Tuesday, June 30, 2009


I just joined Twitter. You can follow me at @ALargeRegular.

In the immortal words of Bartles & James - I thank you for your support.

Oh - if you think of someone I should be following on Twitter - let me know.
Pick of the Day

My first choice was Chris Carpenter and the Cardinals against San Francisco but the price of -$200 was just too high. Almost as good a pick is Johan Santana and the Mets looking to halt a 4-game losing skid.

Today's pick of the day (POTD) is the Mets -$130 at Milwaukee (odds via Bodog).

POTD record - 5-1 overall with a plus $395 mythical dollar amount.
Red Sox Magic Number - 84

With the 4-0 win over the Orioles last night - the Red Sox magic number is now 84.

I wanted to comment that 84 was the year U2 released the CD The Unforgettable Fire which featured the song Bad. I am reminded of this because earlier today I bought the CD at CVS for $9.99. I was at CVS so that my daughter could buy a musical birthday card and I happened to see the CD for sale. Impulse sale.

In 1983 the Orioles won the World Series and it seems like to me that they have been "Bad" ever since. The decline of "the Oriole Way" in my mind started in 84 and by 86 they were in last place - just like today.

I haven't mentioned the death of Michael Jackson mostly because I wasn't a fan. I was New Wave - what's now called First Wave - not Pop. More Joe Strummer than Michael Moonwalker. I do want to say that for my money U2's Bad kicked Michale Jackson's Bad's ass.

Sports Betting

Interesting column looking at the economics of paying for picks.

I've always thought of those "guaranteed winners" bozos as nothing but scammers. The question always raised is if the picks are so good why don't the handicappers just bet on their own picks and ride off into the sunset as rich men?

At least my picks are worth what you pay for them.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Pick of the Day

Tonight I'm going with the Red Sox with Jon Lester starting over the Orioles with Jason Berken toeing the rubber. Nick Green is starting for the Red Sox and Julio Lugo is not. That equals a Red Sox win. The Red Sox are a -$163 favorite.

Yesterday I hit the Brazil / Royals parlay to bring the record to 4-1 overall with a plus $295 mythical dollar amount.
Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

Trent Green fills in for Peter King on Monday Morning Quarterback and does a much better job than Peter. If only we could make the switch permanent... The Go-Go's had a hit with 1981's Our Lips are Sealed. For the longest time I thought they were singing "Honored to see you". Just heard the song and was reminded of that tidbit... One bone to pick with Trent Green though - he says that Jay Cutler has a chance to pass for more then 4,000 yards this season but doesn't mention Kyle Orton. I think Orton will pass for more yards this year than Cutler. When the NFL prop bets are up - I'll even put money on it... It's tough to feel bad for a millionaire but I do feel kinda bad for Xavier Nady. He is basically out for this year while he gets Tommy John surgery and is probably out for next year too. No team will take a chance on him since he's a Type A free agent and would cost any team taking a flyer on him a first round draft pick. The way things are going though - I wouldn't be surprised if Nady qualified for stimulus money...

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Pick of the Day

Today I have a bit of a quandary. I'm trying to narrow my pick of the day (POTD) down from three choices which all have their own merits.

Choice 1 - Brazil over the USA in soccer. I think this game is a lock but I feel queezey betting against the US and the line at -$350 for Brazil would really punish me if I'm wrong.

Choice 2 - Kansas City with Zach Greinke pitching over the Pirates. The price is a bit high for a road team (KC -$150) but I think Greinke will dominate the Pittsburgh lineup.

Choice 3 - Tigers with Edwin Jackson (-$131) over Houston with Ancient Mariner Russ Ortiz taking the hill. The Tigers burned me the other night by blowing a 4 run lead against the Astros and Edwin Jackson always seems to bite me when I pick him or pick against him (if he was a college football team he'd be Syracuse).

Compromise is the answer I think. Today's POTD is a parlay using Brazil and Kansas City. Risking $100 would bring back $114.

POTD record 3-1 - plus $181.
Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

The MLB trading season gets underway with the Indians shipping Mark DeRosa to the Cardinals for reliever Chris Perez and a player to be named later. Supposedly the PTBNL is to come from an already agreed on list and the Indians can basically pick the player at the end of the season they like best. This could turn into a very good trade for the Indians. Then again - if Mark DeRosa is a type A free agent and St Louis gets 2 high draft picks when DeRosa leaves as a free agent - then this could turn into a very good move by the Cardinals... Wow - Mel Brooks turns 83 today. Happy birthday funnyman... When I was a kid bodybuilding was at its height. One of my favorite bodybuilders was Frank Zane whose birthday it is today (happy 67th birthday Frank). Zane's nickname was "the chemist" and I was so naive that I never read anything into that...

(I wrote a variation of this two years ago but I thought I'd run it again today.)

The historian James Burke had a very entertaining TV show called Connections that makes a chain of "connections" from an event in the past to a surprising result of that event in the present.

Based upon today's date - I'm going to do a version of Connections of my own.

On this date back in 1914 the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was shot and killed in Sarajevo. This caused Austria-Hungary's declaration of war against Serbia.

August 1st is generally regarded as the anniversary of the beginning of World War I in 1914 (when Germany declared war on Russia because Russia had declared war on Austria because Austria had declared war on Serbia because a Serb assassinated Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand on July 28th).

Personally I think the real war started on August 3, 1914 when Germany declared war on France and followed that up with the invasion of Belgium the following day (because the quickest way to Paris was through neutral Belgium). However, that's neither here nor there. The connection I want to focus on actually started on this date in 1914.

In 1914 the Turks had two state of the art battleships being built by the British. The ships had cost $30,000,000 in 1914 dollars (which is a lot of money now but a fortune back then). On July 28th the British thought that those two ships (the Sultan Osman and the Reshadieh) would come in handy in the upcoming war - so under the direction of Winston Churchill - the British "requisitioned" them (and they also kept the $30,000,000).

This did not sit well with the Turks who had been trying to stay neutral in the whole brewing fiasco but this bit of thievery may have tipped them toward the Germans. On August 10th the German ships Goeben and Breslau entered the Dardenelles and were soon given to the Turks to replace the two ships the British had stolen. This gesture was well received and basically put the Turks on the side of the Germans.

If the Turks did not enter the war on the side of the Germans then there may never have been the bloody massacre at Gallipoli.

If there was no battle of Gallipoli - then there probably would have not been a movie of the same name. This 1981 movie helped continue the career of a fairly unknown Australian actor who would use his role in Gallipoli to help gain him entree into the American film market by starring in the 1984 film The Bounty.

It is entirely possible that if the movie Gallipoli was never made that Mel Gibson would have remained simply a star in Australia. And news of what crazy Australians spout off when they get arrested in Australia for drunk driving never makes the news in the US.

So Mel Gibson may want to blame the Jews for all the wars in the world but in this series of connections it was the greedy British who miscalculated.
Red Sox Magic Number - 85

With the 1-0 victory over the Braves yesterday - the Red Sox magic number is now 85.

Today most people think Ochocinco (Chad Johnson's new surname) when the number 85 comes up in sports. Count me as as "not a fan" when it comes to Chad "Ochocinco" Johnson. Remind me - what has he won? Good thing that the Red Sox are the anti-ochocinco type team. No "look at me" attention seekers who place themselves above the team. Makes the Red Sox that much more likable.

With his win yesterday - Tim Wakefield now has 188 for his career. There have only been 139 pitchers in the history of baseball to have more career victories. Wakefield has never had a 20-win season but with 10 before the All-Star break this might be his best chance.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Pick of the Day

Tough loss last night as the Tigers roared out to a 4-0 lead only to lose 5-4 to the Astros.

Today I like the Phillies taking on the Blue Jays up in Toronto for my Pick of the Day (POTD). Bodog has the Phillies as a slight -$124 favorite. This will be the Phillies second time seeing Blue Jays starter Brad Mills and they raked him the first time out. Seeing how Mills was 1-8 in AAA ball before getting promoted because the rash of injuries to Toronto starters - I see similar results this time out.

Brad Mills is also the name of the Red Sox bench coach and I know that Brad Mills is rooting for the Phillies to beat AL East foe Toronto as well.

It occurred to me that I really can't go by just record while keeping track of baseball picks - so I'm going to assume a mythical $100 placed on each pick and also keep track of the dollar amounts.

POTD Record 2-1 - plus $81
Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

Jermaine Dye is quietly having one of the best seasons of his career. The 35-year old Dye hit his 17th HR of the year last night and is on pace to hit 40 for the season... This is very funny. Elvis Grbac you sexy thing - or not... Today would have been the 313th birthday of William Pepperrell one of the original American Horatio Alger-type success stories and the man for whom Pepperrell, Mass is named for... A-Rod passed Reggie Jackson in HR last night for 11th place on the all-time list with 564 HR's. Jim Thome is now just 10 HR away from catching Reggie too... I have seen every episode of Band of Brothers dozens of times and it never dawned on me that the actor who played Lt. Jones - Colin Hanks - was the son of Band of Brothers executive producer and uber star Tom Hanks... As I mentioned in an earlier post - the Red Sox magic number is now 86 which happens to be the number of episodes made of the HBO blockbuster The Sopranos. The Wire had fewer episodes but was the much better show... Opponents are hitting better than .300 against the Twins' Kevin Slowey. His 10 wins are a mirage... Today would have been Willie Mosconi's 96th birthday. In my mind Mosconi is without a doubt the greatest pool player who ever lived...
Red Sox Magic Number

With the win over the Braves last night - the Red Sox new magic number is now 86.

There are 86 metals on the modern periodic table but MLB won't let you use any of them to make bats. Wood only if you please. Too bad because Dustin Pedroia (hitting just .220 in June with a measly .571 OPS) and Kevin Youkilis (hitting just .203 in June) look like they could use an aluminum or some other metal bat right about now. The struggles of the 1 and 3 hitters in the line-up makes you wonder if Terry Francona is considering shuffling the line-up sometime soon.

David Ortiz is hitting .311 with 7 HR in June. If Ortiz stays hot and Youkilis continues to struggle - will Francona consider swapping the two sluggers in the batting order? Jacoby Ellsbury has been hitting .328 with a .413 OBP in June so would Francona consider putting Ellsbury back to lead-off and dropping Pedroia back to the 2-hole? Inquiring minds want to know.

Also any Red Sox fan worth their salt knows that 86 is the number of years the Red Sox had to wait between World Series wins before taking the title back in 2004.
The Steroids Era in a Nutshell

Last night Alex Rodriguez hit his 564th HR to pass Reggie Jackson and move into 11th place on the all-time list. This short paragraph in the AP game story seemed to encapsulate the steroids era in just two brief sentences.
Jackson was sixth when he retired in 1987, trailing only Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Frank Robinson and Harmon Killebrew. He’s since been passed by Barry Bonds, Ken Griffey Jr., Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro and A-Rod.
Of those who passed Reggie on the all-time list - only Ken Griffey Jr. has not been sullied by steroids allegations up till this point.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Pick of the Day

Today's pick of the day (POTD) is Detroit with Justin Verlander taking the hill. Bodog has the Tigers as a slight -$119 favorite. The Astros are the oldest team in baseball (average age over 30 years) and I think Verlander's fastball may prove to be overpowering tonight. I'm looking for him to hit double digits in strikeouts.

POTD record 2-0.
I Love Gay Head

I was unable to post yesterday because business took me over to Matha's Vineyard. The above is a picture of the cliffs at Gay Head and the Aquinnah lighthouse. I stopped by there yesterday because it really is a beautiful place.

Since I didn't have a chance to post yesterday - I didn't have the opportunity to post my Pick of the Day (POTD) which is just as well because I really didn't have one (no time to study the matchups, etc.). One thing for sure - I wouldn't have picked the Red Sox. There's no way to know how John Smoltz was going to perform his first real start back. A final pitching line of 5 earned runs in 5 innings could have been predicted. Personally I don't think Smoltz's poor performance yesterday means much. If he doesn't show improvement after his third start - then that's another story.

I also didn't have an opportunity to update the Red Sox magic number - which now stands at 87. If I did have a chance I would have noted that 87 equals four-score and seven and I would have made some comments about Abe Lincoln and the Gettysburg Address.

One final note - I'm guessing the title to my post will get my blog some interesting visitors. It will be fun to what watch types of searches pop up.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Pick of the Day

Today I'm getting right back on the Red Sox horse for my pick of the day as they play a quasi-home game down in DC. Jon Lester may be the hottest pitcher in baseball and he's been a threat to throw a no-hitter his last few times out. Tonight Bodog has the Red Sox as a -$173 favorite - while that is a bigger number than I would normally find attractive - I know that I would absolutely kick myself if I didn't take Lester versus this over matched Nationals team.

POTD record 1-0
Red Sox Magic Number - 88

With the Red Sox victory and the Yankee loss last night - the Red Sox new magic number is now 88.

In my mind I associate the number 88 mostly with Eric Lindros who chose the number 88 to foster comparisons to Wayne Gretzky who wore number 99. For our purposes of discussing the Red Sox magic number - a Eric Lindros comparison [with Lindros equating the New York Yankees] is perfect.

Lindros was dubbed "the next one" and had to weather constant comparisons to Wayne Gretzky - the Great One. Likewise these current Yankees have had to weather constant comparisons to Joe Torre's championship teams - like the team who won it all in 99. Yankee fans keep waiting for "the next one" but this Eric Lindros of a team won't be bringing home any championships any time soon.

Eric Lindros was a highly talented player but also a player who proved to be fragile. He was talented enough to put his teams in contention but there was always something lacking. As highly paid as he was - he never was able to win a championship.

Just like this current New York Yankees team.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Pick of the Day

I'm bringing back my pick of the day (POTD) which was very successful for those of you who were paying attention back a few months ago. With baseball pretty much the only action going - I'm going to be using the lines from Bodog (you can't beat Bodog) to make my selections.

Tonight I love the Red Sox (OK that comes as no surprise but tonight I like them more than usual). I know that the Nationals are "hot" right now having won 4 out of their last 6 and that they have the equally hot John Lannan (winner of his last 3 starts) taking the mound tonight but all this "hotness" accomplished is to drive down the odds on tonight's game to Red Sox -$129 (meaning you would have to risk $129 to win $100 on the Red Sox). Normally the odds on this game would be about the Red Sox -$170.

The Red Sox have a much better offense and bullpen plus tonight will seem like a home game for Boston with all the members of Red Sox Nation scooping up the cheap tickets in Washington. It's probably cheaper if you thought ahead to fly the shuttle into Reagan National, get a hotel room and scalp some tickets than it would be to take in a game at Fenway.

I haven't even mentioned Brad Penny who has been hot himself of late. He's gone at least 6 innings in 6 of his last 9 starts (never going less than 5 innings) and has allowed 3 or fewer runs in 7 of those 9 starts.

You may not see a value bet like the Red Sox -$129 against the Nationals again this season so take the Red Sox. They are my pick of the day.
Excellent Poker Story

You have Phil Ivey, a Las Vegas dancer making $50,000 the hard way, beer pong and a guy named Doug getting dumped by his girlfriend for being a jerk. How can you resist a story with all those plot elements?

Good stuff.
Baseball Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous baseball thoughts and observations.

One of the most impressive facts about Albert Pujols this season is the fact that he's leading MLB in both runs scored and RBI. You usually lead the league in one or the other category but to lead all of baseball in both is incredible... Mike Lowell's hip makes him run like someone's athletic grandmother but he still leads all Red Sox hitters in doubles with 18. Go figure... If the season ended today a very good argument could be made that Matt Cain should be the NL Cy Young winner. Cain is 9-1 with a 2.28 ERA. His 9 wins are tied for first in the NL and his ERA is second only to Dan Haren's 2.23. Tim Lincecum gets all the attention but Cain has 3 more wins and his ERA is almost a half run lower than his reigning Cy Young teammate... Interesting - Matt Clement has been named the head basketball coach at his high school alma mater. Good for him. I'm also sure this won't get in the way of him making a try at a comeback. JP Riccardi was a very successful basketball coach in the offseason at Holy Name HS in Worcester while working for the Oakland A's and Matt Stairs still coaches high school hockey in Maine in the offseason. I'm rooting for Clement. He always seemed like a nice guy...

Monday, June 22, 2009

World War Z

I was given Max Brooks' book World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by one of my kids at Christmas and the book languished on my bookshelf for months before I picked it up. But when I picked it up - I couldn't put it down. The book is a series of interviews of survivors of the Zombie War and if that sounds like a silly concept for a book I guess I wouldn't have disagreed with you. That is until I started reading the book.

The book is geared to read like a Studs Terkel book (it was modeled after The Good War: An Oral History of World War II but I kept thinking of Hard Times: An Oral History of the Great Depression which I think was the original best selling oral history by Studs Terkel).

The book was entertaining and disturbing to the point that I'd find myself daydreaming about defending my family against zombie hordes and the best ways to do so. While waiting at stoplights in my mind I seriously debated the merits of aluminum bats over wood bats and finally finding a use for my 1-iron. Crushing zombie brains needs forethought you know.

While reading the book I couldn't help but think that it was tailor made for a HBO series. Each chapter in the book deals with a different interview with a focus on different stages of the Zombie War. Perfect for HBO! I was disappointed to learn that the book supposedly be made into a movie. That doesn't mean I wouldn't go see the movie. Brad Pitt's Plan B Entertainment secured the screen rights to the novel and now that the ill-conceived adaptation of Moneyball has been shelved - maybe World War Z can move to the front burner for production.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Red Sox Magic Number - 92

With the Red Sox win over the Braves and the Yankees loss to the Marlins - the Red Sox Magic Number now stands at 92.

The average American child eats 92 pounds of sugar per year. My wife calls sugar calories "empty calories" because you don't really get anything nutritionally from them. Too much sugar also makes you sick.

Red Sox fans in New England who watch NESN have to sit through approximately 92 stupid commercials per Red Sox game. These aren't the normal commercials for Bud Light or Ford or like products. These are commercials for NESN original programing or things that you know the Red Sox have an investment in like the local presentation of the show Jersey Boys. Too many of these commercials have made me sick of NESN and the prevalence of these "empty content" commercials in both the pre-game and post-game shows have rendered those shows almost unwatchable.

Added some sites to the blogroll this morning including:

- The Emergent Fool - mostly financial and economic issues by a guy who plays some mean poker in his spare time

- Donald Marron - more economic and financial observations

- Bulls n Balls - sports and stocks - thought provoking stuff all

Its amusing that all three of the blogs I'm adding this morning deal mostly with financial issues. It's a coincidence but an interesting one. I'd recommend everyone adding these three blogs to their favorites or blogrolls.
Heh Heh

Interesting story of a small investment firm getting the best of some Wall Street Big Names. Greed isn't always good. Sometimes it's just greed.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Shifty Powers

I was saddened by the news that Darrell "Shifty" Powers has passed away. Shifty Powers was a WW II veteran who was made famous because of his exploits and accomplishments as part of the famous Easy Company profiled in the book and HBO series Band of Brothers.

It should be noted that on Sunday the History Channel will be airing the final 5 episodes of Band of Brothers starting just after noon. Think of Shifty Powers if you happen to catch some of the episodes.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Otis on Poker

Brad 'Otis' Willis fills in at the Tao of Poker with a memorable introductory piece. One line really struck home with me;
Freud told us that no one can keep a secret, that, even if they can keep their mouth shut, "betrayal oozes out of... every pore."
Whether you are playing poker, are in sales or a cop on a beat - people do try to tell their secrets even when they are keeping their mouths shut. All you have to do is learn how to read the signals.

I also got a kick out of the fact that the piece was posted at 4:20 am.
Red Sox Magic Number - 94

With the Yankees losing to the WASHINGTON NATIONALS for the SECOND TIME IN A ROW! - the Red Sox magic number is now 94.

A basketball court is 94 feet long. It seems to me that if you said a team from Washington was going to win 2 out of 3 against a team from New York - most people would have guessed that you were talking Wizards versus Knicks. I doubt anyone would have guessed Yankees versus Nationals.
Pedro Martinez

Pedro Martinez is supposedly on the cusp of signing to pitch for one of four teams; the Yankees, Rays, Cubs or Angels. All four teams make sense but one team that would make equal sense is not on the list and I wonder why.

The Milwaukee Brewers need an upgrade in their rotation and you would have to think that Pedro would be a both an upgrade over Manny Parra and also insurance over one of their fragile starters going on the DL. Sometimes its the team nobody (well almost nobody) mentions that has the most going on. Could the Brewers be looking at Pedro?

As a Red Sox fan - I want the Pedro saga to be over soon - well at least over after we get see what John Smoltz has left in the tank. The teams who lose out on Pedro will most likely turn to the Red Sox to inquire about Brad Penny.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

PJ O'Rourke and Auto Racing

Interesting interview of PJ O'Rourke talking about his new book and auto racing.

I can't recall reading a piece by Gregory Hardy before but I'll definitely try and keep up with him after reading this interview. I'll be sure to add Hardy's Twitter page to the blogroll.
Fenway Park Factors

Last night the Red Sox had their 500th consecutive sellout at Fenway Park. The thing that is amazing to me about the streak is the fact that as a team the Red Sox have hit .295 with a .374 OBP during those 500 games. That's impressive. I have to think that having a full house full of knowledgeable fans has to pump the Red Sox hitters up and be worth more than a few points in batting average and OBP.

Of course it could be that the sellouts started because the Red Sox were hitting and winning at Fenway. Chicken and egg type deal? The Red Sox are 327 and 173 over those 500 games at Fenway.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Red Sox Magic Number - 97

The Red Sox magic number is now 97. There isn't much special about the number 97. And there really wasn't anything special about the 97 Red Sox. Just look at the starting rotation for that 1997 team - Tim Wakefield, Tom Gordon, Aaron Sele, Jeff Suppan, and Steve Avery. The team sure has come far in 12 years.
Sosa and Pudge

Often when I'm on the road, I'll turn ESPN or ESPN 2 on the TV in the hotel room and just leave it on during the night while I sleep (or try to sleep). Doing that has made it hard to escape the news that Sammy Sosa tested positive for performance enhancing drugs in 2003. SportsCenter, Baseball Tonight all leading with Sammy testing dirty with anchors taking about the news accompanied by a video montage in the background. What's been amusing to me is once they are done talking about Sammy eventually the program gets to Ivan Rodriguez and how he just tied the record for most games caught by a catcher. A video montage paying homage to Pudge Rodriguez playing in the background while the praises and hosannas are sung.

What amuses me is the question whether the same video montage played last night for Pudge will be used when the news breaks that Pudge used performance enhancers too. I can't help but remember that Ivan Rodriguez was one of the players that Jose Canseco singled out by name in his book Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant 'Roids, Smash Hits, and How Baseball Got Big Time and again players who Jose Canseco specifically named has proven to have been dirty. Why should anyone think that Pudge Rodriguez will be any different?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Flotsam and Jetsam - St. Louis Edition

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations from just outside St. Louis.

So I'm just outside St. Louis (on the Missouri side) and to get here I went from Boston to Chicago to St. Louis on my flights. The flight plan for Chicago actually took us up into Canada and then over Lake Michigan. Just as we were getting above the water of Lake Michigan, Gordon Lightfoot's The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald came on my MP3 player. I got worried that this could be a bad omen and I couldn't remember if the song took place on Lake Michigan or Lake Erie. I just remember that it was about the big lake they all called Gitche Gumee. I'm pretty sure the song took place on Lake Erie... I landed in Chicago at O'Hare International. I got a chance to take a picture of Butch O'Hare's plane. I've written about what a hero Butch O'Hare was in the past. I'm surprised that no movie has ever been made about Butch O'Hare's life... I found an interesting blog that I'll be adding to my blogroll when I get a moment - Bulls n Balls - check it out if you have a minute...

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Red Sox Magic Number 100

With the win over the Phillies last night the Red Sox Magic Number now stands at an even 100 which would be the Roman numeral C. Some tidbits about the number 100.

- Ben Franklin is on the $100 bill. This is fitting for our purposes with the Red Sox traveling to Philadelphia to play the Phillies since Fanklin was born in Boston but moved to Philly.

- the 100th World Series was won by the Red Sox in 2004 over the Cardinals. Who could forget that?

- the quickest player to 100 home runs in baseball history is Ryan Howard who ruined Jon Lester's chances at a win last night with his 196th home run of his career in the 9th inning to tie the game at 2 apiece.
Baseball Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous baseball thoughts and observations.

Alphonso Soriano has 14 home runs but is hitting just .237 with a .305 OBP. Those are not the type of numbers you want from your leadoff man. I'm guessing the slow start at the top of the lineup is a major contributor to the fact that the Cubs are 25th out of 30 MLB teams in runs scored so far this season... The Phillies have a similar problem at leadoff with Jimmy Rollins (.221 BA and .256 OBP) but that hasn't stopped the Phillies from scoring runs (they are 5th in all of baseball).... It should be noted that 4 of the top 6 teams in run scoring this season are from the AL East. Tampa Bay (1), Yankees (2), Red Sox (4) and Toronto (6)... Last night Jon Lester was awesome. He went 7 innings against the Phillies, giving up one run and striking out 11. There is no question that the Red Sox did the right thing in not trading him for Johan Santana when they had the chance... I like Joe Girardi as manager of the Yankees but I don't like Joe Girardi as a manager. Does that make sense? I think Girardi is prone to make in-game mistakes and he doesn't seem to do too well in relating to his own players. The Yankees are winning games simply because their huge payroll line-up is scoring runs in bunches. Joe Torre would have this team in first place but with Girardi at the helm the Yankees will scuffle for the Wild Card. And that is just fine with me...

Friday, June 12, 2009

Red Sox Magic Number 101

After last night's come from behind victory over the Yankees - the Red Sox magic number now stands at 101. Some tidbits on the number 101.

- Joe Strummer used to player for the band the 101er's before he left to join The Clash. Nothing to add here except that I miss Joe Strummer.

- Room 101 in George Orwell's 1984 was a torture chamber. Losing 8 straight to the Red Sox to start the season must feel like torture to the Yankees and their fans. Room 101 is where Winston Smith's will is broken. For the Yankees their will was broken at Fenway Park but instead of rats it was the Yankees own pitching staff that has been doing the job.

- The TV show The Six Million Dollar Man was aired for 101 episodes. The Yankees have 11 players making more than $6 million this season with Robinson Cano making an even $6 million (Andy Pettitte will probably also make more than $6 million with his contract incentives). Even with all these highly paid players the Yankees have still lost 8 straight to start the season to the Red Sox.
David Letterman

David Letterman is taking lots of flack for his "joke" about Sarah Palin and her daughter at a Yankees game. People are calling Letterman classless, misogynistic, ignorant and much worse. I'm sort of surprised at the backlash at Letterman. I mean what else did you expect? Letterman is a Yankees' fan so being classless, misogynistic, ignorant and much worse is par for the course. [/rimshot]

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Julio Lugo - Shart Stop

Sorry for the juvenile humor but I have to say this. A shart is a fart that draws mud. You go to fart and you get a little something extra. You gamble and lose. Which brings me to Red Sox shortstop Julio Lugo.

Julio Lugo has been an awful signing for the Red Sox. He was signed to a 4-year $36 million contract back in 2007 and Red Sox fans have never been happy about it. Many will go so far as to argue that the Lugo contract was the worst signing in Red Sox history.

Last season Lugo had 16 errors in just 82 games which when combined with his .685 OPS made the argument about him being the worst Red Sox mistake hard to argue against. Rookie Jed Lowrie had ZERO errors in 49 games filling for Lugo last season. Lowrie even hit better than Lugo despite having a fractured left wrist. It was assumed that Lowrie would be the starting shortstop for the Red Sox in 2009 - basically making Lugo a $9 million back-up.

This spring Lugo had an operation on his knee on Saint Patrick's Day almost as if to acknowledge that he lost his job and should get healthy for whatever team the Red Sox would be able to dump him to. Then it was announced that just time alone had not allowed Jed Lowrie's wrist to properly heal and he too would need surgery.

My theory is that Lugo rushed back from his knee injury before he was 100% because he saw an opportunity to win his job back and regain his mojo (if he ever had any). He gambled that he would play well enough in the field and at the plate that Jed Lowrie would be the back-up when Lowrie came off the DL. Lugo gambled and lost.

Sure Lugo may still be nursing an injured knee but this whole season Lugo has played the field like a guy who is afraid to move his legs out of fear that crap would literally seep out of his ass. No range whatsoever. And any Red Sox fan who remembers Lugo failing to turn a key double play recently because his throw to first was made flatfooted as if he was afraid to lift one leg in the air to get some mustard on the throw knows exactly what I'm talking about. That throw was made as if Lugo was afraid mustard would leak down his leg if he made a normal throw. He's been playing like a guy who just sharted.

Julio Lugo - shart stop.

That's how I see the guy now.

Now I Can Die in Peace

I was given a copy of Bill Simmons' Now I Can Die in Peace: How The Sports Guy Found Salvation Thanks to the World Champion (Twice!) Red Sox for my birthday once upon a time and last week I finally got around to reading it. Let me explain a couple of things before I continue.

Yes - I know that I'm 4 years behind the curve here since the book is supposedly about the Red Sox finally winning a World Series back in 2004. However, the book I have is the 2009 edition with lots of footnotes added in to make it seem less dated. I also have to say that even as a rabid Red Sox fan there was an overload of Red Sox material after the victory in 2004. I had neither the time nor inclination to read this book until last week.

Second, I should give some background into my reading habits. I tend to start a new book on Sunday and I give the book a full week to read. If I finish the book in that week - fine. If the book does not grab me and make me want to read more during the week and I fail to finish it - then the book gets piled up with the rest of the books that I started but did not finish. The idea is that life is too short to slog through a book that doesn't truly interest you. Sometimes a book will grab me but take more than a week to read like the first volume of Shelby Foote's Civil War history. With those books I keep reading until I'm done and if I finish up with a couple of days to go until the next Sunday then I may pick a book up from the unfinished pile for a second chance.

I did not finish Bill Simmons' book.

I started off very excited. The "new" material was fresh to me and amusingly written. Then I got into the collection of Simmons old writings and things slowed down. The book is 452 pages long but Simmons and his editors (if such a thing exists) decided to still include sections on Carl Everett, Rich Garces and other subjects that had absolutely NOTHING to do with the 2004 championship team. My enthusiasm for the book quickly vanished. Being constantly hit over the head with dated pop culture references will do that to you. If you have a mullet, love 90210 and have posters on your bedroom wall from every Westlemania then you may feel different.

It should be noted that I am a Bill Simmons fan. I used to read his stuff long before he got to ESPN.com. So maybe this book didn't resonate with me because I had already read much of the material. Maybe the book didn't resonate with me because Simmons is almost by dint of what he does a dated read. Whatever the reason I couldn't get into this book and I won't even be putting the book in the pile of unfinished books. Instead Simmons' book will get a spot in my bathroom because I think even Simmons would agree that is where his writing is really meant to be read.

(Oh and I won't be putting the book up at the top of my blog either because I really can't recommend it.)

Monday, June 08, 2009

The Future of Automobiles in the USA

I didn't like the Government bailing out GM and Chrysler in the first place but what is done is done. That in mind I LOVE Lamar Alexander's of Tennessee and Bob Bennett's of Utah bill titled The Auto Stock for Every Taxpayer Act which would turn over the government's stake to GM and Chrysler by a distribution of shares to citizens. The bill would:
* Prohibit the Treasury from using any more TARP funds to bailout GM or Chrysler.
* So long as the government holds stock in these companies, require that the Secretary of the Treasury and his designee have a fiduciary responsibility to the American taxpayer to maximize the return on that investment.
* Not later than one year after each company emerges from bankruptcy, require that the Treasury distribute its common stock holdings in that company evenly to every American who paid taxes on April 15.
The Government has no business being in the car business. If we allow the government to have a say in how cars are built then we may very well end up with the following.

Thanks to Keith for the link. Funny stuff but keep in mind that many a truth has been said in jest. I'd much rather have a weakened General Motors over a taxpayer owned Government Motors.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

I didn't realize until this morning but Mine that Bird was Calvin Borel's only mount yesterday. That's unusual... On this day in 1892 Benjamin Harrison became the first President of the United States to attend a baseball game... According to Stats Inc - Mariano Rivera of the Yankees has already allowed 10 runs this season. In the entire 2008 season, he allowed just 11 runs.... Today would have been Dean Martin's 92nd birthday. Martin was always my favorites among the Rat Packers. Martin had a license plate DRUNKY which I'm guessing you couldn't get away with today... Exhibit A why people are going away from traditional print sportswriters. Mark Bradley writes a column / blog post - I don't what to call it other than crap - regarding John Smoltz's criticism over the way the Braves let Tom Glavine go. Bradley consciously or unconsciously makes the column all about Mark Bradley. He uses a variation of the word "I" and "me" close to 30 times in the article which ends in Bradley trying to make a joke by calling John Smoltz a dog. Here's the thing a guy like Bradley doesn't get - nobody gives a rats ass about you and how you deemed it OK to congratulate John Smoltz on his 200th win. This was the first time I read something Bradley wrote and it will be the last if I can at all help it. Sportswriters who think they are the story - is there anything more ridiculous?... Happy 58th birthday to Terry O'Reilly...
Red Sox Magic Number - 107

The Red Sox are in first place by half a game and their magic number to clinch the AL East stands at 107.

In 107 AD, Ignatius of Antioch, one of the "Church Fathers" is martyred in Rome by being fed to the lions in the Colosseum. These days it is Julio Lugo who the Red Sox faithful want fed to the lions (metaphorically). There is another who many would also like to see cast into a (metaphorical) pit. Another way of saying "Church Father" would be to say "Church Papi". David Ortiz is a "Father" of the 2004 and 2007 World Series champions. Let's just hope that Ortiz and Lugo aren't martyring the 2009 Red Sox season.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Stats - Stat of the Day

From the excellent Stats Twitter feed:
This season, #Houston's Mike Hampton is 3-0 with a 0.90 ERA vs. the #Pirates and 1-4 with a 6.43 ERA vs. the rest of the majors.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Bobby Kennedy

On this day 41-years ago - Bobby Kennedy was shot and killed. Many people remember the anniversary but most forget the reason Bobby Kennedy was killed.

He was killed by a Palestinian on the first anniversary of the Six-Day War.

In 1973 the PLO kidnapped the US Ambassador to Sudan - Cleo Allen Noel and the former Ambassador - George Curtis Moore. Freeing Sirhan Sirhan was one of the main demands made by the kidnappers. Both Noel and Moore were shot and killed.

The Democratic Party leaders embracing people like Arafat in the past or Hamas today is a slap in the face of the memory of Bobby Kennedy. Yet nobody remembers or maybe they don't care?

It should also be remembered that Sirhan Sirhan was prosecuted by Band of Brothers hero Buck Compton.

Exhibit A that our country is too litigious.
The plaintiff, Janine Sugawara, alleged that she had only recently learned to her dismay that said "berries" were in fact simply brightly-colored cereal balls, and that although the product did contain some strawberry fruit concentrate, it was not otherwise redeemed by fruit.
The first thing that came to mind after reading this story was a Bill Murray quote from the movie Quick Change:
"Up your butt with a coconut!" I think he was prepared to do it! Except I saw no coconut. He, uh, he had no coconut to my knowledge.
I don't know what that quote has to do with the lawsuit but it was the first thing that came into my mind. OK - maybe the first thing that came into my mind was to ask just how stupid this woman was. I also wonder if the lawsuit would have been more successful if she simply claimed that the Captain Crunch product ripped the top of her mouth to shreds?

HT Instapundit

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Eric Drache

Eric Drache finished 2nd in the 2009 $10,000 World Championship Seven Card Stud event in the WSOP. I had never heard of Eric Drache until I read this fine piece by Benjo over at the Tao of Poker. I was intrigued by a guy like Drache who literally invented tournament satellites, who helped produce the greatest TV poker show ever (High Stakes Poker) and who had once been responsible for running the WSOP itself.

Benjo told a story of a nice guy who had lots of old timer Vegas guys rooting him on to what was hopefully to be Drache's first WSOP bracelet. The old timers told stories about Drache like the following:
"And he was taking care of the people working for him, too," continued Thor. "One Christmas, he was short of money to pay the dealers their bonuses. He knew those people were like any other people and had been gambling, or doing whatever else they were doing. They were short of money, and he didn't want to leave them broke for Christmas. So what did he do ? He went on the street, and borrowed several dozens of thousands of loan-shark money to give to them. He had to pay juice for months after that, but it didn't matter. Cause he made his people happy for Christmas."
The story begs the question of why he was short of money in the first place. I was curious - so I looked around the Internets for more information on Eric Drache. Wikipedia had this nugget on his page:
In the middle nineties he was prosecuted on federal tax fraud charges and lost his Nevada gaming license as a result, which is required to work in casinos.
Take everything you read on the Internets with a grain of salt (especially Wikipedia) but I found this nugget via a Google search and the picture of Eric Drache seemed to come clearer:
Eric Drache was put in charge of the WSOP. What a joke this was. Poker was now controlled by cheats. It was always controlled before, but it was not this well organized. Eric Drache was a compulsive sports better and soon was losing more at sports than he could steal or cheat. On the occasion that he was let go from the WSOP after running it for years, he had sold many seats for a discount for a quick monetary fix. He must of sold twenty to thirty WSOP $10,000 seats for $8,000 cash before the event. After losing the money he was in a bad situation. Jack Binion covered the loss and nothing was told to the public. However, Eric Drache was no longer running the WSOP. This is the reason that Eric Drache was no longer in charge of the WSOP.
The picture now seemed more fleshed out and understandable. Pure speculation on my part but it seems like a nice guy with intelligence who had skills in poker but who fell prey to a lack of skill in picking winners in sports betting. Using money from the dealers Christmas bonuses or from discounted entries for the WSOP Main Event to be replaced when the Raiders or Lakers or the Yankees or whoever covered the spread. Of course in the gambler's mind it is always "when" and not "if" and when the "whens" fail to pass you end up borrowing money from loan sharks or getting fired from your gig running the WSOP for skimming from the entry money.

The fall and redemption of a guy like that would seem to make a great Hollywood story line. Of course to make it a true Hollywood tale - the guy who invented the tournament satellite would have to win a satellite to get into the 2009 WSOP and he of course would not finish 2nd. In the movie version - he'd have to win it. I'd go to see a movie like that.
Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

One of the arguments made for the releasing of Tom Glavine is that he was reaching just the mid 80's on his fastball. Jamie Moyer is 46 and his fastball is slower than what Glavine's tops out at. Moyer has been 45-38 since he turned 43-years old... John Smoltz weighs in on Glavine being released... Am I the last person in the country to know (or in my case - not know) who Jon and Kate are? I still don't know and I could care less... As noted before, "If Tom Glavine's career is over, he'll end his final season with a 2-4 record and a 5.54 ERA. In his first season in 1987, Glavine was 2-4, 5.54"...

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Tom Glavine

Certain Hall of Famer Tom Glavine has been released by the Atlanta Braves. My initial reaction is WTF? Is Glavine hurt or something? Seeing how Glavine gave up ZERO runs in his last 2 rehab starts - I'm guessing that not only is he healthy - he's ready to join the big league staff. Instead he gets cut? I don't get it.

Much will be made over the fact that the Braves would have had to pay Glavine a $1 million roster bonus. Big deal! Is Frank Wren that brain dead? The saying in baseball goes that you can never have too much pitching. Does Wren think he's that stocked at starter that he can afford to just discard a potentially live arm and fan favorite in Glavine? I don't get it.

Here's what I don't get. Sure the Braves have Jair Jurrjens (who makes peanuts and will be under team control for years); Derek Lowe (signed a 4-year $60 million contract in the off-season); Javier Vazquez (who will make $11.5 million this season and next) and Kenshin Kawakami (signed a 3-year $23 million contract this off-season), however, the Braves are 10th in the NL in runs scored and ALL of their NL East competitors are ahead of them. Conversely, they are 5th in the NL in ERA (4.08) with only the Mets (3.87) ahead of them among NL East foes. My point? The Braves need offense. Wouldn't a surplus of starters be the best way to trade for that offense?

Frank Wren can trade Javier Lopez any time he wants. He can trade either Derek Lowe or Kawakami after June 15th. Any of those three pitchers should be able to get the Braves a good bat if they really want to make a ruin at the playoffs or decent prospects in return if they are building for the future. If this was about money - trading Vazquez for a bat would not only help the team now but also save lots more money that tossing Tom Glavine out like yesterday's garbage. And Frank Wren wouldn't have to face the fan backlash he's sure to face with a move like that.

I don't get it.

I'm starting to think that Atlanta GM Frank Wren doesn't get it either.
The Hangover

In A Large Regular exclusive - it was learned that the movie The Hangover was actually based on this children's book.

I swear it's true.
The Wire - Season One

I'm a big fan of The Wire and I was engrossed by this Season One - episode by episode - review by Alan Sepinwall. The episode reviews are geared towards "veteran" viewers of The Wire - people who have seen the entire series and who won't bothered by spoilers. Sepinwall also wrote non-spoiler versions for newbie watchers of the series. I know that these were written almost a year ago but I just ran across them via the magic of the Internet.

There were many insights gleaned from the review of the first season but one that really struck me was:
One of the series' key themes is the folly of placing your faith in institutions, because they're designed to protect themselves and not you the individual. D'Angelo placed his faith in both The Game and his family, and they combined to drag him down and send his ass to prison for 20 years. McNulty put his faith in law-enforcement and found out that no one on either the local or federal level really cares about stopping the likes of Avon and Stringer. D goes to prison, Jimmy to the boat, and their institutions grind on with them on the margins.
This insight seems especially relevant today when the government seems to be strengthening the role of institutions in our lives and creating new institutions where none existed in the past. Are we trying to turn America into the Baltimore of The Wire? That's my fear.

Sepinwall also reviewed other seasons of The Wire. I can't wait to read his review of season two. If you read the reviews - make sure to take time to read the comments. Some of the best insights are found there and the show's creator, David Simon, even makes a guest appearance or two.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Bottom of the Ninth

Nature abhors a vacuum. So does sports and business. Many thousands of words have been poured over the move of the Dodgers and Giants out of New York and out to the gold fields of California. I can't recall anyone really taking the time to detail what happened next in New York after the city was left with just one team and a huge vacuum in its baseball loving soul.

Michael Shapiro takes the time to tell what happened next with his book Bottom of the Ninth: Branch Rickey, Casey Stengel, and the Daring Scheme to Save Baseball from Itself. This book was a great read. I fancy myself as a guy who knows both his baseball and his history but this book told me a story I had no clue about.

Have you ever heard of the Continental League? I admit that I had never heard of it until reading this book and yet this brainchild of Branch Rickey came tantalizingly close to becoming a third Major League in baseball. The effects of the threat of the Continental League can still be seen today any time you watch a game involving the Mets, Astros, Angels, Twins or Rangers (formerly the Senators). Throw in teams in Denver, Atlanta, Buffalo and Toronto and you have what would have been the Continental League. (Poor Buffalo got screwed the most out of all the would be Continental League cities.)

The effects of the Continental League can also still be felt today any time you watch an NFL game featuring a former AFL team. Many of the same cities and many of the same ownership groups were involved in both the Continental League and the AFL. Probably most significantly, the AFL took the Continental League's TV revenue sharing plan hook line and sinker and rode that plan to the success the NFL enjoys today.

Had you ever heard of Del Webb? I had not and I was astonished on how much power the publicly silent co-owner of the New York Yankees wielded behind the scenes.

The book was written focusing on two men - Branch Rickey and Casey Stengel much like Moneyball was written with a focus on Billy Beane and Bill James. If you enjoyed Moneyball you surely will enjoy Bottom of the Ninth. I can't recommend it enough.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

The Phillies have called up left-hander Antonio Bastardo. Is that one of the great all-time names or what? I may just go ahead and order my Tony Bastard shirt right now.... I was thinking that nothing must typecast an actor worse than playing an albino-looking villain. Imagine my surprise when looking at the IMDB pages for Paul Bettany (he was Silas the albino killer monk in The Da Vinci Code) and Tobin Bell (he was the albino-looking "Nordic man" killer in 1993's The Firm). Both actors haven't suffered in the least for lack of work. Sure Tobin Bell has been pretty much cast as serious men or villains (like Jigsaw in the Saw movie franchise) but he's had plenty of work. Paul Bethany surprised me with the breath of his work. He was the ship surgeon in Master and Commander and he played Geoffrey Chaucer in A Knight's Tale. Only after reading that did I go "Oh yeah - now I recognize him as Silas." That's the mark of a good actor. I guess getting cast as an albino killer could be good for a guy's acting career....
Heh Heh

This was awesome.

HT Hot Air
Dan Duquette as Captain Sobel

I'm a huge Red Sox fan and also a big fan of both the book and HBO series Band of Brothers. For whatever reason - yesterday it occurred to me that if Dan Duquette was a character in Band of Brothers that he would have been Captain Herbert Sobel (played in the series by David Schwimmer).

Captain Sobel was responsible for the training and environment which made Easy Company into the lean-mean fighting machine they showed themselves to be in battle. The Tacoa men were Tacoa men in large part because of Captain Sobel. He was also greatly despised and had trouble dealing with people. It was hard to like Herbert Sobel.

Dan Duquette created the foundation of the first Red Sox team to win a World Series Championship in 86 years. Pedro Martinez, Manny Ramirez, Jason Varitek, Derek Lowe, Johnny Damon and Nomar Garciaparra - they were among his Tacoa men. Duquette also had a real problem dealing with people. Nobody shed any tears when the Red Sox decided to go in a different direction from Duquette. Many in fact were absolutely giddy. As giddy as the people in Easy Company when they learned that Captain Sobel would not be the one leading them into battle.

It should come as no surprise that Captain Sobel was ultimately done in by a revolt by the non-commissioned officers. They would not follow him into battle and they let their feelings known to the commanding officer (Colonel Sink - played by the great Dale Dye). Don't you think that Dan Duquette's demise was similarly sparked by players putting a bug into John Henry's ear?

Both Duquette and Sobel had to watch as their replacements became successful, beloved and famous. And both Duquette and Sobel had front row seats to watch as that happened.

Maybe my next post could be about the similarity between Theo Epstein and captain Winters?