Thursday, May 31, 2007

If you have any interest in technology, watch this highlight video of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates together at the All Things Digital conference sponsored by the Wall Street Journal.

And is it just me, or does Jobs come across as the coolest guy in the room and Gates comes across as the guy who ran the filmstrip projector in your high school physics class?

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

In case you were worried about Josh Beckett in his return from the DL, don't be. 7 innings, 3 hits, 2 runs, 7 K's and 1 walk. Even more important, no avulsions, blisters or any other odd skin problems on his finger. Sox win 4-2. The Yankees dropped their 5th straight to the Blue Jays and are now 14.5 games behind the Sox.

Yankee fans are totally spoiled. The New York Times printed this article (registration required) by author Jane Heller, who says she is divorcing the Yankees for "mental cruelty".

Mental cruelty? You dump your team because they're having a lousy two months? That's not being a fan. That's being a front-running, bandwagon jumper. A true fan sticks with his or her team through thick and thin. Jumping ship at the first sign of adversity doesn't cut it.

You want mental cruelty? I lived through Jim Burton, Bucky Dent, Mookie Wilson and Aaron Boone, among others, before I finally got the payoff in 2004.

So, stop whining, Yankee fans. Nobody wants to hear it.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Ways to tell things are going your way:

- Kevin Youkilis, not exactly noted for his blazing speed, hits an inside the park home run.

- Curt Schilling, who has been a bit shaky in his last couple of starts, goes seven innings, giving up one run, no walks and striking out 10 against a very good Cleveland team.

- You closer gives up a run, has second and third, no outs and gets out of it with a 5-3 win.

- The Yankees dropped their 4th in a row to the Blue Jays tonight. The Sox are now 13.5 games ahead of the Yankees and 11.5 ahead of second place Baltimore.

One team for whom things haven't been going so well are the Milwaukee Brewers, who have lost six in a row, dropping a 2-1 decision to the Braves today. In fact, since I announced that the Brewers were my National League team for this year the Brew Crew has gone 4-12. They do still lead the NL Central by 5 games, and they have some astonishingly devoted fans.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

11.5 game lead in the East. 12 ahead of the Yankees.

I got nothing else. Just sit back and enjoy it.

Friday, May 25, 2007

This kind of thing really makes me angry.

The father of Josh Hancock, the Cardinals pitcher who died in a car accident earlier this year, is suing the restaurant where Hancock was drinking, the operator of the tow truck Hancock plowed into, and unbelievably, the guy who's car broke down and was waiting to be towed.

He's suing despite the fact that Hancock's blood alcohol content was nearly twice the legal limit, he was talking on a cell phone and he was speeding. He also wasn't wearing a seatbelt, although the police said at the time of the accident that it wouldn't have saved him.

According to an article on, Mike Shannon's restaurant is being sued for providing him with drinks after he was intoxicated. The tow truck driver is being sued for taking too long to get the broken down car out of the road. Worst of all, the lawyer says that guy with the broken down car was "negligent" for letting his car break down.

That's really unbelievable. I don't know about you, but I'm pretty careful about getting the recommended maintenance on my car when it's due. I still broke down once on the Mass Pike because a sensor died. Cars are complicated machines and they break down, sometimes at the worst possible moment.

Whatever happened to personal responsibility? Josh Hancock could have stopped drinking before he became intoxicated. He could have called a cab or a friend to take him home. He made the decision to be talking on his cell phone while driving over the speed limit on the highway.

I have no respect for drunk drivers. Not only do they endanger their own life, but they endanger the lives of innocent people driving their cars. Professional athletes talk about "respect" all the time. Josh Hancock showed no respect for anyone else on the road that night.

I don't bear any ill will toward Josh Hancock. He made a series of bad decisions that night and they cost him his life. If you're apportioning out blame, maybe 2% goes to Mike Shannon's for serving him when he was drunk and the other 98% goes to Hancock.

I'm sorry that Mr. Hancock lost his son. As a father, I can't imagine anything worse than having to bury one of my children. But I hope he comes to his senses and leaves these people alone.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

With the Sox on an off-day, it didn't take me long to figure out what to watch. Mets-Braves from Atlanta with a classic pitching matchup: Glavine vs. Smoltz.

The game has certainly lived up to the billing of having two future Hall of Famers starting. The Braves got a run in the first on a Jeff Francouer sac fly and another on a Matt Diaz homer in the second and that's been it until the 9th. Glavine went 6 innings and Glavine went 7 for his 200th victory (to go along with 154 saves).

Bob Wickman had a bit of a heart attack save in the 9th, as Kelly Johnson made an error that led to a run in the Braves 2-1 win.

Games like this are why I buy the Extra Innings package.

By the way, does anyone else find it amusing that the Braves have a player named (Pete) Orr, and he wears number 4?

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Well, the Sox lost 2 out of 3 in New York, but I'm not too disappointed. Avoiding a sweep, which would have put the Yankees 7 and 1/2 back and given them real hope, was the minimum standard for me for this visit to the Bronx.

My main issue is that Curt Schilling has had a couple of poor outings in a row. Schill gave up six runs (5 earned) and 12 hits in 6 innings. Hopefully, this is just a bit of a slump and Curt will get back on track.

On to Texas to play a pretty bad Texas team. Hopefully we can grab at least two out of three in Arlington and get back on track.

Monday, May 21, 2007

It would be my luck to get the one crappy game of the weekend.

As you probably know, the Sox lost game 2 of the day/night doubleheader to the Atlanta Braves 14-0. John Smoltz was outstanding for the Braves for 7 innings, as befits his probable Hall of Fame status. He gave up 3 hits, 1 walk and had 7 K's during his outing, as his teammates on the offensive side built a massive lead off (very) temporary Pawtucket call-up Devern Hansack and a succession of relievers including Joel Pineiro, Javier Lopez, J.C. Romero and Brendan Donnelly. Only Romero escaped without giving up multiple runs during his outing. Chipper (pronounced Chippah in Massachusetts-speak) Jones, Matt Diaz and Kelly Johnson had home runs for the visitors.

I can only think of one Red Sox defeat I have ever witnessed in person that approaches this one. I remember seeing a Patriots Day game against the Brewers back in high school where the Sox lost 12-0. I also remember sitting through that game until the bitter end, as I did on Saturday.

Not that the evening was a total loss. Along with my work-provided ticket came dinner and a guest speaker at the Players Club at Fenway Park. The guest speaker was none other than former Red Sox backup catcher and color analyst Bob Montgomery. Monty, for those of you who may not remember, spent about a decade with the Sox, mostly as Carlton Fisk's backup. He then moved onto the broadcast booth and was the Red Sox color analyst on the free TV games before virtually all the games moved over to NESN. Monty now does color for some Pawsox games on Cox Cable in Rhode Island.

Monty was quite a genial host. I went up before the dinner to say hello and we chatted for a few minutes. After we ate, he spoke for a bit and did a Q&A. I asked two questions, and he remembered my name from our earlier conversation.

The questions, in case you were wondering, were: "Who was your favorite pitcher to catch? (Luis Tiant)" and "Why do you think Jim Rice isn't in the Hall of Fame? (Monty felt that if Rice had hit 18 more homers to get to 400 he would have been enshrined many years ago; he's hopeful that Rice will get in next year.)"

I also got Monty's trivia question right: who was the first MLB player to make $1 million per year. The people in the room who know me were not the least bit surprised I knew the answer, which is below so you can think about it for a while.

Dinner was pretty good: Fenway Franks, pulled pork, chicken, a variety of salads and cookies and brownies for dessert. There was also free beer, although the only choices were Bud and Bud Light. I'm not complaining for free, however. I was sitting with some co-workers and we were joking that we had probably eaten about $80 worth of food each at ballpark prices.

On the way out we were each given baseballs autographed by Monty. The woman who was running the dinner asked me how many kids I had, so I walked out with three autographed balls. The kids were pretty happy to get gifts, even though they have no idea who Bob Montgomery is.

So, even though the game itself was a bust, it was a fun evening. We were under the roof in right field so we avoided the intermittent rain that fell throughout the game. It's always fun to be in Fenway and people-watch. After the ballpark cleared out late in the game I even spotted my friends Deb and Paul sitting about 6 rows in front of me and was able to say hi to them. I was able to get on the T pretty quickly, since roughly 3/4 of the crowd had cleared out by the end of the game.

Fortunately, the Sox recovered to win yesterday behind another rookie starter, Kason Gabbard to take the series from the Braves. Tonight it's down to the Bronx for a series with the Yanks. It seems to have much less urgency than usual with New York 10.5 games behind the Sox, but it's a good opportunity to bury them even further if the Sox can take 2 out of 3. Anyone willing to bet on Joe Torre's job security if the Red Sox can manage to sweep?

Trivia answer: Nolan Ryan

Saturday, May 19, 2007

I'm leaving in about 45 minutes to head to Fenway for the nightcap in today's doubleheader. The Sox are currently ahead of the Braves 13-3 in the first game on the strength of five RBI (including a grand slam) from Mike Lowell and homers by Youk, Lugo and Wily Mo. Dice-K has gone 8 innings and given up three runs.

I kind of wish that the Sox had saved a few of those runs for tonight. Devern Hansack, just up from Pawtucket to fill in for Josh Beckett, will be facing John Smoltz tonight, so I'm not feeling great about our chances. Although, given how the Sox have been playing lately you can't count them out of any game.

I'll let you know about my night tomorrow!

Friday, May 18, 2007

Eric Hinske has good reason to smile after his performance last night against the Tigers. He not only hit a 2 run homer to provide the margin of victory in the nightcap of the Sox doubleheader sweep yesterday, but he made a diving, face-smashing-in-the-dirt catch in right field last night that is one of the best catches we'll see all year.

I was supposed to be at Fenway tonight watching the Sox first interleague contest against the Braves, but it's been raining all day and night here and the game was postponed to 7:30 tomorrow. It's supposed to clear up later in the day, so we'll see if they get the first game in at 1:00. I got the ticket through work and it includes dinner and a appearance by a surprise guest. It sounds like it should be fun if it ever stops raining.

The upside to the bad weather is that I watched the Mets beat the Yankees tonight 3-2. The Yanks are now 10 games behind the Sox. I know it's still only May, but that's a lot of ground for them to make up.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Finally, here is the rest of the Cooperstown report, as I watch game two of the Sox-Tigers twi-night doubleheader.

After we left the World Series room, we walked through the Education Gallery and made our way downstairs to the Hall of Fame Gallery after a brief stop in the Art of Baseball room. (Check out the great painting of Willie Mays.)

The Hall of Fame Gallery, where all the plaques are kept, is almost a church-like atmosphere. People speak in hushed voices as they look for their favorite Hall of Famers. We checked out Yaz, Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams and Jackie Robinson, among others. J. took this picture of the "First Five", the initial class of Hall of Famers inducted back in 1939 - Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Christy Matthewson, Walter Johnson and Honus Wagner).

Our next to last stop in the building was the Library area, where they have exhibits for writers and broadcasters, baseball movies and the bookstore. We had completed the Discovery Tour quiz, so J. got his pack of baseball cards.

Our last stop was the gift shop (of course) where we picked up a few souvenirs. By this time it was almost 1:00 (we had spent nearly 4 hours in the Hall), so it was time for lunch.

Every time I have been to Cooperstown, since my first visit with my family as a teenager, I have eaten at the Short Stop Restaurant. It's a nice little diner that serves standard diner fare. It's plastered in baseball memorabilia, of course, including some autographed stuff from some Hall of Famers that have eaten there. I even brushed my teeth there one morning when, in my younger days, I stopped in Cooperstown without a hotel reservation and ended up spending the night in my car in the Doubleday Field parking lot. Hey, I was younger and stupider in those days!

The Short Stop lived up to it's reputation. J. wolfed down a burger and I had my favorite, the club sandwich.

We then wandered around the village for a bit. Our first stop was Doubleday Field. It was a beautiful early Spring day, so we watched a couple of innings of a high school baseball game being played there. It really seemed to complete the experience, spending the morning looking at the history of the game and seeing an actual game in the afternoon. Next we stopped at the Doubleday Batting Cage, where J. took a few cuts and we discovered that he could throw 42 MPH at the radar gun (I'm sure it would have been a little faster if he had been able to warm up).

We headed back to the Hall of Fame (stopping in pretty much every souvenir store along the way) and checked out the sculptures in Cooper Park. There are sculptures of Johnny Podres pitching to Roy Campanella in the 1955 World Series, one of a player from the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, and one of Satchel Paige, pictured above.

We spent a bit more time investigating Main St., had some ice cream, and decided to head for home. The ride home was thoroughly uneventful, with just a stop at a Subway to grab some dinner. We got home just before 9. It was an outstanding trip, and J. is a great traveling companion.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

One of my favorite blogs is a comics site called Chris's Invincible Super-Blog. Chris works in a comic book shop and writes funny stuff about comics. In a recent entry, he posted what may be the funniest comic book panel I have ever seen.

To explain this briefly: Superman and Batman have traveled back in time to 1775 New England and are trying to explain their costumes. Superman comes up with the lamest excuse ever, proving why the Man of Steel avoids lying.

To get a summary of the entire story, click here.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Daisuke Matsuzaka pitched a complete game for the Sox tonight, defeating the Tigers 7-1. He really pitched a gem, defeating the defending AL chaps at Fenway in a game that was closer than it appeared from the score. The Sox scored 4 runs in the 8th, highlighted by a Julio Lugo 3-run triple.

This is kind of interesting - Dice-K's complete game today was the Red Sox first of the season in their 37th game. During the game, Jerry Remy mentioned that the 1978 Red Sox had 57 complete games, including 16 by Dennis Eckersley! Even Remy was surprised that they had pitched that many. It's an amazing change in how the game is played now as compared to how it was played 30 years ago.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

A few random thoughts (that is what's in the title of this blog, right?):

- It must be great to be Steve Jobs. How else could you get away with saying this at yesterday's Apple shareholder meeting when asked about the difficulties in expanding the company's engineering talent pool:

“I wish developing great products was as easy as writing a check,” Jobs said. “If so, then Microsoft would have great products.”

- Speaking of Apple, one of the Mac rumor sites posted a poorly sourced story about a forthcoming 6th generation iPod that would use the touch screen interface of the iPhone: essentially an iPhone without the phone capabilities. Shares of Apple stock shot up 3% on the rumor. Apple declined to comment on upcoming product releases (as they always do), but said they didn't have anything planned in the next few days.

That said, if Apple did come out with such a product, I would be running straight to my local Apple Store to buy one.

- The Milwaukee Brewers are my National League team for this year. The Brewers have built an exciting team for the first time in about two decades. They have very good pitching, led by Olympic Hero Ben Sheets, World Series Hero Jeff Suppan, Chris Capuano and Francisco Cordero. Their dynamic offense is powered by guys like Bill Hall, Rickie Weeks, Prince Fielder (who looks just like his dad, and his homers travel just as far) and JJ Hardy. If you haven't heard a lot about these guys, you will. They could be this year's Tigers.

- Can we really be 7.5 games up on the Yankees on May 12 (going into the Yankee's late game in Seattle tonight)? And why does the year "1978" go off in my head every time I start to get overconfident?


Thursday, May 10, 2007


The Red Sox just completed a dismantling of the Blue Jays, winning 8-0 to sweep in Toronto. The Sox outscored the Jays 26-5 and got very well pitched games from Beckett, Dice-K and Wake. Wake has been amazing with 14 shutout innings on the trip and his ERA is down to 1.79.

The team is now 23-10 and 7 games ahead of the Yankees, who got crushed by the Rangers 14-2 today.

I don't want to count my chickens before they're hatched, but the only thing that can stop this team is injuries. If they stay healthy, it's going to be tough for anyone else in the AL East to catch them.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Here is just how mind-boggling Roger Clemens salary with the Yankees is:

If Clemens was pitching for a full season, it would cost the Yankees $39.2 million to have him on their team. That's the $28 million salary plus an additional $11.2 million for the 40% luxury tax. That amount is higher than the total payrolls for four teams (Pirates, Nationals, Marlins and Devil Rays).

In another Clemens related note,'s Eric Wilbur suggested that since it is obvious that Roger has no allegiance to the Red Sox, it's time to take his #21 out of mothballs. No one has worn his number since he left the team in 1996. Wilbur's suggestion is to award the number to John Lester when he comes back. I can't think of a more fitting guy to wear it. If you agree, write to the Red Sox here. I just did.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

So, Roger Clemens is a Yankee again, and all it took was $28 million of George Steinbrenner's dollars to do it (prorated for the portion of the season he actually plays, of course).

Earning 10 out of 10 for style points, Roger announced his return to the Yankee Stadium crowd during the 7th inning stretch, speaking from the owners box.

I'll admit to being a bit surprised. I really thought that Roger would be unable to resist the temptation of playing with his son (a minor leaguer in the Astros system) and the comfort of staying at home and sign with Houston, if he played at all. However, with the Astros playing poorly, it seems he wanted a better chance to win another championship.

Of course, if he wanted the best chance at another ring he would have come to Boston. The Red Sox have a better starting rotation, even without Clemens, and it will only get better when Jon Lester returns fully healthy. The bullpen is much better than the Yankees as well, as Okajima has been a revelation and Tavarez's return to the bullpen will only improve things there. Of course, the Sox offense can't match the Yankees, but pitching wins in October.

And, while Roger is still a good pitcher, he may not be at the level he has been in the past. He averaged less than six innings per start last season, and that won't help the already overtaxed Yankee bullpen. And he'll be pitching in the AL East, a much tougher division than the NL Central. He's also not going to have the luxury of facing the pitcher in the American League.

Does this make the Yankees better? Of course it does. You don't add a legend like Roger Clemens without improving your team. It hardly guarantees the division for the Yankees, though.

I can't wait to see what Fenway Park is like when Roger makes his first start.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

I know I promised the rest of the Cooperstown report, but the last couple of evenings have been busy. I'll get to the rest of the report in the next couple of days, but here are a few items off the top of my head...

- I went to see Spider-Man 3 at the Jordan's Furniture IMAX theater with some friends last night. It was certainly entertaining enough, with great special effects fight sequences, some fun character stuff and a few inside jokes for geeks like me (like the Sandman favoring green striped sweaters). It didn't live up to the last two movies in the series, however. It seemed like they put a bunch of script ideas in a blender, mixed it all up and spit out a movie. Maybe there were some deleted scenes that would make the whole thing hang together a little better - we'll see when the DVD comes out.

Not that I'm saying Spider-Man 3 is a bad movie. It's a lot of fund and I recommend seeing if if you like big Hollywood popcorn pictures. If you are expecting it to live up to the standards of the first two Spider-Man films, you'll probably be disappointed.

- While I was at the movies last night, Tim Wakefield took matters into his own hands, making his lack of run support irrelevant. He pitched an outstanding game, limiting the Twins to no runs over 7 innings. The Sox got him just enough, scoring two runs (including a solo homer by Papi) and the bullpen made the runs hold up.

Can you think of a more universally respected Red Sox player in recent memory than Tim Wakefield? He does whatever is asked of him; starts, relieves, closes. He does tremendous charity work, particularly with the Franciscan Hospital for Children and has been nominated for the Roberto Clemente Award numerous times. Wake will never make the Hall of Fame, but he has been a great credit to the Red Sox for over a decade.

- It was a nice day today, and we had no plans or activities (unusual for a weekend day), so we headed up to Canobie Lake Park on the spur of the moment. Canobie Lake is an amusement park in Salem, NH. It's a classic park, built at the end of a trolley line back in 1902 to increase business on the trolley on the weekends. The park has survived the century, at a time when many similar amusement parks have gone out of business.

Canobie is a very nice place, spotlessly clean and well maintained. While you won't find any Six Flags style super thrill rides, there is a classic wooden roller coaster, a loop-the-loop coaster and a bunch of other fun rides. We picked a great day to go. Despite the nice weather, the real season for the park hasn't started yet so the kids were pretty much able to ride anything they wanted with few lines to stand in. It was a fun family day.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

J. and I took off a couple of weeks ago for a trip to Cooperstown and the Baseball Hall of Fame. We left around 3:30 after R. and I had spent the afternoon together, eating lunch at D'Angelo's, searching for Webkinz and going off to a local playground. R. is quite a nice dining companion and makes better conversation than a lot of adults I know.

With my new TomTom One GPS to guide us, we headed west on the Mass Pike. Our first stop was Great Barrington, MA. We had two pieces of business there; dinner and tracking down a case of Pop Soda.

Pop Soda is a Vermont-based microbrewed soda A. and I fell in love with when we were there last summer. We ordered a case directly from the company, but given that the shipping cost roughly as much as the soda, we were looking for a more economical alternative. After some searching and emails, A. determined that Guido's in Great Barrington carried the soda.

We pulled into Guido's parking lot and tracked down the Pop Soda. Unfortunately, all they had was four packs of the mint lime flavor we were looking for, so we asked one of the staff there if they had a case. A few minutes later we had our soda (along with an extra four-pack for J. and I to drink on the ride).

Our next stop was dinner at the Barrington Brewery. This was a brewpub recommended to me by my friend Chip as fun for both kids and dads, so it sounded like our kind of place. Dinner was fairly simple, but very good. J. had a burger and fries and he chowed down the whole burger, which was a good sign. I had a turkey Rubin sandwich that was quite good, along with a very smooth brown ale. If I didn't have a long drive in front of me, I could have happily drank another.

Leaving the Berkshires behind, we continued on our way to the Cooperstown Holiday Inn, located about four miles from the Hall. It's a nice, clean place; nothing special but nice enough for our purposes. They did have a pool, which was nice, so we took a quick dip before returning to our room to watch the Sox come from behind win over the Yankees, followed by an episode of Pokeman on the Cartoon Network.

We got up early the next morning and headed to the Hall of Fame. The renovation that was underway the last time I went has been completed. The place looks great. We parked in the Doubleday Field parking lot and walked over to the Hall. We picked up the Discovery Tour quiz for J. This is kind of a scavenger hunt in the Hall; you have to answer questions based on the exhibits. If you fill in the entire quiz, you get a pack of Hall of Fame baseball cards at the end of the tour.

Our first stop was the Grandstand Theater, where they have a great multi-media show about the history of the game and the current day. A HOF staff member even comes in at the end of the show and leads the crowd in Take me out to the Ballgame. We then made our way through the history of the game timeline, stopping off in the Babe Ruth room and the Negro Leagues exhibit. J. has been very interested in Jackie Robinson, so we spent a fair bit of time checking out the Negro Leagues section. One thing that made for an interesting discussion was some hate letters received by Robinson and by Hank Aaron during his home run chase that were displayed in the exhibit.

See the ticket stub in that picture? That was to Yaz's last game. I was at that game!

We moved on to the Today's Game exhibit, where they have artifacts from current players and some very cool video highlights. After that it was up to the third floor and the Sacred Grounds room. This is the ballparks exhibit, my favorite part of the Hall, other than the actual HOF Gallery. Lots of cool stuff to see about ballparks, old and new, from the cornerstone of Ebbets Field to some seats from Veterans Stadium. The records room has listings of Gold Glove winners, MVPs, Cy Young award winners and other awards. They also have displays of various records and all-time leaders in various categories. Our favorite was the "Ichi-Meter", which was posted by a fan at Safeco Field when Ichiro was chasing George Sisler's all-time hits record.

The next stop was the World Series room, where we checked out artifacts from the Cardinal's win last year and other historical items. There were several items from the Sox 2004 win including the bloody sock.

If that's not dried blood, I don't know what is. Check it out, Gary Thorne.

To be continued...

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