Elmhurst Pub Roundtable

Where the beer is cold and the conversation loud...

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Cooperstown Weekend

First and foremost, Lance Bass coming out of the closest was only slightly less surprising than the guy from Queer Eye being gay. Good for him, slightly oddly phrased, but if ANY 14 year old girl views this as a shock, we should introduce them to reality.

That said, tomorrow is the start of one of my favorite weekends of the year. I know most of you give me crap or couldn't give a damn about the induction ceremony or spending a weekend in the middle of nowhere...which is still closer to civilization than Rob's country house...but to say this isn't a cool event is an out and out lie. Last year, our first trip up, we were in town all of 10 minutes before being 10 feet from the greatest living ballplayer, Willie Mays. You spend the weekend in the presence of true greatness, with players and executives around every corner and more people from ESPN than you can shake a stick at. Last year I was standing outside the Hall itself when Gene Michael, Yankees executive walks out with Bob Depuy heading towards the ceremony. We had dinner a couple tables over from Karl Ravech and Tim Kurkjian, met Larry Bowa and talked baseball with Gary Miller. Last year Rob Dibble was doing his radio show on the sidewalk for XM and showed off his World Series Ring as well as signed a ball. The pictures we all came back with were awesome, having pictures taken with Harmon Killebrew and seeing Duke Snyder, Rollie Fingers, Whitey Ford, and Pudge Fisk up close and personal.

Everyone is relaxed, and outside of wanting money for certain players autographs, all are gracious enough to take photographs and talk with fans. I look forward to this year. Sure, it's Bruce Sutter, but in not many other places can you get 15-20 thousand people together on a weekend and make it feel like a neighborhood barbecue. Next year will have the incredible excitement of Gwynn, possibly McGwire (God I hope not), and some ass named Ripken. But the crowds will be even larger for those three multi-appearance all-stars. The beer, the food, and the people make this trip well worth it every time I've been in the area, forget for the inductions itself. If this trip is anything like last year, I can't wait for it to come around again.

The one thing missing from it will be Peter Gammons. This would be his first chance to return to the Hall as a member. Best Wishes for continued recovery from his health problems and it will make next year's trip all the more sweet.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Some Thoughts...

Thoughts While Pondering The Meaning of Life:

--What happened to Samuel L. Jackson's career? He goes from Pulp Fiction, The Sum of All Fears, Changing Lanes, and S.W.A.T. to filming The Man and Snakes on a Plane. He has a couple coming up that hopefully redeem himself, but my favorite actor is fast losing any sort of luster he had.

--Why aren't there more prime time sporting events? Obviously baseball is a nightly thing and Saturday afternoon FOX baseball is nice, but why not a primetime telecast too like ESPN does on Sunday? While we're at it, give me a college football game on Saturday nights, whatever the best matchup of the weekend is supposed to be. I'll watch that.

--Simmons wrote an article on picking an English Premier League soccer team after watching the World Cup. Couple things here. I hate soccer, flat out. But, the World Cup was strangely entertaining. I actually enjoyed some of the play and was confused as anything over the lack of commercials. That said, I couldn't watch it for a season. I struggled for a couple weeks with it.

--Note from the article: Osama bin Laden and John Gotti are both fans of Arsenal. I think that's a good reason to stay away from that one.

--Is it bad when you're getting excited that the fantasy football magazines are coming out?

--Cooperstown Hall of Fame trip next week. I'll go more in depth as to things that I'm looking forward to later on, but the fact that Bruce Sutter is getting elected yet Goose Gossage isn't in ranks as one of the biggest travesties in sports. Sutter wasn't even the best closer of his generation. Factor in that the all-time saves leader Lee Smith is still on the outside looking in and none of it makes sense. If we're looking at him as an innovator, given his advances with the forkball, fine. But there's a different wing for that. His stats are unimpressive at best.

--Some big names floating around right now in the trade market. Abreu doesn't go anywhere, Soriano ends up in Detroit, Maddux goes to Milwaukee. That's my bet anyway. I think the deadline goes by without Boston making a deal strictly because Lester, Paps, Delcarmen, and Hansen are untouchable.

--The Celtics trying to trade for Iverson makes no sense. Pierce and AI both need the ball in their hands to create offense. Add to that, AI's work ethic is not what you need to instill in these young players. I can picture this causing disaster with Gerald Green's development.

--How fast did Flip Saunders start to get his resume together after Ben Wallace signed with the Bulls?

--In the saga of Zeke and the Knicks, the idea that he took both Renaldo Balkman and Mardy Collins because they were represented by LeBron's agents is hilarious. He assumed that it would make them more inclined to deal with him, figuring there would be no way James would sign an extension. Whoops, misread that one huh? Keep telling yourself, this is the guy that destroyed the CBA. His one season as Knicks coach will be really entertaining though.

--Also on the Balkman pick, tell me you didn't get giddy when the Knicks were on the clock at the draft. I thought the worst he would do was draft Josh Boone, who hasn't improved in three years. But it's like Christmas with them. You know you're getting a gift or two, just don't know how good it's gonna be.

--How can workouts mean so much in the NBA draft? How does Hilton Armstrong get drafted that high when he couldn't even outplay Boone for most of his senior season? Someone needs to show pro scouts and gm's this thing called game tape. Workouts can't mean this much.

--Ladies and Gentleman, your 2005 American League MVP, Alex Rodriguez! I've never seen a guy so valuable to his team, and that isn't sarcasm, treated the way he is. I dare you to take him out of that lineup. Still strong, but suddenly with a gaping hole. If they want to play Nick Green at third, as a Red Sox fan I'm fine with that.

--Is there anything more sad on TV right now than America's Got Talent?

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

MLB All-Star Game

So I go back and forth as to whether or not I actually enjoy the All-Star game. I remember growing up that it still had some importance, and people wanted to play in it. One of my fondest memories is the game in Anaheim where Bo Jackson and Wade Boggs led off the game with back to back homers off Rick Reuschel. Pitchers used to throw multiple innings and teams seemingly wanted to really win this game, for league pride, the money, whatever the case may be. To me, the turning point in this game was the one held at Camden Yards. It was a close game and the AL held back one pitcher as a "just in case" - Mike Mussina, who had led the Orioles to that point and was in his home ballpark. Sure, players hadn't played in the game before. Nothing unusual there. But this time it was different. How could a manager not play a player in his home ballpark? Mussina pitches and we don't have these issues. From this point on, the game changed, culminating in the ugly debocle that was the game in Milwaukee that saw a tie because they ran out of players. Why? It became a point for everyone who was selected to play. When you approach things that way, and have managers around the league saying for how long you can use their pitchers, thenhands become tied. Last time I checked, these guys throw what amounts to three innings during side sessions on off days.

I still like watching baseball, and there is something about seeing the best against the best. But what I wanted to see is Liriano going against Pujols, which given how the rotations will probably work out is unlikely. It's all about matchups, and if we're given them then the fans will watch, not for some gimmick about this time it counts. What made the game in 1999 special was seeing Pedro against Big Mac and Sosa, striking out the side in that inning against three of the best homerun hitters in the game. Fact is, you can't make players care about this game. You just can't. You won't be able to force Manny to play left, despite being the leading vote getter among all players. Nor will you be able to make the managers use or not use certain players. It's a tough situation. But there are ways to fix it. Allow me to elaborate.

1) Stop this every team needs a representative crap. You think people in Kansas City are going to tune in to see Mark Redman? Think again.
2) Don't let managers pick the reserves. I like the way the NFL does it: 1/3 vote to fans, 1/3 vote to players, 1/3 vote to coaches. If you want to let the fans pick the starters, that's fine, it is their game after all. But, the remainder of the players should be voted on by players and coaches. They know better than anyone else who the best at each position is. While you run the risk of teams being dominated by one or two teams, that can be fixed too.
3) Cap the number of team representatives at 5. No team should EVER have more than that. I don't care if we reincarnate the 1927 Yankees, you get 5 players. No 8 Yankees, no 7 White Sox, no 7 Mets. Worthy or not, spread the love in that way. That way you don't require each team to be represented, but you don't allow only one or two teams to be overly represented.
4) Don't make an exhibition play the defining role on home-field advantage. There is an easy fix to this one. You want it to be based on AL vs. NL right? How about overall league record in interleague play. Every team would then have a say as to who has it as well as making every game that much more important. There are good and bad teams in both leagues, so ample opportunity to prove who deserves it. And since there is absolutely no rhyme or reason to how they determine who you'll get in interleague play anyway, that doesn't even enter the equation.
5) Have a contingency plan. How about this: If the game is tied after 10 innings, there will be a homerun derby where teams select 3 players currently in the lineup. Each will receive 5 outs and TOTAL homeruns wins. If still tied after 3 players, each team will select two players from either the lineup or bench to compete under same circumstances, with their total adding to the running total. Process continues until a winner is determined, with next round being reduced to three outs. It also creates some strategy if you have to use the first set of players from the current lineup. Oh, and you can have outfielders. In other words, Torii Hunter can rob you.

I like that to start. There are other ways for certain, but let's start there and you watch, the viewership will go up, the strategy will go up, and it will be that much more fun. Oh, and we're outlawing Chris Berman from any HR type incident. No more back-back-back-back's. It's time to put that baby to bed.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Hager's Mock Draft

NBA draft is tonite. If I were GM, here is how things would unfold:

  1. Toronto - Everything says that Bargnani will be the number one pick here. I'm not sure what Toronto needs, but I don't think Italy's Raef LaFrentz is it. With Colangelo running the team, they probably take the foreigner.
  2. Chicago - Brandon Roy. He's a sure thing, the best player in the draft, and will be a solid NBA player for year.
  3. Charlotte - Adam Morrison. Can't play defense, but Charlotte needs a consistent scorer.
  4. Portland - Aldridge. No one understands the Blazers, but I bet they look to trade up with Chicago to snag Morrison. If not, this is a safe pick.
  5. Atlanta - They apparently have promised Shelden Williams, but let's pretend they haven't. They have plenty of swing type players but need to move Johnson back to two guard where he thrived in Phoenix. The RIGHT pick here is Foye.
  6. Minnesota - Another team that needs a scorer to help Garnett now. Tyrus Thomas, who could eventually takeover for him. Might go guard here though.
  7. Boston - Tough team to figure out. I think they trade the pick, but not for Telfair. If not, they go for a true point guard and grab Marcus Williams.
  8. Houston - JJ Redick, they need a shooter and despite the back problems I don't think he keeps sliding.
  9. Golden State - Rudy Gay. Replaces Dunleavy.
  10. Seattle - Hilton Armstrong. They take Shelden Williams if he's here, but otherwise they need a body that can rebound. Amazing what a good workout can do for a guy
  11. Orlando - Cedric Simmons. Looks great playing next to Howard.
  12. Hornets - Patrick O'Bryant. Definitely need a center and he's the best available. Remember the Birdman doesn't live here no mo.
  13. Philly - Rodney Carney. Athletic leaper that they snag.
  14. Jazz - The poor guy that gets stuck in Utah, a place that outlawed fun 200 years ago...Ronnie Brewer
  15. Hornets - Quincy Douby, an athletic shooter
  16. Bulls - Thabo Sefolsha, from Switzerland, because the consensus says so
  17. Indiana - Rajon Rondo, Tinsley has been sidelined and he's the best guard available
  18. Washington - Saer Sene. Because it's a funny name.
  19. Sacramento - Alexander Johnson, to continue the run on athletic swingmen
  20. New York - Shannon Brown, because Zeke doesn't have enough tweeners
  21. Phoenix - James White, they don't need much, but he fills with some depth
  22. New Jersey - Maurice Ager. He's in the mold of what Phoenix likes, but I just think this fits better
  23. New Jersey - Kyle Lowry. Kidd is still good, but on the decline. I think they need a guard here to get ready for the transition
  24. Memphis - Jordan Farmar, they could use some youth at point.
  25. Cleveland - Shawne Williams, someone athletic that can keep up with Lebron
  26. Lakers - Paul Davis, a good passing big man with a nice shooting touch. Plus he whines real well, so he fits in with the NBA
  27. Phoenix - Some random foreigner I don't know
  28. Dallas - Sergio Rodriguez, another foreign guard
  29. Knicks - Josh Boone. Because Zeke doesn't care if he hasn't changed in 4 years.
  30. Portland - If they trade Telfair to Boston, they take Mardy Collins. They probably take him anyway.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

20 years later: Lenny Bias

I was going to put this with my musings yesterday, but couldn't condense it enough...

You can't predict the future. But if you could, the Celtics would be the ones hanging a final banner in the rafters this year as grizzled veteran Len Bias looks on, having announced his retirement from basketball. Bias was the key, the cornerstone, the bridge that would carry the Celtics into the 1990's and the new century, taking the reigns from Larry Bird. He would have mentored Reggie Lewis, understood what it meant to wear the green and white, and led the team to a half dozen more titles. Wasn't meant to be though. Things changed in an instant that draft night. The church going kid who wanted nothing more than to please all those around him took what is stated as his first hit of cocaine and died that same night. The banners, dreams, and bridge died with him and left the Celtics in the state we see them currently.

Len Bias represents to the NBA, and especially to the Celtics organization, one of the greatest "what-ifs" in basketball history. Many considered Bias to be the perfect complement to the Larry Bird-led Celtics, a potential backup for both Bird and Kevin McHale who would have limited their minutes and perhaps in turn extended their careers. The second overall pick, dressed in a Jalen Rose-esque white suit, was going to be that good. The first "next Michael Jordan." It was the first in a chain of events that the Celtics haven't been able to recover from: extra wear and tear on Bird and company, the death of Reggie Lewis, ML Carr, Tim Duncan, Rick Pitino, Danny Ainge. It's odd, I hadn't realized that Bias' death was that long ago. Hell, I was too young to know much about him. But ESPN classic is back showing some of his games. Watch one, do yourself a favor. He was brash, confident, and knew he was the best. That's all there is too it. Maybe that's why he thought he was invincible, maybe that's why his legacy is what it is - a say no to drugs campaign.

I hadn't spent much time thinking about him or his potential impact on the Celtics until I watched one of those games. Now, I see the potential, I see where they could be and where they are. It doesn't as much upset me as it does disappoint me. It's my same feeling on guys like Chris Henry and Santonio Holmes and Ricky Williams, Roy Tarpley, Steve Howe, and any other you can think of. These guys have the world in the palm of their hands, millions of dollars in their pockets, and there always needs to be more. It makes you realize that athletes are human and have their demons as well, you just wish that they had the means to control them.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

At a loss...

Normally, in the course of a week, something comes up that I find interesting or that bothers me. Frankly, I haven't had time to be bothered or to think too much...and that statement shouldn't be a surprise to many people. But I was listening to sports radio and they gave me ideas for a few things to write about. So instead of my usual structured post, it's another time for general musings:

--Guys that have played shortstop and second base (regulars) for the Red Sox since 1989: Jeff Frye, Scott Fletcher, Luis Rivera, Nomar, Jody Reed, John Valentin, Mark Bellhorn, Todd Walker, Edgar Renteria, Alex Gonzalez, Mark Loretta, Marty Barrett, Tim Naehring, Luis Alicea, Mike Benjamin, Mark Lemke, Jose Offerman, Mike Lansing, Rey Sanchez, Pokey Reese, Orlando Cabrera. 17 years, 20 players. One might say that life expectancy is not good in the Sox middle infield.

--DaVinci Code movie is slightly more disturbing than the book. Liked the end to the book, thought they took a little too much artistic license with the movie personally. Maybe it's the Catholic in me, but the movie was much more unsettling to walk away from than the book was.

--Ozzie Guillen should be fined and suspended for demoting a pitcher based on the fact he wouldn't hit someone. Sure, there are codes that govern the game and maybe in that sense the pitcher should have drilled Blalock. BUT at the same time we sanction and suspend players for throwing at people and suspend coaches for allowing it to happen. Guillen's actions on the field and in the dugout were an embarassment to the game of baseball and the fact that he could get away with it is even more disturbing.

--With David Segui coming out as one of the players named, does that make him a good guy or a bad guy? His reasoning leads me to believe a bad guy.

--Seanez says the booing doesn't bother him. I suggest he gets used to it then. Anyone that pitches the way he has over the past month shouldn't be in the majors. I reserve that statement for Tavarez as well.

--Santonio Holmes and Chris Henry are looking to play for Jerry Jones' Cowboys next year. How do you get arrested twice since the draft?? And as for Henry, he's making Marcus Vick look like an amateur.

--If a team wins a Stanley Cup, and no one watches it, does it even matter?

--Bruins are said to be heading after Laviolette...hmm, seems like they could have had him after they fired Keenan and decided that Ftorek would be the answer. All Laviolette has done is get his team to the playoffs and now win a cup, first with the Islanders (playoffs) and now the Canes. Where's Robbie Ftorek now?

--If the Celtics draft JJ Reddick, I may have to hurt someone. Two words: Marcus Williams. Two more words: TRADE IT

--I love the college world series, but the sound of the ball hitting metal is just bad compared to the crack of wood.

--"So You Think You Can Dance" easily cracked my top 5 on the "keep until I delete" tivo list. The auditions for that are 10 times as funny as American Idol. It wasn't even close.

That's it for now. More tomorrow...

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Controversial Movies

So Entertainment Weekly released a list of the 25 most controversial movies of all time. Some I agree with, others don't make a whole lot of sense, and the number one movie on the list is controversial in and of itself. Here's the list with my comments as well as what was missing from it.

25. Aladdin: Apparently, critics didn't like the one line, "where they cut off your hand if they don't like your face..." Let's not get started on how ridiculous this sounds. Granted, Disney creates movies with enough sexual innuendo to irritate parents, but I think there are a few more movies that could be on the list ahead of this one or any cartoon for that matter.
24. Caligula: I'd never heard of this one, but we all know the story of this sexually depraved Roman emperor. I don't think I can argue this one being off the list, but if it's anything like the history and since it was given only limited release out of fear of obscenity lawsuits, probably could be higher.
23. Kids: The website I got the list from said this: "A group of teens prowl the streets of NYC in search of sex, booze, drugs, and other high-risk kicks." Then they felt they had to explain the controversy.
22. Do the Right Thing: Racial tension movie by Spike Lee. 'Nuff said.
21. Bonnie and Clyde: I think this is here just because of its 1967 release. The slow motion violence in this one is excessive, but released today is probably handled better.
20. Cannibal Holocaust: I actually had to watch this for a class in high school. Really creepy movie that was basically what Blair Witch came from...if it were filmed in the Amazon with Cannibal tribes.
19. Basic Instinct: Only because of the gay rights contingent that went nuts. They didn't like Sharon Stone as a man-hating lesbian. Other than the murder thing, every guy thought it was pretty hot.
18. I am Curious: I got nothing on this one.
17. Freaks: Apparently this film wasn't allowed in England until the 1960's. They'll show anything, so that does it for me.
16. United 93: Now I didn't want to see this one, but mainly because the whole incident still seemed to fresh to make a movie out of. But those who did found it more provoking than anything. I can see controversy, but the event is what it is.
15. Triumph of the Will: I won't comment on something made before my grandmother was born.
14. The Warriors: Great film if you can catch it on cable. Problem: perpetuates gang violence. Seems to me you need to be in a gang first.
13. Da Vinci Code: We know why this is here. People take things too seriously. It's thought provoking and gets you to think more in detail about the Catholic faith, but I wouldn't exactly say this is something to shake what you believe. If it is, look up FICTION in the dictionary.
12. Deer Hunter: Vietnam War movie. That has enough in it to really bother you.
11. The Message: Any movie that causes terrorists to take people hostage in D.C. should probably be a little higher on the list. Maybe because not many people saw it.
10. Baby Doll: When business competition goes overboard. Guy tries to seduce a guy's wife. The catch, wife is still a virgin. Uproar in the Catholic church over this one. If you ask me, the guy's wife was a virgin, that says enough doesn't it?
9. Last Tango in Paris: Landed people in court over obscenity charges. That's how much nudity was in this one and how "animalistic" the sex was.
8. Natural Born Killers: If this wasn't on here, something would be wrong. 12 murders linked to this movie.
7. The Birth of a Nation: Another messed up movie that depicts the KKK as saviors. I think that's enough to call this movie controversial...and nuts.
6. The Last Temptation of Christ: Satan induced hallucinations involving sex with Mary Magdalene. Dan Brown gets first idea for Da Vinci Code.
5. JFK: People took this one too seriously too. Gave Stone problems for lending credence to conspiracy theories.
4. Deep Throat: We aren't talking Watergate here. Linda Lovelace herself denounced the film.
3. Farenheit 9/11: Michael Moore and his ability to tear apart Bush. Sparked protests and made him fodder for Bill O'Reilly.
2. A Clockwork Orange: Its use of Gene Kelly's ''Singin' in the Rain''? That the movie first landed an X rating and was deemed pornographic across the U.S. was nothing compared with its reception in the U.K.: Social uproar and reports of copycat crimes led Kubrick to withdraw Clockwork from distribution in his adopted country. It wasn't officially available there again — in theaters or on video — until 2000, a year after his death.
1. Passion of the Christ: Only because people got irritated over the theory of anti-Semitism. To me, if you had gone to Church on Palm Sunday, this is nearly what you got.

My problems with this list: Anything that caused murders, hostages, copycat crimes, whatever, should be listed as 1-2-3. It's pretty simple there. If it didn't cause someone to kill another person, it wasn't that controversial. And get the Disney film off of there.