Monday, April 2, 2012

Read Stuff, You Should

Happy Birthday to Reggie Smith, 67. Smith is a severely underrated player; he was, I think, clearly a HOF-type player. Well, not actually a HOF-type: he didn't do the kinds of things that HOF players do. But he was better than a lot of guys who are in. There's a class of players that he belongs to: Smith, Fred Lynn, Bobby Bonds, Cesar Cedeno, Ellis Burks, Bobby Murcer. Chili Davis, even. They came up young as all-star CFs but shifted away early enough that they're not always thought of as CFs -- especially if they wound up with a good run as a slugging corner outfielder. But they don't wind up with the HR numbers to really make them thought of as great sluggers. And their career paths leave them with a reputation for being disappointments. Most of them are hurt by having wide-ranging talents rather than specializing in one thing; a lot of them tended to do things that have traditionally been overlooked. Any way, Reggie Smith was a much better ballplayer than, Kirby Puckett and Jim Rice, was almost certainly better than Andre Dawson, and may well have been better than Tony Gwynn. And, of course, he helped the Giants almost steal a division title they had no business winning.

On to the good stuff.

1. Lots and lots about privatizing infrastructure, by Brad Plumer.

2. Good piece on ACA from Harold Pollack, responding to Ross Douthat.

3. Kevin Clarke and David Primo, on how to go about doing social science.

4. Conor Friedersdorf argues that antiwar activists should put their energies into electing Senators, not presidents. I'm not sure I agree with him overall about several of his points, but I certainly agree with him that electing Senators is important.

5. And Alyssa Rosenberg is absolutely correct about YA literature.


  1. Whatever misgivings I might have had about YA literature (and they were few-to-none) were dispelled when Dr. Frank of the Mr. T Experience published King Dork. Its sideways commentary on Catcher in the Rye, which I've always found to be overrated, added to the pleasure King Dork gave me. I think it's a better book than Salinger's, which isn't corralled into the YA genre. And Portman's follow-up, Andromeda Klein, showed he wasn't a one-hit wonder.

  2. Another guy I wouldn't quite put in that group but who shares some similarities with them is Mike Cameron. He didn't come into the league with quite as much hype, nor was he forced out of CF, but he's had the same trajectory of quietly putting up 4-5 WAR seasons with a combination of good defense, solid power and OBP/base-running skills. He hasnt received nearly the acclaim of similar WAR players during this same era *cough* - Bernie Williams - nor will he likely receive much hall consideration once he's eligible. (I don't consider Cameron a Hall of Famer, but I think he merits being in the conversation).


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