No great surprises here.

The Rams stayed undefeated. The Chiefs and Saints stayed once-defeated. The Saints needed a furious fourth-quarter comeback, but the other two never broke a sweat.

The two L.A. teams are a combined 12-2! How insufferable would Angelenos be with an all-LA Superbowl? (Yeah, I know the Chargers would have to get through both the Chiefs and the Patriots. Unlikely, but still possible …)

An interesting article that refutes the conventional wisdom:

The standard line is that Kodak collapsed by failing to anticipate the digital revolution.

It turns out that is almost the opposite of the truth. Kodak did anticipate the market. By 2005 Kodak was the leader in digital cameras, and had developed thousands of booths wherein people could produce HQ prints from their digital images. The problems were:

(1) There was absolutely no profit in selling digital cameras. The Kodak management might have considered this more thoughtfully, since they were in the very best position in the world to know that they had never made a profit selling any kind of camera. In the analog market, the idea was to give cameras away in order to get people taking pictures, thence to make vast profits selling film. So how does one make big-time profits in the photography biz if there is no film?

(2) The digital print-out business was semi-successful for a while, but Kodak did not anticipate the “sharing” craze on the internet. People don’t print pictures at all these days – they share them on social media.

In other words, they failed because they DID anticipate the digital revolution, and jumped into it because they wanted to continue to dominate the photography business. What they failed to see was that there would no longer be any significant profit in that business.

Fuji, on the other hand, did see the handwriting on that wall. Within a short time they had diversified so dramatically that the imaging business was only 16% of the company. Today, they are bigger than they were in 2000. Kodak, meanwhile, is virtually non-existent. In 1982 they employed more than 60,000 people in the Rochester area alone. Today that number is about 2,000, mainly consisting of patent attorneys and the people who oversee and maintain their empty buildings.

You can imagine how the loss of 58,000 jobs in one medium-sized city impacted the local economy. That’s my home town.

But that’s a story for another day.

Gossage: “I find it very difficult to be able to watch today.”

Just about everything they are saying is accurate, but it’s also inevitable. The point of any professional game is to win. Baseball has been a tradition-bound game in which the traditions became more important than winning. But that can’t be expected to go on forever, as clubs discover that unsuccessful steals are disastrous plays, and the sacrifice bunts aren’t even that valuable when they succeed. Clubs have started to abandon tradition in favor of the strategies they think will improve their W-L record. There was no reason to believe the that complete game was the best way to use a starter. It was just the way it had always been done. So people started tinkering with that formula, first tenuously, now often radically. Although nobody wants to be the first to break the tradition, the floodgates open once a new strategy succeeds.

I agree with Gossage that the game is now frustrating to watch. I miss the rich variety of offensive strategies that have been replaced by the homer-or-nothing mentality. Where are the opposite-field doubles, the daring base stealers who try to throw off the pitchers’ timing, the bunting for base hits? And speaking of bunting, why is it that these guys, with all their talent, can’t lay down a bunt or an Ichiro-style swinging bunt to beat the “shift”?

But the people in charge believe that the new strategies work. After all, every team is free to do things the old way if they think that will produce better results, but nobody seems to think that’s the smart move.

At least for now.

Facts:

The strikeout rate has now increased for 13 consecutive years. As recently as 2005 there were 6.30 Ks per 9 innings. The number is now 8.48. In the old days, a pitcher who struck out that many guys per game stood a good chance to lead the league. In 1980, at the mid-point of his career, Nolan Ryan struck out 7.7 per nine innings. Chris Sale struck out 13.5 per nine this season. (That would have been the all-time record, but Sale pitched only 158 innings and a pitcher must toss 162 to qualify for the “rate stats,” so Sale’s all-time record is unofficial. He did qualify in the previous year, and finished with the third-best rate in history. In fact, ten of the top 20 seasons have occurred sinceĀ  2015 – and that excludes Sale’s 2018, which would have topped the list had he thrown only four more innings.)

The MLB batting average was .248 this year. That’s the lowest since 1972, which was in what is now called “the second deadball era.”

Stolen bases are also at the lowest point since 1972.

There are .17 sacrifices per team per game. That is the lowest in baseball history and is still declining year after year.

Trump accuses the Saudis of deception and lies

Uncharacteristically, he seems to have a complete grasp of the situation.

He says their explanation is bullshit.

He hopes MbS is not involved, but leaves open the possibility that he might be, and awaits further evidence on that point.

He fears Kushner’s cozy relationship with The Kingdom is a liability.

He reiterates that Saudi Arabia is a valuable ally.

Most people think MbS had to be involved in the murder, but I think Trump is right to be cautious with so much at stake, and to wait for all of his intelligence pros to evaluate and weigh all the available evidence.