As a result of a partnership among West Virginia's Department of Education, its Public Employees Insurance Agency and West Virginia University, the state has committed to installing the game in all 765 of its public schools by next year. Almost all of its 185 middle schools already use it.
The mastermind behind the project is Linda M. Carson, Ware distinguished professor at West Virginia University's School of Physical Education and director of the state's Motor Development Center.
"I was in a mall walking by the arcade and I saw these kids playing D.D.R., and I was just stunned," she said. "There were all these kids dancing and sweating and actually standing in line and paying money to be physically active. And they were drinking water, not soda. It was a physical educator's dream."
Oh. So that's what gym teachers dream about. Here I thought it involved bombardment.
Let's call this Today's Moment Some People Hope No One Notices. A follow-up story, sent out as a Breaking News alert by my offspring at the Daily Free Press.
College of General Studies freshman Sara Vasquez returned to her Warren Towers residence this morning after she was missing for nearly 30 hours, unharmed, according to her friends. "[Vasquez is] completely safe. Everything was completely fine," said CGS freshman Rissa Freedman. Vasquez returned to Warren at approximately 7:30 a.m., Freedman said, and was wearing the same outfit she had last been seen in Saturday evening.
Girl goes out to club with friends, girl disappears, everyone panics about where she is, girl shows back up in the same clothes she'd last been seen in.
At a college campus? No way! I can't imagine what happ ... oh.
Vasquez said she left the club by herself and was not coerced or held against her will.
"I wanted to leave," she said. "My feet were killing me. I was like, all right, it's time to go."
Vasquez said she spent the night with a friend, and because her cell phone battery had died, she was unable to contact anyone. She would not comment about where she stayed or why she did not use her friend's phone to contact anyone.
College of Arts and Sciences freshman Brian Koehler said Sunday that at exactly 3 a.m. that morning, he received what he thought was a suspicious text from Vasquez's phone. The text was unsolicited and read, "I'm home and fine." Her friends tried to contact her after the text message was sent but could not reach her.
Though Koehler said he was originally suspicious of the message because he said Vasquez was not in the state of mind to type with perfect spelling and grammar, Vasquez said her Sidekick cell phone automatically punctuates text messages.
Couldn't contact anyone because her cell phone stopped working. Easy as it would be to break into the old man voice and talk about the old rotary phone days, or even when cordless phones looked like the versions men were using in the jungles of Vietnam, she didn't know (or care) anyone was looking for her.
What I find more impressive is that the T-Mobile Sidekick automatically punctuates text messages. No wonder it's the choice of every Hollywood party girl who spends half her day drunk and unable to clearly communicate with society.
"I feel bad," she said. "Because of my irresponsible behavior, a lot of people were in a panic. Because I couldn't call people, because of my actions, people had to worry, and I feel horrible."
Earlier comment rescinded. PEOPLE WERE ABLE TO COMMUNICATE PRIOR TO 1995. Why, back in my day ...
April 27-29, 2007 - Endless No Technical Glitches: Yeah, I went home for two days and didn't really feel like writing anything.
I'm reasonably certain nothing of interest actually happened over those two days, but it's not like that had stopped me during the previous six years.
So after I realized that yes, the Patriots really did acquire Randy Moss for a fourth-round pick, I continued thinking about Red Sox blogs.
The trade flashed across the TV screen literally within a minute of my turning the television to the draft. I just wanted to see where they were, and given how closely I'd been paying attention to the Pats of late ... I was more concerned I'd been missing this for a good period of time.
By the way, anyone who tries to spin this as anything but an outstanding move -- this is the NFL, where guys can be cut at a moment's notice with few repercussions -- is at best an idiot and at worst a racist. Period. This does not warrant further discussion.
Fourth. Round. Pick. And it's probably going to work out great.
As some of you know, I have a Red Sox blog. I would like nothing more than for it to become a wild success, even if it comes at the expense of whatever this is now. I don't expect that to happen for a number of reasons, but prominent among them is that my paper doesn't really seem to know just what the hell to do with the blogs. Thus their links at the very bottom of our Sports page.
Also bear in mind that there's no link to the Patriots blog, which both in comments and posts was the most active of all of them in the old system. I've tried to bring this to people's attention, but in rebuilding the Web site, I'm getting the impression the blogs are 17 miles down the to-do list.
Fine and understandable. Just not real useful when I have 14 things to do before a Red Sox game starts, and life can be made easier by chopping off "blog on site no one will read except people I know."
I do take some solace, however, in that so few people in the profession have any idea what constitutes a good blog. Take what I presume is the standard bearer, The Boston Globe's Extra Bases. During the offseason, you read this every day. Period. It's where news gets broken.
During the season? It's flooded with posts like the ones you can see littering it now: This just happened in the game. This just happened. This happened. They're not all like that, but so much of it is a waste of resources given anyone who cares that much is either watching the game, listening to the game or has a gamecast up to virtually watch the game.
Nowhere does the blog fit into this equation.
There are those that get it, like Rob Bradford -- Editor's Note: Bradford was among those with which I was drinking while my window was being smashed. Or maybe it had already been smashed. I don't know.
But for every Bradford and Mike Reiss, there's 14 others who are trying to be what you don't actually want to be. On top of them, there are blogs like one of my new favorites, Joe Posnanski's "Soul of Baseball." But it's even possible to overdo that. He's got recent posts on there that go on endlessly on a number of topics: guys who could have been Hall of Famers, the effects of wind on hitters at Fenway Park, Luis Tiant's 1968 season ... it's all interesting, but it's just way too much.
As with most of my stories on here, I'm not really sure I have a point. I guess the point is the blog concept is frustrating the hell out of me. Between this one and the Sox one, I don't really feel it going anywhere, and that makes it rather hard to build the momentum to write. Of course, you have to write, because that's what makes it worthwhile, that's what attracts attention and that's what gets readers.
Newspapers suck. At least if I'd managed that damn Blockbuster, I could deal with real problems, like sabotaging those a'holes down the road at Hollywood Video and trying to get up the courage to ask that Starbucks barista down the road on a date.
April 26, 2007 - Fastball? Excellent Choice, Chris Ray Something To Think About: Flavor Flav has spawned four distinct series and five seasons worth of television shows on VH-1.
At the beginning of the week, the story was that Torii Hunter had sent bottles of champagne to the Kansas City locker room, violating baseball rules.
Today, Kansas City's Zach Grienke hit Torii Hunter in the mouth with a fastball.
Hitting Eckstein -- not intentionally -- loaded the bases and, ultimately, forced closer Salomon Torres to pitch to Albert Pujols with a one-run lead. "Doesn't matter," Paulino said. "Eckstein's the guy you don't want to face there."
There's a lot of stupid stuff in this article. I am happy to say -- since I get bored of disparaging journalists only -- that most of it is said by actual baseball players. That's new and fun!
David Eckstein's career EqA is .260, which is exactly league average. Albert Pujols's career EqA is .341, which is easy, don't-even-think-twice Hall of Fame shoo-in. Anyone who ever wants to pitch to Albert Pujols over David Eckstein in any situation, including pick-up whiffle ball games at family barbecues when Pujols has dengue fever and Eckstein gets to use one of those over-sized red bats while Pujols has to hit with a live cobra, is a goddamn moron of the highest order.
I decided. My favorite part of Fire Joe Morgan is the metaphors. Seriously. Dengue fever? A live cobra?
That's a gift. A gift used for good, no less.
April 25, 2007 - Duck and Cover Tonight's MLB.tv Moment: Though I don't have the exact quotes, during tonight's Dodgers-Giants game, Vin Scully described the large tattoo on one of Rudy Seanez's upper arms to his audience:
"It's an underworld fantasy ... a host of otherworldly delights."
Mixing in the references to all the skulls and colors -- it was outlined one day, and colored the next -- it was told in the perfect "I'm an old man, and well aware how absurd it is I'm telling this story" tone.
I really don't want to imagine a world where Vin Scully can't broadcast baseball anymore. I find myself listening to him and accutely noticing if all his in-game descriptions are accurate ... all we need is for him to start slipping in his ability to call the game, leading to the inevitable kick-up of Kevin Kennedy and Steve Lyons to the booth.
As you can see, I'm very passively defensive about my NL team.
The story of the day on Thursday, thanks to better-at-hockey baseball analyst Gary Thorne, will be whether or not the red stuff on Curt Schilling's sock during the 2004 playoffs was actually blood. And that if it was actually blood, whether he put it there as a publicity stunt.
I've never been happier not to be a member of the traveling media.
In other news, I was swore at tonight for editing a writer's story. I don't so much want to make a big deal about it, I just want to remember it happened when year-in-review time comes around.
April 24, 2007 - We Work The Easy Part So tonight, after being told about parkour and learning that I can get myself onto the roof to put my head through the newspaper's sign, I got to visit our printing facilities in Funtown.
These could all very easy be related, but I have so many fingers that I like. It's best I keep them all, I think.
I really wanted to take some pictures of the press, which when whirring is a technical marvel rivaling anything I've ever seen. But considering most of the operators over there had no real idea who we were, it didn't exactly seem like the best idea.
They wouldn't have come out, anyway. Understandably, it's a rather large apparatus.
April 23, 2007 - Breaking My Vow If I may, and I fully admit this was noticed by someone else first, a comment from Curt Schilling's latest post on 38Pitches.com.
Hi Curt did you hear about the Blue Angles plane that crashed in Beaufort SC on Saturday at the Air Show that killed the pilot? Could you keep his family in your prayers Curt? Curt would you like me to email you some photos that I took from the Air Show so you can show your children. Can I have your email address so I can do that? Send me a personal email to me at email@example.com OK Curt. Why do things like that happen Curt? I wish this world was a lot better like the Virgina Tech shooting, and September 11TH 2001. I wish this world could be better and there is a lot of violence every day. I wish God will make things and the world a lot better. Great game tonight and I am very glad the RedSox beat the Yankees three games in a row. I emjoyed seeing Joe Torre with a grim face on ESPN tonight!!!!!!!. Take care and tell the team have a great week Curt. Keep this blogging up and I enjoy reading your comments. God Bless you the rest of the team and your family and the rest of the familys on the team.
Your thoughts are welcome, because honestly, I can't find any. And please do not construe this as an act on those with strong faith. I have every belief these sort of behaviors leaks into other aspects of skinnyman2007's life.
Did I ever regularly refer to the Red Sox as 'we' or 'us'? A good number of you have known me long enough to perhaps be able to tell.
It's actually reached the point now where it makes my skin kind of crawl. Just sticks out, like with my friend Lisa, who will without fail correct improper use of the word "good." For example, "things went good" is pointed out to actually be "things went well."
Come to think of it, I'm pretty sure I've stolen that one and now do it myself as well. No wonder I find friends saying things to me like, "Oh, don't worry. We've known you were an asshole for years."
April 22, 2007 - Homers 5, Foul Balls in Press Box 0 Forgotten Highlight: When my talk at Tabor Academy was done on Friday, the kid who'd clearly been the most interested in what I had to say came up to ask one more question on his way out the door.
"What do you think of Bill Simmons?"
If only Nick were still with us, or better still, a camera I could have given one of the "Jim from 'The Office'" looks into.
I told him the truth: "I still read him all the time, maybe more than any other one writer, but I just don't think he likes sports anymore." He also seemed like the kind of kid who doesn't watch a lot of "Real World-Road Rules Challenge," so we had that in common.
-- Like Remy's, but less popular with buyers.
Any day where I get three stories filed before the game's actually over -- even if I did just find some errant words in one of them -- is a very good day.
Technically, the third story was only like a half-story, compiling all the various historical nuggets from the back-to-back-to-back-to-back binge. Paul Foytack, call your agent. You're back in the papers.
When the Dodgers did this last year, most of my initial gushing was directed at Vin Scully, who not surprisingly didn't bollock up the call with unnecessary verbage. Tonight? I've already seen the SportsCenter rehash of it, and thankfully, Stuart Scott is on the case.
Did he use the words "holler at a playa if you see him in the street"? Of course he did.
That three of Chase Wright's four gopher-ball pitches were horrendously bad, high, offspeed garbage in no way takes away from the achievement. It wasn't so much surreal as it was going on as completely absurd. Manny Ramirez hits an absolute bomb between the light tower and the Volvo sign in left, and that's nice. Drew, who I didn't remember had been part of the L.A. run until an inning later, clears the Red Sox bullpen.
Then Mike Lowell's first is rocketing out, and I'm thinking "can you even imagine if they get the fourth." Two pitches in, Varitek.
These were instantaneous home runs, which I'd imagine you could even sense on television. They were all out by a lot. Then Wily Mo Pena's up, as likely as any other guy to hit a ball to some absurd place on a bad pitch. He weakly fouls a ball down the first-place line, and the whole park just groans.
I can only hope Joe Morgan didn't ruin it, though the fact Julie has already taked to me about "the color guy" being "kind of a jerk" throughout the whole game warms my heart.
I'm six games into my season, and have seen three absolute classics -- King Felix's one-hitter, the comeback off Rivera and this. I can think of nothing else to say.
-- Fortunately, sports radio is there, saving discourse as only it can.
April 21, 2007 - Smashing And It's Not Even My Fault: Julie noted to me this afternoon that her father, after seeing the headline "A-Bombs Remind Us Of A-Rod's Talent" on my column from Friday night, said such a reference could be deemed an insensitive remark given there are now two Japanese players on the Red Sox. I don't think he actually felt it was, but was just looking out my best interests.
No reader has actually said anything to me about it, which is doubly good -- not only don't I write my own headlines on from-the-game Sox stuff, it's a well-placed reference to Yankee radio man John Sterling's ejaculatory Alex Rodriguez home run calls. If I could find audio, I'm not even sure I'd post a link to it.
This is much better than the last time something like this came up. Matt Clement, as many of you know, took a line drive to the temple in July 2005. Upon his return to pitching, me being me, I wrote:
"In a world where the first-place Red Sox have survived without Curt Schilling the starter and Keith Foulke the closer for more than half the campaign, the loss of Clement could have easily proven a death knell."
Because you always want people to perceive you're making light of a man almost being killed on the mound.
Good is a day where you get to the park early enough to get settled, and have plenty of time to write during and afterward.
Beckett Battles Through A Challenge -- I really hope people are actually getting something out of the pitch data stuff I've been trying to pepper in lately, because it really makes it hard to do a whole lot else during the game.
Great is meeting up with people afterward, and using the late afternoon start as an excuse to all but close Boston Beer Works.
Awesome is getting back to my car and not only noticing that it's been ticketed, but had one of its back windows smashed in what apparently was an attempt to steal an empty bag out of the back seat.
-- Oh, wait. That's not awesome at all.
At least, I presume they were going after the empty bag, which probably looked valuable from outside. Whomever did it didn't actually take anything, which I suppose makes it possible it was some drunk jackass getting too demonstrative, but that wouldn't explain why they unlocked the door after smashing the window.
I'm more annoyed than anything else, given it's the smallest window on the car, they didn't take anything and I live about 1,000 feet from the biggest glass place in the city. Plus, I'm guessing this is somehow covered by insurance.
And on the plus side, it makes the day's prior holder of "Saddest Story" that much easier to take. Sitting in the front row of the box with the windows open for the first time this season, David Ortiz fouls a pitch roughly two feet to my left right before he hit his home run.
Now, there's another guy sitting in the seat next to me, but I'm clearly more concerned about catching this ball than he is. So I reach out with both hands, though I can't actually slide over and get in a good spot to catch the thing.
It hits mainly my left ring finger, bounces off, takes out the coffee cup of the official scorer and ends up down by him. Ultimately, I don't even get the ball, because the day's scorer -- who also was in the vaunted pick-up game in Florida -- thinks the guy next to me is the one who got a hand on it and offers it to him.
Unlike Zack Hample, I remain at one ball and counting some 150 games into my life. The karma probably worked out though ... the scorer ended up with it, and I think he has kids who will fill the role of "if I ever catch a foul ball, I'll give it to a little kid" in the story I tell myself.
Yeah, because that's what I spent the next two innings thinking.
April 20, 2007 - Smoking I Don't Know Why This is Funny:
-- Red Lobster Gift Cards
Proximity to the sea, and places where you don't have to go to Red Lobster, is a possibility. As is the idea there's not a Red Lobster anywhere near Whale City. But generally, I'm thinking it's just because I'm an idiot.
Shockingly, the materials I culled together in the early morning hours today saved my presentation to the 11-person class at Tabor Academy. As usually happens, there was one kid who saved the day by asking a boatload of questions, and a couple others who allowed me to tell exciting stories like "The Time Mark Redman Was An Asshole" and "The Time Kevin Millar Was Trying To Find Jim Donaldson To Berate Him Publicly."
I resisted the urge to work in "The Time Coco Crisp Called Me Useless," and completely forgot about "The Time Some Local Street Ballers Almost Beat The Bag Out of A Current Red Sox General Manager."
There's talk -- obviously initial, given this was hours ago -- of me possibly returning again later in the semester. I would have no problem with that, since I've both never forgotten how to be coherent/presentable at 7 a.m. and I felt in no way intimidated that I was the only person in the person who wasn't wearing a sportcoat.
On the way out, the professor made sure to tell me to "have fun tonight."
Turned out to be pretty easy, didn't it?
Cora Nation: Sox Use Five-Run Eighth ... -- When the rally made everyone blow up their Alex Rodriguez stories, suddenly making my other story a gamer made a whole lot sense. So much sense, I wouldn't have thought of it had it not been suggested to me.
Sadly, I did not get to tell my readers about the Yankees bringing up Colter Bean at the expense of Darrell Rasner. They're just going to have to deal with it.
April 19, 2007 - Hey, Look! Runs! Channel Flipping Has Ruined My Childhood, After The Fact: It's my own fault. Fergie was on some show being interviewed, and I froze for a moment. Perhaps subconsciously, I thought she was going to promise never to speak again.
Instead, I learned something I really wish I'd never known. As a child, Fergie voiced both Sally and Lucy in a variety of Charlie Brown specials and films.
The very sorts of movies I grew up on, mainly because Matty Cooch was a complete Peanuts freak in his youth.
I'd rather have found out Doritos cause baldness, broken laptops and Boston College national championships.
Right there with you, boss. Right there with you.
The Photoshopping of Fergie's head onto Sally's body would have been more traditional, but really, I don't want to go down that road again.
Or pull up a Fergie image search. I'm already feeling queasy between the Chinese food and the impending talk at the big-money prep school down the road.
And no, I'm not going to post the Genie picture again. It's become clear I enjoy it far more than anyone else.
April 18, 2007 - Some Runs Would Be Nice Mike Lowell Wouldn't Be Happy: I'm guessing Cuba in the '50s didn't feature a whole lot of high-definition TVs playing the Red Sox game, but this appears to have the food down. Given my extensive knowledge of Cuban food, of course.
The shame in eating what we ate, aside from the extra bowl of beans and rice being a poor choice, is that the sampler was very good. So good, I'd like to actually know what most of the things I ate were beyond "the stubby little spicy fried thing," "the hush puppy thing with what might have been pork in it" and "the big flat breaded plantain thing."
Though I suppose it's probably for the best, since I'm guessing the Goya alternatives available at my local megamart are the culinary equal to the 7-Eleven Go-Go Taquito.
The Bar By The Cemetery: So tonight, I went to a rock show. Don, in my honor, played both "Wonderwall" and "Don't Look Back in Anger" by Oasis.
I guess I really am that simple. Especially since I was laughing about the inevitable song choice before he even began playing.
Rutgers women's basketball coach C. Vivian Stringer has signed a deal to write a book about her life, set to be published next year.
. . .
Stringer, 59, began working on a book proposal last year, basketball team spokeswoman Stacey Brann said, though negotiations with Crown did not start until last week, according to Constable. The amount of Stringer's advance for the book was not disclosed.
. . .
Stringer is the third-winningest women's basketball coach in NCAA Division I history with 777 victories and is the only coach to take three different schools to the Final Four. She has overcome several personal tragedies, including the death of her husband in 1992.
"The reality is that she has led an extraordinary life and is very inspiring and a role model for women,'' Constable said.
So, does she send Don Imus a subtle thank-you note? Or do they just work on some sort of press-conference wink that'll get the message across?
And no, I don't feel real great about the sequence of events that has me appearing to be on the side of Don Imus, reformed drug user and guy who clearly saw his mainstream career end as it was inevitably going to. Sometimes, you just go with what you feel.
I can't think of anything offensive that could be said about me to get me a book deal. But by all means, you can all fire away and try.
April 17, 2007 - Stop The Dice-KKKKKKKKKK Stuff Virginia Tech: Just out of curiosity, and admittedly a question on the extreme fringes of a very real tragedy ... if this killing spree happened a week earlier, would Don Imus still have both of his jobs? I genuinely don't know, but I certainly know which way I'm leaning. Not shockingly, it's the more-jaded direction.
At the very least, I'd like to think certain members of the "we've been scarred for life" club would perhaps reassess something they may have said in the heat of the moment (and TV lights).
In 12 games, the Red Sox have allowed all of 32 runs. That's the lowest total in the majors, and an average of less than three per game.
They are currently SEVEN AND FIVE.
This is the sort of reactionary panic that would make for perfect column fodder were I Bill Simmons or a wanna-be Bill Simmons. In fact, I'm setting the percentage he writes some kind of column about this on Wednesday in the low-40s.
The actual me, though? I'm trying to figure out why, which is probably not so much incredibly difficult as it is something I'm overthinking by several hundred percent. If you have any particular insight into this, even something you may not think is very deep, by all means send it my way. I mean, it's going to go on the oft-mentioned Sox blog, so it's only going to be read by like Julie, Julie's family and anyone else who was swayed by the newspaper's front-page promo of the blog as something "updated almost daily!"
I was actually apologized to today regarding this promo, because apparently it was something that was supposed to be fixed, but wasn't. I guarantee there's nothing else that could have been put there that would have given me more enjoyment and also not gotten anyone from the paper severely reprimanded.
Well, maybe they could have worked up a defense for, "He thinks he's better than everyone else!" or "His disdain for you is now fully suppressed!"
By the way, this is the professor who has invited me to speak to his "Baseball in American Society" class on Friday. Which reminds me, Cooch said half-jokingly, I'm speaking to this professor's "Baseball in American Society" class on Friday.
April 16, 2007 - Tina Fey as 'Nine-Layer Bean Burrito' Red Sox: Didn't go. Didn't regret it, because my family didn't either.
And while we're here, I noticed this on a Google search as well, but had that sad moment where I realized people really didn't care.
Flashback: There's about an 80 percent chance that were I still an undergrad writing for the Daily Free Press news staff, I would have covered this story.
Though reporters are often taught to present the news objectively, Boston University students heard last night from reporters who covered Hurricane Katrina that it is difficult -- if not impossible -- to stay detached from stories in the wake of disasters.
Speaking to a crowd of about 40 students in the Kenmore Classroom Building, New Orleans Times-Picayune reporters James O'Byrne and Mark Schleifstein recounted their experiences covering Katrina and its aftermath.
It has all the earmarks. Topic that interests me, somewhat sparsely attended lecture and not a topic anyone is going to snag before it goes to the assignment editors. Throw in that I spent most of the Katrina aftermath fawning at the Times-Picayune's all-Web publications (not to mention that their name wasn't something I'd made up) and there you have it.
Course, the thing sounds like it was oppressively boring, less about the coverage and more about the lamenting. Not that I don't blame them.
In addition to trying to remain objective while reporting on Katrina, O'Byrne said they had to face other problems such as looting in the days following the hurricane.
O'Byrne said he would swiftly decide to save a victim of the hurricane in the course of his coverage, even though it would compromise his objectivity. He noted the extenuating circumstances of a wide-scale disaster like Katrina.
That things like this even need to be said is one of the things that gives me stomach pains about my chosen profession. Course, if there ever were actually a large-scale disaster at Fenway Park, I'd probably be the one collapsing on someone else, thus making the point moot.
The reviews of the Aqua Teen Hunger Force movie are not great, including some from fans of the show who felt the 15-minute episodic humor didn't work in an 84-minute film.
I definitely worried about the same thing, but really, even thinking about it that much defeats the whole reason the show exists.
If you think it's funny, if you have that in your DNA, you'll leave satisfied. If you don't think it's funny, that's fine. That may mean you're smarter, or prettier, or more based in reality than I am.
All I know is as someone who doesn't typically do much laughing out loud while watching TV or movies, this got me more than enough times to warrant $8.50. It might not be as quotable as some of the shows, but really, it doesn't need to be. It's taking a 15-minute show and stretching it into a cinematic concept. Even if you could argue the funniest thing in the whole pitcure doesn't include any of the show's actual characters -- all I'll say is don't miss the beginning or leave early -- it just works.
And by the way, bravo to Boston Mayor Tom Menino for making a half-assed attempt to get Boston theaters not to play the film. "Out of respect to the people of Boston," of course. Give the man credit ... at least he followed his flawless execution of this entire escapade all the way to the end.
April 15, 2007 - Pilaf Making Friends: So last week, Inside Baseball began with a 20-inch lede on Jim Rice ... here it be, actually. If you didn't read it or have enough of a life you don't remember every story I write a week after they're published, it rehashed Rice's controversial comments at a PawSox luncheon and praised them.
Praised being the key word. Of course, because it's me and because it's Rice, I included this throwaway line at the end:
"I don't think Rice is a Hall of Famer for on-the-field reasons, and because anyone that hallowed wouldn't need 14 elections to get denoted as such."
I went on to say that anyone who viewed his comments as a reason not to elect him is a hypocrite, but that doesn't matter. I'd done the damage. As you learn when you've done this for long enough, it's rarely the whole columns that get you in trouble. It's the throwaway lines.
Cue my two-page, handwritten fan letter from a city resident. I'm not going to scan it in, but here's some of the highlights. Emphasis is via the letter writer:
"Let me ask you this, Jonny, were you alive when Jim Ed Rice actually played? Do you know anything about sports?" -- Solid open. The use of the middle name means we'll be here awhile.
"Considering he was the most dominant right-handed hitter of his time, and my favorite player, I take offense to your opinion!" -- Hard to tell he was your favorite player. The two pages make it unclear.
"Maybe his honesty, on and off the field, threatens sports writers like yourself because he challenges you to write the truth as he speaks it." -- Maybe I wrote a whole column praising that honesty. I forget.
"You go on thinking that you're right, by voting people like Ryne Sandberg into the so-called 'Hall of Fame,' and I'll go on knowing that in my heart of hearts, Jim Ed Rice will always be a Hall of Famer!" -- That would be Ryne Sandberg, winner of as many MVP awards as Jim Rice and the owner of the highest fielding percentage ever among shortstops. Though honestly, I don't know if he's a Hall of Famer either.
"People who truly know about sports could not truly and responsibly write what you did about Jim Ed Rice! Please do a little research before attempting to state your opinions in the news paper again." -- The opinions thing lost steam in the middle, but he stuck it out.
I keep going back and forth on how to reply, though a handwritten letter back is the only form worth using. It also allows me to send my 2006 column, which is the one that actually should have pissed him off since the whole thing was about why Rice isn't a Hall of Famer.
I've said it before: all I ask is that people actually read all the words. Apparently, that's just too much to ask.
Someone needs to tell me why I'm going to wake up at 6:30 a.m. on Monday, on my day off, and drive to Boston so I can sit and wait several hours to see baseball played. Admittedly, it being Josh Beckett instead of Julian Tavarez helps. As does my father and brother going to the game, though both of them getting sauced and asking me why I won't have a beer is always older when it's happening than it is when I'm sitting here thinking about it.
I don't hate my job. I hate that I don't hate my job sometimes, though.
Contrast this with Nick, who called me from Chase Field where the Diamondbacks beat the Rockies in what MLB.tv made appear to be glorious, perfect sunshine. Here, it's been raining since I woke up this morning, with all the usual leaks in the "built too recently to have friggin' leaks" S-T pouring away during the shift.
I don't actually have a story to go with this. It was far more tortuous to be working with two people who spent the entire eight-hour shift bitching about fantasy baseball, one of whom apparently screwed up his roster on Saturday night while drunk.
This does not explain why I was watching the Diamondbacks-Rockies for as long as possible, but it certainly didn't hurt.
April 14, 2007 - Soggy In Milk Oh. That Is A Marching Band.: This morning, they rededicated the square which is right next to my apartment.
-- No, that is not my motorcycle.
Julie and I discovered this when, lying in bed with the blinds closed, we heard what appeared to be a parade going on in the street. As so often doesn't happen when people who live in a downtrodden city say that, there actually was a parade going on in the street.
I maintain it would have been a lot more fun had we not heard anything until they shot the cannon off, but ultimately, it probably kept me from crapping the bed.
Peter Francisco, as this story taught me then and this one can teach you now, was an 6-foot-6 Azorean who helped George Washington turn the tide of Revolutionary War battles and apparently helped keep the whole thing from being lost. If that's not enough for a cool looking monument in an intersection I will now forever call "The Octopus," I don't know what is.
The joke is that David Ortiz is wearing Jackie Robinson's No. 42 on Sunday so that a Red Sox player actually wears it between the lines.
I don't think I've ever seen a professional baseball player look much sadder than Coco Crisp after he declined an interview request on Friday night. He just sat in his chair and looked at the bottom of his locker, as though it was going to tell him where he left his ability to hit a baseball.
Having remembered just how good he was last spring and in the games before his 2006 injury, I'm still thinking he'll find it. Just damned if I know where.
Coming Tomorrow: The angry, hand-written letter questioning my credentials as a human being!
April 13, 2007 - 'Squishy' Is A Look Great Moments in Quarterly Printing: This spring's issue of Bostonia, the BU alumni magazine, features a full-page photo of John Curry making a save in BU's Beanpot victory. "In a dramatic finish," the caption reads, "the Terriers won their twenty-eighth Benapot trophy in February."
Sadly, the next sentence was not, "It was the last good thing they'd do all season." Would have definitely made it worth posting on the cubicle wall.
Forgotten in the shadows of the Matsuzaka-Hernandez showdown on Tuesday night was my receiving my first photo message on my new phone. It arrived while I was sitting in the Fenway Park interview room, waiting for Dice-K to come in and offer his smiling non-answers to the sappy questions asked him.
It was a picture of former boss and Cooch HOF member Jonathan Comey's baby boy, born earlier that day.
Given he (the boss, not the baby) was the reason I was sitting in that room, it made for a nice little moment I could share with no one at the time.
April 12, 2007 - Japanese Reporter Swearing Payback: For every Daisuke Matsuzaka vs. Felix Hernandez, there are days like today, where I went against my better judegment, drove to Boston on my day off, saw no baseball and wrote nothing. On the plus side, my laptop's relapse into its non-working state could not have fallen on a better day, especially since my new seat makes it much easier for me just to throw the thing out the window on a moment's whim of emotion.
Speaking of, a guide for you to either catch me picking my nose on NESN broadcasts or wave at me when you're at a Sox game this season.
-- AP Photos, my meager Photoshop skills.
This took far too long to do, given the finished product.
I have a Don Imus rant.
I'm not going to make it, simply because it's not worth it. This whole story has boggled my mind, from his comment to everything else that's come after it. Jason Whitlock, whom I don't read probably as often as I should, said a lot of things well in his Kansas City Star column on it. A lot of things well.
I guess I just don't understand how a women's college basketball team can have had their "moment" ruined by this. How all the quotes I'm reading, both stemming from their "feel bad for us" press conference to those saying they'd have to tell their grandkids about this, are real. Some over-the-hill radio jock made a mindless, factless, baseless slander against you? One that was heard infinitely more times after it'd been repeated endlessly than it was when it was first broadcast? OK.
So what? Who cares? Let the people who crawl out of the woodwork to give their soundbytes and indignance when these things happen do that. Be as smart as everyone keeps telling us you are. Blow it off, and live your lives instead of feeling sorry for yourselves about something you had no control over, and something that certainly won't stop because a cowboy-hat wearing talker had to take his ship to satellite radio.
See? Totally didn't rant.
April 11, 2007 - Worth More Than Every Penny Maybe You Just Shouldn't Work: Understand I get the concept of hype, and the fact they're simply overpromoting something which they've calculated is important enough to schedule two hours of special programming around.
Taking the day off? A "true sports holiday?" IT'S THE SCHEDULE. IT REQUIRES, PERHAPS, SEVERAL MINUTES OF ANALYSIS.
At least with the Draft, you're looking at people who might one day become the sporting heroes of you and your children. The schedule? "Hey, look. There's where my team is playing." Done. Over. Forget for several months.
But hey, whatever makes you happy. And given the inordinate amount of time spent every day on Us Magazine, it's not that hard to fathom that the release of the NFL schedule could spring something in someone's loins somewhere.
-- Only the supermarket's finest for the media. Not that I'd know anything better.
I could gush for 20 minutes about Felix Hernandez, but I already did that here earlier this week and on the Sox blog. Let's just say I'm not real pleased about the one hit, even if it did make my life much easier in the short term.
I've now seen two one-hitters, which is as many as Greg Maddux has thrown in his decorated career. I looked it up twice ... that's real.
Shockingly, my camera phone can take an action shot, if by "action shot" you mean "the ball on the first Matsuzaka pitch to Ichiro looks like a long dash." It's easily better than 98 percent of the pictures everyone else in the park took, so I'll always have that.
April 10, 2007 - USB Drives and Box Lunches Today's Quote From Yesterday, Which Actually Is In Context:
"There's a naked chick on every side! I thought it was a face!" -- Julie, at Sam Diego's in Plymouth, upon examining her large drink glass.
Her shock was far more palpable when we got home, and she saw that my having a Bank of America Visa card allows me discounted tickets to what I can't assume will end well, Legally Blonde: The Musical.
-- That's not a face a human should be able to make.
I'm not going to delve real deep, but I'm going to guess the words "wacky" and "romp" are used somewhere in the reviews of the show. Perhaps before "flop," perhaps after.
I'm not going to lie. I spent much of the past two days wondering whether I'd get a front-row seat in the Fenway Park press box this year. It pretty much was my thoughts all morning, and as I drove in.
I get inside, chat with some people and find a seating chart. I take one scan through the whole thing, and of course don't see my name anywhere.
Spend that much time wondering about it, and I skipped right over myself.
Of course, the twist to this is the Sox overhauled the press box this year, not only adding a magnificent work room in the back, but replaning the seats so that those in the forth row can now actually see home plate.
Because doing this made them rise up into the old level of the ceiling, they also added televisions in what's now a little cubby up there. So the "worst" seats are now the best they've ever been, now that I'm no longer anywhere near them.
Under no circumstances should this be construed as bitching. I'm quite enjoying that after a winter's worth of jokes about the Japanese media relegating me to being harnessed to the drop ceiling, I now sit just to the right of the official scorer, who you might imagine needs to have a decent vantage.
On a day like today, I kind of wonder why days like the meltdown I had in Florida still happen a good once a year. There's nowhere in the world I would have rather been today, to say nothing of tomorrow, with Felix Hernandez and Matsuzaka hopefully trading zeroes deep into the night. And yet, the day I wrote what I wrote in Fort Myers, I definitely felt that way. I wasn't faking it.
I made my mother cry, for God sakes. Surprisingly, that's difficult to do.
I guess it has to do with never really being satisfied, and knowing that no matter how hard I work, as one guy at a suburban paper, I'm almost never going to leave the park completely satisfied with what I've done. There's just no way I can be everywhere, or write everything, even sharing quotes. And even if I could, we probably wouldn't have room for all of it. Yet there's something incredibly fulfilling about knowing I have free reign over almost all of it, and that's it's all my responsibility.
I don't know. It's just nice to be doing it again, with the knowledge that I know I can do it and that other people know I can do it. And that had I wanted to during the opening minutes of the game yesterday, I could have walked downstairs and gotten a 1-on-1 interview with Robert Goulet.
Singer Robert Goulet performs during a ceremony held prior to the Boston Red Sox home opener baseball game against the Seattle Mariners in Boston on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
But what the hell was I going to ask him? And how the hell would I have done it without either referencing Will Ferrell or involuntarily slipping into the imitation of the imitation which comes at work at least once a month?
April 9, 2007 - Scrubs Meets Cubs What Baseball Taught Me Today: During the Cubs home opener against the Astros, which they lost, color man Bob Brenly was talking about the slight improvements to the home team clubhouse. He and his play-by-play man lamented the size of the room, and that the Cubs weren't really able to make it much bigger than it currently is.
"I wonder if (they) ever thought about mirrored walls," said Brenly, who inexplicably managed the 2001 D'backs to a World Series. "Gives the illusion of more area."
To his credit and outwardly on his own, he figured out not long after why mirrored walls would not be the best idea in a baseball clubhouse.
Shockingly, Vin Scully did not stray into such territory as the Rockies beat the Dodgers. Though he did, after clearly enunciating the last name of Colorado catcher Chris Iannetta a couple times, spell it for everyone.
I'd never noticed before that he doesn't seem to actually have a color man ... it's just him, the baseball and his stories. If I could get it piped into my car, I would.
Apparently, in Japan, it is "less than manly" to backhand a ground ball in the field. I did also learn that.
Workers prepare Fenway Park in Boston on Monday. On Tuesday the seats will be filled as the Boston Red Sox kick off their home season with a baseball game against the Seattle Mariners. (AP Photo/Chitose Suzuki)
Mere hours from finding out my press seat for the 2007 season, that's all I've got. Though I'd be lying if I didn't say the prospect of five trips to Fenway in the next seven days didn't bring a smile to my face.
One of which will include Wednesday, which will offer Felix Hernandez vs. Daisuke Matsuzaka. 21-year-old phenom, who opened the season with eight shoutout innings (on three hits!) against Oakland, meet Dice-K.
April 8, 2007 - He Died For My Chinese Consumption Remember That Time BC Lost Two Consecutive National Title Games, Thus Beginning To Build A Resume As The Buffalo Bills of College Hockey And Giving Cooch Something To Be Happy About Despite His Own Alma Mater Showing No Ability to Recruit An Offense, Meaning Next Season Should Blow Since There Won't Be A Superlative Goalie To Save Their Ass?: That was awesome.
Zach Johnson won the Masters today. Tiger Woods didn't. I will never stop enjoying that.
I always remember that on the last day of the 1997 Masters, the one where Tiger blew away the field and more or less introduced himself to the world golfing stage, I had a violent case of the flu. I spent most of the day in a blanket watching golf on the couch, only breaking up the time by sprinting into the downstairs bathroom to vomit.
I always thought that was very apropos, and that I spent most of today nursing a mild hangover from the night before only made me remember it again.
The shame is that I was presented with two tremendous meals today -- my parents made a nice brunch with pancakes, sausage, bacon and more, and Julie's family had ham, potatoes, asparagus, pineapple and probably more.
Today I comsumed some of the brunch, a roll, a slice of pie, three cans of Diet Coke and an order of General Tso's chicken.
Jesus apparently resurrected for this.
April 7, 2007 - SchadenWhoCares I was not watching live. I can't say it's because I was afraid about the outcome, or that I didn't want to see what I was pretty sure was going to happen. It was because it was the night before Easter, and pretty much the whole old gang had returned to Western Mass. and was heading to a townie bar.
As it turns out, it's probably the place where my 10th high school reunion will be, because our class has both no money and no class. I don't really care, because I'd be going it if were in a field. I'm not sure how serious I was when volunteering myself to assist with planning, but I suppose it doesn't matter. What matters is how serious Eric, who himself was roped into volunteering at a prior drinking arrangement, thinks I was.
Not the point. The point was I'd already had a good number of drinks when I saw the highlights on the bar television. I was close enough that I could make out what was happening, and who was celebrating after goals were scored, and I didn't want to get any closer.
It was clear the first one was a BC goal. It was clear the second one wasn't. And the third? Trumped by that now indelible image of Michigan State players leaping all over each other, and one Eagle with his face down in his arms, sitting on the bench.
-- It wasn't until later I giggled that it was with 18.9 SECONDS LEFT.
Michigan State's Justin Abdelkader, (9) watches as his shot sneaks past Boston College goalie and major jerk store Cory Schneider, center, and Mike Brennan for a goal during the third period in the NCAA Frozen Four championship hockey game Saturday. Michigan State won the game, 3-1. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
I suppose I should somehow feel a little disappointed for the conference, for the northeast and for so enjoying failure because my team was nowhere close. You could certainly make a case it's pathetic, given the time that's passed, given there's not really any real BC fans around who'd give me shit I'd actually care about.
I high-fived Matt, then Julie and I celebrated. Taco Bell never tasted so good.
-- Thank you, new computer wallpaper.
Boston College's Pat Gannon does the coolest thing he's ever done -- skates away poignantly in his loser suit -- as the Michigan State team celebrates in the championship game of the 2007 NCAA Men's Frozen Four hockey championships in St. Louis. Michigan State came back to beat Boston College 3-1 to take the National Title.(AP Photo/Tom Gannam)
Least until the Terriers have me screaming it at them again.
April 6, 2007 - Welcome Distraction So in assessing that MLB.tv wasn't going to be something that made much sense for me, given I'll be able to watch every last Red Sox game wherever they happen to be, I missed something rather obvious.
The ability to watch almost any baseball game I want while sitting in the office working should not be discounted.
Combine that with the fact that after about 20 minutes of watching games tonight, all the feeds began actually showing the local commercial feeds -- as opposed to a block screen -- and this whole thing got many times more intriguing.
Course, having quality games to watch makes it a hell of a lot better. Tampa Bay got a sellout crowd for its home opener, frittered away a 3-run lead when James Shields was left in to clean up his own mess, fell behind on a Troy Glaus homer ... and inexplicably scored three in the ninth off B.J. Ryan to win 6-5.
I'm not sure this will change the fact the team's new party deck probably isn't going to be as exciting when there's 16,000 people in the building, but at least for a night, they made for captivating viewing.
-- Note to Historians: Honest to goodness, not Photoshopped. Actual sellout crowd. Apparently the fifth in 10 SEASONS.
Dodgers-Giants do all the time, as evidenced by the commercial where the next day's broadcast is actually billed with "they'll collide with the hated Jeff Kent." The Yankees don't even get that here ... it's pretty much limited to the Imperial March being piped over their highlights from time to time.
My regular Bay Area reader, is it honestly because he got in Barry Bonds' face? Just general prickitude? It was actually jarring to hear, to the point I thought I was imagining fake promos for things again.
If nothing else, it was fun to hear the TV guys come across the name Nomar Garciaparra, and determine that all the 'AR's in it made it "the perfect Boston name. They love this guy."
Regardless, the Dodgers won 2-1 in the sort of game I ran home to see the end of during the ninth-inning commercial break.
In my head, I know it probably doesn't make financial sense for me to keep this, but it definitely now seems like something to study over the course of a month. After all, I suppose if an extra $20 showed up on one of my expense reports between all the $25 parking charges I've learned how to avoid and the $9 meal charges that are far cheaper than I could get away with spending on food, no one would miss it.
I do not condone lying on expense reports, young baseball fans. This will not come up in coversation when I speak to the "Baseball in American Society" class at nearby Tabor Academy, which is apparently actually going to happen on April 20, hours before the first Sox-Yankees game of the year.
Last year's high school journalism lecture had to have been worse, given the number of students, the size of the room and that those in attendance were probably actually expecting to hear from people who, you know, don't spend most of their daylight hours playing Golden Tee Golf and Googling to see if anyone actually reads their articles.
Maybe I'll get Julie to come along and film it, under the guise that I'm havng a documentary done about me. Because that wouldn't seem too obvious.
It'll be fun, and I'll do fine. I know that. It just takes it actually happening for me to fully understand it.
April 5, 2007 - Simmons' Diary? Awful. Dice-K: I blogged a good deal already, and put together a review for the print edition which may not actually have gotten in the paper -- it's here, regardless.
Julie came home midway through the game, and noted that I was "giddy." I'd say that's a good word choice. The prospect of covering a guy who pitches like he pitched yesterday for six years, after having gotten to watch Pedro's prime as a fan, makes me very glad that my father steered me toward baseball as a child.
I'm not sure how true that is, since I don't really think he steered me toward anything and I played more basketball as a kid than anything else. But I'm clearly a baseball fan first, and he clearly is the reason I started watching sports in the first place. Course, after a day of watching pieces of various games on an MLB.tv free trial, it's pretty clear I'm not going to watch anywhere near enough to warrant paying for it.
I'm actually left wondering who on God's green earth would need what MLB.tv Mosaic actually offers -- the chance to watch six baseball games at the same time, flipping back and forth between them with the level of ease allowed by your computer and bandwidth. Is America's fantasy obsession really that bad? If so, how am I so completely oblivious?
That both my computers nearly exploded trying to run Mosaic -- including the laptop, which will now work perfectly until I'm at Fenway, logically -- makes the argument not all that important. It's only at moments like this when I realize my desktop actually is approaching eight years old, and that putting XP on it really did just make it borderline able to operate any exciting software currently being released.
-- Quiet 'Yes.'
Michigan State's Matt Schepke (24) celebrates teammate Nick Sucharesk's (not shown) past Maine goalie Ben Bishop (30) during the third period Thursday in St. Louis. Schepke got the assist on the goal and Michigan State won the game, 4-2. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
-- Slightly louder 'No. No. No.'
Boston College's Nathan Gerbe is a scrappy little douchenozzle, but despite that celebrates after scoring his first goal of the third period against North Dakota on Thursday in St. Louis. Gerbe added an empty net goal later and Boston College went on to win the game, 6-4. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Julie, bless her heart, had forgotten about college hockey during the break between UMass losing and today's semifinals. She's new to this stuff, and was being kept busy by an auto salesman trying to sell her a 2005 Chevrolet Aveo.
April 4, 2007 - Chicken Machine Alanis's 'My Humps': I appreciate the effort and the spirit on this, honest. It's the proverbial Johnny Cash covering "Closer" by Nine Inch Nails, except I don't get the feeling Alanis was spending Fergie's younger days outdoing Fergie on all her ugly Fergie things.
I can't enjoy it, though. It's still the same awful song, sung by someone who was her own kettle of fish when I was in middle school. Not a great beat, can't dance to it.
Won't post the Fergie photoshop again. You know where to find it.
Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory:This is not the worst first pitch I've ever seen thrown at a game, but it is closer than the actual pitch was to the plate.
Eric Davis's face says it all. Or, at least what you'd expect a guy like Eric Davis to say when the mayor of Cincinnati misses him by like 15 feet.
You want something that has nothing to do with anything? This, CLEARLY, has nothing to do with anything.
This is what I get for spending a large majority of my Web time looking at nothing but crap.
Go figure the one closest to me is the one that I'm the least interested in visiting.
Many of the area's businesses are geared toward recreational and weekend visitors from Greater Vancouver, especially those in search of cheap gasoline. The handful of area bars and nightclubs are popular with visiting Canadians, and were even more so in the days before Sunday drinking was legalized in British Columbia. The local post office rents hundreds of post office boxes to individuals and businesses from the Greater Vancouver area (including the US Consulate in Vancouver) which find it a convenient and fast way to receive mail and parcels from the United States.
As reported in National Geographic Magazine, residents enjoy a low crime rate due to the high local security presence. -- Point Roberts, which has a lot of cool photo opportunities.
Though really, if I'm still paying rent in 2016, something is significantly wrong with the system. Kind of like the idea that this area's going to have a $1.4 billion project done to benefit it.
On the one hand, it'd be nice to have the rail get down here, as it couldn't hurt the city. On the other, I will use it exactly never, even if I'm still here in 2016.
April 2, 2007 - Dreams Do Come True Couch Jockey: The commute home is far easier when you're writing from your apartment, not to mention there's less stigma about getting a pizza and buffalo kickers delivered during the game.
Curt Schilling's blog post on the day is already up. I wish I could enjoy the comments, but to be honest, they just enrage me well past the point that sort of thing should. I want to believe there are people out there who don't get that excited about feeling like they're conversing with Curt Schilling, but I know better.
Ignorance would be bliss right now. Because then I could get into the spirit of thanking Curt 37 times for doing this.
Let's make it clear. Alex Rodriguez did not deserve an error for missing a pop fly he didn't even touch in foul ground today. I don't have the rules in front of me, but I'm reasonably certain that it outlines exactly why that's not an error.
That he then followed it by striking out in the first with runners in scoring position before capping the day with a homer (to move it from 7-5 to 9-5)? That's priceless. That's "God is screwing with us" territory.
They even tried to cheer him, too. It's so cute. I love baseball.
April 1, 2007 - No Tricks, Just Wrestling The Good Wife's Guide: Apparently, it might not be real. Not sure that takes anything away from it, since the end just leaves you feeling dirty and glad you weren't around fifty years ago.
Or not glad, if you're a fan of fires, cool/warm drinks and having someone to take your shoes off for you.
Did I half-ass it? OK, maybe a little. But only a little.
I did have things to do, of course. Taking things to a level not previously seen since 1996 (I think, memory being what it is), tonight I ordered WrestleMania on pay-per-view.
The difference is ordering in on the television, and watching it on the television. I say with only moderate shame that I'd ordered the last three WrestleManias to watch on streaming Internet casts, peaking/bottoming out on when I ordered WrestleMania 21 from my almost-Times Square hotel in the hours after the Sox-Yankees Sunday night season opener.
Given I'm not even entirely sure what has drawn me back into watching this stuff on a week-to-week basis, I'll just say that I was sufficiently entertained. Though I don't think anyone back at the office went to the lengths to get it in the paper.
-- Yes, the AP covered it. I'm shocked, to be honest.
Oh, and baseball season. It probably won't be an afterthought again.