Wednesday, December 29, 2004
Ohio State is currently beating Oklahoma State 33-0 in the Alamo Bowl, so I'm refusing to watch it on principle. I couldn't really care less about Oklahoma, but any team facing the Buckeyes is a team I will root for. I know no one else cares (the Alamo Bowl? Honestly), but it would have been nice to see the Nuts lose one more this season. Oh well.
As my mother astutely pointed it, it's OSU versus OSU, and I can just imagine the confusion that this is causing in the sports announcer world. Oh, who am I kidding, Berman is probably crowing with glee at the thought of the clever lines he can use to talk about it. The ESPN gamecast solved the problem by referring to them as OKST and OHST, which is no fun at all.
Vacation is proceeding nicely. Last night we ended up at Dave's house to watch Shaun of the Dead and old James Bonds movies (they were on TV and we were not inclined to go out and, you know, actually do stuff). I hadn't seen SotD yet. It was funny, but not as good as it had been hyped up to be. It definitely did have its moments and was a pretty solid film, but I'm kind of glad I didn't see it in the theaters. It seemed to be more a quality rental movie than something you'd brave the lines and prices at Loews for. I swear to god I just typed that as 'Lowe's' 5 or 6 times before I got it right. For the sake of the Sox I hope he just signs with someone else already. For the sake of the Tigers I hope that, if they do sign him, it's for a reasonable price.
This afternoon I ended up in the South End with my parents. Apparently there's a burgeoning artists' community there, and I hadn't seen it at all. This is mostly because I haven't, erm, actually really been in the South End before today. I know, I know, I live in Massachusetts. I get into the city about a billion times each year, sometimes commuting in daily during the summer for art classes (thank you Massachusetts College of Art). And I'd never been to the South End. I am a horrible Massachuesettian. In my defense, I'm not at all sure that the T (subway, for you nonMAians-- like it's the L in Chicago, see?) runs out thataway. I don't really drive in the city, so if something isn't on the subway line or within relatively easy walking distance from a T stop, I'm not likely to end up there.
So today we went to the South End to see what there was to see. An organization calling itself the Boston Center for the Arts is there, and this is where we ended up. They have some snazzy theaters and a very old performance space called the Cyclorama, which has the most amazing ancient beaded light fixtures I may ever see. They also have a little gallery for more 'traditional' art (i.e. not performance) that's perhaps a little smaller than the first floor of the WORK gallery in Ann Arbor. Above this gallery is a building with a bunch of artists' studios in it. We checked out the Cyclorama thing and the Miller Gallery. It was kind of neat to see this little artist community growing up in Boston. Hmm. I wonder how one goes about getting one of those studios...
Tomorrow I think I'm waking up early to head up to Plum Island and see if there are any birds around (my mother and I went birding in Nahant a couple of days ago and saw tons of stuff... all manner of fancy ducks and loons), and then we're possibly venturing out to the DeCordova in Lincoln later that day. Yes. Birding and modern art museum. There's probably a special word for the particular dork niche that I occupy, but I can't think of one.
I've got a rant blog that's been conking around in my head for a while now, so when I get a good time to sit down, collect some links and bang it out I will. Should be a good one, as it's been fermenting for ages. The topic will be RantBlog: Why do the Red Sox seem to have about 300 times more high and mid-quality blogs than any other major league team, and possibly any other sports team? I'll try to make it interesting for those of you who aren't into sports or sports blogging (mostly by bashing a lot of other websites, which is always fun for all readers). Just a little something for you lot to be on the lookout for.
Tuesday, December 28, 2004
Forward down the field,
A charging team that will not yield!
When the Blue and Silver wave,
Stand and cheer the brave!
Rah! Rah! Rah!
Go hard, win the game!
With honor you will keep your fame!
Down the field and gain
A Lions Victory!
Been a while since I put that up, hasn't it?
The Lions cobbled together a win against the Bears this past Sunday, using a dash of Kevin Jones, a smidgen of Jason Hanson, a touch of dubious play calling by the refs, and a whole lot of superglue. The whole thing is pretty structurally unsound, but by god, there it stands.
Since I'm home I didn't get to actually see the game (not a real attention-getter here in the land of the AFC East). I did get a semblance of play-by-play from my dad, who was watching the gamecast on the magical internet, but it's not the same at all. For one thing, you don't get the shots of Joey Harrington's brow crinkling up in agony on the sidelines after he's made a perplexingly bad play. For another, you don't get extremely questionable calls explained or even noted.
At the end of the game, the Lions had won 13-19, and so far as we were concerned that was a perfectly valid, unimpeachable score. Not exactly a lovely, round score that shows a healthy balance of running and passing and, uh, actual offense, but still. A respectable win.
Later that day we were watching the evening ESPN game. At halftime they showed highlights from earlier games, including a short clip from the Lions game. We watched a Bears receiver reach up for the football, come down with it in the endzone, badgered all the while by a Detroit defender, but appearing to make the catch. We were informed that this would have been the game-winning touchdown for the Bears, but it was ruled incomplete by the refs on the field and upheld as such upon review. Allegedly the receiver wasn't in complete control of the ball when he hit the ground-- I don't know, we only saw one short clip of this, so it was impossible for us to tell. The brief glimpse I had of the play certainly looked like a Chicago touchdown, but, well...
Hey. What the heck did this game mean? It means that the Lions are guaranteed to not be dead last in their division. It means that the Lions will have won at least 6 games this year, which is more than they've won in the past 3 seasons (5 last year, 3 the year before that, and a wince-inducing 2 the year before that). It means that the Bears get a better draft pick. Let us have this one, people. Neither team is in contention for the playoffs, and after that muffed extra point I think we deserve a little hint of favorable winds.
Kevin Jones is a stud. He had better not get hurt, because he is looking like a mighty fine Lion for the as-yet untarnished future that is next season.
The Patriots beat the Jets 23-7, which means that the Pats locked up the first week bye, which they will certainly need due to their very banged-up defense, especially their secondary. Coming off of last week's orange-jersied embarassment, this was a big game for New England. After going 18-29 with 4 interceptions last week, Brady came back and threw 21-32 with no interceptions. Whatever inexplicable problems the Patriots seem to have with the Fins (they've only won one game in the past seven they've played in Miami), they proved that their quarterback and their team are strong enough to bounce back from such dismal outings.
Richard Seymour hurt his knee and went out of the game. I'm not sure how long he's going to be out, they're saying anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks, depending on how it heals up. This is bad. We seriously could not afford to lose anyone else on defense. Heck, we can't afford to lose people on offense, but there are only so many guys we can dredge up and put in positions that they weren't originally playing. Cleverness and an all-round solid team will get you far, but I'm not sure if it will get you all the way to the end.
Of course, this also raises the question of whether or not an injury-riddled Patriots team that lost to the now 4-11 Dolphins is sufficiently equipped to roll into Pittsburgh in the midst of playoff fever and knock off the Steelers. I know the Jets aren't exactly a slouch team (or, at least, they very much don't want to be) but the Steelers on a roll at home are another matter entirely. Because, awful as it is to contemplate, Ben Roethlisbergerererererr apparently is Superman. Damn.
At least I can amuse myself by picturing how the New York media must have ripped Chad Pennington to pieces. A week previous to this he had blown off the media, and then held a press conference to chide them sternly for their deplorable press-mongering ways. It was possibly the best press conference I have ever seen. There's got to be video of it available somewhere, if you can find it you need to watch it. Hilarious. Amazing. Awesome. Anyways, since he went out the next week and lost a big game I can only imagine the carnage.
I also watched the Miami/Cleveland game. There is almost nothing I can say that will fully encompass the disgust that I felt watching it. The announcers were sarcastic and clearly annoyed that they had been stuck with this horrible game. There were two touchdowns in the first quarter, and that was it. Let me emphasize this a little more clearly: the game was 7-7 for 3 and a half quarters.
We got to see poor AJ Feeley get smacked around some more. I'm convinced he could be the answer for the Fins if they would just get an offensive line that didn't suck more than an army of crazed housewives wielding Hoovers. As it is he's got to be one of the most smacked-around quarterbacks in the NFL.
The agony ended when Olindo Mare kicked a field goal inside the last two minutes of the 4th quarter. The relief I felt at realizing the game would not go into overtime was almost palpable. I literally got a rush of joy when it became evident that I would not have to sit and watch two teams trade interceptions and pathetic attempts at ball movement any longer than was absolutely necessary.
I know that they won, but it still has to be asked: How the hell did this team beat the Patriots?
I shall close the football bit with a particularly poignant image from this weekend's football offerings. His name is Larry Fitzgerald, and he plays for the Arizona Cardinals.
His pants have come undone.
I'm still at home, still trying to cram as much slothfulness as is humanly possible into my heinously short winter break. We got about a foot of snow a couple of days ago, and the roads were horrible yesterday. I spun out twice on the way to pick up Kate last night. Twice. Once I slid around sideways and nearly ended up in the middle of a major intersection. The second time I skidded at a red light and almost rammed into a parked car. Thankfully, most everyone in this town goes to bed at or before 10 pm, so the roads were essentially empty. If this had happened in the middle of the day... oy. It must have been the road conditions, because I was going somewhere between 20-25 mph on 30 mph roads when this happened. Of course, it also could have had something to do with the fact that the anti-lock brakes on my car appear to be shot (it's in the shop right now), but the ice and snow on the roads was really just atrocious.
The good bit was that I got to see Kate, Helene, and Noah. Kate and Helene only hung around for a little bit, because they are lazy buggers (in reality, they both had to get up early, but it amounts to the same thing), but Noah hung around for a while chatting and attempting to molest my cat. Because the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Baseball has been relatively quiet after the Jason Varitek signing-- not that we need anything immediate to get done after this, mind you. I'm still quivering with glee that the deal got done.
I suppose that's about it. Oh, well, except of course for this, which has to be said:
RIP Reggie White
Eagles, Packers, Panthers. A heck of a tackler. He wasn't on any of my teams, but he was a huge presence in the NFL, both literally and otherwise. 43 is too young. Condolences to all who knew and loved the big guy.
Friday, December 24, 2004
We got our guy! Our quarterback (as Bronson Arroyo said), our leader, our heart and soul, our preparation freak, our ARod masher, our catcher.
Apparently the Red Sox not only resigned Jason Varitek (4 years, $40 million), they surprised him at the press conference by presenting him with a jersey boasting an embroidered red 'C'. Varitek's been the de facto captain of the Sox for some time now, but there hadn't been an official Team Captain since Jim Rice in 1989. After hearing essentially every player come out and say that they needed to resign him (including the backup catcher, Doug Mirabelli, who would actually have benefited from 'Tek not coming back and the new pitchers we picked up, who said they were looking forward to getting a chance to work with him), it's nice to see that the front office chose to formally acknowledge his importance to the team.
I'm certainly glad that he's back. Not only was he important to the team because they all like him and look to him as a leader, he was important because we needed a catcher, and there wasn't much else out there. People are complaining (because, for Red Sox fans, nothing will ever stem the flow of complaints) about the length and heft of the contract, and I admit that it is a bit overlong and, uh, overhefty. At the end of 4 years Varitek is going to be a 38 year old catcher, which is generally an age at which catchers have ceased to be even remotely effective. If he does decline normally, that means we'll be paying out $10 million for a guy who isn't getting the job done.
He might not decline that precipitously, though. The numbers might indicate that this is the normal progression for catchers (i.e. downturn in the early 30s, useless in the late 30s), but there have been exceptions here and there-- such as Sox catcher Carlton Fisk, who was quite good at 37. 'Tek also might have less wear-and-tear on him than other catchers at his age, because he missed time in the past with a broken elbow. Less playing time in past seasons means less wear on his knees, which might mean that his longevity could be greater than one would expect for another catcher.
But all of this is beside the point. The point is this: if not 'Tek, who? It would have had to be some sort of platoon with Mirabelli and someone, and quite frankly I did not like any of the prospects on the market. So far as I'm concerned 'Tek is second only to Pudge, who was not on the market. There are better defensive catchers out there, but do they have comparable offense? And a catcher who can hit is lovely, but not if his defense is abysmal. 'Tek does both. Not as well as Pudge, but certainly better than most everyone else out there. If we didn't want to deal with a large downgrade at the catcher position, we needed to resign 'Tek.
Anyways, I think I bored everyone with that (I know my mother's eyes are glazing over as she reads this), so enough of the foolish attempt at seriousness. I'm happy the dude is back, and if you're not, I stick my tongue out in your general direction. Oh, and apparently Theo Epstein has stolen Varitek's goatee. This needs to stop right now. Theo, you look much better clean-shaven. 'Tek, you look much better with the goatee. Stop these unnatural shenanigans before it is too late.
Oh, and I may as well extend a hearty congrats to Jason Varitek on his alma mater's fine performance in the Champ Sports Bowl. Georgia Tech slaughtered Syracuse. Hooray, your team won in a shit bowl that essentially no one watched or, indeed, cared about! I wonder if he called Nomar up to celebrate?
Yes, I am indeed at home now, in the lovely East. I've been hanging out with Jess quite a bit because she's leaving for Israel shortly and will not return until I am already back at school. Thank you University of Michigan for having the shortest winter break imaginable. It turns out that almost all my local friends are going off on vacations, since they all have month-long breaks and whatnot. Fine, except that apparently a lot of them are not going to be around for my short window of nonschooling. Lovely. You all suck.
On the brighter side: CATS. Yes, I have reachieved cat access. After spending two or so months dissecting the critters, it is unspeakably wonderful to get them whole, warm, and breathing. Except that I now have the disorienting and occasionally worrying ability to pick them up, cuddle them, and name the muscles that I'm running my fingers over. For instance, I'll cradle Miranda and start to stroke her under the chin, only to suddenly find myself thinking, "And this here is the digastricus..."
A rather unfortunate and unexpected side effect of that class. I'm hoping it will wear off with time, but it hasn't shown any sign of abating yet. We shall have to wait and see.
Since I did the 8 Days of Jewish Baseball in honor of Chanukah, I suppose I would be remiss if I did not extend a seasonal greeting to the goyim readers of this blog. Now, I'm no theology major, so I won't pretend to know lots of fun facts about the holiday. I'll restrict myself to saying, A Merry Christmas to y'all. It's a fine holiday, and one that we can all appreciate.
After all, how can a holiday go wrong when it's celebrating the birth of Johnny Damon?
edit: I almost forgot, there was football today. Vikings/Packers. The Packers won, thereby clinching the NFC North and making me sort of happy. If you refer back to a previous post you know that, against all reason, I like the Green Bay Packers. And I naturally dislike the Viqueens, so, um, huzzah. Go Pack Go.
Tuesday, December 21, 2004
Boy, what a great weekend this was! The temperatures dropped into the subzeros, and I spent the entire time studying for a biology final that I still think I did poorly on. MAJESTIC.
And the Lions, of course, did what the Lions do. See yesterday's blog for the sad, sad details.
Anyways, it was Monday night. For good or for ill I had finished the biology test, and that was that for the semester. All I wanted to do was sit back, dick around online, and watch the Patriots play some good football. A little balm for my wounded football-fan soul. Maybe a miracle would happen in Baseball Land and 'Tek would accept arbitration or something.
Instead, what do I get?
Bye, Cabby. You were funny, you were enthusiastic, you had those ridiculous at-bats where you would hack at all the wrong balls and then send one over the Monstah. You helped an entire Nation get over the Nomar debacle. Watching you do your little dances with Pokey was inexpressibly delightful.
Thanks for everything. I'll miss you, and Boston will miss you. Best of luck with the Angels, I'll be rooting for you.
Bye, Dave Roberts. Dammit. This is hard. I really got attached to you, even if you were only on the team for a short time and were a bench player for most of it. It's possible that you ended up being the single most important bench player in the history of the Boston Red Sox. If you don't come in and make that run, if you don't steal that base, we have no hardware to hoist. Whenever I saw you coming off the bench I would get excited, because it was just that much fun watching you run the bases.
I hear tell that you grew up in San Diego a huge Padres fan, so you're really excited to play there. You'll also be starting, which you wouldn't have done here, so I guess that was incentive. I'm glad you're going somewhere you'll be happy.
Thanks for everything. I'll miss you, and Boston will miss you. Best of luck with the Padres, I'll be rooting for you.
*wipes little tears from eyes*
And, wouldn't you know, on top of that we get this.
29-28. Dolphins over Patriots.
And you know, the horrible thing is, if it had been almost any other team in the NFL, I would have been so happy for the Fins. I would have loved to see them win against the Steelers, or the Colts, or the Chargers, or any other top-ranked AFC team. Did it have to be the Patriots? I know they're still going to the playoffs, but on top of the Sox losing two of their most fun players (even if we knew Cabrera was going as soon as we signed Edgah Renteriah) and especially on the heels of that most hideous of Lions losses...
Let's just say that this was not what I needed right now.
Sunday, December 19, 2004
4th quarter. Lions/Vikings, in Detroit. The Vikings were up 28-20, Lions driving. Joey Harrington, playing through the flu, had showed immense heart all game. He had played so well that people were speculating that being sick actually made him play better-- kept him from overthinking his game and getting too analytical about his throws.
Amazing things had been happening. Joey had thrown a long laser to Az-Hakim. Az had run with it, been wrapped up, and flipped it backwards to Bryson, who had kept running with it. A two-point conversion had been missed, but a penalty had given us a second chance, and we had made it.
Roy Williams had just caught a touchdown with 12 seconds remaining in the game, making it 28-27. All the Lions needed to do in order to tie the game and send it into overtime was make the extra point. Nice and simple, no bad weather or dicey winds in the domed Ford Field. Excellent turf. A damn good kicker in Jason Hanson. One point.
And then it would have been overtime, and anything might have happened. Heck, the Vikings might have still scored, in the end. It would have hurt to lose, but it would have been something you could understand, a kind of loss that would be painful but comprehensible. Oh well, you could grumble. Just the Pepperhead doing his old thing, just Moss making another crazy catch, just Joey sneezing at the wrong time and throwing the ball a few feet away from where it should have gone. Same old Lions.
But maybe the Lions could have won. Maybe Williams would have made another tiptoe catch, coming down gingerly on his tender hip. Maybe Kevin Jones would have found a hole in the defense and run through it. Maybe Joey would have thrown a beauty, maybe Hanson would have kicked in a 45-footer. The Lions of the start of the season, the Lions we all thought we were going to get to see: young quarterback, young running back, young receivers, bringing the glory back to the old Honolulu-blue-and-silver. Restoring the Roar.
Just one kick. One simple, simple kick. Line up. Muhlbach snaps the ball. Nick Harris catches and sets the ball. Hanson kicks the ball. Just that.
Of course, these are the Lions...
Above all, these are the Lions.
There's almost no way for me to describe what this did to me. When Roy Williams scored that touchdown, I was ecstatic. Screaming in joy. Overtime! Against the hated Viqueens! George came running in from around the corner-- he likes to watch Lions games in seclusion, because he gets too nervous watching them with other people, but he'll come in at halftime or the end of a game. We high-fived, 'Can you believe this?'ed, and turned around to watch the extra point.
No. Fucking. Way.
Muhlbach muffed the snap. Replay showed the ball come backwards through his legs, angled downwards. It scuttered over the turf like a frightened armadillo. Harris tried to pick it up from the ground, realized that the Vikings were coming through the line, and half stood up with the ball, only to be drilled by the oncoming purple helmets. Hanson took a couple of uncertain steps back, confused and shocked, trying to figure out where the ball was, what he was supposed to do with himself.
On the sideline, Joey Harrington looked skyward, his scruffy beard and reddened eyes making him look like a maudlin drunk. How much of this was despair at what had just happened and how much of it was due to the flu was impossible to tell. The TV cameras zoomed in on Mooch. His eyes were wide, his plasticly mobile face frozen in horror and disbelief. A few minutes later he had mastered himself enough to go over and comfort Muhlbach, who was sitting alone on the bench in a morass of utter shame, but the moment was there and no matter what he might say afterwards to the press or to his players it was plain to see that Mooch knew as well as anyone that the game had been within reach, right then, and then inexplicably lost.
In my dorm room, I was curled up in my desk chair, head grasped in hands-- a position anyone who watched the first 3 ALCS games with me would immediately recognize. It's the 'oh shit' position, the 'brace yourself for terrible agony' position, the 'I can't believe my team just imploded like that' position. "No way," I was saying. "No way. No way. How is that even possible? How does that even happen?"
Behind me, standing up, George was completely silent.
After a frozen 5 minutes, in which we couldn't even look at one another, he shook himself a little. Shook his head, and went for the door, to go handle the horror in the privacy of his own room. "How was that even possible?" I asked again just as he reached the door. Rhetorically. There wasn't really any answer.
He turned around, hand on the handle, every bit of his body language saying 'slumping defeat'. "I've seen it so many times," he said. "It just makes me want to fuckin' cry."
They just showed part of the postgame press conference on Sportscenter. Joey Harrington looked dead. I literally couldn't understand what he was saying, his voice was so thick with sickness and despair. It didn't even look like his eyes were focussing properly.
The Lions messageboard wasn't taking it much better.
holygoat: Wow. I have now seen everything. There are officially no more ways for the Lions to lose games.
nwilcox: This is un freakin believable !!!! Jsut when I thought last week loss was bad.
tigersfan25: The funny thing about this is just second before that XP got off, the thought had crossed my mind about that happeneing.. Little did I know that it would happen.
The Ronz: This is one of the more unbelievable losses that I have seen in 30 years of watching the Lions.
Big Toe: I knew it. I saw it coming. I guess I've been a Lion fan too long. When they took so long to hike it, I just knew we'd miss it or something would happen. I have to admit, I feel badly for Muhlbach. He'll obviously never play an NFL down after this season and this will be his primary NFL memory for the rest of his life. As for us, we're ****ing used to it.
Mattingly70: This is maybe the worst loss since the Eddie Payton return on Thanksgiving.
Kamakzie: We are officially cursed.....
kpking3032: every curse needs a cute nickname though...the billy goat, bambino, etc....what the hell is the Lions curse name?
nwilcox: Millen-Cahonaes Curse. This organization has been a complete joke since this moron has been part of this organization. The next time I see his face on a TV I sure hope it is the press conference that says he ownt be back next season.
Yoda: We weren't winning many playoff games before he got here either. It's the Lions.
And finally, this lovely little tidbit:
Buddha: If ever there was one play that symbolized the entire history of this franchise, that was it. I've never laughed so hard at the end of a Lions' game. Pathetic. What else can you say?
Joey looked real good. Finally they threw the ball downfield! The defense couldn't come up with the big stop (as usual) but the offense bailed them out. And what happens? The unthinkable. Hilarious.
Why is Brock Marion on this team? And can someone please teach Teddy Lehman to tackle? Please?
If they lose to the Bears next week, it'll be a travesty. It'll be the Bears offense versus the Lions defense. Come one! Come all! Watch the moveable object battle the resistable force for the right NOT to finish last in the NFC North!
Whoopee doo. Excuse me, but I have to go see which free agent the Tigers didn't make an offer to, which last place team just held the Pistons to 70 points and which walk on just turned the ball over for Michigan.
It's the MOST wonderful time of the year....
The only good thing to come out of today was that Heather came over (later, after I had somewhat mastered myself) to talk Maya and order in Pizza House pizza. Extra mozzarella is a small consolation, but it's the most I can get. There's ice forming on the inside of my windows, because the heating vent won't turn on and the temperature today was a balmy -12. Did I mention the biology final tomorrow that I literally cannot study enough for?
If you'll excuse me, I think I'll just go microwave my head now.
Friday, December 17, 2004
And we now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.
This morning I woke up early to watch Cold Pizza, because I had to get up and study anyways, and I had heard that Bronson Arroyo was going to be on. He was. He played guitar and sang, it was ace. I have been relatively resistant to the entire Bronson Arroyo Hotness Appreciation Club (I mean, come on people, this is a team with Bill Mueller on it), but I have to admit that he looked awfully good here. At least, until one of the host ladies talked him into taking off his ski hat. He was extremely reluctant, saying that he had taken out the cornrows and ever since he "had a bad hair day." It was pretty messy, so I guess we'll have to wait and see what he does with it for the start of the season.
I also noticed that, during his interview, there was a foam Wolverine hat in the background, sitting on the set. Either one of the hosts or someone in the crew clearly went to Michigan. Props to whoever was responsible.
It has been insane around here lately, what with final tests, final projects, final presentations, anticipation for the upcoming Orgy of Bowls, and the Painfully Hot Stove. I know I've missed writing about a lot of it, due to the 8 Days, but I shall now attempt to catch up.
We had our art lecture final presentation, which involved everyone setting up their projects in the main hallway and walking up and down, quietly examining everyone else's work and holding intelligent conversations on the subjects addressed therein, while the GSIs worked their way down the room in a timely fashion, taking notes and grading everyone's projects.
If you believe that, I've got a slightly-used bridge to sell you.
Come on, did anyone really think that this was a good idea? Gee, let's have around 200 ART STUDENTS cramming their finals into ONE HALLWAY, what a SPLENDID IDEA. People saw their own projects, and the projects of their own particular friends, and then decided that there was nothing else that needed doing. There were groups of people lounging on the couches, there were groups of people chatting animatedly (and most assuredly not about art) in happily social clumps all over the hall, there were huge portions of the class just plain old not doing anything related to either art or the lectures.
There were 3 or 4 extremely harassed GSIs discovering that they could only get through about 5 projects each in an hour. The main professor wandered up and down, completely oblivious to the chaos swirling around him, smiling in his usual dreamily mussed manner, convinced through some inexplicable filter in his brain that everything was going swimmingly.
My own group (there were 8 groups that we had met in for discussions during the semester) were all sitting in a far corner of the hall, bored out of our collective mind. I had brought in an enormous roll of masking tape to hang up posters and whatnot. This was appropriated by the group, and after Alex ran around our little seating area with it a few times so that we were all in a masking tape cage, he wadded it all up and made a tape ball. This was our entertainment. The tape ball was thrown at innocent passerby, used in impromptu soccer games, and generally worshipped as a savior of fun.
The whole event was a mess. But hey, we got our grades back already and I got a 98 on the thing, so who am I to complain?
We had to burn DVDs for our final digital portfolios. Lord only knows why we couldn't just burn the files to a regular (and, I might add, much cheaper) CD-R, but no. They wanted a fancy DVD production. The portfolio included all of our objects, rendered up nice and fancy. This meant the little, simpler objects and the final, insane ones. I did a tiger in a jungle. What you're seeing there is actually about 50 times smaller than the actual file, because there was no way I was uploading that behemoth to my webspace. It took about 9 hours to render on my computer, and I'm actually afraid to open the original Maya file now, because the thing is so massive that the mere act of opening it causes my entire computer to move slower than Kevin Millar in the outfield.
We also had to make a real 3D model, using the University's snazzy 3D printer. It's a process I am entirely enamoured with. You model your object in Maya (or some other 3D modelling program). You then feed the file into this printer and it prints your object, just like you feed a file into a regular printer and it prints your paper or poster or whatever. It does this by breaking down the object into a gazillion cross-sections and building it up out of superthin layers of starch. It all comes out in one piece, which you can then paint up all fanciful if you so desire.
I used my tiger model for this one too.
Oh, and I made a movie trailer centered around this thing, because we had to have an animation. I thought it was ridiculous, but my teacher seemed to really like it. Hopefully he will grade accordingly.
I'd post the animation, but the file's frikking huge and I am too lazy to compress it. So you get a still frame.
Biology is completely kicking my ass. Completely. I have no idea what my grade in that class is going to be, but let's put it this way: I really, really just hope at this point that I pass and end up with the credit. It's not that I'm not learning things in there, because I am. The problem is that I'm learning so much at once that I'm getting overwhelmed and bombing the tests. I like the subject, I'm having a good time in the labs and learning all this stuff that I'm actually interested in, but I just can't for the life of me handle the testing. Sigh.
I'm not even sure I can adequently rehash the Hot Stove right now, since it was Pleasantly Cool for so long, and all of a sudden exploded in a fireball of enormous meat-charring power (not entirely unlike what happens when my dad tries to barbeque). Let's see what we have so far in the way of big moves.
Carl Pavano to the Yankees. This was finalized today. I don't know, I really thought we had a chance here. We had the advantage of a glamorous winning team, the Curt Schilling mentor appeal, the insanely dedicated fanbase. I know Detroit was pushing hard to get him too, trotting out what meager resources they could (i.e. they had him spend a day with Al Kaline). And he went to the Yankees, because he liked Joe Torre? I just don't know. I hope he ends up being horribly overrated and having a very mediocre season.
David Wells to the Red Sox. Uh... what? You read correctly, mes amis. The overweight, overage pitcher has joined the Idiots, bringing with him 42 years, a Yankee past, a history of anti-Fenway quotes (he wanted to be there to push the button if they ever decided to demolish the park), and a liver more toxin-riddled than a formalin-preserved shark specimen. Make sense? If you throw in his left arm, 12-8 record last year, and his 3.73 ERA, it starts to. I'm not entirely convinced, but I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and wait until the season starts.
Troy Percival to the Tigers. A power closer on the Tigs, excellent! Now if only they could get some starting pitching... In any event, this is exciting because Percival is so excited about the Detroit club. Between him and Pudge, is it possible for the Tigers to convince other free agents that Detroit is a desireable place to be? We shall see.
Brad Radke resigned with the Twins. This is one of those things that make you jealous he's not on your team. In today's insane offseason market he could have commanded an imposing amount of money and years, but he really wanted to stay in Minnesota, so he resigned with them for what will ultimately be much less than he could have gotten on the open market. Of course, he's not exactly getting shafted with a 2 year, $18 million deal, but he still could have gotten more.
Tony Womack and Jaret Wright to the Yankees. Womack had a good year last year, but that was in the National League, and he had had a slump year before that, so hopefully he's due for a 2003 repeat. Wright has a history of shoulder problems and failed his initial physical with the Yanks, forcing him to take a second one (which he apparently passed). You never know, this could blow up midseason and cause all kinds on trouble in New York.
Adrian Beltre to the Mariners. Weird. Are the Mariner's going to be contenders next year? I know this is another player the Tigs were going hard after and didn't end up getting, making their postseaon look woefully anemic at this point. Anyways, Beltre got a sick 5 year, $64 mil contract, which is just going to set the market for Carlos Beltran even higher. As though Boras needed any encouragement on that point.
Edgar Renteria to the Red Sox. Edgah! If he performs like he has in the past, this could be great for the Sox. What I don't understand, though, is why we signed him to a 4 year deal. I (and everyone else in RSN) was under the impression that we had this incredible shortstop by the name of Hanley Ramirez coming up through our minors, and we wanted to sign a SS short-term this offseason, so that when the time came we could slide Hanley into the big leagues. This was why we didn't want to resign Cabby, because he was bound to ask for more than 1 or 2 years. So we turn around and sign Renteria, which I guess is OK, but for 4 years? What the dickens, people? If we're going to be trading Hanley anyways why didn't we just resign Cabby, which probably would have been both easier and cheaper?
Tim Hudson to the Braves. Well, someone finally managed to pry one of the Big 3 out of Oakland. Pity it wasn't us. He's relatively young, he's good, and he could only be acquired by a trade since he wasn't a free agent. Apparently we didn't have anything the A's were interested in. They got Dan Meyer, a lefty pitcher who's supposed to be a ridiculously good prospect, and two other guys named Charles Thomas and Juan Cruz. I suppose I always imagined it would take rather more than this to get Hudson out, but evidently not. The good news is that he's in the NL now, so we won't have to face him much.
Pedro Martinez to the Mets. It seems like everyone with access to a newspaper, computer, or TV camera has already weighed in on this one. Wild speculation is flying about the durability of Pedro's shoulder, and people who wouldn't know the difference between a scapula and a fibula if you whacked them over the head with the things are now speaking glibly about torn labrums and how they affect a pitcher. Curt Schilling is accusing Pedro of having his own rules, the Red Sox are saying that Pedro was unreasonable by not accepting their offer, Pedro is calling the Red Sox a bunch of disrespectful control-freaks, Derek Lowe is ducking in and saying the same, conspiracy theories are cropping up on SoSH, and the Mets are just pissed that on the one day they should finally make a big splash in the media, the Yankees come out and one-up them. More on that in a second, though.
The Pedro situation, so far as I am concerned, is very simple. He was great for us. Great. It would have been really, really nice to have him finish out his career and retire with us. I am upset that he is gone, because he was a stellar pitcher when he was on form and a damn good one even when he wasn't. He was fun to watch in the clubhouse, even if his antics sometimes made us wince (coming to the ballpark late always makes me nervous) or just shake our heads (one word: midget). I will miss him.
I did not, however, want us to sign him for 4 guaranteed years. I don't think he would last four years. In the NL, there's a bare possibility that he will, although I still think it more likely that after a couple of seasons his shoulder will blow out. In the AL I think there's no chance he would have made it through 3. So I'm upset that Pedro's gone, I wish him well in New York, but I'm glad we didn't sign him to that kind of contract.
And hey, bear in mind folks, it could always be worse. He could be a Yankee. Let us count our blessings, eh?
Randy Johnson to the Yankees. This isn't a done deal yet, but it's close. If it does go through, it would be a three-way trade involving the MFY, the Dbacks, and the Dodgers. The MFY would get Johnson, the Dbacks would get Brad Penny, Yhency Brazoban, and Shawn Green, the Dodgers would get the thin end of the stick. Well, technically they'd get Javier Vasquez and a couple of prospects, but they will have lost Green and Beltre in short order, leaving their lineup rather weak. I'm not sure why they would agree to this deal, and there's the additional stumbling block of Shawn Green, who has a no-trade clause and might not be so keen to waive it since he likes living and playing in LA.
If it gets done, though, we have to face the prospect of Randy Johnson in ridiculously long pinstripes. He could be as freakishly good as he traditionally has been, but there are a few things that could happen and work in our favor. He is getting up there in age, and has had some medical issues in the past, so there's always the chance that these crop up with reinforcements. Before Schilling went to Arizona he apparently had trouble dealing with high-pressure situations, which might make him uniquely suited for a breakdown in the maelstorm of the New York media. And hey, you never know, he could lose some ridiculously easy game to the Tigers or something and pull a Kevin Brown (i.e. put his hand through a wall). A gal can dream, right?
That's about it, except for the breaking news that the Red Sox appear to have reached a deal with Matt Clement. This is good. With Pedro gone, Lowe going, and Schilling's ankle on the slow road to full health, our starting rotation was starting to look scarily tenuous. Clement's no '99 Pedro, but hopefully he'll bolster things enough to hold the fort until Schilling is better and we can start looking at other guys to sign as they become available later in the season.
Blimey, I need sleep. An exciting weekend of studying, football, more studying, and more football awaits. Huzzah.
Thursday, December 16, 2004
8 Days of Jewish Baseball
Number 19; Right Fielder
Boston Red Sox
Yes, I know that Gabe is now a member of the Yomiuri Giants (think the Japanese equivalent of the Yankees-- more money and more pennants than anyone else in their league). But gosh darn it, he was a member of the 2004 WORLD CHAMPION BOSTON RED SOX, so he will always be one of them in our hearts. And I really wanted to start and end on the Red Sox. So sue me (or, as is more likely with you readers, So email me with long rants about how a player who's no longer with the MLB should be included in this thing).
Gabe Kapler. Variously referred to as Babe Kapler, the Hebrew Hammer, the World's Most Perfectly Sculpted Jew, SuperJew, and the Enforcer. He was a great utilityman for the Red Sox, playing when they needed him to play and never complaining about bench time. He was widely considered one of the smartest and most articulate players on the 2004 'Idiots' team, and he was alone in the eyes of female (and probably a few male) members of Red Sox Nation as the most awesomely built man on the field.
In this age of steroid abuse, you know it would come up for a guy who is so obviously well-cut as Kapler is. There are a few very good arguments against it in his case. Besides the fact that he very convincingly states that he does not and never has used steroids, Kapler has long been known for his bodybuilding hobby. Also, unlike Barry Bonds or Jason Giambi, Kapler has the same build now that he had when he was in the minors, and his head size/shape has not changed. I think it's safe to say that Kapler takes pride in his build (rightly so!) and got it by honest means.
Before being signed by the Red Sox in 2003, Kapler had played for the Tigers, Rangers, and Rockies. He played center field for the Rangers and in 2001 had only 1 error in 352 total chances and hit .267. In 2002 he hit .311 for the Rockies, but pretty much everyone improves their hitting when they have Coors as their homefield. In 2003 he hit .291 for the Red Sox and said, "Hitting in a lineup like this, its easy to see good pitches. Success breeds confidence. This has been an incredible experience all the way through."
Let us never forget his performance in the famous (infamous?) 2004 Red Sox/Yankee, Varitek/ARod brawl, in which he was attacked by WOTS*. This was clearly an insane thing for WOTS to do, because he may not be small but he's no Gabe Kapler. Kapler swung around and beat the bloody snot out of the Yankee. A truly beautiful day in baseball and in Red Sox history.
Kapler has admitted that while he is not a very strict practicing Jew (he did not sit out either Yom Kippur that Shawn Green sat out, although he was quoted both times as saying that he thought what Green was doing was commendable) he is very proud of his Jewish heritage. He puts more weight on the cultural aspect of his Judaism than the religious aspect of it: "That's where I identify the most: heritage, blood, history. I'm so proud to be who I am. I'm so proud of where I come from. I feel very strongly about being a strong Jew, not necessarily from a religious aspect." His mother apparently works at a Jewish pre-school.
As a prominent Jewish baseball player, Kapler has been a point of pride for the Jewish community. When he was in Colorado he said, "I've gotten my fair share of them [Bar Mitzvah invitations from fans]. During a game when I was in Detroit, I actually had an invitation to come over to this guy's house for Shabbat. He was yelling over the dugout, 'Gabe, we're Jewish and we'd like you to come over Friday night for Shabbat!' I respectfully turned down the invitation."
He was loved in Boston for all of these reasons, and Red Sox fans will miss him. Good luck in Japan, Gabe. You're always welcome back in Boston.
And, because it's the last day, Bonus Jew!
GM Boston Red Sox
He's young-- 28, and he'll turn 29 on Dec. 29. He's smart-- he graduated from Yale and was interning with the Orioles when he was 18. He's very good at his job-- hello, this is the guy who traded Nomar for Cabby and Mientkie, the guy who got us Schilling and Foulke, the guy who snagged us Dave Roberts, and oh yeah, the guy we won a FREAKING WORLD SERIES with. He's cute-- very, very cute. He plays guitar. He's Jewish.
I ask you. Could it possibly get any better than that?
That's the end of the 8 Days of Jewish Baseball. Hope you all enjoyed it thoroughly, because next year you're getting 8 Days of Jewish Football! Just kidding. I'm not even sure there are 8 Jewish football players in the NFL right now.
* WOTS = Worchester's Own Tanyon Sturtze. Kid who grew up in Worchester a Sox fan and ended up on the Yankees, wholeheartedly embracing them and their Yankee ways. The shame of Worchester, really. No ever-loyal Brad Ausmus here.
Wednesday, December 15, 2004
8 Days of Jewish Baseball
Number 15; First Base/Right Field (moved to 1B in 2004 following shoulder surgery)
Los Angeles Dodgers
Sorry this is so late. Between final projects and final tests I haven't had a spare second. I'm not done yet, mind, but I have a couple of days between this afternoon's lab practical (urgh) and Monday's biology final test (uuurgh) and I won't be studying the entire time, so hopefully I'll be able to catch up on here.
Anyways. Shawn Green.
If you were to ask 100 baseball fans from all over the country to name one current Jewish baseball player, 90 of them would name Shawn Green. The other 10 would be Red Sox fans and would name either Youkilis or Kapler, but the point is that, so far as almost everyone outside of Boston is concerned, Shawn Green is the Jewish ballplayer of the modern era.
This is not without reason. Green was very highly anticipated when he was traded to the Dodgers in 1999, both by the Dodgers themselves and the LA Jewish community. He didn't really break out until 2001 however, when he had career-highs in homeruns, RBI and total bases. He hit 49 homeruns that season, which set a Dodger single-season record. He appeared in more games that year than any other Dodger, playing in 161 of 162. The only game he missed was on Yom Kippur, when he famously refused to play, even though the holiday fell during the playoffs.
In 2002 he became the 14th player ever to hit four homeruns in one game. The bat that he used to hit the 4 homers was on display in the Baseball Hall of Fame as part of a 2002 Highlights exhibit. He went to the 2002 All-Star game as well.
Green's 2003 season is generally regarded as being weaker than it ought to have been, with him hitting .280 with 19 homeruns. Despite this, he still led the team in hits, RBI, runs scored, doubles, total bases, at-bats, and walks. It eventually came to light that Green had been playing with a shoulder injury all season, and in the off-season he had surgery on it. This was what prompted his shift from the outfield to first base, as the Dodgers decided that the infield would put less strain on the recovering right shoulder.
Something that worries Dodgers fans is that Green seems prone to batting slumps. This is in part because he has a long and sort of complicated swing, which either is working or isn't. When it is working, Green can churn out a 2002 season. When it isn't really working, he'll struggle for a while until he gets back on line.
One of the first things Green did when he got to LA was to meet with the legendary Jewish player and former Dodger Sandy Koufax, who is a bit of a hero to him. In fact, one of the reasons Green came to LA in the first place, rather than signing to a multi-year deal with Toronto (where he had had his breakout season) was that he wanted to play in "a major league city with a large Jewish population".
He has been active in the Jewish community of LA, taking part in various Jewish charities and the like. Still, he is most famous and most beloved by Jews for his much-publicized refusal to play on Yom Kippur, both in 2001 and again in 2004, despite the fact that in 2004 the Dodgers were in a close race with the Giants for the playoffs (a race that the Dodgers would eventually lose).
And, as if you needed any more reason to like the guy: Dave Roberts. Shawn Green. Imminent butt pat. Glee.
Tomorrow's Jewish Baseball Player of the Day is (was?) number 19. And if you don't know who that is (and can't guess, tomorrow being the last day), I am verily ashamed of you.
Monday, December 13, 2004
Nothing to say.
8 Days of Jewish Baseball will continue tomorrow (probably late due to finals).
edit: Sorry folks, finals are kicking my ancestrally caudal region. DAYS 7 and 8 Wednesday and Thursday, then lots of rantings about finals, Pedro, football, Pedro, getting the hell out of this state for a couple of weeks, Pedro, all the weird stuff that's been going on, and probably Pedro.
Sunday, December 12, 2004
8 Days of Jewish Baseball
Number 48; Relief Pitcher
Justin Wayne is another relatively new player. He made his major league debut in 2002 with five starts and 16 strikeouts against 13 walks. The first game that he started was in New York (vs. Mets) and his parents flew in to watch him pitch. He was supposed to play for the Marlins in 2003, but he was put on the disabled list with leg problems, and when he came back was put into the Florida AAA club, the Albuquerque Isotopes (which might be one of the best minor league team names out there). In 2004 he was up and down from the minors with tendinitis in his shoulder, although early in the '04 season he had worked 18 relief outings.
After his injury the Marlins revamped their bullpen by trading for Billy Koch and calling up Josias Manzanillo, so when Wayne's shoulder was back his spot on the roster wasn't. I can't find much information on it, but I think he might have spent the rest of the Marlins' season (such as it was) at the AAA level.
He went to school at Stanford, where he went 6-0 with 6 saves working out of the bullpen his freshman year. In his junior year he led the Cardinal (and yes, that's supposed to be singular... there is no fathoming the weirdness that is the Stanford team name/mascot combination) to the College World Series final and was named co-Pac 10 Pitcher of the Year.
Wayne grew up in Honolulu, which not exactly your prototypical Jewish home state. He also has a brother named Hawkeye, which is not a typical Jewish name by any stretch of the imagination. Both his father and brother were baseball players in college.
I'd dig around for more info, but the Lions are playing in Lambeau and that plus biology studying requires a great deal of attention. Tomorrow's Jewish Baseball Player of the Day is number 15. Take a guess or wait and see.
Saturday, December 11, 2004
8 Days of Jewish Baseball
Number 39; Relief Pitcher
There isn't a whole lot of information out there on John Grabow, since he hasn't been playing in the majors for very long. He pitched in five games after a September callup in 2003, made the US Olympic qualifying team the same year, and was on the Pirates' 40-man roster for all of 2004. He began in the minors as a starting pitcher, but moved over to the bullpen. By the time he got to the majors he had started to make a name for himself as a specialist in getting out lefties (he pitches left-handed). I don't think he's quite as specialized as, say, Mike Myers... i.e. he still can pitch against righties, but I think he's better against lefties.
In 2002, when he was in the Pirates' AA system, he was tied for 2nd in the league in shutouts and tied for third in starts.
Grabow was raised a relatively nonreligious home, although it was apparently quasi-kosher (probably something like what I do... no pigbits, no shellfish, but the plates can have milk and meat on them and I won't blow a gasket). His grandmother, however, is from Brooklyn and is very orthodox, to the point where visits to her house prompted Grabow to say, "Some of it I don't understand. I just ask which food I can put on which plates."
At a team banquet at the start of the 2004 season Grabow was approached by a man who gave him a list of Jewish major leaguers. He expressed surprise, saying that he didn't even realize people specifically followed Jewish players.
When asked if he would mind being the focal point of the Jewish community in Pittsburgh, Grabow said that he'd get a kick out of it. "That would be something that would be cool. My grandmother would really like that."
Any guy who think it's cool to be recognized as a Jewish player because his grandmother would like it is OK in my books.
Tomorrow's Jewish Ballplayer of the Day is number 48. Take a guess or wait and see.
Friday, December 10, 2004
8 Days of Jewish Baseball
Number 21; Pitcher
St. Louis Cardinals
Jason Marquis is considered one of the top arms in the National league. He's not putting up '99 Pedro numbers yet, but he's also only 26, so he has enormous potential. He can throw hard and can mix his fastball with a slider and a changeup (although the fastball is his favored pitch by far), but most of his problems so far have come from the fact that he tends to think too much about his mechanics when pitching. This seemingly hurts his control.
On his first major league win as a starter (in 2001, for the Braves) he was so excited about pitching in New York (against the Mets... he grew up in Staten Island) that the pitching coach had to come out and calm him down after only two pitches. One would assume, however, that these are things that can be ironed out as he gets older and more experienced, so he could definitely still become a powerhouse pitcher.
Of course, Johnny Damon, Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz, and Trot Nixon (swinging on a 3-0 pitch with the bases loaded!) made him into mincemeat in the BEST WORLD SERIES FOURTH GAME IN THE HISTORY OF EVER, but one has to recall that the entire Cardinals team failed to show up for that series. The Sox only got 3 runs that day. If the Cards' hitters had managed to live up to their reputation, Marquis' performance would have looked, well, tolerable at least.
He was invited to the MLB/Japan series in Japan that followed the World Series (Ortiz and Manny went), and although the MLB lost the game he relief-pitched in, the young Marquis didn't seem to care. "Going to the World Series was a dream. Just to top it all off, coming to Japan was definitely an honor. The phone call I got at the end of July asking if I was interested in coming was something I didn't expect. You read about these trips and it's great to have been a big part of it."
Marquis was raised in a Conservative household and attends synagogue on the High Holy days. In 2002, when he was with the Braves and a game fell on Yom Kippur, he created a bit of a stir by announcing that he would go to temple and would fast, but would be available to pitch in the game, which started a few hours before the end of the fast. He said that he had observed every fast since he was 13 and was capable of pitching while fasting.
Of course baseball fans jumped all over him for possibly threatening his pitching ability by fasting, and rabbis jumped all over him for saying that he would be available to pitch at all. But Marquis refused to compromise any further for either side, saying, "If they want to bash me, bash me, and if they want to praise me, praise me. I'm happy with my decision."
Tomorrow's Jewish Baseball Player of the Day is number 39. Take a guess or wait and see.
Thursday, December 09, 2004
8 Days of Jewish Football
Number 43; Relief Pitcher
Sorry this is so late, it's been a bit of a crazy day. Didn't get back from classes until 9:30. Urgh.
Anyways. Al Levine.
I was going to do Scott Schoeneweis of the White Sox today, but I read around and found that, even though his mother was Jewish, he 'doesn't identify himself as Jewish'. Thanks for nothing, Schoeneweis.
Levine, on the other hand, has said, "I get a lot of mail from Jewish fans, and am always more than happy to respond. I’m proud, actually. And when I’m watching sporting events, I always look to see which other athletes might be Jewish." That's more like it. He remembers his mother driving him right from Hebrew school to baseball practice when he was a kid.
He's bounced around a bit on teams in recent years. His 2003 season was split between the Royals and the Devil Rays, which must have just been depressing. And the * next to 'Detroit Tigers' under his name is because the Tigers recently declined to offer him arbitration, which means that it's extremely unlikely he'll be a Tiger again next year. There's no news yet as to where he'll end up.
He was, however, a member of the 2002 World Series Champs Anaheim Angels (better known as the Rally Monkey Year). I'm not sure if he was on the actual 25-man roster or not, but in any event he certainly helped them get there. There was a small fuss made in the (admittedly very clannish) Jewish journalistic community at the thought of two Jewish players on the Angel's roster, but then Schoeneweis had to go and get all pouty and religiously neutral.
I don't understand why players do this. I mean, you can say you're not really practicing but still identify yourself as Jewish if that was your upbringing (witness Gabe Kapler). The thing with Schoeneweis is, if you read through some of his comments, he seems to have gotten extremely defensive about being tagged as a Jewish baseball player. What about being Jewish bugs him so much? Oh no, I definitely don't want to be put in a category with Sandy Koufax and Hank Greenberg! Don't hang that label on me!
Which is why it's such a relief to see a guy like Al Levine, who makes no attempts to obscure or excuses for his religion. More of this sort of thing needs to happen.
And you thought that Bronson Arroyo got his leg up high in his pitching motion? Take a look at how Levine does it. The guy's practically touching his chin with his knee. This must be something to do with them both being tall (Arroyo's listed at 6'5, Levine at 6'3) and relatively skinny (both listed at 190). I guess it's how they generate pitching power. This is opposed to pitchers who are light but also shorter (like Pedro, who's 5'11, 180) and therefore don't have to reach for that 'oomph', or pitchers who are just big and powerful all over (like Schilling, who's 6'5, 235... that's the same height as Arroyo, and a good 45 pounds heavier. And that might be with Arroyo's numbers padded up and Curt's padded down).
Tomorrow's Jewish Baseball Player of the Day is number 21. Take a guess or wait and see.
Oh, and the fourth installment of Three Chicks Talk Football is up. Not as long as last time, I promise. Check it out.
Wednesday, December 08, 2004
8 Days of Jewish Baseball
Number 11; Catcher
Ausmus is generally known as a great defensive catcher. He won the Gold Glove award in 2001 and 2002, and in 2000 he set the AL single-season record for least passed balls. The Astros signed him to a two-year deal back in 2003 basely almost solely on his catching and play-calling abilities. This is true because his bat is extremely unimpressive, including a somewhat dismal .229 batting average in the '03 season. He's now 35, which is definitely getting up there for a catcher, so it's hard to say how much longer he'll be playing.
Brad Ausmus was fun to research, for a couple of reasons. First we have the fact that he's rather cute. Yeah, yeah I might have a hang-up for catchers in general ('Tek, Pudge...), but come on. Look at him! Awwwww.
It was also infinitely awesome for me to discover, in my great scourging of the internet, that Ausmus grew up in Connecticut and has always been a huge Red Sox fan. This lead to a truly heart-warming excerpt from a USA Today article written back when he was with the Tigers:
'Detroit catcher Brad Ausmus, a native of New Haven, Conn., was a Yankees-hater as a kid. Maybe that shouldn't be past tense.
Growing up, Ausmus made a sign of beads and glue that read "Yankees Stink!" and hung it in his room.
He confessed Monday that it's still hanging in his parent's house, even after Yankees manager Torre picked him for his first All-Star Game.
"If Joe Torre wants, I'll take it down," he said, then paused. "No, if he asks, I'll leave it. I'll just turn it around."'
Ausmus graduated from Dartmouth in 1991 with a degree in government. He was selected in the 1987 draft by the Yankees, but refused to sign until the Yankees relented and said that he could remain in classes while in the minors. I hate to be cliche about this, but his mother must have been so proud.
A couple of days ago I probably couldn't have told Brad Ausmus from the inexplicable and perfectly terrifying Astro's mascot. So it's rather nice to find that one of the few Jewish ballplayers today is a smart, skilled catcher with a lovable hatred of the Yankees.
Tomorrow's Jewish Ballplayer of the Day is number 43. Take a guess or wait and see.
Tuesday, December 07, 2004
Happy Chanukah everyone! I felt that, as this is the first Chanukah I will be spending away from home (last year it coincided with Winter Break, this year it does not), I needed to do something special to keep my spirits up. To keep me in that ol' holiday frame of mind, as it were.
Last night, as I bent feverishly over my biology notes, I was struck with an idea. A glorious idea! An idea that completely distracted me from the neurocranial cavity of the shark for a good solid 10 minutes. An idea that saw me punching keys at 1 am, trying to see if it was feasible.
And so, dear reader, I present to you the majestic
8 Days of Jewish Baseball
Every day (night) of Chanukah, this blog will feature a different Jewish professional baseball player. Thrilling stuff! I actually am kind of dorkily excited about it, because I initially thought there might not even be 8 Jewish ballplayers there. Miracle of miracles, a little judicious internet research proves that the oil will last for 8 days and then some. I have 11 guys on my list, which means that I'll actually have to omit a few. They'll be speaking Yiddish in the dugout before you know it.
DAY 1 of the 8 Days of Jewish Baseball will feature, to absolutely no one's surprise, a member of the Boston Red Sox. Because it's the first night, and the Red Sox must always be first.
Number 20; Third base
Boston Red Sox
I'm not sure it's possible for poor Youk to look more awkward, but oh well. For those of you who are not rabid Sox fans, Kevin Youkilis is a sort of utility third-baseman. He's been up and down from the minors most of the year, playing when the Sox need him to do so. He was, however, on the ALDS and World Series 25-man rosters. He's only 25, so his career could develop in almost any direction right now: he could remain a utilityman, or he could eventually turn into a bona fide, quality slugging third baseman.
Youkilis is a crowd favorite for Boston, as anyone who's been to a game he plays in will immediately see. The crowd in Fenway has taken to enthusiastically chanting 'Yooouuuukkkk' whenever he comes up to bat. He has been nicknamed 'The Greek God of Walks' (a reference to his greek-sounding last name and his ability to get tons of walks when he was in the minors), to which manager Terry Francona famously said, "I've seen Youkilis in the shower, and I wouldn't call him the Greek God of anything." Have I mentioned lately that I love the Red Sox?
Youk was raised in Cincinnati as a Conservative Jew. He went to and graduated from college, playing for the University of Cincinnati Bearcats. He's not extremely religious, but he goes to synogogue on all the high holidays (well, except Yom Kippur this year, which fell on the day of a Red Sox/Yankees game...) and generally does all the stuff needed to cement his position as a young, eligible Jewish ballplayer.
DAY 2's Jewish Baseball Player is Number 11. You can try to guess who he is, or wait until tomorrow.
edit: Readers, you have no need to email me your guesses. Please. My inbox can only take so much. And no, it is not Bill Mueller. Smartarses.
Monday, December 06, 2004
HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM! Sorry the Fins couldn't pull it off for you.
Forward down the field,
A charging team that will not yield!
When the Blue and Silver wave,
Stand and cheer the brave!
Rah! Rah! Rah!
Go hard, win the game!
With honor you will keep your fame!
Down the field and gain
A Lions Victory!
But I'll get to this in a second.
See, I put birthday greetings to my mother over the Lions victory song. Now that, that is true filial love.
This was a bizarre weekend, both in Life and in Sports. I suppose it can best be broken down by days. This'll still be a long entry. I know half of you will rejoice and half of you will curse at this news, but sorry. If it helps, most of the football stuff will be on Sunday (duh) and there will be baseball stuff at the very end.
Class in the afternoon, natch. I'm relatively certain I fell asleep partway through, because my notes start off sharp and crisp, sort of trail off the page and then suddenly regain their former comprehensible state. Oh well. It was the sexual organs lecture, and we'd already covered a lot of it in lab, so I probably didn't miss anything that I can't get out of the book. Marsupials have a bipartite reproductive system, which affords the males in my class something approaching endless joy. Is there an age where they're supposed to suddenly become mature, or is that something that just doesn't happen?
I spent the rest of the afternoon spraypainting a strip plug black. I had to take it outside, since I didn't have any particular desire to asphyxiate myself, but this ended up being an unfortunate thing. A note for all those who may wish to try this at some point: when you're hunched on the sidewalk, alternately blowing on your hands and manically shaking a can of spraypaint, protectively looming over a wet black strip plug lying in a muddle of ripped-up Michigan Dailys, you should be prepared to experience the full range of Odd Looks. This includes the Oh My God I'll Bet That's an Art Student Scum of the Earth! Scum of the Earth! sneer, the Is That Girl Insane?/Don't Make Eye Contact, Don't Make Eye Contact glance, and the OMiGawd I Would Never Do That It Would Totally Get All Over My Northface Jacket contemptuous sniff.
That night I went on a rampage of maddened wildness with Heather. It was utter debauchery. Totally uncalled-for. The sort of stuff that makes parents hide away their small children and makes old people write bitter letters to their local newspapers. The kind of depravity that only college campuses can properly foster.
We crashed a poetry reading at the Union.
What can I say? I'm wasting my college career.
I think I slept for most of Saturday afternoon. I then woke up, wrote a paper, read a book (Neuromancer, very psychadelic. Not as good as Snow Crash by a long shot, but it's sort of a landmark in the technopsychosexualscifi genre, so I read it), and finally got an idea for my art lecture final. That's the light pollution thing. Obviously I knew it was going to be on light pollution, but we're supposed to have a kind of 'narrative' or a 'point' to the whole thing. Being of a biological turn of mind, I scrawled up some nocturnal Ann Arbor residents in my usual inky style and superimposed them over the light pollution photos I'd taken.
This technically sort of skirts around the whole point of the class, which is the interaction of technology and society, but hopefully no one will notice that.
I spent Saturday night watching college football. Hawaii beat MSU, as I said in the previous, somewhat incoherent post. It was glorious. Now Hawaii, there's a football team I can't understand. They're killer at home, their quarterback has the most passing yards of any college football quarterback ever (he broke Ty Detmer's record earlier this season). And yet, they have a 7-5 overall record, because they suck on the road. Suck, as in, they lost 69-3 to Boise State and 70-14 to Fresno State. But they never scored less than 28 points at home, and won all but one of their home games.
Just weird. Anyways, good season for Timmy Chang, and he gets to play in that ridiculous Hawaii Bowl, but he'll suck if he gets drafted. If you break down that badly, that consistently on the road, there's almost no way you can succeed at the next level.
For the record, I have no idea why I care. I mean, Hawaii? What the hell, people? When I start having to demand explanations from my own brain, that's when you know those spraypaint fumes weren't as well-ventilated as you thought.
--Notes from the Lions game--
Oh man Joey's growing a scruff, I die of teh hot!
3-and-out, 3-and-out to start the game, someone kill me now.
"Navarre certainly not the most mobile quarterback."
Neither QB making good decisions, Joey one interception, Navarre four.
Kevin Jones nice runs. Seriously.
Is either team a real running or passing team? Seems like we all suck at everything.
Field goals instead of TDs, not again.
Dre Bly, giving us all a reason to live!
Thom Brenneman, in shocked voice, "You look at the 4th quarter numbers on Joey Harrington, they're pretty good!"
So it wasn't pretty, it wasn't stylish, it was at home against a rookie quarterback starting his first game, but by gosh it was a Lions Victory! Joey completed 15 of 27 passes for 196 yards, and if that seems low it's because running back Kevin Jones finally had the breakout game we've been waiting for and had 26 carries for, eerily enough, 196 yards. This included a 74-yard run that was the longest for a Lion since Barry Sanders' 80-yard touchdown in 1997 (obviously this doesn't include kick-off and punt returns, or Eddie Drummond would have that distinction). Could we be looking at the next Barry Sanders here? It's too early to tell, but a shot of good offense feels awfully good right now.
Jason Hanson scored 14 points all by his lonesome, putting up 4 field goals and two extra points. Ridiculous. There's no way we should have ended some of those drives in field goals. He also put a painful-looking tackle on Bryant Johnson of the Cards, who was in the process of returning a kickoff for 47 yards. Hanson later said, "That wasn't a tackle. That one hurt... I can't tell if he's going to go out of bounds, or going to cut. Option three is, blow up the kicker. I held on." Yes you did. Thank Cats.
Tai Streets (Michigan grad) had his first touchdown with the Lions. Teddy Lehman and James Hall (Michigan grad) had their first career interceptions. Dre Bly, awesome little Dre Bly, had two interceptions. Two! For a Lion? My god, that's as good as 50.
Dre Bly, we love you, but please secure the ball when you are running with it.
On a moderately related note, I just trotted over to the Cards site to see if they had any better game photos than the Lions site has (they do not), and found this article. Apparently Pat Tillman was killed by his own platoon. Truly grotendous.
I then watched the highly-touted Eagles/Packers game. I don't really want to get into it, it was horribly disappointing. Favre ended up looking his age, plus 10. McNabb had yet another one of those plays that I watch with my mouth hanging open in shock. This time he had Cullen Jenkins literally wrapped around his ankle. McNabb hopped up a few steps, calmly looking for a receiver, dragging the rabid defensemen along. He then put his wrong leg forward, lofted the ball, and completed the pass. It was unreal. I'm starting to expect these sorts of plays from him, though, that's the scary bit.
Meredith has some good things to say about the game if you're looking for more insightful input/a markedly more interesting read.
As I madly rendered a 3-dimensional tiger for digital class, under the panicked and apparently mistaken impression that it was due this morning (*twitch* *twitch*), I sort of watched the Steelers/Jaguars game. It was interesting hearing about Roethlisbergerererer and Leftwich before the game. Apparently they're good friends, since they were both MAC quarterbacks at the same time-- The Burger for the awkwardly-named Miami of Ohio, Brainy Byron for Marshall. They had dinner together the night before the game, and Roethlisbergergereer had to pay because Marshall had beaten Miami (OH) when they played each other earlier in the college football season.
Sadly, this did not translate into professional victory. To give the Jags credit, they fully lived up to their Cardiac nickname, and the game was lost because their kicker barely (barely!) missed a 60-some-odd yard field goal in the final seconds. It was a battle that they fought well, but not well enough. Which brings us back to that drawing up by the top of this entry.
Pats fans-- how're we doing? Nervous yet? Sure, we put the proverbial smack down on Cleveland this week, winning by the gaudy margin of 42-15 and cleanly blowing all my nice theories about the Pats doing just what it took to win right out of the water. Sure, we've proven that we can play ball with cornerbacks we picked up off the floor of the Government Center subway stop. Sure, we've shown that we're a Team-with-a-capital-T and that this will carry you far in the NFL.
But what happens if, god and Bill Belichik forbid, someone indispensible gets hurt? Corey Dillon? We already saw what happens when he's out of the game (send your minds back to that dark, dismal time known as The Loss...if, that is, you can stand to face the madness). What if Brady gets hurt?
And what about those pesky pretenders to the throne, those who would challenge our red-silver-and-blue supremacy? What scares you more, NASCAR-addicted Colts fans or by-all-accounts-completely-insane Steelers fans? Infinite Audible Man or The Burger? Marvin 'I can't think of anything funny' Harrison or Plexiglass Burress? Horseshoes or that inexplicable tri-star thing?
I worry, I do. The Steelers are way too close for comfort (and with that ugly tie-breaking advantage over the Pats), and the Colts are putting up points like they're Louisville.
Anyways, baseball! I assume pretty much everyone and their small hairless dog has heard about this by now, but just in case you and your canine companion don't follow the news, feast your eyes on the recent tale of Anna Benson, wife of Mets pitcher Kris Benson. To put it bluntly, she has threatened to sleep with everyone on his team, including staff, if she ever catches him cheating on her. This may be something that would have been better left private, but you have to give her credit for recognizing a potential situation and, uh, diffusing it. Sort of. Who am I kidding, the whole thing's hilarious.
Jason Varitek wants to stay in Boston. Please let it be so. I've said it before and I'll say it again: I want 'Tek back on this team. I don't want him tied up for a long contract, but the market for catchers is so thin this offseason that if we don't get him, we're going to be in a tight spot.
The Yankees dumped Kenny Lofton onto the Phillies. Making room for Beltran? Who knows. They've still got Bernie 'Guitarman' Williams in center, but I guess he's movable. Beltran's good, but are even the Yankees willing to pay the ridiculous money Boras is asking for? Especially if they can't somehow void Giambi's contract and are still paying out cash to Slappy McBluelips and Jeter. Hmm.
Tomorrow is the last day for clubs to offer free arbitration to their players. Friday the winter meetings start.
Say it with me, kids. "I will not hyperventilate while watching Sportscenter during this time. I will not take my laptop to classes that do not necessitate the use of a laptop so that I can check news sites obsessively. I will not second-guess Theo, because he is older and smarter and prettier than me."
To close, a conversation I had with Trevor on Sunday night. You have to understand that Trevor does a lot of extra labwork and seemingly has an immense propensity for injuring himself or somehow causing his labmates to get injured when using scalpels. For some reason I am the emergency callgirl in these situations. It's already happened twice this year, once during a football game and once during the middle of the day, when I ended up taking a shocked and blood-soaked biology major to the hospital with him. He's a junior, I have no idea why he calls the wee sophomore whenever he does these things.
Trevor: Hey! What's up?
Me: Nothing, watching the game, rendering this frelling tiger. You?
Trevor: Ah. Nothing. Just, uh, wanted to call. And see how you were doing.
Me: Ha, OK. So long as you're not doing a lab makeup again and managed to somehow get one of the kids in your lab group injured! Ha ha!
Me: You didn't.
Ladies and gentlemen, he had.
Sunday, December 05, 2004
Stayed up to watch the Hawaii/Michigan State football game, and to draw nocturnal mammals that live in Michigan so that I could scan them in and superimpose them over light pollution photos. Good times. Fun fact: it is very difficult to get good reference images of opossums.
Hawaii just beat MSU, 41-38. I am, naturally, happy about this, but what a disgusting game. I've never seen more penalties in a game that ended up being more vital to the outcome of the game. Touchdowns negated, false starts pushing back the line of scrimmage so that kicks went awry, just horrible messy stuff.
There were winds of between 30 and 40 mph in Hawaii tonight, so the ball was proving difficult to catch on the long throws. After yet another missed long pass by MSU, one of the announcers said, "The ball must be doing something funny down that end... it's like watching some of the left fielders we saw in the World Series." I actually bristled up in my chair, all offended-like. How dare this miniscule Hawaii football announcer rag on Manny?
Anyways, hurray, MSU loses to Timmy Chang and a bunch of guys with really long hair. I'd do the happy dance, if I wasn't so completely broken down by the amount of work I had to do today and thought of all the work I have to do tomorrow.
Before I depart, have this picture that I found this afternoon.
Hot stuff. I hope that things like this will never cease to bring me ridiculous amounts of glee.
Thursday, December 02, 2004
Installment 3 of Three Chicks Talk Football is up. Click the banner, check it out.
It's a humdinger this time (i.e. very long). We get into Thanksgiving day football, and the burning, hotly contested issue of parity in the NFL. Seriously take the time to read this one, Beth and Meredith bring up some really good points. I mostly ramble and act unprofessional, but their stuff, at least, is well worth reading.
Dinner tonight was ace. Instead of eating in the dorm, as we usually would, the art lecture crowd descended upon Noodle Co. on State Street like a swarm of angstily-dressed locusts. Delicious good times.
Unlike Dumbo the Flying Catcher Posada and Slappy McBluelips (ARod), Derek Jeter declines to kiss the posterior of Pedro. It sounds like he'd rather face Pedro in competition than have him on his team. Yes, he's The Yankee, but you have to give Jeter credit for not bowing and scraping to every free agent who comes along. The more you hear about Jeter the more he seems like a relatively classy guy (as opposed to, say, Slappy, or the Sheffield/Giambi 'roid crew).
Now if you'll excuse me, I have a MAC Championship game to watch. Toledo/Miami (OH). I'm rooting for Toledo, because I'm still bitter about Miami (OH) alum Ben Roethlisbergererer encroaching on Tom Brady's legacy. Yeah, I never hold grudges or anything...
I just knocked out a 5 page paper in about an hour and a half, after spending 5 or 6 hours reading and rereading the book it's vaguely based around, picking quotes out, and generally quibbling and procrastinating all afternoon.
It's relatively coherent, despite jumping from vaguely book-reportish to vaguely belligerent and anti-corporation to vaguely preachy. It compares Mickey Mouse to the rats that carried the black plague, viruses to advertising, and the socially responsible hacker to the socially responsible artist.
It's got nice juicy phrases like "societal surroundings", "metaphorical landscape", "conceptual viruses", and "a deep understanding of the substrate in which they work," peppered throughout it. All the quotes are properly cited. I did not mention Bill Mueller once.
Hour and a half.
I essentially feel like I just took a mallet to the head and am now sitting here, slightly dazed, waiting for the pain to show up and tally with the intellectual knowledge that I've been cudgeled. Of course, this was the paper based on the book Snow Crash, which I've likened to "a blow to the base of your skull" before, so that probably only exacerbated the situation. That, and having to think long and hard about parity in the NFL for the next installment of Three Chicks Talk Football, which hurts my brain quite a bit.
Heh, George just knocked on my door, came in, stood around fiddling with his wallet and talking about John Navarre and the Lions for about 25 minutes, and left to go to bed. Some people start feeling a little down in the middle of the night, so they wander over to their friends' rooms and talk about gossip or the meaning of life or whatever because it was on their mind and it makes them feel better to hash it out with someone who understands what they're nattering on about. George does this with football.
Must trot, I have to wake up early tomorrow, wander Ann Arbor and pick up some 'found objects' that I can build a robot from. Don't ask. Sometimes I wish my homework was just to read a chapter and take notes on it, and that was that, but alas. It was not meant to be.
edit: Jason Giambi admits, before a grand jury, that he took steroids he got from Barry Bonds' personal trainer. I think we all knew this was coming, but it's still a sort of nasty satisfaction to hear it verified.
Parasites indeed :)
Also, note to Sox fans who are keen on Pavano and have trouble picturing him going to a team other than Boston. It looks like Detroit is going hard after him. If the Tigs set their sights firmly enough on some of these guys, they could be unexpected spoilers in the offseason. I think they have more money and are more willing to throw it around than a lot of people are giving them credit for.
Keep an eye on them, Theo, or you may regret it later.