Friday, March 30, 2007

I saw this on the Universal Hub Web site and couldn't believe it, so I tried it for myself. Go to Google Maps and try it for yourself. Just ask for directions from Boston to London, and this is what you get for the 11th step:

11. Swim across the Atlantic Ocean 3,462 Mi

I'd better get my water wings...

Took the day off for my birthday today. I wandered around Boston for most of the day and did something I had never done before, which was to go to the Samuel Adams brewery in the city for their tour.

The brewery is a bit off the beaten path, located in the Jamaica Plain section of the city, nowhere near the tourist areas. It's located in an old brewery built in the 1870s for the Haffenreffer brewing company.

The tour is a lot of fun. It starts out with a bit of history, about Samuel Adams the patriot and the beer, plus a bit about brewing in Boston. There's an introductory video hosted by Jim Koch, the founder of the Boston Beer Company.

Then you are taken into the brewery itself, where the brewing process is explained. Did you know there are only four ingredients in "real" beer? Water, hops, malt and yeast.

Interestingly, the Boston Beer Company brews very little beer in the city. The Boston brewery is mostly an R&D facility, where new beers are developed. They do brew a small quantity of beer for some local bars, but only in kegs. There's no bottling facility on site. 60% of the company's beer is brewed at the facility they own in Cincinnati, with the rest done by contract brewers.

Of course, the highlight of the tour is the beer tasting at the end. They let us try three different types of beer. It was fun, we learned a little about beer, and it was free! How can you beat free beer?

I ended the tour in the inevitable gift shop, picking up a T-shirt and a refrigerator magnet. I highly recommend the tour if you are a beer drinker (especially a Sam Adams drinker). It's worth heading out there for.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Looks like the Sox 25 man roster is shaping up. Craig Hansen and Manny Delcarmen got sent down to Pawtucket. Unfortunately, neither of the young guns the Sox are hoping will form the foundation of their bullpen down the line showed enough to displace any of the veterans.

Hansen's spring was particularly troubling. He had an ERA of over 15 and gave up five runs in 2/3 of an inning in his last appearance. He was very inconsistent and doesn't seem to have matured enough to compete in the big leagues.

I'm hoping that some time with the Pawsox will give Hansen time to get his head (and that nasty slider) together. He's got a great arm and lots of potential. I hope the Sox are patient with him as well. I'd hate to see him turn into another Cla Meredith.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

We went down to the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence yesterday to see the Harlem Globetrotters. I haven't seen the Globetrotters in at least 15 years, and saw them a number of times as a kid.

We had a great time. The Globetrotters are as funny as ever. They guys who play on the team are good athletes and great showmen. The game, as always, is unimportant. I almost feel bad for the poor guys on the nominal competition, the New York Nationals, who have to play the straight guys for the Trotters night after night.

The show is a nice combination of slam dunks, set pieces and ad libbing by the Trotters. The kids loved it and A. and I had a great time as well. If they're in your neighborhood, they're worth checking out.

Friday, March 23, 2007

To the surprise of practically no one, the Red Sox announced that Jonathan Papelbon was being returned to his role as closer. Julian Tavarez will take Papelbon's place in the starting rotation.

This is a good move by the Sox. None of the potential candidates were stepping up into the closers role, and none of them, other than the 40-year-old Mike Timlin, have had extensive closing experience. Add to that the fact that Timlin will be starting the year on the DL and moving Papelbon back into the bullpen was the only logical move short of a trade for an established closer.

Tavarez pitched well as the number 5 starter at the end of last season when the rotation was decimated by injuries. If Tavarez shows he can't do the job in the long term there are other options like John Lester (when he's ready), Kyle Snyder, who has pitched well in Spring Training, or even a potential trade. It's just a heck of a lot easier to get a number 4/5 starter in a trade than it is to get an elite closer.

So, I'm excited about having Pap back in the 'pen. Only 10 days until the opener in Kansas City, folks!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

I was in a bookstore recently and was taking a look at the book 1,000 Places to See Before You Die. It got me to thinking about the places I would like to see before I kick off.

1. The Ultimate Road Trip: I have talked about this here before. This is the road trip to all 30 Major League ballparks.

2. Europe: Specifically, I would love to go to London (because it sounds like a cool place), Paris (because it's supposed to be as romantic as places get) and Italy (because A. spent some time there as a child).

3. Disneyland: Although I have been to Disney World numerous times, I have never been to Walt's original park. It seems like something I need to do.

4. Korea: I have been there twice to pick up the kids, but obviously didn't have time to do a lot of sightseeing. We have a trip scheduled with a company that runs trips for adoptive families for the Summer of 2009.

5. I-90, end to end: I have spent most of the last 25 years of my life living within a short distance of the Massachusetts Turnpike, which is Interstate 90. The road runs from Boston to Seattle. I have driven it as far west as Chicago, but that's only about a third of the way through. I have also been to each end - Logan Airport in Boston and the junction with I-5 in Seattle, but I would love to drive the whole thing someday.

6. Israel: I think a trip to the homeland of the Jewish people is a must.

7. Las Vegas: I have never been, believe it or not. I'm not a big gambler, but I think I would like to go to see the spectacle, the shows and the Star Trek Experience.

8. Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: I have had a couple of memorable trips to Cleveland, including one with the USS McAuliffe to go to the International Superman Exposition in 1988, but they all predated the opening of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. It's really a must-see, for me.

9. Memphis: Four reasons: (1) Graceland; (2) Beale St.; (3)The National Civil Rights Museum; (4)Amazing BBQ. I went there two years ago to deal with some of the stuff from my great-aunt's estate, but had no time for any sightseeing (although I did have some BBQ). I would also include a side trip to the Shiloh National Military Park, the site of the Civil War battle, about 2 hours away.

10. Space: Why not? Virgin Galactic is going to be doing suborbital flights. They are going to be very expensive to start, but I'm guessing the cost will come down over the next decade or so. If it got down to $25,000-$30,000, would I think about doing it? You bet.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

- Two weeks from tonight the major league baseball season starts as the Mets play the World Series champion Cardinals. I really can't wait for games that mean something.

- I was watching some of the Louisville-Texas A&M matchup in NCAA tournament yesterday, and I was a bit surprised by the vehemence of my negative reaction to Louisville coach Rick Pitino. I know he basically ruined the Celtics for a decade, but I got very annoyed whenever he showed up on the screen.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

One of the things I missed as a Red Sox fan was the 1967 season. I was only 3 years old at the time, so I don't remember it. I can only imagine the excitement of that magical summer.

The 1967 season really marked the beginning of Red Sox fandom as we know it. The Sox were a bad team for most of the 1950's and the first part of the '60's. They finished in 9th place in 1966. The only redeeming feature of the season was the fact that they beat out the 10th place Yankees.

The Sox weren't drawing them through the turnstiles in droves, either. They drew 811,172 fans in 1966, less than a third of a typical year now. Fenway Park was considered old and outmoded. Tom Yawkey, the Sox owner, was beginning to discuss plans for a domed stadium to replace Fenway with Boston city officials. Can you imagine that?

Even though I don't have any personal memories of the Impossible Dream Red Sox, that doesn't mean I don't know anything about them. I have read many books, of course, and there was the Impossible Dream record album.

Remember it? Ken Coleman narrated an album that featured the important moments of the 1967 season, from Billy Rohr's near no-hitter in Yankee Stadium to the last weekend against the Twins. It also includes the "Yaz Song", celebrating Carl Yastrzemski's Triple Crown season.

Of course, I had a copy of the vinyl album as a kid. I couldn't begin to tell you how many dozens of times I listened to it. Eventually, it became so scratched it became unlistenable. I don't even know what happened to it.

So, I was surfing around on Ebay the other night and I discovered that someone was selling copies (I think they're legitimate) of the Impossible Dream album on CD! I purchased a copy and it arrived today.

It's as great as I remember, even overlooking the 1960's era recording technology. So many of the great plays and excitement of that season are on the album; it almost feels like I was there.

I'll probably pick up the 1975 "Super Sox" album, too. I vividly remember that season, and I had that album as well, once upon a time. I'll post about it when I get it.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

It's always a good day when things are going badly for the Yankees.

In his latest odd outburst, Alex Rodriguez basically told Yankees fans on the Mike & the Mad Dog show that if he didn't start getting some love from them this season, he would exercise the walk option in his contract and become a free agent. No doubt the Cubs would open the vault to reunite A-Rod with his first manager, Lou Pinella.

This guy gets to be more and more of a distraction. His poor relationship with Jeter and this latest event are going to make it a really interesting summer in the Bronx. You have to wonder if Brian Cashman is thinking about just dealing A-Rod and getting something for him while he's still under contract.

I'm really glad that trade for Manny never got done. Perhaps A-Rod should take a page from Manny's book and stop talking to the media. It would probably do him a lot of good.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Someone really needs to explain this to me. I was reading about the Patriots signing of wide receiver Donte Stallworth. It sounds like a good pickup for the Pats, although Stallworth has been injury prone and never really fulfilled the potential he showed out of college. If he can stay healthy, he gives the Pats the big play receiver they were lacking last season

The article notes the various bonuses that Stallworth is entitled to as part of the package, including a $300,000 workout bonus.

A workout bonus? Shouldn't the minimum expected requirement be that a professional athlete shows up for his job in great physical condition? It's like if I hired a new accountant and gave him a bonus because he is good at math.

This isn't the 1950's or '60's when most pro athletes needed to take off-season jobs to make ends meet and used training camp to get in shape for the season. These guys should be working out pretty much year-round. Giving a guy a bonus for doing what he should be doing as part of the preparation to do his job to the best of his ability just seems ludicrous.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

I posted a link to it last night, but make sure your check out Curt Schilling's blog. Great reading, and it's not the usual prepackaged, PR cleansed crap that you see on most athletes blogs. I'm not sure if Schill will keep up with the volume he's been posting the last few days, but this is must reading if you are a baseball fan.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Welcome to the blogosphere, Curt Schilling!

It's been a busy week at work, so I have been too tired to do much blogging this week. A couple of things I did want to comment on, though:

The death of Captain America: In case you missed it in the various media, Marvel Comics killed off the iconic superhero Captain America in the latest issue of his comic book. I haven't actually seen the issue yet (I'm hoping that the guy at my local comics store held one for me), but I have been reading Cap's adventures for decades, so I have some pretty strong feelings about his death.

To me, Captain America always represented the ideal of what America should be. Cap always fought to defend the American dream as he understood it. He didn't necessarily fight for what the politicians or military thought he should be fighting for, but for what he (and many of us, I think) believe America should be.

Is Captain America's death a metaphor for the death of the American dream under the Bush Administration? I don't know what the intent of the folks at Marvel was, but that's the way I'm reading it.

Extra Innings goes to DirectTV: MLB finally announced the agreement with DirecTV. Of course, they couldn't get it done without Bud Selig calling the fans concerns "ridiculous". Once again, baseball proves that it thrives in spite of the men who run it, not because of them.

Y'know what? I can find something else the spend the $180 on this year. I'm certainly not going through the hassle of switching to DirecTV.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Scott Adams wrote about cool technology in his Dilbert Blog. Scott was writing about Google Alerts. My favorite cool technology is the GPS built into my phone. I think it's remarkable that my phone can tell me how to get from one place to another.

Wow, that was short, but I have nothing else to say. Have fun!

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Here's a lesson in what not to say to a couple of 9-year-olds.

One of J.'s friends joined us for dinner tonight. I had told J. earlier today that I was going to take him to the Baseball Hall of Fame in April. His friend is hoping to go this year as well.

We were talking about Cooperstown and I was telling them about the "Discovery Tour" the Hall has for kids. It's basically a scavenger hunt though the Hall. You answer a bunch of questions based on exhibits in the museum. If you fill out the entire questionaire, you get a pack of Hall of Fame baseball cards.

So we were talking about the cards, and J.'s friend said, "Can you get Babe Ruth?" So I cleverly said, "You might get Babe Ruth, or you might get Heinie Manush.

OK, so Heinie Manush may have been the wrong Hall of Famer to pick for a couple of 9-year-olds. Giggling discussions of his name were all we heard for the next half hour. But it was all in fun.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Proving that I have been caught up in Matsuzaka Mania, too, I recorded Daisuke's Spring Training debut for the Sox. We were at "Bingo for Books" at the kids school this evening, so I couldn't watch the game live.

Overall, I was pretty impressed. Even taking into account that the game was against Boston College, Daisuke looked pretty impressive, giving up only a leadoff double in his two innings of work. He mixed in a number of his breaking pitches with a 92-93 MPH fastball and seemed to have good command for his first outing of the spring.

An exhibition against BC is hardly conclusive evidence, but out of the gate Matsuzaka seemed to live up to his billing.

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