Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Mea culpa

Manifesto

After reading much more about the devastation and having a good e-mail conversation with reader O, I would like to almost wholly retract my tsunami/hurricane post, instead of the simple strikethroughs I added yesterday. While the death toll may not be anywhere near the same order of magnitude, the devastation is close to if not the worst ever seen in the U.S. New Orleans and Biloxi have nearly been wiped off the map. From my privileged vantage point in New York it was quite easy for me to say it is not the same as the Tsunami, but for those actually living through these horrors, I'm sure it is. This makes the comments of Mayor Holloway all the more appropriate as current estimates are that 90% of his city was destroyed. Thus, for Biloxi, this was similar to the Tsunami, perhaps without the accompanying loss of life. While that does distinguish the two events, and I don't necessarily agree with his quote, there are definite similarities in devastation that shouldn't be denied. I was far too quick to assume Mr. Holloway had one meaning (a deplorable one) when perhaps he intended another (a more reasoned opinion.)

This is one of the pains of blogging. I let my rash emotion get in the way of reason, logic, and understanding. Not every statement made by every person is done so out of ignorance, incompetence, or inconsideration. It was far too cynical of me to jump down Mr. Holloway's throat for his comment. I showed a total lack of compassion and judgment. I'm sorry.

"If you would let me talk!"

WHATEVER

Do you think this guy was feeling a little pressure? CNN weatherman Chad Myers flips out on Daybreak anchor Carol Costello. My favorite part is when he throws down his script. Of course it happened at 4:32 in the morning, but thanks to the internets, everyone gets to see it!

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Sorry, I have to do it

Manifesto

Wow, the media is really just that racist.

Screw my nitpicking about inappropriate comparisons. That is mildly troubling but perhaps explainable. The only thing that makes this less troubling is that the captions are by two different media outlets. Maybe AP is consistent and calling everybody who is looking for food a looter and not just young black males. Either way, as Atrios points out in another post that I'm too lazy to link to, looting is the last thing to worry about right now, whether it be clothes or food. But taking food doesn't exactly feel like looting to me. Given how deadly the media is telling us this storm was, I think taking food is actually called SURVIVAL.

A Wee Bit of Overstatement

Whatever

So I understand the region has just been devastated by one of the most disasterous hurricanes in history, but this quote from the Mayor of Biloxi seems to be a little overstated:
"This is our tsunami," Biloxi Mayor A.J. Holloway told the Biloxi Sun Herald newspaper, referring to the December 26, 2004, tsunami that killed more than 226,000 people in the Indian Ocean region.
Especially when you consider that, so far, the estimated death toll is 68. Even if the destruction is comparable, which from what I read and see it is not, the comparison is completely inappropriate and makes me extremely sad.

Have They Done It Again?

WHATEVER

I called this one a while ago. Apple and Motorola are about to introduce the new must-have gadget of the year, the iPod/cell phone combo. Can't wait to see what it looks like. Of course it only works with Cingular so I can't get one. Bastards.

Prison Break (REVIEW)

UNIVERSAL REMOTE

Prison Break is the best new show on television. It is the best action/thriller/conspiracy show since the brilliant 24. If you missed the two-hour premiere last night, you MUST catch the encore this Thursday at 8 on Fox. In the age of Tivo, there are no excuses.

Of course the whole thing is preposterous. Michael Scofield (Wentworth Miller) commits armed robbery and pleads no contest so that he will be sent to the same prison where his brother Lincoln Burrows (Dominic Purcell) is a month away from being put to death for killing the brother of the Vice President. But Michael is not your ordinary criminal, he is a structural engineer that worked for the company that was sub-contracted to build the prison and has the blueprints to the maximum security facility hidden within a full upper-body tattoo. And he has thirty days to bust his brother out before he is put to death for a murder he didn't commit.

Sounds crazy, right? Once you get past this set-up, the show really cooks. There are about half a dozen other subplots the creators of the show have skillfully balanced including corrupt guards, the imprisoned mobster (Fargo's Peter Stormare) that runs everything, Secret Service agents that seem willing to do anything to keep the execution on schedule, the older prisoner that may be the legendary real-life criminal D.B. Cooper, the prison doctor (Sarah Wayne Callies) that is also the Governor's daughter, white-supremecists that are planning a race-war in the prison, and Lincoln's ex (Robin Tunney), who also happens to be Michael's lawyer, who is following the clues that may lead in directions the Powers That Be don't like because it may lead her to the ever-present Bigger Conspiracy.

It sounds like a lot, and I guess it is. But it is superbly done. Well acted, well shot, well directed (by fauxteur Brett Ratner of all people) and superbly written (by Paul Sheuring), Prison Break has the potential to be a great show. And for me, the best part is knowing that Michael and Lincoln have to escape. They'll be on the run, hiding from Government Spooks who are up to no good. And they are going to take other prisoners with them who may or may not help them. The possibilities are almost endless.

In an era of television where it seems like every other show is a procedural, it is exciting to find a show that may, in the end, take advantage of television's greatest asset: the endless story. Instead of starting over from scratch every episode (like on the awful Law & Order and CSI: franchises/knockoffs), shows like Prison Break (and 24 and Alias and Lost) instead build week after week to something very different from where they started in week one. Prison Break looks like it is going to be a fun ride.

(And if you don't know anything about D.B. Cooper, definitely follow the link. He committed one of the great unsolved crimes of the 20th century.)

Monday, August 29, 2005

Odds are...

SPORTING GOODS

Baseball Prospectus has a cool feature where they run a Monte Carlo type simulation of the remainder of the season. Based on records, the records of teams you are playing against, with a small nudge given to home field advantage, they simulate the rest of the season 1 million times.

With that methodology, they rate the Red Sox as having a 79% chance of making the postseason this year. I would not take those 5:4 odds! Meanwhile, they rate the Yanks as having a 48% chance of making it, with the majority of those odds coming from the chances that they win the AL East. This is because the Indians soft schedule gives them a 47% chance of winning the Wild Card.

If the season played out in its most likely form, the Red Sox would open against the Indians, with the White Sox hosting the Angels.

Over in the NL, the Mets have a 39% chance, including being rated as the most likely team to pass the Braves in the East. At 22%, they fall just short of the Astros' 24% chance of winning the Wild Card. We'd have Braves-Astros, Cards-Padres if the odds played out. Yawn.

You can see the whole list here. But as the old saying goes "they don't play the games in a super computer that runs a million outcome Monte Carlo simulation!"

The Terminal (REVIEW)

UNIVERSAL REMOTE

The wife and I missed Steven Spielberg's The Terminal when it was in theaters (or rather, avoided it) so when I saw it pop up on HBO in HD I decided to give it a try. I am a huge admirer of Spielberg, especially since his creative rebirth in 1993 (Jurassic Park, Schindler's List). With the exception of Amistad and the awful dinosaur sequel, his films have been almost uniformly excellent. (I even loved the much-maligned Artificial Intelligence: AI, calling it the best movie of 2001).

That being said, The Terminal is a pretty mediocre effort. I won't go too much into the plot (eastern-European gets stuck at JFK when his passport becomes invalid due to political unrest and is forced to live in the terminal for a year or so) other than to say it is mostly just a series of episodes with Tom Hanks (doing a pretty good accent to my ears) making friends with all the scruffy/adorable/multi-racial workers in the airport, having a completely unbelievable romance with Catherine Zeta-Jones, and running into trouble with security head Stanley Tucci.

When a movie doesn't really work, I often find myself paying attention to things other than the plot. Tucci, in an almost unforgivably banal role, actually brings some life to the proceedings with his impeccable timing and hilarious slow burns. His expressions of annoyance and inconvenience are a small symphony of petty frustrations. He has a wonderful way of keeping his voice perfectly even while at the same time communicating exactly what he is thinking. Other than that, the movie is pretty much void of anything else worth writing about. For Spielberg or Hanks completists only.

"I guess I should have pitched a no-hitter"

SPORTING GOODS

So the Mets, in all their infinite wisdom, have decided to put Steve Trachsel in the bullpen and give his spot in the starting rotation back to the wildly inconsistent Victor Zambrano. The move is even more puzzling because Trachsel is unable to warmup quick enough to be utilized in relief. Zambrano, on the other hand, can. And he has the experience. So in effect, the Mets will carry an extra pitcher they cannot use except in, according to Willie Randolph, an "extreme emergency."


Zambrano (7-10) and Tom Glavine (10-11) are the only two starters on the Mets with losing records, but Glavine has been victimized by lack of run support and is far better than his record would indicate. Since August 1st, Zambrano has made only 2 quality starts out of five. "He threw the ball well last time out and won the ballgame," manager Willie Randolph said of Zambrano. "He's been doing this all year, pitching relatively well for the most part. I challenged him to step up and do a job for me. He did, and he gets the ball."

Relatively well? That seems like a pretty low standard. And who cares about his last start? That is hardly an indication of how he is going to be down the stretch. Admittedly, Trachsel has only thrown 8 innings since coming back and no one expects him to be the second coming of Sandy Koufax, but he at least deserves another start after only giving up 2 hits.

Is there any other team in contention that would make a move this stupid?

UPDATE (4:55 pm): From ESPN:

Buster Olney reports the Mets and Red Sox have discussed a trade that would send Trachsel to Boston. The Mets are said to be asking for a relief pitcher from the Red Sox in return for Trachsel, but could also consider either John Olerud or Roberto Petagine, both first basemen. Trachsel, who pitched eight shutout innings in his first start of the season last Friday, is presently a part of the Mets' bullpen.

Chill's got it right. These deals suck for the Mets.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Welcome to the Suck

UNIVERSAL REMOTE


Another great movie poster with my favorite tagline so far this year. View the trailer here.

Broken Flowers (REVIEW)

UNIVERSAL REMOTE

Bill Murray is famously off the Hollywood grid. He has no agent, no PR flack, no nothing. If you want to speak to him, you have to call an unlisted phone number he gives out to practically no one. You have to leave a message because he never answers. If he wants to call you back, he will. If not, you have to try again. If too many people get his number, he changes it. I'm not sure what you do when that happens. But if you're determined to have Bill Murray in your movie, you have to figure out something.

Luckily for Jim Jarmusch, Murray returned his call because it is hard to imagine anyone else playing the role of Don Johnston in Broken Flowers. Don is an aging lothario who latest life-in girlfriend (Julie Delpy) has just left him. The same day, Don receives a pink letter in the mail from another ex saying that he has a grown son who may be trying to find him. The typed letter is unsigned and the postmark is too faint to read. Don shows the letter to his mystery-obsessed Ethiopean neighbor Winston (Jeffrey Wright) who takes an interest. He tells Don to make him a list of possible women that could have sent it. Winston then uses his detective skills, tracks them all down, and makes travel arrangements for Don to visit each one.

The rest of the movie is basically Don visiting four different very different women (played by Sharon Stone, Frances Conroy, Jessca Lange and Tilda Swinton) trying to figure out which one is the mother of the son he has never met. The frustrating thing about the way the story is told is that Don never asks any of the women about the letter or if they sent it. He brings them each pink flowers (that match the pink stationery the letter was written on) and asks them if they have a type-writer and tries to judge their reactions.

Jarmusch's story-telling style is a good fit for a minimalist like Murray. His movies move to a different rhythm than just about anyone else's. His scenes are slowly paced but often very funny without any real jokes. He takes the time to allow certain little absurdities come to light. I never really laugh when I watch a Jarmusch film, but I usually have a grin. So I was disappointed with Broken Flowers because I never really grinned. The movie is never really funny, despite the presence of Murray. The performances are are uniformly excellent (especially Murray and Wright) but seem let down by the narrative. The film can be seen as sort of a spiritual companion to Lost in Translation but not nearly as good. There is just less meat on the bones here.

While it seems many critice have just discovered how good Bill Murray is, I take pride in the fact that he's always been one of my favorite actors. Since his brilliant sad/funny performance in Wes Anderson's Rushmore, critics have finally been giving kudos and recognizing the skill of his minimalist performances. After receiving his first Oscar nomination for Lost in Translation, directors have been falling over themselves trying to get him in their movies. Jarmusch is lucky to have landed him for Broken Flowers, it's just too bad they didn't get more out of the collaboration.

Friday, August 26, 2005

I'm funky like a monkey

WHATEVER


Those crazy Europeans! To demonstrate man's importance on the planet's ecosystem, the London Zoo is adding 8 humans with a human zoo exhibit over the weekend. They say they'll wear fig leaves and "be kept entertained with various forms of enrichment." Whatever that means. I'm not sure exactly if this will demonstrate what they want, but it's weird enough to be interesting. In fact, sounds a little like Big Brother or Real World. Like those reality shows, they had to apply to get in. I love this entry from a veterinary student:

"I'm funky like a monkey and as cool as a cat, talk more than a parrot, up all night like a bat," it went.

"I got a laugh like a hyena but get the hump like a camel, so cover me in fig leaves as I'm the ultimate mammal."

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Outclassed

SPORTING GOODS

I'm not sure why I expected anything different. If I had only considered the facts before having some hope that an MLS select team could hang with Real Madrid.

The game was at Real Madrid, in front of a rabid crowd. The MLS players had traveled to Europe, and had been in Spain for only 36 hours before kickoff. Real Madrid is only one week from kicking off the season, certainly in decent form. The names on Real Madrid - Beckham. Ronaldo. Zidane. Raul. Roberto Carlos. The names on MLS - Donovan. And um...Clint Dempsey? The MLS team was represented by all teams, meaning most guys had never played together. Real Madrid has Michael Owen and Guti coming off the bench - both of these guys would be the best player in the MLS, by far. Hell, at least the first 15 players on Real Madrid would be the best player in the MLS.

In the end it wasn't pretty. And it was too bad, because I think that a real team, like the New England Revolution, could have fared better than this team of stars that don't play together. So it was probably a step back for the reputation of our budding league. But the good news was, its fans got to see one of the best teams in the world.

And as ugly as the 5-0 outcome was, there were some really pretty moments by the home team. Maybe next time Real Madrid invites a US squad, we'll give them a game. Maybe.

Headline of the Day

SPORTING GOODS

And he didn't even win the money. Poor sap. Penny should pay him anyway.

Marlins Suspend Batboy for Milk-Drinking Dare
On a dare, a Florida Marlins batboy tried to drink a gallon of milk in under an hour without throwing up. But not only did the batboy not succeed in the challenge, his mere attempt cost him his job for six games[...]

The Marlins suspended the unidentified batboy for the team's upcoming six-game homestand against the Cardinals and Mets from Aug. 28 through Sept. 4 for accepting the dare Sunday from Dodgers pitcher (and former Marlin) Brad Penny.

Penny offered the batboy $500 if he could drink a gallon of milk in less than an hour before Sunday's game without throwing up. Penny told the paper the boy drank the milk and didn't throw up, but didn't finish the gallon in the allotted time frame to win the dare.

"It's kind of ridiculous that you get a 10-game suspension for steroids and a six-game suspension for milk," Penny told the Herald.


Beautiful


UNIVERSAL REMOTE


Hands down the best movie poster since Out of Sight.

On Writing

Whatever

I am by no means a terrific writer. And I find editing my own work to be both tedious and nearly impossible. Once it is written, I find it hard to change. But now that I write for a living (sort of), I've been noticing bad writing a lot more.
In October, though, he plans to move to an apartment near the university that they are planning to buy.
How this sentence slipped by an editor at the New York Times just baffles me.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Plain Old Crazy (UPDATE)

MANIFESTO

So Pat Robertson has apologized for calling for the illegal assassination of the President of Venezuela.

Fine.

It should all be over now, right?

Guess again. Despite video evidence to the contrary, Robertson is insisting he never used the word "assassination."
"I didn't say 'assassination.' I said our special forces should 'take him out.' And 'take him out' can be a number of things, including kidnapping; there are a number of ways to take out a dictator from power besides killing him. I was misinterpreted by the AP [Associated Press], but that happens all the time," Robertson said on "The 700 Club."
Those crazy AP guys! They've mistaken interpreting with transcribing. They should have interpreted their own transcription, then they would have known what Robertson really said...in his heart.

As my friend Scott said, that's the great thing about these religious nuts. They don't have to accpt fact that they don't believe in.

UPDATE: The video link doesn't seem to be working. Go here and there is a link if you want to see this guy make a jerk out of himself.

The Race Card

Sporting Goods / Manifesto

Fueling my peculiar fascination with race, I was interested to read L.A. Dodgers of Los Angeles centerfielder Milton Bradley's comments about teammate Jeff Kent:
"The problem is, he doesn't know how to deal with African-American people," Bradley said. "I think that's what's causing everything. It's a pattern of things that have been said -- things said off the cuff that I don't interpret as funny. It may be funny to him, but it's not funny to Milton Bradley. But I don't take offense to that because we all joke about race in here. Race is an issue with everything we do in here.
Now you can take Bradley's comments at face value, you can take them as an attack on Jeff Kent, you can discount them because Bradley might actually be crazy, or you can do what sportswriter Michael Ventre does and blame Bradley for exposing Kent's racism. Check out the logic of his column (if there is any):
Of course, racism exists. It’s everywhere, although usually well hidden. It seeps out in subtle ways. It remains a scourge of our society.

...

Kent could have a white sheet with eye holes in his closet, for all I know.

...

But Bradley should not have allowed his concerns about Kent and race to become public. He should have gone to Kent, man-to-man, and challenged him if he was upset. If a donnybrook ensued, so be it, although they probably would have had to fight to the death because it’s unlikely any of their teammates would come out of the trainer’s room long enough to break it up.

Although I will concede that Kent is a red-assed loner who has a few demerits on his personal record — like the shoving match with Barry Bonds, or the time he lied and said he fell and injured himself while washing his truck when he really did it on a motorcycle — that’s not an excuse for Bradley to inject talk of race into this.

Racism is ugly. A charge of racism is the first step toward irreconcilable differences among teammates. And that’s not what the Dodgers need right now, not if they expect to back into the playoffs.

So let me get this right. Racism is bad. Racism is the "scourge of society." Racism is "usually well hidden," "seep[ing] out in subtle ways." And yet Milton Bradley was wrong for pulling the cover off the racism he experiences every day (real or imagined) at his place of work and discussing it in the public forum? Why? Because the Dodgers have to have cameraderie in order to make a playoff run. Maybe the reason this society has such a problem with race is that we keep it in the closet. And maybe the problem is people like Ventre, who claim to acknowledge that racism is a scourge of society, but believe it isn't such a problem that a frank and open discussion is more important than winning baseball games. I'm sorry Mr. Ventre, but if you really believed what you wrote, if you really believed that racism was a "scourge", then you would value the chance to discuss it openly and not try to shove it back in the closet and chastize any man who dares to claim that something is "about race."

I'm so tired about people claiming to acknowledge all of the harms and problems with race, and pretend to offer solutions but then tell people who want to expose racism and show white people how the "daily nuisances", while each seemingly minor on their own, can add up to a major problem (something akin to water torture), get lambasted for "playing the race card." (See the Bush administration.) Now if only our non-white friends would follow Ventre's advice and beat the hell out of everyone who acted like a racist. That would by idyllic wouldn't it Mr. Ventre?

Ssssssssssssss.....

UNIVERSAL REMOTE

There is a movie coming out a year from now starring Samuel L. Jackson that sounds so incredibly bad it has to be good. It had been called Pacific Air Flight 121 but has recently gone back to it's original, silly, brilliant title:

Snakes On a Plane.

That was not a typo. That's the actual title. Kind of like The 40-Year Old Virgin, this one is completely self-explanatory. Jackson explains:

"We're going back. It's not Flight 121. It's like, come on. You either want to see this movie or you don't. Snakes on a Plane. There's no mystery to that."

On the off chance the explicit title isn't enough of a selling point, the actor launches into a pithy synopsis of the slithering tour de force.

"I'm an FBI agent transporting a witness from Hawaii to Los Angeles. The kid has witnessed a murder by a gangster who personally killed somebody -- stupid gangster -- and the kid saw it. In the middle of the ocean, this crate time releases and there's 500 poisonous snakes in there and they scatter out all over the plane. We can't go back and we've got to go forward. So it's us battling snakes to LA."

He pauses for emphasis and then reiterates, "Fighting snakes to LA."

Can't you just hear Jackson saying that? You've got to give him credit. He knows when he's working for a paycheck and doesn't pretend anything else. He seems to be enjoying his time on this "no-brainer."

"You don't have to think about it. There's snakes. I get to spend six and a half weeks going to set every day going, 'Ah! Ah! Oh! Ow!' I don't have to go in every day and figure out the dramatic purpose of this particular scene."

Hilarious! This is going to be the best guilty pleasure since another Jackson-starrer, Deep Blue Sea. And wouldn't that one have been even better if it were called something like Smart Sharks? Or Smart Sharks That Eat People in Reverse Order of Their Attractiveness? (Okay, maybe that one's too long.) Anyway, this one is going to be something. I am totally going to see this one in Times Square where the crowd is sure to be screaming their heads off. I might even bring a bag of rubber snakes and throw them in the air at just the right time just to see people go crazy. It could be unforgettable. And Jackson knows it.

If you want even more information about this soon-to-be classic, visit screenwriter Josh Friedman's blog for his hilarious behind-the-scenes take on the project. And you MUST SEE THE PICTURES.

Just Say No

MANIFESTO

Hooray for Bob Costas. Last week, he was filling in for Larry King on CNN. On Thursday, his producers informed him that night's topic was going to be the Natalee Haolloway case from Aruba. Costas refused, suggesting other topics. The producers insisted. Costas "respectfully decided not to participate." The show went on with a different guest host. Nothing new about the Holloway case was reported.

The Times has the whole story. We've beaten the whole "Missing White Women" thing to death on this blog so I won't go into it further. I will say I am glad someone is seeing the same things Chill has been bringing up from the beginning:
Many critics have questioned why the story of the disappearance deserves blanket coverage. Some have deplored the emphasis on white women who go missing, while missing women of other ethnic groups are ignored. One critic, Matthew Felling of the Center for Media and Public Affairs, told The Associated Press that the Holloway coverage amounted to "emotional pornography."
The day before, Costas also questioned the network's coverage of the BTK killer sentencing. In an interview with Larry Hatteberg of Wichita TV station KAKE-TV, he asked:
...whether (Hatteberg) believed serial murderer Dennis Rader was enjoying the media attention he was receiving. Hatteberg replied, "Bob, he absolutely loves it," then added: "A lot of people have said the best thing can happen to Dennis Rader is to put him in a cell and turn the light off and not give him access to any radio or any television and that would be a terrible punishment for Dennis Rader." Seemingly stung by Hatteberg's remarks, Costas remarked, "I have serious misgivings about this program right here, right now." Hatteberg: "True." Costas: "Do we contribute to an atmosphere which is not so much informative as it is voyeuristic. What's the positive purpose of this?"
You've got to give Costas credit for not only having these misgivings, but for sharing them on the air. People that compulsively watch this stuff need to think about the monster they are feeding. The way 24-hour news is heading, I know this kind of shock-and-awe coverage is only going to increase. And, for me at least, these networks are going back to what they were in the beginning: something I turn on only in times of dramatic crisis. When I want my everyday news, I'll read a newspaper. How old fashioned.

1000 Bars

FOOD FIGHT

As my fiancee said when she emailed this to me, this is my kind of retirement.

"Dan the Bar Man" is going to 1,000 New York City bars in 2005, and you can follow his quest on his blog. He includes lots of pictures, and a detailed description and/or review of every place he enjoys a drink (or several). He's currently on bar number 751, a pace of about 3.2 bars per day.

It would be amazing if, even at the end of the quest, he could set it up so you could search by neighborhood. But click on any month in the archives and you'll find he travels all over the city, so he has probably been to a spot near you that you have never entered.

Kids Today

MANIFESTO

I guess the abstinence program wasn't exactly working in this district.
65 Girls At Area School Pregnant
School To Unveil Three-Prong Program
CANTON, Ohio -- There are 490 female students at Timken High School, and 65 are pregnant, according to a recent report in the Canton Repository. The article reported that some would say that movies, TV, videogames, lazy parents and lax discipline may all be to blame. School officials are not sure what has caused so many pregnancies, but in response to them, the school is launching a three-prong educational program to address pregnancy, prevention and parenting.
I'm not exactly sure how video games take any blame for this. Then again, maybe they learned some moves from Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

When Being First isn't a Good Thing

Sporting Goods

The New York Times has a story on Chicago Cubs rookie Adam Greenberg, who became the first player in major league history to be hit on the first pitch of his first plate appearance.
But no one imagined that the very first pitch the left-handed Greenberg faced in the major leagues would be a fastball that would crack him squarely in the head, smashing against his helmet and the part of his neck just under his right ear, making a sound so loud that it stunned the crowd of almost 23,000.
This has also earned him a wikipedia entry.

Here's to hoping he gets back to the big leagues soon. We need more professional athletes from Connecticut, even if he is from Guilford.

Plain Old Crazy

Manifesto

CNN's Top Story:
Pat Robertson: 'Take out' president of Venezuela
Conservative Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson has called for the United States to assassinate Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, calling him "a terrific danger" bent on exporting Communism and Islamic extremism across the Americas. Robertson called Chavez "a dangerous enemy to our south, controlling a huge pool of oil, that could hurt us badly."
First he asks for his viewers to pray for an opening on the Supreme Court (presumably through the illness or death of one of its liberal members), now he's calling for government-sanctioned assassination despite the fact that they are illegal and immoral.

Is there anything this guy can say that will turn off his followers? He's really giving Christians a bad name.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Can I Use My Miles for That?

Manifesto

The Boy King's itinerary, from his own mouth:

"I'm going to have lunch with Secretary of State Rice, talk a little business; Mrs. Bush, talk a little business; we've got a friend from South Texas here, named Katharine Armstrong; take a little nap. I'm reading an Elmore Leonard book right now, knock off a little Elmore Leonard this afternoon; go fishing with my man, Barney; a light dinner and head to the ballgame. I get to bed about 9:30 p.m., wake up about 5 a.m. So it's a perfect day."
Sounds like a nice little Saturday, doesn't it?

Automatic 20%

FOOD FIGHT

Per Se, Tomas Keller's very expensive (and very hard to get into) restaurant, will start adding an automatic 20% tip to every bill starting on September 1st. Didn't sound so weird to me at first. If you're already spending upwards of $150-200/head on a dinner like that, you'd probably add at least that to the bottom line. However, it's more complicated than that. They are adding the tip to the check to try to level the playing field between front and back of the house. In most cases, while waiters in these expensive restaurants can make six figures a year, the cooks in the back make less than $30K. The new automatic tip will help compensate all hourly employees - waiters, cooks, bus boys, etc. I'm not sure where I fall on this. The current system isn't fair to many in the restaurant business, but why is this coming from the customer and not the very profitable restauranteur? The article also brings up the point of motivation. Will staff still be motivated to provide good service if the tip is a given? However, maybe I don't need to worry unless it catches on at other place since I'm starting to think I might be too smart to eat at Per Se. A rep from the restaurant said that "the customers might find it convenient not having to contemplate a tip." That's a really sad statement about society and a totally different post all together.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Liberal CNN

Manifesto

If CNN is liberal, as in the Clinton News Network as my conservative friends like to describe it, then explain to me why, the day after the Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV)has a stroke(thankfully minor), CNN doesn't find it news. Not only does it fail to make the top stories but, while I couldn't give you the entire front page, it didn't make the front page, either. Hell, even FoxNews has it as a top story. (I'll save you from looking at a screen capture.)

Instead, CNN leads with a post about how there was a debate about assassinating OBL in 1998, and makes it sound like it was a failure of epic proportions that this wasn't done. Really, no shit. Now that maybe CNN has the failures to capture OBL in 1998 examined, maybe it should get down to doing some of the failures of 2001-2002, you know, after OBL murdered 3,000 U.S. citizens. Maybe they are just slowly working through the chronology of his terror exploits and have just gotten to 1998.

Friday, August 19, 2005

End the MRE

Sporting Goods

I will admit to being a huge homer. After the last day of fantasy baseball, you would see me waive nearly all of my players and pick up all Red Sox, just to see them on my team. My English Premiere League fantasy team (yes, I have one), has four Americans on it, even though they are not top-tier players. I root for baseball players born in Connecticut no matter what team they are on.

But enough is enough. It's time to cut Mike Remlinger. In five games with the Sox, he has posted an ERA of 21.21, with a WHIP of 3.64. Batters are batting .444 against him. It takes him nearly 7 batters to get through an average inning. Even though he went to my beloved alma mater, he has got to go.

The Sox have a number of promising young fireballers in the minors, including Manny Delcarmen, who would certainly fare better than Remlinger. I am not saying that any of these guys will be the Mariano Rivera (1996) or the Fransisco Rodriguez (2002) of 2005, but they have a chance to make a meaningful impact on the Red Sox bullpen. And the Mike Remlinger Experiment has already proven to be a failure.

I'm sure Mike is very smart, so it may be time for him to start his post-playing career. I'm sure he's brighter than everyone on ESPN's former Phillie crew (Brantley, Kruk, Bowa).

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Now Paul Krugman?

Manifesto

First it was Sports Guy, then the Chicago Sun-Times, and now Paul Krugman of the New York Times is stealing from our little blog. Mr. Krugman's new column is all about the election "irregularites" from the 2004 election.
Two different news media consortiums reviewed Florida's ballots; both found that a full manual recount would have given the election to Mr. Gore. This was true despite a host of efforts by state and local officials to suppress likely Gore votes, most notably Ms. Harris's "felon purge," which disenfranchised large numbers of valid voters.
[...]
The Conyers report goes further, highlighting the blatant partisanship of election officials. In particular, the behavior of Ohio's secretary of state, Kenneth Blackwell - who supervised the election while serving as co-chairman of the Bush-Cheney campaign in Ohio - makes Ms. Harris's actions in 2000 seem mild by comparison.

And then there are the election night stories. Warren County locked down its administration building and barred public observers from the vote-counting, citing an F.B.I. warning of a terrorist threat. But the F.B.I. later denied issuing any such warning. Miami County reported that voter turnout was an improbable 98.55 percent of registered voters. And so on.
I find it amazing that after the election debacle of 2000, that Congress did nothing to solve the problem by 2004. I wonder if there was some reason for that? Thoughts?

Bitch Dog

Whatever

So what happens when you get frustrated and call the customer service operators at the cable company rude? Well, apparently they change the name on your bill to "Bitch Dog". That'll learn ya. Of course the company is extremely apologetic. But my favorite is the explanation from the PR woman:
"We only use the actual customers names on the bill," said Patricia Andrews-Keenan, a Comcast spokeswoman.
[...]
"We are appalled by this treatment of our customer and want to extend our sincerest apologies" to Govan, the company said Wednesday in a statement. "This is not the way Comcast does business."
Really, so you don't make it a regular habit to address your customers by mild vulgarities and insults? I find that surprising. (This is not the Friendly's way.) Strangely, this has happened before, as the article notes:
In another case, Peoples Energy customer Jefferoy Barnes started getting letters addressed to "Jeffery Scrotum Bag Barnes."
What exactly is a scrotum bag? Did the author mean simply scrotum or is he talking about a bag that you can put your scrotum in? This is too funny.

All right. I'm just a juvenile idiot. Sorry.

F.U. Willie

Sporting Goods

Why do I hate Willie Randolph? Is it some irrational extension of my dislike for the Yankees? Is it because it took him more than three months to move the Mets' best hitter, David Wright, up from the 6 and 7 spots in the order? Is it because he still doesn't know how to complete a double switch? Is it because he continued to trot Kaz Ishii and Dae Sung Koo in important spots only to seem them implode? Is it because he has and irrational love of Miguel Cairo, who has a .688 OPS? Is it because he has absolutely no idea how to manage a bullpen?

Yes, those are all good reasons, but I think it mostly has to do with his attitude. The scowl in the dugout never leaves his ventriloquist dummy mouth. Willie also has a unique way with players. One of your young players has a good game, talk about the things he did wrong or how he can improve.

Or, most recently, your hall of fame catcher goes down with a hairline fracture of his hand that is described as an "unnatural blue, yellow and green hue" with "swelling ... spread over three inches of his arm" and was so bad that he couldn't "clutch a bat", talk about what a wuss he is:
"It's not in a real bad spot," Mets manager Willie Randolph said. "It's not a major bone area. It's a little tiny bone at the base of the hand. Some guys might be able to play through it."
Way to support your players, Willie. I'm surprised he isn't all over Cameron for not coming back soon enough. What an absolute ass.

Fun Mets fact

Sporting Goods

David Wright has been "insulted" 8 times this year by coming to the plate immediately after an intentional walk.

In those 8 at bats, he is 6 for 7, with 13 RBI.

Dear National League managers,

Keep intentionally walking the guy before Wright.

Sincerely,
The Mets

PS - Speaking of the Mets, the new predictably awful Subway commercial featuring Torre and Randolph at an actual Subway "restaurant" together, is a little less awful to me because that's my Subway. It's on 5th Avenue and 29th Street, if you want to experience the excitement.

Just Plain Dumb

Manifesto

In an article discussing how Europeans aren't obsessing over the rise in gas prices, despite paying more than twice what Americans are paying, MSNBC's Rachel Elbaum writes perhaps the dumbest thing I have ever read.
One big difference in Britain is that gas prices don’t appear to have changed as drastically over the past year. The national average for July was now 88 pence a liter, or $6.02 a gallon, and prices have only gone up 10 pence a liter in the past 12 months. Although the actual price increase is the same, the rise is not as apparent in Britain where gas is sold by the liter.

This week, drivers were paying around 90-91 pence at London gas stations.

The sticker shock has been greater in the United States, where prices appear to have increased more as the numbers on the price boards are larger. Since last year the cost of a gallon has gone up 67 cents.
Yeah, I'm sure Britons are too stupid to realize that, although the increase is less on the big board, it is just the same when they fill up the tank. I'm sure that's why it hasn't been as big an issue: the damn confusing metric system. If only Britain had stayed with the English system of measurements. Damn French.

iTunes' Favorites

Whatever

Damn my iTunes really likes Arrested Development. I have maybe 60 Arrested Development songs out of 4,187 songs in the Hip-Hop category. iTunes has chosen an AD song 3 out of the last 10. As Cliff Claven would say, What's up with that?

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

But Do They Show Commercials?

UNIVERSAL REMOTE

The Times has an article about some super-luxury movie theaters around the country. They offer alcohol, really good food, huge leather love seats with drink holders, valet parking, and keep out anyone under 21. Of course, you have to pay $18 bucks a ticket (which includes valet parking and popcorn). The wife and I have actually been to one of these last time we were in Florida. It was awesome. I hope they come to the Big Apple soon. I'm thisclose to strangling the next crying kid some idiot brings into see a quiet, intimate movie like War of the Worlds.

Ebert: Bad Movies

Universal Remote

Maybe the Chicago Sun Times is reading our little blog too. They just put up an article of excepts of Ebert's reviews of realy bad movies. Quickly perusing, this is my favorite.
"Mad Dog Time" is the first movie I have seen that does not improve on the sight of a blank screen viewed for the same length of time. Oh, I've seen bad movies before. But they usually made me care about how bad they were. Watching "Mad Dog Time" is like waiting for the bus in a city where you're not sure they have a bus line.... "Mad Dog Time" should be cut into free ukulele picks for the poor.

Walken for President

MANIFESTO

Here's a candidate I can get behind. I wonder if he's going to run as the scary, homicidal Walken a la True Romance or the wacky, funny Walken from Catch Me if You Can. Hell, the guy's won an Oscar. That's more than some people can say.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Voting Accuracy

Manifesto

Good to see that my alma mater, Johns Hopkins University, is leading the effort to create a system of electronic voting that is both reliable and accountable. One of the many untold stories of the last election is the number of errors and potential errors that were attributed to electronic voting machines. If you are interested, you can read more at Black Box Voting: Ballot Tampering in the 21st century.

For the most part the mainstream media has completely ignored this story. Look, the media is completely lazy, we all know that. But, I actually think the root of this failure is a direct result of the coverage of the 2000 election. Honestly, I think the media thinks that people were burned out on election fraud, and couldn't handle another contested election, no matter how minor. I don't really think that is/was the right call, but I'm a little biased. Although, the topic seems a little more important than much of what passes for news on the cable news networks. Wow, sharks occasionally, or very, very, rarely attacked people. Interesting.

Damn

Whatever

Q-Tip was 22 when he made A Tribe Called Quest's fourth album, Beats, Rhymes & Life.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Capital Punishment

Manifesto

This isn't exactly the reason that I'm so strongly against the death penalty but it is a close reminder.

This is a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. We govern ourselves. As such, every time we execute an innocent person, whether we follow due process or not, whether "we've done everything we can or not," we as a society have blood on our collective hands. Quite simply, I just don't think our government should be in the business of killing. And playing the, what if it was your (insert family member and loved one here) card gets you nowhere. Absolutely, if it were somebody important to me, and we had good information regarding guilt, I would want the killer to die. But society needs to take into account what is best for society as a whole, not just for a single victim's family. And honestly, how often do we ever have perfect information.

Moreover, as a deterrent, the death penalty has not proven to be much of a deterrent.

In fact, recently Justice Stevens strongly objected to the application of death penalty in the U.S..
Stevens said DNA evidence has shown "that a substantial number of death sentences have been imposed erroneously."

"It indicates that there must be serious flaws in our administration of criminal justice," he said.
What I find most striking about this article is the quote for the death penalty supporter, Kent Scheidegger, legal director of the pro-death penalty Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, at the end.
According to the anti-capital punishment Death Penalty Information Center, more than three dozen death row inmates have been exonerated since 2000.

Said Scheidegger, "I wouldn't say that 20 or 30 cases out of 8,000 constitutes a broken system."
So apparently 20 or 30 state sponsored killings of innocents isn't much of a problem. I find that absolutely appalling. I think that one killing of an innocent person constitutes a broken system. Until we're 100% sure that we aren't killing an innocent person, we should get out of the killing business. Given our imperfect system of justice, and that every system designed by men will be imperfect, I don't expect to change my opinion very soon.

Remember the Titans

Universal Remote

is a better movie than I remember.

Darlucky rules

Sporting Goods

Anybody else think ESPN's Sports Guy is stealing posts from Darlucky? Darlucky's post is better. Not discounting Gary Sheffield because he's an idiot is a big step forward. Especially when you are praising Manny for being Manny.

Note: Scroll down to August 15, 2005. ESPN hasn't figured out Permalinks for its "blogs." Shocking that ESPN is behind the times on the internets.

U.S. Hoops

Sporting Goods

You hope the reason the U.S. team fininshed fifth in the under-21 world basketball championship is because they don't practice together as a team. Needless to say, the same reason the Pistons and the Spurs made the finals this is reason why the U.S. teams don't fare well in international play, the international teams play together as a team and put their teams together with the best complementary parts available. Sooner or later the American teams will figure this out. It starts young. Every team, from young kids to the NBA needs complementary players. Sooner or later coaches will figure out what this means, more Ray Allens, LeBron James', Tim Duncans, Steve Nashs, and fewer Stephon Marburys and Kobe Bryants.

I was trying to find out how UConn's Rudy Gay and Marcus Williams played, but ESPN isn't really reporting on the games. It may be irrelevant, at least for Williams.

Millions More March

Manifesto

I was just thinking about the Million Man March the other day. It appears that Minister Farrakhan is leading another march on the 10th anniversary of the original, called the Millions More March. Say what you will about Minister Farrakhan, about his motivations, about his past, about the goals of this march, but it appears that he may have learned at least one lesson, the Millions More March will include gays and woman.

80 mpg?

MANIFESTO

One of the things that drives me most crazy is how our President turns his back on the political and economic possibilities that hybrid automobiles offers this country. I'm convinced people would rally behind him if he were to initiate a national movement to reduce oil consumption and promote American car companies that produce more efficient cars. Not to mention take money out of the hands of Middle Eastern terrorists. Of course he's a Texas oil man, so that is never going to happen. But the revolution may just happen anyway as gas prices tick higher and higher under his watch.

If I owned a car it would be a hybrid. And if I owned a hybrid, I would drive it out to California to visit Ron Gremban. He's an electrical engineer who spent $3000 tinkering with his own Prius, which now gets 80 miles to the gallon. Detroit says they'll look at Gremban's modifications and see if anything can be learned from them. Geez, I would hope so.

Ebert Throws Down

UNIVERSAL REMOTE

Roger Ebert is still my favorite film critic, especially in print. And as his faithful readers know, he is most fun to read when he is trashing a movie that particularly offends him. This week, it's Deuce Bigalow: European Gigalow. And it's not pretty.

(I especially love the last graph.)

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Congress Rules

Manifesto

This story is easily the most depressing thing that I have ever read. At least it reminds me why I love Bernie Sanders.

If you don't feel like reading the long article, at least check out the Reader's Digest version by David Sirota.

Waiting for Manny

sporting goods

So we've played 70% of the season now - who is the AL MVP? To narrow it down, let's arbitrarily make some cuts:

If you are not in the top 10 of either runs created, or runs created per 27 outs, then you are out. If you are a pitcher, then, you are obviously out. There is just no way any AL pitcher is deserving of MVP consideration this year. If your team is not .500, then you are out. There are years I would argue this shouldn't matter, but with some genuine stars around right now, I'll say that it does.

So who does that leave?

-Sheffield
-Ramirez
-Rodriguez
-Ortiz
-Damon
-Hafner
-Giambi
-Guerrerro

The .500 rule eliminated Roberts, Teixeira, Sexson, Crawford, and Tejada. I can live with that - they can make the top 10, but not the top 3.

OK, next cut. If you are not the best DH on the list, or arguably the best player on your team, then you cannot be considered. Goodbye Giambi, Hafner, and Damon.

That leaves Sheffield, A-Rod, Ramirez, Ortiz, and Guerrero. So who will win?

Voter version: Sheffield won't win because of his attitude, and he should have won last year and didn't, so forget it. It's harder to win your second award (ask Giambi), so goodbye Vlad. Voters won't vote en masse for a DH, so out goes Ortiz. Manny or A-Rod? Well, if the season ended today, the 17 RBI and 5.5 games in the standings would lead everyone to vote for Manny.

But I'm not convinced. When I look at how bad the Yankees pitching has been, the fact that they are where they are is due to their hitting. And to me, it's all about Gary Sheffield. He leads the league in Runs Created, Runs Created per 27 outs, Average with runners in scoring position, cheesy mustaches, and ridiculous statements. So I would fill out my non-existent ballot like this:

1. Gary Sheffield
2. Manny Ramirez
3. David Ortiz
4. Alex Rodriguez
5. Brian Roberts
6. Johnny Damon

How's that for an east coast bias??? If Vlad doesn't win, it will be the first time since 1995 that a player from the AL East won.

Good Times

sporting goods

The Sox have a 5.5 game lead over the Yankees after scoring 35 runs in a 3 game stretch against the Rangers. The team has won its last 12 home games, despite playing some really bad baseball at times.

I just had a great client meeting, and now its countdown until 7:30, when I can go home, pack my bag, and its off to the Berkshires for a four day weekend. I'll try to bang out one more post before then, but if not, have a great weekend everyone!

Hidden Ball Trick

sporting goods

Just an update from an old Darlucky post. Marlins win with a little help from the hidden ball trick.

UPDATE: Video here.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Great Play

sporting goods

Mets lose. Blah, blah, blah. But David Wright made one of the best catches I have ever seen. Check out the free video highlight over at Mets.com.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Madden

whatever

In my neverending quest to document the fall of my favorite things from childhood, today is ESPN's turn. Only took ESPN.com four hours to pull a broken link to Bill Simmons's review of Madden '06. Embarrassing. I know I've complained about this before but I can't even document all the times on ESPN.com that I've tried to click through a link and gotten an error, or even better, a completely unrelated article. It really is the most poorly run site that I visit all the time.

The New (old) New Guy

Sporting Goods

So the Sox have gone out and acquired a left-handed reliever, in Mike Remlinger, without having to give up much at all. He can help offset the loss (and by loss, I mean complete lack of production and then actual physical loss) of Alan Embree as he is a lefty who is not just a lefty specialist.

Looking at his numbers, Remlinger has not been awful this year, as most relievers who are DFA'd generally are. However, in a disturbing trend, he has given up hits in his last 7 appearances, and has walked 5 in his last 2 1/3 innings. So we should not be expecting a bullpen savior.

That said, he did go to Dartmouth. Go Big Green!

Monday, August 08, 2005

Dial Your Dinner

FOOD FIGHT

How do I search these sites and not see the vast number of take out/delivery hotspots? There is some overlapping, but both NY magazine and the New York Times have listed their favs for everything from pizza to Thai delivered to your door. Might be the hot weather or the vast number of boxes in my kitchen recently, but seems like a better time of year to use the oven for storage than for cooking something. So, since I don't think many of you are whipping up home cooked meals, maybe these lists can help add some variety to the usual burger or pizza. If I'm wrong, then apologies galore and I'd love an invite.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Monkey business

Sporting Goods

Go check out Soxaholix today, as this strip is one of his best efforts ever.

And if you don't check out his site every few days, it might be time for you to start.

Friday Random 10

Whatever

I gotta tell you, I'm really happy it's Friday. And not just because it gives us an excuse to rock out to the random iTunes 10!

I'm not going to rate my coolness, as Amanda does over Pandagon. But I'm sure my stuff would make a cooler person blush. Here it is.

1. Daytona 500 - Ghostface Killah - In my college IM softball days, I chose this as my intro music.
2. Geek Stink Breath - Green Day - My iTunes really loves Green Day.
3. Don't Be Afraid - Aaron Hall - From the "Juice" soundtrack, one of the all time greats. Aaron Hall had a video in the mid-90s that almost made me cry. Yeah, I'll admit it.
4. Put Your Hammer Down - Wu Tang Clan - I've finally started uploading from my huge Wu collection. You have been warned.
5. Shove this Jay-Oh-Bee - Canibus with the Biz - From Office Space closing credits, great song for a Friday.
6. Jazz - A Tribe Called Quest - Mind gets flooded? Ejaculation.
7. Chorale: "Jesus bieibet meine Freude" - J.S. Bach - Great song, but don't want it to bring me down on a Friday. Skip!
8. Street Fighting Man - Rolling Stones - A top 10 Stones tune, in my opinion.
9. U Mean I'm Not - Black Sheep - I guarantee seeing this title made Chill laugh. Contains the classic lyric "Who The F*** used my toothbrush?"
10. Lifted - Green Room - Nate and JoJo would be proud to be on a list of 10 with Tribe.

Hit me!

Thursday, August 04, 2005

No more excuses

Sporting Goods

It looks as if the MetroStars will have a new soccer-only stadium, opening in 2007. This is great news.

For NYC-based fans, you will be able to take the PATH to Harrison, NJ, the home of the new stadium. From the PATH train, it's just a short walk to the stadium site. It will be $3 roundtrip instead of the current $6.50, but more importantly no worries about traffic.

The other good news is that with a more intimate (25,000) venue, it won't feel like an empty stadium. Club soccer was not intended for 60,000+ seat stadiums. The players, and the fans, will be much better served by having the fans closer, more concentrated, and louder.

So starting in 2007 there is no excuse not to go see MLS action. You know, unless you really don't care for soccer.

Pro-Gay Pro Bono

MANIFESTO

Because of my inherent distrust of George W. Bush and his Conservative Movement, I will admit to originally thinking the worst of his Supreme Court nominee, John Roberts. (Especially since his introduction was moved up a week to knock the growing Karl Rove/CIA leak scandal off the front page.) Ever since Roberts was nominated, there have been many articles written about him and his judicial past, and I must admit the guy doesn't seem half bad.

Today's L.A. Times has the most hopeful story yet. It seems that Roberts worked pro-bono on a case that overturned a Colorado law that legalized discrimination based on sexual orientation. The Supreme Court vote was 6-3, with Scalia, Thomas and Rehnquist dissenting. If Roberts really supports this cause, then he may not be the Justice we all fear. Especially since he'll probably be there until 2040.

Now what?

Sporting Goods

Over at Dewey's House, the crusade to get Robert Petagine freed from Pawtucket and on the big league roster (particularly in the face of Millar's putrid play), can finally end as the team has done the right thing and called him up.

It's unfortunate that Olerud has to go on the DL when he really seemed to be hitting well. There could have been something to riding his hot bat as long as possible.

But Petagine, who was leading the International League (AAA) in OBP (.452), SLG (.635) to go along with 20 HR and 69 RBI in 74 games, finally gets the chance to show what he can do in the big leagues. If this works out as I expect, the Sox could have a much more prolific offense. Now we just need Tito to let the guy play.

Please Tito. Let him play!

UPDATE: Tito is letting him play. Ignoring the fact that he is now 0-2 with a GIDP and a groundout with a man on 3rd and two outs, how was Petagine not good enough to get the call up, but good enough to bat 4th in his first game, while Millar bats 6th? Just asking...

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Funny stuff

Sporting Goods

Check out this picture. 7 foot 2, wow!

Question

Sporting Goods

Anybody else think Carlos Beltran should be moved out of the three hole. It looks like he's trying to hit a three-run homer every at-bat. Ridiculous.

On the bright side, the Mets seem to have finally tired of Kaz Ishii. Just a couple of months too late.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

The State of US Soccer

Sporting Goods

Four big moments for US Soccer in the last couple of weeks. And I'm excited. Probably overly so, similar to how I felt about the 1997 Red Sox. The team was good but not great, but appeared to be in striking distance of the best teams despite sitting squarely one tier below them. But they showed flashes of brilliance, and had a young star who appeared capable of leading them to the promised land, if only they could add another star or two. So as long as Landon Donovan can stay healthy, unlike Nomar, my optimism will remain. Here are the four moments, in chronological order.

-US reaches all time high ranking with FIFA (6th):
OK, so the rankings are actually too scientific, but to give a basis for my optimism, USA is putting up the results to be mentioned in the same article as the best teams in the world. I realize that in actuality, the US is not better than France, England, and Spain, but I honestly believe they are on the next tier with Portugal, Italy, and Turkey (and Mexico, currently ranked 5th). So they look like one of the best 12 teams in the world. Put another way, there are probably only about 12 teams in the world that can say it would be a true disappointment if they did not reach the final 8 in the World Cup. I think the USA is on that list, and rising, with one year until the World Cup.

-USA wins Gold Cup
First the bad news. Columbia took out Mexico, and then lost to Panama, meaning the US had a pretty easy road to the Gold Cup championship. And in their games, they often had to come from behind, and got outplayed by an inferior Panama team (at Giants Stadium) in the finals. But the good news is, the reason they were still able to win these matches is that Kasey Keller is playing like one of the best goalies in the world right now. The team showed resolve in coming from behind when necessary, and throughout the tournament, and particularly at the end, the team played without a lot of its best players. Young players (whom I had never even heard of) played important roles, and old players who are past their prime played key minutes. The team was able to raise the trophy at the end. Good teams win matches under any circumstances, and the USA won.

-EPL squares off with MLS, part 1
The motivation for this post was really my sitting down to watch the English champions Chelsea take on the MLS champions DC United. I expected a shellacking, or at least for Chelsea to just toy with the DC squad. Chelsea is probably one of the best 3 teams in the world, while DC is probably one of the best 3 teams in the US. But from the first minute it was evident that both teams were playing to win, and I can honestly say that DC played evenly with Chelsea through the first 25 minutes. Having played evenly through that time, they were then able to take a 1-0 lead on a well-executed goal. Chelsea scored 4 minutes later on a gorgeous one-timer. At half-time, you could say the score really reflected the way the teams had played. The second half showed the difference between the two, as Chelsea put in basically a second squad, that was nearly as good as their starting squad, and with fresh legs was able to outplay DC United, who are clearly not as deep. Despite a strong surge from DC at the end, Chelsea held on to win.

MLS naysayers could say that Chelsea was in pre-season form, while DC is in mid-season form. But what I saw is that DC United played as well with Chelsea as really any mid-table team in the EPL could expect to do. So if the MLS's 3rd best team is as good as the 12th best team in England, well then I think that is something that I wouldn't have even considered saying 2-3 years ago. This feeling was backed up by seeing the Chicago Fire really hang tough with AC Milan, last year's Champions League runner-up. The Fire really played well enough to win (or at least tie), and were a bit unlucky.

-EPL squares off with MLS, part 2
OK, so Fulham is probably a mid-table quality team like I just "disparaged" by comparing to DC United. But the fact is, that the MLS all-star team, playing with the issue that many of the players have never played together before, and that they are playing for pride only, had no trouble defeating Fulham this weekend, winning 4-1. Fulham may end up being no good this year, and the MLS squad certainly made them look bad. But I think this result, combined with DC hanging with Chelsea, suggests that the MLS level of play is slowly creeping up to world-class status. It is definitely not there yet, but it is on the way. And it is from a world-class league that we can generate world-class players.

As those players continue to emerge, creating a feeder system for a deeper squad, and a better squad, USA should be able to pile up those minor trophies, while beginning to really believe that the big trophy is only a hot goalie and 2 minor upsets away. I can't wait for 2006.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Bonds Out

Sporting Goods

Anybody else think Bonds' announcement has something to do with the Palmiero situation. Like perhaps Bonds and Palmiero used the same chemist and Bonds now knows that whatever the drug is isn't undetectable. If not, the announcement is a hell of a coincidence. Either way, Bonds needs a new publicist. Just a horrible day to make such an announcement. What an idiot.

Sorry Raffy

Sporting Goods

Looks like the Raffy for Hall of Fame debate just got a lot more interesting. See here if you haven't seen the story yet.

I also wonder if some pissed off senator is going to bring up charges for lying under oath to Congress. This could get real interesting. I can't wait for the explanation, aside from the standard I didn't know what I was putting in my body that we heard today. Either he was lying to Congress, or he just decided to start using steroids this season. Excellent. Good thinking. Well played, Raffy.

I don't get Art sometimes

Whatever

So over the weekend, my parents were in town. In between a trip to our favorite gelato/sorbet place in the city, and a great dinner at the fabulous 'inoteca, we were strolling around the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

I had read in Time Out about what seemed like a very strange art exhibit, that could definitely be amusing. The exhibit included "The New York Dirty Room," which was basically a huge room filled with topsoil from Home Depot. I'll let The Brooklyn Rail explain the second featured exhibit:
“Top Cruise” is an installation of 1,000 (although many have yet to arrive) busts of Tom Cruise (although it doesn’t look much like him) strewn about the gallery floor, several Cruiseheads still wrapped in packing foam.
Maybe the weirdest thing was there were no signs, we had to be buzzed in, and there was no one really watching over anything. So we basically were buzzed in, walked upstairs, stood in an empty room and looked at a bunch of heads, and then left. It sounds like there was more art upstairs, but I think it was weird enough for one day.

If I'm back down there, I might have to stop by to see if the rest of the heads ever arrived. If you're on the L.E.S., and in the mood for some weird, then check it out.