas Jefferson Sci/Tech, in case Sam reads this), and they sure didn't offer calc. They did offer Russian during my junior and senior years, so I took that along with French. I think I thought I was gonna be a diplomat or something.
2006-02-09 16:19:45
20.   Sam DC
TJ, very impressive.

I took the AB components of calculus in my junior; decided not to bother with C in my senior year. Got called into Dr. Dworkowski's office to discuss this poor choice, and the whole thing turned into a general warning not to get all dissolute in my senior year.

The warning didn't necessarily take, although we all came out in one piece.

2006-02-09 16:24:54
21.   Jon Weisman
20 - LOL. My year, it was Ms. Sorensen, I think, or someone like that telling me I was making a fatal mistake by dropping Mr. Carlson's Advanced Topics partway through my senior year.

I think I took Calculus BC in 11th grade and scratched out a B. Freshman year in college, I cashed in only half of the AP credits and more or less retook the class.

2006-02-09 16:25:34
22.   Bob Timmermann
In my day, the early 1980s, if you were in LAUSD you could take calculus in your senior year if you managed to get on the right track in junior high.

One of my brothers took algebra in 8th grade, so he got to take calculus in 12th. When I was a senior, that was the same year that the students at Garfield High all aced the AP test unexpectedly and we all got to "Stand and Deliver". My trig/math analysis teacher knew about Escalante's teaching style and said he wasn't surprised at how everything turned out. But he said it would be hard to copy in other schools, which seems to be the case.

2006-02-09 16:33:12
23.   underdog
Oh well, it could be worse - you could have been traded from one network to another for a cartoon bunny:

(I wish I could make up stuff like this)

2006-02-09 16:39:00
24.   Marty
That is such a strange story

NEW YORK (AP) -- Al Michaels was traded from ABC to NBC for a cartoon bunny, four rounds of golf and Olympic highlights.

Reminds me of a friend who traded his car for $50 and a bag of an unnamed leafy substance

2006-02-09 16:57:06
25.   DXMachina
I did fine in college calculus, but I bounced off of differential equations like a Baltimore chop off Astroturf.

I was listening to Dick Ebersol of NBC explain the Michaels deal to Mike Francesca on WFAN, including all the stuff about Oswald the Rabbit. So very strange. You really can't make this stuff up.

2006-02-09 17:08:03
26.   Ken Arneson
There's a joke in there somewhere about Danish rabbits, but I can't figure it out.

I took three calculus courses in college, and I did OK, but I found it was like teflon in my brain. It would never stick, so every time I started a new course, I felt like I had to start over from scratch and learn it all over again.

2006-02-09 17:13:14
27.   D4P
Am I the only one who feels pretty strongly that high schools should teach statistics instead of calculus? I would have to think that the former would prove much more useful to the majority of the population than the latter. I don't know the percentage of people who actually use calculus after high school, but it's gotta be pretty darn small.
2006-02-09 17:17:51
28.   King of the Hobos
27 My high school teaches both (both are of the AP variety)
2006-02-09 17:19:12
29.   D4P
My high school didn't teach stats (late 80s early 90s), but maybe things have changed. Teaching both is fine, but teaching just calc doesn't make much sense to me.
2006-02-09 17:32:29
30.   King of the Hobos
For those dying to know, we officially received cash for Joe Thurston
2006-02-09 17:34:41
31.   Bob Timmermann
The Yankees have cash left around?
2006-02-09 17:34:49
32.   Xeifrank
Ah, math and hexidecimal talk on DT today! I get to spend 9 hours every day doing this kind of stuff. FAF320 is one of my favorite hex numbers. It's a very popular 24 bit sync pattern.
vr, Xei
2006-02-09 17:36:38
33.   Linkmeister
Stats would be especially useful for those folks who intend to go into political journalism. Then they could write sensible stories about $2.77T budgets, rather than the nonsense most of them write.

I've used the stats courses I took in college; I never took calc and I've never missed it.

Yes, I can still read Russian (see above).

2006-02-09 18:35:54
34.   Adam M
Having taken several years of HS and college calc classes, I'm with the guy who said they should teach stats instead. In practical terms, calc is only useful to people who will go on to study physics, which is almost nobody. Stats are useful every day. For most people, calc for is as close to a liberal art as the "hard" subjects get.
2006-02-09 18:52:06
35.   tjshere
23 - How ironic is it that a story involving the trade of a cartoon character is reported to us by someone named "underdog"?
2006-02-09 19:07:30
36.   Steve
We traded Repko for a cartoon bunny! Hooray!
2006-02-09 19:12:45
37.   the OZ
My math story involves multiplication AND the Dodgers.

In second grade, my dad would quiz me on the multiplication tables while we were stuck in traffic leaving the Dodger Stadium lot. Everytime I leave the stadium via that exit, I end up thinking "6x6=36, 7x9=72..."

I never missed a question on any of my quizzes. Needless to say, any kids I end up having will have their multiplication skills tested on Stadium Way.

2006-02-09 19:19:25
38.   Bob Timmermann
2006-02-09 19:28:54
39.   Bob Timmermann
Steve's favorite college basketball team just won again on the road and went to 20-4 on the season with a 50-30 win over Washington State.

That's the fewest points UCLA has given up in a game since 2/17/1967 when they beat Oregon 34-25 in Eugene.

2006-02-09 20:02:43
40.   FirstMohican
My 8th grade algebra teacher (who, fortunately, has since been arrested for trying to meet what he thought was a 13 year old but in actuality an FBI agent) literally gave students their algebra book and said: "do chapters 1-3 by this month." If it wasn't for the library's copy of the teacher's edition I wouldn't have had so much free time that year. It's a wonder I ever became an engineer.
2006-02-09 20:12:44
41.   Daniel Zappala

Great article. I'm proud to say I actually read it before you linked to it here. But then, I've been spending my extra time reading 40-50 pages of math education papers, learning all about why the "investigations" style math program is a lousy thing. This program was dropped by California a while back, but our school district loves fuzzy math and thinks it's great. I don't recommend trying to combat the backward policies of a school district in your spare time.

2006-02-09 20:53:35
42.   ToyCannon
Great article, thanks for the link. My wife is a 4th grade LAUSD teacher and has at times used her best math students to pair up with her worse math students. Sometimes her ex students show up after school to help with kids who need it and are interested in the help. When you have 35 kids and no aids you do what you can.

I guess Drew McCourt must have done better then anyone here on his calc classes other then our own Hobo. Now that he's in marketing instead of astrophysics maybe he should have taken statistics instead.

2006-02-09 20:54:03
43.   Andrew Shimmin
My high school didn't have a real stats class. They did offer what was called Business Math, which, though it met the math requirement, seemed to mostly be about making dioramas and collages. We had an Environmental Science class which was much more an Intro to Marxism, than anything about Science. There was a Composition class every assignment of which was a worksheet.

I once wrote the State Attorney General, begging him to sue my school for improper labling. He sent me an autopen-signed 8x10 picture of himself.

2006-02-09 20:55:07
44.   Colorado Blue
Being a software engineer you'd think I'd love math, but no I hate it... I love hex numbers though! A few of my favorites:
Oh! The list just goes on and on...
2006-02-09 20:55:32
45.   Andrew Shimmin
To be fair, it was a really nice picture.
2006-02-09 21:10:59
46.   Steve
In my college stats class, I did a project about marginal hall of fame candidates (who doesn't?). There were two classes, and the professors split us into teams of three and had a contest to determine the best project -- winner to receive a $50 gift certificate at the college bookstore. My project took second. Later, the professor confided that of the panel of five judges, four had voted mine the best project, but they had used a weighted scoring system, and while the four judges had divided their points on roughly a 4-3-2-1 scale, the fifth had given all her 10 points to another project, and therefore, I lost.

And that's why I hate people.

2006-02-09 21:14:24
47.   Bob Timmermann
I think we all need a group hug to get over our math issues.
2006-02-09 21:16:16
48.   D4P
That reminds me of the time in 5th grade when we had to write a story and read it to the "little kids" (i.e. the 1st and 2nd graders) who each gave one of the following grades to our stories: Smiley Face, Straight Face, or Frowny Face. The kids gave my story ("Tommy and the Land of Cookies") all Smiley Faces except for one, Crystal Szyspanski (sp?), who gave me a Straight Face.

And that's why I hate Crystal.

2006-02-09 21:19:27
49.   Steve
Well, this is our outlet for dealing psychologically with bad television, math, and middle relievers, isn't it?
2006-02-09 21:20:33
50.   Brendan
I'm angry at numbers.
Show/Hide Comments 51-100
2006-02-09 21:22:14
51.   Steve
For a bunch of egghead Plaschke-haters, we sure hate numbers.
2006-02-09 21:24:51
52.   Andrew Shimmin
I like numbers, I just like them better when somebody else figures them out and posts them. For free.
2006-02-09 21:39:55
53.   Vishal
that cal-stanford game was awesome. clutch shots and free throws down the stretch by both teams, and the good guys won. sorry jon :)
2006-02-09 21:42:57
54.   underdog
35 Heh. And I was traded for a bag of magic beans and Joe Thurston.

(Wait, isn't Underdog supposed to rhyme? What rhymes with "Thurston"? "And on this scene I will be a-burstin'" Er...)

2006-02-09 21:45:58
55.   Vishal
[54] thirstin'... first in.... worst in.... cursed in... kirsten...
2006-02-09 21:47:36
56.   Steve
worst in

almost rhymes with Ja(y)son

2006-02-09 23:05:13
57.   fanerman
I love math. Well, I loved math until there were more letters than numbers. I haven't taken any in college and probably never will, unless stats related classes count as math. I took 3 semesters worth of calculus in high school (up to multivariable--it was one of THOSE high schools), a semester of linear algebra, and ap stats. I liked calculus but the more advanced math didn't seem that interesting. I never liked the crazy symbolic stuff. I've since turned to more applied stuff, like physics and engineering and stuff. I still like stats and I still like numbers, though. So I guess I'm not in this group hug.
2006-02-09 23:41:56
58.   regfairfield
57 Pretty much how I feel. If you give me a problem with numbers and good enough examples, I'll figure it out. If it's a general case, I'm screwed. For example, from the assignment I just finished:

Given the 5-Tuple descriptions from DFAs M1 and M2 over the same alphabet sigma, construct a NFA of the following functions

1. M1 union M2
2. M1 intersection M2
3. M1 xor M2

Had M1 and M2 gotten actual defintion, I would have been fine. As it stands, I haven't a clue how to this.

2006-02-10 00:34:33
59.   Steve
The Times handled the Molina situation about as (dis)honorably as it could, offering no opinion at all that I can tell. However, we are treated to this Captain Obvious quote from Bill Stoneman about how GMs deal with players

"We handled it the way we usually handle these things — I deal with the agent and Mike deals with the player."

GMs do not talk to players about business. If players want to talk to GMs, they can fire their idiot agents and retain their power of attorney. When GMs talk to players, and not agents, they get Luke Hochevar. Which is why they do not talk to players. This is such simple logic, correctly unremarked upon by the author of the piece, that one wonders why days and months were wasted worrying about whether Adrian Beltre received a phone call. Of course he didn't.

In any case, signing Molina was a terrible idea before, and now after this embarrassment, thank goodness he'll be enjoying his cheetoes somewhere else.

2006-02-10 07:09:52
60.   Colorado Blue
Since we are all hating math at the moment, here's another equation to ponder:
Alfonso Soriano = $12M
2006-02-10 07:34:02
61.   dagwich
Funny about math. I hated math all through high school and my first attempt at college (UCLA & Cal). Did the normal thing back then and took a break, then came back to school at NC State, and the math bug hit me, and I loved it. So much, in fact, that I got an MS in Biostats. It is good for my line of work that so many people (especially doctors) hate dealing with data.

If I had more time I'd really pay attention to the SABR-type stuff. But on the face of it I love reading about all the metrics that have been advanced in the past decade.

I don't think you have to love dealing with numbers to be a Plaschke-hater.

2006-02-10 07:39:47
62.   Colorado Blue
I don't think you have to love dealing with numbers to be a Plaschke-hater.

No, more likely you have to hate dealing with idiots.

2006-02-10 07:53:25
63.   Sam DC
60 Has there actually been a ruling on that?

Nationals fans -- who I believe all hate Soriano (and will right up until his first big HR) -- blame the Dodgers for overpaying Furcal, which they think will lead to Soriano getting $12 million instead of $10 million. My thinking is, who cares. What exactly is Bowden going to do with an extra $2 million anyhow -- sign six more mid-tier infielders?

2006-02-10 08:14:27
64.   dagwich
63 Speaking of group hugs...we should all thank whatever that McCourt's GM flavor of the moment was Colletti and not Bowden. If Bowden had been picked I may have been one of rats abandoning ship.
2006-02-10 08:23:38
65.   Steve
What exactly is Bowden going to do with an extra $2 million anyhow -- sign six more mid-tier infielders?

Jim Bowden cried himself to sleep on the night Ramon Martinez signed with the Dodgers.

Though "mid-tier" is an awfully kind description of any of these guys.

2006-02-10 09:26:43
66.   Jon Weisman
So, Danica still hasn't commented here, huh?
2006-02-10 22:13:14
67.   jeffw
The first link is a true tear jerker. A terrific story and I'm glad you picked it up. However, I was also struck by what Will Leitch said, that great bloggers post several times a day. Any comment, Jon?

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