Wednesday, May 25, 2005

6PM Weekday Start?

For the first time I can remember, the Cubs are playing a 6pm night game at Wrigley. That should make for a nice commute home!

Speaking of Wrigley, I'll be going to my first ballgame of the year tomorrow as the Cubs play the Rockies. It's pretty funny listening to Cub fans get excited over the prospect of reaching .500 after hearing them criticize the Sox for not beating any "good teams" (which I guess doesn't include the Twins, Blue Jays, Orioles, Rangers, Indians and of course the Cubs). Now that the Cubs have strung a few wins together against the likes of the Pirates and Astros they're all giddy about making some trades for a playoff run.

But here in the reality-based community, we have actual playoff tweaking to do, such as replacing Joe Crede at third. So here's my question: is Joe Randa a big enough step up to make it worth trading a prospect? Or more likely, would the Reds trade Randa for Crede straight-up, going with Crede's lower salary and slight upside?

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Condo For Sale

I'm selling my condo if anyone is interested in moving to the Lakeview area. I live 5 blocks directly north of Wrigley, description below:

Buena Park Gem!
Spacious, sunny vintage home with all the modern comforts, and deeded parking included! This top floor, 6 room (2 bed + den, 1 bath) unit features hardwood floors throughout, gorgeous moldings, original oak built-ins, 9'+ ceilings and lots of character. Kitchen has 42" white cabinets and a large bkfst. bar opens to the dining/great room. Living room has big bay windows and lovely French doors. Both bedrooms have closet organizer systems and custom painting. Den is the perfect space for an office or nursery. Huge south-facing deck, in-unit wash/dryer, central air/heat, and one deeded parking space make this home a true find! Private storage space in basement is a bonus. Building is a 3-story, brick six-flat on a quiet, tree-lined street. Walk to "el", lake, shops, parks, dining. Just move in and start enjoying this unique home!
LR. 17x14, DR. 19x12, KT. 14x9, MB. 12x11, B2. 12x10, DEN 10x8, DECK 18x8, STRG. 11x11.
Plus one additional shared guest parking space for the building.
Assmt. $159/month, taxes $2669 in '03, pets are welcome!

E-mail me for more info.

Idol Thoughts

I’ve been a huge fan of American Idol since its first season and always wanted to blog about it. Now that the contestants are down to a manageable five, I guess I’ll go ahead and do it. My comments from last nights show, in order of appearance:

Anthony “The Ballad King” Fedorov: Anthony has really limited range and only does well with slow ballads. His version of Poison Ivy was just horrible. But he usually picks songs with limited range and does decent enough for him to get by on his squeaky clean white boy looks.

Scott “Chief Wiggims” Savol:
Scott Savol has to be one of the ugliest contestants to ever appear on American Idol. What’s even more surprising about his success on the show is his complete inability to sing. And to hit the trifecta, he has an awful whiteboyghetto attitude that is absolutely grating. How he lasted longer than Nadia Turner or Nikko Smith is beyond me.

Oh, and did you here his comment last night about how its great to have a fashion consultant on the show to help him appear more appealing to America? Hey Scott, did she tell you to shave your thin-lined beard for the show? Because I must say, I don’t think it was such a hot idea to expose your fourth and fifth chins to America last night. Ick.

Anyway, about the performance. His version of On Broadway was actually not the bad. But the Brian McNight song he did deserves to get him booted off the show.

Vonzell Solomon: Vonzell brings so much energy to the stage that it makes up for some voice problems. But she sings alright and is beautiful to look at it. And she has a slightly ditzy personality that is also very attractive (don’t ask me why). That shout-out out to the US Postal Service was hilarious!

Carrie Underwood: Great singer, wonderful to look at, but stiffer than a mannequin. You need some type of stage presence to win American Idol and she just doesn’t have it.

Bo Bice: His Stand By Me was a copy of the original, not very creative. Pretty much the same thing with that Los Lonely Boys Song. But he has a niche that should carry him to the finals.

My Preference:
1. Vonzell Solomon
2. Bo Bice
3. Carrie Underwood
4. Anthony Federov
5. Scott Savol

General Thoughts: I think the contestants in previous years had much more talent. This year they all seem to have issues. And thank goodness Constantine got booted last week. His playing up to the cameras was unbearable. And what was up with all the eye liner! Are the Cure looking for a new lead singer?

I Know It's Early, But...

Okay, I know its early in the season, but I’m ready to drink the Kool-Aid and declare the Sox the best team in the AL Central. Everything I write from here on out will be with the expectation that the Sox will be division champs come October.

For the first few weeks of the season, the “experts” said that the Sox pitching would eventually falter. They said the Sox couldn’t continue to win with an offense that didn’t draw walks and had the worst OBP in baseball. Well, so far the experts have everything backwards.

It was the offense that was playing well below its potential. In the past two weeks the Sox have improved their OBP by over 20 points and they now stand 8th in the AL at .321. At the same time the pitching staff continues to dominate the AL with an ERA of 3.05. The next closest team are the Angels at 3.52.

Now I think we have two pitchers who will regress towards their career averages: Garland and Contreras. But I don’t think the regression will be as sharp as many people expect, as both, especially Garland, may be finally living up to expectations.

But even if that team ERA does drift closer to 4.00 than 3.00 as the season progresses, the offense should improve more than enough to keep the team atop the Central. Even now they are scoring as many runs as the Twins without significant contributions from the heart of the order. Their 4/5/6 hitters, Konerko, Rowand and Dye, have OPS percentages of .769/.663/.552, respectively, well off their career averages of .824/.804/.792. When these guys get going the pitching staff will be able give up a few more runs while still winning ballgames.

The bottom line is that Kenny Williams has built a nice solid team. And make no mistake,this is his team. His first four seasons at the helm were spent basically trying to tweak the 2000 division winners he inherited from Ron Schueler. For whatever reason, these teams were never able to duplicate its earlier success.

So Kenny finally gave up on Lee, Ordonez, and Valentin and decided to go in a new direction. So far that direction is up. The pitching staff consists of a solid starting five, if not an ace, and a strong bullpen. The offense is a nice mix of power and speed. As someone who has often criticized him in the past, I have to give Williams credit for a job well done.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Sox v. KC

Tonight the Sox look to continue their success against the AL Central (15-4) and KC (3-0) in particular as Mark Buehrle takes on Brian Anderson. Brian Anderson looked as if he was going to be a nice pick up for KC as they traded for him late in 2003. But he followed up a couple of decent starts for KC in 2003 with his worst year in the majors. Last year he went 6-12 with a 5.64 ERA. Of course two of his six wins came against the Sox. Both wins came in complete games (his only 2 in 2004) with one being a shut out.

Let hope the Sox can do better against him tonight. Mark Buehrle takes the mound trying to shake off his worst performance of the year. Buehrle couldn’t hold on to leads of 3-0 and 7-4 against the A's last Wednesday before leaving the game without a decision. Buerhle didn’t have his best stuff but managed to shut out the A’s through 4 innings. But things fell apart in the fifth after he failed to respond to Rich Harden’s deliberate beaning of Crazy Carl.

Monday, May 02, 2005