Saturday, July 31, 2010

Games 103 and 104: On White Flags, and Grand Slams, and the 2000th Post, and The End Of Something

In Boston last night, the Red Sox fell behind 6-1, Jon Lester getting roughed up for a pair of homers from new Tiger Jhonny Peralta before storming back, David Ortiz hitting a grand slam that brought Boston up to, but not even with, the Tigers, losing 6-5.

Today, Boston fell behind again, trailing 4-2 in the 9th, Dice K giving up 10 hits and walks over 6 innings. However, this time Ortiz' hit was the winner, a 3 run double giving Boston a 5-4 win.

Off the field, the trading deadline was today, Boston dealing a pair of lower level prospects for throwing impaired catcher and former prospect Jerrod Saltalamacchia, and also sending Ramon Ramirez out of town for a prospect. Boston GM Theo Epstein, delusional as always, still claims the Red Sox are going to be competitive this year. Yeah. The Yankees get Austin Kearns, Lance Berkman, and Kerry Wood, and we get a rusty batting cage? Yeah, we're competitive.


ESPN's Bill Simmons has a pretty good column up about the 2010 Red Sox, and, towards the end, Simmons takes on one of the big problems with baseball at present, the times of the games.

"What a nightmare. I'm the same guy who once created the 150-Minute Rule for all movies, sporting events, concerts, even sex -- if you edge past 150 minutes for anything, you better have a really good reason. The 2010 Boston Red Sox have played one game in four months that ended in less than 150 minutes. 

I'll write that again: The 2010 Boston Red Sox have played one game in four months that ended in less than 150 minutes.
Nearly 60 percent of the Red Sox's games have dragged past three hours. Twenty-four of their games have gone 3:30 or longer (nearly 25 percent). And no, it's not just them: Fifty-eight percent of 2010 Yankees games have extended past three hours. When these two meandering monoliths collide, look out: This year's snoozefests clocked in at 3:46, 3:48, 3:21, 3:01, 3:56, 3:05, 3:47 and 4:09 (a nine-inning game!). Are those baseball games or Boston Marathon times?"

Bill James wrote about the same problem in the Historical Baseball Abstract, years ago, noting that other sports change their rules all the time, in order to force players and teams to quit messing around and just play the game. There are probably a dozen changes baseball could make tomorrow-limit throws to first, no warmups on the mound, pitch clocks and batter clocks- that would take 30 minutes off the game times immediately.

I love baseball-always have. If you can't keep the attention of a fan like me, your sport is doomed.


This is my 2000th post in this space. Nearly 5 of them have been interesting, useful, or in some way helpful to anyone anywhere. In October, it will be 7 years.

In our culture, we love big, fat numbers like that. 2000.

I don't think anyone but me has been here from the very beginning, way back in 2003. Remember that? It was all so simple then. It wasn't, really, but that's what people say. I've talked a lot about politics, and sports, and most of it has just been talking to myself. I don't think it's been much more than a year or two that I've had more than even a couple of readers.

I see what other people do with this form (like her ), and I just want to cry with how worthless and stupid my efforts here seem. There's no art here, just chatter.

But if you're here, I thank you, and hopefully we can make each other a little less crazy.

I'm going to end the 2000th post with some words from one of my idols, the late Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

"Anyway-because we are readers, we don't have to wait for some communications executive to decide what we should think about next-and how we should think about it. We can fill our heads with anything from aardvarks to zucchinis-at any time of night or day.

Even more magically, perhaps, we readers can communicate with each other across space and time so cheaply. Ink and paper are as cheap as sand or water, almost. No board of directors has to convene in order to decide whether we can afford to write down this or that. "

Friday, July 30, 2010

He Knows It All...As Long As It's 55 Words Or Less: "Message In A Bottle"

G Man's Friday Flash 55 happens, you guessed it, on Fridays. Write a Story, in 55 Words Or Less.

This week's entry is called "Message In A Bottle".

A missive. A note. A letter.

A plea from the past, delivered in the present.

How to get her to listen?

To read? To understand?  

To accept what I have to say?

To see how very sorry I am?

Why should she?

Back then, I didn’t listen to her. 

Happy Post-Birthday Letdown, Michael Glen Schmidt!

This gentleman had a birthday this week, which I forgot to mention. Mike Schmidt (not the former third baseman) is a standup comic, writer, and compelling storyteller from Los Angeles who has a podcast called "The Forty Year Old Boy" that is a consistently interesting listen. Schmidt's podcast is brutally funny, sometimes profane, but always utterly interesting and compelling. So hats off to Mike (Schmidt) on his birthday, and many years of continuing audio adventures to come.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Oh, Sweet Janera, Filling In The Gaps In The Baseball Schedule...

Your friend and mine, Janera ,has a new little game to play on Fridays, questions based on rock lyrics. The debut version is Sting and The Police. And away we go...

1. DESERT ROSE: This desert flower, no sweet perfume ever tortured me more than this…
What is your favorite scent?

Marinara sauce being cooked.

2. EVERY BREATH YOU TAKE: Every move you make, every vow you break, every smile you fake, every claim you stake, I'll be watching you.
Ever stalked or researched an old flame?

Sadly, yes.

3. IF I EVER LOSE MY FAITH IN YOU: I never saw no miracle of science
that didn't go from a blessing to a curse…
What product did you buy that didn’t do what it claimed?

Recently, I've had good luck as far as that goes. 
4. IF YOU NEED SOMEBODY SET THEM FREE: If you need somebody, call my name.
If you want someone, you can do the same…
Do you have a nickname or have you been called something other than your given name?

In high school, I was known as "Spud", after the basketball player. (Anthony "Spud" Webb of the Atlanta Hawks and Sacramento Kings.) Currently, the only alternate name I have is probably Uncle Mike, a name I positively adore. 

5. WE WORK THE BLACK SEAM: One day in a nuclear age they may understand our rage. They build machines that they can't control and bury the waste in a great big hole…
What do you do that is considered “Green”?

Not enough. I reuse plastic bottles, but I am generally too lazy. 
6. MOON OVER BOURBON STREET: It was many years ago that I became what I am, I was trapped in this life like an innocent lamb…
What was the worst job you ever had?

Other than the present one? Probably packing bundles for a newspaper company. 
7. I BURN FOR YOU… In peace we sleep entwined and your love flows through me. Though an ocean soothes my head, I burn for you…
What is the worst thing about sleeping with someone else in a bed?

Snoring. We both do it, but if you're the awake one, it sucks. 
8. FORTRESS AROUND YOUR HEART: And if I built this fortress around your heart,Encircled you in trenches and barbed wire, then let me build a bridge, for I cannot fill the chasm…
What object or piece of furniture have you built?

Gosh. The last thing I built....does a puzzle count? 
9. ENGLISHMAN IN NEW YORK: I don't drink coffee I take tea my dear, I like my toast done on one side, and you can hear it in my accent when I talk, I'm an Englishman in New York…
Do you require special preparation for a food or drink in a restaurant?

No. I am too embarassed to ask anyone to make a fuss for me. 

10. FIELDS OF GOLD: I never made promises lightly, and there have been some that I've broken. But I swear in the days still left we'll walk in the fields of gold…
What was the last promise you made?

That I would come to bed soon. 
11. CONSIDER ME GONE: To search for perfection is all very well, but to look for Heaven is to live here in Hell. After today, consider me gone…
What was the worst way you ever broke up in a relationship?

I sent a woman a letter once. That was pretty low. 

12. THE RUSSIANS: How can I save my little boy from Oppenheimer's deadly toy, there is no monopoly in common sense on either side of the political fence…
What is your biggest fear or danger?

That my child will be unhappy. 

13. BRAND NEW DAY: How many lonely, sleepless nights, how many lies, how many fights, and why would you want to put yourself through all that again?
Do you prefer being married or single?

To quote the late Richard Jeni, food in marriage can't be that bad, because it can't possibly be as bad as the stuff single people eat. By far, being married is better. Life is too hard to face alone. 

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Extreme Cuteness Overload Alert!

And the baby's not bad looking, either.

Wyatt Christopher Couchoud, being held by my good lady wife.

Game 102: Alabama Getaway (In A Manner Of Speaking)

On Getaway Day, the final day of the West Coast Road Swing/Death March, Josh Beckett made his second strong start, allowing three runs over seven innings. His mates rose up just in time, Marco Polo's 8th inning grand slam putting the game away for Boston.

Boston is 58-44, 6 1/2 games out of first and 4 1/2 games out of the wild card. (Obviously, those numbers are due to go up or down, depending on New York and Tampa's results tonight.)

Game 101: It Turns Out You Can Go Home Again

John Lackey made a triumphant return to Anaheim, leading the way in a 4-2 win over the Angles. Farmer Jed Lowrie knocked a 2 run double to give Boston the lead they would never relinquish.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Wednesday Wickedness from Mick!

Janera is back at it with all her time traveling antics. This week's questions come from none other than the singer of the World's Greatest Rock and Roll Band, the ageless Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones.

1. “A good thing never ends.” Have you ever had a good thing in your life that never ended?

My marriage. So far. 

2. “I got nasty habits, I take tea at three.” Do you have a nasty habit?

None that I will admit in public. 

3. “I'd rather be dead than to be singing Satisfaction at 45.” He obviously changed his mind. What is something that you still do that you thought you'd outgrow?

Singing (and playing the radio) loudly in the car. 

4. “Lose your dreams and lose your mind.” Have you lost any of your dreams as time went by?

"As tears go by..." (See what she did there?) It is starting to look like I'm never going to pitch in the major leagues. 
5. “I haven't had time to return to the scene because I never left it.” As you've grown older, what ways are you still act and think the way you did as when you were younger?

It would be quicker to list the ways I haven't. I'm very childish. 
6. “Patriotism is something that fades when the war starts.” How do you react to this quote?

The man has a point. No plan survives contact with the enemy, and war brings out the worst in everyone-countries and people. It's easy to say we should go to war when it isn't one's self (or one's children) who will have to fight it. 
7. “The past is a great place and I don't want to erase it or regret it, but I don't want to be its prisoner either.” Is there a person in your life who still treats you as the same person to when your were younger? Do you like it?

I guess your Mom always does, right? I don't know. I kind of accept people how they are-I can't control how they are going to treat me, so I try to ignore it. 
8. “It's all right letting yourself go, as long as you pull yourself back.” Have you let yourself go in any aspect of your life?

Similar to the above-it would be easier to list the ways I haven't let myself go. 
9. “My mother has always been unhappy with what I do. She would rather I do something nicer, like being a brick layer.” How do you parents feel about what you do?

I think, like all parents, they wanted me to be happy. So, in that sense, they are disappointed. 
10. “Anarchy is the only slight glimmer of hope.” How would you categorize your political point of view?

Left of center. I have found myself drawn to what Dan Carlin calls "radical pragmatism"-government based on what works. 

100 Word Challenge: "Rocket Queen"

The 100 Word Challenge is hosted here , and this week's entry is centering on the word "minimum". Mine is called "Rocket Queen", and it goes a little something like this:

“All I ever wanted/ Was for you/ To know that I care...,” I yowled, trying to sound like Axl Rose, alone inside my car. I playacted -not just singing along with the radio, but pointing to nonexistent guitarists to play the solo. Still singing the same songs I did when I was 17-pathetic. I look like a nut- gesturing to people that aren’t there- but for a moment, I feel 17. Why do this? The tenuous hold I have on adulthood- the technical standard I meet that feels like it can be withdrawn at any time.

Game 100: Dan Haren, Dan Schmaren

The pesky Angles sent their new acquisition Dan Haren to the hill last night, but the Red Sox still pulled it out, 6-3. A Kevin Youkilis line drive off the forearm forced Haren out of the game in the fifth, but the Red Sox were clinging to a 2-1 lead in the 8th when David Ortiz hit his second homer of the game to push it to 4-1, and JD Drew countered a homer from old nemesis Hideki Matsui with a 2 run double in the 9th to seal it.

Boston is now 56-44, 8 full games out of first, and 5 out of the wild card.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Microfiction 140: Predecessor

Way down upon the stony river, we have another microfiction challenge, the Microfiction 140-140 characters or less, based on this picture. Mine is called "Predecessor".

“Where are babies, before conception?”
She wondered.
Do they wait-fliers in an airport?
She looked down at her belly.
She'll be here soon.  

Things Which What I Done

Work of mine own has been posted here, and here, and will be soon available here. The last site is NSFW, although my contribution can best be described as suggestive.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Game 99 Luftballons

This afternoon in Seattle, Dice K was Dice K (6 innings, 110 pitches, 5 walks), but managed to leave with a 2-1 lead. However, he was forced by league rules to leave this lead in the hands of his teammates, and the lead was surrendered by the Bard of Avon and the Okey Doke in what became a 4-2 defeat over a Seattle team we really should beat, depleted roster or no.

The West Coast March To Misery continues in Anaheim tomorrow with a set against Those Pesky Angles.

Funny Or Die's "MA Men" (NSFW)

A very funny, scandalously NSFW parody of the TV show Mad Men from

I say again, NSFW.

You have been warned.

Come Steal Away

Sunday also means Meme Time with the fine folks from Sunday Stealing and The Meme Of Many Odd Questions:

45. Favorite color?

Red, actually.

46. Have you ever slapped someone?

In the face? I don't think so. I'm not proud of it, but I whacked a bottom or two while parenting my son years ago. Given the chance to redo it, I wouldn't. It didn't do anything for the situation.

47. Is your hair curly?

When I let it grow, it gets a little wavy. I usually don't.

48. What was the last CD you bought?

Rock Sugar. If you don't know, you better ask somebody!

49. Do looks matter?

To the world at large? Yes, obviously. To me personally? Not really. Will I look at a pretty girl longer a less pretty one? Yes. Does that make her smarter or more worthy? No.

50. Could you ever forgive a cheater?

I assume you don't mean at cards. Yes, I think I could, but things would never be the same again. So, I guess, in a way, that means no-that's not forgiveness at all.

51. Is your phone bill sky high?

Cell phone? Yes, but it's all data. I avoid talking on the phone.

52. Do you like your life right now?


53. Do you sleep with the TV on?

My wife likes it that way, so yes.

54. Can you handle the truth?

No, Colonel Jessup, I can't. I prefer to persist in my delusions.

55. Do you have good vision?

On the basketball court? Surely. In general? I think so. I have a little problem with depth perception that makes me terrible at golf.

56. Do you hate or dislike more than 3 people?

I don't think I hate anyone. Hate leads to the dark side, you see. Even someone I profoundly disagree with, like George W. Bush, I don't think I hate.

57. How often do you talk on the phone?

As seldom as I can manage it.

58. The last person you held hands with?

My better half, @djswebb

59. What are you wearing?

A Jackie Robinson t shirt and blue jeans. 40 inch waist jeans, by the by, which haven't fit me in a while.

60. What is your favourite animal?

Cat. Always been a cat person. Sorry.

61. Where was your favorite picture taken at?

Favorite picture? October 27, 2004, 11:40 PM. Busch Stadium, St. Louis, Missouri.

62. Can you hula hoop?

I used to. I tried some years ago and was hopelessly bad at it. So no, I guess.

63. Do you have a job?

Yes. Want it?

64. What was the most recent thing you bought?

For myself? A used copy of Malcolm Lowry's novel "Under The Volcano".

65. Have you ever crawled through a window?

No. I might if Melissa Etheridge asked me too, though.

The Sunday 160: Pacification

It's Sunday, which means it's time for the Monkey Man's Sunday 160, a story in 160 characters or less. This week's is called "Pacification" and is once again about the Boy Who Would Be King, my brand spankin' new nephew, Wyatt Couchoud, and his encounter with a new object, the pacifier:

Same shape.
Taste is wrong.
No food coming out.
Is this some kind of trick?
Suck once. Again.
Really? Is this the best you can do?
Oh, well.
It beats crying.

Game 98: We Winneth Two Of Three

In Seattle last night, the Red Sox' usually reliable Long Jon Lester was not, surrendering a 1-0 lead to a late rally of the Mariners, falling 5-1. Boston is 55-43, and seven increasingly large games out of first place.