Sunday, April 30, 2006

A Night Out With Harry and the Potters

Tonight I "chaperoned" my daughter and two friends down to Ralph's Chadwick Square Diner to see Harry and the Potters. A good time was had by all.

Ralph was one of the few people in Worcester to deserve to be known by a single name. Ralph's was bought by Vincent, who coincidently owns Vincent's (aka Remote Office Bravo). Vincent is also maybe the second of three current Worcesterites to be recognized by a single name (the third being Jordan - as in Jordan Levy the former Mayor and radio host - not to be confused with Michael Jordan who around here is recognized as the fourth greatest basketball player in history behind Bill Russell, Larry Bird and Bob Cousy).

It was an excellent show. There were three warm up bands, the best of which was The Beatings out of Boston. The main act - The Harry Potters were just great. I had been hearing songs like "Save Genny Weasley" and "Wizard Chess" around the Lynch household for weeks. The two performers were just awesome. The best way I could explain it would be the analogy of if They Might Be Giants were constained to a single subject.

Technically it was not my daughter's first "rock" concert since she had seen Britney Spears in the past. We are all willing to forget that though - so I reflected on my first rock concert which happened to be Warren Zevon at WPI. My girlfriend's mom had to drive us since both of us were too young to have a licence. I had to explain to my girl's mom that Zevon was the guy who wrote "Poor, Poor, Pitiful Me" for Linda Rondstadt. Without saying - there was not too much "action" on the ride home.

One of the guys at Ralph's mentioned that his first concert was to see of all people - Tiffany. I guess his younger sister really wanted to go and since an extra ticket was cheaper than a babysitter - he tagged along. The funny thing is - the guy is colorblind and his parents bought him a T-shirt from the concert. He told his parents any color except pink would be OK (since Tiffany was pretty hot). Of course the only color they had was pink. Since he was color blind - they just told him it was "white". Needless to say he has been scarred by the event ever since.
Captain Stubbing's Glass Eye

Catching up with my Pauly and I had a great laugh at this bit from Thursday's post:
I started up a conversation with the guy to my left who looked like Captain Stubbing from the Love Boat. I'm usually friendly at the table and old guys normally like to talk, especially if they are lonely or have wives that drive them nuts. I particularly like talking to the guy on my left to seek out information and get a better indication of the his style of play. Is he going to let me steal his blinds? Will my raises get him to fold a marginal hand? Has he been drinking? Running bad? Getting lucky? You'll never find out unless you open your mouth.

Within a few minutes he offered me $100 to guess which one of his eyes was a glass eye. I figured I was getting set up so I counter offered $20. He thought about it for a few hands then agreed. Capt. Stubbing and I stood up as I tried to win $20 guessing which eye was fake. It was his left eye and that was my initial gut reaction. According to Malcolm Gladwell's book Blink, he said that we usually make up our minds within the first few seconds and that we should go with that gut feeling since more often than not, it's usually the correct. I inspected his right eye then left once again.

"It's your left eye," as I pointed to the eye that looked fake.

"You sure?" he said offering me a chance to change my mind. Capt. Stubbing tried to mess with my head.

"I'm positive," I answered confidently.

"OK, let's go," as he walked to the bathroom.

When we got in, Capt. Stubbing washed his hands then nonchalantly pulled his right eye out of the socket. I dropped a $20 bill on the counter and walked out. I'm running so bad in prop bets that I can't even pick out a glass eye.
Be sure to read the whole thing - especially the bit about "the tourist". That's a new phrase that I'll be adding to my poker lexicon.
Baseball Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous baseball thoughts and observations.

How about those streaking Reds? 9-1 in their last 10 and the best record in all of baseball. The bad news is their hot start still only puts them 1 game up on the Cardinals (and they would only be 1.5 games ahead of Houston for the Wild Card)... I really think the Rockies can win the NL West this year... You have to hand it to Moises Alou at almost 40-years old - he is still lighting it up in the bigs. The Moistest Alou is hitting .366 with 7 HR and 24 RBI so far this year... Also to give credit where credit is due - Derek Jeter has been off to a great start for the Yankees. So far Captain Intangibles is hitting .388 with 3 HR and 20 RBI's for the Pinstripes. As a Red Sox fan - I can tell you that the two Yankees we fear most in a clutch situation are Jeter and Matsui. I would much rather see A-Rod up at bat than either of those guys... Kinda strange to see the top two guys in runs scored in the AL be Travis Hafner (28) and Jim Thome (24). I mean these are two plodding DH type players. Where are the lead-off hitters?... John Thomson of the Braves leads the NL in ERA with a 1.32 mark but he still does not have a single win under his belt. I've always liked Thomson since his days in Texas but he always seems to get little run support... I was kinda surprised by the fact that Bill Mueller has more career RBI (491) than Trot Nixon (483). They both came into the bigs in 1996 but I think of Nixon as more of the RBI guy and Mueller as more of the runs scored guy (Mueller does lead Nixon in runs by over 150)
Top 5 - Thoughts on Yesterday's NFL Draft

1. When Matt Leinart slipped to the 10 spot, I really wanted the first thing he said to interviewers to be, "Nobody puts baby in a corner!"

2. Before the draft there were three players I had hoped the Patriots grabbed with their first pick. Two of them were Laurence Maroney and Chad Jackson. The Patriots took Maroney with the 21st pick and Jackson with the 36th pick of the draft. It kinda worries me that I knew these two players. Normally the Patriots pick some guy I never heard of like Logan Mankins.

3. The third player I was rooting for the Patriots to grab was Ohio State linebacker Bobby Carpenter who went to Dallas with the 18th pick.

4. As far as the draft coverage by ESPN - I'd like to see a lot more Ron Jaworski and a lot less Chris Berman, Michael Ervin and Suzy Kobler. Rich Eisen would be a natural for this event. I can't wait to get the NFL Network.

5. The Arizona Cardinals may not win a lot of games this year but I get the feeling they will be very entertaining to watch.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Top 5 Seinfeld Episodes of All-Time

1. The Contest (I'm out!)
2. The Fusilli Jerry (AKA The Assman episode)
3. The Marine Biologist (It was an angry sea)
4. The Opposite (Bizarro George)
5. The Rye (Beefarino!)
The Jets Drafting in Retrospect

Absolutely brilliant! I have to agree with Mel Kiper's comment and it is so funny to hear the fan's reaction to taking Ken O'Brien over Dan Marino.
Gas Prices and the Segway Conspiracy

The recent hue and cry over high gas prices has left me flat. I really don't see a big deal.

Is the issue price gouging? If price gouging is the real concern then Senator Schumer and the rest of the hue and criers should go after Mandalay Bay in Vegas because I spent $6 for a bottle of Bud Light there this week (actually it was several bottles). That's real price gouging. That's the equivalent of an upscale gas company charging $10 for a gallon of gas.

Is the issue domestic production? As this morning's Opinion Journal article points out - domestic production isn't really a Democratic strong suit:
"If $75 a barrel oil and a $3 average for a gallon of gasoline isn't a wake-up call, then what is?"--Senator Charles Schumer (D., N.Y.), April 23, 2006

Yes, that's a fine question Senator Schumer asks. But a wake-up call for what, exactly? A wake-up call to produce more domestic oil? Heaven forbid.

In fact, Mr. Schumer and most of his Democratic colleagues in the Senate--the very crowd shouting the loudest about "obscene" gas prices--have voted uniformly for nearly 20 years against allowing most domestic oil production. They have vetoed opening even a tiny portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to oil and gas production. If there is as much oil as the U.S. Geological Survey estimates, this would increase America's proven domestic oil reserves by about 50%.
Is the issue about the environment? The Opinion Journal article has this little snippet I thought was fitting:
Which brings us to the Bush Administration, which is bludgeoned daily by the likes of Mr. Schumer, whose real concern is exploiting an issue that might elect a Democratic Senate in November. Meanwhile, the White House refuses to attack the left's anti-consumer energy policies and has even capitulated on requiring a rise in auto fuel-efficiency standards. Mr. Bush could instead be talking about the national and economic security need for a pro-domestic-production energy policy--starting with drilling in Alaska. It's worth reminding the American public that in 1995 the Republican Congress passed an ANWR production bill, which Bill Clinton vetoed because he said it could be five to 10 years before the oil would be produced. We would have that oil today if Mr. Clinton had signed that bill.
We can have increased domestic production or we can keep the Earth Day folks happy - but we can't do both at the same time.

Is this about hybrid cars? This I can see. Production and sales at the top US car manufacturers is down. A nice tax incentive on hybrids could jump start sales and keep giants like GM from going broke. As Archie Bunker used to say, "What's good for GM is good for America."

I admit to being a little non-plussed by hybrid cars. My understanding is that they work great in the city but get about equal gas mileage as regular cars on the highway (and produce an equal amount of carbon-dioxide). However, if they just really work in the city - wouldn't it be more responsible to just take public transportation (if you really wanted to be green responsible)? Those hybrid cars jam up the streets just as much as regular cars and don't alleviate the problem of pollution and wasted gas expended in traffic jams.

My guess is that there is also someone else lurking in the shadows partly responsible for this avalanche of criticism about gas prices. Could it be PR genius Dean Kamen has found a way to get his Segway back in the news? What is more energy friendly than a Segway? Don't be surprised if suddenly the Segway gets tax credit status.

Just sayin'.
Draft Day

The NFL draft day is upon us and the Texans taking Mario Williams as the first pick once again highlights the fact that there is no greater waste of time than pre-draft "mock drafts". I mean really - did you see anyone out there have Mario Williams going first? If they can't get the first pick right - what makes you think these "experts" can do any better further down at say New England's pick at 21?

I agree (to a degree) with those who already comparing this move by the Texans to the Portland's taking Sam Bowie over Michael Jordan. The idea was back then that you can't win championships without a big man in the middle and drafting Bowie was a "basketball" decision. Likewise the Texans are saying you can't build a championship team without a strong defense and that this was purely a football move. My guess is that Texans' fans will rue this move not to draft Reggie Bush just like the Trail Blazer fans play the "what if" game over Michael Jordan in Portland.

Making NBA/NFL comparisons though is dangerous because football is so much more a team sport than basketball. Even great football players need (to borrow Jordan's phrase) a "supporting cast". Just look at Steve Young or Jim Plunkett. Young with Tampa Bay or Plunkett with the Patriots were pretty much busts until they were surrounded with better supporting casts in San Francisco and Oakland respectively.

Reggie Bush is no Michael Jordan but he has a chance to be LaDanian Thomlinson. Now the question is whether the Saints take him or trade the pick (or shock everyone with a D'Brickshaw Ferguson who is a local Louisiana guy and who fills a "need" more than Bush since the Saints already have Deuce McAllister).

I will be curious to see where Vince Young goes. There was a lot of hype of him possibly going first overall but I think he now drops out of the top 5 (and look for him to talk about being "disrespected"). Of course I could be completely wrong about this prediction because, as you know, pre-draft predictions are worthless.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Back in the Saddle

Back from Vegas and to be honest - I'm pretty beat. My feet are sore, my liver hates me and my head aches.

Regular posting will commence shortly.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006


Today is a sacred day in Australia. Today is ANZAC day. For an understanding of what ANZAC Day means click here.

I cannot thnk of ANZAC Day without thinking of the song The Band Played Waltzing Matilda. This song has some of the most moving lyrics ever put to music and although I'm not a big fan of people who post lyrics - I will make exceptions once and a while.

The Band Played Waltzing Matilda

When I was a young man I carried my pack
And I lived the free life of the rover.
From the Murray's green basin to the dusty outback
I waltzed my Matilda all over.
Then in nineteen fifteen the country said, "Son,
It's time to stop rambling, there's work to be done."
And they gave me a tin hat and they gave me a gun,
And they marched me away to the war.
And the band played Waltzing Matilda
As our ship pulled away from the quay,
And amidst all the cheers, flag-waving and tears
We sailed off to Gallipoli.

And how well I remember that terrible day,
How our blood stained the sand and the water.
And of how in that hell that they call Suvla Bay
We were butchered like lambs at the slaughter.
Johnny Turk he was waiting, he primed himself well,
He showered us with bullets, and he rained us with shell,
And in five minutes flat he'd blown us all to hell,
Nearly blew us right back to Australia.
But the band played Waltzing Matilda,
As we stopped to bury our slain.
We buried ours, and the Turks buried theirs,
Then we started all over again.

Now those that were left, well, we tried to survive
In that mad world of blood, death and fire.
And for ten weary weeks I kept myself alive,
But around me, the corpses piled higher.
Then a big Turkish shell knocked me arse over head,
And when I woke up in me hospital bed
And saw what it had done, well, I wished I was dead.
Never knew there was worse things than dying.
For I'll go no more Waltzing Matilda
All around the green bush far and free,
To hump tent and pegs, a man needs both legs,
No more Waltzing Matilda for me.

So they gathered the crippled, the wounded, the maimed,
And they shipped us back home to Australia.
The armless, the legless, the blind and insane,
Those proud wounded heroes of Suvla.
And as our ship pulled into Circular Quay
I looked at the place where me legs used to be,
And thanked Christ there was nobody waiting for me,
To grieve and to mourn and to pity.
But the band played Waltzing Matilda
As they carried us down the gangway.
But nobody cheered, they just stood and stared,
Then they turned all their faces away.

And so now every April I sit on my porch
And I watch the parade pass before me.
And I see my old comrades, how proudly they march,
Reviving old dreams of past glory.
And the old men marched slowly, all bones stiff and sore,
They're tired old heroes from a forgotten war,
And the young people ask,"What are they marching for?",
And I ask meself the same question.
But the band plays Waltzing Matilda,
And the old men still answer the call.
But as year follows year, more old men disappear,
Someday no one will march there at all.

Waltzing Matilda, waltzing Matilda,
Who'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me ?
And their ghosts may be heard as they march by the billabong,
Who'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me ?

Good on ya Australia and God bless and keep all your fighting men in Iraq safe. If you want to download The Band Played Waltzing Matilda - I would recommend either the version by the Pogues or by the Clancy Brothers.
How We Really Won the Cold War

Kenneth Adelman was the Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency and he gave an extensive interview to the Miller Center of Public Affairs (HT to Betsy’s Page for pointing out this great resource to fist person history).

Near the end of the interview with Adelman, he is asked about the end of the Cold War. I found his answer to the question fascinating since Adelman was arguable as involved as any person serving the US Government.
“… he [Reagan] was intent that if we build up, they ‘re not going to be able to afford to keep up with us. A lot of people think that’s what won the Cold War. I don’t. Because if you look at Soviet Defense spending, it increased four to five percent every year through the 70’s and pretty much continued steadily until Gorbachev started all his economic reforms that crashed the whole place. It was not the case that the Kremlin was pretty steady and then when the Reagan build-up began in ’81 on, then the Kremlin went to match it. They didn’t match it very much; they didn’t do much different in Reagan’s time than they had done, as far as we knew, on defense spending.

So this idea of bankrupting them because they couldn’t do it, I thought it was a bad theory. People still say it all the time. I still think it’s wrong. What got them was SDI.
Adelman goes on to explain:
In 1984, I did a study in the Arms Control Agency where we calculated Soviet paid –for propaganda; 80% of it was about SDI. It wasn’t even a program; it was a speech. I mean the Pentagon takes 3 years to gin up a program. They had been doing some ballistic missile defense and there was nothing; it was cotton candy. The whole first summit, the whole second summit, the whole third summit was dominated by SDI. If the Kremlin had any sense they would have said, “It’s a stupid idea, you want to waste your money, waste your money. Let’s get back to the game.” But they went ape-shit. Once they went ape-shit it was just heavenly because it really did affect their thinking, it affected their planning.

I testified a hundred times about it. “SDI won’t work,” I said. That’s certainly not what we heard from the Russians. They wouldn’t be going crazy if it didn’t work. And again, what was the ultimate defense against the Democrats in the Senate and House? You don’t think it works, but guess who does think it works? It was phenomenal, better than we ever expected. And [Alexander] Bessmertnykh, who was Foreign Secretary under Gorbachev after Shevardnadze at Princeton a few years ago said that SDI was what really ended the Cold War and ended the Soviet Union. It wasn’t obviously singular, but it was the last straw.
I’m just fascinated by this sort of stuff. Going to college at this time I can recall all the bile on campus directed toward Reagan. He was a buffoon, a cowboy and he was going to bring about the end of the world.

Today we can see that Reagan was right (but don’t expect his critics to admit that they were wrong). It is also fascinating to read first hand reports from people like Adelman that show Reagan to be the most anti-nuclear President we have had since WWII.

The final irony is that while Reagan was in real life undermining the Soviet war machine and system of oppression with threats of SDI – Hollywood was taking the exact opposite approach. Remember the Clint Eastwood movie Firefox? It came out just before Reagan was to enter office. In the movie – the Russians have a super weapon, a plane that none of our defenses could counter. A weapon that would irreversibly tip the balance of power to the Russians. At the time Hollywood would have us believe that it was our military that was behind (with movies like Firefox) and it was our system that was doomed (remember Escape from New York?)

In fact – it was Reagan and the USA that had the threat of his own super weapon (SDI) and it was the threat of this weapon that tipped the balance of power irreversibly in the battle of ideologies. Truth was much better than fiction here.

I admit that I am bothered by renewed talk about reviving the idea of SDI. I hope that like in Reagan’s day that it never goes beyond the speech stage.
Viva Las Vegas

Sorry for the lack of posts. I'm out in Vegas and between work and everything else to do in Vegas - well I'm sure you understand.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

The Real Nature of Journalism

Gerard Van der Leun tackles the nature of journalism with quotes from the past.

Good stuff.
Harry Potter Factoids

- The Hogworts headmaster prior to Albus Dumbledore was Armando Dippet

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

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

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

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

- To gain entance to the Ministry of Magic - you first go into an old telephone booth where you dial 6-2-4-4-2 to get the receptionist. On a telephone keypad - 6-2-4-4-2 spells "M-A-G-I-C".
Poker Writers
No wonder we get a bad rap from the players and tournament staff. Media on the whole are treated like 45 year old hookers. - Pauly from Tao of Poker
Because the World Series of Poker will soon be upon us, this time of year always makes me think of Andy Glazer who was to poker writing what Doyle Brunson is to Texas Hold 'Em. Or given the controversy that surrounds his death - a better analogy would be that Andy was to poker writing what Curt Cobaine was to grunge rock.

Andy Glazer was a good writer. "Good" is the way I think of Glazer as a writer (and as a poker player for that matter) because you would read something Andy had written and your immediate first thought was "man that's good!"

I didn't think it would be possible for someone to replace Andy Glazer as the king of poker writing but Pauly McGrupp has turned the trick. Pauly's writing is addicting and intoxicating.

Their styles are polar opposites. Glazer was more about the strategy of poker and Pauly is more about living in the moment. I doubt if Andy ever mentioned in print taking a piss next to Dan Harrington but Pauly makes info like that a regular feature.

Anyway - read Pauly's latest dispatch from the World Poker Tour Championship and tell me you don't come away thinking, "man that's good!"
The NY Times - The Boston Globe and the Red Sox (Oh What a Tangled Web)

Interesting information over at Boston Sports Media Watch. I'm not an accountant and I don't play one on TV but even I can understand the difference explained between the "cost method" and "equity method" of accounting for an asset. From BSMW:
With permission from the reader, I'm going to use what he said on the topic:

"When a company owns less than 50% of another company, accounting rules require it to choose from one of two possible methods of accounting for that investment: the "Cost Method," or the "Equity Method." The general rule is that if you own between 20%-50%, you should use the Equity Method. If you own less than 20%, you should use the cost method.

I bring this up because the The New York Times Co. owns 17% of the Red Sox. Yet it accounts for its investment in the Red Sox under the Equity Method, which is a bit unusual. Under accounting rules, the Times would only account for this investment under the Equity Method if it has "the ability to exercise significant influence over operating and financial policies" of the Red Sox.
You may also wonder if the investment goes both ways - with Red Sox owners like John Henry investing in the New York Times. Seeing that John Henry became a billionaire by being a savvy investor - I doubt he would invest in a stock whose 5-year performance looks like this:

If John Henry did invest in the NYT - I hope it was to sell short. Not sure what that graph looks like to you but to me it looks like the chart at the foot of the bed of an old dying man or in this case an old grey lady.

Make sure you read the entire BSMW post. Interesting stuff.
Home Run Derby

My buddy Tim and I play a version of home run derby. Sometimes it is just the two of us - sometimes we have three or four people playing. The way we play might be a bit different than what you might first expect.

Whenever we watch a Red Sox game or go to Fenway - we chose two players each and wait to see who hits a home run. Each time one of the players you chose hits a home run - you win $20 from the opposing guy(s). It adds a little extra spice to the viewing experience.

Some nights no money changes hands because either no home runs are hit or they are hit by players who weren't picked. Last night the $20 bills were changing hands fast and furiously.

It was my turn to pick first and I took David Ortiz (the first guy usually picks Ortizzle). Tim then countered with Vernon Wells (a very savvy pick). That left the slumping Manny Ramirez to me (I told people how Manny was due and that he loved hitting at SkyDome). Tim finished the picks by taking Jason Varitek with the reasoning that he too was due and he was coming off a night off and would be rested.

In the third Ortiz and Manny hit back-to-back home runs and I was suddenly up $40. Vernon Wells got $20 back for Tim in the next inning and Jason Varitek put Tim back to even with his blast in the sixth. Manny once again put me up by $20 in the eighth but Vernon Wells evened things up again in the bottom of the inning.

In total - eight home runs were hit last night and we picked the guys who hit 6 out of 8 before the game. Good picking by us. A little extra spice to the game action. Home run derby - you and your friends should give it a try next time you are out watching a game.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Top 5 - Songs by The Cure

Today is Robert Smith's 47th birthday (the singer - not the running back). In his honor - here are what I consider the top 5 songs by The Cure:

1. Boys Don't Cry
2. Pictures of You
3. Fascination Street
4. Just Like Heaven
5. (tie) Lovecats (tie) Never Enough
Illegal Immigration

California Yankee talks about the recent crackdown on IFCO Systems. I must say I agree 100% with this sentiment:
A number of bloggers are calling this crackdown nothing more than a politically motivated attempt to salvage the President's guest worker proposal. I'm happy to see illegal aliens and their law breaking employers arrested, even if it is politically motivated.
I have long believed that what was needed to resolve the illegal immigration issue is not new laws but simply the resources to enforce the laws on the books. I have to provide proof of citizenship when I take a new job - so should everyone. Go after the employers who do not get proper documentation and fine them accordingly. That would be a huge first step in solving the problem.

Fact That May Interest Only Me

Richard Nixon is the only sitting President to ever attend a running of the Kentucky Derby.
Fact That May Interest Only Me

William Shakespeare, perhaps the greatest writer of all-time, was married to a woman who could neither read nor write.
Red Sox - 5 Good and 5 Bad

We are about 10% into the MLB schedule and I'd like to mention the five things that are good (or in most cases very good) about the Red Sox and the five things that aren't so good.

5 Good

1. Curt Schilling - 4-0 with a 1.61 ERA. The wins are the most in baseball and the ERA is 3rd in the AL. Schilling also leads the AL in innings pitched. It was hoped that he would come back from last year's lost season and be effective but not only has he been effective - he may be the best he's ever been.
2. Josh Beckett - 3-0 and his 1.29 ERA is tied with Jose Contreras for the best mark in all of baseball. Some players wilt under the spotlight of playing in Boston but Beckett seems to be one of those players who thrive and feed off the energy of the fans. Beckett and Schilling are the best 1-2 punch in baseball this year (so far).
3. Jonathan Papelbon - 7 for 7 in save situations this year and has yet to give up a run in 8 games. His 7 saves are the best in baseball and he has turned a question mark (closer) before the season into a strength. These first three positions could actually be flipped around in any order and I wouldn't argue.
4. Kevin Youkilis - .346 batting average with a .435 OBP and a .954 OPS - KY has been everything his fans though he could be if given a starting role. He has also been a big plus with the glove so far this season (whether at 3rd or at 1st).
5. David Ortiz and Coco Crisp - they have been everything anyone could hope for. They get the combined nod for the final spot because they both signed long term deals and will be with the Red Sox for years to come.

5 Bad

1. David Wells - out of shape is no way to approach what you say is going to be your final season. One start and 7 runs in 4 innings? Take a few more starts in Pawtucket before you embarass your teammates with those types of numbers.
2. Wily Mo Pena - I supported the trade and maybe the defense will come around but I challenge anyone to find a worse fielding performance in the first 16 games than Pena's (Wiggington in Tampa Bay gets a pass because at least he is trying a new position).
3. Rudy Seanez and Julian Tavarez - combined these guys have a 8.10 ERA. They need to pick it up if they want to be part of a winning team.
4. JT Snow - in particular his batting. So far just .167. I've always liked Snow and really don't like the idea of him making the list but he does have to hit at least his weight. Like everything on this list - small sample size and things can change very quickly. The only bright spot is if Snow does continue to struggle - that means even more at bats for Kevin Youkilis.
5. The run support for Tim Wakefield - Wake is 1-3 with a very respectable 3.71 ERA (tied for 15th in AL among starters) but so far the Red Sox have scored just 9 runs total in Wakefield's 4 starts. Wakefield deserves better.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Rumsfeld Poetry

I was told of this second hand by someone who had heard about it on NPR. Rumsfeld's words presented as poetry.

This was my favorite:
The Unknown

As we know,
There are known knowns.
There are things we know we know.
We also know
There are known unknowns.
That is to say
We know there are some things
We do not know.
But there are also unknown unknowns,
The ones we don't know
We don't know.

Department of Defense news briefing
Feb. 12, 2002
It has also been set to music.

You can buy a CD of his words to music at the above link. Too bad I already had my birthday.
Otto Frederick Rohwedder

You may have seen lists of the top 100 Americans but these lists always seem to exclude Otto Frederick Rohwedder. He's the man credited with inventing sliced bread. What's greater than sliced bread?

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Happy Birthday Rooster

Today is Rick "the Rooster" Burleson's 55th birthday. No body played harder than the Rooster.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Odds to Win NL Pennant

Here are the odds on the top contenders for the NL pennant.

New York Mets 2/1
St Louis Cardinals 9/4
Chicago Cubs 5/1
Atlanta Braves 9/1
San Francisco Giants 9/1
Los Angeles Dodgers 11/1
Houston Astros 12/1
Philadelphia Phillies 12/1
Milwaukee Brewers 15/1

Odds via
Here's Hoping Tommy and Rachel Find Happiness

Not all the best writers out there draw a paycheck for putting pen to paper.

After reading this - I felt that I not only knew Tommy and Rachel but that they were friends that I was wishing the best for.

That's good writing for you. That's also as great a debut post to a blog as you are likely to ever read.
Top 5 - Movies About Cops

Here are what I consider the top 5 movies about cops.

1. High Noon
2. LA Confidential
3. In the Heat of the Night
4. Dirty Harry
5. The French Connection
Heh Heh

The Grouchy Old Cripple has some engineer jokes. This was my favorite.
A priest, a doctor, and an engineer were waiting one morning for a
particularly slow group of golfers.

The engineer fumed, "What's with those blokes? We must have been waiting for fifteen minutes!"

The doctor chimed in, "I don't know, but I've never seen such inept golf!".

The priest said, "Here comes the greens keeper. Let's have a word with him." He said, "Hello, George! What's wrong with that group ahead of us? They're rather slow, aren't they?"

The greens keeper replied, "Oh, yes. That's a group of blind fire fighters. They lost their sight saving our clubhouse from a fire last year, so we always let them play for free anytime."

The group fell silent for a moment.

The priest said, "That's so sad. I think I will
say a special prayer for them tonight."

The doctor said, "Good idea. I'm going to contact my ophthalmologist colleague and see if there's anything he can do for them."

The engineer said, "Why can't they play at night?"

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Heh Heh

The comments on this thread are awesome! If you've ever left a comment on a blog - you will love this.

HT Happy Carpenter
Stronger Windshields = Safer Fighting Vehicles

I was interested to learn that a Massachusetts company is leading the way in replacing the heavy, extra thick glass in military vehicles. Surmet has developed a product called ALON which has half the weight and thickness of convention glass laminates. This means more protection with a lighter material which also makes the vehicles faster and more fuel efficient.

ALON has been around for a while but as the process to produce it has matured - the cost has come down so that now the material used in plane cockpits can be used in fighting vehicle windows as well.
Baseball Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous baseball thoughts and observations.

Omar Vizquel may just be the best player on the San Francisco Giants rights now. For as great as Vizquel has been in his career - this may be the first time he's the best player on his team. This also goes to highlight how bad the Giants are so far this season (don't let their record fool you - this is a bad team)... What has gotten into Wandy Rodriguez of the Astros? So far this season - the 5'11", 160 pound Dominican has been channeling a young Pedro Martinez. Yesterday Wandy won his second game of the season and lowered his ERA to 2.84 with 7 innings of shutout ball against the Diamondbacks.... Last April - Colorado's Todd Helton got off to an awful start. He hit just .267 with a lowly .776 OPS. That may be OK for Kevin Millar but not for a guy who has hit .337 with a 1.042 OPS for his career. This spring Helton is back on track with a .378 BA and 1.242 OPS in his first 11 games. Helton will probably end up being the first member of the Rockies inducted into the Hall of Fame... It is still early but I think Mike Piazza is all done. He's living on his reputation and the Padres would probably be better off with Doug Mirabelli as the full time starter at catcher... John Patterson of the Nationals is the real deal and maybe the only bright spot for the DC nine (well maybe Nick Johnson too). Patterson leads all MLB in strikeouts with 24... One of the big reasons the Reds are tied for 1st in the NL Central is Ryan Freel and his .514 OBP. Freel has been a huge spark plug for the Reds. You really have to watch him play to appreciate how much he has meant to the team.... I know Uggie Urbina had a very good year and a half in Boston (68 saves) but right about now - I'd love to have Tomo Ohka back with the Red Sox...
Odds to Win 2007 Super Bowl

It's Easter - which of course means time to think pro football!

Here are the current favorites to win the 2006 Super Bowl.

Indianapolis Colts 11/2
New England Patriots 15/2
Dallas Cowboys 10/1
Pittsburgh Steelers 10/1
San Diego Chargers 11/1
Seattle Seahawks 11/1
Carolina Panthers 12/1
Denver Broncos 12/1
Washington Redskins 13/1
Chicago Bears 15/1
Kansas City Chiefs 16/1
Miami Dolphins 18/1
Philadelphia Eagles 18/1
Cincinnati Bengals 20/1
New York Giants 20/1

Lines are via

One thing I'm sure of is that the Colts will not win the Super Bowl. So let it be written - so let it be done!

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Stat of the Day

Chris Shelton - Detroit Tigers - 7 HR
Lance Berkman - Houston Astros - 6 HR
Travis Hafner - Cleveland Indians - 6 HR
Jim Thome - Chicago White Sox - 6 HR

Entire San Francisco Giants Team - 5 HR
Jamie Moyer

I like Jamie Moyer. Don't get me wrong - I'm very glad the Red Sox beat him last night but as players go - Jamie Moyer has become one of my favorites.

Last night Moyer scattered 8 hits over 6 innings and gave up just 2 earned runs. Moyer was helped by a very poor decision by Mark Loretta to try a bunt with men on 2nd and 3rd and less than 2 outs in the 4th. Moyer also walked 3 batters but he was able to strike out an impressive 8 batters with a fastball that would have trouble breaking a plane of glass.

Last nigh Moyer kept the Mariners in the game and made me nervous that this was going to be one of those nights where the Red Sox blow offensive chances and allow the opposing team to stick around until they mounted a big rally to beat the Boston 9. Luckily that wasn't the case and Curt Schilling and Jon Papelbon didn't allow any rally to materialize.

Part of the appeal of Moyer to me is the fact that he used to pitch for the Red Sox. He had half a season back in 1996. All he did was go 7-1 with a 4.50 ERA. Trouble is Kevin Kennedy was the manager back then and Kevin Kennedy was (and is) an idiot.

Supposedly Kennedy likes his pitchers with an intimidating fastball and a bit of a mean streak. Moyer does not fit that profile - so he was shipped to Seattle for Darren Bragg (a scrappy player more in line with Kennedy's mind set). All Jamie Moyer has done since then is win 139 games (including two 20 win seasons).

Red Sox fans like to talk about the Heathcliff Slocumb for Jason Varitek and Derek Lowe trade as a great steal for the Red Sox. Well Jamie Moyer for Darren Bragg pretty much evens out the balance sheet with Seattle.

Jamie Moyer is now number 1 on the all-time list for wins by a Mariner pitcher (his 139 and counting tops Randy Johnson's 130). Moyer's 139 plus the 7 he won in Boston would have put him 3rd on the Red Sox all-time list behind Cy Young and Roger Clemens who both have 192 wins for the Sox (Tim Wakefield has 131 and counting).

Friday, April 14, 2006

Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

The New York Mets have the best record in all of baseball. This is thanks mainly to Jim Bowden who has assembled the baseball version of the Washington Generals - six of the Mets first 8 games have been against the hapless Nationals... The Rockies are a half game in front of the rest of the NL West. Let me go on record right now saying I think the Rockies have enough talent to win the West this year. Pitching depth will be key and the Rockies have six starters who while not aces - are solid innings eaters. Look for playoff games in Denver come October... Is it too early to start Chris Shelton Triple Crown talk?... Josh Beckett leads the AL in ERA with a 1.29 mark. Curt Schilling is tied for 2nd with a 1.93 mark. This is the best of all possible news for Red Sox Nation... Hanley Ramirez has more hits so far this season (14) than any member of the Red Sox (David Ortiz leads the Sox with 13 hits)... Jacque Jones continues to be a bust for the Cubs - hitting a measley .111 so far. I can't explain why I have such a hair across my ass for Jones this year. I just think it was an awful move for the Cubs... Bill Mueller and Edgar Renteria lead the NL in hits with 16. OK I'll say it! Why can't the Red Sox get players like that!...
Barry Bonds

Barry Bonds is being investigated by a grand jury (again). This time it is investigating whether Bonds committed perjury in his last testimony before the grand jury. I have to say that I saw this coming. Here's what I wrote back in December of 2004:
We all know that our legal system is dodgy - especially when the defendants have the money for high powered attorneys. The BALCO stuff may get thrown out but one thing that is not dodgy is the truth. If Barry Bonds lied to the Feds under oath and they can prove it - he'll end up going to jail just like Martha Stewart.

Remember - Martha Stewart did not go to jail for insider trading (which is what the original investigation was about), she went to jail for lying to the Feds. Barry won't go to jail for taking steroids, he'll go to jail for lying about taking steroids.

Somebody has to be the fall guy here and Barry was a main target all along. Plus how sympathetic do you think a jury will be to Barry? About as sympathetic as a jury was to Martha maybe?
Bonds is also looking at legal troubles from the IRS for not reporting income - income he used to buy his mistress a home in Arizona.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

LOTR (Slightly Condensed)

The Lord of the Rings (Slightly Condensed)

I love stick figure art.
Heh Heh

One from the archives:

Baseball Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous baseball thoughts and observations.

It is just painful to continue to see donuts next to Dan Johnson's name. Last night was another 0-fer as Johnson went 0-4 to stretch his hitless streak to 23 AB to start the season. The man born in Coon Rapids, MN is hitting .000 for the season... Not too far in front of Johnson is Jeff Conine of the Orioles. Conine has just one hit (a HR) in 17 AB this season and is hitting just .059. If Conine isn't hitting at least .200 by his 40th birthday in June he may want to think about hanging up the spikes... Scott Podsednik got his second hit of the season last night and is now 2-30 (.067 BA) for the season... Hanley Ramirez, the top prospect given up by the Red Sox in order to get Josh Beckett, is showing to be the real deal. For the season Ramirez is hitting an even .400 with 4 doubles and 2 triples. It looks like this was a win-win deal for both teams as Beckett has been dominating in his two starts this season... I never really think of Greg Maddux as a strikeout pitcher but he needs just 58 more strikeouts this season to move past Bob Gibson into 12th place on the all-time strikeout list.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Fenway Gives Red Sox Players More Cowbell

I was amused by this quote from David Ortiz in yesterday's Boston Globe:
''I keep telling the new guys. Wait until you play your first game at Fenway. You might need a diaper."
That quote reminded me of rock legend Bruce Dickenson - his quest for more cowbell and his promise:
Babies.. before we're done here.. y'all be wearing gold-plated diapers.
I have the feeling that before David Ortiz is done - the Red Sox will all be wearing gold plated diapers. I got a fever and the only prescription is more Red Sox!
Bumbles Bounce and Shaughnessy's Shill

Curt Schilling is going to have to sue Dan Shaughnessy for nickname infringement as chinless has become "the Big Shill" for the Red Sox.

Take a gander at his last two offerings

Today's column.

Yesterday's column.

These pieces read like they were written by the board of tourism or the Red Sox PR department. Pretty hard hitting stuff huh? Any remaining doubt that he's in the Red Sox's back pocket?

For those of you outside of Boston - Shaughnessy used to be Mr. Critical. He found fault with anything and everything having to do with the Red Sox. He wrote that the Monster seats above the Green Monster were going to ruin Fenway Park. Pedro Martinez would throw a shutout and Shagnasty would complain that Pedro was a diva. When David Ortiz was first signed - he said Ortiz was a "piece of you know what". Every day Shaughnessy was negative.

Then the Red Sox supposedly bought him off. Part owner Tom Werner gave Shaughnessy's daughter an internship with his Hollywood production company (this has never been denied or refuted by Shaughnessy or the Boston Globe). Now Shaughnessy skips down Landsdown Street singing the Barney "I love you - you love me" song when it comes to anything to do with the Red Sox.

Shaggy is like the bumble in Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer but instead of Herbie the dentist and Yukon Cornelius - chinless has been tamed by Dr. Steinberg (an actual dentist) and Larry Lucchino with the role of Santa Claus played by Tom Werner (who gives out gifts like internships to good girls of Boston columnists). I can picture the Red Sox front office reading the tripe Shaughnessy is passing these days and saying in unison "Lookee what he can do."

Toothless, chinless bumble - thy name is Shaughnessy
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.
Top 5 Songs with the word America or American in it

1. God Bless America (Kate Smith version)
2. America the Beautiful
3. American Pie - Don McLean
4. American Girl - Tom Petty
5. (tie) American Band - BTO (tie) American Woman - The Guess Who

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Childhood Confessions – Little Metal Disks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The other day the question was asked if Omar Vizquel is a Hall of Fame player.

The argument for Vizquel will paint him as every bit the equal to Ozzie Smith and here his supporters have an excellent argument to make.

Offensively, even though he's had 1,000 fewer at bats - Vizquel has already almost matched Ozzie's output.

Vizquel – 2301 H, 8387 AB, 1195 R, 760 RBI
Smith – 2460 H, 9396 AB, 1257 R, 793 RBI

Vizquel - .274 BA, .341 OBP, .358 SLG
Smith - .262 BA, .337 OBP, .328 SLG

Vizquel will almost surely pass Ozzie in hits, runs and RBI and really they are basically the same player at the plate. As their OPS+ marks illustrate - Vizquel at 85 (with 100 being average) and Smith at 87 - both were below average with the bat. It was the glove that opened Cooperstown to Ozzie Smith and it will be the glove that gets Vizquel into the Hall of Fame (if anything will do the trick).

Vizquel has won 10 Gold Gloves at short which compares very favorably to Ozzie's 13 Gold Gloves. Ozzie was more flashy with his backflips but Omar may actually have been the better fielder (witness the difference in errors - just 168 for Omar compared to 281 for Ozzie). This may be heresy to some but Omar was actually more reliable in the field (backed up by Omar's .984 fielding percentage vs Ozzie's .978).

What Omar has going against him is the fact that he played at the dawn of the big bopper shortstop. While Ozzie was going to 15 All-Star games - Omar went to just 3 because he had to play in the shadows of Cal Ripken, Nomar Garciaparra, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez.

Growing up - kids didn't play shortstop pretending to be Omar Vizquel. They wanted to be a Ripken, a Nomar, a Jeter or an A-Rod. Omar may have also been hurt by playing in the relative obscurity of Cleveland where he was never even close to being the best player on his own team (that honor went to the Albert Belle's, the Manny Ramirez's and the Jim Thome's).

Vizquel probably was every bit the player Ozzie Smith was but that won't be good enough to get into the Hall of Fame. The supporters will say that's not fair. The detractors will point out that Omar is no Ripken and that Dave Concepcion (9 All-Star games and 5 Gold Gloves) isn't in either.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Separated at Birth?

An alpaca and Dan Shaughnessy of the Bostion Globe.

One's a ridiculous-looking, llama-like beast and the other is bred for its wool.
Do Bunnies and Batting Mix?

Scott Podsednik is hitting just .038 for the season. One hit and one walk in 26 AB. This has to be the worst start of any player in MLB.

Do you think it has anything to do with marrying Playboy bunny Lisa Dergan right before spring training?

Mike Piazza married a bunny right before spring training last year and proceeded to have the worse season of his career.

Just saying.
John Calipari to NC State?

Rumor is that there are talks afoot.

Calipari has Memphis poised to be a perennial top 10 program and they offer him a 5% raise after the job he did this year? That's not right. He's putting a tremendous amount of money into the coffers of the Memphis AD's office and it would only be right to let him "wet his beak."

Memphis may be penny wise and pound foolish here and they may just see the best thing to happen to their athletic program walk out the door because of it. If Calipari does stay put for this season - he will probably have another top 10 final ranking under his belt. That will make him even more marketable next year. Now is the time for Memphis to step up to the plate with a real offer - not some 5% joke.

If Memphis doesn't step up and show Calipari the money - someone else will.

In fact - I would really support UMass offering Calipari $2 million a year for 5-years. I don't blame Calipari for the Marcus Cambi mess and I know Calipari can be a bit slippery. By the same token - so can Billy Donovan and he just delivered a national championship to Florida. Calipari is capable of doing the same and would be worth the money.

EDIT: It looks like the Memphis boosters are taking matters into their own hands.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Heh Heh

Tran Sient hasn't been blogging much lately but this is quality work.

As Homer would say, "It's funny because its true!"

Did some blogroll house cleaning while watching the Red Sox.

Gone are some old blog friends like the Commons at Paulie World, Denis Gorman, Beer Brains (Drunken Wisdom), Steeler Dirt Freak, and What Attitude Problem. These folks have stopped blogging but would be welcome back on the blogroll the momment of their return.

I updated the links for Gooseneck, Ducksnorts, and Musing Minds.

I hope to add a bunch of new blogs to the blogroll a little latter
Baseball Best Plays

Last night I ran into a little windfall from online poker so I plyed three late games. I had the Angels against the Yankees ($50 to win $75); the over (8 runs) in the Padres / Rockies game ($50 to win $43.48) and the over (8 runs) in the A's / Mariners game (risked $50 and lost). In the afternoon I lost with Pittsburgh and the Dodgers / Phillies game got rained out. That puts my new number for the season at plus $21.82.

Today I like the Marlins with Dontrelle Willis as a +$118 underdog vs the Mets (even with Glavine pitching). Bet $50 on the Marlins to win $59.

Twins / Indians over 8 runs - $50 to win $60 (+120 odds).

The Tigers with Rogers (-$102) against the Rangers - $50 to win $49

The Angels with Colon (+$105) at home against the Yankees - $50 to win $52.50

For the season 7 for 15 - plus $21.82.
Today's Must Read

Did Iraq plan an 9/11 attack on "American interests" in March of 2001 (six months before the fall of the twin towers)?
Now that we have established the translation of the memo from the Iraqi Air Force general to all units requesting volunteers for suicide missions against American "interests", the timing of the memo appears to fit into a disturbing sequence in the months prior to 9/11. This memo is dated March 17, 2001, less than six months prior to the coordinated al-Qaeda attack on the US, at a time when the AQ plotters and pilots appeared to be in close proximity to Iraqi intelligence agents in Europe.
The evidence that Iraq was working with Al Qaeda keeps mounting but many still would like to believe that Iraq was an innocent bystander in the war on terror. To deny the links is to be a mumpsimus on the subject.
Morning Links

Some reading material to peruse over your morning coffee:

- Jerry Green: 'Bonds on Bonds' Blows... (you couldn't pay me to watch that tripe - not really a very good article but I wanted to abreviate the headline)

- The Day the Statue Fell (HT Instapundit)

- Mark Steyn on Immigration

- Heh Heh (does posting this link make me an anti-dentite?)
Baseball Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous baseball thoughts and observations.

Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Zito - Barry Zito pitched six innings of one-hit ball last night against the Mariners and his effort still only dropped his ERA to 8.59 (that's how bad his first start against the Yankees was)... I thought Alphonso Soriano would plummet to earth this year but so far Soriano is having a a very good season at the plate hitting .333 with a .400 OBP (and yes I know - small sample size)... Last night while watching Baseball Tonight on ESPN - Tim K. threw out the question of if Omar Vizquel is a Hall of Famer. I really had not considered that before and will take a look at the numbers later (my gut says '"no")... FWIW - Cleveland and Cincinnati currently lead the race for the Wild Card spots (what would you do without that nugget of information?)... To me - the most impressive thing about Detroit's 5-0 start has been the fact that all the games have been on the road... Very quietly the Toronto Blue Jays have started out as the best hitting team in baseball (their .339 team average edges the Reds who have hit .333 so far). No team has more HR than the Tigers - who have hit 17 (thanks largely to RA Dickey)... File under "No Coincidence" - the Tigers and Brewers are both undefeated and they also both lead their leages in team ERA (the Tigers with a 2.40 team ERA and the Brewers with a 2.60 ERA)... Craig Biggio needs 33 more at bats to pass Reggie Jackson for 28th place on the all-time list. Biggio has some work ahead of him to catch Jackson in strikeouts though. As it stands today - Jackson leads Biggio in strikeouts by 1,039 in roughly the same number of at bats...

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Baseball Best Plays

I haven't been documenting this as I hoped but since I last posted I won with the Reds with Bronson Arroyo ($50 to win $47.62) and with the Red Sox over the Rangers ($100 to win $67). That put me back on the plus side of the ledger (plus $3.34) but then I risked $50 on the A's and Mariners going over (missed by 1/2 a run). That puts my current total at minus $46.66.

Today I like the Pirates to finally get a W on the board with Oliver Perez pitching. The Pirates are a $102 underdog. I'm taking Pittsburgh for $50 to win $51.

I also like the Dodgers with Lowe and the Phillies with Ryan Madson (in only his second career start) to go over 10 runs. Phillies/Dodgers over $50 to win $50.

For the season 5 for 11 - minus $46.66.

On this day in 1974 - Hank Aaron hit his 715th home run to break Babe Ruth's career home run total and become the new Home Run King.

Dodgers pitcher Al Downing gave up the historic blast and as a humorous sidelight because of his place in history he never tells the time as seven-fifteen. That's out of Downing's vocabulary. He now says "quarter past seven."

The anniversary probably won't be noted much because the controversy over steroids has muted the glory of home runs and home run records. Chicks no longer dig the longball (or outsized men with shrunken testicles). This a shame because Aaron's home run was truly "historic" in every meaning of the word.

It disgusts me to hear a dirtbag like Barry Bonds play the race card knowing what Aaron went through (and what priviledge Bonds was born into). It was so bad for Aaron that his mother rushed the field on this day in 1974 because she thought her son had been shot rounding the bases because he had broken the white man's hero Ruth's record.

Here's to you Hammering Hank on this day of days for you.
The Da Vinci Code

Author Dan Brown won the lawsuit brought against him and his book. Two things I thought were interesting in the article:

1. The writer of the article describes The Da Vinci Code as Brown's "novel of preposterous intrigue based on the theory that the descendants of Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene are still alive." [Emphasis added] I just thought that was amusing. Preposterous intrigue indeed! I loved The Da Vinci Code the first time around but found it was unreadable once you knew the twists and turns. It was preposterous (and don't get me going on how preposterous Angels and Demons was).

2. This was also interesting in a purient way;
The most notable absentee during the hearing was Brown’s wife Blythe who, the author said in cross-examination, did most of his research. He also disclosed that, even when they were in the same house, they communicated largely by e-mail.
WTF? A marriage where most of the communication under the same roof is done via email is almost as preposterous as any of Brown's plot lines.
Bite the Wax Tadpole

A colleague of mine told me that Coca Cola actually translates as "bite the wax tadpole" in Chinese. I have no reason not to believe him but I tried to confirm this by using Babel Fish. Unfortunately all I got was gibberish.

If true - this is a pretty cool fact to know. Even if it isn't true - Bite the Wax Tadpole would make a pretty cool name for a band or fantasy baseball team.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Baseball Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

The Indians have Jhonny Peralta hitting third in a very powerful lineup. That's saying something. The Indians have one of the top 5 offenses in baseball and Peralta batting third shows lots of confidence by manager Eric Wedge. The problem is - Jhonny may be prone to slow starts. This year he's hitting just .222 with a .250 OBP and just a .278 slugging percentage. Last April Peralta also hit .222 in April with a .734 OPS. You have to wonder if Peralta is just a slow starter... You know just a thought but if Frank Robinson and the Nationals really wanted to teach future Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez a "lesson" - the next time they play against him they could make a double switch when Pedro comes to bat with Jose Guillen coming into pitch and the pitcher going out to the outfield for a batter. Guillen could then drill Pedro to make his statement. Of course if he did this both Robinson and Guillen would be looking at 10 game suspensions (at minimum). It would probably be better to just have the pitcher nail Pedro (all that would get would be warnings to both benches). Of course the second option would do nothing for Guillen's machismo... Greg Maddux just got his 319th win in his career. He needs 10 more to move into a tie for 10th place all-time with Steve Carlton (currently he's in 15th place). Roger Clemens is in 9th place with 341 (technically that makes Maddux the winningest "active" pitcher - at least until Roger gets his $10 million from the Astros)... Yikes! Philly has yet to win a game and their starters have yet to pitch 6 innings into a start... I wonder if there has ever been a pitcher with more than 100 strikeouts that still had more walks than K's? If there hasn't - I bet Russ Ortiz of the Diamondbacks becomes the first to turn the trick this year...

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Bad Political Phrases

If you hear a candidate utter any of the following phrases - then you can be pretty sure that you are listening to a loser:

- "I've written it all out in my manifesto..."

- "According to a strict interpretation of the bible..."

- Any phrase that references "Mother Earth" (or "Captain Planet" for that matter)..

- "In accordance to the prophesies..."

- "My main goal is to unleash the wonders of modern chemistry..."

- "You may know me from such movies as..."

- "I'm John Kerry and I'm reporting for duty..."

Not sure if you caught this item out of Slate.

I think Slate misses the real slander here. It's not that the NYT used a "dirty" word. It's that it chose #43 to use the word. Someone was making a political statement of what they think of our 43rd President. The guy making up the puzzle used the word "scumbag" on purpose.

Make no mistake.

The New York Times continues to throw off even the slightest pretense of impartiality.
Baseball Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous baseball thoughts and observations.

Good news for the Red Sox is the opening starts by Curt Schilling and Josh Beckett. Combined the two "aces" are 2-0 with 14 IP, 10 K, 2 BB and a combined 1.93 ERA. That's a really good omen for the hopes of Red Sox Nation... Bad news for the Red Sox is the start of Manny Ramirez who has just 1 single in 10 AB this season (half of his AB have ended in strikeouts which is what is really bothersome)... I'm on record as saying that Jacque Jones will be a bust for the Cubs this year. After two games Jones is still waiting for his first hit (or should I say Cubs fans are still waiting for Jones to get a hit). Just saying but Jeromy Burnitz is hitting .333 with a HR already for the Pirates. The Cubs would have been better off keeping Burnitz... I'm also on record as saying this will be a breakout year for JJ Hardy in Milwaukee. After 3 games Hardy is hitting .364 with 2 HR and a .909 slugging percentage... The two leaders in RBI this year are Richie Sexton and Andruw Jones - both have 7 ribbies... Happy birthday to Framingham's own Lou Merloni who turns 35 today.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Colin Powell

Today is Colin Powell's 69th birthday. I was somewhat surprised that Powell was that old especially because he always seems so vibrant. The age of 69 may preclude him from running for President (I'd vote for him if he did) since he'd be 71 in 2008.

Ronald Reagan was the oldest man elected President and he was 69 at the time. Of course, John McCain will be 70 this August and he seems intent on running for president. So maybe age wouldn't be a major factor in Powell deciding to run.

Probably the bigger factor in Powell running would be the desires of his wife Alma who probably would like a settled comfortable life after years of moving around the world as Powell was posted from military base to military base.

It is no secret that Powell's current ambition is to be part of an ownership group that is vying to purchase the Washington Nationals. I would prefer he had a more prominent role in baseball. I have said it before and I'll say it again - I want Colin Powell to replace Bud Selig as Commissioner of Baseball.

Powell is uniquely qualified for the job. On the player front - the biggest issue is steroids and performance enhancing drugs. Powell lived through the reformation in regard to illegal drugs in the military in the 1970's. On the owners front - the biggest issue is dealing with the different personalities and the "have" and "have-not" revenue franchises. Powell was Secretary of State for god's sake. Dealing with the political infighting among the owners would be a piece of cake. And as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs he's already shown he deal with the haves (Army) and have-nots (Coast Guard) without ruffling feathers.

Colin Powell for Commissioner of Baseball.
Baseball Best Plays

OK - I went 2-4 yesterday - kinda a kissing your sister type of day. I was on the fence about taking Wakefield and the Red Sox and was going to go with the A's again instead. Always listen to your first instinct.

Today I like the Reds with Bronson Arroyo - $50 to win $47.62

More later (probably Brewers and Red Sox).

For the season 3 for 8 - minus $111.28

Sometime in the next hour - this site will greet its 300,000th visitor.

300,000 in just two years of existence. I'm pretty proud of that.

My first month with the blog I got 1,800 visitors and now two years later I average about 11,000 visits per month. Hopefully that number will continue to go up.

Thank you to all the folks who make my humble blog a daily stop. I truly do appreciate your visits. If you are a fellow blogger - thank you for adding me to your blog roll so new people can find my site.

Thank you all very much.
The Stanley Cup

Did you know that the Stanley Cup was the result of Arthur and Algy Stanley asking their father, Lord Stanley, for a trophy to award to the champions of the Amateur Hockey Association in Montreal? The silver cup only cost $48.67 and was first awarded in 1893.

The first “Stanley Cup” tournament was held in 1894. Lord Stanley never actually attended any of the Stanley Cup hockey games. Sounds very much like the owner of the Boston Bruins.

Speaking of the Bruins owner - did you know that the Boston Bruins have not won the Stanley Cup since 1972? This is mainly because Jeremy Jacobs bought the team in 1974 and no Bruins team will hoist the cup as long as he remains the owner.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

I Thought This Was Cool

This is why I read blogs. I haven't seen this mentioned anywhere in the MSM.
Baseball Best Plays

OK - I took the gas pipe yesterday going 0-3. I thought taking home dogs on Opening Day was worth the risk but on reflection - the only bet I might make again was the Philly wager.

I didn't know Nomar would be out of the line-up and I didn't know headcase Derek Lowe had other things on his mind. I thought Hudson would have trouble against the Dodgers and was right. If I knew about Lowe's issues - I would have taken the over.

The A's just got smoked by the Yankees. I knew Zito has had trouble against the Yankees (he is now 1-6 in 9 starts with a combined ERA of 6.61 including yesterday since 2003 against the Yankees) but I thought the fastball hitting A's lineup was worth the risk.

Today I'm taking the over (9 runs) in the White Sox / Indians game - $50 to win $43.48

Additional picks:

Astros over Marlins - $50 to win $22
Red Sox over Rangers - $50 to win $50
Red Sox / Rangers over 11 runs - $50 to win $47.62

Total for season - 1 for 4 for minus $102.38
The Hoff Says Red Sox to be Champions Again This Year

Red Sox definitely win the World Series this year - I have that from no higher authority than David Hasselhoff himself.

I asked the Hoff if the Sox would win the Series this year and he replied, "Hairyness is next to manliness."

What team is more hairy than the Red Sox? Thus the Sox are the most manly and being manly men they will prevail in the post season.

All hail the Hoff
I Want a Hovercraft

Really - I want a hovercraft. Specifically I think I'd like to have the Universal Hovercraft UH-13P. (However - I'm not really psyched to put together the kit.)

Anyone out there want to buy me my hovercraft (and put it together for me)?

Monday, April 03, 2006

Lynn Swann for Governor

Right now Lynn Swann is an even money choice to win his race for Governor of Pennsylvania against incumbent Democrat Ed Rendell. BoDog has Swann as a -$120 pick to win the governorship (that's an even money bet - you'd bet $120 to win $100 with the extra $20 being the "vig").

Back in late February Swann was 16 points behind Rendell in the polls but I've found the bookies to be a much better guage of the real life situation.
Vin Scully Wants No Part of Historic Home Run

Vin Scully wants no part of Barry Bonds passing Hank Aaron:
In 1974, when Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth's all-time home run record in a game against the Dodgers, Scully called it. But at the start of a season in which Barry Bonds could pass Ruth and then Aaron for perhaps the most cherished mark in American sports, the Dodgers' Hall of Fame announcer wants no part of that history.

"I would just as soon it not happen against the Dodgers," Scully said. "With Aaron, it was a privilege to be there when he did it. It was just a great moment. With Bonds, no matter what happens now, it will be an awkward moment. That's the best word I can think of now. If I had my druthers, I would rather have that awkward moment happen to somebody else."
HT Captain's Quarters
Baseball Best Plays

Today is the real opening day and I've got a few games I like today:

First up Cards vs. Phillies. The Phillies are at home and they are the underdog. First game of the season for both teams but the Phillies have been up in Philly for a while and should be better acclimated to the cool weather than the Cards.

Phillies are +$131 - Take the Phillies for $50 to win $65.50.

Next Braves vs. Dodgers. LA at home and as underdogs (+$104). Derek Lowe is poised to have a big season while Tim Hudson may have some problems this season. Also Hudson has issues with lefthanded hitters (they hit a combined .285 against him last year) and the Dodgers have a ton of switch hitters (Mueller, Navarro, Cruz, and Furcal) with natural lefty JD Drew as well. On top of that the Dodgers have Nomar and Jeff Kent.

I'm taking the Dodgers - $50 to win $52

My final pick today is Oakland (+$133) over the Yankees - $50 to win $66.50

Total for season - 1 for 1 plus $47.62.
Opening Day Thoughts

I know there was a game last night but today is the true Opening Day. Here are some thoughts on the games being played today:

- Nationals vs Mets: Tom Glavine normally gets off to a hot start (career 45-23 with a 2.76 ERA in April) but last year he struggled out of the gate (1-3 with a 5.67 ERA last April). If Glavine is hot in April this year - it will be a very good omen for the Mets chances to unseat the Braves as NL East champs. Meanwhile the Nationals are just a mess. They may win today but the over / under for wins this season is 74 and there's no way I see them winning 74 with 57 combined games against the Mets, Braves and Phillies. I predict a Mets win today.

- Red Sox vs Rangers: Three pitchers will be under the microscope in this tilt. Much of the fortunes of the Red Sox will be on the shoulders of starter Curt Schilling and closer Keith Foulke. Neither contributed much to the Sox last year and the Sox still managed 95 wins. With all of the teams in the AL East improved over last year - the Sox will need big contributions from Schilling and Foulke if they are to win more than 90 games and compete for a playoff spot. For what its worth - I see Schilling pitching 200 innings this year and winning at least 15 games. For the Rangers - the big question is whether Kevin Millwood can handle being the team Ace. Personally - I'm not sold on Millwood as a true number 1. Two of the best offenses in baseball are playing today which means we'll probably see a 2-1 game.

- Brewers vs Pirates: These could be two of the more exciting teams in the NL this year. Lots of young talent on both sides. If Pirates starter Oliver Perez can rebound to his form of 2004 - then he could be the dark horse NL Cy Young candidate. Word has it that Perez has added another pitch and may have his control issues worked out. Doug Davis starting for the Brewers isn't exactly chopped liver but like Oliver Perez - he plays second fiddle to a younger arm (Perez to Zach Duke and Davis to Ben Sheets). Everyone is looking for Prince Fielder to have a breakout year (and he has to be a big contender for NL rookie of the year) but I think it is Brewer shortstop JJ Hardy who will have the big breakout year (Hardy had a post all-star OPS of .865 last season and I can see him hitting 20 HR this season). If both the Brewers and Pirates are competitive this year then that will mean that the Wild Card will not come out of the NL Central.

- Cubs vs Reds: It's not going to happen in one game but I expect Matt Murton to emerge as a bright young outfielder while Jacque Jones is exposed as a fraud in the Chicago outfield. There aren't many expectations for the Cubs or the Reds this year so fans will have to content themselves with side stories and chief among them may be watching today's Cubs starter - Carlos Zambrano emerge from Mark Prior's and Kerry Wood's shadows to become a Cy Young contender in his own right. Zambrano has lowered his WHIP every year he's been in the league and if he can improve on last year's 1.15 then he just could be this year's NL Cy Young Award winner. Adam Dunn and Ken Griffey Jr. may get much of the spotlight for the Reds but the real player to watch is shortstop Felipe Lopez (who I predict will out-homer Jacque Jones this year). Great American Ballpark is a pinball machine with balls flying out of the park left and right but somehow Aaron Harang thrives there. Last year his ERA for home starts was a full run (almost) lower at home than on the road (3.31 vs 4.30). The over under for runs today is 9 but if I had to bet - I'd say we go under and see the first real pitchers' duel of the season today in Cincinnati.

- Cardinals vs. Phillies: Everyone is picking the Cardinals to win the NL Central (except me - I'm on board with the Astros). Today they trot out ace Chris Carpenter who was successful last year in large part because he was able to keep his HR down. Today he's pitching in a park in Philly where the ball really travels and the wind may be blowing out. The Phillies have been up in Philly for a few days now and will be used to the cool weather. Jon Lieber starts for the Phillies and I think the Phillies take this one.

EDIT: Added Cards / Phillies game
Subliminal Penis (Is it in YOU?)

After reading this post you may never look at a Gatorade bottle the same way ever again.

This also reminds me of the fact that the desk on the show Pardon the Interruption is definitely designed to look like a penis with Tony K and Mike Wilbon positioned to be "the balls".


Sunday, April 02, 2006

West Wing

When they said the show was going out with a bang - I didn't think it was going to be a gang bang. Seven couples - fourteen people had implied sex during this episode. You had five couples on the Santos campaign including the Congressman and his wife and Josh and Donna finally consummating the relationship. You even had a lesbian couple (not that there's anything wrong with that). In addition you had the Ron Silver character with his pre-election day chippy and in the White House there is the ongoing Mary McCormack and Joshua Molina waste of storyline.

Thank God that the one hook-up I feared didn't happen. I was afraid that the writers were going to have the John Spenser character Leo killed in the sack with pixie Kristen Chenoweth (like a cheese cracker). At the end of tonight's show Leo did have a massive heart attack and is of course dead (John Spenser having died in real life a couple months ago).

This show probably had the worst dialog of any West Wing episode I've ever seen (and I've seen them all). Even seeing Janel Maloney in a bra couldn't even overcome the lousy dialog.

The story is obvious and predictable. The exit polling was inaccurate and the "election" is too close to call (although the fact that Alan Alda wasn't even in this episode should tell you what you need to know about the outcome). The only question that isn't obviously answered is who will replace Leo as Vice president.
Baseball Best Plays

I'm going to try and track my baseball plays for the year. Starting with the first game of the year - Indians at White Sox.

In this game I like the over at 8 runs. Just a hunch really and just a desire to root for some offense in the first game of the year.

Indians/White Sox over 8 runs - $50 to win $47.62
Tim Salmon Makes the Angels

Veteran Tim Salmon has made the Angels opening day roster. To make room for Salmon - one of the moves made by the Angels was sending stud prospect Dallas McPherson to AAA Salt Lake. Is this a PR move by the Angels? Salmon is a sentimental fan favorite and the all-time Angel leader in a number of categories. Is this a sign that McPherson is over-rated or not in the Angels long term plans?

Do you think the Angels thought Chone Figgins was their 3rd baseman when they let Troy Glaus go?

And if it seems like Tim Salmon has been around forever - its because he has (well at least since 1989 when he was drafted by the Angels). That was the same draft that saw the White Sox take Frank Thomas and the Red Sox take Mo Vaughn. Doesn't that seem like the stone age now?
Condi Rice and Bias at ESPN the Magazine

Every issue liberal bias creeps into ESPN the Magazine. Without fail whenever anyone or anything remotely involved with the Bush administration is mentioned - it is accompanied with a snarky remark. Most times I just let it pass. I mean it would be one thing if the writers took shots at both sides of the aisle or if the snarky remarks were at least mildly amusing but that's not the case besides I've accepted the fact that the level of writing at ESPN the Magazine is just barely above Highlights the magazine. In the latest issue, however, this remark in the magazine just struck a nerve.

In their "Big 10" on page 30 at number 6 was this item:
[6] ...IN...
Tags is a goner, but Condi doesn't want the job. [Might be weird working with folks who have a plan.]
Oh I get it! Harr harr. Jolly good one old man! I get it - Bush doesn't have a plan!

Is that a lack of a plan for the war in Iraq or domestically for say the economy? See if it is Iraq then wasn't Condi Rice one of the principle architects of our plan in Iraq? Lefties like to slam Bush on Iraq but the fact is that in Bush's first four years in office just 800 more military personnel died than in Clinton's first 4 years (885 to be exact). However, in Bush's first four years in office he liberated Afghanistan and Iraq. For what good cause did those 4,302 military members die in Clinton's first four years? Which was the administration without a plan again?

If it is the economy - then for an administration without a plan people have money to spend on frivolous items like ESPN the Magazine. You would think they would be grateful for that.

Speaking of plans - when's the last time your read about a plan from the Democrats on anything? Really. Didn't John Kerry have secret plans on the economy and Iraq? He kept mentioning them during the Presidential debates. Why hasn't he released those plans? Doesn't he love his country? Maybe those plans never existed. Maybe the writer was referring to people like those at ESPN who must have some plan for dealing with Barry Bonds in a journalistic fashion without coming off as ignorant ass-kissers (like say giving Bonds his own show with editorial control).

Plans and a clue - Condi Rice has both. ESPN may want to get either.
Die Hard: The Ballad of John McClane

This was very entertaining and mildly mesmerizing.

Yippee Cay Ay! Who is the one who fornicates with one's mother?

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Odds to Win 2006 World Series

New York Yankees 7/2
Chicago White Sox 5/1
New York Mets 6/1
St Louis Cardinals 7/1
Boston Red Sox 10/1
Chicago Cubs 13/1
Oakland Athletics 13/1
Anaheim Angels 14/1
Cleveland Indians 14/1
Los Angeles Dodgers 18/1
Toronto Blue Jays 18/1
San Francisco Giants 20/1
Atlanta Braves 22/1
Minnesota Twins 25/1
Houston Astros 30/1
Philadelphia Phillies 35/1
Milwaukee Brewers 40/1
San Diego Padres 40/1
Texas Rangers 40/1
Seattle Mariners 60/1
Arizona Diamondbacks 100/1
Baltimore Orioles 100/1
Detroit Tigers 100/1
Pittsburgh Pirates 100/1
Washington Nationals 100/1
Cincinnati Reds 120/1
Colorado Rockies 225/1
Florida Marlins 250/1
Tampa Bay Devil Rays 300/1
Kansas City Royals 400/1

I think the Mets at 6-1, the Cubs at 13-1 and the Giants at 20-1 are way over-priced. There's no way the Mets are that much better a bet than the A's or the Braves (more a function of the money expected to be placed on the Mets than anything else) and the Cubs and Giants bets are plain and simple sucker bets.

The best bets in my mind at the Red Sox at 10-1, the A's at 13-1 and the Braves at 22-1. If you placed $500 on each team - it would cost $1,500 but the return would be a minimum of plus $3,500 or a maximum of plus $9,500. (I personally don't like waiting a full season for my money though.)
AMC Gremlin

On this day in 1970 - the AMC Gremlin was unveiled. I have special spot for the Gremlin in my heart because the Gremlin was the first new car anyone of my brothers or sisters ever bought.

I also happen to think that the time is ripe for a Gremlin comeback. Much like how VW had great success with the re-release of the Beetle - I think if someone came out with a modern hybrid Gremlin that it would be the hot seller.
Cynthia McKinney

I am so disgusted by Cynthia McKinney that I'm tempted to break out the "C" word to describe her recent actions. She hits a cop and now she claims that she's the victim? I hope to God that the police union takes this charge against McKinney as far as it can go. I hope bloggers keep the Democratic leaders defending McKinney's actions in the news. You want to say that you are for law and order and then also support what McKinney did? Yeah right! I would be really disgusted if McKinney got the support of the police unions in her district in the next election.

And while I'm at it - Danny Glover - fuck you too! This is the same guy who never misses a chance to cozy up to Fidel Castro.

The whole situation is sickening.