Friday, September 30, 2011

Red Sox Physical Health

I remember when the New York Mets had their epic fail in 2007 losing 12 of their last 17 games - the big joke was about how bad their team physicians were. A player would stub a toe and people would automatically guess that he'd be soon on the 60-day DL. How come the Red Sox health and healthcare isn't given the same scrutiny?

In the fall of 2004 Dr. Bill Morgan was hailed as a hero in New England. The man who made it possible for Curt Schilling's bloody sock to go down in baseball history. The next year Dr. Morgan was gone - replaced by Dr. Thomas Gill which was rumored to be part of a package deal with Massachusetts General Hospital. Supposedly it was a marketing deal / partnership which had nothing to do with on the field performance and absolutely something Terry Francona had no control over. Could Francona be paying the price for that partnership today?

Of course this is speculation and I'm not a doctor but as a fan I have to wonder why Dustin Pedroia and Clay Buchholz were allowed to play hurt? Pedroia ended up having his knee scoped in June and was immediately a different player. What if that healthy Pedroia started the season? Would that have been worth an extra win or two? Two more wins and the Red Sox are still playing. What about Clay Buchholz? When did he really get hurt and why did the rehab seemingly take so damn long?

Remember how badly misdiagnosed Jacoby Ellsbury was last season? I guess that's Terry Francona's fault too.

Boston is supposed to have some of the best hospitals and doctors in the world. You would never know that looking at the health of the Red Sox these past few seasons.
Terry Francona

Terry Francona is out as manager of the Boston Red Sox and that is too bad. He is arguably the best manager in baseball and now he's no longer part of the Boston Red Sox.

Hindsight says this was inevitable. Francona had two options - for 2012 and 2013. The fact that the team did not pick those options up (or at least the 2012 one) in spring training was a sign from Theo Epstein and management that Francona was managing for his job. If he was to stay Francona would have been placed in the same situation next year. That sort of treatment from management must get weary on the spirit. Who can blame Francona if he had enough? Francona will immediately walk into a situation where he will be paid more and be given more job security than at the club for whom he won 2 World Series in the past 8 years.

Think about that for a minute.

Matt Albers, Carl Crawford, Bobby Jenks, Andrew Miller, Hideki Okajima, Denny Reyes and Jason Varitek - those were the 2011 free agent signings that Theo Epstein gave to Francona to work with this season. Prior to that the players included the likes of John Lackey, Edgar Renteria, JD Drew, and Julio Lugo. Yet it is Francona that is without a job today.

If the Red Sox were smart they would fire Theo and bring back John Farrell to be the GM.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Red Sox Demise - I'm Sick to My Stomach

Seriously. I've eaten more Tums the past few hours than I have in the past year. And why? I thought the Red Sox would win last night and either have a play-in game today or be matched up against Texas in the first round. Either way this team was heading for an early exit. So why did last night's debacle so upset my tummy?

If there was a game today - who would have any confidence in John Lackey pitching the team to victory? Even if they made the playoffs the team just didn't have the pitching to win a series. The team was doomed either way. There wasn't even a "Little left Pedro in too long" situation to gripe about. So why is it that every time I hiccup it feels like acid might squirt through my tear ducts?

So what's next? What does the team do to fix this? Here's my suggestions.

The first step is to get rid of John "F*cking" Lackey. If anyone deserves to be the scapegoat - this piece of sh*t deserves it. Opposing batters hit .353 against him in September - a month where he posted a 9.13 ERA. Those 5 starts for Lackey in September easily was a difference between making the playoffs and not making the playoffs. Giving Lackey those starts may be what in the end costs Terry Francona his job. And it's not like this is a Monday morning QB situation. EVERYONE knew Lackey was hurting the team!

Top off the Lackey situation with the fact that Lackey is divorcing his wife who had a double mastectomy and is still fighting cancer. The Red Sox have long supported the Jimmy Fund and all facets in the fight against cancer. No way they can keep this loser.

The question is who will take Lackey? If the Red Sox eat $30 million of the remaining $45 million - I think (hope) some West Coast team would take a chance. If they can't find a taker - my hope is the Red Sox exile Lackey to pitch in Pawtucket the way the Yankees exiled Kei Igawa to the minor leagues.

Some quick thoughts:

- JD Drew is gone. He will retire. That clears $14 million off the books.
- Do the Red Sox bring back David Ortiz? Would a 2-year $25 million offer get it done?
- Will Jonathan Papelbon come back? He's a free agent and will some team just throw the moon at him or will the Red Sox be able to bring him back? I was one of those guys who thought the team should go with Daniel Bard as closer next year but right now none of us guys feel comfortable with that thought. You could argue that it was Bard's September meltdown that was just as responsible for the team missing the playoffs. Bard went 0-4 with a 10.64 ERA in September.
- Do the Red Sox trade Kevin Youkilis? He's got one year and an option on his contract so he would be attractive trade bait which could bring back the pieces needed to fill any hole in the roster.
- The Red Sox should bring back Marco Scutaro who has a $6 million team option.
- I'm guessing that the team will part ways with both Tim Wakefield and Jason Varitek -who will both probably retire. Wakefield could open a knuckleball academy while it would be cool if Varitek could stay with the team as assistant pitching coach and emergency 3rd catcher.
- As far as free agents - I would make a strong push for Mark Buehrle and maybe Chris Young (if he passes a physical) but otherwise I don't trust Theo to make a big splash.
- Bring back Theo and Tito for another year. Give them extensions and one more shot.
- I would love if the Red Sox traded for Marlins ace Josh Johnson who is coming back after injury but is owed about $26 million for the next 2-years. Offer them a big package for Johnson - please!

Less than 140 freakin days until pitchers and catchers.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Kinks - Living on a Thin Line

One of the lost classics from The Kinks.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Malcolm Gladwell - The Nets and NBA Economics

Malcolm Gladwell had what was a very interesting look at the history behind the Nets move to Brooklyn - a move which Gladwell explains was in essence was a real estate land grab.

Gladwell had me until he brought up marginal tax rates late in the article. Gladwell writes, "Up until the 1960's, the gap between rich and poor in the United States was relatively narrow." I'd argue that Gladwell must not have ever been to Newport, RI or studied the Gilded Age in any history classes he ever took.

He continued, "In fact, in that era [the 1960's] marginal tax rates in the highest bracket were in excess of 90 percent. For every dollar you made above $250,000, you gave the government 90 cents." As you can see from this chart the top rate was 91% in 1960 but by 1970 that top rate was reduced to 71.75%. I hate to nitpick but when the facts start to be squishy like this it makes me start to question the other facts presented.

"Today - with good reason - we regard tax rates that high as punitive and economically self defeating." Well duh!

"It is worth noting, though, that in the social and political commentary of the 1950s and 1960s there is scant evidence of wealthy people complaining about their situation. They paid their taxes and went about their business." The wealthy people didn't complain about their situation? So I guess that top rate just magically reduced itself from 91% in 1960 to 71.75% in 1970 without nary a rich guy making a single complaint to legislators or lobbyists. How can a smart guy like Gladwell be this historically naive?

"The rich have gone from being grateful for what they have to pushing for everything they can get." Sounds like Gladwell longs for the days of John Rockerfeller who got his start war profiteering in the Civil War before systematically crushing all competition to his Standard Oil or maybe pushovers like JP Morgan. The article went from interesting to naive to silly in just one big paragraph of historical ignorance.

Which was too bad because it really did start off as an interesting article on the Nets move to Brooklyn.

Linky Links

Stuff I found interesting and thought I'd share.

- Minute Physics - Schrodinger's Cat. I love fun instructional videos like this.

- The Espresso Book Machine - every college town should have a coffee shop that has one of these.

- Tom E. Curran has very good take on Ochocinco's "performance" yesterday. I may add my thoughts later but am in no mood to upset myself right now.

- Vacant land in Detroit turned into beer garden. I so want to open one of these in my town.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Making Sense of Things

I'm tired of trying to understand how the Red Sox could collapse so completely in September. I'm exhausted trying to understand how the Patriots could jump out to a 21-0 lead and then blow the game to the Bills. So instead I will try and figure out if the Trololo guy is actually a descendant of the Woods Elves from the Mirkwood Forrest.
Freedom of Speech vs Economic Liberty

George Will makes a very interesting argument - the same people who would attack attempted regulation on free speech are often the very same people who promote regulations that stifle economic liberty. I had not thought of it that way before.

In short - some people think the freedom to talk about your pursuit of happiness without government intervention is an unalienable right but the ability to try to act on getting that happiness by labor unencumbered by government regulation is not OK.
Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

Yesterday would have been Phil Hartman's 63rd birthday. He's perhaps the most under-rated member of SNL's long history. Here's a link to some of his classic sketches... It occurred to me that Obama's new Buffett Tax will impact not just "millionaires and billionaires" but anyone making over $250,000 per year. I will assume that billionaire Warren Buffett's secretary is pretty well paid. I'd guess she would even be in the over $250k crowd. So in essence - Barack Obama will be raising her taxes so chances are she will still be paying a higher rate than her boss. Happy secretaries day honey... Who knew? Until just recently it was illegal to sell Sangria in California. What a perfect example of stupid government regulations... I wonder if the Marlins will try to trade Josh Johnson in the offseason? Johnson is coming off injuries that cost him most of the 2011 season and next year he is scheduled to be paid $13.75 million. He's under contract for both 2012 and 2013 so a team should be willing to give up some top prospects. When healthy Johnson is among the best pitchers in the game. This is worth keeping an eye on... JRR Tolkien, Hobbits and beer... Perhaps my favorite quote from the GOP debate the other night: "Yo gay guy in the military I'm gonna let you finish but DADT was one of the best military policies of all-time" - Rick Santorum... I love history like this. The time Notre Dame played the New York Giants to help the unemployed...

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Legal Outlook for Full Tilt Poker and a Simple Solution

If I was in charge I'd put a very simple and straight-forward plan in place regarding Internet Poker. I would charge the Internet poker gaming companies 2% on every dollar deposited by check, credit card or wire transfer for players in the US. I would also require the Internet poker gaming companies to issue a 1099 for every "cash-out" to American players no matter how small. The player would have to claim that money as income and pay the normal taxes on it. That's pretty much it.

I would take off the books all other federal laws regarding poker and leave it to the states to decide how they want to handle public and private poker games within their borders.

Is it really that hard to figure this out?

Friday, September 23, 2011

Troy Davis, Rhino Poachers and the GOP Debate

One thing that surprised me about last night's GOP debate in Orlando was the fact that no question about Troy Davis or the death penalty was raised either by the moderators or by the YouTube video questioners. Troy Davis and his execution set the Twitter world afire just the day before and yet there was no question - not a peep. That surprised me.

Don't get me wrong - I'm not trying to somehow intimate that an innocent man may have been put to death or that the death penalty is barbaric. Or even that these issues deserved to be address by the GOP candidates. In specific I think a jury found Troy Davis guilty of killing a cop, a judge agreed, the appeal court also agreed, the Supreme Court looked at the case and saw no reason to intervene and the Governor of Georgia also saw no reason to stop the execution. I think Eric Erickson did a fine job detailing how justice was indeed served.

In the macro - I don't see what benefit is gained by society or what purpose served by keeping a guy like Charles Manson alive. In my opinion certain crimes deserve the death penalty. You kill a cop, you molest and kill a child, you are found guilty of being a serial killer or you are guilty of betraying your country - death is the punishment you deserve.

What really got me thinking about the death penalty was not the death of Troy Davis - it was this extraordinary article from Outdoor Magazine on Kaziranga National Park in India. The article details how the park rangers have been able to eliminate or minimize poaching of rare one-horned rhinos by instituting a shoot to kill policy in dealing with poachers. Rhinos are rare while bullets are cheap management approach to the problem has been very successful and I was left at the end wondering if there was a fund I could give to to support these park rangers in their efforts.

As chance would have it - I happened to be reading the article about the same time that Troy Davis was being put to death. I couldn't help wondering how many of the people spewing contempt at Clarence Thomas and the Governor of Georgia would react to the story. I couldn't help but picture someone like Alec Baldwin reacting "Good for the park rangers!" You know that's how many of those people would react. Screw due process for the poachers! Bang! No more poachers - no more poaching problem.

The idea of protecting an endangered species would allow a certain mindset to mount a high horse of moral superiority which would allow for extreme measures such as shooting poachers on sight. A man convicted of shooting a cop being executed? Well the coffee klatch thinking says that's just barbaric in this day and age. The moral gymnastics involved in such a person just boggles my mind.

Me? A cop killer gets executed? Not a problem. A poacher gets his head blown off by park rangers? Also good.

At least I'm consistent.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Today's Pick

Tonight NC State plays at Cincinnati. I've always been impressed by Bearcats QB Zach Collaros who has 7 TD's to 0 interceptions so far this season. However, if any team is prepared to play against a guy like Collaros - its NC State's defense who has been practicing the past few years against Russell Wilson. Yes the Wolfpack D is banged up but I think NC State will prove to be the better team - or at least good enough to keep it close.

Being a national TV game on ESPN should have the crowd nice and rowdy for Cincinnati but not enough to make up for 7.5 points. My pick is NC State and the 7.5 points.

Record so far this season - 2&2 (-$20)
Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

OK I admit I'm panicking in Boston! The loss last night really set me off. This was supposed to be a championship caliber team and now I'm wondering if they will even make the playoffs. Yup - the preseason loss by the Boston Bruins has really made me question things... Particles found to break speed of light. Wait - what? I thought this was settled science?... Lance Berkman signs a 1-year extension with the St. Louis Cardinals. As good as Berkman's been for the Cardinals - the cynic in me wonders if this is an insurance policy against Albert Pujols leaving as a free agent. Remember Berkman also plays 1st base... The Amazing Fact Generator. Just awesome... Sam Simon once asked poker champ Dan Harrington why he didn't have a poker sponsor. Harrington responded that he didn't have a sponsor because he didn't want to go to jail... What if everything worked like the BCS: the Spelling Bee. This is WICKED AWESOME.... If I had a brewery that competed against Heineken - I would have a commercial featuring two skunks drinking Heineken and saying things like that they loved this beer and how they didn't even have to leave the beer out in the sun for hours to get it to taste the way skunks like beer to taste... The year Mariano Rivera came up with the Yankees - Jack McDowell was the ace of the pitching staff. Yeah - that Blackjack McDowell... Heh heh - Epilepsy my cock... July was National American Beer Month and August was National Anal Sex Month. I think it would be more interesting if in the future they combined the two...
Gary Johnson and Tonight's GOP Debate

Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson now is now polling at 1% and will thus be included in tonight's Fox News - Google Republican debate. I honestly think that the rise in Johnson's visibility is mainly due to the profile of him that was recently in Outdoor Magazine.

Skeptics may say well if what you are saying is true then 100 profiles of Johnson should get him to 100% in the polls. That's silly - of course. I really do think that the Outdoor profile is responsible and I wonder if anyone has asked Johnson if he agrees.

In an article in today's Wall Street Journal - Karl Rove makes an interesting point that four years ago at this point of the campaign Rudy Giuliani was the leading GOP candidate at 28% while Fred Thompson was second at 23%. They of course faded. Will we see similar drop-offs this time around? Is it better to be a lower in the polls dark-horse like Gary Johnson at this point than one of the front-runners? Is this why Sarah Palin is waiting to enter the fray?
The West Wing Pilot Script

I enjoy reading movie and TV show scripts. One of the best is the script for the pilot of The West Wing written by Aaron Sorkin (pdf). If you are familiar with the show at all it is very difficult to read the script without picturing the actual characters as they were cast. The script and dialog written by Sorkin is so good that I think I'd prefer to own the script over the DVD of the show.

Two minor things to note about the original script:

(1) Leo McGarry (played on the show by the late John Spenser) was originally called Leo Jacobi. Not sure why the name was changed. Maybe when John Spencer was cast the name was changed to better reflect Spencer's heritage?

(2) There was always a character called Charlie who was the President's "body man". In the original script he's just a sharply dressed 19-year old taking a year off from Georgetown. I like the way he evolved into the Charlie Young played by Dule Hill (complete with this new Charlie's back-story).

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Niall Ferguson: The 6 Killer Apps of Prosperity

Very interesting talk by economist/historian Niall Ferguson on the 6 killer apps of prosperity. He lists certain "apps" as the driving force explaining Western domination in the last century and also how these "apps" are why "rest-ern" civilizations are catching or passing Western nations today. The West's killer apps are:

1. Competition
2. The Scientific Revolution
3. Property Rights
4. Modern Medicine
5. The Consumer Society
6. The Work Ethic

I can also highly recommend Niall Ferguson's The Ascent of Money.

Linky Links

Stuff I found interesting and thought I'd share.

- Interesting - Lloyd's of London sues Saudi Arabia over 9/11 attacks. I wouldn't be surprised if this wasn't settled out of court so that Saudi Arabian leaders don't have to undergo the discovery process.

- I wasn't aware of the "Santorum" Google problem till I read this. Does it make me a bad person that I found this amusing?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

Wow is Tom Brady great. I was too young for Bobby Orr. Wayne Grezky and Michael Jordan played in other cities and as good as Larry Bird was I don't think he was ever at a level that Tom Brady has exhibited in his last two games. This article gives a nice idea of what I'm talking about... I don't care about the Emmy Awards but I did find myself being very happy for Margo Martindale winning for Best Supporting Actress... Tom Brady is on pace for 7,520 yards and 56 TD's. Dan Marino's record of 5,084 yards in a season has lasted 27-years. This is the year it gets broken... Bob Ryan had a very nice tribute to Dave Gavitt. Well worth the read... Why is it that people who claim to be "pro-choice" will ridicule you if your "choice" happens to be to drink Zima?... I might be silly but I think this is funny in any language... I think college football announcers who insist on saying "true freshman" should be forced to also say "true sophomore", "true junior" and "true senior"... When Scott Boras is recruiting a new client - how long do you think does it take for him to mention the fact that he was able to make JD Drew over $94 million for his career? That has to be a huge selling point on his negotiating skill... I will assume that Sterling, Cooper, Draper, Price did not come up with this ad campaign... Whippersnapper would be a good name for a licorice vagina shaped candy or a slang word for a newlywed wife who completely takes away her husband's manhood... Many people are surprised at how good Ryan Fitzpatrick has been but not me. I told you over 6-years ago that Fitzpatrick would be a very good NFL QB...

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Dave Gavitt, the Big East, Holy Cross and the Road Not Taken

Yesterday Dave Gavitt, the founder of the Big East passed away. Yesterday the news broke that Syracuse and Pittsburgh will be leaving the Big East for the ACC. Yesterday Holy Cross beat Harvard in football 30-22. All of these stories are related.

If you are a sports fan from Worcester of a certain age - you know the story well. Dave Gavitt wants to form a new basketball league that will cash in on TV money and they want Holy Cross as one of their centerpiece schools. Father Brooks and the College of the Holy Cross say "No thanks."

Years later schools like Georgetown and St. John's are national powers and Holy Cross fans are asking "what if" questions.

Yesterday Dave Gavitt passed away and in a terribly cruel twist of fate the league he formed may have passed away with him. Syracuse and Pittsburgh leaving the Big East for the ACC became official this morning. All of which in my mind validates the wisdom of Father Brooks all those years ago.

Where would Holy Cross be today if they had joined the Big East? They would have had to have spent millions to upgrade the football program and to what end? The realist knows that football success in this day and age would not be possible. They can't draw athletes from a whole state or afford a modern stadium complete with luxury boxes like UConn. Holy Cross has an enrollment of just 2,900. Compare that to Villanova who has a student body of well over 7,000. A place like Notre Dame has an enrollment of around 8,500 and is actually considered small by the big-time college football movers and shakers. The cold, hard fact is that the student body at Holy Cross just could not support a big-time program. A BCS Holy Cross would be a joke Holy Cross. What benefit would come from Holy Cross getting whipped by TCU by 40 points? What benefit would that bring to the value of a Holy Cross degree?

People who still wish to believe that Holy Cross should have joined the Big East all those years ago will argue that the Crusaders could have been a basketball member of the Big East like Georgetown or Providence College. They would have a point. But where would that have left the football program which had an equally storied history as the basketball team? People forget that Holy Cross played in the Orange Bowl back when being in a Bowl really meant something. What about the football team? Do they try to exist in between worlds like Villanova? Do they drop the program - again like Villanova? Georgetown (enrollment over 9,000 undergrad and grad combined) didn't have football when the Big East was formed but they have since added a team to compete at the Holy Cross level which I would take as evidence that Holy Cross was doing things the right way.

People say that you are known by the company you keep - yesterday Holy Cross was associating with Harvard. They regularly associate with Ivy League schools and the reputations of the Patriot League schools are pretty much unblemished.

Today the Universities of the Big East are wondering what their future holds and how they could be so betrayed by "brother" institutions. Who is in the better situation?

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Saturday Picks

Thought I'd offer up my picks for Saturday's NCAAF action. As always these are for entertainment purposes only.

Alabama -47 vs North Texas - I really think that when a line goes over 40 points it should be taken off the board. The temptation to run up the score just gets too great and nobody likes "style points" better then Nick Saban. The Crimson Tide may win this one 70-3.

Southern Cal -15 vs Syracuse - the Orangemen aren't that great to begin with and now they have to deal with the distractions of Southern California plus the news that the team may be going to the ACC. On top of everything else - the game is at 8:00 EST which may add in the jet lag factor.

Auburn +3 at Clemson - Death Valley hasn't been an intimidating place for visitors for some time (Clemson is just 1-4 ATS in last 5 home games). Auburn does well in close games plus this is an SEC vs ACC match-up (and I know that the ACC actually does pretty well in those matchups but I think that's due to small sample size).

Oklahoma -3.5 at Florida State - I think Florida State is improving but not quite ready to tackle a team like Oklahoma.

For record keeping let's say that each pick is for a mythical $100.

Good luck.
Abbott and Costello Explain the Stimulus

The dough for loafers is only for unions.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

The Bruins start their preseason schedule in five days and the Patriots look like real Super Bowl contenders. Stories of "panic in Boston" over the Red Sox are way over-blown. Seriously - stop listening to people like Dan Shaughnessy... I had Joe Mauer as a keeper in one of my fantasy baseball leagues this year. He really brought back memories of me taking Dante Culpepper with my first pick in the 2005 fantasy football draft... Dan LeBatard is Highly Questionable really started to grow on me during the week. I hope ESPN keeps it on the schedule... Who knew? The official state beverage of Indiana is water. That does make a certain amount of sense... I saw someone make this point on the Internet and it has really got me thinking. If you replaced the name "Solyndra" with the name "Halliburton" do you think the media's coverage would be different? We would have had about a dozen prime time specials about it by now... Who knew II? Humans have about 650 muscles while caterpillars have about 4,000. So if you called a really muscular person a human caterpillar do you think they will take it as a compliment?
Linky Links

Stuff I found interesting and thought I'd share.

- Wow - our solar system in proper scale. I don't think there's room on the Internet to allow for proper scale to show distance from our sun to the next closest star. We live in an unimaginably big place.

- I'm going to need a handjob first. Real freaking product.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Player Comparison

I've been thinking about this comparison for some time:

Player A 103 R/ 21 HR/ 105 RBI/ .331 BA/ .967 OPS
Player B 109 R/ 27 HR/ 94 RBI/ .320 BA/ .923 OPS

Player A is Freddy Lynn in 1975 - the year he won both the Rookie of the Year and MVP awards. Player B is Jacoby Ellsbury this season. I'd also note that Lynn won a Gold Glove in 1975 - here's hoping that Ellsbury also gets that recognition for his 2011 work.

Pretty damn good.
Gary Johnson for President

Very interesting profile of former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson who is running for President - to be honest before I saw this article in Outside Magazine I wasn't aware of that fact. And judging by Gary Johnson's visibility in the media - I doubt that I'm alone.

The article is pretty long but I found it compelling reading. I do have to admit that this quote pretty much summed up the Johnson for President situation:
“I’m sure it’s nice to think that there is some way he could become relevant,” says Alex Castellanos, a Republican strategist and frequent CNN contributor. “But there’s no way that’s going to happen. Johnson is the Pluto of Republican political planets. He’s just too far out there to sustain life.”

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

It Ain't Worth It - Just Ask Sarah Palin

Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

Tim Wakefield finally got his 200th career win last night. In one of the stranger stats you will see anywhere - Wakefield is now tied with Dennis Martinez for most career wins of any MLB pitcher who never had a 20-win season [EDIT: Martinez actually has 245 wins not 200 - not sure what I was thinking]... Erin Andrew really is in pretty good shape... Exhibit A on why football's QB rating is a lousy stat: Tom Brady threw for 517 yards with 4 TD's but is still just 4th in the NFL in QB rating... Tim Wakefield is also just 2 strikeouts from tying Dennis Martinez for 56th place on the all-time strikeout list. Wakefield now has 2,147 K's in his career... Someday I want to own a nice yacht but I think these are too big. These are more like ocean liners than yachts... Is it sad that when I learned that Kevin Youkilis has a sports hernia but will play through the pain and have surgery in the off-season - my first thought was if he was going to wear a truss (like Fred Garvin - Male Prostitute)... The Red Sox had policeman Steven McNulty sing the National Anthem last night. He was REALLY good. Seeing how the Red Sox scored 18 runs last night (baseball people are notoriously superstitious) - I would expect to see McNulty back at Fenway (maybe for the playoffs)... If I were a pro baseball player - I'd want a nickname like Noodles or Chief. Something old-timey... Heh heh - the Legend of Jim Brockmire... Tom Brady is started by 97% of the fantasy football teams on Yahoo! Sports. What the heck is wrong with that other 3%?...

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Jon Huntsman vs Mitt Romney

While watching the past two Republican candidate debates - I've kept waiting for either Rick Perry or more especially Mitt Romney to smack Jon Huntsman down. The former Governor of Utah likes to pipe in with the line "well when I was governor Utah was first in the nation in job growth." I really want the Mormon on Mormon crime of Romney replying with, "Jon - I know many of the venture capitalists who were responsible for those jobs and you being Governor never even entered into the equation. The BYU School of Business was a much bigger factor in creating those jobs than you ever was. You really should stop trying to take credit for other people's accomplishments."

Then have Perry chime in, "Yeah and how big is Utah anyway? Three million? That would make a nice Congressional District in Texas."

This won't happen and it bothered me until I figured out why. The Republican Party is probably afraid of offending Jon Huntsman - not the guy running for President but his father - John Huntsman, Sr.

Jon Huntsman, Sr. is one of the richest men in the country and he's like the Joe Kennedy of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. No wonder Mitt Romney has been so nice to his son. Don't be surprised if either Romney or Perry end up giving Huntsman a cabinet position down the road to keep the old man happy.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

Kerry Collins replacing Peyton Manning is like Jack Black replacing Bono as lead singer for U2. That concert just isn't going to be the same... Who knew? Monarch butterflies are poisonous. Not so much to humans but they do have a poisonous defense against smaller predators like frogs, birds and mice... Sorry about the passing of actor Cliff Robertson. Interesting fact from his Wikipedia page - supposedly Robertson was a pilot who was flying a small craft the morning of September 11, 2001. According to the Wikipedia page Robertson was flying directly over the Twin Towers when the first plane struck... So after the Texans killed the Colts yesterday - I'd expect record numbers of people in NFL knock-out pools will be taking the Browns next week (they play Indy)... I could see going to a baseball game with a glove but I think you must have "issues" if you go to an NFL game wearing shoulder pads... Suzy Kolber's Mancave would be a good name for a fantasy football team... It is now been 10-years since 9/11 and I think commercial pilots still don't have the right to carry a firearm in the cockpit.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Cascades Karma

There is a series of hiking trails near my house and this past summer I have taken to hiking them on almost a daily basis. The trails are known locally as the Cascades. I have come to know the trails like the back of my hand. The terrain is a woody, hilly terrain crisscrossed with a number of small streams and dells. I mix and match the trails to come up with routes that take about an hour and a half door to door of walking at a crisp pace.

I love making these daily hikes. It gives me a chance to clear my head or give thought to any problem or business situation I may be working on. It lets me work up a good sweat without being overly exhausting. Since I've started with the near-daily treks I've dropped about 10-15 pounds and feel great.

Even the rains of Tropical Storm Irene didn't keep me from hiking. On that Sunday when the storm was passing through the area I made my regular hike. My wife thought I was crazy but I was curious to see the woods during the storm. The rain wasn't that bad and the wind was manageable but the feeling of being out in nature in those conditions was very exhilarating.

This past week we had some very bad rains. The rainfall was actually worse than that of Irene. I knew that when I started my daily walk but the fact really hit home when I saw a footbridge that was near the start of the hike had been washed out. I knew the trails would be wet and slick and in my mind I planned a route that would have me going uphill in a rocky path where I could step from rock to rock with a return path that was at a higher elevation for the most part but that would have one small stretch that would be a steep downhill on a narrow muddy path that was sure to be slick.

As I was nearing that stretch of path my mind wandered. I started thinking about the Boston Red Sox and how their starting rotation had started to implode. My judgement was particularly harsh on John Lackey who had come to the Red Sox as a high-priced free agent. I was wondering if there was another equally bad contract out there that the Red Sox could swap with similar to the Milton Bradley for Carlos Silva trade. When I couldn't come up with a potential trading partner in my mind I started thinking very harsh thoughts about John Lackey. I know that Lackey's mind was elsewhere this season with his wife battling cancer. "Why don't the Red Sox just donate the amount owed to Lackey to the Jimmy Fund and call it a day," I thought. It was unfair that an organization who was so giving to cancer research would be burdened by a pitcher with a box of rocks for a brain no matter what personal issues he was facing. It was unfair, it was...

That's when I slipped.

The path was slick as I knew it would be but I was too busy thinking nasty thoughts about John Lackey to notice. My feet came out from under me. Only my quickly and instinctively reaching out with my right hand to grasp some thorny brush and bramble kept me from having a really bad, messy fall. I could have ended up truly hurt and all covered in mud. Instead I just had some small cuts and thorns stuck in my right hand.

I had to laugh.

When I started my hike that day I knew exactly where the path would be worst. I knew it would be wet, muddy and slippery. But I was too busy thinking bad thoughts about John Lackey to notice. In my mind it was a sort of instant karma.

I hope I've learned my lesson. I will not let John Lackey get to me.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

I'm not a fan of Michigan football but I would consider buying a Wolverine #48 jersey with the name FORD on the back to honor the 38th President of the US... Awesome video of osprey catching fish... When people talk about all-time historically bad trades they always seem to leave out the 1972 trade that sent Steve Carlton from the Cardinals to the Phillies for Rick Wise. Carlton would win his first of many Cy Young Awards the next year while Rick Wise continued to be Rick Wise... I don't know how, but it will... Inventions that didn't quite make it - Spray-on Condoms. Although Spray-on Condoms would be a good name for a fantasy football team or a band... Speaking of good names for a band - Motorcycle lobster!... I have to hand it to President Obama - at least he isn't talking about "Winning the future" anymore... The only words I can think of for these photos is "awe inspiring"... Just heard a woman on a commercial claiming to be "beyond ecstatic". Is that even possible?... I think a good casino prop bet would be "Who takes more snaps from center this year in the NFL - Peyton Manning or Tim Tebow." I think the casino could get a lot of action on that...

Friday, September 09, 2011

Runaway! Runaway!

That's my reaction to the President's speech last night. And I don't think I'll be alone.

Last week I joked that Congress would have to pass the President's Bill in order to learn what was in it. I don't think I was far from the truth. Obama kept repeating "Pass it now" and I kept thinking "Wait - has he even sent the bill to Congress yet?" He said that everything in the Bill would be paid for but that doesn't seem to be the case.

The President said that if they didn't pass the Bill that he'd go to every corner of the country to tell the people the Congress isn't helping them. I was really interested in that claim. I can't wait for Obama to try and schedule appearances in Congressional Districts with close races. I can't wait to watch incumbent Democrats to "run away" from him. It was Obama's visit to Massachusetts that put Republican Scott Brown over the top. You can already see the "run away" in Anthony Weiner's old District. That's supposed to be a safe Democrat district and yet the Democratic candidate is running against Obama.

Last night was Obama's last chance. And he blew it.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Linky Links

Stuff I found interesting and thought I'd share.

- Heh heh - Harry Potter's Resume. It would be amusing to post this on and see if it garnered any job offers

- Where are they now? NFL Coaches Fired Last Season

- It might just be me but my first thought on reading about an explosion of the King Crab population was to suggest eating more King Crab. Pass the melted butter.

- Very touching story. My father the forger. If he slept one hour then 30 people would die. Very powerful history.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

I feel bad for Peyton Manning now but as soon as I see him in any commercial on Sunday I'll wish he was more badly hurt... President Obama is expected to announce a new $300 billion stimulus package in tomorrow's speech. For $300 billion he could easily just buy and The Ladders and claim any jobs gotten through those sites as evidence of the success of his programs... Who knew? Sean Peyton and Mike Shanahan both attended Eastern Illinois University. Brad Childress also went there but he doesn't count... If President Obama really wanted to use $300 billion to jump start the economy - wouldn't it be better just to give every American a $1,000 gift card?... People forget that Bill Buckner was traded to the Red Sox for Dennis Eckersley. If Eckersley had stayed in Boston would the Red Sox have won the 1986 World Series? I think if Eckersley stayed in Boston he would have remained a starter and never would have made the Hall of Fame... I saw a NYDN poll today that asked, "Would you vote to re-elect President Obama?" 71% voted NO... The word "saloon" is just fun to say. "Saaaaa-loooooon"... I have to admit that the new Maryland uniforms from the other night started to grow on me. Sort of like Matt Smith as the new Doctor in Dr. Who... Good question - without the backdrop of a joint session of Congress - how many networks do you think would carry President Obama's job speech tomorrow?

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Linky Links

Stuff I found interesting and thought I'd share.

- Review of Scorcese film on George Harrison. I make no bones about - George Harrison was my favorite Beatle.

- Interesting interview of Shawn Ryan - the man who created The Shield

- Holy crap is this awesome - Johnny Quest stop motion movie

The Tobolowski Files

I have recently become acquainted with The Tobolowski Files and I'm hooked. It it perhaps the best thing I ever discovered on the Internet. Stephen Tobolowski is a raconteur without equal.

You may want to read this NPR article as an introduction to the world of Stephen Tobolowski.

I have Alan Sepinwall to thank for this marvelous trove of hours of entertainment.

Abortion and the 14th Amendment

The 14th Amendment says that no state shall "deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law." The idea is that the unborn have rights too but I see trying to make this argument leading to a slippery slope of unintended consequences.

The idea is to protect the unborn but you know that it is more likely that some in government would use it to exercise more control over the "born". Using such an argument you would have some in government taking away children from parents who smoke cigarettes under the guise of protecting the child's life. Same too for parents who refuse to get children inoculated. What about parents of obese children? Shouldn't the government step in and take the child since the parents obviously aren't providing the child with a healthy diet and thus reducing the child's life expectancy?

Slippery slope and unintended consequences.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

OK I'll say it! President Obama reaches out to Palin supporters... John Lackey has a 6.11 ERA. That's hard to fathom. Andrew Miller has a 5.27 ERA. Well that's understandable since he was considered a reclamation project (can we say a failed reclamation project at this point?). Tim Wakefield has 4.95 ERA. I wonder what he must think when he gets skipped in the rotation and has to watch Lackey and Miller make starts... For Wire fans - wonderful interview of McNulty and Freamon... The trade for Adrian Gonzalez may work out to be a better value for the Red Sox than even the one-sided trade that netted them Pedro Martinez. The main reasons I say this is because Gonzalez seems made for Fenway Park and because the team has him under contract for 8-years while Pedro only played 7-seasons in Boston. It should be noted that Pedro averaged 6.8 WAR per year in his Red Sox career (that's why he's a Hall of Famer). If Gonzalez can average 6.8 WAR he'll have won multiple MVP awards... 10 people who switched careers after age 50 with great success... For no reason whatsoever I am going to try and replace the word "hello" with "ahoy" in my everyday vocabulary... I find it interesting that lists Curt Schilling as the most similar pitcher to Pedro Martinez... I'm a complete sucker for any videos of people wearing those flying squirrel wingsuits.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Red Sox Magic Number - 27

If you played word association with a Red Sox fan and said the word "Twenty-seven" the most likely reply would be "Carlton Fisk". Back in 2000 the new Red Sox ownership group retired Fisk's 27 (Fisk wore 72 when he went to the White Sox as a free agent in 1981). It was a very good PR move as Fisk remains very popular among New Englanders. It also helped heal an old wound. Fisk never should have been allowed to leave in the first place. The old ownership screwed the pooch on that one and the relationship turned contentious. The old ownership waited a whole year before handing out Fisk's 27 to the immortal Mike Brown. Including Brown - 9 other players wore 27 after Fisk left.

I don't have a problem with the Red Sox retiring Fisk's number. He was a local icon. He won the Rookie of the Year and was a 7-time all-star in his 9 full seasons with Boston. I would have issues if the Red Sox wanted to retire the number 26 though.

That number once belonged to Wade Boggs. However, since Boggs left to play for the Yankees 11 players have donned a 26 jersey. The circumstances between Fisk leaving and Boggs leaving were completely different (especially in the mind of fans - no way Fisk ever even thinks of playing for the Yankees). To understand why this is significant consider that when Jim Rice retired - the Red Sox never gave out his number 14 ever again.

Back in June of 2005, Peter Gammons wrote in his ESPN column:
This summer, the number 26 will be retired in Fenway Park and put up on the roof with 1, 4, 8, 9 and 27.
Well it's been more than 6-years and that hasn't happened. And it won't happen. Nobody is out there complaining that Boggs hasn't had his number retired. In fact I think if you asked the average fan they would have a hard time remembering what number Boggs wore. When Boggs played it all about him. His stats, his talking about himself in the third person, his Barbara Walters appearances. Is it any surprise that the only one to care about Boggs at this point is probably Boggs? Personally - I hope to see someone wearing the number 26 next spring training.

As an aside - many people think Carlton Fisk is from New Hampshire and that's understandable since he's lived much of his life in the Live Free or Die state but he was actually born in Bellows Falls, VT. I mention this as a way to bring up the recent damage in the state from Hurricane Irene. If I were President I would redirect all the money that the Department of Transportation is going to waste on "high speed rail" projects and immediately send it to repair the destroyed roads in Vermont. I think if you looked at the pictures I linked to - you'd probably agree.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Linky Links

Stuff I found interesting and thought I'd share.

- David Ortiz's statement making season. I think he's earned a multi-year contract offer at this point. I'd suggest a 2-year deal with a team option 3rd year for $10 million a year.

- Is it a sad statement of the state college football that when I read this article about possible violations at Fresno State that my first thought was "The SEC is where the real money is - the smaller conferences might as well be on food stamps"

- 18 Famous TV Roles Originally Played by Someone Else. The Harry Shearer one really blew me away.

- The 5 Most Depraved Sex Scenes Implied by Harry Potter. I always wondered about the centaurs.

Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

The Baylor / TCU game last night was great but it won't end up being the best game of the year. TCU ended their night on an interception. The best game of the year won't be ending on a turnover... Is the real news that Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong flies Southwest? Or that he got kicked off the plane? Can you imagine his trying the "Do you know who I am?" bit and the airline attendant asking "Then what are you doing on this cheap flight?"... Every year the Heisman Trophy hype is in overdrive the first week of the season. On Thursday it was Russell Wilson that was the darkhorse for the award. This morning it is Robert Griffin III (RG3). Who will it be once today's games are done?... If I had a business I would add a small line item charge to each bill for "opaque retraction". Who would complain? Who would know what it was for?... Brian Kenny was my favorite ESPN anchor. Now he is leaving ESPN for the MLB Network. Good luck to a good guy... Speaking of sports guys on the move - Bruce Feldman freed himself from the purgatory that was ESPN (his sin was not being Craig James) and is now at CBS Sports. On his first day he predicted a 49-17 Wisconsin victory over Nevada. The actual score was 51-17. Way to impress the new bosses Bruce... Unsightly Ear Hair would be a good name for a band or a fantasy football team... I'm looking forward to hearing Obama's upcoming jobs speech. I'm just afraid that we are going to have to pass his Jobs Creation Bill to find out what's inside it. No thanks...

Friday, September 02, 2011


So the government gave a company called Solyndra $535 million in loan guaranty money and now the company is in Chapter 11. I agree that this could and should be considered President Obama's Enron. I also agree that it looks like the company was given special treatment that may have bent or broken some rules or laws. The question now is - what to do about it?

If I was in Congress I would try to introduce a bill that would call for a special charge of $1.73 per taxpayer. If you were a head of household - you would pay that $1.73 for every member of your household. This would be a charge that everyone would have to pay. Doesn't make a difference if you are considered a student or retired and normally would pay no taxes. You would have to pay this $1.73 tax charge.

Where do I get the $1.73 figure? Well if there are 309 million people in America then the $535 million wasted on Solyndra divided by 309 million would equal roughly $1.73. If you made people pay for government waste and money given to special friends then people would start to demand a better accounting of how their tax dollars are spent. Let Solyndra stand as the first step to real fiscal responsibility where government waste would be a real out of pocket expense to the taxpayer.

I'm guessing something like that would whip people into holding their elected representatives accountable. That's why I don't think anything like what I suggest would be possible to pass into law.

Steve Burns from Blues Clues

Very funny yet touching story from Steve Burns who is best known as Steve from Blue's Clues.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Mets Won't Be Selling to David Einhorn Afterall

When I saw the news that the Mets will not be selling a minority share to David Einhorn I got that something stinks in Denmark feeling.

Einhorn thought he had a $200 million deal with Fred Wilpon and the Mets. He had entered into a agreement that had an exclusivity period but was non-binding. The Mets need cash because they were victimized by (though some say complicit with) Bernie Madoff. It should be noted that the Mets have a pretty cozy relationship with baseball commissioner Bud Selig. At around the same time the Mets were having financial difficulties - the Los Angeles Dodgers were also having a financial meltdown. Frank McCourt, the owner of the Dodgers, doesn't have the sort of cozy relationship with Bud Selig that Fred Wilpon enjoys.

The $200 million infusion from David Einhorn would have stabilized the Mets franchise. One wonders if the existence of this non-consummated deal allowed the Mets to borrow cash to get them over the rough spots (and one wonders if that cash could have come from MLB). The story I linked to say that Mets ownership has "provided additional capital to cover all 2011 losses." Really? Where did this cash magically come from? The Mets ownership clearly did not have the money back when they first entered into the deal with Einhorn.

With Einhorn's cash giving the Mets cover - the commissioner was free to force the hand of the Dodgers by basically having MLB take over the team. Now an offer for the Dodgers for $1.2 billion is leaked. And at the same time the Mets get money from nowhere and decide to unilaterally change the terms of the deal with Einhorn to a point where they know they won't be acceptable. The whole thing reeks.

I could be wrong about this but I still think the situation stinks of tangled webs being weaved out of the commissioners office.
Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

Jason Varitek hit a home run last night and now has 192 on his career. That lets him pass (for the time being) teammate Adrian Gonzalez. I wonder if Varitek has let Gonzalez know about this... Awesome collection of pre-1925 sports photos. The auto polo one may be my favorite... In the years to come Francisco Cervelli will have the same impact on the Red Sox / Yankees rivalry that Bob Montgomery had... More awesomesauce - Benedict Cumberbatch (the new Sherlock Holmes on BBC) does an impression of Alan Rickman singing Candle in the Wind... Metallic Snow would be a good name for an all-girl Metallica cover band... Not sure if Roald Dahl was funny or just plain strange... Not a fan of the phrase "unnecessary death and destruction". The phrase infers there is such a thing as "necessary death and destruction"... Speaking of awesome awesomesauce - this NFL special on Bill Belichick looks to be beyond awesome... I'm surprised you never see the show Northern Exposure on re-runs. No TV Land, no A&E, no nothing. It's disappointing... Any truth to the rumor that Derek Jeter dumped Minka Kelley because she shouted "Nomar" at an inopportune moment?...