Tuesday, September 30, 2003

I'm sitting here watching the Braves-Cubs in game 1 of the NLDS. I turned on the TV just as Marcus Giles hit a home run off Kerry Wood. That home run is the difference in the game so far.

Steve "Psycho" Lyons is doing color on the game for Fox. I love Psycho for a couple of reasons. First, of course, is that he's an ex-Pawsox. I remember seeing him when he was coming up through the minors. Lyons was very well thought of; so much so that the Sox were thinking about moving their perennial All-Star batting champion third baseman Wade Boggs to first to make room for Psycho. Of course, it didn't work out that way, and Lyons eventually became most famous for dropping his drawers at first base when he played with the White Sox. He was considered a useful utility player during his career and had a couple of tours of duty with the Sox. Sort of the Lou Merloni of the '80s.

The second reason I like Steve Lyons is that he paid his dues to get where he is in the broadcasting world. Unlike other ex-players, he didn't step off the field and into the broadcast booth (Hello, Tony Gwynn? Joe Morgan?). I remember one year Lyons did a 5-hour shift on Thanksgiving on WEEI. He really worked his way up and I respect that quite a bit.

The Yankees lost game 1 to the Twins today. The Twins had lost 13 straight to the Empire dating back to 2001, and then knocks them off 3-1 in the first game of the playoffs. I have some mixed feelings about that. Of course, I always enjoy seeing the Yankees lose, so that's the plus side. However, if the Red Sox were to make it to the World Series, it would seem ever so slightly less sweet if they went through Minnesota instead of New York. Not that I'm complaining by any means, but the comparison I've been making is the '86 Celtics. I was certainly estatic when they beat the Houston Rockets in the Finals, but I REALLY wanted them to beat the Lakers.

Cubbies now lead 4-1, as Kerry Wood comes up with a 2 RBI double. Take that, designated hitter!

Sunday, September 28, 2003

Welcome to the post-season. The Major League Baseball regular season ends today, and 22 of the 30 teams go home for the winter, not to be seen again until they arrive in Florida and Arizona in February of 2004. Even the World Champion Anaheim Angels will be denied the chance to defend their championship, finishing well under .500 and will likely end the day 19 games behind the division winning Oakland A's (neither teams game had finished as of the time I write this). The only good news for the teams going home is that the Detroit Tigers managed to beat the AL Central winning Twins today, finishing the year at 43-119, one game better than the 1962 New York Mets.

So, the post-season starts on Tuesday with three games; Yankees-Twins at 1, Giants-Marlins at 4 and Cubs-Braves at 8. The Sox don't get started until Wednesday night at the unbelievable hour of 10 PM Eastern time. There are going to be a lot of bleary eyed members of the Nation come Thursday morning (including me). If it wasn't the end of the quarter at work, I'd seriously consider taking Thursday off so I could watch the game, sleep in and then catch game 2 at 4:00. However, duty calls.

Here are my picks for the results of the post-season. Check back in about three weeks and see how I did.

Division Series:
Cubs over Braves in 5 games
Giants over Marlins in 4 games
Yankees over Twins in 4 games
Red Sox over A's in 4 games

League Championship Series:
Cubs over Giants in 7 games
Red Sox over Yankees in 7 games

World Series:
Red Sox over Cubs in 7 games

OK, so how do I justify picking the most unlikely World Series pairing in baseball history?

I look at it this way - there is no overwhelming favorite in the playoffs this year. There's no '76 Reds or '84 Tigers or '98 Yankees. The teams are all good, but they all have flaws. The Red Sox and Cubs are not significantly better or worse than any of the other teams playing. I'm figuring that Kismet owes both teams a few, so why not have it happen this year?

And wouldn't a Red Sox-Cubs World Series be great? Interest in baseball would explode. Casual fans, and even non-fans, would be fascinated by the fact that a winner would have to be crowned from these two teams. A great series between the Sox and Cubs would be as big as McGwire-Sosa in renewing interest in the game.

Regardless of who wins, enjoy October.

Friday, September 26, 2003

I had the great good fortune to go to last night's American League wild card clinching game at Fenway Park. The evening started with me meeting my friend Dave. We attempted to get some dinner, but there were long waits pretty much everywhere, so we visited the Sausage King over on Lansdowne St. before entering the ballpark.

We went in through the bleacher gate on Lansdowne St. so we could check out the new "Big Concourse" under the right field stands. The Big Concourse is another effort to make Fenway more comfortable by adding more space and giving fans more concession options. The space comes from a former storage area near Gate B and by taking parts of the old laundry building (now a parking garage) and turning it into concession areas, new rest rooms and a customer service desk. The rest of the area consists of tables, picnic benches and just plain, old open space - something Fenway has always been sorely lacking.

I really applaud the Henry ownership team in their efforts to do their best to make Fenway more fan friendly. Turning Yawkey Way into a street fair, the incredible Monster Seats and now the Big Concourse are three of the primary examples. You're never going to turn a 90-year-old building into Camden Yards or Pac Bell Park, but it's great to see the Sox making an effort.

As we made our way through the ballpark we stopped by "Autograph Alley", where former Sox outfielder Rick Miller (that's pronounced "Mueller") was signing. It was nice to meet a member of the great 1975 Red Sox team, and I got him to sign my scorebook and shook his hand.

We made our way to very nice grandstand seats in medium left field and waited for the game to begin. Of course, the Sox didn't leave the outcome much in doubt for very long, as they quickly battered Orioles starter Omar Daal for seven runs in 1 and 2/3 innings. By the end of the 4th it was 12-0. Derek Lowe pitched quite well for the Sox, giving up only one earned run in six innings before the mop-up squad came in. By the end of the game, Bill Mueller was the only regular player left in the game (and was rewarded with a standing ovation before his last at bat.)

Ramiro Mendoza came in to face the Orioles in the top of the 9th and the tension mounted: would Mendoza be able to hold an 11 run lead? Actually, Mendoza pitched quite well and set the Orioles down with the crowd getting louder and louder as each out was recorded. Finally, Mendoza struck out Brian Roberts looking and the crowd exploded! The Sox were returning to the postseason for the first time in four years.

The player's celebration started off fairly low key, but as the crowd continued to cheer the team, the players started to feed off the energy. Things really got rolling as Kevin Millar croaked out a few bars of "Born in the USA" (don't give up your day job, Kevin). Then new Boston folk hero David Ortiz took the microphone and told us what great fans we were and how the team was going to try to bring a world championship back to Boston. This, of course, made things even louder. Then some of the players came out with bottles of champagne and started to spray fans sitting in the first few rows of seats. It was very exciting to watch and to be a part of.

We finally headed for the exits and checked out the wild card hats and T-shirts being sold. After deciding that $30 each (!) was a bit much, we headed home.

It was a great, memorable night. Now the magic number counter is reset to 11 - the number of wins the Sox would need to get to win the World Series.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Have I mentioned that David Ortiz is my hero? What a game against the Orioles. The Sox are down 3-2, despite a nice performance by Wakefield. Pawsox perfect gamer Bronson Arroyo comes in and gives up two runs in the 9th and Baltimore leads 5-2. The Sox offense has looked pretty anemic all night (only 4 hits to that point), so I figure it's over.

So what happens? Todd Walker hits a 3 run homer in the bottom of the 9th to tie it. Then the newly rejuvinated Byung-Hyun Kim holds Baltimore in the 10th to set up Ortiz's walk off home run in the bottom of the inning. Red Sox Win!!!!

The magic number is down to 3, and Seattle is losing 1-0 to Anahiem in the 5th as I write this.

On a completely different topic, my wife has a subscription to People Magazine. I usually page through it to see if there's anything interesting. In the most recent issue there was, of course, another article about the most overhyped couple of the new milennium, Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez. I was looking at the article (OK, I was really looking at the pictures of J. Lo. in a bikini) and I noticed that one of the captions for the pictures said that she was drying off with a $740 designer towel. $740 for a towel! I'd bet that the last three generations of my family hasn't spent that much money on towels, total. Some people really just have too much money for their own good.

Sunday, September 21, 2003

I took my son, J., to a batting cage nearby today. He loved it, and I had a good time, too. I stuck him in the slowest softball cage and he actually made pretty decent contact on at several of his swings. It was, without a doubt, the high point of my weekend.

The best thing about going to a batting cage with your almost six-year-old is that he thinks you're the best thing since Willie Mays regardless of what your actual skill level is. Jeremy cheered me on with every solid hit, and even the not so solid ones got him excited. It was a great ego boost for me, too.

J. started playing soccer this year. I enjoy watching him play, but I feel kind of helpless in helping him improve his game. My knowledge of soccer pretty much begins and ends with "don't use your hands". At the batting cage, however, I saw a dozen things instantly about his stance, swing, etc. I was calling out a few of them to him while he hit until I decided that I was just confusing him. My point is that I'll be able to take a more active hand with him when tee-ball starts next spring. My problem is going to be treading that thin line between being helpful and being the overbearing dad. It's difficult because I want him to succeed, but I also don't want to put so much pressure on him to do well that the game becomes a chore for him.

I said at a week ago that the Red Sox needed to win every series the rest of the way to ensure themselves a playoff berth (see my 9/15 blog) and they've managed to win the first two. The magic number over Seattle is now at 5 with seven games left to play. So, if they win the remaining two series they're in, even if Seattle wins every game the rest of the season.

Friday, September 19, 2003

I voted for the Hank Aaron award last night, which is presented to the best offensive performer in each league. Fan voting counts toward 30% of the total. You can vote at www.mlb.com. Click the News link then click Awards from the News page, then click the Hank Aaron award link.

The NL winner was easy - the Cardinal's Albert Pujols. He leads the league in batting average, is 2nd in home runs by one behind Thome and Bonds and is 2nd in RBI behind Colorado's Preston Wilson. Wilson has 136 RBI (81 at Coors, only 55 on the road). You can bet he would have about 20 fewer RBI if he played in a different park.

The AL was harder. There were three candidates I seriously considered: A-Rod, Carlos Delgado and Garrett Anderson. I gave it to Delgado on the strength of his .300 average and league leading 130 RBI. Rodriguez had more home runs (44 to 35), but trailed in the other two Triple Crown categories. Anderson had a better batting average by 13 points, but trailed by quite a bit in home runs and RBI.

The Sox magic number is down to 7 with tonights win against Cleveland. The A's lead Seattle 1-0 in the 4th, so hopefully they can knock that down one more.

By the way, did you hear the tie breaker if the Red Sox, A's and Mariners were to finish in a 3 way tie? The A's and Mariners would play a game to decide the West winner, then the loser would play the Sox to decide the wild card. The Sox would have to play on the road in the unlikely event that happened, since they lost both coin flips. They must have sent M.L. Carr to handle it. (If you don't get that reference, email me at capnho@hotmail.com).

Thursday, September 18, 2003

One of my pet peeves is the fact that people don’t know how to make change any more. When I was a kid, my father owned a drug store. I was taught to make change a very specific way, since any screw ups I made was money out of my Dad’s pocket!

I was taught to do two very key things. One was to leave the bill the customer had given you on top of the drawer, and not to put it away until the customer was satisfied that the change was correct. This way a customer wouldn’t be able to say, for example, that he had given me a $20 bill when he had given me a $10 bill. The correct bill would still be sitting out and would not have been tucked into the register. The second thing was to count the change back to the customer, not just hand them a wad of bills. This acted as a double check on the change you were handing back.

Of course, no one can do the actual math to make change, either, since the cash register figures it out.

So, I was having lunch on Monday and my bill came to $4.62. I gave the cashier a $10 bill. She stuck it in the cash drawer, and obviously hit $5.00 on the cash register, because she gave me 38 cents change. I protested that I gave her $10. Fortunately, she agreed with me and gave me the additional $5. But I could have easily said that I gave her a $20 and how could she have proved otherwise?

Did anyone see “The Curse of the Bambino” on Tuesday night? I don’t have HBO, so I didn’t see it. The talk radio folks were really bashing it. Their take is that it made the denizens of Red Sox Nation look like a bunch of desperate, obsessed boobs. So, if you watched it I’d love to know what you thought about it at capnho@hotmail.com.

Sox magic number for the wild card = 8.

Monday, September 15, 2003

Here's the way I figure it. If the Sox win their four remaining series the rest of the way against Tampa Bay, Baltimore and Cleveland, they should go 10-4. They've already won tonight, so that brings it down to 9-4. Seattle just lost to Texas as I'm writing this, so they're now a game and a half behind in the wild card race. They have 6 games left against the A's, plus 3 each against the Rangers and Angels. Assuming the Sox can take care of business, they should be able to win the wild card. Of course, as Theo said on the Sox pregame show earlier tonight, if they can't win these games, they don't deserve to be in the playoffs.

There are some other great races for playoff position continuing, with the White Sox and Twins still slugging it out in the AL Central and the Royal hanging close. If Tony Pena isn't AL Manager of the Year, there ought to be an investigation. The Cubbies and Astros are still close in the NL Central. Both have intriguing possibilities in a World Series matchup with the Sox. The Astros would feature the return of Jimy Williams. Bosox-Cubs would probably be the most anticipated Series ever. The NL wild card race has widened out a bit - at one point there were as many as eight teams within 3 games of the lead, but the only teams with serious shots at this point seem to be the Marlins, Phillies and whoever doesn't win the Central. All in all, it should be a pretty exciting last two weeks of the season!

Sunday, September 14, 2003

Quote of the day: "The locals call us flatlanders. I am far worse; I am a Californian" - Bill "Spaceman" Lee in an article describing his life living in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom in today's Boston Globe Magazine.

That sigh of relief you may have heard today across New England was Patriots fans feeling better after today's 31-10 road win over the Philadelphia Eagles. I didn't see much of the game as we were returning from our annual trip to Newport, but I gather the offense and defense both played well. Hopefully, the Buffalo game last week was an aberration and thing will continue to look up. The win should at least get most of Patriots Nation off the railing of the Tobin Bridge for the next week or so.

The Sox had a rough weekend, though. Losing 2 of 3 to Chicago at home was not good. Hopefully the Olde Towne Team can pick things up against the D-Rays for the next few days.

A. and I had a great weekend in Newport. This is our third year staying at the same bed & breakfast there while the grandparents watch the kids . This year we had a jacuzzi in our room, which was a very nice addition. We did a ton of walking around Newport and took a little side trip up to Wickford, a little shopping village in North Kingstown. It's kind of an "unspoiled" shopping village, as none of the chain stores have made it there yet. Just local businesses run by local people without a Gap, Barnes & Noble or Starbucks in sight. We also ate pretty well, including my obligatory trip to Flo's to get clam cakes and red clam chowder (the only kind to eat in a Rhode Island clam shack).

This morning before we left we toured Belcourt Castle, which is the only mansion in Newport open to the public that is actually occupied by the owner. The others are owned by the Newport Preservation Society. It was built by Oliver Hazard Perry Belmont (of Belmont Racetrack fame) and would have cost approximately $500 million in today's dollars to build (or about $11 million in the 1890's). Aside from the beauty and workmanship of the house itself, the current owners have an amazing collection of antiques. The oldest piece is a priests chest of drawers that dates from the 10th century. That's right - it's about 1,000 years old. The rest of the collection is equally impressive, given my limited knowledge of such things.

Friday, September 12, 2003

I watched the Enterprise premiere last night and they finally fixed the most annoying thing about the series. They got T'Pol's eyebrows right! She finally looks like a Vulcan! It only took them two years. :-)

Seriously, though, I thought the episode was decent, but then I've thought a lot of Enterprise episodes were decent. They're generally not great and they're generally not horrible (although there are some exceptions on both ends of the spectrum). It was well acted, looked great and handled the drama in a mediocre fashion. Same thing as the first two seasons.

My opinion? I'll continue to watch, but I'd love to see what the cast and technical crew could do with a completely different creative staff at the top. If I were running Paramount, I'd fire Berman and Braga ASAP and bring in someone new to drive the franchise and REALLY remake Enterprise.

Thursday, September 11, 2003

I’m writing this entry from the 7:00 train from Framingham to Boston. People regularly bash the MBTA, but overall I’d have to say I’m pretty happy with it. Sure, once in a while the trains are late or there is some other annoyance, but I’m satisfied with the service at least 95% of the time. Not only do I get a reasonably quick, comfortable ride into the city each day, but instead of having to deal with traffic I can read, grab a quick snooze, do some work on the iBook or even watch a DVD. All those things would be difficult to do in traffic!

Taking the T instead of driving is good for the environment as well. I’ve been taking the T regularly for the last 21 years, since I started at Northeastern in the fall of 1982, and I figure I’ve traveled at least 100,000 miles on the system. I don’t know how much pollution I would have thrown into the air if I drove all those miles, but it has to be a lot.

Finally, the T saves me money. I pay about $200 a month for my T Pass, parking in downtown Framingham near the train station and gas to drive the 8-mile round trip from my house to the station. Driving my car and parking at my office would cost over $450, including gas for the 40 mile round trip each day, the outrageous monthly parking fee to bring your car into Boston and tolls on the Mass. Turnpike. This doesn’t even include the wear and tear on my car driving all those extra miles.

OK, I’m back after a 10-hour break (had to go to work).

To wrap up my thoughts on the T, it may have some problems, but it usually works for me.

Here’s a bit of trivia I learned the other day about one of my favorite all-time movies. Donald Sutherland was the only real movie star who appeared in Animal House at the time it was filmed. The producers offered him a percentage of the profits in the film to appear. Sutherland thought that the film would be a bomb, so he opted for an upfront payment of $40,000 instead. Apparently, if Sutherland had gone for the profit percentage instead, he would have made $30 MILLION. Sorry, Donald!

Saw my first new show of the Fall TV season last night. It was called Jake 2.0, which came on after Enterprise on UPN. It’s sort of a 21st century version of The Six Million Dollar Man. To give you the short version of the story, a computer tech for the National Security Agency is accidentally infected with nanoprobes which give him enhanced strength, hearing and vision, plus the ability to remotely control electronic devices (sort of a built-in clicker). The lead actor, who’s name I forget, does a nice job. A couple of the characters need some work, primarily the annoying roommate and the cute girl from his college days, but the show has some potential. I thought it was a reasonably entertaining hour.

I was putting the kids to bed while Enterprise was on last night, so I won’t watch the season premiere until tonight. I’ll give you my thoughts on that some other time.

Today is, of course, the second anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the thwarted attack that ended with the plane crash in Pennsylvania. I was trying to think of something deep and meaningful to say, but so much has been said already, anything I might say would pale in comparison. So, I’ll just send out my thoughts to the families and friends of the victims and my wishes for the safety of our troops fighting far away from home today.

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Pedro and Lowe looked good in the two starts the last couple of days. I hope the trend continues into the post-season and we see the 20-game winners of 2002 for the rest of the year.

The Sox had a great road trip, going 7-2. It could have easily been 8-1 if the bullpen had held up in the first game of the Orioles series. Still, I'll take 7-2 on a swing through Philly, Chicago, New York and Baltimore.

Who is your AL MVP this year? There's no really obvious candidate at this point. It would be A-Rod if he didn't play for such a crummy team. No one else seems to be having a big no-brainer MVP season this year. You could point to Magglio Ordonez or Frank Thomas with the White Sox, Edgar Martinez of Seattle, Miguel Tejada with the A's and Nomar. The Yankees candidate would probably be Soriano. Jeter was hurt alot and and Giambi was terribly inconsistent, so I wouldn't pick either of them.

Of course, Bill Mueller is a legitimate candidate, too, although I don't think he's enough of a big name to garner enough votes.

NL MVP is a no-brainer though. Who else can you pick besides Albert Pujols?

Monday, September 08, 2003


How do you spell relief? It's sure not R-E-D S-O-X B-U-L-L-P-E-N.

Tonight was one of the ugliest performances yet. The Sox entered the bottom of the 7th with an 8-5 lead and the bullpen proceeds to give up EIGHT runs in two innings: two by Timlin, one each by Embree and Williamson and four unearned runs by Kim. So, the Sox lose, fall 3 and 1/2 back of the Yankees and are only one ahead of the idle Mariners.

Star Trek turns 37!

Today is the 37th anniversary of Star Trek's premiere on NBC in 1966. Do you think that if you took a time machine back and told Gene Roddenberry that a version of Star Trek would be on the air in 2003, he would have you locked up?

School Days

Both kids are now back in school as R. returned to pre-school this morning. She was very excited about going back to see all her friends and told me all about her first day. J's first days of kindergarten seem to have gone well, also. The bus ride seems to be OK, and he appears to be hitting it off with his classmates. There is one kid who seems to be spending a lot of time in "time-out", but it's nothing directly to do with J.

Sunday, September 07, 2003

Well, I guess a sweep in Yankee Stadium was a bit too much to ask.

Suppan's performance was encouraging, though. Three hits, two runs in seven innings. If he can keep that kind of performance up, the Sox have a chance of overtaking the Evil Empire.

The Red Sox are certainly fighting against history (aren't they always?). The Yankees have never lost in 35 times after having been in first place on September 1. They've also never lost a lead of more than 6 games. The Sox were 7 and 1/2 games back earlier in the season. So they're 2 and 1/2 back (3 in the loss column) with 20 to go. And, with Seattle's loss, they're 1 and 1/2 up in the wild card race. They only have 3 more games against a team that's over .500 (White Sox). Baltimore probably worries me the most. The Sox lost 5 of 7 to them in August. Turning that record around would be a good thing.

The less said about events on the other end of New York state, the better. Bledsoe and Milloy both played well. Why can't we get guys like that? I said to someone at work that I thought it would be a small upset if the Pats beat Buffalo at home, but I thought it would be a lot closer than 31-0. Yikes.

Friday, September 05, 2003

I’m sitting here writing this on my iBook as I watch the Red Sox beat on the Yankees 9-0 in the bottom of the 6th.

OK, now it’s 9-1.

It’s heartening that Pedro is looking a lot more Pedro-like tonight. They are going to need him this month if they’re going to get into the post-season.

What pact did Enrique Wilson make with the devil to give him such success against Pedro.?The guy is 10 for 20 against Martinez lifetime. He’s a .252 lifetime hitter against the rest of the universe. 2-for-3 against him tonight, and then he hits into a double play off Sauerbeck. I just don’t get it.

I recently read two of the worst sports books I’ve picked up in a while. The first was “When You Come to a Fork in the Road, Take It!” by Yogi Berra. It was filled with a bunch of Yogi’s famed quotes and then some background on how the quote applied to Yogi’s life and how they can be applied to your life and career. It was basically pretty boring. Yogi’s thoughts on life really aren’t all that interesting. It was mercifully short, though. The book was only about 150 pages long, although the price of the book was $16.95. Fortunately, I got it out of the library.

The second lousy book I’ve read is Chris “Mad Dog” Russo’s “100 Greatest Sports Arguments of All Time” Russo is a talk-show host on New York’s all-sports station, WFAN. He lists what he thinks are the 100 greatest sports arguments and his opinion on each. He takes on such burning issues such as the five greatest female tennis players of all time. The only thing I cared less about than that were Mad Dog’s opinions on practically anything in the book.

Offsetting the bad are two wonderful sports books I read this summer: “The Teammates” by David Halberstam and “The Last Commissioner” by Fay Vincent. “The Teammates” is about the half-century long friendship among Ted Williams, Johnny Pesky, Dom DiMaggio and Bobby Doerr. This book came out of the final trip that DiMaggio and Pesky (along with radio personality Dick Flavin) took down to Florida to visit Ted before he passed away. The thing that made it even more fun for me was the fact that Flavin had described the trip to Florida at Ted Williams memorial service at Fenway last summer. I distinctly remember thinking that the story would make a great book. Halberstam is one of my favorite authors and the book does not disappoint.

The Fay Vincent book was more of a surprise. I thought Vincent did a decent job as Commissioner of Baseball after Bart Giamatti’s demise, but I had no idea of the kind of obstacles many of the owners put in his way. It’s a great read about his life, his relationship with his father, the Pete Rose situation and his time as Commissioner just before the 1994 strike.

All right, since I’m compiling my summer reading list, I’ll add one non-sports recommendation. “Setting the World Ablaze: Washington, Adams and Jefferson and the American Revolution” is a fascinating look at three of the most important figures in American history. It compares and contrasts our first three presidents life experiences, commitment to the revolutionary cause and stands on the important issues of the day, with a particular emphasis on slavery (both Washington and Jefferson were slave owners). If you enjoy reading about history at all, this one is worth picking up.

OK, I’m done and Scott Sauerbeck just struggled through the last of the 7th. He’s been a disappointment since he came over. The guy really needs to throw more strikes. He seems to be getting down 2-0, 3-1 constantly. Sox still lead 9-3, though.

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

The World's Greatest Rock 'n' Roll Band!!!

Apple just announced the availability of many Rolling Stones albums on the iTunes Music Store (iTMS for short). I've never been a huge Stones fan overall, but I like a lot of their individual songs. "Satisfaction", in my opinion, is one of the greatest rock songs ever written, and there are probably about eight or 10 more songs of theirs that I'll download to carry around on my iPod.

That's the beauty of the iTMS. In most cases, you can download individual songs for 99 cents each, instead of having to buy a $15 CD to get 2 or 3 songs you really want. A typical song downloads in less than a minute with a broadband connection.

I really love the "instant" nature of it, too. For example, during the summer we saw James Taylor in concert. He played some stuff from his latest album, October Road. A. decided she really liked the songs she heard and wanted to get the album. When we got home, I fired up iTunes, downloaded the album for $9.99, burned it to a CD and presto! Had the album in less than 15 minutes. No trip to the record store. No waiting for Amazon to ship.

The iTMS is very easy to navigate, has a pretty wide selection of music, and is fully integrated with iTunes, Apple's jukebox software. If you live in the land of the virus-free (i.e., you have a Mac and are using OS 10.2), try it out! If not, Apple is supposed to make a Windows version of iTunes available by the end of the year.

OK, enough of the free commercial for Apple...

On a more serious note

With all the issues surrounding Internet security, identity theft and everything else, I'm going to avoid using full names in the blog (unless they're names of public figures, of course). When I refer to my family, A. will be my wife, J. will be my son and R. will be my daughter. I was thinking about using nicknames, but I couldn't come up with anything good. :-) Safety first!

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

Manny, Manny, Manny...

Well, the circus continues over at Fenway Park. Now it's gone on the road to U.S. Cellular Field (don't you hate that name?). Manager Grady Little has benched his $160 million left fielder/DH over the whole controversy that erupted over the weekend.

For those of you who haven’t turned on a Boston area TV, radio or read the newspaper over the weekend, here’s the short story. Manny Ramirez was reported to be too ill to play in the critical series against the Yankees last weekend, and declined the opportunity to pinch hit in Monday’s game against Philadelphia. However, Manny was in the lobby of the Ritz-Carlton in Boston, where he lives during the season, with Yankees infielder Enrique Wilson on Saturday night. He then missed an appointment with the Red Sox team doctor on Sunday morning. Further inflaming the volatile citizens of Red Sox Nation was a quote by Manny aired by ESPN where he said that he always wanted to play for the Yankees and might try to go there after his contract expires with the Sox.

Here’s my take on this: Manny needs to get on the same page with most of the other members of the team, who seem focused on getting into the playoffs. Grady did the right thing by benching him tonight. It sends a message that this kind of garbage won’t be accepted, even from the superstar players on the team. If you’re sick, get better and get yourself into the lineup. Hanging out in the Ritz lobby visiting with your old pals and missing doctors appointments is not the way to go.

Why can’t we get guys like this?

On the opposite side of the coin from Mr. Ramirez is the San Francisco Giants Barry Bonds. Bonds lost his father, Bobby, last week and then was hospitalized with an irregular heartbeat. So what happens? He drags himself out of the hospital to play in the Giants game against Arizona and hits a bases loaded single to drive in two runs in the ninth and win the game for San Francisco. Say what you want about his personality, Barry Bonds is a gamer and wants to win.

Welcome to my blog. As many of you who are reading this know, I'll occasionally send off some of my musings about the topics of the day to people who I have email addresses for. Well, I thought it might be easier to just post a blog instead. So check back here once in a while and see if I have anything interesting to say.

So what will I be talking about? Well, baseball, Star Trek and other sports will certainly be major topics, since those are the things I’m most interested in. Whatever else strikes my fancy will doubtless come up as well.


Monday, September 01, 2003

Hey! It's the first post to my blog. Now I just have to think of something to write about, and get someone to read it.

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