Friday, December 24, 2010

VII: Another Chance

Voice-over: We'll be returning to our feature film in just a few short moments, but first, we'd like to take a moment to tell you about a product certain to replace Tickle Me Elmo and Canadian whiskey straight from the bottle as THE gift of the holiday season.

Man #1: Thanks Ed. Now, Brad, I don't know about you, but I often spend the weeks and months before Christmas standing in never-ending lines subsisting on pemmican waiting for the year's newest toy that my child absolutely needs to keep up the will to live, only to find out that they sold the last one to the woman in front of me in the line, and I get the feeling I'm not alone here. How often does this happen to you?

Man #2: Never, since I bought a gun.

Man #1: (Silence)

Man #2: Kidding! (Mouthing to camera: Not really kidding)

Man #1: I can see you, you know.

Man #2: Oh. Well Chad, now you'll never have to do that again, because we've got this holiday season's hottest gift right here, and you can get it shipped directly to your home for the low, low price of just 17 easy payments of $14.83!

Man #1: Wow! That is a low, low price! But enough about how good a deal this is, and it's certainly a good one. What's it for?

Man #2: I'm glad you asked. Chad, how often have you wanted to own your own dinosaur?

Man #1: Ever since I saw Jurassic Park!

Man #2: Are you mocking me? I can't tell. (Pause) Well, what if I told you we've got something even better than that. A dinosaur....

Man #1: Yes?

Man #2: With a rocket launcher!

Man #1: Wow! That sounds like such an amazing idea, I'm surprised Bill Gates hasn't already filed for a patent on it!

Man #2: Actually, he has. We took it (Mouthing to audience: The gun).

Man #1: Well, let's hope he doesn't press charges! But what kind of dinosaurs are we talking about here?

Man #2: With this introductory offer at the low, low price of just 14 easy payments of $19.85, we'll even let you pick the dinosaur!

V-O (Over shots of TOTALLY AWESOME dinosaurs with rocket launchers): That's right guys. You can get your very own rocket-wielding velociraptor! Or a Tyrannosaurus Rex! Or a brontosaurus with side-mounted missiles!

Man #1: What about my very own Maiosaurus?

Man #2: No, because that one's a pussy.

Man #1: (Sulks)

Man #2: Be the envy of what's left of your block! Get yourself a dinosaur with a rocket launcher today for just 182 easy payments of just $103.74! Heck, at that price get them for the whole family!

Man #1: I will, Chad! And I'm never standing in line again!

Man #2: Because your dinosaur will kill everyone in line?

Man #1: No, because people are going to order these to come in the mail. What is wrong with you?

V-O: So just call 1-900-AWESOME and don't check your monthly statements too closely! Satisfaction probable! We now return you to It's a Wonderful Life, already in progress.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Sabathia-Hernandez Debate

It's AL Cy Young Day! Hoorays! Anyway, here's something I started a while back and forgot about, then revived before it becomes even less timely. Hopefully I caught all the tenses and things which needed changing now. Alright, here we go.

There's a spirited yelling match currently going on between the old-school writers who believe that the Cy Young award should be given to the grittiest player regardless of results (Because "You can't trust them statistics.") (Also: This player is David Eckstein. Even though he doesn't pitch) and the sabermetrics crowd, who want the award to go to whoever their Excel spreadsheet says it should (These caricatures are completely hackneyed by this point. Sorry for any groan-induced pains reading them may have caused). So, with bedlam gripping the nation as we wait to see who will finally be deemed the best by a small sample of the BBWAA in the voting this afternoon, I have decided to submit a completely unscientific entry that proves absolutely nothing to the discussion. You're welcome.

Most of the disagreement is coming from the 'Wins' statistic. Sabathia (Record of 21-7) led the league in wins, which, it should be noted, are technically something a team earns, rather than an individual player. Hernandez had a record of 13 wins and 12 losses. Which does not sound all that impressive. However, Sabathia also led the league in run support, the runs his offensive players, who he has no control over (Unless he is injecting them with steroids between innings), scored in his starts, whereas Hernandez finished dead last in this, as his teammates are still hoping that someday a coach will tell them which end of the bat they are supposed to hold. This may have had some slight impact on that 'Wins' statistic. So, to complicate things further, I am now going to match up game logs, and keep Sabathia's statistics from each game, but give him the run support Hernandez received in his corresponding start. To make things slightly tipped in Sabathia's favor (And balance out park effects, which are completely ignored here, a bit), it shall be assumed that all run support was scored while he was still in the game, and all relievers who followed him gave up no runs. Also, his runs allowed will be used rather than his earned runs, because, at the heart of it all, the concept of an 'earned' run is fairly convoluted and stupid. Either it scores or it doesn't. Anyway, there are many, many flaws in this method which prevent it from being a tool that is actually useful, but it seems like fun, so I'm going to do it. Basically, pitcher wins are a stupid stat, so I am using a fairly stupid method to point that out. Feel free to point out its flaws in the comments!

Format: Start #: Seattle Runs-Sabathia Runs Allowed, Decision (Pitcher record)

1: 5-5, ND (0-0)
2: 4-0, W (1-0)
3:11-1, W (2-0)
4: 4-4, ND (2-0)
5: 1-3, L (2-1)
6: 3-1, W (3-1)
7: 0-3, L (3-2)
8: 5-6, L (3-3)
9: 5-1, W (4-3)
10: 1-6, L (4-4)
11: 1-5, L (4-5)
12: 4-3, W (5-5)
13: 1-2, L (5-6)
14: 4-3, W (6-6)
15: 5-0, W (7-6)
16: 2-1, W (8-6)
17: 7-2, W (9-6)
18: 4-1, W (10-6)
19: 4-1, W (11-6)
20: 2-4, L (11-7)
21: 2-4, L (11-8)
22: 1-4, L (11-9)
23: 0-3, L (11-10)
24: 0-2, L (11-11)
25: 2-3, L (11-12)
26: 1-2, L (11-13)
27: 6-0, W (12-13)
28: 4-5, L (12-14)
29: 3-0, W (13-14)
30: 3-6, L (13-15)
31: 4-0, W (14-15)
32: 2-3, L (14-16)
33: 0-7, L (14-17)
34: 3-1, W (15-17)

So fictional CC Sabathia pitching for the Seattle Mariners with a perfect bullpen put up a 2010 record of 15-17, tying for the major league lead in losses. Now, this is an imperfect exercise, but it does nicely show how poor the reasoning behind voting for Sabathia this year is. Still have doubts? We can move onto some advanced statistics that matter immensely if you'd like. Hernandez led Sabathia in innings pitched, strikeouts, and runs allowed (Like, he gave up fewer runs). To vote for Sabathia, one has to announce to the world that the only statistic they care about is pitcher wins, and nothing else matters to them. Considering this is what mainstream media writers often like to accuse statistically-minded people of doing (If you sub in, say, VORP for pitcher wins), well, I find this rather amusing. Even though the writers who vote for Sabathia will never understand why.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Marlins Strike! Wait, That's Too Dramatic.

The Florida Marlins are one of the most intelligently-run organizations in baseball. After winning two World Series championships in the last fifteen years and being almost annual playoff contenders these days despite a ridiculous shoestring budget, it's safe to say that if you don't understand the moves the Marlins are making, the fault is on your end. The team always seems able to summon young, cost-controlled talent at will from its farm system, and they have an absolutely unlimited supply of power arms down there, waiting for a chance to pitch for the parent club.

That said, I have no idea what the Marlins are doing right now.

The offseason has just begun, and the Marlins have already struck with three trades and one free agent signing following each other in rapid succession. Let's take them approximately chronologically.

Traded LHP Andrew Miller to the Boston Red Sox for LHP Dustin Richardson. This one is easy enough to figure out: The Marlins are attempting to save money. Both Miller and Richardson suck, but Miller has a history of being a top prospect with electric stuff that he has somehow misplaced, and therefore is getting paid a mid-range sum of money this year, whereas Richardson sucks on the cheap. Essentially, the Marlins are betting $1.5 million that Miller never recovers from whatever ails him.

Traded CF Cameron Maybin to the San Diego Padres for RHP Edward Mujica and RHP Ryan Webb. Now, both Webb and Mujica are quality pitchers, albeit relievers rather than starters. But Maybin is still very young, cheap, and while his bat is still a work in progress, he has hit very well in AAA and plays excellent defense in center field. This is usually the sort of player the Marlins look for, not trade away. He is out of minor league options, so maybe they didn't think he'd be good enough to make the team out of Spring Training next year and wanted to move him before that became a problem. Which is weird, because he hit very well in AAA this year, and they have no centerfielder on the roster.

Traded 2B Dan Uggla to the Atlanta Braves for LHP Mike Dunn and utilityman Omar Infante.This is just strange and/or awful. Uggla is an All Star-caliber second baseman under team control for one more year. Infante is a utilityman with no patience or power at the plate who is also signed for another year, and Mike Dunn is a cheap reliever who once heard rumor of a strange land called the strike zone, but dismissed it. Again, though: The Marlins do save money.

Signed C John Buck to a 3-year, $18 million dollar contract. And there goes that money. I know you need a catcher to prevent the ball from rolling to the backstop every play, but it seems to me that if your catcher is going to cost you $6,000,000 guaranteed each season, he should probably not suck. Unfortunately for them, the Marlins do not agree with me about this. Because they signed Buck, who sucks. I could detail how he sucks, but it will be far less painful for all parties concerned if you just take my word for it. You want something anyway? Fine. Here's an unfair comparison: Buck's career .301 on-base percentage is slightly worse than the career OBP of Smoky Joe Wood with the Red Sox. Don't make me actually break Buck down. I will do it. And it will be long. And I'm starting to kind of want to.

Unless there's going to be a sudden pandemic that affects only relief pitchers, I'm mystified here. The Marlins are trading away assets to stockpile players at the least valuable position on a baseball team (Well, okay, more valuable than 'The Guy Who Backs Up Albert Pujols'. But that's about it). Normally the Marlins are a very sharp ballclub, but they suddenly seem to have a dearth of outfielders after jettisoning Maybin and (Slightly more distantly) Cody Ross, and announcing that Chris Coghlan will move back to the infield this season. The relievers will be useful if the team contends, but with the lineup they currently have, that seems unlikely. However, they are moving into a new stadium soon, and should have a rise in revenue from that. And while they've already wasted about 2/3 of what they've saved in the trades on Buck, there's still some left over from that. I wouldn't be surprised if that money plus some more gets invested in a player or two more as the offseason continues, with a goal of moving the team up into contention this year, be it via free agency (Baseless speculation that will never ever happen: Carl Crawford?) or a trade for a high-salaried player (With the Dodgers' reported financial issues, Matt Kemp, perhaps?). These moves just feel like the precursor to something bigger, something that will make the Marlins a Team To Beat in 2011. Because otherwise they just screwed up royally, and a team this smart wouldn't do that. Right?

Update - They will move Coghlan to centerfield. So I figured hey, when's the next time I'll be in Haiti?

Signs Your Cough Drop Isn't Working Well

1. You cough so hard that you accidentally swallow it.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Who Wants To Be A Millionaire Has Ruined Everything

In the beginning there were only two game shows, as God intended. Jeopardy and (For those who had suffered frontal lobe damage and enjoyed the fine sport of competitive clapping) Wheel of Fortune. Sure, there were rumors of something called The Price is Right, but I am a blogger. I have no time for vague legends. These two shows kept everyone happy, and for everyone else, there was America's Funniest Home Videos (Quote from a wise man upon a shot of Bob Saget on this program:"Look closely at his face. That's the face of a man who hates himself.") Then in 1999, a show imported from the Brits as part of their most recent attempt to destroy America emerged: Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. This programme (SEE WHAT I DID THERE?) was in the form of Jeopardy in that it was a quiz show, but featured only a single contestant attempting to answer questions of increasing difficulty, with possible answers being listed in a multiple-choice format. If this sounds extremely straightforward, well, that's because it is. What the eventually will be known for is something other than these things. Millionaire's legacy is the



Employed by host Regis Philbin after the contestant has ALREADY GIVEN HIM THEIR ANSWER. These are presumably done to heighten the tension or some absolute crap like that, but all they do is drag out the proceedings and make this vein in my forehead start pulsing. I really should get that checked out now that I have a job that gives me benefits. Eventually Millionaire left primetime for syndication, but while it is now removed from the spotlight, the pauses have taken over everything (Except Jeopardy. Thank God for Jeopardy). The Official Girlfriend has been watching a lot of The Gameshow Network lately, and for each one-hour programme (I DID IT AGAIN), I would estimate there is approximately 3 minutes of actual gameshow combined with 572 minutes of pauses. My math may be off there, but let's just go with it. It is no longer limited to gameshows, either. NBC's smash only hit show The Biggest Loser each week features 25 minutes of actual show (In a two-hour time slot) and a full hour of people standing on a giant scale while the number goes up and down at random despite the fact that IT'S A DIGITAL SCALE AND DEAR GOD JUST SAY WHAT THEY WEIGH AND GET ON WITH IT. This is why, when the multitudes ask me on a daily basis "Mike, why is network television dying?" I tell them that it's all Regis Philbin's fault.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Baseball Storytime!

Wait, don't leave! This one's fun! And also short! Promise!

Last night Yankees pitcher Javier Vazquez, attempting to pitch well enough to be included on the team's postseason roster, hit three straight batters with pitches. Which, it turns out, ties a record for consecutive hit batters set by Dock Ellis in 1974. Dock Ellis is also famous for throwing a no-hitter while on acid. Yes, that sort of acid. Apparently in 1974, someone on the Reds called the Pirates, Ellis' team, dumb. Ellis said to a teammate that he would hit every one of them. The teammate bet him a steak (And a good one at that) he wouldn't. The teams played near the end of the season, and Ellis decided his teammates had lost their aggresiveness. So he took things up a notch. Before the game he took several uppers, then went out and hit the first three batters of the game. He walked the fourth, not for a lack of effort, but because the batter dodged the four straight pitches that were thrown at him. After the fifth batter dodged two straight beanballs, Ellis' manager removed him from the game. Even though it wasn't technically the whole Reds team, Ellis' teammate payed up on the bet. Ah, the Seventies.

So what was the point of all this? I don't remember. But congratulations, Javy Vazquez.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Yes, I Would Love the Job

Well, not so much me, as I am now gainfully employed in a manner I can report to the IRS. The Official Girlfriend is currently job-hunting, an activity which often leaves her frustrated for all the obvious reasons. She spends a lot of time on job-related internet sites, which are known for their startling veracity in all regards. This state of affairs led to her receiving the following email in response to her application for a babysitting job. Please excuse the mangled English. It cannot be helped, as the family in question recently moved to the country, according to an email which accompanied this one, and has now been sadly lost. Where did they move from?, you may well ask. England. I swear I am not making that up.

Hello Dear,

I have listed some questions from for you below as i was adviced by the nanny site that these questions should be the basis for for us to make a choice of a good baby sitter.Our kids mean everything to us and we would do all withing our best of efforts to give him the best of things in life.I hope the questiions are not so breath taking , we are only trying to act as we have been directed by the nanny site so we can know we are having someone with enormous experience when it comes to baby sitting.

Questions are listed below:

Do you smoke?

How well do you like pets ?Any allergies?

Do you drink alcohol?

Do you speak any languages other than English?

Would you work in a position with a mom how far? how long?

What are your education goals?

Have you ever been treated for mental illness/depression?

How many children do you feel comfortable caring for?

What ages do you prefer?

Are you CPR and first aid certified?

What are your weaknesses/limitations?

What are your strengths?

What do you like to do your free time?

How many people are in your family?

What is your relationship like with your parents and siblings?

What jobs have you had in the past?

Have you been a past nanny ?where do you get a job?

Are you interested in taking classes?

How assertive are you?Do you feel you communication?

How much do you charge and what hours are you available?

I hope to get your response back soon enough so we can get on with this.

Thank you and stay blessed lastly kindly send atleast one of your reference (s) so we can contact them and know more about you.

Despite the fact that this is very clearly a legitimate job and not at all sketchy in any way, she decided not to respond to this Englishwoman's very reasonable questions. Being myself, and therefore completely ridiculous, I decided to handle her response for her. It follows.

Dear Nancy,

My breath was initially taken away by your enormous list of questions, but after I regained it I decided that I would try to suppress my anger over your obvious distrust of me long enough to answer your questions. Based on the length of the list, I suspect you are an overbearing person. You should be careful of that, as it could lead to your children having emotional problems later in life, and therapy bills are expensive. Also, I will helpfully number your questions in my response, even though numbers are a tool of science, and therefore against God's will.

  1. I do not smoke cigarettes.

  2. I like all pets except fish, reptiles, cats and dogs.

2b. I used to have allergies, but God cured them.

  1. Not before lunchtime.

  1. I speak Latin as well as English, in case the College of Cardinals chooses to appoint me Pope.

  2. 17 feet.

5b. A fortnight.

  1. To someday stop eating the paste.

  2. The court records have been sealed, so no.

  3. Up to one. Ideally less.

  4. I like 'em young.

  5. If God has decided it is time for someone to die, we should not interfere.

  6. I have no weaknesses or limitations, and am insulted that you would even ask that.

  7. I can leg-press 1,500 pounds.

  8. In my free time, I usually hunt the most dangerous game.

  9. 28. We're Catholic.

  10. Very poor, but it's their fault, not mine.

  11. I mostly work for tips.

  12. Yes, in a past life.

17b. Usually on the corner.

  1. If God wants me to know more things, he will implant that knowledge directly into my brain.

  2. I am very assertive, especially when I am holding my metal bat.

19b. I are excrutiatingly skilled at communications.

  1. That depends on what the client wants, and am busy at nighttimes.

  2. That is not a question.

I hope this has helped you realize that God wants me to watch your kids, and if you don't give me the position than you must be stupid. Pray to him, as he is my reference.

In His name,

-Dani Stock

I think I turned her into some kind of Catholic hooker there. Anyways, being completely unreasonable and a notorious hater of fun and/or lulz, she refused to allow me to send this. So Nancy, I'm sorry you so rudely received no response (You're reading my blog, right? Cool). She'd love the position. Stay in touch.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

I Am Alive. Barely.

As I have mentioned on many past occasions, I spend a decent amount of time in my kitchen, and not just because that is the room of the apartment which contains the designated Catan table. As a result of this, combined with my eternal absent-mindedness (Which I also hold responsible for the fact that anytime I hold a marker for over thirty seconds, half its ink winds up on my hands), I am usually dealing with between three and five minor hand injuries at any given time, ranging from slight burns to small cuts, which are prevented from becoming large cuts primarily by the fact that my knives were all ridiculously cheap due to the fact that they are slightly less sharp than Mark Twain's wit (Present-day dead version). So it is no real surprise that last night I suffered a cut on my thumb. However, the specifics are slightly out of the ordinary. I was not cut by a knife, you see. Rather, my knife performed its primary job (Not cutting me) admirably. My thumb was cut by a carrot.

Like this. But evil.
Okay, maybe just like this.

How did I manage this?, you may well ask yourself. And was the cruel perpetrator captured, sauteed with dill and served with catfish? The answers are, respectively, that I was evidently holding the foul vegetable with the point of my thumb on the cutting board when my knifework caused the carrot to slide, making me bleed a bit from under the nail, and it's kind of creepy that you knew that much. I have got to start closing my blinds at night.


Friday, June 25, 2010

Delicious Cake

I'm very late to the party on this one, but it is a party I am unwilling to miss, regardless of severe tardiness issues. For those of you who don't know of it, there is a cable television channel out there called Food Network. And a decent amount of the time, its shows are actually about food. Not necessarily good types of food, but food nonetheless. Then there are their other shows, about Guy Fieri buying coke in seedy diners or whatever. And then there are the unclassifiable shows. Foremost amongst these is the wonderful/reprehensible/nauseating Semi-Homemade Cooking with Sandra Lee. This show, Sandra claims, will teach you how to make delicious meals that are no fuss out of 70% store-bought ingredients and 30% fresh ingredients, because who has the time to cook these days? The answer: obviously not Sandra.

You see, the premise for the show is reasonable enough for a certain target market. The problem lies in the fact that Sandra has no idea whatsoever how to cook (If you would like proof of this, here is a recipe she made on-air for a skirt steak flavored with 1/4 cup of taco seasoning, then topped with a chocolate-merlot sauce. Really. I swear to god. The users' comments on the recipe might be even funnier than the recipe itself). She simply throws things together at random and then either fakes a foodgasm when she tastes them, or eschews the tasting of her terrifying creations altogether in favor of moving on to her favorite portion of the show: cocktail time! This is the part of the show that explains the whole thing. Sandra's drinking habit. She excitedly makes a cocktail on every show, and then even more excitedly consumes it. Based on how the shows go, it's entirely possible that this is how she prepares for them as well. Not that these are necessarily any better-tasting than the food, but at least if you drink enough of them first, the rest of the mess might seem palatable (You think I'm kidding about these being bad? Oh no. Here is one that combines lemonade, heavy cream, and vodka. Oh yes, you read that ingredient list right. Sandra is evidently not familiar with the term 'curdle').

But then, why does she have a show? I am not entirely sure. But she is blond and prettyish, which apparently goes a long way when combined with rampant alcoholism and a total disregard for the stomachs of her viewing audience. This probably has something to do with it. However, where her show absolutely shines is in her favorite thing other than booze, her 'tablescapes'. Every episode she coordinates things so that her entire dining room is filled with randomly-glued-together items from a craft store designed to accentuate the 'theme' of whatever terrifying menu she has concocted (If you're feeling really motivated, Youtube has a video of the time she covered her christmas tree with all the glasses from her bar. "It shines just like real crystal!" Amazing). Her kitchen will inevitably match whatever she is wearing. It is terrifying. She is essentially a completely over-the-top stereotype of a bored 1950s housewife with a severe drinking problem frozen and then brought back to life in this century and thrust directly in front of a television camera. She simultaneously terrifies and amuses me. Why this lengthy preamble? To give you some context for the greatness that is to follow. Behold: Sandra Lee making a Kwanzaa cake.

You're welcome.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

These Guys Are Probably Tired

These two tennis players are John Isner and Nicholas Mahut (Isner's on the left. He's tall), who were slated to play each other in an early round of Wimbledon yesterday. And they did, but they weren't finished yet when it got dark, so the match was suspended until today, when they went out to play the fifth set, tied at two sets apiece. And they played the fifth set until it got dark, at which point it was again suspended, and now they will attempt to finish it tomorrow. In case you aren't familiar with how the scoring works here, each set in tennis is won by the first person to win six games, with there being a tiebreaker if the players are, well, tied. Except in the fifth set, which goes until a player leads by two games or someone collapses and dies on-court, whichever happens first. As it stands right now, this match is tied 6-4, 3-6, 6-7 (7), 7-6 (3), 59-59. That last bit is not a misprint. They have now been playing this match for over 10 hours, 7 of which was spent on the fifth set today. Yes, seven hours of tennis in one day. Isner was tired enough today that he swung and missed at the ball. Twice. Mahut fell down.

Get up, wuss.

The match is scheduled to resume tomorrow, so please, if you're a fan of great tennis or watching people die on-court for the amusement of spectators, tune in.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Truth

Pre-introductory note note: Apparently something has changed in the default blog layout so that embedded videos are now cut off on the right-hand side. As much as I don't want to change my blog layout due to familiarity and/or laziness, this may necessitate it. It shouldn't matter too much for this video, but let me know if it's irritating you like it is me and I'll see what I can do.

-The Management

Before you click on that play button sitting there so temptingly below, I just want to say that this video comes with both a language and content warning. From me. At the same time, it is possibly the funniest thing I have heard this year, even though it was originally released in 2004. This makes me ahead of the times as far as the Midwest is concerned. So now, please enjoy the vocal stylings of Mr. Greg Giraldo, if appropriate for your sensibilities.

And in doing some research, apparently the guy behind Lazyboy was originally in Aqua. Yes, that Aqua. I don't really know how I feel about that, but I definitely like this much better.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Indiana, You've Got A Problem

As I'm sure you all know because everybody who reads this knows me (Feel free to point this out in the comments, Isaac), I recently drove a U-Haul from Vermont to Minnesota, which is only marginally more fun than it sounds. Due to a tragic error on the part of the founding fathers, this meant that I had to drive through Indiana on my journey. Now, having grown up in Vermont, I never paid much attention to Indiana during my younger, more vulnerable years, knowing it only as the place where Hoosiers was filmed, I think, and where John Mellencamp probably came from, and hopefully can be sent back to. Having spent somewhere upwards of two hours in the state, I am now a fully qualified Indiana expert or something of the like, and would like to share my misery with you. So please, join me as you learn everything there is to know about the only state in the union to rival Delaware in terms of utter dullness! Hey, where did everybody go?

The first thing I noted upon driving through Indiana was that there was absolutely nothing there, an observation that the remainder of the trip would utterly fail to contradict. In fact, I believe that on I-90, Indiana actually had more rest areas than exits. Which is amazing. Fortunately, the horizon does not detract from the nothing throughout the state, as anytime I stood up I immediately became the tallest thing in sight. I thought I saw a hill once, but it turned out to be a dream I had. About Indiana. Worst. Dream. Ever. But despite all of this, there is something very distinct about Indiana beyond the remarkable number of Christian rock stations on the FM band (Many of which were absolutely hilarious. Picture a more bombastic version of Creed. Now don't picture it. Aren't you happier the second way?), and this is the number of public service/notice posters at each and every rest area, all of which were about meth. Specifically, the fact that you should not do or manufacture it. Now, I thought this was a fairly well-known sentiment due to meth's rather severe effects, but apparently after spending enough time in Indiana, these start to look rather appealing, which I can actually understand.

So that's Indiana in a nutshell. Jesus rock and meth. Thanks for joining me as I experience bad travel-related flashbacks. You are now a fully qualified Indianaologist or something. Someone should probably give me a government grant for all I'm doing to publicize the state here to only people who know me.

As a postscript, Indiana also did feature the city of Gary, but I'm going to file that under 'meth'.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Heaven Is Whenever

It's like a white, middle class dork's dream at the moment, with new albums out by indie royalty The National, The New Pornographers, Broken Social Scene (Who somehow manage to be good in spite of that terrible name), and the ever-mighty The Fall, as well as the latest disc from The Hold Steady, who have just put out their fifth studio album, Heaven is Whenever. And as much as I'd love to tell you my impressions of their direction gleaned from the recent concert I attended were wrong, I cannot do so in good conscience. But, as much as I hate to acknowledge that eternal bastion of pretentiousness, I must agree with Pitchfork in their assessment of this album, namely, this is very clearly a transitional album for the band, moving from their past awe-inspiring awesomeness into whatever brave new world awaits, and until that endpoint becomes fixed, it's hard to entirely judge this album. But while future offerings may lead to a re-considering of Heaven is Whenever, at the moment we only have the available information to go on, and that information is not good.

Since their last album, 2008s Stay Positive, the band featured a slight lineup modification, as they lost both keyboardist Franz Nicolay and his awesome mustache:


The general thinking out there was that this would signal a return to the guitar-based sounds of Almost Killed Me, losing the keyboard flourishes that had populated recent offerings. Nothing could be further from the truth. Rather than continue with what they've been doing or return to the past, the band instead chose to take an abrupt left turn, as they have incorporated their familiar sound with what sound like the guitars U2 stopped using in 1991 (Admittedly, they found them again in 2001, when, presumably, someone in the band had gotten behind on his mortgage). In concept, this sounds like a rather awkward marriage, which is fitting, because that rather perfectly encapsulates what it turns out to be in practice.

The album begins with what sounds rather like a dobro on The Sweet Part of the City, a surprise after the last disc came out blaring the fire-breathing Constructive Summer. This is mixed in with acoustic guitars and backwards plucking, as Craig Finn revisits his by-now traditional themes of kids drinking and playing music mixed in with the requisite religious imagery/references. It's by no means a failure, but at the same time, it never manages to really be interesting either. Finn, now showing more confidence in his expanded range after the years of vocal lessons he has been taking, sings rather than sputters, and nothing of note ever happens. What is noteworthy is that there are far more background vocals than were present on past albums, a trend that will continue (And become increasingly more obnoxious) as the album progresses. Yet this is still better than track two, Soft in the Center, which attempts to bring back the guitars to restore some sense of normalcy to the proceedings, but falls flat on its face. This highlights a disturbing fact: The band has not completely turned its back on rocking out, but throughout Heaven is Whenever, they often sound awkward when they attempt to bring back the guitars. Of course, considering a decent amount of the slower songs are also off-putting maybe it's simply the songs themselves. But the fact that The Hold Steady no longer seem able to slide back into what made them a name in the first place is rather disconcerting. Anyway, Soft in the Center is a fairly generic ballad, featuring stilted riffing under Finn's singing throughout the verses, which really could be played by almost any band out there, something that simply could not be said about past offerings. But so far we're in boringly inoffensive territory. It is what used to be the band's highlight that moves this track over the line to outright awful. Over syrupy oohs and ahs, the chorus finds Finn crooning "You can't get every girl, so love the one you're with the best". Excuse me, but when did this turn into a Jimmy Eat World album? Beyond my absolute hatred of the use of the second person in music, this brings out a major break with the band's past, as Heaven is Whenever shows Finn moving away from the third-person tales of former songs. Rather, on this album he is directly in the songs, as first-person narrative dominates. Combined with the occasional second-person bits, it sounds that, rather than telling stories, Finn is now speaking directly to the audience, trying to connect with them. When he references Pavement on the dreadful ballad We Can Get Together, it isn't that they're a good band. It's that he likes them, and you like them, so won't you like him too? It's cloying, and it comes off as a desperate and disturbing attempt to keep ahold of the fanbase they've built as they abandon the very things they did to build up that following.

This is not to say that the album has no redeeming qualities. The Weekenders is a highlight, combining the now-requisite backing vocals with a wonderfully-delivered rollicking chorus which seems to feature the horse-racing clairvoyant from Chips Ahoy!, and the chorus is so wonderful that it takes multiple listens to even find the verses, which drift aimlessly along over The Edge's best atmospherics, disappearing from memory as soon as they end. The absolute highlight is Barely Breathing, a minor-key staccato affair featuring Finn's best spitting over the top as the band breaks loose. But even this is not perfect, as the random clarinet solo halfway through adds nothing to the song, save to serve as a good point to stop listening before the completely unnecessary and dismissable minute-long outro begins. Maybe I've been spoiled, but in the past they just made the whole 'playing music' thing seem so effortless that I'm rather shocked by the fact that even the minimal triumphs present on Heaven is Whenever are so hard-won. I never really thought about it when it was happening, but now that it's done, I'd love to be spoiled again.

And now let us no longer mince words: the middle of the album sucks more than a Brendan Fraser starring vehicle. The Smidge and Rock and Roll Problems both try to bring back the familiar sounds of past albums, but even musically, the band just sounds awkward, and Finn's vocals on the latter track especially are among the worst he has ever penned, and the delivery only highlights this. The band then moves into the aforementioned We Can Get Together, whose minimal goodwill is completely destroyed by the outro that takes up almost half the runtime of the song, and features a disjointed backing vocal chorus which merits the burning of the masters on its own, though nothing the band does really makes a case for saving them. And then we get Hurricane J, so generic a song that all it does for me is make me think of Jessie's Girl, hardly a masterpiece of artistic achievement (This is understatement, in case you're in the slow class). This is the song the band chose to play to a national television audience on The Colbert Report last week, as damning a sentence as I can think of. On an album full of mediocrity and worse, The Hold Steady seem to believe that the worst of the batch is what they want to put out there. Going forward, this seems like a rather bad omen.

Closer A Slight Discomfort, while still moving away from past glories, at least leaves the listener with some fond memories of the album, as it goes through a slow build over its first five minutes until it climaxes in chiming keyboard and pulsating drumming surrounded by a massive wall of sound, and it is only after it all fades out that you are struck with the realization that at the climax of the album, where everything should be peaking, Craig Finn, center of The Hold Steady, has checked out and left you with an instrumental coda. For a band whose reputation was built on Finn's firecracker persona, this is outright shocking. From here on out, the odds are the bandwagon will only get bigger, but while I still intend to watch from afar, I have officially left it.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Bad Romance

Music video breakdown time by request! Hooray! Anyway, Lady Gaga is a famous individual who has worked very hard to reach her current celebrity status via a two-pronged plan which I imagine went something like this:

1. Sing obnoxious songs.
2. Wear ridiculous things in public.

There may have been another step involving a pact with Satan. I'm not sure on that point. But regardless of possible demonic involvement (Welcome to my blog, hardcore Christian crazy conspiracy theorists!), I think we can all agree on one thing: If she didn't have the word 'lady' in her stage name, no one would be entirely sure. Come to think of it, I'm still not.

If you care, here's a link to the video. I will not be embedding it due to the fact that I have some standards. If you care about this sort of thing, be forewarned that it features some naughty language and very minimal amounts of clothing.

0:01 - It begins in a room from THE FUTURE. Said room features the entire cast of 'A Clockwork Orange' made over by the flamboyantly gay guy on America's Next Top Model. Not that I've seen that show. Let's move on.

0:06 - Zoom in on our heroine, wearing a glittery failed origami project and a pair of square sunglasses which have eaten her entire face, which is really for the best.

0:12 - She has part of a screen window on each fingernail. Of course she does.

0:32 - Oh god, the sounds! Please make them stop!

0:44 - Oh wow. Five or so people who seem to be David Bowie from Labyrinth wrapped head to toe in opaque white plastic have climbed out of pods in the Gaga Bath Haus and are now dancing or having seizures or something. This is simultaneously slightly disturbing and rather hilariously terrible. The video, I mean. Not the song. The song is solely the latter, but with only one adjective. I'll let you pick which one. Also, no word yet on how many transmittable diseases the Haus features. I'll let you know when I do.

1:29 - The lights in the Haus have been turned on. Any time they'd like to turn them back off is fine with me.

1:40 - And someone just ripped off Gaga's shirt. I need a beer. And to unsee all this. Sweet, sweet alcohol. Nectar of forgetting.

2:00 - And now she is evidently an extra from Where the Wild Things Are.

2:03 - Her clothes got torn off again. Can they stop doing that, please? I volunteer to staple them onto her, if that will help.


2:33 - Please make her wear something. And I don't mean the lampshade she has on her head. Please. Anyone.

2:43 - Hairless cat. More or less terrifying? Hmmmmmm......

2:50 - The glasses have been replaced by eye makeup of equal volume. How I miss the glasses.

3:06 - Now she is an underwear model surrounded by hovering diamonds. This makes less sense than Eraserhead.

3:12 - Seizure dance! Seizure dance! No, in all seriousness, it doesn't look like a seizure. It looks like they're trying to do a modern interpretation of how a Tyrannosaurus Rex grabbed onto anything with its tiny arms.

3:20 - Human shiny gyroscope thing in her underwear. I wonder why that superhero never caught on. At least she has large sunglasses on again. Life is about the small victories.

3:30 - Time for the breakdown! So of course she is wearing a sparkly bodysuit made of lizard skin that puffs out around her hips for no apparent reason. Somewhere a fashion designer is thoroughly blotto on her coin laughing hysterically.

3:37 - Also, her hair seems to be modeled on SNL's own 'Coneheads'.


4:13 - Polar bear-wearing woman and metal chin man. A match made in heaven. Please say everyone involved in the production of this music video is sterile. Please. I'm begging you.

4:26 - Fire! Take two steps to your left, please.

4:30-4:57 - I just... I don't... No.

4:58 - Lights out! Hooray!

5:05 - And her bra is shooting sparks while she lies strung out and smoking on a cemetery plot next to a skeleton. This is actually an improved look for her.

In conclusion, I would like to ask a question: Amy, why do you evidently hate me?

Monday, April 26, 2010


Congratulations to Ryan Howard and his agent on Howard's new 5-year, $125 million extension. Lesser congratulations to the Philadelphia Phillies, who now have an entry for the annual 'Worst Contract in Baseball' competition. Because any time you can lock up the mid- to late-30s of an overrated player already in a four-year decline, you make that happen.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Hold Steady

30 some-odd years ago, Neil Young posed the question of whether it is better to burn out than to fade away. Since then, he has spent the majority of his time fading away. So that's nice. Also of relevance: The band whose name conveniently doubles as the title of this post. Because otherwise this would be even more of a load of gibberish than it is currently devolving into. So wait, let's try this: The Hold Steady are an awesome band who recently played in Burlington, Vermont. I was there. It was fun.

That was easy. But not quite what I was hoping for. Or very long. Abortive attempt number 3 to follow.

Ten years ago, Lifter Puller broke up. They were a band who, like so many others, I had not heard about by the time of their demise (Chief amongst these: The Beatles. I blame my parents. And the inevitably linear movement of time). Like many others, they played fairly straightforward post-punk. However, unlike many others, they were fronted by Craig Finn. You see, this is important. Because, rather than singing songs, Craig Finn gets extremely wired and simply yells out the lyrics. The more lines and syllables the better. Typically these words will be tales featuring those traditional topics of rock and roll, sex and drugs. And he approaches the songs as stories, with characters who weave throughout albums, and, to some extent, the band's entire catalog. There is a phrase for this, and it is nerd chic. I am so there. So in 2000, unbeknownst to me, Lifter Puller broke up. This led to Finn and their guitarist, Tad Kubler, forming a new band, The Hold Steady, who were pretty much the same thing, but with a keyboard player. Which will work just fine.

The set kicked off with 'The Cattle and the Creeping Things' off their second album, a jittery rant skirting the edges of religion over a hyper-caffeinated staccato beat. And while the music is quite excellent, the real draw for The Hold Steady live is Finn. He came out with a guitar around his neck, a tool of the trade which would quickly be revealed as a prop. For the entirety of the first song the guitar simply hung around his neck as he used one hand to hold the microphone and stand at various odd angles as he spit the lyrics out into it, the other hand being thoroughly preoccupied with wildly gesturing for the duration of the lyrics. In between lines, he would often continue yelling things at the audience off-mic. If this doesn't sound brilliant to you, we probably can't be friends anymore. And you probably drink less coffee than I do. Well, you probably do that anyway.

They are now four albums into their career, and are gradually tweaking their sound with each album. Because, you see, if you don't do that, you eventually turn into Clinic. Or Boston, if you'd like me to make fewer indie references. Just admit that I'm hipper than you (c. 2003). It's easy to tell anyway, primarily because I have a bad haircut. Anyway, the majority of these tweaks have involved more melody, more singing, and less TOTAL AWESOMENESS AND DOMINATION VIA THE AUDIO FORMAT. As you may have been able to ascertain, I feel this direction is not the best use of the band's considerable talents. I was subtle about it. Their second album, Separation Sunday, was a peak from which the band has been gradually receding ever since. This is not a major fault or anything. Most bands never sniff anything close to the heights that album scaled. Think 'Black Dog', but for 50 minutes. And with better lyrics. And singing. And without that terrible hitch in the guitar riff that makes the entire song terrible. Got it?

That was the format Finn followed for the majority if the set, which hit a number of high points (Hello 'Chips Ahoy'), even if it stayed away from the older material more than I would have liked. And it was a blast. That said, I have grave concerns about the upcoming album. They played six songs off it, and three of them, technically, sucked. One was especially terrible, featuring chugging power chords under traditionally sung verses and chori. And of the three good songs, one featured a mysterious intro that sounded lifted off The Joshua Tree for two minutes or so grafted awkwardly onto a song that only took off once said intro ended. They called the singer for the opening band out to provide additional vocals for one song, stating that he did a lot of singing on the new record. And, most damningly of all, during the breakdowns in several songs, spots which old live recordings will attest used to feature Finn telling stories to the audience, the band jammed. That is a dirty word in these parts.

But, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I come not to bury Caesar, but to praise him. After all, burning out leaves a legacy untarnished by decline. However, reputations are built on achievement, something gained by being on top of one's powers, a state hard to maintain for an extended period of time. And a decline phase, while sad to behold, is where bands can generally make money, continuing to ply their trade to an audience growing behind recognition of past achievements. For it is the rare band to become dramatically better multiple albums into a career. Burning out is for purists, but fading away is only too human, especially if one has the desire to eat. And, except in the case of the Rolling Stones, the fade is generally not drawn out over a ridiculously excessive length of years, and allows us to do something we do not always manage: Rather than criticizing the fall of the mighty, let us look at where the ascent peaked, and be impressed with a high water mark most never reach. As a wise man once said, let us remember the good times. Kenny would have wanted it that way.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Attention Muzak Playlist Editors

It is now the year 2010. There are no more excuses for playing 'No More I Love Yous' by Annie Lennox.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

MLB Season Preview

So, here we go. I rather liked the approach Cousin Ben took to his version of this same topic, so I'm going to ape it for a bit. Beginning with the big boy league, let's do this.

AL East:

1. Boston
2. Tampa
3. The Enemy
4. Baltimore
5. Toronto

So, I may be a bit biased here. If I was being a bit more objective, I'd note that the top 3 teams are the three best organizations in all of baseball, and any one of them could easily win the division. Also, it sucks to be either Toronto or Baltimore, although with the amounts of young talent Baltimore has, it probably sucks more to be Toronto. I also loved Baltimore's signing of Garrett Atkins, as an everyday warning to Matt Wieters of what he could become if he doesn't work hard.

AL Central:

1. Minnesota
2. Uggggghhhhhhhhhh. Bad, bad division. Chicago (White Sox), I guess. Confidently.
3. Cleveland
4. Detroit
5. Kansas 'Trust the Process' City

So, yeah. Even with Joe Nathan out, I like the Twins to win a weak division. I loved their offseason moves (Hardy, Pavano and Orlando Hudson headlining), and think they'll take the division even with Joe Mauer's inevitable regression and the sudden realization that Justin Morneau isn't all that great. Beyond that, it's a bit of a crapshoot. I at least trust Chicago's pitching staff, so they get the two spot. Cleveland has a lot of really interesting young hitting (Including absolute beast of a catcher prospect Carlos Santana, stolen from the Dodgers in exchange for Casey Blake) to go along with pitching slightly better than you'll find in an average game of wiffle ball. Detroit has Miguel Cabrera and did I mention Miguel Cabrera? Their actual plan for this season involves having Dontrelle Willis in their rotation. By design. The same Dontrelle Willis who, one month ago, described himself thusly: "To me, the issue is I'm terrible". Good luck with that. And also, there are the Royals.

AL West

1. Texas
2. Los Angeles of Anaheim of California of The United States of Planet Earth of The Milky Way of Whatever is Bigger Than That
3. Seattle
4. Oakland

No knock on Oakland, who could easily finish second in the AL Central. This is a good division top to bottom, with the Rangers riding an amazing wave of young talent right to its forefront (Interesting number of the preseason: 5. That is the number of players on the Rangers 40-man roster over the age of 30. That is amazing). I could see each of these teams finishing over .500. It won't happen in the end, but man, that would be cool. Anyway, after adding more pitching this offseason, I don't like Seattle all that much. I actually think they take a step back. They outperformed their pythagorean record last year, and Cliff Lee is already hurting. Still the best defense in baseball, but it's a small step back first for an organization which is undoubtedly on the rise. As for LAoAoCoTUSoPEoTMWoWiBTT, whatever. They are not at all exciting, and finally lose their death grip on the division this year to a Rangers team poised to start an impressive playoff run of their own.

On to AAAA!

AAAA East:

1. Philly
2. Atlanta
3. Florida
4. Washington
5. NY Mets

Yeah, that's the last-place team. I debated. Do I think it's a lock? No. But man, that's a bad, old team with no depth. At all. If anything goes wrong, it's going to go really wrong. So congrats to Omar Minaya for building the All-Downside Team. Why haven't they fired that guy yet? Anyway, on to more competent organizations. The Braves and Phillies are almost a coin flip at the top of the standings, but I'll take the Phillies riding a resurgent year from Cole Hamels, who was terribly unlucky last year. And I hear there's some 'Holiday' guy. Don't know what that's supposed to mean. The Braves are once again retooling around an impressive crop of talented youngsters, and should take the division from the aging Phillies in another year. In other news, the Marlins are now paying three players a livable wage, and the Nationals suck.

AAAA Central:

1. St. Louis
2. Cincinnati
3. Milwaukee
4. Chicago (Cubs)
5. Pittsburgh
6. Houston

I'm scared that Chris Carpenter's arm could fall off at any time, but I'll bet that he makes it through half the season first, which will give the Cardinals enough of a lead to coast to the playoffs in another bad division. I like Ben's pick of the Reds, but I think he's a year early on them. Next year, providing Dusty doesn't chop off Aroldis Chapman's arm with an axe, watch out for them. They have a lot of young talent, led by certifiable beast Jay Bruce (Joey Who? He's alright, I guess). Milwaukee imported Randy Wolf to try to stop the bleeding in the rotation, which would have been better last year if their opponents had been allowed to use a tee. Chicago has a bunch of terrible, expensive, aging players, and have willingly decided to let Carlos Silva start. Pittsburgh is still bad, but moving in the right direction. As for Houston, I will continue to beat the 'Ed Wade is terrible' drum until he is fired. Should be soon, considering how bad this roster is.


1. Colorado
2. Los Angeles
3. Arizona
4. San Francisco
5. San Diego

The last division. The Rockies have already lost Jeff Francis to the DL, which hurts (He was penciled in as their #2 starter). But I still think they can pull this out, led by a beast of a young offense. Though the sooner they get rid of Brad Hawpe, the better. Seth Smith, currently their 4th outfielder, is a better hitter than Hawpe, and also not the worst defensive right-fielder in baseball. So he's got that going for him. Which is nice. In LA, I think Manny continues his gradual decline, and phenom Clayton Kershaw takes a step back. This leaves a rotation of Chad Billingsley and pray for rain, which probably will not work well. Though I'm rooting for knuckleballer Charlie Haeger, who made the rotation as the fifth starter. The world can never have too many knuckleball pitchers. Arizona has some impressive talent, but not enough to make a run at the divisional title with Brandon Webb still not throwing. As for San Francisco, well, they're built entirely on their pitching. However, for some reason apparent only to their management, they have decided to surround the pitchers with players who can't hit or field. I'll probably go into this in more detail later. Cliff's notes version: Bad idea. And there is San Diego, which I'm told means "A Whale's Vagina".

I like Tampa and Atlanta to win the Wild Cards, with the World Series being Boston v. Colorado. And the Sox take it. Yes, I am biased. Now, on to more interesting things.

AL MVP - Evan Longoria. It's only a matter of time. We are all witnesses.
AL Cy Young - John Lester. With that defense behind him, he's going to be awesome.
AL RoY - Will be arbitrarily voted on. And not a pitcher.

AAAA MVP - Pujols. Every year, Pujols.
AAAA Cy Young - Ricky Nolasco. My fantasy team believes.
AAAA RoY - Jason Heyward. And he won't even be that good this year. Down the line, watch out.

And now for some longer thoughts:

Favorite stat of the offseason: Courtesy of Joe Posnanski. Last year, out of all the players in the majors who qualified for the batting title, only nine posted an OPS+ of 80 or less (An OPS of roughly 90% of the league average. Guys below this mark don't tend to stick around that long). Going into this season, the Royals are starting 5 players who achieved that dubious distinction.

Why the Red Sox won't get shut out every game: Dan Shaughnessy is a moron. See, last year, Boston's offense was still third-best in the AL, despite getting less than nothing from shortstop and catcher (Until the victor Martinez trade). Yes, Mike Cameron is an offensive downgrade from Jason Bay, but he is a huge defensive upgrade. The Sox are starting guys who have a legit chance at a Gold Glove at all four infield spots, and have good defenders at each outfield spot as well. All this without sacrificing much (If any) offense, and keeping flexibility down the road with short-term contracts. Awesome job by the front office. The defense will help ground-ball heavy pitchers more than the rest, so I look for big performances by Buchholz and Lester, and stick to my guns that the former will be better then John Lackey this year.

The odd Minnesota defense: the Twins pay close attention to infield defense, so much that they routinely start Nick Punto, who does not, technically, know which end of the bat to hold. This results in wonderful infield D, as well as many, many outs. Their outfield, on the other hand, can (kind of) hit (Delmon Young excepted). However, they play defense slightly worse than if the outfield was manned by me. Drunk. In a sack race. To put it mildly, I don't understand. Fortunately for them, their best pitchers are fly-ball oriented. Look, just because I picked them to win a crappy division doesn't mean I agree with everything they do.

What in the world is San Francisco doing?: They have the best pitcher in the game. They have a very good #2 pitcher. They have Barry Zito, who quietly has become respectable again, if not the ace he used to (appear) to be (He was rather lucky). They have Jonathan Sanchez, who may need corrective lenses of some kind, but is absolutely unhittable. And then, here is their positional lineup, along with whether or not the player can hit and field their position:

C: B. Molina (No/No)
1B: Aubrey Huff (No/Not really)
2B: Freddy Sanchez (-Ish/-Ish)
SS: Edgar Renteria (No/No)
3B: Pablo Sandoval (Yes/No)
LF: Mark Derosa (-Ish. He hits well for a second baseman/-Ish)
CF: Aaron Rowand (-Ish/No)
RF: Nate Schierholtz (Who? Is this a real player?)

Attention, Brian Sabean: You're wasting prime years of Tim Lincecum's career. Please cease and desist.

Worst contract of the offseason: Brandon Lyon, 3 years, $15 million, to Houston. A team way, way out of contention is handing out major guaranteed money to a guy who is league-average at the least important position on the roster. Wow.

Funniest thing of the offseason: The fact that, back in the day, Red Sox scribes used to bemoan the team's lack of pitching and defense in favor of all sluggers. Now that the team has focused on pitching and defense, we get articles about how the team won't score enough runs. I hope the Boston media dies in a fire.

And one more Royals note: Last year, Dayton Moore chided fans for not trusting 'The Process'. This offseason, we learned that 'The Process' is apparently to acquire every player they could find who was deemed not good enough to play for the White Sox. That ought to work well.

So, that's it. Let the season begin! If you have any questions on anything here, or anything I didn't cover, let me know. I'll throw up a comment or post in reply, depending on how long an answer it necessitates.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Site News: Where'd the Ads Go?

As some of you have astutely noticed, the random ads on the side of my blog were recently replaced by vast, restful expanses of white space. As a firm believer in clutter (It's genetic. Thanks, Mom), I have decided to remove these, in favor of whatever will show up in their place (Probably nothing. I haven't checked yet). Now, why did this occur? Well, a while back I received an email from the ad people, which I possibly am not supposed to post here. I don't know. If anyone wants to take the time to back up the archives in case Google sends the Matrix or something after me, then thanks. So, without further ado, here it is:


While going through our records recently, we found that your AdSense
account has posed a significant risk to our AdWords advertisers. Since
keeping your account in our publisher network may financially damage our
advertisers in the future, we've decided to disable your account.

Please understand that we consider this a necessary step to protect the
interests of both our advertisers and our other AdSense publishers. We
realize the inconvenience this may cause you, and we thank you in advance
for your understanding and cooperation.

If you have any questions about your account or the actions we've taken,
please do not reply to this email. You can find more information by


The Google AdSense Team

That's right, ladies. I'm dangerous.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Today's Most Terrifying Moment

I worked today, which means that many, many things could compete for the prize that is this post's title ("That person reproduced?!?" *shudders*). However, one moment stands above the rest. During the lunch rush, we helped an elderly gentleman who didn't always seem aware of where he was sort out what he wanted and made him a quite tasty sandwich (You see, that is what we do). He was then gone for about an hour, before turning back up to stand on the other side of the window separating our pastrami slicer from the parade of people who would otherwise be unable to restrain themselves from touching the shiny object. It took a while to get his attention, but once we did, we determined that it was the best sandwich he had had in a long time, and that he could not find his car. Now, our parking lot is not the sort of thing you see outside sporting stadiums. It is more Vermont-sized, by which I mean it does not take long to traverse on foot. So my manager, using the gentleman's description of his car, went out and found it, then came back in to show the man where the car was located. Once they reached it, he realized that there was no second person to drive. Considering how aware this gentleman was of where he was at all times, this hardly seemed like the ideal situation. As my department is located near the front doors of the store, I was actually slightly concerned for my own personal well-being. Upon returning from his trip and reporting both that the customer was his own chauffeur and had not been receptive to mentioned alternate travel plans, the boss went off for a while. Not sure where exactly, but I think it involved a quick consultation with other members of management to determine whether something should be done involving calling the PD with a license plate number. And I do not know what decision was reached, but I sincerely hope that, as of 3 hours after this occurred, both the gentleman in question and anyone unlucky enough to be in his path are still alive. Because these sandwiches aren't going to eat themselves.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Great Moments In Marketing

Although I work at a fine French dining establishment, I do not feel the need to offer them extreme loyalty w/r/t grocery purchasing. Which is how I recently came to find within my fridge a quality jar of salsa from the competing company Hannafords, the salsa being the same brand. This salsa is, I would estimate, 30% crushed tomatoes, 70% water (It's like the earth in salsa form!). Awesome. The only reason I forced it upon my poor, unsuspecting palate is that quality salsa is evidently made from a combination of gold bullion and unicorn tears. Not being overly awash in money, store brands and sorrow it is. However, this bottle of salsa, as opposed to most of the other unsatisfactory models I have tasted recently, proved to be worth its weight in, well, salsa. How, you may well ask. Well, I'll tell you this: it certainly wasn't the salsa.

You see, per convention, this bottle features a label. Otherwise it would be naked. This label features a rather attractive picture of a tomato, reclining gracefully with an onion, garlic, and both red AND green hot peppers (Presumed marketing statement: "Think of the colors!"). Standard stuff so far, as those are fairly typical ingredients for salsa, even if this particular version features trace elements at best of all but the tomato. But then I noticed something. Written right there in the bottom-right corner of the picture, under all the vegetables (Or vegetables and fruit, if you want to be a real prick about classifying everything properly, scientist) are the words 'Serving suggestion'. Yes. I swear it says that. Nowhere on the label is there any picture of salsa. I can only assume that the marketing team either got really drunk the night before the picture was due and missed the deadline, or they had some sort of Road-To-Damascus-esque revelatory moment (Or possibly are in a crappy Jim Carrey movie) in which they saw the light, because they're right. I really should've just bought the component parts, and not the salsa.

Monday, March 22, 2010

A Further Note On Caribbean Radio

As most of you are probably aware, we as a world are currently in the midst of an economic downturn, excepting China, to which I believe we as a country now owe our firstborn children, who are ticketed to replace China's second-born children who, to my understanding, have been thrown into rivers. This has led to individuals and businesses cutting back on their expenditure, impacting revenue streams, and leading to further cutbacks. It's a vicious cycle, and almost no aspect of life has been untouched. This would, of course, include advertising budgets, vital dollars that the mass media depends on. And Caribbean radio stations are showing the strain. But they have risen to the occasion by adopting an innovative strategy regarding the gaps in incoming ad flow, one that would never have occurred to me. I would have gone with playing more music than before, replacing the ads that no longer were coming in, or possibly temporarily dropping advertising prices until the demand for them increased. Or maybe have all the DJs shot to decrease costs. Probably that last one. However, none of these fine ideas seem to have been used. Rather, I heard, on February 24th, an advertisement (Distinguishable from the DJs yelling in the midst of songs by the fact that, for the ad, a man yelled while music was being played) for the largest Super Bowl party in the Caribbean. Yes, that Super Bowl. The one that happened on February 7th. This would never have occurred to me, and I would like to congratulate the Caribbean radio stations for thinking so far outside the box on this issue. Now please stop yelling at me.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Radio Stations: UR Doing It Wrong

So, originally this was going to begin with a sentence stating that I recently returned from a vacation to the location pictured below. At this late date, however, that no longer seems appropriate. So rather, let's try it like this: Earlier this year, I was fortunate enough to go on vacation to the US Virgin Islands. Even I can't manage to complain about that. The islands are beyond gorgeous, and feature large bottles of rum priced to sell. I win/won. While there, I spent the majority of my time relaxing as much as possible without actually exposing myself to the sun, for the dual fears that I would immediately break out in first-degree burns and that passing planes would crash on my head after the pilots were blinded by the reflecting light. Thanks to generous aid from sunblock whose SPF was measured in exponents, I succeeded admirably on both counts (The planes may have crashed elsewhere. Don't know, don't care). However, there was one day in which I broke from this absolutely backbreakingly rigorous schedule and stayed sober long enough to drive the rental jeep on a sightseeing tour of the island. Random things will be written about it after I start a new paragraph for no apparent reason.

That was fun. Anyway, let me tell you a little bit about the road system on the island of St. John. Firstly, most of the island is uninhabited national park, as the island was gifted to the United States government by the Rockefeller family, who evidently are richer than God, and had quite the number of anti-trust legal matters they were trying to 'settle'. Presumably this worked. Or all the surviving family members are in prison. Whatever. Anyway, the point I was trying to make before I went of my meds was (I think) that most of the island's roads go through the wilderness. And not just any wilderness. Steep, steep wilderness. I would estimate that you could base a very good roller coaster on the St. John road system. I think there may even have been a loop at one point. But that is not the fun part. Because, you see, the engineers who designed the highways, in their infinite wisdom, decided that the best time to make the roads do sudden, erratic 270 degree turns is when you are furiously attempting to convince your rental jeep that it wants nothing more than to go up the 80 degree incline it has been presented with, a thing it is telling you very clearly it has no intention of doing. Also, did I mention that you drive on the left-hand side of the road? This is not because the steering wheels on the cars are reversed, like in that weird Europe place. Rather, this is so the driver can see exactly how close he is to the unpaved, unpacked, sharply dropping off shoulder. This is very important when, say, there is another car on the road, because the roads were apparently designed for Matchbox™ cars. Somehow I survived (Though there was one close call involving a pack of island donkeys and a water tanker, driven by a maniac who I can only assume is currently deceased), which is how I can report to you that the Virgin Islands are doing the radio station thing all wrong. You're welcome.

You see, where I come from, radio DJs are supposed to play the songs and get out of the way, with the exception of 'Morning show' hosts, who should be rounded up and shot. In the Virgin Islands, this is not the preferred method of DJing. I can definitively say this, because I must have listened to every radio station in the region, as they were constantly fading out due to sudden turns around entire mountains. And, with the exception to the modern RAWK station (Station name: The Buzz. Of course), all the DJs followed a very specific formula, which can be approximated as follows:

1. Begin song.
2. Allow song to play for upwards of 30 seconds, but no more than 45 seconds.
3. Temporarily mute song (You cannot pause it. The song must continue playing, unbroadcast).
4. Yell something. It does not matter what you yell, provided it is unintelligible.
5. Unmute song for up to five seconds. Ideally less.
6. Mute song again.
7. Yell something else. Slur it like Shane MacGowan with a Caribbean accent.
8. Repeat forever, or until the listener changes stations, whichever comes first.

Seriously. Every radio station followed this format, which is terrible. It may have been the sudden elevation changes that did it, but I believe at one point I began bleeding from my ears. I blame the radio. However, I bravely continued listening, because the alternative was making conversation, and when you're on vacation on a tropical island, even that mild endeavor seems like too much work. Sadly, however, this method of playing songs over the airwaves was everywhere, preventing me from fully appreciating the fine music my ears were assaulted with, which included (I swear this is true. Sadly, I cannot find the name of the song anywhere) a Caribbean techno version of the hokey-pokey. Yes, that one. I almost drove off the road in sheer hilarity and befuddlement.

At the end of the day of adventure, I found I had suffered many wounds from my epic journey across an absolutely gorgeous piece of land. For one thing, there was the blood seeping from my ears. I should probably get that checked out. At one point when there was an especially vicious assault on what remained of my eardrums, I jammed my finger stabbing at the radio. And that was it, actually. Two wounds. Fortunately, there was cheap rum waiting for me when I returned to the resort. Sometimes life is hard.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Attention Impressionable Youngsters: Please Stop Listening To Terrible Music. Also, Give Me Money.

It has recently been brought to my attention by a credible source who shall here be identified only as 'My brother' that I have a larger audience than I previously suspected amongst the future leaders of America. Upon finding this groundbreaking information out, I immediately said 'Huh'. Then I took a nap. But after I woke up, I realized what I had to do. I then promptly forgot, because I am getting old. So, rather than provide you, my youthful-skewing readership demographic, with whatever groundbreaking, completely brilliant thing I was going to write, I instead have a request for you: Please stop listening to terrible music. Also, give me money. I guess it's two requests.

You see, young people, you wield incredible power that you did not know about until I decided to tell you about it in a couple sentences. In fact, you still don't know it unless you decided this whole thing was getting too long, and skipped ahead. You should probably be on Ritalin®. But that is not my point, at least not until I buy stock in the Ritalin Corporation. Instead, my point is that you control the mass media. I know. Doesn't it make you want to flex your hands in pleasure, feeling your newly-stated power coursing through them. Go ahead and do it. Alright, stop flexing them now. After two times you start to look ridiculous. Anyway, there is a very scientific reason for this, and that is that you control the majority of the country's disposable income, barring that possessed by trophy wives, which is wisely spent on silicon products. This spending on the part of the trophy wives leaves you as the controllers of the almighty dollar (Soon to be Yen) in the entertainment industry. Where you get this money to spend is unknown. Perhaps you steal it from your parents' wallets while they are napping. I won't them tell if you give me some of it. But scientific studies have shown that you are the ones with the purchasing power, and what you want is to be entertained. Again, the Ritalin thing.

Now, I am not going to sit here with rose-colored contacts in and tell you that back in the day, everything to do with the music industry was wonderful (Partly because I am lying down as I type this). Indeed, as those of you who were subjected to the on-screen tragi-comedy that was the Super Bowl halftime show would know (At least the ones of you who have been released from the necessary sessions of post-traumatic therapy), I would be blatantly lying if I tried to peddle this to you. Rather, I would relate to you a story from my days when I was a stupid youth, much like you are now. Here we go: When I was a stupid youth, I listened to absolutely TERRIBLE music, much of which (Such as Creed. Especially Creed) is extremely embarrassing and/or nauseating in hindsight. Now that I am older and know everything there is to know, I have much better taste, consisting primarily of bands that no one has ever heard of whose records are impossible to find in stores, and realize the folly of my younger, stupid ways. So please, young people, don't do it for me, do it for your future selves (Note: If you have plans to die within the next couple years, before you start to sprout nose hairs, you may ignore this advice safely): Stop listening to terrible music.

But you are shouting at your computer screen right now, "But HOLLA(R)! How am I supposed to know what music is good and what is horrible?!? I am merely a young person, and therefore stupid!" I know, and that is why you are lucky I am here to help you. Firstly, stop that shouting at the computer. I can't hear you, unless you have broken into my apartment and are reading this on my laptop. If you are doing this, please leave me some money. The first step to telling what music is terrible is checking the band name. If the band name is 'The Black Eyed Peas', the music will be terrible. This also holds true for the name 'Nickelback'. Or 'Panic! At the Disco'. Just to be safe, you should probably ask me before you listen to any music. Ask away. I will handle any and all questions as I receive them.

If you all stop listening to terrible music in unison, young people, then in a few years we may finally see some results from your laudable choice. Why will it take what is a substantial portion of your life thus far to see results? This is because the music industry is run by people who, rather than asking you directly which bands you would like to spend your parents' stolen disposable income on, instead prefer to keep their heads lodged firmly in a place where it is hard for changing cultural taste, or sunshine for that matter, to reach them. But ideally, within several years they will have to remove their heads due to a lack of oxygen, and will notice the masses of young people out there who, instead of choosing to spend their money on terrible music, have decided to give it to me (Hint hint). The resulting shock will probably cause their feeble hearts to give out, and they will be replaced by people who will know how to respond to changing cultural trends. Those who do not surface for oxygen will die of suffocation, which will help to correct this problem in much the same fashion already outlined. Long story short, it's probably worth dropping the cash to reserve a cemetery plot now before they become overcrowded with music executives and you wind up having to share a casket with the creepy guy who lived across the street.

So what have we learned today, young people? Quite a bit, I think. Maybe. But you do not know this, because you skipped directly to the end, rather than reading all the pearls of wisdom I attempted to bestow upon you. So I will now make you an offer: Rather than forcing you to reread everything you have scrolled past, I will send you a recording of me singing the whole thing for the low, low price of $15.99! This offer is not available in stores, and is only good for a limited time. So go on and steal some money from your father's wallet. He keeps it in the left pocket of his jacket. Make sure to get enough for the stamp, too. You'll thank me when you're older and still have your self-respect intact, by which point I will hopefully have made enough money to move to an undisclosed location so that you can't find me to demand a refund.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Sage Advice

So, once again, I found myself at my place of employment. This time in my official capacity as Company Ambassador of Goodwill and Smoked Fish, I was approached by a woman lacking the normal amount of teeth, who seemed to be operating her shopping cart in a rather military fashion (Here I am thinking of "Left! Right!", not banana republics). She hailed me, so I went over to her and her cart, which featured a large number of bottled sodas carefully arranged in a very random fashion, which flew about and smashed together any time she randomly jerked her cart in a different direction, something that happened approximately two times per second. She then asked me "Can I get a bag to put these in so they won't roll around so much? I'll pay for them up front." Now, would I ever question the integrity of strangers? Yes. Yes I would. So, rather than proffer the requested plastic, I arranged them in a more orderly (Read: A) fashion, which would prevent them from rattling more loudly than the velociraptor pen in Jurassic Park every time she changed course. She admired my handiwork, and then said to me "Thanks, man. Don't smoke weed this early in the morning. It's, um, medical. Marijuana. Don't smoke it."

Duly noted.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Fight! Fight! Fight!

So yesterday I was at the fine French dining establishment at which I work (Le Chopparé du Prix), and we were somewhat busy. As a result of this, I required a certain amount of refortification, here defined as caffeine. To achieve this end, I went over to our coffee shop on my break, only to find that they were out of French roast! Rather than curse my place on this mortal coil, I chose to loiter conspicuously in the area while a new urn was brewed. Whilst I whiled away the time, an elderly gentleman came up to the counter and asked for a senior coffee (Presumably he wanted fresh coffee at a reduced price for some sort of senior discount, as I do not believe coffee ages in the same fashion as fine wine), and was informed that Le Chopparé du Prix does not have this sort of price reduction at the coffee shop. Having been thwarted thusly, the gentleman determined that the only recourse left to him was to turn to me and announce "Why don't you go to war and learn what freedom's all about? You don't have the guts!" While this did nothing to solve either his or my caffeine-related dilemmas, it certainly made me wonder what in the world was going on, and whether that had actually just happened. He kindly ended my befuddlement by repeating his statement verbatim. Seeing as how the customer is always right, I responded with a straightforward "You're right. I don't." I am nothing if not a good company man.

Now, this leaves me with a few questions. Firstly, does he go around saying this to people everywhere on a daily basis? Or was this triggered by some sort of disappointment over not getting a prix reduction on his coffee? If so, how does he handle any sort of major disappointment? Pistols at dawn, perhaps. But more importantly, this gentleman bore most of the major signs of getting up there in years, from seemingly being slightly hard of hearing to walking slowly to facial wrinkling, which means he's very fortunate that I am an ambassador of goodwill while on the clock. Because I think I could have taken him.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Things That Are Funnier Than Jay Leno

Sadly, this list shall be, by necessity, far from comprehensive. Feel free to add any glaring omissions in the comments. With that in mind, here we go:

Bill Murray
Brian Doyle-Murray
Pearls Before Swine
The Aqua Teen Hunger Force Christmas album
Seeing somebody get kicked in the balls
Getting kicked in the balls
A song I heard a stoned hippy singing at a bake sale about apple muffins
The Masturbating Bear
The fact that NBC is projected to lose $200,000,000 on the Olympics
The fact that NBC will not show any of the Olympic events live
And will broadcast them 3 hours later on the west coast than on the east coast
Even though the Olympics are in Vancouver
This dream I had once about a talking chalupa
The Budweiser frogs
Jury duty (The movie)
Jury duty (Being selected for it)
Jimmy Kimmel pretending to be Jay Leno
Intestinal parasites
The ending to Romeo and Juliet
Paris Hilton's singing career
A death in the family
One of Leno's cars breaking down
The local news
The phoneless cord
Evan Almighty
This list
The FJM archives
Christopher Walken's spoken word version of 'Poker Face'
Tim McCarver
Hitting your thumb with a hammer
The Nixon-Kennedy debates
On second thought, not Tim McCarver
Analogies involving the Battle of Trafalgar
Paying the electric bill
Flying monkeys
Massive blunt-force head trauma
The gout
Ranger Rick, the magazine
Mark Trail
Sitting on a tack
Norm MacDonald's post-SNL career
Dan Quayle jokes in 2010
Seriously, can you believe that guy was Vice President?
He was so dumb!
Fitviavi mold
Pet rock
Crunchy frog
Drunken Joe Namath

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Current Events

Congrats, cousin Chris. According to the Center for Statistics I Just Made Up, 55% of all marriages end in annulment, so if you make it to next week, you're ahead of the game.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Up In The Air, And The Increasing Trend Of Filmmakers Lying

I saw Up In the Air yesterday, now that it's been out for something like six months and has garnered a bunch of nominations for some awards show that will probably be both boring and televised. Ever since I saw a preview for it, the movie was on my radar as One To Watch, Ideally In A Theater. Yesterday I did this. That's just how on the ball I am. Anyway, it was very good, and I recommend it to everyone who is not Isaac (As a wise man once said, this movie has naughty language!). George Clooney stars as A Charming Character, and performs his role very well (Who would've thought Clooney could be charming?!?). The performances are all quite good, and the script is great. So, yeah. I'm not a movie critic (As you can probably tell, I'm not really trying), and this is not why I've called you here today. Why have I called you here? Well, I'll tell you, in new paragraph form.

No, why I am writing today is the fact that, w/r/t Up In the Air, I was deceived. You see, Up In the Air has a very intriguing preview, which is only made better by the fact that it is set to 'The Passenger' by Iggy Pop, which is awesome. Not only is it set to this song, Iggy actually (From what I've heard) re-recorded a version of the song specifically for this film. And yet, the song does not appear in the movie. As George Steinbrenner would say, #$!&* the heck?!? Instead, we are treated to a variety of music than can be described nicely as 'twee', about what you'd expect from a production crew that was in some way involved in Juno (I'm too lazy to look up what the exact connection is). Still, I can even see not putting the song in the bulk of the film, as it is a fairly driving piece, which might overwhelm whatever else is happening on-screen at the time (Not that it does this in the previews, but let's be charitable here). But, then, isn't that what the ending credits are for? Not in this case, as halfway through the credits the song playing ends, giving us a perfect moment to bring on the Iggy. Instead, we are treated to some crappy acoustic number evidently recorded by Fisher Price™ tape recorder, closing things out on a bit of an anticlimax.

Most troublingly, this is not the first time this has happened to me in the last year. I'd estimate I go to see somewhere between one and two movies in the theater annually, and the last two have now played this exact same deceitful sleight of hand on me. The other film in question is Where the Wild Things Are, a movie whose trailer was set to a rerecording of The Arcade Fire's stunning Wake Up, a song which perfectly fit the mood and got me so amped up that you'd think it was a motivational speech by Rex Ryan. And then, again, not present in the movie. Lame. So what gives, filmmakers? Yes, your movies are good (At least the ones I bother to see. I suspect Tooth Fairy, starring Dwayne Johnson (a.k.a. The Rock) will not be on the level of Citizen Kane). But why the lying? Why must you pull the old Three-Card Monte in your previews? Because I give you my word that, if I find a certain combination of music and imagery exhilarating on the small screen, I will not suddenly be put to sleep when I see it on a screen the size of my apartment. In fact, it might even be better. At the least, it will be bigger and louder, which I thought was what Hollywood did these days.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Hall of Fame Voting: Bring on the Stupid

As the two of you who care about baseball already know, the Hall of Fame results were announced this week. Congratulations to Andre Dawson, the sole inductee. I wouldn't have voted for him, but his inclusion is hardly some kind of horrible miscarriage of baseball-specific justice. Now, Hall of Fame voting, beyond meaning imminent elections, also signals another venerable tradition: The sportswriter's column detailing his/her (Usually his) reasoning for the players voted for. Many voter take this process very seriously, and submit ballots which, while they may be disagreed with, are well-considered and rationally explained. Then there are the morons who probably submitted ballots marked with drool stains. These are more fun to mock. So here come the dumbest HoF articles I have been able to find so far this year (We may have a special post on this within the next week, as Bill Plaschke has not yet written a HoF column, and I'm sure when he does that it will be riddled with idiocy). Let us begin.

First up, blowhard Jay Mariotti, who submitted a blank ballot, and then justified his voting thusly on the excruciatingly terrible TV show Around the Horn:
I didn’t vote for anybody in the baseball hall of fame this year. Ya know why? To me…the first ballot is sacred. I think Roberto Alomar is an eventual Hall of Famer, not the first time. [snip] As far as Blyleven and Dawson…if they haven’t gotten in for years and years I cannot vote them in now. Ripken, Rickey Henderson and Gwynn. They are true first ballot Hall of Famers, but I didn’t vote for anybody, throw me out of the Baseball Writers. I don’t care.

Now, let it be noted that, in addition to this line of thinking being moronic, the BBWAA rules makes no distinction between first-ballot years and the other 14 years players are on the ballot. But more importantly, he has voted for Blyleven and Dawson in the past. Apparently their numbers in 2009 were bad enough to drop them off his ballot. Or is it a moral stand? Well, last year Mariotti voted for Jim Rice in his 15th year on that ballot. So maybe it's just that Mariotti is an attention whore whose moral stands change based on how many cameras are pointed at him at any given moment. I think they should take him up on the offer he closes that quote with.

Next up, the 973-year-old Murray Chass, who states that he did not vote for Blyleven because
As good as Blyleven was in winning 287 games, he had some of his worst years when his team had good years. The best example of that dichotomy came in 1988 when the Twins finished second with a 91-71 record while Blyleven had a 10-17 record and a 5.43 e.r.a.

That's right, Murray voted against Blyleven because he had a bad year in his 19th big league season, one in which he reportedly pitched through shoulder soreness all year. The next season Blyleven finished fourth in the Cy Young voting. The fun bit? People like Murray Chass who clearly lie with statistics are the ones who like to throw out accusations that statistics lie. Anyway, this is dumb. Even Murray should be able to recognize that.

Moving on to Jon Heyman, whose HoF article has so many odd twists and turns in the methodology that it almost feels like he has some sort of multiple personality disorder:

I don't put quite the same emphasis as some on career statistics, especially in cases where I've had the chance to follow a player's entire career as it was unfolding, as was the case with this year's entire ballot. (That happens when you get old.)

I consider impact more than stats. I like dominance over durability. I prefer players who were great at some point to the ones who were merely very good for a very long time. [snip] Some will say that Blyleven's career was equal to Hall of Famer Don Sutton's but I say it is just short of Sutton's. They both had big totals in other categories but Sutton wound up with 37 more victories, going over the magic 300 mark by 24.

So if Bert had won 13 more games, you'd vote for him? Jon, you do realize you're allowed to proofread these things before you hand them in to remove contradictory statements, right? No? Alright then.

And now for everyone's favorite whipping boy, Dan Shaughnessy. Picking apart Dan is really like shooting fish in a barrel, so we'll be quick here. Dan's HoF voting process:

Each Hall voter applies his own standards, and mine often references the famous line that Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart applied to pornography. Stewart argued that he might not be able to define what was pornographic, "but I know it when I see it.''

For me, it's the same with Hall of Famers. Some guys just strike you as Cooperstown-worthy and others do not.

Dan, Stewart was roundly mocked for saying that because, well, it's stupid. If you really want to use that as your standard, go right ahead. But you might be a bigger blowhard than Mariotti.

And finally, let's wrap up with Bill Conlin, who dropped this bit of genius on us:

I voted for Tim Raines his first year of eligibility. But when he failed to get 25 percent of the vote, he was moved to the back burner. Sorry, that’s just the way it has to be. Maybe more eligible ballwriters should have measured the Rock’s career numbers in all phases against those of analog basestealer and first-ballot inductee Lou Brock. Try it, you’ll be amazed.

Good news for Raines, however. Yesterday, in one of the most bizarre elections in a bizarre process, he collected 30 percent and is now back on my radar.

So, Bill, you're criticizing the electorate for not voting for Raines, who you believe is worthy of being enshrined in Cooperstown, and then state that YOU DID NOT VOTE FOR HIM THIS YEAR BECAUSE A LARGE PERCENTAGE OF THE ELECTORATE DID NOT VOTE FOR HIM IN THE PAST. In what dark recess of your tiny little addled mind does this make even a [Mount Kilimanjaro] bit of sense? Holy [Hummingbird], this takes the cake. You have out-dumbed Shaughnessy. Good God.

Okay, I think that's out of my system. Finally, let's close with a bit of intelligence from Ken Rosenthal, who yesterday wrote a column suggesting that the BBWAA needs to get rid of some of the voters who do not do the HoF voting process justice. Ken, preach on. I would like to submit the above five voters as fine choices to be the first kicked out.

Note - My apologies to the many fine candidates who did not make the final cut to five, especially Marty Noble, who withheld his vote from Alomar because Roberto had two bad years with the Mets, whom Noble covers. Keep on trying, Marty, and you just might make the cut next year.