Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Read Stuff, You Should

Happy Birthday to Bruce Kirby, 85. Third-most-common Columbo occasional actor, despite not (unless I missed one) being a Cassavetes guy. Excellent, whether in sitcoms or cop shows.

The good stuff:

1. I rarely link to editorials, but I think the NYT gets points to something important here. One of the real hallmarks of the current group of Republicans is passing policies and then blaming Barack Obama and the Democrats for them; it's unusually irresponsible, but they keep going back to it.

2. Negative recruiting: very difficult to study. Reporters Greg Bluestein and Daniel Malloy look at Democrats in Georgia who are trying to prevent a nasty primary.

3. And I'm glad now that I didn't get into last week's discussion of baseball salaries, since instead I can just send you to Robert Farley, who totally nails the subject. I should say, by the way: getting rid of the reserve clause is a rare thing which should unite those of virtually all political views.


  1. I may have written something somewhere - if I didn't, I meant to - about how "Columbo" was really the last of the great anthology series. Aside from Peter Falk, there was nothing unifying the episodes at all: Columbo had no office, no home, no coworkers, nothing at all that repeated from show to show except himself. Bruce Kirby appeared several times, but IIRC, it was always as different characters. The only common element was Columbo, and I guess the dog.

    So who was the second-most-regular actor on the show? Timothy Carey?

    1. He's the sergeant who works with Columbo 6 times - has a name and everything - and someone else 3 times.

      I might have guessed Timothy Carey also, but he's only in three - twice as one character (the chef at the diner, right?), once as another.

      That's one fewer than Val Avery, whose another Cassavetes actor (but, unlike Carey, wasn't in a "Beach" movie, more's the pity).

      The number one guy, in an amazing 13 episodes, all in the classic years, was a guy named Mike Lally -- apparently a professional extra. Who played such exciting characters as Old Man in Alley, Man in Bank Vault, Bartender, and 2nd Bartender.

      What a great career -- he was an extra in Ocean's Eleven, Peyton Place, Sweet Smell of Success, The Man With the Golden Arm, Singin' in the Rain, Strangers on a Train, It's a Wonderful Life, The Palm Beach Story, and Citizen Kane. Among many, many others.

      Also: Al Smith, the politician, was his godfather. And he worked with Reagan to organize the Actor's Guild.

      If he doesn't count, then it's John Finnegan, 12 episodes, half in the revived later years, three of them then as the same character.

      There's also a "crime scene cop" who is in eight episodes, all in 1990-1991.

      But the most regular character is Kirby's Seargent Kramer, six episodes.

    2. Bob Dishy and Dennis Dugan also played characters (police officers working under Columbo) who appeared in multiple episodes--well, only twice in each case, but it is known that Universal seriously considered making them regulars.

  2. And the father of the great Tommy Pischedda!

    "You know, it's just that people like this, they get all they want so they don't really understand, about a life like Frank's, I mean, you know when you've loved and lost the way Frank has, then you know what life's about."


  3. The baseball salary question is a little misleading, since a lot of the offense has to do with, well, baseball, a sport where much revenue disparity arises from local conditions. From local tv contract opportunities to the amount of interest in the MSA, the Yankees and Rays will never be competing on equal footing.

    Its the disparity in revenue opportunity that leads to offense about player contracts. For example, the NHL (a sport with a similar inherent revenue imbalance as baseball) recently went through another grueling lockout where the players were forced down to 50% of revenues, from 57% in the last agreement. Ten years ago, the players were at 76%, but most of the commentary in the latest lockout was about the players' greed, and very little about how they'd gotten the shaft over the last decade.

    The sport that generates the least outrage, the one that rewards the players the worst (no guaranteed contract and short shelf life) is the NFL. Perhaps because the salaries aren't so large, fans aren't usually upset at NFL players. Interestingly, the NFL is also unique in that there is no local tv money, and as long as you sell out your stadium, which most teams can do, all operate on equal footing (ex-Jerry Jones, maybe).

    In conclusion, then: who's pissed that guys like Buster Posey sign ginormous deals at age 26?

    (Small-town) Padre fans.

  4. Also -

    According to wikipedia, here are the MSA sizes of the last five cities to win a World Series: 1, 6, 7, 12, 21.

    And the last five to win a Super Bowl: 1, 22, 23, 42, 130.

    That top-ranked MSA Super Bowl champion was the NY Giants, by all accounts a plucky band of underdogs. The 130th ranked MSA is of course Green Bay, the best team in the sport over the past five years.

    Surely a Twins fan, looking at Mauer's contract, or a Reds fan, looking at Votto's contract, sees those as a potential albatross for their team, since even though those guys have started to hit again, guaranteeing that much money to one player greatly reduces the margin of error for those teams, which is one big reason why small market teams tend not to make the champions list in baseball.

    So, when Jonathan says "getting rid of the reserve clause is a rare thing which should unite those of virtually all political views"....

    ...political views, maybe. Market population sizes, well, that's probably another story.

    1. 1. The Giants may have been underdogs, but that's 4 Super Bowl wins in under thirty years. But, yes, football has distributed winners pretty well (it helps that they only have three teams in the 3 biggest cities; baseball has six).

      2. The Twins and Reds have done just fine during free agency, at least once the Reds stopped pouting and started trying to win.

      It's true that the 11 years ending in 1975 was a fairly bad one for the biggest markets, although even then New York and LA each won 1 WS and NY and LA were in, but lost, another 5. That's 7 of the 22 WS teams over those 11 years.

      But before that, NY or LA were in the WS every single year from 1949 through 1966, winning 14 of the, and having both WS teams 7 of those years. And from 1920 through 1966, there are only 11 years that there's no NY or LA team in the WS. If you add Chicago, there are only 11 years from 1905 through 1966 that there's no NY/LA/Chicago team in the WS. Or: for over 60 years, the biggest three cities averaged a little better than one WS team per year. Even though one of those cities didn't have a team at all until 1959.

      Beginning in 1976, I count 21 years with no NY/LA/Chicago team in the WS.

      The folks in Cincinnati and Minnesota should be thrilled that baseball got rid of the reserve clause.


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