Odds And Ends

No, that is not the name of the shared practice of a psychiatrist and a proctologist. My wonderful wife and I will not attend today’s final auction day at Barrett-Jackson as we have some more pressing matters.

Today’s docket is short, about 120 vehicles. A quick count yielded 51 pickup trucks and SUVs among those vehicles. While that might be a slightly higher proportion than for the rest of the auction, it’s not much higher if any.

I know I am already sounding like a broken record, but I am dismayed by the invasion of these non-cars into car auctions, regardless of how that mirrors what is happening in the “regular automobile” market where more than 70 percent of new vehicles purchased are not cars. I will once again offer my politically incorrect view that the trend away from cars is in large part due to the fact that more than 70 percent of American adults are overweight and more than a third are obese.

Shifting gears, the right to buy the first retail production 2023 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 was sold yesterday for $3.6 million. It was among the vehicles sold for charity at this auction. Barrett-Jackson offers many significant vehicles where the sale proceeds are given to various charities with no fees paid by consignor or buyer. Operation Homefront was the organization that received the $3.6 million from the sale of the first C8 Z06. From their website: “Our mission is to build strong, stable, and secure military families so they can thrive—not simply struggle to get by—in the communities that they’ve worked so hard to protect.” A relevant photo:

 

 

To be clear, VIN 001 for the 2023 Corvette Z06 has not yet been built. The winner of this car will get to pick the exterior color, interior color and trim, option packages, etc.

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

An interlude from Barrett-Jackson…four years ago today Kevin Towers, former General Manager of the San Diego Padres and the Arizona Diamondbacks, died of thyroid cancer. Of course, I worked with Kevin during my four years with the Padres. As I have recounted previously, he always treated me with respect and we enjoyed real camaraderie even though he didn’t hire me. Below is a picture shown many times before in Disaffected Musings.

 

 

This picture was taken in the visitors clubhouse at Dodger Stadium after we clinched the 1996 National League Western Division title. Kevin is the one kneeling in front and I am one of the other three people.

It is difficult to describe the amount of work necessary to be involved with making decisions in a professional sports organization. Although I enjoyed most of my roughly 10 years working in a full-time Baseball Operations job for a major league team–six-plus years with the Orioles and four-plus years with the Padres–it was a lot of work. (I worked as a Baseball Operations/Player Personnel consultant for major league teams for more than ten years, but that was not as a full-time employee.) It might not seem like work, but the effort expended is quite real.

It is important that the principals can work well together because the hours are so long and the stakes are high, relatively speaking. No, we’re not healing the sick, but in case you hadn’t noticed professional sports are important to a lot of people. Except for my last year with the Padres I enjoyed working there. My dissatisfaction at the end that led to my resignation had little to do with my baseball colleagues, anyway.

 

“And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”

– John Donne

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

Remember this car?

 

 

This supposedly genuine 1969 Pontiac Trans Am with the Ram Air IV option, of which only 55 were built, hammered for $105,000 yesterday, which is $115,500 all in. I am reluctant to mention this again, but a fugly box on wheels, a 1957 Volvo SUV, brought twice that amount.

Although the price of most collector cars is on the rise, and even though “experts” advise car aficionados to buy what they like instead of worrying about potential price appreciation, a comparison like the one above makes me wonder if relative car bargains still exist. I worked as a consultant for the Oakland A’s for ten years. The A’s, led by General Manager Billy Beane, were the team featured in Moneyball, Michael Lewis’s famous book about analytics in baseball and, in all honesty, a book that played a large role in the eventual end of my baseball consulting business, although that was not his intent, of course.

Anyway…the A’s never had a large player payroll–they couldn’t afford to–so they needed a way to compete with less. They needed to find assets that were undervalued in the baseball marketplace. Relying on data more and subjective evaluations less they used principles that are taken for granted today, but that were cutting-edge 20 years ago.

Eventually, of course, other teams copied what the A’s did. It has been said that teams like the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers started using “Moneyball” with real money.

The sub-head in the header of this blog reads, “I am a disaffected Moneyball pioneer who loves cars.” My contributions have been forgotten, but I am a real Moneyball pioneer. I was using analytics in a full-time job to help a major league team make decisions 15 years before the book was published.

If I had access to car auction data I might try to unearth relative bargains, assuming the collector car market can be modeled accurately. Sometimes, human behavior defies mathematical modeling.

 

#OddsAndEnds

#Barrett-JacksonScottsdale

#KevinTowers

#IAmAMoneyballPioneer

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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

 

Veterans Day 2021

I wish to extend a heartfelt thanks to the 19 million veterans in the US. I also want to thank the roughly 1.3 million currently on active duty in the US military. I think their service is grossly underappreciated by too much of the population.

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

Today would/should have been Kevin Towers’ 60th birthday. I worked with Kevin for four years while with the San Diego Padres. As I have recounted, I was foisted on him at first as my first title was Assistant Director of Scouting for Professional Players. At the time, Kevin was the Director of Scouting.

Later, we were both promoted: Kevin to General Manager and me to Director of Baseball Operations. In the three full seasons we had those roles, the Padres won two NL West division titles and one National League championship. (I resigned during the season after the NL championship.) Here is a picture I have shown before:

 

 

Kevin is the one kneeling in front and I am one of the other three people. He always treated me as a friend and respected colleague and not as an interloper.

I believe Kevin’s widow lives in the Phoenix area. I wish I could find her just to say hello and to tell her how much I appreciated the way Kevin treated me. He died of anaplastic thyroid cancer in January of 2018.

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

I wanted to add something about what happened on this day in automotive history. Unfortunately, I have learned that the 365 Days of Motoring website cannot be trusted (not to mention it’s not a secure site). I am seldom able to corroborate their “facts.”

A book I have called This Day In Automotive History has nothing for this day that interests me. Since it is likely that tomorrow will be the “F” car in Cars A To Z, I will report that on November 12, 1908 General Motors (which had been founded just two months earlier) acquired Oldsmobile.

Ransom Eli Olds founded Oldsmobile in 1897, sold the company to Samuel L. Smith in 1899 but stayed on as Vice-President and General Manager until the two men began to butt heads frequently. Olds left his namesake company in 1904 to start REO Motor Car Company.

In the first model year after GM’s acquisition (1909), Oldsmobile finished 7th in sales among American makes. Buick finished second and Cadillac, which GM acquired in 1909, finished 5th. Reo finished 6th. Unlike later when Ford completely dominated the US market with the Model T, it had less than a 10 percent share. I hope the photo below shows an actual 1909 Oldsmobile, but my knowledge of brass era cars is quite limited:

 

See the source image

 

In its long history Oldsmobile had quite a record as an innovator with its two most significant being the first make to offer a fully automatic transmission in the Hydra-Matic and, along with Cadillac, the first to offer a modern, overhead-valve and oversquare V-8 engine. I think the fact that these engines had a bore greater than stroke (that’s what oversquare means) is not mentioned enough in automotive histories. That design allows for higher RPM than the old-fashioned engines whose stroke always exceeded their bore.

For the nth time, I will offer lamentation over the demise of makes like Oldsmobile.

 

#VeteransDay

#KevinTowers

#Oldsmobile

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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

 

 

 

Remembering…

Based on this guesstimate, about 57 million people have served in the US military. Based on this Wikipedia article, about 1.4 million of them died while serving. Yes, this is Veterans Day and not Memorial Day, but I don’t think one can honor veterans and their service without remembering those who did not survive.

Of course, this day was originally called Armistice Day (and still is in many countries) to commemorate the end of The Great War or World War I as it is now known. An armistice is a truce that ends fighting in a conflict as opposed to a treaty or other more formal agreement that ends all hostilities. On November 11, 1918 an armistice was signed to end the fighting between the Allied forces and Germany.

 

Image result for remembering veterans day images

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

Today would have been Kevin Towers’ 59th birthday. Unfortunately, the former General Manager of the San Diego Padres and Arizona Diamondbacks died in January, 2018.

I have recounted my association with him in several posts, but don’t ever want to forget how, even though I was foisted on him, he always treated me with respect and that we developed a real sense of camaraderie. This is a picture I have shown more than once in Disaffected Musings.

 

 

This photo was taken in the visiting clubhouse in Dodger Stadium after the San Diego Padres clinched the National League Western Division title in 1996. Kevin is the one kneeling in front. I am one of the other three people.

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

From Corvette Blogger comes the news that the Corvette finished first in its category (Midsize Premium Sporty Car) in terms of 2020 resale value. The “awards” are determined by JD Power’s assessment of how much vehicles decrease in value over the first three years of their lives; the 2017 Corvette emerged with the lowest level of depreciation in the Midsize Premium Sporty Car, beating out runners-up Nissan GT-R and the Porsche 911.

Whether these cars will continue to hold their value as more C8 Corvettes are sold is an unknown. My wonderful wife and I remain very happy with our C7 Vettes.

 

 

I guess we need to take some photos of our cars in our new venue, but that is way down on the priority list right now as dozens, maybe hundreds, of boxes remain unopened. I don’t know if moving is really a bigger stressor than divorce or the death of a spouse as some websites claim, but it is certainly very stressful.

I once moved 14 times in a 25-year period, including some cross-country moves, but this move was among the most stress-inducing. My first cross-country move, in 1995 to take a job with the Padres, is the only other one that was as stressful.

 

#Remembering…

#VeteransDay

#KevinTowers

#C7Corvette

#StressOfMoving

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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

 

Remembering Kevin Towers

Two years ago today long-time baseball executive Kevin Towers died. He had been diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of thyroid cancer in 2016.

He and I worked together during my time with the San Diego Padres. As I have written before, I was foisted on him at first as my first title was Assistant Director of Scouting, Professional Players and he was the Scouting Director. In November, 1995 he was promoted to General Manager and I was promoted to Director of Baseball Operations.

While he was an “old-fashioned” baseball person in that he had been a professional player and was a big believer in traditional scouting, he never displayed any hostility towards me even though I was an “analytics person.” In fact, on more than one occasion he praised me to others in and out of the organization when I was not present and that praise would be relayed to me later by someone who had been present.

In my “mental time” (yes, I’m mental alright) it seems as though it’s been 6-9 months since Kevin’s passing. Time is really flying. Carpe Diem!

 

 

A picture taken in the visiting clubhouse in Dodger Stadium the day we clinched the 1996 Western Division Championship. Kevin is the one kneeling in the front and I am one of the other three people.

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

A very large Powerball jackpot was won yesterday by someone in Florida. Even though my wonderful wife and I are financially well-off and have no debt, we play the lottery on occasion. Why? In an episode of JAG (“The Four Percent Solution”) Sarah “Mac” McKenzie is in a mandated session with a psychiatrist whose upbeat attitude grates on her. At one point Mac asks, “Do you play the lottery?” The psychiatrist replies, “No, but I think people who do play are rejecting the notion of a life with limits.”

For me, playing the lottery is a last grasp at a life without limits. While we are not poor, we are not in a position to provide “unlimited” help to family and to close friends. We are not in a position to travel at will, to attend 10-12 car auctions a year and maybe even buy a few cars.

I fully understand the very long odds against winning a multi-million dollar lottery. For me, the lottery is not a tax on people who are bad at math. To those of you reading who understand math: if I don’t play the lottery then my odds of winning are zero. If I play, my odds asymptotically approach zero. I can also guarantee that if we won we would not end up like the 60%-70% of lottery winners who are bankrupt within five years of their win. Winning the lottery doesn’t usually change a person’s decision-making.

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

OK, so what would we do first if we won a nine-figure lottery jackpot? Well, we wouldn’t pay off our mortgage because we paid it off two years ago. Like I wrote, we have no debt at all. I haven’t had a car payment in 15 years and my wonderful wife hasn’t had one in 18 years.

Of course I think of cars I could buy and a house with a big enough garage to store those cars. Maybe a house like this:

 

10323 E Buckskin Trl, Scottsdale, AZ 85255

10323 E Buckskin Trl, Scottsdale, AZ 85255

10323 E Buckskin Trl, Scottsdale, AZ 85255

 

This house has a six-car garage. One problem with most houses that have large garages is that they are on large lots meaning they have wells for drinking water and a septic tank for waste. My wonderful wife and I have lived in such a house and it was not an enjoyable experience. Still, if we won a nine-figure jackpot we could probably buy a solution to that problem. To quote Morey Amsterdam, money may not buy happiness, but with it you can be miserable in comfort.

My close friend Bob rejects the notion that money can’t buy happiness and many would agree with that view. Some famous wealthy people (most famous people are wealthy) say that having riches simply means that’s one less thing to worry about. All I know is that I would love to be in a position to find out.

 

#KevinTowers

#Lottery

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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

 

 

 

Monday Musings, 2019 Veterans Day Edition

First, I offer thoughts of gratitude to all of those who have served and are serving in the US armed forces. I also want to note the sacrifice of the nearly 1.4 million who lost their lives in the service of this country.

Please remember that those who are serving today have chosen to do so.

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

Second, this would/should have been Kevin Towers’ 58th birthday. It is difficult to believe that he has been dead for almost two years. Towers was the General Manager for most of my tenure with the San Diego Padres. He always treated me as a friend and valued colleague. A picture I have shown before:

 

 

This picture was taken in the visitors clubhouse in Dodger Stadium after the Padres clinched the 1996 NL West Division title. Kevin is the one kneeling; I am one of the other three people.

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

Speaking of untimely demises, this past weekend I learned that someone with whom I attended graduate school and with whom I remained friends until about ten years ago passed away in the summer of 2018 before his 59th birthday. We didn’t have a falling out, we just drifted apart, which happens probably more often than is good for us.

I think one reason I have lost so much interest in sports is that as I hear the clock ticking I have come to believe that it is the actions of my wonderful wife and me that matter, not those of people I don’t know who happen to be wearing a certain uniform.

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

On this day in 1989 Jaguar became a subsidiary of Ford Motor Company. Ford’s ownership of Jaguar—and Aston Martin and Land Rover—was not long as they sold Aston Martin in 2007 and Jaguar and Land Rover in 2008.

Ford expanded Jaguar’s product line, introducing the S-Type in 1999 and the X-Type in 2001. James May, of Top Gear and The Grand Tour fame, criticized the S-Type, saying he thought the car was designed to appeal more to the American and German markets than the UK, and that the car, “…sums up everything that is wrong with Jaguar.”

In what can only be described as ironic, Jaguar and Land Rover, two ultimate British icons, are now owned by Tata Motors of India.

For me this photo represents the most interesting Jaguar to me during the Ford period:

 

See the source image

 

From historics.co.uk a picture of a Jaguar XKR coupe, a 2003 model as it turns out. The “R” in the model name means the engine is supercharged, which pushed the output of the 4.2 liter V-8 to 390 HP/399 LB-FT of torque. The transmission was a 6-speed automatic. By the way, if you’re willing to roll the dice on a model with some mileage (>50,000), these cars can be purchased for less than $15,000.

For me, every two-door Jaguar looks good. Strictly in terms of exterior design I don’t think any two makes have a better history than Jaguar and Aston Martin.

 

#VeteransDay

#KevinTowers

#LifeIsShort

#2003JaguarXKRCoupe

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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

 

Remembering

I want to express my gratitude to all of those who have served in the US armed forces. Of course today is Veteran’s Day in the US. I believe it’s still called Armistice Day or Remembrance Day in parts of Europe. On this day in 1918, 100 years ago exactly, the Great War—later known as World War I, of course—ended.

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

If he had lived today would have been Kevin Towers’ 57th birthday. I worked with Kevin as a member of the San Diego Padres’ Baseball Operations staff. As I wrote in one of my first posts on Disaffected Musings the day after he died in late January of this year, although I was “foisted” upon him at first he always treated me as a friend and with respect. In that earlier post I showed this picture:

That picture was taken in the visitors clubhouse in Los Angeles after the Padres clinched the 1996 NL Western Division title. Kevin is the one kneeling in front and I am one of the other three people. So long ago and yet still fresh in memory.

When baseball’s “golden boy” was named to his first General Manager position he gave an interview to that city’s famous newspaper. In that interview he named Kevin as one of the two people who had most influenced the way he thought about baseball. The other person was yours truly.

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

Many thanks to regular readers Charley Walters and Steve Dallas for sending emails to me with words of praise for this blog. As the late, great Saul Bellow once wrote, “We have a word for everything except for what we really think and feel.” Despite the inadequacy of words (kind of an odd thing for a blogger to write, I guess) I want to express my gratitude for their emails and for all regular readers of this blog. Disaffected Musings is very important to me and I am very proud of this blog. Even with the recent surge in readers I still wish many more people were reading.

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

Days like today make many of us of “middle age” wax nostalgic about the past. I have written about and posted pictures of this car before, but one more time won’t hurt.

See the source image

From classiccars.com a picture of a 1956 Buick Century with a great view of the front of the car. The first car I ever drove was a 1956 Buick Century that my father purchased in 1961, I believe. About 21,000 of this model were produced in 1956. The weight was about 4,200 pounds. The car seemed heavier; so much so, in fact, that our nickname for the car was “The Tank.” The MSRP of the car when new was about $3,300.

The Century was powered by Buick’s Fireball V-8 of 322 cubic inch displacement that produced 255 HP/341 LB-FT of torque. The transmission was Buick’s famous (or infamous depending on your perspective) Dynaflow automatic. It was called the Dyna-Slush by detractors, but was praised for its smoothness by its supporters.

As I have written before, from time to time I scratch my itch to look for a ’56 Century for sale online. I look through the ads, of which there are usually not many, and have to take a deep breath before the urge to buy one passes. One day, though, the breath might no longer work.

 

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

 

Goodbye, KT

Kevin Towers, former General Manager of the San Diego Padres and the Arizona Diamondbacks, died yesterday at the age of 56 after a year-long battle with cancer. (Cancer sucks.) I worked with Kevin for four-plus years and, even though I was “foisted” upon him at first, he always treated me as a friend and valued colleague. Although I had known since last March that he was ill, the news of his passing is still quite sad.

The person kneeling front and center is Kevin Towers. One of the other three people in the photo is me. This picture was taken in the visitors clubhouse at Dodger Stadium after the Padres had clinched the 1996 NL West title.

98 Ring

 

This is a picture of my 1998 National League Championship ring. Kevin was the General Manager of that team.

Thanks and farewell, KT.