Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Schilling HOF?

So, Kurt Schilling announced his retirement on Monday, and a lot of people have been debating whether or not he is a valid Hall of Fame candidate. He has been compared favorably to Catfish Hunter who is in the Hall of Fame and has about the same amount of wins and losses - and also was on multiple World Series championship teams. Schilling, of course, has even better postseason numbers than Catfish, who went 9-6 in the playoffs over his career, while Schilling was 11-2. Coincidentally, both pitchers’ teams turned in incredible 10-2 postseason series records.

Schilling has also been compared to former Tigers great Jack Morris as well as Orel Hershiser, both of whom also had some legendary postseason success. Morris actually has almost 40 more wins than Schilling, and I'm not really sure why he isn't in the Hall of Fame, except for the fact that he was notably cantankerous and has a fairly high lifetime ERA of 3.90. However, Morris did pitch the majority of his career in the hitter friendly old Tiger Stadium. Hershiser only has 204 career wins, and although he had a phenomenal postseason in 1988 and a very good one for the Indians in 1995, you could argue that he cost the Indians the 1997 title with his terrible performance against the Marlins. But, I wouldn't object to him making the HOF - and he has had a nice poker career following his retirement from baseball. This has contributed to making him a fairly famous guy....

And this brings us around to my argument about who the Hall of Fame is for. I contend it's for the most famous ballplayers of their eras. Schilling, with the "Bloody Sock Game" alone, certainly qualifies based on that criteria. I mean it's not called the Hall of Great Players, although being a great players certainly can contribute to one's fame.

I think the growing army of stat-heads out there gets too caught up in the numbers and forgets what the Hall of Fame is all about. It's not a shrine aimed solely at the elite and knowledgeable fans of the game. I think it's supposed to be accessible to everyone - including the casual fan. And I really think that casual fan has more appreciation for what Curt Schilling has done than what Burt Blyleven did, for example.

If you follow these things, you know that Blyleven is the current darling of the numbers crowd. I'm not saying that Blyleven wasn't a great pitcher, but he's really not that famous. I even remember Pirates fans dissing him as "Cryleven" because of the way he acted back in the day. He is never recounted as a major factor in the Pirates winning the 1979 World Series and most people probably don't even know he was on that team. Schilling, on the other hand, everyone knows he was part of the Phillies in '94, the Diamondbacks that beat the Yankees, and of course, the Red Sox in 2004. He's famous and thus belongs in the Hall of Fame.

That's about all there is to it.


Pirates Spring Training Report

Most reports coming out of spring training about a team's top prospects have to do with how well they are hitting or the progress they are making toward the Big Leagues. Not our Pittsburgh Pirates. Yesterday's news out of their Bradenton camp has the 43-year-old wife of up-and-coming outfielder Jose Tabata being arrested for kidnapping a baby while posing as a customs official. Fortuntately, Tatata does not seem to be involved in the scam, but still.... Apparently, Tabata came over last year in a trade from the Yankees, so that may help explain it.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Signs of Spring

I was digging through my drawer this morning looking for a pair of sweats when I came across my shorts laying wrinkled on the bottom. I thought of warm days of summer and how I rotate about three or four pair - sometimes it gets so hot I need to change into a clean pair in the middle of the day. (Maybe I need to by some new shorts for this year.) I am now looking forward to those days, although last summer sure seems like a long time ago.

Oh yes, and I have been listening to baseball the last couple of nights - the World Baseball Classic - this tournament in which players, including a lot of major leaguers, play for their home countries. The U.S. got knocked out by Japan on Sunday and then last night South Korea and Japan played a wonderful championship game. Aside from the Korean pitcher's name being pronounced "Bong," which was very amusing in a Beavis and Butthead sort of way (what if someone gets a "hit" one of my friends suggested), it really was good baseball.

To defend the disgraced Americans a bit - both Korea and Japan have apparently been practicing for this thing since January, while the Americans had just started spring training in the middle of Feb, and next thing you knew the torney was underway. Our pitchers were in no way ready to throw at full-speed and our position players suffered all sorts of injuries - pulled muscles and the like. Anyhow, at least the Far Easterners showed up to play and put on a very entertaining show.



Monday, March 23, 2009

New Cringely Site

For those of you that are fans of one of the greatest technology journalist/columnists of all time, he has a new site - have broken away from PBS. I've added it to the links on the right. Having worked at a start-up the matured into a mid-sized organization, I really enjoyed this post on Bowling for Dollars.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Quote of the day

So I just got done reading the ETN's cover story on this local political activist and his alleged arson case. Apparently the guy torched his house to get the insurance money, but the insurer has refused to pay, alleging arson - with good reason. For example, there was a gas can found on the front porch. The activist guy is trying to blame other people... Anyhow, the Erie District Attorney is also apparently really bad at closing out arson cases. In 2007, for example, it received 44 reports on arson and cleared four of the cases. That's like the one-third of the PA statewide clearance rate.

Well, the D.A.'s lead detective on arson cases, identified in the story as "Detective Gray," when talking about his overwhelming workload, is quoted as saying, he had to put some cases, "on the back burner." Talk about a misplaced metaphor.



Saturday, March 21, 2009

Incredible Local Sports News

Today may be the greatest single day for local sports news that I ever remember. No, it's not one big story that makes it so great, but the sheer volume of good news related to local sports athletes. First off, you've got the Villa girls basketball team winning the state title. Then you've got two Edinboro wrestlers making it to the finals at the national championships. (Okay, I linked you to the story about the one-legged wrestling losing to the Edinboro guy in the national semi-finals, but that's a pretty incredible story in itself - not to mention the fact that the Edinboro kid is a former national champ from Nebraska who got kicked off his former team for, among other things, posing for a porn site. Anyhow,) the Mercyhurst women's hockey team has also made the national championship game, upsetting Minnesota in the national semi-finals. Also, the Gannon basketball team is preparing for its trip to the Elite Eight. The state junior wrestling championships are taking place at the Civic Center. Oh yeah, and for good measure, the Pitt Panthers are a number one seed in the NCAA tournament - although they just barely survived an upset bid yesterday.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Jacques Plante

With hockey playoffs upcoming, I thought we should give a shout out to Jacques Plante, the inventor of hockey's goalie mask. Yes, thanks to Jason, goalie masks have become a cultural icon in America, but Plante himself was a bit of an icon. He is considered to be one of the greatest goaltenders of all-time, and his hobbies were apparently knitting and reading. This, of course, didn't endear him to his redneck coach, Toe Blake, who eventually demanded the Canadians trade Plante - even after he helped the team win five Stanley Cups. Granted, Plante, who had asthma, was starting to miss a lot of games and actually retired just a couple years later. But, much like Jason, he wasn't through. After the league expanded, he came out after three years on the sidelines to become an all-star goalie again-after the age of 40.

During his first his first retirement Plante worked as a sales rep for Molson. Here's tippin' one to ya' Jacques.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Life on Mars Update

Wow! A truly mind-blowing episode. Great music, great guest starts, great plot, surprise ending - working toward the resolution of the why is Sam in 1973 mystery - all the stuff that makes this show great - coming on the heels of last week's stinker. Anyhow, I'm now getting really bummed out that I think I am going to be out of town (and scheduled to be at a meeting) the night of the final episode.

I was considering getting a VGA cable to hook my computer to my TV to watch MLB.TV. I guess can try that and see what kind of picture/sound I get. I'm really wishing I had some sort of TiVo way to record high-def programming at this point. Now that I think of it, I think I can get a high-def i-tunes download. I'll have to check it out.

Anyhow, if you have an hour to kill, check out this week's episode and let me know what you think. (Warning: Ignore Jason O'Mara's in-and-out brogue.)



Michael Lewis Iceland article

This is a wonderful article by the renowned Moneyball author that appears in this month's Vanity Fair. It's all about this insane banking boondoggle that has pratically bankrupted a highly educated nation of 300,000 people, who have traditionally made their money through fishing. A couple years ago at a trade show, I had the opportunity to hang out with a couple guys from the Icelandic post office, and I must say they were a bit unique - and this article beautifully (and sometimes very comically) reflects the uniqueness of these Nordic people. (Warning: It's a bit long and the ending isn't really a zinger, but it's still a pleasure to read.)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Top seed graduation rates

Interesting piece today on the graduation rates for basketball players at the top four seeds in the upcoming NCAA, Division I hoops tourney. The study gives freshmen six years to earn diplomas. Pitt did fairly well with a 69% graduation rate, with North Carolina over year. I thought it was interesting the UConn, whose coached recently blasted some left-wing journalist who was pestering him about his outrageous $1.5 million salary when the state of Connecticut is practically bankrupt, graudates like 30% of its players. Great job coach. The article cited several schools in the torney with 100% graduation rates: Binghamton, Florida State, Marquette, Robert Morris, Utah State, Wake Forest and Western Kentucky. Florida State??? I guess the basketball program is kept away from the footballers.

Also, while we're on the topic of college basketball, congratulations to Gannon and their excellent coach John Riley, for a strong season. They host Kutztown tonight for a chance to advance to the Elite Eight of Division II. Gannon has already beaten Kutztown twice, and the home crowd will definitely be loud- but of course nothing is a given.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Life on Mars Countdown

Disappointing episode last night. It was a show about pilots and swingers, with Sam (Jason O'Mara) and No Nuts (Gretechen Mol) going undercover, so there was some potential for some fun. But, the whole thing kind of lacked an edge. There was a cool "pilots lounge" scene with the flyboys liquering up '70s style be-ore jumping into the cockpit. But the swingers part ended up being very hackneyed and stuff that has been done before - you know, the old car keys in a basket gig. There were a couple laughs, and at the end they finally made a small attempt to work toward resolving the series storyline, which is always cool, but overall the thing was a disappointment. We only have like three episodes to go, and I sure hope they're better than last night's.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Buffalo Welcomes T.O. video

I don't know about you, and I already heard Chico Borman on 1260 trying to steer away from T.O. conversation, but I can't get enough. Finally, I think I've found the definitive video that sums up my feelings as a Bills fan about getting T.O. It's an ESPN piece in which the host interviews three Buffalo media types - Tim Russert's son, an AM radio talk show host, and some writer from Buffalo. They sum it up beautifully: Owens' signing has increased interest in the team, he seems to have given ticket sales a boost, and what, the hell, it can't hurt, we haven't made the playoffs in 10 years anyway. Yes, and then two of them go off about what a great town Buffalo is because the bars don't close until 4 a.m. As Bill Simmons would put it, "Ladies and gentleman, the 2010 Buffalo Bills."

Monday, March 09, 2009

T.O. Why?

Of course, the big question I've already gotten is why the Bills would sign Terrell Owens? The guy's attitute has pretty much gotten him shipped out of the only three pro teams he's ever played for, as well as one team he never even suited up for for (If you remember S.F. tried to trade him to Baltimore before shipping him to Philly, but he made a big stink.) I mean why would the Bills, who have enough problems already, want this guy on their team?

Okay, as a qualifier, I haven't read any other analysis of this trade yet, so here's my take as a long-time, and recently suffering, Bills fan.
1. T.O. brings us some offense. The last couple years, the Bills have bemoaned the fact that they have to little offense to win ballgames. While this is true, some of the blame can also be layed on a defense that can't stop the run, which keeps the offense off the field. But, regardless, we need to score more points and T.O. has scored 58 touchdowns in his last 68 games. That's like .85 touchdowns a game, which is a pretty good number. On the flip side, he did score those TDs as part of two pretty good offenses, the Eagles and Cowboys, which both certainly have more firepower than the Bills have. Also, he's getting older and only scored 10 TDs last year - however, the decrepit Brad Johnson was his QB for three games or so, but nonetheless, at 35, although he apparently keeps himself in great shape, age may be starting to catch up with T.O. as well. Bottom line: he does bring us more offense.
2. He's a great short to medium range receiver: That's always been my opinion of him at least. I remember a few years back when they paired him with Bledsoe, I knew it was a disaster waiting to happen, because Bledsoe throws a great rainbow deep ball, but Owens is great a catching short passes and breaking tackles. I'm not saying he can't get deep, but he sets it up with his short game. Now, the Bills have a great long-ball threat in Evans, and need someone to tear it up underneath to open it up deep, and Owens should be that guy. Then again, I thought that was the Cowboys theory when they picked up Roy Williams from the Lions last year, and it didn't seem to work out for them. That said, our QB, Trent Edwards, has an arm and game a lot more similar to Romo, McNabb, and Garcia - three QBs that Owens clicked with (despite what he might say) - rather then Bledsoe. Bottom line: Owens should fit into our offense.
3. Owens is a marquee name: I'm not saying he's going to help sell more tickets by himself, but if he does help us win, people will buy tickets. Also, he gives the TV people a reason to put us on the tube. Finally, and this is my hope, his signing may help attract other free agents to Buffalo, because we certainly need some linemen. Bottom line: he'll help put the Bills back on the map.

Another great thing about this is that it's a one year deal, for not a ton of money, so if it doesn't work, oh well, we took a shot.

Now, there's a lot of negatives and I really don't want to get into all those, as I'm sure other people already have. One thing a I will say is that at least he is going to force Coach Dick Jauron to earn his money.



Thursday, March 05, 2009

Life on Mars being cancelled

I read on-line today that the only TV show I watch regularly is being cancelled after this season. Apparently it's going to run through the 17th episode, which gives it like four more to go. As I've said several times on this blog, I really enjoyed the show. It seemed like it was going downhill a bit after two flat episodes last month, but then came back with a really strong show last night. You can catch most of the shows on the ABC Web site I've linked to above.

I loved the 1973 premise of course, because I've always had a fascination with that very year. I was six turning seven, and it's the first year I have a clear memory of things. On top of that, the story line was wierd enough with enough twists to keep it interesting and there often seemed to be one momemt in each show that I could particularly relate to. Last night, it was a son talking about his dad, the week before it was Harvey Kietel's character talking about his daughter. Really, in many ways, with the whole 1973 thing - well, and then you had points in the show where wierd shit would happen to Jason O'Mara lead character-when the TV would talk directly to him - well, it kind of freaked me out at times, but it was definitely a good trip.

Unfortunately, as much as I talked the show up, I only found two people that shared my passion for it. One was my brother in Florida and the other was a friend I grew up with. I guess this is why it's going off the air - not enough people were excited about it.

That all said, the show is based on a British show by the same name that was a success, but only ran 16 episodes because the story line ran out. And, apparently, the 17th U.S. show is going to bring some sort of closure to the lead character's journey back in time. So maybe, it has run its course anyhow. I also read that there is DVD version of the British version of the show due to come out this spring, which could be interesting.

One thing we likely won't be seeing, however, is a sequel, such as the one that is debuting on the BBC this month. It's called Ashes and Ashes (another Bowie song) and apparently centers on a woman detective who has studied Sam Tyler's (O'Mara's character) case and gets knocked back to the 1980s and put on the same force with all the guys he hung out with in the 70s. Sounds like another trip.