Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Katrina, New Orleans and the D-Day Museum

I'm going to be traveling most of the day. If you haven't already - go over to Instapundit. He's got a list of links for organization where you can donate to help out the people in need due to the damage caused by Katrina.

I have no doubt that the American people will pour forth generosity from their hearts to help those in need. I must admit to something though. When I think of New Orleans - I don't think of Bourbon Street or Mardi Gras. I think of the D-Day Museum. A museum that was perhaps the final labor of love by my favorite historian, Stephen Ambrose.

Some of what is contained at the museum includes irreplaceable parts of our history. I haven't heard anything about the museum in the news and the link to the museum has not been working. I can only hope that the proper precautions were made. I am sure that the museum suffered damage and could also use some donations. Just keep that in mind if you could.

National D-Day Museum - 945 Magazine Street, New Orleans - LINK

A Tale of two Thomas McMahon's

Yesterday, for reasons I'll explain later, I was Googling for information on one Thomas McMahon. I ended up learning about two different Thomas McMahon's - two very different Thomas McMahons. One is famous for taking life and the other for saving lives.

Originally, I was looking for information on Thomas McMahon because Saturday was the 26th anniversary of the IRA bomb that killed Lord Mountbatten while he was on his boat on the West Coast of Ireland. The Thomas McMahon I was looking for information on was the only IRA member convicted in connection to the bombing.

I had read that McMahon was sentenced to life for his role in the death of Mountbatten and the thee others who also perished in the bombing. However, McMahon was paroled and released as part of the 1998 Good Friday Accords. I was curious to see what happened to him since his release. He had renounced the IRA upon his release and said he just wanted to be a carpenter.

I was frankly curious if McMahon had kept to the straight and narrow since his release.

When I Googled Thomas McMahon I wasn't able to find any information about his life post-prison (probably due to him being in some sort of government protection program - just a guess). I did come across another Thomas McMahon though.

This second McMahon was born about the same time but born in the US not Ireland and instead of the paramilitary - this McMahon went into the US Army. The second McMahon did not take life. He gave his own so that others would live. For his sacrifice he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

I couldn't help but wonder if the first McMahon was born in the US whether he would have been more like the second McMahon.
Poker Tidbit

Played in a on-line tournament last night. I was playing solid but got knocked out before making it into the money.

I got knocked out on a hand where I was dealt 4-4. The flop came A-7-4 rainbow. I was in late position and the two remaining players checked to me. I bet 1/3 the pot (I wanted them to think I was stealing). I got one fold and one call. The next card was a 10. I didn't think that could help my opponent. He bet half the pot and I raised over the top by going all-in. He called (with more chips) and showed pocket 7's. His trips held up to beat my trips and I was out.

I was a bit down as you might expect. As I looked around my home office/den I spied my Bible. I picked it up and opened it to a random page seeking wisdom or solace. The page I opened to was Psalm 142 and the first words I read were:
Attend unto my cry; for I am brought very low; deliver me from my persecutors; for they are stonger than I.
How perfect was that?
MLB Suspensions

David Wells got a 6-game suspension for arguing with and supposedly bumping an umpire. I remember watching the game in question and feeling outraged at the umpires because it seemed they provoked the whole thing. Of course nobody holds the umpires responsible for anything it seems.

I feel for David Wells (yes I just said that) because the MLB suspension policy or lack thereof is out of whack.

Wells gets 6-games for arguing and bumping an umpire with his hat (ooh that must have smarted - did blue need a kiss to make that better?).

A player cheating by using steroids gets just 10-games if he is caught (and that's a big if because the testing policy ain't exactly the best). Yes that's for the first offense but how long was the player cheating before gettin caught?

Kenny Rodgers got just 13-games for assulting a camera man. True this was reduced from an origial 20-game suspension. I hope the camera man sues the ass off Rodgers.

Sammy Sosa was suspended for just 7-games for using corked bats (i.e. cheating his ass off). This was reduced from 8-games via the appeals process - an appeals process that failed to reduce Wells' 6-game suspension for arguing.

Kyle Farnsworth (then of the Tigers) got a 5-game suspension for seeking out then body slamming Jeremy Affeldt of the Royals during a bench clearing brawl.

So to sum up: 5-games for intentionally attempting to do bodily harm to another player - 6 games for arguing with an umpire; 7-games for cheating with corked bats - 6-games for argung with an umpire; 10-games for getting caught cheating with steroids - 6-games for arguing with an umpire; and 13-games for assualting a cameraman - 6-games for arguing with an umpire. As Kyle from South park would say - "Dude, that's pretty fucked up right there." Indeed Kyle. Indeed!

Monday, August 29, 2005

Whither Belhorn Answered - He'll Be Wearing Pinstripes

I gave consideration to this possibility but I thought Cano was doing so well and Torre didn't want to hurt Womack's feelings. Oh well - Bellhorn becomes an imbedded Yankee.

For his career Bellhorn has a .590 OPS in 16 regular season games at Yankee Stadium. Somehow I don't see this tipping the balance of power (although I am curious to see Bellhorn with a haircut).

Thanks for 2004 Mark.
Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

The theme music to The Last of the Mohigans may be the best movie theme music ever written. A roll call of better movie theme music would take a short time to call. Indeed!... Congrats to Aaron Gleeman. I did not realize that he got a gig writing for Fox Sports. That's great. Aaron was a blogger who loved baseball and the Twins in particular. He is the first person I can ever recall who recognized the greatness of Johan Santana. When Santana was in the bullpen - Gleeman was writing that he'd be a Cy Young winner if given the chance to start. Now he writes for Fox Sports. This also goes to show what all the folks who put down blogs know. Aaron is still in college and now he's working for Fox Sports. Meanwhile the folks who make fun of bloggers are still writing prep school stories for minimum wage five years out of college (and you know who I'm talking about). Congrats Aaron... Elizabeth Hurley's Acne Scar would be a good name for a fantasy football team... Last year I said I was going to start using the word "indeed!" as an exclamation as often as I could. I think I'm going to start doing that again. Indeed!
Wither Mark Bellhorn?

Mark Bellhorn should clear waivers tommorrow and be free to sign elsewhere instead of going to Pawtucket for the Red Sox (he refused assignment). Most rumors have him going to the A's.

This could actually be a good signing for the A's. For some reason Bellhorn seemed to melt under the fan pressure at Fenway this season. Look at his home/road splits:

Home - .168 BA / .247 OBP / .553 OPS
Road - .260 BA / .398 OBP / .809 OPS

For his career Bellhorn has been pretty Brutal (with a capital B) in Oakland (.217 BA / .635 OPS in 70 games) but that has been against the very good pitching of the A's. Maybe a fresh start is what Bellhorn needs - look what it did for Jay Payton in Oakland. (Note - in no way am I suggesting that Bellhorn should start over Mark Ellis - that would be asinine).

Also just saying but when you compare Bellhorn's road numbers to Nick Punto's numbers for the season (.241 BA / .302 OBP / .636 OPS) you have to wonder if he'd be an improvement for Minnesota. Just saying - he couldn't do any worse than Bret Boone.
Jack Kirby

I was remiss in not noting that yesterday would have been Jack Kirby's birthday.

Hulk says "Happy birthday Jack."

EDIT: I knew that Johnny Bacardi would remember Kirby's birthday.
Terrific Hugh Hewitt Interview

Just engrossing stuff - talking about talk radio and the decline of the Main Stream Media. Just a taste:
HH: If you have to have conventions to correct bias, then you're admitting that you bring bias to the newsroom, and that the consumer, allegedly the people you're trying to serve, would be better served by the same transparency that many on the left, for example, demanding of John Roberts, but which journalists refuse. I mean, you just refused to tell me who you vote for president, and I always ask journalists, and they always refuse, and it's always the game, set, match.

TR: Sure, but I think John Roberts would be right to resist that question, too, becuase it...

HH: Oh, he absolutely will, because he's going to a separate but equal branch of government. You are not. You're just...you guys are selling soap. You're selling ink. And folks have got lots of places to buy ink now, and they're not going to buy it from people whom will not reveal the ingredients.
Hugh is obviously passionate about this subject and that passion shines through.

The "TR" was Tim Rutten of the LA Times. This interview is supposed to air on today's Hugh Hewitt Show.

HT Instapundit.
VDH - America's Historian in Chief

Interesting interview of Victor Davis Hanson by the American Legion Magazine. This maybe the key thought from the interview:
Promoting democracy may be easily caricatured and hard to implement, but the American military has embraced it with fervor and is pulling it off.
Another thought to keep things in perspective:
In fact, for all the tragedy of our combat dead, the U.S. military has lost less in battle than half the number butchered on 9/11.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Top 5 - People Born Today (8/28)

1. Lou Piniella (62)
2. Ben Gazzara (75)
3. Jack Black (36)
4. Ron Guidry (55)
5. David Soul (62)

Today is also Mike Torrez's 59th birthday but he sucks.
Penetrating Quote from Buddy Bell

Sometimes quotes come out of nowhere and smack you upside the head. That just happened to me while I was reading Gordon Edes Baseball Notes in the Boston Globe:
Sure, [Red Sox manager Terry] Francona felt for his friend when the Royals lost 19 games in a row, but it was after a far more devastating loss that Bell turned to his friend for support. During the Royals' visit to Boston earlier this month, [Royals manager Buddy] Bell learned that his 22-year-old nephew, Lance Corporal Timothy Bell Jr., was among 14 Marines killed by a roadside bomb.

''I didn't hear from [Francona] about the baseball stuff, that's all part of the game," Bell said. ''But he called about my nephew."

Bell attended his nephew's funeral at Arlington National Cemetery.

''It's like those seats," Bell said, gesturing toward rows of empty seats in the ballpark and imagining white crosses. ''When you go in the gates, there are protesters, protesting the war. And I'm thinking, 'How ironic is this? I'm going in to bury my nephew for something he was fighting for. That's why these people can protest.' "
Protesting at Arlington? Have these people no shame?
The Battle of the Hockey Enforcers

Critics of tonights round-robin battle of hockey goons say that this is going to give a black eye to hockey. To me - its really boxing that stands to suffer by comparison. What if this is better than any of the recent boxing pay-per-views?

I also found this interesting:
To his critics, [event organizer Darryl] Wolski said: "Go rent a scooter and go plant a tree in Sudbury."
Canada is becoming even more divided than the US. On one hand you have the people typified by Don Cherry and on the other hand you have the people typified by just about any Ontario liberal MP. Scooters and trees versus hockey and fights.

This dynamic seems to be going largely unnoticed.
Yankees and Red Sox

I'm getting a bit nervous about the Yankees and a bit worried about the Red Sox.

Yesterday the Yankees traded for Matt Lawton. Now Lawton is no Manny Ramirez but he is a tremendous upgrade over what the Yankees had be trotting out in left field (I'm assuming Matsui is the CF here). The Yankees had black holes forming at 2B, LF and C. The first two were due primarily to the "Tony Womack Effect" and the third is due to Jorge Posada having his worst season since becoming the full-time starter for the Yankees.

Posada is hitting just .251 with 15 HR and a .753 OPS. He's not doing as bad as some people would have you believe. Last year he finished at .272 with 21 HR and an .881 OPS (OK so his OPS is really down - maybe he was on steroids? I'm just kidding. Wait am I kidding?).

The Red Sox still hold the edge in lineups. The way I see it - the Red Sox have the advantage at C, LF, CF and DH. The Yankees have the advantage at 3B and RF. The other positions are pretty much toss-ups (I could argue that the Sox also have the advantage at 2B but I haven't had any coffee yet and am in no mood for arguing).

The Yankees are now just 1.5 games back in the AL East race and it is their pitching that is really making me nervous. Randy Johnson and Mike Mussina are workhorses. Even though both are sporting 4+ ERAs - they are fairly steady and are playoff tested. Now into the mix you throw Shawn Chacon, who has been 3-1 with a 1.80 ERA in six starts, and the Yankees have a very good three man playoff rotation.

To be blunt - the Yankee pitching is much better at this point than the Red Sox pitching.

The Red Sox need Curt Schilling to shut up and pitch. He needs to get back to a point where he'd be the front of the rotation equal of Randy Johnson. Matt Clement had an awful July (8.88 ERA in 5 starts) but settled back down to a 3.96 ERA in 5 August starts. David Wells has been what was expected - 10-6 with a 4.53 ERA. Both Wells and Clement have been just about the statistical equals of Mussina.

The Red Sox edge in pitching comes from the back end of the rotation. I feel more comfortable with Tim Wakefield and Bronson Arroyo than whoever the Yankees trot out as 4th and 5th starters. And don't give me this Aaron Small stuff - he's a pumkin waiting for midnight.

In short - the Red Sox need their offense to cudgel the opponents to give the pitching a run support cushion plus they need the back of the rotation to win enough games so that the Red Sox win the East with hopefully enough wins heads up against the Yankees to knock them out of the Wild Card race. The Yankees are vulnerable in the regular season but a short rotation of Johnson, Mussina and Chacon with Mariano Rivera closing make them a very dangerous playoff team.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Baseball Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous baseball thoughts and observations.

Tom Glavine has the same number of wins but a better ERA than his opponent today - Jason Schmidt. If you told me this would happen back in April - I would have thought that Glavine was having a Cy Young type season... I remember thinking last year that Edwin Jackson of the Dodgers was going to be Rookie of the Year and the next Pedro Martinez all wrapped into one. He was the one untouchable prospect in the Dodger farm system as far as trades were concerned. So far this year he's bombed at Triple A (3-7 with an 8.62 ERA in Las Vegas), and done so-so at Double A (6-4 with a 3.39 ERA in 10 starts at Jacksonville). With the big club he's 0-1 with a 5.79 ERA after one start. Something tells me the bloom is off this rose and that he's going to be completely overmatched against Roy Oswalt and the Astros... Today's best bets are Oswalt and the Astros (-$178) against the Dodgers and Paul Byrd and the Angels (-$143) against the Devil Rays... Joe Kennedy makes his first start today for the A's. He was aqcquired from the Rockies and if he's back to his form of last year (9-7 with a 3.66 ERA in 16 starts for Colorado) then the already best in the league rotation gets even deeper and more dangerous. Kennedy's start today may be a sign of how the AL West battle will end. If Kennedy has a good outing then it may be lights out for the Angels. These little turning points are often overlooked... In other baseball news, Jose Lima's wife still has exceedingly large breasts...
Afternoon Links

Some worthwhile reading for you on this the last Saturday in August

- Political Musings points out what may have been a foiled suicide bomber plan. Let me say good job to the Customs folks in Chicago and let me also say that I think the "flypaper" approach was intentional by the Bush administration.

- Greg has a good post on Father O'Grady - a hero of Omaha Beach. Very inspirational stuff.

- Gerard Van der Leun has a very touching story about his namesake. I've read this before but was reminded about it by The Anchoress. Gerard is IMHO perhaps the best writer in the blogosphere.
"Gerard Van der Leun" was, of course, not me. He was someone else entirely. Someone who had been born, lived, and died before I was even conceived. He was my father's middle brother. He was what my family had given to stop Fascism, Totalitarianism and genocide in the Second World War. He was one of their three sons. He was dead before he was 22 years old. His body never recovered, the exact time and place of his death over the Atlantic, unknown.
Its a long read (as posts go) but well worth the time.
The Lou Gehrig Memorial Award

Are you familiar with the Lou Gehrig Memorial Award? I wasn't.

According to Baseball-Almanac.com:
The Lou Gehrig Memorial Award was established by Lou Gehrig's college fraternity, Phi Delta Theta at Columbia University. The award is presented annually to the Major League baseball player who both on and off the field best exemplifies the character of Lou Gehrig.
I think that's cool that a fraternity gets to pick the winner of a major award. When you look at the list of past winners going back to 1955 - it really is a who's-who of baseball nice guys. People like Warren Spahn, Robin Roberts, Brooks Robinson, Dale Murphy, Tony Gwynn, etc.

I wonder if the fraternity has ever thought about going back to Pete Rose and Mark McGwire and saying they'd like their award back?

Anyway, I stumbled upon this award because I woke up thinking about Jamie Moyer this morning (yes I'm strange like that). Actually my morning, just waking up, train of thought went something like this:

- what are the Red Sox going to do about their pitching? Is their anyone out there who could help them?
- I'd sure like to see the Red Sox get Tom Glavine. I think he has enough left in the tank to help out. Glavine's 38 but has 2 more years on his contract - is there another example of a crafty-lefty pitcher who had real productive years at age 38 to 40? What about Jamie Moyer?
- that Jamie Moyer doesn't get near the credit he deserves. I should check into his stats this morning.
- I really got to pee. I wonder if my wife made coffee? I should get up.

So I did check into Jamie Moyers' stats and found that among other things - he won the Lou Gehrig Memorial Award. And in the years he was 38-40, Moyer went 54-21 which was probably his best three year stretch of his career. That's good news for Glavine who is also 38 and 10-10 this year with a 4.10 ERA.

What worries me about Glavine is his home/road ERA splits. He's got a 3.70 ERA pitching at Shea (a pitchers park) but just a 4.61 ERA on the road. Not that Glavine would ever be traded to the Red Sox this season anyway. The Mets would love to be out from under his contract but trading him would be like waiving a white flag on the season and they are only 1.5 games back in the NL Wild Card race.

Some other nuggets from my morning research:

- Jamie Moyer is the Mariner's all-time leader in wins. If he retires a Mariner - they're bound to retire his number.
- Glavine was actually born in Concord, MA. I keep forgetting this because he's always referred to as "Billerica's Tom Glavine".
- Moyer is 74th on the all-time strike out list. This season he's past names like Pud Galvin and Frankie Viola.
- What a great name Pud is! Can you imagine naming your son "Pud" today? I think that would be like the Johnny Cash song "A Boy Named Sue".

Friday, August 26, 2005

Heh Heh

From Astros Mike Ganis:
On Sunday, during the Brewer-Astro game, the Astros were doing their usual kiss-cam fun when the marriage music started playing when it showed one couple. Then the words, “Aubrey, Will You Marry Me. Love, Justin” appeared. The couple on the big screen looked confused as hell and the guy started waving his arms in an “it’s not me, it’s not us, you have the wrong people, you idiots” kind of way. Kiss-cam went FUBAR (Fucked Up Beyond All Repair for the acronym-challenged) at that point. High-larious!
A Death in Iowa

Since I'm still alive and posting for your enjoyment - this obviously wasn't me. But what happened to Chris Lynch was a shame.

As Kyle would say, "That's seriously fucked up right there."
Top 5 - NL Rookie of the Year Candidates

1. Wally Taveras Astros
2. Jeff Francoeur Braves
3. Clint Barmes Rockies
4. Zach Duke Pirates
5. (tie) Brad Hawpe Rockies (tie) Ryan Church Nationals (tie) Brad Halsey Diamondbacks (tie) Ryan Howard Phillies

I look at the ROY voting as sort of the MVP award for rookies and my ranking is based on to date contributions. These rankings will certainly change in the final month of the season.

Taveras has hit .300 and leads rookies in runs. He's been there all year. Francoeur has been spectacular but he will play only half a season (although if he keeps even close to the pace he's set - he walks away with the award). Clint Barmes was the Francoeur of the first half- why should he be penalized for playing the wrong half of the season? Plus Barmes may come back to add to his stats. If Francoueur falters and Duke keeps up his pace - then the 2005 NL ROY will have the name Zach Duke on it.
Mchael Yon: Gates of Fire

This is must read material. It is like reading a dispatch by Hemingway from Iraq.

After reading it the question "where do we get such men?" came to mind.
O Canada, We Stand on Guard from Thee

Can you imagine the outrage if the Government tried to play Big Brother to Internet usage in the US? Well in Canada it is about to become reality.
Among the most troubling aspects of the lawful access proposals are a series of new powers that are not accompanied by any judicial oversight. Law enforcement authorities, including the police, CSIS agents, and even Competition Bureau authorities, will have the right to obtain ISP subscriber information simply upon request without a warrant. In fact, the proposals even envision ISPs responding to such requests in certain situations within 30 minutes based solely on a phone call.
Thank God the US is still the land of the free and home of the brave.
Lima Time

If I were to have told you before the season that come September Jose Lima would have the same number of wins as Curt Schilling but have a better ERA - you would have supposed Jose was having a terrific season. Unfortunately for Red Sox fans its not that Jose is having a great season - its that Curt Schilling is having an awful season.

Schilling gave up 6 runs in 5 innings last night to Jose and the Royals and is now 5-6 for the season with a 6.89 ERA. Jose Lima gave up 3 runs in five innings to run his record to 5-12 with a 6.43 ERA.

I'm not ready to panic on Schilling just yet but I'd be lying to you if I didn't say I was on the edge. I think the Red Sox may need to bring in Bruce Dickenson, yet THE Bruce Dickenson to help turn this around.

The Red Sox need more cowbell. Schilling really needs to explore the studio space with more cowbell.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Heh Heh

Little bitty eyes.

This is why I always go to Tommy's
Sean Connery - The Penis Mightier!

Today's Sir Sean's 75th birthday. In his honor here is perhaps the best send-up of Connery ever done. SNL Celebrity Jeopardy!
Alex Trebek: Welcome back to "Celebrity Jeopardy" It's been an exciting first round. That being said, let's take a look at the scores. Sean Connery has negative 16,500 dollars.

Sean Connery: Damm you and your daily doubles you brigand! One day it'll be my turn, Trebek!

Alex Trebek: Great. Calista Flockhart, with an amazing negative $58,000. Good job.

Calista Flockhart: [ quietly like all of her lines ] Thank you.

Alex Trebek: And finally, Nicholas Cage is in the lead with $8.

Nicholas Cage: You got lights, you've got cameras - bitchin' technology!

Alex Trebek: I don't know how anyone could get $8, but better luck to all of you in the next round. It's time for Double Jeopardy. Let's take a look at the board. The categories are.. Potent Potables; The Pen is Mightier.. that category is all about quotes from famous authors, so you'll all probably be more comfortable with our next category..; Shiny Objects; continuing with Opposites; Things you Shouldn't Put in Your Mouth; What Time is It?; and, finally, Months That Start With Feb. Mr. Cage you're in the lead, so let's start with you.

Nicholas Cage: Hmm.. what? Where...

Alex Trebek: Okay, Calista Flockhart, why don't you pick a category?

Calista Flockhart: Um no.. pass.

Alex Trebek: You'll pass. Very smart. Mr. Connery, why don't you pick?

Sean Connery: Ah! Well met! I'll take Months That Start With Feb, Trebek.

Alex Trebek: For how much?

Sean Connery: Suprise me, you filthy bastard!

Alex Trebek: Okay, that's completely unnecessary. Months That Start With Feb for $800. This is the only month that starts with Feb. [ Sean Connery buzzes in ] Mr. Connery?

Sean Connery: Febtober!

Alex Trebek:No. [ Calista Flockhart buzzes in ] Calista Flockhart.

Calista Flockhart: What is.. Febturday?

Alex Trebek: No.

Sean Connery: She said turd!

Alex Trebek: I hate you! The answer was February. That's the month that starts with Feb. It was last month!

Sean Connery: Aha! A trick question!

Alex Trebek: Yeah, it was a trick question, Mr. Connery. Why don't you pick a category?

Sean Connery: I've got to ask you about the Penis Mightier.

Alex Trebek: What? No. No, no, that is The Pen is Mightier.

Sean Connery: Gussy it up however you want, Trebek. What matters is does it work? Will it really mighty my penis, man?

Alex Trebek: It's not a product, Mr. Connery.

Sean Connery: Because I've ordered devices like that before - wasted a pretty penny, I don't mind telling you. And if The Penis Mightier works, I'll order a dozen.

Alex Trebek: It's not a Penis Mightier, Mr. Connery. There's no such thing!

Nicholas Cage: Wait, wait, wait.. are you selling Penis Mightiers?

Alex Trebek: No! No, I'm not.

Sean Connery: Well, you're sitting on a gold mine, Trebek!
Wendy's Ranch Tooth Commercials

Maybe the most annoying thing on TV today are those "Ranch Tooth" commercials from Wendy's. Who hasn't seen those commercials and though about taking a sledge hammer to that enamel Eurkel. I haven't been this annoyed by a commercial since those Mentos commercials (fresh-maker my ass).

It also bothers me that the voice of the "Ranch Tooth" sounds like Adam Corrola and I like Adam Corolla. Now I'm going to associate him with the "Ranch Tooth" and that's not fair to Adam (if he's not the voice of the bicuspid).
Testing the Theory

Iowa Voice has an interesting theory on blogosphere traffic. I took a number of economic classes in college but I forget if he is expressing a macro or micro view of the blogosphere.

HT Betsy's Page
Col. James H. Coffman Jr.

You probably haven't heard about Col. Coffman because its not the sort of news that the MSM treats as "news". Coffman is from Massachusetts but instead of getting a hero's treatment with profiles and interviews with the family - the Boston Globe carried just a single AP report. Can you believe how flimsy the treatment of Col. Coffman was by the Globe? Just 12 small paragraphs containing 402 words. That's the size of report you'd expect for a local girls softball game - not the kind of coverage that should be given to a Massachusetts guy getting the nation's second highest military honor.

The heroes from Iraq and Afghanistan never seem to get the recognition they deserve. Meet Col. James H. Coffman Jr. For his actions last November, he was just awarded the Distinguished Service Cross which is second only to the Medal of Honor for military honors.
Under heavy fire, he moved from commando to commando, looking each in the eye and using hand and arm signals to demonstrate what he wanted done," the citation said.

When an enemy round shattered his left shooting hand, damaging his M4 rifle in the process, Coffman bandaged it and continued fighting with AK-47 rifles he collected from commando casualties until each ran out of ammunition. He also passed out ammunition to the uninjured commandos with the help of the remaining commando officer; when all that remained were loose rounds, Coffman held magazines between his legs and loaded the rounds with his good hand.

When a second commando unit arrived four hours after the fight began, Coffman led them to his position and continued to fight, refusing to be evacuated for treatment until the battle was over. Not long after the commando reinforcements arrived, air support and a Stryker Brigade Quick Reaction Force were on hand to assist to assist in the battle.

Coffman supervised the evacuation of injured commandos and led another group of commandos to the police station to make contact with the Iraqi Police inside. Once the additional air and ground support elements began attacking buildings the enemy forces were hiding in, Coffman went back to his initial position to check on the injured commandos and then agreed to be evacuated for treatment. Twenty-five insurgents were killed and dozens injured.

If Coffman had been a victim like Jessica Lynch, instead of a hero, there'd be a TV movie about him in place by now.

Coffman was born in Great Barrington, MA and lived there until he enlisted. You would not know this if you relied on the Boston Globe for your news.

Thanks to LargeBill for pointing out the AP report to me.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Odds on 2006 Super Bowl

New England Patriots 6-1
Indianapolis Colts 6-1
Philadelphia Eagles 6-1
Minnesota Vikings 14-1
Pittsburgh Steelers 15-1
Kansas City Chielfs 20-1

I think the Steelers may be a bit undervalued and I think the Eagles are very overvalued. The 49ers are the biggest longshot at 180-1.

New England Patriots - "you had me at hello."
AL Wild Card Race

Excellent breakdown on the AL Wild Card race by Ben Jacobs at The Hardball Times.

I agree with his conclusion that the Indians now have the best shot at the Wild card but I think he should have added in a couple of factors.

1. I would have liked it more if he added the Angels and Red Sox into the mix. Both teams just have 3.5 game leads in their divisions. Personally I think the Angels will get overtaken by the A's and that obviously throws the Angels into the mix.

2. This may sound funny but 6 of the Yankees' final games come against the Devil Rays. The Devil Rays have killed the Yankees this season and when all is said and done the Devil Rays will be the primary reason the Yankees don't make the playoffs this year. How funny is that?
I'm Rooting for Kyle Eckel

And you should too. If he makes the team - he may be my new favorite New England Patriot.

Good luck Kyle and kudos to Bill Belichik for giving Eckel the chance to make the team.
Hunter S. Thompson

Interesting piece on HST by Jay Ambrose. I have long held that Thompson's writing won't hold up very well. In 20 years nobody will be reading it and HST will basically be a forgotten man. His writing was like a drunken prank pulled off at a party that seemed hilarious at the time but didn't seem as funny the next day or make sense in the retelling.

I used to be a big fan and now I can't tell you why that was.

HT to Betsy's Page for the link.
Monkey Bars

There is something missing from the school yards of today - monkey bars.

The ban on playing dodgeball at most schools has gotten a lot of attention the past few years but who has spoken up for monkey bars?

When I was a kid there was two focal points on the school yard - the basketball hoop and the monkey bars. The basketball hoop was good for just playing basketball while the monkey bars had many purposes. You could climb the monkey bars and thus develop upper body strength and the monkey bars also doubled as "gouls" (I wonder where that word came from) for tag and as the jail in jailbreaker.

Yes kids fell from the monkey bars on occasion and yes some arms were broken as a result but that's the way real life works. The arms were usually broken by the more nimble kids trying something daring or by the less nimble kids trying to do something the others kids did. The monkey bars were a very good place for kids to learn about limitations and consequences. Now they are gone.

The monkey bars are gone primarily because schools didn't want to face litigation from the parents of children who got hurt using them. The reason why monkey bars are no longer on school yards or playgrounds is just as sad as the actual absence of the monkey bars.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Mussina vs. Lowe - Player Comparison

I've always felt that Mike Mussina was a bit overvalued (OK maye more than a bit). Lets take a look at how Mussina has done against Derek Lowe since Lowe became a full-time starter four season's ago.

Lowe - 125 GS/ 60-39/ 772 IP/ 352 ER/ 4.10 ERA

Mussina - 117 GS/ 59-34/ 759 IP/ 333 ER/ 3.95 ERA

I'm not saying that Lowe is a better pitcher (in fact Mussina is better) but Mussina will cost the Yankees $19 million this season and next. Lowe will make an average of $9 million for this season and the next three and is a bargain compared to Mussina. Some people have speculated that Lowe woud not be able to handle the pressure of playing in New York. I don't agree - I think he'd be Lennie Dykstra type oblivious.

Defenders of Mussina will point out that he's been clutch in the playoffs but his playoff ERA is no better than Lowes (3.16 to Lowe's 3.05). Detractor's of Mussina will point out that he's never had a 20-win season and finished in the top 3 in the Cy Young only once. Lowe also has a top 3 Cy Young finish but he's also got a 20-win season.

Over-rated thy name is Mike Mussina.
Encyclopedia Brown

Ah - Encyclopedia Brown. How well I remember reading those mysteries as a kid.

Today kids wouldn't know what the heck an encyclopedia was but that hasn't stopped some authors from trying to spice up an old standard.

Encyclopedia Brown Does It Again!
Top 5 - Alice Cooper Songs

1. Under My Wheels
2. Only Women Bleed
3. No More Mr. Nice Guy
4. Elected
5. I'll Never Cry
The Vatican Olympic Team or If I were Pope for a Day

The Vatican is a sovereign nation and yet they have never won an Olympic medal.

If I were Pope - I would change that in a hurry. I would ask all the top Catholic athletes to apply for dual citizenship and while not asking them to go against their home countries - I would provide a place for those Catholic athletes who just missed making the cut on their Olympic teams. How many times do you read about a guy who was supposedly third or fourth best on his own squad winning a medal? Or what about all those stories about a guy winning a medal who was only there because someone above him dropped out?

I'm not saying that the Vatican would be a challenge to the US in the medal count but we sure as hell could do better than Ireland (one lousy medal in the last Olympics). Just think of all the Catholic high schools and colleges in the US. Just from that pool we could field one hell of a girls softball or field hockey team (is field hockey an Olympic event and are they really getting rid of softball?).

Just sayin'.

Monday, August 22, 2005

With a Name Like Mangled Baby Ducks - It Has to be Good!

It may be strange but that was the first thought I had when I read this passage from todays Best of the Web by James Taranto:
The more interesting point, though, is that Nichols's lament proves Sheehanoia a failure on its own terms. The crippled-vet ploy is a bluff aimed at suppressing debate; the idea is that no one will dare criticize a crippled vet (or a grieving mom), so he wins the argument by default. But as Nichols illustrates, when the bluff is called, the only thing behind it is self-pity.
With a grieving mom as a spokesman - they have to be right! I wish I could link to that old SNL skit so people could see the connection (then again - maybe its only me who sees the humor).
Evening Links

Some stuff to read while you pop a cold brewski.

- Hardball Dollars has taken over where Dug Out Dollars left off. Must have site for baseball junkies. (HT LargeBill)

- Heh Heh - An Open Letter to TO (HT Off Wing Opinion)

- Johnny Bacardi is THE blog for all things comics - errr I mean graphic arts (I don't go there near often enough)

For those who bet - I'm taking the over in tonight's football game (38 points). Now get out of here before I taunt you a second time.
Happy Birthday Captain Carl

Today is Carl Yastrzemski's 66th birthday. I'm going to eat some kielbasa, smoke a butt, drink some Coors and give a sports reporter a nasty glare and a "no comment" in his honor (OK maybe I was just kidding about smoking a butt).
MMQB Review

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

1. Peter this also interests me:
Factoid That May Interest Only Me

Remember Big Dawg? The wide-bodied Cleveland Browns mascot with the flabby dog mask?

Got his stomach stapled. He's gone from a Bernese Mountain Dawg to, well, just about a greyhound. The Dawg weighed 539 at the time of the stapling, a year ago. He's down to 249. That's a 290-pound loss. He wants to get to 190.
I do question putting this "factoid" right after questioning whether weight was a factor in the death of 49er lineman Thomas Herrion though. Talking about Herrion being 330 and then talking about stomach stapling just didn't seem right.

2. King talks about the price of gas being over $3 in California. What I find interesting is that nobody ever talks about how much of that cost is taxes.

3. King talks about the Randy Moss pot smoking quote and throws this in at the end, "But let's care about some behemoth using human growth hormone more than we do about Moss smoking pot, please." Was this a back-handed comment in relation to the death of the 330-pound Thomas Herrion? If so - shame on you Peter King.

4. If Drew Bledsoe was a Dominican baseball player - people would be questioning his birth certificate. "I only saw one practice, but Bledsoe looked very good throwing the ball. Isn't it amazing he's just 33?"

5. Peter King has no clue when it comes to baseball. Here's what he says about Manny Ramirez:
So people ask me: What do you have against Manny Ramirez? Hey, I am grateful that Ramirez was such a stud in helping the Red Sox win the World Series last year. But he disgraced the uniform before this year's trading deadline by refusing to go into a pennant-race game when his team needed him, taking a day off even though his team had another day off the next day and Trot Nixon was hurt. The latest straw: Ramirez took another game off last Wednesday in Detroit. This means Terry Francona, in the span of three weeks, did not start Ramirez FIVE TIMES so the latter could either get his brain clear or get his body rested. I realize the Red Sox will not be as good offensively after Theo Epstein trades Ramirez this winter. But I can't wait to watch a Manny-less team in 2006, whatever the outcome.
Two of the days were at management's request at the trade deadline (they did not want him injured and void any possible trade) and a third day was after a vicious outfield collision with Edgar Renteria.
Morning Links

Some stuff to read with your morning coffee.

- Betsy Newmark's husband explains why "comparable worth" is a bad idea (as bad as rent control)

- Carolyn Murphy

- When Cindy Sheehan is mocked in the pages of The Boston Globe - you know that she's jumped the shark. (As a side note - I always find it interesting that most of the "left" leaning MSM outlets always leave out the fact that Casey Sheehan was in his second tour of duty. He re-enlisted - so he must have believed in what he was doing. You almost never see that mentioned.)

- Finally! Kevin Millar is benched! Thank you God!

- I agree with David Pinto on this. What was U Cal Santa Barbara thinking?

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Clever Anti-Protest Protest Signs

Here are a couple of protest signs that had to be jokes played upon the Code Pink / Cindy Sheehan type protesters.

This was my favorite.

This was a close second.

My favorite story of this type was the guy who had a bunch of "Peace in Our Time" posters made up for an anti-war protest in NYC. I don't think any of the "dirty hippies" who took the free signs had any idea of the historical meaning of the quote.

HT to the Happy Carpenter
A Baffling Number of Raccoon Scrotums

While the title of this post would make a good name either for a punk rock band or a fantasy football team - it is actually in reference to a funny (because its true) post by "the" Straight White Guy.

I put the in quotations because why does Eric get to be THE Straight White Guy? Did he win a contest or something?
Origin of the Term "Stool Pidgeon"

The phrase “stool pigeon” comes from the fact that “marks” or victims of con men are called pigeons. In the old days – when operating rigged games such as Monte or Banco (which was so prevalent that the police started to have special squads to deal with them – squads that soon were known as “bunco” squads” because the Irish brogue of many cops confused reporters) – the con man would employ someone who would work for him and who the con man would allow to win. This person sitting on a stool would then help draw others into the game to be fleeced by the con man. When the pair were caught – the cops would press the “stool” “pigeon” to confess and promise a reduced sentence in exchange. Because the guy running the game made most of the money but the stool pigeon would get the same punishment – they often took the deal and provided evidence against the con man running the game. Soon – people forgot the origin of “stool pigeon” and just started to use it to mean anyone who would inform on their friends or associates.
Chippper Jones and Tony Clark

Hmmm: When I think of Tony Clark – I think of an older guy. When I think of Chipper Jones – I think of a younger guy. Did you know that they were the first (Jones) and second (Clark) picks of the 1990 baseball draft? Chipper Jones is actually a couple months older than Tony Clark.
Baseball Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous baseball thoughts and observations.

The Washington Nationals are dead last in MLB in both runs scored and total bases. Any one who thinks that the Nats will be hanging around for the Wild Card are completely deluded... Both Vlade Guerrero and Shawn Green need just one HR for 300 in their careers. Vlade has reached this point in just 1265 games while it has taken Green 1636... I don't know how Jim Bowden stays employed as a GM. You could pick the winning guy from any Yahoo fantasy baseball league and plug him in instead of Bowden and the Yahoo guy would yield better results. I truly believe that... I think one of the major reasons why the Cubs are not doing better s the fact that they simply give up too many walks. The Cubs are third in all MLB in walks with 455 - thats almost 4 walks per game. Thats way too many walks... The top three teams for triples are all AL clubs while the top three teams in strikeouts are all NL clubs. That just seems backwards...

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Happy Birthday Chef

Today is Isaac Hayes' 62nd birthday. Happy birthday Chef.

Some of the best Chef quotes (from South Park Quotes):
Chef: Now I know how all those white women must have felt [Watching an elephant have sex with a pig].

Kyle: Chef, we need Butters to gain about 50 pounds, fast.
Chef: Well, if you want him to get really fat as fast as possible, one of you will have to marry him.
Stan: Marry him?
Chef: It definitely worked for every woman I've ever met.

Chef: Hello there, children.
Stan: Chef! What would a priest want to stick up my butt?
Chef: Goodbye.
Royals Lose 19th in a Row

Jose Lima tried his level best to break the skid but allowing 4 runs in five innings wasn't good enough (especially when the KC offense was getting blanked). The thing I can't help but think of is that during this skid you know that after about 12 losses in a row - some guy bet on the Royals thinking "No way they lose 13 in a row". That same guy then doubled his bet on the Royals thinking "No way they lose 14 n a row - I'll just break even by doubling my bet." That guy then doubled his bet again and again until he probably went broke (probably after the 16th or 17th consecutive loss).

You know that there are a number of guys like the one I descibed out there. They're living proof of why you should never do "get me back to even" type bets.
Manny and Millar

Manny Ramirez took some heat this week because he said he couldn't play in Wednesday's game against the Tigers. I have a suspiscion that Kevin Millar played a role in his decision not to play.

I think Manny took the day off because he looks at Kevin Millar as a friend and he didn't want to see his friend on the bench. Seriously. If Manny played Wednesday, John Olerud would have been at first, Gabe Kapler would have been in right and Millar would have been on the bench. Manny knows that Millar is struggling and that Millar could probably use all the plate appearances he can get to break out of his HR slump.

This is also the second time this season that Manny took a day off without any warning and both times Millar would have been on the bench if Manny played instead. In a strange way - I find this loyalty to Millar admirable by Manny. I can't say the same about Millar accepting this largess.

Manny is a simple guy. I think most people who follow the Red Sox would agree that Manny's request to be traded was probably due to Pedro Martinez getting into his head and convincing him that he would be better off in New York with the Mets. I have to wonder if the idea to sit so that Millar wouldn't have to (if I'm correct about this) originated with Millar and was not an original Manny idea.

If the idea for Manny to sit came from Millar in any way - then that's just another reason for me not to like Millar (I have many other reasons).

Yesterday Victor Davis Hanson referred to Jimmy Carter as Pius Maximus which I thought was a great name for Carter. Would "Fama Maximus Laboris Minimus" be a likewise good name for Kevin Millar?

Kal - I feel your pain.

For some reason I get some people at my blog looking for pictures of Ryan Klesko naked. I also once made a passing reference to the rumor that Danny Thomas liked to use glass tables for ummmm.... sexual gratification. Now I get about one hit a week on that. Who Googles "Danny Thomas glass table"?

That's a question that I really don't need to know the answer to.

Friday, August 19, 2005

My Blogroll and Eric McErlain's Blogroll

I saw this post over at Greg's. The post got me thinking.

First off let me say how I view my blogroll.

1. I'm pretty free about adding people to my blogroll - especially bloggers just starting off. I remember what it was like to get linked by someone and how cool that felt when my blog was young. People like being accepted and that's what you do when you add someone to your blogroll.

2. The primary purpose of my blogroll is as a collection of links for MY use. I visit the sites on my blogroll. If I stop visiting or the person stops adding new content - then they come off.

3. I do care if I'm on someone else's blogroll - so if you come here often and like my stuff - add me to your blogroll.

Secondly - I started thinking that I don't visit other people's blogrolls often enough. So tonight while I play on line poker (and while my wife is out with the girls) - I'm going to visit the blogroll at Off Wing Opinion. I'll "live-blog" any interesting nuggets I gleam from Eric's blogroll.

- Hockey Pundits have info on a cool new Team Canada jerseys (I'm thinking about buying one)
- The Net Files had this interesting nugget
- Jeremy at Sports and Bremertonians has a Giant Black Cock
- All Baseball has a very interesting interview with Dr. Andrew Zimbalist

Ok - I made it through about 1/3 of Eric's blogroll and i must say he needs to do some housecleaning. A bunch of the blogs haven't posted in years and a number of the links no longer work. I'm not criticizing - just saying.

I'll tackle the rest of the links some other time (there looks to be some quality sites in the rest).
Heh Heh

HT Grouchy Old Cripple in Atlanta
Top 5 - NL MVP Candidates

Here's how I see the race for NL MVP.

1. Derek Lee Cubs
2. Albert Pujols Cardinals
3. Morgan Ensberg Astros
4. Bobby Abreau Phillies
5. (tie) Adam Dunn Reds (tie) Jason Bay Pirates

This is really a two man race and I would be cool with either pick.
OK - I'll Say It! The New Heineken Commercials are Gay!

Have you seen the new Heineken commercials? They're gay. Seriously. The new Heineken commercials are aimed at gay men (or curious metrosexuals).

The one with the super heros? You know - the one with the guy who can make Heineken out of any ordinary object. The big guy says "you can room with me" while the little guy next to him looks all dejected because he's being replaced as the Robin in the big Batman's life. This has Greek army initiation written all over it.

Then you have the commercial where the bar back drops the case of Heineken which sends out a "disturbance in the force" type deal. It shows a guy in bed with a really pasty face girl who suddenly decides that not only does he not want to get busy with the girl - he can't even stand to have her touch him. How gay is that?

Now there's nothing wrong with commercials aimed at the gay community. I just wanted to warn the guys out there who may not have gotten the message "drinking Heineken is gay".

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Cindy Sheehan and the Ghost of Abbie Hoffman

I had to drive over to the Greendale Mall tonight. I left about dusk and I was surprised to see about 30 protesters holding candles on Pleasant Street on my drive over.

Most of the protesters were holding slim candles and they were carrying signs from Code Pink or home-made signs saying things like "Send Our Children Home from Iraq Now". It should be noted that the majority of the protesters looked old enough to be grandparents.

My first thought when I saw the candles was that this was some sort of vigil for someone who died in a car crash simply because it seemed such a strange place to have any other kind of protest. When I came home from the mall - the protesters were gone but I couldn't help thinking about the choice of spots for their protest.

Then it started making sense.

You have to understand that it is just blocks from where the protesters were having their vigil (which wasn't much of a vigil if it was over by the time I came home from the mall) - sorry - it's only blocks from where the vigil was to where Abbie Hoffman was born and eventually died (from suicide). Most of the protesters would have been about Hoffmans age. Most would have had the same background and mostly likely - the same sort of political leanings as Abbie.

I couldn't help but think that history won't be any more kind to Cindy Sheehan than it has to Abbie Hoffman. The more people learn about Sheehan - the more probable it seems that her "protest" will be looked upon by history the same way people view Hoffman's efforts to levitate the Pentagon with psychic energy today.
Today's Must Read

I'll never be able to listen to this song again without getting a bit misty.

HT Eric at SWG
Top 5 Robert DeNiro Movies

Today's DeNiro's 62nd birthday. Here are what I consider his best movies (Ronin and Mean Streets just miss the cut).

1. Raging Bull
2. Goodfellas
3. Taxi Driver
4. The Godfather II
5. (tie) Casino (tie) A Bronx Tale
Heh Heh

OK - so I have the mentality of a 10-year old boy. I think this stuff is off-the-charts unintentionally funny (OK so maybe it is intentionally funny).

"Scrotal Safety Commission"?

"Testicular Torsion" (great name for a fantasy football team BTW)

"Before we talk about your scrotum, let's talk about the fragile parcel they carry." Ah - the Scrotum monologues soon to be a major Broadway production.

"Your testicles are an invaluable source of pleasure to you, your loved ones, and your whole family! But what do you know about your firm, pendulous bringers of life?" I know that old guys at the gym show that testicles are not immune to the power of gravity over the years.

"Your testes are about 4 to 4.5 cm long and 2 to 2.5 cm round. And that is like one of those gum balls that cost a quarter in a Wal-Mart entrance... Not quite as big as the fifty cent gum balls, or one of those plastic eggs with a friendship bracelet in it." I did not know that.

HT A Stream of (Semi)Consciousness

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

Interesting point: "Since [Ryan] Drese was placed on waivers – he was picked up by Washington – the Rangers are 24-37. The only AL teams with worse records in that span – Baltimore and Kansas City – have both made managerial changes." Drese has been 3-6 with a respectable 4.69 ERA for Washington since the trade.... Aaron Gleeman really knows his baseball but he's only 87-75 for the season in picking games. When it comes to betting - he's no Mike Ganis (do yourself a favor and hop on Mike's NFL and college football bets once the season starts for real)... Heh heh - "All the cool stuff that exists in this city makes me feel like a back-woods hillbilly in comparison." Cool stuff like laundromats and public transportation. I shouldn't laugh but Rallycuff does come off as a Cletus...
Revenge of the Sith (or "The Backstroke of the West")

This is pretty funny. Matthew in Beirut has some screen captures of a pirate version of Revenge of the Sith. To say some of the translations have been screwed up is an understatement. These are my two favorites:

OK - I'll Say It! Separated at Birth?

Cindy Sheehan and Rene Auberjonois from the TV show Benson.

OK, I might be going to hell for this but when I saw the above photo of Sheehan in Christopher Hitchen's article in Slate - I really did think I was looking at Rene Auberjonois.
Top 5 - AL MVP Candidates

1. Manny Ramirez Red Sox
2. Gary Sheffield Yankees
3. Brian Roberts Orioles
4. Vlade Guerrero Angels
5. (tie) Johnny Damon (tie) David Ortiz Red Sox

Manny and Sheffield may be "idiot savants" but there is no denying they are the keys to the success to their teams. In Boston, Ortiz doesn't get to see many pitches to hit if Manny isn't behind him in the order and Damon doesn't score as many runs if no Manny (whose defense is vastly underrated - he leads the AL in outfield assists and nobody plays the Green Monster better). The Orioles' fast start was fueled by Roberts' fast start (if he continues to cool off he'll be out of the top 5). If Guerrero played more games - he'd be number one. No team is more dependant on a player than the Angels are on Guerrero.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Flags of Our Fathers - The Movie

The excellent book by James Bradley, Flags of Our Fathers, which documents the lives of the men involved in the raising of the flag on Iwo Jima is being made into a movie. The movie will be directed by Clint Eastwood.

This will be a must see movie for me. If you haven't yet - read this book. The fighting in the Pacific doesn't get nearly the attention it deserves. To get an idea of what the book is like - read this (from a post I made last Novemeber - note: I'm not the narrator, I'm just relaying the story):
On the last night of our trip we stopped at the Iwo Jima Memorial. This memorial is the largest bronze statue in the world and depicts one of the most famous photographs in history - that of the six brave soldiers raising the American Flag at the top of a rocky hill on the island of Iwo Jima, Japan, during WW II. Over one hundred students and chaperones piled off the buses and headed towards the memorial. I noticed a solitary figure at the base of the statue, and as I got closer he asked, "Where are you guys from?" I told him that we were from Wisconsin.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keith Olbermann and Millhouse from the Simpsons.

I first saw the idea for this at Joe Sherlock's but he got it from somewhere else.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Today's Best Bet

Today's best bet is to take Pedro Martinez and the Mets as they take on the Dodgers in LA. The line is Mets -$150 (meaning you would have to risk $150 to win $100).

Pedro Martinez is a very proud man and when he has something to prove he can be the very best in the game. He still holds a grudge against the Dodgers because they traded him to the Expos. The Dodgers said he was too slight, too frail to be successful in Major league Baseball. Pedro will want to shove it in the Dodgers' face today. I know that the Mets are hurting right now but I'm confident Pedro will carry the day.

This is similar to when Greg Maddux was with the Braves and he used to be a sure thing when he played the Cubs (Maddux had something to prove to the Cubs and he always brought a little something extra against Chicago just to prove they made a big mistake by letting him go as a free agent).
Morning Links

Some stuff to read with your morning coffee.

- Mark Steyn on the 9/11 Commission's credibility

- Why Billy Beane and the A's may win a playoff series this year

- The Belmont Club examines the Z Backscatter Van (very interesting technology)

- Dr. Z's NFL Mailbag

- Stewie Griffin Soundboard - I love stuff like this

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Rafael Palmeiro vs. Dwight Evans

I've had two thoughts about Rafael Palmeiro that I just needed to get off my chest.

First - I wonder if the Orioles have put him on waivers and I wonder if anyone would claim him. Is there any team out there that is so desperate for a first baseman or a big bat that they would touch him with a thirteen-foot pole? I can't think of any.

Secondly, I can't help but think that without steroids - Palmeiro's production is no better than Dwight Evans (without the superior defense).

Let's assume that Palmeiro had talent to play at the top levels of baseball and lets assume that Palmeiro naturally has a constitution that would tend to keep him healthy in a normal course of a MLB career. Let's also assume that Palmeiro started taking steroids in 1992 when Jose Canseco joined the Rangers but the effects of steroids didn't show up until the following full season (Canseco was only with Texas for 22 games in 1992).

If you looked at the stats for Palmeiro for his first seven seasons (up to age 27) you would see the following production:

Palmeiro - 886 G / 3270 AB / 968 H / 95 HR / 34.42 AB per 1 HR

If you looked at what Dwight Evans accomplished up to his first 8 seasons (up to age 27) you would see the following production:

Evans - 916 G / 2931 AB / 765 H / 110 HR / 26.65 AB per 1 HR

Very similar numbers - don't you agree? Assuming similar longevity (and it should be noted that Evans always kept himself in tip-top shape) then Palmeiro should have been on a career track to have more hits but fewer HR than Evans. Yet we all know that Palmeiro instead went on to hit 3,000 hits and is closing in on 600 HR. If I was Evans - I would be a bit pissed off about this.

Consider the following:

- Evans got better as he got older. His top 5 seasons for AB and hits came after age 27.
- Evans hit 275 HR after age 27 - including his top 5 finishes - but his HR per AB only increased slightly to 22.05 AB per 1 HR
- Evans last real productive season came at age 37 and by the time he was 40 - he was out of baseball.
- Palmeiro has hits 474 HR since his age 27 season and his AB's per HR dropped to 13.94 AB per 1 HR. That's insane to think this was accomplished without steroids.

If Palmeiro didn't get caught then he would have made it into the Hall of Fame and Dwight Evans and his 385 HR and 7 Gold Gloves would have been made a fool of in the voting.
Top 5 - NY Cy Young Candidates

Here are my top 5 choices for the NL Cy Young

1. Roger Clemens Astros
2. Chris Carpenter Cardinals
3. Dontrelle Willis Marlins
4. Pedro Martinez Mets
5. (tie) Roy Oswalt Astros (tie) John Smoltz Braves

Jake Peavy just misses the cut. In my mind his stats are aided by playing half his games in extreme pitcher's park Petco. Andy Pettitte also just misses the cut but 3 pitchers from the Astros would have been a bit much.

This race has the feel of 1990 when Clemens was beaten by Bob Welsh who had a career year. Welsh lead the league in wins but had an ERA a full run higher than Clemens. Welsh went 27-6 with a 2.95 ERA to win the award. Clemens went 21-6 with a 1.93 ERA. It should be noted that Welsh was supported by the awesome A's offense of McGwire, Canseco, Rickey Henderson and Carney Lansford while Carpenter has Pujols, Edmonds and Rolen. Carpenter leads Clemens by 5 wins but the ERA is not quite a run higher than Clemens (2.26 for Carpenter to Clemens 1.36).
The Steagles

The Steelers are making news because of their hold-out receiver (Hines Ward) and the Eagles are making news because of their moron receiver (TO) but here is an article about when the Steelers and Eagles made news together for a different reason.

I know the story is two years old but I love stories like this.
Heh Heh

Greatest HEADline of all-time! (And yes - I know it's 3.5 years old.)

HT Cold, Hard Football Facts


Friday, August 12, 2005

Friday Night TV - Red Sox and Patriots!

OK - it was a long day of work today and now I'm home, showered and about to relax. Tonight the World Champion Red Sox host the first place White Sox while the World Champion New England Patriots play in Cincinnati. This is the first time these two world champion teams have played at the same time and I intend to give my clicker a work-out trying to catch as much of the action as possible. Because I'm a geek and because I've got some catching up to do with email and some work stuff - I'll live blog some stuff as it occurs to me.

7:16 - I'm not sure if I give Manny an error on that ball hit to left. As Jerry Remy pointed out - no left-fielder plays more shallow in Fenway than Manny. It was only because he was playing so shallow that he was able to get close to the ball. Doesn't seem right to penalize him for it. I am glad that the two runs knocked in by Rowand's triple against Wells are unearned though and I should note that I have Aaron Rowand on one of my fantasy baseball teams (now I just have to see if I played him tonight).

7:26 - I did play Aaron Rowand. I guess thats good (?). Hey - whatever happened to Belinda Carlisle? Did she end up putting back on that weight she lost? She had a really beautiful face.

7:35 - Kickoff! Are you ready for some football! Heh heh - Palmer goes deep and gets picked off. Silly Palmer.

7:38 - Rohan Davey starts at QB and the White Sox score two more runs. I'm not sure what surprised me more. Let me take this opportunity to say that the Patriot offense won't miss David Patten at all.

7:54 - Bengals miss a field goal and I realize that I'm not being annoyed with Jerry Glanville's voice. I was so used to hearing his stupid voice during Patriots pre-season games I had forgotten that he took the defensive coordinator's job at Hawaii with June Jones.

8:06 - Ortiz hits a double to knock in 2 runs with 2 outs to make it 4-2 White Sox after 3. Cincinnati hits a field-goal to make it 3-0 over the Patriots. BTW - I'm drinking Mike's Hard Lemonade tonight and am about to crack my third.

8:16 - Hey I found a naked picture of Belinda Carlisle. She looks really good (not sure how old the picture is). I heard one of her songs while scanning the radio channels on the ride home from work. Adam Vinatieri ties the score at 3.

8:28 - Red Sox score a run to close to 4-3. Let me take this opportunity to say that Jon Kitna could start for half the teams in the NFL. I'm not 100% sure that the Bengals are better off with Palmer as the starter when Kitna's on the bench. Bengals score a field-goal to go ahear 6-3.

8:37 - Carl Everett hits a HR and the White Sox go ahead 5-3. I read Eric's post and it reminded me of a story my friend tells. The punch line to my friend's story is "I'd eat that." I'll let your imagination work on the rest (let me just say that my friend's story is just WRONG!).

8:46 - Jason Varitek ties the score with a 2-run HR. Buerhle had given up just 52 earned riuns in 23 starts this year. Tonight he's already given up 5. His ERA coming into the game was 2.79 but if my math is correct - after 5 innings tonight it now stands at 2.97.

8:52 - Damn! I missed a Patriot's touchdown. 10-6 Patriots.

9:10 - Ortiz puts the Red Sox up 6-5 with his 27th HR of the season.

9:30 - Vinatieri hits his third field-goal of the night and the Patriots lead 16-6. I'm playing in a poker tourneyment at 10:00 so my posts will probable fizzle out.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

All-time Underrated Movies

Here's my list of the most underappreciated and underrated movies of all-time. To be on my list the movie would have to be both great and not on the IMDB.com list of the top 250 movies. I have 18 movies on the list because 18 was the number worn by Dave Cowens - perhaps the most underrated and underappreciated player in NBA history

The movies in no particular order:

* A Bronx Tale - for my money it was a better movie than Goodfellas (and Goodfellas is one of the all-time best movies). DeNiro and Chazz Palminteri were tremendous in this movie.

* Office Space - now this movie is on Comedy Central frequently but that doesn't mean that its not one of the most underrated comedies of all-time. Ummmm... I'm gonna have to go ahead and ask you to agree with me on this one... mmm..kay.

* Breakheart Pass - this wasn't just another western - this was a thiller set in the old west starring Charles Bronson and almost every "that guy" from all the westerns made in the 1970's.

* Grosse Point Blank - even the fans of John Cusack seem to overlook this gem (maybe because Dan Aykroyd is also in the movie). How do you tell people at your 10th year high school reunion that you're a hitman? One of the best soundtracks of the past 20-years also doesn't hurt.

* Manhunter - this movie was recently "remade" as Red Dragon but the original defines underrated and underappreciated. William Petersen was great in this movie and the guy who played Lecter (Brian Cox who was also uncle Argyle in Braveheart) really gives Anthony Hopkins a run for his money.

* Suicide Kings - Christopher Walken and Denis Leary give the best performances of their careers - enough said.

* The Dead Zone - another Christopher Walken movie (based on the Stephen King book). This was one of the few movies ever made that was actually better than the book it was based on.

* Tombstone - the Val Kilmer character (Doc Holliday) was one of the best characters in the past 30 years. I'll be your huckleberry for this movie.

* Fletch - great movie. I find it hard to believe that Fletch didn't make IMDB's Top 100 list and that Fletch II didn't make their Top 100 worst movies ever made list. We should buy thousands of subscriptions to IMDB, all vote for Fletch and put the cost on the Underhill's bill. What kind of name is Poon?

* Caddyshack - are you freakin' kidding me? Not on the list? That's a travshamockery.

* Animal House - can you believe that this wasn't on the list? What do the people at IMDB have against comedies? One of the seminal movies of my generation.

* Slap Shot - quite possible the greatest sports movie ever made. Not on the list! (IMHO Slap Shot kicks ass on Bull Durham which surprisingly isn't in the 250 either)

* Three Days of the Condor - one of Robert Redford's best. Directed by Sidney Pollack and with excellent performances by Cliff Robertson and Max von Sydow.

* Eight Men Out - perhaps the best baseball movie of all time.

* Jeremiah Johnson - another underappreciated work by Redford. "His name was Jeremiah Johnson, and they say he wanted to be a mountain man. The story goes that he was a man of proper wit and adventurous spirit, suited to the mountains. Nobody knows where abouts he come from and don't seem to matter much. He was a young man and ghosty stories about the tall hills didn't scare him none. He was looking for a Hawken gun, .50 caliber or better. He settled for a .30, but damn, it was a genuine Hawken, and you couldn't go no better. Bought him a good horse, and traps, and other truck that went with being a mountain man, and said good-bye to whatever life was down there below."

* Heathers - to quote JD, "I like it. It's got that it's-a-cruel-world-let's throw ourselves-in-the-abyss type ambience."

* Broadcast News - actually pretty prophetic as it turned out.

* Fast Times at Ridgemont High - how could this movie not be on the top 250?

Aloha Mr. Hand. Did I miss any movies? Feel free to mention them in the comments.
Top 5 - TV Theme Songs/Music

1. Hawaii Five-O
2. Barney Miller
3. Rockford Files
4. Cheers
5. (tie) Bonanza (tie) Raw Hide
Morning Links

Some stuff to read over your morning coffee.

- Cindy Sheehan's Crowd - I couldn't agree with this editorial more. I feel awful for her but I have to wonder where her husband is in all this and I'm afraid of her becoming the equivalent of Nick Berg's dad.

- Bill Simmons has a decent Mail Bag column up

- Finally Manny gets some love. I've been saying this for a long time:
Fact: Ramirez is the best run producer in baseball history, per at-bat, since Ted Williams. During last month's All-Star Game, Fox-TV revealed that Ramirez had the sixth-highest at-bat-to-RBI ratio in history, behind only Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Hank Greenberg, Jimmie Foxx and Williams. Not a single one of those men has played since 1960.
- Peggy Noonan's always a good read.

- This is actually pretty mesmerizing
Top 5 – AL Cy Young Candidates

Here’s the way I see the AL Cy Young Race

1. Mark Buehrle White Sox
2. Mariano Rivera Yankees
3. Jon Garland White Sox
4. Kenny Rogers Rangers
5. Johan Santana Twins

Buehrle and Garland may siphon votes off from each other and people may skip voting for Rogers just out of spite (I would be tempted not to vote for him). This may leave the door open for Rivera to win the award. It should be noted that as great as Rivera has been – he’s never finished higher than 3rd in Cy Young voting. The baseball writers may decide to make this a life-time achievement deal.

BTW - This was Roy Halladay's award to win before he got hurt.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Air America – A Thought

Air America is obviously getting into pretty dire financial straights. I think it would be a great coup for Rush Limbaugh to buy a bunch of advertising time on Air America talking about how he's buying the commercial time out of the goodness of his heart and how he's afraid that if Air America goes out of business too soon then the Boys and Girls Clubs will never get their money back. Rush could do another commercial about how he’s afraid that if he didn’t buy the air-time then the Air America crowd would lobby Congress for funds and become a sponge off public funds like NPR.

The publicity that Rush would get out of the move would more than make up for the fact that the advertising won't really reach - well anyone if you go by the ratings.

Air America is probably so hard up for cash that they would be forced to swallow hard and accept Rush's money.
Worthy Causes

Eric McErlain links to a worthy cause

Chris Muir's worthy cause actually caused me to get a bit misty.

Please click on and read both links and do what you can.

Baseball Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous baseball thoughts and observations.

I'm no fan of Kevin Millar and fans are on him for his home run drought (he hasn't hit one since June 4th) but since the All-Star break he has hit .309 with a .416 OBP. I'd still like to see some more power out of first base. Jeff Bagwell was playing with one arm and was able to hit 3 HR before going on the DL May 4th. Millar has just 4 HR for the season (that's one less than David Eckstein - think about that)... Not sure what to make of this but no team has scored more runs from the 7th inning on this season than the Cincinnati Reds (191). The Red Sox are second (184) and the Yankees third (181). The Reds are 7th in runs scored in the first 6 innings. The Red Sox are second and the Yankees third in runs scored from the 1st to 6th innings. The Rangers are first in innings 1-6 but 7th in innings 7 on - they're the exact opposite of the Reds. Strange... Eckstein may have hit more HR than Millar this season but Millar is outslugging him. Millar has a .375 SLG mark while the 5'7" 165 pound Eckstein is just at .370 for SLG. I guess Millar can hang his hat on that... The Yankees trail the AL Wild Card by 3 games while the Mets are 3.5 back in the NL Wild Card. I say that the Mets have a better chance to win their Wild Card and will at the least finish closer to the playoffs than the Yankees... Manny Ramirez has 421 HR. He needs just 5 more to catch Billy Williams for 36th place. Manny needs just 10 more to catch Cal Ripken for 35th place all-time... Adam Dunn is a big power hitting lefty but he's hit twice as many HR at home than on the road (22 to 11). David Ortiz is a big power hitting lefty but he's hit almost twice as many HR on the road than at home (17 to 9). If Ortiz played in Cincinnati - he'd have 40 HR by now...

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Does MMQB Peter King Support Radical Islam?

Indirectly - he may. From yesterday's Monday Morning Quarterback column:
Coffeenerdness: I'm starting to think Caribou Coffee is just fine, in part because I'm starting to like the lattes with two percent milk.
The coffee house chain Caribou Coffee is run by people who believe in running their business in accordance to the strict Islamic law of Shari'ah.

Does money spent at Caribou wind up in the hands of terrorists? Mostly likely not at all. It is the instituting of Shari'ah as the guiding principles of the company that I find objectionable though.

I wonder if Peter King would notice if he started getting his two percent latte from baristas in burqas? I wonder what King's wife would think about him getting his coffee from a chain that believes in a "husbands' right to beat their wives as long as they do not draw blood"?

HT LGF for the links.
Bledsoe vs. Testaverde

The Cold, Hard Football Facts thinks they're virtual clones.

I love Bledsoe but even I have come to the conclusion that he's the Bert Blyleven of NFL QB's. This jumped out at me:
With an average season (3,317 passing yards) in 2005, Bledsoe will jump past Johnny Unitas (40,239), Joe Montana (40,551) and Dan Fouts (43,040) and sit next to Testaverde as the 7th most productive passer in NFL history.
Drew more yards than Joe Cool and Unitas? More yards than Fouts? This surely illustrates the fact that the stats don't always tell the whole story.

Monday, August 08, 2005

There's Only One Man Who Can Get to the Bottom of and Right the Wrongs in the Air Enron Scandal

And that man is Billy Jack!

In the original, Billy Jack protected "the students of the peace-loving free-arts school in the desert against the conservative bad guys in the near-by town". Now Billy Jack has to come out of retirement to protect the underprivileged inner-city kids who just want to go to camp from the evils of the embezzling liberal media moguls.

In the original authority in the form of the local police failed to protect the students and now the authority of the Main Stream Media is failing to protect the kids of the Boys and Girls Clubs. Tom Laughlin as Bill Jack taking on the Air America scandal. What could be better?

Tom Laughlin has said he wants back in the game. Billy Jack can really prove his independence by taking on the bastion of the liberal left - Air America.

Al Franken has been known to tackle hecklers - that could provide for the basis of the big showdown fight. Laughlin could even get the Boobs Not Bombs crowd to show up to provide the gratuitous nudity his moves always have.

This is a project that needs to be green-lighted.
Air America - Out of Money?

Interesting information from Brian Maloney.
John Holmes

Johnny "Wadd" Holmes would have been 61 years old today. I found interest / humor in some of the information in his biography on IMDB.com:
Born John Curtis Estes on August 8, 1944 in Pickaway County, Ohio, John was a bible student and went through a stint in the U.S. Army before moving to Los Angeles in the mid 1960s and gravitating to porno films.
How do you "gravitate" towards porno films?
His lucrative off-screen penis-for-hire business took him around the world.
This and "hey - he owed me money!" are the two things I want people to say at my funeral.
In late 1970s, John fell victim to drug abuse which prevented him from performing in the on-screen sex, making him drop out of the adult film business. He was then broke with all of his millions spent on drugs which he never 100% got over his addition. He made money by robbing peoples houses and cars, as well as delivering drugs for the local gangsters. His low point was when he was implicated in the drug-related "Laurel Canyon" murders on July 1, 1981. He was allegedly present at the drug-related torture and murder of his drug dealing friend, Bill Deverell, and the murders of another man and two women by a gang of unknown henchmen sent by a powerful gangster, named Eddie Nash. John refused to tell the police what he knew and went on the run for nearly six months before he was taken into custody and then tried for all four murders. After a three-month, semi-public trial, John was finally aquited in June, 1982. The true nature and details of the Laurel Canyon murders remains unsolved to this day.
Is it just me or does his life have all the makings of a blockbuster biography? Sex, drugs and a murder mystery. If I were to write it I might pick "Off-Screen Penis-for-Hire" as the title.

John Holmes served as the inspiration for the movie Boogie Nights. I did not know that.

UPDATE: Glen in the comments points to this info at the Crime Library (much better info than IMDB.com). Their account includes this great line:
From the moment she caught her husband measuring his manhood, there was a fundamental shift in their relationship.
And this:
When the Miami SWAT team, accompanied by two LAPD detectives, burst through the door of his hotel, Holmes was lying in bed watching reruns of Gilligan's island. He calmly told the cops he was expecting them, according to Rolling Stone, and offered them coffee. They declined, handcuffed him, and shipped him back to California.
The link is fascinating to read.

UPDATE 2: Another person points put that a movie was made of this in 2003 called Wonderland starring Val Kilmer. Has anyone seen it? Was it any good?