Ahead Of My Time

As I have written before, I was using statistical analysis, or analytics, to help a major league baseball team make decisions in a full-time job 15 years before Moneyball was published. No one had heard of Michael Lewis and Billy Beane was just another first-round bust.

In the late 1990s, while I was Director of Baseball Operations for a major league team, I proposed that position players (non-pitchers) without enough service time to be eligible for salary arbitration be compensated on the basis of OPS, On-Base Percentage Plus Slugging Percentage, adjusted for position and weighted for playing time. The data that allowed for solid, objective evaluation of defense was just over the horizon at that point. I also proposed a similar scheme for pitchers, but obviously one that was based on pitching metrics.

Someone recently sent me this link to an ESPN article that reported on the first bonus pool for players not yet eligible for salary arbitration. The top 100 players in WAR–Wins Above Replacement, a “modern” metric for evaluating performance–among those who do not have enough service time for arbitration received bonuses. Such bonuses were also paid for players in this group who finished first or second in Rookie of the Year voting, in the top five for MVP and Cy Young as well as first and second-team All-MLB. A good percentage of these players will earn more in bonuses than their salary.

Can you understand my continuing bitterness towards major league baseball? Maybe they are simply being kind, but the very few people still in the game with whom I still have any communication tell me that the “kids” being hired today by teams don’t know as much about the game as I did. Yet, they are in and I am out.

One thing that aggravates me to no end is people who believe that everyone gets what they deserve. That to me is SUB: Sheer Unadulterated Bullshit. NO ONE even knows what anyone else deserves.


Here are links to two stories about Tesla cars:


A Tesla Owner Says He Was Locked Out Of His Car After The Battery Died

Tesla Magically Ignites While Sitting In Junkyard


My wonderful wife sent me these stories. Philip Maynard sent me this link to a story about automakers are now charging subscription fees, which is made much easier with electric cars, for features like heated seats.

The EV lemmings/zealots refuse to acknowledge that electric cars have drawbacks. NOTHING made by human beings is perfect because NO human being is perfect. #DeathBeforeEV


This recent Hagerty article is about their “Bull Market” list for 2023, the hottest collector vehicles. One point they make is that more than half of the list–6 of 11–was built after 2000. I was pleasantly surprised that most of the vehicles were actually cars and not SUVs or pickup trucks. My wonderful wife is a big fan of this car that made the list; me, not so much.


AMC AMX side pan high angle


I have always thought that the C-pillar (some would call it the B-pillar) for the original AMC AMX is simply too large for the car. Here is the Hagerty “Intelligence” on the AMX that led it to making this list:


“The AMX is the other two-seat American performance car of the 1960s, and though its appreciation lags behind other muscle cars, younger enthusiasts are increasingly shopping for it. Appreciation since 2019 for the AMX was 28.8 percent, which is behind the ’67–69 Camaro (up 40.5 percent). However, interest from next-generation enthusiasts has nearly tripled since 2019, from a share of 13 percent to 38, suggesting further appreciation is likely.”


My idiosyncratic “appreciation” of small cars has manifested itself in strange ways, including a like of this car that made the list:


Suzuki Cappuccino rear three-quarter driving action


This is a Suzuki Cappuccino. I have written about this car before, here and here. Here is the Hagerty summary for the Cappuccino.


“The Cappuccino never got the same attention as its fellow ABC kei cars, the Autozam AZ-1 and Honda Beat. However, demand for this more “practical” kei car is increasing. Imports have outpaced the Beat in recent years and average protected values are increasing at twice the rate of those for the Beat. Millennial and Gen Z enthusiasts submit over 80 percent of insurance quotes, which assures there will be a dedicated following in the future. It’s nearly impossible to find a more interesting car for under $10,000, assuming you can fit in one.”


Was my interest in this car ahead of its time (the first time I wrote about it was in 2018)? I’ll let you decide.











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A Or B, O-Kei

First…when the damn virus became the front-page news every day I was determined not to let it take over my blog. I wanted this space to be a refuge from the unrelentingly bad news.

While I have little doubt that the MSM has over-reported the negative and under-reported the positive, this damn virus has been a scourge of scourges. That’s why the news that the UK has approved the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID vaccine for use is worth mentioning. The U.K. government is the first in the world to formally approve the U.S.-German vaccine for widespread use; that approval means Britain will be one of the first countries to begin vaccinating its population.

The FDA will not be formally considering Pfizer’s and Moderna’s applications for emergency use authorization until next week. The US does not do everything better than every other country in the world. It is true, though, that 60% of all new pharmaceuticals come from the US. That wouldn’t happen under a government scheme of price controls and other constraints.

Let’s hope the recent Goldman Sachs report on a vaccination timeline is at least close to right. This report, based on a combination of supply assessments (using data from leading vaccine developers) and demand using consumer survey data, estimates that half the population of the US and Canada will be vaccinated by the end of April. This report did predict that the UK would reach the 50% threshold before the US and Canada (by the end of March).


Yes, I love Corvettes and first-generation Buick Rivieras and the DeTomaso Longchamp and Aston Martins, etc. Like many automobile enthusiasts, I am a big fan of high-performance cars with great styling.

However, I have a thing for small cars. While I do not like the SmartCar, I think the Scion iQ was a handsome little car (picture from Auto Evolution).


See the source image


Today’s A Or B post was inspired by an episode of Everyday Driver. In this episode Todd Deeken and Paul Schmucker drive an Autozam AZ-1 (manufactured by Mazda) and a Suzuki Cappuccino–Kei cars–in the streets of Seattle.

It was actually kind of funny to watch the 6-foot-3 Deeken try to wedge himself into these Kei cars. In case you don’t know, or even if you do, the Kei car category was created by the Japanese government in 1949, and the regulations have been revised several times since. These regulations specify a maximum vehicle size, engine capacity, and power output, so that owners may enjoy both tax and insurance benefits. I believe the current regulations are that to qualify as a Kei car, and so the owner can receive the tax/insurance benefits, the car cannot be more than 11 feet long, more than 5 feet wide and the engine cannot have a displacement of more than 660 cc, which is 40 cubic inches.

These cars have been enormously popular in Japan, at times reaching a 40% market share. Not surprisingly, when the Japanese government raised the Kei-car tax by 50% in 2014, sales of the cars declined. The people who think taxes don’t matter so government can make them as high as they want should have operations to have their heads removed from their rectums. <end soapbox>

As one of the hosts said (I think it was Paul Schmucker), not all cars are world cars that can be sold in every market. As the facts that more than 70% of American adults are overweight and one-third are obese are a major driver in the move away from cars and towards SUVs and pickup trucks, only a very small percentage of Americans could drive these cars comfortably.

The top photo of an Autozam AZ-1 (without its gull-wing doors open) is from Import a Vehicle. The bottom photo of a Suzuki Cappuccino is from Wikipedia.


See the source image

See the source image


I believe both cars use the same Suzuki engine: a turbocharged, 3-cylinder engine of 657 cc displacement (40 cubic inches) that produces 63 HP/63 LB-FT of torque.

OK, maybe this is an extremely idiosyncratic manifestation of my “enthusiasm” for cars, but I like what I like. What can I say? Besides, where else can you read about Maseratis one day and Kei cars the next?

Kind people, please choose between the Autozam AZ-1 and the Suzuki Cappuccino. Thanks.









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Wednesday Cappuccino, Anyone?

No, not this:

See the source image

(Photo from Wikimedia Commons)



Also from Wikimedia Commons a picture of a Suzuki Cappuccino. Here is a link to a video about the car.

OK, why am I writing about the Suzuki Cappuccino? Two reasons: first, I was browsing through the second volume (M-Z) of the Beaulieu Encyclopedia of the Automobile, saw a picture of this car and thought it looked interesting. Yes, I look through automotive reference books for fun. Does that surprise anyone reading this? Second, I am trying to demonstrate that I am not just about high-performance cars. The looks of a car grab me first and I think the Cappuccino has a great look despite its diminutive stature.

If beauty is only skin deep, but ugly is to the bone then the Bugatti cars (the Veyron and Chiron) are skeletons. Even ignoring that they are produced by Volkswagen, they are hideous to me. The performance of the car does not offset the looks, in my opinion. The Cappuccino is like a pushcart compared to the Bugatti autos, but I would rather have the Suzuki.

Do you know what a Kei Car is? In Japan it is the legal category for the smallest and most limited power, highway-legal motor vehicles, including passenger cars. These vehicles provide tax and insurance breaks for their owners and are very popular in Japan. The Cappuccino, which was produced from 1991 to 1997, is a Kei Car.

This car was powered by a turbocharged 12-valve, 3-cylinder engine of 657 cc/40 cubic-inch displacement that produced 63 HP/63 LB-FT of torque. The Kei regulations set a maximum allowable HP figure, which I believe is 63 HP.

The Cappuccino had just an 81-inch wheelbase, was 130 inches long, 55 inches wide and weighed just 1,600 pounds. Any car with a wheelbase length in double-digits (in inches) is small.  Despite a search of decent length I was unable to locate total production for the Cappuccino; for its first two years (1991-92) about 28,000 were made.

Anyone else have a thing for this car or ones like it?