Friday, October 31, 2003

I Thought It Was Halloween...

But I guess it's April Fool's Day.

Will Carroll has a post today titled "Thank You Mr. Thomas"

It reads:

"Pardon me for gloating today, but by Frank re-upping with the Sox it virtually guarantees that they'll be non-contenders again in '04.

What a great world we live in!"

Now this is one stupid thing to say. It's only two sentences so it shouldn't be hard to take apart. First of all he writes that it virtually guarantees the Sox will be non-contenders again. Say what? The Sox were in first place up until the last 2 weeks of the season. They had an opportunity to take the division until being swept in Minnesota. Is that a non-contender?

Thomas has great numbers so Carroll must be referring to his clubhouse presence. Now I have no idea who Mr. Carroll is, but I doubt he has the intimate knowledge of the inner dynamics of the White Sox clubhouse to make such an assessment.

I would go on, but his readers are already taking him to task in his comments section. So I'll just add that the Sox have finished in first 3 times in Frank's 13 seasons. For Chicago baseball, that's about as good as it gets (or at least as good as it's been). And there is no way your going to convince anyone the Sox would have won more games with Matt LeCroy at DH.

Thursday, October 30, 2003

White Sox News

Frank Thomas made it official today and picked up his option for the 2004 season. Frank will make 6 million this year and will have another option for $8 million next year. The Sox have a buyout option of 3.5 million after 2005, or they would be obligated to pay him $10m.

In all Thomas will be guaranteed 17.5 m over the next two years which I just about his fair market value. I think he could have done better that $6 million this year, but I’m not sure he could have approached the $9m per season it probably would have taken to get him to leave the Sox.

From the Sox point of view, I think it’s great the Big Hurt will be staying. I could care less if some people think he’s a jerk. Overall he seems to be a solid citizen which is more than you can say of a lot of professional athletes. If he continues to put up the kind of numbers he did this year (267/390/562), which I think he can, the Sox have a bargain.

Now the Sox need to hire a manager. Terry Francona was mentioned earlier but it looks like he’s no longer in the running. Wally Backman, who coaches for the Sox at the AA level was the early favorite. But he seems to have shot himself in the foot by lobbying for the job earlier this season. There’s also a rumor that he called Ron Gardenhire before the big Sox-Twins series and told him to beat the Sox so he could take over as manager. Who know if its true, but he's most likely a longshot at this point.

That leaves Cito Gaston and Ozzie Guillen. Gaston has a nice pedigree, winning two World Series titles with the Jays in the 90’s. Now, I don’t follow MLB close enough to tell you if he’s actually a good manager. But I have to think the Sox could do worse. As for Guillen, he’s certainly popular with the fan base. He was also one my favorite players. I have no idea if he would make a good manager, but I would love to see him back in a Sox uniform.

The Tribune reports that Guillen doesn't have much of a chance. So I'll have to go out on a limb and predict Guillen will be the next Sox manager.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Back to Work

Wow. It's been a long time since I posted! The big day finally arrived last Wednesday. My wife and I just had our first child, Claire. We decided not to find out the gender of the baby which made the delivery even more exciting (if that's possible). Thanks to all who sent congratulations.

Congratulation message basically had came in two categories. People who have yet to have kids congratulated us with words like "exciting" and "fun". People who already have kids congratulated us and wished that we didn't have too many sleepless nights! So far I think the wife and I have been in survival mode. It is still very exciting. But right now, I don't think fun is a very good description.

I haven't even picked up a sports page since the October 20th so I'm a little behind on current events. I didn't even realize the Marlins won the World Series until Sunday night, a full day later. But I'm back at work today and trying to get back into the swing of things (which of course means checking out some blogs).

I had to send a quick e-mail yesterday to Seth for predicting the Bulls would win 22 games this year. Now they went 27-14 at home last year so its real hard for me to imagine them only winning 22 this year. I agree Chandler, Curry and Crawford need to continue their improvement, but if they play anything like they did last April, the Bulls should reach 40 wins. I guess its hard for Minnesota fans to give Chicago teams respect right now after the beatings given out by the Twins & Vikings.

Anyway, I think this will be a real exciting year for the Bulls and look forward to following them on the site. If you're interested Bulls-stuff drop by over the next 6, hopefully 7, months. I still plan on doing a year end review of the Sox but it seems to keep getting pushed back. I'll try to get it done in the next couple of weeks.

Thursday, October 16, 2003


In my lifetime the Cubs have gone 0-6 in games that would have sent them to the World Series. The White Sox have never been closer than 2 wins away so I really can't relate to the anguish being felt right now by Cubs fans. So I have to ask: Was it worth it? Would it have been better to lose to the Braves? Not make the playoffs? Does all the fun during the season make up for all the pain in the end?

I really don't know. Normally I would say it would be worth it. You know - its better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all (I'm sure I butchered the line but you know what I mean). But the way this one ended was especially cruel!

I don't want to get in to how I felt about the game last night since I'm the only Sox fan in my family (and that includes in-laws, aunts, uncles, etc.) and don't want to rub salt in anyone's wounds. So let's just say I slept well last night.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Journalistic Ethics

It seems the Sun-Times has gone ahead and published the name of the fan who caused Alou to miss the foul ball last night. They also named his employer, the town he lives in, and the little league team he coaches.

This man is a private citizen and there is no compelling reason to identify him. Releasing this information is completely unneccesarry and irresponsible. The Sun-Times should be ashamed of itself.

Update: Information now on smoking gun and ESPN (from the AP). The ESPN article is also on the MSN home page. This is really unbelievable.


The turnaround that happened last night was unbelievable! Prior's meltdown is what surprised me the most. Now I know the "fan" is getting all the blame. But the situation before the fan interference was:

Score 3-0, top of the 8th, 1 out, man on second, full count.

The situation after the interference:

Score 3-0, top of the 8th, 1 out, man on second, full count.

So technically nothing changed. But somehow everything changed.

The biggest mistake Prior made was the 0-2 pitch to Rodriguez which drove in the first Marlin run. Now, I think Mark Prior is the best pitcher in baseball. One of the major reasons is that he never seems to make mistakes. But leaving an 0-2 breaking ball over the plate was a big mistake. I guess he might have been trying to induce a double play ball to get out of the inning. Or maybe he was just tired. Who knows.

And the fan interference maybe the best thing to ever happen to Alex Gonzalez. His big error seems to be getting underplayed by local fans and media, even though it was probably more costly than the missed foul ball.

So what's going to happen tonight? I think it'll be a tight ballgame with the Marlins winning late. How could it be any other way?

Monday, October 13, 2003

Monday Movie Review

Since Game 4 of the ALCS was cancelled last night, the wife and I decided to pop in The Dancer Upstairs, one of our netflix movies we’ve had sitting around for weeks. We decided to rent this movie for basically two reasons. First, it stars Javier Bardem. We’ve liked him in both Before Night Falls, and the great Almodovar film, Live Flesh. Second, it was directed by John Malkovich. We both like Malkovich as an actor and hoped he would bring the same intensity to film as a director.

I would like to get some petty annoyances out of the way before I get to the story. First, Javier Bardem is a Spaniard, and looks European, while the story takes place in an unidentified Latin American country. Now there are many people of European ancestry in Latin America, but Bardem’s character is also supposed to be partly indigenous, which seems a bit far fetched. Two, the accents drove me crazy. Not because it made the English hard to understand, which it sometimes did, but because their were so many. There were Spanish accents, Mexican accents, various Latin American accents, and I believe Americans trying to act in a Latin American accent. These accents just highlighted the fact that you had no idea where the story was taking place which became bothersome. Given the fact that my wife is a Spanish teacher and knows many people from Spain, Mexico, Guatemala, etc., I think the accents annoyed me more than it would most people. Finally, the story centers on the search for a revolutionary figure named Presidente Esiquiel. Now, Ezekial is a very uncommon name in the US (I’m not sure how common it is elsewhere) and it sounded funny every time I heard it. I said these complaints were petty, right?

On to the story. Javier Bardem plays a police detective, Lt. Rivas, assigned to investigate an unknown revolutionary force headed by the above mentioned figure Presidente Esiquiel. The group started out in the countryside by assisinating politicians and committing other terrorist acts. They then begin to assisinate national politicians in the capital. The corrupt national governemnt begins to get very nervous and tires of waiting for the police to find out what the hell is going on. It’s not long before they send the military out on the streets.

Despite the deteriorating situation, Lt. Rivas continues his investigation and finds that the revolution is beginning to take on mythic qualities with the population. They are passionately supported by many people in the countryside and feared by the rest. One thing that was not clear to me is why the revolution seemed to be made up by so many women. Also, Malkovich does little to demonstrate why so much passion exists for the revolutionary cause. The only thing we are given is government corruption. But that doesn’t seem enough to sympathize with the tactics employed by the revolutionaries (not that I want to sympathize with commies anyway).

Like I said, the government is shown to be corrupt, but they aren’t shown doing the many awful things that would seem to ignite a bloody revolution. This ambivalence displayed towards both the government and rebels may be purposeful, as movie focuses on the Bardem character. Lt. Rivas is a former lawyer who quit to join the policeforce. He made a life choice to try and make a difference in this country and enforce the law in an honorable way. But it's hard to act honorably when their are so few "good guys" on either side. So Lt. Rivas must conitnue to make sacrifices and take the difficult path dictated by his own standrads of right and wrong regardless of the environment in which he exists. Bardem displays a quiet intensity in this role that really makes the film. It’s slowly paced, which gives him ample opportunity to develop his character. And even though there are not a lot background details given for the plot, there are enough twists and turns to keep it chugging along.

So while there are some things in the movie that bugged me, the story was interesting and I thought Bardem’s performance was great. I also think Malkovich shows a lot of potential as a director. On a scale of a bases empty dinger to a grand slam, I give The Dancer Upstairs a three-run homer.

Thursday, October 09, 2003


Gleeman asks the same question I was pondering last night. What in the world was Mark Prior doing pitching in the 8th? Actually, he wonders why Prior was pitching the 7th. Even if you don't subscribe to pitch count/injury theories, which I do, why even take the chance in a ten run ballgame?

Anyway, posting may be light for the next few weeks for various reasons. One, I don't particularly enjoy writing about the Cubs accomplishments. Especially since the Sox failed to live up to their end the bargain in giving the city a cross town classic. Two, the fall quarter just started and financial derivatives seem to be taking up a lot of my time. Three, year end at work is our is always the busy season. And finally, we have a baby due any day now so the home front is becoming quite chaotic.

Look for most posts as basketball season starts up. I'm looking forward to the Bulls finally getting back to the playoffs. And if the Bears manage to knock off a couple of more wins I'll be sure to add my two cents. But for now, I don't plan on wasting my time highlighting their ineptness.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

The Govinator

I'm not used to seeing the "Republicans are evil" theme over at Calpundit:

“The California recall is just the latest in a lengthening string of Republican power grabs that reveal the cankered soul at the head of the Republican party these days. Even leaving aside Florida 2000, we've seen ; campaigns that compare Democrats directly to Osama bin Laden; an indecent and truly morally bereft performance following Paul Wellstone's death; the end of the traditional blue slip rule for judicial nominees in the Senate — because control of both houses of Congress and the White House and most of the judiciary isn't enough for them; and the Valerie Plame affair, a scandal that, I think, is truly an "At long last sir, have you no decency?" moment.” - Calpundit

Let’s take this one at a time.

“The California recall is just the latest in a lengthening string of Republican power grabs.” Well Republicans took 60% of the replacement vote, so I guess that would qualify as a power grab! But not only was the recall quite legal, but I think also very democratic. So while the recall may have been initiated by Republicans, it was also supported by many Democrats. Oh – and it wasn’t even supported by the “cankered soul at the head the party” until it was certified!

“unprecedented mid-decade redistricting in both Colorado and Texas” – Wow, now we’re getting to the nitty gritty. Those damn Republicans will stop at nothing to subvert democracy! Now basically the Democrats are complaining because the Republicans aren’t following established precedent. But sorry folks, the current practice of redistricting to make districts safe for incumbents, or select racial groups, is shameful no matter if its done every 2 years or every ten years. Anything that forces us to take a good look at the current situation is, in my mind, a good thing.

The biggest critics complain that the redistricting fights are too expensive and consume too much legislative time. But I guess my libertarian streak thinks it will save us all money in the long run if lawmakers don’t have enough time to actually pass laws. And again, it must be emphasized, there is nothing illegal nor undemocratic about redistricting more than once every 10 years. If done correctly, it would actually make government more representative of their constituents. But hey, so did the recall.

“an indecent and truly morally bereft performance following Paul Wellstone's death”. Are you serious? All I can say is don’t remember things happening quite that way.

“the end of the traditional blue slip rule for judicial nominees in the Senate” Again with the precedent breaking. Could Calpundit at least give reasons why this is a bad thing? Is it just because the Republicans initiated it? And is this worse than filibustering judicial nominees? And again, it must be emphasized, there is nothing illegal nor undemocratic about taking away a Senator’s veto power over judicial appointments.

"campaigns that compare Democrats directly to Osama bin Laden". I don't recall seeing this. If it's in regard to the Max Cleland ad I would have to say it's wildly distorted. Showing Osama to try and demostrate that a person is soft on Homeland Security may be distasteful, but that's not quite what Kevin implies. However, I did see Howard Dean call George Bush "the enemy" on national TV.

“the Valerie Plame affair, a scandal that, I think, is truly an "At long last sir, have you no decency?" moment.” Yes, if every thing Kevin Drum believes to be true this would be an awful thing. But one, we don’t know who leaked the information. Two, we don’t know the motivation behind the leak. And three, we don’t know if the person who leaked knew the exact nature of Plame’s position. There is only speculation that gets battered back and forth between like minds until it becomes gospel. And is this one example supposed to be representative of how the whole party operates?

Anyway, I’m sorry for the rant and I’ll try to get back to sports. But nothing drives me crazier than to hear partisan Democrats whine about Republicans playing dirty pool.

Monday, October 06, 2003

Game 4

Even though I’m not a Cubs fan my brother was nice enough to take me to Game 4 at Wrigley on Saturday. All I had to do was promise not to cheer against the Cubs. That’s really not a problem. While I do take some enjoyment from watching the Cubs lose, I’ve never been they type of Cubs hater White Sox fans are known to be.

Anyway, I had a good time, and even cheered for a nice play Sosa made in the field. Cheering was made possible by the fact the Cubs were losing so I was able to manage a “good effort” applause.

As you can imagine the crowd was intense. Fans were into it from the first pitch. I almost wish the Cubs were able to clinch just to have been able to see the crowd reaction. As it was, the late innings were pretty subdued with the Cubs falling behind .

A few observations:

There were more people keeping score than usual.

There were very few kids in the park and I didn’t see anyone over 10. This was somewhat surprising since I always see a lot of children at Wrigley. Of course I understand why you wouldn’t want to bring them to a playoff game. Most young kids won’t be able to focus on every pitch for three hours and there would be a good chance you might have to miss a portion of the game taking care of their various needs.

Hardly anyone got up from their seats during the game. After the second inning, I went out to the patio to get beer and not a single person was in line! In fact, there were only about four people out there getting their nicotine fix.

Overall, I came away impressed with the fans in the ballpark. Not the usual “party time at Wrigley” atmosphere. But the same cannot be said for the fans outside the ballpark.

I had a couple of amusing experiences walking home from the game. Out on Waveland, women were hanging out one of the rooftop buildings flashing fans on the street Mari Gras style.

Then I heard the following conversation on the corner of Grace and Sheffield:

Cop: You have to get up.

Man in drunker stupor laying on grass between sidewalk and street: In a minute.

Cop: No, you have to get up now!

I was pressed for time so I didn’t stick around for the rest of the conversation. But I don’t think the guy was going anywhere. Now even though I’m not a Cubs fan, I strive to be unbiased observer on this site. So honesty compels me to admit the man was wearing all black and was by himself. In other words, there was a good chance he was a Sox fan.

Thanks for the game bro.


Friday, October 03, 2003

Friday Football Picks

So what was more embarrasing for Chicago last Monday? The Bears getting run over by the Ahman Green "Machine", or Jim Belushi hamming it up, getting face time as Mr. Chicago. I go with Belushi. But the blowout just exacerbated the Belushi embarassment, as it meant extra chat time with Al and John.

By the way, do people really like John Madden? I think he's just awful and has been for the last ten years. He only states the obvious and gets that wrong an awful lot. I'll blame his so called "popularity" on the media. Why? Because I'm part of the vast right wing conspiracy and have marching orders to blame everything on the media.

I did hear Al Michaels say something intelligent. He stated that the 13-3 2001 season was in fact a curse in disguise. His basic point was that the Bears were more lucky than good and ended up signing a lot of players to long term contracts instead of trying to improve the team. I couldn't agree more with his analysis of the situation.

So what does that say about Jerry Angelo and Dick Jauron? I mean, it was no secret that the Bears were more like a 9-7 team than a 13-3 team. But yet they signed Holdman, Robinson, Azumah, and McQuarters to long term contracts. It's clear now that these players are mediocre at best, and downright terrible at worst. They've now benched Azumah for a rookie, and if they could they would do the same to Mr. RW "I no longer wear a band-aid under my eye because Nelly stopped wearing one" McQuarters.

The defense might be okay if the Bears supposedly "great" defensive players showed up to play. But Packers center Flanigan pushed Urlacher around like a baby in a stroller all night. But I'm sure Urlacher got credit for some 15 tackles anyway. Too bad most were 15 yards down the field. And I'm getting very tired of hearing what a smart player Mike Brown is. If he was so smart, he would have just let go of Ahman Green on the 5 yard line. Instead he humiliated himself by getting dragged in the end zone wrapped around Green's leg like a three year old hanging on to his mommy.

Anyway, the football picks are up over at SethSpeaks. I was 7-7 last week which left me 35-25 for the year. Okay - if it were against the spread. But this week I actually looked at the standings and team stats so I'm looking forward to a big weekend.

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Wood 1, Braves 0

I was starting to feel a bond with the Cubs last night. They were blowing so many chances it reminded me of another local ballclub.

Only one hit off Wood in the early innings but it goes for a home run. It shouldn’t have mattered because the Cubs were putting runners on all night. They loaded the bases with no outs in the fourth. Next three batters: strike out, strike out, pop out. Then they load the bases again in the sixth with no outs. Next batter, pinch-hitting sausage beater Randall Simon strikes out. Now Bako is up and no one expects him to do anything. All the sportwriters are sharpening their kni-, I mean pencils, ready to pounce on the Cubs. And wouldn’t you know it Bako hits a double play ball.

But hold on, Fick mishandles the ball and the Braves only get one out and the tying run scores. Now Wood comes up with two outs and puts the game away. He got a fastball right down the middle of the plate and put a nice easy swing on it. Two bagger to the gap. Now the writers have to start all over. No more wasted gem. New line – Wood pitching and offensive star. One inning, one misplay, one huge hit. A great win for the Cubs in a game that was heading towards a demoralizing defeat.