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

John Cleese

Friday, January 30, 2009

Thank You, God! Thank You So Bloody Much!!

The following things have happened to me since Monday:
1. Smashed my hand in the door to the garage
2. Crushed three toes on the door frame of the bathroom trying to avoid the dog
3. Sliced open the extremely sensitive skin under my right pinkie fingernail whilst reaching into my pocket to retrieve my keys
4. My car's battery died because I failed to turn off the dome light after looking for something I had dropped
5. Since revving up the battery my car's heater doesn't work (and y'know it's so balmy at 7am)
6. I spilled coffee on my sweater at work
7. Somehow woke up with a twisted ankle. Still not sure how that happened while SLEEPING
8. Sat in chocolate.
9. Had a wind blown pile of snow fall off the roof right down my back under my coat.
10. Got a zit IN MY EAR! WTF?!!

So, you'll forgive me if I might wanna eat a goddamn bacon filled cheeseburger tonight.
And, of course, it being consistently ass chapping motherfucking cold for 3 straight months has really helped my spirits as well...Jesus.

I go through this every Winter but I don't remember being as beaten down by one as this one. And we still have February to look forward to!!

What's Gandhi's Next Move?

I say motivational speaker.

He can start with companies like Citigroup or Bank of America, lecturing on 

the power of denial and delusion.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Movie Review: Vicky Cristina Barcelona

First of all, let us not bury the lead.

Coming out sometime before this summer, Larry David stars in Woody Allen's latest film, Whatever Works

Bask in all the glory of that sentence.  Wow!

Two seconds after the credits rolled, I couldn't help feeling like Allen got away with something.  If he hadn't had the foresight to cast Javier Bardem, a guy whose mannered performance breathes life into an otherwise staid script, this film would have been quite the snoozer.

Sure, Vicky Cristina Barcelona has moments that offer smiles of recognition and evokes many of the themes Allen probes so well.

But that might have been the problem.  Themes were evoked but never really probed.  We get the usual motif that revolves around the 'odd comfort' of emotional paralysis and musings on the 'strangeness' of commitment.  Unfortunately, it never gets out of the gate with any sort of force.  He could have gotten away with that.  When Allen is great, he achieves it by his arrangement and placement of crisis in unexpected ways.  With VCB, we're given it like we've never seen it before and should be thankful for seeing something so radically new.

Rebecca Hall almost saves it as well.  Efforts were made.  She gives a performance that relishes in her character's wild limitations and emotional immaturity, complete with fluttering eye contact and an alternating posture that belies her seeming moments of confidence and understanding.  

But with Scarlett Johannson, we're given yet another performance that relies heavily on her using the 'open-mouth/blurry eyes/stare-at-a-nose' acting device to convey emotional vulnerability.  She offers little here outside of getting out of the way, which for her is a mild accomplishment.  

Penélope Cruz is given little.  The script gave her 'Fiery Spanish Woman #1' and she plays it, picks up her check and goes about her way.

Which may speak more to the script as well.  It seems Allen hoped a dichotomy of American and Spanish values would create a built-in contrast that the viewer would automatically expound upon and soak in.  But the backdrop is a pretty tired one of shallow Americans and sensual Spaniards, something delved into with more nuance in Wilt Stillman's Barcelona, a movie with it's own flaws but full of wonderfully juicy nuggets.  We're given a dialogue of 'golf, finance, corporate friends and buying in Bedford Hills with a tennis court and swimming pool' from the American men and how 'art and life define passion, love and emotion in an otherwise meaningless world' determine Spanish fate.  It's a tired structure when no divergence from that mantra is interjected.  

Which brings us to my "If you like that salsa, you obviously haven't been to Ecuador" moment.  Barcelona's a beautifully dark city bathed in sun, yet Allen seems to have simply read Let's Go Barcelona and was happy with that.  His copious name-dropping of Gaudi and Miró serve to only give certain characters some sense of surface credibility or status that came across as a bit lazy.

And for a city that offers such a contrast of light and shadow, Allen simply ignores it, something that could have offered a delicious second layer that Match Point achieved so well. 

With Woody Allen, when he's good, you never have to ask what the point was, even when he's swimming in familiar waters.  With him, it's always been about adding to the canon.  But that necessitates furthering the discussion with each new film.  What I will take away from Vicky Cristina Barcelona is what Bardem and Hall did despite the script, not because of it.  Instead of building on his catalogue of films examining the real world of real adult questions, Allen simply churned out something akin to a holding pattern. 

In the end, it's merely a mildly interesting distraction.     

Pithcers and Catchers Report in 2 Weeks

We here at the BRE made a road trip to St. Louis and drank WAY too much Old Crow....Pretty good marksmanship, though.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

It's Come To This, Huh?

Man, I remember having ZERO chance of getting a ticket to an Iowa basketball game..
What's next? Free upper deck ticket when you Biggie Size?

2,000 students download free Iowa basketball tickets
the Press-Citizen • January 27, 2009

University of Iowa students can get in free to the Iowa men's basketball game against Michigan State on Thursday night, and it appears students are taking the university up on the offer.

UI said today that so far, nearly 2,000 students have printed out free tickets to the game. Michigan State leads the Big Ten and is nationally ranked.That doesn't necessarily mean that all of those students will actually show up to the game, but even a fraction of that number would take up a significant chunk of the empty seats that have plagued Carver-Hawkeye Arena this season.So far this year, the 15,000-seat arena has only seen 10,000 fans a couple of times, including Iowa's overtime victory over Wisconsin last week. In that game, student ticket holders were allowed to bring a friend for free. About 900 or so students already hold home tickets.The Hawkeyes will need all the help they can get against Michigan State. Iowa starting big man Cyrus Tate will once again be out of action, he confirmed today. He might also not make Sunday's game, either.Tate said today that the swelling on his sprained right ankle has gone down considerably and that he's taking medication to get it down all the way."Right now, I can't really jump or move side to side," he said. He added that he would like to be able to play Sunday, but he's not sure if he'll be healthy enough to go. Tate has missed four games with the injury. Iowa takes on Michigan State at 6:05 p.m. Thursday. Students can print out free tickets by going to
www.hawkeyesports.com and clicking onthe "free student tickets" promotion.

When Boredom Meets Stupidity

Via Deadspin:

Now there is a possibility that this is some sort of joke by the WWL but since they are humorless asswipes, I highly doubt it.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

RIP John Updike

I don't know if Christo shares my opinion but one of my favorite and most inspiring pieces of writing is "Rabbit, Run". (The character of Ethan in Losers Bracket always, at least for me, had some faint glimmer of Harry in his DNA.) It's also one of the few books I've actually reread for pleasure...No small feat.
Well done, sir.

Famed author John Updike dies of cancer at 76

(CNN) -- Author John Updike, regarded as one of the greatest and most prolific writers in modern American letters, died Tuesday, his publicist said. He was 76.

John Updike won many literary awards. His books, such as "The Witches of Eastwick," were also best-sellers.

Updike passed away Tuesday morning after battling lung cancer. He lived in Beverley Farms, Massachusetts.
"He was one of our greatest writers, and he will be sorely missed," said Nicholas Latimer, vice president of publicity at Updike's publisher, Alfred A. Knopf.
Updike was a rarity among American writers: a much-esteemed, prize-winning author whose books -- including "Rabbit, Run" (1960), "Couples" (1968), "The Witches of Eastwick" (1984) and "Terrorist" (2006) -- were also best-sellers. Updike won the Pulitzer Prize twice: for "Rabbit Is Rich" (1981) and its successor, "Rabbit at Rest" (1991).The "Rabbit" series, about an angst-ridden car dealer in a town much like Updike's hometown of Shillington, Pennsylvania, spanned four novels, a novella and four decades. In the books -- which also included 1971's "Rabbit Redux" and a 2001 novella, "Rabbit Remembered" -- onetime basketball star Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom negotiates marriage, divorce, wealth and health problems, never quite understanding the larger forces shaping his life.
"Rabbit is not a character calculated to inspire affection, but he is an unflinchingly authentic specimen of American manhood, and his boorishness makes his rare moments of vulnerability and empathy that much more heartbreaking," wrote Time's Lev Grossman in naming "Rabbit, Run" to Time's "All-Time 100 Novels" list.
Updike was incredibly prolific, penning essays, reviews, short stories, poetry and memoirs. His works frequently appeared in The New Yorker, including a famed 1960 essay about Ted Williams' final game, "Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu."
"No writer was more important to the soul of The New Yorker than John," said David Remnick, the editor of the magazine, in a statement. "Even though his literary career transcended any magazine -- he was obviously among the very best writers in the world -- he still loved writing for this weekly magazine, loved being part of an enterprise that he joined when he was so young.
"We adored him," Remnick continued. "He was, for so long, the spirit of The New Yorker and it is very hard to imagine things without him."
The magazine said that Updike had written 862 pieces for it over the years, including 327 book reviews, 170 short stories and 154 poems.
He was well-regarded in his adopted home state of Massachusetts.
"John Updike's place among America's literary greats is forever secure, as is his special place in every Red Sox fan's heart for his magnificent 'Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu,' " Sen. John Kerry (D-Massachusetts) said in a statement. "We honor his memory and his contributions, and Massachusetts today bids him a sad and wistful adieu of our own."
Updike never won a Nobel Prize, but one of his characters, Henry Bech, received one in "Bech at Bay" (1998).
His works, particularly given their sexual content, could be as divisive as they were poetic. Many critics accused him of misogyny, and others accused him of using his graceful prose to cover thin subject matter -- and Updike put out his prose by the ream.
"It seems to be easier for John Updike to stifle a yawn than to refrain from writing a book," the literary critic James Wood wrote in the London Review of Books in 2001.
But his frank discussion of sex also garnered him many readers,
the cover of Time magazine (for 1968's "Couples") and a lifetime achievement Bad Sex in Writing award from Great Britain's Literary Review.
He was criticized by Norman Mailer, hailed by fellow author (and Updike obsessive) Nicholson Baker in "U and I" and even appeared as an animated version of himself on a "Simpsons" episode as the ghostwriter of a Krusty the Klown book.
"[I] was flattered to be asked to be one of the many voices that they worked into the endless saga of Springfield," Updike said, noting that the hardest part of his performance was "producing a chuckle."
John Hoyer Updike was born March 18, 1932, in Reading, Pennsylvania, and grew up in Shillington. From an early age he took to reading and writing, and earned a full scholarship to Harvard, where he headed the Harvard Lampoon. Upon graduation, he accepted a one-year fellowship to Oxford University in England. By the time he was 23, he had been offered a position at The New Yorker, which was to become his literary home over the next 50-plus years.
Updike's first novel, "The Poorhouse Fair," came out in 1959. The next year, in "Rabbit, Run," he introduced Angstrom, who was to become one of the most famous characters in American fiction.
When introduced, Rabbit is a man fleeing his pregnant wife, the songs on the car radio reflecting both the era and his life. Over the course of the "Rabbit" books, the character would routinely infuriate his spouse, mistresses and offspring, try to make things right, and never quite succeed.
His attitude didn't help. "Men are all heart and women are all body. I don't know who has the brains. God maybe," the character said in "Rabbit, Run."
"Rabbit, Run" was successful, as were Updike's other '60s books, including "The Centaur" (1963), which featured a teacher much like Updike's father, and the short story collection "The Music School" (1966). But it was "Couples" that made Updike a household name. The book, about a group of spouses engaging in the sexual revolution in suburban Massachusetts, became a No. 1 best-seller.
Updike's interests ranged widely. He wrote about an African state in "The Coup" (1978). He discussed the relationship between science and religion in "Roger's Version" (1986). He revisited "Hamlet" in "Gertrude and Claudius" (2000). And he created a group of promiscuous witches in "The Witches of Eastwick" (1984), which became a hit movie in 1987 starring Jack Nicholson as the devil.
Though Updike's work routinely sold well, he was painfully aware of the decline of what's come to be called "literary fiction." In a 2000 interview with Salon, he lamented its difficulties.
"When I was a boy, the best-selling books were often the books that were on your piano teacher's shelf. I mean, Steinbeck, Hemingway, some Faulkner. Faulkner actually had, considering how hard he is to read and how drastic the experiments are, quite a middle-class readership," he said. "But certainly someone like Steinbeck was a best-seller as well as a Nobel Prize-winning author of high intent. You don't feel that now."
Updike's most recent novel, "The Widows of Eastwick," came out in 2008. A collection of stories, "My Father's Tears and Other Stories," is due out later this year.

Forward Thinking...

A great article on the poorly conceived clusterfuck known as the NFL Network from Sports Business Journal.

When you make the Big Ten Network look like a smooth running quilt factory you know you're a shit sandwich.

Scoop of Vanilla For Everybody!!

I've always been a proponent of competition at an early level. I think it teaches you at an early age that life sometimes will break your spirit. I've always been amazed at watching adults who never played an organized sport or competed in anything in their life react to adversity. A good portion of them get kind of, uh, pathetic. You don't want to get all jock on them but many a time I wanted to take one of these whiners and tell them to "walk it off".

Anyway, Christo and Mate during our athletic days were at the receiving and giving end of a lot of ass kickings. (I seem to remember being down in a football game 52-0 at HALFTIME once.)Never once did we try to get a coach fired or did the school board reprimand anyone for kicking the shit out of a weak ass opponent. That's what Slaughter Rules are for.

And why didn't they just call the game? Isn't that BOTH coach's fault?

This is a by product of the "Everybody's a Winner"/soccer mom bullshit mentality that has infected America.

Good God, we've become a nation of whining, sensitive dandies.

Texas high school basketball coach fired after beating opponent 100-0
Monday, January 26th 2009, 4:12 PM
For one Texas high school basketball coach even when you win, you lose.
Micah Grimes, who made national headlines when his team beat up an undermanned opponent 100-0, was fired on Sunday.
The firing of the girls varsity basketball coach comes after the Covenant School issued an official apology on its Web site following the Jan. 13 blowout of fellow Dallas-area private school, Dallas Academy.
Grimes, who was in his fourth season at the school, disagreed with the school's apology and said his team played with "honor."
"I respectfully disagree with the apology, especially the notion that the Covenant School girls basketball team should feel 'embarrassed' or 'ashamed,'" Grimes wrote in an e-mail posted on a youth basketball Web site on Sunday and published in The Dallas Morning News.
"We played the game as it was meant to be played and would not intentionally run up the score on any opponent. Although a wide-margin victory is never evidence of compassion, my girls played with honor and integrity and showed respect to Dallas Academy."
Kyle Queal, Covenant's headmaster, confirmed the firing to the Dallas Morning News, but said he could not say if the dismissal was a direct result of Grimes' disagreeing with the school.
Queal signed the original statement along with board chair Todd Doshier.
"The Covenant School, its board and administrators, regrets the incident of January 13 and the outcome of the game with the Dallas Academy Varsity Girls Basketball team. It is shameful and an embarrassment that this happened. This clearly does not reflect a Christ-like and honorable approach to competition."
The Christian school also sought to forfeit the game saying "a victory without honor is a great loss."
Covenant, a contender for the state championship last year, held a 59-0 lead at the half in the mid-January game. According to reports, Covenant continued to shoot 3-pointers and employ a full-court press defense into the fourth quarter.
Dallas Academy, a school that specializes in teaching students with "learning differences," such as short attention spans or dyslexia, has only eight players on its varsity squad and is winless over the last four seasons.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Sports Monday

Psst...Cumere...I've Got A Secret.

Don't tell anybody because it's, well, kinda weird.

I'm beginning to like tennis.

And it's not because we're entering the barren wasteland of the sports landscape.  It's because of freakin' HD television.

It's Just So Pretty!

Late Saturday night TV is death.  So when I got home that night around 11:30, I was already susceptible to watching bad television, to the point where an episode of Bridezillas or Kitchen Nightmares was a viable option.  I needed some background noise for my wildly exciting mock baseball draft, taking place at 11:45.  Yes, I like drafting a fake baseball team for a fake league that not even a first-order fake baseball team that corresponds with the real baseball season.

ESPN.com was reporting that Roger Federer was down 2-0 to Tomas Berdych in the Australian Open.  I've heard in the past Federer plays tennis or something in a kind of good way and that the Australian Open takes place in Australia (that's pretty much the extent of my knowledge of tennis today).  Directv has channels showing it live so what the hell?  I thought it would last two minutes at most.  

Watched the whole thing...AND I LOVED IT!

No commercials.  No TV screen cluttered with scrawls, station logos, annoying pop-in updates or inexplicable dancing robots.  Just the tennisy-type stuff and the ambient court noise.

In high-definition, it's a totally different experience.  And while that might be the most-overused platitude these days by people talking about such things, I now get it.

And I have to say, golf is the same experience.  And I've heard high-definition raises hockey into the stratosphere of nearly watchable.  I'll give it a go.

If this happens to me with these sports, baseball is going to be ridiculous.

Torre.  You're Now A Meatball.  Nice Job.

Leave it to the New York Post and Newsday to cherry-pick portions of Joe Torre and Tom Verducci's new book about Torre's Yankee years.  Sure.  I get it.  "A-Fraud" is a headline writer's dream.

And Verducci's a conscientious and careful writer so I'm sure it was done with the best intentions but...

What's the real point here?  Why do it now?  For that matter, why do it this way now?

Torre always seemed above the fray.  But if anyone is going to roll their eyes at the Post and Newsday for such sensationalism, consider the source.

Torre said all of it.  And it was no accident.  This shit sells books.  And it's probably no accident that Torre is unavailable for comment.  It's all part of the book-selling plan.  Let it fester and let it build.

And that's entirely petty.  

Too bad.  Portions of the book sound interesting.  Like how statistical analysis took a great leap forward in the last few years and the details on how the Yankees abandoned their model for winning after the 2001 season.

But Torre and Verducci aren't stupid in ways to cater to the stupid.  They knew how this was going to fall.  They had their hook and completely exploited it.

Now Torre will go on Letterman and tell us that the book is so much more than chronicling "A-Rod's Single White Female-like with Jeter."  

Too late.  You used it.  You're a meatball.  Go home now. 

Would Somebody Drop A Truck On The Heads On These Two Idiots

This guy thought what he did was quite funny:

And this guy needs to be slapped once a day, everyday, until the day he dies:

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Phil Watch: I Don't Know Where To Begin

Anyone ever have a wildly irresponsible friend?

You know, the kind of guy who gets drunk and tries to jump off the roof of the apartment just to see if he can do it without breaking his leg.

And this friend on occasion - say every three years or so - asks to borrow your car to see if he can drive to Midway and back in an hour to, you know, just see if can do it.  

And every three years or so you have say, "Hell no!"

He counters with "What's going to happen?  You can't predict accidents.  You could get into an accident tomorrow!"

And you have to sit him down like he's a five year-old and tell him, "That's the difference, little one.  It's my car...and I'm driving.  If something happens, it's going to be on me, not because I gave the keys to some dope who's bored and wants to prove how big his dick is."

That's what Phil seems to be missing when ripping into John Danks for passing on the World Baseball Classic today.

Seriously, this is why people don't read newspapers anymore.  

Let's get started.    

White Sox fans are very proud of John Danks. He declined the chance to play for the U.S. in the World Baseball Classic, saying he wants to make sure he's prepared for the 2009 season.

This is a very popular position for him to take, but it raises a couple of questions:

• Why can't a 23-year-old in great shape make two or three starts in March, working with strict pitch limits and extreme caution, without risking his readiness for the season?

• Why would the U.S. want Danks in the first place?

Let's see.  Danks just completed a season where he pitched 40 more innings than he has ever thrown and is coming into a season where the Sox are going to rely on him heavily with the back of the rotation so up in the air.

I know!  He should skip the bulk of Spring Training with the Sox and go play in some dippy Bug Selig creation with absolutely no point just because he can.  Let's hand the keys to your brand-new car to someone else.  Why not?

Phil's first question begs another question.  If every player in the "Classic" is going to have to be treated with kid gloves, then why do it?  It's not even a real game.  It's cutesy bullshit.

Phil's second question begs a "Huh?"    

He's a good pitcher and a tough competitor with a great future. Every major-league team would want to have him on its roster. But he has had one strong season in the big leagues. Does that qualify him to represent his country? 

Love it!  "Represent his country," like it's some Olympian honor where people train their whole lives just for the miniscule chance to compete in something that will most likely define the rest of their lives.

That's what this is NOT!  

Who'd a thunk it?  Phil has taken a position on the World Baseball Classic that's even more idiotic than anything Rick Telander could offer.  It's like Telander on crack, chockablock with dreamy, pie-eyed international wonderfulness.

What about CC Sabathia? Or Brandon Webb? Or at least a half-dozen others, such as Cole Hamels, Tim Lincecum, Roy Halladay, Derek Lowe, John Lackey and Cliff Lee?

Or Mickey Morandini?  Or Lenny Dykstra?

You take any four of those eight guys, you have a serious staff, a real All-Star team, the kind of team that was envisioned when Commissioner Bud Selig and his staffers dreamed up the WBC.

Yes.  The kind of ideas that come from dreams.  Then you wake up, give it ten minutes and realize that idea was borderline retarded. 

But unfortunately, major-league dugouts and front offices are populated by far too many short-sighted, self-interested players and executives.

Yeah.  God forbid try to protect your investment.  That's just stupid business sense.

Notice that Phil hasn't told us WHY the WBC is remotely a good idea yet?

The second edition of the WBC gets here in March, three years after the inaugural, in which the U.S. went 3-3 and failed to advance to the four-team final round. 

That was such a blow to my patriotism.  I felt like less of an American that day.

Once again the U.S. has put together a team lacking the bulk of American talent, limiting the possible success of the event before it even begins.

Can this country take another blow to its already diminished status around the world?

Sabathia, Webb and those other six starting pitchers are among the huge group of American stars who didn't submit their names for inclusion on the provisional roster or whose names were pulled back before the roster was released.

Sabathia pitched 40,000 innings last year and just signed a 40 year deal worth 40 bazillion dollars.  The Yankees should allow him to run out there on the mother of all short rests for no real reason. 

That plan is flawless!  This isn't play money, Phil.  It's real, like money that can buy stuff.  

...The guys who are eager to play, like the Cubs' Derrek Lee and the White Sox's Matt Thornton, deserve credit for getting it. 

Derrek Lee and Matt Thornton are better Americans than C.C. Sabathia and Brandon Webb.  

Traitors.  Somebody call Michelle Bachmann.

The WBC should be a welcome break from the drudgery of spring training. It's surprising that more players don't look at it like this.

My God, Phil.  Just have sex for Selig and get it over with.  

Phil here alludes to complaints on the part of some players recently that Spring Training is too long, which it probably is.  

Congratulations.  He just gave reason #10,659 why NOT to extend the preseason with kitschy little 'World Competitions'.  To be game-ready (or what is supposed to approximate 'game-ready' for for this crap), position players have to start training two weeks earlier than usual and pitchers would need three.  You know...to be stupid-ass "Classic"-ready. 

It is supposed to be real games, right?  Not time for pitchers to work on specific pitches and hone their location like Spring Training games are, right?  

Freakin' great plan. 

...Bottom line: Baseball players shouldn't be afraid to play baseball.

Thems fightin' words.  

Derrek Lee = Rambo.  Webb = Aldrich Ames.

I nominate this column as a top fiver in the Phil anthology, behind recommending the Rays sign Barry Bonds because it would be fun to see him hit in Fenway but ahead of the entire column dedicated to the wonders of Jeremy Affeldt. 

Phil was a voluminous little fucker again this Sunday with no mid-week columns.  

His second long-form offering discusses the sale of the Cubs to the Ricketts family.  It gives nothing in the way of substance outside of recapping the obvious with a few dippy Cub fan '100 year' jokes thrown in.

But here's two nuggets:

If Ricketts wanted, he could find a big role in his organization (president or whatever title you want) for a baseball savant like recently retired general manager Pat Gillick. Or, if he wanted to try something really progressive, Greg Maddux, who figures to get bored playing golf. Those guys would represent the club and help Jim Hendry and his strong front-office staff in setting a vision for the operation.

That way, when Phil achieves immaculate conception and has Greg Maddux's baby, he'll be closer for family time.

President.  Greg Maddux.  Jus cuz he's all Cubbie and shit. 

...(discussing the renovation of Wrigley Field) For this to happen, the Cubs may have to shift a season's worth of games to U.S. Cellular Field and possibly even Milwaukee's Miller Park—and the sooner the better. Why not get the work done in time for the 2014 season, allowing fans to celebrate Wrigley's 100th anniversary in a much-improved park?

The Cubs should rearrange theirs and two other teams' entire schedules because 100 is a round number.  It's pretty.  Oh, so pretty.

Cub fan to the core.  Phil.  You are my muse.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Think Warm Thoughts

Now, that we're about to enter Christo and Mate's Month of Sports Purgatory (although Iowa beating Wisconsin for the first time since I was 15 was nice last night) we agree that it's prudent to think warm thoughts of Spring: leaves on the trees, Easter bonnets, baseball and the Spring Tournament of Awful:

Here's a taste:


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Did Something Happen Yesterday?

Yesterday was a moment in history that many people couldn't even comprehend a short 4 years ago. It was awe inspiring, moving and wonderful. I have so much hope for the new President and am eager to see what he can do to help this country out of the 8 year pile of manure the Bush Administration has left us.

I voted for him proudly and was (along with Christo) a pretty early supporter of his candidacy. A smart, articulate, authentic leader.

THAT SAID, he's not the Messiah. The excitement (in particular by the Black community) was genuine and you can give them a pass on maybe overdoing it a bit. 400 years of oppression tends to do that to people. But he's not a miracle worker. The problems this economy faces are going to take YEARS to fix. Most economists agree that 2 years from now when the off year elections are held, the economy may be in worse shape then it is now. What then? It will be interesting to see how much of this goodwill will disappear the minute Obama decides that maybe raising taxes on the people who create jobs may not be the most effective way to get us out of a depression. Think I'm wrong? He's already debating it. What then? What will they do when he makes an air strike in Pakistani territory without consulting the UN or the Pakistanis themselves? Guess what? He says he'll do that if need be.

I get that we're coming out of a horrible fog and we're looking for someone to right the ship but bottom line is that he is a politician. A good man. A smart man. But a politician. Call me crazy but I don't look to elected officials to make my life complete. A President is someone I should trust, admire and respect. But he shouldn't be my savior. He's just a man. And you know who would tell you the same thing? Barack Obama.


Ok on a lighter note:

My interest in fashion lies somewhere between the WNBA and the Tony Awards but if my wife showed up wearing these fucking things I would have to check her into a mental institution.

And apparently they're the new trend.

So, if you wanna really want a guy to notice ya, drees your feet up to look like a Gladiator. HOT!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Big Day. Big, Big Day

Nobody showed.

Monday, January 19, 2009

You Know...You Can't Vicariously Eat, People

Number one 'Most-Viewed' article over at the Chicago Tribune today at 1pm.

What possibly would prompt anyone to think there was something more interesting in this story beyond the title?  Anybody?  Anybody?  I need an answer.

What?  Bear claws or long johns?  What?

Ad Watch: Douche Bags!

I've been meaning to get to this abortion for a few months:


I'm no nut-ball granola boy who thinks that the CEO of Archer Daniels Midland is the Hitler of our time.  And I've pounded enough Pepsi just teeming with high fructose corn syrup to choke a pig in my time on this mortal coil.  Given.

And I'm no scientist.  But do you really have to be one in order to understand that high fructose corn syrup, a product present in the vast majority of processed foods in this country, is probably not that good for you? 

I won't bore you with all the techy details nor discuss tariffs, subsides or paid-for 'research' but consider this:  They made corn...corn!...taste like a sugar-like substance, to call it 'natural' is like calling David Wygant's personality 'natural' (technically, everything's 'natural') and sugar simply tastes better.

Do a blind taste-test comparing a HFCS Coke to a Mexican Coke.  Totally different world.

YouTube has some pretty decent, if a little heavy-handed parodies of the commercial.

Mostly, it comes down to the wildly icky propaganda of it all, betting the unwashed masses will eat it up like pigs to the trough.  Probably a decent bet, unfortunately.

But if I had to only take lessons from personal experience, I'll just say that I dropped 60 pounds in five months in the 90s by mainly cutting out high fructose corn syrup, fried foods and writing down everything I ate.

Tough for me to think there wasn't a bit of a connection. 


I See They Let the Village Idiot Out

And, yes, the BRE were semi aquaintances at one time with the coach.

Nice security.

Jeff Xavier's brother arrested for disorderly conduct in PC's loss to Marquette

02:34 PM EST on Sunday, January 18, 2009

Journal Sports Writer

PROVIDENCE - Keno Davis grew up going to basketball games and has coached at the collegiate level since 1995. He's seen a lot of things, but never what he saw Saturday night early in the second half of PC's 91-82 loss to Marquette.

With 17:15 left, Jeff Xavier drove to the hoop and was hit in the face by Marquette's Joseph Fulce. No foul was called, and Geoff McDermott scooped up the loose ball and was fouled by Fulce.

Xavier rolled on the court in pain, holding his right eye and continually kicking his legs as trainers rushed to his aid. After Xavier made it to the PC bench and as McDermott waited to take his free throws, a man brazenly walked onto the floor and up to referee Todd Williams.

The man was later identified by Dunkin' Donuts Center general manager Larry Lepore as Jonathan Xavier, a brother of Jeff Xavier.

The man began to yell at the referee but never touched him before security guards finally grabbed him and pulled him off the floor.

Lepore said Jonathan Xavier was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct.

Davis, as well as Marquette coach Buzz Williams, could not believe their eyes.

"Scary,'' said Williams. "I've never seen anything like that. I just wanted to pull my team off the court and get them away from that.''

Davis was equally amazed.

"I've seen some interesting things,'' he said. "I've been going to games since I was born, so I've seen some really unusual things. But that one probably doesn't even make the list.''

Players from both teams were remarkably unfazed. Marquette senior Jerel McNeal said he's seen fans walk onto the floor in high school games back home in Chicago. PC guard Marshon Brooks replaced Xavier in the Friar lineup and while he said he wasn't sure what was going on, he said he knows Jonathan Xavier.

"I wasn't scared. He thought that his brother got fouled, I guess. He wanted to get an explanation.''

Davis said he was concerned about his team's safety and is hoping that The Dunk's security force can be improved.

"I'm sure that the staff here at The Dunk will work to be better prepared,'' he said. "Just like we go through a game, you try to get better for the next time. We've got to make sure that we increase the security and how are they going to handle things [in the future]. It's just unique.''

Jeff Xavier's status for PC's game against Cincinnati on Monday night is unclear. He did not return to the game Saturday night and was sorely missed.

"I haven't talked to our trainer, but his eye was completely closed in the locker room,'' Davis said Saturday night. "It looked like he had been in a fight. I don't believe there was a foul called on that play. It was that type of scrappy contest where guys were fighting as hard as they could.''

The Dunk?

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Phil Watch: Mishmash Of Mucky Muck

Ever watch a movie and think it was fine enough as the credits rolled?  And then you get into the car and realize, "Holy Crap, that movie sucked!"

It comes from being able to step back a bit and see it's suckitude in all it's glory.

We'll call it the Burn After Reading effect.

Phil's column today has it.  Boy, does it have it.  It's Phil's Whispers.  He has his ear to the ground for us, people.

Let's get started.

How committed are the Cubs to Ryan Theriot as their shortstop? There was never even internal discussion about pursuing Michael Young, who the Rangers made available after he balked at moving to third base. 

Yes.  Ryan Theriot's diminutive wonderfulness is what stopped Hendry from talking about Michael Young.  Not the fact that the Cubs are about to be sold and Young has a contract that pays him $16 million each year for the next five years.  Yes.  Not that.  It's Ryan Theriot and all his throwback greatness to the 30s and 40s.

Young and the Rangers appear to have worked out their differences, meaning it's Hank Blalock the Rangers are trying to trade. …Blalock's availability doesn't help the market for Joe Crede, who is among the large group of free agents still unsigned. …

Yes.  A team should trade a couple of decent to good minor leaguers for Blalock and pick up his $6.25 million contract for 2009 instead of signing Joe Crede to an incentive-laden one year deal worth $5 million with an option.  Yes.  That's the way teams should operate.  Give up something or somethings for Blalock, a guy who also hasn't played a full season since 2006.  Phil = Consistent.

Also unsigned is a large group that was offered arbitration and declined it, including Orlando Cabrera, Ben Sheets, Juan Cruz, Jon Garland, Brandon Lyon and Oliver Perez. Brewers GM Doug Melvin said he considered signing Cruz as his closer but opted for Trevor Hoffman because he didn't want to give up a first-round draft pick. …

Phil.  Sweety.  Melvin was being nice.  If he let it all fly, Melvin would have said that Cruz has been a decent middle reliever over the last two years, has a WHIP that says it's been a bit of a mirage and HAS NEVER CLOSED!  Yes.  Give up a first round draft pick for that.

Spring training sleeper for the Cubs—center fielder Sam Fuld, who has had a big winter in Venezuela and has leadoff man skills. For the White Sox—third baseman Javier Castillo, a non-roster invitee who hit .288 between Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte last season. …

Cripes!  That's the 48 bazillionth time he's mentioned Sam freakin' Fuld's "big" winter in the freakin' Venezuelan league.  Please tell me how Fuld gets into the lineup to lead off.  Please.  No answer has been given yet.  Cubs outfield:  Soriano, Bradley, Fukudome, Johnson, Gathright. And man, if Fuld breaks camp with the Cubs, they're quickly becoming a nugget convention with Theriot, Fontenot and him.  

Javier Castillo?  A light-hitting third basemen with a career .266 minor league average, doesn't walk and is a little too booty?  Fuck Viciedo and Fields.  He's is The Answer!

The Brewers are interested in free-agent starter Braden Looper.

Early 2009 nomination for the most irrelevant sentence ever written ever.

And then there's Phil's flagship Sunday column.

...Both Reinsdorf and McCourt keep a close eye on the bottom line. While Reinsdorf took the White Sox's payroll into the nine-digit stratosphere in the honeymoon seasons after the 2005 championship, he and general manager Ken Williams now appear ahead of the curve in watching out for the economic downturn facing baseball and other professional sports.

Nine-digit stratosphere?  It was $103 million, good for 4th in baseball...after a World freakin' Championship.  Now...I'm thinking that Phil believes that kind of spending is bad given the word choice and the fact that he wrote 4,000 columns in 2008 about the White Sox irresponsible spending.  Let's see who this plays out.  

And they're not 'ahead of the curve'.  Has Phil been watching this offseason?  Not one team will enter 2009 with a payroll higher than 2008.  Not one.  Not even the Yankees.

The White Sox opened 2008 with a payroll of $121.2 million and added to it by trading for Ken Griffey Jr. at the trading deadline. The signing of Bartolo Colon gave them 14 players signed at $83.525 million. Factoring in the arbitration-eligible Bobby Jenks and 10 entry-level players, they will be in the range of $92-94 million when the season opens—and they are still open to trading Jermaine Dye, which could lower that figure.

So that's pretty good...right?

The movement to get younger—creating opportunity for players like Josh Fields, Dayan Viciedo, Chris Getz, Brian Anderson, Jerry Owens and Brent Lillibridge—is allowing the White Sox to cut almost $30 million off the payroll, seemingly without being passed by anyone in the American League Central.

So...really good...right?

The Dodgers' cost-cutting is even worse, as Manny Ramirez can testify. The reality with a situation almost as strange as Ramirez himself is that it now appears the Dodgers never really wanted to re-sign Ramirez. Many around baseball believe general manager Ned Colletti made Ramirez a two-year offer only to save face, with the expectation that somebody would outbid him. But that hasn't happened.

Worse?  Probably poor word choice.  But...worse?

And so...now we have the Dodgers NOT signing Manny.  They're NOT signing him in Phil's world for the reasons given.

If the Dodgers really wanted to keep Ramirez, they would have done it by now. But whispers have gone around for years about McCourt not having the usual financial muscle of Dodgers' owners, and that is being borne out this winter.

So again...there's NOT signing Manny...in Phil's world...for the 12,000 reasons given.

...The Dodgers opened the 2008 season with a payroll of $118.6 million, and added Ramirez, Casey Blake and Greg Maddux in midseason deals. But they since have released Andruw Jones, lost six free agents to other teams (most notably Derek Lowe and Brad Penny) and allowed eight others, including Ramirez, to linger unsigned.

So...they're...cutting...payrolllllll.  And no Manny...?

They have only about $52 million committed to nine players, with two of the three biggest contracts belonging to players who haven't helped ( Juan Pierre and Jason Schmidt). They have four arbitration-eligible players, including catcher Russell Martin and closer Jonathan Broxton, and are expected eventually to re-sign Ramirez.


While the Sox count on production from inexpensive contributors like Carlos Quentin, Alexei Ramirez, John Danks and Gavin Floyd, the Dodgers have a deeper, more touted core of young players.  Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, James Loney and Martin figure to hit together near the middle of the order for years to come. 

De-Bat-Able.  Matt Kemp looks like a monkey humping a football when he plays the outfield.  Loney hasn't developed anything resembling consistent power yet (except against the Cubs in the playoffs, of course.  Tee-hee.) and Ethier?  Meh.  We'll see.  They were a .500 team last year in a shit-ass division before trading for Manny.  

Chad Billingsley, Clayton Kershaw, James McDonald and Cory Wade similarly anchor the pitching staff (although Billingsley may not be ready to open 2009 because of a November broken leg, when he slipped on ice).


Billingsley = Good.  Yes.

Kershaw = Should be decent.  Great hook.  Had some control issues.

McDonald = Six major league innings.  Six.

Wade = Never started a major league game.  Never.

And where the hell is Kuroda?

Gee whiz, Phil.  Two guys have no major league starting experience, one is coming off an injury and the other is primed to go through growing pains.  How is that 'anchoring' anything?

But can you cut your payroll 30 percent and defend a division title? The Dodgers, like the White Sox, hope the answer is yes.

Well...it kind of depending on what that 30 percent is, doesn't it?   Just a thought.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Saturday Salmagundi

New Feature

Rug Alert!

Jeremy Piven in 2008 ------ Jeremy Piven in 1994

For Shame!

Dan McNeil Out At WMVP

It's been at least a year since I listened to Mac, Jurko & Harry because, well, it was just not that interesting.  And I say 'was' because McNeil's $600,000 option was declined, making Friday the last day for the show.  

Apparently, no clue was really given during Friday's show until the end, though McNeil did say during the broadcast, "I wouldn't get out of bed for a $250,000 job."  Ugh.  For a show that played the bullshit Chicago blue collar angle to death, that had to make more than a few construction workers spit out their Folgers.

Prediction:  He already has a Sun-Times column.  He'll expand that role for a year or so, wait for things to shake out at The Score or Comcast and take a position at one of them.

8 Years!  8!  Let's Look Back

Inter Alia

The Iowa Hawkeye basketball team unveils new uniforms on February 14 against Purdue.  Let's hope the new uniforms have an inside game.  BA-ZING!

Maggie Nemser, a #2 seed in the original Tournament of Awful, eventually losing to the juggernaut that was Tribune's Starbuck's coverage, is now THE EDITOR of Yahoo! Food!!!!!  Author of one of my most hated blog posts ever not by David Wygant, How to judge a man by his choice of beverage (or bevy) on a first date, the people at Yahoo! enjoyed her shittiness so much they promoted her. 

Remember right after the Cubs were swept out of the playoffs in the first round?  'Member that?  And we here at BRE asked if Cub fans would cross the Rubicon and meander in the realm of real baseball fans by demanding more.  The Cubs convention was a benchmark.  Would they ask more from their team?  One word describes the convention so far this weekend:  Docile.  Apparently Milton Bradley and Aaron Miles are the answers.

And on the South Side, does anybody else get a little ill listening to Don Cooper so stridently push the company line?  His take on the Bartolo Colon signing was embarrassing. "His heart, his guts, his passion, cutting it, slicing it, dicing it..."  Listen here.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Friday Fatuousness: The Upside of Recession

Circuit City is closing.  

Along with Linens N Things, Goody's, Claire's, Tweeter, CompUSA, etc. while many project Dillard's and Talbot's to be next.

And we're not talking about filing for bankruptcy followed by a reorganization.  We're talking shutting all their stores for good. 

That isn't such a bad thing.  It's time to thin out the herd.

In no way, shape or form do I welcome the loss of jobs, of course.  30,000 alone will be shed by Circuit City.  That's a lot.

But having worked at Circuit City's chief competitor back in the 90s along with a glut of other jobs in retail, it's not like the economy is losing 30,000 high-quality jobs chockablock with long-term security and superlative benefits.  

I was treated well, rising quickly through the system at a young age to the worst job I've ever had ever - Appliance Department Manager (and that includes laying sod for 12 hours a day one summer).  The hours sucked (regularly 60 hours on salary), the pay and bonuses were just enough to get you to stay but not stop the bitching and you were constantly asked if you were open to moving halfway around the country to open new stores as if that was part of your job description and declining the "opportunity" had ramifications.  And that position was supposedly one that the company "valued."   

And like the current situation in the economy, a job is a job.

But it's time for some corrections in the market.  Did we really need 571 stores of Linens 'N Things?  Did we need 8,000 different stores selling the same As Seen On TV crap at a ridiculous markup?  Linens 'N Things was the type of place that would have put the Snuggie on a prominent endcap with the idea that everyone absolutely needed it.  The whole store was stocked with solely 'impulse buys', all under one roof.  

The problem with that was you would have to be going to Linens 'N Things for some necessity to be hooked by an impulse buy.  Who the hell went to Linens 'N Things for anything necessary?  What?  Sheets?  Go to Target.  They're cheaper with the same thread count (I formally hand in my manhood after that).  A coffee maker?  Wait until Bloomingdale's, Macy's or Kohl's (a store that apparently never doesn't have a sale) runs one of their bazillion 30% off sales, use your charge card to get an extra 15% off and presto!  It's oodles cheaper.

In the case of Circuit City, this was a fait accompli.  Everytime I walked into that store (which was about three times total), I could actually feel the stock price dropping.  It was drab, overpriced and kind of depressing.

The entire late 90s and early aughts were seemingly built on a house of cards anyway when it came to crass and tacky commercial retail expansion.  Let's continue the thinning out.

We here at BRE will continue to watch this.  Abercrombie & Fitch's sales were down 24% over the previous year.  So the news keeps getting better.

C'mon Pier 1 Imports.  Don't disappoint me.      


Friday Isn't For Thinking

Yeah, I know, we went through about 5 color schemes over the last few days and then settled on one that was pretty much the same thing.
We touched on this yesterday a bit but Bartolo Colon? If we were deciding on a Pie Eating Contest then, yes, he's my man. And if it was 2002 and we were in Cleveland. I've had a day to ponder and while it's fairly low risk (1 year/1 million w/ massive incentives) I'm still kind of perplexed. I mean, for God's sake, the man got hurt trying to put down a bunt last year!

Christo, is Figgins to Sox dead?
OK, we can build a rocket that can shot from a battleship and hit a cave 400 miles away but we still haven't perfected the old "A flock of retarded geese can bring down an airplane" conundrum.
If I'm in that plane, good luck getting me on another one.
I took the dog in to get spayed this morning and the nurse got annoyed when she jumped up on her, complete with exasperated sigh.
Ok, I get it. She probably deals with hyperactive dogs all day and it most likely gets old but getting annoyed at a puppy when you work at an ANIMAL HOSPITAL probably is a sign that you need to find another line of work.

Other examples:

NeoNatal nurse: "God, when will these babies stop crying?"
Hockey coach: "Does it have to be so cold?"
Starbuck's barista: "Again with the coffee?"

You get the idea.
I understand when people get annoyed with Chicagoans when they complain about the cold as if it's a new thing but when it's -22 fucking degrees I think you may have a legitimate reason to complain.
Yes, that's what it read on my thermometer at the house this morning. Not wind chill..air temperature.

That said, laugh it up now, hay seed. I may be cold right now but you still have to live in Texas.
Three days until W. is gone. It's like that day the hamster you can't believe is still alive finally dies.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


I only took a short nap.  How the hell did I wake up in 2003?

RIP: Ricardo Montalban

Like most everyone, he'll always be Khan to me.

Seacrest High-Fives A Blind Man

Couldn't happen to a bigger bag of douche.  You're part of the problem, dude.

In other news, Eddie won't be getting creepy tanked on the University of Iowa's dime anymore.

Probably for the best.

More to come today.  I'm not leaving the house in this crap.  Might lose my primo parking space.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Got Bored

New look. Whatever.

Ed Podolak Does His Andy Capp Impression

Apparently this is causing a bit of a kerfuffle over in the BRE's home state.

Since when is this a crime?

I heart Ed Podolak.

Mate's Musings

I finally watched an episode of "Flight of the Conchords" that I had DVRd from a million years ago (hell, I haven't even had HBO for 6 months) and I gotta say...meh.
Maybe it was a weaker episode and I'm willing to give it another chance but I thought it was only moderately funny in parts. I guess I'm just not seeing what's so overwhelmingly hysterical about it. I get that I'm in the minority BTW...

Per Christo's request I finally have gotten around to reading "Winesburg, Ohio". You would think the guy that wrote "Losers Bracket" would've read this at some point. But, alas, I haven't. Just started it last night.
Gonna be taking a trip to glamorous Dayton, Ohio next weekend. Any tips?
I officially can't watch the Golden Globes anymore. It was just an abomination. Christo touched on the Kate Winslet/completely disingenuous/bullshit/drama queen/actor fuck fake astonishment but I watched almost the entire thing (well, the 30 minutes I watched of it) through my hands in "Paul Bermeister I fucked up" level of awkwardness.
Mickey Rourke? Um, I get that you're out of rehab and are making a comeback but I find it very hard to believe that you can't afford to get your teeth fixed.
And, psst, the Hollywood Foreign Press is about 14 guys. It's bullshit.
Am always glad to see Paul Giammati get some love, though. Now, get him a fucking OSCAR!
And Sasha Baron Cohen brought 'em all down a peg. Loved that.
One month from today? PITCHERS AND CATCHERS REPORT!!! Thank fucking GOD!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Moronic Monday - Awards Day

An Early Entry For The Most Asinine Thing Said In 2009 Award

"To be honest with you, I don't think journalists should be anywhere allowed war (sic).  I mean, you guys report where our troops are at, you report what's happening day-to-day, you make a big deal out of it.  I think it's asinine.  I liked back in World War I and World War II, when you'd go to the theater and you'd see your troops on the screen and everyone would be real excited and happy for them.  Now everyone's got an opinion and wants to down soldiers, our American soldiers, Israeli soldiers.  I think media should be abolished from, you know, reporting.  You know, war is hell, and if you're going to sit there and say, "Well, look at this atrocity," well, you don't know the full story behind it half the time.  So I think the media should have no business in it."
No business...reporting...the media...RE-PORT-ING!

A long-time pet peeve of mine is people that say "to be honest with you."  It's a sure indicator that something unbelievably stupid is about to be said.  Next time you hear it, prick up your ears because you're about to find yourself knee-deep in crap.

An Early Entry For The Most Inevitable Thing To Happen Award 

Well, we now know that Ferentz used his influence to play Christensen the entire second half of the Pittsburgh game.  It took Jake to transfer and his Kellen Winslow, Sr.-like dad to get that information out.

And I suppose this is the place where I say, as a guy that wasn't a fan of Christensen, that I did not condone the booing of him by meatball Hawk fans, something that's become akin to being for universal health care and then having to spend five hours separating yourself from communists.  I heart debating in America.  It's soooo productive.

I can't imagine the frustration Christensen had over having to play behind that offensive line and those receivers in 2007.  Sure.  I also can't imagine the frustration he had over realizing that he wasn't going to grow another 2-3 inches.  A 6' QB in Iowa's system is a recipe for failure.  It's always going to be a patchwork of guys that necessitates a bit of ad-libbing on the fly, making height and stride all the more important.  

The days of a ten-step dropback, plant and throw in college football are gone.  Jake seemed a relic of years gone by, never adapting to the prevailing need and seeming bent on hoping the system would adapt to him.

$20 says, though, that he'll have a great senior year in 2010 for the Akron Zips and Eastern Illinois Redbirds.  It's what happens.

In other 2005 recruiting class news, did you know that Ryan Bain was suspected of using a non-approved substance at Akron? 

An Early Entry For The Biggest Overreaction To A Stupid Award Award  

Kate, it's a Golden Globe, an award only slightly higher in prestige than me giving my dog a "good job" when she poops.

An Early Entry For A Sign Of The Times Award

Greg Hardesty didn't LOL when he got his teen daughter's cellphone statement.

All he could think was "OMG!"

The California man's 13-year-old daughter, Reina, racked up an astonishing 14,528 text messages in one month. The online AT&T statement ran 440 pages.

"First, I laughed. I thought, 'That's insane, that's impossible,' " the 45-year-old dad said. "And I immediately whipped out the calculator to see if it was humanly possible."

He found it was - barely.

It works out to 484 text messages a day, or one every two minutes of every waking hour.

"Then I thought maybe AT&T made some mistake on the bill," said Hardesty, of Silverado Canyon...
One every two minutes she was awake.  Did she speak to another human during that month?

Mate will get to this admonition of social fuckwittage during the next Tournament Of Awful, coming this March.

Here's last August's retrospective:

Friday, January 9, 2009

Friday Fatuousness

Time to clean out the closet.

Take about two hours of your time and peruse the rapidly expanding and superlatively good Fangraphs.com.

Two months ago, they incorporated a new feature into the site that explains a hitter's value to their team in a given year.  Basically, they take a myriad of indicators (batting, fielding, value above replacement, positional adjustment, etc.) and comes up with a number that your mother could understand.  It's called Value Wins, essentially the number of wins a hitter offers his team over a replacement player.

Since every team is going to win 45 games no matter the dreck they trot out to the field, every team is fighting for the next 45 wins to get to the playoffs.  That's the essence of 'above replacement' in the grand scheme of things.  

The guys at Fangraphs have taken all of that and transferred those Value Wins into a comparison of the player's salary to what his production was worth on the open market in a particular year.

For example, in 2008, a win was worth $4.5 million to any team last year.  Carlos Quentin offered the Sox 5.6 Value Wins, translating into a $19.6 million value on the open market.  He was paid $800,000.  

In a similar dollar range, Mark DeRosa offered the Cubs $19.4 million in production last year and was paid $4.8 million.  In DeRosa's career, he's produced $44.7 million worth of production and made $10 million.  Taking DeRosa's place on the Cubs roster is Aaron Miles, a guy who produced at a $5.6 million level in his career and made $3.4 million.  In fact, Miles has cost his teams money in three of the five years he's played significantly.  Or check out the fact that Alex Rodriguez's stupid-large contracts have actually been a bit of a bargain.

It's entirely more involved than I have described here but it's oodles of fun over at Fangraphs.

And on the player pages, they list 2009 projections (Bill James, Marcel and CHONE) for every guy, something invaluable to even the most casual fantasy baseball player (You'd be absolutely shocked how spot-on CHONE is).

So check it out.

Book Corner

Mike Royko pulled no punches when he wrote Boss:  Richard J. Daley of Chicago in 1971 and nobody comes out unscathed.

Following Daley from birth to about five years before his death, Royko paints a picture of a guy that mirrors the city in so many ways even while he strong-arms the city to bend to his own myopic vision.  Daley was a master manipulator, yes.  Everyone knows that.  

But Boss chronicles the details.  It's a 50-year story arc of Chicago in the middle of the 20th century.  Want to know how the modern Chicago Democratic Machine came into being?  It's all right here.  Oh, the racism, fraud, duplicitousness and arrogance!  

It's a seminal work, so much so that Daley forced over 200 Chicago private bookstores to ban it.  His wife was even caught vandalizing it in one bookstore once the ban was lifted.  Highly recommended.

We here at BRE grew up in a small town.  And one thing about growing up in a small town is that nobody has seemed to have gotten the essence of what growing up in a small town means in the world of literature.

But Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson gets really close...with qualifications. 

Written nearly 100 years ago, I never thought it could offer much in relevance to a small town atmosphere today so I avoided it all these years.  I was wrong.

It conveys so much in terms of loneliness, despair, limited options and limited life that it immediately evoked very personal images of my hometown.  But make no mistake, Anderson based the book on his hometown, Clyde, Ohio, and Anderson did not particularly enjoy his time in Clyde.  

And that's not such a bad thing despite the fact that some critics saw that as it's main problem.  Sure, there are no sunshine and roses here.  And on its surface, portions of the book could come across as dull to people that didn't experience such an upbringing.  But the underlying emotions boiling just below the surface get to the heart of a small town milieu in a way I haven't seen before.  It's uncompromisingly dark and morose, maybe a tad too much so (even for me) but entirely worth the time.

William Faulkner described Anderson as 'The father of my whole generation of writers' and indeed, the novel reads like a precursor to pretty much everything even Faulkner himself wrote.  And that's the real qualification.  If you have given the time to Faulkner and enjoyed it, read Winesburg, Ohio.  If reading Faulkner is akin to enjoying a root canal...well...you know.

Iowa Hawkeye Round-up       

No más Cyrus Tate?  Check.  This could get ugly.

Top 20 ranking in the final AP football poll?  Check.

Ed Podolak a creepy drunk?  Check.