Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Nevin for Hairston

The Rangers have traded Phil Nevin to the Cubs for Jerry Hairston Jr. This was a good move by Texas and a poor move in my opinion by the Cubs.

The Rangers are able to get a guy who can shore up the bench by playing several positions and they shed both Nevin's salary (or the bulk of it) and his attitude (he was a guy who didn't want to go to Texas in the first place).

The Cubs get a guy whose numbers have fallen off a cliff since the league stepped up their steroid testing (and yes I just played the steroid card). Nevin will make $10 million this year and is due another $2 million next year. Hairston is only on the books for $2.3 million this year. So you figure that the Rangers are probably sending about $5 million along with the deal. Even at the price - it was well worth it to the rangers to be rid of Nevin.

What I don't get is why the Cubs went after Nevin when they could have picked up JT Snow cheap from the Red Sox. Snow's not happy with his lack of playing time behind Kevin Youkilis and the Red Sox have Hee Seop Choi available in Pawtucket. Snow is completely expendable and the Sox would probably only have asked for a single A guy in return or a PTBNL. Plus JT Snow is only making $2 million.
Joke of the Day

Thanks to 21
Two old ladies met for lunch one day in town. "How did you get here?' one lady asked the other.
"I took a cab,' the other lady answered. 'Did you come on the bus?'
"Yes,' said her friend, 'but I make it look like an asthma attack.'
The Boer War Ends

On May 31, 1902 - the Treaty of Vereeniging was signed - officially ending the three-and-a-half-year (second) South African Boer War. Very interesting history which is for the most part forgotten these days.

A very under-rated movie about the end of this war is Breaker Morant which I heartily recommend.

Baseball Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous baseball thoughts and observations.

Kevin Millar is hitting a measly .233 for the Orioles. It still pisses me off that Millar played the majority of games at first last year for the Red Sox while Kevin Youkilis sat on the bench... Detroit still leads the AL Central but I have to wonder how long that will last if they stick with Todd Jones as their closer. Sure Jones is 16 for 17 in save opportunities but I get a feeling that Jones will have a stretch where he can't get anyone out and blows like 5 saves in a row. Just sayin' is all... The AL Central is completely beating up on the AL West. So far this season the Central is 37-22 against the West. It's true that the West hasn't really gotten to feast on he Royals yet (just 4 games so far) but its equally true that the Royals won't lie down for anyone in the West (just ask the A's who lost to KC last night)... Freddy Sanchez is finally getting a chance to start and he's making the most of it. The former pride of the Pawtucket Red Sox is hitting .327 for the Pirates with a .851 OPS. Sanchez was the key prospect that brought Jeff Suppan back to the Red Sox 3 years ago. Suppan was not a fit in Boston (and never was). He went 3-4 with a 4.71 ERA that half-season in 2003 and was out of town by the end of the year. The Pirates definitely got the best of that trade... Something tells me that Lastings Milledge is going to be the next Gabe Kapler. A player with lots of hype coming into the league and who shows flashes of greatness but can never quite put it together... Craig Counsell is probably the best player from Notre Dame playing baseball today (you can argue Brad Lidge but not Aaron Heilman) but football star Jeff Samardzija may be the next great player from South Bend in MLB. My guess is that he sticks to football though... The greatest MLB player to have gone to Notre Dame? That's easy - Carl Yastrzemski.
Top 5 Clint Eastwood Movies

Today is Clint's birthday (he turns 76 today - can you believe that?)

1. Outlaw Josey Wales
2. Any Which Way But Loose
3. Dirty Harry
4. Fistful of Dollars
5. (tie) Kelly's Heros (tie) Where Eagles Dare

Million Dollar Baby is not on the list mainly because I haven't seen it yet (not a big fan of depressing movies)

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Top 5 War Movies of All Time

I saw this post over at Nehring the Edge - and thought I'd post my own personal top five. I too love Band of Brothers but technically that was a series and not a movie.

1. All Quiet on the Western Front (either 1930 or 1979 version)
2. Paths of Glory
3. Saving Private Ryan
4. Gettysburg
5. (tie) To Hell and Back (tie) Sargent York (tie) Gardens of Stone
Manny and Plus 5 and Plus 6

Manny Ramirez needs 5 more home runs and 6 more RBI's to catch some elite Red Sox players on the all-time lists.

With 5 more HR - Manny catches Carl Yastrzemski's 452 which places him 29th on the all-time list.

With 6 more RBI Manny catches Jim Rice's 1,451 which places him in 51st place all-time.

That's some pretty elite company Manny is keeping (and passing).
George W. Bush and Polls

Peter Brown of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, asks some questions about Bush's low poll numbers. I think he may be asking the wrong questions.
Simply put, are Americans fed up with Bush's brand of conservatism, or skeptical about the president's competence, his ability to make the trains run on time?
Brown's first run-on question includes a reference to the fascist Mussolini - nice touch for a supposed neutral observer - but I think it is more valid to ask if Americans in general are sick of polls and politics more than any specific politician.

Every poll that I've seen shows Bush's numbers at very low levels. That makes news (bad news always leads). However, I've also seen other polls that show both Congress and the Senate at such low levels that it makes Bush's numbers look like the second coming of George Washington. And let's not forget the poll numbers for the main stream media which are the lowest of the bunch. Nothing seems to be polling well. Why is that?

My guess is that people are no longer answering polls partly because they think they are a waste of time and partly because people are sick of politics. Honestly, if someone called your house and asked for 15 minutes of your time - would you agree or would you quickly say "no thanks"? The only people who want to give up that 15 minutes are people with axes to grind. A pollster calls a household of Bush supporters and the thought is "not another poll" and the answer is "no time right now - just sitting down to dinner." A pollster calls someone wearing a No Blood for Oil shirt and of course they have time for the poll.

It's like an extension of the old PJ O'Rourke line. When asked why you never see Republicans protesting in the streets, he answered "Its because we have jobs." I would love to poll the pollsters to find out how difficult it is getting people (especially Republicans) to answer polls and compare that against historical numbers. I'd bet that it is getting harder and harder to get people to answer polls. Why aren't "average Americans" anwering polls any more? Its because we have better things to do with our time.

If you read Brown's piece and replace the word "public" with "people who respond to polls" - it reads very different.

I'm not hearkening back to Richard Nixon and his "silent majority" - I'm just pointing out that today the "silent majority" is sick and tired of polls and politics in general. I blame this political malaise on all the negative news and bias found in the main stream media.

If you had a co-worker who did nothing but complain and make negative comments - how long would it be before you tuned out that person? Nothing is more negative than the main stream media these days and its not like they have kept the public trust through this negativity either. CNN allowing itself to be censured by Saddam Hussein, Jordan Eason accusing the military of targeting journalists, Jason Blair, the Katrina coverage, the Koran being flushed down the toilets at Gitmo fabrications, Dan Rather's fabricated National Guard memo, etc, etc, etc.

Circulations at newspapers are down, ratings of news shows are down - people are tuning out the negativity. People are tuning out the media quicker than a guy interviewing someone for a job who has nothing posiitve to say about any company he's ever worked at.

Reading Brown's piece you would think that Bush cannot govern but then we see that his NSA candidate is approved by a 78-15 margin. General Hayden was supposed to be this controversial choice and the MSM played him up as a guy who wants nothing more than to spy on Americans but he gets confirmed 78-15? Those polls suggested that was not possible. How could those polls be so wrong?
Michael Barone and the Truth About Iraq

Barone states the truth about the run up to Iraq in order to place the situation with iran in the correct light:
In those circumstances, Saddam was not entitled to a presumption of innocence. To the contrary, any responsible American president would have had to assume that he was continuing to develop and might be prepared to use WMD. Bill Clinton was acting responsibly when he so assumed in the late 1990s. George W. Bush was acting responsibly when he did so in 2002 and 2003.

And, indeed, we were told in September 2004 by weapons inspector Charles Duelfer that Saddam retained the capacity to start up WMD programs at any time. But it also appears that those programs were not active during the run-up to March 2003. That information was unknowable at that time, however. What intelligence information could have convinced us beyond a reasonable doubt that Saddam's WMD programs were dormant? Information from someone high in the regime? Quite possibly disinformation. The failure of inspections to locate WMD installations? They were easy to hide in a large country. A sworn affidavit from Saddam himself? You've got to be kidding.
Ben Stein's Memorial Day Tribute

Ben Stein salutes the real first family in the US

Monday, May 29, 2006

Memorial Day Tribute - Wish You Were Here

So, so you think you can tell Heaven from Hell,
blue skies from pain.
Can you tell a green field from a cold steel rail? A smile from a veil?
Do you think you can tell?

And did they get you trade your heroes for ghosts?
Hot ashes for trees? Hot air for a cool breeze?
Cold comfort for change? And did you exchange
a walk on part in the war for a lead role in a cage?

How I wish, how I wish you were here.
We're just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl,
year after year,
running over the same old ground. What have we found?
The same old fears,
wish you were here.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Budweiser Buys Rolling Rock

When I hear "Latrobe, PA" - the first thing I think of is Rolling Rock beer. Well it seems now that Rolling Rock has been bought by Budweiser - the brewing will take place in New Jersey and Latrobe will only be a memory.

If Budweiser does shut down the Latrobe plant - then I will NEVER drink another Rolling Rock again.

If another beer company moves into the Latrobe plant - then I will buy that beer. I have never been to Latrobe, PA and I'm unsure myself why I feel so strongly about this. But I do feel strongly about it.

Move the plant and I'm done with Rolling Rock for good.

HT Two Grim Dudes

EDIT: There's a petition to keep the plant in Latrobe. Please sign it.
Top 5 - John Fogerty Songs

Today is John Fogerty's 60th birthday. Here are what I consider his top 5 songs:

1. Fortunate Son
2. Who'll Stop the Rain
3. Have You Ever Seen the Rain?
4. Bad Moon Rising
5. Run Through The Jungle

I also have to note that I can't stand the song Proud Mary. For some reason that song just gets on my nerves.
1982 Was Not a Good Year for Female Rock Vocalists

The Grammy nominees for 1982's Best Female Rock Vocal Performance were Wendy O Williams (of the Plasmatics), Lita Ford and Pia Zadora. I've heard cats in heat sing better than those three. All I can think of to explain this lack of talent getting nominated is the fact that in 1982 - MTV was new and people were too busy looking at their boobs to notice their singing.

I thought about this because today would have been Wendy O Williams' 58th birthday if she hadn't blown her brains out in 1998.
OK - I'll Say It!

Have you seen those commercials where you have a guy in a suitcoat and tie who is supposed to be a PC and next to him this a guy in a T-shirt and jeans who is supposed to be a Mac? In one of those commercials they are holding hands to show they are easily networked and that they "speak the same lanuguage". Suddenly an Asian girl shows up and starts holding the Mac's other hand. She is supposed to be a digital camera and the idea is that the Mac also easily speaks her "language" too. Well the thing that makes this commercial memorable for me is the fact that the Asian girls seemingly pulls an 8.5 x 11 photograph out of her ass.

Yup - a photo out of her ass. Where else could it come from? I keep waiting for the Mac guy to sniff the photo.
Heh Heh

If this is real -its damn funny.

NSFW language.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Henry Kissinger

Dr. Kissinger turns 83 today. I must say that the more I read about Henry - the less I think of him as a statesman or even as a human. The man who said, "Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac" - seemed to treat power the way Lounge Lizard Larry treated Spanish fly.
Ortiz = Clutch / A-Rod = Springy

In Bill Simmons' latest mailbag offering - one of his readers asked him to come up with a word that would be the opposite of "clutch". You have players who hit in "clutch" situations and you have players who don't. Simmons really didn't come up with a word.

I would suggest "springy".

Follow me on this. You always here people say that spring baseball games don't really count and "lets see what these teams/players are doing in the heat of the playoff race." The inference is that spring games in baseball don't count as much as fall games. Just as hits in blow out games don't mean as much as hits in the late innings of close games.

A player who gets hits when the game is on the line would be "clutch". A player who gets hits when the game has long been decided would be a "springy" player. David Ortiz would be clutch and A-Rod would be springy.

Speaking of A-Rod - I got a chuckle from this email exchange to the Sports Guy:
Q: What was [Terry] Francona thinking on Monday night? How can you pitch to Mr. March in an eight-run game? Doesn't he know that A-Job bats like .900 in six-to-10 run games? You HAVE to walk him in that situation.
-- Chris, Cincinnati

SG: (Giggling.)
Anytime you have a nickname like Mr. March or Mr. May - you are a springy player.
Heh Heh

Jennifer Anniston's nipples are our friends.

Like a cheese cracker!
Baseball Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous baseball thoughts and observations.

Is Jason Bay of the Pirates on a HR streak or what? He's got 7 home runs in his last 24 at bats... Last season the average ERA in the AL was 4.35 - this year its up to 4.76. I'm not sure what's causing the almost half-run bump... Believe it or not but the best road pitcher in the AL so far has been Mark Hendrickson of the Devil Rays with his 1.00 ERA in 27 road innings. It is doubly strange that the pitcher with the best home ERA would also be from Tampa Bay, Scott Kazmir and his home ERA of 1.29... Runs created is a stat created by Bill James that helps gauge the total overall contributions of a hitter - the formular used is:
[(H + BB + HBP - CS - GIDP) times (Total bases + .26[BB - IBB + HBP] + .52[SH + SF + SB])] divided by (AB + BB + HBP + SH+ SF)
Right now the top four offensive players in the AL according to runs created are Jim Thome (51), Travis Hafner (45), Derek Jeter (44) and Nick Swisher (44). It is interesting to note that Alex Rodriguez is not even in the top 20. In fact A-Rod would not be in the top 20 in either league... It is not surprising to see Albert Pujols lead the NL in total based with 128 but I admit that I am surprised that Alphonso Soriano is second with 120. I was wrong about Soriano not being able to adjust to RFK stadium after playing in the launching pad in Arlington these past few years... So far Brad Penny of the Dodgers has been the ace that many people thought he could be. Right now he's 5-1 with a 2.31 ERA. I hope that Paul DePodesta is feeling a little bit of vindication this morning... It is strange to see Livan Hernandez and Andy Pettitte lead the NL in earned runs allowed (each has 42 already). It was just 3 years ago that Hernandez only gave up 83 earned runs in the entire season and it was just last yar that Pettitte only allowed 66 earned runs for the entire season. Strange. I guess sometimes age doesn't creep in on little cats feet but instead pounces like a full-grown lion... To be fair to Livan Hernandez - he has been decent in his last 2 starts (2-0 with a 2.57 ERA)...

Friday, May 26, 2006

Top 5 - John Wayne Movies

Today would have been the Duke's 99th birthday. here are what I consider his top 5 movies.

1. True Grit
2. The Quiet Man
3. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
4. Rooster Cogburn
5. (tie) The Shootist (tie) She Wore a Yellow Ribbon
VDH Friday

Victor Davis Hanson (as always) crystalizes the reasons we are in Iraq and what we have gained (and at what cost):
But what did 2,400 brave and now deceased Americans really sacrifice for in Iraq, along with thousands more who were wounded? And what were billions in treasure spent on? And what about the hundreds of collective years of service offered by our soldiers? What exactly did intrepid officers in the news like a Gen. Petreus, or Col. McMaster, or Lt. Col Kurilla fight for?

First, there is no longer a mass murderer atop one of the oil-richest states in the world. Imagine what Iraq would now look like with $70 a barrel oil, a $50 billion unchecked and ongoing Oil-for-Food U.N. scandal, the 15th year of no-fly zones, a punitative U.N. embargo on the Iraqi people—all perverted by Russian arms sales, European oil concessions, and frenzied Chinese efforts to get energy contracts from Saddam.

The Kurds would remain in perpetual danger. The Shiites would simply be harvested yearly, in quiet, by Saddam’s police state. The Marsh Arabs would by now have been forgotten in their toxic dust-blown desert. Perhaps Saddam would have upped his cash pay-outs for homicide bombers on the West Bank.
Many forget that the US was already in Iraq enforcing no-fly zones at an estimated cost of $15 billion per year. Many forget that UNICEF estimated that 5,000 children under the age of 5 were dying each month under Saddam Hussein (either directly murdered or indirectly because of the sanctions and misalloction of oil funds). As VDH sums up:
We should remember the achievement this Memorial Day of those in the field who alone crushed the Taliban and Saddam Hussein, stayed on to offer a new alternative other than autocracy and theocracy, and kept a targeted United States safe from attack for over four years.
Amen to that.
El Duque / Jorge Julio Trade

I've meant to say something about the Mets trading Jorge Julio to Arizona for Orlando Hernandez. Most people think this is a good trade for both teams. I'm not so sure.

El Duque didn't seem to take to Bank One Ballpark - oops I mean Chase Field - where he had a 8.16 ERA but Hernandez was solid on the road with a 2.65 road ERA. You've probably heard that from others already - but what most people don't mention is that the decent road ERA is based only on 3 games.

What bothers me is why the Diamondbacks would give up so quickly on Hernandez? Its not like Arizona has a ton of available starters. Right now their 3 and 4 starters (Claudio Vargas and Juan Cruz) are a combined 6-5 with a combined 5.23 ERA (the average ERA for a NL starter is 4.48 so far this year). They need a starter more than a reliever. Why jump off the El Duque bandwagon so quickly?

It also bothers me that lefties are hitting a whopping .376 against him this year (lefties have always hit him well though - hitting .273 against him in his career). Ryan Howard and Chipper Jones (a switch hitter) are probably already licking their chops.

What this trade also means is that the Mets basically traded Kris Benson for Orlando Hernandez and that the Diamondbacks traded Javier Vazquez for Jorge Julio. Neither of those trades look good for the Mets or Diamondbacks.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Happy Towel Day!

Yup - today is towel day - so be sure to carry your towel today (although it is recommended that you always carry a towel around because a towel "is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitch hiker can have").

HT Musing Minds

Hmmm.... chocolate....

Scientists say that chocolate may boost brain power.
"Chocolate contains many substances that act as stimulants, such as theobromine, phenethylamine and caffeine," said Dr Bryan Raudenbush from Wheeling Jesuit University in West Virginia.

"These substances by themselves have previously been found to increase alertness and attention, and what we have found is that by consuming chocolate you can get the stimulating effects, which then lead to increased mental performance."

Dr. Nacy has some more interesting chocolate facts - such as:
If calories are an issue, store your chocolate on top of the fridge. Calories are afraid of heights, and they will jump out of the chocolate to protect themselves.
Wallace Begat McGovern, McGovern Begat Carter, Carter Begat....

Interesting look at the birth of the leftist tendencies of the modern Democratic Party.
Looking back sixty years later, the core ideas now the ideological heart of the Democratic Party are right there in Wallace's speeches, the first of which was that night. Moral relativism? Wallace believed Soviet military control over Eastern Europe was no different than American influence in Latin America. The United Nations? Wallace wanted the UN to reign supreme in areas not under the control of Russia or the United States, giving the UN control over all nuclear weapons and all major military bases around the globe. Blame America First? Unless America listened to him Wallace predicted the United States would "sooner or later" become "the image of that which we have hated in the Nazis."
The Wallace influence in the party is such that a advocate for a strong military like Joe Lieberman has no chance of ever gaining the Democratic nomination for President today. Democratic candidates seem to crave the support of people like more than say a group like the American Legion. As long as this remains the case - the Democrats only chance to win the White House will be for the Republicans to shoot themselves in the foot.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Sorry for the Light Posting

Been busy traveling. I'm sorry.

HT LGF for the cute little video
Mike Greenwell

Eric has an interesting update on what Mike "Gator" Greenwell has been doing lately.

It should be pointed out that if Jose Canseco is every stripped of his awards because of his steroids use - then the person who came in second to Canseco in 1988 for the AL MVP was Mike Greenwell.

Somehow "MVP" and "Mike Greeenwell" are words that I never associate with each other. Heck - Greenwell wasn't even the MVP of that 1988 Red Sox team. That would have been Roger Clemens who went 18-12 but had a 2.93 ERA and 14 complete games (including 8 shutouts).
Chris' Life Tips

When I find myself at crossroads in my life - I ask myself "what would Christopher Walken do?" And the path is made clear.

When I feel a little down or depressed - I picture Bill Belichick dancing to Delite's Groove is in the Heart. And I am made happy.
Heh Heh

This was one of the funniest things I've read. When I first read it - I laughed so hard I almost passed out. Traveling today so I thought I'd repost it for your enjoyment.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Joseph Goebbels

Last night the PBS show The American Experience had a documentary on Joseph Goebbels who was Hitler's Minister of Propaganda. The documentary was very well done but all through the show I was left asking, "What does Joseph Goebbels have to do with the American Experience?"

Sure there was a quick clip of FDR meeting Churchill but other than that - no American appeared in the film. The American Experience describes themselves thusly:
As television's longest-running, most-watched history series, American Experience brings to life the incredible characters and epic stories that helped form this nation.
I think a documentary on Goebbels kinda stretches this premise - don't you agree? It was sort of like tuning into Monday Night Football to see a match between Manchester United and Real Madrid. Or listening to the King Flour Power Hour announce they were broadcasting a lost live performance by Lawrence Welk.

Maybe the folks at PBS were trying to get in a not-so subtle jab on the Republicans. Would it surprise anyone if PBS had a picture of Karl Rove spliced into every 13th frame of the film the way the skull and crossbones was spliced in the movie The Exorcist?

Monday, May 22, 2006

VA Security Breach

Jason reports on potentially a pretty scary problem for veterans:
A disc containing the personal records - including names, social security numbers, and birth dates, of about 25.6 million veterans was stolen from the home of a Veterans Administration analyst earlier this month.

That's a significant security breach - and a major windfall to cybercriminals and ID Theft professionals, if the criminals realize what they have. The fact that the VA is not revealing the date of the burglary, nor the location, nor the encryption used, suggests to me that there is little reason to believe the crooks know what they stole.
Let's hope the crooks toss the disk or that the authorities recover the information before any damage is done.
Baseball Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous baseball thoughts and observations.

This observation from Lyflines was too good not to mention:
On Saturday night, Josh Beckett and Alex Gonzalez each homered. It may be the most unlikely pairing of HR in one game since Darren Lewis and Jeff Frye went back-to-back to win a game against Minnesota in 1999.
Tampa Bay is actually the hottest team in the AL East right now. The Devil Rays have gone 7-3 in their last 10 while the next best team in that stretch - the Red Sox - have gone 6-4. It just seems strange... The Rockies are back in first in the NL West. I'm telling you - the Rockies are for real and they will win the NL West this year... Scott Kazmir for AL Cy Young? He's 7-2 with a 2.39 ERA. His wins tie him for best with Freddie Garcia and Kenny Rogers, his ERA is second in the AL, and his 67 K's are second only to Johan Santana's 70... It looks like the Josh Bard for Doug Mirabelli trade was a win win for both teams. Mirabelli makes knuckleballer Tim Wakefield much more effective because of the decrease in passed balls and in San Diego - Bard is hitting .375 in 14 games with 3 HR and 10 RBI already...
Howard Dean and Privacy

Last week I saw Howard Dean on The Daily Show and he was in full bluster mode about the Bush administration and the NSA allegedly violating the privacy of US citizens with their collection of call record databases. Dean would have you believe that he and the Democratic Party would best protect the privacy of the average American. The truth is the exact opposite.

Howard Dean was successful in getting lots of cyber donations in his run for the Presidency in 2004. What he was not successful in doing is protecting the privacy of his donors. The personal information of his donors was kept in a non-secure file that could be accessed via the Internet. Strangely enough the personal information of his donors somehow wound up with the Kerry Campaign. We have to take the word of his staff that the information was not sold to the Kerry Campaign.

Howard Dean couldn't even protect the privacy of his campaign donors and yet he would have you take it on trust that he could protect the privacy of the entire country.

If that isn't bad enough - consider some of Dean's views on national ID cards and smart cards. While Governor of Vermont - Dean was in favor of an ID required just to use your computer.
Dean also suggested that computer makers such as Apple Computer, Dell, Gateway and Sony should be required to include an ID card reader in PCs--and Americans would have to insert their uniform IDs into the reader before they could log on. "One state's smart-card driver's license must be identifiable by another state's card reader," Dean said. "It must also be easily commercialized by the private sector and included in all PCs over time--making the Internet safer and more secure."
And just think of the database the government would then have on your PC use. Would you trust Howard Dean with that information?

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Ben Stein

I just read a couple of interesting nuggets about Ben Stein. That I thought I'd share. I was reading the oral history given to the Miller Center at the U of Virginia by Aram Bakshian (PDF link) - who was a speech writer under Nixon, Ford and later the head speech writer for Reagan.

Aram points out that Ben Stein was actually a speech writer for Nixon near the end of his administration (I did not know that) and that incredibly at the speech where Nixon announced his resignation to the White House staff - Stein can be seen in the background both crying and chewing gum at the same time (I absolutely love that!). As Aram Bakshian put it - Ben Stein is one versatile guy.
The Hoff

Betsy has a link to a story where David Hasselhoff tries to take some credit for the fall of the Berlin Wall. The very mention of "the Hoff" immediately makes me think of this video.

It usually takes people two viewings to realize that Hasselhoff is serious in the video and that this is not some SNL skit.

I was curious if "the Hoff" really believes that he helped end the Cold War - so I went to Ask David Hasselhoff and asked the Hoff "did David Hasseloff really help bring down the Solviet Union?" The Hoff replied, "The answer my friend is blowing in the wind." I take that as sort of a non-denial, denial.
Good Question

Chad Finn asked a very good question in his last Touching All the Bases:
Whatever happened to the NHL gambling scandal, anyway? One minute, "SportsCenter" is making it sound like Janet Gretzky is going to spend the rest of her life making female prison movies (not entirely a bad thing), and the next minute the saga of apparent Soprano-wannabe Rick Tocchet is all but forgotten as they've moved on to the Next Big Controversy or the day's sixth Barry Bonds story.
Good point! What has happened to this story? Is it just that the Coyotes are out of it and with Wayne not seen - the story is not heard? Nothing new with the prosecution of Tocchet (Janet Grezky was never going to be prosecuted - her name was just dragged through this for sensationalism). This scandal was supposed to rock hockey to its foundation (if you believed the ESPN hype). Now - poof - nothing.
Over the Hedge

I brought the two youngest to see Over the Hedge last night and I thought I'd share my thoughts on the movie.

The movie wasn't bad, it wasn't great, to use a Belichick phrase, "It was what it was." It had a very good cast with the closest A-Lister being Bruce Willis. The rest of the cast had names you knew but names of actors who in the 70's would have been waiting for calls to guest star on Love Boat. You had Gary Shadling, Steve Carrell, the never funny Wanda Sykes, Nick Nolte, Thomas Hayden Church, Eugene Levy, Catherine O'Hara, Allison Janney and in a brilliant piece of casting - William Shatner as an over-acting possum.

What put this movie over the top from being a good movie to a better than good movie was the soundtrack of songs by Ben Folds. At the end - Ben Folds does a cover of The Clash's Lost in a Supermarket (which my kids know all the words to from our long car drives and daddy having control of the CD player).

It is also interesting to note the number of animated or computer generated movies that will be coming out soon. By my count there are 3 or 4 coming out in the next 6 months alone. Animated movies are the new Western.

All in all - Over the Hedge was just good family fun.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Heh Heh

Positive proof of global warming.
Baseball Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous baseball thoughts and observations.

Some people were worried about David Ortiz playing first base but in my opinion he's a better fielder than the Phillies' Ryan Howard... NASCAR can have their Dick Trickle. Baseball had Johnny Dickshot... Carl Pavano hasn't pitched for the Yankees since last June. Now he needs surgery to remove bone chips in his elbow. Basically Pavano has been $10 million a year down the drain for the Pinstripes. Say what you want about Matt Clement - he's been a much better deal than Pavano... So much for the Braves' John Thomson leading the NL in ERA. His 6 ER in 5 2/3 last night dropped him from first to sixth (2.76) in NL ERA. Bronson Arroyo is the new ERA leader in the NL with his 2.40 mark (I'm still stunned at how good Arroyo has been so far this season but I still expect him to fall back to earth)... Speaking of falling back to earth - in April Greg Maddux was 5-0 with a 1.35 ERA. In May Maddux has been 0-3 with a 7.48. His ERA is now at 3.76... Congratulations to Framingham's Lou Merloni who played in his first MLB game last night since last May. Merloni replaced Aaron Boone at 3rd in the 8th inning but did not get an at bat. Lou couldn't have had much time in the field to savor his return though as the Pirates / Indians game went a very quick 2 hours, 7 minutes.... Jonathan Papelbon leads all of baseball with his 15 saves (in 15 chances). You cannot imagine how good this kid has been... The flip side to Jonathan Papelbon has to be Francisco Codero who is just 3 for 8 in save chances... And while we are talking about closers - am I the only one surprised to see that opponents are hitting a robust .297 against Mariano Rivera?...
The Final Salute - A Very Touching Reminder

I was reminded of this tribute that was first published by the Rocky Mountain News last November. If you don't mist up at least once while reading the article - well then you don't have a heart.

Thanks to Jessica (Greg's wife) for reminding me of the this great piece.

It is almost that time of year when TBS and Turner Classic Movies combine to show the movie Jaws on an almost nightly basis. I remember when it first came out - I really was afraid to go back in the water.

My favorite little bit of triva. Captian Quint's name means "fifth" in Latin. In the movie - he's the fifth person killed by the shark.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Christianity for Dummies

I found this to be a real stitch. A couple of my favorites:
Catholics are the New York Yankees of Christianity. They are the biggest and wealthiest team, and their owner is intensely controversial (this makes St. Francis of Assisi the Derek Jeter of Catholicism: discuss). Catholics all wear matching uniforms, and are divided into "parishes," or "squadrons," to make choosing softball teams easier. Catholics are rigidly controlled by a hidebound hierarchy that starts with priests and ends with priests' housekeepers. Catholics are not allowed to read the Bible, eat meat, or refrain from worshipping statues.

The belief that basic elements of play - like passing, ball handling, and defense - are the essential building blocks of a winning basketball team is generally referred to as "fundamentalism." The fundamentalists formulated their doctrine in the 1980s against the showy, heretical play of Magic Johnson's Los Angeles Lakers. Leading fundamentalist institutions include Bob Jones University and Syracuse. Larry Brown's failure to get the Knicks into the playoffs has been seen as a major setback for the cause of fundamentalism.
HT Baseball Crank

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Heh Heh

I'm not a fan of PETA. So - yes I found this funny.

HT Girl on the Right
The NL East

Right now the Mets lead the NL East by 2 games over the Phillies and 4.5 over the Braves. The Braves have basically owned this division since the leagues were split into three divisions. The last times the Mets won the East were 1988 and 1986 and like the Braves over the past 15 years - the Mets won mainly based upon superior pitching.

In 1988 - the Mets had a "big 3" of David Cone (20-3), Dwight Gooden (18-9) and Ron Darling (17-9). In 1986 the Mets rotation was unreal with 4 starters winning at least 15 games (and three of them sporting sub-3.00 ERA's). Bob Ojeda led with a 18-5 record, Dwight Gooden was 17-6, Sid Fernandez was 16-6 and Ron Darling was 15-6.

The Braves run of NL East championships have been accomplished mainly on the shoulders of their big 3 of Maddux, Glavine and Smoltz. Tom Glavine is now with the Mets and Greg Maddux is toiling away with the Cubs. Only John Smoltz remains in Atlanta.

To me the question of who will survive to win the NL East comes down to who will have the big 3 starters to pull ahead of the competition? The Mets have perhaps the top two starters in Pedro Martinez and Tom Glavine but who will be the third wheel? Steve Traschel? Its possible but not likely that Traschel will emerge as the third stopper in the rotation. Consider that in six years with the Mets - Traschel has lost 4 more games than he's won. I wouldn't expect a Ron Darlingish 15-6 out of Traschel.

Of course the Mets would have a much better chance of having that third stopper if they didn't trade Scott Kazmir, if Victor Zambrano didn't need Tommy John surgery, if Kris Benson's wife wasn't such an attention whore (necessitating the need to trade him) or if Jae Seo wasn't trade for magic beans.

To me the emergence of a third stopper for the Mets will have to come from either rookie Brian Bannister (2-0 with a 2.89 ERA in 5 starts) or Aaron Heilman - who should be taken out of the bullpen and put into the rotation. If either of these guys can become the third stopper - then the Mets will be tough to beat (also don't discount a trade for someone like Barry Zito of the A's).

The Phillies are putting all their hopes on the shoulders of rookie Cole Hamels who has made just one start at the MLB level. After Hamels - the Phillies have 2-1 Brett Myers and his 2.73 ERA followed by a bunch of guys with ERA's that range from 4.84 to 6.96. The Phillies are enjoying a hot run right now but I think their fade to the back of the pack is bound to happen due to their lack of top flight starting pitching.

That leaves the defending champs.

At the top of the rotation the Braves have John Smoltz and Tim Hudson. Smoltz is a money pitcher but Hudson is a bit of a puzzle. He's won 20 games but that was 6-years ago. His career ERA is 3.38 but 2 of his top 3 ERA's have come the past 2 seasons (strangely - his highest ERA of 4.14 came the year he won 20 games). I've never known what to make out of Hudson. Is he a Cy Young contender or an ace pretender?

Right now the third man in the rotation is John Thomson - who I've long been a fan of. Thomson also happens to be leading the NL in ERA with his 1.87 mark. He definitely has the makings of a third stopper.

As far as offense is concerned - it may surprise you that Atlanta leads the East in both team average and team OBP. The Phillies lead in SLG but with no pitching they just become the East coast version of the Rockies.

So all this has been is a long exercise just to say that I think the Braves still win the East this year unless Brian Bannister emerges as a stud rookie or unless the Mets trade for a number one caliber starter.

To be the champs - you still have to beat the champs.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

George Bush and Five Point Plans

Monday President Bush unveiled a five-point plan to address the border security and illegal immigration issue while almost two years ago to the day (May 24, 2004) he unveiled a five step "plan to help Iraq achieve democracy and freedom."

Like Monday's speech - the May 24, 2004 speech was to address the most pressing issue of the day. I think it is most telling that our Southern border has surpassed achieving Iraqi democracy and freedom as the most pressing issue of the day. This speaks volumes to the progress that has been made in Iraq (whether the MSM wants to admit it or not).

The five steps that Bush outlined in his May 24, 2004 speech were:

- First "hand over authority to a sovereign Iraqi government"
- Second "help establish security"
- Third "continue rebuilding Iraq's infrastructure"
- Forth "encourage more international support"
- Fifth "move toward a national election that will bring forward new leaders empowered by the Iraqi people"

Of the five steps - maybe the forth wasn't as successful as we would like but I think it can be argued that the other four have been carried out with great degrees of success.

Two years ago the country was aghast at video of Zarqawi beheading an innocent American. As recently as last week Zarqawi was the butt of jokes for his latest video which portrayed him as a guy who couldn't handle a gun.

Two years ago people were talking about Iraq as a quagmire. Today people have put thoughts of Iraq on the back burner while issues like the border with Mexico take center stage.
Doug Flutie and the Hall of Fame

I'm a big Flutie fan but my first reaction to the question of him going to the Pro Football Hall of Fame was "no way." And that initial reaction was reinforced by the fact that Flutie is not in the career top 50 of any of the major NFL passing categories. However, The Cold, Hard Football Facts does put forth a pretty good case for Flutie. This was my favorite part of the article:
# After returning to the NFL, Flutie led Buffalo to a 10-5 record and an AFC playoff appearance in 1999. In the greatest douche move in NFL history, Buffalo coach Wade Philips inexplicably benched Flutie the week before the playoffs.
# With Flutie on the bench, the Bills lost in excruciating fashion to Tennessee, courtesy of the famed “Music City Miracle.”
# The Bills have not returned to the playoffs since that day and have posted just one winning record – a 9-7 season in 2004.
It was a douche move by Wade Philips and one of the reasons Philips is no longer a head coach. Flutie had a similar douche move played on him in New England in 1988 where his play got the Patriots to 9 wins and a possible berth in the playoffs only to have super douche Raymond Berry replace Flutie the final game of the year with Tony freakin Eason.
Deep Thoughts from Wretchard

The Belmont Club has an unusual post up this morning. I guess by definition any post that is partly about Umberto Eco's Name of the Rose will be unusual. I was left thinking that the quote, "But while he lived, he lived" would be a fitting epitath for anyone and that the closing paragraph should be read at least twice by anyone posting on the Internet:
For these somewhat fanciful reasons I hope that the blogosphere will become less a cockpit of argument and ideas -- though it will always be that -- and more a forum for action: a place to facilitate meetings between real people, develop actual applications and accomplish physical tasks. There never was a flower, a glass of beer or a child's laugh that was ever truly futile. Et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.
The Latin at the end loosely means "and always will be thus" or "forever". The post by Wretchard made me think of this thread over at Live for today, be a simple kind of man, do the things you love and understand. Et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.
Top 5 - AL ROY Candidates

Here are who I consider to be the front-runners for the AL ROY Award:

1. Jonathan Papelbon Bos
2. Justin Verlander Det
3. Kenji Johjima Sea
4. John Koronka Tex
5. Joel Zumaya Det

Interesting that in the NL - the majority of the ROY candidates are position players but in the AL the majority are pitchers.
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

My wife sent me this email (via my father in-law) and I thought the information was more than worthy of passing on (although I'm not sure if I buy the off duty restrictions placed on the guards).

Edit: Large Bill comes through with the straight scoop on the off-duty questions. I should have known this because in Gardens of Stone more than a few beers are tossed back.:
On Jeopardy the other night, the final question was How many steps does the guard take during his walk across the tomb of the Unknowns ------ All three missed it ---?

This is really an awesome sight to watch if you've never had the chance Very fascinating.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

1. How many steps does the guard take during his walk across the tomb of the Unknowns and why??

21 steps. It alludes to the twenty-one gun salute, which is the highest honor given any military or foreign dignitary.

2. How long does he hesitate after his about face to begin his return walk and why?

21 seconds for the same reason as answer number 1

3. Why are his gloves wet??

His gloves are moistened to prevent his losing his grip on the rifle.

4. Does he carry his rifle on the same shoulder all the time and if not, why not?

He carries the rifle on the shoulder away from the tomb. After his march across the path, he executes an about face and moves the rifle to the outside shoulder.

5. How often are the guards changed?

Guards are changed every thirty minutes, twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year.

6. What are the physical traits of the guard limited to?

For a person to apply for guard duty at the tomb, he must be between 5' 10" and 6' 2" tall and his waist size cannot exceed 30." Other requirements of the Guard: They must commit 2 years of life to guard the tomb, live in a barracks under the tomb, and cannot drink any alcohol on or off duty for the rest of their lives. They cannot swear in public for the rest of their lives and cannot disgrace the uniform {fighting} or the tomb in any way. After two years, the guard is given a wreath pin that is worn on their lapel signifying they served as guard of the tomb. There are only 400 presently worn. The guard must obey these rules for the rest of their lives or give up the wreath pin.

The shoes are specially made with very thick soles to keep the heat and cold from their feet. There are metal heel plates that extend to the top of the shoe in order to make the loud click as they come to a halt. There are no wrinkles, folds or lint on the uniform. Guards dress for duty in front of a full-length mirror.

The first six months of duty a guard cannot talk to anyone, nor watch TV. All off duty time is spent studying the 175 notable people laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery. A guard must memorize who they are and where they are interred. Among the notables are: President Taft, Joe E. Lewis {the boxer} and Medal of Honor winner Audie Murphy, {the most decorated soldier of WWII} of Hollywood fame.

Every guard spends five hours a day getting his uniforms ready for guard duty.


In 2003 as Hurricane Isabelle was approaching Washington, DC, our US Senate/House took 2 days off with anticipation of the storm. On the ABC evening news, it was reported that because of the dangers from the hurricane, the military members assigned the duty of guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier were given permission to suspend the assignment. They respectfully declined the offer, "No way, Sir!" Soaked to the skin, marching in the pelting rain of a tropical storm, they said that guarding the Tomb was not just an assignment, it was the highest honor that can be afforded to a serviceperson. The tomb has been patrolled continuously, 24/7, since 1930.

God Bless and keep them.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Happy Birthday Lou

Happy belated birthday to Lou.

Don't get a big head though Lou - I'll still take you down in Texas Hold 'Em.

Maybe A Large Regular Texas Hold 'Em on line tourney is in the future?
Bush's Speech

Two more thoughts on Bush's immigration speech that I'd like to share.

First, I agree with Tran Sient when he asks, "When is my ATM going to stop asking me what language I speak?" This question has always been annoying to me and I know I'm not alone with this. Bush could have scored big points last night if during the "melting pot" part of his speech he called for banks to have ATM's in English only. Of course that wasn't going to happen but I do think Tran's question exposes a weakness in what Bush laid out last night.

Bush called for a high tech Immigrant ID card. Right now probably the most high-tech card people carry is an ATM or credit card. If our technology is not sufficient so that our ATM cards can tell ATM machines that we speak English first - how will these new Immigrant ID cards be sophisticated enough to tell the real immigrants from the illegal ones with fake ID's?

Secondly, last night I had the closed-captioning on my TV while watching the speech. I got a good chuckle out of the person typing in the speech as the President spoke. At the end of the speech Bush spoke about Master Gunnery Sergeant Guadalupe Denogean. I could picture the closed captioning typer saying, "Who? How the f*ck do you spell the name? Well I'm just gonna skip that!" And they did. The text looked like "Laura and I met a wounded Marine named... Sergeant... came to the United States from Mexico." Or "During the liberation of Iraq, Master Gunnery Sergeant... was seriously injured." It was like looking at a CIA memo that had the names of people blacked out. I just found it amusing.
Out of Left Field

Hey - Neate Sager has a blog called Out of Left Field. Neate describes his blog as, "A occasionally bile-filled, barely coherent, but ultimately insightful take from one sports-obsessed, unrepentant hick." I would clarify that he's a Canadian hick - which means he's more likely to go on about pond hockey than John Deere tractors.

You know that site goes straight to the blogroll and becomes a regular daily stop.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Live Blogging George Bush's Immigration Speech

7:40 Everyone brings their own personal bias to political issues and I thought I'd be upfront and tell you mine before the speech begins. My parents immigrated to this country from Ireland - legally. I root for people who come to this country to make a better life for themselves and their families. To me that's the real backbone of this great nation. At the same time - I want newcomers to this country to obey the rules just as my parents did.

As far as my politics - I'm first-generation Irish-American, both my parents had union jobs and I'm from Massachusetts. In short - you would expect me to fit the model profile of a Democrat. That's not the case though - I'm registered as an Independent and even though I've voted Republican in the last five presidential elections - I still don't consider myself a Republican. Maybe the label that fits me best is Reagan-Democrat.

7:46 Good thing Bush's poll numbers are already down because interrupting sweeps week TV season finale's may really tick off segments of the population more than the immigration issue itself. As for me - I'll be greatly tempted to flip over to the Red Sox / Orioles game. With all the rain in New England - I haven't gotten a Sox fix since Friday. Currently 2-1 Boston.

7:54 Fox owns I did not know that.

8:00 Sorry I couldn't type and watch at the same time. This was an excellent speech. A home run! The speech basically spoke to five specific issues and maybe it would be best if I took them one at a time.

8:20 First the border must be secured. Currently there are 9,000-12,000 border security personnel. If I recall correctly - both Governor Swartzenegger of California (R) and Governor Bill Richardson (D) of New Mexico have both said what is really needed are just the border patrol personnel that have long been promised. Bush now promises not just the promised border guards but also an additional 6,000 new border guards. To me this is a very wise investment because it is much cheaper to hire a border guard than to hire a prison guard (and many people feel that a large number of the "illegals" crossing the border will end up as criminals).

To bridge the time gap between when the additional border guards come on line - the President will deploy 6,000 members of the National Guard to do logistical and non-police related duties.

Two quick semantic points (1) I love the idea that Bush described people as "sneaking" across the border - that's probably the best way to put it; (2) I'm glad that he used the phrase "illegal immigrants" instead of the heinous "undocumented workers" but I still prefer the traditional "illegal aliens" - however the X-Files probably has forever taken that phrase out of the immigration debate.

8:33 Second - put an end to "catch and release". The awareness of the catch and release immigration policies has grown exponentially these past few months and this is a big part of the frustration which caused the President to have this speech in the first place. Something tells me that this may be the hardest of the five points touched on in the speech to actually implement.

8:37 Third - employer sanctions. Many people think that along with more border guards - this is the most important solution to the illegal immigration problem. Simply enforce the laws on the books!

Let's give credit for our current law where credit is due - according to the interview of Annelise Anderson by the Miller Center of Public Affairs - it is William French Smith who is the force behind getting our current law on the books:
William French Smith [the first Attorney General under Reagan] was dealing with the problem of illegal immigration and there had been a lot of studies of this and that, how many illegal aliens have been coming in. None of these studies were really that good, but Alan Simpson, the Senator from Wyoming, and somebody in the House wanted to have employer sanctions so that it became illegal to hire an illegal alien... William French Smith continued to support the employer sanctions and it passed in 1986. Didn't pass until then. Of course Smith was no longer Attorney General, I think Ed Meese had become Attorney General. He was confirmed in 1985.
As part of Bush's new plan the prospective immigrants would be required to obtain a new Immigrant ID card which would utilize the latest technology. This is better than the idea of a National ID cards which former Interior Secretary James Watt once described as "the mark of the beast". I'm not sure if Watt was kidding but I can no longer hear a discussion of National ID cards without chuckling and thinking of Watt's words.

8:47 Fourth - no amnesty but a realistic answer to those illegals already here. This is the real can of worms and to my thinking the potential minefield for the Democratic Party. Making the illegals who are already here citizens will probably increase the roles of the Democratic Party but these folks are competing for jobs against the very people who make up the core of the votership for Democrats. It wil be interesting to watch how this sticky wicket is resolved.

8:52 Fifth and final - make sure we continue to embrace the idea of the American melting pot which is just an important ideal as the "City on a Hill" ideal. Bush made sure that he made clear that part of the melting pot is learning and speaking English.

8:55 One final thought; this is not an economic issue. This is a security issue. Take a look at the unemployment rates among the border states.

US Department of Labor - Bureau of Labor Statistics
- Texas at 5.0% unemployment in March 2006. At 5.3% average for 2005 and 6.0% average for 2004.
- New Mexico at 3.9% unemployment in March 2006. At 5.3% average for 2005 and 5.7% average for 2004.
- Arizona at 4.0% unemployment in March 2006. At 4.7% average for 2005 and 5.0% average for 2004.
- California at 5.0% unemployment in March 2006. At 5.4% average for 2005 and 6.2% average for 2004.

At a 5.0% unemployment rate there will be competition among employers for the scarce labor pool. This is a good problem to have but it doesn't mean we turn a blind-eye to people who hire undocumented workers and break the law or worse exploit people based upon their economic and legal status.

The Red Sox are winning 8-1 in the 7th. Everyone have a nice night.
Doug Flutie and "The Pass"

On the 20th anniversary of the Miracle in Miami - I wrote about where I was that day when Flutie became a football immortal. On this day of Flutie's retirement from pro football - it seems fitting to once again reminisce.

Can you remember where you were when Flutie completed that pass to Phelan?
Doug Flutie Retires

Doug Flutie has retired from the NFL. I purposely didn't say "he hung up his cleats" because anyone who knows the hyper-competitive Flutie knows that he's not done playing - just done playing for pay. Flutie will probably be playing competitive flag football when he's 60.

Some people are debating whether Flutie deserves enshrinement in Canton. I think Eric McErlain handles this questions quite deftly. The only way Flutie winds up in the Hall of Fame is if the ball he used to do a drop kick against Miami last year is sent to Canton.

One thing some people still hold against Flutie is the fact that in order to play for the Patriots in 1987 after being traded by the Bears - he crossed a picket line to play with replacement players to do it. It must have been tough on the blue collar Flutie - the decision to cross a picket line up against the dream of playing for the local franchise you grew up rooting for. I'm mildly surprised that most articles don't mention this fact.
Heh Heh

Roger Clemens added to U.S. diplomatic bullpen

Bobby Jones

Very interesting article on the gravesite of golf legend Bobby Jones.

HT Sports Frog
It's Still Reagan's World

Michael Barone does an excellent job of putting the politics of the last quarter-century in perspective.
Thus, the crunchy, confrontational right was in its years in power not so widely popular as the soggy, consensus-minded center-left. Yet surely history will regard Thatcher and Reagan as more consequential leaders than Blair and Clinton. Thatcher and Reagan defined the issues and argued that, as Thatcher once famously said, "There is no alternative."
Barone's history lesson also helps put into perspective Bush's current polling numbers.
Baseball Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous baseball thoughts and observations.

It could be that the best value among last year's free agent crop was none other than Kenny Rogers who is currently 6-2 with a 3.23 ERA for the Tigers. I don't think it is a stretch to say that Rogers' performance is a major reason Detroit is only a 1/2 game back in the AL Central and 2 games up in the Wild Card race. People knew that the Tigers had a great 1-2 combo with Jeremy Bonderman and Mike Maroth but Rogers gives them the type of depth that propelled the White Sox to the World Series last year... Wow - was it only three years ago that Bonderman and Maroth combined for 40 losses?.... Cleveland is more games out of first place than Tampa Bay - just sayin'... When did Randy Johnson become John Burkett?.... Yes that was THE Scott Erickson pitching for the Yankees yesterday. Erickson may be old but he was 6-years younger than the guy he relieved (just to help put Johnson's age in perspective)... Three out of the top 5 batting averages in the American League belong to members of the Toronto Blue Jays. Alex Rios is second with a .367 mark, Vernon Wells is 4th at .358 and Johnny Pesky favorite Shea Hillenbrand is 5th with his .348... I predict that by the end of the month that Ichiro will be back over the .300 mark where he belongs... Alex Gonzalez is known for his great glove but mediocre at best bat. Yet Gonzalez leads Richie Sexson by 31 points in batting average and 43 points in OBP while just trailing Sexson by 16 points in SLG. Unfortunately for Mariners' fans - they have the equivalent of Alex Gonzalez hitting clean-up... The White Sox are back in first and a huge reason for that is the resurgence of Scott Podsednik in May. In the first month of the season Podsednik hit just .233 with a measly .281 OBP in the leadoff slot. In May Podsednik has been white-hot with a .417 average and a .523 OBP...
Jeane Kirkpatrick - Correct Then, Correct Today

Interesting profile of Jeane Kirkpatrick in today's Washington Times. It is noteworthy that the "why do they hate us?" strain of Democratic foreign policy is nothing new. This is Kirkpatrick from 1984:
"When Marxist dictators shoot their way into power in Central America, the San Francisco Democrats don't blame the guerrillas and their Soviet allies," Mrs. Kirkpatrick said of her party, which had just had its national convention in San Francisco. "They blame United States policies of 100 years ago. But then they always blame America first."
Replace "Marxist dictators" with "Islamist terrorists" and that "they always blame America first" statement still rings true.
Mrs. Kirkpatrick argued that America's "posture of continuous self-abasement and apology vis-a-vis the Third World is neither morally necessary nor politically appropriate" and concluded that the McGovern-Carter crowd had confused "liberal idealism ... with masochism."
Again - still true today. It should be noted that Jeane Kirkpatrick was a Democrat when she agreed to be Reagan's UN Ambassador in 1984 and that she was brought to Reagan's attention by Richard Allen (there's that name again).

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Bush, Polls and History

Daniel sent me the link to this CNN poll. The crux of the poll is that the respondents found Bill Clinton superior in most areas to George Bush.

I don't put too much stock in polls like this. At this stage of his administration - Harry Truman was polling pretty poorly as well. The polls then would have had you believe that people were pining for the days of Calvin Coolidge never mind FDR.

The poll did remind me of a quote I read recently from Richard Allen (who I have become a big fan of). Back in 2002 Allen had this to say about how Ronald Reagan would be remembered:
What we do know is that when President Reagan passes, it will be one great national event. Even people who to this day can't stand him or his policies will say, "Well, I didn't like him, I didn't vote for him, but at least you knew where he stood." That was a very interesting thing that can't be said of all Presidents, certainly not about [Bill] Clinton.
When people look back at George W. Bush - they'll at least know where he stood.
Baseball Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous baseball thoughts and observations.

This is a bit dated but still funny... Nomar appears to be back to his old form (.360 BA, 5 HR, 21 RBI). I hope he can keep it up. Nomar deserves better than the injury plagued seasons he's had the last few years... Jeremy Bonderman was the "player to be named later" that completed the Ted Lilly for Jeff Weaver three team trade (A's, Tigers and Yankees). Can you imagine how dangerous the A's rotation would be if Bonderman was still in Oakland? Bonderman threw 8 innings of shut-out ball yesterday and is 4th in the AL in K's and is second in innings (plus he sports a 3.74 ERA)... Many people are on the Jose Contreras bandwagon but I say that when the season is all done - Roy Halladay will be the AL Cy Young winner... San Diego has the best road record in baseball at 11-4. What's up with that?... May 13th - the day the Reds fell out of first place in the NL Central. Will they be back in first again at anytime this season? Somehow I doubt it... Talk about night and day. In April Omar Vizquel hit .375 and was leading the league. In May he's hitting just .159 and his overall average has dropped to just .298... How strange is this? The Colorado Rockies have a better team ERA (4.30) than the Atlanta Braves (4.36)...
Hillary and Murdoch

I got a laugh from this editorial in the Boston Globe about the new relationship between Hillary Clinton and Rupert Murdoch. Just four paragraphs in Godwin's Law was brought to the forefront:
Politics may make strange bedfellows, but for sheer cynicism and mutual expediency it's hard to beat this alliance. Maybe the Hitler-Stalin pact.
Attitudes like this from Robert Kuttner almost guaranty a Republican in the White House in 2008. Heaven help any Democrat who tries to be a centrist or walk in Harry Truman's footsteps. Never mind that is where most of the voters reside - a Democrat will have to be hard left or have no traceable positions at all to make it through the gauntlet of Kuttner and his ilk come the primaries. That will guaranty a loss in the general election come November of 2008.
Cole Hamels and the NL ROY Race

Last year Pirates rookie Zach Day went 8-2 with a 1.81 ERA but because he started so late in the season - he was not able to overcome the rookie seasons of position players who started equally late. Day finished 5th in the voting while Ryan Howard won even though he had only 312 AB and Jeff Francoeur finished 3rd even though he had just 257 AB.

Cole Hamels was brought to the bigs earlier in the season than Day was. Will that be enough to position him for the NL ROY? Or are there position players out there who have too big a head start? Here are what I consider to be the top 5 NL rookies so far:

1. Hanley Ramirez FLA (.336 BA)
2. Prince Fielder MIL (.328 BA, 8 HR, 22 RBI)
3. Josh Willingham FLA (.306 BA, 7 HR, 28 RBI)
4. Ryan Zimmerman WAS (.261 BA, 6 HR, 20 RBI)
5. Sean Marshall CHI (2-1, 4.93 ERA)

So it looks like Hamels would need to have a great year AND have the top three on the list just have an awful second halfs in order to win the NL ROY. It looks to me that Hamels will probably finish higher than Day did last year but still not win the award.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Hoosiers - Where Are They Now?

I saw Hoosiers again last night and it reminded me of this link that I first found over at Off Wing Opinion about 2 years ago.

Very interesting article that details what the players from the movie Hoosiers have done with their lives since shooting the film.
Condoms for Cheapskates

This was worth a chuckle.

The President Tapping Phones for Political/Foreign Policy Reasons

With all the press focused on the NSA getting records of calls from the US to and from suspected terrorists abroad - I thought it was worth while to look back at the actions of President Lyndon Johnson. According to Richard Allen's oral history given to the people at the Miller Center of Public Affairs - LBJ had his phones tapped to try and find out if anyone was interfering with the Paris Peace Accords and the Vietnamese (both North and South). Allen was the foreign policy advisor to candidate Richard Nixon at the time:
There's been a recent book on this very topic about the interference in the elections. She [Anna Chennault] tried to get to me. I wouldn't permit her to talk to me, but President Johnson then tapped our telephones. This is the second highly illegal action, I think. Well of course, he may have thought he had a legitimate right to if he suspected national security, but it was a political campaign after all, and he did tap our phones - illegally.
The phone taps were carried out by the CIA in what Allen calls, "the first proven illegal investigation of a U.S. citizen by the C.I.A."

This is the very sort of thing that the left would have you believe that Bush is carrying out. What is strange is when you look at history you see JFK tapping Martin Luther King's phones, LBJ going after Richard Allen or Clinton allowing good ole boy buddies pour over the FBI files of potential political rivals. In fact the very act that Bush is using to legally monitor the communications "to acquire foreign intelligence information without a court order" was an act signed into law by Jimmy Carter (Executive Order #12139).

What Bush is doing in monitoring the phone records (as opposed to the phone taps noted above) is both legal and necessary in the fight against radical Islam. The folks on the left don't seem to trust Bush because they know how their leaders have acted in similar circumstances. Projection pure and simple.

Two more quotes from Allen that I found noteworthy.

On the CIA's ability to keep secrets, "There are more secrets in the Department of Agriculture than in our Central Intelligence Agency."

On Richard Nixon, "There was a lot of good in him [Richard Nixon] in terms of policy, but not to much good in terms of human relations."
Wily Mo as a Yankee?

I think it is worth noting that if the Red Sox did not make the pre-season move of trading Bronson Arroyo to the Reds for Wily Mo Pena - then right now Pena would be the number one target of the Yankees to replace Hideki Matsui as starting left fielder.

The merits of the Wily Mo for Bronson trade are still debated but that debate should take into consideration that taking Wily Mo Pena off the market may force the Yankees to make due with the substandard Bubba Crosby. That's a big plus for any Red Sox fan.

Some of the names being bandied about as replacements for Matsui make no sense. For instance:

- Junior Griffey - the Reds have new owners and trading Griffey just to move his salary would send the wrong message to the fans. With the Reds in first place right now - why would they make this move?

- Torii Hunter - the Twins aren't going anywhere this season but what would the Yankees have to offer for Hunter? Closer to the All-Star game the return value for Hunter will be best and I'm sure the Twins can find better offers for Hunter than what the Yankees will manage to come up with.

- Jay Payton - why would Billy Beane trade to the Yankees when if all goes well they might meet in the playoffs? Besides - Payton has never been great shakes at Yankee Stadium (career .740 OPS).

- Alphonso Soriano - again why would new owners trade thir top draw? The Nationals aren't going anywhere but it is not like the Yankees would be able to trade them a cornerstone prospect for Soriano. Ryan Church is much more likely but he's just a Bubba Crosby clone and they already have Bubba Crosby.

EDIT: Lyflines had similar thoughts on Wily Mo yesterday:
Red Sox fans who've complained about the Arroyo for Pena trade (and you know who you are) should be thrilled that Pena's in Boston instead of New York. Just like last year, when the Yankees could have used Jay Payton to fill their black hole in CF, the Red Sox have added the kind of depth that Yankee fans are wishing they had.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Red Sox vs Yankees

The Red Sox took 2 out of three from the Yankees by winning last night 5-3. Here are a couple of miscellaneous thoughts on last night's game:

- If you were a neutral observer you would have to say that the Red Sox deserved this win more than the Yankees - mostly based upon the performance of the starting pitchers. Tim Wakefield went 6 innings, struck out 9 (while walking 3) and threw 71 strikes to just 35 balls. Shawn Chacon on the other hand went just 4 2/3 and was extemely lucky to have just given up a single run. Chacon allowed 5 hits and walked 5 (while striking out just one batter) and he was very fortunate because his outfielders were able to rob both Mike Lowell and Doug Mirabelli of home runs. Of the 104 pitches Chacon threw - half of them were balls. Chacon was lucky the Sox didn't hammer him.

- I feel bad for Hideki Matsui - he's a tough player not to like (broke his wrist and still had the presence of mind to get the ball back into the infield). Now he'll be out for months. Now the Yankees lack of depth will be exposed. Now you will be deluged with rumors about Torii Hunter, Jay Payton and Junior Griffey going to the Yankees. I don't feel confident about the situation because the possibility exists that some unknown will step up and more than fill Matsui's shoes the way Aaron Small filled the hole in the starting rotation last year.

- Even though hearing the song means that the Yankees have lost - I still hate the Liza Minelli version of New York, New York.

- Mo Rivera is a Hall of Famer but whenever I see him I can't help but chuckle and think of his Sons of Sam Horn nickname of Fruit Bat. Admit it - he does look like a fruit bat.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Great Star Wars Spoof Video

This was good stuff - Emperor after the first deathstar explodes

Slavery - Once Again Barney Miller Proves to be Ahead of Its Time

I saw this article about a Saudi Arabian couple indicted for "keeping a young Indonesian woman in their home as a virtual slave" mentioned over at Instapundit. Gateway Pundit also reports that this is not the first case of a Saudi famly convicted of keeping a slave.

It may be just the way I think but as soon as I saw the mention about slavery - my first though was of an episode of Barney Miller from 1978 about a Burmese chauffeur who was kept as a virtual slave. The big difference between the real-world cases cited above and the Barney Miller example was that the guy keeping the slave in the TV version couldn't be prosecuted because he was a diplomat assigned to the United Nations. Then again - would anyone be surprised that diplomats to the UN in New York were keeping slaves?

Once again - Barney Miller proves to be a show ahead of its time.
DC Should Have Congressional Representation

Betsy points out this article this morning. I think that Washington, DC should have its own Congressman simply because it is the right thing to do.

This country was founded in part because of the belief that there should be no taxation without representation. Either give the residents of DC a representative in Congress or make them exempt from all federal income taxes.

Like Betsy - I do not like the idea of giving Utah an additional "at-large" congressman just to balance things out. If Utah deserves an additional seat based on the latest census - have them put together the congressional district. This isn't the Missouri Compromise we're talking about.

I think a Senator for DC would be overkill but that a Congressman would be just right. However, I think the issue of an additional District in Utah and representation for DC are separate issues. The whole way this issue is being approached underlines why people are so sick of politicians these days. When faced with simple right or wrong issues - the politicians first look to how it effects them instead of what is the right thing to do.
Red Sox vs Yankees

Sometimes you're the windshield and sometimes you're the bug. Last night the Red Sox were the bug - getting beat 7-3 in the Bronx.

The Red Sox loss dropped them back to a tie for first in the AL East with the Yankees. In hindsight - the main story to last night's game should probably be Terry Francona's decision to skip Matt Clement's normal spot in the rotation in order to move up Curt Schilling a day and get Tim Wakefield a start in the series.

Of course hindsight is 20/20 but you do have to wonder why Francona would be messing with the rotation this early in the season. I'm of the mind to get the guys the extra day of rest when you can but by the same token - I can't fault Francona too much for making this move because his goal was to take every game against the Yankees seriously.

Another side-story to last night's game is the continued struggles of Jason Varitek at the plate. For the season Varitek is hitting just .224 and for the last 10 games he's hitting just .184. So far in this series - Varitek is 0-9 against the Yankees. Maybe it is time to drop Varitek down in the order and move the red hot Mike Lowell up in the batting order?

It also should be noted that NESN has been touting May as the countdown to 200 wins for Curt Schilling. That's the kiss of death. Schilling is at 197 right now and this countdown to 200 talk is as big a jinx as talking about a no-hitter to the pitcher in the 5th inning. Thanks alot NESN. Now it is almost certain that we'll have to wait until June for Curt's 200th.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Heh Heh - Good Joke
The only cow in a small town in Poland stopped giving milk. The people did some research and found that they could buy a cow from Moscow for 2,000 rubles, or one from Minsk for 1,000 rubles. Being frugal, they bought the cow from Minsk.

The cow was wonderful. It produced lots of milk all the time, and the people were amazed and very happy. They decided to acquire a bull to mate with the cow and produce more cows like it. Then they would never have to worry about the milk supply again.

They bought a bull and put it in the pasture with their beloved cow. However, whenever the bull came close to the cow, the cow would move away. No matter what approach the bull tried, the cow would move away from the bull and he could not succeed in his quest.

The people were very upset and decided to ask their wise rabbi what to do.

They told the rabbi what was happening. "Whenever the bull approaches our cow, she moves away. If he approaches from the back, she moves forward. When he approaches her from the front, she backs off. An approach from the side and she just walks away to the other side."

The rabbi thought about this for a minute and asked, "Did you buy this cow from Minsk?"

The people were dumbfounded, since they had never mentioned where they had gotten the cow. "You are truly a wise rabbi," they said. "How did you know we got the cow from Minsk?"

The rabbi answered sadly, "My wife is from Minsk."
HT Sports Frog
Interesting Rock and Roll Factoid

The Cal Ripken of rock and roll.

I wasn't aware that the streak was still alive.

I posted this riddle before but for some reason I've been getting a ton of Google hits for it lately. So I figured that I'd post it again.

You have two coins in your pocket that total $.35. One of the coins is not a dime. What two coins do you have in your pocket?

Last time I posted the answer in the comments but I think I'll let someone else guess first.
Red Sox / Yankees

Last night the Red Sox spanked the Yankees 14 to 3. The game did have some interesting subplots though:

- Randy Johnson went 3 and 2/3 and was awful. He was only charged with 2 runs but gave up 7. He had 5 walks to only 3 strikeouts. After the game Dennis Eckersley on NESN said Johnson looked "horrible" and like "an old man" and the Eck hoped that maybe at least Johnson had an excuse like a bad back or other injury to fall back on. So far this year Johnson is averaging just 5 2/3 innings per start. I agree with Eck and think Johnson may have a bad back but if that's not the case then the Yankees won't even beat out the Blue Jays for second place in the AL East.

- A-Rod comes up big in a big game! [sarcasm off] A-Rod's error in the second inning really opened the flood gates. Without that error - Johnson gets out of the inning and may have a chance to settle down. Instead the Big Unit leaves down 7-2 and had to take his 3rd loss of the year. A-Rod actually made 2 errors in this game while Mike Lowell made a great bare-handed grab and throw. If A-Rod finishes above Lowell or Eric Chavez in the Gold Glove voting this year - then you know the voting is fixed.

Speaking of Lowell vs A-Rod - Mike Lowell leads A-Rod in the following categories H (39-29), 2B (19-4), batting average (.339 to .259), OBP (.398 to .382) and SLG (.557 to .455). A-Rod leads just in runs (26-19 - A-Rod has had Sheffield and Matsui batting behind him while Lowell has Alex Gonzalez and his .221 batting average) and HR (6-2). It should also be noted that Lowell is batting .333 with runners in scoring position while A-Rod is just hitting .270.

- Mark Loretta looks like he's broken out of his April slump. So far in the seven games played in May - Loretta is hitting .375 (12 for 32). That's the player we all expected. I will say that Robinson Cano looks like the real deal with the bat and even if Loretta is back to his 2004 form - the Yankees may have the offensive edge at 2nd base.

- Worcester's Tanyon Sturtze continues to struggle against the Red Sox. So far this year he's pitched in both games but now has to carry a 36.00 ERA and the Sox are hitting a blistering .667 off the Saint Peter-Marian grad. For his career - Sturtze has a 5.90 ERA against Boston and the Sox players are hitting .312 off the big righty.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Chad Finn

I find it hard to believe that the Boston Globe (or doesn't utilize the talents of Chad Finn. His Touching All the Bases is one of the most entertaining blogs going - the Globe could have this content for very little extra money but instead Finn gives it away for free. If someone needs a sports columnist in Boston - they should snap him up.

Here was his latest offering from Sunday

The bits on James Donaldson and Bryan Warrick had me laughing out loud.
Mets Restructure Glavine's Contract

Interesting tidbit from The Hardball Times:
The Mets restructured Tom Glavine's contract. He was making $10.5 million this season, with $5.25 million deferred at 6% interest. Now, his 2006 salary is cut to $7.5 million, with $5.25 million still deferred at 6%. In exchange for that, he gets a 2007 player option at $5.5 million and $12 team option. The player option will be increased by $1 million each for 180, 190 and 2000 IP, the team option increases by $2 million for 180 IP and both of them have a $3 million buyout.
Was this a good deal by Glavine?

He basically gave up $3 million this year to guaranty a contract next year (he gets the $3 million back if he doesn't exercise his option or the Mets exercise theirs). If Glavine sucks up the house the rest of the year - he gets a minimum of an additional $2.5 million next year (the $5.5 million minus the $3 million he's forgoing this season) but given the innings incentives for this year it is likely his contract will be worth at least an additional net $5.5 million next season (Glavine has pitched at least 200 innings 9 out of the last 10 seasons). Chances are he could pitch very well this season and force the Mets to pick up their option on him. In that case he probably makes $11 million next year (the $12 million minus the $3 million he's forgoing this year plus the $2 million incentive for 180 innings - it has been since 1994 that Glavine has failed to reach 180 innings). Also lets not forget that Glavine will have the PR bonus of going for his 300th win next year.

I think this was a very wise move by Glavine and probably by the Mets too.