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.