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Financial analysts reported Monday night that South Burlington’s pension funding shortfall is still over $8 million, but noted solid gains in attempts to shore up the plan’s finances.According to an annual update for the City Council by Tracy Braun of Peoples United Retirement Services and Annie Voldman of Annie Voldman, a consulting actuary, the unfunded part of the municipal retirement fund dropped approximately $800,000 below last year’s $8.9 million shortfall.During the past decade, elected officials seemingly weren’t aware of the fund’s downward slide until they were revealed by new City Manager Sandy Miller. Paying the unfunded part of the plan through a low-interest bond was a strategy introduced during the council’s discussions.Public safety pensions have played a notably large role in the unfunded obligation, says the report summary. Starting this past July, the whole plan was 57 percent funded. However, only 52 percent of public safety pensions were funded compared to 72 percent for nonpublic safety employees.The fund’s assets, according to Voldman, increased by more than $2 million over last year, but increased expenses prevented the shortfall from continuing to shrink.
After one May game in which Ryu shut out the Mets for seven innings, I asked Manager Dave Roberts whether Ryu’s success was a byproduct of our era. Does mastering the ability to pitch to contact, relying on pinpoint command rather than elite velocity, allow a pitcher to succeed in a game that emphasizes strikeouts and home runs?“I think that with his stuff, he can survive in any era,” Roberts said of Ryu. “It’s always a good thing to be able to command the baseball and to use different pitches. I think now, when you’re talking about the ability to strike guys out, which he has, and the ability to put the ball on the ground – now you’re talking about shifting and defensive metrics and putting guys in the right spots, depending on the tendencies of the hitter – and you look at Hyun-Jin’s balls in play, they’re converted into outs more than any of our pitchers.“Right now, probably as an outlier, with the defensive metrics, gives him even a better opportunity for me.”I have my doubts that Ryu is truly more valuable to the Dodgers than Bellinger, or than Yelich is to the Brewers. I have no doubt that, if he keeps this up, Ryu is more than a mere “hipster pick” for MVP. He isn’t just redefining the game on his terms every time he pitches. He is the best practitioner of a kind of baseball that dominated for a century, only to be rejected in an era of home runs and strikeouts. In so doing Ryu just happens to lead the world in ERA, that most traditional of statistics, by a comical margin. I’m not sure what that means. There’s a bigger picture than the traditional stats are painting in 2019. As a study in how the game’s incentives have shifted, one evaluator pointed to the case of Dodgers outfielder Joc Pederson. A center fielder with range, Pederson possessed the speed to steal 20 or more bases in each of his four minor league seasons. In the majors, Pederson became a completely different hitter. He re-oriented his approach toward power, and has never stolen more than six bases in a season. Eventually he became a platoon player, then a corner outfielder, and ever so briefly a first baseman.Pederson’s next home run will be his 25th. That’s how many home runs Kirk Gibson hit in 1988, when he was voted National League MVP. Through Tuesday, 22 NL players had 25 or more home runs.What if the most valuable player is not someone who conforms to the modern prototype? What if a player derives value by forcing others to redefine the game on his terms? There is no bat-wielding outlier in 2019 who falls into that category.There is, however, Dodgers pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu.With an earned-run average of 1.45, Ryu is 66 percent better than the league average. That has never been done by a qualified pitcher in a full season. Greg Maddux came the closest, in 1994, with a 1.56 ERA for the Atlanta Braves. Unlike other elite pitchers today Ryu does not possess an exceptional strikeout rate. He allows batters to make contact like Maddox did, yet he is elite at stifling home runs.Related Articles BBWAA awards ballots were distributed this week. I have a National League MVP ballot, so I’ll be wrestling with the definition of “value” again. The game has changed in the last four years, enough to force voters to re-frame what something as simple as a home run means.Before a recent game, I talked to a group of pro scouts who were grappling with the same problem. They didn’t have MVP votes. Their task was taller: to evaluate players for their major league readiness in strange places. The average Pacific Coast League game features 12 runs, the average International League game more than 10. A Triple-A pitcher with a 5.00 earned-run average is faring well. Hitting a home run means relatively little at that level – even less than in the big leagues, where the league-wide home run record is on pace to fall with two weeks left in the season.The ability to swat home runs, the historical gold standard of hitting prowess, is not the prized quality it once was. Scouts must train their eyes on each batter’s swing, looking for holes in his bat path. Any pitch not thrown to that hole is liable to leave a Triple-A ballpark. Anything inside the hole is exploitable by a pitcher with command. And if a swing can be exploited at Triple-A – even if the hitter is slugging 1.000 – it can and will be exploited even more at the major league level. The hitter with the fewest holes in his swing is the best; now the ball supplies his power. For a pitcher, the inverse is true: The ability to get hitters to swing and miss is king.The net effect of how evaluators grade players in 2019 speaks directly to the definition of “most valuable.” He who can master a game of home runs and strikeouts is deemed the best player. But how valuable is a 40-home run hitter in 2019? Or even a 50-home run hitter?“Hitters have no idea of what to do in situational hitting spots,” one scout told me. “Over 162 (games), the numbers are entertaining, but to win those last 11, you have to hit, get on base, take extra bases, and play some defense.” How Dodgers pitcher Ross Stripling topped the baseball podcast empire Dodgers’ Max Muncy trying to work his way out of slow start Cody Bellinger homer gives Dodgers their first walkoff win of season Dodgers hit seven home runs, sweep Colorado Rockies In 2015, when Bryce Harper won the National League Most Valuable Player award, his isolated power was an otherworldly 113 percent above the league average. That was better than the best season of Albert Pujols’ career, or Manny Ramirez’s, or Duke Snider’s. Harper hit 42 home runs, batted .330, and was the unanimous choice among BBWAA voters.Isolated power isn’t a statistic in every baseball fan’s lexicon. It isn’t printed in box scores. It isn’t even found on the stats tables of Major League Baseball’s official website. (The formula for isolated power is as simple as it is anonymous: slugging percentage minus batting average.) Without it, however, we would have no context for what we saw then, and what we are seeing now.Three players – Cody Bellinger, Christian Yelich and Mike Trout – began the day with 39 home runs, three fewer than Harper’s 2015 total. They could each match Harper by the end of August, or the end of this week, or in a single night. Trout has the highest isolated slugging percentage of the three, 96 percent above the league average. Impressive as that is, it’s only a shade above Yelich (95), and a sequoia in the shadow of Harper’s 2015 redwood.Harper was an easy choice in 2015. I filed the first MVP ballot of my life that October. The Nationals were not a playoff team, and the thought that a star warranted demerit if his team didn’t make the playoffs still permeated MVP debates. One National League player generously volunteered to assist me in my thought process. He asked me how I defined “most valuable” player. “The best player is the most valuable,” I said. As the words left my mouth that sounded sensible, even trite. Truthfully I’ve been wrestling with what it means ever since. Fire danger is on Dave Roberts’ mind as Dodgers head to San Francisco Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error
This year’s tournament was once again held at the Pro Level Highland Park Tennis Courts and co-hosted by the Highland Park Tennis Club with the support of the club and its members. Under the leadership of Club President Fred Crawford, and the operation of Tournament Directors Donna Bey and Jim Quigley, coupled with the magnificent weather,the tournament proved to be another big success. The tournament has only been rained out once in 37 years. 2012 WINNERS—Judge Dwayne Woodruff presents trophies to 1st Place winners Lorna Secrest and Art DeMateo and 2nd Place winners Danny Jones and Joyce Scott. Also pictured are Tournament Directors Donna Bey and Jim Quigley. “It Don’t Mean A Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing.” No lyrics were ever more true and revealing than the mean swing of Lorna Secrest and Art DeMateo as they captured First Place Gold at the 37th Annual Champion Enterprises Mixed Doubles Labor Day Tennis Tournament to benefit Toys for Tots. Second place was captured by Joyce Scott, a women who is not often in that spot, and her partner Danny Jones; and third place went to Dom Costa, a guy not really seen there often, and his partner Dana Squielch.A Grand Slam thank you to our celebrity guest former Pittsburgh Steeler Super Bowl champion Judge Dwayne Woodruff and his lovely wife Joy; and to all those who came out to support the tournament. A big thank you and welcome to this year’s new sponsor Mr. Bill Thompson and LeMaison Du Paix, The House of Peace, Bed and Breakfast. Mr. Thompson sponsored this year’s tournament trophies while introducing the players and supporters to his beautiful establishment located in the quiet and calm section of Penn Hills on 8904 Eastwood Road, off of Frankstown Road.Racquets and “Love” until next year.