Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory

Along with the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, a visit to the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory is a must for any real baseball fan. The Slugger Factory is the factory that produces the majority of the bats used by Major League Baseball players. Since 1884 (made their first bat either for Pete Browning, Louisville Eclipse or Arlie Latham, St. Louis Browns -- still debatable) and through five generations of Hillerich's they have been producing the wooden bats used in MLB. They produce other baseball items like gloves, aluminum bats, etc., but not in Louisville (mainly in China).

The Hillerich & Bradsby Co. facility in downtown Louisville has four parts open to the public: museum, theater, shop and factory. Only the factory requires a fee ($11 on 2/29/12). The factory is the interesting part. For years they made bats by hand: an electric lathe coupled by a series of hand tools. it took a craftsman 25 minutes to make a bat. They would create the bat mold and make very close replicates. Today, it takes 30 seconds to cut the bat. Add to that the time to finish the bat -- logos and shellac (abut 6-8 difference colors including clear).

Approximately one million wooden bats are made in the factory each year, about 1500 per day in peak season. Only 2 percent of the bats produce are for MLB players. Those bats are made from the finest northern white ash and maple from Pennsylvania and New York. While there, I saw bats being made for one of my favorite players today, Joey Votto from the Cincinnati Reds.

You cannot buy a replica of your favorite player's bat. Those bats are licensed to the players by contract. They sign contacts with the Hillerich & Bradsby Co. while in the minor leagues. The firm pays them $5000 over three years (good money for most minor leagues). They could not pay athletes like Nike does for their names and identities mainly because of the limited market for wooden bats.

I am reading books on the players from the Golden Area of baseball, early 1900s. One such book is the biography of Hans Wagner, Louisville Colonels (1897-1899) and Pittsburgh Pirates (1900-1917). In 1905, he was the first MLB ball player to endorse a bat. So he can be considered the father of player endorsements of products.

The thing I find most interesting about the bats used by MLB players is that those used in the Golden Era were huge -- 38-40 oz and 37-40" long with thin handles. Today's bats are 31-34 oz and 32-35" long with thin handles. The Golden Era was all about run generation. Today it is all about the long ball. I prefer the former.

If you like baseball and find yourself in the lower Midwest, a stop into the Factory is well worth it.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Politicans That Pick Winners and Losers

The real difference between Democrats and Republicans is not that Democrats see a bigger role of government in the lives of its citizens (as it was at one time), rather it is the program winners and losers they pick.

One one hand, you have the warmongering and drill baby-drill camp while on the other you have the government-run healthcare and church of the environment camp. Both Parties seem to pick their favorite programs and try to pass laws in their favor. Where it really hurts is when they agree on programs and policies that are not based on the Constitution.

The latest is the Nat Gas Act. An attempt by a few in both parties to exploit ample reserves and affordability to speed natural gas adoption throughout the nation. The proponents want the government to subsidize vehicle conversion, service station equipment, and deeper distribution.

Again, those that favor this have a business interest in its success. Laissez faire policies apply when it is in the "best interest of the nation." When it does not, it is pork, strong-arming, and anti-American.

The federal government should not be in the business of picking economic winners and losers. It has no business of subsidizing oil, coal, natural gas, wind, solar, nuclear.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Obama the Puppet Liar

On Thursday, 23 Feb 2012, Daniel Henninger wrote a spot-on commentary in the WSJ: Obama's Virtual Economy.
With his recently announced campaign platform — An Economy Built to Last — President Obama has essentially constructed a virtual economy. Instead of the economy we all live in, he's making one up and inviting us to pretend we are living in it.
Just about every politician is a liar. Obama just happens to be one of the better one's. If you were to put all of Obama's pre-election promises in the left column, and what he has done these past three years, the items on the right hand column most would be opposite.

If Obama can lie his way through November, America will have completed its first major metamorphosis. If someone else gets in, then it will be delayed slightly.

Take your pick, Obama, Santorum or Romney will all be puppets. There is little difference between traditional Democrats and traditional Republicans. The difference is just a matter of scope, but both Parties will take us to the same devolution point.

It has become so very clear is that the as Obama has been the biggest Wall Street puppet to date, Romney will fit nicely. To the power brokers and bankers, their ends will be achieved with either.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Contraception...A New Women's Issue?

This latest trek down the women's right to choose birth control and contraception is a desperate attempt by the Obama media complex to create an issue that does not really exist. When you can't run on your record, you need to run on issue that are made-up.

Birth control can have a broad definition. Simply it is the ability a woman has to control pregnancy. Women have done this for millenia. Whether through abstinence, the rhythm method or some form of man-made contraception, women have the means to control pregnancy. (Note, abortion is not contraception.)

There are some organizations, namely religious sects that do not want its members to use any contraception. The points being let nature take its course and increase its likely followers. Even within religious sects, most women/couples make up their own minds.

As far as I know, the LDS Church has never told its members to not use birth control. Rather the guidance has been to make the decision as a couple through prayer and wisdom. There are certainly couples that elect not to use contraception, but this is their decision. If there is a couple where they are in disagreement, then this couple has other issues that should have been worked out prior to marriage. In my mind, this decision is weighted more on the woman's opinion. The male must provide but a greater burden is placed on the woman to raise, nurture and care for the children.

The whole issue being raised by the Democratic media complex / MSM is an effort to divert attention from Obamacare toward some made-up social issue aimed at labeling conservative and religious Republicans as non-mainstream.

The bottomline is that it is not the government's role to provide healthcare for its citizens. It is not something provided in the Constitution. One cannot force someone to provide a service. Likewise, it is not the government's role to provide contraceptive products -- to use taxpayers money to this end. If private insurance companies want to offer this as part of its healthcare coverage options, that is their right. In this model, the subscribers fund this with their fees.

The Republicans had better nail this head-on, not with an argument about the merits of contraception rather the role the government should play in healthcare.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Obama's Make-Believe Fiscal 2013 Budget

Sure, presidential proposed budgets are always wishful thinking, certainly political in nature. But Obama's 2013 fiscal budget proposed this week was pure fantasy.

Just like he said after taking office back in February 2009 that his presidency would be "one-term proposition" if the economy did not recover in three years, he is making a similar claim with this new budget. His claim is that during his second term the $1.3 trillion in deficits will be cut in half.

The problem with his budgets and his presidency is that the policies he and his party espouse are based on a lie they prefer to believe. They believe that by greater government spending and having more people dependent on the government, it is a better political society that the opposite. It is only better for two minute groups: the most destitute and those that are in power. For everyone else, it is enslavement.

Obama's 2013 budget and his four next potential budgets will be just like his past three, disasters. Obama's four years (including 2013) have seen annual deficits over $1.29T each (never happened in our history); revenues will not reach 16% of GDP (has not happened since 1950); annual spending of more then 24% are the highest since 1946; total new deficit is $5T -- over 74% of GDP and heading over 77% next year. Add this to the IOU programs of Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid, and Obamacare, the picture is Greece, just on a more massive scale.

The economic conditions the Obama Administration has created, will do nothing to get us out of this recession because there are too many barrier to risk assumption and business success, from burdensome taxes to stifling regulation.

If Obama wins re-election, America will have returned to the roots it left centuries ago. We will morph to become nothing more than despotic.