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Friday, April 30, 2004

Astros Notes, 4/30 

I hate the Cincinnati Reds. I can't stand them. Over the years, they are far and away my least favorite baseball team. Marge Scott, Chris Sabo, Rob Dibble, Norm Charlton, Barry Larkin... they all made my blood boil. The whole organization could fold and I'd celebrate with fireworks and street-dancing. So now that I've made it clear where I stand on the Reds... tonight they invade Minute Maid Park for a weekend set. A few thoughts:

- Dream scenario for tonight's game... Roger Clemens beans the first three batters, and then strikes out the side, just to screw with them.

- Ricky Stone was optioned to AAA yesterday. That shoudl serve as a notice to the Astros pen. If you don't pitch well, the club has ample enough depth to ship you back to Sticksville.

- Top 10 Astros memory... Sept. 5, 1995... Recently acquired catcher Pat Borders, apparently tired of his teammates soft attitude and willingness to get pushed around by a thuggish Reds club, ignites some life in his teammates. A brawl erupts during the mid innings that features Borders swinging away like Davey Crockett at The Alamo. Houston goes on to beat Cincinnati, 10-1, the lone Astros win against the Reds that season.

- Andy Pettitte's stellar outing yesterday has the vaunted Astros rotation looking every bit as good as the offseason hype made them appear.

- A win tonight would secure a 13-9 April record. For the, er, record, the 99 Astros, winners of 97 games and the NL Central, also turned in a 13-9 April mark. That team featured two 20-game winners, by the way, a feat that this Astros squad could potentially match.

- f 1300 The Zone, by the way. Yesterday's game wasn't on TV, I guess because they played in the afternoon. But 1300, which has to be the worst Astros affiliate in the State, didn't air it either. I tuned in expecting to hear Milo yell "Holy Toledo!" Instead I got, "Hey Romey, thanks for the vine. Your smack is fresh." It's bad enough that the lone entertaining personality is a former MTV Real World cast member, but when they shun the Astros in favor of The Jungle, I get annoyed.

-Here's a funny stat I saw the other day. Roger Clemens has a better BA and OBP than either former teammate Derek Jeter or Alex Rodriguez. Go get'em Roger!

- Great line from Stain's OWA Reds preview: "a chance to thump the upstart Reds o­n top of their knotty heads is always a good thing." Damn straight.

- As always, Stain has a few more classics:

"This series reminds me of standing at a urinal next to a dumbass. We’re just minding our own business while we try to keep our eyes straight ahead, and the fucking Reds are hopping around next to us, yapping about being in second place, flapping their vests, and splashing piss everywhere. And probably trying to sneak a glimpse of our dick while we aren’t watching."


"I knew a guy from Cincinnati who was a complete asshole. In fact, last I heard he was living in Houston. So if you go to a game this weekend and see a guy in a Reds hat who looks like a douche bag, kick him in the nuts for me."


Now Here's an Idea... 

The Baseball Crank has a good idea on how the Arizona Cardinals might honor Pat Tillman's memory.

Rename the team:

"Call them the Arizona Rangers, in honor of Tillman's unit in the Army and their sacrifices over many generations, most famously in scaling the cliffs at Normandy on D-Day but in many other deadly engagements."

I like the idea, though I could see how the opposition might paint a picture of the franchise attempting to reap a financial gain on his memory. But still, it would serve as a nice tribute, and not just to Tillman, as The Crank points out. The name change would honor all of the soldiers in one of America's most elite fighting units.



Yesterday I took the afternoon off from work to hit the links. My friend Robert and I played the new Falconhead course out near Lakeway.

Considering I hadn't swung my clubs but once since last Fall -- a brief range session on Monday, where I just practiced my wedge -- I wasn't too disappointed in my triple-digit score, no doubt inflated by a tough course. Not suprisingly, the only club I consistently hit well was the wedge. Too bad I couldn't figure out those greens.

The highlight of the day came on the opening hole. Robert stuck a 6 Iron from about 165 yards, about six feet from the pin. It hopped and danced, and trickled into the hole, for an eagle. He went on to shoot a one-over 73.

We got a reduced weekday rate of $40, but I believe the weekend rate doubles that fee. I'd recommend giving Falconhead a try, but practice that driver and putter before you start. The wide-open fairways forgive the occasional misplaced drive, but it throws a barrage of long par 4s your way. And the tricky greens make you work to avoid three-putting.


Thursday, April 29, 2004

Tillman "not a hero" 

A University of Massachusetts student would have you believe that.

In an editorial that appeared in Wednesday's Daily Collegian, Rene Gonzalez criticized Tillman's service:

"I could tell he was that type of macho guy, from his scowling, beefy face on the CNN pictures. ... They should call Pat Tillman's army life 'Rambo 4: Rambo Attempts to Strike Back at His Former Rambo 3 Taliban Friends, and Gets Killed.'"

"What he did was make himself useful to a foreign invading army, and he paid for it. It's hard to say I have any sympathy for his death because I don't feel like his 'service' was necessary. He wasn't defending me, nor was he defending the Afghani people. He was acting out his macho, patriotic crap and I guess someone with a bigger gun did him in."

The paper's editorial board issued a statement on its website, defending the decision to print the hateful column.

That's what it is: hateful. It sickens me to think that someone can feel that way about a soldier that gave his life in defense of America. Despite what Gonzales thinks, Tillman certainly was defending him. Perhaps Gonzales enjoyed watching the Twin Towers fall on September 11, too.

The paper's statement says that "the opinion of Gonzalez, though it dissented from that of the other two columns, deserved its space within the debate."

What debate? He's not arguing that homosexuals should have the right to marry, or that partial-birth abortion should remain legal. He's making an ad hominem attack on a dead soldier. It's despicable and giving him an outlet to say that is equally despicable.


Wednesday, April 28, 2004

My All-Star Ballot 

I plan on voting the maximum number of times, if only to stack the ballot box for two guys that deserve the chance to play in front of their hometown fans.

But here is my (relatively) objective ballot:

First Base: R. Palmeiro, BAL
Second Base: A. Soriano, TEX
Third Base: Troy Glaus, ANA
Shortstop: M. Tejada, BAL
Catcher: J. Lopez, BAL
Outfielder: R. White, DET
Outfielder: J. Dye, OAK
Outfielder: M. Ramirez, BOS

First Base: J. Bagwell, HOU
Second Base: M. Giles, ATL
Third Base: S. Rolen, STL
Shortstop: A. Everett, HOU
Catcher: M. Matheny, STL
Outfielder: R. Hidalgo, HOU
Outfielder: C. Biggio, HOU
Outfielder: B. Bonds, SF

My homerism shows up with a few of the picks, I realize. Adam Everett is not an elite NL shortstop, but even though his offensive numbers aren't the highest, they're not bad, either. And his defense is a valuable assest for the Astros.

With Craig Biggio, I am just hoping that this Houston legend gets one more day in the limelight. He's having a solid year so far, and considering this could be his last season -- it's most likely his last in Houston -- I can't think of a more fitting exit than representing the Astros in their home park.

Some might call the Bagwell pick a homer call, too, but it's hard to slight what he's provided at the plate in the season's first month. And as long as he doesn;t repeat his 2003 May swoon, then I have confidence that he'll make the squad as at least a reserve.

BTW... a quick shout-out to The Hardball Times for their informative stats (and to Baseball Musings, for pointing me there).


Wictory Wednesday 

PoliPundit has his regular Wictory Wednesday entry up. Check it out, and remember to donate or volunteer at the Official Bush/Cheney 04 site.


Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Softball w/ Chris Matthews 

Tonight's Hardball disappointed me. Chris Matthews' segment with John Kerry resembled a fan club president doting over some celeb, moreso than a serious interview.

I am a Matthews fan, and even when I disagree with him, I respect his positions and the element of professionalism that he brings to his work. But the softballs that he lobbed at Kerry all night made me cringe. Matthews seemed intent on painting the Democratic candidate as a a noble victim, standing up for his convictions in the face of right-wing persecution.

Hugh Hewitt has a review of his own (thanks to Instapundit for the link), which offers the same criticism, while analyzing the poor job that Kerry did in taking advantage of Matthews' generous questioning.

Hewitt cites three key Kerry miscues:

First, Kerry admitted that WMD may yet be found in Iraq, then realized he can't really do that, and tried to backpeddle by arguing that if the WMD aren't on artillery shells, they don't count, missing the entire significance of the WMD debate.

Then he referred darkly to the "neocons," widely understood as the left's code for Jews.

And he concluded with an absolutely incomprehensible reference to the White House being worried over Karen Hughes having been born in Paris. This followed a warning from Chris that the Republicans would savage Theresa Heinz Kerry for having been born in Mozambique. Go figure.

Kerry just can't seem to get any traction lately. At his current rate, he could very well go down as having run one of the worst campaigns in the past half century. The only that comes out of his mouth these days is empty rhetoric criticizing George Bush and the Republican Party. Now maybe he thinks that's his ticket to get elected, but furthering the partisan divide in this country is not an effective way to govern.

Despite the pitfalls that Bush has endured in the past month or so, his numbers have gone up in most polls, and remained stable at the very least. Kerry's, meanwhile, have slightly eroded. And twice this week he has bumbled national TV appearances.

And apparently I'm not the only one who thinks Kerry is losing steam. Instapundit addressed that notion earlier this afternoon. It's a piece worth reading.

ADDED: More Hardball fallout.


OWA: Astros-Pirates preview 

Orange Whoopass has its series preview posted, for the Astros' three-game set starting tonight in Pittsburgh.

OWA's Stain pens previews before each Houston series, and they're definitely worth a read, both from an information and entertainment perspective. He writes that tonight's Tim Redding (0-3, 10.22)-Josh Fogg (0-3, 17.00)
pitcher's duel is a case of: "What happens when a resistible force meets a movable object?"

He adds:

So as you can probably tell, I'm just making shit up to avoid predicting this game. But since I have to make a call, I'll say Redding makes a slightly less sucky appearance than Fogg, but they'll both be meeting with psychologists in the clubhouse by the 6th inning.

I concur. Brad Ausmus said, following Redding's last miserable outing, that Redding actually had his best stuff of the season. I played with a guy in little lague whose Mom used to tell him similar things, after he struck out every at-bat. But Tim should be able to handle the Bucs, whose lineup isn't known for their ability with the lumber (except for Randall Simon, who led the league last year in batting average with pork products in scoring position).

EDITED: I should have read Stain's preview a little closer. Simon went on the DLwith a strained, er, "hammy."


INsite: The Pregame Tailgate (May 04) 

A week or two before the Texas Longhorns opened their 2002 baseball season; I had the privilege of meeting Augie Garrido.

I recognized him immediately. He was dining on a platter of sushi rolls at the bar at Kenichi, a popular downtown restaurant. My friend Stephanie had turned me into quite the sushi connoisseur just a few months prior, and hitting Kenichi on a Saturday night had become a fairly regular event.

Normally I’m not one to fawn over celebrities, even quasi-celebrities, like the University of Texas baseball coach. But the 2002 preseason ranking had come out that week, and Texas checked in at No. 9, so I had baseball on the brain.

I nudged Steph and pointed out Coach Garrido. She shrugged and said it was no big deal. “I met him here; one time a while back. He’s a funny guy.” Our friend Chris didn’t seem impressed. Her days as a cocktail waitress in Dallas provided encounters with real celebrities, or so she said. The only one she ever mentioned, though, was Mavericks coach Don Nelson, and only then to complain about the lousy tips he left her.

I didn’t press the Garrido issue, But it didn’t take him long to recognize Steph, and he soon pulled up a chair and joined our group. For the next hour or so, Coach Garrido hung out with us, eating sushi, talking baseball, and indulging in Kenichi’s overpriced adult beverages.

He was both friendly and affable, and Coach Garrido even impressed Chris with his candor. Before he left, we toasted to a successful 2002 season, and to top it off, he picked up the sizeable tab. Steph, already set to move to Omaha with her boyfriend that June, pledged to return the favor. If Texas made it to the College World Series, she said, Coach Garrido could count on her support at Rosenblatt Stadium.

She kept her end of the deal. Steph and her boyfriend, just a week into their Omaha residence, took time out from unpacking boxes to witness the fifth national championship in Texas’ storied baseball history. In essence, they witnessed what makes Garrido – winner of five national titles during his illustrious career – the best coach, possibly in all of major college athletics.

I say that because of one thing in particular that the coach told me that night. I had asked him what he thought about being ranked ninth in the preseason poll. His face crinkled and he gave me a puzzled look. “Son,” he said softly, as he moved in closer. “Do you ever go to a game and start cheering, ‘we’re number nine! We’re number nine!’?”

I just sat there, silent. He continued, “of course you don’t. You play to be number one, not number nine. And that’s what we want to be – number one.”

Five months later, his team finished number one.

I thought it relevant to relay that story this month, because the Texas baseball team has spent a lot of time in that lofty position during the 2004 season. The Horns sit at 41-6 entering the last week of April, a record that almost defies believability, especially when considering who a lot of those wins have come against.

Stanford, currently ranked second, is the only team to win a series against the Horns this year, taking two of three in Palo Alto back in February. And their 31-7 mark is also impressive, but when you think about Big XII competition, and Texas’ willingness to play anyone in the country, I have to give the Horns the edge.

Rice isn’t far behind Stanford, posting a 33-7 record. If you remember, Rice ended Texas’ season last year, just one round shy of the CWS title game. But the defending national champions have had the misfortune of facing and losing to, Texas four times in 2004. How many teams can say that more than half of their losses came against one opponent. The third-ranked Rice Owls can, that’s who.

Texas’ remaining schedule includes Big XII foes Missouri and Texas A&M, as well as a non-conference double-header with North Carolina State. And as Coach Garrido prepares his top-ranked team for the regular season’s final month, I have to believe he’s telling them the same thing he told me on the January night more than two years ago: “You play to be number one.”

A lot can happen between now and Omaha, and sure, Texas will face some good teams just to get to the College World Series. But if I am sure of anything, it’s that Augie Garrido’s team won’t feel satisfied with just getting there. They won’t play to finish anything but first.


'Sin City' 

A little Jessica Alba news to brighten up your Tuesday morning.

Jessica Alba ... is in final negotiations to play an exotic dancer in "Sin City," which is shooting in Austin, Texas ... "Sin City" will comprise three intertwining vignettes revolving around a dark set of characters who call the fictional corrupt town home.

Remember in Mallrats, when Brodie started gushing because Stan Lee showed up in HIS mall? Well Jessica Alba is headed to MY town. I smell a potential INsite interview.


Why Do We Do It? 

The Mavericks' season pretty much ended tonight when they fell to the Sacramento Kings 94-92. It wasn't their defense that failed them tonight, but rather their poor shooting, particularly at the free throw line.

I love the Mavs. I have since the mid-80's, when I realized that there was this cool game where people flew around on hardwood trying to put a ball through a hoop. I stuck with them through the hard times (that phrase doesn't even do justice to how hard it was) and rejoiced when Cuban bought the team and turned them around.

But here I sit tonight disappointed as hell, sulking like a 16 year old that got turned down for the prom because a group of professional athletes failed *me*. Why? Why do we do it?

Do we get much joy out of it? Even on the rare occasion that our teams do win a championship, we're sitting there the next day wondering how they are going to do it next year.

But I guess there is something to be said about going through strife before you reach the promised land, making it that much better when you finally do win, but it still sucks tonight.


Monday, April 26, 2004

Those Wacky Canadians Part III 

Wonkette has a funny entry about Canada.

The poll cited lists "arrogant" as Candians' most likely-used desciption of Americans. "Patriotic" follows closely, though the story implies that its use is not complimentary.

Wonkette fires back with: "Speak for yourselves, hosers. And like we care. On this side of the border, the most popular words Americans use to describe Canadians are "funny" and "tolerant" -- the latter, we might add, is not necessarily a compliment."

Maybe they're just jealous that a Canadian team hasn't won the Stanley Cup in more than a decade.


Sunday, April 25, 2004

Baseball Thoughts 4/25 

-If you ever need more proof that baseball is an odd game, look at the Astros' past four games: loss-win-win-loss. The two bookend losses featured quality starts from Roy Oswalt and Wade Miller, to the tune of 3ER over 14 IP. By comparison, Brandon Duckworth and Roger Clemens combined for 8 ER in 10 2/3 IP in the two wins.

- I don't want to turn this into a strictly Astros entry (I post enough about them) but I'm watching Baseball Tonight and two things I've seen beg for a comment: a) Karl Ravech continues to say BEE-jee-oh, instead of BID-jee-oh. The guy is 38. He might retire at season's end. Isn't it about time to pronounce his name right? b) John Kruk calls Houston the best base-running team, in the majors. Maybe that's true, but good instincts or not, it's funny to hear that label given to a club with team speed that's on par with your average slow-pitch softball squad.

-With a 12-6 win against Seattle today, Texas stays in a first-place tie with Anaheim. The Rangers are a great early-season story, and even if they don't finish within 10 games of first, that club seems to be putting together a solid nucleus. Alfonso Soriano, Hank Blaylock and Mark Texiera (who's on the DL now) should all find their way on to the All-Star team, if not this year, then not long after. It's too bad for Ranger fans that they play in the AL West, and not the NL West. Might Texas have a chance to compete over a full season? Perhaps, if, as my buddy Porter suggests, the Ewing Effect is at work.

-Staying in the AL West, does Anaheim reliever Ben Webber remind anyone else of Kurt Rambis? Or maybe that kid from Rookie of the Year.

-Boston beats New York... again. The Yanks are slumping (If you're female and 300 pouns-plus: Uncle Derek Needs You!). But come on... this Red Sox jubilation is going too far. The great
Ric Flair liked to say, "to be the man, you gotta beat the man." But April doesn't count. I remember getting ecstatic when the Astros opened 2-0 against Atlanta in 1997. 163 games later, the Braves swept Houston out of the playoffs. Boston can go 17-1 against the "Evil Empire" in the regular season, but until they win in October (and I hope they do) it's meaningless (and yes, I realize that Houston can take that advice, too).

- Richie Sexson has 8 HRs. I'm glad he got out of Milwaukee. For one thing, I'd rather Houston face him six times instead of 18. ANd for another, he's too good a player to waste away in obscurity. Now, if they could ship away Scott Podsednik.

- Podsednik's teammate Ben Sheets came back to Earth today. It's amazing what happens when he doesn't face Houston. I think he's a budding star, but he's going to have to start consistently beating teams not named Houston (compare his 8-2 record on 12 career games against Houston, versus a 37-39 overall mark, in 98 games).

- One more and I'm done with Milwaukee... but what is up with the new Miller Beer ad campaign? The "president" of Beers. I'd rather vote for John Kerry than support that garbage. Well... not really.

- Lankford-Renteria-Rolen-Edmonds-PooHoles... who needs pitching? Just let these guys mash those softballs, and then bring in Jason Isringhausen when you get a lead. Tony LaGenius is in an enviable position. If St. Louis makes the playoffs, he looks like a, well, genius. If they don't, he has the rotation waiting as a built-in excuse.


Marquis Daniels 

Ladies and Gentlemen, I have a new favorite Dallas Maverick to replace my beloved Nick Van Exel.

And his name is Marquis Daniels. You gotta love any undrafted rookie with balls of brass.

The guy can score, rebounds well for a guard, knows the game and isn't afraid to take shots late in the game. And he was even posting up Mike Bibby the other night.

Daniels is a FA at the end of the season, but the Mavericks are likely to use their mid-level exception ($4.5 million) and resign him.

Go Mavs and Go Marquis!


Astros-Rockies 4/25 

Wade Miller will try to pitch Houston to its first-ever series sweep in Colorado today. According to Astros.com columnist Alyson Footer, Miller might have an advantage, based on the venue.

Including a 6-0 record at Miller Park, a 3-1 record at Busch Stadium and a 1-1 mark at Coors Field, the right-hander has an impressive 10-2 lifetime record when pitching in ballparks named after beer.

Miller (2-1, 3.32) faces Joe Kenedy (2-0, 2.84).

ADDED: Close the books on Wade (7 IP, 2 ER, 6H). He pitched well, but as Astros color man Jim Deshaies noted, Colorado's Joe Kennedy (6 1/3 IP, 1 ER, 5H) "just pitched a little better."

Houston's lone run came in the 5th (driven in by Wade) but a potential big inning ended when home plate Ump Eric Cooper rung up Adam Everett on a generous strike call. Unlike C.B. Bucknor yesterday, Cooper's liberal strike zone has helped make runs a premium... at least until Brad Lidge allowed three runs in the bottom of the 8th.

It looks like no Rocky Mountain sweep for Houston, but winning two out of three feels much better than last week's sweep at the hands of St. Louis.


Saturday, April 24, 2004

DVD Review: School of Rock 

Jack Black used to make me laugh. But in the 45 minutes that I spent watching this movie, I don't think I even cracked a smile.

Black's shtick just started to grate, almost from the outset. And combined with a pointless story and predictable plot points, I couldn't even muster the energy to finish watching.

I usually like dumb comedies. And I've enjoyed a lot of what Black has done in the past. But School of Rock just never clicked with me. Maybe it was the annoying children (particularly the brown-nosing Summer character), or the musician stereotypes, or the recycled characters (see: Joan Cusack in My Blue Heaven, or Sarah Silverman in anything that she's done). Maybe it was all of it. I don't know.

I do, however, know that I did not like this movie.


The Rocket Hits the Rockies 

I've slacked on my Astros blogging lately, but today's afternoon Astros-Rockies tilt offers a chance to catch up.

Roger Clemens looks to record his fourth win of the season, and after last night's 13-6 Houston win, hopefully Rocket can just pitch his game, without the pressure of halting a four-game losing streak.

Craig Biggio and Adam Everett both score in the top of the first to give Clemens breathing room. I'm predicting a good six innings, at least, from Clemens. He might give up a few runs, but that's it.

END 1st: Astros 2, Colorado 0...

I might have to amend that prediction. The home plate ump (didn't catch who's back there today) isn't giving the pitchers much to work with.

Noteworthy: Morgan Ensberg gets the start at 3rd, despite Mike Lamb's six RBIs last night. Jimy Williams also has Jose Vizcaino in the lineup, in place of Jeff Kent.

END 2nd: Astros 2, Colorado 1...

I missed a lot of this inning trying to see what Dallas would do. But it looks like Colorado's run was unearned. Houston has the top of the order coming up.

MID 3rd: Astros 7, Colorado 1...

The key to a big Astros inning was the ability of Biggio and Everett to set the table, as they have consistently done so far this year. In ridding himself of that leg kick, Biggio has become a more selective hitter, especially with those sliders that used to kill him. Richard Hidalgo picked up two more RBIs, and Clemens helped himself out with a two-run single.

END 3rd: Astros 7, Colorado 3...

The Rockies touched Clemens for a pair of Coors Field HRs (Todd Helton and Charles Johnson), but you have to expect those. Despite the dingers, Astros fans can take away a positive: Brad Ausmus nailed his second potential base-stealer of the day. He's looked shaky this year, but both throws were sharp.

END 5th: Astros 7, Colorado 3...

1-2-3 4th and 5th for The Rocket.

END 6th: Astros 7, Rockies 5...

Another homer, followed by a single and a walk, brought Jimy to the mound, and Clemens out of the game. The Rocket only made it through 5 2/3. So much for my prediction. I don't think he pitched poorly, but you don't get much margin for error at Coors, especially with an inconsistent strike zone.

Dan Miceli comes on in relief, and after Royce Clayton bunts his way on, Miceli induces a pop-up to end the inning with the bases loaded. Whew!

MID 8th: Astros 8, Colorado 5...

Houston had a chance to put more runs on the board, but neither Richard Hidalgo nor Lance Berkman could take advantage of a bases-loaded, one-out situation, with as much as a sac-fly.

MID 9th: Astros 8, Colorado 5...

Moving right along, Miceli faces just three batters in the 8th, and the Astros go down 1-2-3 in the 9th. Octavio Dotel comes on in the 9th to try to get the save.

FINAL: Astros 8, Colorado 5

Dotel slams the door with a 1-2-3 9th, striking out the final two batters. Amazingly enough, the Houston bullpen has just two saves on the season. That speaks more for the offensive prowess, though, than the bullpen's inability to protect leads. The Astros just haven't played a whole lot of close games.

I would have liked to see a more consistent effort from the bats today; Houston fell prey to the big-inning-and-not-much-else syndrome that hurt them last year. But they won the game and clinched the series-- certainly the most important thing for a club that has had historicaly struggled against the Rockies, particularly in Denver.

Dan Miceli had good stuff today. When he came in, Houston faced the possibility of blowing a six-run lead. But Miceli got the out that he needed, and he added two more scoreless innings of relief. He takes the MVP for today's game, in my opinion. Because of his work, the Astros have a chance to sweep tomorrow and pick up momentum heading into a trio of intra-division series (3 @PIT, 4 v.CIN, 3 v.PIT)


NFL Draft 2004 

I have nothing else to do, so I figure I'll blog the Draft until I get bored with it (which will probably be long before Dallas picks).


Lots of boos so far for Eli Manning. Chris Mortensen wonders why? Maybe because he hasn't taken a snap in the league and he's already making demands like a Super Bowl winner.

I don't blame Manning. I wouldn't want to play for Marty Schottenheimer either. But Mortensen's comment was dumb.

Classy way to start... Paul Tagliabue has some kind words about Pat Tillman, whose jersey is encased in glass on the stage. The fans in attendance follow up a moment of silence with chants of "USA."

1. San Diego: Eli Manning! haha... The crowd is giving him hell. Eli's trying to smile, but he looks sick. Chants now of "Eli Sucks." Chris Berman is touting Eli's "classy move." Whatever, jock-rider.

Eli: "I've dealt with boos before... I hope another team would trade for me... We've told the Chargers what would happen if they drafted me."

btw, Matt is doing his own running update at Longhorn Fanzone.

2. Oakland: Robert Gallery, OT, Iowa... I don't know much about this guy, but he looks like he'll fit in well in the Black Hole. The Oakland fans are a much happier bunch right now than the San Diego fans.

Mel Kiper Jr. just used "dominance" and "rugged" a total of about 15 times in the span of 90 seconds. Mortensen and Irvin debate whether they should have taken a QB. I think Chad Hutchinson might be available.

3. Arizona: Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Pittsburgh... No surprise here, based on Fitz's past with Denny Green. I think Roy Williams is better, but Fitz will do well in Arizona, opposite Anquan Boldin.

Mike Irvin says that if Green uses Fitzgerald like he did Cris Carter, "look for him to be a Hall of Famer." Strong words.

4. NY Giants: Philip Rivers, QB, NC State... The ESPN boys are convinced that NY is going to trade Rivers. Berman says, "not a name that a lot of people know." What? He was on every 2003 preseason Heisman watch list. If you follow football, and you haven't heard of him, you don't watch too closely.

Rivers: "I'll be excited to see what happens... As of right now, I'm approaching like I'll be a Giant."

Check out Suzy Kolber. She's making eyes with every interview subject. I swear that at some point today, the camera's going to switch to her, only to catch her winking and sucking on her finger.

5. Washington: Sean Taylor, S, Miami...

San Diego and NY Giants trade picks. Giants also give San Diego a 3rd-round pick today, and a 1st and 5th next year. Amazing. They originally said 1st and 3rd. Mortensen says that this should signal Kerry Collins' exit from NY. Maybe Oakland might have an interest.

Back to Taylor... "poor" guy is going to have his moment in the spotlight overshadowed by the trade. I like Taylor. He should help shore up the Skins' secondary, now without CB Champ Bailey. The ESPN guys finally mention Taylor, as Detroit is down to five minutes on the clock.

Sal Paolontonio is now reporting that Jim Fassel will not coach the Giants next year. No, seriously, he's just interviewing NY's GM, Ernie Accorsi. Accorsi: "We all felt this was the QB you wait for, for a long time. We're thrilled to have him."

Potential trade brewing with Detroit and Cleveland.

6. Cleveland (via Detroit): Kellen Winslow, TE, Miami... Another Hurricane... This guy's a punk. In the wake of Pat Tillman's death, I wonder of Winslow is still going to label himself a "f---ing soldier"?

Kiper is a slobbering over Winslow. Irvin: "They need a guy that loves to play the football game." *Yawn*

7. Detroit: Roy Williams, WR, Texas... Berman compares Roy's suit to Irvin's. Snark! Roy and Charlie Rogers on opposite sides? Detroit might have something going now. That's turning into the University of Texas-North, with Shaun Rogers, Cory Redding and Rod Babers also on the roster.

I can't tell if Roy is happy or not. Irvin wonders what took him so long to come out. I think Roy has answered that question time and again. He didn't feel he had the maturity, after his Junior season, to handle the NFL.

The Lions get Cleveland's 2nd Round pick in the deal (#37 overall).

8. Atlanta: DeAngelo Hall, CB, Atlanta... okay, I'm bored now.

I'll update sporadically throughout the day, but I might have time to watch a movie before Dallas picks.


- Best news so far today: I don't have to change the site's description to 'I love John Kerry.'

- Tommie Harris goes to the Bears, and Berman horribly mispronounces "Killeen, Texas." My friend Paul, a Chicago native now living in Denver, just called from Coors Field. His enjoyment of a day at the ballpark was soured by the news of Harris heading to the Bears.

- It looks like Dallas might still have a good RB option on the board when they draft.

- One thing I've noticed so far is that EA Sports has yet to air a Madden 05 commerical. Last year's spots with Ray Lewis hazing the rooks made the draft much more interesting. The lack of ads today makes for a letdown.

- Okay, after 21 picks, SIX Miami Hurricanes have had their names called (Taylor, Winslow, DJ Williams, Vernon Carey, Vince Wilfork, Jonathan Vilma). Six guys in the first 21 picks? How did Miami only win one National Title in the past four years? Everyone blasts Mack Brown for doing less with more, but Texas won't even have six guys drafted, let alone drafted in the first round. And Miami doesn't have to deal with the Big XII. Now I'm as critical of Mack as the next guy, but come on...

- Dallas trades their pick. I can't say that I'm not disappointed that Dallas didn't take Stephen Jackson. He's a stud. Dallas gets a 2nd and 5th this year, and a 1st next year. I like that. Now I think that the Cowboys will take Tatum Bell, if he's there. Plus, you still get a chance at an OL or a DB with the other 2nd-rounder.

- Marcus Tubbs to the Seahawks! I guess Seattle is now the University of Texas-Northwest (DD Lewis and Ced Woodward).

- Best moment of the first round -- Michael Irvin and Ron Jaworski in an animated debate about who should start at QB in Cinci, Carson Palmer or John Kitna. I understand the business aspect that says play the guy making the money (Palmer), but like Irvin argued, Kitna took that team from 2-14 to 8-8, and they just missed the playoffs. Kitna deserves to play, and if not in Cinci, then somewhere else.

- Dallas makes its first pick (#44 overall) -- Julius Jones from Notre Dame (Denver grabbed Tatum Bell two spots earlier). I don't know about this pick. Kiper says it's a good pick and Irvin makes an Emmitt Smith comparison, but I get the feeling that Cowboys fans might have Stephen Jackson on the brain all year. Now... if Dallas can get a solid CB with their next pick, then I think the gamble might prove smart. They obviously have to do something about Mario Edwards' exit.


Friday, April 23, 2004

Those Drunken Tales 

There is this buddy of mine from high school that got mixed into some bad stuff and used his brother's name, got a credit card, and ran up an insane bill. Well, as you can imagine, this didn't make the brother too happy. Off the Christmas card list.

Well, we haven't seen our buddy in years, because he did some things that weren't too cool. While at a wedding a couple of weeks ago, the brother calls and leaves a voicemail that went something like this (remember I was drunk at the time and this is the best to my recollection):

Hey you piece of shit....some of your old cohorts are here and they are looking for you...I don't want to see you, but they do, so give me a call you piece of shit...

You get the idea.

Well, my buddy Brett asked the brother the next day if the buddy ever called him back.

"What? Why would he call me?"

He had completely forgotten the voicemail.

Even worse, he doesn't even remember how he got to his mom's house. She found him in the front bushes in the yard the next morning, his suit torn to shreds by the needles.

"Where is your car?!?" the mom inquired.

"Huh? I don't know."

These kids these days.


The End of the Internet 

I just did a Google search, and it appears that the Internet has many ends.

This 'end' asks that you "please switch off all the servers before leaving." This one says to read a book, while this one commands that you go outside and play.

This 'end,' claiming to be the final directory on the last webserver, demands that YOU MUST TURN AROUND NOW AND GO BACK. But this more polite page calmly says to "Enjoy the rest of your life."

This end overdoes it with graphics and color, and this one congratulates you on a job well done.

Finally, this VERY last page implores you to "Please turn off your computer and get a life!!!" I think I'll take that advice.


Sad News 

Former NFL player Pat Tillman was killed in action today, in a firefight in Afghanistan.

I remember when Tillman dropped football to enlist in the Army Rangers. He turned down a lucrative contract to serve his country, and America applauded. His former coach, Dave McGinnis, said at the time, "It touches you pretty deep. Pat Tillman is a guy that is full of fiber, full of fabric, everything that he does goes right to the core of what is good and sound in our country."

God Bless Pat's family, and all of our troops abroad.

ADDED: Reaction from NFL.com. Some bloggers would like to see Tillman's #40 retired by the NFL.


NFL Draft: Mock Drafts 

I'm going to try to find as many mock drafts as possible today.

CNNSI's Dr. Z checks in first. He evidently didn't get the memo that Eli Manning would just as soon spend the Fall chasing tail in Oxford, MS, as to take the field in San Diego.

Other Dr. Z notables: Roy Williams slips to Detroit at #7, and the Texans take Tommie Harris at #10. I really want that to happen, by the way. He has Dallas taking Arkansas OL Shawn Andrews. I could live with that.

ESPN.com's draft (apparently posted on Monday and updated Wednesday, before the Manning mess) has San Diego taking Manning first. Roy falls to Atlanta at #8, while the Cowboys grab Chris Perry. They also have Tommie Harris crapping Chicago Bears helmets. I'm sure my buddy Paul will love that.

ADDED: The Daily Texan puts the 'mock' in Mock Draft. The humor misses as much as it hits, but it's worth a read.

One example: 2. Oakland Raiders
Howard Dean Governor Vermont
After going 4-12 and missing Jon Gruden's fiery intensity, the Baytown Bad Boys snag the temperamental Democrat. Oakland sweeps their preseason games, but successively wins only one inconsequential regular season game and then has the audacity to show up for the playoffs, despite not being encouraged or even invited to attend.

ADDED: CBS Sportsline's Pete Prisco has the NY Giants trading up to nab Manning, while the Raiders take Williams. Roy's Texas teammate Marcus Tubbs lands in New England, one spot before the Cowboys draft Kevin Jones.

Sportsline's Jay Glazer has Manning in SD, Williams with the Raiders, and Dallas selecting Miami OL Vernon carey.

ADDED: I'm throwing in CFN's draft, though I don't put much stock in their opinions. If Roy Williams falls to #9, I will change this site's description to "I love John Kerry" for the next week.


Swept Away 

A week after taking three games from the Cardinals in St. Louis, Houston manages to return the favor.
St. Louis squeaked out a 2-1 extra-inning win last night to complete the three-game sweep.

I'm not going to put too much stock into an April series, but the Stros could have used that game last night. Getting swept is always tough, but getting swept by a team that you owned a week earlier, and in the process derailing the momentum it created, is tough to take.

The way they lost made it even tougher. Roy Oswalt followed up his three-hit shutout of Milwaukee with a good outing -- four hits and one run allowed in seven innings. Except for a couple of bad pitches in the fourth, he held St. Louis hitters in check all night. But since the Astros bats went cold, Roy O's performance went for naught.

There's certainly no shame in losing to St. Louis; that lineup is nothing short of amazing. With the exception of maybe Marlon Anderson (who doubled last night), the 1-7 spots have no weak links. But you don't expect Jason Marquis to limit the high-powered Houston offense to one run off of six hits.

The worst thing is that Houston heads to Colorado now, and they don't traditionally fare well in the mountains. But with Duckworth, Clemens and Miller slotted to pitch (and a snowstorm threatening to shut down today's game, if not more), maybe the guys can get back to winning.


What About that Gas Tax? 

PoliPundit has a funny entry about John Kerry's fuel inefficiency.

I personally don't have a problem with SUVs. In fact, I hope to purchase one within the next year or three. But I also don't count on the support of the environmental lobby.


Thursday, April 22, 2004

Good News Out of "Left" Field 

Howard Fineman says that things are looking good for Bush, and he lists nine reasons why.

I'm not certain if he really feels this way, or if it's a posturing move, so that if Kerrey does win, Fineman and his liberal cronies can heap praise on Kerry's tenacious campaign skills. But either way, I think he presents a good assessment for why Bush's numbers have improved lately.


Layin' the Smackdown 

Bill and Hillary Clinton apparently used to watch the WWE "all the time." I notice that the article uses the past tense. Perhaps Bill and Hill stopped watching after The Rock spoke at the 2000 GOP Convention?

Hillary and Nancy Pelosi also made an appearance at a WWE event this week. I haven't watched wrestling since college, but I could see Jerry Lawler making a comment about Pelosi's "puppies" (I bet she was quite a looker back in the day).

Maybe in 2008, when Hillary runs for President against Condi Rice, the two can stage a debate in a Steel Cage.


NFL Draft: Over/Under (Rated) 

SI's Stewart Mandel seems to think that Roy Williams is the most overrated WR in the draft.

He labels Roy an "enigma," and says: even with the benefit of the nation's most highly recruited teammates ... to serve as decoys, Williams never dominated over the course of an entire season.

If dominating over the course of the season were a prerequisite for NFL success, then I would expect to see Kliff Kingsberry heading to San Diego.


Earth Day -- *Yawn* 

Apparently it's Earth Day, which edges out Valentine's Day for the most pointless date on the calender (I refuse to tout either as an actual holiday).

The Bush Blog shows that BC 04 will participate in several Earth Day-themed events. Why? Hard-core environmentalists will never make up the GOP's constituency, so why even give credence to their wacked-out, "Mother Earth is Dying," paranoia?


Seeing Red 

St. Louis shells Astros pitcher Tim Redding. The Houston hurler drops to 0-3 after allowing four HRs.

The boys at Orange Whoopass (where I've tried to register, without success, about four times) wonder what to do with Redding?

I've felt since Spring Training that Redding was just keeping the five-spot in the rotation warm until Carlos Hernandez was ready to assume the role. He's 2-0 with an 0.84 ERA through two starts in New Orleans.

Whether Hernandez is the answer or not (Brandon Duckworth looks to be next in line, with Andy Pettitte due back next week), I think three awful starts for Redding means that someone else should get an opportunity.


Wednesday, April 21, 2004

I couldn't find the ESPN link, but you can check out Roy Williams' pre-NFL Draft chat, along with some discussion, at Longhorn FanZone.

These chats usually follow the same pedestrian pattern of softball questions and canned answers, but Roy gets off a few good lines.

-On possibly being drafted by Atlanta: Nobody would lose on Madden with Vick-Williams and Price! That would be awesome!
-On the Mike Williams situation: Doesn't affect me at all. That question should be for Reggie Williams or Lee Evans.
-On playing with his NCAA 2004 character: That's all I use is Texas .. I like to share the wealth and not throw to myself all the time
-On whether or not he'll flash the Hook'Em sign after his first NFL TD: Oh, yeah. The tradition continues

I'm glad someone asked about NCAA 2004. I got the opportunity to interview Roy in 2001, and didn't have enough time to sneak that question in.


Aggie Loyalty 

This entry at Political State Reports, which focuses on several Texas Democrats facing tough re-election bids to the U.S. House this Fall, caught my eye.

The Congressmen in question were all targeted in the Texas Legislature's recent re-districting effort. But Rep. Chet Edwards (D-Waco) apparently has an advantage that some of his brethren don't enjoy -- his new Republican-heavy district also includes his Alma Mater, Texas A&M.

"To be an Aggie is a terminal disease, and they never get over it," said Charles Elliott, a political science professor at Texas A&M-Commerce. "How much of an advantage it will be to Edwards, I don't know. But there is a long tradition of very intense loyalty by the students and graduates of Texas A&M."

How long before all Edwards campaign material includes "Beat the hell out of t.u."?


Bush Looking Good in Florida 

Today's Morning Reads post in the official Bush/Cheney 04 Blog links a piece from The Hill, which shows potential good news for Bush-backers.

Most of Florida’s prestigious newspapers have accepted Mason-Dixon’s dominance and subscribe to its results — so when Coker’s latest survey of 625 Florida voters taken at the beginning of this month showed Bush beating Kerry 51 percent to 43 percent, Republicans had a strong justification for joy.

I say "potential" in the interest of maintaining an objective view.

By the way, PoliPundit readers know that today is "Wictory Wednesday". Check it out.


San Jacinto Day! 

Today marks the 166th anniversary of the Battle of San Jacinto. If you've seen The Alamo, then you would recognize San Jacinto as the brief battle at the end.

Sam Houston led the Texas army to victory on April 21, 1836, losing fewer than ten men in the 18-minute battle. In the aftermath, Texas soldiers captured Santa Anna, who later agreed to the treaty that established Texas as its own free Republic.


Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Does Weed Smell Like Cherrios 

I saw this yesterday on OxBlog. It's a link to Eve Tushnet's list of Google hits to her site.

My favorites:

Does weed smell like cherrios
Tobey Maguire voice gets on my nerves
alcohol is good for every age people
how many kinds of hippopotamus are there
a poem about mexican man and a mexican girl with sex

I wonder how you find your Google hits.


That's a 10-4... 

Wonkette is having a little fun with the Bush/Cheney 04 trucker hat. Count the existence of this item as the most embarrassing error during the Bush Administration's 3 1/2 years.

Now maybe if the Abercrombie & Fitch crowd actually voted...


Worst. Song. Ever. 

It's Starship's "We Built This City," if you believe Blender magazine. The gang at Hornfans.Com has a discussion going about the list, which you can read here.

Of the Top Ten listed (the full Blender Top 50 airs May 12 on VH1) I would have chosen Achy Breaky Heart as the all-time worst. It checked in at number two. I'm also curious as to how Hanson's Mmmm-Bop escaped inclusion. And apparently Blender restricted the contenders to just pop entries, otherwise The Aggie War Hymn would have merited a mandatory mention. Whoop!


Florida... Here We Go Again??? 

An entry at Political State Report cites an article that shows John Kerry attempting to use the 2000 Election to score political points. In his campaign stop in Palm Beach, Kerry said: "To know that you won, and not be inaugurated and not be able to serve is an unbelievable scar to carry"

First off... how many times is the Democratic leadership going to mis-state the facts? Al Gore lost. The Electoral College, and not the popular vote, determines the Presidency. Should we re-count Florida again?

I realize that every time a Ted Kennedy or Tom Daschle stands in front of a podium and cries about losing in 2000, the crowd goes nuts. But what does that say? To me, it just reinforces the fact that the Democratic Party is more about soundbites than substance.

UPDATE: My apologies to Temple at PSR. I did not intend to imply this his site is trying to perpetuate the lingering controversy over the Florida debacle. PSR is actually one of my favorite resources, and a balanced one at that.


Monday, April 19, 2004

Something New, Something "Old" 

I'm a week late, but there's news out on the upcoming Old 97s release, "Drag It Up."

Says Bassist Murray Hammond: "We're almost done with the new 97's record, we'll all have a lot more to say about that in the next couple of weeks. It's gonna be good, I'll tell ya that right now."

Long-time fans, such as myself, certainly hope Hammond speaks the truth. Old 97s frontman Rhett Miller told me last Fall that the new record should represent a reversal, of sorts, from the direction taken in the band's past two albums.

What can fans expect from the new album? “I have a feeling that the next 97s record will be a little more, I don’t know what the right word is, rootsy?” Miller says. “It will be a rock record, maybe similar to Too Far to Care, with maybe a little bit more of a spectrum of the songs – some quieter stuff than we did on that."
That will probably come as good news to many fans, who have followed the Old 97s since their Hitchhike to Rhome days. Early on the band was known for its edgy, rock-infused country style, but their sound has gradually crescendoed more into pop on Fight Songs and 2001’s Satellite Rides.

As a fan, I didn't dislike the last two efforts. But I don't think their radio-friendly hooks and melodies equaled the earlier albums. I have yet to hear any of the new songs (by comparison, I had heard almost half of Satellite Rides at shows, a good six months prior to the release), but should I get the opportunity, I'll post my thoughts.

The new record should hit stores June 29.


T-minus 6 1/2 Months... 

One subject that I have yet to fully tackle, during this blog's short lifespan, is the Presidential Campaign. As a political junkie, who has kept close tabs on the race's progress since last Fall, I expect to follow this closely through the Election.

At one time I considered keeping a running projection of the Electoral College, and then I found Scott Elliott's Election Projection, which I thought did a good job of tracking the race. Today Scott included a link to Federal Review, which I will add to my bookmarks as soon as I get home tonight. Federal Review also tracks the Electoral College, using a different method than EP, and in reading the analysis there, I found a link to yet another tracking site -- Dales' Electoral College Breakdown 2004.

All three sites include state-by-state breakdowns and color-coded maps, and I look forward to having fun playing around with the FR and Dales as much as I have with EP.

Right now EP has Kerry leading 291-247. FR has Bush ahead 299-239, and Dales' has Bush 277-202 with four states (59 points) still too close to "call." For the record, my initial analysis, which I haven't really updated in a while, predicted a 317-221 Bush win.

Of course polls and predictions are meaningless at this time (or all the time, in the case of the latter), but we can still have some fun between now and November.


Hey, whuddayaknow? 

Seems like Kris and Joanne aren't the only ones reading the site.

My Alamo review received a mention over at Baseball Crank.

I'm not sure how the guys there stumbled across our site, but I appreciate the mention. Baseball Crank trails only InstaPundit in terms of my most frequently read blogs these days. The confluence of sports and politics offers the only such venue that I've found (and represents the direction I'd ultimately like to take with this site) in my limited time thus far with the blogosphere. It's a great read!


Sunday, April 18, 2004

LM Day 

27 years ago, the world was graced with myself and Drew.

Happy Birthday to me...and Happy Birthday Drew!


Thursday, April 15, 2004

The Torture I Put Myself Through 


Why does this God that we all place on such a high pedestal have to put a really really hot girl in my workplace...have said girl be ridiculously charming....dress her well and make her classy...then, as if that wasn't enough....have said girl flirt with me and invade my thoughts at all moments of the day...

And then, just to kick me in the groin, give her a boyfriend?



Those Wacky Canadians Part II 

First they wanted to criminalize speech. Now Canada wants free speakers to cease and desist.

One might think they'd have more important things to do than harass a little guy like me who is merely trying to provide Canadian bloggers with a valuable resource site and directory of Canadian web logs.

You would think so, right? Frankly I don't see how the Canadian government gets anything done, what with all the time they spend Bush-bashing and coping with their massive inferiority complex.

As Glenn Reynolds notes, theis recent trend toward silencing opinions in Canada is indeed disturbing. Imagine what would happen if our government acted in this manner?


Excuse Me? 

The Astros' three-game sweep in Busch Stadium this week didn't impress Jim Edmonds.

"I think they're the same team they had last year, I really do," Edmonds said. "I really don't think there's any difference. They've got decent pitching, they've got good defense and they've got good offense."

Um, right. Decent pitching?

Decent enough to shut down the "best offense in the NL" the past two games. What a crybaby!


NBA Playoffs Set 

It will be the Mavs vs. the Kings in the first round this year.

Well at least the Mavs' impending first round exit will be entertaining.

Other WC matches include: Minnesota v. Denver; Lakers v. Houston; San Antonio v. Memphis


Wednesday, April 14, 2004


21-9, bay-bee!

Yours truly went 3-4 from the plate, and I would have been perfect, but for a spectacular play from the third baseman, snagging a line drive that I shot down the line.
The 'Chez moves to 4-3 on the season, and even though we can't win the league title next week, we can take out the champs. We WILL take out the champs. The 'Chez can't be stopped.


Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Astros...McCaul...Horns... GWB 

I had a Bible study tonight, so I missed out on a Tuesday night filled with excitement (if your idea of excitement is baseball and politics).

Roger Clemens led the Astros to a 5-3 win over St. Louis in his second outing of the young season. I actually taped this game and am watching it now. The Rocket looks sharp! Both Adam Everett and Lance Berkman went deep (I'm only through three innings so far) and Roger has a no-no so far. It's quite odd updating a game that ended an hour ago, so I'll stop now. I hadn't intended to know the score before watching the tape, but I accidentally saw it when I flipped it to channel 77 to see if it was over yet. I took the proper precautions -- muting the sound and covering the top corner with my hand, but the just-ended game had the linescore plastered across the bottom of the screen. Ooops.

Michael McCaul is headed to Washington DC as District 10's newest Congressman. He won with surprising ease. I hope he accomplishes a lot on the Hill, and I intend to closely follow his term. Also of note: Victor Carillo secured the GOP nod for Texas Railroad Commission, an unknown-yet-important seat in the state governement. What makes the race interesting is that his opponent, Robert Butler, attempted to win based solely on his name -- an Anglo one. He never campaigned or granted interviews, and reports say that he hoped most Republicans wouldn't vote for a Hispanic. Thank God Carillo proved him wrong.

The Texas Longhorns extended their record to 36-4 with their fourth win this season against defending national champ Rice. Way to go, Horns! I caught the post-game show as I left Bible Study, and apparently the game featured a few strange incidents. I haven't read a story yet.

President Bush took to the airwaves tonight to address the nation on Iraq, followed by a press conference. I have not seen the speech yet, but it seems to have drawn mixed reviews (read: reviews have broken along partisan lines). Glenn Reynolds blogged the whole thing and has an informative collection of updates and analysis over at InstaPundit. I might write more on this after I read the transcript. From the little I've seen (and read) so far, Bush appears to have done fairly well. But soundbotes and pulled quotes don't always tell the whole story. More later (hopefully).


Fun With Mark Cuban 

I'm a Spurs fan, but I love Mark Cuban's antics. I think he's good for the NBA, and good for sports. I check out his blog a few times a week, and he recently had some negative things to say about San Antonio fans: "Spurs fans are just irritating and rude at all times."

Cuban, from what I hear, takes the time to answer most of his e-mail from fans, so I thought I'd send him a note about the comment.

Here is my message:

Hey Mark, I'd like to respond to your comment that "Spurs fans are just irritating and rude at all times."

Come on, that isn't true. I'm a Spurs fan, as are many of my friends. And though I can't vouch for every single one of them, the majority of us pull for the Mavs when the Spurs aren't playing. Hell, my Mavs buddies and I even tried to get tickets to watch y'all oust Sac-town in the second round last year.

I don't see a reason why Texas basketball fans have to follow the whole Houston/Dallas mentality, as it applies to the NFL. There are two (possibly soon-to-be three) premiere b-ball franchises in the state of Texas, and when no matter who you cheer for, I'd say the majority of Texans would rather pull for the in-state rival than see the NBA title go to LA or anywhere in the East.

His reply came about ten minutes later:

lets put it this way, I have been called by an owner to apologize for fan
behavior twice,and both times its been by the Spurs fans.

I have had things thrown at me , only at spurs games

The new mascot was so low rent, he came over to try to put me down in a
skit when the Spurs were UP 20 some points. Thats bullshit and lowrent.

its an earned title



I followed that up with:

So it looks like you got me on that one. f the haters, man. At least one Spurs fan enjoys what you bring to the game.


I haven't gotten anything back yet, but should he reply, I'll post his comments. I love that Cuban is so open with fans (and the media, too, based on his blog posts). A lot of people criticize his actions, but he nver shies away from explaining them, which I find refreshing these days.


Discounting Dingers 

Now that Barry Bonds has tied his Godfather, Wilie Mays, for 3rd all time in home runs, the critics will surely come from all sides to discount the slugger's accomplishments. Frankly, I'm tired of every home run achievement getting dogged by "experts" and fans alike.

Steroids, bandbox parks, watered-down pitching... the haters will lob any and every excuse possible to place asterisks next to modern records, as if baseball today can't equal the stars of yesteryear.

It's crap -- all of it.

Barry Bonds uses juice? So did Ken Caminiti and Jose Canseco, and neither of them are on a Major League roster. They're no older than Bonds, so why aren't they launching rockets into McCovey's Cove?

Wrigley Field is a notorius hitters' park? Babe Ruth hit an insane amount of round-trippers into the short "home run porch" in right field at Yankee Stadium. Sure, some of the new parks have smaller dimensions. How is that a bad thing?

Expansion has diluted the talent pool? The US population has increased by almost 120 million people in the past 40 years. Baseball also now imports much of its talent from Latin America, and Japanese stars continue to make the jump to the Majors. So how can anyone, with a straight face, complain that there isn't enough talent to fill 750 roster spots?

Today's power hitters feast on weak pitching? Ruth's 1927 Yankees feasted on a lot of bad pitching, too. The Bambino didn't get 60 HRs by facing guys, night in and night out, with 2.00 ERAs.

Today's players are stronger, faster and better-conditioned than ever before. They play ball all year, and they use training techniques unheard of a half-century ago. Baseball has simply changed. The excuses are what's ruining the game, not the game itself.

And if you want to place blame, then how about placing it with the league? Shoebox-sized strike zones and lowered pitching mounds have had much more of an adverse effect on ERAs than steroids. So if anyone should be whining, then I could accept it from pitchers.

As far as the rest of you are concerned... shut up and let's play ball!


Monday, April 12, 2004

Paging Danny Ocean... 

The Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas lost power early Sunday morning.

Sound familiar?


F Alex Rodriguez 

I'm watching him on Letterman and the guy is so corporate it will make you sick.

I realize you can't say Texas sucked and going to Boston would have been even more pressure-packed than New York, but geez, lose the cheesy laugh and say something of substance.

Say what you want about Michael Irvin and Keyshawn Johnson, but at least you aren't wondering what they meant when they finish the interview.

And yes, I'm still bitter that he bought a house in Highland Park that he never stayed in outside of baseball season and that he never appeared in any Rangers' marketing blitzes.


Forget The Alamo 

My initial thoughts at the conclusion of The Alamo focused on how bad I thought the movie was.

The story trudged through more than two months of Texas history, without ever clearly articulating what was going on in Texas' struggle for Independence, or why the fledgling territory desired Independence in the first place. It glossed over key parts of the Texas Revolution (which did not begin with The Alamo), and it never developed any of the key characters or catalysts that led to the battle, for which the movie drew its name.

As a born-and-raised Texan, and the son of a Texas history buff (I've been told that our family has an ancestor that fought in the battle, though I haven't ever researched the claim's validity), those facts didn't necessarily bother me.

But those facts combined with weak dialogue, misplaced schmaltz, and a score that won't soon make anyone forget John Williams, the film more resembled a made-for-HBO drama than a blockbuster epic. THAT bothered me. And the fact that I sat through two hours and 17 minutes about the soul of Texas, and I never once gasped in awe, or got a single chill -- THAT more than bothered me. It disappointed me like no movie in recent memory has.

History defines The Alamo as the "Cradle of Texas Liberty." 186 brave men sacrificed their lives to stand up against a harsh dictator, in the name of freedom. That is a part of my heritage that I cherish, and as such, I would hope that director John Lee Hancock, a fellow Texan, felt the same way. If he didn't then I question why he agreed to do this picture. And if he did, then I question why he didn't show it.

Hancock's film is devoid of emotion. A few brief speeches try to inject feeling into the movie, but they fall short. Hancock seems more interested in challenging the mythology of the Alamo's defenders, than he is in accurately portraying them. And that's fine, to a degree. But the film goes out of its way to portray the garrison as a collection of bumbling fools; a backwards group of rednecks, whose sacrifice came more out of ineptitude than honor.

There's an old insult that Texas-bashers like to use. It says, "If The Alamo had a back door, then everyone in Texas would still be speaking Spanish." The truth is that back door or not, the Texan defenders could have turned tail and ran at any time. Their fate wasn;t sealed until the early hours of March 6, when Santa Anna's forces began their final assault.

Hancock doesn't tap into that bravery. Instead he shows us a teary-eyed Will Travis addressing his troops in movie history's most uninspiring solliloquy, and an absurd scene that has David Crockett -- by this time resigned to his fate, and in the midst of a moral crisis -- attempting to raise spirits by fiddling in perfect harmony with the Deguello (Mexico's symbolic drum-and-bugle conveyence that the enemy shall receive no mercy).

By the time the final assault does come, it's unclear as to why we should care? In Hancock's defense, the battle scene itself was well done. The actors -- who, in fairness, did a great job throughout the film, despite getting stuck with a mediocre script -- re-created the battle much better than in previous Alamo depictions, based on what we know of its details.

Unfortunately what follows serves as possibly the film's lowest point -- a comical (unintentionally so, I hope) scene in which Crockett, the garrison's sole survivor, calls for Santa Anna's surrender. The dictator refuses and the scene fades away with Crockett screaming as four bayonette-equipped Mexicans charge to finish his execution. Then the film moves directly into the cat-and-mouse game that Sam Houston played to trap Santa Anna in the Texans' decisive San Jacinto victory. But once again, Hancock glosses over details, opting for a quick battle scene that concluded with a text overlay.

I won't pretend that my bias didn't preclude me from enjoying this film as much as some others may. And I'll admit that it wasn't as bad as my initial reaction suggested. It did have good qualities, namely the actros' performances, and a quality comination of set design and cinematography.

But I entered the theater hoping for Saving Private Ryan, or Braveheart, or even We Were Soldiers. Instead, I got Windtalkers, and that might be more than Hancock deserves.

I'll give it a generous 5/10.


Mark Cuban, Chris Rock, and Weird Cell Phone Calls 

Mark Cuban has had a problem with crank cell phone calls lately. Those pesky Spurs fans just love giving him crap!

Anyway, in dealing with a rash of annoying calls, Cuban referenced this tale, from a woman in NYC that happened to get Chris Rock's old cell number. It's an interesting read, as is the ensuing update.

The whole thing reminds me of when I used to have Ricky Williams' cell phone number. I got it from Matt, who got it from his girlfriend, Rachel, whose sister dated the former UT star. There were a few times (usually drunken nights) when I thought I might call, just for the hell of it. But I never did.

Oh, and Go Spurs!


Those Wacky Canadians 

Canada is no place to speak freely. For that matter, neither is most of Europe. It appears that a person could now, in our neighbor to the north, commit a crime just by making a public statement opposing homosexuality.

That's if Bill C-250 passes. It would add "sexual orientation" to the Canadian hate propaganda law, thus making public criticism of homosexuality a crime. It is sometimes called the "Bible as Hate Literature" bill, or simply "the chill bill." It could ban publicly expressed opposition to gay marriage or any other political goal of gay groups. The bill has a loophole for religious opposition to homosexuality, but few scholars think it will offer protection, given the strength of the gay lobby and the trend toward censorship in Canada.

I'm speechless (no pun intended). How can you criminalize speech? What a bunch of homos.


Master of His Domain. 

Our long national nightmare is over! No, Air America hasn't gotten the ax yet, but Phil Mickelson finally won that elusive Major champioship. I rejoice in this fact, simply because now I don't have to hear about his Major futility any longer.

I've made no secret about my disdain for Lefty, after witnessing him crumble under the pressure too many times. Plus, I always felt that he played it safe too often, like the David Sims character in the movie Tin Cup. But it seems that Mickelson finally "went for it" and it paid off.

Congrats to Lefty. I'm still not a fan, but now the mere mention of his name no longer annoys me. Before everyone falls all over themselves annointing the newest owner of the Green Jacket, however, as one of the game's greats... keep this in mind: An old golf adage states that anyone can win a Major. But it takes two to rank as a Great golfer.

I figure Mick will probably win another one at some point, but I thought I'd throw it out there anyway. The real question now is: Who is the Best Golfer, who has yet to win a Major? I suppose Colin Montgomerie will draw that honor. Some might say Sergio Garcia, but I think he's too young for that moniker.


Friday, April 09, 2004

Most Influential Political Bloggers 

Right Wing News has the 29 most influential political bloggers posted on their website, and it's a nice mixture of both liberal and conservative blogs.

I've visited a couple of them, but only visit Instapundit and OxBlog regularly.


Break Up the Rangers! 

R. A. Dickey pitches 7 innings of shutout baseball and Texas roughs up the Angels, 12-4, for the club's second straight victory. The Rangers' offense shelled Ramon "Don't call me Pocket Pedro anymore" Ortiz, to the tune of 7 runs in 2 2/3 innings. And 23.62 looks more like a washed-up tech stock price than the ERA for the fifth starter on a World Series contender.

But hey, that's American League baseball.


Vegas, baby! 

I've had Vegas on the brain lately. A few weeks ago, I read Bringing Down the House, about a group of MIT kids that card-counted their way to millions. The a few nights ago, my buddy Chris called to fill me in on his St. Patty's Day trip to Sin City.

And today, I happen upon The Sports Guy's latest piece of brilliance.

We're coming off a late-night gambling binge at the Hard Rock, one of those scary nights where you wake up in the same clothes -- on top of the covers, spooning the "Late Night Food" menu, reeking of cigarettes and spilled beer, praying your wallet is sitting on the nightstand.

Maybe you've been there. Your tongue feels like a piece of dry steak. You can see your breath. Your complimentary $7 bottled water has been mysteriously polished off; and you don't know whether to blame your roommate or yourself. You blink a few times to make sure your contacts aren't still in your eyes, then you say another prayer that they made it into their case.

I have been there (except for the contacts part). It's the greatest you can possibly feel, and still be hungover (barring a Texas Football National Championship, which I imagine would feel pretty good). The best part is... you're just an elevator away from doing it all again.

I think I want to plan a trip for this Summer. The LM has been away from Vegas for far too long.


Tiger Makes a Charge! 

In usual fashion, Tiger has made a day-two charge to get back into contention. Woods has gotten back to even through 17 holes today. Justin Rose maintains the overall lead, at -6, through 14 holes.

ADDED: Unless Phil Mickleson (currently -2 through 15) does something amazing, Rose will head into the weekend with the lead. The current leaderboard suggests a lot of compelling golf during the course of the next two days.

Past champs Tiger (E), Jose Maria Olazabal (-4) and Mark O'Meara (-1) all are in contention. And some of the "young guns" on tour remain in striking distance, including Charles Howell III (-1) and Sergio Garcia (E). Familiar faces Ernie Els and Davis Love III (both -2) and Fred Couples (-1) all sit among the Top 15 as well.


Go Barry! 

I hereby kick off my campaign to root for Barry Bonds to hit 60 HRs.

Maybe he did use steroids. But there is so much out there presented as fact (one of my friends swore for years that Bonds' head grew two hat sizes...actually it was Sosa's head that did that), without even giving the guy the benefit of the doubt that it is sickening.

And the fact of the matter is that muscle mass does not necessarily equate to higher home run totals, or Gabe Kapler would have more than 55 career home runs.

Go Barry!

BTW, Baseball Musings is another good baseball blog if you have never seen it.


Here's to you, Mr. Robinson! 

For the first time since the regular season finale against Texas A&M, Texas Football has managed to excite me. More specifically, new UT Defensive Co-Ordinator Greg Robinson has me pumped up with expectations for the Horns this Fall.

Here are a couple of good articles on Robinson (CNNSI, ESPN1 and ESPN2). The first two focus more on Robinson's arrival at Texas, while the latter is more of a Q&A about defensive schemes.

All three are worth a look.

Most Texas fans moaned when Robinson came on board in January. He had just received a pink slip in KC after the Chiefs' D got torched in the AFC Division playoff game. After watching Texas cede big play after big play in their three losses last year, Robinson seemed like the least likely guy to turn things around.

But I like what I read. He's talking about mixing things up and a being aggressive, two things that the Texas D lacked in the past few seasons. Recommendations from Pete Carroll, Monte Kiffin and Dick Vermeil also give me hope that Robinson can come in and have an immediate impact, much like those three coaches have done in their careers.


Miller Time 

Houston has a day game this afternoon with the Brew Crew up in Milwaukee. Normally the Brewers give Houston trouble, but Wade Miller takes the hill for Houston, and he's owned Milwaukee in the past.

If for no other reason, I want to beat these guys because they kept us out of the postseason last year, winning two-of-three in the final series of the season. The Brewers swept St. Louis in a three-game set to open 2004.

I'm predicting that Whitey scatters 6 hits and 1 run over 7 innings, in an Astros win.

ADDED: Miller has allowed 2 runs on 4 hits, with 5 Ks, through 5 innings. The Astros are tied, 2-2.

ADDED: Houston has broken the game open in the 6th. Richard Hidalgo picked up a two-run double (as well as another single), and Jeff Bagwell hit his second HR of the year. The Astros lead 11-2 heading into the bottom of the inning.


Raising the Price of Sin 

Two weeks ago at the District GOP Convention, Gov. Rick Perry pledged that the state would not increase property taxes. Yesterday he reiterated that pledge and announced how he intends to do so.

The plan:

The goals of the Perry plan, which will be on the table when he calls lawmakers into special session at an unspecified date this month, are reduced property taxes, more money for public schools and an end to the so-called Robin Hood plan under which property taxes from districts with high property values relative to their student enrollment are shipped to districts that have lower property values.

Good. I never agreed with state-sanctioned socialism to begin with. But the plan also begs the question: how does the state make up for lost revenue from the property taxes -- without instituting a state income tax, which Perry also opposes.

Other parts of the $7.1 billion plan, as noted in the article:

-$2.5 billion would come from an additional $1-per-pack levy on cigarettes.
-$714 million through 2007 by rewriting an exemption that allows many businesses to avoid paying the franchise tax.
-$172 million through 2007 by shutting down the system that allows buyers and sellers of used cars to cut the tax hit by lying about the sales price.
-$90 million through the next biennium would be raised through the proposed $5 tax on admissions to "adult entertainment" venues featuring live entertainment.

The plan raises some questions about whether or not these tax hikes will raise the expected money. But if the alternative is a state income tax, then I'd rather see how this works.


Public Service 

Okay, so Drew is blowing me away in blog entries. And he knows how to do the fancy little links. So let me try my hand at this.

I bring you two very different blogs. The first one, MadPony.Com is an interesting blog from a University of Oklahoma senior and her sister. Some nice pictures...but remember, only one of them is legal. This one was suggested to me by our friend Kevin.

Next, we have Gordon Keith's blog. Gordon is a personality on The Ticket in lovely Dallas, TX. You might not *get* all of his blog because you simply don't know the characters in his stories, but it's pretty funny for it's randomness and abrasiveness.

UPDATE: Sweet. I kick ass.


Thursday, April 08, 2004

Tiger's in TROUBLE! 

Three-time Masters champion Tiger Woods could face the possibility of missing the cut. Through nine holes, Tiger trails Justin Rose by nine shots.

So much for my prediction.


The Polarization of America 

Bill Bishop writes in today's AA-S that Americans have become increasingly separated by their political views in recent years.

By the time George W. Bush narrowly defeated Al Gore in 2000, the nation's counties had grown more politically segregated than at any time since the end of World War II.

Meanwhile, those majorities are growing. Nearly seven out of every 10 voters live in counties where presidential elections are becoming less competitive, according to a study of U.S. election data by the Austin American-Statesman's statistical consultant, Robert Cushing.

Does it matter that American voters are increasingly living in ideologically homogenous communities? The American-Statesman queried more than a dozen political scientists, social psychologists and political pollsters, and they all said, yes, it matters a lot.

It seems faily simplistic, but at the same time it's interesting. I agree that peoples' views tend to grow more extreme when they're mainly exposed to like-minded individuals. But does that say more about personal convictions, or about a weak willed desire to not "rock the boat"?

Maybe a little of both? I'm no psychologist, but I like to think that I approach ideas with an open mind, though I do admit that I'm predisposed to think the conservative view is the initial best response.

I would like to see more of these kinds of articles. If society is indeed growing more ideological, just for the sake of toeing the party line, or of evening out the other side's ideology, then perhaps it's time to re-evaluate why we think what we think.


Perry backs McCaul 

Gov. Rick Perry has added another significant endorsement to the Michael McCaul District 10 Congressional campaign. McCaul faces Ben Streusand in the April 13 run-off.

Perry described McCaul as a "experienced prosecutor and committed conservative." Streusand's campaign manager countered by labeling McCaul as a "political elite," due to the number of endorsements from statewide elected officials (including Sen. John Cornyn, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, and former Sen. Phil Gramm).


Are you serious? 

Bob Kerrey accuses Condi Rice of filibustering during the Q&A part of her 9/11 Commission appearance.

KERREY: I know it's important. Everything that's going on here is important. But I get 10 minutes.

RICE: But since we have a point of disagreement, I'd like to have a chance to address it.

KERREY: Well, no, no, actually, we have many points of disagreement, Dr. Clarke, but we'll have a chance to do in closed session. Please don't filibuster me. It's not fair. It is not fair. I have been polite. I have been courteous. It is not fair to me.

I understand that we have a disagreement.

RICE: Commissioner, I am here to answer questions. And you've asked me a question, and I'd like to have an opportunity to answer it.

Is the point of this to address things publically? Or is Kerrey merely looking to score a few cheap political points? Because it seems to me that if he intends to ascertain the full truth behind closed doors, then this testimony is nothing but a charade... at the expense of the taxpayer. Way to go, Bob!


Condi on the Hot Seat 

I caught just a smidgen of Condi Rice's testimony this morning. I wish I had set the VCR, but I'm sure that either C-Span will air it later, or else one of the news services will provide a transcript. As a Condi proponent, I have little doubt that she will provide the panel with the answers that they're after. But let's be honest... our nation has become so partisan that no matter how well -- or poorly -- she does, a lot of people from the Right or the Left will cry "foul."

The Volokh Conspiracy addresses that with a humorous "Hardball" Bingo. I'll have to include updates for coverage that I find, which proves the speculation correct.

ADDED: Looks like Rice has already concluded her testimony, but the link does not include the Q&A follow-up.

The pedestrian FoxNews coverage of the testimony didn't include any of the aforementioned "talking points," but then again, it wasn't an op-ed either.

One quote I found Interesting: We're asking these questions on behalf of the American people," commissioner James Thompson, a former Republican governor of Illinois, told Fox News Thursday morning. Thompson added: "I don't think anybody's looking for an apology and I don't think an apology should be expected."

Snark! Richard Clarke isn't going to live that down anytime soon.


Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Quick Hitters 

A few thoughts before bed...

I had a softball game tonight (we won, 11-4, to even our record at 3-3), so I had to tape the last few innings of the Astros game. By the time I left, though, Houston had pretty much sewn it up. Roger Clemens' debut couldn't have come at a better time or in better fashion. The Rocket struck out nine in seven innings and allowed just one hit in the 10-1 win... I caught part of Alan Keyes' address at the Black American's PAC 10th Anniversary Event today on C-SPAN. I'm not sure his oratory ability has a rival in today's political landscape. I'm a fan!... Ben Streusand's newest ad just aired. "I'm a businessman, not a lawyer," he proclaims. And? Why is business so superior to law? Could that statement actually sway anyone's vote? It's not like Michael McCaul made his name chasing ambulances (cough... John Edwards... cough). I can't figure out if these guys want to run clean campaigns, or if they're just that bad at slinging mud... The Tradition Like None Other gets underway tomorrow. Over/Under on the number of times Jim nantz uses that phrase? I say 102 -- on Thursday. I'm going to make a bold prediction: Tiger Woods... Condi Rice goes before the 9/11 Panel to answer questions tomorrow. I'm sure that wannabe Democrat John McClain will go out of his way to brown-nose John Kerry.


Gay or Not Gay? 

So tonight I found myself watching ABC's The Bachelor. Only because The O.C. is not on this week, mind you. I've caught a couple minutes of some of the finales only because I know people will be talking about it the next day, but I'm not a regular viewer.

But just a couple of random observations:

--Jesse Palmer, former University of Florida quarterback and current NY Giants quarterback, is "The Bachelor" this time around. Some of the girls called him, "the hottest bachelor ever". That is quite the bullet point on Mr. Palmer's resume.

--F the Giants.

--It's quite an odd concept for me to imagine going into a room full of 25 beautiful women, knowing that you are going to be spending the next six weeks with them. I get excited when I talk to 2 girls....at once!

--Does it take a special woman to go on these shows, or is it all types? I mean to go on this show, you have to A.) Want to be on TV; B.) Want to fight multiples of other women for this guy; and C.) Be ready to marry this random person after 6 weeks.

--I can only imagine the amount of hazing that Palmer will receive from his teammates because of this show.

--The beauty contest winner from Rhode Island has a funny forehead. Perhaps that is why she wears a read dress with her cleavage falling out.

--I felt sorry for the girl that got the "wrong rose".

--He left two of the hottest girls out. The one that looked like Elisabeth Filarksi (Hasselbeck) and the hot little latina that liked football.

--One of the girls went to UT, and he said, "Ah yes, a Longhorn," and proceeded to do the Hook 'Em. Pretty cool.

--Yes, the fact that the hot chick at work watches this show was a major reason why I gayed out for the night.

--Not that there is anything wrong with that.


For the Guys... 

Jersey GOP has their latest Republican Babe of the Week posted.

This week's conservative chica is Karen Hanretty, Communications Director for the California Republican Party. I honestly don't know much about Hanretty, but her work with the Gover-nator out in California should put/keep her in the public eye as time passes.

For the record, I rarely hesitate to toe the GOP line, but that Top Ten list below Hanretty's bio just isn't funny at all.


Err America 

Al Franken's baby, Air America got off to a rocky start when it debuted last week, and the waters aren't getting any calmer.

After getting mocked by the Right (and the not-so-Right) now Air America has come under fire from the Left, as some in the Black community don't appreciate the stations' usurping urban radio.

Air America "is a joke," says the Alternative Press Review... The Amsterdam News calls it the "final nail in the coffin of the right of Blacks to access the airwaves."

Democratic leaders can't be too happy.


The Dumbing-Down of America 

This brief piece from FoxNews mentions how PC textbooks have "watered down stories in social studies books."


According to a study done by the American Federation of Teachers ... only 11 percent of eighth-graders have even a basic understanding of United States history.

Add that to the percentage of eighth-graders (or tenth-graders, or twelfth-graders) that can't master basic spelling and punctuation, and what do we have? THE UNITED STATES PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM!

Perhaps more federal funding could solve the problem? And maybe teachers could Hollywood revisionist history "epics" to supplement their watered-down lessons. I hear that a movie fitting that description opens nationwide on Friday.


Barry Bonds 

Two games into the 2004 season, Barry Bonds' batting average stands at .571. With all the controversy surrounding Bonds and his ties to BALCO, skeptics will surely spend most of the season denouncing the slugger's achievements, no matter what he does on the field this year.

"He was juiced when he hit 73 HRs in 2001," they'll cry. "He damamged the integrity of the game," they'll say.

So What!

To say that Bonds never used steroids would fly directly in the face of conventional wisdom. But I don't see the direct correlation between steroids and offensive output in baseball. Baseball is a skill sport, and all the testosterone injections in the world won't help you learn to hit a curveball, or even to catch up to a 100-MPH heater.

Bonds has always done that. He's topped the .300 benchmark in batting average 10 times during his career. And he led the leage in Home Runs more than a decade ago, when no one talked about steroids.

The simple fact is that people don't like Bonds. He's brash. He's arrogant. His antics rub people the wrong way. So his critics will try to use anything to discredit him. But all they have 73 Home Runs (from one season; he's never hit more than 50 in any other year, and I defy anyone to tell me that he couldn't hit 45 Home Runs without a drop of juice). Nevermind the eight Gold Gloves (do steroids help you make plays in the field?) or the 500 stolen bases, his success must be tied to the juice!

Please. Bonds is the best player of our generation, and among the top few of all time. This steroid witch hunt cannot change that.

ADDED: Just in case Bonds launches career HR 660 tonight to pull even with his Godfather Willie Mays at No. 3 all-time, no excessive celebration will ensue.

It's an interesting piece. Also included are gracious remarks from Bonds about Astros pitcher Roy Oswalt, who surrendered the game-tying three-run HR to Bonds on Monday.

"If Oswalt didn't get tired, man, he would have won the game. I believe he got a little bit tired. His curveball was not as sharp like the first four or five innings. You couldn't touch that curveball. He kept putting it right on the money. In spring training, guys are not throwing 99 pitches yet. But they made the right decision because he's winning the game. This is your horse. This is the guy who is going to be your future.

"He may have made a good pitch and if he gets me out, what do you say? He got me out in a big situation. That would have been the headline, too. 'Big situation nails Bonds.' If I hit him, it's reversed."

See... he's not such a bad guy. But then again, I'm a Bonds fan.


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