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

John Cleese

Friday, January 29, 2010

Friday Fatuousness


No jury duty for Christo. We were dismissed before the trial started due to unfortunate circumstances, a vague description that left all of us a tad uncomfortable.

Is The Designated Hitter About To Go The Way Of The Dodo?

Something's going on.

A lot of DH-types are still sitting on the market. Some have been forced into retirement when, just a few years ago, they probably would have found jobs.

Thome's signing was interesting in that he was signed primarily as a bench player to start the season. Jason Giambi reupping with the Rockies with no position to play is even more interesting. Jermaine Dye can't find a job and most of the rumors involving him are with National League teams.

Something's happening.

We've heard rumblings that the owners might revisit the legitimacy of the DH and something might happen on that front in the next 2-3 years.

We've also heard from one manager and one GM from the AL just in the last week about their plans for the DH slot:
Ozzie Guillen: "Whoever wants to come to the White Sox as long as I'm here is not going to be a full-time DH," Guillen said after a brisk question-and-answer session with fans. "Nobody. I don't care who it is.''

Dave Dombrowski: "If we sign somebody, and we've said this all wintertime, we don't want them to just DH," Dombrowski said Saturday. "If we would ever do anything, that person needs to be primarily somebody that can play another position. Because we want to keep our DH spot open. Magglio and Carlos are in [the stage of] their careers, and even Miguel -- but not to that extent -- we'd like to give them a day off now and then. So for us, it's important to be able to have that guy play another position. There are a lot of what I consider DH-type bats out there, but we're really trying to put an emphasis on going and getting the ball and playing good defense. And so that flexibility for us is important."
Is it just a coincidence that all this stuff is happening at the same time? Maybe.

But something resembling a perfect storm might be occurring. Defensive importance has taken a great leap forward recently. Sure. There seems to be an embarrassment of riches relating to starting pitching now compared to just a few years ago as well. I can't recall such a glut of young, good starting pitchers mixed with tons of older, great starting pitchers in the league. This is as deep the entire league has been in years with so many teams having a genuine 1-4.

In the past, building around defense and good starting pitching has been a great example of exploiting a market inefficiency. With few teams focusing on that, if a GM went that direction, they had an advantage other teams didn't. It was also a much easier path to success, as finding offense and/or hoping for a bounce-back year from a guy at a plate who has been kinda bad/injured recently had a much higher rate of success than trying to teach bad fielders to field better.

Now, with defense and starting pitching becoming the norm, many more teams are realizing you can win games by preventing runs instead of trying to outscore everybody. That leaves a DH-type flailing in the wind. It's a quadruple whammy in many ways. No defense combined with his inflexibility combined with bad DH contracts in the past combined with the new baseball economy makes for a bad environment for DHs to find jobs.

Let's focus on that last one - the new baseball economy. Everyone seems to be slimming down a bit. Seeing how that's playing out this offseason makes one think that the DH is a place where, collectively, the league's owners see a spot to "reevaluate" in order to shed what has been a roster slot taking up anywhere from 7-12% of payroll. Use that as a rotating slot for fielders to get a rest and fill the the roster spot with a bench player making league minimum or with a reclamation project and teams saved a crapload of money.

It's too early to cry collusion but something's going on.

Full-time DHs in the 2000s in descending order from 2009-2000: 4, 4, 6, 6, 5, 8, 9, 9, 12, 15.

In 2010, it looks like the trend will continue.

This is all fairly old news but with the with the collective bargaining agreement expiring after 2011, both sides looking to get a deal in place earlier rather than later and not one guy whose primary role has been as a designated hitter having a contract running past 2011 (save Travis Hafner), the mind begins to wonder.

This all could come back around. With everybody focusing on defense and pitching, the market inefficiency could become a bashing offense. If nothing happens on the CBA front, the DH could easily come back as a market inefficiency to exploit.

But is this it?

I like the DH so I hope not, but some evidence is beginning to mount.

In the least, what used to be the norm in the AL now seems to be something vulnerable to the cyclical nature of the dominating paradigm.


PECOTA's Out!

Commence spitting, rage-induced fit.

(click to enlarge)

Computers hate the Sox and REALLY hate the Angels AGAIN this year.

For reference, PECOTA has been off on the Angels to the tune of +10, +12, +8, +8, +12 and +16 wins over the last six years.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Christo Will Be Gone Until Monday As He Performs His Civic Duty



What's that old axiom about one's level of stupidity
and his ability to get out of jury duty?

Curiously, all the people that mentioned Fox News
as their primary news source got off.

Apparently that channel does have some value.

Ugh.

Friday, January 22, 2010

For The Record


Via AWG:
Also, if you want to remember what it's like to be in high school again, tune in to Score transition today at 1pm. Boers and McNeil prove again that growing up is hard to do.

Friday Fatuousness


The Bad

It was going to happen eventually.

If we're going to get all upset now, where was the anger that McCain-Feingold left open to the judicial process nine years ago?

Anyone who has read the First Amendment saw the gaping hole just waiting to be exploited:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
It's right in the first five words. "Congress shall make no law..." Corporations aren't people and the spirit IS abused in a sense here, but what was the Court to do? Ignore the very First Amendment?

I mean...it's the first one.

Congress can't make a law. It doesn't specifically say if they can't make a law against a person or corporation or a herd of talking goats. Just that they can't.

The Supreme Court is in the business of interpreting the Constitution regardless of the nature, quality, goodness or badness of outcomes. And all this was the conservative wing's out-pitch.

This will be bad. In fact, it has the potential to become quite ridiculous as corporations have free rein to spend away without limits on political campaigns, though I don't think it will be all that awful once it's sorted out.

Consider this, though. Kennedy, writing the majority opinion, made sure that public disclosure of corporate spending was a part of it as precedent demands. Thomas wanted to go even further and eliminate that measure. Oh, Thomas. You scamp.

The Court could have used constitutional avoidance by simply applying a narrower ruling more directly related to the case. They didn't. Roberts released his part of the assent, specifically saying something akin to "This isn't an activist Court move."

That's crap. It's really as activist as it gets. But so many people on both sides of the aisle predicted this day would come the second that McCain-Feingold passed. They said so because it was directly messing with the First Amendment and only a minor ideological change on the Court would open the door as wide as possible with every constitutional justification - bullshit or not - to let it wander into the realm of feasible.

So...eight decent years of marginally effective campaign finance reform is no more. Everyone knew it was like stapling cardboard to a leaking roof. We can't be very shocked when the roof finally caves in.

Amend the Constitution and the Court can't screw with it.

Just a thought.


The Good

BAH! 11%?



And Some Good Movies


Up In The Air is kind of a Big Boy movie, allowing me to simply enjoy being in its space. Nothing shoved down my throat, took from it what I wanted and relished in the story as it unfolded in front of me. Shockingly, the dippy ad campaign declaring it "a movie of our times" didn't ruin a thing. Pretty nice way to spend a Wednesday afternoon.


4 Bald Heads Out of 5



The Hurt Locker doesn't love itself too much. Bigelow seemed to know that she wasn't there to answer questions or club you over the head with its Iraq War weight. The material speaks for itself without any commentary, a rare thing for movies about the Iraq War. Great touch with the use of Guy Pearce and Ralph Fiennes.


4 1/2 Bald Heads Out Of 5



Moon succeeds where the remake of Solaris failed. It's a self-contained and focused attempt at old-school science fiction that actually works. It's a short little escape into the future where one man has a doppelgänger that might a little bit too similar to himself.


3 1/2 Bald Heads Out Of 5


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Did I Just See That?

Wait, was that the Iowa basketball team entertaining me in the 2nd half last night with actual competitive play and a fairly formidable inside/outside mix? Against the 7th ranked team in the country?
Do I actually have a gleam of hope that this team may actually be somewhat competitive the rest of the season and somehow make the annual February Sports Purgatory Bridge to Baseball seem almost bearable?
I'm thinking no but we'll see.....
That said, John Lickliter looks very Troy Skinneresque doesn't he? By that I mean, Augustana talent playing in the Big 10.
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Is it just me or does Drew Brees come across as kinda like a douchebag or asshole?
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2 days and counting until dog number 2 comes and begins his reign of terror in the Famber House. Looking forward to it but it's amazing how my "I will never do the puppy thing again!" went straight out the window.
To be fair, our options were limited to small dogs because as much as we wanted to get a bigger dog, we just don't have the space for two medium sized. Second one needed to be small. And God is it.

"Little Snowball?! He runs on batteries!"*
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I've lost 10 pounds since January 5th (We're happy for ya!) and I've done it by going to the gym every day. That's every day. Mate Famber goes to the gym every day. Ponder that for a moment.
Now, get your affairs straight as the world is coming to an abrupt end....
Seriously though, I actually enjoy it and get upset if I don't get there. (I missed one day because of weather)
I'm unemployed and have all sorts of time. I'm sick of being fat and tired of being tired at 7PM. I can't really use the "I gave up smoking" excuse anymore as it has been 3 and a half years now...
Also, I gave up soda.**
Trying to get to 30 pounds lost by the anniversary. Still going to Blackbird for it, though.
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NBC has done a good job of covering the Haiti earthquake but can we stop showing your correspondent's speaking French to the survivors? We get it. You're bilingual. Hooray.
Even in the most dire circumstances, you can still count on TV to get a shot of ego in there.
Don't tell me it's not intentional. Puh-lease.

* No, his name is not Snowball. We're leaning towards Rufus but no final decision has been made..My choice? Teddy Salad.

** Mostly.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Mate's Musings

Apparently health care reform is dead because of an off year special election in Massachusetts. Yep, that's a helluva Congress we got there.
The Democrats have nobody to blame but themselves for this debacle. One thing you can set your watch to is when Democrats have control of anything they will ultimately implode, not get anything done and hand off power to the Republicans who will then in turn, do nothing to help anyone. It's an American tradition.
This campaign run by Coakley, from all accounts, was run almost as badly as Hillary's. By that i mean, they thought victory was inevitable (it is Massachusetts after all) and tried to coast to a win. Not a very good idea no matter where you live. You would think the Democrats would finally, after many losses, get this. But they don't.
Some of this is just good old off year election cycle stuff. The American people, being the morons that they are, immediately turn on the person they just elected and start going the other way. And the talking heads on either side start slobbering all over themselves and point to how this is some sort of sign that their side is winning. It's all bullshit.
This is by no means in any way a good sign for the Democrats. Don't be fooled. They'll try to spin it that it's a referendum on "incumbents" but it's a payback for the foot dragging and in fighting they've been doing since Obama came into office.
So, the Tea Baggers got one. Status quo wins again. Nice job, America.
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So Tiger Woods is a sex addict.
First off, sexual addiction is right up there with bisexuality in the "Made Up Bullshit" stratosphere.
Secondly, this is such a ploy to make people feel sorry for him when in reality he's a scumbag who cheated on his wife because he could get any woman he wanted. Well, any self hating woman anyway....
A sex addict? It's called being a man. We all are. It's like saying your addicted to massages and vibrating chairs. We'd spend all day doing that shit if we could.
And go fuck yourself, psychobabble analysts. God they are tiring..


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Letterman was on fire again last night. The term "Classic Jay" came out about 5 times. You think this is something that's been eating at him for awhile now?
Fantastic television.
And how does Jeff Zucker still have a job? Seriously.
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Getting back to last night's election, Sean Hannity referred to it three times as an "electoral earthquake".....Way to be cognizant of the world, asshat.
But this fits right into Obama's agenda, doesn't it?
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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Ah, yes, the Impetuousness of Youth....,

Say it isn't so? An Everclear ban? First I was all for it as I hated their fucking douchebag Southern California whine pseudo rock ("Father of Mine"? Fuck you) but then I heard it was actually for the grain alcohol. Shit.
It's a rite of passage for a 18-19 year old Midwestern boy to first discover his limits to alcohol consumption and turning it into a decade long battle with binge drinking. Come on!
(Looks skyward nostaligically) I remember my very first day at the University of Iowa when the headline was of a young man who died in a fraternity hazing incident after gobbling a pint of Everclear. Then the frat boys wrote "Faggot" on his face with marker as he lay passed out and nearly dead. What kooky funsters!
I have my own history with the stuff. My first time being drunk was at a house party my junior year of high school. I wasn't much of a drinker in those days but i got tanked on a 2 liter of Purple Passion (Yep) and a giant glass of Mountain Dew and LIT Everclear. Noone will ever call me "faggot"!! I downed it like it was water. And the rest of the night was a glorious puke inducing blur. I do remember waking up the next day with a swollen ankle. I have no idea how.
So, come on, pussies. Drink your grain alcohol like the rest of us and get your balls.
BTW, this same party was the one where someone** drank a Colt .45 bottle filled with piss and another kid puked in the Chips Ahoy bag under the sink.*** And left it.
Ah, summer nights.....

** Name left out to protect...also, I think it may have been Christo's piss.
*** Same as above. It was the most stealth vomit in history.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Overly-Analyzed 2010 White Sox Season Is Now...Open!


To celebrate Martin Luther King Day, we'll kick off our 2010 White Sox coverage here at the BRE with an entirely worthless post meant to mean absolutely nothing.

Par for the course, really.

Individual player projections from around the interwebs are starting to trickle in. We already have three of the biggies in Bill James, CHONE and Marcel.

Baseball Prospectus' PECOTA has been waiting until late February or early March the last couple of years. Christo's excessively-complicated mathematical system of taking stabs in the dark for all 25 roster spots in under three minutes while taking a crap typically arrives after a trip to Hot Doug's right before Opening Day.

But for today, we will look at the three projection systems that are available in James, CHONE and Marcel. All three are available under each player page at Fangraphs.com. Each system uses a different methodology but all use a variation of historical comparables.

CHONE (run by Sean Smith of BaseballProjection and is an Angels fan) has generally been proven to be the most accurate among the three. He goes a bit deeper than the rest by using park factors and minor league splits.

Bill James (essentially the founder of sabermetrics) tends to be a bit optimistic offensively (very optimistic, actually) and he loves him sum prospects.

Marcel (run by TangoTiger) is the most basic, using only three-year averages with the most recent data weighed heavier and is generally more pessimistic overall.

We're going to take averages of all of them (mostly by eyeballing each) and only give the basic statistical numbers (average, OBP, SLG, HR, Runs, RBI, SB) to see where the Sox are to start the season.

I, by no means, stand behind my weird little forthcoming system and say this is what each player will do. I will say that these projection systems over the years have been pert-near close to being...well...close. But projections are individual players, not within the context of the team. James doesn't give runs/earned runs so my combined numbers are a tad skewed in that sense.

It just a ballpark estimate based on three different and respected projections made by emotionless computer algorithms that don't root for specific teams. Take it for exactly what it's worth: Probably not much, could be something and passes the time in mid-January.

So, to speak in the best of clichés, that's why they play the games.

I use only the basic stats because going deeper would take me days. This is a two hour thing and THAT'S IT!

Let's get started.

25 Man Roster

Hitters:

C - Pierzynski - .277/.315/.412, 13 hr, 58 runs, 55 rbi, 1 sb

1B - Konerko - .260/.346/.468, 27 hr, 70 runs, 81 rbi, 1 sb

2B - Beckham - .280/.354/.460, 17 hr, 79 runs, 82 rbi, 8 sb

SS - Ramirez - .280/.330/.428, 17 hr, 70 runs, 74 rbi, 12 sb

3B - Teahen - .268/.330/.420, 14 hr, 70 runs, 60 rbi, 7 sb

LF - Pierre - .285/.336/.358, 2 hr, 60 runs, 30 rbi, 34 sb

CF - Rios - .274/.328/.443, 17 hr, 78 runs, 73 rbi, 22 sb

RF - Quentin - .265/.355/.495, 25 hr, 75 runs, 80 rbi, 5 sb

DH - Kotsay - .260/.318/.375, 6 hr, 34 runs, 37 rbi, 3 sb

BN - Jones - .225/.315/.420, 16 hr, 46 runs, 48 rbi, 3 sb

BN - Vizquel - .235/.290/.305, 2 hr, 28 runs, 27 rbi, 6 sb

BN - Nix - .242/.310/.400, 10 hr, 40 runs, 36 rbi, 10 sb

BN - Castro - .238/.307/.433, 9 hr, 22 runs, 30 rbi, 0 sb

Total: .265/.332/.430, 175 hr, 730 runs, 713 rbi, 112 sb

Offensive Conclusion: The AVG/OBP/SLG calculations are entirely suspect since I didn't do the individual stats to determine such things. Just eyeballed it. From an average standpoint, the particular career arcs of position players (i.e. age, experience, recent three-year averages) actually favor the starting group more than I anticipated. That is to say that there isn't anyone expected to completely fall on their face by the computers.

Again, you can't do this type of thing with projections but here's where each statistic would rank among all teams in 2009:

.265 AVG (10th - 7 points ahead of last year's .258)
.332 OBP (16th - 3 points ahead of last year's .329)
.430 SLG (9th - 19 points ahead of last year's .411)
175 HR (11th - 9 behind last year's 184)
730 Runs (19th - six runs off last year for the Sox)
713 RBI (16th - 18 ahead of last year's 695)
112 SB (9th - one stolen base off last year's total of 113)

That's just bizarre. Compared to the '09 Sox, just looking at the difference, I'd say that those numbers could easily be pretty darn close.

Pitchers (W-L, ERA, Innings, Runs Allowed, Earned Runs Allowed):

SP - Peavy - 12-8, 3.51 ERA, 162 innings, 60 RA (56 ER)

SP - Buehrle - 11-11, 4.06 ERA, 199 innings, 93 RA (87 ER)

SP - Danks - 10-10, 4.18 ERA, 185 innings, 84 RA (80 ER)

SP - Floyd - 10-11, 4.33 ERA, 183 innings, 93 RA (84 ER)

SP - Garcia - 5-6, 4.33 ERA, 88 innings, 42 RA (38 ER)

RP - Hudson - 4-5, 4.57 ERA, 76 innings, 42 RA (39 ER)

RP - Pena - 4-4, 4.00 ERA, 70 innings, 34 RA (31 ER)

RP - Torres - 3-4, 4.50 ERA, 58 innings, 34 RA (32 ER)

RP - Putz - 3-3, 3.74 ERA, 45 innings, 20 RA (18 ER)

RP - Linebrink - 3-3, 4.53 ERA, 56 innings, 29 RA (28 ER)

RP - Thorton - 4-3, 3.46 ERA, 69 innings, 26 RA (25 ER)

RP - Jenks - 3-2, 3.39 ERA, 54 innings, 23 RA (22 ER)

Total: 72-70, 3.90 ERA, 1245 innings, 580 RA (540 ER)

Pitching Conclusion: First, we're missing 213 innings for a full-season (162 x 9 assuming the standard nine innings, no extra-inning games and no losses on the road after the home team leads after eight), which really isn't that bad, actually (16 innings on average missing per pitcher). Second, the record means nothing. It's short of 162, of course, but W-L record is always a bit conservative. It's more of a baseline minimum.

A 3.90 ERA would have been 7th-best in the league in 2009. Coincidentally, the Sox were 7th-best last year as well with a 4.14 ERA. The modest improvement seems about right, actually when comparing each pitching staff with a chance to significantly lower it. The bullpen will determine that. The starting rotation (combining Garcia and Hudson to total six) has a 3.84 ERA. Pretty good and would have been 6th-best in baseball in 2009. Danks and Floyd seem a bit undervalued as I think one of them could easily have an ERA in the mid-3s.

Again, James doesn't include runs and earned runs so those numbers are skewed a bit. Allowing 580 runs last year would have been the best in baseball by a decent margin. They're not going to do that, most likely, but it does give you a good idea of where the Sox pitching staff sits on the grand spectrum of Major League pitching staffs (kinda).

Using the Pythagorean Wins Calculator, scoring 730 runs and allowing 580 runs make the Sox a 98-win team.

Um...no.

So...Let's assume the team pitches to a 3.90 ERA for those 213 missing innings. That's 92 more earned runs, leaving 632 total earned runs allowed. Using the same ratio of runs to earned runs provided in the combined projections (580/540), that's 730 total runs scored to 679 total runs allowed.

For a Pythagorean W-L record of 86-76.

I can absolutely see that happening provided everyone stays healthy and with a couple of guys breaking out of their projections a bit.

So that's my prediction for the Sox this season and I'm sticking to it even though Pythagorean Wins is an utterly basic calculator: 86-76.

It's certainly interesting to see some baseline statistics going into the season.

And should be useful to return to as the season progresses.

Or it could mean absolutely nothing.

Six of one, really.

I Can't Do This.....

Tried to sit through the Golden Globes last night and got to my Peter Griffin "DONE!" moment when they actually gave Drew Barrymore an award for acting. Really? She seems like a nice enough girl but an award? For her acting? Ok...
But I just find award shows grating and increasingly more difficult to watch. The fawning over themselves is embarrassing. And I have to watch just about every speech through my hands. Notice how they give the actors about twenty minutes to thank every goddamn person they've shared a bathroom with in the last 4 months but a writer or documentarian gets oh, about ten seconds before that sweeping pretentious bullshit music chimes in?**
If I ever win one of these things and they start the music I may just yell out a "Fuck you, this is my one chance! Secret deodorant can wait 5 seconds for their ad to run!"
Thank God for Ricky Gervais. Knocking these people down a peg is always good and while he wasn't fantastic, he did make me laugh at loud about 5 times for calling these awards essentially what they are: A farce. An excuse for Hollywood big shots to get together and schmooze. And drink.
BTW, I think Kevin Bacon was hammered. Or stoned.
And what was with the hat on the guy from "Dexter"?*** Is he going down to the pier to scour for House Boys in his creepy van after the show?
(UPDATE: OK, he has some sort of cancer. Sorry. Still looked creepy though...)


** Except when they cut off the guy who directed "Funny Games". I know it wasn't for that movie but he should be cut off from talking for the rest of his life for that arrogant piece of crap.

*** I have yet to see any of this show BTW....


Friday, January 15, 2010

Friday Isn't For Thinking

What a surprise. Once again, Rush Limbaugh has taken a terrible humanitarian situation, turned it into a political issue and used it as an excuse to make racist, ignorant statements about the situation. Only a true douche of the highest degree can somehow make something political out of a 7.0 earthquake that has killed 100,000 people. Does anyone really not believe this gigantic assbag doesn't like Black people? These are very similar to comments he made about New Orleans.
I know there are people (hell, I did at one time) who pull the whole "I don't agree with everything he says but..", but I think we're at a point now where listening to him just a little is dangerous for your mentality. This "I don't care whose toes I step on" grandiose pomposity from this jackass is getting old and desperate. He's a racist, hypocritical fuck full out of hot air and disdain.
Do you think Rush would have made these comments if the earthquake hit Sweden or Germany?
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Harry Reid played right into the hands of the Limbaugh crowd and needs to resign.
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Even though I've never been there, this Onion made me laugh as I've heard this about some places in Italy. It's our next big vacation BTW...Next year possibly.
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Hey, I'm no fan of the old school but I do tend to agree that we have raised a generation of gigantic pussies.
A football coach grabbing you and slapping you? Jesus that happened every ten minutes when I was in high school. Not all that long ago.
Now, they want apologies. You do realize that you play a sport where the basis of it is knocking the shit out of the guy in front of you in order to knock the shit out of the guy with the ball or the guy trying to get to the ball?
Look, I hate the macho bullshit as much as the next one but when you get Soccer Mom parents and lawyers involved I can only think of one word: Wuss.
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OK, so this is the lineup if it were up to me. I'm skeptical of Pierre but give him a shot with a short leash. I'm sure Ozzie will be calling me in a few weeks to get the ok...
Yep. That's Rios batting 8th.

1. Pierre LF
2. Beckham 2B

3. Quentin RF

4. Konerko DH
5. Ramirez SS

6. AJ C
7. Teahen 3B

8. Rios CF
9. Kotsay 1B


Rotation:
1. Peavy
2. Buehrle

3. Floyd

4. Danks

5. Garcia/Hudson


I'm starting to see a place for Teahan but I still have no idea why the Sox signed Jones but he may be a decent role player.
Christo, your thoughts please....

God, can we just get to March for God's sake?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Well, I Caved....

We all knew the minute we went to the shelter what was going to happen....

The wife has her white, fluffy dog now.

Seriously, I am happy with the decision. We have the time and space. Let's save a dog.

And this is it.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Mate's Musings

Apparently our partner, Mr. Snrub, over at SNC caused quite a stir in the nerd/loser/sad/pathetic/geek/dork/jackass/fat fuck crowd with his little snipe at some weird "Avatar" depression. I tried to respond but I didn't want them checking our site and mucking it up with their Klingon or whatever the devil these sci-fi dorks are into...We do talk about sports alot so that would probably be sufficient repellent but just being cautious.
And I still have no interest in seeing this movie.
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OK, so Al Davis was right about Lane Kiffin. The guy's an asshat. I guess I don't begrudge a guy for taking his "dream" job but this is not the first douchebaggy thing he's done since taking over Tennessee. In 14 MONTHS!
It takes a great deal of fuckbaggery to alienate so many people in so little time.
That said, Tennessee fans surrounding the football offices and burning mattresses and whatnot? Let's get some perspective, folks. It's a goddamn football coach.
How many rapes in Knoxville last year? Any angry mobs at the police station when they brought him in?
I don't normally play the "let's get some priorities" crap but people in the South are just...weird.
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Well, the wife has it in her heart to adopt a second dog. I'm on the fence. I also would like to get another dog eventually but the one we have is still a bit of a handful (although she's calmed down a TON in the last 3 months as she gets older) but am I really ready for this? Not just yet. I'm thinking Summer.
This all probably means I'll have another dog by this time next week....

(Update: My current dog just spent 10 minutes growling at a WRAPPER that was in our yard. Entertainment like that is hard to come by.)
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Another group of ads that are currently pissing me off: Jimmy John's (T of A Participant)
Taking actual horrifying events (car crash, bank hold up, etc.) that real people have been killed in and/or terrified while happening, and somehow making a sandwich commercial out of it is..well, pretty despicable. You know what's really funny, Jimmy John's? Home invasion. Carjacking. Babies dropped in dumpsters. Funny. Stuff.



I didn't really need a reason to not eat at Jimmy John's seeing as it's bland blandness is sufficient but these ads will cement it. I'll even eat at White Castle before it. I know..I know.
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Ok, you can rip me all you want but I kinda really want to see the Mel Gibson movie where he goes around killing people who killed his daughter. It could be awful but I'm a sucker for that kind of shit. Which means I need to see "Taken" ASAP...
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Pitchers and catchers in 35 days.....Keep....breathing.....

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

IOWA WON A BASKETBALL GAME!


Too bad nobody saw it.

8,021 my ass:



Maybe 3,000?

Hawks were down two with 3:57 left. One possession game with 24 seconds left.

To 4-14 Tennessee State.

I have no words.

Jay Leno: the 'Scrubs' of Late Night Television

Just when you thought banality and safe, middle of the road comedy was forever banished from late night television, we get the NBC wishy washiness that was so entertaining back when "the Late Shift" was read by Christo and Mate...in COLLEGE!!!

And, I really kind of thought that Leno had gotten over his childish attitudes (read "the Late Shift"..I know it's 18 years old but apparently, it doesn't change) but I think he may be the biggest narcissist in entertainment.

Now 60 year olds from Utah have a safe show to watch before they nod off..............


Conan O'Brien's statement:

People of Earth:

In the last few days, I’ve been getting a lot of sympathy calls, and I want to start by making it clear that no one should waste a second feeling sorry for me. For 17 years, I’ve been getting paid to do what I love most and, in a world with real problems, I’ve been absurdly lucky. That said, I’ve been suddenly put in a very public predicament and my bosses are demanding an immediate decision.

Six years ago, I signed a contract with NBC to take over The Tonight Show in June of 2009. Like a lot of us, I grew up watching Johnny Carson every night and the chance to one day sit in that chair has meant everything to me. I worked long and hard to get that opportunity, passed up far more lucrative offers, and since 2004 I have spent literally hundreds of hours thinking of ways to extend the franchise long into the future. It was my mistaken belief that, like my predecessor, I would have the benefit of some time and, just as important, some degree of ratings support from the prime-time schedule. Building a lasting audience at 11:30 is impossible without both.

But sadly, we were never given that chance. After only seven months, with my Tonight Show in its infancy, NBC has decided to react to their terrible difficulties in prime-time by making a change in their long-established late night schedule.

Last Thursday, NBC executives told me they intended to move the Tonight Show to 12:05 to accommodate the Jay Leno Show at 11:35. For 60 years the Tonight Show has aired immediately following the late local news. I sincerely believe that delaying the Tonight Show into the next day to accommodate another comedy program will seriously damage what I consider to be the greatest franchise in the history of broadcasting. The Tonight Show at 12:05 simply isn’t the Tonight Show. Also, if I accept this move I will be knocking the Late Night show, which I inherited from David Letterman and passed on to Jimmy Fallon, out of its long-held time slot. That would hurt the other NBC franchise that I love, and it would be unfair to Jimmy.

So it has come to this: I cannot express in words how much I enjoy hosting this program and what an enormous personal disappointment it is for me to consider losing it. My staff and I have worked unbelievably hard and we are very proud of our contribution to the legacy of The Tonight Show. But I cannot participate in what I honestly believe is its destruction. Some people will make the argument that with DVRs and the Internet a time slot doesn’t matter. But with the Tonight Show, I believe nothing could matter more.

There has been speculation about my going to another network but, to set the record straight, I currently have no other offer and honestly have no idea what happens next. My hope is that NBC and I can resolve this quickly so that my staff, crew, and I can do a show we can be proud of, for a company that values our work.

Have a great day and, for the record, I am truly sorry about my hair; it’s always been that way.



Grab Sherman and Mr. Peabody, We're Going Back


Fred Mitchell of the Chicago Tribune is reporting that Andre Dawson was offered an interesting proposition if he chooses to go into the Hall of Fame as a Cub:
What's at stake for Andre Dawson if the Hall of Fame decides to depict him wearing a Cubs cap instead of a Montreal Expos cap when he is inducted?

Besides many more thousands of marketing dollars, Dawson has been promised by the Cubs to have his No. 8 uniform number retired if he goes into the Hall of Fame as a Cub, a source close to Dawson said on Sunday...
Fred's source could be Rusty From Stickney for all I know but that reads like a bribe.

It's not out of the ordinary for teams to make such promises when it comes to the Hall. Just look to the rumors that circulated a decade ago over the "bonus" that Tampa Bay put in Wade Boggs' contract to go into the Hall as a Devil Ray for a more egregious example.

The Hall put a stop to such things in 2001, reserving the right to decide what cap a player wears on his plaque due in large part, according to some, to the Boggs/Devil Rays rumors.

That's not to say a player doesn't have any say. If a player makes a big enough stink, the Hall would capitulate, if only to avoid the PR nightmare. In the end, the player in effect has final say even if the Hall "reserves the right".

But all this talk brought me to baseball-reference.com to look over the 1987 baseball season once again. Some get off on getting lost in the world of Wikipedia, some get off on mixing vodka and Google at three in the morning.

I like to get lost in the world of baseball seasons and the endless boxscore world the site offers.

And every time it happens, I can almost hear the sound of my moped and smell the Mississippi. I watched a lot of baseball that year with no Pony League for Denny Donovan and I to play in and the USA Today sports section offered up a whole new world of baseball statistics to a 14 year-old in a small town in Iowa.

The following chronicles the exact progress of a two-hour session Sunday night through the lens of a more traditional statistical and award voting world that dominated my world at the time.

Recently, Dawson talked about what he would prefer and, while he talked about the MVP in '87 and playing in a bigger market, he paid more lip service to the fact that the Expos were the organization that he came up with and where he played for 11 seasons from ages 21 to 31.

That 1987 MVP. The MVP that caused a bit of a ruckus when it was awarded for the first time to a player on a last place team. Every year since, on the day the MVP is scheduled to be announced, Dawson's MVP is brought up as a sort of cautionary tale when thinking about guys that had spectacular years on bad teams.

If Dawson doesn't have a patently ridiculous offensive year in 1987, we're probably not even discussing this at all. Without that, Dawson is considered a very good player whose career is seen through the 'what if' goggles. What if his knees didn't give him so much trouble?

Twice with the Expos, Dawson finished second in the MVP voting, first in the strike-shortened season in 1981 losing to Mike Schmidt, a guy that had a 199 OPS+ that year and was well on his way to having the best year of his career (that's saying a lot). Dawson finished second again in 1983 in what was a down offensive year for the National League to Dale Murphy who, behind a 30/30 season, ran away with the award.

That '87 season. It's the one that kicked off with Al Campanis talking about blacks lacking the 'essentials' to manage. Ken Griffey, Jr. was selected first overall in the MLB Draft. Paul Molitor had a 39-game hitting streak. Don Mattingly homered in eight straight games. As a rookie, Mark McGwire hit 49 homers. Don Baylor broke the hit-by-pitch record. Mike Schmidt hit his 500th home run. The Tigers were the class of baseball, winning 98 games but the Twins, a team that finished 85-77 in the regular season, won the World Series over the Cardinals behind Dan Gladden and Kent Hrbek.

And in '87, Dawson won the MVP by a mildly comfortable margin of 76 votes, but garnered only 11 first-place votes to Ozzie Smith's nine. In my world, Jack Clark was robbed a bit that year by missing a few games in September to a shoulder injury - if I recall correctly - but still hit .286/.459/.597 for a 1.055 OPS, walking 136 times in 131 games with 35 HRs and 106 RBI.

Without him, the Cardinals don't hold off the Mets and Expos in the NL East with such a light-hitting lineup in a high power year.

Remember. This was the year that the ball was "juiced". It's funny reading that now but power numbers were looked at, for the first real time, through suspicious eyes. 4,458 home runs were hit in '87 with no year really getting close to even 4,000 before that. And speaking of Wade Boggs, he hit 24 that year (and OPSed over 1.000), never hitting more than 11 before or since.

Taking out Dawson's '87 year from his six seasons with the Cubs, he averaged 143 games, hitting .284/.327/.493 for a .819 OPS (124 OPS+), 25 doubles, 25 home runs and 90 RBI. Meh.

That doesn't take away anything from Dawson ridiculous campaign, even if it was seen as a juiced-ball year and even if he fell just short of a .900 OPS (something that 19 players that received MVP votes in both leagues managed to do in '87). One could also see 1987 as the first real year that defense broke into the mainstream as a valuable commodity. Ozzie Smith gave Dawson a run at the MVP while hitting .303/.392/.383, stealing 43 bases in a year that Vince Coleman stole 109 and didn't reach the 200-hit plateau. Seemed like the writers were giving a big middle finger to the artificial feeling of the season.

One misconception existed about the 1987 Cubs, though. This wasn't a bad baseball team. Not relatively anyway. MVP on a last-place team?

They finished 76-85 but were three games over .500 as late as September 1. 76-85 would have been good enough for third place in a comparatively-weak NL West and they were in first place for the better part of the first two months of the year. A 10-22 record after September 1 made it look much worse than it actually was. Rick Sutcliffe (18-10, 3.68 ERA) finished second in the NL Cy Young voting, losing to Steve Bedrosian by two votes, a guy that closed for a Phillies team that also finished below .500.

A young Greg Maddux struggled in his rookie year in '87. Another young whipper-snapper showed potential, collecting 61 of what would end up being 3020 entirely-suspect career hits. Rafael Palmeiro. A future GM of the Cubs, Ed Lynch, crapped all over the field as a swing man out of the pen. Lee Smith lost 10 games as the closer. Keith Moreland played his first full year at third base and managed to boot 28 balls (for comparison, no third baseman not named Mark Reynolds has accomplished that feat in the last five years and he only did it once). They weren't good since they were still trying to hang onto the glory of '84 with Dernier, Matthews, Durhum and Davis still clunking around but they weren't the abomination that history has judged them to be.

In fact, on September 1, the Cubs weren't in last place. The Pirates were by a fairly large margin, led by a trio of youngsters: Bobby Bonilla, (traded from the White Sox by Harrelson the year before for Jose DeLeon), Andy Van Slyke, Barry Bonds and my favorite player on that team, the diminutive catcher, Mike LaValliere.

It began to fall apart for the Cubs the next day, though. Mike Scott threw a gem in Houston and Sutcliffe gave up two home runs to Kevin Bass to seal the deal. Three days later, Ed Lynch gave up three home runs in a spot start, one to a skinny, dorky-looking Reds rookie right fielder named Paul O'Neill, losing 10-5.

The cellar-dwelling Pirates were coming into town to cure the Cubs' ills on Monday to start a three-game series, though. It didn't turn out that way as the Pirates swept the Cubs with a paid attendance of 8,054 watching the Cubs drop the last game of the series. How times have changed.

Pittsburgh went 20-10 to finish out the season and dropped the Cubs to last place in the division. In fact, the Pirates played the best baseball in the National League after September 1 that year.

I say only the National League because across town, the White Sox were capping off a season where they finished one game better than the Cubs at 77-85, finishing eight games behind the Twins in a terrible AL West.

But nobody in baseball played better than the White Sox after September 1, finishing 22-9.

Dave LaPoint went 4-0 in six starts in the last month of the season with a 1.17 ERA including a complete game, one-run effort on the second-to-last day as the Sox beat the A's, 17-1. Gary Redus drove in five with Baines and Manrique combining for seven hits (two triples), all in front of 12,747 on fan appreciation weekend.

Floyd Bannister was even better, going 6-1 with a 1.34 ERA, only out-dueled by Mark Langston on a Friday night, 1-0, on the South Side as each threw complete games. Bannister's only run was unearned, due to an error by Pat Keedy filling in for the injured Tim Hulett. That outing was squeezed between three consecutive, complete-game starts where Bannister gave up a combined two earned runs (0.66 ERA). He also out-pitched Dave Stewart on the last day of the season, a guy whose '87 season was the beginning of a run of four consecutive 20-win seasons, something that was never accomplished by the pitcher of the era, Roger Clemens. That game was also the last one for Ron Hassey ("Hassey has AIDS!") in a White Sox uniform. He hit a homer off Stewart in the second.

The White Sox first-round draft pick (#5) that year, Jack McDowell (the Cubs drafted one spot ahead of the Sox in '87, taking Mike Harkey) saw action as a September call-up after starting only 10 games in the minors, going 3-0 with a 1.93 ERA.

A young Bobby Thigpen was handed the closing duties on a full-time basis over Bob James, saving 16 and a young catcher with a rocket arm, Ron Karkovice, saw limited action, hitting .071 in 95 plate appearances for a minus 20 OPS+ (I didn't know that was possible).

It was clear, though, that the Sox needed to make some changes, so GM Larry Himes (the guy that drafted McDowell, Ventura, Frank and Alex Fernandez yet traded Baines along with a ton of other suspect moves) shepherded in the era of Dan Pasqua, Dave Gallagher and Melido Perez (traded to the Royals for Floyd Bannister). They went 71-90.

But getting back to Dawson. Aside from Clark's injury, only Dale Murphy challenged Dawson in the gaudy statistic arena, hitting .295/.417/.580 with 44 home runs and 115 walks. He finished 11th with no first-place notes. But the AL was a different story. McGwire equalled Dawson's 49 home runs but only finished 6th (and as I write this, the AP is reporting that McGwire finally admitted to taking steroids and HGH for 10 years. More on this later, I'm sure).

It was a two-man race between George Bell and Alan Trammell, a guy who hit .343 with 28 homers on a team that won 98 games. Bell won it, though (332-311), hitting .308 with 47 home runs on a team that finished only two games behind Detroit. That Blue Jay team was led by Bell but also had a young Cecil Fielder on it along with one of my favorite players, Rance Mulliniks.

One active player still remains from the '87 season. Jamie Moyer went 12-15 in his second year with the Cubs.

I can still hear my moped.

Reeeeeeeeeee...

Dawson still may be the definition of a borderline candidate for the Hall of Fame in my world. One great season doesn't jettison anyone into the world of "fame," a word including in the title of the institution. It was a great season though, even if 'juiced-ball' is the first adjective used for the season, even before Twins Magic.

I find it odd that the Cubs seem to think Dawson's number is worthy of retiring now as opposed to any other time during the last 17 years that Dawson's been away from Wrigley but whatever.

It's what teams do.

Mostly, as I said in a previous post, Hall of Fame discussions kick off the baseball season in my world and lead to such internet linkage digressions. It's the first real salvo from the upcoming baseball season. Rosters are close to being set. Countdowns to Spring Training begin. Sabermetric projections start to trickle out. I begin to think about doing one of 500 fantasy baseball mock drafts.

Good to have you back, my old friend.

I Am the Walrus Goo-Goo-G'Jub

Lost in the Hawkeye bowl win, the ever increasing craptastic parade that is the Iowa basketball team and my trip to DC amongst everything else (my abandoning of interest in the Chiefs by Week 9. Judge me a bad fan all you want, but you sit through 4-12, 2-14 and 4-12 three years in a row and get back to me on how much of that shit you can suffer through), I almost forgot to notice that Charlie Weis will play Fat Man to Todd Haley's Jake and has taken over the offensive coordinator position for Kansas City.
Will the Chiefs have a "Schematic advantage" over everyone else?**

Actually this is a pretty good move. Weis is an arrogant ass and not a very good head coach but he's a pretty good offensive mind. BUT NFL teams all, essentially, run the same offense. With the exception of Mike Martz's razzle dazzle NFL form of the spread, it's the same 200 plays just called something different. It's about play calling and execution. It also helps to have Tom Brady at quarterback along with the New England talent level. The Chiefs are a long ass way from that.

BTW, Chiefs play in Cleveland in 2010. Let's hope it's early in the year before Christo and Mate's interest wanes. Like Week 4.

2010 Chiefs Opponents:***

Home: Denver Broncos, Oakland Raiders, San Diego Chargers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans, Buffalo Bills, Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers
Away: Denver Broncos, Oakland Raiders, San Diego Chargers, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Cleveland Browns, St. Louis Rams, Seattle Seahawks

**(Remember when he said that? Remember? I can officially write for ESPN.com now!)

*** (In case you're wondering about Browns, Bears and whatever here's the link to next year's opponents)

Monday, January 11, 2010

DC Trip Review

Due to a job I once had I got to go to pretty much every major city in the US at some point. I didn't always have time to see the sites when I was there but I was present in the city at the very least and could check it off my list. And i usually saw enough of it to get the gist. For example, I spent 2 days in New Orleans and didn't see Bourbon Street but saw enough of it to know it's a nice place to visit but i couldn't live there if you gave me free cable for life.
But there were two cities i never got to go to: Las Vegas and DC.
One of them is now in the books. The wife and I took a road trip to the nation's capital to visit a friend and get the hell out of Chicago for a week.

The drive: Took the long route there through Indianapolis and eastern Ohio into Maryland. (BTW, southeastern Ohio/Northern West Virginia? Whoah.) Despite meeting the surliest gas station attendant in history and me taking a dump in a toilet that I only realized afterwards didn't fucking flush it was a mild mistake. First, it adds an hour and a half to the trip and once you hit the scenic parts it's fucking dark and slightly terrifying. Driving through the Blue Ridge Mountains at night and in the winter is not something I would recommend. If you're going to do that drive do it in the summer when it doesn't get dark at 5.
All in all it took about 14 hours and we only got into 5 fights. So, small victories. Seriously, I love my wife to death but her in a car is only slightly less irritating than jock itch.

DC: My general thoughts on the city are good. Clean, pretty, historic. But getting around? Jesus. Everything's on a diagonal and if you're prone to motion sickness don't live there. Circle after circle. Cripes. Eaaaasy stomach.

When I get to a city for the first time i like to do touristy shit first and that's what we did. Our friend works for the Treasury Department and she got us a behind the scenes tour. Sounds extremely boring but it's actually pretty cool. I'm such a nerd that I actually recognized the names of a good number of the paintings in the hallway. Don Regan? Yep. John Connolly? Yep.
People were amazed. Apparently reading a book now and then gets you an express trip to the head of the line on tours now....
Actually got to sit in the room where all the TARP bullshit was hashed out. I had to take an alcohol bath after that.

The next day was my nerd/Civil War stuff.

Ford's Theater- I've been wanting to visit this since I was a kid. Yes. I know. Nerd alert. But the assassination of Lincoln has always fascinated me. If it does you as well I highly recommend these books. Anyway, i expected it to be a "Yep. That's where it happened. Cool. I saw it. Let's go to Lunch." type of thing but it wasn't. The museum is fantastic. It takes an hour or two to go through the whole thing. It's an amazing place to see and alot of people don't really realize the significance of what happened there. See it once.
The boarding house across the street where he died is not much but you might as well see it as it takes about 10 minutes and it is historically significant.

Smithsonian Museum of American History - So you have about 4 Smithsonians you can choose from. If you only have limited time you have to pick one so we picked this one. Well, I picked it.
It was cool but a tad disappointing as I was expecting more of the cool, pop culture stuff. But alot of it was down due to some "Christmas Through the Ages" display. Yawn.
Did get to see C-3PO and Julia Child's kitchen and the Lincoln exhibit was fantastic.
A really good exhibit on First Ladies was there, too. Sounds dull I know but....

Newseum- This is where "This Week" is taped. A fairly new museum about news. Duh. I was skeptical but found myself loving it. I highly recommend checking it out and I also highly recommend not getting there an hour before closing like we did, which limited us. A Pulitzer Prize Photography exhibit was mesmerizing while it also has a 9/11 section with papers from all over the world. I didn't get a chance to see the historical section (500 headlines from historic events) that I really wanted to get to but we did get to see Tim Russert's office. It was an office. I liked Russert and all but his office? Meh.

We did the other stuff: the Lincoln Memorial, the Vietnam, etc. I really think the world War II Memorial is fantastic but it was fucking cold when we got there so our time was limited. But really well made.
The best memorial is the Korean War. I don't think this was there when Christo went. I hate to use "moving" to describe statues but it really is.

On a side note we discovered some really nice Virginia wine while there. This one in particular got my attention. Nothing earth shattering but a really excellent Zinfandel for 12 bucks.

Negative things: Not too many. Lots of chain bars like Bar Louie and that ilk. No biggie as I hate bars anymore anyway.
One BIG thing that annoyed me though. Fucking Blackberries. Good God. Everybody in this town has one of these fucking electronic leashes. (thank you, George Carlin). I got ran into about 20 times by people walking down the street while reading their "very" important e-mails. Christ. I was going to chuck the next one I saw into the Potomac.

Anyway, there's my Cliff Notes version of my trip. The minute I got back to Romeoville I wanted to leave again. Good place to be.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Friday Fatuousness


Andre Dawson is a Hall of Famer

I don't care, really.

Every year about this time, I enjoy the debate because it's the first serious baseball discussion of the season, a time when everybody gets filled up with fiery fieriness about the sport that brings me immense joy.

I used to care. And I probably will again in a fit of rage next year when Jack Morris and Barry Larkin get closer to receiving the requisite number of votes to get in.

I enjoy the HOF arguments with people debating that somewhat indefinable region of retired baseball players that fall between "the Best of the Best" and "the Hall Of The Merely Good." Mostly because it's a fantastic barometer on whether someone possesses a smart baseball mind or is an unmitigated idiot (I'm looking at you, Heyman). As each year passes, though, I care less.

I'd like to know who the fuck voted for David Segui but whatever.

Consider this, though. Here are the active (-ish) players with an adjusted OPS similar to Andre Dawson (within two points on each side of Dawson's career 120 OPS+):

Justin Morneau, Troy Glaus, Derek Jeter, Victor Martinez, Richie Sexson, Carlos Beltran, Cliff Floyd, Luis Gonzalez, Matt Stairs, Ichiro Suzuki and Mike Sweeney.

I count two juicers, two guys that will get in for doing things that OPS doesn't fully recognize, two guys that are too young to judge effectively, a bunch of other merely good players and Matt Stairs.

I get it. The steroid era has killed the integrity of statistics. And, in many ways, the Hall Of Fame should be something that celebrates the game itself, the joy of watching it, the chronicling of the storylines, characters and atmosphere of the game and something documents the essence of each particular era.

I liked Dawson. And even though I loathed the Cubs growing up, I had to watch them because they were the team of choice in our house. Dawson was the one Cub I liked (with Luis Salazar). I was 14 when he won the MVP in '87, a very impressionable baseball watching age for me (right after the '86 Angels collapse).

But I'll add to the clever titles used by bloggy-types for Dawson. He is in my Hall Of Fame For Guys That Deserve To Be In The Discussion If, For Nothing Else, To Find A Dividing Line.

That's it.


"Jay is one of the most compelling entertainers in the world." - NBC Press Release

This decision was made last year.

When NBC thought something like a 9pm variety show starring Jay Leno would work and put a $50 million bonus in Leno's contract if they dump him, Conan's fate was sealed.

And with Comcast taking over NBC, there was no way in hell that were going to drop $50 million down the toilet to begin their tenure.

So we can dispense with this shocked anger over this. The writing was on the wall that this kind of thing was going to happen one year ago.

I feel terrible for Conan but he had to see this coming. From everything I've read about Peter Lassally over the years, he wouldn't have let this happen in the first place. It doesn't seem Conan surrounded himself with Lassally-types. And it seems Conan set himself up to get fucked by fuckers who have been fuckers for the longest fucking time in the history of history.

Conan had little choice but he's well on his way to becoming a cautionary tale. He trusted a group of guys that had five years to come up with a plan to re-inject the guy they loved into the scheme.

How does anybody put a scintilla of trust into the hands of guys that call Jay Leno "one of the most compelling entertainers in the world"?


This Might Suck, But It Also Might Be Brilliant

Planet Green, the upstart cable channel that launched just last year under the auspices of bringing environmentally-friendly living into the Joe Six Pack's household, might have done something quite special.

They bought a Channel Four documentary that was shown in Britain last year where Heston Blumenthal of Fat Duck fame takes on the task of rescuing the Little Chef roadside restaurant franchise, a sort of Howard Johnson's for the UK lot.

Only one episode has been shown so far (Wednesdays, 7pm), but this might be genius and the producers had to be salivate at the clash of cultures that would most likely ensue.

Blumenthal's Fat Duck is in the top-5 of most lists of the best restaurants in the world, number one on a few. Little Chef is, or was, a bit of an institution in Britain. For 50 years, they've slinged the most basic hash to the masses in prodigious quantities but very little quality.

So Little Chef employs Blumenthal to revamp their menu to bring back the masses. The result is a case study in presumptuousness from so many angles it becomes dizzying.

To wit: when Little Chef's CEO wants the menu to get back to the iconic and traditional British dishes that made the restaurant famous, Blumenthal thinks using 12th century practice of cooking ham on hay is getting back to tradition. Or putting oysters in a Lancashire hot pot will and should win over British truck drivers merely looking for fuel.

With the recent profusion of gourmet food/restaurant/food and restaurant revamping reality shows, this one might get to the real crux of the difficulty in "changing the way people eat."

It's not just the fact that too many people don't give a shit where their food comes from or that they're eating lard and lard with a side of lard. It's also the fact that the people heading the charge in changing how we eat are too detached from how "regular" people view food.

Blumenthal comes off as the boob here. He's the one who comes off as arrogant and pretentious, painting himself as a guy who knows 'the people' when it's clear he doesn't.

The entire thing may be genius, if only to see the real problem with changing the way people eat as a more much complex web where both sides of the fence need to face the reality that each simply doesn't speak the other's language. It seems almost shocking to some on the haute cuisine side of the fence that a guy who works construction doesn't care about their fucking foams.

I'm in. Fat Duck has been a goal of ours in the Ney household. After seeing the beginning of this documentary, I don't know now. I'm afraid he might tell me I'm simply wrong if I don't enjoy his red cabbage gazpacho.


Inter Alia

* Larry King mistakes Roman Polanski for Charles Manson. You go, Larry. Go out your way.

* If you have any interest in the oh-so-scintillating subject of the history of maps, The Fourth Part Of The World is a great read. A very specific audience, I know.

* I'm in the midst of reading Craig Ferguson's American On Purpose. Awesome. Just really great.

* In former Hawk news, Bobby (now Bob) Diaco is the new defensive coordinator at Notre Dame. Odd choice. Notre Dame linebackers already know how to make tackles ten yards in the defensive backfield. Ba-Zing!

And Tyler Smith is officially dismissed from the Tennessee basketball team for drug/weapons charges.

No Paul Lusk updates that I know of.