Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A Prayer To BaseBa'al

This was originally posted by me at The Good Phight under my nom de guerre, WanderingMoses -- J.L.

To the great and compassionate BaseBa’al, protector of the Game, we beseech thee to withhold thy vengeance from the Philadelphia Phillies Baseball Club and its players.

We ask of thee to guide their ground balls into the hole, their line drives to land in safety on the luscious green grass planted in thy honor, and their fly balls to sail beyond the reach of their enemy’s glove and whenever possible in thy kindness, beyond the outfield fence.

We humbly beg of thee to allow the pitchers of our Beloved Team to miss the bats of their enemies and to find the hands of Chooch always. When, in thy mercy, thou allowest the enemy to make contact, may they only hit weak grounders and popups that will always find the unfailing gloves of thy humble servants.

We implore of thee to prevent injury and to grant a safe, speedy return and resurrection of those who have temporarily left us. We also plead with thee to lift the Curse of Second Base away from this Team forevermore. We ask thee to protect and guide both the decisions of Charles F. Manuel and Ruben Amaro, Junior. Leadeth Charlie away from the abyss of the Gut and Ruben away from the folly of the Smug.

Finally, we docilely submit the following petitions for thy benevolent consideration:

For Domination by the Starting Rotation
For the Scoring of Many Runs
For the Accuracy of Ryan Howard’s Throws
For Plentiful Pinch Hits
For Bullpen Competence
For Two Halves of the Good Raul Ibanez
For 100 Wins
For Another World F*cking Championship

We ask all of these things in thy just and merciful name, O wise BaseBa’al.


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Real Blogger's MLB Predictions

I don't know how that usurper J.L. got ahold of this blog.  Let this be a reminder that anyone who gets in the way will suffer the wrath of ME.  I rule this roost and this blog, and don't ever forget that!  After the jump you will see some truly terrific predictions, unlike the crap that the usurper who calls himself my 'owner' posted.  We know that I really own him.  -- Butterscotch, the Real Author™ of this Blog.

Spring Training #6 - Predictions

Welcome to the final Lattanzi Land Spring Training edition.  This week Ryan and I are doing our predictions for the various divisions in addition to some of the awards that are given each year.  Thanks for reading along with our ramblings and thoughts on this Spring Training, and be sure to follow along during the season with relevant and pertinent baseball discussion.  Be sure to check back later as we here at Lattanzi Land unveil the real blogger's (i.e. the cat's) predictions for the season As always, comments are welcome. -- J.L.

National League East

Ryan: Phillies, Braves (Wild Card), Marlins, Nationals, Mets
Josh: Phillies, Braves (Wild Card), Marlins, Mets, Nationals

Monday, March 28, 2011

Classic Sesame Street, Part VIII

I actually had the adapted Golden Book and subsequent video to this great sketch - 'The Great Cookie Thief'.  Enjoy!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

We've Lost A Boogeyman

Nyjer Morgan has been traded from the Nationals to the Milwaukee Brewers, and that means the Morgan bobblehead I own is now either a) officially useless or b) a collector's item.  Can't decide which one, though.

There is a Phillies connection - the one for whom Morgan was traded was none other than Cutter Dykstra, the son of former Phillie and professional fraud/kook Lenny.

It's a damn shame.  I liked having Morgan around on the Nats to serve as sort of a focus of my hate on the team.  He and John Lannan together (the latter for being present at seemingly every Phillie injury) served as the boogeymen.  Now it's down to Lannan, and otherwise the Nats have a bunch of likeable people on their team - yes even Jayson Werth.

So long, Nyjer Morgan, may the NL Central fans hate you as much as Phillies and Marlin fans do.  I don't think they hated you when you played for Pittsburgh, because honestly, who the hell follows the Pirates anyway?  

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Irony Is The Cruelest Mistress

So...we (meaning the United States) have a choice.  We can continue to support the rebels through war kinetic tactics, which means giving aid and comfort to whom we have been fighting for almost ten years in Afghanistan, or we can let Qaddafi (or whatever the spelling du jour is) crush the rebels, including our enemy.

Rock, may I introduce Hard Place?

Friday, March 25, 2011

Briefly Considering the Phillies

I was able to sit and watch my first Phillies game of this Spring Training season, in which they beat the Atlanta Braves by a score of 3-1.  The Fightins' have a lot of issues as they press ahead in their quest for a fifth straight division title...

1) Chase Utley is probably going to be on the shelf for some time, and the question thus becomes who will play second base?  They have Wilson Valdez, but have also brought Luis Castillo in after he was released by the Mets last week. Castillo played well today, going 1-2 at the plate plus two walks and some good defense.  He is probably a better option than Valdez due to his on-base ability and right now he probably is playing with a chip on his shoulder.

The Feast of the Annunciation

Being nine months away from the Birth of the Lord, it is always appropriate to reflect on the event that started it all - the fiat of Mary of Nazareth.  The simplistic power of the words 'let it be done as you have said' became the initiation of mankind's redemption through the person of Jesus Christ.  A simple 'yes' from a peasant woman in a small town no one had heard of.  May we all strive to echo that 'yes' of the Mother of God.  It is never an easy task, but we pray in the hope that God grants us the grace and strength to say 'yes, let it be done'.

Although the Feast of the Visitation is not for another two months - the following is still apropos:

My soul magnifies the Lord,
And my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.
For He has regarded the low estate of His handmaiden,
For behold, henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name. 
And His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with His arm:
He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
and exalted those of low degree.
He has filled the hungry with good things;
and the rich He has sent empty away.
He has helped His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy;
As He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to His posterity forever.

Hail Mary! Full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the Fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now, and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Psychology of Bowling (Or Any Team Sport)

Over a year ago, I wrote about the mechanical aspects of bowling.  It is about repeating the same motion again and again and placing the ball in the same spot while adjusting for varying conditions - oily lanes, fatigue, and the like.  One thing that I did not mention in any way, shape, or form was the psychological aspect of bowling.  As in any competition, it is always present and don't let anyone convince you otherwise.  

There are two main ways in which it manifests itself - 1) in a personal way and 2) in a collective way.  The post I linked to above compared a lot of the mechanical aspects of bowling to those of baseball; the psychology isn't a whole lot different, and the reason is the fact that both baseball and bowling are individualized team sports; the sport is the sum of individual performances - nine players in baseball and five in bowling (at least in our league).

1) The personal - being a competitive individual, I always want to win and thus I always want to achieve the best possible score.  There is a certain pressure that I put on myself to succeed and when I am doing well, I always feel like there is something guiding my ball right into the pocket.  It is similar to a hitter saying the ball 'looks like a beach ball' coming to the plate or a basketball player stating that the hoop looks like the ocean.  There have been a handful of games when it seemed that I could do no wrong, and then there are those games when it didn't seem to matter what I did there would be a split or a poor result.  In each case, positively or negatively, it compounds with each frame and eventually becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Throw in frustration and/or anger (or worse, apathy), and a bad game becomes historically bad, such as the 106 I threw a couple of months ago.  

2) The collective - this has always been a tad underrated, because we live in a highly individualized society, but it can never be overstated that the performance of other players on your team can affect your own performance, also in a positive or negative way.  I am the fourth bowler out of five, and the first three get strikes or spares, it puts us in a good position to succeed especially if I continue the trend.  However, if all three or at least two roll open frames, then it falls upon the last two of us to 'pick up the slack', so to speak, which becomes a collision of both collective and individual psychological factors.  

When you have all five of us who badly want to win, it can become volatile - not with each other, but within ourselves, and it ends up manifesting itself in different ways.  In my younger days I let that get the better of me, but now that I have gotten a little older, I don't let it bother me...

As much.

Bad Pop Music

A couple of weeks ago, I walked through the halls at school on a Friday, and I noticed several students wearing items on their blazers or ties that said 'Rebecca Black Friday'.  I thought nothing of it, as through the last few years there have been various fads that come and go.  A couple of students came up to me that day and asked me if I had watched a certain video, because apparently this 'Friday' was a song of some sort.  I said that I had not, and they implored me to put it up on the projector and show it to the class.  I declined, said I would watch it later.  And so I did, just recently.

And boy was that a mistake.

That is close to four minutes of my life I will never be getting back. However, I will give credit where it is due - the video has close to 43 million [24 hours later, it is up to 47 million -- J.L.] views at present, and in our society, the key attribute people are after is nothing other than relevance.  In that respect, success has been achieved.

The UK Independent asked a week ago whether this is 'the worst pop song of all time'.  I don't think it is the worst of all time, but the auto-tune sound reminds me a lot of early Britney Spears.  If you listen to a song such as '...Baby One More Time', it should be clear that Britney can't really sing either - it's very flat and monotonistic.  Is 'Friday' robotic?  You bet. But you know what, bad pop music comes and goes with every generation.  Look back 50 years and tell me if you think 'Lollipop' was a deep song (I prefer the Cliff and Norm version from Cheers), or even a good one, though I would bet a lot of money that people remember it, mostly because of those stupid Dell* commercials.

*Full disclosure - I own and blog from a Dell

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Massive Overreaction and Risk-Taking

Germany is planning on eliminating nuclear energy from its grid in favor of trying to switch to all renewables and fossil fuels.  Right now, according to the linked story, that country receives approximately one quarter of its power from nuclear plants.  They had planned on executing a gradual shift away from nuclear power, but with the recent events in Japan, that gradual shift has turned into an imminent one.

What a bunch of fickle fools.

Because obviously the exact same thing is going to happen in Germany that happened in Japan.  Yeesh.  I don't know what bothers me more - the fickleness of the German government and their leader Angela Merkel, or the fact that they think they can eliminate the inherent riskiness of life merely by removing nuclear power.

Life is full of risks, things as simple as getting into the car to go to work or school every day. Even eating is a risk.  Everything we do carries some sort of element of risk; some more than others, of course.  Life doesn't consist of foam-padded walls and corners.  Nuclear power possesses risks, certainly, but the way to operate in that milieu is to manage the risk, not eliminate it.  It provides cheaper and longer-lasting power in more concrete ways than solar and wind do.  I guess it's just another case of wanting it all both ways.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Ubiquitous Public Service Announcements

As one who grew up in the 1980's and 90's, public service announcements (PSAs) were as much a part of my existence as He-Man, Ghostbusters, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, school, baseball, and video games.  Anti-drug PSAs were the ones that were completely in vogue at the time, including one with Pee-Wee Herman, one with a girl jumping into an empty pool, and even Mike Schmidt.

However, some of the classic ones will never die, such as Forest Fire PSAs and the famous 'Crying Indian' PSA.  What all of these have in common are their heavy-handed way of getting the message out.  Sometimes it was effective; often it wouldn't be, for the reason that they were so easy to mock even in their own times.

Even more insidious were the 'very special episodes' of shows in my youth that functioned essentially as thirty-minute PSAs, such as Punky Brewster, Blossom, and Diff'rent Strokes.  My favorite PSA of all time, though, is not even a real one, but one that was made within an episode of Saved By the Bell.  I love it because it was so hokey and it didn't just break the fourth wall - it completely firebombed the whole damn thing.  Enjoy...

MD Alcohol Tax Redux

Almost three months ago, I had blogged about a proposal in Maryland to charge a ten-cent tax per beverage, which would come out to sixty extra cents for a six-pack of beer and $2.40 extra on a case.  I thought it was dumb idea then, and the latest proposal is just as foolish - raising the sales tax on just alcohol one percent per year for the next three years.

What is the purpose of raising such a tax?  Well, there isn't really one...
Though the bill does not earmark proceeds for any particular purpose, Senate aides said the revenue would likely help increase school funding and programs for people with disabilities.
So our fair state has a humongous shortfall that has to be closed, as the solution is to raise a sin tax.  It's for the children!  Never mind its regressive nature or that it will cause a downward spiral in revenue, a la cigarette taxes.  The powers that be could actually be solving the problem in a real fashion, but damn it, there are unions that need to be pandered to!  


Spring Training #5 - The National League East

The last few weeks, we have been concentrating on previewing the Phillies. This week we concern ourselves with the other four National League East teams.  Ryan got the Mets and Marlins; I got the Braves and Nationals. Records and finishes are from last season. As always, comments are welcome. -- J.L.

Atlanta Braves (91-71) -- 2nd Place; NL Wild Card Winner

Key Acquisitions: Dan Uggla (Trade), George Sherrill (FA)

Key Losses: Omar Infante (Trade), Matt Diaz (FA), Kyle Farnsworth (FA), Billy Wagner (Retired), Troy Glaus (FA), Melky Cabrera (FA), and Rick Ankiel (FA)

The Braves are in a sort of ‘neither here nor there’ transition period at this time. They have a new manager in Fredi Gonzalez, who is the first new manager for the Braves in over twenty years as Bobby Cox retired. Gonzalez does have the advantage of being from the Cox school of managing (he was the third base coach in Atlanta for some time), and that transition should be smoother than, say, the one the Phillies underwent at both the front and back ends of the Larry Bowa era (2001-04).

Monday, March 21, 2011

A Pitcher's Best Friend...

Getting ready for baseball season involves many things.  I have been watching several Phillies-related videos over the past few hours, but there is a video to share here.  It is called 'The Art of the Twin Killing' - it is a series of double plays the Phillies turned in 2008 (including the postseason) set to classical music.  It is very nice to watch.  Enjoy! 

Classic Sesame Street, Part VII

I have decided to move away from the songs for this week's installment of Classic Sesame Street as we go through Ernie's logic when he breaks the cookie jar that he and Bert own.  It still cracks me up, especially watching Bert's reaction to everything.  Let it never be forgotten that Henson and Oz's chemistry carried over to their roles on camera, even as puppeteers. Just for kicks, though...'Ride 'em Cowboy!'

NCAA Tournament = Utter Toast

Want to see some craptacular bracket picking?  Here are both of mine after completion of the first two rounds of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament (Click to enlarge).  I don't care what sort of nonsensical re-branding the NCAA is doing, the rounds of 64 and 32 will still be the first and second rounds; the alleged 'first round', or 'First Four' will always be known as the play-in games.  But I digress...

First, from Ryan's bracket contest:

Absolutely killed.  Three of four Final Four teams are done.  Terrible picking by me.  Here is the bracket from my participation in Nick's contest:

Better, yes....but only good for middle of the pack.  What was I thinking sending Notre Dame to the national championship game?  They got destroyed by Florida State!  One more week and we will see more damage done to my alleged picking skills.  Stay tuned...

Sign Me Up!

There is a good piece online at The American Spectator about the possibilities with small nuclear reactors in towns - the same types that are used to fuel aircraft carriers and submarines.  

I have said a few times on this blog that nuclear is the way to go - especially for the electrical grid.  Small reactors that are, as the author of the piece says, the size of a couple of bathtubs and only need to have their fuel replaced every five years is a good way to become fuel efficient and 'go green' if that's your sort of thing.  

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Book Review: America's Bishop

I just finished reading the first comprehensive biography ever written about Archbishop Fulton Sheen, entitled America's Bishop: The Life and Times of Fulton J. Sheen.  Written by Thomas C. Reeves, it goes all the way from the late 1800's (Sheen was born in 1895) in discussing how Sheen's family came to America to his death in late 1979.  

For many people (if they know who he is at all), Fulton Sheen represented a certain kind of telegenic and media-savvy Catholicism.  His radio program The Catholic Hour gave him his first major exposure, but it was his television program Life Is Worth Living that was so incredibly popular in its time (1952-57) for both Catholics and non-Catholics alike. Sheen himself actually won an Emmy for it. However, he was so much more than just a media figure.  He was also a prolific writer, a generous boss, a caring relative, and an ambitious and occasionally vainglorious personality.  

Reeves attempts to leave no stone unturned in his story about Sheen, from his childhood in Illinois to his studies in Europe to the politicking on the faculty at Catholic University; from his rise as a media star to his falling out with Francis Cardinal Spellman, the Archbishop of New York; and from a thundering anti-Communist speaker to tireless advocate for social justice.  It is a very fair account; it is not given to sensationalism, unlike some other books written about his contemporaries.  

A couple of things stood out as I was reading....

Saturday, March 19, 2011

A Three-Front War...

Oh goody...

I hope we know what we are doing.  I pray that the President and his advisors made the correct decision in getting involved.  

Happy Feast of St. Joseph!

Now, let's get the real festivities going.  Poseurs pretending to be Irish is so passé. Don't get me wrong, St. Patrick was a pretty cool guy, but did he have the responsibility of taking care of the Lord in the flesh?? Hmmmmm????

I think not!

Lenten regulations prohibit the doing of penance on a solemnity - let us offer a toast to the protector of the Holy Family, earthly father of the Lord, and just an all-around good guy.

Oh, and being Italian is good too on this day...

Oh, St. Joseph, whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the throne of God. I place in you all my interests and desires. Oh, St. Joseph, do assist me by your powerful intercession, and obtain for me from your devine Son all spiritual blessings, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. So that, having engaged here below your heavenly power, I may offer my thanksgiving and homage to the most loving of Fathers.

Oh, St. Joseph, I never weary of contemplating you, and Jesus asleep in your arms; I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart. Press Him in my name and kiss His fine head for me and ask him to return the Kiss when I draw my dying breath. St. Joseph, Patron of departing souls - Pray for me.
St. Joseph, pray for us.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Losers' Bracket

I promised the world I would show my bracket and how it has already been destroyed even just six hours into the NCAA tournament.  This is from my group with Ryan.  You will discover shortly why I named mine "The Losers' Bracket" (Click to enlarge)...

UPDATE: Goodnight, Vanderbilt.  It's only going to get better from here.

Stupid GQ and Poor 'Journalism'

So GQ has done a slide-show feature about the fifteen worst fan bases in sports.  I already knew that Philly fans would somewhere be on the list.  However, the description of Eagles and Phillies fans as the number two and number one worst fans in sports got grating very fast.  It's just another example of the ridiculous and atrocious meme of the 'awful Philly fan'.  To wit...
Over the years, Philadelphia fans have booed Santa Claus, their own star players, and most absurdly, the recipient of America's very first hand transplant, whose crime was dribbling in a ceremonial first pitch—thrown with his freshly transplanted hand. Boooo! Admittedly, there are some things fans have cheered. Like Michael Irvin's career-ending neck injury and a fan being tased on the outfield grass. Things reached their nadir last season, when Citizens Bank Park played host to arguably the most heinous incident in the history of sports: A drunken fan intentionally vomited on an 11-year-old girl. The truth is this: All told, Philadelphia stadiums house the most monstrous collection of humanity outside of the federal penal system. "Some of these people would boo the crack in the Liberty Bell," baseball legend Pete Rose once said. More likely, these savages would have thrown the battery that cracked it.
How original.  Instead of going and doing some investigative work, let's just slap together some old stories and treat one obnoxious jerk throwing up on a girl as if it could only happen in Philadelphia.  I am not generally thin-skinned, but my whole life I have had to hear this laundry list of 'sins' by Philly fans from a bunch of know-nothings...actually, let me rephrase that...I have to hear it from people who ought to know better.  Try something original, people, instead of just repeating the same old tired canard.  I will not stoop to a tu quoque argument about other fan bases, but I will comment on the fact that there is a blatant double-standard when it comes to reporting/commenting on any kind of questionable fan behavior at a Philadelphia sporting event.

Allow me one final insult to GQ and their little story format - their slideshow makes Bleacher Report look like a respectable and professional journalistic outfit.  

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Call Arsenio Hall, There's Something Amiss Here...

...and I can't quite put my finger on it.

Boston College, an ostensibly Catholic institution of learning, has hosted a 'Meatless Monday' in the name of saving the planet, but serves meat on Fridays during Lent.

(H/T to The Corner)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Classic Sesame Street, Part VI

This week's Classic Sesame Street has one of the oldest clips around - Big Bird singing the Alphabet Song - pronouncing the whole alphabet as one word.  Carroll Spinney was still doing Big Bird as a sort of Bullwinkle-sounding creature at this point in time, so if he sounds a little funny, that's why...

Lenten Abstinence - Letter vs. Spirit

I had a very interesting conversation with a couple of my students on Friday, as it was the first Friday of Lent and the cafeteria was serving fish sandwiches and an assortment of other meatless offerings.  The question came up as to whether eating vegetarian offerings in the shape and form of meat, such as veggie-burgers and tofu hot dogs violate the spirit of the law in regard to the Lenten abstinence. Clearly, it doesn't violate the letter of the law, which says the following...
Abstinentiae lex vetat carne vesei, non autem ovis, lacticiniis et quibuslibet condimentis etiam ex adipe animalium
Which, by the way, is translated (poorly by me) as...
The abstinence law prohibits the use of meat, but not of eggs, milk, or condiments made from animal fat
Veggie-burgers and such are clearly not mammal and poultry flesh (the meaning of carne). But they look like the same kind of offerings that one would find at McDonald's/Burger King. If giving up meat is supposed to be an act of penance and a sacrifice, then it is probably imprudent to eat such imposters.  While I am inclined to say that yes, it violates the spirit of the law, this is one of those things where the letter has the upper hand.  Therefore to eat veggie-burgers and tofu dogs are just fine.  They are gross, to be sure, but not a violation of any sort.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sunday Observations

- It was a brutal week all the way around, hence there was less posting here at Lattanzi Land.  Where to start?  My health took a massive hit this week, and the fact that we are rapidly approaching the end of the marking period in school sort of put together a perfect storm of blogging inactivity.  The amount should be going up in the next few weeks as things settle down.

- Lent is here!  The question always comes about - what are you giving up for it?  That question is better suited to the younger crowd; as adults we should be looking at what we are doing for Lent rather than merely what we are not doing or giving up.  If this liturgical season is about penance, then it is important to take an active approach to it rather than a passive one.

- Please pray for the people in Japan who have been affected by the earthquake, tsunami, and now the failure of the nuclear reactors.  All in all, a horrible situation, and may God be with them.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Breaking the NFL Moratorium

The much anticipated NFL lockout is finally here, complete with the players decertifying and filing an anti-trust suit.  Even a week's extension wasn't enough to break the impasse between the players and the owners, and I would say in some ways, the extension added gasoline to the fire.  

Anyway, the battered wives were out in full force yesterday and are today, imploring; nay, begging the NFL and the players to come to an agreement.  For the sake of the children!  Ok, they didn't actually say that, but the attitude emanating from a lot of comments left on the various BWS articles show that fans have an attitude similar to that of Mrs. Joseph Goebbels in the waning days of the Third Reich*.

The NFLPA's decertification is ironic, especially in its timing.  We have heard over and over again how vital unions are to our society in the past month, and yet, the players of the NFL have decided that the best course of action is not to have a union, that having a union would actually be detrimental to their position.  The lawsuit which has been filed is being done so in the name of ten players, including Tom Brady, Drew Brees, and Peyton Manning.  On anti-trust grounds, they contend that the NFL is really acting as one business while trying to maintain they are thirty-two separate businesses, and thus stifling the players' ability to fairly earn compensation in what would amount to a price-fixing scheme.  Furthermore, they are looking for an injunction that would end the lockout.  However, that is a little harder to come by since the players aren't exactly going to be broke by missing some time; at least they shouldn't be.  

Anyway, that's my one statement about the lockout.  The moratorium goes back on at this point until the lockout ends, whenever that happens.  If you are looking for people with more commentary on this, considering reading Caputo's Corner, as Nick is presenting an A through Z look at the lockout.  I, for one, go back to preparing for baseball season. Enjoy!

*Mrs. Goebbels said that she couldn't bear to raise her children in an environment where National Socialism didn't exist, and thus should just die.  The attitude of the commentariat is they would rather not live in an environment where there is no NFL.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Spring Training #4 - The Phillies Outfield

Last week, we took a look at the Phillies' infield, and now we move to the outfield, once again following with strengths and weaknesses.  This is the final position preview edition; next week we change directions as Spring Training rolls along.  Ryan got the starters this week, and I got the bench.  As always, comments are welcome. -- J.L.

Raul Ibanez (LF) -- .275/.349/.444, 112 OPS+, 75 R, 16 HR, 83 RBI, 1.0 WAR

Strengths: He has good patience at the plate. He can adjust to pitches thrown earlier in the count. When he is on a hot streak, he can hit with anyone in the league. He is able to go with pitches the opposite way.

Weaknesses: He is a horrible fielder. He doesn’t have a good arm. He can be strikeout prone when in a slump. He is a very streaky hitter, when in those streaks he usually cannot hit at all. He is a slow base runner. Sometimes he makes dumb mistakes on the basepaths.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Governing Is Harder Than Campaigning...

President Obama swore that he was going to complete shut down the holding of terrorist suspects at Guantanamo Bay within one year of taking office, and had banned any kind of military tribunals for terror suspects.  Today, he signed an executive order allowing for the resumption of such tribunals, much to the chagrin (I'm sure) of those who supported him through the campaign.  

It's easy to pander, but pandering doesn't work for long when the tough choices have to be made, and this is not any different.  It is likewise with the idea of staying or leaving Iraq and Afghanistan.  Only a rank amateur would just announce the exact moment he is leaving. Conditions on the ground will dictate that, a lesson that it took a while for the current administration to learn, but thankfully they did learn some of it.

One year from now, we will see President Obama in his element once more, but it will be an awkward mix of campaigning and governing.  Which one will prevail?

Classic Sesame Street, Part V

This week's edition of classic Sesame Street goes back to Bert and Ernie, with Ernie doing a number with dancing to put himself to sleep, complete with the "Boogie-Woogie Sheep".  Bert, as always, is not amused, but this time he ends up outside, courtesy of the sheep...

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Sunday Observations

- It is a pretty ugly day here on the East Coast. It's about fifty degrees, but dreary as hell, and raining.  But, it is March, thankfully.

- Gas prices are still on the up - $3.42 per gallon now.  I said last week, and it still holds true, that we can control our own destiny here if we simply had the will to do so, rather than continuing to line the pockets of foreign despots and radical governments.  People can moo on and on  about 'Wall Street speculators', but so long as the supply is threatened, the price will rise.  That's something that people should have learned in Economics 101, but alas, I don't see too many colleges even offering that kind of course, much less making it a compulsory graduation requirement.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Grandy Out At WMAL

The last couple of days on my drive to school, I had noticed that 630 WMAL's The Grandy Group had some guest hosts filling in for Fred Grandy, and I thought, eh, Fred must have gone on vacation or something.

I was always entertained whenever I got to hear Grandy's wife (Catherine Mann), known as 'Mrs. Fred' to the listening audience. She has a sharp wit and is very knowledgeable of what she speaks. It's unfortunate that because she happened to share some information about the acknowledged effort to bring Sharia Law to the United States, the WMAL management decided that she couldn't be on the air again.  Fred, to his credit, decided that he couldn't be privy to such stifling of speech, and so he tendered his resignation.  

Some are speculating that CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations) was behind the pressuring of WMAL, but at this point, it is nothing more than that.  Although, as always, the truth will come out.  It's a shame, because The Grandy Group, like its predecessor, The Grandy and Andy Morning Show, was an intelligent and thoughtful program that sought to deal with the tough issues with a smile.  I hope that an effort can be made to bring Fred back, but I am not holding my breath at this point.  

Friday, March 4, 2011

The BYU Case

As per custom here at Lattanzi Land, I don’t like to be first out of the gate in commenting on a story, but rather to let things settle before offering my take, and the story about the Brigham Young basketball player being suspended/expelled from the team is yet another example. My rationale is it sometimes takes a couple of days for the facts to come out, especially concerning the whys of the story. It had been reported that Brandon Davies had been suspended for ‘violating team rules’, then it came out that he had ‘violated the honor code’, whatever that meant.

True to form, and a little patience (something the media lacks in this era of 24-hour news cycles) later, it was revealed that Davies had been removed for engaging in sexual activity with his girlfriend.

Let me say, good for BYU, for living up to their code. Agree with it or not, they weren’t afraid to uphold their standards, as harsh as they may seem. If it is true that all players knew these rules beforehand, then there is no excuse whatsoever. I find it very hard to ratchet up sympathy for Brandon Davies in this case.

He had to have understood that Brigham Young, being a Mormon institution, was going to have different rules of conduct than, say, USC or the University of Miami, or even the University of Notre Dame, because Mormonism has the streak of Puritanism in it that is not present in a secular state school (obviously) or even a Catholic school. The people who are criticizing BYU for having (and enforcing) the code are barking up the wrong tree and fighting the wrong fight.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

An Awesome Commercial

This has been linked and embedded in a lot of places, but I am going to put it up anyway, because it is that funny of an ad...

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Spring Training #3 - The Phillies' Infield

Last week, we covered the Phillies' pitching staff. This week, we move to the infield, keeping with the similar forms of strengths and weaknesses. I covered the starters and Ryan got the reserves on the bench. As always, discussion is welcomed in the comment thread. -- J.L.

The Starters

Carlos Ruiz (C) – .302/.400/.447, 128 OPS+, 43 R, 8 HR, 53 RBI, 4.4 WAR

Strengths: He has a good on-base percentage and has the ability to put the ball in play, despite not having that great of a batting average and below average power. He is a smart base runner and can even steal the occasional base. He has been one of the Phillies’ true ‘red-light players’. We haven’t even mentioned the ability for which he is praised the most – handling the pitching staff. It can be a tad overrated, but ‘Chooch’ has been consistent in this regard.

Weaknesses: Could be a little better with throwing out base runners, and while he hit .302 in 2010, his career norms are a little lower than that. Otherwise, he is the ideal number eight hitter and a very good catcher.

It's March!

My absolutely favorite month of the year is finally, finally over.

March brings spring, new hope, and a new baseball season.

It brings spring break, budding trees and lions and lambs.

It brings Madness and thrills and defeats.

It brings the promise of many treats.

Long days, shorter nights.

Just finally feels once again, quite right.