The analogy, as presented by the Heritage Foundation, goes like this:
— The median family income in the United States is $52,000 . . .
— If they spent money like the federal government, they would spend $64,000 a year . . .
— Which would mean they would put $12,000 on credit cards every year . . .
— Despite already being $312,000 in debt.
It’s a powerful comparison, and one that brings federal spending into sharp focus. Clearly, this is not a sustainable economic model. But, as the Washington Post points out, it’s also not truly accurate. The Post decides to call our typical family the Smiths, and they raise the following points:
— The Smiths would spend 20 percent of their budget, or $12,800 each year, on an arsenal of guns, tanks and drones to defend their house against threats or to invade the occasional neighbor over lawn-pesticide disputes and access to the gas station.
— The Smiths would spend another third of their income financing retirement and health care for Grandma and Grandpa. Part of that would have been prepaid by money that Grandma and Grandpa socked away while they were working, but some of it would be paid for by the parents and kids who are chipping in.
— Actually, come to think of it, the Smiths spend nearly half their money — 43 percent — operating a massive insurance conglomerate whose main beneficiaries are family members.
— The Smiths, by the way, own their own printing press. For whatever reason, it’s totally legal for them to print more money, although they have to be selective about this. This makes it very unlikely that they’d ever default.
There are some other comparisons, as well, leading to this conclusion about the federal spending/single family analogy: “The U.S. federal government really does resemble your typical money-printing family that owns lots of tanks, operates a giant insurance conglomerate, can borrow money at extremely low rates, and is assumed to be immortal.”]]>
First, I wanted a bit of a light-hearted way to introduce myself to readers.
The second week, I hoped to avoid writing about the CRC again, because there are other things going on in our community. Well, that didn’t happen. Instead, I came out of the closet regarding my feelings about light rail.
Last week, I wrote about Ashton Kutcher. Which is either a high point or a low point in my journalism career, depending upon your perspective.]]>
In 2003, you see, I drove to Lincoln City, Ore., to watch Tonya Harding in a “boxing” match. You can read about that here. But the most memorable part of the evening involved Butterbean, boxing’s heralded King of the Four Rounders.
The boxing card was at the Chinook Winds Casino, and Chinook Winds’ idea of a media work room was to stuff the reporters into a meeting room across the hall from the ballroom that served as the makeshift boxing arena. After the Harding fight, the reporters repaired to their “work room,” only to find that it also was being used as Butterbean’s dressing room.
He was famous by that time, a boxing novelty act adored by the public for his everyman persona. Well, if every man was bald and weighed 400 pounds or so.
So, while we were busy working on stories about the local novelty that was Harding, Butterbean was busy preparing for his fight with a little shadow boxing. Trying to wax lyrically on deadline to a soundtrack of PFFFT-UGH-PFFFT-SHHHPP-PFFFT isn’t the easiest task in the world, but, hey, we’re trained professionals.
Anyway, Butterbean is warming up, and making small talk with reporters, and sitting down at our table to autograph a stack of 8-by-10 glossy photos, and he comes across as just about the most personable and engaging world-famous 400-pounder who beats people up that I’ve ever shared a dressing room with.
Moments later, Butterbean walks across the hall to the arena to be greeted by copious cheers. We can hear the introductions and the bell and the sounds of the fight:
“AND THE WINNER, AT 54 SECONDS OF THE FIRST ROUND . . . BUTTERBEAN!”
And then he came back, engaging as ever and none the worse for wear.
I was reminded of all that a couple weeks ago, when Sports Illustrated included a feature about Butterbean in its “Where Are They Now?” issue. He’s back in Alabama, returning to the roots that sprouted one of the most unlikely boxing careers in history, and he sounds just as likable as he was 10 years ago.]]>
MINNEAPOLIS – As a smiling Shabazz Muhammad stood on the Target Center stage Friday clutching his No. “0″ Timberwolves jersey — a number he selected because nobody else in the NBA wears it — the guy who thrives on being the center of attention appeared to be relishing every minute of his first full day as a professional.
Last we checked, the reigning Rookie of the Year wears No. 0.]]>
Originally published in The Columbian on June 27, 2007:
Thirty-three years after being anointed the first savior of the Trail Blazers, on the eve of the arrival of the next franchise player, Bill Walton feels the need to apologize.
“I have a special place in my heart for my time in Portland,” the basketball Hall of Famer said. “I just wish it could have been longer, more successful, more efficient.
“They have the greatest fans in the world. I just hope they can find it in their hearts to forgive me, after I treated them with a lack of human decency.”
Um, er, no worries about that.
Even though Walton sat out the 1978-79 season in protest of the Blazers’ medical practices, even though he sued the franchise, even though he left the club as a free agent under a cloud of discord and disharmony, Walton is hailed as the singular icon of Portland’s pinnacle.
He was, after all, the catalyst of the 1977 championship team.
So as the Blazers enter a new era today with the selection of the first pick in the NBA draft, it’s instructive to look back to when Walton was the No. 1 selection in the 1974 draft.
“It’s a totally different world,” Walton said in a phone interview. “There were no physicals in those days. There were no tryouts. They just watched you play in college.”
My, how times have changed. These days, we have private workouts and statistical evaluations and a battalion of scouts to help teams determine which player to draft. These days, a process once rife with rustic charm is big, big business.
“I had a representative to negotiate my contract,” Walton said. “The only thing I wanted is to make sure it was written in my contract that nobody can tell me when to cut my hair, and nobody can tell me when to shave. I wanted that in there.”
That, perhaps, could be the anecdote that best defines the young iconoclast that was Bill Walton. Well, if it weren’t for this one:
“There was no publicity about the draft in those days,” Walton recalled. “I was backpacking in Tahquitz Canyon (just outside Palm Springs, Calif.), one of the sacred spots on earth. I came out of the mountains to get some supplies, and the guy there says, ‘Hey, Bill, you were just drafted by Portland.’ ”
That’s a far cry from the dog-and-pony show that will be today’s NBA draft. The Blazers are throwing a party for fans at the Rose Garden. The top picks will be in New York. The selections will be scrutinized and dissected by media all over the country.
And while Walton avoids declaring which player the Blazers should take, insisting that, “There are people who get paid a lot of money to make that decision,” he does offer this about likely No. 1 pick Greg Oden: “He’s a winner. He’s won everywhere he’s gone.”
So perhaps Walton can see a little bit of himself in the center from Ohio State. Perhaps he can envision the second coming of a Blazers championship. Perhaps he can live vicariously through an era that could be longer, more successful and more efficient than the one he enjoyed in Portland.
“Go, Blazers, go,” Walton said. “Historic. Monumental. Epic. That is an understatement to the Nth degree.
“I’m the proudest Blazer.”
And after a declaration such as that, there’s probably no reason to apologize.]]>
This is a column I never wanted to write, but knew that someday I would.
Roger Alan Jayne — coach, friend, mentor, role model, and all-around good guy — died Wednesday. He was my father.
Now, this might not seem to have much to do with sports. Until you consider all the years he spent coaching youth baseball. And all the hours he spent shuttling kids to practices and games. And all the times he patted a kid on the back or took an interest in their lives or in some small way helped them navigate the journey to adulthood.
In this regard, he was similar to thousands of parents out there. He wasn’t famous or wealthy or prone to self-promotion. But if the measure of a man can be found in the company he keeps and the friendships he develops, he was the richest man I ever met.
I have been reminded of this over the years. Countless times. In the way that many of his friends held that status for more than 60 years. And in the way that people with whom I went to school would constantly ask about him.
Seemingly every time I would run into somebody from my childhood, even somebody I didn’t know particularly well, they would ask how my dad was doing. They would remember him from Little League, or from Cub Scouts, or from the fact that he played the Sheriff for several years at our grade-school carnival.
There was nobody more perfectly suited to play the Sheriff at a grade-school carnival than my dad. He had an innate silliness — his favorite word was “balderdash” — that allowed him to inhabit a role without a hint of self-consciousness.
Maybe that’s how I got roped into playing a clown at the age of 5 at some festival or another, in full clown makeup, right alongside him. My parents had a picture of the two of us in our clown getups. I always loved that picture.
Ours was the kind of house that was the neighborhood hangout, the gathering place for my friends and I. From the youthful days of board games and backyard baseball, to the early adult years of drinking beer and watching sports, our house was the center of the neighborhood.
My dad was the primary reason for that. As one of my friends wrote: “Your Dad was a really wonderful, big-hearted person. He made the world a better place. He had a special way of making each person he encountered feel they were important. That’s a gift.”
It wasn’t until years later that I recognized how this extended to all facets of his life.
One of his most cherished endeavors was spending the summer volunteering at a Kiwanis camp for handicapped children. Over time, it has become one of my most cherished memories of him, as well.
It’s interesting how your perspective of your parents can change over the years. They start out larger than life, and then they seem human, and then they are larger than life again. And there’s nothing that brings them into sharper focus than when you have your own children.
For me, the arrival of my first offspring suddenly gave me a little understanding of my parents’ love for me. It suddenly gave me a little understanding of why my dad spent all those hours playing catch in the backyard or hitting groundballs at the park.
It wasn’t simply about making me a better baseball player; it was about making me a better person, about spending time talking and being a role model.
For my father and I, that connection came through sports. For others, it might come through music or art or camping or Scouts. Regardless of the method, the connection is real, and it lasts a lifetime.
So here’s the obituary for my father, Roger Alan Jayne: He was loved; he will be missed.
Greg Jayne is Sports editor of The Columbian. He can be reached at 360-735-4531, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. To read his blog, go to columbian.com/section/GregJayne]]>
Here’s one of my favorite pieces I’ve ever written. It’s from 2004, and it’s about the journey of a local woman who played volleyball at the University of Nevada but found her life to be empty and without meaning. That’s when it took a most unusual turn. Here’s the link.]]>
On Wednesday, King Felix allowed four hits, no walks and no earned runs in eight innings while striking out 12, yet ended up with no decision. He left with the score tied 1-1 in a game the Tigers eventually won 2-1 in 14 innings. What does a guy have to do to get a win? (Well, here’s one way: Monday he allowed no runs in six innings).
Given the Mariners’ woeful offense of the past couple years, Hernandez is probably used to a dreadful lack of support. But, man, that would get old. (FYI, since 2009, the Mariners have averaged 3.6 runs in Felix’s starts, and 3.6 when somebody else starts).
Anyway, last week’s game led me to do some quick research on Felix:
Hernandez allowed one run Wednesday, and it was unearned. I didn’t catch the play, but I heard the TV announcers saying later that it was questionable to charge shortstop Brendan Ryan with an error on the play that eventually led to the run.
Which brings up a question: Do Seattle’s scorekeepers protect Felix? Starting with 2009, Hernandez has allowed 353 runs, with 305 of those being earned. That means 13.6 percent of his runs allowed have been unearned. During that same period, 7.9 percent of all runs scored in the major leagues have been unearned.
That’s a pretty significant difference, with Felix’s percentage of unearned runs being much higher than average. But can it be attributed to the Safeco Field scorekeepers? The answer is no.
Since the beginning of the 2009 season, Hernandez has allowed 167 runs at Safeco, and 8.4 percent of those have been unearned. In contrast, a whopping 18.3 percent of his runs allowed on the road have been unearned.
Hernandez’s ERA might be getting a boost from the scorekeepers, but it’s not from the ones in his own park.]]>
So, yeah, the guy is a basketball savant. But that’s not the most important history that Durant is about to make.
Durant is about to become the third player in history to lead the league in points but not lead his team in field-goal attempts. He’s not going to win his fourth straight scoring title (highest average); Carmelo Anthony is going to capture that crown, unless Durant can manage 46 points while Anthony goes scoreless on the final day of the season. But Durant is going to lead the league in points, because Anthony has missed 14 games.
And he’s going to do that despite having taken 1,433 field-goal attempts. That’s a lot of shots; it’s the fourth-most in the league. Yet teammate Russell Westbrook has taken 1,530 shots, the second-most in the league.
Hey, when you’re making 44 percent of them, why not? Seriously. Why not shoot instead of passing to the most gifted scorer of his generation? Consider this: Per 36 minutes, Westbrook is averaging 19.3 shots; Durant is averaging 16.5 shots.
That should never, ever, ever happen if Kevin Durant is on your team. If LeBron James was on Durant’s team, James would be the best player, but he would use his talents to set up Durant and Durant would take the most shots. There’s no question about this.
But, hey, when you’re making 44 percent . . .
All of that is important. It’s not important that Durant is or isn’t going to win the scoring title. It’s important that he has a point guard who is a wondrous athlete and a terrific basketball player yet has no idea about what a point guard is supposed to do.
I haven’t seen any statistics on this, but I’m guessing that Westbrook leads the league in no-pass possessions. The guy has made an art form out of taking the inbounds pass, dribbling down the floor, and creating and taking his own shot. And he makes 44 percent of them.
The Thunder are the defending Western Conference champions; they have wrapped up the No. 1 seed in the West for this year’s playoffs; they have legitimate title aspirations. But they’re never going to get there as long as Russell Westbrook plays as if he’s the Alpha Dog on the team.
Right before the start of the season, OKC traded James Harden, a gifted scorer and the smartest player in the league. Harden routinely good smart decisions on the court, and he is a lethal fourth-quarter player. He knows when to pass; he makes the pass that leads to the pass; he gets to the line; and he knows when to shoot. He understands that championship basketball requires selflessness, but the Thunder had to trade him because of a salary crunch created, in part, because they locked up Westbrook with a huge five-year deal that kicked in this year.
But if Westbrook keeps jacking up shots and being the master of the no-pass possession during the playoffs, OKC is going to come to the realization it signed the wrong guard. The Thunder would be better off with Harden instead of Westbrook.
— By the way, the players to shoot 50-40-90 for a season: Reggie Miller, Mark Price, Steve Nash, Dirk Nowitzki, and Larry Bird (the NBA instituted the 3-point shot for the 1979-80 season). And the only players to lead the league in points but not lead their team in field-goal attempts are Paul Pierce in 2001-02 and Neil Johnston in 1954-55.]]>
Interesting work, as usual, from Joe Posnanski as he takes a position-by-position look at players who have been voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame over the years by the writers. How have the standards changed? Which positions receive favoritism? What are the differences between players voted in by writers and those selected by the various Veterans Committees? Things like that.
Today’s installment looks at shortstops who have been selected and the candidacy of Alan Trammell. One fascinating fact that Posnanski doesn’t mention is that the Tigers haven’t had a Hall of Fame player since Al Kaline retired in 1974. Not a single one. Not even anybody who came up with Detroit or went there at the end of his career but spent his prime with another franchise. They had Sparky Anderson as their manager, but no Hall of Fame players.
In his introduction to the series, Posnanski writes: “Just a few days ago, I wrote about how I really wished the Hall of Fame had this ‘inner circle,’ you know, this Hall of Fame within a Hall of Fame, that separates the Willie Mayses and Babe Ruths and Hank Aarons and Walter Johnsons from the Jesse Haines and High Pockets Kellys and Tom Yawkeys and Candy Cummings and others you either didn’t know were in the Hall of Fame or didn’t care.”
Bill James posited this idea years ago, and I don’t like it. The problem is that it eventually would be diluted, just as the regular Hall of Fame has been. Is Carl Yastrzemski an “inner circle” Hall of Famer? How about Ken Griffey Jr. when he gets in? He’s probably the fifth-best center field in history; is that good enough for the “inner circle”? What about Mel Ott, the fourth-best right fielder in history?
If you include only players who are considered candidates for the best player ever at a position, then years ago Pie Traynor would have been included. Now, that would appear ludicrous.
But, as Posnanski further explains, there already are two Hall of Fames: That chosen by the writers and that chosen by the Veterans Committee with their excruciatingly lower standards.
Much of that can be traced to Frankie Frisch (as explained in James’ book, “Whatever Happened to the Hall of Fame?”), who lorded over the Veterans Committee for much of the 1970s and seemingly made it his mission to get all of his former teammates inducted.
But I digress. Anyway, Posnanski provides a good look at the modern Hall of Fame candidates and how they stack up to history.]]>