The Pittsburgh Pirates have been selling off the rest of their remaining veteran players this season, their umpteenth rebuilding project since the team's last winning season in 1992. No, they haven't made the playoffs since their best players were a skinny Barry Bonds and Kyle Drabek's father.
This got me thinking- I think the Pirates are about due to become good again. Pittsburgh's a great sports town, that never has trouble fielding winning teams in football or hockey (champions both this year.) Not to mention, the franchise has a pretty illustrious history, and plays in one of the best stadiums in the game. How awesome would it be if there were a Phillies-Pirates playoff series?
News Item: Twins trade for Orlando Cabrera
Remember when he went to the Red Sox at the deadline and they won the World Series? I'm sure the Twins do, since they were one of the four teams in that trade. He's having a better week than certain other 2004 Red Sox that I can think of.
Here's the trailer for the new Coen Bros. film. Let's see, it's the Coens, it was filmed in St. Louis Park, and it's about Jewish intellectuals. I don't think any movie in history has been more in my wheelhouse:
You're not surprised, so please don't pretend you are.
You've not been betrayed, so please don't claim to be.
The Red Sox' championship in 2004 is no more tainted than any other championship won by any other team in at least the past 20 years, so please don't even go there.
Now, with that out of the way, you may resume your regularly-scheduled outrage.
Jeffrey Goldberg on the "self-hating Jew" charge:
If I'm a self-hating Jew, then anyone who is not a rabid, land-stealing settler is a self-hating Jew. I believe such a category exists -- though in my experience, the Jews who hate being Jewish and afflict the rest of us with their hatred generally tend, in an overall way, to love themselves very much. But what you have in this debate over self-hating Jews -- remember, there's a report out that Bibi himself has called Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod self-hating Jews -- is the hijacking of Judaism by a group of extremists who have conflated support for the settlement project with love for Israel and the Jewish people.Amen to that. I don't believe in calling people self-hating Jews. There are a whole lot of Jewish people who are very, very wrong on the question of Israel these days- whether on the unrealistically-dovish side or the nutty absolutist settler side- but I don't believe in imputing peoples' motives in that way when I don't know what's in their heart. But I agree with Goldberg- the people who cause most of the trouble in the world are the ones with too much self-esteem.
The newly-famous Batting Stance Guy re-enacts my favorite moment ever in baseball:
He much more resembles Charlie Liebrandt than he does Puckett, of course.
UPDATE: Damn, video disabled. Here it is.
I'm not generally big on proposing pretend trades- this unintentionally hilarious Don McKee column the other day is an anti-classic of the genre- but here's an idea:
Phillies trade Rodrigo Lopez to the Twins for Nick Punto. The Phils now have seven starters and Lopez is the odd man out; since he has a 3-0 record and has looked pretty strong, so he actually has some trade value. The Twins need a starter, with Kevin Slowsky out for the season, and it would be good to have at least one veteran in the rotation. The Phillies could ease their rotation logjam, while Punto could slide into the utility infielder role and allow the Phils to jettison Eric Bruntlett. The Twins, meanwhile, have enough mediocre infielders that they won't miss Punto, plus if he goes Gardenhire won't ever be tempted to put him in the starting lineup again.
Since the Phillies got Cliff Lee the biggest concern is that the Phillies now have, literally, more pitching than they know what to do with. Before Wednesday they had a rotation of Hamels, Happ, Blanton, Moyer and Lopez, with Pedro Martinez to come next week; Lee makes seven. Conventional wisdom says that Lopez will be traded or sent down, with Happ possibly going to the bullpen once Martinez is ready.
Here's a better idea- why not go with a six-man rotation (all of the above but Lopez) for the rest of the regular season? It'll give everyone some extra rest for the remainder of the year, especially the young guys (Hamels and Happ) who have already thrown more innings than they normally have, not to mention the 46-year-old Moyer and the hasn't-pitched-in-a-year Pedro. And besides, they're so far ahead in the NL East it's not like they'll be in a pennant race.
Now I suppose it's possible that the reason no one ever does this is because it screws up pitchers' rhythm, but I think it's the best option.
Conor Friedersdorf on the Birthers and Trig Truthers:
"As evident is that public officials are under no “transparency” obligation to address all questions. Were the right fringe to allege that Barack Obama is in fact a woman, and demand a photograph of his penis to definitively prove otherwise, and the left fringe retaliated by alleging that Sarah Palin is a man, and requested the same sort of photographic proof, Andrew would surely join me in concluding that both politicians have some right to privacy. Right?...Someone should make and sell T-shirts with a silkscreen of Obama's certificate of live birth. That would be AWESOME.
The standard these critics prefer would seem to be, “If a conspiracy theory’s truth would make a politician out to be a liar, he or she must do everything in their power to refute it.” Again, I find that transparency standard untenable, and so should you, unless you’re prepared to react to an “Obama’s a woman” conspiracy by asking Barack Obama for a naked photo."
News Item: Philadelphia Turkey comedy site shuts down
I loved this site- a local, super-savvy version of The Onion, with lots of hilarious sports and political humor, and I'm sad to see it go. I'll greatly miss the "News Youse Can Use."
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
|Moment of Zen - Dick Morris Was Wrong|
Deadspin takes us through all of the ESPN headlines of the "Is Favre retiring?" saga:
"Sources: Favre anguished over choice," July 24And the story was finally broken by... Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune. Great job, ESPN!
"Sources: Favre throws for Vikings," July 13
"Source: Favre to be monitored in Miss.," June 12
"Sources: Vikings back off Favre some," June 10
"Sources: Vikings want answer this week," June 9
"Source: Favre doesn't want surgery," May 19
"Source: Favre looking for options," May 15
"Source: Favre, Vikings to meet," May 7
"Sources: Favre won't need major surgery," Dec. 30, 2008
"Source: Favre has 'itch' to return; player calls it 'rumor,'" July 3, 2008
How long until Fox "exposes" that it's not that big a deal and the white people did nothing wrong? I'm guessing four days.
After I turned on Mike Missanelli today, three of the first four callers reacted to the Cliff Lee deal by suggesting some scenario in which the Phils either package Lee along with other prospects, or simply trade all their remaining prospects to the Blue Jays for Halladay. What, do they think the Phils need eight starting pitchers?
Raise your hand if you're surprised:
[Agent Bus] Cook appeared on Sportscenter Wednesday and would not rule out Favre possibly returning to play for the Vikings at some point this season.Of course. This will never end. Ever.
Cook said he "doesn't foresee any of that happening right now." (Our italics, since you can't italicize while speaking out loud.)
Cook also spoke about what type of situation would attract Favre: "I don't think he'd go to a team unless it was a contender. In fact, he probably wouldn't go to a team unless its the Minnesota Vikings."
Drew Magary has some salient thoughts.
Rosenthal on the latest Phillies rumors:
The Phillies are in discussions with the Indians to obtain left-hander Cliff Lee and possibly another player for Class A right-hander Jason Knapp, Class AAA right-hander Carlos Carrasco, shortstop Jason Donald and catcher Lou Marson, according to a major-league source.So they have a chance to get two years of the reigning AL Cy Young winner, WITHOUT giving up Kyle Drabek, J.A. Happ, Dominic Brown OR Michael Taylor? WOW. Forget Halliday!
Are we sure someone didn't hack Rosenthal's email? Because that happened yesterday about some Red Sox/Halliday rumor.
UPDATE: Done deal! It is astounding to me that this was all they had to give up, for a solid top-of-the-rotation guy. The only problem for the Phils? Too many starters. There's nowhere in the rotation for Pedro Martinez or Rodrigo Lopez. The Phils also get right-handed bench bat Ben Francisco.
Sucks to be J.P. Ricciardi.
Paul Waldman has a great piece knocking down all the silly arguments against health care reform. The slam at Dick Morris, as usual, is my favorite part.
News Item: Brett Favre says he won't return to NFL
So that's the end of it. Maybe. Unless he changes his mind again, somehow getting the itch in the second week of training camp. Or perhaps, in mid-October, when the 2-4 Vikings are floudering with Tarvaris and Sage. And even if he doesn't, you know it'll be rumored again and again for the next five months.
Yes, he screwed us, led us on and let us down. I just hope the Vikings can find a good quarterback- any good quarterback- before Adrian Peterson's prime is over.
As for MIchael Vick? No. By god, no. It's a bad idea for a myriad of reasons, from his likely suspension to his general suckiness in the West Coast offense to likelihood of a national media circus even worse than Favre's. But the biggest reason of all to say no is that the Vikes are a team with major likability problems, where everyone in town hates the coach and they couldn't even sell out a home playoff game last year. You think bringing in a guy who frickin' murdered dogs is going to solve that particular problem? Help get a stadium built?
All in all, Vikings fans now hate Brett Favre, just as they did for the past 16 years. All is again right with the world- just not right with the Vikes.
Phil Sheridan, always willing to wade into this topic when most of his colleagues aren't, had it all right in Tuesday's Inquirer column on last weekend's ugly incidents:
To the rest of the world, we are the city that booed Santa, that throws dangerous objects at professional athletes, that brawls and boos and urinates in sinks, and intimidates fans of other teams, whether they're visiting here or attending games in their own home stadiums.This isn't true of all or even most Philadelphia fans, of course. But to claim that the Philly fan reputation is completely unfounded and nothing but the creation of national media pundits is to simply deny what's right under your nose.
It would be naïve and dishonest to pretend we didn't earn the reputation, at least in part. And if you spend any time around Philadelphia fans, you can tell the rep inspires a sort of twisted pride as well as resentment at being stereotyped by outsiders. We're like those old-timers who talk about growing up in the roughest part of town as if it's a badge of honor.
But there's also an element - a small minority, usually fueled by adult beverages and childish impulses - that strives to live up to the rep. These are the people who can't see that line between passion and pride in your team and ignorant brutality. They can't see it, most of them, because they don't understand that it even exists.
Philadelphia fans probably can't change their image, at least not any time soon. But we can start acting to take the ballpark and the stadium and the arena and the parking lots back. If it really is true that most fans are responsible and well-behaved and passionate, and I believe (and hope) that it is, then they are the ones who have to take control.
I'll have a full review of "Funny People" later in the week, but I couldn't help notice that the film contains an extended sequence using MySpace for product placement. How instantly dated is that? It's two social-network crazes ago!
I pity the makers of the upcoming Facebook biopic, which is guaranteed to come out in two years, once everyone has stopped using Facebook.
The longtime Eagles defensive coordinator passed away from cancer Tuesday at the age of 68. The rare Philadelphia sports figure who was pretty much universally loved (much like the also recently deceased Harry Kalas), Johnson was a major part of the Eagles' recent run of success, and will be greatly missed.
Wow, and here I didn't think the modern day Mets would ever sink lower than when they made Willie Randolph fly to the West Coast before firing him, but they've outdone themselves with yesterday's lunatic press conference. Blaming a reporter and questioning his motives due to a phantom conflict of interest- while not in any way challenging any of the content of his actual reporting- must've been a trick Omar learned from the Bush-Cheney White House.
I unload on America's dumbest political movement in a new North Star column.
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
|Quitter - Leave Sarah Palin Alone|
"Resignation Picnic"- I think that's the likely title for The Hold Steady's next album.
Shatner, on Conan, recites the work of a mediocre 21st century Alaskan poet:
8:58pm: Joe Christensen of The Star Tribune says the Twins asked about Halladay, but were told they weren't on the list of teams he would approve a trade to.It's hard to keep track of the various information and disinformation and smokescreens, but my hunch now is that Halliday's not going anywhere, unless some dumb team gives up all seven of their best prospects.
Johnny Goodtimes of iSportacus has an interesting take on the Citizen's Bank Park beating death this weekend- that Phillies games are being invaded by... drunken, scary Eagles fans:
I did notice something change when the Phils went on their run last year in the playoffs. I remember being in McFadden’s after a game last September thinking, “Who in the hell are these people?” They did not look like the kind of people that normally attended Phils games. They looked more like Mets fans, with lots of jean shorts and wife beaters, and they seemed way more drunk than baseball fans tend to get, with that angry, blank, drunken stare that, even though I work in bars, never fails to make me a bit nervous. Were the drunken zombies who for so many years bled Eagle green now on the Phillies bandwagon, and determined to turn Citizen’s Bank Park into Thunderdome? Impossible to say, quantifiably. But it sure seemed that way. And the Phillies didn’t seem to mind, continuing to hold Dollar Dog Nights long after it became apparent that they were little more than an excuse for young people to get trashed beyond belief and hold the rest of the fans hostage with their obnoxious antics.Between the murder and a bunch of idiots imitating high school students from 1997 by shooting laser pointers at Cardinals players, not the best weekend for the reputation of Philadelphia sports fans. Even Mike Missanelli, who usually treats any anti-Philly fan sentiment like it's a hate crime, said on the air today that he was embarrassed and couldn't defend Philly today.
Still, a bachelor party at the ballpark ending in murder is pretty damn scary- I mean, I had my bachelor party at Citizen's Bank Park too.
Dem Rep. Neil Abercrombie of Hawaii is going to introduce a resolution on the House floor today that seems designed to put House GOPers who are flirting with birtherism in a jam.My anti-birther column will be published tomorrow, so I'm looking forward to receiving hate mail from crazy people throughout the day- which also happens to be my birthday. D'oh.
The measure Abercrombie will introduce commemorates the 50th anniversary of Hawaii’s statehood. But here’s the rub, his spokesman tells me: It describes Hawaii as Barack Obama’s birthplace.
“In the language of the resolution, there is a statement that Hawaii is the birthplace of the 44th President of the United States,” Abercrombie spokesman Dave Helfert confirms.
That confronts House GOPers with a choice: They can vote for the measure, and endorse the idea that Obama was born in Hawaii, which could earn the wrath of birthers. Or they can vote against commemorating the 50th state’s joining of our blessed Union.
The Pioneer Press' Tom Powers runs through the weirdest Twins in history, on the occasion of the Dome closing. My favorite:
Tommy Herr — A second baseman, Herr is the oddest man I've ever met in baseball and the key ingredient in general manager Andy MacPhail's worst trade ever: Herr for Tom Brunansky. Tommy would sit in front of his locker stark naked, drinking a beer, smoking a cigarette, and stuffing religious tracts into his fan mail.I'm still mad about that trade 21 years later- the Twins wouldn't make a worse trade until the double whammy of Santana/Mets and Garza/Young, two decades later. They must've been really impressed by the homer Herr hit against them in the '87 World Series.
Bill Simmons, for the first time in years, drags out his "movie quotes" column construction, this time using "Almost Famous," which he calls the defining movie of the decade.
Now, I love "Almost Famous," and I have no idea why Cameron Crowe hasn't been on Bill's podcast yet, and I'd probably put in the top ten for the '00s. But I don't see how a period piece set in the '70s can be the defining movie of the '00s. I'd say "Eternal Sunshine" is a better contender for the #1 spot.
News Item: Target Field sod to arrive August 24
Ken Levine discusses one of Hollywood's most loathsome actresses. Yea, if someone takes herself out of Emmy consideration because she's unhappy with the material the writers are giving her, she's not going to be Ms. Popularity with the writing community. Plus, I'm getting a little sick of her super-shrill movie persona- "The Ugly Truth" was absolutely terrible, probably the second-worst movie of the summer.
I review the excellent "(500) Days of Summer" on Philly.com.
I didn't think Dr. Scholl's would ever produce a worse, more annoying commercial than the epic "I'm Gellin'" series, but they've outdone themselves:
It's like they saw the two-faced ticket agent from Southwest and decided "yea, we need more of that!"
Michelle Goldberg on the soon-to-be-former governor of Alaska, who has "little more chance of actually becoming president than Al Sharpton":
Ever since she pranced into the limelight last summer, Sarah Palin has been making liberals like me crazy. She embodies almost everything loathsome about the modern Republican Party—its brutish anti-intellectualism, its Christianist extremism, and its smug provincialism. Her nomination was identity politics of the crudest sort, engineered by men who imagined that disappointed Hillary Clinton voters would chuck all their principles out of gender solidarity and rally to a candidate of the religious right. (The same geniuses envisioned the buffoonish Michael Steele as a right-wing answer to Barack Obama.) Palin is a beauty-queen Elmer Gantry, outdoing Stephen Colbert in cheesy, braying nationalism. She’s terrifying. And now that she’s stepping down as governor, I hope we see a lot more of her.I'm really sick of pro-Palin people on the right saying the left only hates Palin so much because they're "afraid" of her. Please- saying we're about as afraid of Palin is like accusing the Republicans of being afraid of John Edwards.
News Item: Fan beaten to death outside Phillies game
I already know what the next week of commentary is going to be- "Philly fans are monsters!" vs. "How dare the media say Philly fans are monsters!" The proper reaction is that, regardless of the city, this sort of violence has no place at a ballgame.
I find this photograph intensely horrifying:
Remind me again why this woman is considered a "fashion icon"?
I've got a roundup of a bunch of the wonderful, tiny new computers at E-Gear.
G. Gordon Liddy half-heartedly argues the birther position on Chris Matthews:
If Liddy had fallen asleep halfway through that, I wouldn't have been remotely surprised.
From Mark Eckel's latest:
As far as getting that bat off the bench to supplant either Eric Bruntlett or John Mayberry Jr., who together are hitting .301 (Mayberry is at .173 and Bruntlett is at .128), the Phils reportedly asked about Colorado's Ryan Spilborghs.I really, really hope Eckel knows that batting average is a percentage out of 1,000, and if you combine two players' averages, you then divide by 2,000. Therefore, Bruntlett and Mayberry's combined batting average is not .301, but rather .154.
If Eckel is kidding, good. If not, this is the worst math mistake by a Philly sports pundit since the time Jack McCaffrey said on the radio that the reason the National League is worse than the American League is because it has two more teams, and therefore the NL has 50 players who otherwise wouldn't be in the majors.
Because he's been so decisive for the past seven months.
James Poniewozik of Time on the birthers:
This theory has been around for years, was hot on the Internet during the election, has been thoroughly debunked, and at this point, requires the belief in a birth-certificate forgery, the complicity of Hawaii's government, misunderstanding of U.S. passport law, an elaborate deception plan hatched by Obama's parents at his birth, the collusion of Hawaiian newspapers in 1961 and, I don't know, possibly the use of a time machine.Poniewozik, clearly, is part of the conspiracy too.
It is not just tinfoil-hat stuff, but full-tinfoil-bodysuit stuff. It deserves as much credence as the fake-moon-landing theory got on the 40th anniversary of Apollo.
Stewart tees off:
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
|The Born Identity|
How do we know Shane Victorino was REALLY born in Hawaii? I mean, I haven't seen his birth certificate, HAVE YOU?????
I think until these questions have been answered, the Phillies should be banned from selling "Flyin' Hawaiian" bobbleheads, until all legal challenges have been exhausted.
Yes, rabbis AND organ traffickers! Best indictment ever.
The mayor of Hoboken, who took office 22 days ago, has already been indicted, which has to be a record even for New Jersey. Hell, it took Vince Fumo almost 40 years to be indicted.
All that and more in this week's Week in Electronics Retail Crime roundup.
Here's what Target Field looks like. Can't f'n wait.
I'm not enough of an expert on health care policy to accurately assess much of what the president said tonight, but I will say this: that Henry Louis Gates answer was gutsy as hell. Nine politicians out of ten would have dodged the question or changed the subject or something else. Instead, Obama forcefully defended his friend and even went so far as to say the cops, who arrested a man for trying to enter his own house, were acting "stupid."
I can already hear Hannity tomorrow: "He called all police officers stupid!"
Despite ESPN's inexplicable behavior in regards to the Roethlisberger thing, I'm all for them here. The Post, in all facets, as operated for years as though the rules of journalism don't apply, this is only a new low.
Then again, is there anyone from the Post who ever appears on ESPN? It's not like Phil Mushnick is an "Around the Horn" regular or something.
"The Birfer theory really boggles me: I can't even understand the thought process involved. Obama's been a (very minor, initially) public figure since at least his time as editor of the Harvard Law Review, and at the very least since then there's never been any change in his biography, in which he was born to Stanley Ann Dunham in the state of Hawai'i, a birth that was announced in the local paper. What exactly do these nutcases surmise - that he wasn't born to Dunham, but instead was born to some other woman overseas and smuggled as a newborn to Dunham's hospital? What possible reason could a newlywed college student have for doing such a thing? How would it make any sense? Even in their most unhinged fantasies, why would Obama's family have plotted from his infancy to fake the location of his birth and the identity of his mother? After all, anyone born to Dunham or anyone born in Hawai'i would be a natural-born US citizen even if they'd been the hideously malformed extraterrestrial lovechild of Ming The Merciless and Josef Stalin.One thing I don't get about this is, why does the "you must produce your birth certificate!" standard apply only to Obama, and not to any other public figure or political figure in the world?
Dave Weigel, one of the better chroniclers of the Obama-era right-wing meltdown, was on with Maddow last night:
Rob Neyer on the Halladay Question:
Leaving aside his bloated ERA, Hamels is pitching just as well as he did last year. Blanton's pitching just as well as he did last year. Moyer's struggling, almost entirely because he's giving up far too many home runs. Happ is pitching better this year than Brett Myers -- a rotation mainstay in 2008 -- pitched last year.
Fundamentally, the Phillies' top four starters right now are just as good as the Phillies' top four starters last year. And just in case anyone's forgotten, last year the Phillies won the World Series.
So I'm begging you and everyone you know, please stop saying the Phillies need Roy Halladay or anyone else. The Phillies, right now, are good enough to win the World Series again. They would need a bit of luck, of course, but that's true of any team. The notion that adding Halladay would suddenly turn the Phillies into big favorites is preposterous, for the simple reason that baseball doesn't work that way.
In his last ESPN the Magazine column, Sports Guy pays tribute to his dad, retiring as the superintendent of schools in Easton, Mass. A great read.
Yea, clearly the Phillies need Roy Halladay, and can't win without him. And how dumb does this look now?
Alonso Duralde of MSNBC on the aptly named "The Ugly Truth":
Heigl, it should be noted, is one of the film’s executive producers. That she had the gall to complain about the sexism of “Knocked Up” while spearheading “The Ugly Truth” — a film in which the female lead is an uptight twit who is constantly put in her place — is astounding... Butler never makes Mike more than a sitcom stereotype of a knuckle-dragging sexist; it doesn’t help that cinematographer Russell Carpenter seems to have conspired with the hair and makeup people to make the usually handsome actor look like a walking amalgam of the worst facets of all four Baldwin brothers.If you're thinking about going to do this, see "(500) Days of Summer" instead. Please. You'll thank me.
I thoroughly enjoyed this:
Sean Hannity, two other conservatives, and Tom Arnold. Fox, fair and balanced as always.
I look at the first great Iraq War movie, "The Hurt Locker," in this week's North Star column.
Shysterball, on Topic A in Philly right now:
This would be the same Phillies team that is now 6.5 games up? I mean sure, he'd be nice to have around, but do you really mortgage the future for a marginal improvement in a race you already stand an excellent chance of winning easily? Gammons says in the article that "One player does make a huge difference," with the implication that in the postseason, having that ace could mean the difference between a championship or going home empty handed. History, however, doesn't bear that out.I would love it if the Phils brought Halladay in, but the idea that they can't win the World Series without him is just ridiculous. They did it last year, after all.
The Brewers may have made the postseason because of CC Sabathia, but he didn't get them anywhere in the playoffs. Same with the Cubs and Rich Harden. Go back further and the story repeats itself with the 1987 Detroit Tigers and Doyle Alexander. Same goes for just about every team to trade for an arm at the deadline in recent history, because in the past 30 years, the only starting pitcher acquired midseason to win a World Series game was St. Louis' Jeff Weaver in 2006, and he was a salary dump. Weigh all that against the guys who were traded away for those putative final pieces of the puzzle: John Smoltz, Jeff Bagwell, Derek Lowe, Jason Varitek. The list goes on and on.
Some fact-checking, from last week's appearance by the Grand Wizard of MSNBC:
Yes, he's a reverse-Civil rights leader!
|The Colbert Report||Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c|
A hilarious recap by Choire Sicha, which is much better than the real show.
News Item: Voltron movie in the works
Cracked attacks the Black Eyed Peas' newest abomination, which can't even be redeemed by gratuitous uses of "Mazel Tov" and "L'Chaim":
One disagreement: he calls it the "worst song ever," but "My Humps" was much, much worse.
As you've probably noticed, I've decided, after five years or so, to change the color scheme here. I felt like it was time for a change, plus I'd been told by a lot of people over the years that the bright-red background was hurting their eyes.
We're still working out the kinks, and feedback as always is welcome.
My review is Bruno is up at Philly.com.
It was one of those goofy political moments last Thursday night, when Zell Miller said, of the president's frequent travels, that "I think Rahm Emanuel ought to get some Gorilla Glue and put it in that chair in the Oval Office." MSNBC briefly went crazy, with the implication that Miller's reference to "gorilla glue" was some sort of racial slur, until someone presumably alerted Chris Matthews that Gorilla Glue is an actual product.
But the funniest part came the next day, when the actual Gorilla Glue company sent out a press release, that for some reason reached my mailbox:
The Gorilla Glue Company Responds to Zell Miller's Recent Comments
We Do Not Advocate Attempting to Glue the Leader of the Free World to His Chair
• In response to Zell Miller's recent comments, The Gorilla Glue Company sends letter to President Obama.
• The response was sent today from the desk of Peter Ragland, President, The Gorilla Glue Company.
• The Gorilla Glue Company does not advocate the gluing of President Obama to his chair with their product.
I was sorry to see that Walter Cronkite passed away Friday. Now, I was pretty young- only three- when he last did the news, but I have surprisingly clear memories of watching him with my parents. They certainly don't make news anchors like him anymore, and with him dies another part of the once-glorious history of the news business.
After Obama was seen with beer in hand at the Wizards game, callers lit up the lines at WWL, a sports radio station in Louisiana, according to the station’s website.Because clearly, the president is required to take a vow of poverty until the end of the recession, and must certainly refrain from such expensive, luxurious items as beer. But look on the bright side- Obama is now on the "beer track."
“People are losing 5, 10, 20,000 dollars a day in the stock market, and he’s sitting there drinking a beer,” one caller said. “It’s insulting. There’s a lot of people suffering.”
In this week's New Yorker:
Baseball really should think about adding the 100 hole. Someone will only hit it once every five years or so, but it would still be awesome. Sort of like the 8-run homer in the old Rock 'n' Jock Softball Game.
Here's E-Gear's list of the 25 must-have products this summer. I, as of yet, have none of the 25.
So driving to work on 95 this morning, I saw a billboard for an event with the Kardashians at the Hilton in Atlantic City later this month.
Now, I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm a fan of "Keeping Up the Kardashians" (well, maybe a little bit ashamed...) The TV show is enjoyable, but I can't for the life of me figure out what the Kardashians would do for a live show. They don't sing, they don't dance, they don't act... now, if Kim were to, say, re-enact her sex tape live on stage, I'd imagine that would be a pretty hot ticket, but I don't think that's what it is.
Turns out... it's just a meet and greet of some kind. Looks like I'm busy that day.
Did Bon Jovi really see a million faces and rock them all? An exhaustive investigation.
I've never read "Infinite Jest" and I missed the start of the "infinite Summer" project, but I'm a big fan of David Foster Wallace's essays, so I think I might have to take the plunge and read it. Jason Kottke has some advice:
Some readers have found it useful to rip the book in half for easier reading on the subway or on the beach. If you do this, you also need to tear the footnotes from the back half and tape them to front half. This technique has the side effect of giving you the appearance of A Very Serious Reader of Infinite Jest, which will either keep onlookers' questions to a minimum or maximum, depending on the onlooker.It's also, apparently, the only book ever written that requires three bookmarks.
It's all he is, and all he's ever been:
Good for Maddow for calling him out on his bullshit, which few people on MSNBC- which is supposed to be the ultra-left-wing network- ever get around to doing.
All that and more in my new crime update up at Dealerscope.com.
"This narrative is largely true! Anyone who pays close attention to DC journalism can easily spot intellectually dishonest hacks writing stuff they don’t actually believe, whether to advance their careers or to further a political agenda by the most cynical means imaginable. A blogger could write five posts a day fisking political journalism that is either astonishingly ignorant or disingenuous – and a Washington DC journalist doesn’t have to attend very many happy hours to hear people basically admit that they are hacks who don’t actually believe significant parts of their oeuvres. What vexes me, having observed this game over the last couple years, is that the people accused of being inside-the-beltway sellouts are often the folks who write exactly what they believe; whereas the kinds of publications that rank-and-file conservatives revere for “never selling out” actually do so all the time."But, but... what about about the Washington cocktail parties?
One of my favorite SNL sketches ever:
Long Dong being called "Mr. Silver" was always my favorite part.
Paul Waldman, The American Prospect:
"What's so bizarre is not just that Palin and her defenders are so consumed with every attack on her, but that they seem unaware that the same thing happens to every politician of such prominence in America today -- just ask Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. It may not be pleasant, but it's part of the bargain of running for national office. A politician who built her career on resentment and sneering contempt – of the "elite," of the media, of liberals, of people who live in cities, of anyone who didn't share her particular values – just couldn't take it when people sneered back."Yes, Sarah Palin is the "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" of political figures. A whole lot less popular though, thankfully.
"Larry Sanders" gets all the credit, but I always thought IGSS was brilliant- and I haven't watched it in probably 15 years. It also had one of the best TV theme songs ever:
"The GOP interpretation of King's dream is a panel of white men demanding to know whether the first Latina SCOTUS nominee is a racist"-Adam Serwer, via Twitter.
A pretty uneventful All-Star Game, leading again to the inevitable AL victory. A few thoughts:
- Obama looked all right throwing out the first pitch, but why cut off the ball landing in the catcher's mitt? It must be more of Fox's famous liberal bias. I really liked him in the booth though, as he's much more natural and comfortable than either Buck or McCarver.
- I'm no fan of Buck, of course, but how nerve-wracking must it have been to call a game while simultaneously interviewing the president? Then again, I'm sure the Artie Lange incident was much, much more uncomfortable for him.
- First pitch right before 9 Eastern. NOT a good idea. At least the game ended in two and a half hours.
- I enjoyed the parade of St. Louis legends, but despite it all, it just wasn't right to me that Mark McGwire wasn't there. Come on, couldn't he have shown up and slipped out without talking to the media?
- During the interview with Roy Halladay after he pitched, his microphone suddenly went out. I bet he was saying "trade me to the Phillies! Please! Please! Please!," but we'll never know for sure.
- Funniest moment of the night- the camera finding Bud Selig, having his ear talked off by... George Will. So I guess Will has the ear of the commissioner, or perhaps the commissioner has the ear of Will.
- Second-funniest moment of the night- when the announcers pointed out that Tim Wakefield is the second-oldest first-time All-Star in history, behind only Satchel Paige. Not exactly an analogous situation unless, say, knuckleballers had been segregated for all this time from regular baseball, and, until recently, had to have their own league. The Niekro Leagues.
- "All About the Roosevelts?" Really, Taco Bell? Between that and the witless parody of "Escape (the Pina Colada Song)," it might've been the single biggest multi-commercial whiff by a major advertiser at one event ever.
A montage from Kevin Pollak and Friends:
"Only one of my seven wives was really a man. Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, hello!"
As you try to decide whether or not it's justified to trade Kyle Drabek in a deal for Roy Halladay, try not to be influenced by people who can't spell "Kyle Drabek." Reminds me of all the talk show callers a few years ago demanding that the Eagles trade Donovan McNabb to the Bears for "Kevin Hester."
This Israeli cell phone commercial, in which Israeli soldiers play soccer, over the West Bank wall, with unseen Palestinians on the other side, has drawn a ton of controversy, but I think it's sort of cool:
Call it peace through sports.
Matt Miller on health care in the FT:
The Republican charge that Barack Obama is seeking a “government takeover” of US healthcare is further proof that American political rhetoric has become detached from reality. In fact, once you take away the proposed public insurance option, which Mr Obama’s aides have signalled they will drop in final negotiations, the likely outcome is an affordable reform that embraces Mitt Romney’s blueprint from Massachusetts and funds it with John McCain’s best idea from the presidential campaign.Because clearly, the establishment of a health care exchange means that America will never be free again.
Only in America can you co-opt Republican thinking and have critics label you “socialist”
Be more racist. What else would he say?
From McSweeneys: The Sotomayor hearings, as hosted by the 1977 Kansas City Royals
I hope Sonia has a more successful next three decades than the Royals have been since '77.
Dom Giordano, on 1210 last night, had as his first guest... Rick Santorum. Then he had as his second guest... Sean Salisbury. It's like he was collecting all of my least-favorite people in America.
News Item: Twins call up pitcher Kevin Mulvey
It's the Twins' latest chapter in their doomed attempt to salvage the Santana trade; don't worry, the Blue Jays will be doing the same thing in two years. And just as I will always call Kevin Slowey "Slowsky," his fellow Kevin will always be Mulva to me.
I look into the debate over the "mixed legacies" of Michael Jackson, Steve McNair and Robert McNamara, in a new North Star column. It's all a mere dress rehearsal for Ted Kennedy's upcoming death.
Batting Stance Guy on Letterman:
His intro music-"Buffalo Stance" by Neneh Cherry! One of the weirdest pop songs of all time.
The world waits with baited breath to see where Roy Halladay goes- Dan Levy on Twitter last night was hoping he'd tear off his AL hat, wrestling-style, during the All-Star Game and replace it with a Phillies one- which is certain to be an exciting story to follow leading up to the trade deadline in two weeks. I'm looking forward to checking MLBTradeRumors.com 50 times a day during that time.
An observation: I love that every fan has an opinion over whether the Phillies should or shouldn't trade Kyle Drabek or Michael Taylor or Dominic Brown or Joe Savery, when 99 percent of them have never seen any of those players play a single time. You're going entirely by minor league stats and reputation, both of which have been wildly historically inaccurate when it comes to prospects.
This isn't a Philly-only phenomenon; all of a sudden, fans are all extremely interested in who's playing at Class A, who the NBA and NFL draft prospects are for three years from now, etc. But let's not pretend we actually know anything about any of these people. It's like people complaining about which player their team drafted in the 7th round- I've got a feeling the team's scouts know a bit more about these players than you do.
The latest Autotune the News:
And no, Palin makes no more sense in autotune than the rest of the time.
ShysterBall goes back in time for this morning's recap.
I review "Public Enemies," which should have been significantly better than it actually was, on Philly.com.
My household now has 100 percent less Comcast, now that we've switched to Fios for TV and Internet (we don't have a home phone). So far, so good- the user interface is better looking and easier to use than Comcast's, and I like the DVR a lot better too.
There's a lot more HD channels too, and I also have an insane amount of sports channels, all the way down to YES and the World Fishing Channel- yes, last night I watched Kent Hrbek's fishing show.
Conor Friedersdorf on Palin and the laughable media arguments about her:
Were the dread New York Times bankrupted tomorrow and the Ivy League dissolved next week, conservatives would still be plagued by a dearth of ideas, an unpopular brand and atrocious leadership.
The Onion looks at the Alfred Molina/fireworks scene in "Boogie Nights," which I once wrote a paper about in college.
Peggy Noonan tears into the Palin myth:
But she was not thoughtful. She was a gifted retail politician who displayed the disadvantages of being born into a point of view (in her case a form of conservatism; elsewhere and in other circumstances, it could have been a form of liberalism) and swallowing it whole: She never learned how the other sides think, or why.This column, clearly, proves that Peggy Noonan is not a real conservative.
In television interviews she was out of her depth in a shallow pool. She was limited in her ability to explain and defend her positions, and sometimes in knowing them. She couldn't say what she read because she didn't read anything. She was utterly unconcerned by all this and seemed in fact rather proud of it: It was evidence of her authenticity. She experienced criticism as both partisan and cruel because she could see no truth in any of it. She wasn't thoughtful enough to know she wasn't thoughtful enough. Her presentation up to the end has been scattered, illogical, manipulative and self-referential to the point of self-reverence. "I'm not wired that way," "I'm not a quitter," "I'm standing up for our values." I'm, I'm, I'm.
In another age it might not have been terrible, but here and now it was actually rather horrifying.
By "the president," of course, I mean Sarkozy.
I confess my addiction in an E-Gear blog post.
Why are newspapers done? Because they come out a day too late. It's all the news today that we already knew yesterday.
That's bad enough- but what about those papers that come out more than a week after the editorial deadline? Like one part of the Tennessean:
The Tennessean published an interview with Steve McNair in some editions of a special weekly section. The interview, promoting the opening of his new restaurant last month in Nashville, was printed and packaged before the quarterback's death last Saturday.Oops.
The paper could not find a way to halt the "A.M." edition, distributed on Wednesdays, that carried a front-page profile of McNair.
Interesting. I lived in Boston during the height of Pedro-mania, and I'd never seen anything like that in any town in baseball in my lifetime. He's certainly not the same pitcher he used to be, but if he's got something left in the tank, why not?
I also keep hearing that the Martinez signing could be a prelude to a trade for Roy Halladay. The rationale is that the Phils would be putting J.A. Happ -who's been their best pitcher this year- in a Halladay deal, along with a bunch of prospects; therefore Martinez will take their current open rotation spot while Halladay would take Happ's. I'm for a Halladay trade IF they don't have to give up Kyle Drabek or Michael Taylor; I'll have mixed feelings if they throw in either.
A look into the future from 5 Second Films:
News Item: Smurfs movie set to begin production
I have a hard time believing this could be anything other than absolutely terrible.
My latest update on electronics retail crime is online at Dealerscope.com.
Here's a fascinating discussion between two of our smartest observers of the Mideast. Call it the intersection of idealism and pessimism- which pretty much sums up how I feel about the Mideast these days.
I've made it clear how I feel about "Transformers 2," but here are thoughts on a few other recent releases that I've seen but not written proper reviews for:
"Whatever Works." This one had a lot going against it- it's a typical Woody Allen old-guy-dates-hot-younger-chick story, but since 73-year-old Allen is too old for that now, he instead recruted... 62-year-old Larry David to romance 21-year-old Evan Rachel Wood. Plus, it's a script from the '70s that Allen discarded back then, and he's since found about 30 different ideas he deemed more worthy of production than this.
The movie, though, is a pleasant surprise, Allen's best pure comedy in quite some time. David is a perfect conduit for Allen's persona, Patricia Clarkson and Ed Begley, Jr., shine in supporting roles, and Wood is as appealing as I've ever seen her on screen. Sure, you've gotta get past Allen's open cultural prejudices- all Southerners are idiots, no young woman can resist an aging, misanthropic slob- but it's another step in Allen's unlikely resurgence.
"Public Enemies." There's a lot to like here, but I couldn't help but think with that cast, that director (Michael Mann), and that crew, it should have been SO much better. Depp is excellent, Marion Cotillard even better, and there are three or four great moments. But the style Mann uses to shoot the film is so off-putting that it all but cannibalizes it. Way too much handheld, way too much close-up, to the point where we know there's a beautiful production design; we just can't see it. (Full review to come next week.)
"(500) Days of Summer." Here's an awesome romantic comedy, funny as it is sweet, and certain to appeal to fans of "How I Met Your Mother," right down to the time-shifting narrative, superlative soundtrack and hero who aspires to be an architect. It's bound to be a breakout role for Zooey Deschanel, who comes across at first as an MPDG but later turns out to be much more. Only complaints? It gets way too cute at times, especially in a song-and-dance sequence that looked like something from "The Drew Carey Show," and its final line, which I bet most moviegoers will guess five minutes before it happens.
"Bruno." Sacha Baron Cohen's follow-up to "Borat" has a couple of moments of pure hilarity, and I give Cohen credit for fully committing to the bit. But this movie isn't nearly as funny as "Borat," mostly because Bruno isn't nearly as funny a character. It's also maddeningly repetitive, as pretty much the same sequence repeats itself about ten times. The movie's second half is almost entirely laugh-free, as the audience I saw it with can attest.
Nah, Philly in 2009:
The worst part? The club released a statement saying that "There was concern that alot of kids would change the complexion .....and the atmosphere of the club." That wasn't something off the cuff, but a prepared statement. I bet that'll be Exhibit A when the discrimination lawsuit goes to trial.
Topless Robot "interviews" himself about The Worst Movie of the Millennium, in one of the funniest blog posts of recent times. A friend of mine the other day described the plot as "like an eight-year-old telling you the plot of a movie he just saw;" this may help answer some of your questions. My favorite parts:
So it's not as bad as shitting your pants?
Marginally. I honestly had to make a pro and con list to figure it out.
Why would a robot need to fart, pee, or vomit? And why would it need testicles?
Michael Bay does not understand what a robot is.
Can you explain Megan Fox's appeal?
Yes. She looks like a porn star and has the same acting talent as one, yet for some reason she makes mainstream movies. This tonal disconnect is what's so appealing about her.
I don't blame them for taking off the name of Lindbergh, an open Nazi sympathizer- although my house happens to be on Lindbergh Ave.- but why punish Humphrey? Not good times for HHH, especially with the other thing named after him, the Metrodome, possibly coming down soon as well.
I'd be happy if, once he's dead, they name the Lindbergh terminal after Minnesota's other vice president, Mondale. Or Paul Wellstone. Or make them the Puckett and Hrbek terminals. Or Dylan and Prince. Or Mould and Westerberg.
News Item: Richard Ravitch named New York Lt. Governor
First the judge who ended the strike gets nominated to the Supreme Court, and now the chief negotiator for the owners in the same strike gets a top political post. Makes me think Donald Fehr will have a post-retirement future in politics- Secretary of Labor, maybe?
Style Points Blog: Breaking News: 106 Sportswriters Reportedly Test Positive for Sanctimony
Pretty good; this satire maintains the bit all the way to the end, which is more than I can say for most Onion bits these days.
I look into the Palin resignation in this week's North Star column.
Jason Whitlock, arguing that Serena Williams is too fat to continue to be a superlative tennis player. Three things wrong with the column: 1) It's just generally disgusting and insulting; 2) Williams WON Wimbledon last week, and 3) Whitlock, himself an ex-athlete, appears to tip the scales at around 400 pounds.
I generally like Whitlock, since he usually has an interesting, offbeat take on things, but this is just ridiculous.
On the occasion of Franken's victory, our fellow former St. Louis Park resident David Carr weighs in on the history of weird political stuff in Minnesota.
Here's a great post on blogging and its decline. We used to be the upstarts, the cool new medium; now, we're to Facebook and Twitter what newspapers used to be to us.
Fox News' Gretchen Carlson: Michael Jackson was first African-American entertainer liked by blacks and whites.
Hasn't she ever heard of... jazz?
Anne Applebaum, on Palin's departure:
Perhaps the explanation for this lies in the final part of one of Palin's statements: that "Washington and the media" cannot understand her decision because "it's about country." In other words, for the past nine months, Palin has avoided difficult questions, preferring Runner's World to another Katie Couric interview; she has dragged her family into the spotlight when it suited her (baby Trig was in Runner's World, too) and grown angry when the spotlight became too strong; she has eschewed reason and logic (not to mention spelling and grammar), yet reacted in horror when her critics were unreasonable and illogical in response. Then, after all that, she smugly asserts the right to decide who is a patriot and who is not. It's not about "country," in other words, it's about hypocrisy. And Sarah Palin is full of it.
My review of "Revenge of the Fallen" is online, finally, at Philly.com. Read it here.
News Item: Brett Favre puts deposit on condo in Edina.
For 16 years Favre represented an area that wore green and was a geographic rival of where I was from; now that he'll be in Edina, even though he'll be a Viking, that's still the case.
Sarah Palin resigned Friday, under mysterious circumstances. I'll have more on this in the North Star column tomorrow, but in the meantime let's just be happy that she'll never, ever be president.
Here's a rare honest moment on Fox News:
I'm not the biggest tennis fan in the world, but my lord- what an amazing match between Federer and Roddick on Sunday. The happiest man in America? Jon Wertheim, who just published a whole book on last year's Federer-Nadal Wimbledon classic, probably has a sequel on his hand.
I was heading to a friend's wedding Sunday, and my two friends and I were sitting in the hotel bar watching the epic fifth set, hoping it would be over in time for us to head up to the wedding (it was, just in time.) Sort of reminding me of that car chase leading up to Bill and Christie's wedding a few years back.
One of the classiest, most respected NFL players goes out way too soon, violently, and in utterly scandalous fashion. They say the NFL's an unfair world, but this is ridiculous.
News Item: Marion Barry arrested for stalking
Continuing possibly the biggest celebrity death year in history, former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara has passed away at the age of 93. I wasn't alive for most of McNamara's career, but for a fascinating look at his life and his regrets, see Errol Morris' documentary "The Fog of War."
"I can’t imagine a more dispiriting, dehumanizing cinematic experience than this relentless fusillade of aggressive, incoherent images, macho posturing and schoolyard-bully humor. But then again, I tend to say the same thing every time I see a Michael Bay picture... I’m fascinated by how close Bay’s id is to the surface in the appalling films he directs, and what a deeply unpleasant and angry man he seems to be." -Sean Burns, Philadelphia Weekly.
Interesting graph of how the MLB teams are doing, vs. their team payrolls. I'm proud that the Twins are always higher on the left side than on the right.
Actor Harve Presnell, best known to me as William H. Macy's hard-ass father-in-law (who Steve Buscemi eventually killed on top of the parking garage) in "Fargo," has died of cancer at the age of 75. Apparently he had quite a theatrical resume as well.
"Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is to its predecessor like a medieval torture chamber is to a playground, but that won’t keep many from swallowing it hook, line and sinker, quickly and indiscriminately. I can only hope that my feelings here are the general consensus—not just for critics, but for human beings. Few elements of Fallen are completely odious unto themselves, but rolled together it becomes a wave of inescapable proportions—a literal tsunami of shit."-Robert Humanick, the House Next Door.
Go read it now. Wow. I'd also like it if my friends on the right would try to rebut the piece as it is, rather than yell about liberal bias for the millionth time.
One of the funnier CNBC segments ever:
It was pretty much the only topic on cable news for the entire weekend. The other day I was in the airport and CNN was on, and it was all-Michael, all-the-time for about an hour, until suddenly they showed Robert Gibbs answering questions in the White House briefing room. At last, some coverage of Iran, the cap-and-trade bill, or something else? Oh no, Gibbs was answering a question about... Michael Jackson.
Also this week, I was shocked to discover that the kid's name really is "Blanket." I just assumed the "South Park" writers made that up.
I returned Tuesday afternoon from a wonderful five-day trip with my dad to St. Louis and Kansas City to watch our beloved Twins take on first the St. Louis Cardinals and then the Kansas City Royals in their respective home parks, neither of which I'd been to (nor had I been to either city.) A few notes on the trip:
- I liked downtown St. Louis, it seemed to have a lot of cool stuff packed into not that many square blocks (our hotel was right between the Gateway Arch and the stadium.) Had two great meals the two nights we were there: one at Max and Erma's and the other at Mike Shannon's.
- Things I liked about Busch Stadium: It looks great from the outside and inside; you can't go wrong with the red brick and red seats. It's totally respectful of the illustrious history of both the team and St. Louis as a baseball town. It plays neither too big nor too small, and they even kept the "Big Mac" thing in left field even though McGwire is both long-gone and long-disgraced.
- Things I didn't like about Busch Stadium: Unlike just about every ballpark built in the last ten years, you can't see into the field from the concourses; Philly and Citi Field, among other places, not only encourage this but even have tables set up so you can eat there. And speaking of eating... Busch has the least diversity of food options of any ballpark I've ever been to, new or old- sure, the stands all have different names, but it's the same five things at all of them, except for the occasional nacho booth. And third of all, the railings at the bottom of the decks are about knee-high, so low that a dude apparently fell out of the upper deck Friday night. He was okay, having landed, bloodily, in the deck below.
Of stadiums built since 2000 that I've been to, I put Busch ahead of Cincinnati, but behind San Francisco, Pittsburgh, Philly, and Citi Field.
- No mention on Saturday or Sunday that the Twins and Cards were playing in a rematch of the 1987 World Series. They could've had Tommy Herr and Steve Lombardozzi jointly throw out the first pitch or something.
- There's a bust of Jack Buck outside Busch, which even includes audio of some of his more famous calls. It doesn't include "And we'll see you... tomorrow night," however.
- At the Cardinals game- even though he's now with the Blue Jays, there were way, way, more Scott Rolen jerseys than I'm used to seeing at Phillies games. I wonder why. Though I don't think I've ever seen a J.D. Drew jersey at either place.
- A WHOLE lot of Twins fans at both parks, probably more in St. Louis since it was a weekend and a rare chance for Minnesota fans to see their team at a newish National League park. We travel very well, although starting next year outdoor baseball won't have the novelty for Minnesotans that it does now.
- Difference between the East Coast and Midwest- I wore a hat/jersey of the visiting team to all three games, and not only did no one throw a beer or try to fight me, nobody even said anything.
- I saw a St. Louis tourism magazine that listed the city as one of the 50 most friendly places in the U.S. for gays and lesbians. Which sounds good, except... is it really that much of an accomplishment to make the top 50? "Ooh, we beat out Corpus Christi!"
- After a five-hour drive through the parts of Missouri that I'm guessing John Ashcroft carried by double digits every time he ran, we arrived in Kansas City Monday afternoon. We really should've planned it differently and come in the night before, since we were left with not much time to see the city. And not only that, but the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, which I'd been looking forward to visiting for months, was closed on Mondays, it turns out.
- Let me just say- I loved just about EVERYTHING about Kauffmann Stadium. It was renovated recently to the tune of $200 million, and the renovation gave it wider concourses, a more open outfield, and an incredible scoreboard, maybe the best I've ever seen. If only they had a better team playing there... it's also part of a Philly-like sports complex, in the middle of a giant parking lot that it shares with the other stadium, a ways away from downtown.
- Also really liked the WWE-like stadium intro for closer Joakim Soria, which combined flames on every scoreboard with the stadium's trademark waterfalls going at full-blast. Almost enough to justify the team having a closer.
- The Royals have a very loyal and energetic fan base, for a team that's been unspeakably godawful for the better part of two decades. True, the Royals probably rank a distant third in that town behind the Chiefs and University of Kansas basketball, but the crowd was still sizable and reasonably energetic. Which was a good thing, except for the two idiots in front of us, who spent the majority of the game hitting on the likely high-school-aged girls next to them, before one of them assumed that because I'm from Minnesota, I must have had some chewing tobacco on me.
- There's a statue of Frank White, the 1980s Royals second baseman, in center field at Kauffman; a few minutes after seeing it, I saw White himself, appearing on the team's pregame show in a booth about 20 feet away. That's gotta be pretty awesome to walk by a statue of yourself on the way to work every day.
- Similarly, both Mark McGwire and George Brett have highways named after them in their respective cities. And just as both Cincinnati's Pete Rose Way and Minneapolis' Kirby Puckett Place have remained in place despite the players' post-retirement disgraces, Missouri neither pulled McGwire's highway after the steroid revelations, nor Brett's, after this.
- I sort of got screwed on barbecue for the trip to KC. I was told I had to check out Arthur Bryant's, Gates, or possibly both. My dad said they had Gates right in the ballpark and we should wait and have that, but... once we got in we found Gates was gone at the end of last year. Apparently, much as what happened at my college a decade ago, Aramark took over and ruined everything. We did have barbecue that wasn't bad - and the food options, except for something called a "KC Cheese Steak" looked all right- but it wasn't the same. Then, the next day, there was a full Arthur Bryant's open in the airport. I would've partaken had it not been 9 in the morning.
- And finally, the baseball... the Twins took 2 of 3 from the Cards, although since we missed the Friday game they split the ones we went to. Joe Mauer actually got his average up to .400 after one at-bat Saturday, but by Monday night it was down to .390. On Monday in KC the team had a chance to go to a season-high of two games above .500, but alas they lost to the Royals.
The team's got a lot of talent- two superstars on offense in Mauer and Morneau, and a fair amount of secondary talent in Cuddyer, Kubel, Span and Crede. Their starting pitching is solid but not dominant- though Francisco Liriano looked good Saturday-, and the bullpen is pretty suspect behind Joe Nathan. But jeez- I knew Delmon Young sucked, but seeing it in person really drove the point home. If the Twins could come up with solid regulars at second base and in left field, and added another reliever or two, they'd be in business.
All in all, a great trip, I highly recommend it or something like it.