Thursday, March 31, 2005

Top 5 - Christopher Walken Roles

Today is his 62nd birthday - so here are what I consider his best roles:

1. The Dead Zone
2. Pulp Fiction
3. Suicide Kings
4. Biloxi Blues
5. The Deer Hunter
Top 5 - Best 1st Basemen in Baseball

1. Albert Pujols Cardinals
2. Todd Helton Rockies
3. Jim Thome Phillies
4. Mark Teixeira Rangers
5. Justin Morneau Twins

Note - David Ortiz and Travis Hafner are more DH's in my mind otherwise the list looks different. Richie Sexson was almost number 5 but he has to prove he's back from injury and even then he may not be better than the younger Morneau.
Kim Traded to Colorado

Yesterday the Red Sox traded Byung Hyun Kim to the Rockies for catcher Charles Johnson and prospect Charles Narveson. This was a trade that was good for both sides.

The Red Sox were able to move Kim off their roster prior to opening day and thus allow the team to go into the season with the best possible 25-man roster possible (excluding injuries) and they also got a top prospect in return (rated by some as the #8 prospect in the Rockies' system).

The Rockies were going to have to eat the $9 million last year of Johnson's contract. Now for that money they get a pitcher who can start, relieve or close when healthy. The Rockies will now pay Kim's salary plus a reported $2.6 million of Johnson's contract (the Red Sox are responsible for the balance). They get more production for their money.

This is also a good trade for all the players involved.

Kim gets a fresh start in Colorado with much less pressure than what he faced in Boston. Johnson gets his freedom (he was immediately released by the Sox) and can now sign with whatever team he thinks gives him his best chance of playing. Narveson gets out of the Rockies system and no longer faces the pitcher's nightmare of playing home games at Coors Field.

Good trade all the way around but most likely a trade that will have little impact on the success or failure of either team.
Morning Links

- MSN on playing poker on-line

- Richard Gere makes the case for Tibet

- Peggy Noonan makes the case for Hillary

- VDH - An Audience with Saudi Arabia
Why People Don't Like the Yankees - Reason 603

Yankee catcher, Jorge Posada, practices his cold weather hitting by clubbing baby seals.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

The Importance of a Single Vote

On this date in 1867 the United States purchased Alaska from Russia for the price of $7 million which worked out to about $.02 per acre. This purchase was known at the time as Sewards Folly after Secretary of State William Seward who arranged the purchase. Seward was also in charge of trying to get the Senate to ratify the treaty authorizing the purchase. The treaty was ratified on April 9th but it passed by a single vote.

Think of that. If one person changed their vote from yes to no - Alaska might not be part of the US today.
Top 5 - Worst GMs in Baseball

1. Jim Bowden Nationals (originaly this list was going to only list Jim Bowden because he's that bad)
2. Ken Williams White Sox
3. Omar Minaya Mets
4. Ed Wade Phillies (why did he wait so long to fire Bowa?)
5. Dan O'Dowd Rockies (because someone has to be #5)
Morning Links

- Nationals may be sponsored by the US Army

- Jay Nordlinger has a new Impromptus up

- Jackpot Jay writes about his father

- Who knew? The Violent Femmes are still going strong

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Pat O'Brien Rehab Update

The latest from I'm Stuck in Rehab with Pat O'Brien:
We won our first Rehab Clinic League volleyball game last night. The other team was tough. Tom Sizemore was their captain. He's kind of intense. He wore three headbands and stared at me like I had just made out with his mother.

Before the game started I reached under the net and extended my hand to wish him good luck.

"Bring it on, bitch," he replied.
Top 5 - Best GMs in Baseball

1. John Schuerholz Atlanta Braves
2. Terry Ryan Minnesota Twins
3. Walt Jocketty St. Louis Cardinals
4. Theo Epstein Boston Red Sox
5. Billy Beane Oakland A's
Morning Links

- The Cold Hard Football Facts on Drew Bledsoe

- Heh Heh - I shouldn't laugh at this but I can't help it

- Jerry Glanville to be D-coordinator at U of Hawaii - two thoughts, I've long believed that June Jones has the best job in sports and now Glanville gets to coach in paradise too plus now Patriot fans won't have to suffer through listening to Glanville broadcast our pre-season games

- Heh Heh II - I shouldn't laugh at this either but its funny (NSFW)
April's Fools Pranks

April's Fools Day is right around the corner and in honor of that fact - here is a link to the 100 greatest April's Fools Pranks. Here are a couple of my favorites:
#2: Sidd Finch
In its April 1985 edition, Sports Illustrated published a story about a new rookie pitcher who planned to play for the Mets. His name was Sidd Finch and he could reportedly throw a baseball with startling, pinpoint accuracy at 168 mph (65 mph faster than anyone else has ever been able to throw a ball). Surprisingly, Sidd Finch had never even played the game before. Instead, he had mastered the "art of the pitch" in a Tibetan monastery under the guidance of the "great poet-saint Lama Milaraspa." Mets fans everywhere celebrated at their teams's amazing luck at having found such a gifted player, and Sports Illustrated was flooded with requests for more information. But in reality this legendary player only existed in the imagination of the writer of the article, George Plimpton

#24: Drunk Driving on the Internet
An article by John Dvorak in the April 1994 issue of PC Computing magazine described a bill going through Congress that would make it illegal to use the internet while drunk, or to discuss sexual matters over a public network. The bill was supposedly numbered 040194 (i.e. 04/01/94), and the contact person was listed as Lirpa Sloof (April Fools backwards). The article said that the FBI was going to use the bill to tap the phone line of anyone who "uses or abuses alcohol" while accessing the internet. Passage of the bill was felt to be certain because "Who wants to come out and support drunkenness and computer sex?" The article offered this explanation for the origin of the bill: "The moniker 'Information Highway' itself seems to be responsible for SB 040194... I know how silly this sounds, but Congress apparently thinks being drunk on a highway is bad no matter what kind of highway it is." The article generated so many outraged phone calls to Congress that Senator Edward Kennedy's office had to release an official denial of the rumor that he was a sponsor of the bill.

#44: Daylight Savings Contest
In 1984 the Eldorado Daily Journal, based in Illinois, announced a contest to see who could save the most daylight for daylight savings time. The rules of the contest were simple: beginning with the first day of daylight savings time, contestants would be required to save daylight. Whoever succeeded in saving the most daylight would win. Only pure daylight would be allowed—no dawn or twilight light, though light from cloudy days would be allowed. Moonlight was strictly forbidden. Light could be stored in any container. The contest received a huge, nationwide response. The paper's editor was interviewed by correspondents from CBS and NBC and was featured in papers throughout the country.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Juiced - Jose Canseco vs. Mark McGwire - Jason Stark Turns into Sergeant Shultz

I'm not a psychologist and I don't play one on TV but you don't have to have a PhD to recognize that one of the driving motivations behind Jose Canseco's book Juiced was both his jealousy of Mark McGwire and his feeling of being screwed over by a double standard in baseball that has one set of criteria for white players and a second set for players of color.

Now in full disclosure - I never thought of Canseco as a player of color (I know it is a ridiculous phrase but I'm working with the material Canseco gave me). I never thought of Canseco as a player of color until after he "retired" and started complaining that he was being blackballed because he's Cuban.

I should also note that I've never been a fan of Canseco. Even when he was with the Red Sox I looked at him as more of a sideshow than anything. I even went out of my way not to buy his book because I was brought up old school where snitches are personas non grata. Instead of buying it, I read his book at my local bookstore that has a cafe. Now three sittings and about a dozen coffees later (free refills), I'm much more sympathetic to Canseco.

Jose makes the point in his book that there is a double standard in baseball. Certain "white" players become "protected" by baseball and the media while other players of equal ability are scrutinized for every little deficiency. Jose uses Cal Ripken as an example of a protected player. Now Jose doesn't bring up this example in the book but it is well known in baseball circles that Cal Ripken's wife had an affair with Kevin Costner. You would have a hard time finding any baseball beat writer willing to put that in print out of fear of getting on the wrong side of one of the baseball elite. Meanwhile stories about Jose and Madonna were fodder for front page spreads.

If you speak with baseball writers who covered Mark McGwire they will all say that he wasn't the best interview in the world and most will come out and use the word "jerk" to describe him. Many people ascribe the fact that Jim Rice wasn't very good with reporters to the reason he hasn't been elected to the Hall of Fame. Yet many of these same writers would still vote "yes" on McGwire even after the steroids revelations. Not sure about you but I think Canseco has a point about the double standard.

Think about this - you read stories about Mark McGwire and the Hall of Fame all the time but when's the last time you read a story about Jose Canseco and the Hall of Fame? McGwire was a one dimensional player - a player who could hit home runs - and now that one dimension is greatly soiled by steroids and yet baseball writers like Jason Stark are still writing about voting "yes" on McGwire and the Hall of Fame. Someone should ask Jason Stark if he'll also vote "yes" on Canseco because since McGwire's obvious steroid use is not being held against him - wouldn't it be a double standard to hold Jose's steroid use against him?

Canseco and McGwire played close to the exact same number of games - 1,887 for Canseco and 1,874 for McGwire. McGwire was clearly the better fielder, winning a Gold Glove for his work at first base in 1990, while Canseco is best remembered for allowing a ball to bounce off his head in the outfield for a home run. However, Canseco was the better baserunner. Jose had 200 stolen bases to McGwire's 12. Do these two things, fielding and base running, cancel each other out? I'm not sure about that so I'll just focus on the offensive numbers both players put up.

Canseco: .266 BA / .353 OBP / .515 SLG / 131 OPS+
McGwire: .263 BA / .394 OBP / .588 SLG / 163 OPS+

The averages are clearly in McGwire's favor but if you took away the absolutely freakish 70 HR season from McGwire the numbers are fairly close.

In terms of raw numbers:

Canseco: 1877 H / 1186 R / 462 HR / 1407 RBI / 3631 TB
McGwire: 1626 H / 1167 R / 583 HR / 1414 RBI / 3639 TB

If you took away the (steroid induced) home runs - could these numbers be any closer?

In terms of All-Star games - McGwire had twice as many as Canseco (12 to 6) but many consider these fan popularity contests. Jose does have a unanimous MVP Award to his credit and that came when McGwire was his teammate in Oakland. It should be noted that as far as is concerned - the most similar batter in history to Mark McGwire is Jose Canseco.

Don't get me wrong - I'm not trying to make a case for Jose Canseco for the Hall of Fame. What I am saying is that a double standard does exist and I believe neither player belongs but because McGwire was a white home run champion - he'll probably get voted in.

Ask yourself, what did Mark McGwire do to deserve such adulation? Once you get beyond his home runs - what's left? Of the players with 500 HR, Mark McGwire is dead last when you look at hits, runs, RBI and total bases among other categories. He is so far behind most of the other players with 500 HR that he looks like one of those "one of these things are not like the others" things from Seasame Street.

McGwire was simply a one trick pony and the sportswriters are willing him to ride that pony into Cooperstown. I think that's disgraceful.

In my mind, without steroids McGwire is nothing more than a Jack Clark or a Dave Kingman. I wonder if Jason Stark voted for Dave Kingman for the Hall of Fame because I see very little difference between a Mark McGwire with steroids and a Dave Kingman without. If anything it makes Kingman's longevity and accomplishments are more remarkable.

More importantly if a player who used steroids like McGwire is rewarded with a birth in the Hall of Fame - what message does that send to players who did not use steroids? What about a player like Jim Rice or the recently retired Fred McGriff?

When you look hits, runs, doubles, RBI, batting average, and total bases both Rice and McGriff look much better than McGwire. The only areas where McGwire has an advantage is in on base percentage (which is more a function of the era he played in - McGriff's OBP is very close), slugging percentage and HR. If both Rice and McGriff used steroids and were able to turn half their doubles into HR because of it then they too would have been in the 500 HR club and in the Hall of Fame. They did it the right way though and for their trouble they get to see a player like McGwire talked about as a sure fire Hall of Famer.

Baseball writers like Jason Stark should know better. McGwire cheated. He made millions of dollars doing it. Don't make it worse by putting him in the Hall of Fame.

Stark argues that it wasn't the job of the sportswriters to police the game and that McGwire's numbers are what they are and probably beyond questioning at this point. To this I say - bullshit!

If Stark has a Hall of Fame vote then that means he's been a baseball writer for at least 10 years and that means most of the steroid fueled period happened under his very nose.

I wonder if Stark would allow someone to cut him in line when waiting at a restaurant or at a box office. I mean it's not his job to police the line. That job belongs to the restaurant or box office according to the attitude he is trying to palm off as his excuse for voting for McGwire. My gut tells me he would speak up though if it was him being cut in line. When it is players like Jim Rice or Fred McGriff though - Stark turns into Freddie Prinz, "not my job mang."

If that is truly Stark's attitude then he abdicates all ability to complain about anything in baseball ever again. Games too long? Sorry Mr. Stark you don't get to criticize. Its baseball's job to police that. World Series Games start too late for East Coast kids? Sorry Mr. Stark - that's really none of your business (even though your business is supposed to be baseball). From now on it doesn't make a difference what the issue is regarding baseball - Mr. Stark you lost your ability to complain about it.

I know this column went off on some tangents and I apologize for that. Just like there is no easy answer to steroids in baseball - so too there is no easy way to write about it. Say what you want about Jose Canseco but at least he wrote about what happened. Most of the baseball writers must have known what was happening but stayed silent and now they want to say it was none of their business?

This week has been bizarre. I gained respect for Jose Canseco as a writer and lost respect for Jason Stark.

Happy Easter

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Batman Begins

This is what the new Batman will look like in the upcoming Batman Begins movie:

Here's what the cast will look like:

Christian Bale .... Bruce Wayne/Batman
Michael Caine .... Alfred Pennyworth
Liam Neeson .... Henri Ducard
Morgan Freeman .... Lucius Fox
Gary Oldman .... Lt. James Gordon
Ken Watanabe .... Ra's Al Ghul
Katie Holmes .... Rachel Dodson
Cillian Murphy .... Dr. Jonathan Crane/The Scarecrow
Tom Wilkinson .... Carmine Falcone
Rutger Hauer .... Richard Earle

I'm glad to see that Rutger Hauer can find work.

I'm actually pretty excited to see this flick.
Top 5 - James Caan Movies

Today is James Caan's 65th birthday. Here are what I consider his best movies:

1. The Godfather
2. Brian's Song
3. Misery
4. Rollerball
5. (tie) Honeymoon in Vegas (tie) Gardens of Stone
Great Bill James Interview

Great interview of Bill James over at SoSH. Possibly the best baseball related writing I've seen all pre-season. Some nuggets from the interview:
James T: HOK is known as the designer of new parks in recent times was there one firm primarily responsible for the spate of parks 35 years ago, Riverfront, Three Rivers et al?

Bill James: I think those were mostly designed by Albert Speer. . .

James T: Does your general approach to these issues come from your economics training in college?

Bill James: My economics training was very useful, yes. It had tremendous impact on me, but I have difficulty explaining how. Economics is fundamentally concerned with value—what is the value of a wingding, what is the value of a plate of chicken fingers, what is the value to society of clean air? And my work is fundamentally concerned with value—what is the value of defense as opposed to the value of offense, what is the value of a walk as opposed to a hit, what is the value of a 23-year-old star as opposed to the value of a 28-year player of the same caliber? So the ways of thinking about problems are often very much the same.

Bill James: Why do we allow the batters to wipe out the batter’s box? The batter’s box is in the rules, and it has a purpose. Would we allow the pitchers to dig up the pitcher’s rubber? The practice of deliberately obliterating the batter’s box began in the 1970s, and didn’t become standard until the late 1980s—the period in which the umpires were out to lunch. But it would be very, very easy to put a stop to it. All you have to do is, when a batter wipes out the batter’s box, you call time out, call out the grounds crew, and instruct them to re-draw the box. If the batter wipes it out again, you eject him. Three to five ejections, and you’d have the batters back in the batter’s box.
Morning Links

- $7 million in jewels stolen - what was interesting is at the end of the column they speak of past robberies in the Diamond District but they never mention if the various criminals were ever caught

- Heh Heh - I got a good poker chuckle out of this - H/T FARK (and from that same thread - a Phil Hellmuth chat from

- US women in battle - ooh rah!
Those seven Americans (with the three wounded) killed in total 24 heavily armed enemy, wounded 6 (two later died), and captured one unwounded, who feigned injury to escape the fight. They seized 22 AK-47s, 6x RPG launchers w/ 16 rockets, 13x RPK machineguns, 3x PKM machineguns, 40 hand grenades, 123 fully loaded 30-rd AK magazines, 52 empty mags, and 10 belts of 2500 rds of PK ammo.

Of the 7 members of Raven 42 who walked away, two are Caucasian Women, the rest men-one is Mexican-American, the medic is African-American, and the other two are Caucasian-the great American melting pot.
H/T Instapundit

- The Cold Hard Football Facts on Bo Jackson - they don't think he was any great shakes

- The latest on the NHL and the Players Association - my guess is the NHL loses on this one. Being in the Players Association and accepting benefits comes with responsibilities - main among them not being a scab

- The slow painful death of originality continues - imitate your favorite comedian? What ever happened to Open Mike nights?

Friday, March 25, 2005

Top 5 - Movies About Cops Revised Edition

My buddy Mike G gave me his list of cop movies and I was ashamed that I missed two classics

1. High Noon
2. LA Confidential
3. In the Heat of the Night
4. Dirty Harry
5. The French Connection
Top 5 - Movies About Cops

1. High Noon
2. LA Confidential
3. In the Heat of the Night
4. The Untouchables
5. Leathal Weapon

Note: Serpico didn't make the list because I don't think it holds up well. Also, yes High Noon is a "Western" but it is primarily about a cop who feels the need to do his job.
Dick Cheney for President

Today's LA Times has a column talking about the groundswell to get Dick Cheney to run for President. Here are some points I would like to make in relation to the column:

1. I would love to see Dick Cheney run for President if just to watch him in debates a few more times. Nobody does debates like Dick Cheney.

2. Not a single mention is made of Dick Cheney's heart condition. Do you think the MSM would allow Cheney to keep his medical records private the way they allowed cancer survivor John Kerry to keep his records from the public? Kerry and Cheney are about the same age by the way. How can this "draft Cheney" column be serious without a mention of Cheney's health?

3. Cheney has repeatedly said flat out that he has no desire to run for President. I for one believe him. If he did decide to run then that pledge would hang around his neck like the "read my lips - no new taxes" pledge that did in George H W Bush.

4. Dick Cheney would be the greatest thing to happen for the Democrats in terms of fundraising. He is already the Left's big boogeyman. Him running for President would fill the coffers for the Democrats with donations from people who have nightmares about Haliburton and big oil. To me the reason behind this whole column today in the openly biased LA Times is to raise this very specter. Cheney is a polarizing figure and polarization is good for business for biased MSM organs like the LA Times.

George Bush has been re-elected so the steam has run out of the "anybody but Bush" bandwagon since that horse has already left the barn. A new meme has to be found to replace it and to get people excited (and worried so they buy newspapers). Condi Rice won't work because that potentially could alienate women and blacks. No other Republican has the name recognition to get the masses excited - so Cheney is almost it by default.

The hard Left is begging for a Cheney '08 campaign but they should be careful what they ask for.
Morning Links

- In this corner - the Aruban tough guy

- Don Imus hits back on charges he mishandles ranch charity. I'm in Imus' corner on this. He started the ranch from just an idea and my understanding is that $2.6 million was spent to run the ranch last year with 100 children visiting. That's $26,000 per child which is not much when you consider the medical requirements for these kids added into the costs of running a working ranch.

- Heh heh - the steroids hearings in Legos. Hat tip - Offwing Opinion

- VDH on Ward Churchill - who somehow still gets to keep his job

- VDH on Syria

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Heh Heh

Stuck in rehab with Pat O'Brien is genius:
After dinner we hung around the common room and sang songs. Pat O'Brien had his mandolin. He actually wasn't that bad. He sang "Eve of Destruction" and "To Sir, With Love." I just wish he hadn't taken his shirt off. Nobody wanted to see that.

"85 push-ups a day, my peeps," Pat O'Brien boasted.
Jimmy O'Brien - Neither Flexible nor Adaptable

Jim O'Brien quit on the Celtics last January and I wasn't really happy about it then. In fact I called him out as a quitter. Today as the 76er's struggle - I'm feeling a bit vindicated. Here's a bit from what I wrote last January:
"I've been here seven years," said O'Brien. "I think I'm fairly adaptable and flexible, clearly, by how many teams I've coached. And I've done all right with all of them. But I really have a strong sense of the way I would prefer to coach a team and build a winner. That's clearly from the defensive end out.”

So Jim you say you’re adaptable and flexible but you’re quitting because you can’t or won’t adapt to a more up-tempo offense oriented game? Let’s take a look at the third quote:

"I made 100 percent of the decisions about playing time and style of play," said O'Brien. "I didn't make 99.9 percent of the decisions, I made 100 percent of the decisions. But he made 100 percent of the decisions on personnel. That didn't mean I didn't listen to Danny with a great deal of interest and didn't learn from him. I did, just like I would learn from any of my staff or somebody like Bob Cousy or Red Auerbach or Bill Russell.”

Wait a second. If you made 100% of the decisions about the style of play – then you really didn’t need to be adaptable – did you? If that’s the case – why the need to resign? Colonel Jessup – why the need for the two orders?
Yesterday's Boston Herald had a story in which O'Brien's former players basically say that O'Brien needs to learn to change and adapt.
Antoine Walker [news] seemingly benefited from O'Brien's loose leash in Boston, but the once-again Celtic believes his old leader will have to alter things to suit Webber, something he has been largely unwilling to do.

``I think for the success of the team and the success of the organization Obie will have to change,'' Walker said. ``But it's like anybody. If you're stuck in your ways, you're stuck in your ways. But he's got to adjust. If he's going to make the playoffs, he's going to have to adjust. They're going to have to do something. They'll probably get in (the playoffs), but then they'll have to beat Miami.
Stuck in his ways? Antoine - certainly you don't mean O'Brien. He's flexible and adaptive. Just ask him.

Quitters never prosper.
Top 5 - Steve McQueen Movies

Today would have been Steve McQueen's 75th birthday. Here are what I consider his top 5 movies.

1. Papillon
2. Bullitt
3. The Thomas Crown Affair
4. The Cincinnati Kid
5. (tie) The Great Escape (tie) The Magnificent Seven
Pat's Run

There is a road race scheduled to honor Pat Tillman and to raise money for the Pat Tillman foundation:
Pat Tillman died nearly a year ago, but he is not forgotten. Perry Edinger, an ultramarathoner (read: nutcase -- and I mean that in the best possible sense) and friend of Pat's, has organized Pat's Run, which will be held on April 16 in Tempe. Fittingly, the race will stretch 4.2 miles and finish at the 42 yard-line of Sun Devil Stadium, in tribute to Pat's No. 42 that he wore during his ASU career. There will also be a .42 mile fun run for the kids.

Most importantly, thanks to the large contribution from sponsor VIP Homes, all of the entry fees collected will go directly to the Pat Tillman Foundation.

As a TiVo alert, ESPN will profile Pat Tillman on April 22, at noon on ESPN and at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. on ESPN Classic.
Hat tip to Little Green Footballs.

Pat Tillman was a Ranger and he embodied the Ranger Creed.
The Ranger Creed

Recognizing that I volunteered as a Ranger, fully knowing the hazards of my chosen profession, I will always endeavor to uphold the prestige, honor, and high esprit de corps of my Ranger Regiment.

Acknowledging the fact that a Ranger is a more elite soldier who arrives at the cutting edge of battle by land, sea, or air, I accept the fact that as a Ranger my country expects me to move farther, faster and fight harder than any other soldier.

Never shall I fail my comrades. I will always keep myself mentally alert, physically strong and morally straight and I will shoulder more than my share of the task whatever it may be. One-hundred-percent and then some.

Gallantly will I show the world that I am a specially selected and well-trained soldier. My courtesy to superior officers, neatness of dress and care of equipment shall set the example for others to follow.

Energetically will I meet the enemies of my country. I shall defeat them on the field of battle for I am better trained and will fight with all my might. Surrender is not a Ranger word.

I will never leave a fallen comrade to fall into the hands of the enemy and under no circumstances will I ever embarrass my country.

Readily will I display the intestinal fortitude required to fight on to the Ranger objective and complete the mission though I be the lone survivor.

Morning Links

- Peggy Noonan on the pull-the-tube people

- Allen Barra on Barry Bonds

- Ranking the city skylines of the world. Hong Kong is first (by a wide margin) and New York is second. Six of the top 10 are in Asia. New York, Chicago and Houston are the top 3 in the US.

- If she wanted a drill - she should have called me

- Peter Gammons' latest

- Shaking hands outlawed after girls soccer games in San Francisco

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Stuck in Rehab with Pat O'Brien

This is a funny blog. This is Latigo Flint or Nick Nolte's Diary funny.

H/T Perry White
Reading to Your Kids - Deployed Army Style

First off - what a great idea.
KABUL, Afghanistan -- Even though service members at Camp Eggers are separated from their families by thousands of miles, they can still read to their kids. Thanks to the efforts of one non-commissioned officer assigned to the Office of Military Cooperation – Afghanistan, more than 200 parents deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom have done so over the past four months.

The “Read To Your Kids” program was established in late November by Army Reserve Master Sgt. D. Keith Johnson from the OMC-A Public Affairs Office as a way to bring deployed troops closer to their loved ones while they are away from home. On 18 March, Johnson reached a new milestone as he completed his 200th taping.
It is good to know that the program is supported both by the "higher ups" and the folks at home:
The program is supported entirely by contributions that have come via the web site and through other donors. According to Johnson, “literally hundreds of books and blank video cassettes have been donated to make this program a reality.” Acknowledging the help of his program’s contributors, Johnson adds that “without the help of the volunteers back home, this program wouldn’t have made it past the first week.”
Reading to your children is a very important part of parenting. If you have young kids - make sure you read to them tonight.
Afternoon Links

- Christopher Hitchens on Paul Wolfowitz (not the opinion you might expect)

- Claudia Rossett on Kofi Annan

- HBO disinfects Air America with the light of day H/T LGF

- I hope this guy never has kids - 5 beers in 10 seconds

- David Little's obituary - why you always bench press with someone to spot you

- Who funds the terrorists? A must read. H/T LGF
Happy Birthday Boomer

George "Boomer" Scott is the original Boomer (although David Wells owns the moniker for this year's Red Sox). Today is the 61th birthday for the man who was Mo Vaughn before Mo Vaughn was Mo Vaughn.

Of All the Spam I Get

This is my favorite:
Call out Gouranga be happy!
Gouranga Gouranga Gouranga ....
That which brings the highest happiness!
This is the second or third time I've gotten an email with this message. Something about it just makes me smile.

Call out Gouranga and be happy!
Not Good News

I love poker and I love TV - Janeane Garofalo is trying to ruin both for me:
Take the hot new sport of poker, add a wise-cracking female comedian and you get “All In” a new NBC comedy pilot. This sounds like it could actually be a winner for NBC. Garofalo has a ton of fans and deserves a sitcom more than some ex-Friends I can think of.
Reading the above quote leads to two questions: is poker a sport and is Garofalo really a comediene? Some people define a sport as something which makes the participants sweat and something on which fans can bet. So I guess poker is a sport by that definition. A comediene, however, is a woman who makes people laugh. I can't recall Garofalo ever being funny.

Why is NBC doing this to me? The show is losely based on Annie Duke and will be about a single mom of three who makes a living as a poker pro. Why couldn't they cast Patricia Heaton from Everybody Loves Raymond in the role?
OK – I’ll Say It!

Kirk Hinrich of the Chicago Bulls looks like he is the love child of Joan Cusak and Emo Phillips.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Title IX Changes

There seems to be some changes afoot on Title IX. Eric at Offwing Opinion has been all over the story.

My view is that Title IX is not a bad thing in and of itself but some of the repercussions have been bad. Schools with scholarship football programs have had smaller men's programs like wrestling wiped out because of the need for Title IX compliance. Title IX has had the net effect of giving more scholarships to girls at the cost of smaller mens programs or schools dropping football because that one program will cause a disparity in scholarships.

Some schools have sorta skirted Title IX compliance by making football a non-scholarship sport with players given needs based financial assistance that happens to total up to 100% of the cost to attend the school (wink, wink).

I have long felt that the spirit of the law was equal participation - which is actually in the school's best interest. Students involved in sports tend to do better and also remember the school more fondly after graduation (i.e. more money from alumni giving).

The solution in my eyes has always been to make cheerleading a varsity sport.

OK - are you done laughing or thinking I'm a chauvinist pig?

I'm serious. Cheerleading is not easy. My sister in law teaches gymnastics and is also a high school cheerleading coach. Her cheerleaders work just as hard as most of the varsity players they cheer and their practice is just as physically demanding. Most cheerleaders but not all will be girls whereas 100% of football scholarships go to the guys. All the other seasonal sports match up equally. Men's basketball and women's basketball, baseball and softball, men's and women's volleyball, etc, etc. It is football that throws things out of whack. If cheerleading was a varsity sport then the number of football scholarships could be equaled off with cheerleader scholarships.

Hey if cheerleading was good enough for the President then it should be good enough for Title IX compliance.
Morning Links

- Iraq and Jordan are not on good terms

- With Opening Day approaching - just a reminder - the Yankees are Gay!

- I always liked Freddie Sanchez and I wish him all the luck in the world

- Mark Steyn on the political realities of abortion for the EU

EDIT - have to add these two on from VDH

- VDH - America's New Discontents

- VDH - Democracy is now the Realistic Policy

Monday, March 21, 2005

Top 5 - Matthew Broderick Movies

Today was his 43rd birthday.

1. Ferris Bueller
2. The Freshman
3. War Games
4. The Lion King
5. (tie) Biloxi Blues (tie) Glory

As an aside - it was oogey enough to see reruns of Ferris Bueller knowing that Jeffrey Jones was later arrested for child pornography but now I find out that Broderick was dating Jennifer Grey (who played his sister) while that movie was being filmed. Still a classic movie but now its got that Mrs. Brady dating Greg Brady in real life type of vibe to it.
MMQB Review

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

1. Peter King reports that the NFL will announce that the season opener will have New England hosting Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers on a Thursday night. That should be an interesting game but I will predict that Roethlisberger will have a bad game and that will set a tone (a funk if you will) that he won't be able to overcome for at least half the season.

2. King repeats the myth that the Patriots purposely did not cover their field during a sleet storm to get a slow boggy field:
There was one thing I'd wanted to ask Dungy since the 20-3 divisional playoff loss at Foxboro in January: How did he feel about the Patriots choosing not to cover the Gillette Stadium turf during a sleety, rainy week leading up to the game? Was that, in his mind, home-field-advantage gone mad? The Patriots are more comfortable with a slow, plodding game. The Colts like the game on the carpet or on a fast surface. By not covering the field during the week and ensuring the game would be played in a bog, New England's power running game and its suspect secondary would both have an edge over the Colts. And should the league take over field management during playoff weeks to ensure a quality pitch for both teams?
The field was uncovered for a single night the week prior to the playoff game and it was uncovered because the league had painted the logos on the field and it could not be covered until those logos dried. Peter King should know better.

3. On the potential loss of Tedy Bruschi by the Patriots:
True, but the one thing New England would lose if Bruschi's gone is an incredibly instinctive playmaker who's as quick to seal a running hole as any linebacker in football. That's going to be a loss, folks. A big one.
Ted Johnson is actually better at filling the hole for the run. What Tedy always brought was an instinct for finding the ball. How many times can you remember a big interception or fumble recovery by Tedy? He'll be missed but so will Roman Phifer.

4. You're right Peter - this only interests you:

The egg-white omelet here at the Ritz Carlton is $18.

But the menu assures guests that the egg whites are "fresh.''

What if you could only afford the stale egg-white omelet? Would that be, say, $11?
Peter is at the Ritz Carlton in Hawaii (where almost everything has to be flown in) and he complains about the egg-white omelet? This is the same guy who pumps in multiple lattes a day and he's eating egg-white omelets? Peter - you're staying at the Ritz Carlton in Hawaii!! And you are nitpicking! It's things like this that drive people like me crazy!

5. Hah hah - what a closet hippy loser:
Nonsequitor Music Note of the Week: History has severely underrated Joni Mitchell. Pick up Hejira, and you'll see what I mean.
Morning Links

- How McCain-Feingold was actually passed

- Baseball gets rid of the fine and first offense loophole. Two thoughts:

1. The first player to be suspended will probably sue MLB to see all the test results to make sure MLB isn't still protecting the star players (because MLB has shown it can't be trusted)

2. John McCain says MLB can't be trusted but after getting tricked into being part of the Keating 5 and now getting tricked into McCain-Feingold (see above) - John McCain is in no position to try and position himself as the spokesman for "trust"

- Our troops are the best
U.S. troops outgunned rebels who attacked their convoy while it was traveling through a suburb 20 miles southeast of Baghdad. Twenty-four insurgents were killed and seven wounded. Six GIs were wounded.
- The real facts on the first day of spring. Interesting stuff.

- The text of the Bill passed by Congress on behalf of Terri Schiavo
Top 5 - Walter Hill Movies

1. 48 Hours
2. Hard Times
3. The Warriors
4. Another 48 Hours
5. Last Man Standing

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Happy Birthday Bobby Orr

Today is the 57th birthday for the man who ranks as one of the top 3 hockey players of all-time.

Morning Links

- Gordon Edes Baseball Notes. Interesting point:
"Now they're saying that if you take steroids you die? When did steroids become lethal? More people died of Benadryl and Tylenol overdoses than ever died from anabolic steroids. When did you ever hear of an anabolic steroid overdose? You haven't, because it can't happen."
- Bonds will eventually go down on perjury charges

- Interesting column by Jason Stark

- Terry Eastland on bottling up judicial nominees

- Oral Sex according to the Bible
Opening Day

Just 14 more days until opening day and it looks like I'll be watching on TV.

Tickets for the Red Sox opener at Yankee Stadium are going for a reasonable $130 per for upper deck to a pricey $3,000 per for seats in front of the field boxes. I have no business in New York at this time so I'll be spared the temptation of shelling out a couple of C-notes for tickets.

For the Red Sox home opener on April 11th standing room only tickets are going for $655 each and half way decent tickets are going for $945 each. That's too steep for my income bracket. My local American Legion is raffling off two tickets for $10 a chance with only 1,000 chances being sold. I think I'll drop $20 on that and hope for the best.
On Culture

When I was growing up I had a certain view about high brow and low brow culture. To me low brow started with TV and then went to movies (such as anything by Mel Books). Movie such as Chariots of Fire could be high brow but "artsy" movies were still at the bottom of the high brow totem. You had movies, then novels, then broadway plays and then poetry. I'll freely admit that my cultural appreciation never extended to poetry (unless you include limericks).

Today my world view of popular culture is getting turned on its head by the fact that most new Broadway plays seem to be based on old low brow movies. Spamalot, the play based on the Monty Python movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail, just had a huge opening on Broadway.

If you look at other Broadway plays you'd see The Lion King, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, and The Producers as some of the top plays. The Lion King is based on a cartoon for cripes sake.

It isn't going to get any better either. Dolly Parton is working on turning the movie 9 to 5 into a Broadway musical and get this - The Lord of the Rings is also being turned into a musical.

Add to this the fact that the rest of the Broadway shows seem to be based on pop music (Momma Mia on the music of ABBA and Moving Out on the songs of Billy Joel are examples) and you would have to think that Shaw and Wilde must be spinning in their graves.
Roberto Alomar - Hall of Famer?

Yesterday Roberto Alomar made it official and retired. Now the only question is whether is will get the votes necessary to be voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

I say "Yes" and here's why:

- 12 consecutive All-Star games
- 10 Gold Gloves in 11 years
- 4 Silver Slugger awards

If you compare him to Ryne Sandberg (the last 2nd baseman elected to the HOF) you find that Alomar leads Sandberg in runs, hits, doubles, triples, RBI, batting average, on base percentage, OPS and OPS+. Alomar was also clearly the better player with the glove. If Sandberg is in then Alomar clearly deserves induction.

What Alomar has working against him are four things:

- He didn't spend his whole career with one team like Sandberg
- The incident where he spit at umpire John Hirshbeck
- Comparisons to more offensive minded players like Craig Biggio and Jeff Kent
- How his career just fell completely apart these last four years

These things will be brought up but all the objections are relatively easy to overcome. Plus Alomar has an ace in the hole - Peter Gammons. Alomar may just be Gammons favorite player and I would look for Gammons to pen an epic homage to Alomar sometime in the next week.

Alomar may not make it on the first ballot but he will be voted into the Hall of Fame.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

John Stuart Mill Quote

"War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling, which thinks that nothing is worth war, is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself." John Stuart Mill
Morning Rant

My head hurts this morning.

John Wayne once said that every young man needs to let the badger loose every once in a while. Yesterday I let the badger loose.

I had the chance to watch the games at the DCU Center in Worcester but I met up with friends I hadn't seen in a long time and the next thing I knew I was barking at the moon and later sleeping on the couch.

NCAA Brackets - Many people are pretty ticked off at Syracuse today. I'm ambivalent about them. On the one hand - I loaded up on them figuring they would cover 9 points easy. On the other had - if I'm going to lose my bet I'd just as soon they lost too.

Its pretty much a sure thng that nobody has gotten all the games right so far. Who could have foreseen Vermont and Bucknell? I had Syracuse in my Final Four. Now the people who picked Duke are pretty pleased with themselves (as people who favor Duke tend to be anyway).

The players at Holy Cross must be pretty ticked off at themselves. They were a better team than Bucknell but played an awful first half in the Patriot League Championship game.

Val Kilmer and Kevin Spacey - you may have seen this article about Val Kilmer being nice to a guy who approached him at a urinal in England.

What I thought was noteworthy in the article was the fact that Kilmer was in the restaurant with Kevin Spacey. Those two grew up together but later Kilmer claimed that Spacey scammed Kilmer's dad out of some serious cash and that Kilmer was still pissed off about it. Well if they were at dinner together I guess Spacey must have paid back the cash and apologized.

Walter Matthau - I saw the movie Charley Varrick on TCM Thursday night. An excellent movie. I know I did a Top 5 - Walter Matthau movies before but after seeing Charlie Varrick that list needs revising:

Top 5 - Walter Matthau Movies

1. The Odd Couple
2. The Bad News Bears
3. Charlie Varrick
4. Hopscotch
5. (tie) Grumpy Old Men (tie) The Front Page

Well that's it for this morning. I'm off to Dunkin Donuts for some coffee and then off to the Post Office to weigh my son's Pinewood Derby car. The race is tonight - so wish him luck.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Morning Rant

Thought I'd try a little something different this morning. Instead of individual posts - I'm going to try a Lileks style Bleat or in this case a Lynch style rant.

Steroids in Baseball - anyone else watch the proceedings and come away thinking, "hey I guess you don't have to be too bright to be a US Congressman"?

The one argument I'm very tired of is the one where people say that these players were great athletes to begin with and that it is a great skill to hit a baseball. These people would have you believe that steroids did add to the player's success but the player would have been successful without the drugs.

People who dope horses in order to "fix" a race don't dope a mule, enter the mule in the race and then expect it to win. They dope a horse that was already good enough to be in the race with a chance to win in the first place.

Sure Jason Giambi was good enough as an amateur to play on the US Olympic team but would he have been MLB MVP material without steroids? Same thing for Ken Caminitti or Jose Canseco. It is the MVP Awards and huge contracts that steroids got for them that gets my goat.

People attempt to fix horse races in order to get a big payoff. That's the same reason baseball players take steroids - for the big payoff. The only difference is the paper that holds the riches for the fixer is a betting slip and for the player it is a nice fat Yankee contract. In my mind - both are equally fraudulent.

The difference between the two seems to me to be the fact that if a fan of horse racing thought that the horses were being doped at a certain racetrack then those fans would probably avoid spending any money at that racetrack. In baseball it was just the opposite. The owners knowingly turned a blind eye to steroids and the fans flocked to see the product that was being put on the field. It is this bit of caveat emptor that keeps me from being too worked up on the issue. I mean - who didn't have suspicions that Canseco, Bonds, McGwire and Sosa were juicing?

I still think my idea of drug testing every member of a team once they clinch a playoff birth would work as a very good deterrent. I also wouldn't shed a tear if the government dropped the nuclear bomb and used RICO laws to seize the assets of players who juiced and got huge contracts because of it.

Bonds, Giambi and Sheffield all used BALCO and they conspired to use the drugs to gain multimillion contracts. That's a form of racketeering.

March Madness - I had Pacific over Pitt and Nevada over Texas but the Wisconsin-Milwaukee upset over Alabama hurts because I had Alabama beating BC in the next round. I also pegged Iowa to upset Cincinnati. In fact I had Iowa making it to the Great Eight. That hurts. I never do good in picking brackets.

Having said that - today I have Old Dominion in a 12 vs. 5 upset over Michigan State plus St. Mary's over S. Illinois in a 10 vs. 7 upset and Mississippi St. over Stanford in a 9 vs. 8 upset.

Some of the games are in Worcester today and I might go downtown to scalp a ticket to the games with my buddy Tim.

Terri Schiavo - I haven't blogged on the subject because folks like Greg at What Attitude Problem? have done such a good job covering the subject. However, I feel compelled to mention this thought that I can't escape thinking any time I hear or read anything about the situation.

Even though I know this is a thought probably better kept to myself - I can't stop thinking that Terri's faithless husband better have some pretty good bodyguards because at some point someone will realize that to keep Terri breathing it might take making the husband stop breathing.

I bet some well off defenders of Terri have probably tried to buy off the husband. Give him a million in exchange for his signature on divorce papers - that sort of thing. If his spite runs so deep to turn down such an offer then you have to think that if some people out there are willing to bomb abortion clinics to "save" unborn babies then you would have to think a person with a face, a name and completely helpless would also be a cause they would kill for.

If Terri's husband died then custody for Terri would go to her parents who want her alive.

Now in no way do I advocate such a drastic course of action. I am just saying I wouldn't be surprised if it happened.

Misc. - I still think the only person who can save the CBS Evening News is Strong Bad. If they made Strong Bad the anchor then the ratings would be huge. It could even cause Peter Jennings to don a Mexican wrestling mask.

Here endeth the rant. I'm out of breath and out of coffee.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Separated at Birth?

Mark McGwire and Droopy Dog
A Modest Proposal for Steroids Testing in Baseball

Here's a suggestion for overcoming the steroids testing impasse in baseball.

I suggest that baseball adopt the following rules:

1. All players on playoff bound teams - both Division winners and Wild Card teams - will be tested for steroids as soon as they clinch their playoff spot. Any player who fails the test will be barred from post season play and will have to pass a drug test in spring training in order to be reinstated. Plus the team will not be able to replace that roster spot for the duration of the playoffs.

2. Any player who fails a second test is banned from baseball for life and whatever contract he may have signed with the team becomes null and void.

I think these two changes would help take away the team's incentive to turn a blind eye to players they think might be juicing. It would also offer enough public shame and monetary punishments to make the player think twice about juicing.

Many people (like myself) really aren't concerned with the impact steroids has had on records and stats. I always find it curious that the people most upset about the records would also be the first people to say that baseball is a team game. What upsets me is that feeling that without Jason Giambi's steroid powered two home runs - then the Red Sox win game 7 against the Yankees in 2003 and maybe this past year would have been back-to-back championships.

St. Louis fans have no beef with this year's Red Sox but what about their 2002 team? That team was kept from the World Series in large part because of Barry Bonds' 6 RBI in 5 games in the League Championship Series. The Cardinals would have matched up very well against the Angels that year. Did Bonds' steroid use keep a World Series win out of St. Louis?

Of course I don't profess to be an expert on steroids and the possibility exists that players could cycle off steroids in time to pass any post season drug test but I think the punishment would be enough to make the player think twice about using them in the first place. Plus remember that the drug test last year was an announced test and still between 5-10% of players failed.

These new rules would also add in the factor of peer pressure. Today if a player juices - most players view that as a personal choice. With these new rules - the player who juices could have a big affect on the other players on his team who want a championship more than anything. This introduces significant peer pressure. Do you think the Yankees, who only value championships, would be more or less tolerant of a Giambi or Gary Sheffield if they knew the player might not be able to play in the playoffs and might even cost them a roster spot in the process?

Clean players suddenly become the priority for the Yankees and their big money contracts would become maybe the biggest incentive for players not to do steroids in the first place.

I think these changes could work if given the chance.
The Shield of Saint Patrick

I always felt that one of the most beautiful prayers is the Shield of Saint Patrick
I bind unto myself today the strong name of the trinity,
by invocation of the same, the Three in One, the One in Three.

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Teddy Roosevelt Quote

"It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by the dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions and spends himself in a worthy course; who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who, at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly; so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat."
THEODORE ROOSEVELT (Paris Sorbonne,1910)
Afternoon Links

- Heh Heh

- Bill Simmons' latest

- Jackpot Jay asks "Skill or Luck?"

- A list of what Bart has written on the chalkboard at the beginning of each Simpson's show H/T Gorilla Mask

- 18 People arrested attempting to smuggle rocket launchers into the US
Erik Estrada

Ponch turns 56 today.

If you want a taste of one of the cheesiest websites in the universe go to the Official Erik Estrada Web Site.

Make sure you check out the Kitchen where you can learn that Erik loves Greek meatballs, spaghetti pie and pizza casarole (quite the gormand is Erik) . You can also sign up to be part of the chatroom:
Welcome to Erik Estrada's Official Chatroom! This room is based on the love we have for Erik and each other, Here you can meet other fans and all are welcomed to be a part of our family!
Sounds like a cult to me.

On the links page you can even find that elusive link to the Official Joann Pflug site (home of the world's worst music).
Morning Links

- PJ O'Rourke on mass transit

- Eric at Off Wing Opinion has an interesting Q&A on blogging

- Naked batting practice? H/T FARK

- Roger Maris and Me - excellent read! H/T SoSH

- USS Jimmah Carter

- Christopher Hitchens on Iraqi WMD - must reading!
David Wells - Hall of Famer?

OK - I'll give you a second to recover from that headline. I'm not saying that Wells is a Hall of Famer but I am saying that his claim for fame is better than I first thought.

Consider that if Wells has a couple of decent seasons with the Red Sox then he should finish his career in the top 50 in both wins and strikeouts. That's pretty good.

Going into this season, Wells has a career record of 212-136 - a winning percentage of .609 and 1,974 career strikeouts. I can see him averaging about a 15-7 mark with around 130 K's over the next two seasons with Boston (a 20 win season also isn't out of the question with the run support he should receive with the Sox).

If these predictions hold - then his 242 wins place him in 52nd place (just one behind Juan Marichal and 3 from tying for 48th place). His 242 wins would be more than former Yankee greats Whitey Ford (236) and Catfish Hunter (224) among others.

If he adds 260 K's to his current total then that places him in 48th place all-time, just in front of Hall of Famer Jim Palmer.

Ford, Hunter and Palmer - that's pretty good company.

The past 5 full-time starter elected to the Hall of Fame by the baseball writers were Nolan Ryan, Don Sutton, Phil Neikro, Steve Carlton and Tom Seaver. If you compare Wells' stats to these guys then it is a pretty quick "umm no thank you" for Wells.

I'm a set the bar higher type of guy so I'd be against Wells in the Hall of Fame. I just wanted to point out that Wells does have a case to make.
Despot / Sexpot

With the number of despots dwindling due to the spread of democracy - I thought I bring out this quiz one more time. Maybe the best thing about the quiz is the background music. You'll probably be singing the tune all day.

Take the quiz!

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

The New 10 Commandments

1. I am the cool mack daddy of the dope hype flow. Give me props and mad respect.
2. Don't be kneeling for some bling bling.
3. Don't be throwing my name around, be it J. Hovah or Yah Diddy.
4. Yo, Sunday is "funday", ya dig?
5. Respect your moms, your pops, or whoever it was raised you, unless they whack.
6. Thou shalt not bust a cap in someone's ass.
7. Don't be running around on people like they don't know.
8. No five-finger discounts.
9. Don't front.
10. If your neighbor's got a fly crib or a pimped-out set of wheels, that's they bidness, not yours.
From the Bible for Dummies via Joe posting at LGF
Happy 238th Birthday Andrew Jackson

Today would have been Andrew Jackson's 238th birthday.

As a fan of Jacksonian Democracy - here are a few links to help celebrate his birthday.

- The official White House biography

- The Hermatige - the home of Andrew Jackson

- The Jacksonian Tradition by Walter Russell Mead (part of Steven den Beste's essential library)
Just Sayin'

Who do I complain to? Back in the day Waffle Crisp cereal looked like little waffles and Alphabit letters were clearly discernable. Now Waffle Crisp looks just like odd size square brown blobs and you can’t tell the difference between a D or an O in the Alphabit letters. I must say I am disappointed in the decline in the quality of my morning sugar fix.
Top 5 - Michael Caine Movies

Yesterday was Caine's 72nd birthday. So here are what I consider his best movies/roles:

1. The Man Who Would be King (Peachy Carnehan)
2. Alfie
3. The Forth Protocol (John Preston)
4. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (Lawrence Jamieson)
5. The Cider House Rules (Dr. Wilbur Larch)

PS - Caine will play Alfred in the new Batman Begins movie
Morning Links

- Good piece on Tito Francona - HT

- VDH on the history of the British Navy

- VDH on the disappearance of the family farm in the US

- Bidinotto on the enviornment and enviornmentalist
Saint Patrick

With St. Patrick's Day just around the corner here's just a couple of things about Saint Patrick.

...was not Irish. He was a British Celt, first enslaved in Ireland as a teen, later a missionary to Ireland.

...was not necessarily the first missionary to Ireland.

No one knows his birth or death date. 17 March is traditionally considered to be one of the two, but there is no documentation for this.

The only documents about Patrick are his Confession and a letter he wrote to Coroticus.

There were never snakes---or other reptiles---in Ireland for Patrick to chase out.

Patrick predates the Roman Catholic Church, and was considered a ``saint'' before the Roman church created its canon (list) of saints (and added him to it).

Monday, March 14, 2005

Happy Steak and BJ Day

I almost forgot! Happy steak and BJ day!

The offial holiday of the Clinton administration.
Separated at Birth?

Amy Madigan and the Green Goblin.

Did you know that Gene Hackman was the original choice of the show's producers to play Mr. Brady on The Brady Bunch but the studio insisted on Robert Reed?
Top 5 - Best Humphrey Bogart Movies

1. Casablanca
2. The African Queen
3. The Big Sleep
4. The Maltese Falcon
5. To Have and Have Not
Morning Links

- Sharon Stone nude on the beach (NSFW). The Sun is there!

- Dwight Gooden throws a punch at his fiance. I have no respect for a man who would hit a woman.

- Using a shoe to cheat the casino's? I always find stories like this facinating. H/T FARK

- Heh Heh - one of the funniest pictures I've seen in a long time

- French perfidy (French perfidy - isn't that redundant?)
Worcester Gets a Bad Name

There is some controversey over the name chosen by the new professional baseball team in Worcester. The team chose the name "Tornadoes" even though that name came in third in a poll of fans. The names "Rockets" and "Warriors" came in first and second place.

The name "Tornadoes" is controversial because in 1953 a tornado in Worcester claimed 94 lives. Many feel the name would be in bad taste.

I for one would recommend either the name of Worcester Ruby Legs or the Whiskey Rebels.

The name Ruby Legs is in reference to the original professional team that played in Worcester and who is now the Philadephia Phillies in the National League. I would think that marketing the team would be easy since you could have all this throw-back gear to sell like hats and jerseys.

The name Whiskey Rebels is in reference to the Whiskey Rebellion. Now Worcester had nothing to do with the Whiskey Rebellion but it did play a major role in Shays Rebellion and who doesn't confuse the two? Plus how cool would it be to have interlocking "W's" for Worcester and Whiskey?

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Steroids and Baseball

There is no denying that steroids are the hot topic in baseball. You have the Senate investigative committee subpoenaeing players, you have Jose Canseco's book and you have the twin bill of Barry Bonds chasing Hank Aaron's home run record while simultaneously trying to deflect fallout from the BALCO investigation.

Now comes stories of Mark McGwire using steroids. Stories of McGwire using steroids are nothing new but today it seems the stories have moved beyond rumor and speculation to verifiable facts (according to the NY Daily News).

The stories are also conveniently meshing together. The guy at the center of "Operation Equine" which is supposedly providing the proof that McGwire used steroids also claims to have been Jose Canseco's steroids "guru":
"On a scale of one to 10, he [Canseco] was a four. When I left, he was an eight," [Curtis] Wenzlaff says. He adds that they haven't spoken in years. "That would square with what Wenzlaff told us," [FBI agent Greg] Stejskal told the News last month. "He was sort of Canseco's guru."
The problem is the mesh is a tangled web of denials, faulty memories and misdirection overlaying the facts.

Jose Canseco doesn't recall Wenzlaff even though Wenzlaff had his telephone numbers and pager number in his address book at the time of Wentzlaff's arrest (not to mention the FBI having a taped conversation between the two discussing steroids procurement). Of course this may have to do with the fact that in his book Jose portrays himself as a self-educated guru on steroids who was an 11 not an 8 on the scale of steroid use expertise. If Wenzlaff was his "guru" then that image falls apart.

Mark McGwire has no comment - on anything.

Barry Bonds wants to misdirect questions on steroids to the fact that according to him people want to bring Bonds down because he's black (note to Barry - people don't like you because you are a jackass). Barry would have you believe that if he did use steroids it was by accident and the fact that Jason Giambi and Gary Sheffield wanted to use Bonds' "training techniques" and are now also in the web of steroids users is purely coincidental.

If you look at the situation dispassionately you would find that everyone agrees that Jose Canseco, Ken Caminiti and Jason Giambi all used steroids, all won Most Valuable Player awards and all were rewarded with multimillion dollar contracts. Giambi will be getting $84 million from the Yankees over the next few years. Barry Bonds will make $18 million this year alone. Is it any wonder that players would take the risks involved to take steroids? The rewards seem to far outweigh the risks.

What are the risks? Besides having a scarlet letter "S" in the public mind are there any long term health risks for the players? That is a question that is still open to debate. Most of the "bad" stuff associated with steroid use such as depression, suicide and cancer have been mostly anecdotal to this point. There is no scientific study that answers the question conclusively.

In 2003 Outside Magazine featured an article about a "regular" guy who took steroids under a doctor's supervision for months and the changes the guy underwent were remarkable. The guy became stronger with more stamina, more sex drive and he even was able to stop wearing contacts. At the end of the article I wanted to start taking steroids.

Is it any wonder that players are willing to make a Faustian deal and use steroids (Faustian - after Gerry Faust who sold his soul to coach at Notre Dame).

Is steroids that much different from any of the other medical advances in sports? A player can have Tommy John surgery but they can't take steroids which may have allowed a muscle growth and recovery time that may have prevented the need for the surgery in the first place? Players can have laser surgery on their eyes to improve their vision (and a big part of baseball is seeing the ball) but they can't take a substance like steroids where one of the known side benefits is improved vision?

This brings me to the Senate committee and the subpoenas. I have read many times about the different players being subpoenaed but not once about any medical experts being subpoenaed. What will Curt Schilling be able to bring to the table besides a known friendship with Senator John McCain and a known rooting interest for George W. Bush? Will he testify on the differences between pitching to a juiced player vs. a non-juiced player? Does anyone expect a player to implicate himself? To name names? Are you now or have you ever been a member of the steroids using crowd? Are you a steroids fellow traveler?

This is all just theater and it is high time to put the theater away and bring out the science.

EDIT: The Sports Prof also tackled the subject today

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Ummm... Senator Kerry - What About the Daily Show or Imus in the Morning?

PJ O'Rouke has a column up about a recent appearence by John Kerry at the JFK Museum to accept an award. O'Rouke is always worth the read but I found this quote from Kerry particularly interesting:
"A lot of the mainstream media were very responsible during the campaign. They tried to put out a balanced view, and they did show what they thought to be the truth in certain situations of attack. . . . But it never penetrated. And when you look at the statistics and understand that about 80 percent of America gets 100 percent of its news from television, and a great deal of that news comes from either MTV, Jon Stewart, Bill Maher, Jay Leno, David Letterman, you begin to see the size of the challenge."
Now it should be noted that this quote was in response to a question from the audience. I wish I was there to ask a follow up question. I mean how can a person like Kerry fault people for getting their news from Leno when the only two live interviews the Democratic candidate for President made during the last three months of the campaign were with Jon Stewart and Don Imus?
Flotsam and Jetsam

One of the things I like best about traveling to the DC area is getting to listen to both the Don & Mike Show and the Ron & Fez Show on WJFK... I apologize to any Canadian readers but when I read Matt Labash describe Canada as "North America's attic" - well I just spit at my monitor (if you are Canadian and are easily offended - for God's sake don't click the link)... Danjack? As Kyle would say, "Dude, that's pretty fucked up right there"...Hot, spicy food gives me hiccups... A-Rod as a superhero?... There's only one Latigo Flint:
I don't see what the big problem was today. What, like 4th graders have never seen a hysterical, bleeding man trying to climb into paintings before? Aren't field trips supposed to expose students to things they can't experience in a classroom?
11 Lynch's to 1 Pinto

David Pinto mentioned that Reynel Pinto for the Cubs has been sent down. That means that there has still been only one Pinto to play pro baseball. There have been 11 Lynch's - the best of which was probably Jerry Lynch.

Please note that this is just and observation and I really don't want to hear from anyone with a last name of Johnson or Martinez.
One Year Blog Anniversary

One year ago today I started A Large Regular. I had been blogging at for over a year and thought it was time to claim my own piece of the web. The decision was hastened along by the upcoming presidential election, the war in Iraq and the realization that I had things I wanted to say about these topics and that really wasn’t the forum for these opinions and observations.

At first I was very apprehensive about starting my own blog. The technology was new to me (I knew very little about HTML). A number of people had told me that Blogger was easy as pie to use and they were right.

Sure sometimes Blogger can be frustrating (I quickly learned to either write my stuff in word and copy and paste or make sure I copied what I wrote before hitting the publish button). I always try to remember that Blogger is free and that I shouldn’t complain - but that is easier said than done.

When I first started A Large Regular I was mostly focused on the Red Sox, the presidential race, the war in Iraq and just the regular miscellaneous stuff that draws my interest. I also started out by trying to do little snippets about the different countries in our world. I did this as a means of self education. I tend to remember things better if I write them down (Mike Ganis tells me that another secret to remembering things is to whisper what you want to remember to yourself). I enjoyed learning about different countries but the events of the day quickly took over and this little exercise in self betterment fell by the wayside.

Now that things have quieted down (so to speak), I think I again will resume this practice of looking at the different countries if for no other reason than I enjoyed learning new things.

Over the course of the year, I have seen the number of daily visitors steadily increase. When I first started, getting 100 visitors in a day was a great day. Now I get about 200-400 per day (hopefully this upward trend will continue).

I have had over 166,000 visitors to the site and I do admit to some sense of satisfaction to this number. However, I don’t kid myself. I know that the majority of the hits were due to others linking to something I’ve written and without these links I probably would be still toiling in complete obscurity instead of the relative obscurity I find myself in.

Key to the number of hits were several “Instalanches” from Instapundit. For a blogger that has to be the ultimate. I remember the first Instalanche clearly. One night it occurred to me that the John Kerry Campaign seemed to be having a mis-step every single day. I looked back at the month of August and detailed a month full of missteps (except for August 12th) and sent the link off to the professor. He liked it and linked to it and my stat counter started going through the roof.

I remember just watching the stat counter. I couldn’t refresh fast enough to keep up with it. As my luck would have it, my first Instalanche came on one of Glenn’s busiest days and I got over 10,000 hits from the experience.

For a blogger there is nothing like the feeling of having something you’ve written being judged “linkworthy” by another blogger. I’ve been linked by Instapundit, American Digest, Hugh Hewitt, Betsy’s Page, Baseball Musings, NRO, Baseball Crank, Offwing Opinion,, and many, many more (each link of which I am extremely grateful for and humbled by).

Probably most importantly, I feel like I have made some friends with my blog. I look forward to having beers with Gerard on the West Coast, Bill in Ohio, BST and Eric in Tennessee, the other Eric in DC and so many more folks who have been kind enough to make this site a regular stop.

Finally, I would like to thank Sports and Bremertonians who were the first to add me to their blogroll. I have always appreciated that. I have also tried to keep that feeling in mind and have tried to be as generous with linking to new blogs as Jeremy and David were when they linked to me.

Going forward I will try to keep my posting here at A Large Regular interesting, informative and hopefully humorous. I will also continue to post at (although to be honest most times those posts are day old A Large Regular offerings). In addition, Gerard Van der Leun at American Digest has graciously asked me to contribute to his site on matters of sports and I expect to contribute during the summer to the web site for Die Hard (a Red Sox geared publication).

Thanks so much for visiting A Large Regular. I promise to provide more cowbell at the same great price!

Friday, March 11, 2005

Childhood Confessions – Little Metal Disks

Have you even gone up an escalator and noticed those little metal disks evenly spaced out in the little area between the up and down escalators? Do you know why they are there?

Those little metal disks are there because of kids like me.

Picture the escalators without those little metal disks. What you have without those disks is a very low friction; high speed metal slide that kids like me would ride until mall security kicked us out.

We used to go riding the escalators when we were kids. We would take the escalator up and then slide down in that area between the two escalators. It was quite a rush and there was the added adrenaline of doing something that was “technically” wrong and doing it in the face of people riding the escalators. It was great fun. You could really get going pretty fast on these make-shift slides.

The ones with the slide closer to the ground were good because the glass or metal between the escalators kept you from accidentally bumping into someone coming up or down the escalators. The bad part was the fact that being so close to the ground you only had two choices to end the ride. You could use your feet to slow yourself down to a stop - but what’s the fun in that? Secondly, you could go full speed and land on your butt and hope it didn’t hurt too much.

The escalators with the middle part raised to about the level of the hand-rails were preferred because it gave you a chance to slide down really fast and then stick a landing. The danger was in both the landing and being so close to the people riding the escalators up or down. The people could interfere with your ride or you could accidentally hit their hand resting on the hand-rail.

Most times, though, we just waited until there was nobody on the escalator or and security in site. It was fun but now with those little metal disks in place – kids today with never have the chance to experience that fun (and as a parent I’m happy about that).
OK – I’ll Say it

One thing that has always bothered me is the fact that Neil Diamond released a Christmas album. I just find it wrong that Diamond is trying to sell us songs like O’ Holy Night. This to me is like Donny Osmond releasing a Hanukah album. There’s just something that’s not kosher about it.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Slice of Life - A Travel Story

I'm traveling today in the Northern Virgina area. This morning I flew into BWI and something happened when I landed that made me recall a story my buddy Mike told me and which he swears is true (although amost any time someone uses the words "I swear this is true" your crap detector should go off).

Anyway, Mike had a friend who was traveling and he happened to be in the Atlanta Hartsfield Airport when nature called (number two). The friend goes into the stall and gets himself situated when he hears a voice from the next stall say, "How's it going?"

Nonplussed, the friend answers, "OK I guess."

The voice then says, "Everything working out?"

The friend uncomfortably answers, "So far so good I guess."

Then the voice in the next stall says, "Hey listen - I gotta hang up. They guy in the next stall thinks I'm talking to him."

True or not - that's some funny shit.

What got me thinking about that story was me getting off the plane and heading to the men's room (number one). It was impossible not to notice this one guy in one of the stalls. It was impossible not to notice him because he was talking VERY LOUDLY on his cell phone. It was very memorable because the guy was facing forward and you could see he was wearing a hard hat (I know he was facing forward because I could see part of his forehead under his hard hat and his hard hat was above the top of the stall). Because you could see the hard hat - that means the guy was either like 7'5" and taking a dump or he was doing a trick shot between the legs move.

Either way - it was memorable enough for me to share.

I'll try to keep my scatalogical observations to a minimum in the future.

I read the book Faithful on my recent trip to the left coast. Written by Stewart O’Nan and Stephen King – the book chronicles the 2004 season of the Boston Red Sox through the eyes of “diehard” fans (namely the two authors). The diaries and back and forth emails take the reader from Spring Training to the ultimate victory of the Sox in the World Series.

Of course the big hook to this book is to read what Stephen King was thinking during the course of the season. I doubt the book gets a green light if the king of horror is not involved. Unfortunately, King’s prose only encompasses about 1/3 of the book with the balance being the words of O’Nan.

Yes, the book was highly entertaining and I can think of no better way to start off the 2005 season than by reliving the magic of 2004 but I had an uneasy feeling about O’Nan throughout.

Stewart O’Nan was born and raised a fan of the Pittsburgh Pirates, meaning he is not a life-long Sox fan or even a fan with sole allegiances to the Red Sox. O’Nan mentions how he’s always checking the boxscores for the Pirates and he mentions Bill Mazeroski more times than Bucky “F’n” Dent. Word to O’Nan – lifelong Red Sox fans only care about the Red Sox and Yankees. That’s the true extent of our passion.

There was also the disturbing O’Nan mania for getting batting practice balls, foul balls and autographs that seemed to border on an unhealthy obsession. He comes off like comic book guy talking about scoring a comic book in mint condition.

As a blogger – I envy Stewart O’Nan. He got a book deal for doing what many of us do for free. There are hundreds of passionate baseball bloggers who comment on every game (and every day off) during the season.

Really – O’Nan basically got paid to do what I’d do for free. Yes – I’m jealous.

I’d be curious to see how the sales of this book stack up against the sales of the book Stephen King wrote about the art of writing. I don’t know but I’d be willing to bet more people bought this book to find out his thoughts on the Red Sox than bought his books explaining his craft. I find that kinda funny.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

What Happened to the Ransom Money?

In the curious case of Giuliana Sgrena - the big question to be asked is what happened to the ransom money. Sgrena didn't use normal channels and she says she was kidnapped. She says 300-400 bullets were fired but her car shows little damage. Only one person was killed and isn't it convienient that it is government agent who could not have been part of any pre-arranged plot. Maybe he didn't want a share of the ransom?

It will be interesting to see what happens when the ballistic reports come in.

My guess is that many in the Italian press will be owning some apologies to the US military (not that those apologies would ever be forth coming).

This whole scenario reminds me of the plot from Christopher Walken's Suicide Kings.