Monday, April 30, 2007

The Big Story

What was the big sports story from this weekend? Was it the continuing bloodbath in the Bronx where even the Yankees ace can’t beat a journeyman number 5 starter and Doug Manishevitz hits a 3 run home run and they still lose? No.

Was it the Pats miraculously picking up Randy Moss for a pittance of a 4th round draft pick, negotiate is base salary down from $9 million to a little over $3 million AND can decide to cut him by opening day at no cost? No.

The big story was Taylor Twellman scoring in the 13th minute of the match to surpass Preki as the 7th all time leading scorer in MLS history.

Normally I might be disturbed by images of David Ortiz wearing a Yankees cap but this weekend was so glorious I can just laugh it off.

Monday, April 23, 2007


Two notable things about my weekend.

After over a week of frustration I finally installed my roof rack. For a brief period I cursed all things Swedish and vowed to never purchase anything from them or their Scandinavian neighbors for the rest of my life. I was convinced that they intentionally shipped their racks with impossible installation instructions in order to infuriated Americans and get back at us for starting that unnecessary war thing. But I successfully completed the installation and the Scandinavian boycott is off except for my continuing embargo of Danish cinema due to my intense hatred of Lars von Trier.

Watched all of the Sox/Yankees series. I was expecting to be more elated than I actually am considering the Sox won every game, some in humiliating fashion. But you could hardly call it domination when we won 2 1-run games and 1 2-run game. Honestly the ball literally bounced our way this time (thinking particularly of Coco’s game winning hit against Rivera on Saturday). This by no means made it any less enjoyable. I was almost giddy when Torre desperately put in Pettitte in long relief on Sunday. He can say as many times as he wants that the Sox/Yankee series isn’t anything special but when he used his $18 million dollar starter on 2 days rest to try to keep you in an April ballgame, he is taking this game more seriously than other games. That said the Sox starters looked far from invincible in this series and that was a seriously banged up Yankees team. Kevin Thompson and Wil Nieves don’t exactly strike fear in my heart. I don’t want to get too dorky and talk about Pythagorean records but in terms of runs score to runs allowed the Yankees are playing about even with the Sox and have a horrible record in 1 and 2 run games (2-8) that will correct itself over the season. Now Yankee fans will say that it is a 162 game season which of course is true but the 162 game season is made up of series and this particular one couldn’t have gone much better. To throw out a sports cliché in order to win you must be good and lucky and the Sox were both this weekend.

I also learned that 2 month old babies don’t like it when I yell at the tv. I’m a little worried I permanently damaged my kid during the 4 consecutive homeruns.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Amy Winehouse

I’m having problems figuring out my opinion on Amy Winehouse. On the one hand she is making pretty original music for 2007 and it is refreshing to hear a classical R&B delivery in an age of over-emotive, American Idol inspired pseudo-soul. There is no doubt she can sing. But there is something overly practiced and artificial in her music. I can almost see her rehearsing in front of her mirror ten years ago saying, “I’m going to be a great singer someday”. The well reported rumors of her supposed heavy drinking seem to have the feel of a publicist and marketers touch, carefully forming her back story. And it is probably unfair to criticize her for this video but she makes a whole lot of contrived faces and hand gestures that, to my eye, seem far from natural expressions. I’d also love to jump into the video and punch the annoying saxophone player in the nose. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to get the tune from “Rehab” out of my head for a couple of weeks now and am tempted to buy it on ITunes and overplay it to death in order to purge myself of this bothersome song. Ultimately she seems like a pretty poor Shirley Bassey rip off which is a very good choice for an influence but far too derivative to my liking. This brings up a question I've always wondered that if you are really annoyed by a song a part of you actually likes it. For years I thought I hated the song "Here's Where the Story Ends" by the Sundays when one day it dawned on me that I really liked it a lot but this is a topic for another post. So if you want my recommendation for annoying but likeable female British singers I say Lily Allen. Mindless pop? Indeed. Infectious and likeable? Without a doubt.

Mythical Manny

Great article on Manny Ramirez in this week’s New Yorker. Two things I learned about him were that both of his sons are named Manny Jr. and that he once requested a trade to the Pawtucket Red Sox while playing for the Boston Red Sox.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Wisdom of Ichiro Suzuki

In an era when 99% of professional athletes give tired, cliche-ridden drivel when interviewed it is beyond refreshing to hear Ichiro Suzuki's response to an reporter's question on facing Daisuke Matsuzaka tonight.

“I hope he arouses the fire that's dormant in the innermost recesses of my soul,” he said. “I plan to face him with the zeal of a challenger.”
(source: Times of London)

I'm going to repeat those wise words of Ichiro every morning as part of my daily affirmations.

Monday, April 09, 2007

More Matsuzaka

First there was the exceptional Asahi Super Dry commercial (see previous post) which I proclaimed “the greatest commercial ever made” not 2 weeks ago. Well I’m going to have to recant that superlative and say that no commercial will ever be better than this one. You have little kids waking up in the dead of night to watch Matsuzaka pitch, a strange cameo by Paul Konerko, a brilliant image of a neck-tattooed degenerate Yankee fan (yes, I know there is no other kind) who looks like he wants to kick your teeth into the curb, an even stranger cameo by Wally the Green Monster alone in Fenway’s grandstands, and a rapid montage of rabid Sox fans, pissed off neck-tattoo guy again, Matsuzaka’s name in lights on the scoreboard and some creepy off-screen voice whispering “Matsuzaka”. The result of which is the greatest piece of film since Eisenstein’s Odessa Steps scene or the first 5 minutes of ‘Touch of Evil’.

Thursday, April 05, 2007


Matsuzaka will not strike out 10 batters and walk only 1 in every game. Nor will he give up only 6 hits with just 1 being hit hard. I’m sure that he will be shelled at some point in the season. But with all of the expectations for this game that was one of the best debut performances ever. This is ridiculously premature for me to say but the $51.1 million dollar posting fee for him seems like a bargain. Does anyone think Andy Pettitte will be even close to this good?

Wednesday, April 04, 2007


My god. Did Alanis Morissette just do something I thought was both funny and good? Or is this simply a novelty much like William Shatner's "Mr. Tambourine Man"? This video left me without words. "They buy me all these icies" indeed.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Schilling Doesn't Suck (but he is fat)

It is a little difficult to say that after his Opening Day performance but it really wasn’t as bad as it looked. I would never say that I truly understand most of what the sabrmetric geeks say even though I’ve been accused of being one. But there is one thing that they believe that makes a lot of sense to me. When evaluating a pitcher ignore ERA and wins and loses and focus more on strike out to walk ratio, BABIP (batting average on balls in play), home runs per 9 innings and to a lesser extend ground ball to fly ball ratio. The most important thing to look at is BABIP. Master this stat and it will change how you look at pitching forever. Essentially the argument is that the only consistent way for a pitcher to succeed is to strike batters out. Once a batter has hit the ball, it is simply a function of chance and how good your team defense is if the batter will be out. When looking at a pitcher’s stats it is essential, especially early in the season, to look at his BABIP because he could be either the beneficiary of good luck or a goat of bad luck. Sometimes the ball is hit to fielders and sometimes it is not. On average a little under 30% of balls hit into play go for hits. So your average pitchers BABIP is going to be around .300. If you see a pitcher with a BABIP much higher or lower than .300, there will likely be a correction (I’ll talk about regression to the mean later). So what happened yesterday with Curt Schilling? He faced 22 batters, striking out 5 and walking 2 which is a respectable but not great 2.5/1 strikeout to walk ratio. Although there were quite a few well hit balls he gave up no homers. But they key stat to understanding the final score was that of the 15 balls that were put in play, 8 went for hits giving Schilling a horrible but unlucky .533 BABIP. And what about Schilling’s opponent Gil Meche? He faced 27 batters, striking out 6 and walking 1 (6/1 k/bb ratio). 20 balls were put in play and the Sox had 6 hits. What was Meche’s BABIP? Exactly .300. So the bottom line is that Meche did indeed outpitch Schilling but the bad luck shown in the poor BABIP had a lot to do with the final score.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Sox Support Fascism

That is a little harsh but I remember hearing a few months ago that the Sox were moving from WEEI to WRKO and not giving it too much thought. Now that the season is upon us and I’ve realized, to my horror, that I am going to have to endure endless promos for Rush Limbaugh and Michael Savage’s radio shows that run on WRKO, not to mention the loathsome Howie Carr. WEEI politics were always annoying but generally contained to the fascist rantings of Grand Duke Wizard Jerry Callahan which were easy enough to avoid. But now the Red Sox have lent their brand name to a radio station that airs Michael Savage (who has suggested killing 100 million Muslims) and Limbaugh (mimics people with Parkinson’s among many other unpardonable offenses) simply because that station’s parent company (Entercom Communication) offered the most money. What is most upsetting about this is that the politics of the ownership and management is entirely at odds with WRKO’s. I guess the only remedy to this is to listen to the Sox Spanish radio broadcast on WROL.