Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Dirt Dogs Get it Right Sometimes

Like with the title of This post. Couldn't have said it better myself....
Sorry about the lack of updates since Friday. Sunday was my 7th anniversary to the TaxBabe and yesterday was pure hell at work (f*cking laptop crashed in the middle of the day). Anyway... here you go

The Baseball Update

Wow. What a whirlwind last few days. Friday night was a rollercoaster. Encouraging that the Sox are managing to hit a bit more "in the clutch", or at least late (which makes the stupid 1-41 stat so ridiculous). Still - Gagne was bad and had a little bad luck. The Guerrero base hit was off a good pitch - that guy is just a monster and routinely hits balls off his shoetops. The other hits, however, were on lame fastballs that didn't move and offspeed stuff that stayed too high in the zone. He's still not locating consistently. The rest of the weekend was a bit of a letdown as the Yanks climbed back to within 4.

Last night, I could only listen to the Sox at work, but watched the Yankees. Three Things I Noticed: (1) Glenn Gefner is a freaking baby - apparently spooked out by a mouse in the Trop press box last night, his voice went about three pitches higher the rest of the game. What's really annoying about him though is that he does not appear to be connected to the game or to Castiglione at all. This piece at Sox and Dawgs.com makes the point much more insightfully than I can, but I have to say (again) that I actually miss The Trup. (2) Lowell keeps proving my point. Big hit after big hit. (3) The Yankees pen still is their achilles heel. They put 6 on the board and lose with Sean Henn in a high leverage situation. For all the talk about how great it is that the Yanks are promoting from within (Hughes, Chamberlain, Ramirez), but does anyone think any of those guys will be in high leverage situations in the postseason? No. It's Rivera, Farnsworth and pray for the ghost of Mike Stanton (circa '98-'00). It's admirable that the Yanks are bringing Chamberlain along slowly, but let's not all go blanking each other's blanks just yet, Yankees fans.

Blogs du jour: Blood Sox echoing my point regarding Lowell. Wouldn't go so far as to call him the MVP, but it could be close (Pedroia, Lowell, Ortiz, Papelbon, Beckett).

Fire Brand of the AL reports on the PTBNL that the Sox received for Wily Mo. Welcome to Boston, Chris Carter.

More on Gefner at 38cliches.com.

The Taxes Update

Again, not much in the world of taxes to report on. Well, one that is also part of the death update (see below). I have an interesting puzzle here at work though...

Partner in partnership has bargained for a preferred equity investment that returns capital plus an 8% accruing preferred return. On liquidation, partner is entitled to greater of 1.5x capital or capital + accrued preferred return. Partner gets this return regardless of profits (i.e., can receive it out of other partners' capital if the investment goes sideways or goes down).

The obvious concern is capital shift - in two respects - first, a portion of the other investors' capital is arguably being shifted on an annual basis as the preferred return accrues. Second, is that on a hypothetical liquidation analysis, preferred partner would be entitled to 1.5x its investment, regardless of profits.

Partner does not want to have a capital shift today to it. So, one could characterize the 1.5x return as first coming out of profits of the venture, but to the extent there are insufficient profits, it will receive a 707(c) guaranteed payment for the difference. The guaranteed payment ideally will not be includible until liquidation (or at least some later time when the partnership will deduct it).

Concerns that the 707(c) payment is just recharacterized as a distribution preference, which could force a capital shift, but at least it's a position.

The Death Update

Big death over the weekend was Leona Helmsley. The obit is here.

And a great piece by the Taxgirl is here. Check it out. I particularly like the Queen of Spades playing card. Looks like it's right out of the Saddam deck of cards.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Quick updates today as I am slammed at work - Sox play 2 though, so I'll be listening on mlb.com

The Baseball Update

No game yesterday as the Sox gear up for the Angels. 1:05 start today with Clay Buchholz set to make his major league debut against John Lackey. The game could also see Jacoby Ellsbury's return to Fenway (just short-lived, according to the Herald's blog - Bobby Kielty will soon be called up.

I read on Sox Nest (go visit) and elsewhere that Ellsbury shares a resemblance with Johnny Damon. You be the judge.

Personally, I think Buchholz looks like Tom Glavine

Go to Keep Your Sox On for a Live Blog of today's games.

The Taxes Update

Literally nothing of note today in the tax world. Andy Stern of the Service Employees International Union spoke up today concerning taxes paid by private equity funds - tying it to job cuts and instability (and a nice jab at KKR for its problems with hung bridge debt). Another log on the fire.

The Death Update

One big notable - legendary drummer Max Roach passed away yesterday in an undisclosed hospital here in Manhattan. He was 83. He was a founder, with Bird, Diz, and all the others, of bebop. I like his work with Abbey Lincoln the best. I never saw him play, or even really heard him much, except on specific recordings, but I distinctly remember a 60 minutes profile of Johnny Carson who is kind of an amateur jazz drummer, sitting at his kit with headphones on. The interviewer asked him who he was listening to and Carson said Max Roach - that he was trying to play like Roach. The obit is here.

And the video is here. Enjoy.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Jimmy Fund Telethon

I would be remiss if I didn't at least post a link to the Jimmy Fund Telethon going on right now in conjunction with WEEI.
Click the link or just call 1-877-738-1234 to donate to an extremely worthy cause.
Thanks to all who have stopped by, please send me an email at jmnaylor33 at yahoo dot com with any comments or thoughts

The Baseball Update

Didn't see the Sox game yesterday - just listened to it online while toggling back and forth between Yankees and Sox coverage on mlb gameday. I never thought I'd say this, but I am really missing Jerry Trupiano. Castiglione's partners are either boring, humorless or try too hard - even the consummate professional Dave O'Brien. Guess the devil that you know ("Way Back") is better than the devil you don't ("zzzz").

In the "Thats why they play the games" department - junkballer Sonnanstine with an ERA over 6 outpitches (dramatically) Matsuzaka and the beleagured Rays bullpen improbably holds on. I am a little worried about the Sox bats - not the ability to "come through in the clutch", but actually their ability to beat teams' best pitchers. Seems as though they've been shut down quite a bit lately by teams' starters and only make hay (when they do) against the 7th and 8th (and occasionally 9th) inning guys. Again, just anecdotal evidence for this proposition - I'll look into it more closely later when time permits.

Three Things I Noticed But Didn't See (radio edition): (1) Sounds like Manny chased a high one to end the game - this is a disturbing theme - he isn't striking out at a higher clip than last year, but he is chasing more bad pitches (and letting more good ones go by) than in the past. His walks are down compared to last year (but are in line with historical numbers) - disturbing trend - power drop accompanied by less strike zone control - something to watch as the season finishes (and an enhanced Gameday project for those with the time). (2) Lugo is on fire. Enormously streaky this year and his defense is pitiful, but glad to see he is stepping up (along with Coco) while Ortiz and Manny (and Youk to some extent) are scuffling. (3) Not related to the Sox game, but I was extremely pleased that "Money", as John Sterling referred to him after Monday's near miss, blew the game for the Yankees yesterday. Especially after that monster (seriously - is there an uglier player playing right now than Shelley Duncan - Tavarez obviously excluded as he is not human) tied it in the 9th (Duncan, meet Maas, meet Spencer, meet Muelens, etc., etc.) Put a hop in my step.

Sox off today - Angels this weekend. Here are some good links from yesterday:

Sawxblog trenchatly [ Ed: "Trenchantly", even] captures the optimism and excitement of realizing there's a pennant race on and we're in the lead.

Soxaholix Don't agree with their take, but funny nonetheless.

The Bradford Files Must reading. Daily. By the second most listenable baseball expert on EEI (after Sean McAdam and WAAAAAYYY ahead of Buckley and Massarotti).

The Taxes Update

Slow day in the world of taxes. One interesting thing of note - Pope Benedict XVI apparently is going to come out with a papal encyclical that will "condemn tax evasion as 'socially unjust' and denounce tax havens". The encyclical reportedly will argue that tax evasion and tax havens that seek to "illegitimately" (whatever that means) limit taxes paid unfairly reduce state revenue, making governments less effective and shifting an unbalanced share of the tax burden to poorer citizens less able to pay. Once again - this is from Tax Notes, so can't link, but here is a story in the public press.

The Death Update

No deaths that particularly interest me yesterday, so I will talk about a remembrance of dad. First baseball game - September 1, 1983 (I was 9). We went to old Exhibition Stadium in Toronto and saw the Jays take on the Orioles (Jim Palmer v Doyle Alexander). The Jays were just starting to get good and we went with family friends - the Samsons (Lee and Sean). I was a typical dorky 9 year old, complimenting Palmer on a 55 foot curveball by yelling that it was a "change-down".

At one point I got so excited about a play (don't remember what it was, but looking at retrosheet.org (god they're awesome), it must have been a Jesse Barfield home run) that I jumped out of my seat and when I went to sit back down, fell on the concrete floor and smacked my head against the folded seat behind me (it had snapped up in place - man Exhibition Stadium was a pit). I think I was pretty close to crying, but dad helped me up and put me in my seat and that was it. It wasn't anything special. There was no "there's no crying in baseball" speech or motivational poster platitude ("Courage is not the absence of fear, but the judgement that something else is more important than fear"). Just something simple. That was dad - no grand flourishes. Just dad. The Jays won, by the way.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Your Taxes Update

Two things today as well. First, the IRS is suiing Darryl Strawberry for $115K in unpaid taxes and $350K in penalties. This after he's already spent 6 months in home confinement after pleading guilty to criminal tax fraud charges. The unpaid taxes derive mostly from unreported earnings at card shows. Sad. He still hit 8 homers in the Simpsons softball game, so he's got that going for him. Maybe his son can help bail him out with that second round NBA money.

Next, Senator Charles Schumer is reportedly working on a bill to tax carried interest as compensation. He's flip-flopped on this issue, having previously come out against Rep. Sander Levin's bill. He claims that he has always supported the tax increase in theory, but wanted it applied to all industries (oil and gas, etc.), not just private equity and hedge funds. This is worrisome news, but I still think nothing will happen on this in '07.

Your Baseball Update

Watched the last few innings of the Sox last night. Even though they were 1-41 in "comeback" games this year (i.e., games where they were trailing after 7 8), I just knew the D-Rays pen would blow it.

Three things I noticed: (1) Gagne's slider/curve/change was nasty. The pitch he struck out Pena on was just filthy. If he can spot his change like that and use his heat effectively (he was hitting low to mid-90s with his fb), he'll be fine. I think the high leverage closer-type situation also suited him well. (2) Varitek is an immensely boring interview. I know this isn't news, but man, he can't even show a little emotion on the night Lester returns to Fenway and the Sox finally come from behind and win? And I am certain that he toned it down even further once he realized the NESN feed was being played over the stadium loudspeakers. I'm not asking for Kevin Millar-style antics, but cut the Bull Durham cliche crap. (3) What happened to Gagne's goggles. He's wearing regular glasses now? Maybe that's his problem.

Some links: Surviving Grady's Take - celebrating the "at last" feeling - I agree - I was pumping my fist when Coco hit the gamewinner. Although I didn't think it was really ever in doubt.

Singapore Sox Fan rightfully notes the Al Reyes-Nomar connection. I had forgotten about that. I can't believe that guy is a major league closer.

Yanksfan v SoxFan Scroll up though for the nice remembrance of Rizzuto

Your Death Update

Which brings us to your death update. The first thing the Taxbabe (D-Nice) said to me when I mentioned that Rizzuto had passed away was "The Money Store" (take a look at Phil in action here). Not to get all Ruth Fisher on you, but it's little remembrances like that that help deal with death and loss. I almost forgot, and had to be reminded by someone, about one of the things I found most endearing about someone who just passed away. His hilarious Money Store commercials. Never mind that he was shilling for a bunch of predators. He was our shill. Here is a nice remembrance of his work for the Money Store.

I wonder what the first thing people think of when my dad's name is mentioned. I wonder how many of those things are things that I would remember or immediately recall. As it gets further and further away from his passing, there will be fewer and fewer opportunities to reminisce. I need to take better advantage of the ones I have.

Your Bonus REX Update

He hit the 15 lb mark yesterday (double his birth weight) at 6 months and 16 days. Very excited given how slow he was to put weight on. He gets cooler and cooler every day. Hard to remember how tiny he was when he was born even though it was just 6 months ago. Pictures help, but they're not perfect (picture-perfect? no such thing).

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Holy Cow Scooter....

Just got my CNN Breaking News memo that Phil Rizzuto has passed away at 89. Obviously I never saw him play - my main remembrances of him are from WPIX 11 broadcasts in the 80s with Roy Bill White and others, and of course, from the collected works of his poetry.

A sample of which herewith:

Forever Young
Bobby Thigpen out there.
Number thirty-seven.
That's the guy in the Peanuts cartoon.
That's a joke.
That guy in Peanuts with Charlie Brown.
He's always dirty.
Oh yeah.
Every day.
Orphan Annie.
You know,
She hasn't aged in thirty-two years.

The obit is here.
Your Taxes Update

Two interesting articles today in Tax Notes. First is by Lee Sheppard, scourge of tax planners everywhere. In yet another summary of the current mess concerning the examination of taxation of carried interest in private equity funds (bottom line: should what walks, talks and looks like comp be taxed as such, rather than as capital gains?), Ms. Sheppard focuses on a smaller technique used in funds - the management fee conversion. In this technique, managers of funds waive their entitlement to management fees (which are taxed at 35%) in exchange for a speculative interest in future profits of the funds they manage (which they hope will be taxed (1) later, and (2) at 15%). She ackowledges that the technique (if not some of its more aggressive offshoots) should work under current law, but then argues that service partners be "booted ... out of Subchpater K" and treated as any other service provider to an entity under Section 83. This would be the simplest answer to the carried interest debate as well, but would require an enormous change to current law governing partnerships. In any event, Ms. Sheppard rightly points out that the issue "has legs" in Washington. More wait and see. My client alert isn't stale yet!!

Second, and much more interesting (and relevant to this blog), is a piece, again in Tax Notes, so I can't link, regarding the potential taxation to Queens' own Matt Murphy who caught Barry Bonds's 756th home run ball. In 1998, the IRS (stupidly) came out and noted that the person who recovered McGwire's historic home run ball would be subject to gift tax if he returned it to McGwire (the IRS quickly reversed its position). Similalry, there has been talk recently as to whether Mr. Murphy, even if he decides to keep and not sell the ball should be subject to tax on an "accretion to wealth" concept. Typically, taxation applies only to "realized income", but catching a home run ball is, in many tax practitioner's view, akin to walking through Central Park and stumbling upon a Monet. Seems the IRS is smartly staying out of this one. For now (note to Mr. Murphy - make sure you file your taxes on time and don't take any silly deductions - wouldn't want to get audited.

Your Baseball Update

I watched the end of the Sox 3-0 win over the D-Rays last night. I had mixed emotions because I have James Shields in my "expensive" fantasy league and was hoping for a win (I'm in a dogfight right now), but obviously was rooting for the Sox who really needed a solid win to right the ship. Best of both worlds, I guess - good outing by Shields and a solid win for the Sox. What I noticed: (1) Papelbon looked nasty. He seemed to overthrow on the 1-2 pitch to Upton, but came back and got Pena on a weak grounder to second to end it; (2) Totally anecdotal, but Lowell seems to have a lot of big hits for the Sox; and (3) Tampa will never be close to good until it finds arms who can throw strikes in the pen. They've got some hard throwers (Balfour, et. al.), but they get themselves into trouble unnecessarily. I should know having had four separate Rays starters on my team at some point this year (Shields, Kazmir, Hammel and Sonnanstine).

Some good links:

Over the Monster, and read down for a "relax, keep breathing" (TM Dre) review of the situation viz a viz the Yanks.

Red Sox Fan in Pinstripe Territory. Good take on the ridiculousness at Yankee stadium too. Damn O's couldn't close the door.

Your Death Update

First, I feel guilty for starting this blog two weeks ago and not mentioning one thing about dad since then. I will try to make sure that one entry in the death update each day is a remembrance or something about how I am feeling. Don't worry, it will come after your death and taxes updates for the day.

September 22, 2006 was when he passed away. I'll tell the whole story some time, but I was there when it happened. In any event, the anniversary (what's the word for a bad anniversary? sadiversary?) is coming up in 5 weeks or so, and I feel like I used to feel when I had to get up in class and speak, or had to do something I really didn't want to do - like time is pulling me forward, dragging me, kicking and screaming. I feel resistance in my body as I don't even want to come close to a date, or an event, or any thing really, that will force me to remember that day and how I felt and how everyone felt and HOW MUCH IT FUCKING SUCKED and still does. Why I still won't watch Field of Dreams. Anyway, that's how I feel today.

Also, Brooke Astor finally died. I guess she was a NY big shot. Whatever. Reminds me of an interview sketch from college - Abe Vigoda was the guest - the host was surprised to see him and said "are you sure you're not dead. I could have sworn you were dead". All the legal wrangling around Ms. Astor's will - shit - I thought that was post-mortem. OH well. she was 105 and did some serious good for a boatload of people, including many in my 'hood. The obit is here.