All Things Bubba

Because how can you not love a baseball player named "Bubba"?

Friday, October 31, 2008

Baseball's Most Haunted Hotel

It's the Renaissance Vinoy Hotel in St. Petersburg, Florida. (The most haunted baseball field is also in St. Petersburg: Huggins-Stengel Field). According to Haunted Baseball, the Vinoy has such a spooky reputation that some players refuse to stay there.

One who believes the hotel is haunted is relief pitcher Scott Williamson...

Today the Vinoy is the visiting team hotel for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

But movie stars and ballplayers are not the most famous guests at the Vinoy - ghosts are. While some in baseball openly poke fun at the hotel's numerous sightings, for many the fear of uninvited room guests is no laughing matter.

Relief pitcher Scott Williamson had never heard of the Vinoy being haunted when he stayed in an old section of the hotel with the Cincinnati Reds in mid-June 2003. But he ended up with an experience he says he'll never forget. "I turned the lights out and I saw this faint light coming from the pool area. And I got this tingling sensation going through my body like someone was watching me, you know? I was getting a little paranoid.

"Then I roll over to my stomach. And all of a sudden it felt like someone was just pushing down, like this pressure, and I was having trouble breathing. So I rolled back over. I thought, 'That's weird.' I did it again, rolled back on my stomach. All of a sudden, it's like I just couldn't breathe. It felt like someone was sitting on me or something."

This time when Williamson rolled onto his back, he opened his eyes. "I looked, and someone was standing right where the curtains were. A guy with a coat. And it looked like he was from the '40s, or '50s, or '30s-somewhere around that era."

Williamson called his wife Lisa, who worked in an emergency room, and asked if there could be a medical reason for the heaviness on his chest. "She went through all the things that could happen, but obviously hadn't happened. She said 'Why?' And I said, 'I tell ya, the weirdest thing just happened to me.' I told her the whole story."

"ESPN caught onto the story the next day," adds Williamson. "And then a buddy of mine went and did research on it. He came back and told me, 'You're not gonna believe this! There's a guy who died in that hotel. His name was Williamson. He actually owned the hotel property before it was a hotel.' He's going through this whole thing about a fire and all this stuff. I'm like, 'What's his last name?' He goes 'Williamson.' I was like, 'You gotta be kidding me!'"

Other players and coaches have seen the ghost in the old-fashioned clothing. One player's wife refused to stay at the hotel when the water in the bathroom sink kept turning itself on, and the toilet repeatedly flushed itself. Jay Gibbons once set his alarm clock, went to the bathroom to wash up, and came back to find the clock unplugged, the cord draped over the dresser - though the outlet was near the floor. To this day, he sleeps with the lights on when he has to stay at the Vinoy.

Brian Roberts came back to his room, and found the clothes that had been hanging in the closet were on the bed. The maid hadn't been in the room. (And why would she put the clothes on the bed, anyway?)

Perhaps the creepiest experience was Devil Ray pitcher Jon Switzer's. He woke in the middle of the night, to the sound of scratching. When he turned on the lamp, he was shocked to see the painting above the bed had come to life. The woman in the picture, who had been posed with her hand under her chin, was now scratching at the glass, as if trying to get out.

Just a dream? If so, his wife Dana had the same dream, because she saw and heard it, too. They fled the room in the middle of the night.

Happy Halloween!

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posted by BubbaFan, 6:38 AM | link | 0 comments |

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Horror Story

No, not the kind that involves ghosts. Unless you count the ghosts of dead mortgages.

The government is readying a plan to bail out homeowners. Fair enough, you might think, since they bailed out the banks that made their ridiculous mortgages.'s grossly unfair to people who did the right thing, did not lie on their applications, and paid their bills on time. And those who accept the bailout may find it's a trap.

Karl Denninger puts it this way:

Stop Paying Your Mortgage Today

See, in many states purchase-money first mortgages are "non-recourse", meaning that all they can do is ruin your credit and foreclose on your house.

That's it.

They cannot force you into bankruptcy, they cannot garnish your wages.

And from the time you stop paying until the time you get evicted, you get to live there for free.

Finally, after you have been foreclosed upon, your house (and lots like it if your friends and neighbors do likewise) will drop dramatically in price. Presto! In a year or two you will be able to buy it back at half what you paid for it in 2004 or 2005. Now that's a bargain.

...If your next door neighbor lied about their income to get their house, or took out an exotic "Option ARM" mortgage and can't afford their payments, they will get a big fat bailout.

You will, in fact, get his mortgage bill.

Unless you intentionally default, in which case you will still get to pay taxes, but you won't pay your mortgage, and thus, you won't pay twice.

And what happens to the "lucky" people who get the government bailout?

Your neighbor who goes for the government's "deal"? He gets it in both eye sockets. See, a refinance, which this is, converts your mortgage into a recourse loan. That means if you take their "great deal" and then default later on (e.g. you lose your job in the upcoming Depression) your wages can be garnished forever and, if you earn more than the median income, you can't even get rid of the debt in bankruptcy.

Of course, walking away is not the solution for everyone. Laws vary by state, and if you re-financed, they can come after you. And if you have a lot of equity, you probably wouldn't want to walk away. Still...more and more people are taking the "jingle mail" route. If your home is worth $200,000 and you owe $400,000, why keep making payments?

People are arranging to buy similar houses in the same neighborhood, while their credit is still good, then defaulting on their old mortgage. They can live in the house for an average of eight months without paying a cent, while the eviction process takes place. Then they move into their new house, which is just as good, but costs half as much. Their credit rating will be trashed, but it's a small price to pay. A few years of paying their bills on time, and that will be fixed.

There's even a business set up to do this for you: For a fee, they'll set everything up.

Is it immoral? Some would say yes; you promised to pay, and now you aren't. But others, like Mish, argue that it's just a business decision. Banks didn't worry about what was moral when they sold people mortgages they couldn't afford, and they have no qualms about throwing little old ladies out in the street if they can't make the payments. Employers don't worry about the harm they are doing when they decide layoffs are needed to help their bottom line. If banks were in the consumer's position, they'd walk away without a second thought.

I don't have a mortgage, but if I did, I'm not sure if I'd walk away or not. I think it is the right thing to do, from a bean-counting perspective. But I'd have a hard time doing it. I'm not the type to break the rules. I've never even gotten a parking ticket.

Sen. Chuck Schumer left a long robocall message on my answering machine today. He should have saved his dime; heck will freeze over before I vote for him. That goes for Hillary, McCain, and Obama, too. They all voted for that stupid bailout for billionaires. It didn't work, and everyone else in the world thinks we're idiots for allowing it. The banks that were given taxpayer money are not lending it out like they were supposed to; instead, it's padding the pockets of shareholders and paying executive bonuses. My European friends don't understand how this can happen, and why we, the people, put up with it. I don't know what to tell them.


posted by BubbaFan, 9:23 PM | link | 2 comments |

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Baseball season is over

Very weird night. The Phillies won the World Series...after a two-day rain delay. I'd have hated to see a World Series won via a rain-shortened game, but watching three innings two days later wasn't that great, either. I wanted a game, and only got a little piece of one. A pretty good piece, but still not very satisfying.

I was rooting for the Rays, not least because I wanted more baseball. Alas, it was not to be. I wonder if the Rays will be an AL East power for years to come, or if it will be a long wait before they climb over the Yanks and the Sox again. I'm guessing they won't have trouble climbing over the Yanks next year, unless Cashman makes some amazing deals over the winter.

Adding to the fun tonight was a sudden failure of my fish tank filter. No, it didn't result in water all over the floor...though I was wondering for awhile. The filter suddenly got really, really loud. I made some adjustments, cleaned the intake, rocked it back and forth to get the air out...still loud. It felt hot to the touch, which isn't normal. So I disconnected it and took it apart. It was dry on top. Water wasn't getting through it. That explained the heat and the noise. I cleaned the filter, put it back together, and hooked it up again. Just the way I wanted to spend the last baseball game of the year. It took some time and effort to "prime" the pump, because all the hoses were dry. I'd noticed the filter wasn't moving as much water as before, but I just thought it was getting old. I guess it needed a cleaning. The cleaning indicator had gotten stuck somehow.

Still, I cleaned it not that long ago; I'm really surprised it got clogged that fast. It's never happened to me before. I suspect the reason is a recent change in water chemistry. They're adding a chemical they didn't used to - chloramine, which can make your filter dirty faster if you don't add chemicals to neutralize it. Guess I'll have to buy some.

Better living through chemistry. :-P

posted by BubbaFan, 10:05 PM | link | 0 comments |

Friday, October 24, 2008

Financial crisis bites Oklahoma State

From OU Insider (free registration required):

"It Can Only Get Better - It Can't Get Any Worse..."

Spiraling Oil Prices Doomed O-State's Once Overflowing Coffers

STILLWATER -- "It can't get any worse," that's what one Oklahoma State Regent said Tuesday morning, after getting another dose of bad news regarding funds earmarked for OSU athletics.

Yesterday all indications were that OSU Regents were reportedly told Friday afternoon that a large portion of the Boone Pickens donation in the BP Capital hedge fund was virtually wiped out by margin calls on the funds investments in the third quarter.

Today the news was a little more grim, as officials were told that actually, the entire $ 165 million donation, and the earnings, which once inflated the gift to over $ 300 million, had recently been eliminated by margin calls due to drastically falling oil prices.

As of Monday OSU's gift had flat-lined completely and was declared virtually 'gone.'

Ironically Pickens will become both the hero and the goat in the drama of high stakes energy gambling, and of forunes won, lost and regained. Pickens made his historic gift in 2005, declaring "I'm tired of losing," when asked why he donated the huge amount to OSU athletics.

But the gift came with a stipulation, as Pickens insisted that he and appointee Mike Holder, who he later named Athletics Director, be given total authority over how the funds were to be spent, and by whom.

And the move appeared to be a stroke of genius as oil prices soared in a post Katrina economic climate, swelling the initial gift to over $ 300 million. That was before things began to turn in 2007, as international demand for oil failed to meet projections, causing the fund to come to a sudden standstill, and then dropping on mistakes made, and repeated by fund managers, managed by Pickens.

As oil prices started to slide in early 2008 Pickens increasingly found himself on the wrong side of the volatile oil futures game, betting 'short' as prices rose to $ 100, and then long as they began to fall, wiping out much of the two year gain in just four months, and causing AD Holder to announce that OSU's future 'Athletic Village' facility expansion had been put on hold in July.

Now the project looks like it will be shelved, as O-State Regents try to just keep their heads above water while swimming in debt.

The school had borrowed almost all funds used in the celebrated stadium expansion, using the almost $ 300 million balance in BP Capital as collateral.

Some OSU Regents are livid that their pragmatic warnings were not heeded when the fund was flush with cash.

Pickens and Holder apparently both resisted pleas by some OSU Regents to bank a good deal of the balance out of the fund when it exceeded $ 300 million, just 14 months ago. Instead both endorsed a plan of borrowing almost $ 200 million needed to expand and renovate Boone Pickens Stadium on the Stillwater campus.

Ironically, the stadium had been re-named after Pickens following his generous donation in 2005. But now that stadium sits as a drain of over $ 1 million per month in interest payments alone, on an already strapped athletic budget, which annually ranks between 8th and 9th in the Big XII conference.

Today, the problem is how to fund the surprise interest that is expected to top $ 13 million annually, when just months ago the school was going full steam ahead on an aggressive expansion of facilities that it believed were already paid for.

And OSU is not the only one facing this kind of trouble.

Then there's this:

Student loan fugitives

People who can't pay off their student loans are fleeing the country. One of the fugitives described in the article borrowed $165,000 for a master's degree in music. I don't know who's dumber, him for borrowing it, or whoever loaned it to him. A master's degree in music? How on earth is he going to repay that loan with that degree?

The reason the economy is on the brink of the abyss is debt. The economy is cracking, and may break because of it. Nationally and individually, our debt has grown to the point where it's unlikely we will ever pay it off. We will be forced to reconsider the wisdom of taking on debt...even supposedly "good" debt, like student loans or a mortgage.


posted by BubbaFan, 5:46 PM | link | 0 comments |

Thursday, October 23, 2008

More pants

Someone on eBay is selling a bunch of game-worn Yankee uniform pants. Including a couple of pairs worn by Bubba.

I don't know much about men's clothing, but near as I can tell, the label says the pants have a 36" waist and 32" inseam. The "04" is the year, and the 19 is his uniform number.

I thought Bubba wore the high socks throughout 2004, but a 32" inch inseam would be long pants for a guy Bubba's height. The short pants have inseams around 22".

And once again, they're road grays. Did he keep all the pinstriped pants to wear at home or something? ;-)

posted by BubbaFan, 10:35 PM | link | 0 comments |

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

What Andy Phillips is up to

Wondering how Andy Phillips is keeping busy in the off-season? Aside from taking care of his new baby, I mean. (I think I heard it was a girl, but don't quote me on that.) He's doing some charity events for Baseball Country, which seems to be a combination baseball and bible camp. Or maybe that's just how they do baseball camp in Alabama.

"Night of the Champions" at The Zone
When: Thursday Nov 13th, 2008
Time: 6:00 pm
Where: Bryant Denny Stadium (doors open at 5:15)
Silent Auction Begins at 5:15
Live Auction Featuring: Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, & Albert Pujols Signed Jerseys. Plus many other memorable items will be available.
Come and enjoy an evening of Live Entertainment and Food.

Guest Speaker: Andy Phillips
Tickets: $50.00 per person
Tickets available at: Lord of the Harvest Baptist Church, New beginning Church, Mr. Bills Restaurant, Shutter Bug, Valley View Baptist Church, or Bryant Bank (Tuscaloosa and Northport Locations Only)
or You may contact Kenny Burns at 205-454-3641
or email:

There will be other current Major League players also in attendance.

I wonder if Andy helped them get the Jeter and A-Rod autographed jerseys.

Andy also has his own charity golf tournament:

Andy Phillips Charity Golf Tournament
Second Annual Tournament

When: Friday Nov 14th, 2008
Where: North River Yacht Club

Proceeds from both events will benefit Baseball Country.
For more information regarding tickets to "The Night of Champions" or "The Andy Phillips Charity Golf Tournament" please contact:
Kenny Burns at 205-454-3641 or email:

He's also going to be coaching at these events:

Professional Advanced Camp
When: Jan 2-4 (Ages 7-10) & Jan 9-11 (Ages 11-14)
Lee Evans - Pittsburgh Pirates (Catching/Hitting)
Brett Taft - Former Univ. of Alabama, Kansas City Royals (Infield Play/Hitting)
Andy Phillips - Cincinnati Reds

Instructional Emphasis: Hitting for Power, Catcher and Pitcher Mechanics, Championship Defensive Play

Cost: $325

Bible study at night!
Limited to 24 campers!

2008 Father/Son Camp

Camping out in tents on the baseball field

When: Friday, Nov 7 @ 5:00pm(tent setup on baseball fields begins after 2:00pm) thru Saturday, Nov 8 @ 3:00pm

Andy Phillips - Cincinnati Reds
Lee Evans - Pittsburgh Pirates (former)
Brett Taft - Kansas City Royals (former)


Bonfire! Wiffle Ball! Baseball Clinic with Fundamental Practice! Baseball Game!

$75 per person

Father and son will receive t-shirt and all meals.


posted by BubbaFan, 1:17 AM | link | 4 comments |

Monday, October 20, 2008

Rays Win

It was starting to look like the Red Sox would do it again...that they would once again claw their way back from the brink of elimination. After coming back from being down 0-7 with two outs in the 7th in Game 5, then winning Game 6, momentum, if not destiny, seemed to be on their side. Especially after Game 7 started with a first inning home run.

It was a great game, if nerve-wrackingly close, but in the end, the young Tampa Bay Rays prevailed. The Red Sox have a history of rising from the dead, but the Rays finally put a stake through their hearts. (Or, as Brendanukkah put it, gave them a "Steve Irwin Special.")

The Rays, who never even had a winning season before this year, are headed to the World Series.

In other news...Joba Chamberlain was arrested for DUI back home in Nebraska. He had a blood alcohol level of 0.134 (legal limit is 0.08), and spent the night in the drunk tank.

This New York Times article points out that the Yankees have reason to worry. One, if you're actually caught driving drunk, you probably do it a lot. Two, Joba may have a genetic predilection toward substance abuse; his mom Jackie, it turns out, was very much a part of his life, and did help raise him...but is now estranged from her children, because of her past drug addiction.

The article suggests that we've gotten the Disney version of the Joba Chamberlain story, and I'm inclined to agree. What I found kind of creepy was that Joba's father was a family friend of his mom's - "as close as family." He was 13 years older, and helped her learn her catechism. And ended up knocking her up. She was of age when she had Joba, but it still seems kind of icky, in a Celine Dion kind of way. Particularly since Jackie was clearly a very troubled and immature adolescent.

This blog takes Bubba's name in vain while poking fun at Joba's arrest:

Have you ever taken a shower with a guy named Bubba (and I don't mean Bubba Crosby)

At least he's still remembered, more than two years after playing his last game in pinstripes.

posted by BubbaFan, 11:42 PM | link | 0 comments |

Friday, October 17, 2008

Sports and the Financial Crisis

USA Today had an article today about how the souring economy is affecting sports:

Sports also paying a price amid struggling economy

Count Kent Haines out when it comes to buying Boston Red Sox or New England Patriots tickets for the foreseeable future.

Those clubs have the highest average ticket prices in Major League Baseball and the National Football League. And because of the economic crisis, the Haines family of North Kingstown, R.I., is cutting spending.

"In this sky-is-falling economy, attending a pro sporting event is last on my list," says Haines, recalling that in May he dropped $250 for tickets, parking, food and a souvenir for himself and his 10-year-old son, Zach, at Fenway Park. "When you combine the cost of the tickets with the effort it takes to get our fannies in the seats, watching on TV with my wife and kids sounds pretty good right now."

Haines' story is echoed by a rising number of fans across the USA, a reflection of how the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression is stretching and even severing the bond between fans and sports teams.

The article discusses some of the things teams are doing to cut expenses, and also touches on the resentment of fans who feel they've been priced out.

The anger of "real sports fans" was building before the economy turned sour, says Brian Blight, a Detroit Lions fan from Peoria, Ill. He says that for fans increasingly weary of rising ticket prices, $7 beers and $20 parking fees, the downturn has a silver lining.

"Sports has it coming," Blight says. "It's just been greed, greed, greed."

There's also an interesting sidebar with the "Fan Cost Index" of attending games in the NFL, MLB, NHL, and NBA. The MLB "Fan Cost Index" - the average cost for a family of four to attend a game - is $191.92, up 7.9% over last year.

The Wall St. Journal has also been covering the issue of sports and the credit crisis:

As Economy Weakens, Sports Feel a Chill

Among the likely casualties: the Florida Marlins' new stadium.

Some stadiums themselves are in jeopardy, opposed by taxpayers and public officials who don't think investments in sports facilities are justified in the current climate. In Florida, construction of a new ballpark for Major League Baseball's Marlins that was supposed to start this fall probably will have to wait for better economic times.

Katy Sorensen, one of the commissioners of Florida's Miami-Dade County, said she expects support for the $515 million Marlins ballpark to dissipate. Florida's real-estate market is one of the hotspots in a foreclosure crisis that helped to bring down several major banks and spark a selling frenzy in global markets.

Financing for the proposed stadium relies partly on bonds financed with hotel and tourism taxes. Ms. Sorensen said in the current economy it isn't clear whether the county would have enough money to cover the debt.

Then there's this article:

Wall St. forces NASCAR to wave yellow flag

Some of the most illustrious names in the sport, including Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Michael Waltrip, have suddenly lost a slew of big-time sponsors as struggling auto makers, flailing financial firms and retrenching oil companies decide they have better things to do with their shrinking capital than spend up to $25-million (U.S.) annually to sponsor a team.

NASCAR races are supposed to have 43 cars. But fields are certain to be smaller next year.

"There's maybe 26 teams that have sponsorship for next year, and five or six that have partial," Mr. Waltrip told Bloomberg News.

It is the latest example of the heavy toll taken by the credit crisis and widening global slowdown on the one area that used to be all but immune to hard times: spectator sports.

After reading articles like that, I started wondering how baseball survived the Great Depression...and found this page.

Baseball suffered, as many could not afford to pay even the $0.50 admission into the games. For the few that could manage a ticket the admission was all they could pay for and if they did have a nickel for a ballpark hot dog it would be their only meal of the day. The owners of baseball clubs watched as ticket sales dropped tremendously.

In an effort to gather crowds Major League baseball offered a variety of unheard of promotions hoping to get the attention of the public. Teams started playing night games, holding beauty contests, giving away groceries, and having mortgage nights. These stunts brought in a few thousand to watch the games and kept a few franchises open.

Not sure what a mortgage night was. A night where the giveaway was paying off someone's mortgage?

The article also says that the Hall of Fame and the All-Star game were invented during the Depression, as ways to keep fan interest. And that many men and boys journeyed to Florida in hopes of getting a job playing baseball, as it was one of the few sources of steady employment in those days.

As for me, I will probably go to just as many games as usual. Spring training and minor league games aren't that expensive. Especially if you're cheap, like me, and don't buy any beer or food at the stadium.

And just this post is not all doom and favorite credit crunch jokes:

This is worse than a divorce. I lost half my assets but I still have my wife.

I went to an ATM today, and it asked to borrow a twenty till next week.

The credit crunch has helped me get back on my feet. The car's been repossessed.

I went to Best Buy to get a toaster and they gave me a free bank with purchase.

Q: What's the capital of Iceland?
A: About 70 cents.

Q: What the difference between today's investment bankers and pigeons?
A: Pigeons can still make a deposit on a BMW.


posted by BubbaFan, 11:17 PM | link | 0 comments |

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Harvest Moon

Last week's fall foliage report said leaves were just beginning to change. Suddenly this week, we're at or near peak.

It looks like the Red Sox will be eliminated the Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays, perennial cellar-dwellers, have somehow because the Beast of the (AL) East. This will be the first pennant they've ever won.

It's kind of annoying that they're doing it with the help of players the Yankees threw away (like Dioner Navarro and Carlos Pena). But I also can't help rooting for them. Who'd have thunk the lowly Rays would climb over the Yankees and Sox and reach the World Series?

It's 7-0 in the 7th now. People are starting to leave Fenway. The Sox are going down with nary a whimper.

The champagne is on ice in the Rays' locker room, and it looks like they'll be using it.

UPDATE: Unbelievable. Shortly after I posted the above, the Sox rose from the dead and won the game in the bottom of the ninth. Bet the fans who left early are kicking themselves.

Well, at least the Rays will have a chance to win their first pennant at home, in front of their long-suffering fans.

If they don't, the Red Sox will once again escape what seemed certain elimination. Grrrr.

posted by BubbaFan, 9:39 PM | link | 0 comments |

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Why I'm voting for "None of the Above" this year

If things aren't going well, carve a bigger stone head.

For once, I'm glad I live in a safe "blue" state. My vote doesn't matter. If the Empire State is in play, then the election is a blowout. So I'm free to vote for whoever I want, or not vote at all, and for the first time since I turned 18, I am going to do it. I find I cannot vote for either the Democratic or Republican presidential candidate. The reason? The bailout for billionaires.

As Karl Denninger put it:

America Has Died - To Thunderous Applause

The bill passed after Henry Paulson and Ben Bernanke threatened Congress with the imposition of Martial Law. Yeah. Tanks in the streets stuff. Literally.

This was disclosed in the well of the house by a few brave representatives, including Representative Sherman.

Were you told this was how Congress was browbeaten into passing this law? Were you told that Congress was essentially threatened that tanks would be deployed into our cities and towns if Congress did not pass this bad law that Paulson and Bernanke demanded?

Well, yes you were. Representative Sherman disclosed this fact in an impassioned speech in the Well of the House.

Did CNBC or CNN report that? No, but CSPAN did carry it.

If you watched.

Glenn Beck, whom I used to think was a complete loony, is the only remotely mainstream journalist I've heard try to follow this up. He tried to get an interview, but Rep. Sherman's office said they would not speak to reporters about this issue.

Perhaps Mr. Sherman was exaggerating, or misunderstood. Regardless...the bailout was a shockingly bad idea:

See, buried in that bill was a nasty little catch-all "any other asset the Treasury says promotes financial stability."

One little sentence, with which you surrendered forever the principles of economic capitalism and replaced them with government totalitarianism.


And a week later half of that money was instead spent on a massive bailout of Wall Street through the injection of perpetual preferred stock, saving every single nickel of executive stock and options. No dilution of existing shareholders, nor any haircut for their bondholders, thereby preventing the capital structure of the firms from absorbing the losses as is intended and required under the law.

In other words, you, The Taxpayer, have been intentionally looted by the puppet-masters at Treasury (Hank Paulson) and The Fed (Bernanke, Geithner, to the tune of $250 billion dollars, while these folks in the so-called "private sector" keep each and every nickel of the money they stole from you while peddling their fraudulently-sold and packaged subprime and Option ARM mortgages.

This is why I cannot vote for either McCain or Obama. Both of them voted for this appalling ripoff of the American taxpayer. Both Mr. Maverick and Mr. Change turned out to be Mr. More of the Same. Both in the pockets of big business.

I should not be surprised, I suppose, but I am disappointed. Especially in Obama. He didn't just go along with it; he was reportedly instrumental in forcing it through. So much for Democrats being on the side of the little guy.

This article describes how TPTB were warned about the dangers of derivatives, and instead of taking heed, tried to silence the messenger:

More than a decade ago, a woman you're likely never to have heard of, Brooksley Born, head of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission - a federal agency that regulates options and futures trading - was the oracle whose warnings about the dangerous boom in derivatives trading just might have averted the calamitous bust now engulfing the US and global markets. Instead she was met with scorn, condescension and outright anger by former Federal Reserve Chair Alan Greenspan, former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin and his deputy Lawrence Summers.

Rubin is on Obama's economic team.

I know many people, including many of my friends, think that Obama has the wisdom and character to be the leader we need in these tough times. His support of this ill-conceived bailout proves otherwise. Either he didn't understand what this bill meant, or did, and he went along with it, because it was expedient. Just another politician.

At this point, I honestly don't care which one of them wins, because I don't think it matters. As they say at one of my favorite non-sports blogs, The Oil Drum, "When things aren't going well, carve a bigger stone head." It refers to the Easter Islanders, who could see the end coming, but in the end, couldn't do anything except try harder at what they were already doing. Kind of like those high-paid Yankee sluggers who, when swinging for the fences isn't working, can't do anything except swing harder. For all his talk of change, Obama, like McCain, just wants to carve a bigger stone head.

And whichever of them wins may regret it. I suspect Ted Koppel is right: "The winners in this election are going to end up envying the losers."

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posted by BubbaFan, 5:40 PM | link | 0 comments |

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Stuck on the backroads

I'm stuck on the backroads of the information superhighway. For some reason, my DSL connection is running slower than dialup. I called up Verizon to complain. I think their call center is in India. I could hardly understand the technician. After the usual interminable questions, being told to turn my modem off and restart it, and hanging around on hold while he conducted "line tests," he announced that my line wasn't working very well. Doh!

He also said the earliest they could send a technician was Tuesday. Mutter, grumble. I know it's a holiday weekend, but if my phone was out, I bet they wouldn't make me wait four days.

So I'm browsing with all images blocked, to speed things up. And no way can I upload any images until they get this fixed. Sigh.

Some random links...

Here's an article about how the credit crisis is affecting sports.

I was amused at Nomaas's farewell to Yankee Stadium. They included a comment about putting as much effort into the graphic as the Yankees did into this season.

Then there's link, called Funeral For a Friend. The sadly departed friend is the Yankees dynasty. What's interesting is that every player that wore pinstripes in the dynasty years is listed. (Yup, including Bubba.)

posted by BubbaFan, 11:58 PM | link | 0 comments |

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Cardboard Crosby: Yankees Team Photo 2005

Believe it or not, I haven't forgotten the topic of this blog, though I've been a bit distracted the past month or so. Here's another scan from my collection of Bubba Crosby baseball cards (which is probably worth more than my Roth IRA at this point, but I digress).

This Topps "Heritage" card is called the "2005 Yankees Team Photo," but, as is common with baseball cards, it was actually taken the year before. You can tell because some players, such as Esteban Loaiza, only played with the Yanks in 2004.

This was Bubba's first year with the Yankees. He's in the front row, second from the right, between Mattingly and Posada.

Andy Phillips is not in the photo. He only played 5 games with the big club in 2004 (compared to 55 games for Bubba).

posted by BubbaFan, 10:52 PM | link | 0 comments |

Wednesday, October 08, 2008


Financial maven Karl Denninger paints a bleak picture of the future:

I must caution everyone - if you are not prepared for six months to two years of unemployment, you need to be. If you are dependent on credit to survive (that is, if you couldn't make it without your credit cards) you need to fix that now.

Like today now.

Several times I have said "raise cash, get out of debt, be prepared."

I must reiterate this advice and emphasize it, as we may see a bond market dislocation and concurrent stock market crash at any time, without warning. It could be as early as today, in fact.

No, what happened the last three days isn't a crash, although it has now hit my full "bear market" target - 1070 - and in fact exceeded it.

Unfortunately what happened the last three days forces me to reset that target to the 2003 lows, and perhaps as low as four hundred on the S&P 500, 4000 on the DOW.

Needless to say if that happens it will be on the back of an economic catastrophe of a scale similar to the 1930s.

...Oil will collapse in price to $20/bbl. Unfortunately nobody will have any money to buy gasoline, or a car, so it won't matter. As in The Depression millions of automobiles will be scrapped after being abandoned by their owners for lack of insurance and registration fee money. Cheap scooters will become the dominant form of transportation for those with jobs, as they will be all most people can afford.

As credit collapses distribution of food and other essentials will break down. Unable to access credit, trucking companies will be unable to get goods to market. The current distribution system for food requires travel of over 500 miles from production to consumption; this is untenable in a market where stable credit is unavailable. Food distribution will be severely impacted and in some areas may break down below critical levels.

Unemployment will reach 25% within two years. Median income will fall by 30% nationally. Foreclosures will reach 20 million homes. The government will step in with HOLC-style remediation but it won't matter - the unemployed won't be able to pay irrespective of the price.

House prices will fall to well under $100,000 nationally on a median basis but with lending all but non-existent you'll need 50% down. A few people will make out like bandits near the bottom, being able to buy up homes for $10,000 each in blocks of 10 at a time - for cash. 60% of America will be renters; nearly half of all homeowners will ultimately lose their homes to foreclosure.

Civil unrest will break out in major cities when incomes fall but the cost of food and essential services fail to come down materially, leaving millions of Americans hungry, broke and homeless. Unlike in the 1930s America will not quietly stand in soup lines - instead they will riot, loot and burn. The National Guard will be called up but will find it impossible to exert meaningful control without shutting down all commerce in the affected areas. The decision will be made to cordon off the cities and deny entry to anyone who does not live in that specific neighborhood, essentially shutting down commercial activity. GDP will fall by 30%.

The S&P 500 will fall to 150 and flatline, a 90% loss. CNBC and Bloomberg will cease broadcasting. Volume will fall to 10% of former levels.

I hope he's wrong, but lately, his predictions have turned out to be a bit on the optimistic side.

There's a level of fear and uncertainty out there that even grandmothers and grandfathers say they've never seen before. Sophisticated investors who used to invest in complex hedges have draw their money out and buried it in the backyard. There are rumors that the banking system might be shut down for couple of weeks, and that the government might force people to convert their 401(k)s to government bonds. Seems unbelievable, but then, so did the ban on short-selling. Until it happened.

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posted by BubbaFan, 9:39 PM | link | 1 comments |

Tuesday, October 07, 2008


Fall is my favorite time of year. The seasons don't change in Hawaii, and I'm still not quite used to it here in the northeast. Winter is too cold and snowy, summer is too hot and humid, spring is messy, with too much mud and too much pollen. But autumn in upstate New York is beautiful. Cool and crisp weather, sweet apples ripe for the picking, and of course, the stunningly gorgeous foliage.

But autumn is also a little sad. In pagan tradition, the "Day of the Dead" was the day the year died. The dark, dreary winter looms ahead...and baseball season is coming to an end.

It's weird to have the Yankees not even make the post-season. I'm still watching games, but it's odd, because I don't care who wins. Very different from previous years, where I was chewing my fingernails off during the post-season.

The Reds' season ended with a whimper. Andy Phillips did not play at all the last week. They let him go home to Alabama for the last series against St. Louis, for the birth of his first child. I don't think they even put him on bereavement leave. They just let him go. Andy is arbitration-eligible, but the odds are the Reds will cut him loose. He'll probably be happy to go, since it's clear that he won't be getting a lot of playing time when Dusty Baker is filling out the lineup card.

I confess, I've been a bit distracted from baseball the last week or so. The financial crisis - the credit crunch, the bailout that didn't work, the stock market collapse - is like a car wreck. It's horrifying, but I can't look away.

Berke Breathed, former TU student and Bloom County cartoonist, announced that he's pulling the plug on his current strip, Opus.

“30 years of cartooning to end. I’m destroying the village to save it. Opus would inevitably become a ranting mouthpiece in the coming wicked days, and I respect the other parts of him too much to see that happen. The Michael Moore part of me would kill the part of him that was important to his fans.”

I know the feeling. I think we're headed for some bad days matter who wins the election. Very bad days. Possibly worse than the Great Depression bad.

No, I'm not expecting the Rapture or anything. But I think we are witnessing the end of an era. I think we'll look back on the 20th century as a golden age of wealth and ease; the future will be considerably poorer and more difficult for most of us.

Perhaps even for baseball stars like Derek Jeter. Where do you put your money, if you are as rich as he is? There is no safe haven. Stocks, bonds, gold, commodities, real estate - all tanking. The FDIC only insures bank accounts to $250,000 - pocket change to the Derek Jeters of the world. Foreign banks are suffering even worse than American banks.

I don't have that kind of problem, alas. But I am seriously considering cashing out my retirement accounts, paying the penalty, and putting it all in the Bank of Serta.


posted by BubbaFan, 5:17 PM | link | 2 comments |