Monday, May 28, 2007

This blog is not to be read in Victoria

I spent much of my afternoon visiting my grandmother, as she had a speaking role in her residence's Memorial Day service. I will spare you the details, but I'm glad I got a chance to spend some time with people who take Memorial Day so seriously, remembering those who have laid down their lives for us, rather than spending it merely mowing thier lawn or drinking beer on a lake osmewhere. Happy Memorial Day, everyone.

ITEM ONE: One of the greatest of all Memorial Day traditions in the sports world is the Indianapolis 500. Indy car racing will not be as popular in the U.S. since the sport is dominated by drivers from foreign countries and we Americans haven't cared to compete against foreigners since we become the leading powers of the world and no longer the under dog. (This is different than the problem with hockey. Americans don't care to compete against foreigners, and they especially don't want to cheer for foreigners). The cars move quickly in Indy racing, and it requires a different kind of talent, so the allure of the race hasn't gone down around the world, and it remains the crown jewel of open wheel racing, this side of Monaco. Indianapolis too, is extremely proud of the race, showing highlights all week long and basking in the worldwide attention. So, naturally, ABC blacked the race out in Indianapolis. That's right. The Indianapolis 500 was not shown in Indianapolis. (Thanks to Steve from Is It Sports?)

ITEM TWO: The White Sox and Twins seem to be itching for a fight, don't they? Todays game, the first after a contentious series here in Minneapolis a couple weeks ago, featured A.J. Pierzynski running on the inside of the bag after Justin Morneau's ankles, a clear and dubious cheap shot attempt, as well as Torii Hunter stealing third with a 4 run lead, which is generally frowned upon as well. The Sox pulled Pierzynski before his final at bat in the 9th, fearing retribtion, indicating that Ozzie knew that he was guilty of something, so tomorrow's game may be the most interesting since Ron Gardenhire's famous hat kicking incident.
That is, of course, if the Twins band together and do anything about it. As I've mentioned, this current squad of Twins seem rather soft. Likely, we'll see Ozzie instruct his pitcher to nail Morneau in the ribs, we'll be treated to the Morneau frowny face, and nothing will come of it.
Sometimes, I depress myself with my cynicism. I shouldn't harp on this. The team seems to be coming together nicely for a run through the second half of the year. Ramon Ortiz is moving to the bullpen, showing that Ron Gardenhire, Terry Ryan and co. didn't trust their first impressions, something completely out of character. So, there's that. And here's to a wild game tomorrow. Especially since I'll be home to watch it.

ITEM THREE: Not that anyone knows about it, but the Stanley Cup Finals start tonight between Ottawa and Anaheim. This should be a very good series between a pair of physical, scrappy teams. Ottawa has a better set of scorers, but Anaheim has more proven goalies, and frankly, goaltending wins championships, so I'm picking Anaheim to win.

ITEM FOUR: Speaking of hockey, and discussing two teams that were economic failures just a few years ago, another team that hasn't been doing so well lately is the Nashville Predators. The Preds were recently sold to the Ontario businessman who owns the company that makes Blackberries. That being said, the team is likely to be moved to Canada, which isn't necessarily bad for hockey, but it is sad for Nashvillians who have only had a team for a time shorter than Barry Trotz's neck.

ITEM FIVE: I've been thinking doing some tweaking with the site here, revamping the links on the left there, for example, and making other subtle changes. If anyone has any thoughts on other things you think I should do, let me know.

Friday, May 25, 2007

We bid you adieu, Bat-Girl

As you may have noticed, over on the links from the Times, Bat-Girl is one of my top sites. For those of you who didn't take a peek over there, Bat-Girl, AKA Anne Ursu maintained one of the best sports related sites out there. I say maintained, for those who don't know, because Bat-Girl is calling it quits after giving readers three years of laughs.
An advantage B-G had over other bloggers was that she is an author, rather than merely a writer (or in my case, a talentless simpleton who drinks too much beer), which lent to her creativity and imagination with her site. She didn't take the game seriously, but at the same time, she did. and as confusing as that may be, it lent her her voice.
The seriousness with which she lent the game, and more importantly, her site, was what eventually did her in. Well, that and her new baby. B-G spent a lot of time on her site, which she updated daily. It may not seem like it, but having worked here, at Is It Sports? and knowing personally the weather weenies at Victoria-Weather, I've gained a full appreciation of how long it takes to work on these sites. I can't imagine doing what she did daily. It takes me, on average, an hour and a half, probably, to whip up a post here, and I only do it biweekly (if I'm lucky) and rather poorly (which is being generous). A day at V-W takes a combined 2 hours, or so. Now, add a child, and I have to say that B-G made the right decision, as much as it pains me and her fan base.
Now, I have to admit that being entertaining, while well and good, hasn't been all B-G has meant to me personally. Steve and I started Is It Sports? before I heard of Bat-Girl, and she introduced me to the idea of blogging, which, compared to working with Geocities was a Godsend. More than that, after I started up the Times, I would estimate that 3/4ths of you even know who I am because of Bat-Girl. Then, a few months ago, Anne Ursu herself gave excellent advice and helped in the setting up of Victoria-Weather, lending financial, blogging and hyphen related advice. Of course, those dweebs are now down the hall jumping excitedly every time there is a thunderstorm in the Dakotas.
In any case, Bat-Girl's most important message to bloggers everywhere was that we should have fun with what we do (Lord knows we don't do this for the money. We can't all work for Gawker) and make sure that your readers, whether they be the thousands Bat-Girl had or the dozens the Times has, entertained. Well, B-G can retire knowing that we were entertained, and that she will be missed.

(P.S. My proudest Bat-Girl achievement was being a finalist in one of her Haiku contests. Don't pay any attention to the voting. )

Monday, May 21, 2007

About the Same Exchange Rate as Unicorns to Leprechauns

I'm going to go ahead and preface all of this by warning that I have worked the evening shift for the past 6 days and I really haven't seen anything lately, and don't have a particular clue as to exactly what is going on. What else is new?

ITEM ONE: The Twins have been in something of a slump lately (the past couple of games notwithstanding), and while the hitting has been mediocre and our miserable pitchers who were doing well are coming back down to earth, I see a greater cause for concern. There just doesn't seem to be that fire in the bellies of our beloved Twins this past month. Now, I may have watched too much hockey this year, but it strikes me that one of the best ways to instill some energy in a team is to find a way to get some people ejected. Ron Gardenhire hasn't got himself tossed in some time now. Against Detroit last Saturday, Craig Monroe hit a homerun and stalked the bases like he owned the place. In Cleveland, C.C. Sabathia drilled Justin Morneau on a suspect pitch. There was no retaliation for either incident, which would be commendable, if the team wasn't 6-12 this month. There has been absolutely no display of team unity or intensity this season, something the squad thrived on last year.

ITEM TWO: The Ottawa Senators are in the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time, breaking a streak of futility for the past few years. They are something like the Colts of the NHL, as they came so very close in the years past, and then, with a somewhat less talented team (minus Zdeno Chara, for example) they get to the big show. For that reason, I think they will win the Cup this year, especially since Detroit and Anaheim are murdering each other in their series. Additionally, Having a team from Canada is great for the NHL, even if the American networks don't realize this, because while hockey is marginalized in the U.S. Canada bleeds hockey. NBC celarly doesn't understand, preempting an overtime for a two hour horse race preview.

ITEM THREE: I didn't really have a whole lot to say, but in honor of The Office's season finale... "we're done."

Thursday, May 17, 2007

TV Shows that just won't die

This is one of the saddest times of year for me. The May Sweeps always tend to sweep away some new shows I had just gotten attached to, and even shows that aren't getting canned are revealed to have been close to receiving the axe. This year, One of my favorite shows, Jericho, was cancelled, as it happened to go against American Idol on Wednesdays, as did Studio 60, but that was coming for a while. Additionally, it was revealed that How I Met Your Mother and Scrubs were on the verge of termination as well. Awful. Especially when shows like CSI: Miami are kept on the air.
Monday night, I happened to catch the tail end of the CSI: Miami season finale, and nothing really made sense to me. There were people making out and people coming to realizations that weren't revealed to the rest of us, and a pulsepounding musical montage on top of all of this. At the end, there was shot of David Caruso on top of a skyscraper in Miami, which then led to a pan away from him. Where have I seen that before? Wasn't there a zoom to Jack Lord on top of a Honolulu hotel at the beginning of every episode of Hawaii 5-0? Even though they zoomed to Lord and away from Caruso, the similarity of the shots struck me. CSI: Miami is the same show as Hawaii 5-0.
I mean, look at the comparisons:
Location: Miami, Hawaii. Both make the characters seem foolish for wearing suits all the time, while lending to bikini clad women roving the background.
Plot Holes: Seriously, go back and watch some episodes of 5-0 and you'll see that you could park a bus in some of those plot holes. (A guerilla struggling in his impoverished nation can't secure weapons there, so he sneaks off to Hawaii to raid an American military base to pilfer weapons! Horatio's brother is dead, but hes not, but he is, because that brings back the sexy sister in law!) CSI: Miami is, admittedly, slightly better at making coherent plots than 5-0 was. Slightly.
Incompetent suboordinates: Lets face it, both shows were and are about the main character, and the others were there to do the bidding of the star. They each had their own pretty boy sidekick, with Dan-o at McGarrett's beck and call, doing the booking 'em, and what not, and then Eric Delco nodding and not saying much when Horatio demanded that he follow the evidence or something. I really think Dan-o and Delco are related. The names sound the same, even. I don't think Chin and Callie are, however.
Awful, awful, awful, truly awful acting: I always thought David Caruso was the worst actor on television, now or ever. This was, of course, before I started watching 5-0 on local tv. At least Caruso changes his posture every once in a while. Jack Lord makes interpersonal communication painful. He stands rigidly, and looks like a kid at his first dance, trying to talk to a girl. Then again, as well as Lord does awkward, Caruso does surreal. How hard would it be to talk to someone who pauses twice every spoken sentence and is constantly putting on and taking off his sunglasses? Especially with that low gravelly quasi-whisper. Of course, the sunglasses thing is a marked improvement over Lord's signature "Oh God the Taco Bell is barkin back at me" look. It's really a toss up as to who the worse actor is.
I'm not saying that these characteristics make a good show, but they certainly are present in a couple long lasting shows. I'm not sure what they all do for people, but frankly, Hawaii 5-0 is one of the longest lived shows ever, so expect CSI:Miami to survive like a cockroach. I don't like it, but at least I understand it.

Monday, May 14, 2007

All Out of Love

I'm going to go ahead and just dive right in without a pithy opening.

ITEM ONE: I was, again, at the Twins game this Saturday, which the Twins dropped 8-2, thanks in large part to poor defense and even worse hitting. To hear the crowd tell it, however, it was all Sidney Ponson's fault. Well, it really wasn't. It wasn't his fault that balls bounced off of Jason Bartlett's glove or the teaqm couldn't hit Chad Freaking Durbin, was it? And in any case, why is everyone so anti Ponson at this point? He's our fifth starter, and hasn't offered up any blowouts. Didn't Glen Perkins come in and do just as poorly? So why wasn't he derided like Ponson? Oh right, I remember now. The organization has encouraged us to be biased against bringing on outside talent, and there hasn't been a good word written about him anywhere. The man is in his early 30s and has good stuff. If we were going to bump someone from the rotation, couldn't we put him in the bullpen? Don't we need a long reliever if we are putting Perkins (please no) in the bullpen? Weren't we in the same place last year with Tony Batista? He wasn't great, granted, but then, nobody on the team was. So now, why isn't anyone complaining about Nick Punto, who is putting up worse bumbers than Batista? Probably for the same reason nobody will complain about Perkins when he gets shelled after he gets put in the rotation. This was a dumb move, just cutting Ponson.
Let's use this example. The Twins, right now, are like a party, and that party sucks. You invited the wrong people, bought food that nobody likes, its raining so nobody can enjoy the patio, the speakers are shabby, and the CD in the player is Air Supply. Now, some people would enjoy Air Supply, so thats not really the problem, but you decide to change the CD to Foreigner. Is the party better? Well, instead of a lame party with Air Supply, its a lame party with Foreigner. This is essentially what the Twins did, by swapping out their 5th starter, who would have been passable in many other environments, and are replacing it with something different, and something that maybe isn't quite right for a party. Instead of changing the CD, maybe the Twins should have spent some time addressing the teams real problems. I'm a little worked up over all this.

ITEM TWO: Stuart Scott was at it again in this issue of ESPN the magazine, arguing that Pac-Man Jones hasn't been convicted of anything yet. Well, he has about 5 trials pending, but you got us there Stu. And O.J. didn't do it and Bonds never juiced and I'm not writing this in my underpants.

ITEM THREE: I played the first round of golf of the year this morning, and after an auspicious start, I started taking care of business. The Ridges at Sand Creek in Jordan gets my full recommendation, however, the bugs there have a special affinity for certain people, particularly me. I am a bleeding, itchy mess, while nobody else seems to have had any problems. So, go there if you don't have delicious, succulent blood.

ITEM FOUR: NBA Playoffs? Still don't care. Stop asking

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Writer's Block

I'm a little out of sorts right now. I didn't even realize that the last post I wrote was the 200th, which is less exciting since I am posting a lot more frequently than I ever did in the first year of the Times' existence, and those pencil necked geeks over at Victoria-Weather already have over 300 posts in considerably less time. Well, I felt the need to write up a post on the whole Roger Clemens situation, revealing that deep down inside, I don't hate the Yankees as much this year as I usually do, but then with Clemens walking in acting like his feces don't have an odor, I hate thm again. Unfortunately, the Washington Post beat me to it.
Next, I thought maybe I should mention Barry Bonds on his chase for the home run record since it's been making news. I'll be fairly excited when he gets the record, because in a few decades, the steroid story is likely to be forgotten, save, perhaps, for a stray asterisk, and it will be an interesting story to tell my kids, little Arvid and Prudence, where I was when Barry hit the homer. Steroids are only a part of the story, I'll tell Arvy and Princess Prudence (they'll say they hate those nicknames, but secretly love them), but its still an impressive accomplishment. Strength is only part of the equation. But of course, I've been told that people don't want to hear about Barry F'ing Bonds, so I'll drop the subject.
I considered something on the NHL playoffs, where the locally hated Ducks face the nationally hated Red Wings in the West, in what should be a good, physical series, contrary to the standard play out west. In the east, the Sabres and Senators will compete in a matchup of the two teams that had one of the most epic fights of the decade. Of course, I can't really provide any good insight, since the game is on Versus, a network that we don't get here in Victoria. I would talk to Mediacom about this, but I really don't think can read. English soccer falls in the same category. I enjoy it, but I can't ever watch it.
As I mentioned in the previous post, this past weekend was big for a few sports that usually aren't on our collective radars, with the Kentucky Derby on and the De la Hoya - Mayweather fight. I thought maybe I could take a look at some other sports I usually don't pay attention to, like Arena Football (still terrible) or UFC (even worse). I couldn't bring myself to do it.
What about NASCAR? I thought then. I've actually been paying attention to it this year, because I've had weekends off and little to no social life. I can't sit down and watch a full race, but it catches my attention when it's on, because lets face it, it has shiny cars and they go really, really fast. What's not to like? Of course, I don't really have a rooting interest outside of maybe Ryan Newman because he went to Purdue, but I'm not sure how I could turn that into a full post. I don't even understand the strategy involved. Just go faster! This means no racin' post.
Lastly, I was thought of going through the local paper again, and there was talk of selling the Victoria Fieldhouse (a mere 4 years old) to Southwest Christian High School to convert it into said school, which seems silly, since the Field House is only 4 years old. Other than that, it was all about expenditures and liquor permits and how great Celine Dion is. I couldn't translate that into a full readable post.
Ugh. What could I possibly write about. Any ideas, folks?

Monday, May 07, 2007

I'm going to the soda fountain, now that this is written

This was an odd weekend in the world of sports, as the two big events were a horse race (an exciting race at admittedly one of the coolest sporting venues in the country) and a boxing match (I'd rather have boxing than ultimate fighting, personally). What is this, 1950? Seriously! In any case, there were a few other things going on this weekend.

ITEM ONE: I went to the Twins game yesterday afternoonm a loss which capped a frustrating week. Michael Cuddyer's travelling sideshow on the basepaths resulted in a deep bruise on his back, and Joe Mauer was placed on the DL with a quad injury. Adding all that up, you end up with a lineup with Mike Redmond and Jeff Cirillo batting in the middle of the lineup. Ugh. We better hope our pitching staff starts throwing a heck of a lot of shutouts over the next few days. A few thoughts on the game yesterday: Sidney Ponson is a viable fifth starter. There, I said it.
The Red Sox are a few well placed injuries away from being the Twins right now. They have a somewhat sketchy rotation (Julian Tavares?!), rely heavily on the middle of their order and have a slew of contact hitters in the infield. By the way, Dustin Pedroia hits well in the Dome and is a scrappy infielder. It's like he's Nick Punto.
The Sox have a bullpen with some funky deliveries. They were warming up guys like Brendan Donnelly since he wasn't used at all in the series, and Hideki Okajima pitched (heralded by Led Zeppelin's "Immagrant Song". Innapropriate? Yes. Funny? Yes.) the 8th. Jonathan Papelbon, however, has one of the most beautiful wind ups I've ever seen.

ITEM TWO: The Sabres and the Ducks have advanced in their playoff series. I'm officially pulling for the Sabres, in case you cared. I like their chances too, as they are young and healthy, while having played good team hockey all year. The Ducks have been so thoroughly smoking their opponents that they too are very fresh for the Western Conference finals. Ducks and Sabres, Anaheim and Buffalo. Thats my pick, a matchup for the ages, clearly.

ITEM THREE: The Villager decided not to send an issue this way, but it's all right, since nothing happened. Let me instead discuss television for a moment. What exactly is CBS doing? They've eliminated solid characters on two new shows in Jericho and Shark, which seems counterintuitive, and they are dabbling with some major changes on the original CSI (rather than the one that sucks (Miami) or the one that adequately fills its time slot (New York)). It's like they are getting cocky over there at CBS, trying to demonstrate that nothing can stop them. Well, CBS, knock it off. And put something to tide me over on Sunday, since the Amazing Race is over for the season. Thanks.

And thank you, dear reader. Until we meet again