Saturday, March 31, 2007

This is Complete BS

This note was in the latest notes column at the Red Sox site:
League decision: The Red Sox received a letter from Major League Baseball saying that Johnny Pesky will no longer be allowed in the dugout during games. MLB is enforcing a rule stating that only the manager and six coaches can be in the dugout during a game.

Pesky, who will turn 88 in September, is in his 55th season with the Red Sox. He's allowed to don a uniform and enter the dugout and clubhouse before games, as well as walking on the field. Once the game starts, he'll have to vacate the dugout.

"I think he's [Pesky] upset," said Francona, who was the one who informed Pesky of the league's ruling. "I think he had hurt feelings."
This is complete BS. Baseball is supposed to be known for celebrating its history. Well Johnny Pesky is baseball history as far as I'm concerned and I know that I also speak for many Red Sox fans as well. The guy is 88-years old. He's not giving the Red Sox a competitive advantage. Even the Yankees would say that they have no problem with Pesky being in the Red Sox dugout.

This is pure BS.

Just like when the Baseball Hall of Fame missed its chance to properly honor Buck O'Neil for being a great ambassador for the game while O'Neil was still alive - MLB seems intent on stiffing Johnny Pesky. You can be sure that if something happened to Johnny (God forbid) - that Selig and the rest of the MLB lackeys would be the first carpetbaggers in town to proclaim how great Pesky was for baseball in Boston.

If MLB sticks to this decision - then I hope that the Red Sox front office finds some other suitable way to keep Pesky involved. This decision is crap. And it is beyond petty.
Notes from Las Vegas

I had to go out to Las Vegas this week for business. I had a couple meetings set up on Thursday so I flew out on Wednesday and flew back yesterday. I've been to Vegas a number of times but I've never bothered to do many of the tourist type things because - well lets just say that I had other priorities. This trip was mostly work and travel but I do have some things to comment on:

- watching the volcano show outside the Mirage. Red/orange lights pointed at fountain jets of water make it look like erupting lava. Add in jets of flame shooting up and you have a cool couple minutes of viewing but to be honest my favorite part was the jets of flame because I was downwind and the fire was pretty warming on a nippy night.

- I went up the Eiffel Tower at the Paris which is half the size of the real Eiffel Tower but this one affords great views of the strip. Especially nice was being up at the observation deck and watching the fountain show at the Bellagio. It cost $9 to go up to the observation deck and now I can say I did it but the aerial view of Las Vegas (in my opinion) is just as good at the Voodoo Lounge at the Rio and if you get there early enough to avoid the cover charge - the view is free and you can spend that $9 on a nice Tanqueray and cranberry.

- David Hasselhoff is in Vegas appearing in the show The Producers. I understand that the Hoff isn't even one of the leads. Instead he's playing the director Roger DeBris. I think it would have been great to have Hasselhoff play the Nazi-loving writer of Springtime for Hitler - Franz Liebkind. To me - that would have been funny.

- Speaking of shows - I saw an ad on a cab for a Liza Minelli show. Is the market niche for gay men over 50 that big that Liza Minelli can still headline in Vegas? Who knew?

- the one touristy-type thing that I heartily recommend is seeing the midget Leprechaun at O'Sheas walking around the bar pouring shots into people's mouths and getting pretty suggestive with some the girls getting shots. Given the choice between watching the little guy or the fountains at Bellagio or volcano at the Mirage - I'd take the little guy seven days a week. But that's just me.

- I had long wanted to ride one of the roller-coasters in Vegas and this time I road the Express at the New York New York. It was a good ride but it wasn't exactly the Superman at Six Flags New England or the El Toro at Six Flags New Jersey. If you like roller-coasters and have the time - I'd recommend the Express if you are in Vegas but get the full day pass at $25 instead of the single ride ticket for $12.50 because if you ride it once - you'll want to ride it again (and there was no line when I rode it).

- file this under "Who Knew?" With all the gambling in Nevada and Las Vegas in particular - I was a bit surprised to find out that the state does not have a lottery. I don't know about you but that just kinda surprised me.

As far as gambling was concerned - craps did not go well for me this trip but the pain of loss was more of a twinge (like gas pain) instead of cut off arm - bleeding to death type of pain.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Viva Las Vegas

Out in Vegas for a few days - so blogging will be light.

I do want to point out that I was right to call Bill Simmons an ignoramous regarding Holy Cross basketball. It turns out that Bill Simmons' secret plan to save Holy Cross basketball comes down to hiring Larry Eustachy and bringing in a Chris Washburn type player every two years.


He also sprinkles the column with tales of the football program and then says Holy Cross should be the Gonzaga of the East Coast (but Bill - Gonzaga has no football team).

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Speaking of Abject Stupidity - Bill Simmons Speaks Out

Once again Bill Simmons speaks out about sports at Holy Cross and proves he has no clue. Here's the money paragraph:
This isn't a new thing, either. When I was attending school there from 1988-92, nobody understood what was happening with the Patriot League move and our curious decision to scale back sports when the football and basketball teams were such an enormous part of the Holy Cross experience. At the time, the direction was sweepingly unpopular. I even wrote a newspaper column or two for the Crusader about it -- they were crippling our football and basketball programs for reasons that didn't make sense to anyone. Nearly two decades later, the reasons STILL don't make sense. It's the equivalent of a triathlete intentionally amputating his left leg, then continuing to compete while telling you, "Look at me, look at me. I'm doing this with one leg!" Admittedly, it's impressive and takes a ton of heart and courage. At the same time, HE STILL CHOPPED OFF HIS LEFT LEG FOR NO REASON. There's a difference between courage and abject stupidity.
Let me point out three things:

1. The giant elephant in the middle of the room (which I bet Simmons doesn't even address in his touted magazine article) is Title IX. This was passed in 1972 but over the years it became more and more of a drag on the budgets of sports programs throughout the US. As it became a defacto quota program (one women's scholarship for every men's scholarship) - colleges who played Division 1 football were faced with a huge dilemma. Either they could add 60 odd scholarships for women and the associated costs or they could scale back. This wasn't a problem for big-time programs like Alabama whose football program generated tons of ready cash but Holy Cross was not one of those programs. So Holy Cross chose a middle-ground. They joined the Patriot League where football was a non-scholarship sport (and thus immune from Title IX). Since then the football program has come back and is one of the better programs in Division 1-A (and offering scholarships once again).

2. Hey Bill - does the name Doug Flutie ring a bell? Boston College football struck gold with Flutie and since 1984 - BC has tried to be part of big-time college football scene. But with that commitment comes the flip side of gambling scandals and players making news for what they do at Mary Anns (local dive bar near BC) and other off campus exploits. BC graduates have to suffer the jokes from people like you about the gambling and the fact that BC never wins the big football game. Has the big time football program really enhanced the academic reputation of Boston College or does the fact they graduated Bill Romanowski take away some of the academic shine?

3. Simmons wants to have his cake and eat it too. He says that when he was at the Cross "the football and basketball teams were such an enormous part of the Holy Cross experience." Hmmmm.. the basketball program never won an NCAA tournament game when you were in school. I think this is an example of someone getting old and thinking things were so much better back in his day. Do you really pine for the days when the Crusaders were in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference battling it out with the like of Iona and Marist? Also - you say that you want Holy Cross to be the Gonzaga of the East Coast but guess what Bill - Gonzaga doesn't have a football team. Is part of your plan to have students have tons of free time on Saturday afternoons on campus? Is that the plan? Students study extra on Saturday to make up for the drop in entrance requirments for the basketball players you want to admit to the school? I should also point out again that it costs almost $10,000 more per year to go to Holy Cross than Gonzaga. People are paying the premium because the college has an all-star academic program - not an all-star basketball team. Plus you seem to forget that last year Holy Cross' hockey team had the biggest upset in NCAA hockey history. The baseball stadium has been greatly upgraded (Fitton Field is now also home to a pro minor leaugue baseball team - the Worcester Tornados). Things are good sports-wise up on Mount Saint James these days. Maybe if you had a clue you'd realize that.
Heh Heh

John McCain supports hot girl on girl action.

Finally a politician supports a position I can really get behind.

HT Michele Malkin
Baseball Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous baseball thoughts and observations.

I know its only spring training but I’m a little excited about the performance of the Braves corner outfielders. Both 23-year old Jeff Francouer and 27-year old Ryan Langerhans have hit well over .300 and have shown some pop (the two combined for 5 HR) so far this spring. With Anduw Jones expected to have great numbers because it is his contract year – the Braves could have one of the most productive outfields in baseball this season... There is also lots of reason to be excited about the Braves pitching. In spring training the top 4 starters (Smoltz, Hudson, Davies and James) have gone a combined 6-1 with a combined ERA under 2.00. The Braves have also shored up the bullpen and now have 3 or 4 prospective closers (Wickman, Soriano and Gonzalez). Based upon early indications - I think the Braves have to be the favorites to win the NL East this year... Ouch - Vegas clearly doesn’t agree with my assessment – they have the Mets as the favorite to win the NL East at 10/11 odds with the Phillies close behind at 11/10. The Braves come in at 3-1. That could be a good value bet... Steve Finley is a guy waiting for someone to get hurt. Seriously. He’s not happy about backing up Willy Taveras in Colorado and unfortunately (for Finley) the Rockies also have a young power-hitting corner-outfielder in waiting in Jeff Baker. Finley probably needs someone to have a hole in centerfield from injury and a trade to that team for him to see significant playing time this season. Finley has made over $67 million in his career – so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him retire if he’s not going to be a starter. Him being a HoF player is still up in the air... I still don’t see what the fascination is with Scott Podsednik as a player. Sure he stole 40 bases last season but he was also caught stealing 19 times. Do you really want a lead-off hitter who hit just .261 with a .330 OBP in 2006? Do you really want a corner outfielder with just 25 career home runs? I don’t get it.
Lynn Hoppes is One of the Classiest People in the Business

The term "a scholar and a gentleman" just scratches the surface when applied to Lynn Hoppes. The Big Lead had a very nice short interview of Mr. Hoppes.

I have no idea what the deal was with the Lou Diampnd Phillips photo.
Sweet Sugary Battery Goodness

This is pretty cool news.
Using sugar for fuel is not a new concept: Sugar in the form of glucose supplies the energy needs of all living things. While nature has figured out how to harness this energy efficiently, scientists only recently have learned how to unleash the energy-dense power of sugar to produce electricity, Minteer says.

A few other researchers also have developed fuel cell batteries that run on sugar, but Minteer claims that her version is the longest-lasting and most powerful of its type to date. As proof of concept, she has used a small prototype of the battery (about the size of a postage stamp) to successfully run a handheld calculator. If the battery continues to show promise during further testing and refinement, it could be ready for commercialization in three to five years, she estimates.
It's not inconceivable that five years from now - all portable electronic devices (cell phones, MP3 players, etc) would use sugar powered batteries. In the sixties - plastics were the growth industry but I think chemistry may give nanotechnology a run for its money the next ten years.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Eisenhower, Conservatism and Civil Rights

A very interesting article on Dwight Eisenhower's actions regarding Civil Rights. Ike probably hasn't gotten the credit he's due in this regard but then again - Eisenhower in general hasn't been given the credit he deserves.

I also found this bit very interesting:
One of the interesting attributes of [Edmund] Burke's legacy is that he espoused a set of broad principles, but refrained from endorsing a specific ideology. That is, Burke didn't have a conservative philosophy so much as he had a conservative mindset. He saw conservatism not as an agenda of issues but as an approach with which to deal with issues as they developed.
Emphasis added. I've long thought that the best candidates don't fit preconceived labels but instead address issues as they arise in a careful, common-sense way. Of course there would have to be a grounded moral compass from which the decisions arose. Ike fit that profile but so did Harry Truman. I think the candidate who bests fits the above will be the one to earn my vote in 2008.
Pavano to Start Opening Day?

I don't believe in omens but if I did - I'd have to say that for the Yankees having to use Carl Pavano as the Opening Day starter would be the equivalent of a black cat walking under a ladder to break a mirror.

If Pavano performs poorly (and he has had control issues this spring - 5.84 ERA and a 7 walks to 5 K's ratio) - then the booing could be unmerciless at Yankee Stadium. Pavano seems like a fragile type to begin with. I'm not sure why Joe Torre would put the added pressure of being the Opening Day starter on Pavano's shoulders. I guess maybe the idea is either he swims or he sinks and the earlier to find out - the better.

The Yankees always have problems with the Devil Rays and as a Red Sox fan I'm hoping this becomes a complete disaster of a start for Pavano and the Yankees. So let it be written - so let it be done.
Heaven's Gate

It's hard to believe that it's been exactly 10 years since 39 members of the Heaven's Gate cult took their own lives in an attempt to catch a ride on the tail end of the Hale-Bopp comet from the UFO residents who dwelt there. Their passing has left us with many unanswered questions such as

- could this tragedy have been avoided if George Lucas just released The Phantom Menace in 1997 instead of waiting and waiting to release it in 1999?

- how did the names of the 39 dead males show up on the donor lists of Al Gore's 2000 Presidential campaign?

- the house where the tragedy occurred was up for sale at the time with a listing of $1.6 million. Did the house sell for full list? Do the new residents hear noises in the night?

- do you think anyone at NASA has used the example of the Heaven's Gate Cult as justification for more money for exploration in NASA's budget?

- how come Reebok and Adidas haven't used the fact that all the cult members were wearing Nike in an ad campaign?

- if ESPN's Cold Pizza was around 10 years ago - would the number of people who volunteered to end their lives have greatly increased?

Ten years later and there are still so many questions.
Updated NCAA Final Four Odds

I find it interesting that four of the six favorites going into March Madness have made the Final Four. Here were the pre-tournament odds with only Kansas and North Carolina disappointing:

Florida 7/2
Kansas 4/1
North Carolina 5/1
Ohio State 6/1
Georgetown 8/1
UCLA 9/1

Here are the current odds to win the 2007 NCAA Men's Basketball Championship.

Florida 8/5
Ohio State 13/5
Georgetown 3/1
UCLA 7/2
Weekend Update

So now we have the Final Four in the NCAA Tournament. Even though I had picked three of the four correctly and have Ohio State winning it all in all of my brackets - I'm officially rooting for Georgetown to win the title. I had too many wrong early in March Madness to win any of my remaining pools (I'm 40 out of 60 for my picks) - so I'm just rooting for the Hoyas because of residual Big East loyalty and because they are the biggest underdog left - and I loves me dem underdogs.

I would also like to point out that our interview subject from a couple of weeks back - Carl Spackler - correctly picked the Georgetown over North Carolina upset.

As far as "for entertainment only" game-picking - its almost as if the past four days never existed. I went 2-4 on Thursday, 2-4 on Friday, 0-2 on Saturday and 2-2 yesterday. That's a grand total of 6 for 12 in picks (.500). The vig was worth the action though.

On Saturday night I stayed up to watch Peyton Manning on SNL and I admit that he was pretty funny. However, I couldn't help thinking that he was doing this after and maybe because Tom Brady did it and that Tom Brady did SNL in large part because his idol Joe Montana hosted the show. There has to be some envy on Manning's part - I mean he mentioned Tom Brady just minutes into the show (you never heard Tom Brady mention Manning when Tom Terrific did the show).

Just seven days till Opening Day and I'm really starting to get the baseball itch. I love the way March Madness will be segwaying right into baseball - both the NCAA championship game and Opening Day are next Monday.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Carlos Mencia - Thief

Carlos Mencia is a joke kleptomaniac.

Mencia may be the person I despise most on TV today. His Bud Light commercials make me want to switch to another beer.
Top 5 - Tom Glavine's Draft History

Today is Tom Glavine's 41st birthday. In his honor I took a look back to a bit of his history. He was taken in the second round of the 1984 baseball draft with the 47th overall pick by the Atlanta Braves. Here are the top 5 notable picks that were taken above him.

1. Shawn Abner - an outfielder taken first overall by the Mets. Not sure if Glavine was even on their draft day radar but if they had a do-over you'd think Glavine would have to have a good shot at being taken first.

2. Billy Swift - another New England pitcher (from Maine) - taken with the second overall pick by Seattle. I think Swift remains the highest drafted player ever from New England.

3. Mark McGwire - taken 10th by the A's

4. John Marzano - taken 14th by the Red Sox over the local (Billerica, MA) Glavine. John freakin' Marzano. Good thing the Red Sox took Marzano and his 11 career home runs over local boy turned Hall of Fame pitcher.

5. Greg Maddux - taken in the second round (31st pick overall) by the Cubs. These guys were destined to be linked together. I easily could have ranked this pick first but I cheated and did the rankings by draft order.

From everything I've heard - Tom Glavine is both a very nice and likable guy and a good parent. Happy birthday.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Lynchy's Linkies

Links to some fun and interesting stuff.

- Unfortunately I've had this virus pretty bad lately

- Heh heh

- It took a few seconds to load but once it started - I couldn't stop watching this (and it did get misty about half way through) - HT Grouchy Old Cripple
Baseball Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous baseball thoughts and observations.

Did the Red Sox front office really think Joel Pineiro could have been a top closer in the extra tough AL East? That's the only question I have after the announcement that Jonathan Papelbon will return to the closer's role. I have no doubt that if a top closer was available as a free agent this offseason that the Red Sox would have been first in line to sign them. I guess as Shakespeare said, "all's well that ends well"... Everybody who's paying attention is worried about Jason Varitek's offense. Last year Tek hit just .238 with a .725 OPS. Sure he hit a HR yesterday but that broke up an 0-17 skid. Everybody is saying that Varitek came to camp in the best shape of his career but every spring you read those stories about players who are over the hill. I really hope that I'm wrong and that Varitek isn't turning into the offensive equivalent of Brad Ausmus... Just as it is wise to take Varitek's 0-17 skid with a grain of salt - it may also be wise not to get too excited about the A's Rich Harden who has a 1.32 ERA and 25 K's in little over 13 innings this spring. It seems like Harden has been around so long that it's easy to forget that he's just 25-years old... Again - remember its just spring training numbers - but it looks like Mike Piazza may thrive as a DH. So far this spring he's hitting .425 with 3 HR and an OPS of 1.228... Going back to Joel Pineiro for a moment - did you realize that he's the highest paid pitcher in the Red Sox bullpen? At $4 million for the year (plus $2 million in incentives) - he makes almost as much Mike Timlin ($2.8 million) and Brendan Donnelly ($1.4 million) combined. I wonder how that sits with the other guys in the bullpen? The highest paid guy in the bullpen will probably only be used in mop-up situations... Twenty-years ago in 1987 the Red Sox had two starters (Roger Clemens and Bruce Hurst) who combined for 33 complete games. Do you think we will see 33 complete games in the entire American League this year?
Top 5 - Steve McQueen Films

Today would have been the king of cool's 77th birthday. In his honor - here are what I consider his top 5 movies.

1. Papillon
2. The Sand Pebbles
3. The Thomas Crown Affair
4. (tie) The Cincinnati Kid (tie) Bullitt
5. (tie) The Magnificent Seven (tie) The Great Escape

OK - I know that's seven movies but they're so hard to chose from. I had to leave off Tom Horn and Nevada Smith. The last two films on my list are really ensemble cast movies but McQueen steals the screen whenever he appears.

Friday, March 23, 2007

March Madness Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous NCAA thoughts and observations.

You know what is sad? I’m taking Butler tonight (+10.5 points) and I couldn’t even tell you what state the college is in. I do know that they have beaten some pretty good teams this year (Notre Dame, Indiana, Maryland, Old Dominion to name a few) and that they are a very good free throw hitting team (better than 75%). I’m hoping that will be enough to stay close to Florida… FWIW – Butler is also 6-0 this season as an underdog against the spread and they beat Tennessee who happens to be one of the teams that beat Florida this year… I’m taking UNLV in a coin flip. Both teams shoot free throws at a better than 71% clip and 3 points in a tight game could be a lot. Of all the games tonight – this is the one where the underdog can win outright… FWIW – Oregon beat Lehigh by 12 points but so did Holy Cross… USC is an under the radar type team. For the season they have shot free throws and three-pointers better than North Carolina (just barely in both categories). The Trojans beat Texas pretty handily and I doubt that the line would be up to 8 points if it was UNC vs Texas. Plus keep in mind that USC is 10-2 against the spread as an underdog this year… Vanderbilt lost to Georgetown earlier in the season (November 15th) by 16 points. But the Commodores also beat Florida by 13 points (January 31st). Which team will show up tonight? Georgetown has won its last 6 games by an average of 12.5 points but that includes two 20 point plus blowouts (Belmont and Pittsburgh). This is really a pick-em game but I’m taking Vanderbilt because in that first game against the Hoyas – Vandy only hit 23% of their 3-pointers. They have to do better than that tonight… Just for the record – I looked it up and Butler is near Indianapolis… Best wishes to Boise State senior guard Coby Karl, the son of Denver Nuggets coach George Karl. Per the great college basketball site Hoopville - Coby Karl “will have surgery to remove cancerous lymph nodes April 2. Despite also having his thyroid removed last March and undergoing treatments through this past year, he led the Broncos in scoring at 14.8 points per game. Karl finished as Boise State’s third all-time leading scorer with 1,698 points. He’s still scheduled to play in the NABC All-Star Game in Atlanta March 31.”
Bill Simmons Does Not Hide His Ignorance Under a Bushel Basket

Bill Simmons is still playing the uninformed, whiny, spoiled brat card when it comes to the basketball program at Holy Cross. Here's his latest display of not knowing what he's writing about:
Note to any readers from Holy Cross who admonished me for being "embarrassed" that the Crusaders stunk out the joint in the NCAAs: When our school shoots 14-for-42 for the game, our best two players combine to go 1-for-19 when the game's still in doubt, a backup forward's career night (6-for-6) keeps us from dipping under 40 points for the game and we play like a team that didn't deserve to be a 13-seed in the NIT, much less the NCAAs ... sorry, I find this to be embarrassing. We haven't won an NCAA game in 30 years, we've been bounced in the first round four times this decade, and the only reason we even get invited is because they were dumb enough to give the putrid Patriot League an automatic bid every year. I'm supposed to feel good about this? Whatever happened to Holy Cross becoming the "Gonzaga of the East Coast?" What's the estimated year for that happening ... 2035? Have expectations really been lowered to the point that we're supposed to take solace in the fact that we have good kids and a good graduation rate every time we stink out the joint in March Madness? Since when did the campus turn into a bunch of soccer moms? I want to throw up. More on this next week.
Let me tackle this point by point.

1. Simmons whines about the Crusaders poor shooting against Southern Illinois without ever giving credit to the flip side of the equation. The Salukis have one of the best defenses in all of college basketball. Sure the Crusaders only shot 14-42 (33%) but the Salukis held Virginia Tech to 19-46 shooting (41%) but at least Holy Cross outscored the Hokies (51-48). Hell Southern Illinois held high powered Kansas to 30% shooting in the first half last night and just 61 points overall. Simmons just won't admit that he knew nothing about Southern Illinois (or college basketball in general).

2. Staying on the same subject of low scoring games - the Sports Guy likes to think he's some sort of gambling demi-expert yet this game helps expose his ignorance (as if losing a NFL game picking contest to a dog wasn't enough proof). The Holy Cross - Southern Illinois game's over/under line opened at just 108 points (by game time it was up to 112). That's a tiny number. In other words - the real betting experts in Vegas expected a low scoring game with lots of missed shots and turnovers. The final ended up being 112 points. Those Vegas guys know what they are talking about - Bill Simmons? Not so much.

3. How dare he try and put this loss on the shoulders of Keith Simmons or Torey Thomas. Keith Simmons was the MVP of the Patriot League in both the regular season and the playoffs. The Crusaders don't sniff the NCAA's without either of these players. How dare he use his position at to even hint at blaming these two young student-athletes. Hey Bill - ever stop to think that maybe Southern Illinois were keying on Simmons and Thomas and that was part of the equation? Ever stop to think before spouting off at all?

4. Putrid Patriot League? OK - its clear that you are one of those guys who are still pissed that Holy Cross did not join the Big East when it was formed. I've covered this ground before but Father Brooks has been proven correct by time that he made the right choice. Holy Cross's academic reputation is as high as it ever was (witness the close to $30,000 per year they get from each student as proof). Think about that the next time you make a BC gambling scandal joke or the next time you look at Mike Jarvis and remember what he did to St. John's reputation. In your mind Holy Cross should somehow be ashamed of being associated with colleges like Navy, Colgate and Bucknell? In my mind its just the opposite.

5. You want Holy Cross to be the Gonzaga of the West Coast? How do I put this? I know - you are a jackass. You say you graduated from Gonzaga and people say "hey that's where John Stockton and Adam Morrison went to school." You say you graduated from Holy Cross and people say "hey - you must be pretty smart." There is a reason it costs about $10,000 more per year to go to Holy Cross than Gonzaga. If basketball was so important to you - why didn't you apply to North Carolina State or Cincinnati? No you went to Holy Cross because of the education you'd receive.

6. You think the campus at Holy Cross has turned into a bunch of "soccer moms"? What do you want - a bunch of whores who are willing to drop academic standards and bend rules to make it to the Sweet Sixteen? You want Bob Huggins and lower admission requirements? You want someone risking turning your diploma into a punchline? You are such a dope. I bet right now the Jesuits up on the hill are ticked off that they didn't force you to take some classes in logic.

I read your complaining about the Holy Cross basketball program and the voice I hear is from Captain Quint talking about rich kids with soft hands from counting money all their lives who aren't smart enough to admit they are wrong. Simmons is wrong about Holy Cross but you won't hear him admit it. I fully expect Simmons to hit bottom and keep digging when it comes to this subject.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

The George W. Bush Interview

[A Large Regular as shocked when President Bush not only accepted our invitation to be interviewed but also agreed to answer questions about the Alberto Gonzalez situation. Here is the interview. Enjoy.]

ALR: Mr. President thank you so much for joining us. I must say that I'm surprised that you chose this venue to speak out on the Alberto Gonzalez situation.

GWB: Glad to be here Chris. I don't mind doin' some straight talkin' to people with open minds and are willing to listen to reason and facts. I do mind John Conyers or Pat Leahy thinkin' my people should be at their beck and call.

ALR: I'll be honest and say that until this new angle of some sort of Constitutional showdown - I really wasn't paying any attention to the firing of these eight federal prosecutors.

GWB: Well that's not surprising Chris. Most average Americans didn't pay much attention to the firing of the eight lawyers. In the first place most average people have no sympathy for lawyers in high position who are suddenly out of a job and secondly most average people know what a job review is all about. I mean it was eight out of ninety-three. Any company that has adopted Jack Welsh's management practices regularly sees 10% of the workforce culled to make room for people who could do a better job or at least do the job equally well. We did our reviews and we decided that these eight people were going to be let go to make room for eight new lawyers.

ALR: The way I understand it all the lawyers are appointed anyway - so they are in effect employees at will. You don't even have to have cause - you can replace people at will. Also the firing of lawyers has always been the prerogative of the President. Why is Congress making a big deal out of this?

GWB: Well its not Congress so much. It really comes down to two groups - those who want to try to use any excuse to embarrass this Administration and those who think that any government job should be for life. Neither of these people care what the truth is - they just want a fight. Well I for one am not going to back down to these people. Its not like we'd be risking losing their votes. [GWB chuckles]

ALR: Well speaking of votes - couldn't this confrontation turn into an issue for the 2008 elections?

GWB: I sure hope so. Listen Chris - we drag this out and what happens? I'll tell you. Suddenly the nation starts seeing more and more of Pat Leahy and John Conyers and our studies have shown that nothing turns off independent voters off more than smug, self-righteous blowhards. Can you think of anyone more smug and self-righteous than Pat Leahy? He's like a huge gift for the Republicans. Also - if these people are serious about a fight then they by default make it a campaign issue for the Democratic candidates too. Soon they will have to answer whether if elected they will keep all the current lawyers in place or if they will fire them and bring in their own people. If they say that they will bring in their own people - then the candidates have to say that this is just a political smokescreen by people who just want a fishing expedition. Can you imagine it if the candidates started saying that they would keep all these Republican lawyers on the job? [GWB chuckles again]

ALR: Aren't you afraid of a bad precedent being set here? What if Karl Rove and Harriet Miers are forced to give testimony?

GWB: There are two political realities that have to be faced here and calmer heads within the Democratic Party should realize what is at stake. This isn't a question about Executive Privilege - this is a question of privacy. If a Congressional committee can force people at the highest levels of government to reveal their secrets - open up their private diaries if you will - then what protections exist for the average citizen? Remember - no crime has been committed - but yet Rove and Miers are expected to answer to a Democrat inquisition? Monty Python parodies of the Democrats can't be far behind. And if the general perception becomes that the Democrats want to big brother your secrets while the Republicans want to big brother the secrets of terrorists - then I think we all know how the 2008 elections will turn out.

ALT: You said their was two political realities. The first is that this is really about privacy. What is the second?

GWB: Well I'm a two-term President with no Vice-President running for election in 2008. History says that the Democrats should have a clear edge because voters like change. That's the fact. However, it also looks like the House and Senate may return to the Republicans in 2008. How ironic if the tactics of having top aides testify is set now but really used by a Republican Congress against a new Democrat President? What will that blowhard Pat Leahy say then? Smart people know to be careful of what you wish for.

ALR: Thank you so much for joining us and shedding light on this subject.

GWB: My pleasure Chris.
And Now for the Rest of the Story

Eric has a great video of when John Wensink of the Bruins challenged the whole Minnesota North Stars bench to a fight. While what Wensink did made great theater - in the end it though was a huge tactical mistake that really cost his team.

Let me explain.

This happened back in the 1980-81 season. The coach of the North Stars Glen Sonmor knew three things about the dynamics between the Bruins and North Stars; 1) his team was intimidated by the Bruins (see the Wensink video for exhibit A), 2) it was most likely that the Bruins would be the North Star's first round playoff opponent and 3) the coach had to do something about his team being intimidated. The result was the game on February 26, 1981.

This was the game that set records for the most penalty minutes at the time. Before the game instead of drawing up plays on the chalkboard - the coach drew up fight assignments as in "you take this guy, you take this guy" etc. As soon as the puck was dropped - all the North Stars on the ice dropped their gloves and "it" was on.

The result of the donnybrook was a 180 in attitude. No longer were the North Stars intimidated by the Bruins (if anything it was now the Bruins who were intimidated). This change in attitude directly led to Minnesota sweeping the now somewhat timid Bruins in three games in the playoffs. The North Stars ended up making the Stanley Cup finals that year (losing to the great Islander team) and I would argue they made the finals because of the adjustment in attitude from that February 26th game.

And now you know the rest of the story.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Heh Heh

As Homer would say - its funny because its true.
Bill Simmons Should Just STFU

Bill Simmons has said some pretty uninformed, egotistical things in the past but this may just take the cake:
Holy Cross hoops: Honestly? I'm embarrassed. That was a disgrace. The Cross is now going on 30 years without an NCAA win. And you know what? I've had enough. Somebody needs to save our basketball program and it's going to have to be me. Details to come this spring.
Holy Cross has won the Patriot League four out of the last seven seasons and the Patriot League is exactly the level of competition and the kind of other schools Holy Cross should be associated with. There is great pride to be taken in not only being a first-rate academic institution first but also being able to field competitive teams at the same time. Neither UMass nor Boston College wants Holy Cross on their schedule because the chances of an upset by the Crusaders is too great.

So I'm sorry if Holy Cross didn't beat Southern Illinois so that you could brag to your West Coast buddies. I'm sorry that Holy Cross didn't cover the 8 point spread and probably cost you some money. However, the Crusaders had a much better showing against the Salukis than big time basketball school Virginia Tech (who lost to Southern Illinois by 15 vs the Crusaders 10).

If you were going to fix something - maybe you should have fixed the Jimmy Kimmel Show and helped make it funny. But no - you whiffed on that one didn't you? If you are going to fix something - fix your columns so that they aren't so predictable (you are becoming CHB Jr.) or so anchored in the past (ESPN should ban you from ever making another Karate Kid or 90210 reference). In short - Bill take the beam out of your own eye instead of complaining about a team of kids who just won their league championship by playing their asses off and making their dream of making the NCAA's come true.
Top 5 - Movies Written by Albert Hackett and Frances Goodrich

I watched The Thin Man again last night but before hand I read the details about the movie on Two things surprised me even though I've seen the movie half a dozen times already.

First - I never realized that was Cesar Romero playing the role of Chris Jorgenson. Never caught that before.

Second - I never realized just how good the husband and wife writing tandem of Albert Hackett and Frances Goodrich was. They have some all-time great movies to their credit - so much so that I decided to make them the subject of this mornings top 5 list. Without further ado - here are what I consider the top 5 movies with screen plays by Albert Hackett and Frances Goodrich.

1. It's a Wonderful Life
2. The Thin Man
3. Father of the Bride
4. The Diary of Ann Frank
5. After the Thin Man

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

New Rules

Groanin' Jock has some "new rules". I don't think they originated with him but they are pretty funny. Two favorites to pick out:
New Rule: If you need to shave and you still collect baseball cards, you're a dope. If you're a kid, the cards are keepsakes of your idols. If you're a grown man, they're pictures of men.
I have a friend who's married with kids and still collects baseball cards. Now I'm going to accuse him of being in the closet because he's collecting pictures of men (in hats - does that make him a fetishist as well?).
New Rule: The more complicated the Starbucks order, the bigger the asshole. If you walk into a Starbucks and order a "decaf grande half-soy, half-low fat, iced vanilla, double-shot, gingerbread cappuccino, extra dry, light ice, with one sweet-n'-Low, and one NutraSweet," ooh, you're a huge asshole.
There's no denying the truth or the snazzy of that new rule.
Heh Heh

Perhaps the funniest phrase I have heard in a long time goes along with this picture.

"Angry Furries, with their personal electronic devices and tambourines."

Too bad its too long a phrase to use as a band name or a fantasy baseball name.

Heh heh - I'm still chuckling about it. Nothing says serious polital discussion like a man dressed up as an animal (except maybe giant paper mache heads).
Curt Schilling

Curt Schilling has a very interesting blog called 38Pitches.

In his last Q&A session Schilling mentions two subjects I'd like to touch on.

First Schilling says that he doesn't consider himself a Hall of Fame Player. I've said before that if Schilling gets two a combined 30 wins over the next two seasons that he should get into the Hall of Fame. Schilling would be hard-pressed to finish his career in the top 50 in wins but he's already over 3,000 strikeouts (3,015 to be exact) and his post-season heroics for two championship teams teams (one from each coast) should help pave the way to Cooperstown.

However, if Schilling keeps coming out and saying that he's not a Hall of Fame player - then he gives the sportswriters who don't like him the perfect out for not voting for him. "Hey Curt Schilling himself said he doesn't belong in the Hall of Fame" will be the rallying mantra of those who don't like Curt.

Maybe more surprising (and troubling to me at least) was the fact that Schilling was asked to name the best players by position in baseball today and he was loyal to Jason Varitek and chose him as the catcher and he also picked David Ortiz as DH (no surprise there). But for left field Schilling choose Jason Bay of the Pirates over teammate Manny Ramirez. What does Schilling have against Manny who may be a distraction but whose bat has won many a game for the Red Sox and many for Schilling? (Remember it was Manny who was named MVP for the 2004 World Series - hitting .412 with a 1.088 OPS in the October classic.) has Bay's 162 game averages as the following:

Bay - .292 BA / 33 HR / 105 RBI / .936 OPS has Manny's 162 game averages as:

Manny - .314 BA / 42 HR / 135 RBI / 1.011 OPS

Manny is clearly the better hitter. In real production - the past three years Manny has out homered Bay (113 to 93) and has 83 more RBI in that span (as well as better BA, OBP, SLG and OPS numbers). Sure Bay is a better defender and base-runner but it just bothers me that Schilling skipped over the teammate whose bat is central to any success the Red Sox have had or will have.
Happy Birthday to Bobby Orr

Today is Bobby Orr's 59th birthday and I'd like to extend my well wishes to one of the three greatest hockey players of all-time and one the the three greatest athletes to ever play in Boston.

I've never met Mr. Orr but a friend tells this story of meeting Bobby Orr in the men's room of a charity golf event. My friend happens to stand at the urinal next to the one Orr is using.

My friend: "Hey Bobby Orr!"

Orr: "That's me."

My friend" "I always thought you'd be bigger."

Orr [not missing a beat - looks down and smiles]: "I'm big where it counts."

Happy birthday number 4.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Top 5 - Movies that Were as Good or Better then the Book

It is very rare for a movie to be as good as the book or better than the book they were based on. Here are my top 5 for movies that were able to turn this trick.

1. The Godfather
2. To Kill a Mockingbird
3. The Dead Zone
4. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
5. (tie) LA Confidential (tie) Thank You for Smoking

Honorable mention goes to The Silence of the Lambs.

I almost put The Quiet Man with John Wayne on the list but that would have been a bit of a stretch since it was based on a short story and not a novel.

To me the hallmark of a movie that equals or surpassed the book is the fact that you can no longer read the book without picturing the actor from the movie. Read The Godfather and it is impossible not to picture Brando as Don Corleone. Ditto Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch and all the other main characters for the rest of the movies on the list.
Is She or Isn't She?

There are reports out there that Emma Watson won't be back as Hermione Granger for the sixth and seventh Harry Potter movies.

Meanwhile there are also reports refuting the earlier reports.

These are the types of stories fans of Harry Potter have to live with with no book or movie for over a year.
Thank You For Smoking

I recently read Christopher Buckley's Thank You for Smoking: A Novel and I liked it so much that I ordered the movie version of the book via Netflix. Last night I finally got around to watching the movie and was pleasantly surprised to find that in my opinion the movie was even better than the book (a very rare thing indeed).

The book was an enjoyable quick read with lots of wit and insight into the K Street world of lobbyists. However, the plot twists surrounding Nick Naylor's kidnapping and attempted murder make the book more of a funny fantasy than anything else.

The movie focused more on Nick as a lobbyist and on his relationship with his son who lives with Nick's divorced wife. This shifting of focus makes all the difference in the world and like I said above - as good as the book was - the movie was better.

One interesting note - the book is written by Christopher Buckley who is the son of the famous William F. Buckley while the movie was directed by and the script was written by Jason Reitman who is the son of the famous director / producer Ivan Reitman (Stripes, Animal House, etc.). It just nice to see sons of famous men making marks of their own.

Donald Was Right

It turns out that Joe Wilson was the first one to "out" his own wife Valerie Plame and he did it to enhance his won credibility.
Given the chronology and Mr. Armitage’s remarks, it seems quite obvious Mr. Wilson outed his wife when he spoke to the Senate Democratic Policy Committee and then to the subsequent reporters at the Times, the Post and elsewhere, when he was hawking his story about his trip to Niger.

Wilson’s motivation for bringing up his wife would have been exactly as Armitage suggested to Woodward. Wilson told the panelists and reporters about Plame’s work at the CIA to give his radically new and dangerous story more credibility.

It’s highly probable Wilson used his wife’s position as a WMD analyst at the CIA to bolster his outrageous (and we now know fallacious) claims against a then popular President in a time of war.
Hat tip to The Corner for the link and hats off to frequent ALR visitor Donald who from the very beginning said it would turn out that Wilson was the one who originally "outed" his wife. Kudos Donald for being proved right.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Who are Three People who Have Never Been in My Kitchen?

A three way tie on Jeopardy? Yeah all three won $16,000 and the rematch will be on Monday.

Locks of Love

This is a very nice gesture by Nick Swisher. However, I sometimes grow skeptical when charitable causes are sponsored by corporations (in this case Pantene).

My wife and daughters regularly grow out their hair and then donate it to Locks of Love. It's a very worthy cause.

Myself? I can't grow out my hair because my hair is so curly that if I did it would end up as an afro.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Top 5 - Green Super-Heroes

In honor of St. Patrick's Day - here is my list of the top green super-heroes.

1. Green Lantern
2. The Hulk
3. Green Arrow
4. Green Hornet
5. (tie) She-Hulk (tie) Martian Manhunter (from Justice League)

Honorable mention - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Green Power Ranger (the Red one is the one who does porn movies now). For villians you'd have the Green Goblin and the Riddler.

RetroCrush did a list last year but it was pretty lame (except for their excuse of why they left off the Hulk).
What No Pat Patriot?

Here's a list of the top 10 Pat's in honor of St. Patrick's Day. I would have given Pat Tillman better than honorable mention.

I also would have at least mentioned Pat McGroin.
Erik Estrada

Today is Erik Estrada's 58th birthday. Just as an example of how watered down our sense of quality is these days - on April 19th, 2007 Erik Estrada will get his very own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. That's the equivalent of Banannarama getting into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
March Madness - Day One

I hesitate to write about day one of March Madness because nobody likes listening to or in this case reading about bad beats. Just like in poker where nobody really cares that your aces were cracked by some donkey holding jack, nine offsuit - does anyone really care that you decided that this will be the year that you take all the underdogs just to see almost all the favorites cover? Nobody cares that your two teams in knock-out pools are already out and the tournament is just 24-hours old. Nobody cares that you really liked the over (123) in the Old Dominion - Butler game only to see neither team score 20 points in the first half. Nobody cares that you really liked Vanderbilt but because you hesitated and the game started 15 minutes early - you couldn't get it in. Nobody cares that you thought the Duke game would be close but you felt that there was no way Duke would lose so that you teased them down from 6 points down to 2. Nobody really cares to listen about these things. People are only really concerned with their own picks.

That won't stop millions of people from telling anyone who will listen their first day NCAA bad beat stories. Just you wait. How many people will be telling you about how Duke ruined their bracket? (I actually had Duke losing to Pittsburgh in the next round - so my brackets are OK.)

That's the dirty little secret about the NCAA men's basketball tournament. It really isn't about who wins except for the final game or Cinderella stories like George Mason last year. It's about who loses and how they screwed up your brackets or how they ruined your parlay bet. Even the Cinderella stories are drown out by stories by people who had their brackets busted because they had the team Cinderella beat making the Final Four.

Maybe that's the secret to the success of the popularity of March Madness - misery loves company.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Happy Anniversary to Phi Sigma Kappa

On this date in 1873 - Phi Sigma Kappa was founded at what is now the University of Massachusetts. I have many fond memeories from my days at Phi Sig (and many fuzzy memories as well).
Who Will Be the Worst Player in MLB this Year?

This column raises and interesting question.

I'm going to have to give the question some consideration before I post my answer (although Tim Marchman does come up with very legitimate contenders).
Pi Day and April Fools

Yesterday was Pi Day (3/14 - get it?) and April 1st is fast approaching (aka April Fools day) and the two events reminded me of something funny. One of the greatest April fools pranks of all-time involved Pi:
#7: Alabama Changes the Value of Pi
The April 1998 issue of the New Mexicans for Science and Reason newsletter contained an article claiming that the Alabama state legislature had voted to change the value of the mathematical constant pi from 3.14159 to the 'Biblical value' of 3.0. Before long the article had made its way onto the internet, and then it rapidly made its way around the world, forwarded by people in their email. It only became apparent how far the article had spread when the Alabama legislature began receiving hundreds of calls from people protesting the legislation. The original article, which was intended as a parody of legislative attempts to circumscribe the teaching of evolution, was written by a physicist named Mark Boslough.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Carl Spackler Makes His March Madness Picks

ALR is lucky to have a celebrated guest today to make his NCAA men's basketball picks. Carl Spackler may be the most famous greens keeper in all the world and we are very glad that he agreed to join us today.

CS: Happy to be here.

ALR: First off - let me ask you which are your upset games, your Cinderella teams?

CS: I have Holy Cross as my Cinderella story this year. They come outta nowhere (well actually Worcester) to win against number 4 seed Southern Illinois. You know that Salukis is Comanche Indian for "varmit poontang" and the only good varmit poontang is a dead varmit poontang. Also I have number 6 seed Notre Dame making the Great Eight which is a bit of a Cinderella story as well.

ALR: I think this might be best if we take it bracket by bracket. How do you view the Midwest bracket?

CS: Well like I just said - I see Notre Dame making the Great Eight by beating Wisconsin whose team mascot is the Badger which is a varmit. In order for Notre Dame to beat Wisconsin they have to know and understand their enemy which in this case is a varmit. And a badger varmint will never quit - ever. They're like the Viet Cong - Varmint Cong. So Notre Dame will have to fall back on superior intelligence and superior firepower. And that's all she wrote. However, Notre Dame won't have superior firepower to take out both Wisconsin and Florida - so Florida wins the bracket.

ALR: What about the West bracket?

CS: I have this bracket coming down to Kansas and Pittsburgh with Kansas moving on to the Final Four. Pittsburgh beats UCLA because Pittsburgh can swim in either a pool or a pond but UCLA is a pampered team that needs a heated pool with no deep end to feel comfortable.

ALR: And the East?

CS: I have number 1 seed North Carolina losing to Texas and Texas losing to number 2 seed Georgetown. Did you known that "gunga galunga" is Tibetan for "what rocks!" and that "hoya" is Latin for "what rocks!" That can't be just coincidence.

ALR: And that leaves the South bracket.

CS: Oh I have Ohio State rolling through this bracket but as an upset I do have Nevada beating second seed Memphis.

ALR So that gives us a Final Four of Florida, Kansas, Georgetown and Ohio State. Who do you see winning it all?

CS: Well you may see it differently but then again elevators smell different to midgets but I have Ohio State winning it all this year. I have to laugh, because I've outsmarted even myself with these picks. My enemy, my foe, is a bracket and in order to conquer the bracket, I had to learn to think like a bracket. And, whenever possible, to look like one. And I think I've succeeded.

ALR: Thank you so much for your time.

CS: In the immortal words of Jean Paul Sartre, 'Au revoir, Large Regular'.
Top 5 - Michael Caine Movies

Today is Michael Caine's 74th birthday. Here are what I consider his top 5 movies.

1. Alfie
2. Hannah and Her Sisters
3. The Cider House Rules
4. The Fourth Protocol
5. (tie) The Man Who Would Be King (tie) Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (tie) Get Carter (1971)
Happy Steak and BJ Day

A much better holiday than Valentines's Day.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Two Questions

I have two questions that came up recently and I thought I'd ask them to the readers here.

On Friday night it came up in discussion about retiring player numbers in college basketball. My fried Brian was adamant that it is prohibited in college basketball (and football too according to Brian) to retire a player's number. I had never heard this before and though I'd love to take what Brian says at face value - I'd love to hear a confirmation (or refutation) from the readers here.

Secondly - there's been a debate going for some time among some of my friends. My friend Tim told us that US Postal trucks cannot go in reverse because of liability issues. We even confirmed this with a mailman doing his route. However, another friend is a supervisor at the Post Office and he says he never heard of such a thing. Does anyone have the definitive answer - can mail truck go in reverse? (I know that physically they can - the question is whether the driver is allowed to).

Thanks in advance. I know I could Google the answers but I thought this could be more interesting.
Javy Lopez

Things that make you go "Hmmmmmm".

In 2003 at age 32 Javy Lopez was on top of the world. That season he set career highs in batting average (.328), OBP (.378), SLG (.687 - more than 150 points better than his second best season) and HR (43 - 9 more than the only other time he topped 30 HR back when he was 27).

2003 was also a contract year for Lopez who leveraged his career high performances to get a 3-year $22.5 million contract from the Orioles. In 2004, though, Lopez crashed back to earth - hitting just 23 HR in 122 more at bats than he had in 2003. His HR/AB rate in 2003 was 1 HR per 10.6 AB. Prior to 2003 his HR/AB rate was 1 HR every 21.8 AB. After 2003 Lopez's HR/AB rate was 1 HR every 28.6 AB. One could say that Lopez's (cough) performance was really enhanced (cough) back in that 2003 season.

Now it looks like the end of the road for Javy Lopez - he was released by the Rockies on Monday.
Edward "Butch" O'Hare

(Today would have been Butch O'Hare's 93rd birthday. Here is something I had posted in the past on Medal of Honor Winner O'Hare.)

Edward "Butch" O'Hare became a flying legend when he almost single handedly saved the USS Lexington from being destroyed by Japanese bombers. Here's how described the action:
O'Hare and his wingman spotted the V formation of bombers first and dived to try to head them off. The other F4F pilots were too far away to reach most of the enemy planes before they released their bombs. As if this weren't bad enough, O'Hare's wingman discovered his guns were jammed. He was forced to turn away. Butch O'Hare stood alone between the Lexington and the bombers.

O'Hare didn't hesitate. Full throttle, he roared into the enemy formation. While tracers from the concentrated fire of the nine bombers streaked around him, he took careful aim at the starboard engine of the last plane in the V and squeezed his trigger. Slugs from the Wildcats six .50-caliber guns ripped into the Japanese bomber's wing and the engine literally jumped out of its mountings. The bomber spun crazily toward the sea as O'Hare's guns tore up another enemy plane. Then he ducked to the other side of the formation and smashed the port engine of the last Japanese plane there.

One by one he attacked the oncoming bombers until five had been downed. Commander Thach later reported that at one point he saw three of the bombers falling in flames at the same time. By now Thach and the other pilots had joined the fight. This was lucky because O'Hare was out of ammunition.
For his heroic actions, O'Hare was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. In 1943 O'Hare died in combat as the result of what may or may not have been friendly fire.

Some other points of interest about Edward "Butch" O'Hare:

- Graduated from Naval Academy at Annapolis.
- His father was a successful businessman who was gunned down by Al Capone
- In 1949 Orchard Field airport in Chicago was renamed after O'Hare (O'Hare International Airport)
- From the airport website:
In his Congressional Medal of Honor winning flight to save the U.S.S. Lexington, Butch O'Hare flew an F4F-3 Wildcat. The Wildcat was an extremely basic flying machine - it had hand-cranked landing gear made primarily of bicycle chains and sprockets, manually-charged guns, vacuum-powered wing flaps, a simple electrical system, and no hydraulics. Despite its simple design, it was a tough plane with a high degree of pilot survivability in crashes. The Wildcat earned for the Grumman Aircraft Factory, where it was built, the nickname "The Iron Works."

An original F4F-3 Wildcat was recovered from Lake Michigan by the United States Navy and donated to the Air Classics Museum. The plane was restored to replicate the one flown by Butch O'Hare. Sponsored by the City of Chicago and McDonald's Corporation, the recovered F4F-3 Wildcat is exhibited in Terminal Two at the West end of the ticketing lobby to honor the extraordinarily heroic feats of O'Hare International Airport's namesake.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Odds to win 2007 NCAA Men's Basketball Championship

Here are the odds to win the 2007 NCAA Men's Basketball Championship

Florida 7/2
Kansas 4/1
North Carolina 5/1
Ohio State 6/1
Georgetown 8/1
UCLA 9/1
Texas A&M 10/1
Texas 12/1
Wisconsin 15/1
Maryland 25/1
Pittsburgh 25/1
Memphis 30/1
Butler 35/1
Washington State 35/1
Arizona 40/1
Louisville 40/1
Oregon 40/1
Southern Illinois 40/1
Virginia Tech 45/1
Duke 50/1
Georgia Tech 70/1
Indiana 70/1
Nevada 70/1
USC 70/1
Villanova 70/1
Virginia 75/1
Boston College 80/1
Marquette 80/1
Tennessee 80/1
Xavier 80/1
Creighton 100/1
Kentucky 100/1
Notre Dame 100/1
Michigan State 100/1
UNLV 100/1
Vanderbilt 100/1
Texas Tech 125/1
BYU 150/1
Gonzaga 150/1
Arkansas 200/1
Illinois 200/1
Purdue 200/1
Stanford 200/1

Field (Any Other Team) 80/1
Mike Freeman Interview

The Big Lead has a very interesting interview with sports journalist Mike Freeman. The interview covers the gambit of work ethics of sports writers, the Internet being the death knell of big time sports sections, myopia at ESPN and a host of other subjects including Brady Quinn:
As for Brady Quinn, he is by far the most overrated quarterback prospect in perhaps the last 10 to 15 years. I cannot believe the nonsense some in the media say about the guy. I’ve seen most of his big games and he is just not very impressive against better competition. A lot of NFL writers are in love with his size and his whiteness. I look at him and see Kerry Collins. Not a bad player but both possess what one scout called “shrinking violet syndrome.” In big games, Quinn was non-existent. He never led his team to a huge win against a formidable opponent. If I was an NFL team, that would scare me. But then again what do I know. I love the show “Cold Pizza.”
I would counter that the come-back win at Michigan State in the driving rain was a big-time win but I would also concede that everyone knew LSU was going to rip ND and Brady Quinn in the Sugar Bowl this year. Damn you Mike Freeman - now every time I see Brady Quinn the thought of Kerry Collins will pop in my head (although a Kerry Collins who could handle his drinks wouldn't have been a bad first round pick).
Norman Chad Says New DirectTV / MLB Deal - No Big Deal

And I have to agree with him. People can always purchase's package and watch their teams over the web if they want. MLB has maximized profits for their Extra-Innings offering and their Internet offering. Its good business.

What would be troubling to me is if the DirectTV deal was somehow related to a quid pro quo purchase of the Atlanta Braves. Otherwise Norman Chad is correct (as usual) in his appraisal of the situation.
Clarence Thomas at Holy Cross

Very nice interview of Justice Thomas regarding his days as a student at Holy Cross:
You went to Yale later on. Would you have wanted to do your undergraduate degree there?
No. No, I belonged at a school like Holy Cross. In fact, in today's world, I probably belonged at a place like the University of Georgia. Holy Cross was perfect for me at that time. I had enough on my platter.

Do you feel a sense of fraternity with the people you went to school with?
In a distant way, I absolutely do. We don't pal around. I absolutely admire Ted Wells and he and I are quite different. He's one of the finest lawyers in the United States. But you know what? It's not unpredictable. It's something that could have been predicted. Think of the people who took chances on him.

There was a wonderful fraternity—The Cross. When you were a crusader, you looked after each other—no matter where you were. That doesn't mean they would always be in a position to do you a favor. But they were there, just as a friend. I've never been turned away by a graduate of The Cross.

How did you find your experience at Yale?
Let me put it this way: It wasn't the kind of environment Holy Cross was and I would not have done well there. I don't fit in there. It wasn't about them. I just didn't fit. I don't fit in an orchestra. I don't care how great the orchestra is. It's nothing against Yale. I'm extraordinarily pleased that through serendipity or, I like to think, almost divine providence, I wound up at Holy Cross.
I've long wondered about Justice Thomas' experienes as an undergrad at Holy Cross. I'm not going to say that he enjoyed his time at Holy Cross but it does sound that he is very grateful for those years.

HT Baseball Crank
Top 5 - Jame Taylor Songs

Today is James Taylor's 59th birthday. In his honor - here are what I consider his top 5 songs.

1. Fire and Rain
2. Mexico
3. Copperline
4. Carolina in My Mind
5. (tie) Up On the Roof (tie) Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight

I'm wracking my brain to come up with another person who has done this but I think James Taylor may be the only person to guest appear on both The Simpson's and South Park. That feat is worth several Grammy's.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Holy Cross Goes Dancing

Holy Cross beat Bucknell 74-66 on Friday night to win the Patriot League championship and the automatic bid to the NCAA tournament that goes with it. It was a bumpy ride to get the championship though.

The Bucknell Bison's stormed out of the gate taking a 9-4 lead but behind the play of Patriot League MVP Keith Simmons and senior point guard Torey Thomas the Crusaders came back and with 5 minutes to go in the half Holy Cross had built and 11-point 29-18 lead which they were able to maintain for a 35-22 halftime score.

Two things to mention about halftime. First I have to ask if I was alone in wondering what the deal was with the three Holy Cross students dressed as chickens? Secondly - I know I wasn't alone in wondering if the old man who passed out and needed medical attention was a bad omen for Holy Cross for the second half of the game. The old guy looked clearly embarrassed as he was taken out of the Hart Center on a stretcher. Would Holy Cross be likewise embarrassed in the second half?

Holy Cross fans are similar to Red Sox fans who usually expect the worst (most Holy Cross fans are in fact also Red Sox fans). The fans knew that in the January game between these two teams Holy Cross built up a double digit lead only to squander it but were luckily able to hold on for a 3-point victory.

The Crusaders tried to dispel this pessimism by coming out strong in the second half to open an 18-point lead 41-23 by the 18:00 mark. The disquiet was palpable, however, when Bucknell was able to cut the lead to less than double digits at 46-38 with 12 and a half minutes to go in the second half.

Bucknell was actually able to later tie the game with just under 6 minutes remaining and the Holy Cross fans were clearly uneasy. Keith Simmons was not to be denied though and he rallied the Crusaders back into control of the game. Simmons (23 points) and Thomas (28 points) were just too much for the Bisons to handle. The duo accounted for almost 70% of the Crusader scoring whereas Bucknell relied upon a more balanced attack with 4 players reaching double digits in points.

It must be said that the fans storming the court at the end has to be one of the most special things in all of sports and one of the reasons why college sports are so great. Holy Cross may be going into the tournament as a 16 seed but they will be going to the dance where anything can happen. If Keith Simmons and Torey Thomas (not to mention center Tim Clifford) bring their A games - anything is possible.

Go Holy Cross!

Friday, March 09, 2007

Today's Must Read

Jeff Jacobs pays homage to Alan Greenberg who died earlier this week.

I did not know Alan Greenberg and that seems to be entirely my loss.

My deepest condolences to the Greenberg family.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Ron Borges

Michael Gee has some good observations on the Ron Borges situation. I like his analogy of the Internet to a power tool that is dangerous to those who don't know how to use it.

Meanwhile Jessica Heslam of the Boston Herald details another instance where Borges was fast and loose with the words already in print by another writer. It should be pointed out that chances are that by the time Ron Borges' two month suspension is up - that there will be a number of instances where the case for plagiarism probably can be made. The Globe will probably have no option but to fire Borges when all is said and done.

Along the same lines - someone on a message board I frequent made the claim that Borges was fired in the 1990's from The Ring Magazine family of publications because he was turning in his Globe boxing columns verbatim for publication to his boxing editors at the magazines. My guess is that Borges has left a trail of ethically challenged shortcuts along the way and that will be his undoing.
Top 200 Rock Albums - My Ass!

Not sure which word best describes the recent list of the Definitive 200 rock albums that was developed by the National Association of Recording Merchandisers (NARM) and put out by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Words that immediately spring to my mind after looking at the list include - abomination, absurd, ridiculous, insane - but maybe the phrase "are you f*cking kidding me?" expresses the sentiment best.

I won't take the time to deconstruct the entire list but just to show you how ridiculous the list is - I will quickly list 20 albums they include that I say don't belong on a rock and roll list and 20 albums these "experts" somehow overlooked.

Just some of the albums that don't belong on a rock and roll list (in no particular order):

- Luther Vandross - Never Too Much
- Andrea Bocelli - Andrea
- Willie Nelson - Stardust
- Anita Baker - Rythm of Love
- Barbara Streisand - A Star is Born
- Anita Baker - Rapture
- Sade – Diamond Life
- Original Cast – Phantom of the Opera Highlights
- Avril Lavigne - Let Go
- George Michael - Faith
- Toni Braxton - Toni Braxton
- Willie Nelson - Red Headed Stranger (I like Willie but this ain't the top country albums and he gets 2 while Creedence is shut out?)
- Soundtrack - Footloose
- Natalie Cole - Unforgettable with Love Natalie Cole (her dad doesn't make the list but she does?)
- ENYA – Day Without Rain
- Soundtrack - O Brother Where Art Thou?
- Christina Aguilera – Christina Aguilera (whoo-er)
- Soundtrack – Top Gun
- Kenny G – Breathless (Kenny freakin' G?)
- Soundtrack – Titanic (Celine Dion was not a bigger influence on Rock and Roll than Joey Ramone)

Here are 20 ablums that should have made the list (in no particular order)

- Bob Seger - Against the Wind
- Bob Seger - Live Bullet
- Bob Seger - Nine tonight
- Bruce Springsteen - Greetings from Asbury Park
- Bruce Springsteen - The River
- Bruce Springsteen - Darkness on the Edge of Town
- The Who - Tommy
- Soundtrack - Tommy
- Creedence Clearwater Revival - Cosmo's Factory
- The Band - The Band
- Elvis Costello - This Year's Model
- Elvis Costello - My Aim Is True
- Dire Straits - Dire Straits
- Dire Straits - Making Movies
- The Ramones - The Ramones
- The Clash - The Clash
- The Smiths - The Queen Is Dead
- Van Morrison - Astral Weeks
- The Stone Roses - The Stone Roses
- Peter Gabriel - So

I could go on and on. For instance - I think Peter Frampton's Frampton Comes Alive is still the biggest selling live album of all-time yet that did not make the list. My guess is these folks had a bunch of CD's in overstock and they thought if they put them on the Top 200 list that they could sell some extra copies. Having the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame go along with this scam is disgusting though. It's like Topps Trading cards getting the Baseball Hall of Fame name Mike Greenwell one of the top 200 players of the 20th century just because they were overstocked in his card.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Captain Mark Leary

Instapundit had a link to an piece by the lead singer of the band Five for Fighting. singer John Ondrasik went down to Guantanamo Bay to play for the troops and to talk hockey for Sports Illustrated. In the SI piece Ondrasik mentions that perhaps the biggest hockey fan down there is the base commander - Captain Mark O'Leary.

I thought that name rang a bell - so I did some digging and yes - the reason I know that name is because Captain O'Leary is a Worcester native. He went to college at Clark and later got a Masters in Public Administration from UMass, Amherst. Given that he has a decent slapshot - I'm willing to bet he played some outdoor hockey on the pond in Crystal Park near Clark (or maybe at Elm Park).

It is interesting to note that since the US has no ambassador or diplomatic mission in Cuba that Captain O'Leary's regular informal meetings with his military counterpart at the fence line represents the highest current level of political interaction between the US and Cuba and given the health of Fidel Castro this is saying a lot.

Not bad for a Worcester kid.
Another Libby Thought

This column by Byron York basically suggests that Scooter Libby was pronounced guilty because the jury found Tim Russert more believable than Libby.
What convinced jurors to convict Libby, apparently, was the credibility of a single prosecution witness, NBC’s Tim Russert. “I thought he was very credible,” Collins said of Russert. “A lot of people thought he was very credible.” And Russert was the key in more ways than one. It was his phone conversation with FBI agent Jack Eckenrode in November 2003 that let prosecutors know there was a conflict between his story and Libby’s, thus turning the CIA-leak investigation into a perjury probe. And it was his testimony—that he did not tell Libby about Valerie Plame Wilson, as Libby told the grand jury—that was the fatal blow to Libby’s defense.

Libby had claimed that Russert told him about Mrs. Wilson and that, even though he, Libby, had learned about her earlier, he had forgotten about her in the crush of events in July 2003, and thus was surprised, as if hearing it for the first time, when Russert mentioned it to him. Russert denied that, and his testimony simply overwhelmed Libby’s version of events.
If true - this is sad. I'm sorry but any credibility Russert had with me went out the window when I found out that he had the syrupy memoir Big Russ and Me - a book about Russert's relationship with his father - ghostwritten by the same guy who did Iaccoca's "autobiography". The book is purposely misleading - making you think this was Russert's own tribute to his dad. We can't even trust Russert's reminiscence about his own father but the jury was made to believe his memory regarding Joseph Wilson and Valerie Plame? Sorry - I'm not buying that and now a man might be going to jail because Russert is more accomplished at "appearing" believable.
Top 5 - J. Geils Band Songs

Today is Peter Wolf's 61st birthday. In his honor here are what I consider the top songs from the J. Geils band.

1. (Ain't Nothin' But a) Houseparty
2. Must Have Got Lost
3. Hard Drivin' Man
4. Detroit Breakdown
5. (tie) Whammer Jammer (tie) Give It To Me

Of course you have to have the live versions of these songs because J. Geils was one of thse bands that were just so much better live than in the studio. And if you think Centerfold or Freeze Frame should be on the list - I say that you really don't know the J. Geils Band. It also goes without saying that the J. Geils band was the best band ever out of Worcester.

As an aside - when J. Geils was playing at the Centrum on New Year's Eve - there was no better place to be on the planet.
Scooter Libby

So Scooter Libby was basically found guilty. Lots of people on the Left are celebrating but this is hardly the end. My guess is that Libby gets off either via a new trial or via appeal and that this never comes down to Libby going to jail or getting a Presidential pardon.

A big deal is being made of the verdict today but you can be sure that if and when Libby gets off - that the story will be buried by the media.
Amnesty for Baseball Cheats?

Gene Wojciechowski floats an interesting idea in his latest column - one-time amnesty for steroids cheats.
Amnesty. That's what I'm proposing. A one-time, get-out-of-MLB-jail card if you use or used steroids, HGH, or assorted other performance-enhancing substances. Turn in your syringes now and we'll try to pretend the last 10-20 years of baseball through better medicine didn't leave permanent needle marks on the game.

I haven't worked out all the specifics yet. But you can come clean now, or eventually the Feds, Congress, the media, a player or former player with a guilt complex, a chatty doctor or pharmacist, or an entourage member will do it for you. It's like the esteemed Jerome Holtzman (Baseball Hall of Fame, Class of 1989, MLB historian) told me the other day: "People are going to find out. There isn't anybody who is taking steroids that won't be discovered."
I don't think it would work because there is no incentive for recently retired players to come clean. Consider that if Rafael Palmeiro retired a year earlier that he'd still be wagging his finger. It is an interesting idea to consider though.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

AL East Comparison

Today I'll be taking a look at the three contenders for the AL East title (Yankees, Red Sox and Blue Jays) and see how they match up position-wise. On another day - I'll do a comparison of their pitching.

I'm going to give teams a 3 if they have best player at a position, a 2 if they have the second best player and a 1 if they have the third best player. At the end - I'll add up the totals and see which team comes out on top. Note: there will probably be some ties which I'll handle as I see fit.

Catcher: Jorge Posada is coming off a great year (23 HR 93 RBI) and is in his contract year but is going to be 36-years old this season. Jason Varitek is a year younger than Posada but is coming off an awful year and many Red Sox fans are afraid that he's over the hill. Greg Zaun is actually the oldest of the bunch and he's known as a back-up not as a starter. Overall I think Varitek will have a bounceback year but his intangibles behind the plate aren't enough to overtake Posada for the top spot.

Yankees - 3; Red Sox - 2; Blue Jays - 1

1st Base: Toronto has Lyle Overbay who is a solid hitter (.312 BA / 22 HR / 93 RBI). The Red Sox have K-Y - Kevin Youkilis who is also a solid hitter but to a lesser degree than Overbay (Youkilis hit .279 with a .381 OBP in 2006). The Yankees have a three-headed monster going at first with Doug Mientkiewicz, Andy Phillips and Josh Phelps battling for the starting job. The ranking here is pretty clear.

Blue Jays - 3; Red Sox - 2; Yankees - 1

2nd Base: The Red Sox are starting rookie Dustin Pedroia. The Yankees are starting 25-year old future batting champion Robinson Cano at 2nd. The Blue Jays are also starting a 25-year old 2nd baseman in Aaron Hill. The rankings at 2nd are also pretty clear-cut.

Yankees - 3; Blue Jays - 2; Red Sox - 1

Shortstop: Many people thought that Derek Jeter should have been the MVP last year (not me though). Julio Lugo should be a huge addition to the Red Sox but he's not in Jeter's class. Meanwhile it looks like Toronto is serious about starting Royce Clayton. Maybe the easiest rankings yet.

Yankees - 3; Red Sox -2; Blue Jays - 1

3rd Base: Third base is tougher to guage than you may think. Sure Alex Rodriguez is a great player and a future Hall of Famer but Troy Glaus may have more power at 3rd and Mike Lowell may be the better glove at 3rd. I think A-Rod gets the nod as the best 3rd baseman of the bunch but I'm going to call it a tie between Glaus (who is also a very good glove) and Lowell based mostly on Glaus's injury history. If it was guaranteed that Glaus would reach 500 AB this year - then I would gve him the nod for second place.

Yankees - 3; Blue Jays - 1.5; Red Sox - 1.5

Left Field: Manny Ramirez is a Hall of Famer and people don't appreciate how well he defends the Green Monster when at home in Fenway. Hideki Matsui may be a better defender but he's not close to Manny's power with the bat. Reed Johnson will be 31-years old this year and it looks like he'll never hit 20 HR in a season.

Red Sox - 3; Yankees - 2; Blue Jays - 1

Center Field: Vernon Wells is among the elite center fielders in baseball. Yankee Stadium was made for Johnny Damon's lefty swing. Coco Crisp has a lot of questions facing him this season after an injury plagued 2006.

Blue Jays - 3; Yankees - 2; Red Sox - 1

Right Field: For all the hype of Bobby Abreu as a hitter - he still only hit 15 HR last year even though he played his home games in two very lefty friendly hitters parks. Alex Rios also didn't manage 20 HR last year (just 17) for Toronto. JD Drew did hit 20 HR last year even though he played half his games in the cavernous Chavez Ravine. My gut tells me to give the edge to Drew in this category because he may be the best all-around player but instead I'm going to call it a draw and award 2 points to each player.

Red Sox - 2; Yankees - 2; Blue Jays - 2

DH: David Ortiz is the clear leader here but I think Jason Giambi and Frank Thomas are a draw.

Red Sox - 3; Yankees - 1.5; Blue Jays - 1.5

So the totals for the position starters are:

Yankees - 20.5 points
Red Sox - 17.5 points
Blue Jays - 16 points

You can see how closely the talent matches up for these three teams. The position players are so close that it will probably come down to pitching which we will look at shortly.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Dick Cheney's Blood Clot

The news that Dick Cheney has a blood clot in his leg has been greeted in some circles with a certain amount morbid glee. On some Internet chat boards people are actively rooting for the clot. These people should be careful for what they wish for.

If for whatever reason - Dick Cheney had to step down as Vice President - then the replacement immediately becomes the front-runner for election in 2008.

If Cheney stepped down and Condoleeza Rice took his place - then she would immediately shoot to the top of the polls. Hillary would lose a good deal of her base (women and blacks) to Condoleeza and Barack Obama's resume would pale in comparison to Rice's accomplishments.

Can you imagine the boost Rudy Giuliani or Mitt Romney would get if Bush named them to be VP for the rest of the term?

I've said it before that things are getting better in Iraq and if things continue to improve by 2008 - then the Democrats are going to have to find a new campaign topic to base their stump speeches on. If things keep getting better - then whoever takes Cheney's spot would be in position to glom on to all the glory.

Rabid Democrats should pray that Cheney finishes the term as VP.
Carl Hiaasen is the Man

Hiaasen takes dead aim at the media orgy surrounding Anna Nicole Smith's death:
Scoff, if you will, at the hyperventilating TV coverage of the Smith case. You think it's easy trying to make Anna Nicole sound important enough to justify three minutes and twenty seconds of air time? That's a tough job, folks.

Here you've got this deceased person who had no discernible talent whatsoever, a pitiable and often incoherent soul who perished in a shabby and unoriginal way.

Yet, day after day, you must with all seriousness face the cameras and present Smith's demise (and its messy, freak-filled aftermath) as a matter of pressing significance.

How does such a forlorn cliché become elevated to major breaking news? Many journalism students are probably pondering the same riddle.

The answer isn't pretty. In a nutshell: Former Playboy centerfold turned rich widow turned reality-TV star suddenly dies, leaving an infant of uncertain paternity and a potential fortune up for grabs.

Story-wise, the angles are beauty, sex, money and greed -- classic tabloid ingredients and, now, a premium formula for mainstream media.
Hiaasen is among the best at turning a phrase in the newspaper business. I hope he keeps telling it like it is. The nation drowns in Anna Nicole coverage while stories like Bruce Crandall get shunted off to the back pages.
Top 5 - William Powell Movies

William Powell died on this day (March 5th) in 1984. I've grown to really appreciate Powell's dry wit. Here are what I consider his best 5 movies.

1. The Thin Man
2. My Man Godfrey
3. Life With Father
4. Mr. Roberts
5. (tie) After the Thin Man (tie) The Great Ziegfeld
Heh Heh

I got a good chuckle at this.

Maybe that guy who changed his name to Paul Maud'Dib and ran for President in 2004 could change his name for 2008?
Ron Borges - Plagiarist?

I think if you read this article at The Cold, Hard Football Facts you will come away knowing the answer. Ken Powers of the Worcester Telegram was fired a couple of years ago for much less obvious "borrowing" and it should be noted that the Worcester Telegram and Boston Globe are both owned by the same parent company. However, like the folks at The Cold Hard Football Facts - I'm skeptical that Borges will face any major punishment.

Ron Borges is exhibit A in how the Boston Globe sports section has fallen in quality. It used to be that I would rush out each morning to get the Globe because I had to read Peter Gammons, Will McDonough, Bob Ryan and the rest. Now I hardly ever buy a paper but if I do its a Boston Herald because the sports section is better. The loss of writing talent has hurt the Globe but so too has revelations like the fact that for years the Globe would have interns make the Friday NFL picks and put the names of columnists on the picks. This case of plagiarism by Borges is just the latest in a long list of failures of quality assurance at the Globe.

Not only is the Herald much better these days - you can feel comfortable that the reporters are at least writing their own stuff.