Saturday, January 17, 2009


I finished Mike Schmidt(the former third baseman and Hall of Famer Michael Jack Schmidt, not the former third baseman Michael Glenn Schmidt)'s book "Clearing The Bases", and also finished Tim McCarver's "Diamond Gems" within the last few days.

Mike Schmidt made a somewhat amusing statement-if you're trailing by four runs with one man on, he would rather the hitter walk than hit a home run, because if you walk, you're continuing the "momentum" of the inning. Now, a lot of things factor in to this analysis, of course-if the walk brings up Albert Pujols, your chances look a lot better than if you bring up, let's say, me.

But if you are trailing by four runs, in the 7th inning, none out, runner on first, historically speaking, you win the game 5.7% of the time. (Check my math here: If you walk, putting runners at first and second, you win the game 7.3% of the time. But if you hit the home run, so you now trail by two, but with the bases empty, you win 15.35% of the time.

McCarver's book also brought me two stories I hadn't ever heard about an event I thought I had read everything about: the 1986 World Series. In the interviews McCarver did, Ron Darling claimed that the Mets noticed that Roger Clemens had shaved during the late innings of Game Six, thus implying Clemens expected to be on television soon. Wade Boggs also said the third base umpire asked Boggs if he (the umpire) could have his hat, because he collected World Series winner caps. Boggs said he replied that the game wasn't over yet. Boggs was wrong, of course-the game was soon to be over, only not the way he intended.

My wife uncovered our Calvin and Hobbes books from whatever corner they were lingering in. Did I mention that I loved this woman?

CURRENTLY READING: Beyond the Sixth Game, Peter Gammons. (Library) Shockingly, Gammons' only book. I had it soon after it came out in hardcover-goodness knows where that copy is.

Friday, January 16, 2009

They're dropping like flies...

Actors Ricardo Montalban (Fantasy Island) and Patrick McGoohan, along with painter Andrew Wyeth, have passed away recently.

All three were significant, I think, probably Wyeth the most important, if such things can be measured.

When you look back on lives like that, you can't help but compare your own. It isn't fair, but there you go. I have lived approximately 40% of their lives, and it is fairly certain the New York Times will not carry my obituary.

Then again, it is not entirely certain, assuming I live out the year, that there will be a New York Times to have a obituary in.

The world is changing, my friends. I'm not sure I'm happy about this. I'm also pretty sure the Universe doesn't care what I think.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

When I think back on all the crap I learned in high school...

Read Joe Garagiola's "Just Play Ball" this morning. There's a bit of old man crankiness in it, which you have to expect from a guy who played in the 1946 World Series, but it was okay otherwise. I haven't given up on the Jackie Robinson book, I just had a chance to hit the library before I got too far into it, so I'm going to work on those books first.

Firefox led me to this morning, which is proving to be pretty cool. Programmable Internet radio FTW!

More West Wing this morning, and, as it usually does on Bravo, the dramatic tension ended in favor of The Unattractive People Being Unpleasant Show, otherwise known as the Real Housewives of Orange County. How that is a television program amazes me.

There is a documentary on PBS about comedy on tonight that I want to catch. The filmmaker was on Bob Edwards' show, which I finally heard last night, and it sounds very interesting.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

How do you DO that?

On this week's "Car Talk", they had a call from a woman who had moved from San Francisco to Puerto Rico to open a restaurant. The call wasn't particularly interesting, at least, no more so than usual-but the notion stunned me.

You can do that? Just pick up, and leave, and go to another country, and open a restaurant? I mean, I know people do that sort of thing, but the sheer audacity of it stunned me. The notion of just leaving, up and taking off, and doing something new. Wow. Not being consumed by guilt, or remorse, or fear, or anything else? Just doing it?


A comment so good I had to share it...

From the always entertaining Wicked Pissa Dude Radio, an attitude and humor filled Boston sports podcast: (

The point I try to emphasize about the steroid thing is that there are all kinds of skew inherent in baseball's numbers.

From 1876-1947 not all the best players were allowed to play.

From 1900-1919 the game was essentially fast pitch softball-spitballs were legal, and the cover practically had to come off before you got a new ball.

From the 1970s on, you have the evolution of the closer and specialized relievers.

From the mid 1990s-to the mid 2000s, you have steroids, but also smaller ballparks, expansion, and a strike zone about the size of a dinner plate.

So all of baseball's numbers, and all of life, really, has to be viewed in the CONTEXT of the game within which they were accomplished.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Feel Old?

# It is 277 days until your next birthday.
# In dog years you are 259 years old.
# You are 13,603 days old.
# You are approximately 326,473 hours old.
# You are approximately 1,175,303,245 seconds old.


The Votes Are In, Such As They Are...

And Rickey Henderson ( and Jim Rice( are official, fully vested, 100% prime Hall of Famers. It's a shame that Bert Blyleven couldn't make it, as a strong argument can be made for him, too. But as I did, I don't care that much about it. I'm happy that they are in.

More importantly, in Molly Ivins' felicitous phrase, the only president that we've got apparently had himself a little tantrum during his final press conference.


Among others, the quote that kills me is this one:

"Do you remember what it was like right after September the 11th around here?" Bush asked, his voice rising. "People were saying, 'How come they didn't see it, how come they didn't connect the dots?' Do you remember what the environment was like in Washington? I do. When people were hauled up in front of Congress and members of Congress were asking questions about, how come you didn't know this, that, or the other? And then we start putting policy in place -- legal policy in place to connect the dots, and all of a sudden people were saying, 'How come you're connecting the dots?'"

No, Mr. President. Nobody objects to your connecting the dots. No sane person is going to say that they don't want you to try to protect them.

What people object to is your breaking the law, and then lying about it. Breaking known, settled, nearly one thousand year old protections in Western law, and shattering them, and then lying about it. Demonizing those who dare question your behavior, and then lying about it. Your subhuman, sneering contempt for people who don't look like you, or people who didn't grow up the son of a President.

THAT's what we object to.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Belinda Carlisle is no joke!

Another weekend day, wasted away to nothing.

Finished A Game Of Brawl, moving on now to "Baseball's Great Experiment", another Jackie Robinson book. Waiting for the baseball jag to exhaust itself.

Tomorrow at 1:30 PM, the members of the 2009 class for the Baseball Hall of Fame will be announced. The HOF is a curious institution-a private organization, it answers to no one, really-and yet it stirs up hornets nests of debate from baseball fans about who should be there and who shouldn't.

I don't care, myself, all that much. I am interested to see who goes in, but I'm not going to fly into a rage if someone does or doesn't.

The consensus is that Rickey Henderson will slide (so to speak) into the Hall. The question and controversy comes up when you ask who else goes in. There are a number of other deserving candidates, but generally speaking, only 2 or at most 3 go in each year. Ideally, for me, it would be Henderson, Tim Raines, Jim Rice, and Bert Blyleven. But that's just me.

I played some "Rock Band 2" with my son today. It's more fun, and more difficult, than I really want to admit. Even seemingly simple songs, like "We Got The Beat" by The Go Gos, are harder than one might think. Playing "Rock Band 2" is to playing music like looking at a picture in a cookbook is to eating a meal. But it's fun as hell.