Friday, June 30, 2006

Top 5 - Movies Based in Massachusetts

2. Good Will Hunting
3. The Thomas Crowne Affair (w/ Steve McQueen)
4. The Verdict
5. (tie) The Paper Chase (tie) The Boondock Saints

The Perfect Storm, The Brinks Job and The Last Hurrah almost made the list but I gave no consideration to Love Story.
My 25 Least Favorite Red Sox Players

Baseball Crank had his list of his 25 least favorite Mets and it got me thinking. So without further ado - here are my least favorite Red Sox players (all players played for Red Sox during my lifetime).

25. Marc Sullivan - supposedly a nice guy but his complete lack of production and the nepotism that got him drafted in the first place get him the 25th place on the list.

24. Danny Cater - nothing personal Danny but we gave up Sparky Lyle for you? If I were older - I'm sure this would be further up the list.

23. Ramiro Mendoza - I didn't buy into that "Embedded Yankee" stuff but his performance his first year here did make you wonder.

22. Byung-Hyun Kim - just couldn't handle the pressure of Boston.

21. Sam Horn - big stiff and marble-mouthed NESN analyst.

20. Ken Brett - the 4th overall pick of the 1966 draft. Pretty much a stiff in a Sox uniform. The Sox could have drafted Norwood's Richie Hebner instead or Ken could have been more like his brother George.

19. Edgar Renteria - another guy who couldn't handle the pressure of playing in Boston.

18. Gary Allenson - .221 BA and .325 SLG and always seemed kinda like a jerk to me.

17. John Marzano - I guess you either love or hate most back-up catchers. I didn't like Marzano.

16. Tim McCarver - he played 11 games for the Sox in 1974 and 12 games in 1975. I really don't know anyone who likes Tim McCarver.

15. Jim Leyritz - what were the Red Sox thinking when they traded for a fading Yankee World Series hero?

14. Rick Cerone - 186 games with the Red Sox and again I ask - can't the Sox find a catcher who doesn't wear pinstripe pajamas to bed? (Hey five back-up catchers in a row! Luckily that's all the back-up catchers on the list.)

13. Steve Lyons - one of the most over-hyped players in Red Sox history. His only redeeming thing is the fact that we were able to use him to acquire Tom Seaver in 1986.

12. Ken Harrelson - talking about over-hyped players. Harrelson played only 183 games for the Red Sox (three less than Rick Cerone) but he was able to parlay that into a TV gig with the team when he was done playing (he's currently making the ears of White Sox fans bleed). Harrelson at number 12 - you can put him on the board - YES!

11. Steve Avery - he was going to replace Roger Clemens' production? In his two years with the Sox he went 16-14 and made $8.75 million for his two years while Clemens won 21 games and the Cy Young while making just $8.4 million in 1997 for Toronto. Biggest penny-wise pound-foolish move by the Sox in my lifetime.

10. Dante Bichette - he was supposed to be this big hulking home run hitter. Instead the player the Red Sox got looked like this.

9. Jeremy Giambi - David Ortiz was supposed to back-up Jeremy Giambi. Remember that the next time someone tries to tell you Theo Epstein is a genius.

8. Matt Young - the guy threw a no-hitter and lost. That pretty much sums up Matt Young.

7. Mike Lansing - my dislike of Mike Lansing is difficult to explain. Let me just say that I think the steroids era at Fenway may have coincided with Lansing's arrival. It should also be pointed out that he made over $6 million from the Sox in 2001 but in 2002 he couldn't get a roster spot on any team (and he was "healthy").

6. Larry Anderson - just two words explain Andersen's place on this list "Jeff Bagwell".

5. Jose Canseco - the steroid era officially arrived at Fenway Park with the signing of Canseco. His signing also symbolized the clownish reign of Kevin Kennedy where big muscles trumped winners like Jamie Moyer who won with guile and savvy.

4. Mike Torrez - the first big name free agent the Sox signed and the original embedded Yankee. Bucky Fucking Dent indeed!

3. Jack Clark - the poster child of the era when the Sox would overpay fading star free agents. Him being a jerk as a person cements him at number 3.

2. Kevin Millar - take a look at the production Kevin Youkilis is having at 1st base this year and remember that the Sox lost the Division to the Yankees last year on a tie breaker. The ONLY thing that kept the Sox from winning the division last year was Kevin Millar crying about his playing time. Oh and him being a replacement player doesn't sit too well in this household. THE most over-hyped player is Sox history. His mouth was constantly cashing checks his numbers couldn't cover.

1. Wade Boggs - I CANNOT STAND WADE BOGGS! Both Jim Rice and Dwight Evans were better players and better teammates - yet Boggs and his selfish love of numbers is the one in Cooperstown.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Global Warming

I share Tran Sient's cynicism in regard to Global Warming.

I cannot help but think about those books on how big a danger DDT was and now we find out that the danger was overblown and the result in banning DDT is that now malaria is once again a major killer in third world nations.

I also can't help but think about all that hype about population bombs. "Solient Green is people!" and all that stuff from the 70's. Now it seems that the population of Russia is decreasing and that many European nations are being overtaken in population by Muslim immigrants because the natives stopped having babies.

My fear about the Global Warming scare is that it is climate change with no man-made cause and that draconian measures on energy will cause our economy to be severely handicapped in competition against nations who only pay lipservice to the environment like China.
Last Night

Last night Pedro returned to the mound at Fenway and I returned to the final table of the Wednesday night poker game - similar results occurred for both Pedro and the man.

It was good to see Pedro get a well deserved ovation from the Fenway faithful. If it were up to me Pedro would have ended his career as a member of the Red Sox and his number would have been retired. My head, though, says that not giving him that 4th year was a very good business move.

It was equally good to see him get roughed up in his 3 innings. Poor Lastings Milledge. Omar will never be able to trade him to Boston now that he's developed a phobia of the Green Monster.

I watched the game from a local athletic club that has a regular Wednesday night Texas Hold 'em tourney. Its a $30 buy-in with $20 re-buys for the first hour. We had four tables each with 8 or 9 players with the goal of getting down to 2 players per table. The top 4 places get paid with the winner taking down $600 based upon last night's draw.

My table was fairly conservative and it took forever to get it down to three people. The other tables were waiting for us and I was concerned about wasting my stack trying to knock out one guy and be crippled at the final table. At one point a guy goes all-in for $1300 and I already had $300 in chips commtted as the small blind. I had Q / 9 offsuit but my gut told me to call (it would have cost me half my stack). After long consideration - I dropped. We "rabbit hunted" and it turned out that my Q / 9 would have been good. The other players finally got tired of waiting for us and the final 3 from my table made the final table a 9 player table.

I had just enough chips for twice around (blinds were $600 / $300) and I had not seen any good starting hands all night. One guy quickly busted out and we were down to 8 players. Right before I was the big blind - I got K/10 clubs. I called the $600 and the guy in 3rd position went all in for $1100. The button called and I added another $500 to call as well. The flop was crap but I was committed at this point so I went all in (which I should have done to begin with). The button called and showed K/J offsuit which held up against me for the sidepot. 3rd position took the main pot with a lousy pair of sixes.

Oh well. I was out in 7th place and out of the money.

One last thought from last night. Trot Nixon has been one of the hottest players in baseball. In his last 10 games he's hitting .389 with 9 runs and 7 RBI. For the month of June he's hitting .395 with 1 HR, 16 runs and 14 RBI. That's a pretty hot bat. Nixon is making it pretty tough not to re-sign him in the offseason.

Looking back I wish I called that guy when I had the Q / 9 - just as I bet Pedro wishes Lastings Milledge caught that flyball in the first inning.
Kal's World

Not sure if you stop by Kal's World on a regular basis but he's got three posts in a row that are keepers.

- The difference between hitting a seagull and hitting your wife in Massachusetts

- Deadbeat dads (the loophole is if the deadbeat dad is an "undocumented worker" then the Mass AG will leave him alone)

- An open letter to the loud guy on the train (my favorite of the three)

Kal - if you happen to read this - some food for thought. If John Kerry was a blogger - he'd be the type of blogger that posts pictures of his cat. Don't be a John Kerry type blogger.
A Year Ago

A year ago the two big stories of the day were President Bush's speech on Iraq and Sandra Day O'Connor stepping down from the Supreme Court. Bush's speech was well received and most of the media got the message that the public was sick of the quagmire talk. O'Connor was to be replaced by John Roberts who soon would be replacing Chief Justice William Rehnquist instead. The media tried to build up Roberts as a threat to civil liberties for years to come but his nomination process and his actions since joining the court have quelled any public gnashing of teeth.

Last year at this time the baseball hopes of the Washington Nationals and Baltimore Orioles were riding high.

What a difference a year makes.

This year the top two recent stories are about not whether the New York Times wants us to lose in Iraq but whether they can be prosecuted for their actions which some have deemed treasonous. Also topping the recent news is the Congress turning down a flag burning amendment to the Constitution.

What a difference a year makes.

Last year the question was whether we could win in Iraq but today I think most people agree that things aren't as bad in Iraq as the newspaper people were trying to make you believe. One indication that things are positive in Iraq is the fact that you no longer see any stories about the economy in Iraq or about failing infrastructure. And just think - if the Code Pink folks want to burn an American flag to protest the war in Iraq - they are still free to do so and they can still be guaranteed that the New York Times will cover their protest no matter how few people show up.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Top 5 - Presidential Marriages

On this day in 1919 - Harry Truman married Bess Wallace. Their marriage was absolute and the epitome of love honor and obey (Harry obeying Bess that is). Here are what I consider the top 5 love affairs between Presidents and first ladies in US history.

1. Harry and Bess Truman
2. Ron and Nancy Reagan
3. George and Martha Washington
4. John and Abigail Adams
5. (tie) Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter (tie) George and Barbara Bush
Odds on Who Will Be Republican Nominee for President in 2008

Here are the latest odds on who will be the Republican nominee for President in 2008 (odds via BoDog).

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice 3/1
Former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani 4/1
Sen. John McCain 4/1
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich 6/1
Gov. Mitt Romney 7/1
Sen. George Allen 9/1
Gov. Mike Huckabee 10/1
Sen. Bill Frist 11/1
Gov. Jeb Bush 13/1
Sen. Sam Brownback 15/1
Gov. George Pataki 20/1
Rep. Tom Tancredo 20/1
Gov. Haley Barbour 25/1
Sen. Chuck Hagel 25/1
Sen. Elizabeth Dole 30/1
Gov. Mark Sanford 35/1
Rep. Mike Pence 45/1
Former Gov. Tommy Thompson 45/1
John H. Cox 55/1

People with no chance include Gingrich (the story of how he divorced his wife precludes him from ever winning national office), Cox (never won a major election in his life), Mike Pence, Elizabeth Dole (she'll be 72 in 2008), Haley Barour (he promised not to run), and I'm of the mindset that John McCain has no shot because of his age (he'll be 72 in 2008) and because he's become too familiar and people will be looking at something new in 2008.

Long shots without much chance inglude Chuck Hagel, Tom Tancredo (single issue candidate - if immigration is big hot button in 2008 then he has an outside shot), Sam Brownback (his views on Intelligent Design sideline him in a national contest) and I like former Gov. Tommy Thompson because of his history with school choice programs but he's 45/1 for a reason.

I'm not convinced that Condolezza Rice will run (I'd put money that she won't) so I don't know why she tops the list. The rest of the candidates all have very good shots but I like Governor Mitt Romney at 7/1 and Senator George Allen at 9/1 as best bets.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Peter Gammons Operated on for Brain Aneurysm

My thoughts and prayers are with him.

It makes me nervous that the announcement from Bob Ryan reads like an obituary.
Dodgers / Devil Rays Trade

Minor trade today:
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The Tampa Bay Devil Rays traded pitcher Mark Hendrickson and catcher Toby Hall to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday for pitcher Jae Seo, minor league catcher Dioner Navarro and a player to be named.
I think this is a good move by both teams. The Dodgers have a real shot at the playoffs but are real weak at catcher and the back of the starting rotation. Hall is an upgrade at catcher (40-yr old Sandy Alomar was the starter) and Hendrickson is a big upgrade over Seo (the 2006 version of seo at least). It should be noted that Hendrickson was leading the AL in road ERA this season with a 2.20 mark.

The Devil Rays save about $2 million in 2006 salary - probably weren't going to be able to re-sign either Hall or Hendrickson and they get a young highly thought of catcher and a starter who was pretty good last year for the Mets. They save on salary this year and next. If Navarro turns out to be a stud or if Seo regains his 2005 form - its a bonus.
Curtis Granderson - AL MVP?

The MVP Award is traditionally given to the player from a playoff team that helped that team win the most. The exceptions of course were Andre Dawson with the last place Cubs and Alex Rodriguez with the last place Rangers. In both of those cases the players put up ridiculous numbers in relation to the rest of the league.

This year in the AL there is no player that is completely lapping the field in regard to triple crown numbers.

If you like your stats sabremetic style then there may be a surprise in store for you.

According to Win Shares - the AL MVP right now should be Curtis Granderson of the Tigers who leads the league with 16 (Joe Mauer of the Twins is second with 15). It should also be noted that the Detroit Tigers have the best record in baseball and along with leading them in Win Shares - sabremetrically Granderson has been their most potent offensive weapon - leading the team in Runs Created (RC) with 59.8 (Magglio Ordonez is second with 53.7).

So sabremetrically - Curtis Granderson probably deserves the AL MVP.

I'm not sure about you but that came as a bit of a shock for me. I never would have thought of him in my top 10.

I'm not sure what this says about the MVP process (of course there is still a lot of baseball yet to be played). I mean Curtis Granderson is a very good player but he's not Grady Sizemore good. Of course with the Indians bailing water after being swamped in the first half by the Tigers and White Sox - Sizemore or Travis Hafner or any other player from a losing team like the Indians would have to put up triple crown winning type numbers for MVP consideration.

I'm not sure if this is a good reflection or a bad reflection on taking a sabremetric approach to baseball. I was just shocked that Curtis Granderson figured so highly in the sabrementric approach. And I consider myself a guy who follows baseball pretty closely. I mean you would be laughed at if you offered Granderson for Ortiz or A-Rod in a fantasy league.

Curtis Granderson as AL MVP? I guess its not as farfetched as it sounds.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Oh My God!

Read this post by Lyford.

My reaction was to laugh and say "Oh my God!" I couldn't help myself.
Odds on Who Will Be Democratic Nominee for President in 2008

Here are the latest odds on who will be nominated as the Democratic Presidential Nominee in 2008 (odds via BoDog):

Sen. Hillary Clinton 2/1
Former Sen. John Edwards 4/1
Sen. John Kerry 21/4
Sen. Russ Feingold 7/1
Gov. Bill Richardson 17/2
Former Gov. Mark Warner 10/1
Sen. Joseph Biden 11/1
Sen. Evan Bayh 12/1
Former Vice President Al Gore 15/1
Sen. Joe Lieberman 17/1
Gov. Tom Vilsack 22/1
Sen. Christopher Dodd 26/1
General Wesley Clark 28/1
Sen. Barack Obama 30/1
Former Sen. Mike Gravel 35/1
Former Sen. Tom Daschle 40/1
Gov. Brian Schweitzer 40/1
Sen. Barbara Boxer 45/1
Rep. Dennis Kucinich 45/1
Sen. Blanche Lincoln 50/1
Gov. Phil Bredesen 50/1
Gov. Joe Manchin 55/1
Gov. Mike Easley 55/1
Reverend Al Sharpton 60/1

People with NO chance; Sharpton, Kucinich, Boxer, Daschle, Clark, Gravel, Dodd, Lieberman (too bad because he'd have the best chance of election) and Kerry.

Governors generally have better chances than Senators - so Mike Easley of North Carolina, Phil Bresden of Tennessee (even though he once lost an election to someone names Bill Boner) are longshots worth a look.

Governor Joe Manchin of West Virginia won't run because he's anti-abortion and has only held his office since 2004. If he does run it will be to make a statement and he'll have no chance of getting the nomination. Gov. Brian Schweitzer of Montana could be the next Howard Dean - pushing the early field far left but then falling by the wayside

Senator Blanche Lincoln could be a dark-horse Hillary Clinton without the baggage. Barack Obama should have better than 30-1 odds.

Of the rest of the favorites - I don't think Edwards has the resume (the best thing he has going for him is that he ran with Kerry) and I think Hillary has too many obstacles to overcome. I think Warner (10/1) and Richardson (17/) have the best shots.
Top 5 - Peter Lorre Movies

Peter Lorre would have been 102-years old today. Here are what I consider his 5 best movies.

1. M
2. The Maltese Falcon
3. Casablanca
4. Think Fast Mr. Moto
5. (tie) 2000 Leagues Under the Sea (tie) The Raven
Where Do We Find Such Men?

The Happy Carpenter has the story of "Iron Mike" Gunnery Sgt Michael Burghardt.
His colleagues cut off his trousers to see how badly he was hurt. None could believe his legs were still there. "My dad's a Vietnam vet who's paralyzed from the waist down," says Sgt Burghardt. "I was lying there thinking I didn't want to be in a wheelchair next to my dad and for him to see me like that. They started to cut away my pants and I felt a real sharp pain and blood trickling down. Then I wiggled my toes and I thought, 'Good, I'm in business.' "As a stretcher was brought over, adrenaline and anger kicked in. "I decided to walk to the helicopter. I wasn't going to let my team-mates see me being carried away on a stretcher." He stood and gave the insurgents who had blown him up a one-fingered salute. "I flipped them one. It was like, 'OK, I lost that round but I'll be back next week'."
You have to see the picture of Iron Mike flipping the bird.
The NYT, Freedom of the Press, Treason and Bad Business

The New York Times decision to reveal a program used by the Treasury Department and CIA to monitor the financial transactions of terrorists to "follow the money" is a hot topic this morning. Especially in light of Executive Editor Bill Keller's pseudo apology.

Intapundit thinks that the NYT does not understand basic US history:
A deeper error is Keller's characterization of freedom of the press as an institutional privilege, an error that is a manifestation of the hubris that has marked the NYT of late. Keller writes: "It's an unusual and powerful thing, this freedom that our founders gave to the press. . . . The power that has been given us is not something to be taken lightly."

The founders gave freedom of the press to the people, they didn't give freedom to the press. Keller positions himself as some sort of Constitutional High Priest, when in fact the "freedom of the press" the Framers described was also called "freedom in the use of the press." It's the freedom to publish, a freedom that belongs to everyone in equal portions, not a special privilege for the media industry.
I agree and I'd add that Keller's phrase about "the people who invented this country" is proof that Keller does not understand our basic history and does not even appreciate the power of using the approriate word. This country was not "invented" and anyone who would use that word to descibe how the US came to be is no wordsmith in the least.

Congressman Peter King calls what the NYT did treason and calls for those responsible to face charges. King says the NYT is "more concerned about a left-wing elitist agenda than it is about the security of the American people." Or about running a successful business I would add.

Take a look at the stock price of the New York Times over the past five years and you see a stock whose value had dropped in half over that period.

The old phrase "crime does not pay" could be updated to "Bush Derangement Syndrome does not pay." Maybe the Treasury Department and the CIA could come up with a new program where terrorists are convinced to divert their funds into NYT stock. That way the terrorists would be out of cash in no time.
Max Friedersdorf

Yesterday I read the 89 page PDF interview of Max Friedersdorf that was done by the Miller Center. Friedersdorf was among other things, the head of Congressional Liaison for President Reagan (think Josh Lyman getting the required number of votes in the House or Senate on any particular program).

I find these first person histories fascinating for the minor details you learn and for the greater appreciation of the big picture you acquire by getting numerous points of view on a specific time in history.

The minor detail I found to be of the greatest interest was the fact that in the early 1970's Don Rumsfeld was considered a "ringer" in softball. He played shortstop and was that good.

In regards to the big picture - Friedersdorf is yet another person who was hyper-critical of Donald Regan as Chief of Staff in Reagan's second term. At one point I was a big Regan fan (mostly because I read his book probably first among biographies from the Reagan White House). So many people have stepped up and said that Regan's CEO, tyrannical demeanor and control freakishness was a failure in serving the President that I now see Regan in a different light.

I think Regan was a success as head of the Treasury Department and his overhauling of the tax code was one of the major accomplishments of the entire Reagan time in office. However, his need to control access and information to the President as chief of staff badly served Reagan and probably helped make possible the environment that led to Iran-Contra.

With this newfound understanding of Don Regan as chief of staff comes a greater appreciation of the role Nancy Reagan played in helping and protecting President Reagan.

I am grateful to Betsy Newmark for making the Miller Center interviews known to me. I've been reading about one per week and I hate to over use the word but I just find them to be fascinating.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Top 5 - Jack Nicholson Movies

Thursday was Jack's 69th birthday and here are my choices for his best five movies:

1. Chinatown
2. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
3. The Shining
4. The Last Detail
5. As Good as It Gets

EDIT: Nicholson's birthday s April 22nd not June 22nd - that's what I get for posting in the middle of the night.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Jack Dempsey

The Manassa Mauler would have turned 111 today. If you aren't familiar with Dempsey - think Mike Tyson in his prime. That was the sort of fighter Dempsey was. He was 6'1" but just 187 pounds.

For me - when I think of Dempsey my first thought is not even of boxing. It is of the era that Dempsey was an icon of. I think of Damon Runyon, of Jack London and of post-war, pre-Depression New York City.
King Phillip's War

One of the least remembered episodes in New England's history is King Phillip's War.
The bloodiest war in America's history, on a per capita basis, took place in New England in 1675.

At the center of this cataclysm was one man, Metacom, leader of the Pokanokets, a tribe within the Wampanoag Indian Federation. At an early age, when relations between the natives and settlers were less stressed, Metacom was given the nickname of King Philip by the English, because of his haughty mannerisms. One of the many ironies of this conflict is that Philip was the son of Massasoit - the same Massasoit who had helped the Plymouth Pilgrims survive their first winter in the New World. A father's kindness would became a son's curse.
You can read more about the war here. This war almost drove "white" settlers from New England but the settlers prevailed by killing scores upon scores of Indians. It is no coincidence that beyond that first Thanksgiving you never really hear about Indians in conjunction with New England history. That's because they were almost all dead.
Baseball Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous baseball thoughts and observations.

I wonder how long it has been since Cincinnati has had two starting pitchers in the top 15 in league ERA - Bronson Arroyo is 1st (2.47) and Aaron Harang 14th (3.59)... I have to think that Yankee fans have to he happy with Johnny Damon. Almost a .300 batting average (.299), 5th in the league in runs and 10 HR and 40 RBI... Tom Glavine is 11-2 and now just 14 wins away from 300 for his career. The Mets have to be happy seeing how Glavine has not won more than 13 games in any season since joining the Mets in 2003. His win last night tied Glavine with Robin Roberts for 26th place on the all-time list. His next win ties him with Bert Blyleven for 25th and 2 wins puts him into a tie for 24th place with Tommy John... John Smoltz had to leave last night's game with a strained groin. Strained Groin would be a good name for a band. Smoltz needs 13 more strikeouts to tie David Cone for 20th place on the all time list... Manny Ramirez needs 7 more HR to tie Jose Canseco for 26th place on the all-time list. It took Jose 17 seasons to reach his 462 but Manny is just in his 14th season. With 20 more HR this season Manny will pass Dave Winfield's 465 and to tie Willie Stargell and Stan Musial's 475 for 23rd place. Winfield played 22 seasons, Stargell played 21 seasons and Musial also played 22 seasons... I had made fun of Justin Morneau as a Rob Deer clone playing 1st base but I have to admit that Morneau is perhaps the hottest hitter in baseball this month. In June Morneau is hitting .368 with 9 HR and 25 RBI. Going in the opposite direction for the Twins is Torii Hunter who is hitting just .229 with 1 HR and 5 RBI's in June... If the game today is not rained out - I hope the fans at Fenway boo the hell out Phillies starter Brett Myers. A man who would hit a woman is not a man - he's a piece of shit...

Friday, June 23, 2006

Baseball Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous baseball thoughts and observations.

The West Coast Offense - both the Oakland A's and San Diego Padres are in first place but they are also the only two teams in baseball with no hitter with a better than .300 batting average (minimum 100 AB)... The Devil Rays have a $40 million payroll but 25% of that comes off the books at the end of the season with Aubrey Huff ($7.5 million) and Travis Lee ($2.5 million) probably in their final season in Tampa. Julio Lugo and his $4.95 million 2006 salary may also be on the block. The Devil Rays should start the hot-stove season down to about $20-25 million in payroll and be in very good shape for 2007. In fact I look for them to finish higher than Baltimore next season... David Riske didn't exactly work out in Boston and it dosn't look like Guillermo Mota is exactly making a good impression in Cleveland (7.24 ERA). Would anyone be surprised if the Indians just gave Mota to the Dodgers (where he had his greatest success) just to get out of paying the rest of his $3 million 2006 salary?... One of the more ineresting things to keep an eye on will be who gets fired first - GM Jim Bowden in Washington or Manager Dusty Baker in Chicago. Both should have been fired long ago...
Joe Thorton - NHL MVP

Congrats to Jumbo Joe for winning the Hart Trophy as league MVP.

Trading away a quarter for three nickels - It's Called Bruins!

In case anyone is wondering - yes I am still bitter about the trade and I will continue the boycott the Bruins as long as the current ownership is in place. I hope they lose every game next season.
Michael Shaara - The Killer Angels

Today would have been Michael Shaara's 77th birthday. Shaara is best known for being the author of the American masterpiece The Killer Angels which in my opinion should be required reading for either high school juniors or seniors.

There are two books I read every year. At Christmas time I re-read Dicken's A Christmas Carol. Every year at this time I re-read The Killer Angels to remind myself of the sacrifice made at Gettysburg.

If you have not read the book - do yourself a favor and pick it up today. I should also say that the apple didn't fall far from the tree and Jeffrey Shaara's historical novels are well worth the read as well.

NL All-Star Starters

Here's who the fans have voted in as the starters for the all-star game (as of today - voting ends on June 29th). Let's take a look and see who's deserving and who's A Fraud.

1st - Albert Pujols - no brainer. Clear choice.

2nd - Chase Utley - no brainer. Clear choice.

3rd - David Wright - Scott Rolen could make a good argument but Wright is having an MVP type season (well except the award now belongs to Albert Pujols)

SS - Felipe Lopez - best choice in a week field.

C- Paul LoDuca - This should go to Michael Barrett (will he be the sole Cubs representative?). I think that starting next year the best NL catcher choice may be Brian McCann of Atlanta and that he even has a good argument to make this year.

OF - Carlos Beltran, Alphonso Soriano, Jason Bay - An argument could be made for Carlos Lee over Jason Bay but the game is in Pittsburgh and that argument for Lee would have to be a damn good one to convince me he should start over Bay.

Overall - I don't think there are any glaring mistakes made in the fan voting. Good job fans.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Top 5 - Observations from Last Night's Braves / Blue Jays Game

I went to the game last night at Turner Field and here are my top 5 observations from the 6-3 Atlanta loss.

1. It really was a contrast to see Troy Glaus playing short stop for the Jays last night and seeing Marcus Giles play second for the Braves. Troy Glaus who at 6'5" 250 pounds is the Boog Powell of short stops (has there ever been a bigger short stop?). Giles on the other hand is tiny. You really can't see how small he is until you see it in person. Giles is listed at 5'8" and 175 pounds but that might be generous.

2. I think Chris Farley has a younger brother and I think that younger brother is doing the fan interaction stuff in the stands between innings at Turner Field. Seriously. The guy doing the trivia questions and other stuff looks like a young Chris Farley with a goatee.

3. Whenever I see the "tomahawk chop" I think of Norman Chad who said that the tomahawk chop was plain stupid. Chad suggested a person do the chop for 10 seconds in front of a mirror and then tell themselves what they were doing wasn't stupid. The fans in general needed proding to do anything. Whether it was "charge", "make some noise" or the chop - the fans just sat there unless prompted by the PA system.

4. They don't call it Hotlanta for nothing. Temperature at game time was 94 degrees with a 27% humidity. That's Africa hot!

5. Attendance last night was 26,232. There were a ton of empty seats. The Braves even offer "student discount" seats. That's always a sure sign that the team has trouble selling tickets. If the Braves continue to lose - then it will get harder and harder to sell tickets. Already the gimmicks like "free hat" night and pre-game concerts and post game fireworks are being trotted out. Its sad that a team as successful as the Braves has to stoop to gimmicks like that.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Headed for a National Train Wreck on Energy

Thanks to Eric for pointing this out to me. I completely agree with this outlook:
First, there's the inherent incompatibility of economic growth facilitated by increasing energy consumption with regulatory policies that make it extremely difficult to build new energy facilities near population centers. This is compounded by the sort of NIMBY-ism that takes no account of the economic benefits of the facility in question. Add to this the current strain of unprioritized environmental concern, and you have a recipe for disaster. While nuclear power is a mixed bag, environmentally, it is undeniably the largest source of greenhouse-gas-free electricity that we have. Climate change poses a much bigger problem than nuclear power, as many people are starting to realize, including some notable environmentalists.
You can't have economic growth without addressing energy concerns and you can't be an Al Gore environmentalist without eventually embracing nuclear energy. You can feel good about yourself driving to work in your hybrid car but what good is that if your workplace is fueled by coal-burning plants? It is time to stop being ampere wise and kilowatt foolish.
AL All-Star Starters

Here's who the fans have voted in as the starters for the all-star game (as of today - voting ends on June 29th). Let's take a look and see who's deserving and who's A Fraud.

1st - David Ortiz - leading the AL in RBI and a man quickly becoming "the face" of both the Red Sox and maybe MLB. If you want to argue that Ortiz is a DH and the position should go to a fulltime 1B - then teammate Kevin Youkilis is the most deserving based upon performance.

2nd - Robinson Cano - leading Mark Loretta by just 74,000 votes. Jose Lopez of the Mariners may be the most deserving based upon performance but with no clear "star" at the position it will go to either a Yankee or a Red Sox player and honestly - I have no problem with that. I think Loretta may get a late boost from the West Coast as his Padres fans make their voices heard.

3rd - Alex Rodriguez - the fans in Pittsburgh deserve the chance to boo A-Rod too. Lots of good choices - Glaus, Lowell, Chavez or Blalock would all be fine but A-Rod gets the nod based on past performance.

SS - Derek Jeter - I have no argument with this (although I'm sure that fans of Miguel Tejada or Orlando Cabrera probably do).

C - Jason Varitek - Probably should go to Joe Mauer based upon performance.

OF - Vlade Guererro, Manny Ramirez and Ichiro - all deserving. Johnny Damon is 4th in voting but I don't see him overcoming the support Ichiro gets overseas. Vernon Wells is the most deserving of a starting position but is hurt by playing in Toronto.
Separated at Birth?

Alex Rodriguez and Texas softball pitcher Cat Osterman

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Energy Scare Tactics

A piece on energy conservation in the Boston Globe had me scratching my head today. Early on in the piece the threat is made; "In a worst-case scenario, parts of New England could face Third World-style rolling blackouts in coming summers if demand for electricity -- particularly for air conditioning and refrigeration -- exceeds available supplies."

Two things made me upset:

1. At no point in the article do the words "nuclear energy" appear. Nuclear power is the cheapest and cleanest power available but a nuclear boogey man exists which clouds common sense out of people's minds. It should have been at least been mentioned as an option.

2. This "we need to conserve" is a sham. Yes we need to conserve just on basic principle (good old Yankee "waste not - want not" - the environment, etc), however, the power companies want to raise prices and they will this summer (and may even have a few rolling blackouts just to make it look good).
In addition to staving off the blackouts, small reductions in electric demand could have a major effect on long-term prices. If New Englanders reduce electric demand by 5 percent during the few hundred hours of the summer when demand peaks, wholesale electric costs could drop by $600 million annually, or roughly 6 percent, according to Independent System Operator-New England, the Holyoke organization that runs the six-state power grid and wholesale electric markets.

On the other hand, if electric demand grows by 5 percent over normal summer peak levels, wholesale costs could jump $700 million annually, ISO-New England officials estimate.
Translated - prices are going up.
OK I'll Say It!

Have you seen those McDonald's commercials where the guy starts turning into a chicken because he can't get enough McDonald's chicken sandwiches?

Is that commercial supposed to make you want to eat their sandwiches because its had the exact opposite effect on me. Now you would have to pay me to eat one.

What were they thinking with that ad?
Red Sox Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous Red Sox related thoughts and observations.

I feel bad that things did not work out for JT Snow in Boston. There just wasn’t any playing time for him. Terry Francona tried to get him late innings work as a defensive replacement but Kevin Youkilis has been almost as good in the field – so what’s the point? Kevin Youkilis has also been indispensable as a lead-off guy – so there goes those at bats. It just wasn’t going to work for Snow. I will be curious to see where he lands… It is good to see Nomar Garciaparra leading the NL in batting with a .355 average. I think Nomar has a lot of baseball left in him and I hope he can play that baseball in one place… Both the Yankees (.286 team BA) and the Blue Jays (a MLB best .296 team BA) are hitting the ball better than the Red Sox. (.280 team BA). Both the Yankees (4.32 team ERA) and Blue Jays (4.76 team ERA) are also pitching better than the Red Sox (4.78 team ERA). The reason both of those teams are looking up at the Red Sox is because of defense. The Red Sox are arguably better defensively this year at every infield position and Trot Nixon being healthy has shored up right field (with the exception of some early season Wily Mo adventures)… Speaking of Nomar – the Red Sox gave up outfielder Matt Murton in the deal that banished Garciaparra from Fenway. I thought for sure that Murton would have a break-out season but instead he’s toiling away with a .258 batting average with just 4 HR and 20 RBI… How ironic would it be if JT Snow wound up as Nomar’s back-up in Los Angeles?

Monday, June 19, 2006

Strange Baseball Stat

As of this morning - Matt Holliday of the Rockies leads all MLB in extra base hits with 39. Who could have guessed that?

Just as strange - tied for second is Bill Hall of the Brewers with 38 extra base hits. Hall is tied with Toronto's Vernon Wells.

If anyone knew this without looking it up - they are truly baseball geeks and I would avoid them come fantasy baseball season.
Interesting Father's Day Observation by the Straight White Guy

And a fact about Tennessee Williams I won't soon forget.

You can only get stuff like this on the Internets.
Macro Economics 101

The editors of National Review make some interesting points about the deficit.
There is a lesson here, and it is vindicatory of the central claim of supply-side theory: Easing the national tax burden spurs economic growth, significantly mitigating the revenue loss that results from tax cuts. The national economy is a dynamic system, and it responds to the incentives and disincentives imposed on it by government policies. When businesses and individuals are allowed to keep more of what they produce, they produce more. And when investors are allowed to keep higher returns, they invest in more productive endeavors. This boosts GDP, which in turn boosts tax revenues.
A rising tide still does lift all boats - no matter how the Democrats will try to argue otherwise. (I'm always fascinated that today's Democratic Party distances itself from some of JFK's best quotes.)
Lou Gehrig

The Iron Horse would have been 103 today. Two pieces of trivia always stuck out for me about Gehrig.

1. His #4 was the first number retired by any pro team in any sport.

2. He died exactly 16 years to the day that he took over for Wally Pipp and his consecutive game streak began.
Interesting Read

Interesting take on the debate over the war in Iraq. I found the title to the piece very apt "Trying to Get Even - Democrats keep betting on failure in Iraq." Most gamblers wil tell you that people who "double up" to try and get back to even more often than not go broke. In poker they call this behavior being "on tilt."
Red Sox 10 - Braves 7

I'm a little bleary-eyed this morning because I stayed up to watch the final out of last night's Red Sox / Braves game.

I must say that these are exactly the sort of games that separate the division winners from the also rans. A winning team needs these come-from-behind victories and conversely - division winners don't let leads slip away and lose these games. The Red Sox will win their division this year - the Braves not so much.

John Smoltz and Curt Schilling gave us the pitcher's duel that was expected. Smoltz went 7 and gave up 3 runs while striking out 8. Schilling went 6 and gave up 2 runs. When Schilling left - the bullpen blew his lead - Rudy Seanez giving up a 3-run bomb to Jeff Francouer. When Smoltz left - his bullpen blew his lead by giving up 6 runs to the Sox in the 8th.

John Smoltz is a free agent at the end of the season and he might be traded by the Braves. Here's my pitch for Smoltz. The Red Sox send Rudy Seanez back to San Diego for a AA pitching prospect (and then recall rookie Craig Hansen who can't be any worse than Seanez). The Sox then send the prospect from the Padres plus 2nd baseman Dustin Pedroia to the Braves for Smoltz. Pedroia is a top prospect but I think if the Sox can sign Mark Loretta to a 2-year extension then we can live without him. I can't see the Braves getting much more for what probably will be a couple month rental of a top pitcher. With Marcus Giles struggling - Pedroia may be very enticing.

Pedroia is a top prospect but Smoltz would put the Sox over the top as far as playoff starters are concerned. Smoltz on the Red Sox probably make them the World Series favorites.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Why People No Longer Trust the Press

Joe Lauria has a nice piece talking about his unwitting role in Jason Leopold's "scoop" that claimed that Karl Rove was about to be indicted (the story turned out to be as reliable as stories about bat boy).
After reading his memoir -- and watching other journalists, such as Jayson Blair at the New York Times and Jack Kelley at USA Today, crash and burn for making up stories or breaking other rules of newsgathering -- I think there's something else at play here. Leopold is in too many ways a man of his times. These days it is about the reporter, not the story; the actor, not the play; the athlete, not the game. Leopold is a product of a narcissistic culture that has not stopped at journalism's door, a culture facilitated and expanded by the Internet.
Journalist now have about the lowest level of public confidence in their trustworthiness. A recent poll of British adults found that "Just 16 percent of British adults trust journalists to tell the truth." The article by Joe Lauria is exhibit A why that trust in the press no longer exists.

HT Instapundit
An Old Observation of Mine I Thought I'd Share Again on Father's Day

There is a muscle on your back, below the shoulder blade and close to the spine that every dad will at some point pull. Normally the muscle pulled is opposite of the shoulder that you have your child rest their head on when you carry them or when they sleep on your shoulder. If someone could come up with a stretching excercise for this muscle it would become to new dads what Kegeling is to expectant moms.

And speaking of Kegeling - every expectant dad who has gone to child birth class has tried Kegeling. It's just one of those things where the dad says "I could do that".
Baseball Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous baseball thoughts and observations.

What's up with Jake Peavy? He's normally an elite pitcher but this year his ERA is pretty high at 4.81 (and 5.13 at home - at a pitcher's park). It seems his big problem is giving up runs with 2 outs. Almost half of his earned runs (22 of 46) have come with 2 outs... Dan Johnson of the A's was supposed to be a stud hitter but the first couple of months of the season he was a complete bust. He was hitting just .196 going into the month of June but what a June he's having. For the month he's batting .429 with an OPS of 1.301. If you are in a fantasy baseball league - you might want to see if he's available and gobble him up because he's gobbling up pitchers right now... I was skeptical about Phil Nevin filling in for Derek Lee but Nevin has had 3 HR in 12 games and on OPS of .945 so far for the Cubs... Dan Uggla of the Marlins has to be the front runner for NL ROY. Right now he's hitting .307 with 12 HR (the same as fellow rookie Prince Fielder)... I continue to say that the Tigers have a fatal flaw that needs fixing and that flaw is closer Todd Jones. The Tigers may make the playoffs but they won't win anything with a closer with an ERA of 7.00. Fernando Rodney is going to have to take over as closer and the soon the better for Detroit... The Twins have won 2 in a row on the road. Stop the presses!... Do you think Anna Benson gave her husband anything special for beating the Mets yesterday?... I really like Luis Gonzalez but I have to say that the 57 HR he hit in 2001 are really sticking out like a sore thumb. That was 26 more HR then he hit in any other season. Everyone always points out Brady Anderson's 50 in 1996 as a freak accomplishment but that was exactly 26 more that his second best season too...

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Baseball Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous baseball thoughts and observations.

I guess Cole Hamels is no Zach Duke... Juan Pierre may be the worst lead-off man in baseball. Sure he has 24 stolen bases but you can't steal first and with a .295 OBP - Pierre is starting off too many games with an out... Speaking of the Cubs - how bad are they this year? Tampa Bay has more wins (28 to 26)... I think it is safe to say that Francisco Liriano is the real deal. His win yesterday ran his record to 6-1 with a 2.16 ERA... Scott Podsednik continues to struggle (hitting just .250 for the season with a measley .366 SLG) and I think his new wife may be wearing him out. Can't say I'd blame him if that's the case... Nobody dislikes Alex Rodriguez more than me but the fact is so far this season A-Rod is hitting .343 with RISP and 2 outs and he's hitting a blistering .429 with the bases loaded...
Nice Tackle By Bat Boy

Nice tackle by bat boy in Twins / Red Sox game from the other night.

Excellent form tackle. Wrapped the arms, lifted with legs, perfect!

HT Large Bill (via Aaron Gleeman)
The Seventh Harry Potter Book to be Released 07/07/2007?

This is hardly official but you have to admit that this speculation makes a good argument that the book will be released on July 7th next year:
It just so happens that July 7, 2007 is a Saturday. It just so happens that every Potter book since Goblet of Fire has been released on a Saturday (presumably to allow kids and their parents to attend those midnight release parties without undue hardship). It just so happens that July 7 falls right in the traditional June-July release window during which the other books were released. (Finally, while less relevant but still interesting, 12:00 a.m. on Saturday will be 7 p.m. Friday in the U.S., where the most Potter books have been sold to date. Fans on the east coast, already lined up to buy their copies, will see book 7 released across the pond at 7 p.m. local time - what a coincidence.)

Rowling has hinted at the significance of the number 7, most recently in August when her official site's Wizard of the Month was an arithmancer who discovered the number's magical properties. In Half-Blood Prince, it was revealed that Lord Voldemort had made seven horcruxes (himself included). Quidditch teams have seven players each. Gryffindor Tower's entrance is on the seventh floor at Hogwarts. The list goes on and on.

I can see it now: the biggest marketing campaign in the history of publishing, with one very short, very simple, very effective message: Book 7. 07/07/07. Woe betide the marketing departments at Bloomsbury and Scholastic if they don't clinch what's obviously the most perfect storm of circumstance, desire, product and marketing the world may ever know.
The book release can't come soon enough for me.
Lack of Enough Global Warming Causes Job Loss in Connecticut

Yesterday's New Haven Register made the claim that CT's jobless rate rose because the weather wasn't warm enough (registration required).
"Poor weather in May not only depressed beach-goers in Connecticut but also the employment figures for the month," said state Labor Economist John Tirinzonie in a statement. "With cloudy, cool conditions and record percipitation during May, the construction and leisure and hospitality industry sectors in May showed significant losses in jobs when seasonally adjusted."
If there was more global warming there would be more people at work today in Connecticut! Help the folks in Connecticut by taking your SUV out for a long drive today!
Happy Belated Bloomsday!

Yesterday marked the 102nd anniversary of Leopold Bloom's fictional adventures on June 16, 1904 which were the basis of James Joyce's masterpiece Ulysses. Many people (including Ernest Hemingway) consider Ulysses to be the greatest work of 20th century fiction.

The book begins:
Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed. A yellow dressinggown, ungirdled, was sustained gently behind him by the mild morning air. He held the bowl aloft and intoned:
- Introibo ad altare Dei

I feel it is my duty as an Irishman to read this masterpiece but every year I start and only manage to get about 150 pages in before losing interest. This year I once again will try and climb this mountain.
Something I Was Wondering About

States like Rhode Island, Connecticut and Pennsylvania have seatbelt laws but allow motorcycle riders to go without helmets. That seems strange to me.

Cars are safer than motorcycles but the states put laws in effect to make cars even more safe while allowing motorcycle riders the "liberty" to be the next Gary Busey or Ben Roethlisberger.

And don't get me going on those "Click it or ticket" taxpayer funded public service announcements.

Friday, June 16, 2006

So For Lack of Posting - Pretty Busy Day Today

Sorry for the lack of posting today - i've been pretty busy. Lots of things I want to get to later though - so check back!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Jack Handy - Deep Thought for the Day

Thought of the Day: Sometimes when I reflect back on all the beer I drink I feel ashamed. Then I look into the glass and think about the workers in the brewery and all of their hopes and dreams. If I didn't drink this beer, they might be out of work and their dreams would be shattered. Then I say to myself, "It is better that I drink this beer and let their dreams come true than be selfish and worry about my liver" -- Jack Handy
Stanley Cup Playoffs

Edmonton won 4-3 in OT last night to force a 6th game. The Oilers trail the Huricanes 3 games to 2 and I'm counting on Carolina to close out the series and win the Cup.

Before the playoffs began, Eric McErlain surveyed dozens of hockey fans and I along with 4 others picked Carolina to win it all. One person picked Edmonton. To make things interesting Eric had a donor agree to put up $100 for the person who picked the winner. The $100 is to be donated to the charity of the winner's choice and since 5 people picked Carolina - the single winner will be determined by random drawing.

If Carolina wins and I win the $100 - I will donate it to a fund that has been set up for LAPD Officer Kristina Ripatti, who was paralyzed recently after being shot by a convicted robber and murderer. Even if I don't win the $100 - I'll be making a donation.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Curt Schilling

I was curious to see how this year's start compares for Curt Schilling to his 21-6 season in 2004. By the end of June of 2004 Schilling was 10-4 with a 3.24 ERA and exactly 100 strikeouts.

So far this season - Schilling is 9-2 with a 3.59 ERA and 82 strikeouts. He probably has at least another 2 starts left in June.

It would seem that Schilling is back in 2004 form and that's very good news for Red Sox fans.
Tony Batista DFA by Twins

The Twins finally dumped dead weight 3rd baseman Tony (real name Leocadio) Batista. They designated him for assignment (DFA) and have 10 days to trade him or send him to the minors. Batista was hitting .236 with 5 home runs and 21 RBI. They replaced him on the roster with highly thought of prospect Justin Bartlett.

It is funny that lists Adrian Beltre as the most similar hitter. Beltre is struggling even more than Batista was but his huge contract (5-yr $64 freakin million signed in 2004) makes it impossible for the Mariners to trade or release Beltre.

I felt a twinge of guilt calling Batista "dead weight" but the realization that Batista has made roughly $18 million playing baseball got me over my guilt. I also must say that I don't think anyone would be surprised if it was later revealed that either Batista or Beltre was a juicer.

Batista is an ex-Expo and it is exactly that sort of washed-up player that appeals to ultra-maroon GM Jim Bowden. Would it shock anyone to see Batista win up with the Nationals (even though they already have Ryan Zimmerman at 3rd)?
Odds to Win WSOP Main Event

Dr. Pauley has the odds on the top players in this year's WSOP main event plus some excellent analysis. Here's the top 16:

1. Phil Ivey 150-1
2. Daniel Negreanu 225-1
3. Howard Lederer 250-1
4. Phil Hellmuth 250-1
5. Chris "Jesus" Ferguson 300-1
6. Gus Hansen 300-1
7. John Juanda 300-1
8. Marcel Luske 400-1
9. Greg Raymer 400-1
10. Barry Greenstein 400-1
11. Carlos Mortenson 400-1
12. Layne Flack 400-1
13. Scotty Nguyen 400-1
14. Mike "The Mouth" Matusow 400-1
15. Michael "The Grinder" Mizrachi 400-1
16. Sam Farha 400-1

I like John Juanda at 300-1 and Hoyt Corkins at 1000-1 is worth $10. I'll probably pick 5 players and risk $10 on each. The return should be between $3,000 and $10,000 if I hit (which is much better than wasting the money on the lottery or scratch tickets).
Chris Snow - New Director of Hockey Operations for the Minnesota Wild

Wow! Snow is only 24. Beat writer for the Wild, then beat writer for the Red Sox and now this? The new director of hockey operations for the Minnesota Wild.

Talk about being an achiever (as well as a hell of a writer).

Why can't the Bruins get guys like this?
Why Yankee Fans Boo A-Rod

Benjamin Kabak explains why he thinks A-Rod gets booed by Yankee fans. I agree with what Benjamin writes but would also add two more reasons:

1. A-Rod is the king of phony. Everything he says seems parsed and weighed to determine how it would affect A-Rod's commercial image. Remember the "controversy" over if and where A-Rod would play in the World Baseball Classic? Remember how he was found playing cards in a NYC card room and instead of saying "big deal its only a $5 table" he made all sorts of mea culpas. Nobody likes a phony.

2. His fielding. Right now A-Rod leads AL 3rd baseman in errors with 11. He was supposed to be a gold glove caliber player and he leads the league in errors? And many of those errors came at the worst possible time.

People in general boo A-Rod because of cumulative reasons and I don't see A-Rod changing enough any time soon to stop the boos. He may be a great player but he's not likeable.
Odds to Win Super Bowl

I was curious if Ben Roethlisberger's motorcycle accident had altered the odds to win the Super Bowl. Here were the odds for the top 4 teams back on April 16th:

Indianapolis Colts 11/2
New England Patriots 15/2
Dallas Cowboys 10/1
Pittsburgh Steelers 10/1

Checking the odds this morning finds:

Indianapolis Colts 13/2
New England Patriots 8/1
Denver Broncos 10/1
Pittsburgh Steelers 10/1
Dallas Cowboys 12/1

Surpisingly no change with the Steelers while Denver has gotten shorter odds (they were 12/1 back on 4/16/06).

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

A Steroids and HGH Primer

Probably the best and most concise explanation about what steroids and HGH actually are that I've seen. Alan Eliot does a tremendous job of explaining and answering the most common questions about steroids.

I'm definitely adding his blog to the blogroll.
Baseball Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous baseball thoughts and observations.

It looks like the A's are making their move in the AL West. They are 8-2 in their last 10 games and just 1.5 games out of first. Also don't overlook the Mariners who are also 8-2 in their last 10 and now just 3.5 games out... What's up with the Braves? From afar they seem to be a mess. They are almost exactly average as far as hitting (team batting average of .264 vs league average of .263) but pitching - normally their strong suit - has been awful. The league average ERA is 4.39 but Atlanta's team ERA is almost a half-run higher at 4.78. The league average bullpen ERA is 4.10 but the Braves bullpen sports a 5.12 ERA. They seem to need help almost everywhere. I guess the silver lining for the Braves is the fact they are only 6-games out of the Wild Card and they have the prospects to make a deal... Wow - I was really surprised to learn that Minnesota hasn't had a player hit 30-HR in a season since 1987. The Red Sox always seem to have a 30-HR guy... I wonder if the Mets would consider trading Cliff Floyd to the Dodgers for Jae Seo. The Dodgers could use a big bopper in the line-up and the Mets could use some insurance for the starting rotation. How about Cliff Floyd to the Tigers?... Bernie Williams needs one more game to reach 2,000 for his career. That's a lot but consider that Craig Biggio has played 2,625 and needs just 3 more to pass Andre Dawson for 31st place on the all-time list... The Cincinnati Reds have more than double the number of HR than the Royals (95 to 46). That's not too surprising but the Reds also have almost double the number of HR as the Cubs (95 to 49)...

Monday, June 12, 2006

LOTR - Funny Videos

You have to love YouTube.

LOTR - dialog replaced by moaning

LOTR - Taking the Hobbits to Isengard

LOTR - the beer commercial

LOTR - Lord of the Rock

If you are a LOTR fan you will love these videos. YouTube rules!
The Coco Crisp / Andy Marte Deal

Chad Finn has a new Touching All the Bases up and it includes this very interesting update:
Regarding that Cleveland trade: Andy Marte is hitting .259 with 4 homers in Triple A (looks like sly ol' Schuerholz knew exactly what he was doing), Guillermo Mota has a 7.82 ERA, and Kelly Shoppach lost his backup job to journeyman Tim Laker. Even though Crisp and David Riske are only now beginning to contribute, you'd have to say the deal is tilted toward the Sox so far.
Read the whole thing. Always good stuff.
Mr. Gorbachev, Tear Down This Wall!

On this date (June 12th) in 1987 - President Ronald Reagan made his famous speech at the Brandenburg Gate in West Berlin. Two years later the wall would come tumbling down and with it the Solviet Union.
"General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"
Lesser known and remembered is this passage which Reagan closed his speech with:
As I looked out a moment ago from the Reichstag, that embodiment of German unity, I noticed words crudely spray-painted upon the wall, perhaps by a young Berliner: "This wall will fall. Beliefs become reality." Yes, across Europe, this wall will fall. For it cannot withstand faith; it cannot withstand truth. The wall cannot withstand freedom.

And I would like, before I close, to say one word. I have read, and I have been questioned since I've been here about certain demonstrations against my coming. And I would like to say just one thing, and to those who demonstrate so. I wonder if they have ever asked themselves that if they should have the kind of government they apparently seek, no one would ever be able to do what they're doing again.
You can find a complete text of the speech here.
Duke Alleged Rape Fiasco

No blogger has been more on top of the Duke lacrosse rape story than Betsy Newmark. She has an update of the latest news this morning.
Red Roof Inn - Still Marketing to Losers

A year ago I wrote the post below. I thought I'd revisit it because Red Roof is still using the same damn commercials. I'm at the point where I really want to punch the guy who says, "multi-tasking" and "the chances of me working are remote" - square in the nose.
Have you seen the new commercial for Red Roof Inns? It features two white guys who seem ecstatic both with their rooms and the fact that the room has video games. I find myself asking who Red Roof thinks they are marketing to.

Neither of these guys in the commercials seems to be married. No phone calls home to the wife and kids for them. Neither guy seems interested in a quality restaurant or room service (which is a good thing seeing how it is Red Roof and all). Neither guy seems interested if the hotel has a lounge or in the local nightlife. Nope - the only thing that interests these guys is the in-room video games.

Red Roof is targeting to the loser market.

Part of me thinks that the guys are so happy that there are video games in the room because now they won't have to risk leaving the room and have a run in with one of the truckers who are always staying at Red Roof. I also wonder if these guys know that the in-room video games are charged separately on the bill and that their company probably won't reimburse them for the charges.

I don't see this commercial being successful for Red Roof.

If I could be so bold as to suggest a new marketing approach - I'd have them change the name from Red Roof Inn to Red Neck Inn. They could stock the pool with trout and have nightly fishing derbies.

Hey - can't be any worse than the current marketing campaign.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

National Flag Week

Today kicks off National Flag Week. Be sure to fly your flag this week.

HT Irate Nation
Happy 5-Year Blogiversary!

Eric McErlain may not have noted it but this week his fine blog Off Wing Opinion (and best place on the web for all-things hockey) just turned 5-years old on June 6th.

The traditional gift for 5-year anniversaries is wood (come to think of it - I think I gave my wife some wood on our fifth anniversary). So I'm thinking maybe a hockey stick for Eric would be nice.

Many more years Eric.
Baseball Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous baseball thoughts and observations.

Count me as surprised that this late in the season Raul Ibanez of Seattle has more total bases (123) than David Ortiz (120)... Just a reminder to Cubs fans - Corey Patterson leads the AL in stolen bases with 26... On this day in 1990 - Nolan Ryan threw his record 6th no-hitter - beating the A's 5-0. Ryan had 14 strikeouts in the effort... Maybe one the most impressive things about Mike Lowell's start this season is how few times he's struck out. Lowell has just 18 K's in 211 AB. Compare that to Kevin Youkilis (47), Manny Ramirez (51) or David Ortiz (45). Or if you want to compare Lowell to someone not on the Red Sox - consider that A-Rod has 52 K's already this season... What's up with Jon Garland and his 6.19 ERA? Is this a case of a player getting complacent after getting a big contract (3-years $29 million) or was Garland just pitching over his head last year and this year the pendulum swinging in the opposite direction? I'm guessing that Garland leading the AL in HR allowed (19) can't be helpful... Probably the best indication that Curt Schilling is back to top form is the fact that he leads tha AL in K/BB ratio with 8.56 K's per walk allowed. Now if he can just cut down on those HR (13) - he'd be all set... Even though he lost yesterday - I give credit to Mike Mussina for having an impressive season so far. Maybe his most impressive stat is the fact that he's leading the AL in ERA on the road with a 2.16 mark. He's making it tough for the Yankees not to give him a big dollar extension when the season is over... There are 16 starters in the AL who have gotten at least 6 runs in support per 9/IP. Of those only Eric Bedard of the Orioles (5-5 and 5.84 ERA) and Joe Blanton of the A's (5-6 and 5.60 ERA) do not have winning records. What else do these guys want from their teammates? There was pretty high pre-season expectations for those two guys too... Chris Ray of Baltimore (15/15) and Mike Gonzalez of Pittsburgh (10/10) are now the only two full-time closers yet to blow a save situation this year... Just saying but Kevin Youkilis had a .440 OBP as a leadoff hitter while Coco Crisp has just a .338 OBP as leadoff. Not saying tha Coco shouldn't be the leadoff guy for the Red Sox but I am saying that Coco's career OBP is just .332 and maybe Youkilis leading off is something to consider.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Godfather Thought for the Day

Michael Corleone is often thought of as a poor husband and father. He tried to be like his father Don Vito but it just didn't work out. Sure he loved his kids but it just wasn't enough. In the end his family is a mess.

How come Kaye never gets any of the blame for this? Seriously.

Keep in mind that Kaye was Michael's second choice (in fact second wife). If Appolonia had lived - do you think Michael would have had so many family problems? Do you think Appolonia would have ever had an abortion? Divorced Michael? I don't think so.

Maybe the real lesson to be learned from the Godfather trilogy is to not marry a WASP.
Bon Bon Land

Oh those crazy Danes and their amusement parks!

HT Samantha Burns
Police Raid Inspiration for Movie Animal House

This is a "dog bites man" story to me.

Fact is - on any given weekend during the school year you could go into about 90% of the frats in the country and find underage drinking, significant amounts of illegal drugs and other various legal infractions. Why do think guys join frats in the first place?
al-Zarqawi Killed - Women and Children Hardest Hit

You know someone will spin it that way - especially when you read this:
Gen. George Casey, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, had said four people, including a woman and a child, were killed with al-Zarqawi and the terrorist's spiritual consultant.

But Caldwell said three women and three men, including al-Zarqawi and spiritual adviser Sheik Abdul-Rahman were killed, but he cautioned that some facts were being sorted out.
Other details are also as of yet unclear - such as whether someone shot al-Zarqawi after finding him alive. Not sure about you but I have no sympathy for the women killed along with Zarqawi and I hope someone did put a bullet into Zarqawi after finding him still breathing.
MLB Buyers Regret

June 15th is the first day that a MLB team can trade a free agent they signed last off-season. Here's a look at some of the free agents who signed last winter but who could be on the trading block before the official first day of summer.

- Tony Armas signed a one-year $2.1 million deal with Washington and this is not a case of the Nationals being unhappy with Armas and his 6-3 record and 3.48 ERA - this is a case of the Nationals recognizing that they are out of contention and hoping to capitalize in the dearth of quality starters available prior to the trading deadline.

- Jeromy Burnitz signed a one-year $6.7 million contract with the Pirates. Getting more than half of that money back must be enticing to the Pirates and a team like the Yankees with both Matsui and Sheffield on the shelf could use some outfield depth.

- Scott Elarton signed a 2-year $8 million contract with the Royals. He's not having a good season (1-7 with a 5.09 ERA) but the reality is that his ERA is just below his career average of 5.10. This may be a case of the Royals having buyers regret but not being able to move the mistake signing.

- Roberto Hernadez signed a one-year $2.75 million contract with the Pirates. Hernandez is a former top closer past his prime but still getting the job done as a set up man (2.30 ERA in 27 innings this season).

- Estaban Loaiza signed a 3-year $21 million contract with the A's. At the time of the signing my first thought was "what the fuck is Billy Beane thinking?" Now with Loaiza being a bust (1-3 with a 6.39 ERA in just 5 starts) I'm still wondering "what the fuck was Billy Beane thinking?" My guess is that Beane could do a bit of bait and switch with Loaiza. He'll have people calling about Barry Zito (who is back to top form) but if Beane asks for the world for Zito - he can turn around and say "for a lot less you can have Loaiza who just needs a change of scenery." Some team will be desperate enough for an innings eater to maybe bite on the trade pitch.

- Ramon Ortiz signed a one-year $2.5 million deal with the Nationals At 5-4 with a 4.83 ERA - Ortiz is basically the National League version of Scott Elarton.

- Scott Sauerbeck signed a one-year $1.2 million contract with the Indians but between his late night driving exploits and his 6.23 ERA - a change of scenery may be in the cards for Sauerbeck. EDIT - Sauerbeck was released yesterday. Looks like his change of scenery will be the unemployment line

- JT Snow signed a one-year $2.1 million contract with the Red Sox but because of the emergence of Kevin Youkilis at first - the at-bats and opportunity just hasn't been there for Snow. Somebody will need a veteran gold glove caliber first baseman.

- Jeff Weaver signed a one-year $8.4 million contract with the Angels (how does Scott Boras do it?). I'm guessing there is significant buyers regret on the part of the Angels and I'm betting that Weaver is already being dangled.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Top 5 Live Albums/CD's of All-Time

1. Bruce Springsteen Live 1975-1985
2. Bob Seger - Live Bullet
3. Cheap Trick Live at Budokan
4. Frampton Comes Alive
5. J Geils Band - Blow Your Face Out
Top 5 - Random Thoughts About Toronto

1. The average price for a pint of Guinness according to my survey (8 pubs) is $7 Canadian (that's about $6.30 in US currency)

2. In Ontario you have to be 19 years old to purchase either alcohol or cigarettes. In Quebec the minimum age is 18 for both alcohol and tobacco products.

3. You see tons of sea gulls in Toronto and not so many pidgeons. In Boston it is pretty much the exact opposite even though Boston is right on the ocean.

4. I loved the fact that The Sopranos was shown uncut (but with commercials) on regular TV at 11:00 on TLN. I caught three old episodes while I was up in Toronto.

5. I can't recall any bars that sold Budweiser. I was mostly ordering LaBatts Blue but I thought back and can't recall if any of the bars actually sold Budweiser at all.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Stanley Cup Game Two - Wesley's Redemption

The Edmonton Oilers are now without goalie Dwayne Roloson - he was lost for the series in game 1 and with him went the Oilers' chances. Last night Carolina completely smoked Edmonton 5-0 to take a commanding 2-0 series lead.

Roloson hurt his knee in a pile-up late Monday night and that one play has effectively taken the wind out of the sails of the Edmonton Oilers. I canot help but be reminded of another time when one play in the Stanley Cup finals took the wind completely out of a team and lead to a steamrolled series loss.

That was back in 1990 and it was the Boston Bruins vs. these very same Edmonton Oilers. The one play that really took the wind out of the sails of the Bruins was Glenn Wesley completely missing an open net in overtime in game 1. Wesley scores that goal and it is a completely different series. Instead the Bruins end up losing game 1 and the series 4 games to 1.

So you have one play that takes the wind out of the sails of a team, you have the Edmonton Oilers now on both the giving and receiving ends of that one play and you also have Glenn Wesley who was the goat in 1990 but who is now poised to get his name on Lord Stanley's Cup with the Carolina Hurricanes. Kismet.

When Boston fans think of Glenn Wesley - for most it is that open net opportunity they remember. The hockey version of Bill Buckner almost. However, Buckner basically ended his career with that play while the open net miss happened early in Wesley's career and now near the end he'll get his championship ring. It is strange that even though Wesley has been with the Hartford / Carolina organization for 11 years - I still picture him as a Boston Bruin when his name is mentioned even though his 7 years as a Bruin are now dwarfed by his time with the Hurricanes.

Kinda like how I still picture Buckner as a member of the Sox even though he spent much more time with the Cubs I guess.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

One More Home Run

Frank Thomas needs one more HR for 463. That will move him ahead of Jose Canseco for 26th place on the all-time list.

Alex Rodriguez needs one more HR for 443. That will move him ahead of Dave Kingman for 31st place on the all-time list.

Carlos Delgado needs one more HR for 386. That will move him ahead of Dwight Evans for 48th place on the all-time list.

Reggie Sanders and Steve Finley both need one more HR to reach 300 for their careers.
CN Tower

I've been to Toronto more than a half-dozen times but one thing I had never done till now is take the tour of the CN Tower. I must say it is worth the money!

The CN Tower is the world's largest building and their sky pod takes you to the world's highest observation floor - 147 "storeys" high (back in the States we say "stories"). The view is spectacular but what is really, really cool is walking on the glass floor and looking down from approximately 1700 feet in the air. If you are at all afraid of heights - you may want to skip the CN Tower tour but if not - make sure you check it out at least once. It's worth the price of admission.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Martin Short - the Rant

Let me say for the record that Martin Short is not funny. Never has been. Never will be.

I don't understand why he's even somewhat famous. He's in Toronto doing a show called Fame Becomes Me. I don't get it. Why would people pay good money to buy tickets to see this crap?

Short is supposedly "known" for his Jiminy Glick, Ed Grimley and Jackie Rogers Jr. characters. Thing is - all of those characters are terribly annoying to the Nth degree.

I mean if you look at his body of work - the only thing that was close to half decent in which he had a major role was Innerspace.

My guess that Short became "famous" because he got into Second City which got him into Saturday Night Live. And from there his friends just took care of him by giving him roles. I'm also guessing that he originally got into Second City because he was acting like a goofball at a party where all the other Second City actors were blasted out of their minds. They remembered him as funny because they couldn't really remember anything.

Maybe I'm wrong about Martin Short being the polar opposite of funny. But i don't think I'm wrong on this one.
The Stanley Cup in Canada

I'm up in Toronto for a meeting, which is fitting since Toronto is the Algonquin word meaning "meeting".

Anyway - last night I met our CTO at the sports bar Characters to catch the Yankees-Red Sox. By the time it was 10-2 in the 3rd - the CTO was ready to go back to his room to do some work and I was ready to turn my attention to the first game of the Stanley Cup championship.

I decided that Characters didn't have the right sort of feel for a real Torontonian experience and since it was a nice night, not yet dark - I set off to find a pub. I wond up at the Devil's Advocate where I sat at the bar.

By the time I sat down - it was already 2-0 Edmonton (which I think is the Algonquin word for "oil"). There were four guys at the bar and all of them were rooting for the Oilers. Me? I'm kinda split of the subject - I picked Carolina to win it all but I'm also rooting for my boy Sergie Samsonov. As I said - everyone else at the bar was definitely rooting for Edmonton.

A few minutes after I sat down, a little old lady who was sitting in back with another little old lady walked up to ask the bartender a question. I had no idea what she was going to ask but I must say I was surprised when she said to the bartender, "My eyes are a little weak - can you tell me how much time is left in the period?" The bartender said "Thirteen minutes" and the little old lady yelled back to her friend, "Thirteen minutes Bertie."

It went from a 3-0 lead for Edmonton to 3-1, then 3-2 and then 3-3 and you could tell that almost everyone in the bar now expected Edmonton to lose.

I had a question that was bugging me so I turned to the guy on my right and said, "Do you mind if I ask you a question?"

"Sure - go ahead."

"If Buffalo had beaten Carolina - who would you be rooting for?" (Buffalo is almost right over the border from Toronto for those geographically challenged.)

"Oh that's a tough one. I think I'd still want Edmonton because they are a Canadian team although Buffalo is close by and they haven't won a cup yet."

"Well Carolina hasn't won a cup yet either and Carolina is much closer to Toronto than Edmonton."

The guy next to the guy I was talking to decided to join in the conversation, "Yeah but Edmonton is a Canadian team and Carolina is a newcomer to the league."

Me - "Actually Carolina is the old Hartford Whalers and they've been in the league as long as Edmonton."

First guy, "Oh hey - he's right."

The conversation then drifted into where I was from, the Bruins vs Canadians, Cam Neeley, Bobby Orr and the great Canadian teams of the 70's. However, long before the conversation was over I decided I was no longer on the fence. I was now rooting for Carolina to win the cup. It is much closer to Raleigh from Boston then it is to Edmonton.

Besides - Carolina is the American team.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Why John Kerry is Fighting the Swift Boat Veterans Now

Interesting column by Thomas Lispcomb The Truth, John Kerry, and The New York Times:
Kate Zernike's story on the front page of the Memorial Day Sunday New York Times, "Kerry Pressing Swift Boat Case Long After Loss," is an unfortunate reminder of the Times's embarrassingly poor coverage of Kerry in the face of the Swift Boat Veterans' for Truth charges in the 2004 election. Now as then, the Times acts as if the issues involved were between Kerry's latest representations of his record and the "unsubstantiated" charges of the Swift Boat group. The Times used the term "unsubstantiated" more than twenty times during its election coverage and continues to make no discernable effort to examine any of the charges in detail.
Lipscomb conversely does look at the charges in detail and its not pretty for Kerry. It does make for interesting reading though.

The question many are asking is why John Kerry is going after the Swift Boat Veterans now. Some see it as an indication that Kerry is going to make a Presidential run in 2008. I think it is something more pedestrian.

John Kerry's senate seat is up for re-election in 2008 and any lies about his Vietnam record will surely become a campaign issue in 2008 if they are not addressed now. The Swift Boat controversy combined with Kerry's very poor job attendance record as US Senator make him very vulnerable to both Republican and Democratic challenges. On the Republican side - former Governor and current Ambassador to Canada Paul Cellucci looms as a threat to Kerry's seat and given that Kerry's record will be the main issue a no-name "reform" Democratic candidate could have an excellent chance.

Kerry is addressing the Swift Boat Veterans now because if he doesn't - he knows he's doomed to lose re-election in 2008.

EDIT: Or maybe he's just a doofus
Player Comparison 2

Sitting in church yesterday I was curious about how Edgar Renteria's start last year compared to Alex Gonzalez's start with Boston this year. Gonzalez has been a wizard with the glove but is known as a no-hit fielder. I was curious how his start (till the end of May) compared against the high priced Renteria's start last year.

Renteria 2005 - .293 BA / 29 R / 4 HR / 21 RBI / 47 G
Gonzalez 2006 - .230 BA / 16 R / 2 HR / 14 RBI / 43 G

It should be noted that Renteria batted 2nd last year while A-Gone is 9th in the Red Sox batting order. The 2nd slot has more than adequately been filled by Mark Loretta and the the combination of Loretta and Gonzalez is much more productive than the combination of Renteria and Mark Bellhorn (who started at 2nd for the first half of the season last year).

It should also be noted that Gonzalez was brought on board for his glove and he has not disappointed with only 1 error so far this season and highlight plays in the field on a regular basis. Last year Renteria had 30 errors for the season (some were due to having stone-hands Kevin Millar at first). Renteria blamed his tough season on the infield at Fenway but he already has 8 errors playing for the Braves this year.

My conclusion is that the Red Sox made the right move at shortstop and I would go so far as to argue that the Red Sox now have the best defensive infield in all of baseball.
Player Comparison 1

My gut tells me that the Red Sox are so much better off with Kevin Youkilis at 1st base than they were last year with Kevin Millar but I wanted to check that feeling against the numbers. Here's where both players stood at the end of May:

Millar 2005 - .237 BA / 14 R / 2 HR / 22 RBI / 48 G
Youkilis 2006 - .317 BA / 38 R / 5 HR / 24 RBI / 48 G

After the exact same number of games played - the only place it is even close is in RBI which is only because Youkilis has been batting leadoff most of the year. I haven't even mentioned how much better a fielder Youkilis is than Millar. It still steams me that Millar played while Youkilis sat last year but at least now we have a vast improvement at 1st.