Thursday, August 31, 2006

Why Joe Wilson Won't Sue Richard Armitage

Byron York addresses the question of if Joe Wilson will add Richard Armitage to his lawsuit against Dick Cheney, Karl Rove and Scooter Libby. York comes up with the right answer - "NO" - but missed the real reason Wilson won't sue Richard Armitage.

Even though it has been revealed that Richard Armitage was the one to originally "leak" Valerie Plame's name and job to the press - Joe Wilson won't add Armitage to the lawsuit because there's no money in it for him.

Wilson got lots of press and publicity out of his lawsuit filed in July. I'm sure he probably also got a bump in book sales and appearance fees as well. Adding Richard Armitage to the lawsuit won't generate anything near the ready cash for Wilson. In fact most people who buy Wilson's line of BS and who know who Richard Armitage is are sympathetic to him because he was against invading Iraq so naming Armitage could actually hurt Wilson's standing as a Bush-foe.

If there's anything the MSM has taught us its to "follow the money" and the only one to make money out of this tempest in a teacup is the formally unknown Joe Wilson.
Top 5 - Van Morrison Songs

Today is Van the man's 61st birthday. Here are what I consider Van Morrison's top 5 songs.

1. Moondance
2. Into the Mystic
3. Brown Eyed Girl
4. And It Stoned Me
5. (tie) Have I Told You Lately (tie) Real Real Gone

Domino and Wild Night just missed the cut.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Top 5 - AL MVP Candidates

Here is how I currently see the race for AL MVP:

1. Joe Mauer - Twins
2. Derek Jeter - Yankees
3. David Ortiz - Red Sox
4. Jermaine Dye - White Sox
5. Manny Ramirez - Red Sox

That is how I see the race at this moment. This won't be the final post on the subject. Some quick notes on my ranking:

* Mauer is a catcher so not only is he been a monster offensively - he is also manning the most difficult position and doing it great (only 3 errors all season)
* Jeter may get the nod over Mauer because of the NY press (East Coast bias) and because some may vote for him as a "life-time achievement award" type deal.
* If Ortiz comes back and finishes with 50 HR - then he may get the award as a "make-up" for giving it to A-Rod last year. Don't tell me those thoughts aren't in the back of the voters heads.
* Dye is hurt because while he has been the MVP for the White Sox the second half of the season - Jim Thome was the MVP for the first half of the season.
* Carlos Guillen doesn't get the love because the pitching staff is the most important cog in the Tigers success.
* A very good case can be made that Johnny Damon has been more valuable to the Yankees this year than Jeter has been. I buy into this idea but realistically - Jeter is one of the top 3 front-runners for the award.
Rumsfeld Spells It Out

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld spells out the questions that need to be adressed in these dangerous times:
We need to face the following questions:

* With the growing lethality and availability of weapons, can we truly afford to believe that somehow vicious extremists can be appeased?

* Can we really continue to think that free countries can negotiate a separate peace with terrorists?

* Can we truly afford the luxury of pretending that the threats today are simply "law enforcement" problems, rather than fundamentally different threats, requiring fundamentally different approaches?

* And can we truly afford to return to the destructive view that America -- not the enemy -- is the real source of the world's trouble?

These are central questions of our time. And we must face them.
He also points out some of the problems being faced in getting people to face up to the reality of the answers to those questions:
We find ourselves in a strange time:

* When a database search of America's leading newspapers turns up 10 times as many mentions of one of the soldiers at Abu Ghraib who was punished for misconduct, than mentions of Sergeant First Class Paul Ray Smith, the first recipient of the Medal of Honor in the Global War on Terror;

* When a senior editor at Newsweek disparagingly refers to the brave volunteers in our Armed Forces as a "mercenary army";

* When the former head of CNN accuses the American military of deliberately targeting journalists and the former CNN Baghdad bureau chief admits he concealed reports of Saddam Hussein's crimes when he was in power so CNN could stay in Iraq; and

* It is a time when Amnesty International disgracefully refers to the military facility at Guantanamo Bay, which holds terrorists who have vowed to kill Americans and which is arguably the best run and most scrutinized detention facility in the history of warfare, as "the gulag of our times."

Those who know the truth need to speak out against these kinds of myths, and lies, and distortions being told about our troops and our country.
Be sure to read the whole thing.
Top 5 - Charles Bronson Movies

Charles Bronson died three years ago to the day. It occurred to me that I had never done a top 5 for Bronson's movies so here you go:

1. Hard Times
2. Death Wish
3. Breakheart Pass
4. Once Upon a Time in The West
5. (tie) The Magnificent Seven (tie) The Great Escape (tie) The Dirty Dozen

I put those last three movies in a tied because while they are all classic movies - they are ensemble movies where Bronson was not the true lead actor. Just missing the list was Mr. Majestyk (one of my favorites).

When I was a kid one of the arguments I remember having with my frieds is who would win a fight between Charles Bronson and Bruce Lee. I'm still picking Charles Bronson.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Theo Epstein and Alexander the Great

Here's what Theo Epstein's father had to say when Epstein was named GM at the tender age of 28,
"It's a little dizzying, that's a good word," said Theo's father, "but at Theo's age, Alexander the Great was already general manager of the world."
At the time that seemed like a good way for a father to keep young Theo from getting a big head and it was an even more interesting comparison to make after Theo Epstein had conquered the world of baseball by helping the Red Sox win their first World Series in 86 years.

However, maybe now it is time to look at the flip side of that comparison coin. Alexander the Great was dead by the time he was 32-years old and this year's team as assembled by the front office is closer to .500 than the playoffs. The myth of the boy-wonder GM is dead and Theo Epstein is only 32-years old.
Some Random Jokes Making the Rounds

One day, a man came home and was greeted by his wife dressed in a very Sexy nightie. "Tie me up," she purred, "and you can do anything you want."

So he tied her up and went golfing.

A woman came home, screeching her car into the driveway, and ran into the house. She slammed the door and shouted at the top of her lungs, "Honey, pack your bags. I won the lottery!"

The husband said, "Oh my God! What should I pack, beach stuff or mountain stuff?"

"Doesn't matter," she said. "Just get out."
Marriage is a relationship in which one person is always right, and the other is a husband.
Mother Superior called all the nuns together and said to them, "I must tell you all something. We have a case of gonorrhea in the convent."

"Thank God," said an elderly nun at the back. "I'm so tired of chardonnay."
Fifty-one years ago, Herman James, a North Carolina mountain man, was drafted by the Army. On his first day in basic training, the Army issued him a comb.

That afternoon the Army barber sheared off all his hair.

On his second day, the Army issued Herman a toothbrush.

That afternoon the Army dentist yanked seven of his teeth.

On the third day, the Army issued him a jock strap

The Army has been looking for Herman for 51 years.
Top 5 - NL ROY Candidates

Here are who I see as the top 5 NL Rookie of the Year candidates right now.

1. Dan Uggla - Marlins
2. Ryan Zimmerman - Nationals
3. Josh Johnson - Marlins
4. Hanley Ramirez - Marlins
5. Andre Ethier - Dodgers

Uggla leads rookies in HR and OPS. His combined runs and RBI are better than Zimmerman. Johnson had a shot but has cooled off. You forget how many stolen bases Ramirez has (41).

The above rankings are how I see the players but I think that Uggla, Johnson and Ramirez will split enough votes to allow Zimmerman to take home the award. And I should make clear that Uggla / Zimmerman is basically a coin-flip with Uggla having a slight advantage.
Wow! Just Wow!

Excellent video that you should watch. I don't know how USA basketball can lose after getting motivation like this.

HT Eric McErlain

Monday, August 28, 2006

Wade Boggs vs Dwight Evans

Dwight Evans finished with more triples, home runs, RBI, stolen bases and total bases than Wade Boggs. Evans career OPS+ is 127 but if you take way his last two seasons (which were regrettable) then Dewey’s OPS+ is equal to Boggs career OPS+ of 130. Did I mention the fact that Evans had 8 Gold Gloves and is widely regarded as the best defensive right fielder of his generation? Dwight Evans was a much better all-around player than Wade Boggs and yet it is Boggs who will have his bust in Cooperstown.

Both Jim Rice and Dwight Evans were better players than Wade Boggs and that is why you will never see Boggs' #26 retired by the Red Sox. To do so would be a slap in the face of Evans and Rice.
Top 5 - AL ROY Candidates

Here is how I currently see the race for the AL Rookie of the Year Award.

1. Jonathan Papelbon - Red Sox
2. Justin Verlander - Tigers
3. Francisco Liriano - Twins
4. Jared Weaver - Angels
5. (tie) Kenji Johjima - Mariners (tie) Nick Markakis - Orioles

I think that only Papelbon and Verlander have a real shot at the award.
Stat of the Day

I can't say that I really surprised by this:
But one can also find something equivalent to combat conditions on home soil. The death rate for African American men ages 20 to 34 in Philadelphia was 4.37 per 1,000 in 2002, 11 percent higher than among troops in Iraq. Slightly more than half the Philadelphia deaths were homicides.
Emphasis added.

More dangerous to be young and black in Philadelphia than to be in uniform in Iraq. I'm sure someone will try to blame George Bush for that too.

Read the whole article over at The Belmont Club
I Knew August Was Bad

But I didn't know it was this bad - the Red Sox have the worst record in all MLB for August with their pitiful 8-18 mark:
The worst team in all of baseball for the month of August. I mean, I don't care what happens to you, you cannot be the worst team in baseball for an entire month at $120 Million a year. Okay, to be fair, they could possibly win the next few days and climb out, but this is truly a debacle. And it gets worse, because en route to accomplishing this feat they were swept by two of the other teams way down on the shit list in Seattle and KC.
A Good Question

Jeff Schultz asks a good question - why hasn't the Atlanta Braves excercised the option on John Smoltz?

I know that the Braves have until the end of the World Series to excercise the option but at just $8 million for 2007 that option is an absolute bargain. The only plausible explanation for not excercising a bargain option like that would be if a multi-year contract was being negotiated. However, if that was the case - wouldn't John Smoltz be aware of that fact? A more likely explanation is that the Braves will excercise the option but will wait till the last momment just in case Smoltz suffers a serious injury.

If I was John Smoltz - I'd be a little peeved and if the option is not excercised I would not be surprised to see Smoltz shuts himself down with a "bad back" or "hamstring" injury to avoid the possibility of an elbow or shoulder injury.
Top 5 - Baseball Players from Wisconsin

Here are who I consider the top 5 players born in Wisconsin.

1. Kid Nichols - Hall of fame pitcher - 361-208 with a career 2.95 ERA - 7th all-time in wins
2. Al Simmons - Hall of Fame outfielder
3. Addie Joss - Hall of Fame pitcher - 160-97 with a career 1.89 ERA (2nd best all-time career ERA mark in history)
4. Burleigh Grimes - Hall of Fame pitcher - 270-212 with a career 3.53 ERA
5. Brad Radke - it was him or Bob Wickman or Bob Uecker (slim pickings for the final spot)

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Magic Carpet Ride

That's the closest I'll ever come to being a fighter pilot.

HT Grouchy Old Cripple
A Tale of two Thomas McMahon's

[I originally wrote and posted this a year ago but thought it was worth reposting today.]

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

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

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

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

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

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

I couldn't help but wonder if the first McMahon was born in the US whether he would have been more like the second McMahon.
Top 5 - Baseball Players from Illinois

Here are who I consider the top 5 players born in Illinois.

1. Rickey Henderson - the all-time stolen base king
2. Robin Yount - Hall of Famer and 2-time AL MVP
3. Robin Roberts - Hall of Fame pitcher - 286-245 with a career 3.41 ERA
4. Kirby Puckett - Hall of Fame outfielder
5. Al Spalding - Hall of Fame pitcher - 253-65 (an incredible .796 winning percentage - the best of all-time) with a career 2.14 ERA (9th best all-time). Spalding also started the sporting goods empire that bears his name even today.

Just missing the cut:

- Jim Bottomley - Hall of Fame 1st baseman and 1928 NL MVP
- Freddie Lindstrom - Hall of Fame infielder
- Freddie Lynn - AL ROY and MVP in 1975 (I always thought he was from California). I firmly believe that if Lynn stayed in Boston that he'd be in the HoF today.
- Ray Schalk - Hall of fame catcher
- Red Schoendienst - Hall of fame 2nd baseman - 10-time All-Star
- Jim Thome - will he be in the Hall of Fame?
- Joe McGinnity - Hall of fame pitcher - 246-142 with a career 2.66 ERA
- Red Ruffing - Hall of Fame pitcher - 273-225 with a career 3.80 ERA

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Curt Schilling and 3,000 Strikeouts

I have two things on my mind this morning regarding Curt Schilling. The first is does 3,000 strikeouts insure his Hall of Fame election. The second is why does he keep losing when I bet on him?

First let me address the 3,000 strikeouts.

Curt finished the game last night at 2,999 strikeouts just about guaranteeing that his 3,000th strikeout will come during his next start at Fenway. When Curt gets to 3,000 strikeouts he will join a very exclusive club. He will become only the 14th pitcher to reach that milestone (with Pedro Martinez soon to be the 15th).

Just mentioning 3,000 strikeouts always makes me wonder why baseball people value 3,000 hits so much more over 3,000 strikeouts. Through all the years - only 13 pitchers have managed 3,000 strikeouts but 26 batters have managed 3,000 hits. Historically it is almost twice as hard to get to 3,000 strikeouts than 3,000 hits.

Consider that Wade Boggs is 24th on the all-time hit list and Schilling is 14th on the strikeout list. Are Boggs' dink singles more valuable than Schilling's strikeouts? (And if you don't think that Boggs was the master of the cheap single consider that both teammates Jim Rice and Dwight Evans had more total bases than Boggs - in fact the only player with fewer total bases than Boggs who also had 3,000 hits is fellow dink singles hitter Rod Carew.)

But Boggs won 5 batting titles you say. Well Tom Glavine led the NL in victories 5 times and he if he doesn't get to 300 wins he'd be considered a borderline HOF candidate right now. But Boggs had 7 seasons with 200 hits you say. Well Bert Blyleven had 8 seasons with 200 strikeouts - that hasn't gotten him a ticket to Cooperstown. (Also please note that Ted Williams never had a 200 hit season - would you argue that Boggs was a better hitter?)

To get to 3,000 - you would have to have to average 200 (hits or strikeouts) for 15 seasons. Why is it that we value the dink singles more than strikeouts?

When Schilling gets to 3,000 strikeouts he'll also have 200 plus wins and two historic World Series performances to round out his resume. Will that be enough to get Schilling into the Hall of Fame? I think so but I also recognize that Schilling has ruffled many feathers in the sportswriter's ranks. It should be interesting.

That brings me to the question of why Schilling keeps losing when I bet on him.

I bet on Schilling in his last four starts and the results have put a dent in my wallet. I thought that my reasoning was solid. It started with his August 10th start against the Royals. Surely the team stopper won't allow a sweep by the Royals? Wrong. Next up were the Tigers and I thought that Curt would rebound after his tough loss against Kansas City. Wrong. Next up came last Sunday's prime time outing against the Yankees who had won 3 in a row to start the big series. Surely Schilling would not allow the possibility of a Yankee sweep. Wrong. Then came last night. Yikes!

Schilling has pitched well in all 4 starts. Good enough to win but the win wasn't in the cards.

Now here's my dilemma - do I load up on Schilling's next start under the idea that he has to win sometime or do I consider myself Schilling's personal black cat? If I load up and he loses - then I'm the black cat. If I don't bet on him and he wins - then I'm the black cat there too.

Friday, August 25, 2006


Very interesting post about "publicans" (private tax collectors) and the Bush administration's desire to return to the use of private tax collectors for uncollected IRS debts below $25,000.

I get the feeling that JL Bell and I differ politically but I must say that on the wasteful use of publicans in modern US society - we are in complete agreement.

And if you like history - be sure to bookmark (or blogroll) Boston 1775
Sean Connery and Johnny Stompanato

Today is Sean Connery's 76th birthday and I had toyed with the idea of posting the "Penis Mightier" spoof from SNL in his honor. However, while reading about Connery over lunch (taking a break from calls and emails) - I came across this nugget in Connery's Wikipedia entry:
While filming "Another Time, Another Place" with Lana Turner, her lover, a hoodlum named Johnny Stompanato, arrived at the studio in response to rumors that she was having an affair with Connery. He waved a gun in Connery's face, and Connery delivered an effective beating. Later, a jury would decide Turner's 14-year old daughter had acted in self-defense when she stabbed the abusive Stompanato to death; according to a forthcoming biography by Robert Sellers, the gangster Mickey Cohen thought Connery was in some way responsible for the death, and Connery spent some time in hiding.
I knew the name of Johnny Stompanato from the great movie LA Confidential but I never realized he was a real-life character. Looking into it a little further it turns out that the death of the LA gangster is being made into a movie starring Keanu Reeves in the title role.

I have long wanted to read some of James Ellroy's books and I think this is just the reminder for me to pick up one of his books this weekend.

Speaking of Hemingway

This morning I also came acoss this nice summation of the century of Hemingway. I mention it because I think this is the perfect one-paragraph summation of Hemingway the man:
His life for years was a moveable feast: moving between homes in Key West and Cuba and traipsing around Europe. From afar, it looked like a marvelous tapestry; up close it bore the moth holes of drinking, failed marriages, and personal decay.
It is well known that Hemingway committed suicide by putting a shotgun to his head. I have often wondered if the depression that caused his suicide was brought on by the death of his close friend Gary Cooper who died a month before. Maybe Hemingway saw the giants of his day slipping away and combined with the physical pain he was in - it just became too much to bear. Just a theory.
The Liberation of the Ritz Bar

I'm a big fan of Ernest Hemingway and if you were to mention to me the liberation of Paris in WWII (August 25, 1944) - the first thing I would think of is Hemingway "liberating" the bar at the Ritz Hotel that very same day.

Today is the 61st anniversary of that day. I was curious - so I Googled "Hemingway liberate Ritz bar" and I came across this article from last year in the San Francisco Chronicle.

The article is an interesting read - chock full of anecdotes about Hemingway and his "liberation" of the Ritz bar. However, the paragraph that really caught my attention was this:
The renowned author annoyed his colleagues in the working press. They were both awed by his fame and furious that he was playing soldier, in violation of all the standing rules about correspondents staying out of the war, even though the reporters were very much a part of the war effort.
I have no trouble picturing Hemingway having a bit of a mid-life crisis (he was 45 at the time) and playing soldier would have been his equivalent of buying a new Corvette. What struck me as odd was the description of the "working press" who in their own way "were very much a part of the war effort".

Can you imagine the press being described that way today? The American press could not be described as part of the war effort today. The press today serves their own self interests and not the public good. Stories are slanted to match a certain bias and agendas are almost completely transparent (even though the press likes to crow about being a neutral purveyor of the simple truth - yeah as long as "the truth" matches the agenda). I wonder how the Hemingway of 1944 would view the press of today.

I'm pretty sure I know the answer.

Thursday, August 24, 2006


I could name about 80% of the people.

Tao of Poker

Pauly just celebrated his 3rd anniversary of writing at the Tao of Poker.

You should be checking out this blog even if you don't like poker because the writing is just that good. (On second thought - if you don't like poker and you're easily offended - maybe you should skip it.)
Potato Chips

Today is the unofficial birthday of the potato chip (or as Dan Quail would say "potatoe chip"). According to Wikipedia:
It is believed that the original potato chip recipe was created by Native American/African American chef George Crum, at Moon's Lake House near Saratoga Springs, New York on August 24, 1853. He was fed up with a customer — by some accounts Cornelius Vanderbilt — who continued to send his fried potatoes back, because they were too thick and soggy. Crum decided to slice the potatoes so thin that they couldn't be eaten with a fork. Against Crum's expectation the guest was ecstatic about the new chips. They became a regular item on the lodge's menu under the name "Saratoga Chips". They soon became popular throughout New England.
Saratoga chips are still served at the racetrack and at various restaurants around Saratoga Springs. I've had them and they are fantastic.

If you have a chance - read the Wikipedia entry on potato chips. It's pretty interesting stuff.
Manny Being Manny

I just wanted to mention three things about this latest brouhaha regarding Manny Ramirez not playing Tuesday (and related to him having to leave last night's game).

1. Manny has played in more games this year than any Red Sox position player. Only David Ortiz has played in more games. You may say "with a $20 million contract he should play all those games." If that is your attitude - consider that Manny has played the same number of games as Alex Rodriguez and two more than Captain Intangibles Derek Jeter.

2. The last time the was a flap about a Red Sox star (Nomar) having a conniption because of an official scorer's decision - it turned out to be a completely bogus figment of the sportswriter's imagination (Steve Buckley).

3. Manny is hitting .328 with 34 HR and 100 RBI. You can find fault with many things on the Red Sox team but Manny's production is not one of them.

Leave my Manny alone.
Bad News for Ned Lamont

I'm not a big fan of political polls because so often they are not just wrong but way off. However, I do have great respect for Vegas betting lines because the people coming up with the line are literally putting their money where their mouths are.

The latest line regarding Joe Lieberman winning re-election as Senator from Connecticut but as an Independent candidate are:

YES [winning the election] -$260
NO [losing election] +$175

That means you would have to risk $260 to win $100 betting on Lieberman or risk $100 to win $175 on Lamont. For perspective - that is the type of line you would see if Notre Dame played Temple in football.

As an aside - my spell check wants me to change "Lamont" to "lament". It may have a point since there would be much lamenting if you bet on Lamont.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

Let's admit it that nobody really cares about USA Baseketball. And nobody will really pay attention unless the team of NBA stars loses and then it will be all about the blame game... Bernie Williams' web site got hacked... Have you seen that Flomax commercial? Is that the gayest commercial going? Guys with way too much touching and toasting with bottles of water. Not a woman in the commercial. I dare you to watch the commercial and not think that its gay... I think Larry Lucchino's sectret identity is the crotch.... Did you know that on this day in 1305 - William Wallace was executed? No historical proof that his last word was "FREEEEEEDOOOOOMMMM!!!... Just a reminder of how insidious steroids in baseball has become - last year at this time a rumor was circulating that Roger Clemens had failed a drug test. Many people bought into the rumor but a year later it seems to have been just a rumor despite being "been confirmed by multiple sources inside MLB."

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The State of the Red Sox

I'm currently watching the Red Sox on TV out on the West Coast trying to rebound from "that which must not be named". So I thought I just jot down some thoughts about the state of the team.

I am amazed on how some so-called experts continue to miss the obvious. Tom Verducci is normally a very astute baseball observer but I feel he completely swung and missed with his article today. Verducci starts out strong by pointing out they gave up a historic number of runs this weekend but then he completely misses the boat. Tom - who do you think gave up those runs? Verducci names six problems with the Sox and only two concern the pitching (and one only tangentially). Plus Verducci only mentions the bullpen in reference to Terry Francona's handling of it. Talk about not seeing the forest through the trees.

The Red Sox are 26th out of 30 MLB teams in team ERA. Only the Nationals, Devil Rays, Orioles and Royals have been worse. The problem is staring people right in the face. The frustrating thing is I'm not sure what the front office could have done different in assembling the pitching staff.

When you look at what relief pitchers were available as free agents last off season and you make the assumption that the Red Sox weren't going to out bid the Yankees for Kyle Farnsworth (3-years $17 million), the Phillies for Tom Gordon (3-years $18 million) or the Blue Jays for BJ Ryan (5-years $47 million) - the picking were pretty slim. The Cubs rolled the dice and offered the 34-year old Scott Eyre $11 million over 3-years and the 33-year old Bobby Howry $12 million over 3-years. The Red Sox won't make that sort of risky investment out of fear of having dead money on the books that final year of the contract. Giving $13 million to Braden Looper? No thanks. The only bargain it seems that was out there was Joe Borowski. Hindsight is 20/20 but I really can't blame the Sox for trying to fill the bullpen out with Rudy Seanez and Julian Tavarez.

Sure Seanez was a complete failure his first tour with Boston and sure Tavarez is a complete fricken nutjob but giving the front office the benefit of the doubt - it is true that the pickings were slim.

Think back to spring training. The Sox were supposed to have a rotation of Schilling, Josh Beckett, David Wells, Tim Wakefield and Matt Clement. That's a pretty good rotation on paper. Sure Matt Clement isn't worth $9 million per year but on paper he would have been the best #5 starter in the AL (he made the All-Star team in 2005 for cripes sake). Plus the Red Sox had Jon Lester stashed in Pawtucket. The pitching was supposed to be fine. Instead its has sucked. And yet Tom Verducci can't seem to blame the pitching for the state the Red Sox find themselves in.

As I mentioned Verducci did address the pitching twice. The first time was in regard to trading Bronson Arroyo for Wily Mo Pena and the second to take a shot at Josh Beckett. Here is part of what he said about the Arroyo for Pena trade:
Boston so loved its inventory of pitchers that it traded a reliable starter to Cincinnati for a project of an outfielder. The flaw in the thinking was that the staff would stay healthy and that the rookies could help reinforce the staff in a pennant race. Pena, with his awesome power, has a big upside. But his strike-zone discipline is poor and he appears ill-equipped to defend the tricky and large right field expanse at Fenway Park. With visions of Pena, 24, replacing Nixon for years to come, the front office had no interest in assuming all of the contract of Bobby Abreu from Philadelphia, letting him and the necessary but intriguing tariff, pitcher Cory Lidle, both slide to the Yankees.
I guess Verducci thinks the Red Sox should have foresaw David Wells taking a line drive off the knee cap, Tim Wakefield breaking a rib and Matt Clement going down for the season. He also somehow tries to link the trade of Arroyo with the refusal to trade for Abreu. Pena can play all three outfield positions and is only 24. Yes he does have trouble in Fenway's right field (the most difficult right field in all of baseball) but he's 24 and there's plenty of time for him to learn. Just for the record Pena has an OPS of .865 this season compared to Abreu's .892 (and Pena has 1 more HR in half the at bats).

Verducci then threw this shot at Josh Beckett:
Josh Beckett. Beckett is to Boston what Jeff Weaver was to the Yankees: the ace that never was.
That's a cheap shot. Beckett has already won more games this season with the Red Sox than Weaver did in his time in pinstripes. Anyone who has watched the Red Sox this season knows that Beckett has had two major flaws; getting out of the first inning (he has an 11.57 ERA in his first 15 pitches) and giving up home runs (his 32 HR by far are the most in the AL). Both of those problems should be fixable.

Yes the Red Sox pitching staff has been Murphy's Law incarnate this season but what could have been done? The pitchers just haven't made pitches. If the Red Sox do miss the playoffs then the three places where the responsibility will fall will be:

1. The pitchers. Playing at replacement levels should lead to replacement.
2. The front office. Yes I know there is a "plan" and yes I don't want to see another Jeff Suppan cost us a Freddie Sanchez or heaven forbid a Larry Andersen cost us a Jeff Bagwell but there were some relievers out there to be had. Don't tell me acquiring a Rheal Cormier or some of the other relievers dealt would have ruined the plan. Yeah I'm talking to you Theo.
3. The coaches. And I'm not talking about Francona. I'm talking Dave Wallace and Al Nipper. Maybe there's a need for a change there at the end of the season.

How people can look at where the Red Sox are today and not recognize that its the pitching that's the problem baffles me.
I've Seen Some Ridiculous Things

But this takes the cake

HT Something Awful
Good Analysis from Hugh Hewitt

Hugh Hewitt zeros in on the real state of politics for the Democrats and of the destructive influence of the far left:
The "resounding defeat" was a four point win, 52% to 48%, and "payback" has run into the problem of a double digit Lieberman lead in polls of all Connecticut voters. The Lord of the Flies dance that broke out among the followers of Kosputin hasn't slowed, though, and if anything, their anger against Lieberman and the mainstream of Connecticut voters is mounting. The force of their fury will not help Lamont, of course, but will further disfigure his message and repulse the mainstream. Had the campaign run another week, the effects of the Great Snarl that is the hard left would have given Lieberman a majority. There is little evidence that voters in the general election will rally to the Lamont banner and join in the purge. Like Dean in Iowa, the fury of the left in Connecticut is its own worst enemy.

A Lamont defeat will have far ranging effects on the Democratic left, though they may not recognize the nature of the loss for some time. Lamont's primary win may be their Pickett's Charge, a high water mark which will remain their greatest day. The anger and hate which drives much of their movement is simply incapable of assembling majorities in general elections, and Connecticut may be the school in which that lesson is impressed upon the center of the Democratic Party, a necessary education if the party of FDR, Truman and JFK is to recover its balance on issues of national security.
Truman and JFK believed in a strong military (bear any burden, etc.) and it cannot be said enough that tax cuts were a JFK innovation (rising tides lifting all boats, etc.). If the Democratic Party got back to its Truman and JFK roots - they would sweep all the 2006 and 2008 elections. The far left Kos-sacks keep dragging the party to the left though and from returning to those roots and that addiction to far-left primary stances will be (and has been) the downfall of the Democratic Party.
The Scream

On this date in 2004 - Edward Munch's masterpiece The Scream was stolen from the Munch Museum in Oslo, Norway. The painting still has not been recovered.

Yesterday the Yankees stole the last vestige of hope of winning the AL East from Red Sox Nation. The Yankees completed a 5-game sweep of the Red Sox leaving the only detail what to call the whitewash. Today sportswriters have the job of coming up with a colorful phrase to describe the devastating 5-game debacle. My guess is that with the current decline in talent in the sportswriter ranks - the best phrase will be something lame like "Boston Massacre II".

The original title of Munch's work was "scream passing through nature". I don't run a sports section but if I did I think for today's section I would skip writing any type of analysis of the sweep and simply photoshop a picture of the scream. I would put a Red Sox cap on the guy in the foreground and Yankee caps on the guys in the background. The readers of the sports section would not only get the message - they would probably relate to it very well.

I would title the piece - "scream passing through Red Sox Nation."

Monday, August 21, 2006

Joe Strummer

Today would have been Joe Strummer's 54th birthday. Instead it is a sad reminder of a talent taken too soon (Strummer died in 2002 at age 50).

For many people my age The Clash were the seminal band of their youth. To me Strummer was always a guy who just "got it." He was a guy who didn't seem to put on airs and who seemed to understand the way things really are. This included the War on Terror. From a November 2001 interview:
I think you have to grow up and realise that we're facing religious fanatics who would kill everyone in the world who doesn't do what they say.
I may just put London Calling on endless loop today in tribute.
My Feeling About Baseball This Morning

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Ben Stein Hits the Nail on the Head

Once again Ben Stein, the economist, actor, essayist, man about town puts the issue nobody talks about but underlies much of the discussion clearly into the light:
We’re in a war with people who want to kill us all and wreck our civilization. They’re taking it very seriously. We, on the other hand, are worrying about leveraged buyouts and special dividends and how much junk debt the newly formed private entity can support before we sell it to the ultimate sucker, the public shareholder.

We’re worrying whether Hollywood will forgive Mel Gibson and what the next move is for big homes in East Hampton. We’re rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. The terrorists are the iceberg.

WHAT stands between us and the iceberg are the miraculously brave men and women of the armed forces. They’re heroes and saints as far as I’m concerned. But can they do it without the rest of us? Can they do it while we’re all working on our tans and trying to have our taxes lowered again? How can we leave them out there all alone to die for us when we treat the war to save civilization as something we can just wish away?
Read the whole thing.
Red Sox Woes

I apologize up front if this rant goes on tangents but some things need to be said and some things that may not seem related have effects on the recent causes of our woes.

In life and in business it is best to operate with a "fix the problem - not the blame" mantra. However, Red Sox fans find themselves powerless to fix the problem so it becomes almost automatic to "fix the blame". I guess I'm no different from the average fan because I do have some blame to fix this morning.

To support the argument I going to present - let me first point out that the Red Sox have just parted ways with Rudy Seanez.

Seanez was a failure for the Red Sox this year. Could people have seen this coming? Seanez pitched in 9 games for the Red Sox in 2003 and was a disaster. Yet Seanez rehabilitated himself in San Diego going 7-1 with a 2.69 ERA in 57 games with the Padres last year. When Seanez was signed - I wondered if things had changed but trusted the Sox front office knew what they were doing. I remember John Henry being quoted thinking that Seanez could be "our Tom Gordon".

About a month ago I noticed that Alan Embree was doing pretty well for the Padres this year. However, even with decent numbers - would anyone trust Embree back in the pressure of playing at Fenway? Do you think the Yankees would give him another shot at pitching in the Bronx? The answers are "no" and "no". Yet we gave Rudy Seanez another shot because his numbers looked so enticing. Why was that?

Red Sox fans had lots of hope for this season and for good reason. The Sox were better at 1st with Youkilis instead of Millar; better at 2nd with Loretta instead of Bellhorn; better at short with Alex Gonzalez instead of Renteria (at first it was assumed with at least the glove but the bat has been an improvement too) plus Curt Schilling was healthy and 26-year old stud Josh Beckett was acquired to be the number 2 and ace in waiting. What wasn't there to be hopeful about? Only 3rd (Lowell replacing Mueller) and center field (Coco replacing Johnny) were question marks.

However Robert Burns knew what he was speaking of when he wrote, "The best laid schemes o' Mice an' Men, Gang aft agley." That's the Red Sox right now - gang aft agley.

I look back at the 2004 championship team and I start seeing more and more luck involved. The current ownership was lucky that Dan Duquette made the deal for Varitek and Lowe. They were lucky Theo did not trade Lowe midseason for Clement as has been reported (the Cubs said no - so I have heard). They were lucky to get Ortiz. Lucky, lucky, lucky. No plan - luck.

Now I'm wondering if the Red Sox are relying on numbers and youth too much. Whenever you hear a defense of Theo Epstein not acquiring a player at the trade deadline you are bound to hear about Theo not wanting to sacrifice the youth and "the plan" for the future. That's great and I agree. How many Jeff Suppan lessons do you have to learn? However, then I read that Theo was willing to sacrifice Mark Loretta for Tiger flotsam and jetsam pitching and I start scratching my head.

Sure Dustin Pedroia is doing great at AAA but that's no guarantee of success at the big league level. The best case would be for Pedroia to match Loretta's output. The more likely result would have been a step down in the field and in the clubhouse where Loretta has proven to be a team leader. The bird in the hand quote comes to mind (and I know you have to break some eggs to make an omelet but you try your new omelet recipes in the offseason not during the last quarter of the season).

Where am I going with this? Well back when Theo first took over as boy-wonder GM he had experienced advisors to help guide him. Sure he had the number crunching from Bill James but he also had the "been-there-done-that" experience of Bill Lajoie. Since Lajoie has moved on to the Dodgers - that old experienced hand is no longer there I fear. The balance between the numbers and the real world "old time baseball" has shifted to the numbers. I see that as a problem.

If you disagree consider these three numbers - 4.77, 4.5 and 3. The 4.77 is the Red Sox team ERA which is by far the worst among playoff contending teams. The 4.5 is the number of games the Red Sox trail the Yankees by. The 3 is the number of games by which Bill Lajoie's Dodgers lead the NL West by. The numbers are related whether you want to believe it or not.

All the above said - I still haven't given up hope for 2006.
Jamie Moyer

I was shocked to see that the Mariners traded Jamie Moyer. Shocked.

After I got over being shocked - I became disgusted and then my disgust became mixed with anger.

Jamie Moyer is the all-time leader in wins for the Mariner franchise. The all-time leader in wins who also happens to be a perfect gentleman and stalwart of the Seattle community. Traded - nay discarded for two single A "prospects".

I first learned of the trade via ESPN. It was only after I read the above linked article that I learned that Moyer is from Pennsylvania and approved the deal. That puts a different light on things. Moyer is a free-agent at the end of the season and I had assumed that the all-time wins leader for the Mariners was a shoe-in to re-sign with Seattle. That assumption may have been way off base.

Moyer is just 6-12 but his ERA of 4.39 is very respectable (by comparison Kenny Rogers is 20th in the AL in ERA with a 4.34 mark). Moyer has been an innings machine and this year is no exception. His 160 innings pitched currently ranks 13th in the AL. Only Curt Schilling among Red Sox starters has more IP than Moyer.

I'm a bit angry because the way I understand how the waiver system works - Moyer would have to first clear waivers among AL teams before becoming eligible to be claimed by an NL club like the Phillies. That means that the Red Sox did not put in a claim on Moyer even though they are in desperate need for a starter. As a 10/5 guy - Moyer has the right to decline any trade he wishes but I wonder if the idea of going back to the team where he started his career would have had an appeal to Moyer. The Sox are in the middle of a playoff hunt and they have the money to sign a guy like Moyer at the end of the season - so I would have to think that the conditions would have been enticing for Moyer. Maybe I am as wrong about that as I was about Moyer re-signing with Seattle?

Maybe Moyer was asked about Boston and said no (his career 5.43 ERA at Fenway would be good reason for him to decline to waive his no-trade).

My emotions have gone from shock, to disgust, to anger and now to acceptance and a certain sense of perspective. As bad as its been to be a Red Sox fan these past two days - it could be worse. I could be a Mariner fan.

Moyer's next win puts him into a tie for 83rd place with Chief Bender on the all-time wins list.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Top 5 - Baseball Players from Indiana

Here are who I consider the top 5 players born in Indiana.

1. Mordecai Brown - Hall of Pitcher - "Three Finger" Brown one of the great nicknames in baseball history
2. Billy Herman - Hall of Fame 2nd baseman
3. Don Mattingly - beloved Yankee 1st baseman (One of my favorite baseball quotes is about Don Mattingly - Bill James once described Mattingly as "100% ballplayer, 0% bullshit".)
4. Gil Hodges - the beloved Brooklyn Dodger 1st baseman.
5. (tie) Max Carey - Hall of Fame Outfielder (tie) Edd Roush - Hall of Fame Centerfielder

Just missing the cut (I can't remember keeping this many Hall of Famers off the list but just because they are in the HoF doesn't mean they were the best)

- Sam Thompson - Hall of fame Outfielder
- Chuck Klein - Hall of Fame Outfielder - 1932 NL MVP
- Amos Rusie - Hall of Fame Pitcher
- Sam Rice - Hall of Fame Outfielder
- Tommy John - 288 wins and not in the Hall of Fame?
- Scott Rolen - may be a future Hall of Famer if he can stay healthy
Baseball Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous baseball thoughts and observations.

If you had told me that the Red Sox would score 15 runs yesterday - I would have bet they won at least one game of the doubleheader with the Yankees... I'm not worried yet though. Its not that I'm an optimist - its just that after years and years of the Red Sox being in the race till Labor Day and then dashing our hopes its time for the opposite to happen. This year I expect the Red Sox to lower our expectations only to come from nowhere to exceed expectations and make the playoffs.... The Red Sox really need another starting pitcher and I just don't mean for the remainder of this season. Looking at the potential free agent pitchers the best choices seem to be - Mike Mussina (yeah I can see George S letting that happen), Barry Zito (he does not seem to do well at Fenway and I'd be worried about overpaying him), John Smoltz (I'd love to see this happen), Tom Glavine (be really nice to have him finish up in Boston), Tony Armas Jr. (the youngest of the bunch but the least proven) and Jason Schmidt (along with Smoltz - my top choice when spending other people's money)... The easiest way to explain why the Red Sox are 3.5 games behind the Yankees is to point out that the Yankees team ERA is 4.36 (11th in MLB - 4th in AL) while the Red Sox have a 4.77 team ERA mark (24th in MLB - no team with a worse team ERA is close to having a record near to .500)... Two years ago the phrase on people's lips was "In Theo We Trust". You don't hear that much anymore. Red Sox fans are a fickle bunch...
Strange Dream

I had a strange dream last night. I dreamt that the local cable TV newsteam each had pouches of shredded chocolate. On-air they would take pinches of the chocolate and stuff it between their cheeks and gums just like chewing tobacco and then spit brown colored spit into clear plastic cups they had before them at their news desks. The anchor man did it, the news person did it and the sports guy did it. They wanted the viewers to think they were chewing on-air and complain.

And the complaints rolled in.

I have no idea what this dream means. I don't chew and I didn't have anything strange or spicy to eat before going to bed. Probably just a strange dream but I thought I'd share.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Red Sox / Yankees Hitting Comparisons

Interesting analysis of the batting orders and other factors done by Bronx Banter. The focus is on hitting but fielding and pitching comparisons are examined as well. Nicely done work.

I will take issue only with two points of the analysis:

1. In comparing Kevin Youkilis to Bobby Abreu - the comment was:
Youkilis has been great for the Sox thus far this year, but comparing him to Abreu is just not fair, though it's a credit to Youkilis that this is even close.
People seem to think Bobby Abreu is still the Bobby Abreu of 2004. Abreu is supposedly a power hitter but this year he has a HR/AB rate of 1 HR ever 44.44 AB. Youkilis has hit 1 HR every 34.62 AB this year. If anything - the edge should go to Youkilis in this matchup.

2. As far as defense - this was the comment:
With the hitting out of the way, here's a quick look at the defense, starting with the two teams' defensive efficiencies with their major league ranks:

NYY: 70.8% (4th)
BOS: 69.1% (19th)

That advantage exists despite the fact that the Yankees have committed nearly twice as many errors as the Sox, with 54 to the Sox major-league low 28.
The Red Sox' defense has been the best in baseball this year yet this analysis seems to indicate the Yankees have an edge. The Red Sox clearly have the edge in defense and on top of that they will have home field familiarity going for them. Not even close - big edge Red Sox.

I would also add that by midnight tonight the Yankees will have played 3 games and taken a plane ride all within 48 hours. That has to be tiring. Adreneline may carry them through today but look for some fatigue on Saturday when the two teams play a day game.
An End of an Era

On this day in 1992 the Larry Bird era officially comes to an end as Larry Legend announces his retirement after winning a gold medal at the 1992 Olympics as a member of the first (and in my opinion only) Dream Team.
VDH Friday

As always - Victor Davis Hanson brings sense to this crazy world. This week he zooms in on the Israel / Lebanon / Syria / Iran mess. There is a lot of gloom (no doubt) but there is some silver lining:
Yet, all is not lost, since lunacy cuts both ways. Iran and Syria unleashed Hezbollah because they were both facing global scrutiny, one over nuclear acquisition and the other over the assassination of Lebanese reformer Rafik Hariri. Those problems won’t go away for either of them — nor, if we persist, will the democratic fervor in Afghanistan and Iraq on their borders.

We still don’t know the extent of the damage that Hezbollah suffered, but it perhaps took casualties ten times the Israelis’ — losses — not to be dismissed even in the asymmetrical laws of postmodern warfare. Hezbollah’s leaders were hiding in embassies and bunkers; Israel’s were not. For all the newfound magnetism of Nasrallah, he brought ruin to his flock, and fright to the Arab establishment around Israel.

A surprised Israel now has a good glimpse of the terrorists’ new way of war, and probably next time will attack the supplier, not the launcher, of the rocketry. And when the Reuters stringers go away, the “civilians” of southern Lebanon, off-camera, might not be so eager to see more real fireworks lighting up their skies — or far-off, pristine Syria and Iran in safety praising the courage of the ruined amid the rubble. Note how Hezbollah already is desperately racing around the craters to assure its homeless constituency that it has enough Iranian cash to buy back lost sympathies.
I think the current cease fire was made knowing it will not last or that the terms will not be met by Hezzbolah. I also think that the next set of targets being lined up by the IDF are in Syria (which I think is a good thing).

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Top 5 - Maureen O'Hara Movies

File this under "Holy crap! She's still alive?" Today is Maureen O'Hara's 86th birthday. Here are what I consider my 5 favorite Maureen O'Hara movies.

1. The Quiet Man (one of my all-time favorite - starring John Wayne and directed by John Ford)
2. Miracle on 34th Street (another classic)
3. Only the Lonely (as John Candy's mother)
4. The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939)
5. (tie) How Green Was My Valley (tie) The Parent Trap

Can you believe that one of the movies on the list is from 1939 while another is from 1991 (Only the Lonely)? That's amazing.
Baseball Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous baseball thoughts and observations.

It was rumored back in July of 2005 that the Blue Jays turned down a Ryan Howard for Ted Lilly deal. I would really like to know if there was any truth to that rumor. Can you imagine how that trade could have changed the dynamics of the AL East race this year?... When I first heard about Eric Hinske coming to Boston I was against the trade. Now that I've had a chance to think about it - I like it a lot. Hinske makes a great left-handed bat off the bench and can back-up Lowell at 3rd, Youkilis at 1st and Willy Mo Pena in right (all right-handed batters). If the Blue Jays are picking up half of his salary for next year as reported - then the deal just got even better and the Trot Nixon era in Boston will officially come to a close after this season.... Just a reminder on an earlier prediction - here is what I wrote about Bronson Arroyo back on July 12th:
I think the Bronson Arroyo second half meltdown has begun. By the time the season is over – Arroyo will be just barely over .500 and his ERA will be exactly league average. It was that way last year and I look for the same to happen this year. I’m glad he made the all-star team but he really is just an average pitcher (although one with above average PR “packaging” – he was named after Charles Bronson, he sometimes corn-rows his hair and he plays a pretty decent guitar)
As of this morning Arroyo is 10-8 with a 3.45 ERA (the league average ERA is 4.50). In 7 starts since my prediction Arroyo has gone 1-2 with 4 no decisions. I still look for Arroyo to finish .500 but his ERA may be a little better than league average.
Gays in the Military

I wonder if 100 years from now people will look at our policies on gays in the military similar to how we look at the policies regarding blacks in the army prior to the Civil War?

In the fight against radical/militant Islam - it can be argued that the two groups that have the most to lose are women and homosexuals. Under strict Islamic law being a homosexual is tantamount to a death sentence and being a woman seems almost no different from being chattel in my eyes. Shouldn't those who have the most lose at the very least be allowed to fight?

Women seem to have been integrated into military service with little esprit de corps issues and I think the same would be true of gays. I mean I think it is crazy for people to think there aren't gays in the military as it is. It is just that now they get booted if they are "caught in the act" or come out of the closet. Booted no matter how good a soldier they are.

Militant Islam is a virus. A virus that currently gays are not allowed to fight against in the US military. Can you imagine if there was a law that said that homosexuals were allowed to work to find a cure for the AIDS virus only if they kept their homosexuality a secret? The "don't ask - don't tell" law seems equally silly to me.

This brings me to another question I have. Seeing that women and homosexuals have the most to lose in the spread of militant Islam - you would think that those groups would politically be on the forefront of the fight to stop Taliban-like regimes yet the opposite seems to be the case. I don't get it.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Top 5 - AL MVP

Baseball Crank has a poll up regarding who people think should be the AL MVP and Lyford has weighed in with his pick. I started thinking about it so I figured I would post my top 5 choices.

1. David Ortiz, Boston
2. Joe Mauer, Minnesota
3. Manny Ramirez, Boston
4. Derek Jeter, New York
5. Carlos Guillen, Detroit [edit - fixed dumb mistake]

I will admit that Win Shares weighed very heavily in my rankings and I will admit that my picks probably reflect a Red Sox bias. Two things I found interesting when checking AL Win Shares:

1. Ivan Rodriguez (I-Rod) had more Win Shares than Alex Rodriguez (A-Rod) - 18 to 16. I don't think that has ever been the case.

2. Kevin Youkilis has the same number of Win Shares as A-Rod. Two things about this - A-Rod will make more than $24 million more than Youkilis and somehow A-Rod actually has more fielding Win Shares (2.2) than Youkilis (2.0) even though A-Rod has 13 more errors than Youkilis. That to me highlights one of the problems with Win Shares (although overall I like them as a guide).
29 Years Ago Today

On this day in 1977 - Elvis Presley died. The King was 42-years old.

Legend has it that his last word was "Corn?"
Great Clip from Last Night's Game

I laughed my ass off listening to this during last night's Red Sox / Tigers game. If I had any photoshop ability I'd photoshop Youkilis with a blue Braveheart face.

EDIT: I guess NESN has asked YouTube to remove the clip. Damn NESN!
Bruno Kirby - RIP

Bruno Kirby, the actor probably best known as young Clemenza in Godfather II and as Billy Crystal's sidekick in When Harry Met Sally and City Slickers, is dead at the age of 57 from leukemia related complications.

My two favorite Kirby roles (besides Godfather II of course) were his Lt. Steven Hauk in Good Morning Vietnam and his cheesey/greesey Victor Ray (Brando's nephew) in The Freshmen.

I was surprised to read at IMDB that he appeared in the pilot episode of M*A*S*H and really got a chuckle out of this credit:
Cruising (1980) (uncredited) .... Man greasing up his fist in club
Cruising was the Al Pachino movie about an S&M killer in the gay subculture of New York.

I have to admit that I always felt like Kirby was playing himself - a good natured New Yorker. If Kirby had a mustache in the role that meant he was the good natured New Yorker with a bit of an attitude. I know Kirby was much more range than that but that was my impression. It was also my impression that Kirby would have been a great guy to share a couple of beers with but now we'll never have that chance.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Nice Matchup Comparison

Nice look at how the Yankee hitters have fared against the probable Red Sox pitchers for this weekend's 5 game tilt.

I'm really looking forward to this series.
Excellent Point By David Pinto

David Pinto outlines a scenario in which Mark McGwire gets voted off the Hall of Fame ballot after his first try. I can actually see this happening (but I wouldn't bet on it).

As others have pointed out - if McGwire does get voted in then he'd probably have the shortest induction speech in history since he wouldn't be there to "talk about the past".
Why Peter King Should Stick to Football

SI's Peter King (Monday Morning Quarterback) shows once again why he should stick to talking about football. This is from yesterday's MMQB column:
The [Jonathan] Papelbon bubble has burst. Officially.
King is referring to Red Sox rookie closer Jon Papelbon who at this writing is 3rd in AL saves (his 31 trails Bobby Jenks by 2). Of the top 5 in AL saves - Papelbon's 0.90 ERA is by far the lowest (less than half of Mariano Rivera's 1.86). Papelbon's 62 strikeouts is second to Jenks' 64 (and tied with Francisco Rodriguez's 62).

In Papelbon's last 10 appearences - he has only given up an earned run in 2 of them. Yeah - that's really some bursting bubble. Sorry to pick on this comment by King but it is the dumbest thing he's written since he picked the Vikings to win the Super Bowl last year.
Top 5 - Fantasy Baseball Surprise Players

Here are the top 5 players in fantasy baseball that probably went undrafted or went way in the late rounds before the season began.

1. Jon Papelbon Closer Boston
2. JJ Putz Closer Seattle
3. Josh Johnson SP Florida
4. Freddie Sanchez 2B/3B Pittsburgh
5. (tie) Kevin Youkilis 1B/3B Boston (tie) Mark DeRosa 2B/OF Texas
The Reagan Tax Cuts

The Washington Times has an editorial looking back at the Reagan tax cuts. I think this was the key paragraph.
The across-the-board cuts were phased in over 1981 (5 percent), 1982 (10 percent) and 1983 (10 percent). When the final cut occurred in 1983, the U.S. economy embarked on one of its strongest expansions in history, growing at an annual compounded rate of 4.4 percent throughout the 1983-1989 period. Unemployment collapsed from 10.7 percent during the fourth quarter of 1982 to 5.4 percent during the fourth quarter of 1989. Contrary to the predictions of liberal economists, who insisted the tax cuts would be inflationary, inflation diminished from an annual average of 12.9 percent (1979-1980) to 1.1 percent in 1986 and to an average of 3.7 percent (1983-1989).
The fact that when Reagan took office the country was mired in both double digit unemployment and double digit inflation cannot be emphasized enough. I'm still amazed by people who argue that tax cuts don't work. They've worked for JFK, Reagan and now George W. Bush.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Leaving Las Vegas

Pauly at Tao of Poker looks back at covering the 2006 WSOP in Las Vegas and what he sees isn't necessarily pretty:
That's the first reminder from the unlucky fallen angel that has the troublesome assignment of steering me away from danger in order to get back in the good graces of the Almighty. I can hear her whispering into my ears the names of six of the Seven Deadly Sins. As I take my first wobbly steps onto the casino floor, temptation surrounds me everywhere. Behind every slot machine. Behind every deck of cards. Behind every rattle of the dice. Behind every "all you can eat buffet." Behind every stripper pole. Behind every seat at the Hooker Bar and underneath every kilt of the waitresses at the Tilted Kilt. Depravity, decadence, and desperation are within my grasp.

It's so easy to fall in this town. And when people fall, they fall hard. And fast. God's angels are not here to catch you. They stay the fuck out of the Las Vegas valley. Only the Mormons on a mission dare enter Sin City and most of them get hooked on Keno or crystal meth before they head back to Utah.
As always - read the whole thing.

I came across these stats over at Baseball Crank:

A-Rod vs AL East opponents this year - .193 BA /.340 OBP /.309 SLG

I think those stats (along with the 20 errors at 3rd base) go a long way in explaining the frustration Yankee fans are experiencing with Alex Rodriguez. I think the below stats help explain why Red Sox fans agree that A-Rod has been A-Fraud this year:

A-Rod vs Boston this year - .222 BA /.317 OBP /.472 SLG

That includes 12 strikeouts in 36 AB (so A-Rod strikes out once every three AB versus the biggest rival) and some people wonder why fans think he's been a stiff this year despite posting what on the surface look like very good numbers.
The Feast of Saint Maximilian Kolbe

The Captain has a very inspiring post on Father Maximilian Kolbe (someone I had not heard of before even with 6-years of Catholic school).

Very inspiring read.
Burgess Meredith

I stayed up to watch Grumpy Old Men on Turner Classics last night. I think that is one of the more under-rated comedies of recent years and I also happen to think that it featured one of the more under-rated actors of the last 40-years – Burgess Meredith.

Meredith stole every scene he was in for Grumpy Old Men (too bad they didn’t show the out-takes at the end because I remember laughing my ass off at some of Meredith’s X-rated out-takes when I first saw this movie at the theater). The same was true for Meredith in another under-rated movie – Foul Play. In the movie Rocky – Meredith gave off the air of the only professional actor in the whole movie.

Even though Burgess is dead and gone - I wanted to note that he’s not forgotten or unappreciated.
Joe Lieberman

Last week I was busy and didn’t have a chance to toss in my $.02 on Joe Lieberman. Here are some of my pent up thoughts on the Senate election campaign going on in Connecticut.

First off – I think this will prove to be disastrous for the Democrats. Having Lieberman lose the primary but win the general election as an Independent is the worst of both worlds for the Democrats. Consider the following:

- Ned Lamont really is a lightweight, empty suit. Now he can’t campaign as “I’m not Joe Lieberman” but instead will have people listening to him and gauging how smart a representative he’d make. My guess is that Lamont implodes. Count on a number of really bad gaffes between now and November.

- The Netroots, anti-war folks won the primary – now what? One of Joe Liberman’s biggest accomplishments this year was to save the submarine base in Groton from being closed. The people of Connecticut know that. How long before one of Lamont’s advisers argues that the base should be closed because nuclear subs have no place in the race for world peace. The anti-war folks will really start to turn off the people whose priorities are domestic and who figure out that Lamont really has nothing to offer other than he’s anti-war.

- Has there ever been a candidate more invisible than the Republican candidate in this race? Seriously. I can’t even remember the guy’s name.

- If Lieberman wins in November (and I expect him to win in double digits) – it frees him from some of the positions and relationships that he was obligated to take as the Democratic nominee. Lieberman used to be pro school vouchers but had to change his stance when he was added to the ticket in 2000. Now if he returns to being a pro school voucher champion – it will weaken the influence of the teacher’s unions. The same could be true of other issues like abortion. Lieberman could be free to be truly independent. An Independent like Lieberman could really do more harm to the special interest groups than any legislation.

- If Lieberman wins – he blazes a trail for others to follow. What if other Democratic candidates say “screw it – I won’t kow-tow to the extreme left anymore – I’ll just run as an Independent”? Pretty soon there may be a new Centrist Democrats Party and the old Democrats run by the far left will be as relevant as the Whigs. This isn’t likely to happen but chances are a Lieberman victory will move the Party more to the center and weaken the extremist lefties. All they would have accomplished would be to lose a Senate seat for the Democrats. Thing is – the Netroots folks will view the whole thing as a victory. That’s the big danger for the Democratic Party. The Netroots folks really aren’t big D Democrats – they’re anarchists.

- If Lieberman loses in November – I wouldn’t be surprised if he is offered up as a replacement for Donald Rumsfeld to head the Department of Defense. I don’t think Lieberman will lose but if he does – the above scenario is not unlikely.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

A-Rod Tries the Patience of Even the Most Patient Yankee Fan

If you've gotten on the last nerve of the Anchoress - then you've really got not much of a chance to turn the crowd back to your favor.

A-Rod comes across to many as either a spoiled brat or a complete phony and that overshadows his talent. I mean we are talking about a guy who has 24 HR and 82 RBI and who won the AL MVP last year. However, we are also talking about the guys who famously has the largest contract in baseball history and who also happens to have 19 errors at third base and who always seems to make an error at the worst time.

I wonder why the error thing always happens to Yankee players. Think about it - Steve Sax, Chuck Knoblauch and now Alex Rodriguez. Can you think of a player from another organization who had mental problems in the field like those guys? Some guys are Yankee guys (like Don Mattingly and Paul O'Neill) and some guys just can't perform properly up to their talent level like Kenny Rogers or now Alex Rodriguez when they put on the pinstripes.

I find it funny that the Anchoress and her son have taking the dislike of A-Rod to such a level but I can't say I disagree with her sentiments.
Al Gore - Do as I Say Not as I Consume

I find amusement in stories like this.
Then there is the troubling matter of his energy use. In the Washington, D.C., area, utility companies offer wind energy as an alternative to traditional energy. In Nashville, similar programs exist. Utility customers must simply pay a few extra pennies per kilowatt hour, and they can continue living their carbon-neutral lifestyles knowing that they are supporting wind energy. Plenty of businesses and institutions have signed up. Even the Bush administration is using green energy for some federal office buildings, as are thousands of area residents.

But according to public records, there is no evidence that Gore has signed up to use green energy in either of his large residences. When contacted Wednesday, Gore's office confirmed as much but said the Gores were looking into making the switch at both homes. Talk about inconvenient truths.
Al Gore goes around with the equivalent of a sandwich board saying "the end is near" but his lifestyle says he really doesn't care:
Gore has held these apocalyptic views about the environment for some time. So why, then, didn't Gore dump his family's large stock holdings in Occidental (Oxy) Petroleum? As executor of his family's trust, over the years Gore has controlled hundreds of thousands of dollars in Oxy stock. Oxy has been mired in controversy over oil drilling in ecologically sensitive areas.
If Democrats are going to try and use the enviornment as a campaign issue - things like the above are going to come back and bite them in the butt. Also remember the Republicans will have a story to tell as well.
The Red Sox

I think it would be an understatement to say that the Red Sox have been struggling this past week. However, I think I speak for most Red Sox fans when I say "big deal!"

The Red Sox are still very much in contention. They are just two games behind the Yankees for the AL East with 9 games remaining between the two teams in head to head competition. They are also just two games back in the Wildcard race. They are still in very good shape but here's the kicker - if they do drop out of contention "big deal". Me and many Red Sox fans like me will have no trouble just turning our attention to the Patriots.

Boston fans have been very lucky these past few years with the Red Sox winning it all in 2004 and the Patriots winning three Super Bowls. Sportswriters still expect us to be ready to jump off the Tobin bridge after things like the Red Sox getting swept by the Royals but that's not the way Red Sox fans think these days.

In fact one of the most common mindsets you will hear around New England these days is that this year was supposed to be a re-building year for the Red Sox and that they've done very well to be in contention this late in the season. The Red Sox have been getting the young pitchers some experience and Willy Mo Pena is positioned perfectly to replace Trot Nixon in right field next season.

As far as the young pitchers are concerned - I think everyone knows what Jon Papelbon has done and how he's been positioned to take over for Keith Foulke who won't be back next season most likely. Jon Lester has gone 5-2 with a 3.86 ERA in 12 starts and looks like a solid #3 or #4 for next season. In the bullpen Manny Delcarmen, Lenny DiNardo and Craig Hansen have all gotten valuable experience and again I think I speak for most fans when I say that I would just as soon see one of the young guys instead of veterans Julian Tavarez or Rudy Seanez.

The Red Sox will have some young arms next season but also consider this - in the outfield the Red Sox will have Manny Ramirez in left, Coco Crisp in center and Willy Mo Pena in right. That outfield will cost about $25 million total ($18 million for Manny) an have an average age of 29-years old (with Manny being the old man at 35). The Yankees most likely have Hideki Matsui in left, Johnny Damon in center and Bobby Abreu in right. That outfield will cost $40 million and have an average age of 33-years old. I know that the Yankees have no trouble absorbing the extra $15 million that outfield will cost but that extra 4-years average age should be a red flag to people.

There's lots of baseball left for this season but I like most Red Sox fans will take it as it comes. You'll get no "won is us" if things don't go our way.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

I Got Nothing

I don't have much time today and I'm traveling and flat out with work. So just to give you something - here's a picture of Mike Piazza's wife Alicia Rickter

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


There are 27 players remaining in the World Series of Poker. Here are the unofficial players remaining and a chip count. If you are at all interested in what is happening at the WSOP - you should be checking the Tao of Poker serveral times daily between now and the time a champion is crowned.
End of Day 6 Chipcounts (courtesy of PokerWire):
1 Jamie Gold 13M
2 Erik Friberg 7.735M
3 David Einhorn 6.905M
4 Rhett Butler 6.4M
5 Dan Nassif 5.43M
6 Richard Lee 5.275M
6 Michael Binger 5.275M
8 William Thorsson 3.765M
9 Jeffrey Lisandro 3.75M
10 Kevin Aaronson 3.67M
11 Doug Kim 3.595M
12 John Magill 3.275M
13 Allen Cunningham 2.65M
14 Leif Force 2.265M
15 Kevin O'Donnell 2.13M
16 Prahlad Friedman 1.85M
17 Eric Lynch 1.785M
18 Lee Kort 1.7M
19 Rob Roseman 1.685M
20 Fred Goldberg 1.611M
21 Dustin Holmes 1.21M
22 Sirious Jamshidi 1.19M
23 Luke Chung 1.1M
24 Paul Wasicka 700K
25 Siddharth Jain 675K
26 Mark Garner 635K
27 Richard Wyrick 570K
You would think I'd be rooting for the guy named Lynch but by most accounts - the guy has been a real jerk. If this is true - then I know who I want to see win:
David Einhorn, a 37-year-old hedge fund manager from New York, leaped into third place Monday after winning a 7 million, three-way all-in pot. The bigger surprise to players around him was Einhorn telling The Associated Press that his winnings will go entirely toward The Michael J. Fox Foundation to help cure Parkinson’s disease. “Michael said if I make it to the final table, he’ll fly out,” said Einhorn, who serves on the foundation’s board.

Monday, August 07, 2006

The AL East

Everyone knows that the AL East will come down to the Yankees vs the Red Sox. I just wanted to toss out two things for you to consider.

- The Red Sox have 29 home games remaining and 23 road games. The Yankees meanwhile play 28 road games and 26 home games. I think that's a big advantage for the Red Sox.

- Head to head - the Yankees and Red Sox have 9 games remaining - 5 will be at Fenway and 4 will be in the Bronx. Slight advantage Red Sox.

Just thought it was worth remembering.
Just Saying

Last year Josh Beckett had Paul Lo Duca as his catcher and he gave up just 14 HR.

This year Josh Beckett has given up 31 HR with Jason Varitek as his primary catcher. For the math challenged - his home runs have more than doubled under Varitek's pitch calling.

Everyone always lauds Varitek for the way he handles the pitching staff and when he went down with a knee injury - everyone was "woe is us." Personally I think Varitek is given too much credit when things go good and no blame what so ever when things go wrong.

The Red Sox lost a bad game yesterday but it is still a long way to September. The Red Sox are just 0.5 games out of the wild-card (behind the White Sox) and just 2 games back of the Yankees for the AL East. The Yankees and White Sox play this week - so the Red Sox stand to gain ground.

I think the above just needed to be said.

I took the youngest two to see Barnyard last night and they really enjoyed the movie. Me? Not so much.

Why did I dislike Barnyard? Let me count the ways:

- I did not realize that Kevin James was the voice of the main cow until the credits rolled. Now I can no longer honestly say that I never paid good money to see a movie starring Kevin James. I feel dirty.

- Even the male cows had udders. What's up with that?

- Wanda Sykes was in the movie as the voice of Bessie the Cow. I cannot decide if Wanda Sykes or Chris Kattan is the most annoying person in Hollywood (its damn close).

- The whole movie was pussified. When the coyotes attacked there was no blood (even though they basically ripped Ben the Cow to shreds). We had to be told that the farmer was a vegan so that no kids would be worried about the cows being turned into steaks. And did I mention that even the male cows had udders?

Not one of the better kid movies in recent time but the kids enjoyed it for a couple of hours (which kinda bothers me a bit).

Sunday, August 06, 2006


If you are trying to follow the World Series of Poker - there is no better place than the Tao of Poker. Pauly is a truly talented and entertaining writer. Even his "updates" have a bit of poetry in them:
9:20pm... Recent Eliminations: We have several more bustouts. Gary Jones, Rick Solomon, and Ted Lawson are out. Rick Solomon was busted by the Hilton Sisters. Fitting. He's the guy with the small penis in the Paris Hilton video.
Top 5 - Baseball Players from Kentucky

Here are who I consider the top 5 players born in Kentucky.

1. Pee Wee Reese - Hall of Fame shortstop and 10-time All-Star
2. Jim Bunning - Hall of Fame pitcher (I still can't believe Bunning is in the HoF and Luis Tiant is not)
3. Paul Derringer - 223-212 and a 3.46 ERA - 6-time All-Star
4. Travis Fryman - 5-time All-Star (real first name David - I did not know that)
5. (tie) Gus Bell - 4 time All-Star outfielder (tie) Carl Mays - 207-126 and won 2 World Series wth the Red Sox in 1916 and 1918

Just missing the cut - Mike "Gator" Greenwell

Saturday, August 05, 2006

My All-Time Red Sox Team

C - Carlton Fisk
1st - Jimmie Foxx
2nd - Bobby Doerr
SS - Nomar Garciaparra
3rd - Wade Boggs
LF - Ted Williams
CF - Dom DiMaggio
RF - Dwight Evans
DH - Carl Yastrzemski

(Toughest ommission - Jim Rice. You can't give him left field because of Williams but you could argue that he was a better hitter than Yaz or put Yaz at first and leave off Foxx.)

Starter 1 - Cy Young
Starter 2 - Roger Clemens
Starter 3 - Pedro Martinez
Starter 4 - Luis Tiant

Closer - Bob Stanley

Friday, August 04, 2006

Line of the Day

Chadd Finn discusses the new perfume coming out for Derek Jeter and he comes up with this priceless line:
Jeter originally wanted to name it after his uniform number, but quickly realized "No. 2" isn't a very good name for a fragrance.
Odds to Wins the 2007 College Football BCS

Here are the favorites to win college football's championship this season.

Notre Dame 4/1
Ohio State 11/2
Oklahoma 6/1
West Virginia 7/1
Texas 8/1
USC 8/1
Florida 11/1
Auburn 15/1
Louisville 15/1
Florida State 18/1
Miami 18/1
California 20/1
LSU 20/1
Michigan 20/1

I was surprised to see West Virginia and Louisville so highly rated. I was not so suprised to see Notre Dame listed as the favorite because that is more a function of where the money is being bet (more money bet on a team lowers the odds and no team has more bet on it than the Fighting Irish).
VDF Friday

Victor Davis Hanson has a thought provoking column today where he compares the madness of the 1930's to today:
When I used to read about the 1930s — the Italian invasion of Abyssinia, the rise of fascism in Italy, Spain, and Germany, the appeasement in France and Britain, the murderous duplicity of the Soviet Union, and the racist Japanese murdering in China — I never could quite figure out why, during those bleak years, Western Europeans and those in the United States did not speak out and condemn the growing madness, if only to defend the millennia-long promise of Western liberalism.
I too read history with the question in mind of what could have been done different and I too have been wondering if the threat of radical Islam today is properly appreciated. To echo VDH:
Our present generation too is on the brink of moral insanity. That has never been more evident than in the last three weeks, as the West has proven utterly unable to distinguish between an attacked democracy that seeks to strike back at terrorist combatants, and terrorist aggressors who seek to kill civilians.
Top 5 - Baseball Players from Virginia

Here are who I consider the top 5 players born in Virginia.

1. Eppa Rixley - Hall of Fame pitcher (but at just 266-251 - he's the Tony Perez of HoF pitchers)
2. David Wright - budding superstar
3. Billy Wagner - 4-time All-Star with 314 saves and counting
4. Willie Horton - slugging outfielder for the Tigers - 4-time All-Star
5. (tie) Al Bumbry - 1973 AL ROY (tie) Justin Verlander - potentially this year's AL ROY

I must say that there was slim picking's from Virginia. Only one Hall of Famer? That was surprising. Also, growing up we always referred to Bobby Witt as Canton Mass's Bobby Witt but it turns out he was born in Arlington, Virginia.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Rollercoaster Guy

A few weeks ago I was on vacation. Me and the family spent the week at amusement parks – specifically 2 days at the Wolf Lodge in the Pocono’s, two days at Six Flags Baltimore and 2 days at Six Flags New Jersey (the kids picked the itinerary). Seeing how we also are frequent visitors to Six Flags New England (we have season passes) – I hope you take these observations as coming from someone who has some idea of what he is speaking about.

The idea behind the Wolf Lodge is ingenious in its simplicity. Take a water park, put it indoors (so there is never a park closing due to rainy weather and never any summer days when its just too damn hot) and make it available only to guests at the hotel. People spend a good amount of money staying at the hotel - both on lodging and food (and don’t forget beverages – parents need to unwind with a few beers after chasing junior through the water all day).

The problem is that after just a couple of hours you’ve had time to ride every ride and do everything. A stay at the lodge for any period over two days is bound to make even the most spastic, water-loving kid bored.

The lodge is fairly close to Camelback Mountain and their ski area. And I am toying with the idea of returning to the Wolf Lodge during the winter in order to ski during the day and water park it at night. As far as going back during the summer though – been there and done that.

I should also note that I can see the place getting fairly run down rather quickly because you feel more like a patron than a guest there and patrons are more likely to feel like they can act like they want while a guest is more respectful of the host (think about how fan behavior has gotten out of hand at pro sports events as ticket prices have risen and the “I paid for this damn ticket” mentality has taken over).

The next stop was the Six Flags outside Baltimore in Bowie, MD.

On Monday July 3rd USA Today reported that the population of the US will soon top 300 million. I think all 300 million were in the wave pool of the Baltimore Six Flags on July 4th. It was way too crowded on the 4th but it was pretty quiet on the 5th (almost no lines even for their best rollercoasters). This Six Flags is relatively old and no innovative rides have been added to “jazz up” the place. Truth be told – it is pretty run down and dirty. (The Whalom Park of Six Flags for you Central Mass readers).

I doubt I’d return to the Baltimore Six Flags although it bears mentioning that we did have a very good time going out to the restaurants in Annapolis.

The last stop on the Lynch vacation was at the Six Flags in New Jersey. This is home to some of the country’s best rollercoasters.

Kingda-Ka is the world’s highest and fastest rollercoaster. You get shot out at about 120 miles per hour (similar to the take-off to the Aeorsmith ride at Disney World) and then corkscrew straight up to 456 feet where you descend in a corkscrew. I had a blast riding it. However, sometimes being the highest and the fastest isn’t enough. In my opinion – Kingda-Ka isn’t even the best rollercoaster in New Jersey’s Six Flags.

That honor goes to El Toro.

I should tell you that the wait time I experienced was about 1.5 to 2 hours for each ride (with an equal wait time for Superman but I’ve ridden that before so I blew it off this time around – good thing we were there for 2 days). I cannot stand waiting in line (for anything) and I’m not a fan of being part of the crowd – so the lines soured me on Six Flags New Jersey.

I will say that I really enjoyed the Sponge Bob 3-D Experience (probably even more than my youngest two who went on the “ride” with me). It should also be mentioned that Six Flags New Jersey has three parks – the amusement park, a water park and also a Safari park where you get to see all sorts of wild animals (having a giraffe lick our sunroof was a highlight). Problem is – you get admission to the amusement park and the Safari park with one ticket purchase and if you want admission to the water park – you need a whole second admission ticket.

All things considered – Six Flags New England is the best bet for your Northeast Amusement park dollar.