Monday, February 28, 2005

Separated at Birth?

Isiah Thomas NBA GM and a deer caught in the headlights.
Just Sayin’

If I ran a newspaper – every once and a while I would slip in the phrase “then a man wearing only a Batman cowl and cape jumped out of a closet” into random articles just to see if people were really reading the paper.

I think it would be amusing to be reading about a summit between Bush and Putin or a post game interview of David Ortiz and then have that phrase appear for no reason whatsoever.

Maybe it’s just me that would find that to be funny.
Dinner Guests from Any Time or Place

Recently Doug Mientkiewicz was asked if he had his choice of anyone from history – what three people would he want as dinner guests. Mietkiewicz’s choices were Jimmy Buffet, Jesus Christ and Jenna Jameson. When I read that my reaction was WTF!?! Then I realized that one of his guests may have said, “Judge not lest ye be judged.”

So instead of judging, I am revising my choices of dinner guests (I’ve done this before in this space). I think I would choose Jesus Christ, Ben Franklin and Winston Churchill. I’m assuming the Son of God would switch to English from Aramaic for the dinner conversation.
Stephen King on Hockey

I found this quote from Stephen King amusing:
Here’s what I understand about hockey: Bulky men wearing helmets and carrying sticks in their gauntleted hands skate around for a while on my TV; then some guy comes on and sells trucks. Sometimes chicks come on and sell beer.
Origin of the Term "Lynch"

When most people hear the word “lynch” they think of angry mobs with shouts of “string ’em up”. Or they think of white men in white hoods hanging a black man from a tree. If legend holds – then the origin of the term “to lynch” is nowhere near today’s meaning.

Back in the Old Country of Ireland, back in the days when Spain and England were the world’s biggest powers, the Spanish decided to try to settle things with the English in one fell swoop. So they sent out almost their entire navy – the Spanish Armarda as it came to be known – to do battle with the English.

The weather proved to be against the Spanish fleet and their commander made the tactical error of bringing the fight into the narrow straight between England and Ireland where the smaller, faster English ships had a distinct advantage. The result was a rout and many of the proud ships of the Spanish fleet were sunk in the Irish Sea.

Many Spanish sailors were able to make it to the safety of the shores of Ireland where they found welcome. The Irish and the Spanish had much in common (specifically their Catholic faith and hate of England). Many Spanish sailors settled in Ireland where their dark hair and complexion can still be seen today (descendants of the Spanish gave rise to the term “Black Irish” in reference to the common feature of black hair).

One such sailor found refuge in the sea-side city of Galway.

The Mayor of Galway was a well respected and much loved man named Lynch. He brought this sailor into his home where he became like a brother to the Mayor’s true son.

Tragically the sailor and the Mayor’s son fell in love with the same woman. One thing led to another and in a fit of jealous rage the Mayor’s son killed the Spanish sailor.

An investigation led to the truth and the Mayor’s son was found guilty of murder. The punishment was to be death by hanging.

Now because the mayor was so well loved and respected – no one could be found that would be willing to act as executioner. With nobody to act as executioner – the job fell to the Mayor himself. Out of respect for the law and in order not to break his oath to the people to uphold his sworn duties – Mayor Lynch had to put to death his own beloved son.

The term Lynch originally meant "brought to justice no matter what the personal cost." Now you can see how far from the original meaning we have come.

Lousy, stinking, lustful Spanish sailors! It’s all their fault!

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Oscar Odds

Here are some of the odds on tonight's Oscars:

Best Picture
The Aviator 1/2
Million Dollar Baby 7/5
Sideways 9/1
Finding Neverland 45/1
Ray 5/9

Best bet is Million Dollar Baby

Best Director
Martin Scorsese (The Aviator) 1/6
Clint Eastwood (Million Dollar Baby) 5/6
Alexander Payne (Sideways) 30/1
Mike Leigh (Vera Drake) 60/1
Taylor Hackford (Ray) 25/1

Eastwood should have won last year - so he should get it but has Scorsese ever won? This is a toss up.

Best Actor
Jamie Foxx (Ray) 1/20
Leonardo DiCaprio (The Aviator) 8/1
Don Cheadle (Hotel Rwanda) 30/1
Johnny Depp (Finding Neverland) 30/1
Clint Eastwood (Million Dollar Baby) 22/

Everybody is saying Jamie Foxx - so I'm going the other way and saying either Don Cheadle in a surprise or Johnny Depp for more of a life-time achievement deal.

Best Actress
Hilary Swank (Million Dollar Baby) 1/12
Annette Bening (Being Julia) 3/1
Imelda Staunton (Vera Drake) 12/1
Catalina Sandino Moerno (Maria Full of Grace) 50/1
Kate Winslet (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) 25/1

Really - who cares? Swank will probably win but since I think she has a "butter" face - I'm going with Bening in another of those "lifetime achievement" awards.
Slice of Life

Yesterday I was running some errands and my wife asked me if I could stop at the grocery story to pick up some grapes and maybe a honeydew melon for a fruit salad she was making for a pot-luck lunch.

So I go to the Big Y and I get the seedless grapes and a honeydew melon (or as the kids call it a "green melon"). I have but two items so naturally I head for the express check-out lane but that lane has about 8 people waiting. I spy a regular check-out lane with a guy just paying his bill and a middle aged woman with half a cart of groceries. I make the mistake of getting behind the woman.

The Big Y has a computerized check-out that shows the price of each item and a running total on a screen. This woman is scrutinizing the screen like Bill James scrutinizes box scores.

Some fruit goes under the scanner - "Wrong price!" the woman shouts. "The man gave me a different price." The young girl at the register looked at the fruit, looked at her screen that has the pricing and then she types in a lower price (my guess is the girl just picked something cheaper to satisfy the woman).

Some tupperware containers go under the scanner - "Wrong price!" the woman again shouts. "No that's the right price," says the girl who probably isn't inclined to give this lady another break. "But aren't they on sale?" "No - the smaller ones are on sale." "Well then I don't want them - take them off." The young girl at the register complies and the rest of the items go under the scanner without incident.

Once the total is reached, the woman's cell phone goes off and she answers it in what sounds like Russian. She turns her back on the young girl at the register so as to not interupt her cell call.

Finally the call ends and the woman goes to pay the total but she tells the young girl she would like to pay half in cash and put the rest on her credit card. I turn to the people behind me, they look at me and then we all look at the ceiling and take a deep breath.

I purchase my two items with no incident and on the way out I can't help but notice that there is nobody waiting in the express lane.

Please note that I wasn't upset by this but more amused. I always pick the wrong lane. Me picking the right lane is like Chris Berman picking NFL games against the spread.
More Morning Links

- Gordon Edes' Baseball Notes

- Another piece by VDH - he's a busy man. This one's on Old Europe

- Mark Steyn - also on Old Europe

- Nice piece on the Marines and Iwo Jima This piece is today's MUST reading.
Morning Links

- VDH on Postmodern War (hat tip LGF)

- Its nice of Mike Hampton to do this and I hope they find the girl safe and sound

- I have to disagree with this whole premise by Dan Wetzel. Red Sox fans never considered Lowe a "party guy". It was his inconsistency and tendency to lose his confidence after errors that caused his departure from the Sox - not any after-hours activities.

- Bill Simmons on the NBA trades

Saturday, February 26, 2005

The Worst GM in the NBA

Maybe in NBA history.
The Net Results of the Antoine Walker Deals

The recent NBA trading deadline saw a rash of deals but none were as interesting as Danny Ainge and the Boston Celtics trading for the guy they so publicly traded away last year - Antoine Walker.

I'm not so much interested in whether this was a good move or a bad move by the Celtics. I am interested in the simple math this trade represents and what that math says about Danny Ainge as a General Manager.

Since taking over as Celtics General Manager, Danny Ainge has had three major trades and one minor trade that I want to examine.

First he traded Walker and Tony Delk to the Mavericks for Raef LaFrentz, Jiri Welsh and Chris Mills plus a first round draft pick in 2004.

Secondly, he traded Chucky Atkins, Marcus Banks and Chris Mihm plus a second round pick to the Lakers for Gary Payton and Rick Fox.

Thirdly, Ainge traded Gary Payton, Tom Gugliotta, Michael Stewart and a first round draft pick to Atlanta for Antoine Walker.

Finally, Ainge traded Jiri Welsh to Cleveland for a first round pick.

Now Rick Fox decided to retire instead of moving to Boston, so the Lakers sent back Marcus Banks - so that cancels out. They traded Walker away and then back - so that cancels out. They traded for Payton, then traded him away - so that cancels out. They trade for Jiri Welsch and traded him away - so that cancels out.

In addition, Gugliotta didn't really cost anything to sign and they didn't really get anything in return - so he cancels out. Chris Mills is out of the NBA - so he's flotsam. Most people agree that Michael Stewart won't amount to much in the NBA - so he's jetsam.

That means that the basic math of Danny Ainge's deals come down to trading away Tony Delk, Chucky Atkins, and Chris Mihm for Raef LaFrentz. Here's how those four players are doing this year.

Tony Delk is averaging 11.1 points, 2.2 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game for the Mavericks.

Chuck Atkins is averaging 13.3 points, 2.7 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game for the Lakers.

Chris Mihm is averaging 10.5 points, 6.9 rebounds and 0.6 assists per game for the Lakers.

Raef LaFrentz is averaging 11.4 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game for the Celtics.

That's three guys averaging better than 10 points per game traded away and one guy averaging better than 10 points per game gotten in return. That's not good. (Please note that before doing this simple math - I was a staunch Danny Ainge supporter but even I can admit that this doesn't look so good.)

The only saving grace for Ainge is the fact that with the first round pick he got from Dallas, he drafted Delonte West who is only averaging 3.8 points, 1.2 rebounds and 1.1 assists this year but who gives some promise of developing into a solid NBA starter.

Looking at things objectively, you would have to say that Ainge has done a sub-par job as GM so far. His draft work has been good (in addition to West - Ainge also drafted Al Jefferson who looks like a real keeper and Tony Allen who looks like he may develop into a starting point guard). I don't think it is a stretch to say that Ainge needs to get someone good with Walker's salary cap slot (Antoine Walker's contract expires this season) and will have to do well in the 2005 draft in order to get above .500 as the General Manager of the Boston Celtics.

At least according to the simple math.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Jose Canseco as Sonny Crockett

With Jose Canseco so much in the news lately - it got me thinking of this idea that I've long held.

Months ago I found this screen test by Jose Canseco (with a cameo by Darryl Strawberry) and it got me thinking that Jose Canseco would make a better Sonny Crockett from Miami Vice than Don Johnson ever made.

Someone should reshoot Miami Vice with Jose Canseco and Darryl Strawberry starring as Crockett and Tubbs. The idea has really grown on me and I have become convinced that if MTV or ESPN were to do this that it would be a big hit.

For the other roles on the show - I would cast:

Joe Torre (or Jimmy Kimmel's Uncle Frank) as Lt. Martin Castillo (originally played by Edward James Olmos)

Serena Williams as Det. Gina Navarro Calabrese (originally played by Saundra Santiago)

Anna Kournikova as Det. Judy Troplin (originally played by Olivia Brown)

John Kruk as Det. Stan Switek (originally played by Michael Talbott)

Martina Navratilova as Det. Larry Zito (originally played by John Diehl)

All the producers would have to do is have the "actors" play it straight and it would be off the scale funny. Can you imagine how funny Jose Canseco would be trying to be smooth, angry or anything other than vacant? Nick at Nite or TV Land could produce this show and then run the originals back-to-back. It would become "must see TV".

I would also have the producers try to get everything on the first take so that you get to see Jose Canseco having trouble reading cue cards or putting on the wrong facial expressions. The show would be just one long series of funny out-takes. How could it not be a hit?

The only change I would make to the original is instead of having tons of extras - I would just have an occasional girl in a bikini (to save on production costs and to add to the eye candy quotient).

Don't you think that this would be awesome? Wouldn't you crack open a beer and watch this?
Atrios Using ALR as Blogging Role Model

Mick from FishKite points out that Atrios sorta kinda mentions A Large Regular in his recent post on how to blog:
6) Establishing a large regular readership takes a lot of time, no matter how brilliant and persistent you are. And, persistence is key. While some fairly popular bloggers post inconsistently, most people with a large regular readership post at least daily. People will click on your sitemore often if they think there's a good chance there will be something new to look at.
Emphasis mine. Maybe I'm stretching things here? You have to admit that I am brilliant and persistent (well persistent at least).
The Complete Calvin and Hobbes On-Line

This will take hours and hours to read (but its worth it)
Morning Links

- Peggy Noonan with some interesting tidbits

- A real life Fight Club in Oakland (I'm partly linking to this just so that you too can have the phrase "Brad Pitt's hammy ass" stuck into your consciousness) H/T FARK

- Drew Bledsoe now a Cowboy

- Jason Stark has a new column upon Uggie Urbina

- Ralph Steadman remembers HST

- Aaron Gleeman makes a very good case for Barry Larkin as a Hall of Famer

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Just Sayin'

Say a player decided to do steroids. Say the player was 5'10" and only had little better than warning track power to start his pro career (say a HR once every 22 at bats during his first three plus seasons). Now say that player is with a new team where he suddenly has monster power (say 74 HR in 2 seasons at a clip of one HR in fewer than 15 AB). Doesn't this look a bit suspicious in hindsight?

Now say that this new found monster power makes the player attractive to another club and that club gives up two stud players (say a stud starter and a stud outfielder) - who is the real victim in this scenrio? Who is the culprit?

The fans of the team of the team who traded the stud prospects certainly lost out in the deal since hypothetically the guy with monster power hasn't delivered the team to the playoffs and now seems injury prone meanwhile the stud prospects look like franchise type players.

The player who may or may not have done steroids made out because he got a big fat contract but if it came out that he did use steroids his reputation would be permenantly scarred. Plus he may be facing unknown health issues down the line if he used steroids. For doing steroids, he'd obviously be a culprit in at least the fans' eyes.

Is the team who traded him a culprit in this? I mean all of a sudden the guy was a monster HR hitter when he wasn't before. Shouldn't they have known something was up? And if they knew or suspected he was a steroids user and still traded him - what does that make them?

Steroids is an awful, awful subject to cover. Not just the records are now in question but also the trades and the monster contracts.
Iwo Jima

60 years ago today
Kraft Takes the Lombardi Trohpy to Israel

I found this interesting:
"This is the first time in the history of American football that the trophy has ever been outside of America," Kraft said.

Kraft drew a parallel between his very American sport and the way Israel is run.

"You get three out of four Super Bowls by subjugating the ego for the good of the whole," he said. "In Israel, this is in the fabric of the country, to create a democracy that thrives against the odds."
Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, also placed a prayer for Tedy Bruschi at the Western Wall. I found it very interesting that the Lombardi Trophy had never been outside the US. I wonder how long before someone says this is some sort of proof of an Israel / neo-con conspiracy.
Interesting HST Quote

I'm not trying to overdose on Hunter S. Thompson here but I did find this quote from Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72 interesting:
Live steady. Don't fuck around.Give anything weird a wide berth - including people. It's not worth it. I learned this the hard way, through brutal overindulgence.
This was written in 1972 and it looks like HST failed to take his own advice but at least now maybe the quote could make a good epitath.
Morning Links

- Interesting Update on the Plame Blame case:
We are now left with a classic Constitutional showdown between the rights of a prosecutor to investigate an alleged crime and the right of the press to protect its sources. The problem for the media is that while the First Amendment protects the right to publish, this case is about the news-gathering process. And going back to Branzburg v. Hayes in 1972, the Supreme Court has never found a special First Amendment privilege that protects reporters from testifying in criminal cases.
Few journalists really understand what the 1st Amemdment actually says. If the judges rule against the journalists - I wonder how people like the Times will manage to wail against "activist judges"?

- Sultans suing Sean (say that five times fast):
"Scarcely, or in any event, no longer 'the sexiest man alive' portrayed in the tabloids and bearing no resemblance to the superspy . . . Connery's appearance and behaviour was that of a rude, foul-mouthed, fat old man".
- 1,161 forever lost to the fire of 9/11

- Potentially the most embarassing tech support call ever

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Happy 55th Dr. J

Cobb on Hunter S.

I found this to be spit at my computer funny.

(Check out Cobb's website - its blogroll worthy. I know I'm adding him.)
Late Links

- Peter Gammons put up a new column yesterday

- Al Franken on Black History (you have no idea how funny I find a guy like Franken lecturing the Republican Party on black history)

- Doug Flutie update

- Bill Simmons with a decent column today
ESPN - Money Grubbing Bastards is doing a tribute to Hunter S. Thompson on their Page 2. They have a thing that shows his first column for Page 2 and his last. The problem is - this is what you get when you click on his "first" column for Page 2.

Trying to make a dime on the death of Hunter S. Thompson by pimping Insider subscriptions.

Money grubbing bastards.
Kofi Annan in Denial

The UN had the lead in tsunami relief? In the real world - NO. In the world kofi would have you believe in - YES:
When the appalling disaster of the tsunami struck in the Indian Ocean, killing at least 150,000 people and destroying the livelihood of millions, President Bush acted quickly to form a core group of nations with available military forces in the region. That was the right thing to do. It got the relief efforts off to a flying start, which was essential.

But a week later, when all involved came together in Jakarta to plan and coordinate the multinational effort, everyone, including the U.S., agreed that the U.N. should take the lead.
Take the lead in what? Taking credit? Kofi can you name one military group from the US or Australia that agreed to be under UN control?

Unbelieveably - Kofi would also have you believe that all that's good in Iraq today is also the result of his leadership at the UN:
And yet, when the U.S. and its allies wanted an Iraqi body with broad national and international support to help them run the country, they turned to the U.N. and my special representative, Sergio Vieira de Mello, for help and advice. He persuaded L. Paul Bremer that it should be a Governing Council, not a mere advisory body, and he persuaded key Iraqi leaders such as Ayatollah Sistani to let their followers join it. Sergio and 21 of his colleagues paid with their lives for their courage and determination to help the Iraqi people--as, alas, do too many brave servants of the U.N. whom the world hears little about.

Last year, when the Coalition wanted to transfer power to an interim Iraqi government, they turned again to the U.N. for help. They knew that if the U.N. were involved in choosing it the new government would have a much better chance of being accepted as legitimate and sovereign.

Both Iraqis and Americans also turned to the U.N. for help in organizing last month's elections. The U.N. helped to draft the electoral law and the law on political parties, to choose and train the members of the independent electoral commission and hundreds of election organizers (who in turn trained thousands of others), and to draw up the voters' lists. It was also there to give advice on the actual conduct of the election, the vote count, and the announcement of the results. Again, we had the necessary expertise--we have organized or helped organize elections in 92 countries, including most recently Afghanistan and Palestine. But even more important was the legitimacy that our involvement brought. The results of an election organized by the Coalition powers, or by Iraqis that they had chosen, would have been less widely accepted in the outside world, and probably in Iraq as well.
His hubris is unbelievable. No mention that the UN cut and ran at the first sign of trouble? Unbelievable.

This is my favorite:
We can give expert advice, if asked, on the drafting of the [Iraqi] constitution. We can reach out to those groups--mainly Sunni Arabs--who stayed away from the elections, for whatever reason, but are willing to pursue their goals through peaceful negotiation and dialogue. And we can bring together the world community in a joint effort to help Iraq rebuild itself and heal the wounds of dictatorship and war.
Emphasis mine. If the UN was so integral in the Iraqi elections and in forming the provisional government - why haven't the Iraqi's come to Kofi Daddy and the UN for more advice? I think we all know the answer.

Kofi says, "I could speak also about the 18 peace operations we have in war-torn countries around the world" as if these are good things but then he says, "Even more shocking are widespread cases of sexual exploitation and abuse of minors by peacekeepers and U.N. officials in the Congo and other African countries." Hey Kofi - don't look now but I think you just did speak about those 18 "peace" operations. Bribery, sexual exploitation and slavery. Yeah - really doing a bang-up job there Kofi.

Read his whole letter in the Wall Street Journal. More than anything - I bet that this bit of hubris helps take down Kofi. He admits to "problems", he admits they happened on his watch and he wants to fix them but now that he's admitted he's part of the problem - look for people to use his own words to show him the door.
Flotsam and Jetsam

For what its worth - Manny Ramirez didn't hit a single home run in Spring training last year until the very last preseason game. He went on to win the AL HR crown... If you do a Google search on the "Vatican Olympic team" - A Large Regular is the first choice... Of all the telephone numbers in Paris Hilton's cell phone - I found the fact that she had the number to Southwest Airlines most interesting. Why would she have that number? Can you picture her ever taking a Southwest flight somewhere? Did she work for Southwest as part of the Simple Life deal?... Contrast this piece by Tom Wolfe with this piece by Gerard Van Der Luen. Both paint the picture of a reckless narcissist only I think Gerard sees the picture more clearly. How would you have liked to be the people who lived upstairs from the bar, or a patron eating a quiet meal at the Brazilian restaurant or the professor who booked HST to speak at his college only to have him no-show?...

Monday, February 21, 2005

MMQB Review

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

1. King spends much of his column space explaining why it was correct for the Patriots to keep Tom Brady over Drew Bledsoe. The rest of the football world came to that conclusion three years ago.

2. Which of these sentences did not find its way into today's column:

A: I can honestly report it's good to go through the day without your hands shaking.

B: That dog might have the best posture in canine history.

C: My last physical was a double glover.

The answer was C but I think A and B give you an idea of what kind of effort was put into today's column by Mr. King.

3. You say J.P. Losman and I say Akili Smith (3rd pick overall). The Bills need a veteran QB ready to step in - some one like Trent Dilfer or Jon Kitna. Just sayin'.

4. Today's column marked the return of Peter King talking about his daughter Mary Beth. Just when I thought it was a thing of the past, PK starts writing about his kids again. If I were Mary Beth and dad asked me what I wanted for my birthday, I'd say "I want you to stop writing about me in your columns!"

5. File this under - this is why some people think Peter King is clueless to how he comes off as a priviledged jerk:
Stopped by the Bil-Jac table, bought some doggie treats for Bailey the 5-year-old Golden Retriever, and the fellow behind the counter handed out a box of Bil-Jac dog food. I remembered Bil-Jac as the dog food that had the signage in old Cleveland Stadium, right behind the Dawg Pound.

"What we'd ask you to do,'' the pleasant man said, "is put a bowl of your regular dog food down, with a bowl of Bil-Jac alongside, and see which one the dog goes for." He pulled out a postage-paid postcard. "Then write back to us, telling us which your dog liked better, and we'll send you a coupon for more of our food.''

Sure, sure. Might be a little more work than I can handle on an off-day, Mr. Bil-Jac.

Probably not going to happen that way. The way Bil-Jac will be sampled by Bailey, I'm sure, is when I look to the bottom of the dog-food bin, see it's empty, and remember I've got the ol' Bil-Jac emergency supply.
You stopped at the both, the nice guy gave you something for free and you make a snide remark about it in your nationally read column? It would have taken less effort to fill out the damn card.
More HST

This was his final column for ESPN's Page 2 - Shotgun Golf with Bill Murray

Lileks weighs in:
It was all bile and spittle at the end, and it was hard to read the work without smelling the dank sweat of someone consumed by confusion, anger, sudden drunken certainties and the horrible fear that when he sat down to write, he could only muster a pale parody of someone else’s satirical version of his infamous middle period.
Lileks is right. HST had become a charicature of his former self much like Brando in his later years. Just like Brando, even in his final period HST could pull off a bit of brilliance now and then but just like Brando for every The Freshman there were a dozen Island of Dr. Morneau's. HST will be missed. I've already started to re-read Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72 (because it was my favorite)
Being Hunter S. Thompson

I think most fans of Hunter S. Thompson would agree that after reading Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas you wanted to be Hunter S. Thompson or at least be like him.

I first read Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas as a high school senior and I would like to say that he had no influence in my behavior that year or in my decision to live the fraternity life in college but that wouldn't be 100% true. The lure to be like Hunter S. was/is very strong for the young and bulletproof.

Maybe the best known example of "Being Hunter S Thompson" Syndrome belonged to Bill Murray:
Billy [Murray] had spent his summer making a movie called Where the Buffalo Roam , which, as its subtitle explained, was "based on the twisted legend of Hunter S. Thompson." Billy played Thompson, and he was still absorbed in finishing the film as the fifth season started. In a classic case of the role overtaking the actor, Billy returned that fall to Saturday Night so immersed in playing Hunter Thompson he had virtually become Hunter Thompson, complete with long black cigarette holder, dark glasses, and nasty habits. "Billy," said one of the writers, echoing several others, "was not Bill Murray, he was Hunter Thompson. You couldn't talk to him without talking to Hunter Thompson."
Fortunately, Murray was able to grow out of his HST phase and find himself. Most people do. Most people except it seems Hunter S. Thompson himself.
Hunter S. Thompson - 1937-2005

Hunter S. Thompson took his own life yesterday. His life of writing he bequeaths to us.

ESPN has this story

The Denver Post has a fine obituary

The Rocky Mountain News has more info on the suicide

I think if you wanted to really know the talent of this man you would read in order; Hell's Angels, Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas, and finally Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Heh Heh II

Yoda on the O'Reilly Factor

(Hat tip to Baseball Crank)
Heh Heh

Nice laugh for a Sunday afternoon.
Morning Links

- The Red Sox Championship Rings (as an aside - Chris Snow is doing a great job as the new Red Sox beat reporter for the Globe)

- Gordon Edes Baseball Notes

- Mark Steyn

- MLB scalping tickets?

- Iwo Jima (must reading)
The NBA All-Star Game

Today is the NBA All-Star Game. The game has special meaning for my wife and me. Our first date was to watch the NBA All-Star game so today marks our unofficial anniversary.

Back in college I met my future wife at a dance. We hit it off and found we had similar interests. Among those interests was basketball and specifically the Boston Celtics. This was the mid-80's and the Celtics were riding high with Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Dennis Johnson, Robert Parish and Danny Ainge. That night at the dance we agreed to go out on a date. The date was to meet at my dorm room the next day to watch the NBA All-Star Game.

Many things have changed in our lives since that first date. We've been married for close to fifteen years and we have four kids. Many things have also changed in the NBA but those changes don't seem to be as positive.

Nothing shows the changes to the NBA better than the All-Star game. The action today will be all dunks and three pointers. The focus on those two things at the expense of all else has all but rendered the NBA unwatchable.

Back in the 80's the slogan was "the NBA - its FANtastic." Today's slogan should be "the NBA - its not FUNdamental." Somehow along the way NBA players have forgotten how to throw a bounce pass or shoot a bank shot. The fundamentals are missing from today's game and that makes the NBA difficult to watch. A game of nothing but dunks and three-pointers gets boring quick.

There is no better percentage shot in basketball than a bank shot but yet the only players who seem to use a bank shot today are Tim Duncan and some European players. It is the lack of an accurate mid-range shot by the players today that has depressed scoring in the NBA. Games with final scores in the mid-80's are the norm today and those games are boring.

My wife is representative of the fans the NBA has lost. She used to be able to name every player on the Celtics and she knew the name of each member of the All-Star team from both the East and West. Today she'd be lucky to name two players for the Celtics. The NBA no longer holds her interest because its boring.

I just hope that she still finds life with me interesting.
A-Rod vs. Jeter

I find it interesting that last year at this time one of the most popular Spring Training topics was how Derek Jeter should make room for Alex Rodriguez at shortstop because A-Rod was the better fielder. You don't hear that argument this spring even though the defensive capabilities of A-Rod vs. Jeter remain the same. Why the change?

To me the big change is how A-Rod is precieved. Last year A-Rod was considered by many to maybe be the best short stop in history never mind in baseball today. These days A-Rod is percieved as a vastly talented egocentric prima donna. Even the baseball writers seems to be thinking "screw Slappy McMeFirst - Jeter's our guy."

You may still get a few stats guys arguing about the difference in range factor for the two players but for the most part Jeter is the guy people want at short. Even Red Sox fans prefer Jeter.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Susan Estrich Challenges for Uber Harpy Status

You may or may not have seen this letter from Susan Estrich to the LA Times. That letter is the culmination of a liberals gone wild flame war between Estrich and Michael Kinsley of the LA Times.

The bruhaha started with this email (via Cathy's Page). I'll leave it to others to discuss and describe how unhinged Susan Estritch has become - what caught my eye was this paragraph:
The article last Sunday was penned by a feminist-hater I have never heard of, nor probably have you, by the name of Charlotte Allen... her only book was about Jesus and religion written eight years ago, and as far as I can tell what she does is to edit a blog for the Independent Womens Forum which is a group of right wing women who exist to get on tv and get in newspapers attacking the likes of us. Wendy Kaminer did a wonderful piece a few years ago, pointing out how this group, which has no members, no constituency, no events, no nothing except media contact sheets-- (a lot of them turn out to be the wives of the guys you see on right wing talk shows)... was created to give these women something to put under their names so they could get into the media. Since they have no jobs, standing, professorships, etc.... they put the IWF. It certainly works with the boys at the LATimes.... (a google search produces nothing else on this woman other than co-editing the blog for the Independent Womens Forum; her most recent entry comes close to celebrating Susan Sontag's death....
I don't know the name Charlotte Allen but many bloggers have defended both her character and scholarship. The name I thought of when I read that paragraph was Martha Burk. You remember Martha Burk - right?

She was the woman who the New York Times made a media darling because she stumbled onto the cause of trying to force Augusta National to have a woman member. She was front page news to the NY Times even though her National Council of Womens Organizations (not to be confused with the North Carolina Wind Orchestra) had no events or real standing (the only events on their calendar had to do with protesting at Augusta). Burk became a liberal media darling based upon taking a stand that the liberal media thought should be pushed. In the end more reporters showed up for Burk's protest than protesters. The NY Times was revealed to be a shill and this daft advocacy is one of the things that cost Howell Raines his job. Everyone involved in the "protest" became a punchline.

Now it looks like Estrich is looking to take the title of Uber Harpy from the discredited Martha Burk. The last staw for Burk came when she tried to link the war in Iraq to no women members at Augusta. How long before Estrich claims that not getting her letters printed is somehow related to women wearing Burqa's?

Good luck with all that.

(hat tip to The Anchoress for some of the links)
Nomar Garciaparra

When an athlete of Nomar's stature leaves a team often times the fans will turn on the player. I don't think Boson fans will turn on Nomar and I know I will be wishing him the best this year. Personally, I think he could put up .310 / 25 HR / 100 R / 100 RBI type numbers for the Cubs this year.

One thing I thought interesting is the fact that Nomar may end the season out of the top 10 in most of the Red Sox all-time statistical categories and that surprised me.

Batting Average: 4th with a .323 career mark (Manny Ramirez is 5th at .321 and could concieveably knock Nomar down a peg but Nomar should be in the top 10 for a long, long time)

Doubles: 8th with 279 (nobody will come close to knocking him out of this top 10 for years)

HR: 9th with 178 (Manny will probably bump him down to 10th by the end of the season and either Trot Nixon or David Ortiz will eventually bump him out of the top 10 alltogther)

Total Bases: 10th with 2194 (he's safe for a couple of seasons because Manny is the next closest active player with 1286)

Slugging: 4th all-time with s .553% (this will stand for a long time)

Nomar played 9 seasons for the Red Sox and for many clubs his numbers would have put him at the top of all their all-time stats. I was just surprised that Nomar wasn't top 10 in more categories for the Red Sox.
Morning Links

- Uggie Urbina's Mom is Rescued!

- Last night I finally wrote about the NHL season being over and today the season may be back on? My timing is awful.

- Bruschi out of hospital: I had forgotten about the examples of Gray, Burgmeier and JR Richard

- Jason Stark reviews off season baseball moves

- SI's Swimsuit Edition on-line. Marisa Miller is just smoking hot. As far as the athletes are concerned - Amanda Beard is just WOW! Venus Williams looks better with clothes on and Lauren jackson looks great (except when they do a close-up of her face)

Friday, February 18, 2005

The NHL Lockout

I've thought long and hard on the subject of there being no NHL season this year and I've decided that I'm siding with the players over the owners.

The owners are currently trying to make this look like greedy players are ruining the league financially. There's all this talk about all these teams that are losing money and even more talk about how the average salary per player is $1.8 million per year. Who wouldn't love to have a job where the average salary is $1.8 million you will hear all the hockey GM's ask?

I'm sure many players would have voted to agree to the $42.5 million cap. They know the money they could have made this year is probably more than what their parents made in their lifetimes. They know that the average fan thinks they are either crazy or greedy for wanting more than that average $1.8 million.

I'm sure that if put to a vote though, the majority of players would still vote against a hard salary cap.

Before I go into why I think the owners are wrong let me first say that I think Bob Goodenow did an awful job. He is as much to blame for there being no hockey this year as anyone. He should have done his negotiations in public. He should have been able to express the reasons the players were right and he should have taken his case to the fans. He should have exposed and explained the owners naked greed. He didn't and now he is exposed for the boob that he is.

In a nutshell the owners are trying to put the hammer to the players. They don't care about the fans or the game of hockey. All they care about is money. Never forget that fact.

You hear about all the teams that are losing money but no specific list has been released to my knowledge. If there was a list - I bet the teams losing money would fall into three general categories. You would have the franchises that are just poorly run. You would have franchises that are fronts and are supposed to lose money or break even. Then you would also have teams located in areas that cannot support a professional hockey team.

Think about the back of the napkin math. Supposedly, the NHL had a little over $2 billion last year in revenues. With 30 teams that would average out to about $70 million per team but of course that revenue doesn't average out. Just like in baseball there are big market teams and small market teams. What the owners and Gary Bettman want to do is control the big market teams' spending and it is the players who will pay that price.

That $42.5 million cap that Bettman proposed was a hard cap. No team would be allowed to go over it. That doesn't mean that all the teams would have to spend $42.5 million - it just means that teams would not be allowed to spend more than $42.5 million.

Let me make a baseball analogy. Imagine if a hard cap of $75 million was put in place in MLB. That hard cap wouldn't incent teams like the Tampa Bay Devil Rays to spend more money. They would remain at about $35 million. The big market teams like the Red Sox and Yankees would have to stop at $75 million and the money that is today spent on salaries over that number would go directly into the owners' pockets. Plus, if a big market team like the Yankees was at the cap number - then they couldn't go out and just sign any new free agent they wanted. This would depress the earnings potential of free agents and this is exactly what the NHL wants and exactly what they are trying to do.

The small market teams get a better chance of resigning their stars because the market is depressed and the big market teams get to put more money in their pockets. That's what the hard cap boils down to.

Take this the logical next step further. Gary Bettman has said there will definitely be a season next year. He's counting on the players caving. In addition, don't be surprised if he says that the new cap number is now $40 million. The players will either come back at a reduced rate or the owners will bring in replacement players. If replacement players are brought in you can be sure that ticket prices will remain the same even though the product on the ice will be greatly diluted.

Why should the onus for the owners keeping their spending in line be placed on the players? Each franchise is a business. Shouldn't the owners who were able to amass large fortunes that enabled them to buy franchises be able to handle a balance sheet?

Why wouldn't a soft cap like what the players proposed work? If a team goes over the cap they pay a luxury tax that goes to the poorest teams. This system works in baseball.

What the owners are trying to pull in the NHL is nothing but naked greed. I'm siding with the players on this.
In Honor of My 160,000th Visitor - Here's a Picture of Jose Lima's Wife


This site just had its 160,000th visitor. Not bad considering I started the blog last March 12th.

Thanks to all who have come by and said hello. Remember - if you like this site - link to me or tell a friend.

Baseball Stat of the Day

Since joining the Red Sox, Bill Mueller has had 470 regular season AB at Fenway Park (almost a full season worth of AB) and in those AB he has hit .343 with 48 2B, 15 HR, 94 R, and 86 RBI.

And since joining the Red Sox he has had 123 regular season AB against the Yankees and in those AB he has hit .341 with 8 2B, 9 HR, 23 R and 26 RBI.
Morning Links

- No individual embassies for European nations if EU constitution adopted?

- As I write this - I may be preventing liver cancer

- VDH Friday

- Politicizing the science of global warming
Teddy Bruschi

You may have heard the news that New England Patriots linebacker Teddy Bruschi suffered a mild stroke from a "leaking blood vessel in his brain" according to the Boston Globe.

I was in New York when I heard the news and I almost immediately had flashbacks to 1982 when Boston Bruins'first-round draft pick Norman Leveille's hockey career ended suddenly following an burst aneurysm. It is not clear whether Bruschi had an aneurysm (which is a bulge in a blood vessel similar to a "bubble" in an inner tube) but what seems clear is that Bruschi's ailment will certainly not be close to as debilitating as Leveille's - whose aneurysm left him partially paralysed with speech and motor skills impairment.

It also brought to mind the death of the man who could have Boston's greatest sports legend if he had not died so young - Harry Agganis. Unlike Bruschi and Leveille, Agganis suffered a fatal attack. His being a pulmonary embolus (a blocked vein in the lungs).

I guess the underlying message is that you can never be too young or too healthy for something like this to occur. Carpe diem.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Flags of Our Fathers

I'm traveling today and won't have much opportunity to post but I have picked up James Bradley's fantastic Flags of Our Fathers which brought to mind something I though I would repost.

I originally posted the following last Veteran's day:

With yesterday being the 229th Birthday of the US Marines and today being Veteran's Day - the two put me in mind of this post. I originally found it on a discussion board at the History Channel a couple of years ago. It was so good and so moving that I immediately cut and pasted it and emailed it to myself. Anything I say about it will not do it justice - so I'm just posting it here for you to read:
Each year I am hired to go to Washington, DC, with the eighth grade class from Clinton, Wisconsin, where I grew up, to videotape their trip. I greatly enjoy visiting our nation's capitol, and each year I take some special memories back with me. This fall's trip was especially memorable.

On the last night of our trip we stopped at the Iwo Jima Memorial. This memorial is the largest bronze statue in the world and depicts one of the most famous photographs in history - that of the six brave soldiers raising the American Flag at the top of a rocky hill on the island of Iwo Jima, Japan, during WW II. Over one hundred students and chaperones piled off the buses and headed towards the memorial. I noticed a solitary figure at the base of the statue, and as I got closer he asked, "Where are you guys from?" I told him that we were from Wisconsin.

"Hey, I'm a cheese head, too! Come gather around Cheese heads, and I will tell you a story."

(James Bradley just happened to be in Washington, DC, to speak at the memorial the following day. He was there that night to say good night to his dad, who has since passed away. He was just about to leave when he saw the buses pull up. I videotaped him as he spoke to us, and received his permission to share what he said from my videotape. It is one thing to tour the incredible monuments filled with history in Washington, D.C., but it is quite another to get the kind of insight we received that night. When all had gathered around he reverently began to speak. Here are his words that night.)

"My name is James Bradley and I'm from Antigo, Wisconsin. My dad is on that statue, and I just wrote a book called "Flags of Our Fathers", which is #5 on the New York Times Best Seller list right now. It is the story of the six boys you see behind me. Six boys raised the flag. The first guy putting the pole in the ground is Harlon Block. Harlon was an all-state football player. He enlisted in the Marine Corps with all the senior members of his football team. They were off to play another type of game. A game called "War."

But it didn't turn out to be a game. Harlon, at the age of 21, died with his intestines in his hands. I don't say that to gross you out, I say that because there are generals who stand in front of this statue and talk about the glory of war. You guys need to know that most of the boys in Iwo Jima were 17, 18, and 19 years old. (He pointed to the statue) You see this next guy? That's Rene Gagnon from New Hampshire. If you took Rene's helmet off at the moment this photo was taken, and looked in the webbing of that helmet, you would find a photograph --- a photograph of his girlfriend. Rene put that in there for protection, because he was scared. He was 18 years old. Boys won the battle of Iwo Jima. Boys. Not old men.

The next guy here, the third guy in this tableau, was Sergeant Mike Strank. Mike is my hero. He was the hero of all these guys. They called him the "old man" because he was so old. He was already 24. When Mike would motivate his boys in training camp, he didn't say, "Let's go kill some Japanese," or "Let's die for our country." He knew he was talking to little boys. Instead he would say, "You do what I say, and I'll get you home to your mothers."

The last guy on this side of the statue is Ira Hayes, a Pima Indian from Arizona. Ira Hayes walked off Iwo Jima. He went into the White House with my dad. President Truman told him, "You're a hero." He told reporters, "How can I feel like a hero when 250 of my buddies hit the island with me, and only 27 of us walked off alive?" So you take your class at school. 250 of you spending a year together having fun, doing everything together. Then all 250 of you hit the beach, but only 27 of your classmates walk off alive. That was Ira Hayes. He had images of horror in his mind. Ira Hayes died dead drunk, face down at the age of 32 ... ten years after this picture was taken.

The next guy, going around the statue, is Franklin Sousley from Hilltop Kentucky. A fun-lovin' hillbilly boy. His best friend, who is now 70, told me, "Yeah, you know, we took two cows up on the porch of the Hilltop General Store. Then we strung wire across the stairs so the cows couldn't get down. Then we fed them Epsom salts. Those cows crapped all night." Yes he was a fun-lovin' hillbilly boy.. Franklin died on Iwo Jima at the age of 19. When the telegram came to tell his mother that he was dead, it went to the Hilltop General Store. A barefoot boy ran that telegram up to his mother's farm. The neighbors could hear her scream all night and into the morning. The neighbors lived a quarter of a mile away.

The next guy, as we continue to go around the statue is my dad, John Bradley from Antigo, Wisconsin, where I was raised. My dad lived until 1994, but he would never give interviews. When Walter Cronkite's producers, or the New York Times would call, we were trained as little kids to say, "No, I'm sorry sir, my dad's not here. He is in Canada fishing. No, there is no phone there, sir. No, we don't know when he is coming back."

My dad never fished or even went to Canada. Usually, he was sitting there right at the table eating his Campbell's soup. But we had to tell the press that he was out fishing. He didn't want to talk to the press. You see, my dad didn't see himself as a hero. Everyone thinks these guys are heroes, 'cause they are in a photo and a monument. My dad knew better. He was a medic. John Bradley from Wisconsin was a caregiver. In Iwo Jima he probably held over 200 boys as they died. And when boys died in Iwo Jima, they writhed and screamed in pain.

When I was a little boy, my third grade teacher told me that my dad was a hero. When I went home and told my dad that, he looked at me and said, "I want you always to remember that the heroes of Iwo Jima are the guys who did not come back. Did NOT come back."

So that's the story about six nice young boys. Three died on Iwo Jima, and three came back as national heroes. Overall 7000 boys died on Iwo Jima in the worst battle in the history of the Marine Corps. My voice is giving out, so I will end here. Thank you for your time."

Suddenly, the monument wasn't just a big old piece of metal with a flag sticking out of the top. It came to life before our eyes with the heartfelt words of a son who did indeed have a father who was a hero. Maybe not a hero for the reasons most people would believe, but a hero nonetheless.

We need to remember that God created this vast and glorious world for us to live in, freely, but also at great sacrifice. Let us never forget from the Revolutionary War to the Gulf War and all the wars in-between that sacrifice was made for our freedom. Remember to pray for those still in murderous unrest around the world....and thank God for being alive in the greatest country on earth.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Morning Links

- Bill Simmons has a Ramblings column up (I give it a C+)

- (hat tip Off Wing Opinion)

- Charlie Weis' first day in the office

- Trot Nixon criticizes A-Fraud

- Good column by Tom Verducci for SI

- A Blog dedicated to all things Dunkin Donuts - be sure to check out this post

- The 100 Funniest Jokes of All-Time- sample:
I went to my doctor and told him "my penis is burning." He said, "That means somebody is talking about it." (Garry Shandling)
Bloggers are not the "New Paparazzi"

I truly respect Mark Cuban but something he wrote recently has bothered me. On Blog Maverick (Mark Cuban's weblog) he had a post entitled Political Bloggers - the new paparazzi. This metaphor or characterization is just wrong. Maybe the best way for me to explain why Cuban's characterization bothers me is to directly address what he wrote:
They lurk in the bushes. They camp out in cars. They roam the sidewalks. Camera in hand. A-List celebrities know they are there. They know they are waiting for a moment of weakness. Just a glimpse that they are human, or not quite as glamorous as their publicists present them. When that moment strikes anywhere outside their home, I know they gulp hard, hoping not to hear the sound, or see the burst of a camera flash.
First off bloggers don't "lurk". In Internet parlance a "lurker" is someone who reads what is written on a site or chatboard but does not join in the conversation. A blogger on the other hand puts his views out for all to see. The word "lurk" in normal parlance is one of those words that purveys negative connotations (like the work "ilk").

Does Mark Cuban not see the irony that he is writing this on a blog? Does he see himself as a paparazzi stalking the celebrity of NBA athletes or does he blog for different reasons? The term used for owners who buy their teams because they want to "hang" with the players is "jock sniffer". Would Cuban take offense if characterized as a jock sniffer or NBA paparazzi? Is that why Cuban blogs - to catch that "moment of weakness" in a player so he can write about it? I think Mark Cuban would be rightly offended at such a characterization. Is it so hard for Cuban to grasp that others blog for the same reason he does - because they have an opinion or expertise that they want to share?
When it happens, there is a price to be paid. The celebrity has to deal with the price of any consequence. The photographer gets paid the price commensurate with the popularity and interest in the star, and the vulnerability captured in the picture.

In the world of political blogging, bloggers are the new paparazzi and the traditional news media reporters and columnists are the new targets.
Paparazzi are first and foremost in it for the money. If taking pictures of celebrities didn't pay anything - how many paparazzi do you think there would be? Blogging doesn't pay yet it is wildly popular. Talking and writing about politics has always been an American pastime. Blogging has simply given the populace a new vehicle to voice their opinions, their thoughts or to speak out and say "that's wrong!"

It is much more true to say "pride goeth before a fall" than to say "traditional news media reporters and columnists are the new targets". Bloggers weren't out to get Dan Rather. He had the hubris to air fraudulent documents masquerading as the truth and bloggers shouted out "that's wrong!" Rony Abovitz did not go to Davos with the intent to get Eason Jordan but when Jordan said that the US military was intentionally targeting journalists he knew he had to bear witness and say something about it.
There have been millions upon millions of blog entries. I know at, we have indexed at least 6mm pages of blogs. I don’t know the number of political bloggers, or the number of pages posted, but I can tell you this, every single one of them with any aspirations of popularity is looking for a way to stand out. The way that happens is to knock one of the gatekeepers off their perch.
Mark - what gatekeeper are you trying to knock off their perch with your blog? Is it too hard to grasp that others blog for the same reasons you do?
Whether it’s been newspapers, magazines, TV or radio, the opportunities to reach an audience has been limited to a finite number of local and national gatekeepers. Just outside those gates, knocking on the door, trying to be heard for the past 100 or more years have been wanna be Woodward and Bernsteins. People with information, ideas and concepts that they know the populace would respond to have been turned away, again and again.

Its payback time . The bloggers are here, and they are ready to knock down the gates and get their pound of flesh. The traditional media has no idea what is about to hit them.
I can agree with the first part but the "pound of flesh" part? Bloggers aren't looking for a pound of flesh - they just won't take it when someone pisses on their backs and say its raining. I would also agree with the final statement that the "traditional media has no idea what is about to hit them."
In every major conference, at every major speech, sitting at tables in restaurants, there is going to be a blogger or podcaster with microphone, PDA, Videophone, laptop or paper and pencil in hand. Listening. Taking notes. That information is going to be transmitted to and from a blog entry and placed in the hands of "the readers".
Reporting the truth and bearing witness somehow twisted into the invasion of privacy world of paparazzi? I don't get it.
Unlike celebrities who hear or see the flash of the camera, the gatekeepers don't know they are there. Blogging in plain site. Questioning everything.
God forbid if someone has the temerity to question something an authority figure says or does. Ummm... Mark? Didn't the Internet make you a billionaire? You are aware we are living in the information age - right?
Dan Rather and Eason Jordan were just practice laps. Let me assure you that from now on, EVERYTHING said. Every video shown. Every picture presented from any traditional media source is going to be scrutinized. The level of scrutiny will make your editors blush.
Pride went before their falls. They took themselves down. Making one responsible for one's actions is what it is called. Nobody made Rather air fraudulent documents and nobody made Eason Jordan make scurrilous allegations. You call it scrutiny. I call it accountability.
The gatekeepers are under attack. I'm not saying its right or wrong, but it is the new reality.
Sounds like you are saying its wrong.
Fortunately, there is a way to deal with the paparazzi. There is also a way for the gatekeepers to deal with the bloggers. A simple way.

Recognize them. Give them respect. Celebrities can’t keep photographers out of their bushes no matter how hard they try. The gatekeepers won’t be able to keep the bloggers out either. Instead they should invite them in.

Not 1. Not 2. But several from both sides. Bring in the more popular blogs that like you, and the same number of those that don't. Give them as much access as you give the NY Times, Wash Post. Don't muzzle them, let them write.
Now you're talking! By the way - how many bloggers have NBA press credentials?
I will tell you exactly what will happen next. The blogs you invite in will still try to trip you up, but they will quickly morph and act like traditional media. When you screw up , they will tell you when it happens and give you a chance to comment and respond. They will like being on the inside and adjust to try to stay there.

The bloggers left on the outside will continue to try to trip you up, but will spend more time and energy trying to tear down the bloggers who got inside the gates. Jealousy is a bitch.

It will work, try it.
Sadly this is true.
If you don't, call George Clooney and Britney Spears Federline for advice. You are going to need it.
I really have no idea how to respond to this last line of gibberish except to say POLITICAL BLOGGERS ARE NOT LIKE PAPARAZZI!

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Separated at Birth?

Randy Johnson of the Yankees and Festus from Gunsmoke.
OK I'll Say It!

Is it just me or does Paul DePodesta have really yellow teeth?
Lileks for FCC Chairman Update

First off let me confess that the idea was tongue-in-cheek to begin with. I knew that Lileks would never take the job but I also felt that he was perfect for it. It was a Catch-22 thing from the get-go. Anyway here's what he had to say about the petition to make him FCC Chairman in today's Bleat:
This is why I noted with horror and amusement a comment-section posting that nominated me for FCC chairman; I could only disappoint everyone. As I think I said a year ago, my objection to the wardrobe malfunction wasn’t the (shock!) sight of a unholstered bosom on (gasp!) TV, it was A) the dank crude stupid nature of the routine coupled withB) teat-deployment where no teat-deployment had been expected. Save it for cable, that’s my motto. Is that such a horribly confining request?

This is why I would disappoint some as FCC chairman. Yes, you can show that on Carnivale. No, you cannot show Carnivale on broadcast. Yes, I watch it. No, it’s not hypocritical, for the same reason that one can unroll the effenheimer in all its glorious manifestations when you’re at a bar with buddies, and dasn’t blue the air with shiesty oaths when the kids are present. Context counts.
You can still sign the petition here. Even though he wouldn't take the job if asked - even Lileks would admit that it is nice to have people think of him in this light.
Morning Links

- Peter Gammons has a new column up

- Deja Vu explained

- Sex advice from tribute bands - worth it just to learn that there's a lesbian Led Zepplin tribute band named Lez Zepplin (well I'm assuming they're lesbians based on the haircuts). Sample advice:
How can you tell someone their junk tastes like junk?
Brooke: Ask them if they've been eating asparagus.
Hat Tip to Straight White Guy

- I knew there was open bias and preferential treatment at the LA Times but who knew it was for Trekkies not Democrats?

- Mark Steyn on UN corruption (he starts with a metaphor I won't soon forget)
But systemic UN child sex in at least 50 per cent of their missions? The transnational morality set can barely stifle their yawns. If you're going to rape prepubescent girls, make sure you're wearing a blue helmet.
I've said it before - a Democratic candidate who wants to clean house on the UN would be very popular in a general election (but unfortunately he would never get out of the primaries)

- Terry Teachout on Arthur Miller - I echo Teachout's sentiments completely

- Deja Vu explained
The Grammies, Federal Funding and Bill Clinton

When I first saw this link on NRO's Corner my thought was "you got to be kidding me - $150,000 in Federal funds to the Grammies?" Then I remembered that Bill Clinton won his second Grammie on Sunday for his spoken word reading of his book. Bill Clinton did not attend the Grammies but if he did the security costs of the Secret Service would have been well above $150,000. I'm willing to give this situation the benefit of the doubt that the money was used for security, for bomb screening, for something that's explainable and acceptable.

This should be looked into but I'm thinking there's a rational explanation. If there is not then whoever added this $150,000 worth of pork should definitely be targeted by the opposition when re-election comes around.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Separated at Birth?

Freddie Mitchell of the Eagles and Otis Nixon (who has a bodyguard by the way).
Inside the Bloggers Studio - Special Guest Big Stupid Tommy

In what I hope will be a series of interviews, I will be speaking (well emailing to be more correct) with a number of bloggers whose work I enjoy and admire. First up - Tommy from Big Stupid Tommy.

ALR: The name of your blog is Big Stupid Tommy and while I'm willing to believe that you're a big guy (I understand that if you were a woman you would do most of your clothes shopping at Lane Bryant) and I'm also willing to believe your name is Tommy but based on the intelligence and wit evident in your writing I can't believe you are anything near stupid. Why do you feel the need to call yourself stupid? Is this some sort of Chris Farley deal?

BST: Here's an answer on a couple of levels.

We live in a world that takes itself entirely too seriously. Where it's absolutely the worst thing, it seems, to be seen as "stupid." I wish I could say the title's meant entirely in the ironic.

I kinda use stupid as a synonym for silly. See, I also tend to take myself too seriously, too. It's partly intended as both an ego check, and as a reminder that it's okay (important even) to go out and just be silly and stupid.

The name arose from a conversation I'd had with a friend, over something my boss had told me earlier in the day. I was frustrated that things at work were moving in what I believed to be an ass-backward fashion. My boss said that if I expected everything change overnight, "that's just stupid Tommy." The words "Stupid Tommy" kept bouncing in my head as I seethed.

The conversation with a friend created a characature of sorts, called "Big Stupid Tommy."

I'd recently been shown Blogger. Like, that same day, literally. When I went to start my own blog, I just called it "Big Stupid Tommy" because it was what was bouncing around in my head at the moment.

I've also kept it for so long because it seems to catch a reader's eye somewhat easily.

ALR: If you don't mind me saying - your writing is very good. Are you a professional writer or did you have any college training in journalism or writing?

BST: I went to MTSU for its Journalism program, but I tend to think I write well in spite of everything I learned there.

I am currently not being paid on a regular basis to write.

ALR: You live in Tennessee and yet are a big Cubs fan. How did that come about?

BST: Where we lived at the time, we had the cable TV. I started getting into baseball in a serious fashion around seven or eight, and WGN would be showing Cubs games when I got home from school, and during the day in the summertime, when there was no school. I don't know what bred the loyalty, but following the Cubs is pretty much the only thing I've done on a consistent basis for the past 20 years.

ALR: Three part question; how long have you been blogging, do you remember the first person you put on your blogroll and do you still check out that person's blog on a regular basis?

BST: I've been blogging since November of 2002.

I'd say my friend Bill's blog was the first I put on my regular blogroll (he's currently at Evil Hippy)

I still read it. He updates just a couple of times a week, so that's about how often I check it.

ALR: In your opinion - who has had a greater effect on modern American culture - Arthur Miller (Death of a Salesman) or Andy Griffith (The Andy Griffith Show)?

BST: In the short term, Andy Griffith. Fifty years from now, when TV's been relegated to pretty much the same status of vaudeville, the answer will be Arthur Miller.

But I think if you went out and told Joe America that Arthur Miller died, they'd say "That was my favorite cop show, right next to Andy Griffith."

ALR: What is your favorite all-time movie? Your favorite all-time book?

BST: The original Star Wars is still my favorite movie, though there's a special place in my heart for Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment.

My favorite books are Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole and the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mr. Twain, though there's a special place in my heart for the novelization of Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment.

ALR: If you were on death row and were about to be executed - what would you request for your last meal?

BST: I did a post about it a while back, some where a ways back.

But for the purposes of this question, after having eaten myself stupid on burgers this weekend, I'll say that a plate full of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups might be cool to gorge on if you're going out.

Failing that, half a barbecued chicken, corn on the cob, garlic mashed potatoes and a big giant glass of sweet tea.

ALR: What other occupation other than your own would you like to attempt?

BST: If I could just snap my fingers and make it happen, I'd like to be play by play guy for the Chicago Cubs. Or for World Wrestling Entertainment.

ALR: What's your favorite curse word?

BST: Shit.

I think it just fits my personal viewpoint better than any other curse word. When I say it out loud, when I'm really torqued, it comes out in two syllables...shiyit. The closest I've ever heard anybody come to my pronunciation is in the movie Major League, when Jake tanks a throw to second base when he's trying to prove he's still got the goods to be in the majors.

Plus, I like that it can be used as a noun, verb, adjective or an adverb, as well as the good old curse.

ALR: Thank you Big Stupid Tommy. If any of our audience members have questions for Tommy - please leave them in the comments and Tommy will stop by and answer them.
Morning Links

- The 99 Most Desirable Women of 2005

- George W. Bush - Mountainbiker

- Transcript of Jose Canseco's 60 Minutes Interview

- Barry Larkin retires

- The difference between the left and right sides of the blogosphere

Sunday, February 13, 2005

The Devil Rays vs. the Island of Misfit Players

Just a few days left until pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training. Right now the only remaining baseball free agents could properly be described as flotsam and jetsam or as wretched refuse. Even still - I wondered if you could assemble a team from this cast of misfit players that would still be better than the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

1st Base:
Devil Rays: Travis Lee
Misfit Players: John Olerud
Edge: Lee was a member of the misfit players until just recently. Olerud may retire rather than play again but I think his defense and his health (relative to Lee) gives him the edge here.

2nd Base:
Devil Rays: Roberto Alomar
Misfit Players: Carlos Baerga
Edge: I'm willing to call this a tie. Both players are way past their prime but I think Baerga is probably more comfortable with that fact while Alomar may think of himself as an elite player still.

3rd Base:
Devil Rays: Alex Gonzalez
Misfit Players: Todd Zeile (Robin Ventura is my first choice but he's probably retired for good)
Edge: Gonzalez has a career .287 OBP (let that sink in for a minute). I have to think that when Rocco Baldelli come back from his injury that Aubrey Huff will be moved back to third but for now - the Devil Rays have a guy with a career .287 OBP manning the hot corner. Zeile, Mark McLemore or Mike Mordecai all provide better offensive options for the Misfits while Gonzalez would have a better glove (except over Ventura). Call this one a draw.

Short stop:
Devil Rays: Julio Lugo (with BJ Upton close behind)
Misfit Players: Barry Larkin
Edge: Misfit players. I will not argue this one. Larkin has enough in the tank for one season better than anyone the Rays put at short.

Devil Rays: Toby Hall
Misfit Players: Sandy Martinez
Edge: At worst this is a draw but after seeing Martinez with the Red Sox last year, I think over a course of a season the Misfits would have the edge. Toby Hall is Toby Hall. That means a 10 HR, 50 RBI, .260 BA line - how hard would it be to match that production? Still we'll call it a draw.

Devil Rays: Daniel Bautista, Carl Crawford, and Aubrey Huff
Misfit Players: Ray Lankford, Darren Bragg and Robert Fick
Edge: The Rays have a big time advantage here. In fact when Rocco Baldelli is healthy - Tampa has one of the better outfields in baseball.

Starting Pitching:
Devil Rays: Hendrickson, Kazmir, Brazelton, Waechter and Fossum
Misfit Players: Andy Ashby, Todd van Poppel, Moe, Larry and Curly
Edge: Maybe the only team in baseball that the Devil Rays have an edge in starting pitching is over the mythical Misfits.

Devil Rays: Danys Baez
Misfit Players: Robb Nenn
Edge: If healthy this goes to Nenn and the Misfits. Let's be hopeful for Nenn and call this one a draw.

I think the strength of the outfield and the relative strength of the starting pitching give Tampa Bay the clear advantage over the team of Misfit Players. However, the fact that you can even make this comparison tells you how bad Tampa Bay really is. What was Lou Pinella thinking when he signed that contract?
The Boondock Saints
Monsignor: We must always fear evil men. But there is another kind of evil that we must fear the most, and that is the indifference of good men.
Connor: I do believe the monsignor's finally got the point.
Murphy: Aye.
Finally got around to watching The Boondock Saints.

The low budget movie has sort of a cult following and maybe the best way to describe the movie is Death Wish meets Magnum Force meets Good Will Hunting. The plot is riddled with holes and a suspension of disbelief is a requirement for enjoying the movie but the bottom line is that I'm going to watch it again (so I guess I liked it).

Many of the characters are over the top cliches and much of the acting is over the top as well, the plot is hardly original (see Death Wish and Magnum Force) but the resultant product is stangely unique which is probably why the movie has such a following and why a sequel will be coming out

I loved the fact that Ron Jeremy and Jimmy Tingle both had bit roles in the movie (is it ironic that Jimmy Tingle the comedian has a better porn name than Ron Jeremy the porn star?). One word of warning - if you are offended by bad language then you won't like this movie. It had double the swears than Good Will Hunting and that's saying something!

Following the saga of writer / director Troy Duffy may actually turn out to be the most interesting thing about the movie.

GMail Invites

Recently Google gave an additional 50 GMail invites to the people who already had a mailbox with them. I have about 40 left so if anyone wants a GMail invite just send me an email.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Dirty Laundry

Lyrics by Don Henley
Links by A Large Regular

I make my living off the evening news
Just give me something-something I can use
People love it when you lose,
They love dirty laundry

Well, I coulda been an actor, but I wound up here
I just have to look good, I don’t have to be clear
Come and whisper in my ear
Give us dirty laundry

Kick ’em when they’re up
Kick ’em when they’re down
Kick ’em when they’re up
Kick ’em when they’re down
Kick ’em when they’re up
Kick ’em when they’re down
Kick ’em when they’re up
Kick ’em all around

We got the bubble-headed-bleach-blonde who
Comes on at five

She can tell you ’bout the plane crash with a gleam
In her eye

It’s interesting when people die-
Give us dirty laundry

Can we film the operation?
Is the head dead yet?
You know, the boys in the newsroom got a
Running bet

Get the widow on the set!
We need dirty laundry

You don’t really need to find out what’s going on
You don’t really want to know just how far it’s gone
Just leave well enough alone
Eat your dirty laundry

Kick ’em when they’re up
Kick ’em when they’re down
Kick ’em when they’re up
Kick ’em when they’re down

Kick ’em when they’re up
Kick ’em when they’re down
Kick ’em when they’re stiff
Kick ’em all around

Dirty little secrets
Dirty little lies
We got our dirty little fingers in everybody’s pie
We love to cut you down to size
We love dirty laundry

We can do the innuendo
We can dance and sing
When it’s said and done we haven’t told you a thing
We all know that crap is king
Give us dirty laundry!
Morning Links

- The Sports Prof has a good take on le affaire Giambi (hat tip to Off Wing Opinion)

- Brown Hound is in a quandry over renewing his Redskins season tickets

- 10 minutes at is always good for both my hangover and my self-esteem

- Any story with a headline "Sizemore had a Fake Willy" should be linked to

- As should any story that speaks of the "sexual appetites of penguins"

- I don't blame him. I wouldn't drink Miller either.

With the National Hockey League ready to finally pull the plug on the season, I thought this would be a good time to discuss one of my long held beliefs. I believe that Vince McMahon and the WWF made a big mistake trying to take on the National Football League with their XFL four years ago but I think McMahon would have been very successful if instead of the NFL he went after the NHL.

The NHL has three main problems:

1. All the clutching grabbing, trap defenses and elimination of fighting have made the sport boring to watch for the average fan.

2. Owners spend way too much on player contracts. Some owners give out contracts similar to baseball or basketball even though the hockey revenues are not close to those other sports. This makes it tough to compete for owners who are trying to be fiscally responsible.

3. The NHL has done a terrible job of marketing their product. Gary Bettman was brought in specifically to market the sport (he admittedly knew nothing about hockey when he took the job). The fact that last year's All-Star game got the same TV ratings as the first game of the season for the Arena Football League is exhibit A in the failure of Bettman to do the job he was hired to do.

An XHL league could have both addressed these problems and fixed them.

When your biggest stars, in this case Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemeiux, both publicly state that all the clutching and grabbing is killing the sport and you do nothing about it you are bound to fail. Even the best players don't care for the current NHL product. The XHL could solve this with just a few rule changes such as:

- Enforce holding and hooking penalties to give players more freedom to skate

- Eliminate the rule prohibiting two line passes. Imagine if the NFL tried to outlaw passes over 20-yards? That's basically what the two-line pass rule in hockey does.

- Eliminate ties and have each game tied in regulation settled by a shoot-out.

- Eliminate the third man in rule on fights. If Vince McMahon is going to run the league the players better be ready to rumble.

In terms of keeping salaries in line while at the same time keeping the players happy, I would suggest the following guidelines for the XHL:

- Have only three "star" roster slots for players who could be paid up to $5 million. The rest of the roster would be comprised of players who make a certain scale (see below). The composition of the star slots would generate interest and controversy. Do you get a center and two forwards to fill your "star" slots and thus create and "all-star" line? Do you spread the stars out evenly by getting a center, a defenseman and a goalie? To you get two defensemen and a goalie? These types of questions would serve to generate fan interest and debate.

- The rest of the players would make salaries based upon the number of years they've been in the league (tenure in the NHL would transfer for salary purposes). For each year of service a player would get $100,000. If you've played 5 years - your salary would be $500,000. If you're a rookie then you get $100,000 unless the team is willing to slide you into one of the three "star" slots. Can you see how this could also generate fan interest and controversy?

- 10% of each game's paid ticket gate gets put into a kitty and the winner of that night's game would get the kitty which would then be evenly split between the players, coaches and trainers. The players and coaches would have something on the line each and every game.

- Players would get 25% of the revenue off sales of their jerseys. This gives the players incentive to become fan favorites whether they be high scorers, goons or lunch bucket players who win the fans' love with their hard work.

The above should provide a basic framework for financial stability for the league.

In terms of marketing - who does better marketing than Vince McMahon (XFL being the exception that proves the rule)? Put it this way - there's no way the XHL could be marketed worse than the current NHL.

If the XHL started four years ago instead of the XFL then it would be hitting its stride right about now and all those NHL players who went over to Europe this winter may have crossed over to the new league.

This idea could really work. Quick - someone get Vince McMahon on the phone.