Monday Musings, Pro Sports Edition

Moral victories do not exist in pro sports, which are not even a “what have you done for me lately” business but a “what can you do for me now and in the near future” business. Trust that I know of what I write.

Steelers’ fans love to say “six rings” in reference to the franchise’s six Super Bowl titles. The Detroit Lions won three NFL titles in the 1950s; are they still relevant? The Steelers’ rings from the 1970s are nothing but dusty relics on the shelf of history. What happened even five years ago has no bearing on today in pro sports.

Fantasy sports are well-named because they bear little or no resemblance to the real thing. When I was Director of Baseball Operations for a major league team I had to hobnob with wealthy season-ticket holders from time to time. I cannot tell you how many of them said things like, “I could run a major league team. I finished second in my rotisserie league last year.” (Rotisserie baseball was the original fantasy sport.) I would bite my tongue hard and then ask one or two questions about evaluating players or running a team. I am still waiting for my first correct answer.

Former major league catcher Wes Westrum is supposed to have said, “Baseball is like church. Many attend but few understand.” I strongly believe that applies to all professional sports. Jim Mora’s (the elder) scolding of a sportswriter with these words is quite apt, I think: “And I’m promising you right now, you don’t know whether it’s good or bad. You really don’t know, because you don’t know what we’re trying to do, you guys don’t look at the films, you don’t know what happened, you really don’t know. You think you know, but you just don’t know, and you never will.

With the current widespread availability of coaches “film” more people outside of pro football do have an understanding of what actually happened than ever before, but most fans don’t watch the video and most wouldn’t understand it if they did watch. Being a fan, paying or otherwise, gives one the right to criticize but doesn’t mean that you are right to criticize.

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Thanks to 56packardman for sending this link to a story about Carlos Ghosn, who was recently ousted as Chairman of both Nissan and Mitsubishi after his arrest stemming from allegations of financial misconduct. Supposedly Ghosn was planning to oust Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa as part of a larger management shakeup. Nissan’s earnings have fallen sharply although it still produces the largest share of earnings for the Nissan/Renault/Mitsubishi alliance. Nissan has also been embroiled in a final inspection scandal that has led to the recall of more than one million vehicles in Japan.

I have written before that I think one of Nissan’s problems is simply that it makes too many boring vehicles. Its two “performance” cars, the GT-R and the 370 Z, are very old designs.

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I can’t get this car out of my head:

1965 CHEVROLET CORVETTE CUSTOM COUPE - Side Profile - 224932

This car is being sold at no reserve at the Barrett-Jackson auction in Scottsdale, Arizona next month. My wonderful wife, her parents and I plan to attend. (Of course the picture is from barrett-jackson.com.)

It is a restomod and except for being a coupe is very close to what I want. The temptation to purchase it and to avoid the long wait for a build is quite strong. C/2 has already offered his opinion that unless the car is a bargain I should wait to buy a convertible. What do you think? Is anybody out there?

 

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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THE Car?

In less than five weeks we’re off to Arizona for the Barrett-Jackson auction. In less than six weeks this car will be on the block:

1965 CHEVROLET CORVETTE CUSTOM COUPE - Side Profile - 224932

From Barrett-Jackson’s website is a photo of a car that REALLY grabs my attention. (I’m surprised I could capture the photo.) OK, I have been imagining a 1967 convertible (this is a 1965 coupe) with an auxiliary hardtop reinforced with carbon fiber, but as I have written before I live in the real world.

If the description is accurate, and unfortunately they are not always accurate, this car checks almost all of the other boxes and is being sold at no reserve. It has larger wheels than stock to accommodate larger tires, but they’re only 17-inch wheels, which is close to the size I want. (I want my restomod to have 17-inch front wheels and 18-inch rear.) The car has a modern LS3 engine and a six-speed automatic transmission (6L80E?).

The most important asset this car has is that it’s ready right now and not 18 months from now. If it could be acquired at 40%-60% of the cost of a restomod build then it will be quite tempting to bid. I could always spend a little extra money to tweak the car.

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William C. Durant was born on this day in 1861. It was Durant who founded General Motors (or co-founded depending on the source) and who also founded Chevrolet, the company that would one day make the Corvette that occupies my brain (or what’s left of it depending on the source).

It is not my intent to write a mini-biography of Durant here or even a mini-mini biography. Suffice to say that Durant had great imagination, but lacked the ability to manage a large enterprise like GM. He formed the company (as the General Motors Holding Company) in 1908 after having acquired control of Buick in 1904. Durant was ousted from GM in 1910 after overextending the company through his many purchases, such as Cadillac and Oldsmobile. Durant founded Chevrolet in 1911, secretly began purchasing GM stock, regained control of the company in a proxy fight in 1916 and was ousted for the second and last time in 1920.

He formed his own company, Durant Motors, in 1921. As with GM, Durant eventually acquired various makes in an attempt to serve much of the automobile market. Durant Motors could never achieve the success of GM and the Great Depression sunk the company.

In my opinion today’s society suffers from a horrendous case of temporal arrogance; that is, many people seem to think that if something didn’t happen during their lifetime then it can’t be important. William Durant’s life was very important, period.

 

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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Sound and Fury Signifying Nothing

In previous posts I have mentioned a Wall Street Journal review of one of my books that called it the best book [of its kind] ever written. Well, knowing this may enable those so inclined to unearth my identity, here is the actual excerpt from the review as seen on the back of the paperback edition of the book:

 

The Wall Street Journal review of the book did little to increase sales and the book only sold about 5,000 copies, if I recall correctly. Of course, part of the reason is that unless the topic is “Fantasy Football” football fans don’t read.

Here is a photo of the Alumni Award of Excellence bestowed upon me by my alma mater, the University of Delaware. This award and $5 will buy me breakfast at McDonald’s. This award was not enough for my alma mater to allow me to teach 1 or 2 classes a semester because, hey, I don’t have a Ph.D., even though the two classes I did teach there received excellent reviews from my students.

As I keep writing, I believe I have good reason to be a disaffected man. Staying on the topic of the bulls**t that is the modern US university, I taught a class at another local “institution of higher learning.” In their evaluations, the students gave the course an average rating of 4.8 out of 5.0 and gave me a 5.0; I was not asked back to teach the same course the next semester. In fact, I have been removed from the adjunct faculty roster.

I am not making up any of this. People who believe that everyone gets what they deserve are either blind or stupid. In any event, no one can really know what anyone “deserves.”

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OK, enough complaining…here is another picture from this year’s Corvettes at Carlisle, a beautiful 1965 convertible with the auxiliary hardtop in place in what I assume is the original Goldwood Yellow color. I’m actually a little colorblind, so what do I know?

I think I actually like the looks of the C2 convertible with the hardtop in place more than the coupe or the convertible with either the soft top or the top down. When I dream about my resto-mod C2, I think about such a configuration with the hardtop reinforced with carbon fiber both inside and out and then welded to the clips where the hardtop is connected. I also want side exhaust like this car. Once again from the movie Diner, if you don’t have dreams you have nightmares.

The Almost Car

In this post I alluded to a car that my father almost purchased. I am 99% certain that he almost bought one of these:

 

See the source image

 

From cargurus.com a picture of an admittedly non-stock 1965 Chevrolet Corvette convertible. While I am virtually certain that my father wanted to buy a 1965 Corvette, I am not as certain that it would have been a convertible. Ultimately, with five people living under the same roof my father, who usually was not a prudent caretaker of his finances, decided that a Corvette was not practical.

While I don’t dwell on the topic I have to admit that from time to time I think about the car my father almost purchased and whether or not I would have it today. I wonder if on a subconscious level my love of C2 Corvettes is at least partly due to how close we came to owning one.

While I don’t remember the exact model year of his actual purchase it was something like this and the reason I think my father may have wanted to buy a Corvette convertible:

 

See the source image

 

 

From Bring a Trailer a photo of a 1965 Cadillac DeVille convertible. The one my father bought had a blue exterior and, I think, a black interior. I don’t remember much else about the car as I don’t think he owned it very long.

I don’t believe in destiny. Life outcomes are a function of many things: luck, skill, work ethic and decision making among them. We have control over our lives, but not total control. If my father had purchased the 1965 Corvette, my entire car history might be much different. Who knows? My life could be different. I am not being hyperbolic or melodramatic. A different decision can potentially lead to a long series of different events.

After I earned my Masters degree in Economics (the university I attended did not have a Ph.D. Economics program at the time), I applied to and was accepted by three of the top 15 Ph.D. Econ programs in the country. If I had earned a Ph.D. in Economics, it is virtually certain that my life would be different today. My life, like that of most people I suspect, is a mix of good and bad, but would probably have different ratios under that scenario. While the purchase of a car doesn’t seem to be as significant a decision as whether or not to earn a Ph.D., don’t ever underestimate the power of seemingly “trivial” decisions, made either by you or by someone else in your life.

Please feel free to offer your thoughts.