Change the Senate, Change the country, Change our future

As I write this post, the United States is less than five months away from the 2020 election, which takes place on Tuesday, November 3rd. But there’s a set of less visible elections that are also critical for Democrats to win.

Obviously, most of the 2020 election news is focused on the Presidential election. Electing the head of the executive branch is incredibly important, particularly when the choice is as stark as Joe Biden versus Donald Trump. But electing Joe Biden won’t really matter, unless we also elect a Democratic Senate.

The US Senate is uniquely important because it’s the only legislative branch that influences the judicial branch of the government. Only the US Senate confirms US Supreme Court Justices as well as the 850+ other Federal Judges at the District Court and Appeals Court levels.

Donald Trump’s Appeals Court Judges alone will be devastating to the United States for the next 30-40 years (because they’re lifetime appointments). Trump has named more than 25% of all Appeals Court Judges nationwide because the US Senate (under Republican control) has rubber-stamped them all.

The Nightmare Scenario

Even if Joe Biden wins the Presidency in 2020 none of Biden’s priorities will progress and virtually none of his judicial appointments to correct the Trump era will be confirmed – unless Democrats also take control of the Senate. How do I know? Because of history, and because Mitch McConnell is an evil SOB.

For six of Obama’s eight years in office, Democrats controlled the Senate. Even with control of the Senate it was difficult to get judges approved, until Harry Reid changed the Senate rules so a simple majority vote was sufficient for judicial appointments. What happened in those final two years — when the GOP was in control of the US Senate?

This also applies to any legislation that Biden will try to pass. If the GOP controls the US Senate, they don’t even have to vote on any Democratic legislation — the Senate could be the graveyard of best intentions.

It doesn’t have to be this way, and YOU can make a difference

The GOP controls the US Senate by a margin of 53 – 47. To win control of the Senate, the Democrats need to win a net of four seats from current Republicans in the 2020 election. And here’s the good news – with one exception, all of the Democratic seats are fairly or very safe for Democrats, and there are eight GOP-held seats that are competitive. Democrats CAN take back the Senate in 2020.

I’ve created a campaign on ActBlue to help Democrats win the Senate, and I’m asking you to contribute.

In donating to this campaign, your money will go to the nine most important Senate races for Democrats to win in 2020.

To Defend:

  • Doug Jones (Alabama)

To Win:

  • Colorado
  • Arizona
  • Maine
  • Iowa
  • Montana
  • North Carolina
  • Georgia – regular Senate seat
  • Georgia – Senate special election seat

I want to also make a note about the importance of setting up recurring donations. Recurring donations are MUCH more valuable to each of these campaigns. When you set up a monthly donation, that campaign can build their plans knowing their future income, which allows them to be more aggressive early. Even a small amount donated regularly can be hugely impactful to a campaign.

To sum up

This country needs a reset – it needs Democrats in charge of the US Senate. A Biden presidency and a Democratic-controlled Senate will need years to correct what was broken under the Trump administration, and that needs to start in 2020.

Please donate to help make this vision come true.

Baseball in 2019 – if promotion and relegation existed

As an American living in London, it took me a while to understand British sports.  Partly because they played cricket instead of baseball, rugby instead of basketball, and football instead of… well… “American football”.  But the thing I learned in the UK that really made me think about how socialist most American sports are was promotion and relegation.

First off, you should know that there are many (many) tiers to English football, from the Premier League all the way down to local amateur clubs.  But at the end of every football season, the top teams from each league are promoted to the next tier above, and the bottom teams from each league are relegated to the next tier below.  Every year the bottom 3 teams from the Premier League are relegated to the EFL Championship League, and top 3 teams from the EFL Championship League are promoted to the Premier League.

In actuality, the top two teams from the EFL Championship League are automatically promoted to the Premier League, and there’s a mini-playoff to win the third spot.  That final playoff match – to win the third promotion – is the most lucrative single match in all of football globally.  Winning it, and the income that goes to teams that play in the Premier League, is worth >$200million to the winning club.  Promotion and relegation is really, really exciting (and heartbreaking).

What I love about this feature of English football is just how truly capitalist it is. Clubs can’t just give up part-way through a year, chalk it up as “a rebuilding year”, and know they can re-start the next season.  If they suck, they’re getting relegated and it’ll impact their top- and bottom-line financially, too.  For as much as Americans love capitalism, our sports leagues are socialist with an unbreakable social safety net.  No matter how bad a US team is they’re still guaranteed a share of TV ratings money, and that there’ll be no competition for their place in the league the next year.  (Can anyone say “Suck for Luck”?)

In the US, the only sport that could feasibly do anything like this is baseball.  There are tiers in the sport (major leagues, AAA, AA, etc), similar or the same number of teams at each tier, etc.  American football and basketball don’t have anywhere near the same depth of lower leagues, and while there are some minor league ice hockey teams they don’t have the same breadth or depth as baseball.

Thursday, March 28th is Opening Day across America for Major League Baseball. In honor of that, I wanted to publish something I’ve been meaning to do for years – a thought experiment around promotion and relegation in baseball.  If baseball teams were promoted and relegated based on their 2018 results, what would this upcoming season look like?

Let’s dig in!

MLB – 2018

Congratulations to the Red Sox, Astros, and Yankees! As the top three major league teams in 2018, they’d be eligible for any further competitions. In English football, this means they’d get to play in the Champions League the following year. In baseball, perhaps there could be some championship series involving teams from Japan, Cuba, etc? (Dare I say it: a truly World Series?)

Commiserations to fans of the Chicago White Sox, the Kansas City Royals, and the Baltimore Orioles. By finishing at the bottom in 2018, these three teams would be playing AAA baseball in 2019. In the Orioles’ defense, they play in the same AL East division as the Red Sox and the Yankees, so it’s tough to compete. At the same time… they only won 47 games in 2018 – oof. (Even bad teams should win 54 games according to Tommy Lasorda.)

Side note – both the best and the worst baseball teams in the major league in 2018 were all American League teams. That seems… weird, right?

The White Sox, Royals, and Orioles would be replaced by the top AAA teams: the LeHigh Valley IronPigs, the Memphis Redbirds, and the winner of a playoff between the Fresno Grizzlies and the El Paso Chihuahuas. It’s safe to say that promotion and relegation would mean there would be WAY more interesting team names in major league baseball!

Imagine how awesome it would be to live in/around Allentown, Pennsylvania — home to the LeHigh Valley IronPigs — and have the Yankees or Red Sox come to town to play in the 8300-seat Coca-Cola Park stadium?

AL/NLDivTeamWL
AL
EastRed Sox10854
ALWestAstros10359
ALEastYankees10062
ALWestAthletics9765
NLCentralBrewers9667
NLCentralCubs9568
NLWestDodgers9271
ALCentralIndians9172
NLWestRockies9172
ALEastRays9072
NLEastBraves9072
ALWestMariners8973
NLCentralCardinals8874
NLCentralPirates8279
NLEastNationals8280
NLWestD’backs8280
ALWestAngels8082
NLEastPhillies8082
ALCentralTwins7884
NLEastMets7785
ALEastBlue Jays7389
NLWestGiants7389
ALWestRangers6795
NLCentralReds6795
NLWestPadres6696
ALCentralTigers6498
NLEastMarlins6398
ALCentralWhite Sox62100
ALCentralRoyals58104
ALEastOrioles47115

AAA – 2018

Triple-A teams in 2019 would be visiting 40k-seat stadiums when they play the White Sox, Royals, and Orioles in 2019. While that could mean a massive impact for those teams, it would also mean that ticket prices could get a lot more affordable in those cities!

The Buffalo Bisons, the Sacramento River Cats, and the Iowa Cubs would all get relegated from AAA to AA for the 2019 season. They’d be replaced by three teams getting promoted from AA: the Corpus Christi Hooks, the Biloxi Shuckers, and the Altoona Curve.

The end of the 2018 AAA season would have included the most lucrative baseball game – a tiebreak playoff to determine whether the Fresno Grizzlies or El Paso Chihuahuas would be the final team promoted to the major leagues in 2019. What a game that could be, with tens of millions of dollars (or more) on the line for the winner!

TeamWLPctAffiliate
Lehigh Valley
IronPigs
84560.600Phillies
Memphis
Redbirds
83570.593Cardinals
Fresno
Grizzlies

*tiebreak
82570.590Astros
El Paso
Chihuahuas

*tiebreak
82570.590Padres
Durham
Bulls
79600.568Rays
Oklahoma City
Dodgers
75650.536Dodgers
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre
RailRiders
73650.529Yankees
Toledo
Mud Hens
73660.525Tigers
Colorado Springs
Sky Sox
73660.525Brewers
Columbus
Clippers
73670.521Indians
Indianapolis
Indians
73670.521Pirates
Nashville
Sounds
72680.514Athletics
Reno Aces72680.514D’backs
Salt Lake
Bees
71680.511Angels
Las Vegas
51s
71690.507Mets
Gwinnett
Stripers
70690.504Braves
New Orleans
Baby Cakes
69700.496Marlins
Norfolk
Tides
69710.493Orioles
Pawtucket
Red Sox
66730.475Red Sox
Tacoma
Rainiers
66730.475Mariners
Omaha Storm
Chasers
66740.471Royals
Round Rock
Express
65730.471Rangers
Charlotte
Knights
64750.460White Sox
Rochester
Red Wings
64760.457Twins
Syracuse
Chiefs
64760.457Nationals
Albuquerque
Isotopes
63770.450Rockies
Louisville
Bats
61760.445Reds
Buffalo
Bisons
61770.442Blue Jays
Sacramento
River Cats
55850.393Giants
Iowa Cubs50880.362Cubs

AA – 2018

The Buffalo Bisons, Sacramento River Cats, and Iowa Cubs would be relegated to AA baseball in 2019, as the Corpus Christi Hooks, Biloxi Shuckers, and Altoona Curve get promoted to AAA.

On the bottom end of the table, the three teams getting relegated from AA to A (Advanced) baseball for 2019 would be the Springfield Cardinals, the Frisco RoughRiders, and the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp. These teams would be replaced by the top 2018 A (Advanced) teams: the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, the Winston-Salem Dash, and the Buies Creek Astros.

TeamWLPctAffiliate
Corpus
Christi
Hooks
82560.594Astros
Biloxi
Shuckers
81590.579Brewers
Altoona
Curve
78600.565Pirates
Trenton
Thunder
79610.564Yankees
Montgomery
Biscuits
79610.564Rays
Akron
RubberDucks
78620.557Indians
New Hampshire
Fisher Cats
76620.551Blue Jays
Jackson
Generals
75640.540D’backs
Tulsa
Drillers
74650.532Dodgers
Harrisburg
Senators
72650.526Nationals
San Antonio
Missions
71670.514Padres
Arkansas
Travelers
71680.511Mariners
Pensacola
Blue Wahoos
69680.504Reds
Northwest
Arkansas
Naturals
70700.500Royals
Midland
RockHounds
68710.489Athletics
Bowie
Baysox
67710.486Orioles
Tennessee
Smokies
67710.486Cubs
Mississippi
Braves
67710.486Braves
Mobile
BayBears
66700.485Angels
Birmingham
Barons
66720.478White Sox
Hartford
Yard
Goats
65720.474Rockies
Chattanooga
Lookouts
65720.474Twins
Reading
Fightin
Phils
64730.467Phillies
Binghampton
Rumble
Ponies
64760.457Mets
Portland
Sea
Dogs
63760.453Red Sox
Erie
SeaWolves
63770.450Tigers
Richmond
Flying
Squirrels
62760.449Giants
Springfield
Cardinals
60790.432Cardinals
Frisco
RoughRiders
60800.429Rangers
Jacksonville
Jumbo
Shrimp
55820.401Marlins

A (Advanced) – 2018

In 2019 the Springfield Cardinals, the Frisco RoughRiders, and the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp would all play in A (Advanced) baseball, replacing the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, the Winston-Salem Dash, and the Buies Creek Astros.

Three A (Advanced) teams would get relegated to A baseball in 2019: the Florida Fire Frogs, the St. Lucie Mets, and either the San Jose Giants or the Down East Wood Ducks. Again, since the San Jose Giants and the Down East Wood Ducks finished the season with the same record, they’d need to play a tiebreak game to determine which team stayed in the A (Advanced) league for the 2019 season.

Getting promoted to A (Advanced) baseball in 2019 would be the Bowling Green Hot Rods, the Lakewood BlueClaws, and the Quad City River Bandits.

TeamWLPctAffiliate
Rancho
Cucamonga
Quakes
87530.621Dodgers
Winston-
Salem
Dash
84540.609White Sox
Buies
Creek
Astros
80570.584Astros
Palm
Beach
Cardinals
75580.564Cardinals
Clearwater
Threshers
77600.562Phillies
Stockton
Ports
77630.550Athletics
Potomac
Nationals
74620.544Nationals
Charlotte
Stone
Crabs
74620.544Rays
Lakeland
Flying
Tigers
72610.541Tigers
Jupiter
Hammerheads
70640.522Marlins
Lynchburg
Hillcats
71660.518Indians
Daytona
Tortugas
69660.511Reds
Tampa
Tarpons
70670.511Yankees
Dunedin
Blue Jays
69680.504Blue Jays
Visalia
Rawhide
70700.500D’backs
Lancaster
JetHawks
70700.500Rockies
Fort
Myers
Miracle
68690.496Twins
Lake
Elsinore
Storm
68720.486Padres
Wilmington
Blue
Rocks
68720.486Royals
Inland
Empire
66ers
67730.479Angels
Frederick
Keys
65720.474Orioles
Carolina
Mudcats
65730.471Brewers
Salem
Red Sox
63750.457Red Sox
Modesto
Nuts
62780.443Mariners
Myrtle
Beach
Pelicans
61780.439Cubs
Bradenton
Marauders
56740.431Pirates
San Jose
Giants
*tiebreak
59810.421Giants
Down East
Wood Ducks
*tiebreak
59810.421Rangers
St. Lucie
Mets
54760.415Mets
Florida
Fire Frogs
51800.389Braves

A – 2018

Finally, in A baseball in 2019 the Florida Fire Frogs, the St. Lucie Mets, and either the San Jose Giants or Down East Wood Ducks would be replacing the Bowling Green Hot Rods, the Lakewood BlueClaws, and the Quad City River Bandits.

The bottom three A baseball teams in 2018 would get relegated to the next tier down: the Dayton Dragons, the Hagerstown Suns, and the Burlington Bees. They would be replaced by the top three teams from the next tier down.

Frankly, below A baseball gets to be… less neatly structured than A baseball and above. So I’m going to stop this thought experiment here. But it could easily be continued further down to lower tiers of baseball.

TeamWLPctAffiliate
Bowling
Green
Hot Rods
90490.647Rays
Lakewood
BlueClaws
87510.630Phillies
Quad City
River
Bandits
81590.579Astros
Lansing
Lugnuts
80600.571Blue Jays
Lexington
Legends
76600.559Royals
Cedar
Rapids
Kernels
77620.554Twins
Peoria
Chiefs
76630.547Cardinals
Kannapolis
Intimidators
74630.540White Six
West
Virginia
Power
71620.534Pirates
Kane
County
Cougars
72660.522D’backs
Rome
Braves
71650.522Braves
Delmarva
Shorebirds
68660.507Orioles
Hickory
Crawdads
70680.507Rangers
Beloit
Snappers
69690.500Athletics
West
Michigan
Whitecaps
69700.496Tigers
Clinton
LumberKings
69700.496Mariners
Wisconsin
Timber
Rattlers
68710.489Brewers
Augusta
GreenJackets
67700.489Giants
Columbia
Fireflies
64700.478Mets
Charleston
RiverDogs
64720.471Yankees
Asheville
Tourists
64730.467Rockies
Fort
Wayne
TinCaps
64740.464Padres
South
Bend
Cubs
64740.464Cubs
Greenville
Drive
64750.460Red Sox
Greensboro
Grasshoppers
60760.441Marlins
Great
Lakes
Loons
60770.438Dodgers
Lake
County
Captains
60790.432Indians
Dayton
Dragons
58800.420Reds
Hagerstown
Suns
52810.391Nationals
Burlington
Bees
50840.373Angels

MLB teams & affiliate performance

Since every major league baseball team is affiliated to one team in every tier of minor league baseball, I thought it would be interesting to analyze both that team’s performance and the performance of its’ affiliates. Check out the table below – the numbers are the placing (1 out of 30) for that major league teams’ affiliate in that league.

The first stand-out team is the Houston Astros. Not only were the Astros themselves in the top 3 of major league baseball, but three out of four of their affiliates would have been promoted to the next league up. The final team would have made it to the AAA playoff and potentially made it to the major leagues, too. I don’t know enough about baseball to understand the full relationships between a team, its affiliates, and affiliate performance, but what the Astros did in 2018 is remarkable.

The Astros could be compared to the Red Sox — while the Red Sox had the #1 record and won the World Series in 2018, all of their affiliates were in the bottom half of their leagues. This could potentially be a concern for the Red Sox. (I’m honestly not sure!)

However, the San Francisco Giants are tied for perhaps the worst record across all major league teams. The Giants themselves were in the bottom third of the major league, and their top-ranked affiliate finished #18 out of 30. One of the Giants’ affiliates would have been relegated, a second would be in a playoff to avoid relegation, and a third would have just missed the cutoff for relegation. Ouch!

The Texas Rangers is about even with the Giants for the worst record, though. Like the Giants, one of their affiliates would have been relegated, and another affiliate would be in a playoff (with the Giants) to avoid relegation. Not only that but their major league team finished one place behind the Giants, and their top-ranked affiliate finished #13 out of 30. Again… ouch!

LeagueDivisionTeamMLBAAAAAA(Adv)A
ALEastRed Sox119252324
ALEastYankees3741320
ALEastRays105581
ALEastBlue Jays21287144
ALEastOrioles3018162112
ALCentralIndians81061127
ALCentralTwins192422176
ALCentralTigers26826915
ALCentralWhite Sox28232028
ALCentralRoyals292114195
ALWestAstros23*133
ALWestAthletics41215614
ALWestMariners1220122416
ALWestAngels1714192030
ALWestRangers23222928*13
NLEastBraves1116183011
NLEastNationals152510729
NLEastPhillies1812352
NLEastMets2015242919
NLEastMarlins2717301025
NLCentralBrewers5922217
NLCentralCubs630172523
NLCentralCardinals1322847
NLCentralPirates14113269
NLCentralReds2427131228
NLWestDodgers769126
NLWestRockies926211621
NLWestD’backs161381510
NLWestGiants22292728*18
NLWestPadres253*111822

Summary

Yes, this whole post is a thought experiment. It’s not something that could be implemented easily (the owners would just block it), or efficiently. Rebalancing geographically, the idea that a major league team could be competing with an affiliate team that it runs/controls, the vast economic differences between the major leagues and minor leagues and what that means for revenue sharing are all reason why this isn’t feasible. (Not to mention that there are more minor league teams than just those affiliated with major league baseball — I only focused on MLB affiliate minor league teams because it was the easiest data set to analyze.)

But damn, wouldn’t it just be a lot more fun to have promotion and relegation in baseball? I’d love to see the Red Sox play in a 8300-seat stadium. I’d love the idea that if a team kicks ass they get to play better teams the next year. I’d love, love, love the idea that if a team is too bad they get kicked down into a lower division. Like in English football, the best end of season games wouldn’t just come from the top teams fighting for a championship, but also the bottom teams trying to stay in their league.

Who’s with me?

Election 2018 – How I accidentally became a “bundler”

The most recent blog post here was me talking about a little ActBlue page I had set up to make it easier to donate to a number of critical House of Representatives races all at once – the “Tossup Twenty”.  I primarily built it as a way of making it easier for me to donate to these campaigns – sharing it with others was an afterthought.

Why?  I believe that Republicans need to get kicked out of Congress for gross incompetence.  They tried to destroy the healthcare system for tens of millions of Americans with no plan to address it.  In the height of an economic boom, they passed a tax cut that will cost the economy trillions… completely backwards to how governments should work.  (cut taxes in hard times to grow, increase taxes in good times to build reserves)

So I built the “Tossup Twenty” page, and shared it twice each on Twitter and Facebook – not expecting much to come out of it.  But lo and behold, anyone can become a bundler!  Using the page I set up I ended up raising $8358 from ~30 people.  Except for one person, I’d never met or talked to anyone that donated via my page.

What I’ve learned from this is twofold:

  1. there’s value in making your own judgments and helping people make a bigger (or more specific) impact.  I think it was useful for others to quickly donate to a bunch of close races, but aggregating which ones wasn’t easy.
  2. people will donate even without any connection.  I had assumed this page would be a personal tool since I didn’t know many people that would donate to a page that hadn’t tried to specifically sell them.  I was wrong!

I now have a benchmark and plan to do a lot more in the runup to the 2020 elections.  And I hope to get some data on the costs of running races in various districts (based on media markets) to help make even more careful choices.

For posterity, here are all the candidates in the “Tossup Twenty” – I’ll be updating how their races turn out, so be sure to check back!

Candidate (District) Election Eve – 538 Likelihood Result?
Dean Phillips (MN-03) 85% WIN!
Katie Porter (CA-45) 83% WIN!
Tom Malinowski (NJ-07) 78% WIN!
Elissa Slotkin (MI-08) 67% WIN!
Kim Schrier (WA-08) 67% WIN!
Jared Golden (ME-02) 64% WIN!
Paul Davis (KS-02) 62% lost
Antonio Delgado (NY-19) 61% WIN!
Gil Cisneros (CA-39) 58% WIN!
Dan Feehan (MN-01) 56% lost
Andy Kim (NJ-03) 55% WIN!
Lizzie Fletcher (TX-07) 52% WIN!
Dan McCready (NC-09) 47% TBD – crazy (!)
Leslie Cockburn (VA-05) 46% lost
Amy McGrath (KY-06) 46% lost
Kara Eastman (NE-02) 42% lost
Danny O’Connor (OH-12) 35% lost
Brendan Kelly (IL-12) 28% lost
Aftab Pureval (OH-01) 20% lost
Joe Radinovich (MN-08) 19% lost

On an end note (for the record) there are a few other races I particularly care about:

Michigan Secretary of State – Jocelyn Benson is the only choice in this race.  She’s super-qualified, having literally written the book on the job of Secretary of State.  Also – she’s a marathoner and competed in the Boston Marathon while 8 months pregnant — can you say “badass”? — SHE WON!

Minnesota Attorney General – Keith Ellison has to be the choice in this race.  Yes, there are allegations about him that shouldn’t be brushed aside.  But his opponent – Doug Wardlow – is an a**hole.  I was in school with him for years, and he’s always been an a**hole.  He would be a travesty for justice in the state of Minnesota. — HE WON!

Texas Senate – Beto O’Rourke.  If Beto loses, I hope he runs for President in 2020 because he has a way of communicating issues that really resonates with me, and those messages need to be heard as the Democrats nominate a Presidential candidate in 2020.  I don’t have a view on if he could or should win the nomination — but what he says and how he says it would be invaluable to the rest of the field.  (Also, he’s running against Ted Cruz and I love the Al Franken line: “Here’s the thing you have to understand about Ted Cruz.  I like Ted Cruz more than most of my other colleagues like Ted Cruz. And I hate Ted Cruz.”) — he lost

 

The Toss-up Twenty – please donate!

tl;dr – please donate to the Toss-up Twenty candidates for Congress

I’ve got a cast on my hand and it’s hard to type, so I’m going to make this short.  The current Republican party is corrupt to its core, with it’s elected members only serving themselves personally and their party, while not giving a crap about their constituents.

The best way to start changing this is for the US to elect more Democrats than Republicans to the House of Representatives on Election Day: November 6, 2018.  That is just a short 68 days away!

A Democratic-controlled Congress will rein in ethics abuses and corruption that Republicans have let flourish, address healthcare costs and access, and try to fix the growing divide between the wealthy and average Americans.

There are twenty seats that could easily tip the balance (or not) for Democratic control of the US House this fall.  They’re all “toss-up” races per the FiveThirtyEight House forecast.  (Which I used because I really like 538’s approach to forecasting.)

I’ve created an ActBlue page that lets you donate to all 20 of these Democratic candidates at once.  Every single dollar helps!  It will pay for texts to potential voters, phone lines to contact voters, staff to organize volunteers, advertising and more.  Your money has the biggest bang for its buck in these “toss-up twenty” races, where Every. Single. One. could decide the fate of Congress.

So please check out the Toss-up Twenty ActBlue donation page, and donate what you can to turning the House blue this November.