Monday, September 29, 2008

The Untouchables

The following is a list of baseball players that have 1 thing in common. See if you can guess it!

Carl Crawford
David Ortiz
Adam Dunn
Chone Figgins
Russell Martin
Eric Byrnes
Travis Hafner
Paul Konerko
Jeff Francoeur
Troy Tulowitzki
Todd Helton
Jorge Posada
Ivan Rdoriguez
Michael Cuddyer
Gary Matthews Jr.
Andruw Jones

Erik Bedard
Aaron Harang
Javier Vazquez
Justin Verlander
Fausto Carmona
JJ Putz
John Maine
Pedro Martinez
Chien-Ming Wang
Joe Blanton
Brad Penny
Jeff Francis
Clay Buchholz
Eric Gagne
CJ Wilson

Figured it out yet?

These are all players that you should have avoided on draft day this season.

Yes, that is correct, this list of well knowns all stunk it up. Well maybe not all were awful, but they all produced much less than the preseason hype. Some broke down physically, other mentally, while others were just the cool pick of the year. There are many people that, upon looking at the above list last February, would call that a dream draft.

So you ask, what were the smart people buying?

Josh Hamilton
Dustin Pedroia
Ryan Ludwick
Aubrey Huff
Kevin Youkilis
Nate McLouth
Carlos Quentin
Carlos Delgado
Matt Kemp
Raul Ibanez
Jorge Cantu
Mark DeRosa
Xavier Nady
Andre Ethier
Milton Bradley
Randy Winn
Melvin Mora

Roy Halladay
Mariano Rivera
Cliff Lee
Tim Lincecum
Rich Harden
Joakim Soria
Justin Duchscherer
Ervin Santana
Ricky Nolasco
Grant Balfour
Mike Mussina

I hope that your team looked more like the 2nd list this year. Mine probably favored a little of both, but not enough of the second.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Season Awards

Now is the time of the year for the age old debate of who was the best of the year. A lot of people views these awards as definitive in validating a players place in history. I think I can judge from this year's list of candidates that there are many difficult and maybe even arbitrary decisions to be made. Here is how I break down the races:

1. Justin Morneau - .308 BA, 23 HR, 129 RBI
2. Dustin Pedroia - .325 BA, 17 HR, 118 Runs
3. Carlos Quentin - .288 BA, 36 HR, 100 Runs
4. Grady Sizemore - .272 BA, 33 HR, 38 SB
5. Josh Hamilton - .304 BA, 34 HR, 126 RBI

1. Albert Pujols - .350 BA, 34 HR, 108 RBI
2. David Wright - .300 BA, 33 HR, 123 RBI
3. Lance Berkman - .314 BA, 29 HR, 104 RBI
4. Hanley Ramirez - .298 BA, 33 HR, 122 Runs, 33 SB
5. Matt Holliday - .321 BA, 25 HR, 107 Runs

AL Cy Young
1. Cliff Lee - 22-3, 2.54 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 170 Ks
2. Roy Halladay - 19-11, 2.81 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 201 Ks
3. Ervin Santana - 16-6, 3,25 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 209 Ks
4. Francisco Rodriguez - 62 Saves, 2.27 ERA
5. Mariano Rivera - 38 Saves, 1.43 ERA, 0.68 WHIP

NL Cy Young
1. Tim Lincecom - 17-5, 2.66 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 248 Ks
2. Brandon Webb - 22-7, 3.24 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 176 Ks
3. Johan Santana - 15-7, 2.64 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 197 Ks
4. CC Sabathia - 16-10, 2.80 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 244 Ks
5. Ryan Dempster - 17-6, 2.99 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 183 Ks

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Running Diary - Storm 2008

Because of Hurricane Ike's fury, we here in North Texas, a mere 300 miles from landfall, have been warned about today's weather. I, your trusty reporter, will put my thoughts on paper as STORM 2008! rolls through.

September 12
11:06 PM CST
The winds are a changing. They now blow out of the East, Southeast direction. This is an odd occurrence, for they never come from there. The air smells like the town of Houston, warm, dense, and very moist. I think that I just killed a mosquito. I feel like the captain at the beginning of Mary Poppins. I can sense change in the air.

September 13
8:02 AM CST
Armed with my trusty weather vane, I have traveled outside to take a read on the situation. I find that there is no more trusty weather vane than a dog that should be doing its business. Our particular bloodhound pointed straight into the steady stream of air from the East, Northeast. This time the air smells less moist and the clouds remind me of the dark soul of winter. The sun peaks through and winks at us every couple of minutes as the clouds permit. Somethings amiss. I did the usual test of leaning into a gust of wind to gauge its speed. I nearly fell flat on my face... approximately 30 MPH.

9:17 AM CST
My companion tricked me into going out into the storm again, although she did alert me to the new Northeast wind direction. I chose to figure out the wind intensity by looking at the trees as opposed to my previous method. We have had the first heavy rain drop fall on our quaint abode and I can only assume that there will be millions more. I now have a full stomach from a breakfast of cinnamon rolls and a wet mop on the end of a leash. So far, it feels like any other Saturday...

10:09 AM CST
Tricked again... for the last time? I doubt it. The winds and rain have died down, but the wind shifted once again to the North, Northwest. The hood on my jacket almost lifts off of my shoulders when I turn my back to the wind. I can't help but to think back to simpler times in our fair town. Softball-sized hail and mile-wide tornadoes plagued out town, but this swirling devilry just makes my bones shiver.

11:48 AM CST
My wife and I are about to venture out in search of food from south of the border. This may very well be my last entry if the storm turns out to be truly vicious.

3:14 PM CST
We made it back! What a terrible sight it was. Trees were swaying, traffic lights were blinking red, and an old lady in a robe was peering out of her garage looking very concerned. The wind was blowing so hard (how hard was it?) that the rain was coming down at a 45 degree angle. Several creeks were running high and I wouldn't be surprised is water splashed onto a bridge or two. The eye of the great storm is now due east of my apartment. Let's hope that it does not turn its wrath this way.

7:13 PM CST
I am braving the elements once more to get some entertainment for the evening. Something from the local Blockbuster store should distract our minds from the tempest. The furious wind is throwing the rain from the Northwest now. It slashes against my clothes and seeps inside. I have stepped in several large puddles; it I accumulating faster than I would have ever anticipated.

10:47 PM CST
I stand on my balcony and survey the destruction. The storm has passed. It worked like a slingshot and flung the moisture from the gulf in a vast circle that landed in our area. Unfortunately for it, it tried to do the same with the west Texas air. It is still moist out, but it is a dry moisture. This whirling cyclone gave us its best, but it was no match!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Uncommon Knowledge

Today I want to highlight an excellent program that is free online. The show Uncommon Knowledge is run by the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. This show reminds me of the American Studies lectures that I heard throughout college. Each episode is 5-8 minutes in length and is in the question and answer format. The topics of conversation are usually centered public policy and more specifically politics.

Peter Robinson is the moderator and does an excellent job of phrasing questions in a way that encourages the guest to share his or her vast knowledge and expert opinions. He is a former Reagan speech writer and author who now works at a policy think tank.

Interview with Andrew Klaven - This accomplished author talks about his distaste for empty religion and how he came to an atheist view of the world and then how he found his faith. I am extremely impressed by his gifted way to articulate his faith from an outsider's point of view, meaning someone who wasn't born into their current beliefs. I think that you will find this interview very interesting, I find it fascinating.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Chizzeled in Stone

I promised a while back that I would lay out my predictions for the upcoming season, so here they are:

Dallas Cowboys: 12-4
  1. @Cleveland - W
  2. Philadelphia - W
  3. @Green Bay - L
  4. Washington - W
  5. Cincinnati - W
  6. @Arizona - W
  7. @St. Louis - W
  8. Tampa Bay - W
  9. @NY Giants - L
  10. @Washington - W
  11. San Francisco - W
  12. Seattle - W
  13. @Pittsburgh - L
  14. NY Giants - W
  15. Baltimore - W
  16. @Philadelphia - L

  1. New England Patriots 14-2
  2. Buffalo Bils 8-8
  3. New York Jets 8-8
  4. Miami Dolphins 3-13

  1. Cleveland Browns 10-6
  2. Pittsburgh Steelers 9-7
  3. Cincinnati Bengals 8-8
  4. Baltimore Ravens 4-12

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars 13-3
  2. Indianapolis Colts 11-5
  3. Houston Texans 10-6
  4. Tennessee Titans 6-10

  1. San Diego Chargers 13-3
  2. Denver Broncos 9-7
  3. Kansas City Chiefs 4-12
  4. Oakland Raiders 3-13

  1. Dallas Cowboys 12-4
  2. NY Giants 11-5
  3. Philadelphia Eagles 10-6
  4. Washington Redskins 7-9

  1. Green Bay Packers 11-5
  2. Minnesota Vikings - 10-6
  3. Detroit Lions 8-8
  4. Chicago Bears 5-11

  1. Carolina Panthers 9-7
  2. New Orleans Saints 8-8
  3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 7-9
  4. Atlanta 2-14

  1. Arizona Cardinals 9-7
  2. Seattle Seahawks 7-9
  3. San Francisco 49s - 6-10
  4. St. Louis Rams 3-13

Super Bowl - Jacksonville over Dallas

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Oh the Diversity

I figure that it is time for a more lighthearted post. I get IMed and emailed links to cool or funny videos all the time. So today I will share a compilation of music from the 80s. Now I was very young during the decade, but I do have faint memories of some of this stuff. I am just amazed at the varied level of music that existed. Some are respectable, others I might attribute to Canada. Since I have so many to post, I will just post links and not embed them all.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Scatter Shooting

  • I am re-reading a book that was once a college assignment. Because of the nature of required reading, I gave it the minimal amount of attention. I am really enjoying the second and more thoughtful look at Milton Friedman's Free to Choose. Friedman is a Nobel Prize winner for economics and applies his theories to just about everything in this book. The political implications are especially striking. This book was written in the late 1970's, but it quite relevant in its discussion of oil prices and other trends that seem to be affecting us again. Some of the quotes that struck me so far are:
    We have shifted from a expectation of equality of opportunity to the expectation of equality of results
    Experience shows that that once government undertakes an activity, it is seldom terminated.
    Major wars aside, government spending from 1800 to 1929 did not exceed about 12 percent of the national income. Two-thirds of that was spent by state and local governments, mostly for schools and roads. As late as 1928, federal government spending amounted to about 3 percent of the national income.
    (Today the federal government spend 6 times that, about 18% of national income)
    Sincerity is a much overrated virtue.
    (In other words, being convinced that something is correct does not make it so)
    We refer to ourselves as a free private enterprise society, as a capitalist society. Yet in terms of the ownership of corporate enterprise, we are about 46% socialist... The federal government is entitled to 46 cents out of every dollar... The federal government therefore owns 46% of every corporation.
    (This was using the 1979 high tax rate. Change the # to the current standards. It is quite a thought.)

  • Fred Thompson's speech last night at the Republican National Convention reminded me of why I liked him so much during the primary race. No, he is not the most polished public speaker. He does however have a keen sense of how to break apart the issues in a way that is easily understandable. He knows how to refute the other side in a clear concise way. He is very good on policy, just not flashy enough.

  • I recently watched Close Encounters of the Third Kind. The 1977 Spielberg film that shows aliens and such. One of the biggest questions was how well the graphics would hold up. For the vast majority of the movie they did a very good job. The aliens at the end felt somewhat more like claymation than a modern movie would present them, but that was my only main complaint. Richard Dreyfuss does a great job of playing a lunatic. His ability to play that role sometimes scares me. Is he really acting? I was surprised at the novelty of the film. In recent years we had the film Signs. A lot of the ways in which they show you alien interaction were just copied from Close Encounters I think. They were very similar. Communicating with colored tones... ok. I guess that is one way we could do it. I would give it a 3 out of 5. Some of the crazy scenes went on a bit long for me.

  • Our small group at church is reading Everyday Christianity by Grumpy Smith this quarter. So far it seems like an enjoyable read. Since I go to church with his daughter Miranda, it is even more fun to laugh at his stories. His ordinary man approach looks promising.

  • Preseason College Poll - Is there anything more worthless?