Zack Greinke, that is: the best pitcher in the major leagues right now. Here’s an “unofficial top ten” Zack Greinke quotes, passed on from Royals Corner[*1] by the Kansas City Star’s Royals Blog[*2] :

10. “I could hit me if someone were on base. It wouldn’t be easy, but I could do it. If no one were on base, I wouldn’t care as much, so I could get me out.”

9. Upon hearing then-Royals GM Allard Baird was going to watch him throw: “And you’re gonna be impressed,”

8. “I’d say the average person wouldn’t eat a Chipotle burrito and still do his running, full speed, like me. That’s why they call me special.”

7. “I was giving (Royals pitcher) Brian Bannister all the credit for being the best-hitting pitcher on the team, until today. Now, I’ve got my confidence back. They’re throwing me sliders, and it doesn’t matter.”

6. “For the first month of the season, (young, big-hitting Royal Billy Butler) has definitely been an above-average first baseman. That’s hard for me to say because I never thought anyone would say that but him and his family.”

5. Two years ago, with (young Royal 3rd baseman) Alex Gordon struggling, Greinke pulled him into the video room to show him a clip of Greinke hitting his home run. “In case you forgot,” Greinke said, “this is what a home run looks like.”

4. “Nice effort by the defense. They didn’t get tired of running after balls to the wall. I was pretty impressed by that.”

3. To (former Royals reliever) Jeremy Affeldt after Affeldt gave up a homer on what he thought was a good pitch. “Really, I went back to the clubhouse and looked at the pitch on video. It was a really bad pitch. Right over the middle of the plate, and you got it up. I mean it was a bad pitch.”
Affeldt: “Thanks, Zack.”
Zack: “Right down the middle. I could have hit it out.”
Affeldt: “Thanks, Zack.”
Zack: “Yeah.”

2. On making the Sports Illustrated cover: “There’s a lot more interesting stuff going on right now. They should have something else on the cover. Playoff basketball or something else. So it’s a mistake. They’ll probably sell their least amount of magazines in a long time — except when NASCAR was on the cover.”

1. On hoping President Obama would cuss him out at the All-Star game: “Because none of the White Sox guys like me. So I was hoping that he’d recognize me and be like, ‘You punk, I hate you.’ But he didn’t do that.”

Zack Greinke was the only thing that could get me out to a Royals game the last third of the season. Even the Friday night fireworks couldn’t do it.

One Year Ago: Whose fault is it?

Do you want to know who’s responsible for today’s financial crisis?

Victor Davis Hanson writes
[*1] :

We created the cultural climate for this shared madness. Television shows advised how to “flip” a house after putting in cosmetic improvements. Real-estate seminars and popular videos convinced us that homes were not places to live in and raise a family but rather no different from piles of chips on a Vegas table.

We created the phony populist creed that everyone deserved to own a house. So lawmakers got the message to relax lending standards in service to “fairness.” But Americans forgot that historically nearly four in 10 of us aren’t ever ready, or able, to sacrifice for a down payment, monthly mortgage bills, home maintenance and yearly taxes — and so should stick to renting.

Do you really want to know who’s responsible?

Go look in a mirror.

And then quit using so much G-Damned credit, and stop wanting something for nothing (or even worse, wanting “the government” to pay for stuff you can’t afford on your own–like housing or medical coverage).  “Oh, it’s not for me, it’s for those poor souls over there,” you exclaim, thinking it gives you the moral high ground, and somehow makes it right and proper.

It doesn’t.  If you think that way you’re simply a thief, waiting for an opportunity to strike.

Go look in a mirror.  All of us.  This is our crisis.  Unless we all admit it–to ourselves, to everyone, it will just get worse.  And the pinheads in Washington can only make things worse, not better.  This is the warning bell.  If you elect pinheads in November, this will be like a sunny day in the park.  You have been warned.

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Kansas City Royals: exceptionally bad

Some numbers, from Joe Posnanski.[*1] The question: Has there ever been a team in Major League history that has lost 90 games with a starting pitcher and a “closer” reliever both of which have ERAs of under 2.25, as the Royals’ Zack Greinke and Joachim Soria both have this year?

The answer:

Using 2.25 ERA as a cutoff point, no team with what you might call a dominant starter and closer has come close to losing the 93 games (so far) that the Royals have lost.

If you click through to the article, you find that not only has it never happened before, but as Posnanski notes, it’s never even come close to happening.

In other words, a baseball team this bad doesn’t just happen. It takes work. This year’s Royals–except for Grienke and Soria–can therefore stake a good claim to being the Worst Major League Baseball Team Ever.

Well done, guys, well done.

Thought for the day

From the book Power in the People by Felix Morley, as linked by Gary Galles at the Ludwig von Mises Institute[*1] :

Power it has, and force, and techniques to make its commands effective…But since the State has no conscience, and is primarily a continuing mechanism of material power, the human welfare side of State activity should blind no thoughtful person to its underlying menace.

Three Years Ago: Higher education must change

That’s the conclusion of a commission report[*1] commissioned by the U.S. Department of Education to justify the department’s existence and justify a budget increase. . . um . . . er . . . (cough, cough)

The purpose of the Commission is to consider how best to improve our system of higher education to ensure that our graduates are well prepared to meet our future workforce needs and are able to participate fully in the changing economy. To accomplish this purpose, the Commission shall consider Federal, state, local, and institutional roles in higher education and analyze whether the current goals of higher education are appropriate and achievable.

Oh, that’s OK then. Let’s look at the recommendations:

1. Every student in the nation should have the opportunity to pursue postsecondary education. We recommend, therefore, that the U.S. commit to an unprecedented effort to expand higher education access and success by improving student preparation and persistence, addressing non academic barriers and providing significant increases in aid to low-income students.

In other words, fix the high schools. Most high schools are places where learning sometimes occurs despite the efforts of the teachers and the school administrations. Public K-12 education is drowning in money, political indoctrination, empire-building, turf battles, and occasionally muddleheaded good intentions. Those teachers who truly want to teach are smothered by their administrations and the entire misguided primary and secondary education system. We need to return to teaching reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic. It doesn’t cost a lot of money to teach a kid to read and write. It does take caring and competent teachers, and lots of them.

Once given the basic tools, our needs to teach kids how to think (NOT, emphatically not—what to think). Students need to learn how to critically process information, how to look into issues, how to engage in intellectual dialogue with their peers. This also doesn’t require a lot of money. Once again, all it takes is competent, caring teachers and a classroom free from unnecessary distractions.

Of course, should we actually decide to educate our children, the introduction of masses of intelligent, reasoning, eloquent, and intellectually demanding college freshman will be a nasty shock to some college professors. But that’s a good problem to have.

2. To address the escalating cost of a college education and the fiscal realities affecting the government’s ability to finance higher education in the long run, we recommend that the entire student financial aid system be restructured and new incentives put in place to improve the measurement and management of costs and institutional productivity.

This is, of course, a money grab. Basically, government is supposed to pour more money into the student aid system (and, therefore, into the colleges and universities) in hopes that something good will happen. Let’s think about that for a minute . . . more money into the system will reduce cost increases.

Someone needs to go back to economics class.

There’s some handwaving about reducing the regulatory burden on colleges and universities, while simultaneously monitoring “productivity and efficiency”. Yeah, that’ll reduce costs.

3. To meet the challenges of the 21st century, higher education must change from a system primarily based on reputation to one based on performance. We urge the creation of a robust culture of accountability and transparency throughout higher education. Every one of our goals, from improving access and affordability to enhancing quality an innovation, will be more easily achieved if higher education institutions embraces and implements serious accountability measures.

Yeah, right. The Ivy League schools are different from the rest of higher education in only two ways: 1) their reputation as “elite” schools, and 2) their enormous endowments. Can you see any scenario where Harvard and Yale will de-emphasize “reputation” as a recruiting tool?

4. With too few exceptions, higher education has yet to address the fundamental issues of how academic programs and institutions must be transformed to serve the changing needs of a knowledge economy. We recommend that America’s colleges and universities embrace a culture of continuous innovation and quality improvement by developing new pedagogies, curricula, and technologies to improve learning, particularly in the area of science and mathematical literacy.

Well this must be good, it has the phrase “knowledge economy” in it. Also, the Demingesque “continuous innovation and quality improvement.” It’s all good. (I think my cynicism is starting to overflow. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for “continuous innovation.” I just find the concept very amusing when applied to the current higher education bureaucracy. Let’s move on . . . )

5. America must ensure that our citizens have access to high quality and affordable educational, learning, and training opportunities throughout their lives. We recommend the development of a national strategy for lifelong learning that helps all citizens understand the importance of preparing for and participating in higher education throughout their lives.

See my comment for #1. People who know how to learn will keep learning, in spite of the best efforts of the education establishment.

6. The United States must ensure the capacity of its universities to achieve global leadership in key strategic areas such as science, engineering, medicine, and other knowledge-intensive professions. We recommend increased federal investment in areas critical to our nation’s global competitiveness and a renewed commitment to attract the best and brightest minds from across the nation and around the world to lead the next wave of American innovation.

Another money grab. What they won’t do is redirect Federal money from, say the National Endowment for the Arts or the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to the National Science Foundation. They’d do this if they were really serious about increasing competitiveness in “science, engineering, medicine, and other knowledge-intensive professions.” Any bets on when this will happen?


Kansas City Star[*1] :

Even if you’re not big on nicknames, you’ve got to like the moniker given to Saturday’s Kansas State-Iowa State football game at Arrowhead Stadium: “Farmaggedon.”

Neither team may not be that good on the field this year, but somebody behind them has a dangerous wit.