Saturday Salary Arbitration

I don’t know if salary arbitration still works this way in baseball, but in my 20+ years in the game a player with three or more years of service (and certain players with more than two years but fewer than three) had the right to have his salary determined by an arbitrator. As you can imagine this right boosted the average salary of players in this service class relative to those who were not eligible for arbitration.

Contrary to what fans think, the agent doesn’t compare his client to Babe Ruth and the team doesn’t compare the player to a Triple-A reject. However, comparable players are at the heart of the process. The player’s agent will say that his client is comparable to players A, B and C. The team may acknowledge comparability to player C, but say the player is actually closer to players C, D and E where D and E have a lower salary than players A and B.

The team and player each submit a number and the arbitrator has to pick one or the other. The midpoint between the two has some importance, but I believe that historically teams have won 54%-56% of cases, which means the player seems to have a de facto burden of proof.

One of the most enjoyable moments I ever had in baseball was after an arbitration hearing in which the team I worked for ultimately lost the decision. Bill James was working for the player’s agent and spent much of the hearing trying to get me to laugh. He failed and later he expressed amazement at my stoicism. I told him I was simply following orders not to show any emotion.

After the hearing I went back to my hotel room where I received a call from Bill at about 8 PM. He asked if I was busy and if not if I wanted to head down to the hotel restaurant for a snack and a chat. Steve Mann, whom I also knew, was also working for the agent and he joined us as well.

The conversation was quite stimulating; well, to me anyway. Among other things we talked about the maturation of complex systems and its implications. The next thing we knew it was 3 AM. Bill and Steve had to prepare for another hearing later that day. As we got up from the table I said that we should write a book about the topics of our discussion. Bill then said, “Yeah, it would sell 12 copies.” To which Steve replied, “And three of those copies are right here.” We all howled with laughter.

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No, I have not completely recovered from my bug. In fact, yesterday I coughed so hard at times that I thought I was going to cough up a lung. The fact that I am in the third week of being ill is another sad example of my aging. As one ages the immune system simply doesn’t work as well.

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The number of 2016 Z06 Corvettes that meet my search criteria on CarGurus is dwindling rapidly, down to six when I checked this morning. (CarMax doesn’t have any this morning.) Here is one new listing:

It actually has 3LZ trim and is certified pre-owned. The wheels are dark, but do have a light metallic ring. The dealer is asking about $63,000 and the car has a little less than 13,000 miles. I hear you out there, “Sh*t or get off the pot already.” As I have written before I have grown indecisive as I get older in no small way due to the less than satisfactory state of my career for the last 8-9 years.

At this point I estimate the probability that I buy a 2016 Z06 Corvette at 90%. The probability that I buy something else out of left field is about 5% and the probability I buy nothing is about 5%. Ask me again tomorrow and I might give you a different answer.

 

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Tuesday Tidbits

See the source image

Anyone remember these? This picture from Pinterest reminds me of one of my absolute favorite snacks when I was young. I would eat Tastykake Chocolate Kandy Kakes and then have some Tid-Bits as I loved (still do) chocolate followed by salty.

 

Anyway…not really the tidbits I meant in the post title, but what the hell…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This car mentioned in yesterday’s post is out of the running. It turns out the car was manufactured too early in the model year (mid-October of 2015) to have had the 8L90E issues corrected at the factory.

Never fear, right? Another one is on the way, right? Sure enough, about a half hour after I eliminated this car I found another one with fewer miles, a lower price and a higher VIN. Too good to be true, right? Right…after I contacted the dealer I received a call saying that “Car #2” had already been sold. I told the young lady that the listing seemed too good to be true.

I am driving myself crazy (a short drive I grant you) looking at these listings online. However, I have come to the conclusion that it is a virtual certainty that whenever I decide to pull the trigger I will be able to find a good car.

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People born in 1954 have turned or will turn 65 this year, the “retirement age.” Of course, I have been (involuntarily) retired since my early 50s. Have I mentioned my loathing of the American obsession with credentials and age discrimination? <end sarcasm>

What was happening with American automobiles in 1954? For my amazing niece, I can tell her that Packard introduced tubeless tires about a year ahead of the other American makes. Packard also introduced this:

1954 Packard Panther-Daytona Roadster

From supercars.net a picture of the Packard Panther Daytona Roadster concept car. Initially this car was called the Grey Wolf II after a famous Packard race car of the early 20th century.

The Panther was made of fiberglass, which made its lightning transformation from approval to actual car easier. Dick Teague was the designer of record. Packard chief stylist Ed Macauley and engineering VP William Graves were heavily involved as well. The latter two were strong advocates of using modern design in order to improve Packard’s standing and visibility. Of course, 1954 was also the year of the Studebaker-Packard merger (really, a Packard buyout of Studebaker), which shortly would be the final nail in Packard’s coffin.

1954 was also the year that Nash and Hudson merged to form American Motors. Although the Studebaker-Packard tie-up was perceived to be more of a merger of equals, Nash basically bailed out a failing company in Hudson. From the beginning of 1954 until the April merger, Hudson lost more than $6 million on sales of less than $29 million, not exactly a good operating performance. Whether or not rumors of the merger hurt Hudson sales is impossible to know at this distance.

Ford replaced its ancient, but beloved flat-head V-8 in 1954 with a modern overhead-valve engine. The flat-head was introduced for the 1932 model year.

1954 also saw the introduction of this car:

See the source image

From ultimatecarpage.com a picture of the unique Kaiser-Darrin sports car. Obviously, the fiberglass-bodied car was manufactured by Kaiser Motors and was a desperate attempt to gain attention and to stay afloat. Famous designer Howard “Dutch” Darrin designed the car, which was really more about looks than performance as it was “powered” an inline 6-cylinder engine of 161 cubic inches that was rated at just 90 HP.

Darrin was unhappy with the performance and later purchased 50 or 100 unsold cars (the number varies depending on the account) and put Cadillac V-8 engines in the majority of those cars. Those cars could reach 140 MPH although I doubt the car was safe at that speed.

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Although I no longer live in Baltimore or follow the Orioles or baseball, 1954 was the first year of the modern Orioles. From 1902 to 1953 the franchise played in St. Louis and was called the Browns.

I’m sure some local scribe has noted this, but both of Baltimore’s major professional teams came from another city where they were called the Browns.

 

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Monday Musings

I am genuinely touched by the outpouring of well wishes from Disaffected Musings readers, many of whom I’ve never met or spoken to. I am so sick of being sick that I am fearful of reporting any progress in my condition.

 

This was in my Twitter feed:

“There is a pro-Trump cult that would defend him if he shot a random person on 5th Avenue. There is an anti-Trump cult that would attack him if he found the cure for cancer. Most Americans don’t belong to either of these groups, but the political coverage is dominated by them.”

To say that President Trump is a polarizing figure is an excess of understatement. I don’t know how anyone could disagree with the first part of the quoted remark. However, I think if one excludes the millions of Americans who follow neither policy nor politics, I’m not sure I agree with the second half of the statement. Whether it’s due to the media coverage or not, I believe that the majority of Americans who have any interest in current events are either very pro-Trump or very anti-Trump. What do you think?

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OK, what do you think of this?

From CarGurus this is a 2016 Z06 automatic about which I inquired last week. Yes, it’s neither red nor orange, but I really don’t like black wheels on a car and so I have had to expand my color palette. The price of this car is quite reasonable even though it’s a “take it or leave it” price.

In another example of it’s a small world, this dealership is the successor to the place from which I purchased my first Corvette—a 2002 model—in 2004. The person with whom I spoke last week is the same person who sold me that car! Remember that we don’t live in the same state that we lived in then and that was 15 years ago.

My desire to buy a late-model Z06 was only heightened when my wonderful wife and I watched an episode of Everyday Driver on Amazon Prime in which the two hosts, Todd Deeken and Paul Schmucker, drove such a car on the Pacific Coast Highway and on the Laguna Seca racetrack. The sounds the car made AND the sounds the two hosts made only whetted my appetite even more.

The prudent “me” wants to wait until we are finished dealing with our 2018 taxes before buying this car. The impatient “me,” not taking anything for granted, wants to buy something immediately. Those economists reading this recognize this dilemma as a battle between maximizing behavior and satisficing behavior.

More seriously, my experiences of the last 8-9 years have left me questioning my own judgment. Despite my alleged intelligence I have little faith that I will make the right decision in almost any situation. Anyone want to offer an opinion?

 

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Monday Musings

Once again I am “under the weather.” This time I have some nasty upper respiratory bug that is also leaving me achy, but with no fever.

I was going to rant about what I consider to be the excessive “spicification” and “cilantro-ization” of restaurant cuisine in America. Instead I will just note that not everyone likes spicy food and for some cilantro is the vilest taste in the known universe. “Mouth on fire” is not a flavor to me and cilantro doesn’t remotely taste like anything edible.

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I have muted CNBC in my Twitter feed. Their excessive coverage of the views of a certain freshman member of the House of Representatives makes me ill. Last I checked the House has 435 members, not just one.

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This Automobile Magazine piece is titled, “2019 Lexus LC500: Seven Things that Make It Special.” An excerpt reads, “Don’t let the seductive look of this coupe deceive you into thinking it’s all show and no go, however, as strapped under the hood is a V-8 engine with 471 horsepower and the ability to slingshot the LC from zero to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds.”

See the source image

From uscarsnews.com a picture of the Lexus LC500. I have read that these cars are not selling well in the US, which I imagine is Lexus’ intended primary market. If this car is not selling I don’t think a more expensive, turbo-charged model (an “F” model, in Lexus parlance) will sell any better.

This car was part of the Ultimate Garage on my first blog and is better than 50-50 to be a part of Ultimate Garage 2.0. As I have written before, my wonderful wife and I have had the good fortune of test driving this car. It’s amazing!

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I’m not any closer to buying a 2016 Z06 today than I was last week. I think it’s prudent to see what we owe the IRS and our state first before plunking down serious money to buy the car. When it comes time for me to pull the trigger I think I will be able to buy something quickly.

https://i2.wp.com/carrrs.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/2016-Chevrolet-CorvetteZ06-039.jpg

From carrrs.com a picture of a 2016 Z06. My first Corvette, a 2002 model, was Electron Blue Metallic. I don’t like blue as much as I used to (bad rhyme intended) and want one in orange or red, instead (ditto).

Any thoughts?

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Saturday Song

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A 1963 concept from legendary car designer Tom Tjaarda called the Rondine. Supposedly this was derived from the Chevrolet Corvette, but I don’t know for sure if it was derived from the C1 or C2. I suspect the former. That is literally one of the five or six most beautiful car designs I’ve ever seen. Does anyone know anything about this car? (Sorry, but I don’t know the source of this photo.) How much do you think it would cost to have something built from scratch that resembles the Rondine? Maybe the equivalent of the GDP of a small country…

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He who hesitates is lost…my search for a 2016 Z06 automatic led me to find one at a dealer very close to where I live. I wasn’t crazy about the interior color (Kalahari), but the exterior was Long Beach Red, it had chrome wheels—not black, it was 2LZ trim, it had only 11,000+ miles and the dealer wasn’t asking an outrageous sum. Of course when I checked my CarGurus search this morning I discovered that the car has been sold.

https://i0.wp.com/image.motortrend.ca/f/110314016/2016-Chevrolet-Corvette-Z06-Spice-Red-Design-package-rear-three-quarter.jpg

From motortrend.ca (I don’t see a copyright mark on the photo) a picture of a 2016 Corvette Z06 with the Spice Red Design package. Oh well…

 

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Monday Musings

First, another of my semi-regular complaints/rants about lack of readers. Without using the Digital Gangster AKA Facebook I know I will never have thousands of readers a day. I still think Disaffected Musings should have at least 5-10 times the number of views it actually receives. For a brief period last October/November it appeared as if that might be possible. At the higher number, perish the thought, I might actually get paid for my time and effort.

In this vein I am considering cutting back to 3-4 posts a week. I realize that the number of total viewers would decline even more, but I would have more of my finite time for me. On the other hand, I realize that blogging is cheaper than therapy and probably almost as effective.

Facebook is a Digital Gangster! #DeleteFacebook #FackFucebook

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My wonderful wife and I spent much of yesterday watching an Overhaulin’ marathon on Motor Trend. Overhaulin’ was a show (it’s no longer in production) where a team led by the legendary Chip Foose would acquire someone’s car on a ruse and then give the car back after completely modifying it.

Most of the people whose car was the one on which the work was done react quite emotionally upon seeing the finished product. That reaction is the payoff for watching the show and on more than one occasion Chip Foose remarked that’s why they do what they do.

The reason I’m mentioning all of this is that for much of yesterday I kept wondering how emotional I will be when I actually buy the 2016 Corvette Z06 I have decided to buy. I am really getting psyched about acquiring this car.

 

https://i2.wp.com/gmauthority.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/2016-Chevrolet-Corvette-Stingray-in-Daytona-Sunrise-Orange-Metallic.jpg

From gmauthority.com a picture of a 2016 Corvette in Daytona Sunrise Orange. If I can I will buy a car in that color, but as I have written before only 251 Z06 coupes were painted in orange in 2016. Repeat after me: I have dreams, but I live in the real world. I am not going to wait a year to find an orange 2016 Z06. Torch Red and Long Beach Red look good, too.

This is also a nice segue to Ultimate Garage 2.0. I would very much like to read what cars would be in your ultimate garage. Ideally, your list should include 5-10 cars and you have total freedom to choose the criteria for selection.

 

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Monday Musings

As you ponder this picture of our family room table:

 

And as we all ponder this beautiful, but cold picture from this morning:

Please consider this question:

If you have a preference, about what would you rather read, Studebaker/Packard, Corvettes, or something else? In the meantime:

 

From cargurus.com a picture of the type of car I am very likely to buy this year, a 2016 Corvette Z06 with the 8L90E automatic transmission. The caption is incorrect, by the way. The second trim level on the Z06 is 2LZ, not 2LT.

What does this figure represent? $54,234,000…OK, no way you could know. That’s the gross amount GM/Chevrolet earned for the 2016 model year by making the manual transmission standard and charging for the automatic. Of the 40,689 Corvettes sold in 2016, 31,440 (77%) were sold with an automatic transmission. As a $1,725 option that generates the $54,234,000 figure.

The fact that it took GM/Chevrolet so long to charge for the automatic actually doesn’t speak well for the company. For the C5 the automatic was standard and for the entire run 68% of C5 Corvettes were equipped with automatics. According to The Genuine Corvette Black Book, the automatic was not made an option with a price until the second year of the C6, 2006. What the manual transmission zealots don’t realize (or don’t want to acknowledge) is that the automatic has been the majority of Corvettes sold every year since 1972.

OK, why 2016? It will cost less than a 2017 or newer model and if I buy a 2016 car with a high enough VIN it shouldn’t be plagued by the torque converter issues that affected many early 8L90E cars. My wonderful wife’s 2015 Corvette was so affected and the torque converter was replaced in 2017. Yes, that was a warrantied repair, but it’s still a hassle.

I am hoping I can find an orange car, but only 251 2016 Z06 coupes came in Daytona Sunrise Orange. Between Long Beach Red and Torch Red (the car pictured is Torch Red), 2,372 Z06 coupes were built. I have eliminated a convertible because I just don’t think soft-tops are safe although the Z06 ragtop looks awesome, in my opinion, with the top down.

Anyone have any thoughts they’d like to share? I would very much like to read them and so would other Disaffected Musings readers.

 

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Friday Farrago

First a test to see if I can upload media files other than pictures:

 

 

I think this file will only work with Apple devices and I won’t know if it works until the post is published. If you’re viewing this on an Apple device please feel free to try it and then please let me know if it works. (It worked on my Windows PC! Readers have confirmed the file playing on non-Apple devices. I am the person playing the keyboard not very well although I can say this was completely improvised and recorded in December, 2006.)

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I have not followed pro basketball in 35+ years. However, I have just re-ordered Loose Balls by Terry Pluto. The book is an oral history of the American Basketball Association, the league where players like Julius Erving and George Gervin began their pro careers.

I had to re-order it because I loaned my original copy to my best friend, Dr. Zal, and during his recent visit we realized that he has had the book for quite some time. I told him to keep it and I would buy it again. I am reading it again (for about the 10th time, can anyone say OCD?!) and am enjoying it immensely.

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From this CNBC article comes these words:

“I talk to Chinese economists who tell me privately many of the things the U.S. demands is actually better for China; intellectual property protection, not putting state subsidies for state-owned enterprises. The irony is what the U.S. is forcing China to do in the short term will be good for the U.S., in the long term it’s better for China.”

Those are the words of Robert Kuhn, an advisor to the Chinese government and state-owned companies.

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From this article by Hagerty comes this list of the cars with the lowest “Hagerty Vehicle Rating” at present. This rating is not a measure of the quality of the cars, but is an attempt to measure how the values are changing relative to the overall collector car market. The lower the rating, the worse it is. Brace yourself, American classic car fans:

 

Vehicle
1968-1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SL 9
1946-1948 Ford Deluxe 11
1949-1954 Pontiac Chieftain 12
1946-1948 Ford Super Deluxe 13
1946-1948 Chevrolet Stylemaster 14
1971-1976 Cadillac DeVille 15
1964-1967 Sunbeam Tiger 16
1949-1954 Chrysler New Yorker 16
1967-1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SE 17
1949-1954 Chrysler Windsor 17
1949-1953 Oldsmobile 88 17

 

Other cars in the bottom 25 include the C2 Corvette and the 1965-1970 Shelby GT350. Some think that for these two cars the reason the values are falling is simply that they had become unsustainably expensive and are now settling into their true “equilibrium” values.

For those looking to buy some of these “fallen angels” if the Hagerty assessment is accurate then this might be a good time to buy. Of course, in the stock market people are always being warned against trying “to catch a falling knife.”

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What do you think of this car?

 

https://i.ytimg.com/vi/aIUmkWAqC9c/maxresdefault.jpg

 

From doovi.com a picture of a 2016 Chevrolet Corvette Z06. I tried to capture a photo of such a car from CarMax, but they don’t allow their photos to be captured.

The reason I am asking is that I have decided to buy a used C7 Z06. I have also decided that I am tired of going to a dealer, even a “reputable” one, and doing the negotiating song and dance. A CarMax store is not very far from where I live and CarMax has a decent selection of these cars, most of which can be transferred from somewhere else to the local CarMax for far less than I would have to pay a shipping company.

I excluded from my search any cars with more than 20,000 miles. The one that catches my eye is currently in Florida, has about 16,000 miles and would sell for less than $60,000 including the cost to ship it here. Steve Dallas has suggested that I go to Kerbeck and buy a new one, which is a good suggestion, but even with Kerbeck’s prices I can still save $20,000 by buying a late-model used one. I think the drive train warranty on these cars is 5 years/60,000 miles so a 2016 would still have that warranty coverage.

Once again, what do you think?

 

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