Friday, February 29, 2008

Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

Happy Leap Year Day!... It occurred to me that if William F. Buckley had an analog in the sports world it would have been Dick Schaap... Something I didn't realize - the Padres will be paying $6 million out of Jim Edmonds' $8 million contract with St. Louis picking up the rest. That $6 million is still more than what the Brewers will pay Mike Cameron this year (2008 $5 million - although Cameron's contract balloons to $10 million next year when Cameron will be eligible to play a full season). Why didn't the Padres just re-sign Mike Cameron? Given the fact that Edmonds has missed 52 and 45 games the last two seasons - that 25-game suspension Cameron is facing seems like small change. I wonder if there is more to the story here... Billy Joel puts on a great concert and I'm guessing that he's going to go out of his way to make this one extra special... Is it me or does it seem strange that both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are so against NAFTA but yet neither are willing to come out with a strong stance against illegal immigration? It's like the Democrats are bizarro Fanny Dooley's from the kid show Zoom (OK that could be an obscure reference but trust me it works pretty well)...
The Number 43

Yesterday at the gym I had locker number 43. This got me thinking.

When I was changing from my work out clothes into my swimming suit - I stared at the locker number and I was stumped trying to think of a player from Boston sports history that wore the number. In Boston certain numbers are associated with certain people - so 33 will always be Larry Bird, 4 will always be Bobby Orr, 9 will always be Ted Williams, etc. The whole time I was in the pool doing laps I tried to think of anyone who could have worn the number 43. I was stumped.

I consider myself a bit of a history buff and of course I know the George W. Bush is our 43rd President and that the atomic bomb was in the air for 43 seconds from the time it was dropped from the Enola Gay till it detonated over Hiroshima. Other than that I was drawing a blank on the number 43. So this morning I looked it up.

I was ticked at myself for not remembering Dennis Eckersley who not only wore 43 for the Red Sox but also made the number famous playing for the A's. To a lesser degree I should have remembered that Kendrick Perkins currently wears 43 for the Boston Celtics.

By the way - Idaho was our 43rd state.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

William F. Buckley Jr.

As a sure sign that God has a sense of humor Keith Olbermann was bumped from the Charlie Rose Show in order for a retrospection of Buckley's appearances on the show. Olbermann is everything that Buckley was not. Snark should not be confused for wit, naming people the worst person in the world is a far cry from explaining the hope for America and knowing how to say big words is no replacement for real intelligence. William F. Buckley made generations of people think. Keith Olbermann on the other hand has only managed to make Suzy Kolber cry.
William F. Buckley Jr.

William F. Buckley Jr. has passed away.

Mr. Buckley was a conservative icon but I must say that he was before my time. There is no denying his intelligence, his humor or his celebrity. Mr. Buckley earned his status as a celebrity the old fashioned way - he earned it. Whether it was through his writings, his magazine or his TV show Firing Line - Mr. Buckley was acknowledged as a man of accomplishment - a conservative heavyweight so to speak.

The boxing metaphor works. Mr. Buckley said that he modeled his show Firing Line on the Friday Night at the Fights. Buckley was a true heavyweight in political commentary and for many years he was the reigning conservative heavyweight champion. Almost all political commentators today are lightweights compared to Buckley (do you think Buckley would have books ghostwritten for him like Tim Russert?). However, like boxing - the golden age has passed for men like Buckley. He will be missed.
Not What I'd Call a Treat

I got a kick out of a sign I saw yesterday. I drove past a McDonald's that had a sign saying:
Treat Yourself today!
Filet O'Fish 2 for $3
Filet O'Fish a treat? I can see calling an ice cream sundae a treat, a six pack of microbrew beer a treat. I can see calling a number of things a treat but Filet O'Fish sandwiches? I would never have thought of that as a treat. I can see thinking of it as intestinal roulette but not a treat. I'm sorry but how sad your life must be if getting a Filet O'Fish qualifies as a treat in your world.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Johnny Cash

Today would have been Johnny Cash's 76th birthday. In his honor - here is the man singing Hurt (his version gives me chills every time I hear it).

Into the Heavens

A very nicely done piece by Gordon Edes.

If you just read one thing today - make it this article.
Baseball Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous baseball thoughts and observations.

Everyone wants to put the Tigers into the elite category of teams in the AL but I wonder if their pitching rotation is really all that great. Sure Justin Verlander is a stud but after him there are lots of question marks. Kenny Rogers is 43 and is not only coming back from an injury plagued season but one where he was awful on the road (5.79 road ERA). Do you really want a 5.00 ERA out of your number 3 starter? That's what you get with Jeremy Bonderman. Speaking of ERA's over 5.00 - how about Dontrelle Willis' 5.17 last year in the NL? Normally there's like a half run jump in ERA for pitchers coming over to the AL - so does that mean that Dontrelle is looking at a 5.67 ERA this year? Nate Robinson has a career 4.60 ERA and if he can match that this year he just may have the second best ERA among the top 5 starters for the Tigers. Oh and have I mentioned that Todd Jones is still the closer for the Tigers? I'm just not sold on this pitching staff getting it done in 2008.... Oh and I should point out that the Tigers are also a very old team. Only Miguel Cabrera and Curtis Granderson among the starters are less than 33-years old. Outside those two - the average age for the other 7 players in the starting batting order is almost 35-years old. It may turn out that the Tigers are one of those teams that just looks great on paper... Is it the pressure of being a hometown hero? Last season Joe Mauer hit just .248 at home for the Twins but a blistering .342 on the road. Maybe Mauer's poor production at the Metrodome has something to do with being occupied with Chelsea Cooley (Miss USA 2005) while at home. Poor guy could be exhausted. Just one of those things that make you say hmmm... Is Jim Thome a Hall of Famer? He could end up this season ahead of Joe DiMaggio and Rod Carew in runs scored. He could easily pass Ted Williams and Willie McCovey in home runs this year. With a good year he could catch or pass Mickey Mantle for career RBI. I used to be on the fense about Jim Thome and the Hall of Fame but I think if he can finish his career up with two decent seasons (not great - just decent) then he will have the numbers that will make it impossible to keep him out...

Monday, February 25, 2008

The Keno Game

I had a lot of fun yesterday playing the Keno game. What is the Keno game you ask? Well let me explain.

Like many states - Massachusetts has Keno. Go into almost any bar or restaurant and you'll see Keno TV's. The Keno game is played by each player picking a number and putting up a dollar. If your number comes up and its the only number from the people playing the Keno game to come up - then you win the pool. If more than one number or no numbers come up - then everyone puts up another dollar and the pot builds.

Yesterday I played in the mother of all Keno games. The pot was huge! There were 18 of us playing and once the pot got to $1,008 it was capped so that the players didn't have to keep putting in the dollar ante. With a game of Keno flashing on the TV every 5 minutes we are also talking about a pretty good investment in time here. Once the game got over 5 hours in length it was decided that if just one number came in - fine. But if just two numbers came in then those two players would split the pot. If more than two numbers came in then the game would continue.

I came very close to winning the pot. The kitty was at $810 and the only numbers to come up were mine (69) and my buddy Steve's (55) who was sitting right next to me. We canceled each other out. In the end two bar regulars won the pot and they were kind enough to each buy a round of drinks for all the players. Just what I needed. After 5 hours sitting around the bar I capped the afternoon off with two shots of Dr. McGillicuddy's.

My friends and I also play the Keno game with an extra wrinkle - the double carryover. If no numbers come up or if everyone's number comes up then $2 is added to the pot by each player instead of just $1 and the kitty grows more quickly.

Perhaps the best part of the Keno game is that the state doesn't see one dime.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Abe Vigoda

Abe Vigoda is alive.

And probably enjoying some birthday cake today as today is his 87th birthday.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Howard Jones

Can I admit that I like the music of Howard Jones without you think me less a man? His music is a guilty pleasure of mine (along with liking the movie You've Got Mail). Howard Jones turned 53 today.

This is my favorite Howard Jones song.
Iwo Jima

63 years ago today.
Baseball Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous baseball thoughts and observations.

Much is being made about Manny Ramirez switching agents to Scott Boras. I don't think it's a big deal. First off the Red Sox hold the options for the next two year so there's leverage for Boras to work with. Secondly Boras has been taking hits - from the botched A-Rod re-signing with the Yankees to the Gary Sheffield legal battles. Boras does not want to alienate the Red Sox since they are home to many of his clients and a big money bidder on any future free agents. I see this move as Manny simply wanting to maximize his endorsement potential. Nothing more. With Manny most things get read too far into and that's the case here... Nomar as Alex Cora? If Nomar does take a utility role this season - I'm guessing he doesn't come back for 2009... Here's a question - is Todd Helton a Hall of Fame player? I'm assuming that you have to think about that for a minute. Consider this though - Helton's career batting average is 4 points higher than Wade Boggs and he will finish probably with 3 times the number of home runs than Wade Boggs. Yet Boggs was considered an automatic and but you have to stop and think about Helton? Oh and Helton has 3 Gold Gloves while the one Boggs won was a joke... Reggie Sanders hasn't hooked on with a club and will probably be all done for his career. Sanders is part of one of my favorite baseball trivia questions, "Name the six players who have both 300 HR and 300 SB?" Obviously Sanders is one with Barry Bonds and his dad being two others. Willie Mays is the fourth. Can you name the other two? Harder than it sounds...

Friday, February 22, 2008

Baseball Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous baseball thoughts and observations.

If you added the salaries of all of the projected starting pitchers for the Pirates with the exception of Matt Morris and multiplied that number by 6 - you still would not have what the Pirates are paying Matt Morris all by himself. In fact you'd still have over $1 million left over. How sick is that?... I'm not sure if there is any truth to the rumor that Thoracic Outlet Syndrome will be renamed Ranger's Disease. Pitcher John Rheinecker has been diagnosed with the ailment which also sidelined Hank Blalock last season. That's just strange... The most interesting thing about the Pirates is the debate over who will be traded first - Jason Bay or Jack Wilson.... Many people are saying that this is the year that Tampa Bay doesn't finish last in the AL East and I agree with that. In fact I think the talent level on the team is such that if they were in the NL Central that they just could be the favorites for that division... Just saying but I think Ryan Church will put up better numbers this year for the Mets than Jason Bay will post for the Pirates. Just a gut feel... Tampa Bay may have changed their name officially from the Devil Rays to just the Rays but their Single A minor league team still retains the old name - the Vero Beach Devil Rays. Strange...

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Baseball Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous baseball thoughts and observations.

I'd expect that the Orioles are not done dealing. I'd guess that the front office has feelers already out on Brian Roberts (is that Cubs deal ever going to happen?), catcher Ramon Hernandez, outfielder Jay Payton and DH Aubrey Huff. Giving Melvin Mora a no-trade clause is perhaps the worst front office move I can remember. Say hello to the 100-loss season this year Oriole fans... Khalil Greene could be the clean-up hitter for the Padres this season. I'm wondering if there are any other teams in baseball with their shortstop hitting in the four hole. Troy Tulowitzki, Hanley Ramirez and Jimmy Rollins are all better hitters than Greene so I'm guessing that Greene hitting clean-up for the Padres is more of a reflection of how weak the Padres line-up is. However, Greene getting all those RBI opportunities could make Greene more valuable for fantasy baseball players.... The Padres are basically banking on old guys (Jim Edmonds and Brian Giles) and guys coming off injuries (Randy Wolf and Mark Prior) to be able to compete in the NL West this season. Now I'm no highly paid GM but that doesn't seem like the recipe to success to me... Strange as it may seem but 45-year old Jamie Moyer could be the key to who wins the NL East this year. If Moyer can give the Phillies 200 IP and an ERA of about 4.50 then he can help keep the Phillies in enough games and keep the bullpen fresh enough to compete with the better starting rotations of the Braves and Mets. If Moyer is able to manage a 15 win season - then he can move into the top 50 in wins on the all-time list. Moyer also needs just 120 strikeouts to tie Tommy John for 47th place on the all-time list. I'd be willing to bet that if Moyer is able to manage those two accomplishments (making the top 50 in wins and tying Tommy John in K's) then the Phillies will have won the NL East...

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


I am reminded of the experiment Commander David Scott performed on the moon during the Apollo 15 landing. Scott took a hammer in one hand and a feather in the other and dropped them at the same time. Both items hit the ground simultaneously. It proved that gravity does effect objects equally. On Earth the feather falls much more slowly than the feather due to air resistance.

It occurred to me that forms of "resistance" can also effect baseball teams in their path to reaching the goal of the playoffs. This resistance can come in the form of distractions, injuries, and the like. If you have two equally talented teams then it reasons that the team with the least resistance is more likely to make it to October baseball.

It can be argued that the Yankees and Red Sox are fairly equally talented. I started wondering which team faces more potential resistance going into the season.

Areas of potential resistance for the Yankees:

- Andy Pettitte has had his offseason completely discombobulated and his mental state has to be questionable. There is no way he's as mentally focused as he should be going into camp. And Pettitte is arguably the team ace.
- Jorge Posada had one of his best years in his career at age 36. Hitting better than 50 points above your previous best could raise eyebrows in this day and age of HGH / steroids. Couple that with Posada's defense of Roger Clemens over Andy Pettitte and I think we've identified another area of potential resistance.
- Jason Giambi is in the final year of his contract and expects to see a lot of time at 1st base this year. Being in a contract year is pressure enough but Giambi will be under the microscope with every error he makes at 1st base. Giambi has handled the pressure before but the resistance here may come from the pitching staff who may not see the benefit to having the aging slugger in the line up at the expense of defense.
- Chien-Ming Wang lost his arbitration case against the Yankees and that's never the harbinger of good feelings.
- Mike Mussina is at the end of his career and no matter how good the upcoming rookie pitchers are sometimes nudging a one-time team ace aside and out of a rotation spot can be bumpy. Combine that with the normal acclimation issues young players have along with the resistance coming from Pettitte and Wang's issues and you have a potential tinderbox.
- Joe Girardi settling in as skipper of the Yankees also brings some potential problems. Everything he does will be compared to the way Joe Torre did things. Girardi might not have the patience or the calm Torre has and he may make resistance worse.

Areas of potential resistance for the Red Sox:

- Curt Schilling's shoulder is already an issue but him not being around may actually lessen resistance as his rotation spot is probably taken up by the number one pitching prospect in baseball in Clay Buchholtz.
- Coco Crisp and Jacoby Ellsbury battling for the starting job in center has the potential to create some resistance. However, if Coco loses the spot there is no reason to believe that he'll make himself a big distraction and I'd guess that Theo would be willing to accommodate a trade.

All in all it seems like there will be a much lower chance of issues outside the lines becoming a drag on the performance of the Yankees than the Red Sox.
Top 5 - J. Geils Band Songs

Today is John Geils 62nd birthday. In his honor here are what I consider the top songs from the J. Geils band.

1. (Ain't Nothin' But a) Houseparty
2. Must Have Got Lost
3. Hard Drivin' Man
4. Detroit Breakdown
5. (tie) Whammer Jammer (tie) Give It To Me

Of course you have to have the live versions of these songs because J. Geils was one of thse bands that were just so much better live than in the studio. And if you think Centerfold or Freeze Frame should be on the list - I say that you really don't know the J. Geils Band. It also goes without saying that the J. Geils band was the best band ever out of Worcester.

John Geils now spends his time restoring classic cars in Ayer, Mass.
Odds to Win 2008 Presidential Election

John McCain has the Republican nomination all but wrapped up but there is still some excitement left in the Democratic race.

Currently Barack Obama is a big favorite to win the nomination at 2 to 11 odds (risk $11 dollars to win just $2). Hillary Clinton is currently a 4-1 underdog (who saw that coming 12 months ago?).

The Democrats are the big favorites to win the 2008 Presidential general election at 4 to 9 odds (risk $9 to win $4) while the Republicans are 11-8 underdogs. I think taking the Republicans would be the smart bet money wise. The odds are sure to tighten the closer we get to the election.

Odds via
Baseball Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous baseball thoughts and observations.

It will be interesting to see if Richie Sexson can turn the power back on this season. Sexson had averaged 36.5 HR in his first 2-years in Seattle but last year dipped to just 21 and his slugging percentage of .399 was 115 points below his career average. Sexson is in the last year of his contract so it will be doubly interesting to see how he does... Kevin Gregg is the highest paid player on the Marlins with his one-year $2.5 million contract. There are 16 players on the Yankees that make more than that... Johan Santana's contract adds a big burden to the Mets payroll but that should be lessened by the fact that potentially they have $41 million coming off the books after this season between Carlos Delgado, Pedro Martinez, Moises Alou and Orlando Hernandez. Of course some of those four players could be back in 2009 but I'm guessing that at least 3 out of 4 will not be with the Mets next season... It will be interesting to compare and contrast Sexson and Delgado this year as both big men are hoping to rebound from off seasons in their contract walk years... The phrase "throwing shit against the wall to see what sticks" seems to fit what the Nationals are doing at spring training. The Nationals seem to have 5 or 6 players vying for each position and the only 2 positions that seem truly locked up are 3rd (Ryan Zimmerman) and closer (Chad Cordero). Every other position seems like like it could be up for grabs and that's especially true for the starting rotation. At the very least it should make the intra-squad games interesting to watch... I'm rooting for Wily Mo Pena of the Nationals to have a big year. I always liked Wily Mo but he's got to contend with Austin Kearns, Elijah Dukes, Lastings Milledge, Ryan Langerhans, Rob Mackowiak and others for playing time...

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Trainspotting - The US Version

It has long been a tradition to take an English made movie or TV show and Americanize it. The most recent glaring example being the TV show The Office which was a re-make of the English version starring Ricky Gervais. When an import from England is Americanized some changes have to me made to account for the differences in culture. For instance the original book and movie Fever Pitch was about soccer but the American version of the movie was about baseball.

I bring this up because it occurred to me that perhaps the best way to capture the current HGH problem in baseball would be to re-make the 1996 English movie Trainspotting. The original story was how a bunch of friends dealt with heroin addiction but the American version could easily have a change in drug of choice.

Two things made me think the re-make could work. First you could rename the main character Clemens instead of Renton but the scene of the main character being sucked down the toilet by his drug use could pretty much remain intact. In fact can you think of anything that better symbolizes the state that "Clemens" currently finds himself in than being literally sucked down a toilet? Plus in the original the main character goes to London for a fresh start - in the remake we can have the main character move to Houston.

Secondly you have the character Tommy in the original movie who was a clean living athlete who gets introduced to drugs by Renton (nee Clemens) and whose life falls apart because of the drugs. In the remake we could call this character Pettitte.

Just using these two things as a starting point could lead to a successful remake if you ask me.

I'm not sure who could play the Begbie character in the re-make.

Sunday, February 17, 2008


An interesting position expressed by Liberal Values:
As an independent, should Obama win the nomination I will vote for him. If there is a race between McCain and Clinton I see primarily negatives in each candidate and would be tempted to stay home. If I do vote, my vote would be up in the air and either candidate would have a chance. However, should Clinton proceed with her attempts to steal the nomination by taking the votes from Michigan and Florida, I would consider defense of the democratic process more important than any of the areas where I disagree with McCain and I would vote for him.
I think this sentiment is fairly common in both the Democratic Party and among "liberals" (including Independents and Libertarians). Should Clinton win the nomination - I think McCain would have to self-destruct to lose. Conversely - If Obama won the nomination - I wouldn't put it past the Clintons to do their best behind the scenes to submarine his chances at winning the White House. Either way - it looks like John McCain will be the next President (assuming he doesn't self-destruct or nominate Harriet Miers as his VP).
The Missouri Compromise and the Birth of the State of Maine

On this date in 1819 Congress passed the “Missouri Compromise” which in effect created the state of Maine.

Prior to 1820 – Maine was part of Massachusetts (with all of the New England coastline being part of Massachusetts from Canada down to Rhode Island). The Missouri Compromise admitted Missouri as a “slave state” which meant that there were then 11 slave states and 10 free states. Maine was broken off from Massachusetts and admitted as a free state to even things off (although it should be noted that the people living in Maine had applied for statehood separately from the issue of Missouri and were heading towards statehood no matter what).

The coast towns of New Hampshire were established as part of New Hampshire as a result of an agreement with Massachusetts just prior to Maine being admitted as a state. Those towns like Hampton and Portsmouth were part of a boundary squabble between Maine and New Hampshire that has long since been forgotten.
Baseball Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous baseball thoughts and observations.

If Jason Schmidt is healthy enough to retake his position in the starting rotation then the Dodgers will actually have one starter too many. I would assume that Esteban Loaiza would be the odd man out and I wouldn't be surprised if he was trade bait. More likely the Dodgers will keep Loaiza as insurance against injury (which would be the prudent move)... Omar Vizquel is going on 41-years old and his contract with the Giants runs through this year and next. I'll be interested to see what happens after 2009 and I wouldn't be surprised if Vizquel was brought back for one more season in 2010. Vizquel is just 402 hits away from 3,000 for his career which means he'll probably be about 100 away going into the 2010 season. You would think that with 11 Gold Gloves (and counting) that also having 3,000 hits should get Vizquel a first ballot entrance into the Hall of Fame... It will be interesting to see what happens with Andy Marte with the Indians. He was supposed to be the starting 3rd baseman by now but the Indians went out and signed Casey Blake to be the 2008 starter. The Indians also used their top draft pick this year on a 3rd baseman - Beau Mills. I'd guess that at this point in time that Coco Crisp would bring a bigger return in a trade than Andy Marte... The real logjam for the Dodgers is in the outfield. Andruw Jones will definitely start in center and Matt Kemp has to play. The third slot should place Juan Pierre in left. That leaves Andre Ethier out in the cold. Let me just say that I'm not a big fan of Juan Pierre and if I were a Dodger fan I'd rather see Ethier get the playing time. Of course for many Dodger fans the veteran player they would like see traded is Nomar Garciappara whose power numbers fell off a cliff last season (just 7 HR and a measly .371 slugging percentage). Dodger fans feel that Nomar is blocking the path for Andy LaRoche. Although with Joe Torre as manager I'd look for him to stick with Nomar and I'd also expect a little uptick in Nomar's numbers this season - say maybe 15 HR... If I were an Indians fan I would be concerned about the starting rotation. On paper they look fine but both CC Sabathia and Paul Byrd will be pitching for new contracts this year and sometimes that pressure gets to a pitcher (see Derek Lowe in 2004). Also Fausto Carmona may have been overused last season and often young players have a difficult time the year after they have been overused. Not saying there will be a problem with any of these three starters but I am saying there are reasons for concern... If I were to predict anything about the 2008 Indians it would be that I would not be surprised if the Indians made a trade deadline deal for a corner outfielder this year.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Josh Beckett

I admit that this picture disturbs me. Disturbs me a lot.

My first thought upon looking at that flab was, "well once you have the C-section it's tough to tighten up those stomach muscles." I'm hoping that there is nothing to be alarmed at and that Beckett can give VBAC birth to a Cy Young Award season this year.

If Beckett stumbles early in the season, however, brace yourself for lots of Eric Cartman references (you have to admit that without the chin hair - he does look like Cartman).

HT Deadspin
Baseball Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous baseball thoughts and observations.

The Cubs are very excited about the arrival of Japanese outfielder Kosuke Fukudome. I think getting Fukudome acclimated to American baseball will be helped greatly by the fact that Lou Piniella was also the manager for Ichiro's first year in the states... What were the Cardinals thinking giving Juan Gonzalez a Spring Training invitation? Do they just want to thumb their noses at the anti-steroid folks? Organizationally -what is the upside? Even if Juan Gone has a great spring where do the Cards play him? Wouldn't that roster spot (assuming Juan Gone makes the team - which is a big assumption and one I'd be willing to bet a ton of dough against) be better off going to top outfield prospect prospect Colby Rasmus?... Maybe the biggest question facing the Cubs going into Spring Training will be "who is the closer?" Kerry Wood looks like the favorite. It could well be that the NL Central is won by the team with the most consistent closer between the Brewers with Eric Gagne and the the Cubs with either Wood or Bobby Howry. Think about it - 2 or 3 blown saves either way could really be the difference. Thank God the Red Sox have Papelbon... I'm predicting the Arizona will win the NL West. They have some real good young players who should have the energy for a long season and with Brandon Webb, Randy Johnson and Dan Haren as their top 3 starters - how can they lose?... If your fantasy baseball league doesn't penalize for strikeouts - the the Diamondbacks Mark Reynolds may be a good later round sleeper pick to fill your 3rd base needs. He projects to be both the Opening Day starter at 3rd base and the cleanup hitter. That means he should get plenty of RBI opportunities and should hit 25-35 HR. I will go so far as to say that if Mark Reynold proves to be a bona fide clean-up hitter (30 HR and 100 RBI) that not only will the Diamondbacks win the NL West - the will win the NL Pennant (as long as 2 of their top 3 starters are healthy going into the playoffs)...

Friday, February 15, 2008

The Roger Clemens Award

Currently the Roger Clemens Award is given to the best pitcher in college baseball. The award was originally called the Rotary Smith Award but was renamed the Roger Clemens Award in 2004. The award is considered the college equivalent of the Cy Young Award.

The NCAA may want to rethink the name of this award or at least their support. Never mind the risk associated with naming an award after a player who was still active at the time - the NCAA should have had issues naming an award after a player who did not complete his degree. The student part of student athlete was clearly missing in Roger Clemens makeup. If that is a message the NCAA really wants to send they they should go right ahead and start paying the athletes.

I know that not every player who wins the Heisman Trophy, for instance, goes on to complete their degree or is a paragon of the NCAA supposed ideals. John Heisman at least was a man worthy of an award named after him.

I suggest re-naming the award after Smokey Joe Wood who was one of the greatest professional pitchers in history (until injury cut his career short in his prime). More importantly, however, Joe Wood served as the head baseball coach at Yale for 20-years. You'd be hard pressed to find anyone who has said anything negative about Joe Wood and players should be honored to receive an award named after such a man.

Roger Clemens was no Smokey Joe Wood as a person.
Making John Holmes Look Like a Piker

This is funny (and safe for work).

HT Sports Frog
The Clemens / McNamee Hearings

Here's a couple of leftover observations from the Clemens / McNamee hearings.

To me one of the clear winners from the hearings was Will McDonough who years before he died labeled Roger Clemens "the Texas Con Man". McDonough seems to have been spot on in his assessment.

A loser in this whole deal has to be the University of Texas. So that's what a University of Texas education looks like on display? Maybe Roger Clemens just misremembered the English classes he took at the University? Clemens performance was bad but I'm still trying to decide whether it was as bad as when Magic Johnson said that he had "attained" the HIV virus.

A point I wished was followed up upon during the testimony was when Roger Clemens spoke of searching Brian McNamee's luggage for evidence of more drugs after McNamee had injected Debbie Clemens in the butt with HGH and she was having some sort of reaction. Clemens said that it wasn't unusual for McNamee to leave his luggage and for Clemens to package it up and send it to him. If McNamee had HGH or illegal steroids in his luggage and Clemens was aware of it - wouldn't Clemens be breaking Federal laws by shipping that luggage over state lines to McNamee?

One final observation but perhaps the one I found hardest to shake during the whole testimony. Charles Scheeler came off as a well spoken, knowledgeable man whenever he answered a question. However, when ever he was listening to a Congressman or to Clemens or McNamee - his body language made him look like Beaker from the Muppet Show.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Top 5 - Peter Gabriel Songs

Today is Peter Gabriel's 58th birthday and in his honor here are what I consider his top 5 songs.

1. Solsbury Hill
2. Red Rain
3. Here Comes the Flood (Shaking the Tree version)
4. In Your Eyes
5. (tie) Big Time (tie) I Have the Touch

Just missing the list San Jacinto, D.I.Y., Come Talk to Me, Love to be Loved and Don't Give Up. For your enjoyment - here's Peter singing Solsbury Hill from 1993.

American Samoa

I am always amazed by how American Samoa is able to produce professional football players. Just consider this snippet of information from a recent article:
There were four native-born American Samoans on opening-day rosters in the NFL this season: Bengals defensive tackle Domata Peko, Bengals defensive end Jonathan Fanene, Dolphins defensive tackle Pail Soliai, and 49ers defensive tackle Isaac Sopoaga. Other players of American Samoan descent currently in the NFL include Seahawks linebacker Lofa Tatupa, Steelers safety Troy Polamalu, Patriots linebacker Junior Seau, and Jets quarterback Marques Tuiasosopo.
Doing a back of the napkin estimate - I'd guess that between those eight players there is a total of about $16 million in salary for next season in the NFL. In these days of skyrocketed pro athlete salaries and contract it is easy to forget just how much money that is. Consider that American Samoa has a population of about 58,000 people and according to the CIA World Handbook the GDP per capita purchasing power is just $5,800 for the average American Samoan. That means that just those eight NFL players make as much comparatively as over 2,700 of their countrymen combined (that's equal to over 15% of the total workforce in American Samoa).

Never mind the economics of the situation. Just consider how unlikely it is that such a small area is able to produce so many great football players. There are 6 high schools on American Samoa. The City of Worcester, Mass has 10 high schools and a population 3 times greater than American Samoa. Yet over the last few years Worcester has produced just one NFL player (Jerry Azumah who technically wasn't even born in Worcester). Never mind the great number of American Samoans who are good enough to play college football each year.

If you know your geography - you know that American Samoa is about halfway between Hawaii and New Zealand. You would also know that American Samoa is just part of the Samoan Islands. The other "half" of the islands was known as Western Samoa and until independence in 1960 had been administered by New Zealand since World War I (prior to that it was a territory of Germany). What I find amusing is that in 1997 Western Samoa changed its name to just Samoa. This is akin to North Dakota changing its name to just Dakota - a move which of course would not sit well with the fine people of South Dakota. This is the case here where the American Samoans still refer to the other islands as Western Samoa.

Getting back to the sports aspect - combined the Samoan Islands have a population of about 210,000 and as successful as American Samoa has been in producing football players - the Western Samoan islands have been equally successful in producing rugby and cricket players (given the New Zealand cultural influence).


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Baseball Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous baseball thoughts and observations.

It looks like rookie Geovany Soto will be the Opening Day starter for the Cubs. Two thoughts on this. First you have to wonder how having a rookie catcher will impact the effectiveness of the pitching staff. People who know praise catchers like Jason Varitek for their ability to handle pitchers and call games. I'm not sure how much stock I put into that but it will be an interesting situation to monitor especially since team ace Carlos Zambrano is a bit of a head strong player who could use some "handling". The second thing to mention is the fact that Soto seems VERY good with the bat. He had 26 HR and hit .353 in 110 games for Iowa last season. He could be an excellent fantasy baseball sleeper pick.... I've always had a soft spot in my heart for Matt Stairs. In the off-season Stairs coaches hockey for John Bapst Memorial High School in Bangor, Maine. You know that has to resonate with Toronto GM JP Riccardi who when he was with the Oakland A's used to spend his off-seasons coaching high school basketball for Holy Name in Worcester, Mass... The experts are pegging the NL Central to be a two team race between the Cubs and Brewers (the Cubs are 10 to 11 favorites to win the NL Central while the Brewers odds are pegged at 9 to 5). The Brewers should be much better defensively this year. The three areas of concern I'd have for the Brewers are Eric Gagne as closer (first he blew-up in Boston and then he gets his name in the Mitchell Report); the starting pitching depth and finally the contract status of JJ Hardy. The team and Hardy have until February 18th to work out a deal before it goes to arbitration. Hardy is asking for $3 million and the team counters with a $2.4 million offer. I'm guessing that a deal is reached within the next week but you never know. If the Brewers let this go to arbitration the lingering bad feelings could be a cloud over the start of the season.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Heh Heh

This joke was too funny not to share.
A short love story in the spirit of Valentines Day:

A man and a woman who had never met before, and were both married to other people, found them selves assigned to the same sleeping room on a Trans-continental train.

Though initially embarrassed and uneasy over sharing a room, they were both very tired and fell asleep quickly..... He in the upper bunk and she in the lower.

At 1:00 AM, the man leaned down and gently woke the woman saying, "Ma'am, I'm sorry to bother you, but would you be willing to reach into the closet to get me a second blanket? I'm awfully cold."

"I have a better idea," she replied. "Just for tonight, let's pretend that we're married."

"Wow! That's a great idea!" he exclaimed.

"Good," she replied. "Get your own fuckin' blanket."

After a moment of silence, he farted.

The End
HT Sports Frog
Roy Scheider

Roy Scheider has died. Most people think of the movie Jaws when they think Roy Scheider. For some reason I think of the movie Marathon Man where Scheider played Dustin Hoffman's brother.

I feel guilty doing this but I do have to comment on the lede from the linked story:
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Roy Scheider, a one-time boxer whose broken nose and pugnacious acting style made him a star in "The French Connection" and who later uttered one of cinematic history's most memorable roles in "Jaws," has died.
How do you "utter" a role? You can utter a line or you can play a role but you don't utter a role.

Like many actors it is sometimes just as interesting to note the roles they didn't play as the roles they did. Scheider was the first choice to play the Robert DeNiro role in The Deer Hunter and also the first choice to play John Rambo in First Blood.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Pimp My Candidate

I was going to call this post, "Do Two Wrongs Make a Right?" I am of course referring the David Shuster MSNBC flap where Shuster got suspended for saying the following about Hillary and Chelsea Clinton:
"There's just something a little bit unseemly to me that Chelsea's out there calling up celebrities, saying support my mom ... doesn't it seem like Chelsea's sort of being pimped out in some weird sort of way?"
I'm of two minds regarding this situation.

In the first place it used to that children of candidates were out of bounds. It also used to be the rule that politics ended at the waters edge in the US. Not any more.

Who can forget both Democratic candidates in 2000 going out of their way to point out that Dick Cheney's daughter was a lesbian? Cheney's daughter wasn't even front and center in the campaign like Chelsea Clinton has been this year. This is the same Chelsea Clinton who has been Page 6 fodder for doing things like hanging out with Maddona, Gwyneth Paltrow and going to Versace fashion shows.

This year she is paraded in campaign commercials wearing sensible clothes playing the role of darling daughter. There does seem to be a disconnect between appearance and reality. Plus if you are going to use your daughter as a campaign prop and that daughter is over 21 - doesn't she become fair game? I have no problem with Chelsea calling her Hollywood friends on behalf of her mom but I guess I do have a problem with the Clinton campaign at the same time having Chelsea play the role of down-to-earth shy doting daughter on TV ads. It's just so phony and its the phoniness that is off-putting.

In regard to Shuster's comment regarding "pimping" - I am reminded of a couple of years ago when my wife walked in on my daughter watching "Pimp My Ride" on MTV. My wife went all Sheila Broflovski until I explained it wasn't what she thought. The word "pimp" has changed and so has its meaning. I also must say that seeing how Bill Clinton tried to persuade the nation that oral sex isn't really sex - the sensitivity to the word "pimp" from the Clintons rings kinda hollow. Millions of kids were exposed to the idea of blow jobs via the nightly news covering the Clinton White House but yet now they get in high dungeon because someone used the word "pimped"? Methinks they doth protest too much.

However, having said that - the discourse in this country has been dumbed down and brought down to the lowest common demoninator and I wouldn't mind seeing the level of dialogue raised to at least an adult level. I'm not holding my breath though. In fact I'm guessing NBC may want to string out this "controversy" so that when the writers come back to SNL that they can have a field day with it.
Baseball Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous baseball thoughts and observations.

It will be interesting to watch how the Atlanta Braves starting rotation shakes out. John Smoltz could be an ace on any team if he remains healthy and avoids arm trouble. Tom Glavine is going to be a great story going back to Atlanta and he's almost guaranteed to give you 200 IP. Tim Hudson seems to have rebounded last year and looks like an ace again. Mike Hampton? Well the thing the Braves have going for them with Hampton is the fact that this is a contract year for Hampton (no way the Braves pick up the $20 million 2009 option) and its funny how a player always seems to come through in his option year. Chuck James is an interesting player. Can he be a frontline starter with a sub 4.00 ERA or will he devolve into a long relief man? If Jair Jurrjens gets a nod in the starting rotation and performs like some people think he can - then the Edgar Renteria deal could be a real steal for the Braves. Yes - the Braves starting rotation will be very interesting to watch this season... When the Angels traded for Jon Garland and then signed Torii Hunter people were "crowning their ass" as the defacto AL West champs. I'm having my doubts. I don't think John Lackey can repeat his 2008 performance. Maybe its just how poorly he's done against the Red Sox that colors my perspective but I just don't see him as a team ace. Then you have Kelvim Escobar's pitching shoulder issues which will keep him out the start of the season. You can almost feel the snowball going down hill for the Angels... Speaking of John Smoltz - it will be interesting if he and Curt Schilling are up for the Hall of Fame at the same time. Both pitchers will have over 200 wins and 3,000 strikeouts and a resume of being two of the best postseason pitchers in history. Smoltz probably has the better shot since it looks like he will outlast Schilling and besides probably having more wins at the end of his career - Smoltz will also have those 154 saves... It seems everyone is saying how the Orioles duped the Astros by trading them Miguel Tejada right before the Mitchell Report came out and I have been one of the people who have been more than willing to point out Tejada's decline over the years and question whether his peak was due to "enhancers". Having said that - I can see Tejada coming back with a 30+ HR, 100+ RBI season this year. He'll be facing NL pitching and Minutemaid Park could be just what the doctor ordered for his HR totals...

Friday, February 08, 2008

Curt Schilling

Curt Schilling is hurt and his shoulder injury will keep him out of spring training and there are reports that he could either miss the entire season or that the injury will basically force his retirement from baseball.

On the surface there goes the idea of a 6-man rotation. However, I would suggest that perhaps the most prudent solution here would indeed be a 6-man starter rotation. I'd give Josh Beckett and Dice-K their regular turns but then parse out the rest of the starts to Tim Wakefield, Jon Lester, Clay Buchholtz and Julian Tavarez.

Follow my reasoning - Beckett is the Ace and you want him to get as many starts as possible and Dice-K wants to pitch as much as possible because he feels that's when he's most effective. Both pitchers should top 200 IP this year. Tim Wakefield is getting old (oh who are we kidding - he's not getting old - he IS old) and keeping his workload down is the best way to keep him effective. In regards to the young studs - Lester and Buchholtz - Tom Verducci recently had an excellent article on the dangers of over-using young pitchers. According to Verducci - the Red Sox should limit Clay Buchholtz to 178 IP this season and Lester to 183 IP. Buchholtz would have been starting at Pawtucket anyway but if you are going to limit his innings - isn't it best to get the most of those innings at the big league level?

That's where Julian Tavarez comes in. He can eat some innings and help keep Wakefield, Lester and Buchholtz fresh during the season. I mention Julian Tavarez but Terry Francona may prefer Kyle Snyder for the role of 6th starter. I wouldn't argue with that.

The available free agents aren't anything to get excited about. Either Tavarez or Snyder would be better options in my opinion. Joe Blanton is available. Would the Red Sox kick the tires there? I doubt it because why would the Red Sox give up 75% of the prospects it would have took to get Santana to get Joe Blanton who isn't 75% the pitcher Johan is? Perhaps the only free agent starter I'd take a gamble on is Josh Fogg because he'd probably come cheap and because he's from nearby Lynn, Mass.

One thing I'd like to stress is the fact that Schilling didn't sign a huge deal with the Red Sox - in fact he took a substantial discount to re-sign with Boston. It should also be pointed out that if Schilling is indeed out for the season then the Red Sox are in a very good position to eat that money. It is less money than they paid to Matt Clement who missed all of last season.

Schilling getting hurt was a surprise to the Red Sox. However, these "surprise" injuries happen all the time in baseball. The Red Sox are in position to hope that such a "surprise" happens to an outfielder for a contending team which would raise the stock in Coco Crisp to return a top starting pitching prospect. Then again - who's to say the outfielder injury doesn't happen to the Red Sox? In that case having Coco as insurance would be perfect.

If the injury is significant enough to end Schilling's career then the question has to be asked, "Is Curt Schilling a Hall of Fame pitcher?" That's a question I'll tackle later. I'm inclined to think because of his age and the past wear and tear (literally) on his arm and shoulder that Curt Schilling has pitched his last game for the Red Sox. If Schilling is able to come back then it will be a pleasant surprise for me. If not - thanks for being a great pitcher for the Red Sox Curt. Thanks for 2004. Thanks for 2007.

Thursday, February 07, 2008


Afghanistan is a land-locked country with over 31 million people. The country is just a little bit smaller in area than Texas but perhaps the saddest fact about Afghanistan is the statistic that the life expectancy for people born there is just over 43 years. To put that in perspective - of the 222 countries in the world where such stats are kept - only 13 countries have worse life expectancy numbers than Afghanistan and all 13 of those countries are in Africa. Only 2.4% of the population of Afghanistan is over 65-years old.

Afghanistan is also one of the poorest countries in the world. The GDP per capita is just $800. That puts them ranked 215th out of 230 nations.

Afghanistan does rank first in one area though - in the production of opium. This to me is perhaps the greatest danger that could be and is being exported from Afghanistan. Not terrorism. Opium. I'm not sure if I've ever seen a terrorist on the streets of Worcester but I damn sure have seen heroin addicts. Not being content with supplying most of the world's raw opium - it now seem Afghan farmers are getting into growing marijuana.

If I was put in charge of the government for a day - I would put a 3 prong plan into effect to fight the opium in Afghanistan becoming heroin on our streets.

1. First I would buy the opium crops. I would have the military run the purchase of the crops along with the DEA. Pay the farmers a fair price for the crops. Use the money we are already spending on foreign aid to pay for the program. Sell the crops at a reasonable price to pharmaceutical companies who legitimately use opium in their medicines. Use the money from the pharmaceuticals to help fund the program. Take whatever crops are left over and burn them.

2. Offer the Afghan farmers an incentive to switch from growing poppy to growing coffee. Whatever the market price for the poppy crop happens to be - pay double that amount for coffee. That would give the farmers incentive to switch crops. Take the coffee purchased and use it to fill government requirements for coffee. Create a Afghan co-op for coffee and market it as freedom fighting coffee. Coffee could easily become the major export for Afghan farmers.

3. Use the military to protect the farmers who work with us by selling us their crops. Also use the military to NAPALM the crops of farmers who still cooperate with the illegal drug traders. At the same time get cooperation from the Islamic leaders on the subject. Having anything to do with opium is against Islamic teachings. There is a loophole about growing the crops for medicinal purposes. Use the teachings of Islam to fight heroin and at the same time bring some measure of prosperity to the Afghan farmers.
The Movies of the 1980's

Strange Culture had a very interesting post. They culled the all the movies made in the 1980's from IMDB's list of the Top 250 movies. Here are the 26.
1. Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980) Top 250: #8
2. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) Top 250: #18
3. The Shining (1980) Top 250: #55
3. Boot, Das (1981) Top 250: #60
4. Aliens (1986) Top 250: #69
5. Raging Bull (1980) Top 250: #71
6. Amadeus (1984) Top 250 #85
7. The Elephant Man (1980) Top 250: #90
8. Full Metal Jacket (1987) Top 250: #93
9. Cinema Paradiso (1988) Top 250: #94
10. Once Upon a Time in America (1984) Top 250: #97
11. Blade Runner (1982) Top 250: #98
12. Ran (1985) Top 250: #105
13. Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983) Top 250: #108
14. Back to the Future (1985) Top 250: #114
15. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) Top 250: #119
16. Die Hard (1988) Top 250: #132
17. Platoon (1986) Top 250: #139
18. The Princess Bride (1987) Top 250: #151
19. Stand by Me (1986) Top 250: #161
20. The Thing (1982) Top 250: #175
21. Scarface (1983) Top 250: #186
22. The Terminator (1984) Top 250 #195
23. Glory (1989) Top 250: #198
24. Hotaru no haka (Grave of the Fireflies) (1988) Top 250: #202
25. A Christmas Story (1983) Top 250: 224
26. Idi I Smotri (Come and See) (1985) Top 250: #231
This morning I wanted to take a closer look at this list and examine what movies were left off and what movies should be taken off.

It's easier for me to start with what should be taken off. I'm not a fan of foreign movies so I'd take them off my list just on principle. That means the Das Boot, Cinema Paradiso, Ran, Hotaru no haka, and Idi I Smotri come off my list. So immediately the list is down to 21 movies.

I'm also the type of person who thinks Casablanca is a much better movie than Citizen Kane. I know that Citizen Kane broke all sorts of new ground in the film business but when I go out to eat - I care about how the food tastes and not how it is "presented." For this reason I'm taking off Raging Bull (what people remember most about that movie are 3 things - 1. it was shot in black and white, 2. DeNiro's physical transformation and 3. the swearing) and Once Upon a Time in America (I love James Woods but this movie was just too damn long). Another movie I hate to take off but it honestly fits into the same category is The Shining. The two things people remember about that movie were that Stanley Kubric directed it and that Jack Nicholson was great in it. Honestly - I find it very easy to flip by The Shining if I see it on TV. Now we are down to 18 movies.

Next to come off the list are what I'd consider one shot wonders. These are movies that may have had an interesting or poignant story to tell but movies that you'd just see once. That means Amadeus, The Elephant Man, Stand By Me and even Glory come off my list. Don't be mad at me for taking these films off the list - I'm not an animal I'm a human being and this human being is now down to 14 movies.

I struggled with this decision but I'm also taking the sequels off my list. That means The Empire Strikes Back, The Return of the Jedi and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade are off my list. It seems only fair since Rocky IV - the movie that ended the Cold War was excluded from the list in the first place (not to mention Rambo: First Blood Part II). That brings us down to 11 movies.

The 1980's signaled a return to (for lack of a better term) the screwball comedy. Movies like Airplane! (1980) and Porky's (1983) were classics. Other screwball movies like Trading Places and The Naked Gun deserve mention as much as some of the other movies that I've taken off the list (honestly if you had to choose between Trading Places and The Elephant Man - which would you watch?). I'm adding Airplane! and Porky's to my list. That brings us back up to 13 movies.

Another movie I'd add to the list would be 1989's Batman. Another great performance by Nicholson but more importantly - it signaled the rise of the superhero movie. How could you leave Batman off a list of movies that defined the 1980's?

Speaking of defining the 1980's - does any movie define the very essence of the 1980's better than Wall Street? So for those of you who are upset that I took off Platoon - here's another Oliver Stone movie being added to the list in its place. That brings us to 15 movies which is a good round number. So I think I'll stop there.

I did think about adding the movie Witness to the list because the 80's were the Harrison Ford decade (like the 70's were the Clint Eastwood decade). However, Harrison already had Raiders of the Lost Ark and Blade Runner on the list - so the Witness is excused.

Being a sports nut - you would also think I'd add either Hoosiers or The Natural or both but I think I'm going to keep my list to 15 movies. So here is my final list of the movies that defined the 1980s"
1. Raiders of the Lost Ark
2. Aliens
3. Full Metal Jacket
4. Blade Runner
5. Back to the Future
6. Die Hard
7. Wall Street
8. Airplane!
9. Batman
10. The Princess Bride
11. Porky's
12. The Thing
13. Scarface
14. The Terminator
15. A Christmas Story

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

The Leaky Pete AKA Gambling and Losing

I thought this was funny (sometimes I do have the sense of humor of an 8-year old).

I've never met Paul Phillips but based upon that above post and this line in his Wikipedia entry:
Phillips is also active amongst internet bulletin boards, plays tournament Scrabble and enjoys listening to They Might Be Giants.
I'll probably root for Phillips if I see him on TV in a tournament (though I understand that he's playing less and less these days).
Barack Obama and Poker

It's interesting that I ran across this post on Barack Obama and poker on Super Tuesday.
Obama’s analytical mind helped him excel at draw, stud, and hold ’em, and also at the sillier, more luck-based variants of the game that other players chose, such as baseball. Yet, even with the beer drinking and cigarette smoking, there were unspoken rules of conduct. When a married lobbyist arrived at a Springfield game with a person described as “an inebriated woman companion who did not acquit herself in a particularly wholesome fashion,” Obama made a face indicating that he wasn’t pleased. Link says that the lobbyist and his date were “quickly whisked out of the place.”
Sounds like Ted Kennedy wouldn't be welcome at that game.

Speaking of Barack Obama and Kennedy - I can see many similarities between Obama and JFK. If elected it would be a sort of changing of the guard just as it was in 1960. JFK really didn't do much as a US Senator either but he had a charisma that made people want to vote for him. Also as a President JFK was very cautious. He didn't do anything with civil rights out of fear of rocking the political boat. JFK didn't go hog wild spending money on liberal programs because he understood that "it's the economy stupid." In fact some of the most effective tax cuts came under JFK.

Obama's poker style seems to indicate that he too would be a cautious President.
Super Tuesday and Dark Energy

No I'm not trying to make some racist joke at Barack Obama's expense. I'm just trying to make an astronomy analogy with the US political process.

Like many people I was very interested in the results from Super Tuesday. So I tried watching Fox News, CNN and MSNBC to get my political jones fix. Exciting it was not. Watching the election results is like watching paint dry. It was so boring that I flipped over to the History Channel to watch a show on dark energy and dark matter (a show I had already seen before).

Scientists believe that dark energy makes up 70% of the universe while dark matter makes up 25% of the universe. We don't even really know what makes up dark energy or dark matter - everything is purely hypothetical. The stuff we do know about only makes up 5% of the universe.

The United States has a population of just over 301 million people. On Super Tuesday 24 states are holding primaries or caucuses. Massachusetts has a population of about 6.5 million people. Looking at the results it occurred to me that it seemed like just 5% of that population was voting. It seemed similar across the board as far as turnout. The rest of the population might as well been dark energy and dark matter.
Bob Knight Retires

Didn't see this coming. Word is that Knight is retiring so that he can spend more time working on his golf game. It's Bob Knight so the language is definitely NSFW!

Freddy Sanchez

Fan favorite Freddy Sanchez has agreed to a multi-year contract with the Pirates. The deal is supposedly 2 guaranteed years and one option year with a total 3-year worth of about $19 million.

Sanchez was originally property of the Red Sox and was a favorite at both triple A Pawtucket and in Boston because of his hard work, hustle and general good guy demeanor. Trading Sanchez ranks up there as perhaps Theo Epstein's greatest mistake (trading for Eric Gagne being another). He traded Sanchez and Mike Gonzalez (career 2.29 ERA and 30 saves) for Jeff Suppan plus Brandon Lyon (flotsam) and Anastacio Martinez (jetsam). Suppan went 3-4 with a 5.57 ERA in 10 starts for the Red Sox before he skedaddled out of town.

Signing Sanchez allows the Pirates to avoid arbitration with any players this year. The Red Sox have just Kevin Youkilis still in the arbitration process and I'd be surprised if Youkilis didn't end up with a deal very similar to the one Sanchez just signed.

Monday, February 04, 2008

The Day After
God its so painful
Something thats so close
And still so far out of reach
The title of the post is from the 80's movie about nuclear war and the above quote is from Tom Petty's song American Girl which he performed at the halftime of Sunday's Super Bowl.

The Day After fits my mindset (and the mindset of many Patriots fans I'm guessing) because today is literally the day after and Patriot Nation has been devastated. However, instead of nuclear bombs it feels more like neutron bombs where all the life has been killed but the buildings remain intact. The Patriots as a team remain pretty much intact assuming Randy Moss re-signs but some of the life, the suore di vive seems to evaporated. Nuked by the Giants on Sunday.

Sometimes humility is an expensive lesson to learn. I had the Patriots and the over Sunday. Today I'm very humble. I knew it was going to be a long day when I took the Pats winning the first quarter (-3) as a prop bet and the Pats failed to score on the last play of the quarter but managed to score on the first play of the second quarter. That set the tone for my day. Thank goodness that I did OK playing cards - so that my donation will be like selling a pint of blood instead of auctioning off one of my kidneys.

I'm guessing the Pats are pretty humble right now as well. Not to take anything away from the Giants but Tom Brady hasn't looked right the past two games. I'm reminded of a couple of years ago when Brady looked "off" at the end of the season and only later did we learn that he had been playing with a sports hernia. The biggest group of Patriots eating humble pie this morning has to be the offensive line. The Giants defensive front destroyed them. The second biggest group dining on crow today has to be the Pats defensive backs who dropped (by my count) 5 passes that easily could have been interceptions and which would have changed Eli Manning from hero to goat. I'd be remiss in not mentioning the Pats coaching which didn't have its A game working yesterday. I have no idea why Bill Belichick didn't have Steven Gostkowski try a field goal late in the 4th quarter. Josh McDaniels play calling probably has anyone with a head coach opening wondering if he's not quite ready for prime time.

Two predictions. First, after reviewing the tape of the game - the Pats will probably target either an offensive lineman with the 7th pick of the draft or trade down for two picks and roll the dice with a defensive back, linebacker or O-lineman. Second, I'm predicting we have seen the last of Bill Belichick in that red hoodie. Ever.

One quote had been circling in my head all week leading up to this game. In 1980 after the USA hockey team had beaten the Russians in the "Miracle on Ice" they still had to beat Finland for the gold medal. After the first period of the game against Finland, Brooks walked into the locker and said, "If you lose this game, you'll take it to your fucking grave." Brooks paused, took a few steps, turned again and said, "Your fucking grave." The Patriots will take Sunday's loss to their fucking graves.

To their fucking graves.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Super Bowl Squares

So I have my Super Bowl squares and my numbers are:

Pats 6 - Giants 9
Pats 4 - Giants 6
Pats 7 - Giants 7
Pats 5 - Giants 9

The payouts for the pools I'm in are good but not earthshaking. I know of two pools run by private golf clubs where the payout is a cool $1 million. That's $10,000 a square with one winner. One of the pools makes a big deal out of presenting the money in cash - they even go out and buy a new briefcase for the cash. Now that's a payday and a half.

I can't imagine treating $10,000 so cavalierly as to drop it on a Super Bowl square. The rich truly are different. I don't know how being that rich must feel but I do know that if I won that $1 million - I'd have a couple of off-duty State troopers with me as body guards when I went to pick up the winnings.

Wish me luck. Go Pats!
Let's Not Make a Deal

John Donovan of SI has a column up on the Red Sox and Indians basically standing pat this offseason. Three things I think Donovan failed to mention:

1. The Red Sox may still make a deal to trade Coco Crisp now that the Santana deal has been finalized. Coco has said that he doesn't want to be a back-up and Theo has been pretty good at making reasonable player requests come true. If Coco is traded then the standing pat theme is kinda busted.

2. The Red Sox will have much lower payroll going into this year. The Sox payroll will be $15-25 million less than last year depending on what they do with Coco Crisp. Most of that money comes from Matt Clement's contract coming off the books.

3. The Red Sox farm system is still chocked full of prospects. Combine that with the reduced payroll and you have the perfect scenario for a mid-season trade.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Arlen Specter is a Creep

Arlen Specter's recent actions toward the NFL are nothing more than an attempt to smear the NFL and a disgusting example of abuse of power.

To drag out an old cliche - I question the timing. Specter raises the issue of a Congressional investigation into the so-called Spygate issue on the Friday before Super Bowl Sunday so now all the talk is about some potential cover-up in the NFL instead of about the biggest game of the year. Are you telling me that Specter couldn't have waited until Monday to raise this question if it was a legitimate issue?

What motive would Arlen Specter have to smear the NFL this way? Well if you consider that his second largest campaign contributor was Comcast - the same Comcast who has been in a very public dispute with the NFL over the carrying and cost of the NFL Network - then I think you would have the potential motive. Arlen Specter is giving the appearance of being nothing more than an attack dog for a corporation who gives him big monetary rewards. "Poke the NFL with a stick Arlen. That's a good boy. Here's a wad of crisp twenties as a Scooby snack."

Then you have to ask - the Judiciary Committee? Really? What in the world does the NFL have to do with the Judiciary Committee? Is Roger Goodell up for a spot on the Federal bench? Specter tosses out the NFL's anti-trust exemption as if it is some sort of justification for his smear but wouldn't something like that fall to the Commerce Committee's purview? Isn't this just a clear example of someone using his elected position to carry out some sort of personal vendetta? A clear abuse of power?

Even if the Judicial Committee did hold hearings - wouldn't Specter have to recuse himself because of his relationship with Comcast? If someone was up for a judgeship before Specter and his committee and had this big a conflict of interest wouldn't the committee berate that person for their questionable ethics if the judge did not recuse himself when the conflict of interest was at these levels?

Arlen Specter raises the question of potential improprieties by the NFL. To quote the Senator, "The American people are entitled to be sure about the integrity of the game." Well I believe that the integrity of the US Senate has more bearing and effect on the American people and therefore I would like to see a hearing into the actions of Arlen Specter and how they relate to who gives him cash.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Steve Martin

Very interesting piece in Smithsonian by Steve Martin on Being Funny.

Obviously Martin has matured from his earlier views that comedy is the ability to make people laugh without making them puke.
Mitt Romney and Bruce Campbell

I pointed out this similarity over a year ago. I still think Romney is missing an opportunity by not hiring Bruce Campbell to do some campaign commercials for him.
Phil Ivey

Happy 32nd birthday to poker pro Phil Ivey. Often he is described as the Tiger Woods of poker but I think that comparison is unfair to both Ivey and Woods. With the death of Chip Reese - Ivey is perhaps the best cash game player in the world. He's a solid player who knows the odds but who is often unpredictable - that makes him dangerous at the felt. I root for Ivey if for no other reason than he's a quiet professional which has sadly become the exception instead of the norm in a poker world of Phil Hellmuth's, Mike Matasow's and Humberto Brenes'.
Baseball Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous baseball thoughts and observations.

Brad Wilkerson signs with Seattle. I think this is a good signing for the Mariners. Wilkerson can play all the outfield positions plus 1st base. However, I can't help remembering that Wilkerson was taken with the 33rd pick in the first round of the 1998 draft and that Aaron Rowand was taken just two picks later. What a big difference in dollars between their two free agent contracts this winter.... Philadelphia fans must be really excited that the Mets look like they will be getting Johan Santana while the Phillies were busy signing Pedro Feliz. My honest to God first thought on hearing this underwhelming news was to think that "there goes any chance of Eric Chavez being traded this offseason. The Phillies were the only team out there who needed a 3rd baseman and who could take on Chavez's contract... I've seen some people point out that another negative for the Twins is the fact that top prospect in the Santana trade - Carlos Gomez is represented by Scott Boras. It should be pointed out that Jacoby Ellsbury is also represented by Boras... The Braves do have pretty good depth when it comes to starting pitchers but I have to think any article that proclaims Mike Hampton to be 100% healthy would be the kiss of death for the fragile pitcher. If I ran a casino - I'd have the over under date for Hampton going back on the DL set for the All-Star game. I'd also give odds for different injuries such as 25-1 for turf-toe, 4-1 on a lower back injury and 2-1 on a hamstring injury... Keith Law has a nice run down on who he considers the top 100 prospects in baseball. Its amazing how many are with Tampa Bay...
Super Bowl Predictions

I've held off of making any predictions this football season - mostly for superstitious reasons. And for that same reason - I won't make a written prediction on this game. However, I will say I can't argue with this line of reasoning from Lyford.

I also think the Cold, Hard Football Facts is usually spot on and I can't find flaw with their analysis.