Monthly archives: December 2004
happy new year
Thank you to everyone who made this one of the most successful, amazing years I've ever had --
Scott Long, TFD, the A-B crew, the boys at BP, family and friends that will go unnamed, the staff at Ivan R. Dee, everyone at Slate, the ESPN 950 group, the affiliates of BP Radio, all the hosts and producers of the radio shows I do regularly and irregularly, my best friend, and the angel on my shoulder.
And also to all of you. Readers, subscribers, correspondents, and for more than a few of you, friends, albeit via email or IM in so many cases. I've had the chance to meet many at Pizza Feeds, book signings, and random wanderings. I'm arrogant enough to say that "I'm nothing without you" is a lie, but I'd be much, much less without you. I can't thank you enough for your time, your thoughts, your support, and your passion.
I'm the luckiest boy in the world. Really.
UPDATE 12/31: Not all Subaru dealers are bad, some dealers of other brands are pretty good, being a Cubs fan has its privileges occasionally, and does anyone have any experience with Swap-a-Lease or similar site/programs? Special thanks to reader Gary for the CarsDirect tip - I'll give that a thumbs up as well.
So, latest royalty check in hand, I headed out just hoping to test drive one of the cars I've had my eye on. With just a few payments left on the Volvo, I took the chance of a free evening to test drive a Subaru WRX.
It's a nice car, runs like a scalded cat, and has pretty much everything I want. What options am I looking for? Very minimal - auto transmission and the turbo gauge. I'm flexible on color. The salesman (Brent) was quite nice, taking our info, checking out the situation with the Volvo, and heading for finance saying he'd be "back in five minutes."
Thirty minutes later, he came back with his finance manager, Sean (I think). Despite the fact that their web site links directly to what I'm about to show you ... well, look at this -
From Subaru's web site (no direct link, but accessible with one click from the lower left "special financing" section on their front page.)
2005 Legacy 2.5i Sedan
2005 Legacy GT Sedan
2005 Forester X
2005 Impreza RS Sedan (excludes Sport Package)
2005 Impreza WRX Sedan (excludes STi)
It is, of course, the latter that I'm interested in. So pink-shirt wearing finance manager Sean drops a $405 price on me. He tells me of "special cash back", talks about what he could offer on my Volvo, and gives me a condescending explanation of how he bait-and-switched me. It was *not* a convincing sales job on a guy that knew more about the car than he did.
Look, I do my homework and honestly like the car buying/haggling process. What I don't like is dishonesty, be it overt lying or covert "this is how the world works, son" stories. I'm willing to pay a fair price and understand auto sales is a business. Do your job and I'll do mine and we'll both get what we want.
But I won't be going back to Tom Wood Subaru and I'd advise you don't either. I might still get a WRX, if someone out there has an honest Subaru dealer they can recommend (of course, Midwest preferred) or if you want to recommend another car.
Best part was walking out, saying to myself "I'm blogging this." Someone should make a t-shirt saying that ...
Oh, baseball bone: There's some talk that Javier Vazquez is being bid on by three teams. The Orioles offer is pretty well known (Erik Bedard and Jorge Julio), the Phillies are offering Randy Wolf and Marlon Byrd, while Texas is also in with something still unknown, perhaps Alfonso Soriano. The Dodgers are also back in - kind of - with a Shawn Green for Vazquez and Dioner Navarro. Expect this end of the deal to take nearly as long as Randy Johnson to the Yanks did.
What We Tivoed in 2004
It's year end and while Will is working on his 37 projects, he takes a little break to chat with Scott about the best shows on TV. No highbrow movies for these two - it's just what they enjoyed off their respective Tivos this year. If you don't already have a Tivo, what the heck is your problem?
Will: You said it was a bit of a down year for music, but man, TV was BAD. There's only two new shows that were worth watching for me and it seems like reality TV is hitting that point where the pendulum begins to swing back. For the networks, this was the year that cable outdid them in total viewers and there's good reason. Network TV mostly sucked while cable networks as varied as HBO and Discovery put creative shows out there. Someone needs to start taking the risks or at least giving Joss Whedon another show instead of filling a year up between Janet's boob and Anna Nicole's latest vicodin bender.
Scott: I’m not as down on the 2004 Television world, as I believe the quality of shows is better than at any other time in television history. Sure the sitcom is dying, but there has never been so many excellent dramas. I don’t have time to watch any of the Law and Order’s or CSI’s, but they are well done entertainment. The one plus of reality shows has forced the dramas to be better, as there are less spots on the schedule.
Will: True enough. What I meant was that there was nothing really *added* to our TV menu. Things that were good, stayed relatively good. I didn't list a couple shows that people would expect. "24" went far enough downhill that it didn't make the list. I'll probably watch the upcoming season still. I didn't list "The Sopranos" because - this is sad - I still have it sitting on Tivo. I didn't list "Desperate Housewives" because I don't like cheese or softcore porn. For those
Scott: I agree with you on "24", as the first few episodes of last year were really silly. I also didn’t include "West Wing", as the show suffered from the absence of creator Aaron Sorkin, though so far thisfall, it has regained some of its quality. I guess I’ve been spoiled by the first 2 seasons of "The Sopranos" that I just feel the show has run it’s course. Desperate Housewives does have all the porn stereotypes (the hunky gardener, the young boy satisfying the wife, while the husband’s at work, etc.). It’s like they combed through all the Skinemax Young Lady Chatterly’s and Emanuelle’s to develop the plots. I’m not watching again until Teri Hatcher and Nicolette Sheridan take a bath together.
Once again, our intrepid bloggers leap into the breach, listing their top ten picks of the TV world (sans cool click-to-Tivo links, which may be on my Top Ten Cool Things list ...) after the jump.
I have to say, it's hard for me to feel sorry for the Yankees, even if the Dodgers reneged on a deal. Randy Johnson has said he only wants to go to one team, the Yankees. Name me another sport where a guy with a current contract can determine he wants to only go to one other team and he would get his wish. In the NFL and the NBA players have little opportunity to move from their current teams, which I feel is unfair, but no more unfair than having a league where one team can sign pretty much whomever they want.
For Christmas I open a gift from my wife, "Measure of a Man" by Clay Aiken. Is there any wonder I had to marry this broad. I mean that is a special kind of smart-assness. (new word?) By the way, the last time I could claim a personal "measure of a man", I was 15 and I was by myself with a ruler. (more information than you probably needed?)
I'm not a lawyer, but I think you would have a pretty good defense for beating a speeding ticket in court, if you mentioned you were listening to Ministry's Greatest Fits. If that's not a law, it should be, especially Jesus Built My Hotrod, which is impossible to drive under 75, while listening to.
Hope everyone survived the holidays so far ... couple quick, non-baseball thoughts and questions:
1. What was your best gift? Why?
2. Has anyone used Allofmp3.com? Someone recommended it a while back, but with the near-death of Bit Torrent (damn you, MPAA!), I'm willing to give it a look now.
3. What's the best gadget I don't have? Why do I need it? (Yes, I'm looking for suggestions ...)
4. What the hell is Brian Sabean thinking? Walt Jocketty? Ok, that is a baseball thought.
5. With all the recording industry and now movie industry legal battles against online file sharing, why isn't the pr0n industry doing the same? There's only a couple answers I can think of - either they don't have enough money to organize (ha!), can't organize (possible), think they won't win in court (not a lawyer, but if the others can ...), or *it's not hurting their business.* Since pr0n always leads technology, this might be an interesting case study with the Supreme Court about to test the Betamax decision.
There's no Gina Gershon involved, but one of my favorite happenings of the winter happened. The package with Jamey Newberg's "Bound Edition 2005" arrived. I haven't had time to do more than glance at it yet, but this is a HIGH quality project. (The foreword's not near as good this year as last ...) Even if you're not a Rangers fan, this is worth picking up, if only to support Jamey's work. There's very literally no site/group that does for one organization what Jamey does. It's nice that the Rangers are finally realizing the resource they have. Since I picked up Hank Blalock and Ryan Drese in my Scoresheet league, I'll be reading even closer ... kudos to Jamey, Mike, Eleanor, and the rest of the Newberg team.
(BTW, the frontispiece picture is darn near worth the price of admission.)
Santa's a Dick and other Christmas Specials
Growing up with a manic-depressive father, Christmas day was a mixed bag. While it was exciting to get gifts, I also knew that if the gift was really great, it came with strings attached. For example, when I was 12 I received a moped. Just like any boy this age, I was ecstatic, but it was tempered by knowing for the rest of the year, I would get to hear, "Go out and paint the house or fix the lawn mower, because I bought you a moped for Christmas." (Author's note: My dad did have a 12 year old (me) paint our house and he thought I should instinctually be a master mechanic.)
Some more background on the moped was it was not made by Honda or Suzuki, but made by McCullough, the chain saw company. It was the Yugo of mopeds, being started only by pedaling quickly and then flipping a lever on the back of the moped to kick the engine. It was not to be driven by anyone over 190 pounds, which my Dad had beat by 40 pounds, but it didn't stop him from driving it to work on a consistent basis. Well, the thing broke down after a few months (surprise) and that was the end of my great Christmas present.
I have stories like this for almost every year of my early childhood, but at this point you might be asking, "are you doing some kind of self-help therapy on the blog, because if you are, it's kind of creepy and definitely pathetic." No, the reason I brought it up was to make you feel better about any holiday blues you might be suffering, while also leading in to the main subject of my post, Christmas specials.
I wasn’t sure what I’d stumbled into there in Anaheim. The fog rolling through Orange County may have disoriented me or maybe Chuck Lamar had slipped something in my frappucino. When I walked into Tippy’s Diner, hoping for a decent chicken fried steak, it took me a moment to realize I was the tallest guy in the room.
A short guy, somewhat dirty and disheveled, stood at the head of the table. Another bunch of short, dirty, disheveled guys sat around the table. “This emergency meeting of the Gritty, Gutty, Heart And Soul Baseball Players Club is now in session. Hey, who’s the new guy?” he asked, pointing at me.
“Press,” I said. “I can help tell your story.” Surprisingly for baseball players, this bunch didn’t seem to mind the media hanging around.
“You guys make guys like us,” said the leader. His bald head made me think it might be Stubby Clapp, but lots of guys remind me of Stubby Clapp. Call it a quirk. “We’ve got a bit of a problem and maybe you can help.”
“Sure, I’ll do what I can,” I mumbled.
“David here’s out of a job!” said the skinniest, scrawniest of the bunch. He was well-dressed, yet still disheveled. Gritty and gutty can shop at Nordstrom’s as well as work there, I suppose.
“David?” I asked. What I’d initially thought was someone’s kid was David Eckstein, the recently non-tendered Angels shortstop. His World Series ring was as big as his hand and a souvenir Barry Bonds bat was taller than he was.
“They cut me and signed Orlando Cabrera,” Eckstein wailed. “I have a great backstory and fans really seem to connect with me because I’m their size.”
“Cabrera’s not that tall,” I reminded them. PECOTA has Cabrera listed at a generous 5’11.
“You can’t be gritty and gutty and be Latin. They’re hungry. They’re passionate. It’s a whole different club,” one explained.
“It could be that he’s better,” I asked. “Wouldn’t being a downtrodden underdog, shuttling between Triple-A and the big leagues, one step from playing in the Frontier League help your story more?”
Eckstein conceded my underdog point, but he had more pride than most of these dirtbags (and I use the term endearingly.) “Cabrera may have a newer ring than I do, but didn’t Mr. Moreno notice that Cabrera only had a .298 on-base percentage last year in Montreal? Didn’t he read that Cabrera’s lifetime OPS is only 25 points higher than mine?”
I checked my dog-eared copy of BP. “25 points higher than 700 isn’t much to brag about, to be sure.”
“It certainly can’t be his defense,” he continued. “Boston tried to convince everyone they brought him in for his defense and he only put up an 89 Rate. I had a 99! Sure, he edges me out lifetime, but since his back injury in 2002, I’ve beaten him every year. That can’t be worth six million bucks a year more!” Eckstein had done his research. Maybe he could find a home in a front office, I thought, or coaching. Heart and soul guys always make good coaches.
The room grew silent, this gritty, gutty group silently feeling for their fallen comrade. It had been a tough off-season for them already. Ryan Freel was healing from his knee surgery but relegated to a utility role again in Cincinnati. The surging Rangers left Rusty Greer behind. The only sound was sadness and bad coffee.
“I’ve got something that will cheer you up, David,” I said finally.
“What’s that?” he asked, his ears perking up like a puppy’s.
I looked over to Bo Hart. “You still have Walt Jocketty’s phone number in there?”
WCP's Music Top Ten
It's year-end, so it's time to look back and do Top Ten lists. Why? I'm not sure. Who started this tradition? Why just ten? Ten Commandments? Ten fingers? Who knows, we just follow the crowd. Music discussions at WCP get pretty crazy, so sit back and enjoy the show. What follows is Will and Scott's discussion of this year's best ...
Will: I'm no music critic, but I know what I like. I have what I can describe only as eclectic tastes, leaving room for pretty much anything that catches my ear. 2004 was a big year for music in my head, mostly because 2003's holiday season put an iPod in my pocket. It's barely more than half-full now, but it's pushed me away from the radio. Add in XM's effect on my listening habits and I no longer have to listen to Clear Channel's idea of what I like. I can't recommend these two things highly enough.
Scott: So I'm putting together my list of Top 10 music releases of 2004 when I realize, this could be the worst list I've ever compiled. There is not one release this year that I feel will merit even much of a glance 10 years from now. After so many great releases the past couple of years, 2004 was a time for a music breather. Only my Top 2 2004 selections would have made the Top 10 in any other year this decade. The proliferation of teenage idols, emo-aners, and Linkin Park wannabes seem to have taken its toll this year, but the following selections are all worth checking out.
Will: It wasn't a strong year, to be sure, but it's the year where looking a bit harder was really rewarded. There's plenty of eclectic releases in various styles and it's all more accessible because of iTunes and other legal (and illegal) electronic media. What I'm waiting for is the iPod equivalent of a mix tape - when someone figures that out, they'll be on to something.
Since Will and Scott only have three albums on their lists in common, let's go Casey Kasem style after the jump ...
What Major Corporations give to Political Parties
Have you ever wondered (I can't help it, I write too many Andy Rooney parodies for the NFL on Fox) what your favorite company gives in campaign contributions to your favorite political party. Well, today's SF Gate column by the great Mark Morford breaks this info down for you. (Note: Morford is a leftist of the most extreme degree, but even if you're Republican, this column is very illuminating.
Looking for Hope and Faith
It's been hard to like the Milwaukee Brewers. Between Bud & Wendy and a pathetic on-field product since the days of Sal Bando, it's just no fun. Add in a bad (new) ballpark that completely killed the fun "real Wisconsin" feel to going to a game and ... well, the Brewers have been a team easy to ignore.
The supposed upside to being bad for so long is good draft picks. The Rays may have B.J. Upton and Delmon Young, but not much else populates their system. The Brewers, on the other hand, have gone the way of good depth the past couple seasons. There's a credible prospect in the system at almost every position except pitcher.
New owner-to-be Mark Attanasio has some Michael Milken connections that are a positive or negative depending on your outlook, but reports that he'll bump the payroll, giving Doug Melvin some room to work, look nice. A couple good trades -- Jose Capellan for Danny Kolb and Carlos Lee for Scott Podsednik -- have given the Brewers an interesting mix for next season.
Let's take a quick glance at the hope and faith that Doug Melvin, Ned Yost, and Mike Maddux have put together for next season, then a glance at what's coming:
Staring at a Blank Screen
If there's a worse time to get a bit blocked, it's now. For me at least.
Let's face it, writer's block isn't something I deal with often. I wrote a book, 150+ articles at BP, this blog, did 50 radio shows, and some guest articles at MLB.com, Slate, and the NY Times in the last twelve months. (That sounds much more arrogant than I mean it.)
I have a back-of-book piece for BP, another long-form piece, and the start of "The Juice" coming in the next couple weeks. Once that book's done, I'll be right in the heart of Team Health Report season, which is 35,000 words plus research. Actually, it's the research, then the 35,000 words ...
Yet, I'm staring at a blank screen tonight. Luckily, Thomas Gorman isn't blocked and did the bulk of the back-of-book piece.
The screen, however, is still blank.
I watched "Law and Order: Criminal Intent."
Fooled around with the new DVD recorder. I can get it to play DVD's, but I can't for the life of me get it to get a signal to record from. I may be the worst gadget-hook-up guy in the world. I'm still bummed that the Tivo-DVD combo doesn't meet my needs.
It's BITTERLY cold out and snow's coming. It's that dark time of the year where there's almost no baseball. The holidays and all the family is nice, but the days are short and snow, well, there's just no good reason for it. Snow, to me, ruins nearly everything. People move to Florida for a reason. Phoenix would be nice for a Pizza Feed, especially since I'll be out there in January.
Still blank. Still rambling. Guess I'll sleep and hope tomorrow's a different day, writing-wise.
Not like anything happened in the past couple days, has it?
Maybe Transaction Guy can answer me - is this the most movement we've seen in a one week period? It seems like it, with Oakland's moves and the ... well, the on-off-on-off Randy Johnson deal. How does this affect things, you ask? Tons has changed and I'm reminded that there's a lot of time left in the off-season. We'll see non-tenders this week. Last season, there was a lot of talk about a second round of players coming on the market and depressing things, but that's not going to happen, just as it didn't last year.
Let's do a quick "winners and losers" look at the rotations affected by recent deals (assuming that the Johnson trade happens as currently advertised) -- after the jump, of course.
Last Week's Sunday News Programs Tackle the Baseball Steroid Issue
I'm generally a big fan of Sen. John McCain, but when he decides to get involved in legislating sports, he loses a lot of my respect. If you don't recall, last year McCain tried to get sports betting banned in Las Vegas to protect sports from gambling scandals, which was idiotic since Vegas is the best investigator of it's games. There has never been a sports gambling scandal which involved any casino; it's small-time bookies or gamblers who try to put the fix in.
Now McCain is leading the charge to force MLB players to conduct Olympic-style drug testing. Considering that our country is at war and has an exploding federal deficit (just chose these 2 of many serious issues) spending time on what anything to do with ballplayers just seems like a serious waste of time and money. Jumping on this bandwagon, the network morning news shows last Sunday focused on the steroid issue in baseball, as well.
It *was* just like Ken said it was at the Winter Meetings, though I look much less like Burl Ives than he lets on. While nothing much happened AT the Meetings, it appears the groundwork was set for a bunch of deals.
The Tim Hudson to the Braves deal certainly helps the Braves now and ... well, prospect mavens seem to like their return. Hudson working with Mazzone should be interesting, tho a long-term deal with Hudson doesn't appear on the Braves radar right now. They're too busy signing John Smoltz to another extension. Loyalty is nice, but tell me which guy you'd want in 2006.
More deals after the jump ...
Lindsay Lohan makes me a believer in lip-synching
In a world where Clay Aiken has a best-selling book, we now have Lindsay Lohan making the talkshow rounds pimping her music CD. Miss Lohan, who I will admit has her charms, in a coquettish, young Ann Margaret way is following the tradition of teen actors putting out music to capitalize on their fleeting Tiger Beat fame. (see Leif Garrett, Rex Smith, Alyssa Milano, Jennifer Love Hewitt, etc.)
I have always felt that if you're performing live you owe it to the audience to not lip-synch, but after listening to Lohan screech her way through her first single on the Ellen DeGeneres Show today, I have had a change of heart. Considering that Lohan and so many other pop idols are so awful (notice I did not mention Clay, because even though he's not my kind of music, I do acknowledge he does have vocal talent) I think lip-synching is the best way to go. Since Lohan has only been allowed to release a CD because she is fun to watch, it's better to have her mouth the words to her overproduced, backup singer saved songs.
The most important question you might ask is "WHY ARE YOU WASTING YOUR LIFE AWAY DISCUSSING SUCH PABLUM?" I don't have a good answer to that. I guess we have information in our brain that we know is wasting space, but damned if it just doesn't stay in there. If you don't believe me, wait for this site's newest upcoming segment: Saved By the Bell trivia conducted by America's Foremost Expert on the show, Will Carroll.
I read the following blurb in the Perspectives' section of Newsweek, recently and thought I would share. It had originally appeared on Craigslist.com
Winter Meetings Post-Mortem, Part I
Boy, after reading all those stories about going to the Winter Meetings, it sure sounded like an exciting thing to do.
But I, Ken Arneson, have come out of my blogging hibernation to give you this very important message: All those stories about the Winter Meetings ARE LIES!
The Winter Meetings are not exciting at all! Hanging around a hotel lobby for hours and hours waiting for some trade or other to happen is just about the most torturously boring thing you can possibly imagine. In fact, it's so bad, it's actually hazardous to your health!
I secretly recorded my whole experience on videotape. To prove my point, I put together a small excerpt. Be warned, it's pretty gruesome. But if you must, watch the film and see for yourself. (Flash required, 1 MB). But don't say I didn't warn you.
If you were considering going to Dallas for next year's Winter Meetings, think again! Stay home! Trust me on this.
Baseball Still Has a Sox curse
Do you ever get the impression that Kenny Williams has some kind of Jim Bowden-type internal urge to trade? It’s like Williams needs to move players to feed his addiction. Hey, at least it’s not boring.
So let’s take a quick look at the current roster. The place the Sox look most different is in the outfield. After 6 years of Magglio Ordonez in right and Carlos Lee in left, there has been a remodel to match the US Cellular bleachers behind them. In their places sit Jermaine Dye and Scott Podsenik. Is it too late to move the fences back again?
Magglio Ordonez, up until his injury was a great ballplayer, but his current knee injury is unique. Considering that he had a new kind of surgery in Austria, it would not make me want to offer him a long-term, big dollar contract. I’m sure Will can answer this better than me, but why is it that Austria is the place you would go for this surgery? If he had problems with his mother, I would send him to Austria, but not for a knee issue.
I've been so wrong so many times on the D.C. Baseball issue I should just shut up on the issue altogether ...
... but you know me better than that. The recent vote by the D.C. Council puts the ball back in play. Asking Bud Selig to find private financing for a ballpark is like asking TFD to raise funds for John Ashcroft's Presidential campaign.
In a surreal moment at the Winter Meetings, Oscar Goodman, the mayor of Las Vegas, paraded through the lobby with two showgirls and an Elvis impersonator. It was the second best posse of the weekend (behind Nationals GM Jim Bowden) and kept Vegas in the minds of many people as a viable alternative for the Marlins, A's, and Twins if the public doesn't cough up funds for a ballpark. The Marlins and A's can make actual reasoned cases that they need new ballparks - not that I agree with public funding - and keeping teams in flux puts some pressure on towns.
Someone - I forget who - said this weekend that the Marlins have won two World Series rings while being a team more in search of a ballpark than an identity. Dead on. I'm starting to think that the Washington Nationals might be the Seattle Pilots all over again. Just remember that story brought us "Ball Four" and Bud Selig.
Since this question -- or variants of it -- is flooding my email box, I'll answer it here instead:
Q:Have you see the thread on Primer about your NY Times article?
A: No. Well, kinda. People send me stuff all the time and occasionally, it will be quotes or links from Primer. I don't go there normally, not because of any "feud" or animosity, but for the reason I don't go to discussion boards - time. So, today, I saw a couple comments that people sent and if that counts, then yes. Personally, I prefer one-on-one discussions, making email or IM my preferred medium.
And no, I probably won't have anything on Anaheim in this space. It was great seeing all the people that I saw, the A-B crew near the top of that list. The rest of my discussion will be at BP's Winter Meetings Diary.
Oh and I'll sneak this in - got the contracts today for my next book, "The Juice." You can probably guess the topic. It will be out in the spring and include interviews with players, coaches, and one person who I think will really intrigue a lot of people that hasn't had their side of the story told yet.
Sign O' The (New York) Times
Clay Aiken to Join Chicago Cubs Broadcasting Booth (Parody)
The Tribune Company has announced that the World's Greatest Entertainer, Clay Aiken, will sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" at all games in Wrigley during 2005. In related news, White Sox fans finally have something to be happy about and there has been a rolling over movement spotted at the grave of Harry Caray.
(Note to Clayheads: Please post this at all Clay-lovin' sites, as I love being part of your freaky community.)
See what happens when Will leaves for the Winter Meetings. Anarchy ensues.
I know Will has been swamped with all kinds of projects, but I'm sure his recap of Anaheim will be worth the wait.
Now, I need to get back to perusing my Clay Aiken 2005 Calendar. Remember, Clay did not come up with the calendar idea, it was presented to him and he decided to do it as a public service to all his fans who are confused by days and months. Another good deed by St. Clay.
Scott Spouts off on the Entertainment World
Clay Aiken has a new book out and isn’t it about time? I mean the guy has lived in the national spotlight for a whole year now. It’s a story that desperately needs to be told. The Clay Aiken biography makes about as much sense to me as when Vanilla Ice followed up his debut with a live CD.
Speaking of Biography, it’s time for the show A&E Biography to calls it quits. This used to be a great show, giving hour-long bios on the great political and artistic figures of mankind, but it would appear like they’ve run out of subjects. Case in point, recently they had (cue dramatic A&E music) Biography, John Stamos. I guess Blackie from General Hospital must be considered in the same breath as a DeNiro or a Pacino, by the A&E network. Sure Uncle Jessie is a much beloved figure to pre-pubescent girls, but to me the only noteworthy thing he’s ever done in his career was marry Rebecca Romain.
Can someone explain the whole Jude Law phenomenon? He currently has 4 movies out in the Theatres now, despite never having a box-office success that he was responsible for. In this month’s issue of GQ, the magazine has selected Law "Man of the Year". What, was John Stamos not a nominee?
Dirt Dogs fans, thanks for stopping by. Be sure to visit me at BP, where I do a lot more serious work.
I'll answer any Schilling questions I can here.
Great Baseball Movies: Starring Barry Bonds
I was watching a baseball film recently and was thinking, how different would these movies be if they were remade with Barry Bonds playing the title roles? The following are capsule comments of how these classic baseball movies would change.
Babe Ruth Story- Babe (Bonds) promises sick kid in hospital bed that he will hit a homerun for him the next game. Fortunately, Babe (Bonds) had been using anabolic steroids and has the strength to hit a homer to lift the boy’s spirits.
Bad News Bears- Team Manager Buttermaker (Bonds) tells the little leaguers, if they are going to compete with the more talented teams, they are going to have to ‘roid up. Kelly Leak then pulls needles and “juice” out of his motorcycle jacket for the whole team. By the end of the movie,Tanner is the size of a Bronx Little Leaguer.
61- Roger Maris (Bonds) leaves Mickey Mantle in the dust after his trainer (Victor Conte) gives him a magical cream. (This updated vecirsion is titled “73”)
Questions For Anaheim
We're up against the arbitration offer deadline and some deals are getting done - Nomar Garciaparra and Todd Walker coming back to the Cubs are the biggest so far, but there's a couple more close. With the Winter Meetings just days away, I know what my questions are, but what fun is that?
I want to know what you think the big questions are - if you were me and at the Meetings, who would you talk to and what would you ask?
Look, it would be hypocritical to attack ticket brokers. They advertise here at All-Baseball (thank you!) and for some, they provide a valuable service. I'll save the rant against the Ticketmaster monopoly for another day and point to this page of College Football bowls.
Notice the link to "Get Tickets"? I haven't seen ESPN do that before. Is this new or something I missed? Is this simply another revenue stream that ESPN/Disney is exploiting? I understand the need to make money and don't begrudge anyone that tries to do so. I paid when ESPN Insider had content I wanted, like Jim Baker. I lapsed as an Insider, but have come oh-so-close a couple times. I miss Rob Neyer's daily column and occasionally, I'll see content that makes me say "Oh, see, it's worth it."
ESPN now has a "Premium" model of pay-per-view, intrusive wall-to-wall advertising, and now a click-thru model? Add in targeted advertising and there should be enough revenue streams there to feed the Mouse. Is there a point where it gets to be too much? Should pay sites avoid ads?
It's an interesting debate and proof that no one's figured out the best way to make money on the net. I guess it's not those Nigerian letters.
Inside The Numbers
While researching something Sunday evening, I found myself digging through the BP archives. I noticed above Joe Sheehan's byline and discussion of young pitchers that the article ID was 3333.
My baseball number was 33. I caught in junior high and a girl - Lynda Jones, who I remember for her scent and her parents' poor spelling - pointed out that the number I wore - 3 - couldn't be seen well when I wore the catcher's gear. I wore number 3 because ... well, no real reason. It was my number in hockey and I started playing hockey too young to think about silly things like numbers. I just repeated the number, putting it safely on each side of the strap and safely in view of junior high girls.
None of that's important, especially now that I'm no longer a junior high boy. It's just that the ID caught my eye. The BP article IDs mean nothing. They're a simple counting system. Each new article gets a new number, in sequence. In that, they tell their own story, much in the same way that BP itself has gone inside the numbers.
Excuse the silence. In light of past gaps, I thought it important to say that Scott's on the road and I'm hard at work on a piece you'll see at BP soon, as well as two other research projects. More here soon ... and be sure to follow this space next weekend. I'll be in Anaheim
Someone suggested I do open threads. No. Not gonna happen. What I wouldn't mind doing is guest submissions. If anyone has an idea, you know where to send it. Don't make it too short and don't take it personally if it's not good enough.
In honor of Ken Jennings, here's a grab bag of various thoughts, rumors, pure speculation, and the occasional journalism:
1) The "Days of our Unit" soap opera go on. Randy Johnson *will* be traded, but it's a big question of when. There's no real reason that the D-Backs (yes, I know they're still in the league) need to trade him now. They're not going to pay more and as the various free agent pitchers get signed, the value of a known great pitcher only goes up. The only downside I see is that the D-Backs may need some cost certainty to sign some free agents of their own, like Troy Glaus and Russ Ortiz. The Yanks big head fake opened up a bit of room for the Cardinals
The First Smoking Gun
As the government has gone after the prosecution of BALCO, it's always been apparent that they weren't satisfied with breaking up the labs or convicting Victor Conte. The Playboy article last summer showed a near vendetta by senior agents of the FBI and IRS towards Barry Bonds.
Now, we have the first smoking gun in the case. I'm reserving comment on particulars for now, but this looks extremely bad. There are detailed references to specific drugs with specific side effects in the testimony obtained by the SF Chronicle.
This "trial by leak" is something I'm very much against. In this case, the government has leaked its first significant broadside into what has been a very united front by Conte, Anderson, and others. The coming weeks should be very interesting and for the game of baseball, very sad. This could be as significant as any negative event in baseball history and as much of a media circus as the Ron Artest brawl.
2004-5 College Basketball Preview
Ok, I think most of us around here agree that baseball is the best sport to follow, but to me the best event in all of sports is the NCAA b-ball tourney. After a few years of having to adjust to losing the top High school big men to the NBA, the amount of quality teams has reached early 90's level.
The ACC has 7 teams in the Top 25 and should be create a war every night on Tobacco Road. The Big 12 and Big 10 are improved, with 4 teams in each league who could be Sweet 16 squads. The SEC is usually the most underrated conference in America, but this year I just don't see any of their teams in the Final 4. The Big East doesn't have a National Champion-type club, unlike the past 2 winners, UConn and Syracuse. The Pac-10 is soft and until they start playing more physical, the league is going to suffer in the tourney.
Here are the 6 clubs who I believe will fight it out for NCAA Champion this year.
Counting To Five (II)
My look through the NL gave us some interesting topics of discussion. It's clear that most teams are one pitcher short of a credible rotation. Expected free agent signings will surely fill in many of these, but most of them will not be with pitchers that can make a significant contribution. There's a reason it's called "replacement level" and all too often, fifth starters don't even reach that.
It would be interesting to know what the VORP of fifth starters was in 2004. A quick glance at the chart makes me think it's going to be very close to zero, saved only by the occasional outlier and a few teams that actually do go five deep. It'd also be interesting to try and quantify where in the rotation a pitcher should go. The Cubs clearly have a rotation full of aces. The Red Sox and D-Backs won World Series rings with the equivalent of a two man pitching staff. Perhaps the numbers aren't really important since we don't see ace vs ace matchups and the games won or lost at the middle or back of the rotation are just as important.
In other words, there's a lot more work to be done after this quick survey of the landscape. We're at least starting to ask the right questions.
Tim Russert Interviews Baseball Legends
This past weekend, Tim Russert's CNBC weekend interview show featured a panel of Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Jim Palmer, and Roger Clemens. The show was taped in front of an audience at the Yogi Berra Hall of Fame and Learning Center. Yes, no typo's, Yogi Berra has a learning center. Kind of like naming a Music School after Roseanne Barr, but I guess it really exists.
Anyway, the show was kind of disappointing, as Russert lobbed up batting practice to these guys he obviously idolizes, instead of asking some tougher questions like he would do when dealing with politicos. Still, there was some interesting stuff that came out of the show.
Since it was pitcher dominated, the discussion of staying in shape during the off-season was brought up. Clemens, who we all know is a work-out machine and the always in-shape Jim Palmer were on the modern players side of the argument. Ford brought up an interesting point that when he played, players had 2 month long spring training's, so they had more time to prepare.
Clemens is not one of my favorite guys, as I think he's a bully. He reminds me of guys like Ted Williams and Bobby Knight, who also just happen to have/had the same political view of the world. Like these guys, though, when he's around peers, especially one's who are older than him, he acts reverential and is a pretty interesting guy.
Of course, when Jim Palmer's sitting next to you, it's hard not to seem charismatic. I can remember the days of Palmer in the ABC booth, with Al Michaels and Howard Cosell. Palmer is articulate and opinionated, but he's just so monotone that he can put you to sleep.
No athlete has ever had so many hilarious quotes as Yogi Berra. Unfortunately, they are better read than hearing them said by Yogi, as he stumbles and bumbles his way through them. During Russert's first baseball show, which featured all catchers, Berra was the weaklink, just like during this program.
If you ever see that this catcher's show is on, I highly recommend it, as Carlton Fisk, Gary Carter, and Johnny Bench rounded out the panel. Listening to the three discuss baseball made me wonder why Tim McCarver is the big TV guy and these far superior players aren't in the booth, as they all were great. Bench and Carter have done TV in the past, but Fisk was really great, as his ego was only surpassed by his talent at discussing the game. (Kind of like a baseball version of Cris Collingsworth.)
Societal Critic at Large: Scott Long
About the Toaster
Baseball Toaster was unplugged on February 4, 2009.
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