Tuesday, February 27, 2007

An Inconvienient Truth

This was a great post. And this was very telling:
The 4,000-square-foot house is a model of environmental rectitude.

Geothermal heat pumps located in a central closet circulate water through pipes buried 300 feet deep in the ground where the temperature is a constant 67 degrees; the water heats the house in the winter and cools it in the summer. Systems such as the one in this "eco-friendly" dwelling use about 25% of the electricity that traditional heating and cooling systems utilize.

A 25,000-gallon underground cistern collects rainwater gathered from roof runs; wastewater from sinks, toilets and showers goes into underground purifying tanks and is also funneled into the cistern. The water from the cistern is used to irrigate the landscaping surrounding the four-bedroom home. Plants and flowers native to the high prairie area blend the structure into the surrounding ecosystem.

No, this is not the home of some eccentrically wealthy eco-freak trying to shame his fellow citizens into following the pristineness of his self-righteous example. And no, it is not the wilderness retreat of the Sierra Club or the Natural Resources Defense Council, a haven where tree-huggers plot political strategy.

This is President George W. Bush's "Texas White House" outside the small town of Crawford.
I can't help but be reminded that while Al Gore was doing a PR tour for his movie that George Bush was busy creating a protected marine preserve that is bigger than 46 of the 50 states. Bush got almost no publicity for actually saving a big swath of the planet while Gore just talked about it:
"The administration will have created the world's largest marine protected area and set aside one of the most pristine regions for generations to enjoy and to study," David Festa, director of the oceans program at Environmental Defense, said in a telephone interview on Wednesday.
Maybe if Bush had some "Hollywood-types" present when he signed that marine preserve into being then he would have gotten some attention?
Luis Tiant

The Baseball Hall of Fame Veterans' Committee will announce their vote today and I hope Luis Tiant gets the nod but my guess would be that he doesn't. Garry Brown does a nice job stating the case for Tiant. I have always thought that Tiant was a better pitcher than Catfish Hunter and Hunter is in the Hall of Fame.

Tiant: 229-172 / 3.30 ERA / 2416 SO / 49 Shut Outs
Hunter: 224-166 / 3.26 ERA / 2012 SO / 42 Shut Outs

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Future Hall of Famers - American League Edition

This morning I started wondering how many future Hall of Famers we may be watching in 2007. So I decided to take a peak at the rosters and here's what I came up with (note: I'm only talking about guys who are at least 3/4 of the way down the path - no Ryan Howards or other young guns need apply right now):

: Miguel Tejada - potentially but I think he will be hurt by being implicated as a steroids guy by both Jose Canseco and Raphael Palmeiro. I'm going to say no to Tejada having a good shot at the HoF.

: Manny Ramirez - first ballot. David Ortiz - needs a few more MVP type seasons. Curt Schilling? I think if Schilling gets to a combined 30 wins the next two seasons then he's a lock.

New York: Alex Rodriguez - first ballot. Derek Jeter - first ballot. Mariano Rivera - first ballot. Mike Mussina - questionable. The fact that he's never won 20-games in a season or a Cy Young award will probably keep him out.

Toronto: Frank Thomas - he's only 13 HR from 500 and when he reaches that mark he'll join Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Jimmy Foxx, Ted Williams, and Mel Ott as the only players with both 500 HR and a batting average over .300 (Thomas could go 0 for his first 100 AB in 2007 and still be over .300 for his career). Roy Halladay - he's a great pitcher but he'll be 30 this year and he's not even at 100 wins yet (plus he's too injury prone).

: Jim Thome - he'll probably finish in the top 25 in HR and the top 75 in RBI but I don't think that will be enough. Thome never even finished higher than 4th place in MVP voting. Nice guy but so was Andre Dawson.

Detroit: Ivan Rodriguez - maybe not first ballot because of steroid rumors but he gets in because people will argue that steroids did not help his defense (12 Gold Gloves). Gary Sheffield - could be another guy with 500 HR who does not get elected. I would put money on Sheffield NOT getting enough HoF votes to make it to Cooperstown.

Minnesota: Johan Santana - only 28 this season but so far he's been Pedroesque. He's got a .716 career winning percentage and two Cy Young Awards already.

Los Angeles: Vlade Guererro - he's agreat player but I don't hink his back will let him amass the numbrs needed for election. He's going to be 31 this season but he only has 338 career HR and only 1,052 career RBI. His career .325 batting average may make up for some of that shortfall but he needs probably 5 more seasons with 30 HR and 100 RBI.

Oakland: Mike Piazza - first ballot.

Seattle: Ichiro Suzuki makes and interesting case. He'll be 33 this season and has only been in the league for 6 seasons but when he plays - you can't keep your eyes off him. He may well be the best conditioned player in MLB too - so I think Ichiro amasses enough numbers to get voted in. For my money - he gets my vote today.

So in total - in the American League I think we are looking at 7 locks for the Hall of Fame (Manny, A-Rod, Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Frank Thomas, Mike Piazza and I-Rod) and probably three more players who will get in (Schilling, Santana and Ichiro).
Odds to Win Oscars

Here are the odds on who will win the Oscar for "Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role":

Leonardo DiCaprio (Blood Diamond) 8/1
Ryan Gosling (Half Nelson) 19/1
Peter O'Toole (Venus) 6/1
Will Smith (The Pursuit of Happiness) 5/1
Forest Whitaker (The Last King of Scotland) 1/11

Here are the odds on who will win the Oscar for "Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role":

Penélope Cruz (Volver) 23/1
Judi Dench (Notes on a Scandal) 25/1
Helen Mirren (The Queen) 1/30
Meryl Streep (The Devil Wears Prada) 16/1
Kate Winslet (Little Children) 8/1

Here are the odds on what movie will win the Oscar for "Best Motion Picture of the Year":

Babel 4/3
The Departed 1/6
Letters from Iwo Jima 9/1
Little Miss Sunshine 1/1
The Queen 20/1

For what its worth - the only movie in any of the three above categories that I've seen this year is The Departed. If you look close - you'll see that there is a huge favorite in each of the three categories. I'd bet (just on percentatges) that there is an upset in at least one of the three categories.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

2007 Red Sox

Here's a nice unbiased look at the 2007 Red Sox.

The only thing I'd quibble with is that the author tosses Julian Tavarez into the mix of the flotsam and jetsam starters the Red Sox need to avoid using in 2007. Tavarez was actually Boston's most effective starter over the last 2 months of the season. I see him acting as an emergency 6th starter as a big plus.

BTW - over / under line for wns by the Red Sox this season is 91. I think the over is an excellent bet.
An Idea for the NFL

I had an idea for the NFL this morning. A problem that not many talk about is the rapid physical deterioration of the bodies of retired NFL players. Today's players with their million dollar contracts should be much better equipped to pay for future medical expenses but some of the games older players weren't paid much in the past and today their medical costs are out of control. Here's my idea to help alleviate the situation.

Each pre-season there would be a single night set aside where the players of each team would pick their best offensive lineman and best defensive lineman. These linemen would do a televised one-on-one drill where the O-lineman has to block the D-lineman. The D-lineman would have 5 seconds to get to a quarterback 5 yards behind the O-lineman. If the D-lineman gets to the QB within 5 seconds - he wins. If the O-lineman blocks the D-lineman for 5 seconds - then he wins. It would be a best of seven drill and the drill would take place at each team's training camp.

The NFL could sell the broadcast rights to this and the price could well end up north of $25 million with all the money going to a fund to defer medical expenses for retired players.

The NFL teams would get nothing from this - all the money would go into the fund. Even the participating players would get nothing - they would just get a trophy for the winner and the satisfaction of knowing they are helping those who went before them and those who made their current huge contracts possible. I don't think the risk to the players would be that great since they would just be doing a drill they do in camp anyway.

There are three main selling points to this idea:

1. It's a charitable cause and people love charitable causes. The PR for the NFL and the players would be tremendous. At a time when people like Pacman Jones are making headlines - the NFL needs some positive media coverage. Former NFL great players like Earl Campbell could be brought forward as a testament to why the fund is needed.

2. It gives the linemen a chance to be the stars. This would be the one and only time in an NFL broadcast where the spotlight is on the linemen alone.

3. You could bet on it! You could bet on the individual team best of seven match-ups and the overall O-lineman vs D-lineman over/under. The betting aspect could boost the ratings through the roof.

Seems like a winner of an idea to me. Who should I talk to at the NFL to make it happen?

Friday, February 23, 2007

Dillion and DJ

Corey Dillion made news yesterday by saying he wanted to be released from his contract by the Patriots because he wants to retire. Supposedly he's had enough of the beating his body takes playing pro football and like Tiki Barber – 10-years was enough. Today his agent is quoted in the Boston Herald as saying that Dillion just wants to play somewhere else where he’ll get more carries.

This is pretty strange. If Dillion is to be believed – then good for him. When I first heard the news of him saying that he wanted to retire – I immediately thought of Ted Johnson. Wouldn’t it have been nice if Johnson retired a few years earlier? Dillion has made millions of dollars and hopefully he’s financially secure.

My first thought about the agent’s comments is that he’s got nothing to lose. If Dillion retires then Steve Feldman (Dillion’s agent) gets nothing. If Feldman can convince Dillion to sign with a new team – then Feldman makes some cake on the new contract. Feldman says that Dillion won’t resign with the Pats. Well duh! Dillion has three more years to go on his contract. Dillion only gets to be a free agent if the Patriots release him.

If this is some sort of ruse by Dillion and his agent – then I think Dillion just sullied the goodwill that he built up since he came to New England from Cincinnati. Dillion came to town with a rep as a bad apple but in his time in Foxboro he has proven to be a team first guy. If this is a ruse – then all that goodwill goes poof.

I reference Dennis Johnson in the post title because I’m a little disappointed at how quickly the story of his death has faded from the national media spotlight. It is a sad reminder of how even Hall of Fame caliber players are disposable. Corey Dillion made almost as much last year as Dennis Johnson made in his career. If Dillion is serious about retirement then again I say “Good for you.” Take the money and run. If Dillion is just trying to get out of town – then I hope the Patriots don’t give him his release (why would you need your release to retire anyway?).

DJ is a sad reminder that if you don’t have your health – then you don’t have anything. I hope Dillion is sincere in his desire to retire. The last thing we need is another story of a former player who has health issues later in life.
Heh Heh

Joke for the day.

Fresh from the shower, I stood in front of the mirror complaining to my husband that my breasts were too small.

Instead of characteristically telling me it's not so, he uncharacteristically came up with a suggestion.

"If you want your breasts to grow, then everyday take a piece of toilet paper and rub it between them for a few seconds."

Willing to try anything, I fetched a piece of toilet paper and stood in front of the mirror, rubbing it between my breasts.

"How long will this take?" I asked.

"They will grow larger over a period of years", my husband replied.

I stopped. "Do you really think rubbing a piece of toilet paper between my breasts every day will make my breasts bigger over the years?"

Without missing a beat he says, "Worked for your backside, didn't it?"

He is still alive, and with physiotherapy, he may even walk again.

Stupid, stupid man.
Iwo Jima

62 years ago today
Dennis Johnson
"It's a steal by Bird. Underneath to DJ and he lays it in." – Johnny Most
For Celtics fans who followed the great teams of the 80's - that steal by Larry Bird and lay in by Dennis Johnson is one of those moments frozen in time. I can tell you exactly where I was when that happened as could any Celtics fan worth his salt.

Similarly, you ask any Celtics fan if Dennis Johnson should have been in the Hall of Fame and the answer is a resounding "YES!" Today I sit in shock over the death of Dennis Johnson at age 52 and am saddened that the wrong of being over-looked for the Hall of Fame was not be corrected in time for DJ to enjoy it. There is solace in the fact that the Celtics knew what they had in DJ and even though he spent only 7 seasons in Boston - his number 3 will be in the rafters forever.

I don't know why Dennis Johnson didn't get more recognition nation-wide. His omission from the Hall of Fame renders the selection process a joke. The fact that he made 5 All-Star teams but only one as a Celtic stands out as just strange when you consider how valuable DJ was to those great Celtics teams. Sure back in those years you had Mo Cheeks in Philly and Isiah Thomas in Detroit but the All-Star squads routinely carried three centers - why not three point guards?

Maybe the thing that scares me about Johnson's death is the fact that he died playing pick-up basketball. Why is it that when a person dies at an early age it seems it's a 50/50 shot that the person died playing pickup basketball?

Sadly, just as I'll always remember where I was when Bird stole the ball - now I'll also remember where I was when I heard the news that Dennis Johnson was dead at age 52.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Just an Observation

I always pick the wrong lane. If I'm going to a toll booth I always pick the lane where the guy asks directions or drops his money on the ground. If I'm at the grocery store I always pick the lane where the person wants to talk for 10 minutes with the cashier. I always pick the slowest lane. This is a point that I've made before but the new realization that struck me today is the fact that I've never met anyone who picks the right lane.

If you mention to someone that you never pick the right lane, invariably they reply, "Me too - I never pick the right lane either." Has anyone ever met anyone who picks the right lane?

If that person exists - why haven't they written a book. If the book Who Moved My Cheese? can be a best-seller then a book on how to pick the correct lane would surely shoot to the top of the NYT best-seller list (but of course it would have to be listed in fiction because I'm convinced that person does not exist).
Flotsam and Jetsam North Carolina Edition

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations from North Carolina.

I think Bruce at BostonSportsMedia.com makes a good point about the salaciousness of the press regarding Bill Belichick and his alleged involvement in an "ugly divorce case." More and more theses days I find myself asking "How is this news?" when reading or watching things in the media. And people wonder why people are buying fewer newspapers or watching less news on TV?... Driving down Route 40 toward Wilmington I saw a billboard for a company called TryMyNuts.com. Call me immature but I giggled at that. I may open a competing company TasteMyNuts.com (I think the URL is available)... Speaking of being immature - recently I heard someone mention (it may ave been a friend or I may have heard it on a comedy channel) that when they go into a men's room they always say to the person standing at the next urinal, "Don't you just hate these dividers?" I'm sorry but I find that funny... I really don't care about the "controversy" surrounding the University of Illinois ditching their mascot but it did remind me of the story of the Fighting Whites (aka Fighting Whities). Good stuff...
The History of Business Cards

When playing cards (i.e. ace, king, queen, etc) started being produced in England centuries ago - the backs were left blank because the printing technology was not quite to the point where a uniform back could be printed at a reasonable cost. This blank space on the backs of "cards" was a convenient place to write notes and it became very common for a "caller" to leave a note on a card if the person they were visiting was away. Thus you could stop by someones house and leave your "calling card" with all your pertinent information if the person was out.

Card players weren't fond of that blank space on the back of cards because it made it fairly easy to cheat by marking the cards and so according to Roll the Bones: The History of Gambling, "In the 1830s, London printer Thomas de la Rue devised a new process of aligning colors that enabled him to print patterned backs." From that point on cards had a uniform colored back to go with the front which told you which card you held. By then, however, people had grown so used to leaving cards that they often had "calling cards" specifically printed up and it was just a short step away then to our modern business cards.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

PBS - News Wars

I’m watching a PBS Frontline special on the Bush Administration and how they are seemingly at war with journalism in this country. Early in the show a premise is put forth that the press acts as a system of checks and balances against the President over-reaching his power. Former Chief of Staff Andrew Card is quoted as saying that he rejected this premise and that the true checks and balances against the President are the judiciary and the Congress. I agree with Mr. Card.

I am struck by the hubris the journalists in this country and I immediately thought of their kid glove treatment of John Kerry when he was running for President. Kerry made his military awards a cornerstone of his campaign. Even after some of Kerry’s claims were shown to be false (his first Purple Heart and “Christmas in Cambodia” for example) and even after he pledged to release his full military records – the main-stream press gave him a free pass (Kerry has yet to honor this pledge). If there was a check and balance in play – it was a scale clearly weighted in favor of one party over another.

You can argue that Kerry’s military records were just a partisan attack or not relevant but I would argue the point. However, John Kerry is also a cancer survivor who was never “pressed” to release his medical records by the press. The same main-stream media made Dick Cheney’s heart condition a major story. Again – the bias for one side and against the other is clear as day.

Later the show got into the BALCO grand jury leak case involving Lance Williams and Mark Fairanu-Wada. Lance Williams is quoted as saying he “respects the court system”. The show completely glosses over the fact that their source was a sleazy lawyer who was leaking the grand jury information to undermine the judicial system in an attempt to get charges against his clients dropped. Their scoop was more important than our system of justice. Yeah – that was some real “respect for the court system.”

It seems to me that the issue at hand is not “checks and balances” – it is privilege. Some journalists like to believe that they have privileges that ordinary citizens don’t have. If you ask me – it is their hubris that needs proper checks and balances.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Top 5 - Bon Scott AC/DC Songs

On this day back in 1980 Bon Scott died - some say he choked on his own vomit but his death certificate says "death by misadventure" (wouldn't that be a great name for a band?). Anyway - here are what I consider the top 5 AC/DC songs with Bon Scott as frontman.

1. It's a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock 'n' Roll)
2. Whole Lotta Rosie
3. Highway to Hell
4. Jailbreak
5. (tie) TNT (tie) Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap

It's a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock 'n' Roll) may be the most perfect hard rock song ever recorded. There is no way to improve on that song.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Religious Affiliations of the Super Heroes

(From the archives)

I found this very interesting.

Who knew that Batman was a lapsed Catholic who is now an Episcopalian? It was easy to guess that Catholic Girl was Catholic (how come there's no Catholic Avenger? That would be a cool name for the Pope's alter ego and while I'm rambling - who ever heard of Catholic Girl?). But did you know that Ben Grimm (the Thing from the Fantastic Four) is Jewish? Magneto (the X-Men super villain) is also Jewish.

The funniest one I thought was J. Jonah Jameson who is the employer of Peter Parker. His religious affiliation is listed as "hates Spider-man". I just found that amusing.

Here are some of the major super heroes / villains and their religious affiliations:

Superman - Methodist
Spider-Man - Protestant
Batman - Episcopalian/Catholic (lapsed)
Lex Luthor - Nietzschian atheist (I would have guessed Lutheran)
The Joker - atheist

HT Big Stupid Tommy for the original link.
Keith Folke Retires

Keith Foulke has decided to retire. And I say, "Good for him." Foulke in effect just walked away from at least $5 million by retiring. He could have gone on the DL with a sore elbow and cashed a check but instead he said, "enough."

I don't think baseball was Keith Foulke's passion. It seemed to me that it was just his job and a job that he was willing to do as long as he could compete at the highest level. He wanted to be a sub 3.00 ERA guy not some (in his words) "middle bullpen, 5.00 ERA guy."

Over the course of his career - Foulke has earned over $32.8 million. Hopefully he has put enough away to live comfortably. The fact that he walked away from a $5 million guaranteed contract would indicate that Foulke ain't exactly worried about mortgage payments.

I am grateful to Keith Foulke because without him - the Red Sox don't win the World Series in 2004. True Red Sox fans know that Foulke was the real MVP of that post season. Consider the fact that he went 1-0 with 3 saves with a 0.64 ERA in 14 innings pitched in the playoffs in 2004 to see how valuable he really was.

As a Red Sox fan - this could be the best possible outcome. The Red Sox get a supplemental draft pick because he signed with Cleveland but now we don't have to feel the discomfort of facing him (you'd want the Red Sox to score a lot of runs against him but by the same token part of you would be rooting for him).

May the road rise to meet you Keith Foulke. And may the wind always be at your back.
Christopher Eccleston

Recently I have become a big fan of three science fiction TV series. It just sorta happened but I'm now hooked on the series Dr. Who, Heroes and the unfairly canceled Firefly.

I've meant to mention this before but since today's is Christopher Eccleston's 43rd birthday - today is as good a time as any. I've meant to bring this up because I was watching Heroes and there was a new character who I couldn't help but think looked very familiar. Then it hit me - the character Claude on heroes was Christopher Eccleston - the old Dr. Who. I say "old" Dr. Who because it was the "new" Dr. Who - David Tennant who really got me hooked on the series (and who is the much better of the two if you ask me).

And the reason this was worthy of note was because after watching like 4 episodes of Firefly - it finally hit me where I knew the actor who plays Shepard Book - Ron Glass. He was Detective Harris from the vastly under-rated Barney Miller.

So there you have it. Exciting epiphanies to me but boring crap to you.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

BALCO Leaker Exposed

It turns out that the person leaking Grand Jury testimony in the BALCO investigation was the defense attorney for Victor Conte:
Two San Francisco Chronicle reporters will avoid jail time under a plea agreement by a criminal defense lawyer who admitted leaking them secret grand jury documents from the BALCO steroids investigation.

In court papers filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court, attorney Troy Ellerman said he allowed reporters Lance Williams and Mark Fainaru-Wada to view transcripts of the grand jury testimony of baseball stars Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi, Gary Sheffield and sprinter Tim Montgomery.

Ellerman had represented Victor Conte, founder of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative, the Burlingame supplements lab that allegedly provided performance enhancing drugs to the elite athletes, as well as BALCO vice president James Valente.

The Chronicle published stories in 2004 that reported Giambi and Montgomery admitted to the grand jury that they took steroids, while Bonds and Sheffield testified they didn't knowingly take the drugs. The leaked testimony also was featured prominently in the writers' book, "Game of Shadows," which recounts Bonds' alleged use of steroids.
So let me get this straight - Conte and BALCO sought to profit by making and selling steroid products that wouldn't be found in normal drug tests; Bonds, Giambi, Sheffield and others took the steroids in order to cheat their way into big money contracts; Ellerman leaked the testimony from the Grand Jury in order to try and cheat the judicial system by getting cases against his clients thrown out because of the leaks; and finally the San Francisco Chronicle reporters cheated by taking what they knew to be illegally offered testimony just so that could "scoop" their competition and sell a book.

Explain to me how the cheating and law bending by reporters Lance Williams and Mark Fainaru-Wada is any different than the cheating by Jason Giambi? While you are at it - explain to me how what reporters Lance Williams and Mark Fainaru-Wada did was any different than a fence receiving goods he knows to be stolen.

It could turn out that out of this whole sordid affair - Jason Giambi may be the one who acted with the most honor. And that's saying something.

HT Baseball Musings

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy Birthday YouTube

YouTube was launched 2-years ago on February 15th. Just think if it wasn't for YouTube - we might not get to see stuff like this:

Carlos Mencia - Thief

I instinctually never liked the Mind of Mencia on Comedy Central but after watching the video in this post - I'm certain I don't like Carlos Mencia the person (not that Joe Rogan is a prince among men but Mencia makes him look like Nelson Mandela in comparison).
Valentine's Day Pat O'Brien Style

Today is Valentine's Day and it is also Pat O'Brien's 59th birthday. Here at ALR we thought these two things are great alone but like Reese's Cups - they would go great together. So here is a Valentine's day greeting for your sweetie Pat O'Brien style:
Dear (your sweetheart's name here)

I wanna f**king go crazy with you. ... You are so f**king hot, and I wanna eat you, and I want you to suck my c**k, and I want to f**k you. ... Let's do it, you are so f**king hot, leave me a voicemail. I'm going to the bathroom, leave me a voicemail. ... I told (insert name of hot friend here) that you were into her. ... I want to lick your p**sy and make you c** so much. ... I want you badly, I know you want me. ... I am so f**king into you. You have to pay attention to (insert name of hot friend here), but let's have fun. I wanna f**kin' eat you and f**k you and suck your t**s and watch you eat (insert name of hot friend here) and lick your *ss. I'm so f**ing into you, it's incredible. Uhm, check this message, and then just say to me, "Yes." ... I wanna f**kin' suck your p**sy, talk dirty to you, watch you and (insert name of hot friend here) eat each other, s**k my c**k, beat off on your face. Get another woman up, hire a hooker. Let's get crazy, get some coke.

Love and Kisses (sign your name here)
Top 5 - Peter Gabriel Songs

Yesterday was Peter Gabriel's 57th birthday and I meant to mention it. Here are what I consider his top 5 songs.

1. Solsbury Hill
2. Red Rain
3. Here Comes the Flood
4. In Your Eyes
5. (tie) Big Time (tie) I Have the Touch

Just missing the list San Jacinto, D.I.Y. and Don't Give Up.
MLB TV Rights and the Sale of the Braves

Two more thoughts on baseball broadcast rights and the sale of the Atlanta Braves.

1. Do you think there would have been much more scrutiny of the MLB Extra Innings package going exclusively to DirectTV if the order of things were reversed i.e. if Liberty Media first bought the Braves and then got the MLB Extra Innings package (Liberty Media owns at least 38.5% of DirectTV and is by far the largest shareholder)? Can you imagine the hue and cry if MLB sold their TV rights to say George Steinbrenner of the Yankees or John Henry of the Red Sox? Just saying - there's a story here that ain't getting the attention it deserves.

2. Speaking of the DirectTV Extra Innings package - BaseballMusings had an interesting post on how maybe this DirectTV deal is calculated to maximize the value of the on-line MLB.TV product. While I agree with this assessment - I think there is another consequence of the deal. If cable operators can't offer MLB Extra Innings but they still want baseball - why not add a YES channel (Yankees) or NESN (Red Sox) or the channel of some other team like the Dodgers or Mets to a pay sports tier? If they did this then the revenue would go right to the individual team owners. For instance - say a cable operator in Florida added both YES and NESN - then the money from that deal would go right into the pockets of George Steinbrenner and John Henry. I'm not aware of this happening anywhere but I won't be surprised when it does.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Extra $2 Million in Chips

A very interesting look at how $2 million in extra chips were "introduced" into Day 7 the Main Event at the 2006 World series of Poker.

Not to ruin the plot line but PokerNews says that of the over $2.41 million in chips - an estimated $1.05 million went to Kevin O'Donnell who was out of the tourney about 30 minutes after the extra chips were added to his stack and who according to Amy Calistri and Tim Lavalli of PokerNews O'Donnell had "absolutely no knowledge of the events and no idea this had even occurred."

First off - let me commend the job Amy Calistri and Tim Lavalli have done on this story and let me say I believe what they say about O'Donnell who has always struck me as one of the true gentlemen in the game. Amy Calistri and Tim Lavalli say that a second "recipient" will be named soon. My guess is that if there was any intentional wrongdoing here then one of the best ways for this second "recipient" to avoid blame or suspicion is to have some of the chips go to someone who would be above suspicion.

It could be that the second party has someone slip O'Donnell $1.05 million in extra chips and then they keep the remaining $1.4 million for themselves. To some people it ain't cheating unless they get caught. If there was wrongdoing here - I hope it is exposed for the world to see.

It will be very interesting to see how this finally plays out.
Atlanta Braves to be Sold

Time Warner is selling (or is it transferring?) the Atlanta Braves to Liberty Media Corp.
While first reporting this transaction, The Wall Street Journal indicated that Time Warner would transfer the Braves, a selection of craft magazines and $1 billion in cash to Liberty Media in exchange for 60 million shares of Time Warner.
Now this deal almost seems like a tax shelter the way it is structured but I'm not interested in the dollar amount as much as I am in another potential aspect of this deal.

Right now (and for almost as long as I can remember) I get to watch dozens of Braves games on Superstation TBS who will have 70 Braves games this year. TBS won't be doing national broadcast of Braves games in 2008 (it will do 45 games local to the Atlanta area). Do all those games go to Turner South who has longterm broadcast rights to the Braves (not sure till when)?

What is interesting is that with the new MLB Extra Innings package going to DirectTV exclusively this year is that right now the only way to follow the Braves outside the Atlanta area in 2008 will be to buy a dish from DirectTV. Who happens to be the largest shareholder in DirectTV? Well that would be Liberty Media Group.

It is starting to seem like some sort of corprorate shell game going on.
Kris Benson Out for the Season

I was saddened by the news that Kris Benson will probably miss the entire 2007 season with a torn rotator cuff. I was saddened by this news for two reasons:

1. Benson has traditionally done awful against the Red Sox (going 0-2 in 3 starts with a whopping 10.91 ERA)

2. Benson being out probably also means a lower profile for his wife Anna (pictured opposite).

The injury comes at a very bad time for Benson who is in the final year of his contract. I would look for him to rehab this year and then sign a one-year deal for 2008 to prove he can still pitch (similar to Matt Clement's situation). When Benson signed his 3-year $22.5 million contract - people were aghast at the money but after the drunken sailor spending on pitchers this off-season - Benson's contract looks reasonable in hindsight.

The Orioles signed Steve Trachsel to take Benson's spot.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Dominic DiMaggio

Today is Dominic DiMaggio's 90th birthday. I loathe Dan Shaughnessy but I have to hand it to him - this was a very nice piece on the little professor turning 90.

HT Baseball Musings
Spiders on Drugs vs A Stoned Lemur

This post at Samantha Burns site is funny. Insects on drugs are always good for a chuckle.

It reminded me of the Lemur who got stoned on a pychodelic centipede.

Eric had a pretty good appreciation of the Lemur's situation.

I guess today is animal appreciation day here at A Large Regular.
RIP Eddie Feigner

I meant to comment on this earlier but an American icon passed away recently. Eric McErlain has a good post on the passing of the man behind "the King and his Court."

I saw Eddie Feigner when I was a kid. My friends parents took me down to Beaver Brook Park to see the King and his court make a softball team made up of players from the Worcester Police and Fire Departments look silly.

Though my memories of the day I saw Feigner have dimmed with time - I know I was lucky to see him even that one afternoon. If only YouTube had been around 20 years ago then others could have seen what a genius with a softball Eddie Feigner was.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Sports Viewing Options of the (Near) Future

Dr. Z recently had his yearly column ranking the football announcers. While I agree that the dream team would include Ron Jaworski and Dick Vermeil doing color (and I said so at the time they did that one game back in September) - I think that the over-riding point of Dr. Z's column is the fact that most football announcers suck and fans have no recourse but to hit the mute button on clowns like Joe Theisman.

His column also gives me another chance to remark on what I see as the future of sports broadcasting.

When I was a kid the Celtics were the big thing but many people turned the sound off on their TV to get the commentary from Johnny Most on the radio. Sure there was a bit of latency on the radio description vs what you saw on the TV but it was worth it to hear Johnny call the Lakers thugs or berate the collective manhood of the Pistons.

With the advent of podcasting - I see something similar happening real soon. People will combine watching the video they get from their TV with their own running commentary and I bet more than a few people will prefer the podcast commentary to what the announcers are saying. People will mute their TV sets and turn up the volume to their computers.

If you are in DC - think of the Sports Junkies. They were just a couple of guys talking sports like they were in a bar but people liked to listen to them and suddenly they had their own radio show. Imagine listening to the Sports Junkies do Monday Night Football instead of Joe Theisman and Tony Kornheiser. Imagine the fun the Junkies could have laying into those lame guests MNF always tries to insert into the game like Matthew McConaughey or Toby Keith or Arnold Swarzenegger (and his proposal to bring two NFL teams to LA). Imagine Fitzy in Southie doing Celtics games and calling it like he sees it with no worries about the FCC. I'm telling you this could be big.

People doing podcasts could have sponsors or do it live from a bar or something like that. I don't think they would be breaking any laws in doing so either. The ad always says its illegal to re-broadcast the transmission without the expressed written consent of blah blah blah but you wouldn't be re-broadcasting. You would be putting out original content of you commenting on an over the air broadcast. Teams sell radio broadcast rights but you wouldn't be broadcasting over the radio airways. I don't see the legal roadblock.

I really do see this as the future.
Pat Dollard

Very interesting video interview of Pat Dollard here.

I had never heard of Dollard before but I'll be sure to see his movie now. As it is remarked in the piece - Dollard is an interesting guy (and George Clooney is jackass).

Saturday, February 10, 2007

HPV Vaccine, Cancer, Kids and Sex

(This is something I wrote last March but since the HPV vaccine is back in the news - I thought I'd repost it.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s my take on the teams of the National League Central.

Chicago - The Cubs finished 17.5 games behind the Cardinals last year and this year they hope having a healthy Derrek Lee, a newly acquired Alphonso Soriano and 3rd base slugger Arimis Ramirez will allow them to power to a better finish. If healthy - that trio could top well over 100 HR between them. However, the real key to the Cubs season is how they fare outside the NL Central. Last year the Cubs were .500 within their division (42-42) whereas they were a miserable 20-43 against the NL East and NL West. The sluggers will make this a more entertaining team but if Chicago is to improve against the East and West then pitching holds the key. Carlos Zambrano was the only starter to start 30 games last season (Sean Marshall was second on the team with 24 starts and this year he's not even in the rotation). If a team is holding up its hopes to the success of newly acquired Ted Lilly and a return to health of Mark Prior and maybe Wade Miller - then those hopes may be in vain. Like many - I'm curious if Felix Pie is the real deal or the next Lastings Milledge. I think this season we'll find out the answer to that question.

Cincinnati - The Reds play in a launching pad of a park (Great American Ball Park) but they are trying to make pitching the keystone of their success. The Reds recently wrapped up starters Aaron Harang and Bronson Arroyo to long term deals and they traded for Kirk Saarloos formerly of the A's plus they have prospect Homer Bailey waiting in the wings. The addition of Alex Gonzalez at short will help the pitchers but his bat is just another uneven hitter in the batting order. Their 1st baseman can't hit for power, while their left fielder has never hit above his weight and the centerfielder is the subject of injury pools across the country. Just making things interesting will be a win for the Reds this season.

Houston - The Astros hope that the 3-4 combination of Lance Berkman and Carlos Lee will add some pop to the offense and I'm willing to go out on a limb and say that if Carlos Lee can stay healthy this year then Lance Berkman will win the NL MVP. The two big questions for the Astros are obviously whether Roger Clemens will re-sign with the club but also how Phil Garner will find 500 AB for both Mark Loretta and Craig Biggio - two players that are too good to be on the bench for any stretch of time. Even without Roger Clemens - the Astros will be very competitive team this year. It is very possible that both the NL MVP (Berkman) and NL Cy Young (Roy Oswalt) will come from the Astros this season.

Milwaukee - The Brewers .258 team batting average was the 4th worst in MLB last year. The upgrade at catcher to Johnny Estrada should help greatly with that. Someone will have to explain to me what the Brewers were thinking in regards to their infield. Their budding star they move from short, to 3rd and now to the outfield. They have a young second baseman Rickie Weeks but they offer Tony Graffanino arbitration and sign Craig Counsell. What were they thinking?

Pittsburgh - The Pirates had a winning record in the second half of the season last year and they have added power at 1st base in Adam LaRoche. Jason Bay and Freddy Sanchez make this an interesting team but the Pirates aren't winning anything.

St. Louis
- I think it will take a mid-season trade for a top starter to allow St. Louis to make the playoffs this year. The Cardinals have Chris Carpenter and then a huge drop off. They lost Jeff Suppan and Jeff Weaver who was very strong for them down the stretch. They added Kip Wells. Do I have to say more? I predict that St. Louis does not make the playoffs this season.
Why Aren’t U.S. Sports Fans More Violent?

Interesting look at the difference in violence at sporting events in Europe vs the US at the Freakonomics site.

HT Off Wing Opinion

Friday, February 09, 2007

File Under - You Learn Something New Every Day

I had never heard of pea shake games before. Thanks to this post - now I have.
The Devil's Footprints

Yesterday was the anniversary of one of the strangest phenomenon in history:
On the night of the 8th of February 1855, heavy snowfall blanketed the countryside and small villages of Southern Devon [England]. The last snow is thought to have fallen around midnight, and between this time and around 6.00am the following morning, something (or some things) left a myriad of tracks in the snow, stretching for a hundred miles or more, from the River Exe, to Totnes on the river Dart.

The early risers were the first to find them, strange hoof-shaped prints in straight lines, passing over rooftops, through walls and covering huge areas of land. A set of the prints were even supposed to have bridged a two mile span of the river Exe, continuing on the other side as if the creature had walked over the water.
Freaky stuff with no rational explanation - I find that stuff fascinating.
Arroyo Signs Extension

Bronson Arroyo signed a 3-year contract last year and now he's just signed a 2-year extension with the Reds so that he'll be locked up through 2010 (or 2011 because the contract has an option year). Some miscellaneous thoughts and observations about this contract extension:

- With Arroyo under contract till the end of 2008 - the question has to be asked "why now?" Arroyo is built like a tall Oil Can Boyd. Injury has to be in the back of people's minds and the Reds aren't the Yankees. If he gets hurt - then that extra $25 million could cripple the team's chances to be competitive.

- Its kinda strange that Arroyo's contract comes just after the Reds signed Aaron Harang to an extension because Baseball.com lists the most similar pitcher to Arroyo as Aaron Harang.

- Arroyo had publicly yearned to return to Boston but I guess that a $25 million extension can quench those yearnings. I love the fact that Bronson Arroyo was named after Charles Bronson but I still think that last year was smoke and mirrors and Arroyo is bound to return to mediocrity.
Wade Phillips to Coach Cowboys

The news that Wade Phillips will be the next coach of the Dallas Cowboys has been met with cynicism that Phillips is just a placeholder for a year until someone better is available. For me the first thought I had upon learning Phillips would be the next coach was that the comparisons of Tony Romo to Rob Johnson will be unavoidable now.

Others have speculated that Terrell Owens will run roughshod over the team now that a "players" coach has been hired.

My prediction is that the Cowboys will have a fine season and will make the playoffs. They may even win the NFC East. However, they will lose in the first round of the playoffs but the loss will be blamed on injuries and a bad match-up. The sentiment that comes with success will be strong enough that Phillips will be back for his second year. Meanwhile Bill Cowher and the other top choices next year will find jobs and the Cowboys will be looking at the same usual suspects when Phillips flops in year two.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Nick Nolte

Today is Nick Nolte's 66th birthday and normally I would do a top 5 for a guy like Nolte but the thing is - I really don't like Nick Nolte all that much. It would be tough to come up with a good 5 Nolte movies that I liked. Sure 48 Hours and North Dallas Forty would be in the top 2 and Another 48 Hours, Down and Out in Beverly Hills and The Deep would probably round out the list but there's nothing really special about any of those last three movies (except Jacqueline Bissett in a wet T-shirt in The Deep). For a guy who likes to think of himself as an artist actor - he always just ends up playing Nick Nolte. He's like a cartoon character.

I guess why I'm bitter about Nolte is because of the movie Cannery Row. The book by Steinbeck is one of my favorites and Nolte would have been perfect in the role of Mack but instead he was cast (I should say "miscast") as Doc which was completely wrong and Nolte if he had half a brain should have realized that.
Today's Must Read

Here is a piece penned by Eric McErlain of Off Wing Opinion fame way back in 2001 on his old site The Route 7 Dispatch (sorry I can't get a link to the old site to work - so Eric is letting me repost the piece in its entirety). Eric wrote the piece after visiting the USS Yorktown in Charlestown and after he had read Victor Davis Hanson's Carnage and Culture: Landmark Battles in the Rise to Western Power (a book that has been on my reading list for too long now). Anyway - here is your lost bit of history for the day:
The Price Of Preparedness

Are we all dimwits? We just sit there with goofy looks on our faces while the economy sputters and the president blows what remains of the budget surplus on a tax giveaway to the rich. With nary a peep as the "what me worry?" kid has the gall to make stealing funds from Social Security and Medicare -- to pay for a military buildup to fight an enemy that doesn't exist -- sound like fiscal responsibility.

Robert Scheer
August 28, 2001

On June 4, 1942, all that stood between the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) and Hawaii and the West Coast of the United States were the ships, sailors and naval airman of Task Forces 17 and 18 -- two carrier battle groups centered around the carriers USS Enterprise, USS Yorktown and USS Hornet. Alerted by Navy Intelligence, the carriers had been dispatched there to lie in wait for an immense Japanese fleet that meant to support the invasion of Midway Island, a small outpost guarding the approaches to Hawaii.

The senior commanders of the IJN had chosen Midway to be the site of what they hoped would be the decisive battle of the Pacific War. Their grand strategists believed that if they invaded Midway, a mere 1,100 miles from Hawaii, they could draw out the main strength of the US Navy -- it's fleet carriers -- force them into battle and destroy them.

The fleet carriers, which had escaped destruction at Pearl Harbor almost six months before, represented the only near-term threat to the IJN in the entire Pacific theater. With the American carriers out of the way, the Japanese could isolate Australia, cutting it's long and tenuous lines of supply and communication to the U.S. In turn, the Japanese could the fortify their conquests in what they called, "The Southern Area," the groups of South Pacific islands they had taken over the last six months to gain unfettered access to resources and raw materials to fuel their war machine.

That morning, aboard USS Hornet, waiting in the aircraft ready room, was Lieutenant Commander John C. Waldron of Pierre, South Dakota. Waldron was commander of Torpedo 8, a squadron of Devestator torpedo bombers. These days, even in a time when the American public seems to be rediscovering the exploits of those we now call, "The Greatest Generation," Waldron's is a name that is seldom heard outside detailed descriptions of the battle. In any case, for Tom Brokaw to write an essay about you for his book, you had to manage to survive the war.

The sunrise on June 4, 1942 would be the last Lieutenant Commander Waldron ever saw. A look at the historical record suggests that he knew it too.

The Devestator, an ungainly airplane, was a slow-moving deathtrap. The Navy already knew that, and had a new plane, the Avenger, waiting to take its place. Unfortunately, production of the Avenger didn't proceed fast enough to supply more than a token force for the battle -- and none of those were aboard any of the American carriers.

The torpedoes the planes carried were virtually useless as well. During the first months of the Pacific War, American submarine commanders reported that while the torpedoes they fired at the enemy would strike the target, more often than not, they would fail to detonate. The aerial torpedoes the Americans carried had similar problems, and in fact were years behind in development and sophistication compared with the ones carried by their Japanese counterparts.

Finally, and perhaps most tragically, there was one last thing that all the torpedo pilots flying off the Hornet that day had in common: the torpedoes they dropped at Midway would be the first they would ever drop. Waldron, described by Admiral Marc Mitscher of the Hornet after the battle as an "aggressive commander", had trained his men, mostly from the Naval Reserve, as hard as he could. Despite this, none had ever dropped a torpedo, either in combat, or in training.

One the eve of the battle, Waldron had urged his men to write one last letter home to their families, lest they never get another chance. He was right to.

At 8:00 a.m., the carrier task forces turned into the wind, and launched their planes. All morning long, land-based planes from Midway Island had engaged the Japanese fleet, but to no affect.

At around 9:30 a.m., Waldron andd Torpedo 8 became the first American carrier-based planes to attack the Japanese. Ironically, the Hornet's other two squadrons, Scouting 8 and Bombing 8, never managed to find the Japanese fleet that morning. But Waldron and Torpedo 8 did.

The planes went in without any fighter cover, leaving them horribly vulnerable to attack from the Japanese fighter screen. As the Americans pressed home their attack, "low and slow" through anti-aircraft fire, they were jumped by swarms of Zero fighter planes who didn't need to worry about tangling with any American fighters. Torpedo 8 never had a chance.

One by one, the American planes burst into flame and tumbled into the Pacific. In the end, all 15 planes in Waldron's squadron were shot down. Of the 30 naval airman in Waldron's unit, only one, a pilot, Ensign George Gay, survived the battle. After being rescued, Gay reported that while the torpedo he dropped had struck the Japanese carrier Kaga, it failed to explode.

Minutes later, another 26 torpedo bombers from the Yorktown and the Enterprise would attack. The result was much the same. Of those 26 planes, only 5 returned home, all without scoring one hit. 36 planes were gone, and seventy-one American naval aviators were dead.

But unlike the men of the Light Brigade in the Crimea, or the brave ANZACs clinging to the beaches at Gallipoli, the airmen of the Hornet, Yorktown and Enterprise did not die in vain. Because while the Japanese were fighting off the desperate yet doomed attack, the rest of the strike aircraft from the American carriers appeared in the skies over the Japanese fleet.

The pilots of those planes, squadrons of dive bombers from USS Enterprise and USS Yorktown, were the most experienced in the US Pacific Fleet. Before the war, the US Navy, under sharp attack by many critics, had stoutly defended the use of dive bombers to attack enemy ships.

As a result, Navy dive bomber crews went through a strenuous training regimen -- with units regularly competing against one another to hone their skills. The men of the Enterprise were the most experienced pilots in the U.S. Navy, having spent the better part of the first six months of the war performing hit and run attacks on Japanese bases throughout the Pacific. In addition, the dive bomber crews flew the SBD Dauntless, an aircraft far superior in both speed and maneuverability to the Devestator. There was never any question about whether or not their aerial bombs would detonate when they struck home.

This incredible combination of experience, solid weaponry, and luck would prove to be the difference that day. In only five minutes, the Japanese carriers Akagi, Kaga, and Soryu, the heart of the Japanese fleet that had attacked Pearl Harbor, were ablaze as American bombs crashed through flight decks crowded with planes, bombs and aviation fuel. The tide of the Pacific War had turned for good.

The aviators lost that day wouldn't be the last Americans to die. In the confusion of the initial torpedo attack, one Japanese carrier, the Hiryu, was able to slip away. Before another American strike could sink her, the Hiryu was able to launch two attacks on USS Yorktown, and disable her. Later, Yorktown, dead in the water and with a heavy list, was sunk by a Japanese submarine. After all, the Japanese had torpedoes that worked. A similar attack by an American submarine, the USS Nautilus, resulted in several hits, but no explosions.

With lessons like this one from American history, one has to wonder out loud why we seem doomed to repeat the same debate about military spending. Troops that are well trained and equipped, like our forces in the Gulf War, perform splendidly. Forces that are neglected, both in terms of training and weaponry, like the brave souls of Torpedo 8, wind up as martyrs.

After almost a decade of neglect by the Clinton Administration, our military has been seriously gutted. Budget cuts have drained money once used for training, and often times American pilots can't train at all because they don't have enough spare parts to keep their aircraft flying. Meanwhile, many of our forces are still relying on weapons that first came to life on the drawing board beginning in the Nixon Administration, and dollars for new weapons development continues to go wanting.

Some critics respond, like Robert Scheer above, that we simply have no enemies to fight. Of course, during the crucial years when America could have been developing the weapons that could have given John Waldron and his men a chance to survive, the nation was withdrawing into an isolationist shell, hoping the world would just leave America alone.

Few remember that during World War I, Japan was actually out ally. Despite this, the historical record shows that senior Japanese military officials had determined by 1918, before World War I had even ended, that the U.S. was Japan's number one enemy and that war between the two countries was inevitable.

If we had seen the danger earlier, might it have made a difference on that day in 1942? Undoubtedly it would have. Remember, the Avenger, a plane far superior to Waldron's Devestator was only weeks away from joining the Pacific Fleet in significant numbers. That, and a stronger commitment to weapons development might have actually produced a torpedo that would explode after hitting a target.

Today, the debate in Washington is relatively mute on this point. After promising that help was on the way, the Bush Administration seems content to keep the Pentagon's budget on a flat line, while some Democrats look to cut even more savings out of defense programs in order to balance the budget.

Of course, today we have a Congress where few members ever served in the military, and more than a few who view it as either a massive social experiment, or something to be loathed. To expect politicians such as these to understand that their neglect will eventually wind up costing American lives is perhaps too much to ask for.
That's a very nice piece of writing.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

The Snickers Ad and the Upside Down Clown

I guess Snickers is getting lots of flack for their Super Bowl ad where two mechanics share a Lady and the Tramp type kiss. I watched the game with a bunch of guys playing poker and the reaction to that commercial was either a laugh or an "ewww". The reactions were split about 50/50.

Personally - I thought it was predictable. As soon as the second guy took a bite of the Snickers bar you knew where it was going. I also have to say that Snickers got their money worth out of the commercial because it has ended up being the most talked about commercial of all those that debuted on Super Bowl Sunday (no such thing as bad publicity and all that).

Anyway - I'm greatful to the commercial because its one-shot debut (it won't be rebroadcast out of fear of offending sensibilities) reminded me of my all-time favorite Super Bowl Sunday commercial that was also only broadcast once (because it too offended sensibilities - watch the commercial and you'll understand why).

So without further ado - here is the Budweiser Upside Down Clown which I though was spit-take funny when I first saw it:

Monday, February 05, 2007

Top 5 - Michael Mann Films

Today is Michael Mann's 64th birthday. So I thought I would rank Michael Mann's top 5 films that he directed.

1. Heat
2. Last of the Mohigans
3. The Insider
4. Manhunter
5. Ali

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Vegas Finds the Magic Numbers

Look for the final numbers for the game tonight to be Colts -6.5 points and the over under at 47.5 points. I say that Vegas has found the magic numbers because as of 10:30 this morning - the money bet on the Colts and the money bet on the Bears is exactly equal at 50% apiece. That means that bookies will most likely even off on the amount bet but will make a "vig" off $1 out of every $2 bet.
Larry King's Super Bowl Special

(A Large Regular is lucky to have a special quest to speak on the day of the most sacred sporting event in the US of A - Mr. Larry King.)

Today is the Super Bowl and I am looking forward to a great game between the Chicago Bears and the Indianapolis Colts. To me perhaps the most important factor in tonight's game will be the rain. If it is a constant rain then the balls will get slicker and heavier and I wouldn't be surprised to see balls slip out of the QB's hands with more fumbled snaps and interceptions as a result. Combine the slickness of the K-balls used on field goals with the rain and I wouldn't be surprised to see another Tony Romo incident tonight either... I've said it before but I still think that John Travolta's best role was as the boy in the bubble... You know the winner of the game will be known as the World Champion but before the game we only sing our national anthem. That's the mark of a great sporting event. If I hear O' Canada before a game - I know I'm in for a snoozefest... If you bet on football - take the heads on the coin toss. It's due... Happy birthday to former Vice President Dan Quayle who turns 60 today. I happened to catch up with the former VP and I asked him who he thought would win this game - him being from Indiana it was no surprise that he picked the Colts, "I feel as a fan that I'm part of this team and part of this game. This is the fans' game as much as the teams and what a waste it would be to lose this game or not to have a game would be very wasteful"... I'm not sure if you have noticed but both coaches in this game are African-Americans. What were the odds on that?.... Speaking of odds and betting - I also like the over in the longest TD of the game being better than 44.5 yards... Today is also Lawrence Taylor's 48th birthday. That man has a humongous head. I mean he looks like a human bobble-head doll. But of course I would never tell that to his face... Prince will provide the half-time entertainment. Personally I would prefer Prince protege Sheila E who I would eat like a cheese cracker. Prince - not so much... Enjoy the game and if you are going to drive - take a car...

Saturday, February 03, 2007

No Helton? No Problem

Probably the best analysis of Theo Epstein's decision not to pull the trigger on the Todd Helton deal.

Theo definitely made the right decision.
The Last Poker Game

Never mind poker writing - this is just good writing period. A short story worthy of Hemingway.

HT Tao of Poker
Heh Heh

Wikipedia has a "this day in history" deal and I happened to check out the entry for tommorow and saw this as the final entry;
* 2007 - Tony Dungy and Lovie Smith are the first African American head coaches in the National Football League's Super Bowl

Peyton Manning will expose the Bears
I get the feeling that by morning that entry will be edited.
Bible Quiz

You know the Bible 95%!

Wow! You are awesome! You are a true Biblical scholar, not just a hearer but a personal reader! The books, the characters, the events, the verses - you know it all! You are fantastic!

Ultimate Bible Quiz
Create MySpace Quizzes

Ain't no thing.

HT Groaning Jock
Top 5 - Kinks Songs

Today is Dave Davies 60th birthday. In his honor - here are what I consider the top 5 songs by The Kinks.

1. You Really Got Me
2. Superman
3. Sunny Afternoon
4. Celluloid Heros
5. (tie) Living on a Thin Line (tie) Lola (tie) Catch Me Now I'm Falling

Just missing the cut were Deicated Follower of Fashion and Low Budget.
Impeachment Wanted by the Elitists

Howard Zinn has a piece out called Impeachment by the People but what Zinn really means is he wants the country run by people who think exactly as he does and nothing else is acceptable.
These are the Democrats who were brought to power in November by an electorate fed up with the war, furious at the Bush Administration, and counting on the new majority in Congress to represent the voters. But if sanity is to be restored in our national policies, it can only come about by a great popular upheaval, pushing both Republicans and Democrats into compliance with the national will.
The Democrats are the majority by the slimmest of margins - there is no "great popular upheaval" except in the minds of people who can't get it into their heads that the 60's are over like Professor "Blame America" Zinn. It is truly sad that Zinn thinks the current status is insane because in his mind he truly believes that you would have to be crazy not to think exactly as he does.

Zinn argues in his piece that the time is ripe for the impeachment of George W Bush. He argues for a grassroots movement towards these ends by "the people". It is more accurate to say that impeachment is only being argued for by the get naked for world peace nutjobs - not the people. Get off the sidelines and run for office Mr. Zinn if you think "the people" are so strongly behind you and that the "national will" is behind impeachment. Don't hold your breath for that though because it's easier for people like Mr. Zinn to tell people what to do from their ivory towers.

Zinn is perhaps best known for his People's History of the United States but I've long wondered if at some point someone will write a People's History of Vietnam and include Howard Zinn's role in helping to sell out Vietnam to the communists and the massive bloodshed and flight that accompanied it.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Super Bowl Thoughts

I'm waiting for that story that comes out every year at the Super Bowl. You know the story I'm talking about - the story of how the local law enforcement officials in the city where the game takes place have a sting that nets dozens of ill-doers [Bush speak].

Law enforcement officials traditionally send out announcements to people with outstanding warrants saying that they have won tickets to the Super Bowl and that there will be a party with food and drink at some well known local hotel or ballroom to award the prizes. The scofflaws show up - have some food and drink and then instead of getting Super Bowl tickets - they get arrested.

Happens every year. It helps prove the rule that most criminals are stupid.

What got me thinking about this annual event was the fact that it traditionally happens either today (Friday) or on Saturday. I got to wondering how many people would get caught in the sting. I really feel that there should be record keeping for this and law enforcement officials should have some trophy that goes to the host city that nets the most criminals. They would get to keep the trophy until someone breaks their record.

Of course this could get out of hand with jurisdictions having stings for minor misdemeanors like having a Super Bowl pool, buying scalped tickets and the like just to break the record.

Speaking of criminal acts - betting on the Super Bowl is technically illegal but something that has become as American as apple pie. Everyone it seems buys a square in a pool or puts a little action on the game. The recent law against Internet gambling has had the unintended consequence of turning Internet savvy bettors into bettors who place bets with local bookies.

This was a consequence many of us saw coming and which we spoke out loudly against when the law was snuck into being. Many of us also saw the consequence of people starting to bet more than they normally would because local bookies work on the idea of credit whereas on-line sites require you to put money in advance into your "account". Did the new law actually increase illegal betting? If by amount bet - I would have to say yes the law has increased "illegal" betting because of the "credit" aspect.

One consequence that I didn't see at the time but have come to almost appreciate is the fact that Internet betting was drawing money out of the local and US economies whereas betting with the local bookie keeps the cash in local circulation. On-line betting had money bleeding out of the US to Costa Rica and other "offshore" nations. Betting with the local "Tony Soprano" keeps the money in local circulation (for example Tony always drove a new car and I'm guessing he paid cash plus all those dinners at local restaurants had to pump money back into the community economy).

I have to wonder if keeping money from flowing out of the country wasn't the real goal of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006, (“UIGEA”). Remember - the law really only places real punishment on banks that facilitate the gambling.

This thought brings to mind a recent conversation I had with a DEA agent I know. He told me that he feels it wouldn't be such a bad thing to redeploy all the DEA agents to the borders because in the scheme of things stopping illegal drug smuggling and the related crimes (terrorism) that can go with it are much more important than trying to catch the urban guy who grows pot in his basement or the rural guy who has a pot grove in the local woods.

I agree with his thoughts (and he's the expert) but I also have to remark that the local pot growers also keep the money in local circulation whereas international smuggler I would think tend to try and take the money home with them.

Anyway - I seem to have wandered away from my original thought of what the over / under will be in criminals caught in a Super Bowl sting this year. Too bad you can't bet on something like that either on-line or with the local bookie. And no - I haven't been smoking local weed to go down this line of thinking in the first place (I know you were wondering about that).
Heh Heh - Joke of the Day

Paddy was driving down the street in a sweat because he had an important meeting and couldn't find a parking place. Looking up to heaven he said,"Lord take pity on me. If you find me a parking place I will go to Mass every Sunday for the rest of me life and give up Irish Whiskey"

Miraculously, a parking place appeared.

Paddy looked up again and said, "Never mind, I found one."
Austin Kearns Signs New Deal

Austin Kearns signed a new deal with the Washington Nations - avoiding arbitration in the process. Kearns is now signed for the next three years for a total of $16.5 million with a $10 million option for 2010 (or a $1 million buy-out). Couple of random thoughts about this signing:

- Kearns will make as much this year ($3.5 million) as he has made in his entire professional career to this point ($3.5 million in earnings since 2003).

- Kearns will actually make less this year than what the club was offering in arbitration (the Nationals offered $3.65 million while Kearns had asked for $4.25 million). I just find the fact that he signed a deal for less than the club's arbitration amount for this year strange.

- Kearns is a walking statistical anomaly. He hits for power and should average at least 25 HR per year but he also strikes out about once every four at bats. He has a very good OBP (.361 career) but his batting average is Rob Deeresque (.265 career).

- Kearns is a very similar hitter to Wily Mo Pena who appears headed to arbitration. Pena is asking for $2.2 million and the Red Sox are offering $1.7 million - so I think based upon what Kearns got that the Sox should just pay Wily Mo the $2.2 million and avoid the ugliness of arbitration.
Super Bowl Factoid

Quarterback's who have worn the number 8 are now 5-1 all-time in Super Bowl starts with only Matt Hasselback losing while wearing the ocho. Not sure how Rex Grossman would take this news.

Peyton Manning will be the first QB to start a Super Bowl wearing the number 18.
Top 5 - Quotes from the Movie Groundhog Day

1. "Don't drive angry."

2. "Who wants some flapjacks?"

3. "I was in the Virgin Islands once. I met a girl. We ate lobster and drank pina coladas. At sunset we made love like sea otters. *That* was a pretty good day. Why couldn't I get that day over and over and over..."

4. It's the same things your whole life. "Clean up your room.", "Stand up straight.", "Pick up your feet.", "Take it like a man.", "Be nice to your sister.", "Don't mix beer and wine, ever.". Oh yeah, "Don't drive on the railroad tracks."

5. This is one time where television really fails to capture the true excitement of a large squirrel predicting the weather.
Farrah Fawcett

Today is Farrah's 60th birthday (if you can believe that). I swear that if mankind needed to encapsulate the decade of the 70's into a single image - it would be this one:

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Very Cool

Three cheers for Little Ceasars Pizza and Michael Illitch.

Little Ceasars give disabled Iraq vet a free franchise in his hometown.

Very cool - too bad Little Ceasars pizza dough tastes like cardboard and Elmer's Glue to me.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Greetings from the 55 Broad Street Starbucks in New York City! Busy day today but I am glad to hear that the release date for the 7th Harry Potter book has finally been announced.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
will be released on July 21st. Please note that I have put a banner link to Amazon.com at the top of the blog and I would appreciate it if you could order your copy(s) of the book through that link. It helps support the site and I really appreciate it.

I do feel like a bit of a hypocrite for asking though because on July 20th I will be at my local bookstore waiting for the stroke of midnight to buy a couple copies. I can't wait any longer than possible. Even if you don't buy the book through Amazon - please consider using any of my links to Amazon to buy your music and reading materials. As I said above - it is appreciated.

The timing of the release of the book is interesting because the release date for the 5th movie - Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - will be released just 8 days prior to the book (USA movie release date July 13th)