Friday, February 27, 2009

Give me the hard copy!

My ex-fiance once labeled me a "control freak." He said I was often incapable of spontaneity, that I always wanted to stick to my plan and would freak out if I was derailed.

I prefer to think of myself as a creature of habit, someone who loves to have a daily routine. There's a certain comfort in the familiar.

That's why the latest news about the Rocky Mountain News ceasing publication today unnerves me. From the Washington Post:
These are dark days for the struggling news business. Hearst threatened this week to close the San Francisco Chronicle unless major budget cuts are imposed or a buyer is found, and is also prepared to close the Seattle Post-Intelligencer if it cannot be sold. The Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News filed for bankruptcy protection this week, joining Chicago's Tribune Co. and the Minneapolis Star-Tribune in Chapter 11 status.
I read a newspaper every single morning. I go out to the curb amidst the twittering early birds and collect my local daily paper. I pour a big cup of coffee and start going through the newspaper from front to back. The news, the local news, the obituaries, the op-ed, the sports, the lifestyles - I devour it all. The only section I skip is the classifieds! I can't imagine not fondling the newsprint, squinting to read the ever-tinier print in the comics and scoffing at the ridiculous letters to the editor. I save the puzzles for later in the day, but I do many of them: the Jumble, the Crossword, the Crytoquote. I can't imagine not starting my day that way. And I am amazed by people who don't read one.

Yes, I also read the non-local papers on-line. The New York Times is the second bookmark I hit every morning (after email), followed by the Boston Globe. But I would miss that physical paper every day. I hate doing the puzzles on line - those alone are worth the subscription price to me.

What would we do without a daily newspaper? I hope that I never have to find out.


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Playing catchup!

Phew! Where did the week go? I just realized today that I hadn't added a new entry here in over a week. I'm still enamored of my new toy, Facebook, and that's what's been keeping me occupied! But now that baseball is starting to gear back up....

1. ARod - I finally got the new Sports Illustrated - and was a little disappointed in the article about his steroid use. I guess because I'd read most of it before I got the magazine! (I'm more than a little worried about the future of the printed media). His press conference last week was very interesting, as was all the post-presser analysis, especially by the New York press. It's going to be a very interesting season for the Yankees, I think. Of course, as a Red Sox fan, I say - the more distractions for them, the better.

I do wonder about those other guys on "the list." How would you feel if you were one of them right now? Hoping no one finds out? Wanting to publicly admit and get it over with?

I know that if I were one of the 900 who tested negatively, I would be shouting it loudly. Right now every player from this era is being eyed suspiciously - and plenty of players who had the same opportunities to indulge and didn't are being looked at as cheaters. They deserve a huge pat on the back!

2. Academy Awards - hey, I picked 18 out of 23. Not bad! Even got a few of the technical catagories, which usually do me in. In general, I enjoyed the broadcast. Loved Hugh Jackman's opening musical number, but I thought the second number was one too many. I also enjoyed the way they introduced the acting awards, having past winners salute the nominees. Very touching.

And I was psyched that the theme from Slumdog Millionaire won best song. It is the most infectious song! I have it on my iPod and really wished I spoke Hindi so I could sing along:

A pretty good version!

3. MLB Network: My love affair continues. This week, they've shifted from the "Hot Stove" report to their new prime time program, "MLB Tonight." It's the same format as Hot Stove -with a rotating group of commentators and ex-players. Once the season starts, they'll be on for the whole night, with live "look-ins" on games in progress, analysis and on-field interviews. On their first show - last night - they said that the format will continue to evolve as time progresses, but they anticipate the cast working in two or three hour shifts.

I will have to start working out my "clicker finger" - because I think I'll be doing a lot of clicking this season!

4. Speaking of broadcasts: tomorrow night is the first live NESN game of the season! Yeah - RemDawg and DO on my tv at 7:05. Life is good!

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Monday, February 16, 2009

Cat Cam!

Enjoying a day off today - a rare Monday holiday that I actually have off! I enjoyed the chance to lay in bed and watch the morning shows - and repeats of NESN Sports Desk and ESPN SportsCenter, of course - and GMA spotlighted a fun story. A Seattle couple had their cat wear a small camera around its neck for a year, and are showing the photos of a cat's-eye-view of life. Here are some of the pictures on Flickr. Be sure to follow the links - especially to Cooper's blog. Adorable! (I'm not going to reproduce any photos - don't want to run into copyright infringement!)

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Saturday, February 14, 2009

A happy ♥ day!

The inside of this card says "Hey! There's no baseball in February! And there we are, naked with nothing to do....hmmm..."

Fortunately, the programming geniuses at NESN have made this statement incorrect. This morning, they are offering a lovely Valentine's Day gift to Red Sox baseball fans: two hours of live programming from Ft. Myers. True, the coverage will probably just show a bunch of guys running around on the practice fields - wait, that is perfect!!
Globe photo from last year

Also on deck is the first media appearance for our captain:
I still have some unresolved feelings about Tek. All of the off-season drama about his new contract has left me cold. I know that some of the blame needs to be assigned to his agent the evil Boras. But Tek is a grown man, a professional ballplayer, and smart. He has to take some of the blame as well. I'll be watching with interest when he faces the press at 11:30 am.

Meanwhile - Happy Valentine's Day!

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Inital thoughts on ARod

Just a few thoughts after watching the interview of Alex Rodriguez last night - and reading some reactions today....

1. He claims he didn't know what he was taking - and tries to make it sound like he bought it a GNC. As far as I know, the products for which he tested positive aren't available at the corner store - and I believe they are all injectible. Also, Yankee beat reporter Peter Abraham says on his LoHud Blog:
Rodriguez also denied knowing what substances he took. This is the same player who literally brings his own food to the clubhouse every day. So for three years, he injected drugs into his body without knowing what they were?
Interesting point.

2. Alex was confronted by SI writer Selena Roberts on Thursday with the allegations. He declined to comment. By the time the story broke on Saturday, he was "out of the country." Clearly, his agent Scott Boras locked him up somewhere to coach him. There were many times in the interview when he fell back on cliched lines ("the truth will set you free," his worry for "the kids"), to the point that he appeared to be reading cue cards or relying on rote memorization. Most of his responses sounded like they were from a standard public relations text book. Add to that the fact that Peter Gammons was clearly reading from a set of questions, with no follow-ups, and you wonder how much of this was rehearsed.

3. What is Scott Boras' role in all this? Has he encouraged his clients to use?

4. Going after Selena Roberts was a low-class mistake. There is an impulse to shoot the messenger,sure, but Alex alleged several incidents of stalking which resulted in police involvement. Roberts was able to quickly produce documentation to refute his charges. I now read that Roberts is expanding her story to book length - and there are hints on the interwebs that the book will expose Alex's sexual preferences. His attack makes me wonder if she's got some other dirt on him - and he's trying to launch the first attack.

5. Peter Gammons. Kind of a sad performance from "the Commisioner." He had several opportunities to dig deeper, to ask pertinent follow-up questions (like with the rant on Ms Roberts), but Gammo didn't go for the kill. I read today that he admitted to Deadspin that he should have delved deeper on that one. But still, he was pretty soft on Alex.

6. What about the other 103 names on the list? If I were one of those guys, I would be coming clean today - while everyone else is still focused on ARod. It would be pretty easy to hide in all that fallout.

7. On the positive side, this might open up the Hall of Fame to some deserving, clean players. It sure makes Jim Rice's election look even bigger!

8. Finally, I love Sean Casey. I grew fond of him last year when he was the Red Sox, and his debut on the MLB Network yesterday was terrific. Not only did he look very hot in his suit and tie, but he had some great insights as a player who was never a superstar, one who just worked hard every day he played. Harold Reynolds pointed out that Casey could have done PEDs and extended his career a few more years - but stayed clean. I think (hope) that probably 80% of MLB players are also clean - how it must disgust them to see someone with so much talent as ARod (and Bonds and Clemens, for that matter) feel that they had to boost themselves artificially. Wasn't enough for them to be so good? Why did they feel they had to blow everyone else out of the water? They were in a place that millions - I mean, millions - of fans would love to be - playing professional sports, playing a little kid's game and getting paid uber-bucks. They seemed to be living our dream - and now their selfishness, their egos, have brought them down.

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Monday, February 09, 2009

Some GOOD baseball news

I rushed home from work, hoping to catch some of the ARod soap opera on ESPN and MLB Network. So, I was caught off guard when I opened the mailbox to see these!

Yeah!! I'm going to five games at Fenway! Now I just have to put them in a safe place - and then remember where that place is!!

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Sunday, February 08, 2009


RS v. Yankees, July 2008

Wow. Yes, I detest Alex Rodriguez (although not with the same fervor that I detest Jeter). Yes, I like to make fun of him, with his Hamburger Helper gloves and purple lip gloss. Yes, I do I think he's a total head case - obsessed with being the center of attention, with extremely low self-esteem, always looking for approval from others. Yes, I think he is a borderline dirty player - think of his swiping the ball out of Arroyo's glove or calling "mine" to throw off an infielder trying to catch a ball. But, yes, I also think he's a really good ball player - albeit one who seems to fail in the pressure cooker of post-season play year after year.

But I never would have guessed him to be a steroid user. As a matter of fact, if I could name a player who I thought needed MORE testosterone, it would be Alex. And yet, in some ways, it makes sense; it fits his psychological profile. He wants to be the best (but so does every other athlete, so no excuses there); he wants to be the center of attention; he wants "respect." So I can imagine him thinking, hey, I'm already a great player, but imagine how GREAT I could be if I used what everyone else is using.

I'm more worried about several other issues in the midst of this great revelation from First is the whole issue of the confidentiality of the steroid tests. Players were assured these tests were anonymous and that there would be no repercussions if they test positive. MLB was simply trying to figure out if there was indeed widespread use of steroids and performance enhancing drugs. How did ARod's name get out? There are reportedly 103 other names on "the list" - surely, they're not all minor leaguers?! And why did the Players' union retain the results list - it should have been destroyed. Jon Heyman has got a great article now on, lambasting COO Gene Orza for retaining the list, and implies that Orza was messing around with the list, and that's where he ran into trouble.
The feds subpoenaed all the records instead of just the BALCO boys.

All 104 players who tested positive were now at risk.

"He wouldn't give up the BALCO names,'' one baseball person said of Orza, "so instead, [the federal government] got every name.''

Also troubling is Orza's involvement in this. Some seem to imply that he was actually tipping off players as to when their drug testing would take place, which allowed them to clean up their acts, or get other players to switch out urine samples. If this is true, he ought to be tossed out on his butt and sent before Congress to testify.

I'm also worried about those other 103 names. I don't believe ARod is the only name we'll recognize there. I'm not naive enough to think there won't be past or present Red Sox players on there (Gagne, anyone?). Will these names also be leaked? Will this be another Salem Witch Hunt?

I heard one pundit say this morning that he won't cast a vote for any current player for inclusion in the Hall of Fame. He said that there is a cloud of suspicion cast on EVERY player of the past ten years. And that is my greatest worry. What effect will all this have on the Game, on our great and glorious game of baseball? What about those players that didn't heed the siren's call of the needle, who stayed clean and who performed to the best of their natural abilities? Do they deserve to be tainted by the same dirty brush?

My heart is heavy today. Well, maybe not totally. The idea that this revelation will throw the Yankees into a grander state of confusion pleases me! That they will have an additional distraction as Spring Training begins is definitely a pleasant thought!!

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Friday, February 06, 2009

When the red, red robin comes bob, bob, bobbing along

Globe photo by Steve Silva

Once upon a time, the first harbinger of spring was Mr. Robin Redbreast. When you saw him rooting around in the dead grass on the lawn, searching for a little breakfast, you knew spring wasn't too far away.

But nowadays, for me, the first sign of spring is what you see in the photo above. Mr. Al Hartz and his moving van, parked on Yawkey Way. This morning, he and his crew loaded up the last of the equipment, and are getting ready to head down I-95 to Fort Myers. Less than a week until pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training!

Yes, friends, the long cold off-season is nearly over! Yeah!!

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Wednesday, February 04, 2009

A rant about crazy drivers

When I was growing up in Rhode Island, there was a regional joke about awful drivers. All of the worst drivers, the story went, came from Massachusetts. There were even bumper stickers out there that said "Don't blame me, I'm from Massachusetts." It was even more hilarious to us because my dad was from Mass. Every time he did some crazy maneuver, my mom would roll her eyes and blame his state of origin. (Of course, she also let him teach us all to drive, furthering the craziness into the next generation).

But I have discovered that the craziest drivers are NOT from Massachusetts. They are, in fact, all in North Georgia. Living close to the Georgia/Tennessee line, it seems like every other car is an invader from south of our border. In recent weeks, I've noticed a disturbing trend. Every time I see someone pulling in front of another driver, failing to merge, failing to use their turn signal, going 50 in a 35 mile an hour zone, going 35 in a 55 mile an hour zone, or see a driver chatting on the phone instead of paying attention to the road - the license plate invariably is from northern Georgia. Walker County, Catoosa County... they are all menaces on the road.

I wish they would stay in their own land. Surely they have their own Walmarts and Sam's Clubs down there. I bet there's even a Hobby Lobby they can go patronize.


Monday, February 02, 2009

Review: Milk

Frankly, if it wasn't nominated for an Oscar, I don't think Milk would have played here in my provincial city. My buddy and I went to the Sunday matinee - there were only 4 other people in the theater. Granted, it was Super Bowl Sunday, but it was a remarkable contrast to last Sunday's packed screening of Slumdog Millionaire at the same time.

It's too bad for the puritans and footballers - because they are missing an incredible performance by Sean Penn. The film is based on the life of Harvey Milk, the so-called "Mayor of Castro Street" in San Francisco. Milk was the first openly gay office holder in California, a ground-breaking "community organizer" who changed the face of that state's politics. The film covers his political career, a promising career cut short by a bullet.

It was a great history lesson. I was only in junior high at the time, so I wasn't a part of the political arena. I'd forgotten about Anita Bryant, and how she almost single-handedly rolled back any civil rights gains that gays had attained. It seemed like it would happen, until activists on the grass-roots level in major cities began rallying and fighting the movement. Milk was one of the agitators in California, using his position on the SF Board of Supervisors to publicize his efforts. While winning supporters, he also alienated one of the other Supervisors, Dan White. White was in the process of being relieved of his duties when he took a loaded gun into City Hall, and shot and killed both Milk and the mayor. (I'd also forgotten that was the origin of the infamous "Twinkie Defense," with White's lawyers claiming he was nutty at the time due to eating too much junk food).

As I said at the top, Sean Penn is phenomenal in the role. He totally disappears into the character; at one point, I shook myself and had to remind myself that this was Penn. How he can not win the Oscar for best actor is beyond me. (Interestingly, my buddy said that although she loved the film, she never was able to see beyond Penn, never really bought him as Milk). The supporting cast is also wonderful. Especially noteworthy are Emil Hirsch (as Clete Jones, who went on to found the NAMES Quilt Project), Josh Brolin (as Dan White), my pal from HS Musical Lucas Grabeel, and the other young actors who play Milk's coterie. And I have to separate out James Franco. Franco has really progressed from his early "pretty boy" roles into a really good actor. He plays Milk's partner Scott with such sweetness and depth. Really terrific.

I really loved this film. It brought the times and the people to life in a real and unflinching way, helping those unfamiliar with those times to truly understand how far we've progressed. And yet, we still have a long way to go. Milk's message - to put a personal face on the gay rights movement, to ease the fears of the ignorant by making them see how "normal" non-heterosexuals are, to take the fight to a personal level - these are things we need to continue to do.

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Sunday, February 01, 2009

Must. Have.

Coming out in May from McFarlane.