Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The New Look MLB Leaderboards


Have you checked the MLB active leaderboards on baseball-reference lately?  Take a good look this week because by the start of the 2014 season, many names will be absent from the lists.

Todd Helton's name will be the most conspicuous by its absence on the top 10 of most offensive statistics.  Factor in the suspension of Miguel Tejada, and the most likely retirement of Jason Giambi, Lance Berkman and Manny Ramirez and the set of names on the top ten leaderboards for offense becomes a bit surprising at first glance.  (Who thought Adrian Beltre was this high on the lists. He's quietly having a pretty good career)

Here is what the leaderboards MIGHT look like at the start of 2014 with each players' debut year. Scary thought when you consider that a good number of players debuted this century! 

PLATE APPEARANCES

1995  Jeter (39)           11968
1994  A-Rod (37)        11336
1998  Beltre (34)           9359
2001  Suzuki (39)          9265
1997  Konerko (37)       9265
1998  Beltran (36)         8937
2000  Rollins (34)         8877
2000  Young (36)          8599
2001  Pujols (33)          8546
2000  Hunter (37)         8526

RUNS


A-Rod                 1919
Jeter                    1876
Pujols                  1425
Beltran                1345
Suzuki                1260
Rollins                1244
Ortiz (37)           1203
Beltre                 1172
Hunter                1158
Konerko             1146

HITS

Jeter                   3316
A-Rod               2939
Suzuki               2738
Beltre                2419
Young                2374
Pujols                2347
Konerko            2295
Beltran              2226
Pierre (35)         2216
Rollins               2169

HOMERUNS

A-Rod                    654
Pujols                    492
Dunn (33)              438
Konerko                433
Ortiz                      430
Soriano                 406
Beltre                    374
Cabrera (30)         365
Beltran                  358
A-Ramirez (35)    354

DOUBLES

Jeter                   525
Pujols                524
A-Rod               519
Ortiz                  519
Beltre                493
Soriano             465
Rollins              454
Beltran              445
A-Ramirez        441
Young               440

TOTAL BASES


A-Rod          5480
Jeter             4739
Pujols           4377
Beltre           4094
Konerko       4012
Beltran         3899
Ortiz            3862
Soriano        3787
Hunter         3623
A-Ramirez   3590

RBI

A-Rod          1969
Pujols           1498
Ortiz             1424
Konerko       1389
Beltran         1327
Beltre           1304
A-Ramirez   1276
Jeter             1261
Cabrera        1260
Hunter         1226

WALKS
Dunn           1245
A-Rod         1238
Ortiz            1085
Pujols          1067
Jeter             1047
Beltran         933
Konerko       910
Carlos Pena  813
Cabrera        799
Teixeira        754

Monday, September 23, 2013

FINAL Summer Recap - JUNE 21st thru Sept 22nd

Now that summer is official over, let's compare the actual days of this summer (full days: June 21st through September 22nd) to summers of the past. Maybe this final assessment will answer a few questions and dispel some perceptions that most of us had about this summer.

1. Was this summer as cool as what we thought?

2. Was the summer of 2013 one of the rainiest?

3. How did this summer rank when compared to recent summers?


I chose to compare 2013 to each summer since 1973 since a 40 year period is more recent in our memory. Since 1973 (last 41 summers), the summer of 2013 ranked 12th warmest. (The summers of 2005, 2010, 2011 and 2012 were warmer)


Interestingly, 21 of the last 40 summers have been COOLER than this summer!

How about the number of days below 75 degrees over the last 40 years? Surely, this past summer ranks high on the list over the last 40 right?  Nope.  

2013 had 26 days below 75 degrees which ranks 20TH!

Rainfall was a different story this summer. Summer of 2013 ranked 10th ALL-TIME in rainfall.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Historical Colorado Flooding Continues


The amount of rain across north central Colorado has exceeded 12 inches over the last 7 days in many areas.



Boulder has beared the brunt of the massive rainfall. The Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network in Colorado had this to say about the historic rainfall for Boulder:

"Boulder's annual precipitation averages 20.68 inches, with an average of 1.68 inches in September. For September 1-13, the U.S. Cooperative Weather Station in Boulder has received 14.74 inches of rain. This nearly three times the previous monthly September record of 5.50 inches in 1940! This is also the wettest month ever on record for Boulder. The previous record was 9.59 inches in July 1995."


The CoCoRaHS cooperative network reported 24 location with more than a foot of rain from the 9th through the 14th.

Chart courtesy: http://www.cocorahs.org/Maps
 What's interesting about this flooding event is that a masive hail storm preceded it on the 9th

Photo Courtesy: Thedenverchannel.com
The river levels are not forecasted to fall below current levels for days. Moderate to extreme flooding will continue through the middle of the week. Below are the gauge reports from the Colorado Division of Water Resources.

Luckily, the 5 day rainfall forecast will give Colorado a significant break this week.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A Look back at 9/11 in 2013

The power of the images and videos from 9/11 can still be felt. We relived that day last year at the 10 year mark.  Last year at year 11 post 9/11 I edited my ten year retrospective. This year, I added some observations that I missed in the years since. YouTube is filled with graphic videos of that morning.

I would imagine at 20 years (2021), the day will still bring up the same emotions.  But like other traumatic events of the past like Pearl Harbor, the raw 9/11 memories are gradually fading--though never completely--into the background of our national consciousness.  Its takes time. I commented to my wife that most freshman in college really don't have solid memories of the events of that day in 2001 because they were 6 and 7 years old. They have grown up in a post 9/11 world. They know nothing else.

Below is my post from last year which recounts my 9/11 experience in the newsroom as the events unfolded.  I'll never forget it.

=======================================================================


My memory of 9/11 actually begins the night before. My wife and I were--let the cold shivers begin--planning a trip to visit her friend in New York City. We were on the web looking at maps of the city familiarizing ourselves with the locations of the tourist attractions in relation to where my wife's friend lived in Queens. At that time, never having traveled to New York City, the NYC street grid was as foreign to me as a city grid of Moscow.

I distinctly remember pointing to several spots on the map of Manhattan and Long Island that I wanted to check out on our trip. Queens, the Statue of Liberty, Central Park, Yankee Stadium, Greenwich Village and the World Trade Center. As we studied the map, I made mental snapshots of the region remembering how far Yankee Stadium was from the subway stop, etc. It was getting late that night. I had to get up to go to work at the local NBC affiliate the next day. I was the morning meteorologist at WSAZ in Huntington, West Virginia back then so I needed to get up at 3AM.

The morning of 9/11 started out as normal as any other day. Our morning show started at 5AM. The news was fairly typically. No outlandish stories. The weather was quiet. I remember a powerful hurricane off of the New England coast named Erin but that was heading away from land. This monster hurricane would be lost in the events of the day.
We had just finished our 8:35AM news cut-in before we "tossed" our morning news to The Today Show. About 8:40AM, The Today Show interrupted their segment to show one of the The World Trade Center Towers on fire. The in-studio monitors all showed the fire engulfing multiple floors. The fire was big. It captured our attention. But at the time, not one of us watching EVER thought this was linked to something bigger, more global and temporally far-reaching.

One of our camera operators and I commented that it looked like someone hit the building with a rocket launcher from a nearby rooftop. Our conversation was purely speculative, half contrived for the sake of conversation and at the time not a bit realistic. We went back and forth, as news people do, debating how a rocket launcher blast into the 100th floor of a skyscraper was more a subplot of a movie than a plausible real-life event. How could someone get a weapon through a building undetected we both said almost simultaneously? In the span of 15 seconds, we quickly dismissed it.

Our eyes were affixed to the monitors at 8:45AM. I was tense, rigid and more alert. So was my co-anchor.  I sat in the weather chair on the right side of the set, he said to my left. The minutes ticked by with no new information on the fire. Nothing was said but we knew that something was terribly wrong. We all quietly attempted to persuade ourselves that this was an accident. Some electrical fire. Some gas line rupture. Our hapless speculation of just 7 or 8 minutes ago seemed inappropriate. No one was speculating out loud.  Everyone was speculating to themselves.  The silence was speaking volumes in the tense air of the studio. Keep in mind at this time, we had no official word it was a jet airliner that hit The World Trade Towers.

A few minutes later, Matt Lauer and Katie Couric were scrambling to inform us that a plane just hit the second tower. This was LIVE TV! Eye-witness accounts were all they had. We all said a "few colorful words" filled with anger, frustration and horror. We were all stunned. We just listened. Total silence in the studio. No one said anything. No speculation.  No talk of Iraq. No commentary on military retaliation. No link to Al-Qaeda. No comparisons to Pearl Harbor. No War in Afghanistan. No WMDs.  Nothing prophetic. We sat and stood and watched as the events--whether we wanted them or not--became etched in our permanent memories.  The afterglow of the dot.com boom years was still fresh but fading. In no way did I think that these series of events would pervade our collective national consciousness for a YEAR or a decade or longer. At the time, no one did.

In breaking news situations in television, your body language changes from one of relaxation to one that conveys rigidity and alertness. Your adrenaline surges in controlled doses. Your ability to disseminate massive amounts of information increases while simultaneously conveying the basics of a story in an intelligible way on camera as if scripted. Time doesn't go by slow or fast. It becomes frozen. There is no "did I do this right?" or "Will the segment look okay?". You perform in the present ONLY. Your instincts take over. Only in hindsight do you fully grasp the story and its complexity.  Your experience becomes the foundation of your on-air instincts. That morning, all of our collective television experience and instinct served us perfectly. The morning of 9-11 was the same as another other 5AM show. Yet the tone of our broadcasts soon became dreadfully different than anything we had done before.

The newsroom was scrambling to record the national NBC feed along with all other news feeds from other sources that captured the newest video of what was happening. The news alert beeps were non-ending as more video was ready to be recorded. Remember that this was before non-linar computer editing so everything was recorded VCR style. You pushed a new tape in and hit the record button. The clanking of tapes into tape decks was deafening.   No real-time Youtube clips. No cell-phone video. No text messages. No real-time tweets. No Facebook updates. You waited at a tape deck rack for the satellite to "beam" you latest reel. Yet no one said "Al-Qaeda". No one said "Bin Laden". No one said "middle east terrorists".  No one had any opinion on the events unfolding before their eyes. That would change as I went into my boss's office for my 6 month review.

My boss--now a General Manager at another station--sat down with me shortly after 9AM.  We said a few things about my past 6 months work but he was only half paying attention. Ken, my boss--the best multitasker I've ever known--was attempting to carry on a meaningful conversation while flipping pages of my file on top of jotting down notes of the coverage on a yellow legal pad balanced on his knee. The ring of his phone every 20 seconds interrupted the chaotic convergence of his tasks. I sat patiently waiting for the whirl of papers above his desk to settle. The phone stopped ringing. His note pad resting on his desk at arm's reach. He paused for a moment, looked out his window into the newsroom then to the bank of TVs on his wall and said, "Its Bin Laden. Its Bin Laden." I said, "Who?". He repeated, "Bin Laden!" In 2001, the name "Osama Bin Laden" for most was unknown. Maybe a few remember him as architect of the USS Cole bombing in 2000. He was certainly not a household name.

My boss had the uncanny ability of having 20/20 hindsight vision...IN THE PRESENT. He could see events happen before they happened then project into the future what the effects the event would cause. This is what made him an innovative news director. Either you accepted his unearthly ability or you let it consume you personally.  After all, who is comfortable with their boss knowing what you would do before you would do it. So you believed in his vision. In the weeks ahead, my boss's prophetic realization became the most pivotal, surreal memory of that morning.

As the next plane hit the Pentagon followed by Flight 93 nose first into the field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, my review faded into the chaos of the morning. The rest of the day was a blur.  Normally I take a nap in the afternoon. I don't think I slept for more than 2 hours at a time for a week. National coverage continued as it would for a week uninterrupted even for commercials. The morning show was all 9/11. A few basic weather segments of 45 seconds or so but nothing more  No television shows. No entertainment. The focus was covering the aftermath of 9-11. Somehow at the time, it didn't seem enough.

By noon that day, most of the pieces began to fall into place. The two attacks in New York City at the World Trade Center. The collapse of both Trade Center towers. Another plane attack, this time into the Pentagon. The other foiled attack on The White House resulting in the crash in Shanksville, PA. All were connected.  Everyone knew life would be different from this point forward.

90 Degrees in September? A Brief History in Cleveland


I'll admit it. A few weeks back, I said we were pretty much done with the 90 degree temperatures. Here we are on September 10th and our 7th day above 90 is about to occur. Our forecast high of 92 would be the warmest September high temperature since September 10, 1983...exactly 30 years ago!

Our recent very warm summers have skewed our perceptions of what is considered an average summer. I've written about this multiple times this summer (check my posts from July and August on the Recency Effect).


Some statistical bullet points on September 90 degree temperatures:

*  This year would be the 4th in a row. 


*  Most of the time, 90 degree temperatures in September occur in the first two weeks of the     month. 

*  Only twice in the last 50 years has 90 occurred after September 20th. Once in 1998 and again in 2010.

50 YEAR HISTORY OF 90 DEGREE HEAT IN SEPTEMBER
90 degree heat AFTER September 10th is even more rare...


September heat occurred more frequently in the 1940s and 1950s.


So as you head to high school football games later this week, you can be assured that the 90 degree heat is probably history as we replace the 90s with 60s and 70s on a more frequent basis.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Near Record Low Hurricane Activity

 

As of this writing (September 5th) not one hurricane has developed in the Atlantic Ocean. Only 7 Tropical Storms as of September 5th.





Since 1960, there have only been 5 years with no Atlantic hurricanes before September 1st.  This season now makes only the 6th year in which no hurricanes have formed up till now. Interestingly, each of those years which include 1967, 1984, 1988, 2001 and 2002 all eventually became very active.  Prior to satellites, the latest first hurricane on record occurred in 1941. During that year, the first detected tropical storm formed on Sept. 11th.  It was not until a second tropical storm strengthened, on Sept. 18 to a hurricane. Several other reports have sited September 16th as the latest date in 1941.  The National Hurricane Center database shows development on the 18th in this graphic.  Either way, we are heading into uncharted territory should we make it through the end of next week without a hurricane.

Storm #2 - 9-18-1941 - Cat 1 - winds 80

The dates of the latest first hurricanes and the final hurricane numbers:

Gustav 9-11-2002 - Cat 2 - winds 85 - 3 Hurricanes - One hit US/Louisiana
Erin  9-8-2001 - Cat3 - winds 105 - 8 Hurricanes - None hit US
Debby 9-2-1988 - Cat1 - winds 65 - 5 Hurricanes - None hit US
Diana 9-10-1984 - Cat4 - winds 115 - 4 Hurricanes - Diana hit Carolina coast
Arlene 9-2-1967 - Cat1 - winds 75 - 6 Hurricanes - one hit US/southern Texas
Storm #2 - 9-18-1941 - Cat 1 - winds 80 - 4 Hurricanes - two hit US/Florida and Texas



Gustav 9-11-2002 - Cat 2 - winds 85 mph

Erin  9-8-2001 - Cat3 - winds 105 mph

 
Debby 9-2-1988 - Cat1 - winds 65 mph

 





Diana 9-10-1984 - Cat4 - winds 115 mph

 
Arlene 9-2-1967 - Cat1 - winds 75 mph

Storm #2 - 9-18-1941 - Cat 1 - winds 80 mph

A few tropical waves could develop in the next week but nothing significant as of right now.


Could we go the entire season WITHOUT a hurricane? Highly unlikely.  Its only happened twice,  1907 and 1914. The data from the early part of the century is a bit suspect so its possible that one  developed in the open ocean without being noticed.



Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Syria Chess Game: The US and its Intervention History


What always strikes me after reading many books (Games Nations Play is a start) on the US entanglements since WWII is that geopolitical events ALWAYS involve a complicated, intricate chess game between more than two countries. Since WWII, the US has been the de facto peace maker because no other country was in a position to do it after Europe and Asia was decimated.  The US was in a great position to accept this role economically and militarily. However, in retrospect, our attitude was strongly adolescent. To illustrate this, let's compare the geopolitical landscape from World War II to the present to a hornet's nest: 

One or two hornet's nests are easier to manage. The US saw the Soviet Union as that ONE nest along with maybe China.  (Remember that Europe was not a player post World War II although we rebuilt that "nest" via the Marshall Plan)  The zero sum game of the Cold War prevented the US and Russia from shaking their proverbial nests.  The status quo was better than all out Nuclear War.

Korea and Vietnam showed that there were other nests out there worth watching except that we shook those nests thinking that we could squash the hornets.  We grossly underestimated the consequences of those actions.  Korean War lasted only a few years but the Vietnam War last almost 15 years if you count our military advisor presence starting in the late 50s/early 60s prior to the late 60s escalation.  A little over a month after the end of the Korean War, the CIA and MI6 (United Kingdom) overthrew Iranian government after they nationalized their oil industry in an operation called AJAX. It wasn't until 2000 and 2001 in a New York times article that this operation finally came to light.  Last month, the remaining CIA documents were finally made public. Yet another nest with communist infiltration was in Afghanistan. In the late 70s and 80s we funded Afghanistan rebels (Mujahideen) called Operation Cyclone in response to the Soviet-backed Afghan government.  When the Soviets retreated, our financial support stopped.  The consequences lead directly to a more heavily concentrated Anti-American movement which gave rise to Osama Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda.  Our covert actions in Afghanistan in the late 70s and early 80s (unbeknownst to us at the time) influenced the Middle East landscape in a non-favorable way for the US decades later. 

I mentioned these specific events not to criticize the decision making of that era.  Hindsight is always 20/20.  Reality is that these policing actions rarely tempers one or two nests. If anything, it creates more smaller nest that grow that grow over time.  Any attempt to quiet one nest increases the probability of aggravating the others. Once that happens, you have a much bigger problem as is the case today.

2013 is not a world featuring Russia and the US from the cold war days. This is a multi-polar world in which ALL of the moving parts must be sized up BEFORE any action is taken. In the case of Syria, the players are RUSSIA, EUROPE and the entire MIDDLE EAST especially IRAN and ISRAEL and NORTH AFRICA from the Suez Canal to Morocco not to mention NORTH KOREA. The unintended consequences of a Syrian intervention could cascade into other regions creating further destabilization. Long term, this might remove any trump card we have with Russia, Iran and North Korea should another situation arise..

All of that said, the US cannot look weak. If any bluff is called, it will strengthen the positions of NORTH KOREA, IRAN and SYRIA among others. They will test the US again and again pushing the envelop further. The chess game is a power play for which the US is a major player.  The difference over the years has been the number of players.  Now, China, Russia, Iran, multiple Middle East counties, Great Britain, Israel, Germany, France, the EU and the US are the biggest players.  Add the newer nuclear powers of North Korea, India and Pakistan and your task of balancing out the needs of one with the needs of many becomes herculean.  I don't envy an President Democrat or Republican who has to make this decision.

Early this morning, we heard from many people who wish that the US become an isolationist country. "Let the rest of the world solve their own problems!"  These cries are thunderous. But remember that we have never been a strictly isolationist county. In the late 1800s and early 1900s we had multiple interventions in Central America along with a short-lived occupation of the Philippines.  Many will argue that our influence in these counties didn't have the far reaching aftershocks vis-a-vis today's extremist ideals and terrorism both domestically and abroad.  Make no mistake, our presence ultimately shaped our relationship with these Latin American countries years later.  Some for the better, others not so much.

2013 is a multi-polar world with emerging powers both militarily and economically.  Unlike the late 1800s and early 1900s where an ocean provided a huge geographic obstacle in exercising influence, today we have no such restrictions. The advent of satellite communications, super-sonic flight, Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles, Nuclear Powered Battleships and Submarines in conjunction with high speed computing and virtually instantaneous remote operations bridge any geographic gap.   Technology has dramatically altered the foreign policy landscape for everyone.  Everywhere is in the present and is fair game. 

As much as we want the US to return to our quasi-isolationist days  that we enjoyed from the earliest days of the republic through the early 20th century up until World War II (not counting the Spanish American War), a world with the United States in total isolation free from using foreign military interference both directly and indirectly no matter how benign is next to impossible. Our problem is that we continue to try to over and over again to tame the worst hornets nest while ignoring the others.  We claim to have a big picture mentality yet we start a methodical inward push away from the periphery. Our surgical policing actions ultimately operate in a vacuum. Its never worked.  It always has unintended consequences in the short and long term.  Politics aside, whether its chemical weapons, nuclear warheads or extremists, we need to learn from our mistakes and utilize our power with more caution.

I remember this part of Thomas Jefferson's inauguration speech in 1801 said. He said, "...peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none." I wonder how the Founding Fathers would look upon our tumultuous history of "entangled alliances".

Monday, September 02, 2013

Where Does this Summer's Temperatures/Rainfall Rank? Final Summer Numbers


We had a lot of afternoons like this in northern Ohio this summer!
I still can't believe most of summer is behind us.  What a summer it was....or wasn't. Daytime temps were much "cooler" than in recent summers.  We only had two distinct bouts of heat. The first was in mid-July, the second was in late August.



Was this summer as "cool" as what we believe? Let's look at the chart comparing this summer's average high temperature to the summers of the recent and distant past. The first chart shows each summer since 1871. This summer is circled in BLUE.  Bear with me here. I have a lot to cover so take your time.








Let's clean up the chart a bit by only showing the last 50 summers (since 1963) helping this summer stand out a bit more. It clearly shows that this summer was "cooler" than recent summers (2012, 11, 10).

Surprisingly, 18 SUMMERS HAVE HAD HIGH TEMPERATURES "COOLER" THAN 2013!

 When we average in the overnight lows AND the high temperatures, we get a more complete picture of the summer temps as a whole (day and night). First, we start with each summer since record keeping began in 1871. This shows a warming trend since the late 1950s...

Shrinking the graph inside 50 years reveals a slight increase in overall temperature in Cleveland with plenty of "cooler" summers versus this summer.

In fact, 35 of the last 50 summers were COOLER OVERALL than 2013!

What about 90 degree days? We only had 6 days above 90 this year.

What years had equal or less 90 degree days in recent memory?  How about 2009, 2008, 2006, 2004 and 2000 (no 90 degree days that year)


This next chart really tells the story of this summer.  I added up the days we had high temperatures below 75. While not a record, this summer was comparable to 2009 with 26 days with highs at or below 75. 

Notice some of the years in the not-so-distant past:  2004, 2000, 1997, 1992, 1990 & 1985. These summers had far more "cooler" days than 2013

Were the nights abnormally warmer this summer?   

It looks like it. Over the last 40 years, only 10 summers had WARMER OVERNIGHTS. 

The other huge element to the summer was the abundant rainfall not only in Cleveland but across all of northern Ohio.   

Only 7 summers in the last 143 years of record keeping had more rain than this summer!

Akron and Mansfield also ranked very high...