Saturday, June 30, 2007

I Learned Something New Today

While perhaps not being as glamorous as being the second largest city in New England - today I learned that Daejeon is the 5th largest city in South Korea (and with a population of 1.4 million - it is slightly larger than Worcester).

I learned this because I got an email from my old Internet buddy Van Walker who is teaching English Literature at Daejeon University. Van is an example of a man who is enthusiastic about sports and whose writing ability would put to shame most of the columnists working at major papers in the US today. Seriously - if Van got a job as a sports columnist - he'd automatically be in the top 25 in the country.

Because of end of term commitments - Van hasn't been able to post that much but his blog The Chair-Armed Quarterback is well worth a bookmark on your part. His take on the Michael Vick situation (though dated) is better than anything I've read elsewhere.

Can you tell I'm a fan of Van's writing? I just wish he'd write more.
Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

Bill Lear, founder of Lear Jet Corporation named his daughter Shanda. Yup Shanda Lear... Julio Lugo is in the midst of a mighty slump but this is a bit over the top. It also steals my thunder because I was going to do a spoof promotion by the Red Sox where official card carrying members of Red Sox Nation (yes the Red Sox actually sell membership cards) get chosen to pinch hit for Julio Lugo with proceeds going to the Jimmy Fund. It is an idea that I could actually see the Red Sox marketing people toss around. (Hat tip to Che MRhe for the link)... The silent one in Penn and Teller changed his name from Raymond Joseph Teller to just Teller... Very well done article on pro poker player Vinnie Vinh and the demons he's fighting. Makes for very interesting reading even if you are not a fan of poker... Penn Jillette from Penn and Teller named his daughter Moxie CrimeFighter Jillette. While it is an amusing name - I hope the girl sues her father for cruelty when she gets older... On this day in 1978 Willie McCovey became the 12th member of the 500 HR club. Babe Ruth was the first member back in 1929. So it took 49 years to get to 12 members but since 1978 the club has added 9 more members and within a year three more players should reach 500 HR (Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez and Jim Thome). So it took about 50 years to go from to 12 members and then just another 30 to go from 12 to 24 members.... I always joked with my wife that we should name one of our kids Next. That way when they grow up and someone asks, "Who's next?" - they could answer, "I am"... Exactly 10-years ago today - the first Harry Potter book was published. It's feels like its taken 10-years just to get the seventh book published.
Woo Hoo! We're #2! We're #2!

According to the latest census - Worcester is once again the second largest city in New England. In your face Providence! The latest federal census estimate lists Worcester’s population at 175,454, and Providence at 175,255.

Worcester lost the title as the second biggest city in New England back in 2001. It is nice for the self-conscious residents of Worcester like me to have the title back. People around the country have no idea about Worcester and are often surprised to hear that it is the second largest city in New England.

For the record - Worcester is also larger than the following cities; Abilene, TX, Albany, NY, Billings, MT, Huntsville, AL, Overland Park, KS, Oceanside, CA, Tallahassee, FL, Dayton, OH, Chattanooga, TN, Kansas City, KS, Syracuse, NY, Ann Arbor, MI and Provo, UT.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Rick Robey

Have you been wondering what Rick Robey has been up to these days? Well - he's selling real estate in the Louisville area.

Robey was a star player at the University of Kentucky and the 3rd overall pick in the 1978 NBA draft. In honor of him being the 3rd pick - here are three random thoughts.

1. I can't hear the name Rick Robey without hearing Bob Cousy say, "Wick Wobey with the webound" in my head.

2. The real estate prices in Louisville look very reasonable in comparison to the price you'd pay for a house in Eastern Massachusetts.

3. I was thinking about Rick Robey because he was involved in the last big trade the Celtics made that netted them a guard who made his name in the league playing for the Sonics. I doubt if Ray Allen will be as successful with the Celtics as Dennis Johnson was but I bet he provides the kind of behind the scenes leadership that DJ brought to the Celtics.
Celtics Trade

I love the trade that sent Ray Allen to the Celtics in exchange for the 5th pick (Jeff Green) plus Wally Szczerbiak and Delonte West. This will make a huge difference to the Celtics and I think it puts them in the running for the Eastern Conference Championship next year. The move gives the Celtics a mini-Big Three with Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Al Jefferson. Those three will match up well with any three from any team in the East.

I know that Ray Allen is about to be 32 (July 20th) and that Paul Pierce is 30 but Al Jefferson is just 22 and is coming off a season where he averaged 16 points and 11 rebounds per game. If the Celtics can make it to the playoffs with those 3 players healthy - then anything can happen.

Besides the 22-year old Al Jefferson, the Celtics also have a core of young players like 21-year old Gerald Green, 21-year old Rajon Rondo, 23-year old Kendrick Perkins, 25-year old Tony Allen and 25-year old Ryan Gomes. With Ray Allen and Paul Pierce that's 8 players who can go uptempo and tire out some of the older teams in the East (Toronto being the team that most worries me).

Rounding out the bench would be USC guard Gabe Pruitt who was taken yesterday with their pick at No. 32, LSU's Glen 'Big Baby' Davis who was taken at No. 35 plus Theo Ratliff who not only has a big expiring contract but who also is still a big help on the defensive end when healthy.

Many people are looking for the Celtics to make another move to further upgrade their roster but I think the roster is fine as currently comprised. Sometimes too much tinkering is a bad thing. If the Celtics do make another move - I hope it is just to move the unwanted contracts of Brian Scalabrine (nothing personal Brian - you seem like a fine fellow but I would just as soon not see you in a Celtics uniform next year) and Sebastian Telfair (punk).

When you look at what the Celtics gave up to get Ray Allen - it makes you like the move even more. Jeff Green will be a good but not great player who would have competed for minutes with the Celtics with both Al Jefferson and Ryan Gomes (Seattle hopes that Green will be as good as Al Jefferson but he may be closer to the under-rated Gomes). Wally Szczerbiak has a contract that is huge in comparison to what he brings to the court and lets not forget that he's starting to look a bit brittle. Delonte West played both the point and shooting guard but was not great at either position.

I like this trade a whole lot.
Now I Think Tony Soprano Died

This will probably be my absolute last post on the subject - but this piece has convinced me that Tony Soprano died at the end of the last Soprano's show.

I think some of the ideas presented are pushing the envelope and are examples of reading too much into things (like the onion rings representing Communion wafers). Overall the argument is tough to refute. Tony's dead.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Inappropriate Lap Dance Songs

A reader in Bill Simmons latest Internet chat wrote:
Adam: (New York, NY): You are exactly the guy to settle this: For the first time in my life this past weekend I was fortunate enough have "Mr. Roboto" as the background song for a lap dance. Needless to say, it was a wastershed comedic moment in my life. Watching a stripper try to put together a dance that was both alluring and contextually appropriate given the song was more entertaining than watching Eric Dickerson try to ad-lib an analysis of Lyndon Johnson's "Great Society." Anyway, the question: Is "Mr. Roboto" the funniest possible strip-club song to provoke this absolutely riveting experience?
Bill Simmons suggested maybe Starship's We Built this City or Billy Joel's We Didn't Start the Fire. His readers chimed in with the following suggestions:

- TNT by AC/DC
- 500 Miles by the Proclaimers
- Everybody Hurts by REM
- Rick Astley's Never Gonna Give You Up
- Mike and the Mechanics The Living Years
- Disco Duck by Rick Dees

My mind works differently but I would suggest the following (just for comedy's sake):

- Ballad of the Green Berets by Staff Sgt. Barry Sadler
- Love Child by Dianna Ross
- Thank You for Being a Friend (either the Andrew Gold version or the Theme to Golden Girls version)
- Kate Smith singing God Bless America
- In the Ghetto by Elvis
- YMCA by the Village People
Distorting JFK

David Talbot has a rather long piece in TIME where he tries to make the case that JFK was a "peace-minded visionary." This kind of whitewashing of history gets under my skin. Right off the bat it is clear that Talbot is out to help an agenda not make any true historical contribution or clarification.
As the U.S. once again finds itself in an endless war — this time against terror, or perhaps against fear itself — the question of Kennedy's true legacy seems particularly loaded.
The words "once again" and "endless war" imply that the Cold War fought during Kennedy's Presidency was an "endless war" just as it implied that the current War on Terror will also prove to be an endless war. The fact is the Cold War was not endless - it did have an end and a victory for our side because we stayed the course and men like President Reagan weren't willing to just throw in the towel because the job was difficult.

I also take issue with Talbot's musing that we are currently at war with "fear itself". The War on Terror isn't a war against "terror" - it is a battle to stop the spread of Radical Islam. Just as the Cold War wasn't a war against low temperatures but in fact against the spread of international Communism. By saying that we are currently in an "endless war" Talbot is revealing that we are in a battle he doesn't think can be won. I disagree but my disagreement is opinion whereas Talbot is trying to pass his opinion as history.

Just two paragraphs into his article and already it should be clear that this is article in TIME is about what David Talbot believes much more than about what JFK believed. Skeptical that I'm telling the truth? Check out this whopper just two paragraphs later:
It would be hard to imagine the current occupant of the White House extending the same offer [an invitation to "quest for peace" JFK mentioned in his Inaugural Address] to Islamic jihadists or Iran's leaders.
The moral equivalence disgusts me. Would Talbot have also approved of FDR extending an olive branch to Hitler? Heck - that's exactly what JFK's isolationist dad proposed. No - JFK tried to negotiate peace because the USSR had the nuclear stockpile to blowup the world several times over. Our current enemies don't have nuclear weapons (yet) and are not concerned with blowing up the world - just their children with sticks of dynamite strapped to their chests.

Talbot talks about how JFK "outflanked" Richard Nixon in their 1960 campaign by making the "missile gap" and the cause of Cuban "freedom fighters" major campaign issues. The missile gap we know now was a fraud. The US was never close to being behind the USSR in missile capability and Kennedy made Cuban freedom fighters a campaign touchstone but once in office the failure at the Bay of Pigs somehow becomes the fault of the military or the CIA?

George W. Bush is ridiculed for "lying" about WMD in Iraq even though every Intelligence Agency in the world believed such stockpiles existed. JFK used what he knew was a lie about WMD as a campaign strategy (the missile gap) and it is hailed as good politics by Talbot? Strange.

Kennedy truly was a Teflon President. The Bay of Pigs wasn't his fault - it was the Generals fault (yet does anyone think Eisenhower would have been led into such a debacle?). Talbot argues that Kennedy just had 16,000 troops in Vietnam and that JFK planned to remove those troops after he was re-elected (wishful thinking - not true historical analysis). Finally we get to the Cuban Missile Crisis which historians portray as a huge win for Kennedy when the fact is it was not. The USSR couldn't afford to defend Cuba. The Russians ended up giving up missiles they didn't need for a promise from the US that we would never invade Cuba.

By all means - read Talbot's piece but do it with a grain of salt. Know that it is not history but an agenda motivated whitewash.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Strategic Petroleum Reserve

I was reading this column by Victor Davis Hanson when this section got me thinking:
With oil prices at an all-time high, Iran can't provide gasoline for its own people, who resent the billions spent instead on Arab terrorists abroad. If oil were to dip from near $70 to $50-55 a barrel, the regime would face abject bankruptcy. For all the criticism of the U.S. position, from the left and right, we have now found the right blend of military determination not to let Teheran go nuclear, combined with economic and political efforts at containment. There is an array of future options — stronger embargoes, blockades, and military strikes on infrastructure — still on the table. The social unrest the mullahs desire in Iraq is starting to spill over the border into their own Iran, and its magnitude and final course are still unpredictable.
After reading that paragraph I wondered if the US could use our Strategic Petroleum Reserve to drive prices down and help further destabilize Iran. President Bush released 11 million barrels to help calm markets after Hurricane Katrina. What would happen if Bush asked to have a third of the reserves released now (around 300 million barrels)? I would assume that this news would drive down the price per barrel of crude oil and thus help destabilize the terrorists in Teheran in the manner VDH described. If their oil money took a big dip - then they would have a hard time financing the terror exports to Syria, Lebanon, Gaza and most importantly Iraq.

President Bush could say he's making the move to help drive down prices for the summer months so that Americans would be able to take vacations without the high price of gas hanging over their heads. The move could also greatly help the economy. What politican could be against the move? It would be like coming out in favor of high gas prices.

The only downside I can see is that stock prices for oil companies could take a hit and our reserves would be down but the oil companies would rebound and the reserves could always be added to when prices get down to a naturally low level when things stabilize (if that's a word you can use) in the Middle East.

Is there a flaw in this idea? Because if there is - I can't see it.
Top 5 - Best War Movies of All-time

I saw this post over at The Big Lead - and thought I'd revise and post my own personal top five. Let me just add that I love Band of Brothers but technically that was a series and not a movie. If Band of Brothers was a movie - it would be #1 on the list.

1. All Quiet on the Western Front (either 1930 or 1979 version)
2. Paths of Glory
3. Saving Private Ryan
4. Gettysburg
5. (tie) To Hell and Back (tie) Sargent York (tie) Full Metal Jacket
The Great Depression is Depressing

Russell Crowe has said that Cinderella Man was his favorite movie. He has also said that he was greatly disappointed that the movie didn't do better at the box office. He can't understand why more people didn't go see such finely made movie.

I know why the movie didn't do better at the box office - Americans find the Great Depression depressing.

Americans are a forward-looking, optimistic people. I love history but Americans in general don't. People don't come to the USA to dwell on the past. They come to America to dream of the future. And in America that future is always so bright you have to wear shades.

I have been thinking about this subject for some time now but what made me post about it today was this article by Amity Shlaes. The basic question Shales asks is why historians haven't taken a closer, more critical look at FDR and his policies which in her opinion (and mine too) made the depression worse - not better as popular history would have you believe.

I hate to break it to Amity Shlaes but I don't think her book The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression will be a best-seller. People like to read uplifting Horatio Alger-like stories of American historical figures. That's why biographies on Franklin, Truman, Lincoln and the rise of the Kennedy Clan do so well. Conversely, people avoid negative books where the basic message is "things weren't as good as you think." That's why a biography of Ted Kennedy won't make the best seller list and that's why a book telling the truth about FDR's failed social experiments (even though the consequences of those failed experiments haunt us to this day) also won't be wildly popular. I'll buy Amity Shlaes book and I hope others do too. I'm not holding my breath to see it on the NYT Best Sellers List however.

The reason Cinderella Man did poorly because it focused on the Great Depression too much as the back-drop to Jim Braddock's great tale of triumphing over great odds to become champion of the world. Braddock's tale is supposed to be uplifting and in the end it is. However, much of the first three-quarters of the movie deals with people laid as low as it could get by forces beyond their control. That's just depressing and Americans don't go to movies to be depressed.

And I'm afraid they won't buy a book about the Great Depression for the same reason.

Baseball Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous baseball thoughts and observations.

Coco Crisp - the best centerfielder in baseball?... The NL West is virtually a dead heat among three teams with the Rockies not too far behind. Colorado is easily the best hitting team of the four but they will need another starter like Mark Buerhle or Dontrelle Willis if they are to make a run at the division. The Dodgers are the most balanced team in the division (8th in runs scored per game and 3rd in runs allowed per game in the NL) and the addition of James Loney to the lineup may just prove to be the move that puts the Dodgers over the top... Changing of the guard? It is very possible that the best shortstops in baseball today are Jose Reyes and Hanley Ramizez in the NL and Orlando Cabrera in the AL. Gone are the days of A-Rod, Tejada, Jeter and Nomar ruling the roost (with Omar Vizquel tossed in for you leather fans). Only Jeter among the "big 4" is still playing shortstop at a high level. Is the Golden Age of Shortstops over? Or is the Golden Age continuing with a new generation of slugging shortstops?... Happy 64th birthday to Red Sox great Rico Petrocelli. If you want to win a bar trivia bet - ask "Who is the only major league player with a first name of Americo to start in the All-Star game?" The answer of course is Rico Petrocelli...

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Baseball Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous baseball thoughts and observations.

Miguel Tejada may be out with his broken wrist until August. That's bad news for the Orioles in more than one way. It will be very difficult to deal Tejeda while he's on the DL and his return date will be past the end of the trade deadline. Looks like Baltimore will be stuck with Tejada for the rest of the season. I'd look for him to be dealt after the World Series... Manny Ramirez (1,386,522) has dropped to 4th in the AL All-Star voting behind Vlade Guerrero (2,043,824), Magglio Ordonez (1,445,899) and Ichiro (1,409,762). All three are very deserving of the honor but I'd still like to see Manny get the votes... I love for many reasons and one of them is the sponsors they get for many of their pages. Here's what it says on Mark Buerhle's page: "Goliak sponsor(s) this page. We could've kept our season tickets, gone to the world series and seen Buehrle's no hitter. I hate you, joe." I'm guessing Joe decided not to renew some tickets or something and Goliak is no longer a fan of Joe the cheapskate... Nomar Garciaparra will be moving to third base for the Dodgers to make room for hard hitting James Loney at first base. David Pinto doesn't like the move. He thinks the Dodgers should just sit Nomar. I like the move and would have 3 responses to David Pinto (who I greatly respect): 1 - yes Nomar is having a down year but he has been hitting in the "clutch" - witness his .423 BA with RISP this year which is best in the NL; 2 - Nomar has a track record that says he'll break out of his power slump whereas Betemit has no such track record and is more of a risk; finally 3 - for better or worse Nomar is currently the face of the franchise and you just don't bench the one player the fans recognize for a marginal statistical upgrade...
Sammy Sosa and the Hall of Fame

If I had a vote for the baseball Hall of Fame - I'd vote no on Sammy Sosa. Everyone agrees that Sosa was no great shakes in the field (he's more likely to be called a liability than anything else). When you look at his offensive numbers only home runs and RBI stand out. Sosa doesn't have the batting average (.273), the hits (2,365), or even the slugging percentage you'd expect from a "slugger". His slugging percentage is behind contemporaries such as Carlos Delgado, Jason Giambi, Larry Walker and Chipper Jones. The only thing Sosa is known for is hitting home runs but at what cost did those 600 HR come at?

With all the hype over his 600th HR - one thing I noticed is that nobody seemed to mention the fact that Sosa is second on the all-time strikeout list. Only Reggie Jackson has struck out more in the history of professional baseball. However, Jackson was known as Mr. October for coming through in the the clutch. Sosa, on the other hand, is known as a guy with a huge steroids cloud hanging over his head (and as a guy who suddenly forgot how to speak English when called in front of Congress).

For his career Sammy has struck out once every 3.8 AB. That means that for every HR they saw - Cubs fans had to grit their teeth through about 4 strike outs. Another way to put it is for every base you touch in a home run - Sosa sacrificed a strikeout in order to touch 'em all.

OPS+ is a stat that is used to compare hitters from different points in time. Sosa's career OPS+ of 128 (with 100 being exactly average) puts him in a tie with such names as Jim Rice, Moises Alou and David Justice. It also puts him behind players like John Olerud and Tim Salmon

EDIT: Kevin had some similar thoughts on Sosa
Joe Morgan Chats About the Half Blood Prince

(Not much going on today and with the seventh Harry Potter book due out in less than a month - I thought I'd repost this piece I wrote two years ago.)

Recently A Large Regular was able to catch up with baseball Hall of Famer and ESPN baseball analyst Joe Morgan about JK Rowling's newest installment in the Harry Potter series of books.

ALR: Thanks for the interview Joe. First off, have you read the new Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince?

JM: I read an excerpt in the NY Times. It's typical if you write a book, you want to be the hero. That is apparently what Harry Potter has done. According to what I read in the Times, Potter is smarter and braver than anyone else. I don't think it will make him popular with the other wizards out there.

ALR: Umm... Joe have you read any of the Harry Potter books? You do realize that they were written by JK Rowling - right?

: Those Harry Potter books are overrated. Nobody reads those Harry Potter books.

: Harry Potter books overrated? Nobody reads them? Aren't they the best selling books in the world? Could have sworn I'd heard differently.

JM: The Harry Potter books are the second most printed books in the world next to the Bible. The second most printed books in the world! Of course with that many books being printed someone is bound to read a couple. It doesn't mean anything. I mean all those Bibles are printed but they just end up in the bedside tables in hotels.

ALR: Ummm... OK... Changing gears - Joe if you were Harry Potter - what sort of magical power would you want?

JM: I wouldn't be Harry Potter first off. And if I was - I certainly wouldn't write any of these books about myself.

ALR: Joe I think you really aught to read the books if you are going to be making comments about them.

JM: No, I shouldn'’t read the books. 'Cause I don't care about the books. I mean the people reading these books are just a bunch of geeks sitting at computer screens. That's how we got Enron.

ALR: Joe - thanks or joining us today. I'm going to have to go now to get a couple of asprins and maybe a couple of stiff drinks to recover from this interview.

JM: My final comment on Harry Potter - I didn't read the book. If you liked Harry Potter, then follow that theory. I personally prefer my comic books with less words and more pictures.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Mark Buehrle to the Red Sox

There have been reports in Chicago papers that Mark Buehrle may be dealt to the Red Sox. As Lee Corso would say, "Not so fast my friend."

The Chicago papers would have you believe the trade would be something like Jon Lester for Mark Buehle. While it is true that Mark Buehrle is the type of player the Red Sox hope Jon Lester would develop into - why would the Red Sox give up years of the 23-year old Jon Lester for just 3 months of the 28-year old Buehrle?

As Tony Massarotti points out - the Red Sox hold most of the cards in this negotiation. The Red Sox hold a number of chips besides Lester such as Kason Gabbard who will be showcased this week as he takes over Curt Schilling's spot in the rotation or Devern Hansack who has a 3.19 ERA and 71 strikeouts in 73 innings from 12 AAA starts this season. Hansack is 29-years old and needs a chance to show he can play at the MLB level.

Also don't forget reliever Craig Hansen who was highly touted coming out of college but hasn't been stellar for the Red Sox. Maybe he would benefit from a change of scenery?

The Red Sox want to get Buehrle not just because he could help the team down the stretch but also to keep him from other playoff-bound American League teams. He could be the biggest difference maker available at or before the trade deadline. I mean even Dontrelle Willis wouldn't have as much impact for an AL team as the already acclimated Buehrle.

The big problem with the White Sox is not pitching but offense. This year they just suck at the plate. Now I'm not saying that he'd be the answer to what ails the White Sox offense but I am saying that the White Sox should consider a swap for Willy Mo Pena who is still just 25-years old. The White Sox potentially could lose all of their starting outfielders to free-agency this winter. Getting a guy who has hit a HR every 18 at bats in his career and who could be plugged into any of the three outfield slots should be appealing to the White Sox.
Thomas Custer and the Little Big Horn

Many people realize that George Armstrong Custer died at the battle of the Little Big Horn but few realize that two of Custer's brothers also died that day and that one of his brothers was a two-time Medal of Honor winner.

Thomas Custer died on this day 131 years ago at the Little Big Horn. He is one of just 19 soldiers to have earned more than one Medal of Honor.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Jackie Gleason - The Great One

(Today marks the 10th anniversary of the passing of Jackie Gleason. His genius was before my time and I just remember the guy who played the sheriff if the Smokey and the Bandit movies. But there was a time when Gleason was as big as it got. In Jackie's honor - here is something I posted about "the Great One" over two years ago.)

Long before Gretzky was tabbed as "the great one" - Jackie Gleason had lived up to that nickname and more. I never realized how much booze played a role in his life though.

Excellent essay on Gleason and booze - here's a small snippet:
With some time off before his first season as CBS’s golden boy, Jackie camped out at Toots Shor’s with Sinatra and his celebrity pals. One evening Frank showed up during Jackie’s morning eye-opener with four tickets to the sold-out final playoff game between the NY Giants and the Brooklyn Dodgers. J. Edgar Hoover, the head of the FBI, was having a tête-à-tête with Toots and Frank invited the trio to accompany him to the game. Everyone agreed except Jackie, who wanted to stay at the bar and drink. They finally talked him into it by renting a fully stocked limo. Sinatra recalls:

“We pile into that limousine, already feeling no pain, especially Gleason. Jackie guzzled booze all the way to the Polo Grounds and ate most of the food. When we get there Jackie switches to hot dogs and beer. Comes the last half of the ninth and the fans are going wild. The Giants are behind 4-2 and Bobby Thompson comes to bat.

“Right at the exact moment, with the crowd screaming, Gleason throws up right on me. Here is one of the all-time classic games that people will talk about and I am right in the stadium and I don’t see Bobby Thompson hit that home run. Only Gleason, a Brooklyn fan, would get sick at a time like that. But that’s not the punch line.

“On the drive back to Toots, Gleason keeps muttering to the chauffeur to pull over to the side of the road saying, “Let’s throw this bum Sinatra out of here. He’s smelling up the limo.”
Can you picture anyone else being able to treat Sinatra like that?
Baseball Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous baseball thoughts and observations.

I thought today we'd start off with a little visual comparison. Yesterday I mentioned Nate Colbert who happens to be the all-time leader in HR for the Padres. Chris in the comments mentioned that according to his 1974 baseball card Colbert was not a handsome man. I was curious and did a GIS search and found this baseball card for Nate Colbert. My immediate thought was that Colbert looked just like the guy from the Red Stripe commercials. You be the judge.

Boo Chris Young pitching like Cy Young in a 6-1 victory over the Red Sox! Hooray beer! Boo Julio Lugo having the lowest batting average in all of baseball! Hooray beer! Boo 19 players having a slugging percentage higher than what Julio Lugo has for an OPS! Hooray beer!

The Blue Jays can make it back to .500 with a win today. In a way - making it to .500 could be the worst thing that could happen to Toronto. I don't think the Blue Jays have a chance at the post-season this year because they won't catch the Red Sox (11 games back) and they won't win the Wildcard (7 back). However, having a winning record will make it tough for the Toronto front office to waive the white flag and make some deals that will make the team better in the future. Troy Glaus could bring some pretty good prospects and he'd probably would waive his no-trade clause to go to either the Angels or Dodgers but if the team still has even a glimmer of hope then he'll probably end up staying in Toronto... I know that all the "official" reports say that Troy Glaus is not on the trading block and holding on to Glaus makes excellent sense because it is very difficult to find a third baseman who can hit 35 HR and have a great glove. However, the Blue Jays are not a franchise that can afford a lot of dead money on the payroll. BJ Ryan, Frank Thomas and AJ Burnett are all just one more injury away from being potential dead money contracts and with Glaus' knees - he's a danger as well... Does Bartolo Colon really have a 6.17 ERA? Wow - that's no way to pitch in your contract year.... Alex Rodriguez is on pace for 63 HR which while not approaching Barry Bonds record of 73 HR in 2001 would still be good enough to set the all-time single season HR record in the American League... Josh Beckett is pretty good with the bat and if he gets a couple of hits today then it is possible that he could sport a better batting average, OBP and slugging percentage than Julio Lugo by the time the day is over... I'm really trying to give Julio Lugo the benefit of the doubt and I want to like him but he's making it difficult...

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Baseball Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous baseball thoughts and observations.

With roughly 90 games left in the season and with the Red Sox holding a 10.5 game lead in the AL East that means that if the Red Sox went just .500 the rest of the way to finish 92-70 - the Yankees would have to finish 56-35 just to tie. That's a .615 winning percentage. In all of major league baseball - only the Red Sox and Angels have a winning percentage over .600 this season. There is just no way that the Yankees catch the Red Sox this season... The Yankees are also currently 5.5 games behind the Indians for the AL Wildcard. That puts them tied with the Twins but behind both the A's (3 games back) and the Mariners (4 games back) in the Wildcard chase. Who would have thought that this far into the season that the Yankees would have a worse record than the Mariners?... Nate Colbert is the all-time leading HR hitter for the San Diego Padres with just 163 dingers. Colbert's 163 would only be good for 13th on the Red Sox all-time list. Colbert would be one HR ahead of both Carlton Fisk and Tony Conigliaro. I'll admit to never having heard of Colbert before...
Odds to Win 2008 Republican Presidential Nomination

Here are my best estimates at the odds for the top Republican Party candidates to win their party's nomination for President.

Rudolph Guiliani - 2 to 1
Fred Thompson - 3 to 1
Mitt Romney - 4 to 1
John McCain - 4 to 1
Newt Gingrich - 20 to 1
Field - 25 to 1

The Field bet would include candidates such as Mike Huckabee, Ron Paul, Sam Brownback, Duncan Hunter and non-announced potential candidates like Chuck Hagel.

I'm pretty sure the nomination on the Republican side will come down to either Guiliani, Romney or Thompson. I don't see John McCain recovering from the Immigration debacle. The biggest knock against Gingrich are issues in his personal life but if Guiliani can insulate and isolate adultery-type issues then I would look for the odds on Gingrich to drop once he announces in September. The odds were arrived at by looking at odds at various off-shore betting houses with the compilation at being especially helpful.
Why Bush, McCain and Kennedy Want the Immigration Bill

There's a concept in business called "What's in it for Them?" The idea is you have to know what value and benefits a potential customer would see in a product or proposal or what incentive or benefit an employee would see in a new program or policy. If a customer doesn't see enough value or benefit to them - they won't buy the product or service. If an employee doesn't see enough incentive that benefits them - then whatever new program or policy that is being enacted is doomed to failure.

I won't pretend to know all the details of the proposed Immigration Bill but I will admit to wondering why George Bush and John McCain would be so strongly in support of a bill that is so very unpopular in the Republican base. What's in it for them?

John McCain represents Arizona - a border state with Mexico. George W. Bush is from Texas (you can take the man from Texas but not the Texas out of the man). Both Arizona and Texas are spending lots of time and money dealing with the problem of illegal immigration. My guess is that to them (Bush and McCain) the Immigration Bill represents a chance to have the Federal Government help relieve a problem that has been plaguing their states. The immigration equivalent of the S&L bailouts.

McCain and Bush have to understand that the Federal Bureaucracy can't handle the job they already have in regard to immigration. You would have to be naive to think that making the job that much bigger and throwing some money at it will result in anything close to efficient.

I think Bush and McCain also understood that the best way to get this bill passed was to rush it through so that it could not be closely examined. The rush to passage was waylaid and now the bill is in limbo and probably (hopefully) doomed to failure.

What was in it for Ted Kennedy and the Democratic Party? Easy - they assume that all the new "citizens" would vote Democrat.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Dirtbag Red Sox

Chad Finn has put together his all-time Red Sox dirtbag roster. I should note that it really isn't "all-time" since Finn only considers players since 1978 when he really started following the team.

I agree with most of the choices with a couple of exceptions.

I would argue Kevin Kennedy over Joe Kerrigan as manager. Kennedy ran gentleman Jamie Moyer out of town because Moyer wasn't the type of head-hunting flame-throwing pitcher Kennedy preferred. Kennedy also let clowns like Jose Canseco run the clubhouse. There's a reason Kennedy hasn't gotten another managing job since he was let go following the 1996 season.

There is no way that Tony Clark should be on anyone's "dirtbag" list. Finn is way off base on that choice. Kevin Millar would be a good fill-in at first in my opinion. He was barely replacement level (pun intended) and this dirtbag would carp about playing time? I enjoy reminding my firend Tim who is heavily into Union activity of the fact that Millar was a scab.

I would second the opinion that Jose Canseco should be added as the team's strength and conditioning coach if Steve "Psycho" Lyons could be added as team psychologist..

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Milton Bradley DFA

Milton Bradley has been designated for assignment by the Oakland A's who now have just 10 days to trade him or give him his release.

As is increasingly the case - the best place to get understanding of the move is not from a MSM outlet but from a blog. In this case from Athletics Nation.

My take is that Billy Beane weighed the cost of keeping Bradley against the possible benefits and determined that Bradley wouldn't be healthy enough for a long enough time to be worth the trouble in the clubhouse or the roster spot. Bradley has to wake up to the fact that he's only played more than 100 games in a season twice in his career. This guy makes JD Drew look like Cal Ripken.
Odds to Win 2008 Democratic Presidential Nomination

Here are my best estimates at the odds for the top Democratic Party candidates to win their party's nomination for President.

Hillary Clinton - Even Money
Barack Obama - 5 to 2
John Edwards - 7 to 1
Bill Richardson - 25 to 1
Joe Biden - 40 to 1
Field - 50 to 1

The Field bet would include candidates such as Chris Dodd, Al Sharpton, Mike Gravel, Dennis Kucinich and non-announced potential candidates like Wesley Clark and Tom Daschle.

Not sure what the odds would be on Evan Bayh or Mark Warner if they decided to run but the odds on Al Gore if he decided to jump into the race would be 5 to 1. Evan Bayh and Warner could be the real darkhorse candidates if either changed his mind about running.

I fully expect the odds on John Edwards to increase and the odds on Bill Richardson to drop. Joe Biden might as well be part of the field bet when you consider his chances of winning the nomination. The odds were arrived at by looking at odds at various off-shore betting houses with the compilation at being especially helpful.
Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

So Sammy Sosa hit his 600th home run. Big deal. Are baseball fans supposed to do cartwheels for him? Did one of Sosa's teams ever actually win anything? For a guy who found "ways" to hit a HR every 15 AB during the regular season in his career - Sosa managed only 2 HR in 53 AB in the post-season (maybe he was coming off his cycles?). Sosa made over $123 million playing baseball. Baseball fans don't owe him anything - especially a place in the Hall of Fame when players like Andre Dawson and Jim Rice aren't in because the inflated stats of steroids guys devalued their real accomplishments... Today for some reason I actually was wondering, "Whatever happened to Kevin Pittsnogle?" You would think a 6'11" guy who can hit three-pointers could make it as the 11th man for some team... This recommendation has put the book John Marshall: Definer of a Nation on my must read list...
Tom Hicks, Juan Gonzalez, Steroids and What People Already Knew

I have to laugh at reports about Ranger owner Tom Hicks comments about Juan Gonzalez "possibly" using steroids. The stories always mention Jose Canseco's allegations but none seem to bring up trainer Angel (Nao) Presinal who is more of a concrete connection to Juan-gone's steroid use. I guess "ESPN News Services" was too busy to even check their own files on Juan Gonzalez when they filed that first story I linked to because even minimal checking comes up with this nugget:
Presinal has been a persona non grata around the majors since an October 2001 incident in which he and former two-time American League MVP Juan Gonzalez, then Presinal's top client, were connected to an unmarked bag discovered by Canadian Border Service agents at the Toronto airport. The bag had come off a Cleveland Indians charter flight and, according to a New York Daily News story last summer, contained anabolic steroids and hypodermic needles.

Gonzalez, an outfielder with the Indians at the time, told Canadian Border Service agents that the bag belonged to Presinal. Presinal disputes that it contained steroids, but contends the gym bag and everything in it belonged to Gonzalez. Canadian authorities never filed charges against either the player or the trainer, but rumors about the incident have festered throughout baseball ever since.
Here's the rub - everyone in baseball knew about the run-in with the law in Toronto including, I assume, Tom Hicks and the Texas Rangers front office. Yet that very offseason is when they gave Gonzalez the 2-year $24 million contract. Reading Hicks comments in proper context it is more than possible that Hicks isn't mad that Gonzalez took steroids but instead mad that he stopped taking them after he got the big contract from the Rangers.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Coco vs the Caveman

Not making any editorial comment here - I just thought this comparison between what Johnny Damon has done this year vs what Coco Crisp has done was interesting and good for some perspective:

Damon - .255 BA / 4 HR / 23 RBI / 35 R / 11 SB
Crisp - .247 BA / 3 HR / 18 RBI / 35 R / 13 SB

The numbers are very close although Damon clearly has the slight edge.

Three very big differences to note though:

1. Damon has an OBP of .345 which is just OK for a leadoff hitter but the OBP looks great compared to Crisp's .302 OBP (although to be fair - Coco is a bottom of the order guy and not a leadoff hitter like Damon).

2. Crisp has been great in the field this year whereas Damon's injuries have precluded him from making any significant contributions in the field.

3. Crisp is 27-years old while Damon is 33-years old. Crisp is also owed $10.5 million over the next two years while Damon will take home $26 million over the same period.

Red Sox fans have been very down on Coco Crisp this season but I think if you look at the facts that you have to conclude that the Red Sox did make the right move in not bringing back Johnny Damon.
Interesting Bill James Article

Nice article on Bill James in the Wall Street Journal.

James has to be very careful about what he says about players and what he does for the team out of concern of tipping the Red Sox hand. He never lets anyone know what he's really thinking or working on. I'm betting Bill James would make an excellent poker player. I also hope that when he's all done with the Red Sox that he writes a book about his experiences. I'd buy that book in a second.
Bloomberg as an Independent?

New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg is mulling running for President as an Independent.

That's excellent news!

For the Republican Party.

The Democratic candidates are being pulled to the far left during the primaries but the general elections require a more centrist approach. Bloomberg can appear more centrist than the Democratic candidate (whoever he or she ends up being) and syphon off votes from their base just like Ross Perot did to George H Bush in 1990 or like Ralph Nader did to Al Gore in 2000.

A Bloomberg candidacy won't hurt the Republican candidate because the Republican base doesn't consider Bloomberg to be anything than a rich-boy opportunist who was a Republic in name only during his election to be mayor of New York City. Bloomberg's nanny-state policies hurt him with independent gun owners and smokers but could be appealing to some in the Democrat's base.

I for one hope he runs because it will give everyone somebody to make fun of.

EDIT: Jonah Goldberg has very similar thoughts on what a Bloomberg run for President as an Independent would mean and he even uses some of the same words and phrasing I did (although I'm not sure if my "syphon" is correct or his "siphon" is). My post beat Goldberg's by 10 minutes though. It would be cool if Goldberg reached his conclusions only after reading my post but this is just a case of two guys stating the obvious.
Tom Hicks Steroids Comment

I have to laugh at the reaction to Rangers owner Tom Hicks saying, "Juan Gonzalez, for $24 million, after he came off steroids probably... we just gave that money away." I learned about the comment from watching Baseball Tonight on ESPN last night. Both John Kruk and Fernando Vina ripped Hicks for talking about Juan Gonzalez without having absolute proof of what he was saying.

Is there anyone out there who doesn't think Juan Gonzalez was a steroids user?

Kruk and Vina are examples of the law of omerta the grips players and former players when it comes to steroids. If they can't even bring themselves to admit that maybe Hicks has a legit grievance when it comes to Juan-gone then why shouldn't the public just make the assumption that all the baseball players of that period were steroids taking cheaters? Kruk and Vina included. If anyone even owners can't talk about obvious cases of steroids use then what's the point?

It is so bad that Jose Canseco keeps looking more and more like a paragon of honesty and integrity when compared to former players and baseball scribes who covered the steroids era. Think about that.

: You can find Hick's comments here. Thanks to Kent Chapline for the link

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Heh Heh

As Homer would say - it's funny because its true!

HT John Donovan at who is still making the mistake of ranking the Red Sox second even though the Red Sox have the best record in baseball and the last time the Red Sox played the Angels - Boston outscored the LAA of A 25 to 3.
Nick Drake

Today would have been Nick Drake's 59th birthday. I find it almost impossible to picture Nick Drake at almost 60-years old.

Bryter Music is the official website of his estate and they have his music playing there. You can skip through to favorite songs or buy his music from the iTunes Music store.

The site is a nice thing to have have playing softly in the background while you make it through your work day. Drake's music is hauntingly melodic and mellow. However, don't be surprised if you listen to his lyrics (consciously or unconsciously) and suddenly find yourself depressed on the sunniest of days.
Orioles Fire Perlozzo

So Sam Perlozzo of the Orioles was the first manager fired in 2007. I feel bad for Perlozzo because he wasn't the guy who was buying the groceries but today he's the guy who had to pay the bill. When you look at the offseason moves by the Orioles front office - you come away - let's just say less than impressed.

Only the pitiful offense of the White Sox has scored fewer runs than the Orioles this year. Aubrey Huff was the big bat that was signed in the offseason for 3-years and $20 million. With just 4 HR and an OPS of exactly .700 - Huff is a black hole on the payroll and on the line-up. There are a number of teams trying to make the playoffs who need help at 3rd base. If the Orioles could dump Huff for just a player to be named later it would be worth it for the payroll relief that would come with moving the contract.

With the Orioles 12th out of 14 AL teams in attendance - let's face it - dumping payroll should be a priority for incoming Chief Operating Officer Andy McPhail.

Jay Payton was the other hired bat brought in this offseason. Payton was "only" signed for 2-years and $9.5 million but for that money he should have better than 1 HR and a measly OPS of .695.

Perlozzo didn't sign either of these guys but he paid the price for having to give them a combined 429 at bats this season. Is it any wonder that the Orioles didn't score any runs?

Just to emphasize the bad luck the Orioles are having - Baltimore also made a mistake in signing Danys Baez to a 3-year $19 million contract but on the first day Baez was eligible to be traded he instead landed on the 15-day DL with tendinitis in his pitching forearm.

The Orioles need to burn down this team and start from scratch. This means trading Huff, Payton and Baez if humanly possile. It also means finding Miguel Tejada a new home so that the Orioles can better use the $26 million due him (plus what's left from the $12 million due him in 2007). More importantly - trading Tejada allows McPhail to put a new "face" to the organization. McPhail should also jettison Mike Flanagan and Jim Duquette as soon as possible. The Orioles roster is a mess and there isn't much in the farm system either. That responsibility falls squarely on Flanagan's shoulders and he shouldn't be allowed to further screw up the organization.

Baltimore needs to pare down the payroll to about $50 million and then rebuild from there.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Triumph at the Tony's

This was really funny (there was even an Abe Vigoda sighting).

HT Steve Silver
Baseball Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous baseball thoughts and observations.

Manny Ramirez needs just one more RBI to tie Mo Vaughn for 8th place on the all-time Red Sox RBI list with 752. By the end of the season Manny should pass Rico Petrocelli (773 RBI) and Jimmy Foxx (788 RBI) to move into 6th place on the all-time list. That's about as high as he'll get though because I think Bobby Doerr's mark of 1247 in 5th place may be too far out of reach... Win shares are normally a pretty good predictor for the MVP races but I find it interesting that despite his huge numbers - Alex Rodriguez is only tied for 4th in win shares in the AL (as of 6/15/07). Vlade Guerrero is first with 17 WS, Magglio Ordonez is tied for second with Orlando Cabrera with 16 and Ichiro, Victor Martinez and A-Rod are tied for fourth with 15 each... I have to laugh about all of the recent Barry Bonds trade talk on ESPN. Its especially funny because they normally don't even bother to mention that Barry has the right to veto any trade (because he's a 10-year veteran with the last 5 with the same team). You would think this was a salient fact to mention... The Red Sox released JC Romero. I'm surprised at this because you would think that a reliever with a 3.15 ERA would have some trade value - even if it was just for a player to be named later... For those who think that Curt Schilling has lost a step it is interesting to note that his career ERA is 3.45 while his ERA this season is 3.80 - just a shade below his career average. Schilling is again on pace to pitch over 200 innings this season. If Schilling wins in his start tonight against the Braves he will tie Rick Rueschel for 83rd place on the all-time wins list with 214...
Harry Reid is Grima Wormtongue

The comparison between Harry Reid and Grima Wormtongue from The Lord of the Rings has been circling in my brain for several days. The more I think of it - the more I think that the comparison is fitting.

It was not just Reid calling Generals Pace and Petraeus incompetent - it was the way it was done. I'm sure Harry Reid never expected his comments to see the light of day. He was trying to pour syrupy words into the ears of a far left audience. He was telling them what he thought they wanted to hear to lull them into being on Reid's side. Who knows what other craven words Reid has spoken to the darkness of partisan audiences in the bitter watches of the night?

Harry Reid calling General Pace incompetent is not much different than Grima Wormtongue trying to blame bad news on Gandalf. I wouldn't have been surprised if Reid had a slip of the tongue and called him General Lathspell instead of General Pace. Ill news can be an ill guest but you cannot blame the messenger for the message and you cannot ignore the truth as Reid is on record of doing (he said he wouldn't even listen to what General Petraeus had to say because he was already decided in his mind).

Grima Wormtongue was supposedly an advisor to King Theoden of Rohan but in instead he was working on behalf of Saruman. Really what Wormtongue was doing was working at feathering his own bed. Harry Reid is supposed to be public servant but other than Congressman William Jefferson no public official is seemingly more adept at making personal financial gains from what is supposed to be public service.

Google Harry Reid and "Las Vegas land deal" or Harry Reid and "condo gifts" or Harry Reid and "Laughlin bridge deal" to get a sampling of how Reid has enriched himself at the public's expense. And these are just a few of the deals that have seen the light of day.

When King Theoden was finally awoken to the realization of what Wormtongue was up to he said, "Your leechcraft would have had me crawling on all fours like a beast!" If the country was to follow the callow advice of Harry Reid how long before the country would be crawling in defeat and despair?

I can't believe this guy has become the face of the Democratic Party.

Saturday, June 16, 2007


Today marks the secular holiday known as Bloomsday. To celebrate the day - I will A: go out and drink as much Guinness as possible and B: I will once again try to tackle James Joyce's masterpiece Ulysses.

Wish me luck on both endevours.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

For the most part - I only like trade rumors when I'm the one who starts them. This one has Mike Lowell involved in a three-way trade. It'll will never happen - too many holes. My guess is that not only isn't Mike Lowell traded - I'm guessing the Red Sox sign him to an extension (one year deal with an option). When you look at who is available in the farm system or via free agency then you understand why signing Lowell should be a priority for the Red Sox... It has to be said - but why wasn't Byron Houston charged with car jacking?... Its strange that the Red Sox win 10-2 over the Giants even though 8 of their 9 hits came from JD Drew (3 hits) batting first in the order and Dustin Pedroia (5 hits) batting second... Today is Phil Michelson's 37th birthday. I wonder if it being his birthday will affect his play at the US Open at all? Oh that's right - Lefty missed the cut... I just love this. I think its really funny... Today is also Calvin Schiraldi's 45th birthday. Two things I did not realize bout Schiraldi until looking at his page - 1. he came to the Red Sox from the Mets and I think that may help explain his performance in the 1986 World Series and 2. he only made $1.2 million in his entire career. Its hard to hold a grudge against a guy who made 4 times less in his career than what Joel Pineiro will make this year... Is it just me or does this tennis player look like he's enjoying his "icing down" just a little too much?...
Top 5 - Movie Theme Music

I caught the end of the Michael Mann movie - The Last of the Mohicans. More than anything else - I enjoy that movie because the theme music is just great. I hear that music and I feel like going out to jog five miles.

With that in mind - here are my choices for the best movie theme music of all-time.

1. The Godfather
2. The Exorcist
3. Patton
4. Jaws
5. (tie) The Last of the Mohicans (tie) Rocky

Honorable mention to The Sting.

Other movies have had some great songs but when you hear these instumentals - your brain automatically thinks of the movie.
Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

Interesting turn in the BALCO case. Troy Ellerman, the attorney who leaked the BALCO grand jury testimony, had a plea bargain that would have seen him serve 15-24 months in jail thrown out by the judge who wants a harsher punishment for Ellerman. Even the plea bargain would have seen Ellerman spend more time in jail than all of the BALCO defendants combined... The Red Sox lead in the AL East has been cut to "just" 7.5 games over the red-hot Yankees. With all the concern over how hot the Yankees are and how cold the Red Sox bats have been - it is easy to lose track of the facts that the Red Sox still have the best record in all of baseball and that the 7.5 game lead is the largest advantage in any of the divisions.... This is a disturbing story. What was it about that intersection that got Houston so aroused? This happened around rush hour. I hope that there were no playgrounds or schools in the area. Oklahoma State must be really proud of their all-time leading scorer... My wife loves camping (me not so much). She actually keeps an empty egg carton on top of the dryer and she stuffs the lint from the dryer into the egg spaces. She does this because the "eggs" of lint make excellent fire-starters to get the kindling going on a camp fire... Bill Mueller has been named interim hitting coach for the Dodgers - taking over for the fired Eddie Murray. I'm not the greatest writer by any stretch but I had to chuckle at this sentence from the story. "Mueller said the first thing he wants to do is build an individual rapport with each player individually." Is that as opposed to building an individual rapport with each player as a group?... At one time Jeremy Reed was supposed to be the next great thing in CF for the Mariners. The same was true of Brian Anderson for the White Sox. Both were pretty much busts but at 25-years old each - it is too early to give up on either player. Maybe the Mariners and White Sox should just swap Reed for Anderson and hope tha a change of scenery is all these two young players need...

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

Bob Ryan has posted sporadically (to be kind) on his new blog but I must say that I think his blog posts are actually better and more interesting than his columns for the Boston Globe (and that is saying something). Maybe it is because Ryan writes about what he wants to write about on his blog while he writes what he's assigned to write for the Globe (I know he has leeway at the Globe but he still has assignments). His latest post on the funeral of David Halberstam is very moving (and interesting)... Manny Ramirez is now tied with Fred McGriff for 37th place all-time on the RBI list with 1,550. Manny needs 15 more HR to catch the Crime Dog in home runs. McGriff has 493 career dingers which ties him for 22nd on the all-time list with Lou Gehrig. I think McGriff is under appreciated. Next up on the RBI list for Manny is Willie McCovey who has 1,555 RBI... Tiger Woods is an 11/4 favorite to win the US Open this weekend. Phil Michelson is his closest opponent according to the odds. Michelson is listed at 10-1 and Jim Furyk is at 14-1. You can find the full odds here... Adam Dunn is on pace for 38 HR but also 220 strikeouts. Are the 38 HR really worth the cost of the 220 SO? lists his nickname as "the Big Donkey" - is that really true? That seems a bit harsh. lists the most similar hitter to Dunn as Ron Kittle but Adam Dunn doesn't even show up in Kittle's most similar batters (Steve Balboni is his most similar batter). I find that odd...
Top 5 - Biggest Fantasy Baseball Disappointments - Hitters

Today I'll take a look at who I see as the 5 biggest disappointments, as far as hitters are concerned, in fantasy baseball so far this season.

1. Lance Berkman - I thought he'd be an NL MVP candidate instead he has a .764 OPS. He was the first pick for many fantasy teams. He's the baseball equivalent to Daunte Culpepper right now.

2. Vernon Wells - just 5 HR and a lousy .691 OPS - did the new contract make him complacent?

3. Garrett Atkins - last year he hit .329 with 29 HR - this year he's hitting .234 with 4 HR

4. Rocco Baldelli - this was supposed to be a big comeback year - not the year of suck

5. Robinson Cano - still time for him to bounce back but he was supposed to be competing for a batting title not hitting .274

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

Maybe nobody was happier with the ending to The Sopranos than the guys from Journey whose song Don't Stop Believing was used to end the series. Interesting point from the story about how the last scene of the show may echo the last verse of the song: "Some will win, some will lose. Some were born to sing the blues. Oh, the movie never ends. It goes on and on and on and on ..." (HT Steve Silver)... The top 2 ERA's for starters in the AL both belong to members of the Oakland A's (Dan Haren at 1.58 and Chad Gaudin at 2.43). In fact the A's have 4 starters in the top 20 for ERA and they also have Rich Harden coming off the DL soon. This is the time of year that Billy Beane usually makes a move to put his team in the hunt for the playoffs. Right now they need a big bat for the line-up and the A's have the chips to deal to make that happen. Don't count the A's out of anything. They are 8-2 in their last 10 games and while Yankee fans are celebrating making it to .500 - the A's are already 5 games over .500 at 34-29 (which puts them 3 games back in the AL Wildcard race)... I think the real reason that the end of the Sopranos faded to black in the finale is because Tony held up a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammad and HBO had to edit it out... Todd Helton was the 8th pick in the 1995 MLB draft. Darin Erstad went first to the Angels. The Red Sox picked pitcher Andy Yount with the 15th pick while Roy Halladay went two picks later to the Blue Jays. I bet the Red Sox wish they could have a do-over on that Andy Yount pick...
An Unbelieveable Story?

Bill Clinton and Shaq using the same Las Vegas prostitution ring? Man this story is almost too funny to be true.

There I was - reading my man Dr. Pauly for my WSOP updates when he drops this nugget:
And how about the three hookers getting busted at the Rio? They were a part of a bigger prostitution ring involving a cheerleading coach who moonlights as a Madame. She ran a high end hooker business that allegedly serviced high profile clients such as Bill Clinton and Shaq. I always knew Slick Willy liked high end pussy. The ladies for hire cost at least $10,000 and they only got a meager 15% cut. It pays to be a pimp.
My first thought was that Pauly has to be careful saying things like that. I mean bloggers like Neate Sager are getting sued for libel. Then I saw in the comments that the story about Clinton and the hookers was supposedly on Drudge. I checked Drudge but my search didn't come up with the story (it did unearth a great headline though - "BILL CLINTON COMES OUT TO CELEBRATE ELTON'S 60TH"). I did a Google search and found that the story was legit. Some points I'd like to make:

- The "Madame" who was arrested had a first name of Esperanza. I know that means "hope" in Spanish but I just found it amusing to see it as a first name. But it turns out that her first name is the least bizarre thing about the story.

- Supposedly Madame Brooks had never done anything like this before and she was only doing it because her husband was having trouble selling cars. Am I the only one who finds that claim really hysterical? "Sorry honey I didn't make my quota this month so you are going to have to go out and pimp out some of your cheerleaders."

- Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy?

- On one hand Madame Esperanza Brooks had never done anything like this but on the other hand she claims to have a stable of 40 girls and high end clients like Bill Clinton and Shaq. Maybe it was just beginners luck snagging some big name clients the first time out of the box?

- I actually find the claim that Shaq used a prostitution service more unbelievable than the claim that Bill Clinton did. Personally - I'm giving both Clinton and Shaq the benefit of the doubt. I wouldn't be shocked in the least if was true but I think we all have to take the word of a pimp named Esperanza who is married to a car salesman with more than a grain of salt.
Cinderella Man

On this date in 1935 - James J. Braddock bucked long odds to capture the world heavyweight championship by beating Max Baer. Braddock was nicknamed "The Cinderella Man" by writing legend Damon Runyon and was the subject of a very much under-rated 2005 movie of the same name starring Russell Crowe.

The movie gets a big thumbs up from me and if you haven't seen it - you should.

Would It Kill Them to Mention My Name?

Suzanne Smalley of the Boston Globe had an interesting story yesterday on Jonathan Papelbon and Billy Dunn, the Boston cop who has become Papelbon's good luck charm. The story included this papragraph:
Red Sox Nation likes to speculate about the workaday guy who has become a big-league good luck charm. "Papelbon giving that cop a high-five on his way out of the bullpen is one of my favorite things in baseball," one Sox blogger recently mused. "That cop must be a god to his friends and family."
That one Sox blogger has a name and his name is Chris Lynch. That quote comes from a April 22nd post. I guess its nice to know that people at the Globe are reading blogs and its flattering that mine is one of them that is being read.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The State of the Red Sox

We are almost through with 40% of the season and I figured this was as good a time as any to take a long look at the state of the Boston Red Sox. In this first installment- I'll take a look at the offense.

Going into tonight's game the Red Sox are 40-22 and are not only 9.5 games up in the AL East they also have the best record in baseball. The Red Sox have to be feeling pretty good about themselves but there are areas of concern.

As a team on offense the Red Sox are fifth in the AL - averaging 5.21 runs per game. That puts them behind Detroit (6.03), the Yankees (5.61), Cleveland (5.55) and Seattle (5.27). They are not hitting a ton of home runs (they are 7th in the AL in HR) but are top 5 in doubles, triples (surprisingly), batting average, total bases, OBP and slugging percentage. Not bad really.

There are a couple of guys hitting above what you'd consider to be their level - Mike Lowell and Kevin Youkilis. I've long thought that Youkilis could be a 20 HR guy and even though I consider Youk to be a .300 hitter - you still have to think his batting average will come down from its current .338. Mike Lowell is on pace for career highs in batting average, OBP and slugging percentage. I just don't think Lowell's level of production in the second half will come close to matching his first half production.

If these two guys drop in production - who can step up and take their slack in the second half?

Are the Red Sox actually lucky that their two big MLB free agents they signed in the offseason have been under-performing in the first 40% of 2007? Both JD Drew and Julio Lugo have been disappointing. Drew is down 40 points from both his career batting average and OBP while his slugging percentage is down a whopping 140 points. Prior to coming to Boston Drew averaged a HR once every 19.5 at bats. This season Drew has averaged one HR every 44 at bats - more than double his career rate.

Julio Lugo was supposed to be penciled in for 2007 as the lead-off guy but tonight he was dropped down to 9th in the batting order. This was a move that was perhaps long overdue. It took a 3-4 road trip to convince Terry Francona that having a guy hitting .213 with a .274 OBP maybe wasn't a good idea. I'm hoping that the drop in the order maybe takes some pressure off Lugo and that allows him to get back closer to his career .272 average.

There's two additional points I'd like to make about Lugo. First - I blame Theo Epstein for the fact that Lugo was the leadoff guy in the first place. Lugo was signed with the idea by the front office that he'd be the leadoff guy for 2007 and beyond. What made them think that a guy with a career .335 OBP was the ideal leadoff guy in the first place? I credit Francona for making a the obvious move by taking Lugo out of the #1 slot in the order. Secondly - let me say that Lugo has always impressed me as a "clutch" player. The bigger the batting situation - the bigger Lugo seems to come up. I guess that was his biggest attraction. This year Lugo is hitting .283 with RISP and .333 with RISP with 2 outs. Even though he was batting leadoff for most of the season - Lugo is on pace to break his career high for RBI (Lugo's career high is 75 and he's on pace for 88).

The Red Sox have two players doing pretty much what you'd expect as far as offense is concerned. Jason Varitek is right at his career averages for batting, OBP and slugging. Meanwhile, the player John Kerry likes to call Manny Ortiz is also about where you'd expect. Of course there is no such player but if you combine the numbers of the Red Sox two-headed 3-4 punch (David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez) - the duo is right where you'd expect. Sure the HR numbers are down but the rest of the numbers combined are fairly close to what you'd expect. Ortiz's numbers are above his career averages and Manny's are below his. They are sure to level out to their career levels. As far as HR are concerned - I'm sure when the temperatures heat up in July and August that the HR's will come in bunches.

That leaves two players who really nobody knew what to expect - Coco Crisp and Dustin Pedroia. Crisp is hitting 50 points below his career average and has a slugging percentage that only a pitcher would be proud of. Dustin Pedroia has been a very pleasant surprise and I would have to say that he's in a very good position to win the AL Rookie of the Year.

Overall - I expect the Red Sox will be fairly constant for the rest of the year with some of the slack from players who were over-performing and dropped off made up by players who so far have been under performing. The one big danger to the Red Sox offence is if either David Ortiz or Manny Ramirez gets hurt for an extended period of time. If that does happen before the trade-deadline it may force the Red Sox to trade away some of their top prospects.
The Sopranos Wrapped Up in a Neat Little Bow

I watched the finale of the Sopranos again last night and I don't have a problem with the way David Chase chose to end his series. As another New Jersey guy is fond of saying, "It is what it is."

However, I understand that many fans of the show are disappointed and that they wanted closure. As a public service I will help these people out by explaining what happened to the major characters after the end of the show. Utilizing a device that worked just fine in American Graffiti, Animal House and Stripes - just picture that instead of fading to black that pictures of the major characters appeared on the screen with explanations of what they did later in life while Dust in the Wind by Kansas played as the backdrop music.

Pauly Walnuts lived to a ripe old age and continued for many years as a Capo and top earner in the family. Pauly even overcame his fear of cats and as a lonely old man used to keep over a dozen in his apartment. Pauly had few visitors as he aged. Some did not visit because of the cat smell. Others did not visit because he still kept several guns about him at all times.

Dr. Melfi quit her practice because of, in her words, "ungrateful patients." She moved to Santa Fe and opened a bed and breakfast. People in town have no trouble with her being Italian although the fact that she is from New Yawk City bothers some. Many people in town assume she is a lesbian because she never remarried. Dr. Melfi tries her best not to pass judgement on any of the guests that stay at her bed and breakfast.

Silvio partially recovered from his gunshot wounds. He fully recovered his mental faculties but was left wheelchair bound as a paraplegic. The Bada Bing was made completely wheelchair accessible to help him continue to do his job. For one three-year period Silvio became a Born Again Christian. Many of his friends and colleagues started calling him "Larry Flynt" behind his back.

Janice did not remain a widow for long. She married a wealthy land developer who lived in her neighborhood. The land developer died under mysterious circumstances and Janice was his sole heir. Janice today lives in Key West with a man half her age.

AJ Soprano today manages a Best Buy store in Northern NJ. He got the job via family connections. AJ never married although he was engaged several times. It seems he just couldn't make a big commitment to anything. AJ still lives at home although he has threatened to move out several times a year.

Meadow Soprano has been very successful in her law practice and currently sits on the New Jersey Supreme Court. In her personal life, however, Meadow has been divorced three times. Her therapist says she has "father figure" issues.

Carmela Soprano has continued to try and be the best mother possible while at the same time she has tried to be a supportive figure to her husband Tony. Over time Carmela's biggest disappointment has changed from how Tony makes his money and the sins he's committed to the fact that Carmela never had a third child. In fact the more trouble her two children face in their adult life - the more Carmela regrets not having a third child.

Tony Soprano survived for several more years. His health deteriorated due to his great weight, the constant stress he lived under and a growing addiction to black market Viagra. Tony suffered both a small heart attack and a small stroke but the end came for him when he drown in his backyard pool. Tony was in the pool feeding a family of ducks bread but became angry when one of the ducks crapped in the pool. Tony splashed water at the ducks who then flew off. Tony had a panic attack and drown because he thought he had driven off the ducks for good.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Cholesterol - the Silent Killer

Hey I figured it out. It was the onion rings!

Early in the show Tony commented about how he hadn't had any vegetables in over a week. His diet on the run coupled with the stress he was under mean that he probably had a massive heart attack and "blacked out" or died there at the end. That's what the fade to black was and it was that final deep fried onion ring that he ate in one bite that put him over the top.

Hey - I'm just kidding but my explanation sounds rational compared to some of the theories making the rounds on the Internets.
Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

"Teacher says that every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings." Did Zuzu from It's a Wonderful Life write the ending to the finale of the Sopranos? Did my cable go out for a few seconds and I missed the ending? Did David Chase film several endings but then forget to splice in the one he wanted to use? I think the only finale to a long running show that actually worked well was the ending to the second Newhart show where Bob ends up in bed with Suzanne Pleshette and the whole bed and breakfast thing in Vermont was a dream... This is a funny commercial that will never be aired on TV... When I was growing up men's tennis was a big deal. Now its unwatchable. A big serve and maybe one volley if you are lucky. That's just plain boring. It used to be you'd have a volley that went back and forth several times. The equipment is probably as much to blame as anything. I wonder if tennis went back to wood rackets if the excitement could return? As far as the women are concerned - Justine Henin just won her third straight French Open and when I saw highlights I realized that I had never heard of Justine Henin before (and I consider myself a sports fan)... Apropo of the Sopranos ending last night - today is Tony Suck's birthday...

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Top 5 - AL Players Who Deserve to be an All-Star but will be Left Off Team

The starters are voted in by the fans and the remainder of the players are picked by the manager of last year's World Series team - Jim Leyland of the Tigers - with the heavy-handed assistance from MLB (so that managers can't stuff the team with members of his own club ala Joe Torre back when the Yankees used to go to the World Series).

The fact that the fans will vote in some undeserving players and the rules state that each team must have at least one representative means that a number of deserving players will be left off the roster for the All-Star game. Here are who I foresee being the best players to be stiffed this year.

1. Grady Sizemore - Indians - he has fewer runs, HR and RBI than Gary Sheffield but Sizemore's defence puts him on another plane. Is it possible that the rule that each club has to have a representative could keep Sizemore from making the team? Outfielders Alex Rios of Toronto and Mark Teahen of Kansas City could be their teams' sole representatives. Sizemore may be hoping that Manny Ramirez announces that he has a "tight hamstring" and skips the game.

2. Gary Sheffield - Tigers - 16 HR and 41 RBI for Leyland's Tigers but at first David Ortiz will get voted in by the fans, Leyland will probably have to take Travis Hafner from the Indians, reigning MVP Justin Morneau from the Twins and Mark Teixeira will probably be the Rangers sole representative. It will be tough for Leyland to carry more than 4 firstbasemen. And the outfield spots are just as tough to crack.

3. Carl Crawford - Devil Rays - .310 BA and 17 steals - having BJ Upton make the team at 2nd hurts Crawford's chances because Upton would be the Devil Rays representative. Meanwhile, Alex Rios and Mark Teahen could take up the remaining outfield slots as the sole representatives of their teams. Factor in the great season starter James Shields is having for the Devil Rays and it becomes harder to imagine the roster having 3 players from Tampa Bay. This spells S-N-U-B for Crawford.

4. Kevin Youkilis - Red Sox - he's hitting .338 and has yet to have an error at firstbase this season but there is a roster logjam at first and that could cost Youkilis a spot. However, Youkilis could be added to the roster to play third because the AL really only has A-Rod and Mike Lowell as deserving at that position although Mark Teahen of the Royals could be their sole representative and fill the same role.

5. (tie) Jason Varitek - Red Sox - his numbers are almost exactly equal to projected starter Ivan Rodriguez but Jorge Posada of the Yankees is having a career year and Victor Martinez is having the best season of any AL catchers. It is likely that only 3 catchers will be carried on the roster and that leaves Red Sox captain Varitek (and Seattle's Kenjii Johjima) out in the cold (tie) Kenjii Johjima - Mariners - his .328 batting average pales compared to Jorge Posada's .358 and his power numbers pale in comparison to Victor Martinez's 12 HR and 54 RBI but he's still deserving.

Here's how I see the roster shaking out (starters in bold):

C - Ivan Rodriguez, Victor Martinez, Jorge Posada
1st - David Ortiz, Travis Hafner, Justin Morneau, Mark Teixeira
2nd - Robinson Cano, Brian Roberts, BJ Upton
3rd - Alex Rodriguez, Mike Lowell
SS - Derek Jeter, Orlando Cabrera, Jhonny Peralta
OF - Vlad Guerrero, Manny Ramirez, Ichiro Suzuki, Torii Hunter, Magglio Ordonez, Alex Rios, Mark Teahen

That's 14 reserve players (which is kinda a high number - which reinforces the chances of these players being subbed). I'm not sure if MLB is having that "last player" promotion again this year but that would be the 15th reserve player. Teahen would probably be the sole representative from the Royals and he's attractive because he could actually be used at 3rd base instead of the outfield. It is very possible that the A's (Dan Haren) and White Sox (closer Bobby Jenks or starter Jon Garland) have a pitcher as their sole representative.
Balls of Fury

This could be the sleeper comedy hit of the fall.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Squirrel Catapult

This was funny.

I'm guessing that beer was involved in the planning of this.
Baseball Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous baseball thoughts and observations.

Roger Clemens makes his first start for the Yankees today against the Pirates in Pittsburgh. I'm thinking Roger will be lucky to make it to the 5th inning... Willy Taveras is an example of how you have to look a bit deeper into the numbers. In the "old" days you would see a guy hitting .324 with 13 stolen bases and automatically think the guy is having a very good year. However, when you look closer at the numbers you see that Taveras only has an OBP of .378 despite the high batting average. That OBP sounds high but its not even in the top 3 on his own team. The 13 stolen bases seem a lot but consider he's been caught stealing 8 times. Then throw in the fact that his slugging percentage (.376) is less than his OBP and now that .324 batting average doesn't look as good as you might think... Don't get me wrong though - this could be a career year for Taveras but as the guy who sponsors his page puts it "Infield single anyone?"... Kevin Hench has a column up at Fox Sports where he wonders why nobody asks Roger Clemens about steroids. I give Hench points for asking about the elephant in the middle of the room but I have to take away points because he never even mentions Jason Grimsley (who has supposedly named Roger Clemens as a steroids user)... Maybe the most amazing thing about yesterday's game between the Rockies and the Orioles is the fact that a game started by Steve Traschel went less than 3 hours (2:48)... Tonight will be an interesting game in San Diego which features David Wells against Jeff Weaver. If Wells wins - then he moves into a tie with Tommy Bond for 59th place all-time with 234 wins (just 2 behind Yankee lefty legend Whitey Ford). Weaver meanwhile has been awful this season - sporting a 0-6 record with a 14.32 ERA. Everyone was saying that Weaver should have stayed in the NL with St. Louis where he seemed comfortable. This game can give us a window to see if its the AL that's the problem or if Weaver just sucks (I'm guessing that Weaver just sucks). Just saying but Weaver is 0-6 and the Mariners are just 5.5 games behind the Angels in the AL West. The Mariners are also just 1.5 games back in the AL Wildcard race. If they had just an average pitcher taking Weaver's starts they probably would be leading the Wildcard race. Just saying...