Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Tommy Boy

Seriously, what the hell? I swear to post nothing but baseball entries this week and the Celtics decide to make not only the biggest trade in franchise history, but one of the biggest in NBA history. I will let Simmons and French have their say on this matter. My only question is whether Danny Ainge threw in his next new born, his Toronto Blue Jays rookie card, and his pink Mazda Miata. Just a shame he didn't include Doc Rivers. Anyway, I'm sticking to my guns. Onto baseball.

On August 17th, 1987 a scrawny 21 year old made his pitching debut for an Atlanta Braves team that was going nowhere. They ended the year at 69-92 and were managed by the immortal Chuck Tanner (who I think was in the Bad News Bears). The team included Ken Griffey (the original, not Jr.), Dale Murphy, a 42 year old Graig Nettles and a downright ancient Phil Neikro. I would mention more names, but I don’t recognize any of them. Doyle Alexander may be the only other familiar name on the list.

The 21 year old didn’t appear to be much at first. Going 2-4 with an ERA over 5 in his first nine starts. But, the Braves brought him back the following year when the team was truly abysmal. It actually took two managers (Tanner was replaced by Russ Nixon) to guide the team to a sterling 54-106 record. 21, who was now 22, lost nearly 20 games himself that year, compiling a 7-17 record. But he showed signs, lowering his ERA to 4.50, having more strikeouts than walks and only giving up 12 home runs despite pitching nearly 200 innings. This was also the year the Braves brought up someone who would become his long time teammate and friend, John Smoltz.

The 21 year old, who just happens to hail from Billerica, MA was Tom Glavine and he really put things together in his second full season when his ERA dropped to 3.68 while winning 14 games. Russ Nixon was replaced by Bobby Cox and the rest…..well you know the rest.

Or do you?

Lost amid the mass hysteria involving Barry Bonds’ home run chase and/or steroid rage explosion in which he kills 42 people in the stands with the handle of his broken bat before security brings him down with a dozen tranquilizer darts (what? I can dream) is Tom Glavine’s chance at career win number 300. He goes for that milestone tonight and it could be a LOOONG time before we see another pitcher get to this point.

Glavine always seemed to be over shadowed by his own teammates. Having to play second or third fiddle to Smoltz and Maddux during his Brave years, then carrying that same badge when Pedro signed with the Mets. Only he doesn’t care. We always hear about the egoless athlete, but who ever really believed that? I always figured as an athlete you NEED a certain amount of ego to succeed. I’m sure Glavine has it, but he certainly never shows it to anyone. He goes about his business and if he gets the recognition and rewards, than great. If not, that’s fine too. He’s not pitching for the headlines, he pitches because he loves playing baseball.

But it’s not his love of the sport that will get him into the Hall of Fame, now is it? Like everybody else his stats will do the talking. Talk to us stats, talk to us.

Since everyone seems to agree that a pitcher’s prime years are between 24-34, let’s take a quick look:

Combined record – 185 – 96. Note that this takes into account his 10-12 record from 1990.
ERA 3.57
Cy Youngs – 2
Cy Young Runner Up Finishes – 2
Cy Young 3rd place finishes – 2 So in 10 years he finished top 3 in six of them. Nice!

But even this doesn’t tell you the entire story. Like how in 1991, while on his way to winning 20 games for the first time, he struck out 192 batters and only walked 69. Or how, after he won the Cy Young in 1998, his ERA ballooned to 4.21, only to have him storm back the next year winning 21 games and only losing 9. Or how he’s pitched over 200 innings in all but 6 of his 20 full seasons in the majors. And in two of those he still managed over 190 innings!

Still doing nothing for you? Try this one. During the 1992-1995 seasons Glavine gave up a grand total of 41 home runs. This includes only 6 in 1992. That’s all year! He gave up 6 home runs during a season in which he pitched 225 innings! Tim Wakefield gave up 6 home runs in ONE GAME!! It also includes only giving up 9 in 1995 when he pitched nearly 200 innings and only walked 66 while striking out 127. Are you kidding me? Last season Josh Beckett seemingly gave up a home run to every ninth batter.

I know what you’re thinking. ‘Yeah, he was good, but that was during his prime years when he had Smoltz and Maddux covering for him.’ OK, fine. Let’s take a look at 2005 when he was 39 years old. Now with the Mets, want to guess how many homers he gave up that year? Try 12. That was pitching 211 innings. How about last year when he struck out more than twice as many batters as he walked (131 – 62).

I must admit that I've signed off on Glavine more than once during his career. And he has always come back the following year and proven me wrong. Last season being the perfect example.

This is most likely Glavine’s last year. He has already publicly spoken about retiring at the end of the season. I don’t care if he gets into the Hall of Fame or not, although he probably will. I don’t care if he gets 300 wins or not, although, barring injury, he will get that, too. I’m just tired of all the hoopla surrounding the likes of Bonds’ pursuit, Sosa’s 600th home run, Clemens deciding which team to grace his presence with, or A-Rod’s 500th home run (the fastest ever! Wooo fucking hooo!) while quiet, consistent, reliable guys like Glavine fly under the radar.

Since he would never do it, I’m trumpeting for him. Tonight in Milwaukee, Tom Glavine will go for his 300th win. Game starts at 8:05 and I hope the ‘Baseball Tonight’ crew gives him just as much hype if he wins as they did with Verlander’s no hitter earlier this year.

Here’s hoping you get it on the first try, Tom. Baseball could use more like you.


Today's distraction: Find out how well you know movies from the past 25 years. I will proudly admit I kicked ass on this. But I have no life and never leave the house.

Monday, July 30, 2007

All Baseball, All The Time

I've decided that I'm going to post about baseball all week. That's right, every day will be a baseball entry, including my team by team update on Wednesday and Thursday. Chances are I'll get bored with this, but I will persevere!! Or preserve. Or whatever I should be saying there.

I just hope I don't get distracted by something midway through the week. For example, this morning, as I waddled my way through downpours, I wondered if holding an umbrella while lightning was around increased your likelihood of getting struck by it. Kind of like a mobile lightning rod. I even considered holding off my 'Baseball Week' so I could post about it, but decided it really didn't deserve it's own entry.

If you're wondering, I concluded that it probably did increase your odds of getting hit, but the chances are so remote anyway, it might not make that much of a difference. Besides I make sure I hold the handle part (whether it be wooden or plastic) so if I the umbrella did get hit, I wouldn't take the brunt of the strike. Sure the umbrella would be welded to my hand for the rest of my life, but I would most likely live. You can see how easily sidetracked I get.

Okay, first things first. If you haven't read it yet, catch up on French's Jon Lester post. Please ignore my profession of love in the comment section as I was probably drunk and experiencing another blackout. It happens.

Anyway, I thought of French while watching the second start for Lester and realized early on that this was much more important and more telling indicator from a pure baseball sense than his first start.

First, we were going to find out how well he bounced back. Is Lester really ready for the grinds of being a major league starter? Would he hit the wall in the fourth or fifth inning? Adrenaline played a big role in his first start, but this one was going to tell The Nation how ready he really was. Conclusion: He's ready. I thought he looked a bit weary as he left the mound in the sixth inning, but he came back out and got two more outs (and gave up two homers) before being relieved.

Second, would he be effective? Forget stamina (although that plays a big part in how well he would pitch. Please see: Inning, Seventh), but would he pitch as well as he did against Cleveland? Conclusion: He looked good. Forget the seventh inning when Jonny Gomes and Josh Paul each hit home runs off him. As Remy said at the time, they were living on borrowed time with Lester anyway. I think Francona basically put him out there to see how he would do. Besides the pitch Gomes hit out was above his shoulders, for crying out loud. And Paul hit one to the opposite field, so it wasn't like the pitches Lester was throwing were all that bad.

Finally, and this is just from a fan's perspective - meaning mine, was the comfort level of watching him pitch. To give an example, watching Tavarez pitch was always a bit of a roller coaster ride. Even when he was doing well, there was always a nagging feeling that no lead was safe. I kept waiting for the inevitable implosion. Walk, hit, walk, hit batter, home run. Could happen at anytime with Tavarez. After the first two innings Saturday, I was completely at ease watching Lester. If anything, he seems more effective this year. Last season his pitch count would be in the 70s by the third inning. He hit 99 in the seventh before being taken out. Good sign.

Which brings me to a nickname. I want to call him Lester the Molester because I get the impression the batters feel somewhat violated after facing him. His stuff isn't over powering or impressive and his delivery is vanilla, but he gets outs. On Saturday, he just kept getting the Rays to fly out. Like they were just missing some of the pitches. You could see the look of confusion on their faces when they walked back to the dugout like they were thinking 'What the hell, I should have hit that pitch'. Some looked disgusted and kept watching the jumbotron for the replay to see what the pitch was or how they missed it.

In a nutshell, that's Lester. He is far from impressive, but he is sly and deceiving and his pitches seem to move at the last second. Anyone in Red Sox Nation remember Bruce Hurst? Lester reminds me a lot of him. Both lefties, both seemingly benign, both highly effective. I'm sure Lester will have some rough starts as hitters figure him out, but that happens to all pitchers. Considering what he's been through off the field, this on the field stuff is a piece of cake.

Nice to have you back, JL.

A few other thoughts.

Nice to see NorthEastern alum Carlos Pena having a good year. Sure it's for a crappy team, but he was always one of these guys I thought would be a star but just couldn't seem to put it together. Had a nice first few months with the Tigers a few years, back, but then proceeded to go into a prolonged slump and was sent back to AAA by July. Now he's hitting .282 with 25 homers, 67 RBIs and an on base percentage of .391.

I think we can label Jonny Gomes a certified Red Sox killer. What the hell? First he takes a pitch from Lester at eye level and drives it approximately 480 feet, then he ties the game with a two run shot off Papelbon of all people! I was stunned when that happened. I think even Papelbon was stunned. I've nicknamed him 'Fuckin' Gomes', by the way.

It's probably nothing, but I heard A-Rod's name brought up by Jose Conseco over the weekend in regards to steroid use. Can't say I'd be surprised if this turns out to be true.

I also got quite pissed off at some of the accolades being thrown towards Barry Bonds over the weekend. Things like 'First ballot Hall of Famer'. Bob Ryan on 'The Sports Reporters' explained his view thusly: Since Barry basically had a Hall of Fame career before everyone suspected he started taking steroids (and there seems to be little doubt in anyone's mind he took steroids at some point) that is reason enough to vote him in. To this I cry 'Bullshit!' How can you make any sort of distinction between him and McGwire? Are we just assuming McGwire took steroids his entire career, therefore everything he did is in question? If so, shouldn't the same be done with Bonds? Why the double standard? And what about Sosa? Where does he stand? There is no proof he did anything, but we all have our doubts, don't we?

And there, being inducted into the Hall of Fame, was a player everyone seems afraid to talk about when it comes to 'roids. Cal Ripken. You're telling me this guy gets in on the first ballot after playing all those games in a row and not one person has any doubt in their minds he may have taken steroids at some point in his career? I know I've written this before, but the one thing steroids is known for is it's recuperative powers. Meaning it helps your muscles and joints recover quicker from a workout. And not one person suspects the man that played in 21 seasons and 2,632 straight games never did anything questionable in an attempt to keep that streak alive? I'm not saying he did, I just think the question should be raised. Considering he played in the apex of 'The Steroid Era', I find it highly doubtful he didn't at least contemplate it at some point. Might be nice if someone as respected as him would talk about it, at least.

Tony Gwynn, on the other hand, appeared to have played in the steak and cheese era. Holy crap is that man large!

Heard a rumor (that I hope is not at all true) that the Red Sox might pursue A-Rod in the off season. Lowell is a free agent at the end of the year and the Sox are one team that could afford to lure him away from the Yankees. Please, if there really is some sort of higher being, don't let this happen. I would still be a fan, but I would hate myself and feel dirty and cheap.

That's it for today. Coming tomorrow, my tribute to a local boy who made good.

Today's distraction: Don't worry, I'm not making all the distractions baseball related. Although there are enough games that I could conceivably do just that. Today I'm giving you Line Rider, which can become addictive once you figure out all you can do with it. I like trying to get the guy to wipe out, but continue on his way to the end. I'm sadistic when it comes to my virtual creations.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Philly Cheese

My last day in Philly and must say that I enjoyed my stay. Except for a dickhead Secret Service guy (I know, he was just doing his job. Could have been polite about it, at least) nearly everyone I've met is friendly.

First I need to mention my friend Donna, who I worked with for the past three days and may have the most severe case of attention deficit disorder I've ever seen. I lost count of how many times she started a sentence only to be distracted halfway through and leave me imagining what it was she was going to say or ask. At one point I had to clap my hands and tell her to 'FOCUS!! What are you trying to tell me?' Donna also had some bizarre rash show up on her face, which wound up spreading to her arms and ears and sent her to the doctors. Doc gave her steroids, which made her sick to her stomach, which means she had to call in sick. So I am sitting in her office, by myself, attempting to finish up her project and not getting lost in the neighborhood when I head out for lunch. If you don't think this will be a liquid one, then you really don't know me at all.

Keep in mind the following impressions are from my two night, three day stay here and that I only saw the main downtown area. I have to recommend walking around a city to get the feel for it. I walked about six blocks from my Marriot to the office and like the way the city is setup. Doesn't look like it's great for driving as there are lots of rotaries and one way streets, but it also gives it a European feel.

One thing that struck me immediately is how many statues, monuments and works of art are all over the city. Take a look at this one:





It's titled 'Government by the People'. Looks more like a bunch of naked guys fighting oppression, but maybe that was the artist's subtle critique of democracy. Either way, it's a bit off putting. There are also statues of people I've never heard of all over the downtown area.

Something else Philly is big on (I guess) are fountains. There is one right outside the building, another one by city hall that has a big, square LOVE sign in front of it (see pic above), and yet another enormous one further down the main road. I like the effect though. Combined with the layout of the streets and the architecture of the old buildings, it really does feel like I'm in another country. Take a look at their city hall:



How cool is that thing? You can't see the details from that crappy picture, but there are statues of people looking down at you and anyone can stroll right through the middle. Plus it's massive. It takes up an entire city block and the rest of the city is planned around making that it's centerpiece. Must give props to the city planners on that move. Here's a shot from the other side. This is what you see looming in front of you when you drive into the city.



Directly across the street from City Hall is this:



This is the Masonic Hall or Temple or something. It has the Mason's symbol on the corner, but not sure if it's still in use or more of a historic landmark. Either way this entire area is impressive and I wouldn't mind just hanging out enjoying the scenery during my lunch hour.

Speaking of lunch, all you hear about when people mention Philly are the cheesesteaks. So, of course I had to try one. Guess what? It's steak and cheese on a sub roll. We have them in Boston, too, only we call them steak and cheese subs. What a gyp! I thought they were supposed to be something special down here? Donna, who lives here, says we really need to go to one of the specialty places, but let's be honest, this is steak and melted cheese we're talking about. How much different can it be? It's not like you can screw it up. I suppose if you get top of the line steak cuts, but they fry them up with onions and peppers, so the taste gets seared out of it anyway. I'm completely confused about the cheesesteaks.

Hey, French, can you get some nutritional info about those cheesesteaks when you have time? Want to know how clogged my arteries are at the moment and whether chest pains should be expected. Thanks.

Was delighted to find a Magianno's right outside my hotel. If you remember, I discovered one in McLean, VA and they have the most incredible cheesecake I've ever had. Plus good entrees, too. If you're wondering, I do believe I've gained back all the weight I lost in March during my three days here.

This might also explain why most of the people here are...um......let's just call them 'pleasantly plump'. I imagine that this city ranks, oh, let's say in the bottom 5 of healthiest cities in America.

I tried to get a picture of the river that runs through the city here, too, but couldn't do it justice. If you Bostonians think the Charles River is bad, then you obviously have never seen the Delaware. I don't even know how to describe the color. It's a combination of green and brown, but the worst possible combination imaginable. Let's just say if you accidentally fall in expect to look like this guy when they pull you out:


One final note. I had the best cab driver ever here. I snagged him at the airport and he got me to downtown, during rush hour, in less than 15 minutes. It was a work of art. Taking exits off the highway that weren't technically exits, cutting down side streets, acting like he was going straight then cutting over to take a left at the last minute (thus cutting off about 150 waiting vehicles), finding back street shortcuts and bridge off ramps that only a native and professional would know about. I was in awe. The best part was they have a flat rate from the airport to downtown - $26. Fantastic.

Heading home later today. Found out an old high school buddy of mine is a limo driver and I now refer to him as 'My Driver'. I think I might start calling him James just for the hell of it. Say this out loud to get the feel of it: 'My driver is picking me up at the airport tonight.'

Huh?!! Nice, isn't it!! And, in fact, he will be picking me up at the airport tonight and hanging out at my place to catch up when he drops me off.

Life is good. Enjoy your weekends, friends.


Today's distraction: Take a Philadelphia quiz. Since I know nothing about the city, I did horribly. I did get the last one right, though!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Another Cleaning

Want to scrape off some excess thoughts from the bottom of my brain. It’s a cleansing, often painful process. Cleansing for me; painful for you.

- Watching JD Drew bat against CC Sabathia was just embarrassing. He strikes out on a breaking ball in his first at bat. The very next at bat Sabathia throws him that same breaking ball three straight times. Drew can’t lay off it and can’t hit it. He swings or half swings at every one. On the bright side the Sox are only paying him $15 million this year.

- I really like this new shortstop the Sox picked up. Glad they dumped his evil twin brother as part of that deal, too.

- Nice to see Coco lighting it up, too. Love watching him play and one of the few players I want to see do well.

- Saw Kenny Rogers pitching for the Tigers last night and he looks exactly like someone’s alcoholic uncle that keeps showing up to family gatherings uninvited.

- It has just dawned on me that Tom Brady is most likely going to win this ESPN ‘Who’s Now’ fake, useless tournament. Honestly, I don’t know if this is a good thing or bad.

- Checked into the noisy, crowded, bustling Downtown Philadelphia Marriot and immediately was informed the movement around the hotel would be limited on Thursday. Why? Because our esteemed President is coming here and when the President shows up any sense of normalcy is thrown to the wind. I need to make sure I get out of the hotel before he shows or I may never get to work. Wait a minute……

- If you sense some bitterness with Presidential visits, it’s because I used to spend summers on Martha’s Vineyard. My aunt had a great place that she used to let us use for weeks at a time. It was great. I say was, because once Clinton decided to use it as his summer getaway, it’s became over crowded, over exposed and no longer fun. It’s so bad now that you can barely move around on the weekends. Stupid Clinton.

- Took seven year old to see ‘Transformers’ and despite some cool scenes, this movie has pretty much solidified Michael Bay as one of the worst directors working. Although my son did offer his review upon leaving the theater, ‘Dad….that was AWESOME!’

- I know what you’re thinking. Me taking a seven year old to a PG-13 movie. Fear not, I did my research and even called one of his friend’s mothers who took her son to it the week before. The only uncomfortable part came when there was a joke about the main character masturbating. Seven year old leans over and asks ‘Dad, what’s masturbating?’ I said, ‘You’ll learn about that when you’re older.’ To which he replies ‘When I’m eight?’

- My wife was describing the latest reality show atrocity she watches. Forget the name, but it's like 'The Bachelor' but with one group of 20 year olds and one group of 40 year olds and the bachelor being 30. This kicked off a heated debate between a group of us when I said that the 40 year olds don't stand a chance. Women (my wife included) were offended by that. 'Some of these 40 year olds are hot!' which wasn't my point. I was merely saying that if a man is in his 30s and he has to choose between a 20 something or a 40 something, the 20 something will win EVERY time. It has nothing to do with sexism or agism and everything to do with breeding. A man would want to have kids and the 20 year old would be in prime child bearing years. 40 year old women will have a harder time getting pregnant and will have more complications if she does.

Plus two women have a distinct advantage. The guy is 30 exactly, but two of the 20 somethings are 27 and 28. So there is only a 2-3 year difference in age. The 40 somethings are AT LEAST 10 years older and I was told there is a 48 year old. I've already predicted one of the girls between the ages of 25-29 will be the one he picks. Even got money riding on it. $10!! You can call me big spender now.

- Notice that everyone is now predicting the Yankees are going to be the wild card team and that the Sox better watch out and they're finally playing like they should....blah....blah. May I point out that the Yankees are beating up on the crappiest teams in the league. Their last three series were against Tampa Bay, Toronto (which they lost one) and Kansas City. And we're supposed to think this is how they'll play for the rest of the year? Yeah, KC took 2 out of 3 from the Sox, but our pitching is going to keep us on top. The only thing that has me worried is August when the Sox have two - that's 2 - 10 game road trips. Considering their tendencies to get tired and bored, that won't be a good month.

- That's all for today. Going to try and take some pics of downtown Philly while I'm here and give you my impressions. So far I'm liking this city. Nice mix of history and modern and the people are much friendlier than I expected. Not Baltimore friendly, but I think they get a bad rap. Throwing snowballs at Santa can have that effect, I guess.

- Oh, one more thing: I got yelled at by Secret Service this morning. I ran out of toothpaste and went to the lobby looking for the lobby shop to get some more. While there I unexpectedly discovered there is a Starbucks in the lobby. Wooooo!! Anyway, I took a wrong turn, saw a dude in that looked like security (nice suit, earpiece, sunglasses) and walked up to ask him where the store was. He stops me before I'm halfway to him by yelling 'No further, sir. You'll need to take the elevators on the other side.' As soon as he says 'No', two other guys came around the corner to stare me down. I said 'Just looking for the gift shop' at which point ANOTHER dude who works for the hotel popped around the corner to give me directions. As I walked away I looked back and they were still watching me. Wonder how many other guys were hiding around the corner. Turns out they were shutting down that entire wing so the President could enter and exit quickly and quietly.


Today's distraction: Here is a collection of funny bus ads. No, this has absolutely nothing to do with anything I've just written about. I tried and tried, but couldn't think of a tie in. Cut me some slack, I worked 14 hours yesterday and at least 4 of that was legitimate.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Bachelor Party

'Let's have a bachelor party with chicks and guns and fire trucks and hookers and drugs and booze!'

One of my oldest friends has finally decided to make things official between himself and his live in girlfriend of...crap...I don't know...a really long time. At least 5 years. He is getting married and has asked me to be his best man. Sorry, I should capitalize that to make it seem more important. I am going to be Best Man! Yeah, that's more like it.

As anyone knows, the Best Man is the one who gets to plan the bachelor party. And, as anyone knows, if I'm planning the bachelor party there is a very good chance this wedding may never happen. Hey, what kind of friend would I be if I didn't make sure he was aware of all his options. Exactly! No kind of friend at all.

As is always the case, his girl is trying to interject herself into the planning of said BP. I introduced the highly regarded idea of a few of us flying to Vegas for a long weekend. This was met with wifey giving me the 'Over my dead body' look, his fiancee drunkenly replying 'No fucking way' before spilling her espresso martini all over my $300 coat and him resisting my repeated attempts to just go to Vegas anyway and tell our women another story. He really wants to go, I can tell, but he knows no good will come of it.

In his defense, he makes the solid point that we would wind up either never being heard from again, in jail, married to some prostitute (high class, of course) we met at the craps table, or spending the rest of our natural lives sitting by the bar that has direct view of the topless pool. He neglected to mention losing all our money and drinking ourselves to death ala John Bonham and Bon Scott. All kidding aside, at least three of the above scenarios would happen. There is no doubt about it.

So with Vegas out of the equation, I've got some planning to do. His girl suggested 'Why don't you have a cookout at our place, then rent a van or limo and ride down to Foxwoods for the night.'

First of all, the only reason she wants us to hang at their place is so she can keep an eye on us. She's already made me promise no strippers, which, for a BP is almost like promising not to drink. Secondly, I'm not about to waste 4 hours of my party time sitting in a van while we cruise down to Foxwoods and back like a bunch of retirees on a Sunday morning after our Social Security checks came in. Thanks, anyway.

I've come up with some ideas. Please, leave ideas and/or comments. I need all the help I can get. There will be approximately 8-10 guys, almost all live in and around the Boston area. I figure to keep things fairly local for the benefit of everyone.

Jillian's/Felt/Any Other Pool Place: I actually like this idea a lot. Rent out a place that we can just hang out, play some pool, shoot some darts, drink massive amounts of beer, and have food catered on site. Will save on travel and clean up time. Plus, if we're in the Boston area whoever wants to stay on for the duration can hit the bar scene when we get sick of the room. And, if some random strippers show up unexpectedly, then what can we possibly do about it? One possible drawback would be me spending over a thousand dollars on booze. Again.

Sox Game Followed by Boozefest: Problem number one would be getting enough tickets for the game and you'll have more luck getting your hands on the Holy Grail than on 10 tickets seated together. It would be cheaper too. Plus my buddy is six foot eight and doesn't exactly 'fit' into the Fenway seats. Another option would be to take that simple Fenway tour just to get a good look at the park, then make it a day of boozing. Haven't looked into that yet.

Booze Cruise: The idea of being stuck in the middle of the harbor for 4 hours drinking $6 beer out of a can isn't really that appealing. Maybe that's just me.

PaintBall: Me and my buddy have actually done this a few times and had a blast. The problem would then be getting everyone showered (cause you sweat like a pig) and hooked up again for the actual party section of the day.

LaserTag: Wifey suggested this one and was met with 'That would be a great idea....if we were 12.' She hasn't offered any further suggestions, except to say divorce would be imminent if I followed through with the Vegas idea. She might know me a little too well.

Foxwoods: I'm keeping this idea on the list if man of honor really wants to do it. I think he'll go for the Jillians idea when he hears it as will the other gents involved.

Patriots Preseason Game: This is another one I'm high on. The trick will be pulling it off. The party won't take place until end of August - mid September depending on the availability of the other guys. If we can get enough tickets (and to a preseason game, how could we not?) we go see the Pats and spend all day tailgating. Possible con would be having to drive home after drinking all day. Still, this would be fun and it would double as a throw back day for us as we used to do this all the time when the Pats sucked and the stands were half empty.

Strip Club Tour: I offer this just for spite, although it would be fun to see how seedy and nasty we'd be willing to go.

That's it for me. My well of debauchery and depravity is running dry. Don't worry, I'm sure I'll have other moments of inspiration. I can't stem the flow of my alcoholic creativity.

As always, I'm open to any suggestions.

Today's distraction: One of the funniest sites I've seen in a while. One ingenious gentleman has created a site for the sole purpose of tracking what he and his girlfriend have argued about, including, but certainly not limited to, how to hang laundry and how to cut a kiwi.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Be Afraid

A few follow ups to past entries.

First, I have often semi-jokingly talked about Google taking over the world by offering free email, web hosting, and random other features to the general public. My argument was that no big business could be making any kind of money giving services away. Therefore they must be slowly trying to incorporate us into their 'Matrix'-like lair and brain wash us into submission.

Things are worse than I thought. Google is buying DoubleClick, a malevolant, disgusting online ad agency that has been the main focus of my uncontrollable rage for years now for a whopping $3.1 billion. If you aren't aware, DoubleClick invented a way to track what users are doing on the World Wide Web and send related popup or online ads to your system. Say you're surfing around reading up on Harry Potter. DoubleClick's software will see that you're interested in Harry Potter and next thing you know you see an ad for the new movie on your sidebar or a popup announcing the arrival of the new book.

I have no issue with the online ads. These free sites need to stay in business and it's a small price to pay for the services we're getting. What bothers me about DoubleClick is that they track what you're doing. If you know how to view your temporary internet files, you will see thousands of tiny files that end in doubleclick.net. This is how they track your activity. Placing invisible bits of code onto your computer without you knowing. Sounds like hacking to me.

This became such an inflammatory issue with privacy freaks (of which I'm one) DoubleClick had to settle state and federal lawsuits back in 2002. They were forced to purge data files that contained personal information that included names, phone numbers, addresses, and email addresses. They also had to change the way they presented their 'Privacy Statement' to the public. Earlier that same year, the company abandoned it's so called 'Intelligent Targeting' ad system, claiming it was having trouble selling the higher priced advertising due to the dot com collapses.

Now, Google, one of the more recognizable and powerful names in the online arena, will be controlling DoubleClick. See you all in the Matrix, my friends.


The next item involves the iPhone. Seems there is a rather glaring security flaw with the operating system that allows hackers to completely control the device. Researchers at Independant Security Evaluators figured out a way to hack into the device by tricking the phones to go to a fake web site which would then download a piece of code onto it. The code 'allowed them to tap the wealth of personal information the phones contain'.

To be fair, the iPhone is new and most security flaws can't be discovered until it's been released to the general public. Look at how many patches Microsoft has had to release. Thousands. And since the iPhone is basically a mini computer, expect more security issues than the normal cell phone.

In fact, expect a lot more. For the more popular an item is, the more people will try to wreak havoc upon it. Good luck, Apple. Now you'll know what it's like to have a target on your back.


Lastly, I have further ammunition in my war against corn based ethanol. If you're sick of hearing about it, bear with me. This will be the final nail in the coffin, I will rest my case, stop beating a dead horse, and a host of other cliches that mean I will finally shut the fuck up about it.

First is this article from the Washington Post about a study that has concluded additional corn fields planted in the Chesapeake Bay area will cause serious pollution problems. Quoth said article, 'corn generally requires more fertilizer than such crops as soybeans or hay. When it rains, some of this fertilizer washes downstream, and it brings such pollutants as nitrogen and phosphorus, which feed unnatural algae blooms in the bay. These algae consume the oxygen that fish, crabs and other creatures need to breathe, creating the Chesapeake's infamous dead zones'.

While I'm no environmental expert, creating seabed 'Dead Zones' can not be a good thing.

I'll ignore the rising corn prices that are making everything from tortillas, beef and chocolate more expensive and instead introduce you to an article written back in April 2006 in Business Week magazine. It points out that the mileage our cars get from using E85 (85% corn based ethanol, 15% standard petroleum) is 25-30% lower than when we use standard gas. Meaning we would have to fill up more often if we go the E85 route. This isn't Business Week's measurements, by the way. It comes from the EPA.

Even worse are the studies that claim E85 may cause MORE smog during the summer months and that it takes more energy to create than it gives back. Cellulosic ethanol, on the other hand, takes less energy to create than corn and, if initial studies mean anything, runs cleaner and more efficiently.

OK, I'm done. Promise no more ethanol talk.


Today's distraction: Witness the destruction (and subsequent rebuilding) of an iPhone. This is totally something I would do if I could afford it. I am geek, hear me roar.


Quick note: The BeachBum Good Will tour will be hitting the City of Brotherly Love from tomorrow until Friday. Will try to keep my adoring public entertained while I'm away, but can't promise anything. Since my public really isn't all that adoring, I won't be losing sleep over it.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Women Rule

An article in Psychology Today highlighted '10 politically incorrect truths about human nature'. Behavior, that may be considered racist, sexist, or completely against societal norms. Here are a few examples:

- Most suicide bombers are Muslim. Shocking, I know!!

- Men really do prefer blonds and women want to look like them.

- Humans are naturally polygamous, BUT, polygamy actually benefits the females more than the males. To be honest, I don't care who it benefits, let's just roll with human nature. This item is going to get it's own entry at some point, too.

- This one is my personal favorites - beautiful people have more daughters than sons. No idea why this is, but if it means more hot chicks in the world.....

While all of the above are interesting (well, except the Muslims) what really caught my eye were three items regarding men and their behavior. First is the entry about 'What Bill Gates and Paul McCartney have in common with criminals', which delves into why creative, criminal and/or innovative men become less so as they age.


This is something I have always been interested in. How does someone so artistic and creative just decide to stop writing songs or painting pictures or making movies? I always figured that the creative flow isn't something that can be stemmed or controlled. It just is and you give it an outlet when it arrives. The entry compares crime and creativity in that they may both be ways in which younger men display their naturally competitive desires.

What are they competing for? Why women, of course. Everything men do in their younger years (late teens to late 20s mostly) involves getting the attention of the most beautiful women. As any male reading this can tell you, this is no news flash. I cringe remembering the stupid things I've done to get the attention of, say, the hottie in History class or the girl I worked with who was just about to get married. Um...not that I've done anything crazy that resulted in suspension or getting someone to do something they would not want their significant other to know about. You know what? Let's just drop it. I was young and foolish and horny. So it goes.

So why crime? As this article states: 'In the physical competition for mates, those who are competitive may act violently toward their male rivals. Men who are less inclined toward crime and violence may express their competitiveness through their creative activities'.

Unfortunately for most of us stupid primate males, we often didn't realize we had a creative side until after we joined in the 'physical competition' for mates. That's why teenage boys tend to get into fist fights for basically no reason at all. It's also why our fighting, creativity, and innovative ideas tend to dwindle as we get older. We've got the woman, we've achieved some sort of financial security (although I would argue that being married infers NEVER having financial security, especially if wifey likes to shop and buy stupid things that we have no use for. Oy!), and, probably more importantly, we have our children. Studies have shown that criminals that have children are less likely to continue their aggressive behavior.

Article again: 'The cost of competition, however, rises dramatically when a man has children, when his energies and resources are put to better use protecting and investing in them'. I know I don't go out partying nearly as much since I've had the boys. Doing the boys night out once in a while is still fun, but the odds of fights, arrests, etc aren't really worth the risk when you have two impressionable kids at home.

But wait there's more! Number 8 on this list is how the male midlife crisis is a myth. That the middle aged man isn't acting out because of his age, but because of his wife's age. That's right, when women hit the age of menopause, their husbands rush out and buy a shiny red sports car or a boat or start working out again, not because they're worrying about aging, but because - subconsciously or not - they're trying to attract a younger, healthier woman to replace his current wife.

Hold on. One more. Number 9 says it's 'natural for politicians to risk everything for an affair' but only if the politician is a man. Article again: 'Betzig points out that while powerful men throughout Western history have married monogamously (only one legal wife at a time), they have always mated polygynously (they had lovers, concubines, and female slaves)'. The Betzig they refer to is Darwian historian Laura Betzig who points out that powerful men throughout Western history have a very high reproductive rate. That they use their position of power to have sex with as many women as they can. Thomas Jefferson meet the world. The world, Thomas Jefferson.

You sensing a trend? If it's that men suck, then you're only half right. If it's that men will do anything, risk anything, say anything, or buy anything to attract the most beautiful women in the world, then you are right on! Basically men may have the positions of power (although that is quickly changing) but we will always bend to the will of the women that surround us. And those women doesn't necessarily have to be our wives. In fact, since we're naturally polygamous, it would involve many different women.

Basically everything we, as men, do involves trying to impress the girls. Gates didn't invent Microsoft to become rich and famous, he was trying to get laid. Rich and famous was just a way to get there. Beethoven wasn't trying to become timeless, he was probably courting some cute girl who lived down the street. Men have waged wars, painted, murdered, stolen, written, composed, lied, invented, joined teams, changed jersey numbers (sorry French), been suspended from high school, and, above all, made complete jack asses of ourselves in order to get some.


Why do you think so many young boys fantasize about becoming a famous athlete? Only part of it is the competitive side of things. Only part of it is the financial reward. The majority of the reason is because women are attracted to athletic men. If they are rich, famous and athletic, well then BINGO!! You can basically have your pick of the women throwing themselves at you. What guy reading this wouldn't trade places with Tom Brady in a millisecond?

So, yes, as men we do suck at times, but it's your fault, ladies. Stop being so damn beautiful and gracious and sexy and attractive and funny and we will stop trying to impress you despite our relationship status. Not that I would ever do such a thing. I'm just speaking for all the other men in the world who don't have my supernatural will power to resist your feminine charms.

Will power!!!! (Fist in the air)

Today's distraction: As a tribute to men everywhere, I give you The Stupid Test. Gotta admit I did horribly on this. But that's really no shock, now, is it?

Friday, July 20, 2007

Ride Fresh

After one of the more hellacious morning commutes in recent memory, it's time to lay down some basic etiquette for riding the subway. I'm up to here (picture me putting my hand at my neck) with these inconsiderate, selfish people that litter my daily life. Time to take out the trash!

I'll keep these as simple as possible, since the general subway riding population seem to have limited mental capacity. Can you tell I'm a little annoyed today? And it's not even 8:30.

Away we go.

Getting On and Off: You would think this would be simple, right? The people getting on wait for the people to get off. Then they get on. Apparently this too complicated a procedure for the people waiting on the platform as many of them attempt to rush into the train before anyone can move. This isn't a Who concert, people. If you block people getting off there will be fewer seats available for you to rush to and you make everyone else wait longer as people attempting to get off fight their way through the oncoming stampede. Just wait an extra 10 seconds before you push your way in. That's all I'm asking.

Oh, and standing directly in front of the door so people getting off have to step around you doesn't help. Stand off to the side so there is a nice, wide, direct route off the train. You'll be surprised how quickly people move when there is a path.

Standing by the door: I have no problem if people want to stand by the door. I do it all the time. It keeps you out of the way and you don't have to pretend to not be looking down the girl's blouse who's sitting in front of you. But if you stand by the door, be prepared to move when the doors open. Standing there in bliss makes things worse. Either step off and let people out or step to the side to make it more passable.

Bags: Be aware of your bags, backpacks, or anything you are carrying. This morning a woman next to me kept hitting me with her bag as she chatted with her commuting friend. I even gave it an elbow back at one point, thinking she would get the point, but she was too involved in her own miserable existence (surprise, she was complaining about something) to notice.

And you backpackers, I don't know where you think you're going, but if you pack like your going hiking in the Himalayas, then put the bag on the floor and/or stop turning every which way so you can bump into every single person on the train. The appropriate move if you are carrying everything you own is to wait until you get a half empty train. Or walk. You want to go hiking anyway, so start before you get on the train.

Sitting/Standing: As a stander (unless the train is empty) this is one of my biggest annoyances. I will be standing the entire ride and just as we enter a stop, a person who has been sitting decides to stand up to show he or she is getting off this stop. Well that's great, but now we're so close we might as well be kissing. Anyone sitting needs to let the people standing out of the train BEFORE they stand up and head for the door. You had the nice comfortable ride, you can wait for other people to get off first. Or at the very least, wait until the train stops and the doors open THEN stand up to show you're getting off.

Singers: Don't.

Cell Phones: Use them sparingly. I don't want to hear how Sheila at work is soooo jealous of you and you just don't understand why she has such an attitude. You are the very reason I bought an iPod. Just call if you need to let someone know you are running late or to call for a ride. I think there should be a rule that any and all cell phone calls on a train be limited to 60 seconds. Christ, you're only on the train for 20 minutes anyway. What ever earth shattering news you may have can wait.

Hygeine: Please try to keep your self from smelling like shit. This really doesn't apply to just subway travel, either, but any sort of public transportation. Or just life in general, for that matter. There is nothing more nauseating then entering a train and having a stench that could be emanating from the depths hell hit you in the face. Be it a homeless guy who hasn't showered in years, someone who had massive amounts of garlic at lunch, or some woman who thinks drowning herself in perfume is perfectly acceptable ('It wears off during the day!'). I propose a public 'delousing' shower before entering any public transportation station. Just a simple spray that eliminates all odors from people walking through.

General Courtesy: Men - yeah, especially you 40 something guys dressed in suits - give up your seat for the 95 year old woman who is barely hanging onto the pole while her legs tremble with fatigue. Don't pretend you don't see her. And, you, the big, fat, lazy woman! Get up so the guy in the ankle cast can sit down. Just try being polite. You'll be surprised how pleasant people can be when you're nice to them. Well...not that I would know first hand.

I'm sure there are more I've missed, but these are the big ones. I might print these out into a simple, very LARGE format and post them all over the subway stops in Boston.

If I can't use this space to make this world a better place, than what good is it? Other than entertaining myself, that is.

Today's distraction: Take a ride on the Candy Train. You have to wait a few seconds for an ad to get out of the way, but it's a simple game that wears thin real fast. Hey, I didn't say all these distractions would be classics.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Ethanol 2.0

Remember my largely despised rant against corn based ethanol and how a study concluded that if all vehicles in the country ran on this type of fuel we would have just as many - but different - pollution problems and air quality issues? If not and you want to catch up, read this and pay attention to the comments where I get slammed by Bob Moffitt from ALAUM Clean Fuels Association. That was fun.

The reason I bring this up is because Georgia has just given permission to a company called Range Fuels to open a massive ethanol production plant. Range plans on building a plant capable of creating 20 million gallons of ethanol per year, with hopes of increasing that to 100 million by 2011. The cost of this plant is estimated at $150 million, which doesn't seem that bad when you consider the goal. For the record, $76 million of that is coming from a Department of Energy Grant. Wonder if the CEO of Range Fuels used to work for Halliburton?

I'm sure you think I'm about to get all angry and go on another rant about how much money we're pumping into ethanol before we have a real clear idea on how this will effect our environment, but you'd be wrong. I will admit there is a LOT of money being thrown around the ethanol kingdom, which in turn can distort rational thought, but the reason I'm in favor of this particular factory is because it's going to be producing cellulosic ethanol.

Anyone still left reading probably just asked 'what's dat?' Cellulosic ethanol uses plant waste such as wood chips, corn stalks, rice straw, grass or anything that would normally need to be disposed of to make fuel. If you just thought 'Shit, now it's going to be much more expensive to mulch my garden!' you weren't alone. But I did some research and found out that this report concluded the land resources in the U.S. alone could sustain producing 1.3 billion tons of biomass per year. That's billion with a B.

Besides, we could always sell our lawn clippings to make up the difference. I smell easy money all over this. I'm already considering putting my compost pile up for bid on Ebay.

If you're wondering (and I know you are!), that biomass will be sufficient to create enough cellulosic ethanol to replace more than 30% of the petroleum we use. Better yet, it will produce jobs and industry opportunities we never even thought of before. Right here in the United States of America. Considering how many jobs have gone to India lately, this is good news.

Want more good news? Try this article from Technology Review which claims researchers at MIT and Batelle Pacific Northwest National Labs have discovered a way to create ethanol out of trash. No shit!

Get it? No shit? We're talking about trash?

Anyway, the process 'doesn't produce the pollutants that have historically plagued efforts to convert waste into energy'. There is some lengthy explanation about the process which involves synthesizing waste and gases, but it's all over my head. I'll just take the brainiacs at their word that it works and pat them on the back. Let's just think about this for a second. Imagine all the crap we place in landfills and dump in the ocean being converted cleanly to a usuable fuel that will reduce emissions.

This isn't to say everyone is all warm and fuzzy inside about this new ethanol. Some researchers have already given up on both forms of ethanol (corn and cellulosic), claiming there is no way we could produce the massive amounts needed to make it cost effective. There is a group that is looking into using algea, which makes oil naturally, as another possible option. I just hope our cars don't smell like low tide when we get below a quarter of a tank.

There are still hurdles (always with the hurdles). Financing more ethanol producing plants being a major one. But so is, according to John Howe, VP of public affairs at Celunol (based in Cambridge, MA no less!) the goal of 15 billion gallons produced per year our government wants them to reach. Mr. Howe? 'That's well beyond what any one company or a large number of companies [can do]. It will take a massive national effort to get close to that goal.' Thank you, sir.

Plus there is always the chance this process will be too expensive to be able to compete with, not only standard petroleum based fuels, but the corn ethanol already being produced.

It's all baby steps, though. Who knows, in another year someone may have figured out how to utilize my own natural tendencies to power the entire world. What? Get enough Stella in me and anything's possible.

Except karaoke.


Today's distraction: Since it costs $150 bucks to fill my tank these days, I figured we could all use some cheap vacations. Here is a list of various cities and what it costs to stay in each area. You'll notice the main eastern cities are waaaaayy at the bottom. And, why it's nice India is cheap, there is no way in hell I'm staying in a cramped, hostel room with 33 other people. Thanks, anyway.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Hunger Pangs

Current date: 7/17/07

Current time: 10:34 am

Current BeachBum Status: Fucking starving!

I have to wait another hour and a half before lunch! What gives? This is becoming a major distraction. I'm ready for lunch by 10 in the morning. What's even more confusing is that I have been eating breakfast every morning before I leave the house. Big, heaping bowl of Special K. Is eating breakfast causing me to be more hungry?

It's possible. I read somewhere (yeah, I read!) that eating breakfast can raise your metabolism. In fact, they studied a bunch of people and asked them to do nothing but add a healthy breakfast to their regular diet every day for a few weeks. Not bacon, eggs, sausage. Just a bowl of cereal or oatmeal or fruit. On average the people lost 5 pounds. Just by eating breakfast! Who knew you could lose weight by eating more?

I've also been going to the gym on a more regular basis. Not having boys that wake up 4-5 times a night can have that effect. Plus, I've discovered the perfect motivation for myself. If I don't go to the gym in the morning, I can't drink beer that night. Let me tell you, when that alarm goes off at 5 am and I hit the snooze that thought is enough to get me to drag my tired ass out of bed.

During one of my recent business trips I was talking to a fellow who's wife is a dietitian. She says that the best diet is one where you have a nice, big, healthy breakfast then just small snacks the rest of the day combined with a small lunch. Just fruits, salads and low fat snacks. Considering the current rumbling going on in the old tummy, I may have to try this.

The problem, of course, is what to eat. I don't mind having to snack instead of eat a full lunch, but I am a terrible lunch planner. I usually decide what I'm in the mood for about 30 minutes before it's time to go. I never brown bag it, because it's boring and I like variety in my meals.

So what do I do?

Here's a rough outline off the top of my head:

6:30 AM - Breakfast. Usually bowl of cereal, but may have to expand this to add apples or some kind of fruit. Not a big banana guy, which seems to be the breakfast fruit of choice. Might just have two bowls of cereal and be done with it.

10 AM - Mid Morning Snack. This is usually when I start getting hungry again. Maybe a larger breakfast will push me to 10:30? Here I'm thinking some apples or bananas. A bagel? Maybe downstairs cafe has a fruit salad bowl or something I can pick up. Failing that I'll just grab a bag of animal crackers. Love those!

Noonish - Lunch. Will probably just have a salad from now on. Usually a sandwich guy, but like salads from certain places around work. Sue's Deli is one. They have a great salad there.

(Random sidenote: Do you think lunch is like the middle child of a dysfunctional family? Always being overlooked and developing an inferiority complex because everyone praises breakfast as the 'most important meal of the day' and looks forward to and plans out dinner? Lunch, especially in the workplace, always gets taken for granted. Poor lunch. I've always looked forward to you, lunch, and I always will.)

3 PM - Afternoon snack. This will be the toughest as it usually involves hitting Starbucks for my afternoon pick-me-up. Might just pass on the coffee from now on and get something more substantial. Like frozen yogurt. Although I did notice that Starbucks sells a carrot and celery bin that has ranch dressing in it. Might have to look into that if they aren't charging $8 for it. Besides being a big 'if' on that pricing, I can't believe I'm resorting to carrots and celery for an afternoon snack. Will I start growing breasts soon? If so, is that a bad thing or a good thing?

6 - 7 PM - Dinner. I'm a big seafood guy, especially during the summer so might stick with that. Chicken, too. Something with protein seems important here. Otherwise, I'll be laying face down on my plate halfway through the meal.

Summary: Doesn't look like I need to change much. Heavier breakfast, lighter lunch, dinner stays pretty much the same. I just need to snack healthier throughout the day to compensate for the lighter lunch. I can do that. Hell if I dropped 14.6 pounds in 31 days, I can do this.

I will keep you updated on progress or lack thereof. Although I might find it tough to type after I've gnawed my own arm off.

Damn, I'm hungry!


Today's distraction: Play Cuisine King. It's harder than it really should be, but still fun.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Back to the Minors

Kason Gabbard shutting out the Royals last night made me realize the major difference between the Yankees and the Red Sox the last few years. The Sox have a TON of young talent coming up through their system. Gabbard, Jon Lester (who we already know can pitch in the majors), Ellsbury, Pedroia, David Murphy (who I really liked when he came up at the end of last season), and especially Clay Buchholz, who has one of the deadliest curve balls I've ever seen. They even highlighted one of them on the 'Baseball Tonight' segment 'That's Nasty' when he was pitching in AA Portland!

Let's not forget about Craig Hansen and Manny Delcarmen who have had their share of problems, but seem to be getting things together just in time for the September roster expansions. Delcarmen in particular has looked very effective in his middle relief role. Not walking batters can do that.

Meanwhile, the Yankees' system is close to barren. Besides the two Phillips (pitcher and first baseman) who do they have that is close to being ready? It could be that I just hear more about the Red Sox prospects because I live in Boston, but I keep reading that one of the reasons the Yankees are having trouble making trades is because they don't have any prospects other teams want. Cashman has also publicly said one of his priorities was to replenish the farm and the Randy Johnson trade was one of the steps towards doing just that.

While they're busy with that long term project, let's take a look at what is coming or has already arrived from Pawtucket.

Kason Gabbard: Gotta admit, I never heard of this guy until he filled in for Beckett. He's 3-0, just pitched a three hit shutout (granted, it was the Royals, but still) and looks like an above average 4 or 5 starting pitcher. Nice to know he's there to replace Tavarez when he implodes, if he hasn't already.

Dustin Pedroia: Doesn't look like much, but he's stubborn at the plate (getting on base nearly 40% of the time), solid in the field and it appears all his teammates love having him around. Solid Rookie of the Year candidate.

Jacoby Ellsbury: Everyone keeps talking about Johnny Damon when they talk about this kid, but I see him as our own version of Jose Reyes. He brings a level of excitement to Fenway I haven't seen since Fred Lynn was here. Plus, seven year old loves that fact that we saw him play in Lowell when he was in single A. Remember that, DA? You were there.

Jon Lester: Was 7-2 last year before he was diagnosed with Lymphoma and spent the winter thankfully getting healthy. Doesn't seem quite back yet, but will conceivably be on the roster at the beginning of next year.

Clay Buchholz: I'm going to allow a scouting report to describe this kid. 'Buchholz has a low-to-mid 90s four-seam fastball, a two-seam fastball with decent movement, a slider, a hard 12-to-6 curveball, and a change-up'. That's five pitches he throws. And his fastball has hit 97 on occasion. Oh, he also throws what he calls a 'circle change'. No idea what it is (think Mussina uses it) but that is officially six pitches he can throw and all are effective. If he can put all this together and throw them all for strikes he could be the best pitcher the Red Sox have ever had. Giddy is the name of the game. I would really like to see the Sox win the AL East early just to see him come up and pitch in the majors a few times.

David Murphy: Left hand hitting outfielder who, if he can hit for more power, will be a nice addition to this team. In his 23 ML games, he's hitting .357 with 1 homer. When is Manny's contract up?

Brandon Moss: Another lefty outfielder who has hit .306 with 13 homers in AAA this year and has a CANNON for an arm. International League All Star and hits to all fields for average and power. Don't hear much about him, but could be fantastic when he arrives. I'm picturing a more athletic, more white, David Ortiz which probably isn't even close. I can dream, though.

Those are the highlights, but there is also lesser known players like first baseman Aaron Bates who is hitting .317 with 19 homers in Greenville. Jed Lowrie, Portland's shortstop who is hitting .297 with an on base percentage of .406. Lars Anderson, another Greenville player. Word has it he has one of the best swings of any prospect and he's just 19.

All of this doesn't even include players already established. You know like Jonathan Papelbon or Kevin Youkilis. Or how about the players that came up through the Sox system that were traded away. Like Kelly Shoppach or Hanley Ramirez or Cla Meredith or .....oh, let's just stop there before I ruin my own good mood.

One more thing: You can put all the stats and scouting reports in the trash once you report to the big leagues. It's a completely different animal than most of these players have never experienced. I don't know how to put this precisely, but the young players that have come up and played for the Boston team just seem READY. They don't panic, they don't look scared and they have a great approach. Pedroia is a perfect example. He had a shitty first month, but just kept at it; kept working hard and taking the same approach. Look at him now. This seems to be the common denominator with all the young guns. They look like they belong.

Obviously, you can't always depend on your own internal players. You need signings like Papi or Manny. Trades that bring you the Variteks. But the teams that seem to stay good for the longest time always find players from within to plugs gaps. Teams like the Braves, the Twins, the As. They have a rich, full system of players that always seem ready when they get their chance. I never could figure out how they did it.

Now the Sox are doing the same thing, but can still be a major player in the free agent signings and Dice-K type auctions. This is a very good thing for Sox fans.

Today's distraction: Familiarize yourself with some of the future Sox Legends. It's the Lowell Spinners (the Sox single A affiliate) 2007 roster. I have to admit, Willy Mota looks like a keeper. No idea if he's good or not, but just the name sounds like a superstar.

'Now starting for the American League All Stars....Willy....MOTAAAAAA!!!'

Monday, July 16, 2007

Hit 'Em Where It Hurts

I've been holding off writing about a movie I've seen recently, but only because I wasn't sure I could do it proper justice. I've actually started writing it twice, but scrapped both versions because it wasn't coming out right.

Considering the Archdiocese of Los Angeles just paid out 660 million dollars in their sexual abuse lawsuit, I want to give it another shot. Not because justice has finally been served. Far from it. And not because it's another chance for me to take cheap shots at the Catholic Church, although that's an opportunity I rarely pass up. It's because this movie has scarred me in such a way that I get angry whenever I see Roger Mahoney. If you click on that link to the news story you will see his picture. Just seeing him now causes a physical reaction in me. I fucking hate this guy.

Allow me to backtrack. I watched a documentary called 'Deliver Us From Evil' about a month ago that interviewed victims, Roman Catholic officials and other peripheral people that were directly involved in the abuse. It begins with an interview with the soft spoken, Irish lilted Father Oliver O'Grady who just happens to have sexually abused children throughout the state of California for nearly 30 years. It's one of many disturbing facades this film rips away for all to see. Some of our monsters are ingratiating, charming and likable to our faces while practicing the most hideous crimes against the most innocent of victims behind our backs.

Unfortunately, that's just the beginning. For when parents brought their fears about Father O'Grady's to the attention of the Catholic Church, the Archdiocese's solution was to transfer O'Grady to another Parish about 100 miles away. They did make O'Grady promise to never do it again, but we all know how addicts take to promises. Anyway, O'Grady continued to sexually abuse and sodomize children in his new Parish which brought criminal charges.

The the Archdiocese's solution was to transfer O'Grady to another Parish about 100 miles away. This is not a recording. Intermingled with the path O'Grady took was videotaped depositions with the Los Angeles Archdiocese upper echelon about their handling of O'Grady. Prominent in the depositions is one Cardinal Roger Mahony who's sense of entitlement and denial of knowing anything about O'Grady is nauseating. Hand written notes from Mahony to O'Grady offering support were presented and Mahony still 'couldn't recall' anything about the situation. By the time this movie was over, I was more angry with Mahony than O'Grady. Never before had I seen such a display of pomposity, feigned ignorance and annoyance before. Frankly, I don't expect to see it again, either.

O'Grady, on the other hand, is candid and open about his crimes and strikes me as someone who was looking for some sort of help and never got it. He never denies anything, even when he was officially charged or confronted by angry parents. He acts like a scolded child more than a monster.

This, by no means, excuses what he did. One of the more powerful aspects of this film is showing the ripple effects of his crimes. Heartbreaking interviews with parents of the children especially. The most memorable being one father breaking down in tears recounting when he figured out why his daughter never told him she was being abused by O'Grady. She was seven at the time and didn't tell him because he once said that he would kill anyone that hurt her. She asked a friend what would happen to someone if they killed someone and the friend told her they would go to jail for the rest of their lives. So, rather than tell her father about the abuse, she kept quiet to keep him from going to jail for the rest of his life. As a parent, I don't know if I could ever handle hearing this sort of thing. Sacrificing their own innocence because of their love for you. If I didn't already think so, my reaction would be the same as this father, who states near the end of the film, 'There is no God. No true God would let this happen to a child.'

But the true crime belongs to the Church. Instead of responding to the abuse in an appropriate manner, they tried to hide what was going on. Transferring O'Grady around the state, hoping he would see the error of his ways and crossing their fingers nobody else would come forward was hardly the right approach. As anyone in the Boston area can tell you, this seems to be standard operating procedure for the Roman Catholic Church. Couple that with some of O'Grady's victims, now adults, travelling to the Vatican to seek a meeting with the Pope, only to be turned away at the front gate and all hope of any sort of humanity, sympathy or empathy coming from the Church vanishes.

It's difficult for me to recommend this film. It's not exactly feel good viewing, but I think it's necessary. I didn't have a healthy dose of outrage regarding what happened, both here and in California until I watched this. Now I can't help it. Cardinal Mahony is the poster boy for all the arrogance, ignorance and 'holier than thou' attitude the Catholic Church has exhibited during these abuse allegations. Apologies (yes, he offers one) that are 20 years too late won't help.

Part of me hopes there is a Heaven and Hell; that the afterlife follows the rules of the Church. I just wonder what the punishment is for sacrificing the innocence and safety of children in order to protect your reputation.

Today's distraction (not that I'm in the mood now): The most ridiculous set of driving rules ever. This is how the Vatican spends it's free time?

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Therapy - Session Five

'I've been doing a lot of thinking about what you told me last time.' Therapist is wasting no time, talking before we even settle into our usual seats.

'How much thinking and do I get charged for that time?'

'You've been working with lawyers too long,' she responds. But she's smiling, which I take as a good sign. 'Besides, your plan covers all of this, so don't worry about it.'

'And what were your thoughts?' For the first time since we started this, I'm genuinely interested in what she has to say. I also don't mind that she's breaking our rule.

'I know I'm breaking the rule not to talk about that day until the end...'

Wow, she's good.

'...so you can decide if you want to hear it now or later.'

I gesture towards her. A 'go right ahead' signal.

'Great! I actually think you do feel guilty about what happened. I mean, you wouldn't be here otherwise, right?'

I wait a beat, thinking it might be rhetorical and mentally score myself a point when she continues.

'Your anger and other symptoms certainly speak to you being unbalanced since that day, so you may be exhibiting your guilt in other ways. You might not consciously feel guilt, but it's there and we need to address it before too long.'

'I'll think on that,' I say, but I won't. She's dead wrong on my guilt. I feel none. I may be traumatized by the entire thing, but guilt hasn't been part of the problem. Not for what I did, anyway. Maybe for waiting to do it, but not for the actions themselves. Those fuckers deserved every bit of it and I would do the same thing all over again.

'You don't buy it?' That she's reading me so well is becoming troublesome. It's unnerving.

I just shrug, 'Not sure. I want to think on it a bit first.'

'Fair enough. How are you today? You have any more episodes since last time you were here?'

'Nothing I couldn't handle. I actually got out and about the other day. In fact, right after I left here, David picked my up and we went out to lunch. You ever been to The LightHouse? Just down the street on the left?'

'Yes! They have a great breakfast there'

'I'll keep that in mind. Had the chicken salad sandwich. It was good.' Although it's hard to screw up chicken salad. Shit, I really hope I thought that.

'Get there for breakfast if you can. They make any kind of omelet you can think of.'

'I'll try.'

'What else? You and David okay?'

'Better. The lunch was a sort of sit down for us. Just hashing some stuff out.'

'Such as?'

Such as none of your business, is what I want to say. But since I'm getting better at censoring my initial thoughts, I say instead, 'I told him to come right out and tell me when I'm being a bitch. When I'm taking things out on him. He has a tendency to keep things to himself and with everything that's happened he's afraid of pushing me the other way.'

'What do you mean by the other way?'

'It was his term. I think he meant that since I'm pretty unstable, he didn't want to stress me out more by pointing out other flaws. I told him, that that would actually be good and I don't want him catering to me or babying me in any way. Him tip toeing around me has never been the way we've acted, so by doing that now he was making things worse. I want him to treat me like he's always treated me. Makes me feel more normal.'

'It's good you can talk to him about that.'

'Yeah, I've always been able to tell him things. One of the reasons I love him. He's never judged me or talked down to me about anything.'

'You should know that he is probably having a hard time, too. Typically, spouses aren't really sure how to react and will do one of two things. Either ignore it and pretend it never happened or over compensate. Babying, as you put it.'

'That's it? Don't some ever just get up and leave?'

'Well, I'm sure that's happened. I was just giving typical responses.'

'We talked about going away for a week. He's got vacation time and it might do us some good to get away from here and let things settle down. We started getting phone calls again. Just changed our number, too, but somehow the reporters got a hold of it. Did I tell you this already?'

She shakes her head, but I wonder if she would need to look at her notes to remember. How many other patients does she have besides me? How could she possible remember all the details of every session?

'Anyway, they've started calling again and we think going far away might be best. Just go on a cruise or out west for a week or two. Let some other story take over.'

'Do you think that will happen? You seem to be a story that is hanging on.'

'Yeah, little girl takes out three potential terrorists.'

'You consider them terrorists?'

'They were murderers. They can try to hide behind what ever reasoning was letting them sleep at night, but they were psychos, pure and simple.' A familiar edge enters my voice. Comes on every time I talk about the three of them. A touch of anger I have become comfortable with.

'How have you been sleeping?'

'A little better, but there are still times I can't shut down.' I consider telling her that I think these sessions seem to be helping, but decide it will pump up her ego. I don't want that.

'Have you still been watching baseball?'

'No, it's lost me. Too many boring games in a row. We splurged and got HBO, so I've seen 'Anchorman' about 50 times this past month. Been trying to catch up with 'The Sopranos', too, but they haven't been showing them in order. I might need to rent the DVDs to get up to speed.'

'Didn't they just show the final episode?'

'Yeah, and I've seen that one already.' This earns me a funny look from Therapist. 'I know. David said it's like reading the last chapter in a book, but I don't care how it ends. I'm more interested in how it began and the stories along the way.'

'Did you like it? I heard a lot of people weren't too happy with how it ended.'

'It was okay. Did you watch?'

She shakes her head.

'I just didn't get the whole thing about the daughter parallel parking. I was getting impatient with it. Just wanted it to end.'

'Think a lot of people would agree with you. Feel like doing an exercise with me?'

She does this a lot. Gets me talking about mundane, every day things then shifts gears and gets to what she really wants to do. That it is effective is even more frustrating.

'The last exercise we did left me a mess for days afterwards,' I reply. I'm referring to her forcing the memory of Angela being marched out the door to her death. Not exactly a moment I like to relive.

'Sorry about that. We therapists call that flooding. It forces a bunch of bad memories on you at once in order to get you used to dealing with the worst ones. It's supposed to make you feel less over whelmed with the trauma. I think I pushed that on you a bit early.'

You think? Fairly certain this was only in my head again. I'm getting good. 'So what's this exercise?' I ask.

'It's fairly simple. I have a sheet here,' she reaches to her left and picks up a single piece of paper, 'that has descriptions on it. Single words that describe feelings.' She leans forward and hands it to me.

On it are two columns of words. Things like 'angry', 'sad', 'happy', I pick out right away.

'I want you to circle the words that best describe how you felt during certain parts of the ordeal. This first sheet will be when the men first came in and you understood what was going on.'

'When they first came in and when I first realized what was happening are two different moments.'

'That's okay, let's combine them. Circle any words that best describe what was going through you during that time.'

Immediately I wonder if 'urine' is on the list and nearly laugh out loud. I bite my lip, scroll through the words and circle the following: scared, angry, sad, confused, helpless, desperate. At the bottom is a blank line for me to fill in any words I wish to add that aren't on the list. I leave that blank and hand it back. Therapist places it face down on the desk, picks up another of the same sheets and hands this new one to me.

'Now let's circle the words that best describe how you felt after everything was over.'

I take a minute to browse the words again. I'm not even sure how I felt other then numb, but that isn't on the list. I circle sad, angry, confused, scared and pause looking for others that fit. I don't see what I'm looking for so I write a single word. More than any other description, this is the one I felt most acutely.

I hand back the sheet and, again, she places it face down on the desk without looking at it. 'Ready for your question?'

'Ready!' But I'm wondering if she'll look at that last sheet before I leave. I'm already regretting writing in that word; afraid it will reveal too much about myself. About how sick I may actually be.

'When did you know you had to do something?'

'You mean when did I.....?'

'When did you know the men were there to kill people?'

'After Susan. After they took Susan. I was trying to listen to who they were talking to, but they didn't seem to be talking to anyone. There were no demands to the police, no threats or discussion. They barely said anything to each other. They just picked one, walked out the door and when they were done would come back and pick out another. They were very....don't know what the word is...deliberate in what they were doing.'

'Susan was which one?'

'She was the receptionist. They killed her second.' I have the sequence memorized. Tracy, Susan, Megan, Charlene, Angela. I was supposed to be next.

'So after Susan you knew?'

'Or suspected at least. I kept waiting for the men to do something. Say something. But they just sat there. They did nothing.' I can no longer hold back my tears thinking about this. The men. The power brokers and leaders of the company sitting there like little children. Eyes wide, hearts and heads narrow and only thinking about self preservation. 'Why didn't they do anything?!'

'Traumatic events like this cause...'

'BULLSHIT!! Don't you see? I saw as it was happening. They sat back because they were safe!'

'I don't understand. How were they safe?'

I wipe my eyes, blow my nose. Crying time is done. My anger has taken over again. Pure, ice cold rage. 'They were killing the women first. The men were safe until there were no more women. Those FUCKS!'

And here my tears start again. Despite my rage or because of it, I am inconsolable.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Spinster

Meet Senator David Vitter. He is a Republican Senator for the state of Louisiana that used to be a Representative for his district. A life long politician, as will soon become glaringly evident.

He is, like all Conservative Christians, a devoted family man. He loves his wife (like any politician would claim otherwise) and has four beautiful children. There is even a candid picture of him with said family on his website. Don't they look adorable? And look to the right. He's actually talking to a group of people. What a guy!

Quick sidenote: Why do all politicians use the same scenes in their ads and websites? There I am with my family. There I am talking to the common people, thus proving I really am human. Look, there I am at my desk writing what has to be some earth shattering piece of legislation like declaring June 8, 2007 'National Weasel Day'. I want to see one of them sitting at a bar downing a shot or taking a wipe out on a surf board. Think outside the box, Politicos. You all bore me and I don't believe any of it!

Vitter, has been an outspoken opponent of gay marriage, a strong supporter of Bush's tax cuts, and basically backed anything that the Republicans wanted him to. He's voted with his right wing cronies more than 85% of the time. Surprisingly low for a freshman Senator.

Did I mention he's also been a long time client of a Washington, DC escort service. You notice I didn't use 'allegedly' or 'apparently'? That's because he came out and apologized for using her when his phone number was among those published when Pamela Martin and Associates decided to release their client list to the public. Seems the proprietor of this establishment needed to raise funds for her lawyer fees after the Feds charged her with 'racketeering for allegedly running a prostitution ring out of homes and hotel rooms in the Washington area'.

Here is the apology in all it's uncomfortable glory:

"This was a very serious sin in my past for which I am, of course, completely responsible. Several years ago, I asked for and received forgiveness from God and my wife in confession and marriage counseling. Out of respect for my family, I will keep my discussion of the matter there -- with God and them. But I certainly offer my deep and sincere apologies to all I have disappointed and let down in any way."

Wonder if the hookers were any of the people he 'disappointed'?

First of all, how does he know God has forgiven him? Was there some sort of divine voice from the skies that said 'Ah, forget about it. I would have done the same thing'? Did a bird crap on his shoulder and he thought that was his punishment, therefore things were now cool?

Second of all, this has nothing to do with 'respect for his family' and everything to do with him hoping this story just goes away. He can claim that this is between his wife, his God and him, but that's bullshit. He just betrayed every religious, God fearing voter that took him at face value. Fools! That Vitter dismisses this aspect says more about the candidate than about the people that voted for him.

Besides, just like his ejaculations (guessing, but he looks like the type), his apology was premature. Turns out the D.C. spot was just one brothel he liked to visit. Jeanette Maier, who was convicted of running a Canal Street prostitution ring, claims Vitter spent some time with her girls, as well. Vitter claims all of this happened before he was elected to the Senate. You know, when he was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. Maire claims 'Vitter visited the brothel several times for several years in the mid-1990s'. So wait, he ran as a virtuous, religious family man when he had been frequenting multiple whore houses over the course of several years? Well, yeah. What's the problem? He apologized and his wife and God have forgiven him. Get off his back already! Man alive, you people can be so petty.

It remains to be seen what ripple effect this will have on his career or those of the people around him. He was the first Senator to endorse Rudy Guliani's Presidential bid, something Guliani must be thrilled about right now. I'm guessing it will be minimal, but if more comes out I see resignation all over this.

One more thing before I wish you all a lovely weekend. During his Senate campaign in 2004, Vitter was accused by a member of the Louisiana Republican State Central Committee of frequenting a prostitute in the French Quarter of New Orleans and that the affair was a 'lengthy one'. Vitter's response to this during the campaign: 'absolutely and completely untrue....just crass Louisiana politics'.

So, we can add David Vitter to the long, never ending list of politicians who cheat, lie, deny, then apologize when the truth finally comes out.

Hypocrisy: the gold standard of American politics. USA! USA!! USA!!!


Today's distraction: Take the George W Bush Trivia Quiz. Amusing and depressing at the same time. Kind of like Bush himself.