Thursday, October 30, 2008

Random Reviews

Some movie, music and television reviews for your consideration.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall: I’ve mentioned this one before, but must reiterate how funny this movie was. It also pointed out (to me, anyway) the difference between an adult comedy and one that just goes for cheap laughs (see below). There is a lot of sex, sex talk, and nudity, but it’s portrayed in an adult manner and never offensive. Quite a few laugh out loud moments including Paul Rudd as a surfing instructor, the over sexed British rocker, the newlyweds, and assorted resort workers make this highly entertaining. Bonus points for casting Mila Kunis, who has leapfrogged up my babe list a bit because of this movie.

You Don’t Mess With the Zohan: My bet is this movie would never have been made if Adam Sandler wasn’t associated with it. While this started out promising in a ‘Naked Gun’ kind of way (his infiltration of the terrorist hideout was the best part of the movie), it quickly bogged down with Zohan pursuing his dream of cutting hair and sexually assaulting old women. Very elderly women. Apparently all grandmothers want is to get screwed by middle eastern men with cultural references from 1984. I laughed exactly three times during this movie and one of those involved Chris Rock, who was in the movie for about 2 minutes.

I want to point something else out: This is the second Sandler movie in a row, where his character has been a chick magnet. Remember ‘I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry’? It also looks like Sandler has been getting in shape (he’s no longer the doughy, slacker, every man) which makes me concerned he’s heading into Joe Piscopo territory. Remember when Piscopo was funny, then discovered the gym and got in shape and became terribly unfunny? Let’s hope this is not where Sandler is heading.

Baby Mama: Tina Fey is quickly cementing herself as the Queen of Comedy. She’s smart, funny, relevant and sexy in a nerdy kind of way. Here she plays a career woman who learns she can’t have children (‘I don’t like your womb at all’). She decides to hire a surrogate mother (Amy Poehler) and hilarity ensues. Actually, that’s true. This is a funny movie with Poehler getting most of the laughs as the white trash, con artist in over her head. Steve Martin shows up as Fey’s boss, too, and it turns out he’s still funny. Who knew?

Speed Racer: Man alive this movie is a friggin’ mess. Pity, too, as the race scenes are spectacular. Unfortunately, the racing isn’t enough as they tend to flashback to Speed’s childhood, tell us about the death of this brother, how his father quit building race cars and how Speed and Trixie met and stayed together. And that’s just the first 15 minutes!! Once things get somewhat settled the overly complicated plot kicks in regarding fixed races, stock prices (???) and bizarre cheating techniques. For crying out loud, this is Speed Racer. We don’t need a reason for him to race other than to beat the bad guys. The filmmakers needed a refresher course in KISS: Keep it simple, stupid!


TELEVISION

Fringe: No sooner had I expressed my displeasure at this show, when it hit the very next episode out of the park. The introduction of The Observer and an unexplained (so far) series of events got me hooked for a while. Some bizarre object emerges from the ground, is examined by the Fringe team, then disappears back into the ground with zero explanation. That this pale, bald, taste impaired Observer has been very much a part of all these strange events (going back decades, it seems) gave it a creepy, alien, ‘X-Files’ vibe that I always enjoy.

Life On Mars: Heard some good things about this so I DVRed it. So far I like it, but it remains to be seen how far this premise can be pushed before things start to fall apart. If you’re not aware, a cop in the year 2008 gets creamed by a car and wakes up in 1973 or around that time. However, he’s still a cop in the same precinct. While he’s trying to figure out what’s going on, he decides to work with the cops of that time in solving cases. They all think he’s a lunatic, of course, with his wussy 2008 cop ways and female equality and Miranda rights and warrants and such. Harvey Keitel and Michael Imperioli are perfectly cast, but I hope the old school ways start rubbing off on the future cop rather then the other way around. Think it would be more interesting and entertaining to see the main character enjoys his new found freedom as a detective.

What’s truly bizarre and a bit creepy about this show are the hints of the real world seeping in. He’s apparently in a coma in 2008 as revealed at one point while he’s watching television (no cable!) and a doctor is describing his medical condition. He pounds on the screen screaming that he’s still alive and wants to wake up. There are moments like this throughout the show – hearing his girlfriend talking to him over the car radio, seeing the present day police station reflected in a window, remote controlled robots scurrying then disappearing in the prison cells. There’s a touch of the surreal, too, as he wakes up from his accident to find the World Trade Center towering over him.

‘No way!’


MUSIC

The Hold Steady – Stay Positive: Finally! While I’ve been a fan of The Hold Steady from the beginning, their prior releases have been prevented from being great by their unnecessary belief they needed slow ballads included to break up the pace. Unfortunately, their slow songs suck for the most part. Songs like ‘Citrus’ or ‘First Night’ from their last release just bogged down the otherwise foot stomping proceedings. Not so with ‘Stay Positive’ which rips open with ‘Constructive Summer’ and barely slows. There are changes in pace (‘One For The Cutters’, ‘Both Crosses’), they stick more to the strengths of the band then ever before.

This isn’t just the best CD they’ve released, this is one of the best CDs of the year. Behold a rock band combining it’s ambitious song writing, emerging confidence, and musicianship that is complex and challenging.

Favorite songs: Joke About Jamaica, Sequestered in Memphis, Slapped Actress

Kings of Leon – Only By The Night: Another band hitting it’s peak. Kings of Leon should be a lesson to all new bands on how to improve without sacrificing the basics of their sound. I’ve been a fan since ‘Youth and Young Manhood’, but lost touch with their last release. My loss, apparently, as this is far and away their best yet. (NOTE: I don’t have their third CD which someone informed me is better than this one). A testament to a great CD is my inability to stop listening to it. ‘Closer’, ‘Sex on Fire’ (which may be the best song of the year), ‘Notion’, ‘Crawl’, ‘Cold Desert’, ‘I Want You’ not only show off the Kings expanded song writing ability, but the improved lead vocals.

Sidenote: Why is it male singers get better with age, while most female singers hit their peaks in their mid 20s? Geddy Lee, Robert Plant, Steven Tyler, Mick Jagger, Sting, and a number I’m forgetting sound better as they age. Is it that they just finally learn to sing while early in their careers they were inexperienced and tended towards screeching and yelling? Or do men’s voices improve with age?

Glasvegas: Debut cd from a Scottish band that reminds me of an old Boston band from my college days – The Sheila Divine. Grand, ambitious, arena rock that is catchy as hell. Not great (although it’s growing on me the more I listen to it), but it’s good enough that I’m paying attention to what they do next.

Favorite songs: Geraldine, Polmont On My Mind, Lonesome Swan

Songs to skip: Stabbed (just awful).

That’s it for now. Catch up to you tomorrow if I have time (I’ll do my best).


Today’s distraction: Take a stress test. There are three figures and if they are moving rapidly, it means you’re stressed out. The faster they move the more stress you are feeling. I must be mellowed out because they were barely moving for me.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Assorted Collection

Some random thoughts for a random Wednesday:

- I need to correct my Chevy rant from Monday. The trucks being advertised are Dodge Rams and not Chevy whatevers. I know this because they are showing them relentlessly. Still, it might say something about the quality of the spots that the model didn’t stick with me.

- Basking in the glow of another championship banner raised to the Garden rafters. With all the talk of the Rays finally becoming successful after dropping the ‘Devil’ from their name, why has nobody pointed out that the Celtics are back on top as soon as they changed their arena name back to ‘Garden’?

- You can see what the Celtics rings look like here. Adding last season’s rallying cry ‘Umbuntu’ on the side was a classy touch. Word is there are 64 diamonds on this mofo. 64!!!!! While you’re at that link, check out picture 21. Generated a few goosebumps.

- One thing I’ve noticed in pre-season and in some practice footage is Paul Pierce seems to be in the best shape of his career. Looks 15-20 pounds lighter but in a fit, muscular way. Can even see the difference in his face. Guess he’s not satisfied with winning just one ring.

- During the raising of the banner and ring presentations, the boys were asking me why I wanted to watch. I said ‘It’s been a long time since they last did this. Want to enjoy it while I can.’ Eldest watched for a minute, then asked ‘When did they last win it?’ ‘Back when I was in high school,’ I tell him. ‘Whoa,’ he said, ‘that’s a looong time!’

Thanks, kid.

- With all the media coverage and debates going on about the World Series being suspended due to bad weather, not one person has mentioned that if they had started the game at 7 pm – like all east coast games did ALL SEASON LONG!!! – the game probably would have been done by the time the rain started.

- I – quite literally – laughed out loud when this morning’s news reported that while the Dow has bounced back and interest rates are expected to drop, ‘consumer confidence is at an all time low’.

Really? Our confidence is at an all time low? You think it has anything to do with the panic generating news stories or the headlines about economic disaster complete with pictures of crying stock traders on the front page of every newspaper in the country? You think those have anything to do with consumer’s confidence being at an all time low?

- A new study from the University of Rochester suggests the wearing red will makes women more attractive to men. As quoted in the article, ‘Through five psychological experiments, Andrew Elliot, professor of psychology, and Daniela Niesta, post-doctoral researcher, demonstrate that the color red makes men feel more amorous toward women. And men are unaware of the role the color plays in their attraction.’

The purpose of the study was to address the ‘age old question of what attracts a man to a woman’. Well, hell, I’ll tell you that for free. Good looks, good body, good sense of humor, great laugh, confident (but not conceited), and sexually expressive.

By the way, I’ve always been attracted to blue. It’s my favorite color and I tend to gravitate towards the blonde hair, blue eyed beauties and blue brings out the color of their eyes. In fact, in the picture below that is used to prove the point of the study, I like the blue shirt picture better.

Maybe it’s just me.


- Trials at the University of Copenhagen have shown a new obesity drug can produce nearly twice as much weight loss as the current leading drug. They are about to enter the Phase III of the drug trials, but things are looking promising. The drug is called Tesofensine and, if things go well, is hoping to replace the old weight loss drug called will power. Will power currently constitutes eating less and exercising more. Side effects of will power may include shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat, profuse sweating and clothes not fitting correctly.

No word on Tesofensine side effects.

- On October 15th, cameras caught a meteor entering earth’s atmosphere and landing in (they estimate) the Parry Sound area of Ontario, Canada. You can watch the movie clips here. The astronomers are asking that if anyone has found the meteorite to contact them so they can – I don’t know – look at a cool rock?

Don’t know about anyone else, but this doesn’t give me much comfort in our scientific community helping earth avoid a catastrophic collision with a huge meteor if we were surprised this one entered our atmosphere undetected. Guess we’ll know the shit has hit the fan when the big shadow blanks out the sun or a huge blast of fire wipes us off the face of the earth.

People in Parry Sound, if your friends, family or neighbors start acting ‘differently’ just take a flamethrower to them to be safe. We don’t want whatever landed up there to spread. The rest of the world thanks you.

- Speaking of life erasing meteors, I have always suspected that this ‘global warming’ thing may be partly a natural warming of our planet. I say ‘partly’ because all the shit we’ve pumped into the air, land and ocean can’t be good. My theory argues that since dinosaur remains have been found in North Dakota and even Canada, that the earth must have been one big tropical rainforest. Then a stupid, big ass meteor comes along and ruins everyone’s day. The ash, dust, and general crap the meteor stirred up blocked out the sun long enough to usher in the ice age and drastically change life on earth.

Now the earth is warming back up to where it was before the meteor hit. This explains how the ice that covered the Great Lakes melted and formed those lakes before the industrial age was even a twinkle in mankind’s eye.

Well, now I have more ammunition for my theory. Seems a bunch of scientists from our friends at University of Copenhagen (they’re busy!) have mapped some of the shore lines and figured out there was actually less ice in the Arctic Circle 7000 years ago then there is now. Says geologist Astrid Lysa (who sounds hot and I’ll bet wears blue), ‘The climate in the northern regions has never been milder since the last Ice Age than it was about 6000-7000 years ago. We still don’t know whether the Arctic Ocean was completely ice free, but there was more open water in the area north of Greenland than there is today’.

That’s right. While everyone is freaking out about the melting ice caps, evidence is suggesting that the ice may not be normal for the area. At the very least, there is some natural fluctuation going on that we can’t yet explain.

- And lastly, allow me to introduce you to our fine state Senator Dianne Wilkerson. Wilkerson has been an advocate for minorities in my home state of Massachusetts for a long time now. She has gone through her share of scandals which included two campaign finance violations and ‘forgetting’ to pay her taxes. While she is still serving in the State Senate, she is not on the ballot for reelection because she lost in the primaries.

She’s still running a write in campaign, but I’m pretty sure that isn’t going to work out as she has just been indicted on corruption charges. Seems Senator Wilkerson has been accepting bribes in exchange for pressuring the mayor of Boston and others to approve development deals and liquor licenses for her highest bidder.

How do we know this? She’s been under investigation since 2007 and has been filmed by an undercover fed accepting a variety of kick backs, including one highly disturbing video of her accepting $1000 and shoving it under her shirt and into her bra in a public restaurant (which was directly across the street from the State House, by the way).

You can read all the sordid details here, but I just wanted to welcome Senator Wilkerson to the Scumbag Hall of Fame. You’re a disgrace to your colleagues and your race. Fuck off!

One last thing. Her lawyer was on the morning news and said ‘There is a context to every one of the interactions you have been told about. There is something that happens before. There is something that happens after that has not been included in what you've been shown. You will learn that when there is a trial’.

Can’t wait to hear what happened before she shoved a grand into her bra or why she had six grand IN CASH on her at the time of her arrest.

Tip of the iceberg.


Today’s distraction: Series of photos that show Wilkerson accepting a variety of bribes. Rot in jail, Senator Wilkerson. Love the subtle, bright red hat you wear in the first few pics. That sure wouldn’t draw attention to any illicit goings on. You get to see her bra stuffing in these, too. Sorry.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Week 8 Postmortem

A few quick things before I get to the NFL.

1: First weigh in for the office contest was this morning and I dropped 3 pounds to meet my quota. I figure I need to lose around 3 pounds a week to stay in this thing. Current pot is up to $2500 which would be a nice Christmas bonus.

2: I managed to get to the gym Thurs, Fri, Sat & Sun. That makes four days in a row for the first time in months. In my defense, I’m aging and need more rest between workouts than I ever used to. Sad.

3: No, I didn’t get there today and not planning to.

4: Our office manager just had a pep talk to the people remaining in our office in an attempt to raise the morale a bit. As a compromise to us not getting ‘merit increases’ (fancy term for raises) or bonuses, we’re having jean days every other Friday. Gee, thanks! That more than makes up for not receiving thousands of dollars.

5: He asked for suggestions on how to ‘make this a fun place to work’ and was going to suggest beer Fridays before remembering I already have those.

Every

Week

6: Not much has been memorable about this World Series (even the walk off win was a cheap, dribbling single down the third base line), but Blanton’s home run is something I’ll remember for a long time. Thing was a rocket and it will make me pause whenever I ask ‘Why the hell do pitchers still hit in the National League?’

7: Watched some of ’40 Year Old Virgin’ on television last night and it was sad how the network diluted the movie so it could be shown on regular tv. Some movies need to be seen unedited and uncensored.

Here are a few of those movies. These are off the top of my head, so let me know if I missed any.

Superbad
40 Year Old Virgin
Shawshank Redemption (this is on cable a lot and the prison scenes are sterilized)
Forgetting Sarah Marshall
Total Recall
Midnight Cowboy
Robocop
Any gory horror movie


On to football.

- Since the Patriots had a home game, that was the only full game I watched. Cassel looked much better yesterday. Much better! Still holds the ball way too long and seems to limit his view to one side of the field (you’ll notice his head won’t pivot to the other side if the designed play doesn’t develop), but his mobility in the pocket was impressive. A few times he simply scooted forward to get away from some pressure and made a nice pass. He would have had better stats, too, if Welker hadn’t dropped a sure 20 yard gain and Moss (of all people) didn’t drop a sure touchdown.

He still needs work, but his improvement is encouraging. Or the Rams defense just sucks.

Of course, the Pats play in Indy next weekend so he’ll probably throw 3 interceptions and total 98 yards passing. One step forward, two steps back. Keep moving forward, Matty.

- I flipped between the Steelers – Giants game, but I gotta say that when two defensive teams like this get together, it’s always an ugly game. I know purists call it ‘smash mouth football’ but let’s just call it what it is: ugly.

That said, the Giants defense is scary good. Yeah, it was Pittsburgh and I’ve never bought into the whole ‘Roethlisberger is a great QB’ story line, but he’s still above average and intercepting him 4 times is no small feat.

- I had my weekly pre-fantasy lineup call with my buddy who was contemplating benching Terrell Owens and starting Antonio Bryant. I argued that he should start both and sit Jamal Lewis, since he was running against the Jaguars. Well, Lewis had a decent game (80 yds, TD) and both Owens and Bryant didn’t do shit. Needless to say he got his ass handed to him. As of this morning he was losing by 120 points which has me laughing every time I think about it. 120 POINTS!!!! AHAHAHAHAAHA.

- With Brees, Roddy White, Westbrook all having huge games, I thought for sure I would win the $50 this week for outscoring every other team. Oh, no. The guy that’s 120 points up on my friend outscored me by 30 points!! The guy is undefeated in our league and most of his best players are on bye this week. And he outscores one of my best weeks by 30! What the hell?? Injuries and suspensions are going to take a toll on him soon, though. He has Romo, Reggie Bush, Kellen Winslow, and Larry Johnson all on his team. I think I play him next week, too. Just checked. I do play him. Fucking fantastic!

- Every time I praise Buffalo they go out and lay a rotten, stinking egg like yesterday against the Dolphins.

- Why was there no Sunday night game?

- Did anyone else see the barrage of commercials for the Chevy pickup trucks? They must have shown them at least 15 different times during the first half of the Pats game. How much money is Chevy paying for those ads and the bizarre obstacle course they built for this race? Is this where the twenty five billion dollars that we, the taxpayers, are giving them? Enough already. Chevy trucks are tough. We get it.

- Now that I think about it, isn’t advertising large size pickup trucks counter productive? How many people a year actually go out and buy these monsters? It must be a very limited consumer base to be advertising to, no? Construction workers, general contractors, roofers and painters, mainly I would think. And how often do they go out and plop down $40,000 for a new truck? Not often would be my guess. So Chevy is buying prime advertisement spots to praise a truck that has a limited built in consumer base to begin with.

If you are looking for reasons American car companies are in trouble, look no further.

- Regardless of whether Mike Singletary becomes a successful head coach, I loved the way he sent Vernon Davis to the locker room after his stupid penalty. It was the equivalent of a parent sending a bratty kid into time out.

- The Cleveland Browns are a fucking mess. Yeah, they won and seem to be playing better, but their front office is a joke. First Kellen Winslow is hospitalized with a staph infection (the sixth Brown in the past few years to contract it, by the way). Then the Browns were strangely mum on why Winslow was in the hospital and didn’t bother disagreeing with rumors he had contracted an STD.

Winslow, understandably, was pissed and went to the media to explain why he was in the hospital and vented about the handling of the entire situation by the Brown’s front office. The Browns then suspended Winslow and were going to take his game check for yesterday.

Well, Winslow appealed and won. The team rescinded the suspension, but since Winslow hadn’t traveled with the team to Jacksonville, he couldn’t play in the game anyway. He’ll still get fined $25,000, but will get his game check for yesterday.

And now comes this story from Browns’ GM, Phil Savage, in which he states the team never told Winslow to keep quiet about the story and even said he wasn’t sure why Winslow was hospitalized in the first place.

Either someone needs to get their stories straight or someone has lost complete control of the team. Or both.

- Judging from the highlights, it sure looks like Brett Favre is back to his old tricks. Was that booing I heard from the Jet fans?

- I really wish I had the opportunity to watch the Saints – Chargers game. My man Brees put on a show for the London crowd. As did Tomlinson. Nice to see him show up for a game.

Think that’s it. Time to get to work.


Today’s distraction: Funny and well deserved slam at the NFL for over aggressive fining. Take that Goodell!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Black Wednesday

No entry yesterday for several reasons.

1: I didn’t feel like it. I was in a black mood that I managed to snap myself out of near the end of the day. Will explain in a minute.

2: Work was insanely busy, so I had no time to slack off and write some drivel that barely 10 people read on a any given day. Yeah, I’m still trying to shake off those dark remnants.

3: Yesterday was Black Wednesday at work. By this I mean our company announced layoffs.

Four people from our local branch were cut, one of them being my prime source of gossip. I’m going to feel completely out of the loop for a while and not nearly be as entertained.

Here’s a way to know things are not going well in your office: The people getting laid off seem happier than the people remaining. Four people isn’t a lot for our office of around 110, but it still sucks. There was a palpable sense of doom hanging over everything. Office doors were closed, everyone was either hoping or dreading a call to the board room for a ‘meeting’, and productivity was cut by half with people packing and saying good bye to their work friends or whispering about what was going on.

I should also point out that we have already been told there will be no bonuses nor will there be raises for anyone in 2009. Fucking fantastic. So layoffs, no overtime is allowed under any reason, no raises and no bonuses.

I love my job!

On the bright side I managed to successfully login to my Monster account and update my resume. That was a big step for me since I haven’t used it in over five years. I’m proud of myself. I find it amusing how impressive my resume looks when I really don’t do all that much (other than posting shit up here, of course). It immediately makes me distrust every piece of paper in America.

My plan now is to slowly put some feelers out. My old boss is still in the area and he’s always wondering what I’m up to. If anything jumps out at me on Monster, I’ll give it a look-see and we’ll take it from there.

The problem, of course, is leaving a secure long time job for something different is no guarantee for job security. I could be the first one to go if the new company decides to lay people off or cut costs or goes bankrupt. Any one of those scenarios would be bad.

What I don’t understand is why this is happening. While the stocks keep tumbling, I’ve been reading that IBM, Apple and McDonalds all posted better than expected earnings. Shopping malls are packed. People are still eating out and going to the movies. Where is this recession? Am I missing something? Have we not reached the point where the economy is effecting people’s wallets?

I’m no economist, but there seems to be a large gap between what the experts are telling us and what is really going on. Again, maybe we’ll see things go south very soon, but there doesn’t seem to be much of a downturn in spending with middle America. As my coworker said ‘I went to the mall last night and couldn’t find a parking space. I thought we were in a recession! Why are all these people shopping?!’

I wonder what sort of historical relevance a new President has on the economy? Does business tend to hold off until they know who the next President will be? That might be something to keep an eye on. Will the economy pick up after the election?

Or more precisely, will it pick up after the new year? With the upcoming holidays November and December are typically slow business months, anyway. Figure middle of January will be the true indicator of how 2009 will look.

In the meantime, I’m hunkering down in my office and applying to any interesting jobs that pay me six figures, include a no firing clause and grant me full authority over what, when, how and how often I do my job.

That’s right, I’m playing the lottery again.

You’ll all be glad to know I managed to defunk myself (I like that word) when some douchebag in our group sent an email to our team asking ‘Just checking in to see who’s still working here’.

Now, nobody can stand this asswipe, so I hit reply, then copied and pasted an generic ‘Out of Office’ message into my email. I then edited it to say: ‘I am no longer employed at this company. If you need immediate assistance please call or email….’ and entered in my colleague’s phone number and email address. It looked pretty authentic if I do say so.

The beauty of this is I hit Send and immediately shut down my computer for the night and went home. Before I even hit the elevator my cell was ringing. It was my friend down in Florida (the one I just lost a bet to) who said ‘Is that for real?’ I told her no, of course not, just trying to bust this dude’s balls and she laughed for a solid two minutes before I finally hung up.

By the time I hit the lobby I had three other responses ranging from ‘WHAT???!!!’ to ‘Are you serious?’ to my favorite ‘THAT IS NOT FUNNY!’

Nothing like wreaking havoc to put a spring in your step.


Today’s distraction: A very cool idea to kill some time if you get laid off. This guy decorated his entire basement with Sharpies. Apparently $10 worth. Not bad for a simple black permanent pen.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Week 7 Postmortem

I had the distinct displeasure of having a single choice of late NFL games to watch. It was Jets at Raiders. And, yes, it was as awful as it sounds. During the first quarter alone there were approximately 14 penalties for 150 yards.

Seriously, there was a flag on every play on one team or another for 5 straight plays during a Raiders drive. In fact, the Raiders had scored a touchdown (their first in 55 games, apparently) only to have it nullified by an offensive holding call. Then they had to rekick a field goal attempt because of some other penalty. It was the worst stretch of football I have seen all year.

And Al Davis thought Lane Kiffin was the problem?

What I don’t understand is why that was the only game I was given the chance to watch. Fox was televising bull riding (no, really, they were) after their first game was over. Why couldn’t I have watched a late game on Fox, too? The Pats weren’t playing until last night, so home territory wasn’t an issue.

As I so often say; what the fuck?

Of course, I wound up watching most of the game, anyway. Favre looked like his old self in that he kept throwing into triple coverage and having the ball knocked away. Either that or the Raiders defense is much better than I was led to believe.

No, that wasn’t it. The Jets looked awful. It says a lot that the Raiders looked like a shit team and still won the game.

I need to point out that for the second week in a row a head coach tried to ice the kicker by calling a last second time out only to screw his own team over. I thought we were past this? Did we learn nothing from the failures that involve this ridiculous aspect of the game? The Raiders coach called a time out just before the snap, only the whistles didn’t blow in time and the ball was put in play. The attempt missed and the Oakland crowd is celebrating like the game is over before they learn their own coach called a timeout a split second before. So, the Jets get another try and lo and behold, Jay Feeley nails the second try and sends the game into overtime.

Listen, coaches, this game isn’t that difficult. Stop trying to show off and just let things play out. Calling a last second timeout isn’t a good coaching move. It’s a douchebag move and even your own fans hate you for it. Stop being dicks.

Onto other thoughts.

- I saw two different commercials starring LaDainian Tomlinson where he makes amazing leaps and hurdles over defenders. One was for Cambell’s soup and the other was for Vizio or some other television maker and it’s prompting me to ask this question: Has Tomlinson gained more yards and scored more touchdowns during commercials than during actual games he’s played?

- I watched a lot of the game last night and I’m not that excited for Cassel’s so called ‘stellar’ night. First of all, it certainly looked like the coaching staff dumbed down a lot of the plays to make it easier for Cassel to read the defense.

Second, the Denver defense blows and blows hard. And still he didn’t throw over 200 yards.

Third, if you watch Cassel you’ll notice he doesn’t look around. If the play is set for a specific receiver he watches that receiver until he’s either open or the defense sacks him. He doesn’t ‘check off’ other options. You don’t see his head turn to other sides of the field or even have him look off the defense. Maybe he just needs to learn this over time, but it’s not encouraging at all.

- Name to remember for next year’s fantasy draft: Josh Morgan

- Now that the bye weeks are almost over for my fantasy team, here are my starting running backs for the rest of the season: Brian Westbrook (or Correll Buckhalter, if Westbrook is hurt), Willis McGahee (who finally looked healthy against the Dolphins) and either Edgerrin James or Tim Hightower. I actually like Hightower better after watching him against the Cowboys. Guy is strong and lightning fast. Can’t see how the Cardinals keep him down much longer.

- Has there been a more schizophrenic team than the Colts? They light up the Ravens defense, then fizzle out against a depleted Packers. Don’t get this team at all. Do they suck or are they just figuring things out?

- The Bengals and Lions, on the other hand I totally get. They really do suck. Royally suck. Historically suck. Kind of amazing we can’t lump the Rams in here after the last two weeks, don’t you think?

- Remember when a Vikings – Bears contest would pit two of the league’s top defenses against each other? Sunday’s score: Bears 48 – Vikings 41.

- Four reasons I got my ass kicked in fantasy football this past weekend:

1: Drew Brees not throwing for 300 yards or a touchdown for the first time all year

2: Steve Smith putting up 120 yards and a TD against me

3: Chris Johnson putting up 168 yards and a TD against me

4: Dominic Rhodes running for 2 TDs and 70 something yards because Addai was suddenly scratched from the game.

- My how the mighty have fallen. I just received an email from my fantasy league that Donovan McNabb is being offered for Tomlinson. My first thought was the guy should keep McNabb.

- Despite getting blown out in Arizona, I’m still very impressed with Buffalo. Not spectacular, but solid team all around.

- I'm thoroughly enjoying the Dallas meltdown and know I’m not the only one.

- Mike Nolan was fired yesterday, but don’t mistake this for another spur of the moment move. Nolan was given ample opportunity to prove his worth and the team never improved under his watch. Now Mike Singletary (his eyes still haunt me and every other Patriot fan) takes over and all the media pundits are praising his promotion. ‘He’s just what this team needs’ or ‘This is a great move!’

If Singletary doesn’t improve the team over the next season and a half, will they still think this was a great move?

Stay tuned.


Today’s distraction: Jose Canseco is making one last ditch attempt to stay in the limelight by apologizing for naming names in his steroid book ‘Juiced’. Canseco says ‘I never realized this was going to blow up and hurt so many people.’

Yeah, who would have thought mentioning all those world famous players and even suggesting A-Rod was using without any proof would cause problems? He thought people would just shrug and say ‘big deal’?

No word on when his ‘rehab’ stint begins, but rest assured it will be after the spotlight dims in a week or two.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Good Thoughts

I’ll get to the NFL tomorrow. I want to congratulate the Tampa Bay Rays for their win last night. They really were the better team as evidenced by the incalculable number of opportunities the Red Sox squandered.

Maybe it was me, but every time the Sox had a rally going one of the following players strolled to the plate: David Ortiz, Jason Varitek, or Mark Kotsay. Combined average in the series for all three? .061. Or something close to that.

When TBS put up some ridiculous stat that Kotsay - all by himself - had stranded over 14 baserunners in the series, I groaned out loud. Who knew we’d miss Mike Lowell that much? In essence, the Sox subbed Kotsay for Lowell. Ouch.

Not that it’s Kotsay’s fault by any means. The Rays were the better team. Pounced on pitching mistakes, homering more often than any other ALCS team in history. Their bullpen (with the games 2 & 5 the exceptions) was great and this young Tampa team maintained enough maturity to end the reign of the Boston Red Sox. We will have a new champion this year.

Fuck!

No, losing never gets easier. I used to think that the two championships would tie me over for years such as this, but it really doesn’t help all that much. Takes the sting out a bit, but it still sucks. I’m glad the long suffering Tampa fans (all 15 of them) will now have their chance to actually enjoy baseball for once. But losing to them still sucks. I wanted to squeeze one more ring out of this team. Thought they might pull it off, too, but it wasn’t to be. This Rays team is just a better all around team and the Sox are either too injured or too old to keep up with them.

But let us dispense with the negativity. We just won the Series last year and we gave the Rays a run for their money and probably caused more health problems in the elderly Tampa fan base than any team in history by forcing a game 7. When the bases were loaded in the eighth and Maddon kept bringing in pitcher after pitcher, the Tampa fans look like they might vomit or cry.

Of course, everyone in the greater Boston area knew Varitek would strike out. We were hoping for a soaring, majestic home run but he used that one rare hit up in game 6. No way he was doing it two games in a row. Just wasn’t possible. Not with this version of Tek batting. Even my eight year old groaned when he came up earlier in the game. 'Here we go. He's either going to strike out or pop up'

He popped up.

So let’s gain some perspective on this past Red Sox season and hopefully end it feeling much better about the season that was.

Here are some positives about the Red Sox season being over.

Sleep: I can now get some. I broke my own vow and stayed up until midnight hoping the Sox would crush the collective Tampa area’s will to live. I’m exhausted, plain and simple. Now that the Sox are done, I can watch just bits and pieces of the World Series and get plenty of sleep. That’s what SportsCenter is for, after all.

Besides, I have another reason for getting to bed early. I’ll get to that later.

Ortiz Can Heal: There was a moment in last night’s game that will show you how little faith I now have in Ortiz. He came up with men on first and second in the eighth inning and hits a slow dribbler to the second baseman. They get Crisp at second, but don’t have enough time to get Ortiz for the double play.

The announcers discuss pinch running for Ortiz and say ‘You don’t want to pinch run for him, because you want his bat in the lineup in case this goes to extra innings.’

From my couch in Boston I say ‘YOU DO???!! Get him the fuck out!’ Ellsbury would have been the perfect option, but the Sox do nothing.

Look, I know Ortiz has a history of clutch hitting, but he’s been living on that reputation since July. He’s obviously hurt more than any of us know and I’m expecting an ‘Ortiz has wrist surgery’ news item any minute now.

There is a fine line between playing hurt and being labeled a ‘warrior’ and playing hurt and becoming a hindrance to your own team. Ortiz was the latter. He couldn’t catch up to any fastballs and looked foolish on anything towards the outer part of the plate. I cringed watching him the last few weeks.

Did I mention he was our number 3 hitter? No? Did I mention that despite his struggles, Francona wouldn’t even contemplate sitting Ortiz or even moving him around in the lineup? No? Well, that’s what happened. God forbid Francona swap Drew and Ortiz in the order. Or even better Ortiz and Bay. That would be sacrilegious! This is Big Papi we’re talking about! You can bet that game 5 home run made Francona feel vindicated, but it really shouldn’t have. Ortiz was struggling through out the playoffs and Francona did nothing.

Now, at least, Ortiz can rest the wrist, get surgery if he needs it and be ready and healthy for next year.

That is, of course, is if he is really hurt and just hasn’t lost it completely. I’m going with the injured theory so I can sleep at night.

No More Varitek At Bats: As horrendous as Ortiz was, Varitek was even worse. I know, I know, he hit a home run. Bug fucking whoop! It was also the only hit in the entire series! The only hit. His average at the end of last night wound up being in negatives, he was that bad. When Price came in and hit 97 on the gun, I thought ‘Oh, shit! There is no way Varitek is going to catch up to that!’ Keep in mind I think Price was pitching to Kotsay at the time and I had already resigned myself to the fact he was going to do nothing.

When Varitek did come to bat, it was fastball, slider, fastball, fastball and he was out on strikes. Sad how far and how fast a hitter can decline. Hey! Maybe he’s hurt, too!

Beckett Can Heal: Now see, here is a player who played hurt AND helped his team. By the fifth inning in game 6, Beckett was visibly stiff and in pain. Still, the bullpen sucked it up and covered him the rest of the way. Hopefully this isn’t a lingering issue for him and he can get things back to normal.

Lowell Can Heal: Sensing a trend with this Sox team? Forget the Manny trade. This is the player the lineup missed more than anyone. You telling me Lowell would have left 14 or more runners on base in this same series? No fucking way. He would have hit at least two home runs, driven in 5-9 runs and this would be a different series. Lowell had surgery already and will be ready by spring training.

The Offseason Begins In Earnest: The Red Sox front office can start finding ways to improve this team. CC Sabathia is out there, reports are filtering down that the Padres are looking to trade Peavy, Ben Sheets (officially named ‘the Oft Injured Ben Sheets’) might be worth a gamble, and they’ll have to either resign Varitek or figure out other catching options. The future is now the focus.

My Weight Loss Program Begins: I was going to have a severe conflict of interest if the Sox went to the World Series. As it turns out I’m officially kicking off my ‘Get in prime shape’ tomorrow. It was going to start today, but I put it on hold because of one very specific reason: Money. Lots of money.

By sheer coincidence, a guy at work sent out an email challenging everyone to a weight loss competition. Here are the rules:

Everyone throws in $100 and we all get weighed in on the same scale on the same day. After that the contest is ON! You need to lose 1% of your weight every week for 10 weeks. Or until the end of the year. Whoever hits that 10% splits the pot. There are 22 people in this thing which makes that said pot at least $2200.

I say at least because there is another potential fee involved. If you don’t lose your 1% in any given week, you pay another $20. Talk about motivation! However, if you manage to lose more than 1% in any week it carries over to the next week. As long as you maintain or don’t gain, you’re still good.

Here’s why this works out well for me – I was already in the workout mode until about 2 weeks ago and was up to running 2 miles a day. I wound up getting sick but am now back and ready to go. I was going to start back to the gym this past weekend, but held off until I get weighed around noon today.

Once I get weighed, I’m hitting the gym every morning (or at least 3-4 times a week) and cutting down on all the junk food I eat.

In fact, you could say I binged a bit to get my weight up a bit. Many beers, pizza, calzones, all the good stuff. I should be a hefty starting weight to start this thing off but still have my conditioning to get rid of it quickly. Especially if I cut out beer during the week. Big IF there, by the way.

My big problem was going to be staying away for the Sox games during the World Series and making it to the gym the next morning. I can tell you that one or the other was going to lose and it probably wouldn’t be the Red Sox games.

So thank you, Red Sox. Thanks for a great season, thanks for defending your crown nobly and fighting up until the last out despite all the injuries that pestered you all year.

You’ve made Boston proud once again.

See you next year!


Today’s distraction: If you missed SNL this past weekend (yeah, I actually stayed up for it!) here is a classic Weekend Update bit with Sarah Palin. She handled herself well and this rap is hilarious.

Friday, October 17, 2008

D'OH!!

Last night I had the perfect plan in place. I would hit Kingston Station with some of the cute girls that I have the pleasure of working with, have a few 22 ounce Stellas, start watching the Red Sox game and wing it from there.

By 7, I was having a grand old time. By 8, I was slightly inebriated after 6 Stellas (132 glorious ounces) and was geared up for the Sox. By 9 I was heading home, depressed and debating how to get out of adding the Tampa Bay logo to my email signature.

I’ll admit it. I stopped watching. ‘The Office’ and ‘SNL’ were on, so I watched those, flipped to the game, noticed they were now down 5-0 and shut it down for the night. I was sleepy and was fully committed to my new ‘I’m not staying up late, any more’ lifestyle.

Fuckin’ A!

This is why they keep showing these games late. Because shit like this happens and everyone kicks themselves for not staying up. So now we’re all roped in again. No Red Sox fan anywhere will shut off any games until things are officially over.

Before I forget, shame on every Sox fan that left that game early. You have officially given up your right to attend any future game. I don’t care that they were losing. If nothing else you hang around for the final out and give the Red Sox a standing ovation for a great season. This could have been the final game at Fenway this season and you walked out on your team. Fuck you all!! I’m glad you missed an historic comeback because you didn’t deserve to see it. I hope you all woke up this morning, saw the highlights and had someone kick you in the balls out of self loathing. You suck!

I woke my eight year old up this morning with ‘You have to come down and see the Red Sox highlights’. As he stumbled down the stairs, still half asleep, he kept asking me if they won. ‘Not telling you. Just watch the highlights’. By the time it was over (ESPN does a great job encapsulating games like this, by the way), he was wide awake and fully pumped. ‘Can I stay up for the next game?’

We’ll see about that.

I should note that even he was offended that fans were leaving the game early. ‘Dad, we would never leave a game early!’ This is painfully true as we sat through every out of an 18-8 (or something) game against the Twins earlier this season. And it was nearly 100 degrees out. And we were sitting in the sun. And I didn’t have one beer. Let’s just move on before I burst into tears.

I IMed my Tampa friend this morning with ‘What happened?’ and she responded with ‘Whatever. I was furious last night!’ and proceeded to go through the six or seven stages of grief. She even told me how the entire city was ready to party only to have things fall apart.

It seems Tampa Bay Ray fans have been inducted into the ‘Holy shit, what just happened?’ hall of fame. Speaking as a life long Red Sox fan, I know how that feels. Just know that you are all real fans now. Welcome to the first day of the rest of your lives.

A few notes on the game. I did see a lot of the early innings, but the other key plays I saw on SportsCenter this morning.

- I still can’t fathom how a team as lifeless as the Sox pulled this off. The reason I turned off the game is because they looked beaten. What the hell flipped the switch? Was it Ortiz finally jacking one? Did someone on the Rays say the wrong thing? I need to know.

- Flaws tend to magnify in big moments and BJ Upton’s half assed play at times is a detriment. First he gets picked off second earlier in the series, then last night he dogs a fly ball that bounces off his glove and careens around center field. How many times does he have to pull this shit before he realizes he can’t be lackadaisical? Maddon must be pulling his hair out at this point.

- What does this do to the psyche of the Rays? This is a very young team that is used to losing and this was grade A devastating. The team was ready to celebrate for several innings, thinking this game was in the bag. Nope. Sorry. Can they come back from this?

- What about the Red Sox? Were the last three innings of this game an anomaly or have their bats finally woken up? When I saw Papi and JD Drew’s home runs this morning I thought ‘they just woke a sleeping giant’. That was the vibe and I can’t help but wonder if Tampa felt the same way. That ‘Fuck, they’re hitting now’ feeling that they hoped would never come. I’ve said all along that the pitches the Sox hitters usually crush have been there, but they’ve been popping them up or juuuuussst missing them for long fly balls. Last night that came to an end.

Will it continue?

- Looking ahead to game 6, we have Beckett going again. If he is truly healthy, expect a gem. He had that royally pissed look about him after leaving game 3 and he wants redemption tomorrow night. NOTE: that part about him being healthy is a BIG IF.

- Maddon’s decision to start Kazmir was genius even if it does get lost in the comeback. Guy was dazzling. Just wanted to point that out to all the Met fans reading this. Suckers!

- Longoria’s error in the ninth inning should send up red flags if you’re a Tampa fan. That was a choke job if ever there was one. Short hopping a standard throw has ‘jitters’ written all over it. Just like the Dodgers fell apart in their last game, I can see that happening to his Rays team. One error in a critical spot, one bad throw, one tricky hop and things could quickly escalate and get everyone tensed up.

Which brings me to the biggest issue in this series: The pressure – for the first time this entire season – is squarely on the shoulders of this young Rays team. Are they mature and poised enough to handle it?

Let’s chat on Monday, shall we?

Today’s distraction: Test your reaction time. I was ‘Pretty Good’ whatever that means. I want to get drunk and try it again.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

At Last!!

During last night’s debate I finally had that illuminating moment. That sparkling minute of time when independent and undecided voters - like myself - finally find something in one of the candidates they can point to and say ‘Yes. That, right there! That’s what I’m looking for in my next President! Thank you!’

Oddly, the moment had nothing to do with the economy, the war in Iraq (have we come up with a name for this yet? Something catchy?) or anything regarding foreign policy.

The issue was abortion. Yes, that tried and true polarizing topic that boils the blood of religious conservatives everywhere (unless it’s their own family that’s involved) and raises the passions of left wing liberals who are ready to defend it to the death. Get it? To the death? Abortion? No? Too much?

First, I need to be up front. I did not watch the entire debate as the Phillies – Dodgers game was on and I do have priorities in life. I was flipping back and forth, but luckily caught the abortion topic. And I will be eternally grateful.

The question came from Bill Schieffer (who did a fantastic job from what I saw) and involved the appointment of Supreme Court Justices during their potential Presidential term. I’ve scrounged up the transcript from here and will put their EXACT answers below. I want to make sure we have everything in context then will get to my point. Excerpts from the debate will be in red to differentiate them from my inane, uneducated comments.


Schieffer: ‘Senator McCain, you believe Roe v. Wade should be overturned. Senator Obama, you believe it shouldn’t. Could either of you ever nominate someone to the Supreme Court who disagrees with you on this issue? Senator McCain?’

Note: The answer is obviously a resounding NO to this question, but let’s wade through all the politispeak and figure out where each stands on this.

McCain: ‘I would never and have never in all the years I’ve been there imposed a litmus test on any nominee to the court. That’s not appropriate to do.’

Note: I have no idea what he means by ‘in all my years’ as he’s never been President nor had to appoint a nominee to the Supreme Court. I am simply assuming he means during the entire nomination and approval process. But I can’t swear to that.

Schieffer: ‘But you don’t want Roe v. Wade to be overturned?’

Note: I love how Schieffer doesn’t allow them to talk around the question he’s asking. He makes them answer it so the public knows exactly where they stand on an issue. He did this most of the night (from what I saw).

McCain: ‘I thought it was a bad decision. I think there were a lot of decisions that were bad. I think that decisions should rest in the hands of the states. I'm a federalist. And I believe strongly that we should have nominees to the United States Supreme Court based on their qualifications rather than any litmus test.

Now, let me say that there was a time a few years ago when the United States Senate was about to blow up. Republicans wanted to have just a majority vote to confirm a judge and the Democrats were blocking in an unprecedented fashion.

We got together seven Republicans, seven Democrats. You were offered a chance to join. You chose not to because you were afraid of the appointment of, quote, "conservative judges."

I voted for Justice Breyer and Justice Ginsburg. Not because I agreed with their ideology, but because I thought they were qualified and that elections have consequences when presidents are nominated. This is a very important issue we're talking about.

Senator Obama voted against Justice Breyer and Justice Roberts on the grounds that they didn't meet his ideological standards. That's not the way we should judge these nominees. Elections have consequences. They should be judged on their qualifications. And so that's what I will do.

I will find the best people in the world -- in the United States of America who have a history of strict adherence to the Constitution. And not legislating from the bench.’

Note: When McCain says ‘I think there were a lot of decisions that were bad’ is he referring to Supreme Court decisions or decisions in general. Like invading Iraq or running for President?

SCHIEFFER: But even if it was someone -- even someone who had a history of being for abortion rights, you would consider them?

MCCAIN: I would consider anyone in their qualifications. I do not believe that someone who has supported Roe v. Wade that would be part of those qualifications. But I certainly would not impose any litmus test.

Note: This is utter bullshit. Of course a judge’s stance on Roe v Wade is going to influence McCain’s decision on who to appoint. To state otherwise is insulting.

Now it’s Obama’s turn.

OBAMA: Well, I think it's true that we shouldn't apply a strict litmus test and the most important thing in any judge is their capacity to provide fairness and justice to the American people.

And it is true that this is going to be, I think, one of the most consequential decisions of the next president. It is very likely that one of us will be making at least one and probably more than one appointments and Roe versus Wade probably hangs in the balance.

Now I would not provide a litmus test. But I am somebody who believes that Roe versus Wade was rightly decided. I think that abortion is a very difficult issue and it is a moral issue and one that I think good people on both sides can disagree on.

But what ultimately I believe is that women in consultation with their families, their doctors, their religious advisers, are in the best position to make this decision. And I think that the Constitution has a right to privacy in it that shouldn't be subject to state referendum, any more than our First Amendment rights are subject to state referendum, any more than many of the other rights that we have should be subject to popular vote.’

I want to stress a certain statement included in here that made me take notice: ‘and it is a moral issue and one that I think good people on both sides can disagree on.’

Hold on! What’s this? Are we getting a thoughtful, intelligent answer to a difficult question? Why, indeed we are. Not only is it dignified, but allows for opposing views on one of the most explosive topics in our society. ‘Good people on both sides.’

In one little statement, Obama has taken a step towards some form of compromise. In one little statement, Obama has conceded that this is an issue people will NEVER agree on. We can’t force our own beliefs down other people’s throats. It can’t – and never has – worked that way. (Please refer to Iraq War for clarification).

More importantly, Obama is not insulting one side or the other. There are ‘good people on both sides’. And he’s right. There are. So polarizing and emotional this topic has become a lot of people have lost sight of that. Abortion foes have been portrayed as maniacal, bible thumping bullies who picket outside family planning clinics in an attempt to scare away already frightened and confused young women, even girls who are looking for help.

The abortion foes (sorry, Pro Life Advocates) have painted women who get abortions as lazy, ignorant sluts who should suck it up and become a parent like everyone else. Of course, they are also the same people that don’t want birth control available in high schools, so basically don’t have sex until you’re married and figure it out on your own. Just like the old days.

Life is never so black and white. Bush and his administration have tried to paint the world in such broad strokes with disastrous results. ‘You’re either with us or against us’ has fueled more heartache and misery than any other social philosophy since World War II.

What’s critical to me is that our next President be one of tolerance, compromise and flexibility. You know, what Bush said he was going to be. Only actually act that way. While McCain uses the opportunity of abortion to attack Obama’s Senate voting record Obama uses it to extend a hand in each direction. In a deft, simple sentence Obama portrayed himself as a unifying force.

Since he’s now got my vote, I’ll give him the last word. One sentence got my attention, but it’s this next statement that clinched the deal. You can’t help but wonder if Sarah Palin adopted (pun intended) a similar stance whether her daughter would now be pregnant.

‘The last point I want to make on the issue of abortion. This is an issue that -- look, it divides us. And in some ways, it may be difficult to -- to reconcile the two views.

But there surely is some common ground when both those who believe in choice and those who are opposed to abortion can come together and say, "We should try to prevent unintended pregnancies by providing appropriate education to our youth, communicating that sexuality is sacred and that they should not be engaged in cavalier activity, and providing options for adoption, and helping single mothers if they want to choose to keep the baby."’


Today’s distraction: Who was present at the very first Democratic Debate at South Carolina State University? You have three minutes to get them all. I got 4 and a big frown face for my efforts.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blueprint For A Comeback

As it stands now the Sox have just been handed their lunch by the upstart Tampa Bay Rays.

Actually that’s not right. They weren’t just handed their lunch. They had their collective asses kicked by the schoolyard bullies who then stole their lunch money, bought a bunch of ice cream for all their bully friends, then were spit on by the same bullies on the way home from school.

13-4.

Dwell on that, motherfuckers!

Still, this series is not over. It’s hard to believe considering the last two games, but the Sox can pull this off.

‘How?’ you ask, if you aren’t asking ‘Are you fucking high?’

Allow me to count the ways AND allow a counterpoint to my own argument. That’s right, I’m in a full fledged debate with myself.

Pitching: The Sox have their three top starters going in the next three games. If there are three games left, of course.

Game 5: Dice K who has been the only effective starter in this series.

Game 6 (if necessary): Beckett. Now, this is the big IF as it certainly seems like Beckett is no where close to being healthy. Let’s hope he can suck it up for one more quality start.

Game 7 (if necessary): Lester. Yeah, I know he got roughed up his last start, but the way he came back in innings 2-5 was impressive. Most other pitchers would have caved, but he fought his way through the next few innings and – if possible – made me respect him even more. (NOTE: that isn’t possible)

Why It Won’t Matter: Doesn’t matter how good your pitching is when your pitchers keep throwing the ball right down the middle of the plate. Here’s some free scouting for the Sox pitching staff: When you throw the ball right down the middle, the Rays hitters will hit it a long, LONG way. Let’s keep in mind that this Rays team is young and impatient. It’s not a coincidence that Dice K has had the most success against them. He doesn’t throw anything in the strike zone. He nibbles at the edges, drives impatient hitters batshit crazy, and walks 15 batters a game.

Do that. Throw off speed junk on the edges and they will chase. You throw it down the middle and you’ll see more hits like Rocco Baldelli’s three run blast off the Sports Authority sign. That was fun.


Hitting: Look, I know the Rays have good starters, but they aren’t that good. Ortiz is fossilizing in front of our eyes, Ellsbury hits like Coco Crisp now (everything back to the pitcher or off the dirt in front of the plate), Varitek’s been an automatic out since August 1st, and Cora may as well be a pitcher in the nine hole.

It won’t keep up this way. Ortiz nearly hit a home run last night, Ellsbury will get his shit together, and Varitek will come up with a big hit before the series is over. What’s especially infuriating is the pitches are there. Ortiz is just missing the pitches that he usually crushes. Ellsbury and Varitek have been popping up balls that are right in their wheel house. The only ones still on their games are Pedroia, Youkilis and Bay.

Besides, the more often this lineup sees a pitcher the better they hit. They will figure out these starters. They better.

Why It Won’t Matter: Ortiz is either hurt worse than anyone knows or he has somehow fast forwarded to 2011. Varitek is done – he can’t catch up to good fastballs any longer and the Rays know it. Watch when they pitch him next and it’s all fastballs on the edges or high with one or two off speed pitches to throw him off. Ellsbury needs some major time off to fix his swing and regain his patience. He’s swinging at bad pitches all the time now. Take a breath and relax, dude.

Also, the Rays’ pitchers are really good.


Experience: Let’s face it, we’ve been here before. Between 2004 and 2007 this Sox team seems to NEED to be facing extinction before they wake up and start playing how their capable of playing. Again they’re down 3-1 and again they look like crap. Anyone remember the game 3 18-9 blowout in 2004? Me, too. That ass kicking was the catalyst for the entire championship run. Perhaps last night’s similar ass kicking will wake them up.

Plus, let’s not forget how young this Rays team is. Human nature is to believe they have this series won and let their guard down. The Sox, on the other hand, have been here before. Panic is not in their nature.

Why It Won’t Matter: Too many to count here, but let’s try.

- Injuries have taken a major toll on this Sox team. Ortiz’s wrist, Beckett’s side, Lowell’s hip (NOTE: recently announced that he is done for the rest of the year. Or one game if you’re keeping count), Drew’s back (still not convinced he’s 100%). You’ll notice this list includes many players in their mid 30s.

- This Tampa team is fearless. They don’t care what’s happened in the past and are fully convinced they are the better team.

- The Tampa bullpen is PHENOMENAL! Every time I think the Sox are rallying, Maddon brings in some guy I’ve never heard of who matches up perfectly with the next 2-3 batters and the rally is done before it even gets going.

- Good pitching beats good hitting.

- Maddon himself. The dude has proven himself to be the best manager in baseball. He pulls starters at the exact right moment, moves the infield around so they are nearly always in the right position and, most importantly, has this team relaxed, motivated and believing.

- Evan Longoria. Words escape me. Just watch him play and you’ll understand.


So there you have it. Don’t be surprised when this Red Sox team comes storming back. They need to improve on quite a few things, but they can do it.

Whether the Rays let them or not is an entirely different matter.


Today’s distraction: Score one for the good guys. The FTC just shut down the world’s biggest spam factory (they call them ‘gangs’ which makes me think of ‘West Side Story’ and gets me laughing while I envision spammers dancing down the street snapping their fingers). So if you’re tired of getting offers for cheap watches and free Viagra, thank the FTC for bringing down HerbalKing (among other names) which has been estimated to have sent over a billion spam emails over the last 20 months.

Good riddance.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Week 6 Postmortem

I spent the better part of the weekend coughing and wheezing and trying to sleep. I feel better now (thanks for asking), but I still spiral into coughing fits whenever something makes me laugh. This made watching ‘Forgetting Sarah Marshall’ a trying experience.

As it stands now I’m semi recovered, but my back and sides still hurt from all the coughing I did over the weekend. I feel like I did when I used to play tackle football with my friends wearing no padding. Bright we weren’t, but damn was that fun. Rumor has it there may be a reunion game Thanksgiving morning. Hopefully it won’t be 10 degrees that day. Nothing hurts more than landing on frozen, lumpy ground.

One good thing about being sick: I was allowed to lounge on the coach, push the fluids (oh yeah!) and watch football all day. Not that I wouldn’t be doing that anyway.

So here are some thoughts on the weekend that was. I’m stressing the games I actually watched (four – that’s right FOUR!!) and things that effected my fantasy status. Like always.

- The Cardinals – Cowboys game was entertainment at it’s finest, but I was getting completely aggravated with the amount of time the officials took to review calls or consult about rulings. I understand they want to make sure they have things right, but there were 3 or 4 times the game DRAAAGGGED because they were taking their sweet time reviewing calls that seemed fairly obvious. I’m not saying they shouldn’t be thorough, just pick up the pace.

- This is the first time I watched the Cowboys all year and was not impressed with Romo at all. Yeah, he had good stats, but he does not seem to have good awareness whenever a lineman is coming up on him. In the over time period he nearly lost a fumble when a defensive linemen was rushing up on him. Romo moved away a bit, then moved his arm as if to throw it and had it knocked away. He just saw the guy coming up on him and still exposed the ball. I mean, he was RIGHT THERE, saw him, moved away and still exposed the ball! And this happened on several occasions, including one time in the end zone that was luckily over ruled as the ‘Tuck Rule’. Just seems that he makes quite a few boneheaded decisions for someone that is supposed to be an elite quarterback.

- Marion Barber, on the other hand, is something special.

- Please FOX, you don’t need to show Terrell Owens on the sidelines after every play. We really don’t care that much.

- That blocked punt the Cardinals got for the win made me laugh out loud (and kicked off another coughing spell). The replay showed one blocker completely ignoring the man that blocked the punt. They were lined up across from each other, but when the ball was snapped, the offensive lineman went left and didn’t even touch the man directly in front of him who blocked the punt. Very odd.

- One reason I hate watching one of my fantasy players while their game is ongoing: I gambled on Dustin Keller, tight end for the Jets, since Dallas Clark was playing against the Ravens. On a goal line play, Favre rolls to his right and hits Keller for a touchdown. I think ‘I am a fucking genius!’ Only there is a flag on the play and it doesn’t count. Final tally for Keller on the day? Zero. Fuck!

- Five reasons why fantasy football and the NFL are completely unpredictable:

1: St Louis Rams beating the Redskins in DC (or Maryland, to be exact). The Redskins had just defeated Philly and Dallas on the road the last two weeks.

2: The Ravens came into their game against Indy with the best all around defense in the NFL. I sat Dallas Clark and Marvin Harrison (mainly because he hasn’t done anything this year) just because of that defense. Harrison catches 3 balls, 2 for touchdowns and Indy scores 31. Go figure.

3: The Patriots looked like they got their shit together against the 49ers last week, headed into last night’s game against one of the worst pass defenses in the league and put up a whopping 10 points. It’s one step forward, two steps back with Cassel.

4: Jacksonville visits Denver and takes complete control of both sides. Runs all over them and hold the so called ‘explosive’ Denver offense to 17 points.

5: The Vikings spend all week licking their chops because the woeful Detroit Lions are coming to town. Final score 12-10 with a questionable call helping Minnesota out immensely.

- For the record, I’m up 25 points in my ‘league that matters’, but my opponent is starting Eli Manning AND Brandon Jacobs tonight. Safe to say this will be a loss unless they both get hurt in the first quarter. What’s infuriating is I’ve scored more points than I have all year and have the second most for the week. And still I’m going to lose. What the hell??

- Random prediction for tonight's game: Cleveland surprises everyone and shuts down the Giants offense completely. Eli throws for 128 yards, 1 TD and 2 picks. Jacobs runs for 50 yards. But still the Giants pull off a win because of a last minute fumble which they run in for a touchdown. Huh, was that too specific?

Some baseball thoughts for your consideration:

- Friday night’s Red Sox – Rays game was one for the ages. Ironically it was a little bloop flare that wins a game that included seven home runs (including Jason Bay’s bomb which I called. Just ask wifey). It looks like this series is going to be a dog fight. 4:35 pm today is game three. Enjoy!

- I’m not sure I understand the pitch counts. I kind of got it when Pedro would self destruct at exactly 100 pitches back in 2004, but why do the actual pitches matter that much? Do they include the pitches they use to warm up between innings? What about throws to first? That’s still throwing the ball, right? What about a pitch that’s thrown, but doesn’t really count because the umpire called time out? Why is it only the ‘official’ pitch count that matters?

- Just learned that Derek Lowe will be pitching on three days rest tonight. If you’re a Dodgers fan are you encouraged by this news or not?

- Speaking of the Dodgers, all network sporting events can no longer cry ‘West Coast Fans’ when scheduling playoff games at 9 pm. You just had an important game 2 the INCLUDED a west coast team start at 1:35 pm Pacific Time on a Friday afternoon. No more! You now need to start any game that includes an east coast team at 8pm at the latest. I’m done staying up until midnight on a work night because you guys are trying to squeeze another nickel out of advertisers. Here’s what I’m doing from now on: Shutting off the game and going to bed. See what that does to your ad revenue. Probably nothing, but I'll be better rested.

- My friend in Tampa and I have made a wager on the Sox – Rays series. The loser must add the opposing team’s logo to their email signature until the World Series ends. I suggested dressing our kids in the other team’s gear, but my eight year old said ‘I’m NOT wearing a Tampa Bay hat!’

Good boy!

Today’s distraction: How many television shows can you name in two minutes? This became more difficult than I ever thought at the one minute mark.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Anger Issues

Allow me to brush off some of this crankiness before I get on with my weekend. Why am I cranky? Let’s see. I’ve been fighting off a cold this entire week, the temperature fluctuates between 35 at night to 75 during the day (which probably explains why I’m getting sick), and it’s fully dark when I get home from work now.

Bite me, west coast people. I don’t want to hear about how it’s a perfect sunny 75 degrees and has rained approximately 6 minutes over the last two months in the Los Angeles area. One of your baseball teams has been sent home and you still root for Kobe Bryant. Live with that.

Yeah, I’m in that kind of mood. In order to purge this ink black mood, allow me a few rants and rages to make myself feel better.

I may apologize at the end of this, but chances are I mean every word of it. For the moment.

- Fox Sports sucks! I don’t mean the channel, I mean the network bozos who create the LCS playoff schedule. Philly and L.A. play tonight, then play again tomorrow afternoon at 4:35. Meanwhile, the Red Sox and Rays don’t kick off until 8:37ish (8:40 too exact?). So the two teams that play tonight have less than 24 hours before they play again AND one of those teams has a fan base on the opposite coast. This means everyone in L.A. (except French) will be working during the entire game. Brilliant! Makes perfect sense.

What a prediction? Game 1 tonight goes into extra innings (something ridiculous like 22) and everyone plays game 2 asleep on their feet. THEN they have to get on a plane and fly 3,000 miles.

Say it with me: What. The. Fuck!?

It gets better. The Sox – Rays open on Friday night, play Saturday night, then play Monday at fucking 4:30. I know it’s Columbus Day but I’m sure there are many people like me that don’t fucking get Columbus Day off. Therefore, I’ll catch the last half of the game while I work and fight my way home on the subway during the first half.

Fuck you, Fox. You suck and are ruining playoff baseball.

- By the way, French, your two entries in 24 hours were a welcome return. Although I had high hopes for the ‘Issuance of Gag Order’ entry until I realized it was about baseball and not about oral sex. Talk about a let down.

- Please tell me Tim McGarver is covering the Dodgers – Phillies series. I would like nothing more than McGarver having to interview Manny after he’s named the NLCS MVP.

- I sucked it up and watched the debate and wound up more frustrated than ever. As far as I can tell there is virtually no difference between these two candidates besides what to do about Iraq, slight differences in health care coverage (McCain – none, Obama – status quo) and abortion. McCain’s attempt at humor were terrible in a pin drop quiet, very awkward kind of way. Plus, every time he talked and moved around I couldn’t help but think of Quasimodo.

Obama seemed the more calm and collected of the two. He sat still and barely moved even when McCain was criticizing him on some obscure voting record. McCain, on the other hand, would often laugh quietly when Obama said something he didn’t agree with and seemed to be taking notes the entire time. I’ll bet he was writing ‘John Obama’ in different styles with flowers and unicorns and stars and hearts. He secretly loves Obama and wants to be him.

- Let’s get back to these little criticisms during the debate for a second. Two or three times McCain said of Obama ‘He’s voted 94 times to raise your taxes’. I thought at the time ‘Is that true?’ and came up with a brilliant idea.

You know that guy on ‘Pardon the Interruption’? The one that comes in near the end of the show to point out any misstated or incorrect facts the hosts uttered during the show? I think he should be part of all future debates. Maybe not that exact guy (although I think it should be), but some fact checker that will announce to the audience and anyone watching on television ‘Yes, that’s true. Obama voted 94 times to raise taxes’. Or ‘That’s incorrect!’ or something. Politicians have become so untrustworthy and full of shit that I don’t believe anything that they say.

Most politicians – and this is especially true in debates – seem to think they can say anything about the other guy regardless if it’s true. They just want to score points. But would they be the same if there was a fact checker on site to yell ‘Bullshit!’ when they make something up? I’m betting no. In fact, they’ll be more apt to stick to some form of the truth if they run the risk of being called out in front of the world.

- By the way, that statement by McCain about Obama voting to raise taxes is NOT true. Want to know how I know? Because CNN has a great site that verifies and issues verdicts regarding what each candidate (and their wives, if needed) say about the other.

For example, on Tuesday Obama said: ‘You've heard a lot about taxes in this campaign. Well, here's the truth — John McCain and I are both offering tax cuts. The difference is, he wants to give the average Fortune 500 CEO a $700,000 tax cut’.

Is this true or just more political bullshit?

According to CNN’s Fact Check: ‘What the statement considers a tax cut would be renewing President Bush's current cuts, which are scheduled to expire by January 2011. McCain has said he would push to renew those cuts, while Obama wants to let the cuts run out for the wealthiest Americans and offer new ones to people who make less money.’

The verdict is entered as ‘True, but Incomplete’.

Here’s another one:

During a campaign stop on Wednesday, McCain said of Obama ‘as recently as September of last year, he said that subprime loans had been — quote — 'a good idea,” ‘

Really? Let’s run a fact check:

‘McCain is citing a statement Obama made during a September 17, 2007, speech in New York. While the words he quotes are technically accurate, McCain is taking them out of context from a statement that actually was criticizing abuses in the subprime sector.
"Subprime lending started off as a good idea — helping Americans buy homes who couldn't previously afford them … ," Obama said. "But as certain lenders and brokers began to see how much money could be made, they began to lower their standards. Some appraisers began inflating their estimates to get the deals done. Some borrowers started claiming income they didn't have just to qualify for the loans and some were engaging in irresponsible speculation. But many borrowers were tricked into glossing over the fine print." '

This is a great tool to weed out as much political double speak as you can. And there is a lot of it. I’m up to my eyeballs already and it’s not even Halloween.

- One more rant about the debate and I’ll stop. Both were asked about how they would deal with Afghanistan and Pakistan and both of them gave basically the same answer: We need to pressure them to take care of any terrorist training camps themselves, help when and if we are asked, but reserve the right to invade said country if they are unable or unwilling to attempt to capture the terrorists themselves.

They used different phrases and terms, but the idea was the same. Only they wound up getting into a heated exchange about it. Even interrupting Brokaw twice to make another point. But the most passionate moment of the night regarded a subject they fucking AGREED ON!!!

You wonder why I hate politics? Yeah, fuck you, political process!

- Like I need more to be pissed off about. Seems that eighty five billion dollar ‘loan’ given to AIG won’t be enough. They’re asking for another $37.8 billion and have already blown through $61 billion of that initial 85. Here’s a question: Are the same idiots who ran the company into the ground still the ones deciding what to do with this money? If so, OUT! Get them the fuck out! I own a part of that company and want these morons out of power. No severance package, no golden parachute (golden shower given to them by 250 million outraged Americans will be considered), and no free lunch. You get a hand in the back and foot in the ass. My ideal scenario would be to remove them like Axel Foley was removed from that swanky hotel.

(NOTE: I just spent 20 minutes trying to find the clip of Axel getting thrown through that glass window and couldn’t find anything. Everything in the world is online except the one clip I wanted to enhance the comedy on my blog. Fuck you, You Tube!)

- If that weren’t enough to boil your blood, this should do it. AIG spent $440,000 on a nice, relaxing retreat at a California resort after they received the bailout money. You can see the entire hotel bill here. AIG released a statement that basically says ‘Oops, our bad!’

‘This type of gathering is standard practice in the industry and was planned a year advance of the Federal Reserve's loan to AIG. We recognize, however, that even activities that have long been considered standard practice may be perceived negatively. As a result, we are reevaluating various aspects of our operations in light of the new times in which we operate.’

Gee, ya think? They didn’t think reevaluating ‘aspects of our operation’ should have been underway when they discovered they were going bankrupt?

And, maybe….just maybe…the fact that they consider this kind of extravagance a ‘standard practice’ is why they are now owned by the U.S. Government.

Fuck you, AIG dopes!

Nope, not feeling better. Time for beer.


Today’s distraction: The Adam (fuck it, I’m still Pacman) Jones experiment took a predictable turn. Unsurprisingly, the Cowboys are saying this does not violate the behavior clause in his contract. He will play on Sunday. Let’s see if they discipline him on a bye week.