Saturday, October 19, 2002

Random thoughts on Donnie Moore
(read this column)

The Red Sox had a terrible bullpen that year. Had the Angels won in the bottom of the ninth, would people remember how bad the bullpen was? Given that they still blame Buckner rather than the pitching, probably not.

Mike Sowell, cited in the column, is (was?) a longtime Tulsa World (actually Tulsa Tribune back when Tulsa still had both a morning and an afternoon paper) sports columnist. He's written a couple of good books, most famously The Pitch That Killed. I always thought of him as "local boy makes good." Enough years have passed that I really couldn't tell you if he's a better writer than Skip Bayless (who I briefly heard on the radio yesterday!--Rick Barry has a talk show that I found flipping through AM stations). Sowell and Bayless were the top sports writers in Tulsa and Oklahoma City, respectively. One turned to books, the other to big-city paper journeyman work. (Went from Dallas to Chicago to San Jose, always climbing the ladder.)

All this is to say that if you ever find the right book topic, I'll buy your book.

Possessive case alert: The article mentions the Red Sox's at one point. That looks wrong; in fact it is. You wouldn't say the Red Sox's unless you'd also say "The Red Sox is." They're plural, no? Instead, Boston's avoids a lot of trouble. Contrary to what a lot of people do, though, for a singular noun ending in x you'd put the 's' on. Dex's car, for example. For that matter, Bess's cat.

Baseball tally: Only two of the previous 20-or-so baseball posts were baseball-related, to the relief of at least one of you.

(You're probably one of two people. Either you grew up in New Mexico or you played the clarinet. Or I could be totally wrong. The nom de plume is a better fit for the former but reading what I write about baseball, going back to 1992-93, would be the latter. *shrug*)
Note: I am also very interested in a pill or herb that will make my penis grow 3-4 inches. Please send information.
--Mickey Kaus
Just because
Santana featuring Ja Rule

Someday it will happen. Just not yet.

Friday, October 18, 2002

Mattapan Sex Bus update
Currently the latest entry on FuckedCompany. If this were still a niche story I'd be tempted to rename one of my fantasy football teams "Mattapan Sex Bus" but now it's just too well-known.
Read this if you haven't already
Why news coverage of Iraq is screwy.

If nothing else, someone needs to be hurt for the sheer audacity of this.
Two nontrivial peeves, both of which can be described the same way
I hate it when someone puts himself (or is put by others) in a position of being the limiting factor/single point of failure, and then everything blocks on him.

My objection really isn't to the everything-blocking-on-it part but rather the part where the single point of failure became what it was in the first place.

Delegate redundantly.
Cults of Personality
Whenever you use a Will Call ATM on the grounds of Pacific Bell Park, in the time between your entering your info and the tickets printing out, the message "Your Transaction is Being Processed" displays along with the best photo of Barry Bonds I've ever seen. He's smiling. It's all very reassuring. I want that photo to be printed out, enlarged, and plastered along the streets of downtown San Francisco should the Giants win. It's just that great a photo. The profile photo of Bonds can't quite compare.
Arbritary link rearranging
Spent entirely too much time just now messing with the home page and then synching the links on my blog templates to them.

Let me know if you don't like how I link to you or if I don't link to you but should or if I do link to you but shouldn't. I think I've gotten the last few updates, the sites I'd been going to all the time lately despite always having to hand-type the URL. (Realized one I'd left out right as I typed this. Homepage fixed now; blog will be unsynched for a few seconds.)

Three categories of people who write close to the same thing but need different categories so the page doesn't look overwhelmed:
"Mysterious Strangers": I don't know you personally. You do write a lot about politics (really, about the fate of the world) but enough about yourself that you're a real person rather than an aspiring pundit.

"Right-Thinking Webloggers": Essentially you're a pundit, and in general you're on the right. Mickey Kaus really isn't but he's common-sensical enough that anyone should be honored to think of him as the moderate frontier of your particular set of opinions. Eugene Volokh is a law professor rather than a straight-up pundit. Charles Johnson's "Little Green Footballs" site is so political, and with a degree of gravity, that he seemed to belong here.

"Cool Libertarians": Pundits but with more free-spirited views than to be called 'right-thinking,' or maybe not quite the self-importance of the people in the previous category. (This is why Andrew Sullivan feels right there rather than here.) Actually David Nieporent isn't a pundit, he just plays one on and I'm too lazy to do the resynching that would come from moving him to the "Mysterious Strangers." (Plus that would make that list too bulgy.) Megan McArdle isn't strictly a pundit but she gets tons of comments--and spirited discussions--on her site.
"Mattapan Ice Breaker"
I guess you'll always remember your first time.
Not a good week to be going around naked
Death in Sheboygan and incapacitated hockey fans in Calgary.

Bostonians: Are Bruins games still on TV38? Any particular ex-jock presence in the booth? I imagine that's a hard one to talk your way around.

Thursday, October 17, 2002

More on gender issues and one-trick pony prose
I wonder if my anonymous critic (see the Chris McKendry post below) gets offended when I objectify female op-ed columnists.

Just for giggles (and bipartisanship) I tried this one. Until now I had no idea what she looked like. I have to say I'd definitely rate her ahead of Coulter.

As writers they're very similar. (This comment probably offends fans of them both, for opposite reasons.) Nobody ever reads Maureen Dowd for a well-reasoned argument. (Really, what would she do about Iraq? Maybe she could go to Baghdad with a megaphone and make snide comments about Saddam's manhood until he begged her to stop.) That said, her catty remarks are light years ahead of anybody else's. Few people will admit how much they enjoy reading other people's catty remarks.
Why we fight?
This is unsettling. And ironic given a recent exchange on Matt's weblog.

Is this why we shouldn't take down Iraq now (reprioritize), or why we should take 'em down now (as opposed to two years from now when they're the ones that WaPo gets to report has nukes)?

And people thought North Korea was an arbitrary throw-in to complete the trio.
All caught up on mail
As a programming note, I'm no longer sitting on e-mails waiting for more time to read, much less respond to them.

Actually that's false -- there's some e-mail related to Baseball HQ that I need to get to, but all personal e-mail is caught up.

It's embarrassing to admit this but I'd kept eight different people waiting to hear from me, some as long as two months. The worst part is that two of them had written to me recently expressing the hope that I'd done nothing to offend them.

Better late than never I hope!
Cooking and Eating
In this vein it may be time to brainstorm something fun and (mildly) profitable to do with
--- Cindy Alvarez wrote:
> Date: Wed, 16 Oct 2002 23:03:13 -0700
> To:
> From: Cindy Alvarez
> Subject: announcing my new project
> Cooking and Eating is a subscription-based newsletter that takes
> a practical approach to creating great food while keeping your
> budget, schedule and cholesterol under control.
> Twice-monthly issues feature ingredient profiles, tools and
> techniques, tips on gradually working cooking into your daily
> life, and questions answered. Cooking and Eating is aimed more
> at the novice cook, but with its focus on unique ingredients and
> ethnic cuisines should provide useful information to the skilled
> home chef as well.
> The October trial issues, as well as the accompanying weblog entries,
> are freely available to the public. Subscriptions contain 24 issues
> and cost $12.
> Cindy Alvarez
> Editor-in-Chief, Cooking and Eating

Wednesday, October 16, 2002

As much as I don't like hot dogs
I still have to say there should be a new rule, the Mike Holmgren rule: You're not allowed to complain about the other team's excessive celebration unless you actually beat them. Then you can point out how classless they are. Otherwise it comes off as sour grapes.
So why doesn't baseball get better PR for selling tickets so far below market value?
Consider the difference between face value of World Series tickets and what you'll see on eBay in the next few days.

That's money going to scalpers that otherwise could have gone to MLB. The only reason I see why not taking that revenue makes any sense is the goodwill involved.

By comparison, there's an annual charity concert in these parts known as the Bridge Benefit. (I'm not sure what it's about, you could google if you wanted.) I remember reading last year how the organizers were just incensed that (because of a last-minute addition of Dave Matthews or someone of his ilk) the tickets were being scalped for so much more than the charity took in from selling them. I remember just shaking my head and thinking, geez, just set the face value more intelligently in the first place.

(And by doing so, of course, exclude the poor working guy. You know, the one who every time he goes to an event has to not only get the tickets but also buy everyone a hot dog and a program and gratuitous souvenirs. If this blog only ever teaches you one thing, it's this: Don't EVER trust those "fan cost" indices.)
Instead of thinking of myself as greedy
I will call it persistence. Even when my colleagues gave up, I was unwilling to accept at face value the word that phone callers were told the game was sold out.

It's like poker, almost, except that since nobody was raising the was no additional outlay for me to be able not to fold.

Then again I never fold anyway. That's why I suck at poker.

Well, not literally never; I've gotten much better at identifying hopeless cases early. But if I stay in past the first round then it's difficult as a matter of pride to fold later on.

Note that any tickets I scrounge here are tickets I will use rather than sell. That's another reason not to think of it as greed.
Where by "work" I mean
the place I went today, despite being unemployed, to take advantage of the T1 connection and bond with other unemployed former colleagues who were also taking advantage of the T1 connection, all of us on a quest to score some tickets.

Throughout all this Carmen the DBA (still gainfully employed) not only got productive work done but handed out shortbread cookies.
"the database writer has five slaves...
and one of them kept on dying."

Overheard at work, actual legitimate techie sentence. Contest: Write sci-fi and/or pr0n with an alternate context for that sentence fragment.
Like popcorn
The retry/cancel prompts when you get from the "Choose seat type" screen to the Virtual Waiting Room.

'V' is for Virtual Waiting Room.
'a' is for 'about:blank', also known as the Retry/Cancel prompt.
'C' is for Cannot Find Server
Behold the power of prayer
World Series Game 5
Angels at Giants
Thursday, 10/24/02 5:00 PM PDT
Section CL234
Row/Box B
Seat 9

They were down to single tickets only. I prayed for just one game. I can't remember the last time I prayed that hard. My prayer came true, and now I'm just being greedy.

So many browser windows, so many Virtual Waiting Rooms, so many 404's, so many We're sorry, we were unable to process your request due to high transaction volumes. Please try to submit your request again., so many pages that did "load" but were blank, so many "game ID 'null' not found in MLB database"... it's like the HttpServletRequest equivalent of Normandy, or of sperm unaware that they're in a large intestine.

By the way my co-workers gave up after getting through on the phone only to be told that the games were sold out. I call B.S. on that, but the only thing that makes sense is if the sales-by-phone tickets were distinct from the on-line sales tickets. is back up again
Somebody got through on the phone and was told all three games were sold out.

'Twas so very nice of them to get hosed right when I had two browers one step past the "choose seats" screen.
More from the "white guys drive like this" department:
McKendry rebuts Simmons. I just have two problems here:

1. You don't fight sweeping generalizations with sweeping generalizations.

2. Wake me whenever this gal writes about anything other than gender issues and sports.

One-trick ponies are tiresome.

Tuesday, October 15, 2002

See, if I were on the bandwagon, I'd actually change that subheader in the top left corner.

(By the way, thought experiment: Suppose Terrence Long had made a tremendous catch in the first inning of Game 5 of the 2000 ALDS; suppose Oakland had gone on to win that game, then maybe dropped a six-game ALCS to Seattle. In the ensuing Mets-Mariners Fall Classic, what would the New York bandwagon have been like? Would you, the tried-and-true Yankee fan who was a Yankee fan even in the 1980s, still make the effort to get Mets tix?)
Angels Tickets Went On Sale October 9
By the way, I missed the spontaneous rush for Giants wristbands because I didn't go to Game 5.

I didn't go to Game 5 because I sold my ticket to Jake.

I sold my Game 5 ticket to Jake because I wanted him to get to see a playoff game but wasn't able to invite him to Game 3.

I wasn't able to invite him to Game 3 because I'd already invited someone to Game 3.

If you're paying close attention then you know where that's going.
Quinctilius Varus, Where are My Wristbands?
People started lining up last night. This I heard in a phone conversation this afternoon. Cops (this part I heard just now) tried to disperse the people in line but failed.

(Give that they can't prevent dozens of bums from living on Market Street 365 days a year, I'm not surprised that preventing people from camping out a couple nights was beyond them.)

At some point today the Giants realized that the number of people in line exceeded the number of wristbands (determining, via random draw, purchase order for people in person) and decided to cut the dead weight by just handing the wristbands out early.

Therefore I and hundred of other people will now resort to the Internet. Or the Angels, a tack I didn't think of until in the car. Six-hour drive, give or take. Tickets probably already been on sale and sold out but worth a try.

By the way
My Oakland A's (hypothetical) 2002 World Series tickets are sitting next to my computer, mocking me for backing the wrong horse.
Camping out overnight for World Series tickets
Yeah sure, I could have just taken my chances on the Internet tomorrow morning. It served me well for each of the previous two Giants playoff series. But come on: I'm unemployed now, and I have a chance to camp out overnight for World Series tickets.

By definition, that's Something I Would Do. Being able to tell my grandkids I did it is reason enough alone.

Will the line already be too long? It's a tossup: Warm climate versus number of people who realize that the Internet and phone are both alternate options.
This is what happens when my roommate leaves The New Republic on the kitchen table and I start reading...
Is Arthur Miller the most overrated American author of the 20th century?

Who else is even in a league with him for the difference between reputation and accomplishment?

Monday, October 14, 2002

Continuing the riff: A few of my (baseball) favorite things
Left-handed power hitters

Great outfield defense, especially from a center fielder. (But then you'd think I'd have more of an Andruw Jones jones.) The flip side, though, I have a soft spot for big oafs who look like defensive liabilities but who either defend better than you think or hit so well that they overcome their defense. (The flip side to the flip side: Somewhere back there I soured on Mo.)

Extreme platoon splits by hitters (usually lefties who crush righties, though some righties who crush lefties make it here).

Pitchers with extreme groundball/flyball ratios (usually in favor of the groundball pitchers); anyone who pitches smartly, conserves pitches, maybe even goes after guys despite not having good stuff. Southpaws who couldn't dent glass.

Scrappy guys who walk a lot. (But I loathe that there are scrappy guys who never walk. Nobody seems to realize why the former are valuable and the latter aren't.)
Navel-gazing baseball question
Based on what you know about me, what I think about baseball, which other players make me (figuratively) swoon, and maybe what I've written here...

Do you think I like J.T. Snow as a player?

Do you think I could give you 750 words on why, although there's a lot to like about him, he's deeply overrated?

To hardcore fans there'd be nothing new in this piece; maybe casual fans would enjoy the prose.

(If this entry seems random, a quick train-of-thought recap: It started with a weblog comment mentioning how Rafael Palmeiro and Carlos Pena were both good enough to make me change favorite teams. Then the realization that despite his having been Pena's competition, Scott Hatteberg somehow became my favorite current A's hitter. Then the question: Is this just a first baseman fetish? Specifically, a bats-left first baseman fetish? Is there a lefty-hitting first baseman I don't like? What's to like or dislike about such a beast? And so on.)
Is 150 doable? That just sounds crack-addled.

Update: 133. Blah.
113 and counting
Depending on how you measure this sort of thing some kind of personal record is in progress. If the relevant scale were 24 hours then I'd have a shade under two to go based on the timestamp of the "Angels' betting man" entry below.

Stuff I've done since that post, other than the 113:
Crashed from 9:30 to noon-thirty
Watched the start of the Raiders-Rams game (also the start of Angels-Twins) while waiting for the potential roommie with the Australian girlfriend
Taken part in socializing with him
Driven to Safeway and back, solely to get ATM money and some deli chicken wings
Seen, at 3:35 p.m., a post on Baseball Primer indicating that an anonymous reader would be at the Willie Mays statue around 4:00 p.m., with an extra ticket that he hoped to give/sell to a fellow Primer reader. Convinced myself I could make it in time, only get into gridlock inside the parking garage and not reach the statue until 4:25
Discover that unlike yesterday, today was a vicious seller's market. As of 5:30 even the scalpers were saying, a tad desperately but quite uniformly, got any extras. For the longest time, supply was effectively zero
Called it a night just before 6 rather than wait (perhaps in vain) for prices to come back down
Overheard yet another deep philosophical conversation between my deeply philosophical roommates
(I'm too impatient for those conversations; this probably reflects badly on me)

The funnest self-contained pack I ever wrote (for a summer Caltech event whose field included both master teams and high schoolers) involved six hours of work (and at least two more within that timeframe of goofing off or recharging). Each bonus had some weird stream-of-consciousness connection to the same-numbered tossup; meanwhile the tossups progressed on a theme where answers connoted a sleep-then-wake-then-go-through-your-morning-routine cycle; late in the pack we had back-to-back tossup answers of Joan of Arc and French toast.

Trust me that a typical pack takes longer. An ACF nationals pack -- it's been almost two years since I attempted one -- is more like 24.

In non trivia question news I've decided to start assuming I have no social life, where the very pleasant thing would be that I'm a fair amount more likely to be wrong about this than any other normal time when it's bloody obvious that I have no social life. In the short-term the lack of a life (namely lack of a job) is deeply convenient for the delusions that I harbor about staying on this buzz and making it still be productive.

Not that this has a beneficial effect on gaining a social life but the mindset I'm in right now is one of two that lead to stunningly bad food choices. (It might even be both of the two.) I'd rather not think about the degree to which those two states of mind resemble garden-variety mania and depression.

Good old-fashioned Lay's KC Masterpiece Barbecue here (hadn't had 'em in months), along with a Diet Coke. I'll hit "Post & Publish," then take a couple swigs, then time to take a stab at some Chemistry, some Math, various and sundry Social Sciences, and even a little Pop Culture for self-indulgence.

Sunday, October 13, 2002

Props to Duane Kuiper
Since Fox had the TV call and Jon Miller's radio coverage was of the other game, it's plausible that SportsCenter's clip of the Santiago home run will feature the Giants' radio feed. (My live experience of it certainly did: TV on, sound turned down, KNBR about two seconds ahead of Fox.)

That's Kuiper, rhymes with "viper," the reason why most SF Giants fans will never be able to pronounce correctly the name of the Kuiper Belt.
Go ahead. Walk Barry Bonds again.
That's right, put the winning run on base instead of giving yourself a chance to get out of the inning.

Finally Bonds gets some support.
They seemed to like the place okay
I'd be very happy rooming with them. On the other hand they're looking at a lot of other places too. It seemed like the sort of conversation where somebody is really nice to you (because they're polite) but in the end they tell you that you don't quit fit their needs.

I'm really not looking forward to job interviews, although maybe interviews beat lack of interviews.
Choker's Insurance
If I were an Angels fan and a betting man then I'd try to get the best possible odds against Minnesota winning. What do you think, 15-to-1 against an ALCS comeback? 30-to-1 against going all the way?

Then should Anaheim collapse, at least you'd make a nice buck off of it.
My plan for Sunday
A gentleman is coming some time around 1 to look into becoming our roommate. His girlfriend would also live here, while she's visiting this country from Australia.

As far as I can tell none of the three of us have a problem with sharing the house with a couple. Two roommates ago we unofficially but effectively roomed with a couple. Of course, they have the master bedroom.

Of course, had I not slowly but surely moved all my stuff into the master bedroom and arranged it just so, the room we'd be offering would be the master bedroom (admittedly at a higher asking price).

The thing is, now that I'm settled in here I really like the privacy. It's a little more rent but hey, I was working for some pretty good compensation there, right? Was...
My baseball game narrative
(slap me if any of this sounds like self-pity)

I was, it turns out, a party of one for this game.

This touches on one of my pet peeves. If you accept an invitation to a ticketed event then you probably shouldn't drop out at the last minute. It's only really a problem if the event is sold out, as this one was.

Then again if that's really what I cared about then I more-or-less set things straight with a series of street transactions, selling my pair of bleacher seats on a whim but then buying a "better" single ticket for the exact same price three blocks later. (In both cases the tickets went below face value; I think first pitch happened somewhere between the two transactions.) Based on face value I came out $5 behind. On the other hand the other bleacher ticket would have gone unused. On the third hand, whoever thinks View Level is 55/30 as good as bleacher seats is smoking something. Maybe two late arrivals really did buy my bleacher seats. If so, that was my good deed for the day.

My friend and ex-colleague Jake will go to Monday's game in my stead. I gave him my Standing Room ticket partly to free the evening for potential playtesting but mostly because I wanted him to get a chance to go. (He'd inquired about Saturday's game right after I invited someone else but before she accepted.) On Thursday, when last I saw him, I wouldn't take his money for the ticket ostensibly because the Giants still had a chance to sweep (and then not play Game 5). Really, it'd be more fun for him to buy drinks or something than just hand over the cash.

Jake and about a half-dozen other people (maybe you, if you're local) got quick phone calls from my car -- this was around noon, with first pitch sometime between 1 and 1:30. (With national TV games I'm never really sure.) Got one decline and everyone else's voicemail (didn't leave anyone a message). And Chad, but alas you're not local.

The Giants loaded the bases in each of the first two innings but came out with a grand total of one run and six men left on base. Then immediately St. Louis got a pair of runs on a strikeout-wild pitch to the pitcher, followed by a Fernando Vina double and two of what Tim McCarver would call "productive outs." In the fourth, a home run by Mike Matheny. Mike Matheny. Mike Matheny. That's .244/3/35 or .244/.313/.317, depending on whether you prefer the traditional line or the stathead one. Did I mention it was Mike Matheny?

My real View Level seat had people on either side; one row in front of it there were a couple of empty seats (one of which I sat in) through the first four innings. When the rightful ticketholders came I didn't feel like squeezing into my real seat (note: the plus side to owning two bleacher seats would have been owning the space they occupied) and instead walked around the ballpark. Jim Edmonds (by the way, follow that link for some self-referential fun) homered to make it 4-1. If nothing else I saw Jim Edmonds hit a home run. He's actually pretty good.

He's not as good as Barry Bonds. I was standing behind the left field bleachers when his three-run splash hit tied the game. He's finally having a good post-season. I probably never mentioned that when Bonds homered in Game 3 of the NLDS, the girl behind me cried so hard her mascara ran.

Eli Marrero untied the game very quickly. I spent most of the rest of the game standing on the left field edge of the View Level, where one gets a bird's-eye view of the field where the little kids get to hit the ball and run around the bases. (A Giants employee lobs a squishy all-white ball.) Every now and then someone would hit a ball literally out of the yard. This was really exciting, and fun to watch from a shady spot. Home runs must be really invigorating.

Never in my life have I hit a home run. Not in Little League nor various softball games since then. I'd love to sometime.

There is no joy in Stiff-ville, Reggie Sanders has struck out. (Yes, the game-ender was a flyout but his bases-loaded strikeout in the seventh was deadlier.