Monday, July 28, 2014

MLB 2014 Predictions

As we eclipse the 100 game mark of the 2014 season, I would be remiss if I didn't put it down in digital stone my predictions for the end of the year awards and playoff picks.

World Series Winner - Los Angelos Dodgers, I think that certain chutz'pah is finally present in the largest salary team.

AL West Division Champ - Oakland A's, Also my pick to make the World Series from the AL side
AL Central Division Champ - Detroit Tigers, Not enough talent in the AL Central for anyone to catch them.
AL East Division Champ - New York Yankees, They will find a way to bring in some starting pitching try to make something special happen for Jeter.
AL Wild Cards - Angels and Mariners, Lot of West Coast Love this season!

NL West Division Champ - Los Angelos Dodgers, Sorry San Fran...
NL Central Division Champ - St. Louis Cardinals, Pitching has kept them close, either Molina's return or a a Craig/Holiday burst of offense will sneak them into the playoffs.
NL East Division Champ - Washington Nationals, in a year of tight NL races, NL east will probably go down to the last week of the season.
NL Wild Cards - Braves and Brewers, Braves win the game by about 8 runs.

---Silver Sluggers---

1B NL - Anthony Rizzo (Cubs), Only if he clears 40 HR's, Otherwise Goldschmidt, but not having the league HR leader win a Slugger award is criminal.
1B AL - Jose Abreau (White Sox)
2B NL - Neil Walker (Pirates)
2B AL - Jose Altuve (Astros), Sorry Cano, but if a small ball player is going to win it this year, Jose has you beat hands down.
SS NL - Troy Tuliwitzki (Rockies)
SS AL - Alexia Ramirez (White Sox)
3B NL - Todd Fraizer (Reds)
3B AL - Josh Donaldson (A's), I'd feel better about this pick if his AVG rose about 20 points
C NL - Buster Posey (Giants), I think Buster has a few more hot streaks in him this season then Lucroy
C AL - Yan Gomes (Indians)
OF NL - Giancarlo Stanton (Marlins), Andrew McCuthen (Pirates), Yasiel Puig (Dodgers)
OF AL - Mike Trout (Angels), Jose Bautista (Jays), Nelson Cruz (Orioles)
P NL - Madison Bumgarner (Giants)
DH AL - Victor Martinez (Tigers)

---Gold Gloves---

1B NL - Adrian Gonzales (Dodgers)
1B AL - Chris Davis (Orioles)
2B NL - Brandon Phillips (Reds)
2B AL - Dustin Pedroia (Red Sox)
SS NL - Troy Tuliwitzki (Rockies)
SS AL - Erick Aybar (Angels)
3B NL - Pablo Sandaval (Giants)
3B AL - Kyle Seager (Mariners)
C NL - Yadier Molina (Cardinals) He waited to qualify before getting hurt, and his numbers are still phenomenal
C AL - Brian McCann (Yankees)
OF NL - Jason Heyward (Braves), Christian Yelich (Marlins), Denard Span (Nationals)
OF AL - Nick Markakis (Orioles), Jackie Bradley Jr. (Red Sox), Yoenis Cespedes (A's)
P NL - Henerson Alveraz (Marlins)
P AL - Dallas Keuchel (Astros)


American League - Felix Hernandez (Mariners), Tanaka was looking really good before his elbow whoas, but the King has been lights out all year.
National League - Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers), Wainwright lost a lot of votes after piping pitches to Jeter.

---Most Valuable Player---

National League - Troy Tulowitzki (Rockies) Hat trick for individual awards
American League - Mike Trout (Angels) There is a lot of love for this guy among sports writers, and his numbers make a vote for Mike very palpable.

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Cost of An Egg

I've read plenty of articles that deal with the price of food and how it relates to items like inflation, money printing, the economy, regional disasters, and free trade. I'd never really seen it used in the manner of a recent social media ad campaign posted on the Presidents feed as it was earlier this week.

23%! I know right?!? That's a pretty startling increase in a fairly short amount of time for something that seems as abundant as eggs. I was actually expecting that the correlation between the price of eggs had more to do with gas prices and other factors that seem to be holding back the economy that just don't seem to grab the headlines the way that they did ten years ago when we began this era of economic stagnation. Being fairly confident in my assertion, I began my research in the hopes of coming up with some snarky response to the 'real' reason that eggs were climbing in cost as such an aggressive click.

I was very shocked by what I found.

After looking up some historical egg prices from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics and comparing it to some historic gas prices the only real correlation I was finding was that both prices were quite volatile. Sure, there are some gas price spikes in the 2005 to 2007 range that correlate with some spikes in egg prices, but gas prices, although high, have actually stabilized over the past few years. That's when I realized something else, the year 2009 was chosen very carefully for this ad. Just using the BLS numbers, the average price so far in 2014 compared to 2009 is right around 23% (21.4% by my math, but I usually assume the people who make these ads have access to a little more precise data or compound it at a slightly finer interval).

2009 was chosen because it came at the heals of the great recession. Gas plummeted in in price which coincided nicely with an over 16% reduction in the cost of eggs from 2008 to 2009. That is to say, if this ad chose the price increase from 2008 to 2014, the number would have been... wait for it... 1.77% increase.

Doesn't quite fire up the crowds the same way, huh?

but that's not all, I contrasted the data against another set of data provided by the Department of Labor. Obama wants us to believe there is some correlation between the cost of eggs and the wage that people are paid, and he is absolutely right!

Excusing 2009 as a major economic outlier for a moment (as it is for just about economic trend comparative), and selecting the change in price for the years of 1996, 1997, 2007, and 2008. Why these years you ask? These are the years were there was an increase in the minimum wage. over the past 20 years. What was the average increase in a carton of eggs for these years? 9.19%!! About the same as the raises minimum wage workers got during those years.

In the same 20 year span from 1994 through 2013 were we didn't have an increase in the minimum wage (again, omitting 2009), we had mostly positive economic growth years and a stable or downward trending unemployment rate. The average increase per year  for eggs during this time was a whopping 2.72%, just a little ahead of inflation for the time of 2.42%. This also includes some well above average increases in the last couple years. (Take out the Obama years, and the rate increase is closer to 2.41%, almost perfect with inflation)

Over 9% compared to less the 3%. Eggs go up in price over 3 times faster when the minimum wage goes up!

So, when it comes to eggs and raising the minimum wage, the last couple of decades tells us that the raise they get doesn't even cover the increase cost of a dozen eggs.

I'm not trying to say the increase in food prices isn't alarming, there are many issues out there causing these food increases that need to be addressed such as a bird flu outbreak in Mexico and new state regulations in California that have had an impact nation wide. Yet, once again, this administration is presenting very misleading facts to try and push an agenda on us while ignoring actual factors that are causing the problem. Call it breaking the yolk in order to fry an egg, it makes no sense. The numbers are pretty clear, an increase in the minimum wage would make the problem he is addressing worse, not better.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Top 5 Things That Happened While I was Away

For those of you who don't follow my Facebook page, or more specifically, my wife's Facebook page. Then you may have been wondering what I've been up to the last few weeks. I haven't been posting or doing much trolling about on Google+, not because of any lack of abhorrent activity coming out of Washington, but because I've basically been on vacation! From Alabama to Chicago to Augusta to Atlanta with just enough time in between to rest and not fall too far behind at the office.

Now It's back into the grind, a little bit more rejuvenated and with a new sense of optimism that I look forward to being squashed and squandered as I allow myself to be re-ingested into the org that is today's media and political landscape. As an effort to move that process along, here are the top 5 things that it would appear I missed while I was unplugged from society and a knee jerk reaction to the story without knowing any of the details.

5. Plane gets shot down in a war zone: That sucks, if only there where some way that the plane could have known that it was flying through a freaking war zone!

4. Ted Cruise Fundraiser turns into bloodbath: I actually caught some footage of this one last Sunday evening on HBO. Turns out that profane, blood sucking elitist don't like Ted Cruz, vampires don't like him either.

3. Gubernatorial Candidate Hatch got mentioned in the news: Granted, it was basically to make fun of the paltry amount of money he's raised in comparison the 5 term incumbent Governor Terry Branstad, but any press is good press, right?

2. Obama went golfing: Remember when we had a President who was sensitive enough to realize how infuriating it was to people for a President to go Golfing while Americans were at war?

1. Turns out, the Economy is doing Great!: I know, I was surprised when the Rev. Al Sharpton announced it too. Apparently a smaller work force, a drop in GDP, huge increases in food stamps enrollments and huge drops in personal wealth are all offset by a huge growth of wealth on... Wall Street. So the new Democratic economic plan is clear, just keep up the flow of cash into big corporations and everyone wins!

Sometimes I hate this obsessive need to pay attention to things...