" That's just the sort of blinkered, Philistine Pig ignorance I've come to expect from you non-creative garbage!"

John Cleese

Friday, May 30, 2008

Friday Fatuousness

We here at BRE have a love affair with local news.  
Growing up in Iowa pre-internet gave it to us.  With crappy local newspapers and USA Today as the only national daily offering anything outside our world in print, TV inevitably became the way to get anything closely resembling something in the nominal realm of something coming close to newsy-like substance.

But like every other town across this strange land of ours, local news inevitably devolved into a comic routine instead of an actual outlet for news gathering and usually just morphed into an exercise on how low budgets, inferior talent and just plain stupid people thought news should be offered to the general public.  

Moving to Chicago, I thought this might change, if only slightly.  It took about two days to get over that misconception.  

So today, for Friday Fatuousness, we examine the first half-hour of yesterday's ABC7 4pm news broadcast, item-by-item, to better understand the silliness.

Let's get started.


Lead story - the cabbie fight that resulted in some d-bag throwing his cab in reverse and running over two pedestrians outside Union Station (Theresa Gutierrez was on the scene).  Not bad.  It was a slow news day locally in Chicago.  And they had video of the chaos so of course it was going to lead.  Being ten blocks away from ABC building on State helps.  It was a cheap run.


Crash on I-80/94 near Gary where a semi ran over a car during the morning rush hour causing the death of a 24 year-old woman.  Again, the news copter got 'art', probably the traffic copter pulling double duty.  


Fight outside the Cook County Criminal Courthouse after a defendent was acquitted of murder.  Five people were hurt.  Copter got 'art' of police cars with sirens on.


Barack Obama has a clean bill of health and Andy Shaw offers news three days old about the Michigan and Florida seating of delegates.  Local twist with interview of Chicago Democratic official with no say in the matter.  Two snippets of interviewee lasting about 3.8 seconds, offering nothing.  


Mike Caplan gives us First Weather outside the ABC7 studios.  A gaggle of people behind him wave into the camera and call their friends to see if they're on TV.  No four year-olds interviewed this time.


A school bus in Cincinnati carrying disabled students run into a ditch.  There was video.  NO ONE WAS INJURED!


A firefighter in Texas was fired for making a fast food run after getting an emergency call and before going on said call.  


Pièce de résistance.  And the impetus for this post.  A jungle gym was stolen from an elementary school in Washington state.  Alan Krashesky's copy:  Police say thieves used bolt cutters to get get it apart and say the thieves most likely sold for scrap metal...PROBABLY FOR DRUGS!


Off The Street market news from the NASDAQ.


Breaking News:  Polygamist Children Returned in Texas.  That's it.  No details.  And thank God we're updated constantly on this dopey-ass story.




A man in Germany proposed to his fiancée by sending 50 lighted paper lanterns into the sky, causing people in the area to mistake them for UFOs and called the police.  In case you were wondering, she said yes.


Janet Davies continues to play out the string by interviewing Greg Behrendt on Chicago Close-Up.  He's the stand-up comedian who worked on 'Sex And The City' and wrote the book He's Just Not That Into You, causing Davies to cringe at the title as a possible affront to women.


Following a legitimate story about a shooting on the South Side, we go to the Northwestern University story about the students being upset with Daley being the commencement speaker.  

Interviews with students include 'I'm from California and I'm moving back to California after graduation so Chicago politics don't really affect me' and 'I'm a little disappointed.  I was hoping for a bigger name speaker' and emails to the president including 'I and many other students consider the choice of Mayor Daley as an unequivocal slap in the face to the graduating seniors', causing the president to respond with 'this is a silly, offensive letter...grow up...you seem like a very unhappy person' (BTW, some NU students thought Julia Louis-Dreyfus was a bigger name speaker).

That's it, folks.  The second half-hour was as bad with a story including police forcing a woman to watch a sex tape she made.  And the second round of national news roundup included three fires with video with thick, billowing smoke 'that could be seen miles away'.

And people wonder why everybody is flocking to other sources for their news.  It's become something akin to News of the Slightly Weird with Video.

I.  Learned.  Nothing.  And it's an hour of my life I can't get back.  Can I bill ABC7 News for my time?

Maybe I'll just go try to sell scrap metal to recoup the loss.  Nah, I'll probably just buy drugs with the money.

Bull Shit or Not?

Come on. There's actually tribes that have never been contacted in any way by the outside world?! Never have seen a plane or helicopter or heard a truck? In this day and age? I'm having a hard time buying this.
That said, if it is true this is pretty fascinating shit. Just think, a group of people that have never known the hell of 'My Boys', Phil Rogers or Hillary Clinton. Lucky bastards.

(CNN) -- Researchers have produced aerial photos of jungle dwellers who they say are among the few remaining peoples on Earth who have had no contact with the outside world.
Taken from a small airplane, the photos show men outside thatched communal huts, necks craned upward, pointing bows toward the air in a remote corner of the Amazonian rainforest.
The National Indian Foundation, a government agency in Brazil, published the photos Thursday on its Web site. It tracks "uncontacted tribes" -- indigenous groups that are thought to have had no contact with outsiders -- and seeks to protect them from encroachment.
More than 100 uncontacted tribes remain worldwide, and about half live in the remote reaches of the Amazonian rainforest in Peru or Brazil, near the recently photographed tribe, according to Survival International, a nonprofit group that advocates for the rights of indigenous people.
"All are in grave danger of being forced off their land, killed or decimated by new diseases," the organization said Thursday.
Illegal logging in Peru is threatening several uncontacted groups, pushing them over the border with Brazil and toward potential conflicts with about 500 uncontacted Indians living on the Brazilian side, Survival International said.
Its director, Stephen Cory, said the new photographs highlight the need to protect uncontacted people from intrusion by the outside world.
"These pictures are further evidence that uncontacted tribes really do exist," Cory said in a statement. "The world needs to wake up to this, and ensure that their territory is protected in accordance with international law. Otherwise, they will soon be made extinct."
The photos released Thursday show men who look strong and healthy, the Brazilian government said. They and their relatives apparently live in six communal shelters known as malocas, according to the government, which has tracked at least four uncontacted groups in the region for the last 20 years.
The photos were taken during 20 hours of flights conducted between April 28 and May 2.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

RIP Harvey Korman

As good as it got. Thank You.


And from an overlooked performance from the underrated "High Anxiety", another Brooks/Korman collaboration

"We came for a fight not a dance." (10:10 mark)
Well done, Harvey.

Let's Dispel A Few Myths

I idiotically spent an hour last night reading a few progressive message boards (halfheartedly - I was also watching the Angels inept offense slog through another game) and a strange theme continues to persist.
It's old hat but still amazing in the age of endless information.

The oil companies are colluding to rob Joe Consumer (still haven't met this guy) of his income and make record profits.

Like most times I read silliness of this ilk, I begin to get a little frustrated and think of a way to cogently and concisely lay out an argument and actually think about entering the debate.  

I came to my senses and followed my no-post policy instituted after the Great Salon 2004 Presidential Election Debacle of 2004 that consisted of more than a few people contending that one unnamed right-wing man had rigged the 2004 election for Bush, planned 9/11 and fixed the currency markets that led to the 1998 Asian Market Crisis. 

This is why it's difficult for me to get active for the Democratic Party these days.

But I digress.  After I moved on from the brink of posting w/r/t the oil companies, blogging it came next, if only to vent a few frustrations and make it feel superior.  Again, the time involved seemed prohibitive and who knows? - Phil might post a column or Rachael Ray might wear a sharf that only slightly resembles a sharf worn by Arabs for a Dunkin' Donuts commercial.  These monumental issues take precedence here at BRG.

And then, like kismet, Andrew Leonard from How The World Works at Salon.com did the work for me and in a manner so unbelievably better than I ever could.  

Read it, know it, love it.

Let's list some of the salient points mentioned by Leonard:

1.  Surging demand for oil in China and India

Demand for oil is not inelastic.  Plop 2.46 billion into the market with a growing propensity for wanting a middle-class lifestyle that includes a car and markets become a little grabby.  

2.  The falling value of the dollar

Checked flights to Europe lately?  Heck, checked flights to Cleveland lately?  Hell, checked prices of anything imported lately?  Oil is an internationally traded commodity.  Currency fluctuations are part of the dealio.  

3.  The impact of commodity price speculation by energy traders

If anything, the Wild West world of speculators found its nadir in the 1998 Asian Crisis.  They seemed to take it as seriously as playing a game of Monopoly.  But this go-around, some of the concerns by speculators, at least how I understand it, seem to have some legitimacy. 

4.  The Iraq War   

Before the 2003 invasion, Iraq was exporting 2.5 million barrels/day.  At its bottom, they sat at about 1.2 million barrels/day in 2006 (up to 2.1 bbl by latest numbers).  Reduce Iraq's infrastructure to a nation on par with Afghanistan and there will be issues.  It's like flushing $500 a month of your income down the toilet and wondering why you're poor.

5.  Political/production turmoil in Venezuela, Nigeria and Iran

Chavez completely nationalized the oil industry in 2001, effectively eliminating Exxon from any primary extraction duties.  Early results as to the abilities of Venezuela to maintain peak production led speculators to doubt that Venezuela can maintain/surpass its past levels.

Nigeria's oil production (2.4 million barrels/day) is in disarray with the systemic assassinations of oil executives by gangs borne out of the poor slums near oil fields where pollution ravaged the area.  

Iran.  Well, we know Iran.  No new fields, poor infrastructure and talk of an Iran post-oil has the international market a bit quesy.

See chart here for an overview of output by nation.

6. Peak oil thesis: As the production of existing oil fields in Russia, Mexico, the North Sea and possibly Saudi Arabia inexorably declines, discovery and exploitation of new sources of oil are becoming steadily harder and more expensive.      

And we know this.  This explains the rush for Bakken shale and even the production of green algae gas.

7.  The price of gas in the United States is a consequence of global economic growth, rising standards of living, greed, politics and the stresses induced by 6.5 billion people going about their business on a planet with limited resources.

It's a volatile stew, people.  

8.  And it's not really the refineries.

The portion of the refinery cut of the gas price is relatively small and even they are having a problem making money with the high cost of crude impeding the ability to raise the price of the refined product given the recent volatile effect of raising prices has caused on demand.

No new refineries have been built since 1974 in the United States and many have closed.  Yes.  But essentially, the production loss of closing of inefficient refineries was picked up by the expansion and technological advancement of the existing, better producing ones.  

And don't blame environmental laws.  The effect is minimal and the industry quickly adapted.

More importantly, and infinitely more interesting may be the laundry list of varying state laws as to special blends of gasoline legislated by the states for their citizens to use.  It effectively creates a regional monopoly for some refineries, limiting competition because they are the only ones that produces that special blend.  

9.  The oil companies DO NOT set market prices.

As stated before, oil is a globally-traded commodity.  Exxon, Shell, etc. extracts oil from the ground, takes the oil and puts it on the market for oil traders to bid on.  The oil companies do not set some mythical minimum price and anything of the sort.  It's a simple bidding and extraordinarily complicated daily, hourly, by the minute and second bidding war by people in the market.  Blaming them is like blaming Goodyear when your tire blows out because you decided to drive over a bed of nails.  

10.  In many ways, it's a perfect storm that may or may not change.

I'm no fan of the oil companies.  They routinely ignore environmental laws, appease dictators, exploit the poor and generally only care about making shareholders money.  But the issues that caused the $4 a gallon gas price at the pump is a little more complicated than the fallback 'oil companies are greedy bastards' mantra spewed by the frustrated.  

And there are oodles more factors part of the equation not listed here.  It's a veritable cornucopia of factors playing their part in taking money out of your wallet.  

It's called How The World Works for a reason.  Read it, know it, love it.  Thank You Mr. Leonard.   

Mate's Musings

16 Inch Softball Update: Have played 2 games so far. The first was atrocious. I actually swung and missed...in softball. 4 ABs: 5 foot swinging bunt dribbler (hit), blooper (hit), weak pop out, dribbler (reached on error). The worst part? I was DH. Best part? I'm batting .500
2nd game: Not as bad. Actually hit the ball hard first AB but right at the 3rd baseman, second AB was a weak ground ball that the guy booted. Best part of game: Over in 35 minutes. Back in time for Family Guy.
It's ok. It is what it is. But all this has done is made me want to start playing hardball again. Do I dare?
I've hit the proverbial "post wedding plunge". By that I mean the inevitable let down after you get home from the honeymoon and you realize that you've spent the last 8 months to a year planning or at least helping to plan the extravaganza. Something to do every night, something to be planned or paid or looked at every night for a year....Now, we have nothing to do. It's a bit of a rut that will eventually go away but it is a bit vexing.

You ever get a call at work or have somebody show up at your place of work and get offended that you don't immediately recognize their voice/face? I get this about once a day at my job. I'm still fairly new here and these clients that have been using the company for 20 years call up and when I have the audacity to ask who they are, you would think that I just asked them to bend over and show me their balls. They are flabbergasted at the slight.

Why do people suck so much?
Ok, gals. You can no longer make fun of those guys that stand in line for the latest "Star Wars" movie and dress like Jedis.

Women are excited about the movie version of HBO series 'Sex and the City'
Andria LisleThursday, May 29, 2008

Marie Pizano-Firtik says her favorite character on "Sex and the City" is Samantha. "She's so bold." Pizano-Firtik is having a birthday party Saturday at the movie theater where friends will gather to see the show together. Here she wears her fave "Samantha" hat and the Bon Jovi T-shirt (he was a guest on an early SATC) she will wear to the party.

Megan Thompson, 23, who identifies with Carrie Bradshaw, maintains prettyinpinkmegan.blogspot.com, where she writes about fashion and various interests in her life.

Leslie Gordon, an undergraduate at the University of Memphis, can't wait to get together with her old friends Friday night.
"Charlotte adopted a kid -- I can't wait to see what she looks like now," says Gordon. "Samantha -- oh my God, she's crazy! I can't see her settling down with anyone. I want to see what Miranda's life is like now." (the female version of 'what did Yoda look like with a lightsaber?' quandary)
To the uninitiated, Gordon sounds like she's planning a reunion with her best buds from high school.
But Gordon is actually anticipating the "Sex and the City" movie, which she plans to see as soon as it opens Friday.
The TV series, which aired on HBO for six years, has a persistent cult following fueled by endless TBS reruns and the non-stop speculation about SATC protagonist Carrie Bradshaw's on-again, off-again relationship with Mr. Big, and her fictional friends Miranda Hobbes, Samantha Jones and Charlotte York.
Judging by fans' reactions and the wave of media interest surrounding the "Sex and the City" movie, the roller coaster romantic life of Bradshaw, a fashion-savvy newspaper columnist, still strikes a universal chord. (With White Chicks)
While Gordon, 20, credits her older sisters Lauren and Lindsay for getting her hooked on SATC from the very beginning, Memphis transplant Megan Thompson, 23, tuned in to the show as a teenager growing up just outside of Louisville.
"I want Carrie to get happily married," Thompson says, "so I hope there's no random twist."
During SATC's original run, Bradshaw's romantic blunders were legendary. (Spreading it on a bit thick but ok)Amidst the legion of one-night stands and idle flirtations, she managed to have a few lasting relationships with furniture maker Aidan Shaw, artist Aleksandr Petrovsky, novelist Jack Berger, and mysterious man-about-Manhattan Mr. Big. (I love that one song of theirs)
The break-ups were epic (again with the superlatives? Epic?)-- still emotionally attached to Big, Bradshaw (actress Sarah Jessica Parker) broke off her engagement to Shaw; later, Berger dumped her via a post-it note.
Fans connected with Bradshaw's uncertainty, and reveled in the in-between-the-sheets antics of the insatiable Jones (portrayed by Kim Cattrall). They worried about York's (Kristin Davis) reproductive system,(wow, now THAT'S a chick show) and bonded over the clever sarcasm that Hobbes (Cynthia Nixon) employed as a running commentary on her own disastrous love life.
Factor in the characters' flair for fashion (Manolo Blahnik, Jimmy Choo, Marc Jacobs and Helmut Lang were de rigueur SATC designer-wear) and the series' New York City setting, and producer Darren Star had a formula guaranteed to draw millions of women viewers.
"It definitely inspired me to want that kind of life," says Thompson, (the female version of the guy's that speak Klingon to each other) who writes a SATC-inspired fashion blog called Pretty In Pink (prettyinpinkmegan.blogspot .com/). (Couldn't pay me 500 dollars to read that)
"I studied abroad in Paris, and when Carrie went to Paris in season six, I watched those episodes about 30 times. The show even inspired me to buy my first pair of designer shoes. I'd watch the characters and think well, I can wear that, too." (Wow.)
SATC was revolutionary in other ways, too. (Epic, legendary and revolutionary. It's a fucking tv show about sluts.)
Namely, it showed women of a certain cultural and economic status having lots and lots of sex. (I just said that)
For Dr. Leslie Petty, an assistant professor of English and women's studies at Rhodes College, the program does raise complicated issues.
"Showing a female community like that is really innovative in a lot of ways," she says. "These women are liberated, they have money, and they're over 25, but they're still having engaged, sexy lives." (Because money and youth don't usually bring that sort of stuff--what?)
"But it is pandering to certain kind of fantasies," Petty continues. (the hell you say?)
"The clothes they wear and the amount of money they treat as commonplace is pure fantasy. At the same time, the show was so successful at tapping into the desires and anxieties that real women feel." (Fantasy Land)
For some young viewers, those fantasies and desires were a little too explicit as they played out on the small screen.
"I started watching SATC when I was 13, mainly because of the clothing designers," Thompson recalls. "As the show began getting progressively more and more graphic, I felt embarrassed." (Prude)
Dr. James Redmond, a former television news anchor, producer and editor, who serves as chair of the U of M's journalism department, said viewing SATC has proven to be a big challenge for adolescents who struggle with TV's interpretations of reality and maturation.
He chose to watch the program with his daughters Erin, Shannon and Megan, who were high school and college aged when the series debuted.
"The basic story line of the show is that these are people who are so self-absorbed with their hedonistic lifestyle that they can't have a meaningful relationship with anyone outside their immediate circle," Redmond says. (And this is different in real life how?)
"Did I want my kids to grow up like Samantha?" he asks. "You've got to be kidding! Do I hope they see her as a deeply flawed person? Yes."
Megan Redmond, now 25, says, "Honestly, I think it was harder for my dad to watch -- I think he was the one who was most embarrassed. You can't take this show at face value. The reason it's so relatable is that it's about women who have real problems." (yet we can't take it at face value)
"It's a show," says 38-year-old Memphian Marie Pizano-Firtik, who discovered SATC when she was working on the Chicago Board of Trade.
Pizano-Firtik, a philanthropist who founded Marie's Mission, co-founded the Tiara Tea Society and serves on boards for the International Children's Heart Foundation, the Women's Foundation for a Greater Memphis, and the American Heart Association's Go Red for Women campaign, adamantly defends the characterizations of femininity on SATC.
"Within my pack of girls, each one of us is like a character," she says. "We'd watch the show together every Sunday night." (If you were a guy you'd be living in the basemant of your parent's house)
And this weekend, Pizano-Firtik is assembling her coterie of close friends for a special birthday bash/viewing of the SATC movie at Malco's Paradiso Theatre.
She's planning to serve cupcakes from Muddy's Bake Shop ("They remind me of the ones Carrie would buy at Magnolia Bakery"), decorated with miniature martini glasses and Manolos, for the occasion. (A glamorized version of geek 'Battlestar Gallactica" parties)
"I'm sad that this is really the end for these characters," Pizano-Firtik says, "but at least I'm getting my girlfriends together to watch it." (Oh, yeah right. Get ready for 7 more of these things)
About the movie
Karen Scott of Malco Theatres says that the "Sex and the City" film will open on 13 screens in Memphis and Southaven Friday.
"It's been a highly anticipated film," says Scott, estimating that only 20 percent of the 2008 summer movie fare will consist of "chick flicks." (Thank God.)
Far fewer numbers have been tuning into new TV shows that have tried to re-create SATC's winning formula.
"Lipstick Jungle," the brainchild of SATC creator Candace Bushnell, debuted on NBC in February. The show, which stars Brooke Shields as a family-oriented movie producer, barely avoided cancellation this spring with just an average of 6 million viewers per episode.
Darren Star's "Cashmere Mafia," which aired on ABC this year, was cancelled after seven episodes. (With a name like that how did it go wrong?)
"I just didn't like either show as much as I liked 'Sex and the City,'" says Marie Pizano-Firtik. "They're trying to copy the original show, but they're so much more vulgar, and these newer characters are mean girls. "Sex and the City" was about bonding. The show was about women who get along." (Chicks getting along? Now, THAT'S pure fiction.)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Phil Watch: Cutesy Chicago Team Comparison Issue

Rare Wednesday offering from the Philster.  
This is the time of year columnists all over this land of ours belch forth silliness assessing the state of sports in their respective cities.  I'm sure Detroit's residents have been inundated with crap along these lines with the Pistons and the Red Wings in the playoffs at the same time (ESPN sure thinks it's cute).  

Anytime multiple sports converge - in the spring and in the fall - it's a gold mine for the lazy to fulfill their minimum contractual obligation by spewing dippy 'State of the City' crap.

Phil follows the theme by comparing the state of Chicago's baseball teams by making up categories and doling out symbolic baseball bats to the team who is better in the category in Phil's mind.  

In other words, more potential for stupid stupidness.  

Today, Phil Watch will focus on how many times Phil recycles shit he's already said in the past.

Let's get started.

Historic season looms for Chicago baseball

Quite the script. Two teams in first place. Nearly June. Will it bring playoff baseball to both sides of town? Both have what it takes for a Hollywood ending, but who is more likely to have a hit?

I insert the heading and sub-heading because it's funny that Phil used a sub-heading, period.

He's never used it and we all know his struggles with nut graphs.

Not that this is any better.  Linking baseball with Hollywood is soooo hackneyed.  

If the Cubs hold off St. Louis for another few days, this could be the first time in 31 seasons the Cubs and White Sox have both been in first place at the end of May. This, however, might not be the greatest harbinger of good times. The "South Side Hit Men" Sox slid to a third-place finish, 12 games behind division winner Kansas City that 1977 season, while the Cubs finished 81-81 and in fourth place.

Holy Crap!  What is the hell does what happened 31 fuckin' years ago have to do with 2008?!

This harbinger crap is one step short of meatball Cub fan 'billygoat curse' shit (I'm feeling a bit potty-mouthed today).

The Cubs are a better team than the White Sox, but it is the Sox, surprisingly, who could be better situated to advance as a division champ or wild card, based on their competition.

Overall, give the Cubs a marginally better chance to survive until October than the White Sox.

Make up your freaking mind!  These were back-to-back sentences.  It's not like Phil got lost along the way and contradicted himself a la Carol Slezak.  Back.  To.  Back.

That's based on the tangible (more organizational depth) and the intangible (general manager (sic)im Hendry seems better suited than counterpart Ken Williams to pull off a blockbuster trade at the July 31 deadline).

Those two are basically the same thing given we are 1/3 of the way into the season.  Since teams can't play more than eight fielders and pitch more than one person at a time, Phil's argument presupposes an injury and sudden ineffectiveness from some player.

Since the most expected to happen would be one or two players w/r/t the organizational depth argument, the Sox can fill that gap for THIS year with what they have at Charlotte on par with what the Cubs have at Iowa. 

Here's a look at the factors, with rankings based on a scale of one to five bats:

Goody.  Phil-Math.

Nothing is more important in winning when it matters most, in August and September, than the ability to win low-scoring games. Hitters rarely take pressure off pitchers, but it often works the other way around.

Bullshit.  Hitters routinely take pressure off pitchers by scoring a gazillion runs for them, hence the pitchers with wildly inaccurate win totals not representative of their actual ability.  See Jon Garland for the Sox and Daisuke Matsusaka who, BTW, reportedly now has shoulder fatigue.

Pitching and defense: White Sox 5 bats, Cubs 4 bats

It probably can't be sustained for a full season. But there's no reason the Sox can't remain near this level, as manager Ozzie Guillen preserves starters as well as any manager and these starters are allowing him to avoid overworking his relievers, as he did in 2006 and 2007.

Got a question.  Yes.  The bald guy in the third row.  Yes.  How exactly did Guillen 'overwork' his relievers in 2007 when the starting pitchers sucked balls? Did Guillen has a choice?

A follow-up question please.  Yes, go ahead.  If preserving starters is important to baseball teams being good at baseball over the long haul, does that alter your perception of His Dustyness?

Sir?  Sir?  I think Phil fell asleep.

Scoring: Cubs 5 bats, White Sox 3 bats

While Piniella bemoans the need for a left-handed run producer—a sign Kosuke Fukudome isn't living up to his potential—the Cubs are clubbing foes into submission.

I thought we loved his approach to the game?  

In fairness, Fukudome hasn't been spectacular lately with a .271/.370/.353 line in May.

But I think in fairness, 'potential' is a rather dubious description for him.  There was inevitably an adjustment period coming.  Pitchers realized he wasn't swinging at just everything and started pounding him low-in and realized he does, in fact, guess a bit, leading to the change-up being quite effective against him.

Organizational depth: Cubs 4 bats, White Sox 3

The White Sox should be glad they didn't trade Joe Crede. Third baseman Josh Fields, who hit 23 homers a year ago, and outfielder Jerry Owens, are available at Triple-A Charlotte. Ditto sixth starter Lance Broadway (5-2, 2.85 in 10 starts) and off-season addition Brad Eldred, a career minor-league slugger who has 18 homers and 49 RBIs in 49 games. He's a first baseman by trade but is playing some outfield.

And there's your one or two players to fill the gap I spoke of.  

But there's a reason Brad Eldred couldn't crack the lineup in Pittsburgh.  He's struck out 62 times in 186 abs in Charlotte while walking...10 times.  He's all or nothing.  He's an ersatz Rob Deer.

And Fields and Owens aren't exactly lighting up the International League.  But they do have a track record in the Majors and can fill holes.  

Kerry Wood will have to prove he can hold up in the closer's role, as he never has made more than 25 relief appearances in a season.

Um...what?  Wood's pitched out of the bullpen for exactly one season, last year, with a clearly defined bullpen role!  2005 doesn't count as he moved back and forth between the pen and the rotation because of his arm issues and a well-stocked rotation.  I'm not even a Cub fan and I remember the circumstances surrounding Wood's 2005 season.  Criminy.

Hendry hasn't tapped into his supply of prospects seriously since the disastrous three-for-one deal for Juan Pierre before 2005.

By golly, I nearly forgot Pierre was a Cub.  That seems like eons ago.

The White Sox opened the season over budget, raising a question about their spending.

Let's go back in time.  On February 18, Phil wrote a column bemoaning the Sox payroll as bloated, saying it will be in the range of $115-120 million this season.  The Sox receive $8.5 million in cash considerations not factored into the current $121 million payroll, leaving the actual payroll at about $112 million.  

They of course had to sign the key players from the '05 championship season because it was the right thing to do and those players are still on the books because, you know, it was only three years ago.  Since then, Kenny and Jerry have been quite sensible about long-term payroll projections while still staying relatively young and should be a major player in the free-agent market next year.  

Major shit comes off the books next year.  Look past the superficial, Phil.

The list of players possibly moving at the deadline includes Oakland's Joe Blanton and Rich Harden, Baltimore's Brian Roberts and Cincinnati's Adam Dunn and Ken Griffey Jr.

More recycled Dunn shit.  And I think the A's are going to have issues.  Yes.  But that probably won't come until late July when a brutal road stretch takes effect.  I don't see Oakland dumping two young and good pitchers given the AL's curious drop in power across the board this year and the effect good pitching could have on future prospects for goodness.  

One or two bats could do it for them and that can be had on the free agent market next year.  Too young to do any serious damage this year but primed to be a contender in that shitty division for years to come IF THEY KEEP THEIR PITCHING!

When spring training began, many predicted the free-spending, free-swinging Detroit Tigers might challenge 1,000 runs. They're on track to score 781 and that's not the worst news; their pitching staff is 13th in the AL in ERA, including a 5.17 mark from the starters.  Because this is a carryover from 2007, it could have been anticipated.

You, you, you, you, you.  You didn't!

'Many' includes Phil.  Read your own words.

That's a problem that can be cleared up, but last week's sweep by the White Sox could have lasting implications for embattled manager Eric Wedge and the Indians, who might have to consider trading free agent-in-waiting C.C. Sabathia.

Phil.  If you're going to repeat yourself over and over again, at least use different words/logic.  Make it at least look like you're making an effort.

Power Rankings last Monday:  7. White Sox (10): Sweep of Cleveland last week could have lasting implications for both teams.

And Sunday:  The Indians' visit to Chicago last week seemed like a dangerous stretch for the first-place White Sox. But by sweeping Cleveland, they not only maintained their lead in the American League Central but dealt the Indians a blow that could be remembered in September if they have joined Detroit in having a disappointing season.

It's lazy.  Just lazy.  When playing out the string in life, it's important to at least look like you're trying.  

Otherwise, it's just sad.

Mystery Solved

Well, I guess we're figuring out why the Angels were keen to trade a Gold Glove shortstop. He's a selfish prick. (Indicated in red).
Seriously, the Sox almost signed this buffoon to a multi year deal in Spring Training. Now, if this shit continues, I want him gone by All-Star break. Ozuna can play short.

Orlando Cabrera feels neglected by Ozzie Guillen
By Mark Gonzales Tribune reporter

CLEVELAND - The gulf between Orlando Cabrera and Ozzie Guillen seems as wide as Lake Michigan after the White Sox's shortstop implied Tuesday he didn't have the support of his manager after placing two calls during games to complain about unfavorable official scoring."If it happens again, I will call again," Cabrera said. "I don't have to do it with other teams because they always had my back. They don't want to do it here, I can take care of my own business. If you have a problem with what I did, come to me and say something. Don't go to the media to send a message, because he didn't send any message."Sox players rarely have questioned Guillen publicly since he took over in 2004. However, Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf and general manager Ken Williams have criticized him for being too protective of his players.

But Cabrera, who is enjoying a renaissance at the plate, feels as if he's on his own island after feeling neglected. Cabrera personally called the press box May 3 in Toronto and Thursday at U.S. Cellular to express his displeasure over errors charged against him. Both calls were overturned, but Guillen reiterated he thought the phone calls were made for selfish reasons."I never had anybody complain about that stuff," said Cabrera, who won his second Gold Glove Award last season with the Los Angeles Angels. "If there was a major-league player who tells me he's not selfish, he's lying. Everyone is selfish about numbers, because that's the only thing people cannot lie about. That's it. It's not a big deal. I don't know who's trying to make this a big deal. Maybe it's the media, maybe it's the manager. And nobody is complaining about that stuff. Nobody cares about that."It's not uncommon for a uniformed member of the Sox's staff to call a member of the media relations staff to ask an official scorer to review a call."We don't mind doing it," said Guillen, adding that he has placed calls to Chicago veteran official scorer Bob Rosenberg to question calls.But as a player, Guillen said he once regretted calling the press box to protest an error charged against him. Guillen said his manager criticized him privately."Like I said, be careful what you're doing, what you're saying, because when people find out, you have 25 guys to respond to questions," Guillen said. "I'm not mad about the case. I wish he would have handled that a little bit better. I'm the worst manager about [complaining to] scorers."… If Cabrera doesn't feel protected by that, I think it's wrong. I'm here for them, they're not here for me. I don't even remember what play it was. In the '80s, you didn't even care about it. Now, there are a lot of people with hurt feelings. It's not about feelings, it's about winning. [But] he has the right to do it."It appears this will be Cabrera's first and final season playing for the Sox. The free-agent-to-be declined to say whether he feels comfortable with the Sox."That's a tough question for me," Cabrera said. "I don't want to address it right now. We can talk about it in a couple of weeks."Williams seemed weary of Cabrera."Am I aware of some of the stuff that has been going on with Cabrera? Yes," Williams told a pool reporter. "I also know it has been addressed to him face-to-face. The one thing Cabrera needs to know about Ozzie is he has faults, and his No. 1 fault is that he protects his players too much. If Orlando doesn't understand that, he needs to talk to his neighbors."

"Always had your back"? What's the color of the sky in Orlando's world? You won a Gold Glove and they TRADED you for John Garland. Read the writing.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

It Just Keeps Getting Uglier

Fox News contributor Liz Trotta makes an off the cuff remark about a) killing Obama and b) trying to team him up with Osama bin Laden. Kind of speaks for itself but get ready for this type of shit from the party that brought you "Swift Boat"...

A Slezak Sighting

Slow news day at the Sun-Times because Carol Slezak was given some room in the sports page today! Holiday, y'know and Telander has "Self Righteousness Anonymous " meetings on Mondays.
And she doesn't disappoint. A meandering, surface scratching, silly little column that shows why she was a proud participant in the T of A.
Actually, I'm surprised it's not about Danica Patrick's completely self-aware and choreographed "melt down" at the Indy 500. It's the type of bullshit casserole Carol laps up with a big gigantic wood spoon.
Here's today's cat box liner:
For Cubs, it's location, location, location
Another Wrigley win gives them a holiday from road woes
May 27, 2008

BY Carol Slezak Sun-Times Columnist
That 2-4 road trip? Last week's news. The blown saves? Rearview mirror. The gimpy left fielder? We'll get to him later.
Back home for the first time in a week, the Cubs resumed their winning ways Monday. Good things typically happen for the Cubs at Wrigley Field, (since when?) and their series opener against the Dodgers was no exception.(One game) Consider some of the more remarkable things that occurred on a gorgeous Memorial Day afternoon:
The bullpen did not blow a lead. (I repeat, the bullpen did not blow a lead.)
A Cubs outfielder fought the sun and won. (No, his name was not Alfonso Soriano.) (This is an accomplishment?)
Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez hit home runs. (That hadn't happened since early April.) (Yeah! Homers are fun! Go Cubbies!)
Kerry Wood did not hit the first batter he faced with a pitch. (He merely buckled him with an inside pitch at the knees.) (Someone's done their homework a la Phil Rogers. By that I mean logging onto ESPN.com and clicking on "Cubs Clubhouse")
Soriano was not picked off base. (No, really.)
As if by magic, the Cubs resembled a first-place team again, (um..they are a first place team, dumb-ass.)beating the Dodgers 3-1. And if Bob Howry had a rough eighth inning, loading the bases with one out? Well, he escaped without giving up a run. (With a deep line drive out hit right at Edmonds that could've easily been a bases clearing double) And if Wood allowed a one-out single in the ninth, bringing the tying run to the plate? He made up for it by striking out the next two hitters. Game over, Cubs win and 41,583 sun-drenched fans went home pink-faced and happy. (Pink faced because they are all white as tube socks)
Dempster just keeps doing the job
You know what a game like this does? (Tell me) It allows everyone -- fans, players and manager alike -- to exhale deeply and say, ''Hey, we're a pretty decent team after all.'' Or, in the alternative, ''We're not as bad as our 10-13 road record would indicate.'' (Slapping head in disgust--What? How does winning one game at home somehow make up for being a bad road team?)
There was Kosuke Fukudome, battling the sun yet smoothly catching a fly for an out. (Smoothly? I saw it. It looked like a rabbit in the middle of the highway) There was Lee, putting the Cubs ahead early with a two-run homer, with Ramirez adding insurance with a solo shot in the eighth. (Homers are pretty!) It's good to see the middle of the order come through with big hits. (A homer in the bottom of the 1st and an insurance homer in the bottom of the 8th don't constitute "big hits") But the best thing about the win, which raised the Cubs' home record to 20-8, was Ryan Dempster's performance. With each solid start, Dempster is making that three-year closer experiment seem like a distant memory. (OK, I watched this game, it was an ok performance but he gave up alot of hits and got a few calls that were, um, generous. I will continue to say this, the second time around Ryan Dempster will be mediocre)

The Dodgers got their share of hits off Dempster -- seven in seven innings -- but he managed to get them out when he absolutely needed to, including in the sixth, when the Dodgers loaded the bases with one out but came up empty.
''It seemed like the leadoff guy was on base every inning,'' said Dempster, who's now 6-2. ''I had to try and work around it ... [but] I think I'm showing them ... that I'm strong enough to keep going and bounce back.''
Credit Dempster with an air of unflappability that has served him well. Is it even worth noting that both of his losses have come on the road? Of course it is. The Cubs can't seem to get out of their own way on the road. They have had no such problem at the Friendly Confines. (Ask the '87 Cardinals or about 500 other teams that were poor road teams and good at home how that worked out for 'em)
''It's our home park, and you should feel good about playing at home,'' manager Lou Piniella said. ''You should feel good about your chances. An old adage is you play really good baseball at home and you play .500 or slightly above on the road, and you're going to have a really good season. We've been playing really well [at Wrigley]. Let's hope it can continue.''
You know what a win like this does? (You already asked that)It gives everyone a breather. (For a day. It's called baseball)Take Soriano, for instance. The fans in left field by and large greeted him enthusiastically, (because they're idiots. He single handidly cost them a win yesterday) choosing to forgive his recent road woes, (again, idiots) which included losing a routine fly ball in the sun in one loss and getting picked off second base in another loss. Nor did they get on him when he ran the bases in the sixth inning as if his legs were made of concrete. (I thought we were supposed to start getting prepared for a parade?)After reaching first on a walk, he was unable to advance to third on Ryan Theriot's single to right, then was unable to score from second base on Ramirez's single. What is going on with this guy? (This column has turned from knee jerk Cubby Blue clueless optimism to knee jerk Meatball pessimism on a dime)
Soriano situation can't go on
Anyone watching him run can see he is either in pain or so afraid of further injuring his leg that he won't run. (Except when he's hitting .548 and belting out homers. Then he's fine.)Before the game, Piniella wondered if Soriano was hurting, saying, ''Let's hope he's not hiding a deficiency, where his legs are bothering him or something.'' But after the win, Piniella said there was no way Soriano could have scored on Ramirez's hit anyway. And despite the stiff, slow baserunning, Soriano insisted that he felt great and was not in pain.
Something has to give. Soriano has to be either shut down to heal or sat down until he gets his head straight. Doesn't he? (Last week he was the next Mike Schmidt, now he's dog shit. Ahh, Cub fans.)
The Cubs got their homestand off to a good start, but the win didn't solve any of their underlying problems. It just bought them a bit more time. (And we end bizzarely with a complete contradiction to the first half of the entire column.)

Did Carol even bother to proof read this piece of garbage? I think we all know the answer to that. Seriously, how does this woman have a job?

Monday, May 26, 2008

Phil Watch: Power Rankings For Morons Continues

Did you know that Phil is from the same town (Denton, TX) as Mean Joe Greene?
Or did you know that Phil wrote a book about the 2005 Chicago White Sox?  I didn't.  I think I'll be buying that.  Aside from the dopey title, the two Amazon reviews tell a tale of vintage Phil.  Oh, the haphazardness! 

Maybe we have a new entry for Book Corner.  

Let's get to the power rankings.

1. Red Sox (3): When in doubt, go with Boston as the best team. The Red Sox slipped past the Cubs based on the good karma created by Jon Lester's no-hitter, Daisuke Matsuzaka's 8-0 record and the arrival of Bartolo Colon, who looks like he'll stick in the rotation. Colon and Manny Ramirez, who are close friends, could benefit from the chance to be teammates. Yes, they got swept in Oakland, but a trip to Seattle should get them winning again.

Now the Red Sox have karma on their side to go along with fate and cancer heros.  Let's just give them the trophy right now.  Who can compete with that?

Colon:  5 innings, 6 hits, 2 runs, 2 walks, 4 k against Kansas City at home.  One start.  I repeat.  Please give Colon a spot in the rotation long-term.  I beg you.  

Mate.  When you were at the plate in high school, did you 'benefit' from us being friends?

2. Cubs (1): The Cubs are the highest-scoring team in the majors, and Lou Piniella isn't happy. He would like to add a left-handed hitter with pop who can play center field or right field. Jim Edmonds could still be that guy but needs to come out hitting against the Dodgers' right-handers in the upcoming series.

Hey.  Phil didn't mention Adam Dunn.  Is this progress?

3. Diamondbacks (2): The Arizona lineup has cooled off, which was probably to be expected, but its pitching staff is built to last. Randy Johnson opened some eyes with his 10-strikeout performance on Saturday at Atlanta.

More progress?  Phil admitted that Arizona's lineup crapiness of late was to be expected, though strikeouts are just above merely cute for most pitchers.  It's a contextual thing.

5. Rays (4): Is anyone home? Only 13,635 attended Friday night's homestand opener against Baltimore. That's disappointing considering how well these guys are playing.

Gotta say.  If I lived in Tampa Bay, continuously showing up under the sole auspices of 'supporting the local sporting venture' would get a little old after a bit.  They're good and there are oodles of reasons to believe this team is for real.  But after 10 years of crappy ownership and thrifty spending, I'd be a little hesitant to go on a consistent basis.  

But 30,000 showed up Saturday, the home opponents haven't exactly been 'Gold at the Gate' lately and school's still in session.  This will inch up.

6. Angels (11): Francisco Rodriguez is on pace to enter free agency coming off a major-league record for saves. He could go past 60 at the pace he's on. What would that be worth on the market?

Angel pitchers had a 2.08 ERA over the last week but a dippy saves projection for Frankie Rodriguez is Phil's nugget and the reason they jump 5 spots.

7. White Sox (10): Sweep of Cleveland last week could have lasting implications for both teams.

May.  May.  May.  May.  May!!!!!!!  IT WAS IN MAY!!!!

When Cleveland hitters go to the plate over the next 115 games of the season, they ultimately will think about that sweep in Chicago and just give up.  How does a player get over such things?  A sweep.

All games matter.  May is of course just as important as August and September.  But it's still May.  Quit peddling this crap.  For further evidence, here are the standings at this time last year.  

14. Phillies (15): Ryan Howard is heating up.

Wait a minute.  I thought Ryan Howard was looking more and more like an AL player about to be traded?

16. Dodgers (16): How much could Adam Dunn help these guys? The deals with Andruw Jones and Juan Pierre must make it tough to add the power hitting that Los Angeles continues to lack.

There's the Adam Dunn reference.  He has a 1.364 OPS over the last fifteen days and a 1.633 OPS over the last seven.  Cincinnati should trade the bum.  Especially in May because everyone knows that games in May have lasting implications.  We take the record in May and use that to determine playoff teams.  It's a little-known baseball fact but it's true.  

I say again.  Given Dunn's production, his contract is reasonable and given his k rate and average, he is in no position to ask for some wildly silly contract.  If the Reds trade him, they would be stupid in a very stupid way.

I just don't get it.  Phil seems to think Dunn would help every team in the majors except, you know, the team he's currently plays for.  In a Reds uniform, he's a terd blocking Mr. Jay Bruce.  In any other uniform, he makes them an instant playoff contender.  

17. Indians (8): Fausto Carmona departs as Joe Borowski returns. Cleveland should be better than this, but after getting swept in Cincinnati and at U.S. Cellular Field, you have to wonder if the Indians will get it together this season. It's hard to believe that this lineup could be struggling to stay above .230 this late.

Why should they be better than this?  Why is this hard to believe?  

Please.  Just look at the bodies currently being plugged into the lineup

Because the Indians were good last year does not automatically mean they will be good this year.   

20. Tigers (22): Triple-A Toledo is outslugging its parent club. The Mud Hens are leading the International League with 88 home runs, 34 more than runner-up Charlotte, the Sox's affiliate. Toledo's Mike Hessman has 19 homers, two more than Charlotte's Brad Eldred.

I outslugged Juan Pierre in high school.

Was I a better player than Juan Pierre?

Let's take a poll.

Was I better than Juan Pierre?

21. Orioles (18): Have we seen the last of Steve Trachsel? Baltimore has been skipping him whenever possible, which hasn't helped him stay sharp. Trachsel gave up nine runs in 12/3 innings on Saturday against Tampa Bay.

So the Orioles are skipping him whenever possible because he's bad.  When they weren't skipping his starts, he had a 6.08 ERA.

Stay sharp?  Heck, stay sharp?

22. Brewers (19): You know the manager is trying to save his job when he lets Ben Sheets throw 123 pitches, as Ned Yost did at Pittsburgh on Wednesday. Keep an eye on Sheets the next couple of times out.

As opposed to Phil's soul-mate, Dusty Baker, trotting out the best young pitcher in the game right now, Edinson Volquez to pitch in the 17th inning (39 pitches) of the game against Padres on Sunday after throwing 92 pitches Friday night?

When are Phil's standards going to apply to everyone?

Dear Greg Walker

I will first say that I am not against you like some knee jerk White Sox fans. I know that, ultimately, the hitting coach of a major league baseball team has about as much to do with the finished product as the janitor at a software company. I get it.
I also get that it's kind of hard to complain about a team that has won 9 out of 11 and had an 8 game winning streak last week and has a 2 1/2 game lead in the division.
However, I watched your lineup's every at bat this weekend. Every..damn..one. Greg, it ain't workin'. Whatever you're telling them, they either a) don't listen or b) don't give a damn or c) do it and look foolish. You're getting good pitching. Not just good but championship caliber pitching. Your bullpen is, for the most part at least right now, unhittable. Your starters are giving you 6,7,8 innings of 4 hit ball. THIS SHOULD BE ENOUGH!
Joe Saunders and John Lackey are fantastic grade A Major league pitchers. No argument. But can we at least go up to the plate with a fucking plan of attack?! There doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to Nick Swisher/Jermaine Dye/Jim Thome/etc. plate appearances.
For Christ's sake, Lackey had thrown 77 pitches in the 8TH FUCKING INNING! You wanna look at some pitches, maybe? Or here's an idea--quit trying to pull everything! (I'm looking at you, Jermaine. I believe you're going for the record for tailor made 5-4-3 double play balls.)
And Jared Weaver? A fine young pitcher no doubt. But it's one thing to have a team's number and another to look like the pitcher's father all gave you 200 bucks to make him look good. I don't think I've ever seen a team more baffled by a slightly above average major league Man/Boy.( Seriously, Jared, you look like a Colorado Silver Bullet. Cut your hair. Men shouldn't have "bobs")
But I digress.
Greg, get a plan together. Go the other way, take the first pitch, watch some video, have Thome lay down a bunt for God's sake against that ridiculous shift every goddamn team throws at him. Anything! Just get somebody on base.
There's potential for a special season here. Don't blow it.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Phil Watch: You Too Can Be Courageously Courageous.

Welcome back, folks.  We're back to our usual Phil schedule.  Aside from a half-hearted effort posted on Thursday about instant replay in baseball, nothing of relevance showed up this week.
Sunday's three articles opens with the flagship Phil column spending 800 words on the courageously courageous Jon Lester who threw a no-hitter last week.  

Now here's the thing.  On April 29, Lester threw eight innings of one-hit ball.  But on May 19, he threw nine innings of no-hit ball.  

Eight innings?  Ppppppffffttt!  Pussy.  And what are you doing giving up a hit?  

Nine innings?  He's my hero!  And he had cancer.  He's my courageous hero! 

Good for Lester (and Doug Davis).  Bad for people who read platitude-spewing sportswriters that tend to milk this stuff to the last drop.  So let's just ignore that and move on.

Let's get started.

The 24-year-old Lester's no-hitter came only 77 games after one by 23-year-old Clay Buchholz on Sept. 1 at Fenway Park. And on the night after Lester's effort, 23-year-old Justin Masterson held Kansas City to one run over 61/3 innings in his second big-league start.

If my team had this collection of pitchers, I might feel almost ready to be mildly okay with my team's prospects. I wouldn't feel like it's some sort of arsenal of Anton Chigurhs ready to destroy everything in their path, though.  
Just because ESPN belches out their names every four seconds doesn't mean they get better with each mention.

Beckett:  Good pitcher - probably in the top six or so in the AL.  Anton Chigurh in the playoffs.  Shown to be a bit tweaky in the past and the Red Sox should feel lucky to get 30 starts out of him in each of the last two years. He never hit that mark in any of his four years in Florida.  

Matsusaka:  8-0, 2.40 ERA this year.  But his WHIP is a pedestrian 1.32 and shows a correction is on its way. The Red Sox wised up and started pulling him earlier this year given his record of tiring late last year and hitters catching onto him (4.96 ERA when seeing the lineup for the third time).  His 42% ground ball rate is terrible and he's once again the recipient of superlative run support.  Things will even out here.

Lester:  Still young with potential.  Control was a worry in the minors (3.78 BB/9) and that has so far carried over to the majors (4.49 bb/9).  Gave up 8 hits/9 in the minors and giving up almost 9 hits/9 in the majors.  A no-hitter doesn't make a pitcher great (see Joe Cowley, Bud Smith, Anibel Sanchez and Jose Jimenez).  Probably a #3 at best with issues.  He's Ted Lilly.

Buchholz:  Ridiculously good in the minors and ridiculously average to bad in the majors.  He also threw a no-hitter but didn't have cancer so that didn't count.  Once again, still young with oodles of upside but curiously having control problems in the majors (4.15 BB/9).

Masterson:  C'mon.  Good pedigree but has pitched a grand total of 18 games above Single-A ball.  In those 18 games in Double-A, he had a 4.31 ERA with a 1.25 WHIP.  Not exactly mowing them down.  He's a funky delivery guy with a modicum of upside who could be a decent #5 with Matsusaka-like run support.  

Simply put, if the Red Sox didn't have a lineup filled with Anton Chigurhs, their pitching would be a major concern given their youth.  If this staff had an average lineup (read:  The Angels) backing them up, it would be average at best.  Funny what wins allow people to gloss over.

Masterson stands 6 feet 6 inches and reminds some of Dennis Eckersley with his delivery. He pounds the strike zone with hard sinkers. He often is compared to Derek Lowe.

Throwin' around a lot of names there.  Let's see a track record outside of two starts before we anoint the young man.  See Johnny Cueto.

Not that they really seem to need him, but Bartolo Colon was impressive in his 2008 debut. He held Kansas City to two runs in five innings Wednesday night, mostly working in the low 90s but hitting 96 a couple of times. He's in the rotation to stay, which could mean Buchholz will go to the bullpen when he returns from the disabled list in a week or two. Masterson also could be used in the bullpen at some point.

Hey.  Phil got through a Bartolo Colon sentence and didn't mention that the White Sox passed on him in the off-season.  Good for him.

BTW, I watched that game and Colon had has fastball and that was it.  His breaking stuff was borderline terrible. As an Angels fan, I beg for the Red Sox to insert Colon into the rotation full-time.  Please put him on the post-season roster and please start him against the Angels.  


The Indians' visit to Chicago last week seemed like a dangerous stretch for the first-place White Sox. But by sweeping Cleveland, they not only maintained their lead in the American League Central but dealt the Indians a blow that could be remembered in September if they have joined Detroit in having a disappointing season.

After ranking sixth in the AL with 811 runs a year ago, Cleveland had fallen to 12th — on a pace to score only 645 — this season.

Okay.  Here's the thing.  Baseball teams are not a collection of robots in uniforms.  They are actual people.  

With an outfield rotation of Dellucci, Gutierrez, Francisco and Sizemore and an infield of Cabrera, Blake, Peralta and Garko, this is not a good offensive team.  They were good last year because a few players hit out of their gourd (see Casey Blake).  

Actual players not hitting actual baseballs in actual games may be the final analysis for the Indians at the end of the season, not being swept by the Sox in May.

Moving to Phil's Whispers.  He has his ear to the ground for us.

Manager Joe Girardi's plans to keep Joba Chamberlain in the Yankees' bullpen all season have come crashing down, making it appear Co-chairman Hank Steinbrenner or general manager Brian Cashman overruled him. Girardi was right to value Chamberlain's set-up role, but it appears he will be a starter by the All-Star break.

What's this 'appear' crap?  Who with a rational baseball mind gives a shit about appearances?  

Girardi's hand was forced by the fact that  Hughes has been bad and injured and Kennedy's been bad and bad. He already ripped Rasner from the minors.  What else can Girardi do?  Have Giambi don the golden thong and take the bump?

It's a numbers game.  Someone has to take the ball every fifth day.

With summer still around the corner, it's too early to read much into league stats. But 2008 does look like a down year for hitters. The AL slugging percentage entering the weekend was .397. It hasn't been .400 or less since 1992.


It's still too early to read that much into league stats?

Phil's been superficially using and manipulating numbers without context all freakin' season!

For whatever reason, Arizona hitters are killers at home (third in the NL at .296 entering Saturday) and pussycats on the road (16th, .217).

It's over

The remaining five months of baseball will be played, but Arizona's 20-8 April took any suspense out of what figured to be a very good race in the National League West.
This is what Phil wrote on May 4.  Over.  28 games into the season.

And probably more prescient, the D'Backs are hitting .245 in May overall, good for 25th in the league.  What does that say?  Arizona had a hot April.  That.  Is.  All.  Season-to-date numbers for the D'backs are specious at best given the April they had.   

It's called a filtered split, Phil.  Use it.  It helps.   

Moving Dontrelle Willis to the bullpen is a sign of how little margin for error the Tigers believe they have after their awful start. Manager Jim Leyland says Willis needs only some "fine-tuning," but it will be interesting to see how long it will be before he starts.

Or it means that Willis still has an issue of finding that thing called the strike zone, even in his rehab starts.

Power Rankings for Morons tomorrow.  I'm done with predicting Phil but where's that Jacque Jones column?  

C'mon.  You are deliberately denying the BRE office staff oodles of fun.