B After The Fact

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The Bermuda Triangle of the Hall of Fame -- The 2700 Hit Club

Of the top 101 leaders in hits in Major League History:

a. There are currently 43 players in the baseball history with more than 2800 hits. All Hall of Fame eligible players with more than 2800 hits are in the Hall of Fame. 100%.

b. There are 12 players in baseball history with 2600-2700 hits. All but one of the Hall of Fame eligible players are in. The exception is Lave Cross, a player unknown to me until 5 minutes ago. Lave retired in 1907. 91%

c. There are 12 players in baseball history with 2500-2600 hits (including Julio Franco). 6 of the 10 eligible players are in the Hall of Fame. 60%

d. There are 17 players in baseball history with 2400-2500 hits. 8 of the 13 eligible players are in. 62%

e. Ryne Sandberg – 99 on the All-Time List is in. Enos Slaughter currently tied for 100th on the All-Time List is in. The player he is tied with, at 2383 hits, is Gary Sheffield. 100% of eligible players.

f. There are 14 players with between 2700 hits and 2800 hits. Only 5 of the 12 eligible players are in. Less than 50%. Players seem to get lost in there. That’s why I call it The Bermuda Triangle of the Hall of Fame.

In Hall of Fame

Luke Appling
Goose Goslin
Tony Perez
Lou Gehrig
Billy Williams

Not In Hall of Fame

Andre Dawson
Vada Pinson
Al Oliver
Rusty Staub
Bill Buckner
Dave Parker
Doc Cramer

Not Currently Eligible (Current/ Recent Players)

Barry Bonds
Roberto Alomar

Some footnotes:

The current active hits leader is Craig Biggio #39 at 2861 (as of Monday night).

Cal Ripkin, Tony Gwynn and Harold Baines will become Hall of Fame eligible for the first time in the next ballot.

Mark McGwire, Jose Canseco and Ken Caminiti are also among the first time eligibles.

Monday, June 05, 2006

B Revisits His Views on the Estate Tax

Krugman's rant in today's New York Times blasts the imminent vote in the Senate to repeal the Estate Tax.

For me, some things, like the Estate Tax, are so intrinsic to what it means to be an American, that I can't imagine what the United States would be without an estate tax. It would be less democratic, that's for sure.

I covered my views on the estate tax in this entry from April 2005 . I left in an obvious reference to the politics of those times, just for nostalgia. The rest of it could have been written by me at any time in my adult life. I think it still holds. I hope you still find it interesting.

I called the entry


I am the eldest son. Virtually all of my close friends throughout my entire life have been eldest sons. In the Bible, and in England, the eldest son inherited the land, and was charged with preserving the family, and the family values.

Jacob was the younger son. Joseph was the younger son by a lot. Solomon was not the eldest son, and of course, Absolom was the favored child for a long time. The Bible features the younger son in part, I believe, because the society features the eldest son. That it is possible to suceed both in the world, and in the eyes of God, even if your brother has all the money.

In those days -- the myth goes, and my non-systematic reading through the years tells me that it’s true -- in those days, in Europe, the eldest son got the land and the youngest son became a priest. (Which might explain a lot about how and why the priest said this, and the people did that.)

Then later, the eldest son got the land and the youngest son scrambled for the ticket to America.

Conveniently for American mythmaking, George Washington was raised by his elder half-brother. You don’t see it much anymore, but I bet there was a lot of Jacob and Esau stuff (some Joseph with his brothers stuff?) running around back then in the legend of good ol’ Lawrence and George.

Benjamin Franklin was apprenticed as a printer to his much-older brother. He later escaped to Philadelphia.

And for those of you who don’t bother with the Bible or American History, or even movies about the same – in The Godfather, it was Michael, not Sonny, who understood what the whole thing was about.

A lot of founding American law reflects the point of view of the second son. Since the second son is aware of how much fortune depends on accidents of birth, the American estate tax is a founding principle of the Republic. It is based on the notion that to some extent the entire society, and therefore all the people who support the law and the society, are responsible for the creation of large fortunes that get accumulated into just a few lucky hands that happened to be born first. Therefore, it is only fitting that the law should demand a share of the earnings at the time when the wealthy SOB who robbed everyone to get the money is not in such a good position to complain about it.

Maybe, more importantly, in those days, everyone knew of fortunes that fell into the hands of feeble-minded or evil people just because of accidents of birth. Common people, to the extent possible, did not want their lives to be beholden to the whims of those sorts of accidentally rich people. And if you multiply that over a couple of generations (Insert favorite W- joke here.).

Since the second son is aware of how hard it is to make something out of nothing, the bankruptcy laws don’t penalize you too heavily if you try to make something out of nothing, and you fail.

Since, even in the United States, the eldest son often gets the business and all the cash and power that go with it, the rest of the siblings often have to, as Huck Finn put it, light out for the territories. That may be one reason why American laws don’t stress parental rights over adult children too much. The only place where the laws about parental rights over adult children are strong is in the area of enforceability of wills and trusts. If the will says you don’t get the money until you’re 50, well you better find a job until then.

What is taking place now, the repeal of the estate tax, the repeal of the bankruptcy law, the notion that the family has a higher place in the law than the individual, is not a return to the old values, unless by old you mean 17th century England. It is not part of the history of this country, except for certain parts of the plantation South. It is most definitely, and quite intentionally, not part of the law of the land.

So when Tom Delay (and you right-wingers, if you want to create something that will last, you better find yourselves another spokesperson and fast) complains about activist judges, he is, as he is in all things that do not relate to the blunt manipulation of law and position for his personal profit, dead wrong.

The laws reflect something else, and they reflect something else for a reason. If the reasons have changed, and you have the votes, change the laws.

Don’t blame the judges though.

America is finally mature enough economically that the second son now has what the first son had along. Now he understands why the first son had certain laws in place to keep it.

Woe be to all you have-nots. To all you second sons, wherever you were born.

Long live primogeniture.