Mission accomplished for the Indians this weekend. By taking two of three from the Oakland A’s, the Tribe finished off their nine-game road trip through Kansas City, Seattle, and Oakland with a 7-2 mark. After starting the season 1-4, the Indians are now 8-6 on the season, just behind the 10-6 Tigers and the 9-6 White Sox in the AL Central.
With the entire pitching staff having been very inconsistent thus far, it’s been plate discipline and clutch hitting that have keyed the Indians to this point. The Tribe is batting a woeful .242 as a team through 14 games, but has the 4th best team on base percentage in all of baseball at .345, and have scored the 7th most runs in the league. And with runners in scoring position and two outs, the Tribe has the second best batting average in the league (.292) in those spots, and is slugging a whopping .542.
I can’t believe the Cavaliers regular season is still going on. Evidently they can’t either. The team slogan was recently changed from “All for one, one for all” to “Make it stop”. I haven’t wanted to see something end so badly since “Friends” was on the air. Watching Omri Casspi and Samardo Samuels play out the string makes the last few insufferable years of Ross and Rachael seem pleasant by comparison.
Three more losses left. The Cavs CAN NOT win any of these games. If they come through and lose them all, chances are likely they will end the season with the fourth worst record in the NBA and be positioned well for the NBA Draft Lottery.
Another dominating performance from Jon “Bones” Jones Saturday night at UFC 145 as he cruised to an easy unanimous decision over former mentor Rashad Evans. Next up for Bones will be a fight against Dan Henderson in late summer/early fall. After he pummels Hendo, there’s no one left. He’s cleaned out the division. Talk will turn towards 185 lb champ Anderson Silva moving up to 205, or Jones possibly moving up to heavyweight. I see both as unlikely, at least in the next 18 months or so.
SPOILER, SPOILER, SPOILER, SPOILER ….
I think we’re heading towards what most fans will consider the greatest season ever of “Mad Men”. Last night’s episode, titled “Far and Away Places”, was once again outstanding as the writers and producers continue to lay the groundwork for what is likely to be a very dramatic finish to season #5. Last night’s episode focused on three separate relationship-based plot lines: Peggy’s relationship with her job and her boyfriend Abe, the Roger & Jane Sterling marriage, and the impending Don & Megan Draper train wreck.
Let’s start with Peggy, one of the true fan favorites on the show thanks to the outstanding writing and development of her character. It was a tough episode for Peggy. She melted down in the “Draper Room”, lost the Heinz account, and incurred the wrath of her boyfriend, who accused her of being married to the job. So what does she do? Sucks down three fingers of scotch, plays hookie from work, and then is unfaithful to her boyfriend. Sound familiar? Yes – she’s turning into a female version of Don Draper, which the writers went out of their way to make painfully obvious this week.
The Roger/Jane storyline was outstanding this week. What brilliant writing! So many times with successful hour dramas, you see the writers start to mail it in as you get 3-4 seasons into a show. The brilliant and smart writing and storylines are what set Mad Men apart. They could have gone so many different ways with ending the Roger/Jane marriage. How they did it was perfect. The two of them laying on the floor in an altered state of mind, saying the things to each other that almost all married couples want to say, but won’t or can’t. Roger waking up the next morning feeling like it was divine intervention, already having made up his mind to end it. Jane trying to pretend like it didn’t happen. Then this classic capper – Jane: “It’s going to be expensive.” Roger: “I know.”
Finally, Don & Megan. We continue to get foreshadowing of a bad ending to their marriage. Me personally, after last night, I am convinced it ends very badly. The show continues to draw sharp contrasts between Megan, a modern woman focused on her career, and his ex-wife Betty … two very different women. They continue to draw parallels between Megan and Dr. Faye from last season, with the irony being that Don chose Megan over Faye because he feared Faye would be what Megan has become. And they continue to remind audiences that Don is just relationship-challenged, and as Faye famously told him at the end of last season, “only likes the beginnings of things”.
To me, last night set up what should be an amazing finish to the season. The creepy/threatening tone to the Don/Megan fights, the professional call-out by Bert Cooper at the end of the episode – it’s positioned the season where Don is at the brink both professionally and personally.
It will be fascinating to see where they take it. My prediction is that the firm will go through some major strife, and Don will rise up and be the hero … all while his personal life spirals out of control, potentially due to the writers killing off Megan.
Quote of the Day …
“A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him.” ~ David Brinkley
Insane Fact of the Day …
If Barbie were life-size, her measurements would be 39-23-33.
Today should be a quiet start to what will be a very important and potentially volatile week for the markets.
We’ve got a Fed meeting, which will culminate with Wednesday afternoon’s FOMC announcement, member forecasts, and a Bernanke press conference right after the announcement. And while there are no economic releases today, the rest of the week is peppered with them: the Case-Shiller national home price index, new home sales, and consumer confidence tomorrow. The Fed and durable goods orders on Wednesday. Jobless claims and pending home sales on Thursday. The first look at first quarter GDP will come out on Friday as well as consumer sentiment. And there will be Treasury auctions on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.
With regards to the Fed, for about the 100th straight meeting, there will be no drama as to what they will do with interest rates: they’ll leave them be. Rates have not changed since summer of 2008. However, things have soured a little bit with the economy since the last meeting. We got a very ugly March jobs report and weekly first time unemployment claims have risen … pointing to a potential stall to the American economic recovery. And inflation has ticked up a little bit. For this reason, investors are waiting with baited breath for this week’s policy statement from the Fed, and the press conference Bernanke holds on Wedns afternoon is sure to include some much more pointed questions from press row related to a potential third round of quantitative easing.
Bernanke’s tune hasn’t really changed on this, even though the markets interpretation of it has. Big Ben has continued to hint that the road to recovery would be rough and that the Fed is poised and ready to act if it is. When the economic #’s were rosier earlier this year, the market almost totally discounted a third round of QE, which caused mortgage bonds to sell off and 30-year fixed mortgage rates to rise from around 3.75% to 4.375%. Now … the best I can decipher, we’ve got about a 50% chance of a QE3 priced into the bond markets.
I don’t expect the Fed’s public policy stance to change much Wednesday, as the March statement already reflected their cautious stance on the US labor market. I expect the Fed to leave their policy statement just about the same and I expect them to reiterate guidance for the Fed funds rate to be kept exceptionally low until late 2014. The drama will all be in the Fed’s revised economic projections, and how Big Ben chooses to address some very specific questions related to the potential of a QE3 that are sure to be hurled at him in the Wedns afternoon press conference.
~ The Week Ahead: Slow to Start, then FOMC & GDP
~ Half of Recent College Grads Underemployed or Jobless
~ Ohio Unemployment Rate Dips Again in March
~ Apple Stock Continues to Fall; Next Stop $500?
~ NABE Survey: US Companies Step Up Hiring Plans
~ ECB Official: Spain Doesn’t Need More Aid, Just More Time