Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Ripples from a Non-Trade

The recent non-trade of Todd Helton to the Red Sox is one of those rare instances where both teams are better off having announced trade talks but not actually making the trade. Don't believe me? Take a look at how just talking trade may have affected the players and teams involved:

Red Sox Players

- Kevin Youkilis was affected because he would have had to move from 1st to 3rd and probably would have dropped from #2 in the order to the bottom third. He probably ended up taking an emergency number of ground balls at third once the talks were announced. Jelly (Youkilis' initials are K-Y) is probably the least affected by the talks but look for him to be better prepared to play 3rd than he would have been.

- Mike Lowell is a veteran and I'm sure used to trade talks. But it should be pointed out that he played Gold Glove defense at 3rd last year but also tired at the end of the season. This year I expect the defense to be just as good but I also expect Lowell to post better offensive numbers for two reasons:

1. This is his contract year and players almost magically always post better numbers in their contract year.

2. The Red Sox will need to get Wily Mo Pena and Eric Hinske at bats and that means Lowell will probably get more rest this season and hopefully that means he'll be more fresh at the end of the season. (Note - Lowell was second on the team in AB with 573 last year - he should still get over 500 if he stays healthy but cutting down 25-50 AB should help the 33-year old Lowell.)

- Julian Tavarez was perhaps the Red Sox' best starter last September. With two starters over 40-years old, one starter new to the rigors of starting in MLB, one starter coming off the only 200 IP season of his career and the last starter converted from closer because his arm hurt - I think it is a good bet that the Red Sox will need another starter at some point this season. Tavarez went 3-0 with a 3.52 ERA in 5 September starts. That's great insurance but that may only be the icing on the cake. It should be remembered that Tavarez is perhaps Manny Ramirez's best friend on the team and keeping Manny happy may also help keep Manny productive.

- Manny Delcarmen is the local boy living the dream of playing for the local nine. The saying goes, "You don't know what you have till you lose it" and MDC almost lost his dream job. He'll probably savor every game and make sure he doesn't falter. Manny Delcarmen just got a wake-up call.

- Craig Hansen can now tell his grand kids that the Red Sox thought so much of him that they wouldn't trade him for a Hall of Fame first baseman. Perhaps Hansen's biggest problem last year was confidence and this non-trade had to have been a tremendous shot of confidence to the young Hansen.

The Red Sox as an Organization

In the week before the Super Bowl the Red Sox dominated the local sports news with this non-trade, Curt Schilling announcing he would pitch in 2008, and the Roush Racing NASCAR arrangement. Could it be a coincidence that their tickets also went on sale this week? The Red Sox are proving to be PR masters and it is no coincidence that news of the potential trade leaked when the MO for the Sox is to play things close to the vest in trade negotiations.

The Rockies

The Rockies almost pulled a reverse Ray Bourque - sending a beloved veteran player from Colorado to Boston so that he could have a chance at a championship. They were just doing this for the player who had given so much to the organization. They too got some pretty good PR out of this whole affair. What they also did was set the price for a contending team to acquire Todd Helton at the trade deadline. Now it is known throughout MLB that the Rockies will pick up half the contract of Todd Helton in exchange for a top pitching prospect from a contending team that Helton will agree to be traded to.

All's well that ends well I guess.

Top 5 - Gene Hackman Movies

Today is Hackman's 77th birthday. Here are what I consider his best movies.

1. The French Connection
2. Hoosiers
3. The Poseidon Adventure
4. Unforgiven
5. Get Shorty

There are a bunch of movies that easily could have made the list (French Connection II, Bonnie and Clyde, Crimson Tide, The Conversation, etc) but I really liked Hackman in the Poseidon Adventure and as Harry Zimm in Get Shorty).

My favorite Hackman trivia is the fact that he was the first choice to play Mike Brady in The Brady Bunch TV show. I also have to mention that I cannot see Gene Hackman without thinking about how humongous his head truly is. He truly has one big melon.
Super Bowl Betting

I have no clue on who will win the Super Bowl or if the game will go over or under. My guess is that the Colts win the game but can they cover the 7 points? This game could be a shoot-out but even a 27-21 game won't go over the current 48.5 point over/under line. What to do?

Well because I'm unsure - I'm looking to get creative. My current plan is to make the four following bets:

Colts (-7) teased with the Over (48.5)
Bears (+7) teased with the Over (48.5)
Colts (-7) teased with the Under (48.5)
Bears (+7) teased with the Under (48.5)

These four bets would create a "middle" where if the Colts won by between 2 and 12 points and the point total was from 43 points and 54 points (a 12 point window) then I would win all four bets.

Put it this way - if all bets were for a mythical $100 then the most I could lose would be $200 but the most I could win would be $400 (the most you could lose is $200 because one of the bets HAS to come in and that winning bet would cancel out a second bet and leave just two bets to pay off). Plus there is a very good chance that two of the bets come in - say the Bears win and the combined score is from 43 to 54 points - in which case you come out even.

Of the last 10 Super Bowls - 60% were won between 2 and 12 points but only 20% had final point totals between 32 and 54 points. The risk is obviously real with the above strategy but is it worth the reward?

Help me decide whether the four bet strategy mentioned above is a good idea or a bad idea.

Of course the above discussion is for entertainment purposes only.
The Red Sox Player Endorsement Most Wanted

At the end of this article comes the news that Curt Schilling is in John McCain's corner. No big surprise there as Schilling is a Republican who spent many years in Arizona. The author jokingly suggests that Mitt Romney seek Manny Ramirez's endorsement to even things off. I know it was a joke but I couldn't help but think that if Romney really did want to get a current player's endorsement then the three players he should approach are Tim Wakefield (the elder statesman of the team and perhaps the most respected man on the team), Jason Varitek (the Captain) or Big Papi David Ortiz (the most popular player by far).

Getting the endorsement of a current player however would be missing the real point and the real opportunity. I've said this before but if I were running for President - the VERY FIRST endorsement I press for is that of Carlton Fisk. The first primary is in New Hampshire and even after all these years Carlton Fisk remains New Hampshire's favorite son (even though technically he was born in Vermont). The candidate who could get Fisk to do a promotional commercial for them would immediately become the front runner in New Hampshire and with a victory in the Live Free or Die state would come the "big mo" that every candidate seeks to harness.

I don't even know if Fisk is a Democrat or Republican - so his endorsement could work for a candidate of either party. Why no candidate has pressed for his endorsement in elections past is a mystery to me.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Curt Schilling

Curt Schilling has announced that he now wants to play not just this year but also in 2008 as well. I say that if Schilling is coming back for 2008 then he'll be back for 2009 too. Follow my reasoning.
Schilling has 207 career wins. He would have to get up over 245 to finish in the top 50 all-time and help cement his case for the Hall of Fame. It would be very hard for him to get to 245 wins in just 2007 and 2008 - so that means that if he's serious about making the Hall of Fame that he comes back for 2009.

Schilling will probably also need three full seasons to finish in the top 10 all-time in strikeouts as well. He's currently 14th on the all-time list with 3,015 but ahead of him in 12th place is Greg Maddux (3,169) and right behind him is Pedro Martinez (2,998). Schilling would probably have to pass Walter Johnson's 3,509 to insure he is in the top 10 by the time it comes to vote on his HoF candidacy.

Schilling has never won a Cy Young Award (finishing 2nd three times) and his real claim to fame has been his stellar post-season performance - going 7-2 with a 2.06 ERA including winning the 1993 NLCS MVP and sharing the 2001 World Series MVP with Randy Johnson.

I think only two things could keep Curt Schilling coming back for 2009. The first would be if the Red Sox won the World Series in 2008 and Schilling payed a significant role. In this case - Schilling would probably want to go out on top and leave a final positive mental image of him as a champion. The second thing that could keep him from coming back for 2009 would be a nagging injury. Pain could take the fun out of baseball in a hurry and it also can effect performance. I think if Schilling thought he wasn't capable of playing at a high level in 2009 because of injury that he'd call it quits.

I'm just disappointed that he won't be running against John Kerry in 2008. I guess we'll have to find someone else for John Kerry to lose to.
Todd Helton to the Red Sox?

There has been some recent speculation about Todd Helton possibly being traded to the Red Sox. I'm a Helton fan but I doubt the discussions here ever got serious (in fact I wonder if Colorado is just leaking the information to try and gauge interest in Helton from the rest of MLB).

The reason I doubt these talks are serious are twofold:

First - Bill James is still a consultant to the Red Sox and James' favorite stat is Win Shares. Todd Helton only had one more (23) than Kevin Youkilis (22). Why would the Red Sox take on Helton's huge contract for just a single Win Share upgrade at first base?

Secondly - if the Red Sox did want an over 30-year old first baseman who hits 20 HR an has a .900+ OPS then they could have tried to sign Nomar Garciaparra for much less money (if Nomar would ever deal with Larry Lucchino and the Red Sox is another story - but the point is there are other options out there other than taking on a huge contract).
Remember the Titans

I awoke to a strange dream this morning that I thought I'd share.

I was in the middle of the movie 300 when the actor who plays Spartan King Leonidas raises his fist and shouts, "Remember the Titans!" (The Titans of course being the gods who gave birth to the Olympian gods and who ruled the earth prior to Zeus and his siblings.) Just after King Leonidas shouts this - Denzel Washington comes out of nowhere dressed in a coach's windbreaker and with a whistle in his mouth and a clipboard in his hand. Denzel then starts diagramming war plans on his clipboard.

Thought I'd share.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Myths About the War in Iraq

Some straight shooting from the Strategy Page on the Top 10 Myths about the war in Iraq.

Seems like old news for those who have been paying attention but then again too many have been busy listening to sound-bytes to pay attention.

As I said before - 25% of Iraq is now under full Iraqi control and 55% of the country has Iraqi forces in the lead. Right now Iraq is the number one issue in this country but if things continue to improve over the next year and a half - then the Democrats lose the number one issue they are counting on for 2008.

Draw you own conclusions if you think they are really rooting for us to succeed in Iraq in the next two years.

HT Instapundit
Schilling for Senate

There has been a move afoot spurred by radio station WEEI to get Curt Schilling to run as a Republican challenger in 2008 for the Massachusetts Senate seat currently held by John Kerry. I think this is a great idea.

John Kerry is very vulnerable and if a candidate with positive name recognition were to run against him - then Kerry would most likely lose (because that's what he does best). Since winning the Democratic Nomination by beating Jim Shannon in his original run for the Senate - Kerry hasn't faced any real competition in his quests for re-election to the Senate.

Curt Schilling helped bring a World Series Championship home to the Red Sox for the first time in 86 years. This will be his last season (he's retiring at the end of the year) and a move into politics couldn't be timed any better. Schilling is also known for his charitable causes like fighting against ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) and skin cancer (his wife is a skin cancer survivor). On the campaign trail if Schilling just spent most of his time smiling, shaking hands and signing autographs - he'd be in. Kerry would almost certainly make a fatal gaff in his campaign. Just Kerry being Kerry and having the charisma of the tin man on Valium would be enough to get Schilling elected.

For Schilling to win - I would propose a three prong strategy:

1. Say "Yes I am a Republican but I am very much pro-union." He could talk about how he's been a dues paying member of the MLB Players Association for over a decade and how he recognizes the importance of collective bargaining. This would help make it easier for hard-core Democrats to vote for him on election day.

2. Stress that he'd show up for work to represent the people of Massachusetts every single day. That taking pay for a job that you never show up for is morally reprehensible. This would certainly have Kerry backtracking and on the defense. Schilling could stress that he'd show up every day to help protect and further the interests of the State of Massachusetts instead of skiing in Idaho or traveling to countries like France trying to get them to like us.

3. Stress low taxes. Low taxes give Democrats another reason to cross the aisle to vote for a Republican. Massachusetts is a dominantly Democratic state but when it comes to money - we like Republicans watching the purse strings (witness Republican Governors Weld, Cellucci and Romney).

The hardest part for Schilling would be to just shut up and let Kerry defeat himself. If Schilling followed the strategy set out above and just kept quiet about everything else - then he'd be sure to win.

Curt Schilling in 2008. He's got my vote.

EDIT: I stand corrected - it was WRKO and not WEEI who started the ball rolling.

You can sign a petition urging Schilling to run here.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Batman Begins (at Fifty)

Today is Frank Miller's 50th birthday.

Miller is the creative force behind the resurgance of the DareDevil comic book character, the transfornation of Batman into a gritty vigilante, the Sin City sagas and the 300 (soon a major motion picture).

Frank Miller has created quite the buzz in the blogosphere recently for both his views and his movie 300 (a take on the Spartans stand at Thermopylae). Miller proved to be quite the anti-idiotarian in a recent appearance on NRP. So much so that Little Green Footballs dedicated a thread to his seeing the enemy for what they are viewpoint.

Much has also been made about his upcoming film 300. Just watch the trailer and you can see why.

Even classical scholars like Victor Davis Hanson are on board with praise for the film.
Again, purists must remember that 300 seeks to bring a comic book, not Herodotus, to the screen. Yet, despite the need to adhere to the conventions of Frank Miller’s graphics and plot — every bit as formalized as the protocols of classical Athenian drama or Japanese Kabuki theater — the main story from our ancient Greek historians is still there: Leonidas, against domestic opposition, insists on sending an immediate advance party northward on a suicide mission to rouse the Greeks and allow them time to unite a defense. Once at Thermopylae, he adopts the defenses to the narrow pass between high cliffs and the sea far below. The Greeks fight both en masse in the phalanx and at times range beyond as solo warriors. They are finally betrayed by Ephialtes, forcing Leonidas to dismiss his allies — and leaving his own 300 to the fate of dying under a sea of arrows.

But most importantly, 300 preserves the spirit of the Thermopylae story. The Spartans, quoting lines known from Herodotus and themes from the lyric poets, profess unswerving loyalty to a free Greece. They will never kow-tow to the Persians, preferring to die on their feet than live on their knees.
Perhaps my favorite Frank Miller quote comes via his mini-biography on IMDB:
"I figured Daredevil must be Catholic because only a Catholic could be both an attorney and a vigilante."
Ari Fleischer = Rat?

With the Patriots out of the playoffs, spring training still weeks away, the Celtics angling for a lottery pick and with the Bruins being dead to me I've found myself filling my reading time catching up on the Scooter Libby trial. Two observations I'd like to share - the first is about Ari Fleischer and the second is about the trial in general.

First Fleischer - the former Press Secretary for President Bush agreed to testify only after getting immunity. Fleischer acknowledged being one of the leakers, but he wouldn't say a word without a promise of immunity. According to the story - Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald agreed to give Fleischer immunity sight unseen or as Fitzgerald puts it as "a pig in a poke." Fleischer was ready to sing at a drop of a hat as long as he insured himself that he wouldn't be at any risk. In the past I was ready to give Fleischer the benefit of the doubt even though he's a major Yankee fan. Now with his blatant willingness to be a snitch, a stool pidgeon, a rat - all at the drop of a hat - leaves me with a distaste of the man which I think is permanent.

Secondly - the facts that Fitzgerald knew early in the game that Richard Armitage was the primary leak in the case coupled with Fleischer all but confessing to being a leaker but still getting immunity point to the premise that Fitzgerald was never concerned with finding the supposed leaker in the first place. Fitzgerald was trophy hunting and the only two trophies he was interested in was either Vice president Dick Cheney or Karl Rove. When all that fell apart - he picked Scooter Libby as his fall guy because Libby had changed his testimony.

Hell - it seems most of the people called as witnesses in this case have also changed their stories (under oath) several times but yet none of these people were charged with a crime by Fitzgerald. Fleischer - immunity sight unseen; Armitage - the primary leak but nothing from Fitzgerald; minor players have same memory problems as Libby but face no consequences. Fitzgerald is lucky that Mike Nifong screwed up the Duke rape case so bad because the real story here is Fitzgerald's abuse of prosecutorial power and the biggest witch hunt since Salem in 1692.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Heh Heh

Snakes are smarter than we thought indeed!

HT The Big Lead
NL East Preview

Here’s my take on the teams of the National League East.

Atlanta – the two big questions for the Braves this season should come at 1st and 2nd base. At first glance giving up Andy LaRoche and his 32 HR for a reliever seems like a mistake but when you consider that LaRoche has Trot Nixon disease against lefties and had hustle issues – then a Scott Thorman / Craig Wilson platoon doesn’t look too bad. The bigger question will be at 2nd base where the Braves let Marcus Giles just walk away in order to save some money and in the hopes that Kelly Johnson can fill those shoes. The biggest moves may have been at the late inning reliever position where the Braves added Worcester’s Tanyon Sturtze (who will be valuable in late innings of blow out games to save the rest of the bullpen), Mike Gonzalez (who has closer stuff and who came in exchange for LaRoche from Pittsburgh), and Rafael Soriano (who also has closer stuff and who came in exchange for Horacio Ramirez from Seattle). I guess the idea here is to protect the lead from the 6th inning on with a stable of very good but not great relievers (Bob Wickman probably starts the season off as the designated closer but Atlanta has perhaps the closest thing to a true “closer by committee” set-up in MLB). How successful the Braves will be probably comes down to how well their lefty starters do. A lot is riding on Chuck James not having a sophomore slump and Mike Hampton successfully returning from injury.

- the sophomore slump will be the biggest question for the Marlins. Will Hanley Ramirez, Dan Uggla, Annibal Sanchez, Josh Johnson and Mike Jacobs be able to duplicate their success from last year? Will right fielder Jeremy Hermida blossom this season? Will Dontrelle Willis post a better than a .500 record? Who will be the closer? Will another rookie make a big impact on this year’s team? Lots of questions surround the Marlins. This is a team that could be a really exciting young team competing for a playoff spot or they could suck or be anywhere in between.

New York – The Mets really needed to add a top starter this off-season but instead they basically only made a minor upgrade in left field going from the 34-year old Cliff Floyd to the 40-year old Moises Alou. In the starting pitching department Tom Glavine, Orlando Hernandez and John Maine are the top 3 with the 4th and 5th starters being question marks (as if the top 3 starters weren’t question marks in their own right). Its lucky for the Mets that Glavine tends to get off to a fast start because they will need to hang around the top of the division until Pedro Martinez comes back around July in order to have a chance to make the playoffs. The starting pitching of course will be the big question but another question exists in right field where the plan is to platoon lefty Shawn Green with righty Lastings Milledge. Shawn Green is a question mark because of his age while Milledge is in danger of being labeled the most over-rated prospect in many years. As bad as the starting pitching situation appears – it will be difficult to bet against the Mets making the playoffs because they boast 5 true all-star caliber threats in their line-up (Wright, Beltran, Reyes, Delgado and LoDuca).

Philadelphia – How could the Phillies let Randy Wolf walk away? I know Wolf wanted to be on the West Coast but the Phillies could have made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. Wolf can be a staff ace and it would have only taken Gil Meche money to keep him. Instead the Phillies went with Adam Eaton who will be a bust. In fact I’m willing to go on record saying that Wolf will double the number of wins Eaton gets this season. The Phillies do have two pitchers I will be interested in watching – Cole Hamels and Jamie Moyer. It will be interesting to watch Hamels because he showed flashes of being something special whereas Moyers is quietly still being effective at 44-years old.

Washington – I’m still amazed that Jim Bowden still has a job. Seriously. Questions surrounding the Nationals include will Nick Johnson stay healthy for once? Will Ryan Church get a chance to play finally? Will any starting pitcher reach double digits in wins? Will Jim Bowden get fired during or after the season?

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Today's Must Read

Large Bill has today's MUST READ post.

Read it till the end.

Read it till the end.

Where do we find such men?
The Line-item Veto

This would be a good time to introduce legislation for a Presidential line-item veto. I see three main reasons why the time could be right for this change.

1. Bush is a lame duck and the bill could stipulate that it would not go into effect until the next President takes office.

2. The “porkbusters” movement is gaining strength on both sides of the aisle. A line-item veto would be perhaps the most powerful weapon in controlling pork barrel spending. I would imagine that a line-item veto would have tremendous support among those who are for governmental fiscal responsibility.

3. The last time I can recall a strong push for a line-item veto was when Reagan was President and there was strong pushback from the Democrats because they saw it as a tool for Republicans since Reagan appeared to be building a Republican Presidential juggernaut.

At the very least forcing a vote on a line-item veto could help frame the discussion about who is serious about controlling government spending versus those who want to use the taxes of the people for personal political gain. A vote against a line-item veto could very well be the most damaging mark against any politician heading into the 2008 elections.

Don't be surprised if Bush raises the possibility of a line-item veto again in tonight's speech.
State of the Union Speech

"The President shall from time to time give to Congress information of the State of the Union and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient." Article II, Sec. 3, U.S. Constitution
Tonight George W. Bush will deliver his State of the Union speech. It is helpful to get some perspective on tonight's speech by looking back at the speech he gave last year.

I'm just as curious to who the President points out in the audience as to what he'll say. To be honest - 95% of all of these speeches is just rhetoric and platitudes. It will also be interesting to see if Cindy Sheehan or the Code Pink clowns make asses of themselves somehow.
The Best Boston Sports Arguments

"Best Boston Sports Arguments: The 100 Most Controversial, Debatable Questions for Die-Hard Boston Fans" is not only an easy read but also a very fun read as well. Every chapter (nee “argument”) is only a couple of pages long making it a perfect beach book, travel book, bar reference or addition to the Irish library. The book was also surprisingly humorous and I highly recommend it.

As the title of the book suggests - the aim of the book was to lay out the top 100 Boston sports arguments and it more than meets the mark in presenting not only the questions but also taking a side in presenting what the authors felt was the proper answer. Like any good argument there are two sides to every question but I found myself agreeing with Jim Caple and Steve Buckley in most cases such as how they argued that Jim Rice was absolutely a Hall of Fame player (I’m sure many others would disagree with that one). Sometimes I did find myself scratching my head though. Adam Vinatieri as the most clutch Patriot player? Sorry that would be Tom Brady. I also have to wonder how a book about Boston sports can run 250 pages, mention Tony Conigliaro a dozen times but fail to mention Harry Agganis once?

I haven’t always been a fan of Jim Caple’s work at ESPN nor Steve Buckley’s work at the Boston Herald but I was very happy with the result of their collaboration on this book. I feel myself to be a fairly knowledgeable Boston sports fan but I found myself learning many new facts, stories and trivia with almost every turn of the page.

Some of the more thought provoking chapters included:

- Who was the most important front office executive in Red Sox history?
- Bill Russell deserves something named after him
- Boston’s greatest hockey myth
- Who was better, Ted or DiMaggio?
- Who are the most inspirational athletes in Boston history?

On that last one if you guessed Teddy Bruschi – you guessed wrong. I don’t disagree at all with their choice but I do wish Travis Roy at least got a paragraph or two as an honorable mention.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Barry Bonds

I’ve seen mentioned a number of times that if for some reason the San Francisco Giants decided to back out of their negotiations with Barry Bonds on a one-year $16 million contract that the Players Association would have a good case for a grievance. That may be true if Barry Bonds was part of the Players Association but if I recall correctly he dropped out in order to not have to share in the licensing agreement. Bonds wanted sole use of his name and image as he chased the home run record. Bonds wanted all the licensing money to himself. He didn’t want to be part of the Players association deal then – so I can’t for the life of me see why the Players Association would stick up for him now.
Defeat - A Bitter Pill

Congratulation to the Indianapolis Colts and good luck in the Super Bowl.

There is no sense grousing over coulda, woulda, shouldas at this point. None of that will change the final score. What would mentioning the non-call of pass interference in the endzone or the call of a non-roughing the passer accomplish? Time to move on. Less than a month till pitchers and catchers report.

I will say that I'm still not a Peyton Manning fan. Watching him last night made me realize why so many people used to viscerally dislike Danny Ainge when he played for the Celtics. The constant appearant whining is just grating to me.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Off to Orlando for a Couple of Days for Business

I'll still be posting but just at a different latitude.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Global Warming

Well I just had my good laugh for the day. Instapundit pointed to this post which included the following quote:
Specifically, Ms Cullen is suggesting that the American Meteorological Society (AMS) revokes the "seal of approval" that it normally extends to broadcast forecasters in the US in cases where they have expressed scepticism about man's role in pushing up planetary temperatures.

"It's like allowing a meteorologist to go on-air and say that hurricanes rotate clockwise and tsunamis are caused by the weather," she wrote in her internet blog. "It's not a political statement... it's just an incorrect statement."
Emphasis added. What's so funny about the above? Well it immediately made me think of Al Gore's recent movie An Inconvenient Truth. Here's the poster for that movie. Notice anything funny?

Yes - the hurricane at the top of the picture is rotating clockwise. Maybe Ms. Cullen will have the guts to come out to call Al Gore's move both political and incorrect?
Inauguration Day

Today is traditionally Inauguration Day and if there were a presidential election held last November then today would have been the day the new President was to take the oath of office.

Do yourself a favor and take a look at these two speeches from Inauguration Days gone by:

John F. Kennedy 1961 Inaugural Speech

Ronald Reagan 1981 Inaugural Speech

Look at how much our country has changed in just under 50 years. Our hopes, fears and goals are all much different today. Some of our beliefs were wrong (the UN is not and was not "our last best hope" for example). Looking at speeches like these help with perspective which is important. Also when reading the speeches keep in mind our economy and how we went from such a strong economy when JFK was sworn in to stagflation when Reagan took office. Remember the mistakes that took us down the primrose path and the medicine it took to get us back to where we are today. Remember these lessons because some in Congress seem determined to forget them and replicate the mistakes of the past.
Colin Powell as Commissioner of Baseball?

Jerry Crasnick looks at the field to replace Bud Selig when Selig finally steps down as Commissioner of Baseball. I think, however, that Crasnick misses a very viable option to replace Selig - Colin Powell. Here is something I wrote back in May of 2005:
If I were to try and crystal gaze I would say that this move by Powell and the Malek group [to buy the Washington Nationals] would be (if successful) not a further stepping stone to the Presidency but a possible stepping stone by Powell to eventually replace Bud Selig as Commissioner of Baseball. Powell is a guy used to dealing with strong personalities with conflicting and competing interests. Whether dealing with heads of State or with the Chiefs of Staff for the different branches of the US military - Powell has been known as a man who both gets things done and who also does so without ruffling any feathers. What better training could a man have for dealing with the Pohlads, Steinbrenners and Linders than dealing with the Chiracs, Arafats and Putins?

My gut tells me that Powell may not want the Presidency and that the negative campaigning is not something he would want to subject his wife or family to after all the years they sacrificed for him while he was moving from post to post in the military and in government service. Powell may want to collect on his long years of service and I frankly, don't blame him for doing so.

The job of Commissioner of Baseball would be a well paying gig for the baseball loving Powell that would entail relatively little heavy lifting in comparison to his former responsibilities.
What I said back then still stands today. Powell would be an excellent choice as the next Commissioner of Baseball and since Crasnick is just throwing names against the wall to see who sticks - I figured I'd throw Powell's name out there (again) as well. MLB is trying to become more global in its reach and who better to help navigate those waters than a former Secretary of State? Powell could also be the first black Commissioner of a major sport in the US and with the decline of African Americans playing baseball - hiring Powell would both be a great PR move but also a very symbolic choice in trying to stem the tide of inner-city youths NOT playing baseball.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Good Stuff from Mike Reiss

Interesting on-line chat by Mike Reiss about this Sunday's Pats / Colts game. This was my favorite nugget:
Jerry_C No one has talked about Belichick's record against teams that beat him in their previous meeting. How much does his excellent record on that play into Sunday's AFC Championship Game?
Mike_Reiss This stat comes from the Patriots' media relations department: Since 2001, the Patriots are 19-6 (.760) when playing a team for the second time in a season and are 7-1 when facing an opponent against whom they had suffered a loss earlier in the same season. The Patriots have outscored their opponents 571-386 in their 21 rematches since 2001.
Just Sayin'

Obviously if you are from New England - then you'll be rooting for the Patriots this Sunday. Just as obviously - if Kenny Chesney is your favorite musician and Brokeback Mountain is your favorite movie - then you'll be rooting for the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday.

The point I want to make - I want to make to the fans who are on the fence about who to root for in this game. Ask yourself - if Johnny Unitas was still alive - who would he be rooting for this Sunday? When he was alive he refused to be associated with the Indianapolis Colts because they tore the heart out of the city of Baltimore when they moved in the middle of the night. Also which QB do you think Johnny U would like best? The QB who whores himself out for every commercial opportunity and cries like a spoiled baby whenever things don't go his way or the old-school QB who just does what it takes to win and who handles victory or defeat like a man.

I think we all know that Johnny Unitas would root for Tom Brady and the Patriots.
Top 5 - Robert Palmer Songs

Robert Palmer would have been 58 today. Here are what I consider his top 5 songs:

1. Sailing Shoes / Hey Julia / Sneaking Sally Through the Alley
2. Addicted to Love
3. I Didn't Mean to Turn You On
4. Every Kinda People
5. (tie) Bad Case of Loving You (tie) Simply Irresistable

I kinda cheated by having three songs in the top spot but those three songs HAVE TO be played back-to-back.
Cool Science

Ship Floating on Nothing. Very cool.

HT Good Morning Silicon Valley
Pats / Indy Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations on this Sunday's AFC Championship.

- People keep talking about the resurgence of the Indianapolis defense in the first two games of the playoffs without ever giving credit to the real reason the defense has looked so good - poor play calling by the opposition. Both the Chiefs and Ravens seemed to employ the run, run, pass on third and long then punt offense. Both teams were so predictable. Don't look for the Patriots to be predictable on Sunday. Will they try a balanced run attack with Corey Dillon and Lawrence Maroney? Will they try a jail-break pass attack offense like they did week 8 in Minnesota? The Colts will be left guessing in this game not like in the games against the Chiefs and Ravens when they knew what was coming.

- Recently Peyton Manning made a comment along the lines of "the team gets the credit for the wins but I get the blame for the losses - either give me the credit for the wins or accept that the losses are team losses too." This comment made me think of Peyton's commercials where he always appears alone - cashing in as it were on INDIVIDUAL achievement. Contrast that against Tom Brady who if he does appear in a commercial it is with teammates because he is a team first guy. Hey Peyton - if you really want the team to get the credit how about including some teammates in a few of your many commercials? You know somebody has to block for you and someone has to catch those passes you throw.

- Bill Polian made a comment seemingly trying to influence the refs regarding contact on the receivers downfield. How funny would it be if the refs did look closer at the contact but that it resulted in penalties against the Colts instead?

Thursday, January 18, 2007


I once hit 56 times in a row in college but I had nothing like the skills this guy got (the crotch shot made me laugh).

HT Samantha Burns
Just Sayin'

Rick Pitino is universally regarded as a huge failure as head coach of the Boston Celtics (must have been his choice). Now I've long been a backer of Doc Rivers but it has to be said that he's treading into Pitino-like waters. Take a look at their individual records as coach of the Celtics:

Doc Rivers - 90 Wins / 111 Losses / .448 Winning Percentage
Rick Pitino - 102 Wins / 146 Losses / .411 Winning Percentage

If Doc Rivers passes Pitino in losses by the end of the season - then he probably should get the axe as head coach.

That's probably the best word to describe my state of mind after reading this post.

Staring at the screen - contemplating good and evil - wealth and poverty - action and inaction - numb.

Now angry. I may just go postal if I ever have to read about another do-gooder organization trying to ban genetically altered food being sent to famine beset nations.
Top 5 - Cary Grant Movies

Today would have been Cary Grant's 103rd birthday. Inhis honor - here are what I consider his 5 best movies.

1. North by Northwest
2. To Catch a Thief
3. Arsenic and Old Lace
4. The Philadelphia Story
5. (tie) Father Goose (tie) His Girl Friday

It has become predictable how the "experts" will pick games. Take the ESPN NFL Prime Time Crew for example. I bet I can predict how they will pick the Patriots / Colts game just based on past experience.

Chris Berman - he'll pick the Patriots because he's friends with Bill Belichick.

Mike Ditka - he'll pick the Colts because for some reason he really dislikes Bill Belichick.

Tom Jackson - ever since he made the comment about the Patriot players hating Bill Belichick back in the 2001 season - he has been desperately trying to curry favor with Belichick. He'll pick the Pats.

Michael Irvin - he picks the teams with the best receivers and that's the Colts.

Ron Jaworski - he's the only one of the group who bases his picks on game film and crunching the stats. My guess is that he picks the Pats because they are the better overall team.

And speaking of predictions - I'm bothered by people who pick the Colts with the reasoning that "this is Peyton Manning's year." Manning is not Martin Scorses who will win the Academy Award this year because he was overlooked years previously. This is football - not Hollywood. How did the reasoning "this is Dan Marino's year" work in the past. If the Colts win - it will be because they played better football not because it was "someone's year".

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

And So It Begins

NETeller Founders Arrested
NETeller Founders Charged with Violating 19-freaking-63 Wire Act

I swear to God that with the Democrats focused on loser issues like raising the minimum wage and the Republicans concerned with making sure I can't play poker on-line - the Libertarians are missing a great opportunity to get my vote in every election for life.

A roundup of stories at Wicked Chops Poker

HT Tao of Poker
Heh Heh

Watch the video. Watch the video!

HT Samantha Burns

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

OK - One More LaDanian Tomlinson Comment

I haven't seen anyone else mention this but the last time a Boston team had the best player on an opposing playoff team play the "they had no class in beating us" card - it was Miguel Tejada and the Oakland A's back in 2003. Tejada took exception to Derek Lowe who when he won the series made a gesture that Tejada interpreted as the crotch-chop suck-it gesture.

Tejada vowed to hold a grudge against the Red Sox forever but instead quickly signed with the Baltimore Orioles as a free agent.
Darth Vader vs Monty Python

Final Thought on LaDainian Tomlinson

People have said that the Patriots win because they do the "little things" that win championships. I think people are reading too much into it. Its not the little things - its the big things - the fundamentals.

First among the fundamentals is win the game. That's the primary goal. I'm still shocked and amused that LaDainian Tomlinson's biggest issue after the game was not the fact that the team lost even though it had the better team - his issue was that a teammates dance was being disrespected. If the shoe was on the other foot you can be sure that the Patriots first and foremost would be pissed at themselves for losing the game.

Second among the fundamentals is protect the football. The Chargers did a very poor job of protecting the football especially on that punt return and on the interception that Troy Brown stripped back to the Patriots.

Third among the fundamentals is play to your strength and your opponents weakness. Its not rocket science. If you can run the ball and your opponent can't stop you from running the ball - then you run the ball. Yet on Sunday LaDainian Tomlinson only had 7 second half carries even though the Patriots had shown no capability whatsoever of stopping Tomlinson in the first half.

Tomlinson is right when he said that these things come from the top down. Belichick makes sure that the Patriots play according to the fundamentals whereas the Chargers will be watching on TV because they disregarded the fundamentals. If Tomlinson wants to upset at anything - he should be upset at that.
The Scooter Libby Trial

The New York Sun has an excellent synopsis of the case and the major players in the Scooter Libby trial which begins today. One of the players I wasn't aware of is Theodore Wells Jr. the 2006 lawyer of the year and graduate of Holy Cross College who will be representing Scooter Libby.

I'm bugged by this trial because the Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald was supposed to find out who leaked the name of Valerie Plame and Fitzgerald found that out but Richard Armitrage is not being charged with anything for being the actual leak.

My hope is this turns into one of those trials where the prosecutors end up sitting on the hot seat.

Monday, January 15, 2007


David Caruso is so bad - he's almost a cartoon character. Strung together these one-liners are pretty funny but I admit to not being able to stomach his act for 60 minutes.

HT SJ.com
MMQB Review

Here are five things I think I think about today's offering from Peter King's Monday Morning QB column:

1. I think this is a really poor choice of words.
Chicago (15-2). Good to see Tank Johnson make a huge play for the Bears, sacking Matt Hasselbeck on that big fourth-quarter series. The Bears will need him to snuff out Deuce McAllister on Sunday.
To snuff someone out normally means to kill that person usually with a gun. Tank Johnson is in trouble for weapon's possession and his bodyguard was just shot and killed at a local nightclub. If this was a pun by King - it was in really bad taste.

2. This was a great stat:
Gaffney/Caldwell find a way. In the last two weeks of playoff football, Gaffney and Caldwell have 30 catches for 337 yards and two touchdowns. Indy's Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne: have 16 catches for 180 yards, one TD.
3. A quibble - King calls Adam Vinatieri a "long-range" kicker but Vinatieri is no a "long-range" kicker. Sure he's the most clutch kicker in the history of football but he'll never set records for field goals over 50-yards and his kickoffs rarely reach the end zone.

4. I think this was obvious to everyone except Marty Schottenheimer and the Chargers offensive co-ordinator:
Tomlinson should have touched the ball more than 25 times, particularly in a close game and particularly when Rivers threw it 32 times.
The Patriots couldn't stop the Chargers running game and Tomlinson in particular. Not giving him the ball more was plain stupid.

5. Peter mentions a Rich McKay on the last page of his column but I just confirmed that is not my buddy Rich McKay from NYC.
Monday Morning Football Hangover

One of the following statements is a fact:

- Bill Belichick and the Patriots named Marty Schottenheimer their MVP and gave him a game ball after yesterday's victory.

- Marty Schottenheimer petitioned the league offices to get "bye" weeks counted as post-season victories.

- The Chargers had the better team but poor coaching doomed them to defeat against the Patriots.

I don't think even the staunchest Marty supporter could give him the benefit of the doubt after yesterday's coaching job. There is a reason why Schottenheimer's post season record is 5-13. As Dennis Green would shout, "He is what we thought he was. He is what we thought he was."

Earlier this week when I started hearing that Schottenheimer's job could be in jeopardy if he failed to win yesterday - my original reaction was "you have to be kidding me!" After doing such a bad job yesterday - I don't see how Marty can keep his job.

Let me also say something to LaDainian Tomlinson - if someone "disrespecting" one of your teammate's patented dance moves is what was bothering you most after losing then you need a fresh perspective. The "dance" the Patriots are known for is the act of being introduced as team before Super Bowl games. Acts such as Merriman's "dance" are frowned upon by the Patriots culture because this is a team game and things that are done just to glorify an individual never help out the team as a whole. If you were more ticked off by Merriman's dance being disrespected by a couple of Patriot's players than the fact that you had the better team but will now have to watch the rest of the playoffs on TV - then you need to get your priorities straight.

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations:

- Does anyone think that if Dallas won last week instead of Seattle that the line would have been 9 points against the Bears yesterday? I think it would have been 5 or 6 but no way would it have been 9 points.

- I wonder if the NFC coach at the Pro Bowl will make Tony Romo the holder on field goals and extra points. That would be kinda funny.

- Speaking of the Pro Bowl - Phillip Rivers is going to the Pro Bowl but Tom Brady is not. Besides Rivers parents - is there a single person in the country who would rather have had Rivers instead of Tom Brady in yesterday's game? Anybody?

- Anyone else notice that Matt Hasselbeck was not out at mid-field for the call of the coin flip for overtime in Chicago? I think he said something the last time he was in that position.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Top 5 - Thoughts on the Holy Cross / Bucknell Basketball Game

I went to the Holy Cross / Bucknell game last night and here are my top 5 observations from that game.

1. Holy Cross won the game 65 to 60 but it should not have been that close. The Crusaders were up b 14 with a little over 7 minutes to play but then they started to play sloppy. I'm not in love with the way this team is coached at all.

2. Holy Cross is now 3-0 in the Patriot League and in very good position to go on and earn the automatic NCAA birth that comes with winning the Patriot League

3. It was damn hot at the Hart Center last night. I felt really bad for the Bucknell mascot. Whoever was in the Bison suit must have lost 10 pounds in sweat last night.

4. Toronto Blue Jay GM JP Riccardi was at the game last night. JP has a long history with local basketball (he used to coach Holy Name high school's basketball team for years). It's good to see a guy at the top of his profession staying grounded to his roots.

5. John Feinstein, the author of such books as The Punch (about the punch thrown by Kermit Washington that nearly killed Rudy Tomjanovich) and A Civil War: Army vs Navy, was at the game doing color for the ESPNU broadcast. I wanted to ask Feinstein why we never see him on ESPN's Sports Reporters anymore. My specific question was going to be to ask if he said something bad about the midget Mike Lupica and that's why he's been absent from the show.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Jim Rice - Hall of Famer

Many people say that they know a Hall of Fame player when they see one - except that rule does not seem to apply to Jim Rice. I can't tell you how many times I've seen people write things like, "When I saw Jim Rice play - I was sure he was a Hall of Fame player but now I'm not convinced." This sort reasoning bothers me. A good example of this sort of reasoning is Lyford's most recent piece talking about Jim Rice and the Hall of Fame.

Lyford falls into the same fallacy of thinking that "OBP is more valuable than SLG." Says who? I know today we accept that OBP is more valuable than SLG but that was not the case when Rice was playing. Jim Rice was a "slugger". His job in the middle of the batting order was to try and hit the cover off the baseball - not to try and draw a walk. People today like to compare Rice's OBP to Dwight Evan's and yet I've never seen any of these comparisons mention that Rice was always batting 3rd or 4th where his job was to "slug" while for a good chunk of his career - Evans batted leadoff where his job was to get on base for Jim Rice and others to knock him in.

Was Jim Rice successful as a slugger? Well consider he had 8 seasons in the top 10 for slugging (leading the league twice). Rice was in the top 10 in HR 7 times including leading the league 3 times. RBI? Rice was top 10 in the AL 9 times including leading the league twice. I think you could say that Jim Rice was a very successful slugger.

Consider this - sluggers are known for HR and RBI and there are currently 30 teams in MLB. The numbers Jim Rice put up in HR and RBI would make him the all time leader in both HR and RBI for 12 franchises including teams like the Indians and Angels. He would also be the all-time leader in RBI for the Dodgers and Seattle plus the all-time leader in HR for the Brewers and Royals. One of the all-time great sluggers and people who saw him play knew they were watching a Hall of Famer. Too bad so many don't even trust what they saw with their own eyes.
Corporal Jason Dunham - Medal of Honor Recepient

Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13)
Corporal Jason Dunham dove on a live grenade in order to shield his men and died as a result. Yesterday Jason Dunham was awarded our country's highest honor.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Church Chat

(Today ALR s luck to have a guest blogger. Enid Strict aka "the Church Lady" who has asked for a chance to weigh in on the report that Barry Bonds tested positive for amphetamines. ALR is always open to different points of view.)

Today I want to talk about how one man can flaunt our Lord's Ten Commandments in such a blatant manner. Just today we have news that not only did Barry Bonds flunk a drug test - he tried to blame a teammate for the flunked test. How Convenient.

We can go right down the line and see how Mr. Barry Bonds flaunts the Ten Commandments.

The first commandment is "I am the Lord thy God - you shall have no Gods before me." Is there any doubt that the only person Barry Bonds worships is himself? Any doubt at all?

The second commandment is "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain." Any reporter can tell you that Bond's favorite quote is "Get away from my locker you bleepedy, bleep, bleep reporter."

The third commandment is "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image." In Barry's case I think we can take this to be a graven image. Word is that Barry makes some pretty good under-the-table money signing pictures of his graven image.

The fourth commandment is "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy." I think I'll need some baseball stats guy to tell me how Barry does on Sunday day games.

The fifth commandment is "Honor thy father and thy mother." We often forget that Barry Bonds' father was also a big name in baseball but now the family name of "Bonds" will forever be tarnished.

The sixth commandment is "Thou shalt not kill." I am personally willing to give Barry the benefit of the doubt here but the specter of OJ on roid-rage keeps coming back to me.

The seventh commandment is "Thou shalt not commit adultery." I understand that Barry was able to sign enough pictures of his graven image to buy his mistress Kimberly Bell a house. Of course if Kimberly Bell's testimony helps put Barry in jail - then I think we'll have to institute a Sixth Commandment Breaking watch.

The eighth commandment is "Thou shalt not steal." If we are to believe Barry - then he stole the substance that caused his positive test for amphetamines from Mark Sweeney's locker. Other people will contend that Bonds stole Babe Ruth's record and is trying to steal Hank Aaron's record too.

The ninth commandment is "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor." Does Mark Sweeney having a locker near Barry make him a neighbor? In any case - I'm sure the Federal authorities are most interested in Barry bearing false witness in front of a Grand Jury. I think that's called perjury. Isn't that special?

The tenth commandment is "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbor's, nor a big baseball contract, nor home run records that don't belong to you." OK - I added those last two bits.

Normally I would confront a person like Barry and ask him who could have made him act is such a heinous manner. Normally I would pause for a moment and then ask, "Could it be Satan?" However, in Barry's case I think he'd actually try to blame it on the Prince of Darkness in an effort to get out of taking on responsibility for his own actions.

Barry Bonds. Isn't he special?
Number Ones

This weekend will see the 9th time that the number one offense in the NFL is matched up against the number one defense in the NFL in the playoffs. The good news for the Colts is the fact that in the first 8 meetings - the number one offense has won 6 of the 8 games. Indianapolis averaged 379 yards per game this year and Baltimore only allowed 264 yards per game.

Speaking of number ones - Tom Brady has faced 4 number one seeds in the playoffs. Each time Brady and the Patriots have come away with a victory. This Sunday in San Diego will mark the 5th time Brady will have faced a number one seed. I hope this stat more than cancels out the fact that Brady is only 1-2 against the Chargers in his career.
Did Giants Make a Mistake in Keeping Coughlin?

The Sports Prof thinks so. And he lays out a compelling case to support his belief.

I like Coughlin because he brought back Boston College to prominence (or at least the respectability of clawing into the final top 25 of the season). My only defense of Coughlin would be to ask - who else could you get to replace him? Unknowns fail more often than not (much more often than not).

Like I said - the Sports Prof makes some excellent points but sometimes the devil you know is still the best bet.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

2007 WSOP Schedule

The schedule for the 2007 WSOP is out. It looks like up to 9,000 slots for the Main Event (there were 8,773 players in 2006). With just a few extra seats this year - it looks like the folks behind the WSOP don't want the Main Event to spiral out of control due to too many players.

The schedule starts on June 1st and runs till July 17th. That may sound like a lot of time but I'm sure that if you were playing in all those events then the time would be a serious grind on your health.

HT Dr. Pauly
The Best Boston Sports Arguments

In the mail today I recieved "Best Boston Sports Arguments: The 100 Most Controversial, Debatable Questions for Die-Hard Boston Fans" by Jim Caple & Steve Buckley. I'm looking forward to reading this and should have a review of the book in a few days.

Just Sayin'

The Baseball Analysts have a nice comparison between Jim Rice and Dwight Evans. The comparison is clearly designed to show Evans as the superior player.

Just wanted to throw this out (using one of the sets of stats used by the Baseball Analysts to compare Rice and Evans):

Player A: 10,740 PA/ 4,064 TB/ 1,412 BB/ 6,566 Outs/ 236 GIDP
Player B: 10,569 PA/ 4,230 TB/ 1,391 BB/ 6,965 Outs/ 227 GIDP

Based upon the above stats - a good case could be made that Player B was the better player (and I would be inclined to agree). Just for the record - Player A is Wade Boggs and Player B is Dwight Evans.

I would also point out that if you combined the Runs plus RBI - then you would have 2,854 for Evans (1,470 runs and 1,384 RBI) to just 2,527 for Boggs (1,513 runs and 1,014 RBI).
Patriots vs Chargers

Lyflines has a very interesting "sabermetric" look at this Sunday's matchup between New England and San Diego.

Meanwhile the Cold, Hard Football Facts looks at Marty Schottenheimer's playoff record and makes the case that it may be bad luck and not bad coaching. (Although to be honest - I kept hearing the Branch Rickey quote, "Luck is the residue of design" when I read that piece.)

Both well worth the read.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The Milton Waddams Sports Report

Excuse me, I believe you have my stapler.
University of Florida coach Urban Myer to Ohio State coach Jim Tressel after the Gators slammed the Buckeyes 41-14.

The ratio of people to cake is too big. To NBA journalist David Aldridge who was laid off with 67 others by the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Mr. Lumbergh told me to talk to payroll and then payroll told me to talk to Mr. Lumbergh and I still haven't received my paycheck and he took my stapler and he never brought it back and then they moved my desk to storage room B and there was garbage on it. To Giants coach Tom Coughlin who looked like he was going to be fired but now looks like he'll keep his job (he'll just have to move his desk to storage room B).

I was told that I could listen to the radio at a reasonable volume from nine to eleven, I told Bill that if Sandra is going to listen to her headphones while she's filing then I should be able to listen to the radio while I'm collating so I don't see why I should have to turn down the radio because I enjoy listening at a reasonable volume from nine to eleven. To the city of Cleveland and fans of all their pro teams who have to keep their enthusiasm at reasonable levels at all time.

And yes, I won't be leaving a tip, 'cause I could... I could shut this whole resort down. Sir? I'll take my traveler's checks to a competing resort. I could write a letter to your board of tourism and I could have this place condemned. I could put... I could put... strychnine in the guacamole. There was salt on the glass, BIG grains of salt. To Terrell Owens who is human strychnine in the guacamole. His "me first" attitude has shut down three teams now. Good thing he has $25 million reasons to live or he could OD on himself.

And I said, I don't care if they lay me off either, because I told, I told Bill that if they move my desk one more time, then, then I'm, I'm quitting, I'm going to quit. And, and I told Don too, because they've moved my desk four times already this year, and I used to be over by the window, and I could see the squirrels, and they were married, but then, they switched from the Swingline to the Boston stapler, but I kept my Swingline stapler because it didn't bind up as much, and I kept the staples for the Swingline stapler and it's not okay because if they take my stapler then I'll set the building on fire... To Bill Parcells who switched from Drew Bledsoe (the Boston stapler) to Tony Romo (the Swingline stapler) only to have his stapler bind up at the worst possible time.

Excuse me, I believe you have my stapler. To Florida from Boise State.
BCS Championship Game Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous BCS Championship game thoughts and observations.

- Anyone know why Senator John McCain was there for the coin flip? I have to say that he looked old last night which I guess shouldn't be surprising since he is 71.

- Five-minutes into the game I found myself really wishing I took the over (47 points). When the over was in by half-time (34-14) - I really wished I had the over.

- Barry Alvarez really reminded me of the college football version of Kevin Kennedy. In no way is that a compliment.

- Ohio State fans and people who bet on Ohio State had to be wondering if they could recall anything going from fairy tale (the Ted Ginn TD kickoff to open the game) to complete shit (the rest of the game). The closest analogy I could come up was the Madonna / Sean Penn marriage.

- With the game quickly turned into a blow-out - I found myself channel surfing. I caught the end of Two and a Half Men, South Park (the Wal-Mart episode), Heroes, Barrett Jackson Auctions, NESN Sportsdesk, The Daily Show and the Colbert Report. I probably watched 5 minutes of the second half and none of the half-time show (I was afraid Fox would foist Emmitt Smith and Eddie George on us again - what was the deal with those two talking over the National Anthem?). I'm sure the folks at Fox will not be happy with the second-half ratings of this game.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Rumor of the Day

I have it from good sources that Elvis Presley was supposed to make a surprise visit to the set of ESPN's Cold Pizza in Manhattan this morning. The King had decided today would be the day when he would put an end to faking his own death and since it was his 72nd birthday - today was as good a day to re-appear as any.

Elvis chose the show Cold Pizza because it (along with peanutbutter and banana sandwiches) was his favorite food. However, right before entering the studio building Presley had an attack of nervous stomach and the resultant flatulence was so bad that it resulted in hundreds of 911 calls and the cancellation of the Cold Pizza show for the day.

An embarrassed Elvis has decided to go back into seclusion since it was his smelly farts that caused him to fake his own death in the first place.
Just Sayin'

Here is what I wrote Sunday:
I have to put some of the blame on the failed field goal on Martin Grammatica. The Cowboys have the tiniest kicker in NFL history. If Grammatica was just a little bit bigger then maybe he slows down Jordan Babineaux just enough so that Romo can scramble for either the first down or a TD. Watch the replay and see how Babineaux just runs by Grammatica without slowing even just a bit. Just saying but no way Babineaux gets by Adam Vinatieri so easily.
Here is what Peter King wrote in his MMQB column today:
Dallas fans might always wonder what would have happened if kicker Martin Gramatica had gotten a good block on Babineaux amid the chaos of Tony Romo's muffed snap on what should have been the game-winning field goal. Go back and watch it again. Romo picked up the ball and began running around left end. Gramatica made a feeble and wimpy attempt to block the 200-pound Babineaux, who shucked him aside and sprinted to catch up to Romo. Babineaux took a full dive for Romo at about the five, with Romo on his final stride or two for the end zone, and shoestring-tackled him a yard and a half from the end zone. Great effort play by Babineaux.
Things That Make You Say "WTF?"

Strangley mesmorizing.

HT Ex-Donkey Blog
NFL Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous NFL thoughts and observations.

- The "Are you really dumb enough to put that in print?" Award for the weekend goes to Phil Mushnick of the New York Post who yesterday wrote:
Heck, if you compare 1960s videotape to 2000s videotape, Bart Starr and [Chad] Pennington are the same QB.
Phil - I think if you compare 1980s videotape to 2000s videotape, Tony Eason and Chad Pennington are the same QB.

- Did you catch Sean Merriman being interviewed at half-time of the Patriots game? He was wearing a black "wife beater" T-shirt. You would think a convicted steroids user would have better fashion sense. Guess not. You have to wonder if Merriman consulted Jose Canseco about what to wear on national TV. If Merriman can somehow develop that facial tick of Canseco - then it will be complete. Jason Taylor meanwhile was in ESPN's studios in a suit and tie. I think it is clear which player will be better prepared for life after football.

- The Pats were 11-16 in third down conversions - the Jets were 3-11. That was the real story of the game.

- Probably the person happiest that Bobby Petrino took the Atlanta Falcons head coaching job has to be Rick Pitino. The football program was about to eclipse the basketball program at Louisville and if people were paying attention they would have noticed that besides that fast start the first year - the basketball program is regressing under Pitino.

- Here are the early lines for next weekend's games:
Indy at Baltimore (-4) 41 o/u
Philly at New Orleans (-5.5) 48 o/u
Seattle at Chicago (-8.5) 37 o/u
New England at San Diego (-4.5) 47 o/u
First impressions - I like the under in the Pats / Chargers game. I also think 8.5 points is too much for Chicago to be giving in the playoffs. Take those points early and pray for snow.

- Heh heh - this is classic:

HT Sports Frog

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Phil Hellmuth - Poker Brat or Poker A-Hole?

I don't think its an act. I think he really is this big a jackass.

See Iggy @ PokerWorks for the rest of the story.
For Shame Disney! Shame on You!

This is a must read article about how Disney milks the dreams of young Pop Warner players to the tune of millions of dollars.
In order to participate in the Pop Warner national football and cheerleading championships in December, children on teams nationwide were required to stay at Disney hotels and buy tickets to other parks within Walt Disney World. Pop Warner stands all but alone among organizations that impose such requirements on teams competing for national titles at the Disney complex. The vast majority of other child athletes travel there either to participate in invitational events with much less at stake than a national championship, or in competitive tournaments in which they face less restrictive requirements for lodging and amusement passes.
Disney is usually so PR conscious that I can't believe that they would reveal such a crass money-grubbing face to the public. If they donated the hotels and the tickets to the participating teams - the goodwill and PR would make great commercials along the lines of "I'm going to Disney World" commercials showing the winning QB of the Super Bowl. Instead Disney comes off looking like a company of blood suckers. Shame on you Disney. Shame on you.
VA Tech Shows Duke Their "O" Face

That's the first thing I thought of when I saw the picture in this post over at The Big Lead.
NFL Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous NFL thoughts and observations.

- Wow! Did you see the end of that Seattle / Dallas game? The Cowboys are down by a point with a minute and change and go for the field goal only to have Tony Romo muff the snap. I have to wonder if Drew Bledsoe had conflicting emotions there at the end. Some people may still be on the Tony Romo bandwagon but to me he is giving off Rob Johnson type vibes.

- I have to put some of the blame on the failed field goal on Martin Grammatica. The Cowboys have the tiniest kicker in NFL history. If Grammatica was just a little bit bigger then maybe he slows down Jordan Babineaux just enough so that Romo can scramble for either the first down or a TD. Watch the replay and see how Babineaux just runs by Grammatica without slowing even just a bit. Just saying but no way Babineaux gets by Adam Vinatieri so easily.

- The betting line just before the game was Seattle -1.5 points. Once again - Dallas fans who bet on their team saw their team lose but they won their bet while Seahawk fans had the opposite. Its uncanny how the Vegas guys get these lines so spot on.

- Herm Edwards is Rich Kotite with charisma.

- The Deion Branch Experience. The Cold, Hard Football Facts have a nice little set of stats that sum up having Deion Branch as your top reciever:
For the record:

* The Patriots went 10-6 last year with Branch and scored 23.7 PPG.
* The Patriots went 12-4 this year without Branch and scored 24.1 PPG
* The Seahawks went 13-3 last year without Branch and scored 28.2 PPG
* The Seahawks went 9-7 this year with Branch and scored 20.9 PPG.
I admit to being among those who over-valued Branch but I bow before the Cold, Hard Football Facts. As Kevin Bacon once said, "These are the facts and they are undisputed."

- It has to be said - John Madden should retire. Last night he was just awful. Every prediction he made was wrong. He was just awful.

- I have the feeling that either Chad Pennington or Eli Manning will have such a mistake riddled performance today that people will stop talking about Tony Romo for at least a day.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

NFL Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous NFL thoughts and observations.

- Bill Cowher – three thoughts on Bill Cowher’s resignation. First – Cowher replaced a Hall of Fame coach and ended up having a Hall of Fame career himself. I cannot think of another situation where a young coach (or coach of any age) replaced a legend and was as successful as Cowher was in replacing Chuck Noll in Pittsburgh. Second – one great testament to how good Cowher was in getting the most of his players was how successful his players were in playing in his system and then how badly they seemed to fade when they went elsewhere as free agents. Cowher made it to the Super Bowl with Kordell Stewart as QB for cripes sake! Finally – I think he’s just burned out and needs to recharge. I don’t read any further into the situation and I will go on record as saying that I don’t think Cowher returns to the NFL as a coach. I think he may go the TV route for a while and then get a nice college job where he can “relax”.

- Pre-Season Odds on Super Bowl – here were the odds on winning the Super Bowl from back in April:
Indianapolis Colts 11/2
New England Patriots 15/2
Dallas Cowboys 10/1
Pittsburgh Steelers 10/1
San Diego Chargers 11/1
Seattle Seahawks 11/1
Carolina Panthers 12/1
Denver Broncos 12/1
Washington Redskins 13/1
Chicago Bears 15/1
Kansas City Chiefs 16/1
Miami Dolphins 18
Philadelphia Eagles 18/1
Cincinnati Bengals 20/1
New York Giants 20/1
Note that five of the top 12 “favorites” did not even make the playoffs. San Diego is now an almost 2-1 favorite which means that if you took them at 11-1 that you got quite a bargain. Baltimore is now 7/2 and they weren’t even in the top 12 back at Easter.

- Today’s Indy vs. KC game has me reminded of the 2004 AFC Wild Card Game which was also played in Indianapolis. The Broncos were perhaps the best running team in football and the Colts defense was questionable, especially against the run. The Colts destroyed Denver 49-24 that day. I look for the Colts to win easily against the Chiefs today.
Mark McGwire Hall of Fame?

One aspect of Mark McGwire's career I would like to draw attention to this morning is his past trade worth. McGwire was traded to St. Louis in the middle of 1997 and he went on to hit 220 HR for the Cardinals in 4.5 seasons. Do you know what St. Louis had to give up to get a player many would believe is Hall of Fame worthy? Pretty much nothing.

The A's got Eric Ludwick, T.J. Mathews, and Blake Stein back from the Cardinals in exchange for McGwire. When you look at the productivity of those three players you realize that the A's could have done just as well trading McGwire for three random Rule V choices.

The A's were going to lose McGwire at the end of the 1997 season and weren't going anywhere that season - so it made sense for them to trade McGwire. But why trade him for nothing? St. Louis knew it was giving up a bag of balls and I think Sandy Alderson of the A's knew he was getting nothing in return. Alderson could have held out for a Alan Benes, Matt Morris, or Braden Looper - instead he was content to just dump McGwire's salary for three never-will-be's.

I'm racking my brain but I can't recall any other potential Hall of Fame player being dumped mid-season for salary reasons.

Just another thing to consider about McGwire.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Wow - Brings Back Memories

Video of a guy beating Super Mario in 5 minutes. Wow!

HT Steve Silver (be sure to bookmark Steve's site he always has good stuff posted)
International Loans

Much has been made this past week about the news that Britain will soon be paying off the final two installments on loans made to help it through World War II. Some people have taken the opportunity to poke some fun at Britain and Europe in general.

To me the news was a reminder that early in our country's history we badly needed foreign investment and that when we hit a rough patch in the early 1840's some states just defaulted on their loans instead of honoring their obligations. Specifically American states like Pennsylvania, Maryland, Mississippi, Indiana, Arkansas and Michigan plus the Florida territory defaulted on their loan obligations to British banks. Most states later made good on their obligations but not Mississippi or Florida.

In a way - I'm thankful for that. Now this is just guessing on my part but I think this failure to honor debts like a "gentleman" on the behalf of Mississippi and Florida in the 1840's may have just been enough to keep the British from recognizing and helping the Confederate States in the Civil War. A distrust of the South was sure to be a lingering effect over the defaulted loans from the 1840's.

IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream -- and not make dreams your master;
If you can think -- and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings -- nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And -- which is more -- you'll be a Man, my son!

Rudyard Kipling
I am Spiderman

Your results:
You are Spider-Man

Green Lantern
The Flash
Iron Man
Wonder Woman
You are intelligent, witty,
a bit geeky and have great
power and responsibility.

Click here to take the "Which Superhero am I?" quiz...

I feel more like Tony Stark than Peter Parker though. Should I be worried that according to the test I'm more like Wonder Woman than Batman?

HT Baseball Crank