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Baseball's all angsty for me right now. One would think that would provide plenty to write about but we're dealing with a sort of "no news is no news" brownout. Stuff to complain/worry about? You betcha. Are things still generally tolerable? Sure. The optimism may not be unalloyed anymore, but at least I don't have to pawn off solid-gold panic. The MetSox may be spinning their wheels to some extent but they're also doing just enough to get by. Hey, kind of like me!

I was however alarmed to get to the end of the News this morning, where they put the day's tv listings. The broadcast networks have this primetime lineup at 8:00 EST tonight:

CBS - Rock Star: Supernova (Looking for new band's singer or something)
NBC - America's Got Talent
Fox - So You Think You Can Dance?
ABC - The One: Making of a Music Star
UPN? - America's Next Top Model

I'm sure I'm well behind the curve for figuring out the cultural significance under our demand (or the networks' detection of demand) for what amount to talent shows with better lighting design.

I'm far less interesting in dancing/singing/modeling as technical exercises than I am with whatever the end product is. So, not surprisingly, I won't be watching any of these unless I fall into a drug-induced coma on a Thursday this summer. However, I actually wouldn't mind this trend extending into an area I might be able to actually appreciate.

If only there were already a place where aspiring Baseball players have to put their skills on display in front of a bunch of hyper-critical judges, sometimes embarrassing themselves, all while they have to coexist with people just like them in what might be their first significant time away from their family and/or hometown. Ideally, this would take place somewhere there is plenty of room for creative camerawork and also some secluded areas where the players would be able to vent their frustrations. It would also include lots of travel and lots of characters, so we could experience the novelty and variety that the contestants do.

If someone made a show like this and asked me for a name, I'd be happy to oblige suggesting something simple, like: "The Minor Leagues".

You're welcome, grateful American television network.

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If it had occurred to me last night to travel down to Coney Island for the Oneonta-Cyclones game, I could have been treated to 6 hours of Baseball for $12. Of course, it didn't (honestly, I wasn't even aware that the 'Clones were playing or in town) but now I feel a twinge of chagrin that circumstances hadn't been different enough to make that pop into my mind. 26-inning ballgames don't happen every day, after all. Oneonta ended up winning, improbably breaking a 1-1 tie in the top of the 26th by putting up a 5-spot. I suspect Brooklyn resorted to drawing straws in the stands to pick a lucky fan to pitch that inning.

Meanwhile, Boston took the make-up game against the Rangers, demonstrating their ability to beat an MLB-caliber team, as well as the Royals. This as the Yankees dropped a rather embarrassing one against the Jays.

During the Mets long rain delay two days ago, I had the radio on, waiting for the game to resume. As such, I was exposed to the notorious NY sports-talk radio. Yesterday, I found myself at home before the news came on but after the matinees were over so I thought I'd flip it on again to find out how the MetSox fared.

I have to say NY sports-talk, from what I've heard, isn't any more intense than what I got to listen to up in Boston. It sounds an awful lot like just a bunch of lonely men who want to think that chatting it up with a radio host within earshot of thousands of lonely men is the same as having friends.

(Insert here parallels to keeping a Baseblog with an audience in the 1's.)

But it did give me a chance to hear what Real New Yorkers think about the ongoing A-Job saga. (I'm not being obscene; that's the biblical Job, he of the many trials. Or, if you want to be obscene about it, that works too.) I can't imagine a Yankee-hater being all that broken up about Rodriguez's very minor problems. Personally, being not broken up about it isn't evil enough for me; I'm sort of pulling for his eventual commitment to a white-walled upstate facility after the alleged Yankee fans finally break his spirit.

But it is remarkable to me what a neat wedge-issue he's become between Mets and Yankee fans. Throwing the lines open on a talk show virtually guarantees that you'll have parties from each side calling in just to take pot shots at each other, using Rodriguez as a vehicle. I don't know, I guess maybe it's like that all the time and any topic will suffice with these people.

The highlights of the last couple of nights were this one guy who called in to whine about Rodriguez's botchness. He didn't really have much of an argument beyond regurgitating what everyone complains about. Finally the host got sick of it and started reading off a list of Rodriguez clutch accomplishments that he obviously had prepared for just such an occasion:

"What about his performance against...etc etc... was that not clutch?"
Silence
"What about his performance against...etc etc... was that not clutch?"
Silence
"What about his performance against...etc etc... was that not clutch?"
Silence. Click.

And then there was the guy who called in with possibly his own prepared statement in defense of Rodriguez:
"...and he pretty much single-handedly demolished the Mets in that series, against David Wright who, in my opinion, isn't even as good as Chipper Jones. Thank you, goodbye." Click.

This is just comedy gold here. A bunch of people who obviously want to get everyone all riled up but end up being unintentionally funny on a grand scale. It's one of the reasons I sort of miss the old Crossfire on CNN. Maybe sports-talk can be my new Crossfire. Only, you can't tell if anyone has a dorky haircut and a bowtie on the radio.

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The weather is supposed to be awful this week. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if the Boston Globe has already run one of their famous editorials against the weather. But it's all the local "news" has been talking about down here (oh yeah, and apparently there's something going on in Lebanon). I do have to admit, a five-day that includes nothing but 90's is pretty scary.

This heatwave has already been plaguing the midwest though. So that led to an exciting development in yesterday's game against the Cubs: Mets' pitching coach, Rick Peterson finally took off his jacket. I don't have footage from the game but it looks something like this:



I'm not even sure how Newsday got that photo, because the hurler honcho usually looks like this, even on hot, humid days:



Just looking at him makes me want to turn a fan on.

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There is much to catch up on, while looking ahead to performing my annual All-Star Game ritual tonight - yelling at the TV and rooting for Yankee injuries.

It's the midway point in the season and everyone likes to pretend that the Baseball season is like a school session, handing out midterm grades and such. I like the school year analogy but grades are so boring. (Who's the best hitter? hmm, let's just look at the chart here and... Joe Mauer! Agreeing with people makes me smart!) I can pretend that we're at the halfway point of the school year too.

Which means it's time to cast the school Christmas pageant!

Sheep - Clint Barmes, Adam Everett, Willy Tavares
Donkeys - A.J. Pierzynski, Michael Barrett, Delmon Young
Shepherds - Chris Capuano, Brandon Webb, Mike Mussina
Magi - Dave Roberts, Ichiro Suzuki, Brian Roberts
Gabriel - Jose Reyes
Joseph - Alex Rios
Mary - Alex Rodriguez
Baby Jesus - Ryan Howard

Inn Keeper (optional) - Barry Bonds

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New York writers seem obsessed with figuring out who's better and more popular - the Mets leftside infield or the Yankees. This is one of those obligatory sportswriter exercises that becomes more pronounced as the general public to sportswriter ratio approaches 1. It's sort of a ridiculous proposition because Adolph Hitler could be playing 3B next to Jeter and that pair would still be more popular in NYC. There will be a Jeter Building in this city some day. (Of course, the building won't look as good as everyone says it does, and it will have some mechanical flaws that people will ignore. But it will be built.)

For now though, I'm just glad that the Mets are playing well enough that this "debate" can even be brought up with a straight face. (Okay, I don't know if the writers have a straight face on when they yell for copy, but let's just guess.) Now even some non-Yankee-Haters are beginning to come around to the Mets' Rey of Wright. It's easy when you smile all the time and make under $1M to ingratiate yourselves to the fans. I hope the success (and the money later) doesn't spoil them.

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I think the less that's said about Sunday's World Cup final, the better at this point.

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I didn't get to see her play because of some Saturday errands, but Michelle Wie got bounced from match play. The same day as Annika, so there's no shame in that, right? Umm, maybe not. It's become hard to ignore the reports that some players, not just male sportswriters, that seem to revel in Michelle's losses. There may be myriad reasons for Wie to be unpopular on the tour that she just joined, the majority of which must be obscured by the clouds of Inside Golf. Still, it rubs me the wrong way. If the PGA tour can pretend to tolerate Phil Mickelson, then why can't the LPGA Barbies (Creamer, Lincicome, Gulbis, Pressel) show some decorum? Not so far out of high-school that you can't help but form your own Flaxon Faction? Gives me just one more reason to hope for Michelle to break through and start annihilating these pretenders.

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I saw France advance on to the finals today and caught several glimpses of Domenech Raymond, French coach, being all animated and so forth on the sidelines. It struck me that if France wins its second World Cup in 3 tournaments on Sunday, someone might be inspired to make a movie about French Football's renaissance.



I wonder if Eugene Levy can do a good French accent.

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Cribbed from the Elias Sports Bureau:Collapse )

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The web version of this photo is too small to do it justice, but I submit it as further evidence that the Daily News is among those that want Alex Rodriguez to come across publicly as an effeminate phony. The only thing missing from this picture is mocking thought bubbles coming from the other Yankee players.

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Rolling Stones songs aren't the only borrowed idea that Britney Spears can make a mockery of.

Uggs, Kaballah bracelets, Free Winona t-shirts, Namibia...

Throw some work Angola's way, why don't you?

I think Namibia needs to watch itself here. It doesn't want all this attention make it forget to be itself. I promise that Botswana will not be impressed by Namibia's newly manicured lawn and shiny 2006 Caddy in the driveway. And when Namibia comes over for block parties, and starts baby-name-dropping, the eyes rolling will outnumber the heads for a change. It's a good thing Namibia's back is to the ocean.

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before the good wildlife news, some weird feral-life news...

I fear that the roaches in this building may have happened upon my achilles heel. now, there aren't a LOT of roaches in the building, not by any means. of course, i'm measuring this from my perspective of living in a sub-tropical, forrested habitat. this is Brooklyn, which is neither forrested, nor sub-tropical (but this week has been warm and wet).

anyway, my new fear is based on a sighting of a roach... IN DISGUISE! i saw something crawling along the baseboard and at first glance i thought it was a dreaded SBOAT. but it wasn't moving fast or wiggly enough. then i realized, it was a roach with a dust bunny on its back! it was a roach in sboat's clothing!

again though, he wasn't very fast-moving, which gave me a chance to fetch something heavy. let's just say i finally found a good use for the New Yorker.

okay, so that was the weird news. the good news is so good, it actually leaves me with a weird feeling. today Bush signed something that made the largest protected marine area in the world in Hawaii. The northwest chain of atolls, shoals and seamounts portion of Hawaii, that is. This area is so important, i was actually more surprised to hear that it wasnt already protected, considering its the only known permanent breeding ground for the Hawaiian Monk Seal (our state mammal!) in the world.

well, i don't know what bush is trying to do here, making me say good things about him twice in as many months. but i'd be a sourpuss if i didn't give credit where it was due. the Dems had chances before now to make official the protection of NW hawaii. but it was Bush who finally was inspired to do this. so props, you dirty bastard, props.

a cynic might say this was an easy move, that, with no major commerce affected by the restrictions now in place, the gesture is ironically as empty as it is important. i don't believe there is such a thing as empty environmental protection, and i was actually taken aback at the speech Bush gave after the ceremony. he spoke of keeping the environment intact, not just for human benefit, but because it is a blessing on this earth. wait, so does this apply to the other non-contiguous state? or just hawaii?

where did this born again conservationism come from? from a movie. Bush was shown "Voyage to Kure" a documentary by Jacques Cousteau's son. 15 years of virulent anti-environmental ignorance was undone by A MOVIE!! i know he said he's not interested, but someone needs to figure out how to get Bush to An Inconvenient Truth, pronto! not an easy job, but here's how it works:

Lazy Saturday afternoon in the Oval Office. George is suffering from ennui. A precocious staffer who doesn't share this admin's dismissal of global warming asks Bush if he wants to see a movie. Which movie, which movie?? CARS! Oh man, I can't wait! Then she takes him to a private screening of AIT in the White House film room, with Charlton Heston's face photoshopped over Al Gore's. This can't miss.

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This is obviously very sad to hear about. But I think we can beat this.

Three words: Ringed Seal Drop.

Let's stop trying to fly back to the moon. There are no polar bears there. Instead use those valuable resources to catch ringed seals and strategically parachute them behind the lines that the bears cannot cross before the ice advances. Who knows, maybe after a few generations, we'll see flying bears that don't mind warm weather.

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