April 30, 2005 - In Honor Of No. 30
   Gaseous Weapon: Sometimes, news stories just seem fake.

   Today's Uncomfortable TV Moment Watching The Recently Dead: Wrestler Chris Candido died on Thursday of what looks not to be a drug-related death so much as complications after surgery to repair a broken ankle.

   Well, that didn't stop him from being on this pretaped show last night, promising that nothing was going to stop him from being there to watch some tag team defend a championship at some point in the future.

   Uncomfortable? Oh yeah. And we were only wasting time until the shift was over ... imagine if we actually cared a great deal.

   For The Last Time, I Swear: In the swan song of the intern contest that sall be Googled, the Cooch's World rooting interest finished second behind this guy.

You ask for an intern, I give you salvation.

... most important, the Intern should be an extension of yourself (check ... I will explain). By "extension," I do not mean someone who kisses your butt or shamelessly tries to mimic your writing style, but rather, someone who truly appreciates the subtleties of your column ...

In an ESPN interview, Mike Vick was once asked to pick between Tupac and Biggie, and chose Biggie. I was catatonic. My exact words were, "I'm going to pretend that never happened." You wrote almost the exact same quote in your column the next day. This is important. When you listed Walsh/McKay as one of the greatest duos in modern history, I understood that it was not a joke.
-- Contestant 1, Kevin Cott, proving the catch-all
of "popular culture" doesn't necessarily mean "good."

   Please note he was Contestant No. 1, which was well before I was playing out the string just to play out the string. There was actually some bile there.

   Well, I wish him the best. In the amount of time it took for them to finish the contest, I more or less stopped reading Simmons with any regularity. Now that I don't see almost any primetime TV, I simply can't relate anymore.

   And that might be the greatest prize of all, because if this is truly the "best new comedy in years" as the promos say, television has lowered its standards well beyond the mere unattractive girl at the end of the bar. They're playing "close your eyes and walk, hands out, until you hit someone." All I'm saying is a comedy shouldn't make me angry at stupidity for extended periods of the half-hour.

   Though I have kept watching, so clearly there's something there.

   • Sadly, I was not able to pull consecutive all-nights and complete two 100-inch stories on the same subject. Once 5 a.m. rolled around, my body more of less told me 53 inches would be a good place to stop.

   Despite that, however, tonight was the night at the office most of us hoped would never actually come ... my boss worked his final shift before walking off into the sunset with PartyPoker visor in hand. Well, actually, there was no sunset because it was raining, and he was only holding a paper box dominated by a ceramic rabbit.

   We did have beer, though. And a couple of cakes.

   Plus, chess was played. Though not by me, as I was too busy not working.

   And silently hoping the whole thing was just a bad, bad nightmare. However, it isn't, though it is good to know I won't be adding much to any extended bitching about my job ... some are far better at it.

April 29, 2005 - Not Tanned, Unrested, Yet Ready
   In Case You Were Wondering: The NHL Shop, clearly now desperate for business because they started expecting me to pay full price on impulse purchases, has taken to selling hockey equipment.

   It is not, in fact, game-used.

   • O. pus. Opus.

   From the man who once wrote 90 inches on miniature golf, you're going to be getting a whole hell of a lot more on bodybuilding.

   I've never been one of the main lynchpins of a story on the front page of the newspaper for three days in a row. Let there be no doubt ... whether there's a new editor-in-chief in town or not, and whether you feel like this is essentially your chance to show him you've got what it takes to be awesome, that's pressure.

   Someone please call me on Tuesday and remind me to sleep. Heck knows I won't need a hint on the bathroom ... I think I drank two gallons of water tonight alone.

   Also, my girlfriend (who doesn't write enough to compel me to link to her LJ) is leaving Saturday morning for a vacation in the Frnech Quarter. She's a good Western Mass. girl, and she's essentially consenting to spending an extended weekend in what's accepted as Hell's Southeastern Headquarters.

   Rosie, please keep an eye out in the hospitals for extremely white girls with oddly bruised legs that I had nothing to do with. It was totally a reaction to penicillin, taken in conjunction with a strep throat. And thankfully, it's going away.

   Also, if anyone wants to go to the Revolution-CD Chivas game Saturday night, call me. I won't go alone, but I will meet someone there. I'm guessing plenty of good seats are still available.

April 28, 2005 - It's A Wash
   On Fact-Checking: In lieu of yesterday's unmitigated disaster, I'm not going to lecture myself, but merely remind everyone on the presence of fact checking at the office.

   There's none. To my knowledge, I'm the only person who does any organizing fact-checking while editing, and that's only if I see something that looks wrong to me. I'd imagine others do the same when they edit, but the general feeling is I've done enough to be trusted with these things.

   Obviously, that's not the case. As I've said quite often, I am an idiot. Your mockery, while painful, is appreciated.

   I'm just glad it was a bad column anyway ... good to get all the crap out of the way before I pen another opus with a spelling error in the lede.

   New, Greater Ways To Lose Money: As if The Strip needed another one ...

Wynn Las Vegas
-- Well, they did have an empty lot or two.

The Wynn Las Vegas is seen from the roof of the Treasure Island Hotel and Casino on the Strip in Las Vegas, Nevada. The $2.7 billion resort opened at midnight on April 28. REUTERS/Ethan Miller/Las Vegas Sun

   He's been building the thing for five years, and this is what he came up with. A site that takes longer to load than others, because of "rich imagery" and the fact that Steve Wynn's disembodied voice talks to you. $372 a night is the cheapest for a weekend stay wrapped around my birthday, if you're scoring at home.

   I'd rather you just go with the flat-panel computer monitor, but far be it for me to stop you.

   Elsewhere ...

Every seat in the 27-table poker room, which sat empty before midnight, was filled by 1:30 a.m. Professional poker champion Daniel Negraneu, a darling of the televised poker genre, was surrounded like a celebrity icon, posing for photos with fans.

At the hotel's gift shop, employees tried to entice customers into purchasing Wynn Las Vegas T-shirts with the grand opening date of April 28, 2005, on the back for $30 each.

A crowd of watchers filled the high-end gaming room, craning their necks to view a blackjack player who wanted to wager only $100 chips at $1,000 a hand. His teetering stack of black chips was nearly a foot tall.

Minutes after the public was allowed inside, a young blonde woman turned heads by clapping and shouting, "I won! I won!" Sure enough, her $1 reel slot machine flashed the necessary triple sevens, and others gathered around her seat to determine what had caused the commotion.

Despite the apparent big winner's excitement, a nearby bettor scoffed after he glanced at the woman's machine.

"She won a hundred bucks," the man said, rolling his eyes at the woman's perceived overreaction.

   So apprarently it's like the Bellagio, but more elegant. Over/under on my parents deciding they want to go there, however, is at several months, only because they don't know the place exists yet and news travels slowly.

   • It's been a while since we built an update around a picture.

Cute. Very cute.
-- This is why.

Kelly Osbourne arrives to the screening of 'The Muppets' Wizard of Oz' telefilm on Wednesday at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York. (AP Photo/Diane Bondareff)

   Is it the pallor? The Care Bears shirt with the tights? The foot tattoos? No, it's just the general package pulling it all together.

   And she's not even the family's shining star.

BANGKOK, Thailand - Jack Osbourne, the chubby, bespectacled son for former shock-rocker Ozzy Osbourne, underwent almost four weeks of training and colonic irrigations before entering the ring against a veteran Thai kickboxer.

The result: a second round knockout win to the teenage television personality. ...

Jack spent four days at the elite Fairtex Muaythai Fitness Camp near Bangkok, the Thai capital, before traveling to the popular tourist island of Pha-Ngan for "a complete physical detox, which was basically twice-daily massive colonic irrigations to kind of flush himself out of toxins," Stobart said.

   I've never heard the term before.

   And I hope to never hear it again.

April 27, 2005 - Dairy Mix-Ins
   By The By: In a crushing blow to my parents Friday night television viewing, JAG is finally going off the air after 10 years and some absurd number of episodes across two networks.

   The fact that the show was once cancelled by NBC, ended up on CBS and is now ending because David James Elliott has signed a developmental deal with ABC leaves me hopeful that new episodes of JAG will be appearing on UPN sometime in the fall of 2011.

   Nerd Knowledge: Why I was looking at this, I'm not entirely sure ... however, it does give me great warmth to know Douglas Adams and I think along the same lines.

"The answer to this is very simple. It was a joke. It had to be a number, an ordinary, smallish number, and I chose that one. Binary representations, base thirteen, Tibetan monks are all complete nonsense. I sat at my desk, stared into the garden and thought '42 will do' I typed it out. End of story."
-- November 2, 1993

   The theories, however, remain both frightening and hilarious.

   The Busiest Rainout Ever:

Heads Bobble In Red Sox Nation
-- I really thought I'd be the only one to notice the Bobble Ankle doll ... then AP ran with it. Jerks.

Line Drive Shakes Up Bride-To-Be At Fenway
-- Because I was back in the office due to the rainout, this ended up on my desk. I was so just being polite when I said I'd do it if needed.

   • So I drove to Boston, then never even went in the park. Drove back home, met with the bodybuilders in a meeting I thought I'd have to skip, went to the office, ended up with the fan story, finally wrote the column, and got home at 11.

   All that, and I picked up dry cleaning. Plus, the cosmic question was answered: If I order a strawberry Coolatta from Dunkin Donuts and I am not offered whipped cream, I am not secure enough in who I am to request it.

   It would have been so good, too.

April 26, 2005 - Maskingtracking
   TV Feedback: Now would be a good time to put up that screenshot of this site's grandest gratuitous (and unrequested) plug, but that video tape is sitting at the other end of the state.

Subject: Normar
Date: Fri, 22 Apr 2005
From: "Marc __" <___@____.com>
To: jcouture at s-t dot com

   Good job on CN8, but come on...there was no "rage" from fans surrounding Nomar's departure from Beantown. When dispatched to Chicago, he was an average fielder and inconsistent at the plate. And, to mention his name in the same sentence with Orr and Bird, give me a break!

   Hope to see you again on CN8!

   Almost enough to make you actually wonder what I said. I hope the wondering won't last much longer, and that I too will soon see me again on CN8.

   Producers, you clearly know this exists. Please don't make me beg ... I'm the only person you've ever had on the show who's a legitimate source for both pasta pot advice and Cubs' lineup machinae.

   I suspect, anyway.

    In the same vein of Meg's comments about the Internet as first-hand source of historical analysis, the cast of FOX's 'Stacked' all have blogs.

   You too can now read about what it's like to be part of a show successful solely because of surgically enhanced, then reduced, breasts. It's really quite fascinating, and deserving of praise like "It's nowhere near as awful to read as you'd think it'd be."

The folks from American Idol have invited us to come to their show. I'll be there in the audience with Christoper, Elon, Brian, and Marissa. Hopefully they'll let us up on stage so that we can say a little bit about our show and convince everyone to stay tuned in for Stacked. Who knows, maybe Marissa will sing for us...She's amazing!!!!!

   Yes, nuts and gum are together at last. Corporate synergy, how did we get along without you.

   All I want to know is which former Baywatch star will next join Pam and Traci Bingham in wearing lettuce bikinis for PETA ... my money would be on someone, but that would imply I could name anyone else on the show who isn't David Hasselhoff.

   • College kids, much like me, often think they're funny.

   Fortunately, society often picks up the slack.

   In other news, I suppose this is also corporate synergy working for you, though the PETA people should really just be glad she isn't eating the bulldog.

"Dogs are not fashion accessories," PETA's Michael McGraw growled to The Boston Herald.

   And chicken eaters aren't Nazis either, but who can keep track?

April 25, 2005 - Well Acquainted With Gate Whatever
   Orioles 8, Red Sox 4: Man. I'm sure glad I didn't pay $30 to see this game.

Baltimore Finally Puts The 'O' In O's
-- For a game that was so cut and dry, I couldn't for the life of me figure out what exactly to write. Somehow, I blame having to wait an hour for my credential at the press window.

   I'd much rather have been at the Celtics game, I suppose, though the day we start sending multiple guys to those is still about three series away. And really, if I'm the other guy, there's a major problem somewhere along the line.

   Mocking The Healthy: Ever needing something more concrete than slow metabolism, an inactive thyroid, or Wendy's being so sweet and tasty to blame your obesity on? Now you can blame the government, by misconstructing a colorful guide!

   Apparently, I'm suppose to eat fewer fruits than anything else, which is nice considering I have a juicer and pail full of apples in my kitchen right now. It's not like it would be difficult for me to track what I've eaten for 24 hours, but somehow, I think it's better that I don't. I'd rather just use these helpful vegetable tips:

Sauces or seasonings can add calories, fat, and sodium to vegetables. Use the Nutrition Facts label to compare the calories and % Daily Value for fat and sodium in plain and seasoned vegetables.

Many vegetables taste great with a dip or dressing. Try a low-fat salad dressing with raw broccoli, red and green peppers, celery sticks or cauliflower.

   Though really, I should be lambasting no one's eating habits, considering I have to work to make myself eat three meals a day. Work that often involves pizza and/or buffalo sauce.

   • And when it comes to diet, there's no place to be well aware of how out of line you are than at a bodybuilding competition.

   In the lobby, they were selling "Energy Scoop," which is a protein-laden ice cream that I assume fits in the average natural bodybuilder's diet. This was along with the requisite food cart, that had only water and Gatorade.

   Of course, I went off for lunch and ate an entire 12-inch pizza ... it had no vegetables, but it's not like I would have been averse to their placement.

   Someday, I won't be able to do this anymore. Think of me like an athlete, playing in the pros until later in life, when the mere thought of the act causes debilitating heartburn. Hey, I already can't drink Mike's Hard Lemonade anymore, and let me tell you ... I've cried myself to sleep over that development.

April 23-24, 2005 - The Alternate Uses Of Pam
   Britney and Louis: Apparently I deadpanned this a little too much ... it is, in fact, a fake. Though it did take me a little while to figure it out.

   Regardless, I've never seen such a poor use for a Whalers hat.
Q: Who are the players to watch in the NFL Draft on April 23-24? And who will the 49ers take with the first pick?
-- Albert Fuso, San Francisco, California

A: The players to watch are the best ones. Because they will be taken first. Look for players who are larger, stronger, and faster than the other ones. Another thing to look for is a player with a strong arm. Look closely, as arm strength can be nearly undetectable to the naked eye. Has their watchband been replaced recently? Is one of their sleeves distended and torn, Hulk-style? As for the 49ers, I'm pretty sure they'll trade away their pick for a decent frickin' name. Like one that wasn't used on Scooby-Doo. So lame.

   Lame, indeed. Just pathetic stabs at humor, with nearly every single one failed poorly.

   Speaking of Web-based pathetic stabs at humor ...

   The Return of the Sports Guy Intern Contest: Do you remember why I spent so much time trying to lampoon all the contestants in the intern contest so good, it's now become broken links in the ESPN.com archive?

   Dreams do come true, everyone.

Subject: comments...
Date: Sun, 24 Apr 2005
From: "Theresa MacDonald" <____@yahoo.com>
To: cooch at joncouture dot com

Now I am a hot chick with a journalism degree and no job.
-- Contestant 13, Theresa MacDonald, who ruined a good entry with A-Rod Syndrome: Real hot chicks don't need to announce directly that they're hot.

   Screw you, I AM hot. Well, at least hot-ish. I was just trying to make a point that I was not some manly-girl sports fan wanting to work for Sports Guy.

   Anyway, the only reason this is coming up right now is that today was the first day that someone suggested to me that I should Google myself along with the ESPN thing....The thing that offends me most about your comment is the A-Rod comparison; I have NEVER swatted a ball out of a pitcher's hand, and I have no immediate plans to do so.

   But, thank you for saying my entry was good otherwise. And if possible, I would like SOME credit for being one of the few female entrants who didn't gratuitously mention my bra size.


   While even I'll admit the whole thing was as hacklike as, say, wearing a tropical shirt on for a television appearance, I fear we now have to believe it was a complete and utter success. Theresa is simply the latest in a long line of would-be media professionals who have ended up here because of it, the leader of which is Casey Stern, who ran a mic cord through my hair during the World Series.

   I have since seen Casey at Fenway. However, I have yet to introduce myself as, "The Guy Who Posted That Mic Cord Story About You." Just doesn't feel like enough to base a conversation around.

   And because I did have to look this up, Theresa was the one who has the picture of Johnny Damon in her bathroom. She advanced through Round Two with promises of televising Dance Dance Revolution competitions on ESPN6 -- I know my brother would approve -- sat in a luxury box for the ALDS game that featured the legendary barhopping column, survived taking a shot at the contest by enjoying Brad Pitt being hit by cars and is apparently among the final seven finalists in something that's yet to end.

   I know I'm waiting breathlessly for the conclusion, though the site does now have an official rooting interest. Theresa McDonald ... a girl who can take a joke.

   Even if it's a bad one.

Back To Back Shutouts Boost Hopes
-- Inside Baseball was delayed thanks to what you're about to read about, but here it is. We're dealing with season starts this week, and the pitching performances of David Wells and Matt Clement. Plus, I remember my all-time favorite baseball streak.

   • You guys almost got to see the first update from the road. What I witnessed on Saturday was so overwhelming, I almost need to post from a Holiday Inn in North Haven, Conn.

   Instead I needed a day to absorb it, and yet, I still don't know what I can possibly say.

   Hvae you ever been flipping by ESPN and stumbled across a bodybuilding competition, being staged somewhere in America? I'm not talking about World's Strongest Man, but I could gladly tell you about that too ... somehow, I've become the paper's fitness writer. That seems more an indictment than anything else.

   Anyway, I attended a bodybuilding competition on Saturday. This one, to be exact ... though there aren't any results to be seen there yet, I assure you, it all happened.

   And I was there for nearly every awkward second.

   Now, I don't want anyone to get the wrong idea. I'm not taking anything away from what any of the competitors have accomplished, because everyone in this show was absolutely massive. I can't even begin to fathom the amount of work and discipline that went into their bodies ... well, I can fathom it since I know -- we've been following some of the competitors for several weeks -- but the application of it is beyond foreign to me.

   All that said, I don't think I would have felt any more out of place at a future staging of the Million Man March. Oh, there were people there who were, like me, clearly not into the fitness liefstyle, but they were family and friends of competitors. They weren't standing by the wall with pad in hand, trying to capture something that really can't be captured with mere words by myself, Spaulding Gray, or anyone.

   I'm just glad we had a photographer.

   I just hope Mike missed the part where the guest poser came out. The one with the dramatic music playing, and who peeled off his thin black robe to reveal a Speedo the identical color as his black skin, and who then turned around to reveal a frighteningly large "package," a "package" that led the gaggle of fitness buff girls (one of which who'd apparently been in Maxim) standing approximately two inches from me to openly discuss what they would like the owner of said nearly revealed "package" to do to them with said "package," not fazing the guy from the fitness supply booth outside approimately five inches away from me who'd been trying to pick them up the whole time.

   This is one of those stories I'll be unfolding day by day, as I go over more notes and actually write the feature that was the reason I was there. One of the competitors I was watching won, so it'll be a great story.

   I'll just need to go about it slowly, since to try and remember all of it at once might make me cry again.

April 22, 2005 - Welcome, TV Viewers
   LiveJournal's Greatest Gift: Courtesy of our friend from New Orleans, the revelation that Britney Spears's "Oops I Did It Again!" is actually a cover ... of a Louis Armstrong song?!


"Oops! I Did It Again" was recorded in April 1932 in a Chicago studio, most likely Nearlie's of West and Fourth. Cut for the Decca label by Louis Armstrong and elements of Zilner Randolph's touring group, "Oops!" failed to make the chart impact of "All Of Me," another side recorded in the same session, and soon fell out of print.

The song remained all-but-forgotten until sixty years later, when a young Britney Spears sent her interpretation of the Armstrong tune all the way to the top of the charts.

   This could turn out to be common knowledge, but until then, the disturbing fact that Britney Spears did far more with this song than Satchmo needs to be shared. It just isn't right.

   Nor is that this could presumably make those who think she wrote the song in the first place feel less strongly about her career in this, her transition to mother and reality show contestant.

   Devil Rays 5, Red Sox 4: In the end, that's about what was deserved. When your pitcher barely throws as many strikes as balls, you're probably not going to win. Especially when your pitcher throws a pitch that might reach 70 mph if he's firing it incorrectly.

   The Rays play a real nice style of baseball, accepting that they have no power and sending guys all around the diamond. It won't really get them anywhere, but it will probably keep them out of last place once Toronto figures out they really aren't that good.

   • For those who watched, the TV apperance went well. When I receive a phone call and am asked to go over "things that piss me off," we're pretty much in my wheelhouse. The only downside was my choosing to participate in "Tropical Shirt Friday," which has been pioneered by the host who wasn't there tonight, and whose backup did not wear a tropical shirt.

   It might have worked out better. I was told the leather jacket made me look more curmudgeonly.

   Also, the phrase "for those who watched" may take on a special significance tonight, as the producers threw up both the address to this very Web site and my actual e-mail address without my even asking. It was far cooler than discovering the TV in the waiting area was of the HD variety, and that my name appeared in the Comcast-issued info through their program guide.

   If you're new here, you'll quickly figure out the simple amuses me.

   So yeah ... the first public plug for whatever this thing is. Clearinghouse, article directory, general sad stab at fame ... call it what you will. While I highly doubt there were that many people watching on a Friday night -- and probably far fewer than however many began watching the break-spanning segment on the Boston Lobsters -- I'd love to know what people think. Even if "sucks" factors in prominently.

   It would be much nicer to write up something interesting, but it's late and I have to cover a bodybuilding competition on Saturday. Not exactly cover it, but cap a long worked-on feature on two of the contestants from around these parts.

   I don't think I can properly address how ancy I am about this ... there are about 800 things that could go wrong and cause me to be publicly beaten, but these are the prices of F-list celebrity status.

   It can't all be Red Sox games and sitting in the Heinz Field cafeteria, you know.

April 21, 2005 - Honored To Spam The Pontiff
   Much Anticipated PlayStation Repair Update: The total cost ended up being a can of compressed air, dropper of electronic lubricant, some Q-Tips, isopropyl alcohol, the repair guide and a CD fix kit, but I again never have to go outside. The culprit looks to have been the rods on which the laser assembly rides drying out, which I what I'd suspected to begin with.

   Fortunately, things were solved one step before I started taking the laser apart. That never could have ended well.

   This officially means I now consider myself qualified to fix your PlayStation 2 when you break it, klutz. Given Sony probably would have charged me $120 to do what I did for maybe $25 (plus the $30 disc fixer), this also officially means I can only sort of overcharge you and feel OK about it.

   Pointing Out 'It's Better Here': I certainly hope whomever put "Wendy's Closes Internal Probe of Finger" into the "Odds and Ends" section knew exactly what they were doing.

Ohio-based Wendy's International Inc. maintains the 1½-inch-long finger tip did not get into the chili in its ingredients. All the employees at the San Jose store were found to have all their fingers, and no suppliers reported any hand or finger injuries, the company said.

Anna Ayala told police she found the finger in her chili March 22 while eating at a Wendy's in San Jose. Health officials say it was apparently a woman's finger, because of the long, manicured nail.

The Las Vegas woman claimed she intended to sue but relented, claiming the publicity was too emotionally taxing. Court records show Ayala has a history of making claims against corporations, including a former employer, General Motors and another fast-food restaurant.

   Yeah. I know if I found a finger in my bowl of chili, I'd relent just because the public was going to expose me as someone who bitches a lot. I mean, it's not a big deal ... it may not even really be a finger, depending on how you feel about the "finger vs. thumb" debate.

   Anyone who reads this story and has seen The Big Lebowski, I'm not going to make the joke. You already know.

"There are ways, Dude. You don't wanna know about it, believe me."

   • My Comcast cable groupies, Friday night, 10 p.m. Sports Pulse, which has already gained points by consistently referring to me by the correct name.

   I haven't been on since Sept. 8, 2003 ... this might never happen again. I know if I were you, I'd ditch a whole Friday night and have a party.

   Or at least tape it. I mean, this is my wheelhouse. "Curmudgeon at Large" technically equals "Jon goes on TV and talks about things that piss him off."

   Sadly, I can't work in anything, anger-driven or not, about the Pope's new email address.

April 20, 2005 - Puff, Puff, I'll Pass
   Helping Those Less Fortunate: The following was sent to me, and with several other S-T staffers, by a reader looking to get it published.

Subject: (none)
Date: Wed, 20 Apr 2005
From: "B. ___" <____@aol.com>
To: jcouture at s-t dot com

   Curse of the Bambino Part II

   Trying to get this published in the Times. Its a completely new idea.

Last thoughts on the Curse of the Bambino

   During the season opener at Yankee stadium, I saw a Yankees fan holding a sign that read, 'Curse of the Bambino Part II.' I only remember it because it was the first correctly spelled sign I've ever seen at Yankee stadium, where the average IQ doesn't exceed Randy Johnson's (pre-Yankees, when he won games) ERA.

   Today, when I was reading Steinbrenner's realization that yes, after all this time, the Yankees do in fact {expletive} and that he was sorry for all the Yankees fans (what I've been saying for years), I realized there might have been something to that sign.

   The Curse of the Bambino was always thought to be an affliction against the Red Sox, consistently ending each season in defeat. No one ever thought that it might also be what was boosting the Yankees to their 27 championships. Why should it have crossed anyone's mind? After all, the Yanks have consistently had the highest payroll, so why shouldn't they win?

   Yet, the question is one I've been pondering this second week of baseball, as the Yanks find themselves hovering around last place. When, last year, we came back from 3-0 to humiliate the Bronx Bombers winning the ALCS, did we just end our legacy of defeat, or did we also bring to an end the Yankees reign of victory?

   The season is just beginning, and anything can still happen. Will the Yankees' 13 run second inning the other night turn things around? It will certainly take more than an inning to redeem what has recently been called, "the biggest disappointment in baseball." There is a long summer ahead. And if the 'Curse of the Bambino Part II' is real, it might just be a very, very long season for Yankees fans.

   B___ _______

   Now, I like to think I am a generous man.

   As such, let's never speak of this again.

   • It became clear to me at some point over the weekend, it became springtime in New England (and other parts of the Northeast) I drove through. Nearly instantly, everyone was wearing sandals and shorts, the sun was out and people were curious as to why I hadn't been golfing yet.

  Course, I spent the first two days after realizing this in a car driving and in a stadium working, but I'm now free to enjoy things between bodybuilding competitions and Manny Ramirez home run exhibitions.

   As such, it's probably a good thing that my PlayStation 2 has decided now, after approaching three and a half years of impeccable use, that it's crapout time.

   The sound of a dirt bike is never something you want coming out of a piece of precision electronic equipment, unless obviously that we're talking about a dirt bike. The machine will still read discs, and occasionally work fine for extended periods. Every minute or so, however, after a fashion, the thing will start making grinding noises and just not read a disc.

   While it would be infinitely easier to just buy a new machine off eBay -- things being what that are, that'll likely be cheaper than paying the $120 Sony would want to fix it -- I am attempting to fix it myself as a sort of brainteaser. I managed to crack the machine open tonight, and actually used it for a good 20+ minutes with the cover off before reassembling it and having the same problem crop up rather quickly.

   So if these updates just stop anytime soon, assume the worst -- I've electrocuted myself like an idiot and am lying on my floor unconscious. In said situation, please alert the proper authorities, lest I begin to smell like Pius XII. My fellow tenants don't need that.

   There are worse ways to spend a nice day than attempting home electronics repair ... like this, for example.

These days, Surge is the beverage equivalent of an endangered species: Coca-Cola stopped marketing it about five years ago and has no plans to boost production of the drink, which occasionally turns up in soda fountains but is no longer sold in bottles or cans.

But a far-flung band of devotees is clamoring for its revival and keeping the Surge legacy alive with a Web site -- www.savesurge.org -- featuring 500 pages of Surge testimonials, photographs of old Surge paraphernalia and even recipes for making a Surge-like beverage at home.

Web designer Eric Karkovack ties the loose ends together from inside the brick walls of his apartment in south-central Pennsylvania. Each day, an average of 500 Web surfers visit the site that he started with another Surge fan in 2002, around the time the soda became scarce.

   Wow, 500 a day. Spamming Web spiders churn that many hits out in a couple hours.

April 19, 2005 - It Didn't Reach The Pike
   And Then There Was 265: In honor of Joseph "Benedict XVI" Ratzinger, the first pope I've ever known not named John Paul II, I looked back at some of the more recent popes. In a way, I suppose it's attempting to learn something new today, but as you'll see, there's very little that anyone would consider necessary knowledge.

John Paul I (8/26/78 - 9/28/78) -- He took his name from the two popular popes who preceded him, and never really understood why he got elected pope. Humble, he ditched mostly of the popely pomp, and predicted Wojtyla would succeed him -- they sat across from one another in the Conclave.

He probably wasn't murdered, as he died of a heart attack. Apparently, he was so sick during the Conclave, he couldn't wear the shoes bought for him.

In short, he was the Gerald Ford of klutzy popes, and his walk embarassed everybody. I, on the other hand, think he was awesome.

Paul VI (1963-1978) -- He was the last pope to actually be crowned, and came out publicly against artificial birth control. He apparently was really indecisive, and often talked about stepping down but never did.

So he was like me, but in a far godlier sense.

He also throught Satan had infiltrated the Catholic Church, which means also like me, he jumped to the worst possible conclusion in most situations.

Blessed John XXIII (1958-1963) -- The pope who died while my father was in high school, thus being the one who got the page in his high school yearbook -- he went to Cathedral High School in Springfield. Of course, he's raised a family who doesn't go to church, but I'd imagine he and my mother have a very good reason for that.

When he was named a cardinal, a woman in a low-cut dress apparently appeared at the reception. No one watched the woman, but whether the cardinal was watching the woman. I have no idea whether he looked, but he did know she was wearing a low-cut dress.

He was a stop-gap pope, elected after a long-serving one, and not unlike Benedict XVI, the oldest pope elected since 1730. He was apparently a cool guy, always smiling when he looked at the camera, visiting prisoners and generally acting like a normal guy.

Apparently, late '90s Internet reports say he had a diary that predicted Jesus would return to New York in 2000. Whether that's true or not, I think we can all agree that's a good a place as any for armageddon to start.

Pius XII (1939-1958) -- The pope during WWII, he's the only one in the 20th Century to claim Papal Infallibility, which seems a little shocking because it's such a useful thing to have in your medicine cabinet.

He took a lot of heat for how he handled the Nazis, generally staying out of it, but it looks like a real no-win situation. If Hitler came out and said the pope was the only person who "always contradicted" and "never obeyed" him, I figure he did alright.

For as smart as he was, he took on a charlatan doctor near the end of his life. The medication the guy put him on gave Pius chronic hiccups and rotting teeth, and the embalming he did caused the body to turn purple, rot faster and the nose to break off. The dcay stench caused the Swiss guards to pass out if they weren't rotated every 15 minutes.

So yeah, medicine cabinet.

   For more on the popes of the past, visit your local library. They're probably very lonely since the Internet came around, and the heat and air conditioning are free.

   • I'd just like it known that, had I been at Fenway tonight, I would have attempted to run down to Lansdowne Street and find Manny's home run. I've done it before when I was a junior at BU and living within sight of one of the left-field light towers.

   Course, they then lost. The absurdity of that home run, however, will be realized throughout the season when it gets shown over and over and over.

   And the balk count is at two after Halladay had one for Tononto ... course, I've yet to see one live, as I was only in the building for Wells's on opening night.

   A man can dream, can't he?

April 15-18, 2005 - Black Tape Would Have Been Better
   Monday: Since the day in mention has little to do with the other three -- I did get back after midnight, thus allowing me to cheat them all together in the strict world of daily Web updating -- let's talk about it separately.

Manny's Day In The Sun
-- How nice it was to cover a game that wasn't Sox-Yankees can't be understated. I could see the field, I could think, I could write, I could talk to people. Also, they served breakfast.

   My father was at today's game, so it was good to get to go downstairs and see him and his friends. It was also nice that they bought me a beer, even if I couldn't drink it. It's possible they did just have a spare lying around, since this is my father and his friends we're talking about, but we'll say it was for me.

   Also, I dare say this was the best Patriots Day in Boston I've had in a while since I avoided the Marathon altogether. Coming up from the south, I parked at Northeastern, walked to the park, walked back and was on 93 South well out of its way ... I never even saw the course.

   Whereas some will tell you the marathon is exciting to watch, I'm holding fast with my rule of "The next time I will be excited about the Boston Marathon, it'll be because I'm running in it." I highly recommend it, unless of course you enjoy watching people you don't know run and increase the chance their toenails and hearts will literally fall out of their body.

   Not taking anything away from anyone who runs the race, obviously ... just don't ask me to care about your deeply personal accomplishment.

   • And now that that's over, we're off to Pittsburgh.

An In-Depth, First-Hand Look At ... The Pirates?
-- When I was done with this, I wondered what exactly they would do with it. Even the looking back at Kevin Romine was more relative. However, I'm attempting to expand the reader's world view, and Pirates-Cubs games do just that.

   PNC Park remains as awesome as it was the first time ... I found myself walking around it and wishing that plan to build a New Fenway next to Old Fenway actually came to fruition.

Press Box Views
-- If only because of the spacious, open-air press box.

   You can love Fenway, but don't condemn me until you've been there on a regular basis is all. A nice new park modeled after Fenway, with new seating and actual wide concourses and not being builk nine decades ago would be something you'd like more than you think you would. Course it's not going to happen, so I can talk like this.

   Anyway, the game was the most minor piece of this weekend in Pittsburgh, so on to the TTP.

   1) The schedule for Thursday night into Friday wasn't held to at all, which is probably for the best.

12:45 a.m. -- Home from Thursday night Red Sox win.
1 a.m. -- Sit to watch some amount of TiVo programming, which likely means it included wrestling and/or The Simpsons.
1:45 a.m. -- Do a whole lot of dishes, just because they should be done.
2:30 a.m. -- Head to office to get Sports Editor job writeup, even though it's online.
3-4:30 a.m. -- Put together cover letter and resume, but then have to save them online as PDFs so I can print them at the office.
5 a.m. -- I shower again, if only to set up a dividing line between what was Thursday and what was Friday.
6:05 a.m. -- After packing, loading the car, and heading back to work to assemble my application, I'm on Route 18 and headed west.

   2) Understandably, sleeping 0:00 before driving 10:21 is not the best prep. As such, I decided to calculate how many miles I went per hour to keep my mind occupied.

Hour 1: 67.4 miles -- Whale City to R.I.-Conn. line
Hour 2: 59.9 miles -- State line to East Haven, Conn.
Hour 3: 33.2 miles -- East Haven to Norwalk, Conn.
Hour 4: 56.9 miles -- Norwalk to Wannaque, N.J.
Hour 5: 69.3 miles -- Wannaque to Delaware River tolls, Pa.
Hour 6: 34.9 miles -- Delaware River to ____
Hour 7: 71.5 miles -- ____ to Mechanicsberg, Pa.
Hour 8: 62.8 miles -- Mechanicsberg to Mile 171 on Penna. Tpke.
Hour 9: 70.9 miles -- Mile 171 to Mile 100 on Penna. Tpke.
Hour 10: 52.9 miles -- Mile 100 to Exit 7, I-376 South

Total Driving Time: 10 hours, 21 minutes
Time To "Cross" Pennsylvania: 5 hours, 25 minutes
Average Speed (Approx.): 0.9488 miles/minute = 56.928 mph

   3) That includes all stops, plus significant traffic in at least three places -- rush hour in southern Connecticut, road construction at the place I can't name in Pa., and slight rush hour stuff going into Pittsburgh. I also stopped four times, with two for actual gas, a third at a Taco Bell (which indirectly provides gas) and a fourth at the end of the first hour when I thought I was going to need to take a nap. I came out of it, which probably helped the cause.

   4) Pennsylvania people at least seem nicer than the average northerner. That much more fuel on the "let's sell them to the South" fire.

   5) Upon arriving in Pittsburgh, dumping stuff at the hotel and getting cleaned up, I headed across the Allegheny. My pass was ready at the pickup point. I went upstairs to find an open-air press box with plenty of seats, along with all the media notes and stats I could want. The Internet worked. I ended up getting both a Jason Bay bobblehead -- the night's giveaway -- and a magnet schedule presumably because the game wasn't a sellout. I went downstairs, and opted for a sausage, fries and a Diet Coke.

   In short, I got treated better than I do at the average Red Sox game. This is no knock on Boston, as they do have a few more media types to deal with regularly, but merely an observation. And the chairs and countertops were nicer, with more TVs to see replays.

   I'm done. And I really am at least half kidding around ... the Sox are great to me.

   6) The actual tournament started Saturday morning rather early -- we met in the lobby at 7:30 a.m. -- which meant I got to sleep about five hours one night after not sleeping at all since I opted to wake up early to finish off my column. So, to recap, I don't sleep and I don't eat. I'm pretty sure I'm going to live until I'm 215.

   7) I will not go into the details of the tournament, because it's not something that can be conveyed all that interestingly. There were 36 teams in attendance, and mine ultimately finished around 27th one year after finishing 6th. Since I was on the team both years, clearly nothing is my fault.

   8) Individually, I have likely never gotten both more tossups right and more tossups wrong than I did this year ... this could mean any number of different things, but since a good number of the questions I got wrong were stupid mistakes that Chris will mention soon enough, I won't get into those.

   For those who don't know what stupid things I know, I decided this year to write down the things I got right, so you can all accurately see how odd I am. I didn't remember to jot donw all 35, but this is most of them:

   9) Bear in mind there would be more, but many I got outbuzzed by opponents, outbuzzed by teammates or did something stupid earlier in a question I ultimately would have known. I'll also attempt to put in context clues about what in each question helped me figure out what the answer was.

Tiger Beat Magazine
(at end, "teenybopper mag")
Adam Vinatieri
("South Dakota State")
Montell Jordan
("This Is How We Do It")
Craig's List
(shooting listings into deep space, began as listserv)
A Current Affair
(news show in both U.S., Australia, Rob Lowe tape)
Corn Palace
(building with now concrete makeup, despite name)
Music City Miracle teams
(ID from radio call, heard "Christie" and short kick)
(world champion names, plus "21 object balls")
Jake and The Fatman
(cop show, not in syndication despite 100 epidoses)
Chivas USA
(coached by Thomas Rongen, plus gen. soccer stuff)
Bob Goodenow
(blah, blah, talk about head of player's union)
Oral B
(toothbrushes famous for "fading bristles"
Cowboy Troy
(6'4" black country music star, other clues)
Brown Bunny
(controversial movie feat. Chloe Sevigny)
(mention of Don "The Matador" Everest)
(home of golfer Jennifer Rosales)
Press Your Luck
('spinoff' of show Second Chance)
(restaurant started in Calif., still family owned)
Blue Collar TV
(mention of skit featuring "Heavy Heat")
Casey Kahne
(various clues, then took over No. 9 car)
Bill Belichick
(father coached at Army, went to Wesleyan)
George Frankly
(male officer on Sqaure One TV's "Mathnet")
Shawn Gomez
(Alaskan hockey player in NHL)
Spud Webb
(career notes, then talk of Slam Dunk win)
Richard Simmons
(story of him slapping ultimate fighter in airport)
(background, then mention of "Blue Album"
Kodak Theatre
(when complex was built, events and "Babylon Court")
Carlos Beltran
(early career stuff, then mention of "Kansas City")
Paula Dean
(whole clue, ending with her Food Network show)
(beginning mention of their Pro Bowl fiasco)
Tecmo Bowl
(arcade/game history, mention of "Bo Jackson")
"Love at First Sight"
(sound clip of "DDR song," needed artist too)
Doug Christie
(top Google result for "basketball and whipped")

   10) Plus there were the bonuses, which were a whole lot of everything. Suffice to say, there wasn't a whole lot of video game stuff that got by me ... when you're the only person on your team under 25, and one of only two anywhere in the neighborhood of 25, you learn that you'll be leaned on for certain areas.

   11) I also rediscovered how little I know about movies. Apparently, there are people out there who think directors are easy things to know, whereas I know next to none.

   12) Anyway, I still go to this one event (and it's corresponding regional in the fall) mostly because I rarely get to see the people I team up with. For as good a time as was had during the event -- few teams enjoy losing as much as we do, I fear -- plenty was done outside. After play was over Saturday night, we went out for pizza and a trip to Cold Stone Creamery, which from now on I will constantly refer to as "The Vastly Overrated Cold Stone Creamery".

   13) Perhaps I wasn't in the best state to be eating ice cream after having downed a good half-dozen slices of very good pizza from some hole in the wall, but I'm thinking for $5, I should be getting blown away. The concept of what I ate -- strawberry ice cream with pieces of strawberry, banana, white chocolate chips and graham cracker crumbs -- remains very appetizing, but it doesn't change the fact I threw half of my "Love It" bowl away.

   14) The bowl sizes, by the way, are reeeeeeeal deceiving. I thought I'd get a small until seeing the small bowl, which seemed like a joke. Yeah, they're deeper than they looked. If you get the large, odds are pretty good you are large.

   15) After that, we returned to the hotel so I could play poker with college bowl people who can probably calculate pot odds in their head. So obviously, I lost a first no-limit event to a person who had little idea what he was doing and win a second no-limit event against the people who'd organized the poker games in the first place.

   Night's net profits of $45, minus the $10 buy-in I gave back to the guy who stuck around late to shuffle for the last two of us in the final event.

   16) Some of you know Harrison, who's now a senior and the unofficial leader of the BU College Bowl team. Well, he has a loose grasp on the game of poker, and thus he and I were part of a six-person no-limit tourney while I was waiting for the other game to finish up. Logically, Harrison ran off to an absurd chip lead, eventually knocking out a short-stacked me in 4th when a Q8 hearts lost to a K7 hearts when no one got any help.

   We started with so few chips, and I really didn't play particularly well. Harrison ultimately went out in third, because you can't keep calling everyone's bets without eventually losing everything.

   17) Leads me to the other game, where we started with more chips, an organized and timed blind structure and people who clearly all play poker with some regularity. Seven players, of which I may have dwindled to the short stack of early by quickly rose back.

   18) As normal, the details escape me, but I caught a couple draws to not simply stick around, but take the chip lead to the final two. They were reasonable draws -- needing one for a flush, higher cards heads-up -- and also featured me evading elimination when the guy who'd eventually be second had four hearts off the flop, but didn't catch another. I eventually beat him hitting another flush on the river on a hand, had I lost, that would have all but wiped me out.

   It was almost 2 a.m. ... I was more thinking "just play free" the whole night, knowing a loss would mean I could sleep. Logically, I got maybe six hours.

   19) That was about it ... we cut out before the finals Sunday so we could get one guy to the airport, and the rest of us just went along so we could all be on our way. Sunday and Monday were both such beautiful days, it's a crime I spent them in a car and at work, even if work is at Fenway Park. Though it's not like the drive back was a total loss, as I noted two things that are at least amusing.

"Coal gives electricity and jobs."
-- Billboard in western Pennsylvania. Among the uniformed people standing above, presumably showing the jobs coal gives? A doctor, who no doubt stays in business treating people for black lung disease.

   Also, while in New Jersey, what should come on "Livin' on a Prayer" by Bon Jovi. I definitely enjoyed it more than I would have in a neutral state.

   And now, I sleep. If only because I'm falling apart at the seams.

April 14, 2005 - I Brought My Own Mic
   More Fun With Credentials: I'm not sure if I ever did it publicly, but every trip I made to Yankee Stadium, I'd chuckle about the "Mark Sabia's Sportszone" mic I'd see after games and wonder if it was just some guy doing a show from his basement or rent-controlled apartment.

   Well, turns out I wasn't far off.

Mark Sabia, yellow-flagged microphone in tow, has been a regular in press boxes at Yankee Stadium, Shea and Madison Square Garden for years. He pushed his way to the front in post-game interviews, button-holed players for one-on-ones, and complained when he felt he wasn't being treated fairly. In other words, he was indistinguishable from the rest of the small-market television sports reporters in New York's locker rooms.

Except the outlet Sabia represents -- Westchester Cable Services -- doesn't exist, according to the Queens County District Attorney. Sabia, who lives in Ossining, was arrested Monday when he showed up to cover Opening Day at Shea and was charged with scamming season passes for almost all of New York's professional teams, as well as for several World Series and League Championship Series dating to 1998. He was charged with five felony counts of falsifying business records and 16 misdemeanor counts ranging from petit larceny to criminal impersonation.

[MLB spokesman Patrick] Courtney said Major League Baseball did not plan to make any changes to its credentialing process, but underscored the importance of diligence when issuing credentials. Delcos and others expressed disapproval of Sabia's alleged fraud and suggested maybe it should be harder to get a press pass.

   So yeah, my shock about the Pirates being the first team ever to call me personally and check up, as I heartily suggest they do upon my request? Maybe now, the obvious may actually come into vogue.

   For Those About To (Not) Rock: Don't want to be my boss at the S-T? Do my old job instead!

Copy Editor/Designer needed.
The Standard-Times, a 34,500 daily, 37,200 Sunday circulation paper in Southeastern Massachusetts is looking for additions to its news copy desk. Qualified candidates should have prior copy editing and design experience. Knowledge of Quark, InDesign, Photoshop are a plus while strong grammatical and writing skills are mandatory.

   And I'm being literal ... the girl who went to the news desk when I got sent to sports is leaving the paper to go back to school. You really could be me, circa 2001.

   However, literally following my path but actually including the part where I didn't get traded, quit and moved back home unemployed is in no way recommended. Nor is the schedule I will unveil in mere moments.

The New Blood Was Surging Through Sox
-- Apparently this ended up on the front page too, which is odd, since I glossed over the "Sheffield Goes Nutty" portion they'd find interesting. See, I consider my job to be writing about b-a-s-e-b-a-l-l.

   • Technically as I write this, I am on vacation -- when I left Fenway at roughly 11:45 p.m., I entered three days of worklessness.

   Here is a rough sketch of how I will spend them.

   1 a.m. -- Arrive in Whale City from Boston.

   1-2 a.m. -- Do dishes, write update, generally get prepared to go to Pittsburgh by car, by choice, again.

   2-3 a.m. -- Finalize resume and cover letter for ill-fated attempt to become S-T Sports Editor. Confidence, remember, is key.

   3 a.m. -- Depart Whale City with Pittsburgh by 5 p.m. the goal.

   4:30 a.m. -- Give or take some, this should be the time I hit Connecticut, and have to decide whether because I'm on vacation entitles to stop at Foxwoods and play poker for several hours.

   4:45 a.m. -- I arrive at Foxwoods after deciding I'm only going to see if there's people around and to get a sandwich, since I won't have eaten in like seven hours.

   6:30 a.m. -- "Finish sandwich."

   Sometime -- Stop to either take a nap, get gas or both.

   Some Other Time -- Arrive in Pittsburgh, go right to hotel and hopefully get into room. I will debate skipping the game to sleep, but ultimately decide if I don't write "Inside Baseball," the world will end.

   A Third Indeterminate Time -- Walk across whichever river it is and go to PNC. Much baseball will ensue, and I will undoubtedly type the names of both this man and this guy whose former jersey I own.

   10:30 p.m. -- Meeting up with my friends/roommates/teammates, I will again want to sleep but will ultimately go out drinking.

   11:30 p.m. -- I'll either actually go to bed or fall into a river and freeze to death. Either way, there'll be rest.

   As always, take care of yourself, and each other.

   And me, especially since between the 2 p.m. tourney end on Sunday and the 11:05 a.m. Sox-Jays start on Monday, there's only 21 hours.

   Even I can do that math out.

April 13, 2005 - Chair By The Trash Can
   I Am Not Complaining, But ...: This afternoon, right before I left for an afternoon of assignments, I got a call from the Pittsburgh Pirates. I'd sent in a request for Friday's Pirates-Cubs game at the end of last week, and the Media Services Manager wanted to confirm it, see what I was going to need and let me know where to go to pick up my pass.

   No other team I've dealt with has ever done this before. Not Baltimore, Boston or New York. In fact, when I got to Fenway tonight, I had to wait roughly 30 minutes at the window because my pass wasn't there.

   Again, not whining because I know better, but when you work for a paper the size of which means you could be denied credentials at any moment, I always assumed this kind of stuff would become second nature. Right up there with wireless Internet or Ethernet hookups and something else obvious that would be a good fit for right here.

   It's not free food though. Given I've not only seen sportswriters eat, I'm a bit of a black hole myself, I wouldn't be opening the floodgates free of charge either.

Sox Squandered A Decent Outing
-- On the ride home, I stopped to think about just how quickly I have to churn out a story after a night game. For example, this one ended at 10:18 p.m., and I filed at 11:30 after about a half hour downstairs. Fortunately, the initial ideas about the new ace getting a very Pedro-like offensive performance held up.

   • My rapidly changing endnote on columns is getting out of control. After it never changing for almost three years, I finally have it down to two versions.

Jon Couture covers the Red Sox for The Standard-Times. His weekly look "Inside Baseball" runs Sundays, and he can be reached at jcouture@s-t.com


Jon Couture is a columnist for The Standard-Times. His weekly look "Inside Baseball" runs Sundays, and he can be reached at jcouture@s-t.com

   I only mention this because people keep e-mailing me to discuss it ... better to just get it out of the way now.

   Also, the Red Sox have decorated all of the press areas and I would assume most of their office space with sports pages from the day after they won the World Series. Ours, not surprisingly, is nowhere to be found, though I suspect we might not even have been asked rather than our being asked and having it forgotten.

   It's partly because of reasons like this I'll be cobbling together a cover letter and resume tomorrow morning so I can get them in under the internally posted gun. Yeah, I know I said I wouldn't, but minds change.

   I will be citing my experience running BUCB. Way I figure it, it's not like I have anything to lose.

   Plus, there's something nice about knowing the interviewer gets exactly where I'm coming from. He best be aware of what I'm good at, otherwise I'm curious why he's given me everything he already has.

   Who's to say the paper doesn't want someone who appreciates the finer points of both a monkey knife fight and Pope-related Internet scams.

The use of the pope's death as a hook to defraud consumers is part of a trend linking spam to news of national or international interest, prompting people to open e-mail they ordinarily might delete. Experts say there was a flurry of spam offers of bogus goods and services tied to last year's U.S. presidential election and pop star Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction" at the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show.

"It's incredible that these e-mails began on the day of the pope's funeral," Cluley said. "But the crowds on the streets of Rome suggested there was a market. There are a lot of people who might want to honor the pope's memory by buying books about him, especially if they were unable to make it to Rome."

   No, it's not incredible. It's the Internet ... it's incredible they didn't start before he was dead.

April 12, 2005 - Backlash
   Just A Thought: People who write for ESPN should never get to complain about media creations, mainly because most of them are their fault.

   I could go all quotable on about two dozen of these wonderully witty, often uniformed "86 Things To Hate About The Red Sox," but there's really only one that needs mention.

10. Ted Williams. The best hitter of his day. But a bad apple.
In other words, an old-school Barry Bonds.

   Last I surmised, Barry Bonds would not be giving up years in the prime of his career if world war broke out. Absolutely, positively end of discussion.

   What's lost on Captain Jackass and all his friends is that no true Red Sox fan cares if they're the national story. You're sick of us? Good, because we're sick of you too. I'd like an actual seat in the press box where I can easily see home plate in the future, as well as the opportunity to actually talk to players in the clubhouse rather than have to watch Tom "Senor Hairplug" Arnold goofing around with Kevin Millar and trying on his championship ring while there's 50 other press members around me on all sides.

   Funny ... why didn't you write about the Devil Rays, the Brewers, the Blue Jays, the White Sox or your beloved Mariners instead of another column about the Red Sox? Last I checked, you work for ESPN ... the sort of job where you have some power to change what the story is.

   But hey, I guess you wanted people to read your story, so it seemed easier to do the mindless thing and create a big stupid list that would piss people off. Whatever creates page reads, right? It's not like your headshot is that big anyway.

   • Wow. That felt really good. Especially now that I'm realizing every thought that I had about what would happen after the Red Sox finally won the World Series is coming true, right down to the nationwide backlash.

   Hey, it's not my fault ... I was here first. They're paying me to write this stuff. What's your excuse?

   Written hypothetically of course, since no national media member who works as hard as the good ones do is ever ending up here. Except maybe for Casey Stern, but that story's old and I've yet to find the reason to walk up to him and introduce myself as "the guy who wrote the story about the microphone wire that your girlfriend found on Google."

   By the way, there's a Dunkin Donuts commercial coming up sometime soon that will feature both Theo Epstein and Johnny Damon hocking Iced Lattes. They actually sent us a press release about it, so I'm telling you ... there is no way it will not be awful.

April 11, 2005 - Game Off

New Champs ... Vintage Performance
-- Even if I didn't know it was for the front page, that's where it ended up. It's the early season for everyone, and I really feel like I have to work back into midseason form ... though that will be a lot easier when there's not 147 media members in a space fit for far fewer.

   • Was it everything I dreamed it would be? Absolutely not, though that's hardly the fault of the Red Sox.

   I didn't dream I'd be back in Feeding Hills tonight, with my rear-view mirror taped in place and yellow paint all over my rear drivers-side door.

   But we'll get to that soon enough. Today went so well, the game was wholly secondary ... New York never had a chance. The ceremony put on by the team was top notch ... to find something to complain about would be a major stretch, especially considering as I sit here trying to, I've got nothing.

   And the ovation that Mariano Rivera received before the game from Red Sox fans is by far the hardest I've ever laughed at Fenway, and easily among my top five sports memories ever. Even the way he handled it, tipping his cap ... when A-Rod did it later after he finally fielded a grounder properly, it just wasn't the same.

   Nor is my car, though in the end, that's more my fault than anyone else's.

   It wasn't even so much that I got a late start leaving Whale City, as it took me the normal hour to get from there to Boston. I just expected more than an hour after I'd gotten off I-93, I'd be in the clubhouse working to get notebook material, not still in my car after having slowly cycling through the Fenway vicinity, noticing every legal and illegal parking space full. Given I was now getting concerned I wouldn't make it back to the field in time for the 2 p.m. ceremony start. Imagine my joy when even the lot at Copley, a good 10-minute walk away at my speed, was full too.

   I ended up on the far side of Northeastern, about 15-20 minutes away, basically on the edge of that part of the city where I had any semblance of bearing. Clearly frazzled and figuring it very likely this is the only parking space I'm finding, I attempt to force my way into a space I figure there's only about a 50 percent chance I can fit in.

   At the end of a garage and buffered tightly by a support post, there was also a three-foot high mound in front of the space that I was probably wrongly convinced I couldn't drive over.

   A big thank you should also go to the parking lot attendant. Upon my expressing concern I could not fit in said space, he deemed it best with his limited English skills to repeatedly point at the space and say "Go," as though I was confused and would try to park in one of the other filled spaces.

   I'm fortunate in that all the damage is purely cosmetic, and I'm pretty convinced I can either get the yellow off or blend it into some McDonald's ad I could put on the door for a small fee. The mirror didn't break, and if I could have found black duct tape, there's a good chance no one would even notice it hanging by metal wires at first glance.

   So yeah ... be sure to tell your friends that $10 lot behind Bob the Chef's is the best place to dump a car for a game at Fenway. Not only is it cheap, but they'll help you fold up your car for no additional fee.

April 10, 2005 - Eve
   Lost In The Shuffle: While at Foxwoods, I received the following fortune after the overpriced meal of General Tso's that fueled my absurd day of winning:

"You are never bitter, deceptive or petty."
-- Profound, if only because it couldn't be more wrong.

   Given the nature of fortune cookies, the fact it took this long for me to receive one so wrong is probably more surprising than anything else.

   Bowling: I almost attended this event, which was apparently the highest paid attendance of any PBA event this season. What that means, I have no idea.

   There's just something about seeing someone complain so openly about coughing/moving in the backswing, as Randy Pedersen did after he lost, when I bowl almost every week with Hilary Duff in the background and disco lights everywhere else.

   Quote of the Week: Congrats to Harvey Fierstein for this gem regarding Spamalot, the musical I would go see if I was cool enough:

"If I were of frat boy age and I had $100, would I opt for a Broadway ticket or would I want to spend that on booze and drugs?" Mr. Fierstein asked. "Even I, and I am as gay as a pink leather piñata, would choose booze and drugs."

   I would choose neither, opting to play poker or really blow the money by paying off my college loans with it, but I understand his point.

   • Well, he won again.

   This one was OK though, because he actually allowed it to be interesting. I have a feeling my general dislike for Tiger Woods over the years stemmed from how he'd make any tournament he won entirely uninteresting. The fact things went to a playoff, and that he almost lost at least a couple times, makes it a little better.

   Still, he played the inferior round and should have been beaten. Course, Chris DiMarco shouldn't have surrendered seven shots as they finished the third round on Sunday morning, but I'm sure he didn't mean it.

   As for Tiger's miracle shot on 16, even I have to admit that's one of the more incredible things I've ever seen. Though I bet everyone else watching it wasn't screaming "NOOOOO!" in their minds as they watched it roll in the cup.

   Given I had nothing to do, this was today's activity. Watching golf for the better part of five hours, which always leads to wanting to play golf for the better part of five hours.

   Won't even have time for the range on Monday though ... my stupid job gets in the way again.

Left-Field Banner

"i paid $840 for 2 decent bleacher seats and somehow feel like i got a deal."
-- Poster here.

   Honestly, I can't even be sarcastic about this. If you've never gotten the chance to see me be giddy, try and hunt me down today. I might actually smile for once.

April 9, 2005 - Half-Ass Music News
   Red Sox: So yeah, I though David Wells would be turning it around today.

6.1 IP, 9 H, 6 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 3 HR
-- That is not 'turning it around.'

   Yeah, and Blaine Neal isn't exactly showing off either. Giving up a grand slam to Gregg Zaun -- he of the 40 career homers in 1,800+ at-bats -- isn't exactly how to endear yourself to a new team.

   At least Toronto had more than 50,000 in the SkyDome Rogers Centre for one day.

Sox Owning Rivera? Wishful Thinking.
-- This week's Inside Baseball is all about closers sucking. Though the headline isn't wrong, it's not exactly right either. That said, I'm not sure how I would have topped it, though "Rivera Domination More Than Merely Head Games" works.

Red Sox Nation Is Ready To Savor The Moment
-- For the front page, this is the last story I have to write that prominently talks about last year and events well past happening. You probably don't understand how happy I am about that.

   • So tonight, I went and saw Sonic Youth. At some point, there will be something far more informed written about said show here, but until then, this will have to do.

   Before tonight, my total exposure to Sonic Youth was their Simpsons appearance from nine years ago and something about the cover of their album "Washing Machine" that I'd seen when I used to watch MTV. Well, that's not entirely true ... after agreeing to go to this show site unheard, Nick made me a CD of some of their songs that ended up a majority of their playlist tonight at The Strand in Providence.

   After listening to the CD, my feeling was that I kept waiting for it to rock harder and it never did.

   That was not a problem tonight.

   To say a band was simply "loud" normally isn't a complete explanation, but it feels right about tonight -- three times during their set, SY did what they apparently do a lot of ... just try to create these 2-3 minute walls of nothing but feedback. If they get it going well, it's great. If they don't, it's the joke that just keeps going even though everyone is just kind of hoping it will stop. To me, they hit the first one, but not the last two.

   That, however, could be a function of me having had to stand in one place for the better part of two hours. I'm not old quite yet, but my knees and lower back do prefer to be moving.

   So, in short, the opener was good and I enjoyed myself. I viewed tonight almost like the Pirates-Cubs game I'll be seeing Friday at PNC ... no matter what the result, I was going home pleased. Plus, I discovered the only late-night eatery in Dartmouth is the same late-night eatery everyone in the Northeast has. Good food, mediocre service, great prices, and ice cream!

   And while we're talking shows, I'm beginning to realize how disappointed I am that I'll be in Pittsburgh for the Taking Back Sunday/Jimmy Eat World stop at the historic Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence. Also, while I'll gladly take free tickets to Oasis/Jet in June, I don't think there's enough money in the world for me to attend a "Good Charlotte/Simple Plan" double bill.

   They're so bad, I won't even link it for fear of their fans showing up here.

April 8, 2005 - And That Was Why I Almost Quit
   Do I Really Need To Say More Than ...: Royal Wedding Message Board?

"Our Comments"? Congratulations is what you say to two people who get married, other than that, "about time" is the only other thought that springs to mind. Any journalists reading: After this weekend I'd like to read about something else in my papers, thanks very much!
Ken, London, UK

   I didn't think so.

   • Just out of curiosity and for no particular reason ...

   If the entirety of LiveJournal exploded tomorrow, and the millions upon millions of words written there were lost, would the world really be any worse off?

   I mean, at least I reviewed pasta pots once. One person found it useful.

April 7, 2005 - Matty Wins The Rematch 3-and-2
   Fun With Banking: When you walk up to the teller window with a deposit, and that deposit consists of five one hundred dollar bills -- estimated value of $500 -- and three rolls of pennies -- estimated value of $1.50 -- it's understood the teller is going to look at you weird, right? After all, the only people who roll pennies are 12 and under, and usually don't have a stack of the largest currency in general circulation, right?

   Maybe I overthought this, but I expected more is all. Stupid professionalism.

   If nothing else, the merger of my mother's back and her possible downsizing will lead to me not having to drive 120 miles to do this in the future.

   • At one point today, and I know this because I heard it on the radio, David Duval was 2-under-par and led The Masters, I presume the only golf tournament in the world where those who'd like to try their luck at getting practice round tickets have to submit their Social Security number.

   Honest. This revelation was almost enough to make me consider hating the tournament. I never could, of course, but I did think about it.

   David Duval winning The Masters would be about the greatest individual sporting accomplishment you could possibly imagine. A 13-time PGA Tour winner and once the No. 1 player in the world -- even if it was only for a week -- he had the classic Ian Baker-Finch/Mark Wohlers/Rick Ankiel great athlete meltdown and now struggles to break 80. If I was cheering for Ankiel to pitch in the majors again, I'm screaming to the point of throat pain for Duval to become a contender again.

   Course, he was at 2-under for one hole, shot 39 on the back nine and ended up with a 75. That will in all likelihood balloon to an 80-something Friday, he'll miss the cut and we'll all forget anything happened.

   However, if I was covering The Masters, you know what I'd be writing for a column at week's end. Well, you should anyway.

   Course to do that, they probably need a blood sample, if I'd even get that far.

April 6, 2005 - That Went Well

Why I'm not about to bail on Boston University

In light of Chris Bourque's decision to leave Boston University, I have thought a lot about my own life at BU, trying to understand why someone would leave this place after less than a year. Boston University has been one of the best experiences of my life. The people I have met here are nothing short of amazing.

You may not consider people like this special, but I certainly do. I come from a place one does not stay if he or she can help it. In Springfield, Mass., getting out of the city is considered one's greatest accomplishment. In my hometown, surviving is more important than flourishing and success is as rare as government funding. I have seen people be uglier to each other and have such little respect for themselves and their surroundings it made me sick. The pride here in Boston has always struck a chord with me ... people want to be here. People consider themselves lucky to be here. This is something I've never experienced at home.

-- Kaylan Marriotti, new favorite of the Visitor Info Center crowd

   How many days can I continue to harp on Chris Bourque? As many as possible, and with resources like that FreeP column, we could be going for a long, long time.

   The gratuitous shots at Western Mass., though ... good grief. Springfield's not the Moon, though it is the place my family booked it out of when I was three so I wouldn't have to go to Central when I grew up.

   If I grew up, and don't think for a second that wasn't a legitimate concern.

   And to think ... if this Google search yielded the right person, she went to Sci Tech, which is one of the better high schools they've got. I'd start naming names, but I'm smart enough not to take shots at Putnam and Mom went to Commerce, so it could be a touchy subject.

   Red Sox 7, Yankees 3: They're not in Mariano Rivera's head, so stop it. Everything is not some mental game ... the fact is they've played the Yankees 55 times since the start of the 2003 season, so they see him a little bit more than everybody else. That, plus the fact their lineup is just brutal, will lead to the man giving up four runs like normal human pitchers do.

   He's no longer lights-out Rivera. And nobody knows that better than the Sox.

   I actually did get to see most of this game in the Foxwoods poker room, and it probably helped me since I was more focused on it than the actual game at points.

   The lack of focus? I don't think it hurt any.

   • I sat down at the $4-$8 Texas Hold 'Em table with four stacks of 20 $2 chips ... $40 each. I walked away about three, three-and-a-half hours later with fourteen stacks of 20 $2 chips, plus a mishmash of ones and fives.

   So yeah, it was a good day. Outside of oversleeping a little and having to wait maybe 20 minutes for a seat to open up despite its being like 3 p.m.

   I left a casino with $575 more than I came in with. You don't really have any idea how great it feels to write that, especially when you have lost so many times and had to listen to $28 Haircut tell you, kindly but correctly, what an idiot you are on so many occasions.

   I was finally the guy walking across the poker room floor with the three racks of chips. Between that, the leather jacket and the fact that old people often have degraded vision, someone might even have gotten the impression I was cool. I wish I could have met them, so I could have showed them that place about 200 feet from the cage where I tripped over a cone placed in clear sight.

   In a related note, Greg "Fossilman" Raymer was in the room yesterday. This is a man whom people seek out for autographs, who in one week pretty much set himself up for life. The kind of guy who gets mentioned as "in the room" on some idle Wednesday.

   He's also the kind of guy who wears white ankle socks with brown Teva sandals. As I was discussing with soon-to-be former boss Jon, whose idea the trip was in the first place, he may be a very nice guy, but that doesn't change the fact that he is a tremendous dork.

   Someone make sure Sly gets that in the count. This could be another run.

   Unfortunately for those who enjoy such things, I'm not real heavy on the day's play details as I don't take notes and I was watching the Red Sox game for much of the session. Obviously when a person triples their buy-in and then some, a lot of things went right. Let's make no mistake ... it's a lot easier to play good poker when you're getting cards. And it wasn't the great starting hands -- maybe four pocket pairs in 3.5 hours, none better than JJ -- so much as it was hitting flops.

   I pretty much knew it was my day on this one: I believe the hand after the button had passed me, I turn over 55. With four people in before me, I call -- suppose I could have raised, but I was not going to scare anyone else out at this table for $4 more. Flop comes T7T rainbow, and I'm the last to act. Check, $4 bet, call, and I'm dead sure the checker will pay to see the turn because this is among the loosest tables I've ever played at. So I play, even though I know I'm beat right there by someone with a ten. Hell, for $4 and where I am, I'll take a look.

   And as I'm watching the TV, out of the corner of my eye, I see a five of diamonds put up on the board. I definitively feel my heart beating through my chest, but either no one was paying attention or I'm real good at keeping it calm on the outside.

   With the $8 rounds, I raise on the turn, then raise again on the one poor guy left on the river. In some small way, I'm sure he was pleased I didn't suck out a flush on him with the final diamond. Plus, I made sure to toss my 5s well within his sight, as he was at my end of the table.

   So went pretty much the entire day ... always the best hand over someone with the second-best hand. I think I lost exactly one hand at showdown all afternoon, with another chased-and-failed flush that I folded on the river. What started as a row of $40 stacks became a diamond, then a pentagon, then a modified Christmas tree, and was one stack away from being a boomerang when Jon and I decided I wouldn't make him sit there watching any longer -- he'd won a good amount playing $4-$8 when I was, but then went penniless doing other things as the day wore on.

   Jon plays a lot of poker at home. Can't say I blame him.

   Thus, this is the first time I've ever left a gaming table at my absolute peak of profits. I started down about a quarter of my chips, then had a nice little run of about four pots, lay fallow for an hour plus, then just destroyed everyone around me. There were even a couple cases where I bluffed people, and I never got caught ... amazingly enough, I've reached the point I can be one of the better players at a table.

   And thus, this will be the second straight winning poker month after making slightly less than this online in March. I'm to the point now where I know when to quit when I'm ahead.

   The gas station beef jerky and Diet Dr. Pepper taste that much sweeter that way on the ride home. And I was drinking DDP waaay before I found out it's Raymer fuel as well.

April 5, 2005 - The Night Workers' Blessing
   No, I'm Not Still Bitter: So come to find out Chris Bourque was having trouble with the "academic side" at Boston University. And to think, I specifically didn't crack out my "stop getting fired up about athletes leaving school early, since they're not legitimate students anyway" argument. Thank goodness I now get to use it.

   It'd definitely be a regular crack-out if I could ever find the ire -- or the rationale -- to be a sports radio caller. Instead, it just get to sit dormant, only to be mentioned in passing at times some soon-stud hockey player screws my alma mater out of a legitimate shot at a national championship.

   Thankfully, we don't have a lot of sports, so I don't have to fret often.

   Yankees 4, Red Sox 3: I'm not sure I can properly address how sure I was Carl Pavano was going to get battered like a bean bag at a Dave Matthews show. I actually feel like I should seek him out at my next earliest convenience and talk to him as cosmic penance.

   Bill, I'll need some Southington (Conn.) High trivia so I can engage him. What teachers did he sleep with while he was a student? Any dorks he paralyzed while shoving them into lockers? Where did all you rich kids go hang out to talk about chest waxes, livery services and whatever else were the pressing issues for young Connecticut aristocrats? Did he have a favorite girl to do blow off of?

   That was refreshing, and I wasn't even riled in the least.

   • So Wednesday, I'm going to Foxwoods.

   At 10 a.m.

   With an estimated departure at 5:30 p.m.

   With at least part of my trip being, well, comped.

   Soon I'll know what a whore feels like.

   Complete with the "blowing all the profits" effect.

   And by the by, Britney Spears and her husband just signed up for a reality show on UPN, which now goes by "The U," which is short for "Un-fucking-believeable that we're still solvent."

"I feel that last year the tabloids ran my life," Spears said Tuesday, in commenting on her new series, "and I am really excited about showing my fans what really happened rather than all the stories, which have been misconstrued by journalists in the past."

Said Dawn Ostroff, president of UPN: "Now, for the first time, their millions of fans will get to see and hear the couple's real story on UPN as told directly by them."

   And if that excites you enough to watch, I'm holding you personally responsible.

April 2-4, 2005 - It Could Have Been Worse
   I'd Much Rather Be In Moncton: Excuse me, are you Chris? Phone call.

   Rick DiPietro is on line two.

After just one year in scarlet and white, freshman hockey star Chris Bourque will leave Boston University to play for the Moncton Wildcats of the Quebec Major Junior League, sources confirmed over the weekend.

As a second-round selection of the Washington Capitals in last year's NHL Draft, it is likely that Bourque will eventually end up either in the nation's capital or in Portland, Maine as a member of the Portland Pirates, the Capitals' American Hockey League affiliate.

   I know I'd want to rush so I could be ready to play for the worst organization in a league seemingly overflowing with worst organizations. Plus Boston is such a terrible place to spend four years, especially when you're father is Ray Bourque.

   Eh, never trust a Canadian. There. I said it.

   Enjoy Moncton, Chris. I needed an excuse not to buy BU season tickets next year, and it's good to not have to worry about having to back up my "BU will win the 2006-07 national championship" prediction.

   Here's hoping Sidney Crosby doesn't make you swallow your own tongue.

   Pope John Paul II: Because I know the comment worth hearing on the Pontiff's death is from the guy who doesn't go to church, but as Johnny Damon so aptly put it in New York, the man was "awesome."

   Why someone felt the need to ask Johnny Damon about the Pope, I may never understand.

   • I'll be honest ... I'm a little sick of writing.

Saturday, April 2

Farm Fresh: Sox Are Building A System
-- Originally written for the preview, it ran the day before. Just a slightly more than cursory overview of the growing Red Sox farm system ... I never did make the fact box I wanted to put with it.

Sunday, April 3

It's A Brand New Ballgame In The Bronx
-- The Pope's death pushed this "live from New York" off the front page and inside the sports section. Imagine my joy on finding this out after trudging around a saturated Manhattan all day to do it ... though I'd have to say I agree with the editorial decision.

25 Men, One Dream: Meet Your 2005 Boston Red Sox
-- In my mind, the core of the baseball preview -- capsules of every player on the active roster. Twenty-eight guys, all of which I can now name cold ... even Ramon Vasquez. Really, not something I should be bragging about, since it should be common knowledge by this point I've written so much.

AL East Is A Two-Man Race ... Again
-- An extended preview of the AL East, in the vein of those I've been doing in Inside Baseball. I think this is the first year in at least five I'm picking the Yankees to win the division, even if the writing of this actually had me questioning the decision.

Everyone's Happy ... But Will There Be Joy In October?
-- The visual lead in the print edition. This was the last thing I wrote before going to New York, and it kept me up late because I spent most of Friday watching "Seinfeld" reruns to clear the TiVo out. Yeah, some of these have nothing to do with the actual stories.

Keeping Tabs On Sox Of Memories Past
-- This week's Inside Baseball in the midst of so much other baseball, previewing the AL West and giving you all the Dave Roberts news you could ever want. This week's state that time forgot? I forgot it.

Monday, April 4

A Red Sox-Yankees Rivalry Redux
-- The front page story for the opener. Written pregame, the goal was to make you think it wasn't. Please don't tell anyone, as these sorts of insider secrets are better served for an NBC special exposing us all as frauds.

Yanks' First-Day Domination Not New
-- The opener notebook for sports, with some pregame items, some in-game items and a general mix of things you might find interesting. I'm going to enjoy doing these this year, I think ... never had to before.

Tuesday, April 5

One Bad Night For Sox
-- A follow-up for my regular weekly column, with quotes and general clubhouse insanity. Now let's never speak of the opener again, because I'm pretty sure after all that, you're getting repeat material.

   Hopefully, you understand.

   1) What a true gem. Had I been home and only a fan for this one, I'd have turned it off in the seventh inning, if I even made it that far. For that to happen in a season opener, in the first real game in months, is very hard to do.

   2) But let's back it up. On the train ride into the city, there was a combined group of two mothers with two children each on the Metro North. They were very clearly headed here, given the catalogs, the sweatshirts and the fact all four girls had American Girl dolls of ... themselves.

   3) Would you play with a doll of yourself if you were a kid? I'm creeped out enough about the idea of a personalized bobblehead, never a doll of me with moving, blinking eyes and clothes I can buy to match my own clothes. I'm sure they're all lovely children, but I'm also sure this scarred me in some small way.

   4) Which is better than physically being scarred by New York, something that's amazingly never happened.

   5) There's been some mocking of my accomodations in prior comments, so allow me to claridy that I booked myself at the Milford Hotel on 44th and 8th. It met the requirements it had set for me:

   -- It was near Times Square, where I know the area.

   -- It was cheap, so I could not blow the hypothetical season goodwill budget on Game 1.

   6) Yeah, I won't be going back. It wasn't so much the condition of the place, or the fact the shower always dripped, or that the room wasn't much bigger than the double bed, or that I had to reassemble the high speed Internet box and figure out the plug it was in was dead to make it work. It wasn't even that being put next to the maid's closet meant I heard a lot of loud, early morning conversations in Spanish.

   7) It was that the far wall from the bed was almost entirely mirror, meaning every time I sat on the bed with my laptop and looked away from the screen, I was staring at myself. Had there not been the doll incident on the train, it would have been far more creepy.

   8) So upon arriving and getting settled, with a small delay thanks to it being Tartan Week in Grand Central, I set out to write the first story on Sox bars. A reprise of the '03 Sox-A's barhopping story it wasn't, especially since I missed the one of the bars that was probably the Sox haven I was looking for.

   My editors were happy.

   9) Also, a big thanks to the driver of that downtown No. 1 train who decided to skip over the stop one block from Riviera Cafe after having waited some absurd amount of time for a train, meaning a walk of at least 7-8 blocks ... in a downpour ... with the wind constantly inverting the umbrella.

   My jeans were still soaked the next day.

   10) We're also at the point in the wisdom tooth healing process, by the way, where every meal I have leads food to get stuck in my crater. It's the tooth that was causing the least trouble -- the bottom left -- which thus meant the most digging to get it out. It's just this giant hole, though it's just not giant enough for me to be able to get anything easily out of there.

   I'm pretty sure at different points this weekend, I rinsed with ice water, beer and orange juice. Surely good for my general gum health, but better than me trying to jab myself in the jaw with a fork.

   11) Saturday night in New York City, I watched Pope retrospectives and went to bed. That's the official statement on what happened, and for the most part, that's the truth. A small part of me believed it a waste, but the other parts were the ones that had only slept from 4-6:30 a.m. that day because I'd been writing another Sox preview story instead of sleeping.

   12) Sunday morning saw another trip to GCT for a dropoff -- I couldn't go to all those bars alone, silly -- after which I saw Mike Timlin and his wife walking through Times Square. Two years after almost bumping into Theo Epstein by the Loew's movie theaters, how this keeps happening I'm not really sure, given the millions of people and timing and everything else. All I wanted to do was go to Virgin Megastore and see if they had any interesting sales.

   13) It was a real short trip.

   14) The billboard setup in Times Square that used to have my name in gigantic letters is now a big ad for Lucky Brand Jeans, complete with hippie guys and gigantic ass shots across the street from MTV, which itself has a drawing collection in their windows of ugly maladjusts saying "Yo."

   15) They're cooler than you, though. Because they know what's best.

   16) The best part about the actual baseball game is how nice it was to go to Yankee Stadium and know no outcome was going to cause me great strain. Not on the professional side, but on the fan side ... it's the first non-playoff trip I've made there. Very relaxing, expecially relatively speaking.

   17) Course, given I spent almost the entire game in the basement press work room, where I was bouncing from spot to spot so I could both see a working TV and find a usable phone line, you probably saw more of it than I did.

   18) To say nothing of pregame, when I spent most of the time I'd usually just be walking around outside for a mood piece bouncing from clubhouse to field to interview room getting things together for that massive notebook. There's definitely going to be a learning curve to getting all this done on a regular basis.

   19) Though I'm already starting to feel a little more like I belong, complete with having stories I'm not printing here ... at least today.

   20) Perhaps soon, I'll regale with the short tale of David Ortiz and the pink and purple shirts. It's far more entertaining if you saw it yourself, but hey, that's life.

   And I guarantee I'm the only writer who, upon returning to his hotel after the game, ordered and watched Wrestlemania 21. Yeah, it sucked ... a blessing in not much disguise, I assure you.

April 1, 2005 - Our Brackets, Ourselves
   The Bracket Is You: Obviously as a society, we're now reaching.

Some of us make up rules. We confidently go with the coaches who have the best records or teams that have the best guards, based on our conviction that these qualities are essential to success. But these comforting rules are merely desperate efforts to ward off the randomness of life, or at least the randomness of the N.C.A.A. pool. Duke, for example, has both an acclaimed coach and great guards, yet it did not reach the Final Four. And adding more or better rules will only make our choices more complicated.

Finally, there are the explanations we offer after the fact. In the Final Four, the teams are usually evenly matched. Many of the games seem to be decided by a team's success rate in shooting free throws or making three-point shots. Such explanations may be logical, but most fans prefer to believe in mystical concepts about teams that came together at the right time, coaches who found the winning lineup, players who believed in themselves.

   I could go on for at least several bullet points, but isn't it pretentious enough when the New York Times has to tell the N.C.A.A. the way it abbreviates itself is so profoundly incorrect?

   Craterface Update: Does is count as being recognized if apparently I told the oral surgeon who and where I was while drugged, leading him to say during our short appointment today, "You're the one who works at The Standard-Times, right?"

   Apparently, I'm also writing a book in my drugged-out subconscious. This will make Mom happy, and I'd imagine it'll probably be a pretty good read. Lord knows everyone else who so much as looked at a Red Sox hat on a store shelf last year is writing something ... I may as well.

"Yeah, Motherf*ck*r!"
Rolling With The Idiot Savants of the 2004 World Champion Boston Red Sox

   OK. Now ... ghostwrite!

   • Johnnie Cochran.

   Mitch Hedberg.

   Terry Schiavo.

   Frank Perdue.

   The Pope, who has "no hope" and may not make me leaving for New York.

   These things have been known to happen in threes multiples of three.

   See you all Monday. You have no idea how refreshing it will be to go to Yankee Stadium for a baseball game without my fan heart beating through my chest for three and a half hours.

   And Gotham friends, perhaps we'll party. Or perhaps I'll simply huddle above Times Square and just chainsmoke. Heck knows that's what I've done every other time I go to the neon capital of the Eastern Seaboard.

2005: [03] - [02] - [01]
2004: [12] - [11] - [10] - [09] - [08] - [07] - [06] - [05] - [04] - [03] - [02] - [01]
2003: [12] - [11] - [10] - [09] - [08] - [07] - [06] - [05] - [04] - [03] - [02] - [01]
2002: [12] - [11] - [10] - [09] - [08] - [07] - [06] - [05] - [04] - [03] - [02] - [01]
2001: [12] - [11] - [10] - [09] - [08] - [07] - [06] - [05]