Friday, November 30, 2007

Vote for Clinton 'Cause She's a Woman or Vote Obama "Cause He's Black?

For black women at Spelman College there seems to be a dilemma.

You would think that the answer would be plain as day - vote for Condolezza Rice.
Mets - Nationals Trade

The Mets traded Lastings Milledge to the Nationals for catcher Brian Schneider and outfielder Ryan Church. What to think?

Milledge was supposed to be an untouchable player - I guess not. At one point it was rumored a couple of years ago that Milledge was going to be traded to the Red Sox straight-up for Manny Ramirez. Thank God that never happened. Don't get me wrong - Milledge will just be 23 next season and he's shown significant improvement in his time in the big leagues. He easily could be a 20-HR, .300 batting average guy next season.

In return the Mets get Brian Schneider who I guess you could categorize as Jason Varitek-lite or as Brad Ausmus's brother from another mother. They also get 29-year old Ryan Church who I think is a good player but not good enough to trade one of your top trade chips to acquire.

I don't know what Omar Minaya was thinking. His big need is starting pitching and he just gave away one of his biggest chips for the equivalent of Jose Molina and Corey Patterson - both of whom are free agents and wouldn't have cost the Mets Lastings Milledge to acquire. I think Omar Minaya is a bad general manager. How bad? He just got fleeced by Jim Bowden.
Patriots' First Round Draft Pick

As I've mentioned before - I'm rooting against the San Francisco 49ers this year because the Patriots own their first round draft pick. It looks like that pick will be a top 5 pick and my thinking prior was that the Patriots would trade that pick for 2 picks further down in the first round.

After reading this reminder from Chad Finn of past Patriots history - now I'm not so sure the Pats will be trading that pick. I'm confident, however, in whatever Scott Pioli and Bill Belichick will do with that pick.
Badass Bible Verses

This is very funny. It's been out there for a while and I think FARK linked to to some time back.

HT Steve Silver

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Twins - (Devil) Rays Trade

Nobody breaks down the Twins like Aaron Gleeman. He looks at the 6-player trade that was centered around pitcher Matt Garza going to the Rays for Delmon Young. Gleeman sees this as a long-term win (and maybe even short-term) for Tampa Bay and I agree. My first reaction to the trade was to wonder when Jim Bowden became GM for the Twins because this is the sort of the trade he'd make. After thinking about it for a while I have to wonder who the Twins will use as starting pitchers next year. I also think Tampa Bay is quietly putting together a pretty good young team. The Rays will have as good a front three in their rotation as anyone in baseball with Scott Kazmir, Jamie Shields and now Matt Garza.
What are the Odds on the Mitchell Report Naming Names?

Angels owner Artie Moreno says its 100% that names will be included in the upcoming Mitchell Report dealing with steroids in baseball. What I want to know are what are the odds on different players being named. Some enterprising sports book should have prop bets on this. Jose Guillen would be off the board because he supposedly has already been identified as a player who will be named. Can I put some money on say Miguel Tejada at 2-1 odds that he'll be named? It's a safe bet that if there was a list with such a prop bet that Barry Bonds' name would be off the board as well. I'd be willing to put some money down on Roger Clemens at 2-1 too.
Packers vs Cowboys and One of the Biggest Political Issues of the 2008 Election

Tonight the Packers will play the Cowboys in one of the biggest games of the year in the NFL but it won't have close to the TV audience you would expect for a game of this magnitude. That is because the game will be on the NFL Network and not many cable operating companies offer the NFL Network to their customer bases. The dispute between the cable companies and the NFL basically comes down to the NFL wanting their network to be part of the basic cable package while the cable companies insisting that the NFL Network be a "pay" channel or part of a premium sports package.

I want to watch this game tonight but I cannot because my cable company does not offer the NFL Network. I am not alone. I want to watch this game and would love to have the NFL Network as a choice among my cable channels. I am not alone. I have four shopping channels, three Spanish language channels, and dozens of other channels that I do not want but am forced to subsidize as part of my basic cable TV package. I am not alone. I am not happy about this situation and once again I am not alone.

In fact I bet if you asked anyone whether they would prefer to pay only for the cable TV channels they want to watch and not be forced to subsidize packages of channels that could not survive on their own - better than 90% of people would opt for the "ala carte" version of picking individual channels. That better than 90% would be across political party lines - both Democrats, Republicans and Independents. This is an issue that everyone could agree on but politicians are not jumping on because (I guess) they do not want to alienate the cable TV special interest groups (and the money they donate to campaigns).

If you can order a movie on demand and have VCR-type controls (pause, rewind, fast forward) while watching that movie - then your cable company has the technology already in place to offer ala carte cable choice. To me this is such a no-brainer political issue that I am amazed that no major candidate has taken up the banner to lead the charge for cable choice. It would be an immensely popular position.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Top 5 - Christmas Songs by Rock Stars

I'm already partly sick of Christmas music. Anyway - here are the top 5 Christmas songs by rocks stars in my estimation.

1. Santa Claus is Coming to Town - Bruce Springsteen
2. Do They Know It's Christmas - Band Aid
3. Father Christmas - The Kinks
4. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen - Bare Naked Ladies
5. Little Drummer Boy - Bing Crosby and David Bowie

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Team of Free Agents

Just for the heck of it - I was thinking about if I were to create a team made up of still available free agents. Here's what I came up with:

C - Paul Lo Duca
1st - Brad Wilkerson
2nd - Kaz Matsui
SS - David Eckstein
3rd - Mike Lamb
LF - Geoff Jenkins
CF - Aaron Rowand
RF - Kosuke Fukudome
DH - Cliff Floyd

P - Hiroki Kuroda
P - Randy Wolf
P - Freddy Garcia
P - Matt Clement
P - Carlos Silva
CL - Eric Gagne

Call me crazy but I think this team could compete for a playoff spot and come in under $100 million in salary. I left off some players like Andy Pettitte because I don't think he's really a free agent (either Houston, Yankees or retire) and Andruw Jones (not worth the money). I went with some players I'd rather not (Paul Lo Duca and Eric Gagne) because there really wasn't any better options.

I think the lineup would provide pretty decent defense and some pop at the plate. Some of the pitchers are risks because of past injuries (like Wolf and Clement) but I think the potential reward would be worth the risk.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Stream of Consciousness

It was a long weekend and I'm still "recovering". I drank many beers and bet on many games (at one point I hit seven straight games) plus I played lots of cards. Obviously I haven't had any time to post here but I figured I'd just toss out a bunch of miscellaneous thoughts.

- The NCAA BCS championship game is shaping up to be Missouri vs. West Virginia. I've been on the Missouri bandwagon from the first game of the season but to me the real story here is the almost certainty that a team from the Big East is in a great position to win the National Championship. When Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College bolted the Big East for the ACC there was talk that the Big East was done as a football conference and some people were writing that the Big East's automatic BCS bowl bid to the league champion should be taken away. For the Mountaineers to be in a position to come away with the National Championship is a great story as far as I'm concerned.

- The college football polls are a mess. Can anyone explain to me how Virginia Tech can be ranked ahead of both Boston College and LSU when those two teams both beat Virginia Tech? The polls are a joke.

- I'm rooting for San Francisco to lose the rest of their games. How great is it that the Patriots own the 49er's first round pick? The Pats could be looking at getting a Darren McFadden or a Chris Long or they could trade the pick for two picks further down in the first round and wind up with a Mike Hart and a top offensive lineman.

- I am so sick of people saying that the Eagles gave the rest of the league "the blueprint" for how to beat the Patriots. Yeah sure - all you have to do is "hold" the Patriots to 31 points and have your QB throw for well over 300 yards without throwing any interceptions. Yeah sure - that's a blueprint all right.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Bo Diaz

17 years ago today MLB catcher Bo Diaz died.
On November 23, 1990, Diaz was killed when a satellite dish that he was adjusting on the roof of his home in Caracas, Venezuela fell on him. He was 37 years old.
I think enough time has passed to the point where I can rename one of my fantasy football teams "Bo Diaz TV Repair Shop" without feeling bad about it.
Fun Videos

Some fun videos to help pass your morning

- Rehab center for fictional characters

- Green Team (I have a murder boner!)

- The song of the Count (funny how bleeps can make you think dirty thoughts)

HT Sports Frog
Torii Hunter and the Centerfield Market

Torii Hunter was signed to a 5-year $90 million contract yesterday that has sent shock waves through the market for centerfielders.
The Angels had agreed to a $50 million, five-year deal with [Gary] Matthews last November, so Hunter was surprised they were even interested in him.

"They shocked me. I didn't think they needed a center fielder," Hunter said. "They shocked the world."
The Hunter signing has a number of implications and ramifications.

First - this signing will make Aaron Rowand a very rich man. There are a number of GM's out there who have cash on hand and who need to make a splash in the offseason to justify their job to the fans. I would look for Rowand to get some "Hunter-like" offers from the White Sox, Dodgers and Phillies.

Second - the team who misses out on Rowand may be forced into overpaying for Andruw Jones (who is surprisingly 3rd on the centerfielder wish list for most teams). I have to wonder if the Braves are nervous about offering Jones arbitration because it may become a Greg Maddux-like situation from a couple of years ago where they thought Maddux was leaving as a free agent but when he didn't get any big multi-year offers he ended up taking the arbitration from the Braves and breaking their piggy bank (forcing them to trade Kevin Millwod to the Phillies in a salary dump). It should be recalled that Scott Boras was Maddux's agent and is also Andruw Jones' agent. Boras must be praying that the Phillies or Dodgers sign Rowand because I have to think that Kenny Williams and the White Sox are Boras' big chance to get Jones a mega contract.

I don't think the Dodgers or Phillies will be players for Andruw Jones because he has historically done awful at Dodger Stadium (.735 OPS in 36 games) and at Citizen's Bank Park (.638 OPS in 35 games).

Third - once Rowand lands somewhere - teams that still need a centerfielder will be knocking on the Red Sox door to make a deal for Coco Crisp. Besides the teams mentioned above - you will also have the Rangers, Twins and a couple other teams. The Red Sox had to give up a top prospect (Andy Marte) to get Coco - so I'd look for them to get one back in return.

Forth - the Angels have been very active this offseason (acquiring Jon Garland and now signing Hunter) and I don't think they are done. Many people put them as the front-runners for Miguel Cabrera (or Miguel Tejada as a Plan B). The Angels activity already will send some teams into a tizzy - for instance I would not be surprised to see the Dodgers make a very big push on Aaron Rowand to get the back pages back from their metropolitan rivals the Angels. Also - with the "win it now" approach by the Angels many have speculated will put the A's into a rebuilding and trading mode. I don't see that happening. If the A's can keep Rich Harden, Dan Haren and Joe Blanton healthy then they can compete with anyone. The A's have a reasonable payroll and their key players are signed at reasonable terms. I don't see them being sellers.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope everyone has a happy and safe Thanksgiving. And speaking of Thanksgiving - here is my favorite Thanksgiving story - originally told by Gabe Kaplan of Welcome Back Kotter fame:
When Gabe was a kid – his older sister was embarrassed about becoming a young woman. She used to have the young Kaplan go into the drug store to buy her "sanitary napkins". Gabe was curious and asked his sister just what these things were.

“Oh, they’re special occasion napkins,” she would reply.

This explanation was enough for Kaplan and he didn’t give it another thought.

Then one Thanksgiving morning – young Gabe was left alone at home while his parents and older sister drove to the airport to pick up his uncle. Gabe was left with the job of setting the table for Thanksgiving. Then it occurred to him, “what could be more of a special occasion than Thanksgiving?”

Needless to say – his parents were confused, his sister was very embarrassed but his uncle couldn’t stop laughing when they came home and saw the creative way young Gabe had set the table for Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Barack Obama

Found this quiz over at Big Stupid Tommy's. Obama probably is my worst nightmare. I think of him as pretty much an empty suit.

Which 2008 candidate do you hate the most?

The candidate you like least is Democrat Barack Obama. He opposes the death penalty, wants universal healthcare -- this guy is your worst nightmare!

Take the quiz at

Jeff Passan

The Big Lead has an interesting interview up of Jeff Passan.

To get an idea of how good Passan can be as a writer - read this piece from 2006 on the death of Reds scout Brian Wilson.
Heh Heh

This is funny. If you don't laugh - you need to get your funny bone checked.

HT The Sports Frog
Six Degrees of Guillermo Mota Separation

The Mets traded Guillermo Mota to the Brewers for catcher Johnny Estrada. I think you have to file this one under - there's more here than meets the eye.

On the surface the Mets fill one of their biggest needs by trading for a starting catcher with some pop in his bat. And they gave up a reliever who to be blunt - sucked. What gives? Were the Brewers so anxious to be rid of Estrada that they would basically leave themselves without a starting catcher for next season? The Brewers are rumored to be interested in Paul Lo Duca who was the Mets starting receiver last season.

Mota will only cost the Brewers $3.2 million in 2008 - so they can take a risk that he'll be serviceable. Estrada will probably get $5 million in arbitration.

This is the sixth time Mota hs been sent to another team as part of a trade. Those deals involved 21 other players and went back and forth from the American to National Leagues. It's probably possible to connect any player in baseball today with just 3 degrees of separation to Guillermo Mota and if you go to 6 degrees - you can probably connect him to babe Ruth.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Who is Today's Bette Davis?

I learned today that Bette Davis went to Cushing Academy in Ashburnham, Mass. Now Bette Davis was before my time but that doesn't mean that I didn't grow up knowing who she was. She was a star. She could be caricatured in a Bugs Bunny cartoon and everyone would know who she was by the rings around the eyes and a vamping, "What a dump!" (I have no idea where that phase came from but I do remember it from the Bugs Bunny cartoons.)

I got to thinking about who would be today's equivalent to Bette Davis and I admit to coming up blank. Can you think of any female star today that you would recognize if the Simpsons or South Park parodied them? Any star today worthy of being remembered in a pop song like Kim Karnes' Bette Davis Eyes?

We don't have "stars" today - we have celebrities. People who would look good in makeup commercials but who just don't impress me as being too talented. Famous for being pretty.
Natalie Gulbis

Oh my God!
Top 5 - Literary Masterpieces I Can't Read

Today is Don DeLillo's birthday (he turned 71 today). His birthday is another reminder of how I've never been able to make it through his masterpiece Underworld. I've picked the book up several times but around page 100 I just lose interest. No matter how many people tell me how great the book is - I just can't finish it. There are a number of "great" books that fit this description. here are the top 5 masterpieces that I either can't finish or have no interest in starting.

1. James Joyce Ulysses - I seem to pick this book up every year and make it to about page 100
2. John Steinbeck The Grapes of Wrath (Centennial Edition) - I re-read Cannery Row every summer but can't get interested in the Grapes.
3. Somerset Maugham Of Human Bondage (Signet Classics) - I've read just about everything else by Maugham but I can't finish this book
4. Don DeLillo Underworld: A Novel
5. Norman Mailer The Executioner's Song
New York Yankees

Tim Brown has a column looking at the Yankees. I like Brown but this was just a bit more than pretentious preening on his part:
Indeed, assurance and vigor have gone the way of Mystique and Aura, capricious mistresses last seen on Curt Schilling's arm.
The Yankees situation can be broken down into two issues - - their position players are getting old (average age 32.1 years old) so staying healthy will be a big question and 2. their starting pitching is iffy at best. Chien-Ming Wang is their number 1 starter but he's iffy when not pitching at home (2.75 ERA at home and 4.91 ERA road ERA last year). Mike Mussina is the number 2 right now but he'll be 39 next year and its an old 39. Then you have the kids - Joba Chamberlain, Ian Kennedy and Phillip Hughes. I've said it before and I'll say it again - if the Yankees aren't able to convince Andy Pettitte to come back for another year - then they'll end up next season behind both the Red Sox and Blue Jays in the standings.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Heh Heh

Saw this at Sports Frog and I had to share it.
Baseball Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous baseball thoughts and observations.

It looks like Mike Lowell will be back with the Red Sox. The reported contract would be 3-years and $37.5 million. I'm glad that the Red Sox did not go that 4th year but if they had approached Lowell in spring training they probably could have had a 2-year $20 million deal. I think the Red Sox should learn from this experience and get Jason Varitek to sign a 1 or 2 year extension before his contract expires at the end of next season.... The White Sox sent Jon Garland to the Angels in exchange for Orlando Cabrera. I think this was a good move by the Angels. They get perhaps the best pitcher available from either the free agent or trade market (assuming Johan Santana or Dan Haren are not yet on the market). You would think that the White Sox could have gotten more for Garland... I'm glad that Tom Glavine is back with the Braves. He deserves to end his career with Atlanta. This is no sentimental move by the Braves though. Glavine can still eat up innings and will be the 3rd or 4th starter for the Braves. Last year he was forced to be the number 1 starter for the Mets and that as much as anything is what caused the late season FAIL in Flushing. The Mets are just about desperate for starting pitching.... It was no surprise that A-Rod won the AL MVP. I think that the NL award goes to Matt Holliday of the Rockies. David Wright could have won the award if the Mets didn't fall apart at the end of the season. Albert Pujols and Miguel Cabrera played for teams that did not make the post season and Jimmy Rollins may not have been the most valuable player on his won team. That leaves Holliday by process of elimination as the winner of the NL MVP award...
The Gettysburg Address

144 years ago today.
NFL Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous NFL thoughts and observations.

For those who are interested - the Reagan Theory of football betting (home teams getting 3 or less points) is now 9-14-2 on the season... The Cardinals and Bengals managed to score a combined 62 points but neither team managed to have a player with either 100 yards receiving or 100 yards rushing. I just found that unusual... The San Diego Chargers were 14-2 last year but this year are a pedestrian 5-5. The only thing that really changed from this season from last was the head coach being let go (and the coordinators leaving). The Chargers are just 1-4 on the road this season. I have to wonder if the team has trouble maintaining focus when not at home and I have to think that is a failure on the part of the coaching staff... For those who are interested - the Ted Baxter Theory of football betting (taking teams getting 10 or more points) is now 10-12-2 on the season... If Eric Mangini can game plan the Steelers into a 19-16 loss. How bad do you think the Steelers will do faced with a Bill Belichick game plan?... During his first 5 seasons - Peyton Manning averaged 20 INT's per season. Manning then had a 4-year stretch when he had 10 or fewer INT's. This year he has already has 11 picks. During his first 5 seasons Manning was sacked on average 21.6 times per year. Then he had a 4-year stretch where he was sacked on average 15.5 times per season. This year he's on pace to be sacked about 20 times. I think that we are seeing the regression and decline of Manning due to getting old. Its not an aberration. Manning is losing that magic touch...

Saturday, November 17, 2007

F-15's Still Grounded

The workhorse of protecting America's air space remains grounded. Popular Mechanics has an update on the situation and tosses this into the picture near the end of the article:
The 2008 defense bill passed last week by Congress designates $3.15 billion to purchase an additional 20 F-22 Raptor jets, , a successor to the F-15, from Lockheed Martin. Over the next several years, the Air Force wants to maintain or even step up spending on both Raptors and the F-35 Lightning II (aka the Joint Strike Fighter). But some in Congress have been pushing to limit Air Force spending in order to beef up ground forces. According to the online rumor mill, the well-publicized shutdown of F-15s is meant to provide the Air Force with some leverage when the bean counters come knocking.
I - for one - don't buy into this being a intra-service maneuver to gain the upper hand in any budget situation. I see this as an offshoot of having fighter jets in service that should have been rotated out for newer models years ago. The F-15's in service today (as I understand it) range in vintage from 1975 models to 2004 models. Those older models are the equivalent of asking the state police to make due on the highway with 1975 Fury III's.

My issue with the reporting of this situation has to do with what is omitted. If it was a car crash and not a plane crash being dealt with we would immediately be told the make, model and YEAR of the car involved. In all reported crashes and in particular in the November 2nd crash we are only told that the model was an F-15C which narrows it down. The F-15C came into the Air Force's inventory starting in 1979.

Now we hear from the Air Force that the newer F-15E's are about to be returned to service and that:
Although the F-15E models are newer, they only represent about one third of the Air Force's F-15s. The older majority of the F-15s are of more concern for Air Force officials.

"What we've got here is an example, in the C model, of what happens when you have an airplane that's about 25 years old," said Maj. Gen. David Gillett, ACC director of logistics.

The Nov. 2 crash also demonstrates the importance of recapitalizing the Air Force's fighter fleet, said the general. ACC's current fleet is the oldest in Air Force history. New systems are more capable, cost less to operate, require fewer people to maintain and can survive modern threat environments, ACC officials have said.
I've said it before - anyone who has ever owned an older car knows that at some point it is more cost effective to get a new(er) car than to keep putting money into repairs on the old one. It is a scandal that our airspace security and the lives of the airmen flying these planes has been put at risk the way it has been.

HT to Instapundit for the PM article

Friday, November 16, 2007

Mid-Morning Links

Here are some links to interesting stuff.

- The taxman is coming after Derek Jeter. Tricky situation - his home is in Tampa but his "apartment" is in NYC. His work is in NYC but half the time he's on the road. Tricky situation. I think if Jeter has good enough accountants and lawyers then he gets out of paying the taxes.

- The Knicks do need an intervention. If this was a family - social services would have came to take the kids long ago.

- Gypped? I've used that word all my life. I've never thought about it as a slur. Sorry but I don't see this as a big deal.

- Throwing stuff against the wall -revisited. I told you that WHDH "report" was all wet:
Wednesday night, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, citing a member of the Cardinals' front office, strongly denied Boston's WHDH, Channel 7, report that the team had interest, and the Boston Herald reported Thursday that the Braves also denied any involvement with [Mike] Lowell.
If a blog had done the same thing WHDH did - everyone would be screaming about how blogs have no reliability or credibility.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Barry Bonds

Barry Bonds has been indicted for perjury. I hate to say it but I told you so. This is what I wrote back in 2004:
We all know that our legal system is dodgy - especially when the defendants have the money for high powered attorneys. The BALCO stuff may get thrown out but one thing that is not dodgy is the truth. If Barry Bonds lied to the Feds under oath and they can prove it - he'll end up going to jail just like Martha Stewart.

Remember - Martha Stewart did not go to jail for insider trading (which is what the original investigation was about), she went to jail for lying to the Feds. Barry won't go to jail for taking steroids, he'll go to jail for lying about taking steroids.

Somebody has to be the fall guy here and Barry was a main target all along. Plus how sympathetic do you think a jury will be to Barry? About as sympathetic as a jury was to Martha maybe?
Barry is going to jail.
Mike Lowell

OK - this will probably be my last post on Mike Lowell until he signs somewhere. I was curious what teams would be in need of a 3rd baseman who will bring Gold Glove caliber defense, a veteran presence and potentially 20 HR but would cost about $50 million over 4-years.

I thought the best way would be to look at this division by division.

AL East - The Red Sox obviously want him back but for a 3-year deal. The Yankees supposedly have A-Rod back in the fold and I doubt if Lowell really wants to switch to 1st right now. The Orioles have Melvin Mora signed up till 2009 and they need to get younger not older. Forget the (Devil) Rays. Mike Lowell rakes the ball in Toronto but they already have Troy Glaus and his no trade contract to deal with. So that just leaves the Red Sox as a probably landing spot for Mike Lowell.

AL Central - The Indians have Casey Blake and Andy Marte supposedly waiting in the wings. I doubt they make Lowell a better offer than the Red Sox. The White Sox could do something but they already have Joe Crede who has not yet turned 30 at a third the cost and Josh Fields waiting in the wings. They won't make an offer to match the Red Sox. Kansas City? They have two young stud 3rd baseman. Why would they need an old one? The Tigers have Brandon Inge signed up till after the 2010 season. I don't see them making a play. The Twins wouldn't even offer Torii Hunter a 4-year deal. Sure they could use Mike Lowell but they will be getting younger when they trade Johan Santana - why would they need a high priced veteran on their limited budget? I see no potential suitors for Lowell in the AL Central.

AL West
- The Angels have Chone Figgins, Dallas McPherson and Brandon Wood potentially to man the hot corner. Sure they were interested in A-Rod but that is because they need a big bat to protect Vlade Guererro in the line-up. Lowell doesn't fit that bill but Miguel Cabrera would. The A's have too much tied up in Eric Chavez to be involved in the bidding. Same is true with the Mariners with Adrian Beltre. Jon Daniels wants the Rangers to get younger so a deal for Lowell is improbable. I see no potential suitors for Lowell in the AL West.

NL East - The Mets have David Wright, the Nationals Ryan Zimmerman and the Braves have Chipper Jones. That leaves the Phillies. They have Wes Helms under contract until 2009 but he's cheap. The Phillies could use a veteran presence like Mike Lowell but do they outbid the Red Sox is the question. Lowell has hit the ball very well at Citizens Bank Park in the past and the Phillies could use a big splash signing. Philadelphia is a very real potential landing spot for Mike Lowell.

NL Central - The Cubs have Aramis Ramirez, the Brewers have Ryan Braun (and Bill Hall), the Reds have 24-year old Edwin Encarnacion, the Astros have Ty Wiggington at a cheap price and the Cardinals have Scott Rolen (but they would love to be rid of him). That just leaves the Pirates and the odds of the Pirates out-bidding the Red Sox are as great as Dennis Kucinich winning the White House. I don't see any potential suitors for Lowell in the NL Central but that could change if the Cardinals off-load Scott Rolen.

NL West - Mark Reynolds is just 24 and a keeper for the Diamondbacks. The Rockies have two young stud 3rd baseman - so scratch them. The Padres have young Kevin Kouzmanoff. The Dodgers have Nomar for one more year and I doubt they would out bid the Red Sox. That leaves just the Giants. The Giants have Rich Aurilia under contract for one more season but at short money. They could potentially try and make a splash with Lowell - especially with Barry Bond's money coming off the books. Brian Sabean has proved time and again that he's not afraid of signing older players. The Giants could be the real wildcard in the pack. If they are the only team to offer Lowell a 4th year and that's a sticking point with Lowell then the Giants could win the bidding by default.

So I see three real suitors for the services of Mike Lowell. The Red Sox have an offer on the table for 3-years and Lowell will probably give the Red Sox the option to meet any offer. Pat Gillick of the Phillies is on record as saying the Phillies are only interested in spending free agent money on pitching and pitching should be their number one priority. However, if they start to lose out on on starter after starter who refuse to go to Citizens bank Park on their own volition - then they may want to make a splash with Lowell. I think San Francisco would be Lowell's third choice of the bunch. When you look at it logically - it adds up to Mike Lowell re-signing with the Red Sox.

EDIT: Lyford has a very good post on Mike Lowell's numbers. He comes to the same conclusion that a 3-year deal is OK but a 4-year deal would not be. I agree.
Throwing Stuff Against the Wall - Take II

Here's a prime example of journalistic standards being thrown out the window during the hot stove season. No by-line and no named source. Yup - every reason in the world to take this report as the Gospel truth. Just for the heck of it - let's deconstruct this report.
7Sports has learned that Mike Lowell has received contract offers from four separate MLB teams: the Braves, Angels, Cardinals, and Yankees.
For those outside of New England - WHDH subscribes to the Inside Edition-type school of pop journalism. So right away - you have to take everything with a grain of salt. Now consider the teams:

Braves - they already have Chipper Jones at 3rd and at his age I'm sure he doesn't want to move to the outfield and Chipper can't move to 1st because Atlanta has Mark Teixeira for at least one more year. With limited financial resources signing Lowell just doesn't make any sense.

Angels - this sort of makes sense. The Angels were very interested in A-Rod so they may be trying to bed Lowell on the rebound. However, Lowell projects to a .280 batting average, 15-20 HR guy playing in Anaheim. Those are Chone Figgins-type numbers and they already have Chone Figgins.

Cardinals - they have Scott Rolen clogging the way at 3rd and I'm doubtful they would sign Lowell before dealing with that situation first.

Yankees - of course the Yankees have to be brought into the discussion about any "name" free agent. How else are you going to jack up the contract price?
A source close to the Lowell side of the negotiations tells 7Sports that each offer is a 4-year contract, worth between $55-60 million.
So basically this "information" is coming from Lowell's agent. Hmmm... no possible agenda there.
The Yankees offer includes a request that Lowell play First Base, something the Gold-Glove-winning third baseman does not want to do.
So if this is coming from Lowell's agent - this is their way of saying Lowell does not want to play for the Yankees. This is good news for Red Sox fans.
The Red Sox have previously offered Lowell a 3-year contract worth $36 million.

Lowell is now waiting to see if the Red Sox will up their initial offer and try to keep him in Boston, in lieu of these newest offers from the four previously mentioned teams.
Translation - "please trust us that other teams have offered Mike 4-year deals. Just add in one more year and he'll sign. Mike just wants to stay in Boston."

My guess is that a deal gets done and the Red Sox sign Lowell to a 3-year deal with a vesting 4th year option. So let it be written - so let it be done.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Throwing Stuff Against the Wall

I'm amused by this time of year. It really is the most entertaining part of the baseball season. Baseball writers just throw stuff up against the wall because every once and a while - they'll be right. I bring this up because of Ken Rosenthal's (and the AP's) report that now the Yankees want A-Rod back at third but also want to sign Mike Lowell to play 1st.

In no other area of journalism can you make the kind of claims sportswriters can make during the hot stove season. It would be akin to me having a friend who is a registered Democrat saying that Hillary should tab Colin Powell as her running mate and me running a story saying "sources inside the Democratic Party say that Hillary may make a run at Powell for VP." Then when Hillary picks someone else - completely forgetting I ever wrote anything about Colin Powell. During the hot stove season rumors of barely a scant chance of becoming real are reported as breaking news. It happens every year.

Sure its true that someone in the Yankees has probably considered Lowell at 1st and maybe that person has even talked to Lowell's agent about Lowell's willingness to play 1st. Its also true I've talked to friends about leaving my wife to hook up with with Jessica Alba. And I think if I were Hank Steinbrenner I could hook that up, too. I bet Jessica Alba digs dudes with money.

Sometimes I think baseball writers have a Yankees version "Jump to Conclusions" mat. If the Yankees bring back A-Rod and Lowell is the next best free agent available then let's all jump to the conclusion that the Yankees will obviously have to make a huge offer to Lowell and put him somewhere other than 3rd base.

The funny thing is that if the Yankees were to overpay Mike Lowell and sign him to a 4-year contract to play 1st - most Red Sox fans would be disappointed but in no way heartbroken. They would sincerely wish him well. I know it must seem contradictory for me to say that on one hand I really want Mike Lowell back but on the other not mind him being overpaid by the Yankees and leaving for the Bronx but that's the way it is.

Mike Lowell's swing was made for Fenway Park. Yankee Stadium? Not so much. Lowell knows that but if the money is overwhelming - then what are you going to do?

Most people who follow baseball know that if the Yankees developed home-grown talent and then coupled that with strategic big free agent signings - then that is when they are at their most dangerous. It's no coincidence that the Yankee dynasty came with the emergence of home grown stars like Jeter, Pettitte, Posada and Rivera. It's also no coincidence that the failure years came with the meddling Steinbrenner at the helm putting together a roster of top free agents willy-nilly.

If Lowell is over-paid to play 1st - then its a sign that the clearheadedness strength through the farm system of Brian Cashman is being replaced by the whims and tantrums of the new Steinbrenner on the block. That's good news for Red Sox fans. Under Steinbrenner the ratio of people to cake is too big.

I'm especially amused by the wrinkle of Hank Steinbrenner wanting to deal with A-Rod without agent Scott Boras being involved. I can just picture the way that he explains his reasoning for wanting to deal with A-Rod directly; "Well look - I already told you. I deal with the god damn players so the agents don't have to. I have people skills. I am good at dealing with players. Can't you understand that? What the hell is wrong with you people?"

Hey Brian Cashman you going fishing on Saturday? "Nah, Hank Steinbrenner's going to have me come in on Saturday - I just know it."
Cleveland Indians

Steve Henson of Yahoo! Sports has a "hot stove" look at the Cleveland Indians. I got a good chuckle out of this part:
The versatile Casey Blake also is a year from free agency, and nobody recognizes his value more than Shapiro. So expect a serious attempt to keep Blake in the fold as well. Maybe that's why the Indians announced Monday they have raised prime season ticket prices by 11 percent.
Yeah - sure. Good luck to the Indians trying to justify a big ticket increase so that they can re-sign Casey Blake. To be fair - Henson had just got done saying that CC Sabathia will be a free agent after 2008 and I think he meant to justify the ticket price increase on the re-signing of both players. The way its written is ambiguous and I chose to chuckle at the idea of re-signing Casey Blake to a mega-contract causing the ducat inflation.

It's also amusing to see the love for Casey Blake when everyone was ready to give 3rd base to prospect Andy Marte before the season started.

The Indians two big needs are a starting corner outfielder and a closer. I would go after Japanese free agent outfielder Kosuke Fukodome but I'm not sure about what they can do about a closer. Francisco Cordero coming over to the AL would be just as big a risk as sticking with Joe Borowski. And Cordero would be looking for Casey Blake type money.

If the Red Sox were to lose out on Mike Lowell it would be pretty ironic that the Indians would need an outfielder (Coco Crisp) while the Red Sox big need would be a 3rd baseman (Andy Marte). I chuckle at that almost as much as Casey Blake's contract necessitating an 11% hike in ticket prices.
One of the Great Trades in Baseball History

With Johan Santana on the market and the Twins asking a king's ransom for him - I started thinking about the trade that brought Pedro Martinez to Boston. The more I look at the trade the more I start to marvel at how one-sided it was.

In November of 1997 Pedro Martinez was traded to Boston from Montreal in exchange for pitching prospects Carl Pavano and Tony Armas. With the Red Sox - Pedro went 117-37 and won 2 Cy Young Awards. Carl Pavano went 24-35 for Montreal before being part of a 8 player deal in 2002 that sent Pavano to the Marlins. Tony Armas went 32-41 for Montreal before leaving as a free agent after the 2004 season. Pedro had more than double the wins and less than half of the losses of the guys he was traded for.

When the greatest trades of all-time are mentioned - the deal that brought Pedro Martinez to Boston is often oddly left out of the discussion. Dan Duquette doesn't get the credit he deserves. Not only did he trade for Pedro Martinez but he also made the deal that sent Heathcliff Slocumb to Seattle in exchange for Jaso Varitek and Derek Lowe.
China and the New Cold War

This is scary.

It was no accident having that Chinese sub surface where and when it did. The Chinese are actively probing our defenses for weaknesses. Make no mistake - we are in a Cold War with China.

As just one man - there's not much I can do but what I can do is stop buying any goods that say "Made in China". I used to laugh about those commercials that connected smoking pot to supporting terrorism but in this case if you buy goods made in China you really are aiding and abetting the enemy.

Between China's annexation of Tibet and their military and economic actions towards the US - t is becoming clear that we must not feed the dragon. Boycott China.

With Christmas coming - hurt the Chinese where they will feel it. Boycott Chinese goods.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

CC Sabathia Wins Cy Young Award

CC Sabathia won the Cy Young Award and I for one have no argument with it. He had 19 wins, a better ERA than Josh Beckett and he led the majors in innings pitched. He deserves it.

However, what I don't get is how 2 voters could completely leave Josh Beckett off the ballot. How could one voter leave CC Sabathia off his ballot? If the Angels beat writer gave his first place vote to John Lackey - then he needs to be outed for being a homer. The writers need to have their ballot's be public. It's ridiculous.
Tiki Barber

Has anyone seen Tiki Barber? I thought he was going to be the next big thing. He was going to do sports, morning shows, commercials, everything. I can't recall the last time I saw him on TV. Not that I think that's a bad thing. I always thought he was just way too smarmy.

I don't think the Giants are missing him either. Last year after 9 games they were 6-3 just like this year. However, this year the Giants are actually scoring more without Tiki than they did with him. This year the Giants are averaging 24.4 points per game while last year after 9 games they were averaging 23.7 points per game.
Regulated Internet Poker

I think you know where I stand regarding Internet poker.

Poker is one of the most American things there is. It is a shame that people in Australia can walk into any pub and start up a game or go on line in the privacy of their own homes and play but to do so in the US would be to break the law.

Dwight Eisenhower called poker his favorite indoor sport. It is a shame on the national character that poker is becoming an outlaw sport.
Baseball Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous baseball thoughts and observations.

Jorge Posada has signed a 4-year $52.4 million contract to stay with the Yankees. Three thoughts on this signing. First - Jorge got that extra $100,000 per year because it now makes his contract the richest in history for a catcher (Mike Piazza had a $13 million per year contract). Second - does anyone think that Jorge will be worth the money in that last year? As a 40-year old catcher or as a DH? He may not be worth the money in the 3rd year. Finally - Jorge had a career year (in hits and batting average) at age 36 - would anyone be shocked if he's named in the Mitchell Report? As a Red Sox fan - I love this signing.... The Tigers re-signed Todd Jones to a 1-year $7 million deal. It's strange that Jones gets all that money mainly due to a guy making the minimum (Joel Zumaya) getting hurt. Seriously - Jones should send $1 million over Zumaya's way as a thank you for having such great stuff but being such a clumsy bastard... I think if the Yankees didn't give Posada the 4th year then the Mets would have. I don't think the Red Sox would operate that way. I think they put a dollar number and a number of years down next to a player and very rarely will they go over those numbers. Varitek being the exception that proves the rule... I think its a sign of how much the stock in Dontrelle Willis has fallen that even in a year with no real free agent pitchers worth the money there is almost no buzz about any team acquiring Willis and he's on the market! Willis has always pitched better on the road than at home (3.85 career ERA at home vs 3.71 career road ERA) and I think that maybe the South Beach nightlife may have sucked out his mojo last season. Just saying that I'm surprised his name doesn't come up more often... Having said that the Red Sox normally don't go over what they feel a player's true worth is - it will be interesting to see if the Red Sox offer Mike Lowell a 4th year. Lowell is a great clubhouse guy and the Red Sox really don't have anyone in the minors ready to play in the bigs. Lowell just may be another exception to the rule. If not I'd look for the Red Sox to sign Brad Wilkerson to play 1st and move Kevin Youkilis to 3rd... Congrats to Dustin Pedroia for winning the AL Rookie of the Year award. He deserved it. Let's hope Josh Beckett wins the Cy Young today.

Monday, November 12, 2007

What I want for Christmas

This would be pretty cool to own. Maybe if you guys would pool your money for me - then we could outbid Groanin' Jock.

I'm bringing this up very early so that you guys have a chance to get your money together. If you can't afford this - then a flying car or a restored Stutz Bearcat will do.
Curt Schilling Wins 2008 Cy Young Award

Nick Carfardo has the break-down on Curt Schilling's contract. It's an $8 million base plus a lot of incentives. One of the incentives is very interesting. Schilling gets a cool $1 million if he receives just a single 1st, 2nd or 3rd place vote for the 2008 AL Cy Young Award.

Think about that for a minute.

You know that if Curt has an even half-decent year that some sportswriter will think to himself, "Sure I'll vote for Schilling. Why not? It's not my money - the Red Sox are rich anyway. Maybe I can get a story out of this? Maybe Curt will use that money to buy himself a new car and hey if he wants to give me his old car - hey who does that hurt?"

You KNOW that there are sportswriters thinking along those very lines. They would never voice those views though because in their eyes they are the bastions of truth, justice and the journalistic way. But we all know the thought will cross their mind and lodge there like half a ham sandwich in Michael Moore's colon.

Now think of this - what if a bunch of writers all had the same thought? They all think to themselves, "I'll give Curt my 3rd place vote and I'll call him to let him know. When he gets his money I'm sure he'll remember who made it possible." What if the race for AL Cy Young is very close like its expected to be this year or like the 1998 NL Cy Young race? A guy like Schilling could come out of nowhere to win the award. Seriously - if there are a bunch of good candidates (like this year with Beckett, Sabathia, Carmona and Lackey and reliever JJ Putz) then a wildcard gathering lots of 3rd place votes could realistically take home the award.

You may think, "Oh the baseball writers would never do something like that. They hold their votes as almost sacred." Just remember - these are the same guys who two years ago gave 2 Hall of fame votes to Greg freakin' Jefferies, 5 votes to Ozzie Guillen and another 5 votes to Hal "76 career HR" Morris. What were you thinking about their votes being sacred to them?

Then you factor in that the baseball writers' ballots are not public. Still think that they won't sink to the levels described?

All I know is that the next time I go to Las Vegas - I'm going to scour the sports books to find a joint that is taking action of the 2008 AL Cy Young Award and I'll bet the maximum on Curt Schilling to show.
NFL Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous NFL thoughts and observations.

Are you in a fantasy football league? Was Peyton Manning one of the top 3 picks in your league? Is the person who drafted Manning now trying to trade him? If he wasn't yesterday - after last night's 6 interception performance I bet he's thinking about it today. In a season where Manning has been without Marvin Harrison - it's amazing how pedestrian his numbers have become. It should also be noted that Manning set the Colts record for interceptions in a game last night. Not even Jeff George managed to throw six picks in a game for the Colts... If you combined the totals from for the QB's in the Atlanta / Carolina game, the Minnesota / Green Bay game, and the Denver / Chiefs game - then you would get the exact same number of total interceptions as Peyton Manning threw all by himself.... Is it me or is Gunther Cunningham's defense in Kansas City masking just how bad a coaching job Herm Edwards is doing for the Chiefs? The Chiefs would be wise to ditch Edwards at the end of the season and bring back Marty Shottenheimer... The record for the remaining opponents for the Bills is 35-28 (but if you took out Miami it becomes 35-19). I've said it before - if Dick Jauron manages to lead the Buffalo Bills to an 8-8 record this season then he should be unanimous coach of the year... I wonder if the Dolphins have Sunday December 2nd circled on their calendars? They play the Jets at home that day and its got to be their best chance to win a game this year... The Cleveland Browns are one game back for a Wild Card playoff spot and right now I'd say they are the team you would not want to play in the first round of the playoffs.... Craphonso Thorpe? That's your real first name? I'd go with Fonzie if I were you but then again with the number of dropped passes you had last night maybe the other nickname is appropriate... Just saying but Stephen Gostkowski is 11-12 (92%) on field goals this year. Adam Vinatieri meanwhile is 16-20 (80%)...

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Brad Lidge's Mechanics

A very interesting look at Brad Lidge's pitching mechanics. Very interesting.

I'd also like to note that you don't get things like this from legacy media outlets.

Excellent work by Jeff Albert.
Baseball Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous baseball thoughts and observations.

The legend of Dustin Pedroia continues to grow. Now it comes out that he played the last 2 months of the season with a broken hamate bone. What's not to like about this guy? He plays hurt and never says a word? Pedroia could be to the Red Sox what Jeter was to the Yankees. A rookie mid-fielder who wins a World Series in his first year and becomes a symbol of team success... I've seen Mike Lowell's free agent situation compared to that of Jason Varitek a few years ago. There is one major difference that most people don't note. When Varitek was a free agent he was far and away the best catcher on the market and the rest of the alternatives would have been a clear step down from what Jason was to offer the Red Sox. This year Lowell isn't even the best free agent on the market and the Red Sox have a guy playing 1st who could take his place (the Sox would then have to get a 1st baseman). Apples and oranges. Again - for the record I want Lowell back but I will understand if the Red Sox think his price gets too out of whack... Interesting - the top 40 pitchers of the 20th century. I think the fact that Sandy Koufax is not in the top 40 points out that this is a compilation based largely on longevity and not a true rendering of "the best". In fact not having Koufax in the top 40 should have been a tip off to the authors that their methodology was not ready for prime time. I also have a big problem listing Roger Clemens over Warren Spahn...
Interesting Mario Puzo Essay

Yesterday morning while looking to see if anyone else had connected Mario Puzo to Norman Mailer - I came across this old book review done by Marion Puzo where Puzo discusses not just Buckley but also Norman Mailer.

Puzo was reviewing William F. Buckley's book The Jeweler's Eye - here are the key paragraphs:
Buckley is condescending even to Norman Mailer, a far more dangerous diversion. He loves Mailer as an artist, he says, because Mailer makes the most beautiful metaphors in the business, "as many as a dozen on a single page worth analyzing." Well, that's pretty good metaphorizing. But Mailer's reaction to that kind of praise will be like that of the chorus girl who received as a birthday present from her millionaire lover a signed photograph of himself.

Readable as it is, "The Jeweler's Eye" could have used some of the Buckley-Mailer debates and TV confrontations. Like a perfectly cast wrestling match, they were a delightful pair. (Buckley, the "English Milord," urbane to the point of snottiness, was the natural villain who drew the jeers of the lumpen-crowd by slyly fouling his opponent behind the referee's back. Mailer, the "Candy Store Kid," was the bulling, honest strongboy who earned the crowd's cheers by fouling his opponent in front of the referee.) Buckley's wit is sneaky, ambiguous, the kind of put-on wit presently labeled as "cool" but which may be chicken (to avoid getting punched in the nose). Mailer is crudely direct, mistakes abuse for wit, and openly invites a punch in the nose. It is, perhaps, no accident that Mailer takes boxing lessons and Buckley rides a motor bike. But that's another medium; perhaps the debates didn't work well in print and so were not used here.
It should be noted that the review was written well before Puzo made a name for himself as the author of The Godfather.
Notre Dame

The truth is - they stink!

I thought the Irish would come out in the second half and grind up Air Force but it was Notre Dame that was grist for the mill. They stink! They stink! They stink!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Norman Mailer Dies and I Make a Confession

Literary icon Norman Mailer has died. I'm not sure what to say. I didn't like Norman Mailer.

OK - I know that's a terrible thing to say on the day a person's death is announced but the normal niceties are different for public figures (especially for ones who tried so hard to be public). It's also probably not a wise thing for me to admit given that I consider myself a pretty well read person and yet I've never read any of Mailer's books.

I have read some of Mailer's magazine articles and interviews. They didn't leave me very sympathetic to Mr. Mailer. Oh I'm sure I'll have people who tell me that I must read The Executioner's Song or The Naked and the Dead to truly understand his genius. I'm sorry but the "glory" of those books are lost to me for I doubt I could shake reading them in any but the voice of an egomaniac bully.

Probably a good part of my bias against Mailer comes from Mario Puzo. The character Osano in the book Fools Die is a thinly veiled sketch of Mailer. And from my vantage point it was not a flattering characterization.

Today I flipped open my copy of Fools Die and I came across this paragraph that seemed completely to the point. The narrator talks about an artist working toward "truth":
The truth was that you [the writer / artist] were like a safecracker fiddling with the dial and listening for the tumblers click into place. And after a couple of years the door might swing open and you could start typing. And the hell of it was that what was in the safe was most times all that valuable.
My prejudiced against Mailer probably stems from the fact that his ego never allowed him to see that his safe was sometimes empty. The mental image I have of Mailer is as a Geraldo Rivera opening Al Capone's vault to see nothing inside but instead of admitting the vault was empty Mailer would go on about the metaphor of the vault as the emptiness of modern life and the coldness of a woman's bosom.
Jeff Passan on the Red Sox

Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports looks at the possible offseason moves by the Red Sox.

Passan thinks the Red Sox will be able to re-sign Mike Lowell to a 3-year deal (I hope that's true). It should be noted that if the Red Sox can't re-sign Lowell - then they would have about $25 million coming off the books (Lowell's $9 million plus Matt Clement's $9 million and a bunch of filler). That gives them the flexibility to sign a player like A-Rod but they will not sign a player to a 10-year contract. That just ain't going to happen.

One move I hope the Red Sox make is to sign Jonathan Papelbon to a long term deal (I know I just got done explaining how the Red Sox loathe long-term contracts but I think a deal with Papelbon that would take him past his first free agent year would be fiscally prudent).

After 3rd base - the big questions for the Red Sox will be:

1. Do they trade Coco Crisp and if so for who?
2. What do they do about a back-up catcher? I don't think the Red Sox want to carry Doug Mirabelli and his useless bat.
Happy 232nd Marines

Today is the 232nd birthday for the United States Marine Corps.

In honor of the Marines - here's my favorite Ronald Reagan quote:
Some people live their entire lifetime and wonder if they ever made a difference to the world. Marines don't have that problem. -- January 1995
Notre Dame

It has come to this - Notre Dame is playing a service academy at home and yet they find themselves 3.5 point underdogs.

Air Force is a fine team at 7-3 for the year but I think the betting line may have more to do with people wanting to see Notre Dame fail than reality. Yes - Notre Dame is having the worst season in memory but they should have beat Navy and Navy unmanned Air Force 31-20 with Air Force playing on the road.

Air Force is a running team and the Irish will probably have the biggest defensive front 7 the Falcons will face all year. The Irish are susceptible more to passing teams.

Its been 11 years since Air Force was able to defeat Notre Dame. In 1996 the Falcons beat the Irish 20-17 in overtime in South Bend. If the Irish were getting 3.5 points they would have covered.

I see the Irish winning outright today. It has come to this - a victory over Air Force is something to crow about in South Bend.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Pump Up the Crowd Noise

Somethings been bothering me and its this statement from Colts GM Bill Polian:
Q: Can you comment on the allegations that the Colts artificially piped-in crowd noise at the RCA Dome Sunday?

A: I’m not sure that (Patriots Head) Coach (Bill) Belichick had any comments about crowd noise. There were a number of comments made on what I would call disreputable websites (Monday) morning. We reacted to it because we felt like it was an affront to our fans and to the integrity of our organization. I will read you a statement we issued earlier Monday. It says the following: ‘In reference to questions regarding the audio transmission of yesterday’s game, please refer to the following statement from the NFL: CBS has informed us that the unusual audio moment heard by fans during the Patriots-Colts game was the result of tape feedback in the CBS production truck and was isolated to the CBS broadcast. It was in no way related to any sound within the stadium and could not be heard in the stadium. We close with the following sentence: We trust this will put an end to the ridiculous and unfounded accusations that the Colts artificially enhanced crowd noise at the RCA Dome in any way.
These's an old joke that goes, "How do you say Fuck You in Hollywood?" "Trust me." If you notice - Polian never comes out and says "We do not pump in crowd noise." What he says is that CBS has taken the blame for the "audio moment" and that he "trusts" this will put an end to the accusations. Polian was very, very careful with his wording. Its a non-denial denial if I ever heard one.

The answer seems easy to me. For the next 3 big games at the RCA Dome - have NFL technicians monitor the noise coming out of the speakers. The NFL could then compare the audio levels from those three monitored games against similar previous games. They could use the video from NFL films to do this. My guess is that when the monitored games will have noticably lower audio levels.

Officials from first the Steelers and now the Patriots have brought up the pumped up crowd noise and we get non-denial denials from the Colts. I think where there's smoke - there's fire.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Heh Heh

Dr. Tits

OK - so I'm as mature as a 10-year old sometimes.

HT College Humor
Astros Trade Lidge to Phillies

Yes it was a 5-player trade but really this trade was all about Brad Lidge. The Phillies are the big winner in this trade. The Astros fans are the losers.

The Phillies get a closer with great stuff who can sometimes be a bit wild but they don't give up any of their top prospects. Almost more importantly they get to move Brett "they just don't F'n listen" Myers back to the rotation. This year a decent 3rd or 4th starter will cost at least $6 million per year in a multi-year deal. Lidge will probably only cost the Phillies $6 million for 1-year. Then he's likely to leave as a free agents and the Phillies will probably get 2 high draft picks when he walks out the door. Those draft picks will basically cancel out the prospects the Phillies sent to Houston. A patient man could argue that the Phillies are basically getting Lidge for free.

For the Astros - this is a salary dump as much as anything. Sure they get to say they are getting a speedy centerfielder in Michael Bourn but really what they are doing is a pure salary dump. They just saved $6 million from their bottom line. Michael Bourn.

Watch as the Astros talk about pursuing this free agent or that free agent. Don't bet on them signing any big names though. The Astros are cutting salary this year - not adding it.
Heh Heh - Grumpy Old Shula

This is hilarious

I can just picture Don Shula saying all that stuff. Now I have the image stuck in my head of Don Shula doing an add for "the clapper". (Shula is sitting in a Lazy-Boy watching a TV with rabbit ears while the Patriots score a TD on screen. Angry Shula vigorously claps his hands and the TV clicks off. A chorus sings "Clap on - clap off - the Clapper." In the distance a dog barks.)
Six Man Rotation for Red Sox

Will the Red Sox go to a 6-man rotation next year? According to this very well written article - it is a very real possibility.

One of the keys to the Red Sox victory in the postseason this year was the fact that their starters were fresh. The Cleveland Indians dynamic duo of CC Sabathia and Fausto Carmona seemed worn down and were not effective versus the potent Red Sox lineup. I personally think you can trace that back to Sabathia leading all of baseball in innings pitched and Carmona being asked to throw 141 more innings this year than he did the year before.

Read the link - the 6-man rotation seems to have the Curt Schilling stamp of approval.
Yankees Offer A-Rod Arbitration

Oh my goodness gracious. Of all the dramatic things I've seen in my life - Alex Rodriguez is in the owners box getting the Yankees a sandwich (pick).

This is a no-brainer move by Brian Cashman. The Yankees will get a 1st round pick plus a sandwich pick from the team that signs A-Rod (making A-Rod even less attractive to teams that value draft picks like the Red Sox). Now Cashman just has to offer Andy Pettitte arbitration just to insure he doesn't have a Roger Clemens recurrence (where the player says he's going to retire - then poof - signs with another team).

No draft is as much of a crap shoot as the baseball draft but it should be remembered that the draft is the way to get young players into the system. It should also be noted that the Red Sox used the sandwich pick they received for Pedro Martinez signing with the Mets to draft Clay Buchholz. If the Yankees had offered Roger Clemens arbitration they could have had two shots to draft an impact pitcher. Can you imagine what the Yankees could have done this year with the equivalent of another Phillip Hughes or a Clay Buchholz?

HT Baseball Musings

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Heh Heh

(Not really in the mood to post anything - so I'm recycling some old jokes.)

These two old ladies, Myrtle and Mildred, are at the beach, when Myrtle notices that Mildred's pack of cigarettes have a condom stretched over it.

"Why on earth did you do that, Mildred?"

"It's the best way I've ever found to keep the sand out of my cigarettes while at the beach!"

So the next day, Myrtle goes to the drug store, and tells the pharmacist that she'd like a pack of condoms. The pharmacist is surprised, and says, "Well, Ok, but they come in different styles and sizes. Do you know what you what?"

Myrtle responds, "I really don't care as long as they work on a pack of Camels."
Heh Heh

Pinocchio was receiving complaints from his girlfriend about consummating their passions. "Every time we make love," she said, "I get splinters!" So he went back to his maker, Gipetto, the carpenter, to ask for advice. "Sandpaper my boy, that's what you need," was the carpenter's response. A couple of weeks later the carpenter saw Pinocchio again, "How are you getting on with the girls now?" "Who needs girls?" replied Pinocchio.
Hot Stove Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous baseball thoughts and observations.

The Washington Nationals forgotten man has to be 1st baseman Nick Johnson who missed all of last season with complications that arose from a broken leg. Johnson is known as a player with a sweet swing and even better plate discipline but who just can't stay healthy. The Nationals signed Dmitri Young to an extension so Nick Johnson's $5.5 million contract may very well be in play. Who needs a 1st baseman or a DH?... Speaking of the Nationals - they seem intent on making a splash signing a centerfielder (Torii Hunter is the hot rumor). I wonder where that leaves Ryan Church? Maybe - just maybe - if the Red Sox fail to sign Mike Lowell at 3rd and the Nationals cannot land the "name" free agent CF - then the Red Sox and Nationals could do a Coco Crisp for Nick Johnson and Ryan Church deal. The Red Sox could then move Kevin Youkilis to 3rd, hope for the best health-wise with Johnson at 1st and have a solid 4th outfielder in Church. Of course this won't happen because the Red Sox will re-sign Mike Lowell (to a reasonable 3-year $40 million contract)... Who has had the harder time over the years? The Twins trying to fill 3rd base or the Phillies trying to fill the closer role?.... Will anyone be surprised if the St. Louis Cardinals completely implode next season? Not me... If I were a team that needed a 3rd baseman - I would approach the Pirates about what they would want for Freddy Sanchez... Finally let me say this about the Red Sox re-signing Curt Schilling - GOOD! This was such a no-brainer from the Red Sox point of view. Schilling was the top available free agent pitcher on the market and he just wanted one year. Good for Schilling for choosing the lifestyle and family considerations over the take the money and run approach. The Red Sox are in a great position right now. Their big need is to sign their 3rd baseman (who also wants to stay put) and find a back-up catcher. The Red Sox also have the prospects available to make a deal for a Johan Santana or Miguel Cabrera. Good time to be a Red Sox fan...

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

F-15's Grounded

The entire fleet of F-15 fighter jets has been grounded as a precautionary measure.

If you read the article it states that the F-15 is scheduled to be replaced by the F-22 but that's incorrect. Most of the current F-15's will be replaced by the more cost effective F-35 (is it too much to ask for the LA Times to get that detail right?).

The state of our Air Force really is almost at crisis stages. The F-15's (which make up the bulk of our fighters) are on average about 24-years old per plane. The tankers which are used to refuel the planes in flight are almost literally relics from the Eisenhower administration. The helicopters used to find and rescue downed pilots are also about ready for mandatory retirement. This is an end to end crisis that puts the very security of the nation in peril.

I offer two analogies that I think fit the current situation.

First our current Air Force capability is like a big city police force that has a limited elite SWAT team made up of the best professionals that training and money can provide but every other policeman on the force is a months from retirement beat cop who probably would have a heart attack if forced to run down a criminal in a foot race. Sure the SWAT team is great to have (and necessary) but they are really only good after the fact and in limited deployment. Just like the Air Force and the stealth fighters and bombers.

Second analogy. Most people with an older family vehicle get to a point where the expense of repairing and maintaining a car make the purchase of a new car not just feasible but the fiscally responsible thing to do. Imagine that you reached that point but were told that you had to instead keep paying for new transmissions and power trains instead of just buying that new car. Imagine that the reason you had to keep the older car was because someone somewhere decided you had to keep the local mechanic in business. That's the situation the Air Force finds themselves in today.

It should be an outrage.

I can't help but think that besides deaths by roadside IED's - whenever I read about a number of military personnel dying it is usually in an air crash during a training exercise. You almost never read about the age or vintage of the craft they were flying in but that piece of information should be mandatory in every report. There needs to be outrage to get Congress to do the right thing. That's the sad state of affairs things have sunk to.
Schilling and Pettitte

Some news on the status of two veteran pitchers that reflects the status of the two franchises as well as the status of the pitchers themselves.

First, Rob Bradford - a very reliable source - reports that a one year deal to bring Curt Schilling back to the Sox is in the process of getting done. Schilling had been asking for a 1-year $13 million deal. It seems that he's going to have to accept something less than that if Schilling wants to stay.

Meanwhile, Andy Pettitte has declined his option with the Yankees. Supposedly Pettitte is still trying to decide if he wants to play next year or retire. I may be cynical but I'm guessing whether or not the Yankees are able to re-sign Jorge Posada to catch his games and Mariano Rivera to close his games will have a big impact on whether Pettitte wants to come back to the Bronx for another year.

I just find the juxtaposition of the two situations amusing. Schilling is practically begging to come back to the World Champion Red Sox and is willing to take a a below market contract to do so while Pettitte wants to watch the turmoil in the Bronx unfold a bit more before deciding what to do. It's amusing to see how Boston has become the stable franchise where players want to play in order to have the best chance to win a ring while the Yankees are quickly becoming the Baltimore Orioles.

It should also be noted that Pettitte has said he either will play in pinstripes next year or retire but has still filed his free agency papers. It would be a huge mistake for the Yankees not to offer Pettitte arbitration. Remember a couple of years ago when Clemens said he was retiring (the first time) and then turned around and signed with Houston? Because the Yankees took Roger at his word and did not offer him arbitration - they cost themselves two top draft picks.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Baseball GM Meetings Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous hot stove baseball thoughts and observations.

The Texas Rangers need a centerfielder. The Red Sox have two. If the Rangers lose out on the top centerfield free agents then a Coco Crisp for Jarrod Saltalamacchia trade could be good for both teams (good for the Red Sox at least). The Red Sox big needs are a corner infielder (if Mike Lowell is not re-signed) and a back-up catcher. Saltalamacchia could fill both those needs. Note - I wouldn't be against keeping Coco as a 4th outfielder or as insurance that Jacoby Ellsbury doesn't have a sophomore slump but I think Salty is going to be the real deal... Greg Maddux has reportedly re-signed with the Padres for a 1-year deal worth $10 million. Maddux is a sure-fire first ballot Hall of Famer. Last season he managed 34 starts and almost 200 IP. I REALLY hope that Roger Clemens doesn't come back next season and that Maddux wins at least 8 games to pass Clemens and take over 8th place on the all-time wins list. Maddux would need 14 wins to tie Kid Nichols in 7th place. I think the low key way Maddux went about re-signing with the Padres compared to the mercenary "look at me" way Clemens operates speaks volumes about the two pitchers as people... With the Yankees picking up the option on Bobby Abreu - it seems to me they have a logjam in the outfield. Melky Cabrera should be the starting CF and now with Abreu back in RF - that leaves Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui to fight it out for LF at bats and time at DH. Do they trade Damon (as has been rumored to the White Sox) or do they try to trade Jason Giambi? It seems to me that something has to give... Keep in mind that the Blue Jays collect their revenue in Canadian dollars but pay the players in US dollars. That means that the Canadian dollar going above a 1 for 1 exchange rate creates a windfall for the Blue Jays. Will they use this extra fiscal muscle to sign a big name player this offseason? I wouldn't recommend it but it should be noted that short is their big need and they have the money to take on a Miguel Tejada contract. I know Tejada is diminishing skills incarnate but he's also a big name and the Blue Jays could actually use a gate attraction...
NFL Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous NFL thoughts and observations.

The Buffalo Bills are a tough team when they play at home. So far this season they are 3-2 at home with both losses coming by a single point in each game. Who could have guessed that half way through the season the Bills would have as many wins as the Chargers and more wins than the Bears or Eagles? Dick Jauron has to get serious consideration for coach of the year if he can somehow manage to get this Bills team to finish at .500 for the season... Every prediction you saw for the Patriots / Colts game had the game being a high scoring shootout. Everybody loved the over in the game. I thought the Colts would try a ball control running attack and with everybody going one way on the over / under I normally go the other. Yet I did not take the under in yesterday's game and today I'm kicking myself... Detroit may just be unbeatable when they play at home. The Lions are now 4-0 at home with the shellacking of the Broncos yesterday.... The Colts may tell themselves that the results would be different if they played the Patriots again with a healthy Marvin Harrison but the truth is the Colts received some very favorable calls from the referees yesterday and were helped by playing at home. If the Colts do play the Patriots again it will be at Foxboro and I'm guessing the margin of victory for the Pats will be more than 4 points... Adrian Peterson is a horse. I think he's a taller Marshall Faulk or a stronger Eric Dickerson. Yesterday Peterson set the single game rushing record with 296 yards but I'd guess that he's going to break that record at least 2 more times in his career... Randy Moss is just incredible. He had another 100-yard receiving game getting 145 yards on 9 catches. I know he could get more money elsewhere at the end of the season but I really hope he re-signs with the Patriots. With Tom Brady reluctant to do any commercials - Randy Moss can become the face of the Patriots and make up whatever salary shortfall he has with commercial opportunities... One final note - do you realize that Tom Brady has as many TD passes (33) as Peyton Manning (14) and Tony Romo (19) combined? That's incredible... Damn! Just one more thought - yesterday the Lions had Jon Kitna play the entire game even though they were up by 37 points in the 4th quarter. The Lions then scored another TD to make it 44-0 with Kitna still in the game. My question is this - where are all the talking heads today complaining about the Lions running up the score? If this was the Patriots it would be the lead story everywhere...

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Pool Hustlers

A couple of things to mention today regarding pool hustlers. First is this very interesting look at modern pool hustlers at the Derby City Classic from SI. The article is basically an except of the book Running the Table by L. Jon Wertheim.

Today also happens to be the anniversary of the death of Arnold Rothstein who died from being shot in the gut (many speculate that he was shot because he welshed on a large poker debt). Rothstein is mainly remembered as a gangster and as the man who may have been behind the 1919 World Series fix. It should also be remembered that Rothstein got his start as a pool hustler and is the centerpiece of one of the most memorable matches in history.
The group brought Jack Conway, a Philadelphia sportsman and accomplished jockey, who happened to be an expert pool player, to town. One night at Jack’s, a popular Manhattan hangout, Rothstein walked in and was invited to sit down with the group as they discussed baseball and prizefights. During this talk it came out that Conway was “probably” the best amateur pool player in the country. Rothstein, unaware of Conway’s background or that he was being set up, sensed a challenge and jumped at it.

The two men agreed to play to 100 points for $500 at John McGraw’s Billiard Parlor. The game began on a Thursday night at 8:00 p.m. By the time it ended, at 4:00 a.m. Saturday morning, some 36 hours later, Rothstein was rumored to have won over $10,000. The match received so much publicity that it was reported on in two of the New York City newspapers. In one account Rothstein was referred to as “a well-known sportsman.”
The above is from the Crime Library's mini biography of Arnold Rothstein. Well worth the read if you are interested in that sort of thing. Below I've put a link to perhaps the best biography of Rothstein if you want to read more.

Boston College Loses to Florida State

Last night the Boston College Eagles came up short in their bid for an undefeated season by losing to Florida State 27-17. It was 20-17 with a little over a minute to go and everyone watching expected to see Matt Ryan lead the Eagles to a victory. Instead Ryan threw an interception which was returned for the final TD of the game.

Now that Matt Ryan and BC have been knocked off their pedestals - the doubters will be free to kick them when BC is down. Here's the mistake - BC isn't down. They are 8-1 (4-1 in the ACC) and are still in line to get a major bowl birth and in great shape to win the ACC.

The weather in Chestnut Hills last night was bad. The weather was so bad that many of my friends raced to place bets on the game going under the total of 38.5 points with the thinking that nobody would be able to score in those conditions. I bring this up to to emphasize how bad the weather was and to point out that I hang out with some degenerate gamblers. I'm sure Matt Ryan and BC would never use the weather as an excuse as to why they lost and I make no excuses for my friends.

I will admit to having a 180 degree change in my thinking about BC deserving their high ranking and now my thinking is damn right they deserve their high ranking. Last night they lost to a good Florida State team (though a team I grant is prone to Jeckle and Hyde performances). This is the same Florida State team that beat the Alabama team who almost beat LSU last night. Sure BC lost last night and had to pull out the Virginia Tech game in the last 2 minutes but the LSU team everyone want to jump over BC in the rankings is always playing from behind it seems.

The past 4 games for LSU have been Pepto-Bismal affairs. Easily LSU could have lost any of the 4 games (similar to the stumbles the pundit favorite Florida Gators have taken). I ask the simple question - on a neutral field who would win versus the Florida State Seminoles and the Kentucky Wildcats? I think that would be a pretty even game and yet just watch as the "experts" use BC's loss as proof they they don't belong with the big boys while at the same time dismissing LSU's loss to Kentucky as an aberration.

Let me also ask who would win on a neutral field between the 6-3 Florida State and the 6-3 California Golden Bears. Cal was the one team to beat Oregon - another team the "experts" will leap frog over BC in the polls. Really wouldn't a Florida State / Cal game be about even? Why then is the Oregon loss looked at as an aberration while BC's loss will be proof that they are over their head?

Just remember that these are the same "experts" who had the preseason polls so utterly wrong. Also remember not to count out BC and Matt Ryan. Look for BC to take Maryland to the woodshed next week and look for Ryan to have another 400-yard passing night to boot.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Ask's Page 2

Have a problem you just can't find a solution to? We've all been there, but why worry about it when all you need do to solve all your problems is Ask's Page 2?

Take a read as the sage wisdom flows from the collective wit and wisdom of the guys hired but really don't want people reading:

Dear Page 2:

When Page 2 first started it was great. You had Hunter S. Thompson, Bill Simmons and David Halberstam. Now its Bill Simmons and a bunch of guys who I've never heard of and who have never been in my kitchen. I guess my question is how did you guys manage to go from so good to so bad in such a short time period?
-- You Guys Really Suck

You Guys Really Suck

We have to disagree with your premise. Page 2 has simply evolved over the years. Sure we used to have big names in the past and lots of daily traffic but now its not uncommon for some of our stuff to have no byline. A collective effort if you will. We think that the quantity of writers on Page 2 more than makes up for the quality.
-- Page 2

Dear Page 2:

Talentless hacks with no sense of humor say what?
-- Flaming Page of Poo

Flaming Page of Poo

-- Page 2
Dear Page 2;

I absolutely love your ongoing faux tribute to the great Andy Kaufman with your Jim Caple stunt. Andy used to go on stage and do really strange stuff that made no sense. He did it as his own private joke. At first I thought Jim Caple's writing was incredibly bad and that his humor was non-existent. Then I realized that he had to be doing this on purpose. I mean nobody could be that tone deaf to humor. Now you've staged Caple's disappearance (just like people think Andy staged his own death). Kudos for the "inside" joke.
-- Singing the Mighty Mouse Theme in Athens

Singing the Mighty Mouse Theme in Athens

We don't know what you are talking about. Jim Caple is a fine writer and he continues to write for us. In fact we consider his type of sense of humor the measuring stick for which all new hires are measured.
-- Page 2

Dear Page 2;

Why don't you guys keep Bill Simmons, fire everyone else and then use the money you save to buy Deadspin? I mean at least then you'll be relevant again.
-- Page 2 is So Unfunny

Page 2;

We really would prefer not to think about that idea.
-- Page 2

(The idea for this post came from this no by-line piece of crap I read this morning. Every time I read something from page 2 I get upset with myself for wasting that time which I'll never get back.)