Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Push Away From the Table

As Christmas nears, we all flock to, and orbit the seemingly endless buffet table at grandma's house filled with pastries, 7 different kinds of ham, bread, cheese dip and other rich delicacies only seen once a year.


Sure. We let ourselves go a little bit but hopefully not like these guys.


To make myself feel better about myself, I feel the need to look at celebrities that have not only let themselves go for a week like we all do but for the entire year. Because I am a sensative guy, we will only focus on guys.

Can you tell who this guy is?





How about him?





Or him...





Iron Mike doesn't resemble anything remotely related to iron.








ANSWER IN ORDER OF APPEARANCE:

Vil Kilmer, Gil Gerard (Buck Rogers), Richard Dean Anderson (MacGyver) and Mike Tyson

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Christmas Tree Cutting Trip

Its been yeeeears since I went out with the family and cut down a Christmas tree. So, this past Friday, we did just that. For effect, I summoned the weather gods for a light snow to fall at just the right time so as to stimulate some Christmas Spirit...at least meteorologically.

The Christmas tree farm also had an barn full of Emu so we sauntered over to see what Emus do in the snow two weeks before Christmas. The answer to that question, in case you were wondering, is nothing.

The pictures follow in chronological order. And yes, Nathan found some honeycombs amidst the snow and mud. (Editors note: If you would have told me that he found a hand grenade out there in the field that afternoon, it wouldn't have surprised me.)

Also, check out Nathan's letter to Santa which was in the paper a few days ago.









Friday, November 28, 2008

Search for Perfection



In this day-in-age of instantaneous information, dwindling patience, and quick self gratification so glorified on TV in the marketing of products and entertainment to the younger generation, most have lost focus on what striving for perfection is in everyday life. I guarantee if you ask a hundred people from the age of 18 to 25, most would say "perfection" means making lots of money, achieving a level of notoriety and the accumulation of lots of stuff.


Call me old-fashioned but there is so much more to life then a large bank account, a garage full of cars or a wall full of top-of-the-line entertainment hardware. Sure, imagining a Brinks truck
backing up to your front door with bag and bags of cash emptying out into your living sounds pretty exciting but that's not the point. (That said, do you know anyone who has had this happen to them? Didn't think so).


The drive toward Perfection manifests itself in every facit of daily life. In the workplace, the road to perfection is challenging yourself while creating a good product for your employer.

Your relationships with your significant other, your relationship with your immediate family as well as everyday friendships with people outside of the home are a constant work in progress. Our struggle to grasp and process the distinct human emotions inherent in each one of us that surface during our interactions only helps make those relationships at every level stronger and more fulfilling.

Our endeavor to be Perfect also lies in physical exercise, i.e. staying in shape, challenging yourself by pushing your body further while working out.

Spiritual perfection aims to solidify a deep-rooted foundation within our consciousness. It doesn't have to be attached to a specific denomination. For many, spirituality is more a philosophical or metaphysical exercise.

In general, reaching for perfection is a way of challenging yourself each day, not getting complacent while holding yourself in an ethical high standard. Its a never-ending cycle of improvement, a passion for making things better not only on a personal level but with family and friends and within our small segment of society in which we live.

Remember, according to the ancient philosophers, if the world and everyone in it were perfect, it could not improve because it would be complete. What else would there be in life?

How boring is that?

Asking this question I guess is what makes us human.

I sincerely hope that as the younger generation gets older and more seasoned, they realize this. I have a strong feeling that they will.

Monday, November 24, 2008

THE 80s ARE FADING


As a baseball fan from the 1980s, I grew up watching players like Wade Boggs, Joe Carter, Kirby Puckett, Mike Schmidt, Robin Yount, Gary Carter, George Brett, just to name a few.


Now that the 2008 season is in the books, I wanted to look back at the players who are STILL playing who started out playing in the 1980s.


THE LIST, FIRST WITH THE PITCHERS


GREG MADDUX
RANDY JOHNSON
JOHN SMOLTZ
TOM GLAVINE
JAMIE MOYER
KENNY ROGERS
TOM GORDON
KENT MERCKER
RUDY SEANEZ


NOW, POSITION PLAYERS


KEN GRIFFEY
OMAR VIZQUEL


PLAYERS WHO WILL PROBABLY RETIRE OR WON'T BE SIGNED


OMAR VIZQUEL
TOM GORDON
RUDY SEANEZ
KENT MERCKER


NOW, HOW MANY ARE GUARANTEED TO PLAY IN 2009 CONTRACTUALLY

GARY SHEFFIELD


PLAYERS THAT WILL MORE THAN LIKELY SIGN IN 2009


GREG MADDUX
RANDY JOHNSON
TOM GLAVINE
KEN GRIFFEY
JOHN SMOLTZ
JAMIE MOYER


HARD TO BELIEVE THAT 7 PLAYERS COULD BE LEFT FROM THE 1980s BY OPENING DAY 2009

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

THE WORST HITTER EVER

An article from Dugout Central

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Published by Steve Caimano on November 10, 2008 07:25 am

My assignment is to identify the worst hitter to ever play major league baseball. This is exactly the kind of article nobody wants to write. As soon as you pick a name somebody will argue that the player was a great fielder or that he was a clubhouse leader or an outstanding human being, and you’re just a big fat jerk who couldn’t hit a major league fastball with an oar. All of that might be true, but it doesn’t change the fact that somebody has to be the person who was the worst at every human endeavor. So with the understanding that I am making no judgments on any other aspects of this man’s life other than his ability to hit, let’s identify the worst hitter in history.

The first thing we have to do is identify how long you have to have played to qualify. It certainly isn’t enough to just be historically bad for a few at bats, or even a year or two. No, to be the worst hitter ever you need to have longevity as well as ineptitude. In order to qualify for this "award" a player has to have a minimum of 3,000 plate appearances.

Next comes the harder part: how do we measure "worst"? What I decided was that I would use career OPS+ to whittle the field down, then do a more detailed analysis on this (hopefully) small number of players. I used OPS+ because it’s adjusted for the era in which the player played and their home park and also because it only deals with hitting. The problem with using some of the advanced stats (VORP or Runs Created) is that these include stolen bases and I didn’t want to muddy the waters.

So I went to baseball-reference.com and used the "Play Index" to give me a list of the players with at least 3,000 plate appearances and a career OPS+ less than 75 (the average OPS+ is 100). What I found shocked me. There would be no need for a detailed analysis of a group of closely matched players for the title of "Worst Hitter Ever". No, the answer was clear, and his name is Bill Bergen.

Bill Bergen was a catcher for the Cincinnati Reds and Brooklyn Superbas/Dodgers from 1901 to 1911. He played in a total of 947 games and had 3,028 at bats. His career OPS+ was 21 … that’s right, 21. The next lowest career OPS+ was the 49 posted by Hal Lanier. Hal Lanier’s lifetime slash stats (AVG/OBP/SLG) were .228/.255/.275. Bill Bergen was a far worse hitter than Hal Lanier. Bill Bergen’s BEST hitting year was 1903 when he went .227/.252/.266, which equates to an OPS+ of 41 and is worse than Lanier’s career numbers. He had four doubles, two triples and seven walks in 207 at bats.

It’s difficult for me, quite frankly, to find words that do justice to how bad those stats are and, again, that was Bergen’s best year. It was the only time in his eleven major league seasons that he managed to hit for an average above .200. In 1909 he hit .139 in 346 at bats. In 1911, his final year, he hit .132. He had four extra base hits and a slugging percentage of .154. His OPS+ was -1. I didn’t know it was possible to have a negative OPS.

CAREER STATS:

AB: 3,028
HITS: 512
2B: 45
3B: 21
HR: 2
AVG: .171
OBP: .194
SLG: .201

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Congratulations to President-Elect Obama




Congratulations go out to President-Elect Obama.


The campaign was hard fought but a well-deserved victory to the former Senator of Illinois.


Looking back at the last 6 months, the campaign had the feel of the 1992 days leading up to the election. The feel-good emotions of Americans from east to west dominated the national consciousness. Many are basking in the afterglow of the big win. To be honest, I never thought I'd see a Black President in my lifetime. Whether your a republican or democrat and consider that we're barely a generation removed from the Civil Rights Movement, its been a long time coming.


For John McCain, it was an uphill battle. I'm no Tim Russert but from what I can ascertain from living this election each day at my television job, we can pinpoint many reasons for his lack of support from states that historically lean Republican such as Ohio, North Carolina, Colorado, Indiana, etc. Regardless of what his voting record is in the Senate (historically moderate; much to the dismay of his conservative counterparts), he was guilty by association. McCain distanced himself from "W" but McCain could never shake the stigma of his Republican roots which hurt him in the eyes of a public that is paying for high gas prices, job loss, foreclosure and 401K losses in the trillions. Its not his fault but he might as well as have pulled the trigger on the credit crisis himself. For many in a year of economic distress that hasn't hit rock bottom, perception is reality especially when that reality is an empty wallet. Conversely, if the stock market hadn't crashed over the last 8 weeks, the race, at least electorally, would have been a lot tighter.


Now its down to business.


All of the beautifully orated speeches now have to translate into policy that is malleable to a volatile Congress that is filled with partisan history. What worries me is a Congress that is controlled by the same party that is in the White House. While it makes policy somewhat easier to get through the Congressional gauntlet and back to the President's desk, it pushes an agenda that is inherently Parisian contrary to what each party wants you to believe. Hopefully this is tempered by the urgency of action in the midst of this economic slowdown

Unlike Bush who was a hard-line conservative, Obama will need to be a pragmatic policy initiator and not a hard-line liberal. One such area that needs this treatment is the military and our foreign policy. In an ideal world, it would be great to sit down with ALL leaders of the world. But in reality, there are power plays between nations which in most instances supersede our idealistic picture of the U.S's position in the world. Obama's advisers will make this clear to him as his administration begins. Will we see a meeting with Obama and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad? I highly doubt it.

I, for one, would like to see some republicans in his Cabinet. Its time to eliminate this "members only" mentality.

An Obama presidency virtually can only help to mend scarred relationships with any European leaders by his party affiliation. Bush ticked off many with his Iraq debacle. A Democrat, at least early on, will only help.


An Obama presidency will improve consumer confidence, again by his Republican non-affiliation. The US and Global consumer wants change from the status quo. This will offer some solace.


The economy hasn't hit rock bottom yet. The financial sector collapsed. The money supply has tightened. Businesses are shrinking. Unemployment is rising as is inflation. GDP is growing but its negligible. Many suggest that unemployment will rise even more in 2009 as the GDP flattens more. We shouldn't expect much from any new administration in 2009 or even early 2010 given this economy even with new policy. The market has to purge itself of the contagions that plague it which means more job losses independent of any new president.
Mark my word, people will want change quick. The after glow of "change" will fade quick as head into next summer. People must learn to be patient regardless of the party or presiident. This is hard to say but we must give it two years. Second half of this initial term will be the first big economic test.

Those are my thoughts. Let's be patient and see what happens.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Presidential Hair

Just like many of you, I am tired of seeing advertisements for each candidate. It seems as if the election season will never end. Alas, the end is near and so is the mudslinging.

Forget about who you think will right the economic ship or who will handle our future foreign policy issues in places like Iraq or North Korea or Iran. Forget who you think will create jobs or transform the health care system or who will cut/raise taxes or who will tackle the budget problems.

The real issue should be who has the better hair. McCain is first since he comes first alphabetically.


And now Obama...

Their hair doesn't exactly stand out like Bill Clinton's. In fact, each candidate's hair is quite straight, short and frankly boring.



I say that who ever is president must effort to look like one of these past Vice Presidents who, in my opinion, have the best hair of any President or Vice President in our country's history.

Meet, Levi Morton and John C. Calhoun.



Levi was the VP under Benjamin Harrison and John C. was the VP under John Q. Adams and Andrew Jackson. Its also no coincidence that Calhoun was the first VP to be photographed. His scowl is second to none. Couple that with his 1840s Afro, can you think of anyone that would be more worthy as the first leader of the United States to have his portrait hanging in Washington? Imagine him staring down members of congress or Kim Jong il at a summit?

His stances on issues were not the greatest. He was a supporter of Slavery and an inspiration to the secessionists who created the short-term Confederate States of America. He also thought that the Indians were inferior. By far, one of the worst politicans in our history but his hair is second to none.

Not to be outdone, Levi Morton has the coolest beard of any politician up until that point and since. If anything, that's one hell of a "flavor-saver"'.

Who ever the next president is, he should effort to look like on of these guys or a combo of the two. Not only will the members of Congress get bills passed quicker if they are looking at an 1840s "fro" but the ruthless dictators throughout the world will bow down in fear. I ts a one-two punch that's a win-win.

So Barack and John, please consider my suggestion.

Sincerely,

An American Citizen Who Values Hair




Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Facebook




So now I am on Facebook. Laugh all you want.


Actually, I signed up a few years ago and had no need for it so I conveniently forgot the password.


Here we are in 2008. My brother is on Facebook, my sister is on Facebook, my grandmother is on Facebook. So as not to be outdone by a great depression-era computer junkie, I am now
on Facebook yet again.


Here's the kicker, I wasn't signed up for more than 18 hours and now miraculously, I have 66 new friends. Frankly, I didn't think I knew 66 people.


Allow me to digress a bit. Here's a snapshot of a typical day for me and my wife: Work, nap, working out, dinner, Bob the Builder, Thomas the Tank Engine, snack, sleep...in this
order.


Since each day is jam-packed with so much social interaction, I find it very difficult to welcome yet more friends into my universe. So memo to my 66 new friends? I don't think I can fit you in.


Yet to keep up with the Joneses, I probably should keep my Facebook page active.


I, however, fully expect 66 Christmas Cards from these friends I didn't know I had.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Its Time To Hang It Up

Over the summer while playing a home baseball game, I was chatting with one of the umpires while the grounds crew was getting the field ready for play after a brief rain shower.


This guy was a throw-back; an old school guy who looked like he lives life with a cigarette in one hand and a beer in the other. His face was weathered with deep wrinkles from years in the sun. His character, which didn't take but more than 10 seconds to discern, was a direct reflection of his appearance--rough and to the point. He was probably 60 or 65 but looked easily twenty years older.


His words were hidden with insight from an "everyone can kiss my ass" point of view. Each thought was beautifully ochestrated with an incredibly abrasive tone that made you wonder how he could hold a job. The topic didn't deviate too much from baseball,. Yet, like a carwreck on the roadside, his words sucked you in. I just stood and listended. Granted, it might have all been a show but it didn't matter. It was great entertainment as I passed the time until the start of the game.


Just when it seemed as though the conversation was getting dull, he drops this bomb on me as he walks away:


"...When ever you're ready coach, give me your lineup?"


My throat immediately sunk into my stomach.


What the hell did he say? Did I hear the word "coach" in there somewhere?


My dad was a coach not me. Nothing against my dad or coaches but I wasn't a coach.


This guy really had no idea that I was a player. His gruff nature wasn't a show; the oldtimer ump just plain didn't give a damn. Didn't he remember that I had three hits in the first game and pitched two innings...the game that he was "UMPIRING" behind the plate?


Needless to say, I was pissed. I promptly went oh for four with two strikeouts in the second game due to his slander. Although his intension wasn't to berate me, the fact that he referred to me as "coach", while having some merit, was very unsettling. As far as I was concerned, the word was in lights above my head for everyone to see! I felt like an aged Connie Mack standing on the top step of the dugout after managing for 50 years. The whole concept really bothered me.


It didn't hit me until later that day that maybe this guy was onto something. Was I getting too old, too slow to play at this level? I still contribute and my hitting is fairly consistant.


It finally hit me while driving a few nights later from another game. I really wasn't having as much fun as I used to. Maybe it was the fact that I didn't play well the game before. Maybe this will pass and I'll feel different tomorrow. No, this is more than that. I couldn't concentrate on the game like I could in the past. Fastballs seem a bit faster. I wasn't as fluid on my feet. The game itself was speeding up because my reactions are slowing down. Maybe the title of "coach"DID fit me more than "PLAYER".


All of these thoughts raced through my mind on that drive home. Yet my conclusion remained the same.


So after 28 summers playing baseball counting high school and college, its time to walk away.


My wife asked me if I was sure? She kept telling me that I didn't have to quit. I told her that this season would be my last; my decision wouldn't change. It was final.


My son will be four next summer. Tee-ball is around the corner for him. Its time to be the dad that teaching young kids how to hit and field ground balls. I still have the first picture of my dad coaching me in my first year in tee-ball. I can't wait for my first picture with my son during his first year playing ball.



Will coaching take some getting used to? Sure.



The feeling you get after getting a basehit up-the-middle on a 0-2 fastball middle-of-the-plate-in, off of the meat of the bat when the score is tied in the bottom of the ninth is something that you only experience a few times and you NEVER forget it. Coaching my son will feel like same experience only it'll happen each day.


All it took was one word for me to realize that it was time to move on and it came from a grizzled umpire who smokes two packs a day:

COACH

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

If I had a soon-to-be released album...

...What would I name it?

QUANTUM WEIRDNESS

A BRIEF CONCEPT OF TIME

VORTEX OF DREAMS

MAXWELL'S BEARD

MEMORIES IN MOTION

SPACIAL HORIZONS

TEMPORAL SKIES


Of course, I'm not in a band nor do I have a record for that matter. So if you need album names, I'm the guy.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Universe is Still Here!


At last check, everthing still exists.

The Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland was cranked up yesterday sending particles racing around the 17 mile long tunnel under the Franco-Swiss border and guess what, it works!

Contrary to what some alarmist who were worried that the activation of this--the largest experiment ever conceived--would recreate events mirroring the beginning of the universe, all is quiet on the accelerator front.

The last time I checked, the earth and the neighboring universe wasn't swallowed up by some cosmic vacuum cleaner.

No mini black holes formed...

No primortial plasma surged out of the collider enveloping the countryside...

The only potential casuality that I wish wasn't averted was my dentist appointment. It is still on for later this afternoon.

So get ready for the first particle collisions next month. Many scientists believe that these collisions will confirm the existence of certain particles that will unlock the mysteries of matter and ultimately the early stages of the universe.

The fun begins on October 21st at which point we should REALLY start worrying.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Future Employment

I am very lucky to have broken into the business that I am in almost 12 years ago. The process while daunting in many ways was, as I look back, a necessary prerequisite toward my appreciation of where I am now. While it seemed like I was forever spinning my wheels trying graduate to the next "big" thing and out of the red, the time "spinning" was worth every second in retrospect. While most people end up in occupations that would be considered their avocations (not something they went to school for) so that they can put food on the table, each and every morning I wake up and head to a job that I've always wanted to do since I was 9 years old. Basically, I get paid for doing a hobby of mine. Not many people can say that.

But let's say that this wonderful job didn't pan out any longer and I was at the end of the line. Suddenly, I would be forced to find other employment in some other field. What jobs would would be in my top five?


Here is my list in no particular order.

* Baseball Player
* Fighter Pilot
* Aerospace Engineer
* Video Game Designer
* Theoretical Physicist/Cosmology Researcher



What one to pick? Hmmmm...


Let examine each one.


Baseball Player

I played baseball in college and played pretty well but not good enough to get drafted. Now, more than a decade removed from college, playing baseball at a level that would garner a wage, enough to put food on the table just isn't realistic unless you want to pay me to take some cuts at the local batting cage. Although I can still dream like a kid, baseball ain't happening.

Fighter Pilot


Not many people know this but I was very close to going into the Air Force way back when. I really saw myself flying an F-16 at that point. Seriously. But I got cold feet and bailed out at the last minute--pardon the pun. Maybe a ride with the Blue Angels some day will quell the sense of missed opportunity deep in my gut from that day back in 1992. Now that I think about it, my eye sight is not great anymore and I can't handle roller coasters. Screw it, who am I kidding. Oh yeah, if I do get that ride with the Blue Angels and throw up, you'll never hear about it.


Aerospace Engineer

Nothing encompasses the theoretical and mathematical concepts of the skies with the applied science of flight then aerospace engineering. Looking back, the math would have been brutal, enough to start my hair loss years earlier if I would have chosen this career path back as an undergrad. The cool part of that program at school was the building of a model airplane/space craft. Your final project was to test the craft's airworthiness in a wind tunnel. The craft goes in for a test flight then you got to go in yourself afterward. Sweet. Crank that thing up to 100 mph and the skin on your face is pinned to the back of your head. That would have been worth at least four years of tuition back then. A trip back to school now? Try 3 more years of school at 2008 dollars. Can you say "multiple student loans"? Plus, I've forgotten all of the math. By the time I'd finish, my kids would be ready for college. Aerospace Engineer? I don't think so.


Video Game Designer


Can you imagine creating some of these games and getting paid for it? How freaking awesome would that be. I've got 5 video game systems linked up in series on the family TV. Sounds cool but if having tons of video game consoles is the top qualification of a VG developer then millions of gamers would be vying for this job. That just ain't happening. At the end of the day with two young kids, cranking up Madden or Halo or Mario Galaxy is far from my mind as sacrilegious as that seems to gaming purists.


Here's the real reason why I couldn't dot this: My wardrobe just wouldn't cut it. Why? I picture a VG designer wearing a custom made tee shirt with some Dungeons and Dragons character on the front living in his parents' basement. Hell, why don't they just wear moon boots and Velcro sneakers. Me? I quit wearing my A-Team tee-shirt back in 1985 although I still have a Mr. T belt which barely fits my three year old.

As for my wardrobe, I now have more ties than I have tee shirts. I don't picture VG developers wearing dress shoes and slacks while writing lines of computer code. Maybe I'm wrong but I just don't see this. Ultimately, I couldn't handle the stigma that goes with being "VG developer guy" with the 1980s era Atari t-shirt. The final verdict: Slight Possibility if I didn't have to shave.

Theoretical Physicist/Cosmology Researcher

The study of space and the universe as a whole is a field that will always be intriguing to me. Call me a loser or dork or whatever. I was born with a level of dorkitude and I can't shake it. Even my wife knows it. So allow me to go off topic for a bit .


Why cosmology? The resultant implications of discoveries in physics either in rewriting of the governing laws of the universe at both the quantum level and the cosmological stage and the application of these discoveries into everyday technology (GPS, MRIs, etc.) eventually transcends the fabric of society at every level. We might not notice it at first but if you think about physics in terms of not only technology but also philosophy--how we think of the world around us--and perhaps the theological--i.e. how the universe as a whole shapes our view about God's ultimate design (if you are so inclined to believe)--cosmological research and theoretical physics is the ultimate area of study. Its a left brained and right brained field. Study cosmology and theoretical physics and you've conquered all that is cerebral as long as you have tons of aspirin.

Now when I think of researchers in the field of theoretical physics/cosmology, I imagine a disheveled, out-of-touch, badly dressed middle-aged guy that really hasn't left school. They usually drive an early model sedan or they ride their bike. Not that there is anything wrong with riding your bike; its just not mainstream. Look, as much as I love to read about cosmology and quantum theory to get the old mental synapses firing, as boring as that might seem at first glance, the prospect of being "that research guy" who is out of touch with 2008 isn't that appealing. That is unless I can make the cash that Stephen Hawking earns.

The only bonus is while studying theoretical physics, you have the right to say strange things like physicist Timothy Ferris stated back in 1997:


"Quantum physics...The longer you look at it, the stranger it gets...Quantum weirdness is so counter intuitive that to comprehend it is to become not enlightened but confused. As Niels Bohr liked to say, 'If someone says that he can think about quantum physics without becoming dizzy, that shows only that he has not understood anything whatever about it.'"


Exactly what I was thinking.

So what did I learn about this exercise? I really like my job. That's it.

Friday, August 29, 2008

The Election Is Over!

Pack it in. Its locked up. Shut down the 2 year political perpetual motion machine. Cancel the half hour specials on CNN and FOX. Its over.


Maybe your a Barack Obama supporter, maybe you are a John McCain supporter. At this point if you're a guy, it shouldn't matter. Why?







As of 10:45 AM EST, John McCain has picked Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin as his vice presidential running mate. .



Not a bad pick. Sure, this picture is photoshopped but its niiiice to look at. Yes she is young. She's good looking. She is 44. Who cares about anything else.







The words "attractive woman and presidential election" just 3 hours ago couldn't have been more diametrically opposed or more paradoxical. You don't think of the words "hot chick" when you think of Hilary do you? Yet now, they go together like a wonderful dinner and an effervescent wine. You can't get enough.



I know for a fact that the McCain camp isn't trying to attract the male 18 to 35 demographic. The move more signifies a strategy for garnering Hilary Clinton votes that might be in limbo. Still, a nice ancillary effect of Mrs. Palin's VP nomination might very well be the college, male vote. Can't you hear the water cooler talk at college frat houses tonight?


Sex appeal and national politics are not supposed to go and-in-hand. We've seen countless video clips over the years of meetings with aged male politicians in Washington around an oval conference table. The last thing these over-used, gray haired, plain suit, Geritol fueled, Lawrence Welk watching old timer recordings invoke is sex appeal. Maybe for my grandmother or someone in a retirement community looking for someone to play bingo but not a mainstream voter.

Sarah Palin's experience isn't very impressive. Heck, before she became governor, she was the mayor of a town with a population of 5000. She has only been Governor for 2 years but that isn't going to matter. If its a sexy image you want, the McCain/Palin ticket is the one for you.
Saying those words "Hot chick and presidential" now just plane sounds great. I think I am liking politics a lot more now.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

My Absence, Meditation and Badminton

I just realized that I haven't posted anything this month. So rather than force write some unimportant, contrived essay or cut-n-paste some uninteresting tidbit with embedded video just to say "I did", I took a leave of absence. I took it to to recharge and re energize. Call it a blogging sabbatical. So I traveled, played with the kids, watched some movies with the wife. Basically, I went back to the basics.


Just as many an actor/entertainer before me, I embarked on several trips Nepal to get in touch with my inner self so that my yet untapped inner sanctum might shed some light on the future of my internet presence. I even passed David Carradine while heading to lunch one afternoon. Very nice fellow.



Then one day, in an infinitesimal moment while napping it hit me. I opened my eyes and saw IT. No, it wasn't a bearded, thin, ageless Asian man dressed in a white robe and a cane although that would have been pretty cool. What appeared to me in my semi-unconscious state while laying on the couch was the most intense game of badminton I had ever seen. Where did I see this game? The Olympics on NBC Friday night.


At the Olympics...




Are you kidding me?


Wait a minute. This the same venue that the best athletes in the world gather for every four years at a designated location to play certain sports at the highest level possible. One of those "sports" was badminton. It was at that point that I realized that people from many countries actually spent money to fly to China to play a game that I played as a kid at family reunions growing up.


Look, I know they play the game at such a fast speed (top speed for a smash is 206 mph), so it seems like a totally different game that what we are used to as kids. Heck, I remember trying to find birdies (or shuttlecock. Yes, I said "Shuttlecock") that had been buried in the corner of the garage, setting up a torn net and playing with beat up rackets.

How ever you neatly package the game whether it be by blinding speed, corporate sponsors, graphite badminton rackets or fancy, skin tight uniforms, guess what, IT'S STILL BADMINTON!

At what point while playing badminton do you go, "Yeah, I'm ready to take this to the next level. You know what, maybe the Olympics someday."? The easy answer is NEVER!

And if you feel the urge coming for more badminton competition, you need to check yourself. This means stop playing 4 hours a day and find another sport like lawn darts.


Wow, that felt good.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Mad Props To My Wife

If you know me, you know that I work strange hours. I'm up at 2AM each morning, prepare for work a bit before heading out the door at 3:15 in time to get to work at 4am. People I talk to each day usually strike a conversation with, "Gee, you have to go to bed at what, 6 or 7PM right?" My facial expression usually dispels their conclusion but I follow it up with this rebuttal, "Not with kids. Try 9, maybe 9:30." It is their priceless facial expression in response that culminates with their jaw hitting the floor. The look is one of utter shock.

I'm writing about this not for pity or for sympathy. After all, many people in the world work strange shifts; many are more unorthodox than mine. I write this to cast some light--actually a huge beacon--on what is responsible for allowing me to keep this schedule without collapsing.
Here are a few hints. Its not coffee, although a good cup of highly caffeinated java is real yummy with an english muffin. Its not the Red Bull or the new "5 Hour Energy" loaded with a blend of chemicals and amino acids that make the periodic table look like a kids book. Its not some exotic herbal extract from the rain forest. (Any food or drink with the word "exotic" is really inviting.)

The best stimulant for staying conscious and fully functional doesn't come from food or drink. It comes from a loving, compassionate wife.

Yeah, yeah, I know. What is this, an episode of Oprah, you say? Sure, it sounds sappy and chessy but I meant what I said.

When you are on a schedule that runs against your circadian rhythm, your body gets pretty pissed at you. The enzymes in your stomach churn uncontrollably throwing your whole digestive system into a tizzy. You eat leftover dinner at 8AM. (Bar B-Que is my favorite). Your eyeballs feel like someone took them out unbenownst to you and dipped them in shards of glass then reinserted them into your head. Not to mention, you get fragmented sleep. Four hours here, a couple of hours there. You never feel rested. You get short-fused and testy. Basically, your body is here and your mind is in the other room. Rarely does your mind and body come together and when it does, look out! Strange things happen. A ll of the jacked up coffee on the planet won't lift your out of this funk. Your there to stay.

My wife knows this. When I get home, she works her day around my afternoon nap. Even if that means watching the kids for another 2 hours AFTER a morning of mayhem. Don't get me wrong. My kids are super-fun. But it is mentally exhausting sometimes when, for no apparent reason, your three year old's calm demeanor suddenly mushrooms up into a full-fledged temper tantrum while the 9 month old needs a diaper change. Its all par for the course. All families go through it. But it takes someone special like my wife to sacrifice her own rest and relaxation and mental sanity so that I can get a few winks. You might say that my wife is a blessing disguised in the form of REM sleep. Without it, I'd be a wreck.

I try not to take any of this for granted. Even after I wake up, my demeanor many times probably wouldn't be compared to a cuddly kitty cat. Its more like a hungry cobra ready to pounce on a rodent. Even still, each day my wife anticipates ALL of our needs. She schedules trips to the store so that I can have time to "wake up". She balances out the activities of the kids around their digestive clocks so that they are fed and ready to go. All of this is done to make the day run smooth even in the midst of the groggy, cranky cobra. Her strength and mental fortitude is second to none and for that, I am grateful beyond words.

Zzzzzzzzzz.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Baseball Records Becoming A Rare Commodity

This past weekend as I sifted through the Friday box scores comparing player stats from other years, something stood out as I checked career totals and the age of the player. Aside from a few standout players, career offensive records will become rarer and rarer in the next 10 years. Let me explain:

I took a list of career leaders in 3 offensive categories, homeruns, runs and hits. I only listed players who are at least 30 years old and who were relatively high on the all-time list which for current players is around 250th or so. Its a shorter list than you think which will be self-explanatory once you see it. Each row in the list shows the all-time rank, name of the player, age and the number of hits, runs, etc.

For comparitative purposes, I also placed a few players who are in their late 20s and have played long enough (at least 7 years) with strong enough numbers to warrant consideration as all-time record setters if projected out over the next decade. Projected is the key word here and can be dangerous as it does not take into account a down year or injuries.

The bold-faced names are players that probably won't retire in the next 2 to 3 years. This eliminates a significant number of players who, although rank high on the list, won't have enough time given their age to make a run at any records.


RUNS

46 K. GRIFFEY 38 1575
48 SHEFFIELD 39 1558
54 A-ROD 32 1530
67 F-THOMAS 40 1486
79 JETER 34 1411
83 L.GONZO 40 1400
87 M-RAM 36 1384
90 THOME 37 1371
99 OMAR 41 1345
101 C.JONES 36 1340
108 J.DAMON 34 1321
115 J. KENT 40 1231
416 A.PUJOLS 28 888


HITS

68 GRIFFEY 2615
69 OMAR 2615
79 L. GONZO 2552
80 SHEFFIELD 2550
82 I-ROD 2544
99 FTHOMAS 2448
103 JETER 2422
108 J. KENT 2387
132 A-ROD 2304
138 M-RAM 2281
141 G-ANDERSON 2268
164 C.JONES 2209
172 J DAMON 2180
220. VLAD GUERRER0 2070 (32)
546 J. PIERRE 1497 (30)
575 A. BELTRE 1487 (29)
640 A.PUJOLS 1421 (28)
704 J. ROLLINS 1354 (29)


RBI

19 GRIFFEY 1730
21 FRANK THOMAS 1701
25 M-RAM 1652
33 SHEFFIELD 1588
43 A-ROD 1535
49 J.KENT 1488
57 THOME 1431
63 GONZO 1417
67 DELGADO (36) 1404
327 PUJOLS (28) 903
416 A BELTRE 29) 813
417 A-RAM (30) 813
692 A. DUNN (28) 613
702 V. WELLS (29) 608


HOMERUNS

6 GRIFFEY 603
14 A-ROD 535
16 THOME 523
19 THOMAS 520
23 M-RAM 506
27 SHEFFIELD 485
34 DELGADO 446
43 C.JONES 403
53 J. GIAMBI 382
59 VLAD 378
64 J. KENT 374
65 EDMONDS 371
67 A. JONES 370
77 GONZO 351
88 ALOU 332
105 HELTON (34) 304
114 SEXSON (33) 304
117 PUJOLS (28) 300
122 GLAUS (31) 292
123 I-ROD (36) 292
133 J. DYE (34) 285
134 P. KONERKO (32) 285


Taking out the players who more than likely won't be in baseball in 2011, the list is narrowed down to this:

RUNS

54 A-ROD 32 1530
79 JETER 34 1411
87 M-RAM 36 1384
101 C.JONES 36 1340
108 J.DAMON 34 1321
416 A.PUJOLS 28 888

HITS

103 JETER 2422
132 A-ROD 2304
138 M-RAM 2281
141 G-ANDERSON 2268
164 C.JONES 2209
172 J DAMON 2180
220. VLAD GUERRERO 2070 (32)
546 J. PIERRE 1497 (30)
575 A. BELTRE 1487 (29)
640 A.PUJOLS 1421 (28)
704 J. ROLLINS 1354 (29)

RBI

25 M-RAM 1652
43 A-ROD 1535
327 PUJOLS (28) 903
416 A BELTRE 29) 813
417 A-RAM (30) 813
692 A. DUNN (28) 613
702 V. WELLS (29) 608

HOMERUNS

14 A-ROD 535
23 M-RAM 506
43 C.JONES 403
59 VLAD 378
105 HELTON (34) 304
114 SEXSON (33) 304
117 PUJOLS (28) 300
122 GLAUS (31) 292
133 J. DYE (34) 285
134 P. KONERKO (32) 285

Now, taking out the players who have been injury prone over the last few years and who have had a significant decline in performance in recent years (Todd Helton), you now get this. The highlighted players are in their 30s and have at least 1300 runs, 2000 hits, 1500 RBI or 500 homeruns (Pujols and Vlad Guerrero are highlighted due to their young age and consistant homerun production)

Pretty short list overall when your talking about players cracking the top 10 or 15 in each category.

RUNS

54 A-ROD (32) 1530
79 JETER (34) 1411
87 M-RAM (36) 1384
416 A.PUJOLS (28) 888

HITS

103 JETER (34) 2422
132 A-ROD (32) 2304
138 M-RAM (36) 2281
220. VLAD GUERRER0 2070 (32)
546 J. PIERRE 1497 (30)
575 A. BELTRE 1487 (29)
640 A.PUJOLS 1421 (28)
704 J. ROLLINS 1354 (29)

RBI

25 M-RAM (36) 1652
43 A-ROD (32) 1535
327 PUJOLS (28) 903
416 A BELTRE 29) 813
417 A-RAM (30) 813
692 A. DUNN (28) 613
702 V. WELLS (29) 608

HOMERUNS

14 A-ROD (32) 535
23 M-RAM (36) 506

59 VLAD (32) 378
105 HELTON (34) 304
117 PUJOLS (28) 300
122 GLAUS (31) 292
133 J. DYE (34) 285
134 P. KONERKO (32) 285

After several run-throughs at filtering out aged, injury prone, inconsistant players in the list, we get this final list.

RUNS

54 A-ROD 32 1530
79 JETER 34 1411
87 M-RAM 36 1384

HITS

103 JETER 2422
132 A-ROD 2304
138 M-RAM 2281
220. VLAD GUERRER0 2070 (32)


RBI

25 M-RAM 1652
43 A-ROD 1535


HOMERUNS

14 A-ROD 535
23 M-RAM 506

59 VLAD 378
117 PUJOLS (28) 300


The bottom line:

Only Jeter and A-Rod will have a legitimate shot at the TOP 10 in RUNS SCORED.
Only Jeter, A-Rod and Vlad Guerrero have a shot at 3000 HITS.
Only Manny and A-Rod have a shot at 2000 RBI
Only Vlad Guerrero and Pujols have a shot at 500 Homeruns in the next 7 to 10 years.

Beyond this, we are talking close to 2020 when any other all-time records have a real chance at falling.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Remembering 10 cent Beer Night at Cleveland Stadium


It was on that fateful night on June 4, 1974 when the geniuses in the Cleveland Indians Promotional Department decided that dime beer night with no limit was a good idea. A guy I work with was there as a kid but left before the riot ensued. After players were hit with chairs, batteries and anything else that wasn't bolted down, the umpires finally called the game.


Read a great narrative of the night on Page 2 of espn.com.




These pictures from the Cleveland Plain Dealer are priceless.



The guy in the middle is pretty imtimidating with those glasses.

I think I saw this guy tailgating at a Browns game.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Baseball Offense WAY Down in '08

Chalk it up to the steroid testing policy which wasn't beefed up--pardon the pun--until 2005 with worthwhile penalties (A first positive test resulted in a suspension of 10 games, a second positive test resulted in a suspension of 30 games, the third positive test resulted in a suspension of 60 games, the fourth positive test resulted in a suspension of one full year. Later that year, the penalties were changed to: first positive test, 50-game suspension; second positive test , game suspension, third positive test would result in a lifetime suspension from MLB), offense in baseball in 2008 has been noticably lower than in recent years.































Projecting runs scored for this year (22,192 runs) through the end of the season would yield the lowest total since 1997.





































Projecting homerun output this year through game 162 would give a total of 4788 homeruns. The lowest total since 1997.


The most glaring stat is the historical ERA numbers since 1996.







































While ERA has come down since it's peak in 2000, its continued to oscillate up and down somewhat since. However, the first sharp drop in ERA occurred in 2001, four seasons before the first real strict steroid penalties took effect and 2 years before testing began. Is this a result of steroid testing or just a function of the randomness of baseball?


So far, 2008 ERA numbers are on pace for the lowest level since the second expansion era began in 1993, that's 16 seasons.






























While homerun numbers are down 8% from 2006 to 2007 and a projected 3% from 2007 to 2008, Doubles are up 4% since 2003. What does this mean? Either steroid testing is working in that performance enhancing drugs aren't as prevalent as they were 10 years ago and/or the lack of pitching talent has weeded itself out of the big leagues since its dillusion due to expansion in the early and mid 1990s. Give it another couple of seasons to see if a trend develops from homerun hitting to doubles hitting and much lower ERAs.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Oldest Player to Play with Babe Ruth Turns 100

Baseball is a game of big, round, meaningful numbers. Bill Werber knows about that: He got exactly 200 hits in the 1934 season and here he is 74 years later, still around to talk about it.

Werber, the oldest living major leaguer, turns 100 years old on Friday.

"It appears," he said from a senior housing facility in North Carolina, "that I'm going to live past 100."

Werber played with Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, with Jimmie Foxx and many others. He played for Connie Mack. He played on a world championship team with the 1940 Cincinnati Reds. He went fishing with Ted Williams. He was the first player ever to take an at-bat in a televised major league game. He was the first All-America basketball player produced by Duke University. And, even at 100, he can still remember almost all of it.

"That's because I'm intelligent," he said.

Bill Werber (sliding) played in the major leagues for 11 seasons, and won a World Series with the Cincinnati Reds in 1940.

Werber's career began in 1930, and ended in 1942. He played mostly third base for the Yankees, Red Sox, A's, Reds and Giants, hitting .271 with 1,363 hits, 78 home runs and 215 steals. In 1934 for the Red Sox, he batted .321 with 40 steals. He played the final seven years of his career in pain due to a damaged toe, but he never complains about that. On a daily basis the memories he collected from his 13-year career bring a smile to his face.

And no one makes him smile more than the mention of Babe Ruth.

"I was very fond of the big monster," Werber said. "He knew he was the adopted son of a bar owner named Ruth, he never knew his own mom and dad. He was kind to children. He signed autographs by the thousands. Kids would walk all over his white shoes and tan pants. It didn't matter. He would visit hospitals, and he'd never take a newspaper man or cameraman with him. I got a nice letter recently from his granddaughter. She sent me pictures."

Werber played two years with the Yankees and he and Ruth became close friends.

"Babe was a good bridge player," he said. "He knew all about it. [Yankee catcher Bill] Dickey and I were partners against Babe and Gehrig. We'd play on the train for 2½ hours. Babe used to give what he call "phonky" bids to irritate Gehrig. He liked to irritate Gehrig."

And teammates liked to irritate Ruth.

"They used to play tricks on the Babe," Werber said. "They'd nail his shoes to the floor. Or, they'd take the eyelets out of his shirt so his shirt would fly open. Babe made $80,000 a year. He'd get a check every two weeks for $7,500. Mark Roth, the secretary of our club, would put the pay envelopes on each player's stool in the locker room. He'd use scissors to open each envelope. Guys would take Babe's check out of the envelope and tape it on the mirror in the bathroom in the clubhouse. Guys would be combing their hair, or putting talcum in their jock, and there was Babe's check looking right at them. He'd leave it up there all day. When everyone was done, he'd take it down, and go on his way."

Werber never played with Ted Williams, but he knew him.

"I liked Ted," Werber said. "I told him a ghost story once on a train ride. It was a good ghost story. We sat Ted in a certain place so he could hear it. We had two other guys, Tom Connelly and Roger Cramer, placed strategically around Ted. At first, he didn't buy into it, but then he did. At the climax of the story, I yelled, 'I am the 12th man!', my eyes were dilated, my fingers were outstretched. Ted jumped in the air, then he beat me over the head."

Werber also visited Williams' home more than once.

"Ted was funny," he said. "We had dinner at his house after fishing with him one day in the Florida Keys. Ted had had a few too many martinis. We were with our friend, Dick Locker. Dick told Ted, 'You're going to have to talk a little louder to Bill, he's deaf.' Well, all through dinner, Ted thought that it was Mrs. Werber who was deaf. So, every time that Ted would say something, he'd lean across the table to Mrs. Werber and say, 'Did you hear what I said?' And Mrs. Werber would say, 'Yes, I heard what you said, Ted.'"

Werber said the highlight of his career was playing for the world champion Reds in 1940. Not only was that team a champion, but, Werber said, that team knew how to have fun.


"We had a second baseman named [Lonnie] Frey who had liver spots all over him," Werber said. "So I started calling him, The Leopard. He looked like a leopard. And he ran like a leopard. So I started a club on the Reds called The Jungle Club. Frey was the Leopard. I was The Jaguar. Our big first baseman was Frank McCormick. He was the better hitter in the league that year. He told me, 'I want to be in the Jungle Club.' I told Frank, 'But Frank, you don't hustle enough to be in the Jungle Club.' He said, 'If I hustle for a week, can I be in the club?' I said, 'Maybe if you hustle for a month, you can be in the club.'"

So, we were in Boston, he had a big game, and he took a couple of guys out for beers after the game. He said< 'Did I hustle good enough today?' I said, 'Yes, you did, Frank. We've decided to put you in the Jungle Club.' He said, 'What's my nickname?' I said, 'We have a suitable name. You'll be The Hippopotamus.' He said, 'I don't want to be The Hippopotamus. I want to be The Wildcat.' I said, 'Frank, you are a wildcat.' He ran out in the hall and said, 'I'm in the Jungle Club. I'm The Wildcat!' Things like that really help a ballclub play better, playing kid games."

It was with the 1940 Reds that Werber led off in the first game on television in baseball history.

"I didn't even know about it until four years later," Werber said. "I was walking through the country club where I was a member when this young fellow read out of a book of trivia that I was the first batter ever to bat in a televised game. And I didn't even know it."

Werber hasn't watched a game on TV in years.

"I don't watch any baseball anymore," he said. "I stopped watching because of Johnny Damon and, what's his name? Alvarez? … Ramirez? … Yeah, [Manny] Ramirez. He had that long hair thing going down the back of his neck. And Damon had that beard. I wrote a number of polite letters to [commissioner Bud] Selig. I don't believe in being abusive, that won't get you nothing. He wrote me some innocuous letter back. It didn't say anything."

Werber loved his career as a player, and he loved playing basketball at Duke, but being a very smart man, he knew baseball would only last so long. When he retired, he made a second career in his father's line of work: insurance.

"I made a $100,000 salary my first year out of baseball [working at New England Life Insurance]," Werber said. "Hey, that's $20,000 more than Babe Ruth made in his best season."

Bill Werber laughed heartily about that. After 45 minutes on the phone, recalling his favorite stories, Werber took a nap. At 100 years old, and lucid beyond belief, he slept well.