Monday, March 31, 2008

Odds to Win NCAA Men's Basketball Championship

Here are the odds to win NCAA's March Madness:

Kansas 3/1

Memphis 29/10

North Carolina 7/4

UCLA 3/1

The odds are fairly even across the board. It's really a coin toss.

Odds via Bodog.
Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

Jay Gibbons was released by the Orioles even though he was still owed $11.9 million. My initial though was "I guess the Orioles thought he was worth the money when he was on the juice but now that he's off it - not so much." Most times you should go with your first gut feeling. I would have to do the math but I think that the Orioles may actually end up paying as much to players who won't suit up for Baltimore this season than Tampa Bay will pay in total payroll... Remember yesterday how I said John Edwards may be angling for the VP slot with his 26 committed delegates as bait? Well read this article and tell me you don't come away thinking the same thing... Michael Gee has an excellent look at Bill Belichick's relationship to the Boston media. Well worth the read.... I haven't seen the History Channel's new show Ax Men but every time I see a commercial for the show I think of John Steinbeck's quote about lumberjacks: "Years ago when I used to work in the woods it was said of lumber men that they did their logging in the whore house and their sex in the woods." That quote has always just stuck with me.
Morning Music

I've decided to start each morning out with a little music selection for your listening pleasure. We'll see how long this lasts.

- Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros doing Johnny Appleseed. I feel bad starting off with this one because to be honest its hard to top.

- Alice Cooper - Elected. James Carville makes an appearance as the campaign manager. If I were running for President I'd make this my theme song.

- Bruce Springsteen - Jungeland. From back when the band had a rule that if you weren't Jewish then you had to wear a hat.

- U2 - Unforgettable Fire. A U2 song that doesn't get much airplay anymore but one of my favorites. It's funny seeing Bono with his old mullet.

- Sisters of Mercy - This Corrosion. A bad video but a good song. Blast from the 80's. This song was in a movie but I can't remember what movie. Was it Rain Man?

Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Pogues and Joe Strummer - London Calling

I stumbled across this gem and felt I had to post it. This is from Saint Patrick's Day in 1988.

Odds to Win 2008 Presidential Election

Here are the current odds to win the 2008 Presidential Election (via Bodog):

John McCain 21 to 20

Barack Obama 21 to 20

Hillary Clinton 8 to 1

Hillary looks like a sucker bet at this point. If you like John McCain - I think you wait until the Democrats pick their candidate because his odds will get better (betting wise) at that point.
The Democratic Convention

Karl Rove has an excellent look at what may happen at the Democratic convention and what steps the eventual winner should be taking.

One point I found interesting is the fact that John Edwards still has 26 delegates committed to him and those delegates could just prove decisive. It is possible that the price of those delegates may be Edwards inclusion on the ticket as VP. This could win the battle for the Democratic nominee but lose the war. Edwards is not looked on favorably by too many people. He is viewed as a phony ambulance chasing lawyer.

If Edwards is the VP choice then John McCain is a lock to win.
Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

When I look at North Carolina's Tyler Hansbrough - I can't help but think of of more athletic Bryant "Big Country" Reeves... On this day in 1867 - the US purchased Alaska from Russia in a deal known as Seward's Folly. I prefer to remember the deal as proof of the importance of a single vote... Veterans Woody Williams and Trot Nixon both received some bad news yesterday. Williams was released by the Astros and plans on retiring. Nixon didn't make the Opening Day roster for the Diamondbacks and will accept a minor league assignment. Nixon has played 11 seasons (it seems like longer than that) and has made over $30 million in his career. Williams played 15 seasons and has the luxury of relaxing and collecting almost $7 million owed to him by the Astros for this season (having already made over $50 million in baseball). I'd "retire" too if I was in his shoes. Nixon was taken by the Red Sox with the 7th pick of the 1993 draft - that was the draft that saw Alex Rodriguez picked first overall.... It was 27 years ago today that President Reagan was shot by John Hinkley Jr. in Hinkley's attempt to get actress Jody Foster to notice him... Heh heh - "Nipplegate"

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Travel Notes

I spent Thursday night and Friday in rural northern New Jersey in a town called Vernon (technically the Township of Vernon). I stayed at the Alpine Haus bed and breakfast which was a great change from the sameness of staying at the Marriotts or Hiltons of the world all the time.

My room was very comfortable. Complete with wireless Internet and my own bathroom (many people are hesitant about staying at bed and breakfasts because not all have private bathrooms). Breakfast was unreal with a fresh muffin, fresh fruit and freshly prepared French toast stuffed with raspberry cream cheese. With bacon! I heartily recommend the Alpine Haus.

The night before I had dinner at the Vernon Inn. The place is more of a bar with pub food than anything and it is one of those places where everyone has known each other all their lives. It fit my needs perfectly because I was just looking for someplace to grab a quick bite while having a couple of beers watching the NCAA games. (I later found out that the place is supposed to be haunted!)

What caught my attention though was the music. It was great. A mix of music as good as you’d find in any Manhattan bar including a song that really caught my attention by Phish called Chalkdust Torture. The variety was via an Internet Jukebox with the selections made by the people at the bar.

I got to thinking of how great technology is. A bar in a rural town now has access to the same songs you’d hear at the hottest LA clubs. Because I’m me – I also started thinking about how this technology could be used to screw with people.

My mind wandered during timeouts in the Xavier / West Virginia game to thoughts of how just $5 and a selection of nothing but Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra could really change the mood of the bar from everyone having a good time to everyone wondering if they were somehow transported to a community room at a retirement community on BINGO night.

The funny thing (funny inside joke funny) is that you really couldn’t get mad at someone for playing Dean Martin or Frank Sinatra songs. It’s not like you’d be playing Barry Manilow or Barbara Streisand. People would just be forced to use a Bobby Knight phrase – sit back and try to enjoy it. Of course I’d have to also play the Liza Minelli version of New York, New York just to screw with any Yankee fans in the bar.

I guess someone must have been thinking along the same lines as me because suddenly it went from a very interesting mix to 80’s kitsch.

You had Hammertime, Bell Biv Devoe singing Poison (as an aside if Bel Biv Devoe was a MLB player – they would be either Bobby Crosby or Bill Hall), Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton singing Islands in the Stream and Jenny (867-5309). All that was missing was The Humpty Dance or De-Lite singing The Grove is in the Heart.

Everyone had a good time though. Except I guess West Virginia who lost the game because they couldn’t hit any free throws at the end of the game.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

A Very Good Question

Excellent question - what does become of the massive porn collection?

And of course I do have to mention that it is only fitting that a member of the "Yankees" would have a massive porn collection.
The Only Explanation

Recently there have been some hijinks over at's baseball transaction page. Many people caught the inclusion of the deceased Corey Lidle being activated by the Blue Jays but few people caught the Yankee transaction of adding Felix Heredia who hasn't played a game since the 2005 season.

You can see both transactions listed in this screen grab via David Scott. says that they use a third party company for these transactions but declined to blame that company for the mistake (they were only addressing the Lidle issue).

The way I see it - the most likely explanation is not some software glitch but instead just a couple of guys goofing around. I can see two guys at that third party company talking about their favorite teams. One guy is probably a Yankees fan and one guy a Blue Jays fan.

The Blue Jay fan maybe made a comment about the Yankee bullpen being awful. So awful that a guy like Felix Heredia who's been out of baseball could probably improve the situation. So for a laugh the Blue Jay guy tosses in a joke transaction just to tweak his Yankee fan co-worker.

The Yankee fan, not to be out-done, thinks that the Blue Jay pitchers are a bunch of stiffs and who's a bigger stiff than Corey Lidle (groan). He tries to one-up the Blue Jay guy but the "joke" was just too noticeable and they get caught.

If it was just Felix Heredia - this probably would have gone by mostly un-noticed. I wouldn't be surprised if these guys had been doing this off and on for a long time.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Phillies Flow

Just as an FYI - I've added to the blogroll.

Combined with Balls, Sticks and Stuff - you'd have your Philadelphia Phillies jones met on a daily basis.

Good stuff at both blogs.

Having said that - Go Braves!

Just kidding.
Red Sox Game 2 in Japan Live Blog

6:00 - Tokyo is the world's largest city? I hadn't realized that. I'm looking forward to seeing how Jon Lester looks tonight. I haven't always been a believer in Lester but I'm coming around.

6:09 - I just realized that I wrote "tonight" when it's actually morning. I guess the fact that it's night in Japan coupled with the fact that the sun hasn't risen yet coupled with the fact that I haven't had any coffee yet has me confused.

6:16 - Rich Harden has a no-hitter going! He lost the perfect game by walking Ortiz though.

6:25 - Jon Lester has a no-hitter going too! He lost his perfect game with a walk in the first too though.

6:33 - Rich Harden keeps his no-hitter bid alive with a 1-2-3 second inning. This may only interest me and it's no secret that Kevin Cash is no wizard at the plate but I found it interesting that last year in Pawtucket (AAA) he hit just .176 in 176 at bats. Symmetry.

6:48 - Jon Lester loses both his no-hitter and shut-out as the A's take a 1-0 lead. I was reading Alex Beam's review of the HBO series John Adams during the inning. Glad to see he mentioned John Bell's blog Boston 1775. I've had that blog on my blogroll for over a year.

7:03 - Rich Harden has his no-hitter still intact after 3 innings and I have my first cup of coffee in the morning.

7:10 - I should note that Coco Crisp is playing today in place of Jacoby Ellsbury. I think this is because Terry Francona wants to get Crisp a start and also because Crisp has had some success against Harden in the past (2-6). Emil Brown hits a 3-run blast and the A's take a 4-0 lead. I'm going to take this opportunity to see if Emil Brown is taken in any of my fantasy baseball leagues.

7:29 - Harden loses his no-hitter but now has 7 K's. He's looking sharp. I can't wait for the Sox to get into the A's bullpen.

7:33 - I'm assuming that if I were listening to ESPN2's broadcast of the game that I would have heard Steve Phillips talk about how Harden has this year's Cy Young Award wrapped up by now. Middle of the 4th and both pitchers have thrown 73 pitches.

7:48 - Should I be worried that Jason Varitek may be taking batting tips from Kevin Cash? I've been impressed with what I've seen of David Aardsma who has come into the game in relief of Lester. The guy is only 26 and was a top draft pick (22nd pick of the 2003 draft). Manny hits a HR and wins me $20 in my home run pool. Thanks Manny. A's lead 4-1.

8:15 - I'm not sorry to see Rich Harden go. His final line was 6 IP, 1 ER and 9 K's. I also want to take this opportunity to congratulate the UMass basketball team on a great come from behind victory at Syracuse last night. That was an exciting game to watch. My guess is that UMass coach Travis Ford gets a job offer from a bigger program after the season is over. If Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim was a MLB GM - he'd be the White Sox's Kenny Williams.

8:35 - I would not be surprised in the least if Huston Street is either traded or demoted to set-up duty by the A's and that Keith Foulke takes over as closer. I admit that I was surprised both to learn that Foulke is only 11th on the all-time list for saves for the A's (with 43) and that Hall of Famer Left Grove is above him on the list (with 51). Foulke is probably the early favorite for come-back player of the year. A's take a 5-1 lead as we head into the 9th.

9:01 - Alan Embree pitches a scoreless 9th and the Red Sox lose 5-1. For the record - yesterday I had a bacon and cheese omelet and today I had brown bread toast and a banana.

EDIT: Lyford was up and blogging this morning as well.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Red Sox Opening Day Live Blog

6:00 - Ohayou - that's Japanese for "Good morning". It's 6:00 and I haven't brewed the coffee yet but I'm watching the game and will be jotting down some miscellaneous thoughts and observations as I go along.

6:17 - Dice-K takes the mound and instead of being excited for Opening Day I'm just feeling awake. I need the coffee. Oh - I didn't just get up to watch the game - I also had to get up early to make a move in one of my fantasy baseball leagues. I'm in a cash league with 8 guys and you have up to a 1/2 hour before the first game to set your line-up for the week. I decided to drop Freddie Sanchez at 2nd (even though he's one of my favorite players) because he's so injury prone. I had to decide between Kelly Johnson of the Braves and Mark Ellis of the A's as a replacement and of course I went with Kelly Johnson. I bring this up just as Mark Ellis drives one out of the park for a 1-0 A's lead.

6:30 - The A's make it 2-0 and Dice-K is having a hard time with his control. Anime fans still love him though.

6:35 - I just realize that Brandon Moss is starting for JD Drew. I still need my coffee (its brewing) but though it might wake me up I'm not sure it will restore the confidence I had yesterday about JD Drew playing 140 games this year.

6:58 - The A's leave them loaded but lead 2-0. I have my first cup of coffee (YAY! COFFEE!). Just for the heck of it I flipped from NESN to ESPN2 and saw that the game is on blackout. I'm amused by that.

7:15 - My first work email of the day has been crafted and sent.

7:22 - I've now added a Happi coat to the list of things I want. Dice-K seems possessed by the spirit of Matt Young.

7:44 - Just finished a bacon and cheese omelet my wife made for me. I love my wife. And I love bacon.

7:57 - Manny drives in 2 to tie the score. That takes Dice-K off the hook. I'm curious to see if he comes back in the game (at 95 pitches right now). Manny now has 1606 career RBI. That's just 3 behind Goose Goslin for 27th place on the all-time list. Goslin played in the 1920's and 30's. He never hit more than 18 HR and suddenly he hits 37 at age 28 and then 30 at age 30? I think Goslin was on the juice. Moss singles in Manny and the Red Sox take a 3-2 lead. Not only is Dice-K off the hook - he could get a win.

8:15 - Jack Hannahan hits a HR off Kyle Snyder which puts the A's up 4-3 and gives Dice-K a no-decision. I keep thinking Hannahan's name is Hanrahan which makes me think of the move Slap Shot. "Hey Hanrahan - Suzanne's a lesbian. A lesssssbiaaaan."

8:42 - Just thought I'd point out that Kyle Snyder is a former 1st round pick. He was taken with the 7th overall pick in the 1999 draft by the Royals. Josh Hamilton was the first pick and Josh Beckett was the second pick. The Red Sox took Rick Asadoorian with the 17th pick that year. Asadoorian was born in Worcester and started out as an outfielder but was switched to pitcher full-time last season for the AA Chattanooga Lookouts. The Lookouts? What an awful name for a minor league team. EXCELLENT catch by Jacoby Ellsbury!

8:56 - BRANDON MOSS!! Game tied at 4!! How do you say extra innings in Japanese? Huston Street = Heathcliff Slocumb.

9:27 - MANNY! Second big 2-run double of the game for Manny. He's now just 1 RBI behind Goose Goslin. Red Sox now lead 6-4 and the Red Sox are bout to face their third former teamate on the mound (Embree, Foulke and now Lenny DiNardo).

9:50 - Papelbon makes us sweat it out but the Red Sox win 6-5. The Red Sox are now on pace for a 162-0 season.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Bobby Abreu Trade Review

The Hardball Times has a trade review article on the trade that sent Bobby Abreu to the Yankees. I have a hard time calling this a trade since it was really a salary dump.

The one bone I'd have to pick with the analysis is the fact it doesn't mention the opportunity cost to the Yankees. With Abreu on the team (along with the other high priced outfielders like Damon and Matsui) - the Yankees did not go after any big name free agents for the outfield. No Alfonso Soriano, JD Drew or Carlos Lee. Sure Abreu helped them make the playoffs in 2006 but did he cost them in the long run? Abreu's best days are behind him.

Abreu had 19 win shares last year. Lee had 23 win shares last year. Soriano had 22 win shares last year. JD Drew had 12 win shares last season. So both Lee and Soriano probably would have been worth at least one extra win to the team last season. Could it be that the difference between having a Carlos Lee or Soriano in the line-up this year could be the huge difference maker between the Yankees winning the division or possibly missing the playoffs in 2008? Keep in mind that next winter the only real impact free agent outfielder may be Carl Crawford. Too soon to consider the impact of Abreu on the Yankees if you ask me.
Red Sox Preview

Lyford has a nice preview of the 2008 Red Sox up at his site. He pegs the team to win 98-103 games which seems about right. He also gives the "cup half-full" look at what could go wrong.
- Beckett gets hurt
- Lowell crashes
- Manny continues to decline
- Ortiz drops off
- Lester and Buchholz aren't ready
Some things that could balance out these potential pitfalls:
- Dice-K becomes a top level Cy Young contender in his second season
- Jacoby Ellsbury emerges as Ichiro-lite at the top of the order
- Kevin Youkilis finds his power stroke and hits 25+ HR
- Lester wins 15+ games and people start talking about the second coming of Bruce hurst
I just wanted to point out these things because I'm feeling optimistic today.
The Peace Sign and the Dollar Sign

Betsy had a very interesting post about the birthday of the peace sign. I knew that the peace sign just turned 50 but I did not know that the design actually started with a N (for nuclear) and a D (for disarmament) with a circle around it.

That reminded me that the symbol for the US dollar is actually a U (for United) with a S (for States) superimposed on top. The bottom of the U had been dropped years ago and recently people have started just using a single bar through the S but that's what the symbol stands for.
Baseball Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous baseball thoughts and observations.

Call me an optimist because I really think JD Drew will have a good season this year for the Red Sox. I'm predicting he'll hit at least .300 with at least 20 HR and 140 games played. Like I said - call me an optimist... Scott Rolen will be probably be out for at least Opening Day with a torn fingernail and a broken bone in his finger. Many people will automatically think "oh here we go again" regarding the oft-injured Rolen but I think this may actually be a fluke and that Rolen may put together a decent season this year. Hey - I already said I'm an optimist... In 2001 due mostly to injuries to John Valentin and Nomar Garciaparra - a rookie basically came out of nowhere to be the Opening Day starting 3rd baseman for the Red Sox. That rookie was Shea Hillenbrand. It looks like history may be repating itself because due mostly to injuries to Andy LaRoche and Nomar Garciaparra another rookie may be a surprise Opening Day starter at 3rd base. This time though its the Dodgers and the surprise rookie starter may be Blake DeWitt... Speaking of Shea Hillenbrand - it looks like his career is over. Not even the injury depleted Dodgers are ringing him on the phone. I just hope Hillenbrand realizes how luck a guy with his limited talent was to make $20 million playing baseball not to mention somehow making it to not one but two All-Star games... Speaking of rookies getting to start on Opening Day - Rockies will be going with rookie Jason Nix to start at 2nd. I'm taking a flyer on Nix in one of my fantasy baseball teams. He's got some pop in his bat and Rockies rookie middle infielders have been pretty good bets for the past few seasons...

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Best First Dance Ever!

I got a kick out of this. Best wedding first dance ever!

Have you seen that new "With" commercial from Wachovia? What struck me funny was that Diedrich Bader is doing the voice-over narration. Bader is probably best known for playing Oswald on The Drew Carey Show. However, the connection I make is the fact that Wachovia makes me think of money and combined with Bader's voice I think of Bader's character Lawrence from the movie Office Space and what Lawrence would have done if he had a million dollars.

So my mind associates that "With" commercial with "two chicks at the same time." Damn straight. I always wanted to do that, man. And I think if I were a millionaire with Wachovia's money I could hook that up too - 'cause chicks dig dudes with money. That's who I'd be "with" - two chicks at the same time.
Clarence Thomas

One thing that disgusts me is the fact that some of the very same people who will shout "racist" at anyone who criticizes Barack Obama take amusement from making fun of Clarence Thomas in the most tasteless of ways. Seriously - if you took some of their criticisms of Thomas and applied them to Obama - well if it was an elected official who did it - they would be asked to step down.

What got me thinking about Thomas was this very nice profile in the Wall Street Journal. I was surprised to learn that Thomas is a NASCAR fan for example.
Top 5 - Best Basketball Movies

I've meant to do this for a few days now - inspired by this awful list. Anyway - here are what I consider the best all-time 5 movies about basketball.

1. Hoosiers - Gene Hackman was a good motivator but I'm not so sure about his in-game coaching skills.
2. Hoop Dreams - perhaps the best basketball in any basketball movie.
3. Fast Break - Gabe Kaplan was pretty good at hoops but not as good as Bernard King. This movie is usually forgotten when hoops movies are mentioned.
4. Blue Chips - the movie had a premiere in Worcester so it has to be on the list.
5. One on One - I know it's tough buying Robbie Benson as a basketball star but I have a soft spot for this movie.

Love and Basketball is not on the list only because I haven't seen it yet.

Friday, March 21, 2008

A Day at the Science Fair

I found some of these pretty funny.

Don't click the link if you are easily offended.
Barack Obama

Barack Obama is all done. He'll probably squeak out the Democratic nomination but unless John McCain implodes - Obama has no chance in the general election. His core supporters think he did great with his speech on race but for everyone else the words "God damn America" will just stick in the craw. He's all done.

If I was Obama's political adviser I would have had him take a different tack against the Reverend Wright problem. I would have had Obama come out and say something like, "I have to make a confession. When I'm in church I'm not really paying attention to what the pastor is saying. I mean - I just zone out. I could be thinking about the Cubs starting rotation or I could be checking out the women in the congregation but honestly - I'm just not listening to the minster. I'm sorry. I know I should have been paying attention and if I had heard the reverend make some of those comments I would have done something. As it was I was just going to church to please my wife. I'm sorry."

For Obama to win the general election - he needs the support of the "typical white person" and right now the average white guy is kinda pissed off at Obama. However, if he took the tack I suggested he could have saved some ground with the average white guy - many of whom could relate to not really paying attention in church and going just to make the wife happy.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Happy Birthday to Bobby Orr

Today is Bobby Orr's 60th birthday and I'd like to extend my well wishes to one of the three greatest hockey players of all-time and one the the three greatest athletes to ever play in Boston.

I've never met Mr. Orr but a friend tells this story of meeting Bobby Orr in the men's room of a charity golf event. My friend happens to stand at the urinal next to the one Orr is using.

My friend: "Hey Bobby Orr!"

Orr: "That's me."

My friend" "I always thought you'd be bigger."

Orr [not missing a beat - looks down and smiles]: "I'm big where it counts."

Happy birthday number 4.

Check out this chart!

Wow! Excellent work by Gateway Pundit. The raw numbers come from the Congressional Research Service from a report prepared specifically for Congress. Looking further into the report you find that the rate for in-theater deaths for Operation Iraqi Freedom is almost equal to the rate for in-theater deaths from the Persian Gulf War which was hailed at the time for its low cost in terms of loss of life.

I will also say that I have seen reports that suicide is a big problem with the military today but the numbers point out that the worst year for self inflicted deaths during the Bush administration (188 deaths) is still better than each year of the Clinton administration's first term and equal to Clinton's fifth year in office.

I am respectful of the fact that each number listed represents an American serviceman who gave the last full measure of devotion to his country. I just want people to understand the historical perspective. There are more missing in action from the Korean War than there are dead from Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Red Sox Boycott

By now you've probably heard that the Red Sox players were prepared to boycott both yesterday's exhibition game and the trip to Japan if the the coaches and support personnel were not paid the stipend they were PROMISED by MLB. My hat is off to the Red Sox players for taking a stand for their coaches and support people.

There was a time when a man's word was his bond. That doesn't seem to be the case with Bud Selig's baseball operation people. Once a used car salesman - always a used car salesman. This morning the issue is being spun as a "miscommunication" or a "misunderstanding". What it was was an attempted screw-job by MLB. My understanding is that Terry Francona spent his entire Tuesday trying to work this out but it was only when a nationally broadcast boycott reared its head that the front office of baseball agreed to honor their word.

This is akin to buying a car from a used car lot and finding a problem. Even though before the purchase the salesman promised to take care of any mechanical issue you find that the car lot is not willing to fix the problem. Only after going to the lengths of parading in front of the car lot with a sign saying "This place sold me a lemon" and driving off potential new sales do you get any satisfaction.

Monday, March 17, 2008

John Adams

Did you watch the HBO miniseries John Adams which started airing last night? I did. I was looking forward to it because I consider myself somewhat of a history geek.

Let me cut to the chase - unless you are a history geek then you will probably be bored by the series. Sure they have expressive language that sounds almost poetical to modern ears but without the profanity laced tirades that made Deadwood so enjoyable. Sure they have been true to period dress and customs but there is not the occasional nude scenes like from Rome to perk up the attention every once and a while (unless you want to count the brief full frontal nudity of a guy right before he gets tarred and feathered). Since John Adams was not a soldier - there's not even a lot of the violence that helped make Band of Brothers so compelling. No John Adams really is a History Channel set piece with a bigger budget.

There is no arguing that the acting and the cinematography is top notch Emmy-worthy. Just don't expect John Adams to be like Deadwood or Rome. The history is more true but the action is less tame.

I am glad that John Adams is getting his due. He was instrumental in our country gaining independence, however, as others have noted Adams made a much better Founding Father than he did a President. I have always been amazed that given his love of learning that no college or university ever bore his name. I guess maybe being our first one-term President had something to do with that.

I'll watch each and every episode and I'll be starting in on the book today but I just want to warn the casual viewer not to expect too much.
Saint Patrick

Today is Saint Patrick's Day and it should be remembered that Saint Patrick was first and foremost a religious figure. I always found "Saint Patrick's Shield" to be one of the finest examples of religious inspiration ever written. It was called his shield because it gave him the courage to deal with the pagans in Ireland unarmed but unafraid and this really made an impression on the pagans. For those not familiar with what I'm talking about - here it is:
I bind unto myself today the strong name of the trinity, by invocation of the same, the Three in One, the One in Three.

I bind this day to me forever by power of faith Christ's incarnation, his baptism in the Jordan river, his death on the cross for my salvation; his bursting from the spiced tomb, his riding up the heavenly way, his coming at the day of doom I bind unto myself today.

I bind unto myself today the power of God to hold and lead, his eye to watch, his might to stay, his ear to harken to my need, the wisdom of my God to teach, his hand to guide, his shield to ward, the Word of God to give me speech, his heavenly host to be my guard.

Christ be with me, Christ within me, Christ behind me, Christ before me, Christ beside me, Christ to win me; Christ to comfort and restore me; Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ in quiet, Christ in danger, Christ in hearts of all that love me, Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself the name, the strong name of the Trinity, by invocation of the same, the Three in One, and One in Three, of whom all nature hath creation, eternal Father, Spirit, Word; praise to the God of my salvation, salvation is of Christ the Lord!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Baseball Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous baseball thoughts and observations.

At one time Edwin Jackson was THE untouchable pitching prospect in baseball. The Dodgers wouldn't dare trade him for anyone (including Nomar Garciaparra when Nomar was in his prime). Now it seems Jackson isn't well thought of enough to start for Tampa Bay. A cautionary tale about counting on "can't miss" pitching prospects if ever there was one. Note: I should mention that I made pretty good money betting the over in any game Jackson started last year.... Interesting look at Troy Percival's comeback by Jason Stark. Percival could be a decent sleeper pick in fantasy baseball for those so inclined... Congratulations to Daisuke Matsuzaka and his wife Tomoyo on the birth of their second child - a boy. It now looks like Dice-K will pitch the Red Sox's Opening Day game in Japan. I imagine the ovation Dice-K will receive will be tremendous. Once again congratulations (as it Dice-K or his wife will read this)... Do you think the Mariners wish they had a do-over? Seattle released Horacio Ramirez who they traded Rafael Soriano for in December of 2006. Soriano will be the closer for the Braves this season. Hard to imagine but Ramirez's high water mark as a professional will probably be his rookie year when he went 12-4 with a 4.00 ERA.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Kaz's Anal Fissure

Bad news for Astros fans:
Astros second baseman Kaz Matsui is expected to miss four or five days after being diagnosed with a condition known as anal fissure.
An anal fissure is not something I would wish on my worst enemy. Not even Jay S. you prick! (Sorry I take that back - Jay S. deserves eternal anal fissures.)

I must admit that as soon as I hear the words "anal fissure" - I thought of this.
Teenage Steroids

Interesting article on an 18-year old Rangers prospect Matt West who funked a steroids test.

What I found most interesting was the fact that West was signed with a $400,000 bonus out of high school. After taxes - that $400,000 is probably equal to just about the amount of a 4-year full boat scholarship to a major Division 1 university (when you add in all the perks). You have to wonder how many 18-year olders are taking steroids to secure an athletic scholarship. I don't think the NCAA does a whole lot of testing so that number may very well be very high. I don't judge because I'm not sure if knowing what I know now that I wouldn't have juiced in high school if a full boat scholarship was on the line.

Don't be surprised if you start seeing more and more prospects turning down the MLB signing bonus to go to college on a full boat. If you see this trend starting - don't be misled to thinking that it has anything to do with "scholarship" because it may have much more to do with "testing" (and not in the academic sense).
Doug Mirabelli

Doug Mirabelli has been waived by the Red Sox.

As one of the few members of both the 2004 and 2007 Championship teams you would think Mirabelli would have been more popular but even his supporters understand that this move may have been overdue in coming. Mirabelli is the proverbial one-trick pony. He could catch the knuckleball and that is all. He can't hit (just a .202 BA with five HR and 16 RBIs in 114 at-bats last season), he can't run (perhaps the slowest player in the Red Sox system) and he can't even stay healthy.

It may have been this last point that was the deciding factor. Mirabelli just had to be available to catch every fifth day when Tim Wakefield's turn rolled around but last season Mirabelli couldn't manage that so the Red Sox had to sign Kevin Cash. During his stint Cash proved that he could both catch the knuckleball and stay healthy. It says a lot that Cash is even worse with the bat than Mirabelli but Cash is the one they are keeping.

At this point - Mirabelli's detractor's probably outweighed his supporters. My friend Tim, for an example, called Mirabelli "Fat Belly" every time Tim saw Mirabelli step to the plate. When Tim said "Fat Belly" there was no humor in his voice. It was all distaste. I think Mirabelli drew such fan ire for 3 main reasons.

1. He had a huge drop off of efficiency at the plate. His first year with the Red Sox he was touted as a guy who could start for many other teams and who was perhaps the best back-up in baseball. The last two seasons he was a guy who was lucky he could catch one specific pitcher otherwise he'd be out of baseball. By the way - Mirabelli is not Italian for Bob Montgomery.

2. The "I could do that" factor. How many guys sitting on a bar stool looked at Mirabelli and thought "I could be just as bad at the plate and just as slow - damn if I could catch a knuckleball it could have been me on that team." Major league players are supposed to be special not lucky, lucky bastards.

3. Mirabelli represents the dearth of major league ready catching prospects in the Red Sox system. Neither George Kottaras nor Mark Wagner are MLB ready and even though that's no fault of Mirabelli's - he was the lightning rod for that resentment of the hole in the system. I say it's not his fault but the Red Sox did have to trade Josh Bard to get Mirabelli back.

So now the Red Sox will probably break camp with Jason Varitek as the starter and Kevin Cash as the back-up. Kottaras will get more seasoning at Pawtucket and Wagner will do the same in Portland. My dream scenario is that the Red Sox somehow acquire Matt Wieters from the Orioles. I just think it would be perfect if the guy to replace Jason Varitek was another Georgia Tech alum.

EDIT: Curt Schilling says goodbye to Doug Mirabelli.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


Hey - it just occurred to me that today is the 4th anniversary of me starting A Large Regular as a dumping ground for my off beat observations.

My very first post was about Martha Burk being an uber Harpy and the boycott of the Masters being a sham.

I think the post still stand up pretty good even after 4 years.
New Baseball Blog

Jacob Luft has a new blog called Luft On Deck. Good stuff. Be sure to add it to your favorites or subscribe to his RSS feed.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Not sure if I've commented on this before but the final Harry Potter book will be pade into two movies a la Kill Bill. They plan on calling the two films simply Part 1 and Part 2 but I'd suggest calling the first film Hallows and the second film Horcruxes. I would set the break between the two movies at the point where Harry, Hermoine and Ron escape from Malfoy Manor.
Red Sox Spring Training

OK - I'll say it! Even the most die-hard Red Sox fan is having trouble getting excited about spring training this year. Sure we counted down to the day pitchers and catchers reported but once things started it has been one big yawn.

With almost the entire team returning this season and really no positions up for grab or new faces and personalities to learn - its been pretty boring. Not that that's a bad thing. What team wouldn't love to have this sort of stability?

Sure there's been Curt Schilling's injured shoulder and Josh Beckett's back spasms. In the scheme of things, however, those issues are just tempests in a teacup no matter how big a deal the Boston media or ESPN tries to make of them. I mean I heard faux GM Phillips talking about the Red Sox season being in jeapordy. The first pitch of the season hasn't been thrown and chicken little Phillips has the sky falling in on the Red Sox heads. Good thing Red Sox fans aren't buying it.

Last spring training we had the arrival of Dice K and JD Drew. We had questions about second base and whether Coco Crisp was better after playing the end of 2006 with an injured hand. This spring we just wonder if there are any future catchers worth watching in the minor league system and who will get that last spot in the bullpen. Supposedly there is a contest going on for centerfield but come on - everyone knows that job now belongs to Jacoby Ellsbury. How are Red Sox fans supposed to get excited about a contest for the last bullpen spot?

I can't wait for Opening Day but pardon me if I can't get excited for spring training this year.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Mr. Mulcahy's Touchdown Dance

Sean - you need to be stopped before you dance again. Consider this an intervention.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Baseball Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous baseball thoughts and observations.

Jim Edmonds will probably miss Opening Day with a calf strain. I wish there was some casino offering a prop bet about who will miss more games in 2008 - Jim Edmonds or Mike Cameron. I'd say Edmonds misses more games even with Cameron's 25 game suspension... My reaction after reading this was to wonder if the Rays will change the name of their stadium to the Vomitorium. An all-you-can-eat menu including hot dogs, Italian sausage, popcorn, peanuts, nachos and Pepsi products? Where do I sign up?... Dusty Baker wants his players to swing at bad pitches:
"A lot of this on-base percentage is taking away the aggressiveness of some young kids," he said, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. "Most of the time you've got to put handcuffs on a young guy to keep him from swinging. [The young players are] playing good, real good. I'd like to see them more aggressive."
Am I wrong or is that exactly what he's saying? Dusty Baker - I'm sorry Reds fans... Is it wrong that I found it humorous that ESPN has one article titled "Hampton hoping to make triumphant return to mound" and a news bit titled "Hampton leaves game; injury isn't considered serious". According to - Mike Hampton has already made over $106 million in his career. I know this is a contract year for Hampton but I'm doubting he's really money motivated and I won't fall into the trap of thinking this will be a big year for Hampton's comeback... I also found it interesting that Jon Heyman had an article about even the best teams having holes to fill where he rattles off a bunch of the top teams and their needs. Heyman doesn't mention the Red Sox - so either he doesn't consider the reigning World Champs a top team or the Red Sox disprove his contention...

Friday, March 07, 2008

1980 All Over Again

Many people have been making the comparison between this year's Presidential election and what happened in 1968. Personally I think 1980 is the better comparison.

In 1980 the Republicans nominated Ronald Reagan, a conservative from the west whose biggest knock was his age. Reagan had the contest for the Republican nomination locked up well in advance of the Republican convention and was thus able to start campaigning for the general election with a united Republican front. This year John McClain, a Republican from the west whose biggest knock is his age, has things all wrapped up in plenty of time to start campaigning for November.

In 1980 for the Democrats, even though Jimmy Carter was a sitting President, there was a bitter nomination process with Teddy Kennedy making his last hurrah attempt at the Presidency. The contest went right down to the wire with Kennedy famously making perhaps his best speech in defeat at the Democratic Convention. Jimmy Carter still contends that it was the damage done by Kennedy that cost him the election.

No matter if its Hillary or Obama who is nominated for the Democrats this year - if they go down to defeat in November you can be sure they will blame the other just like Carter still blames Kennedy.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Just Like Old Times

The Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers are the two favorites to win the NBA championship. Both teams are listed at 5 to 2 odds.

The Spurs come in at 11 to 2 odds while the Pistons are next at 13 to 2. The only other team I can see winning it all outside those 4 teams is the Suns who are an 8 to 1 shot.
Name that Booze


HT Grouchy Old Cripple
Top 5 - Pink Floyd Songs

Today is David Gilmour's 62nd birthday. In his honor here are what I consider Pink Floyd's top 5 songs.

1. Wish You Were Here
2. Shine on You Crazy Diamond
3. Time
4. Have a Cigar
5. Comfortably Numb
Poker Insurance

This post on providing "insurance" in Texas Hold 'em got me thinking last night. Not only did it get me thinking - it kept me awake thinking. At first the idea appealed to me but once I got to think about it the idea did not seem practical.

What am I talking about? Well do you know how in Blackjack you can buy "insurance" when the dealer shows an Ace? The idea for poker would be similar. When two players are all-in - the players would be able to buy insurance against losing the pot. The cost of the insurance would be based basically the odds of them winning or losing the pot plus a vig for the house.

Jamie uses an example of player 1 all-in with AA and player 2 all-in with KK and the pot size being $1000.
Taking our example and assuming the house wishes to have a 5% 'spread', the dealer would offer a price of $240 to the player with AA and $810 to the player with KK. If both players take the insurance, the house would take in $1050 in revenue and pay out $1000 in insurance to the losing player. But the spread would still apply no matter who takes the insurance.
I am assuming that each player put in approximately $500 into the pot (discounting small and large blinds and any antes for sake of argument). The problem I see is that if player 2 already has $500 in the pot and it costs him $810 to insure the hand - then he's staking $1310 to win $1000. That just doesn't make sense. Player 2 is better off taking his chances with the hand. Player 1, however, does have an incentive to take insurance. If he has $500 invested and the insurance costs him $240 - then he'd be risking $740 to win $1000.

With this in mind - what I'd suggest is the following:

1. Insurance is only available when two players are all-in pre-flop and one of the players has Aces. Insurance would only be available to the player with Aces and the rate would pay 4 to 1 with the player able to insure at an amount up to 25% of the pot (so the most he would get back would be an amount equal to the pot). I'd limit it to Aces instead of any over-pair to simplify things (you don't want the dealer consulting an odds table for every combination).

2. The money paid out in insurance would have to remain on the table and in the game.

I think this would work because if I'm not mistaken Aces will hold up about 75% of the time against a single player. However, people have an awful fear of having their Aces cracked and some would be more than willing to insure on the sure thing. This could be an excellent way for a casino to increase their take from Texas Hold Em and give them incentive to add more tables.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Red Sox Scouts and Marriott Hotels

Yes I'm checking in and can I have... ummm... one of those rooms that overlook the pool?

You may have heard the news about Jesse Levis, the Red Sox scout who was arrested after being accused of:
...committing a lewd act in a hotel room that overlooked the pool where at least two teenage girls saw him
I find some irony in the fact that the story about Jesse Levis broke the same day I got this email from my friend Jim:
Reading some postings on marriott’s new “insider” network community site that’s in Beta. It has tips on where to stay and hot spots near the hotel. I was reading some of the florida ones to see if there were any suggestions of non tourists cool places and I came across this one for a Marriott hotel. It made me laugh
The quote that made Jim laugh?
“Go to Marco Island Marriot....perfect place to relax, see the dolphins, and enjoy all the views...including the soccer mommies by the pool!!!”
Did I mention that the Spring Hill Suites that Jesse Levis was staying at is a Marriott property? I have to wonder if the Red Sox scouting department is writing the reviews for the Marriott site?

Phoebe Cates has just left the pool.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Scary Stuff

This is pretty scary:
The city of Las Vegas has shut down a clinic where up to 40,000 people may have been exposed to hepatitis C and the HIV virus through the reuse of syringes and vials, officials said on Sunday.
The story continues:
Health authorities launched an investigation into the clinic after six former patients were diagnosed with hepatitis. Nurses at the clinic were told "to reuse syringes when administering anesthesia" and "to reuse vials of medication," the city said, citing a probe by public health agencies.
I hope criminal charges are filed against whoever ordered such stupidity.

HT Go Be Rude
Interesting Academy Awards Trivia

Out of the past 16 Academy Awards presented to the best male actor or actress - 10 of them went to actors portraying a real person.

So I guess either truth in indeed more interesting than fiction or the best way for an actor to get critical acclaim is to play a historical person.
Dorchester Heights

On this day in 1774 George Washington fortified Dorchester Heights and placed the cannons taken from Fort Ticonderoga so that the City of Boston and the British troop stationed there were in peril. The move effectively drove the British out of Boston and set in motion the events that would end in American independence from English rule.

For an interesting look at some of the events leading up to fortifying Dorchester Heights - see here.
Strange Dream

I awoke to a strange dream this morning. It involved tanks, Frank Sinatra and an old woman in a wheelchair.

I was in a small town and I was watching the tanks do urban combat maneuvers with Frank Sinatra and some old woman in a wheelchair. We were watching from a parking lot next to a field. The tanks that were practicing were firing on old broken down tanks that were placed around the town. The weird thing (as if the whole thing isn't weird) was that instead of explosive shells or even paint shells - the tanks were firing big black cannon balls which would bounce off the dummy tanks after a direct hit.

There was a dummy tank in the field next to the parking lot we were watching from and neither Frank nor I noticed but every time a tank fired at that dummy tank in the field - the old lady's wheelchair jumped a little from the percussion from the blast. One final blast sent her rolling backwards down a small slope into the field towards the dummy tanks. I rushed to save her but Frank did nothing but watch. I had to duck to avoid the incoming shots from tanks and I had to move the old lady around to avoid the cannonballs as the bounced off the dummy tank.

After much exertion I was able to push the old lady back up the incline and back into the parking lot. I awoke just as I was going after Frank Sinatra to give him a beating for not helping out.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Baseball Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous baseball thoughts and observations.

I'm not sure what I think about the Red Sox signing Bartolo Colon. I know the deal is the proverbial low-risk high reward deal. I like the idea that the Red Sox are not standing pat and are trying to make sure they have both depth and options for the 5th starter. However, I don't like the idea of wasting time on a guy who may be washed up when there are a number of young pitchers who can use as much individual attention from the pitching staff as possible. Attention which is diluted by any time spent on Colon. Supposedly Colon can ask to be released by May 1st if he isn't in the majors... In case you missed it - here is Bill James' article on Craig Biggio that appeared in Slate. I must say that for a guy who likes to let the stats do the talking Bill James can have some selective memory. James talks about souring on Craig Biggio a bit because Biggio hung around to get 3,000 hits and because his defense wasn't that great the last few years. That exact same description could be used for Wade Boggs but yet James has never "soured" on Boggs...
Poker and Foreign Policy

I came across an interesting bit of history the other day.

In 1907 the US Ambassador to Turkey - John Leishman - bought an impressive piece of property in downtown Istanbul to serve as the US embassy. Leishman just assumed that he'd be reimbursed by the US government for the expense of buying the building known as the Palazzo Corpi.

When Leishman returned to Washington he was told the the purchase was considered a personal expense and that he would not be reimbursed. Undaunted Leishman made a deal in which the question of reimbursement would be settled by a game of poker. Leishman beat House Speaker Joseph Cannon at the card table and got his money back.

The Palazzo Corpi was the very first embassy in all of Europe that was owned by the United States and it is also certainly the only US embassy ever won at the poker table.

The US moved into a new embassy in 2003 and possibly just in time:
But the building's vulnerable architecture and location fated it for replacement, and in 2003 the consulate moved to a new building so impregnable that it has been likened to a maximum-security prison. Just a few months later, a terrorist bomb hit the British consulate and London-based HSBC bank, near the Palazzo Corpi in central Istanbul, killing 32 people, including Britain's consul general, Roger Short. One of the suspected perpetrators arrested after the bombing reportedly told investigators that his group would have targeted the American consulate had it not moved to a more secure facility.
As I said - an interesting bit of history.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Red Sox vs. Yankees

It's time to take a look at how the Red Sox and Yankees stack up against each other. I'm a Red Sox fan but I'll try to be objective.

Catcher - as well as Jason Varitek handles the pitching staff and is a clubhouse leader - the edge here has to go to Jorge Posada for his offense. Edge Yankees

1st Base - Jason Giambi is the likely starter at 1st for the Pinstripes but the once feared slugger is now just another guy fighting for a job. For the Red Sox - Kevin Youkilis has the obvious edge in defense as the reigning Gold Glove winner in the AL and is just as good as Giambi at this point with the bat (Youkilis' OPS was almost 50 points higher than Giambi last season). Edge Red Sox

2nd Base - My voice is among the chorus who has predicted that Robinson Cano will someday win a batting title. I'm going to give the edge to the Yankees here but I'm weary of selling Dustin Pedroia short. Edge Yankees

3rd Base - Mike Lowell is a great player and against almost any other team he'd be the clear winner head's up against the opposition's starter. Not the case here against A-Rod though. Edge Yankees

Short - Derek Jeter's Gold Glove is a joke but he does have a clear edge over Julio Lugo. Having said that - I'd look for Lugo to make it close this year by hitting about .280 and matching Jeter in HR. Edge Yankees

Left Field - I'd look for both players to have a bounce back year at the plate but you want Manny Ramirez at the wall, you need Manny Ramirez at that wall. Edge Red Sox

Center Field - Jacoby Ellsbury and Coco Crisp give the Red Sox a clear edge over Melky Cabrera who is not as good as his supporters believe. Melky may not even be as good overall as Coco - never mind Ellsbury who could be a real special player. Edge Red Sox

Right Field - JD Drew has a clear edge in defense over Bobby Abreu and if the .618 Drew slugged in September and October is any indication that he's settled into Boston - then Drew could be the clear winner over Abreu this season. However, I'm not gaging this on wishful thinking. Edge - Tie

DH - Hideki Matsui vs. David Ortiz? Come on. Edge Red Sox

Starter 1 - Josh Beckett vs. Andy Pettitte or Chien-Ming Wang? Come on. Edge Red Sox

Starter 2 - Daisuke Matsuzaka vs. Andy Pettitte or Cien-Ming Wang? I'm going to call this one a tie. Edge - Tie

Starter 3 - Time Wakefield vs. Phil Hughes? Wakefield has the edge in expected number of IP but Hughes could be a special player. Edge - Yankees

Starter 4 - Jon Lester vs. Mike Mussina? I really don't expect Mussina to be in the starting rotation after the All-Star game unless the Yankees have injury problems. Edge Red Sox

Starter 5 - Clay Buchholz vs. Joba Chamberlain? Either one of these guys could be future Cy Young winners. Edge - Tie

Bullpen - the bullpen for the Yankees was their real Achilles heel while the Red Sox may have had the best bullpen in baseball. Not that much has changed. Edge Red Sox

Closer - Mariano Rivera is a Hall of Fame pitcher but his days as the dominant closer in the AL are over. That status now belongs to Jonathan Papelbon. Edge Red Sox

The totals come up Red Sox 8-5-3 and the numbers don't lie.