Not very many trades this year- the biggest, of course, being Manny-to-the-Dodgers/Bay-to-the-Red-Sox. It's going to be so, so odd to see Joe Torre managing Manny Ramirez. Also, Ken Griffey, Jr. in a White Sox uniform is a site that I'll never get used to, ever. And not just as a Twins fan.
As for the Pirates, I don't see this trade making them better anytime soon, even if they do now have both Adam LaRoche and Andy LaRoche.
The Phillies made no trade, and I'm looking forward to hearing the talk radio idiots scream about it on the way home. Because clearly, the team that is in first place and has been for most of the season needs to make radical changes, and because they didn't, it's proof that the people in charge aren't committed to winning.
It takes over a minute to get to the punchline, but it's worth it:
News Item: Freddie Prinze, Jr., now a WWE writer
He won't be able to high-five fans in left field anymore- because in Dolphin Stadium, there never are any.
Jonathan Chait may be America's finest political writer. Here, he notices that Obama's being cast as a flip-flopper- just like, oh, every Democrat who's ever run for president, ever:
The details of the Republican character narrative vary a bit from campaign to campaign. (In 1992, 1996, and 2008, Republicans waxed rhapsodic about the moral virtues inherent in military service; in 2000 and 2004, they played them down.) The alleged flip-floppiness of the Democratic nominee, though, is a hardy perennial. Flip-flopping is a simple accusation that campaign reporters can sink their teeth into. Moreover, there's always grist for the accusation, because getting to the position of running for president without changing your stance on a few issues is essentially impossible.It would be quite hilarious if the GOP continued to run with the flip-flop thing while running, say, a McCain-Romney ticket.
Why did no one think of this until now?
Ever wonder what happens, when a player gets traded, to all of his stuff? Shysterball does too.
I, for one, would love it if Manny Ramirez's stuff could be shipped to Minneapolis for the next three months or so. But something tells me Manny wouldn't waive his no-trade to go there.
No, he never sold arms to Iran, but he is well on his way to losing a very winnable Senate race against a weak opponent amid the rising tide by his own party. Much like when Ollie ran against Chuck Robb in '94, as the New York Observer's Steve Kornacki points out. I just hope the Franklin-Coleman race leads to a documentary as great as "A Perfect Candidate." It would almost certainly be better than "Stuart Saves His Family."
Star Tribune: Bear with jar on head shot in busy town
Don't worry; it wasn't Winnie the Pooh.
News Item: Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to resign
Longtime readers may remember my starting a pool, in the spring of '07, over who would be gone first: Olmert, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz, or Phillies manager Charlie Manuel. Wolfowitz was whacked a month later (the day before my wedding, in fact); Mr. I Don't Recall departed three months later, Olmert lasted until today, and Charlie is of course still plugging away as Phils skipper.
The funniest thing you'll read all day. But it's still not nearly as offensive as that VH1 Def Leppard biopic, the one where Anthony Michael Hall was Mutt Lange and they showed Rick's car accident four different times from different angles.
Jim Caple is funny, as he shows us what Manny Ramirez's Hall of Fame plaque might look like had all his trade requests over the years been honored.
Philadelphia Inquirer: Manny Ramirez in Phillies red? Not likely
New York Times: Phillies will pass on Ramirez
So they're getting him. Or, they're not.
LAST WEEK, when the feds charged Larry Mendte with snooping into Alycia Lane's e-mail, Mendte's attorney treated the news like a non-issue... But it makes him kind of a stand-up guy when compared with another high-profile lowlife whose transgressions also made headlines last week:So Mendte gets a pass because his sins aren't as bad as those committed by someone with a different job in a different city accused of a completely different crime? I can already hear Kilpatrick claiming he deserves forgiveness because what he did isn't as bad as Bush and Cheney authorizing war and torture, and... it just goes on forever.
Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.
Just before his biggest day of the year Tim Dierkes, the editor of the World's Greatest Website is profiled in the Chicago Sun Times. His goal is a million hits on Thursday for the deadline; I'd be surprised if it wasn't way beyond that.
[Niekro's daughter] decided to use her father's famed pitch to battle aneurysms. Her foundation, the Scottsdale-based Joe Niekro Foundation, will hold a fundraiser, the Knuckle Ball, in Houston in September for aneurysm research. Money raised will be donated to Houston's Methodist Neurological Institute.I like Shyster's conclusion: "It would be even better if the name of the Foundation's governing body was 'The Emery Board.'"
One topic that gets him a bit riled up is when he is criticized for what some White Sox fans and members of the media deem too much tushy-rubbing when it comes to talking about the Minnesota Twins.Tushy-rubbing?
Guillen has gone out of his way to pay compliments to the Twins organization, from manager Ron Gardenhire to their farm system. On Monday, he tried to answer those who criticize him for a perceived man-crush on the Sox' division rivals.
''I know about baseball,'' Guillen said. ''I don't know if [my critics] know about baseball. Tell the people in Chicago how many playoffs the White Sox have and how many playoffs the Minnesota Twins have since I'm managing and since I was playing.
''They have good players, they build good players, they play the game good. They've been playing like that since I was playing, and that's why I do it.
Bob Herbert: "Can Obama run the offense?"
He was hiding money in a series of tubes, apparently.
MoveOn.org, on "Hope":
It's always helpful to compare your own candidate to venereal disease. I'm guessing David Axelrod is on the phone right now telling them to cut that shit out.
I look at that strange, elusive species- the blog commenter- in this week's North Star column.
Feel free to comment on my commentary about commenters, below.
Apparently, he's signed his reinstatement letter, but not yet sent it. Chris Mortensen, though, is standing (literally) by his mailbox, so stay tuned for new developments.
Josh Patashnik has written a good piece on the New Republic's Web site, blasting the nonsensical National Journal poll that calls Obama the most liberal senator. It's so well done that I'll let it slide that I wrote a very similar column, including several of the same arguments, last week.
The Times' Joe Nocera had one of the better newspaper pieces of the year over the weekend, attempting to get the bottom of Steve Jobs' and his rumored health crisis. It was a crazy enough story as it was- what with reports of hedge funds sending private investigators to follow Jobs to his doctors' appointments- but it got even wilder in this, the story's final paragraph:
On Thursday afternoon, several hours after I’d gotten my final “Steve’s health is a private matter” — and much to my amazement — Mr. Jobs called me. “This is Steve Jobs,” he began. “You think I’m an arrogant [expletive] who thinks he’s above the law, and I think you’re a slime bucket who gets most of his facts wrong.” After that rather arresting opening, he went on to say that he would give me some details about his recent health problems, but only if I would agree to keep them off the record. I tried to argue him out of it, but he said he wouldn’t talk if I insisted on an on-the-record conversation. So I agreed.
Because the conversation was off the record, I cannot disclose what Mr. Jobs told me. Suffice it to say that I didn’t hear anything that contradicted the reporting that John Markoff and I did this week. While his health problems amounted to a good deal more than “a common bug,” they weren’t life-threatening and he doesn’t have a recurrence of cancer. After he hung up the phone, it occurred to me that I had just been handed, by Mr. Jobs himself, the very information he was refusing to share with the shareholders who have entrusted him with their money.
You would think he’d want them to know before me. But apparently not.
Investigators are looking into how a young boy managed to slip out of a Denton day care center unnoticed, then cross two busy roads and end up a half-mile away at a Hooters restaurant on Tuesday afternoon.If my son ever does that, I'll be very proud of him.
Philadelphia's long sports championship drought ended, but not really, on Sunday when the Philadelphia Soul won the ArenaBowl, in order to capture the Arena Football League's championship. This has actually set off a debate in Philly over whether or not this "counts" as a title, whether it deserves a parade, and whether the Bon Jovi-abbetted championship celebration is worth attending.
Most of the people having the debate, however, had no idea the game was yesterday until they heard it was over or almost over. Because until this year, the team was known mostly either for being co-owned by Jon Bon Jovi and Ron Jaworski, and for serving as the employment story line for the housemates on "The Real World: Philadelphia."
At any rate, at the start of the broadcast, the city of Philadelphia was described by one of the announcers as "title-starved." Even after the win, it still is.
Jeff Pearlman, on his excellent new blog, slams the world's most loathsome sports personality, Skip Bayless:
Bayless has a lengthy history of being an attention-seeking anus... Here’s the latest example—an absolutely, positively pathetic moment in TV journalism that, in my opinion, warrants someone at ESPN asking the question, “Do we really want this man representing our product?”Here, he refuses to praise Terrell Owens for... saving a guy from a car wreck.
Ask anyone who knows me—I hate ripping other journalists. Hate it. But, from my vantage point, Bayless no longer qualifies.
Chris Satullo of the Inquirer, on the constant flip-flop hunt:
This narrative is illogical, but that only tightens its grip.You know what's almost as sad? The Sunday Inquirer has gotten so thin that I was able to read almost all of it just on one bus/train ride into the city.
It goes like this:
Moderation equals weakness, a deficit of courage and principle. Compromise is for cowards. The middle is muddle, the land of Milquetoasts, the house of waffles, flip-flop beach. To find vigor, rigor, passion and principle, look to the margins. The spectrum's right and left edges are the land of the genuine, the home of the brave.
So any politician who moves - excuse me, "runs" - to the center must, the thinking goes, be motivated by craven expedience. It couldn't possibly be conviction or common sense.
This is counterfactual craziness, but so ingrained that we barely notice our mental straitjacket. Partisan activists adore this narrative. It flatters them, enhances their clout beyond what their exhausted ideas deserve.
Confirming months of rumors, Gordon Edes announced today that he's leaving the Boston Globe to become a national baseball writer for Yahoo! Sports. Edes has always been among my favorites, and I look forward to seeing what he does in the new gig.
I question the silly idea of Barack Obama being the most liberal Senator- based on a single, discredited survey that's nonetheless quoted just about every day- in a special North Star column.
The Carnegie Mellon professor who told his story and emphasized happiness to be alive in his "Last Lecture" and the book of the same name, passed away last night at the age of 47. Pausch, who gave the lecture last fall, ended up living quite a long longer than had been first expected.
If you haven't ever seen the Lecture, I recommend doing so; it's on YouTube here.
No, it's not as wrong as the idea of him going to the Vikings, a move to the Jets, which now looks quite possible, doesn't make much more sense.
True, they need a QB, and true, it makes as much sense as any NFC team. But Favre is distinctly not a New York guy. Peter King's idea that Favre would be just as happy hanging out on his ranch in Mississippi sort of takes a hit when we find out Favre is going to be at the Meadowlands for at least a year. The sound you hear is Fox and NBC execs scrambling to move both Patriots-Jets games to prime time.
As for the other legend rumored to be heading to New York? Barry Bonds to the Yankees makes the most sense of possibly any transaction ever.
Apparently I'm not the only Twins fan who has some opinions about the Phils. Here's Twins (and baseball) expert Aaron Gleeman:
Headline at The700Level.com: "It's Still July, No Time For Panic"
I was shocked that the post is about the Phillies. I was expecting it to be about the Eagles, based on their lackluster first two days of training camp.
In lieu of further Phils analysis, I defer to the site's proprietor, Enrico: "Panicking when you're one game out is weak ass shit."
Michael Schaffer of TNR riffs on the overuse of analogies in the presidential race:
The best thing about the year in analogy is how diverse the comparisons have been. Almost simultaneously, Obama has been described as 2008's version of 49-state winner Ronald Reagan as well as its incarnation of 49-state loser George McGovern--in fact, he's been compared to every presidential candidate since World War II.I know columnists have to be able to come up with ideas and all that. But this is starting to get out of hand.
All these, of course, are vastly preferable to analogizing every single foreign policy scenario to Munich/1938.
Really? He's estranged from the organization and will probably be playing for another team at the time, and they're "considering" not going ahead with retiring his number? I just assumed that decision was already made a month ago.
Alan Abramowitz, Thomas E. Mann, and Larry J. Sabato, on "The Myth of the Toss-Up Election":
While no election outcome is guaranteed and McCain's prospects could improve over the next three and a half months, virtually all of the evidence that we have reviewed--historical patterns, structural features of this election cycle, and national and state polls conducted over the last several months--point to a comfortable Obama/Democratic party victory in November. Trumpeting this race as a toss-up, almost certain to produce another nail-biter finish, distorts the evidence and does a disservice to readers and viewers who rely upon such punditry.The day I see a single national poll with McCain in the lead is the day I believe it's actually a toss-up.
My story about the Consumer Electronics Association's bus tour and its visit to Philadelphia is online at Dealerscope.com.
Conservative Jim Manzi of The American Scene:
Reihan Salam points to a great portrait of MoveOn by The Nation editor Chris Hayes on the occasion if its tenth anniversary. (Especially) those who disagree with MoveOn’s political objectives should read it. Being in opposition obviously tends to enable the success of non-government forms of political organization, but why was this specific entity able to capture discontent? I’m sure the personalities of those involved and the many local accidents of circumstance mattered, but MoveOn also has a structure that mattered... Important new technologies tend to create new organizational forms built around them. These new organizational forms tend to appear first in the industries that create the new technologies, and then diffuse into the broader economy. Conservative activists should study this organization closely.
Conservative Bill O'Reilly, of Fox News:
"It is not a stretch to say Moveon is the new Klan."
Andrew Sullivan stand-in Chris Bodenner:
"I really hate jaywalkers. I despise them. Since I don't run the country, all I can do is yell at 'em. The other option is to run 'em over, but as a compassionate conservative, I would never do that," - Robert Novak, quoted in the Washington Post in 2001.
"I didn’t know I hit him," - Novak, today, after striking a pedestrian with his car.
Only in his estimation is McCain 75 percent right about Iraq.
News Item: NFL linebacker Ian Gold retires
He had a long, decent career. But of course, I'll remember Gold primarly for being one of the inaugural Eckstein Award honorees. He's an African-American man, but his name makes him sound like the president of a synagogue.
(Also, how strange is it that a guy who's a month younger than me is retiring from anything?)
Be sure to read my review of "The Dark Knight," over at the Trend site. Know it well, for it may be the chilling sound of your doom.
Kramer and Newman's speech from the Keith Hernandez episode would've been an accurate description of last night's Mets-Phillies game, had the Phillies not blown it by actually scoring six runs in the ninth. At any rate, the Phils erased a three-run deficit by scoring six runs in the top of the ninth, five of them with nobody out, to win 8-6 after the Mets pulled Johan Santana after 8.
My favorite part- the Phils' So Taguchi- who hadn't gotten a pinch hit all year, hadn't gotten a hit at all since May, and is on the team mostly as a pinchrunner and defensive replacement, even though he isn't so great at either- hit a two-run pinch double in the ninth to tie it. Until then, So had more Philadelphia Weekly cover stories this year (one) than impact hits (zero).
Gomez is exciting an all, but... he just plain can't get on base, which is sort of a problem when you bat leadoff. Now, all the team needs to do is bring in an infield bat, and call up Liriano. Shouldn't be too hard, right? That Yankees sweep this week, though, wasn't so encouraging.
This happened last night:
The two funniest things about this, to me: the fight is almost certainly to get about 1000 percent more media attention than anything else that will happen in the WNBA this year, and that Bill Laimbeer and Rick Mahorn were coaching on one side with Michael Cooper on the other, giving the whole thing a Pistons-Lakers '89 feel.
Best case? It could be like "All the President's Men," or "The Insider," or the recent "Recount." Worst case? Long expository scenes about typewriter fonts, followed by the conclusion that the documents were real.
What about casting? Felicity Huffman as Mary Mapes? Richard Jenkins as Dan Rather? Salma Hayek as "Lucy Ramirez"? Aaron Eckhardt as John Hinderaker?
The Times magazine ran the excerpt from the memoir of Carr- the Times' own crackhead-turned-ace media reporter- on Sunday, and there's a lot to love. A tale of drugs, sex and irresponsibility set in late 1980s Minneapolis- it's like a Hold Steady song in magazine form!
CNET's Tom Krazit, on rumors of Steve Jobs being sick:
Jobs is just a man. He's not a demigod sent to lead us down the path to technology enlightenment. He's not a finely crafted design arbitration widget. And he's not merely an "asset," as Blodget himself admits at the end of his latest post on the matter.
Steve Jobs has a family. He has kids. Those kids presumably have Macs in their home that connect to the Internet and allow them to read all this uninformed speculation about what is first and foremost a family matter... This whole affair reminds me far too much of Star or US Weekly speculating about whether an actress is pregnant, or anorexic, or a drug addict, based on a picture.
Daily Show on the Obama World Tour:
Note: This clip is 100 percent "Queefnugget"-free.
This guy has mocked up a fake Sports Illustrated cover of Brett Favre coming to the Vikings. Pretty clever, but that doesn't mean it'll ever happen (it won't.)
You think Mariano Rivera is intimidating? That's nothing. From the New York Post:
A 75th-birthday bash for wrestling icon Capt. Lou Albano turned into a real-life "Wrestlemania" event when "The Sandman" allegedly got drunk and went berserk - and "The Zombie" and "Pitbull" struggled to restrain him as a SWAT team was called in.The Sandman, by the way, is a Broomall native and supposedly lives near me in Delaware County. If I run into him at Wawa- after he gets out of jail, I mean- I'll be sure to mention it here.
"It was unbelievable - I've never seen anything like it," one stunned party guest told The Post today, after wrestler Jim "The Sandman" Fullington found himself at the center of a bottle-hurling, glass-smashing melee with the owner of La Lanterna restaurant in Yonkers.
News Item: "Wardobe Malfunction" Fine is Tossed
Thus ending five years of hand-wringing about, well, just about nothing. So a woman's breast, covered by a breast-sized piercing, was exposed, not in closeup, for about two seconds, and as a result there's a massive crackdown on free speech and expression. Hopefully this will lead to actual nudity at next year's Super Bowl, an idea only slightly less likely than Brett Favre playing in it for the Vikings.
Here's a monumentally weird ad- a TV commercial for New Balance shoes in which the guy, in the shower, is having a "relationship" with "running," but running "has a very hot friend," called "Victory," and "someday, maybe, just maybe, manage a trois.":
Here's my best interpretation: You're having sex with one of your shoes. You're thinking, for whatever reason, about no longer doing so, but are motivated to keep it going by the idea of maybe, eventually, getting to have sex with both shoes at once.
Or am I reading this the wrong way?
The legendary Chicago sportswriter- best known for inventing the save- died yesterday at the age of 81. I'm not going to pretend I did a lot of following of Holtzman's career, but back when I went to camp in Wisconsin I would occasionally get my hands on a sports page, which for a sports fan at summer camp was like the holy grail. Since most of my co-campers were from Chicago, that paper was usually the Tribune, and Holtzman's column was always in it.
Come to think of it, now that Mike Royko, Gene Siskel and now Holtzman are all dead, i don't think I could name a single person who currently writes for the Chicago Tribune.
I look at what's been going on in the presidential campaign- namely, not much- in this week's North Star column.
I'm not one to care a great deal about the box office, aside from rooting for movies, directors and actors I like to do well. But I'm happy about the "Dark Knight" record, mostly because the previous record holder, "Spider-man 3," was a wretched, awful film, and "Dark Knight" is a great one.
So Roger Ebert and Richard Roeper said today that they are leaving the TV show formerely known as "Ebert and Roeper," which marks the end of the "Siskel and Ebert" era.
True, Gene Siskel died nine years ago and Ebert has been off the air for more than two years due to his health, but it was, technically, the show that changed film criticism forever, one I watched religiously as a kid. True, Roeper may be an embarrassment as a writer and even worse as a TV personality, but I'm still sad to see the show ending.
Yes, I know they've "walked back" a little bit from this, but the fact remains that Maliki still wants withdrawal by 2010, which happens to be around 16 months after the new president takes office. So the Democrats are in favor of "retreat and defeat," then so too are the Iraqis themselves.
Hitler sings the theme from "The Jeffersons":
What would Archie Bunker say?
Yglesias has an interesting chart showing the ideological continuum of where various Democratic elected officials stand. And that's right- Obama and Clinton are squarely in the middle. Don't believe all that "far left" B.S.
My editor at North Star, Dan Calabrese, argues against the Vikings getting Brett Favre. It's hard to disagree.
It's a truly amazing film, probably the best of the year so far, and everything you've heard about Ledger's performance is true. From my review (to be posted next week):
The Nolan brothers have outdone themselves with the sequel, bringing in the series’ most recognizable villain (The Joker) and surrounding the hero and villain with every element necessary for a great blockbuster: a beautifully designed visual style, exciting and unpredictable action sequences, a plot that is both compelling and makes sense, and interesting and multidimensional supporting characters.Also, two notes for wrestling fans: Tiny Lister (Zeus!) has a memorable cameo in the film, and did you notice that the look of the Joker was practically identical to Sting's from the waning days of WCW?
After a summer of superhero movies that contained most of those elements (“Iron Man”), about half of them (“The Incredible Hulk”), or none at all (“Speed Racer,” “Hancock”), it’s great to see a big Event Movie deliver the way “The Dark Knight” does. It’s just plain fantastically made, at a time when so many big movies are not.
A bear attacks a Colorado Circuit City. A trio of cross-dressers rob a Walmart. And, organized retail crime could soon go federal. This can only mean a new Week in Electronics Retail Crime, by yours truly, on Dealerscope.com.
The Phillies finally made a trade for a starting pitcher last night, acquiring Joe Blanton from Oakland for a trio of minor leaguers (second baseman Adrian Cardanes, pitcher Josh Outman, and outfielder Matt Spencer.
I like the trade, for several reasons. While he's struggled this year, Blanton has a history of being a generally solid starter who pitches tons of innings. They were able to get him without surrendering any of their major prospects (except for Cardenas, who is blocked by Chase Utley), and Blanton has two more years before he's a free agent, so he's not a rental. They kept Carlos Carrasco, for instance, who is likely to join the rotation next year as the second top-of-the-rotation starter to go with Cole Hamels.
The trade also enables the Phils to drop Adam Eaton from the rotation, and gives them some insurance in case Brett Myers isn't able to contribute. The second half gets under way tonight; should be quite a ride.
What do you Phillies fans think? I don't know. They're all more concerned about Brian Westbrook's contract. Still, I'm looking forward to hearing how Howard Eskin and various WIP callers shoehorn the team trading three minor leaguers for a veteran pitcher into an argument about how the Phillies are cheap.
It's certainly time for the Airing of the Grievances against Minnesota teams- first the whole Brett Favre tampering incident with the Vikings, and now Francisco Liriano's agent is investigating whether the Twins have kept him in the minors too long for nefarious purposes.
Now, I don't necessarily believe that the Twins are screwing with Liriano for service time reasons- after all, he started the year on the big league team, and pitched so poorly that he had to be sent down. However, consider how dominant the pitcher has been lately, I'd say it's about time they dump Livan Hernandez on some gullible team (I nominate the Mets), and give Liriano his spot back.
I had thought every last bit of comedy had already been drained out of the Cougar fad, but the great Kristen Schaal proves me wrong:
Who knew you could say "Queefnugget" on basic cable?
Reihan Salam, on "Hellboy 2":
I have to assume that the creators of Hellboy 2 have somehow managed to subject various respectable film critics to some combination of blackmail and extreme physical duress, up to and including purple-nurpling. Hellboy 2 was so bad that it practically made me want to weep. Selma Blair was checked out. The dialogue was hackneyed. The film’s plot required more than a suspension of disbelief — it required a suspension of all of one’s critical faculties, and also a suspension of the capacity to see and hear... You’d be better off filling your $10 with some mix of tobacco and exotic spices, rolling it, and smoking it.I didn't see this film, but hey, at least it didn't feature Pierce Brosnan singing.
Stephanie Zacharek, in Salon, on "Mamma Mia":
| Ah, summertime: That sunny, carefree three-month window during which, ideally, we're supposed to be having fun at the movies -- and if we're not, we need to be beaten into believing we're having it. I don't normally think of Meryl Streep as the dominatrix type, but watching her and her two BFFs, played by Christine Baranski and Julie Walters, grinning and giggling their way through "Mamma Mia!" I felt I was being thoroughly, and unenjoyably, punished.There's a lot to like about this movie- the songs are good, Amanda Seyfried is a true talent as the female lead, and it's beautifully shot. But Baranski and Walters' second-rate AbFab routine all but ruined the movie for me.
(You know how that Obama New Yorker cover was satire? So is this.)
One of my favorite bloggers, Matt Yglesias, said this week that he's leaving the Atlantic to join the Center For American Progress, where he will continue to blog. I doubt much will change with the blog, but I congratulate Matt on the new job.
The legendary Canadian prog rockers Rush get the Colbert bump:
The design of your magazine is not cutting edge, unless the goal is to make your readers want to cut themselves with the edge of a razor blade. You can’t just throw nine fonts on a page and call it design. Also, find a few colors that work and stick to those. If my dog ate a box of Crayolas and threw up on the floor she’d be more consistent than the room full of monkeys you have working on this thing.I too got the magazine when I signed up for Insider, and I too canceled it when I realized how worthless it was.
News Item: Spike Lee to direct "L.A. Riots" movie
Spike's been maddeningly inconsistent this decade- "The 25th Hour" was amazing, "Inside Man" was very, very good, and the Katrina documentary was very well done. But "She Hate Me" was one of the worst movies I've ever seen.
Wow is all I can say. Wow. I'll have more thoughts once I pick my jaw up off the floor.
Sounds like the big offense was that the Vikes' offensive coordinator- who is Favre's good buddy going way back- talked to him. Worst comes to worst, they'll get docked a fifth round pick or something.
If before this, there was a 2 percent chance of Favre suiting up for the Vikings next year, it's now down to less than 1, I'd say.
Charley Waters, the Don McKee of Minnesota, making up silly Twins rumors:
It will be interesting whether the Twins try to package Michael Cuddyer and Livan Hernandez in a trade for a slugging third baseman before the July 31 deadline, saving $20 million in guaranteed money to Cuddyer and $2.5 million to Hernandez. Denard Span ($390,000) would replace Cuddyer in right field, and Francisco Liriano ($400,000) would replace Hernandez in the starting rotation.Um, no. I could see the Twins trading Livan, as well as trading for a third baseman, but not both at once. That's because, once again, a team with a slugging third baseman to trade will want prospects in return, not a veteran pitcher and veteran outfielder. It continues to shock me how people who have followed sports for a living for a decade still don't understand this.
I'm loving the new Hold Steady, despite fewer explicit Minnesota references than the last couple of albums. Michaelangelo Matos has a great piece about the band on Salon, and this part certainly rings true for me:
Like a lot of Midwesterners who move east (I speak from experience), Finn began sticking to his traditionalist guns in a way he hadn't at home -- partly ironically, partly out of defensiveness... The Strokes spoke to the nonchalantly chic; the Hold Steady spoke for the ex-pats waiting to finish doing their city time and head back to their hometowns. They became the New York rock band for people who hated New York rock bands.Yes, the Hold Steady has now officially made twice as many good albums as the Strokes have.
I review the surprisingly excellent "The Wackness," this week in the Trend.
For reviews, see my Rotten Tomatoes page.
Say, did you hear this was the last All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium? I think they might have mentioned that once or twice, but I wasn't sure.
Will the same courtesy be granted next year for the final season of the Metrodome, complete with highlight packages of the two world championships and the glory of the 1985 All-Star Game?
When Sarah Jessica Parker, Sheryl Crow and Bud Selig were standing side-by-side, I don't know how I could even begin to make a "rank who you like least" list. It would've taken me the length of the game, probably.
That Steinbrenner moment certainly had a strong whiff of "last public appearance before his death," didn't it?
Those of who remember Cristian Guzman from the Twins certainly laughed when he entered the game as a pinch runner, and was subsequently thrown out trying to steal second. How'd he make the All-Star team? Was there no one better on Washington?
I tried hard to stay awake for the whole game, but sort of dozed off periodically between the 10th and 15th innings. I was awake, however, to see Justin Morneau score the winning run. I can't wait to hear today's sports radio discussion over whether Brad Lidge being the losing pitcher in the All-Star Game will cause him to melt down once the second half starts.
Check out my review of the excellent "Persepolis," on the North Star site.
I agree with Publius:
I keep hearing that Nutsgate is a “Sister Souljah moment” for Obama. Frankly, it’s annoying me. First – it’s not a Sister Souljah moment at all. Second – I’m sick of that term. It’s time to retire the Sister Souljah label altogether. It’s inaccurate, and even borderline racist.Normally I'm opposed to appending "-gate" to the ends of words whenever there's a scandal, but referring to the Jesse Jackson controversy as "Nutsgate" is just brilliant.
As someone who didn't move to Philadelphia until long after the Sixers, Flyers and most concerts had moved to the Wachovia Center, I don't have much connection to the place; I've been there only once, after all, for a minor league hockey game earlier this year. However, I found the place had much more character than the largely charmless Wachovia, which places its upper-deck seats (what seems like) miles from the floor and seems to segregate different sections by social class.
On the bright side, it will be nice to have some bars, restaurants, and other stuff down near the other stadiums. The argument for building new places is always supposedly to spur economic development in the surrounding area, but all the Sports Complex in Philly is surrounded by is concrete and more concrete.
See ESPN.com for one of the best baseball stories ever- the 36-year-old guy who, in the '70s, masqueraded as a 21-year-old Australian named Rocky in order to have one last shot at playing the game.
My old friend Jake Greene, now a career guru, gives some advice to the cast members of VH1's latest train wreck. I'm going to guess Pumkin and Toastee won't be parlaying their appearance on this show into respectable future careers, although I do have some hope for Mr. Boston.
Yes, after five years, Chase Utley has a catchphrase. There are t-shirts available, too!
Because obviously, the terms "boo" and "fuck you" have never before been uttered at a Philadelphia sporting event.
You know the kids' game Duck Duck Goose? For some reason in Minnesota, and only in Minnesota, the game is instead called Duck Duck Grayduck. I have no idea why, but I can't wait for The Hold Steady to write a song about it.
Also, as we learn from Wikipedia, there is something called "Extreme" Duck Duck Goose. It involves running counter-clockwise, directly into the person chasing you.
I'm used to Philly sports personalities suggesting outlandish trades. But this one from the Inquirer's Don McKee might be the worst of the year:
Take Bonds at his word and sign him for the minimum salary.No.
Trade Pat Burrell, who won't be back next season, for an American League pitcher in the same contract circumstances.
Play Bonds in left.
Win the NL East.
No? Just a thought.
Has McKee never followed baseball before? Doesn't he know that teams that trade top-of-the-line pitchers at the deadline generally want multiple prospects in return, as opposed to veteran outfielders who are about to be free agents? If a team is out of it, they won't want Burrell back. If they aren't out of it, they'll probably keep all the pitching they can.
Then there's Burrell's no-trade clause, which is pretty easy to forget- he's only had it for six years.
Tune in next week, when McKee suggests the Eagles trade Donovan McNabb for a Big Time Receiver, and then sign Brett Favre.
Pretty funny. But more as satire, that it is on its own.
I agree with whoever it was that compared it to "batting practice, only narrated by Chris Berman." Yes, the Derby is certainly a pseudo-event.
I'm happy Morneau won, but even I, a die-hard Twins fan, was rooting for Josh Hamilton.
That said, whichever one of the announcers said that, because Hamilton is a Christian, "it's a lousy night to be an atheist*," deserves to be fired. Not because it was offensive, but because it's just about the dumbest thing ever said on ESPN.
*Rick Reilly, Deadspin says. Yep, makes sense, since he's not a broadcaster at all.
Via the greatest website in the world, here's the latest on the Phils' search for a frontline starter:
The Phillies made an initial offer last week for A.J. Burnett, and the Jays were thoroughly unimpressed. The Phillies won't discuss prospects Carlos Carrasco, Lou Marson, or Greg Golson in trades.You know what? Good. Trading for Burnett, I think, would be a monumentally stupid move. He's spent about 90 percent of his career either on the disabled list or as a disappointment, and he's got an opt-out clause that he's sure to exercise if he has even a moderately good stretch run. But if he gets hurt, or sucks? You're stuck with him for two more years, at a huge salary.
My prediction? The Phils either trade for a second-tier pitcher (a Wolf or Bronson Arroyo or Livan Hernandez type), or they make a big move for someone who's barely been mentioned in rumors at all, like an Oswalt or Harang or Derek Lowe.
News Item: Jesse Ventura not running for U.S. Senate
Good. Jesse running for office- and winning- was funny the first time. But he very quickly overstayed his welcome, and another run for office isn't really in anyone's best interest. He's got about as much reason to still be in politics as Ralph Nader does.
I look at "Generation Kill' in this week's North Star column. I watched most of the first episode last night and generally liked it.
Honestly? I think it's brilliant, and I'm shocked how many people have completely misunderstood it. It's clearly meant as a parody of the mindset that sees Obama and his wife as dangerous, terrorist-supporting radicals, and not meant to reinforce those stereotypes at all. The magazine shouldn't even have to explain it; it's sad that they have to.
From Politico, wondering about McCain's lack of computer know-how:
"Where does he get his porn?" conservative talk show host Michael Smerconish asked me in an interview just now. "That’s what I want to know."And that's why I love Smerconish. What other conservative talk guy would think to ask that?
This is pretty humorous:
Sid Hartman: If Vikings got Favre, they'd get a stadium
This is another one of those columns that only Sid would write.
- Good News: They’ve picked up David Simon’s New Orleans show, called “Treme”
- Bad News: They’ve also picked up a show- produced by Sarah Jessica Parker- based on the Washingtonienne scandal.
They’ve also got a new Martin Scorsese-produced show on the way, a 1920s mob saga called “Boardwalk Express.” I’ve got a feeling it’ll be better than the Jessica Cutler show, which sounds exactly like Showtime’s hooker show that was also based on a blog.
I agree with Andrew Sullivan- this is probably the best thing Jackson could have done for Obama. Barack would’ve loved to distance himself, so he gets to, without even saying or doing anything. And how stupid is Jesse, talking like that before Fox News’ cameras? Did he not think they’d use the tape?
It was also hilarious seeing different news outlets finding different, variously different ways of censoring the phrase “I want to cut his nuts off.”
A discussion my wife and I had last night:
Me: Did you see the Phillies won today?
Her: They did? I didn’t realize they played a day game. They didn’t mention it on [sports radio]
Me: Nah, they never talk about it when they win. They only talk about it when they lose. Or about yesterday’s loss. Or about the bad things that happened in today’s win…
Here’s the story with the Phillies this year: They’re in first place in the NL East, as they have been for virtually the entire season. They got off to a huge start- reversing the last several years of bad Aprils- before running into trouble in June, getting crushed in interleague play. Since then they’ve been up-and-down- sweeping the Braves, losing 3-of-4 to the Mets, winning a series against St. Louis. Their record is 50-43, and they’ve outscored their opponents by 80 runs (other than the Cubs, no NL team has a run differential better than +28).
The team’s strengths include run scoring, power, an excellent bullpen, and relatively solid starting pitching from Cole Hamels, Kyle Kendrick and Jamie Moyer, as well as the fact that they’ve only used 6 starting pitchers, the least in baseball. Weaknesses include a lot of strikeouts, no real dominant starters other than Hamels, an off-year for 2007 MVP Jimmy Rollins, especially poor hitting from catcher Carlos Ruiz, and a meltdown by former #1 starter Brett Myers, now back in Triple-A.
The team seems aware of their need for another top starter, and made a run at C.C. Sabathia that failed because they couldn’t put together as good a package as Milwaukee could. Indeed, most of the team’s top prospects- pitchers Carlos Carrasco and Antonio Bastardo, catcher Lou Marson, and infielder Jason Donald- are at AA Reading; their AAA team in Lehigh Valley is baseball’s worst.
So, in other words, they’re a pretty solid team with a handful of fixable flaws. Their fans, however, don’t appear to see it that way; if a perusal of either sports radio station or the comment sections of most team blogs or Philly.com posts about the team, you’d think they were having a terrible year.
Here are a few arguments I’ve heard made about this team in the last few weeks, and why I think they’re dead wrong. Yes, all of these are real arguments that I’ve actually heard in good faith:
- The Phillies don’t really care about winning, because they’re too cheap to spend and the owners are perfectly content to sell out every game.
The old “Phillies are cheap” standby is recited as conventional wisdom, always, no matter how much the team has proved it wrong. The Phils’ payroll, according to various sources, is on one side or the other of $100 million, placing it around tenth in baseball. That’s about twice the payrolls of such contenders as the Marlins, Rays, and Twins. You can complain about how the team spends their money, but “cheap” is the wrong word to use.
And besides, in the last two years the Phils have given Chase Utley 7 years and $83 million and- just last week- Brad Lidge for three years, $39 million.
- The Phillies are just going to do nothing at the deadline, like they always do.
Last year, the Phillies traded for Kyle Lohse at the deadline, and he helped get them into the playoffs. The year before, they traded Bobby Abreu, and then (before the waiver deadline) got Moyer, who is still contributing now.
Like the “cheap” canard, the “they never do anything at the deadline” story is one that was true six or seven years ago, but hasn’t been since Pat Gillick took over, or since the team came into Citizens’ Bank Park.
- This team strikes out too much!
Last year, the Phillies were third in the National League in strikeouts, with 1,205. They were also first in the NL in runs scored, with 892. This year, they’re seventh in strikeouts and second in runs. Pretty much all teams that hit lots of homers strike out a lot; clearly, offense isn’t this team’s problem.
- Ryan Howard is the new Dave Kingman! Every time up he either hits a home run or strikes out!
Howard has 125 strikeouts and 27 home runs; he also has 47 walks and 12 doubles. He’s a major slugger, despite his .234 batting average, and undoubtedly one of baseball’s most valuable players, despite the strikeouts and below-average defense.
- Everyone on this team just wants to hit a home run all the time!
You talk about that like it’s a bad thing.
- The Phillies’ failure to get Sabathia shows their lack of commitment to winning, as opposed to the Brewers, who didn’t mind taking one run at a championship.
Most of the Phils’ nucleus (Howard, Utley, Rollins, Hamels) is signed or under their control for years to come, meaning their window to win extends far into the future. The Brewers have a shorter window and have said they’re going for it this year before retooling. Trading multiple top prospects for a guy (Sabathia) three months from free agency would be monumentally stupid, especially because- if Sabathia were gone, Brett Myers traded and Jamie Moyer retiring- it could leave the Phils with almost no pitchers next year.
A trade for Erik Bedard, who is signed for one more year, would make more sense, as well as one for Roy Oswalt or possibly A.J. Burnett (if he agreed to not opt out of his deal), since they’re signed beyond this year.
- If Carlos Carrasco is so good, why isn’t he in the majors right now? They think he’s too good to trade, but not good enough to be in their rotation?
That’s because he’s a prospect, and “prospects” aren’t ready yet. If the Phillies see Carrasco as a potential top-of-the-rotation starter, they’d be wrong to trade him, especially if it comes back to bite them in the end. Should the Phils have traded Cole Hamels for more immediate help, when he was in AA?
- Why can’t Carrasco/Donald/Bastardo/Marston come right in the majors from AA? Kyle Kendrick did last year!
Kendrick was the exception and not the rule; the number of players who make an impact coming straight from AA is a short one, only a handful of players every year. Those people are in AA for the same reason everybody in AA is in AA- because they’re not ready to be at a level higher than AA. Marson in particular would be a stretch, since AA catchers tend not to be able to handle pitching staffs of contenders in pennant races.
- The Phils must be thrilled Burrell didn’t make the All-Star team, because it means they’ll have to give him less on his contract!
This isn’t an arbitration case. Burrell is a free agent, and the Phils will be bidding against other teams; whether or not he was an All-Star should have no effect whatsoever on how much he gets in free agency. (Note: I’ve heard two different talk show callers in two days make this argument; both of them, no doubt, were calling for Burrell’s unconditional release a year ago.)
So enjoy the second half of the Phillies season- next week, the Twins! (Probably not really.)
I've got a big new electronics retail crime update up at Dealerscope. My personal favorite is the guy who stole an emergency radio, and was then caught a few days later when he tried to buy a charger for it.
I've been feeling sick the last few days, so apologies for the lack of new posts. More to come later.
Bill Simmons posted to his ESPN site Wednesday that he is taking the rest of the summer off, to finish his second book. Which is interesting, because I seem to remember him taking time off, oh, a year ago, for the same reason. But no book ever materialized; not even a title has leaked.
I review the very mediocre "Hancock" in the Trend this week.
I first heard about this project probably more than ten years ago; glad to see QT finally pursuing it.
In the last week alone, Sacha Baron Cohen has pranked both a thousands-strong MMA crowd in Arkansas and a member of the Mossad, both for the Bruno movie. Getting on the bad side of either takes a lot of balls.
News Item: 76ers sign Elton Brand to five-year deal
A cynic would say, "gee, a big name and former #1 overall pick, with a huge contract, who's coming off major surgery- sounds like Chris Webber!" Good thing the Philly sports community doesn't have many cynics. Oh wait...
But seriously, I like this move for Philly. Brand provides an inside presence, and also gives the team a post-Iverson identity. And, as a Wolves fan, I appreciate the free first-round pick that made it all possible.
So Brett Favre wants to come back and play, just a few months after retiring. This has caused a big headache for the Packers, who had planned on handing the team over to understudy Aaron Rodgers and might not want Brett back in the fold. That would mean they'd either have to trade Favre, or release him- meaning he could go to any team he wants.
This has led to speculation, of course, that Favre could end up on a team that looks like a championship contender in every area except for quarterback. And gee, who could that be?
Favre-to-the-Vikings, hmm. Clearly, he's better than what they've got now (Tarvaris Jackson). Bringing him aboard would instantly make the Vikings the favorites in the NFC, and give the Vikes their best team, on paper, since the 15-1 1998 season. Moreover, Favre as a Viking would likely cause the state of Wisconsin to cave in upon itself- and believe me, mountains of cheese can be hard to dig out of.
That's why I don't think it will come to that. The Packers would probably sooner pay Favre to sit on the bench than to escape to the Vikings or Bears, but if they have to, they'd probably trade him to a non-NFC North team. I also couldn't see Favre agreeing to go to a natural rival of the Pack, seeing how much it would tarnish his legacy as a man who is treated like a Messiah throughout the Badger State.
What will happen? I'm guessing Favre returns to the Packers and plays one more year. What should happen? Staying in retirement.
"But Senator Obama is not just tacking gently toward the center. He’s lurching right when it suits him, and he’s zigging with the kind of reckless abandon that’s guaranteed to cause disillusion, if not whiplash."- Bob Herbert, the New York Times, today
"Obama, on the other hand, is just now coming into focus for other than the already committed Obamians. He had a stumbling, bumbling close to his primary campaign, and the opening weeks of his general campaign have been marked by flip flops and lurches left."- Hugh Hewitt, TownHall.com, last week.
How much lurching can one man do?
One of my company's publications, Book Business, gets the profile treatment in today's Philadelphia Inquirer. Somehow, it doesn't have nearly as many comments as the typical Phillies story.
Funny stuff from Rich Hofmann. His description of the highest possible bitterness score:
If you scored from 54-60, well, you simultaneously live the Philadelphia stereotype and complain that people stereotype you. You will celebrate the next Philadelphia championship for about a week before starting to complain. You are beyond hope.
Actor Don Davis, who played Major Briggs on "Twin Peaks" and had bit parts in a whole bunch of movies, has died.
I just watched the Twins lose to the Red Sox on ESPN, and I don't know what upsets me more- the result, or the idiocy of the announcers on ESPN. Not only did they spend whole innings of a close, exciting game talking about such pertinent topics as All-Star snubs and the who's-making-the-Hall-of-Fame game, but it was clear that none of them knew a thing about the Twins.
I'm not one to complain about the Red Sox appearing on a nationally televised game for the third time in five days. But is it too much to ask for national announcers to actually know something about the other team? It was abundantly clear that none of them had seen the Twins play this year. During the first inning, we were told, 30 seconds apart, that the Twins "have guys who know how to get on base" and that they "have a low team on-base percentage."
Come on, Fire Joe Morgan- get on it! (Even if Joe himself wasn't there.)
As someone who grew up watching them on ESPN, I truly can't wait for this. Will they bring back all the old catchphrases too, like "put the biscuit in the basket" and "drooling the drool of regret into the pillow of remorse"?
The only downside, however, is that there are now like ten people on that show, which is about five too many.
Noah Millman notices some problems with the film, such as this:
Why does EVE pack heat? Her function is to look for vegetation and, if she finds some, shut down and wait to be picked up. The Earth is uninhabited, so there are no enemies or wildlife to worry about. Why should she be heavily armed? Apart from the obvious need to make her more like Angelina Jolie, I mean.This led to a classic rejoiner from one of his commenters: "Might as well ask why Glenn Reynolds packs heat when his function is to teach law students and say “indeed.”"
Apparently, the Progressive insurance pitch woman has quite a cult following. She's like a live-action Erin Esurance:
And not only that- but the actress who plays Flo was also on "Mad Men."
Ross Douthat, making sense:
"He simply was an awful bigot, and worse he was an awful bigot who never expressed a shred of remorse, so far as I know, for his toxic approach to issues ranging from civil rights to HIV to foreign affairs. Far from being the sort of politicians who conservatives ought to defend, out of a sense of issue-by-issue solidarity, he's the sort of politician conservatives ought to carefully distance themselves from, because his political style brought (and continues to bring) intellectual disrepute to almost every cause with which he was associated... I'm happy to defend Helms' views on a variety of issues, but the man himself has no business in the right-wing pantheon, and the conservatives who have used his death as an occasion to argue that he does are doing their movement a grave disservice.I'm not going to call the conservative movement racist; I'm sure most of them are not. But whether it's Hannity constantly making excuses for Imus and Mel Gibson and the like, or National Review praising Jesse Helms to the skies, they do seem awfully willing to excuse bigotry, and treat it like it's not such a big deal.
Very interesting. I don't think he would've been a good pick, but I expected Webb to at least be a finalist. My top veep picks:
1. Brian Schweitzer
2. Joseph Biden
3. Evan Bayh
4. Tim Kaine
5. Ed Rendell
562. Hillary Clinton
I look at who may be McCain's veep, in this week's North Star column.
Jonathan Chait on the late, unlamented senator from North Carolina:
Among other things, Helms was an avowed believer in black intellectual inferiority, an hysterical opponent of interracial marriage, called the 1964 Civil Rights Act "the single most dangerous piece of legislation ever introduced in the Congress," and said of civil rights demonstrators, "The Negro cannot count forever on the kind of restraint that's thus far left him free to clog the streets, disrupt traffic, and interfere with other men's rights." Helm's "vision" of civil rights for African-Americans was that there should be none.
The mainstream conservative position on civil rights is that the equal rights of the early civil rights movement were good, but things started to go wrong with the imposition of affirmative action. It's a flawed though not illegitimate view. But Helms wasn't a champion of color-blindness who objected to quotas. He was an out-and-out white supremacist.
Moreover, it would be one thing if conservatives celebrated the things they liked about Helm's life while disavowing his bigotry. But their unalloyed celebration of Helms is a staggering indictment of movement conservatism's views on race.
Everyone's supposed to do it; my rankings:
1. "Toy Story 2"
2. "The Incredibles"
5. "Toy Story"
7. "A Bug's Life"
8. "Monsters, Inc."
9. "Finding Nemo"
Do I take any pride in this as a Jew? No, of course not.
I'm generally opposed to speaking ill of the dead, but there are a handful of individuals for whom I feel an exception is warranted. Jesse Helms, a man who virulently hated blacks, gays, people with AIDS, and many others, and spent many years using his considerable political power to bring them down, is one such individual. He died at the age of 86 on Friday, a bit of news about which I have a very hard time feeling upset.
Many of those who loudly and vociferously opposed the civil rights movement- Strom Thurmond and George Wallace, for starters- later saw the error of their ways and repudiated their opposition in their later years. Helms did no such thing. The list of vile, evil things Helms said and did in his public career is a long one; here's a partial one.
It indeed says a lot about the current conservative movement that they had such glowing things to say about Helms upon his death. I'm just sad that he died seven months too soon to see the inauguration of the first black president.
A commenter on Balloon Juice said it best:
"I can only hope there’s some sort of affirmative action program in Heaven, and [Helms] loses his spot there because they had to give it to a minority"
News Item: Obama may accept nomination at Invesco Field
Obama's speech will already be the most eagerly awaited possibly in the history of politics; having him give it in front of 70,000-plus at the Denver Broncos' stadium could only add to the spectacle. I like the idea- and I expect it to be the only glory to take place on that field the entire year.
The Batting Stance Guy gives the Twins a shot:
I totally remember Tom Brunansky holding his bat like that.
In honor of Minnesota's 150th anniversary, MinnPost.com gives us the 150 worst moments in the history of the state. Somehow, only a handful of them involve the Vikings.
I look at the latest in electronics retail crime- including a "Stone Cold" Steve Austin impersonator who bilked Wal*Mart autograph seeks out of 10 bucks a pop- at the Dealerscope site.
I'm heading down the shore; have a happy 4th of July everyone!
Following yesterday's 7-0 thrashing of the Tigers, the Twins are now 9 games over .500 and have won 8 of 10 and 13 of 15. They're even actually starting to get offensive production and score runs, thanks largely to the strength of Mauer and Morneau, and the unlikely emergence of Brian Buscher and Alexi Casilla, and- finally!- the power-hitting prowess of Jason Kubel.
However, it doesn't seem like the Twins are getting much national press. I've read more than one piece this year that "ran down" the AL Central, and either omitted the Twins entirely or only mentioned them in passing. Meanwhile, Shysterball noticed this:
Google News Search Results as of 5PM on July 2, 2008I bet that would change if one of their stars were romantically linked with Madonna...
"Chicago White Sox" 25,620
"Detroit Tigers" 15,926
"Cleveland Indians" 15,827
"Kansas City Royals" 14,253
"Minnesota Twins" 12,913
"A-Rod's wife leaves him for Lenny Kravitz" is one of those headlines that's instantly unbelievable and instantly hilarious, sort of like "Pee Wee Herman arrested for exposing himself in a movie theater."
He should hook up with Lisa Bonet to make himself feel better. That certainly worked for Cusack in "High Fidelity."
A great, great essay in Time by the ex-TNR editor. My favorite part is the end:
So is wearing the flag pin good or bad? It is both; it all depends on where and why. If you're going to a Young Americans for Freedom meeting, where people think patriotism means "my country right or wrong," leave it at home and tell them about Frederick Douglass, who wouldn't celebrate the Fourth of July while his fellow Americans were in bondage. And if you're going to a meeting of the cultural-studies department at Left-Wing U., where patriotism often means "my country wrong and wronger," slap it on, and tell them about Mike Christian, who lay half-dead in a North Vietnamese jail, stitching an American flag.Beinart totally just blew his chance at an honorary degree from Left Wing U.
And if anyone gives you a hard time, tell him he doesn't know what true patriotism is.
I don't know what's strangest about what I'm watching right now: That the Tampa Bay Rays are in first place, that they're on national television, or that the stadium is full (and loud).
Then again, it's a largely Red Sox crowd. And they keep calling the stadium "The Trop," which I had thought until now was a casino in Atlantic City.
As previously mentioned on a recent Bill Simmons podcast, Chuck Klosterman is spending the semester in Germany, teaching a class on American popular culture, a venture that I'm sure will result in a great book in a year or two.
Anyway, he writes his Esquire column about his students' impressions of American life. In giving them an essay question on "Who do you consider the most interesting twentieth-century American?", Chuck discovered this:
Michael Jackson had more essays written about him than anyone else, which didn't shock me. What did surprise me was how sympathetically he is viewed: The general consensus seems to be that Jackson is an eccentric, philanthropic genius whose nation has turned against him, possibly due to racist motives. However, they do assume he's a child molester. Europeans are open-minded in unorthodox ways.Americans, strangely enough, feel the same way about R. Kelly.
Brad Reed, a contributor to the great Sadly, No blog, provides a list of the 10 Most Awesomely Bad Moments of the Bush Presidency. Among things not making the cut:
warrantless wiretapping; Valerie Plame; Scooter Libby's sentence commuted; Bush believes Rafael Palmeiro is innocent; soldiers face neglect at Walter Reed; signing statements; the Kyoto treaty ripped up; loyalty oaths; the fake turkey; a staged teleconference with troops, staged FEMA press conference, extraordinary rendition, support for junk science; endorsement of neo-creationist "intelligent design"; inaction against global warming; record oil prices; record budget deficits; record trade deficits; record number of Americans without health insurance; two recessions; no-bid contracts; bin Laden still at large; the Federal Marriage Amendment; stem cell research vetoed; waterboarding ban vetoed; "Last throes"; "Old Europe"; "It's hard work"; "Bring it on"; "Yo, Blair!"; "I'm the decider"; "I'm the commander guy"; "I'm a war president"; "This is the guy who tried to kill my dad"; "So?"; "Let the Eagle Soar"; John Bolton; Kenny Boy; Harriet Miers; John Roberts; Sam Alito; Blair talks Bush out of bombing al-Jazeera; Cheney shoots some guy in the face; the Military Commissions Act; Jose Padilla arrested and held without charge or access to counsel; endless tax cuts for the rich; let's waste a shitload of money by sending people to Mars and let's hire some Heritage Foundation staffers to rebuild Iraq.I love that Bush's presidency has been such an epic disaster that the vice president shooting a guy in the face is merely towards the end of the "honorable mention" list.
At any rate, I think I can say with confidence that an Obama Administration would produce nothing nearly as horrific as "Let the Eagle Soar."
The Phillies yesterday, somewhat unbelievably, made their first pitching-related roster move of the season, sending struggling pitcher Brett Myers down to Triple-A Lehigh Valley in an attempt to get his groove back. It's unknown who will take his spot in the rotation; the Phils have used only five starters in the first three months of season.
The Phils' season thus far has consisted of two-and-a-half months of dominance followed by two weeks of run-starved suckiness, but they got back on track last night, beating the Braves in Atlanta 8-3. Throughout the struggles, of course, the team's fans have been completely understanding and patient, very appreciative of the team still being in first place and in no way whatsoever demanding that they get rid of most of their players and/or fire the manager. Especially the WIP caller last night who stated that he would be rooting for the Phils to lose the game because Charlie Manuel had given Geoff Jenkins the swing sign on a 3-0 pitch. Sorry they disappointed him by winning.
Sam Donnellon, meanwhile, has a joke of a column in which he blames the Phils' recent struggles on... their failure to re-sign Aaron Rowand. So he wasn't missed in the first ten weeks of the season, when they outscored their opponents by 100 runs, but a two-week cold streak means they miss his "leadership." Please.
I review "Wall*E" in the Trend this week. This is a movie that, in retrospect, I like a lot more than how I felt when I first reviewed it.
Zach Cone, a high school outfielder from Georgia who was a third-round pick in the June draft, took early batting practice with the Angels on Monday and hit one home run.Cone, like his (presumable) non-relative David Cone, is a lock for the Eckstein Award should he ever make the majors. Then again, I suppose the same goes for James Cone, the founder of black liberation theology.
Cone, who is expected to sign with the Angels this week, met several players, including Hunter, who showed Cone the pay stub from the twice-monthly check he received Monday. Hunter, who is making $16.5 million this season, was razzed by Scioscia and several players for showing the kid his check, but he provided a defense.
"Kirby used to do that to me," Hunter said, referring to former Twins teammate Kirby Puckett. "He did it to motivate me."
Robert Wilensky, of the Voice, apparently the only other critic to recognize my biggest beef with "Hancock":
Hancock is meant to be a hero; it's his purpose. Only he doesn't know why and he doesn't know how. Neither, it seems, do director Peter Berg and writers Vince Gilligan and Vincent Ngo. All seem unsure of how to transition the title character from bum to superman, and rely too heavily on broad comedy's shove or overheated action's kick. Part of this stems from Berg's directorial style: herky-jerky cameras shoved in folks' faces and up their noses. It worked well when he was illuminating cousin Buzz Bissinger's Friday Night Lights; not so much during his bloodthirsty trek through The Kingdom last year. There's nothing subtle about Berg's bludgeoning style; he directs angry
So the Washington Post this morning ran a piece arguing that Obama and his wife got "preferential treatment" on the mortgage when they bought their house in Chicago. A break from Countrywide or one of the evil Big Mortgage firms? Actually no- he probably just has good credit. Nate Silver:
One of the things that ties together my work over here and my work at Baseball Prospectus is that I want the media to be smarter and more accountable when they cite statistical information, be it mortgage rates or polling numbers or batting averages. This article was neither smart nor accountable. It's the equivalent of noting that Alex Rodriguez has a batting average 40 points better than the league average, and using that to infer that the umpires were biased in his favor.I got a pretty good interest rate when I bought my house a year ago; I guess that's another thing, along with my iPod contents, that disqualifies me from the presidency.
Philly.com blogger Will Bunch announced today that he's at work on a book about "The Myth of Ronald Reagan." I greatly look forward to it, since it's about time somebody wrote that book, especially with the right doing everything it can to pretend Reagan held all sorts of positions that he never held. From the announcement:
It was Reagan who not only single-handedly won the Cold War and toppled the Berlin Wall but also caused the greatest economic turnaround in American history, and that's not all. It was Reagan who looked Iran in the eye and caused them to give up our hostages in a matter of minutes, who taught us that "deficits don't matter" and was steadfast about never increasing taxes, who never compromised, who reduced federal spending and ended big government -- as so many political candidates have told us. He was the most popular president in modern American history -- and if only he were still in the White House today, he would have dealt sternly with illegal immigrants and appointed hard-line conservatives to the Supreme Court -- but we know he would never negotiate with terrorists, "cut and run" from a difficult military situation, or talk to our enemies.See Bunch's post for links to sources stating that no, in fact, Reagan actually did very few of those things. And that's as good an explanation of anything as to the failure of the Bush presidency- he governed in a style much closer to that of the Pretend Reagan than that of the Real Reagan.
Police discover man fighting with selfIt doesn't say whether or not he won.
Police arrested a Mesa man Monday night after they received a report of a couple fighting, but found the man fighting with himself.
Officers were dispatched shortly after 9:30 p.m. after it was reported that a male and female were breaking things inside an apartment in the 300 block of East Fifth Avenue near Broadway Road and Mesa Drive.
When police arrived they discovered a 21-year-old man changing the pitch of his voice to act out both sides of the fighting couple.
Oh, what a huge, huge mess "Hancock" is. It's so bad its Tomatometer score has dropped (from 30 to 29 percent) just while I've been typing this.
Is it exciting? Does it have interesting, satirical things to see about the superhero genre? Does it at least look cool? No, no, and no. The plot is weak, the characters are cyphers, the humor is practically non-existent and- worst of all- the visual style is just ugly. Director Peter Berg, for some reason, shoots the entire movie- not just the actions scenes, but EVERY scene, with a jittery, constantly shaking hand-held camera. And even worse, every scene is in EXTREME CLOSE-UP, for no apparent reason.
When they show a football game on TV, do the cameras shake violently, while lights flash and no shot lasts more than 2 or 3 seconds? Of course not (except for in "Any Given Sunday"). Why not? Because that way we wouldn't be able to tell what the hell is going on, who's winning, and why. So why should action movies be any different? Why must we be bludgeoned, with "stylistic" editing, even though it leads to incomprehensibility?
Is "Hancock" worse than "Speed Racer"? I think it is. For all its other faults, "Speed Racer" at least looked cool.
Your instructions are as follows:#5 is Jane's Addiction's "Been Caught Stealing," which isn't disqualifying by itself, although it is from their album where the cover art had the three naked women.
1. Take out your iPod (or Zune, I guess...really, who buys a Zune?)
2. Press shuffle songs.
3. Answer the following: a) How many songs before you come to one that would absolutely disqualify you from being President? b) What is that song?
4. Leave your answers.
#7, James Brown's "Say It Loud (I'm Black and I'm Proud)," might raise questions about my long-ago ties to the Minneapolis black power movement.
#19, The Rolling Stones' "Mother's Little Helper" is a full-throated defense of prescription drug abuse by mothers of young children.
#27, Bobby Brown's "Don't Be Cruel," raises significant questions about my taste in music.
#28, The Strokes' "The End is the End." Only out-of-touch Northern elitists listen to the Strokes.
#30 is the cover of "Stayin' Alive" by this group, which should be enough to finish off the Silver presidential bid completely. But how would they talk about it on the news?
I saw a commercial the other morning that so horrified me that I've been hoping since then that I just imagined it (it's not on YouTube or anything, so that may be the case.)
It's a tourism spot for Maine, and the slogan is "It's Not Just For Lobster Lovers." So we see a guy about to get into bed, before the camera pans to his partner, who is... a lobster! Get it? He's a lobster lover, because his lover is a lobster!
Then we see all sorts of other cool stuff that Maine has to offer, before we return to the lobster fornicator once again. So the lesson is, if you don't have sex with lobsters, you're just as welcome in Maine as those who do, or those who merely eat them.