Monday, September 5, 2005

Watch With Me

First Inning:

Just as I sit down in front of the TV with my meatloaf, tater tots, and cola I think to myself, “These 5:30 start times always kill the A’s. I think briefly about game five of the 2000 ALDS when T-Long lost a fly ball in the sun and cost Oakland the game in the first inning. Boom. Home run Jeter on the first pitch of the game. Here we go again. This happens every time they make us play at 5:30. It’s bullshit. This never happens to the east coast teams. We have to take this shit just so the game can fit into ESPN’s schedule. Fuck ESPN. TV shouldn’t have this kind of impact on the games. Neither should the Raiders. I hate Al Davis and the way his extra seats fuck up my outfield. End of the first, 1-0 Yanks.

Second Inning:

Yer fucking kidding me. I hate Mark Bellhorn, he just hit a dinger. Fly ball…can we get some love from the wind? No, damn! But I’ll take that error by Sheff for two bases. I like Jay Payton. I was against that trade, I loved Byrnsie. Last week Payton ran in from center field and got a force out at second base. Payton comes through with the RBI and it’s 2-1 Yanks. Oh Bullshit! This ump sucks, that was not a strike to Johnson. Fuck! Well He should have swung to protect the runner anyway. End of the second 2-1 Yanks.

Third inning:

This ump really does suck, that was strike to Sheff, now he’s on first. I hate Giambi. I hate watching Chavez take fastballs. I hate it even more when he tries to pull pitches on the outside corner. Great, end of the inning, 4-1 Yanks.

Fourth Inning:

I need more meatloaf. Damn, a double by Jeter leading off. This is trouble. Jeter’s going to hit for the cycle. And there goes Jeter stealing third. And a triple for Matsui. I’m switching over to Entourage if this keeps up. Base hit for Sheff, 5-1. This game is over. Zito’s out after 3.1 innings and in come Yabu. Zito was up in the zone with everything tonight. (I’m at a point in my life where beer commercials actually make want to buy beer.) This is what it’s like to be an A’s fan. I’m almost numb to it now. I feel like a pro, never getting too high, never getting too low. Knowing that heartbreak is just around the bend if I let myself get caught up in hoping. Scott Hattberg’s weak grounder to lead off the inning is a metaphor for the A’s in this century. At first, when you can’t really grasp the angle, it looks like it might get through, but then it doesn’t. Every time you’re ready to believe in Oakland, they lose a crucial series to the Yanks or Angels. As I wrote the last sentence Johnson hit into a double play. Typical. End of the fourth 6-1 Yanks.

Fifth Inning:
Finally we keep ‘em off the board. I hate how much cheering there is when the Yanks do something good. Why can’t we own our own park? Ha! A-rod just fell over trying to catch a pop-up; finally something to cheer about. One out, two outs, Scoooooooooooooooooooooooot! Scoot was a good story last year, he’s a good story this year. He is the second coming of Frank Menechino. He’s that guy who’s not going to start on his own merits, but you want him there when the main guy goes down. He’s that gritty little Eckstein type, but not quite as good. (Which reminds me, why doesn’t Jamie Carroll get more time for the Nats?) End of the fifth, 6-2 Yanks.

Sixth inning:

Great, slow point in the game and now they start to recap the A’s futility against the Yanks in the playoffs. Of course this means they’re showing “The Jeter Play” again. They already showed it at the top of the show, but like the Varitek-A-rod fight they’ll show it every time these two play on ESPN. Well, Yabu is holding them down, but if the A’s are going to do anything they better do it soon, before Gordon and Rivera come into play. Beagle’s are cute. I like watching the hometown fans. They seem so zany and fun on TV. A walk with no outs and the crowd is alive. They think we can get something going here. Then Chavy pops out. A hittie for Hattie and there are two on for Payton. Ahhhhhhhhh!!!!!! FOUL! Damn, there I go hoping again. Can John Miller stop saying people are “a former Red Sox.” It looks better in print, say it out loud. See how stupid that sounds? I know it’s spelled with an ‘x’ but how can some one be a plural thing? It sounds like shit. John Miller is an idiot. Giambi is a former Athletics. Well for all that Oakland gets zilch. End of the sixths, 6-2 Yanks.

Seventh Inning:

I love rum. Rummy rum rum. A robot can make you a car, a bike, and a microchip; but none of these things can make you a robot. Wow, so this is why people think baseball is boring. Running down the A’s injuries just for fun: Kotsay, Crosby, Harden (best pitcher the last two years). Speaking of Harden, why didn’t the A’s start him on the next to last day of the year in ’04? Kendel’s up. He has the most at bats without a home run out of all players in MLB this year. It’s been like 50 years since someone had 500+ at bats and no homers in a season. Sigh.

Eighth Inning:

It’s fitting that MLB is kicking off its hurricane relief on Roberto Clemente day. Clemente died flying relief supplies to Nicaragua after an earthquake. I’ve never liked Joe Morgan. He’s saying that whoever plays against the Wild Card team should get four out of five home games in the first round. That’s idiotic. His logic is that the division winners have earned it (fine), that in the NFL Wild Card teams play all they’re games on the road (not true, depending on who else wins/ loses the WC in the NFL may host the conference championship game), and that this would be the only way to “crown a true champion.” (BTW Witasick just loaded the bases.) The thing is that if the division champ is so much better than the WC team, why do they need the edge? If you need an artificial edge like double home field advantage are you a true champion? If you’re the true champion shouldn’t you be able to beat everyone? If you lose, you lose. Stop whining. Back to the game…We’re going to lose this one, just hit Bellhorn in the face. He walked him. If yer gonna walk him anyway you might as well hit him in the face.

Great, it takes Chavy getting fooled before he’ll take one the other way. Hattie, fielder’s choice and the A’s get one more. That’s all they’ll get. End of the eighth, 7-3 Yanks.

Ninth Inning:

Huston Street is good. Non-save situation, Rivera’s in anyway. Game over. I think the phrase “He fisted him” should be banned from baseball broadcasts. That’s it, end of the game, 7-3 Yanks. Good night folks.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

It Was a Good Day

It is a rare thing in this world, for some of us anyway, that we can experience a truly good day. We have normal days. We have days that aint half bad. We have uneventful days, mellow days, and pleasant days. But it is rare that we have a grade A, bonafide, Ice Cube type good day. Yesterday was one of those days. July18, 2005 was a good day in the life of your fav Ranter.

I woke up late. I didn’t care. I was rested and happy having had a wonderfully mellow and relaxing weekend. I took a long shower and sat down to breakfast and Sports Center. When I opened the fridge to grab the milk my eyes alit upon the meatloaf I’d made Saturday morning but had yet to sample. My stomach perked up at the thought of a nice meatloaf lunch and positively beamed when I realized I still had two slices of real sourdough, left over from my trip to Cali, to go with it. I showed up 45 minutes late for work and no one seemed to care. I had a meeting with my supervisor, which ate up most of the rest of the morning, and before I’d had a chance to settle into the day it was meatloaf time. The meatloaf was divine, my mothers recipe for the most part. Little did I know that the best parts of the day were yet to come.

As lunch was wrapping up I got an IM from former BISR contributor DMJ. A few years ago I had asked DMJ why I never saw him online. He gave me some pithy response about how IM was stupid and anyway he preferred to really talk to people. So imagine my surprise when I get a strange IM from someone I swear I don’t know. “I’m on IM all the time” says DMJ. So, why is this exciting? Is it simply the admission from an old cynic that IM isn’t just for losers? Is it the realization that the only thing hiding DMJ’s status as a full on computer geek was the years long drought of having a decent computer? No. The exciting part came when my computer started ringing. I clicked on the unfamiliar icon that seemed to be the source of the ring and heard DMJ’s pleasant and familiar “Why hello there.” AIM voice chat! I scrambled for my headphones as my heart sang with the knowledge that this here to now useless feature (I didn’t know anyone else who had iChat) was finally bearing fruit. “Free phone calls.” I spent the next twenty minutes looking like a geek who had finally melted down mumbling to my computer breaking down baseball trades as my coworkers passed in and out of the break room asking each other if they should call the white-coats on me. It was giggle-icious.

Shortly after getting off the line with DMJ our VP asked to see me. He told me he’d just processed the paper work for my annual review. My annual review had been the topic some controversy, first between my supervisor and I, then between myself and the beautiful Miss K. Though none of us disagreed about my accomplishments over the past year we differed in out opinions about how much these accomplishments were worth in terms of a raise. The max raise under my company’s system is 5%. The number I wanted was slightly above that. I have a high opinion of myself. My super wanted to focus solely on the numbers in the charts that came out of my review ignoring what I deemed to be my “intangibles.” Miss K preferred to knock me off the pedestal I had placed myself upon by deriding my various accomplishments, which I had inflated a small bit in order to impress my boss, in favor of a view that was slightly less flattering than my reality. All of this made the following moment so much sweeter. As I steeled myself for a defense of my number, the number that was off the regular scale, the number I was sure I was worth, the VP told me he had adjusted things to a nice even number. I tried to maintain my professional demeanor as he then quoted me the number I’d been carrying around in my head the past six months; a number that came in at around 5.26%. Now I know what you’re thinking oh cynical reader, “Why the fuss over .26%?” Why indeed. Well for one thing, it does bring things to that nice round number I mentioned earlier. Second, that .26% is roughly one car payment, or two student loan payments. Finally, and most importantly, it’s respect. It’s a small nod to the fact that I do more to help the company than other people in my position. It’s my Rod Tidwell moment. It’s my little slice of the Kwon.

My good day ended when Miss K and I took her mother out to a ball game. For those who have yet to experience it there is nothing like a minor league baseball game. Except maybe a really cool little league game. Minor league baseball is everything Bull Durham made it out to be; low prices, small crowds, and parks so intimate the players can actually hear you heckle them. It was in this setting, in a mostly empty Double-A ballpark in suburban Maryland where I snagged my first ever foul ball. It wasn’t terribly challenging since the fouls were raining down like shooting stars on a camping trip, and I had to out race an eleven year old kid to get to it, but it was a satisfying end to the kind of day that can rescue your soul from whatever you’ve slogged through to get there; and I didn’t even have to use my AK.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Land of the Dolts

East Coast baseball fans are a bunch of morons. Seriously, I have heard and seen more stupid things living out here than I ever did back home by the bay. I first noticed this a couple years ago as fans in the Bronx wildly cheered every medium deep fly ball can of corn hit by their beloved Bombers as if it were a game seven walk off slam. That particular trend continued this season in Baltimore as the O’s fans went crazy every time Sammy or Miggy popped-up. In fact, the only place I’ve seen a hint of baseball acumen has been at RFK where Nats fans appropriately cheered a ground ball to the right side that advanced a runner from second with no outs. (If you didn’t follow that keep reading it’ll get easier.) The madness continued this weekend in Philly where I took a road trip to see the Red Sox take on the Phightn’ Phils. Philly is a great town. I got a t-shirt with the slogan “Vote For Bobby” emblazoned Napoleon Dynamite style across the front. I saw a gem of a ballpark in Citizen’s Bank Ballpark. After two feet of hoagie I determined that Pat’s is WAY better than Geno’s. I also heard some of the most ridiculous trade talk on the local sports station.

Here’s the deal, the A’s are basically out of it. Oakland is seven games out of the wild card right now, which will be hard to make up. However, the A’s are hot right now. They’ve won eight of their last ten and are inching closer and closer to .500. Still, the assumption in Philly, and everywhere else with a contending team, is that the A’s are close to mailing it in and dismantling the ball club. I ask why? The A’s are finally starting to look like the etam that many people, including me, thought they would be heading into spring training. They’re getting quality starts out of their young pitchers, the bullpen is holding leads, and the bats are coming around. If Chad Bradford can comeback healthy, and Juan Cruz can figure out his control problems this team will be tough to beat down the stretch. If teams like Seattle pack it in, and Texas’ pitching woes continue the A’s could very well find themselves back in the wild card hunt before too long. But even if they don’t there’s no reason for a fire sale this year.

First off the A’s payroll is right about where it should be and knowing Billy Beane probably a few million under budget. Since it’s unlikely the A’s will add anything this year there’s no reason to dump payroll. The only A’s players of note who can walk after this year are Octavio Dotel who has no trade value, and Mark Kotsay who’s working on an extension. Most of the trade rumors surrounding the A’s have focused on Kotsay, a superb defensive out fielder with a good bat, and Barry Zito who’s been in obvious decline since his 23-5 Cy Young season in 2002. Even if this year is a lost cause the A’s should hold on to both these guys. The A’s got off to a slow start this year and every player save Marco Scutaro played far below their usual and expected level for the first two months. As a result Oakland dug a deep hole from which they may not emerge this year. However, unlike previous years they have no superstars eating up payroll and waiting to walk. Also, unlike previous years the A’s can take a mulligan on this year and keep their credibility with the fans as long as they remain competitive and don’t totally pack it in. Also, with a new owner in place the A’s may be in a position to add an impact free agent to complement the pieces they already have.

Still, the rumors persist. The Yankees and Cubs are said to be high on Kotsay, which is fine for them but begs the question, in return for what? The word at the water cooler for the past few years is that the Yanks don’t have any quality prospects in their farm system and I don’t see anyone on their major league roster who I’d want for Kotsay. Do you want Bernie Williams (.249/04/27/.341/.708)? Here’s a guy who’s been so bad in the field this year that he’s been replaced by Tony Womack who’s played 18 games in center during his 11 year career. Who else do you want for a 29 y/o OF in his prime? How about Tony Womack (35), or Reuben Sierra (39)? The only other piece the Yanks would likely give up is Giambi. Giambi has gotten himself up to.256/05/22/.396/.771 and I know I advocated for him earlier, but I still don’t want a 34 year old fallen slugger in exchange for Kotsay. So who do the Yanks give up? Exactly. Looking at the A’s needs and the rosters of each team I’d say the only player the Yanks could put in the centerpiece of a deal is Robinson Cano. The rookie 2B is hitting .282/05/25/.310/.764 in 174 ABs. A Cano for Kotsay deal would move Swisher or Byrnes into center and open up time for Charles Thomas. The Yanks could then move Womack back to second to fill in for Cano. As for the Cubs, well, I’ll take Corey Patterson because he’s young and could develop into a Kotsay type player even though his defense isn’t all there yet.

Which brings us back to the stupidity of Philly fans. All weekend I heard one caller after another propose a Zito for Pat Burrell deal. This belies their complete lack of baseball knowledge in that they obviously have not looked past Zito on the roster. The A’s currently have five major league quality outfielders (Kotsay, Swisher, Byrnes, Kielty, and Thomas) so why on earth would they give up Zito for another OF? Burrell is a nice player who would add some pop to the line-up, but I don’t think he’s worth giving up Zito. There are lots of ways to create offense, but pitching is at a premium. Besides that, who does Philly use to replace Burrell? Kenny Lofton’s been hurt, Endy Chavez sucks, and Jason Michaels, while good, has only had 142 ABs this year. The Phils could resign Doug Glanville who was traded to the Yankees in the Lofton deal and then cut by NY. Still, unless the A’s gave up an outfielder like Byrnes, and brought back a pitcher (Tim Worrell?) the deal wouldn’t make sense seeing as how Dan Meyer isn’t ready for prime time.

Of course, the A’s don’t need an outfielder. In fact, if they hold on to Kotsay the A’s don’t really need anything. The only holes they had going into this year were on the right side of the infield. Since they’re slow start Mark Ellis has come around and Dan Johnson is doing well at 1B. Other than that the A’s are set at every position. I’d like to see more from Jason Kendall on both offense and defense but I’m willing to give it another year. Peter Gammons seems to be the only major media type who thinks that the Yanks, Cubs, et al. will have a hard time prying young players out of small markets this year. Teams like the A’s who don’t need to dump payroll and have a strong farm system don’t need to give away the pieces that would complete the big boys. After all, why help solidify the Yanks outfield for the next five years when you can take advantage of Bernie’s bad knees for the next two or three? Instead the A’s, Brewers, Pirates and Tigers should sit tight and go get ‘em next year.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Belated Commentary “Everyone’s a little bit _____-ist, sometimes.”

Carl Everett of the Chicago White Sox, who has previously stated that he doesn’t believe that dinosaurs existed because they’re not mentioned in the bible, has come out with his opinion on gay marriage. In this month’s issue of Maxim magazine Everett says something to the effect of, “I’ve had gay teammates and I’ve accepted them, but being gay isn’t right. I don’t believe in gay marriage, it isn’t right.” He goes on to reveal that two women cannot make a baby, nor can two men. This morning on Mike & Mike in the Morning on ESPN radio Mike Greenberg suggested that this comment by Everett will spark “a firestorm of controversy.” It shouldn’t. Everett’s comments should be taken up to the point of “I’ve accepted them” and end there. As far as his opinion of gay marriage, or the validity of homosexual romance he is entitled to his opinion; even if he’s wrong.

Listening to Greenberg read Everett’s statement on air I got the impression that Everett was clearly stating his belief rather than attempting to influence people or incite debate. I don’t agree with Everett’s remarks but the fact that he is willing to accept gay people regardless of his personal opinion is enough for me. After all, we all have our own prejudices (cue Avenue Q soundtrack here). I am not for illegal immigration. I’ll never vote for harsher immigration laws, or denial of services to immigrants regardless of their legal status. Equality and justice for all doesn’t mean we all have to like each other. There will always be groups of people that we have some dislike for. As long as we don’t allow our prejudice to inform our treatment of people, or God forbid our public policy, it doesn’t matter what we think behind our eyes.

Ewoks are not Ethiopian. They’re Iraqi.

OK, they’re neither. One of the lasting memories of childhood is an argument between my mom and her boyfriend a couple of years after Return of the Jedi. The argument was about whether or not Ewoks were derogatory African stereotypes. My mother took the position that they were simply annoying little teddy bears created to sell merchandise to eight-year-olds. This led to one of the more vicious political arguments I have ever witnessed including during my recent trip to the senate.

Now the Ewok argument is being played out on a larger scale as republican leaders attempt to get people to boycott "Revenge of the Sith" due to its alleged anti-Bush bias. Among other things republicans point to Darth Vader’s line “If you’re not with me, you’re my enemy.” As invoking Bush’s “You’re either with us or you’re with the terrorists.” Republicans have also pointed to the films apparent criticism of the war in Iraq.

For crying out loud people get a grip! People have been trying to find hidden messages in Star Wars films for too long. Sure, Lucas borrowed from eastern philosophy and Christianity in order to shape his epic. Sure, there are allusions to other famous stories. Yes, the films depict an amalgam of classic themes on the human condition. We get it. That’s where it should end. When asked about the republican’s ire Lucas himself issued one of the greatest non-confirmations of my young life saying that the story was written during the Vietnam war, not the current war. This statement at once denies that the movie had any overt bias against the current administration while at the same time using the GOP’s accusations to compare the current war to Vietnam, something most republicans want to avoid. In a sly way Lucas is pointing out what should be obvious to all of us, if the GOP see caricatures of themselves in the behavior of the Sith, who are patterned after a xenophobic administration that perpetrated a failed war, maybe they should take a hint that this a clear case of life imitating art. People need to stop trying to find the hidden political messages in Star Wars. After all, how long has this movie been in post production? Wasn’t some form of “Yer either wi’us ‘r a’gin us” used in films as far back as the 1930s? Isn’t likely that it was written into Bush’s speech because it’s an iconic phrase? So did Lucas play on Bush, or did Bush play on John Wayne? Or did Lucas play on Wayne? Could the line have been written prior to Bush’s speech? Yes, yes, yes and yes. Besides, if Bush says something that childish shouldn’t he be lampooned for it? Or are world politics so simple that the entire issue can be as simple as disagreeing with the war equals wishing death upon American civilians? I for one am not against the war because I’m for the terrorists, but rather because I am for the soldiers, and I am for the people of Iraq.

If republicans are upset about Sith now, imagine if Return of the Jedi were released today. Instead of being worried about comparing Bush to Vader the GOP would be up in arms about how the Ewoks, with their guerrilla tactics, were a clear nod to the Iraqi insurgents. After all, the Ewoks used IEDs and other primitive weapons to attack checkpoints in an attempt to defeat the most technologically advanced army in the galaxy, a strategy that closely parallels the tactics of the Vietcong who preyed upon the over confidence the US put into it’s military might. If Jedi were released today Lucas might find himself at Gitmo while our boys kept on the look out for insurgents using big logs and hang-gliders armed with giant rocks. Again, if the GOP sees a parallel, in a film, about outer space, written during Vietnam, to the current political climate they might want to take that as a sign. From what I can tell Vietnam is now widely acknowledged as an abject failure. If we have reached the point where even those who are perpetrating this war, the same people who promised that Iraq would “not be another Vietnam,” are starting to see the similarities, maybe they should wake up and realize it’s not a case of liberal bias, it’s reality.

On a related note…

…I’m kind of glad it’s all over. I was born approximately 11 months before Star Wars was released. The films have been a constant for me, as they have been for most American males my age. Like a Red Sox fan under the age of 90 I don’t know life without gossip and speculation surrounding one of the passions of my generation. Still, I’m glad that I’ll never again have to leave a movie theater listening to a depressed, thirty-something, never-been-kissed Star Wars junkie complaining that “this one wasn’t (fill in the blank) compared to the originals.” Never again will I have to fight the urge to shake this person and scream, “Dude! When you saw the originals you were 12 years old!” Here’s the deal gang, these are movies made for kids. Adults loved the originals in part because there had, to that point, never been a movie like Start Wars. Heck, if you’re reading this chances are your parents were in their mid-twenties when Star warts came out which ain't exactly old. The special effects were unlike anything that had been done to that point. The story was different than anything that had been done to that point. Star Wars was different. Now it’s not. Now we get a few special effects vehicles every summer. Now we have an entire channel that does nothing but sci-fi. Not to mention that no matter what, there’s almost nothing Lucas could have made that would live up to the hype and anticipation that preceded Episode I. Nothing will ever live up to a beloved childhood experience it’s stupid to expect it.

That said Episode III was far and away the best of the recent trilogy. The interesting thing is that this film puts the entire series into a different perspective. The original three were about Luke’s journey from Tatooine farm boy to Jedi Knight. Anakin’s transition into Vader shifts the focus of the entire series to his rise, fall, and eventual redemption. Looking at the series as a whole Luke becomes a supporting character. Say what you want about the acting, the directing, the writing or whatever Episode III delivered exactly what Star Wars fans should have wanted. I think John Cloud said it well in a recent issue of Time magazine. Cloud wrtites, “True, Lucas’ beautiful but turgid prequal trilogy has disappointed. But then again I am no longer an awe struck boy secluded in a theater, trying to find himself in that place far far away.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Too Many MCs not Enough Time

Friday, May 13, 2005

As seems to be the case more an more often these days it's been a while since my last post. I'm sure this costing me the attention of even my meager audience but what can I say? Maybe I'm overwhelmed by all the crap in the world. It seems like everyday there's something that makes me shake my head. Or, perhaps I'm so content that I've become complacent and unable to Rant. Life has been pretty good lately. I still have a good job with prospects of getting better. I've got a few irons in the fire in terms of other projects. I'm moving in with a guy and saving some money. Life is good. Or maybe it's just that I work too much and play too much and just don't have the time or the mental energy required for writing. Whatever it is it's led to this, not quite a "dot dot dot" column, but a few quick hits on things that have been rattling around my brain.

Disenfranchised voters, judicial impropriety, illegal gifts, it's not national politics, it's not South America, it's American Idol and it's getting more attention than Tom Delay and the Pope combined. Who gives a crap if Paula got her groove back? It's not a real contest! This is not steroids in baseball, this is not point shaving in the NCAA tournament, this is American Karaoke. It doesn't matter, it effects no one, and the guy got eliminated anyway. No harm no foul. Now can we get back to talking about Medicare, Social Security, House Ethics, Congressional Filibusters and Oakland's Bullpen? Jeez.

How great would it be for The Artful Roger to get traded back to Boston? Let's face it: Houston is done. If they're out of it at the trade deadline why not send Roger to a contender? After all he only came to Houston because he thought he and Petite could get the Astros to the series. Well, they couldn't. There are several interesting possibilities for Roger's future if he is indeed traded. Really, you could put any contender in this list, but I'll name my favorites.

-Chicago (AL or NL): The Sox look legit, and they don't have the glaring pitching holes they had when they ran through the AL, only to get demolished in the playoffs, in 2000. If the Sox are in it then I don't see how they could not push for Clemens. As for the Cubs, well, if they climb out of their current hole they should go for it too. After watching what Boston did last year the Cubs have to figure they're next. Besides, Clemens isn't going to want to be a savior and have to carry a team on his own, if he could join an healthy Prior and Wood then why not go for it? After all, Greg Maddux makes a pretty scary fourth starter.

-Texas: They're young, good and in the hunt, but they have no pitching. I guy like Roger may be what the Rangers need to overcome The The Angels Angels of Anaheim, and Seattle. Texas has a history of bringing in aging power pitchers. By going to Texas Roger could cement his legacy (as if he needs to) by tying himself further to the man to whom he is often compared, Nolan Ryan.

-New York: No I don't mean the Mets though it would be interesting to see the "what could have been" of Clemens and Pedro together. It's interesting that for years people said that these two were good in part because they could pitch inside without fear of retribution yet both have excelled so far on the senior circuit. Of course the only option for Roger in NY is the Yanks assuming they're even close. In my mind it would be sad to see Roger got to NY only to miss the playoffs anyway, but it would be a nice thing rub in my cousin's face.

-Boston: This is the best story. If only this could happen. Roger going back to Boston to team with Schilling, the man whose career he saved, to rewrite the final chapter of his tenure with the franchise he was so closely identified with is...well, it's something George Lucas would come up with. A story of redemption so Hollywood it almost makes me want the Sox to win the world series again just so my kids could have one more baseball legend to dream about. Roger helping the Sox to another title would rival last year's Sox run in terms of scale and spectacle. Mr. McLane, please send Roger back to Boston.

Rip-a-ping-ping, the A's dodged a bullet when they didn't resign Giambi. As the steroid cloud follows this fallen figure I don't know whether to laugh or just shrug it all off. In a way Giambi is getting exactly what he deserves after stabbing an entire city in the back. How's that top ten list look now Jason? Now the Yanks want to send him to the minors so he can rebuild his swing and maybe fix his head. The problem is Giambi doesn't want to go. He should. If he doesn't it only confirms what fans in Oakland have suspected since he left in 2001, that he's all about the money. Before he got paid Giambi seemed like a throwback bad boy playing for the pure joy of it. Now he seems like a brooding selfish ass putting himself before the team. The reality is if he doesn't start hitting soon he's going to be a waste of a roster spot. Still, like I said a few months ago, I'd take him back on the cheap if he showed that he really did want to redeem himself. Be humble Jason, be contrite, that's all you need to do to start turning it around.

On an side note, Miggy's making us look like idiots for choosing to go after Giambi, and then Chavez and totally ignoring Tejada. Quick comparison:

Tejada: .348/10/36/.390/1.050
Chavez: .195/02/10/.275/.553
Giambi: .195/03/06/.386/.711

Wow, after looking at those numbers I have to wonder if Chavez destroyed his BALCO evidence before the Feds got to it. Of course it could be that both Giambi and Chavez are in wicked slumps that they'll pull out of. The real difference is that Giambi went to NY and has to accept everything that goes with it including the scrutiny that Chavez has managed to escape thus far.

In more A's related news; the bullpen sucks. After leading the league in blown saves and losing the division by one game last year the A's tried to upgrade their bullpen during the off-season. Oakland added power arms in Juan Cruz and rookie Huston Street to go along with closer Octavio Dotel. Still the A's pen has failed to hold leads in recent weeks, the most glaring example being back to back blown saves against the Red Sox. It seems like missing soft tossers like Chad Bradford (DL-back) is hurting the A's because they have no change of pace type relievers to throw out there.

Moving to football, Rod Gardner wants out of Washington and it wouldn't take much to get him at this point. A former first round pick, Gardner has a modest base salary and though he hasn't lived up to his potential the past couple years he has been very solid under difficult circumstances. If anyone should be willing to risk a 6th or 7th round pick on Gardner it should be the Forty Niners. Gardner would come relatively cheap in terms of cap room as well since Washington would still be responsible for the balance of his signing bonus. SF needs dependable receivers to help number one pick Alex Smith adjust to the NFL. Gardner isn't a super star, think JJ Stokes with better hands, but he can be the steady position type receiver that SF thought they were getting in Curtis "Stone Hands" Conway last year. The SF receiving corps took a step backwards last year with each of their young receivers seeming to regress. I loved the pick of Arnaz Battle but now I wonder if he'll ever be more than a Nate Singleton/ Dexter Carter type player. Bringing in Gardner to complement Brandon Lloyd and to give last year's number one pick Rashaun Woods time to mature would be a good move provided Gardner understood that he wasn't being brought in to save the franchise and would not be getting a new deal as part of the trade.

Speaking of SF receivers I don't understand why SF wouldn't want to bring Jerry Rice back as a player-coach for one last season. Rice could come in for a minimum deal with no bonus and take advantage of the recent rule that allows veteran players with minimum deals to count only half their salary against the cap. At this point in his career Rice could serve as a great mentor to SF's young receivers in a way that he never could when he still believed he was a top-flight player himself. Also, even at his age, Rice could be a good third down type guy, especially in a four receiver set going against a team's fourth corner.

I think it's great that new Forty Niner coach Mike Nolan petitioned the league for permission to wear a jacket and tie on the sidelines rather than the coaches polo and warm ups that have become the norm in recent years. Aside from a few exceptions (Tom Landry) coaches have sported a more casual sideline look since before Nolan's dad Dick Nolan coached the Niners. In a sports scene dominated by throwbacks why not a throwback style coach? Look up a picture of Lawrence “Buck” Shaw aka "The Silver Fox" and tell me that isn't a great look for an NFL coach.

Final thoughts...Eagles owner Jeffery Laurie says TO isn't getting a new deal. Huzzah! Laurie and head coach Andy Reid should be applauded for taking a hard line with the hard head. Right now Owens has few options since he has not been given permission to seek a trade. He can sit out and miss out on this year's salary (a move that backfired on Sean Gilbert), he can admit defeat and report to training camp with the hope that he'll be traded at some point, or he can retire, thus forfeiting the rest of his signing bonus. If he retires and decides to come back his Eagles contract would be reinstated. Here's hoping that the Eagles tell him he can play for their money or sit out forever, or at least until an equal value deal comes along...Every time I come across the name Drew Henson I wonder if anyone's ever made as much money for doing so little. In fact, stat for stat Henson is even more over paid than A-fRod Henson got more than 10 mil from the Yankees and never came up from AAA for more than a cup of coffee, and he was so underwhelming in Dallas last year that Parcells traded for Drew Bledsoe...Which reminds me of that old joke, what's less mobile, Drew Bledsoe or a cardboard cutout of Drew Bledsoe?...Let's Go Nats!...Speaking of which, it's amazing how many prospects came out of the Expos system considering they once had both Dan Duquette and Kevin Malone in their front office...Summer reading? Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty, You Gotta Have Wa, The Meaning of Ichiro, Aces, Moneyball...That oughta hold ya.

12:44 pm edt

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Sometimes a Man's Don't Gotta Do...

You fight it. You deny it. In the end you come to accept it. You’re a writer. You may not be very good, you may have little insight, but you write anyway because you’re a writer and that’s what you do. You need to write. When you try to deny the urge it dams up inside you like constipation until you know that if you don’t release it you’ll encounter grave physical consequences. So you give in. You sit down and expunge all the things have been swirling around. You know that by writing you can bring some order to things. You can lay them out, give them structure, see how they relate, or don’t.

I never wanted to write. I hated the idea. Writing was mom’s job. I wanted to go out and do things. I wanted to make things happen and let other people report on it and decide what in meant. I’ve become a lot of things I never wanted. I wasn’t going to become an academic, I wasn’t going to teach, and I certainly wasn’t going to write. Basically I wasn’t going to become my family. Then I was. Now I am.

Sometimes your need to write overrides your better judgment. It’s important to know when to write for yourself alone. I sometimes struggle with the difference between writing to express something to the world, and writing to clear out my head. The result is that I run the risk of posting something that could hurt someone. Anyone who knows me knows I don’t often care about stirring the drink a bit. That said I’ve realized that not everything has to be said in a public forum. So, I’ll close with this, I’m sorry Miss K. If you’re wondering what the hell I’m talking about, it’s not important. What’s important is knowing when to stop typing.

Friday, April 8, 2005

Open. Open. Open....

I was thinking recently that I used to really enjoy logging some couch time when I got the chance. Now I can't stand the darn thing. It's hard for active people to be forced into inactivity. I wish I could be totally zen about it but I always found solace while running. Running was one of the things that cleared everything else away. No worries, no stress, no bills, just grass and maybe a ball. Baseball is like that. That's why I like to go alone sometimes. Then it's just the game, everything else, the outside world fades away and for a while time freezes. One of the nice things about baseball is that it's as close to timeless as anything this country has produced. With minor exceptions the game is exactly the same as it was 100 years ago. Compared with other pro sports it basically stands still. Pro football came into it's infancy in the early part of the 20th century, at that point pro baseball was already 40 years old. If you brought someone from 1920 to see a modern football game they'd hardly know what they were watching. Football if radically different now than it was only 30 years ago. But baseball remains untouched. The bases are still 90 feet apart, the mound is still 60 feet 6 inches from the plate, the bats are still ash or oak, and the ball is still made the same way as it was when Ruth and Hornsby played.

Michael Mandelbaum’s “The Meaning of Sports” compares baseball to our agrarian past. It's a pastoral game, with its green grass and red dirt. It is a game played with wood and leather and little else of consequence. It begins in the spring plays out throughout the summer, growing to a climax harvested by the World Series every fall. Then it lies dormant through out the winter. Bart Giamatti, the former commissioner of baseball and father of the actor Paul Giamatti once said of baseball,

"It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone.”

I think these are some of the reasons that baseball endures for me, and for others. The unchanging nature allows one to feel more of a connection to the past, and thus to the family that introduced the game to us. Stars of the past can be compared to the stars of today because they play roughly the same game under the same conditions (I’m ignoring the steroid issue for now). This is what gives the numbers of baseball the power. The numbers as well as the deeds behind them are the stories we pass down from one generation to the next. When I tell my kids, "I was there." I was there for Jeter's flip. I was there for Strawberry's pinch-hit slam. I was watching number 70. I was watching game 2131.

Thus, I journeyed out to Camden Yards in Baltimore this past opening day crutches and all. I went to escape work; I went to connect with my past. Though I was surrounded by thousands of strangers I was there alone, at peace. With me in that park, along with the record crowd were those separated by both space and time, my brother, my friends, my fathers both past and current. The magic of the game allowed me to connect with all of them. Of course I did so in part by using the conveniences of the present. I used my new camera phone to send pictures of the game to my family, particularly my brother with whom opening day had become a rite of spring. After drinking beers in the middle of the day and enjoying a few Eskae franks (which are, though I hate to say it, and with all respect to Fenway Franks, the best dog I’ve had at a stadium and the only ones close to being worth the price), I hobbled the interminable distance back to my car, and headed home, exhausted, sated, for some much needed couch time.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

An End to the Age of Texas Justice by DMJ

“At the end of the day, perhaps the best argument against capital punishment may be that it is an issue beyond the limited capacity of government to get things right.”
- Scott Turow, author and former federal prosecutor

In 1981, Donald Beardslee murdered two young women in a complex plot to recoup a debt owed to a drug dealer in Redwood City, Ca.. He was on parole for a 1969 murder at the time. Beardslee was executed by lethal injection at San Quentin State Prison in January, some 20 years after he was convicted and sentenced. But the length of Beardslee’s stay on Death Row does not serve as an endorsement of the appeals process in capital cases. Rather, it points out the utter fallibility of a system so vulnerable to human error and malfeasance that even decades’ worth of legal hearings cannot guarantee that the innocent will not be executed.

This is not to say that Beardslee himself is innocent, though some questions remain about his culpability in the murders. His lawyers unsuccessfully tried to have his conviction thrown out based on new evidence suggesting that Beardslee may have suffered long-term brain damage that affected his ability to distinguish right from wrong. But questions of Beardslee’s guilt or innocence cannot obscure the larger issue: A mountain of evidence shows that innocent people are sentenced to death with alarming frequency in the United States.

There can be no question that innocent people have been condemned to die. Over 100 convicts have been exonerated since 1973, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. Taken together, those “criminals” served over 1,000 years in prison between their sentencing and exoneration, an average of 9 years each.

The DPIC’s latest report, “Innocence and the Crisis in the American Death Penalty,” is filled with tales of the innocent being sentenced to death. The reasons are myriad – police and prosecutorial misconduct, false or fabricated eyewitness testimony, incompetent or overburdened defense lawyers. Remember that almost all of those exonerated are free solely due to the dogged efforts of a handful of lawyers, students and death penalty opponents. Now imagine what a fully-funded, government-sanctioned effort to investigate capital convictions would find.

An avalanche of evidence also exists showing that the death penalty is fundamentally racist in its application. Under almost any subdivision, ethnic minorities – especially African-Americans – are much more likely than whites to be condemned to die for similar crimes. Black killers of white victims are 16 times more likely to receive a death sentence than white killers of black victims, according to the DPIC. There is no “justice” in a justice system that so blithely murders the innocent and that is so open in its racism.

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger should follow the courageous lead of former Illinois Gov. George Ryan, once a death penalty supporter himself. By the year 2000, Illinois officials had exonerated more condemned prisoners than they had executed since the state reinstated the death penalty in 1977. Confronted with this shocking exposure of the justice system’s failures, Gov. Ryan commuted the sentences of all condemned prisoners and ordered a special commission to investigate the state’s system of capital punishment. Until the people of California can trust that not one innocent life will be extinguished – a moment that may never come, in my opinion – this state must get out of the business of killing.
8:41 pm est

Friday, March 18, 2005

Hell in a Handbasket

Friday, March 18, 2005

The past few months have been fast and furious in the world of national domestic politics. Having graduated and found a job I've had a lot more time to actually pay attention to it all. Thus I expect BISR to take on a more political bent, at least until opening day. I started writing about Social Security some three odd weeks ago, but the more I learn about it the more I want to say. Thus you'll have to wait for that one. Besides, Social Security will be a long-standing issue so it can wait few more days. So instead I bring you two stupid government decisions from the past week.

The first, and most recent, is the narrow approval given by congress to allow for oil drilling in the Alaskan wild life refuge. The idea behind this is that the US has become too dependant on foreign oil and this drilling will relax crude prices in US markets. Hogwash. The fact of the matter is that we Americans love our cars. While driving along yesterday the radio asked me if the AAA forecast of perpetual high gas prices would change my driving habits. The answer was no. The fact is that we'll get used to it. By the time any oil is found in the refuge and is able to be pumped and barreled we'll all have gotten used to paying 2.50 per gallon. The new oil entering the market won't necessarily cause a downturn in prices. Why should it? If people are willing to pay the price, why lower it when you can make gobs of money by keeping prices where they are? The drilling is based on two factors, and lower gas prices isn't one of them. The first is that Bush is an oil man who favors opening up economic opportunities for the rich (i.e. tax cuts for the top one percent). Second, caribou don't contribute much to the economy.

The second decision was made by the EPA and pertains to mercury emissions. At first glance it looks like a nice little rule that will reduce the amount of mercury emissions allowed by coal-fueled power plants. But there's a catch. With this administration there's always a catch. The catch is this, plants will be allowed to trade on their emission caps. This policy mirrors a similar provision on international emission trading allowed in the Kyoto agreement. So, suppose plant A doesn't want spend the money to upgrade its technology to meet the new standard, but plant B is already under the new emission cap. Plant A can by cap room from plant B and thus continue to release more mercury into the environment than is allowed by the new guidelines. The up shoot is that while nationwide emissions may drop, local emissions could stay the same or even rise. Flipper babies anyone?

The second thing about allowing plants to trade or sell emissions is that it creates a new market for Wall Street. European markets are starting to open up speculation in emission trading and it won't be long before it becomes a significant player in the US as well. The fact is that pollution, or the permission to pollute is becoming a commodity. It's a scary thought in and of itself, but scarier still to think that emissions which have been shown to cause cognitive defects in children will be making someone rich. It isn't hard to imagine a failing plant simply closing down and then selling it's long term pollution rights for the rest of time. The one positive I can see in the emission trading game would be this; if emissions become publicly traded environmental groups could by emissions rights and then refuse to sell them thereby pulling the right to pollute off the market. Of course this strategy could backfire if it becomes successful and drives the prices up to the point where only super rich companies can afford them. Still every little bit counts.

Everything this administration does seems geared towards making money for the rich and killing everyone else. Right now congress is debating cutting Medicaid for the poorest Americans while considering making the tax cuts for the richest permanent. The good people of the world have to take a stand. So I urge you loyal BISR readers, do something, write something, talk to someone, anyone, incite outrage, this crap must end. If it doesn't most of us are doomed.

Monday, March 14, 2005

An Open Letter to my Former Mother in Law

Dear Cathy,

Surprise. I hope you don’t mind me writing to you, I promise I won’t make a habit of it. I recently discovered that Liz has remarried. The news, though a bit of a shock, was not entirely surprising. Of course there was a part of me that was sad, but it was smaller part than I would have expected. Really there was but one word that popped into my mind; “why?” Not “why did she marry him,” it’s obvious that they are in love. Not, “why did we get divorced,” the reasons for that are plain as well. Rather, it was “why did she marry me in the first place?”

Even though Liz and I were in love during those years in LA she insisted that she never wanted to get married. It wasn’t until our move to DC was in the works that she decided to propose. It was here that things really began to unravel. I’m sure she’s told you horrible things about me which are only slightly exaggerated. I don’t want to get into mud slinging but I will say this, we weren’t good to each other here. We tried to solve our fears and our anxieties by being increasingly insensitive to each other’s needs. One of the issues I handled particularly poorly was her relationship with Luis. I saw him as a threat as soon as I knew of his existence. This was helped along by the fact that Liz told that he had expressed his love for her almost as soon as he had met her, that he had lamented at what a shame it was that she was getting married, that they were soul mates. As you can imagine I had strong reservations about their friendship. Though I trusted her, I never trusted him. I couldn’t understand why Liz would continue to be friends with him when he continued to say these things over the year leading up to our wedding. The obvious reason is that she was falling in love with him. Before the wedding I found emails between them that indicated a more intimate relationship than I thought was proper. Nothing physical mind you, just a much deeper level of friendship than I thought was safe for my relationship with Liz.

Things between Liz and I were deteriorating leading up to the wedding. I was filled with the feeling that Liz did not respect me, that she didn’t believe in what I was doing with my life. I felt that her heart wasn’t in it any more. So now I come back to my question, why? Why did she go through with it? Surely she knew that she had fallen out of love with me. Surely she knew that her feelings for Luis were stronger than mere friendship. The thing is that our problems were pretty much the same in the months leading up to the ceremony as they were a few weeks or a few days before. They were the same problems we had in the months that followed. Why did she lie about her relationship with him? She continued to lie even after I’d found the pictures of them together. When I first confronted her with the evidence she was contrite, so much so that I thought that this horrible discovery could lead to our reconciliation. After that one night, when she kissed me like my wife and we both wept and held each other, after that one night she denied her relationship with him. She denied that anything was going on, or had gone on, or would go on. So why did she do it? How much pain could we all have been spared if she’d never stood up there and made those vows? I don’t fault Liz for leaving me. These things happen. Maybe Luis really is her soul mate. I fault her for not leaving me sooner. I fault her for leaving me with this hole in my life, this void that was created not because she left, but because she stayed too long.

So why am writing you? I’m writing to ask you what you think. I am writing to ask if you know why, if she ever told you why. You must have asked. Of course I don’t expect you to betray your daughter’s confidence; particularly not to me. But I am hoping that you still harbor some compassion for me. I am hoping that you can find words that do not betray your familial responsibility. I would ask her these things, but she wouldn’t answer me. Or if she did, she would answer me with spite rather than with honesty. I’m writing because you’re her mother. You’re also the one person in her family most likely to respond. Of course I’ll understand if you don’t reply.

As far as other formalities, I am currently living in Maryland, I’m working in my field for an agency that contracts primarily with the government. The pay is decent and the work is interesting, though I recently requested that I not be placed on any more assignments for the military. I can no longer interpret for the military even peripherally without feeling like I’m contributing to the war effort. I’m still writing, both online and magazine articles and research. My goal is to submit my first research paper for peer review some time in the next couple months. I’ve been playing rugby for a team in DC and my name was mentioned in Rugby Magazine as part of an article on a tournament we played in New York this past December.

I hope things are well with you and your family. I don’t know if it’s proper for me to send them my regards, but if anyone ever wonders I wish them all the best. Thank you for everything you’ve done.


Sunday, March 6, 2005

Take Us Out to the Ball Game

Despite my best efforts there are still some of you who don’t believe in the power of baseball. There are some of you who just don’t see the beauty in it. So today I will divest myself of the task of trying to convince you and turn it over to people far smarter and more eloquent than myself. Thus I present to you some of the greatest quotes ever made about the American pastime. The quotes below are not all from ballplayers, and they are not about specific games or events, rather they are quotes about the game and how it fits into the American landscape. Hopefully I’ll win a few converts here. If not, then I hope I at least entertain you.


“You see, you spend a good piece of your life gripping a baseball, and in the end it turns out that it was the other way around all the time.” -Jim Bouton, former MLB player and author of "Ball Four"

“I don't know why people like the home run so much. A home run is over as soon as it starts.... The triple is the most exciting play of the game. A triple is like meeting a woman who excites you, spending the evening talking and getting more excited, then taking her home. It drags on and on. You're never sure how it's going to turn out.” -George Foster, former player

“I believe in the Church of Baseball. I've tried all the major religions, and most of the minor ones. I've worshipped Buddha, Allah, Brahma, Vishnu, Siva, trees, mushrooms, and Isadora Duncan. I know things. For instance, there are 108 beads in a Catholic rosary and there are 108 stitches in a baseball. When I heard that, I gave Jesus a chance. But it just didn't work out between us. The Lord laid too much guilt on me. I prefer metaphysics to theology. You see, there's no guilt in baseball, and it's never boring... which makes it like sex. There's never been a ballplayer slept with me who didn't have the best year of his career. Making love is like hitting a baseball: you just gotta relax and concentrate. Besides, I'd never sleep with a player hitting under .250... not unless he had a lot of RBIs and was a great glove man up the middle. You see, there's a certain amount of life wisdom I give these boys. I can expand their minds. Sometimes when I've got a ballplayer alone, I'll just read Emily Dickinson or Walt Whitman to him, and the guys are so sweet, they always stay and listen. 'Course, a guy'll listen to anything if he thinks it's foreplay. I make them feel confident, and they make me feel safe, and pretty. 'Course, what I give them lasts a lifetime; what they give me lasts 142 games. Sometimes it seems like a bad trade. But bad trades are part of baseball -- now who can forget Frank Robinson for Milt Pappas, for God's sake? It's a long season and you gotta trust. I've tried 'em all, I really have, and the only church that truly feeds the soul, day in, day out, is the Church of Baseball. “ -Annie Savoy, Bull Durham

“Say this much for big league baseball - it is beyond question the greatest conversation piece ever invented in America.” -Bruce Catton

“A good friend of mine used to say, "This is a very simple game. You throw the ball, you catch the ball, you hit the ball. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains." Think about that for a while.” -Nuke Laloosh, Bull Durham

“Walt Whitman once said, "I see great things in baseball. It's our game, the American game. It will repair our losses and be a blessing to us." You could look it up. “ -Annie Savoy

“I see great things in baseball. It's our game - the American game. It will take our people out-of-doors, fill them with oxygen, give them a larger physical stoicism. It tends to relieve us from being a nervous, dyspeptic set, repair these losses, and be a blessing to us.” -Walt Whitman (Allegedly)

“You get out there, and the stands are full and everybody's cheerin'. It's like everybody in the world come to see you. And inside of that there's the players, they're yakkin' it up. The pitcher throws and you look for that pill... suddenly there's nothing else in the ballpark but you and it. Sometimes, when you feel right, there's a groove there, and the bat just eases into it and meets that ball. When the bat meets that ball and you feel that ball just give, you know it's going to go a long way. Damn, if you don't feel like you're going to live forever.” -John Cusak as Buck Weaver, Eight men Out

“Regardless of the verdict of juries... no player who throws a ball game... no player who undertakes, or promises to throw a game... no player who sits in conference with a bunch of crooked players and gamblers where the ways and means of throwing a ball game are discussed, and does not promptly tell his club about it... will ever play professional baseball again.” -Kenesaw Mountain Landis regarding the Black Sox scandal

“People ask me what I do in winter when there's no baseball. I'll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.” -Rogers Hornsby, former player

“No game in the world is as tidy and dramatically neat as baseball, with cause and effect, crime and punishment, motive and result, so cleanly defined.” -Paul Gallico

“It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone.” -Bart Giamatti, former MLB commissioner and father of actor Paul Giamatti

“Baseball is almost the only orderly thing in a very unorderly world. If you get three strikes, even the best lawyer in the world can't get you off.” -Bill Veeck, former baseball executive

“You can't sit on a lead and run a few plays into the line and just kill the clock. You've got to throw the ball over the goddamn plate and give the other man his chance. That's why baseball is the greatest game of them all.” -Earl Weaver, former MLB manager

“The strongest thing that baseball has going for it today are its yesterdays.” -Lawrence Ritter

“Baseball, to me, is still the national pastime because it is a summer game. I feel that almost all Americans are summer people, that summer is what they think of when they think of their childhood. I think it stirs up an incredible emotion within people.” -Steve Busby

“I don't love baseball. I don't love most of today's players. I don't love the owners. I do love, however, the baseball that is in the heads of baseball fans. I love the dreams of glory of 10-year-olds, the reminiscences of 70-year-olds. The greatest baseball arena is in our heads, what we bring to the games, to the telecasts, to reading newspaper reports.” -Stan Isaacs

“Well, you know I... I never got to bat in the major leagues. I would have liked to have had that chance. Just once. To stare down a big league pitcher. To stare him down, and just as he goes into his windup, wink. Make him think you know something he doesn't. That's what I wish for. Chance to squint at a sky so blue that it hurts your eyes just to look at it. To feel the tingling in your arm as you connect with the ball. To run the bases - stretch a double into a triple, and flop face-first into third, wrap your arms around the bag. That's my wish, Ray Kinsella. That's my wish.” -Moonlight Graham, Field of Dreams

“Baseball, it is said, is only a game. True. And the Grand Canyon is only a hole in Arizona.” -George F. Will

“Spread the diaper in the position of the diamond with you at bat. Then fold second base down to home and set the baby on the pitcher's mound. Put first base and third together, bring up home plate and pin the three together. Of course, in case of rain, you gotta call the game and start all over again.” -Jimmy Piersal

“Hating the New York Yankees is as American as apple pie, unwed mothers and cheating on your income tax.” -Mike Royoko

“This is a game to be savored, not gulped. There's time to discuss everything between pitches or between innings.” -Bill Veeck

“They'll pass over the money without even thinking about it: for it is money they have and peace they lack. And they'll walk out to the bleachers; sit in shirtsleeves on a perfect afternoon. They'll find they have reserved seats somewhere along one of the baselines, where they sat when they were children and cheered their heroes. And they'll watch the game and it'll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick they'll have to brush them away from their faces. People will come Ray. The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it's a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again. Oh... people will come Ray. People will most definitely come.” -Terrance Mann, field of Dreams

“Love is the most important thing in the world, but baseball is pretty good too.” -Yogi Berra

Wednesday, March 2, 2005

Texas is Full of Assholes

Today the Supreme Court ruled that the death penalty could not be given to minors. The surprise here is that the ruling was needed. 30 of the 50 states have already banned the death penalty for minors. According to NPR News, in 1990 there were 10 countries that allowed the death penalty for minors. Before today there was only one. The case that came before the court was indeed particularly heinous. It was a case involving a then 17 year old male who, during a burglary, was recognized by the home owner, taped her eyes and mouth shut, bound her, drove her to a rail road trestle, and threw her to her death. He was then tried as an adult and given the death penalty. There are several issues involved when considering the issue of whether to execute juveniles who commit particularly violent crimes. First of course is the question of whether state sponsored execution is moral to begin with. This fundamental question is followed by the questions of how we treat minors in other facets of society, and finally, why we prosecute crime and administer the death penalty all.

The big issue, the one that has sparked debate in this country for at least as long as I’ve been alive (and I’m sure longer than that) is whether the death penalty is appropriate at all. My personal views on this issue have changed over time. As a young man I believed in the eye-for-an-eye tenor of the death penalty. After all, it’s only fair right? Later I believed that the death penalty should only be administered if the family of the victim was willing to do the deed themselves. Indeed, I even conceived of a big game style hunt to carry out the task. Later still I believed that death row inmates were a drain on the general society and that they should be executed on the spot, directly after sentencing in order to save taxpayer money that was being wasted keeping them on death row for decades while they used their appeals. Over the last few years I’ve had many debates with many people about the death penalty, and they’ve swayed me. Then I did some research. The thing that really turned me against the death penalty was an episode of the nationally syndicated radio program, “This American Life” which aired on February 11th, 2005. The episode is devoted to the story of a man who, despite forensic evidence, eye witness testimony, and the fact that the police had the real killer in custody, was given the death penalty in the state of New York. The episode, titled “DIY”, can be heard at Don’t get me wrong, I think that people who commit violent crime should be dealt with harshly, but the more I read, the more I heard, the more convinced I became that putting the decision to kill in the hands of the government was too inexact a science. When you add in the yokels that make up most juries it becomes too horrible to think about some being sentenced to die by a jury of their peers. I’ll tell you, if I were ever facing the prospect of state sponsored death a jury of my peers is the last thing I’d want. I’d want twelve people way smarter and more compassionate than me. The fact is that people are wrongly convicted all the time. Witnesses lie, cops follow their prejudices or their desire more than they follow evidence, and often testimony or evidence that would clear a defendant are ignored, or never heard. Basically, the death penalty is a bad idea. It doesn’t deter crime, it doesn’t bring closure to families that still have to mourn their loved ones, and there’s just too much risk of getting it horribly wrong.

The idea of applying the death penalty to minors is even more horrific. The US generally recognizes 18 as the age of adulthood. It is the age when you can vote, have sex legally, marry without parental consent and go off to die in Iraq. (Remember, if you’re a male you have to sign up for the draft at 18 if you want to be eligible for federal student aid. Even though they say there isn’t going to be a draft, and even though you’ll likely be exempted from the draft if you’re enrolled in a degree-seeking program. Ignacio, I’m talking to you!) According to both law and custom a person who is 17 years and 364 days old is incapable of making any of these kinds of decisions on their own. So, is there some magic of biology that occurs at 18 that gives one the ability to make calm rational decisions about life? Have any of you ever been 18? Hell, I’m 28 and I’m just now starting to make calm rational decisions. The fact is that no one suddenly becomes responsible at 18. Some people are responsible at birth, others are never responsible no matter how old they get.

So what’s the point? The point is that kids are fucked up. They live in a fucked up world, in a fucked up country, with a fucked up government, elected by a fucked up society. Sure, it’s OK for us adults, we can cope, but remember high school? Now add mixed messages about sex (it sells, but it’s bad), drugs (drugs are BAD! Now take your Zoloft and Ritalin, and Cialis), politics (Marriage is good, but only for a man and a woman, ignore your divorced parents and that happy gay couple down the block who have been together for 20 years), individuality (be yourself, as long as yourself conforms to all school policies), etc. If you think it was bad when you were a kid, it’s way worse now. The point is that there are certain personality disorders that psychiatrists are prohibited from diagnosing in minors because the kids are still developing. The point is that minors are far more likely to be swayed by group interaction. There’s even a term for it, Peer…something. It’s all the rage.

It seems that juveniles being tried as adults is becoming more common as America becomes more fed up with increasing and increasingly violent crimes being perpetrated by minors. I’m not suggesting that a 17 year old doesn’t know that killing is wrong. What I’m suggesting is that the whole idea of it isn’t as developed. I’m horrified at the thought of violence in a way that I wasn’t even a couple of years ago. When I was 17 I could watch anything Hollywood was willing to put on a screen. Now when I hear about people stepping on land mines, or being torn apart by car bombs, of beaten with blunt objects it affects me physically. There’s a reason we don’t let minors do all the things we don’t let minors do, we don’t trust them. We know what it’s like to be a kid and we know that we cannot entrust them with certain responsibilities. So how can we decide to kill them?

In his decent one of the judges noted that we allow minors to make decisions about abortion without parental consent. He asked how we could entrust them such an important decision when at the same time we say that they cannot be held responsible for making the grown up decision to kill. This question is flawed in that it is based on false pretenses. In order for it to be valid we must first accept that abortion is an adult decision. It’s not. Especially in the case of minors abortion is often a way out trouble caused by making an immature decision. We allow minors to do this without their parent’s knowledge because abortion is a traumatic and stressful experience that doesn’t need to be compounded with punishment and possible life long family stress. Second, if are to accept this as a valid question then we must also accept that the decision to kill is a mature decision. It is not. The decision to kill is childish. Those who kill in a fit of rage, or during the commission of another crime do so because they are not mature enough to do otherwise. The kind of anger that leads to spontaneous murder is infantile. Crime, in and of itself is immature. The decision to rob or extort is arrived at because the perpetrator cannot see, or is unwilling to undertake a mature and responsible course in the order to achieve their goals. One could argue that any otherwise rational person who commits homicide could not possibly be mature enough to understand the full effect of their actions. It seems impossible that anyone who fully grasps the impact of committing murder could not possibly go through with it. Conversely, anyone who is capable of fully grasping the effect of murder and still go through with it must be insane, and therefore also ineligible for the death penalty. Indeed, murder can be seen as the ultimate immature crime, the instant removal of a perceived obstacle. If this is the case then how can we condemn to death a juvenile who acts in exactly the role society has cast them in?

This is not to say that society bears sole responsibility in creating child killers, though we should examine why this is much more of a modern phenomenon. Nor should juvenile killers skate simply because they were under age at the commission of their crimes. Anyone who takes a life in cold blood, whether spontaneously, or through conspiracy, should be locked away from society. However, in a nation where we cannot accurately assign the death penalty to adults, how can we even debate assigning it to children?

Sunday, January 30, 2005

This called The Show

OK, I was going to let this go, but a co-worker recently brought up Doug Brien’s missed opportunity to send the Jets back to the AFC Championship Game. Here’s the thing, of course Brien should have made those field goals, but either Herm Edwards, or Paul Hackett should have tried to get him closer for that first FG attempt. After all, once they got within 47 yards the Jets didn’t make any serious attempts to get any closer. Therefore I blame the coaching staff for setting Dougie up to fail. This isn’t the first time Dougie has been set up to take the fall for other people’s shortcomings. Hence, in defense of a good player I present an article that first appeared on this site in October of ’03. This one’s for you Dougie…

Owen Pochman is out (thank goodness) and the Niners will now turn to Todd Peterson to solve a kicking game that has been in flux since, well, since Ray Wersching left in 1987. Since then they have had adequate guys like Mike Cofer, Doug Brien, and Wade Richey. Some very good kickers like Jeff Wilkins and Gary Anderson. But mostly they have had spectacular flops, Jose “Clown Shoes” Cortez, Tony “El Bouquero” Zendejas, Jeff “Really? A 4th Round Draft Pick?” Chandler, and now, Owen “Cut by the Giants” Pochman.

Pochman missed 3 field goals last week in a game won by the 49er defense. This week he missed two more as the 49ers lost in OT to the hapless Arizona Cardinals. Now Pochman is out and SF will bring in Peterson hoping that last years 57.1 FG% was an aberration. While Peterson may help in the short term the 49ers kicking problems run much deeper and will not be solved without a change in organizational philosophy. Basically the 49ers have never cared about kickers, since the glory years began having a good kicker was considered a luxury not worth the expense.

This was fine when SF had Montana, Craig, Rice, Solomon, Clark, Young, Watters, Taylor, Jones, Frank, an great O-line and an all pro defense. Back when John Madden was calling out “Sooooo many weapons” and the Niners were in the NFC championship game year after year. But this is a different team in a different era. Dennis Erickson has not lived up to his promise to “open up the offense.” The O-line is shaky and SF is having trouble scoring points. This team that is not going to blow people away like they did during the stretch between ’81 and ’97. This is a team that needs to scratch out wins the way Carolina is with John Kasay (career FG% 80.1, 17/17 this year).

SF has made some terrible decisions with its kickers, here is brief over view:

Name Year Career% %When Cut Post SF Career
Ray Wersching ‘77-‘87 67.5 76.5 Retired in 1987
Jeff Backhaus 1987 50.0 50.0 Subbed for Wersching, never played in NFL again
Mike Cofer ’88-‘93 66.2 61.5 44.4% for Indy in 1995
Doug Brien ’94-95 80.5 88.2 Current 88.9% with NYJ
Tony Zendejas 1995 73.5 42.9 Never played again.
Jeff Wilkins ’95-96 80.2 88.2 Went to rival Rams and won a Super Bowl
Gary Anderson 1997 80.1 80.6 92.9% for Tennessee in ’03
Wade Richey ‘98-‘’99 72.4 68.2 Currently 1/1 with Baltimore
Jose Cortez ‘00-’02 71.9 75.0 With Minn. no FG attempts this year.
Jeff Chandler ’02-’03 73.7 85.7 Out of football
Owen Pochman 2003 47.1 53.3 Out of football
Todd Peterson 2003 77.8
(During this time they also cut Ryan Longwell and his career 81.1%)

Some analysis on the above list shows that the Niners had a decent run of kickers from the middle of 1995 through the end of 1997 which was also the end of the Niners great run (lost NFC Championship to Green Bay). Since then the Niners have suffered through salary cap hell and the premature retirement of Steve Young. But their inability and unwillingness to resign good kickers has cost them games over the years. They didn’t want to spend the money to resign Wilkins or Anderson. They ran out of patience with Chandler who was kicking well when he was cut. Brien was made the scapegoat for a slow start in 1995 when the real problem was that SF tried to replace Ricky Watters with Derek Loville. In both cases the quick hooks cost them games. They brought in Zendejas in ’95 who lasted three games and went 3-7 with 3 blocks (he was also 1-3 on PATs). This year they cut Chandler in favor of a guy who brought in a career FG% of 47.1.
If SF ever again finds a reliable kicker they need to keep him. Consistency is good, from 1981 through 1994 SF had three regular kickers. Since then they have had eight. If SF had a consistent kicker at this point they would be a least 4-4 (if not better) and still be in the hunt in the NFC. As it is they face a huge up hill fight to make the playoffs. You can overlook special teams when you’re rolling over fools to the tune of 42 point per game. When you fall back to the pack however, you need good special teams, coverage, returns, and kicks. After all, as good as the Pats were in ’01 it was Adam Vinatieri (career 81.7%) who won the game for them.

Friday, January 28, 2005

"Can Music Save Your Mortal Soul?"

I started writing this as a self-pitying year-in-review taking stock of my sad, sad 2004. Then I realized that would be a bunch of bullshit. Instead I hit upon something infinitely more important about 2004 than my depression over getting older. You my gentle reader have been faithfully reading about all the things that piss me off for about a year and half now, so today I've decided to expound upon some of the things I actually liked in 2004.

 The inspiration for this radical new line of thought was brought about, in part, by one the things I liked in 2004, a book called "Planet Simpson," a postmodern deconstruction of the TV show "The Simpsons." The important thing in this discussion is something almost totally unrelated to the overall subject of the book. For now I'll concentrate on something from the last chapter. In a section entitled "The Rebirth of Sincerity" the author writes about the exact moment when he regained his faith in rock n' roll. Prior to this point in his life the author details how the cynicism of youth culture in the 1990s had pretty much consumed his entire being. In his mind rock was "played out." He then goes on to describe how he regained his faith in rock n' roll.

This resonated with me as I had been going through the same rock malaise since 1994. As you may recall that was the year Kurt Cobain decided that being Kurt Cobain was played out. With Nirvana gone a whole horde of whiney-Wallflower-Bush-crappy-McCrap rock rushed in to fill the void. Ever since then my relationship with rock n' roll had stagnated into an adoring love for all the songs I loved during high school mixed in with an occasional single from a current band. At no time in the decade between then and now did I feel the need to rush out and buy an entire album from any one rock band.

Now, allow me to be not one bit original or insightful. Here's the thing, I don't know about music the way, say, my friend, and former contributor here,  Daniel knows about music. I know what I like, and, except for a few isolated singles most of what I like was released prior to 1996. That changed in 2004. The past year was the best year in music since 1991, which saw the release of Nevermind, Blood Sugar Sex Magic, and The Low End Theory (along with Metallica's Black Album). 2004 finally saw the release of three very good rock albums:

-Jet: Get Born:

The Rolling Stones can go ahead and retire. Remember back when everyone said that Oasis were the next Beatles? Uh, where's Oasis been the past few years? Yeah, that's what I thought. If anyone has assumed the mantle from the rock bands of the 60s and 70s it's Jet. The problem with Oasis is that they were pretentious. They set out to be the next Beatles, they believed they were the next Beatles, they were decidedly, NOT, the next Beatles.

Jet however has done exactly what I, as a rock fan, want, an unpretentious rock album, an album without any real message, an album that is not intended to shock people, or make them think, or any of the other BS things that bands try to work into their albums. This is an album that simply rocks. This is the album, in particular the first single "Are You Gonna Be My Girl," that restored my faith in rock n' roll. Topics covered on the album include women who are, by turns, unattainable, unreachable, and evil, bad DJs, and general RnR malaise. In other words, they cover all the old rock standards.

The band also produced two of the best rock videos of the past decade, for "Are You Gonna Be My Girl" and "Look What You've Done." I simply can't stress enough how great it is to finally here a band that's not overly poppy, or whiney, or any of the other crappy adjectives that can be placed upon most of the crap that has passed itself off as rock and roll since Kurt killed himself.

-Greenday: American Idiot:

I spent a long time trying to figure out why this was such a good album. In the dark years after '94, after Green Day's "Dookie" was released I had a lot of hope that this would be the band to shine through and take over where Nirvana left off. Then that stupid "Time of Your Life" song found it's way into every TV show in the Western Hemisphere. I remember watching NBC one night and hearing that song on three shows back-to-back-to-back. At that moment Green Day went from being a slightly disappointing band, to an object of down right scorn.

All that has changed. "American Idiot" is a great, let me repeat, great rock album on sooo many levels. First off it's an overt return to politically based anti-establismentary punk. I don't know if Green Day has been inserting political messages into their albums all along, I do know that their singles haven't had anything like the edge that "American Idiot" has. The album, like the title song, rails against the powers that be, and have been for the past few years. There's an awesome send up of the Governator on the third track "Holiday." The last voice begins with an intercom type announcement that "The representative form California has the floor." The next few lines take the piss out of both Bush and Ahnold,

Sieg Hail to the President Gas Man
Bombs away is your punishment
Pulverize the Eiffel Towers
that criticize your government

And it goes on like this throughout the whole album. The radical thing is not that a band, or anyone else, would speak out against the idiocy of the US government, or the media, the radical thing is that it would come from a band that has such a strong history of making commercial pop-punk. That is, we're used to rebellion from the counter culture segments of the population, but rarely does a band with something to lose put out a statement this strong. That's why the call of rebellion in this album hits as hard as it does, because it comes from people who don't need to use it as a device, it comes from those who have already "made it" and are now risking rebuke from those that gave them their position.

But rebellion and angst are only a small part of why this album rocks. The album is actually a concept piece. It tells the story of St. Jimmy, The Jesus of Suburbia, and a girl they call Whatsername. The album tells a story in a very loose sense. There's no real clear narrative. Instead the album guides the listener through an emotional pseudo-story that, like a film noir project, is meant to leave the audience with the experience of a feeling rather than a coherent story. The album sounds like a soundtrack to a play that doesn't exist, which it kind of is. However, the fact that the album is being fleshed out into a Broadway show is irrelevant. The point is, in an era of good musicals also standing as good rock albums (Hedwig, Rent), Green Day has put out a solid rock album that should do well as a musical. It's this interplay that allows Green Day to escape their stripped down power trio roots while maintaining a solid punk sensibility that was missing from their later over produced mass-market schlock.

I'm not doing this album justice. Buy it, or better yet, steal it, listen to it a few dozen times, then get back to me.

-Killers: Hot Fuss

Anyone else miss Depeche Mode or New Order? Well, the Killers aren't really like them, but they're like a bastard love child of punk and new wave. They're album, which includes the singles "Mr. Brightside" and "Somebody Told Me," is another one that makes over produced punk sound cutting edge rather than just commercial. I really don't have as much to say about this album as I did with the previous two. It pretty much just rocks

So there it is, 2004, the year that saved rock. I know there are other good albums that came out but many of these (To The 5 Boroughs to name one) came from groups that have been putting out a consistently good product forever. Instead I wanted to focus on the bands that surprised me and restored my faith in an art form.

Also deserving mention:
-Franz Ferdinand: Take Me Out
-Maroon 5: This Love (I know it's cheesy but it helped me through a tough time.)
-Modest Mouse: Float On
-My Chemical Romance: I'm Not OK
-Velvet Revolver: Slither (So GnR yet So STP, let's have some peanut butter cups.)

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Dallas vs. Dynasty

OK, the super bowl is set and SR has a few things to say. First of all, Jim Mora Jr. knows that he still has Michael Vick on his team right? Atlanta should have carved up that Philly defense but they only used Vick to his true abilities when it was predictable, or on busted plays. Vick is the most exciting player since Barry Sanders, but only when you allow him to do what only he can do. Barry used to lead the league in yards lost, but he’d also lead the league in yards gained. The point is you have to take the bad to get the good. By playing so conservatively in the first half Atlanta put themselves in a bad situation, instead of Vick being unpredictable and maddening Philly knew exactly when and where he would try his trickery.

That said Philly played very well. The great thing is that they did it without TO. Don’t get me wrong, TO is a great player, and I rode him like Zorro in my fantasy league, but, in the end I, like the Eagles, had to find a way to get it done without TO. Andy Reid drew up a great game plan the last two weeks but, Freddie Mitchell’s “great” hands not withstanding, the Iggles won on a couple of lucky bounces last week. Now I’m left to wonder whether TO will help or hurt his team if he can come back for the big game.

Not that I think it will make any real difference. The Pats look as good as ever and I expect them to win it all. Sure, last week I thought that Manning and Co. would roll into Foxboro and sprint on to Pittsburg. Sure I said that a scheme can’t win without the players to carry it out and that the time had come for the New England secondary to finally not only be exposed, but exploited. But I was wrong. Around the middle of the third quarter last week I decided that Belichick IS the next Walsh and that my money’s on the Pats to win until they lose. After Pitt escaped last week’s game against the Jets and Big Ben looked like the rookie he really is, I knew there was no way the Steelers could win.

So, if the Pats win what is their legacy? A lot of people are starting to throw around the word “dynasty.” During the broadcast yesterday Chris Collinsworth mentioned that when asked about dynasties Belichick mentioned the Dallas teams of the early 90s. Those teams won three titles in four years, which is exactly what the Pats are trying to do, so it’s apt that Belichick would choose them as his example of a dynasty. I disagree. Those Cowboy teams were very good, great even, but they were no dynasty. “But SR, if the Cowboys run doesn’t make a dynasty what does?” I’m glad you asked.

A dynasty requires both winning and longevity. Both the Cowboys of the 90s, and these Pats, if they win the Super Bowl, have the winning, sort of. In order to be a dynasty I think you need to match the title total of the NFL’s first modern dynasty, the four Super Bowls won by the Steelers in the 1970’s. During their dominant stretch (1972-1984) the Steelers won their division 10 times, went to the playoffs 11 times and played in 7 AFC Championships. Still, in order to define a true dynasty you must look at the single greatest dynasty in NFL history, the San Francisco Forty Niners. Even if you mark their run only from the start to the end of their championship years you are looking at 14 years at or near the top of the league. If you include the fact that they lost the 1997 NFC Championship Game their legacy spans 17 years of dominance, nearly two decades as the team to beat in the NFC. During those 17 years SF won their division 13 times, went to the playoffs 15 times, played in 10 NFC Championships, and was the first team to win 5 Super Bowls. No other team has ever had that much success for so long. Even in the lean years, 1998-2004, SF made the playoffs three times, including the second biggest comeback victory in NFL playoff history.

Want more? Too bad, it’s my web site and I’ll Rant if I want to. Going back to the original dynasty, the Steelers won two titles in the first half of the 1970s, and then two in the second fitting them to the criteria of both winning and longevity. The Niners won their championships over an extended period of time becoming the team of the 80s. This is a very important factor. Even if you toss out the ‘94 season the Niners won four titles over nine years with one repeat. They never went more than three years without a title. By contrast, the Cowboys of the early 90s won three tiles in four years, but none after 1995. In my mind this makes them the team of the first half of the nineties, but not a dynasty. This is the mold from which the current Patriots may be cast. If they win this title they will be a very good team that has had a short run of incredible brilliance. Of course they still need to win the Super Bowl this year, and even then they won’t be as good as those Cowboy teams for the fact that between titles the Boys lost to the Niners in the NFC championship Game, between titles the Pats missed the playoffs.

So what needs to happen for the Pats to become a dynasty? Well, they’ll need to win on Feb. 6th, and they’ll have to win at least won more time after that. That fourth win can come any time, but if it comes in 2006 or 2007 so much the better. In the meantime the Pats would have to win their division and make it deep into the playoffs in the years they don’t win it all. If they can keep up this kind of pace for next two or three years I’ll be willing to call them a dynasty.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Deja Vu

Monday, January 10, 2005

Hmmm, I feel like I just wrote this column. Sure, it was two years ago, and sure, I only wrote it in email format to a few friends. Still I feel like I just had this conversation and that the sentiment hasn't changed much. Some of the names are different (Pete Carroll), and some are the same (Romeo Crenel), but basically the list of guys I don't want is longer than the list of those I do want.

Here's a brief recap on my conversation with DMJ on this very topic in January of 2003.

From: SR Subj: Head Coach
Here are some names I've heard that I think could work out for the 49ers:
Lovie Smith (Rams D-coordinator)
Ray Rhodes (Broncos D-coordinator)
Rick Neuheisel (U of Washington head coach)
Jim Tressel (U of Ohio head coach)

Names I've heard that I don't like:
Dennis Green
Tom Coughlin
Ted Tollner (SF QB's coach)
Mike Riley (Former SD head coach)
Ted Cottrell (Jets D-coordinator)
Jim Mora Jr.

Dark Horse???:
Willie Shaw (Vikes D-coordinator)
Terry Donahue
June Jones (U of Hawaii head coach)

When Hell Freezes:
Jim Mora Sr.
Marv Levy
Wade Phillips
Art Shell
Mike White
Joe Bugal
Barry Switzer

From: SR Re: Head Coach
Jimmy Johnson?

From: DMJ Subj: Dumb
Glenn Dickey said in today's Chron that Neuheisel would take the job if the team offered it, despite his denials. Apparently him and Donahue have some (good) history. Erickson would be a disaster.

From: SR Re: Dumb
And dumber...

49ers comfortable with Erickson hiring
Noooooooooooooo!!!!!........... Erickson WILL be a disaster. ESPN reported that Neuheisel said he had not been contacted, nor was he interested. May the spirits of Frankie Albert and Vic Morabito save us all.

From: DMJ Re: Dumb
I don't know who those people are. Explain, please. For some reason, I
didn't watch the news last night, nor this morning.

From: SR Re: Dumb
I'm going to assume you mean you don't know Albert and Morabito. (You better know Ricky, Ricky can't stand people not knowing Ricky.) Vic Morabito was Eddie D before Eddie D. He was the founding owner of the 49ers back in 1946. He tried to get an NFL team but was rebuffed and so he helped found the AAFC. He paid players well and loved the game. Frankie Albert was Steve Young before Steve was. Back when QB's threw less and ran more Albert threw a lot. He was the first star QB in SF. People mention Montana, Young and now maybe Garcia, but they forget about Albert, Tittle, and Plunkett...and Steve Deberg. Roger Craig? How about Hugh MacElhenny, Joe Perry, and John Henry Johnson? Along with Albert they formed "The Million Dollar Backfield" in an era when if four player's salaries added up to a million dollars it was big news. So there you go, your 49ers history lesson for today. There will be one comprehensive final at the end of the semester.

OK so that kind of went off on a tangent. The point is that I was wrong about Neuhiesel, he would have been a disaster also. I was right about Ericsson tough. The guy I liked, Lovie Smith, is now the HC in Chicago, Green, Coughlin, and Mora Jr. all have other HC jobs too. Cotrell is back in the mix, Donahue is out, and the rest of the names are out dated and not worth discussing.

So, here we are, two years and a world of talent away from 2003. For the record I still hope they call Jimmy Johnson. I know he's old, and we all still remember him for his 63-3 playoff loss in his last game, but maybe he's reenergized now. OK, back to reality, let's see who's out there...

First off, "owner" John York said he wants to look for a "proven, winning NFL coach," which would seem to rule out the man who seems to have grabbed the headlines recently, USC HC Pete Carroll. Good old Pete, the D-coordinator for the Niners last championship. The thing is, Carroll, like Ericsson, is a great college coach who has totally bombed as an NFL head coach. Prior to 1994 Carroll was fired by the Jets; and afterward he was fired by the Pats. Still, Carroll is currently the hot guy even though he says he's not interested. "Not interested" is the same thing Neuhiesel said around the time of his secret interview. Carroll should stay at USC. He's been very good there. He should not ever leave USC. Ever. He should retire after that job. At the very least he should never go back to the NFL.

The sad thing is that the landscape is very bleak right now. There are no hot coaching candidates. I can't even come up with a good list of who I don't want. And my list of who I would want is exactly two, Johnson and the guy the Niners can't get and never should have let go, Steve Marriuci. I think the Dolphins got the only real viable college guy and the list of coordinators is uninspiring. Romeo Crenel seems to have the inside track, but who knows how he'd do as the top guy? So, here is my please, please God no list in no particular order, including guys who haven't been officially mentioned:

-Pete Carroll
-Dave Wandstat
-Greg Williams
-Wade Phillips
-Ray Rhodes
-Jim Fassel
-Dan Reeves

Other than that there are two coaches that are at least a little bit interesting. Mike Holmgren, who still hasn't shown that he can win without Brett Favre, and Raven's D coordinator Mike Nolan who is the son of former SF head coach Dick Nolan. Both men have SF ties, which is nice. Holmgren brings a pedigree that includes a Super Bowl win, and ties to the Bill Walsh era. Nolan brings a good defensive mindset and by being an unknown won't have to face the same kind of pressure the other candidates may face.