Wednesday, June 30, 2004
Champions as recently as 1917
It's just incredibly stupid to say that all these Cubs and Red Sox fans have suffered so much over the past 80 years, and then pan to shot of a bunch of drunken 20 year old's in a bar. They're not tortured, they're just on par with anyone who isn't a Yankees or Braves fan. (And yes, Angels, Marlins, and Diamondbacks). So let's please stop with the whole charade of being a tortured sports fan. There are 30 teams in every league, and everyone loses but 1. So unless the leagues decide that they are going to pass around the trophy to each team in a round robin fashion, then that's reality. So please spare me all this tortured sports fan crap. I say we institute Sports Guy's 5 year rule (in which I can now bitch about the Bulls being terrible) and just lump everyone else into the same loser pool.
Monday, June 28, 2004
...and thanks for all the fish
Olive is 25 and playing his second full season, one in which he has shown dramatic improvement over last year: .237/.287/.360/.647 in 2003, .270/.316/.496/.812 this year. He is hitting the ball more and farther, and walking a slight bit more. To play him only 2 or 3 times a week would risk slowing his improvement. I see three options on how to work him into the lineup without putting off Mr. Wilson too much, and still allowing for Olivo's and the team's growth.
1. Use Olivo as a "personal" catcher for our young pitchers. Use him for Nageotte, Thornton, and anyone else that gets the call. Also use him for some or all of Pineiro's starts, as he is going to be around during our resurgence, whenever that may be. Moyer is likely gone, and Franklin should be, if we get a decent offer, so let Wilson stay with the vets. This way our future staff and our future catcher can get accustomed to each other and better prepare them for the years ahead. The downside is that some knocks on Olivo are that he is bad at calling games, and he could learn from working with Moyer, as well as hamper the development of the young arms, who would benefit from the experience of Mr. Wilson
2. Use Olivo with Moyer, Franklin, Pineiro, so he can work with experienced starters and hopefully better learn how to handle a staff from the vets. This leaves the experienced Wilson to help the rookies' adjustment and teach them a thing or two about how to challenge hitters. Unfortunately, this prevents Olivo from developing a rappoir with the young arms of tomorrow.
3. Mix and match. Allow Olivo time to work with the younger guys, while also learning from work with Moyer, etc, while allowing the young pitchers some opportunities to work with Mr. Wilson. This is what I would do. Possibly let Olivo catch Nageotte, Thornton/Blackley/Meche/, Pineiro, every other turn through the rotation, and same with Moyer and Franklin. Or just do it completely randomly, abandoning any strategy I have just taken the time to discuss, and assume that doing so will allow Olivo and the young pitchers to work with both young and old.
Hopefully Olivo will start catching at least half-2/3 of the games immediately, increasing as the season progresses. So long Dan Wilson...
Sunday, June 27, 2004
star trek XII: so very tired
Anyway, in terms of the NBA draft, I was off, by just a little bit. Dwight Howard went to the magic... and stevie franchise and cuttino mobley are still rockets. so what to do? drafting dwight howard was a mistake, I think. Okafor is ready for the NBA, and he'll be a multiple all-star in the East, but probably never be a hall of famer. Does that really matter? dwight howard was just too much of a risk. you MIGHT be getting a future hall of famer, but a LOT of things have to go right for that to happen.
Ben Gordon was the steal of the draft. I think he will help turn the corner on this miserable franchise. I am seriously glad we didn't trade for Harrington, because Gordon is also NBA ready and has much more ... dare I say it... upside than Harrington or some other castoff veteran with a huge contract (Jalen Rose?). I would have been ok with Paul Pierce... but nothing else that was dangled in front of the Bulls. Maybe John Paxson knows his personnel. Of course, I stick by my assertion that Scott Skiles is not a championship coach.
A backcourt of Hinrich and Gordon could be solid... Hinrich has the defense and height to match up with most of the league's shooting guards, and while Gordon may not have the size, 6'2" is tall enough for an NBA point guard. For the love of god T.J. Ford is 5'11" and Jay Williams was a flat 6'0". When are people going to realize that height is not as important as skill? Of course, now the Bulls need to get rid of somebody, because a lineup of Curry, Chandler, Gordon, Hinrich and Crawford and Deng is far, far too young and also lacks a small/power forward depending on what you think chandler and deng are. Look for chandler and crawford to be dangled and almost certainly traded. Anything we can get for them will probably be good... these guys aren't getting any better in chicago. Deng is a solid pick at 7, and he could probably be a good sixth man and role player.
Anyway, a good acquisition week for the Sox and Bulls. Maybe they can both make the playoffs. But I doubt it. Hey, at least we beat the cubbies.
This Just In...
This Just In...
Observations from Safeco
When they put the bloopers video on the screen, I half expected it to be a Mariners 2004 highlight reel.
If he is far enough away, and with just the right light, and at the correct angle, and if you squint your eyes just so, Jay Payton looks a little bit like Rickey Henderson.
Khalil Green is fun to watch in the field. For opposite reasons, so is Rich Aurilia. That high, jumping throw to third trying to get Green in the 3rd inning was quite a sight, and in the 8th he fielded a hard-hit grounder right at him like a high-schooler without a cup.
Frustrating for us: facing Brian Buchanon - he of the .205 batting average - in the 4th with runners at 1st and 3rd and no out, Villone throws 3 straight balls.
Frustrating for them: Facing Ron Villone in the 4th with runners at 1st and 3rd and no out, on a 3-0 count, Brian Buchanon - he of the .205 batting average - swings and fouls it off. (SD announcers probably say he "just missed that one.")
Name of the Game: San Diego pitching coach, Darren Balsley.
Taunt of the Game:
---Hey David Wells!
---Wells turns around
---Buy you a beer?
Actually, I'm not sure if it was meant in taunt. But it was funny.
Now lets play NAME THAT CHEER! Rank in order of volume, highest to lowest, the cheers that resulted from these plays:
a)Fans discover that, yes, the ball is under hat #1.
b)Edgar drives in Ichiro to tie game at 1.
c)Phil Nevin hits long home run to bring Padres within 1 at 4-3.
d)Mateo comes in with 2 on and 1 out, strikes out Phil Nevin and Jay Payton.
e)The time between when Edgar leaves second base up until he is tagged out at home on Spiezio's single in the 6th.
f)Yellow wins hydroplane race. David rubs it in Grandma's face.
Answer: a,f,c,d,b. God bless M's fans.
I have excluded 'e', because it is impossible to separate the cheers from the screams of horror watching Edgar try to score from second on a single.
Saturday, June 26, 2004
THANK YOU, DETROIT!
Speaking of utter stupidity, the P-I also runs a headline about a young chap from Pasco who is good with ball and foot, saying "Hottest prospect in years," with the subtitle "Pasco's Zimmerman hailed as best young American since Adu." Wha? Adu is 15, is 5 starts into his professional career, and really hit the scene last fall. How does an editor let this title make it to the printer?
(Marmar - you shouldn't have changed your predictions. You had Greece over France in the Quarters way back before the tourney began, and then you change that, and look what Greece does. I hope you still have a shot at the 5 grand.)
Thursday, June 24, 2004
we shoulda' seen it coming
p.s. I am still alive! It has been a while since I last posted, but I am well and in Seattle, ready for some thrilling M's/Padres games Saturday and Sunday. My dear Mariners are perhaps the least fun team to watch, but I am excited to see Ichiro!, and also eager to see Brian Giles in person, despite his recent slump (.247 ba, .597! ops in June). He has had a strange statistical progression over the course of the season - at the end of April he was hitting .238 with an OPS of .834, thanks in large part to his 19 walks in the month; he has now raised his average to .277, yet his OPS has dropped to .824.
Euro 04 update 3
Enough bragging about my gambling wins, time to brag about my prognostication skills! Check out my predictions before the tournament before the group stage. Perfection is a state of mind my friends, only for the strong and extraordinary. Why then, am I going to revise my predictions for the final stage? Because the world of sports my friends, is full of evil. Surely Denmark should beat Greece in the final…guaranteeing me thousands of dollars. Unfortunately due to seeding, this isn’t possible, as Denmark would have to play Greece in the semifinals. Screwed by the man yet again.
QF1 England over Portugal 3-2
QF2 France over Greece 2-0
QF3 Sweden over Holland 1-1 (penalty kicks)
QF4 Czech Republic over Denmark 4-2
SF1 England over Sweden 2-2 (penalty kicks)
SF2 Czech Republic over France 3-0
Setting up a final where I either win 255 on England or 100 on the Czechs. We’ll Take England 3-2 in OT…Frank Lampard scores the winning goal.
Wednesday, June 23, 2004
Back to the list, when it came out, I disagreed with some of the selections. But I will respect ESPN’s judgment, and thus wont be reorganizing the list at all, with one exception. I am kicking Secretariet off on the basis that horses and humans are different species of animals. If we aren’t going to count Pele because he isn’t North American, I think we can exclude on the basis of speciation. This exercise will be concerned with updating the list through the present. Whose performances since 1999 have made them worthy of Top 50 status And who deserves to get bumped up the ladder?
Non Major Sports Candidates
Lance Armstrong: Fought back from testicular cancer to win the Tour de France a record 5 straight times. Specializes in destroying European teams in the mountainous stages in the Pyrenees and Alps, where riders go through 150 mile climbs through the mountains. In terms of pure endurance, cyclists are up there with marathoners in terms of stamina…except their races are 40 days long. He deserves it. (#44 after Dr. J. There are now 50 humans on the list.)
Tiger Woods: I know what you are thinking. Golf is incredibly popular in North America. But is it a sport? I don’t think so. If I dedicated myself to playing golf, I think I could get pretty good…obviously not professional level. If I spent every second of my life cycling I might be able to complete one stage of the Tour de France. I don’t think I would be that tired after walking the fairways at Augusta. Regardless, golf has clearly been accepted as a sport by ESPN. 3 golfers made the cut, pioneer Bobby Jones, Arnold Palmer, and Jack Nicklaus. He isn’t at that level…yet.
Mario Lemieux: Had a few good years after 2000 in a comeback attempt, but wasn’t healthy enough to put up peak numbers worthy of moving up the list.
Pete Sampras: Set the record for total Grand Slams, but overall didn’t play as well as his peak. So no boost.
Tim Duncan and Kobe Bryant: Too early to tell for two of my least favorite players in the NBA, for almost opposite reasons.
Shaq: Since this list, Shaq has won three titles, an MVP, and enjoyed a nice 5 year run as most dominant a player. I think Shaq also gets bonus points for being such an athletic freak. Such a totally unfair combination of size, strength, and speed. In many ways, he isn’t a great basketball player from a fundamentals standpoint. He’s game is built around exploiting his athletic superiority. I’ll put him on the list. (#41) Chris Evert gets the boot.
Jerry Rice: Came back to make another Pro Bowl at the age of 87. I’d put him at number 25, just to give him the edge of Montana.
Emmit Smith: Passed Walter Payton to become the all-time rushing leader, but hasn’t had any good year since 2000, and some terrible ones.
Roger Clemens: Who?
Mo Vaughn: You don’t know this, but had Mo not gotten a debilitating knee injury, he was going to be traded back to the Red Sox where he was going to win 4 straight Triple Crowns, 5 straight Gold Gloves, and a stolen base title. Sadly injuries got in the way, and I can’t give anyone, even Mo, credit for fictional events.
Barry Bonds: Since 1999, Bonds has won the MVP three times and been shafted a fourth. He has set the single-season records for walks, home runs, on base percentage, and slugging percentage. He has sped by everyone on the all-time home run list, now closing in on the unthinkable 700. Compared to other players on the lists, his career and peak numbers are better than everyone’s besides Ruth and Mays. I can’t put him ahead of Jackie Robinson at 15 in good conscience. (#16) I also boot Pete Sampras in the interests of keeping O.J. on the list.
So, the Magic have Steve Francis, Cuttino Mobley, and Kelvin Cato. Who better for them to draft than Emeka Okafor? The next Ben Wallace (with a little more offense) could really help shape the Magic into at LEAST a 30 win team. The problem is Mobley is incredibly overrated and Francis doesn't seem to be any less selfish than usual. So bad things are in store for South Florida.
Next up are the Charlotte Bobcats. They have a nice core to build around, solid players like Gerald Wallace and Jason Kapono. Drafting Dwight Howard . He's a supposedly solid prep player with a work ethic better than most. And he's a Jesus freak, so he's got that going for him. But the problem is all HS players are just a roll of the dice, except for LeBron, who we all knew was going to be good (but not this soon). So Howard will give them an extra 10 wins. That puts them around 12 wins. By the way, why didn't Charlotte get the first pick overall? They're an expansion team, a new kid on the block, and you're giving them the fourth pick? I'm sorry, but the Bulls, Clippers, and Magic all have themselves to blame for their fucked up teams. At least Charlotte can blame a terrible owner.
In third place, the Bulls have options upon options. They can draft Deng, Iguodala, or Ben Gordon, or they could trade their pick for a 'veteran' like Al Harrington or they could move down for two picks later in the draft. And for a couple months, we can all pretend like the Bulls are going to be better this year. The fact is that Eddy Curry and Tyson Chandler are going absolutely nowhere in this organization because they haven't earned anything and still started; Skiles wants the team players who fit his system instead of fitting his system around the best possible players (the hallmark of a bad coach); and the only good player we have is Kirk Hinrich. Jamal Crawford has to get the hell out of there. Look for the Bulls to trade for Harrington and give up the pick. Harrington will get 12 pts. and 6 boards a game, and the Pacers will get Gordon or Livingston who will go on to put up huge numbers. But I won't blame the Bulls for passing them up, because if they had drafted them, they would be terrible. Oh well. The Bulls win 25 games, and by midseason, half the team will be gone. Hinrich will have an ever-so-slightly better season, Skiles will not be fired until the season afterwards, and by that time we will have sucked the life out of everyone in the organization, and will have to start rebuilding again- year 8. But I won't complain, because I have six titles in my memory and you all have none. Unless you are a Lakers fan, in which case you have black mucus pumping through your arteries and will soon be dead.
In fourth place, the Clippers will draft Shaun Livingston (if still around) and continue to suck, because they're the Clippers. But seriously... they should have been good last year, and they have the talent to be good this year. What's the problem? I don't know. I blame the coaches, because Elton Brand and Quentin Richardson alone should be enough to win you 27 games. Plus add Corey Maggette and you should have 35 right there. Will Livingston make the difference? I doubt a prep player can do much to add life to this organization, so maybe they should go with Gordon.
Anyway, four picks is enough. I will analyze the draft after it happens.
Monday, June 21, 2004
Euro 04 update 2
Good question, and I’m not going to answer it, so there. I’d much rather tell you about my gambling successes. I’ve been taking Sports Tab to the cleaners, and if it weren’t for Holland’s collapse, I’d be living the good life. Let’s hope I don’t run out of magic before Pro Football Pick Em.
Group A Leg two games saw Portugal bounce back to beat Russia 2-0. I watched Spain Greece at 2 AM, having picked the draw result. Spain dominated the game, scoring on a nifty pass from Raul to Fernando Morientes. Greece was able to snag a second half goal, leading me to scream in delight as several seedy Spaniards glared at me. The Greeks went into New Jersey Devil mode, held on for the tie, and I won some cash. +25 AUD
Next was England Switzerland, where England bounced back from the worst defeat ever to claim a 3-0 victory. 18 year old Wayne Rooney scored the first goal, and pocketed another. Rooney has played well this tournament, and the English press is exploding in their praise for him. Think Luke Walton after Game 2 of the Finals times 100. I like him because he has the look of a burly, ugly, drunk, wanker, and he gets into scuffles all the time. He’s not that great a player however. Naturally, some team like Chelsea will pay 100 million for him and he’ll be run out of soccer by 25. Not a bad life. I’d take it.
France drew with Croatia 2-2, only through cheating. Croatia scored two second-half goals for the 2-1 lead, but France struck back after David Trezeguet controlled a ball with his hand, then put it past Croatia’s keeper. This goal cost me 73 dollars, as I had bet on Croatia to win outright. I demand an investigation. Luckily I had also tabbed a parlay of England to win and Croatia to win or draw, so I still ended up +11. England needs to tie or to beat Croatia to qualify. Hopefully the Swiss
Group C saw Denmark beat Bulgaria 2-0, sending them home and Sweden tying Italy 1-1 on a sick goal by Ibrahimovic (doesn’t sound Swedish to me.) He basically posted up the keeper, leaped into the air and volleyed the ball behind him over a defenders head. Plus I had picked that game to be a draw. And Denmark to win. Let the good times roll. +30 dollars.
Group D Latvia drew Germany 0-0 in a typical German borathon. Even I couldn’t make it all the way through this match (it had nothing to do with the 5 whiskey tonics before going out,) Holland took a 2-0 lead on Czech Republic going into the half. All they need to do is hang on and I win 100 dollars on a parlay of them winning and Latvia covering. But no. They give up 3 second half goals to the Czechs. Tragic. -20 AUD.
Leg three of Group A also happened, a tense game between Portugal and Spain, the winner moves on, loser goes home. Portugal hadn’t beaten big brother Spain since 1981. A great second half goal gives Portugal the lead. Both teams miss golden chances, with Fernando Torres hitting the post for Spain, and Portugal missing two point blank headers. In the end, Portugal hangs on. Greece loses to Russia but advances due to more goals scored than Spain. Spain, the talented losers yet again. Why didn’t they play Morientes?
Still, I won 16 on Portugal, lost 10 on Greece and Russia to tie, but won 27 on Greece to qualify for the quaters, 14 on Portugal to qualify(after the game 1 loss), 15 on Czech Republic to win their group and 11 on Portugal to win their group. Fantastic. +73
I’ll do revised predictions after the last group matches.
Friday, June 18, 2004
I didnt want you anyways Barry
But what about the charges leveled against my hometown? I don’t think Boston is any more racist than other cities. I may be biased by living in the most racially diverse part of the city, but the only other city I lived in, (St. Louis) had a much greater segregation of residence (where the color of the city changed the second you moved north of Del Mar Boulevard or east of the Church’s Chicken.)
Of course, I am certain that Bonds has not done research on Boston’s residential patterns, or interviewed minorities living in Boston, but is rather relying on the historical racist image surrounding the Red Sox. Sadly, the perception is deserved. The Red Sox were the last team to have a black player, waiting all the way until 1959 12 years after Jackie Robinson. In that time we passed on signing Robinson himself and Willie Mays (Bonds’ godfather.) Even after that, theories abound that there was an unofficial limit on the amount of black players on the team at 5. Charges of organizational racism did not end until the Duquette regime of the mid 1990s, and we’ve still never had a minority manager.
More important from Bonds’ perspective is the tenuous relationship Boston sports figures have had with the media and fan base. Certainly this antagonism has extended to Boston’s white players as well: no player has been the subject of more hatred than Roger Clemens. But there is a tension with regards to the minority players that shouldn’t be there. Part of this is the nature of the accusations: minority players like Pedro, Manny, Jose Offerman, are inevitably accused of being lazy or spoiled by newspaper columnists and the talk-radio crowd. Manny has been a case-study in unintentional race-based stereotyping: portrayed as a naturally talented, if lazy and absent-minded, player who often doesn’t play the game the “right way.” Of course, we really have no idea how hard Manny works on the game, or how smart he is. No one has quoted his SAT scores or IQ. He does things like not run out grounders, or have a drink with his best friend who happens to be on the Yankees, and the media (and then the fans) go crazy. Meanwhile white players like Trot Nixon and Jason Varitek are portrayed as hustling players, adding “intangibles.” Trot had a play where he threw a ball into the stands with two outs, and it got little mention. If Manny had done this, it would have been frontpage worthy.
Part of this is due to Red Sox fans sick need to turn on their stars after a few years, when they inevitably decline. (Fans can’t get over the fact that Pedro is no longer pitching like the greatest pitcher of all-time as from 1998-2001, but only the best pitcher in the league, as in 2002-3.) Then, the players leave the team with bad blood, and two years later fans and sportswriters are reminiscing about how we should have kept them. It’s a sick cycle, one which I refuse to participate in. That’s why I want to keep both Pedro and Nomar, if just to break this trend. To prove that stars don’t have to leave the Red Sox dissatisfied, as Clemens, Boggs, Vaughn did, and as it appears Pedro and Nomar will. Because whether or not Boston is a racist city, the perception is out there that it is not a good environment for minority athletes to play in. And it will take a shift in the behavior of fans, management, and the media to accomplish this. Sadly, it’s a shift that I don’t see happening anytime in the near future.
My first love
I have been playing video games since I was able to form coherent memories, so I feel I have a lot of experience. Mostly in PC games, but right now let's discuss consoles.
Right now Sony holds the lion's share of the console market, with something like 60-70% of console owning households owning a PS2, compared to like 40 and 20 for the Xbox and GameCube. However, recently, the Xbox has started to outsell the PS2 which I feel can be directly linked to the fact that the Xbox is the newest and most powerful console of the three. Microsoft is really leveraging their deep pockets to sell Xboxes (they take a loss with every one they sell) and recently announced that the Xbox 2 will be out before either the Nintendo Revolution or the Sony PS3. This is very bad news for Sony, who plans to release their PS3 in 2007, almost two years after Xbox 2 comes out. By the time this happens I believe that Microsoft will have wiped Sony off the map.
How can Sony expect to go almost 7 years between updates of their flagship console? The PS2 already shows its age in graphics quality and now game quality, and to wait another 3 years for an update is like market suicide.
The problem is that Sony thinks of itself as a hardware manufacturer (its strength since it sells TVs, VCRs, computers, etc.) However, Sony Entertainment, the group that heads up PlayStation development, is almost a separate entity and should be able to make decisions based on a much shorter timeframe. By the time PS3 rolls out in 2007, it will be like they are entering the video game market anew. And from what I've heard about the learning curve for making games for the PS3, this is not a good thing.
The Xbox 2 will be the first console out, it will sport new graphics, (which people have been waiting for since... the last Xbox), and now that the Xbox is the top-selling console, Microsoft will be able to translate these sales into Microsoft loyalty and encourage them to buy Xbox 2, especially if Xbox 2 is backwards compatible with Xbox.
And ah, of course, Nintendo. Nintendo has to fill a niche market if they want to keep up with the big boys. Nintendo might have to make the switch to a software-only company if the Revolution fails. But if they are able to make the Revolution a separate product, they won't really be competing with Microsoft or Sony at all. People will buy Nintendos AND Xboxes. And they can accomplish this by not going head to head with them, but by creating a totally different kind of console that uses some crazy interface or makes games somehow different than we are used to (control pad and tv). And I think they are already headed in this direction as shown by the Nintendo DS, which sports dual screens and a stylus.
Anyway, that's my take on the console wars. More on PC games later.
Shameless plug to new demographic
The Past: Despite the fact they won no title, the Mariners have had a fantastic last decade, especially for a franchise that was the Expos of the late 80s-early 90s. Really, the Mariners had all you could ask for; a consistently competitive team with charismatic, engaging superstars, who always had some problem holding them back from year to year. (Just like the Sox!) Mariners fans can take solace that, when they are sitting on the porch in their final stages of life, they can wax poetic to their grandkids about how they saw the great Griffey, Johnson, Rodriguez, and Suzuki play in their day. Sure those pesky Angels fans might have a ring to brag about, but what players are they going to bring up, David Eckstein? (has anyone ever met an Angels fan?) Plus winning titles from 1996-2000 was impossible anyways, as God had decided Satan’s jurisdiction extended from hell to include the American League playoffs.
I took a liking to the Mariners, they became my second favorite team in the MLB. I loved Griffey like everyone else, liked Edgar and Bone (especially because he used to puke in the outfield,) and thought A-Rod was a sniveling little weenie years before everyone else did. Plus you kindly gave us Jason Varitek and Derek Lowe (want him back?) for Heathcliff Slocumb. And Pedro shut you out like 10 straight games. And you never beat the Red Sox in any important game or series, so I didn’t have to blacklist you.
And then came 2001, and the great 116-46 team. God how did you guys win so many games? And how did you lose in the playoffs? A quick look at baseball-reference gives me the answer: you started Aaron Sele (your highest paid player on team) in game 1 of a playoff series. Such a shame, then we wouldn’t have to put up with this 1998 Yankees creaming.
The Present: David Harris, our resident Mariner fan, informed me the other day that the M’s had a worse record then the Devil Rays. The Curse of Lou Pinella? Ok maybe not. Now I realize the Mariners play in a pitchers park but right now you have 2 guys slugging over .400. Even Joe Morgan could tell you that’s no good . For all the griping about Ibanez, he’s been your second best hitter. Unfortunately, Spezio has performed to expectations. That is to say terribly. Sadly it appears that several veterans like Edgar, Boone, Aurilia, and Olerud all hit the age-wall in the same year, (or had to stop taking steroids.) You guys are the 2003 Raiders of the MLB.
The Future: The M’s got problems. You can’t expect the old vets to improve too much. Moyer has to retire soon. Garcia is a free agent and on the trade block. Unfortunately I see this rut lasting two to three years. What you need is good management, someone who spends money on David Ortiz rather than Spezio, stockpiling low cost, high production players. Trade Freddy if he’s not going to resign. If he does, build around him and Pinero. Get some power in the lineup. You have a great city with great fans, when the time comes, spend the money on a great player. (Beltran?) The times may be tough, but I don’t see you returning to the days of Alvin Davis.
Thursday, June 17, 2004
M's suck. That includes Malone
Out of CEOs listed in the Russell 1000 Index, 261 have made contributions to the Bush-Cheney campaign, while only 36 have donated to Kerry’s campaign. Meanwhile, Kerry has raised $269,385 from employees of Ivy League colleges – almost half coming from Harvard, while Bush has raised $28,851.
First let me say there are problems with these numbers. Mainly, they are comparing two different sets of information; which way this presentation skews the info and by how much is tough to guess, and tough to look up for someone as lazy as myself. Also, even given symmetrical data, this is no way to base ones decision in the upcoming election.
That said, with whom would you rather be in agreement? I mean, sure, if I was trying to pick the perfect person to carry my clubs or shine my shoes (wow, that was absolutely accidental alliteration(I wish I could say the same for that)) I would side with the businessmen; but when its time to chose a leader of our country, I’d like to have a bunch of those smart people also prefer the guy I’m choosing, especially if the choice is an absolute divide between Ivy League professors and rich business tycoons – not that those Ivy League schools can hold a torch to a certain inconveniently dubbed midwestern gem.
Also consider this: Karl Malone, 2000 to Bush. I rest my case.
Edit: if someone can tell me how to make the lines in the sidebar somewhat less than gigantic, please let me know. thanks.
Wednesday, June 16, 2004
Ahh the summer.
But the Pistons were a fun team to watch, though I probably will only remember Ben Wallace from this entire series as doing anything memorable. And how did Chauncey get MVP? You could have replaced with any guard in the league and he would have done similarly. Also, how come Larry Brown looked somehow disappointed to have won the title? It's like it would have meant so much more if he had won with the Sixers in '01, or maybe the 100 other teams he's coached. Very weird. I've never seen anybody smile less during a trophy presentation.
And now there is nothing but a gaping hole in sports, with MLB left to fill in. At least the ChiSox-Cubs games are upcoming. But after that there is a huge hole that somehow, the WNBA just doesn't fill.
But now I have to wait another 2-3 months for the following:
OC Season 2
Dark Tower 7
Life with David Harris
How can I make it through the next two months with nothing to live for? Maybe I can channel all this boredom and find a job. But probably not.
time for something completely unoriginal!
Linguistically, the Axis alliance of Germany and Japan wasn’t so strange; they were united by their use of “Ah so.” Maybe Mussolini misheard it as “prego.” Yeah, probably not.
The Mariners recently selected Matt Tuiasosopo with their first pick in the 2004 draft, 93rd overall. Now, this Tui isn’t such a highly rated prospect (unless you count QB), but, none the less, I am both excited and upset about this pick. The Tuiasasopos are one of my favorite families out there. If you ask my friends, they might say I had a bit of a crush on Marques, as he was a stud at UW, a stud in NCAA Football 2000, and a stud on my franchise team in Madden 2003 (though so were both Damon and Brock Huard); anything else about the man can be summed up in two numbers: 300, 200. Middle brother Zach struck me out in summer ball. And now younger brother is the Mariners first pick. I hope he makes it to the bigs so I can have another Tui obsession. The problem is that he is rated by most as a top 5 high school quarterback and had signed to play at UW. I would have liked to see him lead the Huskies for a few years; my friends, unfortunately, will be spared.
It very much bothers me when people call chimps and other apes “monkeys;” I must exert great restraint to not sound like a jackass and correct people. So the other day at the zoo, when I heard a dad correcting his 5 year old kid who kept saying “look at the monkeys daddy, look and the monkeys,” while pointing at bonobos, I turned to my girlfriend and gave her a huge grin of satisfaction. She replied with a very different look.
What’s so wrong with picking your nose?
What does it take to turn up on a Google search?
Larry Brown’s wife is friggin’ hot. I mean, Larry Brown is a cool guy, but he’s 63.
Apparently Chauncy Billups’ Meaning of Life was to be NBA Finals MVP. “What can I say? God is good. God is really good, and he put me here for a reason, and this was it.” Now that he’s fulfilled his mission, why is he still alive? I mean, if his life is going to end now, I’m sure the Pistons would like to know as soon as possible so they can start looking for a new point guard.
Sam Cassell is older than Latrell Sprewell. Does this shock anyone else?
Linda Cohn is just awful. Of course, so is John Anderson, John Buccigross, and John Kruk, Stuart Scott is a cheap imitation of his old self, and Karl Ravech hasn’t been the same since he laid to rest his fabulous “ONErunwillscore…TWOrunswillscore.” And if I hear Steve Beurthiaume bleat out “SAY CHALLO TO MY LILL FREN” one more time, the population of Bristol, CT, is going to take a dive.
If Al Gore was president, and he pressed for and went to war in Iraq in the same way President Bush has, would conservatives still support the war and liberals still oppose it? Sadly, methinks no.
If you haven’t had Graeters Ice Cream, you haven’t lived.
I’ve never been less excited to come home to Seattle and go to some Mariners games. Though seeing them in person may be strangely captivating. At least I get to see three intense games against our passionate regional rival, the San Diego Padres!
I became a lifetime fan of England’s football side when I watched David Beckham send them to the ’02 World Cup by completely dominating a qualifying match against Greece, scoring the equalizer in injury time, in a packed basement of a pub in London. As Beckham scored on a penalty from just outside the box, hands shot in the air, as well as the beer in them, and the room was suddenly turned into a song and dance fest in a rain of beer dripping from the ceiling. Anywho, I get Fox Sports World in my cable package. So why oh why do they show Italy v Denmark and France v Croatia?
I am a huge fan of the semi-colon; not so much of the colon.
Tuesday, June 15, 2004
Euro 04 update 1
So I walk into the seedy Agincourt Hotel at 230 AM and join my fellow lowlifes to watch the game. I am delighted to see that Portugal is controlling possession, holding the ball entirely in Greece’s half. Then they flash the score Greece 1-0. There goes my final score bet (Portugal 2-0) out the window. Fantastic.
Soccer is like hockey, in that a team can play a defensive game, allowing the other team to control possession without creating good scoring chances, waiting to capitalize on mistakes for a quick goal. The Greeks are doing their best New Jersey Devils impression, defending, getting in the way, playing ugly but effective soccer. They are coached by a German, what’d you expect? At the beginning of the second half, Portugal’s coach Scolari decides his team might have a better chance if he puts his best players on the field. He brings in Deco, the midfield whiz for Champions League Porto to provide some creativity. Unfortunately he also brings in Cristiano Ronaldo, the 19 year-old Manchester United prodigy. CR’s first move is to commit a foul in the box against a Greek counter-attack. 2-0 Greece. He then spends the rest of the game beating the Greek midfield down the left side of the field with fancy dribbling, and then crossing the ball directly out-of-bounds. A meaningless goal in injury time means 2-1 Greece and good bye money. Spain does beat Russia in the late game to stem some losses. Earnings: -41 dollars.
Undaunted, I return to the TAB to place money on Switzerland-Croatia and England-France. I watch both games on replay. Switzerland-Croatia is a boring affair that ends in a 0-0 draw. Croatia misses a few point-blank headers that would have won me 20 bucks. Instead, its another loss. Going into England-France, I have won nothing, need something, and have picked a draw, with a 5 dollar side bet on Chelsea’s Frank Lampard to score the first goal at 17-1. Lampard finished the Premier League on fire. Can it carry over?
Yes it can. Lampard gives the Poms a 1-0 lead over the Frogs by putting a brilliant Becks cross in the back of the net. Overjoyed, I decide to give up the draw and just root for England. And they are playing well. Their d holds tight, shutting down Henry and Trezeguet. A counterattack by 18-year old Wayne Rooney draws a penalty kick. Becks steps up to take it, but balding bastard Barthez saves! Not a terrible kick by Beckam, on net at least, just a great save by the Frenchie. Still with 20 minutes to go England is looking good…until Emile Heskey gets substituted in for defensive purposes. I am sensing doom; this would be like putting Manny Ramirez at shortstop. I just know Heskey is going to blow it somehow. In injury time, fate strikes, as Heskey commits a foul 19 yards out, right in front of the goal. Zidane puts away the glorified Penalty Kick. 1-1.
Tough game for the Brits, but at least they got a point out of it. But wait, Fate is not done with them. Midfielder Steven Gerrard in a time-killing move attempts a backpass to the keeper. A lame play but safe play, except he forgets to kick the ball hard enough. The ball rolls limply to a stop at the 18 yard box where Henry runs onto it. British goalkeeper David James is forced to take him out in the box. Penalty. Zidane again. Game 2-1 France.
Just brutal for the Brits, one of the worst losses I have seen in my days as a sports fan. Becks is taking the lion’s share of the blame from the British press for the missed PK, which he doesn’t deserve since it was Gerrard’s bonehead play that cost them. Becks was also the best player on the field for England and responsible for their first goal, but if you’re the man like he is, you’re going to take the heat when the team falls. Still England can easily qualify if they can handle Croatia and Switzerland, two inferior sides. I see the French losing to the Croats to make it hard on the Brits though. Never trust the French. I will be rooting for England all the way: they are too similar to the Red Sox. They always blow it in big competitions, they have a rabid fanbase that obsesses over every mishap and creates enough bad karma to cause the team to lose. Just my kind of side.
Due to schoolwork and my own wussiness I missed the opening Group C and D games. Sweden crushed Bulgaria and Denmark and Italy drew. I had tabbed Sweden and Denmark, so came out even. Group D saw the Czechs beat Latvia 2-1 and Holland and Germany draw. I won a parlay on Germany and the Czechs, but lost on the Germans winning outright. Lampard’s goal makes me up for the tourney so far. All in all, an average opening set of games with one spectacular classic. Will be interesting to see if Portugal and England can rebound, I think England can, but Portugal could be in deep trouble. They have to beat Russia tonight, which they should. Another report coming after the second leg.
pitching, pitching, and less pitching
“I know that back in the early 1990s when the pitching here really struggled…the scouting department and the front office decided we were going to focus on pitching”Sherwin mentions that of the M’s first 10 picks each year from ’91 – ’00, 64 were pitchers – a pretty heavy ratio. He also points out that during those 10 years the M’s used their first pick a whopping 6 times on pitchers. Wow. What a strong focus on pitching. He also lists those picks – a couple of them haven’t yet had a shot in the majors, but its still damning to know that out of those first-pick pitchers, Shawn Estes has had the best career.
Regardless of that useless tidbit thrown our way, the focus of the article is on the Mariners organizational plan to go after pitching pitching pitching. And yet, the article ends with this from VP of player development and scouting Benny Looper:
“I don’t think our depth is quite as good as it was, but we have more guys closer to the big leagues.”Huh? This whole article is built on praise for the Mariners’ decade-long focus on pitching, on how they have horded as many hurlers as possible, yet we’re not deeper than we were. Does this mean our scouts are terrible and can’t find pitchers talented enough to stick around, despite drafting 2/3 of our top ten picks each year to pitchers? More likely, the arm injuries seemingly inherent in the M’s farm system have depleted the stockpile, and only due to sheer force of numbers do we have a bunch of nearly Major League ready talent. Shouldn’t they notice this? If a columnist contacts Looper and says, “hey, I’m writing a story on the M’s farm-groomed pitching talent and how you have drafted many more pitchers in the last decade than you used to,” and Looper responds, “I don’t think our depth is quite as good as it was,” I hope he notices and is as stunned by this contradiction as I am and tries to figure out why this is so. Also, the M’s position player talent throughout the minors is mightily lacking. It may be a good idea to focus heavily on pitching – especially since young arms are very tradeable – but it comes at a sacrifice of hitting depth, eminently noticeable in the M’s organization. And now our VP of player development says we are not very deep in arms? It is fun to be a Mariners fan!
In other news, the Mariners are in Milwaukee. Maybe a foul ball will catch Bud Selig off-guard, and in an awe-inspiring move the owners select our own Marmar as the new commissioner, who quickly implements his fixes to the game. (he then appoints me as a deputy and i fix his fixes)
things at which i am better than randy winn
How many times have you seen an outfielder, in a tag-up situation, camp right where a fly ball is coming down and catch it over his non-throwing shoulder? Far too many times – and this is doing every possible thing wrong besides letting the ball hit you on the face, which is what they deserve for these unforgivable mechanics. Some players will wait behind the ball and catch it on the run, and the announcers always commend them for their mechanics. But catching it on the run isn’t much better if you run 3 or 4 more steps before getting rid of the ball. It isn’t that hard to catch it over your throwing shoulder while starting your crow-hop – I know it isn’t, because I can still do it, and I’m a washed up former JV utility man (seriously, I was Mark Mclemore before Mark Mclemore was Mark Mclemore – second, short, third, left, first, I was there. Along with the singles.). The first step that should come down after catching the ball is your plant for the throw, and you should have momentum. This is done by high-schoolers all the time. How does it get lost on major league all-stars?
The relay – ahh, the relay. I loved relay drills, because I loved getting rid of the ball quickly. Even easier than a fly ball. You should definitely be moving when you catch it, and should be in the air. Catch, plant, throw. Not that hard. Yet I can’t think of any time I’ve seen this done, even by players who are amazingly quick at turning the double play (my Dad insists Boone is quick on the relay; I can’t recall). Really, as you are hopping, the ball should hit your glove, drop into your hand, and as you come down you should be getting rid of the ball.
So where does this get lost? When do coaches stop teaching their players? Even if guys in the majors are bad, these things should not take long to learn. A few days of practice and you should have the hang of it.
Edit: I bet I could take Winn at counter-strike too.
Monday, June 14, 2004
What Happened to You ESPN?
Of course Page 3 is a symptom of the shift of ESPN from Sports Network to Enterntainment network. Nowhere is this more evident than in the metamorphisis of Sportscenter, no longer a highlight show, but a promotional tool, with spots like "The Budweiser Hot Seat" taking the place of actual games. There is also a of games in the primetime schedule, as the channel opts instead for such worthless shows as "Dream Job." Most annoying has been the website's insistance on falsely promoting other ESPN enterprises, such as the hype around the terrible "Season on the Brink," movie, or devoting an article trying to claim that ESPN Football was better than Madden 04 (yea fucking right.)
The latest incidence of this has been the rediculous hype concerning Larry Bird's comments on a show which is...of course, about to be televised on ESPN. Suddenly espn.com transformed itself into covering this non-story. All to boost ratings for the show.
One of the articles I came across while surfing the website at this time was written by Ralph Wiley, one of the worst columnists on the entire site. Wiley has for years been running an angry black-man spiel, which somehow gives him the right to write unintelligable columns about the NBA, O.J. Simpson, and other issues involving black people. Since he is black, he must know what he's talking about! Who cares if his points make no sense and his writing is atrocious?
Here is an article that personfies both Wiley's incompetence and ESPN.com's downfall. It concerns Wiley writing about a sports-related issue...no wait it concerns Wiley writing about Eminem in 8 Mile. http://espn.go.com/page2/s/wiley/021111.html And that has to do with sports how? And Wiley is qualified to write about Eminem's place in rap why? Is he a noted rap historian or music critic? Of course not. But he is black, so therefore he must know about rap right?
Uh not at all. Wiley admits he is no hip-hop expert, but says, "I kind of understand social madness and like music, and am nearly certain I understand lyrics."
But Ralph, or should I call you Road Dog, you are bereft of any factual knowledge about the subject at hand. Right after this line he attempts to prove his knowledge by giving an example:
"There's no comparing Biggie to Tupac, not without intimidation from the Biggie crowd (ok let's give Ralph to back up this assertion)-- all of P.Diddy's underlying tracks are just bites, Herb Albert's "Rise," or Diana Ross' "I'm Coming Out," (Actually Ralph, Puffy doesn't make any beats, and saying this about Biggie's music implies you need to try listening to the entire album instead of just the singles.) Biggie's house-music (buttery-Jamaican voice overlaid; Tupac, on the other hand, along with Dr. Dre, formed original beats and tracks (Uh, Ralph, Dr. Dre (and 2pac for that metter) had nothing to do with making 2pac's beats "California Love," aside, in fact Pac wasn't on Death Row until his last album,) and lyrically, he described an entire universe, not just one inhabited by Cristal, crack and 'hos (See, if you'd listened to Biggie's first album, you would have heard songs like "Everyday Struggle," "Warning", or "Suicidal Thoughts" and wouldn't be making such an ass out of yourself. Plus "I see the Same Ho" really speaks to me). Ever heard, "I Ain't Mad At You"? (Yes, Ralph, my question is, where do you hear it? Once coming from your son's bedroom? Is this why you claim to know so much about rap?) You should. And who hasn't bounced along to the less reflective but joyful "California Love"?" (Interestingly, the beat from "California Love" is a direct rip-off of the 1988 Ultramagnetic MCs song "Funky," off the classic hip-hop album "Critical Beatdown." Of course you've never heard it, so you can't realize how hippocritical it is to blame Biggie for using samples and then praise this song. Ralph, you need to learn that sampling is part of all hip-hop music, its how you mix various samples that determines the music's vitality.)
As in any Wiley article, the article becomes an analysis of (as with whatever topic he happens to be writing about) the movie and Eminem's impact on race relations. Other than being factually incorrect and poorly written, my question for ESPN is, why is this on a sportspage? Its one thing to have Wiley writing about sports' impact on race...but a movie and a rapper? ESPN has stretched itself too far: its only a matter of time before a website offers more interesting content and analysis and blows ESPN out of the water. Like say...this one?
(Note: This was written on June 13th. Ralph Wiley died on June 14th. I am publishing the final version of the article anyways, but I wanted to make clear that this article was conceived and written before he passed on.)
more on race
Now, I'm not saying Bavasi, Lincoln, Gillick, and co. are white supremacists who don't want African-American ballplayers, but that possibly within the M's front office there is a latent racism that is repesentative of our nation at large. Earlier this year there was a big flap over American Idol voting, the cherry on top being Elton John calling up the press to complain that the voting was racist. Now while I don't agree that people are calling in their votes thinking "gotta give the white girl some votes - can't let her lose to those back-talking black divas," I do belive race was the main reason some people got voted off earlier than they should have, and some people survived longer. (well, that and insane Hawaiians). I think because of peoples underlying and even unknown prejudices they weren't able to see the obvious talent discrepancies between some of the contestants, or even seeing those, didn't like when the black girls showed some attitude - attitude they probably would've loved from a white contestant. Some of the African American contestants were obviously much more talented than others, and that they got voted off early is a sign to me that this country still has a long way to go. I can't see any other explaination. At least Fantasia won.
Sunday, June 13, 2004
Racism and its sometimes-ugly and sometimes-not head
Racism in the US is a problem that is largely under wraps. There are pockets of real hatred here and there, but most racism today is bred by ignorance. Most of the 'racist' comments we hear today aren't made by racist people, just people who aren't aware of what they are saying. For example, Bill Parcells' recent comment about "jap plays"? Is that really a racist comment? Or is it more of a nationalist comment? Is there a difference?
Like everything else in the world, there is a sliding scale between racism and nationalism. Nationalism is racism to some extent, and racism is nationalism to some extent. If there nations were a little more homogeneous, would it reduce the amount of racism in the world? Could we make it so that nations were more like states within the US? Would globalization help this at all? Homogenization of the world culture has its benefits, too, I would guess.
But racism comes in many forms, and we have home-grown racism that has no nationalist roots. Racism in the US is a problem of prejudices and counter-prejudices. How can we deal with these problems?
First, let me say that I think any discussion of race at all is racist. Especially as people become more and more mixed-race and less identifiable, even describing someone as a certain race can be racist. Obviously no one is going to jump on your back if you describe some as being black, white, or asian. But the precedent has been set for everyone to see each other in terms of color. And when it has become ingrained in our minds, it is hard to remove.
I would hope that people stop seeing people in terms of race at all. Race is not something to be celebrated, culture is. Too often people get that confused, creating situations where all the black people and all the asians are sitting together at the lunch tables, even though the black group consists of native Africans as well as 'blacks' who have been here since slavery began and are probably half white; and the asians have some third generation Chinese people as well as recently immigrated Filipinos. It has nothing to do with heritage, it has only to do with skin color.
The problem is that this can't stop through one group alone. You can't pretend not to notice racial differences when another group is discriminating them. If a company is only hiring white people, the minorities can't sit back and not notice it. With racism, it doesn't take two to tango.
And even worse, what can you do when other racist groups and nations are actively trying to destroy you? It's not an easy problem, and it is obviously tempting to fight back; in some cases violence is all that is left in the options.
But I don't think counter-racism and violence as a policy is the right idea at all. In homage to Dr. King and Gandhi, I think passive resistance to such problems is the key. Violent response against racism is far from over: Malcolm X and more currently, Israel, use violence-against-violence methods, and in the end it just serves to discredit their cause and further deepen racist policies against them.
Kill 'em with kindness, I say.
Who They Like
Rob Neyer: 600 to Edwards, 350 to Dean, and 297 to Kucinich
More than to whom he gave, I am intrigued by the numbers. He must have developed some sort of election-shares statistic, adjusting for speechwriting staff and home state, to get that 297 for Kucinich.
Bill Gates: 2000 to Bush
Quite the philanthropist, especially in Africa, I’m guessing he’s a little put off by the way a certain democratic president siced his Justice Department on Microsoft.
strong>Don King: 2000 to Gephardt, Mosely-Braun, and Bush
I don’t know.
Charles Barkley: 2000 to Edwards.
I always thought he was a conservative. Maybe he still is, but just can’t stand Bush. I’d love for them to meet in a bar with thin windows.
Bill Walton: 2000 to Kerry and Edwards
I’m surprised there’s no Kucinich here, since he’s the one most likely to push for legalization – especially considering his endorsements. Maybe Walton is waiting for the Grassroots Party nominee.
Chuck Norris: 2000 to Bush
Is anyone really surprised by this?
Alex Rodriguez: 2000 to Bush
Took a turn to the dark side after the 2000 season and has not looked back. What, does he need those tax cuts on his 250 million? Good god, if the upper tax bracket rates went back up the extra money from this man alone could probably buy the bullet-proof vests that have been the center of the pettier of the defense spending arguments. Speaking of, is that too much to ask from those who make over 100,000 a year – a little more in taxes to buy some vests for those soldiers you pretend to support as a veil for your desire for lower taxes. (calm down david, calm down).
Come back for more in the future! If I knew how to make a list in the sidebar, I’d keep them there. Unfortunately, I don’t. I did, however, find a way to post pictures, though finding a way to fit them into the template in a more aesthetically creative fashion eludes me.
Saturday, June 12, 2004
The best sporting event of the summer
So who is going to win? What to expect? Lets breakdown the tourney
Group A: Portugal, Spain, Greece, Russia.
Portugal and Spain are the favorites, Portugal because they are the host nation and immesnely talented, Spain because their team is stacked as usual, and because the Spanish League is generally considered the top league in the world. I would love to see the Greeks pull some upsets in this bracket, and there team won their last 6 quailfying matches without giving up a goal, including beating Spain in Spain. But evidently half their squad is suffering from some injury. Still, I'll pick them in an upset to get by
Portugal wins group, Greece advances
Group B: France, England, Croatia, Switzerland
The French are favored, because they have the best players in the various leagues. Zidane has won World player of the year three times, and Robert Pires and Patrick Viera were key midfielders on Arsenal's undefeated Preimer League squad (no team had gone undefeated in over 100 years.) Up front, they have Thierry Henry, also of Aresenal, who was won EPL player of the year. Of course, the same team was also favored to win World Cup 02 after winning Euro 00, and lost all three games. Oops. This is a huuuuuuge tournament for David Beckham: in the last two months Real Madrid blew the Spanish Cup, the Champions League (to Monaco,) and the Spanish League, and two women came out and said they had extramarital affairs with Becks. Of course if he leads England to the title, all charges will be dropped. Too bad his team has question marks at goalie, an injured central defender (Chelsea's John Terry,) a suspended central defender (Rio Ferdinand,) and an 18 year old starting at forward (Wayne Rooney.) Still England's midfield is stacked. These are the two most interesting teams in thr tourney, and the ones getting the most press. Croatia and Switzerland aint in their league
France wins group, England advances
Group C: Italy, Denmark, Sweden, Bulgaria
Italy is one of then favorites as usual, with a plethora of talent of front and in back. They should have won the last tourney, if not for a defensive gaffe by legendary defender Paolo Maldini. Their midfield is weak however, and their coach seems committed to playing Alessandro Del Pierro for some reason. Denmark and Sweden are both quality sides, with Sweden getting a recent boost from Henrik Larsson's decision to return to international compeition. I would love to see both Scandanavian teams take out the Italians. Why not predict it?
Denmark wins group, Sweden advances, my brother in true Marshall fashion gets arrested for making fun of Italians after they lose to Bulgaria.
Group D: Czech Republic, Germany, Netherlands, Latvia
This is supposed to be the group of death. The Czechs are hot and killed their qualifying group. The Dutch have one of the most talented sides, though they can't ever seem to get it together (same old story.) The Germans just lost 5-1 to Romania...who didn't make the tournament. But of course they were also supposed to do terrible in the World Cup and made the final. So naturally I am picking...Latvia! Ok maybe not. I dont see the Germans making to much noise, for in 2002 they had the "hot goalie" in Oliver Kahn. He had a bad 04 for Bayren Munich. If he is off his game, the Germans will get embaressed, to the delight of Germans everywhere, who couldnt stand that such a poor side as the 02 squad nearly won the world's biggest trophy.
Czech Republic wins group, Netherlands advances
Just for kicks I'll throw out my other predictions, which I will revise after the first round.
Quarters: England over Portugal, Greece over France, Czech Republic over Sweden, Denmark over Netherlands
Semis: Greece over England, Denmark over Czech Republic
Winner: Denmark over Greece 1-0
If this happens, I win 5 grand. I might be slightly biased
Seriously though try and watch some first round games if you can. There are some great matchups. And hopefully by 08, it will be televised in the U.S.
Friday, June 11, 2004
i couldn't resist
Cerebral himself, Young reads actual novels -- he's devouring The Da Vinci Code now.
Susannah Dean or Hermione Granger?
Wait this blog isn't about my platonic (yea right) women fantasies. Its to help you readers organize your thoughts through listening to my sophisticated opinions. So I'll give you two, one on the Harry Potter III, and one on Dark Tower VI: Song of Susannah.
Harry Potter III has gotten better reviews then its predecessors, and it might be a better movie, but it left me dissatified. The kids are growing up, and the actors and characters are more human. Major problem though: The third book is where J.K. Rowling took off and turned the series from classic children's lit to classic popular literature. When you read the books, you go along with Harry, Ron, and Hermione through the entire year. You can't recapture that in a 2 hour picture. Of course, this problem will only get worse as the movie directors have to go from cutting 400 page books into two hours to having to cutting 700 page books. In this installment, they had to skip over so much stuff, (like winning the house quidditch cup! and where the fuck was Cho Chang?) and rush through the rest till the end. So the plot twist at the end feels totally contrived, as does the relationship Harry builds with Lupin, which is the key to the book. The last half hour was good though, and credit goes to the actors, especially Daniel Radcliffe, who was much more likable as our little hero. Of course, Emma Watson totally outshined him, and as Ben Helms rightly pointed out, will soon be taking over from the Olson twins as queen for the perverted lovers of underage girls crowd. (of which I am most certainly not a member.)
So that's one disapointment for the Marmaniac. Luckily Stephen King stepped up to the plate for Dark Tower 6. Like Stuart said, King got back to what made the first three books so good, straight storytelling, good action sequences, great characters. Susannah dominates this book, and in many way the entire series has now transformed from Roland's story to Eddie and Susannah's story (since it let's King keep Roland mysterious, even through 6 books.) She was at her schizophrenic best. What didn't I like about this book? Let's put it this way, J.K. Rowling probably won't be introducing herself as a major character and god-like figure in Harry Potter VI, as King has chosen to do. To King, when you read this, I say Watch Out! By doing this you are threatening to ruin the entire series. Also, I wish there had been a few more surprise sthat I thought came totally out of left field, as happened routinely in the first three. King inserting himself into the book was probably his idea of a surprise, but it just didn't cut it.
The book has a great cliffhanger ending, and I can't wait to find out what happens in the last book, which comes out in September. It will, as Stu said, make or break the series. But no matter, for the tower is closer.
So who am I more in love with? Well Susannah's taken, although Ron is moving in on Hermione (total garbage, Harry should be all over that shit.) Susannah is also a sistah, which gives her bonus points, but Hermione has the English accent. On the other hand, Susannah could call me "sugar." What it comes down to, is would you rather have your girl be a gunslinger or a witch? I'll take witch thank you very much, a gunslinger would be too likely to kill me.
Verdict: HP 3: You'll probably like the movie better if you haven't read the books. Grade: 3 out of 5 stars
DT 6: Excellent book, but don't even think of reading it if you haven't read the first 5. DO NOT go buy the first 5 however, go get them from the library or borrow them from a friend. Lord knows King doesn't need the royalties since this book cost me 60 FUCKING DOLLARS. Greedy ass bastard. Grade: 92/100, the third best Dark Tower book after 2 and 3.
Thursday, June 10, 2004
Book Review: Song Of Susannah
But here's my one sentence review. It's the best book in the series.
King gets back to the roots of what made the first books so compelling and the last one so not: cool action scenes interspersed with good character development. And now he actually writes a little better than when he was 25 (not expected but still sometimes surprising).
King manages to pay homage to Being John Malkovich, Pale Fire, Magnificent Seven/Seven Samurai, Fight Club (sorta) and somehow makes them all work, even the oddly-out-of-place pop culuture references that didn't work in Wolves of the Calla but somehow all fit much better together in this one. I am not going to give anything away to those who want to read it later, but my whole complaint about Book 5 might be nullified by Book 6.
And the action is great, recapturing the gunbattles of the first two. And all the while still laying down all the philosophical and religious head-turning riddles and questions. There's also something about splitting the whole team up that just makes it even more edgy and interesting as they all hurtle towards the final book and conclusion of the story.
The bottom line is that King seems to have returned to grace, and he really seems to want everyone to believe that this is his masterpiece and swan song. He's convinced me, at least.
Its been a long time
In more globalized world, I might be able to stroll across to Coles and get any American cracker I want, in any part of the world. But is that something I really want? Sure I miss Wheat Thins and wing sauce, and Natural Light. And when I go back to the States someday, you can be sure I'll be stocking up on Tim Tams before I leave.
But who does globalization really benefit? With the huge exception of the internet, the benefits to me are small. The benefit I and all my other American invaders get is the ablilty to consume recognized brands. Of course the brands that make it to Australia are the mega-brands, McDonald's, Kmart, etc. If these companies weren't in Australia, I wouldn't give two shits (I actually hadn't been to Kmart before I got here.) Exportation of America involves selling the conveinent and comprimising quality, not anything you or me could be proud of, like J.P. Licks Ice Cream or a Mom and Pop Greek Pizza joint.
This trend is not just in business, but culture. What music gets played in Australia from the U.S.? The superficial crap you hear on KISS 108 and TRL of course. What TV shows does America take from Europe? Why the lowest common denominator reality shows, American Idol, Big Brother, etc. Anything that is in the least bit cultured, that could really teach you something about another people and another part of the world, is of course deemed unmarketable.
Thats the key, its not the individual that gets to benefit from globalization, to explore the immense diversity and complexity of the world and the human race. Rather globalization finds the consumer, in a branded, pre-determined package meant not to offend or stimulate, but to be easily consumed. That's why the internet is the exception, because the individual can control the websites he/her visits to some extent.
Worldwide, who will globlaization benefit? Global Corporations, who will be able to more easlily outsource work from high income countries to lower income countries. A few, small, emerging nations who will be able to benefit from this sperading of business, as long as they can keep local stablilty.
Who won't it benefit? That's a much longer list. First of all, it may lead to a shift in the natural rate of unemployment in countries like the U.S. as firms move employment out of the country. Second, the two Giant Asian Countries; China and India, might not benefit as much as we would imagine, because they have too many damn people. If you were able to build in China population of 300 million that consumed as much as the U.S....that would leave 1 billion people left over to feed. Imagine the U.S. with another 1 billion poor people. You think they'd be down with W's tax plan? Or care about the benefits of lifting trade restrictions? They'd care about getting some fucking food. Look at India, where a booming economy still got the BJP voted out for the socialist INC, thanks almost exclusively to the poor vote. Third, Globalization isn't really globalization. It leaves out little parts of the world, like Africa. Or the Middle East (oil reserves excepted.) Why? Because there isn't enough profit in these countries. For these countries, its a Catch-22. Fail economically, and you have millions of starving people. Start to build some economic growth, and foreign companies will see you as profitable and sweep away an local businesses. As these countries have slightly more corrupt governments than most western countries, the common person does not get the benefit.
Capitalism is the credo of the day. But it needs some serious opposition. High GDP isnt everything. There is something called culture, a unique story and attitude of people, that we may lose in our eagerness to maximize profit margins and create brand equity. Will it mean the end of human beings? Doubtful. Will it make my life alot more boring? I think so. Look at the dependence, the addiction of people today, to television, to alcohol, to drugs, to pop culture. Is this culture death what we are running from? Is Globalization a spreading of the disease throughout the world?
I'm gonna go smoke a bowl and think about it.
Wednesday, June 09, 2004
Rich Aurilia: Secret Interleague Weapon
Heard tonight on ESPN’s broadcast (thank you blackouts! Instead of seeing cincy/Oakland – although that is most likely a more exciting game – I get to watch the M’s): “you just know Melvin is going to blow his lid right now.” Ha.
OTHER THINGS I FEEL LIKE SAYING
That home run by our Secret Interleague Weapon was fair. The replay shows it disappear behind the solid part of the foul pole, but you can see it through the mesh fence part – shocking, I know. At worst, you can’t positively call it foul from that shot. However, the announcers, I assume because you can see it through the mesh, say how conclusive the replay is and that it was clearly foul. This incident aside, why are all announcers so terrible?
Well done by Freddy to get out of the 8th after two pop-up singles, one that Winn should have had and one that was luckily placed. That’s an inning that used to eat him up.
I hate Kobe Bryant.
Go-Go White Sox
At least they just hit three home runs in the bottom of the first. And then gave up all three runs right back in the top of the second. Looks like a good old fashioned shoot out is developing.
Anyway, I leave Australia tomorrow and go home to Illinois to start my search for a real job. Hopefully I won't half-ass it like I half-ass everything else, and I will get a high-paying, interesting job very soon. If you know of any, please tell me. I'll do anything.
Tuesday, June 08, 2004
Luck the Fakers! Ha! Take that FCC!
THINGS I DID NOT KNOW
A player like Brian Cook, or, say, Brian Cook himself, can get minutes for the Lakers in the Finals.
Rick Fox is still a Laker. I didn't say he still plays for the Lakers, but he's still there. Actually, I'm not even sure if he is a Laker; he could just be sitting in the first row behind the bench in, say, an authentic - nay, replica - Brian Cook jersey.
THINGS I DID KNOW
I hate the Lakers
I hate Kobe Bryant
I hate Rick Fox
I'm sick of the Lakers last second shots - Horry, Fisher, Bryant, Bryant...
I hate stupid stats, such as: the Lakers are 26-7 when Kobe and Shaq both score at least 25. Good. Good for them. Good for the statisticians who pieced that one together. Give them a raise.
I'm a congenial kind of guy
p.s. I hate when the Mariners, down 1-0, get a leadoff triple in the 8th from John Olerud - his first since '01 - and can't get him in. I also hate Roger Clemens. However, I do love bitching.
Sunday, June 06, 2004
M's Win! M's Win!
Speaking of Melvin, I am really starting to believe he’s not as dumb as we all think. I posted recently about the possibility of him being either an idiot or a undeservedly loyal company man, and I think it is more the latter, and I think we will hear more dissent from him in the future. I don’t have much to support this notion, but I believe it because of one thing I saw tonight. In the 7th or 8th inning ESPN showed a shot of Melvin looking over the lineup card on the wall, pen in hand. The shot was mostly from behind, but what you could see of his face was definitely the sunken, dementor-just-sucked-my-soul scowl we all know and loathe, and he was sadly, slowly, shaking his head. His eyes must have been focused the list of his available hitters. Edgar had been used, and left was Cabrera, Bloomquist, Borders, and Santiago. Enough to make any manager cry. His body language screamed “I took over a successful, money-making-machine of a team, and this is what they give me?” Of course, he could have been simply thinking that they all are bad bunters, or how to use more pitchers than Ozzie Guillen tonight.
Way to manage yourself to a loss, Mr. Guillen. After burning Mike Jackson, he masterfully set up the Marte/Edgar matchup instead of Jackson/Hansen. (ok, it worked). Then instead of sticking with Marte, he uses Takatsu to face the fearsome righties Cabrera, Pop-up Aurilia, and Wilson. So when its time for Koch, who’s no guarantee, to close it out, he’s left with no good options bail him out and has to watch Koch melt away during what must have been a confusing inning for a pitcher. A few hits, baserunners stealing every other pitch, the crowd getting loud – no wonder an unreliable closer started missing the strike zone. Combine the pitching changes with 3 bunts in the first 4 innings, and I think we know whos notes he’s been stealing to get a leg up in his freshman season.
Random post-game thought – I can imagine how Henderson, Rizzs, and Fairly are still gabbing about how this game will turn around the M’s season and could vault them on a winning streak that will put us in contention. Thinking of that made me laugh when, taking a more cautious route, John Miller on ESPN says “Whether or not this will mark a turnaround to their season remains to be seen.”
Wednesday, June 02, 2004
on trucks and things
Lawsuits have gotten completely out of hand in the last decade or so as many people seem to prefer to blame someone else for their idiocy, lack of willpower, or any other shortcoming or mistake they aren’t happy about, and companies have rightfully taken steps to protect themselves from frivolous suits, often putting obvious disclaimers on their products, such as “caution: this hot cup of coffee, made with boiling water, may be hot.” There. If you spill and burn your pinkie toe, you can’t sue – you were forewarned. Though stupid and obvious, these are a necessary response to the unfortunate reality that there are very stupid people in our country who harm themselves in very stupid ways, and many of them are stupid enough to believe that it was the fault of someone else rather than their very own stupidity. But what does this company think it is getting by saying “hey, we aren’t responsible if a brick or something jumps out of our poorly covered dump truck and smashes through your window while going 70 on the freeway.” That can’t actually afford them any legal protection, can it? I think I’ll start wearing a sign on my back saying “warning: caution: not responsible.” That should just about do it.
A few minutes after passing this truck-o’-immunity, I thought I heard this on the radio from some female pop type: “…put my hand down between your legs and said it’s small, but it’s really not at all.” Help me out – is that really what I heard?
In other news, I’m watching a show about ninjas right now. God bless cable.