Baseball Toaster The Juice Blog
Monthly archives: October 2008


One Out of My Last 12 College Selections Right...
2008-10-31 18:19
by Scott Long

...but I still have a winning overall record. I am freaking amazing! Well, let's see what kind of wild streak I will go on this week.


(3-star) Northwestern (+7.5) Minnesota
Michigan St. (-6.5) Wisconsin
Auburn (+6.5) Mississippi
Colorado (+3.5) Texas A&M
Wake Forest (-8) Duke
4-star Arizona St. (+15.5) Oregon St.

I keep going against the Gophers, but then I've been against the Cats as well all year, so we will see if I got on the wrong team. The only other one I will discuss is my Pac-10 Game of the Year. The team from Tempe has been one of the big disappointments of 2008. Their talent level should make this an even game, and while I like Riley a lot, I suspect the game will go down to the wire. Hey, but what do I know, in 2 weeks I've went from having an overall record of 21-9 to 22-20.


Dallas (+9) NY Giants
Indy/New England (under 44)

I HATE this week's NFL games.

2008-10-29 12:32
by Will Carroll

I can't wait to do our annual Top Ten albums list this year. I could probably do twenty, where last year, I could barely do ten and had to stretch to find ten *great* albums. Even better, I think I've found more good music this year as the paradigm shifted somewhere along the way. I can't quite put my finger on it, but things like, iTunes' Genius function, and social networks have given us ways to find new music where radio has failed. With a couple albums left to drop that could squeeze their way in if they're not massive disappointments like the new Snow Patrol, really good albums like Coldplay's "Viva La Vida" are likely to be on the outside looking in.

I'm still in the early stages of listening to Glasvegas' eponymous debut, but I can't imagine in not being on the list. Yes, they're overhyped in Britain, but in the US, they're as likely to be Robbie Williams as they are Oasis. Listening to the album, from the glistening and heartbreaking opener to the end track, it's a giant bundle of influences, as if everything in their music collection spilled onto the vinyl. (Yes, this album just feels like vinyl.)

Right off the bat, there's an Oasis feel in their pop songs. There's also a retro, Phil Spector vibe to the ringing guitars and girl-group pop-candy vocals. There's an obvious Jesus and Mary Chain feel that some have called "Proclaimers with a delay pedal"; I'll be a bit kinder. There's echoes of anthemic early U2, influences of angst-driven early Clash, and then a whole section of Glaswegian narrative that you'll need a Wikipedia page and a translator to get inside.

James Allan's accented vocals are a love or hate proposition and the reverbed guitars you haven't heard since early My Morning Jacket or late Phil Spector are the same. And yes, the hype around the band is as big and bad as any since Take That. The thing is here, the influences and hype don't really matter when they get it right. When Allan soars into the hook of "Daddy's Gone", when the guitar kicks in on "It's My Own Cheating Heart ..", and when you find yourself singing along with "Go Square Go", all that doesn't matter. It's just simply a stunning debut that can't be ignored.

It's as likely to be noticed in the US as The Libertines, but in Friedman's flat world, who cares about borders? Great music is great music and in the niches that Facebook defines, merit trumps sales out on the long tail, right?

Just Wow
2008-10-28 23:46
by Will Carroll

Get Your I Survived George W. Bush T-Shirts
2008-10-27 19:04
by Scott Long

Even John McCain is saying that he's no Dubya, so the one thing that we can all agree on is that Bush has done his damndest to wreck this great country. What better way to demonstrate your Patriotic nature than with this new Scott Long t-shirt creation. Wear it to the polls on November 4th. Remember it does make a great Xmas Present. Just $15 dollars (plus $4 S&H). Operators are Standing By Now!

                 (FRONT)                                       (BACK)



One Book, One Album
2008-10-27 16:04
by Will Carroll

I was discussing Alan Greenspan with a friend and she was unaware of his connection with Ayn Rand. In fact, she wasn't aware of objectivism and hadn't read any of Rand's work. It stunned me, since she's smart and well-read. So it got me thinking ... what's the one book and one album people *have* to have read and heard to be culturally aware?

For me, the book is "The Great Gatsby" by Fitzgerald for it's style, theme and it's comment on American society that still holds true. The album would be "Pet Sounds" by the Beach Boys. Without it, the Beatles wouldn't have done Sgt Pepper and groups as varied as Van Halen wouldn't have the same sound.

Yours? Put it in comments.

A Humbled Man Gives His Picks
2008-10-24 22:53
by Scott Long

Just a week ago, everything was going well on the betting front.  21-9 overall in the colleges.  Then came last Saturday, when I went 0-6.  Hey, but I'm still 21-15, so that isn't so bad, right?


Purdue (+2) Minnesota

Kansas (-1) Texas Tech

N.C. State (+12) Maryland

Virgina Tech (+5.5) Florida St.

Colorado (+24.5) Missouri

4-star Tennesse (+7) Alabama

I've lost a lot of games on the Boilers this season, but I just don't believe in the Gophers.  The Red Raiders have played no one and this week the Jayhawks change their path.  Maryland will be flat.  I love Beamer versus Bowden getting points.   I will take the Buffs getting over 24.  In my SEC game of the year, I will take talent getting points at home, even though it might be the biggest coaching mismatch of the week.  I am actually going with Fullmer versus Saban and making it a 4-star game.  Stupid like a Fox.


Philly (-8.5) Atlanta

New England (-7) St. Louis

(3 star) Buffalo (-1.5) Miami

(3 star) San Diego (-3) New Orleans

I was a respectable 2-2 in the NFL last week.  I like the Jim Johnson blitz package against a rookie QB, so take the Eagles to cover.  The Patriots are bound for a letdown, but I think the Rams will have a bigger one.  The Bills were my surprise team at the beginning of the year and I will ride them in Miami.  The Chargers are a much better team than they have shown, while  New Orleans is starting to crack, as injuries and a lack of a solid defense is starting to overcome even Drew Brees' efforts.

Yeah, That's My County
2008-10-23 22:37
by Will Carroll

The county I live in has no Democrats running for office this year. Not one.

Even better, the woman mentioned in this article? She's the one that checked my ID when I did early voting and gave me a look when I took a camera phone picture to verify my E-Vote.

A "joke"? Not to me, it's not. I bet it's not to this lady either.

I don't care who you vote for. Actually, I do, but I'll defend your right to choose, so please, just vote.

iPhone, A Year Out
2008-10-22 11:14
by Will Carroll

It's actually been more than a year since I stood in line outside an AT&T store, expecting a shortage that never came. The iPhone was everything I expected and more, but does it hold up? As Apple reports that it's sold 10 million of the buggers, does that make them less cool?

Answer: Yes and no.

The iPhone is one of the things that after you use it, you wonder how you lived without it. My first phone, a Qualcomm model from Sprint that I got in 1999, was marketed as "thin" -- it was about double the thickness of the iPhone. It had nascent web access and honestly it was usable for me, since I was using a text-based web (anyone else remember Lynx?) as late as 1996. Still, it made me realize that I'd been missing something. Today, I can't imagine not having a phone, as it's been added to the "keys, wallet" check I make every time I walk out of the house.

What the iPhone did was make it so I could very literally ask the question "Do I need to take the laptop?" I dont use my laptop in the car. I don't take a laptop to dinner. Even with the emerging 'netbook' class of computers, the iPhone is still the perfect device. The other night, I was at a play (Avenue Q) and could check the score of the Rays-Sox game. Waiting before the show, I played Scrabble and read FiveThirtyEight.

As with other Apple products, it "just works." I've had no real problems and the one I did - it was locking up - was fixed with a restore. The battery life is tolerable, especially after the 2.1 update. Yeah, the battery life got better with a software update. I am buying an external battery, but I could live without it.

I see more and more on the street and I can't imagine why anyone would buy a regular phone. Yes, there's the keyboard issue and if it's that make or break, I understand why people would use Blackberry. Having used Windows Mobile, I have no idea why anyone with a choice would use it. It's worse than regular Windows. Still, Blackberry is moving to the touchscreen, though I think the Android G1 probably is the better solution. One thing I noticed was that I literally can't remember the last time I dialed the phone. I don't know what that says about me, but it's never really been an issue.

It works as a phone, an iPod replacement, a video device, a game playing machine, a laptop alternative, a decent enough camera, a recorder, and a GPS. I don't care if it's cool anymore; it's part of life for me now.

2008-10-21 08:30
by Will Carroll

We talk about music more than baseball here at The Juice, so when we find a new album we love, we usually talk about it. Instead, I'm going to tell you about a new web service at that looks to be the online iTunes. It's more fun to explore and find all the features, but here's the key ones:

* Buy mp3's online for 89 cents each, with no DRM.

* Listen to new songs by streaming them. The first stream is free for music discovery, the next streams are 10 cents, which can be applied if you buy the tune. You can also buy "web albums" which are essentially eternal streams.

* Listen to your collection of music from your browser, from anywhere.

* An easy to use uploader for your current music collection.

* Social matching, based on your friends' music.

So far, everything on the service "just works." It's a lot like the old in ways, combined with Supposedly Lala has legal arrangements with the necessary parties, so it shouldn't suffer the fate of others. This is just another one of the services that has me really worried about Comcast's bandwidth caps. Check it out and "friend" me if you like it.

Thank You, Stu
2008-10-19 21:04
by Will Carroll

I've followed the Rays for a couple years now. It started because I really liked watching Carl Crawford play, but grew when two BPers shifted to their front office (It's now at three.) Over the last two years, I've travelled down several times to do events or just watch some ball.

And I became a fan.

I like the park. I like the people. I like the team. I like the Rays.

After several years of being beaten down by a team I grew up with, I lost that passion. I didn't feel anything when they won and worse, I didn't feel anything when they lost. If you could have seen me on the couch during the Rays-Sox series, you would have seen that I felt a lot. And cursed a lot. And cheered.

Yeah, I cheered.

Forget the objectivity and remember the passion. This 2008 Rays team will be remembered for a lot of things, but the one thing I'll remember? They gave me my fan back. Call me bandwagon if you want, but in 2006, I was driving that bandwagon.

Congratulations Rays - 2008 AL Champs. Thank you, Stu, Andrew, Matt, Chaim, James, David, Dave, Scott, Matt, Carl, and everyone else with the Rays.

DId I Mention that My College Picks are 21-9
2008-10-16 19:43
by Scott Long

So last week I continued my mastery of the colleges with a 5-1 week, including hitting my first 4-star play with Michigan State, who covered by 16.  In the pro's I went 3-2, but did lose my first pro 4-star play. (Houston won, but just missed the spread number)  For the year I'm 10-6 on Top Plays.


3-star Purdue (+4) Northwestern

Georgia (-14.5) Vandy

Baylor (+17.5) Oklahoma St.

North Carolina (-4.5) Virginia

Colorado (-3.5) K-State

4-star Missouri (+4.5) Texas

As I mentioned last week, the Wildcats have been lucky and I suspect Purdue will come out with an outright win.  Before the season this was set to be a more than 4 TD spread, so I will take the much superior talent of Georgia.  The Big 12 has 2 games that are impacted because of last week.  The Cowboys upset Mizzou last week and have Texas on tap next week.  Can you say trap?  Texas won their game of the year, while Mizzou stumbled.  This week we see why Daniels is better than McCoy, as the Tigers win outright in my Big 12 Game of the Year.  Colorado is a more disciplined team.  In a case of an excellent coach versus a bad one, take Butch Davis over Al Groh.


NY Giants (-10) San Francisco

Kansas City (+9) Tennessee

Dalllas (-7) St. Louis

3-star New England (-3) Denver

Not a big fan of taking a team off a Monday Night game, but Coughlin should have his guy's focused after getting embarassed last week.  The Chiefs are miserable, but they do have a huge home field and the Titans are good, but not this much better on the road.  The Cowboys have lots of problems, but the Rams have many more.  As bad as the Pats have looked at times during this season, with a win here and a Bills loss, they could be tied for first.  I will always take Belichek over Shanahan, if given the chance. 

College Picks are 16-8. Top Picks are 8-4. First 4 Star Selections of the Season.
2008-10-11 07:40
by Scott Long


Iowa (-5.5) Indiana

Nebraska (+21.5) Texas Tech

4-star Michigan St. (-1) Northwestern

Arizona St. (+28.5) USC

Stanford (+7) Arizona

Wisconsin (+6) Penn State

Iowa is better than their record, while Indiana is not.  I think the Red Raiders haven't been really tested so far.  My first 4-star is the Big Ten Selection of the year.  The Spartans are right behind the Buckeyes, in a tier with Penn State and Wisconsin, while the Wildcats have been a great story, but I can't see where it will continue this week.  Michigan State wins by 17.  This is the Sun Devils chance at regaining some of their pre-season hype.  They keep it under 4 TD's.  The last 2 are home dogs, which is my favorite type of play.  Harbaugh and Bielema are 2 of the best young coaches in the country.


Tampa Bay (-1) Carolina

4-star Houston (-2.5) Miami

3-star Chicago (-2.5) Atlanta

3-star Indy (-3.5) Baltimore

Jacksonville (+3.5) Denver

I expect this will be the best slate of games to wager on during the NFL season.  The Bucs defense will shut down the Panthers running game.  I have no idea if I will even have another 4-star pro game in 2008, but Houston is a great play this week.  The Texans are much better than their record, while the gimmicky Dolphins are fun to watch, but they aren't a team who will have a winning record when they leave Houston.  Another team I can't see with a winning record is the Falcons, especially after the Bears defense blitzes rookie QB Ryan into mistakes.  The Colts are starting to get more healthy and while the Ravens have looked good, I like the Manning/Flacco match-up to be the major swing in the Colts winning by double digits.  The Jags are another team starting to get a bit more healthy, while the Broncos defense is terrrible. 

Baseball! Comedy!
2008-10-09 10:36
by Will Carroll

Two things you'd expect to find on this site now finally are!

Check this link for some comedy, some baseball, and yes, some politics. You'll see a great Daily Show clip and Nate Silver's appearance on The Colbert Report. (Obama, a White Sox fan, is not going to be happy that his future Treasury Secretary just compared him to the team that knocked the Sox out of the playoffs.)

Filling The Cabinet
2008-10-08 08:02
by Will Carroll

I've started thinking about who might fill the Obama Cabinet. There's going to be a lot of discussion about this in coming days, as Obama's lead solidifies I thought Obama missed an opportunity to win the question last night about who would be his Treasury Secretary by not having a ready answer. Warren Buffett? I don't think so. Who do I think? Let's go down the list:


It may not be highest on the succession list, but Tom Brokaw had it right that it's now the most powerful position. Henry Paulson gets much of his Wall Street cred from being the former boss of Goldman Sachs. Corzine was once CEO of GS, but was pushed out during a crisis (LTCM). That works against him some, but his success as Senator and as a popular Governor in New Jersey will help. Other candidates are former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers and NY Fed Chair Tim Geithner, though I'd like to see Mike Bloomberg here. If you want a long shot, how about Ben Bernanke, shifting him upstairs and moving Geithner into the Fed Chair.


A black woman? Named Rice? Yes, but she's nothing like Condi. This Rice is a former Asst. Secretary of State under Clinton and a serious policy wonk. There's little question about her credentials but a bit about her temperament. She seems a bit too much like Condi to some and sending a woman to meet with the sheiks is a tough sell at times. Gen. Anthony Zinni is another strong candidate here, or could be on the NSC. (*A lot of emails about John Kerry here, but as I said with Homeland originally, I think Kerry is stronger in the Senate.)


The new Attorney General might need to start with pardons. I've always said it would be a strong statement to pardon George W. Bush and Dick Cheney as they leave office, both to end the discussion and to leave a cloud of wrongdoing over them. This spot could have been John Edwards', but he's now in no man's land. Davis is a young up and comer in the Democratic party who has solid creds and Obama connections. Patrick Fitzgerald, the man who headed up the Plame Investigation ... and the Tony Rezko case ... is going to get some consideration.


As much as I dislike the idea of a bipartisan cabinet -- it did nothing for Clinton -- Hagel is well qualified and a shoo-in for confirmation. Dick Lugar, who's work with Obama has been touted, is another possibility. This one seems very open, which is somewhat odd given the status. Jim Webb's name is going to be raised here, but if he wouldn't take the VP slot, he's unlikely to take a Cabinet position.

Homeland Security: WESLEY CLARK

I wish Obama would just get rid of this white elephant, but he won't. Clark could also be State or Defense, but the Clinton supporter might start here. Given his PAC is called "Securing America" he could just port his web site over! There's a lot of good things to say about offering this slot to Lee Hamilton, a chair of the 9/11 Committee and another Republican, but I think Hagel is a better pick and doubt there will be more than one Repub in the Cabinet. Webb will also be mentioned here, as will John Kerry, but with Ted Kennedy ailing, it would be tough to have Massachusetts appoint two Senators.

Health and Human Services: HOWARD DEAN

Quick - name the current HHS secretary. In fact, name any of the current heads of departments from here on down. Can't do it? Neither can Bush, who's relied less on his cabinet than any other president. Putting a doctor in charge here, albeit one with partisan issues, to help lead the charge on health insurance might be a bit polarizing. It does give Obama the chance to put his own man (David Axelrod) in at the DNC. David Cutler is probably the most likely choice here, however with John Kitzhaber a close second. (Oh, and it's Mike Leavitt who's the current one.)


Another graduation from House Chair to the Cabinet, Miller is a California congressman in a safe blue district. He's not terribly distinguished, but there's no real downside here. Kathleen Sebelius will be mentioned a lot with her focus on education, but it won't be enough to get her to jump to DC.

Veterans Affairs: MAX CLELAND

Another Clinton vet, Cleland's credentials are impeccable despite the attacks on him that cost him his Senate seat. It's an easy pick that would require almost no thought. Some have suggested that John McCain could be a bipartisan pick here, but I can't see him accepting for a number of reasons, including that his Senate seat would be filled by a Democratic governor.


Uninspiring, but easy choice. Gephardt's got some credibility left in this area and there's not any great choices. The best choice would be David Bonior, but I doubt that he'd move to the Cabinet from his Whip position in the House. I'm less enthusiastic about this choice seeing that Gephardt is working for a big law firm and could conceivably get the lobbyist tar on him. This could also be where we see an Hispanic like Xavier Becerra tapped.


Al Gore is just too cute a pick here, plus I think Gore actually gets more done outside government than he could inside. He's a polarizing figure and the next President can't afford that with energy such a high priority issue. Instead, I think Obama could grab a popular figure who could be key in selling a bipartisan plan to the public. For the guy who "invented the Hummer" to champion alternative fuels is something you can only get in Hollywood.


Lots of names here as possibles - Brian Schweitzer, Chris Gregoire - but do either leave Governor's mansions for this spot? I don't think so. Jeff Bingaman, the long term Senator from New Mexico, is probably senior enough to move up to a Cabinet spot from his current Chairmanship of the Energy and Natural Resources committee. (One suggestion from email was Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a passionate environmentalist ... and would make for two Kennedy's in the cabinet! He might be a bit strong but is certainly worth consideration as is Lisa Renstrom from the Sierra Club.)

Agriculture: CHET CULVER

Patrick Leahy will be prominently mentioned, but again, leaving a power position in the Senate is tough. Culver was a big help to Obama's Iowa campaign, so this could be payback. He's young and ambitious, so this might not be enough of a profile for him. Tom Vilsack, the former Iowa governor, is another possibility, though as a co-chair of Hillary's campaign, he's not exactly an Obama loyalist.


This one might have more power than most people think, given the problems with the housing market and the possibility that the Treasury will nationalize the mortgage industry. Then again, the Treasury could essentially usurp much of this function, leaving it a dead end portfolio. Daschle's been solid for the Obama campaign and this is a nice mid-level area, one that Daschle could use to keep the department "in play" during the housing crisis.


Giving a Cabinet post to a top fundraiser is a tough one, but Pritzker is pretty low-profile outside of the Beltway and has never been involved in big scandal. (TransUnion isn't a plus here, but isn't a disqualifier.) Her family connections, Harvard pedigree and easy style should make her a nice choice if not an inspired one.

Transportation: JIM OBERSTAR

The little known Congressman from Minnesota has been on the Transportation committee and is a strong advocate of integrated transportation policies, especially rail systems. He's worked to shore up infrastructure after the Minneapolis bridge collapse and that work should push him to this post.

UPDATE: I've updated with links to these people since there are so many lesser known ones. I also noticed that I ended up with an odd mix for a Democratic cabinet, with as many Republicans as women and no Hispanics. I still don't think Bill Richardson would go from governor of NM to return to Energy, though it is more powerful than it seems and Schwarzenegger is an admitted longshot. I do think I got the geographic and political structure right, especially after some emails I got in response.

College Picks are 11-5. Top Picks are 8-3. People, I AM ON FIRE!
2008-10-02 15:13
by Scott Long

I have been bringing winners here week after week, so let see what we can do this time around.  For those keeping track, even my NFL picks are 8-6, so everything is clicking.


Oregon St. (+11.5) Utah

Cincy (-3) Marshall

Kentucky (+16.5) Alabama

3-star Auburn (-4) Vanderbilt

N.C. State (+9) Boston College

Iowa (+7.5) Mich. St.

Nebraska (+10.5) Missouri

Purdue (+13) Penn State

Considering how well I've done in the colleges, it would probably be wise to lighten up... I instead go with 8 picks.  The first is a classic trap game, as it is hard to see how the Beavers could be an 11 point dog to anyone.  I just don't believe the Utes are that good.  I am a big fan of the Bearcats' Coach Kelly and have been waiting for the right opportunity to play them, which I hope is this week.  Did you know that Vandy and Kentucky are undefeated?  The oddsmakers believe in the Commodores, but I think it will be easy like sunday morning for Auburn. Bama comes off the biggest win the program has had in a while, so I expect they will be flat.  Wolfpack's O'Brien was the coach at BC, so I suspect his team will come up with enough to keep it close.  I have been off Iowa all year and on Michigan State, but the Hawks have been a bit unlucky this year and I suspect this one will go down to the wire.  I bet against the Huskers homefield last week as a favorite, but I like them getting points in Lincoln.  The Boilers are another team that I like getting points at home, as Penn State usually finds a couple spots where they slip up during each season. 


Detroit (+3.5) Chicago

Philly (-6) Washington

Minnesota (+3) New Orleans

Not a fan of this week's Pro games. 



What I Do
2008-10-01 09:10
by Will Carroll

I just completed the seventh year of UTK, while I'm at work on the fourth year of my various football reports, and the sundry other things I do (college football, basketball, and European soccer.) I've probably had hundreds of emails asking me some variation on what I call "the Neyer question." I still don't have a good answer, but like Rob, I can say that I have no idea how or why I've been quite so blessed, but knowing that I am gives me a couple quick notes on how I've been able to keep doing this.

The first and most important is that I show up every day. I wrote over 150 columns for BP this year over the course of the 2008 season. The way that baseball moves during the season requires that you can't really take days off. Monday columns are always the worst for me, trying to catch up, which was exacerbated a bit this year by UTK Wrap. I've never had boundless energy and in the first year of the column, I was often delayed by the crippling panic attacks I was dealing with at the time. Still, I knew then just like I know now that my readers expect something every day or nearly every day and miss it when it's not there. Once a week isn't enough

Which leads to the second - by showing up every day, it creates a routine. I have certain tools I use to help me, including a purpose-built program that seeks out information. I make tons of phone calls, tons of emails and texts, and generally check in with my sources regularly. That exchange of information keeps things moving. When I started this, it was hard to get people to take my calls, but eventually, that started to shift. Now the flow of information is about 50/50. I still make my calls, but often, people call me. My readers alert me when something happens on field, which helps.

Another key is building relationships, both within the game and with my readers. I have a compulsion to answer every email and I still do this. SI doesn't put a mail link on my columns and I'll be honest - I don't have the same satisfaction with those as I do, largely because there's no interaction. I *know* my readers at UTK, something I just don't have with football. People inside the game know me as someone who works hard at his job and is willing to learn. I make mistakes (too many) and admit it readily when I do, largely because I find those an opportunity to learn. While I wish I could go to more games, I do make enough contact with team officials and players so that they know who I am and I don't get accused often of dodging. Maybe someday I'll get one of the BBWAA golden tickets, but I'm not counting on it. I'm also an asshole, something I realize. I wish I was a nice guy, but I'm not. I wish I didn't lash out, wish I didn't say stupid things, but just as when I get something right or break a story, I'm going to show up every day and take the blame along with the credit.

Finally, I think a respect for the game is needed. I realized early that I was given an opportunity to tell a story that hadn't been told, the one just behind the scenes. Watching yesterday's Sox-Twins game, TBS' coverage would cut to the normal dugout shot to show Ozzie Guillen standing up, watching his team. Just behind him, sitting on the bench, was Sox Trainer Herm Schneider. I'd venture that most people, even most Sox fans, didn't know who the guy sitting there was. I'm not a doctor. I'm not an Athletic Trainer. I'm certainly not a physical therapist, thank God. Thing is, I'm just a reporter who talks to the people closest to the injuries and tries to translate that to the sports fan. While I rely on my own base of knowledge, I don't rely on *just* my base of knowledge. If I did, my column would be a shell of what it is. Those that try or worse, those that don't even make the effort to talk with sources find themselves missing things far too much, not understanding the human element of the situation.

The trick is to luck into something that you're passionate about, work hard, and never lose the respect for the story or the game. I've been lucky enough to be encouraged along by some of my heroes - Joe Sheehan, Gary Huckabay, Rany Jazayerli, Peter Gammons, Eric Karabell, Jamey Newberg, and Peter King. It was King who said to me in our first meeting that I needed to focus on doing "an honest day's work for an honest day's pay." He didn't realize it at the time, but when we were sitting in Starbucks that February day, I was at one of the lowest points of my career. I'd written about Mark Prior and been blasted in the Chicago media. I've never forgotten that he took the time out of his day to meet me and I've certainly never forgotten the advice he gave me. And I won't.

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