WHAT A WEEKEND for the Indians! Just what the doctor ordered. 32 runs, a SWEEP of the Royals, and back to .500 at 4-4 on the year.
Four days ago? “This offense is miserable; it’s going to be a long season.” This morning? Indians have scored the 3rd most runs in all of baseball.
The only thing that stunk about this weekend series was that center field camera right above the waterfall in Kaufmann Stadium. It was foggier than Ronald Reagan’s memory during the Iran Contra hearings.
I love playing the Royals though. My God.
This was one of those weekends where you really remembered how lucky we are that Eric Wedge is gone and that Manny Acta is here. Shin-Soo Choo has been getting thrown at ALL YEAR. It’s partly Choo’s own fault, as he should have NEVER made public comments about how inside pitches still bothered him after the beaning last year that led to him missing most of the season. Because every pitcher in the league has been throwing inside at him through the first eight games. Saturday night, thankfully, Manny Acta decided he had enough. And had Jeanmar Gomez put one in the back of the Royals leadoff hitter in the bottom of the third after Jonathan Sanchez (who is the guy injured Choo last year with a bean ball) hit Choo in the top of the inning.
The entire sequence of the events was a pivotal moment for this baseball team, who went on to win Sat night and also on Sunday. The Eric Wedge-bot led, facial tick, no emotion, love everyone, and let the league walk all over you Indians would have done nothing.
The offensive explosion was a sight for sore eyes. It’s as if the Indians hitters have been terrified into performing by the impending arrival of Johnny Damon. As long as Damon passes a prostate exam, bone density test, and gets clearance from the retirement community he’s a part of, his signing is expected to be officially announced today.
SPOILER, SPOILER, SPOILER ….
And what an OUTSTANDING episode of Mad Men last night. A fascinating character study of two of the mentally weaker people on the show, Pete Campbell and Lane Price. Some epic Draper scenes, some classic Roger one liners, and the first office fistfight. While there were no major bombshell plot developments, last night should have reminded all Mad Men fans why this is the best show on television: no hour drama has ever been better at developing characters, making you care about them, and effectively managing several very interesting sub-plots throughout the course of a season.
Last night was primarily about Pete. Who has wanted to be Don Draper since the first episode of the first season. And now, ironically, he has most of Don’s life from when his idolization of him began: the house in the suburbs, the beautiful housewife, kids, and a position as one of the firm’s top account men. Yet Pete is more miserable than ever, because he feels like he doesn’t get the respect he deserves professionally (because he’s so snively) and lacks the cool confidence that just comes natural to Draper. He wants to be respected, admired, and feared like Draper … but it will never happen for Pete. Evidenced last night by the fact he couldn’t even fix his own faucet (don’t worry Pete, I couldn’t do that either), when he was kicked to the curb by the girl in driving school in favor of “Mr. Handsome”, and by his “character choice” at the “party with Roger’s friends” they attended.
Then the cab ride home with Don. With Draper as the moral compass! Classic! Telling Pete how lucky he was to have Trudy and a beautiful baby. Pete just absolutely incensed that he was getting the moral high ground from Draper.
The scene was a fascinating look at both men. Don, who always wants what he doesn’t have. And Pete, who pretty much has everything he’s ever wanted, but lacks the self-confidence to ever be truly happy. And at its core, this is what Mad Men really is. In depth character examinations of successful business arena males during the 1960’s. All of them wired a little different, and together, cover a large cross section of the types of people the world is made up of.
If all ya’ like is bells, whistles, shiny things, and massive plot developments … ya’ prolly weren’t super impressed with last night. If you appreciate outstanding writing and all the hidden little things that make great television shows great, you loved last night.
Other quick takeaways …
- Three EPIC Roger one-liners last night: “Work, work, work Don.” (at the “party”), “I know we should probably do something here, but am I the only one that really wants to see this?” (before the Pete/Lane fight), and “When this job is going great, it provides everything you could ever need. Believe me, I remember.” (to Cosgrove near the end)
- The Lane/Pete fight. LOL … that’s all I got.
- Trudy’s outmaneuvering of Draper when he tried to get out of going to their house for the dinner party was super. Trudy is a great supporting character in this show.
- Megan continues to assert her will on Draper, making him call to try and get out of the party when he tried to make her do it. The show is going out of its way to point out weekly the stark differences between Betty and Megan as wives.
- Lane – poor guy. Couldn’t close the deal with Jaguar. Socially awkward. Made a pass at Joanie, who it is good to see back in the office. Be interesting to see what they do with her character the rest of the season.
- With SO MANY great characters on the show, every Sunday you get a couple that are kinda left outta the mix. This week it was Peggy and Betty. It looks as if the whole Betty & her husband storyline will be there this year … but not be featured or prevalent. I do expect the Sally Draper storyline to expand as we move into the second half of the season.
Quote of the Day …
“Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” ~ Will Rogers
Insane Fact of the Day …
An average person laughs about 15 times a day.
Let’s start with a quick recap of last week.
It was the worst week of the year for US stocks. The Dow dropped 137 points on Friday, and shed 216 points last week. Mortgage rates continued to fall, and are now back down near the historically low levels we first saw in early February, which incited encouraging levels of purchase and refinance activity.
The main drivers? Disappointing jobs #’s, fresh concerns about Europe’s debt crisis, and a slowdown in the growth of the world’s biggest economy: China. Concerns about the economy typically will cause stocks to sell off, and for safer fixed income assets like mortgage bonds to rally. That’s what we saw last week. Off the heels of the March employment report a couple Friday’s ago, which indicated that the economy added just 120k jobs last month, last Thursday’s disappointing first time unemployment claims report really set the tone for the latter part of the week … which saw stocks tank and bonds rally.
Again – this is an EXCELLENT climate for mortgage rates, and I really believe this is going to be an outstanding year for mortgage originations in general. Economy is still weak, inflation is still tame, and the Fed is just sitting there poised to unload QE3 on the market. I fully expect mortgage rates to get even a little lower than they are now, and for this to be the best spring and summer for purchase activity in several years. Which should finally stabilize home values, and set the base for actual appreciation of values in 2013 and beyond.
To start this week, this morning we got retail sales data for March. Retail sales account for roughly 70% of the total US economic activity, so this is a big # that all market observants look at. Amid expectations for a 0.3% increase, retail sales actually increased 0.8% in March, a very positive number. If you strip out auto sales, retail sales still rose 0.8% in March. The retail sales less auto economist expectation for the month was +0.6%, so that figure beat expectations as well. The Dow is flying high this morning, up over 100 points in early trading. Mortgage bonds would normally be selling off on news like this, but they’re flat … again, another good sign for mortgage rates.
Looking at the rest of the week, February business-inventories data are due out at 10 AM EST. The National Association of Home Builders’ April sentiment survey is also set for release at 10 AM. Tomorrow morning we get data on housing starts and industrial production. On Thursday there are a slew of releases: jobless claims, existing home sales, leading indicators, and the Philly Fed Index.
~ Housing Set for Spring Recovery as ‘Fear Factor’ Fades
~ The Week Ahead: Less Active Economic Calendar Ahead of FOMC
~ Rock Hall Inductions, Done ‘The Cleveland Way’, Are a Hit
~ US Retail Sales Rose 0.8% in March
~ Citigroup Posts $2.9 Billion 1Q Profit
~ Geithner: Economy in Better Shape to Handle Higher Gas Prices
~ Spanish Bond Yields Top 6% as Debt Crisis Flares
~ Bank Reports Point to a Healing Housing Market
~ Mortgage Applications Point to Higher Priced Homes
~ Business Group Tied to LeBron James Files for Bankruptcy