Monday, October 31, 2005

Paul DePodesta Fired by Dodgers

Paul DePodesta was fired as GM by the Dodgers or more specifically by Frank "Lasorda's Ashes" McCourt. Some people have painted DePodesta as a one-dimensional embodiment of "Moneyball" but that's an argument for another day. Today I just wanted to take a look at DePodesta's moves as Dodger GM to see if he did a good or bad job.

Move: Re-signed Brad Penny back in June to a 3-year $25 million contract with a team option for a fourth year. Penny is just 27 and compared to what Jaret Wright and Carl Pavano got last year and what AJ Burnett will get this year - he may be considered a steal by the time his contract is up. I'd say this was a good deal.

Move: Trade catcher Dave Ross to Pirates for cash. Money motivated move. Personally I like Ross but the Dodgers had better options at catcher. I'm neutral on this move.

Move: Trade Kaz Ishii to Mets for catcher Jason Phillips. Ishii went 3-9 with a 4.19 ERA while Phillips and Dioner Navarro give the Dodgers a pretty solid and young catching duo. I'd say this was a good move (especially when you consider that the Dodgers saved money in the deal).

Move: Sign Milton Bradley in January to a one year deal for $2.5 million plus incentives. Peter Gammons may say that Bradley is one of his "special" players but I say he's a headcase. Good move to just make this a one-year deal. I'm really hoping that if Johnny Damon leaves Boston that Theo Epstein has nothing to do with Bradley (speaking of Epstein - do you think Boston native McCourt has the hots for young Theo?). Good move given the circumstances (plus remember that DePodesta traded for Bradley in the first place giving up just one prospect in the deal).

Move: Sign the team's most popular player and arguably the best closer in the game - Eric Gagne - to a 2-year $18 million deal with a $12 million option for 2007. No brainer good move.

Move: Sign JD Drew to 5-year $55 million contract. Different people have different opinions on this deal. When healthy Drew is capable of MVP type numbers but that's the big "if". Drew played only 72 games this year but still managed 15 HR and a .931 OPS. Adrian Beltre got an even bigger contract than Drew's from the Mariners but he only hit 19 HR in 156 games (.716 OPS). DePodesta let Beltre walk and signed Drew instead. It's as if the Dodgers needed a big name signing in order to make up for not signing Beltre. McCourt had to sign off on this deal - so I can't see how you can hold it against DePodesta. Neutral - too early in the deal to tell.

Move: Sign Derek Lowe to a 4-year $36 million contract. Ahh- Derek Lowe - the rich man's Don Aase. This year he pitched 222-innings and had a 3.61 ERA. He led the NL in starts with 35 and was second in shutouts with 4. Lowe got off to a rough start but in the second half he had a 3.17 ERA in 102 IP. Strangely Lowe had a much better road ERA 3.74 than home ERA 3.48 (and Chavez Ravine is one of the best home parks for a sinkerball pitcher). Lowe's well documented extra-marital affair may have harmed his image but overall I think he'll end up being a good deal for the Dodgers (and yes I agree that they overpaid him). Neutral to good move by DePodesta.

Move: Traded Shawn Green to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Dioner Navarro, Beltran Perez (minors), Danny Muegge (minors), and William Juarez (minors). Make no mistake - Shawn Green making $12.5 million this year and having another $19.5 million due over the next couple of years was just as an important component to this deal as getting the highly rated Navarro. Green was a crowd favorite but honestly is 22 HR and 73 RBI really worth $12.5 million? I say this was a good move fiscally, and in terms of restocking the minors with talent.

Move: Sign Jeff Kent to 2-year $17 million deal. Kent hit 29 HR and drove in 105 while still scoring 100 times. Team chemistry-wise Kent is a cancer but you can't argue with his production. If Kent was still in the Astros' lineup I think Houston is celebrating a World Series win right about now. I say this was a good move by DePodesta.

Move: Sign Elmer Dressens to one-year $1.5 million contract with team option. Good move for the bullpen. It should be remembered that DePodesta traded for Dressens and gave up nothing in the process.

Move: Trade flotsam and jetsam to the Diamondbacks in July of 2004 for Gold Glove outfielder Steve Finley and catcher Brent Mayne. Finley was an important part in the Dodgers making the playoffs for the first time in years. Very good move. Even better move - not re-signing the 40-year old Finley in the off-season.

Move: Trade Paul Lo Duca, Juan Encarnacion and Guillermo Mota to Marlins for Brad Penny and Hee Seop Choi at the trade-deadline. Lo Duca was heading towards a big payday if he stayed in LA. Instead he got dealt and the Dodgers avoided paying a 32-year old (at the time) catcher the kind of money he eventually got from the Marlins (3-years $18 million). Consider that Lo Duca hit just 6 HR and had just a .717 OPS this year (Jason Phillips had 10 HR for the Dodgers this year but cost the Dodgers only $339,000). Penny is signed to a long-term deal and Mota has basically been awful for the Marlins. I'll argue that this was a good move - no a very good move by DePodesta.

Move: Traded Worcester's Tanyon Sturtze to the Yankees for a PTBNL. Bad move. Bad move.

So if you look at the moves DePodesta made - with the exception of the Sturtze trade all the moves are easily justified. Not only that but as the steward of the pursestrings for the notoriously cheap McCourt the moves were also fiscally responsible. I would even say the JD Drew signing is justified when you consider that Drew replaced Green who would have cost the Dodgers $40 million over 4-years.

DePodesta's Dodgers made the playoffs in his first year and I think the team is poised to be very good in the next few years. The Dodgers only have 8 big contracts on the books for next year (Alverez, Drew, Gagne, Izturis, Kent, Lowe, Penny, and Odalis Perez). Those players plus the young arbitration eligible players make up a pretty good core for the next GM. Factor in that Darren Dreifort's albatross of a contract is now off the books and the next Dodger's GM will find that DePodesta left LA in very good shape.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Heh Heh

Maybe I'm just hung over but I thought this was funny.
Wellington Mara

At the funeral of his father, John Mara ended his eulogy with a quote from Shakespeare, "Now cracks a noble heart. Good night, sweet prince, and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!"

I couldn't help but think that the epitath that comes to my mind when thinking about Welington Mara was:
I strove with none, for none were worth my strife
Nature I loved, and, next to Nature, Art
I warmed both hands before the fire of Life
It sinks and I am ready to depart
Notre Dame, NBC and the Breeder's Cup

My buddy Brian had an astute observation yesterday about how Notre Dame never seems to play the weekend of the Breeder's Cup. Its as if NBC sets their schedule. You just can't have a schedule confict with the Breeder's Cup

And don't think that the extension of Charlie Weis' contract doesn't also have to do with the upcoming renewal of the NBC / Notre Dame TV contract. Having Weis on board helps with the Notre Dame brand and it helps the Fighting Irish's leverage on getting another big-buck TV contract.

Sometimes it is all about the Benjamins.
1975 Ford Escort GL - No Air, No Hubs, Original Papal Condition - $690,000

Am I the only one slightly amused that a Baptist paid so much for the popes car? (I am also amused that the Catholic guy selling it thought he would get much more.)

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Morning Links

Here's some links for you to read over your morning cup o' java.

- Here's a list of the baseball free agents. Its not 100% up to date as many options have been excercised but it is a good source.

- The other day was Teddy Roosevelt's 147th birthday. On his 145th birthday Big Stupid Tommy penned a mini play in his honor. I love stuff like this from Tommy.

- SI's Dr. Z has an amusing mailbag

- Mike Ganis has his NCAA football and Breeder's Cup picks up

- The New York Times is beyond shameless - read what they didn't tell you about Cpl. Jeffrey Starr.
Spc. Darrell Green

That's a name you should know - Specialist Darrell Green. He's the machine gunner who shot and killed the driver of that cement truck that was trying to blow up the Palestine Hotel the other day.
In an interview with The Associated Press, U.S. Sgt. 1st Class David Abrams said that for security reasons he couldn't say exactly where Green was in the complex during the attack. But he said Green had fired from an elevated position using an optic device that gave him a clear view of his machine-gun rounds hitting and killing the driver.

``He was trying to kill people,'' Green was quoted as saying. ``It was good we stopped him because he would have killed more people and destroyed the building.''
The MSM should be making a hero out of Specialist Green but they will probably ignore the story because it involves a US soldier doing a good job.

It should be noted that Al Qaida has taken credit for the attack and the question you may want to ask is why the Palestine Hotel? I think that hotel was a target because many foreign journalist stay there and their grisly death would have turned the media even more against the war. Al Qaida knows that their only slim hope is for the US media to get public opinion to the point where the troops have to be withdrawn. By not telling the story of Specialist Green and of the other heros in Iraq the MSM is doing Al Qaida's bidding.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Heh Heh

From the archives - the worst album covers ever.
Heh Heh

From NRO's John J. Miller:
Let me just go on the record right now and say I think it would be a big mistake for President Bush to nominate Scooter Libby to the Supreme Court.
Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

Am I a bad person for saying that I've always thought that Brian Giles was a steroids user? Oh and I wouldn't be surprised if he was the un-named outfielder from this report... OK I'll say it - I've never seen the appeal of either Julia Roberts or Sandra Bullock... People don't realize how central the character of Multiple Miggs was to the plot of Silence of the Lambs. If Miggs didn't say that he could smell Clarice Starling's you-know and then flick his stuff at her - then Dr. Lector probably never opens up and the story goes nowhere. Just sayn'... Am I the only one who's surprised to learn that Kordell Stewart is still in the NFL?... Ted Williams was half-Mexican. How come he wasn't on the Latino Legends team that was announced prior to the World series game the other night?... Cannibal Girls looks like it should be on the list for all-time bad movies but it had Eugene Levy, Andrea Martin starring and Ivan Reitman directing. I wonder if they even admit to ever having made that movie now... For the sake of all the people who may have to listen to Lou Pinella broadcast baseball games next year - here's hoping he finds a new managing job soon...

EDIT: Doh! That report says an AL outfielder and Giles plays in the NL. Double D'oh! (I still think he does roids though)
The Adult World of Richard Scarry

Something Awful has a pretty funny collection of photoshopped Richard Scarry work. The above was my favorite and this one was a close second.
Peggy Noonan is Wrong

Peggy Noonan is in my top five as far as political or social commentators are concerned but in her piece yesterday she was just wrong. It is not often that you can say that about Noonan but her pessimism yesterday is far from warranted. Here's a taste of what she was moaning about:
The special prosecutors, the scandals, the spin for the scandals, nuclear proliferation, wars and natural disasters, Iraq, stem cells, earthquakes, the background of the Supreme Court backup pick, how best to handle the security problems at the port of Newark, how to increase production of vaccines, tort reform, did Justice bungle the anthrax case, how is Cipro production going, did you see this morning's Raw Threat File? Our public schools don't work, and there's little refuge to be had in private schools, however pricey, in part because teachers there are embarrassed not to be working in the slums and make up for it by putting pictures of Frida Kalho where Abe Lincoln used to be. Where is Osama? What's up with trademark infringement and intellectual capital? We need an answer on an amendment on homosexual marriage! We face a revolt on immigration.

The range, depth, and complexity of these problems, the crucial nature of each of them, the speed with which they bombard the Oval Office, and the psychic and practical impossibility of meeting and answering even the most urgent of them, is overwhelming. And that doesn't even get us to Korea. And Russia. And China, and the Mideast. You say we don't understand Africa? We don't even understand Canada!
I'm currently reading a very good book about Shakespeare and his times and I can't help but remark that back when Shakespeare first got to Elizabethian London many people thought they had too many problems to face. There was internecine religous strife between Protestant and Catholic, overcrowding, filth, crime, and plague. One of the most popular books of the time discussed how the problems of the modern world were actually signs of the end of the world. On top of that some people bemoaned that the day's youth had forgotten how to walk and had to ride (horses) everywhere they went.

When Harry Truman was President he had to deal with Russia going nuclear, China falling to the Communists, a war in Korea a Red scare at home, revolutions going on around all the world and to top it off I don't think he truly understood the Canadians.

My point is that every time in history has its own unique set of problems and almost at every time in history people have thought that they had so much to bear that the end of the world was surely at hand. So far they have all been wrong. Now Peggy Noonan wasn't claiming the end of the world is at hand but she's wrong nonetheless. There are problems that the President has to face but the right person can get the job done (just as the right person has gotten the job done all through history).

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Miers and the Market

The channels flipped between stations and I saw something on Fox News about whether the Miers withdrawal had a negative impact on the market and whether it caused a sell-off on Wall Street today.

Now I didn't watch the Fox News segment (I have better things to do) but immediately I wondered, "If you are going to peg a recent event for today's sell-off wouldn't last night's World Series win for the White Sox be a more realistic reason?"

Follow me on this reasoning - Houston is one of the largest markets in the country and it is no secret that brokers like to gamble. What if today's sell-off was caused by commissioned brokers in Houston getting their clients to take profits on certain stocks so that the brokers could get some commissions and cover their World Series losses on the Astros before the bookies come calling?

If you ask me - my explanation is more probable.
Bully for You Teddy!

Today would have been Teddy Roosevelt's 147th birthday!
This Just Isn't Right

Warning: the imagery this post may cause is not recommended for people who haven't eaten lunch yet.
Miers Withdraws Name from Nomination

Just sayin' but this seems to play right into the scenario I outlined back on October 8th:
Just a thought but what if the loyal to Bush Harriet Miers decides to withdraw her name from consideration? In a way doesn't this help out Bush? Follow me on this.

One of Bush's biggest considerations (besides the person's basic competence) was the race/gender of the nominee. He had women's groups pressuring him to replace Sandra Day O'Connor with another woman (including indirect completely inappropriate "advice" from Ruth Bader Ginsburg). He had Hispanic groups clamoring for the first ever Hispanic nominee. He also has Asian groups pointing out that there has never been an Asian nominee either.

If Miers withdraws - Bush gets to appoint either a Hispanic or Asian male without getting any backlash (or at least much reduced backlash) from women's groups. He can say, "Hey - I did nominate a woman!"

He also gets to say to the Senate Republicans, "OK - I'll nominate a true conservative but this battle is yours to fight. Are you up for it?" He then can nominate someone with Roberts type credentials and leave it to the Senate majority to insure confirmation. He can also say to the Senate Democrats, "Don't blame me - this guy wasn't my first choice."

Sure - it will look like he bungled things right now but in history it will look like a brilliant tactical move.
White Sox Win World Series

Or so I have been told. I fell asleep during the game last night and did not know about who won till I turned SportCenter on. That's three out of four games that I fell asleep for in this Series. That's a problem (not for me but for MLB).

If a fan like me can't stay awake during games that end past midnight - isn't that a sign to MLB that they are starting the games too late? Doesn't that help explain why the ratings for the World Series keep slipping into the toilet. I mean will even one game from this Series crack the Neilson's top 10 for the week?

And don't give me the West Coast crap. More baseball fans are on the East Coast and early starts on the West Coach just mean that kids (and thus a new generation of baseball fans) would have a chance to watch the games.

Anyway - enough with the rant because I think I'm preaching to the choir here.

The Stats boxscore tells me it was a 1-0 game with the only run coming in the 8th on a Jermaine Dye single off Brad Lidge (again).

Its too bad that this Series will go down in the books as a sweep because it was 4 hard fought games and a sweep makes it look like the Astros didn't compete. The White Sox only outscored the Astros by 6 runs in the Series.

I think the key to the Series was how the White Sox basically pitched around Lance Berkman who is one of the top 5 hitters in baseball. Last night Berkman was walked 3 times and the White Sox dared Morgan Ensberg to beat them. Now Ensberg is a good hitter in his own right (36 HR and 101 RBI this season) but he's no Lance Berkman and last night's 0-4 with 2 strikeouts and 6 men left on base is as much to blame for the loss as Brad Lidge giving up the winning run in the 8th. As a Red Sox fan this reinforces the need to keep the Ortiz/Ramirez 1-2 punch intact.

For the Astros this will down as the Series of "could've, would've, should've's." They should have done a suicide squeeze the other night. They could have hit better with men in scoring position (I don't know what their RISP average was but I'm sure its mega-ugly) and they would have closed the roof if they knew they were going to lose with it open.

Picking up miscellaneous World Series nuggets:

- Yeah now AJ Pierzynski has a ring - doesn't make him any less a jackass.

- From Jason Stark: "They played six road games in this postseason -- against teams (Boston, Anaheim and Houston) that finished a combined 69 games over .500 at home this season -- and won all six."

- From ESPN: "Important Stat - 15. That's how many innings the Astros went without scoring since Lane's eighth-inning, game-tying double in Game 3." (Personally the important stat for me was the 300 clams I lost betting on Roy Oswalt in game 3.)

- Before the Series began - the odds of a White Sox sweep were 12-1

- The best one-paragraph summary of the Series goes to SI's John Donovan:
Yeah, it was close, if you look at runs (20-14, Sox). But that's about the only place it was close. The Sox out-pitched the Astros (2.63 ERA to 4.58), way out-hit them (.286 to .203), out-slugged them (six homers to three), out-clutched them (who came through for the Astros?) and even, for you managing mavens, out-maneuvered Houston.
- If I were to suggest a theme song for the Astros for this Series it would be Whipping Post by the Alman Brothers.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Happy Birthday Big Red

Today is Dave Cowens' 57th birthday. Where have the years gone? And why doesn't he have a head coaching job in the NBA?
Business Plan 59 of 317

I think I'd like to come out with a line of generic vodka and generic gin. I'm going to call it "Borg Vodka" and "Borg Gin". The tag line will be "We will assimilate you!"

Just the sales to Star Trek fans will make the company turn a profit.
Just Sayin'

VORP (value over replacement player) is a good judge of a player's worth (at least I think so). Let's take a look at the VORP for a few pitchers:

AJ Burnett 33.2
Kevin Millwood 52.3
David Wells 24.1
Matt Clement 21.6
Tom Glavine 43.6

Burnett is the top free agent starter on the market but according to VORP Millwood is the better value. Everyone says that Burnett has great "stuff" but that is the same thing they said about Matt Clement.

In terms of the Red Sox - I think they would be better off going after Millwood because he'd be cheaper and he's already made the American League adjustment. Millwood could be slotted as a number 3 so he wouldn't have too much pressure. Burnett definitely gives off "buyer beware" vibes. The Sox would be better looking for a value like another David Wells or maybe trading for a Tom Glavine.

Just sayin'.
Message to Astros - Close the Roof; Message to Bud - Eat Me!

Last night the Houston Astros had the roof open on Minutemaid Park for the first time in the playoffs. They had the roof open because Commissioner Bud Selig ordered them to do so. Selig should have butted out.

It is in the best interest of baseball to have the World Series go as many games as possible. Good for Fox broadcasting, good for advertisers, good for baseball. What does Selig do to protect the best interests of baseball? He tells the Astros to open the roof.

Understand that the Astros have gone 40-18 with the roof closed this season and 16-12 with the roof open. Having the roof closed is a distinct home field and psychological advantage for the Astros. Selig knowingly took away that advantage for last night's game - for no good reason.

This is but the latest example of Bud Selig not having a clue. If I were the owner of the Astros - I would close the roof and tell Selig to go screw. Drayton McLane would be a hero in Houston for defying the Commissioner's office and what could Selig do about it? Cancel the game? Not likely (but Selig is such an idiot - you never know). Fine McLane? Well, I bet Houston fans would chip in to pay that fine and the PR boost would be worth ten times the amount of the fine. Take the team away? Yeah - that lawsuit would make McLane an even richer man.

Drayton McLane - close that roof! Bud Selig - eat me!

EDIT: LargeBill has an interesting comparison between last night's 14-inning game and the one from the 1916 World Series
Good Morning America, 2,000 Deaths and the War in Vietnam

ABC's Good Morning America led this morning's program with a report on the 2,000th death in the War in Iraq. Charlie Gibson (who I find to be the most biased newsman on TV) made a slip introducing the piece which he said was about the "war in Vietnam".

Some people cannot see the war in Iraq without looking through the prism of the war in Vietnam and with his slip this morning - Charlie Gibson showed without a doubt that he is one of them.

Of course the draft was still in effect during the Vietnam war while all the soldiers fighting in Iraq are volunteers. In Iraq there have been on average 62.5 US military deaths per month (since March 2003) while in Vietnam on average 647 soldiers died per month (58,209 deaths over 90 months). For some more perspective - in 2004 there were a total 1,887 deaths in the US Military - less than half happened in Iraq (905). And if you are fixated on the number 2,000 - consider that between the years of 1980 and 1990 there were on average 2,067 military deaths each year but I don't recall the number 2,000 meaning anything to anyone back then.

Don't expect Charlie Gibson to give you information like this - in his mind we're still fighting the Vietnam war.

Sources: Military deaths in in Iraq - US Military casualties (1980-2004) PDF

EDIT: Corrected math (had number of wounded in Vietnam posted instead of deaths)

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Walk the Line

I agree with Johnny B. that is "one hella-sweet piece of poster artwork" but I disagree with him in regards to looking forward to this movie.

Yes Johnn B. has a point - Joaquin Phoenix doesn't look like Johnny Cash and I know that I'm going to watch the movie half expecting him to yell "Am I not merciful?" at any given point. However, this is a major motion picture about Johnny freakin' Cash!

Johnny B. and I may have misgivings about Joaquin Phoenix (not as an actor but as Cash) but Johnny Cash picked Joaquin Phoenix to play him in the film and that should be enough for anyone. I am curious to see Phoenix play the guitar and sing his own songs. I'm also curious to see Waylon Jennings' son Shooter play his dad in the movie.

Walk the Line opens on November 18th
Wrapped Up Like Douche

I know that in Bruce Springsteen's version of Blinded By the Light - he's clearly singing "wrapped up like a duece". And I know that is what the lyrics also say.

I also know that many people mistakenly think he's singing "wrapped up like a douche". I've become convinced that one person who has the words confused is Manfred Mann. If you listen to his version of Blinded By the Light - he's clearly singing "wrapped up like a douche".

Come to think of it - neither version makes any sense to begin with.
From the Archives

Bear with Searing Gas Pain

(One of my all-time favorites)

Monday, October 24, 2005


Sunday was Doug Flutie's 43rd birthday. What better way for a guy like me to honor this great Massahusetts athlete then to post this information from Dr. Gary Brown Professor and Chair at the University of Tennessee at Martin: and the Psychology Department at the University of Tennessee at Martin are conducting a second survey on the causes of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). This survey is for mothers of children with ASD as well as mothers of normally developing children who are ten years of age or younger. Mothers who participate in the survey will receive a free ABA program to teach their child to follow directions as well as free ABA mini programs for common problems like sharing. To take the survey please go to
For those unaware - Doug Flutie's son suffers from autism. I hope in some small way that this post may help find a cure. If you have a blog - pass it on.
Fact That May Only Interest Me

Prostitution was so rampant in Boston in the 1770's that a British military cartographer marked the red light district in Boston as Mount Whoredom. The American troops surrounding Boston back then may have been short of military dress and ammunition but they were drinking about a bottle of rum a day - apiece.
Morning Links

Some morning links to ponder.

- I was on the fence about Harriet Miers. If figured I'd give her the benefit of the doubt but if the Baseball Crank is off the fence then I'm second guessing my Swiss status on the subject (not that my opinion matters much to the administration).

- Just to note - I added Samantha Burns to the blogroll. You should check out her blog - good stuff and she updates it all the time.

- I meant to link to this blog over the weekend. CampKatrina is a blog by Spc. Phil Van Treuren who is a member of the Ohio Army National Guard who was deployed to help with Katrina relief. (I've also added him to the blogroll)

- I'm sick of the ACLU and so is John Leo. I could get behind an organization whose purpose was to protect the Bill of Rights but the ACLU has lost their way and now just selectively decides what to protect and what to prosecute.

- Not a link but just an observation - statistically anyone who picks up a chainsaw to cut wood is taking a bigger risk with their life than Tedy Bruschi is. How come the pundits never call lumberjacks "selfish"?

- David Glassko has his Gold Glove choices up at The Hardball Times. I know he means well but Kevin Millar as honorable mention does invalidate his entire approach. This is how stat guys get bad raps.
The West Wing, the World Series and Sleep

Last night I missed the first third of The West Wing because I was watching the World Series. After watching The West Wing I watched some more of the World Series and then I decided to watch the rest of the game up in my bedroom. Of course I ended up falling asleep and missing what sounds like an extraordinary ending. If I hadn't gone 5 for 5 on my NFL picks yesterday I might be kind of bummed this morning. As it is - I'm pretty chipper.

The West Wing episode was one of the worst I can remember ever seeing. Instead of resolving the leak thing it looks like it will be prolonged as Toby's lawyer convinces him to make a deal and be a martyr (last night he was opposed to that but you know he'll change his mind over greater moral principles - Oliver Babish also seems to think of him as a martyr). The film school technique things in the show were really bugging me. Show a scene in the hall reflected off a turned off TV screen, focus on the President's wringing hands while he speaks, on and on with the little devices. The only redeeming thing about the show was when Bartlett called Toby out for being a superior sumbitch. That was long over due.

When I went upstairs to watch the rest of the game - it was the sixth inning. I watched an inning before closing my eyes so I could just "listen" to the game. I awoke at 12:30 having missed Konerko's grand slam in the seventh, the Astros rallying in the 9th and Posednik's walk-off HR to end the game. But I'm well rested.

Not sure what the line is but I'm taking Roy Oswalt and the Astros in the next game. I get the feeling that will be a lock.

Speaking of betting - yesterday I went 5 for 5 with "my" picks. I put scare quotes around my because the picks were actually Mike Ganis' (Chargers, Washington, Vikings and Oakland) and I also took the pick of the week from The Cold, Hard Football Facts (Colts). It was their picks but my money (and never you mind how much).

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Never Forget

Twenty-two years ago today - a suicide bomber drove a truck filled with explosives into a Marines barracks in Beirut. The bombing took the lives of 241 US Marines.

A total of 274 US servicemen died in Beirut between September of 1982 and July of 1990.

Most people remember the before and after pictures of the Twin Towers but do you recall this before and after?

Never forget.
Brady Quinn for Heisman

I'm completely on the Brady Quinn bandwagon and I think you should be too. Here's why:

- 4th in the nation in total offence with 348.6 yards per game

- 4th (tied) in the nation in points responsible for with 126

- 5th in the nation in passing with 2352 yard

- 9th in the nation in passing efficiency with a 161.9 rating

Nobody who has played the top notch teams that Notre Dame has can boast of such a resume. Remember - the Heisman is not the award for the player most likely to be successful in the pro's. It is for the top NCAA player. And before you throw stats for Cody Hodges at me - look at the number of times he was able to put the ball in the end-zone against the number 2 team against how Quinn did against USC the number 1 team.

Reggie Bush? He's a running back but only 11th in the nation in rushing. Michael Bush, the Louisville QB, has more rushing yards and more rushing TD's than Reggie Bush.

Matt Leinart? The head to head game should have shown people who was the better player.

Remember - it's not who will be the number 1 pick in the NFL draft. The Heisman goes to the NCAA player of the year. This year that player is Brady Quinn.
Notre Dame and the BCS

The Fighting Irish aren't getting any love in the BCS polls and I think I know why.

Have you ever heard the old computer term "garbage in - garbage out"? Well one of the things the BCS uses is the computer rankings which use strength of schedule as one of the determining factors. As of October 15th the NCAA has Notre Dame's schedule ranked as just the 63rd toughest in the country (I'd link to it but it is in PDF format).

The NCAA uses winning percentage both of past opponents and of future opponents to rank the schedules. Therefore teams like Army and Cincinnati are ranked above the Irish in terms of strength of schedule. What is strange is the fact that of the top 3 teams (1. Oklahoma, 2. Michigan, 3. Stanford) - the Irish have played Michigan and will play Stanford on the final game. Other top ranked schedules include Tennessee (16th), USC (33rd) and Michigan State (45th). Obviously beating a team hurts you in strength of schedule because it decreases their winning percentage. This flaw is the same for everyone but it is a flaw. You would never be able to convince me that ND has the 63rd toughest schedule in 1-A football.

This is clearly a case of garbage in getting garbage out. I'm not sure how many of the 6 BCS computer rankings use this info but I'm sure this "official" ranking from the NCAA factors in more than a few of them.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Woo Woo Woo - Happy Birthday Curly!

Curly Howard of the Three Stooges would have been 102 today. Many Stooges fans realize that he was relaced by his brother Shemp Howard but most don't realize that Shemp was an original member of the Stooges (with brother Moe and Larry Fine) and that Curly first replaced him. I was surprised to learn that Curly was only 5'5" because on film he's larger than life. Maybe my favorite line from Curly:
Judge: "Do you swear?"
Curly: "No! But I know all the woids!"
A Large Regular - Travel Advisory

I meant to mention this a while back but if you will be flying anywhere anytime soon be aware that the airlines are enforcing a FAA regulation concerning baggage weight. The FAA allows a baggage weight of 50 pounds. For additional weight - you will have to pay through the nose.

Here's an idea of what the excess baggage fees are:

Most airlines allow 2 or 3 bags - each additional bag will run about $50.
For bags from 51 to 70 pounds there would be an additional $25 charge.
For bags weighing from 71 to 100 pounds an additional $100 each.

The regulations prohibit bags over 100 pounds.

The last time I flew I must have seen at least three people pulling things out of the bag there were checking and stuffing that stuff into their carry-on bag in an attempt to get under 50 pounds.

Personally - I think this is a way for the airlines to recoup some money to offset the high gas prices. The airlines can do so under the cover of FAA regulations. As a guy who travels light - I actually get a kick out of seeing the folks who pack everything get a little inconvenienced.
Tommy Maddox

Bill "the Sports Guy" Simmons goes off on a Tommy Maddox rant in his latest column. So I figured I'd take this opportunity to point out that every time I hear Maddox speak - I can't help but think of the Harrison Ford character in Regarding Henry after he got shot in the head.

Reading Simmons' column also reminded me of something else - he once lost a season long NFL game picking contest to a dog. Yup a dog. I bring this up just to insure you take his picks with a grain of salt. If you are looking for someone whose picks will make you money - go with Mike Ganis over at

Friday, October 21, 2005

Godfather Though for the Day

Michael Corleone is often thought of as a poor husband and father. He tried to be like his father Don Vito but it just didn't work out. Sure he loved his kids but it just wasn't enough. In the end his family is a mess.

How come Kaye never gets any of the blame for this? Seriously.

Keep in mind that Kaye was Michael's second choice (in fact second wife). If Appolonia had lived - do you think Michael would have had so many family problems? Do you think Appolonia would have ever had an abortion? Divorced Michael? I don't think so.

Maybe the real lesson to be learned from the Godfather trilogy is to not marry a WASP.
David Wells Wants to be Traded

Gordon Edes of the Boston Globe wrote today that David Wells would like to be traded from Boston to a West Coast team. Count me among the people who think David Wells was well worth the money this year. The big guy finished with a 15-7 record and a 4.45 ERA and at age 42 he still pitched 184 innings spread over 30 starts. Wells signed an incentive laden contract and he made about $9 million (because of the 30 starts).

So who could you trade him for?

I'm assuming that Wells would want a trade to San Diego, the Dodgers, the Angels, A's, the Giants or the Diamondbacks. I think Wells' base salary next year is $2.5 million with another $1.5 million due from his signing bonus. Wells also has his incentives for starts-made which should bring the deal up into the $7-9 million range if he is healthy. Who on the West Coast wants a player with a contract like that?

Realistically, Wells will probably be traded for flotsam and jetsam and that would be OK by me. We squeezed a lot of juice out of 42-year old body this year and it is probably unrealistic to think he'd hold up for another 30 starts next year. Plus the Sox already have Schilling, Wakefield, Clement, Arroyo and Jon Papelbon.

I don't think the A's would be a fit. The Angels could be losing both Paul Byrd and Jarrod Washburn so they might want a guy to eat up some starts and innings. Maybe the Angels send the Sox Jeff DaVanon to be the utility outfielder (career .806 OPS vs lefties). The Diamondbacks don't look like a fit either since they have Vazquez, Webb, Halsey and Ortiz already in the rotation. Would the Dodgers want to get rid of Hee-Seop Choi? The Giants seem to need pitchers but are they too cheap to pick up Wells' contract? That leaves the Padres.

The Padres seem the logical choice. Wells wants to be there and the Padres have some players they would like to move. Let's take a look a couple:

- Ryan Klesko because he's due to make $10 million next year the Padres may want to trade him. The Sox do need a first baseman but Klesko is unlikely because he's a 10/5 guy and he loves it in San Diego (surfer guy).

- Brian Lawrence because the Padres seem to have soured on him and he'll make $3.5 million next year. This would be almost an salary swap and Lawrence may just need a change of scenery.

- Xavier Nady who at one time was going to be the next big thing but has turned into the West Coast version of Gabe Kapler (but much cheaper). Nady does very well against lefties (.323 BA and .843 OPS) and the Sox really need a back-up who can spell Trot Nixon against southpaws.

- Sean Burroughs is out of favor in San Diego (they brought in Joe Randa because Burroughs wasn't getting the job done). He could be a guy who just needs a change of scenery. He could also be non-tendered by the Padres. I don't see a fit for Burroughs though.

Maybe no fit is found and Wells comes back. I doubt it - he's gone. For all his faults Boomer did right by Red Sox Nation this year and although I'd say adios in a heartbeat it would not be without a tinge of gratitude.
Kids Say the Darndest Things

Something Awful's interviews of kids are always worth a read. The subject this time is Halloween - here's one of the "answers" to the question Do you think Halloween should be banned or changed because of its pagan roots?:
"First the left takes baby Jesus out of the manger on Christmas, then the right takes the pumpkin off the doorsteps. Why don't they just replace Jesus with a pumpkin in the manger and be done with it?"
World Series Odds

Here are the odds and some proposition bets available for the World Series.

World Series - Best of Seven (2-3-2)
Houston Astros +105
Chicago White Sox -125

Which team will hit more home runs in the World Series?
Chicago White Sox (More Home Runs in WS) -125
Houston Astros (More Home Runs in WS) -115

Will Roger Clemens become the oldest pitcher to win a World Series game?
Yes -145
No +105

Which Team's Big 3 Pitchers will have more combined strike outs in the World Series?
Jose Contreras, Mark Buehrle, Jon Garland (More K's in WS) -120
Roger Clemens, Roy Oswalt, Andy Pettitte (More K's in WS) -120

Exact Series Result - Chicago White Sox vs Houston Astros
Chicago White Sox 4-0 12/1

Chicago White Sox 4-1 11/2

Chicago White Sox 4-2 15/4

Chicago White Sox 4-3 19/5

Houston Astros 4-0 16/1

Houston Astros 4-1 6/1

Houston Astros 4-2 9/2

Houston Astros 4-3 5/1

I think Clemens will win a game and I think the Astros big three will get more strikeouts (because of the Paul Konerko factor).

Lines via
NBA Dress Code

When I first heard what the new NBA dress code was my first thought was that Larry Bird in his playing days wouldn't have been up to code. Bird wore nothing but sweaters (with no collared shirt underneath). Most people say that the dress code is aimed at black players and they are right. The NBA has a thug image problem. There's no denying that.

I've heard some players complain that the dress code is an attack on their "culture". WTF? Every business has a corporate culture and if you want a payceck you adhere to the rules of that culture. Its that simple. I'd like to go to my business appointments in the summer in shorts and sandals but if I did - I'd get fired. And if I got fired for that would people suggest I was an idiot or complain that "the man" was attacking my culture?

Mark Cuban hits the nail on the head when he says that this was an issue that should have been handled by teams at the team level.
Its funny how the media likes to talk about the fundamentals of the players on the court being lacking, the real lack of fundamentals is in the teams’ executive suites. When a team is unable or afraid to communicate their message or iniative to their front office or players, or when they know they have a problem they are afraid or unable to deal with, they ask the Commissioner to create a league wide edict. This is a convenient out for the teams. Its not their fault that the players have to do this, its the league’s fault. To the Commissioners credit, he knows he can easily take the hit for something so simple in concept.

Unfortunately there isnt much the league can do to legislate against lousy team management. Its there and its not going anywhere. But as in any business, the business is only as strong as it weakest link.

Which takes us back to the dress code.
Larry Walker

It looks like Larry Walker will be retiring. I took a look at the case for Walker in the Hall of Fame here.

One more thing I wanted to take a closer look at was Walker's defense. He won 7 Gold Gloves. He are the outfielders who won the most Gold Gloves:

12 Roberto Clemente
12 Willie Mays
10 Ken Griffey
10 Al Kaline
8 Paul Blair
8 Barry Bonds
8 Andre Dawson
8 Dwight Evans
8 Garry Maddox
7 Jim Edmonds
7 Curt Flood
7 Andruw Jones
7 Larry Walker
7 Devon White
7 Dave Winfield
7 Carl Yastrzemski

This doesn't include 2005 which hasn't been announced (Andruw Jones may have 8 by Christmas). Couple observations from this list.

1. 5 of the people on the list are already in the Hall of Fame and two or three more are probable (Griffey, Bonds if baseball writers are afraid to stap on a pair of balls and Andruw Jones who is 28 and already has 300 HR). Will Walker end up like a Dwight Evans or an Andre Dawson and be a guy who was good at the plate and in the field but still not be good enough for the Hall?

2. I didn't realize that Yaz had so many Gold Gloves. Shame on me.

3. I honestly never heard of Paul Blair (or if I did I blanked it out)

I'm still on the fence regarding whether Larry Walker is a Hall of Fame player but I do want to look at all the evidence.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Fact That May Interest Only Me

William Shakespeare, perhaps the greatest writer of all-time, was married to a woman who could neither read nor write.
Rene Rancourt

One of my favorite parts of watching a Boston Bruins home game was hearing Rene Rancourt sing the national anthem(s). It was great. Key word the being "was". I have the Bruins game on but I was in the other room when the anthem started. I swear I thought it was Christopher Lloyd singing.

I think the year off was harder on Rancourt than on Brett Hull.
Celebrity Butt Crack

You can find anything on the Internets! SmitHappens has the lowdown.

HT The Crazy Rants of Samantha Burns
Some Afternoon Links

While I catch up after being out of town.

- Jay Nordlinger has a new Impromptus up.

- Red Sox fans won't have Dave Sveum to kick around anymore. Major league third base coach has to one of the most thankless jobs out there. If you send a runner and he scores - everyone praises the runner. If you send a runner and he doesn't score - well that's when fans learn the name of their third base coach. People in Boston knew Sveum's name (but probably not how to spell it).

- SI's Tom Verducci with some World Series tidbits and his pick.

- Terry Bowden looks at the Heisman race. I don't know why Maurice Drew doesn't get more love.

- The Cold Hard Football Facts on the media's treatment of Tedy Bruschi. I got a kick out of their lede:
The proliferation of the sports media over the past 10 years or so has led to a proliferation of unqualified douche-tards posing as “pundits” and a proliferation of opinions so vast, varied and grandly miscast that one can only pause in gape-eyed wonder at their incalculable, cosmic and infinite stupidity.
Flotsam and Jetsam – Gulf Coast Edition

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations from the panhandle of Florida and the Gulf Coast of Alabama.

I never knew that the coast of Alabama was so beautiful. Even with all the damage from the recent hurricanes the beauty of the area is apparent. This – of course – is no secret to many other people – seeing how the coast is dotted with high rise condo developments with many more high-rises under construction. If fact between the repair work for the damage from the hurricanes and the new construction – I have never seen so much building concentrated in a single area in my life… It occurred to me that Steve Miller was the original Meatloaf (and I’m not talking about singing styles)… I traveled hundreds of miles – from Birmingham down to Pensacola and over to the Gulf Coast of Alabama and back to Birmingham and in all that travel I did not see a single Waffle House that appeared damaged in any way by the hurricanes. This of course led me to wonder why people don’t hire the architects who did the Waffle Houses to build their homes to make them hurricane proof too… Yesterday USA Today had a survey on “What is Sex?” and 99.7% of females and 99.2% of males said that intercourse constituted sex. I’m guessing that the survey had a margin of error of at least 0.3% for female respondents and 0.8% for males… The amount of college football talk on the radio in Alabama is unreal. I heard more talk about Alabama and Tennessee and college football in general then I heard in my life. The sports talk radio stations do more college football talk in a day then WEEI in Boston does in a month… Alabama is on Central Time? That really screwed me up… I found it interesting that last Saturday the Lowes 500 Nascar race got 7.9 million viewers while the fourth game of the ALCS between Chicago and Anaheim had just 7.6 million… The new condos in Orange Beach, AL are going for between $600,000 and $1.2 million. I think I’ll rent instead… Now I can cross Alabama off the list of states that I haven’t visited. Now all that are left are South Carolina, Missouri, Mississippi, Arkansas, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Iowa, Nebraska, Hawaii and Alaska…. So I got to the Gulf Coast of Alabama by flying out of Providence into Birmingham and driving from there. I couldn’t find anywhere closer to fly into that didn’t cost and arm and a leg (the round-trip Providence to Birmingham on Southwest was just $400). Anyone have a better way of getting to the Gulf Coast? I would have flown into New Orleans and driven from there but I don’t think the airport is back up and running like before…

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

USC vs. Notre Dame – Some Final Thoughts

It’s been a few days since that great game and crushing loss (for us ND fans). I’ve been thinking about that game a great deal and I would like to share some of my thoughts.

First off I need to address the way the game ended.

Some ND fans feel a bit cheated because of the way the officials called those last few minutes. On that final drive they called a ticky-tack personal foul that kept the Trojan drive alive. And on that play where Leinart fumbled out of bounds – the ball was fumbled backwards. Leinart ended up at the one but the ball went out at the two or three yard line. The ball was placed incorrectly by the officials and that’s what made Leinart’s QB keeper possible.

Let me elaborate. Leinart’s forward progress was to the one yard line but if the refs are going by forward progress the clock does not stop and the game is over and Notre Dame wins. If the refs call a fumble and stop the clock – they need to mark the ball where it went out of bounds. I don’t think they did and if it is 2-yards or more then maybe Leinart doesn’t try a QB sneak and USC settles for a field goal. In overtime it’s a whole new ballgame.

The placement of the ball that was knocked out of bounds is something that’s covered by instant replay. This game did not feature instant replay because Pete Carroll had the option and he vote against it. He’s lucky that he did.

On that final play some writers are giving Carroll credit for going for the win instead of a tie. The fact is Carroll was going for a tie. He wanted Leinart to spike the ball so the kicking team could come on. Leinart and Reggie Bush decided they knew better and instead went for the TD. This play is going to come back to haunt Pete Carroll.

Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush are extremely talented (Bush more so than Leinart in my opinion but I’ll get to that in a moment). What they did on that final play was an act of insubordination – an act of mutiny if you will. They decided that they knew better than their superior officer / captain (Coach Carroll) and flagrantly disobeyed him. Luckily for them – they were successful and they provided a legendary ending to a legendary game.

What about the Leinart and Bush wannabe’s though? Leinart and Bush are legendary now for what they did at the end of this game and USC thrives as a program because they get players who want to be legends. The ego on these players will make them think that they are bigger than the program and certainly bigger than Coach Carroll. I’m predicting that you will start to see more open insubordination in the USC program now that Leinart and Bush have shown they can get away with it and be rewarded (none of the Leinart / Bush wannabe’s will allow the thought of failure to enter their mind – they will just see the glory in their minds an won’t see the ramifications of their inevitable failure). The dam has been cracked.

As far as the QB match-up was concerned – put me in the camp of those who think that Brady Quinn showed more tools that will make him successful in the Pro’s. Leinart’s long throws just seem to float too much. A Reggie Bush or the other great USC receivers can make mask this issue because they are much superior to the DB’s who are covering him. The DB’s are much better in the Pro’s and Leinart won’t be able to get away with many of the floaters he throws.

Brady Quinn looks like the real deal. And I don’t care what the scouts say – those same scouts picked 6 QB’s before Dan Marino the year he was drafted and they didn’t think Tom Brady was worth drafting at all.

Notre Dame is back!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Morning Links

Here's some links to read over your morning coffee:

- Every picture tells a story donut

- Christopher Hitchen's speaks to ethnic diversity in Iraq

- I sincerely hope you fail this test

- Victor Davis Hanson on "the season of our discontent"

- Bad Parenting
Saddam Hussein - A Uniter Not a Divider (at least according to CNN)

I was going to say that this was unbelieveble but sadly - its very believable:
...For example, during CNN's coverage of the election Christiane Amanpour got off on a riff about a Sunni she had met who was opposed to the new constitution.

"Never before did we talk about Sunni, Shia, Kurd," Amanpour directly quoted the man as saying without referring to a tape or any notes. "For many, many years, despite our difficulties, despite the oppression under Saddam Hussein, Iraqis never really talked about their ethnic differences. They were Iraqis first and foremost."

Then without a clear line separating the two -- "our" somehow became "their" in a single sentence -- Amanpour continued on with her analysis.

"Many people are very concerned, they say, that it is only since the war that these differences have reared their very ugly heads," she said, adding moments later, "People are very, very concerned about the possibility that somehow in the future their country will lose its unity and will be fragmented."
The Iraqi Kurds who died in mass graves spin at this spinning.
Charles Rocket

Former Saturday Night Live cast member, Charles Rocket committed suicide by cutting his own throat.

I'm probably in the minority but I always liked Rocket and I thought he had the most talent of the "new" cast that replaced the original Not Ready for Prime Time Players (Belushi, Ackroyd, Radner, etc.). I especially remember one of the Rocket Reports where Rocket followed a Times Square Santa during an average day. That day included spending quality time with Mrs. Claus (Santa coming downstrairs from a message parlor), getting some refreshment (coming out of a liquor store with a bottle of Mad Dog) and curling up for a winter's nap (going to sleep in the gutter). You have to remember that this was back pre-Guiliani when Times Square was a pit and people thought that the Escape from New York vision of the future wasn't far off.

Rocket's method of suicide immediately brought to mind the suicide by singer Elliott Smith who died almost two years ago. Smith tried to cut his own heart out.

I don't know what drove Rocket to such depths of despair but I've long held that Elliott Smith was driven to suicide because of Ben Affleck's movie Gigli (Smith's music was featured in the movie Good Will Hunting and he became associated in many people's minds with Matt Damon and Ben Affleck because of it).

Monday, October 17, 2005

Ed Wade - A Real Piece of Work

Wow! I was surprised to read how much of a jackass former Phillies GM was:
Late this summer, Wade repeatedly chewed out closer Billy Wagner - sometimes in person, sometimes over the phone - for comments he read in the newspaper and during contract negotiations. Wagner took this verbal abuse for a while, then got fed up and began hanging up on Wade.

Years earlier, Wade called a team meeting to scream at players. One pitcher said everyone buried their heads in their arms so Wade couldn't see them laughing at him.

Two springs ago, Wade was furious at Phillies beat writers, called a morning meeting and cursed for about 20 minutes. I still have the tape from that one. You should hear it. It's something else, right out of the Lee Elia school of bleeps. He got personal. Ask Philadelphia Daily News baseball writer Marcus Hayes, who remained calm as his character was assassinated and he was being called an officious [bleep]."
I get the feeling Ed Wade might be waiting a long time for another MLB GM job.

After reading that article - I was first surprised at how much of a jerk Wade seems to be. I was then left scratching my head at the question - "if Ed Wade was such a jerk - how come it was never reported?" If all the players knew he was a jerk and tuned him out and all the reporters knew - how come the fans never learned of this? What's the sense of having beat writers if they don't give you the information about the team that can only be learned in the locker-room? Most of the stuff most beat writers pass off as reporting could just as easily be gotten from STATS. Where were the Phillie beat writers when Wade was chewing out Wagner and Wagner was hanging up on him? Who is the greater failure here - Ed Wade or the reporters who either don't do their job or can only do their jobs after the fact?

HT SportsProf for the link.

EDIT: Tom at Balls, Sticks and Stuff had a similar take on Ed Wade and Miller's article
Larry Walker - Hall of Famer?

Thinking about Larry Walker possibly retiring made me start to wonder if Walker has what it takes to be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Walker played 17 seasons and here are some of his significant numbers:

Walker - 6907 AB/ 2160 H/ .313 BA/ 1355 R/ 383 HR/ 1311 RBI

He's a 5-time All-Star, a 7-time Gold Glover, and he's also the MVP from 1997.

The knock about Walker will be that his stats were padded by playing all those years in Colorado. However, he was already an All-Star caliber player before he went to the Rockies and Coors Field didn't help him win any of those Gold Gloves. Plus his OPS+ is 140 and OPS+ is adjusted for league and field biases.

On the All-Time lists Walker is 81st in batting average, 16th in slugging (here's where the Coors Field factor is the highest), 19th in OPS, 89th in runs, 80th in total bases, 50th in HR, and 84th in runs batted in.

Of the players lists as the most similar - 4 are already in the HoF and two more are probably locks for enshrinement. Is Walker a Hall of Famer? I don't know.

Many people are pushing for Edgar Martinez for the Hall of Fame but Walker's batting numbers are equal or better than Edgar's in almost every category and Walker was a 7-time Gold Glover. Dwight Evans was Walker's equal in the field (maybe a better arm on Dewey) but Walker was better at the plate. If these two guys are borderline (or almost borderline) doesn't Walker's combined batting and fielding put him over the border?

Walker finished with a career OPS+ of 140 and when you look at the list of people above and below him - it muddles the question even more. Is Walker a Hall of Famer? I'm not sure and maybe this question is another reason for Walker to come back and try to add to his numbers.

If Walker was able to put up 20 HR, 75 runs and 75 RBI next year - that would place him 41st in HR, 67th in runs, and 65th in RBI. Would that be enough to put him over the top in HoF voting? If Walker were able to put up those numbers in 2006 - then there would not be a single player that high up the list for both career runs and RBI who is eligible for the HoF and not in.

Of course Walker could come back next year and be a total flop and the lasting impression of him and his chances for enshrinement could be harmed and not helped.

This is something I'm going to have to give further thought to.
Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

Congrats to the White Sox for making the World Series. I feel bad for the Angels but I hope the players and fans don't try to make Doug Eddings a scapegoat. The White Sox just plain out-pitched them... This is cool. My wife and I have often spoken of hiking the Appalachian Trail when the kids are all grown and out of our hair... It looks like its going to the White Sox vs. the Astros which means that we will have a new World Series winner for the sixth straight year. It also means that if it is the Astros ($77 million) vs. White Sox ($75 million) - it will be the 12th top payroll vs. the 13th top payroll. So much for the Yankees or Red Sox buying championships... I wonder if the Ken Powers mentioned in the America Discovery Trail story I linked above is the same Ken Powers who got fired from the Worcester Telegram & Gazette for plagarizing Peter King? That Ken Powers seems to have dropped off the face of the earth... Larry Walker looks like a guy who should retire. He made over $12 million this year alone. The only reason I can see for him coming back would be if he feels healthy enough and signs with a AL team that has a great shot at the title next year. So unless the Red Sox, A's, Yankees or Angels want him - he's probably done. Walker is also the top MLB HR hitter ever to hail from Canada. Do you have any idea who is second for Canadians in HR?... Speaking of "do you know" - I've found that most people have no idea that "Astros" is short for "Astronauts"... If it is Astros vs. White Sox - look for someone to do a big Everett vs. Everett story. Adam Everett of the Astros was traded to the Astros from the Red Sox for Carl Everett (now of the White Sox)... In one of my fantasy football leagues I started Daunte Culpepper at QB while my opponent started Brett Farve who was off this week. They both finished with 0 points. Culpepper has single handedly killed me in that league. This is the third or fourth week where he either had 0 or negative points... Matt Stairs is second in HR among Canadian born MLB players... Speaking of Brett Favre - do you remember his performance the first game after his father died? It was legendary and what you might expect from a MVP. Call me cold but Favre was the first person I thought of after reading this. A-Rod didn't produce in the playoffs because he was sad? You decided for yourself but I know what I think of A-Rod...

Sunday, October 16, 2005

The West Wing

Here's this weeks thoughts, comments and observations on tonight's West Wing:

Finally! They finally revealed that Toby was the source of the leak. Finally! This has to be the worst kept secret ever and I for one am glad its finally revealed. The only bad thing is now we get stuck with the story line of Toby getting grilled and then fired. I'm more curious about whether Richard Schiff just gets dropped from the show like Rob Lowe than I am about the leak storyline.

Oh and - I told you so! I said it was Toby as soon as this became an issue. Anyway - back to tonight's show.

In the first fifteen minutes we had intelligent design, creationism and the death of the character who was supposed to be Arafat's body double plus Margaret getting grilled regarding the leak. That was ambitious by the writers but sometimes less is more and I think this was one of those times. The show originally became successful because witty dialogue was mixed with national events. Now we just seem to be getting muddled national events pulled from today's headlines (the people at Law & Order should sue).

The Palestinian "Chairman" dies and in all the discussion about what the Israelis will do nobody mentions the security wall? Curious. Its as if some people would like to believe the wall doesn't exist and hasn't been the best thing to happen to peace (for Israelis at least). I'm afraid both Vinick and the Israelis will start wearing black hats in the weeks to come. And how did the President and the Chairman get to be such good friends? Arafat was a murderous scumbag. Why make the fictional "Chairman" a friend of the President? I bet these writers wear Che shirts to work.

Did you notice that the first groups to complain after Santos said that God must be intelligent were the ACLU and NARAL? I can see the ACLU concerned because of separation of church and state issues but why NARAL? Are they saying you would have to be Godless to have an abortion? Oh and while we are talking about abortion - Santos comes off as a Catholic who goes to church every Sunday and yet he's Pro-Choice. Anyone have a problem with that?

Is it strange for me to say I'm sick of the leak storyline and yet be happy to be seeing more of Oliver Platt as White House Council Oliver Babish?

Another bad moon rising (as far as I'm concerned) is this new storyline about the assinations and what it has to do with UNOCAL. How much does anyone what to bet that the phrase "no blood for oil" gets uttered by someone on the show in the next six episodes?

If I were writing the show I'd do the following scenarios:

1. I'd take the Leo and Kristen Chenoweth "tension" to the next level and to the next level after that. My storyline here would end with Leo having a fatal heart attack after sex. Since the writers seem to be stealing ideas from other shows - I'd copy NYPD Blue and show someone's bare ass and that ass would belong to Kristen Chenoweth.

2. I'd have Jed Bartlett die. Yup - just kill him off. I'm sick of Martin Sheen and his dentures that don't seem to want to stay put. Bartlett's death would put Bob Russell in the oval office and it could lead to tons of interesting give and take as Josh deals with the new President through the campaign liaison - Donna Moss.

That's my West Wing thoughts for this week.

EDIT: Jamie at the Eye of Polyphemus has some more similar comments on last night's show
John Brown's Raid on Harpers Ferry

Many people look at the firing upon Fort Sumpter as the spark that lit the Civil War but I think the real spark came on this day 146 years ago when John Brown and his "army" of 21 attacked and occupied the armory at Harpers Ferry, VA.

The next day, US Marines under the command of US Army Colonel Robert E. Lee attacked Brown and his men. When the gunsmoke cleared, 10 of Brown's men were dead (including 2 of his sons) and Brown was taken prisoner and shortly thereafter he was hanged.

I find it slightly amusing that most history books and mentions of Brown on the web either gloss over or ommit completely the fact that Brown was almost certainly insane.

I'm not making any moral judgements on Brown's actions. I'm just saying that he was crazy. Seriously. When I first saw a picture of John Brown - I thought I was looking at Charlie Manson circa 1850.

EDIT: You know - it occurred to me that the John Brown / Charles Manson analogy wasn't that bad. Brown raided the armory because he wanted to arm slaves to start a full-fledged slave revolt. Charles Manson has said that he killed those folks in the Hollywood Hills because he hoped that blacks would be blamed and that would spark a race war in the US. This may be one of those things that I only find interesting.
NFL Picks

Here are my best bets for today's NFL action:

Dallas (-3) over the Giants
Carolina (-1.5) over the Lions
Bears (-3) over the Vikings (it comes down to Lovie Smith vs. Mike Tice - enough said)
Chiefs (-6) over Redskins (AFC power team vs. NFC questionable team)
Cleveland (+6) over Baltimore
Patriots (+3) over Denver (the Broncos' mojo was doomed the moment Jake Plummer shaved off his pornstache)

My top pick is the Seahawks (-9) over the Texans.

Also if you put a gun to my head I'd take Atlanta (-6) over New Orleans (I'd actually feel a lot better about this pick if Vick was out). The problem with this game is that you never know what Saints team will show up. The good Saints will win outright. The bad Saints play like the Texans.
Brett Hull Retires

The only two players who scored more goals in the NHL than Brett Hull were Wayne Gretzky and Gordie Howe. Let that sink in for a moment.

Yesterday Brett Hull retired from hockey.

Hull is 41 and instead of thinking of him as the third leading goal scorer I think of him as the number one NHL over-achiever of all-time. Hull was a pudgy kid who Canada didn't want on the national team and who was taken 117th in the 1984 draft by Calgary. Then Calgary decided they didn't want him either and so traded Hull to St. Louis for Rob Ramage (flotsam) and Rick Wamsley (jetsam) in 1988.

Hull became a star in St. Louis and I know that this bitter Bruins fan thought he was still a fluke. I thought that Adam Oates and his sure handed assists made him. I was wrong.

He always had a slapper (like his dad) but in St. Louis Hull became the king of the one-timer. He ended up with 8 seasons where he scored 40+ goals and his career 741 goals and 650 assists speak for themself. Probably most importantly to Hull - he also has two Stanley Cup wins (with Dallas in 1999 and with Detroit in 2002).

Hull was born in Canada but after he became a star he remained on the US national team because they took him in when Canada shunned him. His loyalty to the US team may be the one thing I end up remembering the most.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Ken Macha

One week after the A's said "No thanks" - Ken Macha has been rehired by the A's to a three years deal.

If this is any indication - this is going to be one wild and whoolly offseason.
USC vs. Notre Dame

A lot of hype for this game but I think it will live up to its billing either way. If ND can make a game out of it then people will be calling Charlie Weis a genius and the ND recruiting bandwagon will get a huge boost. If USC rolls - then people will say that USC is unquestionably the best team in the country. If Notre Dame manages a win then restaurants across the country will be putting Charlie Weis burgers on their permanent menus.

Some random thoughts about the game:

- Notre Dame has played USC four times when USC was ranked #1 and the Irish have lost all four of those games.

- If Brady Quinn ends with better stats than Matt Leinart then the Heisman Trophy becomes anyone's to win.

- As of this morning the line is USC -12.5 and the over / under is set at 70. I don't like to bet on teams I like (and I like Notre Dame) because it just doesn't seem right. However, if I had to bet on something - I would take the under. 70 points is a lot and I think both teams will try to run as much as possible to chew up the clock and get field position. As many have pointed out - the key to a ND win will be keeping the USC offense off the field and that means ball control (and maybe a low point total).

- Pat Forde has a nice article on Charlie Weis's kingmaking moment.

- Look for ND receiver Jeff Samardzija to have a big day. I wouldn't be surprised to see Weis run the quick pass to Samardzija the way he used to run the quick pass to Troy Brown in New England. I'd even look for one of these passes in the first series of downs and maybe the first ND play from scrimmage.

- I'm starting to get the feeling that this will be a game that be decided on a single turnover.

- Everyone has been making comparisons between this game and ND's games against Nebraska, Miami and Florida State back when those teams were ranked #1 and came into South Bend to receive a beating. For me this game has more of a feel of the Patriots / Rams Super Bowl where the Patriots were a blue collar team and the Rams were the greatest show on turf.

HT to SI's John Walters for the photo

Friday, October 14, 2005

Jake Plummer's Pornstache

Every once and a while a very worthy cause comes along. Please sign this petition.

Think of the children!

HT John "Caught twice in Eddie Murphy's car" McGurk
It Takes more than One Bullet to Kill a Bull Moose

Teddy Roosevelt always had a certain panache and he never had more than on this date in 1912 when he was shot.
Friends, I shall ask you to be as quiet as possible. I don't know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot; but it takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose. But fortunately I had my manuscript, so you see I was going to make a long speech, and there is a bullet - there is where the bullet went through - and it probably saved me from it going into my heart. The bullet is in me now, so that I cannot make a very long speech, but I will try my best.
Read his whole speech from that night here.
Morning Links

I haven't done morning links in a while - so here you go:

- "Heh" is right - HT Instapundit (and for the record - Ted Rall can suck a long brown curly out my ass)

- My respect for Mark Cuban fell several notches after reading how he's spending some of his money

- Call me a caveman but sometimes statements from the police should read like this:
"Had he survived, he would have been charged also," [Police chief] Sembach said on Thursday.
- Jessica Alba - like a cheese cracker!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Top 5 - Birthdays Today

1. Walter "Killer" Kowalski (79) - may have born in Canada but now he lives in Massachusetts and that puts him at the top of the list
2. Lenny Bruce (would have been 80 today) - one of those guys like James Dean who had to die young - it was written in the stars - its very sad that his story is more a tragedy than comedy
3. Jerry Rice (43) - the greatest receiver of all time
4. Eddie Matthews (would have been 74 today) - one of the top 5 third basemen of all-time - Wade Boggs couldn't carry Matthews' jockstrap
5. (tie) Paul Simon (64) and Summer Sanders (33) just because my buddy Bill has the biggest crush on her
Belly Dancing Librarians

You can find almost anything on the Internets

HT Straight White Guy
Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

OK - that was a petty bad call last night. A game shouldn't turn on a call like that. I know a lot will be said and written about the play but all I'm going to say is now I'm officially rooting for the Angels to win this series... Name that celebrity ass!... I saw a headline that said "Michael Vick - In or Out?" and right away I knew they were asking if he would play on Sunday. However, if I saw a headline that said "Terrell Owens - In or Out?" - I'd have to read the article to see what they were talking about... This is just awful.
"Francisco dove for it at just about the exact time this young man was kicking the ball, and kicked the ball into Francisco's neck, throat area," said Wyman, who did not attend the game but received accounts of the play from coaches and game officials.

Valle-Victorino tried to stand up but collapsed, Wyman said. A game official administered first aid until emergency workers arrived. Valle-Victorino was taken to Caritas Medical Center and then transferred to Kosair.
Francisco did not make it to see another sunset. (HT Sports Frog)... Another thing I'm tired of is that Levi's commercial where the guy beats up a new pair of jeans to look like his ratty old favorite pair. Here's something to consider - maybe if this guy wasn't always wearing a ratty pair of jeans he could get a decent job where he could afford his own car or to travel by plane instead of by bus. I don't watch that commercial and say "Awww -he really loves those jeans" - I watch that commercial and think "that guy is such a loser."

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Stuff You Are Tired Of

Nate has a list of stuff he's tired of.

Me? I'm tired of:

- Tim McCarver (don't the people at Fox know that everyone, and I mean everyone, hates the very sound of Timmy's voice?)

- All this rain (and all the driving I've been doing in this rain)

- Harriet Miers and all the talk about Harriet Miers (we haven't even had her hearings yet and I'm all-Miered out. Could we have maybe a 72-hour moratorium on discussing her worthiness or lack of worthiness? Please?)

What are you tired of? List three things (more if you're really feeling grumpy) and I'll link to your post below.

Kal's tired of the following...
Heh Heh

From the one and only Mike Ganis:
“Two For the Money” opened in theaters last Friday. They say, as they say about a lot of movies, that it’s based on a true story. Which, of course, means that nearly all of it is made up. Sorry to bust your balloon about movies, but if you believed otherwise, well, you were believing wrong. Anyway, according to my Hollywood source, this story was sold to the studio by a man called Stu Feiner, who gets credit for getting it through the machine and getting big-name talent to play the roles.

Stu Feiner has been around the block a few times in the sports picks business. Here are some opinions:

Frank Rosenthal: “You may enjoy calling him toll free, but be sure to fasten your safety belt, and place all your cash and valuables in a safety box. After that, I would urge you call Wells Fargo and hire an armed guard to protect the box.”

Tom Somach, “Stu Feiner is the biggest scamdicapper around. He has been fined by the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs for deceptive advertising practices, according to the New York Post. He also has the distinction of having run the most annoying scamdicapper commercials ever seen on television: his shouting about his touting made one want to shoot the TV screen.”

Forum talk: “Ahhh Stu Feiner....Too funny...My friends and I would call his 800 number and as a joke give him the number of our buddy, so one of those Feiner idiots would call him and harass him non-stop...The only way to get them to stop calling was to change your number!…How many squares has this chump buried?”

Forum talk: "When I get spam for refinances and other garbage I fill out the form as follows:

Name: Stu Feiner.
Address-584 W. 86th St. New York, NY 10024 (would actually be in the
Hudson River)
Type - condo
Value - over one million.
Amount owed - $50,000

The broker will call Stu. The bimbo posing as the answering service will take the number. A tout will call back over and over and pass the number on to other touts. Nothing better then scumbags calling each other. After almost two years of a torrent of calls from Stu and friends I have no qualms about returning the favor."
Like a Viking!

I'm willing to bet that this doesn't help Mike Tice's chances of staying employed as the Viking's head coach:
Doyle said behavior on the cruise included oral sex, masturbation and playing with sex toys.

A source with direct knowledge of the case said Tuesday that accounts of Vikings players having public sex on at least one of the boats matched with what witnesses had reported.
File this under "you can't teach class" or if you like "why the Vikings will never win anything":
Prior to boarding, at least one group in a limo urinated on Cathy Hough's lawn in Mound, according to Hough and police. She said she confronted the men. "I said, 'Excuse me, do you mind?' And they looked at me as if I was crazy," Hough said Tuesday. "One of them said, "It's only water, ma'am,' and he continued peeing. I said no, it's not."
Reached for comment Ravens coach Brian Billick said, "Hey - its not that bad. It's not like they killed anyone."

HT Sports Frog
Smiling Bob the Enzyte Guy

No product or commercial is more insulting to your intelligence than Enzyte’s series of Smiling Bob commercials.

If you had never seen an Enzyte commercial and you were shown a picture of Smiling Bob would you think:

A: The guy is smiling because he’s an utter moron
B: The guy is smiling because he’s convinced his penis is growing because of a pill he took
C: The guy is a moron for thinking his penis is growing because of a pill he took

Just ask yourself – what exactly is the natural way to male enhancement? Is taking a pill natural? If there were natural ingredients – wouldn’t men from the dawn of time been gobbling the substance by the handful?

In our ultra politically correct society – I’m surprised nobody has said anything about the Enzyte commercials. Talk about stereotypes.

In the commercial where Bob dives into the pool and loses his shorts – it is the black woman who is most impressed because – well you know – it’s black guys who normally have the biggest penises but the black woman never saw a penis as enhanced as Bob’s before.

How about the commercial of Smiling Bob in Japan where all of the Japanese men are intimidated by “the big wood”? The stereotype is that Japanese men all have small penises (although come to think of it – you never do see any male Japanese porn stars).

And now we have Enzyte NASCAR commercials because – you know – NASCAR fans are just stupid enough to buy “male enhancement” products. Isn’t that the stereotype?

What is funniest about the Enzyte commercials is the offer of a 30-day sample pack. So let me get this straight – a guy is going to measure himself (think of the opening scene from Porky’s) – then take the Enzyte 30-day sample pack and then remeasure himself to see the “enhancement”? Doesn’t it sound more like a SNL skit than a real product?

Now I read where Enzyte is being sued by a man who did not experience any “enhancement” and wants his money back. Is it just me or does this have all the makings of a Jerry Springer show?

Oh and while I’m being so critical – the woman who plays Smiling Bob’s wife is ugly.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Angels vs. White Sox Game 1

The best place for live-blogging goodness of game 1 is the Pearly Gates.

They're obviously Angels centric. If I knew of a White Sox blog I'd link to that too (just to be fair and balanced).
The Hobo Roy Hobbs

Greg has a link and excerpts from a pretty neat story.
Odds to Win 2005 World Series Championship

Anaheim Angels 4/1
Chicago White Sox 2/1
Houston Astros 5/2
St Louis Cardinals 3/2
Worth Saying Again - Separated at Birth?

Randy Johnson of the Yankees and Festus from Gunsmoke.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Phillies Fire Wade

Phillies fired GM Ed Wade today. You could see this coming a mile away. I'm not sure who will replace Wade but but I think the five things his replacement will have to do are:

- Get a centerfielder. Johnny Damon may make Philly a big stop on his free agent tour. Kenny Lofton was serviceable but he's Kenny Lofton.

- Trade either Jim Thome or Ryan Howard. Thome would be preferable but that would mean eating about $20 million of his remaining deal.

- Upgrade at third. David Bell is awful. The AAA guy would be better (and I don't even know who that is).

- Get Billy Wagner to re-sign. They need a closer and bad.

- Get a front line starter. Hopefully Randy Wolf will come back as an ace but you can't count on that. Not that he's an ace but maybe the Dodgers would be willing to trade Derek Lowe for Thome and $20 million. Lowe's sinkerball could keep balls from flying out of the bandbox that the Phillies call home. This would be a risk for both teams. Thome's back could go out and Lowe's fragile ego may take a beating in Phillie. The rewards could be worth the risks though.
2006 Red Sox - Part II

In Part I - I looked at who the Red Sox had under contract or had control over contract wise and I came up with 17 of the 25 roster spots filled with about $25 million to spend without adding any more money to the payroll. How will the Sox fill those 7 spots? Today I'll examine the options for the infield and catcher's positions.

1st Base - Looking at the available free agents I would say that Paul Konerko and Erubiel Durazo would be Plan A and Plan B. I think the White Sox almost have to re-sign Konerko and it may take a 4-year $52 million contract to pry him away. More likely than Konerko would be the Sox signing Durazo to a one-year deal (with second year option) and planning on Kevin Youkilis (a righty) and Durazo (a lefty) splitting time at 1st with Youkilis also getting some playing time at third. John Olerud also has to be considered and a Youkilis / Olerud would be cheaper and would also give the Sox a righty / lefty combo but Olerud is 37-years old (but a fan favorite). Durazo is coming off Tommy John surgery and could be a risk but he's got maybe more power than either Youkils or Olerud.

Another option would be a trade but for whom? Trade candidates include Chad Tracy of the Diamondbacks, Lyle Overbay of the Brewers, Ryan Howard of the Phillies, Mike Sweeney of the Royals, Todd Helton of the Rockies, and Hee Seop Choi of the Dodgers. A Ryan Howard deal for Hanley Ramirez would be sweet but what would the Phillies do with Ramirez when they already have Jimmy Rollins? Hee Seop Choi may be the least expensive of the remaining choices but I don't see the Sox trading for an older star (Helton or Sweeney) and taking on a big contract or trading for a player whose output wouldn't be much greater than a Youkilis / Durazo combo. If there is to be a trade - then I'd expect the best chances would be for Overbay or Tracy.

A final name to mention is Carlos Pena of the Tigers. The Tigers are pretty well set at first and I'd expect the former Northeastern star to be non-tendered by the Tigers. The left-handed Pena is only 27 and he kills the ball at Fenway (a .925 OPS in 11 games plus his college experience). Boston would be like coming home for Pena.

My prediction is that the Red Sox go with Youkilis as the starter but sign two out of the three choices of Durazo, Olerud and Pena to give themselves options and depth at relatively little cost. A Durazo / Pena combo would probably cost $4.5 - 5 million for one year.

2nd base - Alex Cora is under contract and I for one would like to see Tony Graffanino come back for one more year. This would be low cost for the Red Sox and it would allow Dustin Pedroia a year of seasoning at Pawtucket before joining the big club. Factor in that the free agent crop doesn't really have anything that would be a major upgrade and you come to the conclusion that the Sox will probably keep together their second half combo of Cora and Graffanino. Graffanino re-signed for one year at $1.5 million. Look for Pedroia to be the second half starter if he gets hot at Pawtucket.

Short - Renteria's contract means he's back and Cora is his back-up. Hanley Ramirez will start the year at Pawtucket.

3rd Base - I'm assuming that the Red Sox will either re-sign Bill Mueller (Plan A) or give the job to Kevin Youkilis (Plan B). I have Youkilis as Plan B simply because he can fill the spot at first and because Mueller is such a strong influence on the team and would come relatively cheap as a re-sign (my guess 2-years for $3 million per year). Barring a major trade for a 1st baseman - I see Bill Mueller coming back. Mueller gives them depth and if he gets hurt then Youkilis is there to take over third. You have to remember that if Pena or Durazo sign with the Sox and really catch fire - then the Sox can always trade Mueller who will have a reasonable contract and not be a 10-5 guy.

Catcher - With Varitek and Mirabelli both under conract catcher seems to set. Kelly Stoppach will probably be traded or maybe the Red Sox keep him as insurance against either Varitek or Mirabelli getting hurt.