FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day December 13 through 17, 2017

 

Happy Hanukkah

We’re in the midst of Hanukkah, Festival of Lights.  I don’t know why there are so many spellings of Hanukkah, but Hanukkah is the Hebrew spelling.  Then there’s Tiberiankhanuká or another a transliteration also romanized as Chanukah or Ḥanukah).  But whatever the spelling, it is a Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Holy Temple (the Second Temple) in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid Empire. Hanukkah is observed for eight nights and days, starting on the 25th day of Kislev according to the Hebrew calendar, which may occur at any time from late November to late December in the Gregorian calendar. It is also known as the Festival of Lights and the Feast of Dedication.  The festival is observed by lighting the candles of a candelabrum with nine branches, called a Hanukkah menorah (or hanukkiah). One branch is typically placed above or below the others and its candle is used to light the other eight candles. This unique candle is called the shamash (Hebrew: שמש‎, “attendant”). Each night, one additional candle is lit by the shamash until all eight candles are lit together on the final night of the holiday.  Other Hanukkah festivities include playing dreidel and eating oil-based foods such as doughnuts and latkes. Since the 1970s, the worldwide Chabad Hasidic movement has initiated public menorah lightings in open public places in many countries.  The story of Hanukkah is preserved in the books of the First and Second Maccabees, which describe in detail the re-dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem and the lighting of the menorah. These books are not part of the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) but both books are included in the Old Testament used by the Catholic and Orthodox Churches.  When the Second Temple in Jerusalem was looted and services stopped, Judaism was outlawed. In 167 BCE, Antiochus ordered an altar to Zeus erected in the Temple. He banned brit milah (circumcision) and ordered pigs to be sacrificed at the altar of the temple.  Antiochus’s actions provoked a large-scale revoltMattathias (Mattityahu), a Jewish priest, and his five sons JochananSimeonEleazarJonathan, and Judah led a rebellion against Antiochus. It started with Mattathias killing first, a Jew who wanted to comply with Antiochus’s order to sacrifice to Zeus, and then a Greek official who was to enforce the government’s behest (1 Mac. 2, 24–25).  Judah became known as Yehuda HaMakabi (“Judah the Hammer”). By 166 BCE Mattathias had died, and Judah took his place as leader. By 165 BCE the Jewish revolt against the Seleucid monarchy was successful. The Temple was liberated and rededicated. The festival of Hanukkah was instituted to celebrate this event.  Judah ordered the Temple to be cleansed, a new altar to be built in place of the polluted one and new holy vessels to be made. According to the Talmud, unadulterated and undefiled pure olive oil with the seal of the kohen gadol (high priest) was needed for the menorah in the Temple, which was required to burn throughout the night every night. The story goes that one flask was found with only enough oil to burn for one day, yet it burned for eight days, the time needed to prepare a fresh supply of kosher oil for the menorah. An eight-day festival was declared by the Jewish sages to commemorate this miracle.  The version of the story in 1 Maccabees states that an eight-day celebration of songs and sacrifices was proclaimed upon re-dedication of the altar, and makes no specific mention of the miracle of the oil.  Spin a dreidel and enjoy some chocolate gelt and Happy Hanukkah.

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day December 13 through 17, 2017”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day December 9th through 12th, 2017

Democrat Doug Jones Apparent Winner Over Roy Moore In Alabama

In a special election contest that has drawn national and international attention, it would appear Democrat Doug Jones is the winner over Republican Roy Moore in the conservative state of Alabama.  It has been an extraordinary alignment of events, including a sex scandal involving teenagers, for Alabamians to elect their first Democrat to the Senate in 25 years, but they triggered a political earthquake that will be felt far and wide.  With 99 percent of the vote in, Jones was leading 50-48 percent, or 673,236 votes to 652,300 votes — a margin of more than 20,000.  The current margin appears too large for an automatic recount, which is triggered under state law if the candidates are separated by less than half a percentage point, but Moore could call for a recount if he’s willing to pay for one himself.

 

New York Yankee News

A lot is going on in the off season.  Currently the Winter Meetings are underway.  Two days ago, The New York Yankees announced this morning that Giancarlo Stanton has officially waived his no-trade clause and that their blockbuster deal for the reigning NL MVP is complete.  It will be the Judge – Stanton duo next season.  As reported last week, the Yankees received Stanton and cash considerations in exchange for second baseman Starlin Castro, minor league pitcher Jorge Guzman and minor league infielder Jose Devers.  And The New York Yankees have traded third baseman Chase Headley and pitcher Bryan Mitchell to the San Diego Padres for outfielder Jabari Blash. This would seem to be an exercise in salary clearing by the Yankees in anticipation of another move, as it takes about $13 million off of their payroll. Which is about how much was added to their payroll for 2018 in the Giancarlo Stanton deal. That could get Todd Frazier back for them, perhaps. Or it could help them retain CC Sabathia or go after another starting pitcher. The club likewise maintains an interest in getting under the $197 million payroll threshold which would trigger yet another year of 50% luxury tax payments for the Yankees.  CC Sabathia was set to come back to the Yankees as a signed free agent at the end of the season, but he’s been talking with both California Angles and now the Toronto Blue Jays.  I don’t think the Yankees are done trading yet – how about Manny Machado – a possibility I think.  And lastly Aaron Boone, the new Yankee manager has hired Josh Bard as his new bench coach.  I’ve been sitting by my phone, but so far no call to be senior bat boy.  I’m waiting…..

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day December 9th through 12th, 2017”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day November 16th through 19th, 2017

Charles Manson – Dead

Charles Manson, the sinister hippie cult leader who declared himself “the Devil” and dispatched his followers to commit a series of Hollywood murders in 1969 that shocked the country, died Sunday night in a California hospital.  Good.  Manson was sentenced to death in 1971 for directing the brutal murders of Tate and six other people, but he was spared two years later and was sentenced to life behind bars when California did away with the death penalty.

 

 

 

Baseball’s Most Valuable Player Awards

In the American LeagueJose Altuve convincingly won the 2017 MVP Award. He received 27 of 30 first-place votes, racking up 405 total points. Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge finished in second place with 279 points and Indians third baseman Jose Ramirez finished in third place with 237 points.  Altuve played well all year, was great in the World Series and was particularly supportive of his teammates during his post award interviews.  And at 5’6” it shows you don’t have to be a big guy to play baseball at the highest level.  Altuve, 27, led all of baseball with a .346 batting average and led the AL with 204 hits en route to helping the Astros win the AL West with 101 wins, then dispatched of the Red Sox, Yankees, and Dodgers to win the World Series. He also had a .410 on-base percentage, a .547 slugging percentage, 39 doubles, 24 home runs, 32 stolen bases, 81 RBI, and 112 runs scored in 662 plate appearances during the regular season. He is the first Astro to win the MVP Award since Jeff Bagwell in the strike-shortened 1994 season.  Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton was named the 2017 National League Most Valuable Player as voted on by the Baseball Writers Association of America. He narrowly edged out Reds first baseman Joey Votto, as both received the same number of first-place votes,

JUPITER, FL – FEBRUARY 22: Giancarlo Stanton #27 of the Miami Marlins poses during Photo Day on Friday, February 22, 2013 at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Florida. (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

but Stanton received one more second- and third-place vote. Stanton had 302 total points to Votto’s 300.  It was the closest balloting in years.  Stanton, 28, led all of baseball with 59 home runs and 132 RBI, and led the National League with a .631 slugging percentage. He also hit .281 with a .376 on-base percentage, scoring 123 runs in 692 plate appearances. Stanton is the first member of the Marlins to win the MVP Award since the team came into existence in 1993.

 

 

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day November 16th through 19th, 2017”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day November 12th through 15th 2017

Aaron Judge and Cody Bellinger Win Rookie of the Year Awards

Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge and Dodgers first baseman Cody Bellinger won the Rookie of the Year Awards unanimously in their respective leagues, as voted on by the Baseball Writers Association of America.

NEW YORK, NY – AUGUST 30: Aaron Judge #99 of the New York Yankees follows through on a second inning infield single against the Cleveland Indians in the second game of a doubleheader at Yankee Stadium on August 30, 2017 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Judge, 25, hit .284/.422/.627 with 52 home runs, 114 RBI, and 128 runs scored in 678 plate appearances. He led the American League in home runs, runs scored, and walks (127). Judge made the AL All-Star team during the summer and just took home a Silver Slugger Award. He’s a major contender for the AL MVP Award as well.  Judge is the first Yankee to win the Rookie of the Year Award since Derek Jeter in 1996.

 

Robert Mueller Can Now Close Down Russian Investigation

In May 2017,  Robert Mueller was appointed by the Justice Department as special counsel to oversee the FBI investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, one of several investigations looking into the matter.  Mueller can now close down that investigation because after chatting with former KGB agent and now President of Russia Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit President Trump is contradicting the overwhelming consensus among current and former U.S. officials that the Russian leader tried to manipulate the 2016 election.  In a 26-minute question-and-answer session with reporters aboard Air Force One, the president managed to dismiss probes into whether his campaign colluded with Russia as an “artificial Democratic hit job,” said he believed Putin was being sincere when he insisted that Russia did not attempt to interfere in the 2016 election, and warned that the continued focus on Russian election meddling risks lives.  I was worried there for a while that perhaps Russia didn’t respect us or value our way of life.  So now I guess we can close down Mueller’s Russian investigation and get on with the real work of the Administration, that of giving a tax break to corporations as well as the wealthiest tax payers.  And let’s create more ciaos in the health care system that will result in people paying more for health care no matter who they are.

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day November 12th through 15th 2017”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day October 31st through November 2nd, 2017

A Great Game 7, A Great World Series

Astros pitcher Charlie Morton got Corey Seager to send a weak ground ball to second baseman Jose Altuve, shifted into shallow right field, who made the throw to first baseman Yuli Gurriel to clinch the World Series 5 – 1.

LOS ANGELES, CA – NOVEMBER 01: George Springer #4 of the Houston Astros celebrates with teammates after hitting a two-run home run during the second inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers in game seven of the 2017 World Series at Dodger Stadium on November 1, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

They scored twice in the first inning and three times in the second against Yu Darvish, sustaining them over the remaining seven innings. No surprise here: Astros outfielder George Springer was named the Most Valuable Player of the 2017 World Series. A game seven for the World Series is always good.  It’s the last winner-take-all event and is the buildup of all the series games prior to that combined with the culmination of the 162 game regular season.

LOS ANGELES, CA – NOVEMBER 01: George Springer #4 of the Houston Astros hits a double during the first inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers in game seven of the 2017 World Series at Dodger Stadium on November 1, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

It was fitting that Altuve made the final out for the Astros, as he was the most valuable player on the team and arguably in all of baseball. He finished the regular season batting .346/.410/.547 with 24 home runs, 81 RBI, 112 runs scored, and 32 stolen bases. He won the batting title and led the AL in hits. Aaron Judge led him in FanGraphs’ version of WAR (8.2 to 7.5). Baseball Reference’s version gave Altuve the edge (8.3 to Judge and Corey Kluber‘s 8.1). We’ll have to wait a couple weeks to find out if he won the AL MVP award.  While my vote would have been for Judge, after seeing Jose Altuve in action over the course of the World Series, I can see why the two players are in such a close battle for the MVP vote. So the AL MVP will either be 5’6” or 6’7”.  Yasiel Puig had a bad night. His Dodgers lost Game 7 of the World Series AND some yahoos broke into his house.  This is a least the second time thieves have broken into his house.  You think he could afford a security plan!  If he is the target of a future break-in at least they won’t be stealing his World Series Ring.  Catchers and pitchers report for Spring training on February 13, 2018.

Go Navy Beat Temple!  

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day October 31st through November 2nd, 2017”