Monthly archives: September 2008
White Sox: 2008 AL Central Champs
I haven't discussed baseball much here because I have been too emotional. My White Sox commentary during this past week, was like an R-rated version of Hawk Harrelson. This is why I didn't think it was the best idea to post anything.
The Sox haven't been the same since the injuries to Carlos Quentin and Joe Crede, but they will have a slugger's chance against the playoff-novice roster of the Tampa Rays. The past 3 days have featured elimination games for the White Sox. It was starting pitching which pushed them through, so that is what I will focus on here.
It seems like an annual tradition here that I heap praise on Mark Buerhle. He isn't the best pitcher in baseball, but he's been the most consistent over his 8 full seasons in the Majors. All 8 years he has pitched over 200 innings and has achieved double figures in wins. Besides his one below average year (2006), Buerhle has put up ERA's between 3.29 to 4.14. He has 6 seasons with an ERA under 3.90. At the age of 29, he has a lifetime record of 122-87. He is one of the best fielders at his position, with one of the best pickoff moves in the game. No pitcher works faster and I would argue that no pitcher has more fun in the dugout on his days off. I wouldn't be shocked if Buerhle ends up being the Jaime Moyer of his generation, pitching well into his mid-40's. Considering that Moyer was just 34-54 at the age of 29, Buerhle has a good chance of having the highest win-total of any pitcher who began his career this decade.
When the White Sox traded Freddy Garcia, the main player in the deal was getting prospect Gio Gonzalez back from the Phillies. Some said Gavin Floyd was a throw-in part of the deal, but from day 1 as a White Sox, the front office confidently stated they thought he would be a quality starter. At the age of 25, Floyd has put together a huge year, with a 17-8 record and a 3.84 ERA. In a year where Kenny Williams has been lauded by the non-haters for stealing away 2 potential superstars in Carlos Quentin and Alexei Ramirez, let's not forget about the great deal which brought Floyd to Chicago...
...Oh and also the trade for John Danks. During the 2007 off-season, Williams traded 2 of his starting pitchers (Garcia and Brandon McCarthy) for 4 young hurlers. (Floyd, Gonzalez, Danks, and Nick Massett) Hopefully Danks' lights-out performance tonight will introduce him to a national audience, as he has been the Sox best starting pitcher for 2008. His 3.32 ERA was 5th best in the AL and it was done in the second highest scoring park in Majors. (Only the Ranger's Ameriquest Field put up more crooked numbers on their scoreboard.)
So if you didn't guess, I'm ecstatic right now. I'm not expecting to advance past the first round, but the playoffs are a new season and the Rays don't have a starting player or pitcher with any real post-season experience. October baseball started on September 28 for the White Sox. The best part of the season is ahead of me, as I'm guaranteed not to have to watch another game at the Metrodome. It doesn't feel like 2005, but hey, who knows.
"Hi, I'm Ryan Seacrest and welcome to ..." [Cue theme] " ... American Candidate!
"After months of tryouts and the grueling cuts of Washington Week, we're down to our final twelve. These Senators, Governors, former cabinet members, Fortune 500 CEO's and one surprise selection -- Bobby O'Sullivan, a cop from The Bronx -- will face our judges, so let's bring them out." [Cue lights, cut to judges.]
"You all know our panel of judges, so I can skip most of the intros. Our first judge is no stranger to the world of politics, having run for President twice. Please welcome ... Rev. Al Sharpton!"
"Yo, Ryan, what up, dawg?"
"To his left, the beautiful and talented ... Laura Bush!"
"Thanks, Ryan. I'm so happy to be here."
"I'm just happy to hear you speak, Laura. Your eyes look a little glassy, do you feel okay?"
"Of course, Ryan. You look great!"
"Yeah, ok. And finally, they call him the Dark Lord of politics, the only man who could fill the chair of Simon Cowell, it's ... Karl Rove."
"Fine, let's get on with it, Ryan, before you try to have a gay marriage with Clay Aiken."
"Ooh, he's tough already. As you know, this contest will help decide the next United States President. Your votes, texts, and web votes will decide who stays ... and who goes. Each week, we'll cover one topic, from the economy to immigration, from social causes to the Second Amendment. We'll have mentors in on each week to help define the debate and this week, we'll open with ..." [cue music and lights] "... Climate Change! To help us, there could be no one better than ... former Vice President Al Gore!"
The sad thing is, this might be a better system.
The Ghost of Pageants Past
This is seriously a quote, taken from Newsweek via a CBS Transcript:
Katie COURIC: Why isn't it better, Governor Palin, to spend $700 billion helping middle-class families who are struggling with health care, housing, gas and groceries; allow them to spend more and put more money into the economy instead of helping these big financial institutions that played a role in creating this mess?
Sarah PALIN: That's why I say I, like every American I'm speaking with, were ill about this position that we have been put in where it is the taxpayers looking to bail out. But ultimately, what the bailout does is help those who are concerned about the health-care reform that is needed to help shore up our economy, helping theit's got to be all about job creation, too, shoring up our economy and putting it back on the right track. So health-care reform and reducing taxes and reining in spending has got to accompany tax reductions and tax relief for Americans. And trade, we've got to see trade as opportunity, not as a competitive, scary thing. But one in five jobs being created in the trade sector today, we've got to look at that as more opportunity. All those things under the umbrella of job creation. This bailout is a part of that.
Holy bleeping bleep. Read it again.
I'm convinced that on Thursday, in the midst of debating Joe Biden, she's going to end an answer with "such as."
UPDATE: As you can see below, Tina Fey didn't have to do much to make Palin's interview into parody.
With even the arch-conservatives calling for Palin's withdrawl and unfounded (we think) rumors of Biden's health, I can't remember such uncertainty amidst what should be a certainty.
Those fingers in my hair
Witchcraft- Best known by Frank Sinatra
I have been pretty upfront about how I think either candidate for President will be a major improvement over the destruction we have had in office the past 8 years. (I don't buy the term Decider, but I would buy the term Destructor for Dumbya.) I felt the Obama campaign strategically made numerous missteps in how they have interacted with the Clinton's, which has hurt them greatly. I mean, this should be a slamdunk election for the Dems, considering that everything is in the Truck Stop dumper right now. Instead the race is nearly a toss-up.
Even the McCain camp couldn't have known how successful the choice of Sarah Palin would be for them. I spend a lot of time in the Upper Midwest and don't think that having a candidate who sounds similar to you doesn't make an impact. Palin has helped most in states like Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan, which all looked like easy marks for Obama just 3 months ago. Before you attack these undecided voters for being simpletons, keep in mind that people generally vote for the person who sounds most like them. I'm not saying it makes good sense, but it is just the way it is.
I do believe that the Palin factor will start to be a problem for McCain over the next month, as she will be put under a much bigger spotlight. She is obviously in way over her head. She has an odd charisma, but no matter how pretty she is, I expect that enough undecided voters will see that she is unqualified.
The video I have posted below definitely has a specific editorial tone to it, but you can't put chapstick on this sow and try to make it go away. During my childhood, I attended a few Assembly of God services and let me tell you, that church is completely loony. To think she belonged to this nutty Christian sect is bad enough, but for her to let this Thomas Muthee involve her in this insanity is way beyond anything Obama did sitting and listening to Reverend Wright speak. Muthee reminds me of a family member Lisa Bonet would have had in Angel Heart. This is something you should see.
3-Star Football Picks 6-2 This Season
Overall college picks are 6-3, NFL picks are 6-4, while my top picks are 6-2. Let's see what this week brings.
Mississippi (+23) Florida
Alabama (+7) Georgia
North Carolina (+7.5) Miami
Michigan St. (-8) Indiana
3-star Virginia Tech (+7) Nebraska
3-star Ohio St. (-18) Minnesota
Arkansas (+28) Texas
My favorite college rule is to take a top-notch coach who is getting points. See the first 3 picks and add VT and Arkansas to that list. The 2 big ten games feature favorites who should be getting a TD against the spread.
3-star Washington (+11.5) Dallas
KC (+9) Denver
San Francisco (+6.5) New Orleans
Green Bay (+2) Tampa Bay
With bye weeks and a couple games off the board, a more limited slate to choose from. I picked the Cowboys to win the Super Bowl, but they are coming off of 2 big National TV games in a row, so the scrappy Skins keep it under 10. The Broncos have been extremely lucky, as their defense is really bad. The 49ers are better than I thought they'd be, as Martz has the offense moving the ball. The Packers are better than they showed Sunday night.
These are tentative playoff rotations, pending a LOT of things. Just based on conversations from today and a lot of play in there. More for entertainment value and discussion than anything else.
Tampa vs Chicago (Minnesota)
G1: Kazmir vs Buehrle (Blackburn)
Los Angeles vs Boston
G1: Lackey vs Matsuzaka
Chicago vs New York
G1: Harden vs Perez
Philly vs Los Angeles
G1: Lowe vs Hamels
You killed Edita! I will not forgive ...
A Closer Look at PECOTA Predictions
The best prediction of 2008 was PECOTA's offering that the Devil Rays would win 90 games. I thought it was crazy and I was way off picking them to win just 75. Let's look at PECOTA and see how they did on the rest of the AL.
Outside of the amazing selection of the Rays winning 90, it hasn't been such a good year for the prediction system. The Yankees win 96 and win the East by 5 games. It is hard to fault anyone for going with the Indians to win the Central, but the notion that the Tigers would win 90 games with that bullpen never made any sense to me. The statistical system still is having a hard time measuring how the Angels can already have won 94 games with 9 left to play.
My SWOBODA system had these records before the season.
Los Angeles 89
If you look at the overall numbers for each team, there is not much difference in the systems. Once again, Nate Silver put his neck out there with his Rays number and his system should be congratulated. Let's just have some perspective on the bigger picture.
Oh and for all of you that slammed me for being too optimistic about the White Sox and too pessimistic about the Tigers, I apologize for not being more in the extreme on both of them.
It is now official: The United States is the greatest empire in World History. Here is why we can finally claim it.
In 2000, our nation was feeling so good about itself that we decided to try the ultimate experiment. We elected a guy who had been a failure at pretty much everything he had done in his life. Here is the guy's resume we chose.
* It should be noted that his time in National Guard was a success in keeping him out of Vietmam.
** He did manage to sign the execution papers for more people than any other Governor has done in Texas history. (1 every nine days)
Has there ever been a person in this country's history who has held so many positions he was ill-suited to do? I can't think of one. Since he has been President, I can't name one thing he has done that made the country better. I have always thought his best moment was after 9/11 when he used a bullhorn at Ground Zero. I'm surprised he didn't use one at all times after that, because the sound a bullhorn makes works well with his speech pattern causing him to sound less like a dumbass.
So here we are on the brink of a financial collapse, stuck in a war with no end, and with the same exploding entitlement issues he inherited not even been touched. Yes, things don't look good, but we are still standing. Maybe not as tall and as proud, but we are still upright. We installed the worst 2-term President in our history and we are still around. This just speaks to how great our Nation is. And if you disagree with me, well you are not a Patriot.
A friend sent me a transcript that I found interesting. Check it out.
Football Picks, Plus 2 Bloggers on 1 Radio Show
Alabama (-9.5) Arkansas
Tennessee (+7.5) Florida
(3-star) Ball State (+3.5) Indiana
Buffalo (+34) Missouri
(3-star) KC (+5.5) Atlanta
Oakland (+9.5) Buffalo
(3-star) Minnesota (-3) Carolina
(3-star) Cincy (+13.5) NY Giants
Green Bay (+3) Dallas
NY Jets (+9) San Diego
Last week was my first selections of the year. I went 3-2 in colleges, 3-1 in the NFL, with my 3-star selections 3-1. We are playing with the house's money!!
This week is all about the dogs. America's top columnist, Jason Whitlock, discussed earlier in the year that his alma mater, Ball State, just might finish undefeated. This is one of their 2 toughest tests. This is the type of game where the Vols play to their potential. Mizzou is a bit out in front of itself, though it probably is the closest thing the state has to a NFL-quality team.
Hard for me to see where a team like the Falcons, who have a rookie coach and qb can be a 5.5 point favorite over anyone. I had the Bills as my surprise team at the start of the year, but I think the Raiders will stay within a TD, as Buffalo has a letdown week. The Vikings are better than they have shown, where the Panthers are the opposite. Just think 10 months ago of how crazy a 13 point spread would appear with the Giants over the Bengals. The NFC East isn't as good as it is being touted, as all the teams have pass defense weaknesses. Dallas will be a bit flat, after an Eagles win on short rest. The Chargers should be 2-0, but I don't like Coach Norv and the LT injury issues has me on Farve to make it another close game for San Diego.
I can't think of a sports radio show that I enjoy more than doing the Power Trip morning show on KFAN in the Twin Cities. During my time on the show today, Aaron Gleeman came in studio to do a segment on the Twins. He decided to throw me under the bus from the beginning, sharing that I'm a White Sox fan, which I doubt will help my ticket sales. The show is the kind of circus I like to be part of and Gleester was good when he could get a word in with my constant blathering.
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Things I Want
I'm a man of certain skills. There are a lot of things I want, but have no idea how to do them, so I'm just tossing 'em out there. If you know of something that does this, let me (and everyone know). If you start a business and make a million bucks, buy me dinner. Here's my list:
2. AMERICAN IDOLECTION
3. MLB AT BAT ON DESKTOP
4. SOMEONE TO EXPLAIN THOSE MICROSOFT ADS
6. A SNIPER. JEFFREY ROSS.
7. A SPONSOR TO TAKE OVER FROM AIG.
9. ALTERNATE BROADCAST
10. CHARLIE MUSSELWHITE TO GET HIS DUE
Battle Rhymes. Seconded.
Hilarious, via Belth, via Stein.
Two Quick Reviews
Kings of Leon opened for U2 on part of the Elevation Tour and it was a headscratcher to me. I get it now.
Their new album, "Only By The Night", is what U2 would sound like if they grew up in Tennessee instead of Dublin. The Followill boys fourth album is the equivalent of "War" if you compare canons and it's very apt comparison. The band is clearly growing, coming back from a 'down' album that will likely be looked at as consolidation with history's distance. It has the radio friendly tunes, if such a thing exists, and anthems, if you can sing along to a song called "Sex On Fire."
The songs never seem to ebb, mixing southern rock by way of The Black Crowes with Stax style vocals and yet, underneath it all, there's something that seems more than just the sum of its influences. It ends up like a mint julep without quite enough sugar and some grit in it. It's not perfect, it kicks a little bit more than you expected, but you're going to drink it and smile.
By the time the drums stop thumping on "Be Somebody," you'll realize that we have yet another contender for album of the year.
The Coens say that "Burn After Reading" completes their "idiot trilogy," a series of movies with George Clooney that includes the transcendant "O Brother Where Art Thou?" and "Intolerable Cruelty." If it completes a trilogy, we can only hope it doesn't end their work with Clooney. Until "O Brother," I never got Clooney. I didn't understand what women saw in him or what casting directors did either, but then, I did. He's not Cary Grant, as many want to see him, but he might end up as Jack Lemmon, which is pretty damn good in its own way.
Clooney's idiocy is a bit different here, a fragile sort of swagger that breaks quickly, becoming the "instinct, muscle memory" that he speaks of in a far different context. He's only one of the broken characters here that are hit dead on. The Coens wrote the script for the specific actors and it shows. Frances McDormand is, as always, spot on, while John Malkovich is typically Malkovich, able to be subtle and self-parody all at once. What actor could survive "Being John Malkovich" intact besides him? His character reminded me of what Basie may have become after the war. Brad Pitt is great too, waving his arms with something just shy of the manic power he had in "12 Monkeys."
It's not an Oscar film. It's a farce at heart, but one with enough substance that when all the thousand threads come together at the end, you'll be shocked that the credits are beginning and the lights are coming up.
Football Picks are Back
Arizona (-10) New Mexico
The new staff at UCLA is one of the best in college football, where BYU is a bit overrated.
Tennessee (+1.5) Cincinnati
Could the Titans actually be better with Collins at this point?
If not listed the game is a 2-star selection.
Actual Baseball Thoughts
It is amazing to me how little discussion there has been of how testing for amphetamines has impacted the game. The MSM constantly slammed away at steroids, but no discussion is afforded to a drug that has been part of the baseball culture for the past 5 decades. It would seem obvious that the lack of greenies would be part of the equation in why there are such wide disparities in home/away records. It is not something that is easy to prove, but I don't see where not having steroids or HGH would make much of a difference on this topic, while uppers would seem to help you get through those tough road trips.
Once again the National League wildcard chase has teams that looked helplessly out of it making runs at the top. Are teams in the NL going to have to be 15 or more games out of the wild card chase at the trading deadline to not give up on the season.
You know I love the Dodger posters here, but many of you were touting the NL West at the beginning of the year as being really good and a couple I can recall even mentioned it being the best division in baseball. The NL West was 27-54 against the AL this year. It is 77-89 against the NL East. It is 82-101 against the NL Central. The Dodgers have always been my favorite NL team, so I'm rooting for them to make the series, but really, the division has been bad for a long time and it is time to get some answers, isn't it?
Here is one positive sign for the NL. I think the AL teams are coming in as a weaker crew than they have in quite some time. The Red Sox, Devil Rays, and White Sox are limping into the playoffs. If they don't lose their spark, the Angels look to be the definitive favorites, unlike last year when they were the most beaten up team coming into the playoffs. Everyone in the playoffs should be happy that they don't have to face the Blue Jays. Their starting pitching and bullpen has been lethal the past month.
The biggest series left on the schedule is when the White Sox go to the Metrodome to face the Twins between Sept. 23-25. Like most teams, Chicago struggles there, so if the Twins can stay within a game, I suspect they will come out of that series tied or in the lead. Currently, both teams have the same record of 49-26 at home. They are both built for their home parks, as the White Sox lead baseball with 210 homers (Philly is second with 192), while the Twins are only ahead of the Royals in AL dingers with 101. Even with this major disparity in homers, the Twins have scored 10 more runs in 2008 than the White Sox. Minnesota's average with runners in scoring position is crazy, which is .311. The White Sox are a very respectable 6th in this category, but are still .33 points behind the Twinkies.
Time For Other Countries To Keep Their Pie-Holes Shut
I have been embarrassed by the reign of King George since he was elected in 2000. When people from other countries wondered how America could choose such an incompetent leader, my only response was that his Democratic challengers either weren't so great themselves (Kerry) or ran very flawed campaigns against him (Gore). I am not one to give the general populace a ton of credit, but I do think that the Democratic party has been run by a lot of elites who are tone deaf to many Americans. Bill Clinton came from Arkansas and had campaign advisers like Begala (Texas) and Carville (Louisiana) who were not Washington insiders. They had good instincts on what the average voter connected with. As his world tour demonstrated, Obama is extremely popular around the globe and I can just imagine the insults that will be thrown the United States' way, if he is not chosen. This is hypocritical.
If someone doesn't vote for Obama, the issue of racism will come up. That is unfair. It is a reasonable question to ask if Barack Obama has the experience to lead this country. His resume is great for a person of his age, but it fails in comparison to everyone he ran against in the Democratic primary and now that he is up against McCain. I am not surprised that he has started to falter in his campaign, as this is the first time he has ever really gotten any serious heat. When he won his senate race, he ran practically unopposed, as the Republican threw in the whackjob candidacy of Allen Keyes, after their initial primary winner had messy divorce details wreck his political career. Despite how some portrayed it, the other Democratic presidential candidate's (including Hillary) treated him with kid gloves, as the most damaging word that can be used at a Democratic candidate is racist.
Going into this election cycle, Obama seemed like a dynamite Vice Presidential candidate, preparing himself to take over the top spot the next time it came around in 2012 or 2016. He obviously made the right decision, because he won, but it reminds me of a college basketball star who leaves early, ends up being a lottery pick, but doesn't have the career he could have had because he needed a little more seasoning. Considering the dismal polling that President Bush has, Obama should be doing much better, but he is still a mystery to a lot of people. Like them or not, people knew what the Clinton's were all about and they had been through enough tough political races that they would have spent little time on the defensive, unlike Obama, who doesn't have good street fighter instincts. As McCain mentioned last night at the Forum both candidates attended, politics is a tough game.
Now I'm not naive enough to think that race won't play a factor in the election. On Obama's side, he has pretty much locked up all Black voters. While Blacks vote in strong numbers for whoever the Democratic candidate is, this election will break all records for Black turnout. Is this a racist occurrence? I'm not saying it is, but I do think it could qualify under some people's version of the definition. In regards to white voters, there will be some who will not vote for him because he is Black. I doubt many of these same voters would have supported Hillary, but there is a group of voters who would have went with HRC that you can't classify as strictly racist just because they won't pull the lever for Obama. Many Americans have little or no experience dealing with Black people. When you have never had a friend, let alone a boss who was a person of color, it isn't surprising that they might vote for the guy (McCain) that they feel like they know. Is this a racist occurrence? I'm not saying it is, but I think under some people's version of the definition. In this particular election, the issue of race takes on a whole new dynamic and it is a tricky one to define.
Now here is where I come to the countries that are mainly made up of Anglo-Saxon's. You know the one's who will judge us harshly if McCain wins. How many people of color have they ever elected to their top job? How many people of color have they had even represent one of their major parties. I can't think of one person of color who fits this description in the history of France, England, Germany, Australia, Canada, etc..... Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I think this is the case. If Obama loses, it will be hypocritical for foreign citizens to sling arrows our way. Having Barack Obama reach this level is a major achievement and says something about how enlightened our nation is, considering that only 13 percent of the US is Black. I am deeply concerned about the anger and despair many Black Americans will feel if Obama loses. I will have some understanding of this feeling, considering the racism that many of these citizens have felt on a personal level. What I won't have any patience for is someone from another country leveling this charge at the US.
So now let us all hold hands and sing we are the world.
Not the Most Important Election
I was watching Bob Schieffer on Charlie Rose. I have always found him a thoughtful, classy observer of politics, which is something that is in short supply in the media world we live in. Schieffer spoke to how he believes both candidates are quality men who he would feel comfortable with as President. I know this won't be a particularly popular sentiment here, but I feel the same way. I did not feel that way in the 2000 campaign, as I felt Bush was intellectually lacking and I didn't recognize who Gore was much of the time. In 2004, I knew that Bush was intellectually lacking (to say the least) and Kerry never seemed Presidential to me. I realize that both candidates have great policy differences and I'm aware that they would take the country in very different places, but I am comfortable that both will be a much better President than the idiot we have had in the job for the past 8 years.
Now I know this statement will create derision from the partisans that believe only their side is correct and I understand it because I felt the same way about Reagan and Dubya. I like McCain and Obama on a personal level and I have great respect for their personal backgrounds, which I think will inform their decisions in a positive manner. Sure McCain used his daddy"s and grandfather's name to sail through Annapolis, but the experience he went through as a prisoner of war is what informs his life more than anything. I don't believe that being a prisoner of war is an automatic qualification for being leader of the free world, but McCain has went against his party enough and has many personal connections with Democratic senators that he could get some important legislation done. Obama is a much bigger unknown, but he has the greatest potential of transforming the world that any President has ever possessed coming into the job. His life is one that is unique on many levels and I believe gives him great insight into parts of society that are rarely represented by this country.
Neither are perfect men. Hey, there are very few of us. I know that the most strident on each side will make you believe that this is the most important election of all-time. It isn't. In hindsight that happened in 2000, as a Bush presidency has been an abject failure on so many levels. The demonization of both men running I believe is unwarranted on most levels this time around. Be passionate about who you support, but keep in mind that we will better off whoever we choose. At least this is the way I look at it.
Allow Me To Reintroduce Myself
John Mayer said, in introducing his song Gravity, that "this is the song that changed my life. I'm not even sure how yet." It might seem a bit flip, even precious, but it's provocative.
Merlin Mann wrote this essay, Better. He nailed it.
I'm working on my own version. I have no idea what it will turn out to be, but I'm feeling it bubbling under the surface. I think I have been ignoring it for too long. Maybe the voice is back.
But my last post reminded me what I don't want to do. I've noticed that I'm learning more in the negative, which is pushing me to the positive. The way is becoming clearer, or maybe I'm just looking again, differently.
This blog has always been a narcissistic tool of catharsis for a man rightly accused of arrogance, logorrhea, and incivility. I can write without caring a damn what you think and then check the comments without the slightest sense of hypocrisy. It's not changing, though you can expect a lot of change. "Love me or leave me alone." It's an off switch, a block button, a spam filter, and a world apart, so if you don't like it, well ... start your own blog and beat me at my game.
John Mayer plays, below:
Three Pack of Things You Don't Want To Hear
I have taken to saying to negative commenters that they should "get in the ring." Nothing like quoting the Buddha ... I mean, Axl Rose when it comes to haters. While I will admit that I don't shy away from physical confrontation, what I mean by my new catchphrase is two things. First, if you're going to criticize me, have the balls to do it in person. The haters never show up at pizza feeds or events, never use their real names, and won't back up their arguments. Specious things like "you're arrogant" (Yes, thanks for noticing) or "you won't admit you're wrong" (are you kidding? Sadly, I do it more often than my arrogance would like!) or "you're not a doctor" (no, I'm not and go out of my way to say so) just push my buttons. Second, if you're going to criticize me and say I don't do my job well, you have two choices -- stop reading me or do it better yourself. You're free to do the first and no one has yet done the latter. I'm just glad the haters are reading. I'll keep cashing the checks from the ad impressions.
This is why he'll lose:
The best team in baseball eschews sabermetric thought, hired an unknown - even in baseball - scouting director to run the team, and is as nonchalant about winning as their fanbase, even with high strung guys brought in to change the mood. The Angels are going to yawn their way into the playoffs and confound everyone with an approach that's ... gasp, the late 90's Yankees, spending and swinging. This year's playoffs might have a storyline of the old BS stats vs scouts with an evenly divided set of teams. (I think the more compelling line will be the huge financial disparities between LA, both Chicagos and Boston and the Tampa/Milwaukee (maybe Minnesota) approach of build from within.)
I didn't get a chance to post my predictions before Sunday, but take my word, this is how I saw the season before it kicked off.
This is the most-improved division in football. The Pats are not as good as they have been, as age will start to catch up with them. The Bills are my surprise team, as they are a ball-control team with one of the top running backs in the league in Lynch. Farve makes the Jets better, especially with the improved offensive line. Even the Dolphins will make strides, but won't show that much in the record department, as the Bills and Jets have made big strides.
Not a big difference between 1 and 4 in the NFL's best division. The Jags are slightly better, but it is hard to bet against Manning. Fisher is the best coach in the NFL and he will continue to get more out of his team than expected. The Texans are as good as any team in the AFC North, but suffer from having to play 6 monster intra-divisonal games.
I wouldn't be surprised if 9-7 will win the North. I will take the experience of Big Ben to help them slide by Baltimore. The Browns were kind of fluky in 2007 and the Bengals are just a mess.
Losing Merriman (it would appear) keeps me from picking the Bolts for the Super Bowl. The Broncos will continue to be what they have become since Elway left, a 7 to 9 win team. The Raiders are actually getting better, as Kiffin seems to have a clue. The Chiefs are pretty bad, but they did have a great draft.
The Cowboys are the only complete team in the NFC. Not much difference between the Eagles and Giants. The Redskins won't be as lucky as they were last year.
I like the Saints as long as Deuce is healthy, as he gives the team a ball-control element that helps their shaky defense. Tampa will be right there, as long as Jeff Garcia stays healthy, which won't happen enough to surpass the Saints. I'm not sure what is happening with the Panthers, but they need Julius Peppers to play like best lineman in the league, like he appeared he was on his way to becoming. The Falcons made a great move picking up Michael Turner, but Ryan will be up and down during his rookie year.
I don't get the Vikings. They have a championship quality roster, except at quarterback where they are going with a major queston mark in Tavaris Jackson. The Packers are right there, but I worry about what happens if Aaron Rodgers loses confidence or even worse, gets hurt. (rookie backup). The Bears are better off with Orton, as he won't lose the game. The Lions should throw the ball as well anyone, but their defense is way behind the other 3 in this division.
I think the only team with a winning record will be Arizona. I actually think they will win the division by 3 games, as Warner will have a monster year. The Rams will be a lot better, as everything went wrong for them in 2007.
AFC Wild Cards
NFC Wild Cards
Jags versus Cowboys
I've never wanted to be Buzz Bissinger or like him, but damn, I've always wished I could write like the man. In this case, he's exactly right.
Palate Cleanser (Video Edition)
Since the Palate Cleanser worked so well -- and special thanks to those of you that played along -- I decided to do a video version. I can pretend to be Alan Hunter ... no, wait, he was an asshole ... pretend to be Mark Goodman for a minute. YouTube continues to astonish and astound, so I'm going to go stream-of-consciousness videos here. I don't think you can embed videos in comments, but I'm sure you can post links.
See you in KeepReadingville ...
Stewart On Fire
I, unlike most people in my demographic, don't watch the Daily Show. I like Jon Stewart, but it's just never been something I make an effort to watch. I like it when I do, but ... hey, there's no good explanation.
But when he's on, he's ON:
Fair and balanced? No. Partisan? No. It's just freakin' funny and sad, all at once. That it takes a comedian on a comedy channel doing this is the really sad part. Why couldn't Brian Williams - a funny guy himself - do a segment on the Nightly News where he does the same thing, pointing out the hypocrisy on all sides? Katie Couric is bad for the anchor slot, but this kind of giggling turn might be something she could make a centerpiece for herself. Same for Charlie Gibson, who's experience on GMA would serve to lighten things up.
But no, the network newscasts won't and Jon Stewart will get laughs, but won't get heard outside his demographic. Liars will keep lying, pundits will keep saying whatever is doing well with focus groups, not what is true, and politics will stay politics as usual.
I've also noted that during the RNC -- and with Fox News' tag of "Restoring Honor and Dignity to the White House" -- that the Republicans are trying to throw W under the bus without ever saying his name or acknowledging that he's one of them. Mitt Romney going even harder right in his convention, setting himself up for 2012, was one of the WTF moments of this whole campaign for me. He's just not likeable or believable in the way that Sarah Palin came off or in the way that Mike Huckabee does without trying. With Bush's presidency now an acknowledged failure and pictures of McCain and Bush together used as political tar, isn't this dodge by the Republicans actually adding fuel to the fire?
Enough political stuff for a while. We'll be inundated with it, I'm sure, but while we'll have fun with it, don't expect much serious discussion of it. It's not going to happen. Go to FiveThirtyEight.com if you want that.
At meals, you'll often get a sorbet in between courses to cleanse the palate. At least I'm told you do. I've never had that happen at any restaurant, but I need the metaphor. We're going to try something today that ... honestly I can't remember who did this and it's not a brilliant idea, but it's fun, participatory, and easy. Everyone should participate.
Set up iTunes or whatever music player of choice is there. It can even be your iPod, Zune or whatever thing Scott has that plays MP3s. Put it on shuffle and tell everyone about the next ten songs that play. No cheating, no skipping, just ten songs at random.
Mine, after the fold ...
I promise, my next post will not be political, but sometimes this stuff just writes itself.
Societal Critic at Large: Scott Long
About the Toaster
Baseball Toaster was unplugged on February 4, 2009.
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