Wednesday, December 30, 2009

More Reasons to Loathe the NFL

So on Sunday is the mother of all games - Philly at Dallas at 4:15 - the winner gets the vaunted NFC East and a possible first round bye; the loser may have to go on the road through the entire playoffs in order to reach the Super Bowl. Here in Baltimore, however, they have decided to show on WBFF Fox 45...

Redskins at Chargers.

I get both WTTG Fox 5 (DC) and 45 here in the Baltimore 'burbs, and I understand obviously why Fox 5 would show the Redskins - it is their team and all. But this brings me to this territorial nonsense in the NFL known as 'secondary markets'.

There has been this contrived malarkey going on about combining the DC and Baltimore markets. It always seems that DC shows Ravens so forth. I want to know why? A lot of people up here couldn't give two sh*ts about the Redskins, and yet the email I received back from the WBFF folks talked about how they 'needed' to show the game because of concerns of the fans.

What should be done is that if the market's team is not playing or there is a game going on while the team is playing, then the station should strive to air the *best game available*, secondary markets be damned. Dallas and Philly is compelling and yet we are stuck watching two teams that have zip, zilch, nada, and nothing for which to play. The Redskins are terrible, and San Diego cannot improve its own playoff status (first round bye, et cetera).

Before you tell me to find a bar or something - let me say that I shouldn't have to - this game should be on the air nationwide, save for the other 4:15 games in their respective local markets. I will repeat that I hope the NFL goes down in flames after the 2010 season - that they lockout and come back limping and having been taught a lesson.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Joining the Forces of Evil

Well, I have done it.

I have really, really done it.

I joined Facebook.

WHAT!!!!!??????

Part of me really thought I would be the last man standing in the war against social media. But think of this way - I have a Twitter account, and I never had a trashy MySpace account, so I should be somewhat absolved, right?

Before anyone calls me a hypocrite, just bear in mind that we throw that term around way too much. Call this more of a weak spot than hypocrisy. I succumbed to temptation here and figured it was a good way to keep in touch with people. So now I know the power of the Dark Side and to those who are disappointed in my joining, let me say that I find your lack of faith disturbing.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas To All!

The Traditional Christmas Proclamation:

Today, the twenty-fifth day of December,
unknown ages from the time when God created the heavens and the earth
and then formed man and woman in his own image.

Several thousand years after the flood,
when God made the rainbow shine forth as a sign of the covenant.

Twenty-one centuries from the time of Abraham and Sarah;
thirteen centuries after Moses led the people of Israel out of Egypt.

Eleven hundred years from the time of Ruth and the Judges;
one thousand years from the anointing of David as king;
in the sixty-fifth week according to the prophecy of Daniel.

In the one hundred and ninety-fourth Olympiad;
the seven hundred and fifty-second year from the foundation of the city of Rome.

The forty-second year of the reign of Octavian Augustus;
the whole world being at peace,
Jesus Christ, eternal God and Son of the eternal Father,
desiring to sanctify the world by his most merciful coming,
being conceived by the Holy Spirit,
and nine months having passed since his conception,
was born in Bethlehem of Judea of the Virgin Mary.

Today is the nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh.

Go and tell it on the mountain that Jesus Christ is born! Have a happy and blessed holiday CHRISTMAS! Enjoy the day with your family and loved ones.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Ten Worst Philadelphia Eagles Memories

Below, I discussed the Top Ten Memories that I have of this decade from the Eagles, but now I turn my attention to something a little more somber - the ten worst memories of the decade. Some are familiar and predictable, but the order of some may surprise you. Here we go...

10) Giant Choke (9/17/2006) - The Eagles were completely dominating the Giants at the Linc on this particular day, leading 24-7 until all of a sudden the defense went quiet and the offense could not generate a single first down, allowing the Giants to tie the game at 24 and send it to overtime. In overtime, Eli Manning threw a jump ball and Plaxico Burress leaped over everyone and hauled it in to seal the 30-24 loss that still makes me want to vomit in my own mouth when I think about it.

9) Seahawk Slaughter (12/5/2005) - Ironically, one year to the day of what was perhaps the finest performance of the Andy Reid era, the Eagles found themselves down 35-0 at halftime at home on Monday Night Football to the eventual NFC champs. On the night when Reggie White's number was retired and an emotional crowd was on hand, the team laid what was perhaps its biggest egg of the Reid era, losing 42-0. Two interceptions returned for touchdowns and other general incompetence was on full display.

8) Donovan's injuries (11/14/2005 and 11/19/2006) - 2005 really was the 'lost year' of the decade. McNabb had been injured in the season opener with a sports hernia but it really ended against Dallas, when he threw an interception to Roy Williams who ran it back for a score and Donovan was hurt trying to tackle him. That play capped a Dallas comeback to win 21-20 and ended McNabb's, and by extension, the Eagles' season. The 2006 injury was the torn ACL as he tried to evade Kyle Vandenbosch of the Titans on the sideline. He was headed for what may have been his finest statistical season at that point. Luckily, 2006 was not a lost year as Jeff Garcia was able to assume duties in fine fashion.

7) When the Saints Go Marching In (1/13/2007) - A couple of things really stand out here. First, the Eagles were able to jump out to a 21-13 lead on the host Saints but blew it. Secondly, the officiating was terrible. Thirdly, and most importantly, Andy Reid decided to punt with under 2 minutes to go and the team down by 3. Much has been made of that particular decision, and all the Saints would need was one first down, which they got, holding off the Eagles 27-24. 2006 ended up being a classic 'what if' season, especially given the way it ended.

6) The Mike McMahon Era (November-December 2005) - somehow, the Eagles managed to win two games in the Lost Season out of the seven that McMahon started. His stats were pretty bad - a 45% completion rate, a 55 QB rating, and 5 TD's versus 8 interceptions. This was the one season in which the backups truly failed the team - unlike 2002, 2006, and 2009. The silver lining to this stormy season was the acquisition of Jeff Garcia to be Donovan's backup the next year.

5) NFC Title Loss #4 (1/18/2009) - This game had a bit of the feel from the first NFC Title Game loss from the 2001 season against the Rams - the Eagles were underdogs and they weren't supposed to win on the road. But this game makes the list and the 2001 game doesn't, mostly because the 2001 team was growing still and the 2008 team had the experience to make it, and they also blew a late lead after coming all the way back to go ahead. The 32-25 loss to the Cardinals left a bad taste because it wasn't like they were the Greatest Show on Turf. They were still the Cardinals, but the Eagles defense let the team down.

4) The Terrell Owens Saga (2005) - the nonsense started because T.O. got jealous over the fact that the Eagles actually won games in the playoffs without him and he wanted a new contract despite having signed a 7 year, $49 million contract. Between doing sit ups in his driveway, Drew Rosenhaus answering 'Next Question!', and Owens eventually being suspended and deactivated for conduct detrimental to the team, and a combo of Donovan's injuries and the Mike McMahon 'Era', 2005 is just a season to forget and is probably better off not being acknowledged at all. Lost Season, indeed.

3) NFC Title Loss #3 (1/18/2004) - This game made me cry. It didn't make me angry, and it didn't make me feel hopeful. It just made me cry. A horrible game, the receivers couldn't get anywhere, Donovan got cheap-shotted and injured after throwing three interceptions. Just an ugly, ugly 14-3 loss.

2) Super Bowl XXXIX (2/6/2005) - After finally getting over the hump, the Eagles played a decent game, but it just wasn't enough. 10 points was just too much to overcome against a New England team that was very good. This loss, however, took a while to sink in. It wasn't an immediate reaction. I had always wondered what it would be like for the Eagles to make the Super Bowl, and then I knew how bad it was to lose. 24-21 was the final, the third Patriots title of the decade, and the third by three points.

1) NFC Title Loss #2 (1/19/2003) - I have never been so pissed off in my life as the result of a sporting event. I was angry for literally weeks after this one. The Eagles 27-10 loss to Tampa Bay was the ultimate stomach-punch in my lifetime. This was the final football game in Veterans Stadium, a place where no one wanted to come and play. It was brutally cold and the Bucs had a horrible record in cold weather. In other words, conditions were perfect for a victory lap en route to the team's first Super Bowl appearance since 1980. It looked that way as Duce Staley had a quick strike 20 yard touchdown run. However, Tampa put it together and all of a sudden late in the 4th quarter the Eagles were losing 20-10. One last hope as they marched toward the goal line then the Interception happened - Ronde Barber picked a Donovan pass and took it 92 yards for the final margin of defeat. This is still to me the most bitter loss endured as an Eagles fan, even more so than the Super Bowl. The Birds were supposed to win, and win big. It just didn't work out that way, and it is still a sore spot to this day.

Top 10 Philadelphia Eagles Memories

As I said below, I was going to keep up with 'Remembrances of the Decade' meme. Here begins my top ten memories of the Eagles from 2000-09. Mind you that this is subjective - and I am sure that I am leaving something out here. Enjoy...

10) The Eagles begin the 2000 Season with...an onside kick? (9/3/2000) - looking back on this game, in which the Eagles beat Dallas 41-14, it truly was the announcement that the Eagles would be a force with which to be reckoned. I had just started college and it was the first game I had watched apart from my family. Duce Staley had 201 yards rushing and also what made it famous was the searing heat in Dallas that day that caused the Eagles to drink pickle juice prior to the game.

9) An Offensive Killing of the Packers (12/5/20o4) - I remember driving home quickly from my cousin's Eagle Scout Court of Honor to be able to watch this game. The Eagles were 10-1 at the time en-route to the Super Bowl and the performance they put up that day has been unmatched in the Andy Reid/Donovan McNabb era. By the late 2nd Quarter, it was already 35-0, with McNabb having 5 TD passes. By the time he was taken out of the game, it was 47-3 and McNabb had a career high 464 yards with the 5 TD's. Literally a game in which the Eagles did as they pleased.

8) A Defensive Killing of the Steelers (9/21/2008) - 9 sacks, an interception, 2 fumbles, and just utter mayhem as the Eagles beat the Steelers 15-6 in a game that was not as close as the score indicated. Ben Roethlisberger just got battered time and time again in a game that was reminiscent of the Buddy Ryan-Gang Green era (Body Bag Game, House of Pain). Unfortunately, the Eagles didn't get the rematch chance that they should have gotten as a result of losing the NFC championship game while the Steelers went on to win their second title of the decade.

7) Donovan's 14 Second Scramble (11/15/2004) - this is one of the many highlights of Donovan McNabb's brilliant career. It came during a 49-21 victory over Dallas on Monday Night Football the week after the Eagles undefeated string was ended by Pittsburgh. McNabb threw for 349 yards and 4 TD's, but this highlight will always be remembered about this game as he threw to his left and across his body a SIXTY yard pass.

6) The 2006 Run to the Playoffs (December, 2006) - After Donovan went down with a torn ACL, the Eagles looked like their season would be over. Thankfully, the team had signed a good backup in Jeff Garcia after the debacle of 2005 when McNabb had his sports-hernia and *cough* Mike McMahon was the backup. The memorable stretch especially was winning three consecutive division games on the road (Thanks NFL!) to take control of the division, including a domination of Dallas on Christmas Day in their own building - a game my dad still talks about to this day like it just happened.

5) The Fire Drill at Pittsburgh (11/12/2000) - this was memorable personally because I was there to watch this. The Eagles were down by 10 with four minutes to go and Donovan led a wild comeback that included a touchdown pass, a recovered onside kick and the fire drill kick by Akers (41 or 42 yards, I think) to tie the game at 23 as regulation expired. The Eagles won the toss and drove to kick the game winner by David Akers. I was lucky to get out of Three Rivers Stadium alive and I received numerous threats of ass kickings if I bragged about the game to my dorm hallmates back in Wheeling.

4) Brian Westbrook Announces Himself (10/19/2003) - the Eagles were in danger of dropping to 2-4 for the season when they visited Giants Stadium. Instead, fellow DeMatha alumnus Westbrook (had to drop that in) took a Jeff Feagles punt on a hop and ran it 84 yards for a touchdown, giving the Eagles a 14-10 lead with just over a minute to go. It shell-shocked the Giants and started a nice run for the Eagles that took them deep into the playoffs that year.

3) Donovan McNabb and a Broken Leg (11/17/2002) - The Eagles were 6-3 when the Cardinals came to town, and looking to rebound after getting thumped by Indy the previous week. Early in the game, McNabb went down awkwardly and originally thought he had an ankle sprain. He stayed and played in obvious pain and went 20-25 for 255 and 4 TD's. For me, this game was the end of ever questioning Donovan's will or desire again, despite the short memories of my fellow fans.

2) 4th and 26 (1/11/2004) - an all time play, to be sure. The Eagles were backed up at their own 22 with over a minute to go and staring at an early playoff exit against Green Bay. McNabb threw a strike to Freddie Mitchell to get to the 50 yard line and eventually got the Eagles into field goal position to tie the game up. Brett Favre threw one of his many bad interceptions in the overtime and the Eagles went on to win 20-17. Also of note is that the Eagles had to overcome an early 14-0 hole.

1) Getting Over the Hump (1/23/2005) - After three straight NFC Title Game losses, the Eagles finally made it to the Super Bowl by defeating Atlanta 27-10. Chad Lewis, Donovan's favorite target for a long time, caught two TD passes (and then got injured) and the Eagles stifled Michael Vick. I think it was the first time I had ever cried in happiness watching a sporting event. When Lewis caught the 2nd TD and the Linc erupted, so did my home - my parents and brother were over and I think we were going to put a hole in the floor from all the jumping up and down. Too bad it ended badly a couple of weeks later, but man, what a ride that was.

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Halladay Trade *UPDATED*

The word out is that Roy 'Doc' Halladay is in Philly to either seek an extension or get a physical as part of a potential three team trade (Philly, Seattle, Toronto) that would ultimately ship 2009 postseason stud Cliff Lee to Seattle and see a bunch of prospects change hands.

I don't know what to think of all this right now, but one thing is clear - the Phillies are trying to win NOW, and getting Halladay long-term is certainly a way to go about that. I will miss Clifton Phifer Lee, and I wish him the best. Problem is that my dad and I went in and bought my brother a Lee jersey after we convinced him to burn his Billy Wagner jersey and now it is all for naught. Boo to that! Anyway, I am sure he'll want a Doc jersey at some point. But he'll have to pay for his own. However, I don't think we will be trying to get him to burn his Lee jersey.

*UPDATE* The misinformation surrounding this deal is unbelievable, with certain funny guys on Twitter just making stuff up now, such as Michael Vick and the Phillie Phanatic being included in the trade.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Getting to the End of the Year

We are hitting exam week at school. It sounds counter-intuitive, but the shorter the time I have to spend at school during this particular week, the more work that I end up doing.

Anyways, to fall into the memes of the day, I will be doing some 'best of the Decade' posts over the next three weeks. Yes, I am well aware that the decade actually ends in 384 days, rather than 19. Still, how could we have a meme if we did the correct thing and waited until Dec. 31, 2010? So stay tuned!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Another Car Blowout

The wife's car needs tranny work. Yuck. That stuff is expensive. Pray for us that we get through this difficulty - considering that it is the only car we have now - my car died out a couple of months ago. We shall see, and hopefully it works out. Luckily for us, my parents have let me borrow their 2nd car until we can get a replacement. For that I am eternally grateful.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Solving a Mystery

The question is - when Grandma got run over by the reindeer coming home from our house Christmas eve...did she die?

I say yes...the wife says no - on the basis of the silly cartoon of the same name as the famous song.

It is plainly obvious that Grandma is killed after being in a drunken stupor due to spiked eggnog. It speaks of a crime scene, the family being 'dressed in black', how well Grandpa was taking all of this, and how they speak if Grandma in the *past* tense when mentioning her wig and the candles.

Despite all of this evidence - the missus absolutely refuses to acknowledge what is plainly obvious - when Grandma got run over by a reindeer, she f*cking DIED! We need to convince her!

Presidential Assessment

A lot of people have taken time to assess Barack Obama's first 10 months as the President of the United States, and have found him wanting in a lot of places. Some have already labeled him a failure; others are disappointed - surely, the actions he has taken have not matched the soaring campaign rhetoric or the promises he made to his political base.

I take a slightly different tact - my belief is that Obama is an empty suit. He is a vessel upon which people project their hopes and desires. He desires to be all things to all people. He doesn't take a real stance on anything. He hems and haws, but the only real agenda he has is to further Barack Obama, whether it means furthering a war he promised he would end, gallivanting around the world 'apologizing' for America, or accepting a Nobel Peace Prize for all of 100 hours of work in the White House.

My contention is that he doesn't care who he pisses off, so long as he is in power and continues to do so. He says that if passing a monstrosity of a health-care bill means a one-term presidency then so be it. I call BS. I believe that if Obama were guaranteed a second term if he dropped the bill from existence, he would do it in one second. Why do you think he didn't come out at West Point on Tuesday night and say 'hey, we are going to evacuate all American forces from Afghanistan tomorrow'?

Cynical? Absolutely. It is the Chicago way. Bill Clinton had Obama pegged to a tee during primary season.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Review: 2012

The wife and I went out to see 2012 on Saturday morning. It was an early show, and so the tickets were cheap. I can sum up how I feel about it in one sentence:

It was so remarkably stupid, but definitely entertaining.

The special effects were second to none (despite recycling some of the effects from The Day After Tomorrow), and the visuals were breathtaking. The acting was horrendous, the dialogue had such fine witticisms as 'no more Pull-Ups for me!', the science was completely nonsensical, and the overbearing social do-gooder agenda is enough to make even the most gooey liberal cringe and desire for all the people to die. But hey, at least Roland Emmerich didn't use a Dick Cheney look alike this time for the villain!

Honestly, we were laughing through some of the scenes that are *ostensibly* dramatic - such as when they are driving the limousine through downtown LA as everything is falling over and when St. Peter's crumbled to the ground and seeing the 'U.S.S. John F. Kennedy' fall on the White House and Danny Glover, who was 'too old for this sh*t!'

All we had to do was listen to the Mayans! Actually, no...but I covered that in a blog post about 2 months ago. Amazing how people will buy into nonsense like that. Anyway, if you want to spend 3 hours watching stuff blow up and chow down on some popcorn, this is the movie for you. If you think this is a realistic way of the world ending...pass. I mean really, earth crust displacement??

Friday, November 27, 2009

A Brave New World

I had a physical last week. I had blood work done just as a precautionary measure. I got the results this morning.

I am a Type II Diabetic.

I was stunned. I figured at some point in my life I would be diagnosed as such; I just didn't think it would be at age 27. I do know that it was self-inflicted - too much junk, too much sugar, too much soda. That is going to have to change in a big damn hurry. I have sort of gone through all the stages of mourning in the past 3 hours - I have cried, punched walls, lashed out, become contemplative, and even joked about it. But the fact remains the same - life will never be the same ever again.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

No Live Blog Tonight

I have decided not to live-blog the game between the Eagles and the Bears tonight. Mostly because I am a wimp and am not sure whether I will be able to stay awake for the entirety of the game. Use the comment thread on this post to say anything about the game. I may update this post occasionally to say something about the game. Enjoy.

UPDATE #1 - I am truly concerned with the Eagles, and I wonder if they will even win tonight. Ergo, I will refrain from actually predicting the final score. Oh what the hell - Eagles 17, Bears 9. Don't know why I keep torturing myself. Maybe it's just because I am a fan. Here comes Faith Hill right now!

UPDATE #2 - It's halftime and this game SUUUUUUCCCCKSSSS. Eagles 10, Bears, 9.

UPDATE #3 - This game makes me want to snoooooze. Night all.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Loyalty

I am an extremely strong believer in loyalty, especially when it comes to friends. Ultimately, you only have four things you can really count on in life - God, family, friends, and honor. If one of the latter three things fail you, then life isn't going to be as happy or good as you would like it.

The thing that infuriates me the most is when people who I thought were my friends began acting as they were too good/cool to even acknowledge my (and others') existence. A particular instance of this happened last night. My feeling is - if we have stuck with you through all the good and bad times, then at least we are owed a simple 'hi, how are you?' To blithely blow off people who were your friends when a) no one else would do so and b) you were at your most idiotic phase in life is to say 'I was just using you for that time, and you are of no use to me anymore'.

I say to those - go to hell, you are dead to me now.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Educators and Teaching

I recently encountered a guy who used the typical trope about teachers – ‘those who can, do, and those who can’t, teach’. It infuriated me to no end. People who have never stood before a classroom full of teenage boys for 45 minutes have no clue whatsoever about what it takes to teach. My grandfather, while he was alive, would wonder why I was so tired when I came home from school after a day in which I taught six classes and had a duty and a substitution. ‘All you do is stand up there and talk’ is what he would say. I wanted to retort, but I was just too damn tired to do so.

I am now in my sixth year of teaching, and I love what I do. Is it tough? Yeah. Is it tiring? Absolutely. Can the kids be a pain in the ass? You betcha. And yet, it is a job I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world. So why is there such a misconception about what we do? The short answer is: I haven’t the faintest idea.

Consider this – I get up at 5:30 AM every morning and drive 40-50 minutes to get to school. School starts at 7:45 AM and runs until 2:45 PM. In between those hours, I teach six classes, prepare lesson plans, grade papers, substitute for other teachers, meet with students, return calls and emails from parents, engage in disciplinary action, play amateur psychologist constantly, and then return home where there are more lesson plans to be made and grading to be done. Tests and quizzes need to be made, PowerPoint presentations need to be edited, ideas need to fleshed out so that they both make sense and are relevant to a bunch of 15 and 16 year old boys who would rather be somewhere else during that particular time period. Most people can leave their work at the office; teachers mostly can do no such thing. On Mondays, I work with the Academic Quiz Bowl team until 4:00 PM – which means it is closer to 5:00 PM when I get home. And I love doing this!

So I say to those who get snotty about my chosen profession – let’s trade jobs for a week, whether it is an NFL player who complains that $7 million dollars isn’t enough or the radio host who thinks that preparation for his show every day outweighs the preparation that I have to do each and every day. Try to do all those things above and deal with 120 teenage boys who are just itching to find a slip in the crack so they can jump on you. One of the most underappreciated aspects of teaching is the necessity of having to be sharp day after day, minute after minute. If you are not, the students can tell and they will call you out on it. Kids have a BS detector like you wouldn’t believe and if you are trying to pull a fast one, they’ll figure it out.

Let me add a further caveat to this discussion – I teach theology for a living, which means I am held to a higher standard than other teachers are. As the ‘religion teacher’, I could never get away with some of the things that science, math, history, and English teachers do. Not bad things, mind you, but there are certain things that elicit ‘shock’ and ‘disturbances’ from the viewing public, including my students, colleagues, and parents because ‘religion teachers aren’t supposed to think/talk this way’ – whatever the hell that means!

So, just talking isn’t enough – management, procurer, referee, disciplinarian, magician, and psychologist all become part of the job description. Going back to the statement at the beginning about doing and teaching – hopefully you don’t fall into the same nonsense. It is extremely ironic that a lot of the people who think this way want the school systems to act in loco parentis. They have no problem shipping off their kids to a place for 8-10 hours a day, but then get haughty about the chosen profession of the educators. Not everyone can do it. I have seen my share of colleagues wash out and burn out. High school boys are a tough crowd – getting into the game may be a big mistake, but it may also turn out to be one of the most gratifying experiences around.

Whenever I have an encounter like the one at the beginning of this post, I watch this video below. It is a nice reminder that teachers make a difference in the lives of their students, no matter what other people may say, or the stupid comments that they make. The person speaking in the video is slam poet Taylor Mali – a former teacher himself. Enjoy…


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Accident

Yesterday, 10 years ago, I, along with two friends were hit by a car as we were walking in the parking lot of our church during a youth group event. It was a painful experience that I don't wish on people nor do I wish to ever happen to me again. Nevertheless, to commemorate this auspicious occasion, I had a Corona. Happy times indeed!

Stupid Commercials

Working 30 miles away from my residence in a crowded metropolitan area lends itself to much time spent in the car. When I commute daily, I prefer to listen to some variation of talk radio - whether it is sports, politics, or the like. In the past few months, it has struck me that on a hourly basis, advertising seems to get more time than actual talk.

On ESPN Radio's Mike and Mike in the Morning, they have at least five hard breaks of five minutes each, and then factoring in the Sportscenter updates and their stupid voice-over intros, you have about 25-27 minutes each hour of actual talk, which just honestly isn't worth it.

During the morning commute, I either listen to the aforementioned Mike and Mike or to the local DC morning show on 630 WMAL - The Grandy and Andy Morning Show; whose hosts are Fred Grandy, of Love Boat (he played Gopher) and congressional fame, and Andy Parks, a longtime veteran of the DC radio scene.

They have a decent format - 20 minutes of commercial-free stuff to start the hour, and then basically peppered segments with lots of commercials from :20 to :40, then calls are taken from :40 to :50, then a financial segment with some more commercials before it starts all over again.

The problem that I have is not commercials, per se, but the stupid commercials and what they say drive me nuts. For example, there is an ad for Washington Hospital Center and their cardiac unit. At the end, the commercial says 'call and make an appointment with an excellent doctor.'

As opposed to what? A crappy doctor? Hey, call Washington Hospital Center and make an appointment with a mediocre doctor!

The 'Go Green' commercials from Siemens and Chevron also make me crazy, but for different reasons, and those will be covered in a different post.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Game Six Tonight...

I am a complete nervous wreck today. Hopefully the Phillies don't have these kinds of nerves when they play tonight. While in the classroom and teaching, I don't have any problems; it's when I stop to think about the consequences of tonight, then I feel the butterflies in my stomach and I feel like retching. I don't think I have ever felt this way before a Phillies game. Win tonight and then it is one game for all the marble where anything can happen. Lose tonight and it is all over...curtains.
Win. Win. Win. Win. Win. Win. Win. Win.

Let's go Phillies!!

Let's go all the way!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Phillies Make Me Sick

I must say that I am feeling completely ill this morning after witnessing last night's debacle. On my Twitter, I had said that 1983 is creeping up, but I want to go back - it feels more like 1993. I think the Phillies win tonight, but going back to the Bronx for Game 6 on Wednesday night does not bode well. Nauseous, I am.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Down, But Not Out

To say the least, last night's loss by the Phillies was disappointing. C0le Hamels allowed the wheels to come off yet again and the bullpen effectively allowed the game to get away. Despite all of this, the Phillies have a good chance to even the series tonight and get things back on track.

Why?

They are a team that fights and claws and hangs onto dear life. The Yankees are going with the three man rotation to try and put the Phillies away and so CC Sabathia is going tonight - and I feel this plays right into the Phillies' hands. Joe 'Cookies' Blanton is going tonight, and if nothing else, he will throw strikes - he doesn't get cute when pitching unlike Hamels was doing last night with that hanging curve ball. The bats need to come alive, especially the lefties. While this isn't quite desperation level, something big needs to happen tonight. These Phillies may be well down, but they are never out. Not yet.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Redskins = Bad Franchise

First of all, Happy Halloween - that great festival that seems to be turning more and more into Christmas each year. However, that's not what I am writing about today.

Here in the DC area, there has been a lot of talk about the Redskins NFL franchise and what needs to be done to improve both on the field and in fan relations.

A quick summary - the Skins are 2-5 with a couple of very bad losses (Detroit and Kansas City) and a fan base that is beginning to howl over the way they are being treated by ownership and management. The team has changed the rules recently concerning what kind of signs fans may bring into FedEx Field, as Dan Steinberg has been noting with increasing regularity. The fans are getting frustrated, the players and coaches are getting frustrated because the appearance has been made that the powers that be don't give a solitary hoot.

On one hand, the owner, Dan Snyder, doesn't have to give a solitary hoot about the fans. As long as he is making a profit, it probably won't make a difference. Granted, it isn't good business practice to treat your paying customers with contempt, but if people continuously fork over the cash to attend games, then there shouldn't be much complaining.

Which brings me to another point - one that I am sure is going to cause many to howl - professional sports franchises are NOT public trusts; they are private businesses. Yes, they can foster civic pride and all that jazz, but at base, they are private businesses. As long as Dan Snyder owns the Washington Redskins Dan Snyder is going to do what Dan Snyder wants to do and no amount of lawsuits and threats will stop him from doing that. There is only one thing that will give him pause - losing money. My advice ultimately is - forget the signs, the t-shirts, and the protests...

STOP. GOING. TO. THE. GAMES.

Until the games start getting blacked out here in DC, the Danny is just going to laugh all the way to the bank year in and year out and nothing else can change that. Stop going to games and plunking down your money. Nothing else will work. Don't buy tickets, concessions, beer, food, parking spaces, apparel, and so forth. The Redskins are a terrible franchise and that will not change until the fans make themselves heard through pecuniary means.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

World Series Predictions

It is amazing to consider the kind of disrespect the Philadelphia Phillies have been getting in the past couple of days. All it took was for the New York Yankees to win the American League pennant to throw the Phillies overboard like a cheap sock. And you know what? I am okay with that! Why? The Phillies thrive as the underdog, as the one who is always doubted.

In 2008, it was 'they can't beat CC Sabathia' - they did. Then it was 'Joe Torre has the experience and the Dodgers have Manny Ramirez' - which did not matter because the Phillies beat them in five even with Ramirez having a great series. Finally, we would told that the Tampa Bay Rays were going to run all over the Phillies and the Phillies' luck was going to run out. Well, well, well...the Phillies won in five and not even rain or Bud Selig could stop them from hoisting the championship trophy.

Here we are on October 28, 2009 and the Phillies are back in the World Series after being doubted again by many; the Rockies and Dodgers were supposed to have superior bullpens and were supposed to have matured enough to compete and dismantle the Phillies. Such a thing didn't happen and the Phillies only lost one game to each opponent. I can't say it was easy, but it was certainly convincing.

The opponent is a team that is familiar with this time of the year - the New York Yankees. To my everlasting shame, I chose 'Yankees' as the name of my first grade reading group when I was going to school in West Orange, NJ at the time (1988). Back then, though, it was the Mets who were the dominant New York team and the Yankees were just bad. Anyway, the Yankees have now won 40, yes FORTY, American League pennants. Despite that, there aren't that many on the team who were part of the dynasty of the late 1990's, just four - Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera, and Andy Pettitte.

It's funny, because the last National League team to win consecutive world championships was the 1975-76 Cincinnati Reds, the 'Big Red Machine', as they were called then, and there are a lot of similarities in the situation now as there was in 1976 as the Reds were going for their 2nd title. Consider...

- The Reds of 1975 played a team that no one really expected to be there in the World Series (Boston), just as the Phillies did in 2008 - Tampa Bay, and then went on to play the Yankees as they were defending their title in 1976 - just as the Phillies are doing right now.

- The Yankees of 1976 were making their first World Series appearance since 1964 and were gearing up for a great run with 5 AL East titles, 4, AL pennants and 2 World championships in 6 years. The 2009 Yankees are making their first WS appearance since 2003 and are a different team. They have some experience, but also a lot of young guys who have never been here before.

- The Reds were able to sweep the Yankees with relative ease, and with all things considered, I hope the Phillies can do the same - but if that is the case, be ready for another mini-Yankee run over the next 3-5 years.

Sometimes I wonder why they are even bothering to play the games - just give the Yankees the title already - at least that is what the media reads and sounds like. Phillies pitching will step up and the hitters will be patient enough against a guy like CC Sabathia. Cliff Lee will continue to pitch out of his mind and the defense will make a couple of key plays. I am going to agree with Mr. James Calvin Rollins and say....

Phillies in Five.

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Phillies - Your 2009 NL Champs!

Keeping true to my custom of waiting to comment on the news, I want to share a few thoughts on the Phillies winning the 2009 National League Pennant - I have avoided talking too much about it because there are so many more worthwhile places to read commentary - The Good Phight, Beerleaguer, PhilliesNation, WSBGM's, and The Fightins'. Each of those have their strengths and the resources to make the day-to-day following of the Phillies very enjoyable.

The being said, let me go Peter King on everyone. Ten things I think I think....ok, that is retarded, anyway, here goes...

1. The entire series against the Dodgers had a feel of 'we will beat you completely into submission'. Final scores of 8-6, 11-0, and finally 10-4 tend to lend itself to this kind of feeling, I would believe. Even the 5-4 comeback in Game 4 had that feeling, albeit in a much different way.

2. It was amazing to see/hear/read the metaphorical fellatio that was being performed by the media on the Dodgers and Joe Torre. Look at where it got them. To borrow the cliche, this is why they play the games. To have all of this done previously, you would have sworn LA was already going to the World Series. I have no doubt that the Phillies heard all the same things and was motivated by such disrespect and decided to kick ass a second year in a row.

3. The so-called 'vaunted bullpen' of LA had an ERA of 6.00 - that's amazing. 14 runs given up in 21 innings. George Sherrill (also known around these parts of central Maryland as 'Flat Breezy') looked like a deer caught in the headlights whenever he came to pitch - which tells me it is a lot easier to be the LOOGY and closer for a crappy team in Baltimore than it is to be the specialist under the harsh lights of playoff time. Jonathan Broxton, no matter what anyone says or claims, was FRIGHTENED by the prospect of facing Matt Stairs again - Stair didn't even see a strike. Few batters later J-Roll hits his historic double, and the Phillies have a commanding 3-1 series lead.

4. Ryan Howard's performance during this entire postseason has been a treat. His discipline has been outstanding and he has truly become a leader on the team - his quote from Game 4 of the Colorado series: 'Get me to the plate, boys', is the stuff of legends. He completely deserved his NLCS MVP. Hopefully, we see more of this delight during the World Series - he has three career World Series home runs.

5. I don't know what has gotten into Cole Hamels. He was absolutely a monster in 2008, but a lot of 2009 has been overshadowed by his attitude and poorer results. Three starts in the playoffs this year and while he got the win in Game 1 against LA (an argument if there ever was one about the uselessness of the 'win' stat), he had absolutely none of the domination that we have seen in the past, particularly in the 2008 postseason. All of a sudden, I am wondering about his issues as we move on to the World Series - will he be able to pitch effectively for even six innings?

6. Turning to something more positive - Cliff Lee has shown the world why the Phillies went out and got him. So his September was so-so? Thank God it is October. Indians fans are going to want to puke their guts out many times over if they see a Game 1-4-7 potential matchup of Lee and C.C. Sabathia. Lee's performance so far is even exceding Cole Hamels' 2008 October, and that is difficult to do!

7. Chooooooooch!! Carlos Ruiz is showing again his propensity as a red-light player. The homer he hit in Game 1 at LA was a back-breaker that was (to use another cliche) a tone-setter. Much is made of Ruiz's ability to handle the pitching staff, but would anyone really want to trust Paul Bako to do this? Didn't think so. Panamania rules, and no doubt he will feature prominently as a 'surprise' contributor in the World Series.

8. The outfield trio of Ibanez, Victorino, and Werth all came up big and believe it or not, Jayson Werth holds the Phillies' career record for most postseason home runs. Shane Victorino continues to piss off the entirety of Dodger fandom (and Met fandom too!). Raul Ibanez has eased himself right on into the Phillies postseason gravy train with timely hitting and a big three run homer in the 8th inning of Game 1 against LA.

9. The one who deserves a lot of credit (and cash) is Charlie Manuel. He thoroughly outmanaged his overrated counterpart. Other than the disastrous 8th inning of Game 2 in LA, he had the hand of Midas. Much has been made of his sometimes questionable in-game decisions, but as my father has said repeatedly for the past 2 years, he is the right manager for this ballclub. Baseball, more than any other sport, is less about X's and O's and more about...wait for it...managing. Whether it is personalities, people, or situations, the head guy in baseball is so very aptly named a manager, rather than 'coach'. The Phillies and us (the fans) are blessed to have Cholly as the manager. I just couldn't see anyone else (especially not Larry Bowa) leading the Phillies to the Promised Land in potentially consecutive seasons.

10. I want the Phillies to play the Yankees in the World Series. It would literally be the only time when the country would be rooting for them (except for the Dodger and Yankee fans, TJ Simers, and the guys who run and comment at Amazin' Avenue). Beating the Yankees would be a complete validation of last year and would insert them into the history books as a dynastic type of franchise, if not an outright dynasty. I truly believe it can be done. The Phillies have lost only 5 postseason games in the past two years, which is hard to believe. Go Phillies!!! Beat whoever it is they play starting next Wednesday!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

PANDEMONIUM!!!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Pay Access for Internet Sports

One thing that I find extremely aggravating is the idea that some websites charge extra fees for superfluous content. I don't mind the charging for content, per se, but things like ESPN Insider just isn't worth the money. Reading Peter Gammons' blog, Jayson Stark's blog, or Bill Simmons' (aka The Sports Guy) archives is just not worth the extra money to get. DCSportsFan.com is another site that just isn't worth the extra cash to get - essentially to be part of a message board and to get more pictures.

I don't mind pay sites - I avoid them, but to offer only marginally more for a substantial price over the free stuff is not a good business model, and something that will cause more alienation than subscription over time - especially as time goes on and revenues fall; the solution will be to charge for more stuff - at a higher price (essentially the government model - a failure if there ever was one). Eventually, they will price out those who were expected to buy and then they themselves will go out of business.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Rush for Rams

In the past few days it has come out that Rush Limbaugh has joined up to make a bid for the St. Louis Rams NFL franchise. I applaud the move - politics aside, anyone who has the ability to buy a professional sports franchise and desires to do so should have the opportunity. I will never have such an opportunity, but that's OK, since my chosen field does not yield the financial reward of someone who succeeds in a tough business like radio.

The liberals opposing this on political grounds do not surprise me in any way - I chalk it up to envy on the part of many. The NFLPA has come out with a statement opposing the bid - and this does surprise me for a couple of reasons.

First, you have the allegations of racism - which is based on the memes out there about Limbaugh's opposition to President Obama (ideological, not racially based) and the oft-repeated comments about Donovan McNabb being 'overrated', ostensibly due to his race.

Tangent: I say that Rush was wrong about Donovan being 'overrated' - but I never felt that it was discriminatory. If you read his comments, the comments attack the media for being paternalistic toward black quarterbacks - 'social concern', is how he phrased it. His point was that the defense carried the team and Donovan was getting too much credit because the media wanted 'the good story'. Again, I believe he is wrong - Donovan did deserve credit for winning, but even in those days when I was a liberal I didn't think it was racist on his part.

Secondly, I want to see how many NFL players will actually turn down the opportunity to play. It's easy to talk about it now - it's completely different when the owners of the Rams are offering you the opportunity to become the highest paid (fill in the blank) in the NFL. Rush Limbaugh didn't become a near-billionaire because of stupid business decisions. Players are still going to be paid and so forth. The NFLPA may be doing more harm than good with this - what if instead the Rams get yet another completely cheap owner? They'll be wishing Limbaugh was an owner.

Tangent II: I was surprised at the idea of Limbaugh becoming an owner of the Rams because even though he is from Missouri, he has been a Pittsburgh Steelers fan for quite some time. Honestly, though, I doubt he gets in - the NFL will back down and tell him 'thanks, but no thanks' - and it will be their loss, not his. Someone else will get his money.

Mayan Doomsday

With all the nonsense that continues to pour out between the film 2012 and all of the History Channel programs, one thing is clear:

The more we talk about it, the less likely it's going to occur.

I also know that all of the hubbub over December 21, 2012 would never have occurred if we truly had stuck to our Christian roots instead of buying every last pagan scenario - or worse - projected pieces of Christian theology onto pagan scenarios.

I am guessing some are going to be upset that I am not 'giving the Mayans their due' or 'respecting their thoughts'. They would be right, I am not. Frankly, I don't give a rat's ass about European interpretations of what could possibly happen in 2012 from a broken tablet of rock from an Indian tribe that faded away one-thousand years ago! See the disconnect? Too many things have to line up and square pegs have to fit into round holes. And yet, I get at least one question per week from students asking me if I believe that 2012 is the end or what we can do to prepare for the doomsday scenarios that Hollywood shoves down our throats.

If the supposedly professed Christians of the world were serious about their faith, then none of this stuff would bother them. Instead, all of this shows what materialistic quasi-pagans the so-called Christians of the (Western) world are. Obviously, they don't take the Lord's words seriously in any meaningful way - they believe some obscure broken tablet found in the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico with more gusto than they do the promises of Christ. Strange people indeed.

Monday, October 5, 2009

RIP 1999 Saturn SL2 *UPDATED*

*UPDATE (10/8)* The car is dead...after a week of looking at it and testing it, it needs a new computer., which would cost an extra $400-500. That's what was bothering it. The plug is pulled and we are changing the title over to the garage so they can use it for 'organ donation'. Ick. I am sorry, car.

Tomorrow, I have to make the call that will send my ride to car heaven. Too much work needs to be done on it and more than $350 has been spent just to diagnose the problem. If we are looking at crankshafts and crash sensors being replaced, it will probably cost closer to $800-900, which is just too much. It sucks royally, but it needs to be done.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Chicago...We Hardly Knew Thee

As always, I wait until the hysteria of a story is over before I decide to add my glorious words to the ranks of the commentariat - this time, it concerns the utter rejection of Chicago by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). For all of you who are upset over Chicago not getting the Olympics for the summer of 2016, let me say.

It's CHICAGO. You know, where dead people vote and father and son have been in control for eons and several governors, judges, congressmen and other politicians end up in a place where they hope they won't drop the soap?

It's Chicago. It's not even the most qualified city in the midwest to host an Olympics, never mind the entire world. Rio de Janeiro, Tokyo, and Madrid are world-class cities with thriving settings. Chicago has garages that have been host to mob-hits. There's no contest.

It's Chicago, the city with the big shoulders, hog-butcher to the world and all the other nauseating bullsh*t that has been associated with it. Even sending Mr. Hope and Change to expend political capital to try and convince the IOC of the *cough cough* greatness of Chicago failed!

I have to admit, I was definitely in the cynical camp that said the President was only going over to Copenhagen because the Chicago Olympic bid was in the bag. I was wrong, and this makes us as a country look even worse. For all the hubbub about the world loving Obama, that wasn't enough, and it definitely makes him look like a complete paper tiger with all style and absolutely no substance. He could have spent his time doing more important things - like, oh, I don't know...his job?

It's just a damn shame. Chicago, we hardly knew thee...and I am not sure I ever want to know you anyway.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

My Poor Car

I started having car trouble on Friday - when the 'Service Engine Soon' light came on as I was driving home from school. When I came out just a few minutes to take the car to the shop - it would not start. Bummer. Hopefully we find out what the problem is and it's relatively cheap to fix. If it is a transmission or major engine repairs, then it's curtains for the king! If it is only a starter or something, then I think it can be salvaged.

I hope.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Sometimes, Less is Truly More...

One of the reasons I found that I could not support Barack Obama in the 2008 election was his tendency to want to butt in where he did not belong - places such as my wallet, my home, my kitchen, my car, and now my school. The president has indicated a desire to compel schools to go to longer days and more days over the course of the year.

I do not necessarily have a problem with the idea of longer or more days of school. Now, I do like my vacation, but I also teach summer school from around June 20-July 15 - so it is four weeks extra. My problem is the philosophical stance taken by President Obama and people who are like-minded that everything should be dictated from the top on down. The president was quoted in the story as saying we are using an agrarian type of calendar - and with not a lot of children working the fields anymore, it doesn't make a lot of sense. Ok, but how does it necessarily follow that we ought to go to school upwards of 300 more hours during the academic year?

I would have no problem if individual states or school districts mandated longer days/hours - that is their right. They are the ones who are in a better position to judge if the children in their school systems need more instruction, not Washington. This is what federalism is supposed to be. It's nice that the president is interested in education; he has two school-aged daughters, and yet, education is probably one of those things to which he would be better off taking a l'aissez faire approach.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Despondency in DC

So the Redskins lost to the lowly Detroit Lions, owners of a 19 game losing streak and the only team in NFL history to go 0-16? No sweat. I have the solution -

FIRE JIM ZORN!!!

Actually, I am only calling for that because I desperately want the entertainment on early morning sports talk radio (ESPN 980 "in HD" - whatever the hell that means) and since the Skins are really the only sports team people care about around here, the callers will be even more irate than normal. Hell, they were irate last week, and the Redskins WON! So I look forward to listening to Andy Pollin and Kevin Sheehan (whose voice is so annoying) talk about the sh*t sandwich the Redskins forced their paying customers to eat. I know they won't let me down!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Guest Post: An Affair For the Ages

This is a guest post from my friend Dustin, about a very unusual love he has...Enjoy! ~ Josh

We all have our favorite sports teams that we show unconditional love for; even when they fail to score a touchdown in the red zone and only win 9-7. Growing up in College Park, the teams I expect to have a lifetime relationship with are the Washington Redskins, Capitals, Bullets Wizards, all University of Maryland teams and the Baltimore Orioles. Remember folks, no Washington baseball team until 2005 and the love for the Iron Man won’t allow me to go “Nat Crazy”.

I wore number 8 and tried to play shortstop. I’ve reenacted many long bombs to Art Monk in the front yard. I tried to hit on-timers like Peter Bondra in Gym Class (we used to get demerits if we didn’t call it P.E. in grade school). And I yelled SPRET [editor's note - that's TERPS, backwards - you have to attend MD games in the alumni section to get it] countless times after Maryland touchdowns while attending games since as far back as I can remember. But even through all the great moments, I have been having an affair with another team since the late 80s. It all started with a hat. A hat I still have in College Park. This hat was green and white with a palm tree on the front of the hat being blown over. Yes folks, it was a University of Miami Hurricane hat. And so it began.

I remember the hat was purchased for me by my parents while on vacation at Myrtle Beach, SC. The next thing I did was go into the dad’s brief case and pulled out all the sports preview magazines for the upcoming fall. What I learned were the teams Maryland football always lost to, were beaten by the Hurricanes and beaten pretty bad at times. For someone who loves football and learning about weather, the Canes were the perfect fit as my “second favorite” college football team.

Admit it, everyone has a team like that, whether it was Jordan’s Bulls, Montana’s 49ers or Free Shoes Florida State University….This is strictly outlawed in Bill Simmons’s 20 Rules of Being a Sports Fan, which I have gone on record as rules fans must follow.

However, from the days of Wide Right I and II to this season’s move up the polls, I have been pulling for “The U” while my Maryland Terps have struggled with finding success. Miami was one of the premier D-1 teams in the mid-80s and the early 90s. After Miami got in trouble with NCAA violations, the team’s success went down hill but former head coach Butch Davis built the team into a juggernaut.

A marquee win at the end of the 1999 season against UCLA put the school back in the national spotlight. The next year saw Wide Right III against Florida State and then a national championship in 2001. Following a repeat national championship appearance in 2002 and a BCS bowl game in 2003, the program went downhill again. After several years of rebuilding under head coach Randy Shannon, the program (2-0) is back in the top 10 for the first time in four seasons after two impressive wins against Georgia Tech and archrival Florida State.

Saturday, the young Hurricanes travel to Blacksburg, Va. to face the 11th ranked Virginia Tech Hokies (2-1). Though the teams first met 1998 with both teams ranked in the top-25, the schools have had a fierce rivalry. The 9th ranked Hurricanes will have a tough task in a hostile stadium against an extremely good Hokie defense. On Saturday, I’ll be rooting for the Hurricanes to knock off the Hokies. If Blacksburg wasn’t so far away, I bet I’d have enough nerve to go to the game wearing green and orange.

Saturday’s game reminds me of the games back in the late 80s when Miami played teams that a) I did not like and b) Maryland could not beat. It is no secret the Washington D.C. area is up in arms with the Hokies even though some [ed. - including the blogmaster!] would not consider them a local team since they are located in southwestern Virginia.

Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer has consistently put together top notch teams for more than a decade now. Miami has a chance to knock off a heavyweight Saturday. The key to the game will be the quarterback play. Some have said if Maryland Quarterback Chris Turner was the Hokie starting quarterback, Virginia Tech would be undefeated with a great shot to win the National Championship.

The game will be close. Miami will win, 27-17. Definitely an affair for the ages.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Today's Sign of the Apocalypse...

...Bible Prophecy Today is following me on Twitter!

In other news, Phillies piss me off, Grandma was a tad irritating, and I ate white pizza for dinner. What is white pizza, you ask? It is basically a rectangular crust with onions, rosemary, ground black pepper and mozzarella cheese. The cheese cannot be browned in any circumstance; the pizza looks like an albino. It does not, I repeat, does not contain any of the following: tomatoes, garlic sauce, alfredo sauce, broccoli, cauliflower, green or red peppers, or anything other than the above items. Sound good? You betcha.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Juvenile Humor of the Day

I laughed so hard at this. Reminds me of the Simpsons episode with the Springfield Film Festival. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

September 17th

It has been already about 3 weeks since the start of the school year. It has been a tiring, but satisfying three weeks. This year, I have decided to go hi-tech in disseminating information - power points, the use of YouTube in the classroom, a timer on the screen for quizzes, a picture of the day, and a whole slew of other things. It's been quite exciting, but at the same time, a bit scary - let me explain.

When I started teaching a few years ago, I was very much old-school, even at the ripe old age of 22. I did all chalkboard writing and was very straightforward (read: plain). It's taken a while, but I have 'caught up with the times'. The reason this is a little scary is that I don't really have a safety net. I have put most of the eggs in one basket and therefore it has to succeed. In the words of Karl Malden as General Omar Bradley in Patton: "if you succeed, you're a big hero...if you fail, what happens to those kids?"

Obviously, this is not a life and death situation as the Sicily campaign was in 1943, but there is a certain truth to the idea that the students are lab rats for my new methods in teaching. We shall see...kids seem to be enjoying the show so far. Hopefully they enjoy it all the way through May 30, 2010.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Inglorious Return

First, let me apologize for falling off the face of the earth. No, I swear, I am alive and this is not some random bot writing this blog post. Sheer exhaustion over the past couple of weeks have prevented any kind of writing on this blog. It's been a long week, and the previous week denoted the start of the school year.

The start of any school year (especially as a teacher) is difficult because a) you are trying to get used to the sleep schedule again, b) you are trying to get into a rhythm, and c) you are trying to learn and get to know the students and their names. The first week is always extremely tiring and I will go and take a nap for an hour or two before the Phillies game. Emails are flying in from parents who want to know this and that, and I don't blame them at all - I prefer parents who are involved to those who aren't in any way.

This second week, while short, just had late nights every night. Between the Labor Day BBQ we had at my parents, Back to School Night on Tuesday, the start of bowling season on Wednesday, and going to Nats Park to watch the Phillies lose on Thursday, last night was just crash and burn time. 5 AM alarm calls and midnight bedtimes combined make not for rested times. Hopefully by the start of this coming week, the regularity of my sleep returns and thus will have the energy to blog on a regular basis as well. Anyway, it is good to be back and it is good to express in print again as well.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Astros/Phillies Live Blog - 7 PM

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Only In America...

...can citizens run up a massive debt and go to jail while the government runs a nine trillion dollar deficit and complain that they need to spend more!

I heard on the radio yesterday that even if you spent $100 per second, it would take 2,900 years to spend 9 trillion dollars. Unreal.

Here's an idea - stop spending! Or does that make too much sense? Allow me to introduce the Lattanzi Corollary to Murphy's Law. Murphy's Law says that anything that can go wrong will. The Lattanzi Corollary says that precisely because something makes sense, it won't ever happen or be done.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Your Government At Work

1200 Veterans Get False ALS Scare (Breitbart)

The Veterans Administration (VA) accidentally sent out 1200 letters to unsuspecting vets telling them they had Lou Gehrig's Disease. A coding error was blamed for the letters.

Technology is a blessing and a curse, but someone needs to be fired over this. This is what certain politicians want more of - more government intervention and control. Why? So more events like this happen?

M*A*S*H Issues - Projection

A problem whenever a period show is being made is in attempting to make it as authentic and as true to that period as possible. An extremely good example of a well-done period piece is a film like The Godfather - the cars, the clothing, the storefronts, the music, and so forth. M*A*S*H, made between 1972 and 1983, was no exception in having to deal with the issues of what life was like in the early 1950's.

That being said, the issue of projection rears its ugly head from time to time. It isn't a constant feature on the series, thankfully, or else the show could not be considered 'period'. Ironically, the original film was specifically made to be a projection of the Vietnam era onto Korea. Robert Altman wanted an anti-war film that used Korea to show his opposition to the then-current Vietnam War, and the show started a little bit in that vein; quite easy because 1972-75 was still in the Vietnam era. That in itself isn't the concern, but certain other trends become more apparent.

The largest example that I find is the idea of the 'liberated' person. There is no greater example in M*A*S*H than the chracter of Margaret Houlihan. 'Liberation' was a running theme of shows in the 1970's, especially in regard to women and their sexuality. It was definitely NOT a theme of the early 1950's culture, when sex, while thoroughly practiced, was not discussed in any respectable circles and attempts to hide it were much more prevalent. A large part of the responsibility for this projection rests in Alan Alda, who moved around attempting to get the Equal Rights Amendment passed in the late 1970's and early 1980's. The tangent theme to the 'liberation' is the 'stupid/evil man'. This was explored in the divorce and 'empowerment' of Margaret in Seasons 6-8. Margaret's husband (Donald Penobscott) and various other men (Sgt. Jack Scully, General Lyle Weiskopf, etc.) will not stand in the way of Margaret 'finding her [true] self'.

Some people complain about the clothes and hairstyles, but I find those to be more minor. If a show is being made in 1979 but set in 1951, attempts should be made to be as realistic as possible. However, if it falls a little short here and there, a huge fuss should not be made. The bigger overarching issues do need to be taken head on, such as the one discussed above. It's one thing to try and give a morality tale; it's another to completely disregard the ostensible time period and beat the audience over the head with 'preachiness', which in itself is a posting for another time.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Pete Rose - Never to Cooperstown

Sportscenter is running a story about whether or not Pete Rose belongs in the National Baseball of Fame. It's a story that usually appears a couple of times per year - 1) when the new Hall of Fame class is announced (January) and 2) Induction Weekend (late July/Early August). The story interviews both the pro and con positions, including Mike Schmidt, Joe Morgan, and Fay Vincent. As a lifelong Phillies fan, I appreciate what Rose did for the franchise, and the first article of Phillies clothing I wore as a baby was a Pete Rose onesy. However, despite all of this, I still land squarely on the con side of the question of whether Peter Edward Rose belongs in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

I wasn't always against it; I was for it younger because my parents were (and still are) for it. I guess you could apply the John Kerry 'I was for it before I was against it' status, but it has been a long development as to how I came to be against Rose's induction. First and foremost, Pete Rose violated one of the most basic rules of baseball - one that hangs in large letters in all baseball clubhouses:
Rule 21(d):BETTING ON BALL GAMES. Any player, umpire, or club official or employee, who shall bet any sum whatsoever upon any baseball game in connection with which the bettor has no duty to perform shall be declared ineligible for one year.

Any player, umpire, or club or league official or employee, who shall bet any sum whatsoever upon any baseball game in connection with which the bettor has a duty to perform shall be declared permanently ineligible.

That is pretty clear, isn't it? The Hall of Fame prohibits people on the ineligible list from being enshrined. Why would Rose sign off on a permanent ban if he was innocent? It's much like why Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, and Mark McGwire haven't sued anyone for 'defamation of character' - bringing everything up messes with their stories of denial. Pete Rose would have been completely exposed had a full and open investigation been done in 1989 and 1990, not that the Dowd Report didn't already do such a thing.

Secondly, Rose is a liar, through and through. America is a forgiving society, but not when it comes to lying. Remember the key lesson - not the crime, it's the coverup. Pete Rose lied for well over a decade that he never bet on baseball, then crassly admitted it in order to sell a book: My Prison Without Bars. Why should people believe anything that comes out of his mouth? The Baseball Hall of Fame is one organization that specifically lists integrity as part of its criteria.

Now, before anyone screams foul and points out the charlatans and jerks who are in the Hall, let me point out that I find those to be non-sequiturs. If Pete Rose were merely a philanderer and a horrible father (which he was), then he'd be in. But he went beyond that and violated the integrity of the game, gambling on games as a manager that he had the ability to fix. That's a problem! We like to think our sports are pure, but if your team's manager is running a bookmaking operation out of his office with the ability to influence the outcome just to make a few bucks, where's the fun or the integrity in that?

It's a sad story, because he didn't have to do it. He certainly didn't need the money, but as many pointed out, his competitiveness became his Achilles' heel. I feel bad for him, but not to the extent that I feel he has 'been punished enough' (as Mike Schmidt recently said). No, I don't want him to rot in hell or anything like that, but I do believe he is not Hall of Fame worthy, and I hope that he doesn't get in just because people feel sorry for him that he is getting older. The punishment is just, and it needs to remain.

On Spinoffs and Television 'Universes'

One of the main features of television programming through the 1990's was that of the spinoff - where a character from one show would get his own show as the star. Some of the most famous shows were in fact, spinoffs - such as Laverne and Shirley (from Happy Days) and Frasier (from Cheers). Contrary to the opinion of some, even the flimsiest of reasons can be given to spinoff a show - Family Matters was spun off with the Harriette Winslow character; she had been the elevator operator for the newspaper building in Perfect Strangers. Sometimes even the spunoff character doesn't last, as in A Different World when Denise Huxtable goes right on back to New York in The Cosby Show.

Universes, on the other hand, are a little trickier, but it works like this: if there are any crossover episodes, or perhaps when even a character goes to another show, it becomes part of the 'universe'. Spinoffs are automatically included in any universe as well. The character of Steve Urkel, despite being in Family Matters, made appearances on Step By Step and Full House. Thus, those shows become part of the Family Matters universe, which itself is in the Perfect Strangers universe. Some crossovers are ridiculous, but still constitute a universe. Modern day television universes include Law and Order, which has six titled shows plus Homicide: Life on the Street, Convicted, and In Plain Sight. Another universe is CSI, which has three titled shows plus Cold Case, Without A Trace, and even Two and a Half Men.

It is a strange development within television, to be sure, but it also provides a lot of useless fun for its fans to figure out and provides fodder for arguments, which ended up being the cause of this very post. Wikipedia has a list (albeit incomplete) of spinoffs here, just for your own enjoyment.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Late August, Which Means...

...it's hot as hell, school is about to start, and the Little League World Series is upon us.

As I sit here in the sweltering heat, I have decided to contemplate the LLWS, in all of its grandiosity and just marvel at some of the stupidity of the television coverage.

The pitch counts are just as bad in Little League as they are in the Majors, but with one caveat - I can at least understand why you would want to hold off developing arms from high pitch counts, but a scorched earth policy benefits no one and harms everyone.

What is up with ESPN's 'MLB Equivalent' speed radar? Whenever a kid throws a pitch about 70 miles per hour, a little tab pops up showing what it would be if the kid was a Major League pitcher. Here's clue: he isn't a ML pitcher, so stop trying to project. 70 MPH is 70 MPH, regardless of the distance. I get it - it's really about reaction time for the hitter, but let's can the nonsense of 'potential speed' - it's a completely made up number like heat index or wind chill.

I liked the days when the umpires wore cameras on their heads to show a different view. Now, they just show from a K-Zone point of view, directly over the pitcher in a straight line to the plate. Oh God, now I sound like one of those old farts that I complain about. Yeesh.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Random Questions While Watching TV...

Why didn't the creators of The Golden Girls ever try to make Bea Arthur and Estelle Getty a little more, well, Sicilian in their appearance?

Why doesn't ESPN feature Sage Steele more prominently on their news programming? She obviously knows her stuff very well, more so than many other Sportscenter anchors.

Why can't Skip Bayless just shut up for 10 seconds?

Why does Drew Carey never wear a tie on The Price is Right, or never even feign real excitement on set?

Why did the writers on Full House mess up a good thing? The middle seasons (from about 1990-1993) were the best and devolved into Jesse/Michelle all the time.

Why do commercials talk in euphemisms about feminine issues, except for the Activia commercials that deal somewhat frankly about constipation?

Why did Dick Clark so condescendingly try to give clues to winner's circle contestants on the $25,000/$100,000 Pyramid, as if it should have been sooooooo obvious?

Where have all the cool game shows gone? Deal or No Deal, Trivial Pursuit, and Millionaire just don't quite have the same effect as Let's Make A Deal, Match Game, Password, or $25,000 Pyramid. Celebrity panels rule.

Is anyone else creeped out by the commercial of the woman sucking through a container of yogurt in the aisle?

Did anyone know that there is now a Hannah Montana PSP Pack?

What woman since June Cleaver vacuums with a dress and heels on, besides in an Oreck commercial?

No Plaxico For the Eagles

There had been whispers that the Eagles were looking into signing Plaxico Burress at the behest of Donovan McNabb and his call for 'playmakers'. Guess that won't be happening now, as Burress pleaded guilty to the weapons charges in New York.

I still feel that this is very much a 'crime' of stupidity - in other words, it isn't against the law to be a moron, but Burress got caught. However, the powers that be in New York have decided that they want to 'make an example' of Burress more than anything else. It's the price he has to pay - two years in prison, with the possibility of it being 20 months with good behavior, as well as two months of 'supervised release'. It could be worse, I suppose, but then, if Burress had been smart and not carried a gun into a club in his sweatpants and not accidentally shot himself, we wouldn't be talking about this now, would we?

(Image from Sports Illustrated)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Life Beyond Parody

The MCJ has a post demonstrating the absurdity of some Episcopalians, and it absolutely reminded me of an incident I had with a parent at a back-to-school night. Chris Johnson, the blogmaster of The MCJ, opines that the following comment would make a great epitaph for what he calls 'The Episcopal Organization':
I raised my daughter in the Episcopal Church so she would learn the traditions of our ancestors, not so she would become a believing Christian.
It is a sad, but amusing line; completely in line with the trends that have been the downfall of the Episcopal Church, as people like Mr. Johnson and others have documented so well over the years.

Anyway, in my second year of teaching, at back to school night, I was explaining the course (which was a year-long study of Scripture) and going through the points of emphasis within the course. A woman raises her hand and interrupts me: 'uh, *professor* (just imagine the sneering in her tone), I am concerned that you are going to teach that fundamentalist stuff here. You see, we are Episcopalians, we don't really believe in anything.'

I almost gagged at that point. I think I know what she wanted or meant to say, but I also think it was a Freudian slip. To this day, it is honestly the only clear memory of any back to school night I have had.

ESPN Baseball Tonight

Yes, I am speaking about the video game, rather than its namesake that appears on the four-letter network every night at 10 PM. As a kid, it was one of my favorites, even though it is quite possibly the most unrealistic 'simulation' baseball game ever created. It was great when I was 11 (I'm 27 now), but I find it to be pretty amusing still.

Set Up

The game was made sometime in late 1993/early 1994, and players have the option of either a 2 division or 3 division league - there are no regular seasons to be played; only single exhibitions and playoffs, and so the division alignments make the difference as to whether you play a division series and LCS, or just the latter. The flaw is that you get to pick your opponents. Theoretically, you could be the Braves representing the then-NL West and play against the expansion Marlins and beat them to a pulp.

Game Play

It is remarkably simple to play on the Sega Genesis - A for pitch, A for swing with the D-Pad being used to guide the pitch or whether you swing up or down. It's the fielding and playing view that can be absolutely maddening. Sometimes the ball is hit so hard that you only know the general direction in which it goes. On any fly ball a shadow will indicate where the ball will land, but it isn't always clear which fielder will get it, either. Realism isn't this game's best friend by any stretch. Any ball hit to the right fielder or directly to the center fielder can be thrown to the first baseman for an out. Triples don't occur at all, and home runs can be hit by anyone at any time regardless of whether they have 500 career homers or 5.

Other

Being part of the ESPN platform, it uses Chris Berman as the introducer - canned speech, and because so many home runs are hit, it will feel like the Derby in July - 'Back Back Back Back...Gone!' incessantly. It has Dan Patrick saying 'the whiff' whenever someone strikes out swinging. It also contains a home run derby function - 15 pitches, and I even hit 11 with an American League pitcher! Again, realism is not ESPN BBTN's friend.

Yet, I love it. I am in the World Series (as the Phillies, of course) against the A's, and am winning the series 3 games to none at this point. The game itself is MLB licensed, but not MLBPA licensed. Ergo, it has the teams and numbers of the players, but not names or likenesses of the players. I have won games 5-1, and 27-10. I can pitch Curt Schilling in every game and never get tired or hurt. In this day of uber-realistic games like MLB: The Show, ESPN BBTN is just a fun throwback to play and have a good time remembering when Chris Berman wasn't a self-righteous, narcissistic piece of sh*t.

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