Monday, July 31, 2006

Has there ever been anyone like David Ortiz? Big Papi did it again tonight, hitting yet another walkoff homer, beating the Indians 9-8.

I can't think of anyone who has ever come through in the clutch so consistently. It's gotten to the point where you expect him to do it.

So who needs to make a deadline trade, anyways?

The trading deadline passed at 4:00 this afternoon. The Yankees picked up Bobby Abreu and Corey Lidle for four minor leaguers, none of whom is considered to be among the Yankees top prospects. The Red Sox countered by doing...nothing.

Actually, this isn't necessarily a bad thing. Theo isn't one to make a trade for the sake of making a trade. He would only make a deal if he felt like he was improving the team and wouldn't trade any of the Sox prized prospects for a number 4 or 5 pitcher.

I think the Sox are hoping that their big upgrades in the last two months will be the return of David Wells and Tim Wakefield. Wells pitched against Cleveland tonight and didn't fare well, giving up 8 runs in 4.2 innings. He did look healthy, however. He mostly seemed to be missing locations and didn't seem to be laboring in throwing 96 pitches. Hopefully a second start will prove to be better.

As we get to August 1, there are essentially four teams battling for two playoff spots (assuming the Tigers don't pull a monumental collapse). The Sox and Yankees will be going for the AL East, while the Sox, Yankees, Twins and White Sox are all within a couple of games of each other for the wild card spot. It's going to be really fun to watch what happens over the next two months.

Other than the Yankees trade, there weren't too many other big deals. Carlos Lee went from the Brewers to the Rangers and future Hall of Famer Greg Maddux moved from Wrigley to Dodger Stadium. Probably the biggest surprise was that Alfonso Soriano stayed put with the Nationals. Most of the experts thought he would move somewhere.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

A. and I just watched the documentary Supersize Me. For those of you not familiar with the premise, the filmmaker, Morgan Spurlock, goes on an all-McDonald's diet for 30 days. He also explores the obesity epidemic in the U.S., and some of the causes for it - easy and cheap availability of high fat, high sugar processed foods; lack of exercise caused, at least in part, by our car dependent culture; and multi-billion dollar advertising campaigns by big food companies, among others. He notes in the movie that McDonalds, Pepsi and Hersheys combined spent around $2.5 billion in direct advertising for TV, radio and print. That's only three of the many big food companies out there.

During the 30 days of Spurlock's experiment he gains about 25 pounds, his cholesterol goes up 65 points and many of his blood tests go to hell. His liver essentially turns to mush. The three doctors he is seeing seem shocked that a high fat diet can cause this kind of damage and are advising him after three weeks that he needs to stop. He does make it through the 30 days, but it takes 8 weeks of a vegan diet to get his medical test results back to where they were before his McD's binge and about a year to lose the weight.

Now, I'm far from a health food nut and I enjoy the occassional trip to McDonald's or Wendy's as much as the next guy, but I typically don't eat at these places more than 2 or 3 times a month. After seeing this movie, I suspect that number will go down.

If you haven't seen this movie, either rent it from your local video store or check it out if it comes to your local cable (we watched it on the Sundance Channel). It may open your eyes.

Friday, July 28, 2006

The MLB Extra Innings package paid for itself earlier this week, as I got to watch an outstanding pitching duel between the Twins Johan Santana and the White Sox Jose Contreras. It was an amazing game; a 1-1 pitcher's duel until the 7th, when Contreras gave up a 3 run homer to Jason Bartlet and Joe Crede hit a two run bomb off Santana. The difference in the two homers turned out to be the margin of victory as the Twins ended up winning the game.

We are well into the silly season as WEEI listeners try to come up with their own trades as we approach the trading deadline on Monday. Trot Nixon seemed to be a popular trading target. There were lots of people who essentially wanted to trade Trot and a bag of dirty socks for guys like Scott Kazmir and Barry Zito. It's amazing how local fans overvalue our guys and underestimate the intelligence of the front office staffs of the other teams.

Monday, July 24, 2006

The kids and I went to see the Brockton Rox play the Nashua Pride last night. It was an entertaining game as the Rox won 7-3. The Rox have a Sunday promotion they call "Family FunDay" and there is all sorts of stuff going on for the kids. R. got to ride a pony (you have never seen such a big grin on a kids face) and they had some games we checked out around the 6th inning. It was a fun way to end the weekend.

The whole Pittsfield baseball team thing has pretty much faded into memory, but every once in a while I see something that ticks me off all over again. This was from a Travel section article on Pittsfield in Sunday's Boston Globe.

Take, for example, the more than 80 outsized baseball gloves (big enough for a small child to sit in) decorated by local students and scattered throughout the city. There are also dozens of other baseball-related sculptures and themed window displays, all part of ``Art of the Game, " a two-year public art and baseball project.

The city's baseball mania dates to at least 1791 when a bylaw was passed prohibiting the playing of the game within 80 yards of the new meeting house ``for preservation of the windows." In 1859, Pittsfield was home to the country's first inter collegiate baseball game , in which Amherst defeated Williams. Wahconah Park was built in 1892 and was the scene of many memorable games by big-name players, including Lou Gehrig , who in 1924 hit a home run into the Housatonic River while playing for the minor-league Hartford Senators . The park will host another big name when Bob Dylan performs there Aug. 26 .

How much do you think Pittsfield's "baseball mania" would be enhanced if they had a CanAm League franchise playing in a newly refurbished Wahconah Park?

I know I shouldn't fall back into this, but when I think about what could have been and how the selfishness of a few idiots from that 5th rate burg kept it from happening, it just pisses me off.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

The teaser poster for Star Trek XI was handed out to lucky attendees at San Diego Comic Con this weekend. Obviously, it's an Original Series era uniform insignia, with the traditional Command gold and Science blue uniform colors. It'll be interesting to see what comes of this, but it looks like we'll have until 2008 to find out.

Three quick baseball thoughts:

- The Sox offense is giving me some cause for concern. Other than the 5 home run outburst against the Mariners Saturday night, the bats have been a bit anemic of late. They only scored 7 runs total in three games against the Royals, then only scored 2 yesterday against Seattle's wunderkind, Felix Hernandez and the Mariner's bullpen.

- The whole Shea Hillenbrandt saga in Toronto was pretty interesting to watch from afar. As you might remember, Hillenbrandt was traded from the Red Sox in 2003 for Byung Hyun Kim after he made a negative comment about Theo Epstein. Now he ticked off Jays manager John Gibbons, the last straw apparently coming when Hillenbrandt wrote "This ship is sinking" on a chalk board before a game. Hillenbrandt was traded to the Giants, where any controversey he might generate will fade into the background compared to the Barry Bonds saga, so it might be good place for him.

- Anyone notice the Tigers are now 6 and 1/2 games up in the Central? Or that the white-hot Twins have been sneaking up on the White Sox and are now only 3 games out of the wild card spot?

Thursday, July 20, 2006

A. and I went to see Ringo Starr and his All-Starr Band at the Bank of America Pavillion last night. It was a great show. The All Starr Band this time around included Rod Argent of the Zombies, Richard Marx, Billy Squier, Sheila E., Edgar Winter and Hamish Stewart. Ringo sang a some Beatles songs and some stuff from his solo career. Each of the others did a couple of their own songs or a cover of something else of their choosing.

I thought Ringo was in fine form. He really sounded good on his songs, especially Beatles classics like Yellow Submarine and A Little Help from my Friends. All the others are very professional musicians. Edgar Winter and Rod Argent really brought the house down with their sets and Sheila E. did a pretty astounding drum solo.

The crowd was really into the music, including the pair that was sitting next to us. That's right, we had the two women who will forever be known to us as The Drunk, Stoned Lesbians. They sat down next to us and would wander in and out of their seats, and every time they returned they had another beer. One of them started chatting with me, made it very clear that she had started drinking long before she arrived at the concert.

It was all pretty amusing and then one of them lit up a joint! Now, maybe I have just been living my sheltered, suburban life for too long, but I was a little surprised. I'm just not used to women in their 40's (keep in mind that I was at the young end of the demographic for this concert) lighting up. Maybe I just need to get out more.

So, between Ringo and the Drunk, Stoned Lesbians, it was quite a memorable night!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Make sure you check out this picture from my favorite Red Sox fan site, Surviving Grady. David Wells and Meat Loaf meeting at Fenway? If that's not an event of cosmic proportions, I don't know what is. The picture is at the end of the entry.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Doug Mientkiewicz returned to Fenway tonight with the Royals and continues to gripe about the World Series ball. Can we give this a rest already? The ball is in it's rightful place in Cooperstown and the story should be over.

Keith Foulke then decided it was necessary to chime in that he thought that he should have had the ball instead of Mientkiewicz. He also appears to be annoyed that the Hall of Fame still has the shoes he was wearing when he got the final out of the Series. Typically people give these things to the Hall for keeps, but Foulke seems to want his shoes back to put in a trophy case in his home. Y'know, Foulke will always have my eternal gratitude for the way he pitched in the 2004 post-season, but he sure says some stupid things sometimes.

Do Doug Mientkiewicz and Mark Grudzielanek make up the all-time hardest to spell right side of an infield?

Speaking of World Series balls, I recently finished the wonderful Lou Gehrig biography Luckiest Man by Jonathan Eig. Eig mentions that Gehrig kept the ball he caught for the final out of one of the Yankees six World Series championships during his career. Apparently, none of the Yankees management asked for the ball back. Of course, if David Ortiz or Manny had wanted to keep the ball instead of a role player like Mientkiewicz, Red Sox management might not have made such a big stink about it either.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

We spent a wonderful day down in Narragansett yesterday. We went to Sand Hill Cove beach on a hot summer Saturday. I went there regularly as a kid and it's a great family beach. A. bought "boogie boards" for the kids and they had a blast surfing the waves with them.

Amazingly, J. met another boy his age adopted from Korea! He even had a younger sister - about a year younger than R. I spoke with the parents and it turns out they live not too far from us. A. is trying to track them down through an adoption listserv she belongs to. We'll see if it works out.

We then went to George's of Galilee, a Rhode Island institution, for dinner. We had the required clam cakes and chowder; A. had lobster and I had fried clam strips. Everything was very tasty and very fresh. Good stuff.

The only negative to the weekend was the Red Sox. It's really unacceptable to lose 3 of 4 to Oakland at Fenway. The only bright spot was Curt Schilling's dominant performance last night as the Sox recorded their first shutout of the season. Hopfully we can get better against the Royals. Anything less than a sweep would be bad.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

I had to work late last night, so I didn't get a chance to finish my look at the first half of the baseball season. So, here we go with the American League.

AL West: The defending champion Angels are the disappointment of the first half. They have certainly missed the presence of defending Cy Young Award winner Bartolo Colon, who only made 7 starts. However, since the rest of the division is pretty bad as well - the A's and Rangers are tied for first, only 2 games over .500 - the Angels are only 2 games out of the lead, with the Mariners bringing up the rear only a half game behind LA/Anaheim/California/whatever. I give the A's the best shot to take the division. They continue to produce good young pitchers like Dan Haren, Huston Street and Rich Harden (who is currently on the DL). Also, another Moneyball star, Nick Swisher, has 21 home runs for the A's.

AL Central: I don't think anyone would have thought at the beginning of the year that the Detroit Tigers would be sitting with a 2 game lead on the defending champion White Sox and the best record in baseball. Great pitching has carried the Tigers - they are the only AL team with an ERA under 4.00. You can't count the White Sox out, of course. The Twins have been playing well, of late, but they are still 11 games behind the Tigers. Cleveland is the big disappointment of this division. They nearly overtook the Red Sox for the wild card last year and had a chance to win the division, but they are now 7 games under .500 and 18.5 games back. The less said about the Royals, the better, although they have been playing a bit better lately.

AL East: The Red Sox would seem to have some schedule advantages; they have 44 games at Fenway in the 2nd half (32 on the road) and they get to play the Royals nine times. I would have liked to have seen them open up more than a three game lead on the Yankees while they have had all those injuries. Toronto is good enough to hang around down to the end of the season, but I don't see them overtaking the two big guys quite yet. As Curt Schilling said, Tampa Bay is going to be a dangerous team once they get some consistent pitching. The Orioles continue to be terrible - I can easily see them finishing behind the Rays by the end of the year.

That's it. Enjoy the second half of the season!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Here's my wrap-up of the first half of the 2006 season as I sit here watching the All-Star Game. It's coming from the incredible PNC Park in Pittsburgh, someplace I have to get back to someday. I'll throw in an All-Star comment, too, as the situation warrants.

I'll start with the National League tonight and I'll do the American League tomorrow.

National League West: The division is a heck of a lot better than last year, when there was a very real possibility that none of the teams would finish above .500. This year at the break, all the teams except last place Arizona have won more than they lost. The Padres lead by two games at the break this year, but the division is wide open - only 5 games separate first and last place. The Padres could hold on, especially if Jake Peavy comes back in the 2nd half - he was only 4-8 at the break. The Dodgers look pretty good, too, with Nomah making a bid for comeback player of the year. I am, of course, rooting against the Giants and Barry Bonds just on general principles.

Vladimir Guerrero just hit an astounding home run - a 98 MPH fastball from Brad Penny up around his shoulders on the outside part of the plate and he goes the opposite way and hits it over the right field fence. He's an amazing bad ball hitter. I saw the replay 4 times and I still have no idea how he hit that with any power.

NL Central: The Cardinals lead by 4 at the break, despite losing Albert Pujols for three weeks. The Reds certainly had a nice run, led by some better than expected pitching, but have fallen back a bit and are only a game over .500. The Brewers are a game under, but have a really interesting team with guys like Carlos Lee, Prince Fielder and Chris Capuano. Houston is still dangerous and will likely compete for the wild card. The Cubs have been a huge disappointment; it's starting to look like Mark Prior and Kerry Wood may end up in the "unfulfilled potential" file.

NL East: What else can you say other than that the Braves streak of 14 consecutive division championships looks like it's over. The Mets lead the division by 12 games over the Phillies; the Braves are 13 back. They aren't going to do anything this year, but the Marlins have played pretty well after getting off to a terrible start. They have a raft of great young players, led by Dontrelle Willis and Miguel Cabrera. With guys like Hanley Martinez and Dan Uggla learning on the job in the Major Leagues, this could be a dangerous team in a couple of years.

Monday, July 10, 2006

I went to the Shore Leave Star Trek convention at the lovely Hunt Valley Marriott north of Baltimore last weekend. The occasion was the 20th anniversary of the USS Christa McAuliffe, the Star Trek club I co-founded.

Celebrating the anniversary with my friends was terrific. We had a dinner on Saturday night at a restaurant near the hotel called Padonia Station. It's a nice sports bar with good pub food. We had a separate room, and we were even welcomed on the electronic message board on the restaurant's street sign. There were 24 of us at dinner. Most of the folks had traveled down from New England, but we had folks from Maryland, Florida and California. One nice thing was that some old friends who many of us hadn't seen in years stopped by with their kids. They were the first couple who met through the McAuliffe to get married, and it was really nice to see them.

It was great hanging out with all my friends in general during the weekend. The crew of the McAuliffe is like family to me and it was wonderful to be able to spend time with so many of them and catch up with the ones I don't see very often.

That said, I think this was my last weekend trip without my family for a while.

By Saturday night, I was really missing them. I don't see much of the kids during the week and when I don't see them on the weekend, well, I don't enjoy it. I want to be able to spend time with them, at least while they still want to spend time with me. I little romantic weekend away with A. would be one thing but taking off by myself isn't going to be happening any time soon.

I also found that Shore Leave wasn't what it once was to me. I have a lot of history with this convention. I went to my first one in 1986 and I went every year except one until 1998, the year after J. came home.

It took me 5 years to get back to another one, in 2003. I went down to Baltimore and, quite honestly, I was bored by Saturday night. But I thought it was a fluke. I decided this time to attend more panels and do more "con" stuff. And I have to say that if we didn't have the McAuliffe dinner on Saturday night, I would have taken my rented Toyota Matix and headed down to RFK Stadium to catch the Nationals game. I did intend to go to the Saturday night parties and hang out with my friends, but I decided to lay down for a few minutes in the hotel room and woke up three hours later, at about 2 AM. Sunday morning I wandered around the convention, stopped at a panel, left bored 20 minutes later, ran into a few friends and headed into the Inner Harbor.

Baltimore is a great town and I know the kids would love it there. A. and I have tentatively scheduled a trip there next Memorial Day weekend. There is a ton of stuff to do just in the Inner Harbor - the National Aquarium, the Maryland Science Center, the USS Constellation, hopefully a game at Camden Yards.

I don't mean to make it sound like I was miserable all weekend. I loved being with the crew and it was great to be able to celebrate this milestone with everyone. There was some fun stuff at the con as well. Connor Trineer (Trip Tucker from Star Trek: Enterprise) gave an entertaining talk. My old friend Mojo did a great presentation about doing special effects on Battlestar Galactica. He showed the "pre-visualization" of a special effects sequence he worked on for the show, then showed the final product from the actual episode. It was really interesting to see how the whole process worked. However, I just don't think science fiction conventions are my thing at this stage of my life.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

I just got back from a weekend at the Shore Leave Star Trek convention in Baltimore. I'll post a full report on that in the next couple of days. I did want to talk about the Sox weekend in Chicago first.

Teams can turn things around in baseball so quickly. The Sox went from dropping three of four to the Devil Rays to winning two of three from the defending World Series champion White Sox at The Cell (I really hate that name). They nearly swept, but were beaten in 19 innings today, with Papelbon and Timlin both blowing leads - Papelbon in the 9th on a Jermaine Dye homer and Timlin in the 11th after coming in with a two run lead. It's a shame they lost, but I really can't be unhappy taking two out of three from the Pale Hose.

Right now I'm watching the last game before the All Star break, an outstanding duel between Andy Pettite of the Astros and the Cardinals Chris Carpenter. It's 1-0 Cards in the top of the 6th, the difference being an RBI single by (who else?) Albert Pujols.

Along with the Shore Leave report, I'll have my mid-season look at MLB thus far before the second half of the season starts. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Saw this on

There was a hard-to-miss sports theme in the town of Franklin's July 4th parade. Yes, that was Franklin native Peter Laviolette holding the Stanley Cup as the parade rolled through town.

Laviolette is the head coach of the Carolina Hurricanes, who won the NHL's prized trophy in 2005-2006.

So now Ray Bourque brought the Stanley Cup to Boston as a member of the Colorado Avalanche and Laviolette brings it to Massachusetts as coach of the Hurricanes.

Personally, I'm going to wait until the Boston Bruins bring one home before I get very excited about it. It's been 34 years since the B's last Stanley Cub win behind Bobby Orr and the Big Bad Bruins back in 1972.

Of course, if new GM Peter Chiarelli and new coach Dave Lewis can't improve the Bruins recent fortunes, 1972 may become the new 1918.

By the way, why does Lewis look so pissed off in every single picture I see of the guy? Some of the articles I have read describe him as easy going, but the pictures I have seen make him look like someone just ran over his dog.

Yes, this was a Bruins post! Don't expect to see another one for quite a while.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

It's been kind of an unusual week. My father-in-law had heart bypass surgery last week. He fortunately came through it very well. He's still at the hospital in the cardiac unit, but we're hoping he'll get to come home before the weekend. A. has been spending a lot of time visiting him and I'm hoping to head over for a bit during lunch tomorrow.

Also last week, the woman who sits in the cubicle next to me at work was hit by a car and killed while walking near her home last week. Needless to say, everyone was shocked by the news. She was only 45 years old. When you say goodbye to someone at the end of the day, you don't expect to hear that the person is dead the next morning. News like this really puts life in perspective.

Sorry to dump all this bad news on you, but it was something I felt like I had to get out. Back to the fun stuff next time.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

I saw Superman Returns last night. No spoilers here; I'll just say that I enjoyed the movie quite a bit. It was a nice continuation of the first two Christopher Reeve Superman movies.

There was some nice chemistry in the cast. Brandon Routh does a fine job as the Man of Steel. He projects the right mix of majesty and power and he looks good in the blue suit. He also does an excellent Clark Kent; he is really reminiscent of Reeve as the mild mannered reporter. The rest of the cast is great as well. Kevin Spacey channels his inner Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor. Actually, Spacey's Luthor is more of a "heavy" than Hackman's. Kate Bosworth does a nice job as Lois Lane as well.

One thing that was nice to see was that Noel Neill and Jack Larsen (Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen from the 1950's Adventures of Superman TV series) had more than minor background cameos. They both did a nice job and it was nice to see the Jimmy and Lois I grew up with get some decent screen time in the 21st century version of Superman.

In fact, there was a ton of "inside" stuff in this movie for a lifelong Superman fanboy like me. Not to give anything away, but there were references in this movie from everything from Action Comics No. 1 onwards.

Not that the movie was perfect. The plot was a bit convoluted, but was redeemed by the relationships between the characters and some spectacular action sequences. It was also a bit long - I could have easily seen chopping 20 minutes out of the film.

All in all, however, Superman Returns is a fitting resurrection of the Superman movie franchise. If you are a Superman fan, you'll like the movie and love the inside jokes. If not, it's a good popcorn action flick.

eXTReMe Tracker