October 31, 2005

What I cooked this weekend

It's squash season, so Saturday night we had braised chicken with butternut squash and white beans. Unfortunately, this was not as good as it sounded--a bit on the bland side. I thought it was a little short on liquid to be a proper braise, so I added some water. If I did it again, I'd use chicken broth instead.

Sunday night: High-falutin! pan-fried filet mignon, baked sweet potato fries (which were very good despite not being crispy enough to be considered "fries"), and steamed broccoli.

Posted by Carl at 10:04 AM | Comments (0)

Boo I say boo

Happy Halloween, evry'buddy. Enjoy the strange and cautionary tale of The Great Old Pumpkin (thanks Tor for the link). And if you've never read the superlative John Dies At the End, prepare to lose several hours of productivity today.

Posted by Carl at 09:54 AM | Comments (0)

October 28, 2005

Linking Fool Friday (Fitzmas Edition)

The indictments are proceeding, as you can read about elsewhere. Let's review the best items leading up to this, shall we? I particularly enjoy this review of those who were against perjury before they were for it, reminding us of that eternal truth: IOKIYAR. And don't forget those who expected the entire Clinton administration to resign over things that seem pretty damn trivial in comparison.

And sadly, the American military death toll from the related Iraq war reached 2000 this week. The wingnut wing of war supporters, unable to explain why this sacrifice was necessary, took to accusing war opponents of celebrating this milestone.

The story of truly awful white supremacist teenage singing group Prussian Blue made the rounds this week; Gilliard's final comment on it is what makes it worth linking to.

In the not-so-serious, this item on crazy fast food restaurants is amusing, but I'm pretty sure you don't actually need a clearance to eat at the Pentagon Subway. You need the proper credentials to get in the building, sure, but an actual clearance is another matter altogether. I haven't played online poker in quite some time, but still I am pleased that no quotes of mine ended up in this compendium of quotes by terrible poker players. You can download a Son Volt show here. And finally, a piece my two-year-old could have written: Fire truck!

Posted by Carl at 03:01 PM | Comments (1)

October 27, 2005

World Series game 4: another curse retired

Other responsibilities and a general lack of urgency to the game kept me from watching much until about the 8th inning. Love Uribe's dive into the stands in the 9th, and I am impressed that Buck and McCarver didn't mention Derek Jeter even once after that.

Props to the White Sox. Let the speculation that 2006 MUST be the Cubs' year begin.

Additions: Scalzi has a good post on what the Series means for fans of each Chicago team. I disagree with him, though, that "The Red Sox are now just another team," at least in the eyes of their fans. Sure, their curse is broken, but they still think of themselves and their team as special, just now it's with a sense of entitlement rather than eternal heartbreak. The "curse" is just part of their history now. Before, there was something admirable about the dedication of Red Sox fans in the face of such futility; now, they share the insufferable nature of Yankee fans.

ESPN's Scoop Jackson tours Wrigelyville and finds it quiet. One of his interviewees suggests it's racially motivated; I have my doubts, but I don't know Chicago well enough to say for sure. Is it wrong for Cubs fans to not celebrate the White Sox series win? Or would that make them bandwagon-jumpers?

For those who have followed the team all along, such as Black Betsy, it's sweet indeed. I hope to get that feeling again someday. Haven't had it since 1980.

Posted by Carl at 08:46 AM | Comments (1)

October 26, 2005

More mascot news than you really wanted

All these mascots are running around my bookmarks wreaking havoc, so let's get them out of the way now rather than waiting for Friday.

An Oakland A's blogger asks just what their mascot is doing. I agree with this in general--a mascot who makes but one or two brief appearances a game is a lame mascot indeed. Mostly, however, I'm impressed at the length of the comment thread that follows. Everyone's got an opinion on Stomper, it seems.

The Denver Nuggets poll their fans, and learn the upper deck wants more Rocky. Well, no kidding. The lower level fans are privileged enough as it is. I've never had my picture taken with Rocky (hell, I've never been to Denver), but I've seen footage of his confrontations with Charles Barkley, which were top-notch.

WKU's Big Red in a children's book. I'm pretty sure it was Big Red who starred in one of the best ESPN commercials ever: the amorphous mascot stands outside the restrooms, looking confused. Men... Women... Men... Women. One of the anchors wanders by and says "You should probably just go out back and use the bushes."

You too can have a mascot show up at your party... for a fee. As much as I would enjoy this, if anyone is planning on surprising me for my birthday or anything, I'd rather have a Palm Tungsten E2 (and you could buy two of them for what it would cost to rent Screech for an hour).

Posted by Carl at 04:14 PM | Comments (0)

World Series game 3

OK, hands up, who else besides me was asleep on the couch when Geoff Blum hit that home run? One, two...hmmm, not that many.

New question: who was asleep in bed when Geoff Blum hit that home run? Ah, the rest of you, the people with any freakin' sense.

Too much other stuff going on during the game last night, so I passed up on liveblogging it. I know that disappoints maybe two of my six readers. However, I did catch this Tim McCarver gem: "A drop and drive pitcher is a pitcher who drops, and drives." Thanks Mr. Wizard! That explains everything!

So now it's 3-0 White Sox, which means we'll hear approximately 5 references per minute to last year's ALCS until this series is mercifully over. "Finally! An opportunity to talk about the Yankees and Red Sox!" all the sports pundits say.

Posted by Carl at 10:15 AM | Comments (3)

Everybody's frappin frappin frappin frappin

I will probably regret this, because it will confirm how few readers I actually have. But what the hell: Put yourself on the map, please.

Posted by Carl at 10:10 AM | Comments (0)

October 24, 2005

Let's make fun of Freecycle

17. Offer: November issue of Dance

Not that odd by itself, but then:

18. Offer: October issue of DANCE

Someone might already have the October issue, and will only want to schlep to your house for the November issue of a $4 magazine. So, best to offer them up seperately.

Subject: Offer: Sombreros
I have ten sombreros, and assorted blow up mexican themed items.

Already taken by the time I got the message. Dammit, I never get the good stuff.

Subject: Offer: Two Face Masters Facial Muscle Exercises

Um, what? Something to make you look like a Batman villain?

My two QVC purchases...thought I'd try to stave off those wrinkles but
I decided to age gracefully and not worry about the lines.

You apply gel to the contacts and touch the surface of your face at
specific points. The electric impulse causes the muscle to contract.

The Face Master was promoted by Suzanne Somers. I have the
instructional video as well as a bottle of conductive solution.

OK, that's it, this entry is over. I can't follow that.

Posted by Carl at 02:05 PM | Comments (0)

October 23, 2005

World Series game 2

Bottom 1st: Just tuning in, so I missed any inanities from Jeannie Zelasko and company. I will depend on King Kaufman at Salon to fill us in on those tomorrow. It will be a minor miracle if I make it through this game, let alone write much about it, as I am freakin' tired.

Top 2nd: Fox just came very close to missing Ensberg's home run entirely. We didn't get to see the pitch; they came back from the commercial to show the ball going over the wall. Kaufman is right; Fox obviously hates baseball.

Bottom 2nd: Awful baserunning, just awful. Rowand has to be farther down towards second base, there. It looked like maybe he was thinking about tagging up from first, but that's still the wrong play.

Oh snap! Biggio waits all this time to get the World Series, and then he clanks a pop-up! Dumb baserunning doesn't matter now.

I like the steal on the very next pitch. I think waiting for a certain pitch to steal is overrated--if you're gonna go, man, go.

Bottom 4th: Via TBogg, a World Series item at the Onion. Didn't really crack me up until the Pierzynski line.

Why is there an enormous arch-sign reading "Fundamentals" in the outfield at New Comiskey?

Bottom 5th: Egads, I find myself agreeing with Tim McCarver. I think Pettite's move to first is, frequently, a balk. The replay they showed in the top of the 6th sure looked like Pettite's front leg crossed behind his back leg, which means he has to go home. As for the step towards first vs. toward home, why don't they put a chalk line on the mound and say "If you step on this line or on the home side of it, it's a balk." Yes, it would mar the lovely playing field, but it would remove a lot of controversy for Mike Stanton and his ilk.

Botton 7th: Speaking of waiting your whole life to get to the World Series and then tanking... sucks to be Chad Qualls right now. Konerko rocked that friggin' ball. Wheeler's all sitting on the bench going "Hell, I coulda done that, should have left me in."

Top 8th: fifteenth replay of Dye not actually getting hit by a pitch. Hooray, a blown call that we'll get to see again and again and hear about for months. At least it didn't involve Pierzynski, so we don't have to hear about how trouble follows him.

Top 9th: Jenks and the Astros making it interesting in the 9th. The Astros pinch-hit with two outs and guys on second and third; Joe Buck is all lovin' the home run hitters and assuming it'll be Mike Lamb, but instead it's Jose Vizcaino. Hey, a single could tie the game; you don't need a goon up there. And Vizcaino comes through, though a good throw would have nailed Burke to end the game.

Christ almighty, I just told Mrs. Fool I'd be up to bed soon, and now it's a damn tie game.

Bottom 9th: Bless you, Scott Podsednik. I'm going to bed.

Posted by Carl at 08:27 PM | Comments (0)

...if you think plummeting to your death is fine

Last night we were at Six Flags, and on the verge of closing time we get off of some roller coaster and come upon the Tower of Doom, loading up for what will probably be its final run. You sit down, they haul you up this big tower, and then they drop you--not a real exciting ride, IMO, but there was no line (rain last night kept the crowds away), so we pile on. There are three seats on a side, so my dawg and I get on two of them, and the third is taken by a girl of about 10 or 12.

A harness-thingy goes over your head to lock you in, and then there's a seat belt-esque strap that is attached to the seat between your legs, and the buckle attaches to the harness in the middle. I was having trouble snapping the buckle, what with my hands all restricted by the harness, so the surly teenager running the ride snaps it for me. (Not that I blame him for being surly--his shift probably started before noon, working for near minimum wage, and it had rained all day.) He also snaps it for my friend, and then goes and starts firing up the ride.

"I'm not buckled yet!" says the girl to my right. And I shit you not, the ride op looks up and says "You'll be fine," and fires it up. I was wondering whether I should hold her hand, or otherwise attempt to keep her from being flung from her chair. But apparently the harness was enough, as we were hauled up and then dropped down without her being projected into space. We walked past her after as she was rather distraughtly telling her father what happend. But we had been drinking, so we couldn't stop laughing about it.

Posted by Carl at 07:48 PM | Comments (1)

October 21, 2005

Linking Fool Friday

Not a whole lot to report on this week. Much of the political discussion on this side of Olde Blogge Towne is speculation on the Plame investigation, and I have a hard time getting too caught up in that. Yes, it's important in the grand scheme of things, but honestly, I'd rather wait for something to actually come of it than sit around and wonder.

I've got a few things, though, like this article on the overwhelmingly white nature of crowds at rock concerts. I seriously hope the author is exaggerating, or letting the actions of a very few friggin' morons sway the perception of the whole crowd. Because otherwise... man, white people sure are stupid sometimes. "If they play it then it's music," as the sample says, and let all come and hear. Fishbone Family Forever.

Good review of Dan Savage's new book, which I will check out as soon as I read the 250 other titles on my "to be read" pile.

And finally, dig this cool-ass fractal broccoli-cauliflower type thing.

Assuming circumstances permit (and by "circumstances" I mean "my children"), World Series liveblogging will take place in this space starting with game two. I'll be at Six Flags tomorrow night and will thus miss the opener.

Posted by Carl at 03:33 PM | Comments (0)

October 19, 2005

Mascot news

I've got a fever... and the only cure is... more Youppi!

Posted by Carl at 02:44 PM | Comments (0)

Bunny Greenhouse is back for more

I have posted previously about Bunny Greenhouse, the USACE contracting official who dared to stand up to cronyism and no-bid contracts in Iraq, and got fired for her trouble. The Post has their own article on her story.

With the war looming, the agency wanted to award a no-bid "emergency" contract to Kellogg, Brown and Root (a Halliburton subsidiary) that was originally scheduled to last for two years -- and up to five years -- to provide a range of services in Iraq.

A potential five-year emergency? Worth billions? On a no-bid contract?

Seriously. Contracting 101, which I took at Fort Lee many moons ago: if an action is too urgent and compelling to take the time to compete it, fine, get it done. But a requirement of more than a year is not urgent and compelling. Award it no-bid for the length of time it will take you to do a proper competition. But the public at large fails to give a crap, so it goes on.

I [heart] Bunny Greenhouse.

Posted by Carl at 11:21 AM | Comments (0)

October 17, 2005

Whatever happend to "Protect the plate?"

It seems that hitters are getting caught looking at strike three more than ever. Yesterday, Jim Edmonds got rung up in the 6th, and told the ump "That's terrible" as he left home plate. To my layman's eye, that pitch looked like it was right there. He got tossed for arguing balls and strikes in the 8th, but by that time I had tuned out so I don't know if it was a valid beef or not. In any event, when I was a kid we were taught that you had to swing at anything close once you had two strikes on you. Foul it off if it's borderline but not a really good pitch to hit. But these days, major league hitters apparently believe so thoroughly in their own strike zone judgment that they're willing to take a pitch on the corner. What's up with that?

The other stupid thing I heard while watching sports yesterday: Phil Simms singing the praises of Tom Brady, how mentally tough he is, blah blah blah. That wouldn't be so outlandish, except he did it after Brady had completed a 2-yard pass on 2nd and 15. And Simms wonders why many of us are sick of the Patriots?

Posted by Carl at 12:43 PM | Comments (0)

Linking Fool Friday (Monday Edition)

LFF missed its normal day due to the wave of stomach flu that engulfed our house. Similarly, I could pre-empt "What I cooked this weekend" in favor of "What I threw up this weekend," but I'll spare you.

You've heard about the impending heating fuel crisis, right? Apparently the majority party hasn't, because they haven't done much about it. Somehow, it will be the Democrats' fault, I just know it.

DCFud brings us an interesting, if overbearing, article on modern food porn. Locally, the Del Ray Dreamery, where Mr. and Mrs. Fool ate many a frozen custard when we lived in Alexandria, is being forced to change its name by big bad corporate America. Statewide, Repub candidate for governor Jerry Kilgore is so desperate, he's running ads claiming Tim Kaine wouldn't execute Hitler. Because, you know, whether a candidate would execute Hitler is so relevant to how he'd run the state.

Finally: Ian at WULAD is having Jeannie Zelasko issues.

Posted by Carl at 10:57 AM | Comments (0)

October 12, 2005

Tax strategery!

Via Atrios et. al., word that Republican lawmakers are considering limiting the tax deduction for mortgage interest. Because, you know, the estate tax is so unfair.

I gather from reading the details that they wouldn't be eliminating the deduction entirely, just putting a cap on it, and thus it wouldn't cut as deeply as one might think. But still, if Republicans want their Type 4 followers to snap out of it in a hurry and summarily cast the lot of them out of office at their earliest opportunity, this would be a good way of doing it. Type 4s who think they're wealthy enough to be Republicans won't realize the estate tax won't apply to them until they're already dead, but mess with that mortgage interest deduction and they'll notice right away.

And while we're talking about Type 3s and 4s, enjoy another fine Orcinus post on the true nature of fascism. This seems relevant:

In other words, the Nazis did a classic bait-and-switch: They convinced working-class people to vote against their own self-interest by clever use of propaganda techniques and pretending to embody their values, but then screwed them over from one end to the other once they had obtained power.

Posted by Carl at 03:06 PM | Comments (0)

what a wonderful freakin' day

It's rainy and gray. Baseball season is over (locally, anyway). We're still stuck in Iraq. Heating bills are going to obscene this winter. We're all going to die from avian flu. And then Kurt Vonnegut has to go and write this:

"Where is home? I've wondered where home is, and I realized, it's not Mars or someplace like that, it's Indianapolis when I was nine years old. I had a brother and a sister, a cat and a dog, and a mother and a father and uncles and aunts. And there's no way I can get there again."

Don't mind me, I'll just be over here weeping.

Posted by Carl at 08:41 AM | Comments (3)

October 11, 2005

What I cooked this weekend

There is no better time to cook than a rainy long weekend. I started Saturday night with a good ol' pot roast, a stove-top version from The Frugal Gourmet Cooks American with onions, turnips, and taters, and a (kind of thin and bland) pan gravy. Served with steamed green beans (or as my daughter calls them, "green bees"). I also made an oatmeal-raisin-molasses soda bread that wasn't actually meant to go with dinner, but it turned out that way. Made a fine breakfast on Sunday, too.

On Sunday, Thanksgiving came early. I cooked a freakin' turkey. Seriously, why don't we cook turkey more often? The obvious drawbacks are that it takes time to cook, and that turkeys are too friggin' huge (the smallest one I found at Harris Teeter was 14 pounds). But aside from being time-consuming, they can be otherwise very easy. They're cheap (69 cents/pound on sale Saturday), and provide mammoth leftovers. I pulled up half of our remaining thyme, stuffed much of it under the skin, and roasted/braised the bird with much chicken broth. Served with a potato gratin that's very popular at our house, asparagus, and Pillsbury biscuits from a can (I was all going to make scones, but ran out of energy).

Monday lunch: let the leftover turkey-based dishes commence! Turkey minestrone leads off what figures to be a sequence of soups.

Posted by Carl at 01:24 PM | Comments (0)

So much evil vanquished in one weekend

Red Sox. Braves. Yankees. All done.

At this point, I'm not overly concerned who wins the World Series. I am, relatively speaking, a happy baseball fan.

Posted by Carl at 12:45 PM | Comments (0)

October 09, 2005

Poll results that make you go, "Holy Crap!"

Just back from the Where are They Now Forest... and here I see the results of the latest CBS Poll

So why doesn't CBS run with this heading:

President Bush A Bigger Problem Than Terrorism

Scroll down the CBS link and see that Bush is beating Osama and his ilk by 5% to 4% in the category of problems facing the country...

Yes, yes. I know. The fact that I'm pointing this out proves that I hate Freedom, and America, and even California Girls...

Posted by The Beehimawth at 10:29 PM | Comments (2)

October 07, 2005

A stadium for the people?

I worked downtown yesterday, and on the Metro home a guy across from me was reading the City Paper. It had a cover story on the proposed ballpark, and the gist seemed to be that it would be wonderful if you're filthy rich, but the rest of us poor slobs are going to get a sub-optimal experience. Unfortunately I learned this too late to grab the CP myself, but thanks to the wonder that is the Internet, here ya go.

Periodically on the blogs 'n' message boards you'll see someone saying "Why do they need a new ballpark, anyway? RFK seems perfectly fine to me." This is why, chocachos: it's all driven by the luxury suites, which are purchased by large corporations who write them off. And now that stadium design revolves around packing as many and as extravagant luxury suites as possible into the building, the rest of us are that much worse off.

Needham has slightly more analysis than I've got time for right now.

Posted by Carl at 01:23 PM | Comments (0)

Linking Fool Friday

This week I went through my bookmarks, and found some previous LFF items that got put in the wrong folder and thus weren't linked at the time. So some of these are old, but still link-worthy.

Politics: The treatment of New Orleans would-be evacuees says a lot about modern Americans as a people. Despite the claims that this is a Christian nation, we can be awfully short on compassion and assistance. Fred Clark elaborates. I hope people from New Orleans don't go to Florida, where the residents can now legally shoot you if they feel "threatened." Even more appalling, if someone feels "threatened," opens fire, and kills an innocent bystander, apparently that's just too bad. How long before this terrible law is used as a defense in an obvious murder case? "Oh, he was threatening me, so I shot him six times in the back despite the fact that he was unarmed. I thought he was going to kill me with his bare hands! It was scary, I tell ya!"

Sports: I haven't been keeping up with DC United as in years past, but I was pleased to learn that midfielder Christian Gomez endured a yellow-card suspension by joining the Screagles/Barra Brava at the Meadowlands. I ask you, would that happen in any other sport in this country? I hadn't visited the Sports Logo Pundit in a while, but stopped by this week to learn there is actually a team called the Charlotte Krunk, and their logo looks like a 15-year-old suburban wannabe-ghetto white kid made it. Found a great piece at ESPN on former Giants closer Robb Nen, which asks if taking your best shot at a championship at the risk of ruining your future is worth it. Maybe if Nen was still playing, he'd hit one for Bobby.

Other stuff: via Kevin Drum, the Spam Stock Tracker examined what would happen if you actually bought penny stocks based on pump-and-dump e-mails. Not surprisingly, the results aren't pretty. If you have plenty of spare time to sit at your computer and listen to music, behold MPR's archive of live performances; lots of great stuff there.

And if you only follow one link this week, make it this one: this revamped trailer for The Shining is just about the most awesome thing I've ever seen.

Posted by Carl at 11:56 AM | Comments (0)

October 05, 2005

Keep the fences back

In what I gather is one of Boswell's e-mail only columns, he advocates moving the fences at RFK in about 15 feet.

No, not to make Jose Guillen happy. But to make the Nationals a better team -- instantly.

In part, the change should be made out of respect for simple fairness and baseball esthetics. The current configuration produces a low-scoring version of the sport that is as unappealing as the nightly slugfests on display in baseball's smallest bandbox ballparks. All things being equal, baseball fans have always preferred the sport when a normal number of runs are scored -- about nine a game. If anything, higher scoring sells. Abnormally distant fences and perversely low scores can only be justified if such a park confers a large and demonstrable advantage to the home team. If it doesn't, it's just nuts.

More important, however, the Nats need to move in their fences because their huge home park is killing them on the field. Last season, it probably ended up costing Washington several victories -- at least.

[...cites how most teams are better at home, but Nats were 41-40, cites bad power numbers at home...]

Many will say, "But the Nats pitched so well in RFK." Actually, John Patterson and Esteban Loaiza may have been helped, but few others. Considering how little run support he got, even Loaiza might welcome fences of normal distance in RFK. Most of the bullpen had such high quality stuff that they hardly noticed where they were playing.

I SO disagree with Boswell here. I think the team would have been 4-5 games worse this year if the fences were that farther in. Purely anecdotal, but anyway: How many fly balls does Patterson get? How about Cordero? How many of his saves would have been Nats losses if the fences were 15 feet further in? From my memory, I saw a lot more "That looks like it's gone... no wait!" balls off the bats of our opponents than our own. The Nats just didn't have that much power, period.

Boz conveniently ignores the home-road splits that don't fit his argument. Yes, Guillen is the extreme case: 3 home runs at RFK, 21 away. However, Wilkerson hit 6 at home, 5 away; Vinny, 8 and 4; Nick, 7 and 8. The team hit 45 home runs at RFK, 71 on the road, a differential of 26--take out Guillen and the differential is only 5.

I say, make our ballpark different. Get players whose style fits it (which is why I like the idea of getting Juan Pierre), let the park drive your opponents nuts, and win those 1-run ballgames. When we were winning all those close, low-scoring games back in June, I didn't hear a whole lot of "Man, I wish we could see some 10-8 home run-filled games here." Personally, I love the kind of game the Nats were playing back then.

Posted by Carl at 03:51 PM | Comments (0)

Kids TV is bad for you: "Then chances are, it's evil"

Noggin has been running spots for a show called Miss Spider. We haven't endured the show itself yet, but the ads leave me scratching my head a bit. A spider, a bedbug, and a jewel beetle introduce themselves, and announce that they are brothers and sister. Different species... siblings... yeah.

What really weirds me out, though, is the song they go on to sing about beetles. It's in a minor key. Sounds like a funeral dirge. It should be sung by vampires, not cute little bugs. I've taken to singing along, substituting "evil" for "beetle." "Then maybe, you've seen evil too!"

But after watching Nick Jr. while at the beach last week, we're ever more thankful for commercial-free Noggin. Because Nick Jr. exposed our two-year-old to all manner of Dora the Explorer toys that she never previously knew existed. And she said "I want dat!" for every blessed one of 'em.

Posted by Carl at 10:54 AM | Comments (1)

October 03, 2005

Season-ending random bits

I finish the season at 12-5 in games I attended. Another one of those things that if you'd have told me before the season started, I'd have said it was great, but the way it actually played out (12-1 followed by 4 straight losses) it felt disappointed at the end. I suppose it helped that I went to a lot of games in the first half, not so many in the second half.

I endured a 33-inning Nats scoreless streak: they got four in the first against the Astros on July 23, got shut out 8/28 and 9/10, and didn't score until the 9th on 9/23. Over the last five games I saw, they scored a whopping total of nine runs, and only scored in three out of 45 innings. Yowch.

I saw Livan and Loaiza start five times each, Patterson twice, and one start each for Armas, Carrasco, Drese, Halama, and Ohka.

Top five moments from games I attended:
1. Baerga's home run to tie the Mets. Just because it was so unexpected.
2. "The ball will be caught, the runner from third will head home, and the play will be close." Church's sac fly scores Carroll to beat the Fish in 11.
3. Opening night: Vinny comes up to bat in the 8th needing only a single for the cycle, and gets hit by the first pitch. A fine outpouring of wrath by the crowd, indeed.
4. The National Tarp Pull.
5. Loaiza outdueling Pedro Martinez.

Posted by Carl at 12:27 PM | Comments (0)

Who to root for now?

Last year I had a little debate as to who to cheer for in the MLB playoffs. This year it's easy.

Yankees, Red Sox, Braves: I hate you all. Go away. You too, Houston, for bumping off the Phils.

The Angels? Nothing against them, really, except that it's still too soon since they last won a championship. Not deserving of another one yet.

The Padres? Ordinarily a team I could get behind, but they nearly gave baseball the black eye of a losing team making the playoffs. It's galling to have the Phils sit home while a team with a worse record than them plays on.

So we're hoping for a Cardinals-White Sox World Series. The Cards are clearly a great team and have unfinished business after last year. If the White Sox make the World Series, will McCarver and Buck actually talk about them, or make constant references to the Cubs and their curse instead?

Posted by Carl at 11:03 AM | Comments (1)

The trouble with dual loyalties

I have written in this space before about the feasability of having two favorite teams in one sport. In the past, it's been easy. In the NFL or MLB, where teams are divided by league or conference and rarely meet, it was no problem having a favorite team on each side. Eagles, Ravens. Phillies, Orioles. Hasn't been an issue since 1983, and even then I knew where my true loyalty was--I cheered for Philly during interleague matchups.

In the NHL, I like two teams in the same division. But again, it's been easy, since just about everyone makes the playoffs. I've tried to avoid going to head-to-head Caps-Flyers matchups over the years. The teams have not met in the playoffs since I started following the Caps, and I can't recall them ever playing a late-season game that really mattered.

I hate it when people come to the arena or stadium and cheer for the visiting team, absolutely hate it. (Before anyone shouts "First Amendment" or something stupid at me, I acknowledge everyone's right to come out and cheer on whoever they want; it doesn't mean I have to enjoy it.) So as the baseball season came down the stretch, I eyed the season finale between the Nats and Phils with trepidation. If pressed, I'd say the Nats are now my favorite team. While I still keep up with the Phils, the Nats are the team I read about in the paper every day, listen to on the radio when they're not on TV (i.e. most of the time), talk about in on-line chat, live and die with day to day. I was hoping that the wild card would be decided by Sunday, so I could unabashedly root root root for the home team.

On the other hand, you don't cheer on a team for 30 years, follow their players through their entire careers, and love a city from the time you were a kid, only to abandon them when they need to win a game to have a shot at the playoffs. So I put on my conflicted-fan gear--Phils hat, Nats shirt--and quietly hoped for a Phils win. (My hat, I realized, probably disqualified me from any Fan Appreciation Day giveaways.) But oh yes, I cheered for the Nats. I joined the standing ovation we gave them as they took the field. I cheered for Ryan Church's upper deck home run, since that only made it 5-3. I cheered for Majewski and Cordero, despite their crappy outings Sunday, to thank them for the season's body of work. I stood and clapped and clapped and clapped as the Nats milled about on the field after the game, clapped until my hands hurt, all the while watching the scoreboard until they finally put up an "F" next to "CHC 4 HOU 6," and that was it. No playoffs again.

.500 for the Nats, which at the beginning of the season I said would be quite an accomplishment. Despite the disappointment of their second-half collapse, it's still is an accomplishment, and there's hope for next season. And for the Phils... missing out by one game is painful. How huge does that home sweep to Houston seem now?

On the Metro home, I looked at my reflection in the window and wished I had on my red W hat instead of my red P hat.

Thank you, Nats. See you next year.

Posted by Carl at 10:54 AM | Comments (0)

Peter King gets on my nerves

And so does Phil Simms. From King's column today:

I think the best thing I've heard about the Patriots in a long time comes from Phil Simms. "Maybe it's just a reflection of society, but everyone's looking for a reason why the Patriots won't repeat. Fans want to move on and see what's next. I speak to fans in airports and other places and they have actually expressed to me that they are 'tired' of the Patriots. OK, so you're tired of good sportsmanship? Tired of players who handle themselves well in the press? Tired of a team overcoming injuries and other obstacles? It makes you wonder.'' Amen, brother.

So we're a nation of haters? We're bad people because we don't wish the Patriots continued success?

Look, there's a lot to admire about the Patriots. Or the Yankees or Red Sox, for that matter. And it's easy for King to say we should all love them, too--he's an admitted Red Sox fan, so it's not hard to guess that he's a Patriots fan as well, although he'd never admit it in the name of journalistic objectivity. But don't tell me I'm a bad person because I want to see the dynasty end. I sit here following the Phils, Nats, and O's, and I get bloody sick of smug fans in Fenway and Yankee Stadium at playoff games year after year. When's it going to be our turn? Yes, my hatred of these teams is motivated in large part by envy. I freely admit that.

So it goes for the Pats, too. I have a harder time getting bent there, being a fan of the Eagles and Ravens, two teams with recent success. But I'd imagine fans of the Jets, Dolphins and Steelers would gladly smack King upside the head for his suggestion that they should embrace the Patriots as a model of what's great about sports. Oh, and "good sportsmanship"--it's pretty easy to be a good sport when you're winning all the time, eh?

Posted by Carl at 10:28 AM | Comments (1)

October 02, 2005

Linking Fool Friday (Sunday edition)

Being out of town all week made it difficult to read blogs much, let alone post to my own. I would like to point out Hunter's post on playing with fire that's been linked to by pretty much everybody. Also, the Poor Man links to a bill I'm surprised we haven't heard more about, even though it'll never pass.

There will be ample baseball-related posts tomorrow.

Posted by Carl at 11:07 PM | Comments (1)

What I cooked this weekend

Only one meal of note. Saturday night I braised a chunk of pork loin with balsamic vinegar and black grapes. Another one from the October issue of Bon Appetit, though I used onions rather than shallots. Seriously, 8 large shallots chopped = 3 cups? Where do you get these gigantic mutant shallots? Served with egg noodles and steamed green beans, and dare I say it, a damn fine dinner.

Posted by Carl at 10:48 PM | Comments (2)

The pamcakes wins!

Hear me now and believe me later: while in Virginia Beach, I went to the Pocahontas Pancake House and ordered the pecan pancakes. And despite their being extremely yummy, I could not finish them. There was just too much pancake.

Let this be a warning to the rest of you, should you be in Virginia Beach and want to take a shot at the champeenship.

Posted by Carl at 10:41 PM | Comments (0)