Archive for July, 2010

Trade Deadline Moves

July 31, 2010

I like the moves the Pirates made today.  First of all, they got rid of Ryan Church.  Moving both he and Bobby Crosby (along with Carrasco who is more significant) when they were sitting on the bench not doing anything and getting a very useful catcher in return was a deft move.  Snyder’s offensive numbers are off his career average but he is coming off of injury and he’s very good defensively.  Catcher has been a position of liability for the Pirates this year as Ryan Doumit, when healthy, hits .250 and might be the worst defensive catcher I’ve ever seen.  The Pirates got a starting pitcher for Octavio Dotel who I was not anxious to get rid of but probably wasn’t going to still be here the next time the Pirates are good.  And in Joel Hanrahan and Evan Meek the Pirates have other guys that can close.  We even got a AA player for Javier Lopez from the Giants.  We shall see how the moves play out, but I like them.  During the pregame this evening Bob Walk was talking about Doumit playing right field when he comes off the DL.  God I hope not.  Tabata is on an 11 game hitting streak and Milledge is hitting great with runners in scoring position and is rounding into form now that Russell finally wised up and started playing him every day the last few weeks.  As far as I’m concerned Doumit can be the reserve outfielder and 3rd catcher behind Snyder and Kratz.  If his power was more frequent he would need to be in the lineup.  But it isn’t.  If he hit .300 instead of .250 it would be different.  He doesn’t.  If he wasn’t so injury prone it would be different.  But he is.  And he’s a defensive liability.

I am less upbeat about the moves the Indians made.  One prospect for Westbrook, a solid starting pitcher?  Cash or the vaunted PTBNL for Kerns?  They weren’t going to get a ton for Kerry Wood of course, but they didn’t get much a couple days ago for Peralta either.  These trades feel more like dumping their veterans than actually getting value.  I hope I’m wrong, but its what it looks like to me.

Which lineup would you fear more, the Yankees are the rest of AL All-Stars.  Of course, good pitching could still shut that down in October, but adding Berkman and even Kerns to that lineup that already existed . . . wow.  I am a bit surprised that Adam Dunn didn’t go anywhere; the Nationals have to know they won’t have him back in 2011, right?  Red Sox and Mets didn’t make any big moves because they know they’re out-gunned this year either way?  Should be a fun last 2 months of the season.

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The Shirley Sherrod Saga

July 21, 2010

Plenty of anger to go around here, but most of mine is directed at the incompetence of the Obama Administration, specifically of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.  How do you fall for this?  Andrew Breitbart specializes in making misleading videos that tells fictitious, or at least extremely misleading, stories about liberals.  Furthermore Fox News played a large role in creating the Tea Party movement.  The White House had to know that the NAACP would be on Breitbart’s short list with ACORN out of the way, and they had to know that Fox News would be looking to take down the NAACP after it requested Tea Party action against its racist elements.  Of course the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy has spent the past week denying there are any racists in the Tea Party movement, the plain evidence of the racial epithets against Congressman and Selma survivor John Lewis and other incidents notwithstanding.  There has also been the attempt to point out black racism with the dismissed voter intimidation case against members of the New Black Panthers (Black Panthers are racist?  Shocking!).  But it should have surprised no one when Breitbart and Sean Hannity did an edit job on the video of a speech at an NAACP function given by an employee of the Agriculture Department named Shirley Sherrod.

Which begs the question; why did Vilsack fire her summarily?  Would it have really harmed anything to spend a day or two at least investigating things, getting her side of the story, making sure that was the full story?  To my knowledge the thing wasn’t even a story on neutral media until after the poor woman was fired.  Now of course its a huge story and everyone looks bad.  If Vilsack and the White House had shown some of Obama’s customary rationality and patience it would have only been Breitbart and Fox News that looked bad.  The White House did a very poor job of knowing thy enemy.

RIP James Gammon

July 19, 2010

Lou Brown in the 1989 movie Major League.  He was 70:

http://content.usatoday.com/communities/entertainment/post/2010/07/actor-james-gammon-dies-at-age-70/1?csp=mostpopular

Give ’em a heater!

Fisher Wants 7 Debates

July 19, 2010

Below is a letter Lee Fisher sent Rob Portman suggesting 7 debates for their upcoming Senate campaign (as contained in a Fisher campaign e-mail sent to me and countless others):

Congressman Portman:

I am writing to propose we meet for a series of debates across Ohio to present voters with the clear choice they have in this election.

Just last week I met with workers in the Mahoning Valley. And it’s there you can see the choice voters have this November – the choice between going back to the failed trade policies that sent our jobs overseas and the investments we need to make in creating new jobs right here in Ohio.

At Delphi, thousands of hardworking men and women have lost their jobs and pensions due to no fault of their own. But just down the road, the GM-Lordstown plant has restored its second and third shifts, creating hundreds of jobs and the fuel-efficient cars of the future. And for the first time in three decades, a new steel plant is opening at V&M Star.

I’m running for the Senate because I believe Washington is broken. I believe Ohio’s middle class families can’t afford to go back to the same failed policies and the same failed politics that got us into this economic mess in the first place.

While you and I have proposed vastly different plans to get our economy moving forward again, we both have a responsibility to share our plans for creating jobs directly with Ohioans.

Ohioans deserve to hear from both of us-about what we’ve done for Ohio and our vision for how to help our great state continue to recover from this recession. How to rebuild our middle class and ensure our children have the opportunities to get an education and raise their families here.

We should discuss our different ideas during a series of 7 debates, from Dayton to Appalachia; from Toledo to the Mahoning Valley; from Columbus to our hometowns of Cincinnati and Cleveland and allow all Ohioans to hear from us firsthand.

We can have a respectful, substantive debate about how each of us would create jobs here in Ohio. That’s what Ohioans deserve, and why we must meet with them to share our ideas.

I look forward to meeting with you. I hope you’ll join me.

Sincerely,

Lee Fisher

I like politics and all, but 7 debates sounds rather redundant and, well, dull.

BGSU Night at Mud Hens Game

July 15, 2010

For anyone that will be in Toledo in a few weeks:

http://www.bgsufalcons.com/news/2010/7/15/GEN_0715103047.aspx

Frozen Four Coming to Pittsburgh

July 13, 2010

The 2013 Frozen Four will be played at the Consol Energy Center:

http://penguins.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=534321&cmpid=pit-twt-pghpenguins

Ready for The First Four?

July 12, 2010

The NCAA, in its infinite wisdom, has come up with a hokey way to format its new 68 team tournament:

http://sports.espn.go.com/ncb/news/story?id=5374116

The purist in me would have gone with the obvious idea, which is to have the “worst” 8 teams play 17 v 16 games for the right to play the #1 seed in each region.  Having the “worst” 4 at-large teams (3 of the 4 would have been left out using last season’s format) playing the “worst 4 automatic bid teams (the 4 #16 seeds using the 64 team formats of yore) is a bit, um, creative.  The theory is you are making these teams “earn” their way in.  In reality fewer small school teams will make the round of 64, more power and mid-major conference teams will, but these are relatively mediocre at large teams and the chance for an upset is there, particularly if a team has an off night playing an HBCU team being under-valued by the RPI.  Also, it could make the Round of 64 games more compelling, as teams that were #15 seeds under the 64 team tournament format are now the #16 seeds, the 14s are now 15s, and etc.  And it does preserve the fact that, entering the season, everyone has a chance, unlike bowl subdivision football.  I’ll watch it.

***UPDATE*** Even hokier than I thought: I guess its a combo of 17v16 type games and play into a #12 type games.  Oh well.

Creamer Tames Oakmont

July 11, 2010

And in so doing claims the US Women’s Open title that she has craved for years.  Excellent play all weekend; she had to play the majority of her 2nd round Saturday morning and had to play 23 holes today after the heavy rain that pelted Allegheny County Friday afternoon, and she had to do so on a sore thumb still recovering from surgery.  Despite all this and a course that was a bear for most of the field, she managed to shoot a -3 when no one else could manage even par.  At various times it looked like the likes of Cristie Kerr and Suzanne Petterson could claim the trophy, but Creamer outlasted them all.  Congrats to the Pink Panther of women’s golf!

Of course, the schedule shows how far down the pecking order women’s golf has slid in recent years.  NBC signed off on Saturday at 6pm despite the fact that, to get as close to on schedule as possible, play was going to continue until darkness.  Its not like NBC had anything else to show, they just punted it to their affiliates and the normal Saturday evening summertime schedule.  It didn’t get punted to ESPN2 who was too busy killing time with poker.  It didn’t get punted to the Golf Channel even, who was only showing a studio show.  Oh well.

Spain Can “Basque” In Glow of World Cup Victory

July 11, 2010

After their hard-fought 1-0 win over the Netherlands, getting a goal in the 116th minute and just four minutes shy of it going to penalty kicks.  They used the same formula that had served them well after a 1st game group stage loss to Switzerland; don’t let the other team score and get a goal soemwhere.  Its not exactly that their defense was airtight today; the keeper had to make a couple saves that were either very good and/or very lucky.  But won they did and the people of Madrid and Barcelona can be very proud in their team tonight.

Looking back at the tournament as a whole I think South Africa did a good job hosting the show.  I never got any closer to Johannesburg than Pittsburgh so of course I am basing this largely on media reports, but it seems that things ran rather smoothly.  Unless, of course, the vuvuzuelas were too much for you.  As per usual with a World Cup, sadly, the main story moving forward to Brazil 2014 and beyond is how can the officiating be improved.  Far too many horrible calls of various forms for an event of this magnitude.  As I have blogged previously I don’t think instant replay really fits the game of soccer, the continuous action and so forth.  However I see no reason why we can’t have two on field referees, goal judges, and perhaps technology also judging the goals.  It would also be great to see something resembling consistency on what constitutes a bookable offense and what doesn’t.  Its one thing to have variable strike zones in baseball, quite another variability on what warrants a yellow card considering that 2 yellows in the tournament forces a guy to sit the next match.

Also, a plea to Africans; lay off Suarez of Uruguay; smart play, it was what he had to do, in the 120th minute of a tie game any footballer in the world would have done the same thing.  Maybe the rule in that case should be automatic goal, but it isn’t.  Maybe the Ghana player should’ve made the penalty kick.

Lebron Starts a South Beach Diet

July 8, 2010

I might be the only person on the blogosphere discussing this topic this evening, so I’ll try to hit all the high points.

I couldn’t help noticing that Lebron looked a bit uneasy this evening.  I don’t think he’s fully convinced he made the right decision.  Given that he had obviously given up on the Cavaliers situation for whatever reason.  If he considered them a valid option, he would have stayed there.

Given that was leaving Cleveland, I’m not sure that Miami was his best option.  Yes he, Wade, and Bosh make a great menage a trois, but there is no room under the cap for the Heat to go out and get the Robert Horry or Derek Fisher or Steve Kerr that is usually necessary to win a title.  Maybe the 3 superstars and 9 role players can pull it off.  They, assuming good health, should be in the upper echelon consistently.  But I fear the 3 of them will have to have a combined 80 points a game too often for it work between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.

I think the best fit for him would have been Chicago.  Boozer, Rose, Noah, et al I think that team would’ve been the overnight favorite at least to win the East (I know my friend Nick disagrees).

Obviously with this decision Lebron is saying that it doesn’t matter much to him whether he’s Batman or Robin.  He was obviously Batman, would have been Batman in Chicago or New York.  In Miami Dwayne Wade is Batman.

This is a devastating decision for Cleveland.  I am a fan of the Cavaliers but its more tangential, being primarily a Pittsburgh guy that grew up a Bird-Celtics fan but always had loyalty to the Cavs being the most local team, so there are others better able to speak on the emotions of this.  The emotions will be very raw in Cleveland, especially if people notice how similar Lebron’s quote of, “My heart will always be in Cleveland” is to Art Modell’s, “I left a piece of my heart in Cleveland” when he took the Browns to Baltimore.    Speaking personally with a Pittsburgh analogy I was very angry at Barry Bonds when he left.  I disliked him strongly, and the last image of him as a Pirate being the failure to throw out Sid Bream trying to score from 2nd base certainly didn’t help him.  Only 15 years and a counter-reaction to the vitriol Bonds took from the overly-puritanical bender the national media has been on with regards to steroids in baseball got me to soften my opinion of Bonds somewhat.  There will be many Cavaliers fans that will never be able to forgive Lebron for betraying them.  At least for several years it could very well be true in Lebron’s case the old adage you can never go home again.  It will not be a pleasant scene the first time the Heat visit Cleveland next season that is for sure.

But in the long run Lebron made a business decision, pure and simple.  Obviously only time will tell on how it plays out for him.