Thursday, January 31, 2008

The whole city is awash in Patriot Mania (with good reason), but I just watched the Celtics play an outstanding game. They just beat one of the better teams in the West, the Dallas Mavericks, 96-90. Making the win even better is the fact that they did it without Kevin Garnett, who sat out the game with an abdominal strain.

The thing that I'm enjoying about the Celtics is that they are really starting to gel as a team. When a guy like KG or Ray Allen is out, it seems like some of the other players like Kendrick Perkins or Tony Allen or Leon Powe steps up. And Paul Pierce seems to be thriving in this situation. He doesn't have to the The Man every night, and I think winning agrees with him big time.

I'm hoping for a parade on Tuesday. Dare I hope for another one in June? For the first time in about 15 years, I think there's a realistic chance.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

One of the newest podcasts I have added to my playlist is Baseball Prospectus Radio. Lots of good baseball talk to be had there. Today I listened to a really fun interview with Sox farmhands Jed Lowrie and Justin Masterson. The conversation took place before the Santana trade, so they discuss what it's like to be mentioned in trade rumors and a bunch of other topics. The fun part is, instead of someone from BP interviewing them, they interview each other. Good stuff.

You can find the mp3 file here, or go to your iTunes or your favorite podcast collector to subscribe.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

So the Mets win the Johan Santana sweepstakes.

The Twins took four prospects from New York, outfielder Carlos Gomez and pitchers Philip Humber, Kevin Mulvey and Deolis Guerra. It seems like a pretty reasonable deal for the Mets. You have to think that after their epic collapse in September, blowing a 7 game lead with 17 to play and with a new ballpark opening in 2009, Omar Minaya and the Mets were much more desperate to do something than the Sox or Yankees. Now the Mets just need to come up with the $100 million+ they'll need to sign Santana.

From a Red Sox perspective, this isn't a bad outcome. Santana is not with the Yankees and is out of the league. The Sox get to keep their prospects and still have a very good starting rotation next season.

Monday, January 28, 2008

- Interesting interview in the Globe this weekend with Trot Nixon. Trot says he is learning to play first base to enhance his marketability in the free agent market. He also says that he had back surgery and is feeling much better than he did last season. The Sox are looking for a lefthanded hitting first baseman/outfielder who can spell Youk so he doesn't get as worn down in the second half of the season. Could the original Dirt Dog return to Boston? I'd love to see him back, although I'm not sure he has much left. Might be worth a Spring Training invite, if nothing else.

- We took a little trip down to Rhode Island to check out the Roger Williams Botannical Garden R. is doing a school project on carnivorous plants (Venus Fly Traps and the like) and the New England Carnivorous Plant Society (I had no idea there was such a thing) maintains an exhibit there. We got some great pictures, but the garden itself is very nice. It's in a big greenhouse and we ended up spending an hour looking around at the plants. It was really enjoyable being surrounded by green growing things on a cold winter day.

- Here's a funny story. My cousin and his son are Giants fans (they live in New York, so it's OK.) Early in the season, when the Giants were 0-2, my cousin's son asked him if he would take him to to Super Bowl if the Giants made it. My cousin, figuring it would never happen, said he would.

So, they are headed to Arizona. A shame they are going all that way to see their team lose.

- For all the talk of NFL parity, nearly half of the teams haven't won Super Bowls. Out of the 41 games before this weekend the winners have been:

Cowboys, Steelers, 49ers (5 each)
Patriots, Packers, Redskins, Raiders (3 each)
Colts, Broncos, Giants, Dolphins (2 each)
Jets, Chiefs, Buccaneers, Ravens, Rams, Bears (1 each)

So, 15 out of 32 teams have never won the big game.

In contrast, over the same number of World Series, 19 teams have won:

Yankees (6)
A's (4)
Orioles, Cardinals, Reds (3 each)
Tigers, Mets, Pirates, Dodgers, Twins, Blue Jays Marlins, Red Sox (2 each)
Phillies, Royals, Braves, Diamondbacks, Angels, White Sox (1 each)

Only 11 teams haven't won the World Series over the past 42 years. And one of those is the Cubs.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A couple of thoughts:

- I haven't been doing much baseball blogging lately, but there hasn't been a lot going on other than steroid talk and I'm pretty tired of that. Probably the biggest trade that has happened lately is the third baseman swap between the Blue Jays and Cardinals. Both teams got rid of some excess baggage. The Cards Scott Rolen and manager Tony LaRussa didn't get along at all, so it's probably for the best that he's gone. Toronto's Troy Glaus is an accused steroid user. As players they're something of a wash. Rolen is a great defensive third baseman, while Glaus is a better hitter. I don't think the trade does a lot for either team.

- I find the two week wait between the conference championships and the Super Bowl too long. The incessant discussion of every aspect of the game and the players is just too much for me. The media has been hysterical the last couple of days because Tom Brady was sighted wearing a walking cast as he went to his supermodel girlfriend's house in New York. Turns out it was only a slight ankle sprain, but it still made the back page of the Post. With a New York team involved and the unbeaten Patriots, the media frenzy is going to be almost unbearable for the next week-and-a-half.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

More fun on the commuter rail today...

I got to Framingham station to catch the 6:44 AM inbound express. The LED message boards read something to the effect of "All inbound service to Boston delayed due to mechanical breakdown. Please wait for more information."

I knew I had a very busy day ahead of me and I really couldn't afford a long delay getting into work. So I walked back to the car and drove into town.

Later in the day I talked to a co-worker who takes the same train. I asked her how late it was and she told me that it was only about five minutes late! So I spent money on gas, tolls and parking because the MBTA/MBCR felt the need to inform me about a five minute delay, but not give any specifics.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The New England Patriots are truly going where no football team has gone before.

18-0. Even the undefeated '72 Dolphins never made it to 18-0. They only had 17 games to play (including a 14 game regular season). The Pats got their 18th win of the season with a 21-12 win over the San Diego Chargers today. It was a bit of an ugly win, but New England got it done and is going to the Super Bowl. Tom Brady actually looked human today, throwing three interceptions. The defense (holding the Chargers to just four field goals) and the running backs (Laurence Maroney and Kevin Faulk were both brilliant, especially in the second half) really won the game for the Pats.

We just found out the identity of the Patriots opponent. After Giants kicker Lawrence Tynes missed a field goal with regulation time running out, the Packers won the toss, getting the ball first in overtime. The legendary Brett Favre tossed an interception and gave Tynes another chance. The kicker hit a 47-yarder to send the Giants to Arizona. It should be a bit warmer there than tonight's weather at Lambeau Field (-4 degrees).

The Giants were victim #16 down at the Meadowlands a few weeks back. We'll see if the Pats can beat them again to complete the perfect season.

Friday, January 18, 2008

I had kind of a strange experience tonight.

I had intended to go to the Arisia science fiction convention being held at the Hyatt Cambridge tonight. A group of old friends from my days with the Boston Star Trek Association was running a party at the con tonight and I was looking forward to catching up with some folks.

I get to the hotel and there's a sign in front of the garage saying "Garage Full. Overnight Guests Only". I drove around a bit looking for a space but couldn't find anything. So I went home.

That's not the strange part. Pre-kids, I was very active in the science fiction convention scene, Star Trek conventions in particular. I went to several cons a year and knew tons of people. I even wrote a booklet called "How to Survive a Star Trek Convention". Going to conventions was a big part of my life for the better part of 15 years.

As I was driving past the hotel, I could see into the lobby. I saw a line of people, some in costumes, waiting for something, probably to register for the convention. I looked at them and the whole scene seemed like I was driving through a neighborhood I lived in a long time ago. It was very recognizable, but it wasn't home any more.

That part of my life has been pretty much over for quite a while, but the whole thing really struck me tonight.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The first image of the Enterprise from the new Star Trek movie is making the rounds on the Internet (referred to me by The Hey). I'm actually looking forward to the movie's premiere on Christmas Day. I think J.J. Abrams has a good chance of getting Star Trek out of the formulaic rut it fell into for much of the runs of Voyager and Enterprise.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Snow day today. We got around 8-10 inches of the wet , heavy stuff today. All the news stations were promising that the weather would be worst during the morning commute. Since the Framingham line's on-time performance is iffy even in perfect conditions I drove to my office Sunday morning to grab my laptop and planned to work at home.

You know what? I'm astonishingly productive when people aren't walking into my office, I'm not rushing out to meetings and the phone isn't ringing. The kids were really good about not pestering me and I got a lot done. I may have to work from home again sometime.

Saturday, January 12, 2008


The Pats beat the Jaguars 31-20 to advance to the AFC Championship game once again. It was an exciting game, as Jacksonville became the latest victim on the march to an undefeated season. The defense had some issues, especially in the first half, but Rodney Harrison came up with the big pick late in the 4th quarter to seal the victory.

And Brady was 26 of 28 with three touchdowns. He broke Phil Sims record for highest completion percentage in a playoff game. Is it possible for him to get any better?

We wait until tomorrow to see whether the Pats play Indianapolis or San Diego at Gillette next weekend.

I know, there's been a serious lack of blogging this week. The second week of January is probably my busiest work week of the year, so there were plenty of late nights and I spent about six hours in the office today. The worst should be over, though, and work will still be busy but closer to normal.

A few thoughts:

- I'm warming up for the Pats-Jaguars matchup tonight with the Green Bay-Seattle game. It was quite a game on the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field (don't you hear the NFL Films guy's voice in your head when you read that?) Seattle jumped out to a quick 14-0 lead in the first quarter. This appeared to only piss off Brett Favre and the Packers, as the just walked off the snowy turf with a 42-20 win.

- I never got around to a Florida trip report, so I'll sum it up quickly. We had a great time with the family. J. and R. get along so well with their cousins. It's really too bad that we live so far apart and they can't see each other more often. My parents watched all four kids while A. and I and by brother and sister-in-law went to a very nice Italian restaurant in Winter Park for dinner one night. As far as we could figure, it was the first time the four of us went out to dinner with no kids since J. came home nearly 10 years ago.

- We also had an amazing day at Epcot. We were there from the rope drop at 8 AM until Illuminations was over at 9:45. Getting there at opening meant that we got to ride the big headliners (Test Track, Mission: Space and Soarin') first thing in the morning before the crowds got heavy, so we never waited in a line over 30 minutes.

- We got to see the new improvements to both the inside and outside of one of my favorite Disney rides, Spaceship Earth. The hideous Mickey hand that was erected for the Y2K celebration was finally removed and the geodesic sphere looked great in all it's solitary glory. The appointment of Pixar's John Lasseter as head of Disney Imagineering is already paying dividends. On the inside, the ride has been refurbished with revised audio-animatronics and a new Judi Dench narration. It keeps the spirit of the old ride but with some nice upgrades. The biggest change is at the end of the ride. On the way down from the top of the sphere your "time machine" turns backwards as always, but now an interactive game pops up on a touch screen in the vehicle. You answer a few questions and then the screen shows you a cartoon on what your life might be like in the future based on your answers. We know there are multiple scenarios, since A. and R. had different questions in their car than J. and I had. All in all, it was very cool.

- The Sox re-signed Doug Mirabelli to a $550,000 one-year contract. He took a cut from $750K last year (although he has a chance to make $1 million with incentives). I think Mirabelli has pretty much figured out that his only baseball career option is to continue on as Tim Wakefield's personal caddy. He really can't hit any more; his OPS has declined from a respectable .893 in 2004 to .721, .595 and ..638 the last three years. Wake is comfortable with him behind the dish, though, and I guess Theo figures it's worth putting up with his bat to keep Wake happy.

OK, time to see if the Pats can go to 17-0. My prediction: 38- 24 Pats.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

As the eminent philosopher Maxwell Smart used to say, "Missed it by that much."

Former Red Sox outfielder and current NESN fashion plate Jim Rice missed election to the Baseball Hall of Fame by a mere 14 votes. He got over 72% of the required 75% of the votes required for induction. Reliever Goose Gossage did get in, the only player elected by the baseball writers.

I'm pretty disappointed by this. Rice was the Sox greatest hitter during my youth. Although Yaz was my favorite player, Rice was amazing to watch. I have been seeing him all the way back to his days with the Pawsox. In fact, one of my first vivid memories of seeing a baseball game was watching Rice hit a home run at McCoy Stadium in 1974.

The good news is that every player who has gotten more than 70% of the vote has eventually made it into the Hall of Fame. Rice has his last year of eligibility in 2009. Hopefully he will get in.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Now this will be exciting.

Roger Clemens has been asked to testify before the US Congress. Andy Pettitte will be there, too, along with the former trainer who accused them both of using performance enhancing drugs, Brian McNamee. Former Mets trainer Kirk Radomski and Chuck Knoblach will also testifying.

There has already been a lot of buzz about Roger's appearance on 60 Minutes with Mike Wallace on Sunday night. Well, nothing happens if Roger lies to Mike Wallace. He can go to jail if he lies to Congress.

The whole thing is going to be a circus, of course. Does Roger do a McGwire and say nothing? Does he wag his finger like Rafael Palmiero? Does he pretend not to speak English, like Sammy Sosa?

Regardless, this is going to be must-see TV. What Roger says, and doesn't say, is going to be dissected and analyzed, ad infinitum. With the writers strike, the Clemens testimony is going to be the best drama on television.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Here's a pet peeve of mine. I take the Worcester/Framingham line of the MBTA commuter rail to work. The rush hour trains, particularly the express trains that don't stop between Back Bay and West Natick, are often very crowded.

The thing that annoys me is when someone sits in the outside seat of a 2 or 3 seat bench, with the obvious intent of getting a seat all to themselves on a crowded train. Many people, for whatever reason, won't ask the person to share the seat. If the train is crowded, I'll make it a point to sit in that seat.

I did this with a guy this morning on the extremely crowded early express train. He didn't look happy at all that he had to give up his private seat.

That's my story. Cap'n Ho: crusader for justice in commuter rail seating!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy 2008! I hope you all had a happy and safe New Year's celebration. We had a quiet evening at home after going out for Chinese food. We rented Evan Almighty on pay-per-view and then watched the ball drop at midnight.

Before we get into 2008, let's go back and finish the review of the last six months of 2007.

July: July was a fun month, with a couple of visits to the Pawsox, 4th of July fireworks with the Worcester Tornadoes (we'll be doing that again this season) and a weekend trip to Narragansett to go to the beach. The month ended with two big trades: the Red Sox acquired Eric Gagne to shore up the bullpen and the Celtics got Kevin Garnett. Which one of those do you think worked out better?

August: The month was highlighted by our trip to Pennsylvania. J. and I also caught a game of the Vintage Base Ball World Series and Clay Buchholz's first major league start against the Angels. The whole family took in the Futures at Fenway minor league doubleheader, featuring the Portland Sea Dogs and Lowell Spinners.

Oh, and Barry Bonds broke some record. Did anyone outside of the Bay Area really care?

September: More traveling this month, as we went to Florida to surprise my Mom for her birthday and A. and I had a romantic weekend at a B&B in Newport, RI. Clay Buchholz pitched a no-hitter in his second big league start. I also sat on a train for 2 hours and 40 minutes to get home one night, as the cops chased some carjackers around the Brighton rail yards.

October: October was consumed, of course, with the Red Sox World Series run. From Manny's walkoff homer against the Angels, the remarkable comeback against Cleveland, the sweep of the Rockies and the Rolling Rally, it was quite a month.

November: The baseball season was over, but the outstanding play of the Celtics and Patriots filled the void. We went to Old Sturbridge Village for a day trip, which was a lot of fun.

December: The first part of the month was dominated by news of a possible deal with the Twins for Johan Santana, something which could still happen. The Mitchell Report came out, naming a number of stars as using performance enhancing drugs. Several players have corroborated Mitchell's findings, while others, most notably Roger Clemens, have denied the reports. Roger will be on 60 Minutes next week, which should prove very interesting. The month ended with our annual holiday trip to Florida, which I'll report on in detail next week.

That's it for 2007! I hope 2008 is just as good.

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