Monday, November 27, 2006

Baseball Hall of Fame Ballot...Who Will Get A Plaque?

The 2007 baseball Hall of Fame ballot was released today, and two sure-fire HOFers, and possibly a third will be enshrined in Cooperstown this summer. Yahoo News AP wire story:

NEW YORK - Mark McGwire, Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken Jr. headline the first-time candidates on the 2007 baseball writers' Hall of Fame ballot released Monday, sure to spark debate on Big Mac's place in history as the steroid era comes under renewed scrutiny.

Gwynn and Ripken are the absolute shoo-ins. Big Mac, not so much. He may get in, but then again, he may not, at least not this year, as the story continues...

Jose Canseco, whose book last year led to a congressional hearing on steroid use in baseball, also is on the ballot for the first time. Canseco said he used steroids along with McGwire when they were teammates.

McGwire denied using illegal performance-enhancing substances, but when he appeared before a congressional committee, he evaded questions. "I'm not here to talk about the past," was his repeated response.

McGwire finished his career with 583 home runs, seventh in baseball history while Canseco, a former MVP, is 30th at 462. Dave Kingman, 34th with 442, has the most home runs for a player who has been on the Hall of Fame ballot and was not elected.

If Canseco had been as serious about studying the game as McGwire was, HE would probably be the all-time home run leader right now. As it turned out, he wasted his enormous talent. He was a Hall of Fame talent back in 1988 when he was the AL MVP, but instead of building on that, he got lazy, especially on defense. He could have been mentioned in the same breath as greats like Willie Mays or Mickey Mantle, as one of the greatest all-around players ever, but most of the time, he played, and acted, as if he just didn't give a shit. If he's a Hall of Famer, I'm an astronaut. Kingman, on the other hand, all he could do was hit home runs. He struck out a ton, and played lousy defense. I'm surprised he was able to stay employed long enough to hit 442 homers. Maybe he deserves to be in the Hall on that basis alone? Nah...

Gwynn, an eight-time batting champion with San Diego, and Ripken, a two-time MVP with Baltimore, are considered likely to gain election on the first ballot. Ripken played in 2,632 consecutive games, breaking Lou Gehrig's record.

Agreed. Both Gwynn,a magician with the bat, and Ripken, who broke an "unbreakable" record, should be writing their acceptance speeches right this minute, if they haven't already done so.

Bret Saberhagen, a two-time Cy Young Award winner, and former MVP Ken Caminiti also are among 17 players on the ballot for the first time along with Harold Baines, Dante Bichette, Bobby Bonilla, Scott Brosius, Jay Buhner, Eric Davis, Tony Fernandez, Wally Joyner, Paul O'Neill, Devon White and Bobby Witt.

Jim Rice, who was 53 votes short of election last year, heads the 15 holdovers. Rich Gossage finished one vote behind Rice.

Both Rice and Gossage should already be in. The fact that they aren't is idiotic. Rice was the dominant right-handed power hitter in the AL from 1975-1986. Gossage was the 97 MPH closer who didn't get these one or two out saves that have become a staple of the LaRussa Era of Bullpen Management. Goose got his saves in two and three inning stints. The fact that Bruce Sutter was elected last year (and deservedly so), and Gossage was not is a mystery worthy of Sherlock Holmes.

Reporters who have been in the BBWAA for 10 or more consecutive years are eligible to vote, and the totals will be announced Jan. 9.

The complete ballot:
Harold Baines, Albert Belle, Dante Bichette, Bert Blyleven, Bobby Bonilla, Scott Brosius, Jay Buhner, Ken Caminiti, Jose Canseco, Dave Concepcion, Eric Davis, Andre Dawson, Tony Fernandez, Steve Garvey, Rich "Goose" Gossage, Tony Gwynn, Orel Hershiser, Tommy John, Wally Joyner, Don Mattingly, Mark McGwire, Jack Morris, Dale Murphy, Paul O'Neill, Dave Parker, Jim Rice, Cal Ripken Jr., Bret Saberhagen, Lee Smith, Alan Trammell, Devon White, Bobby Witt.

My analysis of the players on this year's ballot:
Baines - No. Not enough years as a dominant offensive force. But could prove a test case for the DH, since he did that extensively after knee problems took him out of the outfield.
Belle - No, at least not this year. Belle was a jackass, but he was a jackass who could hit. It will be interesting to see if he gets the same treatment Rice has been getting for the past several years, especially since Rice was much nicer, AND was a better defensive player.
Bichette - No. His dominant years came in Colorado, and his numbers at sea-level were decent, but not HOF-worthy.
Blyleven - Yes. Longevity counts for something. Besides, he pitched for some pretty crappy teams (as well as for a handful of good ones, like the 1979 World Series Champion Pirates). Best curveball of his era.

Bonilla - No. He was a shaky third baseman, a decent outfielder, and a good hitter, but apart from a handful of seasons, he doesn't quite have the legs to carry him all the way.
Brosius - No. Aprt from his Yankee years, he was little better than average. Call him Joe Randa only with the luck to have played on good teams.
Buhner - No, and it's a tough call, but he did have huge holes in his swing, even though he had as much power as any hitter of his era. He was also fine defensive outfielder who seldom made a mistake.
Caminiti - No. He had only a couple of dominant offensive seasons, although he did have the strongest arm of any third baseman in the NL when he played.
Canseco - No. See above.
Concepcion - Yes, but not before Alan Trammell. Trammell could the same things on defense as Concepcion, and he was ten times the hitter Davey was. Still Davey was a terrific shortstop on one of the best teams of all time (just ask Joe Morgan).
Davis - No. World class talent, but missed too much time with injuries.
Dawson - Yes. He put up big numbers as an Expo and a Cub, and was a terrific defensive outfielder, even after his knees started to go.
Fernandez - Yes, but after Ripken, Trammell and Concepcion.
Garvey - Yes, but just barely. His consistency and clutch hitting put him ahead of most others with his statistical profile.
Gossage - Yes. See above.
Gwynn - Yes. See above.
Hershiser - No. Burned out after his magical 1988 season.
John - Yes, but only because pitchers like him have already been enshrined. See Blyleven. Guys like Don Sutton. Not exactly ace material, but they won. Besides, he had a medical procedure named after him...
Joyner - No. Not enough big years at a high-offense position (first base). Had a good start to his career (56 homers his first two seasons, but just 145 the rest of the way), but didn't improve.
Mattingly - No. Had four great years in which he played at a Hall of Fame level. The rest of the time he struggled with back problems that hurt his numbers. Don't agree? Here's a name: Cecil Cooper. He has almost the exact same statistical profile as Donnie Baseball, but I don't see anybody shouting from the rooftops to support him the way they do for Mattingly.
McGwire - Maybe. See above.
Morris - Yes. He was a big winner, and a clutch performer for the Tigers, Twins and Blue Jays.
Murphy - Yes. Might be hurt by his sudden decline, but he was a good all-around player, as good as anyone in the game at his peak, as his two MVP awards surely show.
O'Neill - No. A great player, but not a dominant offensive force. Nobody was more intense.
Parker - Yes. Another world class talent, but he got sidetracked in mid-career with drugs and injuries, then kicked it back up a notch to finish with some HOF type career numbers. Could be an arrogant jerk at times, and that could hurt his chances given some of the choices he made during his "sidetracked" years.
Rice - Yes. See above.
Ripken - Yes. See above.
Saberhagen - No. Similar to Hershiser except he had two magical years (The Cy Young seasons of 1985 and 1989).
Smith - Yes. All time saves leader.
Trammell - Yes. See above. And why isn't his double play partner Lou Whitaker available? Oh right, the pinheads in the BBWAA failed to give him 5% of the vote to keep him on the ballot. They should go in as a duo.
White - No. Terrific defensive center fielder, but never put it all together as a hitter.
Witt - No. Why is he even on the ballot? He walked a ton of hitters, and never did learn to harness what everyone thought was great "stuff".

Well, that's how I see it. Of course, with the requirement that a player has to appear on 75% of the ballots to gain entrance, there is no way all my Yes Men will get in this year. I just think these guys are HOF material. And who knows, maybe my No Men will get in someday. Any thoughts out there in blog land?

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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Justin Morneau Wins American League Most Valuable Player Award.

The 2006 American League Most Valuable Player award was handed out today, and in a surprise to many, Minnesota Twins first baseman Justin Morneau came away with the hardware. Yahoo News AP wire excerpt:

NEW YORK - Back in June, Justin Morneau walked into manager Ron Gardenhire's office with a .236 batting average and was benched. Though he didn't realize it at the time, he walked out an MVP.

"It woke me up," Morneau said Tuesday after edging Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees to win the AL's Most Valuable Player award. "He lit a fire under me."

Morneau received 15 first-place votes, eight seconds, three thirds and two fourths for 320 points in voting by a panel of the Baseball Writers' Association of America. Jeter got 12 firsts, 14 seconds, one fourth and one sixth for 306 points. It was the 16th-closest MVP race since the current format began in 1938, and the 10th-closest in the AL.

Gardenhire benched Morneau on June 7 and spoke with him at Seattle's Safeco Field. At the time, Morneau was hitting .236 with 11 homers and 38 RBIs. After listening to his manager, Morneau batted .362 with 23 homers and 92 RBIs. "There wasn't too much said that was bad or anything," Morneau said. "It was just, `Your focus needs to be on the field. You can do a lot of things in this game that people can't do.' ... Gardy helped me realize that I can be a lot better than I was."

Morneau finished with a .321 average, 34 homers and 130 RBIs, helped the Twins win the AL Central for the fourth time in five years. Three Twins finished among the top seven in MVP voting. AL batting champion Joe Mauer was sixth, followed by AL Cy Young Award winner Johan Santana.

Jeter batted .344 with 14 homers and 97 RBIs. In the batting race he finished three points behind Mauer, who became the first catcher to win an AL batting title. "While I know that voting for these awards is primarily based on differing opinions and statistical debates, it's also part of what makes baseball such a great sport," Jeter said in a statement issued by the Yankees. He called Morneau "a special player" and added: "I suspect this won't be the last time you will hear his name mentioned when awards are being passed out."

Boston's David Ortiz was third with 193 points, followed by Oakland's Frank Thomas (174), Chicago's Jermaine Dye (156), Mauer (116) and Santana (114), who received the other first-place vote.

Morneau is the fourth Minnesota player to win an MVP, following Zoilo Versalles (1965), Harmon Killebrew (1969) and Rod Carew (1977). Killebrew attended Morneau's news conference. "I don't have any doubt in my mind he's going to come back and have a good year," Killebrew said.

Versalles 1965 award was one of the all-time fluke seasons for any MVP in either league, but it happened to coincide with Minnesota's first pennant since they moved the franchise from Washington DC, where they were the first incarnation of the Senators.

Morneau became the second Canadian-born player to win an MVP following Colorado's Larry Walker in 1997. He is the third Canadian-born athlete to win an MVP in a major pro league this year, following Phoenix
guard Steve Nash and San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton.

Walker phoned Morneau as the first baseman was arriving at the Metrodome. "He just wanted to call and say, `Congrats,'" Morneau said. "He said he thought he was more excited than I was. He said, `Just wait, it's going to be crazy.'" Walker, a coach for Canada at the World Baseball Classic, autographed a bat for Morneau in March. "To Justin, make Canada proud," Walker wrote. "I thought that was pretty cool," Morneau said.

Earning just $385,000 in his third season as a regular, Morneau proved a bargain. Philadelphia's Ryan Howard, voted NL MVP on Monday, made $355,000. Morneau is eligible for salary arbitration this winter. Howard is not. "He's going to be rewarded. There's no doubt," said Twins general manager Terry Ryan, who sat next to Morneau at the news conference.

Two MVPs who made a combined $740,000? In a game in which the median salary hovers around $3 million, I'd say that these guys were the very definition of most valuable.

Ortiz earned a $100,000 bonus for finishing third. Thomas, who left the Athletics last week to sign with Toronto, received a $100,000 bonus for placing fourth. Dye got $60,000 for fifth

A lot of people, especially Yankee fans, will be pissed off that their idol, Derek Jeter did not win this award. Christ, the ESPN Baseball Tonight crew was practically creating a plaque for the guy. Jeter is a terrific player, but he is one star on a roster of stars. Morneau had a monster season on a team with few other offensive weapons. Sure Torrii Hunter hit 30 homers, and Joe Mauer won the batting title, but they had little else. Jeter, on the other hand, had guys like Johnny Damon in front of him, Jason Giambi, Bobby Abreu, Jorge Posada, A-Rod, and Robinson Cano behind him. Which lineup would YOU rather face?. I'd say the right man won the award, given the definition that is supposed to apply. Well done Justin!

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Monday, November 20, 2006

Romney Shoots Self In Foot. Throws Hissy At Not Getting Anti-Gay Marriage Amendment Vote Passed.

No longer 2008 presidential hopeful, lame duck Massachusetts Governor, Mitt Romney is unhappy in the extreme that commonwealth lawmakers failed to add an anti-gay marriage amendment measure on the state's ballot. Capital News 9 story:

Governor Mitt Romney says if lawmakers don't vote on placing an anti-gay marriage amendment on the ballot, he'll ask Massachusetts' highest court to order that the issue be put to voters.

Romney made the announcement Sunday on the statehouse steps in front of other opponents of same-sex marriage. Gay-marriage supporters staged a protest across the street.

Romney has criticized the legislature for delaying a vote on the issue. In November of 2003, Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that same-sex marriage is legal.

Mitt, baby, what are you thinking? Are you playing to the neo-con base? The same base that was forced to eat it raw two weeks ago? Or are you sincere in your belief that the voters should decide this issue? Somehow, I get the feeling that, if this issue made it to the ballot, and the vote didn't turn out the way you want it to, you'd throw another hissy on your way back to Utah, or Michigan, or DC, or wherever the hell else you go to think up more ways to divide the people you claim to want to serve.

The bottom line is that you are an absentee Governor who came into office with an agenda of pettiness that crippled your Lt. Governor, Kerry Healey, to the point where she had NOTHING upon which to run. And as a result, she got rolled. Maybe if you'd spent more time here in the Bay State, and less time in DC polishing the knobs of the soulless GOP gargoyles, none of whom, by the way, have ANY intention of backing you for a White House run in 2008, you'd see that, even though we do have a few knuckledraggers who agree with you, we don't have nearly as many as you think we do, and that such stupid notions as this belong in history's dumpster, along with your political career.

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Ryan Howard Wins National League MVP Award. Former Red Sox Roundup.

Today was a busy day in baseball. The National League Most Valuable Player Award winner was announced, and several ex-Red Sox players signed new deals, re-signed old ones, and a key member of their 2004 WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONSHIP team retired. Stories below. Links at the end of the post.

Ryan Howard Wins National League MVP Award

Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard was voted the National League's Most Valuable Player of 2006 in an announcement made this afternoon. Yahoo News AP Wire excerpt:

NEW YORK - Ryan Howard of the Philadelphia Phillies was voted the National League's Most Valuable Player on Monday after leading the majors in home runs and RBIs, beating out the St. Louis Cardinals Albert Pujols for the honor.

Howard received 20 first-place votes and 12 seconds for 388 points in balloting by a panel of the Baseball Writers' Association of America. Pujols got 12 firsts, 19 seconds and one third for 347 points.

Howard, the 2005 NL Rookie of the Year, had 58 homers and 149 RBIs while batting .313. He had the most homers in the major leagues since Barry Bonds hit a record 73 in 2001. He set Phillies records for home runs and RBIs, producing the highest totals in those categories in big league history for a second-year player.

Twenty-three of Howard's homers put the Phillies ahead and five tied games. The Phillies went 32-18 in games in which he homered. Howard didn't make it up to the major leagues for good until July 1, 2005, when Jim Thome went on the disabled list.

Howard may have been helped by Philadelphia's surprising second-half push. He hit .355 with 30 homers and 78 RBIs in second half as the Phillies fell three wins short of the NL wild-card berth.

Pujols, who hit .331 with 49 homers and 137 RBIs, defeated Atlanta's Andruw Jones 378-351 in last year's voting after finishing second in 2002 and 2003. Stan Musial and Ted Williams (four times each) are the only players to finish second more often than Pujols, who matched three-time AL MVP Mickey Mantle with three second-place finishes.
Pujols was third in the NL in batting average behind Pittsburgh's Freddy Sanchez and Florida's Miguel Cabrera, and second to Howard in homers and RBIs.

Stan Musial (four times), Ted Williams (four times) are the only players to finish second more often than Pujols, who matched three-time AL MVP Mickey Mantle with three second-place finishes.

Houston's Lance Berkman was third with 230 points, followed by the New York Mets Carlos Beltran (211), Cabrera (170) and Washington's
Alfonso Soriano (106) — who on Sunday reached a preliminary agreement on an eight-year contract with the Chicago Cubs worth about $136 million.

Pujols gets a $100,000 bonus for finishing second, Berkman $250,000 for placing third and Beltran $200,000 for fourth.

Howard is an imposing presence in the batter's box. He has unbelievable power to all fields. He reminds me a lot of David Ortiz, in that he is a patient hitter who, when he is going well, simply crushes the ball. And, as the excerpt noted, he is building a resume of being able to do so, like Ortiz, in the clutch. Well done Ryan.

Stanton and Gonzalez Sign With Reds

The Alex Gonzalez Era is over in Boston, as last year's Red Sox shortstop signed a three-year deal to play for the Cincinnati Reds. Former Sox lefty setup man, MikeStantonn, who pitched a total of 82 games in 1995-6, and 2005 also signed a two-year deal, with an option for a third year. Yahoo News AP Wire excerpt:

CINCINNATI - Needing a shortstop and a late-innings reliever, the Cincinnati Reds committed roughly $20 million to fill two of their bigger holes. Later, they spent a little more to get rid of their logjam behind home plate.

Shortstop Alex Gonzalez and left-handed reliever Mike Stanton finalized multiyear contracts Monday with the Reds. Cincinnati then traded catcher Jason LaRue to Kansas City for a player to be named, agreeing to pay part of his $5.2 million salary next season.

The light-hitting Gonzalez, 29, committed only seven errors last season with Boston. Stanton, 39, split the season between Washington and San Francisco, where he had eight saves and proved he can still pitch effectively on short rest. Together, they'll fill a couple of big gaps.

Gonzalez is expected to improve a defense that had the second-most errors in the National League last season. He hit .255 with 24 doubles and nine homers for Boston. Gonzalez gets $3.5 million next year, $4,625,000 in 2008 and $5,375,000 in the third year. If he wins the Gold Glove in either of the first two years, the third-year salary increases to $5.5 million. There's a $6 million mutual option for 2010 with a $500,000 buyout.

Felipe Lopez started at shortstop last season, but was undependable on routine plays and was part of an eight-player trade with Washington in July to restock the bullpen. Cincinnati got shortstop Royce Clayton as part of the deal, but he hit .258 and started only nine games in September.

Clayton has been an enigma for his entire career. He's a guy who seemingly has all the ability in the world, but somehow never seemed to be able to put it all together. He'll be 37 when the 2007 season starts, and he'll be looking to catch on with his seventh team in six seasons. Jesus, I hope Theo doesn't get any silly ideas...

The Reds also have been trying to upgrade their bullpen since the middle of last season. Left-handed closer Eddie Guardado, acquired from Seattle in one of those midseason trades, had reconstructive elbow surgery in September and won't be ready to pitch at the start of next season.

Stanton gives the Reds a proven option for late in games. He went 3-5 with a 4.47 ERA in 56 games last season for Washington, which traded him to San Francisco on July 28 for a minor league pitcher. Stanton was 4-2 in 26 games for the Giants with eight saves and a 3.09 ERA. Stanton gets salaries of $2 million next year and $3 million in 2008. There's an option for 2009 at $2.5 million, with a buyout of $500,000. If he appears in 140 games over the next two seasons, the option-year salary vests at $2.75 million.

Good luck next season guys. Alex, we hardly knew ye...

Nomar Gets Two-Year Deal From Dodgers

Former two-time AL batting champ Nomar Garciaparra will remain a Dodgers as he was shown the money after his Comeback Player of the Year season. Yahoo News AP wire excerpt:

LOS ANGELES - Six-time All-Star Nomar Garciaparra and the Los Angeles Dodgers agreed Monday to an $18.5 million, two-year contract.

The 33-year-old Garciaparra, the NL comeback player of the year, will get a $2.5 million signing bonus, which is deferred until 2009 and 2010, and salaries of $7.5 million next season and $8.5 million in 2008. He would get an additional $250,000 each year for 500 plate appearances.

A two-time AL batting champion, Garciaparra shifted to first base with the Dodgers last season, his first with the team. He hit .303 with 93 RBIs and 20 home runs to tie J.D. Drew for the team lead in homers.

Garciaparra earned $8.5 million last season, including $2.5 million in performance bonuses. He signed a one-year deal with the Dodgers last winter. Injuries limited him to a total of 82 games in the previous two years. He was slowed late in the season by quadriceps and oblique muscle injuries.

Garciaparra had five game-winning hits last season, including his two-run shot in the 10th inning in an 11-10 victory over San Diego on Sept. 18. The Dodgers tied a major league record but hitting four consecutive homers in the bottom of the ninth.

After playing mostly shortstop in his previous 10 big league seasons, Garciaparra made a seamless switch to first in Los Angeles. He made only four errors in 1,124 chances for a .996 fielding percentage, the NL's second-highest for a first baseman last season.

Garciaparra was AL Rookie of the Year in 1997 and won his first batting title in 1999. He was considered one of baseball's best shortstops for several years while playing with the Boston Red Sox. He hit .283 with nine homers and 30 RBIs for the Chicago Cubs two seasons ago, when he earned $8.25 million. With the Cubs, he tore his left groin running out of the batter's box and was out for several months.

Garciaparra, who grew up in nearby Whittier and graduated from St. John Bosco High in suburban Bellflower, had said he was interested in staying with the Dodgers. "I've loved every minute of it," he said last month.

Garciaparra became all the more attractive to the Dodgers after Drew opted out of the final three years of his contract earlier this month, making him eligible to become a free agent.

Ah, sweet vindication! Way to go Nomar! I still remember what you did for this franchise.

Let me sound a cautionary note here. No, not about Nomar and his health, but about JD Drew and HIS health, namely his mental health. This is a guy who, as an amateur, let his agent, Scott Boras, talk him into sitting out a full year rather than sign with the Phillies out of college. He spent that summer playing in the independent Northern League before being re-drafted, and was finally signed by the Cardinals. Since then, he has shown flashes of brilliance, but he plays as if he has no pulse. His boneheaded baserunning (when he tried to score after an already tagged out Jeff Kent was barely picking himself up off the ground near home plate) cost the Dodgers in the NLDS against the Mets. Drew also has a world of talent, but his on-field actions resemble those of a sleepwalker. My cautionary note is to Sox GM Theo Epstein, who is rumored to be interested in obtaining Drew to replace Trot Nixon in right field. Theo, please, DON'T DO IT!!! There is a reason this guy has bounced from the Cardinals to the Braves to the Dodgers from 2003 until now, he is simply more trouble than he is worth.

Bill Mueller Retires. Takes Dodgers Front Office Job.

Former AL batting champ, all-around dirt dog, and the man who, with a hit off of Yankees closer Mariano Rivera in Game Four of the 2004 ALCS, drove home pinch-runner Dave Roberts after his historic steal of second after a Kevin Millar walk, is retiring after yet another year of knee problems to take a job in the Dodgers front office. Yahoo News AP wire excerpt:

LOS ANGELES - Former AL batting champion Bill Mueller, limited to 32 games with the Dodgers last season before undergoing what turned out to be career-ending knee surgery, retired Friday and will serve as a special assistant to Los Angeles general manager Ned Colletti.

Mueller, who signed a two-year, $9.5 million contract with the Dodgers last winter, hit .252 with three homers and 15 RBIs while striking out just nine times in 127 plate appearances. "He's a very smart guy," Colletti said. "He'll be involved with us in scouting, evaluating players, player development areas, amateur draft areas. He'll be a great sounding board for me."

Mueller finishes his career with a .291 average, 85 home runs and 493 RBIs in 11 seasons with the San Francisco Giants, Chicago Cubs, Boston Red Sox' and Dodgers. The 35-year-old third baseman hit .326 and had career-high totals of 171 hits, 19 homers and 85 RBIs with the Red Sox in 2003, when he won his batting championship. He was a member of Boston's 2004 World Series championship team.

Mueller said he realized as last season went on that he'd never be able to play again because of the damage to his right knee. "It's something I'm definitely going to need work on in the future, whether it's done with one surgery or two separate surgeries," he said. "It's something I'm basically going to have to live with the rest of my life, without being able to run or jog, without high-impact activity. It's unfortunate, it's crazy. I'm just trying to deal with it now, living day-to-day life."

Mueller and Colletti have known each other for several years. Mueller began his career with the Giants, where Colletti served as assistant GM for nine years before being hired by the Dodgers last November. "He's someone that I trust and know, and really most importantly, respect," Mueller said. "I think that's what created even more interest in staying in the game of baseball. Once I understood there was no chance I would ever be able to play again, I called Ned. When both of our interests were high, I thought this was a great move and a great decision."

Mueller said he has no regrets concerning his playing career. "I'm happy with the next chapter," he said. "My (job) description is a work in progress. As of right now, I'm very interested in learning under Ned. I think it's a wonderful opportunity for myself to be able to listen and really get tutored on the aspects of the front office."

Mueller was a no-nonsense, heads-up, do whatever it took to win type of player. He cared little about personal stats, and his hustle was part of the charm of that 2004 championship team. It's too bad he has to end his playing career this way, but he will have lots of options within the game due to the respect he garnered as a player. Good luck Bill!

Ryan Howard-NL MVP

Gonzalez Signs with Reds

Nomar Re-signs with Dodgers

Bill Mueller Retires

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Santana Unanimous American League Cy Young Award Winner.

The American League Cy Young Award winner was announced today, and it should come as no surprise that Johan Santana of the Minnesota Twins came away with the hardware. Yahoo News AP wire excerpt:

NEW YORK - Johan Santana swept the Cy Young ballot the same way he buzzed through batters all season. Santana won the AL Cy Young Award on Thursday for the second time in three years, and the
Minnesota Twins
ace was a unanimous choice once again.

Santana received all 28 first-place votes for a perfect total of 140 points in balloting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America. Chien-Ming Wang of the New York Yankees finished a distant second with 15 second-place votes and 51 points. Toronto's Roy Halladay was third with 48 points.

The left-hander separated himself from all others during a dominant season, going 19-6 with a 2.77 ERA and 245 strikeouts to propel Minnesota from a poor start to the AL Central title. With a baffling changeup and excellent control, he tied Wang for most wins in the majors and led the AL in ERA, strikeouts and innings pitched (233 2-3).
Forget the Triple Crown — it was the pitching version of a Quadruple Crown.

"I was trying to show people that what happened in 2004 wasn't a fluke," Santana said. And here's a scary thought: At 27, he thinks he can become even more effective, because there's more to learn. "In the future, I want to be consistent from Day 1. We're still making adjustments," Santana said. "I still believe that I can be better."

Jesus, that IS a scary thought. How much better can this guy get? He's like a lefty version of Pedro Martinez in his best years with the Red Sox. And by the way Johan, thanks for giving up David Ortiz's single-season club record 51st homer.

Santana also was a unanimous winner in 2004, when he was 20-6 with a 2.61 ERA and 265 strikeouts. He is the fifth pitcher to win the Cy Young Award unanimously at least twice, joining Roger Clemens, Pedro Martinez, Greg Maddux and Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax, who did it three times.

The award was established 50 years ago, and there was only one selection from both leagues from 1956-66.

Like Pedro in 1999 and 2000, when he went 41-10 with an ERA of 1.90 and almost 600 strikeouts, Santana is getting to the point where his starts resemble little more than private games of catch with his catchers. He's fun to watch, because, especially in this high-octane offensive era, he makes the game better just by using his head as well as his nimble left arm. Well done Johan, and please, take it easy on the Sox in 2007...

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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Baseball's General Managers Meet. Red Sox Win Negotiating Rights to Matsuzaka.

And speaking of pitchers, moments ago, as the annual General Managers meetings got underway, it was announced that the Red Sox emerged with the winning bid to negotiate with Japanese pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka. Yahoo News AP wire story:

NAPLES, Fla. - The Boston Red emerged Tuesday night as winners of the bidding for Daisuke Matsuzaka with a $51.1 million offer and have 30 days to sign the Japanese pitcher to a contract.

The Seibu Lions of Japan's Pacific League announced they had accepted the high bid for their prized pitcher, and the major league commissioner's office simultaneously confirmed at the general managers' meetings that the Red Sox had made the offer.

"Matsuzaka has a real talent. He would be a great fit with the Red Sox organization." Boston general manager Theo Epstein said. "We're excited to have won this part of the process. We're hopeful we can reach an agreement." Even before the announcement, general managers had assumed Boston would be the highest bidder in the blind process.

"We'll congratulate the winner and move on," New York Yankees GM Brian Cashman said Tuesday afternoon.

Matsuzaka is represented by Scott Boras, who last year negotiated the deal that moved center fielder Johnny Damon from the Red Sox to the Yankees. "Pitching, as usual, is at a premium," Boras said.

Warning! Scott Boras is a tool! I hope that Matsuzaka does not turn out to be the next Hideki Irabu. The Yankees ate that mistake. Matsuzaka is younger than Irabu was, and is in much better shape (George Steinbrenner once called Irabu a "fat toad"). Still, 51.1 million dollars is a lot of damned money to spend JUST TO TALK TO THE GUY AND HIS AGENT! Christ, it would have cost less money to have kept Johnny Damon last year, or Pedro Martinez and Derek Lowe the year before! All were key members of the 2004 WORLD SERIES CHAMPION RED SOX! But no. The Sox went cheap, let those guys walk, and they and their new teams, the hated Yankees, Mets and Dodgers all made the post-season in 2006. Do I seem bitter about this? All right. I'm bitter. Let's just move on...

Agents roamed the lobby at the hotel where GMs are meeting, discussing their free-agent clients. Some agents think the market will move more quickly this offseason because of the decision by management and the players' association to eliminate the Dec. 7 deadline for free agents to re-sign with their former teams unless they were offered salary arbitration.

Mets general manager Omar Minaya said some teams are unsure of where the marketplace is going, "so if they could do something quick, they're going to try to do it."

Mike Mussina's agent, Arn Tellem, kept up talks with the Yankees on a new contract for the pitcher that likely will be worth $23 million to $25 million over two years. "We're in the red zone," Tellem said.

With Barry Zito and Jason Schmidt heading a weak free-agent class, pitchers will get top prices.

"There are 30 clubs and probably three-quarters are looking for pitching," new Chicago Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. "There's a lot of interesting pitchers out there. At the end of the year, the teams that have pitching, and healthy pitching, are usually the ones that are around."

GMs, as usual, will hold their annual discussion Wednesday of whether to have instant replay available to umpires, a concept commissioner Bud Selig opposes. In the past, the idea hasn't garnered enough support. "I guess we'll get a sense of that tomorrow," said Joe Garagiola Jr., a senior vice president in the commissioner's office.


There will also be talk Wednesday of whether to eliminate tie games, having them instead become suspended games. On Thursday, the GMs will discuss whether to have uniform standards for storing baseballs, a talk prompted by the use of a humidor by the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field.

As for the postseason schedule, nothing seems to have come of the idea floated by Selig to give wild-card teams fewer home games in the playoffs. "That is not officially on the agenda, so I suspect that will be some good lobby talk," Garagiola said.

Christ Bud, are you like, an imbecile? YOU were part of the nightmare that is the wild-card, and now you want to make things tougher on these teams? Have you been taking leadership lessons from Preznit Flight Suit Fantasy? Why not just make the wild-card players throw with the opposite arm and hit with only one hand on the bat while you're at it...

GMs did vote on one rule change, proposing that outright assignments to the minor leagues not count against the number of optional assignments a team has on a player. That must be approved by owners and the union.

I buy that. Outright assignments are usually one-way tickets back to Triple-A, but on occasion, the clubs monkey with the rules. Case in point: 1987. Ellis Burks is tearing up spring training. He is the last player cut. He spends three weeks in Pawtucket, and gets called up to the Red Sox, where he put together a 20-homer, 27-steal rookie season in just 133 games. The Sox did that to keep him on their books an extra season. If he'd made the team from the beginning, as he clearly should have, he'd have been eligible for free agency at the end of the 1991 season instead of the 1992 season. Maybe if the Sox had been forced to define the type of option under which to place Burks, they'd have given the decision more thought.

Anyway, we'll see what develops as these meetings go forward.

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Webb Wins National League Cy Young Award.

Brandon Webb of the Arizona Diamondbacks was awarded the 2006 National League Cy Young Award today. Yahoo News AP wire excerpt:

NEW YORK - Brandon Webb of the Arizona won a wide-open race for the NL Cy Young Award, beating out San Diego closer Trevor Hoffman on Tuesday.

One of six pitchers who tied for the league lead with a pedestrian total of 16 wins, Webb received 15 of 32 first-place votes and 103 points in balloting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America. Hoffman, who broke the career saves record this season, got 12 first-place votes and 77 points.

St. Louis Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter, last year's winner, finished third with two first-place votes and 63 points.
Houston's Roy Oswalt, who led the NL with a 2.98 ERA, got the other three first-place tallies and came in fourth.

Webb, who went 16-8 with a 3.10 ERA and made his first All-Star team, was listed second on seven ballots and third on seven others. No pitcher was included on every Cy Young Award entry. Webb's victory total was the lowest for a starting pitcher who won the Cy Young Award in a full season. The previous low was 17 wins, by Pedro Martinez of the Montreal Expos in 1997 and Randy Johnson for Arizona in '99. Fernando Valenzuela of the Los Angeles Dodgers was honored with a 13-7 record in 1981 and Atlanta's Greg Maddux went 16-6 in '94 — but those seasons were cut short by players' strikes.

Note: Pedro's ERA in 1997 was a stingy 1.90 that led the league. He also struck out 305 batters and led the NL with 13 complete games that season. In 1999 Johnson led the NL in ERA with 2.48, innings with 271.2, starts with 35, complete games with 12 and an astonishing 364 strikeouts.

Webb also is the first NL winner to have an ERA above 3.00 since Philadelphia's Steve Carlton had a 3.10 mark in 1982. Rick Sutcliffe split the 1984 season between Cleveland and the Chicago Cubs, finishing with a 3.64 ERA overall but a 2.69 mark in the NL.

Before Webb, Johnson was the only Diamondbacks pitcher to take home the award, winning four straight times from 1999-02.

The AL Cy Young Award winner will be announced Thursday — and Minnesota's Johan Santana is a heavy favorite. The NL and AL Manager of the Year will be revealed Wednesday.

My money is on Santana.

Webb threw a career-best 235 innings, which ranked second in the NL. The 27-year-old sinkerballer also tied Carpenter for the league lead with three shutouts and both had five complete games, good for second in the NL.

One of the biggest keys in Webb's development has been his ability to control his deceptive sinker, which helps him induce one harmless groundball after another when he's on top of his game.

After a strong rookie season in 2003, the right-hander walked a major league-high 119 batters the following year for a terrible Arizona team that went 51-111. Webb also led the NL with 16 losses and 17 wild pitches that year.

But he cut his walks in half in 2005 and issued a career-low 50 free passes this year. And he got more help from Arizona's much-improved infield defense.

Webb agreed to a $19.5 million, four-year contract with Arizona in January. For winning the Cy Young Award, the buyout of his $8.5 million option in 2010 doubles from $500,000 to $1 million.

The 39-year-old Hoffman finished with a league-leading 46 saves in 51 chances for the Padres. He has 482 career saves, breaking Lee Smith's previous mark of 478.

Hoffman went 0-2 with a 2.14 ERA in 63 innings spanning 65 appearances. He was listed second on three ballots and third on eight. Hoffman also was a Cy Young Award runner-up in 1998 to Tom Glavine of the Atlanta Braves. Carpenter and Hoffman each receive a $50,000 bonus for finishing high in the voting.

In a season in which there is no truly dominant starting pitcher, this award usually ends up in the hands of a closer. I have a feeling that not enough voters would have been comfortable giving the award for best pitcher to a guy with zero wins, no matter how many saves he had.

No doubt Webb had a fine year, and was vastly improved in just about all aspects of the game. Despite the mediocre win total, he is far from the worst choice ever for this award. That dis-honor falls to Pete Vukovich of the 1982 Milwaukee Brewers, who had 18 wins, good for second in the AL, but an atrocious walk-to-strikeout ratio (102-to-105). The "Harvey's Wallbangers" Brewers clubbed their way to the AL pennant that year, and eventually lost the World Series to the Whitey Herzog's Cardinals, and Vukovich was definitely helped out by the bats of guys like Paul Molitor, Robin Yount, Cecil Cooper, Ben Oglivie, Gorman Thomas and Ted Simmons.

Stay tuned for the AL winner, to be announced later in the week.

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Monday, November 13, 2006

Lieberman to Stab Dems in the Face?

Ugly Kid Joe Lieberman is leaving the door open to make an official defection to the side of the enemy. Preznit Bush is eagerly applying fresh lip gloss for inevitable. Atrocities from the latest Tim Russert Fluff-Fest courtesy of the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star-Tribune:

"I'm going to caucus with the Democrats both because it's good for my constituents in Connecticut, because I retained my seniority, I become a committee chair, but also I want to continue to work to bring the party back to its historic traditions of strength on national security, foreign policy and innovation and progress in domestic policy,'' Lieberman said Sunday.

He said that because voters (Republicans) returned him to Capitol Hill as an independent, "I am now an Independent Democrat, capital I, capital D. Matter of fact, the secretary of the Senate called my office and asked, `How do you want to be identified,' and, and that's it. Independent Democrat,'' the senator said on "Meet the Press'' on NBC.

Joe, I've got an initial for you, you Whore, with a capital W.

With many Senate Democrats having campaigned or raised money for Lamont, as the party's nominee, Lieberman acknowledged it might be "a little awkward'' for him back in Washington.

"They played by the traditional partisan political playbook. And I can't say I enjoyed it, but we're all grown-ups, we've got a job to do, and I'm going to do my best to get that job done,'' Lieberman said.

Grownups? You mean the grown up way you acted when you took your ball and went home to become an "Independent" after Ned Lamont beat you in the August primary?

Democrats will hold a 51-49 edge in the Senate, so Lieberman, the Democratic nominee for vice president in 2000, could find himself courted by Republicans.

He was asked about a scenario in which he might become uncomfortable as Democrats sought to enforce party discipline and then the GOP offered to keep him as a committee chairman and respect his seniority if he switched.
"I'm not ruling it out, but I hope I don't get to that point. And, and I must say, and with all respect to the Republicans who supported me in Connecticut, nobody ever said, `We're doing this because we, we want you to switch over,''' he said.

Unbelievable...or maybe not...

Ken Kanniff, Connecticut's Most Wanted Gangsta, and I have had many discussions about this ass-clown. Ken posited that my hatred of the man was misplaced because his seniority was a key element in helping Democrats. My answer was in the form of a question: Help Democrats do what? Behave more like neo-con Republicans?

This election showed what an arrogant, out-of-touch asshole Lieberman is. He didn't get the message when Ned Lamont pasted his crusty arse in the August primary, so he ran off and pretended to be an "Independent". And thanks to the GOP leaving their candidate, Alan Schlesinger, hanging in the wind, Lamont went down in favor of "Joementum".

Now this piece of shit is going to endanger the 51-49 Democratic majority. If he switches to the Republicans, it'll be 50-50, and Ken's prediction of Cheney being wheeled from his crypt to cast critical tie-breaking votes will come true. They don't call the man Bush's favorite Democrat for nothing.

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Ramirez and Verlander named American and National League Rookies of the Year.

Major League Baseball handed out some more post-season hardware today as the Rookies of the Year in the American and National Leagues were announced. Yahoo News AP wire excerpt:

NEW YORK - Hanley Ramirez of the Florida Marlins won a tight race for NL Rookie of the Year, and Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander took home the AL award Monday.

Ramirez beat out Washington Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman by four points in balloting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America — the closest NL vote since the current format was adopted 26 years ago. The speedy shortstop got 14 of 30 first-place votes and finished with 105 points. Zimmerman received 10 first-place votes and totaled 101 points. Three of the top four NL finishers were Marlins. Second baseman Dan Uggla came in third, getting the other six first-place votes, and pitcher Josh Johnson was fourth.

Verlander easily won the AL honor after his closest competitors in a race dominated by pitchers were sidelined late in the season because of injuries. The hard-throwing right-hander, who helped the surprising Tigers reach the World Series, was listed first on 26 of 28 ballots for a total of 133 points. Boston closer Jonathan Papelbon came in second with 63 points, and Minnesota lefty Francisco Liriano finished third.

The 23-year-old Verlander, who went 17-9 with a 3.63 ERA, became the first starting pitcher to win AL Rookie of the Year since Dave Righetti of the New York Yankees in 1981. The last Tigers player to receive the honor was second baseman Lou Whitaker in 1978.

Ramirez gave the Marlins their second Rookie of the Year in four years, joining ace pitcher Dontrelle Willis
(who won the ward in 2003). The 22-year-old Ramirez, acquired from Boston last November in a deal for Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell, batted .292 with 17 homers, 59 RBIs, 119 runs and 51 stolen bases. Ramirez also hit 46 doubles and 11 triples.

Voters select their top three choices and points are tabulated on a 5-3-1 basis. Before 1980, writers voted for just one rookie.

Zimmerman, who actually appeared on more ballots than Ramirez (29-27), hit .287 with 20 homers, 110 RBIs and 47 doubles. He also played strong defense at third base.

Six Marlins received votes, the most for one team on a rookie ballot. Pitchers Scott Olsen and Anibal Sanchez were also mentioned, along with outfielder Josh Willingham.

I'm good with these choices. If Papelbon and Liriano had stayed healthy and effective, the vote may have turned out differently, but they didn't, and Verlander had a terrific season. Even though Verlander faltered badly with fielding problems in the World Series, he's a fireballer who can reach 99 MPH at times. Given the way Tigers manager Jim Leyland handled him in 2006, and how he will likely continue to handle him going forward, there is no reason that Verlander cannot continue to improve and become a truly dominant starter.

As the excerpt indicated, the NL choice was a much tougher one, as revealed by the numbers. Ramirez is yet another Red Sox farmhand who was traded away. It appears that the "can't miss" tag observers pinned on him was accurate. Ramirez was part of the aforementioned deal that sent pitcher Josh Beckett and third baseman Mike Lowell to the Sox. It looks like he'll become a terrific player, and the fact that he is no longer a Red Sox may actually help him develop, since the Sox aren't known for daring baserunning, which is definitely part of Ramirez's game.

Congratulations guys!

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Sunday, November 12, 2006

What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas, At Least Two Feet Away...

A ridiculous ruling now prohibits erotic dancers in Las Vegas from touching their customers in ways that can be interpreted as "raunchy" or "sexual" in nature. Yahoo News Reuters excerpt:

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A court has upheld a Las Vegas city regulation barring erotic dancers from raunchy physical contact with their customers, in a ruling that runs counter to the gambling city's sinful reputation.

Nevada's Supreme Court on Thursday reversed two lower court rulings that found the regulation improperly curtailed "expressive conduct" protected by the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment.

The high court judges said that even if the constitutional amendment did apply, its protection was not absolute, and added the city measure helps curtail prostitution, sexually transmitted disease, drug offenses and criminal activity.
The city rule bars dancers from physical contact of a sexual nature with customers.

The decision echoes a ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last year that backed a California city's regulation requiring at least two feet (0.7 meter) distance between erotic dancers and the audience.

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People, people! What the hell do you expect when you walk into one of these establishments? Games of Gin Rummy? Christ, the whole reason for going to such places is to engage in "raunchy physical contact". Look at it as a way to conduct oneself "expressively". Anything else would be silly, like Bill Clinton's idiotic "I never inhaled" nonsense when asked if he'd ever smoked pot. Hunter Thompson nailed that one. He said (paraphrasing): "Why the hell else would you smoke the shit? That's be like me saying "I eat LSD, but I don't swallow it'..."

Not for nothing, but in October 2005, as part of the bachelor party for the distinguished Ken Kanniff, Connecticut's Most Wanted Gangsta Man, our posse ended up at Scores, where I was immediately greeted by the captivating Sweet Lil' Shelby. She and her colleagues then proceeded to provide us with an evening of stimulating entertainment that included many lap dances, an activity that is certain to be viewed in a dim light according to this ruling. And sure, these activities would most likely be frowned upon by some on the Christian Right (like good old Ted Haggard, at least until his gay hooker turned him in), but neither we boys, nor the girls ever crossed the line, despite the fact that the two-foot rule was in constant violation while we were there. In fact, we were so well behaved, that one of the young ladies, upon hearing that a couple of the our crew members were planning a move to the area, offered her services as part of her full-time wage-slavery gig, which is real estate brokerage.

Look, I know there are a lot of clowns out there who like to paw the girls. I also know that there are a lot of girls who grind that little extra bit harder to get the guys to pay for more dances, but I just don't see why this was ever a matter that should have ever seen a courtroom. In my distantly receding youth, I played guitar in a heavy metal band that would occasionally play in a place that was several notches below Scores on the "ambiance" scale. We didn't get many song requests from the patrons, if you acquire my drift. In the one summer I did this, I saw some shit go down that you simply would not believe. Let me tell you, when the interactions between patron and provider got "blurry", the staff dealt with it quickly and severely. And they were somehow able to do so without needing a "two-foot" rule to know when and when not to act.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Dems Take House of Representatives! Rumsfeld Resigns!

The Democrats handily regained the majority in the House of Representatives after yesterday's stunning mid-term election. The Senate is still up for grabs, as there is, at the time of this typing, a mere 7,000 vote difference between Democrats Jim Webb and incumbent George Allen (R - Racist Prick). Even Ken Kanniff, Connecticut's Most Wanted Gangsta, and registered Republican, gave me this prediction yesterday afternoon:

Basically I am calling for the Dems to take the senate! We will see somehow, my gut tells me we will be looking at a 50-50 senate with the Veep being rushed form his crypt to cast essential votes for the next two years.

The news is mostly good all over. Senators Rick Santorum, Conrad Burns, Mike DeWine and Jim Talent are gone. Sadly we still have to deal with that racist SOB Corker in Tennessee and that turncoat muther-effer Joe Lieberman in Connecticut, but hey, you take what gains you can get, and it appears that the Democrats have picked up 28 seats in the House without having lost a single seat.

Not only that, but Preznit Flight Suit Fantasy threw Defense Secretary Donald "You Go To War With The Army You Have, Not The Army You Want To Have" Rumsfeld under the bus, mere hours after assuring the world that Rummy's job was safe, and that he, the Preznit, had the utmost confidence in him. Apparently Cheney and Rove managed to convince him otherwise. I guess the Unholy Trinity wants to make sure that Rummy has no distractions when he is subpoenaed to testify about his part in this administration's reckless criminal activities.

My meager contribution to the chaos is this National Public Radio excerpt of Preznit Flight Suit Fantasy's drooling speech this afternoon:

In response to a question asking how he can work with Nancy Pelosi when she has called him "incompetent, a liar, the emperor with no clothes and, as recently as yesterday, dangerous":

"I've been around politics a long time. I understand when campaigns end, and I know when governing begins. And I'm going to work with people of both parties.... People say unfortunate things at times, but if you hold grudges in this line of work, you're never going to get anything done. And my intention is to get some things done. And as I said, I'm going to start visiting with her with the idea of coming together."

"I mean, look, this is a close election. Race by race, it was close. The cumulative effect, however, was not too close, it was a thumpin'. But nevertheless, the people expect us to work together. That's what they expect. And as I said in my opening comments, there comes responsibility with victory, and that's what Nancy Pelosi told me this morning. She said in the phone call she wants to work together, and so do I. And so that's how you deal with it."

"This isn't my first rodeo. In other words, this is not the first time I've been in a campaign where people have expressed themselves and in different kinds of ways. But I have learned that if you focus on the big picture, which in this case is our nation and issues we need to work together on, you can get stuff done."

As Emma Leroy of the Canadian sitcom Corner Gas might say: That guy is as sharp as a sock full of soup."

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But poor George had hardly finished wiping the egg off of his Chevy Chase when someone else asked him a generic question about the message voters sent the GOP. Sorry, this part isn't in the transcript, so I'm going from memory here. The Clueless One's answer went something like this:

"Well, it's hard when people have to write in a candidate's name. I had to be the Secretary of State in Houston where voters had to be given pencils and paper and told who the candidates were. That's a tough thing for us to overcome..."

Yes, it certainly is. Especially when the reason there had to be a write-in candidate for that particular seat was because the incumbent, Tom DeLay (R - Arrogant Shithead), had to resign his seat in disgrace due to his involvement with crooked lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Too bad the reporter didn't use that as a follow-up. Liberal press my arse. Anyway, enjoy that shit sandwich Mr. Preznit. You've earned it!

Friday, November 03, 2006

National League Gold Glove Award Winners.

As promised, here is the follow-up to yesterday's AL Gold Glove Awards. Today, the NL revealed it's recipients, as detailed in the following Yaho News AP wire excerpt:

NEW YORK - Greg Maddux has become a constant in an era of change. The slick-fielding pitcher won his 16th Gold Glove on Friday, tying the record shared by pitcher Jim Kaat and third baseman Brooks Robinson.

"I'm honored," Maddux said in a statement. "I take great pride in my fielding. This award means a lot to me."
Maddux has won the NL pitching award each year since 1990 except for 2003, when Atlanta's Mike Hampton interrupted the streak.

Maddux was 15-14 with a 4.20 ERA this year, including 6-3 with a 3.30 ERA for the Dodgers. The eight-time All-Star and four-time NL Cy Young Award winner has 333 career wins.

Kaat won AL Gold Gloves for pitchers from 1962-75, then won the NL award the following two years. Robinson was honored as the AL's best fielder at third base from 1960-75.

Rawlings has presented Gold Gloves annually since 1957 based on voting by managers and coaches before the end of the regular season. They may not select players on their own teams, and they vote only for players in their own league.

San Francisco shortstop Omar Vizquel won his 11th Gold Glove, his second in a row in the NL after the nine straight he earned with the Cleveland Indians from 1993-01. He is two shy of the record for shortstops, held by Ozzie Smith, and at 39 he extended his own mark as the oldest shortstop to win the honor.

Atlanta center fielder Andruw Jones won his ninth consecutive Gold Glove. Among outfielders, he trails only Roberto Clemente and Willie Mays (12 each) and Al Kaline and Ken Griffey Jr. (10 apiece).

That's some tight company Andruw. Well done!

St. Louis third baseman Scott Rolen won his seventh Gold Glove, his first since 2004. Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols won for the first time, as did New York Mets center fielder Carlos Beltran.

Houston catcher Brad Ausmus won his third award, his first since 2002. San Diego center fielder Mike Cameron won for the third time he earned Gold Gloves in the AL with Seattle in 2001 and 2003.

Second baseman Orlando Hudson won with Arizona after gaining the honor for the first time with Toronto last year. "I have always taken a lot of pride in my work defensively and this is the ultimate compliment," Hudson said.

Beltran and Vizquel each earned $100,000 bonuses, while Cameron, Pujols and Rolen got $50,000 apiece. Ausmus gets a $25,000 bonus.

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Once again, let's see what the stats had to say about these guys. Position-by-position rundown:

First Base - Albert Pujols was third in the NL in putouts, and second in assists and double plays, despite having missed 20 games. He made just six errors. Todd Helton of the Rockies made just four errors in virtually the same number of chances, and he led the NL in double plays, so he may have been a slightly better choice, but I don't have much to quibble with about Pujols having won it this season.

Second Base - Orlando Hudson was fifth in the NL in putouts, but he was far and away the NL leader in assists. Hudson also led the NL in double plays while making just 13 errors. He's a Frank White clone who deserved the award.

Third Base - Scott Rolen was just eighth in the NL in putouts, but he ranked second in assists and double plays, despite having missed 20 games, while making just 15 errors. He also has the rep, but at least he lives up to the hype.

Shortstop - Speaking of rep, Omar Vizquel ranked fourth in the NL in putouts, but just seventh in both assists and double plays. Sure he made just four errors, but you can't botch balls you can no longer reach. A better choice would have been Adam Everett of the Astros who had 90 more assists and 17 more double plays (he ranked second in the NL in both categories) while having made just seven errors.

Outfield - Three center fielders again in the NL. This is a tough one because all three guys are legitimate glove heroes. Jones was second in the NL in putouts, but had only four assists, mainly because nobody runs on him anymore. Beltran was fourth in the NL in putouts, but led CFs in assists, and double plays. Cameron was third in the NL in putouts. Juan Pierre of the Cubs led the NL in putouts, and he didn't make a single error, but he recorded only two more putouts than Jones in over a hundred more innings played. In a tough call, I'd have to give the award to Jones. He never makes a mistake out there, and Tom Glavine missed him his first two years as a Met. Beltran and Cameron's awards should have gone to Pirates left fielder Jason Bay (second among NL LFs in putouts and assists). Alfonso Soriano led the NL in assists and double plays, but had the second most errors of any NL OF, so he gets nothing. My right field pick would be Brad Hawpe of the Rockies. Hawpe was fourth among NL RFs in putouts, but led them in assists (second overall in the league to Soriano).

Catcher - Brad Ausmus led the NL in putouts by a wide margin. He was tied for third in assists and double plays, having made just two errors, and having committed only one passed ball. Good choice.

Pitcher - Greg Maddux was nowhere near the NL lead in pitchers putouts, but he tied for first in assists, and was the leader in double plays without having made a single error. Again, good choice.

Well, that's that. See you when the next batch of awards is given out, or whenever another topiccompelss me to blog at youse...

Thursday, November 02, 2006

American League Gold Glove Award Winners.

Major League Baseball began it's annual rite of post-season award announcements with today's choices for American League Gold Glove Award winners. Yahoo News AP wire excerpt:

NEW YORK - After all those errors in the World Series, a Detroit Tigers pitcher won a Gold Glove. Kenny Rogers, whose smudged left hand created a lot of suspicion during the World Series, won his fourth straight Gold Glove on Thursday and fifth overall.

Tigers teammate Ivan Rodriguez won his 12th Gold Glove, extending his record for catchers. Seattle right fielder Ichiro Suzuki, Minnesota center fielder Torii Hunter and Oakland third baseman Eric Chavez won the awards for the sixth straight season.

Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter and Toronto center fielder Vernon Wells won for the third time in a row, Texas first baseman Mark Teixeira won for the second consecutive season and Kansas City second baseman Mark Grudzielanek was a first-time winner.

Chavez and Rodriguez each earned $100,000 bonuses for winning Gold Gloves, while Rogers gets $75,000. Grudzielanek, Suzuki and Wells get $50,000 apiece and Hunter receives $25,000.

Gold Gloves have been presented since 1957 by Rawlings and are voted on by managers and coaches before the end of the regular season. They may not select players on their own teams, and they vote only for players in their own league.

NL Gold Glove winners will be announced Friday.

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Now let’s see how the voters did. Thanks to the wonderful baseball-reference web site (located conveniently on my blog roll), we can look at this past season’s fielding stats and see if there could have been other, more deserving players for these awards.

Position-by-position: First Base – Mark Teixeira led the AL in putouts and double plays, and was fourth in assists while committing just four errors. He’s a good choice.

Second Base – Mark Grudzielanik led the AL in double plays, but was just fifth in putouts and sixth in assists. Sure, he made just four errors, so he does have sure hands. Part of the reason he led the AL in DPs was that terrible Royals pitching staff that allowed so many baserunners. Grudzielanik only made eight more double plays than the AL runner-up, Boston’s Mark Loretta, who played for a team that allowed fewer baserunners, so is this a good measure of fielding prowess? A better choice might have been Mark Ellis. He had more putouts, but fewer double plays and assists, but he made just two errors. We saw what happened to the A’s infield in the post-season when Ellis went down with a broken finger.

Third Base – Eric Chavez led the AL in double plays with 42 while making just five errors. But he missed some time due to injury which depressed his putout and assist totals (fifth in putouts, sixth in assists). Mike Lowell of Boston led the AL in putouts, was fourth in assists and second in double plays while making just six errors. It’s a tough call, but I’d have been tempted to go with Lowell.

Shortstop – Derek Jeter was last among AL shortstops in range factor. He was seventh in the AL in putouts, sixth in assists and ninth in double plays. That despite having played more innings than all but four AL shortstops on a Yankee staff that allowed more balls to be put into play than in recent years. Michael Young of Texas led the AL in assists and double plays, and was third in putouts. He also had 14 errors to Jeter’s 15, despite handling 135 more chances than Jeter did. Who do YOU think is more deserving of this award?

Outfield – Once again we have the “let’s exclude left fielders from the discussion” concept in full gear. Torii Hunter has the rep, and he did lead AL center fielders with four double plays, but he was more than 60 putouts behind league leader, Cleveland’s Grady Sizemore. Vernon Wells was more than 70 behind Sizemore’s pace. Both Hunter and Wells are fine defenders, but how do you overlook that discrepancy? I’d give Carl Crawford of Tampa Bay the award for left field, and to Sizemore for center field. Ichiro can keep his, even though he was fourth in the AL in putouts for right fielders. Let’s not forget he played nearly forty games in center field and saw enough action there to make his combined putout total third best in the AL.

Catcher – Ivan Rodriguez made just two errors and committed just four passed balls for a mostly young, inexperienced Tigers pitching staff. He was sixth in the AL in assists, which is terrific when you remember that hardly anyone runs on his cannon of an arm. Good choice.

Pitcher – Kenny Rogers was second in the AL in assists, and sixth in putouts. He has a terrific pickoff move, and showed some nice reflexes on the national stage this post-season. Good choice.

That’s all for now. I’ll be back tomorrow with the NL version.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

CD Review Saturday. Glenn Hughes, Edenbridge, Iron Maiden. The World Series Sucked.

New Music From Glenn Hughes, Edenbridge and Iron Maiden

It is raining like hell here in North-Central Massachusetts, so I figured I'd catch up on my new music reviews. In the spotlight are the new releases from Glenn Hughes, Edenbridge and Iron Maiden. Hang on tight!

Music For The Divine is the latest release from Glenn Hughes. He features long-time guitarist JJ Marsh and new-found friend, drummer and co-producer, Red Hot Chili Pepper Chad Smith, as well as some guest appearances by Pepper guitarist John Frusciante. The songs are tight and varied, mixing elements of hard rock, funk and jazz, with very little self-indulgence. Here’s the track-by track rundown:

The Valiant Denial – Opens with a spacey repeating riff from JJ Marsh before moving into a slamming funk beat driven by Glenn’s pounding bass lines and Chad’s tight drumming. Glenn delivers the vocals with urgency and passion. After a couple of verses and choruses, the spacey riff returns and blends with some violins through which JJ contributes some deep fills before the song ends.

Steppin’ On – A monster funk-rock tune with some hard hitting on the drums by Chad. JJ’s guitar sounds goes from clanky to overdrive to pace Glenn’s snarling vocal delivery. The second half of the song moves into a nice jam until the end.

Monkey Man – Another funk rocker that is interspersed with quiet parts as Glenn’s vocal delivery goes from growling to gentle. JJ throws in a short solo tinged with a bit of the old wah-wah pedal. Another end-the-song funk jam turns up as Chad turns up the heat on the drums, while Glenn lays down some heavy bass lines.

This House – An acoustic ballad that centers on love. Glenn gives a lilting vocal performance over the strains of Marsh’s guitar and a nice string arrangement.

You Got Soul – Back to the funk rock on this beast. Glenn’s vocals go from a whisper to a scream over Chad’s jazzy drum fills and JJ’s everything but the kitchen sink guitar sounds. The heaviest song so far in terms of sheer sonic output.

Frail – Another acoustic ballad that highlights Glenn at his introspective best as he shows the more subtle side to his voice as he delivers the sad lyrics.

Black Light – A hard-hitting rocker that showcases Chad’s rolling thunder drumming style paced by JJ’s growling guitar riffs and insane, wah-wah driven solo. Glenn keeps the pace on the bass, while delivering a mid-range (for him) vocal performance that drives the point home.

Nights in White Satin – Why a Moody Blues cover? It’s not as bad as it sounds, and is actually kind of funny in parts. JJ let’s Chad’s Red Hot Chili Peppers bad mate, John Frusciante take over on the guitar, and he does a nice job as he provides some cool fills and overall atmosphere. Glenn’s vocals are mostly terrific as he does a nice job with his multi-tracked voice on the choruses, but he loses it late in the song as he pushes the limits of the higher end of his register. At least they didn’t try to duplicate the “breathe deep the gathering gloom…” part.

Too High – A straight ahead rocker with a stomping beat, courtesy of Glenn’s driving bass and Chad’s hard hitting drums. JJ is back at the guitar wheel, and he provides a psychedelic wah-wah feel and a tight solo. Glenn’s vocals are all over the place here, including some kind of dampening effect in some parts.

This Is How I Feel – John Frusciante returns to play guitar on this track, which goes from ballad-like to mid-tempo rocker, with some orchestral sounds in the mix for atmosphere. Glenn gives us a good feel for the range of his voice, as it goes from subdued to urgent. John provides a short guitar solo, and a nice psychedelic outro over Glenn’s meandering bass lines and Chad’s steady backbeat.

The Divine – The final cut is a poignant ballad. Glenn seems to be almost crying at times as he sings the words of warning that comprise his lyrics. Mark Kilian, who provided the string and orchestral arrangements on this CD, does more of the same here in addition to playing some nice keyboard melodies in accompaniment to JJ’s acoustic guitar.

All in all, this is a solid effort by the veteran Hughes. I hear that JJ has, for now, left Hughes to pursue a solo career. I hear that Glenn will replace him on the upcoming tour with Jeff Kollman (Cosmosquad), who is a solid choice. Fans of Glenn’s heavier side may be a bit disappointed, but his solo stuff has been headed in this direction ever since Return Of Crystal Karma. Besides, if it’s heavy you want, grab his collaborations with Dario Mollo (Voodoo Hill) or Tony Iommi (Fused). Well done Glenn!

Next up is a CD from Austrian symphonic metallists Edenbridge. The brainchild of a multi-instrumental madman named Lanvall, who writes all their material, this band has a lineup that has become prevalent in Europe over the past few years. They feature the typical guitar, bass and drums, with atmospheric keyboards, but they also have female vocalists with operatic abilities. Other bands that work this way are Nightwish, After Forever and Within Temptation to name just a few. The Grand Design is Edenbridge’s latest release. The track-by-track rundown:

Terra Nova – The beginning track features most of what we come to expect from this band. Seven minutes of time changes, multi-tracked choral vocals and musical virtuosity shine through. Multi-instrumental madman Lanvall provides his usual orchestral feel with tons of keyboards and some tight back-and-forth guitar solos with guest guitarist Karl Groom (Threshold, Shadowland). Drummer Roland Navratil gives us more of his machine-gun drumming attack, and new bassist Frank Bindig holds his own at the bottom end of things quite nicely. Vocalist Sabine Edelsbacher continues to shine as one of the best in this genre of European bands with operatic style female singers.

Flame of Passion – An epic that starts out as a straight-ahead rocker, the tempo goes back and forth between grandiose and hard-hitting. The whole band is tight, and Sabine ignites the sonic landscape with her vocal delivery.

Evermore – This track opens with a gloomy feel before charging straight ahead. The middle of the song gets quiet with light piano fills and Sabine’s whispering vocals before the band kicks back into gear and drives the tempo upward for the final verse.

The Most Beautiful Place – Starts out as a piano ballad that carries Sabine’s lovely voice as Lanvall’s orchestral layering make their appearance, bringing a deeper atmosphere.

See You Fading Afar – This one is a driving rocker, fueled by Lanvall’s effects-driven guitar tone and Sabine’s multi-tracked vocals. Roland stomps hard on the drums as the song grinds away.

On Top of the World – An uptempo song that starts off with a nice guitar melody from Lanvall that supports Sabine’s voice as the song moves into gear. Lanvall also throws in a fluid, multi-tracked guitar solo with a soaring feel to it. Nice, positive feel all through this track.

Taken Away – A quiet, sad song that features Lanvall on the piano to accompany Sabine’s sad, lamenting vocals.

The Grand Design – The epic title track begins quietly, with Sabine singing loftily over Lanvall’s harmonic acoustic guitar before the band kicks in with the grandiose power that is Edenbridge’s trademark. About four minutes in, the time and instrument changes come into play as Lanvall’s multi-tracked guitar solos run up against some violin parts, courtesy of Astrid Stockhammer, and some beautiful flamenco guitar from Martin Mayr. Lanvall caps this all off with an amazing guitar solo before the song finds its way back to the main melody. There is a final flourish of choral style vocals over Lanvall’s guitar as the ten-plus minute long track comes to an end.

This is a terrific CD, and if you are already a follower of this band you will love it, but at just eight songs that total about 43 minutes, it’s simply not enough! I hope Lanvall isn’t running out of ideas. Also, the cover art is typically mystical, but the band photos are terrible, especially those of Sabine. Look at her pics on the previous release, Shine, then look at this crap. Sabine is a babe! If I were Sabine, I’d find the photographer and kick the living shit out of the SOB. Anyway, next time, how about a little more sonic bang for the buck?

The final review of the day is A Matter of Life and Death, the latest release from British Metal Gods Iron Maiden. This is their third release since vocalist Bruce Dickinson and guitarist Adrian Smith rejoined the band for 2000’s Brave New World, and these guys just keep delivering the goods. Track-by-track rundown:

Different World – An atypical short and sweet Maiden track. Bruce Dickinson delivers his usual wailing vocal performance on this stomping piece. Steve Harris on bass and Nicko McBrain on drums are their usual steady selves. Adrian Smith seals the deal with a whining guitar solo.

These Colours Don’t Run – This baby brings us back to the more typical Maiden time changes. Bruce delivers the lyrics that are centered on not backing down in the face of war. Janick Gers fires off a tasty guitar solo. Adrian follows along with a solo of his own as the time changes develop.

Brighter Than A Thousand Suns – Starts quietly with Bruce using the low end of his register before the grinding rhythm comes in to power the song forward. This song deals with the notion of atomic weapons and the potential horror they hold. Adrian Smith takes the first guitar solo after a quiet passage featuring Bruce almost crooning “Out of the darkness / brighter than a thousand suns” before the band kicks back into high gear. Janick then fires off an insane guitar solo as the band heads into “gallop” mode before the main melody re-asserts itself. Question: We are three tracks deep and Dave Murray has yet to take guitar solo…WHY???

The Pilgrim – Starts off as if it will be a mid-tempo piece, but quickly revs up into gallop mode. Steve’s pinging bass lines and Nicko’s crashing drums pace the multi-layered guitar melody. The tempo changes to one with an Arabian feel before going back to the main melody. Bruce delivers the goods with lyrics that showcase the delusion of religious fanaticism. Adrian contributes a tight, quick guitar solo.

The Longest Day – Steve’s bass line starts this track off over a lone, quiet guitar. Bruce’s vocals go from whisper to low sneer to mid-range, and the band slowly builds the sound up as Bruce turns it up to banshee mode. The lyrics deal with the horror and desperation of battle. Midway through, a time change comes in with a sinister new melody. Adrian comes in with a guitar solo punctuated by Nicko’s heavy hitting and multi-tracked guitar melody before…AT LAST, A DAVE MURRAY GUITAR SOLO!!! The song then shifts back to the main melody with a last painful lament from Bruce before the end comes quietly.

Out of the Shadows – Starts quietly with a straining melody and Bruce singing in a lower voice than normal for a Maiden song. The chorus then comes in amidst an increase of wattage as Bruce begins to wail. Adrian takes the first guitar solo, although Dave provides some nice fills. A time change that features some acoustic guitar comes in, and is topped off by some multi-layered guitar work and more of Dave’s fills before the song comes to a quiet end.

The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg – Another one that begins quietly with Dave playing a flurry over Steve’s bass line. Bruce again begins his vocal delivery on the low end as this horror story of a song gets going. Things get going as a monster riff asserts itself, and Bruce’s vocals seem teeter from sneer to lament. A time change with some multi-layered guitars punches through, paving the way for Dave’s slithering guitar solo. The main melody returns with Bruce continuing to wail over the crunching wall of guitars, bass and drums before one last time change abruptly ends with uneasy quiet.

For the Greater Good of God – Quiet guitars over Steve’s bass begin this track. Bruce, again, begins his vocal performance on the low end of his range before the tempo change kicks in. Bruce, now back in wail mode, cries out over the guitar melody and Nicko’s heavy hitting. This song deals with the consequences of following idiotic leaders who invoke God to justify their mad plans. A flurry of time changes follows, punctuated by guitar solos from Janick, Adrian and Dave, before the main melody comes back. The song ends quietly with Bruce’s quiet lament for Jesus at the mockery most leaders have made of his life and death.

Lord of Light – Yet another slow burner at the outset. You get one guess as to the subject matter of this track. After a minute and a half, the tempo kicks in and Bruce is wailing like a banshee. Close to four minutes in things quiet down again for a bit before a new, more sinister melody kicks in. The guitar solos are quick, but deadly. First, Adrian fires off as if he’s a rocket to the stars, then Dave cuts in to put the fire out and start one of his own. The song ends with a heavy, quick finality.

The Legacy – The final cut, this one also gets off to a quiet start, the quietest yet, complete with acoustic guitars for over two minutes until a heavy, echoing riff churns up the waters before it quiets down again. The pattern repeats until a slow riff powers its way through followed by Bruce’s sneering vocals. If I had to guess, I’d swear that the lyrics centered on our own Preznit Flight Suit Fantasy and his brainless manner of leadership. The mid-song tempo changes come in, with Dave tossing in a tasty guitar solo. A nice multi-layered guitar melody comes in as Bruce continues to wail. The chaos slows down to quiet again as the song comes to a slow end.

How can this band still be this good after so long? Unbelievable performances abound on this outing. Needless to say, Maiden fans should love it. The US leg of their tour is over, and they are now in Japan (I managed to catch about 2/3 of their October 6th show in Boston. Unfortunately, due to wage slavery organization bullshit, I was late to the gig, which is why I have not posted a review). Anyway, see how you do on the Guess the Guitarist solo-meter. I’ve followed these guys from just about the beginning, and I like to think, as a guitarist myself, that I have a pretty good ear for the subtle differences in styles and sounds of each guitarist. See if you hear it the way I did. Here’s the solo tally: Adrian – 8, Dave – 5, Janick – 3. The CD package includes a DVD of how the sessions went as the CD came to life. I don’t see anything but boredom stopping this band from continuing to come up with monster recordings like this one, and right now, these guys are anything but bored. Exceptionally well done!

Let's Agree That This World Series Did Not Happen

Please? What a joke! I will say that the Cardinals scouts definitely earned their pay. They obviously saw the way the Yankees and A's pitched to the Tiger batters, and were able to help the Cardinals pitchers come up with a plan to neutralize the bats. How else could Placido Palanco go from ALCS MVP to 0-for 17 in the World Series? The Tiger hitters with the notable exception of gimpy Sean Casey looked completely helpless at times aginst the St. Louis hurlers. That would have been bad enough for the Tigers, but those awful throwing errors! You can't give teams extra outs and expect to win, especially in the World Series.

I have no worries about the Cardinals. They are mostly a veteran team that will likely end up at the top of the crummy NL Central again in 2007. It will be interesting to see how the young Tigers rebound from this. After the thrill of knocking off the mighty Yankees and shocking the A's with a sweep in the ALCS, to have their magical season end like it did has to be, to put it mildly, a letdown of epic proportions.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Things That Go BANG! In the Night...

Here are a couple of tidbits I found as Game 3 of the World Series draws near. They serve as a reminder to those who would ingore what is happening in the ever changing sky...

154-Pound Meteorite Unearthed in Kansas

Scientists, using technology they hope will help to unravel some of the mysteries of the Martian soil, have unearthed a 154-pound meteorite that fell to the ground about 10,000 years ago in an area of Kansas that is known for having taken such hits. Yahoo News AP wire excerpt:

GREENSBURG, Kan. - Scientists were excited when they pulled a 154-pound meteorite from deep below a Kansas wheat field, but what got them most electrified was the way they unearthed it.

The team Monday uncovered the find 4 feet under a meteorite-strewn field using new ground-penetrating radar technology that someday might be used on Mars. It was that technology which pinpointed the site and proved for the first time that it could be used to find objects buried deep in the ground and to make an accurate three-dimensional image of them.

"It validates the technique so we can use something similar to that instrument when we go to Mars," said Patricia Reiff, director of the Rice Space Institute.

Such GPR systems had been used in the past to locate smaller meteorites through the ice in Antarctica. But until the Kansas dig, the technology had not been successfully used for ground detection in heavy soils — like on Mars — to find meteorites or water there.

The dig was likely the most documented excavation yet of a meteorite find, with researchers painstakingly using brushes and hand tools to preserve evidence of the impact trail and to date the event of the meteorite strike. Soil samples also were bagged and tagged and organic material preserved for dating purposes.

"When we find a piece of meteorite, each one is a new sentence we add to the book to understand the evolution of the solar system," Essam Heggy, planetary scientist at the Johnson Space Center's Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston.

Even before they had the pallasite meteorite out of the ground, the scientific experts at the site were able to debunk prevailing wisdom that the spectacular Brenham meteorite fall occurred 20,000 years ago. Its location in the Pleistocene epoch soil layer puts that date closer to 10,000 years ago.

"We know it is recent," said Carolyn Sumners, director of Astronomy at the Houston Museum of Natural Science, as she surveyed progress on the dig. "Native Americans could have seen it."

The Brenham field was discovered in 1882. Scientists have since traced pieces of the shower as far away as Indian mounds in Ohio, indicating the meteorites were traded as pieces of jewelry and ceremonial artifacts. The site was largely forgotten in recent decades until Arnold and Mani leased eight square miles of it and began looking deep below the surface. More than 15,000 pounds of meteorites have been recovered from the area.

This week's find will end up as part of a new exhibit on comets, meteors and asteroids at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. The museum will pay about $50,000 for it, Sumners said. It is valued at more than $100,000, she said.

Landowner Alan Binford watched with interest as the scientists freed the meteorite, bagging clumps of his rich Kansas farmland around it. "I didn't figure there would be that much scientific value," he said. "I never thought about them going to this extent. It is interesting history."

No shit he watched with interest. For that much money I'd sure as hell watch with interest too!

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German Cottage Crushed by Meteor

On a similar note, a 77-year old man had his cottage destroyed by a meteor over the weekend in Germany. Full Yahoo News Reuters story:

BERLIN (Reuters) - A fire that destroyed a cottage near Bonn and injured a 77-year-old man was probably caused by a meteor and witnesses saw an arc of blazing light in the sky, German police said on Friday.

Burkhard Rick, a spokesman for the police in Siegburg east of Bonn, said the fire gutted the cottage and badly burned the man's hands and face in the incident on October 10.

"We sought assistance from Bochum observatory and they noted that at that particular moment the earth was near a field of meteoroid splinter and it could be assumed that particles had entered the atmosphere," he said.

"The particles usually don't reach the surface because they disintegrate in the atmosphere," he added. "But some can make it to the ground. We believe this was a bolide (meteoric fireball) with a size of no more than 10 mm."

A few years ago, I remember reading a story in Sky & Telescope about a meteor that caved in the front of a guy's car in Upstate New York. I wonder what the insurance comapany told that poor bastard...

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