Thursday, May 31, 2007
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
So Kobe has asked to be traded; besides the bizarre fact that he announced on the Stephen A. Smith show, it's not all that surprising that the situation has gotten to this point. The Lakers front office has been a mess, and it was only a matter of time before leaks started blaming Kobe for the team's position. So, you have arguably the best player in basketball on the market.
Who makes the deal for him? There has been talk of a deal with Chicago involving Luol Deng and Ben Gordon; they would probably have to involve Ben Wallace to make the money work, and it would be interesting to see if LA threw in anyone else. LA has another big bargaining chip in Andrew Bynum, who a lot of people in the league like; he's young and was playing reasonably well at the beginning of the season.
It should be an interesting summer though, to see how quickly this gets resolved, and whether Kobe is still a Laker when training camp rolls around.
Monday, May 28, 2007
Ok, if you haven't seen this, you really need to. Anytime someone can go on a five minute riff about Hot Pockets it is something special. The main reason I am posting this is because I was drunk last night and had at least a 20 minute discussion with someone about the cover of the hot pockets box. Yeah, we're winners.
1) I give YES credit for pointing out the drop in Moose's velocity, even from last year. His fastball seems to have dropped a good 5-6 MPH, which makes his off-speed stuff...well, not so offspeed. I don't have a good grasp of his peripherals, but something is not right with him, and if his velocity doesn't improve...well, we're looking at the end of a solid career coming much faster than people would have guessed.
2) It cracks me up that all of a sudden people have begun "noticing" Kevin Youkulis. The stathead community has been a believer in him since his minor league days with the Sox, when he was the "Greek God of Walks." Of course, the attention has largely been due to his high batting average, that most overused of statistics in the mainstream media. One would like to think that, while looking at his average, people will gain an appreciation of the other things he does offensively, and will learn to appreciate other high-value guys like him. But, then again, that would be asking a bit too much.
3) My biggest worry with this season isn't that the Yankees will miss the playoffs. If they do, it will be disappointing, and something will probably get broken, but it's not the end of the universe. It's not that the Yanks will fire Joe Torre; again, it would be upsetting, but that time will come eventually. No, the biggest worry is that the team will fire Brian Cashman, and start over with another yes-man for the Tampa contingent. Cashman is doing things the correct way, rebuilding what had been a putrid farm system, and showing some sort of financial restraint (well, besides the Clemens thing). The Yankees are, as weird as it sounds, in a sort of rebuilding year this year, and in the beginning of what is most likely a 5-7 year plan to get back to the dynasty stage. To fire Cashman, who has done a great job thus far, would be a mistake, one that the Yankees may not recover from for quite some time. So, George, chill out, let the man do his work.
Saturday, May 26, 2007
Friday, May 25, 2007
As the red-headed step child of North America, Canada has an inferiority complex to rival France. While the French are rude and snobby, making it much easier to dislike them, Canadians are for the most part very polite and patriotic to a fault. They are almost like the mildly retarded kid every one can cheer for because they are doing their best with what they have even if some of things they say are ridiculous. When their done they still get a cookie and milk. To make matters worse, their is a whole province of Canada that was settled primarily by the French (For those of you that are unaware provinces are similar to states in the US).
As an example of how a typical Canadian thinks, we should look at the views espoused by the person voted to be one of the top 10 Canadians all-time. I of course mean the flamboyantly dressed Don Cherry. Among the many things Don has been happy to harp on in the past is that Europeans are soft and are ruining the game of hockey. With the European Daniel Alfredsson leading the Senators into the finals, this creates quite the dilema for any lemming-like Canadian that is anti-europeans but pro-canadian sports teams. The best Canadians can hope for is a repeat of the 1919 Stanley Cup finals that was cancelled due to the Spainish Flu epidemic. This will ensure that the neither the Disney Ducks or the Euro-trash Senators win. The Sabres will be rewarded the Stanley Cup by virtue of their regular season triumphs. And there was much rejoicing.
Thursday, May 24, 2007
First, the decline of Schilling is striking - his fastball is down to 88-91, even the four-seam job. Now, this is not unexpected for a pitcher on the wrong side of 40, but it really is striking to see him attempt to get by with location and guile. Indeed, last night his location was WAY off, and against a patient Yankees lineup it hurt him quite a bit. The homers mostly came on misses up in the zone, which (SURPRISE!) is pretty much bound to happen against NYY. He can still pitch well when bad teams swing at bad pitches, or when he can locate - but when he's off, he's eminently hittable. It will be interesting to see if he goes more to the curve/cutter/2-seamer - he's not hard-headed (unlike, say, 2006 Beckett) . . . watch his next two starts. Seriously, it will be fascinating on a metagame level.
Second, Wang owns the Red Sox, while Pettitte and Moose really aren't even fearsome elements in that rotation anymore. The Sox have traditionally hit lefties poorly, but The Nose really doesn't scare me anymore, regardless of last night. With Clemens being literally outpitched by Clay Buchholz in AA yesterday, the Yankees rotation just does not scare me, as a Sox fan - although it will be more than enough to make a run, especially once Hughes is back (who may very well be their 2nd-best pitcher right now).
Third, Varitek looks atrocious at the plate, and Crisp is probably making better contact than his hit rate suggests. Manny's struggles, however, really seem due to a slow bat (or the mental feeling of slowing down), as he is just flying open when missing. Remy did a great analysis on the NESN broadcast in Game 2, and the SOSH thread really goes well into the details, so I won't bore you - but when inevitable regression comes for Lowell and Okajima, it may not be good to assume these three will rebound much. Also, Bob Abreu is useless as a baseball player - he looks like a statue in the field. Some have suggested that these guys used their 'free' amphetamine/non-steroid PED exception and are now feeling the downswing - I'm not willing to go that far, but I get the feeling it's a reasonable thought process.
Fourth, I'm eminently appreciative of Tavarez's willingness to gut out 5.1 innings of decent ball recently - the ability to keep Lester's innings controlled and ease him back will be fantastic, especially having a fresh lefty in the rotation at the end of the season should the Yankees make a run or make the playoffs. Good work, you crazy fuck.
Sunday, May 20, 2007
Saturday, May 19, 2007
Game 2 went a lot better than Game 1. We ended up scoring about 11 runs and held our opponents to only two. So we got that going for us, which is nice. We had a new ump for half of it, and she was actually pretty good. Then of course we got the guy from last week and he screwed us over again. Seriously the guy has it out for us. I don't know why, I think it is a vast conspiracy.
I think the best part was the guy on the other team who took it all a little too seriously because we shelled him early on. Always have to love that guy.
Everything went well, even if I did injure myself. Yes, I freaking got a cramp in my leg while running home. Seriously, how sad is that? Maybe I should start working out a little more. Nah.
In other news Betsy pitched a complete game and we had a lot fewer errors in the field.
Next week is memorial day so there is going to be a pick up game instead of a real one. The whole plan is to drink before. I think this will work out great.
Monday, May 14, 2007
We started with a solid cast knocking back Sam Smith Oatmeal Stout at the Royal Mile, a full-service "English pub" that has the dual benefits of being right next door to the rock club, and having tons of heavy beers so I can be lit pre-show. The jukebox also does not suck.
The particular group of degens includes my concert buddy Reno, who is basically my doppelganger (except he makes it into the gym more than once a week), Jay and Allison (a married couple who dig indie rock, very cool kids) and Mike (who loves Kings of Leon, but has enough good taste to make up for it). This is completely unimportant, but did allow me the classic RC maneuver of "buying rounds of 5, then being completely unable to carry them back to the table" . . . some things never change?
Opening act Ladyhawk showed some spark and solid chops, finishing with two hook-laden tracks that did not really separate from the indie pile - probably something to check out, but nothing that got the crowd moving. Pretty much exactly what you'd expect from a $12 early show on a regional tour.
Anyway, TnT started off strong, opening with "Just Drums" - it's always an interesting gambit to start the concert off with the first track on the album, but here it just worked. No intro, just jump right in - and already, the crowd was rocking. Few sang along, but that wasn't any bother - the TnT guys just appeared happy to be there. The set was solid, and the live show very tight - everything was in order, no technical issues other than the keyboard levels being a little low for my tastes - and the band's cohesion was second-to-none.
Tracks played much more strongly live than on wax, with tracks like "Ten Gallon Ascot" becoming rocking monsters with crowd backup during the chorus. TnT even inserted a little odd tension at times (see: "TGA"), leaving me the impression that the next record could show strong growth . . .
. . . that is, except for the new tracks they played. Generally without exception these tracks were mediocre, showing a different slant on the straightforward TnT sound but without any of the hook or free-wheeling lo-fi spirit that made The Loon great. Indeed, they even left the best of the new tracks, "Buckle", completely off the setlist, a questionable decision at best.
With a late scheduling change forcing the band off early (10pm show, some random DJ, added at last minute in a classic "WTF?" moment), there was no encore - instead, there was a raucous, loud, incredibly fast version of "Insistor", and the best performance of the night was certainly reserved for the best tune on the album. With a little more pace and some screaming vocals (plus an infusion of the formerly-introduced tension into the bridges), the house came down . . . only to be let down with another mediocre new track to finish, then lights-up without encore.
Overall, a solid showing, one that indicates the band is coming together strongly - however, the new tracks let some of the air out of the room, and don't portend well for the next album. Unfounded indicators of sophomore slump aside, though, a great night indeed.
I woke up at 3pm the next day - again, some things never change.
Sunday, May 13, 2007
Thursday, May 10, 2007
Monday, May 7, 2007
- The theatre of the whole thing was well planned. These days, with the speed of the internet and intrepid bloggers, there are very few secrets in sports, and baseball in particular. Many of the trades and signings that occur are known hours or days in advance. Not here; while many people thought it was likely that Clemens would sign with the Yankees, by no means was it certain, even with the team's obvious starting pitching troubles.
- Am I excited that Clemens is back? Well, I guess it depends on your definition of the word. I'm a baseball history geek, so having the best pitcher of this generation (or maybe any other generation) on my favorite team's pitching staff is great. Plus, the fact that he'll be replacing the Chase Wright's of the world is nice. There's a little bit of worry on my part about how much this will hold back Philip Hughes when he gets back from the DL, but overall I'm positive in this regard.
But, am I truly out-of-my-mind happy about this? Not really; I would call it more of a guarded optimism. Will this make the Yankees rotation any less fragile? Will a 6-inning starter put any less strain on an already-overworked bullpen?
No, of course not. I'm happy about the addition, but it isn't a cure-all.
Friday, May 4, 2007
Thursday, May 3, 2007
Wednesday, May 2, 2007
Anyone who saw last night's Yankees game probably walked away (before the injury at least) with a positive outlook on the future ace of the staff, Philip Hughes. For anyone who did not see it, Hughes had a no-hitter going into the 7th inning, when he left with an injured hamstring. It wasn't perfect by any means (3 walks), but for a guy in his second major league start, it was something to remember. There's an argument to be made that Hughes has more pressure on him than any Yankee not named A-Rod. The struggles of the Yankees minor league system have been well-documented; the team put too little effort into scouting and the draft, and ended up with one of the weakest, if not the weakest, farm system in baseball. Now, players like Hughes, Robinson Cano, Joba Chamberlain, and Jose Tabata have given some hope for the future. We shouldn't get carried away with the performance last night, but I do find myself getting carried away with the idea that the team may have it's #1 starter of the future.
I like to say that my penance for being a Yankee fan is being a Giants fan, and the draft seemed to justify that feeling. For a team that desperately needed a tackle, especially with the loss of Luke Pettigout, I can't understand how you don't pick one until the end of day two. With the running back position unsettled, how do you wait until your last pick to pick someone? Nothing against Aaron Ross and Steve Smith, both of whom are fine players. The team did need another corner, and an extra wideout doesn't hurt. However, they just drafted a wide receiver last year with a high pick, they signed Sam Madison last year, and Corey Webster is still improving. While corner and wideout were needs, wouldn't it have made more sense to go for Joe Staley with the first round pick? Why not get another back in the second round? It wasn't as bad as Philly's draft, but the Giants moves leave some questions going into the season.
That's that; law school finals this week and next, so this may be my last post for a while.
Tuesday, May 1, 2007
In other news, my Papelboner is gone. Maybe I should consult my physician.