Thursday, March 31, 2011

Opening Day

Baseball is back! Hooray! So without further ado, let's jump right into some season projections (Teams listed in order of projected divisional finish).

AL East

Boston Red Sox - What, you expected someone else? With their offseason additions, the Sox are the best team in baseball, and they should be announcing that Adrian Gonzalez extension any day now.

Tampa Bay Rays - It was a rough offseason in Tampa, losing Crawford, Pena, and pretty much everything in the bullpen that wasn't tied down, including the players. But they did an excellent job with the Garza trade, and have a group of promising young players ready to step up, led by Jeremy Hellickson. Matt Joyce should make for an solid platoon outfielder in right, and James Shields can't really be Jose Lima in disguise, can he?

NY Yankees - Maybe they'd be in second if I was less biased, but tough for them (And the Rays are still really good). Heck of a lineup, but there's not much depth there, and the rotation is beyond paper-thin. Great bullpen, though. Let's hope they don't all get hurt.

Toronto Blue Jays - If you are a right-handed hitter and can make contact with a baseball, have you considered hitting twenty home runs for the Blue Jays? You really should. It pays well.

On a more serous note, the Jays would probably win the NL Central this year, have lots of young pitching, and cannot be praised enough for dumping Vernon Wells' contract on the Angels.

Baltimore Orioles - It's a solid lineup, but they still need some quality pitching. That's where Matusz, Tillman and Britton come in. Also, this year is the year of Wieters. Really.

AL East

Chicago White Sox - Want.

Minnesota Twins - I worry that at some point both Justin Morneau and the cloner the Twins keep using on Brad Radke are going to break.

Detroit Tigers - Verlander and Cabrera are amazing. How many other Tigers can you name?

Cleveland Indians - Carlos Santana will get a full season to show what he can do (Hint: A lot), Shin-Soo Choo will be traded to accelerate the rebuilding effort, and Grady Sizemore will spontaneously combust.

Kansas City Royals - The Royals combine the best farm system in baseball with a front office that struggles to do anything right on the major league level. Hence Melky Cabrera and Jeff Francouer, who are, technically, horrible at baseball.

AL West

Oakland Athletics - They're counting on a lot of young arms, but I think they've got the depth to withstand some injuries and still turn in their typically stellar run prevention, which should be enough to make up for the offense. Anytime Chris Carter is ready, Billy Beane will find a spot for him. Any day now.

Texas Rangers - Pretty much the inverse of the A's. That is one heck of a lineup, but they don't have a single starter without an enormous question mark. I'll say that this is the year for Derek Holland, though. Also, Michael Young seems to still think he's good. That's cute.

Los Angeles Blah Blah Whatever - They took on Vernon Wells' contract while simultaneously getting rid of that problem they had involving a catcher who could hit. This is a really bad lineup. Prediction: A correlation of -1 between the number of games Jeff Mathis starts and the number of games the Angels win (MATH JOKE).

Seattle Mariners - Which is more likely: The Mariners finishing .500 or Milton Bradley killing a teammate?

NL East

Atlanta Braves - Maybe it's because I root for the Red Sox, but I find myself picking teams with good depth this year. So, yeah, the Braves have it. Mike Minor is ready to start in the majors now, and they've got a bunch of power arms rapidly moving through the system behind him. Also, that Hayword guy is kind of good, I hear.

Philadelphia Phillies - The league's best pitching staff is paired with a lineup that, with Chase Utley out, features one above-average hitter for his position, and no, it's not Ryan Howard. This is the year where he hits that cliff he's been moving towards for the last four years.

Florida Marlins - Will turn a profit.

New York Mets - The rebuilding effort begins by the trade deadline, when Jose Reyes gets sold off. It's not going to be pretty. But they're still better than the...

Washington Nationals - I read multiple articles this offseason about how the Nationals are going to surprise people. They're starting Livan Hernandez on opening day. I don't care how much money they spent on Jayson Werth, they aren't really trying.

NL Central


Cincinnati Reds - They've got a very good offense, even though Dusty is completely destroying every starting pitcher on the roster one by one. I'll call two of them have Tommy John surgery this year, and the Reds win the division at .500.

Milwaukee Brewers - Absolutely no depth, no farm system, two re-signed, injury prone players, the worst-hitting centerfielder in baseball, the worst hitting and fielding shortstop in baseball, and their new ace is out because he got hurt playing pickup basketball. Sounds like second in the Central.

St. Louis Cardinals - Would've been first before Wainwright got hurt. Drop them down another spot when Carpenter goes down.

Chicago Cubs - Tyler Colvin and Starlin Castro actually provided some excellent cost-controlled production last year. Quick Jim Hendry! Overpay them and break their kneecaps!

Pittsburgh Pirates - The Pirates finally have some exciting young talent in McCutcheon, Tabata, Alvarez and Walker. Unfortunately, all the pitching prospects are still a ways away. There's a light at the end of the tunnel, but it's not quite time yet.

Houston Astros - Godawful.

NL West

San Francisco Giants - No, Aubrey Huff and Pat Burrell are not going to do that again, and Miguel Tejada might challenge Betancourt for the title of 'Worst-fielding shortstop in baseball'. Aaron Rowand is a sunk cost. But Brandon Belt is a rookie of the year contender, Kung-Fu Panda should bounce back, and no one outside of Philadelphia is messing with those pitchers.

Colorado Rockies - There's no real offense outside of Gonzalez, Tulowitzki and Seth Smith, but those forst two guys are rather good. Also, I have a bit of a crush on Jhoulys Chacin, even if I can't pronounce his name.

Los Angeles Dodgers - Chad Billingsley is rapidly turning into the new AJ Burnett, but Clayton Kershaw is a beast. And at least they got rid of Carlos Santana for Casey Blake! Who needs a competent catcher? What I mean is that Ned Colletti is a terrible GM.

San Diego Padres - The pitchers should be fine, and I'm excited to see what Cameron Maybin can do, but the offense wasn't good with Adrian Gonzalez. And he's gone now.

Arizona Diamondbacks - It's nice to see that even with a new general manager, the Diamondbacks are still finding ways to block Brandon Allen from getting playing time. Unfortunately for them, the interim regime traded Dan Haren, who is an excellent pitcher, for Joe Saunders, who should probably be a middle reliever. On the Pirates.

Well, that was fun. And just remember, making predictions is a fool's errand, but these ones are clearly infallible. I'll probably post some other thoughts and/or awards projections tomorrow. Until then, enjoy the baseball.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Things I Heard On TV

Girl (extremely serious): You mean the oldest vampire in the history of time is coming after me?

Friday, March 18, 2011

Rebecca Black Is Not The Problem

If you haven't seen/heard it yet, here you go. I'll wait:

(Link in case the video doesn't post right)

Okay. Done with that? Let's start with a thesis: This is the worst song ever. Yes, worse than "Muskrat Love". If you doubt me, go back and listen to it again, especially the bridge at around the two-minute mark. This song has blown up, hitting the top-100 on iTunes, passing 15,000,000 views on YouTube and spawning many articles discussing it (And an excellent cover by Bob Dylan), as well as some potential discussion of Black signing a record deal. However, this is not because people like the song. Despite my occasional misgivings about the subject, we have not quite devolved to that point yet. Rather, this song seems to be the focal point for the long-simmering backlash against the entire teen pop genre, which deserved to die many, many years ago. With that in mind, there is the potential for this song to do a wonderful thing for the world.

You see, Black is not actually a singer, and this song is not actually released by a record label. Black is a teenager whose mother paid a (presumably decent) sum of money to Ark Music Factory, a company that lets people be in their own music video, thus realizing the pinnacle of contemporary culture. The performers have the song written for them, and based on this video, have little input whatsoever into what the finished product will sound like, as Black's voice has been auto-tuned out of existence (And the tiny bit that remains seems to insist on pronouncing 'Friday' as 'fried egg'). I don't know how they handle the video, but it presumably isn't a much more involved process. Then the teenager can go hone and show their friends the music video on YouTube. It's all very exciting. This process leads to complete dreck being kicked out, not for totally valid artistic reasons (Like 'We Built This City'), but solely as an obligation for cash considerations, which is what the pop music industry has been about for quite a while now. This is just a slightly more honest way of doing things. And that is where the fun starts.

You see, no label can touch this and try to pretend that they're signing Black as an artist. Rather, any record deal would have to be as a novelty act, also known as a blatant cash grab. But this calls into question the validity of the entire teen pop genre. You see, none of these performers have talent. They are selected for looks and exploitability, thrust into an auto-tune program to sing something written by a 40-year old man who probably lives in Sweden or something, and shipped out into the world to be eaten alive by fame and the press. They don't actually have the skills to write or sing something decent. They are raw meat. This is different from Black solely in the fact that the major labels put more money into it than Black's mother, so they receive a marginally higher-quality finished product. Beyond signing Black, there are now problems with existing artists. Anyone who puts out anything that sounds even remotely close to this song from here on out is going to be absolutely crucified. The backlash against this song has been so fierce and immediate that the entire genre is going to have to distance itself. And there's even the chance that it could sound the death knell for teen pop as a whole. Which I would be okay with.

But there is going to be a cost to this righteous rage. Forgive me if I start sounding like the 'Leave Britney alone!' guy here, but this needs to be said. It isn't the name of (insert horrific songwriter here) who is going to bear this. It is Black whose name is on this, even though she was only marginally involved in the whole process. Really what she is guilty of is being a teenager and therefore stupid, and having parents dumb and rich enough to indulge her whims. The problem is with Ark Music Factory, the people who are actually responsible for this song, and with the entire music industry that has participated in the process of foisting talentless hacks on us under the guise of 'music'. The major labels, one and all, are at fault here. This is simply one ridiculous example of something they have been doing for years. But Black is going to be the one who takes the fall here, and internet justice is harsh. I hope I'm wrong here, but there's a reasonable chance she is going to be destroyed by this process. If and when this happens, remember who is really responsible. It's not the stupid teenager. It's the adults who look at the stupid teenager and see only money.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

This Guy Is In Midseason Form

Full extension to prevent anyone from getting hit and he doesn't even spill a drop! Try telling me anyone on the Astros could do that. Someone get this man a contract.

Friday, March 11, 2011

A Psychological Analysis of Avril Lavigne

Based on her newest single, "What the Hell". The lack of a question mark is hers, not mine. I read some Freud once, so I am totally qualified to do this. At least I'm as much of a doctor as this guy (Well, I can't find the video I want to go there. I'll give this an update when I do). Anyway, we're going to go through this song line by line. If you really don't like yourself and wish to hear it, here you are. And Avril, if you're reading this, I promise this will hurt me as much as it hurts you. If you're wondering why, click on that last link with the volume turned up. And now it begins.

You say that I'm messing with your head

Though we do not know the identity of the accuser here, we cannot completely dismiss their opinion of Avril's actions. And as people who are messing others around are often acting out some issues of their own, this is not a promising beginning.

All 'cause I was making out with your friend

Well Avril, you see, until very recently you were married (I, ummm, had to look that up. I swear). So, presuming the other in question is your ex, he would seem to have a legitimate complaint here.

Love hurts whether it's right or wrong

Clearly Avril is now trying to deflect the blame/guilt she feels for her make out session. "It's not my fault! It's love's fault!"

I can't stop 'cause I'm having too much fun

In Infinite Jest, 'too much fun' is used to describe self-demapping via an overdose of one's personal addictive substance of choice. Given the fact that she can't stop, it logically follows that Avril is planning suicide through excessive making out.

You're on your knees begging "Please stay with me"

Clearly Avril feels some anger towards her ex still, as she presents him as desperate to keep her around, even after she has confessed her suicidal plans and addiction to making out. Perhaps we should be psychoanalyzing him too. But anyway, their relationship being rather dysfunctional w/r/t ending might be due to the fact that he produced the majority of her new album after the divorce (See previous parenthetical). I'm sure that wasn't awkward at all.

But honestly I just need to be a little crazy!

Giving your problem a name is the first step, Avril. Good for you.

All my life I've been good, but now

Here Avril is claiming she is merely breaking the repressive societal bonds which have held her in check for the majority of her life, forcing her to adhere to a moral code she evidently does not believe in, though she still chooses to uphold it by giving it the designation of 'good'. Though considering she has been a famous music person/thing since her teens, I don't know how much we should believe this claim.

[Auto-tuned Tarzan howl]


I'm thinking what the hell

Thinking? I doubt it.

All I want is to mess around

Good for you. You've identified a want. That's a baby step towards being human. You know what? I'm content with offering a diagnosis now, because reading these lyrics is beginning to affect my quality of life. Based on my incredible background in the science of the mind (Not to be confused with 'Virus of the Mind,' which was a (bad) song by Heather Nova), I can say that Avril Lavigne is very clearly suicidally depressed. This could be for one of several reasons, which I will now list numerically:

1. The recent failure of her marriage, coupled with spending significant amounts of time with her ex in the recording studio.
2. The fact that the hook someone wrote for her song is that Tarzan thing, because good lord does that sound terrible.
3. The fact that said Tarzan thing is very clearly auto-tuned, implying that she can't actually sing it.
4. The fact that she lives in a world where someone would even want her to sing that.
5. The fact that she clearly either has the emotional make-up of a confused 12-year old or
6. Is pretending to relate to confused 12-year olds expressly for the purpose of manipulating them into giving her money.
7. The Tarzan thing again.

My Recommendation: Kill it. Kill it with fire.