Frickin’ Friday

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

– Shakespeare

******************

Paradoxically…this piece begins:

 

“Nearly all COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. now are in people who weren’t vaccinated, a staggering demonstration of how effective the shots have been and an indication that deaths per day — now down to under 300 — could be practically zero if everyone eligible got the vaccine.”

 

CDC director Rochelle Walensky said the vaccine is so effective that “nearly every death, especially among adults, due to COVID-19, is, at this point, entirely preventable.” She called such deaths “particularly tragic.”

“Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.”

– Huxley

******************

I am not in a pleasant mood today. The sources of the distress are physical and mental. (Yeah, talk about mental…)

It seems as though no matter what idea I have, it is utterly rejected. I am indeed destined to spend decades of my life unemployed and underutilized. What would I do if I had to work? I shudder at the thought. I will rage once again: I AM NOT OBSOLETE!

******************

This article is a somewhat technical discussion of the de facto first automatic transmission for automobiles, General Motors’ Hydra-Matic. According to the piece, upon its introduction GM proclaimed the Hydra-Matic to be “the most important automotive advancement since the self-starter.”

Manual transmission “devotees” (I would call them snobs) would argue with this, but it is clear that, at least in the US, the standard manual transmission is already dead on its feet, but no one has had the decency to knock it over and to give it a decent burial. Electric vehicles are about 2% of the new car market in the US while standard manuals are about 1%. Think about that…

The article claims that Hydra-Matic was first available on Oldsmobiles in October of 1939 (as a $57 option) on 1940 model year cars. I have seen it written elsewhere that the transmission was available earlier in 1939. In any event, it was jointly developed by Oldsmobile and Cadillac, but was introduced first in Oldsmobile because of economies of scale–Oldsmobile produced more cars than Cadillac at the time, providing a larger “testing” sample and allowing for amortization of development costs over more units–and to protect Cadillac’s reputation in case the transmission was a failure.

It was such a success that when Pontiac introduced Hydra-Matic in its 1948 cars, over 70% of them were equipped with it. (In that year, virtually all Cadillacs and Oldsmobiles were built with Hydra-Matic.) Widespread adoption of automatic transmissions is not a recent development. The Hydra-Matic was soon available on non-GM cars. To wit:

 

Lincoln, 1949-54

Nash (including Rambler), 1950-57

Frazer, 1951 (its last year of production)

Kaiser, 1951-55 (Kaiser’s last year of US car production was 1955)

Willys, 1954-55 (ditto for Willys)

 

Rolls-Royce acquired a license to produce Hydra-Matics for its cars, including Bentley, in 1952 and continued producing it at least through 1967. The company that advertised its products as “Like Nothing Else On Earth” and “Simply The Best Motor Car In The World” was using transmissions developed by General Motors. The Turbo Hydra-Matic transmission, the spiritual–if not mechanical–successor to the original Hydra-Matic, was also used by Rolls-Royce. From Hemmings a picture of a 1940 Oldsmobile 90 Club Coupe that was, I think, equipped with the Hydra-Matic:

 

See the source image

 

It’s amazing how after all this time of writing about cars, the mere act of doing so almost always calms me down and brings me joy. Anyway…just as people may look back at Tesla as a revolutionary event in personal transportation we have to acknowledge that GM’s development of the Hydra-Matic was also revolutionary.

Enjoy your weekend.

 

#FrickinFriday

#Shakespeare

#IAmNotObsolete

#HydraMaticAutomaticTransmission

#1940Oldsmobile

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

If you like this blog please tell your friends and share the blog URL (https://disaffectedmusings.com). Thanks.

 

 

Amen To Musk!

I am not part of the cult of personality that surrounds Elon Musk. However, I had to post a link to this CNBC story–even though I have “already” posted today–because I wholeheartedly agree with his opinion. He believes that the problem with corporate America is that it has TOO MANY MBAs.

I have railed in this blog against the hyper-credentialism that has taken over America. Too many people cannot or will not think outside the box for solutions. The next person in job x does not have to be an exact clone of the last person in that job.

Of course, this plague has had a profound effect on me as I know it has kept me from finding an interesting and fulfilling work situation. I know that the structural and institutional barriers that keep me from being more productive are most formidable. However, a very small part of me still hopes those arbitrary and wasteful barriers can be overcome.

 

#AmenToMusk!

#CredentialsAreOverrated

#IAmNOTObsolete

#TooManyMBAs

#disaffectedmusings

 

Good Old Days

I have shown this picture before on Disaffected Musings.

 

 

This is me and three other San Diego Padres “bigwigs,” including General Manager Kevin Towers (kneeling), in the visitors clubhouse in Dodgers Stadium after the Padres clinched the 1996 NL Western Division title. The following picture has not been shown before because it was “lost” for years.

 

 

This photo was taken in the visitors clubhouse at Turner Field in Atlanta after the Padres’ win in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series clinched the title and sent us to the World Series.

At the far left is Larry Lucchino, then President/CEO of the Padres, and at the far right is John Moores, then Principal Owner/Chairman. The late Kevin Towers is immediately to Lucchino’s left. No points for guessing who is holding the National League Championship Trophy along with Lucchino.

As I mentioned, this picture was missing for many years. Larry Lucchino and I did not have an amicable parting of the ways and for many years my feelings about him were not positive. I resigned on my own terms and was not forced out, but he considered my departure as a personal affront.

With the passing of time I came to appreciate what he had done for me in terms of my baseball career. However, as I began to look for the photo, I feared that out of pique I had either put the picture in a place where it would never be found or, more horribly, that I had simply thrown the picture away.

After multiple searches I simply gave up. I did, however, make a comment to my wonderful wife in passing that maybe the picture would be found after we moved to the desert. Wouldn’t you know that she found the picture yesterday (remember, we’re still unpacking) and in a place I know had previously looked at least twice. A woman’s touch…

Can you understand why I am bitter about my departure from baseball? Can you understand why I utterly reject the notion that I am obsolete, as baseball, football and the rest of the American job “infrastructure” have classified me? Remember Shakespeare, “If you prick us do we not bleed?”

I am still far from being the dullest knife in the drawer. That I am not a coder, don’t possess the “right” degree(s) or don’t belong to the “right” groups is irrelevant from my perspective. Virtually no one else thought I could have a career in major league baseball; I was right and the rest of the world was wrong.

I firmly believe that I am still right and the rest of the world is still wrong, but the structural and institutional barriers that keep me from being more productive are most formidable.

 

******************

Stretching the concept of a segue until it almost breaks…for some fans of All Girls Garage the good old days were when Cristy Lee was on the show. I think Internet searches for her are the primary reason why the number of views for Where Is Cristy Lee? is now well into four figures. For 2020, that post has been viewed more often than the next five most-read posts combined, not counting the About page. OK, I guess you want to see a picture. If you must…this is from her website, cristylee.tv:

 

See the source image

 

As my wonderful wife knows, I think Cristy Lee is literally one of the most beautiful women in the world. I am 99% sure she would like to be known for more than her looks, but her looks are quite formidable.

******************

According to the 365 Days of Motoring website, the first 426 Hemi engine was successfully tested on this day in 1963 by Chrysler. I have not been able to find corroborating evidence anywhere else regarding the date. (Oh, if you run this website why is it still an unsecured site?!)

The “Elephant,” as it came to be called because of its size and heft (it weighed almost 850 pounds), is part of the pantheon of American engines. It was first made available for street use in the 1966 model year. For me, the best use of one of these engines is in one of these cars:

 

See the source image

 

From yet another unsecured site (which is why I didn’t provide the hyperlink), autorestorationice.com, a picture of a 1968 Dodge Charger R/T. I think this is the best-looking year for one of the best looking cars ever, the second-generation Charger.

The 426 Hemi was rated at 425 HP/490 LB-FT of torque. Many automobile “experts” think Chrysler’s published output figures were deliberately understated. Some sources state the output was more like 470 HP/500 LB-FT.

Of course, Chrysler is still producing a Hemi of sorts. Some in the know say the engine’s combustion chambers are not really hemispherically shaped; I am not in the know when it comes to the modern “Hemi.” Still, a modern Hemi (say, a 707 HP Hellcat motor) and modern automatic transmission along with modern suspension and brakes in a ’68 Charger would be one fine ride, in my opinion.

 

OK, time for the “commercial” and an explanation: Please feel free to tell your friends about the blog and to pass along the URL (https://disaffectedmusings.com), please feel free to click on any (or all) of the related posts at the bottom of each post, please feel free to “Like” any post and to submit thoughtful comments and please feel free to click on any ad in which you have genuine interest.

The month of December has started very strongly in terms of the number of views and visitors. I hope that the monthly “record” for both of those metrics can be shattered this month. PLEASE click on as many post titles as you want and PLEASE pass along the blog URL to as many friends as possible. Many thanks.

 

#GoodOldDays

#IAmNOTObsolete!

#CristyLee

#1968DodgeChargerR/T

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

If you like this blog please tell your friends and share the blog URL (https://disaffectedmusings.com). Thanks.

 

 

Anniversaries Abound

This day 20 years ago was, unknowingly at the time, my last day as a full-time employee for a major league baseball team. I had actually tendered my resignation in late May, but stayed through July 31 because that is the trading deadline. July 31, 1999 was a Saturday, I believe. The General Manager, Kevin Towers, asked me on Friday the 30th if it was OK if he could call me at home on that Saturday. I told him, “Of course” and he did call to ask my opinion on a potential trade.

Why did I leave a high-paying, high-profile job in professional sports? I felt that my path to advancement within the organization was blocked. I also knew that, and perhaps this was a compliment to me, the team President would not help me advance in baseball if it meant leaving his team. Even though I was not under contract, the practice in baseball is/was that another team is supposed to ask a person’s current team for permission about a potential position.

I also was unhappy at what I felt was a lack of morality that permeated the organization. I’ll just leave that thought there.

For awhile it looked as if my plan might work. In the months subsequent to my resignation I had conversations with multiple teams about a job. I was even in the running for the Assistant General Manager position for one team, which would have been an “advance” from my position as Director of Baseball Operations. In the end, though, I was not able to acquire a new full-time position with another team.

About a year and a half after I left my position as Director of Baseball Operations I was able to start my own baseball operations/player personnel consulting business. Necessity is really the mother of invention, but that’s another story. I had the business for more than ten years, and it was quite lucrative for me, but then the game (and the rest of America) labeled me as obsolete and I haven’t been able to find a satisfying career since.

Not coincidentally, four years ago tomorrow I received my first baseball pension payment. As I had accrued more than ten years of service as a full-time, non-uniform baseball operations employee I could begin receiving my pension long before my 65th birthday. I spent months calculating the net present value (NPV) of pension payments using constant and variable discount rate models in an effort to find the optimal time to begin receiving my pension. I should not have been surprised that the NPV, calculated at the first possible age one can receive this pension with 10+ years of service, hardly varies regardless of when one begins receiving the payments. Of course, the earlier one starts getting the pension, the smaller the nominal amount, but that is offset by the additional years the payments are received and by the time value of money. Would you rather receive $1.00 today or $1.00 five years from now?

In the end, I decided that I wanted baseball to make as many payments to me as was possible (almost) so I only waited four months past the earliest age at which I could have begun receiving my pension. The date I chose—August 1st—was selected because it was as close as possible to my last day as a full-time baseball employee—July 31st.

“If you prick us, do we not bleed?”

– Shakespeare

 

 

#MultipleAnniversaries

#IAmNotObsolete

#disaffectedmusings

If you like this blog please tell your friends and share the blog URL (https://disaffectedmusings.com). Thanks.

 

Throwback Thursday Returns

First, on this cool and very rainy morning in the mid-Atlantic a bit of a personal throwback from not very long ago although my time in baseball seems like a long time ago. In this post I wrote, “As has been our experience, people at this car event were, almost without exception, friendly and polite. I find more camaraderie among strangers at car events than among co-workers at every place I’ve worked and that includes major league baseball teams with the exception of one of my consulting clients.” I decided to send a link to the post to the President of Baseball Operations and the General Manager of the team that was the exception; I worked with both of them for 10+ years. Of course, both responded quickly. One response was very nice, and yet, very sad to me.

 

“That is very kind of you.  I hope you’re doing well.  I was recently reminiscing with one of the now 35 people that work in our front office that we used to have 8 of us in the front office, and you consulting with us as our analytics “department”!  Baseball has changed a ton over the past 10-15 years.  You were at the forefront of that change, and helped to get us thinking about the right things in the right way.

Best to you, and thanks for the email.”

 

I am not so full of myself that after not having worked in baseball for almost a decade and not having followed the game for almost a decade that I think I could still contribute to a major league organization. However, I firmly believe that if I had stayed in the game I would have continued to be an asset and no one will EVER be able to convince me otherwise. The fact that I am a “father” of Moneyball, but that no one seems to know or to care will always be a source of anger and frustration. Sorry, I’m only human.

******************

Another voice in the “Automatic vs Manual” debate…Steve Strope is the founder and owner of Pure Vision, one of the most respected and most decorated custom car shops in the country. During an episode of Hand Built Hot Rods when a client brings his custom Firebird in because he can’t really drive the 6-speed manual in the traffic and hills of southern California, Strope remarks, “So having a high-performance car with a stick and a heavy clutch. I’m sorry, we’ll just blow the whole romance out of the water. It sucks.” An automatic 4L80 is installed in the car and the client enjoys driving it much more than before.

A note: this episode makes me even more suspicious about all of these car “makeover” shows. I remember the person and his Firebird from an episode of Overhaulin’. One would think that would have been mentioned.

Speaking of first-generation Pontiac Firebirds:

 

 

From this listing on Hemmings a picture of a 1969 Firebird for sale. It no longer has the original engine, but supposedly has new paint, a new interior and a new stereo system. No mention of anything else about the mechanicals other than the non-original engine.

 

#ThrowbackThursday

#IamNOTobsolete

#SteveStrope

#PureVision

#1969PontiacFirebird

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

If you like this blog please tell your friends and share the blog URL (https://disaffectedmusings.com). Thanks.

 

Tuesday Tales Out Of Turn

With the “benefit” of hindsight it is apparent that my marvelous mom suffered from Meniere’s Disease as I do. That illness can create horrible vertigo attacks. While I have not had a code-red vertigo attack since I stopped working full-time (no coincidence) I do, on occasion, have dizziness. This morning I had such dizziness and my wonderful wife brought me Meclizine. After 15-20 minutes, the dizziness subsided.

Those who scoff at modern medicine (and there are many people who do so) fail to realize one fact. A person born in the US in 1900 had a life expectancy of 40 years. Today, even with Americans using too many drugs, too many guns, not exercising and not eating properly, US life expectancy is basically twice that number. The only two developments that explain the change are modern sanitation and modern medicine. My wonderful wife’s mother is alive today (and kickin’) because of modern medicine.

Oh, forgot to mention that there were almost no people aged 100+ in the US in 1900. Today, about 75,000 people are 100+ years old.

******************

On the left is my 1998 National League Championship ring and on the right is my 2008 American League Championship ring. Shortly after the Rays lost in the World Series a friend of mine said, “Well, you’ll have to wait until 2018 for your World Series Championship ring.” That’s what I would call excessive extrapolation from an insignificant sample.

Two years after the Rays played in the World Series I was basically out of baseball. When they called to let me know they would not be renewing my contract (the call was on Friday, October 15, 2010) they offered to make recommendations to other teams. My response? “The fact that you’re not renewing my services will speak much more loudly than any recommendation.”

NO ONE will ever be able to convince me that I deserved to lose my seat at the table. NO ONE who knows me well thinks I’m obsolete. A World Series ring? If baseball’s “Golden Boy”—for whom I was a mentor and influence—were a mensch and not a taker he might have ordered such a ring for me as a token of appreciation. In one of my favorite movies, Midnight Run, Charles Grodin’s character says, “There’s good and bad everywhere.” To which Robert DeNiro’s character replies, “There’s bad everywhere. Good I don’t know about.”

******************

I believe I have written that if you read this blog you should read the comments. In the comments for C8, Wait! Steve Dallas offered the expert opinion that the 12-volt electrical systems used in cars today—and, I might add, that have basically been used since the 1950s—are no longer adequate for powering all of the devices used in automobiles. Some have described modern cars as nothing more than computers with wheels.

Well, this article from CorvetteBlogger.com asks if the C8 is going to have a 48-volt system. More from that article:

 

“Since the 1950s most vehicles have operated with a 12V electrical system and battery which provided plenty of starting power for most vehicles. Today’s vehicles are more power-hungry and ‘more juice’ is needed to start and run the new electronic systems as manufacturers have replaced previous mechanical-driven components with more efficient electrical-powered components including power steering racks, electric brake vacuum pumps and electric water pumps to name a few. Then you have all the new infotainment options as well as creature comforts like heated or cooled seats, lane departure warnings, and even adaptive cruise control systems that need to be powered as well, and you can see how a 12-volt system could be in danger of being maxed out.

The alternative to the 12V system that most automakers are going with are 48V systems which provide more than enough electrical power through the system. Not only does a 48V system have the juice to handle the new electronics, but they can also offer the ability for more performance and fuel economy savings. In fact, 48V systems are described as ‘mild hybrids’ because the alternator is replaced with an electric generator to provide the additional electrical power. As more of the mechanical components can be converted to electric systems, that means less parasitic power loss to engines which improves fuel economy, reduces emissions and increases power.

One article we read touts Audi as using a 48V system in conjunction with an electrically powered supercharger which boosts power at low engine speeds without the lag of an exhaust-driven turbo is known for, while a lithium-ion battery in the trunk recaptures energy from regenerative braking. When the ZR1 first came out, we learned the massive supercharger draws about 100 horsepower from the engine. Think about the power that could be gained if more mechanical systems could be off-loaded to an electrical power system.”

 

While it is now too late in the life cycle of the internal combustion engine for this to happen, I have often wondered why valves weren’t actuated electronically instead of through cumbersome and power-robbing chains and gears. Lift and duration could be changed with the touch of a button and one wouldn’t have to slog through the ordeal of changing the timing gear and chain and then hope that everything is back to top dead center.

I hope the issues that are delaying the C8 Corvette are resolved swiftly and completely. In the meantime, a gratuitous picture of a Corvette of my favorite vintage:

 

https://www.supercars.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/1093421-1536.jpg

From supercars.net a picture of a 1967 Corvette that is obviously a convertible and, just as obviously, is not “wearing” the auxiliary hardtop.

 

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

 

If you like this blog please tell your friends and share the blog URL (https://disaffectedmusings.com). Thanks.

 

It’s OK to pat yourself on the back

I don’t follow it anymore, but the major league baseball season started yesterday. The defending World Series champs, the Houston Astros, are led by the reigning league MVP, Jose Altuve. I, and the models I developed to evaluate baseball players, identified Altuve as a prospect in 2009. I identified Robinson Cano as a prospect in 2002. Of course, I was not always right in evaluating players, but I was right more than I was wrong by a significant margin. No one will ever be able to convince me that I deserved to lose my seat at the table. Pardon the profanity, but f**k anyone who thinks I am obsolete and that includes baseball’s “golden boys.” I am a pioneer in both analytics AND pro scouting and damn few people can make a statement of that magnitude. <end rant>

I don’t think my post had anything to do with it, but Cadillac President Johan de Nysschen has announced that Cadillac will, indeed, be putting one of their amazing concept cars into production, the Escala. (By the way, I did send the URL of that post to Cadillac.)

See the source image

From gmauthority.com a picture of the Cadillac Escala. de Nysschen said, “Things are about to get very interesting at Cadillac. The world does not need another large-box conventional sedan.” Bravo, Cadillac!