Monday, July 31, 2006

Mel Gibson

So Mel Gibson was arrested for a possible DUI. That surprised me because I thought he was an alcoholic and on the wagon. And I guess that during his arrest he had some pretty nasty anti-Semitic things to say. That surprises me less than him being off the wagon.

Seriously - how can anyone be surprised when a Hollywood star turns out to be a moron in real life? Seriously (or as Al Gore would say "I'm totally cereal").

I wasn't even going to comment on this except I ran across this headline "Jewish groups call for hate-crime probe on Mel Gibson" Hate crime? You've got to be kidding. Charging Mel Gibson with a hate crime for spouting off anti-Semitic gibberish while drunk would really be pushing things into the land of the bizarre (but luckily I work best in the land of the bizarre).

Literally my first two thoughts upon reading that linked article were:

1. If they did charge Mel Gibson with a hate crime for saying among other things,
""F*****g Jews. The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world."
Gibson's lawyers could produce a bizarro Miracle on 34th Street scenario where the prosecution may have to prove that all the wars in the world are not caused by "the Jews". Can you imagine that courtroom scene?

2. You know someone is going to go back and redub some of Gibson's finer work with anti-Semitic language for comic effect. How long before someone redubs Gibson's speech to the men before the battle of Hastings, "They may take our lives but they'll never take our freedom - those f*cking Jews."

I'm disappointed but not surprised that Mel Gibson turned out to be a bigot but being a moron is not a crime and charging people for saying stupid things while they are drunk has to be one of the dumber things I've read in a long time.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Top 5 - Baseball Players from Ohio

Here are who I consider the top 5 players born in Ohio.

1. Cy Young - the all-time wins king
2. Pete Rose - the all-time hits king
3. Mike Schmidt - the greatest 3rd baseman of all-time
4. Roger Clemens - you can swap #3 and #4 but for me Clemens is just a notch below Schmidt
5. Phil Niekro - 318 career wins
Top 5 - Arnold Schwarzenegger Movies

Arnold turns 59 today. Here are what I consider his top 5 movies:

1. The Terminator
2. True Lies
3. Terminator 2
4. Conan the Barbarian
5. Predator

Not making the list - Jingle All the Way
Yankees to Get Abreu and Lidle in Trade

According to ESPN - the Phillies will be sending outfielder Bobby Abreu and starter Corey Lidle to the Yankees in exchange for 4 top prospects.

As a Red Sox fan - I like this trade very much. Let me explain why.

When the Yankees were winning championships in the 1990's it was mainly around a core group of players who had come up through the Yankee farm system like Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte. The buy all the top free agents and take on the big contracts method to managing the roster has gotten them nothing. This trade further empties the Yankees cupboards of prospects and means they will have to continue with the duct tape with high priced older player approach.

On top of that - I'm not really that impressed with either Abreu or Lidle.

Bobby Abreu has topped 30 HR only twice and comes with a contract that will pay him $15 million in 2007 and $16 million in 2008 (team option but may have to be picked up in order for Abreu to waive his no-trade clause). Sure the short porch in right seems custom made for him but big deal. The bandbox park in Philadelphia is supposed to be custom made for Abreu too but he's only got 8 HR this year (for comparison sake - Red Sox SS Alex Gonzalez has 8 HR this season). Put me in the school of thought that thinks Abreu is over-rated and over-paid.

I am also interested to see how the team chemistry reacts when Matsui and Sheffield both come back from injury. There just won't be enough at bats for all three players (especially with Giambi taking up the DH slot). Sheffield is in his free agent year and you know he'll make a stink if he feels he isn't getting enough playing time. This should be fun to watch.

Corey Lidle is in short nothing special. Average would be the best word to describe him.

EDIT: Earlier I said the Yankees were sending "top prospects" to the Phillies but it looks now that flotsam and jetsam were sent to Philadelphia. I still like the trade from the Red Sox perspective.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Braves Trade Betemit to Dodgers for Baez

The Braves traded Wilson Betemit to the Dodgers for Danny Baez and Willy Aybar. My first reaction as that it was a bad move by the Braves to trade Betemit but after taking a look at what Betemit has done on the road in his career - I'm not so sure.

Betemit road - 125 G / 292 AB / .264 BA / .312 OBP / .744 OPS

Compare that to what Betemit does at home:

Betemit home - 108 G / 203 AB / .305 BA / .383 OBP / .815 OPS

This year at home Betemit has been red hot:

Betemit home 2006 - 39 G / 75 AB / .333 BA / .412 OBP / . 958 OPS

No wonder Braves fans love the guy. They see him play at a home game and he looks like a stud. However, going to Chavez Ravine will probably not improve his "road" numbers so I doubt we are looking at the second coming of George Brett. My advice to fantasy baseball guys is to NOT go out and grab Betemit thinking that he's going to be a stud now that he'll be getting a full-time playing opportunity.
Baseball Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous baseball thoughts and observations.

You could make an argument for Chien-Ming Wang as the MVP of the Yankees. He has the most innings pitched on the staff and his 12 wins are tied for tops with Mike Mussina. Can you imagine where the Yankees would be without Wang? Yankees fans love the Wang... The top 6 players in runs scored in the NL are all from the NL East. I'm not sure if that says something about the potent offenses in the NL East or the lousy pitching... People keep talking about rookies Franscico Liriano and Justin Verlander as Cy Young candidates as well as ROY leaders but don't forget about Josh Johnson of the Marlins who just happens to be leading the NL in ERA (2.60 - Lirano is tops in MLB with his 1.96 and Verlander is at 2.69)... Everyone seems to want to push Joe Crede for the AL Gold Glove at 3rd but he has twice as many errors as Mike Lowell (8 to 4). Of course this argument could be moot seeing how the Gold Glove seems to be the personal property of Oakland's Eric Chavez who has won the last 5 Gold Gloves at 3rd... If it seems like there's been a lot of offense in the AL this year - that's because there has been. The average team OPS in the AL is .775. That's the highest its been since the league average OPS was .792 in 2000...

Friday, July 28, 2006

Top 5 - Baseball Players from West Virginia

Here are who I consider the top 5 players born in West Virginia.

1. George Brett - one of the top 3 third basemen of all-time
2. Jesse Burkett - Hall of Fame oufielder who spent his final days in Worcester - career .338 batting averge
3. Bill Mazeroski - Hall of Fame second baseman
4. Wilbur Cooper - career 216-178 with a 2.89 ERA and 279 complete games
5. (tie) Lew Burdette - 203-144 with a 3.66 ERA (tie) Toby Harrah - 4-time all-star
John Kerry and the Frank Burns Defense

UN Ambassador John Bolton basically handed Senator John Kerry his hat during this exchange regarding talks with North Korea:
John Kerry: This has been going on for five years, Mr. Ambassador.

John Bolton: It's the nature of multilateral negotiations, Senator.

John Kerry: Why not engage in a bilateral one and get the job done? That's what the Clinton Administration did.

John Bolton: And, very poorly since the North Koreans violated the agreed framework almost from the time it was signed.
Its is amazing that Kerry could try and hold up the Clinton bilateral talks with North Korea as any sort of success. It is as if to Kerry's thinking the agreement they reached was a very good one but its not their fault the North Koreans tricked them.

It reminds me of Kerry trying to defend his vote FOR the war in Iraq before he voted AGAINST the war in Iraq. Kerry once tried to explain that he only voted for the war because the administration tricked him. Maybe I'm naive but don't you want someone savvy enough to tell the truth from the subterfuge dealing with Foreign Policy? At this point Kerry seems so easily fooled that it would not surprise me to see him fall for the "I got your nose" trick.

The person John Kerry really reminds me of is Frank Burns from the TV show M*A*S*H. Frank once explained to Margaret "Hotlips" Houlihan that his wife tricked him into getting married. She tricked him by saying she liked him. This isn't the first time that in my mind John Kerry made me think of Frank Burns.

HT Gateway Pundit

Thursday, July 27, 2006

The Funniest Thing I've Heard in a Long Time

Paul Anka covering Nirvana

This is from his ablum Rock Swings (I'm seriously buying this).

HT to the Straight White Guy
Happy Anniversary to Bugs Bunny

On this date in 1940 - Bugs Bunny (along with Elmer Fudd) first appeared on the silver screen. With the possible exception of Humphrey Bogart and Cary Grant - no other "film" star from this period has held up as well as Bugs Bunny.

And in the spirit of anniversaries for Bugs:

Baseball Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous baseball thoughts and observations.

The Red Sox may lead the Yankees by just 1.5 games but they are in a very good position to run away with the division. The Red Sox have so far played 10 more road games than home games which means the Sox will be playing the larger percentage of the remaining games at Fenway where they so far have a .711 winning percentage. The Yankees remaining schedule is about evenly split between road and home games... Bad news for Toronto - they're in the opposite situation from the Red Sox. They've played 11 more home games than road games. That means they play the majority of their remaining games on the road (which also means I'm probably going to be wrong about them winning the Wild Card)... With the Red Sox having so many remaining games at home - the real race for them may be for the best record in the AL. Right now they trail the Tigers by 6.5 games - something to keep an eye on... Is it just me or does it seem that the Dodgers went from first in the NL West to last in the NL West in a blink of an eye?... Wanna bet that the Dodgers are floating Derek Lowe as trade deadline bait?... For the first time I think all season - the Yankees now lead the race for the AL Wild Card (by .5 games over the White Sox and Twins)... Manny Ramirez, Vernon Wells and Justin Morneau are the only three AL players in the top 10 in batting average, HR and RBI. I owe an apology to Justin Morneau. I guess he's not the next Rob Deer...

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Interesting Point

I think anyone who follows baseball is aware that the fans in New York have been all over Alex Rodriguez. The booing has been deafening. But has it been warranted?

A caller to WEEI in Boston brought up an interesting point - A-Rod isn't struggling as much as Jason Giambi but Giambi's getting a free pass.

A-Rod in July - .291 BA/ 5 HR / 17 RBI / .902 OPS
Giambi in July - .194 BA / 4 HR / 15 RBI / .707 OPS

I think the fact that A-Rod has 21 K's in July to Giambi's 16 hurts the perception of A-Rod as does all the errors in the field - A-Rod leads all AL 3rd basemen in errors with 18 (Mike Lowell of the Red Sox has just 4). However, Giambi rarely plays the field but is still tied for the lead among AL 1st basemen with 7 errors. Most people agree that Giambi is a stone hands fielder.

Many people think that A-Rod is the Yankees' highest paid player but Giambi will paid $19 million this year by the Yankees - A-Rod counts for just $14 million on the Yankees' books (some money is deferred and some will be paid by Texas).

I think people just don't like A-Rod and that's why he gets booed. Know what? I don't like the phony either.
Players Raising Their Trade Value

It is possible that none of these three players will be traded before the July 31st trade deadline but there is no denying that if they are on the trade block - that they have definitely upped their trade value. Here is what Aramis Ramirez, Luis Gonzalez and Eric Hinske have done over the last seven days.

Aramis Ramirez - .370 (10/27) BA, 7 HR, 11 RBI
Luis Gonzalez - .545 (12/22) BA, 2 HR, 5 RBI
Eric Hinske - .417 (10/24) BA, 4 HR, 9 RBI

Hinske is on the books for $5.63 million next year and that money could probably be better used elsewhere since Troy Glaus and Lyle Overbay are ahead of Hinske at 3rd and 1st base on the depth chart. San Diego or Anaheim are possible suitors.

Gonzalez has a $10 million mutual option next year. Gonzo is a 10-5 player and could veto any trade. The Tigers are a definite possibility.

Ramirez is owed $22.5 million for the next two seasons but can opt out of his deal at the end of the season if he wishes. The Padres need a 3rd baseman but can they afford Ramirez's contract?
Chris Matthews Meltdown

After reading the transcript and listening to this rant by Chris Matthews this morning - I had these observations:

1. Chris Matthews has the type of mindset that probably criticised Ronald Reagan for calling the Solviet Union an Evil Empire. I can picture a young Matthews seething about that comment thinking "He can't say that - that takes away our ability to negotiate with these people. Reagan should have checked with the State Department before using language like that."

2. Matthews is seriously stuck in a 60's - Vietnam War mindset.

3. Read the transcript and check how many times Matthews is basically just suggesting a policy of appeasement. Peace in our time!

4. I gather Matthews advice to Israel would be the equivalent of "its going to happen - just lay back and enjoy it."

HT Instapundit

I think one reason why some on the Left are so quick to embrace this terrorist group is because they think Hezzbolah is a rather cool name (like how Che shirts are cool). However, if the media started calling Hezzbolah "The Party of God" instead (it is what Hezzbolah actually means) - then the Left would drop Hezzbolah in a New York minute. You know the Left wants nothing to do with God and especially nothing to do with a group that calls itself the Party of God.

(Insert joke about Republicans being the Party of God in the US here.)
Top 5 - Baseball Players from Maryland

Here are who I consider the top 5 players born in Maryland.

1. Babe Ruth - very easy choice as #1
2. Lefty Grove - Hall of Fame pitcher - Bill James ranks Grove as the second best starting pitcher of all-time
3. Jimmy Foxx - Hall of Fame 1st bseman - 9-time All-Star and 3-time MVP - career .325 batting average AND 534 HR
4. Cal Ripken - 19-time All-Star and 2-time MVP (you can flop #3 and #4 if you like but I place Ripken a notch below Foxx)
5. Al Kaline - Hall of Fame outfielder - 15-time All-Star and 10-time Gold Glove winner

There was a lot more talent in Maryland than I was aware of. Five spots and five top Hall of Fame players. Impressive.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Trade Rumors

Just some thoughts on some of the rumors floating out there:

- It has been rumored in a number of places that the Red Sox are "leveraging" Trot Nixon. The logic goes that Nixon is going to be a free agent who is unlikely to be re-signed combine that with the fact that his power numbers are down this season and he's having an awful July somehow adds up to him beig traded. That's crap. Nixon's defense is very valuable. Its tough to play right field in Fenway and Nixon has it down pat. He is also very popular and the Sox are very mindful of making unnecessary PR mistakes. Trot's not going anywhere (he may even take a hometown discount to return for 2007).

- Is it me or would it just make too much sense for the Mets to trade for Jae Seo? The Devil Rays probably wouldn't be asking for too much (especially since Seo is 0-5 since coming to Tampa).

- The Tigers would love to get a veteran left-handed bat and it should be noted that Trot Nixon kills the ball in Detroit - a career 1.220 OPS at Comerica Park (just fucking with you).

- Tony Armas Jr. could have the biggest impact of any starting pitcher traded before the deadline. That tells you how thin the pitching depth is this year.
Alphonso Soriano

Just a couple of thoughts about Alphonso Soriano who remains with the Nationals despite reports to the contrary.

1. Tim Kurkjian and ESPN were reporting that Soriano was bound for the White Sox in a deal built around Brandon McCarthy. Now it seems like McCarthy isn't part of the equation and that Scott Podsednik would be the key piece going to DC from Chicago. I like Tim Kurkjian best among the ESPN baseball folks (of course that doesn't include Hall of famer Peter Gammons) but the report of the Soriano / McCarthy "trade" is just the latest example why you HAVE TO take baseball trade rumors with a huge grain of salt. (Probably the funniest was Buster Olney reporting that a possible Mike Lowell for Jake Peavy trade was being discussed.)

2. There is no doubt in my mind that Jim Bowden was Kurkjian's source for the trade rumor. Jim Bowden is an idiot (in fact I think A Large Regular is the first match if you Google that phrase). If he burns Ken Williams by leaking this stuff then Crazy Ken Williams may just come out and say he will never deal with Bowden again. That hurts Bowden's attempt to stay employed or get a new job if the Nationals decide during the off-season to go in a different direction. Also - if his information to Kurkjian turns out to faulty - then he may have burned a bridge in the press as well.

3. Back in the spring of 2004 - there was a chance that Alphonso Soriano could have been traded from the Rangers to the Dodgers in exchange for either Odalis Perez or Edwin Jackson. Seeing how Perez just netted just Elmer Dessens or that Edwin Jackson (and LHP Chuck Tiffany) was traded this year for just RHP Danys Baez, RHP Lance Carter and a PTBNL from the Tampa Bay Devil Rays - do you think the Dodgers wished they pulled the trigger for Soriano back when they had the chance?
Top 5 - Baseball Players from Delaware

Here are who I consider the top 5 players born in Delaware.

1. Delino DeShields - the leader in most batting categories by a player from Delaware
2. Chris Short - All-Star in 1964 and 1967
3. Dave May - All-Star in 1973
4. Sadie McMahon - 173-127 with a 3.51 ERA
5. (tie) Kevin Mench - biggest hat size in baseball (tie) Randy Bush - very slim pickings from Delaware
Harold Reynolds Fired by ESPN

Man this came from out of left field.

It used to be that Baseball Tonight used to be my favorite show on TV. Karl Ravech is vastly under-rated as a host who smoothly transitions bits, does highlights and asks the right questions to get the panel involved. And BBTN had Peter Gammons! Reynolds had been a mainstay of the show and while I almost never agreed with him - he was never grating on your nerves. Plus Reynolds did double duty by doing the color at the College World Series each year. In fact - I had started associating Reynolds with the College World Series as much as BBTN.

Now with Reynolds gone and with Gammons recovering and maybe not returning - the show is Ravech and a bunch of hacks. John Kruk and Jeff Brantley aren't Tim McCarver annoying but they are close. Plus there's a reason Steve Phillips doesn't have a job as a GM. This show used to be Happy Days - now its Joanie Loves Chachi.

I'm sure there is more to the story of why Reynolds got fired. I hope that it wasn't over money.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Now I Know Al Gore is Wrong

So I'm reading Peter King's Monday Morning Quarterback expecting football talk and I get this:
Wherever you are, have you noticed the weird weather patterns in the last few months? Unending, intense rain. High winds. It was in the midst of a 12th day of measurable rain in a 14-day period that I saw An Inconvenient Truth, the Al Gore movie about global warming.

This is the most apolitical piece of advice I could ever give you, because I realize Al Gore is not popular with all of you. And I really don't care very much about Gore weaving details of his personal life into the global-warming lecture. But you should see this movie and judge the facts for yourself. What's happening out here is no isolated occurrence. It's going to keep happening and it's going to get worse. Facts are facts. And we all need to do something about this phenomenon of the Earth heating up and the polar ice caps melting. This is not exactly the venue to warn the world about global warming, but all you football junkies readying for your fantasy drafts should do one real-world thing in the next couple of weeks: take two hours to see this movie. I'm not saying you'll be glad you did, because it's going to slap you around mentally a bit. But it's something you need to see. You don't want to wake up in 15 years with the Earth permanently damaged and huge portions of the Earth's surface under water, forever.
King is notorious for bad preseason picks (last year he picked the Minnesota Vikings to win the Super Bowl - instead the Vikes completely missed the playoffs). I really wish he would just stick to football though. When he brings up subjects like baseball or politics - he just comes off as a goofball.

I would also like to know if King went out, sold his car and bought a Prius before preaching this stuff to his readers. I really doubt it though. Kings strikes me as the type of guy who likes his air conditioning and comfort too much.
A Question for John Kerry

Many in the blogosphere are abuzz over John Kerry's hubris comment about the current conflict between Israel and Hezzbolah. Kerry said, "If I was president, this wouldn't have happened." Woody at GM's Corner and Betsy Newmark have both called into question what Kerry would have done different.

My question for John Kerry is different. I want to know why John Kerry is not at work.

The Senate is still in session which means John Kerry is supposed to be in Washington doing the job he was elected to do. Instead John Kerry is jaunting from place to place. Friday in New Orleans, Saturday in South Carolina and Sunday in Michigan. Now Saturday and Sunday are obviously weekend days but on Friday John Kerry should have been expected to be on the job in Washington. During the campaign for President (and even prior to that) - Kerry was notoriouly absent from his responsibilities of being a representative of the State of Massachusetts and doing his duties as a Senator.

You would think that Kerry, having used up all his sick and vacation days during the campaign, would be extra careful about attending to his duties now. However, John Kerry just doesn't seem to care about doing the job he signed on for and so continues to be absent without leave from the Halls of Congress.

I think it is time Darrell Crate put the Veterans for Working Senators back into action.
Top 5 - Baseball Players from Pennsylvania

Here are who I consider the top 5 players born in Pennsylvania.

1. Honus Wagner - the greatest shortstop of all-time (I wouldn't argue about flip-flopping #1 and #2 on this list)
2. Stan "the Man" Musial - 20-time All-Star, 3-time MVP and 2nd all-time in total bases (to Hank Aaron)
3. Ken Griffey Jr. - 11th All-Time in HR (and climbing) but don't forget those 10 Gold Gloves
4. Roy Campanella - Hall of Fame catcher - only played 10 season but in those seasons he made 8 All-Star teams and was MVP 3 times
5. (tie) Eddie Plank - Hall of Fame pitcher - 12th all-time in wins with 326 (Greg Maddux is 1 win behind) and owner of a career 2.35 ERA (tie) Reggie Jackson - the straw that stirred the drink (tie) Nellie Fox - Hall of Fame second baseman 12-time All-Star and 1959 AL MVP

Just missing the cut - Frank Thomas, Mike Mussina, and Hall of Fame pitchers Herb Penncock and Rube Waddell plus arguably the greatest hitting catcher of all-time - Mike Piazza.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Top 5 - Baseball Players from New Jersey

Here are who I consider the top 5 players born in New Jersey.

1. Joe "Ducky" Medwick - Hall of Fame outfielder 10-time All-Star and NL MVP in 1937 when he won the Triple Crown
2. Derek Jeter - still he's no Nomar but I'll give him his due
3. Goose Goslin - Hall of Fame outfielder - 24th in all-time RBI with 1,609
4. Don Newcombe - 1956 MVP and Cy Young Winner
5. Al Leiter - 162-132 with a 3.80 career ERA
Golf Today - Blog Tomorrow

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Top 5 - Willem Dafoe Movies

Today is Willem Dafoe's 55th birthday. Here are what I consider his 5 best movies.

1. Platoon
2. To Live and Die in LA
3. Clear and Present Danger
4. The Boondock Saints
5. Spider Man

Almost making the cut were Mississippi Burning and The Last Temptation of the Christ.
Hillenbrand / Gibbons - Tale of the Tape

Just because I haven't seen this information posted elsewhere (and with apologies to Nick Bakay).

Of course I am referring to the recent brouhaha between Shea Hillenbrand and Blue Jays manager John Gibbons who challenged Hillenbrand to a fight. I would have bought the pay-per-view package for this matchup. But who holds the edge?

Gibbons 44 / Hillenbrand 31 - advantage Hillenbrand

Gibbons 5'11" / Hillenbrand - 6'1" - advantage Hillenbrand

Gibbons 200 lbs (approx) / Hillenbrand 200 - advantage Hillenbrand

Gibbons - John / Hillenbrand - Shea - advantage Gibbons. The first names have to be mentioned. A boy named Shea doesn't have the same anger as a boy named Sue. Let's face it - Shea is just a wimpy name. Whereas John is a strong traditional name.

You have to think that Hillenbrand is in the better shape but Gibbons holds the advantage in guile, willingness to duke it out and authority (always tougher to take on the older brother type). I would have handicapped this match as an even money bout and those are the best to watch. This would be even better as a UFC match. Get these guys into the octagon!
Shea Hillenbrand Traded to Giants

Shea Hillenbrand was traded to the San Francisco Giants along with flotsam Vinnie Chulk for reliever Jeremy Accardo.

Just a word of warning to Giants fans - Hillenbrand has not really been a second half player in his career.

After the all-star break his batting average drops by 23 points, his OBP by 26 points and his slugging by 41 points. Hillenbrand may be an upgrade at 1st but he's not an upgrade for the Giants over Pedro Feliz at 3rd. Accardo has an almost 4-1 K/BB ratio this year which is very good for a reliever. Plus the Blue Jays save about $2.5 million. Jettisoning Hillenbrand while strengthening the bullpen and saving money for a possible second half salary addition make this a very good move by the Blue Jays.

Time will tell if the upgrade at 1st was worth the downgrade in the bullpen for the Giants. My guess is that this was just a treading water move by San Francisco.

EDIT: I just read a phrase in a book that seems to fit Shea Hillenbrand to a tee. "He was a man of hot blood and of cold brain." Props to Barbara Tuchman.
Jack Warden

Jack Warden passed away at the age of 85. He was one of a kind and he will be missed. Funny thing is - Jack Warden wasn't a "star" in the usual sense. He wasn't the leading man but his presence often was that missing ingredient that made a movie memorable. If Jack Warden was a member of the 1975 Red Sox - he would have been Bernie Carbo.

People forget that it was Bernie Carbo's home run that made Carlton Fisk's dramatic home run possible. Similarly - it was Warden's Max Corkle that made Warren Beatty's Joe Pendleton really sympathetic and funny in Heaven Can Wait. It was Warden's gritty Mickey Morrisey who added depth to Paul Newman's Frank Galvin in The Verdict. It was Warden's crazy Justice Rayford that made Al Pachino screaming "This whole court is out of order" memorable in And Justice for All. The list could go on and on.

Maybe more impressive than his acting resume is the fact that Warden served in both the US Navy and then the US Army (as a paratrooper in the famous 101st - think Band of Brothers). Jack Warden fought at the Battle of the Bulge. That is the type of fact that I did not know till his death but at the same time the type of fact that does not surprise you. Jack Warden just seemed like the type of guy who would have fought at the Battle of the Bulge and never mentioned it.

Rest in peace Jack Warden. They truly broke the mold when they made you.
Top 5 - Baseball Players from New York

Here are who I consider the top 5 players born in New York.

1. Lou Gehrig - the Iron Horse
2. Warren Spahn - 13-time 20-game winner and 14-time All-Star
3. Alex Rodriguez - pains me to do this but its true
4. Eddie Collins - Hall of Fame 2nd baseman (Bill James ranks him as the 2nd best 2nd baseman of all-time)
5. Carl Yastrzemski - Captain Carl - 6th All-Time in hits and the last man to win the Triple Crown (people also forget his 7 Gold Glove Awards)

Just missing the cut were Wee Willie Keeler, Hank Greenberg, Frankie Frisch, Jim Palmer, Whitey Ford, Johnny Evers, Craig Biggio and King Kelly. Everyone who missed the cut is a Hall of Famer (except Biggio but I'm sure he'll be in too). There were even some Hall of Famers who did not make the Honorable Mention. Suffice it to say that there were a lot of great baseball players from New York.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Top 5 - Hemingway Books

Today would have been Papa's 106th birthday. I will raise a toast to him tonight. Here are my top books by Papa Hemingway.

1. The Old Man and the Sea
2. A Moveable Feast
3. The Sun Also Rises
4. By Lines (Journalism for the Toronto Star)
5. To Have and Have Not
Chip Reese

Paul(y) McGuire (AKA Tao of Poker) has an excellent piece on Chip Reese's $1.7 million victory in the $50,000 buy-in HORSE WSOP event. The piece really resonates with me because of the background Pauly gives on one of the best poker players in the world.
Chip Reese was born in Dayton, Ohio where he played poker as a kid using baseball cards as currency and chips. He was a talented gin-rummy player and also excelled at backgammon. During his teens in Dayton, Reese regularly sat in the same games with World Poker Tour announcer, Mike Sexton. Reese graduated from Dartmouth College with a degree in economics. He crushed all the games on campus and when he graduated, the card room at his fraternity house was named the David E. Reese Memorial Card Room in his honor. He was accepted into law school at Stanford University and planned on a career as an attorney.

As the legend goes, in 1974 on his way out to California to attend law school, Reese stopped off in Las Vegas with only $400 in his pocket. He started playing low-limit Seven-card Stud. By the end of the weekend, he won first place in a Seven-card Stud tournament, which paid $60,000. He never made it to Stanford. A year passed before he finally told his parents that he did not attend law school. He had been spending that time as a professional poker player in Las Vegas. He was once quoted saying, "Law doesn't have the same monetary incentive as poker."
Sports and Bremertonians

With the Red Sox heading out West to play the Mariners starting tonight - I thought this would be a good time remind people that some of the best Mariner coverage comes from Sports and Bremetonians.

Sports and Bremertonians was also the first blog to link to A Large Regular and I remain grateful.
Robin Williams and Golf

With today being both the second round of the British Open and also Robin Williams' 55th birthday - I though this quick video where Williams explains the invention of golf by a drunk Scotsman appropriate for the day. Note - the language used is NSFW (lots of F-bombs)

Marcus Banks Signs with Suns

Marcus Banks signed with the Phoenix Suns to be a back-up to Steve "Hairless" Nash. Three thoughts on this:

1. I think Aaron Gleeman hit the nail on the head with his thoughts on the earlier Timberwolves / Celtics trade:
I'd like to go on record saying that letting Marcus Banks leave via free agency was a huge mistake by the Wolves. Banks' potential is underrated and he'll be a perfect fit with the up-tempo Suns. Plus, losing him for nothing means that the Wolves essentially gave up Wally Szczerbiak, a future first-round pick, and a bunch of salary cap room for Ricky Davis, Justin Reed, and the albatross that is Mark Blount's contract. The deal was bad then and it's even worse now.
2. How about some props for Danny Ainge? I think Ainge has done the best he can with the tools he's had to work with. I feel comfortable with both him and Bill Simmon's favorite coach - Doc Rivers.

3. The only thing that bothers me about Banks signing with the Suns is the fact that Phoenix seems to be the place where former Celtic guards go to become stars. Look at Joe Johnson and most notably - Paul Westphal. (Of course this theory worked in reverse with Dennis johnson.)
Top 5 - Baseball Players from Connecticut

Here are who I consider the top 5 players born in Connecticut.

1. Jim O'Rourke - Hall of Famer from the late 1800's
2. Roger Connor - Hall of Famer from the late 1800's
3. Ned Hanlon - Hall of Fame outfielder from the late 1800's
4. Mo Vaughn - 3-time All-Star and 1995 AL MVP
5. (tie) Walt Dropo - Red Sox 1st Baseman and 1950 AL ROY (tie) Jim Piersall - 2-time All-Star and 2-time Gold Glove outfielder

Rob Dibble just missed making the cut (not really).

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Odds to Win the British Open

Here are the favorites to win the british Open (which starts today):

Tiger Woods - 7/2
Phil Mickelson - 17/2
Vijay Singh - 14/1
Ernie Els - 15/1
Padraig Harrington - 15/1

I like Woods (even with the short odds).
An Inconvenient Truth

There is an inconvenient truth that many on the left don't want to recognize.

The fact is that President Bush may have done more for the environment than any President in history. There I said it! Sure former VP Al Gore gets all the press for being Captain Planet but the truth is President Bush deserves the recognition.

The "world's largest protected marine area is being created around the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, an archipelago 1,400 miles long and 100 miles wide that is home to rare marine mammals, fishes and birds." President Bush did this. Do you recall this being trumpeted in the press? Or were they too busy hyping Gore's movie?

What Bush did was the "single-largest act of ocean conservation in history" and yet do you remember all the fuss made about what Bush did? Or was there silence because it was Bush who did it?

Al Gore gets all the press as the environmentally conscious guy but it would roughly take everyone who has seen his movie buying more than 44 acres of wilderness apiece to equal what President Bush did with a stroke of his pen.

President Clinton set aside 5.9 million acres as protected land during his 8 years in office (with Gore as his VP). With this act - Bush just created a preserve that covers the equivalent of 89.6 million acres - an ocean area larger than the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.

This isn't the only thing Bush has done for the environment. Do you remember the Marsh Arabs of Iraq and how Saddam Hussein destroyed the Tigris-Euphrates river and marsh systems? This is an area that covers over 59 million acres in what many believe was the Biblical area that included the Garden of Eden. The ecology of the Tigris-Euphrates river system is being restored as we speak under the Bush administration but when is the last time you heard a peep about the Marsh Arabs and their environment in the main stream media?

Al Gore gets all press for flying around the world in his private jet and giving speeches while President Bush can go about restoring the Garden of Eden and not get any credit.
Top 5 - Baseball Players from Rhode Island

Here are who I consider the top 5 players born in Rhode Island.

1. Nap Lajoie - one of the most under-rated players in history. Five-time batting champion, 11th all time in hits (3,242) and holder of a career .338 batting average
2. Hugh Duffy - Hall of Famer and holder of a career .324 batting average
3. Gabby Hartnett - Hall of Fame catcher, 1935 NL MVP and 6-time All-Star
4. Davey Lopes - 4-time All-Star and Dodger mainstay
5. (tie) Clem Labine - 2-time All-Star and twice led the NL in saves (tie) Rocco Baldelli - mostly because I have a soft spot for Baldelli and I thought it would be fun to have guys named Clem and Rocco tied for the final spot

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Christopher Walken - Weapon of Choice

One of the best music videos ever made.
Red Sox Sign Josh Beckett to Extension

The Boston Red Sox have signed Josh Beckett to an extension. According to Gordon Edes of the Boston Globe the deal breaks down as follows:
$2 million signing bonus
$6 million salary for 2007
$9.5 million salary for 2008
$10.5 million salary for 2009

$12 million at club option for 2010. The option becomes automatic if Beckett makes 28 starts in 2009 or he has a total of 56 starts in 2008 and 2009.

There is also a $2 million buyout clause on the option to make the guaranteed total $30 million
As of today - these are Beckett's numbers for the season;

Beckett 2006 - 12-5, 4.78 ERA, 102 K, 40 BB

Beckett most likely would have won a salary in arbitration between $8-9 million next year which means his $6 million for 2007 (plus a pro-rated portion of the $2 million signing bonus) is a bit of a bargain. The $9.5 million for 2008 is also a bit of a bargain considering the going rate for starting pitchers. It should be noted that with the 2009 contract and 2010 option - the Red Sox will have control of Beckett's rights for as long as the Florida Marlins will have control over Hanley Ramirez. When the trade that brought Beckett to Boston was made - many people pointed out that this would be a loss for the Red Sox if they only kept Beckett for a short time. Now he's locked up for 5-years.

The new deal should be a confidence boost for Beckett (is it a coincidence that his best start happened after getting the deal done?). Another possible ramification of the deal will be the effect it could have on Curt Schilling coming back for another year in 2008. With Beckett signed as the number 2 - Schilling may feel compelled to continue to mentor the young Jedi Josh.

Couple of extra points:

- Don't lose track of the fact that Beckett is very young (only a couple of months older than Jonathan Papelbon).

- With the Red Sox getting a break on Beckett's contract for next year - it could make eating part (or most) of Matt Clement's deal easier to take.

- Beckett is tied for the league lead in wins with 12 but is not even in the top 10 in innings pitched. Beckett leads the AL in HR allowed (27) but evens that off a bit because he is 9th in K's (102). Beckett is a tough guy to figure out.
Top 5 - Baseball Players from Massachusetts

Here are who I consider the top 5 players born in Massachusetts.

1. Pie Traynor - one of the top 5 3rd basemen of all time
2. Tim Keefe - 8th all-time in wins with 342
3. Mickey Cochrane - Hall of Fame Catcher - 2-time MVP
4. Rabbitt Maranville - Hall of Fame short stop
5. (tie) John Clarkson - 11th all-time in wins with 328 (and he started his career with the Worcester franchise) (tie) Tom Glavine - future Hall of Famer

Jeff Bagwell just misses the cut.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Old Media Looking at New Problems

There was an announcement today that "L.A. Times beat writers will no longer routinely cover road trips of the Kings and Ducks". Think about that for a minute.

It used to be that sportswriters would denigrate "bloggers" because they don't have the same access as they do. Now if the sportswriters are watching the road games from their couches at home - how does that differ from the average fan watching the same game feed? Have I mentioned the irony that this change was announced on a blog? (Though to be fair - Ben Maller is an industry professional.)

In many cities the NHL is the red-headed stepchild as far as "beats" are concerned. Many sports journalists use the local NHL beat as a stepping stone to more "mainstream" sports like the NFL, NBA or MLB. The LA Times is a major paper but this change of no road games has been made at many smaller papers already (and not just in hockey - almost all the road games for the Red Sox for my local paper come with an AP byline).

I think we have started to see blogs by people with a real love and enthusiasm for their local team already surpassing much of the analysis of the old media (think of Eric McErlain's coverage of the Washington Capitals). This trend of better blog coverage and worsening old media coverage will continue. How soon before the local team starts filling the press box seats that used to be used by out of town newspaper writers with local bloggers? Why should the team let those press box seats go to waste? Why wouldn't the team want more coverage by the best bloggers?

If road games in many sports will be covered by AP freelancers - how long before the AP just starts posting that stuff online to get the ad revenue direct? Newspapers are starting to become nothing more than hard copy middlemen.

In the very near future sports will be relying on a trinity of cable broadcast games (home and away), sports talk radio and blogs. Newspaper sports sections will go the way of the typewriter and the top columnists will do the equivalent of syndicating themselves by starting their own blogs where the Internet ad revenue will be their salaries.
Amanda Beard

Its really hot today so my thoughts turned to swimming. Thinking of swimming made me think of Amanda Beard. Thinking of Amanda Beard made me think that I better get my mind on something else and back to work.

Hmmmmm..... Amanada Beard..... like a cheese cracker!
Top 5 Songs with the Word America or American in It

1. God Bless America (Kate Smith version)
2. America the Beautiful
3. American Pie - Don McLean
4. America - Neil Diamond
5. (tie) American Band - BTO (tie) American Girl - Tom Petty
Syria (and the Iran Connection)

Here is some information I think people should be aware of in regards to the current battles unfolding between Israel and Hezbollah. I am focusing in on Syria because most of Hezbollah's support is coming from there.

Syria is roughly the size of North Dakota with a population of about 19 million (which is just smaller than the state of New York). Islam is the majority religion of Syria with 80% of the country being Muslim and with 74% belonging to the Sunni branch of Islam.

Syria and Iran have a history as allies - a history that seems mostly based upon the theory that the enemy of my enemy is my friend. For instance - during the Iraq / Iran war Syria actually sided with Iran even though Saddam Hussein was also a member of the Baathist Party and a Sunni Muslim. Iraq was worried about Iran exporting Shiite religious revolution (Iraq is mostly Shia Muslims) while Syria was probably more concerned with Saddam Hussein and his tendency to invade neighbors.

When Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982 - Iran was the only country to send troops to support Syria. (One has to wonder if Israel had not just taken over Lebanon but also invaded Syria how things may have been different these past 24 years.)

It should also be noted that Syria was the second country (after the USSR who wanted their oil) to officially recognize the Iranian revolutionary regime after they toppled the Shah.

The relationship between Syria and Iran has been political but one has to wonder if the "axis" has popular support within the countries. Syria is mostly Sunni while Iran is mostly Shia. That can't be overlooked.

The average Syrian has an equivalent yearly salary of $3,900 while his neighbor to the south in Iraq makes about $3,600 yearly. If the Iraqi starts making more because of the new democracy - I think that would go a long way towards undermining the current Baathist dictator. Just something to keep in mind.
Top 5 - Baseball Players from Vermont

Here are who I consider the top 5 players born in Vermont.

1. Carlton Fisk - one of the top 5 catchers of all-time
2. Larry Gardner - played 17 seasons including 10 with the Red Sox (actually played 45 more games for the Red Sox than Fisk did)
3. Ray Fisher - 100-94 with a 2.82 ERA
4. Ray Collins - 84-62 with a 2.51 ERA
5. Jean Dubuc - 85-76 with a 3.04 ERA

Pretty slim pickings from Vermont too.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Top 5 - Baseball Players from New Hampshire

Here are who I consider the top 5 players born in New Hampshire.

1. Arnie Latham - 8th on the all-time stolen base list with 739
2. Mike Flanagan - 167-143, 3.90 ERA and winner of the 1979 AL Cy Young Award
3. Red Rolfe - 4 time all-star and 5 World Series rings
4. Chris Carpenter - winner of the 2005 NL Cy Young Award
5. Lefty Tyler - 127-116, 2.95 ERA and a World Series ring with the 1914 Boston Braves

Many people think that Pudge Fisk was born in New Hampshire but he was actually born in Vermont.
The Vader Sessions

This is perhaps the funniest thing I've seen on the Internets in months.

Shoeless Joe Jackson

Shoeless Joe would have been 116 years old today. I'm still amazed by the fact the Joe Jackson is STILL the all-time batting average leader for BOTH the Chicago White Sox (.340 career mark) and the Cleveland Indians (.375). That's incredible!

By the way - I'm not one of those sentimental types that want him forgiven and allowed into the Hall of Fame. Although I am in the "let Buck Weaver into the Hall" camp.
Curt Schilling

Last night's win give Curt Schilling 203 for his career and puts him into a tie for 99th place on the all-time list (with Lew Burdette, Silver King and Jack Stivetts). I can see him at least catching Jim Bunning and Catfish Hunter for 66th place with 224 before Schilling retires. Schilling may also end up replacing Ferguson Jenkins in 11th place in the all-time strikeout list. I wonder if that will be enough to get him into the Hall of Fame?
Top 5 - Best Baseball Players Born in Maine

Here are who I consider the 5 best baseball players born in Maine.

1. Bob Stanley - 115-97, 3.64 ERA, 132 Saves
2. George "Piano Legs" Gore - career .301 batting average
3. Billy Swift - 94-78, 3.95 ERA, 21 win season in 1993
4. Del Bissonette - most HR (66) by a Maine born player
5. Kid Madden - 21 wins as a rookie in 1887 (just 33 more for the rest of his career)

Pretty slim pickings from Maine.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Rethinking the Reds / Nationals Trade

I've been thinking about the recent Reds / Nationals trade and I've started to change my mind about it. Everyone (and I mean everyone) seems to think the Nationals absolutely fleeced the Reds in this trade but after careful consideration - I disagree. Let me make a few points.

1. Everyone seems to stress that Austin Kearns, Felipe Lopez and Ryan Wagner were all former first round picks as if being a first round pick was a guarantee of success. Anyone who follows baseball knows that almost the opposite is true. Only a couple of players drafted in the first round in any given year even end up making it to the MLB level - never mind making an impact. This is a minor point and more of an indication of faulty analysis than anything - but please - BEING A FIRST ROUND PICK MEANS NOTHING!

2. The Reds will save significant amounts of money with this trade. Nothing happens in a vacuum and baseball is first and foremost a business. The Reds just saved about $1.5 million that goes straight to the bottom line this season and next year they won't have to give big raises to Kearns and Lopez. The money that would have went to Kearns and Lopez (probably about $7 million combined for 2007) can now be used elsewhere. Don't scoff at the $7 million either. For a team like the Reds that's slightly better than 10% of total payroll (for less than 1% of the 25-man roster).

3. Felipe Lopez is over-rated. He is supposed to be an offensive shortstop but this is what his numbers look like away from Cincinnati's bandbox:

Lopez road 2006 - .241 BA / .330 OBP / .364 SLG / .694 OPS
Lopez road 2005 - .277 BA / .335 OBP / .435 SLG / .771 OPS

Those numbers won't make anyone mistake Lopez for Miguel Tejada.

4. Austin Kearns may be even more over-rated. I'm starting to think that Kearns may just be the new Phil Plantier. Kearns is a young, power-hitting outfielder who is a local boy and who is very popular with the fans. He also is injury prone. That's the same description that could have been used for Phil Plantier. The Reds probably shipped him out of town partly because they don't want to have an arbitration headache with a fan-favorite player who may be fairly easily replaced with a cheaper player.

5. This is probably the most important point. The Reds' biggest need was bullpen help. This trade tries to address the biggest need for a team that is right in the thick of things in the NL Central.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Atlas Shrugged

Ayn Rand's masterpiece Atlas Shugged is being made into a movie.

I learned of this project via Betsy's Page who linked to this information chocked post by Robert Bininotto. From that post I learned that Angelina Jolie has been lined up for the Dagny Taggart role which means Brad Pitt will also be associated with the film. The IMBD site has Pitt listed for the role of John Galt. I agree with Robert Binidotto that Pitt would make a great Ragnar Danneskjold but I disagree with his choice of Russell Crowe for John Galt. I think that role should go to an unknown so that people will ask "Who is that actor?" Just as in the book everyone always asks "Who is John Galt?"

I first read Atlas Shrugged during the summer of one of my college years. I was staying at a friend's cottage at Tricky Pond up in New Hampshire and once I picked up the book from their library - I was hooked (well that's not quite true since the book does get off to a bit of a slow start). I've since read the book about 4 times but truth be told - if I pick up the book now I just skip to John Galt's speech near the end.

Clearly I'm not the first person to make this oservation but Ayn Rand really wasn't that great of a writer. She had very powerful ideas but her fiction writing was not really compelling. I also have to admit that I've always looked at the Dagny Taggart character as a bit of a slut. I guess that makes Angelina Jolie perfect for the role.

My favorite little John Galt factoid is that some guy changed his name to John Galt Jr. to run for President of the US in 2004.

If you haven't read Atlas Shrugged - you should. It is important to understand the ideas that shape our world and clearly Ayn Rand's ideas are still a force in today's world.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

One Side-Note on the Cincinnati Reds Trade

With shortstop Felipe Lopez being included as part of todays trade - that means that Cincinnati icon and possible Hall of Famer Barry Larkin was forced out of town in order to make way for just a season and a half of Felipe Lopez. Heck - Barry Larkin could still be playing if he wasn't forced out of town by the Reds. Larkin wanted to come back for his 20th year with the Reds in 2005 but he was told to take a hike.

This makes me pretty upset.

In 2004 - these were Larkin's numbers:

Larkin 2004 - 111 G/ 346 AB/ .289 BA/ .352 OBP/ .419 SLG

Those are pretty decent numbers. I do grant that Larkin was 40-years old 2-years ago and that over his last 5 years in Cincinnati he only averaged 95 games per year but that was partly because Felipe was taking some of his playing time (but mostly because of injuries). I'm also convinced that Lopez's trade value must have been higher going into last season that it was today when he was basically just a throw in sidelight to Austin Kearns.

It should also be noted that when Larkin retired - he took a job as Special Assistant to General Manager with the Nationals. That means that Larkin may have just assisted Jim Bowden (his GM with the Reds from 1992 to 2003) to acquire the player who replaced him as shortstop with the Reds. There's a certain irony in the situation.
Reds / Nationals Trade

Here is a pretty good breakdown of the trade today between the Reds and Nationals.

My first reaction was that this was a clear win for the Nationals and after thinking about it for a while I still think the Nationals come out way ahead on this one.
Tinfoil Hats Come to Time Magazine

How else to explain this piece by Joshua Micah Marshall?
In these perilous days, we must be ready to think the unthinkable. No, I don't mean the possibility of a catastrophic terrorist attack. After 9/11, that's all too easy to imagine. No, I'm talking about a thought that even now seldom forces its way into respectable conversation: the quite reasonable suspicion that the Bush Administration orchestrates its terror alerts and arrests to goose the GOP's poll numbers.

Now, I'm a respectable columnist. I don't want to draw rolled eyes. But think about it.
Emphasis added.

Bush is supposed to be "dumb" according to many on the Left but we are supposed to believe that he was savvy enough to organize false terror alerts for political purposes? Maybe we are supposed believe that the Uber Evil Karl Rove was behind this (it seems Karl Rove is everywhere and responsible for everything in the tinfoil hat wearing crowd).

Maybe I'm the one who needs a tinfoil hat but I think it would be much more likely that someone who does not have any love for Bush at the CIA would have leaked this information about phony terror alerts long ago if there was any truth to Marshall's fantasy land conspiracy theory.

Top 5 - Harrison Ford Movies

Today is Harrison Ford's 64th birthday. Here are what I consider his top 5 movies:

1. Indiana Jones
2. Blade Runner
3. Witness
4. The Fugitive
5. Presumed Innocent

Just missing the cut were Air Force One, Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger.

Just as an FYI - the Star Wars movies didn't make the list because Harrison wasn't the principal star in any of those.
Blue Jays Report Card

Here is a pretty in depth report card on the Blue Jays. Some thoughts to toss out there:

1. I still say that the Jays are the team to beat for the AL Wild Card. The White Sox will take the Central while the Tigers will fade past the surging Blue Jays. The Yankees are just old and busted.

2. I didn't realize that Josh Towers led the Blue Jays in wins last year. That goes to show how pitiful there were while Halladay was injured. It also shows why there was such a need to sign AJ Burnett - who if healthy for the second half will be more important than any played added to any roster via trade in the second half.

3. The Blue Jays are also in the enviable position of having perhaps the most chips to toss in a pot to trade for an impact player in the second half. Starting pitching is their biggest need (so I don't see those chips being spent on an Alphonso Soriano).

I also want to give special acknowledgement to this line, "Hudson’s departure has left the Blue Jays with something of a doughnut defence (nothing up the middle)." Donut defense - I had forgotten that one!
Red Sox Favorable Upcoming Schedule

The Red Sox lead the AL East by 3 games but it should be noted that 26 of their next 38 games will be at home at Fenway Park. These extra 12 games at home will even off the Sox who played 12 more road games than home games in the first half of the season.

With 26 of 38 at home - you have to like the Sox's chances to build up a decent lead going down the home stretch of the season.

HT Peter's red Sox Forever
Key Point on the War on Terror

Victor Davis Hanson makes a very good point about the war on Terror:
By all means, the administration should invite critics to suggest constructive alternatives to the way it's handled this war. But it should also point out that those who have honed in on flaws in current U.S. anti-terror policies have so far been bereft of other workable ideas.
It reminds me of how President Bush polls poorly except for when he is compared to specific individual Democrats. I guess the man with a plan out-polls the man who just criticizes (see election Bush over John Kerry).

Hanson points out the complexity of what is involved in this war. The question for Democrats is "where is your plan?" John Kerry kept talking about some secret plan that he had during his Presidential campaign. Maybe its time that he finally revealed what it was?

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Nice Post on Manny Ramirez by Michael Gee

Michael Gee makes a very good point about Manny Ramirez and his slow first step. And how some people are mischaracterizing what is a slow first step as Manny being "lazy".

Every year it seems the Boston media feels the need to make Manny Ramirez their whipping boy. I wrote a defense of manny last November but honestly I'm sick of having to do so. He was brought to Boston to hit and hit he has.
Since he's come to Boston - Manny has won a Silver Slugger award and been named to the All-Star team every year. Every year he has been in the top 10 for MVP voting (he's the only player who's been top 10 in the AL every year since 2001). Every year since coming to Boston - he's been top 4 in OPS in the AL - NOT TOP 10 BUT TOP 4!!! He was brought to Boston to hit and he's more than lived up to his end of the bargain.
I wish people would just leave Manny alone.
Nice Point Made By Don Surber

Don Surber: The vicious silence of NYT

The piece reminds me of how I actually gained respect for the ACLU when they defended the rights of Illinios Nazi to protest. Today, the ACLU - like the NY Times or LA Times only seem to defend the right to protest and free speech for people who agree with them. And like respect for the ACLU - respect for the mainstream media has long since slipped away.

Seriously - can anyone tell me of the last act of courage exhibited by a member of the American press? Don Surber mentions Ben Frankin who would have been hanged for sedition for his actions. That was courage of conviction - what courage of conviction have we seen from the MSM? If there was ever a profession in need of a hero - its today's print journalists.
Top 5 - Odds to Win 2006 World Series

Here are the current top 5 favorites to win the 2006 World Series (odds via BoDog).

1. Detroit Tigers 2-1
2. New York Mets 7-2
3. Chicago White Sox 9-2
4. Boston Red Sox 5-1
5. St. Louis Cardinals 7-1

Two quick observations:

1. This is the first time in years that I can recall the Yankees not being at least one of the top 3 choices to win the World Series. Right now they are listed at 19-2.

2. I think either the Red Sox or White Sox will win it all. If you were to put $500 on each team at those odds and one of the two Sox came through - then your return would be either $2,250 or $2,500. This bet looks even better now that the AL will have home-field advantage for the World Series.
Zidane Head-butt Game

This is a riot (I love the Internets).

HT Betsy Newmark
Chad Finn's Midseason Red Sox Report Card

Good stuff from Chad Finn. He does put into words the pit in the stomach worry that has plagued most Red Sox fans for some time:
Jason Varitek (.232-9-40): Uh-oh. Is this a prolonged slump . . . or is it the predictable decline of a catcher on the wrong side of 30? I'm not sure I want the honest answer. C-
I'd compare Varitek at this age to Richie Gedman but Gedman was out of baseball after he turned 33 (Varitek is 34 this season).

I will take exception with one grade:
Doug Mirabelli: (.175): Congratulations to the 'EEI banshees for raising the "BAHHHHHD CAN'T CATCH A KNUCKLAH!!" panic level to the point that the Sox felt obligated to trade improving Josh Bard for Wakefield's calcified caddy. I'm still dismayed Theo found this necessary. F
The reason Tim Wakefield's record is below .500 is because of the Josh Bard experiment. Mirabelli was re-acquired on May 1st - here are Wakefield's splits with Bard and with Mirabelli:

With Bard - 1-4, 5 starts, 3.90 ERA, 5 unearned runs
With Mirabelli - 6-4, 13 starts, 4.10 ERA, 2 unearned runs

The unearned runs (from passed balls) were killing Wakefield and the Sox. I understand the frustration with the man my buddy calls Doug F*cking Fatbelli. He's hitting just .175 since coming back to Boston (while Bard has been hitting a blistering .384 with the Padres) but I submit to you that the powerful Red Sox line-up can absorb that pitiful batting average by Mirabelli in order to make the most popular regular guy in a Red Sox uniform as effective on the mound as possible every 5th start.
Robert Novak's Source for the "Plame Leak"

This is very funny (at least to me):
In my sworn testimony, I said what I have contended in my columns and on television: Joe Wilson's wife's role in instituting her husband's mission was revealed to me in the middle of a long interview with an official who I have previously said was not a political gunslinger. After the federal investigation was announced, he told me through a third party that the disclosure was inadvertent on his part.

Following my interview with the primary source, I sought out the second administration official and the CIA spokesman for confirmation.

I learned Valerie Plame's name from Joe Wilson's entry in Who's Who in America.
This whole affair has a certain John Le Carre, Tailor of Panama feel to it. If it was ever made into a movie - that movie would have to be a comedy (of errors).
Baseball Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous baseball thoughts and observations.

I was traveling last night and did not see the All-Star game. I must say that by examining the box-score - I'm thinking it was a pretty boring game. Was I right?... Is Johan Santana really 34 years old? For some reason I thought he was younger… I think the Bronson Arroyo second half meltdown has begun. By the time the season is over – Arroyo will be just barely over .500 and his ERA will be exactly league average. It was that way last year and I look for the same to happen this year. I’m glad he made the all-star team but he really is just an average pitcher (although one with above average PR “packaging” – he was named after Charles Bronson, he sometimes corn-rows his hair and he plays a pretty decent guitar)… It is discouraging to note that no team has left more runners on base in the first half of the season than the Boston Red Sox (720). Only the Yankees (681), Dodgers (677) and Cincinnati (673) are even close... I'd like to thank Trevor Hoffman for giving the Red Sox home field advantage in the World Series...

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The Curse of the Simpsons

Hello, my name is Bob Ley and welcome to Outside the Lines. Tonight we look at what is being called “the Curse of the Simpsons.”

On February 20, 1992 the Simpsons’ episode “Homer at the Bat” aired and featured some of baseball’s brightest stars but the question now comes up – what did these stars have to do in order to be on the show and what price did they pay for that momentary bit of extra fame?

According to the Official Simpsons Website the episode’s plot was the following:

”Mr. Burns makes a million dollar bet with his arch-rival Aristotle Amadopolis that the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant team will beat the Shelbyville Nuclear Power Plant team in the softball championships. To ensure victory, Burns hires a number of ringers, including pro baseball players Darryl Strawberry, Ken Griffey, Jr., Steve Sax, Roger Clemens, Jose Canseco, Don Mattingly, Ozzie Smith, Wade Boggs and Mike Scioscia to replace the plant employees he cut from the team. But as game day approaches, the pros all succumb to various strange ailments and accidents that prevent them from playing and it's up to Homer and his teammates to beat the Shelbyville team. With bases loaded and the score tied in the ninth inning, Homer is sent to bat and wins the game when the pitch hits him in the head and accidentally scores a homer."

Most of the stars were at the top of their game before agreeing to appear on the show but after the show most started hitting the skids. Coincidence – Outside the Lines thinks not.

In studio we have one of the stars of the show – Homer Simpson. Homer, welcome to Outside the Lines. You get many big name stars on the show – is there any special arrangement to get these stars? What about the baseball players featured in “Homer at the Bat”?

Homer: To answer your question Kent – normally guest stars work for scale to be on our show because it is such a status symbol to be on the Simpsons. However, in this case the boss wanted something extra.

Who is your boss? What was the something extra required of the baseball players?

Homer: Well I report directly to Satan or as we like to call him – Ned. In order to be on the show the baseball players had to sign over their souls. You know standard stuff.

Wait a second are you saying that Ned Flanders is Satan and that the baseball players had to sign over their souls to be on the show?

Homer: Yep. You deaf or something? All the players really wanted to be on the show and Ned made them pay.

Darryl Strawberry?

Homer: Hmmmmmm strawberries……….Oops – sorry. I felt bad about Straw. He was such a good kid before he came on the show. I’m afraid we introduced him to a little too much of the Hollywood lifestyle. You know constant drugs and hookers. I guess it made quite the impression on him.

Ken Griffey Jr.?

Homer: Yep. Satan is still screwing with him. I guess Griffey has become sort of a hobby for Ned.

Steve Sax?

Homer: Oh boy! That was a good one. You know the throws to first were my idea.

Jose Canseco?

Homer: Do you even have to ask on that one? The guy slept with Madonna. I guess he figured he was doomed anyway.

Don Mattingly?

Homer: You know Don started off as a really nice guy but working for so long with Steinbrenner just sorta wore him down. I still remember watching Mattingly’s last game on the set of the Simpsons. Ned comes over - sees Don on the TV and says, “Next year the Yankees win the World Series" and then he starts with that laugh of his.

Mike Scioscia?

Homer: Well Mike was sorta of a charity case. He sold his soul to get into the major leagues.

Wade Boggs?

Homer: Actually Wade was the only one that wasn’t asked to sign away his soul. If you remember - in the show Wade gets beat up by Barney Gumble. Ned had Wade on as a favor to all the cast. We all wanted to beat him up but Barney won the lottery.

Wait a minute Homer. What about Ozzie Smith? I grant you all the other stars did seem to rapidly dim after being on the show but Ozzie was just voted into the Hall of Fame. You can’t ask us to believe that Ozzie sold his soul.

Homer: Well - you know how we all thought it kinda funny to portray Ned as the devil knowing full well that he really was the devil. Who knew that Ozzie really was a Wizard? The Wizard of Oz! We all thought it was just something people called him. That summersault he does before all his games is really a kind of counter curse you know.

Roger Clemens is about to go for his 300th win and has won multiple Cy Young Awards. Surely he didn’t sign his soul away.

Homer: Roger was the first to sign. That guy is as dumb as a post. The funny thing is that by signing with Toronto – Clemens proved that he didn’t have a soul so the deal was null and void.

Please hold on just a second. I understand from our producers that joining us via a telephone hook-up is Ned Flanders. Mr. Flanders on this show tonight Homer Simpson has alleged that you are in fact the devil and that in 1992 you required a number of all-star baseball players to sign away their souls in order to be on the show the Simpsons. Can you comment on this?

Ned Flanders (aka Satan): Okily dokily Bob-arino. All that Homer said is as right as rain. Baseball players are some of my best customers next to SportsCenter anchors of course but you know I wasn’t going to take their souls until my boss insisted.

Your boss? Who would that be?

Ned Flanders (aka Satan): James L. Brooks of course.

Well that makes sense. I’m Bob Ley and this has been Outside the Lines. Please join us tomorrow night when our topic will be “Are we ready for an openly gay football mascot?”

Monday, July 10, 2006

My Nightmare

Last night I had a full blown nightmare. Complete with the sudden waking and the pounding of the heart.

I dreamt that I was working for the X-Files and I was sent with my partner Scully to investigate some mutated bees / wasps that would swarm and attack a victim by the thousands. However, instead of injecting venom through their stingers - these wasps would inject a larvae into the victim. These larvae would then proceed to eat the victim alive. (Can you think of a worse way to die?)

While in the field investigating these swarms I found myself the next intended victim of the bees but I managed to make it back to my car safely. I also managed to catch one of the mutant bees which I placed in a jar and I high-tailed it back to HQ to have the bee analyzed.

The lab guy (played in the dream by Randy Johnson) was pretty cavalier with the sample bee which he put into a plastic baggie while still alive. The bee by now not only had a stinger but also lobster-like pincher claws and had grown five-times in size. Of course it got free and tried to attack me while the swarm of the rest of the bees tried to get in the windows of the lab. (This is where I woke up.)

In real-life I'm not afraid of bees (or getting pinched by lobster claws for that matter) but trust me - this dream was pretty scary.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Top 5 - Tom Hanks Movies

Today (July 9th) is Tom Hanks' 50th birthday. Here are what I consider his 5 best movies.

1. Saving Private Ryan
2. Forrest Gump
3. Big
4. Philadelphia
5. (tie) You've Got Mail (tie) Toy Story
Jason Stark vs Chris Lynch for Mid-Season Awards

Jason Stark has his mid-season awards posted at I don't want to spoil the surprise of Stark's picks but how else am I supposed to show where we differ?

Stark - Jim Thome White Sox
Lynch - David Ortiz Red Sox (Ortiz has 10 more RBI than Thome and he's the difference between the Red Sox leading the AL East and being in second. The White Sox would still be in second if they did not have Thome.)

Stark - Albert Pujols
Lynch - Albert Pujols (because David Wright and Jose Reyes split the Mets vote. If I was allowed co-MVP's it would be Wright and Reyes.)

AL LVP (Least Valuable Player):
Stark - Rondell White and Tony Bautista Minnesota Twins
Lynch - Adam Eaton Texas Rangers (the Rangers traded Chris Young for Adam Eaton who hasn't pitched an inning for the Rangers yet this season. Meanwhile Chris Young has gone 8-4 with a 3.12 ERA for the Padres. If the Rangers had Young's innings then they would be in first place instead of 1 game back.)

Stark - Kaz Matsui Mets (and Colorado)
Lynch - Vinnie Castilla Padres (I think Vinnie Castilla is Spanish for "Kevin Millar". He's hitting just .232 for the season which is just worse that what he's hitting with RISP - .234. Castilla has been so bad that Mark Bellhorn is starting to look good as an option at 3rd. I was going to vote for Jose Lima because the Mets easily could have picked someone out of the stands and gotten equal results than what they got from Lima.)

AL Cy Young
Stark - Johan Santana Minnesota Twins
Lynch - Francisco Liriano Minnesota Twins (lower ERA and more wins than Santana. May seem strange in that I picked Papelbon as the mid-season AL ROY leader over Liriano but that's ust the way it is. Liriano just edges Santana, Roy Halladay and Jonathan Papelbon - and I mean just edges - this vote could go to any of those players.)

NL Cy Young:
Stark - Brandon Webb Diamondbacks
Lynch - Chris Capuano Brewers (Capuano is 10-4 with a 3.21 ERA - one bad start and Capuano would be leading MLB in ERA. This is another vote that could to a number of players - such as Webb, Tom Glavine or the up an coming Josh Johnson or Chris Young. Capuano being from Springfield, MA was the tie-breaker.)

AL Cy Yuk:
Stark - Josh Towers Blue Jays
Lynch - Josh Towers Blue Jays (although Randy Johnson almost got my vote.)

NL Cy Yuk:
Stark - Oliver Perz Pittsburgh Pirates
Lynch - Jose Lima Mets (Lima was 0-4 in 4 starts with a 9.87 ERA. Yuk indeed!)

Stark - Jonathan Papelbon Red Sox
Lynch - Jonathan Papelbon Red Sox (even though I picked Liriano as Cy Young)

Stark - Ryan Zimmerman Nationals
Lynch - Dan Uggla Marlins (close but Uggla still has edge over Zimmerman but keep an eye on Josh Johnson of the Marlins)
Peter Gammons

The news on Peter Gammons seems to be good with reports of his recovery all positive. It should also be noted that his new CD Never Slow Down, Never Grow Up has been released and profits from the sale of the CD help support The Foundation to be Named Later (and if you buy it via this site - I get a commision from Amazon that helps support this site).

I would also like to mention that I think it would be proper for the Red Sox to name their press box after Peter Gammons. If Gammons had a number - it would be retired.

Get well soon Peter.

Brian Wilson

I had not heard of Brian Wilson before but after reading this fine piece by Jeff Passan I feel like I lost a friend.

The piece was a bit long but well worth the time.
Top 5 - AL ROY Candidates

Here are who I see as the top 5 candidates for the AL Rookie of the Year.

1. Jonathan Papelbon
2. Francisco Liriano
3. Justin Verlander
4. Kenji Johjima
5. Jered Weaver

I also think Papelbon has the best chance to be there at the end because the high number of innings a starter throws will start to wear on Liriano, Verlander and even Weaver. All three will probably throw more pitches this season then at any time in their lives. That should start to show about August.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

US Economy Booming

According to Larry Kudlow (and the facts) the US economy is booming!
Did you know that just over the past 11 quarters, dating back to the June 2003 Bush tax cuts, America has increased the size of its entire economy by 20 percent? In less than three years, the U.S. economic pie has expanded by $2.2 trillion, an output add-on that is roughly the same size as the total Chinese economy, and much larger than the total economic size of nations like India, Mexico, Ireland, and Belgium.
The Pope and the Crossword Puzzle

The Pope is working on a crossword puzzle and asks his assistant, "Can you think of a four-letter word for 'one type of woman' that ends in u-n-t?"

"How about aunt?" says the assistant.

"Oh, yeah," says the Pope. "You got an eraser?"
Traveling Salesmen

Who knew? I always thought that Chuck Taylor was some unknown basketball player who had a shoe named after him. It turns out that Chuck was actually more of a traveling salesman for Converse. His name graced over 500 million pairs of sneakers – that has to make him the most famous traveling salesman of all-time. Chuck died in 1969.

Chuck Taylor may have been the most famous traveling salesman but the most successful has to be Thomas Watson (he’s the guy who turned IBM into a powerhouse).
Millar vs Youkilis

If you read this space with any frequency - then you know how I loathe Kevin Millar. I blame him for the Red Sox not wnning the AL East last year. Remember that the Yankees only won the East last year based on a tie-breaker. Look at what Kevin Millar did up to the end of July last year vs what Kevin Youkilis (who was squandered on the bench last year) has done this year

Millar - .281 BA / 35 R / 4 HR / 38 RBI /
Youkilis - .303 BA / 58 R / 10 HR / 42 RBI

Let me just add that so far this year Youkilis has hit .336 with runners on base; .324 with runners in scoring position and .389 with RISP and 2 outs. Last year Millar hit .251 with runners on; .221 with RISP and a measley .192 with RISP and 2 outs.

God how I loathe Kevin Millar.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Super Hooters

This is a pretty funny look at the most endowed of super heros - Power Girl:
Seriously, she has got to be the most sexualized – dare I say, objectified? – heroine in mainstream spandex comics.

What? You don’t believe me? You're stupid. Take a look. Everybody wants Power Girl. Well, except for Aquaman. But Aquaman is gay. I'm not judging or anything; I think it's cool. I say, go Aquaman.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Top 5 Films With Ned Beatty

Likeable Ned Beatty turns 69 today. Here are what I consider his top movies.

1. Deliverance (as Bobby Trippe aka the guy with the purdy mouth)
2. Superman (as Otis)
3. Back to School (as Dean Martin)
4. Hopscotch (as Myerson - a very underrated movie)
5. The Fourth Protocol
Will McDonough

The great Boston sportswriter Will McDonough would have been 71 years old today.

Life is so unfair when a talent like McDonough dies young while Tim McCarver still draws breath.
Ben Stein With a Nice Essay

Ben Stein has an essay that asks why we never see a soldier on the front page of the newspaper unless that soldier has been charged of something:
A few weeks ago, a historian sent me a long article about how the terrorists are fighting us by cooking up these horror stories and paying people to pretend to "witness" them. Either they "witness" U.S. atrocities or they get their heads cut off. The British in Iraq have found out that almost all of these accusations are false. I wonder how many months will have to go by until we learn that some of these accusations against our men are false.

In the meantime, how can it be that the Supreme Court is worried about the rights of Osama bin Laden's driver in court, but no one is raising a finger about the rights of Marines who offer their lives to fight for us and then get held in leg irons when there is an accusation against them? How can this be?

How can it be that in the mainstream media, you will NEVER see a soldier's photo on the front page unless he's charged with a crime, as Wlady asks.