Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Top 5 Clint Eastwood Movies

Today is Clint's birthday (he turns 75 today - can you believe that?)

1. Outlaw Josey Wales
2. Any Which Way But Loose
3. Dirty Harry
4. Fistful of Dollars
5. (tie) Kelly's Heros (tie) Where Eagles Dare

Million Dollar Baby is not on the list mainly because I haven't seen it yet (not a big fan of depressing movies)
Heh Heh

Back by popular demand - Bear with searing gas pain.
Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

With the success of Danika at the Indianapolis 500 - what will be the next traditionally male sport to have a woman rise to the top? Will it be the World Series of Poker? Last year Rose Ritchie was the top woman finisher at 98th. I'd bet that a woman finishes much higher than that this year. Maybe even making the final table... I wonder if Niagra Falls is technically classified as a Class VI rapids?... My favorite campaign slogan of all-time was Ronald Reagan's "Elect me and let's all forget the Carter Presidency ever existed."... Did you know that boxing and canoeing are the only two Olympic sports that exclude women?... Today's word for the day is "holoholo" which is Hawaiian for "to ramble for pleasure". Now I'm sure they mean walking but sometimes I "holoholo" with words here on this blog... Benny Binion who started the World Series of Poker was convicted of killing two men and fled justice to Las Vegas. Binion was a mob boss in Texas. You never hear mention of that from Norm Chad on the WSOP broadcasts....
Harry Potter vs. God

Who's got the better story?
Separated at Birth?

Nick Johnson and Fatty Arbuckle
More Harry Potter Factoids

- The Hogworts headmaster prior to Albus Dumbledore was Armando Dippet

- The Hogwarts motto is Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus - never tickle a sleeping dragon

-Most Harry Potter fans know that Snape is head of Slytherin House and that McGonagall is head of Griffendore but did you know that Professor Flitwick is the head of Ravenclaw? Professor Sprout is head of Hufflepuff.

- In warmer climates - colorful birds are used in place of owls to deliver the wizard mail

- The hospital in the Harry Potter books is called Saint Mungo's - did you know that there really is a Saint Mungo and that he's the patron saint of Glasgow, Scotland?

- To gain entance to the Ministry of Magic - you first go into an old telephone booth where you dial 6-2-4-4-2 to get the receptionist. On a telephone keypad - 6-2-4-4-2 spells "M-A-G-I-C".

Monday, May 30, 2005

The True Purpose of Today's Holiday

Large Bill has a post to remind us of the true purpose of today's holiday. Be sure to check the links. The bravery of some of these young men just gives you chills.

Mike Ganis sums up what the day has become:
In My Day, Memorial Day (Decoration Day) always fell on May 30. While many cities and towns had the tradition of Memorial Day Parades in the morning, baseball had its own tradition of daytime Memorial Day doubleheaders all around the major leagues. About 35 or so years ago, this tradition not only ended, but now some teams don’t even play on Memorial Day, as it is used as a “travel” day for them. The same was once true of the two other summer holidays – Fourth of July (aka Independence Day) and Labor Day.

Changing the Memorial Day date merely to create three-day weekends has undermined the very meaning of the day. No doubt, this has contributed to the general public’s nonchalant observance of Memorial Day. This year’s Memorial Day happens to fall on May 30, but that is just by coincidence, as that happens once every five years or so.

Over the years, the meaning of Memorial Day has faded too much from the public consciousness. From a solemn day of mourning, remembrance, and honor to our departed loved ones, it has degenerated into a weekend of barbecues, shopping bargains, and beaches where only token nods toward our honored dead is given, if at all. Too many people don't even know what the fuckin’ day stands for.

When my daughter’s kindergarten teacher asked the class last week, “What is Memorial Day about?”, the consensus answer was “barbecues.” Of course, I didn’t expect the correct answer from five- and six-year olds, but there are plenty of adults who would respond with similar answers like “barbecues, opening of the beach season, shopping mall sales, etc.”

Memorial Day used to be a sacred day that was reserved for the remembrance of those who paid the ultimate price for our freedoms. Businesses closed for the day. Towns held parades honoring the fallen, the parade routes often ending at a local cemetery, where Memorial Day speeches were then given. People took the time that day to clean and decorate with flowers and flags the graves of those that fell in service to our country.

It is human nature to avoid the unpleasant. But we need to remember the cost of war, we need to remember the price paid for our freedoms, we need to not let those who died, die forgotten and in vain.

If it is considered a holiday, why is it so? I consider it to be a national day of mourning. This is how we observe this day in my home. Because of what that day represents the rest of the days of the year are our holidays.

When Congress made the day into a three-day weekend back in 1971, it made it all the easier for us to be distracted from the spirit and meaning of the day.

We need to teach our children the day's meaning. Show others by our actions that we will not forget. You don't have to believe in war to honor our family, friends, and neighbors who died in service to their country.

Instead of using Memorial Day as a time to honor and reflect on the sacrifices made by Americans in combat, many Americans use the day as a celebration of the beginning of summer. It would be a good idea if Congress would restore Memorial Day to May 30 and authorize flags to fly at half-mast on that day.

Don't we owe our loved ones and friends who died in service to our country a restored Memorial Day?
1,000 Bars

This is pretty cool.

You get the background to the blog in this news story.
Memorial Day Tribute - Wish You Were Here

So, so you think you can tell Heaven from Hell,
blue skies from pain.
Can you tell a green field from a cold steel rail? A smile from a veil?
Do you think you can tell?

And did they get you trade your heroes for ghosts?
Hot ashes for trees? Hot air for a cool breeze?
Cold comfort for change? And did you exchange
a walk on part in the war for a lead role in a cage?

How I wish, how I wish you were here.
We're just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl,
year after year,
running over the same old ground. What have we found?
The same old fears,
wish you were here.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Separated at Birth?

Kevin Millar and toast.

Lyford has the numbers to back up what every Red Sox fan who has been paying attention knows to be true. Kevin Millar is toast.
VDH Hits the Nail on the Head Once Again

Nothing like a little bit of Victor Davis Hanson straight shooting on a Sunday morning:
Liberal copycats of talk radio fail, not because they are always boring but because there is little market or even need for such a counter-establishment media. The progressive audience already finds its views embedded in a New York Times or CBS "news" story. So why turn to a redundant and less adept Al Franken, Phil Donahue or Arianna Huffington?
If anything the MSM is getting more bent to the left because they have succeeded in driving away their customers seeking "fair and balanced" coverage. The MSM now has to preach to their choir because that's the only audience they have left. CBS News trails Simpsons reruns in many major markets. The damage has been done and now CBS et al have to try and keep the left wing audience.
Baseball Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous baseball thoughts and observations.

- In the past seven days, Edgar Renteria has hit .522 (12 for 23) with 1 Hr, 5 RBI and a stolen base. This is the Edgar Renteria folks in Boston have been waiting to see.

- Matt Clement must be loving his run support with the Red Sox. So far this season the Sox have been putting up 7.13 runs on average in Clement's starts. That's not to say that he doesn't deserve his 6-0 start because as his 3.06 ERA will attest - he's pitched well. It's just that after seeing the guy get no run support with the Cubs last year - its nice for him to experience the opposite end of the spectrum. That 7.13 in run support is just 5th in the AL - Chan Ho Park leads the AL with a 7.52 mark.

- Blaine Neal and Byung-Hyun Kim both pitched for Colorado yesterday making the Colorado pitching staff ground zero for misfit former Red Sox pitchers. I must have missed Neal getting released by the Sox because I thought he was still a specter of ineffectiveness to be dealt with. It turns out that he was waived back on the 11th and the Rockies claimed him.

- Jim Thome continues to struggle and his back is probably worse than the Phillies are letting on. Jeff Bagwell's shoulder was killing him and he's now out for the season but yet Bagwell still has more HR in 2005 than Thome (3 to 2). Both these guys came up to the big leagues in 1991 and it is interesting to compare their career numbers:

Thome - .283 BA/ .409 OBP/ .565 SLG / 425 HR/ 1179 RBI/ 5829 AB
Bagwell - .297 BA/ .408 OBP/ .541 SLG/ 449 HR/ 1525 RBI/ 7785 AB

The numbers are pretty even except for RBI where Bagwell has the advantage mainly because he had more at bats. The more at bats are simply because Bagwell was used full time when he came up in 1991 while Thome was a role player for his first few years in Cleveland playing behind Paul Sorrento (yeah - Paul Sorrento).

- Bagwell is 40th all-time in RBI while Thome is not even in sniffing distance of the top 100. If Thome's back doesn't hold up and Thome is not able to get to the magical 500 HR - then there is a good chance Thome doesn't get elected to the Hall of Fame. If that's the case - then I would look back to 1992 and 1993 when he played behind Paul Sorrento in Cleveland as the reason he didn't get into Cooperstown.

- Only one word can describe Aaron Hill's performance since being brought up by the Blue Jays - Wow!

- Kevin Millar has been awful so far this season. Just to illustrate - Dave Roberts has the reputation as a speedy light hitting outfielder but yet Roberts has 15 extra base hits to Millar's 9 and that includes 2 home runs apiece. Dave Roberts has the same number of HR and is out slugging Cowboy Up Millar by 132 points (.465 to .333)!

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Joke of the Day

The time had come to find a home for the ailing matriarch of the family. Finally, they find the right place, and the family brings their frail, elderly mother to a nursing home and leaves her, hoping she will be well cared for.

The next morning, the nurses bathe her, feed her breakfast, and give her a chair at a window overlooking a lovely flower garden.

She seems fine, but after awhile she slowly starts to lean over sideways in her chair. Two attentive nurses immediately rush up to catch her and straighten her up.

Again she seems fine, but after awhile she starts to tilt to the other side. The nurses rush back and once more bring her back upright. This goes on all morning.

The family arrives to see how their mother is adjusting to her new home. "So, Ma, how is it here? Are they treating you all right?" they ask.

"It's pretty nice," she replies.

"Except they won't let you fart."

Originally got the joke from BST
Real Consequences for Newsweek

America is a free Republic but we are also a capitalist nation. Newsweek put out a defective product that managed to get people killed and yet they have not suffered any real consequences. Imagine what would happen to Ford's stock if they put out a defective product that killed as many people in such a short period of time.

Take a look at Newsweek's parent company - The Washington Post Company to see if they have suffered any real monetary consequences since the infamous issue.

Shortly after the May 1st issue of Newsweek - the stock plunged $40 but now about half of that has been made up and the stock seems to be trending back up. It seems to me that the punishment has not fit the crime in this instance. Among the Washington Post Companies holdings are:

- The Washington Post
- The Daily Herald (an Everett, Washington paper)
- Newsweek
- Kaplan Education (the test prep folks)
- WDIV - Channel 4 in Detroit
- KPRC - Channel 2 in Houston
- WPLG - Channel 10 in Miami
- WKMG - Channel 6 in Orlando
- KSAT - Channel 12 in San Antonio
- WJXT - Channel 4 in Jacksonville
- Cable One (an operator of cable systems is the West, Mid West and South West)
- Slate (the online "magazine")

I don't own any Washington Post Company stock (and I won't buy any) and I really don't have any contact with most of their holdings but I'll be damned if I ever spend another dime on an issue of Newsweek or buy a Washington Post newspaper or ever click on any articles from Slate.

That's my own personal protest and I'm sticking to it.
Harry Potter Factoids

Here are some tidbits that Harry Potter fans may find of interest:

- JK Rowling has said that she has already written the final chapter to the seventh and final book and that the last word in the series is "scar"

- Harry's middle name is James

- Lilly Potter's maiden name was Lilly Evans

- Prankster twins Fred and George Weasley were born on April Fools Day.

- The name Malfoy is French for "bad faith" (mal foi)

Friday, May 27, 2005

Duff Man

Seeing Tony Womack play for the Yankees tonight reminded me that the Sox traded Womack to the Cardinals last year and got minor league pitcher Matt Duff in return. I was curious what Duff Man was up to now.

It turns out that just as Womack only spent a single season with the Cardinals - Duff only spent a single season in the Red Sox system. Last year Duff went 5-3 with a 3.82 ERA in 63 2/3 innings for Pawtucket. This year Duff Man is in the Toronto system, playing for the Syracuse Sky Chiefs. It also turns out that Matt Duff has his own website.

Good luck Duff Man.
Click It or Ticket - Waste of Public Funds

Edit: I originally posted this last May but the damn commercials are back!

The "Click It or Ticket" TV ads really bug me. I know that seatbelts are now required by law but I don't have a seat belt on my couch. Sure I know the people putting on the ads want to get the idea across for when we do go into our cars but isn't that what the reminder signs on the highway are for? What makes the seatbelt law so special that it gets to spend reams of taxpayer money on advertising?

Oh the people who put on the ads will say the law saves lives and therefore the money on ads is well spent. Well the law that requires fences with locks around pools also saves lives - how come those folks don't get to waste public money on ads?

Do we really want to differentiate the laws by giving certain laws their own commercials? What about other laws like Gay Marriage ("Gay Marriage in Massachusetts - it's the Law!") or what about older laws like removing tags off mattresses (don't they deserve reminder commercials)? How about when the law was changed and liquor stores were allowed to open on the Sabbath? How come we didn't get any "Booze on Sunday - it's the law!" commercials?

How come the seat belt Nazi's get to spend public money on commercials? This really bugs me.

I'm really not even against the seatbelt law. It does make sense but I think the commercials are a bit much. It seems like hubris. Rubbing the law in peoples faces. It's as if they are saying "We know this law was defeated when it was on referrendum but we enacted it anyway because we know better than you plus the insurance folks gave us big contributions to pass the law - so there! And oh yeah - Click It or Ticket!"
Heh Heh

This was one of the funniest things I've read in a while. At one point I laughed so hard I almost passed out.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Colin Powell to Join Group Trying to Purchase Washington Nationals

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell has joined a group trying to purchase the Nationals. The group Powell is joining is led by Fred Malek and Jeffrey Zients and also includes Vernon E. Jordan Jr. I found the final paragraph of the linked article interesting:
Powell is a close friend of Jordan and an old friend and former colleague of Malek, who helped select Powell, who was a lieutenant colonel in the Army, as a White House fellow during the Nixon administration. Powell was in the Office of Management and Budget when Malek, who was OMB deputy director, recruited Powell to be his assistant.
First - the quote reminded me of what Powell wrote about Malek in Powell's 1995 autobiography:
When a secretary called saying, "Mr. Malek is on the line," it was like hearing the Mafia tell you that the money was due by midnight and no excuses.
I guess that means that Fred Malek is a no-nonsense type of guy. I know some context would add meaning but the quote was too memorable to pass-up.

I also found it interesting to see Vernon Jordan described as a close friend. Jordan was perhaps Bill Clinton's closest advisor. It seems like this group is either trying to cover both sides of the political fence with Republican appointee Powell and Democratic kingmaker Jordan or that Powell is moving closer to the Democratic side of the aisle.

Powell grew up in a home where his parents hung a picture of FDR in the main room and is on record for voting for JFK, Johnson and Carter (in 1976 but not 1980). This speculation is tempered by the fact that Malek is a staunch Republican and the move to add Powell is probably just a savvy move by Malek to help a friend while at the same time adding a high profile former Republican who is sure to be on all the short lists for President in 2008.

If I were to try and crystal gaze I would say that this move by Powell and the Malek group would be (if successful) not a further stepping stone to the Presidency but a possible stepping stone by Powell to eventually replace Bud Selig as Commissioner of Baseball. Powell is a guy used to dealing with strong personalities with conflicting and competing interests. Whether dealing with heads of State or with the Chiefs of Staff for the different branches of the US military - Powell has been known as a man who both gets things done and who also does so without ruffling any feathers. What better training could a man have for dealing with the Pohlads, Steinbrenners and Linders than dealing with the Chiracs, Arafats and Putins?

My gut tells me that Powell may not want the Presidency and that the negative campaigning is not something he would want to subject his wife or family to after all the years they sacrificed for him while he was moving from post to post in the military and in government service. Powell may want to collect on his long years of service and I frankly, don't blame him for doing so.

The job of Commissioner of Baseball would be a well paying gig for the baseball loving Powell that would entail relatively little heavy lifting in comparison to his former responsibilities.

Hat tip for the link to Eric at Off Wing Opinion
Separated at Birth?

Tom Cruise on Oprah and a monkey on ecstasy.
Baseball Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous baseball thoughts and observations.

- Ted Lilly may be having a pretty poor season but he always does good against the Red Sox (so it seems). Last night he went 6 2/3 innings allowing only 4 hits and 1 run. This year Lilly has a 1.54 ERA against Boston in 2 starts. For his career he's just 2-3 in 12 starts with a 3.97 ERA - so maybe it just seems to me that he's always pitching lights out against the Sox.

- Kyle Davies looks like the real deal for the Braves. In his first start he shut down the Red Sox in Fenway Park and last night he beat the Mets at home in Atlanta. In both starts he went 5 innings without giving up a run and while striking out 6 batters. Davies was brought up after Mike Hampton went on the DL with a forearm injury and it looks like he may stay a while. Davies is just 21-years old. Just saying but Davies may turn out to be the difference in the NL East this year.

- There was just 189 pitches thrown in last nights Seattle / Baltimore game. That's less pitches than what Dusty Baker limits his starters to.

- Aaron Boone continues to struggle. He's hitting just .162 with a paltry .214 OBP. His wife Laura Cover is really hot though (NSFW).

- Todd Helton is hitting 53 points below his career average (.337 career vs. .284 in 2005). Don't get me wrong - .284 is decent but it is below Helton's standards. More troubling to me is the fact that his slugging percentage is also down 149 points vs. his career average (.611 career vs. .471 2005). You could blame it on the cold weather in Colorado but for his career Helton has hit .350 in May with half his games at Coors Field. I love Helton but I do wonder why you don't hear Peter Gammons talking about how he's "disinterested" the same way he railed against Manny Ramirez (whose number are down but not as bad as Helton's).

- OK - you have to give Alex Rodriguez his due. He is having a monster year batting .318 with 16 HR and 47 RBI. Maybe with his hot hitting he can finally make his announcement.
Michael Jackson - Odds of Being Convicted

As the Michael Jackson trial winds down - I thought I'd share what the bookies are offering for odds of him going to jail.

Odds of being convicted of child molestation: +$105 (meaning you would have to risk $100 to win $105 saying that he'd be convicted)

Odds of not being convicted of child molestation: -$135 (meaning you would have to risk $135 to win $100 saying he will not be convicted)

Right now the bookies have it better than even that Jackson's defense team gets him out of this mess. Personally - I think he's a freak who should go to jail for the rest of his life but I wouldn't bet on that actually happening.
Sihugo Green

People talk about Sam Bowie over Michael Jordan as the biggest draft day mistake in history but for my money Sihugo Green was a much bigger mistake.

In the 1956 NBA draft, the Rochester Royals had the first pick and the Boston Celtics had the second pick (via a trade with St. Louis). With the first pick Rochester selected 6'2" Sihugo Green of Duquesne. With the second pick, the Boston Celtics selected Bill Russell of San Francisco.

The rest is history.

In case you never heard of Sihugo - he ended up playing 9 season (his last with the Celtics BTW) and averaged 9.2 points per game and 3.3 assists for his career.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Field of Dreams

Sheila has a very thought provoking post on the role of Amy Madigan's character in Field of Dreams. Her post was timely since Field of Dreams was on SPIKE last night.

Field of Dreams is one of Sheila's favorite movies (she explains why) and it used to be one of mine. I say used to be because there are three main problems I have with the movie that the more I see the movie - the more trouble I have overlooking what I see as major flaws.

1. I can't help thinking that Amy Madigan is really Willem Defoe in a wig.

2. Ray gets a vision of a baseball field where home plate is next to the field of corn and he builds it completely opposite of the vision. What's up with that?

3. Ray is in financial trouble and may lose his farm and his house and Terence Mann does nothing. I mean Terence Mann is one of the most famous authors of the sixties who must have royalty checks up the wazoo plus he sold children's software at the height of the Internet bubble. He lives very modestly and you know that he's loaded with cash and yet he does nothing to help Ray except give a speech about baseball. Terence Mann you cheap bastard!

Sorry - got carried away. That always happens when I think about or watch Field of Dreams. Sorry.

Hat Tip to BST for Sheila's link
Golf and Baseball Grips

I meant to link to this post over at Balls, Sticks and Stuff earlier. I found the comparison between the Vardon grip and the grip Bobby Abreu uses very interesting.

Good stuff. This is why I love blogs - you don't get this stuff in the local or national papers.
Italian Restaurant May Soon Sue Clinton

I found this story interesting
. One of the reasons that I've been turned off by the Democratic Party is that in recent years the leaders seem to be lacking in common decency.

This is not something that I could picture a Harry Truman or George McGovern ever doing (JFK maybe) but something that seems to be modus operandi for today's Clintons, Gores, Kerrys and the rest of the Democratic leadership. George H. Bush may have had a patrician upbringing but every account of him as a person indicates he is very aware of the feelings and dignity of the people around him. I just can't picture a similar story about either George H. Bush, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney or especially Colin Powell. It would be easy for me to picture the same sort of story and potential lawsuit against an Al Gore or John Kerry however.

The Democrats are supposed to be the party of the "little guy" of the "working man" but in practice they seem to treat blue collar folks like peons good only for campaign photo opportunities.

This seems to me to be the crux of the current problem with the Democratic Party - a lack in real common decency. I also think that the fact that Democratic leaders tend to be both millionaires and lawyers does nothing to alleviate this problem. If Democrats got back to electing union leaders at least the party leadership would understand the real costs of food, healthcare and housing to the working man and they would understand that when you make a reservation for 18 at a restaurant - you either honor the reservation or you at least call to cancel. That's just common decency.
Sugar Sugar

Interesting article today by Pete du Pont on CAFTA (Central American Free Trade Agreement). It seems to boils down to the Central American Nations of Costs Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic removing their remaining tariffs of US goods while the US which already has almost no tariffs on goods from these nations would drop the protections afforded to the US sugar industry.

It seems like a very fair deal to me.

Canada does not have the same protectionist tariffs on sugar that the US has and because of that sugar prices (according to a KPMG 2004 study) average 40% less in Canada than in the US. This seems to be a clear case of a special interest (the US sugar lobby) making profits at the expense of the rest of US society.

If your representative in Congress votes against CAFTA it would be a clear indication that they are more interested in campaign contributions from the sugar lobby than in making sure that the main ingredient in most of the items of the local school bake sale are purchased at a reasonable price.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince - Odds on Who Dies

JK Rowling has said that a major character dies or is killed in the upcoming Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. Here are the latest odds on who dies:

Professor Dumbledore - 1/5
Neville Longbottom - 4/1
Hagrid - 4/1
Cho Chang - 11/2
Ron Weasley - 6/1
Fred and/or George - 6/1
Molly Weasley - 6/1
Arthur Weasley - 6/1
Severus Snape - 7/1
Professor McGonagall - 7/1
Ginny Weasley - 8/1
Hermione Granger - 10/1
Dobby - 10/1
Oliver Wood - 14/1
Harry Potter - 16/1
Draco - 22/1

The odds have changed quite dramatically since I first examined them a few months ago. Neville Longbottom wasn't even listed before and now he's 4-1? Interesting. Draco at longer odds than Harry Potter - incredible.

Of course all of this is pure speculation. I still agree with my original thoughts on the matter but with the new odds - I would say that the best bets are Fred and / or George Weasley at 6-1 or Mr. Weasley also at 6-1. Dumbledore is the prohibative favorite and I could see his death fufilling a plot line (he's the only one Voldemorte is afraid of and his death would lead the way to both open warfare and also Harry rising to his greatest heights) - however, as a bet - his odds are not worth the risk.

The book is due out in July.

Edit: Welcome Instapundit readers - please be sure to check out the rest of the site and blogroll me if you like what you see. Thanks.

Edit 2: Looks like it's Dumbledore who gets the big adios. Hat tip to Bill Cook
Baseball Flotsam and Jetsam

Some miscellaneous baseball thoughts and observations:

- The Red Sox are now the top road draw in baseball. So far this season the Sox have averaged 37,470 in road attendance. The Padres are surprisingly second with 36,522 to edge out the Yankees who have averaged 35,767 in road attendance.

- The top three pitchers in the AL in terms of strikeout / walk ratio are all on the Minnesota Twins. Radke is first with a 13.33 ratio, Santana is second with his 10.38 and Silva is third with his 9.50. For comparison - Javier Vazquez leads the NL with his 7.88 ratio. Rick Anderson is the pitching coach in Minnesota and he must be doing something right.

- A warning sign for the Yankees has to be the fact that they are fifth in MLB in runs allowed with 225. The teams above them are the Devil Rays, Reds, Rockies and Royals.

- The Twins are first in MLB is terms of pitching staff WHIP (Walks and hits / innings pitched) with a 1.14 mark. Again Rick Anderson must be doing something right out there in Minnesota. Interestingly, the top 3 teams in WHIP in MLB are all from the AL Central with the Twins first, the Indians second (1.22) and the White Sox third (1.23).

- Since becoming the starting shortstop for the Dodgers in 2002 - Caesar Izturis has hit .232, 251, .288 and is now hitting .346. That an increase of 19, 37, and now 58 points in batting average year over year. With this pace - Izturis should hit over .400 next year.

- Look for Mark Redman of the Pirates to become a hot commodity in the coming weeks. He's 3-3 with a 2.48 ERA so far this year in 9 starts. He would be a perfect pickup for say the Braves or the Cubs. The Braves could use an innings eating starter with Hampton and Thomson on the DL and the Cubs could use Redman to take Zambrano's starting slot so he can become their closer. Redman struggled in the AL last year with the A's (11-12 with a 4.71 ERA) - so I would look for him to stay in the NL. Redman is signed through 2006 at $4 million per year - so he doesn't break the bank either.

- Wins shares are a pretty good barometer for the post season awards in my opinion. So far this year, according to Win Shares, Brian Roberts deserves to be the AL MVP and Jon Garland the AL Cy Young. The NL MVP would between Carlos Lee and Bobby Abreu while Roger Clemens would get the NY Cy Young. Tough to argue with those choices.

- So far this year Keith Foulke has 0 win shares for the Boston Red Sox. Last year he had 15.

- Not sure what to make of this but when I spell check the word "Padres" - my spell check wants me to replace it with "faders". We shall see.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Separated at Birth?

Joan Collins and Seabiscuit were both born on this day 72 years ago. Has anyone ever seen them in the same room together?
Heh Heh

The further adventures of Latigo Flint:
The footage ends with me attempting a running leap from the top of a twelve-foot shelf in the general direction of the electronics department. At least this part I know to be accurate, I have the laceration on my inner thigh from landing on a digital camera's open viewfinder and a reverse "Philips" stamped on my forehead from when the display model plasma TV fell on my face.
Bain Sweetens Offer for NHL

Bain and Co. has upped their offer for the NHL to more than $4 billion (hat tip Off Wing Opinion).

Ask yourself - what is the NHL? At its core it is an umbrella business and brand name under which 30 franchises operate. In essence the NHL is no different as a business than a Burger King or Dominoes Pizza. Bain is expert at maximizing profits at such operations (Bain owns substantial stock in both Dominoes and Burger King).

Publicly Bain is saying it is an bid for the entire NHL (thus the $4 billion plus figure being bandied about) but I wouldn't be surprised if this is cover for Bain's true mode of attack. Bain is probably approaching individual owners and working from a list that has some who would definitely sell for the right price, some who might sell at the right price and those who are not selling no matter what. The less you hear about this bid in the press - the more that is probably going on behind the scenes.

The way I see it - Bain wants to gain voting and operational control over the NHL by purchasing 15 or more franchises. This will allow them to streamline the business operations of the NHL and maximize profits. I don't think they need to buy all 30 franchises - in both the Dominoes world and the Burger King world there are both corporate owned and privately owned franchises. The privately held franchises (I see teams like the Red Wings and Toronto in this group) would have to follow agreed upon operating procedures and branding guidelines just like an owner of a local Burger King.

Here's my overview of how the deal could come together:

1. Bain purchases 15 or more franchises to gain voting control over the NHL.

2. Bain then sets up a new corporation that dictates the operating and marketing guidelines for the independent franchises (in the best case Bain would own 100% of the franchises but I don't see that happening). The guidelines include a payroll floor but not a ceiling - this should be sufficient for the NHLPA. Owners of independent franchises would receive stock in the new NHL corporation so that they would share in the wealth of the new way of operating.

3. Teams would be able to keep home gate receipts, monies from home concessions and broadcast rights to home games. The broadcast rights for road games would be owned by the NHL and would be used to form a new Hockey Channel (similar to what both MLB and the NFL have done). In addition - the NHL sells the rights to broadcast one game a week to the CBC in Canada and ESPN in the US. These contracts would include X number of playoff games plus the Stanley Cup. The new NHL could even partner with ESPN where ESPN would provide the air time - the NHL the product and they would split the ad revenue. The Hockey Channel with the regular season road games could be a bonanza for the new NHL.

4. Cities would be put on notice that franchises that are not supported at the gate are in danger of being relocated or eliminated. Just as Burger King doesn't operate franchises just so the locals can enjoy a Whopper - so too the NHL feels no responsibility to operate a franchise at a loss just so a city can have pro hockey. The folks from Bain would make this a true business - not just a hobby for some rich owners.

5. Merchandising would be split three ways - with a portion going to the team of the item being sold (say a Bruins jersey is sold - so a percentage of the sale goes to the Bruins), a portion going to the NHLPA if a player's name or likeness is used (say if the Bruins jersey said "Thorton" on the back) and the remainder going to the new NHL corporation. This arrangement would keep everyone happy.

I have said from the start that Bain is serious in this bid
. You have not heard the last of the takeover bid by Bain for the NHL.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Separated at Birth?

Arizona Cardinals QB Josh McCown and "boxer" Tonya Harding

Sorry Eric - he picked the wrong boxer
Heh Heh

Sheriff's Car = Truth in Advertising
Heh Heh

Overheard in New York

Hat Tip A Stream of Semi-Consciousness

This is too funny. Both the site itself and the people who post on it are hilarious. This is how the site descibes Tonya:
For good or bad, Tonya Harding has been the most influential person in Figure Skating history, and in all sports history, second only to Mohammad Ali.
You have to read the Fantasy Message Board though (warning NSFW)- funny, funny stuff. It's like the rejected letters to Penthouse with Tonya Harding as the focal point. Here's one of the tamer ones:
Her name stalked along the wind like a man waiting with a blackjack meant to entangle in a sweet embrace with an innocent figure–skater’s kneecap. "Tonya." I could feel it roll off my tongue and into my heart. I met her on a day like any other. I was carousing about town with my usual unwashed flannel overshirt and three day old newspaper. As I turned down a dark alley to urinate in someone’s potted plant‚ I spotted her. Her gait was one of merriment‚ and I spared no time in running up to her to possibly score a date. At this point‚ I’d take anything. As I approached her eyes lit up‚ and I was reminded of a girl I used to know. Actually‚ I saw her in a Sear’s Catalogue. I knew that we had instantly connected in a way few have experienced. She looked into my eyes‚ and I into hers. We both knew what the other wanted: to persue an unsuccessful boxing career and get our asses kicked on opening night. Oh‚ wait. I mean‚ sex. We wanted sex. From eachother. Her hair was drawn up in a beautiful ponytail‚ and I could only be reminded of home in the trailer park. Although my mother always told me beauty was merely skin–deep‚ I could not control my urges. I had to have her‚ then and there. I touched her face. She screamed in anticipation. "SECURITY!" What a beautiful voice she had. Suddenly I was tackled by a large man named Bruno. It was then that I felt the twinge of conciousness working its way into my eyes. I tried to cling to that beautiful dream‚ but it was lost forever.

Oh well‚ she probably has herpes anyway.
Hat Tip to Gorilla Mask
Pitcher Comparison I

Randy Johnson basically took Javier Vazquez's job - so I thought it would be cool to check in from time to time to compare how Johnson is handling the pressure of NYC and how Vazquez is doing now that he is free from it.

Johnson - 4-3 / 3.94 ERA / 64 IP / 55 K / 12 BB
Vazquez - 4-3 / 4.03 ERA / 58 IP / 56 K / 8 BB

Pretty even but remember that in addition to Vazquez - the Diamondbacks also recieved Brad Halsey, Dioner Vavarro and cash (plus they got out from under the last year of Johnson's contract). Halsey is 3-2 with a 3.54 ERA in 8 starts. Navarro was traded to the Dodgers for Shawn Green who has been so-so for Arizona.
Evil Car

Not a commercial I would recommend for cat lovers. I think Stephen King's Christine may have been the inspiration.
Flypaper and Body Counts

The first time I heard the term "flypaper" in relation to Iraq was from David Warren. Looking back - I think Warren was spot on:
....While engaged in the very difficult business of building a democracy in Iraq -- the first democracy should it succeed in the entire history of the Arabs -- President Bush has also quite consciously to my information created a new playground for the enemy away from Israel and even farther away from the United States itself. By the very act of proving this lower ground he drains terrorist resources from other swamps.

This is the meaning of Mr. Bush's "bring 'em on" taunt from the Roosevelt Room on Wednesday when he was quizzed about the "growing threat to U.S. forces" on the ground in Iraq. It should have been obvious that no U.S. President actually relishes having his soldiers take casualties. What the media and U.S. Democrats affect not to grasp is that the soldiers are now replacing targets that otherwise would be provided by defenseless civilians both in Iraq and at large. The sore thumb of the U.S. occupation -- and it is a sore thumb equally to Baathists and Islamists compelling their response -- is not a mistake. It is carefully hung flypaper.
There are some homegrown "insurgents" among the folks the US Military has been fighting in Iraq but for the most part we are fighting foreign born terrorists who are terrorists by trade and who - if they weren't fighting against our highly trained military would be killing civilians elsewhere.

Back in March of 2005 there was an interesting study highlighting this facet of the war:
The Global Research in International Affairs Center in Israel, a highly reputable and reliable think-tank, has published a paper titled "Arab volunteers killed in Iraq: an Analysis," available at e-prism.org. Authored by Dr. Reuven Paz, the paper analyzes the origins of 154 Arab jihadists killed in Iraq in the last six months, whose names have been posted on Islamist websites.

The sample does not account for all jihadists in Iraq, but provides a useful and eye-opening profile of them. Saudi Arabia accounted for 94 jihadists, or 61 percent of the sample, followed by Syria with 16 (10 percent), Iraq itself with only 13 (8 percent), and Kuwait with 11 (7 percent.) The rest included small numbers from Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Algeria, Morocco (of which one was a resident in Spain), Yemen, Tunisia, the Palestinian territories (only 1), Dubai, and Sudan. The Sudanese was living in Saudi Arabia before he went to die in Iraq.
What got me thinking along these lines was a must read letter from Marine Colonel Bob Chase about his experiences in Operation Matador. There are three paragraphs from his letter that I would like to focus on. First:
Matador is now officially over, supposedly, they were going to fight our way back and “destroy” us - guess they missed the turn at the dairy queen. We are back and the final tally was Good Guys - 125+ enemy dead, many more wounded, and 39 detainees of some significant value. The bad guys, who talk a real good game - 9 Killed (6 in the one Amtrak) and 30 wounded (most will return to duty). Not a bad weeks’ work.
That's an almost 14-1 ratio between our dead and their dead. I suspect that this was a particularly low ratio for the Marines. My guess is that throughout the war the ratio of their dead to ours has been about 15-20 terrorists dead for each US service man. The ratio would be higher except we include the dead servicemen who die from roadside bombs and training exercises. I have to guess at the number of enemy dead because keeping a body count is not something we do anymore (I'll come back to why we don't). I'm particularly curious about the countries of origin for their dead. It is not mentioned in the letter but I'd guess that only 10-20% of the enemy combatants were from Iraq (and yet the MSM still call them "insurgents").

I don't think we keep a body count of enemy dead for two reasons:

1. We had a bad experience with the practice in Vietnam. People would inflate the numbers because people like Robert McNamara were looking for statistics to hang their hat on. No body counts are another of the hangover effects from Vietnam.

2. We don't want the radical Islamists to know just how bad they are getting beaten because we want them to continue to empty their personnel resources against our military. Flypaper only works when the fly thinks he's getting some sugar (not a sticky certain death).

The enemy figured out after about 4 hours that we were there in force. They came down with about 100 fighters (no, scratch that - they were TARGETS) and made the poor decision to take on a battalion in open ground. They withdrew - we went after them into a place called Ubaydi. Many mounted boats and tried to escape N, we pushed Air, and the Cobras sunk a bunch of trash barges that night. Meanwhile, we continued to push west across the river. Our far-side units started to see pockets of insurgents move to key areas to emplace mines/IEDs. They came out, snipers took them out; their friends came for the bodies; they, joined them on the deck - permanently.
These foreign fighters (I'm assuming) went from Holy warriors, to "insurgents", to "targets" and then to "the dead". Flypaper.

Finally a paragraph we should all remember when seeing, hearing about or reading about Marines:
We can never replace a fellow Marine or best friend but I can attest that he died doing what we all hope to be doing as Marines, they were advancing, leading, and setting the example - they were being MARINES! It may not matter in the grand scheme of things to anyone but us, but we are singularly proud that we have and know Marines that fought and died like these. We remember and memorialize them and keep them alive every single time we put on this uniform — we are just honored to wear the same eagle, globe, and anchor as these warrior/heroes. We don’t make policy, we don’t decide on the fight, but we do fight and win. And when we win, it is because every one of these Marines fight with us in spirit - and we will not, we cannot let them down. To we Marines, Semper Fidelis is more than a motto - it was to them, and to us who were privileged to fight with them, a way of life.
This paragraph brought to mind the quote from Ronald Reagan:
Some people go through life wondering if they made a difference, but Marines don't have that problem.
Amen to that!

Friday, May 20, 2005

Wicked Cool!

I may be a bit geekish but I found this to be wicked cool (and yes people from Massachusetts really do say "wicked" in real life).
Heaving the Heathen Handhold

I agree - it is an awesome phrase. Too bad its too long to be a Fantasy Sports name.
Star Wars

Just for the heck of it - during my conversations this weekend I intend to stop mid-sentence, pause, stare off into space and then say, "these are not the droids you are looking for" just for my own amusement.
Morning Rant

Here comes the moral relativism. Personally - I'm skeptical that the above is actually Saddam Hussein in his undies but I'm sure someone will complain about how horrible it is for this "man" to be degraded in such a way. Never mind that this "man" murdered and tortured hundreds of thousands of people. You can almost bet the house that some moonbats will be outraged.

If the picture is of Hussein - I wouldn't doubt it if the pictures came from his defense team. They probably are hoping for some outrage. They would like to make Hussein into a sympathetic figure. "First they murdered his sons and now they are photographing this old grandfather in his undies! Have they no shame?" Lawyers! Start joke... yada yada... punchline - shoot the lawyer twice.


The new Star Wars movie is out and I'm in no hurry to see it.

I never caught the original at the theaters and I'm thankful Star Wars mania passed over me. When I was in sixth grade a friend of mine was caught up in Star Wars big time. He saw the movie 11 times. Later in high school the same kid became a burnout. We went to different high schools and I couldn't believe the change in him. He never even bothered seeing The Empire Strikes Back or Return of the Jedi.

Part of me thinks George Lucas may be a bit of a fraud. I mean he took the Joseph Campbell concept of a hero's journey and combined it with blatant elements from Frank Herbert's Dune and bingo! Instant Star Wars.

Joseph Campbell used to spend time at Lucas' ranch and I get the feeling that Lucas used to pick Campbell's brain for plot and mystical subtext. Do you think it is too much of a coincidence that Campbell died in 1987 and that all the movies since then have had a completely different feel to them in terms of character dynamics and their roles in the mythology of Star Wars?

Look at Lucas' career. You have a hot start with American Graffiti (which was probably a bit autobiographical) and then you have the franchises of Star Wars and Indiana Jones. Lucas admits the Campbell influence on Star Wars and you don't have to be a genius to see the link with Indiana Jones. A professor who knows ancient artifacts and legends engages in quests for holy relics? That's Lucas fantasizing about Campbell. Campbell was an expert on the Holy Grail. Still don't believe in coincidences?

Campbell was a very interesting man. He hung with John Steinbeck in the 30's and Lucas in the 70's and members of the Greatful Dead performed at his funeral. Very interesting man. Very interesting life.

Compared to Campbell - Lucas is definitely a fraud.

I probably will end up seeing the new Star Wars movie but it will probably be in bits and pieces and it will probably be on TNT.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Operation Just Cause

It has been over 15 years since the United States took Manuel Noriega out of power in Panama via Operation Just Cause.

15 years. Think about that.

Noriega is still in jail. Nobody seems to be thinking about him, writing about him or complaining about his treatment while in prison. In fact - I think the only things you'll find even close to current about Noriega are reports of how he embraced Christianity while in jail.

Nobody ever talks about Panama - so I guess the operation was a success.

15 years from now do you think Saddam Hussein will be just as forgotten? I doubt it because Saddam was a magnitude more evil than Noriega ever was and I think only 23 soldiers died in Noriega's overthrow. Still - it is interesting to note the lack of interest in the former military dictator.
Answering a Meme

I'm dutifully answering a meme from Paulie at the Commons

Q: Total volume of music files on my computer:

236 songs including the Burger King Kid singing a Christmas tune and Lileks take of Howard Dean's scream. I'm more of a CD and radio guy.

Q: The last CD I bought:

The Best of Johnny Cash - The Millennium Collection. I'm not a C&W guy but I have a soft spot for Johnny. The version of The Long Black Veil that Cash does is the best I've heard.

Q: Song playing now:

None. I have SportsCenter on the TV in the other room.

Q: Five songs I listen to a lot, or that mean a lot to me:

Bruce Hornsby - Every Little Kiss, Emerson Lake and Palmer - Nutrocker (used to be the Bruins theme song and I had the band play it at my wedding), Bruce Springsteen - Thunder Road (I used to sing this to my kids when they were little and I was trying to "rock" them to sleep), Clash - Straight to Hell (my career path), and Van Morrison - Moondance.

I'm looking for 5 bloggers to continue the meme - so if you'd like to volunteer to answer these 4 questions on your blog - please let me know in the commons and I'll link to your responses on this post.


Edit: BST has taken up the challenge
What Attitude Problem? is not to be out done
Kal Jone's took up the challenge - I too have the School House Rocks cd and I heartly endorse The Tale of Mr. Morton version by Skee-Lo
Eric at Offwing Opinion also answered the bell - who knew he was a former DJ? Speechwriter, Chippendale dancer and a DJ? That's versatility!
Lyford makes it five!

Thanks to everyone who helped. This was more fun than I expected. If you also answered the four questions - let one of the above know so they can fill up their five slots. Again - thanks! The responses were much appreciated.
Morning Rant

This morning I would like to address two things that trouble my mind - spam and David Wells' start yesterday against the A's.

First spam.

Have you been getting spam in German lately? I've been getting a ton. Now it seems like I starting to get a ton of spam in Russian as well. The spam is easily spotted - its the emails in languages that I can't read.

I have no idea what the spam is about. It could be about opportunities to partner with Nigerian bankers or penis enlargement. I don't know what the spam is saying because I don't read German (or Russian). You would think that Google's spam filter would be sophisticated enough to see something in a foreign language and mark it as spam but I guess not. I haven't been getting any of this spam in my Hotmail account - so I guess either that address isn't on the same list or that MSN does a better job filtering spam than Google GMail does.

Its not exactly true that I have zero idea what all the German spam is about. There were a couple that were somehow about the bombing of Dresden in WWII and there is one intriguing email with the title in English proclaiming "The Whore Lived Like a German". I've saved this last email because I have to admit I'm curious. Who was the whore and what does it mean to "live like a German"?

David Wells - yuk!

He was awful yesterday. He gave up 7 runs in 1 1/3 innings. Wells is coming back from a foot injury and was asked to make a minor league start before taking the mound in a big league game. He declined even though Wade Miller and Curt Schilling had made similar minor league starts this year as they attempted to come back from injuries.

I watched the Baseball Tonight crew talk about Wells last night and while they all agreed that he was awful and that he should have made the minor league start - they missed the main point.

Wells starting in the minors and working off whatever kinks or rust may exist would have been best for the team but Wells' contract pays him incentives based upon the number of starts he makes this year for the Red Sox in the big leagues. This would seem to be a clear case of a player choosing what is best for himself over what is best for the team but I'm not sure if it so black and white.

The Red Sox gave Wells the incentive laden contract - so should they be taken aback when he balks at their request to go to the minors that would cause him to miss one of his starts? I think this is a learning experience for Theo Epstein and the Sox front office and that they will probably structure future incentives based on starts differently from now on.

Whether Wells was right or wrong to refuse the minor league start is a bit of a gray area to me. It is easy to stand on the sidelines and say that Wells should have forgone the probable $100,000 bonus that yesterday's start will probably bring him in incentives. However, how would you feel if your company asked you to take an unpaid leave and you had outside pressure to accept the loss of compensation? What is clear is that Wells let down his teammates and the Red Sox fans yesterday with his performance because he wasn't ready to take a big league mound and that is something that won't soon be forgotten.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

What's Wrong with Manny Ramirez?


Lyford does an excellent job of documenting Manny's numbers so far this season and how they really don't deviate much from his career numbers.

Lyfords analysis made me think of these lines from Crash Davis in Bull Durham:
CRASH (drunken, mad)
You know what the difference is between hitting .250 and hitting .300? I got it figured out. (beat) Twenty-five hits a year in 500 at bats is 50 points. Okay? There's 6 months in a season, that's about 25 weeks--you get one extra flare a week--just one--a gork, a ground ball with eyes, a dying quail-- just one more dying quail a week and you're in Yankee Stadium!
Or in this case Fenway Park.
Separated at Birth?

Arianna Huffington and the Mummy.
Jose Lima

Jose Lima failed to get his first win of the season again last night. So far this year he's 0-3 with a 7.77 ERA. (I 'm really not that interested in Lima's numbers - I just wanted an excuse to post a picture of his wife)
Red Sox / A's - Games 38 & 39

The Sox lost 6-4 on Monday and won 7-5 last night.

On Monday Kevin Youkilis got his first start at 1st base and went 1-3 with a walk. While watching the game I imagined Billy Beane somewhere in the stadium salivating over the Greek God of Walks.

The story of the game for the Red Sox was 13 men left on base. This has been a bane this season but the flip side is the fact that to leave men on - batters first have to get on base. The Sox are second in the AL in runs with 217 (the Yankees lead with 229) but they lead the league with a .363 OBP - bottom line - I really can't complain about the men left on base.

Last night the A's flat out gave the game away in the 8th inning. The Red Sox went into the inning trailing 5-3 but a HBP, 2 walks, an error and then a single with a two base error attached - it was suddenly 7-5 Red Sox and that was the game.

Let me take this opportunity to say something about Mark Bellhorn.

Jose Offerman had his career high-water mark at age 29 when he posted the following line for Kansas City:

Offerman - 102 R / 7 HR / 66 RBI / .315 BA / .403 OBP / .438 SLG

Last year may have been the high-water mark for Mark Bellhorn (also age 29):

Bellhorn - 93 R / 17 HR / 82 RBI / .264 BA / .373 OBP / .444 SLG

It was pretty much down hill from there for Offerman and it also looks like its downhill time for Bellhorn. It should be noted that Offerman posted a .391 OBP in his first year with Boston (opposed to Belhorn's .373 OBP last year). Offerman then regressed to .354, .342 and finally a .325 OBP mark before being shipped out of Boston to Seattle. So far this year - this is Bellhorn's line:

Bellhorn - 18 R / 1 HR / 11 RBI / .230 BA / .346 OBP / .372 SLG

For all the crap Offerman took in Boston - he actually put up better numbers than Sabermetric favorite Bellhorn has. I would also like to note that Bellhorn has hit .172 with RISP this year and that brings me full circle back to the men left on base problem discussed earlier.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Jackie Gleason - The Great One

Long before Gretzky was tabbed as "the great one" - Jackie Gleason had lived up to that nickname and more. I never realized how much booze played a role in his life though.

Excellent essay on Gleason and booze - here's a small snippet:
With some time off before his first season as CBS’s golden boy, Jackie camped out at Toots Shor’s with Sinatra and his celebrity pals. One evening Frank showed up during Jackie’s morning eye-opener with four tickets to the sold-out final playoff game between the NY Giants and the Brooklyn Dodgers. J. Edgar Hoover, the head of the FBI, was having a tête-à-tête with Toots and Frank invited the trio to accompany him to the game. Everyone agreed except Jackie, who wanted to stay at the bar and drink. They finally talked him into it by renting a fully stocked limo. s Sinatra recalls:

“We pile into that limousine, already feeling no pain, especially Gleason. Jackie guzzled booze all the way to the Polo Grounds and ate most of the food. When we get there Jackie switches to hot dogs and beer. Comes the last half of the ninth and the fans are going wild. The Giants are behind 4-2 and Bobby Thompson comes to bat.

“Right at the exact moment, with the crowd screaming, Gleason throws up right on me. Here is one of the all-time classic games that people will talk about and I am right in the stadium and I don’t see Bobby Thompson hit that home run. Only Gleason, a Brooklyn fan, would get sick at a time like that. But that’s not the punch line.

“On the drive back to Toots, Gleason keeps muttering to the chauffeur to pull over to the side of the road saying, “Let’s throw this bum Sinatra out of here. He’s smelling up the limo.”
Can you picture anyone else being able to treat Sinatra like that?
Morning Rant

OK - here's what's on my mind today.

Mexican President Vincente Fox's recent comment that illegal Mexican immigrants do the jobs in this country that even blacks wouldn't do was offensive to some but not to me. Why should I take offense? I think the comment is surely something that will wind up on a list of "don'ts" at a school for diplomats but if anyone should be offended it should be the Mexicans. Their President just put them on the lowest rung of the economic ladder.

The thing is - there is more than just a grain of truth to the statement. I don't have enough facts on NAFTA to know if it has been a success but I do know that the stereotypes of Mexican farm labor and lawn maintenance workers certainly have their basis in fact. Hopefully Mexican labor can take the same track to success that Irish labor has taken.

Irish laborers used to come to this country to make money to send back to the "old country". Ireland was viewed as a quaint, backward land to the rest of Europe but helped in large part by the seed money sent back from workers in the US - today Ireland is one of the world's most successful economies.

Ireland had the advantage of being a country of hard workers positioned on the doorstep of the large European market. Mexico has the advantage of being a country of hard workers positioned on the doorstep of the large American market.

Fox's comment brought to mind something that Colin Powell wrote in his 1995 biography My American Journey. In the book, Powell explained his lack of rhythm and his inability to play hoops by saying, "Jamaican miscegenation, however, had blocked passage of both the basketball and dance genes in me." I laughed at the comment when I read it. Powell just said that white men can't jump but in a non-offensive manner and with a statement that probably rang true to both Colin and all his friends and family.

There is a thin line between what is acceptable and unacceptable in terms of race comments.

For instance, if a white guy said that blacks can't swim then that would be viewed as a racist comment (even if it leaves you wondering if a black swimmer had ever won an Olympic gold medal). If Dusty Baker says that blacks are better equipped to handle hot weather - then society at large lets the comment slide.

Context, who says the comment and who the comment is aimed at all play a role in whether a comment should be taken as offensive or as just something to think about. Bill Cosby's recent comments would certainly be viewed as racist if they came from a white person.

I had no problem with Fox's comments because they were aimed at Mexicans and said by a Mexican.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Heh Heh

Streaker nailed by linebacker.

H/T Cosmic Tribune
Separated at Birth?

Eric Byrnes of the A's and actor Jeff Daniels.

Loke should be a word. When you really like someone but are not ready to commit to the "love" word - then you loke them (like and love combined to make "loke").

For all I know this may already be a snigglet.
Red Sox / Seattle - Games 36 & 37

The Sox won 6-3 on Saturday and lost 5-4 last night. Both games featured a revamped batting order for the Sox.

Terry Francona switched David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez in the 3 and 4 spots. He put Edgar Renteria (and his .299 OBP) batting second and he put Trot Nixon fifth which moved the ineffective Kevin Millar to sixth and the very effective Jason Varitek to seventh.

I like the moves with the exception of Renteria batting second. I'm not sold that Renteria is comfortable enough in the new league to handle it. I would have preferred to see Bill Mueller and his .369 OBP batting second. I'm not complaining though.

Some notes from the two games:

- Trot Nixon hit his 8th career grand slam on Saturday. In his career - Nixon has come to bat with the bases loaded 89 times and 8 times has hit a HR. That's pretty darn good. Of course he still has only hit .270 in those situations (24 for 89).

- Johnny Damon had his 18 game hitting streak snapped with an 0-5 on Saturday.

- Manny Ramirez hit HR is both games and how has 400 for his career. The 400 put him 39th on the all-time list. Next up Duke Snider at 38 with 407.

- Manny is tied for 5th in the AL in HR with 10 and tied for second in the AL in RBI with 34. Yet that isn't good enough for Peter Gammons. What did Manny do to you Peter? Did he back into your BMW in the players parking lot?

- Kevin Youkilis leads the AL (unofficially) in pitches seen per plate appearance with 4.72. That's patience you can't teach. Youkilis is using that patience to his advantage too with a .391 BA / .517 OBP while hitting .429 with RISP. The Red Sox need to get him more at bats.

- Manny has 400 HR but just 164 have come in a Red Sox uniform. Manny trails Nomar by 14 on the Red Sox all-time list. Nomar is in 9th place. It is very probable that Manny will hit another 120 HR in a Red Sox uniform. That would get him past Mo Vaughn who sits at #5 all-time for the Sox with 230. The top 4 will be tough to crack though. Dwight Evans has 379, Jim Rice has 382, Yaz has 452 and Ted Williams leads them all with 521.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Separated at Birth?

Pedro Martinez and Chia Head

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Red Sox / Seattle - Game 35

Last night the Sox got stomped and I got no sleep.

A West Coast game with a 10:00 start is always a danger to East Coast sleeping patterns and last night I paid a price.

I watched some of the pre-game and was reclining on the couch to watch the first inning when my eyes started to get heavy. I was intending to move upstairsto annoy my wife by leaving the TV on in the bedroom with the sleep timer set for 2 hours but the best laid plans.... I fell asleep on the couch in the bottom of the first and did not awake until after 2:00.

Finally, I made it up to bed with no idea of how the Red Sox did. When I at last got into bed - I could not fall back asleep. For three hours I laid in bed, trying to drift off to sleepy land. For three hours I waged an unsuccessful battle. At 5:30 I gave up and headed back downstairs to watch NESN's Sports Desk and ESPN's Sports Center.

I cycled through the 15 minute Sports Desk and made it through about another 15 minutes of Sport Center before I fell asleep. I probably got about 45 minutes of additional shut-eye before the kids came downstairs.

Right now I feel great. Not sleepy at all - but I know about 5:00 that I'll be in need of a power nap.

As far as the game is concerned - these things happen. Even the best teams get pounded every once and a while. Most teams (even the worst) play about .500 at home. That's baseball.

The one thing that does set off a red flag for me was the 13 runners stranded on base. The Sox got 13 hits and the Mariners got 14 and yet the Mariners outscored the Sox by 7. Kevin Millar left 6 runners on base all by himself.

Before the game Terry Francona was interviewed and he said he's not about to panic and juggle the line-up just because some players are in an early season slump. He specifically mentioned Manny but I think Millar is the one that is really causing Francona heartburn. I'm on record of wanting Kevin Youkilis to get some of Millar's at bats or at the very least have Jason Varitek replace Millar in the five hole. It sounds like Francona is going to try and leave things as is though.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Chris' Life Tips

When I find myself at crossroads in my life - I ask myself "what would Christopher Walken do?" And the path is made clear.

When I feel a little down or depressed - I picture Peter King dancing to Delite's Groove is in the Heart. And I am made happy.
Defending Manny

Peter Gammons tooks some unnecessary swipes at Manny Ramirez on sports talk radio station WEEI according to this report from the Boston Globe owned and operated web site Boston Dirt Dogs. I have all the respect in the world for Peter Gammons but this is crap:
One thing I find interesting, that... and I think he gets, after his early days in Boston, he gets a wonderful ride, but the complete disappearance of Manny Ramirez as a real player. Yeah he hit a home run on the breaking ball yesterday, but he's a .260 hitter with a .880 OPS since the All-Star break last year. Doesn't there come a point where that becomes a little bit of a concern, he gets hit on the leg and doesn't play two games. I don't know. I find him as distracted as any time I can ever remember him... He just doesn't seem to be into the games at all. There was a time when he was a dominant offensive force at the end of games
Peter what are you basing these statements about Manny's supposed "disappearance" and his being "distracted" upon? The Red Sox have played 34 games this year and Manny has played in 33 - so I don't know what you mean by "gets hit on the leg and doesn't play two games". As far as being a dominant force at the end of a game or when the games on the line - Manny would definately be in my top 5 for players I want up with runners in scoring position and the game on the line. Last year with RISP - Manny hit .340 with a 1.098 OPS. With RISP and 2 outs - Manny hit a blistering .361 with a 1.138 OPS. That's a money player! For his career Manny has hit .329 with a 1.059 OPS with RISP and with the bases loaded - Manny IS the most feared batter in baseball today (see - grand slams, 18)!
I just wonder, this is a long time, same OPS since the All-Star game as Mark Loretta. Is that what you want for $20 million in a left fielder who's a defensive and baserunning liability?...Then they had him traded to the Mets this winter too... There are lot of things, just the way he walks and so forth, they wanted him to hit fourth and not third and he wouldn't do that. I don't know... I'm amazed a little bit that he gets the pass that he gets... maybe it's resignation. I had a fan come up to me at the ballpark and say "how in the world could you not pick Manny as one of the 5 best players in baseball? And I went "umm what?!? Kidding me?" I mean there were other priorities, the qualifications for the other selections were defense, baserunning, accountability, leadership. But I was just amazed, the guy was really angry about it. ...Their best player is their catcher
The "is that what you want for $20 million in a left fielder who's a defensive and baserunning liability?" argument is the same one people tried to make against Jim Rice was he was playing for the Sox. Plus - Peter are you using salary as a benchmark for how you judge a player because if that's the case then the Red Sox best player is Bronson Arroyo and his sub million salary.

Gammons explains how he came to his conclusions about Manny with "there are lot of things, just the way he walks and so forth..." Just the way he walks? Are you freaking kidding me? Gammons was a guy who couldn't tell Bonds was juicing even though Bonds head was exploding but now he can read Manny's mood by the way he walks? Are you freaking kidding me?

Maybe Manny is walking a little differently, a little more gingerly perhaps but that is because he has a bad quad and he keeps getting hit by pitches in the leg. No can't be that - it must be his attitude - right Peter?

I've probably seen as many innings of Red Sox baseball this year as Peter Gammons. I've only been to one game at Fenway but from the sound of it - I've had as many conversations with Manny Ramirez as Peter Gammons (my guess based on this interview - zero). I too have noticed some little things such as how when Kevin Youkilis is in the dugout - he usually sits next to Manny and they are normally either talking hitting (one of the two usually mimics swinging a bat) or laughing. Manny also took Shea Hillenbrand under his wing when Shea was a young player with the Sox. These are the little things I notice when I watch Manny. Peter you are in a position to speak with either Kevin Youkilis or Shea Hillenbrand - why don't you call them for some first hand information about Manny?

As far top 5 players in the game - I would have Pujols, Guerrero, A-Rod, Tejada and then either Manny or Ichiro or maybe even a healthy Lance Berkman or Jim Thome or Todd Helton (I'm not 100% sold on either Beltran or Rolen at this point). The argument that Manny is 5th in a top 5 is not far-fetched.
Well he (Tek) [Jason Varitek] understands and accepts responsibility. He's a very intelligent man. And accountability is to me something that's very important in baseball. And I think David Ortiz is an extremely accountable person. He got his contract although he is obviously one of the most underpaid guys in terms of his contract. Doesn't seem to be a problem. Goes out, doesn't brag about it, he's a leader in his own way. He is their, not Manny Ramirez, excuse me Michael you're wrong, David Ortiz is their best offensive player. NO question about it. No comparison. He is a dominant force in the lineup.
Four quick points on this quote:

1. Quiet leadership - I have read dozens of accounts about how nobody puts in more time in the batting cages than Manny Ramirez (some of these accounts were even from Gammons I believe) and I spoke above about how Manny takes young players under his wing (he bought Hillenbrand a new wardrobe when Shea came up to the majors - for an example).

2. Bringing in Ortiz being underpaid again raises the question about whether Gammons is using salary or skill as his benchmark. If both are used then right now Clint Barmes is the best MLB player on the planet. He can't have it both ways.

3. Ortiz "doesn't brag about it"? Can you give me one example where Manny brags? Just one Peter - that's all I ask. What? No? That's what I thought.

4. Here are Ortiz's numbers compared to Manny for the year:

Ortiz - .282 BA / 9 HR / 23 RBI / .349 OBP / .588 SLG
Manny - .241 BA / 8 HR / 29 RBI / .374 OBP / .527 SLG

Manny is off to a slow this year and is hitting 73 points below his career average and yet still has comparable numbers to Ortiz. You can argue which player is the better offensive force but you cannot say the Ortiz is CLEARLY the better offensive player. Gammons says "no comparison" and I think he couldn't be more wrong.
H's (Ortiz) been better for two years Michael, watch the games. Watch what happens when good pitchers are on the mound. Watch against guys who throw hard, who throw inside. And watch what happens. I'm not talking about garbage time numbers, I'm talking about numbers that mean something.
Umm... Manny won the World Series MVP last year. You could argue that Ortiz was the playoff MVP (and he was) but Gammons completely overlooks this. I mean it was the baseball writers who picked Manny as Series MVP - so I guess they had an argument to make.

In answer to a question on who is the best right handed hitter in baseball:
Oh, have you ever heard of Albert Pujols? Don't, don't make a fool of... please that's foolish to say that, that's... it's not worth a discussion. There are only two players in a comparable period of time in History who have the numbers that Puljols does and that's Williams and DiMaggio in their first 4-1/4 seasons. He's the dominant right-handed hitter in baseball.
I agree that Pujols is the best right-handed hitter in baseball but I don't like the way Manny is dismissed out of hand. Pujols may compare favorably to Williams and DiMaggio in their first four full seasons but Manny has a career OPS+ of 156 compared to DiMaggio's 155 (I don't use Ted Williams as a bench mark because there is only one Ted Williams). Let's see how Pujols compares after 12 seasons.

The cheap shots on Manny from Gammons were unwarranted and not what you would expect from the man many consider the best baseball writer in the business. In fact you could write that "Peter Gammons has disappeared as a real baseball writer" and describe his performance as "distracted" and you would have a much better argument with that then arguing the same about Manny Ramirez as a baseball player.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Dennis Miller

So the The Dennis Miller Show on CNBC has been canceled and his last show will be on Friday.

This comes as no surprise to me. I'm Dennis' target audience and I wasn't watching the show. I consider myself young, informed and 9/11 changed my view of politics. I'm the target audience. When the show first started - I used to watch it as often as possible but now I can't recall the last time I tuned in.

That doesn't mean I thought it was a bad show. I actually liked it. It's just that my clicker doesn't go by CNBC too often and I usually get my information via the web. Sorry Dennis.

I guess the show was only attracting about 114,000 viewers per night. That's not good.

I hope Dennis isn't too down about this turn of events. I'm sure he'll bounce back and in fact I have some suggestions on some situations that would be perfect for Dennis Miller.

1. Everyone knows that Comedy Central's The Daily Show has an obvious liberal bent. With Dave Chappelle now questionable - Comedy Central could use another 1/2 hour show. Why not boil the current version of The Dennis Miller Show down to a 1/2 hour? Take out some of the more serious stuff and make it a humorous conservative counterbalance to The Daily Show.

2. ABC is looking to replace Nightline. Why not have a show dedicated to examining the Blogosphere and bias in the MSM? You could call it Webline. Have Dennis Miller be the host and tab some unknown (think a young Mort Sahl) as the liberal counterbalance. They could sit there and make humorous observations and snide remarks from both sides of the political fence. Think of it as sort of a video version of James Taranto's Best of the Web.

3. Finally - Miller could take his act online. He could have a website to replace The Dennis Miller Show that would certainly get better than the 114,000 views his TV show was getting. I even have a suggested format for the online version of The Dennis Miller Show.

Monday - Dennis' Monday Rant (Dennis' take on today's headlines) plus an interview of someone interesting or in the news. The interview would take 20 minutes to tape and an hour to transcribe. Not much heavy lifting.

Tuesday - Dennis' Tuesday Rant and a video of one of two weekly Varsity Panels. The panel would be taped live and streamed via his site.

Wednesday - Dennis' Wednesday Rant and an essay by Dennis on whatever subject he picks for the week.

Thursday - Dennis' Thursday Rant and the second Varsity Panel for the week.

Friday - Dennis' Friday Rant and two special Friday features. The special features would be a guest essay and a quest short film or cartoon. Each week Dennis could have bloggers send them an essay and he would pick one to publish. This would give bloggers the exposure we all honestly crave and him some free content. What a country! Plus by selecting the essay - Dennis insures quality control. The film would be something like a Strong Bad or Jib Jab type deal.

With this sort of set up - Dennis Miller could have Glenn Reynolds type web traffic. The blog ads and sponsorships would provide a tidy income and the site would serve to keep Miller's name in the mix. Guests would want to participate on his varsity panels because he could advertise their books on his site (plus get a commission on any books sold via his site). Bloggers would want to send in their essays or films just for the exposure.

This could work!
Heh Heh

Shortstop Comparison

I was thinking about this very thing yesterday but Richard beat me to it.
Red Sox / A's - Game 34

Red Sox win 6-5 on a second walk-off HR in as many days. It would be easy to dwell on Jason Varitek's HR or complain about Keith Foulke's blown save but I have other things to complain and wonder about.

Yesterday Matt Clement had a really solid start. He went 7 innings and only gave up 1 run but did not get the win. It is easy to say that Clement did not get the win because of Foulke's blown save and that is true but I also think it is true that Clement did not get the win because the Sox stranded 11 runners on base yesterday. If the Sox managed more than 4 runs going into the 9th - then the dynamics of the game are completely different.

The Sox are 21-13 and I really shouldn't complain but I think that Terry Francona should make some changes to the line-up.

Let's be honest - the following players have been struggling at the plate:

- Kevin Millar .250 BA / .370 OBP / .740 SLG - I know Millar's OBP is very good but he's not a table setter and when you run as badly as Millar does sometimes a walk is not as good as a hit - it is as good as a double play waiting to happen. Only 2 HR from a power position just doesn't do it for me.

- Mark Bellhorn - .226 BA / .333 OBP / .667 SLG and of course leading the AL in strikeouts.

- Edgar Renteria - .239 BA / .299 OBP / .342 SLG - all these numbers are about 50 points below his career averages.

- Bill Mueller - .250 BA / .358 OBP / .315 SLG - I'm concerned a bit about Mueller's slugging. He's never been a power hitter (and I know third is supposed to be a power position just like first) but Mueller brings such a professional attitude to the team that you overlook that.

Changes to the line-up I would like to see made:

- Drop Millar from the 5 spot and put Varitek in his place. Varitek is hot and offers much more protection to David Ortiz than Millar does.

- Get Kevin Youkilis more AB. I'd welcome a platoon with Millar but that's not going to happen. Francona could get Youkilis more AB by resting Millar once and a while, putting Millar in right field against a lefty every now and again and by resting Bellhorn against righties every once and a while (with Mueller playing second and Youkilis third). Youkilis is too good a hitter to keep out of the line-up. I'd take him over Millar every day of the week.

- Keep Renteria at the bottom third of the line-up. Hitting in the top of the line-up isn't agreeing with him right now. The bottom third would take some pressure off and allow him to see more pitches from the pitcher before coming to the plate. Renteria is still adjusting - give him some space by putting him in the bottom third.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Christopher Walken Tribute For the Day
Captain Koons (from Pulp Fiction): Hello, little man. Boy, I sure heard a bunch about you. See, I was a good friend of your dad's. We were in that Hanoi pit of hell together over five years. Hopefully...you'll never have to experience this yourself, but when two men are in a situation like me and your Dad were, for as long as we were, you take on certain responsibilities of the other. If it had been me who had not made it, Major Coolidge would be talkin' right now to my son Jim. But the way it turned out is I'm talkin' to you, Butch. I got somethin' for you.

(The Captain sits down and pulls a gold wrist watch from his pocket)

This watch I got here was first purchased by your great-grandfather during the first World War. It was bought in a little general store in Knoxville, Tennessee. Made by the first company to ever make wrist watches. Up till then people just carried pocket watches. It was bought by private Doughboy Erine Coolidge on the day he set sail for Paris. It was your great-grandfather's war watch and he wore it everyday he was in that war. When he had done his duty, he went home to your great-grandmother, took the watch off, put it an old coffee can, and in that can it stayed 'til your granddad Dane Coolidge was called upon by his country to go overseas and fight the Germans once again. This time they called it World War II. Your great-grandfather gave this watch to your granddad for good luck.

Unfortunately, Dane's luck wasn't as good as his old man's. Dane was a Marine and he was killed -- along with the other Marines at the battle of Wake Island. Your granddad was facing death, he knew it. None of those boys had any illusions about ever leavin' that island alive. So three days before the Japanese took the island, your granddad asked a gunner on an Air Force transport name of Winocki, a man he had never met before in his life, to deliver to his infant son, who he'd never seen in the flesh, his gold watch. Three days later, your granddad was dead. But Winocki kept his word. After the war was over, he paid a visit to your grandmother, delivering to your infant father, his Dad's gold watch. This watch. (holds it up, long pause) This watch was on your Daddy's wrist when he was shot down over Hanoi. He was captured, put in a Vietnamese prison camp. He knew if the gooks ever saw the watch it'd be confiscated, taken away. The way your Dad looked at it, that watch was your birthright. He'd be damned if any slopes were gonna put their greasy yella hands on his boy's birthright. So he hid it in the one place he knew he could hide something. His ass. Five long years, he wore this watch up his ass. Then he died of dysentery, he gave me the watch. I hid this uncomfortable hunk of metal up my ass two years. Then, after seven years, I was sent home to my family. And now, little man, I give the watch to you.
(I posted this for no reason whatsoever.)
Just Sayin'

The Yankees want Jason Giambi to go to the minor leagues because his production has been horrible and they would like for him to have a chance to work his problems out (plus they save $37k in luxury tax for each day he's not on the 40-man roster).

Yes I'm cherry picking stats but compare these:

Giambi - 3 HR / .386 OBP / .711 OPS
Player X - 2 HR / .367 OBP / .726 OPS

Pretty close - wouldn't you say?

Player X is Kevin Millar and of course he's in a better position to rebound than Giambi but I just wanted to give some context to how bad Millar has been in the first 31 games of the season.