Baseball Toaster The Juice Blog
Monthly archives: August 2007


Scotty the Sleek is back with College Football Selections!
2007-08-31 21:51
by Scott Long

(Spoken in the tone of a toutsheet charlatan.)

Who was a sparkling 45-32 against the spread last year with his pigskin picks in the colleges? You got it, Scotty the Sleek. I promise I will beat your bookie like he's a bongo and I'm a native intorducing Kong! I have 4 games this weekend that just can't miss, so call 1-800-SWINDLE and get all these games for free. My high-pressure sales staff will get your number and then hound you for the rest of your natural born life or until you give us your credit card number. Operators are standing by now!

I realize that many of you could care less about picking football games, but as long as I continue to put up numbers like 45-32 number vs the spread, the Juice Blog will put up it's selections. I will put up my college Top 25 next week. I'm always a bit cautious early in the year, so these are all just 2 star games.

Best Bets

Colorado (-2.5) Colorado St.

Stanford (+17) UCLA

Michigan State (-20.5) UAB

Iowa (-12) Northern Illinois

I suspect that Coach Hawkins' turnaround of the Buffs will begin this year. While Harbaugh's mouth has gotten him into some trouble, I like the swagger he's bringing to Palo Alto. The Spartans have lost many games because of playing undisciplined football, which won't be the case with new coach Dantonio. While playing in Soldier Field is close to DeKalb (home of Cindy Crawford), the Hawkeyes will have close to 50 thousand fans at the game, so it will be like a metro version of Iowa City.

Who You Calling Retard?
2007-08-29 18:16
by Scott Long

Growing up with a verbally and physically abusive Father whose manic depression made it nearly impossible to know what was going to happen next, gave me a few different choices on what direction his behavior would influence me towards. You don't have to have a master's degree in child psychology to know that having one’s self-worth mentally and physically beaten out of them doesn’t generally lead a child on the path into becoming a well-adjusted adult. While I can happily offer up that I’ve never had any use for hurting someone physically, I do love to verbally slice up anyone who sends a zinger my way.

I guess it could be worse, as I could have continued the physical abuse cycle my Father demonstrated on his immediate family. What has kept me somewhat likeable, despite being in constant verbal joust-mode is that my Mother was the opposite of my Dad. She wanted everyone to like her. Somewhere in the middle of this is this strange dichotomy of parentage is my personality. I would diagnose myself as being aggressive/passive. I will take a shot at someone I think deserves it and then just as quickly, try to get them back on my side. It’s hard to explain, but I do know that I went into the right profession, as having this type of personality works well on the stand-up comedy stage.

I have a predilection to want to shock my audience. I am a natural contrarian, who feels uncomfortable when I’m preaching to the converted. While I’m a really even-keeled person, I do tend to have a chip on my shoulder in regards to the privileged who I don’t believe have earned their success. The reverse of this is that I have a pretty strict code on who I will attack.

My standards for who is off my comedy radar.

  • If you were born with some particular malady.
  • If you were injured in some type of accident that was no fault of your own.

The second standard is specific, as someone who is befallen when doing some dangerous activity like driving a race car or bungee jumping being fair game, according to my code. I want to make clear that while I believe political correctness is based in a nice concept, I generally hate it, as I feel it limits people discussion. Race, Gender, Sexual Preference, Body Type, etc., I see as all being potentially worthy targets, as long as the joke is based in some type of fairness.

The comedy biz is filled with performers from every type level of ability, who believe the easier the target, the better. Why is this the case? Because these comics know a certain portion of the audience embraces making fun of people who they feel superior to. I have never seen the intellectual challenge in taking on the defenseless, but there are things I say that offend others, so I try to stay out of behaving like some type of moral police.

Good enough, but what is the point behind your rant?

My 4 year-old daughter is Autistic. To the uninitiated, I have put below a basic definition of the disorder that comes from the website, Autism Speaks.

Autism is a complex neurobiological disorder that typically lasts throughout a person's lifetime. It is part of a group of disorders known as autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Today, 1 in 150 individuals is diagnosed with autism, making it more common than pediatric cancer, diabetes, and AIDS combined. It occurs in all racial, ethnic, and social groups and is four times more likely to strike boys than girls. Autism impairs a person's ability to communicate and relate to others. It is also associated with rigid routines and repetitive behaviors, such as obsessively arranging objects or following very specific routines. Symptoms can range from very mild to quite severe.

Most Americans who haven't been touched by Autism know the disorder from Dustin Hoffman's character in Rain Man or a number of other newsmagazine pieces that demonstrate some amazing gift that an Autistic person has. It is actually a small percentage of Autistic people who exhibit some kind of a savant-like behavior (less than 10%). My daughter Madeline fits more of the typical example of an Autistic child, as she has a hard time communicating and does a moderate amount of hand-flapping and body rocking.

The emotional and fiscal challenges of having a child on the Autisitc spectrum can be exhausting, but Madeline has brought me more joy than all the other great moments in my life, combined. Unlike my natural tendencies of being guarded and cynical, waiting for the world to offer up its next haymaker to my jaw, Madeline has no malice towards anyone and only has unconditional love to offer. While others might see the trepidation she has in taking on new people and new tasks, I see a little girl who has her own rhythm to life. A rhythm that is unencumbered by the pressures that us typical people face. Madeline has given me perspective on how small slights that befall us all are pretty small in comparison to the challenges that she faces.

I blame no one for being uninformed about Autism, as I was that person just a couple years ago. While I knew by the age of 2 that she suffered from learning delays, I thought there was no way that she would be classified as Autistic. My girl laughed a lot and was affectionate to people she knew and trusted. Her sweetness was infectious to those who came in contact with her and complete strangers often commented on how beautiful she was. This was not a withdrawn child who sat in a corner. She did not spend hours just lining up blocks. The more I became informed, though, the more I realized that the Autism spectrum is much wider than I had realized. Doctors are very reticent to diagnose a child with Autism until the age of 3, as it has such a stigma to it and most parents of younger children believe their child "will grow out of it."

As much of a joy as my daughter continues to be, there is no real way for me to convey how overwhelming it is to have a child who is autistic. Since Madeline has little understanding of what can harm her, she needs constant adult supervision. Since she struggles with communication, the sense of utter helplessness overrides you when she is sick or hurt and can't tell you what is wrong. There are many other difficulties that go along with her Autism, especially meltdowns that come from seemingly nowhere. If you are interested in what it is like for a parent to have a child with Autism, I strongly recommend watching Lauren Thierry's powerful short film about the subject titled Autism Every Day.

So now we come to the word retard. In my lifetime, it has always been around, but strangely, while so many other derogatory terms have become less prevalent in most people's conversation, retard seems to currently have a free ride with most. As I mentioned before, I'm not here to tell you what or what not to say, but I do want to offer a couple points on why you might want to drop it out of your vocabulary.

While I'm not advocating using bigoted terms for people, I will mention that when these hurtful words are used directly at someone, the offended party is able to defend themselves. I know many people's defense is that when they use the word retard, they are not using it to inflict any type of pain on people who are mentally challenged. Some would offer up that the word just comes from the medical term of being mentally retarded, so what is the big deal? Once again, I'm not telling you are an evil person if you use this version of the word in your everyday speak, but you should know the pain that it brings to not only the people who are mentally challenged, but their parents as well.

Think about the staggering increase of this disorder in the U.S.
1 in 150 individuals is being diagnosed with Autism.

There is a good chance you know someone who has a family member that suffers from this disorder. Let me mention that I have never met anyone who has been impacted by Autism, who uses the term retard when discussing their child. If they say anything or not, I know that most of these parents wince when they hear the word thrown around, even it is done by someone they consider a close friend.

Take my thoughts for they are worth, but know that as much as I wish my daughter could experience many of things most of us take for granted, I wouldn't trade anything for what she has brought to my life. She makes me a better man everyday that I spend with her. I feel very lucky that she calls me her Daddy.





Please Explain: The National League (1983 to Present)
2007-08-26 21:00
by Scott Long

I know this is dangerous ground to be treading here, but the Senior Circuit has been an inferior product for quite a long time now. Since 1983, the AL has had 15 World Champions, while the NL has managed just 7. If the Oakland A's of the late 80's/early 90's hadn't of underperformed so badly during the post-season, this number would be even more skewed towards the AL. According to my rankings, the AL has had MLB's best team 18 of these seasons. And I haven't even mentioned the whole All-Star game or inter-league play disparity...

Now, I should mention 2 things before I go any farther.

  1. I'm an American League fan.
  2. I believe the NL rule difference (no DH) is the way the game should be played.

The disparity between the leagues has gotten even bigger this decade, even though the NL has won 3 of the past 6 World Series. Here is my ranking of the best 10 teams since 2001. Teams with an asterisk won the World Series.

  1. 2003 New York Yankees
  2. 2005 Chicago White Sox *
  3. 2002 Oakland A's
  4. 2004 Boston Red Sox *
  5. 2004 New York Yankees
  6. 2004 St. Louis Cardinals
  7. 2002 New York Yankees
  8. 2002 Atlanta Braves
  9. 2002 Anaheim Angels *
  10. 2003 Oakland A's

Last season 6 of the 7 best balanced teams were in the AL, with this year it being pretty close to the same. I know this piece reads like a biased attack on the NL, but I'm just following Please Explain principles. I've read a few theories in the past on this subject, but NL's inferiority has to do with more than the favorite excuse that the Yankees and Red Sox spend more money than everyone else.

The NFL during this stretch has flipped between an AFC dominant period (8-2 in Super Bowls between 1998-07) and a NFC dominant period (14-1 in Super Bowls between 1983-97). In the NBA, since 1983, the Eastern Conference has won 13 world championships, the Western Conference 12. So Please Explain to me your theories on why the disparity between Major League Baseball's two Leagues has continued for so long.


Juice Blog Porn Hall of Fame
2007-08-22 12:32
by Scott Long

There are a few subjects I’m very knowledgeable about and I believe I’ve covered each and every one of them a few times, except for one, PORN. I’ve been involved with all the different metamorphosis of adult films. When I turned 18, I visited the local XXX theatre I had dreamed of going in. Sure it had sticky floors and a lot of men staring intently forward like they were at a urinal, but there was a strange camaraderie with my raincoat degenerates, as we were there to feed our most base desires. A theatre like this might have been Paul Reubens undoing, but to me, Pee Wee never seemed more of a real human being until he got busted in Florida.

Theatres and peep show booths were the only place to watch PORN, until the early 80’s when VCR’s changed the industry. It was revolutionary for PORN, as the accessibility of being able to watch hardcore acts at home completely changed its business model. It did affect the artistic notions (yes, there were some then) that had existed in XXX-rated movies during the 70’s, as Betamax tapes at home didn’t need to be shot on film. Up until this point, the performers in PORN actually needed to have a semblance of acting skills, but when shooting on video it was done on g-string budget. This change brought more beautiful dimwits into the industry, but acting skills…not so much.

In the current marketplace, the internet is how most of the PORN is now consumed. This has led to incredible specialization, as the World Wide Web is never more aptly named than when you can put into your favorite search engine Nazi Leather Trannies and find plenty of examples to fill your needs. This extreme segmentation of the industry has created an even bigger slide in the quality of the product. Sure Gonzo PORN film was a very exciting development in the nineties, but the depraved edge that Evil Angel brought to the genre has with few exceptions, become played out by now.

Now comes the time where I unveil the Juice Blog’s initial Hall of Fame of Porn inductees. While some are more famous than these inductees, these 10 have been the best the PORN industry has produced, as they were/are able to raise the viewers focus through their ability to portray lust and sensuality to a high degree. If you think it is easy to perform in the adult industry, then why is it that there is so much crap on the shelves and online? These 10 are not considered by most as true artists, but the Juice Blog thinks they have positively impacted more lives than what Michelangelo or Mozart have done for Americans under 40.


Juice Blog PORN Hall of Fame Inductees

Marilyn Chambers- While Linda Lovelace was the first breakout name in the porn business; Chamber is still the biggest Icon in the history of adult films. During the swinging 70’s, Chambers was on the cover of Ivory Soap box and still thought “why not appear in Behind the Green Door” at the same time. Chambers was the first pretty actress who seemed deeply enthusiastic to be filled in all 3 inputs. For those of you that only know her for her terrible Skinemax soft-porn movies, I recommend checking her out in Insatiable or her Private Fantasies series, as you will then see Marilyn in her prime.

John Leslie- The best actor in PORN history, Leslie had the charisma of a Pacino, with the laid-back confidence of a Joe Willie Namath during his prime. His acting work in the Talk Dirty to Me series brought a raw sexuality that is generally missing from the genre. Leslie later moved into directing and made the best films of the early 90’s. His peak films that he directed are the classics Chameleon and Curse of the Cat Woman.

Ginger Lynn- No actress in the history of PORN has mixed girl next door beauty, with a nymphomaniac passion like Lynn. She was the first of the young actresses in the business that you wondered “why is she in these movies”…that is until you saw her swallow a kielbasa in one serving. Lynn had success appearing in a lot of B-movies, after she retired from PORN and was a tabloid target when she dated Charlie Sheen during the early 90’s. She currently co-hosts with PORN legend Christy Canyon, the best show on the Playboy Radio channel which appears on Sirius satellite radio.

Nina Hartley- In a business where actors last a long time, but actresses are chewed up and spit out like the money shot that is deposited in their mouth, Hartley is coming up on her 25th year of performing in the adult sex field. Considered the “Thinking Woman’s Porn Star”, Hartley has always taken the position that you can be a feminist with your legs above your head. She has been a great mouthpiece for adult films, during her illustrious career, appearing on many different talk shows to defend the industry. Plus, she possesses quite possibly the finest ass in the history of XXX movie making.

Jerry Butler- While his career was shorter (as was his package) than most actors in the business, Butler was as good of a performer as anyone has been in the biz. His timing was good, as Butler began his career at the artistic pinnacle of PORN (1981). An actor who had some minor success mainstream acting, according to his book Raw Talent, he felt pressured to sleep with men to get these jobs, which pushed him away from the Soap Opera world. Raw Talent is the best insider book on the Adult Film business.

Randy Spears- Spears is the exception to the rule of PORN actors, as he began when video was at its peak. (1987) Like Butler, Spears started off trying to be a “legitimate” actor, but according to his website, “he struggled to find work during the strike
and ended up posing for modeling shoots” in the PORN magazine market. Spears has all the qualities to be a fine dramatic actor, but when you have plunged into the world of PORN, you are off the radar for most Hollywood casting agents.

Janine Lindemulder- No woman has ever been more beautiful in PORN than Janine was in her debut film, Andrew Blake’s Hidden Obsessions. While I almost kept her off the list, as she has only done girl-girl scenes, Janine classic beauty and acting chops always have made her scenes noteworthy. Lindemulder was married to Headbangers Ball Riki Rachtman and appeared in a bootleg sex tape with Vince Neil, so with this type of taste in men, I can see why she has stuck to women on film.

Rocco Siffredi- Physically appearing like an Italian Matthew McConaughey, Siffredi is the best male sex performer of all-time. I can’t remember for sure what comedian said it, (I think Jay Mohr), but the line goes “you know you’ve watched too much porn when you can recognize the actor by his balls.” Call it homoerotic if you want, but men who watch porn do a bit of hero-worship when they watch a male performer in the scene. When Siffredi came onto the scene, he was like some kind of PORN version of a Greek God, which only maybe Peter North has been able to match. What sets Siffredi apart is how he is able to make jaded PORN actresses become passionate when pressing the flesh against him.

The Dark Brothers- As I mentioned before, the artistic element in PORN plummeted with the advent of videotape; the Dark Brothers were the sole auteur of the second half of the eighties. From what I know, Gregory Dark was really the talent of the operations, as I don’t even know who the other brother was. Bringing an MTV-style production, using kinetic cuts and eclectic set design, the Dark Brother films managed to be strange, funny, and yet were some of the hottest films in the history of PORN. New Wave Hookers, The Devil in Miss Jones 3 & 4, and The Creasemaster are great places to begin to understand the talents of Dark. Gregory Dark has directed some of the best late-night soft porn films and also has been at the helm of music videos for Britney Spears, Mandy Moore, Linkin Park, Sublime, Snoop Dog, and Outkast. His absence from the PORN business since 1993 has left a gaping hole as big as something in a Max Hardcore film.

John Stagliano- Known as Buttman by many, Stagliano created the Gonzo filmmaking style which has influenced PORN and even mainstream genres. While this style ended up being overdone, it originally gave much needed life in PORN, as its style had a reality-based feel which made the sex look much nastier. Stagliano’s voyeuristic camera style is now the norm in PORN, which makes many older adult films seem limp in comparison. Stagliano’s Evil Angel Production Company has been a mark of quality in the business, much like Rick Rubin’s American label was for music.


My inductees show an obvious bias against actors who have started over the past 15 years, but no one makes the Top 20 who began in the nineties. (Yes, that includes Jenna Jameson, who often has all the sensuality of a real doll.) I highly recommend if you want to learn more about the movies currently released to check out Rog Reviews. Rog is the best reviewer of PORN around.

Please Explain: Men's Fragrances
2007-08-17 16:56
by Scott Long

Some of my favorite commercials are done by the body spray products like Axe and Tag. During these commercials young men spray onto their skin the cheap scents found in these canned products, and voila, they are swimming in hot babes. The ultimate ad done by these products has a Tag wearer getting his girlfriend's mother coming on to him, from just taking one whiff. Pretty amazing that a major company like Proctor and Gamble (Tag maker) would produce an ad playing on the MILF theme like something right out of NSFW My Friend's Hot Mom at Naughty America.

Men are such a desperate animal that even the most rationale will purchase anything that promises to make women find us sexually desirable. From Ron Jeremy pitching pills that will Extenze our manhood to khaki pants that cause women to ask "are those bugle boy you are wearing?", it doesn't take much for advertisers to get men to lose their grip on reality.

By the time that I had gotten to college, my experience with fragrance had basically consisted of a few spilled moments each year out of an Avon cologne car I had received for Christmas. Wait a minute, I just remembered that I did spend most of my 10th year wearing Hai Karate that I had bought hoping that it would help attract a Charlie's Angels look-alike. Since neither of these scents seemed to elicit anything from women I was seeking, I went au naturel. That is until I met my dorm roommate.

Sean slathered himself in expensive designer colognes like Paco Rabanne and Ralph Lauren Polo. Since my roommate had a girlfriend and had no problem approaching women more confidently than myself, I figured his smell must be the determining factor why he had the skillz. I decided to join him, adding an expensive smell to my arsenal. For the next couple of years, I would douse myself in Drakkar Noir and Calvin Klein, whenever I left my room. Looking for an edge, I would read GQ, which offered up the best way to put cologne on and which brands women liked best. Considering that a major element of the bottom line for GQ is expensive, full-page ads featuring scratch and sniff samples by these same designer cologne manufacturers, maybe GQ wasn't the most unbiased source. Using cologne seemed to make me more confident like liquid cocaine, as it provided me hope to conquer. The hope that a cologne could help sexy women look past my more obvious faults.

Guess what, on the surface, these scents seemed to work, as I was able to hook up with some foxy ladies. Now, in hindsight, I realize that almost all of my success had to do with the ultimate aphrodisiac in a bottle, alcoholic beverages, but at the time it was more of a don't change what is working attitude I was following. Thus, the Drakkar continued to flow. Then I met a girl who told me that she liked my own natural scent and was turned off by cologne. I've been with her ever since.

Now I'm not saying that cologne is worthless and that some women don't prefer a nice manufactured scent on their man. I am just saying look at the facts. According to a recent survey done by Esquire asking women's magazines staffers from Cosmo, O, Harper's Bazaar, and Marie Claire what they like a man to smell like., below are the results

4. I like it when he smells like:

A. Nothing 58.1%

B. A sweaty fireman 6.5%

C. Citrusy cologne 16%

D. Scotch 19.4%

Like many other Please Explain subjects, I understand why the item in question exists, but where I'm confused is by the magnitude that men will continue to pour huge sums into something that as often as not will repel them to the people they are trying to impress. Please Explain, Men's Fragrances.

Big 10 Conference and Cable Companies Game of Chicken Goes Down to the Wire
2007-08-14 14:04
by Scott Long

It was not that long ago that the MLB Extra Innings TV package almost became the exclusive property of Direct TV. At the last minute, MLB came to an agreement with the cable companies and Dish Network, thus a crisis was averted.

Currently, there is a major battle going on between cable companies and the Big 10 Network, as most of these companies want to place the new network on a second tier. The reason for this is that the Big 10 Network is asking for more money per subscriber than any other channel except for ESPN. Now, as much as this seems like extortion, think about how much a Michigan or Ohio State football game is worth to its fans? In a state like Iowa, where no professional sports team exists, paying a $1.10-1.20* per month would seem like a bargain for most in the state. *reports vary on the actual number

The only sports league that has its own network is the NFL. The NFL Network also had a tough fight with cable companies when they demanded to be put on their main tier. So far, Time Warner has refused and Comcast announced that they will be putting the Network on a higher priced sports tier this year. The NFL Network shows 8 regular season games per year. If you live in the metropolitan area of your favorite team, the game is shown on some platform, if you have the NFL Network or not. Where this becomes a problem is if you live in a place like Madison, Wisconsin or San Antonio, Texas and are cable subscriber not carrying the NFL Network. No Packer or Cowboys games for you! Your option is to get a satellite dish or go to a bar to see your team.

The Big 10 is not just offering 8 games on its new venture, as they will show the majority of their basketball games on the Big 10 Network. For fans like me, who live outside of my alma mater state, having a chance to see almost all the games as part of my basic package has pushed me back to Direct TV. I can see understand why the cable companies and Dish Network have not wanted to pay this much in order to put the Big 10 Network on its basic platform packages, but consdering the network might be the one I watch most during some months, I think it's a great value. Way more coverage of my teams, without dropping a couple hundred bucks to buy the NCAA football and basketball packages is a great selling point to someone like myself.

We will see how this thing sorts itself out, but my guess is that many of the cable companies will stand firm against the Big 10. All other major sports conferences will be watching to see if the Big 10 succeeds. Televised sports has never been worth more to advertisers, as it is the only programming that seems to be TIVO-proof, because watching live is vital to the experience. He may be the face of evil to some, but Rupert Murdoch has understood this fact about the power of sports television. It will be interesting to see how this stalemate between the Big 10 Network and the cable companies impacts each others bottom line and how much it adds to Direct TV. Don't think that MLB isn't paying attention, with its own network coming soon (hopefully) to a cable provider near you.


What? Another Freaking Baseball Post!
2007-08-08 23:58
by Scott Long

When I started writing with Will Carroll a few years back, I was often ripped when I did not write about baseball. Now I feel like many of the readers here are disappointed when I actually post something on the subject. I promise that I will get back to pop culture issues soon, so bear with me today. Thanks.

  • Steve Stone is filling in for Darrin Jackson this week on White Sox telecasts and he was great during the 13th inning thriller at US Cellular. His insight and player breakdowns are the best in the biz and it is shameful that someone hasn't come up with the dough to put him back in the booth on a full-time basis. Juan Uribe, who had made 2 costly errors which led to the extra inning affair, was predicted by Stone to win the game with his bat, right before he came to the plate. I haven't seen such great prediction skills during the game since Hank Stram was in the booth with Jack Buck, during the radio broadcast of Monday Night Football. FREE STEVE STONE!!
  • Joe Borowski proved my most recent point, as he is going to blow a lot more big games down the stretch. The guy has Jaime Gillis-sized stones, but he lacks the stuff to make it happen on a consistent basis, despite what his save number would point to.
  • If you missed it, Bobby Jenks has retired 35 straight* consecutive batters, which puts him only 3 more outs from tying David Wells' AL record of 38. (I struck the word straight, as there's a good chance that not all of these hitters were heterosexuals.)
  • Barry Bonds is the greatest player I've ever seen in my lifetime, which spans 35 years of watching baseball. Just because you are a douchebag, doesn't mean you don't deserve props. I mean, if I get a vote, I'm putting Dennis Miller in the standup comedy hall of fame.
  • The Mariners have tied the Tigers for the AL wild card, with the Yankees a half game behind them. Throw the Indians in the mix and you have 4 teams within 1 game of each other. Here's my latest prediction. I think the Twins will have a better record than these 4, from here on out. I'm really tempted to pick them to win their division or at least the wild card, but being 5 games back is just a little too much. Right now, I see the 5 ending up this way.
  1. Indians (win Central)
  2. Yankees
  3. Twins
  4. Tigers
  5. Mariners
  • The White Sox still have 13 games left with the Indians and Tigers. With their bullpen actually getting people out and having the healthiest starting pitching staff in the league, I suspect they will be the spoiler the rest of the season for the AL Central. I told you at the start of the year that this division wasn't as good as it has been the past 2 seasons. (of course, I also told you the White Sox would win the Central.) Will anyone even reach the 88 games I predicted the winner would wind up with?
  • If the Red Sox lose a couple of games, there will be no team in either league with a record over .600? Someone who likes to look this kind of stuff up should do some research to find out if this has ever been the case. Another thing to look up has there ever been a season since the each league split into 2 divisions that only one team finished below .400? Currently, only the D-Rays are below this number.
AL Central Update: Gagne, Borowski, Jones, Sterling, and Waldman
2007-08-06 20:32
by Scott Long

So while the major media focused on the Yankees and Red Sox pursuit of Eric Gagne at the trade deadline, the 2 teams that most needed him came up empty. At the beginning of July, it appeared like Detroit and Cleveland would take 2 of the 4 AL playoff spots. Now these teams hold less than a game lead over New York and neither one has anyone near a Mariano Rivera closing out games.

The Indians bullpen was the reason I couldn't put them in the same category as the Red Sox and Angels before the season, and despite the great production they have gotten from relievers Rafael Bettencourt, Rafael Perez, and Aaron Fultz, closing out games is still a problem for the team. Manager Eric Wedge, whose dismal record in 1-run contests has been discussed here before, has Joe Borowski (4.85 ERA) taking the ball at the end of games. While Borowski has pitched pretty well during the past month, would you want to rely on Borowski down the stretch? When doing some research on Borowski, I discovered some really bizarre splits.

Borowski ERA WHIP
HOME 3.27 1.18
AWAY 6.53 1.50

Borowski ERA WHIP
Day 8.44 1.81
Night 2.70 1.18


Borowski ERA WHIP
Outdoors 5.15 1.46
Indoors 3.00 0.86

If you think these stats are a complete fluke, Borowski's career stats show that he pitches a run and half better at night than during the day (3.27 to 4.77). His indoor/outdoor ERA has almost the same differential (2.87 In to 4.11). So unless I was facing the Twins at night, I don't think I would use Borowski on the road during any tight circumstances. As good as Bettencourt has been, I would much rather him stay in the 8th inning role, with someone like Gagne closing games out. Considering his track record, it seemed like the time to take bullpen management out of Eric Wedge's hands by giving him an ace closer, instead of using a retread like Borowski or past seasons Bob Wickman.

On the subject of retreads, here comes Todd Jones (4.76 ERA) into the game for the Tigers. Last season, Jones brought some veteran leadership to the pen, with smoke being thrown in the 7th and 8th innings by young guns Zumaya and Rodney. With the injuries of this year, Jones has been exposed more for the guy player he really is. Hey, I think there are spots for guys like Jones and Borowski, who are willing to take the ball at crunch time, but I don't think they should be closing games for elite teams. Actually, Jones and Borowski would be a good 2-headed closer, as Jones has a daytime ERA of 2.08 this season (versus his ERA at night of 6.43).

The Yankees have enough pitching problems that the AL Central might still get 2 teams into the playoffs this season, but Gagne was a big piece of the puzzle for the Indians and Tigers and I suspect it will cost one of them.


Sure it's too late to make a difference right now, but the White Sox have played as well as anyone over the past couple of weeks. The bullpen has settled down, with a couple of minor league call-ups bridging the gap between the quality starting pitching and Bobby Jenks. Now that the Sox have dumped Contreas out of the rotation, they have a chance to win every day. (I don't believe Gavin Floyd is any kind of long-term answer, but Contreas has been as bad as any pitcher in the AL this season. Gio Gonzalez in September would be fun to watch.) The offense was never going to continue to all hit at their 10-20 percentile, so combined with a bullpen that is no longer competing with the Devil Rays, I suspect that the White Sox and Twins will end up having the best second half records in the Central. Oh and don't forget the winning magic which follows Scott Podsednik. (White Sox are 20-12 when he is on the field.)


Ran across this blurb in a Rolling Stone review of this past weekend's Lollapalooza.

“Last year we played here and I said it was the most fun I ever had at 3 PM. This is shaping up to be the most fun I’ve ever had,” proclaimed Craig Finn two songs into the Hold Steady’s unhinged late-afternoon set. If not the finest, the singer-guitarist’s quintet made a watertight case for at least being the day’s most jubilant and ecstatic performance. Finn understands that a frontman needs to be unafraid to act a fool. Keyed-up and rambunctious, the bespectacled singer pointed, hopped and shuffled while playing the role of an inebriated storyteller. Drinking (“Party Pit”), driving (“Multitude of Casualties”), drugs (“Cattle and the Creeping Things”), dealers (“You Can Make Him Like You”) and sex (“Southtown Girls”) fueled the location- and character-rich tales, alternately shot through with barroom swagger, driving power chords and Southern rock abandon. Adorned in a Ron Gardenhire Minnesota Twins jersey, Finn also spoke of the I-35W bridge collapse that impacted his beloved town, and did a sign of the cross after mentioning the Mississippi River during “Stuck Between Stations.” A throng of converts soaked it all in, but the biggest fan of all was Finn, whose uplifting presence and merry mood caused anyone within earshot to grin.

If you have not taken my advice and listened to one of my Top Releases of 2006 (No.9), how about giving the Hold Steady a chance now? I mean how many Indie rocker lead singers wear a baseball manager jersey to the biggest gig they have ever done? If that wasn't a blatant stab at trying to get readers from the Toaster to pick up their record, I don't know what else it could be.


One of the things that makes me not hate the amount of driving I do is listening to my XM radio during baseball season. It is especially fun when there are day games. The negative part is that XM only broadcasts whoever is the home team. It never gets worse than when the game is in Yankee Stadium, as John Sterling and Susan Waldman are painful. Sterling sounds pompous and Waldman is like listening to Fran Drescher announce a ballgame. How about saving some money by not signing some free agent starting pitcher who will implode and hire away a couple of quality announcers for the radio broadcasts?

Please Explain: American Automobiles
2007-08-04 14:01
by Scott Long

I'm not a car guy. I have never changed my own oil. My knowledge basically extends to I know how to unscrew the gas cap and on some cars, know where to check the coolant. When something goes wrong with my car, I follow a basic process. I take my car into a shop and shake my head up and down, while listening to the mechanic use words that could be absolute bullshit, as gasket and manifold might as well be Mandarin Chinese to my ears. The mechanic then tells me how much it will be, which brings about the only thing I'm sure about; I'm about to get bent over for the full Jiffy-lube service.

Whenever something does go wrong with my car, I start thinking again about why haven't I cultivated a friendship with someone who really likes to work on cars. Then I remember that I would rather pay double to have it fixed than to sit at some neighborhood barbecue listening to stories about overhauling a muscle car. It's probably true that if I didn't like football and pussy so much, I would probably have no qualifications to be a member in the Real Man club.

With this lack of interest in the inner-workings of a car, when I go shop for one I'm basically like some housewife who is only concerned with getting a cute, low-maintenance vehicle. Add good gas mileage to the mix and it isn't likely that you will see me in car made by Chevy, Ford, or Chrysler.

This isn't to say that I haven't owned American cars. I grew up in a household that considered the UAW as holy as Christianity and red meat. Both my Grandfathers and my Father worked at the Maytag Plant in Newton, Iowa, building home appliances that kept the Maytag repairman lonely. While they never received anywhere close to the kind of money that the United Auto Workers made, the UAW did provide a decent wage for the hard work they produced. As a member of the clan, it was considered a sacrilege to buy anything but an American-made car.

The first car I ever purchased on my own was after I graduated from college. While I had never really clung to anything which could be considered traditional or patriotic, I bought a Chevy Beretta because I knew it would make my Grandpa happy. I'm not sure there is anything that makes you feel more like an adult than buying your first car. Sadly, part of being an adult is having to pay for fixing stuff and the Beretta became nothing but a headache. It's major mechanical flaw was that it would constantly stall when it came to a halt, after going at high speeds. Since I was living in Chicago at the time, this was a real problem, considering I was given the honor of paying a toll every 4 miles on my way to work.

I can think of few cars that seemed to disappear off the roads more quickly than the Chevy Beretta. While Accords and Camrys from the early 90's still are plentiful, by the the end of the last decade it was really rare to see the Beretta. The most rare thing was to see a Beretta with it's original paint job, as almost the whole fleet of this model started losing its paiint by year 2. It was like the Beretta suffered from Vitiligo. Chevrolet should have included a large surgical mask to cover it up, much like Michael Jackson would wear.

Cars can be like people, as sometimes you can fall in love with quirky good looks, but within a couple of years you wonder what you ever originally saw in them. The Beretta was this type of car, which also was the case for my second car, the 1996 Ford Taurus. I figured that my bad luck with Chevy might be an abberation and I despite knowing that Toyota and Honda graded out better, I took a chance with the Taurus, especially since it had a better stereo system and leather seats than the Camry..

This was a bad decision, as combined with my girlfriend's miserable 1994 Pontiac Grand AM, we would be looking at one car repair after another for the next 4 years. The Grand AM was the biggest piece of shit car I've ever driven (and this includes the 1985 Yugo that my step-father owned.) This Grand AM used to overheat faster than Caligula at a Donkey Show. The Taurus was pretty luxrious and drove decently, but ended up dropping its transmission during year 3, going up a hill in Western Maryland.

Towed into a transmission shop in Cumberland, Maryland, the owner looked at me like I was the ticket for a new hot-tub for his patio. This was probably accented by the fact that I was coming home from a vacation and was wearing a Hawaiian shirt. He gave me the Doc Hollywood treatment, saying that it would take a few days for him to get a transmission in-stock. Let me offer up that there was no (NSFW) Julie Warner to make my stay more delightful. Unlike the movies, I was to discover I was more likely to meet the kind of babe who would put Cumberland on the map a decade later, with her zany antics in Abu Ghraib. (Oh Lynndie, you know what I like. Now put the cigarette in your mouth,,, Yes, now point... I feel like Bruce Weber.)

So by 1998, I had my fill with buying American. I wanted to support my union tradition, but considering I put at least 30,000 miles per year on my car and can't change a tire, I needed a lower maintenance vehicle. Thus began my days driving Toyota's, which have served me very well.

Oh yeah, this was a Please Explain piece on American Automobiles. According to Consumer Reports and JD Power rankings, the American car companies have made a lot of progress in quality. Much of Detroit wonders why consumers haven't been more receptive, because of these improvements? Truthfully, I wonder why as many people buy them as they do. American automobiles could be just as reliable as their foreign competitors, but I wouldn't buy one now because they are some ugly-ass pieces of shit sheet metal.

Most of the really hideous looking cars on the road came from Detroit. The Chevy Malibu and Impala or the Ford Focus or Fusion might have look good from some angles, but the architects of these cars always seem to mess up the back or front. These cars are the equivalent to the pretty girl with bad teeth and a lumpy ass. You know, an ugly grill and lousy back end. While I'm not a fan of Chrysler, I give them some props for trying something different with their batmobile-influenced cars. Let me offer up, though, that when Dodge does those ads about a HEMI, I never feel less like a man, as I'm about as lost as when I watch an ad for a maxi-pad having wings.

The one place that Detroit was beating the foreign companies was in the SUV/Truck category. With the increase in gas prices and Japan getting more competitive in this category, Detroit is getting to the point where there is talk of bankruptcy. Sure union benefits (especially retirees health benefits) are really hurting the Big 3 in trying to compete with the Foreign automakers, but unitl they start designing better-looking automobiles, I don't know see why the tide will turn.

I perform standup in Michigan a lot and it is one of my favorite states in the country. Parts of the Lake Michigan coast are among the most beautiful places I've ever been in the US, and I love the people of the state. Currently the state is bleeding red ink and it's depressing for me to see. I know I'm part of the problem, as I just bought a Honda CR-V, instead of a Big 3 product.  I have chosen globalization over US Made following the path of Thomas Friedman over Lou Dobbs. I want to be a protectionist, but I can't do it unilaterally.

Please Explain to me why I should buy American when it comes to a sedan or compact car?

Societal Critic at Large: Scott Long
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