Pineda

Truly unfortunate break for both the young righty and the Great Pinstriped Satan. Although I hate the Yankees and wish them nothing but ill, this is still never something that’s good to see. What’s been weird for me is that some of the commentary is making it sound like Pineda’s career is over, which it clearly isn’t. I get that it’s an important year for his development and all that, but unless his arm falls off, he’ll still have a lot of time to grow when he get’s healthy.

As to how this makes the trade look, well… when it first happened, I was thrilled to see Montero dealt away, because in his limited time in the bigs last year, he looked like the real deal to me. Obviously, behind the plate, he’s still got a ways to go, and the Mariners might just DH him for a while or forever if he produces enough. Still, though, at the time, and even today, it seems to me like a good deal, or at least an understandable deal, and one that would benefit both teams. The Yankees just got a crap break.

And I am ever astounded that Brian Cashman still has hair, although I guess not having George around has made his life a bit easier. Always figured he’d be bald by 2005 at the latest.

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How to succeed in journalism

Came across this the other day, via Driftglass. The entire piece is worth reading just to remember how egregiously, arrogantly, dismissively, entirely wrong these people were, especially the NYT’s Most Reasonable Conservative™. But of all the howlers in the piece, this graf still takes it:

My third guess is that the Bush haters will grow more vociferous as their numbers shrink. Even progress in Iraq will not dampen their anger, because as many people have noted, hatred of Bush and his corporate cronies is all that is left of their leftism. And this hatred is tribal, not ideological. And so they will still have their rallies, their alternative weeklies, and their Gore Vidal polemics. They will still have a huge influence over the Democratic party, perhaps even determining its next presidential nominee. But they will seem increasingly unattractive to most moderate and even many normally Democratic voters who never really adopted outrage as their dominant public emotion.

In other words, there will be no magic “Aha!” moment that brings the dream palaces down. Even if Saddam’s remains are found, even if weapons of mass destruction are displayed, even if Iraq starts to move along a winding, muddled path toward normalcy, no day will come when the enemies of this endeavor turn around and say, “We were wrong. Bush was right.” They will just extend their forebodings into a more distant future. Nevertheless, the frame of the debate will shift. The war’s opponents will lose self-confidence and vitality. And they will backtrack. They will claim that they always accepted certain realities, which, in fact, they rejected only months ago.

It just defies words.

Oh hello, it’s you again

Guest post today on Spin Sucks from Molli Megasko. Molli writes about how people have stereotypes about Millenials and often times those stereotypes are wrong and stupid. Makes sense to me. I am a Millenial and I’ve seen this dynamic at work in various places, if never actually at a work site.

Here’s where we run into trouble:

I’ve been pretty pissed off about this recently and finally felt empowered when I saw this quote posted on the Newera Social Marketing Facebook page:

I’m part of that generation known as Millennials, and even if we don’t know whether social security will be around when we retire, or if we’ll be able to retire, or if we’ll even have jobs to consider retiring [from], we know this: We are hustlers.

– Taken from a Good Culture post titled What Generation Overshare Can Learn from Biggie.

No. No. No no no no. From the Trustees Report summary:

After 2020, Treasury will redeem trust fund assets in amounts that exceed interest earnings until exhaustion of trust fund reserves in 2033, three years earlier than projected last year. Thereafter, tax income would be sufficient to pay only about three-quarters of scheduled benefits through 2086.

Or put another way: Social Security, if we do nothing, will still be able to pay out three-quarters of its benefits by the time Ms. Megasko is 102. And no, I did not miss the irony of this comment being approvingly quoted on a blog called ‘Spin Sucks.’

Money Ain’t a Thang

Agreed with this post from Krugman yesterday:

What should that story be? Obama defenders do in fact have a clear story, which goes like this: he was confronted both with a very bad economy and with complete political obstruction — which mattered, by the way, even when Democrats controlled both houses of Congress, because of the filibuster. So he did what he could, via stimulus and other policies, and pulled the economy back from the brink. If he hasn’t done more, well, maybe he could have gotten a somewhat bigger stimulus, maybe he could have done more on housing relief, but on the whole he did pretty well given the political environment.

Let’s not get into the question of whether he could, in fact, have done considerably more. The point for now is that this is not the story the administration has been telling, at any point. First they insisted that the clearly inadequate stimulus was just right; then they have tried various anodyne slogans nobody remembers, all of which seem to imply that we’re doing just fine.

Presumably this reflects the judgment of the political team, which apparently believes that pointing out obstruction conveys an impression of weakness, and that happy talk is better than a Trumanesque campaign of hammering the do-nothing Republicans in Congress. But I have seen nothing these past three years suggesting that the political team has any idea how to play this game — and the happy talk leaves them completely flatfooted every time the economy underperforms.

For the past few months there has been an evident drift into complacency, a belief that a string of good jobs numbers will validate the happy talk. That’s a bet that can easily lose Obama the election.

Jon Chait has a response to it (via), which I found reasonable and unpersuasive. Not saying that Obama has to go all Truman on ’em, but I think he will suffer from not framing the debate in a more effective way.

‘Cuz as I see it, he’s gotta maintain that things are definitely still totally getting better and doing so right quick (uh….) or admit that they originally misunderestimated the depth of the crisis (they did), so the stimulus was less than they needed. I can understand why the administration is reluctant to cop this miscalculation (flip-flopping! Kenyan incompetence!) but unless they do so, they’re left looking as if the stimulus was everything they wanted.

And they argued at the time that the stimulus was pretty much the wee bear’s bowl of porridge, so Obama can’t very well start claiming that he wanted a bigger stimulus now. Which is basically Krugman’s point. Chait’s a good rejoinder to the firebagger-types and emoprogs who get frustrated too easily with the Preznit. But I think he’s wrong on this one.

Ain’t Talkin’

This post has been turning around in my head for a while now and only really came about a few nights ago, after I had read the Carone piece and spent two hours trying to fall asleep.

Several weeks back, David Meerman Scott wrote a blog post about President Obama ‘newsjacking’ the results of Super Tuesday:

President Obama and his advisors’ choice to answer journalists’ questions on Super Tuesday, when voters in ten U.S. states vote in the Republican Presidential Primaries (arguably the most important date of the entire primary season) is a classic example of political newsjacking.

Watch the news conference on WhiteHouse.gov.

So in today’s online news stories, this evening’s television and radio broadcasts, and tomorrow’s newspapers, the Republican Super Tuesday winner(s) need to share the top story with the President.

The president has engaged in newsjacking before. For example: President Obama Newsjacks Iowa Caucus by joining Instagram.

What struck me about this was the focus of the post. Like many people in the PR/marketing biz, Scott’s post zones in on a similarity between politics and PR: the president can ‘newsjack’ (the titular subject of Scott’s latest book) and so can you! The post is about the overlap between public relations and politics, two disciplines that do share much in common.

This sort of analysis (applying PR principles to politicking) is endemic in the PR/marketing online conversation (another example of Scott citing similarities here). There’s nothing wrong with it. But to me, and this is why I reacted with such interest, it’s boring. We all know that politicians have different publics, have to cater their messaging to various constituencies, should embrace transparency to the degree they can, will use the same tactics used by marketers, yadda yadda.  It’s not the similarities that are interesting. It’s the differences.

I’ve harped on this before, but what makes politics such a fascinating departure from ‘typical’ PR is that people don’t receive and process information the same way. In fact, it’s not even close. Take, for example, a consumer PR crisis. Remember when Mattel had to recall a bunch of toys because they contained or might’ve contained lead paint, which is very much not good for the babies? People were understandably pissed, Mattel’s reputation took a hit and late-night comedians had half their jokes written for the next two weeks.

But that reaction was a universal reaction. Pretty much everyone looked up from their porn morning paper and went, “Wow. That’s no good.” And that was that. Consumer product safety is not something that’s bisected or fragmented by religion or tribalism or whatever.

Contrast our consumer PR example with the storied (and still ongoing!) saga about our current president’s place of birth. Now here, we have a situation in which there is, let’s be charitable, substantial evidence that Barack Obama was indeed born in Hawaii. And yet.. in 2011, a majority of Republican voters claimed that they either did not know or did not believe whether/that the Preznit was born in these here United States. And no, I am not willing to grant these folks a possible David Hume-like philosophical ignorance about the nature of certainty and whether any of us really know anything and that it’s possible that the illusory nature of the sen.. No.

Or what, we might ask, of a certain political party whose economic agenda, for the past 30 years or so, has been premised on the idea of tax cuts increasing revenue when that idea is demonstrably false? That economic ‘theory‘ remains an article of faith to this day.

On more than a few levels, I can understand why PR folks, especially established ones, are disinclined to ponder this sort of stuff in public. The subject matter basically demands a PoFlaWa. I’m sure many of the people whom I read have clients whose opinions differ from mine. Hell, there are probably more than few marketing types out there who are just seething at how the Socialist-in-Chief is destroying Murka. People tend to tread lightly around politics and I understand why. It’s not easy to argue.

To (almost) close, I’ll just say this: I find this sort of stuff, from both a persuasion and political science perspective, so damn interesting. Marketing, in my own estimation and that of people who are much more successful and respected than I am, is changing. From an interview with Douglas Rushkoff (via):

What will marketing organizations look like in the future?

It will be companies that figure out how to communicate the non-fiction story of a company, so it’s going to look a lot more like a communications company than a creative branding agency. It’s going to look a little bit more like PR, in some sense. It’s going to be people who go and figure out what does your company do and how do we let the world know about that? There’s going to be a lot of psychology involved, except instead of it being psychologists turned against the consumer, it’s going to be psychologists going in and trying to convince companies that what they’re doing is worthy. It’s breaking down this false need in companies to hide from the public what they’re doing–except for the ones that do (need to hide).

Couldn’t agree more. With more forced transparency, faster relay of information and a greater capacity for people to make their voices heard, bullshitting people is increasingly harder for companies. And yet… in our political discourse, bullshit not only still persists, it dominates. I find this fascinating. But no one, at least no one that I’ve come across in my time reading marketing and PR blogs, says a peep about this. I’m not expecting them to line up alongside me on Team Lefty, although from reading much of the content, it’s difficult to feel that many PR folks don’t lean that way (and some, to their credit, claim the mantle). I am somewhat surprised, though, that this isn’t frequent fodder for thoughts on how politics perverts straightforward persuasion.

Because you have one of our two main political parties, and even more so their most dedicated followers, believing things that are at odds with a wealth of evidence (start here, here and here).

Why do they believe this? Or why do they claim to believe this? Well… that’s a very interesting question, innit? It’s something that I wrote about by hand when I traveled*. I hope to have the time in the next few weeks to transcribe my thoughts on such things, despite the fact that famous people have publicly preempted me.

*If you ever go to New Caledonia, make sure you speak French. Or go with someone who speaks French. Or be prepared to sit on the beach and write and read and keep to yourself. Delightful place. Not too many English-speaking folks, though.

Mike Napoli, crusher and destroyer

I have long maintained that Mike Napoli, if he played every game against the Sox, would be the greatest hitter in the history of Major League Baseball. Obviously, last night’s game did little to dissuade me of that projection.

But now I’ve found some numbers to back me up on this:

Beckett settled and retired the next 12 hitters he faced, allowing him to log seven effective innings. But after he departed, Napoli broke the game open in the eighth inning, smashing a bases-loaded, two-run double to left-center against reliever Franklin Morales to put the Rangers ahead, 6-2. In 35 career regular season games against the Red Sox, Napoli has made an impact like few others. He is hitting .302/.383/.715/1.098 against the Sox with 14 homers and 31 RBI. Since 1957, Napoli’s slugging percentage against the Sox is the second highest of any player with at least 100 plate appearances against Boston.

1.098 OPS would put him third all-time, behind only Babe Ruth and Ted Williams but ahead of Lou Gehrig, Barry Bonds and Pujols. So, he’d only be the third-best hitter ever. I stand corrected.

Number aren’t everything

Don’t have much to add to this piece by Christa Carone in AdAge. It perfectly expresses the sort of stuff I’ve written before about how empirical research, which is incredibly useful, isn’t the be-all and end-all of PR/marketing because numbers and data can’t teach you how to write. This graf sums it up:

Indeed, marketers “know” more than ever. We have information about our customers’ needs, preferences, purchase histories and spending patterns, and insight about the messages that prompt them to act. Thanks to social-listening tools, we also know what they are saying about our products, services and our brand. And that’s the tip of the iceberg. I wouldn’t want to give up the data that helps us make fact-based decisions quickly. But I fear that marketers’ access to and obsession with measuring everything takes away from the business of real marketing. It’s impossible to measure squishier, meaningful intangibles, such as human emotion, personal connection and the occasional “ahhhh” moment. Those things often come with a marketer’s intuition, and they deliver big-time.

Yep. Read the entire thing. It isn’t long.