Thursday, May 31, 2007

Baylor's Incredible Athletic Accomplishments

It's no secret Baylor sports stink. In fact, there's a blog devoted to pretty much that exact concept. And I'm hardly a big Baylor fan, but I do go to the occasional sporting event here and cheer on the Bears as an alternative to cheering for LSU.

So I'd like to give a shout out to the Baylor women's softball team, which is in the Women's College World Series (after winning the Big 12 title as well). It's pretty rare for a Baylor team to do so well, and even more rare to be able to catch the games on ESPN. At 8 PM, the Bears play Arizona in their opening game of the series. You can even watch it in HD.

Go Bears.

Oh yeah, and thank God for Title IX, eh? The Baylor men really aren't pulling their weight.

Baseball Fandom Update

My Emergency Backup NL Team, the Arizona Diamondbacks, had a good day. Actually, the (second place!) Orioles have been having good days* since they are playing the Royals, but the D-backs good days are even better.

First, they signed last year’s #1 pick, Max Scherzer, exactly one minute before the deadline at which they would have lost rights to him. OK, they caved to evil superagent Scott Boras, but having the stud pitching prospect sure beats not having the stud pitching prospect.

Secondly, last night’s pitching matchup was the oldest in MLB history. Randy Johnson (43) beat his elder, Jamie Moyer (44). Combined age: 87 years old. Result: D-backs win and extend their winning streak to seven games. Number of Metamucil jokes cracked: infinite.

Finally, Chad Tracy comes off the DL this weekl. Good time to be a D-backs fan. Jump on the bandwagon! And, it’s almost not depressing to be an O’s fan this week!

*The Yankees are having bad days, and sit in last place in the AL East. Excuse me while I laugh with maniacal glee.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Pole Vaulting Jail Bait

Let’s see if I get this timeline right.

With Leather, a sports blog, posts pictures* along with some snarky commentary of high school pole vaulter and Olympic hopeful Allsion Stokke. The Stokke's lawyer contacts the blog and demands they take the photo down. They comply. The Stokkes talk a big game about respecting their privacy.

The next day, they give interviews to both The Washington Post and FOX News (on TV, no link). The original photographer responds by giving With Leather written permission to post the pictures. With Leather enthusiastically resposts the offending pictures, which really are nothing more than a high school girl pole vaulting.

Um, let’s try and pinpoint exactly where the Stokkes went from sympathetic victims of drooling computer geeks to publicity whores. Go. It's moments like that make the internet worthwhile. It's so meta, it makes my head hurt.

*Ed Note – I was going to post the pictures here, but I really don’t feel like getting sued. The Stokkes seems to be fans of suing people. So you have to click the link.

Damned If You Do

Over at Lee's blog, he was criticizing pop stars who use their celebrity to promote various social causes. And while I agree that there's nothing more annoying than being lectured on, say, animal rights by Celine Dion, I do believe it's an unfair double standard. If an artist decides to be politically active, they are a pretentious gasbag. but if they just selfishly use their celebrity to acquire more drugs, fame, and wealth... well, then they are still a pretty rotten person. It's a Catch-22.

So what's wrong with someone using their celebrity to do something other than take up space? Sure, no one is really sticking their neck out by saying "We like the environment!" but I'm not asking for AFI to have a complex opinion on forgiving African debt. But if they want to raise money for the environment, what's wrong with that? And like, Lee points out, we can always turn them off. It works the same way with their political beliefs. I don't have to listen. But whether you are the Dixie Chicks or Ted Nugent, I actually prefer my artists to have something to say. Or else what's the point of art if it's just a way to sell more albums? Say something. Even if I disagree with it.

On the environment, I do prefer bands who put their money where their mouth is. Dave Matthews Band, the Rolling Stones, Radiohead, Guster, Ray LaMontagne, Barenaked Ladies, R.E.M., the Indigo Girls, Jack Johnson, and Bon Jovi are among the artists who have attempted to make their tours more eco-friendly by not wasting energy, planting trees, and offsetting their energy use to make a smaller impact. The Warped Tour is an eco-friendly punk tour. I'd much prefer bands actually DO something than give me a lecture. These bands have.

By the way, the shot about none of these bands leaving LA was a cheap shot. Most of those bands are not from LA. Since I'm a huge Police fan, I'll point out that there's only one American in the band, Stewart Copeland. And his dad was a CIA agent causing him to grow up in places like London and Cairo. They have as much to do with LA as I do.

Look, I honestly don't care about the cause du jour. I tried to make bumperstickers in high school which stated, "FUCK TIBET". Not that I want Tibet crushed by China, it's just that I honestly don't care all that much. But the Tibetan Freedom Concert was a pretty awesome show (until someone got struck by lightning).

On balance, I'd rather have my celebrities be pretentious gasbags than narcissistic fame sponges.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Pirates One Word Review: Interminable

As we have learned this year, holding your pee can kill you. I started thinking about this somewhere around the 150 minute mark of Pirates of the Caribbean and I realized I had made the mistake of ordering a large Diet Coke.

If I were to drop dead right now, could my estate sue Jerry Bruckenheimer? Because I couldn't feel my legs at that point. And my body was already weakened by the 140 minute runtime of Spiderman 3. Seriously, can't people just get to the point?

We're talking about a movie designed so the average third grader can competently fall along. There's no earthly reason the film should crack 2 hours. Hell, it's hard to justify a runtime of over 100 minutes. There's only so long I can be distracted by visual effects before I realize that the movie I'm watching sucks.

OK, if you're making The Godfather or your name is Martin Scorcese, take all the time you want. I'll sit through your two hours plus movie, and probably even enjoy it. But if the movie you've made is simply a vehicle to sell Happy Meals, I'm gonna have to ask that you tighten things up and quicken the pace. There is no earthly reason for that movie to last so long that I think I could actually perceive myself aging during it. When I stepped out of the theatre, I half expected to have missed a week of class. I thought maybe I had blacked out.

I hadn't. Instead, my ass had fallen asleep. The real trouble is, now I know it will be up all night.

Games You Don't Care About

I was so happy Hopkins beat Duke for the lacrosse title that I spent way to much money at Best Buy in celebration. I need help.

Special Edition of The Great Escape? Suh-weet.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Traitors In Red

Is there any place better than a ballpark? We went to two games this weekend, and got to enjoy the Ballpark at Arlington as it became a virtual Fenway South. When Red Sox fans outnumber Oriole fans in Camden Yards, I understand. Boston's not that far away, and it makes a nice day trip. But Arlington?

OK, it turned out that many of those Red Sox fans were not Bostonians making a trip deep in the heart of Texas, but instead native Texans who refuse to root for the home team. We have traitors in our midst. Or, more accurately, you have traitors in your midst. I'm not a Texan, as Matt and Leigh are fond of pointing out. Marylanders might have a problem defending the home turf from the Red Sox Nation, but we at least do not have a problem with turncoats.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Bloggy Goodness Goes Away

One of the greatest baseball blogs on the internets, Bat-Girl, is closing her doors. I'm not a Twins fan, but she made me wish I was one. Her Lego re-enactments of key games (and the Congressional steroid hearings) were simply genius. As was the Boyfriend of the Day. Most of all, she was funny on a consistent basis.

I know how hard that is. I only acheive funny about once a week. And I don't even have a running joke like she does.*

Ed. note - Not true. I've been running this footnote joke into the ground for a year.

George Lucas Made A Movie

This blog is pretty much a testament to my inner dork. I don't think I'm ever going to have prove my geek bona fides to anyone who has spent ten minutes trolling the archives. And I'm okay with that, as I've embraced my inner geek. So forgive me, my fellow dorks, when I say this:

Star Wars is turning 30 and I don't care.


I've never really understood the big Star Wars fetish everyone seems to have. I mean, I had the action figures as a kid (my dad apparently camped out to get us the Death Star). And I've seen all the movies, even the prequels, which were painfully bad. The movies are fun and I like them and all, but I just don't buy into the mythology around the movie. It's just never been that big of a deal. And by the way, the dialogue in those movies is painfully bad. George Lucas should not be allowed to write dialogue. Ever.

I think the problem is that Star Wars geekiness is somehow more socially acceptable. Trekkies know they are dorks, so they kind of keep to themselves. Once you start getting to the Sci Fi fringe, like Doctor Who fans (yes, I know they are called Whovians... I told you, I'm a dork), they are even less obtrusive. But Star Wars fans expect the rest of us to care. They expect the rest of us to be just as obsessive over all of this crap. Hey, it was a nice movie, but I just don't have anything emotionally invested in Boba Fett.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to watch some Battlestar Gallactica.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Perhaps A Nice Game of Chess Instead

There is nothing in the world that can remind you exactly how out of shape you are more than a game of soccer. I feel like I got run over by a truck. OK, maybe a small truck. But I have sore muscles I didn't even know I had.

A good game, though. A few saves, scored two goals, and at the end of the day, I didn't have to go the hospital. That's a victory right there.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Gertrude Stein Says That's Enough

Unlike a lot of indie rock snobs, I love it when some obscure band makes the big time. This isn’t to say I’m not a music snob, I most certainly am, but I part company with my snooty brethren when it comes to wishing that your favorite band stays obscure. I like being in on the secret first, whether it was Green Day or Death Cab For Cutie. And I like watching movies or TV and being able to recognize the background music. Hey! That’s the Black Keys on the Victoria’s Secret ad! Scorcese’s opening up The Departed with the Dropkick Murphys!

I admit some bands are meant to stay obscure. No one is going to rush out and buy the incoherent screaming of the Blood Brothers. I like it, but I can’t see them on MTV. But other bands seem like they are just waiting for their big break. Fountains of Wayne was like that for years, until “Stacy’s Mom” sold five kajillion copies.

Which brings me to Idlewild. Idlewild is one of my favorite bands, and they’ve always been on the cusp of mainstream acceptance. A long time ago, they were the punk band you could get your non-punk friends to listen to. The lyrics were clever, they actually had some hooks, and their lead singer sounded like the Scottish REM. Heck, they even had some slow songs.

They got signed to a major label. Their album charted. OK, it wasn’t top ten or anything, but it was selling. Their sound mellowed a bit and they became more of a rock band. Their songs showed up on movie soundtracks and video games. A Scottish music mag named them the #3 Scottish band in rock history, behind Belle & Sebastian and Travis. That and a dollar will get you a cup of coffee. Idlewild never quite broke through, while bands like Snow Patrol did. Last year, they got dumped from their label.

This year, they returned to their indie roots and put out a new album. I got it the day it came out. And… it’s over. The album doesn’t suck, but it’s not great. They’ve been putting out albums for 10 years, and it’s time to accept they are not the Next Big Thing. So the third greatest band in Scottish rock history continues to struggle in obscurity. Oh well.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Where Is the Bridge?

Braveheart was on TV this weekend, so of course I watched it. Now, I think it’s a pretty enjoyable movie despite its glaring historical inaccuracies. My personal favorite is that the Battle of Stirling Bridge doesn’t have a bridge in it. I’m not asking for the world here, but the bridge is pretty important. It’s like having the Invasion of Normandy without the beach landing.

Anyway, something has always bothered me about the movie (other than the lack of Stirling Bridge). OK, according to the movie, William Wallace had a torrid love affair with the Queen of England (and sired the future English kings, my second favorite historical inaccuracy of the movie). Edward the Longshanks’s son is a ninny, and even his wife accurately points out that when Edward dies, she will be the real ruler of England. Given all of that, why does William insist on continuing his guerrilla war?* Seriously, just wait for Edward to die. Then his paramour takes the throne and grants Scotland its freedom. He can’t negotiate Scottish freedom from his own lover?

But no, he has to keep up the war and instead he gets disemboweled. Let that be a lesson kids. Sometimes, it’s good to negotiate.

*Ed. Note - Incidentally, this was kind of the plan in real life. Once Edward I died, his son took the throne. His portrayal in Braveheart is unfortunately quite accurate. Given Edward II's rather predictable weakness after his father's death, Robert Bruce attacked him pretty much right away to earn Scottish independence. Wait until the moron takes power. Why fight a war against a smart, capable guy when his successor looks to be a total incompetent?

Another real-life tidbit. Queen Isabella would have an affair, only with an English Baron named Roger Mortimer (not William Wallace). They lead an insurrection and murdered Edward II, placing her child on the throne. Edward III, once he came of age, wised up, executed Mortimer, exiled his mother to France, and ruled England for fifty years during an era marred by the Hundred Years War and the Bubonic Plague.

Friday, May 18, 2007

The C-Word

I was talking to my mom last night about whether she was going to my cousin BJ’s wedding (Yes, I have a cousin named BJ. He’s heard the jokes). Anyway, my mom said she was going to go without her husband, prompting me to ask why. To which my mom replied, “Oh, Dave has a little bit of prostate cancer and he’ll be getting radiation treatment that weekend.”

A little bit? Who the hell who has ever heard of a little bit of cancer? And who drops “my husband has cancer” thirty minutes into a conversation? My mom, the first person to ever be blasé about cancer. Apparently, he was diagnosed over a week ago, but my mom didn’t feel like bringing it up until we were trying to co-ordinate travel plans.

I know me and Dave have never been all that close, but I’m not such an asshole that I wouldn’t care that he has cancer. Say a prayer for him. He’s supposed to be just fine and my mom says he isn’t tired or anything, just irritated he has to go to the doctor again. It’s about the only thing we have in common: hatred of doctors.

Thursday, May 17, 2007


Osler made fun of me over at the Razor today by imitating one of my posts. Now, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so I am of course quite flattered. Though I would like to clear up on baseless fact in his post: I do not own a TiVo.

This is a sore spot for me as you might imagine. It’s not that I wouldn’t watch a game four and a half times (though never a Pistons game, I’m not a masochist), it’s that I can’t. Feel free to buy me TiVo. Even my brother owns a TiVo, and he doesn’t even have cable. Which may be the greatest waste of a TiVo in the world. When I stayed with him for a few weeks over the summer, I saw that he had a TiVo, so I went through the saved programs to see if there was anything good to watch.

Aside from his fiancee’s obsession with So You Think You Can Dance?, every program was either the news or some documentary from PBS. Seriously, who TiVo’s the evening news? It’s a program with a fairly short shelf life.

And you thought I was boring. I come from a whole family of boring people.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

An Open Letter

Dear Random Guy In Treff's Bathroom,

I know no one likes the trough. It's far too communal at a time I think we would all agree we'd like a little bit of privacy. So I understand your discomfort. However, this does not mean you should drop your pants and pee in the sink. I was going to wash my hands there. You could have at least run the water.


Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Suspending Amare Stoudamire

OK, I’ve been talking about sports a lot recently, but I’m a big sports fan and I just can’t help it. And I had promised myself to not post about sports for awhile, but I’m getting sucked in by the Suns-Spurs incident at the end of Game four and the potential for suspensions. Here’s the video:

At about 3:30 on that video, Amare Stoudemire steps on the court which immediately implicates Rule 12, Section VII
c. During an altercation, all players not participating in the game must remain in the immediate vicinity of their bench. Violators will be suspended, without pay, for a minimum of one game and fined up to $35,000. The suspensions will commence prior to the start of their next game. (rest of rule omitted)

Note that this rule is strict liability: violators “will be” suspended. Not “may be”. Let’s break this down to the elements:

- During an altercation
- A player
- Who is not participating in the game
- Must remain in the “immediate vicinity” of the bench

Which has led to all sorts of speculation that Amare Stoudamire is going to get suspended for Game 5 along with Boris Diaw, which would practically hand the game and the series to the Spurs. It seems the league can make out the prima facie case against Stoudamire. The Suns have moved into action right away to try and prevent the suspensions. So far, here are their arguments and potential arguments:

1. Stoudamire was just checking in the game
2. There was no “altercation” so the rule does not apply
3. Stoudamire never left the “immediate vicinity of their bench”
4. Applying this rule in this circumstance violates the intent of the rule
5. The NBA has refused to apply this rule before, so it is not a strict liability rule
6. The league has already refused to suspend Bowen for dirty play, so they should be just as lenient with the Suns and not issue suspensions
7. Duncan charged the court earlier in the game, so he should be suspended as well.

Let’s go through these arguments:

This seems to attack element three. Hey, Stoudamire was “participating in the game”! He had already checked in at the scorer’s table, there was a whistle, and he was now going onto the court as he is entitled to do under the rules of substitution. Actually, he isn’t as the rules state in Rule 12, Section III
b. A substitute shall not enter onto the court until he is beckoned by an official.

Stoudamire was not beckoned by an official. Besides, no one honestly believes Stoudamire was enthusiastically checking into the game. It’s an unbelievable argument that I like in its sheer brazen audacity. It’s not even a good lie, but it’s the one they had within two minutes. Credit their PR staff for putting something together on the fly. Those guys deserve a raise.

This has been the Suns official argument in the day after. Watch the foul again. There’s some pushing and shoving, but there is never anything anyone could construe as a fight. And the rulebook leaves “altercation” undefined. Rule 12, Section VII is in the FINES section, not the FIGHTING section, which is Section VI. Here’s the fighting rule:
a. Technical fouls shall be assessed players, coaches or trainers for fighting. No free throws will be attempted. The participants will be ejected immediately.

No player was ejected for fighting as mandated by the rules. Horry was ejected for a flagrant foul and Bell got smacked with a technical foul for unsportsmanlike conduct. The officials, by the punishments doled out, admit there was no “fight”. However, the bench rule does not pertain to “fights,” it pertains to “altercations”. I think it is reasonable to assume a fight is worse than altercation. I think the league wins this argument as well, unless the Suns can successfully argue an “altercation” is the same as a “fight”. And if they are the same thing, why does the rulebook use different terminology and place the bench-leaving rule in a different section than the FIGHTING section? It’s not an untenable argument, I just don’t believe it is a winner.

Stoudamire never gets more than a step from the sideline. He was then immediately restrained by his coaches who got him to sit back down. The rule is not that a player must remain on the bench, but in the “immediate vicinity”. Just like “altercation,” “immediate vicinity” is undefined, but I think the Suns could make a very good argument that a player who never gets more than a step onto the court and always has a coach between him and the players on the court is still with the “immediate vicinity” of the bench.

This attacks the final element of the prima facie case and is the last of Stoudamire’s “I didn’t do it” arguments. I think this one is the only one that really has a snowball’s chance in hell, but previous application of the rule shows Stern to believe simply taking one step on the court as leaving the immediate vicinity of the bench. This isn’t a decided issue, but it weighs against the Suns.

This is the overarching argument. The NBA created this rule in order to prevent escalation of on-court fights. How do we know this? They told us. Now, the courts don’t like legislative history, but Stern made the rule and he’s deciding this case not some court. He surely knew his own intent in creating the rule.

Did Stoudamire escalate the fight? Certainly not. There was no fight, as the league concedes. Actually, let’s give credit to the refs who broke things up remarkably quick and kept things from getting out of hand. But, once again, this is a strict liability rule. You do the crime, you do the time. The intent of the rule shouldn’t matter. If Stoudamire violated the rule, he will be suspended under the clear text of the rule.

Here’s an interesting argument. The NBA has refused to impute strict liability for players leaving the bench to stop a fight before. The situation was radically different, it was players leaving the bench to stop a fight in the tunnel, but the point is still valid: the NBA has conceded through the application of this rule it is not a strict liability rule.

From the article:
A strict interpretation of NBA rules would have resulted in at least a one-game suspension for anyone leaving the bench to join an altercation.

"Our rule regarding an automatic suspension for players leaving the bench was not intended to apply in a highly unusual situation like this one, where an altercation occurs in an access tunnel or hallway,'' NBA vice president Stu Jackson said. "In this circumstance, our judgment was that the players who left the bench were attempting to break up the fight and did not escalate the altercation."

By the way, note the intent of the rule argument popping up again.

If it is not strict liability, then Stern has discretion in applying it here. And frankly, it would be ridiculous to suspend Stoudamire for escalating a fight that didn’t happen when he never even got near the players on the court.

Sure, this argument runs against the plain language of the rulebook, but once you’ve done it once, why not do it again?

The NBA refused to suspend Bowen for intentionally kicking Steve Nash in the nuts. Read that sentence again. The Suns now argue that since the league office has already decided to not let its disciplinary arm decide this series, it shouldn’t jump in now, particularly for the far lesser offense of a player leaving the bench.

David Stern can’t suddenly become a hardliner after showing remarkable leniency to the opposing team, can he? How is that fair?

Hey, Suns fans. Sometimes life isn’t fair.

This is the nuclear option, and it is pure brilliance. If the Suns lose on all of their previous arguments, which looks to be about fifty-fifty, they can then turn around and say:

“Fine. You want strict liability? A rule is a rule is a rule, right? Well, that means you have to suspend Duncan and Bowen, too.”

If the league decides to apply the letter of the law to the Stoudamire incident, then they would almost be forced to do the same regarding a little noticed play earlier in the game which has since been pointed out by Steve Kerr on Yahoo! Sports:
In a play that went entirely unnoticed until well after the game was over, both Duncan and Bowen actually left San Antonio's bench early in the second quarter after Francisco Elson and James Jones were entangled. Replays clearly show Duncan walking several steps onto the court as Elson and Jones appeared to be ready to get into it. Bowen then followed Duncan onto the floor, grabbed him and led him back to the bench. If the league does indeed follow the letter of the law, both Spurs players would also be suspended for Game 5.

And Duncan and Bowen made it further onto the court than Diaw or Stoudamire. The Spurs might have a better "altercation" argument, but they have a much worse "immediate vicinity" argument. Intent doesn't matter, right?

Can you imagine a Game 5 without Stoudamire, Diaw, Duncan, and Bowen? What’s good for the goose is good for the gander, right? This would be a nightmare for the league, and it is probably the biggest bullet in the Suns’ argumentative gun. There’s no way Stern wants to suspend so many big stars for what appears to be extremely minor violations. Look for the league office to let everyone off with a warning, probably using some sort of logic from the Suns’ “we didn’t do it” defenses, when it is really a cover for avoiding suspending everybody. The Suns have a nice hammer here, but they are giving the NBA plenty of outs. Use the “immediate vicinity” argument even if you don’t believe it, because the league has to be afraid of the implications of “a rule is a rule is a rule”.

As for Horry, he should be suspended for throwing a cross-check. It’s not an automatic suspension, but that was a pretty damn flagrant foul, and leaves him subject to suspension. And the league cannot encourage the tactic of sending in bench players to commit hard fouls on superstar players in the hope they will draw some retaliatory suspension when they react to a pretty blatant cheap shot. Which, by the way, is exactly what the rules do. Stoudamire has strict liability for a fight he didn’t even participate in, while Horry can be suspended only at the Commissioner’s discretion for starting the whole thing with a needlessly hard foul.

Which, if you stop to think about it, is just another big shot to put on Horry’s resume. If he manages to get Stoudamire suspended because Horry committed a blatant dirty foul, that would be pretty genius.

Highest Bidder?

Intramural signups are up and I am without a team, seeing as most of my class is not here for the summer. So I am declaring myself a law league free agent. Besides, I need an excuse to wear my soccer socks.

Not only will I provide your team with athletic ability and beer*, I also give you the off chance of witnessing a spectacular injury. I'll even drive myself to the hospital in the aftermath.

NOTE FROM MANAGEMENT: By beer, of course I mean Gatorade. We would never drink alcohol at a school-sponsored event. that would be wrong. And beer causes cramping.

Monday, May 14, 2007

How Baseball ruined Mother's Day

The Orioles blew a 5-run lead in the 9th inning yesterday. Now, I know in the long run, these things don’t matter, it’s just a silly game. I know that it’s more important that this weekend I got to see a lot of my college friends, I saw two weddings, I crashed a graduation party, and I got to talk to my mom during Mother’s Day. That’s a good weekend by any standard.

Who am I kidding? The O’s game completely ruined my weekend. One out in the ninth and no runners on and you lose? You remove a guy working on a three-hitter because a hitter reached by error? You employ a middle reliever for $5.67 million/year* who can’t hold a five-run lead?! Yeah, it’s just a game. It’s a game that caused my blood pressure to rise to a point that I’m looking into plane fares to Baltimore so I can have a “discussion” with the Orioles front office in a dark alley. By the time the O’s made their second error of the inning, allowing two runs (including the winning run) to score on a groundball that didn’t leave the infield, I invented curse words.

I also am convinced Kevin Millar is a double agent who intentionally screwed the play up to help his old team. Once a Red Sock, always a Red Sock.

My emergency backup NL team, the Dbacks, let me down too, but that seems besides the point. By the time Maryland lacrosse choked like the Dallas Mavericks in the first round of the NCAA tourney, I was practically catatonic. Why do I give a crap? Why do I let these things affect my mood like that? It’s just a game, it’s just a game, it’s just a game.

It’s just a game that’s killing me right now. I hate the Orioles. I hate baseball.

I hate Jude right now for rubbing it in (though DeBye has had the good sense to be gracious about it, mainly because he does not have Jude’s benefit of physical distance). But not as much as my friend from Boston who sent me a virtual “Get Well” card. He can rot in hell.

*Ed. Note. Not a misprint. That’s Five point six-seven million for a middle reliever. That’s grossly overpaid even by baseball standards. Forget the argument whether any athlete “deserves” over five million to play a game, nobody pays middle relievers this much money. Not even the Yankees. Middle relievers are baseball’s fungible good, most teams use prospects, marginal players, and failed starters. If they’re in the pen and aren’t the closer, chances are rather good they aren’t very good. Paying them big money is remarkably stupid. No one has ever gone broke gambling on the Orioles’ stupidity.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mom's Day!

Today is Mother's Day. Make sure you call your mom today and thank her for that whole giving you life thing.

I know you have to come to terms with the fact your mom isn't quite as cool as my mom, but I'm sure your mom did the best she could considering.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Second Thoughts

So far, I am happy with my selection of an emergency backup NL team. The D-backs are 2 games over .500, the O's are 2 games under, so they are filling their role of winning when the O's lose. And they are doing it while six of their eight starters have a batting average below 240. The Snakes are slumping, and they are still winning more than they are losing. And the team is showing remarkable patience with its young, slumping players, refusing to hit the panic button. So I'm not going back on my backup choice.

But the Brewers are making me regret the decision a little bit. Not just because they are tearing up the NL Central and that their best player is a big fat guy. No, first its because they were giving away free prostate exams outside a home game this week, and then giving the examinees two free Brewers tickets to a future game. If the doctor gives you a present after a prostate exam, I do feel you are awfully close to dating. This may be the worst promotion in sports history.

Then I found this site: Pee Your Pants For the Brewers.

I don't think they are kidding. Do yourself a favor and click on the link. And read the "Methods" tab. I'm not jumping ship, but I do feel a tinge of regret. Brewers fans are apparently insane.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Pope Wags Finger

I am tepidly pro-Choice. I think the general consensus on abortion is that overall we think it should be legal, but we think it is really icky. Since this isn't really a political blog and I don't like to use this space for political debate and I am hardly passionate on this issue, please don't use the comments to convert me. I don't care that much.

I only bring it up because I am moving one step closer to excommunication.

But the Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, later issued a statement approved by the pope clarifying the remarks. The statement said the pope did not intend to excommunicate anyone.* Politicians who vote in favor of abortion should not receive the sacrament of Holy Communion, Lombardi said.

``Since excommunication hasn't been declared by the Mexican bishops, the pope has no intention himself of declaring it,'' said Lombardi, who was on board the plane. ``Legislative action in favor of abortion is incompatible with participation in the Eucharist. ... Politicians exclude themselves from Communion.''

Pressed further by journalists if the lawmakers were excommunicated, Lombardi reiterated: ``No, they exclude themselves from Communion.''

I'm just curious, does voting for pro-Choice politicians and supporting pro-Choice legislation also mean I'm threatened with excommunication? I think we all knew it was only a matter of time before the Catholics kicked me out of the Church, but I'm kind of wondering how close I am from receiving the papal "kick me" sign.

And don't politicians sort of exclude themselves from Communion by virtue of being politicians?

And if I do get excommunicated, how do I tell my mom? Considering she's pro-Choice too, we might have start attended Episcopal services.

*Ed Note - Phew. Dodging the bullet there. I'm hoping he doesn't change his mind in the near future.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Ten Not-So-Interesting Facts

Because osodelsol told me to...

OK, Ten facts about myself. Interesting is optional.

1. I’ve had five knee surgeries. My personal favorite is when they replaced my PCL with a dead guy’s Achilles tendon. Coupled with the surgical steel already in there, that makes my knee a combination of Frankenstein and Robocop. I’m currently walking around on a torn ACL, so surgery #6 isn’t too far off. I’m waiting until I have some health insurance worth a damn.

2. I have never smoked a cigarette. Not a one. And I worked for Philip Morris.

3. My college roommate was absolutely insane. He tried to stab me, took a swing at me with a golf club, and almost accidentally lit us both on fire. He also made the most delicious omelet you’ve ever had. There was never a dull moment in college. I really miss living with him, though I would never do it again.

4. I was in a punk band in high school. We weren’t very good, even by the rather lenient standards of punk. Mainly, I got up on a stage and yelled at people.

5. I’ve been divorced twice. This means I’m already tied with Henry VIII on divorces, even if I am down four wives. I now need to figure out how to have the next one executed.

6. I’ve invented two football stats for my own use. I am that big of a dork. One is my own passer ratings on a yards/attempt scale and the other is offensive line ratings based on standard deviation. I really need a life. (By the way, the Giants has the best o-line last year).

7. Since high school, I have not lived in the same dwelling for more than two consecutive years. I’m on my third apartment in law school. I don’t set down roots well.

8. I ran an online BBS in high school with some of my friends. Which means I have been online since about 1989. The connection speed of the BBS maxed out at 4800 baud. That’s about 4 KB/second. AIRBEAR usually connects at about 11 MB/second, so our BBS maxed out at a speed around 3000 times slower than AIRBEAR. My dork bona fides.

9. My iPod has over 13,000 songs on it. Including the complete discographies of bands as diverse as Fugazi and the Beatles.

10. I wrote a novel and a play. The play was performed exactly one time.

Hats That Make Me Feel Better

I can't say I'm thrilled to be back in Waco. This is my eighth straight quarter of law school, and I'm about as burned out on this whole thing as you might expect. After this quarter, all that is left is my two quarters of PC, then the bar, and then (hopefully) some sort of paying job.

Yeah, the light at the end of the tunnel is an oncoming train.

I have interesting classes, and I also am doing a pretty nifty research project for Prof. ConLaw. Maybe it will be the first paper to come out out of Baylor that is militantly in favor of gay rights. Hopefully, no one has beat me to that punch. So its not that I have no interest in my classes, I really do. I am just feel sort of burned out on this place right now. When do I get out of here again?

Sorry. I'm trying not to be a bummer. So why don't you go look at Derby hats? It cheers me up.

And, no, I don't feel stupid for leaving Street Sense out of my exotics. I ended up betting on him. I feel stupid for ignoring Bruce's advice to include Hard Spun in my exacta box.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Pete Rose, Gambling, and Swanburg's Mom

Swanburg's mom bought me a present: an autographed Pete Rose baseball. Pete Rose stands at the intersection of many things I love: baseball, gambling, cheating, and good old fashioned bar arguments. I appreciate the gift and think it is really cool, and fits me like a glove.

I also view this as Swanburg's mom trying to draw me into the "Does Pete Rose belong in the Hall of Fame?" argument, which admittedly, is one of my favorite baseball arguments. Short answer: no way in hell. Long answer: Well, let's start with Rule 21(d)

(d) BETTING ON BALL GAMES. Any player, umpire, or club official or employee, who shall bet any sum whatsoever upon any baseball game in connection with which the bettor has no duty to perform shall be declared ineligible for one year.

Any player, umpire, or club or league official or employee, who shall bet any sum whatsoever upon any baseball game in connection with which the bettor has a duty to perform shall be declared permanently ineligible.

Rose has admitted to violating this rule. End of story. There’s a lot of evidence against Rose, and you can read it all in the Dowd Report. There was no confession in there, but he has since confessed his guilt. So Rose is, and deserves to be permanently ineligible. Baseball should not remove him from this list. End of argument, right?

Here’s where people get the story wrong. Baseball has not banned Pete Rose from the Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame is not run by Major League Baseball, it is a separate institution with its own rules and bylaws. And after Rose agreed to being placed on the permanently ineligible list, the Hall of Fame nipped the argument in the bud by ruling that players on the permanently ineligible list are ineligible for induction to the Hall of Fame. (It’s Rule 3-E)

So, Rose is petitioning the wrong institution. He has absolutely no case that he should be taken off the permanently ineligible list. He gambled on his own team, and that’s a clear violation of the rules of baseball. It’s not like they nailed him on a technicality. He ain’t Buck Weaver or Joe Jackson. Rose should be petitioning the Hall of Fame, not for reinstatement, but for repeal of Rule 3-E.

That’s what is keeping him from the Hall of Fame. Well, that and the BBWAA and the Veteran’s Committee. I actually would like to see Rule 3-E repealed and let the writers vote on Rose, taking his gambling into consideration. I doubt he would merit induction, they didn’t induct Joe Jackson when there was no Rule 3-E and Jackson at least has a case of plausible deniability (which I don’t entirely buy. Field of Dreams is a nice movie and all, but Jackson racked up his big numbers in the late innings of blowout losses or in the games the Black Sox were trying to win after the gamblers’ double-crossed them).

Because check out Rule 5, the voting criteria:

5. Voting — Voting shall be based upon the player's record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.

Rose has a huge check under record, playing ability, and contributions to his teams. He has huge minuses under integrity, sportsmanship, and character. Leave it up to the voters to reject Rose, not the Hall of Fame Board of Directors. Is that so hard? Making Rose eligible for the Hall of Fame is only the first step to getting him inducted. And he's got to get in line behind Shoeless Joe.

Seriously, what a cool present. Thanks, Swanny.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Degenerate Gambling

I’ve been known to play the ponies on occasion. In fact, I used to live within walking distance of a racetrack. So, while I don’t follow the sport religiously anymore, I still really enjoy the Kentucky Derby, which is this weekend. Here is your helpful handicapping guide in case you might be tempted to go to Off-Track Betting.

First, some basic guidelines on how to pick the Derby. The best horse does not always win. It’s a big field and crazy things happen. But there are some basic characteristics you can look for to help narrow down the field. What I’m looking for is:
1. Performance – the horse should have posted a Beyer speed figure of 100 at least once. And if not, they better have some big wins.
2. Experience – At least three graded stakes is nice, and they have to have run over a mile and done well.
3. Winnings – At least one win this year. And rarely finishing out of the money.

So who can we throw out right away? Sedgefield, Zanjero, Storm in May, Imawildandcrazyguy, and Bwana Bull. That still leaves 14 horses to break down (bad choice of words). This group has almost no chance, but one of them could pull a Giacomo or something, I just won’t be betting on them. So here’s a handy betting guide for the rest of the field. Those numbers next to the horses are in order: Starts, wins, places, shows, winnings, highest Beyer, odds. The first number is the gate.

2 CURLIN 3 3 0 0 0 $802,800 103 7-2
A horse has not won the Derby when it has not raced as a two-year old in over 100 years. He won the Arkansas Derby by 10 lengths and is now installed as the Derby favorite. That’s just crazy. He would be a nice sleeper pick, but a favorite? He won three prep races, but he hasn’t beaten any of the favorites. He could very well be the best horse, but the value sucks. Also, his post is against the rail, which doesn’t bode well.

6 COWTOWN CAT 7 4 0 1 $488,463 98 30-1
A sucker bet. Has not beaten anyone. Won the Illinois Derby by going wire to wire, which won’t happen here. Like the odds, but there’s just no reason to bet him.

7 STREET SENSE 7 3 2 2 $1,508,200 108 4-1
Should be the favorite, and may be by the time the race begins. He’s dealing with the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile curse, but that’s usually because Juvenile winners matured earlier. Street Sense won the Tampa Derby and finished strong in the Blue Grass. He just ran out of track, which is another good sign considering the Derby is a longer race. I mean, I’m going to feel really stupid when I leave him out of my exotic bets.

8 HARD SPUN 6 5 0 0 0 $473,470 101 15-1
First, the good news. Six races, five wins. His Beyers have progressively improved with time as he’s run longer distances. Now, the bad news. Everything else. Not a bad horse to throw into the exacta wager, but there is nothing in the record the makes me jump up and down.

9 LIQUIDITY 7 1 2 1 $197,200 102 30-1
One win? You’re entering a horse in the Derby with one fucking win? Has spent the year getting his ass kicked by Tiago, Sam P, Circular Quay, and Zanjero.

10 TEUFLESBERG 15 4 1 2 $385,431 100 50-1
OK, he’s not a top tier horse, but I like saying “Teuflesberg” and I like his workmanlike career. He’s the kind of a horse which will find his way in the top three when the race goes to pot.

12 NOBIZ LIKE SHOBIZ 6 4 1 1 $804,900 98 8-1
Six races and five were grade stakes. He’s won a Grade 1 (Wood Memorial), a Grade 2 (Remsen), and a Grade 3 (Holy Bull). He’s beaten a lot of the horse in the field, though Scat Daddy seems to have his number (he is 1-2 vs. Scat Daddy). He’s never posted that magical 100 Beyer, but he’s never posted lower than a 92 so its not like he isn’t capable. He has finished in the money in all of his starts, and like I said, he hasn’t been racing chumps. A great value bet.

13 SAM P. 8 2 2 1 $217,564 99 20-1
His odds have been falling rapidly, so he’s the Wise Guy pick. He’s never won a Graded stakes, so I don’t see it. Wise Guys often outthink themselves in the Derby trying to find that upset special. I’m out.

14 SCAT DADDY 8 5 1 1 $1,334,300 98 10-1
Riding a two-race win streak so he’s hot right now. But last time he raced against these horses, he got his ass kicked in the Juvenile. That doesn’t scare me as much, but the Beyer scares me. I’m really torn on this horse. Wait until post, if the odds are right, then place the bet.

15 TIAGO 4 2 0 1 $484,320 100 15-1
His Santa Anita win looks completely unlike the rest of his mediocre career. It screams fluke. I don’t like him at all.

16 CIRCULAR QUAY 7 4 2 0 $1,147,434 102 8-1
He skipped all of the major preps. That’s bad. No horse wins after skipping the preps. Most of his wins were early in his career, his Louisiana Derby win ended a major losing streak. There’s too much baggage here. There’s potential, but I’m not that excited.

17 STORMELLO 9 3 1 2 $675,100 96 30-1
If you’re looking for a horse that will take a lead and then die down the stretch, here it is. I actually like Stormello, I just am not convinced he can go the distance.

18 ANY GIVEN SATURDAY 6 3 2 1 $299,213 102 12-1
He’s never had a good ride it seems. He’s always going 4-wide or some crazy thing like that. And even with that, he always finishes in the money. He’s never won a Graded Stakes, which makes me nervous, but this is the kind of horse that can have a huge bounce in the Derby. I really like him.

19 DOMINICAN 7 3 0 2 $596,259 95 20-1
He won the Blue Grass, but I think that was him hitting his ceiling, not a preview of things to come. He’s just outclassed, but lightning could strike twice.

20 GREAT HUNTER 9 3 4 1 $772,500 101 15-1
Throw out the Blue Grass. He pulled up in the stretch, so I’m not sure its an accurate reflection. Has gone back and forth with Street Sense and Circular Quay. He’s demonstrated the same quality, yet he’s the one with the long odds. The best value on the board.

So, what are the picks?

1. Any Given Saturday
2. Great Hunter
3. Street Sense
4. Nobiz Like Shobiz

But I don’t really have the feeling this year. I’m not sold on any horse.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall

The weather has been almost Biblical this week. The last two days, there's been so much rain I thought I was gonna see animals lining up two by two. Though I did get to see a bolt of lightning strike, and then the current ripple back through the clouds. It was absolutely beautiful in that "oh God that could have killed me" sort of way.

BTW - if you've been over at Swanburg's blog and he talks about how I wouldn't sell him the UCC because I'm gonna wanna keep that. He left out an important clause in that sentence: "...because I'm taking Securities this summer." It's not some abstract love of the Uniform Commercial Code.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

My Mom Kicks the Soviet Union's Butt

Today is my mom's birthday! Happy birthday, Mom! Today is also May Day, otherwise known as the International Workers' Day, as celebrated by the former Soviet Union and its communist acolytes. So, in honor of both holidays, here are some reasons why my mom is better than the former Soviet Union.

My mom never invaded Afghanistan.

My mom never cut a deal with Adolph Hitler, divvying up Poland in a non-aggression pact. Had my mom ever met Hitler, I'm sure she would have been quite rude to him.

My mom never created the Gulag Archipelago, the network of prisons in Siberia that disloyal citizens were sent to. However, she did send me to my room without dinner on occasion. Me and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn... we're like peas in a pod.

My mom never assassinated a czar and his family. In fact, my mom has never assassinated anybody. She would have let Anastasia go.

My mom is a great cook. Ettouffee, gumbo, jambalaya... there is better eating in her kitchen than in the old Soviet Union. Ever hear of Soviet Cuisine? Me neither.

My mom never robbed the 1972 US basketball team of a gold medal.

My mom's network of spies in the neighborhood, affectionately referred to as the Dorsey Hall Women's Club, was nowhere near as sinister as the KGB. Though the KGB never caught me sneaking out after curfew.

Estimated death toll. USSR: countless millions. My mom: zero.

My mom never shelled the Parliament building, or any government building. And she did not have any part in taking Gorbachev hostage. My mom did not like Reagan, but never considered a Putsch.

My mom is not harboring a decaying nuclear arsenal. She also has never had a nuclear meltdown on her property. The worst environmental disaster my mom has any culpability for was probably caused by the dog.

My mom did not roll tanks into Hungary in 1956. She is on great terms with the neighbors.

My mom's dictatorship was benevolent.

Happy birthday, Mom. The workers of the world unite. And have cake.