Friday, March 31, 2006

Top 5 - Christopher Walken Movies

Happy 63rd birthday to Christopher Walken. My favorite Walken movies:

1. The Dead Zone
2. Pulp Fiction
3. Suicide Kings
4. Biloxi Blues
5. (tie) The Deer Hunter (tie) King of New York
Morning Links

Some stuff to look at over your morning coffee (haven't done this in a while):

- U.S. Soccer Player Assaulted In Belgium (not because he was a US soccer player but because of his race).

- VDH on the myths that circulate - the refutation of these myths is nothing new for readers of VDH but I particularly like today's lesson because it includes the word "recrudescence" (a word I'm going to HAVE to add into my vocabulary)

- An honest look at the root cause of the steroid era (hint - its also the root of all evil) and an honest appraisal of the chances of winning the war on performance enhancers

- Jay Nordlinger has a new Impromptus up
NCAA Final Four - Just Sayin'

Since the betting lines opened early this week - the betting money has been on Florida and even more on LSU.

Florida opened as a 5.5 point favorite but now that line is up to Florida giving 6 points.

LSU opened as a 1.5 point favorite but now that line is up to LSU giving 2.5 points.

I'm going with LSU and Florida but I would not be surprised to see the Florida line go to 6.5 points by gametime. I also wouldn't be surprised if the LSU spread went down to 2.0 points by gametime as UCLA fans put up some cash in Vegas.
Baseball Predictions

Now's a good a time as any for predictions:

East - Red Sox
Wild Card - Toronto

Central - Cleveland

West - Oakland (best record in AL)

East - Atlanta

Central - Houston
Wild Card - St Louis

West - Dodgers

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Golddigger on the Market?

Sports Frog has a rumor that Kris and Anna Benson are getting a divorce. If Omar Minar knew this was coming (if it is coming) - I wonder if he would have traded Benson in the first place?

EDIT: Yup its official splitsville
A More Pressing Issue than Steroids

So baseball is going to revisit the past and investigate the steroid era. That's all well and good but I think a more pressing issue from the past needs to be addressed by Major League Baseball.

MLB should use its financial clout to step in and get Ted Williams' head and body out of the deep freeze they're in now. Soon all of Ted's friends will be dead so this is not a issue that can wait much longer.

Ted wanted his ashes spread out over his favorite fishing spot and MLB should step in and see that the Splendid Splinter's last wishes are met. It will take money to fix this and MLB has plenty of that. MLB will end up spending more on this investigation than it would cost to buy off the Alcor folks who are holding Ted's head hostage.

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

You have to check out this post by Eric - the Straight White Guy (like he's the only one):
… anyway, the lemurs in the video really stole the show… not only for creativity, but for pure stoned abandon… I mean, seeing a drunk monkey passed out under a picnic table is pretty funny… but seeing a lemur drool, go cross-eyed, and slump in a stupor against a palm tree is just hilarious….

… and hey, like I said, the lemurs had style…. they didn’t go for drinks or smokes… nope, they went straight for the top-shelf hardcore… the crackpipe of the animal world… millipede juice…
You have to see the video.

Stoned lemurs would be a very good fantasy baseball team name.
The Importance of a Single Vote

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

Think of that. If one person changed their vote from yes to no - Alaska might not be part of the US today.
Barry Bonds and the Players Union

It was announced yesterday that Bud Selig will have former Senator George Mitchell investigte the "steroid era" and Barry Bonds in particular. One of the criticisms I've heard about such a investigation is that even if Mitchell finds something on Bonds that the Commissioner would be powerless to do anything. I disagree.

The main thing that protects players these days is the Players Association (please note - an association not a union). If I recall correctly - Barry Bonds is not a member of the players union. My understanding is that Bonds, back when he was riding high in the saddle, opted out of the Players Association because he wanted sole monetary rights to his name and image and did not want to share the wealth so to speak.

How great would it be if Barry's decision to opt out of the Players Association - a decision born out of ego and greed - comes back to bite him in the ass regarding his decision to be the biggest steroids cheat in history (another decision born out of ego and greed)?

Kenesaw Mountain Landis suspended the Chicago eight in the wake of the 1919 Black Sox scandal and there was no appeal mainly because there was no Players Association to stick up for them. Barry also does not have a Players Association to stick up for him and in my opinion he is less deserving of an appeal process than Buck Weaver.

Without the Players Association - Bonds is basically an employee at will with a contract. If MLB pays off the final year of the contract - why wouldn't they be able to ban Bonds "in the best interest of the game"? Kenesaw Mountain Selig - time to do your job.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

April's Fools Pranks

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

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

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

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Heh Heh

From my buddy Jim:
Taking a wee break from the golf course, Tiger Woods
drives his new Mercedes into an Irish gas station.

An attendant greets him in typical Irish manner,
unaware who the golf pro is... "Top o' the mornin' to ya".

As Tiger gets out of the car, two tees fall out of his pocket.

"So what are those things, laddie?" asks the attendant.

"They're called tees," replies Tiger.

"And what would ya be usin 'em for, now?" inquires the Irishman.

"Well, they're for resting my balls on when I drive," replies Tiger.

"Aw, Jaysus, Mary an' Joseph!" exclaims the Irish attendant.
"Those fellas at Mercedes think of everything
Jim Bowden - A Man with a Plan

Ryan Church is arguably the best outfielder with the Nationals and I guess supposedly the reason Brad Wilkerson was expendable in trading for Alphonso Soriano. Now Jim Bowden has seen fit to send Church to Triple A.

Looking at the Nationals depth chart makes me smile. It loks like rookie Ryan Zimmerman is playing 3rd and shortstop with no backup at either position. They have an all-star 2nd baseman playing left field and now their best outfielder has been option to Triple A.

Royce Clayton and Damian Jackson may be forced into prominent roles (which probably wouldn't even happen on the Royals or Devil Rays). As Kyle from South Park would say "Dude - that's pretty fucked up right there."
Bagwell vs the Crime Dog

With Jeff Bagwell all but retired - the big question now becomes "is Jeff Bagwell a Hall of Fame Player?" After careful consideration - I have to say no (but no with a qualifier).

If Fred McGriff doesn't get into the Hall of Fame - then I don't think Jeff Bagwell should either.

McGriff played the tail end of his career during the "chicks dig the long ball" steroids era but nobody has ever even hinted that he was anything other than a true gentleman who did things the right way, the natural way, the Tom Emanski way. Bagwell played most of his career during the inflated statistics period of steroids abuse (I won't say "use" because steroids have been around since the 70's). Everyone agrees that Bagwell was and is a perfect gentleman but it has to be noted that steroid use was rumored about Bagwell to the point that Bagwell's mom had to weigh in on the matter. I don't think that Bagwell was a steroids user but you have to wonder how a player who couldn't hit home runs in the minor leagues ends up in the top 50 all-time in MLB history for dingers. It has become too tough to give any player the benefit of the doubt anymore once steroid rumors begin to circulate.

That means you just have to look at the numbers (taken from

- McGriff has more career HR, RBI and total bases.
- Bagwell has an MVP Award but McGriff has a World Series Ring. Both finished top 10 in MVP voting 6 times and both won 3 Silver Slugger awards at first base.
- McGriff was a post season monster with 10 HR in 10 series and a post season batting average of .303 and an OPS of .917. Bagwell had 2 HR in 9 post season series and hit an anemic .226 with a .675 OPS.

Bagwell has the fact that he played his entire career for one team going for him. He's the Astros all-time leader in HR and RBI (and also total bases but Craig Biggio should pass him this season). McGriff played for several teams during his career but was highly valued by everyone he played for. Simply put McGriff was wanted. Should McGriff be punished because teams trying to win wanted him on their rosters?

If you are going to buy the "but he played his entire career for one team" argument - what about Jim Rice? He was even more feared a player than Bagwell ever was. What about Dwight Evans (I refuse to acknowledge those final 270 at bats for Baltimore)? Evans was a more complete player than Bagwell and he's not in.

I would like to see Jim Rice and Andre Dawson get in the Hall of Fame before Bagwell (and I also think McGriff belongs before Bagwell too).

Sorry but that's just how I see it.
VDH's Best Books on the Battles of this Century

Saturday the Wall Street Journal had an item from Victor Davis Hanson listing what he considers "the definitive books on the battles of the 20th century". Here's a list of the five books VDH picked out:

1. The Price of Glory by Alistair Horne (St. Martin's, 1963).

2. With the Old Breed by E.B. Sledge (Presidio, 1981).

3. The Face of Battle by John Keegan (Viking, 1976).

4. Stalingrad by Antony Beevor (Penguin, 1998).

5. The Fall of Fortresses by Elmer Bendiner (Putnam, 1980).

Looks like I have some books to add to my reading list.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Hypocrisy in Baseball

The number one rule in baseball is NO GAMBLING ON BASEBALL. It is taboo for baseball players to place a bet on baseball and Pete Rose is living in a van down by the river for violating this order.

Appearently it is OK for baseball owners to make money off gambling though. The Boston Red Sox just signed a deal that will have Boston Red Sox scratch tickets via the Massachusetts State Lottery.

I know that lottery tickets are a far cry from players or managers placing bets on games through bookies but it does seem hypocritical to me. Just Sunday there was an ESPN show about gambling and athletes on ESPN's Outside the Lines but this deal or the idea of people like George Steinbrenner owning race horses was never mentioned. Do as I say not as I do attitudes have always been a pet peeve of mine.

Anyone who has ever spent what seems like an eternity behind a guy (or woman) at a Cumberland Farms, Honey Farms or 7-11 who was spending every cent they had on scratch tickets when what they really needed to spend their money on was clothes or deodorant knows that scratch tickets are just as addictive a form of gambling as anything else. Now the Red Sox are profiting from it.

I don't object to the deal per se but I do object to the hypocrisy. What is the real moral difference Rick Toccet fronting the money for a bookie operation and the Red Sox fronting their name to entice gambing on scratch tickets? It reminds me of the old line about getting robbed with a gun vs getting robbed with a pen.
NCAA Final Four Odds

Here are the early odds on Saturday's two Final Four Games:

LSU -2 vs UCLA - This game is a toss-up. It should be noted that combined - 7 out of their last 8 games have gone under, however, I expect the O/U line to be set so low that the over will be the best bet in this matchup.

Florida -5.5 vs George Mason - I think the Cinderella ride is over for George Mason. They will be mobbed by the media all week and they will be playing on the road really for the first time in the tournament. I feel pretty good about Florida in this match-up.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

OK now I’m convinced those two guys doing the Cingular commercials are gay. First they are at the game at night and then at breakfast the next morning reading the morning paper and drinking Starbucks? Yup – they’re gay… Is that Christian Slater’s voice in the Auto Trader commercials?... Speaking of commercials – have you seen the McDonald’s commercial where the spaz guy (did you see him swing a bat in the batting cage?) sips a McDonald’s coffee and realizes he’s been married for 10-years? What is McDonald’s message for that commercial? That their coffee tastes great to people who are clinical morons?... Separated at birth? Vern Lundquist and Mr. Toad from The Wind and the Willows? (I should also note that I really like Vern and think that him and Bill Rafferty are the real “A” team for CBS basketball coverage)... Wow – this was the greatest game for game tournament in my memory. If they come out with a DVD of highlights – I’m buying it the day it comes out… Yannick Noah my be Joakim Noah's father but it seems like sonny has a lot of John McEnroe in him (especially the whining ad grunting)… Is Villanova the only team that is abbreviated using the end of the name instead of the beginning? Nova? That’s also Spanish for “no go” which is apt because the Final Four this year for Villanova is a “no go”…
World Pooh-sticks Championships

This is just awesome.

There's a certain bridge in Kennybunkport (near Goose Rocks beach) that my kids, my wife and I cannot pass without playing Pooh-sticks. If the tide is coming in - we throw the sticks in from one side of the road. If the tide is going out - we throw the sticks in from the other side.

Its the simple things in life that need to be cherished.
Tony Graffanino

It looks like the Red Sox have place Tony Graffanino on waivers. Most likely he'll be gone by Wednesday. Here's my understanding of the situation:

- Graffanino is on waivers but if a team claims him the Red Sox can pull him back and try to make a trade
- If Graffanino can't be traded then the Red Sox cut him Wednesday so that they are responisble for just $512,500 of his $2.05 million deal

A couple of weeks ago I took a look at what teams might want Tony and here's what I came up with:
That leaves the Twins who are weak at 3rd (Tony Batista is an abomination), Mariners at 2nd (Jose Lopez is no prize), Marlins at 2nd (Pokey Reese is always a question mark), Mets at 2nd (they would love to replace Kaz Matsui), Phillies at 3rd (David Bell is also an abomination), Reds at 2nd and 3rd (Freel has off field issues and Edwin Encarnacion is no prize) and Padres at 2nd and 3rd (Vinnie Castillo is the mother of all abominations and Mark Bellhorn may be the best option at both 2nd and 3rd). Of these teams - I doubt a deal will be made with either the Mets or the Phillies (Minaya does not like dealing with Boston and the Phillies kinda have to go with Bell at third because of his contract). That leaves the Twins, Mariners, Marlins, Reds and Padres. If I were one of these teams - I would pony up a B-level prospect for Graffanino in a heartbeat because if they wait too long Graffanino will be gone. And that will be their loss.
I still think those are the most likely teams to wind up with Graffanino. Even with Pokey retiring - I'd take the Marlins out of the mix because they are too cheap to pick up even half of Graff's salary. By the same token - I'd put the Phillies back in play because Bell's back has been acting up.
NCAA Picks

Here's my thoughts (for what they're worth) on today's March Madness matchups.

UConn -8.5 vs George Mason - this is basically a home game for George Mason and I think that's a huge factor. I also think that most of the money bet on this game is expected to come in on the UConn side (losts of boosters with lots of disposable income in the Nutmeg State) which means that the line is actually higher than what the experts predict. These two reason plus the fact that I think that UConn plays down or up to the level of their competition make me think we will have a low scoring game that will be tighter than 8.5 points. I'm taking George Mason and the points.

Villanova -1.5 vs Florida - This is a coin flip of a game but my gut tells me take the more experienced coach and the points. I'm taking Florida and the points.
Pete Rose

One step away from living in a van down by the river.

HT Baseball Musings
Abdul Rahman Set Free

The Afghani court has dropped charges against Abdul Rahman who had been charged with converting from Islam to Christianity. This is of course good news but something in the linked article dropped me in my tracks. Here's what stunned me:
Some Islamic clerics had called for his execution, saying Rahman would face danger from his countrymen if he were released.
This is either really bad writing by the author of the article or the prime example about why Islam is so backwards. They wanted him to die to save him from being harmed? WTF?
Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

LSU men's basketball coach John Brady needs to let his inner mustache come out. I swear that I thought he had one of those wispy light colored mustaches but prior to yesterday's game he was interviewed and I realized he just has permanent 7 o'clock shadow on his upper lip. He should just go with the flow and let it grow... I checked my American College Dictionary and "physicality" is not a word. I wish basketball announcers would stop using it... The Holy Cross men's hockey team lost last night to North Dakota 5-2 but that doesn't take away from the shine of their upset of Minnesota on Friday or the fact that this was the most successful hockey season in the school's history (27-10-2). Well done Crusaders... UCLA was a 12-1 shot to win the tournament before the games began and LSU was 28-1. Now both are in the final four. Of the teams playing today - UConn was the favorite at 5-2, Villanova was 5-1, Florida was 20-1 and I'm not sure what George Mason was but it was greater than 50-1.... It looks like Jeff Bagwell's career may be over. I'm going to have to take some time to figure out if I think he's a Hall of Famer (my gut says yes)... Last night I skipped watching UCLA/Memphis to go to Holy Cross to see Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire with my son (even though I'd seen it twice already at the theater and have the DVD - I'm a Harry Potter geek). From speaking with some people who watched the UCLA game - I made the right choice to skip it... It is just me or do those two guys in the Cingular comercials give off a Brokeback Mountain vibe? I mean why else would the Asian guy with the cool phone always be sticking around with the dorky guy who paints himself green for March Madness if it wasn't for the gay sex? Just saying...
Mike O'Connell Fired

One word sums up how I feel about Mike O'Connell being fired as GM of the Boston Bruins:


I'm stll boycotting the Bruins though. As long as Jeremy Jacobs is the owner - the team can pound sand. The only thing that could possibly get me rooting for the Bruins again (beside Jacobs selling the team) would be hiring Gord Kluzak or Eric McErlain as the new general manager.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

The Last Nine Innings

I received a copy of Charles Euchner's The Last Nine Innings in the mail on Thursday and started reading it today. The book looks at the macro of modern baseball (including technology and training) through the micro of the seventh game of the 2001 World Series. So far I've been very impressed with the book. I'll have a full review on the book later in the week.

Holy Cross Hockey

Holy shit!

That was my reaction upon learning that Holy Cross' men's hockey team beat Minnesota last night 4-3 in OT. This was an upset of Buster Douglas proportions. Holy shit! Holy Cross was supposed to be a sacrificial lamb to the Minnesota powerhouse.

Holy Cross becomes the first number 4 seed to beat a number 1 EVER! This is the hockey equivalent of Oral Roberts beating UConn in the first round of March Madness. Next up for the Crusaders is North Dakota. If Holy Cross can beat the Golden Gophers - why not the Fighting Sioux? Go Crusaders!

Holy Cross wins? Holy shit!
Hee-Seop Choi

The Red Sox claimed first baseman Hee-Seop Choi off waivers from the Dodgers on Friday. Two quotes from Boston GM Theo Epstein explain all you need to know about this move.
"We have liked Choi for a long time and view this as an opportunity to acquire him when his value is down a bit," Boston general manager Theo Epstein said. "We like his power, his patience and his hands at first base. Choi provides depth for us at first base and in a way third base as well, considering Kevin Youkilis' ability to play both positions."
"We'll see how our roster shakes out, but Choi does have minor league options if we want him to get every day at-bats in Triple-A for a period of time," Epstein said.
Excellent move by the Sox. It doesn't cost them much as they only have to pay Choi the MLB minimum with the Dodgers picking up the rest of Choi's $725,000 salary and it gives the Red Sox lots of flexibility.

Financially - as much as this was a good move for the Red Sox - it was a dumb move by the Dodgers who knew they probably wouldn't be able to use Choi this year but offered him arbitration anyway. The Dodgers have a logjam at first with Nomar Garciapparra as the starter and stud prospect James Loney starting at AAA Las Vegas. The Red Sox can start Choi at AAA Pawtucket (he has one option left I beleive) and bring him up in case of injury or in case Mike Lowell isn't in a slump but instead is toast as a MLB player (Youkilis would move to 3rd and Choi and JT Snow would split 1st).

It is not inconcievable that Choi could play the entire season at Pawtucket and come up with Boston next year to split time with Youkilis at 1st. They would make a good lefty/righty platoon. It should also be noted that JT Snow has just a one-year $2 million deal and that Choi would be under Red Sox control for a couple more years most likely at a lot less than $2 million per year.

Choi came to the Dodgers as part of a mid-season blockbuster trade in 2004 that sent Brad Penny, Hee Seop Choi and minor leaguer Bill Murphy from the Marlins to the Dodgers and Paul Lo Duca, Juan Encarnacion and Guillermo Mota to the Marlins from the Dodgers. Of the six players involved in the trade - now that the Dodgers have released Choi - only Brad Penny is still with the team he was traded to.

This was a bad move by the Dodgers and a move that Paul DePodesta never would have made. That needs to be said.

EDIT: I think I was wrong about the Dodgers having to pay part of Choi's salary. If he went unclaimed after being waived - then they would have had to pay. Since the Red Sox claimed him - they are responsible for his entire 2006 salary. This also helps explain why Choi fell all the way to the Red Sox (all NL teams and all AL teams with a worse 2005 record had dibs over the Sox). I guess the other teams either didn't see the snazziness of Choi or were to cheap to pay the $725,000.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Barry Bonds - Legal Loser

Barry Bond's request to block the authors of Game of Shadows (you can order it from the link at the top of the blog - hint, hint, nudge, nudge) from profits from the sale of the book has been denied. Linky

This suit was a very dumb move by Bonds and his lawyer. I have a mental picture of something like the following happening at the courthouse:

Judge: "After due consideration - the motion to block profits from the sale of the book Game of Shadows has been denied."

Bonds' Lawyer: "Your honor - we strenuously object to the decision and request that you reconsider."

Judge: "I don't make decisions capriciously. There are First Amendment issues here and you have not proven that the information in the book was either illegally obtained or false. The decision stands - motion dismissed."

Bailiff: "All rise!" [Judge leaves courtroom]

Barry Bonds [to his lawyer]: "'We strenuously object?" Is that how it's done? Hm? "Objection, your Honor." "Overruled" "No, no. I STRENUOUSLY object." "Oh. You strenuously object. Then I'll take some time and reconsider." My God - what am I paying you for?"

Bonds Lawyer: "Look just because you have a giant head from taking steroids doesn't mean you have any brains. You were the one who demanded we bring some kind of suit against the authors of the book. If you had any balls instead of the shrunken raisins in your jockstrap - you would have sued for libel. My advice to you was to play dumb and just keep saying that you don't know what is in the book because you haven't read it and don't plan on reading it. Reporters would have gotten sick of asking you about it. But noooooooo.... you had to insist on suing about something or anything. Now we look like boobs and as far as I'm concerned if you aren't going to listen to me then you can go eat a big bowl of dicks." [Lawyer storms off]

Barry Bonds [to self]: "Big bowl of dicks? Natural testosterone? I wonder if that would show up in a drug test?"

EDIT: Fixed spelling mistake
Lima Time

Travel day today so don't expect much. I'm wondering if I'm going to have to get a new "mascot" if Jose doesn't make the cut this year. Mike Piazza's wife? Scot Podsednik's?

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Today's NCAA Basketball Games

Just in case anyone cares - here's tonight's lineup and my thoughts on the point spreads.

Duke (-6) vs. LSU - I'm not a fan of Duke but I think they walk in this game. Of the teams that LSU has faced this year - Duke is probably most similar to Florida and Florida killed LSU 81-65 on March 11th. Sure that game was played by LSU without forward Tyrus Thomas but would he have been worth more than a 10 point swing in the game? LSU also lost to Florida by 9 back in February. I'm taking Duke and giving the points.

Texas (-5) vs. W. Virginia - Gut feel on this game - I'm taking West Virginia and the points.

UCLA (-3.5) vs. Gonzaga - the Bruins can score AND play defense. So I'm pretty high on their chances tonight. The only thing that bothers me is that Adam Morrison is supposedly weakened by a stomach flu. Sometimes this has the opposite effect than you'd expect and the player weakened by the flu ends up having a big night because what is taken away in the weakened state is the nervous excitement that seems to have been working against Morrison in the tournament. I'm still taking UCLA and giving the points though.

Memphis (-7) vs. Bradley - If Memphis was playing Pitt or Kansas and was giving up 7 points - I'd be taking Pitt or Kansas and the points. Bradley beat both Pitt and Kansas while Memphis has yet to be tested (wins over Bucknell and Oral Roberts). I'm not sure if Bradley wins outright but I do think they cover with 7 points. If this game comes down to free throws - it should be noted that Bradley has the clear advantage from the charity stripe. I'm taking Bradley and the points.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Heh Heh

A Large Regular is the first choice on Google for people searching for "Jim Bowden is an idiot".
Historical Footnote

General Douglas MacAuthur’s first marriage had a big wedding. Over two hundred guests were invited but because of political and family considerations – MacAuthur was only able to invite one close friend. The friend’s name? Buck Wheat (seriously).

No word on how the rest of Our Gang took the snub.
David Wells

Like many others - I mostly wish David Wells would just shut up and pitch but occasionlly Wells says things that interests me. Wells is now on record as saying his goal for the season is 20-wins. Things that make you say hmmmm.

Wells is 42-years old and has only one 20-win season in his 19-year career. What makes him think he can win 20 this year? My guess is the goal has more to do with history than success this year.

Wells needs 18 wins to move into the top 50 all-time (actually into a 4-way tie for 48th place with 245 wins). 19-wins ties him with Hall of Famer Joe McGinty for 47th place and 20 wins ties him with Jack Quinn for 46th place. Wells needs more than 18 wins because Mike Mussina is only 3 wins behind him on the all-time list and will probably finish ahead of Wells when all is said and done just because Mussina is younger and probably has another 2-3 years in the tank.

Wells needs another 95 strikeouts to reach 2,176 and move into the all-time top 50 passing Vida Blue. I think Wells' real goal is to be in the top 50 career in both wins and strikeouts. David Wells may think he has an outside shot at the Hall of Fame. Seriously.

Really - I'm not joking.

Only 7 players who are in both the top 50 in wins and top 50 in strikeouts are not in the Hall of Fame. Three of them are mortal locks to get in - Greg Maddux, Roger Clemens, and Randy Johnson. And the other four are some of the most borderline cases of all time - Bert Blyleven, Jack Morris, Jim Kaat and Tommy John. I don't think that Wells has a better story to tell than any of these four but that doesn't mean that in his own mind Wells hasn't justified his own case.

I don't fault Wells for setting goals for what is probably his final season but I just don't think they are realistic. Mike Mussina will also probably make both lists and I'm not sure if he has a better case to make than Mussina (even though Wells has a 20-win season and Mussina does not - heh heh - Red Sox fans are obligated to bring that up whenever Mussina is mentioned).
Adam Vinatieri

I was surprised as anyone when I heard the news that Adam Vinatieri had signed with the Indianapolis Colts. Upon reflection though - I think this is just one of those things where neither side is wrong (but that also doesn't make either side right).

From Adam's perspective I speculate that the thought process was along the lines of:

- I'm 33-years old and I'm one of the best kickers in the league. I need to get a good contract because at my age it may be my last.
- Last year I added strength to my legs because I was concerned about my kickoffs getting short. The added strength did add a few yards to my kickoffs but my accuracy was the worst its been in years (80%). Going to a dome stadium will prolong my career because it will allow me to kickoff deep enough and yet be as accurate as possible (I have always kicked my best in dome stadiums).
- I could sign with the Patriots for less money but what if I have another bad year? I don't want to become Drew Bledsoe to some young gun's Tom Brady. And with the way Belichick loves competition in training camp - this isn't just paranoia.
- Based upon what I've done for the franchise - shouldn't they overpay me at this point? Its not like its a ton of money compared to a defensive lineman and its not like a defensive lineman can win a game in the final seconds the way I can and have for the Patriots.
- This wasn't personal - it was business.

From the Patriots perspective:

- We love Adam but we have a plan. We can't overpay anyone - no matter who they are and what they did in the past. We can't afford to live in the past and remain competitive at the same time.
- We prefer not to pay any position at the highest rate in the league. That's just our policy.
- Our analysis says that Adam is no longer the best kicker in the league and we can't pay him as the best kicker. The numbers don't lie.

Two things that as a fan I keep thinking of:

1. Tedy Bruschi took a "hometown discount" because the idea of coming to Foxboro in any other uniform than the Patriots was abhorrent to him. Vinatieri obviously did not feel the same way. He made a business decision and good luck to him but that decision has also stripped him of his "specialness" as far as fans are concerned.
2. In the book Patriot Reign - Belichick had a discussion about Lawyer Milloy where someone was talking about all the "big plays" Milloy made the season before and Belichick challenged the assistant coach to show him on film any big plays Milloy made the year before. Milloy was one of the leaders of the team but he was living on reputation and Belichick has since been proven right about that move. Vinatieri may just lead the league in scoring (just as Ty Law led the AFC in interceptions this year) but that doesn't mean that Belichick isn't correct in thinking Vinatieri is past his prime and not worth the salary space for the Patriots.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Bronson Arroyo

I just wanted to add one thing about the Bronson Arroyo trade - I have heard so many Arroyo boosters say that he was clutch or that he had "stones". This impression comes mainly from two things - his fast start with the Red Sox (after getting picked off the waiver wire in 2003 Arroyo had a 2.08 ERA in 6 games for the Sox) and the fact that he was the guy who hit Alex Rodriguez that set off the "smell the glove" fight between him and Jason Varitek.

Fact is Arroyo was just 3-2 with a 7.41 ERA in the post-season. Arroyo may have "stones" but he's not exactly clutch.

Eric at Off Wing Opinion has a poll on who should be the NHL MVP. I voted for Joe Thorton (admittedly a protest vote more than anything).

The Hart Memorial Trophy seems to almost always go to the top scorer in the league (13 out of the last 25 awards have gone to the scoring leader).
Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

Just saying but it was just three years ago that Boston Red Sox shortstop Nomar Garciaparra was SI's Tom Verducci's preseason choice to be AL MVP. Nomar with the Red Sox seems like a lifetime ago now... I don't have much to add about the Alphonso Soriano situation other to say the the only true description of the situation would have to include the words "cluster fuck"... Although I don't have anything to add to the Soriano situation - I do have a prediction; the Nationals trade Soriano to the Mets for Xavier Nady and a prospect. Two days after the trade is completed - Jose Vidro goes down with a season ending injury... Last year at this time Congress was "busy" with hearings on steroids in baseball and Terri Schiavo. I have no idea what Congress is busy with this year.... It has also been a year since Scott Peterson was sentenced to death for killing his wife but as far as I know - he still lives and breathes.... I am so happy that Japan won the World Baseball Classic. I cannot stand Fidel castro and make no mistake a win by the Cuban team would have been a huge PR win for Fidel...

Monday, March 20, 2006

Bronson Arroyo for Wily Mo Pena

Reds and Reds Sox make a trade.

- Sad to see the man named after Charles Bronson traded for someone named after a coyote who could never catch that pesky roadrunner

- I've thought Bronson Arroyo was a bit over-rated by local fans and I also thought that last year he lost his focus on baseball because of his "singing" career. Last year his ERA was 5.08 after the all-star game (which co-incided with Arroyo starting to do his concerts).

- I guess the idea will be to have Pena platoon with Trot Nixon with Pena playing against lefties. However, I have to wonder if Pena will be happy being a part time player. This could be a problem worth keeping an eye on. The saying is "you can never have too much pitching" is repeated for a reason. Having too many outfielders on the other hand can be a problem.

- I feel bad for Dustin Mohr - he deserved to be the 4th outfielder on the big club but now will be playing elsewhere or at Pawtucket.

- has Pena's career OPS+ at 100 (which is exactly average) and Arroyo's ERA+ at 100 (which is also exactly average). I just found that strange.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Sweet Caroline? At Rangers Games?

Rick in Toronto sent me a note that Hockey Night in Canada reports that the Rangers have adopted Sweet Caroline as their "rally song". That's just sad. What's next - are they going to start playing Tessie between periods? Maybe the Rangers can start to steal from other teams and other leagues and have a rally monkey during shoot-outs too. Maybe they can start calling the fans the "12th man" (which makes no sense in hockey but then again many of the Rangers' front office moves make even less sense).

I shouldn't complain too much though because unlike a certain team - the Rangers will make the playoffs and they didn't trade the leading scorer in the league for a box of chocolates. Come to think of it - Neil Diamond is much more New York than Boston anyway. The Rangers can have Sweet Caroline and they can have Tessie too (I'm so sick of that song).
Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

I just thought it should be mentioned that Boston College's Craig Smith (22 points, 14 rebounds yesterday) went to Worcester Academy... Speaking of Worcester - the DCU Center will be host to first round action in the NCAA men's hockey tournament but local team the Holy Cross Crusaders want to get out of town for their playoff game. Considering that the other sites for the tournament are Albany, Green Bay and Grand Forks - the Crusader players should be careful of what they wish for... Kaz Matsui is hurt (again) and the Mets are looking at one of two rookies manning 2nd base come opening day. Omar Minaya should just swallow his pride and call the Red Sox about Tony Graffanino (although he'll end up asking for Alex Cora because Cora speaks Spanish - I'm not even kidding about that). However - if I'm the Sox I only deal Graffanino because they need a back-up at SS and Graff's range isn't what it once was (by the same token - Graff is a huge upgrade for Mets at the plate and in the field over Matsui)... Brewer JJ Hardy was going to be one of my sleeper fantasy picks but a SS with back issues may be too much of a red flag for me... Have you seen the Frosted Flakes box with Nascar's Kyle Busch on the cover? I have to say that Busch justs looks goofy on the cover. I couldn't stop thinking that he looks like the love-child between Oscar the Grouch and Big Bird. I wish I had a link... I went 7-1 in my NCAA picks against the spread yesterday and yes I have a witness. That's the good news. The bad news is that hot day just brought me back to even for the tournament... I'm sick of people caling the NCAA tournamant "the Big Dance". I'm sick of it I tell you. I would much rather if they called it "the NBA pre-draft combine"...

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Ah Poor Le Batard - I Knew Him Not So Well

In the latest issue of ESPN: The Magazine (sorry no link) Dan Le Batard comes close to making excuses for Barry Bonds doing steroids. That's not what spurred me to comment though. In the column Le Batard argues that in 1998 a jealous Bonds was confronted with a "Shakespearean decision" regarding using steroids.

Shakespearean decision? How's that Dan? Was it a Merchant of Venice decision (if you prick Bonds with a hypodermic needle of steroids - does he not bleed)? Or more like a Romeo and Juliet decision (with Bonds being a narcissistic Romeo who needs not a Juliet or at the least buys his mistress Juliet a house in Arizona with undeclared cash)? Maybe it was a King Lear type decision (with Bonds being the doddering king who instead of losing his children uses them as human shields at press conferences)?

Just what sort of Shakespearean decision did Bonds have to make Dan? Fact is it was a poor choice of phrase in a poorly thought out and poorly written column. But then again - that's what we've come to expect from the uber jock sniffer Le Batard who wouldn't know a Shakespearean turn of phrase if it bit him in the ass.
Tom Cruise vs. South Park

Reports are that Tom Cruise pressured Viacom into forcing Comedy Central not to show a re-run of the South Park episode that skewered Cruise's religious beliefs and sexuality. Supposedly Cruise threatened to boycott making a PR tour for his new Mission Impossible III movie this summer if Comedy Central showed the "Trapped in the Closet" South Park episode again. I tuned in Wednesday night just to see that episode and when it wasn't on I was kinda pissed.

Here's the rub - if I'm Paramount I'm wondering if I want Tom Cruise to do a PR tour for the movie in the first place. When he did the PR tour for War of the Worlds - it was a disaster. You had him turning into a crazy couch monkey on Oprah and then challenging Matt Lauer about who knows what about psychology. If I'm Paramount - I want Cruise to stay home show and so I run the "Trapped in the Closet" episode over and over. Right now you know that every interview for the new movie is going to have questions about Scientology and South Park. Its a lose lose situation for Viacom.

Hail Xenu!!

EDIT: Off Wing Opinion tackled the issue yesterday. Once again I'm a day late nd a buck short.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations on St. Patrick's Day.

I'm still shocked that Boston College covered the spread in their OT win over Pacific. Was there anyone out there who thought they would cover the 8 point spread when Pacific went up by 6 in the first OT?... There's not many times when I agree with John Kerry but this is one of them. I agree that the former head of the Big Dig in Boston, Richard Capka has no place in government and certainly no place where there are federal funds at stake... Hey did you know that yesterday was Erik Estrada's birthday? Did you know his real first name was Henry? You should check out his web site for some laughs (his site lists his eyes as "brown and gleaming)... The wins by Canada and Mexico over team USA in the World Baseball Classic mean more to those countries than what team USA winning it all would have meant to the US... I think the Blue Jays made a smart move in signing Roy Halliday to an extension and I wonder how great the Red Sox would have been if they had made the same type move with Pedro Martinez (signing him to a 3-year extension before his contract was up instead of taking the chance of letting him become a free agent). Can you imagine a top three rotaion of Pedro, Schilling and Burnett? Kudos to JP Riccardi on this move... I did lousy on my NCAA picks yesterday so I won't even offer any up today although I will say that I'll be rooting for Bucknell today... Happy St. Patrick's Day everyone!!!
Westphal Fired by Pepperdine - Please Give DJ a Chance

Paul Westfal was fired as men's basketball coach by Pepperdine. I know that the university will probably try and get the "hot" coach from a mid-major team playing in the NCAA tournament (like Bruce Pearl from last year) but I'd like to suggest Dennis Johnson for the job. DJ went to Pepperdine and had been honing his coaching skill as an assistant in the NBA before getting the reins of the Clippers for a little while in the 2003 season. DJ is by far the most famous basketball alum of Perpperdine and I think he deserves a serious look.
Saint Patrick

Today is Saint Patrick's Day and it should be remembered that Saint Patrick was first and foremost a religious figure. I always found "Saint Patrick's Shield" to be one of the finest examples of religious inspiration ever written. It was called his shield because it gave him the courage to deal with the pagans in Ireland unarmed but unafraid and this really made an impression on the pagans. For those not familiar with what I'm talking about - here it is:
I bind unto myself today the strong name of the trinity, by invocation of the same, the Three in One, the One in Three.

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

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

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

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

Thursday, March 16, 2006

March Madness

Today's sign of the day is brought to you by Pauly at the Tao of Poker (where he's posted his best bets for the day).

I agree with Pauly on the San Diego State, LSU and Marquette picks and would add Wisconsin-Milwaukee (+2.5) and Belmont (+18.5) to round out my fab 5 picks for the day.
The Haka is Awesome

Check out the video over at Off Wing. The Haka is one of the most inspiring traditions in sports. Each time I see it I feel like I did after seeing Rocky for the first time.

On the other hand - the Tomahawk Chop is just stupid. I think Norman Chad put it best (and I paraphrase) when he dared anyone to do the Tomahawk Chop into a mirror at home without feeling like an idiot.

BTW - is it me or is the guy leading the Haka Tedy Bruschi's doppelganger?
Worth Remembering

In regard to the war in Iraq - I always have this paragraph written by Andrew Sullivan back in March of 2003 in the back of my head when people argue with me that going into Iraq was a mistake:
Sanctions are inevitably the cornerstone of containment, and in Iraq, sanctions kill. In this case, containment is not an alternative to war. Containment is war: a slow, grinding war in which the only certainty is that hundreds of thousands of civilians will die. The Gulf War killed somewhere between 21,000 and 35,000 Iraqis, of whom between 1,000 and 5,000 were civilians. Based on Iraqi government figures, UNICEF estimates that containment kills roughly 5,000 Iraqi babies (children under 5 years of age) every month, or 60,000 per year. Other estimates are lower, but by any reasonable estimate containment kills about as many people every year as the Gulf War - and almost all the victims of containment are civilian, and two-thirds are children under 5. Each year of containment is a new Gulf War. Saddam Hussein is 65; containing him for another 10 years condemns at least another 360,000 Iraqis to death. Of these, 240,000 will be children under 5.
I'm always bothered by the fact that the main stream media seems to bring up Abu Ghraib at every opportunity but the children's prisons our soldiers uncovered are never mentioned.

BTW - in hindsight it is amazing that a "chimp mind" like Bush could dupe all those Democratic senators and folks like Andrew Sullivan into supporting the war. Or maybe - just maybe - we went into Iraq for the right reasons.
Will McDonough Remembered

Sheriff Sully has an excellent remeberence of Will McDonough.

I used to buy the Boston Globe specifically to read the great sportswriters like McDonough and Peter Gammons. Now the Globe has writers like Dan Shaughnessey and Ron Borges who make me feel disgusted with myself if I pay anything for the paper.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Saddam Hussein's March Madness Basketball Picks

Everyone is caught up in filling out their brackets for the upcoming NCAA basketball tournament popularly known as March Madness. Exhibit A of the popularity of the tournament is Saddam Hussein, the evil dictator who is currently on trial for his life but who has still has found time to fill out his picks. A Large Regular was lucky enough to be granted an exclusive interview with the butcher of Baghdad.

ARL: Thank you for granting us this time. Many people would be surprised that you would be interested in American college basketball. How long have you been filling out brackets for the tournament?

SH: Oh for a long time. I heard that Richard Nixon used to do it and I wanted to prove that I was better than Nixon in picking winners plus I like the challenge. If this tournament was held in Iraq and my son Uday was alive - the number one seeds would be too scared to lose a game and filling out the brackets would be easy. It is more interesting this way.

ALR: I know our time is short - so why don't we get straight to the picks. Who do you like in the Atlanta bracket?

SH: I see George Washington being the only first round favorite to lose. GW is a bigger fraud than Gehard Schroeder. I can see Texas falling to West Virginia and Syracuse ending their improbable run against Duke with Duke beating the Mountaineers like out of town Kurds to move on to the final four. Let me say something about two of the coaches in this bracket. Jim Boeheim has made me rethink some of my methods. If Jim Boeheim was an Iraqi he long ago would have visited Qasr-al-Nihayyah (the Palace of the End) for ruining so many of my brackets over the years and his national championship never would have happened. I think a lot about that in prison. Let me also say that if I had to do it all over again - I think I would like to be an assistant coach at Duke. Mike Krzyzewski could have taught me a lot about how to be a successful dictator.

ALR: Well that was umm... interesting. What about the Oakland bracket?

SH: Indiana gets beat by San Diego and UCLA beats Belmont but does not cover in the first round. I think Pittsburgh will eventually beat Kansas but Memphis will not be able to beat either the Panthers or the Jayhawks. John Calipari - a curse be upon his mustache. Gonzaga may have the easiest route to the final four they ever had but like Memphis - they will not be able to beat either Pittsburgh or Kansas. And speaking about cursed mustaches - how about that Adam Morrison? He makes me think of Kiki Vandeweghe.

ALR: So you have Pittsburgh coming out of Oakland or maybe Kansas. What about the D.C. bracket?

SH: Seton Hall is my sleeper pick. I just like their initials. I see them playing UConn in the regional finals with the Huskies moving on to the final four.

ALR: And the Minneapolis bracket?

SH: I can see Georgetown beating the Ohio State University in the second round and Florida in the third round. Villanova will beat Boston College in the third round and beat Georgetown in the regional finals.

ALR: So you have Villanova, UConn, Pittsburgh and Duke making the final four. Who did you pick to win it all?

SH: I think UConn is the deepest team and they should win it all but if Villanova beats UConn - then they take home the championship. But my money is on UConn. Not even an evil dictator like myself can root for Duke. I just hope I'm still alive to see the final game.

ALR: Well I never thought I'd agree with you on anything but I have to agree with you on UConn and Villanova but to be honest - as far as I'm concerned you can't die quick enough or painfully enough. I'm hoping your last meal is a box of razor blades.
Interesting Bit of History

I love historical tidbits like this. It's a shame Thomas Jones did not live to see the film about his pancake adventure.
Bonds is a Cheat - Is There Any Doubt?

Jeff Pearlman has a new biography coming out on Barry Bonds called Love Me, Hate Me: Barry Bonds and the Making of an Antihero. ESPN has an excerpt from the book on their site.

Most have focused on the dinner at Ken Griffey Jr's house where Bonds announced that he was going "hard-core" on steroids to compete with Sosa and McGwire. What really got my attention was this bit (emphasis added):
Within the Giants' clubhouse, Bonds' transformation was met with skepticism. His face was bloated. His forehead and jaw were substantially larger. "And the zits," says Jay Canizaro, who played 55 games as a Giants infielder in 1996 and '99. "Hell, he took off his shirt the first day and his back just looked like a mountain of acne. Anybody who had any kind of intelligence or street smarts about them knew Barry was using some serious stuff."
Teammates recognized what was going on right away but we never heard anything from sportwriters who were covering baseball at the time. I agree with Jay Canizaro that they either were plain stupid or street stupid not to notice or else they just turned a blind eye - maybe they didn't want to be impolite. I'm starting to think they were stupid.

You can pre-order Pearlman's book below (and please note that Game of Shadows has been added to the book advertisements at the top of the blog).

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

FBI 10 Most Wanted Program - A Failure?

On this date in 1950 - the FBI began its 10 Most Wanted Program. Since its inception, of the people who have been featured in the 10 Most Wanted - only 147 have been captured. That's just more than 2.6 arrests per year. Color me unimpressed.

According to the History Channel website - as of May 1998, 454 fugitives had appeared on the FBI 10 Most Wanted List and I think as of May of 1998 only 130 had been captured. That's an arrest rate of just under 29%. With just 17 more arrests in the 101 months since May of 1998 (about one every 6 months) - the program's arrest rate seems to be dropping quickly and I have to wonder if you would have to call this program a failure.

Now my numbers may be wrong but I have to wonder if the FBI's 10 Most Wanted is more of a PR success than a criminal justice success. Seriously - consider that being named to the FBI's Top 10 Most Wanted List means that the chances of not going caught is more than double the chance of getting caught.
Isaac Hayes Leaving South Park

Isaac Hayes who plays Jerome "Chef" McElroy on South Park is leaving the show. Hayes is leaving mainly because the show poked fun of Scientology - the "applied religious philosophy" that Hayes believes in.

Hayes leaving the show opens up many questions. Will the show just drop him like Seasame Street did with the black guy who was dating Maria but then got arrested for rape in real life? Will they hire someone else to do the voice (booo)? Who will make sweet love to the women of the show down by the fire now that Chef is gone? If they kill him off - will someone say, "You killed chef - you bastards?"

Maybe it's just me but I find it funny that the same show that made so much money for Hayes that he could co-sponsor inner city outreach Scientology programs is also the same show that exposed Scientology for being the sack of lies that it is.

So many questions.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Edward "Butch" O'Hare

Today would have been Butch O'Hare's birthday. He would have been 92 today.

If you don't know about this American hero - read this.
Miguel Tejada and Steroids

Just thought this nugget from ESPN the Magazine's Fantasy Baseball Preview was worth noting:
He never experienced a power outage of such magnitude as he did in August and September. It's all circumstantial, but take note that prior to the Palmeiro bust, his OPS was .965; after, it was .699. Dock him a spot for it.
It should be noted that Tejada was named in Jose Canseco's book as one of the steroids users in MLB.
March Madness NCAA Men's Basketball Odds

Here are the odds on the top teams in this year's field of 64 (actually 65).

Connecticut 5/2
Duke 4/1
Villanova 5/1
Memphis 10/1
North Carolina 10/1
UCLA 12/1
Texas 14/1
Ohio State 15/1
Boston College 18/1
Florida 20/1
Gonzaga 20/1
Illinois 20/1
Kansas 20/1
Pittsburgh 25/1
Tennessee 25/1
LSU 28/1
Michigan State 30/1
Iowa 35/1
Georgetown 40/1
West Virginia 40/1

The biggest longshots are Monmouth, Oral Roberts and Southern at 1,500/1 each.

If you put $100 on the 10 teams from Memphis to Kansas and prayed that UConn, Duke and Villanova get knocked off (a good chance in this field) - you could make some pretty good cash (or break even with Memphis and UNC).
Books You Should Read

A poll of British librarians has come up with this list of books you should read before you die. To Kill a Mockingbird tops the list followed by the Bible and The Lord of the Rings.

Of the 30 books on the list - I have read 10 (but I have read 7 of those 10 multiple times). I have some reading to do.

HT LargeBill
Sports Guy on Paul Pierce

Bill Simmons is starting to piss me off. Yeah it is nice that Paul Pierce is getting his recognition but with Simmons it always comes with some "yeah buts".

Yes Paul Pierce is playing the best basketball of his career and the Celtics are a very fun team to watch right now "yeah but" lets not give any credit for this to the coach. Remember that Simmons was the guy who called for Doc Rivers to be fired a few weeks back. Now that the Celtics are the hot team - does Rivers get any credit at all? Not from the "Sports Guy" because as Captain Quint would say, "It proves that you wealthy college boys don't have the education enough to admit when you're wrong."

Everyone agrees that Pierce is playing the best basketball of his career but leave it to Simmons to add the "yeah but let me tell you why." Simmons goes on to expound that Pierce is finally come to grips with being stabbed and almost killed in 2000. I would give a good amount of some of my hard earned cash if Simmons would have the "intestinal fortitude" to get a press pass, go into the Celtics locker room and ask Pierce if he's having his best year because he's finally come to grips with being stabbed. Pierce looking at Simmons with a "are you for real? What kind of fruit-loop, jackass question was that?" expression would be priceless.

Of course Simmons would never do that. He can just sit thousands of miles away and psychoanalize Pierce and at the same time just throw in that he thinks Jose Canseco is a "bottom-feeder." Well I got news for you Billy-boy - if you want to see a real bottom feeder - just look in the mirror.
Gypsy Moth Caterpillars

Experts are predicting that this year will see a large infestation throughout New England of gypsy moth caterpillars. The last major infestation was back in 1979-81 when I was in middle school and just starting high school. Back then you almost literally couldn't take a step outside without stepping on a caterpillar.

My favorite gypsy moth caterpillar story involves $2 and change, a caterpillar and poison ivy. My buddy Tom on a dare ate a gypsy moth caterpillar for $2 and change. The bad thing for Tom was the caterpillar he chose to consume happened to be a caterpillar that had previously been crawling on poison ivy. Tom ended up with poison ivy on the inside of his throat. Now Tom is a cop and carries a gun.

Just thought I'd share.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

West Wing Thoughts

The first new West Wing I've seen in quite some time and it opens with Santos pulling even with Vinnick in the polls just before the presidential election (Vinnick lost many independent voters because of the nuclear accident in California) but more importantly - the show opened with Josh and Donna throwing off their long time pretense that there wasn't something between them - giving each other a long passionate kiss. The three things I thought when this happened were:

1. With the show winding down - Josh and Donna potentially consummating their long-time platonic relationship makes not just a good story line but also a pretty good spin off potential. I could tune into a Josh and Donna Show (that would be better than 95% of the shows currently in prime time).

2. The kiss took place first thing in the morning with Josh just waking up. All I could think of was the awful morning breath he must have had.

3. Seeing Leo (John Spenser) come into the room was a real bring down. I miss Leo.

With Vinnick's campaign stumbling it looks like the blame is going to be put on Ron Silver's Bruno. That's too bad. It gives the Democratic Party leanings of the show an easy out. The Vinnick campaign has to sacrifice his heart (Patricia Richardson - the mom from Home Improvement) and its brain (Bruno) and steer hard right but this causes the campaign to crash on the rocks come election day. If only they had listened to the centrist lifelong Democrat Bruno and kept the heart of the campaign - they would have won the race. You can almost see it coming - I hate when they get so predictable like when Toby was the leak.

The War in Kazhakstan seems strange. One of the options nobody mentioned (probably because it would never occur to the lefty writers) would to be call the bluff and if China and Russia want a war - let them have at it. I find it amusing that the strategic value of Kazhakstan is oil and the US under Bartlett is going to war over oil (didn't they ever hear of "No blood for oil"?).

I'll be sad when the show runs its course but it is time.


1. Josh and Donna get serious.

2. CJ and Danny get serious.

3. Toby and Sam come back for a psuedo reunion show.

4. Santos has to face a story about a long ago affair right before the election but wins anyway because the voters want a leader and they don't care who he was getting a blow job from.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Hmmmmm....Donut Burgers

This idea was marketing genius:
We kid you not. The Gateway Grizzlies of the Frontier League promised to create "Baseball's Best Burger" in time for the team's opener in late May. And they appear to have succeeded.

The ballpark sandwich will include a hamburger topped with sharp cheddar cheese and two slices of bacon -- all between a "bun" made of a sliced Krispy Kreme Original Glazed doughnut.

If you can find a (loop)hole in your cardiologist's advice, calorie counters predict the monster will set you back about 1,000 calories and 45 grams of fat.
Even if the idea sounds gross to you - I bet if you went to a Grizzlies game that you'd buy one of these donut burgers just to say you had one. This idea will be a huge success.

HT Sports Frog

Friday, March 10, 2006

HPV Vaccine, Cancer, Kids and Sex

Instapundit brings up a subject that my wife and I have discussed recently - the HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine. HPV is currently the cause of most cases of cervical cancer and cervical cancer is the second most common form of cancer in women (behind breast cancer). Nearly 4,000 women die of cervical cancer in the US each year. HPV also causes most cases of genital warts as well - so this isn't just a women's issue.

A vacine to cure these ills sounds great - right? There are issues, however, such as:

- In order for the vaccine to be successful it is really necessary to inoculate before a person is sexually active. In practice this means inoculating children for STDs. Most states already require a round of inoculations which include Hepatitis B, which is normally a sexually transmitted disease (you can also get it from blood - like in sharing needles but if kids are sharing needles they have worse issues then the threat of genital warts or Hep B). The point is a precedent has been set. But is it a good precedent?

- The words "with few side effects" scares the bejeebus out of some parents and rightly so. Are the odds of side effects greater than the odds of catching HPV when using a condom? I don't know the answer to that one and I think it is telling that the word "condom" does not appear at all in The New Republic article Instapundit linked to.

- Who is going to pay for these vacines and how much will they cost? Merck and GlaxoSmithKline are not non-profit companies. Steven Groopman makes a compelling return on investment argument:
But each year, 4.7 million American women require one or more follow-up appointments for an abnormal pap result, and at least 3 million of these cases result from having HPV. The cost of these appointments to the individual (and to our already overburdened health care system) quickly adds up. A 2003 Stanford study suggested that the cost of inoculating people against the disease would be far smaller than the current cost to the health care system associated with HPV.
That may be true but are taxpayers footing the bill for those follow-up pap smear tests today? Could the HPV inoculation come at the same time as the other inoculations a child has to undergo to go to school or would it require a separate trip? If it was a separate trip - wouldn't those costs equal or outweigh the saving from the reduced follow-up pap smear appointments? Many questions remain that still need to be answered about costs and who pays.

- Religious and ethical issues about the governments role in the sex lives of teenagers. Goopman's article seems to be saying that only the hysterical religious right and their cause of abstinence are against this which isn't necessarily true. The article doesn't even touch the "nanny state" issue. Like mandatory seatbelts - mandatory vaccines and other "for your own good" laws are not appealing to some people. Why not leave it up to parents and teenagers to decide?

The New Republic article should be read if for nothing else to see a comparison between abstinence and communism in print (seriously). However, I think it doesn't address many underlying issues involved and cannot be viewed as anything that even comes close to examining both sides of the argument. Hell - it doesn't even mention that GlaxoSmithKline has a similar vaccine. That leaves me wondering if Groopman's article is nothing more than a Merck PR shill in sheeps clothing.
Paul Pierce

Its good to see Paul Pierce get some national recognition with this piece by Ian Thomsen at However, even though Thomsen places Pierce among the handful of best players in the NBA right now - he doesn't bring up the idea of Pierce for MVP. Think about it. Pierce probably means more to his team than any other player in the NBA (even Kobe). I'm not saying he should win the award - I am saying he should get more votes than Allen Iverson and some of the other "name" players.

As an aside - Pierce led the NBA in scoring in Feebruary. That's only the second time a Celtic has done that. The first Boston player to lead the NBA in scoring for a month was John Havlicek. A good bar bet is to ask someone to guess how many Celtic players have won the NBA scoring title over the years. The answer is zero - but almost nobody would guess or knows this.
What the Blank Was That Indeed!

Make sure you watch (and more importantly listen) to the end of this clip.

ESPN - The World Wide Leader in FCC Violations.
Origins of a Catchphrase

Read what Vanderleun has to say about a certain catchphrase.

He jokes at the end that he may never use that phrase again but I really may not. Now I'd be creeped out to use it.
Barry Bonds vs. Wade Boggs

Many people want to know if Barry Bonds will be able to pass Babe Ruth in home runs this year but I think the more telling milestone will be if Barry Bonds can pass Wade Boggs. Bonds needs 41 more at bats to pass Wade Boggs' 9181 to move into 49th place on the all-time list.

The reason I think this mark is important is because last year Bonds only managed a total of 42 AB for the entire season (and 5 HR out of those AB). If Bonds is able to match the AB and HR from last season - he will pass Boggs on the AB list but will be one short of Babe Ruth's HR mark of 714 HR. If Bonds blows past Boggs in AB - then chances are he also passes Ruth in HR.

My guess is that Bonds does not pass Boggs - never mind Ruth.
The Bruins Trade Samsonov - I Now Want Them to Lose Every Game

The Boston Bruins traded Sergei Samsonov to the Edmonton Oilers yesterday. In return the Bruins get centers Marty Reasoner and Yan Stastny and a second-round pick in this year's draft. Make no mistake though, this was a money move. Samsonov made about $2.5 million this year and is a free agent at the end of the season. The Bruins traded him in order to save a few dollars during the rest of the season and nobody will be able to convince me otherwise.
"Part of it was the uncertainty of not being able to sign him," [Boston GM Mike] O'Connell said, adding that he did not attempt to negotiate an extension for Samsonov.
Samsonov is a highly skilled player whose offensive moves can only be described as "nifty" (which in Boston is code for Rick Middletonesque). Samsonov would have cost the Bruins a pretty penny to resign which is why they did not even try. Let me repeat. They did not even attempt to negotiate an extension for Samsonov.

This is truly the stick that broke the camel's back for me. Like many former Bruins fans - I can no longer stomach Jeremy Jacobs cheapskate ways. I now want the 'Ruins to lose every game and will be actively rooting against them. I don't want one penny of playoff money from attendance or concessions to line the pockets of Scrooge McJabobs.

The Bruins will try to spin this move as a trade for "depth" as they make a final playoffs push. The Edmonton Oilers are also making a final playoff push too - yet they traded for a skill player not spare cheap parts.

Samsonov was a fan favorite. He was a good player and a good citizen. Now he's gone.

The other night I was out and I had to ask to have the Bruins game put on (the Celtics were on all three HD screens at the bar). The 'Ruins were playing Buffalo (a game they lost 3-2) and my friend Tim mentioned that in the 70's and 80's he used to be able to name every 'Ruin player but now he would be lucky to name five. With the trade of Samsonov - there's one less that a fan like Tim could name. That is a huge problem. 'Ruins fans don't root for laundry. We won't root for a player just because his jersey has a spoked "B" on the front. A line like "Who are these guys?" might be catchy in a Butch and Sundance movie but its no marketing slogan for a hockey team.

My name is Chris Lynch and I used to be a Boston Bruins fan. Now I hope they lose every game and I vow never to pay to see the team play as long as Jeremy Jacobs is the owner of the team.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Battle of the Ironclads

To young students of history - one of the coolest events of the Civil War happened on this date in 1864. On this date the South's Merrimac (aka CSS Virginia) took on the Union's Monitor. I think this was the best rendering of the battle.

The battle of the ironclads ended in a draw as neither ship's cannons could penetrate the iron defense of the other. This battle to me marks the birth of modern navies and should be noted and remembered (plus it was a cool battle).
Barry Bonds Defense

I predicted that the defense of Barry Bonds would consist of attacking the attackers and playing the race card. It only took one day for me to be proven right. Bonds' lawyer, Michael Rains begins the attack on the credibility on the sources of information for the new Game of Shadows book:
Although most of the authors' supposed 200 or so "sources" for this book remain anonymous, we know and understand that one of the most prominent sources is a woman who previously attempted to extort Barry for money, and who, after that failed, told Geraldo Rivera that she never saw Barry take illegal or performance-enhancing drugs, but explained that her source of knowledge supposedly came from conversations she had with him -- conversations she intended to report in her soon-to-be published (and yet to be published) book.
It will be pretty tough to taint the credibility of all 200 sources but it won't be from lack of trying by Bonds' defense team. Then Willy McCovey plays the race card:
"Knowing what I have gone through in sports, there are always those little, you know, racial overtones," said McCovey, a black man who started his career in the segregated south of the 1950s and broke into major league ball with the Giants.

"I don't think it would be this big a deal if McGwire was still playing and was in the same shoes chasing that record," he said of McGwire, who is white. "I don't think they would be spending all this time to dig all this dirt up on him."
It should be noted that McCovey is described as a senior advisor to Bonds. I'm betting that's a paid position and would it be a surprise that people on Bonds' payroll are defending him? It should also be noted that when McGwire testified under oath to Congress - he took the 5th instead of lying. As I keep hammering home - it will be the lying to the grand jury that nails Bonds instead of the actual use of banned substances.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

So Bugsy Seigel, Hermann Goering and Joseph Goebbels Walk Into a Bar

I love the Internets for nuggets like this.

Oh what might have been if Bugsy went to the mattresses with the Nazis.
Kirby Puckett

All you need to know about Puckett's death is encapsulated in this article.

- Puckett was a organ donor
- His ex-wife was at his bedside when he died (which says a lot about how she felt about him)
- His weight was not responsible for his stroke

Not sure what the process is in the state you live in but in Massachusetts please check the box that says "Organ Donor" when you renew your license. The life you save after you're gone may be someone you love.
Happy Birthday Jim Ed

Today is Jim Rice's 52nd birthday. Happy birthday Jim! Let's hope that next year for your birthday you get inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame - an honor you richly deserve (no man has averaged a .300 batting average over a 10-year span and not been elected - except Jim Ed so far).

I can only hope that the scandal around Barry Bonds helps reminder the voters what a real smasher looks like.
Heh Heh

Quite possibly the funniest image I've seen on the Internets. (Maybe its just me.)


Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Barry Bonds - Busted

A new book called Game of Shadows by Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams lays out the case that Barry Bonds was a steroids cheat from 1998 on. You can read an excerpt from the book at

Barry Bonds bothers me on many levels.

It really bothers me when people tag him as the greatest hitter in baseball history. That title belongs to Ted Williams and Ted Williams alone. Williams gave up the prime years of his life to fight in two wars but still managed a career .344 batting average and 521 career home runs. I fear that the only thing Barry Bonds gave up was any semblance of honor and just maybe the latter years of his life (judging by the early deaths prevalent among steroid abusing wrestlers).

Bonds also bothers me as a person. He just seems like the consummate jerk. Being a jerk is not against the law though. That is unless your ego makes you believe that you can do as you please and act like a jerk to whoever you like and lie and dissemble to even a grand jury. Oh wait a minute - that is against the law. And if this book is accurate - isn't that what Barry Bonds did? Didn't he lie to a grand jury? Didn't he obstruct justice?

Isn't that the same thing that Martha Stewart (a white woman) did? And isn't that what Scooter Libby (a white man) is being charged with? I added the sex and race of Martha and Scooter because you know at some point someone (*cough* Barry Bonds *cough*) will play the race card and say, "they're just going after Barry because he's black." Tell that to Martha and Scooter.

Baseball won't do anything to Barry Bonds but Barry Bonds won't play baseball anymore. He'll pretend to make an attempt to play just so he gets the money from the final year of his contract. Maybe he'll make token appearances but Barry is done with baseball.

I hope that baseball writers finally strap on a pair of balls and make Barry answer questions (I'd be happy with a string of "no comments" from Barry as long as people are pestering him with questions).

My guess is that Barry may play 5-15 games this year but will also soon spend 5 months in jail for obstruction of justice (he received immunity but that doesn't extend to perjury or obstruction).
Kirby Puckett - RIP

There's a saying that states, "Every sinner has a future and every saint has a past." Kirby Puckett was considered to be a baseball saint until a set of allegations wiped out all that was good about him in many people's minds. Now he also has no future because at age 45 he's dead after a massive stroke.

I hadn't thought about Kirby Puckett in a long time and chances are he would have continued in the obscurity of my consciousness. Now that he's dead I don't know what to think about him. I'm mostly sad for his children. But I'm also confused about what else to think.

Kirby was the favorite player of many Minnesotans my age - and with good reason. There was one small window of time where it looked like Kirby might sign with the Red Sox as a free agent. If that happened - I'm sure my outlook on Kirby would be very different (unless he pulled a Mike Torrez in the Red Sox uniform).

I won't rehash the allegations against Puckett but I will say that one thing always rung hollow. His ex-wife said that she was the only reason that Kirby had such a squeaky clean image as a player. That she ran a constant PR campaign in his behalf. Anyone who saw Puckett play in his prime knew that Puckett's play and enthusiasm spoke for itself.

I will say that part of me is glad that he died after the massive stroke. In a way that was easier for the family. Chances are Puckett, if he survived, would have become a burden on his family and the mental and financial drain that would have caused would have shortly been more than Puckett could bear.

First Jeff Reardon and now Kirby Puckett. Am I the only one wondering if there is another shoe to drop to make the 80's Twins trifecta complete?

Catholics are taught to learn from the lives of saints. If Puckett was a baseball saint then I guess the lessons we could learn would be to live your life with enthusiasm, never mistreat a woman and keep yourself in shape. It should be noted that Puckett's final act was one of generosity as his organs were donated so that Kirby in a way could continue to do good after he was gone. That is definitely another example we can learn from.

EDIT: Big Stupid Tommy remembers Kirby Puckett

Monday, March 06, 2006

Saint Patrick's Day

Another big holiday coming up is St. Patrick's Day (which is always a big hit in the Lynch household). Some facts you may not have known about St. Patrick:

St. Patrick was not Irish. He was a British Celt, first enslaved in Ireland as a teen. He was later a missionary to Ireland after converting to Christianity. He was not an Italian but was a Roman citizen. So technically the most Irish of holidays is named after an English guy (oh the irony).

St. Patrick was also not necessarily the first Christian missionary to Ireland.

No one knows the day Patrick was born or the day that he died. March 17th is traditionally considered to be one of the two but there is no documentation to support this.

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

There were never any snakes or other reptiles in Ireland for Patrick to chase out. That's a myth.

Patrick predates the Roman Catholic Church, and was considered a "saint" (or holy man) before the Roman church created its canon (list) of saints. They then added him to it.
Big Holiday Coming Up

Just a reminder that a big holiday is coming up (or is that going down?).

Don't forget that March 14th is National Steak and BJ Day!
The Oscars

It used to be that I had see every film that was nominated for Best Picture by the time the Oscars came around but for a variety of reasons I did not see a single film that was nominated this year (except Cinderella Man - was that up for Best Picture?). Some quick thoughts:

- I don't see as many movies as I used to mainly because I have other priorities and other entertainment options. For instance - yesterday my son and I picked up a new Legend of Zelda game and I spent from 8:30 to 11:30 playing it (instead of watching the Oscars).

- The movies I do like to go see like Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire or The Chronicles of Narnia are entertainment and don't get nominated for awards. The movies Hollywood loves - I usually have no desire to see. Part of the problem is that Hollywood is out of ideas. Movies like Starsky and Hutch, Dukes of Hazzard and The Pink Panther are perfect examples. Another part of the problem is Hollywood's self love with their own political agenda. I don't care and won't pay to be preached to and I'm not alone (just look at all the flops with political "messages").

- Ben Stein hits the nail on the head again when he mentions that not once last night was there a "shout out" to the troops:
I did not see every second of it, but my wife did, and she joins me in noting that there was not one word of tribute, not one breath, to our fighting men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan or to their families or their widows or orphans. There were pitifully dishonest calls for peace -- as if the people we are fighting were interested in any peace for us but the peace of the grave. But not one word for the hundreds of thousands who have served and are serving, not one prayer or moment of silence for the dead and maimed.

Basically, the sad truth is that Hollywood does not think of itself as part of America, and so, to Hollywood, the war to save freedom from Islamic terrorists is happening to someone else. It does not concern them except insofar as it offers occasion to mock or criticize George Bush. They live in dreamland and cannot be gracious enough to thank the men and women who pay with their lives for the stars' ability to live in dreamland. This is shameful.
Shameful is one way to put it and stupid is another. Who wants to see "message movies" from ego maniac high school dropouts? Its bad business. Stupid business. These people don't know what "middle America" wants to see or cares about - its really that simple. We want hamburgers with onions and they try to sell us Soy burgers with alfalfa

- Finally let me say that I was not surprised to see Crash win Best Picture because these awards are basically popularity contests and Crash had a much bigger cast than Brokeback Mountain. You can be sure that many people voted for Crash simply because they knew someone who was in it.