Saturday, July 29, 2006

Bruce Sutter

Here's a little piece on one of my favorite all-time pitchers: Bruce Sutter. The guy invented a new pitch, the split-fingered fastball, from what I can remember. Plus, he was a relief pitcher - who are always teh freakiest, coolest players on the team. Like Mariano Rivera defines relievers in today's league, Bruce Sutter defined them in the '70s. He had a really cool shaggy beard, and this cool new pitch that just dropped off the table. His best years were with the Cubs and Cardinals, and he finished up his run with one strong year for the Braves. Glad to see he's made the Hall of Fame.


Tuesday, July 25, 2006


Looks like we're headed down to the Liberty Amphitheatre tonight for the Yardbirds show - part of the 8 Great Tuesdays events that the Port Authority puts on. I've been attending these things with my family for the past couple years and they have been really a lot of fun. We missed the first two this year because of baseball commitments and looks like we'll miss next week's as well, but the Yardbirds seem pretty solid. Someone told me only the drummer remains from the original band; not sure what that means, as that was a long time ago, and I thought John Bonham, of Zeppelin fame was the Yardbirds drummer for awhile. He, of course, is dead. People like Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, and Jeff Beck all played in the 'Birds at one time, and I even think Zeppelin was initially called the New Yardbirds. Now that I think of it, Bonham was introduced to Page by Plant, so maybe, Page was in the old Yardbirds and they had a different drummer. For some reason, the only Yardbirds song that keeps running through my head of "For Your Love" - at least I think that's them. Let's hope the T-showers hold off, but it is looking pretty good out now.

Over and out.


Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Hot Daze; Cold Beers

It was pretty humid yesterday. I had to recut my back lawn because of a stupid error when setting the height on the lawnmower last week - I thought I had it on the second-from-the-lowest, but really had it on the second-from-highest. When I got done, I felt like I had jumped in the lake there was so much sweat on me. And my lawn is covered in shade in the evening, so I thought it would be cooler!

Speaking of the lake, we went to the beach on Sunday. We got there before 11 a.m. - the beach we were at didn't officially open for swimming until noon (meaning that's when the lifeguard shows up), but we still got like the last picnic table. I wish I had brought my camera, because looking north? down the beach (toward gull point), it was quite a site of colorfully clad people enjoying Presque Isle. On the way out, I remarked that it may have been the most people I have ever seen down there on a non-holiday- as every parking spot was taken. Of course, I didn't realize that like four beaches were closed due to e-coli.

Good story in today's paper about putting together a commission to determine the exact cause of the recent increase in e-coli at the beaches. I'm guessisg it has something to do with global warming, but at least hope there are some tactical steps we can take to protect our water. Sure, as Al Gore will tell you, the earth is going to hell, but let's at least enjoy our beaches for a few more years. I came across this AP photo in Sunday's paper and it made me realize how lucky we are to have our beach.

Finally, last night one of my buddies picked me up, wanting to head out for "a cold beer." We thought about Wild Cards, but determined it would be too cold in there to start with. We stopped in the Plymouth - too crowded. We ended up at my old home - the 'Slider. Been awhile since I've hung out there. Ice cold dollar Labbatt's in the bottle. It's always been hard to beat the 'Slider.



Monday, July 17, 2006

National Geographic Offers World Music Online

National Geographic now offers world music online. Check it out.


Wednesday, July 12, 2006

A Truly Beautiful Game

So, there's all this talk about soccer being "the beautiful game." This was especially prevelent during the recent World Cup festivities in Germany. Well, fuck soccer. Although it can be a great game, the matches played in Germany, at least the ones I saw were far from beautiful. A lot of fouling, overly physical play and penalties deciding games.

Just a little history here: The Brazilians are the ones who came up with the term "the beaufiful game." And many actually lamented the fact that Brazil over the past 20 years, started playing more European-style, and got away from what the natives termed their "beautiful game." I think Germany, Italy, France, and Portugal showing up in this year's World Cup final four is evidence that the "beautiful game" of soccer may be dead...

But, moving on to baseball, I'd have to say last night's All Star game in Pittsburgh, at the lovely PNC Park, was truly a beautiful game. What can I say? Fuck soccer. I'll say it again. Why do we waste our time trying to develop great soccer players when we already have baseball.

Could you have asked for more last night? Coming into the game, everyone knew the American League had the better team. But for most of the game they trailed. They game was tight, like a well-played soccer match. Two-to-one going into the last inning, with all the runs having come one at a time-like goals. The National League had actually gone ahead on a wild pitch, and for them to win the game that way would be anticlimatic and disappointing, I think. The N.L. brought in future Hall-of-Fame closer Trevor Hoffman, whose best years are behind him, but still showed strong stuff getting the first two batters - All Stars, mind you, to ground weakly back to him. Then the fun started. Paul Konerko, a hero in the White Sox World Series championship last year, lined a single to left. Joe Buck, who does a great job calling baseball - just like his dad, noted that had the third-baseman not been playing the line to prevent an extra-base hit, the game would have been over. Oh, the beautiful "game of inches." Next batter, Troy Glaus - who hit like a million home runs in Jerry Uht Park 10 years ago when playing with the Angels in an exhibition tour- lines one deep to left that looks like it will score the pinch runner for Konerko, but, lo and behold, bounces over the wall for a ground-rule double.

Now, you've got second and third, two out, top of the ninth, Hall of Fame closer on the hill, and Michael Young, this unimpressive looking Texas shortstop coming to the plate. But, one caveat, Young can hit. And that's the great thing about baseball. Appearences can be deceiving. Fat guys, skinny guys, tall guys, even guys with one hand have succeeded in professional baseball. It really is a pastime for every man. Buck built up the scene, but descriping Young as "the reigning Americal League batting champ." And the champ delivered. Strong shot to the gap that ended up as a triple and scored both runners.

Then, in came Mariano Rivera. If Hoffman is a sure Hall of Famer, Rivera, well, he's beyond that. He's simply the greatest closer in the world. He actually got four outs in the bottom of the ninth, as Konerko's pinch runner came in to play third and made an error. No matter. Rivera closed it out on a popup to Young. Yeah, it was an exhibition game, but for some reason the save, at least to me, seemed just as important as any of Rivera's 30-some postseason saves.

A final note: I'd like to tip my hat to the great Ozzie Guillen who guided, somehow, the American League time to victory after they were on the cusp of defeat. Like any great coach, manager, Guillen never panicked. I must admit, I had my doubts. I remember looking at him in the dugout in the ninth inning thinking, boy, you suck- you got one run out of these great American Leauge hitters. This is a team that Travis Haffner, the great Indians slugger who's in the top 5 in several major offensive categories, couldn't even make. And you got one run. Well, like many, I underestimated the wisdom of Ozzie. His team pulled through - again, and as usual he came out smelling like a rose. He even had enough class to sit down his own White Sox closer once the A.L. looked like it might take the lead, and go to the great Rivera. Ozzie, everyone says your crazy, but the old addage, "crazy like a fox" always comes to mind when I wathch you manage.

Well, that's it. Hope some of you got to see the game. It was a good one.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Democrats Still Don't Have a Message

Richard Reeves' latest article offers some advice to Democrats: Don't focus on Iraq. Instead, focus on "local issues and the overall national governance of Republicans these last six years."

This is sage advice. Consider this context: I've seen some (presumably) Democrat bumper stickers popping up recently. What do they say? They say "Fed up; Throw 'em out."

That's a loser's slogan. It's the same mistake Al Gore made, but in reverse. It was Gore's election to lose in 2000, and that's exactly what he did. His first TV campaign commercials in 1999 focused on some little known clause in a medical act relating to seniors.

Focusing on seniors is great, but save the heavy details for after the victory.

In other words, Gore was way too specific. He should have been talking about SENIORS as a group, not about verbiage. The bumper stickers I mentinon above fail in the other direction. Instead of conjuring a specific image to mind, it just adopts the blind slogan "throw the bums out." Weakness.

In addition to seniors, Gore should also have been talking about JOBS and EDUCATION. There's nothing mysterious about the Democratic platform from where I come from, but it seems the current Democratic leadership is at a loss for such a focus. The party truly is adrift in this aspect.

So, it looks like the Democrats, despite some fairly huge blunders by the Republicans since 2000 (many of which equal and evidently surpass the exploits of the Clinton administration), still do not have a coherent message. None that I've heard, anyway.

Too bad Al Gore put the kiss of death on Howard Dean when he said that he was backing Dean before Dean had even won the Democratic primary. Dean has balls and focus. Now he needs to learn subtlety and diplomacy. He's the last, best hope, as far as I can tell.

As for Gore, he's as brilliant as he is bone-headed. They says his new movei on global warming is something to see. I hope he stays focused on the environment. He seems happy in that world.

As for the PA Senate race, there's Bob Casey, Jr. I watched him at a press conference outside his office in Harrisburg. He held it in such a way as to allow people with Santorum signs to stand directly behind him. It was ridiculous. He should have taken the event into a more controlled environment (he needs to follow the Republicans on this kind of thing).

Bad mistake, right? Okay, we'll forgive that one. But the remainder of the conference from that point consisted of Casey attacking Santorum in a kind of mealy-mouth way. In other words, I was not impressed with Casey. He didn't offer much of anything that he would do...even the boiler-plate stuff (have I mentioned jobs, the deficit, education, seniors, and homeland security?).

What the hell is going on? Doesn't he have any contact with Daddy anymore? Say what you will about the old man, he was a hell of a fighter. I don't see it yet in the son.

Interestingly, Lynn Swann makes a pretty solid candidate for PA governor. And I don't care about the football thing. Swann has been talking about issues in a way that is less microscopic than Gore and more competent and charismatic than Casey. I doubt that Swann will unseat Eddie Rendell, because, as I understand it, the people of Philadelphia can elect anyone they want as governor of this state because they have the population. How about that? So, it looks like at least the PA governorship will remain in Democratic hands.

So, in closing, the Dems will take back some power this fall, but they will not be freed from their Republican masters for many more years. To change this, they need to go back to the basic Democratic issues. They should also focus on border security and start talking about the heroes along the borders of America. That would score them some points on patriotism.

Okay. I'm out.


Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Night rain

The rain is coming down. It's a soft, dark, night rain. Running slowly, gently soaking and soothing firm soil. Softening and loosening. Washing clean sweat, replacing it with fresh water. Cleaning, soaking, baptizing, rebirthing bodies, launching my soul into the stars, where it falls back down in millions of little drops. Did you ever stretch your arms out in a cold night rain, lightening flashing high up? Calling to the heavens and asking why, did you put me here? This small little body amongst these great powers. Feeling soaked. Feeling washed. Feeling naked as the power if it all overcomes you? Have you turned your palm up and allowed the water to soak in? Held yourself open to it all. And washed your brain, all the way through, in the rain, at night, like morning dew, but faster, overcoming you like a river raging down. Keeping your head above the current and bobbing as you flow, with the stream, through the grass, little rivulets run in the night rain, seeking low ground, where they settle and seep in. And me smiling as it washes is all away.