Friday, December 31, 2004

Amazon Honor System Pay Button

You may have noticed that I have added an Amazon Honor System Pay Button below my webroll. You may have also noticed that I updated the books advertised from Amazon at the top of my blog. Let me tell you my thoughts on these two things.

1. If you like this blog and are so inclined - any donations would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.

2. The books advertised above are part of my reading wishlist. Any money donated to the site will go toward buying those books and I will offer a review of sorts on all the books that I read.

3. If you have a book you think a guy like me should read or would enjoy and would be willing to donate the money to purchase the book - well I'll read it.

4. If you are going to be purchasing any books for yourself - please go to Amazon by clicking any one of the books above. A small portion of your purchases at Amazon will be deposited into my account (either 2% or 1% depending on whether it is new or used). For anything you can purchase from Amazon - I'll get a commission.

Thanks for your help in keeping my blogging fires going.

PS - If you've linked to me on your site (first thank you) and if I haven't added you to my webroll - let me know and I'll rectify that (I'll be updating the webroll in the next couple of days).

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Yankees vs. Red Sox

Yes the Yankees just landed Randy Johnson and I wouldn't be surprised to see them get Carlos Beltran either. They are still not better than the Red Sox.

After reading Buster Olney's column yesterday - I had to remind myself that Buster was the beat reporter on the Yankees for many years and his "like" of the Yankees is well known. My bias is towards the Red Sox (but at least I'm upfront with that). I'll tell you how I see things and you decide.

The way I see it, when looking at the teams position by position - it currently stands:

Red Sox - 4 (first base, second base, left-field and DH)

Yankees - 3 (third base, centerfield and right-field)

Tied - 2 (catcher and shortstop)

This is assuming that the Yankees sign Beltran - otherwise Johnny Damon has it in centerfield all over an aging Bernie Williams. This also grants that catcher and short are equal (arguments can be made by either side).

The Red Sox also have a substantial edge in bench depth with Doug Mirabelli and Jay Payton coming off the bench (probably the best back-up catcher and outfielder in MLB).

Tell me Buster - where is the Yankees' advantage? Is it in the fact that the Yankees will be dealing with Giambi and Sheffield steroid's questions all year? Or do the Red Sox have an advantage in that they now have the curse of the Bambino off their shoulders whereas the Yankees get to be reminded about the greatest choke-job in history all year?

Is it in age? Because the starting line-up for the Red Sox averages 1.1 years less than the Yankees (and is therefore less prone to injury).

Starting pitching? Well lets take a look.

Randy Johnson is a great pitcher. He's coming off a Cy Young type season. The last time the Yankees snagged a pitcher of Johnson's stature (so to speak) was Roger Clemens. When Roger came to the Yankees - he went 14-10 with a 4.60 ERA his first season. You want better from Johnson? Compare how Javier Vazquez did in his last year in the NL vs. what Johnson did this year:

Vazquez: 13-12 / 230 IP / 241 K / 3.24 ERA / ERA+ 154
Johnson: 16-14 / 245 IP / 290 K / 2.60 ERA / ERA+ 171

The guide-post seems to point to about a 15-9 type season with a 4.00 ERA (assuming that Johnson is better at handling NYC than either Clemens or Vazquez in his first year). I'm being generous here. Johnson couldn't do better than Roger head up in the NL this year - how is he going to be better than what Roger was able to do in NYC at age 36 when the Unit will be 41 going into 2005? The year before he arrived in New York - Clemens went 20-6 with a 2.61 ERA.

Do you think Johnson has a 20+ win season in 2005 like his buddy Schilling had with the Red Sox in 2004? Survey says - NO. At best - I'd rate the teams #1 starter as a draw.

The rest of the rotation?

The Yankees have Mike Mussina, Carl Pavano, Jaret Wright and Kevin Brown. This assumes that Kevin Brown is still with the team which is a big "if" because he's definitely persona non grata in Yankee-land. Who do they get to replace Brown if he's dumped? Not much left in the free-agent pool. Do you think the Red Sox would look forward to teeing off on Derek Lowe? Also consider that the Yankees farm system is pretty much bare - so forget making a trade.

The Red Sox counter with David Wells as number 2. Let's stop here for a minute. Wells had a better winning percentage (12-8 vs. 12-9), more innings pitched (31 more) and a much better ERA than Mussina (3.73 vs 4.59 or 108 ERA+ vs 98 ERA+ - just to take the league differences into account). Tell me again how Mussina is a better number 2.

I'll give you Pavano over Matt Clement but I won't give you Pavano over a healthy Wade Miller. Wright over Bronson Arroyo? Please. In addition to Wade Miller - the Red Sox can also offer up Tim Wakefield who had more wins, innings pitched and strikeouts than Kevin Brown.

Hey Buster - tell me again why the Yankees will be so great next year. I could use a good laugh.

Coalition of the Willing - Not Just a Catchy Name

Here is a listing of what individual nations and organizations are pledging to the disaster relief is Southeast Asia. The monies quoted are in Australian dollars and the exchange rate to get to US dollars is 1.3 (hat tip to Betsy's Page for the article).

When you add up the monies being donated by the so called "Coalition of the Willing" (the countries that have put troops into Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein and bring democracy to Iraq) - you get $192.52 million ($148.09 million US dollars).

The "coalition of the Willing" nations include: the United Kingdom, Portugal, Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Albania, Moldova, Macedonia, Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Estonia, Kazakstan, Mongolia, Japan, Thailand, Philippines, Azerbaijan, Georgia, El Salvador, Dominican Republic, Honduras, New Zealand, Australia, and the United States of America. I did not include Spain because they later changed their mind.

When you add up the contributions from the remaining countries you would get $60.68 million ($46.68 million US dollars) plus $5.25 million ($4.04 million US) from the European Union with another $52.6 million ($40.46 million US) pledged. The European Union money is hard to count because many members of the Colalition of the Willing are also EU members.

Please note that I did not count monies from relief organizations in my calculations - because again - much of those monies also probably originate from members of the Coalition of the Willing.

The one thing that is clear is that the Coalition of the Willing is doing the lion's share of the giving. Whoever came up with the name "the Coalition of the Willing" knew what they were talking about.

The coalition nations also won more than 50% of the medals at the last Olympics - even though they represented just 31 of the 202 participating nations.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

In the Year 2005

Here are my forecasts for the year 2005:

- After more than 30 years as a fugitive - the Hamburgler is finally captured. Robble, robble indeed!

- ABC decides to re-make the TV show Barney Miller with Dave Attell playing the lead role and Abe Vigoda reprising his role as Fish.

- Scott Peterson dies in prison. All the other inmates were fishing at the time. No charges are filed in the murder and at the prison extra cake is served on Fridays.

- CBS Evening News is beaten in the ratings in New York City by a cable access channel showing Strong Bad emails.

- Ronald McDonald replaces Peter Kris in the rock group KISS

- John Kerry is found naked on a Nantucket beach. He claims to have been out drinking with John Belushi and Elvis Presley the night before.

- One of the Olsen twins does a porn movie. The movie outgrosses Titanic.

- A picture of Jose Lima's wife appears on the web site A Large Regular no less than 12 times in 6 months

- One of the Wiggles claims not to be gay.

- Alice Cooper is named as US Poet Laureate

Jerry Orbach - RIP

Sorry to lose Jerry "Lenny Briscoe" Orbach.

Here are what I consider his top 5 roles

1. Law & Order - Lenny Briscoe
2. Beauty and the Beast - Lumiere
3. Dirty Dancing - Jake Houseman
4. F/X - Nicholas DeFranco
5. Crimes and Misdemeanors - Jack Rosenthal

Eric's Questions

Yesterday I answered the questions that Hugh Hewitt posed to gauge a reporter's bias - Eric at Off Wing Opinion linked to that post and came up with his own questions having to do with sports bias. Fair is fair - so I'm now going to answer the questions Eric came up with.

Who got your vote for starting National League catcher in the last five All-Star games? I'm an AL guy but I would have voted for Jason Kendall, Pudge Rodgriguez, Piazza, Piazza and Piazza.

Who is the greatest hockey player of all time -- Gordie Howe, Bobby Orr or Wayne Gretzky? I love Gordie Howe and being from Boston - you'd think I would defend Bobby Orr but the truth is that Gretzky is the greatest.

Who is the greatest athlete of all-time? If it a question of athletic ability - then Bo Jackson hands down.

Which player did a better job of elevating the play of his teammates than any other? Bill Russell. Gretzky and Larry Bird are close behind.

Who do you root for? Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics, Bruins, UMass, Holy Cross and Boston College.

Who do you hate? I don't "hate" any teams. I strive with none since none are worth my strife.

Ok, what players do you despise? Right now I would put Barry Bonds and Ron Artest on my shit list. All-time - Isiah Thomas and Ulf Samuelsson have a special place in hell reserved in my book.

What other sports personalities do you find annoying? Michael Kay and Tim McCarver. They make my ears bleed.

Who are your backup teams (the ones you root for when your favorites lose)? In football and hockey my roommate from college has Tampa Bay season tickets - so I've kinda adopted them. In baseball - I have friends in Atlanta and the Braves are always on TV.

The DH: Good or bad for baseball? I like the difference in leagues - so I guess I'm a DH guy.

The last meaningful hockey game at the elite level was played at the World Cup in September. With no NHL on the television, what are you watching these days? I could watch re-runs of the World Series of Poker or Slap Shot with the Hanson brothers commentary all day.

Ten Commandments of On-Line Poker

A reader sent this list into Jackpot Jay over at's Page 2:
An anonymous reader from Allentown, Penn., sent in his "Ten Commandments" of online poker:

(1) A-A, K-K, Q-Q, J-J, A-K, A-Q suited only!!! Believe me, you will still get sufficient action. If not, change tables.

(2) Thou shall not bluff.

(3) Do not slowplay!

(4) After the flop, do not play without top pair (or better), a flush draw, or a straight draw to the nuts.

(5) Getting raised on the turn/river demonstrates a huge hand. Folding is often correct.

(6) Just because you raised before the flop doesn't mean you need to continue to raise after it.

(7) Do not check-raise for effect. No one gives the check-raise the respect it deserves.

(8) Do not call with just overcards.

(9) Consider playing two games at once. Say you want to play $20-40 limit. Two $10-20 games are easier to beat, and that also helps with the variance.

(10) Always take advantage of the bonuses.
Good advice. Remember - it doesn't cost you anything to fold but it could cost you big if you stay in with a poor hand.
Susan Sontag is Dead at 71

I consider myself a fairly educated and well read person and yet I have never read anything by Susan Sontag. I doubt I ever will.

My understanding is that she was into women's lib and was a star of the Left. When I think of her or hear her name mentioned two things come to mind - that chick Alexandra from Josie and the Pussycats and the speech Kevin Costner gave in Bull Durham:
Well, I believe in the soul, the cock, the pussy, the small of a woman's back, the hanging curve ball, high fiber, good scotch, that the novels of Susan Sontag are self-indulgent, overrated crap. I believe Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. I believe there ought to be a constitutional amendment outlawing Astroturf and the designated hitter. I believe in the sweet spot, soft-core pornography, opening your presents Christmas morning rather than Christmas Eve and I believe in long, slow, deep, soft, wet kisses that last three days
I'm sure I'm not alone in remembering her this way. Like I said, I've never read anything by Susan Sontag and I doubt I ever will.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Hugh's Questions

Yesterday, Hugh Hewitt suggested that MSM reporters should have to answer some basic questions so the reader can judge where the reporter's bias or sympathies may lie. This is not to replace full disclosure but it does give the reader a baseline of where the reporter is coming from.

Now I am far from a MSM reporter but in the interest of fairness - here's how I would answer Hugh's questions:

For whom did the reporter vote for president in the past five elections? Bush, Bush, did not vote, Bush, Reagan. I'm registered as an Independent.

Do they attend church regularly and if so, in which denomination? Maybe a couple of times a month and mostly Episcopal but sometimes Catholic. If anyone asks, I say that I'm a lapsed Catholic.

Do they believe that the late-term abortion procedure known as partial birth abortion should be legal? No - partial birth abortion should never be legal. Anyone who thinks otherwise should be forced to witness one.

Do they believe same sex marriage ought to be legal? I have no problem with same sex marriages. People don't choose to be gay - why should they be treated differently?

Did they support the invasion of Iraq? Yes I did!

Do they support drilling in ANWR? Not 100% on this one. I know that drilling is taking place all around ANWR with little environmental impact but I also like knowing where the oil is and not touching it (sort of like an emergency $100 bill in your wallet that you never use).

Well I hope that helps everyone understand where I'm coming from.
Separated at Birth?

New Dodger JD Drew and Victor McLaglen (well known actor for such films as The Quiet Man and Gunga Din among others)
Top 5 - Greatest Single Seasons by a Red Sox Pitcher

1. Pedro Martinez - 2000 - 18-6 / 213 IP / 313 K / 2.07 ERA / 285 ERA+

2. Cy Young - 1901 - 33-10 / 371 IP / 158 K / 1.62 ERA / 216 ERA+

3. Pedro Martinez - 1999 - 23-4 / 217 IP / 284 K / 1.74 ERA / 245 ERA+

4. Roger Clemens - 1990 - 21-6 / 228 IP / 209 K / 1.93 ERA / 211 ERA+

5. Smokey Joe Wood - 1912 - 34-5 / 344 IP / 258 K / 1.91 ERA / 180 ERA+

Notes: Cy Young's 158 K's may seem small but it led the league that year and his ERA+ is smaller than what Pedro had in 1999 but keep in mind that Cy pitched 154 more innings - so I think we can give him a break on the ERA. Roger Clemens finished second in Cy Young voting in 1990 to Bob Welsh of the A's who had a 27-6 record with an ERA that was a full run higher than Roger (2.95 to 1.93). Joe Wood had a great 1912 but his K's and ERA were still second in the league to Walter Johnson of Washington.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Post Christmas Tasteless Link

Farting Santa's - possibly NSFW


On a bar napkin write down the following:
Ask your friends to continue reading out loud until they understand (you can tell them that it is a left brain / right brain reading test to get them to do it).

Separated at Birth?

Sidney Ponson and Sidney Greenstreet.

Reggie White is Dead

The above simple fact is unavoidable. Reggie White is dead.

It is not clear whether he died from a heart attack or from complications from sleep apnia. Either way - Reggie White is dead.

In the next few days you will probably hear many testimonials on how great a man he was, how great a teammate he was, how great a man of faith he was and how great a family man he was.

You will also hear some people say "yes he is dead but..."

These are the people who would like to call Reggie White a racist for a speech he gave in front of the Wisconsin legislature. These are the people that would have you believe that Reggie White was some sort of black, ecclesiastic, athletic David Duke.

Without exception these people will never have had a moment in private with Reggie White. The people who knew Reggie best will all say the same things, "he was a great man and a great teammate". Anyone who says otherwise deserves the title of ankle biter.

Reggie White did so many great things to improve his community whether it was in Philadelphia, Green Bay or for a short time - Carolina. Let he who has done as much in his community come forth to cast the first stone.

No takers on that? I didn't think so.

Reggie White was a great defensive lineman who was perhaps the greatest sack artist in NFL history. Other players may have been greater on the field (see Jones, Deacon) but none combined the on the field and off the field value like Reggie White.

If you see people painting Reggie White as a "religious zealot" or "homophobe' in your local paper - I suggest you cancel your subscription and instead send your money to any of the causes that Reggie White supported while he still had breath to breathe. The money will be better spent that way.

My favorite Reggie White story is about how he was trying to decide where to go as a free agent. He said something to the effect that he was leaving it in God's hands. Taking the initiative, Green Bay coach Mike Holmgren called Reggie's answering machine and said "Reggie, this is God. I want you to play for the Packers."

On the negative side of the ledger I must say that Reggie always said that he just wanted to follow God's calling. I don't think that God called Reggie to be dead at age 43. Let this fact resonate with people who maybe aren't eating right or exercising right. The age of 43 is too young for anyone to be taken from their family.

The only silver lining to me is the fact that he didn't die on Christmas Day.
Best and Worst Free Agent Signings

Rob Neyer has a column up over at listing his best 5 and worst 5 free agent signings. Since it is premium content and I refuse to pay for the ESPN "Insider" content - I don't know who he picked. The idea did get me thinking - so here are my choices for the best 5 and worst 5 free agent signings.

Best 5 Free Agent Signings

1. Nomar Garciaparra - $8 million for one year. The Cubs will hopefully get a return to the .300+ / 25 HR / 100 RBI form that made Nomar famous. If not - they still get a guy who will put fannies in the seats for only $8 million.

2. Steve Finley - 2-years and $14 million from the Angels. Finley is at least 3/4 as good as Beltran but he comes at less than half the price. Nice move by the Angels.

3. Brad Radke - 2-years and $18 million from the Twins. Radke takes less than open market and the Twins get to keep the heart of their pitching staff. Good move all-around.

4. Jeff Kent - 2-years and $17 million from the Dodgers. Kent fills the hole left by Beltre leaving as a free agent. This move pretty much went under the radar but should prove to be a wise signing (and yes - I know Kent can be a prick but this was still a good deal for the Dodgers).

5. (tie) Matt Mantei - $750,000 one year and (tie) Wade Miller - $1.5 million one year. The Red Sox sign two potential All-Star caliber players to incentive laden deals for the same cost as Cory Lidle with the Phillies.

Worst 5 Free Agent Signings

1. Kris Benson - 3-years at $7.5 million per year for a starter who is average at best. This move pissed off the other GM's because is an average Benson is worth $7.5 million - what is a good pitcher worth?

2. Vinnie Castilla - 2-years $6.2 million. You can write it down now - Castilla will have a less than .760 OPS this year. The Nationals would have been better off with a journeyman like Lou Merloni at the major league minimum than with Castilla. Bowden proves once again that he's in over his head as a GM.

3. Tony Womack - 2-years $4 million from the Yankees. The Yankees both overpaid and downgraded the position at the same time. The smart move would have to just keep Miguel Cairo.

4. Todd Jones - one year $1.1 million from the Marlins. I know it is just $1.1 million but it is a wasted $1.1 million.

5. Orlando Hernandez - $8 million over two years from the White Sox. This move easily could have been number one on the bad move list. Who really knows how old El Duque is and it should have been evident that his shoulder was ready to fall off at the end of the season last year. Just a stupid move by the White Sox.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Happy Birthday Pudge!

Today is Carlton Fisk's 57th birthday! Happy birthday Pudge!

Baseball Flotsam and Jetsam

Every time Theo Epstein gets a big head - he should be reminded that he also signed Jeremy Giambi and Bobby Jones... The two best remaining free agent starters are Odalis Perez and Derek Lowe. Both should get contracts north of 3-years, $21 million... The top six players in total bases this year all came from the Dominican Republic. Pujols, Beltre, Guerrero, Ortiz, Tejada and Ramirez. Not till you get to Todd Helton at seventh do you get to a non-Dominican player. Teams that don't spend a good portion of their scouting in the Dominican are just missing the boat... Carlos Delgado is the only remaining free agent first baseman worth a multi-million contract... Travis Lee is probably praying that someone confuses him with Travis Hafner (or even Travis Tritt based on the way that Lee played last year)... If Mo Vaughn is able to make it back (even as a part time player) - will the Mets be liable to repay the insurance company that paid out on Mo's $18 million contract last year?... I'm glad that the Yankees signed Tony Womack. They were much better off with Miguel Cairo (he's the best remaining free agent second baseman)... I think you'd be better taking a chance with a AAA prospect than signing any of the remaining free agent catchers, third basemen or shortstop... Jeromy Burnitz has hit 30 or more HR in six of the last seven seasons. I think the Diamondbacks would be wise to sign him (plus he's be a bargain at about or less than $2 million)...
Jose Lima

Jose Lima signed a one year deal with the Kansas City Royals.

In other baseball news - Jose Lima's wife still has exceedingly large breasts.

It's a Wonderful Cure for Bad Eyesight

It's a Wonderful Life was on last night giving me the opportunity to nitpick on this one little thing that has always bothered/amused me.

When Jimmy Stewart is alive and him and Donna Reed are busy making kids - her eyesight is perfect. No eyeglasses for Donna Reed. But when Jimmy never existed - all of a sudden the librarian / spinister Reed needs eyeglasses. What happened?

Now you can argue that she needs glasses because as a librarian she reads more books but I'm not buying that. I think Frank Capra was trying to send out a pro-sex message. Sex is so good it makes your eyesight better! Jimmy Stewart's cure for nearsightedness (that would be a good name for a band - well maybe not).

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Christmas Wish

"Spirit! are they yours?" Scrooge asked, horrified. He could say no more.

"They are Man's," said the Spirit, "and they cling to me, appeaing from their fathers. This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, but most of all beware the boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased."

- Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol
Every year at Christmas I re-read A Christmas Carol. It is a very short book (not even a long short story really). It is my personal Christmas tradition.

I hope in the year to come that you can work to erase ignornance in your life and want in the lives of those you love.

Merry Christmas - God bless us everyone!

Friday, December 24, 2004

Dr. Seuss in the 21st Century

Some pretty good entries in a FARK photoshop thread.
Top 5 - Best Versions of Dickens' Christmas Carol

1. Scrooge - with Alastair Sim
2. A Christmas Carol - with Patrick Stewart
3. Mickey's Christmas Carol
4. The Muppet Christmas Carol
5. Scrooged - with Bill Murray
Jason Varitek Re-Signs with the Red Sox

There seemed to be two competing sayings about value at work in the negotiations for catcher Jason Varitek.

The first saying goes something like this, "there are two types of value: real value and perceived value."

The Red Sox front office are big on real value. They are Moneyball men (with lots of money). The Red Sox front office know the stats. They know the facts. Bill James is famous for his theory on the declining production of catchers over the age of 32. Theo Epstein was definitely aware that Varitek's OPS for his career is more than 100 points higher at Fenway than on the road. Larry Lucchino was aware that Varitek's stats on the road were average to mediocre at best. John Henry was probably aware that from a business standpoint - the Red Sox were bidding against themselves for Varitek.

Yet the Red Sox front office gave Jason Varitek a 4-year, $40 million contract.

This brings us to the second saying on value - "there are two types of value: what something is worth to me and what something is worth to you (the other teams in baseball)."

Jason Varitek was definitely worth more to the Red Sox than to any other team in the league.

Jason Varitek has been called the "heart and soul" of the team so many times that it is no longer arguable. Varitek's preparation has been credited by the pitching staff for their success to the point that they have much more confidence with Varitek behind the plate than anyone else. The Red Sox ended up paying Varitek lots of money for his "intangibles".

There was also the fact that there really wasn't any alternative. If the Red Sox failed to sign Varitek - who could they turn to? Brent Mayne or Paul Bako?

So yes - according to stats and to actuarial tables the Red Sox both overpaid Varitek and gave him too many years on his contract but to the Red Sox it was definitely worth it.

Red Sox Catcher Flotsam and Jetsam:

- Red Sox uber-consultant Bill James invented the win shares method but I think that Varitek helps expose a glaring weakness in how the system values catchers. Varitek was fifth in the AL among catchers last year in win shares (he had 17). You could make valid arguments that all four of the catchers above Varitek are better than Varitek but how can you make the argument that Javy Lopez is a better defensive catcher than Varitek (5.1 defensive win shares vs. 4.6)? The win shares method does a poor job in evaluating a catcher's worth to the defense and to the pitching staff and I wouldn't be surprised if James is working on ways to correct this problem.

- With Wade Miller in the fold - there is a real possibility that Time Wakefield may start the season in the bullpen. Where does that leave Doug Mirabelli? Last year he acted as Wakefield's personal catcher (a move that rested Varitek every fifth start). Varitek is a switch hitter and does good against lefties (.826 OPS for his career) but Mirabelli does VERY good against lefties (.909 career OPS with a HR once every 15.5 AB). Maybe Francona will rest Varitek against lefties?

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Happy Festivus!

Today is December 23rd. Today is traditionally the day that Festivus (a festivus for the rest of us) is observed. Of course the great thing about Festivus is that it can be observed any day during the holiday season. Different people celebrate Festivus in different ways. What was the genesis of Festivus? Well here' what has to say:
This man's name is Frank Costanza. During a routine outing to secure a Christmas gift for his son George, events transpired which would forever change the landscape of the holiday season.

In his own words: "Many Christmases ago, I went to buy a doll for my son. I reached for the last one they had -- but so did another man. As I rained blows upon him, I realized there had to be another way! [The doll] was destroyed. But out of that, a new holiday was born. 'A Festivus for the rest of us!'"
The three major elelments of Festivus include:

The Festivus Pole

As a symbol of the anti-holiday commercialization, devotees of Festivus display a large pole in a prominent location in their home or dwelling. The pole is aluminum, chosen due to its very high strength-to-weight ratio, and is never decorated (this stems from founder Frank Costanza's belief that "tinsel is distracting"). After the celebration is over, it is not uncommon for a pole to be placed in an out-of-the-way place, such as a crawl space.
Not sure if rebar qualifies but in the spirit of Festivus - anything is possible!

The Airing of Grievances

"Welcome, new comers. The tradition of Festivus begins with the airing of grievances. I got a lot of problems with you people! And now you're gonna hear about it!" -Frank Costanza

During the Festivus celebration, friends and family come together to recognize the holiday with an annual dinner. While no specific foods are relevant to the holiday, the dinner contains the most vocal of the Festivus traditions: the Airing of Grievances.

During the Airing of Grievances, a Festivus devotee informs all those in attendance how they disappointed him the year before. It is also a time to report any ongoing problem or irritation that one is having with anyone else celebrating at the dinner. Everyone in attendance is given the chance to speak before the last tradition of Festivus begins...
The Feats of Strength

"Until you pin me, George, Festivus is not over!" -Frank Costanza

In accordance with Festivus tradition, the celebration may not end until two people participate in a contest known as the Feats of Strength. During this event, the head of the household (or the host of the Festivus dinner) challenges one of the guests to a test of physical strength. The challenger may choose anyone as an opponent and a challenge may not be refused unless, of course, the challenged has a previous engagement.

You can find more info on Festivus here.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Christmas Classic

BK Lounge Christmas

No Reason - Just Felt Like Posting This

So I jump ship in Hong Kong and make my way over to Tibet, and I get on as a looper at a course over in the Himalayas. A looper, you know, a caddy, a looper, a jock. So, I tell them I'm a pro jock, and who do you think they give me? The Dalai Lama, himself. Twelfth son of the Lama. The flowing robes, the grace, bald... striking.

So, I'm on the first tee with him. I give him the driver. He hauls off and whacks one - big hitter, the Lama - long, into a ten-thousand foot crevasse, right at the base of this glacier. Do you know what the Lama says? Gunga galunga... gunga, gunga-galunga.

So we finish the eighteenth and he's gonna stiff me. And I say, "Hey, Lama, hey, how about a little something, you know, for the effort, you know." And he says, "Oh, uh, there won't be any money, but when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness."

So I got that goin' for me, which is nice.

Today in History

Nuts = Wicked Awesome!

Top 5 - Game Show Hosts

1. Bob Barker - The Price is Right
2. Alex Trebeck - Jeopardy
3. Gene Rayburn - Match Game
4. Bob Eubanks - The Newlywed Game
5. Chuck Barris - The Gong Show

Hog vs. Dog?

This is pretty sick - barbaric I think would be the proper word.

A couple things from the report jumped out at me. First isn't this what is always said by the neighbors:
John Burnett says the Parkers are good neighbors, and he can't imagine they were doing anything illegal.
The only thing he forgot to add was that "they were quiet and kept to themselves."

It also seemed more like hog slaughter than hog fighting:
An Alabama TV station working undercover took pictures of a staged fight between dogs and wild boar that have had their tusks removed, leaving them helpless.
A national problem?
The humane society says hog-dogging is a national problem and the ring was profiting on the bloody fights by selling videos.
Kiddie porn, snuff films and now hog vs. dog films. Some elements of our society are just sick. I don't even want to think about it.

This was the clincher for me:
Dogfighting itself is a felony in North Carolina and South Carolina.
Can't you just picture these folks walking free because their lawyer is able to argue that since it wasn't dog vs. dog that it actually wasn't "dogfighting". The fact that a law on dogfighting had to be put on the books is a sad reflection on North and South Carolina in the first place. You shouldn't have to spell out that certain things are just wrong.
Kevin Millar vs. Shawn Green

It looks like the Randy Johnson trade to the Yankees is dead (for now). The one thing that I didn't understand was the Diamondbacks fascination with acquiring Shawn Green.

The Diamondbacks would have received Green, starter Brad Penny and reliever Yhency Brazoban. The way I look at it - the Red Sox could offer Bronson Arroyo instead of Penny (that's pretty even), a top prospect instead of Brazoban (that's pretty even depending on the prospect) and Kevin Millar instead of Shawn Green. Let's take a look at how even Millar vs. Green would be:

Millar 2004: .297 BA / .383 OBP / .474 SLG / .857 OPS

Green 2004: .266 BA / .352 OBP / .459 SLG / .811 OPS

Both can play either first or the outfield (I grant that Green is a much better outfielder than Millar). Over the past two years Millar has averaged 21.5 HR and 85 RBI while Green averaged 23.5 HR and 85.5 RBI. That's pretty even but I admit that Green gets the edge and you have to factor in that Green has proven that he can hit 40+ HR in a season and drive in 100+ RBI while Millar has not. However, that was in the past and Green also now comes with a much higher pricetag ($15 million for this year vs. just about $3.5 million for Millar).

Consider the fact that for the past two years Shawn Green has posted OPS+ numbers of 113 and 117 and for his career he is at 124. Meanwhile for the last two years Millar has posted 117 and 110 numbers with a career OPS+ of 121. Again - that's pretty even.

I know that Randy Johnson would have to agree to come to the Red Sox first for this to even go anywhere and I know that Shawn Green is more of a "name" player but as far as production is concerned - Green and Millar right now are about dead even.

I haven't even mentioned the fact that Green may be considered "damaged goods" because of his shoulder while Millar has plodded along as a pretty healthy player.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Charlie Weis at Notre Dame

I have a new piece up at American Digest on Charlie Weis taking the head coaching job at Notre Dame.


Top 5 - Samuel L. Jackson Movies

Today is Samuel L. Jackson's 56th birthday - so here are his top 5 movies

1. Pulp Fiction
2. A Time to Kill
3. Die Hard with a Vengence
4. Jackie Brown
5. The Incredibles

Odds on a White Christmas

Here are some of the odds on whether it will snow on Christmas at different spots accross the country:

- Chicago: Yes -$125 / No -$105
- Detroit: Yes -$135 / No +$105
- Kansas City (Missouri): Yes +$125 / No -$155
- Los Angeles (at LAX): Yes 400 to 1
- Nashville: Yes +$130 / No -$160
- New York City: Yes -$105 / No -$125
- Washington DC: Yes +$120 / No -$150 (the No here is the best bet I think)

Just a reminder on how this works - take Detroit for an example - you would have to risk $135 to win $100 betting on Yes while you would have to risk $100 to win $105 betting on No. So for the No bet on Washington, you would risk $150 to win $100.
Morning Links

- Holy crap! The Patriots lost! I went to bed with 5 minutes left in the game! What the hell happened (sorry - I guess if I just read the link I'd have my answer.)

- Red Sox trade Roberts for Payton

- 41 players are non-tendered making them free agents - Wade Miller is biggest name on list (interesting that Detroit cut ties to Eric Munson - I think this leaves them without a true third baseman and the remaining free agent third basemen bring to mind the word scrubs. Could a trade be in the works? Or do they really plan to use catcher Brandon Inge at third full time?)

- The Angles sign Cabrera to a 4-year deal. Good luck Orlando - you're a winner and I'll be rooting for you.

- Now Aleve is linked to heart trouble? I'm screwed if Advil is next on the list.

- Mark Steyn on saying "Merry Christmas".

- Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince to be released in July. About freakin' time!

Monday, December 20, 2004

Information I Did Not Need To Know

If you do a MSN search for "lomg cock" - A Large Regular comes up as the fourth choice.

I wonder how many results you would have to go through for this result in a search for "the giant black cock"?

MMQB Review

Here are the five things I think I think about today's offering from Peter King's Monday Morning Quarterback:

1. Peter spends alot of ink on Eli Manning's performance against Pittsburgh. King withholds any prediction about Manning's future but I think he has "Tony Eason" written all over him.

2. Peter calls the single season TD record "the most overhyped record since ESPN overhyped the last record." I couldn't agree more.

3. Last night I'm at The 111 Chop House waiting for my table, sitting in the bar. Next to me is this old woman sipping a martini and having onion rings. She tells me out of nowhere that anytime Peter King even mentions his daughters in his columns - its bad news. She then tells me that she doesn't think Peter King even exists. She thinks that SI just photoshopped what they think Yukon Cornelius would look like without a beard and posted that picture. According to the old woman - MMQB is actually written by a mailboy from Starbuck's corporate office in Seattle.

4. "Is Rick Majerus psycho?" I have to agree with Peter on this one. Would anyone be surprised if they read one day that Majerus was found trying to open the doors of stranger's rooms in the Newark Marriott wearing nothing but Ragu sauce?

5. Peter picks the Patriots to win tonight but not cover the spread with a 21-17 victory. This means load up on the Patriots because Peter never picks these Monday Night games right.
Independent Websites

I want to change the way we talk. I would like to see the words "Independent Website" used in more formal settings or in discussions instead of the word "blog."

Recently I started contributing as Sports Editor for the American Digest. Now the American Digest is in the top 200 sites in the TTLB Ecosystem but saying "it's one of the top 200 blogs on the Internet" just doesn't sound as impressive as saying "it's one of the top 200 independent websites on the Internet."

I know this is like calling a garbageman a sanitation engineer but it works. I have friends who are journalists and trust me if I say that I now write for one of the top 200 independent websites on the Internet - they are impressed. However biased and ignorant it is on their part - they still hold their noses when the word "blog" is mentioned.

I know that some may think this whole idea pretentious. I understand that. I also know that some people love the word "blog" (I do too). A rose by any other name still smells as sweet. The MSM (old journalism) won't eat snails but they may shell out big bucks if we call it escargot.

That's all I'm saying.

(PS - as an aside - my spellchecker wants to replace the word "escargot" with "Eucharist". I found that amusing.)
Heh Heh

Hat tip American Digest

Morning Links

- New Peter Gammons goodness

- Sacrifices past and present - I am grateful to one and all

- Varitek and 6 other Red Sox decline arbitration

- Al Franken (who was a well known abuser of cocaine while working at SNL) could not be reached for comment

- Mark Steyn - Shave the whales! (Hat tip Betsy's Page)

- Very funny David Sedaris send-up (hat tip American Digest)

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Separated at Birth?

4th and 9er's coach Dennis Erickson and Tweak.
Red Sox - 3 and 3

With the signings of Renteria and Clement - Theo Epstein's off-season job boils down to dealing with 3 and 3. He has three more roster spots to fill - back-up outfielder, starting catcher and middle utility infielder. He also has three players he's trying to trade off the current roster.

Let's take a closer look at the 3 and 3.

For the roster spots:

- Back-up outfielder: this was the position held by Gabe Kapler and currently held by Dave Roberts. The problem is that Epstein has promised Roberts that he'd trade him to a team where Roberts can be a starter. This means that Theo will fill this position via trade. Jay Payton, Xavier Nady, Bobby Kielty are some of the names being thrown out there as possibilities. I wouldn't be surprised to see a three-team deal here.

- Starting catcher: most likely this will be Jason Varitek. Right now it seems like the Red Sox have been bidding against themselves. The idea that maybe Jason doesn't want to return must be considered (strongly). I don't think anyone will offer Varitek more than 4/$34 million - so I don't see what the delay is. The only team out there with that kind of money is the Dodgers and their GM - Paul DePodesta is a Billy Beane disciple and Beane made it perfectly clear that he was no fan of Varitek.

- Middle infielder: Pokey Reese is perfect for this spot but Pokey may get a starting SS or 2nd job somewhere or the Sox may fill this position via trade. I like Pokey and I'm hoping he re-ups with the team.

Three players Theo is trying to move:

- Dave Roberts: as mentioned above - Theo made a promise to Roberts that he'd try and move him to a team where he can start. Roberts is widely hailed as a gentleman and in New England - his steal off Mariano Rivera has made him a folk hero. The Padres and Diamondbacks both need a cost effective centerfielder - so I would look for him to wind up in either of those two spots.

- Byung Hyun Kim: He's due to make $6 million this year and it seems like a fresh start would do him well. Right now Kim stands as Theo's biggest mistake but I think if you think about that for a minute it only helps further underlines how well Theo has done. The Yankees have contracts like Kevin Brown and Jason Giambi while the Sox just have Kim.

- Kevin Millar or Doug Mientkiewicz. Only one can start at first base and neither is willing to be a back-up. One must go. Both have their pluses. Millar is a known quantity and he has been good for the clubhouse. Theo rescued Millar from Japan but I wouldn't be surprised (I hope it doesn't happen but I wouldn't be surprised) if Millar burnt bridges after being traded. Mientkiewicz is a Gold Glover at first and maybe a full season hitting balls off the Monster would do wonders for him. Flip a coin over who to keep and who to trade. Personally I'd like to see both traded and Todd Helton come in (with the Rockies picking up all but $10 million per year of his contract).

Well - the above is what Theo Epstein will be dealing with for the rest of the winter. Good luck Theo.
Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations:

- President Bush was named Time's Person of the Year. Just think - just yesterday you could have gotten 3-1 odds on Bush.

- This is great! If there's one thing everyone can agree on - it's the fact that everyone hates spam (except singing Vikings).

- So bad it's funny. William Hung from American Idol fame has a Christmas album out - Hung for the Holidays. At just $8 it may be worth it as a joke gift.

- The "bunch of idiots" idea was pure genius on the part of the Red Sox players. The idea disguises the fact that these guys are pure professionals (nobody studies hitting more than Manny Ramirez or pitching more than Curt Schilling). Keeping loose is good and the "idiots" idea allowed the players to avoid stupid reporter questions.

- Wow! It's only been one month (exactly) since the "Malace at the Palace". It seems like a much longer time has past since Ron Artest went up into the stands in Detroit (Auburn Hills).

Top 5 - Christmas Songs by Rock Stars

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

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Separated at Birth?

Michael Vick and Chris Rock.
Who will be named Time magazine's "Person of the Year 2004"?

Here are the odds

George W. Bush 3/1

Karl Rove 5/1

Tony Blair 8/1

The Bloggers 10/1

Christopher Reeve 15/1

The American Soldier 20/1

Kofi Annan 25/1

The Boston Red Sox 10/1

Mel Gibson 50/1

Michael Moore 55/1

Arnold Schwarzenegger 75/1

Desperate Housewives 100/1

Paris Hilton 200/1

Field 4/5

(Field could be a good bet because it includes people like the Swift Boat Vets, the Pope and the guys who invented Google among others - although I say Bush has to be a strong favorite.)
Another Nice Thing About the Tim Hudson Trade

Another nice off-shoot of the Tim Hudson trade is the fact that now the Braves have no interest in acquiring Kevin Brown from the Yankees. Brown is from Georgia and the Braves are one of the only teams Brown would waive his no-trade clause to join.

Combine that with the fact that not many teams would be interested in taking on the 39-year old, hot-headed pitcher even if the Yankees picked up the entire tab - this means Brown gets another summer in the Bronx. Just being around- Brown will be disruptive to the pitching staff and the team. I would think that the Yankees would prefer a rotation of Johnson, Mussina, Pavano, Wright and El Duque to any rotation that includes Kevin Brown.

Heh heh.
Top 5 - Worst Airports in the US

1. Washington / Dulles
2. Washington / Dulles
3. Washington / Dulles
4. Washington / Dulles
5. (tie) Boston / Logan, (tie) LAX, (tie) Chicago / O'Hare, (tie) Hartford / Bradley

Friday, December 17, 2004

It's a Great Day to Be Flying!

That seems to be the slogan here at United / Ted but it seems pretty ironic when me and about 150 people are all waiting in a customer service line at Dulles Airport because our flight was delayed due to high winds on takeoff (we were too heavy with passengers and gas to take off - so United had to burn off gas and wait until another gap in the takeoff patterns - this took over an hour and a half) and everyone with a connecting flight missed it. Now United is putting us all up in a hotel (supposedly the Hyatt) and making arrangements for us to fly out to our different destinations in the morning.

This was truly a hell flight (I don't mean to turn all Peter King on you with my unpleasant travel story of the week or whatever he calls his travelogue cries for attention). First the delay. Then the realization that everyone would be missing their connecting flights (the mood was ugly - patience went out the window). Then I was faced with only Coors Light, Miller Lite, MGD and Heineken as my choices for beer (and then they ran out of Coors Light!).

It would have been OK if there was a decent movie but I was stuck with The Princess Diaries II. No problem - I packed A Moveable Feast by Hemingway for the trip but then my reading lamp went out. I kid you not.

I'm actually in pretty good spirits but I'd rather be home. Instead I'm staying at the Hyatt (and it probably won't even count for MY points).

Sorry United - today was not a good day to be flying (at least not with you).

Where will the Expos / Nationals Play?

Which 2-city combination will be the Nationals home(s) for the 2005 and the 2006 MLB season? Here are the odds:

Washington-Washington 9/5

Washington-Las Vegas 9/2

Washington-Virginia 5/1

Washington-Portland 5/1

Virginia-Virginia 8/1

Las Vegas-Las Vegas 12/1

Portland-Portland 12/1

Other-Las Vegas 15/1

Other-Virginia 15/1

Other-Portland 18/1

Other Combination 10/1

Miscellaneous Thoughts

Sorry for the light blogging this week. I'm out in San Diego and will be spending much of the day in airports. Some miscellaneous thoughts:

- It's not a good idea to ever tell a woman that she looks kinda like Peter Gammons.

- At the airport on the way out, I got an Eggnog latte from Starbucks. I do this every year because Peter King always raves about them. Every year I only buy one because it tastes like grit. The thing is - I know that next year I'll probably buy another one.

- I like the Tim Hudson trade from the Braves perspective. The Braves have to be the favorites again in the NL East. Smoltz, Hudson, Thomson, Hampton and Ramirez is an excellent starting five but more importantly - a front ended rotation with Smoltz and Hudson make the Braves very dangerous in the playoffs. If those two can remain healthy - then the Braves are a good longshot to win the World Series next year.

- If you think about it - calling tuna "Chicken of the sea" is kinda a slur on tuna.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

The Buckler

There's Christian Rock but no Christian Wrestling - I say we change that.

In the comments section on another post I mentioned the following Bible verse:

"As for God, His way is perfect: the word of the Lord is tried: He is a buckler to all those who trust in him"

- Psalm 18:30

I got to thinking that "The Buckler" would be a great name for a Christian wrestler. Last night I went out to dinner and there was a non-alcoholic beer on the menu called - you guessed it - Buckler. Vince McMahon has to make this happen.

Here's the idea - a Christian wrestler who only wrestles to spread the Gospel. He' gets sponsored by Heineken (they make Buckler beer) and the other wrestler's make fun of his religion in order to get him to lose his cool. Can't you picture the Undertaker getting the Buckler in a choke hold and saying, "Where's your Moses now?" (like Dathan from The Ten Commandments). Triple H could pile drive him and ask, "Your God, your God - why has he abandoned you?"

The Buckler in turn could come out with a signature surrender hold called "the crucifixion." The Buckler's entrance music could be some gospel standard or something by Creed. You hear "Onward Christian Soldiers" over the PA and McMahon says, "Is that the Buckler's music I hear?"

It would be controversial and that's what wrestling thrives on. This could be huge.

So let it be written - so let it be done.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Christmas Ain't Going Nowhere - Relax

Hugh Hewitt links to some columns dealing with a Newsweek story on the divinity (or lack thereof) in the nativity and asks what Newsweek's attempt at debunking the divinity of Jesus says about the MSM in his latest symposium.

I understand where Hugh is coming from on this but I think he may be just looking to pick a fight. Yes the media comes off as atheistic or agnostic but it has been that way for ages (remember the Gene Kelly reporter character in Inherit the Wind?). Yes Meacham is trying to be controversial with his column but doesn't controversy sell more magazine copies than stories about the world's biggest Christmas tree?

The flintlock to this firestorm is an article in Newsweek by Jon Meacham. Let me just say that Jon Meacham's scholarship and writing ability in this article are about as good as the psychoanalytic ability of the store shrink in A Miracle of 34th Street. I mean just look at Meacham's opening paragraph:
The news was unwelcome, baffling, frightening; nothing about it was expected or explicable. Roughly 2,000 years ago, according to the Gospel of Luke, in Nazareth of Galilee, a young woman found herself in the presence of Gabriel, the angelic messenger of the Lord whose name was known to Jews of the day as the mysterious figure who had granted Daniel his prophetic visions. The woman, Luke writes, was "a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David," and her name was Mary, Luke's Greek form of the Hebrew Miriam, the sister of Moses and the first great prophetess of Israel. "Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee," Gabriel said, "blessed art thou amongst women"—terrifying Mary, who "was troubled at his saying." Stunned and confused, Mary made no reply, her face apparently betraying anxiety and awe. Sensing her confusion and fear, Gabriel was reassuring: "Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God."
After reading this you'd expect the average Newsweek reader to sit "stunned and confused". Meacham loses about 99% of the Newsweek readers with this awful opening paragraph (the other 1% are the readers Hewitt sent over and told "read the whole thing").

(As an aside - Meacham does mention The Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus by John P. Meier as one of scholarly sources. I highly recommend this book but suggest you read it yourself and make up your own mind.)

Hugh first points to a column by Albert Mohler to refute Meacham. Mohler talks about Meacham using "an entire corps of liberal scholars" and that Meacham "makes extensive use of material drawn from liberal forces" and Mohler finishes up by saying "Jon Meacham is the classic self-congratulatory theological liberal". Liberal! Liberal! Liberal! I damn thee! No wonder Hugh Hewitt loves Albert Mohler!

The tone of Mohler's column was just angry. I mean at one one point I thought Mohler was so worked up that he was going to call Meacham nothing but a lousy Unitarian.

Hugh also points us to a series of articles written by Mark Roberts.

I must say that I enjoyed the articles by Roberts. I found the tone to be grandfatherly. It was as if Roberts was saying, "I know what they are trying to get you to believe but let me tell you the facts." Roberts then lays out a logical, forensic disenbowelment of Meacham's "argument" (MSM scare quotes - get it?).

Roberts breaks his argument into five sections but he really could have done it in one. In Part 2 he points out that 99.9999% of the people who care about Christmas agree on the basics. Roberts also points out that Meacham is only citing "scholars" who fall into the minority (even in liberal circles) as his sources.

In other words - Meacham is being biased in order to generate a controversy. Buyer beware. Or in more direct words - don't waste your time reading his tripe.

I think Hugh makes the mistake in thinking this is some sort of left attack on the right. It's just poor journalism (and poor writing if you ask me) and nothing else. The Democratic Party is home to literally millions of Catholics who could potentially also be alienated by this article by Meacham. There's no left wing conspiracy - just conspiracy meant to generate controversy - meant to generate magazine sales.

I don't deny the liberal bent of Newsweek and the MSM in general but I also differentiate between picking your fights and picking a fight. I think Hugh may be picking a fight here when he should just be shaking his head.

Frankly I'm disappointed in all the authors for not addressing the fact that virgin birth, death and resurrection of a savior figure is a pretty common motif among many religions. Did anyone go into the fact that Luke was a Greek and therefore maybe had a different viewpoint and audience for his writing than the other Gospel writers? These are the things I'd be interested in reading more about.

Christianity has always subsumed some of the remnants of the belief systems of the people they converted. When the Germanic tribes converted - the Christians said, "OK you accept Christianity and you can keep some of the yuletime traditions like that tree you like to decorate." When the Irish converted they said - "yes you accept Christianity and we'll let you decorate the cross with Celtic designs." If some of the virgin birth myths of Greek mythology crept into Christianity - so what? It doesn't alter the central teaching of Jesus "Love thy neighbor as thyself".

And isn't that what Christmas is all about?

Happy Birthday Bill Buckner

Today is Bill Buckner's 55th birthday and the event has pretty much gone unnoticed as has Billy Buck since the Sox finally won the World Series.

Buckner has suffered greatly since "that play" and hopefully now people will give him a break. Buckner had a borderline Hall of Fame career but is known for just that one play. Billy Buck had 2,715 hits (53rd all-time), 498 doubles (44th all-time) and a batting title to his credit but all anyone remembers is that play. It's a shame.

I hate to admit it but Buckner reminds me of the joke about the man at the bar complaining, "I was captain of the school football team - but does anyone call me captain? I saved six kids from a burning building - but does anyone call me hero? But just one time - you suck one cock and you're a cocksucker forever."

Sorry about that.

Anyway. Happy 55th Billy Buck.
Curt Schilling to Miss Red Sox Opening Day

Curt Schilling announced this morning on WEEI in Boston that he in all probabilities will not be recovered enough from his ankle surgery to pitch Opening Day.

My first thought is to hope that Curt takes all the time he needs to fully recover. The Red Sox need him for September and October much more than they need him for April and May.

My second thought goes to who will be the Opening Day pitcher? Remember that this will be a momentous occasion. Not only will the Red Sox be unveiling their championship pennant - they will be doing so at home against the Evil Empire - the New York Yankees.

Now that Pedro has fled the coop - David Wells is penciled in as the number two guy. I know that there would be much drama in the Boomer opening against the Yankees but to be honest - he hasn't earned the right.

Unless the Sox can deal for a Randy Johnson or Tim Hudson - I say Tim Wakefield has earned the right to be the Opening Day starter. Wakefield has been the longest serving member of the Sox and it has a certain karma to have the guy victimized by Aaron Boone to be on the mound on the day when the Red Sox take their bows for winning the World Series.

Let the Tim Wakefield as Opening Day pitcher bandwagon begin!
Miscellaneous Pedro Thoughts

- Yes the Red Sox had given Pedro a $92 million contract but let me say that for those seven years - he was worth every penny.

- I've said it before and I'll say it again. Fuck you Dan Shaughnessy. Pedro Martinez has brought a magnitude more happiness to this region then you could ever dream of. Dan you are nothing but a bitter ankle biter. As far as I'm concerned the only thing Red Sox fans are cursed with is your presence.

- Giving Pedro 4-years was a bad business decision. Yes. There is a good chance that Pedro could fail his medical exam because of his torn labrum. Yes. Pedro will pitch at least 700 innings at a sub 3.50 ERA over the next 4 years. Yes. Pedro will breathe life into Shea Stadium every day he pitches. Yes.

- I know that many will disagree but now that Pedro is gone - I put the 3-year $27 million offer to Derek Lowe back on the table. I think he will greatly improve if the Sox upgrade at short, re-sign Varitek and Lowe buys into Schilling's method of game prep and video.

Pedro to the Mets - It's not Business It's Personal

I have posted my thoughts on Pedro turning his back on the Red Sox here.

Now you listen to me, you smooth talking son-of-a-bitch. Let me lay it on the line for you and the other Red Sox fans, whoever they are. Pedro Martinez will never get that fourth guaranteed year. I don't care how many dago guinea wop baseball goombahs come out of the woodwork.
American Digest

Recently I have agreed to become a contributor to the American Digest. I'll be contributing there about twice a week with essays on sports.

If you are not familiar with the American Digest - it is home to some of the finest writing on the Internet. In fact the writing there is so good that I get the sneaking suspicion that I was asked to contribute just to highlight how good their writing is in contrast to mine.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Pedro Martinez and Cy Young

Sometime next year, Pedro Martinez will move past Cy Young on the all-time strikeout list. Currently Pedro has 2,653 and Cy Young has 2,803 (a difference of 150 for those mathmatically challenged).

It just doesn't seem right that Pedro will do it in a Mets uniform.
MMQB Review

Here are the five things I think I think about today's Monday Morning Quarterback from Peter King:

1. Kings ranks the Patriots 2nd in the NFL and says:
New England (12-1). How lucky are the Patriots to have Troy Brown (third interception vs. Cincinnati) to ride to the rescue of their secondary?
Luck has nothing to do with it. I bet every team has a gamer like Troy Brown on their roster. It's just that the Patriot coaches are just wise enough to utilize the resources at hand.

2. Kings ranks Carolina 10th and says:
Carolina (6-7). Well, then there's this one. There is no more admirable team in the NFL right now.
Admirable? OK - I agree that they bounced back from a lousy start but most admirable? Not to sound like a homer but the most admirable team in the NFL is the Patriots hands down.

3. Exhibit 5,632 why Peter should stick to football:
Why would the Red Sox pay Edgar Renteria a chunk more money than Orlando Cabrera, if they're going to spend real cash on a shortstop? And why go after either if Hanley Ramirez is ready to play short in 2006? If I were them, I'd find a way to make a deal for Tim Hudson (Billy Beane still loves the Greek God of Walks Kevin Youkilis) and live with Pokey Reese at short for 2005.
Maybe because Billy Beane already gave Eric Chavez a $63 million contract to play third and maybe because the Dodgers are offering stud pitcher Edwin Jackson in return for Hudson.

4. Peter on Charlie Weis:
I think the coach on his staff Bill Belichick could least afford to lose is Charlie Weis, and now the Patriots are going to have to deal with a major distraction the rest of the way as Weis tries to serve two masters -- the New England offense and the Notre Dame recruiting wars.
I think that Charlie should hire Lou Holtz as a "coach emeritus" to assist in recruiting. At his core - Holtz still loves Notre Dame and recruiting would be part time allowing him time with his ailing wife but still staying active in football.

5. Meaningless stat alert - Peter speaking about the Cowboys:
There are question marks, and age, all over the Cowboys' roster. Fourteen of the 53 active Cowboys are 29 or older.
29? That's an arbitrary number and besides the Patriots are one of the oldest teams in the league as has been almost every Super Bowl champ for the past 20 years.
Oceans Twelve

Here's an interesting review of the new movie starring - well just about everybody.

I'm usually willing to suspend disbelief when I see a movie but no way I shell out any cake for this flick. I mean - in the first movie they stole $160 million? Why don't they just spend $1 million to hire a Jason Bourne to put a bullet in Terry Benedict?

As an aside - in my head I have this picture of the casting director for this movie as Gary Oldman playing Stansfield in The Professional yelling, "Get me everybody!"

This Sounds Like Fun!

I'd love to do this.

I'll have to talk to the wife about a week in British Columbia this summer.
Frank Sinatra's Top 5 Songs

Today would have been Ol' Blue Eyes' 89th birthday. Here are what I consider his top 5 songs:

1. My Way
2. The Best is Yet to Come
3. Fly Me to the Moon
4. New York, New York
5. The Lady is a Tramp
Flotsam and Jetsam

- I'm surprised that Todd Helton's name didn't surface during the Baseball Winter Meetings. If I were a GM - I'd see what Carlos Delgado signs for per year and offer the Rockies to pay that much of Helton's contract with the Rockies making up the difference in cash or by taking on some of my bad contracts (and with me as GM - I'm sure I'd have a few). Helton is a better all-around player than Delgado and is a year younger with no history of injury.

- Yesterday it was just me and my son at church. He was wearing a wool sweater and he complained that it felt like something was "stinging" him in the back. I explained that what he was feeling was the Devil who tries to bite his way into the bodies of little boys who can't sit still in church. The Devil, I continued, takes the form of an invisible maggot with sharp pinchers who once in the body of the little boy who doesn't do as he is told, will multiply until Devil maggots are oozing from the ears and mouth. For some reason my son had nightmares last night and couldn't sleep a wink.

- Today is Sheila E's 47th birthday. God back in the day she was hot.

- The movie Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory debuted in 1971. It was based on the Roald Dahl book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The name was changed because in 1971 "Charlie" meant North Vietnamese to most people and Charlie didn't surf and he didn't make chocolate. Now Tim Burton is re-making the movie using the original title. My only disappointment is that Gene Wilder didn't get cast as Grandpa Joe (that would have been a nice tribute to the first movie).

- I was only kidding about the "Devil maggot" thing above. I told my son it was his wool sweater and that he should have worn a T-shirt under the sweater like I had told him. He slept fine last night.

- Today is also Bob Barker's 81st birthday. Don't forget to spade or neuter your pets and for god's sake keep your hands off those fresh young assistants of yours.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Heh Heh

As Homer would say - "It's so funny because it's true!"

Presidential Poker

Enough people have commented that President Bush seems to be playing a high stakes poker game with just about every international situation he gets into that it got me thinking about Presidential poker.

Probably the two best poker players to occupy the Oval Office in the 20th century were Harry S. Truman and Richard Nixon. However, before I can discuss them in poker terms I need to point out that I hold to the theory that poker players fall into four basic categories.

1. Players who don’t know what they are doing. These of course are the best ones to play against.

2. Players who try to judge the others players around the table. Amateur psychologists who play the person as much or more than the cards. They try to figure out who raises when they have nothing and who raises when they are loaded and play accordingly. They will stay in to the end with shit cards if they think the other guy is bluffing.

3. Players who play the odds. They know the probabilities and do not stay in a hand unless the odds are in their favor. An extreme example of this type of player is the guy who will only stay in a 7-stud game if his hole cards are a pair or Ace/King. (If you just played the odds you are almost guaranteed to win but poker wouldn't be much fun.)

4. This guy is a combination of the player who can player the other players around the table as well as know the probabilities involved with the cards exposed at the table. This is the most dangerous type of player to play against. Basically, anyone who has ever made it to the final table at the World Series of Poker would fall into this category. (By the way - just like everyone thinks they have a sense of humor - everyone who plays poker sees themselves as a category 4 player.)

Harry S. Truman fell into this forth category. Truman was a regular at Vice President John Nance Garner'’s poker game when Truman was a Senator. (Interestingly – Truman would later replace Garner as VP. Garner is also the man who described the job of VP not being worth a warm jug of spit.) At these games Truman became friends with Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn and members of the House from both parties. Truman’s reputation as honest, smart and humorous came in large part from participating in these poker games.

Truman would often play poker a few nights a week. The games could be with friends from back home in Missouri, newspapermen when he was traveling or other Senators back in Washington. Poker is something Truman did for fun and relaxation. It is a habit he kept throughout his time in Washington including all his time as President. (I should note that although poker may have been a habit with Truman – losing was not. Truman was an excellent poker player.)

Richard Nixon was a very different person from Truman and they also differed greatly when it came to poker.

Nixon was raised a Quaker but that did not stop him from either joining the Navy or from making a tidy sum playing poker in the service.

Nixon was poor (as was Truman) but didn’t have Truman’'s ease with people. Nixon, however, had a great analytical mind. At his height, Nixon was a category four player but in his heart he was really a category three player. Nixon knew the odds and liked to take advantage of them when they were in his favor.

Nixon was such a good poker player that he was able to finance his first run for Congress with $10,000 he won playing poker in the service (that was quite a bit of money back then). The higher Nixon rose, however, the less poker he played. By the time he became Vice President – Nixon had stopped playing altogether,

I have to think that if Nixon had kept his wit and person reading/interaction skills sharp by playing poker that his Presidency would have had a much different ending.

Interesting side note: Did you know that tie elections in the State of New Mexico are decided over a single game of chance? The game of chance has traditionally been – you guessed it - poker (usually one hand of five-card poker). This was last done in December 1999, in a local judge's race when Republican Jim Blanq and Democrat Lena Milligan played one hand of poker and Blanq won.

Unasked for opinions: I believe that John Kerry, Jimmy Carter and Al Gore are category 1 poker players. Something tells me that Dick Cheney knows his way around a poker table.

I would love to sit in a poker game involving the Red Sox brain trust. Think of it - John Henry, Larry Lucchino, Theo Epstein, Bill James and Chris Lynch - sounds like a fun game. (It would also look like I would be the chump at the table.)
Heh Heh

Hat tip to BallWonk
Some Baseball Flotsam and Jetsam

- David Wells had 10 win shares last year while Derek Lowe only had 6. Just saying.

- File this under a record that won't be broken. In 1978 Jim Rice played 163 regular season games - that's all 162 regular games and the one game playoff against the Yankees (which actually doesn't count as a playoff game as far as records are concerned).

- So Pro Player Stadium wants the Marlins out by 2010? Just as a reminder - ESPN once rated Pro Player Stadium a better baseball park than Yankee Stadium. Silly ESPN.

- Speaking of silly. Any GM who give Juan Gonzalez a contract should be fired. Never mind the fact that this guy has only averaged 62 games per year over the last three years - the guy is a disaster in the field and public relations wise.

- I think anything you read about proposed moves by Theo Epstein are bound to be wrong. Theo is unpredictable. Did anyone see the David Wells signing coming or the Sox making such a strong play for Renteria?

- One added benefit to the Sox trading Dave Roberts to a team where he can be a starter - other players will be more willing to be trade-deadline bit players on a championship caliber Sox team if they know Theo will do right by them after the playoffs are over.

- So John Smoltz is back as a starter? That makes sense. Smoltz will make $12 million next year which is starter money (same ballpark as Pedro or Schilling) meanwhile top closers make closer to $7 million per year (Foulke money).

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Pavano Signs with Yankees

Player A: 14-9 / 211 IP / 2.39 ERA

Player B: 18-8 / 222 IP / 3.00 ERA

Player C: 13-12 / 230 IP / 3.24 ERA

Player A is is Kevin Brown the year before he came to the Yankees, Player B is Pavano last year and Player C is Javier Vazquez the year before he joined the Yankees.

For the record Vazquez had a 4.91 ERA his first year in pinstripes and Brown went up to 4.09. I'd be willing to bet that Pavano does not have an ERA under 4.00 next season (or anytime during his contract as long as his home games are at Yankee Stadium).

Happy Birthday John Kerry

The man who would be king turns 61 today. No hard feelings. Happy birthday John Kerry.

Chaz Scoggins Interview

Fascinating interview of the official scorer for the Boston Red Sox. Must reading for any Red Sox or baseball fan. My favorite tidbit:
A couple of years ago, when Jim Rice was the hitting coach for the Red Sox, he called me after a game and asked me to change a call that would give John Valentin a hit. I immediately told him I would. "Don't you want to know the reason I'm asking?" he asked. "No," I replied, "and I'll tell you why. I was the official scorer here during the last 11 years of your career, and not once in those 11 years did you ever ask me to change a call. There are always balls that are in gray areas, and many nights I came down here expecting that would be the night you'd ask me to change my call, and you never did." "That's right. I never did, did I?" he chuckled. "You never did," I said, "So you have a lot of credibility in the bank with me. So if you think that's a hit, it's a hit."

Later it occurred to me that if Rice had asked me to change one or two calls a year during those 11 years, and I had done so, he would have hit .300 lifetime instead of .298. Those two points might have made the difference whether or not he gets into the Hall of Fame.
Hat tip to Baseball Musings

Matt Damon as Lance Armstrong?

Multiple sources are reporting that Matt Damon is poised to play the six-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong. Supposedly the movie will be made and released for 2006. Frank Marshall who worked with Damon on The Bourne Identity and The Bourne Supremecy is set to produce the biopic.

Don't believe me? Check here. Or here.

EDIT: In a related story - LiveStrong bracelets = DNR in some hospitals
Steve McQueen

Excellent article on the uber-cool Steve McQueen.

Hat tip to Betsy's Page.
Heh Heh

Gooseneck has a pretty good joke posted here.

I heard this one a long time ago but it still made me laugh.

David Wells?

Really? Wow!

The signing does make sense in that David Wells doesn't walk anyone (the Sox brass loves that) and if he succeeds then it would really tweak the Yankees and George Steinbrenner in particular (and that is always good for the soul).

Gordon Edes and Bob Holher report that the terms are:
...a two-year contract for a guaranteed $8 million, plus an additional $10 million in performance incentives that could make the total package worth $18 million.

Under the terms of the agreement, Wells would receive a $3 million signing bonus and have a base salary of $2.5 million in 2005 and 2006. He also would have the opportunity to earn an additional $5 million in performance bonuses in each year of the contract.
In another column, Edes points out that Wells hasn't been exactly stellar pitching at Fenway - going 10-10 with a 4.87 ERA but he neglects to mention that any start in Fenway is usually against one of the top offenses in baseball and now Wells will have that offense putting numbers up for him and not against him.

In recent history Wells has been much better at Fenway - in the last 3 years Wells has had 6 starts at Fenway with just a 2.19 ERA. (In comparison - Curt Schilling had a 3.45 ERA at Fenway last year.)

Maybe the best thing about the signing is that it frees up money at other positions. The Red Sox were probably thinking they had to spend $8 million for a number 3 starter and now they get Wells for half that price. That frees up $4 million to sign a decent short stop.

I like this deal mainly because Theo Epstein likes this deal. In Theo I trust.
Where the Buffalo Roam

I meant to link to this piece by Gerald Van del Leun yesterday. It is simply just superb.

Derek Lowe

I've been thinking a lot about Derek Lowe since Sandy mentioned the possibility of him going to the Atlanta Braves. Here's what I think will most likely happen with Derek Lowe:

1. He signs with Detroit for a little better than 3-years and $21 million. Lowe is from Michigan, the Tigers play in a pitcher friendly park and the Tigers need to sign someone. Sure they got Troy Percival but they really overpaid for him. The major free agents (like Beltran and Beltre) seem to be treating Detroit as Plan C. Add in the fact that the owner no longer has his beloved hockey team to tinker with this season and you get a mix ripe for a Lowe signing.

2. The Braves. I admit that I hadn't considered the Braves before Sandy mentioned them but it does make a lot of sense. The Braves just lost two of their starters (Ortiz and Wright) and may lose a third if they don't re-sign Byrd. They need a starter, Lowe would love working with Leo Mazzone and plus Lowe is an excellent athlete who I bet would relish the challenge of batting for himself. The Braves make a lot of sense and I would think that 3-years and $21 million would be in their budget.

3. The Red Sox. Don't forget the fact that if Lowe gets no suitable offers - he can always fall back on arbitration and a one-year deal with the Sox. If $7 million per year is the best offer they get - Scott Boras may try to bleed the Red Sox for $9 million in a one-year deal. That's what he did last year with Kevin Millwood and the Phillies. (Albeit that was a little different since the Phillies had offered a 3-year deal for $30 million while the Sox aren't offering Lowe any multi-year deals anymore but then again - Millwood wasn't a playoff hero like Lowe.)

Lowe isn't going to be a quick signing. He probably won't even be much in the news until the day he has to accept arbitration. Personally, I wouldn't mind the Sox bringing back Lowe for another year. His post-season heroics should have earned him at least that much. Plus the devil you know is almost guaranteed to give you 200 innings and you can't say that about the devil you don't know.

Anyway - the above are my thoughts on Derek Lowe.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Larry Miller - where are you?

Something's been missing from my weekly web reading for some time. Larry Miller hasn't posted a column at The Weekly Standard since August 17th. Larry Miller where are you?

Sure Larry's been busy with his day job but I need my Larry Miller on-line fix. Has he had a falling out with The Weekly Standard? Was being openly Republican in Hollywood hurting his career causing him to curb his writing? Did he become a Scientologist? Inquiring minds want to know.

If you aren't familiar with Larry Miller's writing - just pick any column from the first link and I'm sure you won't be disappointed.
Separated at Birth?

Harold Gould (who turns 81 today and may be best known as Rhoda's dad) and Conrad Veidt (who played Major Strasser in Casablanca). I always confuse these two.
Chris' Marital Tip # 857

Don't ever begin a sentence to your spouse that begins with the words, "Don't take this the wrong way but... "

UMass beats UConn!

Wow! This is big! The first time in 14 tries! The first time since Jim Calhoun has been the coach at UConn! Wow!

This is big! I watched half of the first half. I was excited when the Minutemen raced to an early lead but thought my hopes were going to be dashed when UConn came back (I then switched over to watching The Bourne Identity). This probably saved Steve Lappas' job!

I went to UMass and I hope this helps generate some excitement back into their program (although to be honest - Lappas isn't the man to do it).
Michael Crichton

The folks over at NRO's Corner seem to be treating Michael Crichton as some Johnny-come-lately in regard to "junk" science.

The truth is Crichton has been speaking out on the subject for some time. For example - take this speech from September of 2003:
...The greatest challenge facing mankind is the challenge of distinguishing reality from fantasy, truth from propaganda. Perceiving the truth has always been a challenge to mankind, but in the information age (or as I think of it, the disinformation age) it takes on a special urgency and importance.

We must daily decide whether the threats we face are real, whether the solutions we are offered will do any good, whether the problems we're told exist are in fact real problems, or non-problems....
Read the whole speech. Fascinating stuff and very well stated. I'll be sure to get his new book.
Separated at Birth?

Colin Montgomerie and Bill Parcells.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Jeff Kent?

Jeff Kent? Signed by the Dodgers? For $17 million over 2-years?

I admit that at first blush this made no sense to me. I mean Kent is 36 and this does not exactly seem like a "Moneyball" type signing. Was second base a problem for the Dodgers? I thought Alex Cora was an above average defensive second baseman (way better than Kent) and his OBP was actually better than Kent this year (.364 to .348). Sure he doesn't have the pop in his bat that Kent has but he also won't cost the Dodgers $8.5 million per year.

Jeff Kent made no sense to me as a second baseman for the Dodgers. (Not to mention the fact that Kent is the only teammate that has managed to make Barry Bonds seem likeable in comparison. Kent and Milton Bradley on the same team? Don King should secure the pay per view rights now.)

Then it hit me. Kent won't be a second baseman for the Dodgers. Next year he'll play third. Kent is taking Adrian Beltre's spot - not Cora's.

With Glaus setting the market at 4-years and $45 million there is no way that Beltre accepts less than 4-years $52 million. I guess that realization was just too much for the Dodgers and led to the Kent signing.

As far as power numbers - Kent hit 27 HR last year and drove in 107. He has a career 125 OPS+ - compare that to Beltre who had a breakout 163 OPS+ this year (Kent had a 165 OPS+ year in 2000 but he's been 133, 152, 118 and 124 since - OPS+ just as a reminder is a park neutral stat). The money that Beltre is asking for comes with no guaranty that he'll be able to duplicate this years level of production - so Kent actually was a fairly reasonable fiscal alternative.

Like I said - Kent was not a Moneyball signing (getting Shea Hillenbrand for half the money would have been a better Moneyball move by DePodesta). It is a move that is understandable though.