Saturday, January 31, 2009

Heh Heh

A photo too good not to share.

HT Sports Frog
Offer to Manny

Scott Boras does have at least 2 offers on the table for the services of Manny Ramirez. The Dodgers have offered a 2-year $45 million contract and now Boras has a second offer.

The problem with the second offer is that the GM should have made it a 3-year deal so that Boras could honestly say that he has a 3-year deal on the table instead of making up fictitious offers from non-existent teams.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Super Bowl Bets

OK - here's my plan for the Super Bowl. Let me know what you think. I appreciate the input.

I plan to make the following bets:

Tease Steelers plus over (Steelers -1 and 40.5 over)
Tease Steelers plus under (Steelers -1 and 52.5 under)
Tease Cards plus over (Cards +13 and 40.5 over)
Tease Cards plus under (Cards +13 and 52.5 under)

Cards moneyline +$210

I think it will be a close game and by doing those teases it creates a 12 point window where the Steelers can win by 2 to 12 points and the total score can fall between 41 and 52 points. If the final score falls within those windows - then I win all four teaser bets. I want to point out that this strategy worked two years ago when the Colts played the Bears.

You are guaranteed to win at least one of the four bets and half the time you win two (making it basically a no bet - just juice). Taking the Cardinals and the moneyline is insurance to basically eliminate the risk involved with an Arizona victory.

I also plan to take heads in the coin toss and take Kurt Warner (-24 yards) to have more passing yards than Big Ben.
Einstein in High School

I'm reading Walter Isaacson's biography of Albert Einstein - Einstein: His Life and Universe. One fact popped out at me and made me laugh.

When Einstein graduated from our equivalent of high school - he finished second in his class. The name of the person who was valedictorian is lost to history but I couldn't help but think of someone back then saying something like, "Yeah Einstein was pretty smart in high school but you should have seen this other guy!"

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Joe Stummer: The Future is Unwritten

I was blown away by the Joe Strummer documentary on The Sundance Channel. Blown away.

Here's a review I found on the documentary:
But that's not what Temple ends up with. The Future Is Unwritten is less a eulogy than a wake, and one in which the subject is startlingly present. Strummer started revising his epitaph in the mid-'80s, after his success began to feel like a cosmic joke: He wanted no part of singing "Career Opportunities" to a sold-out stadium, or watching as U.S. bombs labeled "Rock the Casbah" rained on the Middle East. He's shown here in later years, mellow and heavier, presiding over a different kind of tribal bonding: a campfire ritual at the Glastonbury fest that served as a meeting ground for kindred spirits, much as punk first mustered its ragtag army of squatters and misfits.
Now I'll have this song stuck in my head all day (if I'm lucky).

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Warren Zevon

Warren Zevon would have been 62 years old today. In his honor - here's The Wallflowers and Zevon's son Jordan doing a tribute version of Lawyers, Guns and Money

Team Snapshot - Los Angeles Dodgers

When the Dodgers eventually sign Manny Ramirez - they still won't be a team built to win the NL West. The pitching is too thin and too inexperienced. Ned Colleti is a bad GM and under him the farm system has become depleted.

C - Russell Martin is one of the top offensive catchers in baseball and is backed up by one of the worst offensive catchers in baseball - Brad Ausmus.

1st - James Loney is a 30 HR guy. Too bad that's a career mark (32 career HR) - not a potential for him to hit for a season. Loney for all the hype is a just a young Sean Casey.

2nd - Blake DeWitt is the starter but I'd almost prefer his back-up - Mark Loretta.

SS - I like Rafael Furcal but if we are honest with ourselves then you have to admit that he parlayed a small sample size 36 games of hitting .357 into a 3-year $30 million contract. Furcal has been in the bigs since 2000 and has never had a full season batting over .300. I think you are looking at a .285 season out of Furcal - that is if he can stay healthy.

3rd - If the Dodgers don't sign Manny Ramirez - then Casey Blake is probably the likely leader in HR for this team. Let that sink in and then think about the chances of the Dodgers offense leading the team to the NL West title. This fact alone is why I'm sure Manny will eventually sign with the Dodgers.

LF - OK - here's how I see this playing out. The Dodgers sign Manny to a 3-year $75 million contract and then they trade Juan Pierre to the Yankees for flotsam and jetsam to save on Pierre's $8 million contract.

- Matt Kemp budding star.

RF - Andre Ethier is my favorite Dodger because I play poker with his second cousin. Ethier could be a real sleeper in many fantasy baseball leagues.

Starters - The Dodgers season in large part rests on the shoulders of 25-year old Chad Billingsley and 21-year old Clayton Kershaw. If one or both of these guys don't have stellar seasons - then the Dodgers could be sunk. Can you imagine how intimidating the Dodgers young rotation could have been if they managed to sign David Price out of high school when they drafted him in 2004? The Dodgers still haven't answer the major question of how they will replace Derek Lowe's 200 plus innings. Are they counting on Jason Schmidt to bounce back from his shoulder problems? Ned Colleti is a lousy GM.

Bullpen - Does closer Jonathan Broxton really weigh over 300 pounds?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Billy Jack Redux?

This is ironic. The Kennedy's have tried to stop a wind farm on Nantucket but Joe Kennedy II is trying to seize control of a wind farm project in Arizona headed by a group of Navajo Indians.

I have to disagree with Moe Lane that the situation seems like a plot out of Magnum PI or the A-Team. This is clearly a great set-up for a 2009 version of Billy Jack.

Instead of a freedom school for runaways - you have today's social cause du jure - wind farms. The main antagonist in the original movie is the rich son of the local political patriarch - not much needs to be changed there. The original Billy Jack also took place in Arizona. This is perfect! The thing I would suggest though is not to play it as a drama - play it up as a comedy. The real life situation is farce enough but the satire could be pure gold. The big questions would be which actors would you get to play Billy Jack and who would play Joe Kennedy II?

HT Instapundit
Top 5 - Songs with the Word Run or Running in the Title

1. Born to Run - Bruce Springsteen

2. Running Down a Dream - Tom Petty

3. Run Like Hell - Pink Floyd

4. Running on Empty - Jackson Browne

5. Running to Stand Still - U2

Honorable mention:

Running with the Devil - Van Halen
Run Through the Jungle - Credence Clearwater
Running Up that Hill - Kate Bush
Run with the Pack - Bad Company

And a blast from the past:

Keep on Running - Spencer Davis Group
Sad But True

Victor Davis Hanson hits the nail on the head.
The point? I distilled from the press coverage and the crowds and the punditry yesterday that for all too many suddenly a vote for Obama redeems America. Now, to paraphrase Michelle Obama, for the first time in their lives they are apparently proud of the United States. (Had we not had the financial meltdown in mid-September, and had Obama stayed three points back in the polls, would millions have stayed soured on America and now in sullen silence licked their wounds?).

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Inaugural

I'll admit that I did not watch President Obama's speech. I wasn't caught up in the moment. My wife went over a friends house and a bunch of ladies watched the speech together. My kids got to watch the speech at school. Me? I saw that Bravo had a West Wing marathon on all day and I watched that.

Yup - I watched a fake President instead of watching history unfold. I was fine with that.

I do have two observations though.

1. Every time I went out and turned on the radio in the car it seemed like I heard U2's Beautiful Day. The DJ's seemed to be making a political statement.

2. I had a Bible quote stuck in my head all day. It was 1 Samuel 8:18:
"Then you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the LORD will not answer you in that day."
Don't get me wrong. I wasn't thinking that God is going to punish America because we chose Obama as President. I was applying the quote to the Left Wing Netroots people who I think will be sorely disappointed at Obama who is already moving squarely to the center. There will be gnashing of teeth on the far left during the Obama Presidency.
Harry Potter's Recipe for Courage and Success

I like to take away wisdom or at least a better understanding of history from the books I read. That doesn't mean that I only read philosophy or history books. Take the Harry Potter series of books. Here's just something I took away from the books - Harry Potter's recipe for courage and success - you can apply it to business or your personal life:

1. Prepare for the challenge
2. Surround yourself with support
3. Engage in positive self-talk
4. Focus on what is at stake
5. Take appropriate action

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Team Snapshot - Oakland A's

I think it's going to be a tough year to be an A's fan this year. This could be the first year since 1998 that the A's finish in the cellar of the NL West. The bloom seems to be off the rose for Billy Beane and I wonder if others are getting tired of the smug Beane. Maybe he should write another book?

C - Kurt Suzuki hits for average with little power (just 7 HR last season). That seems to be the modus operendi of Oakland catchers but the 7 HR actually represents a huge power upgrade over former Oakland backstop Jason Kendall who hit just 3 HR during the 373 games he played for the A's.

1st - Daric Barton is listed as the starter but if Barton's bat goes quiet the first few months of the season he could easily be replaced on the field by Jason Giambi or another option. Seeing how lists the most similar batter through age 22 as Wally Pipp - the A's may want to take a gamble on his replacement.

2nd - Mark Ellis is the starter at 2nd for the A's - that is until he gets hurt again.

- The curious case of Bobby Crosby. He was placed on waivers by the A's back in December but nobody claimed him because of his $5 million plus salary. The A's tried signing Rafael Furcal but that fell through. Now they are rumored to be interested in Orlando Cabrera. My guess is that Crosby starts the season as the shortstop and I wouldn't be surprised for him to have a career season (he's a free agent at the end of the year).

3rd - Eric Chavez is the starter until he gets hurt again. This guy makes Mark Ellis look like Cal Ripken.

LF - The A's acquired Matt Holiday this offseason and I truly think Holiday will be a bust. I expect him to struggle. His HR numbers will be down and then Holiday will start to press to try and hit HR. This will harm him and make it necessary for the A's to trade him back to the NL. Avoid Matt Holiday in any fantasy baseball drafts. So let it be written - so let it be done.

CF - This is a big question mark. Ryan Sweeney will probably be the starter but he could be just a replacement level player. If I were the A's GM I'd try to make one of two moves - I'd first try to pry Cody Ross from the Marlins or if that didn't work - I'd sign Jim Edmonds to a one year deal. Edmonds would be short money and maybe he could coach some of the younger guys.

RF - Jack Cust - he of the three outcomes - is slated as the starter. My guess is that at some point Jason Giambi is moved to 1st from DH and Cust becomes the DH. That will create an opening for someone like Matt Murton or Travis Buck or someone else.

DH - Jason Giambi

Starters - Justin Duchscherer has a career 3.14 ERA but has never pitched more than 141 innings (and at 31-years old - he's not exactly a prospect). The rest of the rotation is made up of guys who have never been in my kitchen.

Bullpen - The big drama with the A's is who between Brad Ziegler and Joey Devine will win the closer's role? Or will they share it? Joey Devine could be a good sleeper in the late rounds for you fantasy baseball players.
Top 5 - Popular TV Shows that I Have Never Watched

Some shows are unbelievably popular and many people rush home to watch them. I've never been able to get into those shows. Here are 5 popular TV shows which I've never watched even a single episode of.

1. 24 (Nope not a single episode)
2. American Idol (I don't watch ice skating either)
3. Lost (and now they are going back to the island? I don't get it - they should change the name of the show to Reverse Gilligan)
4. Prison Break (shouldn't this show have ended once - you know - they broke out of prison?)
5. Boston Legal (with the word Boston in the title you'd think I'd watch at least once but no)

Monday, January 19, 2009

Origin of the Poolroom

Back in the day before state run lotteries - local bookies would run numbers games and these tickets for the "pool" were often sold in a "poolroom". The numbers would be drawn once or twice a day and in order to fill the time between drawings - the operators at many locations put in billiards tables. Billiards was changed or Americanized by adding pockets and creating the game pocket billiards which we now know simply as pool.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Thought for the Day
An economist is a fellow who knows 101 ways to make love but doesn't have a girl. - Dr. William C. Freund

Friday, January 16, 2009

Gruden Fired

Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden and GM Bruce Allen have been fired. This leads to three immediate questions.

1. Why was Gruden fired? I think it was a combination of things. Gruden was supposed to be an offensive genius but the offense in Tampa Bay has not really done anything under his leadership. The argument can be made that Gruden did what he could with the players he was given which is why Bruce Allen also got the axe. I can't help but think that Brian Billick was also supposed to be an offensive genius when he took the Baltimore job after leading Minnesota to huge points totals as offensive coordinator. Like Billick - Gruden's success was due more to a suffocating defense than anything the "genius" did with the offense. Like Billick - Gruden won a Super Bowl but then his act grew tiresome. Both were fired 7 seasons after winning the ultimate prize. Billick was 60-52 after winning the Super Bowl for the Ravens while Gruden was 45-51 after beating Oakland in the Super Bowl. With Monte Kiffin the leader of the Bucs defense moving on to coach with his son at Tennessee - it was time for a change.

2. Where will Gruden coach next? Brian Billick still hasn't gotten a job since being let go by Baltimore. I wonder if the same fate is in store for Gruden? Gruden has a couple more years on his contract so it would make sense for him to hang loose for a while and maybe sit out a year as a TV analyst (his Chucky shtick should be amusing for 15 minutes or so). Gruden's name will be attached to any current opening and also to many major college openings starting next season. Personally - I'm not sold on Gruden as a coach. He seem to generate more light than heat.

3. Who will replace Gruden? My guess is Bill Cowher. It is said that Cowher's big issue with the Jets job was not being able to name his own GM / personnel director to work with. With Bruce Allen out of the way - the GM job is open.
Team Snapshot - San Francisco Giants

Last season the Giants were 72-90 and this offseason the Giants have been quietly busy trying to improve on that. They added Randy Johnson to bolster the starting rotation, Jeremy Affeldt and Bobby Howry to bolster the bullpen and Edgar Renteria to bolster their standing among Colombian fans I guess.

C - Begie Molina is pretty solid behind the plate. Not the most flashy of players but solid.

1st - Travis Ishikawa is the starter as of now and he could be good, very good or simply replacement level. The Giants will roll the dice on a couple of young players and 1st base seems like one of the spots they will gamble on.

2nd - The Giants will be looking at a youngster at 2nd as well. It could be 26-year old Kevin Frandsen, 26-year old Eugenio Velez or 23-year old Emmanuel Burriss. None of these guys excite me. It wouldn't surprise me if all three are out of baseball in 5 years.

SS - The Giants added Edgar Renteria as a free agent. I'm not a fan of this move. Will anyone be surprised if Renteria's skills completely fall off a cliff this season? If it happens in San Francisco will anyone actually notice? Another reason to dislike the move is because it unceremoniously shunts Omar Vizquel into retirement and Vizquel deserved better than that.

3rd - Going with another prospect it looks like 22-year old Pablo Sandoval will open the season as the starting 3rd baseman.

LF - Fred Lewis looks like he'll be the starter and at 28-years old he's one of the older players we've discussed so far.

CF - The over-paid but always hustling Aaron Rowand is the starter. The never-have-to-ever-pay-for-a-beer-in-Boston Dave Roberts is the back-up.

RF - Randy Winn lead the Giants last year among positional players in Win Shares. He had 22. For the Giants to be successful in 2009 - Winn will need to duplicate that number (very possible since this is Winn's free agency year) but be 3rd or 4th on the team with that same number.

Starting Pitching - This is the key to the teams success. Tim Lincecum has to be Tim Lincecum and produce another Cy Young worthy season. He's followed in the rotation by youngster Matt Cain, oldster Randy Johnson and hipster Barry Zito. That's 6 Cy Young Awards total among those 4 starters. Add in a healthy Noah Lowry and you potentially have a pretty imposing starting rotation.

Bullpen - Brian Wilson had 41 saves last year but he also had a 4.62 ERA. The Giants will probably be involved in a lot of low scoring, close games (because their starting pitching is good but the offense is weak) and the bullpen is an obvious key to their success. To bolster the pullpen the Giants have added Jeremy Affeldt and Bobby Howry.

The NL West could be wide open this season. The three keys for the Giants (in order of importance) are:

1. Starting pitching. They need to get strong seasons from their starters and they need for the starters to remain healthy. If healthy then the starting pitching alone gives them hope.

2. They need for some of the "kids" to be successful. Whether it be 1st, 2nd, 3rd or LF - they need at least two players to emerge as well above average for them to contend for the NL West.

3. They need the bullpen to keep them in games and they need Brian Wilson to emerge as a true closer.

I really can't see any free agent that could substantially alter the team but having said that the team may need to sign just one more free agent to give them flexibility because the Giants really don't have the farm team depth to make a good trade mid-season. Then again - chances are much higher that they will be sellers and not buyers come the All-Star game so maybe they should just save the money and see how the kids perform.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Yankees and Public Funds

There is a hub-bub about the Yankees using public funds to fund the new Yankee Stadium. This recap shows that the Yankees aren't really taking anything away from the city and that it is the city that is really benefiting from the new stadium. That doesn't stop certain elected officials from trying to make this into an issue.

When I read things like this about the new Yankee Stadium and about "public" servants like NYC Comptroller William Thompson Jr. - I can't help but remember that Frank Farrell and William Devery were the first owners of the New York Highlanders which is now the New York Yankees. Farrell and Devery were at one point "public servants" who got rich in part off the graft they made from those duties (Tammany Hall and the NYPD).

Sometimes I wonder if in the past 100-years if we haven't gone from public servants who were much more corrupt but capable to public servants who are less openly corrupt but much more incompetent.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Jim Rice and Andre Dawson - Poster Children for the Clean Player

Nick Cafardo opens today's column with the following:
NEW YORK - Poster child for the clean player?

That's precisely what Jim Rice's legacy might be.
While I agree with the sentiment - I think Jim Rice will be the just the first poster child. The next will be Andre Dawson of whom Ryne Sandberg went out of his way to say the following during Sandberg's own induction speech:
Andre Dawson, the Hawk. No player in baseball history worked harder, suffered more or did it better than Andre Dawson. He's the best I've ever seen. Stand up Hawk. The Hawk. I watched him win MVP for a last place team in 1987 and it was the most unbelievable thing I've ever seen in baseball. He did it the right way, the natural way and he did it in the field and on the bases and in every way, and I hope he will stand up here someday.
Emphasis mine. Jim Rice and Andre Dawson the poster children for "the natural way."

Mark McGwire got the numbers and he also got paid over $74 million during his career. Steroids helped McGwire get his numbers but being clean helped Jim Rice earn the Hall of Fame. Same will be true for Andre Dawson.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Heh Heh

One of the funniest beer commercials ever.
Hemingway's Sweater

This morning I had a dream in which I was at a beach house that was not quite tropic and not quite Cape Cod marshland. The beach house in the dream had been owned by Ernest Hemingway at some point and there were Hemingway mementos all over the place.

A narrator's type voice asked me about Hemingway's sweater. I responded that it was a comfortable rag sweater that was well worn and well loved by Heminwgay. As I said this - the sweater magically appeared and I put it on. It was very comfortable.

But I have no idea why I would be dreaming about Hemingway's sweater in the first place.

Normally my dreams are more like this.
The Hall of Fame Vote

Rickey Henderson and Jim Rice were elected to the Hall of Fame yesterday. I've come to accept the flaws involved in the Hall of Fame voting. How can 28 people leave Rickey Henderson off their ballots? It's because it's a flawed process. How can it take the voters 15 years to decide that Jim Rice is a Hall of Famer? It's because it's a flawed process. How can Jay Bell get 2 Hall of Fame votes? It's because it's a flawed process.

Too bad that the title I Am Third was already used by Gale Sayers for his biography because that title would have been perfect for Jim Rice. He's third in almost every hitting category in Red Sox history behind Ted Williams and Carl Yastrzemski. Rice is also the 3rd best left fielder in Red Sox history behind those two greats. In addition - Jim Rice is the 3rd best player ever to come out of the state of South Carolina (behind Shoeless Joe Jackson and Larry Doby).

Many people will question the election of Jim Rice. I won't argue that the steroids backlash probably helped Rice get elected but I would argue that is the way it should be. Comparing Jim Rice's numbers to steroids era guys had been a huge detriment to Rice's candidacy. When I look at the list of all-time home run hitters - I have to question at least 9 of the players from the steroids era who are ahead of Jim Rice. In his prime was almost always in the top 10 in total bases and top 5 in MVP votes six times. When I saw him play - I said to myself "There's a Hall of Famer" and that to me has always been the key indicator.

I thought that Andre Dawson was also a Hall of Famer when I saw him play and I fully expect Dawson to eventually get to the needed 75% for induction. I have to wonder if Dawson had played for a single team whether he'd have been inducted by now.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Red Sox Moves Vs. Yankees Moves

Big name signings versus under the radar signings. Long term signings versus one-year deals. Big money deals versus short money deals. The moves of the New York Yankees this off-season couldn't be more in contrast to the moves of the Boston Red Sox.

The Yankees added CC Sabathia (7 years and $160 million), AJ Burnett (5 years and $85.5 million) and Mark Teixeira (8 years and $180 million).

The Red Sox added Rocco Baldelli (1 year $500,000), John Smoltz (1 year $5.5 million), Brad Penny (1 year $5 million) and yesterday they signed a 1-year deal with Takashi Saito.

Just as important as who was added is who has been lost. The Yankees lost Mike Mussina and Andy Pettitte meaning AJ Burnett and CC Sabathia would have to win a combined 34 games next season to just replace Mussina's and Pettitte's totals. The Yankees also lost Bobby Abreu and Jason Giambi to free agency. Teixeira is a definite upgrade at first but will his offense along with Nick Swisher offset the production of Giambi and Abreu? Probably - but not by the degree many may expect.

The combination of Smoltz and Penny will replace the production of Bartolo Colon and Paul Byrd (who is still on the roster). This is a big upgrade no matter the health of either player. If the Red Sox get 350 plate appearances from Baldelli then he'll more than equal the contribution they got from Coco Crisp last season. And speaking of Crisp - he's the one major loss from last year's team (I'm assuming the Red Sox re-sign Jason Varitek to a 1 year deal) but Crisp netted them Ramon Ramirez who along with Takashi Saito will provide the Red Sox with a much stronger bullpen.

In short - the Yankees' moves may have made more headlines but the Red Sox moves will translate into more wins and not saddle the team long-term.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Crow Killer

Every once and a while you come across a book that just knocks your socks off. Crow Killer: The Saga of Liver-Eating Johnson is just such a book. Here's the blurb from the back of the book:
Much of the world now knows mountain man John Johnson as Robert Redford in the movie Jeremiah Johnson. The real Johnson was a far cry from the Redford version. Standing 6'2" and weighing nearly 250 pounds, he was a mountain man among mountain men, one of the toughest customers on the western frontier. One morning in 1847 he returned to his Rocky Mountain trapper's cabin to find the remains of his Indian wife and her unborn child, who had been killed by Crow Indians. The discovery made Johnson vow vengeance on the entire Crow nation, and tracking its warriors singly and in groups, he killed 300 of them, scalped them, and ate their livers.
Excellent, excellent read. Buy this book.

Baseball Hall of Fame Vote

Interesting site which is tracking the Hall of Fame votes made public so far.

It looks like Rickey Henderson and Jim Rice will get the votes needed for enshrinement.

I want to point out this vote:
Hal McCoy - Andre Dawson, Bert Blyleven, Jim Rice, Lee Smith, Rickey Henderson
As far as I'm concerned - if Hal McCoy says the guy is a Hall of Famer - then the guy is a Hall of Famer. I wasn't on the Blyleven or Lee Smith bandwagons but who am I to argue with Hal McCoy?

Friday, January 09, 2009

OK - I'll Say It

ESPN has had Damon Huard on to do college football analysis lately. I have to admit that I can't listen to what he has to say because every time I look at his misshapen head and jug ears - all I can think is, "Damn - he looks just like Stewey Griffin."

There - I said it.
Top 5 - BCS Championship Game Thoughts

Here are the major observations I'd make after last night's BCS Championship game.

1. This game easily could have gone the other way. Tim Tebow had 2 interceptions which were the result of poor decisions on his part. Sam Bradford had 2 interceptions but they were flukes. If neither one of Bradford's interceptions occurred then the game is completely different with Oklahoma probably coming out on top.

2. Bob Stoops has to take some of the blame for the loss last night. He got too conservative. Take the first and goal situation in the first half for example. They march all the way down to the 2 yard line and then go away from their normal formation and go into what my friend Sean calls a "Jumbo" package which allowed Florida to bunch up and stuff the run. The Sooners went for it on 4th down in the Jumbo package and lost two yards. My pet peeve is that if you are going to do the Jumbo package from the two-yard line - just do QB sneaks until you get the ball into the end zone. Forward progress makes it impossible to lose yards with a QB sneak in those situations.

3. Tim Tebow will come back to Florida next season and will be a so-so pro football player. Percy Harvin will not be back to Florida and will be a very good pro football player.

4. The Fox announcing team last night was horrible.

5. What we really need is one final matchup between Texas and Florida to settle once and for all which team Jesus would want to win. Call it a battle of faith between Colt McCoy and Tim Tebow. I wonder if Tim asked "WWJD" before he did this:

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Thought for the Day of the falsest of proverbs is that you must lie on the bed that you have made. The experience of life shows that people are constantly doing things which must lead to disaster, and yet by some chance manage to evade the result of their folly. - W. Somerset Maugham
Team Snapshot - Seattle Mariners

I will go out on a limb and say that Seattle will do better next year than this past season's 67-95 record. There I said it!

The team shed under-performing Richie Sexson last season and this off-season they shed often injured closer JJ Putz and never-lived-up-to-expectations Jeremy Reed. They also lost Raul Ibanez who signed a 3-year $30 million deal with the Phillies.

C - Jeff Clement is the better option but Kenji Johjima presents unique issues in marketing (the Mariners have a very large Japanese following not to mention their Japanese ownership). Besides - the Mariners are paying Johjima too much not to play him (3-years $24 million). The King Solomon-like solution may be to move Clement to 1st base.

1st - Russell Branyan is not even a short-term solution never mind long term. My guess is that either Jeff Clement is moved to 1st or a free agent is signed. Adam Dunn could be a good fit here. Dunn could play some 1st, some OF and some DH while Clement could split his time between C and 1st.

2nd - Jose Lopez should be entrenched here. Carlos Triunfel is the Mariners top prospect and will probably take over 2nd in a couple of years.

SS - Yunieski Betancourt is the answer here but an upgrade for offense could go a long way in helping the team win more games.

3rd - Although there have been some trade rumors - I'd look for Adrian Beltre to stay with the M's and put up some good numbers in his free agent year (just like he did with the Dodgers). Beltre still has a great glove and I'd look for a 25 HR / 100 RBI season. Beltre had recent surgery on his thumb and if he stays healthy - then I see him being productive.

RF - Ichiro!

CF - Franklin Gutierrez should get the starting job after being traded for from the Indians. Prospect Greg Halman could be a mid-season option if he performs well early at AA or AAA. Endy Chavez is the wild card here but I expect him to be no better than a 4th outfielder.

LF - Here's the big hole in the Mariner's line-up. Losing Raul Ibanez hurts and that's why Adam Dunn would make good sense as a free agent signing. A trade for Yankee's Hideki Matsui would also work very well both on the field and off for PR purposes. Wladimir Balentien right now is the starting LF and he could be a star in the making but that's what was being said about Jeremy Reed not too long ago.

Starting Pitching - The team doctor and the trainer may be the co-MVP's for the Mariners if they can keep the pitching staff healthy. King Felix Hernandez, Eric Bedard, and Jarrod Washburn should be a solid 1-2-3 IF they can all stay healthy (Washburn solid in the innings eating sense only). The wild card here is Brandon Morrow who could be a number 2 starter or who could be a closer. If he is put into the rotation and is successful then the Mariners could challenge for the AL West (assuming they get some offensive production out of LF - literally and figuratively). The 5th starter could be Aaron Heilman, Carlos Sliver or a player to be named later. If the M's were to go after a Derek Lowe then they really could propel themselves into the AL West mix.

Bullpen - Who will be the closer for the M's? Tyler Walker looks like the front-runner. Brandon Morrow or Aaron Heilman are also options. The Mariners actually have a pretty full bullpen and they could send one or two relievers out for a trade (the Yankees can always use bullpen depth and Hideki Matsui would look good in the OF/DH role for the M's).

The M's lost over $18 million in salary between Raul Ibanez, JJ Putz and Jose Vidro. Some of that money will be lost in arbitration to salary increases to Felix Hernandez and Eric Bedard. There should be plenty left over for at least one major free agent signing such as Adam Dunn, Derek Lowe or a Bobby Abreu. The M's really should spend this money seeing how they already have the salary savings from jettisoning Richie Sexson.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

If I had a Hall of Fame vote - I'd vote for Rickey Henderson, Jim Rice and Andre Dawson.... Terence Stamp (probably best remembered as Sir Larry Wildman in the movie Wall Street) has a brother Chris who was a long time manager of the rock band The Who... Not for nothing but if you just bet the underdogs in all of the bowl games to date - you'd have 18 wins vs 14 losses. Put another way - if you bet $100 per game you'd be up $260 if you factor in the "vig." This doesn't include Notre Dame which opened as a 1.5 point underdog but was a 1.5 point favorite on the day of the game... 1475 days til the end of the Obama Presidency but just 89 til Opening Day in baseball... No actor looks worse running than Liam Neeson. Seriously - he runs like he's trying to hold in a crap... Everyone is talking about how tonight's GMAC Bowl is going to a shootout but I don't know. The over/under right now is 73 points. I may not touch this game at all but if were to place a small wager - it would probably be on the under (just a feeling)...
2009 Sports Calendar

This is interesting. A complete listing of all the major sporting events for the entire year of 2009.

It seems to have everything except the World Ice Golf Championship. Maybe that's because the 2009 dates haven't been released yet?

HT Sportswriting and Editing
Texas Leaves People Unsatisfied

Texas beat Ohio State 24-21 last night and in the process left just about everyone unsatisfied. The people who were supporting them as National Champs - unsatisfied. The Texas fans who bet on them - unsatisfied (the line was Texas -9). Heck - even the Ohio State fans who bet on Ohio State were left unsatisfied (sure they won money but their team still lost).

I thought Texas would win but that it would be a low scoring game (less then 53 points) - if you see what I'm saying between the lines. I was also left feeling unsatisfied. Even thought I wasn't really hurt monetarily by the game - I was still left feeling unsatisfied.

If anything - I was more than a little miffed at Texas. First they couldn't stop the run in the first half and then at half-time their band tries to butcher Stairway to Heaven. It was like black socks and Crocs for me. It left me with a bustle in my hedgerow.

This game managed to leave both Jimmy the Greek and John Phillip Sousa spinning in their graves. It's not the Texas band but here's Michigan's giving you a taste of tastelessness.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Utah as National Champs

A post at The Big Lead spurred me to post about something I was thinking about earlier in the day. Utah won't get the chance but I have to say that I see no way that Utah would be able to beat a Florida, USC, Oklahoma or Texas team this year. No way. That's my personal opinion. It's not something that has been proven on the field of play.

The real reason you won't see a clamoring for Utah being named national champs, though, is because of the opinions of others. Utah as national champs would be a complete slap in the face of the football writers who vote in the AP poll. A poll that did not even have Utah in their Top 25 in the preseason rankings. To acknowledge even a pretext of a possibility of Utah having a claim to the national championship would be to at the same time say that all the voters in the AP poll had their heads so far up their asses as to not even see the potential of a Utah team in the top 25 never mind as national champion. The egos of the sportswriters aren't geared toward admitting their mistakes.

Thus - don't expect many "Utah as national champs" stories coming from anyone soon who votes in the AP poll.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Thought Experiment

Wow - this really clarifies the situation

This thought experiment will stay with me for a long time.

HT Instapundit
Johnny Cash

I don't know why but I woke up with the Johnny Cash song Sunday Morning Coming Down stuck in my head. I didn't have a hangover and I didn't even have a drink yesterday (or the day before for that matter). Yet somehow this song was what my psyche was singing this morning.

That song got me thinking of Alabama 3's under-rated Hello - I'm Johnny Cash.

Both excellent songs. Give a listen to them if you have a minute.
NFL Thoughts


Arizona 30 - Atlanta 24: The line going into the game was Arizona minus 1. When the line was originally set - Atlanta was a 1 point favorite. Arizona was at home with a veteran QB who had won a Super Bowl. Atlanta was on the road with a rookie QB. I wanted to take the Cardinals but I held off on the game because I'm a fan of Matt Ryan and didn't want to be rooting against him. Instead I took the over (51.5). Happy day.

San Diego 23 - Indianapolis 17: You had the veteran QB Peyton Manning versus the combustible Phillip Rivers. You had the solid Tony Dungy coaching against Norv Turner. I thought this was a lock. How does Rivers and Turner beat Peyton and Dungy? Special teams. On punts Indy was consistently pinned back against their own goal line. On kicks San Diego consistently started off with great field position. Indy should have won and covered.

Baltimore vs. Miami: Keep in mind that Miami was a 1 win team last year but that win came against Baltimore. Keep in mind that Miami is at home. Keep in mind that you have a veteran QB matched up against a rookie QB. Now forget all of that because it doesn't matter. Take Baltimore and give the 3 points.

Philadelphia vs Minnesota: Both home teams won and covered yesterday. Both home teams will lose today. Take Philadelphia minus 3. I also like the over in this game (41 points)

Saturday, January 03, 2009


The Gaza Strip is about 140 square miles in area. To get a bit of perspective on how such a small sized "community" (and I use that phrase loosely) has grabbed the attention of the world's leaders - consider the following:

- Winnebago County is in Wisconsin. The total area in the county is 579 square miles which is FOUR times the size of the Gaza Strip. The surface area of the lakes and ponds in Winnebago County is literally greater than the total area of the Gaza Strip.

- Winnebago County is home to the City of Oshkosh which is about 1/3 the size of the Gaza Strip. So imagine if Oshkosh and the surrounding towns decided to kick out anyone who wasn't Christian and not just Christian but a certain denomination of Christian. Now imagine that Oshkosh decided to instead of spending money on infrastructure or feeding the needy that the corrupt leaders of Oshkosh decided instead to spend that money on rockets to lob into Northern Illinois.

How much sympathy would you have when the Illinois National Guard or the US Army came in and leveled Oshkosh? I have no sympathy. My concern in this
"fight" is with the men and women of the IDF.
The Turtle Man

This is bizarrely captivating

It's like a cross between a character from Deliverance and a Kentuckian Steve Irwin. He had his teeth knocked out by a chainsaw.

HT Sports Hump
Top 5 - Truths about Jason Whitlock's Truths

Jason Whitlock has an interesting year-end truth telling column. Here's a few comments of my own on his comments:

1. I agree that in NFL reporting - right now there's Jay Glazer and then everyone else.

2. I'm a huge football fan but I've yet to watch Football Night in America once this year with the sound not turned off. I'm not a Keith Olbermann fan and it's not because of his politics. It's because you know he thinks he's the smartest person in any room he's in and that he never played any sports and that he made Suzy Kolber cry. I can't look at him and not think "Dickhead!" Sure Dan and Keith were great in the 80's but so were Hall and Oates (if you go by hit records). I'm not interested in a Hall and Oates reunion tour any more than I'm interested in Dan and Keith trading inside jokes on prime time. Plus Tiki Barber and Jerome Bettis? Yuk.

3. Bill Simmons deserves all the praise that his supporters give him. He also very often deserves the criticisms he receives. Rick Reilly just deserves all the criticisms he receives.

4. Jason is 100% right about the Sam Cunningham route. Winning does trump whining every day of the week. Success is what matters in sports. I'm really rooting for the MAC teams to make inroads in beating "traditional" powers on a regular basis. Turner Gill should be a coach at a major program. His success will be such that it will be impossible to overlook.

5. Jason is wrong about Charles Barkley being the only major commentator to be "punished" for his views outside his area of expertise. Don Cherry was taken far more to task for his comments about the Iraq War than Barkley has for any of the myriad of subjects he's touched on.

Bonus observation - there's not a heterosexual man in the US who doesn't first stare at Erin Andrews' chest and then only second try to figure out what she's saying. Sorry - that's just the truth.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

New Year's Day Games Predictions

Five big games on today - five big predictions for you.

Outback Bowl - South Carolina vs Iowa (-4): Stephen Garcia and Chris Smelley have the fear of Spurrier hanging over their backs any time either QB is on the field. I don't think that's the motivational tool to get the most out of your QB's. I like Iowa giving the points here. Iowa -4.

Capital One - Georgia (-9) vs. Michigan State: All-time Georgia is 7-2 against Big 10 teams the margin of difference in those games is just 5 points per game. I think Georgia wins this game but the question is whether they can cover the 9 points. SEC vs Big 10? Big edge SEC. The line started at 7 and has been moving up ever since. Currently 87% of the bettors are talking Georgia. I know it may sound stupid but if that number was over 90% then I'd go the other way. As it is - I'm picking Georgia -9.

Gator Bowl - Nebraska vs. Clemson (-1): Lots of people are picking Clemson because they think Dabo Swinney is a magic fix to an under-performing team. I'm not buying into that. I think Nebraska will ball control Clemson into submission. Nebraska +1.

Rose Bowl - Penn St vs. USC (-10)
: People will point out how well Penn State did against Oregon State who beat USC but I think you can throw that out. Some teams just have trouble with certain rivals. USC has trouble with Oregon State the same way Penn State always struggles against Iowa. I think USC wins the game but I'm worried about the spread. A friend of mine like to say that the 11th Commandment is "Thou shall not tease" but I swear I woke up this morning thinking "Hey tease Georgia and USC to get those spreads down." It's as if my mind noodled it though during the night. Tease USC with Georgia.

Orange Bowl - Virginia Tech vs Cincinnati (-2)
: This is a coin flip of a game - so bear with me while I flip a coin (heads for Va Tech and tails for Cinci). Heads it is - take Va Tech and the 2 points.